Monday, January 31, 2011

Patriot Act Abomination

Soon after 9/11 the American people gave up large sections of their rights to the government. It was called "The Patriot Act." Who wants to vote against something that has Patriot in it? Might as well have called it, "The Law That Prevents The Killing of Cute Cuddly Puppies." Or "The Community Reinvestment Act."
At the time, our leaders said it was necessary for our security. It was necessary for the defeat of the "evil-doers." Besides, the Act will never be used the wrong way, and the Act has an expiration date. We won't always have the Patriot Act!

What have we seen? The Patriot Act has been renewed time and again, we are still under its power, not only that, but we have seen more and more abuses of the Act by the FBI.
The FBI uses the Patriot Act to violate and intimidate everyday Americans. All they need to do is to say they suspect terrorism. They need no probable cause, no due process. They just say Terrorism and blamo, get all up in your Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, First Amendment, AND Sixth Amendment.

Here is the true and simple fact. Only ONE time in history has someone with absolute power ever given it up voluntarily. His name was Washington. After that, you can count on one hand the times any Government has given up a power once it has been granted. These abuses will be come more and more common place. Unless something is done immediately, the Patriot Act will be with us forever. History has proven that once a people gives up liberty, they can only win it back with blood. The first country on earth that proved that a self governing people can peaceably return government power back to the people. That is the USA. Other countries have followed our example, but it is a rare and fragile thing. Even in the USA it is very very difficult to return government power to the people. Want an example? Try to get a member of congress to tell you why we can't return spending back to 2008 levels.

Just cause George was awesome.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Back in the Air!

I did a bi-annual review today at Oklahoma Aviation. I haven't been in the air in a while, so I was a little nervous showing up.

A biannual review is something that all pilots have to do to stay current, or legally be able to fly an airplane. It is done once ever two years and consists of one hour of ground time, and one hour in the air. It is done with a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). It is not a test, it is a review, there is no grade, no official evaluation that is sent in to the FAA. All the FAA requires it that a CFI spent the time with the pilot, then endorse his log book saying that the pilot has satisfactorily completed the review. That's it. I haven't flown since my last biannual review thus the afore mentioned nerves.

What added to my nerves was that I have not landed from a controlled airport since June 19, 1992. That was just a touch and go (land, then immediately take off again). I have never landed to a complete stop at a controlled airport, and I have never, in my entire life, taxied at an airport that used ground control. I was very nervous about that. I have talked to Air Traffic Control (ATC) before, but never really landed at the towered airports.
Being from the Midwest, this is really not tough to accomplish. The vast number of airports have no tower, so VFR pilots simply land and take off. We communicate over the open frequency and do our best not to step on one another. The tower, for me, was a physical manifestation of the FAA. The cops in the air, just waiting for me to screw up so that they could write me up with a violation. Spooky.

Anyway I walked in to Oklahoma Aviation about 9am and met Marcus, the chief flight instructor and my date for the day. We started the review like they all start out, him asking me the standard questions. What are the airspaces, what are the cloud clearances, what do you do if your wings start to ice up, what are the emergency procedures if you engine catches on fire in mid air(seriously). I blow past all of these, for the most part I have them memorized and I am good to go. We pull out the map and he asked the standard questions about that. After a bit he felt that I was good to go from a ground perspective. Really there isn't much to the ground part, and the instructors really don't care much about it. They care if you are safe in the airplane. So I go out and preflight the aircraft, a 2006 Cessna 172SP. It has 180 horse, and a G1000 glass cockpit. I was really excited about this. I have been reading about glass cockpits for nearly 10 years now, but I have never had the chance to fly in one. The aircraft rental prices around here are so high that I could have rented a steam (old school instruments) airplane for $160, or the glass for $170. I decided to pay the extra $10 and fly an airplane, for the first time in my life, that was from a model year after I was born.

Cessna N9017A a 2006 172 My airplane for the day.

I did my preflight and found some differences about the airplanes right away. All airplanes have little places where the pilot, during the preflight, takes small samples of fuel to determine if the fuel has water or any other types of impurities. Look... If you have water in your gas tank in a car, at worst you are stranded on the side of the road. In the airplane you are dead, so we like to know if there is water in the tanks before we slip the surly bounds of earth.
The new 172 has 5 places to check the fuel for each wing tank. The old ones only had one per wing. Other than that, the air frame was the same, my walk around was uneventful. Time to kick the tires and light the fires!!

We hopped in and got ready to start the engine. I noticed right away that the engine start check list was different. Cessna got rid of the carburetors. The airplane is fuel injected. That is better than good it is great! I was looking around for the Carburetor Heat (some times ice can form in the venturi tube, the carburetor heat warms the sides of the tube so that ice does not form, and you don't die) no more! That is very cool, one less thing to worry about when you are taking off and landing.
Another new item is that there was an axillary fuel pump. But Cessnas are high wing airplanes, they use gravity to get their gas, not a pump. Apparently it is a new safety thing Cessna starting doing. I don't know when they started... Anyway there was a procedure there to test it before we took off.

The engine cranked to life and the real fun started. The Garmin 1000 Glass Cockpit. It was so awesome... Too awesome.... Right away I realized that nothing was where I expected it, nothing looked familiar, and I spent a lot of time just looking for the basic stuff... Like the Tachometer... Not good.

Lots of pretty lights...(click for a huge picture)

I right away I was much more distracted by the glass panel than I thought I would be. I started to think that maybe this was a bad idea. But I don't like not liking something simply because it is new and different. I wanted to step my flying in to the future and this certainly was the future.

Now the moment of truth. I told the instructor before we started about my lack of experience with the tower. He said that he would handle the radios for now, and I was just to listen and I would handle them on the way back. He said that the layout of Wiley Post airport was fairly simple so ground control was not that big of a deal.

View Larger Map
Wiley Post Airport

The biggest difference between tower controlled and non towered airports is the freedom. With no tower, pilots just jump in, crank over and head for the sky. With towered airports, they make sure you listen to the latest weather, and all of the airport information before you can get any clearances. This is called ATIS (Automated Terminal Information Service) it changes every so often and it is designated a letter. So when you are ready to start to taxi to the runway, or contacting the tower to land, you need to tell them that you have information (letter designation here). So, since we were taking off, we called ground control and said
"Cessna 9701A ready to taxi. Information Charlie"
We were then given a transponder number and told to identify ourselves. To identify you press a button and that sends a message to the radar that makes the airplane "bloom" it tells them who you are.

We were given clearance to head to the runway and complete our run up engine checks, then to contact the tower for take off. We did so and were soon ready for take off. I called the tower and told them that I was ready for take off. The tower responded that I was clear for take off and to hurry up, because another airplane was going to land soon. Yikes... I got on the runway gave full power and off we went.

I was very pleased with the performance of the 172SP. I am used to 172s being a little bit under powered. The typical power plant in the older 172s is 145 horse Continental engine, and those 35 extra ponies in the Lycoming engine really help out. Really help out. I was at 55 knots for my rotation speed (bring the nose off of the runway) before I knew it and the airplane leapt in to the air carrying myself at 190lbs with clothing, and my 220+lb instructor. It was fun. I had not expected the 172 to be so peppy so I was very very pleased.

The basics of the glass panel took some getting used to, but I immediately liked them better than the steam gauges. For one, the Vertical Airspeed Indicator (how fast are you ascending or descending) was a number next to the Altimeter read out. Very very nice, and very handy. Your eyes don't need to move as much to find the number, it is just right there. The airspeed ribbon was meh, as was the Horizontal Situation Indicator, the replacement for the gyroscopic heading indicator. I say meh, because they look and operate basically the same as their steam counterparts, except the HSI does give you an exact heading as a number not just an indicator line like the heading indicator did. The HSI also incorporates your navigation instruments, the VOR or GPS with the common floating middle arrow.
However what was really awesome was the new Slip Skid Indicator. Before you had a gyroscopic instrument called the Turn Indicator. This had a little airplane in the middle with a blob of oil floating in some sort of solution underneath it.

Turn Coordinator

The idea was to watch this bubble and put more rudder control in as that bubble moved from the center. If your ball was centered, you are "on the ball" with a properly coordinated turn (no idea if this is where the saying originated...). That ball was kind of difficult to see if you had it centered, so most companies started to put lines in the middle to make sure you knew where the center was. Basically, the thing looked like a level used in wood working. The Slip Skid Indicator in the new glass panel was a line underneath the roll pointer. If you got your roll pointer and your slip skid indicator to look like an arrow you were golden. Very easy to see, very easy to use. I liked it very much.

The final new cool thing, I didn't mess with the Multi Functional Display (MFD), was the huge artificial horizon in the Attitude Indicator. It is very easy to see if you are nose down, or one wing is dipped or anything having to do with Attitude. The old school Attitude Indicators were kind of tough to read, because they were small. In the PFD it is huge and easy to read.

The Primary flight display

Using my new tools I was able to execute my turns easily and keep them right at the degree of bank that the instructor wanted... What I did not do well was to keep the airplane from skidding. I wasn't strong enough with the rudder. Something I will have to work with in the future.

The immediate draw backs to all of this information was that I found that I had to force myself to look out the windscreen to check for traffic. The displays have SO MUCH information that you are always looking at them rather than looking out the window. Big problem, but with all things practice practice practice.

