26 February 2013


I need to host this photo of pups so I'm putting it here. I'm going through photos of her and liked this one.

No Suprises

I don't put too much stock in what the American Public believes. National elections should be enough to disabuse you of the quality of groupthink and if that's insufficient, there's always this.

A survey indicates that 58% of Americans believe in a correlation between video games and teenage violence. It's an easy correlation to make. Teenage kids play games and sometimes they are violent. They also ride bikes. BIKE RIDING IS CAUSING VIOLENCE. What?

These types of polls are garbage (which Americans? What kind of violence?) but I always wonder what adults blamed the violence on before video games. Probably drugs in the 70s, rock and roll in the 60s, television in the 50s, war in the 40s, poverty in the 30s, women's liberalism in the 20s, war (again) in the teens, etc, etc.

I don't have the energy to look up any of the infinite examples of teenage violence that predate video games. The entire notion is absurd and lazy. Oh, your perfect angel is acting like a shithead? I wonder what the cause is? It must be some external factor completely unrelated to you and/or your parenting. Except: No. 

If you're worried about your kid behaving violently because he/she plays violent video games the problem isn't the game(s), the problem is you.

24 February 2013


It's been a difficult time.

Thanks for your birthday wishes last week.

22 February 2013

22 Minutes of Heat

Big Cheese sends this to me long, long after it's been available. Why not sooner? Just didn't care enough I guess. Bad friend. So it's a couple years old. But: it is outstanding.

Go here and download it immediately if not sooner: 

And because I know how you like to be kept up to date, go here to listen/download the mixes from 2012:

And now you can ignore that hot mess until 2014.  People talking about how much people are talking about music? Too meta. Shut up and play the hits.

21 February 2013

The People Have Spoken

The Readership (rightly) pointed out that the blog had become a bit one-dimensional.

They also pointed out that it was probably because I don't feel like writing about what's going on with me on the day to day. And it's true: I do not.

I'll broaden the scope of the source material. Here's a short anecdote about Reese the Best Dog in the World:

When it was Ambra's birthday last year we went on a lovely picnic. I got a bunch of fancy cheeses, fruity summer fruits, crackers and some premium wine coolers from the local purveyor of such things and we packed it up made our way to the picnic spot. It was a lovely sunny summer day so we played ball with Reese and she ran and ran, chasing birds around, as was her wont. As part of my special gift to Ambra I agreed to scoop all the poop that day. We were at picnic place for a couple hours and all the activity really seemed to loosen Reese up because she pooped four times. Four times! Healthy poops, too. (I would know.) That girl really knew how to liven up a party. Anyway, we ran out of bags (four poops!) and I had to wrangle the last one with some cardboard and ingenuity. And dignity. As beautiful as the day was, that poop was the opposite. The things you do for love.

It's the little things (again)

I got your back
Here then is my new favorite GIF. It takes a bit to figure out exactly what happens, but they payoff is worth it. Apologies if it takes forever to load on your machine. I tried  few things to reduce load times so hopefully that will balance it out. 

20 February 2013

Not What I Expected

Supposedly the secret to a happy, contented life is managing expectation. Since I'm shit at managing expectation I wouldn't know. But it sounds right. It's got the air of truthiness.

Since today is my Special Day I'm going to finish the bag of Mint Milano Cookies that I started at lunchtime. I'll take my victories where I can find them. Beyond that, enh, we'll see.

18 February 2013

AAR: Pistol Manipulation 1.0 with Falcon Ops

Blah blah shooting classes blah reports. Needed to write this down so here we are. We'll get back to cats and stuff later on in the week.


If this is tl;dr, here’s a summary:

Take the Pistol Manipulation 1.0 class with Falcon Ops. They care about making you a better shooter and they have the teaching and communication skills to do it.


Covered the basics of Falcon Ops Carbine 1.0 already so a couple paragraphs from that AAR are copied here. As before: Attempt here is to focus on what isn’t available on their website.

Same guys (Charles ‘Voodoo’ Ferrara, Anson ‘Hollywood’ Beck, plus the other instructors Senior and Hoss; all instructors are credentialed/certified), same range (Prado in Corona, CA). 8 hour course, 500 rounds planned. I will use nicknames because that is what they call each other.

