Wednesday, August 31, 2011
The really incredible things:
"Roughly the size and shape of a Smart car, and slightly heavier, Marshall's pumpkin will be put on display with the other giant vegetables for the remainder of the fair."
"The growing season for pumpkins is brief in Alaska. The titans at the fair grew for only three months, gaining 20 to 40 pounds a day."
I'm having trouble even envisioning this. The past few years, I don't recall seeing a pumpkin bigger than 500lbs. The one here is more than twice that size, the disqualified one more than three times. And to grow so fast? Man, you must be able to practically watch it get bigger! And getting the darned thing to the fair in the first place...wow.
I couldn't get a very good angle on this due to another downed power line off to the side, but here's a bit of what it was like during the hurricane. The road is completely flooded, the lake in the upper left is actually a driveway, and the tree is down in the power lines across the road. This is what idiots were out driving through during the storm.
In other news, I just got an email from Dennis at Dragon Leatherworks and my holster is nearly done and will be on its way in just a few days! I feel like a kid at Christmas, that's how excited I am!
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
Almost 100% of the town lost power. Some of it is back, but most still isn't. The first two days of school have been cancelled so far. There were a lot of trees down in power lines and across roads, as well as some significant flooding. I took some pictures which I will upload later. One house that I've heard of was unfortunate enough to get a tree through the roof. I was a bit concerned about the same happening to us, and had made a few back up plans for that eventuality.
We went out during the storm for a short walk - we were getting a lot of rain at the time but not much wind and wanted to see what sort of damage we were dealing with as the power had already been out for 12 hours. We live a bit out-of-the-way, and if we waited for the town to take care of things, we'd be waiting a long time. After the storm was past, we went out again with chainsaws and took care of clearing everything that did not involve power lines.
Even without power we were quite comfortable, mostly because we were prepared. We broke out the white gas stove during the storm for tea and cocoa, and Sunday night (after the rain) fired up the charcoal grill and cooked off all the meat from the fridge and freezer. As of this morning, the fridge was getting a little warm, but the freezer was still, well, frozen. Helped, of course, by the fact that we'd frozen a bunch of jugs of water before the storm to help control the temperature. We had a fire in the fireplace for s'mores and candles and flashlights for when it got dark. I beat everyone soundly in cribbage, then got my butt handed to me in Yahtzee. This morning we were even able to heat up water for baths.
All the stores around are out of ice, bread, water, and some weird and bizarre items like bananas. Who knew bananas were a storm food? There was a run on generators as well, and I'll guarantee most people weren't hooking them up correctly. The day of a hurricane is not the day to buy a generator, folks! As always, preparation is the key.
Additionally, there were LOTS of people out driving around during and after the hurricane. I have no idea where they thought they were going, because every single business in the town was closed. With most of the roads closed, many people came down our road who have never driven it before. Mind, this is a dirt road, full of blind curves, with a speed limit of 20mph. People were whipping through at 40+, without headlights, on a road they'd never driven before, while there were power lines and trees down all over the place. It was utter insanity!
Of course, the bottom line is that being prepared is necessary, and being prepared occurs before a disaster is on anyone's radar. Unfortunately, I suspect that this lesson will not be learned by those who most need it.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Saturday, August 27, 2011
The craziness has definitely hit. I was at the store buying tomatoes yesterday and the shelves were cleaned out. We have pretty good supplies here, but not the same as I would have at home. I did convince them to buy extra water though (before every place sold out!). We'll see how it goes. If nothing else, I'm hoping to get some great storm pictures!
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Authorities said Cano has multiple juvenile arrests. Charges have included burglary, carrying a concealed weapon, altering serial numbers on a firearm and drug possession. All have been either dismissed or no action has been taken.
First off, all our gun control apparently didn't stop the perp from obtaining a weapon in the past. After all, it is illegal for him to buy one (under federal law), illegal for him to concealed carry it, and certainly illegal to obtain one while he's a user of an unlawful controlled substance. Even after he was caught for what would is a serious felony under our current gun control act, he was apparently cut loose. Next, even banning guns wouldn't have stopped his plot, which relied on bombs.
"Mr. Cano had indeed been on our juvenile checklist in '08 and' 09. He had been arrested recently for a burglary in which a firearm was stolen, and he has some other charges such a [breaking and entering] of autos, and possession of marijuana," explained Major John Newman with the Tampa Police Department.
