Monday, April 22, 2019

That's Not How A Conflict Of Laws Works

Invoking a higher power in court rarely turns out well.

The Detroit News: U.P. deer hunter who said he didn’t need license found guilty

Ron Ehinger of Ontonagon County claimed he didn’t need a license based on the “laws of nature.” The Daily Globe in Ironwood reports that a jury needed just 10 minutes to determine that the laws of Michigan applied instead.

Not exactly a great defense to a charge of poaching.

Laws of the state beat the laws of nature in state court all year round.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Happy Passover 2019!

A very nice time was spent with the extended family celebrating Passover.

We went to Toronto for the first Seder on Friday and had a great time meeting up with all the cousins and catching up with all the folks.

It was a good time for all as we retold the story of the departure from Egypt, with the oldest in the room in their 80s, and the youngest at 4 weeks all enjoyed the Passover story and meal.

We brought Matzah Crack to the Seder. What's Matzah Crack you may be asking? We'll its the tastiest Passover-approved dessert. Caramel and chocolate on top of Matzah along with other toppings. Varieties included chocolate with pieces candied ginger - which was a surprise hit, Chocolate mint, Chocolate Cherry, and White Chocolate almond Cranberry.

Making it is really rather simple:

Matzah Crack

Ingredients:
4-5 pieces of matzah
2 sticks / 1 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 (12-ounce) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (If you're doing white chocolate cranberries, use white chocolate chips for that flavor series)
chopped pieces of candied ginger, or dried cherries or cranberries as desired as additional toppings.

1. Break Matzah into pieces and array on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil that has been sprayed with no-stick spray. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. Take 1 cup butter and melt in a pan with 1 cup brown sugar, mix together over medium-high heat and stir until boiling, foamy and it becomes thickened around 3 minutes after it starts bubbling.

3. Pour the mixture over the Matzah and spread around covering the top of the Matzah.

4. Place in the oven and back for 8-10 minutes to set the caramel.

5. Remove from the oven and cover the caramel with a goodly portion of chocolate chips and spread over with a spatula as it melts. Add additional toppings as desired. Chopped pieces of candied ginger are highly recommended.

6. Let cool in the fridge for a few hours until the chocolate and caramel have solidified.

7. Cut into smaller pieces with a knife, and then enjoy. Bet you can't eat just one!

Happy Passover to all, and a Happy Easter to those of you celebrating Easter.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Monorail! Now With Proposed New Expensive Connections To Toledo and Monroe!

The fever dreams of urban mass-transit planners and their love of trains is so quaint. At least it is until you realize taxpayers will be on the hook for these vanity choo-choo projects.

The Detroit Free Press: New 110-mph passenger train could connect Detroit, Toledo and Ann Arbor

A new study presented to Toledo officials looked at a rail concept — dubbed the T because of its layout — that would connect Detroit, Toledo and Ann Arbor and cities in between.

If it were built, you could leave Detroit and get to Toledo in about an hour, about the same as if you drove straight down I-75, assuming you didn't run into any construction detours, rush-hour traffic, major accidents — or make any stops to top off your tank with gas.

Toledo City Councilman Chris Delaney, who has championed the study, said Wednesday that the T would not be just for "the luxury of being able to board a train." He viewed passenger rail service as a means to longer-term economic development and prosperity.

Like we've never heard that before.

Note in the article they plan to use existing freight rail tracks, for at least some of the run. This means that their claimed 80-100 mile speed will not be so fast in reality as they're going to have to stop and wait for freight trains and no, you really won't get there as fast as you would in your own motor vehicle. Cost is estimated at $390-$524 million, and given the cost overruns we've seen on similar train projects, you can safely double those estimates to get an idea of the true cost for this project.

Of course, once you get to Toledo or Monroe, you're going to need to call an Uber or rent a car or something to get around, certainly negating the savings of taking a train, the ticket price for which will almost assuredly be higher than the mileage cost for driving that distance or will be heavily subsidized by you up front from your taxes - probably both.

These planners love the idea of train projects - nice, expensive, programs with lots of opportunity for graft, vanity naming rights, and union feather-bedding combined with their disdain of the proles for daring to drive themselves where and how they wish. Reality tends to indicate people don't actually want these trains to nowhere.

And an excellent example of the hand-waving and excuses made when these rail projects don't quite work as expected in reality is displayed in this very article when it looks at the regions latest choo-choo project that cost over $182 million:

In its first year, the QLINE was expected to deliver 3,000 to 5,000 rides a day, and it hit that goal for part of the year. But from November through March, average daily ridership dipped to 2,700, potentially because of colder weather.

Nice slight of hand there "potentially because of colder weather". Yes, because riders don't like to be in enclosed vehicles during colder weather, right? Not so much. Ridership of Qline didn't decline because of the weather, ridership actually dropped when riders had to actually pay for a train that moved as fast as a slow walk for all of 3.3 miles.

Also note that in order for QLine to break even, they need 5,000 rides per day, not 2,700 meaning guess who is going to pay the difference?

$524 million would be far better put to use repairing the multitude of potholes, bridges and infrastructure that already lies along that route. Not nearly as sexy, there's no opportunity to rename the route for favored persons or entities in that, and no guarantee of continued subsidies to operate it. But, people will actually use it to go where they want, how they want. Urban planners hate that.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Replied The Snake: “You Knew What I Was When You Picked Me Up”.

The UNC Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies sponsored an event about Gaza and well, surprise!

Totally Unexpectedly, multiple acts of Antisemitism occurred, along with biased and counter-factual anti-Israel activism, on the taxpayer dime, no less.

ABC 11 News: Some sponsors want money back after anti-Semitic remarks made at UNC conference

What sponsor was stupid enough to be surprised this was going to happen at such a conference?

Apparently many departments at UNC and the Rotarians, of all people, failed to evaluate the conference based on the very long track record of antisemitism and anti-Israel propaganda at such conferences.

They failed to heed the tale of the Girl and the Snake.

Good luck getting your donations back.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

An Engaging New Music Style - Meaningwave Lo Fi

There's an interesting new music style out there.

Called Meaningwave, created by Akira The Don, it sets lectures.speeches of some interesting people to lo-fi music, revising them into songs while making their meanings come across very easily.

In short, its a rather entertaining and easy way of listening to the highlights of the thoughts and words of some very smart people. Sort of a Coles Notes edition set to music.

He has quite a few of Jordan Peterson, including a very humorous cut of his thoughts on alcohol, or his now famous rules for life. Everyone can take some element of what Peterson's saying and apply it to make your own life better. While reading the 12 Rules Book is highly recommended, this isn't a bad way to get some listening time in when you're in the car.

Then, if you need a boost in the morning, well, if you can't get motivated by listening to his version of Jocko Willink's stuff on the way to work, you may very well have no pulse.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Tax Day - Women And Minorities Hardest Hit

Because there's no Tax Day like Intersectional Tax Day.

So sayeth PBS.

PBS: How U.S. tax laws discriminate against women, gays and people of color

The quick answer is, the tax laws don't actually discriminate on that basis, but you'd have to read the entire article to figure out they're seriously reaching with some very weak examples to get to that conclusion.

Both arguments used don't support the position taken.

