Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why You Want To Stand Out In A Crowd, Especially On A Charter Boat

Be memorable so stuff like this doesn't happen to you:

Boat abandons Michigan snorkeler on Australian reef

The Detroit Free Press:

Australian safety officials say they’re investigating a dive boat company that accidentally left a U.S. tourist behind while he was snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef.

Ian Cole of Michigan told The Cairns Post he panicked when he realized the boat had left without him on Saturday. He managed to swim to a nearby boat and was not hurt.
The Charter Boat employee failed not only to have all returning snorklers sign in but also failed to notice a snorkler was missing.

The best head-count systems in the world don't work if they're not used.

Whenever you get on a charter, introduce yourself to the captain, chat with the divemaster or other crew and make a lasting and positive impression so they want to stick around and pick you up after the dive or other activity is over.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

10 Years of Michigan Being Shall- Issue and No Wild West

Nor even a wild Midwest.

The Detroit Free Press: Concealed gun permits increase across Michigan

Ten years ago this week, Michigan became a "shall-issue" state, making it easier for residents to obtain concealed licenses if they're at least 21 and meet certain requirements.

State Police records show in the first year, 53,000 permits were approved. Today, there are more than 270,000 permit holders.

That's double the amount five years ago.
So much for the detractors of the law, the Detroit Free Press among them, that loudly proclaimed the move to shall issue would result in "blood in the streets" and turn Michgian into the Wild West.

It hasn't happend and if anything crime has declined while permit holders (Michigunners) have been statistically far more law abiding than the average Michigander.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Senator Levin Loves Himself a Government Motors Volt

The Detroit Free Press: Sen. Carl Levin loves his new Chevrolet Volt -- and what it means

But its electric power was the reason he bought it.

"It's much cheaper to run it on electricity. And cleaner, of course. So I bought it to get those savings downstream," he said.
Cleaner out the tailpipe perhaps, but not if you take into account the coal needed to provide for the electricity to charge it. Also accoridng to the article he seems to run it on gas a lot, nullifying the whole "cleaner" claim. Nor is the Volt cheaper if you run an total cost of owenrship analysis - wish it was, but it isn't yet.

The article does show that, at least on this occasion, even Senators can be hampered by Washington bureaucracy and regulations, namely the difficulties in getting a charging station for the Volt installed at the Capitol building. Of course unlike us, he can push legislation through to make this annoyance go away.

The sad thing is, he's pretty representative of the congressman that passed the bailout of GM among other things and are helping run this economy into the ground:
At one point, the glowing digital letters on the dashboard made him wrinkle his forehead.

"This A and B, I'll be damned if I know what that means," he said. (A and B are trip odometers for separate journeys.)
Democrats in this modern day can't even figure out what a trip odometer is, much less the fine art of good governance.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

First USPSA Match And M&P Problems

I grabbed some zzz's after getting home at 1am and then got up and headed to my first USPSA match. I figured after taking the Aim Fast Hit Fast class I should try my hand at some IPSC shooting.

So I'm psyched, ready to safely shoot the match and practice all the skills Todd taught me - the press out, the mag change and the like.

Unfortunately, the very first stage I shot the M&P started acting up. It would shoot, and then click and there was either a light primer strike or nothing at all, it seemed like the trigger was not engaging the striker.

It was almost continually shoot one, click, tap rack, shoot one, click, tap rack, shoot, shoot, click.

Most distressing.

I took it apart and the take-down pin seemed out of place, I moved it back and it seemed to help but I still had the problem intermittently, f course I had forgot to bring my cleaning kit. These problems of course only show up during a match, 1000 rounds at AFHF with not a single problem and now this, its almost enough to have me go back to my Glock as the go-to firearm.

No idea why its happening and it is the first time it ever did it. If anybody's got some ideas on what is going on, advice would be appreciated.

In any case, I shot with a good bunch of people and had a good time even with the malfunctions doing some very fun and challenging stages. Of course, my scores sucked due to the constant malfunctions. But, I did get a lot of good tap-rack practice as a result, so even when suffering from malfunctions something useful can be learned and practiced - learn to stay in the game no matter what happens.

Yes, the press-outs helped me immeasurably with hitting the A-zone, not to mention the steel and dealing with the dreaded Texas Star.

What's a Texas Star you ask? Here's an example:

I can't wait to make sure the M&P is 100% and shoot another match.

