'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

29 February 2012

Brain Damaged Soccer Moms: A Rant

You ever look at other people and wonder why their heads don't collapse? I mean, what's holding their skull up, air pressure? 'Cause it sure ain't brains. With the kids here and going to school I've become a Soccer Mom and I'm about to kill someone.

Exit means that's where you leave the parking lot not enter. It doesn't just mean that for everyone else, it also pertains to you. Enter is spelled, and stay with me here, E N T E R. I know exit and enter have the same first letter but they're different words with entirely different meanings. You're just gonna have to trust me on this one. When you enter through the exit, while all the rest of us are trying to get out of the lot to leave room for others to drop their kids off at school, and try to jam your way in like a salmon trying to swim upstream it causes problems for everyone else. Oh and that guy with the reflective vest and clipboard? The one who's waving and shouting at you while he dives to the ground desperately trying to avoid becoming a hood ornament on your earth sensitive pedestrian dozer? Yeah, he's the school Principal and he's trying to keep order and let you know you're doing it wrong. He's also not happy with you and may make that displeasure more firmly known at some future point. Just FYI. As the famous philosopher Sumdood said so eloquently, just because you're a lazy moron and running late does not mean you can make your problems into mine. I hope this is enuf said because I have a beast of a truck with 200,000 miles on the odometer, enough dents and gouges to qualify it as a demolition derby casualty and is worth approximately 6 bucks. If one more of you brain damaged people try to squeeze past me while I'm doing no more than try to leave after obeying the rules and dropping my kids off at school I'm going to get her up to ramming speed and see if I can make your greenmobile into a dolphin free tuna can.

And while we're at it. No Parking means NO PARKING! It's where we drop off our kids not where you can drop anchor right the hell in the middle of everything while you walk precious 25 feet into the school. Precious is quite capable of walking that distance without your assistance, especially since you're also using that as an excuse to stop for 15 minutes and talk to all the other mothers who can't bear to let their own little Abby Normals out of their sight. That's why it's called a Parking Lot. And yes, if you stop, put it in Park, get out and walk away you are PARKED, even if you did stupidly leave the engine running. That's not being clever and in accord with the letter of the law. It's idiotic and imbecillic and the rest of us know what you're doing and it pisses us off. You can park in the lot and walk your suet impacted ass to the front door if you simply must but stop parking in the fucking drop off zone.

Not that I'm bitter an angry or anything. Just saying is all. Stop poking the large and easily angered bear. He's been able to ignore the voices in his head so far but they're getting stronger and you do not want to know what they're telling him. Seriously.


28 February 2012

Angus Training Update: OVER And Doubles

I know you must be thinking to yourself "What's up with Angus' training? Why hasn't Six updated us? Is he shirking again or just a lazy bastard"? Well fear not my intrepid readers I have another training post. With pictures! As always, click on the picture for a larger view.

So. Angus is now reliably (more or less) tri-lingual. Voice, whistle and hand commands. His vocabulary includes everything I currently need him to understand to go where I want him to go and do what I want him to do. Mostly. He is still very young and has the concentration of a hyper active gnat on Red Bull. Our training is now geared toward focus and repeatability and we're adding new things slowly. On this day we did add something new; Doubles. Doubles is two birds (note: I use bumpers and birds interchangeably. It's a quirk) in more or less a line with one near and one far. He must retrieve one, deliver, sit and then retrieve the other. We've also introduced him to OVER, which is similar to BACK except given away from the handler and it sends him to the side instead of straight back. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

First up a warm up. remember that the dog has a very short attention span. He must be taken back to Kindergarten from time to time just to keep him sharp. In Angus' case we do some Kindergarten work every time we train. I also keep the training time limited to 5 or 10 minutes per exercise and no more than 20 to 30 minutes total. At this age (he's 9 months) anything longer and he tends to lose interest and goof off. That's bad because I want his natural energy and enthusiasm to be at the forefront. Control is easy when he's ready and nearly impossible when he's not. As he progresses that control will become a natural part of his retrieving life but at this stage everything is fun and wonderful and happy with limited corrections done as gently as possible. YMMV, this is just how I do it. First we go through the basic commands in all three 'languages'. Then he gets some free retrieves where he's allowed to just go get the bumper with almost no control, just a simple BACK command. When he's all nice and warm and eager for the festivities we begin.

We started the day with practicing his OVER. This set up is called the Infield. I have bumpers at First Base, Second Base and Third Base. Angus is placed at SIT on the pitchers mound and I'm at Home. Here's what it looks like. Note that I'm still keeping everything very short. I want him to get the basics before we spread things out and really challenge him.

The command OVER is given with a clear arm movement toward the correct dummy. Here he is doing it very well.

After the retrieve I took him back out to the pitchers mound and a SIT. Then the command BACK and my arm straight up. This picture is fabulous because it shows a behavior I badly want but that is often hard to train for. On the BACK command Angus turned and went back but he'd either lost the bumper or gotten confused. He 'Popped", that is he stopped but he did exactly what I want, no need, him to do. He stopped, faced me and waited for a command. He looked to me for guidance. This shows that he is getting the whole command thing and trusts me to guide him to the prize. This trust is critical for success.

I gave him the BACK command and arm movement again and.....Success!!! I did the happy dance. He did this exercise as perfectly as any 9 month old dog could. I am sooo happy.

And now a quiet interlude with the obligatory artsy picture. My camera person was the lovely Lu. In this photo we can see the ultimate folly of man in his relationship with the world. It might just be Lu feet and fingers with an Angus leg. With Artistes one can never be sure.

A quick word on being flexible in your training and smarter than your dog. Don't get pigeonholed by trainers and books and how everyone else does it. There are times to be creative. You are (probably) smarter than your dog, Use that to your advantage. Case in point. Angus loves to retrieve. He's a stylish and enthusiastic retriever. But. In his enthusiasm he tends to over run, both on the retrieve and in the delivery. When he delivers he runs past me (approximately to Fresno) before turning back. It's a little frustrating and a No No in the retriever world. I want him to come to me, circle behind me and come back to heel. What to do?

I set up with a fence behind me. In order to keep him from crashing into it I gave him some free retrieves and slowly worked us back until the fence was just a few feet behind me. By that time Angus could see it, knew it was there and had to compensate for it.

The result? Better. He wanted to veer off but a quick COME command and HEEL brought him to where he was supposed to be and he got the message. Slow down, focus and think.

Now it was time for Doubles. Remember, I'm keeping things short and fun. In between evolutions he's getting to run, free retrieve and generally play. Lu was there with the kids so he had plenty to do in between rounds.
Here's the set up. If you look closely you'll see two bumpers in this picture, one long and one short. The short is just to the left of the center of the pic and the long just to the right of that and a little further out. I threw the long bird second for a couple of reasons. I want Angus to focus and he needs to be able to bypass a bird or bumper to concentrate on the one he's being sent for. At this stage and age he'll naturally mark the last bird he's seen better than the first one. By throwing the long second he'll more naturally tend toward it when he's sent and it'll give him  chance to see but ignore the short bird. The short bird is then an easier mark precisely because it's short and I'll be better able to direct his focus there and not confuse him. Less chance of a Pop. Make sense?

And here we go. Angus after the long bird. He completely ignored the short bird. Joy! You can see the over run on the retrieve here. It's something I'll address as he progresses but for now I give his enthusiasm and energy a freer hand. Better an over enthusiastic but lesser controlled dog than an over controlled dog who's had the joy beaten out of him. Want to ruin a good dog and crush his potential? Excess control, correction, discipline and training at this stage will do it right quick.

Here's something I learned and highly recommend. When your dog is delivering, or when you're teaching COME, kneel down. You are so much taller and bigger than he is that it's natural for them to be a bit intimidated, especially if they've done something wrong and know it. Kneeling down brings you to their level and makes them far more comfortable. Remember, Angus is still very much a puppy. As he matures and progresses this will be less and less necessary but for now the watchwords are FUN, HAPPY and NONTHREATENING and having Daddy kneeling down on his level sends that message loud and clear in a language all dogs understand.

Here you can see Angus passing the short bird (look just below his neck), ignoring it completely and focusing on me. This is where the whistle can pay big dividends. I whistled him all the way in. If he had paused or veered I'd have waved my arms, jumped up and down and increased my whistling from COME to FRANTIC. Anything to focus him away from the short bird and onto COME. Fortunately Angus handled it like a champ.

Success and on to the short bird quickly. I heeled Angus, refocused him and sent him. He picked up the short like he'd been doing it all his life.