The first argument is the claim that the tax benefits that occur in the situation where there is a marriage with one working spouse and a non-working spouse is discriminatory against gays, minorities and women, which is one helluva overreach. See if you can figure out why that is so, it's not exactly hard to see the blatant fallacy in that argument.

Then, there's the claim its not right that personal injury awards are exempt from income taxes but employment discrimination awards are not, and they claim that that is discriminatory against gays, minorities and women. Never-mind that employment discrimination is by definition discrimination that is having an effect on your wages -- which are taxable -- and if you succeed in an employment discrimination case you're getting an increase in wages to make up for what you weren't paid due to the discrimination. In short, you're getting more wages from your employer which is the very definition of taxable income.

That's the two examples they choose to make about how horribly discriminatory the tax laws are to women and minorities. No mention of the tax law penalties for being married with two working spouses, as that wouldn't hit 'em in the intersectionality.

In short, the article and its examples, written by a woke law professor no less, badly fails to actually show any real discrimination against the identified groups at all but ends that the tax laws must "create a more just society rather than one that just rewards privilege".

In short, waving your arms and shouting "privilege" with nothing to actually back it up is just not a viable argument.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Somebody Just Made It To State Level For Forensics

Abby had her regional forensics competition on Saturday.

She thought she did well, and it turns out she did indeed do quite well. She came in second, making into the top 5 competitors at the regional competition which means she gets to advance on.

She's advancing to the Michigan State Forensic Competition for oratory, quite an accomplishment for a new freshman competitor with all of 5 months forensics experience.

Her school also did quite well with a lot of competitors from the forensics team advancing to the state championship to be held in May. It really is a great bunch of kids.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Friday Friend's Furniture Follies

Friday morning before work, I'm out walking the dog and pass by one of my neighbors, Casey, further down the street with his dog out in his front yard. The dogs are god friends so they get to playing while we chat.

He asks if I could help him that afternoon to move and load up some furniture that they were donating.

It's a light enough workday so why not. I leave the office around 1:30 get home and change and walk over to his place to help.

He's got a small Ryder truck already in position and another friend helping him move stuff. Heavy stuff.

One bookcase must have weighed about 500 pounds - that sucker was solid, shelves all in place, and not movable and it was a bit of an effort to get that thing out the front door and loaded up into the truck.

After that the sofa and loveseat were easy by comparison but an old curio cabinet, which again weighed a ton and didn't have a lot of spots to get a solid grip which made for some more fun. A few more sundry things and the truck is loaded and ready to go. Casey's other friend heads off and I volunteer to go with him to drop the stuff off.

Then off to the donation site, only to find out as we pull up that this week they're not accepting furniture. Oops. A little unexpected twist there.

So we head off to the Salvation Army, after I call ahead to verify that they are taking furniture, and they are, which is nice.

Unfortunately the guy taking the donations isn't helping unload the stuff as he has a half hour until his shift ends, so Casey and I are doing all the work. This kinda sucks as its rather frickin' heavy stuff and an interesting angled loading ramp. I do get to see the warehouse area of the Salvation Army which is interesting as normally you can't go in there, but since were the ones dropping stuff off, we put it all in there anyways. Good thing I was there or Casey would likely still be there unloading the stuff.

So we finish up and head back to his place and he offers me a nice cold Bells Third Coast Old Ale.

Very tasty, then it quickly hits like a brick. Checking the label its a 10.2% alcohol beer. Good thing I'm not driving.

It's a barley wine and is a smooth, tasty, 10.2% alcohol treat. It's a fantastic beer, but have one and you're really not driving anywhere as it certainly buzzes in fast. You may be sore after moving stuff, but after a nice cold bottle of this you don't mind so much, great stuff.

So back home I go with my good deed done for the day.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Just When You Thought It Was Spring...

Yes, this morning we woke up to Third Winter:

Spring, would ya mind sticking around for awhile, please?

Odd that, I was told that snowfalls were just a thing of the past only a few short years ago.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Kid And The School Bus Driver

So Leah had a recent incident that was rather disheartening.

Two days ago she was getting on the bus leaving school, tripped, and fell on the stairs entering the bus.

As she picked herself back up, the bus driver, the people-person that he is, said "Are You Dumb?"

She was quite simply in her own words mortified.

Understand that this is a kid that breaks the top of the scale on standardized tests - As a 12 year-old she reads at what is at least a 12th grade level and has a vocab to match, with math and all other tested scores in the top percentile. She's also a darn good student, a leader in her class, and not a disciplinary problem at all. To be called dumb was extremely insulting to her. She did not answer back but went and sat down and was upset enough to tell us about it.

This bus driver has been an a-hole for as long as he's been on our route and likely before. He's been sarcastic to the kids, and yelled at all the kids on the bus before for no reason, and while his driving is fine his personality is not exactly suited for the job. Unfortunately there is a shortage of bus drivers and I guess his union keeps him in place as there's been a lot of complaints.

Up until now we just told the kids to ignore it and just put up with it as it tended to be generalized idiocy. But, we decided this was worth complaining over as it had singled her out and embarrassed her for no justified reason, and we contacted the schools vice principal who handles such things.

Wouldn't you know it, but the day before the incident they had installed video and audio equipment on the bus and caught the whole incident.

The audio wasn't perfect but they got the incident and the school transportation administration claim he may have said to her "Are you Done?" rather than dumb, which again is still hardly an appropriate question to someone who just tripped.

So the school has stated they will be handling it, so we'll see what the outcome will be. Considering the presence of video and audio on the buses now, I expect his behavior is going to improve. Otherwise, there will finally be plenty of evidence of his unsuitability to be driving kids around, and maybe it will be enough to amount to cause to replace him with someone better.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Taxes Done, And The Tax Cuts Worked As Promised

Just filed the taxes for the year.

Yes, Trump's tax cuts did result in us seeing an actual tax savings over last year, which is definitely a nice thing, and quite welcome.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Scenes From Court Today

So criminal call today in with my client, who happens to be all sorts of guilty, on video no less. In short, no way this is going to trial.

So I do my thing, and we get a decent plea agreement for a first time offender with restitution, probation, and if in full compliance of all terms of probation, a nice erasure of the record. Not bad for a 2-count felony case with a max of 5 years in prison on each of the two counts, where there is no question of guilt at all.

But before all that, we get to watch a few people go through the system and its rather instructive.

For one lady, it is her tenth, yes tenth sentence for felony theft. She states she's now turning her life around. The judge dryly notes that her daily reported use of marijuana certainly isn't making her any smarter and clearly not helping her do so. The lady seems unable to stop stealing other people's stuff, and is likely going to continue to do so.

Another person gets sentenced on an assault-related felony, committed while high on marijuana. Again not the brightest tool in the shed. He's turning his life around too.

Bit of a pattern regarding regular marijuana use and felonious conduct is developing. Quite a number of people on marijuana seem to have trouble keeping their hands to themselves and off other people or other people's property.

And so it goes, then there's a break in the marijuana follies as we get one fellow with a 3rd DUI and a firearm in the car at the time. A bad call that. Fellow blew a .20 so yep, he was drunk alright. 3rd DUI is a felony, and then having a gun in the vehicle while under the influence is a misdemeanor. He pleads to both and gun is forfeited. Sentencing to follow. Don't do that folks.