We went through the normal procedures, lots of turns, stalls and other maneuvers that you only do during a flight review. We didn't do any "unusual attitude" stuff, that kind of upset me, because I look forward to that. It is when the instructor tells you to close your eyes, then he does something funky with the airplane and tells you, "recover." You open your eyes for a quick "Holly Shit" moment, then correct the airplane as best you can. It is a lot of fun.
This instructor's view of the biannual review was to go over the basics, and make sure you can do them well.
What he did do that was fun was to fly me out west of Wiley Post, then simulate an engine out. This is standard procedure for the review, but he had a slight twist... He simulated an engine out with Sundance Airfield just off of the RIGHT side. Why is this important? Two reasons, first you can actually simulate an engine out landing and actually land. Normally when we simulate an engine out you kind of run through the motions, find a field to "land" in, and you get power back about 500 feet before you touch down. No big deal. But with the airport right there, you get to practice the engine out from start to finish, all the way to the ground really neat!
Having the airport on the right side tells the instructor if the student is looking everywhere for a good place to land. Typically the student will find a place to land off of the left side of the airplane. That is the point of view he is most familiar with. So, if the student picks a field instead of a perfectly good concrete runway, there is a problem with the student's decision making.

In this case today, I found the airport right away and was able to do my engine out landing. Lots of fun, I have never dead sticked a landing, so it was a new and interesting experience. I didn't use flaps, because I didn't need them. I needed all of my altitude and space to keep my speed up above the stall speed to make the runway and land. Challenging and fun.

View Larger Map
Sundance Airpark

After that, we did some more turns, worked on some full power stalls, and headed back to the barn. I called the tower and was told to follow a local highway until an airplane ahead of us landed. Once the airplane had landed we were cleared to land, but, just like when I took off the first time, an airplane was given clearance for take off as we were coming in on final.
I made a good landing, and was able to exit the runway on the proper taxi way. A quick call to ground control and we were back at the FBO.

All in all a good flight. The instructor endorsed my log book for my biannual review, but did not endorse my rental check out form. I agreed with his assessment that I needed more work with the G1000 and the radios in the controlled area. I am more than willing to come back and do another hour or two of instruction. For nothing else than I need the practice. It has been a while, and I have yet to really tackle the biggest problem here in Oklahoma... The wind.
For now, I am current and back in the cockpit. In a few weeks, I will crawl back in and finish off my instruction. I can't wait!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Interesting Topic At Work

A story was found on the Internet, linked to from a news site, that sparked an interesting discussion at work this morning.

The question is this:
You observe 5 workmen on train tracks. A train is coming down the tracks that will kill all 5. You have a switch next to you that, if pulled, will divert the train, killing only 1 workman, but saving 4. What do you do?

Now we change the question just a bit.
You observe 5 workmen on train tracks. A train is coming down the tracks that will kill all 5. You are on an overpass with a fat man standing next to you. If you push the fat man in to the way of the train, the train will be diverted saving all 5 workmen. What do you do?

Half of the room could be considered your typical republicans, the other half, democrats. Me in the middle.

While, most of the time one side of the room argues points with the other side of the room, this time both sides were in agreement.

Both the Republicans and Democrats would pull the switch, but would not throw the fat man over the bridge. The reasons gave were different, and interesting.

The Democrats and Republicans could both pull the switch, because it was the only way to save as many people as possible.
The Democrats could not throw the fat man over, because they would be directly responsible for the death of a person, and they could not bring themselves to do it. They empathized with the single person.

The Republicans, interestingly enough, thought more about the spiritual ramifications of throwing the fat man over, and thought that they might be held responsible for killing fat man in cold blood, however they tended to throw the man over as they thought that it would be better to save the 5. They empathised with the 5, but felt bad about killing fatty.

I, on the other hand, both threw the switch and threw the man over the bridge. For me, there was very little moral dilemma. While my colleagues hemed and hawed over their souls, or the death of the fat man, I simply did a math problem. Kill one to save more than one. Math wins, pull the switch, push tubby over.

After being called a heartless, godless monster, the real point of the moral exercise came out. The person giving out the question wanted to really find out where we stood on our political grounds. Apparently, a study was done to find out how libertarians think. I have often mentioned that I am a Libertarian, thus they wanted to confirm that I indeed thought the same way the study predicted I would. It turns out that I do.

What my colleagues found most enlightening was the study's findings about the Libertarian and altruism. At Christmas time, I was loathe to participate in the philanthropy projects that were suggested by my other teammates. Personally, I believe that most philanthropy simply reinforces the "downtrodden" to remain in their current state.
The study showed that Libertarians, on the whole, intensely dislike altruism. Not just any altruism, all altruism.
Like most Libertarians, and especially like my hero James Madison, we believe that no true altruism exists. Everything is all done for some sort of self interest. People do it to help somebody else, or they do it for a write off of taxes, or they do it simply to feel better about themselves. Therefore, if I derive no pleasure, good or service from the money or time that I will put forth, why should I participate?
I do give to certain charities, but only those that I feel I get some good or service from. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is a good example. I mostly detest the leadership, and the huge sums of money they receive out of the coffers of the AOPA, but they are the only group out there fighting for the rights of general aviation. Without them, local aviation would be a thing of the long past.

Anyway, if you want a look in to my brain, check out the study. It is very interesting.

By the way, a Democrat gets in to politics to enact social justice, a Republican to enact moral justice, the Libertarian gets in to politics to get you the fuck off of his lawn.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Go Fly, BITCH!!!

No more excuses. I made an appointment to get my biannual flight review and some instruction on Saturday. If the weather holds out, I am back in the air.
I have an appointment with the Airman Medical Examiner on Wednesday to get my medical up to date. I think the one I have is good, but better safe than sorry.

I gotta say... I am nervous. It has been a while since I took to the air, December of 2008 was the last time. I did a biannual flight review and did some fun landings.
Anyway, this will be at Wiley Post Airfield, and I will be working with ATC for the first time... Holly cow, for the first time since 1992.

So, I am going to take this review as more of a learning experience than anything else. I don't expect to solo anytime soon, I want to get some instruction and clean up my long neglected flight skills.
I need to relearn some things that I know I no longer do well. Steep turns for instance... I don't know how to do them any more. SURE I know how to turn the airplane, and YEAH I can turn the thing steeply and safely, BUT I no longer can turn the airplane steeply with out loosing a bunch of altitude, or consistently turn the airplane with out breaking out of the turn to right the nose. Not good. I need to get that skill back.

I am going up with Marcus, the Chief Flight instructor. My attitude will be humble, and I will freely admit that I have been out of the game for a long time, and I need some help getting back in to it. Last time I was coming back, I tried to be all cool and pretend like I hadn't lost a step. I was wrong, and it made me cocky and unsafe. Never again.

I am also taking up an airplane with a glass cockpit. The first time for me... Actually this will be the first time that I am flying an airplane that is younger than I am. I am going up in a 2006 Cessna 172SP. It has 180 hp, and all the bells and whistles that new airplanes have. I am excited about that.

I think it will be good to get back in a Cessna. I haven't flown one in a while, I flew low wing Pipers for a while in Omaha.

Solo Vacation

The wife and I engaged in some retail therapy this weekend in Dallas, about three hours away from OKC. During the drive we got to talking about our Spring Vacation. I had thought we were going to Japan to visit her family in Sendai, and take in the Cherry Blossom festival, or Hanami. The wife then kind of joking, kind of not, said that she wanted her mommy time, and that maybe I should do something else for that week... SWEET! What should I do?

Muay Thai -- Phuket Thailand
This is something I have wanted to do since I started training Muay Thai. I thought that I would never get the chance, because there is no way I could get the wife to go to Thailand and goof off by herself while I went and trained all day long. At best I would have gotten one day to train, and, really why do it?

Some of the best Muay Thai training is done in one of the more beautiful spots on earth:

The area of Phuket has realized that there is money to be made with the Muay Thai tourist, and offers connections at the best gyms with the best resorts. Essentially, I can train Muay Thai, at the same time take advantage of a four star resort on the beach. Not quite training in the jungle with a bunch of guys who would slit your throat as soon as look at you, but you are in one of the best resort areas of the world, why not take advantage?

Good news is that I am willing to pay for private training, so I won't have to deal with all of the first timers and what not of a "tourist" camp, at the same time attending the tourist camp.

Golf/Friend Visit -- Arizona, Las Vegas
I have several friends that I have not seen in a long time who live in the Phoenix area. I could play golf during the day, and hang out with them at night. It would be a relaxing and fun holiday.

IFR Certification -- Western United States
If I work hard before hand, I could complete my written Instrument Flight training and do this week long course to get my Instrument Certificate.
There are several programs available that literally take you around the Western US on cross country hops, doing your training the entire time. When you return, you take your certification check ride, and are guaranteed to pass. I would have to get in to the air and get my flying right before hand.

Back to the Farm -- Nebraska
I could go back to Omaha and see everybody up there... It is still chilly in April, so I might be able to do some golf, see the family, play with nieces and nephews, I could fly with dad, train at the old gym, and get some beer to bring back to OKC.

More likely though is that she will chicken out and take me with her to Sendai. I don't think that she will want to have me do my own vacation. I think she will be jealous of whatever I do, even if it involves lots of stuff she wouldn't do.