After some Doubles I wanted to work some longer retrieves, as long as I could throw them. At some point I'll have to use my lovely assistant to throw bumpers while out from us but for now my throws are long enough.

Angus is fairly fast and runs after a retrieve like there's no tomorrow. That's something that cannot be taught, he either has enthusiasm for his calling or he doesn't. Pick your breeder carefully.

The catch. Again, the 'come hither' posture from the semi-competent trainer.

And the delivery to heel. What a Good Dog!! Praise and love at this stage is also critical. Do it every chance you get.

Remember, all work and no play makes Angus an unhappy boy. Besides, are there two more suitable companions than a dog and a child? The Girl is learning the ropes of dog training. She's mostly just watching and asking questions for the nonce but I include her whenever I can and that will increase as Angus and she progress. She's already a fine handler and developing her command voice. Hey, gotta pass along the love whenever you can. For Angus, he considers play a natural part of training. It's all the same to him and that's the environment we're trying to foster. If he feels pressure he'll be more likely to fold. If he sees the whole thing as fun he's much more likely to rise to his potential. Give him the tools to succeed and watch him perform.

What's next? We'll be working many of the same exercises until Angus gets the concepts down pat. I'll be adding some complexity and distance as we go but slowly and always going back to Kindergarten from time to time. The next thing for him to learn will be blinds. A blind retrieve is one where he neither sees the mark nor fall. He has no idea anything is out there. That's where the bond and trust we've built up will come in. He'll learn to trust me completely. If I send him after a retrieve he'll go, confidant that Daddy will find him a bird. And that's the reward for a good retriever, that bird. We started him down that trail with the doubles. We'll also start spreading out the doubles so we have to re-position for the second retrieve.

I'm excited. Angus is learning and performing beyond my expectations and hopes. He's fast becoming a stylish and competent retriever. I may even go back on my oath and find a Retriever Field Trial and enter him as a Derby Dog. I think he could do very well right now. We'll see.

I hope you find these posts of value. I admit to being a bit obsessive/compulsive where it comes to my dogs and training. It's fun for both of us and I've always said that a dog employed doing what he was bred for is a happy and content dog.


27 February 2012

I Need A Hug

I put something heavy down on my workbench, inadvertently sitting it on a full tube of sizing lube. All over my wooden bench.

An entire tube. It's everywhere. Dies, powder scale, boxes. Everywhere except, you know, on those actual cases I had ready for...resizing. Sigh.

I may cry.


People Who MUST Be Underpaid

I got the stomach drops just watching this. Seriously, I get dizzy on my roof. I don't know how much they pay these guys but whatever it is it can't be enough. I couldn't embed the video so It's at the link. Wait for the animation to end and then hang on to your lunch.

1768 feet straight up.

These guys make clinking sounds when they walk.


25 February 2012

Sunday Kipling

Saturday was warm and fine. We took the kids to the park and worked Angus til even he was tired. Today is a day for family and friends and rest from our travails. May this day find you taking of that rest that you earn every day.
(BTW, I've turned off capcha, if you're still seeing it please let me know)

To Wolcott Balestier

Beyond the path of the outmost sun through utter darkness hurled --
Further than ever comet flared or vagrant star-dust swirled --
Live such as fought and sailed and ruled and loved and made our world.

They are purged of pride because they died, they know the worth of their bays,
They sit at wine with the Maidens Nine and the Gods of the Elder Days,
It is their will to serve or be still as fitteth our Father's praise.

'Tis theirs to sweep through the ringing deep where Azrael's outposts are,
Or buffet a path through the Pit's red wrath when God goes out to war,
Or hang with the reckless Seraphim on the rein of a red-maned star.

They take their mirth in the joy of the Earth --
they dare not grieve for her pain --
They know of toil and the end of toil, they know God's law is plain,
So they whistle the Devil to make them sport who know that Sin is vain.

And ofttimes cometh our wise Lord God, master of every trade,
And tells them tales of His daily toil, of Edens newly made;
And they rise to their feet as He passes by, gentlemen unafraid.

To these who are cleansed of base Desire, Sorrow and Lust and Shame --
Gods for they knew the hearts of men, men for they stooped to Fame,
Borne on the breath that men call Death, my brother's spirit came.

He scarce had need to doff his pride or slough the dross of Earth --
E'en as he trod that day to God so walked he from his birth,
In simpleness and gentleness and honour and clean mirth.

So cup to lip in fellowship they gave him welcome high
And made him place at the banquet board -- the Strong Men ranged thereby,
Who had done his work and held his peace and had no fear to die.

Beyond the loom of the last lone star, through open darkness hurled,
Further than rebel comet dared or hiving star-swarm swirled,
Sits he with those that praise our God for that they served His world.

24 February 2012

Major Zeigenfuss On The Afghan Koran Burnings

Here. I know you're already probably reading him but if not he's definitely worth your time. It's his take on the Koran burnings and the ensuing riots and killings as well as the Afghan and American response. You know, from a soldier who is actually over there and is actually knowledgable about the situation, conditions and people involved. A man who knows what happened, why it happened and how everyone responded (or didn't as the case may be).

Thanks for the info Sir and I agree. It's the only sure solution. Burn it down and start all over again.


22 February 2012

Stolen Valor

Stolen Valor is the act of claiming and/or wearing medals you are not entitled to. It's been all over in the last few years and some of the pretenders are nothing more than human garbage. I'm not going to name those people because I will not utter their names here, except perhaps with a curse and a hope for righteous justice to be done upon them. I will point you at two recent posts about the subject, one by Ed Rasimus and another by Navy1, the Mellow Jihadi. Both men are retired or active duty military officers and know whereof they speak. There are many good folks and websites dedicated to identifying and calling to heel those who make themselves ot to be the heroes they most definitely are not but I'll put up links to these; Stolen Valor, Report Stolen Valor, and the Sterner's website Home Of Heroes. They're all (and many more I haven't mentioned) doing great work that I support whole heartedly.

Here's why those who claim honors and accolades they're not entitled to really piss me off. In 2009, while I was still working as a cop, I met a young man in my city I called T (to preserve his privacy). He was a returned Iraq veteran who had suffered horrific injuries in combat and ended up completely blind. Lu made him a quilt and I wrote about it here. T never asked for pity nor sympathy nor handouts. He was going back to college and determined to get on with his life. We at the PD as well as the guys at the Fire Department took him to our hearts and did what we could and what he would accept as our way of honoring him, his service and his sacrifice for us. But he never complained nor exaggerated. He did what he did and was what he was and in my book he'll always be a hero. A man I both admire and love deeply.

What those who lie about their service do is steal from T and all those like him. Steal their honorable service and sacrifice just as surely as if they went into their houses and took it from them physically. It's a crime and I don't give a damn what the apologists and excusers think. It's outrageous and just another symptom of a diseased society that this is even being debated. There is no argument. Steal Valor, go to jail. It's an absolutely black and white issue to me. This isn't telling some girl or guy you're a Hollywood producer in the hope of scoring. These men and women have laid it all on the line and some have suffered horribly and been forever maimed as a result of their actual courage and service. Some have died. I am unworthy of them and proud as hell to call them brothers and sisters. I am honored by them and what they have done.

With that said, and in the spirit of complete disclosure, let me give my own service awards. I'll exclude those from my days as a police officer because that's not what I'm talking about here. This is about honorable military service. I was in the Utah National guard for 4 years and 8 months. I rose to Sgt. E-5. I went on active duty and spent 4 years in the Army where I once again rose to Sgt. (don't ask). The sum total of my military medals is;
The Good Conduct Medal
The Army Achievement Medal
That's it. I served honorably if not exactly with great distinction. I was a good soldier and I like to think a good NCO. I'm extremely proud of my service. I was a Cold Warrior and never served a single minute in combat but that does not detract from my service. Not a whit. I was a Fire Direction Specialist (13 Echo) in Field Artillery Batteries. I was good even competent at my job. Nothing else is required. I have self awarded myself the title of Six here because it's my blog and I'm the commander of my little slice of it and thence I can do watever I want. Nothing more. I thought about calling myself Supreme Dictator For Life And Overlord Of All I Survey but Six was shorter :) No Special Ops, no combat time, no jumping out of perfectly functioning aircraft. The closest I came was being assigned to a Light Infantry Division and that's a little like saying we were elite because they took away our 5 tons and made us walk everywhere. Yeah, not so much.