One fellow comes in and has only done 60 of the 360 hours of community service required as part of his probation. He's right up on a due date and is likely to blow it leading to his being violated yet again as he'd have to do community service full time for 2 months to make those numbers, and he's not even close as he's doing a couple hours a week, tops. On top of that he had previously absconded so the court is not particularly sympathetic and gives him a rather stern warning then sets a new hearing date for the latest probation violation.

Then one fellow with one heckuva probation gift blows it badly - apparently he keeps leaving in-resident treatment to go drinking which means he's going to go back to jail, and for a large number of years.

In short, the majority of people there were for felony crimes committed while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

If You're On Woodward Today, Watch Out, New Teenage Driver!

Yes, Abby is taking her first in-car driving lesson as we speak.

Michigan now has a graduated licensing system so for her to be allowed to learn to drive, she first needs to take this class and get her =Level 1 permit, then we can start taking her driving.

So far the classroom portion has been described as varying between deathly boring and hellishly boring.

In short the theory instructor is really lacking any effort, phoning it in and mainly playing AAA videos and repeating the info contained in them.

The workbook is pretty close to useless. For example the dashboard it has you identify gauges on depicts gauges that aren't on most cars these days including an ammeter gauge, a battery gauge, and a manifold pressure gauge for a turbo - seriously.

Why is the classroom portion of driving instruction so consistently deathly boring?

You'd think they'd have improved the delivery of the material and the material itself by now. After all driving is a rather important part of people's lives and learning to do so is important. The Level 1 segment requires 24 hours of in class instruction, so there's unfortunately a lot of time for boredom as they really seem to no be using the time effectively.

Since Monday they've learned about wearing seat belts and being sure to check all around your car for obstacles before getting in and adjusting the seat and mirrors. This should take 20 minutes, not the six hours so far.

They should be able to make an engaging and instructive curriculum but for whatever reason, they dnn't. She's learning more by self-studying the What Every Driver Must Know state handbook than anything in class.

Well, 6 hours of in-car instruction and 4 hours of in-car observation should prove to be instructive.

Monday, April 01, 2019

Mueller Investigation Back On!

This morning, Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced that he was resuming his investigation into the question of collusion of Russia with the Trump campaign.

Democrats all across America cried tears of joy, a clear contrast to the rivers of sadness that had been flowing since the release of the Special Cunsel's report.

Mueller announced that after $29 million dollars spent and 2 years searching for evidence of Russian collusion without finding a shred of any such activity, he realized he had not searched everywhere yet.

"I had looked high, I had searched low", he said, "and I found nothing".

"But in all this searching I forgot to look under my bed. I just looked there this morning." He said. "Sure enough, there was a dossier labelled "Open this for proof of Russian Collusion" and it had everything I needed to prove all the allegations made by the DNC. The million dollars in small unmarked bills right beside the dossier with a note that said 'Get Trump, Love H.' didn't influence his decision to reopen the investigation one bit.

Mueller plans to release an updated report this afternoon.

Happy April Fools' Day, Democrats.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Winter Is Coming...Again?

Probably as an effect for the Game of Thrones Season 8 opener, Winter is not done with us yet.

From temperatures that were downright Spring-like, yesterday it rained all day and then in the early evening the rain turned to snow.

This morning the temperatures have dropped even further and snow covers the ground.

A few Canadian Geese were rather put out by the sudden reappearance of winter, and one of the two pictured was rather loudly vociferous about it.

Dammit Carl!  You said winter was over and we could fly back to Michigan!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

If You Were Wondering Why There's Crime In Detroit . . .

The situation: An illegal, having confessed to drug trafficking more than 6 kilograms of cocaine, and would be facing up to life imprisonment for drug trafficking, not to mention deportation at some point.

He was released on a $200 bond.

Surprise! He promptly absconded and is not in custody. Guess he didn't care about the $200 bucks he spent.

The Detroit News: Accused Mexican drug smuggler skips court after posting $200 bond

On top of that, a probationary Detroit cop just got busted for drug dealing.

The Detroit News: Chief: Detroit cop arrested, fired for allegedly dealing drugs

Detroit likely needs to tighten up their bond requirements, not to mention their background checks on new hires.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Special Sirens For Special Weather Awareness

Didja know that this week is Severe Weather Awareness Week?

Me neither.

Of course, Severe Weather Awareness Week is now being held when the weather this week has been pretty much the opposite of severe. There's been sun, it's been warming up, and no severe weather event of any kind has happened so far nor is it likely to occur this week.

Why they don't hold it during actual severe weather-worthy weeks like during the recent polar vortex is beyond me.

So today, for a special treat to raise awareness, the tornado sirens went off. To raise awareness. We're now aware the sirens work not just on the first Saturday of the month at 1pm but now on a Tuesday too. I am now much safer from this awareness moment.

Which leads to the next confusing severe weather point - without looking it up does anyone know the difference between a Storm/Tornado Watch and a Storm/Tornado Warning? Which one is worse? Who thought that using two similar W-words to distinguish the possibility versus the actuality of a dangerous event was a good idea?

Interestingly enough, for those who didn't know, a Tornado Warning is worse than a Tornado Watch.

One would think that if someone tells you to watch out for something it would be more severe and pose a greater danger than just getting a warning about it maybe happening, but that is not so.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Jett Is Taking No Chances

Currently some in the neighborhood are in a frenzy over reports of coyotes in the area.

People really need to calm down, but the neighborhood forums are ablaze with coyote spotted messages including panicked calls to secure your small animals indoors and ensure small children are not left out playing in yards as tasty coyote treats.

Never mind that there's been no actual reported incidents of a coyote around here actually attacking anyone or being aggressive, or anything of the sort, but some people are pretty high strung. It's as if they've never seen any wildlife before. I half expect squirrel alerts to be next coming from the overwrought ADHD homeowners around here.

As a result, Jett, before his walk last night, wanted to make sure he would not be misidentified as a coyote by some fearful neighbor.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Sometimes You Really Should Shut Up And Take The Deal

Had a client come in with a speeding ticket problem.

Officer had given her the ticket and while she was speeding 11-15 over, he cut her a break and reduced it to impeding which is zero points and just a fine.

That’s a decent deal right off the bat considering he had her dead to rights on radar.

Somehow, and I’m not sure how exactly, she decided to represent herself in court and instead of just paying the ticket managed to get it reinstated against her as an 11-15 over 2 point offense and fine. She is then found responsible for it and gets the full hit. That takes some talent.

Situation clearly not improved she hired me to fix her mess.

So I entered an appearance and today met with the prosecutor before the hearing and got it reduced back to the impeding charge, got that entered on the record and she’s all set.

Sometimes you need to accept the gift you’re given, smile, thank the officer and pay your fine and move on rather than trying to fight a ticket in a rather ineffective manner.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Winter Isn’t Giving Up Quite Yet

The past couple days were warm and wet, with rain and snow melting and beginning to feel like spring.

So of course this morning winter decided to get another hit in.

Heading to Abby’s forensics competition the roads are a complete sheet of ice, cars in ditches everywhere and slippery as hell.

Now it’s starting to snow, and heavily.

Traffic has slowed to a crawl and adding stress before even arriving at the competition.

Winter can’t be done soon enough and it’s really worn out it’s welcome if it ever had one.

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Queen's Own Rifles Museum - The Fenian Raids

Sir Henry Pellat in addition to being a financier and builder of Casa Loma was also a member of and later became Colonel of the Queen's Own Rifles in 1910, and ended his sixty years of military service as a Major General.