Hey You! Hippy! Yeah You With the Beard!

You think I care if you are the All Powerful God of Everything? Get off your ass, and make me a rock so big that I can't lift it!

Rest In Peace Jack... It wasn't that Jack died, it was because God wanted a work out partner that could keep up with him.

Friday, January 21, 2011

No More Ben & Jerry's For Me

No, this isn't a diet thing. Ben Cohen was on America's Morning News this morning. He is starting up a campaign to amend the Constitution. Namely, he wants to silence Corporations.

Last year, the Supreme Court actually read the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
They found that limits placed on what corporations, unions, and others spend on political campaigns are unconstitutional. If you read the amendment, this is the only finding you can get out of it. There is no wiggle room. There is no clause at the end of the amendment saying that congress can legislate this amendment. It says "Congress shall make no law..." There is no way around that.

Ben doesn't like free speech. He thinks that corporations, no more than groups of like interested people, factions if you will, should not have, or have a limited voice in free speech. He wants to amend the Constitution to this end. Not only is this directly against what the Founders wanted, Madison speaks to this directly in his famous Federalist number 10

Says Madison:
There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.

Ben takes the first approach, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence. To this Madison replies:
It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.

Madison has a solution. It is in the Constitution. Representatives of the people are elected every two years, Senators every six. It gives the people, and the corporation a way to hold accountable its representatives, as plainly evidenced this last month, and two years before. The congress that left office, surely was not the congress that the corporations wanted. The congress that took office, especially in the Senate, is definitely not the one that the corporations wanted. You see Ben, despite the amount of money that is spent on individual campaigns, it is the people of the district that decide who is to represent them.
Despite massive corporate spending, Harry Reid still won his election. This is just a single example where the corporations were on the loosing side. The people of Nevada spoke. They wanted Harry Reid to stay. It is to the people that Reid is beholden to, never the corporations.

Free speech is not free if it is limited. I will express my displeasure with you, by never buying your product again. If offered free, I will not accept. I consider you a threat to my liberty, and I will not support your business, charities, or causes. I have the freedom of choice, and unlike you, I will not work to restrict that freedom for others.

Ben Cohen, ice cream man

James Madison, architect of the Constitution, fourth President of the United States, signer of the Constitution, author of the Federalist Papers, and first President to lead troops in to battle as President.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Full Size .45

Guns are like tattoos. Once you get one, you want another one, the closer you are to a purchase of one, the more you want another one... So, what I want is a full size pistol. Mainly as a toy, because I likely won't be carrying it. There would be no advantage to carrying a full size, as my Glock 30 gives me all the capacity that a full size model would give, and I don't really care if I can hit a target at 25 yards with my subcompact. That is not its mission. Full size pistols are just cool. They are big, heavy and just all around awesome. Let's take a look at some choices.

Here is my criteria: The pistol has to be auto loading, and it has to be in .45. I don't want to mix ammo, and .45s are just cooler than any other caliber.
I want at least a 4 inch barrel. This is a full size pistol, I want to shoot groups at 25 yards.
Really, that's it... I would like a modern design, with a polymer frame, but that is not a firm requirement. I would like a double stack magazine with more than 10 rounds, but that is not a firm requirement.

Before we go in to the guns we have to talk about actions. Large caliber auto loading pistols have specific ways to operate them, and these ways are classified in to how many things happen when the trigger is pulled.
All pistols have a hammer, even if you don't see it, the action that the hammer does is there. All pistols have a trigger, duh. A single action pistol, only releases the hammer to drop on the firing pin. A double action pistol will, with the pull of the trigger, pull back the hammer, and release it on to the firing pin.
A single action pistol needs to have its hammer cocked back before it will fire. Each trigger pull is short and soft.
A double action only pistol typically will not have a visible hammer, and will have a long heavy trigger pull, every time.
A Double/Single action pistol will, the first time the pistol is fired, if the hammer is not cocked, have a long heavy trigger pull, and you will see the hammer move backward as you pull. Each shot after that, will have a light short trigger pull, and the hammer will be cocked.
Got it? Rock on.

PX4 Storm

Beretta... It is tough to find a maker of more aesthetically pleasing firearms. The PX4 Storm is no different. This was Beretta's entry in to the Joint Combat Pistol program. For a moment the US Military had come to its senses and was looking for a duty pistol in .45. Then they realized that something with that much stopping power and reliability would just not belong in the hands of the US Military. Anyway...
The one main complaint about a .45 is the recoil. You are sending quite a chunk of metal down range with a large powder charge, so the .45 does have a recoil issue. People not used to shooting have a hard time with it, and people not used to shooting is who the military is getting these days.
Beretta solved the excessive recoil problem by designing a rotating barrel. How does that work?
Well, it is inside baseball. Essentially it is this, a typical "Browning" style short recoil device will have the barrel tilt downward during unlocking to eject the spent cartridge, and to receive the new one, as the slide moves forward the barrel will move back in to place and the breech locks for the shot. This directs the recoil downward, bringing the muzzle of the pistol up.
The rotating barrel uses the recoil to drive the slide backward, and the barrel rotates, like a cam, to open the lock. Because the action is all in line with the pistol, the upward force of the shot is greatly reduced. This makes it much easier to bring the pistol back on target.
Some good vids here

Anyway, the thing is super cool looking, has all the new features of a modern pistol and fun to shoot.
Length8.2 in
Height5.7 in
Barrel Length4.6 in
Weight28.6 oz
ActionDouble/Single Action
External SafeYes

Heckler & Kotch
HK 45

HK's entry in to the Joint Combat Pistol program was the HK45. This pistol uses a modified "Browning" system described above, with a twist. HK put a little polymer buffer in the action to soften the recoil, and the tilt is not a severe as in the traditional Browning style action. Softer recoil, but still rises more than the rotating Beretta.

Length7.52 in
Height5.83 in
Barrel Length4.53 in
Weight27.68 oz
ActionDouble Action Only
External SafeYes


Glock's full size .45 is just like my G30 only bigger... Meh.

Length7.59 in
Height5.47 in
Barrel Length4.6 in
Weight26.28 oz
ActionDouble Action Only
External SafeNo

Smith & Wesson

This is Smith & Wesson's full size polymer .45. It uses the standard Browning lock system.
It is a Glock clone with a little better ergonomics, and a three round disadvantage. Meh, Smith & Wesson, very meh.
Length7.55 in
Height5.5 in
Barrel Length4.5 in
Weight29.6 oz
ActionDouble Action Only
External SafeNo

1911 Custom II

Be still my heart! Kimber is just about the world's finest producers of 1911 pistols. They are beautiful, works of art. They are so good looking, you would almost not want to shoot them!
The 1911 is the first real practical design of the auto loading pistol. This pistol, designed by John Browning in 1911 for Colt, was carried by the US military from 1911 to today. Sure it is not the standard pistol, but you can bet that many Special Forces, and others still carry this .45. Kimber just turns the design in to something very special.
The 1911 models are still some of the most accurate pistols in existence, and the Kimber manufactured ones are no exceptions.
The Custom II is an all steel and wood pistol. It is very heavy. It is also the only single action pistol in the group. Going "cocked and locked" is an expression that the 1911 coined. To carry this pistol, it is recommended that you carry it with a round in the chamber (locked), and the hammer cocked all the way back (cocked). The trigger pull is very light and very short. The model has an external safe, and a grip safe as well to prevent from negligent discharges.

Length8.7 in
Height5.5 in
Barrel Length5 in
Weight38 oz
ActionSingle Action Only
External SafeYes

Sweet Mother Of....

Really???? Really???????? You want to make a cult of personality around an attention whore, who is only famous for quitting? REALLY?????

Let's look in to the guy who should be elected (he won't) in a couple of years.
Herman Cain

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Washington, the Man

I am reading James Thomas Flexner's "Washington: The Indispensable Man." It is a condensation to one volume of Flexner's exhaustive 4 volume biography. Flexner originally set out to write a single volume of Washington's life, but found that there was so much going on, that he simply could not do it. So, Flexner wrote the 4 volume set. After completion, he realized that he could now write the single volume that he initially set out to do. The Indispensable Man is the result.

For one who talks so much about the Founding Fathers, I know surprisingly little about Washington. Washington was always kind of a stuffy wooden character with wooden teeth. He was a military genius, who was able to turn anything he touched in to a success. Nothing could be further from the truth. Washington was as incompetent as anybody ever was in nearly every endeavor he attempted, including martial arts, farming, land ownership, and governing. In nearly everything he did, he was forced in to positions of leadership that he neither wanted, or was qualified for. Washington's genius was in his ability to learn and adapt to his situation.

In getting to know Washington, we find... A party animal. Washington loved to drink, gamble, and go to "unsavory" sporting events such as bear bating, cock fighting, and prize fighting. During the Revolution, he was well known for his wild parties, and various drunken escapades.

We find a man who, while not really knowing how to lead an army, is a natural and amazing leader of men. Washington would lead his army from the front, never the rear. During the Revolution, he would have horse after horse shot out from underneath him. His clothing would be riddled with holes from the musket balls fired at him. His men followed, because they knew he would be right there with him.
His inexperience also gave to innovative insights that would have never been allowed in the warfare of the day. Washington was used to fighting like the "Indians." Why march up in ranks to face the most powerful fighting force on the face of the planet? Better to ambush them and fight from cover where your smaller irregular force has the advantage.