And that's what it all really comes down to. If you served honorably that's enough. You don't have to be Special Forces, Seals, Delts, Scout Sniper, Airborne, Fighter Pilot, Ninjaspecialopsciatrainedanddangerouskillerofeveryonewiththespecialpowerofthetouchofdeath to be proud of your service. Revel in the fact that you were one of the few, especially in these days. If you never served then serve now. Join or if that's not possible find another way to support those who have. Anyone who is a veteran is special and I don't mean that in the short bus sense. Be proud of yourself and tell everyone about your true service. Being a veteran already makes you a member of a very small group and entitles you to call brother and sister everyone else who has ever served honorably. That is a wonderful thing. I can call Sarge and Ed Rasimus, both two tour Vietnam combat veterans brother. I get chills. Reflected glory maybe but that's Ok, we're all veterans and we share a common heritage of service. That's all any veteran can ask.

Don't be a douche and for sure don't lie. There's no need. Being a veteran already sets you apart from the herd. You put yourself in a position where you might have been called to give your all no matter the actual terms of your service. The vast majority of Americans cannot say that and wouldn't understand it if you tattoed Service, Honor, Duty and Country on their foreheads. There's no need to prevaricate and it astounds me that some veterans will.

If you're a civilian then be proud of your Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen. Help them and support them and love them and you'll find their reflected glory to be a truly marvelous thing. Don't pretend to be one of them but honor them and their sacrifices because, no matter what branch or dates of service or anything else, if they served honorably then they sacrificed for your greater good.

My brothers and sisters, I deeply love each and every one of you. I am proud to call myself a veteran and to count myself among you, humble as my own service may have been. I am proud of my service as I am of yours. Thank you will never be quite enough. Keep the faith and never let anyone demean you, your service or your brothers and sisters in arms. Don't let the liars get away with it. They do nothing but bring shame and dishonor to us all.

Eric 'Six'

21 February 2012

This Blog Kills Fascists (Too)

Borepatch has hit another one out of the park with his post This Blog Kills Fascists. RTWT. He invites us all to join him and I'm in though there's little I can add to his words. Please excuse the language, I'm on a rant. Again.

What really jerks my chain is the overt, insidious and obvious lying that goes on in the modern American political process. Most of us aren't stupid (well, some of us I guess). We can see and we know that actions speak louder than words. Fascist is as Fascist does not as he or she speaks. Pelosi can lie about Catholic support for what the church sees as a mortal sin all she wants, doesn't mean it's true. Mittens and Newt and Santorum et al can talk about freedom and rolling back the liberal mandates and how they're the only true conservative until the cows come home. Don't mean a thing because they're lying. All of them. There isn't a single candidate for this country's highest political office, on either side of the aisle, who isn't a wanna be Supreme Dictator For Life except one and his foreign policy is so loony Daffy Duck thinks he's nuts.

Obama is worse. If he says he won't cum in all our mouths you better get a Kleenex handy because the ejaculatory explosion is imminent. Hey pal, here's a clue. I know you're lying because I can see your lips moving.

I've been trying to keep politics on my back burner simply because it's causing me to despair and I hate that. It's whiny and weak and ultimately impotent. But here's what I want to know. Where the hell are the conservative firebrands? Where are the candidates who are the best representatives of real conservatism? Romney, Santorum and Gingrich? Really? Why not just trot out Kerry, Hillary and Franks and be done with it? At least they'll promise me a kiss while they slip it in.

Hell, where are the true liberal firebrands? Where is the vaunted ACLU and why am I constantly hearing the sound of crickets chirping every time that person in the Whitehouse nullifies another provision of the Constitution? Where are the calls for 'The Man' to get out of our lives and leave us all alone? Whatever happened to 'Do Your Own Thing'? How come all the hippies have traded in their beads and flowers for crisp black uniforms and shiny hob nailed boots?

Gah! The hypocrisy and pandering leave me dry mouthed and angry. Screw this and screw them. I'm not voting for any of the republican big three, no matter what nor will I cast a vote for that person in the Whitehouse. I refuse to endorse soft and slow fascism over quick and brutal. Let them beat each other over the head and to hell with the hindmost. I'm to the point where I'm prepared to, well, as H.L. Menken so famously said, "Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats". Yeah, that's exactly where I am and the republican party had better be listening because I am most definitely not alone.

Like the Soviets of the old U.S.S.R., the Fascists on both sides of the political aisle understand nothing except raw power. Naked political force. Until we stop accepting things as they are and start requiring things as we want them to be we are doomed as a free Republic. For me it stops here. I will not actively participate in the destruction of everything I hold dear and which I have supported and defended with my blood, sweat, treasure and tears. I will not hold my nose and pull the lever for the lesser evil. There are no words, coercion or promises that will change my mind. I will not help the next, latest, newest, least objectionable or most popular lying sack of shit Fascist further erode my grandchildren's freedom.

No Romney. No Gingrich. No Santorum. No Obama. No.

Third Party? Bring it on baby. I'm ready.


20 February 2012

Book Review. Shadow Ops: Control Point By Myke Cole

I am not a professional book reviewer nor do I play one on TV. I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Some people think I cannot be trusted with sharp implements. Your mileage may vary. Void where prohibited by law. Do not operate heavy machinery while consuming this product. May cause leaky bowels.

I just finished this book and I really liked it. It's pure military SF with a bit of sword and sorcery thrown in for fun. The author is Myke Cole and it's best to start there. First, here's a link to his website. Myke is a relatively new novelist (though he has written short stories and non-fiction dealing with a very wide variety of subject matter). Shadow Ops: Control Point is the first in a series of current/near future military science fiction novels. A quick gander at Myke's biography reveals a man with a deep background in the subject matter, including 3 Iraq tours, something that I think is key to this book.

I'm going to be as vague on specifics from this book as I can lest I become the Spoiler Alert Troll and I absolutely do not want to do that. Still, there will be some divulging here, it just can't be helped. Sorry in advance. I have a reason for trying to be as vague as possible. I want you to experience the book as I did. Not quite prepared.

Born in the late 50s, I was raised in the 60s and 70s with the popular SF writers of the day. My primary go to authors were the usual cast, Heinlein (PBUH), Bradbury, Tolkein, Azimov, De Camp, Howard and the like. I later moved on to Ringo, Kratman, Weber, et al. Throw in Clancy, Dale Brown and the other military fiction authors and you can readily identify my tastes. In those books the heroes did exactly as one would expect and the bad guys were readily identifiable and predictable. Everyone fitted neatly into their assigned slots and the story went forward comfortably amd amicably. Not so here.

This is my first foray into a book written by the current generation of war fighter, a veteran of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are undoubtedly more but this is my first and I was struck by the starkly different feel between Myke and those who were influenced by WWII, Vietnam and especially the Cold War. There is a lot of gray and much less black and white in the individual characters actions even while the story is uniformly one on the differences between good and evil and the triumph of freedom over coercion and slavery. Let me give an example.

In the first few pages I quickly identified the hero and the villain (Turns out I was partially wrong. There are plenty of both and none of the above as it were but I digress). I decided I liked the one and hated the other. Expected parameters and easily identified actions resulting from the character's situation. But wait. Within the first couple of chapters things began to morph a little and I found myself bashing the hero and asking him "WTF!? Why in the hell did you just do that?!" and kinda understanding and maybe even sympathizing with the villain. "Dude's just doing his job you know?" The whole book is like that. Myke's characters are rich and all too frailly human. As I said, there's a lot of gray here and Myke is unafraid to let his characters make major blunders and some of them are real lulus. Don't get me wrong here; there are clear protagonists and antagonists and ne'er the twain shall meet but their individual journeys and the choices they make along the way are the meat and gravy of this book. I found it fascinating and refreshing.

In this book you will find alternate dimensions, worlds, beasts, monsters, indegenes, FOBs, military hardware, rebels, outcasts and magic all operating under the auspices of, or in direct conflict with, the U. S. government and most especially the Army and it's subsidiary contractors. There are epic malfunctions and heroic actions but not always what's expected nor by the folks you might assume.

Wait, did I fail to mention the magic? Well, since it is on the book jacket I guess I can clarify a bit without giving anything away. It is kinda central after all.

Like Correia's Hard Magic, the world has suddenly come under the influence of magic and folks who can practice it. The government is trying hard to control the magic by, let's just say constitutionally irregular means. The similarities pretty much end there. Where Hard Magic is set in a noirish alternate 1930s, Shadow Ops is set firmly in the present or very near future. Shadow Ops spends it's time in mostly Army settings with Soldiers and Sorcerers, the Army's Supernatural Operations Corps (SOC). There are two branches of magic; authorized and prohibited. One is "allowed" to serve (and I do mean serve) in the Army, the other is hunted down and...well that may be giving too much away. Let's just say it's a fascinating take on Parole and leave it at that. It's also a fascinating take on the sins of incrementalism and the slow erosion of rights, especially for those who are deemed dangerous and anti-social.