Cano was expelled from Freedom High school after that charge. He had started high school at Freedom as a freshman. Principal Chris Farkas said Cano blended in.
"He was not involved at anything that jumps out at me. Not an athlete or anything like that, involved those academic clubs," Farkas explained.
Farkas said he saw no warning signs, no red flags that Cano was plotting an attack.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
A few weeks ago we were called paranoid for owning body armor. The person could not envision any possible reason for a person to need such things in their home.
Then this happened:
Today I was hanging around the apartment while Chris was at work. I was lounging on the couch, playing around on my guitar whe all of a sudden I heard several loud noises. I froze for a few seconds while my brain said "Hey, I'm pretty dang sure that was gunfire. Right here."
The guitar went down and I grabbed my gun and my phone and went into the bedroom and strapped on my body armor. From the bedroom, I could hear a male and female voice, both sounding quite angry. I couldn't make out much either than cursing and the occasional "get out of here" or "I want you gone" or something along those lines. I couldn't see anything out any of the windows, and could only really hear from the bedroom (which, given the layout of the apartments, leads me to believe that this incident was in one of the rooms directly below my bedroom).
No one appeared to be injured, nor were there any other gunshots. In short order the shouting was done, several cars left the parking lot, so I relaxed a bit and took the body armor off. It took about half an hour for the police to come knocking. I told them I did hear what sounded like gunshots, and shouting, but I couldn't see anything. Interestingly enough, the officer only spoke with me and one other apartment on this floor, bypassing the other two. He also didn't appear to talk to anyone on the other floors (apart from ground floor - I can't hear if someone walks up to a ground floor apartment).
I have no idea what actually happened tonight. If I was to make a guess though, it would be that someone in one of the apartments beneath me discharged a firearm in some direction that was (thankfully) not up. Given the lack of ambulances, I'm guessing that no one was injured.
Seeing as the police response is not very fast and I may be living on top of someone whose mastery of firearms safety is somewhat lacking, I think having body armor is a fantastic idea.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
- The feds may want to cut a deal with Jaime Avila so that he will implicate higher ups or at least sing whatever song they want him to sing vis a vis Gunwalker. That is, they have no interest in dealing harshly with this particular felon.
- The prosecutor was also the lead District Attorney for Gunwalker in AZ. Both folks in the prosecutor's office are under subpeona to testify to Congress based on their involvement in Gunwalker.
- If the family are considered "victims" then they may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the US government.
Friday, August 12, 2011
http://www.adn.com/2011/08/01/1995427/trooper-shoots-armed-man-at-delta.html I am glad that our well-regulated militia has access to firearms–it prevented a crime in this case. Too bad that just about any Tom, Dick and Harry can get their hands on a gun, and then create problems for the rest of us.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Both Chris and I are trained musicians and several times have talked about how this applies to learning firearms skills. Breath control is something that translates very easily from one application to the other. Fine motor skills as well - there are a lot of people out there who aren't used to controling their body in such precise ways.
What I'm thinking about today, however, is practicing. My defensive firearms instructor used this continuum very frequently: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, unconscious competence.
Obviously you want to proceede along that spectrum and eventually end up at unconscious competence. The instructor also said that it would take tens of thousands of repetitions to achieve this, which I cannot disagree with.
I remember one moment in early high school very clearly, the moment my eyes reading music and my fingers and face and breath creating the sound all simply clicked together and I realized that I didn't have to actually think about this at all. That is the feeling I associate with unconscious competence. Now, I hadn't mastered my instrument by then (does anyone ever master an instrument? The learning process always continues) but that particular aspect of it had reached the desired level.
Today, I looked back at how I got to that one moment. Years. To master that one skill took five years of practice. Now mind you, I'm a bit on the lazy side. I was not and am not one of those people who practices for hours a day. To be honest, during that time frame my parents were satisfied if they could bully me into practicing once or twice a week. But it wasn't just the practice. From the get-go, I had private lessons once a week. I had rehearsals for school ensembles every day, after the first year. I had rehearsals for an out-of-school ensemble weekly. I might not have been practicing every day, but I was certainly playing just about every day, and that counts as repetition as well (so long as you're doing it correctly). Now, if we only count the school year (I didn't play nearly so much in the summers), that's about 289 days a year. Let's say the first two years were only a quarter of that each, so 80 days the first two years, 289 the next three. That's 1,027 days, about an hour a day. That's how long it took to reach that unconscious competence for that one particular area on my one particular instrument.