The Queen's Own Rifles museum is located on the third floor of Casa Loma, and is well worth a visit if you're in Toronto.

The Museum exhibits start with the formation of the regiment and its early history. Formed in 1860, The QOR's riflemen armed with Snider-Enfields and Spencer Rifles, had their first engagement occurred in June 1866 at the Battle of Ridgeway against the Fenian raiders.

The Fenians were Irish Americans, many of them veterans of the Civil War, who came up with a rather cunning plan to obtain independence for Ireland from Great Britain:

Invade Canada, and then trade Canada for a free Ireland.

As you might imagine, the plan wasn't quite fully thought through, and did not achieve its aims, but Fenians began invading Canada, under a name that would be far more famous in the 20th century - The Irish Republican Army.

The first raid led to the Battle of Ridgeway.

Unfortunately The Battle of Ridgeway was not the QOR's finest hour and earned the Queen's Own Rifles a rather derogatory nickname - "Quickest out of Ridgeway" for their rather disorderly retreat from the Fenian assault - a battle that turned out to be the only successful attack perpetrated by the Fenians.

The first Canadian soldier to die in that battle, Ensign Malcolm McEachren of the QOR was shot in the abdomen and died. The uniform jacket he wore that day is on display at the museum.

The exhibit on the Battle of Ridgeway was an interesting look at early Canadian military history.

The Fenian raids and the fear of further invasion was one of the factors that led to the unification and formation of Canada in 1867.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Today's Trial: It Was A Dog-Bites-Dog Kind of Case

Just finished a nice half-day trial.

Yes, it actually was about an idiotic Defendant letting their pit bull roam free and attacked my client's dog, causing a few thousand in vet bills.

Not only idiotic as their city bans pit bulls and they had one anyways, nor just because you're required to control your dog, but idiotic as they refused to pay anything for the medical bills and demanded to go to trial. Most people would step up and pay for the damage their animal did, these folks decided to give it the ostrich treatment. They actually were busy claiming their dog hadn't bit my client's dog and had only gotten out that one time and nothing happened.

Witnesses who were at the scene begged to differ. Witnesses who noted the dog had escaped on multiple times also differed with their story of this being a one-off.

Their attorney did his best, but had to run with an inconsistent story - that the dog didn't bite my client's dog, and if it did then the damages weren't all that bad. This led to some strange questioning from him, including playing math and mind games with the vet bills, but in the end it wasn't nearly enough and I got a judgment in favor of my client.

It was kinda crazy to be going to trial on this as most reasonable people would have settled or offered to pay or even arrange a payment plan or something to get this resolved. Not these bozos.

Trial record remains undefeated.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Toronto's Castle - Casa Loma

On the weekend I took the family to Toronto for some family stuff and see the relatives.
In addition to the regular relative stuff, we took the kids to Casa Loma.


(CC By-SA 2.0) Photo by Priscilla Jordão
Built between 1911-1914 by Sir Henry Pellat, it has 98 rooms covering 64,700 square feet it cost 3.5 million dollars at the time.

Unfortunately during our visit they were running the Imagine Dragons exhibit which put in lots of Medieval stuff and holograms of dragons flying around which took a bit away from the ambiance.
The climb up to the towers to see the sights was demanded.



The route to the towers isn't completely finished with exposed wood beams, concrete, and stone for floors and bare brick work, much of it bearing graffiti from visitors over the years.
A rather large machine is seen on the way to the first tower.



Both towers have a narrow winding staircase going up to the top of each, only enough room for one person at a time goign up or down, so it can get quite congested and you had to wait your turn to go up or down.

The first tower is capped off so you can view through the windows.


Still you can get some nice views:



Off we went to the next tower, which is open to the elements.


The winding stairs are indeed steep and narrow:


The view was worth it though.




The tower's unicorn was rather prominent.



Everyone agreed that the towers were well worth the visit all by themselves, but there was much more to see.

Next Stop: The Queen's Own Rifles Of Canada Museum

Friday, March 08, 2019

Any One You Can Walk Away From Is A Good One

A flight instructor and student make an excellent emergency landing on a Michigan highway on the west side of the state.

Detroit Free Press: Small plane lands on Michigan highway after engine quits

No injuries, no damage, and the plane was brought back to the airport on a flatbed truck.

Nicely done.

Greedy Gretchen And The Democrats Claim To Love Small Business But Love Taxes More

Democrats always claim they hate big business and love small business and the little guy.

They love small business all right, as a cash cow.

The Detroit News: Whitmer pitches biz tax hike to offset pension tax repeal

A nice 41% tax hike on pass through small business owners (anyone with an S-Corp or LLC) to allow Unions to have tax free government pension distributions. Private pensioners and 401K/IRA holders will still be taxed. Such a deal. Talk about a punitive attack on small business owners to reward core Democrat supporters and voters.

Hopefully with a Republican controlled House and Senate this will be a non-starter.

Combine this with her proposed awesome 45 cent a gallon tax increase on gas - yes 45 cents per gallon, not all of which will actually go to "fix the damn roads", - 40% of the gas tax increase will be diverted - surprise! Her tax increasing colors come shining through.

Her proposals will not only give Michigan the highest amount of tax on gas in the entire USA but also harm Michigan's business climate.

All of you who voted for her shoulda known that electing a tax everything Democrat would have consequences.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Tlaib: Let's Impeach Trump, Because Orange Man Bad, Or Something

Tlaib the local Dem gift that keeps on giving, joins the idiot wing of the Democrat clown car in issuing resolutions to impeach Trump.

Tlaib's resolution, much like its predecessors, seems to be impeach Trump first, find some reason for it later.

The Detroit News: Tlaib plans to file impeachment resolution against Trump

Freshman U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib said Wednesday she plans to file a resolution this month to start impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, calling him "dangerous to our American democracy."

The Detroit Democrat's resolution will call for the House Judiciary Committee to investigate grounds for Trump's impeachment, she said.

"I can't wait to be able to file this resolution because I think a transparent and open investigation into the president's dealings is important," said Tlaib, surrounded by about 20 impeachment activists in her Capitol Hill office.

Tlaib has long called for Trump's impeachment. She made national headlines hours after her January swearing-in by issuing a cry at a Washington party to "impeach the mother(expletive)."

Bring some popcorn, the Dems are definitely putting on a show for their base - much sound, furry, and Orange Man Bad, with no actual grounds for impeachment.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Now That's A Very Cool Selfie

A selfie that's not about self-absorption but instead amazing achievement.

The world's first private lunar lander just took a selfie with Earth on its way to the moon

Hat Tip: Instapundit.

Oh, Nicely Done With A Lovely Serving Of Irony

While BlacKkKlansman is still in theaters, one fellow is living the dream:

The Detroit Free Press: African-American man becomes president of neo-Nazi group in Detroit

Basically he pulled a con in the service of good. They did nazi that coming.

Yes, he actually got the head of the National Socialist Movement in Michigan to sign over the corporation to him. Much hilarity then ensued.

An African-American civil rights advocate is now the president of the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group based in Detroit, and he says he wants to effectively dismantle the organization.

