Sunday, December 31, 2023

Last Range Trip of 2023

After arriving back in town on Friday night, On Saturday morning I got up nice and early and headed to the range to meet up with Tosh, Jason and Spencer.

Weather was cold but not terribly so but compared to where I had been it was kinda cold indeed.  So we got targets setup and commenced shooting.

We started off with handguns and I fired my Black Friday purchase for the first time.

A PSA Rock in 5.7 to compliment my PS90.

I had thrown on a Romeo Zero Pro (will be changing for a better optic shortly) and had it ready to go.

 First impression: Rather impressed. It came with two 23-round magazines, and was optic-ready right out of its very nice carrying case.

The firearm grip is not nearly as bulky as I thought it would be and it fits my hand well. Interestingly, the Romeo Zero Pro as installed was right on and required no adjustment to zero which was nice.

Spencer also had his new to him Smith and Wesson M&P 5.7 along for comparison.  We both found that the M&P 5.7's grip is more rectangular and feels like a 2x4 compared to the Rock's.   The M&P also carries one less round at 22 in the magazine.  The Rock's trigger was also better, and is better than a stock Glock.

Recoil on both was pretty much negligible, and the lack of recoil was made up for with rather loud and enthusiastic muzzle blast from each pistol.  Didn't time it, but Bill Drills were ridiculously fast as the guns simply didn't shift in recoil and stayed right in the A-zone the whole time while firing.

I'd say PSA got the Rock right and its one very attractive package both cost and functionally speaking for people looking to pickup a 5.7 pistol.

Fired 250 rounds through it with zero failures and big smiles from all four of us.

I then pulled out the PS90 and those 50-round mags got fired quickly and accurately by all, again with some big smiles.  Too much fun.

I also shot my IWI Masada, as I hadn't taken it to the range in a while, and it performed perfectly as expected.

We shot quite a few more handguns including Jason's new Beretta 80x and his new Stoeger STR9-F that he got for a steal of a price with its rebate. The Stoeger STR9-F feels kinda like a reshaped Gen 3 Glock, and at the price he got it for, it is one amazing value.   It was a nice shooter and had zero issues.

Since Spencer and Jason were going deer hunting after the range trip, they brought along their 450 Bushmaster rifles for us to try.

Spencer had a Savage in 450 and Jason had a Ruger American Ranch in 450. 

The 450 has lots more recoil than the 5.7, to say the least, but both were perfectly good shooting rifles with very smooth bolt actions.  Lots of fun was had by all hammering steel plates at a distance with them.

I then pulled out the Tavor and Jason and Tosh their AR-15s and we did some magazine changing drills on the clock.  Need more practice with that, but lots of fun.

It was a great way to close out the 2023 Shooting Year.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Whitmer and The Dems Give You A Tax Increase For Christmas, And A Mioney Giveaway Too

That sucking sound you just heard is $700 million in taxes being pulled out of your wallets for more Democrat government spending.

The Detroit Free Press: Michigan's income tax rate can rise in 2024, judge says

A Court of Claims judge this week dismissed a lawsuit from Republican state lawmakers and business advocacy groups asking that the default income tax rate in Michigan remain at 4.05% instead of 4.25%.

Barring a successful appeal, that likely clears the way for the state's income tax rate to return to 4.25% for the 2024 tax year, a change expected to bring about $700 million more into Michigan's general revenue fund.

That was Judge Elizabeth Gleicher, who tends to rule for the Dems,  and here she nullified one of the words in the statute, making the tax decrease for one year only rather than it properly being the baseline under the law subject to being raised by further legislation.

But not to worry, that revenue will be used to bribe you to buy electric cars and to benefit Democrat-supporting unions in this state:

Yahoo News: Michiganders could save up to $2,500 on a new car under Whitmer rebate proposal

Whitmer's latest proposal for a state tax rebate lowers cost based on the type of vehicle purchased:

  • $2,500 for a new battery electric or hybrid vehicle made in a unionized facility

  • $2,000 for a new battery electric or hybrid vehicle made in a non-unionized facility

  • $1,500 for a new internal combustion vehicle made in a unionized facility

  • $1,000 for a new internal combustion vehicle made in a non-unionized facility

So a nice boost to push people to buy union-made cars, and electric ones as well, and a rebate to new car buyers at the expense of, and paid for, by everyone else in this state that likely would have preferred top keep their money in their pocket rather than for these Democrat-agenda-driven rebates.

A $700 million tax increase is quite the Grinch move there.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Merry Christmas To My Christian Readers And Friends

May you and your families have a wonderful and very Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Court: Election Redistricting To Favor Dems Has Racial Consequences

The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission , which just happened to redraw districts that ended up (quelle surprise) being heavily in favor of Democrats, drew some ire as the resulting districts diluted Blacks into multiple districts.  This dilution prevented Blacks from being assured of having a lock on Blacks as representatives in some districts that previously were assured of having a Black representative as a lock.

The Detroit Free Press: Court orders metro Detroit legislative maps redrawn

Now, the cracking and redistricting they are complaining about wasn't actually done to "prevent Black people from voting for the candidates of their choice"  it was about ensuring Democrats all won those seats. 