Just before the end of the Revolution, we find that, as in all revolutions before and since, the cause nearly fell in to tyranny. At the end of the Revolution, the states saw no need to keep paying for an army, or a central government, that they no longer felt they needed. The army, tired of not being given what they were promised composed to usurp the states, and take control of the new nation. By army we mean the general staff, and Alexander Hamilton.
Washington was approached by Hamilton. Hamilton offered Washington what the general staff wanted. They wanted to create a new monarchy. They wanted Washington to be king. Washington recoiled at the thought. He scolded Hamilton and the general staff. Washington fought for liberty of the people, why would he step in as the new tyrant?
Unexpectedly, at a "secret" meeting, Washington gave what is now known as his farewell address. After giving part of his speech, he found that most in the room were not agreeing with him. He pulled out his notes, then, not being able to read them, he pulled out his glasses. Washington, for all of his admirable qualities, was a vain man. Only his very closest friends knew that he wore glasses. Washington said to the startled crowd:
Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country."
The men then realized, that no one person has given more in service to the country. No one person had put more on the line than Washington. They realized that there would be no kings in the new country.

After victory, we see Washington go off to live at Mount Vernon content with being a farmer. It was at this time that the best of his life. He nearly failed, as the only thing that they could sell as a cash crop was tobacco, and the only people they could sell to was the British. Washington, ever the learner and adapter found that the farmers in the interior of the country made a living by growing crops that others in the interior needed. They bartered for other products that their families wanted. Washington took that idea back to Mount Vernon, and turned his farm in to a self sufficient operation. He constructed mills, grew cereal crops, and sold his flour, and other crops around his community. Soon a profit was turned, and he became the first Virgina plantation owner to be out of British debt.
During this time, the Washingtons loved to entertain. People from all around the country came to Mount Vernon to have a few moments with the General. He accommodated them all. He would supper with everybody, and drink with the men. If you were particularly interesting you would be invited to play cards with the General. Be sure you bring your cash, because Washington doesn't play for fun.
About this time, Washington acquired some land that he wished to build a canal on. Dealing with the many states, and all of the different rules, drove him to the edge, whereupon he arranged a meeting of representatives from all of the states to see how they could better regulate interstate commerce. From this simple meeting came The Constitution.

Washington knew, though he did not want it, that the delegation would elect him President of the convention. He also realized as the delegates were debating the Executive branch, they had Washington in mind as the Executive. It was Washington himself, who angled for an executive with very limited powers.

Washington was, in a very real sense, the Platonic ideal for the first President of the United States. He did not want the job. When he was in office, he wanted to do nothing more that the get OUT of office. He didn't know it, but many of the things that he did have now become common and unbreakable "rules."
Washington hated strong willed debate. Initially, the President was to attend debate in the Senate and defend his policies. After the first time, Washington was heard while leaving "I'll be damned if I ever do that again."
It was thought that the Vice President would be the President's Prime Minister. John Adams and Washington disliked each other. Therefore the role of Vice President was relegated to nearly a transparent "do nothing" position. Of course this has changed a bit over the years, but essentially the Vice President has no official functions but to break ties in the Senate.

Washington turns out to be a real live human. He hated public life, but loved to entertain. He liked to drink. He liked to be outdoors. He felt a sense of obligation to his country, and therefore would do nearly any task the country put to him. But he never used is fame and influence to dominate over his fellow countrymen. He was offered ultimate power, but turned it down to be a farmer. He was offered ultimate power again, with congress as window dressing, he turned it down again to be an elected representative of the people.

He had his faults, as all men do. He owned slaves. Yet, unlike other slave owners, he never broke up families. Even when the amount of slaves he owned threatened to bankrupt him. One very interesting thing about Washington was that after all the talk about liberty and the equality of men, Washington, unlike Jefferson or even Madison, freed his slaves. He recognized the "great evil." He wondered if Providence would ever forgive him for his participation.
Washington was not a perfect man. He was just that. A man.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Trouble at the Gym

After working out at the new gym for... maybe three months now, drama, that so often accompanies Martial Arts, has entered the scene. The guy who ran the Muay Thai class was a young guy, not terribly experienced, and new to the teaching gig. His workouts were disjointed, and didn't really focus on anything. I come in and we have some talks about his class, how to run a workout and such. The classes much improve and there is actual method to his madness.
Then he starts to feel the "coach" crunch. You always have to be there for the class. Guys are always on you about cornering and individual training. Fighters walk in and want special training because they have a fight upcoming and they feel they are entitled to the extra time.

As the classes improve, the number of students increase, and the training has to adjust to accommodate the additional people. Fighters still want to dominate the time. He gets fed up, and walks away.

The gym owner then calls me up asking me to take over the Muay Thai class, AND do an MMA class. He says that he will pay. I am left holding the bag. If I say no, there is no more Muay Thai at the gym. If I say yes, I am the chucklemonger who now has four days of classes to do, train fighters, do privates, and corner fighters. I just wanted to get a kickboxing workout a few times a week.

I had to tell the owner no dice. I don't have the time, or the inclination to do such a thing. The guy counters and asks how much it would take for me to teach the classes. I have heard this story before. I am not sure who he is used to negotiating with, but I am sure that he is not used to negotiating the kind of numbers that it would take for me to do these classes.
I tell him it is not about the money, it is about the desire to teach, and the time commitment involved. I told him that I gave careful consideration to his request, even to go so far as to contact my old gym for some ideas in to how to run the classes successful. I simply do not want the added commitment that will surely rob me of of what little alone time I have with my wife.

The other reason I did not want to commit to the classes is the clientele. A good half of the class has served time, half of those have been in for drug related felonies. I work as a contractor for the government. My wife is a resident physician. I need to maintain a security clearance, and she has to keep her DEA number. There is NO way I am going to put all of that at stake by teaching a bunch of ex-cons how to fight.
In the eyes of the DEA and the Government, you can associate with people who have had assaults, larcenies, tax fraud, general fraud, but once you step in to drugs, it is over for you. I take the class I run the risk of blowing my wife's, and my, future. No thanks.

The gym owner could have respected my position, said, that's fine I will let you know if we have somebody else to teach the class. Or, could have parted ways amicably. No, he actually said, "Fuck you very much. I didn't know you were the type of guy to fuck a friend." Wow. This dude didn't even know my name until a few days ago. We are friends now?
I told him that I was sorry he felt that way. He responded with another fuck you, and hung up the phone.

The silly thing is, that I now feel bad for the guy. I understand his position, I get that the cons are the only guys coming in to the gym. I understand that with out the income that they produce, he can't grow his gym in to some place respectable. I get that my teaching there would be a big step forward on the way to respectability. I get all of that, but another big step forward would be how he treats people. Talking that way to somebody who you could not manage to negotiate a deal with is just unprofessional.

So I am ronin once again. I am nearly to the point of simply paying for private classes when I have the time to train. It will cost me about the same as the gym membership, and I would get a better workout. Or I could just join the karate gym and attempt to form it in to a better Kickboxing gym, though I would, again, have to deal with teaching class. Not something that I want to do. I just want to train.

I realize now that if I am going to train I need to go to a gym that costs a little money. Yeah, it is a pain in the ass, and I don't want to do it, but it keeps the riffraff out. I don't have to worry about broke former meth addicts coming to the gym when the cost of the gym is $100 a month. I just have to deal with preppy douchebag Jersey Shore rejects who want to trane UFC. *SHUDDER*

So I have a couple of prospects. There is the Muay Thai gym that is next to my work, but far away from my house. They have a Noon to 3 class... I don't know what they do for three hours in the middle of the day, but I have sent an email asking what's up. I don't have time for a three hour workout in the middle of the day, but If it is set up to be three classes, that might be easier to handle.

The other is American Top Team. One of their black belts opened an ATT in OKC. It is about half way between the house and work. Their times suck, BJJ and Muay Thai is at 8pm. BUT they have a BJJ/MMA class at 7am. I could go and do a morning workout. The problem with this gym, besides the crappy times, is that they are over the top expensive. I mean almost $150 a month. That certainly keeps the riffraff out, but holy cow who can afford to pay that much?

I am near the end of my rope with Martial Arts training. I might have to give it up, something I am loathe to do. Life gets in the way, and it is certainly in the road up ahead.

Monday, January 17, 2011

If Free Speech is Chained, Is It Still Free?

Simon Jenkins of the UK Guardian wrote an article about how free speech can not exist with out some government controls, because we are too stupid to know when we are hearing bad things.

Of course the real things that need chaining, according to Mr. Jenkins are talk radio, and Fox News. So, really, Mr. Jenkins wants to silence political speech on the right. This makes sense as Mr. Jenkins presents a straw man from Texas, who believes that the US is going to have to step in and bail out Europe from the "Arabs" and the "baby killers." This straw gentleman was only informed by Fox News. This, and being from Texas, made him incapable of forming a complete thought in his head. Mr. Jenkins, if you indeed actually met someone like this, I would have to question your ability to discern a person well accustomed to thinking and a moron. In truth, I believe that you did not meet such a person, and my references to this being a straw man should have tipped my hand...