James Stern, 54, of California filed incorporation records in January with the State of Michigan that show he is now the white supremacist group's leader after the previous leader, Jeff Schoep, handed over the group to him amid concerns over a lawsuit filed against the group tied to violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.

The article is a fun read, including Stern substituting himself in as the representative of the group in a lawsuit and trying to get a judgment against the group.

Certainly, Stern's earned some serious style points.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

An Excellent Holster For Both Quick Errands and Long Voyages

Keepers Concealment The Errand holster carried my Shield 45 down to Florida.

The Errand, a compact AIWB Holster, certainly provided both comfort and concealment.

Made of Kydex and designed to be carried AIWB, it also comes with a comfy foam wedge that helps both concealment and comfort.

I carried in AIWB for 20 or so hours each way driving to Florida, as well as out to restaurants and other perambulations. It was not bothersome while I was behind the wheel, nor in the passenger seat, nor while walking around and offered excellent concealment.

Under a sweatshirt it completely disappeared.

Under a polo shirt, once we hit warmer climes, there was enough of a bulge from the grip of the Shield that the spouse and kids picked up on it but no one else did. However, that they could pick up on it was enough to have me change to an inner shirt and a cover button down short sleeve shirt which solved that problem nicely. Voila, no more tell-tale bulges. Some people could probably carry it off with this just under a t-shirt with no bulges. I can't, at least not yet.

It fit the Shield 45 like a glove with a very solid fit, no sloppy sliding around. If you order you need to specify its for the Shield 45 not just the standard Shield. It comes with a very strong belt clip that fits solidly on the belt and stops the holster from flopping around.

It's a very solid high-quality holster that's easy to carry, also comes with excellent service and quite quick shipping, and Keepers Concealment is highly recommended when you're looking for a quality holster, especially as it passed the drive-to-Florida test with flying colors.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Abby And The Man O' War

On the last day in Florida we headed to Pompano Beach.

It's a very family oriented beach, not hoity toity like Miami beach but a very nice spot with a lot of families hanging out and having a nice day at the beach. We rented a sun umbrella and spent the day there swimming, snacking, and doing some beach volleyball, and then more swimming and jumping in the waves.

While on our second time swimming Abby suddenly went "Oww!, what is that!?"!

She had something on the back of her leg that she immediately reached out and moved away with her hand, and her hand promptly began to hurt as well, and the ouchies grew more vociferous.

Yep, she had been stung.

Stingers still in place and stuck to her leg and hand, I got her out of the water and figuring that it was a jellyfish type sting and remembering my Scuba diver marine life training, as well as observing the sting travel from leg to hand quickly decided trying to get it off with bare hands would be a bad idea.

So I grabbed a towel and gently removed both tentacle pieces with their nematocysts from her hand and leg.

Her leg and hand had already started turning very red and it was quite painful.

The life guard nearby had heard her exclamations of pain and came over to see what was going on. Turns out it was a Portugese Man O' War.

He complimented me for having the sense not to try and remove the stings barehanded. Apparently he deals with lots of multiple persons stung from the same tentacle as people try and remove them barehanded.

He had a nice freeing spray that made the pain subside.

Almost immediately after, a fair bit farther down the beach, a large Man O War was found washed up on the beach and the lifeguard marked the location off so people wouldn't step on it. It might have been the one that got her, if so to heck with it.

Man O War stings are definitely no joke.

And of course to demonstrate how they are no joke, an Australian man deliberately stung himself with predictable results for your viewing pleasure, because, Australia Man:

That was a small one, imagine a larger one getting you, and the one that got Abby assuming it was the same one was larger than that with a float about the size of a tennis ball with long tentacles.

The pain from the sting went away after about 12 hours and icing it helped.

Certainly an interesting last day, but still a great day at the beach and we all got sunburns to prove it, and Abby got a close encounter with marine life.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Florida Flying With The Family

In Florida I got an opportunity to fianlly take the whole family flying with me.

I wanted to rent a plane and take them up. Any rental facility at Ft. Lauderdale Airport requires a checkout with an instructor which made this a reasonable opportunity. I also don't have the high-performance endorsement yet, but I would find the experience so far in the Dakota helped with Flying the 6-300.

There was also the little matter of getting the passengers to come along.

You see, getting my eldest daughter up in the air is a bit of a challenge. While she doesn't mind flying on commercial jets, she thought that a small aircraft was not her thing and she required an instructor to be with us just in case. The level of confidence she has in my piloting skills is rather humbling. Younger daughter is, by contrast, of the opinion that my flying skills are just fine and she was raring to go and psuhing her older sister to quit worrying and get in the plane.

So I contacted Airplanes4Rent and ended up booking a flight and checkout on the Piper Cherokee 6-300. This was rather spendy but had the requisite number of seats.

A nice six-seater version of the Archer and Dakota that I fly.

Basically they stretched a Cherokee and added a bigger engine. Nice, big, and comfy, and will likely transport a piano with no complaints.

This one is from the 60s, and has pull knobs for the mixture, prop and throttle instead of the throttle quadrant I'm used to, not to mention the instruments are not arranged as a standard six-pack and the tach and manifold pressure is way over by the right side of the panel. This would take a little getting used to.

So I did the pre-flight briefing, made sure seatbelts were on and started her up.

Starting her up was fun as she's fuel injected. Fuel pump on, mixture rich, then pull out the mixture, turn the magnetos to both, crack the throttle, and then press the start button.

She fired right up.

>We then got clearance and then ground permission to taxi and we then taxi'd, I did the run-up and it was pretty much just like a Dakota for a run-up procedure so no problems there.

Took off from Runway 9 with a bit of a crosswind and wow that 300 HP engine demanded a LOT of right rudder. Up in no time and we were then cruising first at 1000 feet and headed for the coast, then as we immediately entered Ft. Lauderdales' Class C I got the clearance I was hoping for:

"Maintain 500 feet or below."

Yay.

Along the coast we flew, often lower than some of the buildings.

Passing a cruise ship:

Flying into the intracoatal waterway for some sightseeing:

Then flew by the Biscayne National Park and Biscayne Key.

Everyone had fun sightseeing while I flew the plane. It handled like a big sedan, nice and smooth.

Then we headed back and landed at KFXE and I did a decent enough landing for my first time in the plane, no bounces, bit of a crosswind, smooth enough but certainly not my best landing ever.

The family stated they all had a great time and Abby even enjoyed herself, so I at least have a shot at taking her flying again.

1.1 and 1 landing, and the goal of taking the entire family flying has now been achieved.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

When Seconds Count, The Police In Detroit Are 12 Minutes Away, Or Maybe Over An Hour Away

When anti-gunners claim you don't need a firearm to defend yourself because the police will protect you, point them to the police response times in Detroit:

Channel 7 WXYZ Detroit: Detroit 911: Thousands in crisis left waiting for Detroit police

At a time when the city touts the fastest response time to 911 calls in well more than a decade — 12 minutes for priority one calls — thousands of the most urgent calls to police each year still leave victims waiting 30 minutes or more for help. Hundreds wait longer than an hour.

A 7 Action News investigation reveals that, over a 20-month period, 650 priority one calls took more than 60 minutes to receive a response. The calls include reports of active shootings, rapes in progress, felonious assaults, armed robberies, armed attacks from the mentally ill and suicides in progress.