Putting Black-majority areas with their voters that vote 90%+ Democrat into other previously less partisan district ensured that result, even as it made Blacks not a majority in each of these districts. This meant in the Dem primaries a Black candidate wasn't assured of winning. Such lack of a racial lock is apparently bad. In short in their pursuit of a lock for the Dems (for noble, non-partisan reasons, of course), the Commission ticked off a key Dem constituency.

 Note, the results of the un-packing being complained about in the article:

The panel ordered the commission to redraw the following districts:

  • House District 1, currently represented by state Rep. Tyrone Carter, D-Detroit.
  • House District 7, currently represented by state Rep. Helena Scott, D-Detroit.
  • House District 8, currently represented by state Rep. Mike McFall, D-Hazel Park.
  • House District 10, currently represented by state Rep. Joe Tate, D-Detroit.
  • House District 11, currently represented by state Rep. Veronica Paiz, D-Harper Woods.
  • House District 12, currently represented by state Rep. Kimberly Edwards, D-Eastpointe.
  • House District 14, currently represented by state Rep. Donavan McKinney, D-Detroit.
  • Senate District 1, currently represented by state Sen. Erika Geiss, D-Detroit.
  • Senate District 3, currently represented by state Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit.
  • Senate District 6, currently represented by state Sen. Mary Cavanagh, D-Redford Township.
  • Senate District 8, currently represented by state Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak.
  • State Senate District 10, currently represented by state Sen. Paul Wojno, D-Warren.
  • State Senate District 11, currently represented by state Sen. Veronica Klinefelt, D-Eastpointe.

See how there's not a single, solitary R in that list?   

This is the result of  the creation of solid D-majorities in those districts by filtering Blacks into each to create solid D-safe districts instead of keeping solidly Black districts.

In short, the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission screwed up by not simply coming out and stating the truth - this wasn't racially motivated, it was instead very politically motivated to create Democrat-safe districts, which in doing so got rid of Black majority districts to spread that solid D-voting bloc around.

In short, it was gerrymandering of the very sort they bemoaned happening before, but since it helped the Ds, so it was the noble kind of gerrymander.

It's likely the redrawing will again create districts that favor Blacks by race (I had thought that doing things based on race was bad, but you know apparently locking things up for certain races is just ducky). 

It may even create a district where Republicans have at least a shot at winning, and my current gerrymandered (but for the best of intentions, right?) district which is in the list ordered to be redrawn, may even stop being completely overwhelmed by Detroit voters.  

One can hope for that anyways.

Mat Survival

Well, that was quite a roll last night.

At Jitsu class, as usual we spent an hour working on a technique, and then do open mat rolling where you can work on that technique, or can just  roll freestyle.  

Rolls had a timer of 5 minutes on them this time, and after that you find a new partner and go roll again.

So, for my second roll of the evening I got paired up with Chris.

Chris happens to be the same belt level as me, but he's 20 years younger than me, a head taller than me, and he is heavily into physical fitness. He also doesn't go less than full effort in all of his rolls.

In short, rolling with him is like rolling with a Mack Truck. 

Great practice for in real life, as you're unlikely to be physically attacked by someone weaker and smaller than you (mind you this session wasn't street-level realistic as it wasn't a fight sim class with punches - adding punches and havign to defend against them, especially facing him, really raises the level of suckage). 

In short this was rolling with the roll mode set to hard.

But this time around, he was unable to get a submission on me.  To be fair, I sure as heck couldn't get a submission on him, though I made a few attempts that got close and grabbed his attention at the right times. But, I was able to successfully shut down and survive each and every one of his attacks which was very happy making.

By the end of the 5 minutes we were both pretty much drained, as defending against him for 5 minutes was sure as heck exhausting for me, and he had to bring a lot of energy to the party to try and get me which was exhausting for him. 

But it was one helluva good roll, and a sign that I'm improving a bit in my technique, which is nice.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Blackbeard's Day 2 Night Dive

The Night Dive on Madison Avenue led to meeting lots of fish, as well as a different entry technique.

Due to the presence of Sea Wasps, a kind of stinging jellyfish, the recommendation was for a lights off, negative entry.

Lights off, as the wasps are attracted to light, and negative so you don't pop on the surface but instead immediately drop below them and keep descending.  

You descend into darkness, swim underwater to the down-line and turn on your light, meetup with your dive buddy and then get to exploring the reef.

Madison Avenue was hopping at night,  with lots of activity, including a night-time tuna encounter:


a large school of fish:

 As well as a huge spiny lobster:

Lots of neat things to see on Madison Ave at night.

It also led to an unexpected encounter and a realization:

You're not afraid of being alone in the dark. 

You're afraid of being NOT alone in the dark.

Because coming out of the dark we saw this.

Yes, that's a shark. It's an oceanic reef shark.

Note that there was no sound associated with the shark's appearance nor with his vanishing out of view of our lights. No Jaws theme played in the background, he was swift and silent and appeared as if out of nowhere without any warning.

My first shark encounter, and at night to boot.

It also really didn't help that my dive buddy, as the shark disappeared into the darkness beyond the reach of our lights, and then reappeared again, reached out and clamped down on my arm, hard.

Thanks for that, Jeff!  

Once I both verified that a shark had not just clamped down on my arm, and my heart rate got back to normal, we continued the dive.  

The shark checked us out a bit, and got kinda close a few times but wasn't hostile, just curious as to what these bubble-making beings were doing around his reef.

That was a heckuva exciting and neat night dive and shark encounter both.