Dive 183 - Portage Quarry in June

Yesterday Rob and I headed off to Portage Quarry, Ohio to do some diving.

We got there around 7pm after being stuck in traffic on 275 South due to MDOT closing 2 of three lanes. Thank you MDOT, every year it seems you have close lanes on 275 and 75 backing up traffic headed to and from Ohio.

But back to diving.

We suited up, including attaching the P-valves as we were planning for a long dive, and a long dive it was.

First we dropped down to 20 feet to a platform and did valve drills and then worked with a stage bottle - passing it back and forth, switching over to it, shutting it back down and passing it off again. At 20 feet the viz was great and temps were about 60 with the surface a warm 70.

We then did another valve drill, then dropped to about 38 feet and did an ascent drill - going up 3 feet at a time, holding position at each stop and then heading up another 3 feet and it went perfectly.

At 30 feet the thermocline was not only cold, dropping the temperature to 55 F, but also causing milky visibility so you couldn't see the bottom at 50 feet or much of a distance.

We wanted to go find the Cessna at 50 feet and after swimming around the rock wall of the quarry without any luck, we found a line, followed it down and found the Cessna. Yes, the viz was bad enough that you could barely see an airplane in front of your face.

We then headed back as we could tell it was getting dark out, did a slow ascent and finished up the dive.

Total dive time: 103 minutes!
Average depth was 28 feet.

Portage Quarry is a great place to go diving. Reasonably conveniently located, friendly staff, decent amount of stuff to see and good depths for skills practice.

We then went to BW3's for wings and beer to celebrate our excellent dive and got back home at 1 am.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Goofy Gunfire Grips Gibraltar Gunshow

Goofy as it is alliterative, otherwise Stupid, Insane, and Nucking Futz would also be good choices for that which occured.

Alternatively, this post could be titled as Tam is wont to do: This is why we can't have nice things.

I did a filing in Macomb County and happened to drive by the Gibraltar Trade Center and saw a sign for the Gun and Knife Show for this weekend, starting today. So of course I declared lunch, paid $2 to park and went in.

I missed the boom.

Actually I missed BOTH booms in fact.

But, I was there for the crowd of Macomb County Sheriff's Deputies and medics for the aftermath of two acts of monumental stupidity.

Here's what happended as relayed to me by three seperate eyewitnesses (two of them vendors who were at a table right beside the incident):

The vendor handed an attendee what turned out to be a loaded gun (you know where this is going). What the hell he was doing handing over a loaded gun is anyone's guess.

Attendee then lit off a round, putting a hole in the wall, and then handed it back to the vendor.

The vendor, in the spirit of the moment recovered the gun and then fired a round into the concrete floor!, injuring 2 attendees with either bullet or concrete fragments.

Injuries looked minor and were treated on scene and I was there to see that, as well as the Sheriff's photographers documenting the injuries and the holes in the wall and floor.

Note that this wasn't a CCW'r performing an act of monumental stupidity, because anyone ccw'ing to the show has their gun zip-tied and rendered inoperable, but a gun dealer.

This idiot first stupidly handed a customer a gun that was loaded. That in of itself screams for a sanity check.

Then after the customer failed to use common sense and didn't check before pulling the trigger, the dealer retakes possession but then inexplicably fired off a second round! This calls for nice people in white coats (or Sheriff's Department brown) to come take you away as a danger to others.

Update: The Macomb Daily has got the story. However, they missed out that there were two shots that went off.

By The Macomb Daily Staff

A woman suffered a superficial wound Friday when she was struck by a bullet fragment after a gun accidentally discharged during a gun and knife trade show at Gibraltar Trade Center in Mount Clemens.

The incident occurred at approximately 1:45 p.m. Macomb County Sheriff’s deputies and Mount Clemens firefighters are at the scene.

Further update: Foxnews Detroit has the story, correctly reports 2 shots, and states there were 3 persons slightly injured (two women and a 10 year old girl - I saw one of the ladies seated near the scene being treated) and the gun in question was a .45.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Baby You Can't Drive My Car

The Detroit Free Press: 7-year-old driver: Police question how he got so far, who taught him how

Barefoot and wearing pajamas, the boy was too small to even see over the steering wheel of the car.

But that didn't stop him. The 7-year-old Sheridan Township boy reportedly stood up on the floorboard of his stepfather's red Pontiac Sunfire, gripping the wheel with his hands and accelerating with one foot on the gas pedal.