The story ends in a place very different from it's beginning. Along the way the protagonist manages to swing between self service (that's a hint right there) and patriotism with a stop or two at despair and reality in between. The antagonists, and there are several, also exhibit complex emotions, motivations and behaviors. Even the baddest of the bad (and that's pretty dang bad). There are love interests, betrayals, fighting, death (including some pretty cold blooded murder), gunfights, hardware, a war front the folks back home decidedly do not know about, lots of magic and an entirely new branch of the Army. I mentioned an indigenous people. They play a pretty central role, one in particular (am I giving things away? Crap!) and while not they are not extensively explored I get the idea that there's a lot more to come from them in future books.

The thing that reached out and grabbed me and kept me coming back for more is something I mentioned near the top of this post. The take on conflict exhibited by an Iraq War veteran. Myke is not cut from the same cloth as the usual suspects. He has a truly unique viewpoint and manages to put that down on paper in a way that had me uncertain what to expect next. He has created a fairly dark world full of expedience, intimidation and fear (but also beauty and hope) and filled it with complex and unpredictable characters who nonetheless strive for the same things soldiers the world over have always pursued; Duty, Honor and Country, or at least as close as they can come given the particularities of the governing system they must operate within and their ability to see where their duty to those principals lies. What price redemption? For this Cold Warrior it was eye opening.

Here's my bottom line. Based on my tastes I should have hated this book but instead I loved it and I can't wait for more. It was thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable and I highly recommend it. The fact that Myke is also a Warrior as well as a pretty decent sort and who has earned his stripes is just icing on the cake.


Here's the FTC weasel words. While Myke and I did exchange challenge coins we did it as brothers in arms, not collaborators. Neither he nor I recieved any financial incentive for this review nor did he solicit it or influence me in any way, matter or form. Capiche?

Crossroads Of The West Gun Show Report

Lu and I went to the Crossroads of the West gun show in St. George on Sunday. I make sure to note the day because I really hope it was better on Saturday. I kinda doubt it but one can always hope.

It was held at the Dixie Center which is the usual venue for such in our area. It's actually a nice facility holding such displays as the Quilting Show that we also went to last Fall. Frankly, I had a better time at the Quilting fest.

The Mad Ogre recently had some things to say about some of the shows he's been to lately that were put on by the same folks. I'll echo some of his thoughts here.

First was a dearth of booths selling actual, you know, guns and guns type things. I didn't count but I estimate there were no more than a dozen or so actual firearms tables. There were as many or more selling food, jewelry and knives. I don't really mind but I paid to see a gun show. I can choose whether or not to pay my money to see the knife show or the survival food show or the jewelry show. I paid my 16 bucks to see guns and those things that are directly related. My advice to the organizers; If you're gonna have all that other stuff in there you owe it to the paying public to market it as such. Calling it a gun show, as if that was going to be the main display, is misleading.

The few guns we did see were, in the main, badly over priced, ordinary or crap. As an example I saw a very used Airweight selling for over 400 bucks that I just bought new for $369 plus taxes and fees, the same taxes and fees I'd have had to pay to that seller. I saw a lot of junk plus the usual milsurp crap that seems to show up at all these events. All of it priced way more than it was worth. If I want BDUs and Alice packs I can find it a lot cheaper on the internet and I won't have to put up with some grouchy a-hole.

That's another complaint. Every seller seemed to be pissed they had to deal with actual potential customers. I got the distinct feeling they thought they were doing us all a favor by displaying their fine collection of rust and ordinary as if it was the crown jewels and we should be grateful for a glimpse and the chance to plunk down hard earned currency on no more than their say so. At one table I saw some boxes that I assume contained actual firearms. I say assume because they weren't displayed just tagged. I heard the propreitor say the following to an attendee who was perusing his wares and I swear I am not making this up;
"If you got a thousand bucks in your pocket I'll let you see it."
He was not kidding. When he saw what must have been the incredulous look on my face he scowled and shot me the Stink Eye Supreme. We moved on but on the very unlikely chance that he ever reads these words I have this message. I have a thousand bucks pal. In fact I have a lot more than that. If the tag on that particular firearm was accurate I was indeed interested and had the werewithal to make a purchase if I should have been so motivated. By acting the way you did I wouldn't have given you a cent for anything you had or will ever have should you live to be a million. A little salesmanship may be in order should you decide you want to, you know, maybe sell some of those guns you took the time to bring with you. I noticed you had quite a large stock still by the time I wandered by at 11:30 on the last day of the show. Just saying.

There was one, count 'em one, table selling bulk ammo and they were pretty much sold out by Sunday. I didn't think there'd be heaps of cheap ammunition left just looking for a new home but one table?

The Tactical Ninja crowd were represented by RIP Tactical. Honestly, I have no idea of how good or poor their products are but the representatives were wearing their t-shirt. You can see it if you go to the link and scroll down but let me save you the trouble. It has a red coffin inscribed with R.I.P. superimposed over a skull with crossed bone and sword. Under that it says "See you in Hell." That's pretty classy right there.

All in all Lu and I both were badly disappointed. Limited stock, too many non gunny vendors and downright rude sellers. The crowd was a bit thin and we were there before noon so I doubt things got any better after we left. That's a clue for the promoters. Maybe things were rocking on Saturday and we just missed out on all the coolness but somehow I kinda doubt it.

A wasted day and wasted 16 dollars. We will not be going back to this or to any other Crossroads of the West gunshows.


18 February 2012

Sunday Kipling

It's a fine day to be alive. I hope all is well with you. I'm in a fey mood today and this selection tickles my fancy. Whiskey and golden haired wenches. What man can resist?

The Fall of Jock Gillespie

This fell when dinner-time was done --
'Twixt the first an' the second rub --
That oor mon Jock cam' hame again
To his rooms ahint the Club.

An' syne he laughed, an' syne he sang,
An' syne we thocht him fou,
An' syne he trumped his partner's trick,
An' garred his partner rue.

Then up and spake an elder mon,
That held the Spade its Ace --
God save the lad! Whence comes the licht
"That wimples on his face?"

An' Jock he sniggered, an' Jock he smiled,
An' ower the card-brim wunk: --
"I'm a' too fresh fra' the stirrup-peg,
"May be that I am drunk."

"There's whusky brewed in Galashils
"An' L. L. L. forbye;
"But never liquor lit the lowe
"That keeks fra' oot your eye.

"There's a third o' hair on your dress-coat breast,
"Aboon the heart a wee?"
"Oh! that is fra' the lang-haired Skye
"That slobbers ower me."

"Oh! lang-haired Skyes are lovin' beasts,
"An' terrier dogs are fair,
"But never yet was terrier born,
"Wi' ell-lang gowden hair!

"There's a smirch o' pouther on your breast,
"Below the left lappel?"
"Oh! that is fra' my auld cigar,
"Whenas the stump-end fell."

"Mon Jock, ye smoke the Trichi coarse,
"For ye are short o' cash,
"An' best Havanas couldna leave
"Sae white an' pure an ash.

"This nicht ye stopped a story braid,
"An' stopped it wi' a curse.
"Last nicht ye told that tale yoursel' --
"An' capped it wi' a worse!

"Oh! we're no fou! Oh! we're no fou!
"But plainly we can ken
"Ye're fallin', fallin' fra the band
"O' cantie single men!"

An' it fell when siris-shaws were sere,
An' the nichts were lang and mirk,
In braw new breeks, wi' a gowden ring,
Oor Jocke gaed to the Kirk!

I Swore I Was Going To Just Let It Go


17 February 2012

Training Help For Those In Dire Need

DaddyBear over at DaddyBear's Den has a post up in his Thought For The Day. In it he ponders setting up a foundation to arm people who have a protective order against someone violent but cannot arm themselves. In the meantime he offers his expertise to train anyone who is armed but untrained and who is in similar dire circumstances. I echo his thoughts and make the same pledge.