Having the freedom to say exactly what you want, no matter how nutty, is something that Americans uniquely enjoy. It is an absolute foreign concept to Europeans. How anyone could just voice opinion on the open airwaves is just not done there. The government controls most media, therefore the public only hears what the party in power wants them to hear. Their speech has chains. My question to these people is, should your opinion fall out of fashion with the powers that be, should your speech be chained?

The big problem with limiting speech is always who does the limiting? As Madison so aptly manipulated, people always work in their own self interest, therefore they will always work to repress thoughts that do not line up with their own. Free speech forces them to attempt to defeat these opinions with counter arguments. When speech is "chained" these differing opinions will be squelched by force of arms. Which would you rather have?

The very thought that someone might be incarcerated because of what they said was so abhorrent to the Founders, that they placed, at the very top of their Bill of Rights, the protection for speech. They had seen their friends, family, and loved ones removed for them, even killed for what they said. Never in our new country, they said as one voice. This was unheard of in the world... And still is. Walk up to a police man in Germany and give a big old Heil Hitler. See where you end up. Profane the name of Muhammad in Iran, and see where you go. The simple and true fact is that very very few countries actually have a guarantee of freedom of speech in their founding documents. Most, like in Europe, pay lip service to the freedom of speech, but nearly all have some provisions that allow the country to limit speech in some way.

Is speech free, if you can limit it? No.

Opinion Piece

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

TUF 13 Coaches Announced

In a brilliant ratings grabbing, Dana White has selected Brock Lesnar and Junior dos Santos to be the coaches of TUF 13. So we will have a bunch of Welterweights walk in to camp with two heavyweight coaches. Not a bad thing typically. However who would you want to be your coach?
A brown belt under Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who trains his striking with Anderson Silva, with a record of 12-1, 8 by knock out 3 by submission?
Or a former NCAA Div I champion and former WWE professional wrestler with a record of 5-2, 3 knock outs 1 submission?

dos Santos will undoubtedly bring in Rogueira as his BJJ coach, and NCAA Div I champion Mark Munoz for wrestling.
Lesnar will bring in... who from "Death Clutch", of whom he is the only member? He has trained with Erik Paulson a bit, and with Peter Welch a bit... Who else?

Honestly if I am a TUF welterweight, I am hoping beyond hope that I get picked by Junior dos Santos. He has been in the sport longer, has a better record, is trained by a quality well known team, AND has wanted nothing more in his life than to fight in the UFC.
Lesnar is a guy looking for a paycheck, surrounding himself with yes men, and not doing what he needs to do to be a successful fighter in the UFC. He has learned little, and makes the same mistakes. A training camp with him, I am guessing, will be very much like Ken Shamrock's TUF training camp. Lots of talk about steak and chicken.

Brock Lesnar

Junior dos Santos

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Guns and The United States of America

I have been reading several stories ran in papers all over the world, Japan, The UK, Australia, and Germany. All of them ran stories on how the tragedy in Arizona, and other such tragedies are allowed to continue in the U.S. Why don't the Americans just ban guns already, like in most parts of the world? What is with them and guns?

To answer the question, the papers talk to the people who are, probably, the most unfit to answer, academic professors. The professors bloviate about hunting, and the "Wild West." They pontificate about how the NRA uses its vast lobing dollars to coerce lawmakers in to passing gun friendly laws. There is some quick mention of the Minutemen and the old militia, now made obsolete by the National Guard.

The problem that the professors have is that their point of view is nearly universally anti-gun. Their responses echo the European way of thinking, thus the world rarely gets a truly American perspective.

The basis of the American "love affair", to use their term, with guns is this phrase in the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

I could never, in all of my life, put it better. It is the right of the governed to abolish a government that has become destructive to the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There is only one way the governed can resist a tyrannical government. That is through force of arms. You can not bargain, or negotiate with a tyrannical government. By its very definition a tyrant does not negotiate. The only thing that a tyrant, or tyrannical government understands it the barrel of a gun. Thus, Americans, armed with their personal weapons, stand ready to overthrow their government, should it become destructive to the unalienable Rights.

As the Declaration of Independence simply dissolved our ties to England, it is not binding law. For that we look to the Constitution, and the Second Amendment, to forever protect the right of the People to keep and bear arms.

This is why Libertarians, like myself, call for the unrestricted sale of all arms to American Citizens. I do mean ALL arms. If someone can afford it, I want them to be able to buy any weapon in the U.S. arsenal. Of course this is impractical. You can't have just anyone walk up, flash a passport and purchase a F-22... it would be cool, but you just can't have it. The U.S. needs to preserve its military edge over other countries, so there needs to be some balance with national security from outside forces. However anything unclassified, just as unclassified information is available to the public, should be fair game.
In the days before the American Police State, namely the ATF, this was so. I could purchase military equipment, such as a Browning Automatic Rifle, and own it with out having to notify the government of the buy. Now... not so much.

Can I haz one?

Guns secure freedom where laws fail. Guns are the ultimate guarantee. Americans know this. They treasure this. Europeans and other people scratch their heads, because they have had kings rule over them. They are used to being surfs, and slaves of tyrants. Americans threw off the yoke of servitude... Twice. Why were the slaves not allowed to own weapons? Because they could rise up against their masters. Arms are never allowed in to the hands of the oppressed. For with them, the oppressed will rise against the oppressors. Americans will not stand for oppression.

Americans look at Europe, and we scratch our heads. You Europeans, who have seen your lands scorched time and time again. You who have seen the blood of thousands soak the earth at the whim of tyrants. You who know and have monuments to those who would not submit. Why do you, time and time again, allow your arms to be striped from you? Why do you, time and time again, allow tyrants to again rise and oppress the governed?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rush to Blame

A horrific tragedy occur ed on Saturday. A mentally challenged man, took a legally purchased firearm and opened up in to a crowd of people in Tucson, AZ. A member of the House of Representatives of the United States of America, a Democrat, was wounded. Six others, including a 9 year old girl, and a district Judge were killed.

Nearly as soon as the brass hit the ground, the "pundits" on the left, otherwise known as the mainstream media were blaming the Tea Party. The right was pointing out that one of the shooter's favorite books was "The Communist Manifesto."
A Sheriff stepped forward to say something has to be done about the new "vitriolic" political rhetoric that surely caused this problem.
Anti-Gun advocates were blaming the high capacity magazine that the shooter used.

The simple fact here is that the man who did this horrible thing, just like any other person who does this kind of thing, was mentally sick. Something was absolutely wrong with him. He was out of his mind, and went on a rampage. There is no one to blame here, except the man who pulled the trigger. Where there opportunities to catch him before the trigger was pulled? Not really. We must accept that in a free society, one can not just be jailed or confined because they give one the wiblies.

Let's take a look at the gun purchase program that he had to go through to obtain his Glock 19.

The Glock 19 9mm pistol is the compact version of Glock's most popular Glock 17 model. It has a 4 inch barrel and has a standard magazine capacity of 15 rounds, however Glock has magazines that can be purchased that fit the Glock 19 in 17, 19, and 33 round capacities. The shooter had a 33 round magazine.
The shooter had to go through all of the background checks that anyone else has to go through to purchase his pistol. Because he had never been convicted of a crime or been declared mentally incompetent, he passed all background checks, and the purchase went through. In fact, if the shooter wanted to, he could have qualified for a concealed carry permit in the state of Arizona. Actually, if he wanted to become a resident of Nebraska, the state with the strictest concealed carry issue laws and checks, he could have obtained a CCW permit there.
If he wanted to purchase a pistol in any state in the union, he would have passed all of the checks. He had nothing in his background to disqualify him from the purchase.

Several people, including Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, came out and said that it was political speech that caused this tragedy. In fact it is said that the shooter rarely listened to political speech. He was obsessed with what Government was, commonly asking, even once to Congress Person Gifford, whom he shot, "What is Government if words do not have meaning?" A seemingly nonsensical question, but it reveals a particular area of questioning that the nihilists would have come up with... I must admit I have thought of similar questions when I was reading Hobbes and Kant. When asking these questions was he actually looking for answers or was he just spouting nonsense?
At any rate, political speech, nor any other type of expression, can, in any way, be silenced or abridged by Government. To do that, would destroy the very freedoms that we hold so very dear.

In fact the only place that could have alerted authorities and offered help was the government schools that the shooter attuned nearly his entire life. His friends, who weren't really friends, just acquaintances, thought him to be crazy. His classmates, teachers, and administrators saw him as mentally unstable. However he was never brought formally to counseling. Was it the failure of the schools?
No. While disruptive, he never did anything physically to hurt anyone. Teachers thought that he might be autistic, have ADHD, or be mentally unstable, he was never crazy enough to warrant them thinking that he was a danger to himself or others.

He was never in trouble with the law, save a pot arrest. He was never charged or convicted of a crime, however. No reason to suspect that he would attempt or do such an act.

It wasn't the books he read, his stance on government, or his purchase of a firearm that made him go nuts. If you like you can make a direct comparison with this man and myself...

We have read the same books. I too have read "Mein Kampf" and "The Communist Manifesto", the books the shooter were supposed to have read. I too have a deep distrust of Government. We both recently purchased firearms. I have high capacity magazines for my firearm. It was said that he "stalked" Congress Person Gifford. By stalked they mean he attended some events where Gifford was speaking, and wrote letters and emails. By this definition, I too have "stalked" members of Congress. I write emails all of the time so that my representatives know how I, their constituent, would like them to vote.

