29 June 2009

I really hate to hear stories

like this. Really short version: 5YO finds gun in home, shoots self in stomach, now dead.

[Engage rambling speculation completely devoid of any first hand facts. ]
Why is these things always seem to happen when dad is at home babysitting the kids? Last one of these was back in February. Allow me to quote from back then:
Why does this smell like dad was screwing around cleaning his gun, shot junior, then blamed it on the 2YO? IFF this is the case, I don't know how he can live with himself. I can't imagine enough alcohol BP Meds in the world would drown this memory.

Same question here, 'cept no 2YO in the picture. Instead the trigger-pulling blame is on the now deceased 5YO. Latest reports say the sheriff investigators are still investigating who exactly pulled the trigger, but quickly add "The dad is not a suspect". The follow on "at this time." was just an echo in my head.

The present story, 5YO finds gun and shoots self in stomach, is bad enough. But if inflicted by dad, how devoid of a soul do you have to be to get over that? I simply cannot fathom.

I recall back to NRA Hunter safety back in 7th grade (I think Dick Nixon was prez) and the "Rule #2" admonition - never point a gun at anything you do not want to destroy. I was thinking at the time, "that's stupid, the gun has a safety, it CAN'T go off. Why not? Sounds like great fun!" (Ok, I was far more trusting/naive back then. By the end of the course I was a believer). This was reinforced several years later taking a class in statistics (sadistics) and learning about what they called a "Type II" error. That is an error where the cost of being wrong far outweighs the benefit of being right. The book used the example of taking a picture of your child with their head in the open jaws of a live alligator (or was it a Lion?). Ok, it's a cool pic if it works. But if the 'gatorCarnivore senses the tender morsel and snaps the jaws shut on said loved one's head with several thousand pounds of force, was it worth the risk?

Pointing guns at trusting loved ones falls squarely in the same category. The "reward" (what reward, a laugh?) cannot possibly outweigh the risk. One-in-a-million?, one-in-a-billion, trillion, quadrillion, qintillion. It's just not worth it. There simply are not enough zeros in this world to put the risk/reward ratio into positive territory.

Dang! How low can they go?

This Sunday's paper included a Target insert offering the ASUS 10" EEE netbook for $249.99 including Windows XP.

Dang! My "travel laptop" is a 4-5 year old Dell with a battery that better approximates a capacitor.

Q: What do you call a laptop with a worn out battery?
A: A desktop with a lousy keyboard!

So do I spend the the better part of a C note for a new battery in a 9 lb laptop (that doubles as a DVD player), or $250 (3.5x) on a new sub 3lb unit (but no DVD capability)

It would be strictly a travel unit... The office here at the SandCastle is well flooded with CPU cycles (2.1 GHz triple core processors, x2 excluding said laptop) but a lightweight travel unit might be nice.

A couple weeks ago, Fry's Electronics had the same unit for ~$350. Now Target has the same system for nearly 30% less. How low can they go? (guessing)The Winder's-XP license is probably half of said C-note. How inexpensively can they assemble the electronics and still make a profit?

Given the current economy and infrequency of use, plus the DVD capability, I may opt for the battery. But I wonder how inexpensive can these laptops go? The Dayjob(tm) apparently requires about $15 worth of shipping containers to ship the smallest item. Run that through the profit equation and effectively nothing can sell for less than about $40. I wonder how that applies to ASUS? The shipping container is bound to be more complex, but the profit margins may be considerably thinner.

So how low can they go?

27 June 2009

June ePostal Entry

I finally made it back out to the range to shoot this month's ePostal contest. This month Sebastian conjured up an imaginative one: Flying Aces. This was my best result.

There are 10 hits, unfortunately one is a duplicate which doesn't score and 3 are on my plane so all ace bonus points are forfeit. That leaves just 6 on the "target" planes (Since most of the "target" planes are silhouettes of domestic General Aviation planes, calling them the "enemy" causes a bit of grief. But I'm sure Sebastian didn't mean it that way, so no offense taken.)

Score: 6
Class I entry, Rimfire/Iron sights
Ruger .22/45
Distance: 11 Yards (Range minimum)

25 June 2009

Tradin' Brass

I flew across town to trade brass with a fellow shooter. He had some .223 and needed 9MM Luger. I'm in the opposite condition - fat on 9MM and thin on .223. In reality I could have bought the brass for less than the cost of the gas for the trip - but making the trip was a reward in itself.

Turns out he is a postal worker. With an MP5. And now a suppressor. He needed the brass to load some subsonic rounds.
(Insert your own "going postal" joke here).

17 June 2009

We are winning

Yesterday the AZ Senate passed the guns in restaurants bill (SB 1113) (H/T Found: One troll via Sebastian). Woo freakin' Hoo! This has been a real embarrassment to the state.

As most NRA members attending the recent Annual Meeting here in town learned, open carry is legal in Arizona, as well as CCW. One exception has been in restaurants that serve alcohol. That pretty much means any "sitdown" restaurant such as TGIFridays, Applebees, Chile's or Hooters. Pretty much any restaurant above "fast-food" will a beer and wine license at the very least. Most carriers comply by leaving the weapon in their car. However those without a car close by are generally out of luck. They can't eat there.

Equally important is the response from the local news. The two stations I caught both got the high points right:
"Carry in restaurants that serve alcohol" not "guns in bars"
"carriers cannot consume alcohol" not "drunks with guns"
and "restaurants can prohibit carry with a sign".

Both station's websites reference the same AP article that uses the same phrases. Interesting even the hard left liberal rag paper of record with a local writer got the language right.

I suspect the signs is where we'll have to battle next, but it's an easier battle than state government. That's a battle we can win one one restaurant at a time. All it will take is enough people dropping off cards/fliers explaining the money their sign has cost them.