27 students, 4 instructors (more on this shortly).

Cans of dip chewed: Many. If you like guns and dick jokes, spit chew and can follow the four firearm life safety rules then you will be right at home with Falcon Ops. Also popular: the f word.

They swear a lot. Like, a fucking ton. If you can’t handle 4 letter words (8 letter, 16 letter, who can keep track with the way Hollywood talks) then this is maybe not for you. And you would be missing out, because the quality of the instruction is excellent.

What constitutes quality instruction? The ability to effectively communicate and demonstrate complex concepts. At this they excel.

I liked the Falcon Ops training style very much. They want training to be safe, educational and fun. Their presentations are professional, polished and well organized. They run a tight ship, so although the environment is informal it is not casual. They talk about the difference between these two things, and proper attitude, during the mindset portion of the training (which runs throughout the day).

ESSENTIAL GEAR NOT LISTED ON THEIR LOADOUT LIST: Gloves appropriate for shooting. Sunscreen + sweaty hands + hot weather + lots of rounds = slippery hands, even for guys that had guns with custom stippling. Gloves help a lot and if you don’t have them it’s very difficult to unfuck yourself. Practice manipulating your gun with gloves on to make sure that you aren’t a mess when you get to your class.

Favorite joke of the day by far:
Hollywood: Are there any re-enactors here?

Class: [Blank looks]

Hollywood: Re-enactors? Anyone? No one is shooting a 1911? [2 hands go up] Oh, couple guys? Cool.
I about fell over laughing. They didn’t mention the 1911s again after that. As far as I know there were no issues with any of the pistols, 1911 or otherwise, over the course of the day.

Topics covered (from memory, no notes, order may be jumbled because we hit them throughout the day):
  • Mindset
  • 7 fundamentals of marksmanship as they relate to pistol shooting
  • Trigger control (this came up all day long)
  • Three Five types of reloads (admin, tactical, emergency, Russian, New York)
  • Shooting from low ready
  • Shooting from compressed ready
  • Drawing from a holster
  • Identifying a threat to your right, left, or rear, turning, drawing and shooting

We closed out the day shooting a single-elimination tournament on a dueling tree, which was great fun after a long day. Disappointingly, we didn’t get to finish it due to the class size. Speaking of class size…

Stuff to improve: Class size and instructor/student ratio. Due to a **** up on the website registration code the class was overenrolled by 5 students (about 25%). There was no way to proceed quickly without compromising safety so the pace was slow. No way around it, so some of us got to hone the fundamentals a bit more during drills. Also, we ran short on time at the end. Other than that, wouldn’t change anything.

Looking forward to training with these guys again.

AAR: Carbine Manipulation 1.0 with Falcon Ops

I spent the weekend shooting guns with guys that teach people how to shoot guns. The typical protocol for this type of thing is to write an After Action Report. This is that report. (No shit, right?) It will be of limited interest to most, so skip ahead (another AAR will be arriving soon - sorry about that) if you're not into it.

If this post is tl;dr for you, here's the short version:

Take the Carbine Manipulation 1.0 class with Falcon Ops. They care about making you a better shooter and they have the teaching and communication skills to do it.

Here's the full version:
AAR: Falcon Ops Carbine Manipulation 1.0


I participated in the courses offered by Falcon Ops this past weekend: Pistol Manipulation 1.0 and Carbine Manipulation 1.0. I’ll do an AAR on PM 1.0 in a different post. Class was 8 hours, cost was $150, and we had 18 students for 4 instructors. Recommended round count: 500 rounds. I will try and cover stuff that isn’t available on their website, so for more info on their backgrounds go there.

Falcon Ops is Charles Ferrara (aka Voodoo) and Anson Beck (aka Hollywood). Additional instructors for the weekend were Hoss and Senior. (I forget their actual names. I do remember that Hoss had a kydex holder for his can of Skoal, which I thought was funny.) I will use their nicknames here because that’s what they call each other.

The style is very informal. They don’t take themselves too seriously at Falcon Ops. I don’t mean unprofessional – they do not mess around on the range and safety is priority number one at all times. Their communication style is technical but very informal; they like to joke a lot during the lecture portions, partly to make it fun, and partly to check if you are paying attention. Their presentation and organization is very polished.