The boy's jaw-dropping 20-mile ride, which ended when police got him to stop by boxing him in near the bridge over the Pigeon River outside Caseville....

So the kid drives, apparently in a pretty speedy fashion hitting 60 mph for 20 miles without an accident.

Obviously this kind of initiative cannot go unpunished: Family puzzled as to why 7-year-old took a 20-mile drive
Now, the boy, who was safely stopped by police Monday morning outside of Caseville -- and found barefoot and in his pajamas in his stepfather's red Pontiac Sunfire -- faces a juvenile charge of unlawful use of an automobile in Huron County Probate Court.

Huron County Prosecutor Timothy Rutkowski said he filed the petition Wednesday in Huron County Family Court to try to help the boy.

"I filed the petition to get the young person into our family court system with the idea we would try to find out why the young man did what he allegedly did," Rutkowski said, adding that the boy's reasoning is still not clear to investigators. He said the investigation did not show anything startling in the boy's home life that might explain why he took the car keys about 10 a.m. as his mother slept and drove off.
So we need criminal charges against a 7 year old to figure out his motives and "help" him?

Anyone think just sitting down and asking him why, not to mention sternly telling him to not take the cars keys and slow down wouldn't be sufficient?

Careful kid, this'll go on your permanent record. On the other hand, I hear NASCAR is recruiting young talent....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"With our blood, with our souls, we will sacrifice for you, Bashar"

Did that quote come out of some Syrian pro-regime propaganda demonstration in Damascus?

No, it came from Dearborn, Michigan.

The Detroit Free Press: Hundreds of local Syrians support regime at Dearborn rally

In a loud and lively rally, more than 500 Syrian and Lebanese people packed a Dearborn hall Tuesday night in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose government has cracked down on protesters in recent weeks.

"With our blood, with our souls, we will sacrifice for you, Bashar," the crowd chanted several times in Arabic during the nearly three-hour rally.

You have to love that kind of local support for such a reformer. Nice to see the crazy doesn't just stay in the Middle East.

Inside the Lebanese-American Heritage Club, a standing-room-only crowd that was mostly Christian or Shia Muslim banged drums, chanted pro-Assad slogans and whistled as speakers declared their support for Assad. In Syria, more than 1,400 people are said to have been killed by government forces and thousands others detained, human rights activists say.

But at Tuesday's rally, speakers slammed the uprisings in Syria and said Assad was trying to prevent his country from turning into Iraq. Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab-American News [and a well-known Hizballah and Hamas supporter, but the Freep forgets to mention this], said it's important to support Syria's government because the alternative would lead to chaos in the region.

The other sizable group at the rally were Shia Muslims of Syrian and Lebanese descent. Assad is Alawite, which is considered a part of Shia Islam, and he has been close to the Shia leadership in Iran and in Lebanon. For years, Assad and his father backed Lebanese Shia groups [read Hizballah].

Some speakers and people declared their support for both Assad and Hassan Nasrallah, the Lebanese Shia leader of the group Hizballah.

You know, those nice Hizballah fellows that:
a) in 1983 killed 241 Marines, navy personnel and 3 Army soldiers in Lebanon;
b) committed the torture-murder of CIA station chief in Lebanon William Buckley in 1984;
c) committed The 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 and the torture-murder of Navy diver Robert Stethem;
d) The 1988 torture-murder of Col. William Higgins;
e) the group that did the bombings of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992, killing 29, the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994, killing 96, and the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, killing 19 U.S. servicemen.

Heck, Hizballah is even defined by even the US State Department as a terrorist group.

That is the anti-American group along with Assad that this fine bunch are proudly supporting in Dearborn.

Meanwhile, Bashar's Syrian regime killed at least 7 people the same day as this local love fest.

Hopefully Siblani and his friends' support for Assad and Hizballah will be remembered the next time they try to claim to be pro-American and credible suporters of peace.

Unexpectedly? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Both Vodkapundit and Transterrestrial Musings note a newly discovered, unexpected "glitch" in Obamacare that will add another 450 Billion, give or take, to the deficit.

If you see Obamacare not as an insurance reform measure but merely a planned step towards government-controlled and “paid”-for health care, it all makes much more sense.