If you're someone who is in fear of your life at the hands of another who is a violent sociopath and you have access to a legally owned firearm and in need of instruction in the southern Utah area give me a holler. Especially if you're female and there's a domestic violence restraining order/protective order against him. Sexist? Maybe but it's also reality. Women are horribly vulnerable in these circumstances and the ratio of male offenders to female is astronomical. I saw way too much of this when I was a cop and if I can help I will. I have a couple of nice little .22s that we can start with and then transition to your self defense gun. I'll provide the .22 ammo and cover any range fees and if you're in a real bind I can also part with a little duty ammo as long as it's in a caliber I have in stock. I am not a professional but I do hold firearms instructor certifications from the NRA, Sacramento County Sheriff and FBI as well as 15 years of a 24 year career spent teaching shooting to other cops.

I mentioned to DaddyBear that we should try and take this viral. We gunnies talk about about this stuff a lot, it's time for me and those who agree to take another step. If we can help we should.


16 February 2012

Borepatch's Angel

Borepatch has lost his little One Eyed Angel. We grieve with you BP. I know that right now she's with Lagniappe, Trooper and all the rest of our beloved 4 legged friends we've loved and lost, running and playing. Free of pain and age. Take heart my friend. She was family, taken in and loved by people who gave her a home she would never have otherwise had. The very embodiment of loving hearts.

How do we ever bear it? If you get a chance please give him and Mrs. BP some love. It's hard. It's so very hard.


15 February 2012

Lu's Gun

There's a lot of information and opinion out there on carry guns, what, how and why. A lot of it is very good and some is downright awful. I think the final selection for a self defense gun is dependant on a few things. Shooter experience, needs, strengths, weaknesses and comfort level. Now add in caliber, reliability, ammunition capacity, price (and budget) and local laws. Throw it all in a big bowl, stir well and voila! A new gun is added to armory. Here's Lu's choice (and it was her choice) with the reasoning that went into it.

That's a Smith and Wesson Model 642, aka an Airweight. Price out the door was $421.00.


Model: 642
Caliber: .38 Special +p rated
Capacity: 5 Rounds
Barrel Length: 1.875″
Front Sight: Integral Front
Rear Sight: Fixed
Grip: Rubber Grips
Frame: Small – Centennial Style
Finish: Matte
Overall Length: 6 3/8″
Material: Alloy/Stainless Steel
Weight Empty: 15 oz.

We looked at a lot of guns but the choices came down to three. The Ruger LC9, the Kahr PM9 and the Airweight. We already have a Sig P230 and my little Glock 26 but I don't particularly care for the .380 and the Glock is a bit large for Lu to tote around. Lu handled them all and has shot the Sig and Glock (as well as the rest of my semi auto pistols) and there the issue finally became obvious to me. She's massively uncomfortable with the semi auto pistols.

It's completely my fault. I spent so much time shooting, going to shooting schools and instructing others on all things shooting that I neglected her training and familiarization. Too busy with my career and subconsciously doing what I think a lot of other gunnies out there are guilty of. Assuming that everyone else is as nuts about guns as we are and that simple instruction will carry the same weight as regular range time and bullets down range. Oddly enough, it's not so.

I noticed that whenever I took Lu out to shoot one of the high capacity bullet hoses she immediately showed trepidation and hesitation. She'd take a gun she's shot before and handle it like it was about to sprout poison spikes. I could see the consternation and uncertainty on her face. I chalked it up to simple nerves and concentration and went on with the lesson, blithely confident that she was soaking up the instruction the same way I, or any serious gunny, would have. Contrast that with her handling of the revolvers. Then she was confident, smiling, happy and in control. Her favorite is her stainless Vaquero which should have told me something way sooner than it did.

Lu is a product of her environment and experience, just like the rest of us. She was raised on bolts, levers and revolvers. Our early life together was a continuation of those experiences as that was what was out there and what we could afford. When I transitioned to the world of semi autos I failed to take her along with me. Again, it's that gunny in me and the assumption I made that she'd simply absorb it all by osmosis or something. But she didn't. She's not a gunny. Oh, she loves to shoot and can do so very well. She loves her guns and the time we spend together making money into smoke, holes and broken bottles. But she's not a gun nut. She doesn't spend hours with the Cabela's catalogue or on the internet browsing forums and gun blogs. She doesn't read and remember everything she sees on the subjects of caliber, ballistics, holsters, ammunition performance, etc. ad infinitum. She likes the things she's comfortable with and knows well. She loves her lever and pump and Vaquero. She's not out there looking for the latest and greatest super duper whiz bang bullet hose and tactical ninja rig. She likes wood and steel and things she can understand without 40 hours of intense instruction. She's great under pressure but, like all of us, pressure she is equipped to deal with. Give her an emergency within the bounds of her competence and she's amazing. Take her out of her comfort zone and she's hesitant, uncertain and slow. We're all like that to one degree or another but we tend to forget when what we're talking about is near and dear to us. Like guns to gunnies.

But in the world of self defense handguns hesitant, uncertain and slow are threats to life and limb and that is unacceptable. Here's an example. When I took Lu out to shoot, say the Sig 226, I'd go over basic safety rules and hand her the gun. I'd go over the manual of arms, have her load up and point her at the target. You could see the wheels turning. I'd tell her "It's ready. There's no safety. Just point and shoot. When it's empty reload and do it again." She trusted me but always acted like there were things she was afraid to forget. She'd look at the controls as if she was supposed to know what they all did but didn't. In my arrogance I put it down to insufficient trigger time (as was indeed the case) but that wasn't the crux of the issue.

She liked shooting those guns but was afraid to trust her life to her ability to manipulate it correctly and competently in a crisis. Shooting for fun is one thing. Shooting for self defense is something altogether different. That was the heart of the matter.

By the time I realized my massive failing (and it is mine, not hers) it was very late in the game. We're in Utah now, not california and though the need for a CCW might not be as dear here as it was there, here we could actually get her a CCW as opposed to the People's Republic where we could not. And I was determined that she was going to have the option of going about armed. Now what?

Training was a potential solution but again, she's not a gunny. But she was competent on those things she knew well and was comfortable with. Bolts, levers, pumps and revolvers. She liked the bullet hoses on the range and within the narrow confines of no pressure shooting. Not so much when the pressure to perform got ratcheted up. Not her fault, it's not even a fault, it's just how she was built based on her experience and training (or lack of. Again, that's on me). So together we went shopping. A search for her perfect carry gun. The journey took us in a specific direction but I was determined that she'd have all the knowledge she needed to make an informed and comfortable decision. She shot every pistol we had and handled those we didn't. We left nothing out from semis to modern revolvers to SAA. It was very instructive for me. Now that I (finally) knew what to look for I could see it on her face every time she even handled a gun. With the pistols she was consistently hesitant and uncertain. With the revolvers she was happy, enthusiastic and confident. In the end she chose the Airweight.

She loved it from the very first time she picked it up. You could see her face light up immediately. Here was a small, lightweight handgun with technology she could understand and manipulate with confidence and speed. I let her choose, right down to the laser. The model comes from the factory either with or without a Crimson Trace laser. She chose no laser. The grip just feels better to her and comfort relates directly to shooting speed and accuracy. I'm good with that. All things mechanical will eventually fail and in that event your shooting skills will make the difference. It's also in a major caliber and since I'm a handloader I can tailor her ammunition to her abilities and needs. Done. Bought and out the door. Lu was giggly with delight.

We took it out on her birthday and ran a few cylinders through it. She's in love. How much so? The DO came out with us and brought her 2 1/2 inch 66. After shooting both Lu remarked that she no longer liked shooting the 66, a gun she used to adore. Stacked against her new Airweight it wasn't even close. Heck, I like it so much I'm considering buying one of my own and retiring the baby Glock. I'm definitely selling the Sig P230. She even did reloads sans speedloaders or strips with speed and aplomb. She manipulates it like it's an extension of her hand. This gun is right smack dab in the middle of her wheelhouse and darn if that girl didn't hit it right out of the park.

It's hard for me to convey how I feel about both my dereliction in her pistol training and my massively incorrect assumptions about her comfort levels with the tools I provided her with. For years I sent her out in the world with a Glock 19 she was ill equipped to defend herself with. My fault. Mine. I've learned a great deal from this though and am taking those lessons to heart. I hope I'm now a better husband and instructor than I was. Frankly, it'd be hard for me to have failed any more completely and a worse failure, in this context, doesn't bear dwelling on. If you're an instructor, whether for family or the larger public, it bears thinking on.

But now the ship has been righted. A few more range sessions and she'll be ready for her CCW class. I sent an e-mail to Michael at Michaels Custom Holsters and a new carry holster for a J Frame Smith will soon be in the outing. Anyone know the proper speedloaders and a good source? Like I said, the girl loves her new gun and wants all the cool stuff for it. It's incredible what happens when you couple the right shooter with the right tool. Amazing.