12 minutes to respond to on ongoing rape, shooting, felonious assault, or other armed attack can be an eternity in and of itself. Having to wait over 60 minutes for a response can be a lifetime.

You're still very much on your own in Detroit, and probably in most cities across the USA that have high crime rates. The police will get there in enough time to write up a report and maybe catch the bad guys after the fact, but that's cold comfort when you're facing a deadly threat for over 60 minutes on your own waiting for them to arrive.

One of the reasons for the lousy response times, aside from sheer negligence and incompetence in handling calls, is there's just not enough police in Detroit to adequately protect the citizenry. The same unit can't be in the different places at once.

Detroit has too few cops and too much crime.

In Detroit you're still very much on your own, plan accordingly.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Miami Beach

After the Little Havana Tour, and wandering around the area a bit more, we drove down to Miami Beach.

A fair bit of traffic, but it's tolerable with palm tress and an ocean view.

Driving down to the beach we passed by many cruise ships.

Then we managed to find parking, no easy feat, and headed to the beach.

Very hoity toity Mami Beach is, with some very nice oceanic scenery, as thong bikinis seem to be in style there.

Lots of fun swimming in the ocean, then we headed back to Ft. Lauderdale after a nice long day.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Without Fake Hate Crimes, There'd Be Damn Few Hate Crimes At All

On the national stage we have Jussie Smollet now being charged with faking a hate crime in an attempt to smear whites and Trump supporters and make himself newsworthy in the process.

Locally, we've had quite a few fake hate crimes.

This latest one however brings the heat and may top them all for sheer depravity.

In Jackson, Michigan, a gay rights activist is now being charged for felony arson by faking a hate crime - burning down his own house, along with five pets (2 dogs and 3 cats) of his still inside it.

The Detroit News: Jackson gay rights leader accused of burning down own home

It takes a lot of commitment (or being quite the narcissist or sociopath) to do a fake hate crime where you burn your own pets to death.

After doing a lot of good things, and being properly recognized for it, including being named Jackson Citizen of The Year, apparently this jerk needed to spend more time in the spotlight and felt a fake hate crime would bring him and gay rights more attention. This of course fed the media frenzy that loves to paint the stereotype of the City of Jackson and its citizens as homophobic etc - by the way, it's not.

It turns out that while he like Smollet got initial sympathy and lots of attention, and money to boot, he's now not getting the kind of attention he wasn't originally seeking. Instead of being painted as a poor victim, he's now getting felony arson charges as just like with Smollet, the timeline just doesn't work and his purchasing $10 worth of gasoline just before the fire started isn't going to help much either.

Burning your own animals to death to fake a hate crime has got to be a new low in the annals of Fake Hate Crimes.

The Little Havana Tour

Our first day in Florida, we hit the pool, relaxed and took it easy after driving in.

The next day we were up and headed into downtown Miami for our Little Havana Food and Walking Tour.

Not just food, the tour also encompassed Little Havana's history and culture.

There was statues of roosters at every corner, very much a symbol of Little Havana.

Thence to our first stop for Cuban Coffee and Empanadas.

Very tasty indeed, especially with a little hot sauce. The coffee was awesome.

On to various stops including a Rum Bar / Art Gallery of Cuban Art:

As we sat there, a fellow came in with a live rooster. This apparently is not an uncommon occurrence on the streets of Little Havana.

Then on to a restaurant with excellent Cuban Sandwiches.

Walking along we saw many murals painted on buildings including this one of the Women in White - honoring the brave Cuban women protesters who regularly assemble on white and protest against the jailing of political prisoners in Cuba:

Then for a stop to sample some fresh made mojitos and for some to try some salsa dancing with the live band at the bar.

On we went to a cigar factory, where hand rolled cigars are made with tobacco seed from Cuba grown in Honduras or elsewhere and then made right in Miami. This fellow has over 20 years experience hand rolling cigars.

Then on to get another beverage as it was a hot day. This one was interesting:

The shop owner ran sugar cane through this machine and the resulting liquid was nice and refreshing but not overly sweet. Quite tasty and it really hit the spot.

We then stopped at the Bay of Pigs memorial.

A memorial to the failed invasion of Cuba to overthrow the Communist government in 1961. In short, the lesson of the Bay of Pigs is: Don't try a halfhearted amphibious invasion without sufficient men and arms, proper air support, and after leaks of the date and time of the invasion have been made to the opposition.

Cuban Americans are still not a fan of Castro and the commies by any means.

Stopping at Azucar, a famous local ice cream shop, I noticed a certain flavor being advertised (look at 3 over right and 5 down):

Yep, in Little Havana, they're really not a fan of commies, and considering how many of them or their families suffered under Castro one can't blame them a bit.

We ended the tour at the ice cream shop and it had been an excellent few hours full of learning about Cuban-American history, culture and food.

I highly recommend the tour if you have a few hours in Miami. Just don't eat anything first, you're going to want the room.

A Glorious Time Away With The Family

Just back from an excellent vacation, just in time to drive into the bomb cyclone were having in Michigan. Driving in 40-60 mph winds was rather fun yesterday. We came home to find the swing on the porch blown right off the porch, which is impressive given its weight. Luckily, it blew away form the house rather than towards it.

We drove to Florida last weekend and spent a great week in the Ft. Lauderdale area.

Many things were accomplished and experienced, including some relaxing on the beach with well earned sunburns to match.

Much to blog on, including a Little Havana Food Tour, Finally taking the entire family up in a plane, a Man O War Sting, and more.

A nice time relaxing and experiencing was had by all.

Friday, February 15, 2019

While People Paid Less Tax This Year, They're Upset They're Not Getting Larger Refunds

In other words, less of their money was withheld form their paychecks this year so they actually had MORE money during the year to spend and are now getting less of a refund than expected.

Of course this is because a lot of people can't do math and also somehow think a tax refund come tax time is money they're getting from the government. It's not, it's their own money coming back to them after giving the government an interest free loan for the year.

The Detroit Free Press: Frustration grows as Trump tax cut affects refunds

The IRS should have kept the same withholding tables and people would be happy that they gave more of their money during the year and got back more come tax time. Doesn't make any actual sense, but people aren't always rational actors.

Only about 6 percent of tax filers are actually expected to pay more under the new tax rules, according to the the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington, D.C. The average tax increase would be $2,760.
Another 29 percent are expected to see no change in their taxes. But that doesn't mean they're going to see the same sized refund, either.
"There is a difference between having a tax cut and getting a bigger refund this year," said Frank J. Sammartino, senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center.
"Most taxpayers received a tax cut," he said.
"But because the IRS changed withholding tables to withhold less tax during the year, many will see a smaller refund than in past years."

In short, yes you are getting a smaller refund, but you are paying less in taxes as you had less taken out during the year.

This again goes to my personal plan to eliminate tax withholding and make everyone write a check on April 15 for the full amount of their taxes owed so they absolutely know how much in taxes they are paying. Oh, and have national elections on April 16.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

FUTA - The Most Complicated Way To Pay The Feds $42, Ever

FUTA apparently stands for "F U TAxpayer!".

Since I'm a single employee business, namely myself, I get the joy of paying not just state unemployment taxes, which I can't claim or ever use as it is not like I can fire or lay myself off.