These “unexpected" costs aren’t unexpected at all, but a step on the path to get more and more people on the taxpayer funded program, to drive the insurance companies out of the market and get employers to dump their employees into the government exchanges, leading to a mandatory single-payer regime.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

And Now, A Word From A Very Proud Dad

With Father's Day upon us, the reason for it is, of course, our kids (and our dads too, of course).

We wouldn't be fathers without 'em.

I'm proud to report that Abby just scored in the 92nd percentile nationally on the IOWA first grade level reading test. In other words, she's a better reader than 92% of all the other first grade students taking that test in the United States!

A father lives for these moments.

Friday, June 17, 2011

An Elegant Weapon For A More Civilized Age.

The Webley & Scott Mark IV

Elegant in its steam-punk like styling and its cool automatic cartridge ejecting capability on the opening of the cylinder.

Adopted as a standard British sidearm during World War 2, this one not only bears British markings but also Israeli, namely the Star of David and the Tsadi (The Y like letter within the circle) (visible in the lower picture, and likely served with the Israeli army in its formative years and then the Israeli police.

This pistol is in very good shape, fits comfortably in the hand, and the trigger action is very smooth in both single and double action. So smooth in fact that its double action feels better and smoother than that of my Colt Official Police.

Chambered in .38 Smith and Wesson, not to be confused with .38 Special, it fires a 200 grain MK 1 lead bullet or the 178 grain full metal jacket Mark 2 cartridge.

This pistol is most likely from the Israeli contract that was placed with Webley, with a serial number of 53xxx.

All numbers match on the gun so it is not a later put together from the shipments of Israeli Webley front ends that are currently popping up.

All in all this Webley is a great piece of history. Now I need to go stock up on some 38 S&W and get this pistol to the range.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yet Another Reason I'm Happy To Be Happily Married

I don't have to experience bad dating scenes like this one:

Novi man beat up, his car driven into lake after Facebook date goes awry

The Detroit Free Press:

A 34-year-old Novi man’s planned sexual encounter arranged over Facebook took a bad turn when he was ambushed by a group of men hiding in the bushes, police said today.

When it was over, the man had a broken jaw, his possessions were stolen and his vehicle was driven into a lake, according to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office....The victim told police he met a woman on Facebook and arranged to see her at a BP gas station . . ..

First off, meeting someone for the first time at a gas station does not sound like a particularly auspicious nor romantic start. Of course, his date went downhill from there, all the way to him getting rolled and his car rolled into the lake.

The poor fellow is now out cash, a cell phone and has to de-water a Ford Explorer (hey, they don't float after all!) but hopefully has gained some wisdom on looking for love in all the wrong places and in the future eschews lousy date locations.

New Contender for Headline Of The Year

David Hardy of Arms and The Law posts a strong contender for headline of the year:

But now we have the following competitor:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Zombies have risen and they're ruining the economy

Zombie consumers lead US into lost decade

The global economy is being hobbled by a new generation of zombies — the economic walking dead.
Maybe I need to get a few of the Zombie Targets that Tam likes so much, to you know, help out the economy and all that.

Of course blaming the zombies is rather like blaming the victim now isn't it? The state of the economy certainly couldn't just be due to some leader's economic incompetence and lousy ideologically-driven policies being the cause, now could it?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How's that Egyptian Spring working out for you?

The Egyption re-revolution certianly hasn't resulted in any outpouring of liberal democray or any less anti-Israeli and anti-Semitism sentiments in Egypt.

Alleged spy arrested in Egypt is US law student

A man who Egyptian authorities have arrested on charges of being an Israeli spy is a 27-year-old American-Israeli law student who was doing an internship at a nonprofit organization in Cairo, a classmate said Monday.

Egypt says Ilan Grapel is a Mossad agent, and pictures of him in Israeli military uniform have been published in Egyptian papers. The semiofficial Al-Ahram daily identified him in a headline as a "Mossad officer who tried to sabotage the Egyptian revolution."

Horror of horrors look at the incirminating stuff he had:
Grapel was equipped with "communication devices, laptops, CDs, and flash memory," the paper reported.
Tourists and students visiting Egypt beware, your everyday carry on laptop and cell phone just became grounds to get you arrested for espionage.

As the article dryly notes:
Egypt, like other Arab states, has a long history of blaming internal problems on Israeli saboteurs.
No kidding. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose and all that.