Back on the boat we exchanged stories of the encounter with other divers, some of whom were also buzzed by the shark, and some who never saw it.  We'd be seeing more sharks in the near future.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Blackbeard's Day 2 Dives

The Next day began with a leisurely dive at the Pinnacle Wall.

Down to 101 feet.

Yep, it was time to go deep on some walls.

You can get deep real fast on a wall in the ocean.  You need to check your depth gauge as you easily lose track of how far down you're going,

Then we came up to around 65 feet for some cool coral swim-throughs.

 Some spots got kinda tight.


 But it was all fun. 

The dive lasted 25 minutes as you go through air faster at depth and at 100 feet one breath consumes the same amount of air of 4 breaths oat the surface. On an 80 cubic foot tank, that's not giving you a  lot of bottom time if you want to keep a reserve, not to mention your no deco limit is 20 minutes at that depth.

Then we had a snack and a surface interval and then went deep again.

Next was a dive to 107 feet on Whale Shark Wall for 27 minutes.

Saw some neat fish down there, but no whale sharks, as the site is named because someone allegedly saw Whale Sharks there. That would have been cool.

We also looked up and saw divers above us on the wall.

After the two deep dives we had an awesome lunch and moved on to the next site,  Madison Ave, a dive with a max depth for me of 40 feet to keep the nitrogen levels low, and a lot of fish,

Madison Ave lived up to its name and had lots and lots of fish in the area.

The night dive at Madison Avenue gave us not just a lot of fish but a heckuva surprise . . .

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Blackbeard's First Ocean Night Dive

I've dove in the ocean before.

I've dove at night before.

But I had never dove in the ocean at night before the trip.

On Day 1, after the Pablo Escobar plane dive, we then dove Benchmark reef, had lunch and then dove Barracuda Shoals. All the dives were in the 25-30 foot range, so nice shallow and easy.

We would then wait for the sun to set, and dive Barracuda Shoals again at night.

Blackbeard's as a matter of smart practice would always do the night dive on a site we had just dove in the light to both make us familiar with the terrain and to help develop a plan to find the ocean creatures that come out at night.

The ocean does get rather dark at night and since you're going around a rather large area, you want to be able to get back to the boat. Happily, Blackbeard's puts a strobe light out in the water by the bow so you can find your way back to the boat by covering your light and then looking for the strobe.  Blackbeard's also requires a tank beacon or glow-stick attached to your tank so your dive buddy and others can find you if your dive light is off.

We entered the water at 7:07pm and dropped down to 27 feet.

Getting decent photos at night in the ocean can be difficult.

There's lots of particulate and tiny creatures that are attached to the light that mess up your shots.


It's impressively dark down there, and beyond the throw of your light it's as if there is nothing visible at all, save for flashes of other diver's lights in the distance and the reassurance of the boat's strobe light.

We maneuvered through a swim-through in the coral at night, which felt rather different than when we did it in the light of day a few hours before.


See the spotted Eel under the rock?

He didn't want to pop out so that's the best shot I could get.

We also found a turtle:

He was all sorts of cute, and just chilled as he hung out on his rock watching us look at him.

After spending 45 minutes of bottom time in the dark, we ascended back up and got back on the boat.

We then changed and had a very tasty dinner after successfully completing 4 dives in one day.  Not a bad first night dive in the ocean at all.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Michigan State Bailout - Palooza!

Our dear governor just rescued a bunch of Democrat constituencies from their series of poor choices, at the expense of everyone other taxpayer in the state.

The Detroit News: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer approves money for Highland Park water deal, school debt relief

She just gave out over $134 Million of state money to bailout some key Democrat institutions:  Most notably $30 million to The City of Highland Park as a reward for its decision to not pay its water bill for decades, and for school systems also in debt due to overspending, mismanagement, and corruption.

The bills Whitmer signed also direct the Michigan Treasury Department to pay off $42.2 million in debt owed by Ypsilanti Community Schools, $31.3 million owed by the Muskegon Heights School District, about $18.4 million owed by the Pontiac City School District and more than $10 million owed by Benton Harbor Area Schools.

The money for Ypsilanti's school district includes $19.4 million to pay off the former Willow Run Community Schools' outstanding school bond loan fund balances or the school loan revolving fund balance. The Willow Run district merged with the Ypsilanti school system in 2013.

The spending bills also pay off $12 million in debt owed by the former Inkster School District, which a Republican-controlled Legislature dissolved in 2013.

Note these were all run into the ground by Democrat governance. Nothing is given to the school boards who properly managed their finances, nor to communities that actually paid their water bills, just more bailing out of Democrat-run, profligate spending government entities.

It has still never been explained where the money Highland Park collected from its residents for the water bills, and which it never paid to the water authority, actually went. Nor are we likely to ever get an answer, nor should we expect an accounting for these other communities' debts and what the money was actually wasted on.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Netflix's Obliterated

Obliterated is just a heckuva fun action comedy short series to watch.  

It is so far over the top it's awesome.

If you think of it as Team America - World Police but with live actors rather than puppets, you wouldn't be far off.

The story - an elite American elite special operations team stops a nuclear bomb plot in Las Vegas and then has a massive party to celebrate!  The only problem, the nuclear bomb they defused was a fake and the real one has yet to go off - and things proceed to get wackier and even more action packed from there as the very hung over team gets into action once again to save Las Vegas.