I also have to pay annually to the Feds the FUTA tax, which is short for the Federal Unemployment Tax Act, a tax the Feds use to buttress states that need more unemployment funds. Yep, you don't know it if you're an employee but your employer is, on top of everything else in terms of taxes and deductions, sending in at last $42 and possibly more depending on their state, for each and every employee.

The FUTA calculation is quite convoluted, starting at 6% of the first $7,000 of an employees wages or $420, and it gets credited down in general to .6% or $42 per employee depending on the calculations - and that's where the fun begins. Of course they can't do a simple form with (total number of employees x total amount of employee $wage up to 7,000 per employee) x .006. That would be too easy.

The form to do so instead is Form 940. Get a load of that beautiful form, and the lengthy instructions.

It's a great cure for insomnia.

The problem is if you follow the rather convoluted instructions and the form itself you will likely pay more tax than you should.

In short, after tearing my hair out as the numbers wouldn't work when following the instructions, I broke down and called an accountant friend and asked about it, as applying the credit calculations for prompt payment of state unemployment taxes etc led me to paying more tax which is kinda counter-intuitive.

In short, for a single member company you basically ignore the instructions and steps on the form and just enter in the baseline $42 for a single employee and don't even try and apply any credits or calculations.

Sheesh. Hours spent in frustration just to comply with a rather stupid requirement to send them a check for $42.00.

Yes School Wednesday - Snow But Without The Snow Day

Breaking precedent, school was surprisingly not cancelled today.

By 6:00 2 inches had already fallen and the snowfall is continuing.

Surprised they didn't continue the run of no-school Wednesdays, but I think the teachers and administrations have figured that they are out of bad weather days and they don't want to be tacking additional school days on in June.

Short of the governor resetting the bad weather day count and "pardoning" the missed days, they will have to extend into the summer, and they don't want that.

Plowed the Driveway of Doom™ twice already so the kids and Tash could get out. Roads suck yet again, but thankfully we fully chipped the ice off the driveway yesterday, otherwise we would have been well and truly hosed today and it would have been impassable.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Warranty Covers Everything But The Part That Breaks

I have a Kwikset electronic lock installed between the garage and house. Having a locked entrance form the garage to the house itself makes sense, especially as not very long ago there was a rash of break-ins by thieves who had a garage door opener reader that mad it easy for them to open a garage door, drive their car in, close the garage door, open the unlocked door into the house, load up and go. So a locked door there was a good idea, and a keypad makes it convenient to get back and forth.

It's lasted for almost twelve years now and just began acting up now. In short it won't open via the keypad anymore and can't be fixed. While the finish and mechanics have a lifetime warranty, the electronics of it only have a one year. Sigh.

Off to amazon to buy a replacement. The joy of shopping from home and home delivery in an ice storm.

Ice Storm The Second, Now With Even More Thrills and Spills

A nice ice storm with snow and freezing rain began this morning. I had to head out to an early morning appointment and boy was I in for a fun time. Plowed the Driveway of Doom™ and it worked decently enough with the snow with a crust of ice on top.

Traffic was super slow with a solid inch of snow on the street and rapidly freezing rain settling on top of it and everything else in sight.

Multiple accidents on the highway on ramp and on the highway itself, mainly spin outs, some of which looked like they took some talent to achieve. The highway was 25 mph at its best with no lane markings visible and no sign of any plowing.

Get to my destination and after the appointment have to scrape ice off the car. Back to the office on still very lousy roads. The office parking lot was a complete skating rink.

Then after some time at the office, as it seemed to keep getting worse I grabbed some work and headed home.

The Driveway of Doom™ was a complete sheet of ice by this point and slippery as heck. The car barely made it up and it was a close run thing with a fair bot of slip, thankfully the kids had heeded my text and threw some ice melter down in quantity just before I got home.

On to chipping the ice off the driveway with the kids who get yet another snow day.

About a tenth to a quarter inch of clear ice had accumulated that had to be chipped away with shovels and was slippery as heck,

I fell - ouch, the kids fell, even Jett the dog fell - and he comes equipped with 4-paw drive.

Chipping done, driveway is clear for now, but another storm is rolling on in. This winter is starting to suck pretty darn hard.

Now to do some work with the computer with a hot beverage in hand.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Movies Worth Watching: They Shall Not Grow Old

Last night I drove in a un-forecast snow storm to meet up with Pete at a local movie theater and watch They Shall Not Grow Old.

To say it was a fantastic and powerful documentary about a small slice of the British soldier's life in the First World War would be an understatement.

Well worth seeing and the usage solely of 100 year old film footage and its flawless restoration and colorization was amazing both for the technical aspects as to its revival and for the raw power of the footage itself.

Definitely stick around for the documentary that runs after the credits close that goes into how the film was made and the techniques used. The technical aspects that went into selection of the audio and to restore and make usable 100-year-old film all shot with different frames per second is simply amazing. The stuff that can be done today with computers with what otherwise would be unusable footage is incredible, and to colorize it accurately was rather awesome.

Thence to drive home in yet more snow and unplowed streets, and then it was the first time this year that the car could not make it up the Driveway of Doom™, complete with a quality backslide down. Then to get the snowblower out and realize I couldn't make it up the driveway with the snowblower or without it in boots either. Rather slippery and a bit painful it was. Then put the cleats on the boots and I got it clean enough to have the car make it up.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

BJJ: Cat And Mouse, Starring Me As The Mouse

After doing Gracie Jiu Jitsu for about six months now, I've progressed along to become a 4-stripe white belt. Now it's basically spending time refining and attempting to master all the techniques before I can formally test for the Gracie Combatives Belt, which is the belt before blue belt.

Yesterday, There was a seminar at the training center taught by a 3rd degree black belt.

To say it was like drinking from a firehouse would be an understatement. Learned a lot, need to drill out a lot of the new things I learned, and it was a great seminar. Lots of neat new counters and guard passes and lots of stuff that is above my current level.

After the seminar, we 4-stripe white belts were eligible to have our first rolling experience.

The rules were we had to roll with higher ranks than us as white belts rolling with white belts tends to lead to injuries.

So I got to roll with some very experienced blue belts.

It kinda went like this:

Pretty much it was cat and mouse with me starring as a mouse as the cat played with its food.

Let's put it this way, the first blue belt (an instructor btw) I was paired up with, had me begin in a superior position and then did the entire match with his eyes closed and won handily. In short, humility and lack of ego is rather important at this my current level, and future levels for that matter.

Much of the initial Blue Belt curriculum are techniques that counter and neutralize the combatives level curriculum, and it shows. Combatives works great against non-jiu jitsu trained opponents but has definite limits against more experienced practitioners.

A lot of the time I was pretty much in observation mode while trying to hold my own - What are they doing?, Should I try to stop what they're doing?, Oh, drat I should have tried to stop that, but too late! I did get to try one counter I learned from the seminar and it worked, at least for a little bit.

Forget about trying to tap out the blue belts, it was more a case of try to hang in there and try to see what they're doing and how to try and defend against it while seeing if there's any opening at all for an opportunity to improve your own position. Most of the time defending against one technique led you down a path where you were brought into and nailed by the next technique.

To say they're darn good is an understatement.

I did manage one match to a stalemate where neither side tapped the other out, but it was a very close run thing. I suspect he was deliberately holding back.

Feedback I got was that I did good, remained calm, observed well, and did a decent job trying to hold them off and went for what opportunities I could.