That's a lot of time.
I don't put that much time into shooting. I bet most people don't. Shooting is more expensive. It's more time consuming.
These days, I tend to leave my instrument sitting out on a chair, so that as I walk by I can simply pick it up and play for five or ten or fifteen minutes and then continue about my day. The time adds up - not as much as when I was in school, but enough to maintain the competence I've already earned.
Shooting is different. Obviously I can't just leave my gun sitting out and bang out a few shots a few times a day. Also, I haven't yet earned that level of competence with my firearm that I have with my horn. But how do I find the time to put in a thousand hours of practice? I'm an adult now, with grown-up responsibilies, and when the range is forty minutes away, an hour's practice becomes three hours really fast (and gas is expensive!). All that lead is money that I'm shooting downrange as well. When I blow a few notes in my horn it doesn't cost a penny, but the ammo adds up.
As I said earlier, I was not a "practice every day" girl. But I still got those playing hours in, and this was how:
Lessons. In music, this was once a week for an hour. In firearms, that's probably not reasonable, but taking a class every now and then is. Classes are expensive, but they give you a lot of time with the gun and expert advice to boot. We've been pretty good about this.
Ensembles. This was the best thing that got me playing - even today, I try to always be playing with some group that meets once a week. I can block out one evening a week and put up two or three good hours of playing. For firearms, maybe this is some sort of shooting club or some IDPA or something along those lines. Maybe it's just you and your friends agreeing to go to the range every Saturday morning for a few hours. Being responsible to the group is more likely to get you out. This is something I need to try more. I had a goal of doing some IDPA while out here, but that's fallen to the wayside.
Practice. Yeah, I hated it as a kid, but there's really no way around it. To head off the time and money issues in the firearms arena, it seems like dry-fire is the answer. No lead expended. No need to drive to the range. The biggest issue here is to make sure that you are doing this safely. Better people than me have written all about this, so I'll leave that to them.
I've only been shooting for two years at this point and most of my skills are either consious incompetence or conscious competence. Sometimes this is depressing, but coming back and thinking about all the hours I put into my horn to get where I am brings it back into perspective. I just need to apply those lessons to shooting.
I think it's time for some dry-fire.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
I was flying out of a major US city and thus the two lines both went through a rapiscan full body imager (you know, the ones that apparently might give the employees cancer). I normally opt for the pat down. First, I am in favor of anything that is personally uncomfortable for the employees of TSA. I like to make them work harder, I like to look them uncomfortably in the eye while they are forced to deal with me, and I want them to be personally involved in their work. This is best done via a pat down. Additionally, it gums up the works in a fairly subtle manner -- thus inconveniencing all the other passengers and making the American people dislike TSA even more for delaying them. Finally, there is some PR value to making myself -- a clean cut business traveler -- a subject of an invasive and public search. It obviously isn't as dramatic as when TSA assaults a rape surivor, feels up a nun in a wheelchair, or separates bawling toddlers from their mothers, but still, it can't hurt for people to see the absurdity and indignity of these searches.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
- Temporary Green Power Financing
- Renewable Energy Program
- Energy Efficiency Fee
The first one, TGPF, is a "temporary charge to foster the development of new alternative energy projects in Nevada." Ok, that's nice. But let's keep going here.
REP is basically a charge to me to pay for the rebates offered to people using solar and wind power. Let's put that together with the first one. I'm paying for them to develop alternate energy projects which they then offer rebates for, but I also pay for those rebates.
Right. But wait, it gets better!
Now we have the EEF. This is a brand new fee, just started this month. The company says ": A charge to recover costs and other expenses associated with Energy Efficiency and Conservation Programs" So your energy efficiency programs can't pay for themselves.
Of course, then there is also this little thing. "The state’s electric company wants to raise power bills by as much as 5 percent for Southern Nevadans as compensation for the loss of electricity sales because customers are more power-efficient"
There we have it, folks. Be energy efficient, and pay more money! John Owens, director of "renewable green stuff" suggests that people simply conserve more to offset the increase in rates. Well, John, when everyone conserves to offset that increase, is your company just going to take it like a man, or are you going to raise rates and create more fees?
BARRIER 1: THE GCA 1968
If you review the ATF data on “unlicensed persons” you’ll find it is totally legit to ship yourself a firearm. For example, you can mail yourself a rifle to go hunting with in another state, no problem.