I feel incredibly good this morning. I've managed to correct a horrible oversight and equip my beloved with a tool that may save her life. That she loves it is pure icing. Today, I am a better gunny.


PS: One thing I forgot to include. In California my wait for a gun was 10 days. I asked the clerk how long the wait here was and he said "It usually runs about 30 minutes but after the first time it's much shorter." Gotta love living in Free America!

14 February 2012

Happy Birthday Lu

You're just as beautiful as the day I married you more than 33 years ago. Happy Birthday My Love.

Your grateful and loving husband.

13 February 2012

Use Of Force, Mindset And Choices

On Saturday I mentioned that I'm reading a new book by Myke Cole. Today I was perusing his blog and ran across this post on Use of Force. I encourage everyone to go read it. It's short and very much to the point. Agree or disagree it's at the very least food for thought. I happen to agree with him.

I spent 33 years in uniform. 9 as a soldier (Army and UTARNG) and 24 as a cop. In all that time I never once badly hurt anyone. I know you tactical guys will look down your noses at me for such a confession but it's a record I'm proud of because my duty was to Protect and Serve first. No shootings, no stickings, no taser use. Heck, I never even used my OC/Mace. Lots and lots of hands on (we had a lot of bars and drunks are generally not open to logical dissuasion) but I never had to ratchet up the use of force beyond that and pointing my firearm at a very few. Close but only that. Why? I like to think it's because of my mindset and the choices that mindset triggered. Let me explain.

When I began my career as a blue suiter I was asked a question. What martial art would I study? I thought it over and chose.....none. I decided early on that my job, my duty, wasn't to beat someone senseless it was to control violent situations using as little force as possible. That's right there in the UoF continuum, use as little force as necessary to gain control and compliance. I decided on another direction. The gym. I became a power lifter. I got as large and strong as I legally could (no PEDs. Ever). Why? Again it goes back to the use of force continuum. The first rung on that ladder is presence. An officer by his or her very presence in a law enforcement situation is exerting force. The uniform, gun and badge. Don't think so? Think back on any encounter with authority you've ever had where you were either the focus or directly (or indirectly) involved with those who were the focus. Did you feel tension? Perhaps a bit of trepidation or even intimidation? That's force and the officer was exerting it on you. I fear that too many of my brothers and sisters make one of two mistakes in this area. Either they forget how intimidating their very presence can be or they rely too heavily on it's 'magical' ability to quell any situation, no matter how potentially violent. The former is a flaw in the veteran and the latter in the inexperienced.

Back to the gym and why it was my choice. In my experience bad guys run into three distinct categories;
Serious Felons
Psychosis/Hard Drugs
Everyone Else
There are some overlaps and it's not by any means all inclusive but it'll do for the purposes of this post.
With Everyone Else I wanted to give them every opportunity I could to recognize their error of their ways and realize that challenging me was probably a losing proposition and to not go there in the first place. Oh, there is always the guy who bristles and pumps his chest and is going to fight just because but they're the exception not the rule. Anecdotally it seems to have worked as I seldom got challenged and when I did...well, let me cover that further in just a bit. With Psychosis/Hard Drugs it's a crap shoot. Nothing is really certain except for the presence of Murphy and there's just no way to predict how they'll react. I've arrested guys on Meth/PCP/Coke who went readily into custody. I've arrested drunks that fought like madmen. I've also had skinny little crankers try to take knives to my tender hide so, like I said, it's anything goes.

Serious Felons are people for whom crime and a criminal lifestyle are choices. They are what they are. They will seldom reform (there are notable exceptions, one of whom reads this blog and to whom I tip my cap) and are always looking for easy prey. They are always watching, measuring and calculating. Take a tour through your local jail or better yet a prison. You'll see what I'm talking about pretty quick. When they have an encounter with law enforcement you can rest assured they're taking the officer's temperature. But they are not stupid, just narcissistic and coldly calculating. When they are contacted by an officer they go through a risk/reward analysis. I break them down like this;
1. I can't take him and if I try I'll get hurt.
2. I might take him but I'll probably get hurt.
3. I can probably take him but I'll probably get hurt.
4. I can take him but I might get hurt.
5. I can take him and I won't get hurt. 

It's simplistic but you get the idea. It's a classic OODA Loop, one that both Serious Felons and Everyone Else goes through if they have ideas about challenging the police. Now here's where my choice comes back in. By my obvious size and strength I have altered the Loop. They don't have to be concerned just with what hangs from my bat belt and my skills (or lack) with those tools, they have to consider what I might do to them with just my hands if they choose poorly. Physical power is something both the Felons and Everyone Else understands at a gut level. The Felons because they have been through one of the toughest Darwinian schools out there, prison, where the strongest and most ruthless makes the rules. It's pure intimidation, I readily admit that, but it kept both me and everyone I ever had contact with alive and relatively unscathed. And if the Felon, Everyone Else or Psychosis/Hard Drugs got frisky and tried me then I was in a better position to control them short of an ass kicking or terminal ventilation. Most went compliantly into cuffs even if they then went off as they were being put in the cruiser. It's all about face. Give most people, especially Serious Felons, a chance to save face and they'll usually react predictably and even reasonably. Back them into a corner and challenge them and you'll get a fight. Every time.

Anecdotal? Theory? You bet but here's my bonafides (besides my record). It's story time. Some of you have already heard/read this one. If so I apologize but it precisely sums up my points about mindsets and the choices that come from them

Many years ago, when I was right at that salty 5 year veteran stage, I had an encounter with a man who tried very hard to kill me. I was sitting on a street at odarkthirty, in a parking lot, watching for drunks to come careening by when I saw a car go flashing by with one of ours following closely. No lights yet but it was obvious the officer was interested. Now this particular officer was a slug. Ask Murphy's Law about them sometime. Slugs are the bane of any police department. They live to do as little work as possible, existing only for the promise of a paycheck and a pension. Every cop knows them and can tell stories. At first I dismissed him as simply Deuce hunting (DUI for the CVC section for drunk driving-23152). Then the little voice in the back of my head started screaming for attention. That small, usually quiet, voice that every veteran officer develops or dies. Mine started shrieking. He's a slug. He wouldn't even be taking any action at all unless there's a very good reason. Go. Back him up. Right now. I obeyed the voice and went after him.

By the time I got to him he had pulled the car over and was at the drivers door talking to the driver. I made a passenger side approach and shined my flashlight into the interior. Just to see and let the occupants know the slug wasn't alone. There were two in the car, the driver and front seat passenger. The passenger looked largish but I didn't particularly remark on it at the time. In just a few seconds it would become monumentally important to both of our lives. The slug suddenly looked up and said "Pat search that guy." He would later say he told me he'd seen a gun (as he indeed had) but he never mentioned that little tidbit no matter what he says. If he had things might have turned out much differently.

I opened the passenger door and asked him out. As he got out he just kept unfolding. He was big, much larger than me, both in height and girth. I'm 5-11 and at that time went about 260 so you can imagine the size I'm talking about. Significantly larger than yours truly. Still, I was in my prime, strong, well trained and experienced. But his bulk gave him an answer to mine. Was my choice going to fail me here?

I told him that I was going to do a short pat down, just of his outer clothing and if he'd just turn around....
I wasn't used to that answer. I went through it again. If you'll just tun around we'll get this over no muss no fuss...
"No." Flat, no emotion whatsoever.
By this time I'd lost sight of the slug and had focused in on the passenger. Tunnel vision. Now polite time and requests were over. I got insistent. I grabbed one massive arm and started to physically turn him and used my command voice. Turn around and put your hands behind your head right now! I was done with games.
Suddenly he wrenched away from me and his right hand darted inside his jacket (he was wearing a suit coat). As he did that he announced "I've got a gun! I've got a gun!"

Now I'm faced with an instant and life altering decision that needs to be made RIGHT NOW. Do I back off, pull my gun and almost certainly shoot him as he presents his own or do I take him on physically? For better or worse I chose to take him on. Now it's not as insane as it sounds (though if presented with a similar problem at my current age and physical level I'd probably do it differently). I was prepared, both physically and mentally for this very choice at this very moment. I'd trained hard, was fit and strong as an ox and full of the confidence that only comes from youth, training and experience. Some might say overconfidence but be that as it may.