A full hour rolling with 6 different blue belts, pretty darn amazing.

Tons of fun, rather exhausting, and I learned a lot.

Friday, February 08, 2019

The Dem's Soylent Green New Deal

Ocassional-Cortex released her Green New Deal position paper and it's a doozy.

About the only thing its missing preventing it from becoming a path to a perfect utopia is a demand that the population of the cities be driven into the fields to work on communal farms.

I figure that'll be phase 2.

Reading the overview, from her office quite a few things stand out (Note they have since taken this down, but the Internet is kinda forever):

Ending air travel and replacing it with rail. Shows a complete lack of comprehension about economics, efficiency and the fiscal and engineering impossibility of running high speed rail track to every community in the United States. Its a monorail sales pitch all the way down.

Banning nuclear power - if they were actual environmentalists they'd know that nuclear is pretty darn clean and about the only reasonable and reliable alternative to fossil fuels.

Banning all fossil fuels and going to all "clean renewables" so under this plan prepare for power outages and brownouts in your area soon, comrade.

Even better is the communist approach to the Green New Deal, less environment and more about total state, union and Democrat control of the economy:


Build on FDR’s second bill of rights by guaranteeing:
Economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work

Read that one again.

Funding for it is blithely suggested to be done by the Fed simply printing money and incurring trillions and trillions of debt, not to mention all Green New Deal Jobs are to be union jobs under this scheme.

Hilariously, the position paper even admits that even if all the vilified billionaires and all companies in the US kicked in, it still wouldn't be enough money, only running the printing presses in overdrive might produce enough. Economics and reality really doesn't work that way. Basically this is impossible crony socialism at its worst.

Yep, its a watermelon plan all right. Green on the outside, red on the inside.

Anyone who believes in this nonsense is gullible at best to be charitable.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Detroit - Now With 42% Less Arson!

In a race to claim with pride the title of tallest midget at the fair, Detroit officials are happy to report that while there's more active arson in Detroit than elsewhere with many, many, more structural fires than comparable cities by an order of magnitude, the overall arson is now down by a lot.

The reason for the reduction could be there's less stuff left to burn now.

The Detroit News: Detroit blazes see huge decline

The fire fighters union on the other hand notes that this is nice but just changes the conditions from have improved merely from "Armageddon" to "insane.".

the city is now fighting an average of seven structure fires per day. That's down from about 30 per day that firefighters say they were battling five years ago.

Despite some progress, other large Midwestern cities reviewed by The Detroit News revealed Detroit's daily structure fire average outpaces them by more than three times. For example, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Columbus, Ohio, both average fewer than two structure fires per day even though Milwaukee has a greater density of people and Columbus has 56 percent more land.

In short while a percentage reduction is nice, and hopefully is reducing the risk to firefighters and other innocents, the total number of fires still ongoing is much too high. Detroit still has a huge problem with arsonists playing with matches.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Ice, Ice, Baby.

Today we experienced another of a Michigan Winter's charms: An ice storm.

Road are slick and slippery and the Driveway of Doom™ is covered in a quarter inch thick sheer coating of ice and schools are closed again for the 4th consecutive Wednesday in a row.

The kids claim this means the No School Wednesdays clause is invoked and is now in effect and their schools can no longer hold classes on Wednesdays after consistently cancelling them for a month in a row. It may be a myth but if enugh students beleive it with sufficient fervor....

The School Board rejects this reality and is substituting it own as Michigan schools are running short of snow/bad weather days.

On the upside both kids have decided that school time off means they need to do other things and one of them is baking. They just made an awesome chocolate cake complete with icing from scratch following a recipe with most tasty results. After chipping all that ice, a chocolate cake is rather happy-making.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

When The Left Runs Out Of Outrage, It Just Manufactures Some More

Whether as a desperate distraction from the Democrat Governor of Virginia's dalliance with blackface, or just a standard cry for attention, the latest leftist manufactured outrage is getting a fair bit of media coverage.

The outrage? That the venerable children's classic movie Mary Poppins, made in 1964, is racist! This is because Mary, Dick Van Dyke, and the kids get soot on their faces while acting as chimney sweeps, which is clearly racist because, well, the left declares it to be so.

The Detroit Free Press: Is 'Mary Poppins' racist and using blackface? Twitter is not having it

Anyone who actually viewed the movie with half a brain-cell not corrupted by leftist cant isn't having it either. Sometimes soot is just soot, and chimney sweeps are indeed chimney sweeps.

Considering the professor that wrote this clap-trap has a BA in History from Yale and a PHD in English from Harvard It doth seem that our so-called elite academic institutions have turned out "scholars" incapable of understanding context nor of being able to conduct non-ideologically based critical thinking.

Or conversely, all the great things in the English department have already been written about, and this surplus of scholars turned out by these elite institutions are now stuck inventing imaginary offenses of racism and creating issues of class struggle wherever they can manufacture them so they can publish something.

Monday, February 04, 2019

So Why Is It Called Forensics?

Easily confused with Forensic Science, Forensics the colloquial and standard short-form of "Forensic Speech" is the study and practice of public speaking and debate.

So why the heck isn't it just called a public speaking? Probably because public speaking just isn't fancy enough a term and lacks the history, pomp and circumstance of the word forensics.

Looking at the dictionary its easy to see why these are confused as the word forensic has multiple meanings.

Definition of forensic

(Entry 1 of 2)
1 : belonging to, used in, or suitable to courts of judicature or to public discussion and debate a lawyer's forensic skills
2 : argumentative, rhetorical forensic eloquence
3 : relating to or dealing with the application of scientific knowledge to legal problems forensic medicine forensic science forensic pathologist forensic experts

forensic noun
Definition of forensic (Entry 2 of 2)
1 : an argumentative exercise
2 forensics plural in form but singular or plural in construction : the art or study of argumentative discourse
3 forensics plural in form but singular or plural in construction : the application of scientific knowledge to legal problems especially : scientific analysis of physical evidence (as from a crime scene)

Of course finding out why forensics is the word used for speech and debate and the history of the usage of the word forensics isn't exactly easy or clear.

The word forensics comes from Aristotle's work "The Rhetoric" in which he divided rhetoric int three general categories: epideictic (ceremonial), deliberative (policy), and forensic (legal). Public address and debate skills were important in the Ancient Greek courts and also in public life, and this continues even in modern Western Courts and in public life as well. After all, we tend to like our leaders to be able to speak well and you probably wouldn't want a lawyer who couldn't get a word in on your behalf.

Since we do like our Classical origins and the classics, Universities and other educational institutions applied the term forensics to speech and debate activities.

The word forensics apparently first pops up in English around 1659 being first used in regard to speech in the legal system and by the 1830s seems to have entered the universities as a word for the study of, and competition in, public speaking and debate.

Legal speech and policy debates were very popular in the US (think Lincoln-Douglas debates for example) and the public wanted to be educated andable to speak and argue effectively. Later in the United States a variety of speech, learning and competitive activities beyond just legal and policy got grouped together under the term forensics or forensic speech. Then the categories under the rubric forensics expanded even more to include other oratorical events such as interpretations including poetry recitals, impromptu speaking, and now includes sales presentations, broadcasting, storytelling, Duo, and Multiple events.

So now you know (whether you wanted to or not) why its called a forensics competition without a single person from CSI attending.