Let your need for realism be obliterated and just strap in and enjoy the over-the-top ride.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Blackbeard's - The First Dive

The first day of diving began rising at 6:00 am for coffee and a great hot breakfast.

After that we got a 10 minute warning that meant we were to check our air in the tanks and make sure they were full, assemble our gear, get in our suits and prepare to dive.

We then had a lengthy safety briefing.

1.  Tag yourself Off and back On the boat.

No one moves your name tag but you, and that way you do not get inadvertently left behind as the boat doesn't go until everyone has their tag back to the On Board side.

2. Dive to your certification level, not beyond it.

3.  No deco diving.

4. No touch / No take - no touching the sea life and no scuba fishing.

5. Keep a minimum of five minutes from your No Deco Limit (NDL) at all times.

6. When you're done with the dive, get on the tagline and wait for your turn to meet Chuck.

7.  Watch out for Chuck.

The ladder is named Chuck, short for Chuck Norris. 

This is because in a wavy situation it will kick your . . . teeth in  -- if you don't approach feet first.

So suitably briefed, the pool was declared open and we geared up into our tanks and BCDs, tested our regs and double checked to make sure the tanks were on and did giant strides into the ocean.

Dive One was a bunny hop with a maximum depth of 24 feet. A good shakeout dive for everyone.

We were going to dive a plane wreck touted to have belonged to Pablo Escobar and associates. The smuggler's plane crashed in this location, making it a nice, easy, and fun dive. 80 degree water didn't hurt one bit.

The wreckage is strewn around but it is quite recognizable as a DC-3.

There's quite a few fish under the wreck and stingrays "flew" by it.

Some newer divers used the dive to work on their buoyancy and skills.

It was a nice easy dive for 51 minutes of bottom time for my dive buddy Jeff and I. Our max depth 23 feet and average of 17 feet. 

A great way to kick off the live aboard dive experience.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Blackbeard's Morning Star

The transport dropped us off at the marina and we found our way to the Morning Star.

A 65-foot motor/sail boat, she'd be home to 22 divers and 6 crew for this trip.

To say space was at a premium was an understatement.

I was in the forward cabin, Bunk 2 upper on the right, right at the bow.

Here's the entrance to the forward cabin area:

That hatch and I would be very well acquainted.

First, we setup our BCDs and regulators on the tanks that were in the racks, and the BCDs and regs would stay on the tank the entire time.

Fins, masks, wetsuit, and other gear then went into the storage bins in the seats on the deck.

I then changed and put my street shoes and return trip clothes and other non-essential items such as cases for the dive light and such into my Stahlsac, which was then taken off the boat to be stored on land as there was no room for it nor for the other passengers' checked luggage.

My carry on bag then went to the foot of the mattress on my bed against the front bow, for me to rest my feet on at night.

After unpacking, we all gathered on deck in the horseshoe for a comprehensive safety briefing, and a briefing on the boat and how things worked such as meal times to how to properly use the maritime heads, showering procedures, etc.

Then we went down this hatch to the main salon (also sleeping quarters for 6 divers) to have lunch.

Food was always served buffet style and the table in the salon was often full, so there was always a bunch of people having their meals up on deck in the horseshoe, which was fun.

Amazingly, the cook, Darren, made ridiculously amazing food for everyone in a kitchen about the size of a phone booth, especially in rolling seas.


 I also got an official cup for use during the trip for coffee and other beverages, and had brought along a steel water bottle which would be very much needed.

In short it is very close quarters, but being around a bunch of like minded people all there to eat, dive, sleep, and repeat made it a ton of fun and the boiat had a ton of character.

There was even more additional character as the boat's captain's name was Morgan, which made it rather perfect.

Before we could set sail, we were still waiting on the last passenger to arrive, as he had been kidnapped, or press-ganged one might nautically say. In short they took him to the wrong ship, the Aqua Cat and had him checked in there as for some reason his name erroneously showed up as a passenger on both Aqua Cat and Morning Star, and it took a bit to get this sorted out. He got to us and there was much rejoicing. Sadly because it was late we would not get a short check-in dive done as there was not enough time.

Rejoicing included libations of rum punch, which was always available in the evenings, along with some good beer on tap, and there was rum and wine available in the salon below.

The rum punch would be in the yellow cooler, and a enhanced water (lemonade, Gatorade, bug juice etc) would be in the red cooler to be regulatory consumed to keep us hydrated.

It's rather handy to have a beer tap on deck.  Basic rule was drink all you like, but behave yourself, and no drinking and diving, which makes a lot of sense. Once you chose to imbibe, you were done for diving that day.

We headed off to the Exumas, and after dinner and some great conversation on board we all headed to our bunks (which were nicely air conditioned below decks) as we would be up at 6:30 the next day for breakfast and to prepare for our first dive.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Getting There Can Be More Than Half The Fun

Had my first ever dive live-aboard experience last week.

I went with Blackbeard's and sailed the Exumas in the Bahamas on the mighty Morning Star.

Blackbeard's has been described as camping at sea, and the company touts itself as offering twice the fun at half the cost - and they're right.

The Morning Star is a 65 foot motor-sailboat, and with 22 divers and 6 crew on board, space is at a premium.  Since everyone involved understands this and its  a bunch of like-minded diving enthusiasts, it works out.

But first I had to get there.