I finished spinning him so his back as to me, wrapped my arms around that massive chest, grabbed both wrists in my hands and held on for dear life. I picked him up and slammed him face down on the ground just as hard as I could. It was pure pro wrestling..There I held him whilst I pondered my predicament. I'm sure you can all see the scene. Me and my opponent flat on the ground, me on his back and him on his face screaming about his gun and trying desperately to pull it free. By this time he had his hand on it and was trying really, really hard to pull it out. I later learned the hammer had snagged on his coat. A lesson for all you CCW holders. Hammerless revolvers are your friend. I've got my hands and my legs involved in keeping us both on the ground and bloody hole free. I've got no idea where my partner is and no way to get to my radio to holler for help. Stuck. Still, it was working. I had control of him and even if he'd managed to free the gun I was, and still am, confident I would have managed him. My choice was still valid. Then I heard that sweet music of approaching sirens. The slug's guy had caved immediately and been cuffed. Slug boy had called for assistance (but not rendered any himself you'll note, not that I'm bitter) and eventually the cavalry arrived. You want to know the longest time increment in the world? It's that time you spend wrestling with a mountain of a man for possession of a gun he wants to kill you with. Endless doesn't quite cover it.

In the end it turned out well for everyone involved. The backup arrived, the bad guys were cuffed and disarmed and everyone went home at the end of the shift (or after posting bail as the case may be). My guys chief complaint? Whether or not he could get his gun back (He didn't. He was a recent parolee, a felon in possession and with the charges relating to our encounter he went back to the big house for a bit). He never once considered how lucky he was that the incident didn't end up in a shooting. The issue for me in this incident was this; his life was my responsibility. Mine. His actions do count, I don't dismiss that, but I saw a chance to save his life from his own criminality and stupidity and I took it. It could have very easily resulted in his death, my death and even the death of my partner but sometimes the job requires risk. This is where the phrase "Big Boy Pants" is valid and apropos (not at tacticalninja school). If you're afraid of risk find another line of work. RAH (peace be upon him) said it best. My life was not mine to throw away in a vain reach for glory and not mine to keep if the situation called for me to spend it. More importantly his life was not mine to spend if I could find a way to preserve it.  I always felt that I wouldn't hesitate to shoot if it came to it (and I was oh so very near more times than I care to remember) but I also understood the awesome responsibility I carried every minute I served, whether in uniform or out. His life was as valuable as mine. I know a lot of you may disagree with that assessment in this case but ask yourselves this. How do I want my police officers to view my life? The lives of those I love and who are dear to me? It wasn't my right to choose whether or not his life was worth saving. It was my responsibility to make a determination of whether or not I could reasonably save him. Mindset and choices.

So back to the three categories and my choice/mindset. I decided to use brute strength and physical size to enable me to police effectively while carrying the least probability that I'd have to hurt anyone seriously (or wind up as the lead story on CNN). Did it work out? For me it did. I had the genetics to build and carry enough muscle and bulk to make it work and the mindset to trust to my training and strength. For others it may not be so simple. You'll have to find a different answer. For those who decry my blatant use of intimidation I say this. That tactic kept me and everyone I ever contacted, in 24 years as a street cop, safe and unharmed. The worse thing anyone ever experienced at my hands was a manhandling, a twisted wrist and a ride to jail. I treated everyone I ever met with politeness and professionalism. Even when I had to put my hands on them. I didn't bully or browbeat, I let my presence and carriage speak for me. For those who needed me it seemed to bring them a measure of relief when they saw me. For those who found my presence problematic it gave the clear message that I was not to be tried on for size and compliance was the better option. For those who resisted, for whatever reason, it gave me the opportunity to bring the encounter to a conclusion at the lowest level on the Use of Force scale possible, given the circumstances.

And that's my message, tailed on to Myke's. It can be done, indeed it must be done lest all our hard work and the sacrifices by those who came before us be lost in the lurid glare of cameras and horrific headlines.

Since then I've aged and retired. My body suffers from the afflictions age and a lifetime of honorable hard use have incurred. I no longer carry all that size and bulk but one thing has not changed a whit. My mindset. I'm retired so I avoid ugly situations when and where I can instead of seeking them out. Avoidance and de-escalation are my watchwords. I still carry and I'll shoot you in an instant if you force me to but you'll still have to go a very long way to get me to do that. I still carry myself confidently, my head up and my chest out. I still project myself as a man to leave alone (or at least attempt to). I still cause the bad guys to re-visit that OODA Loop and ask themselves if there aren't greener pastures somewhere down the road. That will end, sooner rather than later, but I'm confident I'll find a new answer.

Make no mistake about this. I'm talking about me and my choices here. My particular skill sets and gifts. My job as an American Police Officer. Nothing more. Some aren't so lucky nor are they called to my particular service. Lu is one of them and for her reliance on a tool is paramount to personal safety. To that end you must be a good judge of yourself and your needs, strengths and weaknesses. I'll have more thoughts on this when I post about her CCW choice and how it came to be a bit later (hopefully this week).


12 February 2012

Sunday Kipling

Hey, I'm actually on time today! Will the wonders never cease? No grill today I fear but I made some absolutely fabulous mesquite burgers on Saturday. Mmmmmm. Have I mentioned lately how great it's been to have the DO and the kids here? I have? Well, I'm really, really (really) enjoying being a hands on grandpa. I missed a lot of the whole drop them off and pick them up from school thing when the DO was just a mini DO due to the pressures of career so I'm grateful for a second chance. I'm even going to be included in the soccer mom rotation!
I hope this day finds you all hearty, hale and happy. Enjoy every second my friends. BTW, I love this poem.

Cold Iron

Gold is for the mistress -- silver for the maid --
Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade."
"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all."

So he made rebellion 'gainst the King his liege,
Camped before his citadel and summoned it to siege.
"Nay!" said the cannoneer on the castle wall,
"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- shall be master of you all!"

Woe for the Baron and his knights so strong,
When the cruel cannon-balls laid 'em all along;
He was taken prisoner, he was cast in thrall,
And Iron -- Cold Iron -- was master of it all!

Yet his King spake kindly (ah, how kind a Lord!)
"What if I release thee now and give thee back thy sword?"
"Nay!" said the Baron, "mock not at my fall,
For Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of men all."

"Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown --
Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown."
"As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small,
For Iron -- Cold Iron -- must be master of men all!"

Yet his King made answer (few such Kings there be!)
"Here is Bread and here is Wine -- sit and sup with me.
Eat and drink in Mary's Name, the whiles I do recall
How Iron -- Cold Iron -- can be master of men all!"

He took the Wine and blessed it. He blessed and brake the Bread.
With His own Hands He served Them, and presently He said:
"See! These Hands they pierced with nails, outside My city wall,
Show Iron -- Cold Iron -- to be master of men all."

"Wounds are for the desperate, blows are for the strong.
Balm and oil for weary hearts all cut and bruised with wrong.
I forgive thy treason -- I redeem thy fall --
For Iron -- Cold Iron -- must be master of men all!"

"Crowns are for the valiant -- sceptres for the bold!
Thrones and powers for mighty men who dare to take and hold!"
"Nay!" said the Baron, kneeling in his hall,
"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of men all!
Iron out of Calvary is master of men all!"

11 February 2012


I got tagged by MrG and Sarah for a Liebster Blog award. Thank you both for thinking of me. I admit to being a little stuck to pick out only 5 blogs to pass it along to, at the risk of ignoring someone I should have tagged.
Anthroblogogy because Dirtcrashr shares two of my loves; guns and fast motorcycles (because slow motorcycles are just dull).
Theredneckengineer because the man can make really cool stuff out of other stuff. And because he's a fighter.
Thunder Tales because if anyone is my blog father it's Ed Rasimus. He's been supportive, instructive and he's waaaay smarter than I am. Throw in shootin' and fast jets flown in harms way (and delivered of much harm to the enemy himself) and he's a man I hugely admire and respect.
TheKitchenDispatch because I love Kanani and always will. Medical professional, wife to an Army doctor and supporter of the troops in positive and tangible ways. Plus she can write a lick or two.
TheMadOgre because he can so totally kick my ass if he ever had a mind to. Plus there's that whole guns/motorcycle thing. I think I sense a pattern here. Obsessive? Me?

Here's to you and all of you my friends.

Baby Girl is doing very well. The arm doesn't appear to bother her at all. Aren't kids something? I mean, if that had been me I'd still be crying about it. And she's back to her ballet, pink cast and all.

Had a yard sale today. I made 25 bucks so just be all jealous and stuff. Baby Girl and The Boy ran a lemonade stand and made some nice coin. I saw actual dollar bills in their box.