Anybody that seriously believed that Egypt was going to transform into a rational, liberalized western-style democracy with respect for minority rights was seriously deluding themselves.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Aim Fast Hit Fast Class Review

The Aim Fast Hit Fast Class is designed for experienced shooters to improve their shooting ability. Taught by Todd Louis Green. A description of the class can be read at his website.

In short, it is an intensive and challenging class over two days with multiple shooting drills that help you increase your speed and accuracy as well as give you the tools to continue to improve after the class is over.

To The Range

So Murphy's Law and I pulled in Saturday morning nice and early onto the CCF&SA range in Wilmington, Ohio.

After running into some rather unfriendly people at the club, We figured out where and who Todd was, introduced ourselves, did the necessary paperwork and then the course began with a safety briefing and then on to some instruction and then the shooting. The day started out overcast with a weather forecast of heavy rains all day but quickly turned into sunshine and scorching hot temperatures requiring lots of water, sunscreen, and shade breaks.

Please Don't Let Me Be "That Guy"

You know, in every class there's That Guy, the one who: isn't ready for a drill, or who isn't paying attention, or drags the class down in multiple ways through incompetence.

Of course, luck had it that Todd made the order of the class so that I would go first on each of the individual drills after he had demonstrated them. I was number 1 in squad 1 so our squad shot first on the group drills as well.

So I was uniquely positioned to be able to demonstrate to the class how not to do a technique after Todd had demonstrated it correctly.

Without the opportunity to see others do the drill, I often at times felt and probably looked like a retarded monkey. At times, a retarded monkey could have shot better too.

Thankfully, while I wasn't the fastest shooter, I was one of the cleanest, meaning hitting the target with all shots, no misses. I did a 30 second yet clean barrel drill (I can't recall the real name for it - there's two barrels and you weave a figure 8 between and around them firing a shot at a designated target each time your either are at the outer side of the each barrel or in the center - much harder than it sounds) and my other events were pretty clean with the occasional frustrating miss, generally due to anticipating the shot, which Todd helped me work on fixing, more on that later.

In short, I wasn't the class "That Guy".

The FAST Drill:

This is Todd's signature drill. A test of speed and accuracy - 2 shots into a 3x5 "head" above an 8 inch circle "body" in which you reload and fire into it 4 shots, all at 7 yards. On the FAST Drill, I shot the first two clean, getting my best score on the drill Saturday afternoon shooting with a score of 7.66 making Intermediate, but missing Advanced by a long 1.67 seconds. I was the only one that had shot clean on both FAST drills that day if memory serves.

On Sunday morning, just before I got ready to shoot the third FAST, Todd said, "You know, very few people in a class shoot all four FAST Drills clean...." So I got the two head shots, made 3 body shots and on the final shot I jerked the trigger putting it just outside the circle. Jinxed! But it's my fault for thinking too much for about a 10+ second run plus penalty for the miss. Try to think or decide to go fast in your head and you'll end up going slow in reality.

On the fourth FAST, all tired out, I shot clean but with a 9.13 second time, too slow and messing up the mag change.

Other Drills

I scored a 45 out of 50 on the dot torture drill, showing I need to work on my trigger control. First time I've ever done that drill and it is very useful indeed, and worth practicing.

In the weak hand drills I learned I need to practice weak hand only shooting more. 'Nuff said.

My best draw from a holster was on the second Triple Nickel Drill at the end of Sunday. It was 1.4 seconds from beep to shot and everyone said it looked very smooth.

The first Triple Nickel drill started off funny however: On the beep, I drew, the gun went click (I had not chambered a round after the last Fast drill, just loaded the magazine with the amount of rounds instructed) I said "S..t!" very loudly and clearly, and proceeded to rack the slide and get to shooting. I shot a clean run but was over the five second "win" time.

There were lots more drills, all of which showed techniques to enhance one's shooting ability.

Things Learned

If the Class was solely about putting 1000+ rounds downrange, I could do that a lot closer to home. Instead, the course was about learning new skills to improve your technique and shooting faster and more accurately than you had before.

Keeping an open mind, I tried all of his suggested techniques, often with difficulty, but finding adopting them a marked improvement over how I had previously done things. The Press-Out, while I couldn't quite grasp it from his good description on his website, became understandable with his in person instruction, demonstration and then practicing it all weekend under his observation and tutelage made it a must-use technique.