I hoped on the plane at DTW that would take be to Atlanta and then on to the Bahamas. A couple hour layover in Atlanta gave plenty of time to get the connecting flight.

Not so much.

As we taxi'd out of the gate, the pilot informed us that one of three generatgors on baord was showing as failed, and while we could fly like that just fine, we had to have a mechanic check it off.

So we went back to the gate.  And waited for a marshaller to take us back in.  Then we waited for a sky-bridge operator. That done, we were ready to go and still in good time.

But no.  Next we had to get 1,200 pounds more fuel as we had burned off too much waiting around. So we waited for that.

Then we had to wait for a sky-bridge operator to move the damn sky-bridge away from the plane ans the prior one had apparently wandered off. So we waited for that too. Time kept on ticking away.

We spent more time at the gate than the actual flight time to Atlanta, and I arrived there 8 minutes after the flight to the Bahamas had left.

Welp, good thing I had planned to arrive a day before the departure.

I got put up in a hotel in Atalanta and they put me on the earliest flight out the next day which would be tight, but do-able, but not how I had planned to get there. I had to cancel my hotel in Nassau and re-arrange ground transport to the ship. I also lost the opportunity to re-shuffle my bags as they were packed for weight and lithium battery issues rather than how I wanted them on the ship.   Ah well, flexibility is important when traveling.

So, when unexpectedly stuck in Atlanta, contact MrGarabaldi.

We got together, along with his heir, and he took me to the Dwarf House for dinner. I did not know what the Dwarf House was exactly until we got there.

It turns out, The Dwarf House is the original location of Chik Fil A.


It has a larger menu than the typical Chik Fil A, including fried pickles and hamburgers!

So I had to try both, and both were great. They really need to put those fried pickles on the regular menu.

It was fun catching up with MrGarabaldi and Heir, and we had a nice time. Real nice folks, and it is always good to see them.

Then in the morning I got up, checked out and figured out how to get to the international terminal from the hotel which was a short hop from the domestic terminal.   I then waited in the security line for awhile and then got to the gate for my plane.

Soon I was on the flight to the Bahamas and ready to go and we taxi'd to the runway after only a slight delay.

It was a pleasant flight, and we soon had the blue water of the Caribbean below the plane.

We landed and then went through Bahamian immigration.

 I then retrieved my checked bag with all the dive gear that had made it, and went through customs which was very simple and got waived through and out to the pick-up area where I met the shuttle that would take us to the boat.

Quite a few people were there for the shuttle with one other for Blackbeard's and 4 others for the  Aqua Cat, the more spacious and luxurious live-aboard. We all chatted excitedly about our upcoming trip and Jeff, my fellow Morning Star passenger and I decided we would buddy up for the dives.

So we departed the airport and headed off to the boat.

Friday, December 01, 2023

Unexpectedly, Hamas Violates Ceasefire, So Media Blames Israel

NPR's, totally unsurprisingly, is rather biased in both its headline and reporting of the end of the ceasefire to make it look like Israel is the party violating the ceaefire.  It takes reading to the 7th paragraph to find that the ceasefire ended due to Hamas firing rockets at Israel.

 NPR: Israel hits targets in Gaza as its cease-fire with Hamas collapses

Nice suggestive headline.

NPR and most other media also seems to be ignoring the shooting attack by Hamas in Jerusalem on November 30, that killed three when they get around to describing the ceasefire violation by Hamas:

Reuters: Two Hamas gunmen open fire at Jerusalem bus stop, killing three

One would think either shooting rockets or a shooting attack the killed three people would suffice to have the headline read "Hamas breaks the ceasefire with renewed attacks", but no. 

The Detroit News similarly ran a similar rather biased suggestive headline: Warplanes hit targets in Gaza as Israel resumes its offensive and warns of attacks to come in south

In that article it takes 13 paragraphs just to get to a statement that it is claimed that Hamas violated the truce, and again the article fails to mention the shooting in Jerusalem claimed by Hamas and doesn't even bother to mention that it began with Hamas shooting rockets at Israel.

The Detroit Free Press went for a both sides are bad headline: Airstrikes bombard Gaza Strip; Israel, Hamas trade blame on truce's end: Live Updates

Again no mention of the Hamas November 30 attack, but at least it only takes getting to the second paragraph to have Israel claiming  Hamas "violated" the ceasefire. Yes, they used quotes for it.

The bias is both telling and sadly expected.  Too bad they can't do better and report the facts.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Damn Stupid Porch Pirates

Well had my first porch pirate experience yesterday.

Had a delivery form Amazon, which included a nice picture of a small Amazon box and an Amazon box nicely located on my front landing.

Got home, the box was gone and the envelope was still there, along with some fresh footprints in the snow leading to the front landing that showed where the bugger came from and the direction he left in.

Interestingly, the jerk grabbed the box only, and they grabbed the wrong item.

The box had a 4-pack of lithium AAA batteries that I needed but has a value of about $12.

The envelope had some supplies in it that was worth more than that.

I'm rather curious as to why the scumbag decided to just take the box and leave the envelope behind. I expect the lithium battery warning label on the box probabl;y made them think they were getting something valuable.

First porch pirate experience, cannot recommend.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Good Reading Around The Webs

MosiacEcstasy and Amnesia in the Gaza Strip 

The article gives quite a good explanation as to the Arab mindset and how we got to the present conflict.  It's not just that, as Abba Eban said,  "The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity", it's more and more clear that they don't want the opportunity in the first place. Unfortunately, they keep getting bailed out of their continuing string of bad choices, leading to the conflict continuing ad infinitum.