On the surface, we are very alike the shooter and I. Actually in the eyes of the law, we are nearly identical. Actually, he is cleaner than me. I have a trespassing conviction. He was clean.

The simple truth is that you can't find reason in crazy as much as you try. Unfortunately, the left and the right will attempt to use this tragedy to further their own agendas, and, ultimately, remove our freedoms in the process.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Interesting Trend

I have been doing a lot of interviews for my company lately. Not just in Dumbfuckville, but all around the country. Jobs for the West Coast, East Coast, the central part of the country, everywhere. These are high paying Senior Level Developer, SOA Architects, SharePoint Developers, all sorts of High Tech jobs. I have done at least 100 interviews, and noticed that I have only interviewed perhaps 2 native born American citizens. Nearly all of the candidates I have talked to were from Inda, a smaller percentage from Russia. I wonder why this is...

Is it that Americans are simply getting out of the High Tech industry? Is it because of a big influx of new foreign workers? Is it because the jobs pay worse than other jobs? Is it because the foreign worker is the first to be fired or laid off? Honestly, I don't know.
I don't think that there has been a large influx of foreign workers. The people that apply for these jobs typically have to be established resident aliens, many with security clearances.
These jobs certainly pay well. Most are asking salaries that I wish I would have negotiated when I was hired on. The benefit and other employment perks are good to, especially in a city where my company has a large presence.
Of the questions above I think that the foreigners are the first to be laid off may be hitting closer to the mark. You keep the workers who are native born or naturalized citizens. Easier to get clearances, quicker turn around on other HR stuff, and no extra headache if a green card goes in to flux. BUT I also have to consider that in an economic down turn, the first people to be laid off is the development staff. You cut your "nice to have" projects, and lay off the project teams running those projects.

I fear that Americans are simply getting out of the industry. I think that many developers see security in the mobile phone application market and are looking to get started there... That or young Americans see the software and computer industry as boring and don't want to waste time there... I don't know...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Afraid of No Man... Well... Maybe One Man...

I have never been timid when it comes to training and especially sparing. I enjoy it. The back and forth with another man, the resisting opponent, both trying to win. It is just fun. When I have gone up against guys who I know wanted to hurt me, or at least rough me up, I have always had the attitude of "Here I am. You don't have to look to find me. I am right here, not going anywhere." I have taken my ass kicking, and learned every time a blow landed.

I have sparred with profesional fighters of every combat sport. Boxers, kickboxers, and MMA fighters. I have danced with them all. I especially liked to spar with boxers. I always felt that I knew more than they did. I used more limbs than they did. I could always keep them off balance with a kick, a knee, the Thai Clinch. They were in my world, and I knew that I was better than they were there. All I needed to do was to stay away from punching range, use my jab and punches to get them to plant their lead leg, and blast away. Sure, I got tagged a few times. You can't dodge them all, but I always was able to clinch when they got too active and start slipping knees in to them.

I met a legitimate middleweight world champion today... His hands were so fast I could barely believe what I was witnessing. It is like watching a baseball pitcher throw the ball on TV. It looks fast but, you never really get the feeling for how fast the ball is moving until you are sitting behind the plate at a real game. You hear the slap of the ball hitting the mitt, and can almost feel the wind form the missile that has been launched, almost inhumanly from the arm of the colossus on the mound.
I had seen the lighter weight guys hit the pads on TV before, but I never ever realized how fast, and how hard they are throwing punches. Every time he hit the mitt it sounded like a rifle shot.

He went off to run, and I got a little time with the trainer. He showed me a few things and held the pads for me. It was fun but I knew I did not have nearly the speed of the champion who just left.

After a while I was given homework (head movement, always head movement. GRRRRRRRRRR) and my time was done.
"Hey guy." I hear. "Aren't you one of the kickboxers?" It was the champ.
"Yeah." I said.
"You want to go a few rounds? I want to see how I move against one of you guys." He replied.
I looked at him. I blinked.
"Brother",I said. "I have the utmost respect for you. I would love to work out with you, and learn from you. But there is no way I am ever going to spar you. The way your hands move, I would loose more brain cells in the first round than I ever wanted to think I had. I freely admit that after seeing you work just a little bit, I am more afraid of you than of any other man I have ever met."
He laughed, and asked if I would at least show him some of our "cool" kicks. I smiled and showed him a front kick and a round kick. We worked just a bit on the bag, then the trainer told him to quick fucking around and get in to the ring.

I think we left friends. I look forward to working with him in the future to improve my hand speed, and hopefully he will want to learn some more leg and clinch work. But I guarantee you, I will never willing get in to the ring with him. I like my noodle too much.

Shooting the Glock 30SF

I got some time to shoot my new Glock 30SF over the weekend.

I wanted to get a good feel for my new gun, so I decided that I would splurge a little bit and fire 150 rounds through it. This is something that I would never have done with my Kahr CW45, mainly because I started to have problems after the 30th or so round. After 50 rounds it would be frustrating, after 100 intolerable.
I never really realized how skittish the Kahr made me... I was actually nervous when I bought that many rounds, wondering if I would have to take some home, or if I would get through them all. I should have been worried. The Glock's reputation for reliability seemed to be well deserved this time out as it went boom every time I pulled the trigger.

I started out just trying to get a feel for the pistol, not really attempting to mark where I was shooting, just trying to get it on the paper. My first objective was to simply find out how controllable the pistol was, judge the recoil, and how quickly I could bring my sight picture back on target.
I found the pistol to be quite responsive, easy to bring back on target, and the recoil to be slightly less than the Kahr. The recoil feeling may have been my imagination, the guns are virtually identical in weight and balance. What I did notice was that my shots were pulling left. I took this to be my laxness in aim.
Right away, I was happy I got the pistol with the high capacity magazine. It is SO much nicer to shoot 10 rounds to 6. Not to mention with two magazines I could go through 20 rounds with out having to reload my magazines. Very nice.
I spent my 20 rounds getting a feel for the pistol and went on with my evaluation.

My next goal was accuracy. I set the target at 15 yards, and took careful aim at the center of the target, and fired. First shot was off to the left. I took aim again, and fired. Off to the left near the first shot. Puzzled, I set up and fired, making sure that I was not flinching or pulling to the left with my trigger pull. Off to the left next to the first two. What the hell? My next two were put down range to make a nice grouping directly to the left of where I was shooting. I could not believe that a brand new, modern pistol would deviate that consistently to the left of target. Then it came to me. Glock has a different philosophy when it comes to their grips.

When shooting a "normal" pistol you have to put it in your hand in a bit of an unnatural way. The pistol is built on a straight line, while the alignment between your wrist and your hand is off at about a 105 degree angle or so. It takes practice but when shooting a pistol you need to compensate for this angle, thus the unnatural way you place the pistol in your hand. Glock thought that was stupid and set their grips to be placed in to the had as naturally as possible giving their grips a 105 degree angle. After many years of firing "normal" pistols, I naturally grip the Glock the same way I griped any other pistol. I had to unlearn this and pick up the new Glock just as I would if I had never picked up a pistol before.
After a slight adjustment I started to put the bullets on target. The pistol felt a bit strange at first, but I found that I was able to bring the sight picture back on target easier, and the recoil felt much better.

After putting about 60 or so rounds in to my accuracy test, I wanted to have some fun and open up the pistol a bit. I was getting nervous again, as I was well over the round mark where my Kahr started to give me trouble. I loaded up the magazines and decided to use the rounds with "accelerated pairs" (fancy new legally acceptable name for double taps). When doing an accelerated pair, you want to carefully aim the first shot, then as fast as possible put your sight picture back on that same spot and fire again. It should sound like a bangbang rather than a bang....bang of the closely aimed shots. Doing accelerated pairs with a .45 is really just having fun, because the accelerated pair is intended to give smaller calibers more stopping power. But, anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice.

My accelerated pairs with the Glock were fun, but as with most compact .45s the second shot was high and to the right. It was fun shooting them, because I had no failures. It was like I was shooting my old full size 9mm Smith & Wesson 5906. I went through those rounds quickly, and thought it might be fun just to load up the mags and shoot them dry as fast as possible.
I actually shot some fairly decent groups for just pulling the trigger.
The Glock worked flawlessly and it was fun to run two 10 round mags dry as fast as I could pull the trigger.

About this time I was out of bullets. I felt good that I finally had an accurate, dependable piece to have fun with and to carry around. I just hope it stays that way. I guess I don't have any reason to think that it won't. The biggest complaint with the Glock 30 models is that it is too hard to put the 10th round in to the new magazines. None of the problems that plagued the Kahr.

First Time Skiers - How to Plan Your Trip and What To Do When You Get to the Mountain

You are working out, you have your stuff bought, you are good to go! Now what?

This is part three of a three part series on first time skiers, what they should do. Part one was about what to buy, part two was about how to be fit for the sport, and this part is, well, read the title.

There are a few things you need to know about ski resorts, ski rentals, and all that other stuff before you actually get on the mountain. This post will go over some of the things I have learned so that your experience is as smooth as possible.