Also, they swear a lot. Like, a fucking ton. If you can’t handle 4 letter words (8 letter, 16 letter, fuck who can keep track with the way Hollywood talks) then this is maybe not for you. And you would be missing out, because the quality of the instruction is excellent.

What constitutes quality instruction? The ability to effectively communicate and demonstrate complex concepts. At this they excel.

Important: Listed required equipment is a modern sporting rifle with at least 5 mags, some mag pouches. You will have a better experience if you bring or borrow 20 or 30 round magazines. Good luck finding those now, but Falcon will let you borrow theirs so if that’s an impediment it can be worked around. If you have 10 round mags, bring a lot, and even then, figure on borrowing some and practice your emergency reloads before you get there. It will help you get the most out of your training.

Topics covered over the course of the day (partial list, from memory; note that some topics, like trigger control, were touched on throughout the day):
  • Mindset
  • Fundamentals of firing a rifle from the prone position – body position, rifle position, breathing.
  • Battle Sight Zero (BZO), we zeroed for a 50 yard point of aim/point of impact. We were able to do this on a 25 yard range using their proprietary targets, a valuable skill if you have limited access to outdoor shooting ranges.
  • 7 fundamentals of marksmanship
  • Sight over bore and adjusting for sight over bore at close range
  • Three types of reloads, with live fire practice
  • Vulnerable target areas for humans
  • Proper practice techniques
  • Basic care and maintenance of the AR-style rifle
  • Transitioning from shooting standing to kneeling
  • Trigger control
I can’t speak for everyone but the training was very useful for me. A further testament to the value of the class was alumni attendance. Roughly 1/3 of the class was alumni, working the fundamentals.

Suggestions for improvement:
Bring mags like I mentioned above. The teaching itself moves at the pace of the slowest student. That’s good for the students and also safety. With a range of skills it’s possible that some may feel like it’s too slow. If so you can discuss it with the instructors and they will adapt your instruction accordingly.

Beyond that I don’t know what I would improve. They have a program and it starts with the fundamentals that you work from the ground up.

See you out there.

*I miss pups. She would help me clean guns sometimes. 

15 February 2013

Doing it right: Hockey Fans

This is great in so many ways.
The attention to detail, the execution, the fact that Jagr saw them in the stands and had a good laugh about it. If every sports highlight was this good I would get cable again.

12 February 2013

Better with repeated viewings

Just a backflip off some stairs from one skateboard to another. 

The flip itself is my favorite. 100% commitment. Jump and rotate, locate your target, put your feet on it. No bigs.

Wrong Word: Dire // Floating Tub of Lardass Adrift in Gulf of Mexico

This from yahoo.com: Passengers Text About Dire Conditions on Cruise Ship

Wow, sounds bad. 'Dire' would seem to indicate a life-threatening or dangerous condition. From dictionary.com:  "causing or involving great fear or suffering; dreadful; terrible"

Except conditions aren't 'dire' at all. They're merely uncomfortable.  The first line of the news article says:

Passengers on the fire-damaged Carnival cruise ship stranded in the Gulf of Mexico have reported worsening conditions including scarce running water, no air conditioning and long lines for food. 

I picture the typical cruise passenger as a bloated, sunburned midwesterner, splitting his time between naps and regular visits to the buffet. The article does little to dispel this stereotype.

'Scarce running water' means no showers. Still plenty of water for drinking. No A/C is a bummer in the sub-tropics, but it's far from 'terrible'. Long lines for food? The horror! So there's food, but a line. No one is actually going hungry. Also, the waste system isn't working very well in the absence of electricity so it's a stinky, shitty mess in the lower decks. Which does sound miserable, if not exactly 'involving great fear'.

For the definitive word on big cruise ships, we refer to the late, great David Foster Wallace. The Wikipedia description of "Shipping Out" (aka "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again") says, "[Wallace] explains how the indulgences of the cruise turn him into a spoiled brat, leading to overwhelming internal despair." That sentence alone goes a long way towards explaining the tone of the yahoo article. Dire, indeed.

09 February 2013

Logic Fail, now at both the state and Federal level

I had posted this, then took it down. It's pretty wonky for this blogspace. But since the state legislators in CA proposed the stiffest gun restrictions in entire union I'm posting it again. Because the key word in "gun control" isn't 'gun', it's 'control'.