Daniel Greenfield: How Hamas Became an Environmentalist and Gun Control Cause.  If you're not regularly reading Daniel Greenfield, you should be. 

In this article he explores how the strange leftist bedfellows came to be through intersectionality.  The weird case of LGBTers standing up for Hamas - the same Hamas that  gives LGBTers flying lessons off rooftops as standard practice.  Also the case of environmentalists for Hamas, (one would think Hamas' rockets harm the environment and lead to global warming and all that). That gun controllers are demonstrating for Hamas is also rather impressive - Hamas' attack shows the horrible outcome of gun control where defenseless people get massacred by armed monsters, but gun controllers never really act from logic anyways.

Hot Air: Hamas Keeps Violating Ceasefire Agreement

Totally unexpectedly, of course.

CDR. Salamander:American Naval Forces (with a Japanese assist) Capture Pirates

If you're not regularly reading CDR. Salamander, you really should as you're missing out on some masterful analysis of world naval affairs. 

Here we have Yemeni pirates hijacking ships that have connections to Israel, and the US Navy once again taking on anti-piracy operations in the region.  We also have the Houthis launching ballistic missiles at a US Destroyer - no forcible response from the Biden administration to this attack so far, which seems to be par for the course.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Well That's An Oopsie In Order Processing!

I recently ordered a Sealife Underwater Case for my iPhone. 

Given the camera on the iPhone is rather good, between it and a Go Pro I should be rather set when diving.  Bringing along a DSLR for underwater work is both bulky for travel, and the underwater case for the DSLR is extremely spendy (which makes reasonable sense as it is to protect a spendy DSLR).

The Sealife underwater case is rated to a depth of 130 feet and has two different leakage alarms which is rather reassuring.

So I received the case from (which is also known as Leisure Pro and they are both owned by Adorama).  It came in a box sealed with Adorama markings.

Unfortunately, opening the outer box revealed a bit of a problem.

The box for the Sealife case had clearly already been opened.

Indeed, I had been shipped a used case. 

So I called up to report the issue, and noted I had paid for a new case and definitely didn't want a case that had been returned, as I didn't know if it had been returned as defective or not, and I had after all, ordered and paid for a new case.

They asked me how exactly did I know it was used.

Well, I noted that the fact that the product box and the case inside the  porudct box inside the shipping box was open was a clue.  

A blonde human hair visible on the outside of the inner case inside the product box was a further clue.

Further clues included all the contents inside the case being rather jumbled up, and the fact that the case itself had scratches on the windows, which is not great for photography.

But, the most telling clue that it had been used was the fact that it had a really cool sticker placed upon the case - with the prior owner's name on it:

The customer service rep then agreed with me that yes,  that would certainly  make it a used item.

They immediately shipped me a new one, expedited (as I have a need for it sooner rather than later), at no cost to me for shipping, and sent me a return label for the used case.  

The only downside is I had to pay for the new case in addition to the original order and I will get a refund issued when they get back the used case. 

The customer service rep apologized for the mix up and believed what happened was the picker had inadvertently picked it off the used pile when shipping. Mistakes do happen, but they took immediate steps to fix it, and all should end well and that was good customer service.

I should get the new case soon.

It is however definitely a cautionary tale to immediately check goods bought online to make sure you're actually getting a new item when you buy new.

Abby's Chicago Trip - The Long Wait To Charge Home

Their trip was good and she was much surprised and they had a very nice time.

The return trip however was not quite so delightful.

You see her boyfriend drove her there in a nice new Mustang Mach-E GT.

E is for electric.  Now it is a very nice car, very well appointed with all the bells and whistles, and apparently is both zippy and comfortable.

While electric cars are great for in-town travel, a 241+ mile trip turned into quite the ask of the vehicle. 

It led to a game of find a car charger, wait for charger to be available, wait to charge car, rinse, repeat.

Took them well over 12 hours to get back to their respective places in Ann Arbor for a trip that would take under 3 hours and 45 minutes by gas-powered car, or four and a half hours by train.  Their way there took quite a while as well, but the way back was apparently a lot longer due to both a lack of chargers, and a lack of available chargers not being used by others on their trip home.

So for in-city travel, electric cars seem to be doing very well.  For longer trips, anecdotally, not so much.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Thanksgiving And More To Be Thankful For The Next Day

So, Thanksgiving was very nice.

The next day the family gathered for Abby's 20th Birthday. Also attending is someone who may very well become part of the family, Abby's boyfriend.  

They've been together for a few years now and he seems to be quite a good lad with a good head on his shoulders so we will see what the future holds. He's in pre-med at UofM.  He also has his EMT certification, and among other things, works part time for an ambulance company in addition to the crazy amount of studying a pre-med needs to do. They compliment each other nicely and make a nice couple

Her Birthday, as all family birthdays do, began with cherry cheesecake.


This was excellent.

In addition to the cheesecake, Leah decided to make Abby another cake to commemorate her older sister turning 20, completely decorated with her own lively sense of humor:

Yep, it says: "Congrats U Beat Teen Pregnancy". 

It came complete with babies made out of fondant.