This is for Michael at Michael's Custom Holsters. Lu has chosen her new CCW gun. I won't say what it is yet (there will be a write up soonest) but I will say it's light and small but not a .380 and it's not a bullet hose. Michael, e-mail coming your way soonest (he's going to do a holster for her and she simply cannot wait!). Her birthday is coming up in a few days and what says I Love You better than a new gun?

The DO bought me a new book. It's Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole, a 3 tour Iraq veteran as well as some other secret squirrel stuff. His site is here. I'll do a review as soon as I get done with it but it's very interesting. I like it so far but it's military sci-fi from a different perspective. More later.

Angus is fat and happy. He's growing so fast it's hard to remember that tiny puppy I brought home 7 months ago. A secret admirer sent him a wonderful Christmas present that reminds us every day how lucky we are to have him (thank you my friend!). Tell me that's not a happy dog.

Chrisi, on the other hand, is visibly failing. She turned 15 last December 18th. I fear that our time together is drawing to a close. Lu is trying her best to prepare herself but it's so hard. Please wish her well. When our Princess goes she'll be inconsolable.

I seem to have gotten over my bout of midsection umbilical cord detachment area viewing with the help of a few friends. Thanks guys. Frankly, with all that's going on in this country I'm going to be as positive and upbeat as I can. I plan on concentrating on gun stuff and humor writing. What's that you say? You didn't know I ever attempted to convey anything of a humorous bent on here? Well, Lu thinks I'm funny. Very funny in fact so that for you. Did I mention she's getting a new gun and can shoot like stink?

As I sit here, pecking painfully at the keyboard with two fingers and moving lips, I am reminded how fortunate I have been here. So many of you have taken me into your hearts and lives and I am grateful. My life is better and richer for each and every one of you. Thank you.


07 February 2012

Troll Smiting

Trolls. We've all had them. What do you do? Ban them? Beat them about the head and shoulders with verbal judo and logic sticks? Ignore them and hope they'll go away? Father Z has an answer.

Litany for the conversion of internet thugs (2.0).
(For private use only, when truly irritated and when the alternative is foul language.)

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Lest internet thugs be eternally tormented by all the fiends of hell, convert them, O Lord.
Lest they pass eternity in utter despair, convert them, O Lord.
Lest they come to be damned for the harm they cause, convert them, O Lord.
Lest they roast forever in the deepest cinders of hell, convert them, O Lord.
Lest they suffer the unceasing pain of loss, convert them, O Lord.

Lest devils endlessly increase their physical agony, convert them, O Lord.
Lest devils twist their bowels and boil their blood in hell, convert them, O Lord.
Lest devils use them as toys and tools, convert them, O Lord.
Lest devils forever gnaw upon their skulls, convert them, O Lord.

Lest the innocent be harmed by the sins of thugs, convert them, O Lord.
Lest the innocent yield to thugs in weakness, convert them, O Lord.
Lest the innocent be drawn into thuggish traps, convert them, O Lord.

From faceless Facebook admin drones, spare us O Lord.
From tweeting Twitter idiots, spare us O Lord.
From loony Wikipedia liars, spare us O Lord.
From from heart-hardened spammers, spare us O Lord.
From liberal nut-case smear-blogging hacks, spare us O Lord.
From thread-dominating combox trolls, spare us, O Lord.
From sophomoric drive-by commentators, spare us, O Lord.

From server memory resource difficulties, spare us O Lord.
From rss feed problems, spare us O Lord.
From DOS attacks, spare us O Lord.
From power outages and surges, spare us O Lord.
From viruses, trojan horses, and all manner of snares, Lord save us.
From wasting our time, Lord save us.
From our own stupidity, Lord save us.

St. Michael, defend us.
St. Gabriel, defend us.
Holy Guardian Angels, defend us.
St. Isidore of Seville, defend us.
St. Francis de Sales, defend us.
St. Maximilian Kolbe, defend us.
All ye angels and saints….. GRRRRR.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord,
Lamb of God who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

V. Christ, Jesus who died for our sins.
R. Please return, and return swiftly.

Let us pray.
Almighty and merciful God,
who according to Thy ineffable plan
hast called us into existence to do Thy will
amid the vicissitudes and contagion of this world
grant, we beseech Thee,
both protection for Thy servants who use the tools of this digital age
and confusion for evil-doers who abuse their neighbors and Thy gifts.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

St. Michael Smiting Trolls. I like it.

06 February 2012

Cheesy But Then, So Am I

I'm a dog guy so I like most things caniney. Except those awful dogs playing poker paintings. I mean, you gotta draw the line somewhere. So this commercial hit me right in the funny bone. I know, it's cheesy but hey, Darth Vader is a Black Lab. Now I understand why Angus keeps staring at me and then I get a sudden urge to go for a walk or give him a nice treat.

"You want to walk the dog. You want to give him those tasty treats you keep in the upper cabinet so he can't sneak the whole package when you're not looking. You want to kick the cat."

It's now so clear.

05 February 2012

Sunday Kipling

Proof that even Kipling had his risque side. SFW but oh so suggestive!

Azrael's Count
"Uncovenanted Mercies"
From "Limits and Renewals" (1930)

Lo! The Wild Cow of the Desert, her yeanling estrayed from her --
Lost in the wind-plaited sand-dunes -- athirst in the maze of them.
Hot-foot she follows those foot-prints -- the thrice-tangled ways of them.
Her soul is shut save to one thing -- the love-quest consuming her
Fearless she lows past the camp, our fires affright her not.
Ranges she close to the tethered ones -- the mares by the lances held.
Noses she softly apart the veil in the women's tent.
Next -- withdrawn under moonlight, a shadow afar off --
Fades. Ere men cry, "Hold her fast! darkness recovers her.
She the all-crazed and forlorn, when the dogs threaten her,
Only a side-tossed horn, as though a fly troubled her,
Shows she hath heard, till a lance in the heart of her quivereth.
-- Lo, from that carcass aheap -- where speeds the soul of it?
Where is the tryst it must keep? Who is her pandar? Death!

Men I dismiss to the Mercy greet me not willingly;
Crying, "When seekest Thou me first? Are not my kin unslain?
Shrinking aside from the Sword-edge, blinking the glare of it,
Sinking the chin in the neck-bone. How shall that profit them?
Yet, among men a ten thousand, few meet me otherwise.

Yet, among women a thousand, one comes to me mistress-wise.
Arms open, breasts open, mouth open -- hot is her need on her.
Crying, "Ho, Servant, acquit me, the bound by Love's promises!
Haste Thou! He Waits! I would go! Handle me lustily!"
Lo! her eyes stare past my wings, as things unbeheld by her.
Lo! her lips summoning part. I am not whom she calls!

Lo! My sword sinks and returns. At no time she heedeth it,
More than the dust of a journey, her garments brushed clear of it.
Lo! Ere the blood-gush has ceased, forward her soul rushes.
She is away to her tryst. Who is her pandar? Death!

03 February 2012

Update on the Girl. With x-rays!

The girls arm when we got the the hospital:
You can see the full break on the one and the bending on the other.  Brave girl
 All set!
Pink cast is all set, and she's getting use to it.  
I'm beyond proud of my little girl.  She did so well, and she's taking it all in good stride!!

~The DO

02 February 2012

We Interrupt This Navel Gazing Episode..

So we may bring you The Real Life Adventures of the Six Clan.

Baby Girl broke her arm today. She was doing the usual kid thing, jumping off something not too high when she fell awkwardly and broke her left forearm. Greenstick Radius and clean break Ulna. The DO and I gathered her up and took her to the ER in St. George, about a 20 minute drive away. She was a real Trooper. I've seen grown ass men with much lesser injuries cry like babies. When she found out she was hurt and needed to go to the hospital her first and chief concern was missing out on her ballet lesson. Mom had to assure her that she'd talk to the teacher about getting her an extra dance lesson to make up for it.

The ER doc had to put her out so he could break the greenstick and set both bones. DO was in with her and related that Baby Girl wasn't too sure about the whole anesthesia thing. I guess she said something about things getting weird when she went under and "kinda funky" as she came out.

But everything turned out as well as can be expected. Baby Girl has a brand new cast on her left arm from elbow to hand. It's hot pink of course so there's at least that. She seems to be feeling as well as we could hope and I think she'll get used to the cast soon enough. Of course it's her left arm and she's left handed so...

We  now return you to Six's Omphaloskepsis which will be seen in it's entirety except on the east coast where we will bring you a rerun of the 2008 Republican Primaries.