It may also be a win for locally owned restaurants over the chains. Large chains tend to have company policies towards guns more oriented towards limiting company liability than employee and customer safety. Locally owned restaurants, where the owner is on premises and the skin that is saved may be his own, are likely to see the light. Coincidentally the same news report carried the story of Jenkins Hightower who robbed a local restaurant at gunpoint and ended the deed with a shot to the manager's back (fortunately he survived). Jenkins take: $250 and now 10 1/2 years.

Here's the facts. Only law abiding customers will abide the "no carry" sign on your door and leave their weapon in the car. Personally I'm not going to leave my gun in the car, I'm going to take my family elsewhere. Bad guys intent on mayhem will take such a sign as an assurance that customers are disarmed and they won't meet substantial resistance. Such criminals are only hindered by force. It could be a policeman's gun if someone gets off a call to 911 and we all survive the next 5-8 minutes, or it could be a "zeroth" responder. That is, some one already on scene. First responders have "to respond". zeroth responders are already on scene when the bad deed goes down. (IOW, response time = zero).

16 June 2009

BS only hurts your case...

He really said it. In KPHO channel 5's reporting* in regards to the Zicam issue a local resident says "I still can't smell smoke, uh I can't smell electrical fires, I can't fly solo airplane anymore."**

As a pilot I've been through a many FAA Medical exams and NEVER been given a smell test. Medical requirements for pilots are laid out in 14CFR67 (Formerly know as FAR part 67). None of the requirements require any "smell test". Seems to me (a pilot but not a lawyer) the only provision that could be used is 14CFR67.313 which says the Doctor can deny a medical for any reason he deems unsafe. The catch is that you pretty much have to beg the Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) for such a disposition. The AME will not ask "how is your sense of smell". It's only if you say "Gee doc, I can't smell smoke, nor electical fires. I think this might be a safety of flight issue in the cockpit" that an AME would have any reason to take issue. I suppose in that case the AME could issue a medical with a limitation to the effect "must take a passenger with a working nose", but I've never heard of such a thing.

In my opinion, that statement is 100% USDA grade A BS. I'd further wager your lawyer gave you the talking point and pointed you at the camera. Better hope I don't land (pun-haha) up on your jury.

(standard disclaimer - I'm not associated with the ZiCam company in any way, save that as "paying customer".)

* I don't think this is a permanent link and I can't find same. Suggest searching for "nasal spray warning hits home for valley man".
** The wording used is somewhat awkward. A pilot would say "I cannot pilot an airplane anymore". And even that does not capture the full deal. Solo means you're the only person in the plane. However I blame this on the pressure of the cameras.

11 June 2009

June ePostal match

I hit the range last weekend with the intent of shooting this month's ePostal match. Sebastian has come up with a creative contest involving airplanes. I'm gonna say +5 cool points for the creative contest with a cool theme! I had 10 targets printed out for the attempt.

On scene at the range I realized I didn't know how many shots were allowed on each target. I phoned home, but the SCQueen couldn't find the answer. I guessed 15 was allowed (that's all a past participant or two would need for a perfect score). I need all the help I can get. The correct answer is 25 *25* TWENTY FIVE SHOTS ARE ALLOWED on each target.

Here we have a good example of how not to shoot the match (as always, click on pic to enlargify). This target has has four hits on my plane and one enemy blimp so it would score a one. My 15 shots were aimed at the 4 targets above and 7 below my plane. NEVER at the planes between the wings... So even that one hit was just luck.

Ammo is scarce in on the shelves, but this is worthy of a digging into the reserves; surely better than just blasting holes in paper. This sucky target scored a 1. My best score on the first 10 tries was a 4. But I was only shooting 60% of the available trys and I never scored high enough that the penalties kicked in.

I'm gonna print out a dozen targets and try again this weekend with 25 shots on each. You should too!

BTW, as a tiebreaker, Sebastian could have asked for id's on the silhouettes used as targets. (Hint: Piper Cherokee:front quarter & top view, Cessna 210 (top & frontal view), Mooney (guess model 201) and I'm guessing the blimp is a Goodyear)

04 June 2009

Tailwinds, Cloud Dancer

'cept for takeoffs and landings.

Today we learned David Carradine apparently took his own life. Now I don't usually get too worked up about celeb's offing themselves, but David played his roles effortlessly. He didn't act a part, he WAS the part. It was all very natural.

I have no speculation on the actual story of his death, but color me skeptical. Skepical as when people die while in 3rd world countries under strange circumstances. These stories have the hollow ring of an official explanation that can be bought for a sawbuck.

'Tis also possible he received some news he wasn't willing to deal with. Heck, a relative when told "you have cancer" responded with "Ok. get me my gun. I'm not going through this!" There are just too many possibilities...

I don't know but then I don't have any skin in the game either... Just color me skeptical...

Most news stories offer up his roles in "Kung Fu" and "Kill Bill" as examples of his life's work. But I'll always recall the lesser known "Cloud Dancer".

Cloud Dancer tells the story of a competition aerobatic pilot with the predictable love interest and a subplot into creative financing via drug smuggling. It's of particular interest because it was filmed nearby the SandCastle at an airport where I used to base the airplane. Then the plot talks about the next competition across the country... which was filmed at the airport next door, less than 10 miles away. Heh... Back then both airports were "out in the middle of nowhere." Heck, it wouldn't surprise me if the airports were served by dirt roads! However suburbia has enveloped both in the last 30 years.

I guess the flick didn't do too well as it's practically impossible to find in the rental stores and only rarely shows up late at night on the movie channels. However when I mentioned it at lunch today, he SCQueen took it as a mission to find a copy. And she claims to have scored! My Birthday is coming, but I'll have to wait until then to re-see the flick!