That kid has got quite the sense of humor, Abby and boyfriend were suitably embarrassed, and  I daresay both parents were relieved that the message was true.

She then got most of her presents and had a nice time.

Her last present came a bit later in the afternoon.  Her boyfriend took her on a surprise trip to Chicago for this weekend, and as they drove to Ann Arbor they kept on driving west.  Leah helped by secretly packing a bag of her clothes and things and hiding it in the boyfriend's car. She'll be back in Ann Arbor tomorrow afternoon and back hitting the books Monday.  

The kid is certainly growing up fast and has turned out just fine as a young adult. Heck, she's turned out rather awesome. Smart as a whip and a good head on her shoulders. Be fun to watch her continuing to grow.

So it was a great day yesterday and I'm thankful for that as well.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving!

The All-American Holiday of giving thanks, being grateful for what you have, and spending time with family is now here.

The turkey is just about ready to come out of the oven, and I've made some excellent homemade cranberry sauce to accompany it.

May you and yours enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving time.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Range Trip - SIGs, Bullpups, And More

Went to the range this morning with Tosh.

We started off doing some handgun practice.  

Tosh wanted to work on splits so we setup a silhouette target at the center of the Bay and another on the far right side and worked on transitions between them. Good practice and we hadn't done much on transitions before and it showed.  Need more practice with that,. My heavy sweatshirt got in the way a few times as well to slow me down, so it was good to practice with different clothing on.

Then we moved on to Bill Drills, and my lack of range attendance the past couple months showed there.  While I fired three sets all clean, none were below 3 seconds. Shooting is a perishable skill and ,my Bill Drill progress sure perished.  Need to get to the range more.

After handguns, I broke out the PS90 and we each shot a full magazine of 50 rounds through it. Quite simply shooting the PS90 is a ton of fun.  No recoil to speak of, multiple shots right on target as fast as you can squeeze the trigger as the firearm simply doesn't move, and its' a nice compact package.  It's a fun gun that never ceases to put a smile on the face of whoever shoots it.

We then moved on to rifles, and I shot my Tavor  X95 and Tosh his shorty AR. he was getting a ton of gas blow-back from his Griffin Armaments suppressor. So much so that the charging handle occasionally flew back all by itself while shooting.  It's a great suppressor that works amazing, and a great value for the price, but you do pay for that sound reduction in gas right to the face.

We then decided to work on rifle reloads because that's not a thing we typically do, as in just about ever. Reloads were out of our back jeans pockets as we hadn't brought rifle magazine holders out.

Basic setup was a full magazine in the back pocket, a round in the chamber and an empty magazine in the gun. On the beep, safety off, come up and shoot the silhouette and then immediately drop the mag and reload and fire a second shot at the target. Then safety on, pickup the empty mag from the ground and reload it into position and full mag back into the back pocket and repeat. Both shots had to hit to count.

We did this on the timer and the lack of practice showed. Managed after a bit of initial fumbling to get the time from first shot to second shot hitting after the reload down to 4ish seconds but with practice I think I can get it faster.  Great practice and the Tavor does handle differently from an AR for reloading. But, once you have the process down, you can do it at a decent clip.

Then, we moved on to shotguns and did transition shooting with them.  I brought out my third bullpup of the shoot, the Tavor TS-12. Tosh brought his Mossberg 590A1.  With 16 rounds loaded on the Tavor it was fun to just keep right on shooting and hitting the targets long after he ran out of his 9 shot and was having to reload.  Much fun was had and I tried out his 590A1, as he got to use the TS-12, and it was a lot of fun and rather smooth - he's upgraded the safety and the magazine follower and it works quite well, and the pump action is rather smooth after all the rounds he's run through it. He's considering SBS'ing it and if he does I'll help him with his doing a Form 1 for the first time.

It was a heckuva good time at the range on a beautiful clear if cool morning.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

$10 Billion Is Going To Buy A Lot Of Drones

And Rockets, and missiles, and terrorist paraphernalia.

Daily Mail: USS Thomas Hudner shoots down drone launched from Yemen over the Red Sea in act of self-defense

USS Thomas Hudner shot down a drone sent by the Houthis, a terrorist force backed by Iran, after it approached the destroyer:

The official confirmed that the drone originated in Yemen and was heading toward the ship, which was operating in international waters. It's unclear whether the drone was armed or how close it came to the ship before being shot down.

The incident follows a wave of drone and missile attacks against US forces in Iraq and Syria, launched by Iran's proxy militias in retaliation for America's support of Israel in its war against Hamas.

In Yemen, Iran backs and supplies the Houthis, a Shiite faction that has been at war against a Saudi-led Sunni coalition in the country since 2015.

Iran has been busy with its proxies attacking and sending missiles and drones at American soldiers and sailors. Nor is this the first occasion it has done so.

So, what does Biden and the Arabist Pro-Iranian US State Department do in response to these attacks?

Legal Insurrection: Biden Administration Renews Sanctions Waiver, Opening $10 Billion to Iran from Iraq

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the decision-making process, said Blinken signed the waiver mainly because the administration doesn’t want to cut Iraq off from a critical source of energy.

But, they said the administration is confident Iran will not be able to use any of the money for nefarious purposes. They said a rigorous vetting process is in place to ensure that the cash can only be used for food, medicine, medical equipment and agricultural goods.