Todd was able to give individual instruction to each of the 12 students and he helped me immeasurably with my grip, fixing a problem I didn't even realize I had, and my shooting got measurably better.

He also diagnosed a trigger control issue where I was squeezing the trigger but then crunching it down when I wanted to break the shot, anticipating it and causing it to go low. Again, my shooting improved a lot in a very short time.

In other words, those two corrections and the instruction in the use of the press-out alone were worth the price of admission, but I learned lots more. The side manipulation technique for reloads that he teaches is itself so simple yet much more effective than any technique I've done before.

Todd is an excellent and capable instructor and very able to demonstrate and communicate how to improve your shooting. His demonstrating and explaining the Press-Out really improved both my shooting time and accuracy. He has an approachable manner with a good sense of humor and excellent instructional skills.


If you're looking to seriously improve your shooting abilities, and be able to leave a weekend class with new techniques that you can continue to practice and perfect to make your shooting even better, Todd Green's Aim Fast Hit Fast is a fantastic class to take.

I will continue to practice the techniques learned and I'll keep on improving thanks to this great class and instructor.

Back from the Ohio Trip

I'm back from Ohio.

On Friday, Murphy's Law and I after driving through a thunderstorm to get there, met up in Dayton, Ohio and we spent the day and had a great time at the National Museum of the US Air Force at Wright-Patterson Airbase.

If you've never been there and you like aircraft, you are missing an awesome treat. Let's put it this way, if there's a military aircraft you like, they probably have one on display.

They also have some of the "onlys", as in "the only remaining model of its kind in the world" like a XB-70 Valkyrie (189 feet long, 105 foot wingspan and 30 feet high) on display indoors.

From the Wright brothers to a Spad VIII,

to a Predator drone and just about everything in between, they had one, nicely and informatively displayed.

A more detailed report of the trip around the museum, including the very interesting discussions with the friendly and learned docents, and more pictures will follow shortly.

Then Saturday and Sunday we did the fun class - The's Aim Fast Hit Fast taught by Todd Green. A full review will follow but as a preview:

1. Awesome instructor.
2. Learned tons.
3. I need more practice.
4. Without a doubt the class is worth taking and I highly recommend it if you want to improve your shooting skills.
5. When the weatherman predicts thunderstorms, expect a blazingly hot sun and prepare accordingly.

A big thanks to Tam at View From the Porch for informing us by blogging about the class and her good, descriptive, and positive review.

Tired but happy I returned home last night, unpacked the car, did the laundry and passed out and slept the sleep of the just, or something like that.

Before I go on with the AFHF review however, I thought I should pass along a few things learned while wandering in the wilds of mid-southern Ohio:

1. Ohio drivers will regularly pitch a tent in the left lane of a highway and blissfully camp there driving under the speed limit.

2. Ohio drivers have yet to figure out that the stalk on their steering column can cause a turn signal to be activated. Its use apparently never gets covered in Ohio's driver's ed curriculum.

3. Damon's is considered to be fine dining.

4. The staff at Arby's in Wilmington, Ohio can, and did, flunk lunch.

5. Dayton likes to close all of its on and off ramps to I-75.

6. For all of that, gas was 30 cents a gallon cheaper in Ohio.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

June Has Been a Bad Month for Authors

First we lose Joel Rosenberg, who was not only a talented and prolific science fiction and fantasy writer, but also a serious pro-2nd Amendment rights activist in Minnesota.

This means there will be no further Guardians of The Flame Books. There will be no further additions to the Metzada Series. There will be no more D'Shai adventures, and no more Keepers of the Hidden Ways Books.

Damn and double damn, Joel Rosenberg's books got me through some rough spots in my teenage years and really into good Sci Fi.

On top of the terrible loss of Mr. Rosenberg, z"l, we come to find out to our dismay that Lillian Jackson Braun, the author of the extensive and enjoyable The Cat Who Series mysteries just died as well.

Both of these fine authors and fine people will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Fiction Review - Spies of the Balkans by Alan Furst

Spies of the Balkans: A Novel is a great fiction read.

The book is wonderfully written, and the story is richly told, breathing life into pre- and early-World War 2 Thessalonika.

The book revolves around Costa Zannis, a senior Salonika police official who handles sensitive (i.e. political) matters for the police force. Without giving any spoilers away the novel begins as a spy novel and then becomes much more. The Walther PPK does feature prominently throughout.