Dianne Feinstein is on a crusade to ban guns. She doesn't want to take yours away, she just wants to make them sufficiently hard to get that no one can have yours after you're dead. I confess that the difference between an outright ban and the legislation she proposes is too subtle for me. The end result is the same: a restriction on your right to own firearms.

For some people this is completely unacceptable; any infringement on their rights to keep and bear arms is beyond the pale. Others argue that these types of guns are not 'necessary' and don't belong in the hands of civilians. I will leave that argument for a separate post, but: Feinstein's proposed plan for background checks, registration and limits on magazine capacity is old news here in CA but it would be a huge change for most of the rest of the country.

My beef with the legislation is that it solves a problem that doesn't exist with a solution that doesn't work. Feinstein and her hypocritical ilk are so emotionally wrapped up in GUNZ ARE BAD that the data is being completely ignored. Also, they have somehow convinced the voting public that they and (especially) their kids are in grave danger from these modern sporting rifles (AR-15's, AK47's, and similar semi-auto, magazine fed rifles). Handguns represent the greater danger to the average citizen, but I'll leave those for a separate post.

The practical truth is that, statistically speaking, modern sporting rifles present you no danger at all.

This from the Guardian.co.uk:

Since the previous assault rifle ban expired under a "sunset clause" in 2004, Feinstein said, "more than 350 people have been killed with assault weapons and more than 450 people have been injured. We should be outraged by how easy it is for the perpetrators of these horrific crimes to obtain these lethal weapons."

Let's unpack that statement, because I think it nicely encapsulates why this legislation is complete nonsense. 

Since the original gun control legislation expired in 2004:
 Just for kicks, let's look at some big numbers: 

You can dig into the data for yourself. The short version is, why are we even having a conversation about this?

The long version is that your most likely cause of death is highly age and race dependent, but if you're a child between the ages of 1-4 it's far more likely that you will drown in your swimming pool than you will be shot with a gun. In fact it is true for most people. The glaring exception is with young non-white men, for whom dying of a gunshot wound is a legitimate concern.

The counter-argument is: well, even though the numbers are small, they are preventable. So we should pass this legislation. To which I respond, if the numbers are important, why aren't you doing more to save people from the stuff that actually kills them in great numbers? Because it's too hard? Oh. That's a good reason.

So this new legislation is not about the children, and it's not about your safety. It's about an irrational, emotional fear, leveraged to control you. If you're going to be afraid of something, make sure it's legitimate, not invented. And start banning swimming pools. Those things are DANGEROUS.

* To update information on the incidence and characteristics of fatal and nonfatal unintentional drowning in the United States, CDC analyzed death certificate data from the National Vital Statistics System and injury data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System – All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP) for 2005–2009. The results indicated that each year an average of 3,880 persons were victims of fatal drowning and an estimated 5,789 persons were treated in U.S. hospital EDs for nonfatal drowning. Death rates and nonfatal injury rates were highest among children aged ≤4 years; these children most commonly drowned in swimming pools.

08 February 2013

Stop Talking: Chief Keith James gets it wrong

This is from a recent press conference announcing proposed legislation in California that will be the 'most restrictive in the country' (says State Senator Steinberg, who is exactly the kind of person that looks like he would give a bad guy his wallet and hope he would go away before he got mad, but whatever).

In a video display sure to go down in police history as one of the dumbest fucking things a cop has ever said on camera, (corrected text) Emeryville police Chief Keith James explains that guns are 'offensive', not 'defensive' weapons. He says guns are:

"Offensive weapons, used to intimidate, and used to show power. Police officers do not carry a gun as a defensive weapon, to defend themselves or their other officers. They carry a gun to be able to do their job in a safe and effective manner, and face any oppositions [sic] that we [sic] may come upon."

Fast forward to 6:28 in the video for the key quote, or just go here.

So that's why cops carry guns: so that they can intimidate and show power. In other words, cops don't carry guns because you might shoot them, they carry guns so that they can shoot you. I never thought of it that way but it makes a lot of sense.

That's a comforting thought to share at a press conference where you're announcing a broad plan to restrict my rights as a firearms owner.