First, how much time to plan for your trip. I like to have at least 3 ski days. One day for lessons, one day to integrate what I learned and gain confidence, and the final day to let loose and go nuts. A typical ski day starts when the lifts open, at about 9am, and ends when the lifts close, generally at 4pm. This means that you will need to plan two travel days on either end of your ski days. Be sure to have enough time.


Next where to go? This is really up to you, and how you plan on getting to the mountain. The first time you ski, you really need to do your research and look at what kind of runs are available, and where they are on the mountain. As a first timer, you want to see lots and lots of green. The green hills are the easiest and flattest runs. They are almost always groomed so that there are no bumps that will ruin your day. Green is good!
You have to be a little bit careful though, many resorts have most of their green runs at the bottom of the mountain. This means that EVERYONE at one point in the day will be traversing them. That means that the run will be as icy as it is possible to be, making it very difficult to ski for a first timer. You want to make sure that you can find some green runs in the middle or top of the mountain.
Travel time is also important. If you are flying in, Colorado resorts are a good hour or better outside Denver. Plan on this when you are arriving. Utah is awesome for travelers, as their ski resorts are 30 min to an hour outside of Salt Lake City.
Weather in the mountains can be quite harsh, and change quickly, so you need to take this in to consideration as you plan your travel times.

I like to be in the resort area before the slopes close at 4. This gives me time to pick up any equipment from the rental place, get storage arranged, arrange for lessons, and purchase lift tickets. That way I can start the next day ready to ski.

Personally, I like Winter Park in Colorado for first timers. It is very reasonably priced, and has an abundance of green runs all over the mountain.
The draw backs are it is one of the most crowded resorts in Colorado. Lots of waiting in line and dodging others on the hill.


Decide before you book what you are going to the resort for. If you are going to ski, all you need for lodging is a clean bed and a hot shower. All lodging prices will be inflated, so make very sure of what you are getting. Many places will try to sell you on a condo. If you want the whole luxury aspect of skiing, by all means go ahead.
Most resorts have a free shuttle or bus service to cart your happy ass around, so why pay more for ski in ski out when you could could pay half the price for a hotel on the shuttle route? Do your research!
I try to find a clean inexpensive hotel on the shuttle route that has a free breakfast. You will need the calories, so finding some place that has a hot breakfast is worth every penny. I recently stayed at the Park City Peaks hotel in Park City, Utah, and they had a full hot breakfast buffet! It was so awesome that we stuffed ourselves and didn't have to eat lunch!

Anyway, decide what you want in lodging. This will be one of your major expenses so be sure of what you are getting, how far away from the slopes it is, and how you can get to the slopes. Try not to drive to the resort yourself. Parking is horrible, and will cost an arm and a leg. Buses are always better!

Be aware of hotels that offer swimming pools and hot tubs... They may look like fun after a day of skiing, BUT I have always gotten sick after getting in to these things after skiing. If you want to soak your sore bones after a day on the hills, draw a warm bath. You don't have to deal with other people's yuck.


Unless you live in a place where you can get to the mountains more than 2 or 3 times a week, you are not going to want to spend money on purchasing skis, bindings, poles, servicing, etc etc etc. As a first timer, chances are you are going to rent everything from boots to poles.
Most resorts will have many places for you to rent equipment from, all will basically be the same for a first timer. You just need to put down that you are a level one skier. You don't want any of the fancy "performance" packages. In my opinion, there are only two types of packages. The basic level one, and the demos. The middle tier normally gives you newer skis, but almost all rental skis are beat to hell, and not waxed at all. Don't bother with it, get the cheapest package. If you want to go all out, do the demo package. You will get a bit of a sales pitch afterward, but it is worth it for a tricked out waxed up ass kicking set of brand new skis... But I digress. You are a first timer, get the cheap stuff.
I like to find a rental place near the bottom lifts that offer free storage. This saves all of the headache of hauling your ski gear around at the beginning or end of the day. You will have to hold on to your boots and helmet, but those are easy to deal with. Be careful with storage! Make sure that if they say the storage is free, it really is free, not written in as part of the rental agreement.
The only comment I can give on what to do while fitting everything up is with your boots. You want your boots to be borderline uncomfortably tight, so when you try them on, be sure you get them very snug. Do not stuff any part of your clothing other than your socks, or your base layer if it is designed to go to your ankle, in to your boots. It will cause bruising. Seriously.
Always check with your hotel/lodging about discounts before renting!

Lift Tickets

You will need to purchase a lift ticket. Think of it as the green fee, or admission fee for the mountain. Before you buy the ticket online or at the window, check with your hotel/lodging, they may have a discount for you.
Most new jackets have a little pocket for your lift ticket. Depending on your resort the ticket may need its bar code scanned at all of the lower lifts. Other resorts put a little chip in your ticket so that all you have to do is go through a little gate, kind of the reverse of the theft alarm at your local retail store. At any rate, be sure to secure your ticket to your coat/pants, by some means. Don't just rely on it being in your zipped pocket. It is too easily accidentally removed. At the ticket window you will find little zip ties and other fastening devices.

Lift tickets are priced strangely, you buy a certain number of days for a week period. So you buy a three day ticket for the week of blah blah. It means that you can ski for three days during that time frame. This means that your days do not have to be consecutive. If you have a three day ticket you could take a day off in between and be good to go. Just remember that if your ticket is scanned, even once, you use up that day.


As a new skier, do yourself a favor. Spend the money, get yourself a lesson. Just a half day is all you will need. The instructor will show you how to ski, and more importantly, how to STOP. You will be so glad you did. It will reduce the time you spend crashing as you try to teach yourself how to ski.
The natural reaction to skiing is that you lean backward in your boots, this is the wrong action when skiing. You MUST lean FORWARD in to your boots pressing your shins in to the front, thus the extra padding on your socks (told you I would get to that). If you lean back you will fall more, and use up all of the endurance that you have built in your legs. The ski instructor will teach you this.

If you want you can spend the money and do a private lesson, but, for a first timer, it just isn't worth it... Unless you get embarrassed easily, and can't stand the fact the new people fall.

You have spent so much money on this trip, spend a bit more to learn how to ski correctly and you will be so much better off. Don't listen to the people who tell you, you don't need lessons. They are dead wrong. Don't believe your friends who may be coming with you who say that they will teach you how to ski. They don't ski everyday, and they don't know the mountain like the instructors. Spend the money swallow your pride. By the end of the first day, you will be less sore, less beat up, and ready to take on the more complex hills the next two days of your trip.

I think that is all you will need to know for a first time ski trip. As you can see, it isn't cheap. However trips after the first year are considerably less expensive, as you have all of the necessary equipment, and you won't necessarily need to take lessons again. If you are a new skier, and you balk at the work and money you have to shell out, don't go skiing. If you ignore any of the things that I have written about, you will end up having a bad time. I am not touching on etiquette, culture, or even snowboarders, those you can learn on your own or from the instructors. I am just trying to make sure that you have the proper clothing, equipment, and fitness to have a successful trip and to maximize the pleasure you get from the money that you will be spending.

Have fun! See you on the slopes!

Monday, January 3, 2011

First Time Skiers - Fitness Before the Mountain

If you are from flat country, like me, or if you live in the high elevations, you will need to prepare your body for your first time ski trip. Skiing is hard work. To fully enjoy your time, you will need to have the strength and the cardio to actually do the sport, and not spend most of your time in the lodge... Maybe this is your goal, if so, skip this part.

This is part two of a three part series on first time skiers. My first post was on what to buy, this post is about the fitness of skiing, and the final post will be on how to plan, and what to do when you get to the mountain.
I am not a physical trainer. On the contrary, I am a fighter. I adjust my workouts to include some things before skiing so that I can enjoy my time on the hills. The good news is that skiing and fighting are actually very similar in their cardio demands. They are both small bursts of high intensity action followed by short rests. Skiing has longer rest periods, but the over all exertion lasts much longer. The things we need to focus on are similar, good overall cardio, and fast recovery.
As always consult your doctor before beginning any fitness activity. Don't be a moron and drop dead because you thought you should be able to run faster than you do. Listen to your body.
Skiing is a sport that focus much on your legs, especially the quadriceps. As you slide down the mountain, you will need to turn from left to right to arrest your fall. To do this you need to use the big muscles of your legs. We will focus much of our work out on strengthening these muscles.
Skiing also requires you to do this activity over and over and over again, thus you need to have the cardiovascular capacity to keep up the activity as long as possible. We need to do exercises that build lung capacity, and improve overall cardio.

First things first, assess your general fitness. You know if you are in any type of shape. It is important to assess yourself so that you know when to start your training. If you are in good shape, you can start maybe a month out, bad shape? 6 or more months out. If you are from flat country, the altitude will rob you of your gas. So you will need to do some cardio work even if you are in good shape.

Go out and run a mile. Not sprint, but at a good pace, say a 10 or 12 minute mile.

If you did that with out much trouble immediately after you finish do 15 lunges, each leg.

If you finished that with out too much trouble, do 10 burpees.

How do you feel? If you heart is racing you are gasping for breath, or if you could not complete the fitness assessment above, congratulations, you are in the 6 month club. If you did fine, take a rest we will get to you later.

My focus for fitness workouts are to push myself to the point where I am uncomfortable, then try to keep myself there for as long as the rest of the workout lasts. We are not going for weight loss, we are going for high intensity endurance.

6 Monthers

You will need to work out at least 4 days a week. Sorry, it just has to be this way. You want to ski? You gotta have the lungs.