Well worth reading not only for the suspense, it chronicles every-day life and history in the city and Greece itself before and during the Italian invasion of Greece and then the German invasion.

The book is a very readable work of fiction set in a well described historical setting of Greece and the Balkans before and during World War 2. The Balkans and Grece is an area that hasn't received a lot of attention for that time period in fiction.

Spies of the Balkans is well worth your time should the desire for well written historical fiction strike.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Dive 182 - Union Lake and a taste of Scootering

So Chad, Rob, Chris, Keith and I met up at Union at 8am this morning and hit the water.

Lots of boats were present and the visibility wasn't great but it turned into a pretty decent dive.

I did a good valve drill, no hitting the bottom during the drill, and my trim is getting better.

We kicked around the boats a bit and then Reichy gave me his scooter to try.

Its a Dive X Sierra and awesome is not the word for it.

Once I finished embarrassing myself clumsily hooking into the tow line and trashing my buoyancy while doing so, I was ready and it was a blast.

I was zipping in circles around the other divers effortlessly. I went from boat to boat and just had a great time before handing it back. Much too much fun.

Here's a cool example of what these scooters can do:

Now I gotta get me one of these. One more item on the must-get list.

I also donated air to Rob who was running low and as we headed back to shore we saw a 2 foot long pike almost completely hidden in the weeds. Nice smooth ascent on the way back keeping in good trim with good buoyancy control.

Great dive.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Comms Restored. Rule 2 of CCW no longer violated.

Well it took a reset to factory option to clear the problem. To do a factory reset option on the droid to unbrick he phone after the Gingerbread install bricks it, do the following:

Note this formats the phone and kills all your data and customizations. You have been warned.

1. Hit the power button and home button at the same time.
2. when the triangle appears on the screen hit both volume buttons.
3. Then scroll to restore to factory default and press the power button.

Interestingly enough it did not restore the factory installed operating system but made the Gingerbread update operating system work.

The downside is that all data, customizations, downloaded apps are gone due to the factory reset.

Luckily, the work server backed up the calendar, contacts, and email and the phone is synced and data is flowing once again.

If you haven't backed up all your personal data or do not have a server it syncs to, don't try the update or you may end up being badly hosed.

So I'm now busy reinstalling the apps and trying to redo the customizations I had done.

At least now my brief non-communications dark age is over, allowing me to no longer violate Rule 2 of carrying a gun.

Rule 1 of course is: Have a Gun.
Rule 2 is: If you're carrying a gun, carry a cell phone.

Droid "Gingerbread" Update Bricks Phone, Hard.

I ran the Droid "Gingerbread" update on my phone last night.

Others in my office had complained that it required them to redo their account settings manually. I ran it anyways figuring I could easily reestablish the account if necessary and looking forward to some improved security and allegedly better functionality. So figuring that was the worse that could happen I ran the update from the settings feature on the phone.

The update downloaded, I executed it, it ran and after some time I got a red Motorla icon and then nothing.

After about 45 minutes, I took the battery out to reset it and on reinstalling the battery I get the start-up screen including rotating eye, it takes me to the home screen, gives about 5 seconds of functionality, and then locks, hard.

Touch screen does not work, pressing the power button blanks the screen and on pressing it again the home screen disappears, leaving only the top indicator showing the time (which freezes and does not change), the 3g , bluetooth and connection bar symbols, not pressing the power button results in the same black screen with top bar. The phone will not receive calls or work in any fashion, and the time indicator freezes at the time it bricks.

Removing the battery for up to 45 minutes does not change the result, it always starts with a white M with a red background, does the eye roll, goes to the home screen and locks, and every reinsertion of the battery results in the same effect leading to the bricking.

This sucks and I'd strongly advise anyone with a Droid to not run the Gingerbread update until Google announces they've un-screwed up (a more angry word would be used but this is a family-friendly blog...) this upgrade.

You'd figure that Google could handle an upgrade on Droids given that they're all running the same operating system and are on the same Motorola phone hardware but No....

Perhaps Google could issue an appropriate warning with the update:

"This update that we produced and delivered to you may turn your phone into a brick, with less utility than a brick as it doesn't offer a lot of structural support when mixed with mortar. Would you like to continue y/n?"

If anyone can offer some help or suggestions on backing this out, or doing some other reset procedure, it would be appreciated.