This isn't about public safety, it's about control. 

Drop Leg Holster Fail from the CA Sheriff's Department

Fitment Issues
As of this writing there is a massive manhunt for a former police officer who flipped out after he got fired. He has killed three people (so far) and wounded several more.

The LAPD and other law enforcement is, understandably, a little jumpy. In two separate incidents they have misidentified and shot up a vehicle. The passengers in one vehicle were uninjured, but both passengers were hit in the second vehicle, one critically. Oops. The women that were shot by mistake were out delivering papers in the wee hours of the morning. Note: The suspect is a heavyset black male. I think that the women that were shot were neither heavyset, nor black, nor male. But I think it was dark outside when the shooting took place.

This is a great example of the difference between cops and soldiers: cops are trained to write tickets, and soldiers are trained to kill people. (This is why the US armed forces make crappy police. But I digress.) When cops get in gunfights things tend not to go very well. They don't practice gunfighting all that much, and with good reason. The bulk of their job has nothing to do with armed conflict. They usually have teams that practice it, and that's why you have SWAT teams for pissant police departments all across the country: because men like to play dress up, and because shooting guns is way more fun than writing tickets and corralling drunks or refereeing the latest domestic dispute between the local meth fiends.

Brief aside: The comments scrolling on the LA Times coverage of the murders is astonishingly anti-LAPD. The Times coverage for the cops has been strongly pro-police, but this is not a popular view in the comments. This surprises me, because the suspects opening salvo in his war on police was to shoot two innocent people. Not exactly warrior code stuff.

Speaking of playing dress up, there are some good photos of the Sheriffs and others getting their battle gear on and doing what they do. Lots of different things stand out but the photo above highlights how NOT to wear a drop-leg holster. The guns are too low (especially at left), and the holster straps much too loose, as are the pants. If you want to know what's what, check the pro tips from Travis "Tight Pants are Tactical" Haley.* 

You might say, enh, he was in a hurry and didn't get a chance to square away his gear before he went out and started walking, blah blah something excuses something. No. Square your gear away before you go so that you can rely on it if you need it. Otherwise it might not work and then you're dead. And that sucks.

* No disrespect to Mr. Haley. He is a dangerous dude and I look forward to taking his classes some day. I will likely opt for looser pants and a belt mounted holster. You care. 

07 February 2013


The internet delivers.

Girl makes it look easy. It's a hell of a long way from easy.
I have a hard time doing that with a gun.

I like how she's surprised when she reaches for an arrow and she's run out. 

The King of Pickpockets

Apollo Robbins was featured in a profile in the New Yorker.

Now there's video of him doing his thing on the Today Show. I think this type of thing is amazing. Even people that do similar types of stuff for a living think he is awesome. He's an artist. He could bump and fumble his way down a New York street and end up with more wallets than he could reasonably carry in less than a block.

06 February 2013

GRUMPY CAT (not a euphemism)

Grumpy Cat is a Thing on the Internet.

I laughed.

Back to back Guardian: View from The Shart, I mean Shard

Samuel Johnson said 'when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.' I'm inclined to agree, and this new interactive from the Guardian is superb. It covers only a small part of what makes London great, but if you've ever been there then this is probably much of what you visited.

Also, grammar redux! The Grammar Quiz post was very popular with the readers.

Who doesn't love grammar? Well, most people have little use for it unless they're trying to communicate something effectively. English grammar is really, really difficult to master. My friend the Engrish professor teaches English to second-language learners and they struggle mightily with things that native speakers take for granted. There are lots of exchanges like this:

Student: Why is it like that? It does not follow the other rules.
Prof: Because.
Student: :(
Prof: :/


05 February 2013

Supersonic Ping Pong Ball

This from a friend of the blog. It's kind of long, but it was new to me so I watched the whole thing. It looks like a fun practical experiment.

Nailed it

The Guardian has a grammar and punctuation quiz. Of course I dropped everything and completed it immediately.

I went 14/14, although I wasn't 100% sure about the final answer so I was surprised (Gerund? What?). I thought I would miss one or two. But I'll take it.

It's not like I do this stuff for a living or anything.*

Not much else to report. At least nothing I want to put in this space. Thanks for reading.

* Not strictly true; I do this for a living.

04 February 2013