Running (3 days a week)
Start out with running 1 mile. Attempt to push yourself to the point you are uncomfortable and keep with it. Be sure to time yourself, we are not running for time, but we do want to keep track of what your times are so that you know when to push to the next level.
After running, do 15 lunges per leg, followed by 5 burpees. Try to get them out as fast as possible, but listen to your body. Burpees are not meant to be easy, so some discomfort is expected.
Your other work out this week should be something strength related. I like to do push ups, pull ups, and dips. Be honest with yourself while doing these exercises. You should make it all the way up with your pull ups then all the way down. Touch your chest to the ground and lock your arms up with the push ups. Dips should start all the way up, and end when your chest is parallel with your elbows. Upper body strength is important as you will need to push yourself up small hills and along flat parts. Try not to ignore this aspect.

Space your workouts so that you get enough rest, but try not to have more than two rest days in a row.

As you improve your time in your runs, as you hit the 10 minute mile or better mark, increase your distance by one mile, increase your lunges by 5 per leg, and your burpees by 2.
What is your target distances and numbers of lunges and burpees? You don't have any. The better shape you are in the better off you will be on the slopes. Just keep trying to get better. It won't be easy. Remind yourself that the hardest part of the work out is getting off the couch.

Better Shapers

You guys have it easier. Keep doing your existing work out until about a month out from your trip. Start working in as many lunges, with or without weight as you can. I like to be able to do at least 50 unweighted lunges per leg before I go.
Start incorporating some high intensity interval training in to your workouts as well. Sprints mixed in with your jogs, burpees, other type of high intensity exercises.
Start doing some extra upper body, especially chest, exercises as well. You will need the extra strength.

The idea of your workouts is not to hurt yourself, or to work yourself out so hard that you can't move. The idea is to push your cardio and strength to get out of your comfort zone. If you work too hard you will end up being sore, and this will discourage you from more work outs. Not good.

If nothing else you will need to be sure to do the lunges. This will help strengthen the thigh muscles that you will use the most during skiing. I highly recommend the running and burpees as well. There is just no substitute for good cardio on the mountain.

First Time Skiers - What to Buy

After my trip to Park City, and noticing all of the mistakes that were being made by first timers, I feel it is my duty to make these posts.

I have been skiing for about 13 years now. I am a recreational skier from flat country, so I only go once or twice for a few days. So I feel that I represent the typical vacation skier. I can and have skied all terrain, but I prefer the blue and black groomed runs.

I have made every mistake you can when it comes to skiing. I write this post so that all can learn from my mistakes and can get the most out of their ski trip, and will come back to the mountains year after year.

Understand that skiing takes an initial investment. You have to buy some equipment so that you can enjoy your day. You can't just show up on the mountain and expect to have a good time. If you do that, your time will suck, you will have wasted your money, and you will never come back. Don't do that.
This first post will be about what to buy before going skiing. The next post will deal with fitness, and the last post how to plan the trip, and what to do once you get there.

Before Going

What to Buy
You first need an understanding of what to wear when skiing. If you go when the snow is best, it will be well below freezing on the mountain. You will be outside for a long time. Skiing is hard work so you will need to prepare for perspiration. Finally, the temperature will change during the day so you need to prepare for that as well. So, what do? You need to learn the concept of layers.

Layers are necessary so that you can add them or remove them as needed. This keeps you comfortable all day long.

First you need what is known as a base layer. The base layer is closest to your skin, and is never removed. I like to use a moisture wicking long sleeve shirt for my base layer. I borrow from my fight wear and wear a long sleeve rash guard, but most people like the Under Armour long sleeve shirts. These work great! My wife uses a Hot Chillies base layer, she says it keeps her warmer.

Men's Hot Chillys base layer: $50

From here you need something that will keep in the heat. I most people will wear a fleece. This garment is designed to keep you warm, not to keep the wind out. I have a PolarTech fleece that I wear, my wife a North Face. Both are good.

North Face Ski Fleece: $100

Now you need a shell, or a good ski jacket. This is different from your normal winter coat!! Let's face it, as a first time skier you will be falling a lot. You need something that is water proof, has seal-able wrists, a hood, and a powder skirt. You do not want a down jacket! The feathers get wet, clump, and you will freeze. Seriously. The shell will not really feel heavy, it isn't supposed to. It is supposed to keep the wind and snow off of you, and hold your heat in. The modern ski jacket is designed to work in the layered model. A normal winter coat is just meant to keep you warm for a short amount of time, and be fashionable. Not good on the slopes.
The Hood works great to keep out the wind on the lift rides. I take mine down when skiing.
A powder skirt is a bit of fabric that will prevent snow from getting under your jacket. It is all around awesome, and essential if you are a new skier. When you fall snow will get everywhere, you need something that is going to protect your core from getting wet. The skirt helps out enormously.
Seal-able wrists will wrap around your gloves and prevent snow and cold from getting up your wrists.
I have a North Face, and so does the wife. These just work great, and give you everything you need without breaking the bank.

The North Face Headwall Triclimate Ski Jacket with removable insert: $250

You need something for your head... There is great debate about the necessity of a helmet. When you get going you will be topping 40+ MPH, so it makes sense that you should have something to protect your noodle. Personally, I don't wear a helmet. My wife does. Her brains are more important than mine, and she says that the helmet does a better job of keeping her head warm. My opinion on first time skiers is that you should have a helmet. You will be falling down a lot, and you really should have something to protect your brain box. You can buy these before you go, or rent them from your ski rental place. Up to you, but you should have one.
I also suggest getting a runner's beanie to wear underneath your helmet. It gets cold up there, and you can always take the beanie off it you get hot.

Mental Quadster... This is the hat I wear. It is awesome.: $25

Smith Ski Helmet: $160

Goggles are an absolute necessity. DO NOT wear sunglasses. You need something to keep that part of your face warm, prevent your face from burning off (UV is very high on the slopes), prevent fogging, and protect your peripheral vision. Sunglasses leak light, don't keep you warm, fall off your face, and fog almost immediately. They are bad.
Goggles can be very expensive, so it is up to you to find out what kind you want to get. The more basic the set, the less protection you will get from your worst enemy, fog. My wife and I splurged this year and got some Oakley goggles. They are AWESOME! Great fog control, glare reduction, all the stuff that make their sunglasses cool, plus they keep your face warm.

Oakley AFrame Snow, my goggles.: $120

You will absolutely need some type of face mask. My wife has a face mask/neck warmer combo thing. You need this because you do not want to expose your lower face to the cold, the sun, or the wind. You don't always have to wear it, but you will be glad you have it if the temp dips below 10 degrees, or the wind is howling at 40+MPH all the while you are moving at better than 30 MPH.

Face mask with neck warmer.: $20

Lower body
Same thing applies here as the upper body. You need some type of base layer. I use a Nike compression short over my fun parts, then a pair of Under Armor tights for my base. You can add more layers here, but because most of the work of skiing is done with the legs, you want to be careful as to how much you wear here. I do fine with just the base.

Hot Chllys base layer: $55

Next you need a pair of ski pants. Don't wear jeans. Just don't do it. The fabric holds in water, freezes, bunches up and generally messes you up.
Your ski pants should have the same properties as your shell. It should be water proof, and have some type of fastener at the bottom to go over your boots. The pants will be wide bottomed to accommodate your ski boots, so don't freak out if they are wide. You want your pants to go OVER your boots. Stuffing them inside your boots will simply cut off the circulation to your feet, and bruise your shins. More on that later.

The North Face Freedom Shell pants: $130

Find a pair of ski socks. They will not be thick. You do not want thick socks when you ski, as your boots will be as sung as possible. Thick socks cut the circulation off to your feet. You don't want that. Think of your socks as your base layer for your feet, your boots will do the rest of the insulation. Ski socks will go at least to your knee, and have some padding on your shin. More on this later.

Smart Wool SWL ski sock: $20

You want to find a good pair of ski gloves. Yes, ski gloves. Your Izod fashion gloves won't work on the slopes. They will get wet and you will freeze. A good pair of gloves, or mittens, will have a pocket for extra insulation/chemical hand warmer. This will be across the back the glove. The palm of the glove will have areas of rubber so that you will always be able to maintain a grip. The fabric in between the fingers will be noticeably thinner than the back. Why? This allows the glove to breath and keeps your hand from sweating. Very important. My wife wears glove liners under her gloves for extra warmth, and moisture absorption. I don't, but I will next year. I got my hands wet this year and nearly froze them off. If I had a liner, I would have been in much better shape.

The North Face ski gloves: $60

Ok... I will suggest that you rent boots your first time to the slopes. Boots are stupid expensive, so if you don't know what you are getting in to, it is best to rent. BUT if you know you want to ski again and again, boots are a great investment. The rental boots SUCK! The rental place buys the worst, cheapest, stiffest boots they can. If you buy your own, your are guaranteed a great fit (essential), insulated, boot. Both the wife and I own boots. There is no comparison between rental boots and boots fit just to you. None. Both the wife and I have Lange boots. Mine are a bit older, but, since ski bindings don't change, they work just fine.

Lange Ski Boots: $250

Like I said, there is an initial investment. Equipment will cost a ton of cash upfront, but if you buy quality stuff, they will last you many years.