In theory an unlicensed person can do the same thing with a handgun. However, handguns cannot be shipped via the US mail. You have to go via contract carrier, which generally means UPS or FEDEX for most of us. Then you are bound by their corporate policies which are more restrictive than federal law. I investigated it recently and UPS (at least the branch in Alaska) would only ship to an FFL. The problem with this is that the FFL cannot transfer it to you unless you’re a resident of that state. So an Alaskan driving to Haines (via Canada) then hopping on the ferry to WA can’t mail a gun to Seattle and pick it up at an FFL there unless they establish residency in WA.
Fedex will ship guns to “licensed collectors” as well as FFLs. That includes your FFL03, even if the firearms aren’t C&Rs. Remember ,it is corporate policy, not federal law. FEDEX was willing to “hold shipment” upon arrival in Washington for a few days then let me pick them up in person as long as I showed my C&R license. They weren’t willing to hold it for long enough for the ferry trip though, and they wouldn’t agree to a pre-extension of the hold time in advance.
There is also an FFL in Haines. So I could have shipped my handgun(s) from Southcentral to Haines via UPS/FEDEX. The FFL could then transfer them to me as we’re still in Alaska. However, people have had issues with the NICS check in Haines not going through right away which triggers the 3-day waiting period. So unless you’re waiting for your ferry for three extra days in scenic Haines (it really is very pretty…) you could be left in the situation of needing to catch the boat before the clock runs out.
BARRIER 2: CANADA
Canada's website makes the process sound reasonable. It is not.
First, any handgun is restricted or prohibited. One of the criteria for prohibited is a short barrel. So, a S&W M&P compact — totally legal in Kalifornia — is verboten in Canada. Prohibited means there is no way you’re getting it into the country.
Restricted guns require an Authorization to Transport. This requires you to either show up to the Customs point or office to pick up the paperwork weeks/months in advance, precoordinate via phone with the Chief Firearms Officer, or show up at hte border, declare them, and hope that they can get the CFO on the phone for an ad-hoc teleconference (and if they can’t, you’re stuck).
I tried 2-3 months in advance to coordinate with the CFO to bring restricted firearms through. The problem is the only phone number they give you leads you to a 1-800 number style answering machine. They are pretty good about calling you back but they are terrible about sending you the paperwork you need to complete and send in. I got the feeling that the program was underfunded and not a priority; given that some of the provinces don’t even bother enforcing the laws I can see why (and thus they only apply to Americans I suppose). Yukon Territory doesn’t even have its own CFO; it has to share with BC.
I ended up just hand carrying and declaring my excess quality ammo and not bringing any firearms through. Maybe if you started the process six months out you could get it done, and it might help if you’re willing to drive out into the middle of hte wilderness to talk to the border people in person, or if you can afford to delay for a few days on the border for your ATT to go through. Of course, there is a stretch of “no-man’s land” in between the US and Canadian checkpoints a few KM in length so you’d have to leave the US and enter Canada to even talk to their border agents.There are only a few ways to get handguns from Southcentral Alaska to the lower 48.
- Fly with them in your luggage.
- Hand carry through Canada with an Authorization to Transport; no "prohibited" weapons need apply. Start coordination EARLY (a year out would not be unreasonable).
- Ship them via contract carrier to an FFL in another state. Change your residency to the other state so the FFL can transfer them back to you.
- Sell them and buy new ones in your new state (if you are switching residency and not just visiting).
- Ship them to yourself -- not an FFL. Based on my research, this can pretty much only be done with FEDEX. FEDEX will only help you out if you hold a FFL03. No, they don't care that the guns you're shipping aren't curios and relics. They also don't have to ship them to the address on your C&R. Nobody said the corporate policy made sense.
- Ship them to an FFL in Haines, Alaska and pick them up before you get on the ferry. Plan an extra 3 days in Haines on the off chance that NICS is down and your check doesn't go through instantly.
- Book passage on the cross-gulf ferry. They just started running those again regularly this summer. However, due to demand, they booked up right away and are hard to get spots on.
- Leave them in AK (or sell them) and buy a C&R defensive sidearm in the place you're visiting. I actually was thinking hard about just picking up a CZ-82.
Monday, August 1, 2011
The performance report focuses on activities such as issuing licences and registering firearms. The Centre does not show how these activities help minimize risks to public safety with evidence-based outcomes such as reduced deaths, injuries and threats from firearms.Pretty much the only people that the laws seem to apply to are Americans traveling across the border.