Yes and if you can keep a straight face after reading and believe that last paragraph, the check is in the mail, and there's just a darling bridge for sale in Brooklyn just waiting for you.

Note that this is on top of the $6 Billion paid to Iran for 5 US-Iranian hostages. 

You really can't make this up.

Compare And Contrast

Pro-Israel Rally in DC with over 290,000 participants.  Note that there was no unruly behavior, no property damage, no arrests and apparently no litter left behind.

JTA:  290,000 people show up for historic pro-Israel rally in DC, organizers say


The Detroit news: 2 Michigan lawmakers trapped as police clash with pro-Palestinian protesters in D.C.

Fox News: White House silent, Secret Service makes no arrests after pro-Palestinian protesters vandalize gate

Funny how the progressive, leftist, pro-Hamas side somehow always manage to go for threats, violence, and destruction, isn't it? 

Thursday, November 09, 2023

Diving In For Something A Little Different

This last weekend, as Delta had held a seat sale that I had jumped on, I flew to Ft. Myers, Florida and then drove an hour up to Venice and arrived after midnight Saturday.

Sunday, the next morning I was up bright and early and headed to the dock to get on a boat at 7 am run by Venice Dive Center. It was Shark-Tooth diving time. They've got a nice roomy boat and they offer a 2 dives per day trip. The only downside with them is you have to bring your own weights so I lugged 10lbs of lead through the airport which is kinda dumb.

We headed out to the fossil grounds and soon I was doing a giant stride entry off the stern of the boat and into chilly 71 degree water with 6 feet of visibility or less.

Monday, I got up and went to the meeting spot for Aquanutz Dive Charters.  They offer a 3 dives per trip and provide weights,  They sadly had no openings on Sunday. Aquanutz has a smaller six-pack boat so you don't do a giant stride off the stern, you do a back roll off the side of the boat into the water.

Do you know why divers do a back roll off a boat?  Because if they did a front roll, they would land in the boat and bang their heads.

So I did 5 dives in 2 days.  The water temp was 71 degrees F, so it did get a tad chilly. Bottom time was anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour per dive for me.

Sunday, the water was pretty choppy but not a big deal except it made getting back in the boat a fair bit of work.  Visibility was about 6 feet and mucky.  Dives were to 30 feet or so.    Monday it was less choppy but visibility was still low and there was still a fair bit of current.

I sadly didn't find any Megalodon teeth, but did find a fossilized Lemon Shark tooth and a lot of fossilized bones - Dugong (ancient manatees) and fossilized turtle shell. Still neat and fun diving. A few fish but mainly mud and current was moving pretty good.

I also inadvertently almost petted a stingray as I was searching for fossils.  He was hidden on the bottom in the muck and as I went near him he jumped up, I jumped in response.  We both agreed that we startled each other and would mutually go on our separate ways without any further ruckus.

After the dives following a recommendation, I headed to Nokomo's Sunset Hut for a great lunch.  A blackberry Jack Daniels tiki drink and a Grouper sandwich really hit the spot.

Great restaurant, great service, and one heckuva nice view.

Monday I again got up early and  headed out with Aquanutz.  It was a fun boat with quite a few neat people on board. They also had some spare neoprene hooded vests to go around, and I put one on top of my wetsuit and was much more comfy for the dives.

Visibility was again about 6 feet or less, but less choppy. 

Quite a few more fish to see at these dive spots, including on the last dive a huge Grouper (bigger than your head in size) hanging out by the anchor line.

Sadly while all the experienced divers found some great Meg teeth, the two newbies on board, myself and another fellow, both didn't find any. We were, as the captain said, Megless in Seattle. Apparently it is hard for newbies to find them, but once you've found one your brain knows what to look for and you then find more a lot more easily.

On the upside on these dives, I found a Bullshark tooth, whale ear bones (they're rather neat), more dugong bones and a big whale bone.

I also came across some large fossilized sand dollars. These are each slightly larger than the size of a teacup saucer.  Kinda neat.  Also neat they survived the trip back to Michigan. The regular smaller sand dollars tend to disintegrate as you ascend from depth as they are a lot more fragile.

So sadly, no Meg teeth for me. Other folks on the Aquanutz charter did find some real beauties including one that was 4.5 inches in size, meaning the Meg it belonged to was around 45-feet long!

I then headed back to the hotel, washed the gear and hung it to dry and did some work until late, then ate at the hotel restaurant.

Tuesday, I again worked at the hotel until it was checkout time, checked out of the hotel, drove back to the airport and dropped off the rental car and then worked at the airport until it was time to leave.

TSA at Ft. Myers Airport was both the nicest and most helpful bunch of TSA people I've ever seen.   My artificial hip, as I set off the metal detector with it, now gets me fun with the x-ray machine for screening every time now.  They were cool about it, and actually listened when I told them that would happen and so they routed me right to the scanner rather than wasting everyone's time by first beeping at the metal detector. They were fine with the bones and sand dollars in my carry-on but did search the bag to check out the dive computer and regulators.

Then I got home around 11:30 pm to 43 degree weather after enjoying the 80s for the past few days, and had court Wednesday morning nice and early.

In short, it was a great experience and I need to keep looking for Delta seat sales to do that again in the future.  Delta was perfectly on time and offered nice fights with great service on board. I will find some Meg teeth eventually and the fun of those dives and the thrill of the hunt is still there, even if I didn't find any.