Thursday, June 15, 2017

On walkabout

I have been on the road for the past few weeks. During that time, the wife and I drove from Florida to Seattle, on our way to Alaska. We stopped for a day or more in each of the following cities:

1- New Orleans, LA
2- Gonzalez, TX
3- San Antonio, TX
4- Phoenix, AZ
5- Sedona, AZ
6- Flagstaff, AZ
7- Las Vegas, NV
8- San Francisco, CA
9- Eugene, OR
10- Seattle, WA

It has been a great trip so far. We have had beignets and went to a jazz concert in the French Quarter, saw the Alamo, the Grand Canyon, and more.

I did discover that the Hilton in San Antonio is posted against both concealed and open carry, but the Marriott was not. Since signs have the force of law in Texas, I was faced with the choice of breaking the law and hoping not to get caught, or leaving my handgun in the car and hoping not to get burglarized. Once this trip has concluded (we have already paid deposits on all of the hotels for this trip) I will no longer use Hilton. I will be switching to the Marriott brand for my future travels.

Phoenix was hot at 108 degrees. The Grand Canyon was amazing.

One of my hobbies is that I am a bit of a gambler. The only game that I really enjoy is Craps. During our 4 day stay in Vegas, I won about $1200 at the tables. I will admit that I generally do not play as well when the wife is next to me watching. I think it is because she looks at me oddly when I make $100 bets. For this reason, I do not think that I can concentrate as well, and I tend to do less well. Once we were in a casino with her parents, and I was slightly at a loss ($100 or so). She left and went to the bar with her father, and 2 hours later I rejoined them, having won $3200.

At any rate, it's been a good trip so far. We leave in the morning for our next destination. We have already driven 5,000 miles in the past three weeks. The journey continues.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

I feel dirty

I just saw the end of my first grading period at my new school. As I was preparing to finalize my students' grades, I was pulled aside by my department head and informed that there were a couple of things that I needed to be made aware of, if I wanted to avoid having "that conversation" with my administrators. 

The rules for student grades are:
1 No student who is an ESOL student (meaning that they do not speak English as their primary language) can receive less than a C in any class they are taking.

2 No more than 15% of your students can receive less than a C.

Doing so means that you will be called into the principal's office, and will be told that you need to do more to improve your student's performance. Even if your students don't turn in any work, even if they are absent the entire grading period, if more than 15% of them have less than a C, it is YOUR fault as the teacher, and if it continues, you will lose your job.

The teacher across the hall from me refused to adjust the grades that her students earned. She was just told that her contract is not being renewed next year.

Me? Of my 132 students, 30 of them have been absent for at least 22 of the 45 days of the grading period. One student was absent for 29 of them, and at least 15 minutes tardy on 9 other days. Still, if I refuse, I will be fired and replaced with someone who will comply.

I adjusted, folded, spindled, and added points. 88% of my students got a C or higher. I'm hanging in there, but I feel like I have sold out. 

The education system is irretrievably broken. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Immigration discussion

I got in a social media discussion with someone who said that anyone who advocates breaking up families by deporting people is a monster. I pointed out that this was no more monstrous than breaking up a family for any other reason, such as jailing people for owning assault weapons or for DUI.

He tried claiming that illegal immigration is a victimless act, and therefore not a crime, and so all righteous people are charged with resisting any law which criminalizes free immigration. I pointed out that so was DUI and owning an unregistered machine gun.

He then tried claiming that all laws which have no specific, individual victim that you can point to are null and void. I told him to try not paying his taxes, and then see if the judge agreed.

He then moved on to saying that if he wanted to invite his friends from Mexico City to stay in his home, I was interfering with his property rights by denying that right, and therefore I did not respect property. That was when I asked him what the difference was between an individual's property rights and a nation's property rights. He then accused me of changing the subject, and began calling me a racist xenophobe because I hate Mexicans and Latinos.

I replied by saying that I did not mention race, and that HE was the racist for assuming that all illegal immigrants were Mexican or Latino.

That was when I got banned.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Frat Party

In January of this year, we decided that we needed a getaway. we found an inexpensive cruise on Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas. Being Diamond level members in their customer loyalty, program , we booked and paid for a suite on the March 10th sailing. We got a great deal, because all cabins have to be paid for 90 days prior to sailing, and the ship wasn't even half booked by that point.

Unknown to us, a Florida travel agency bought all of the remaining cabins, bundled them with unlimited alcohol packages, and then sold them to college kids as a spring break getaway. We were surrounded by booze guzzling, clothing optional Frat boys and their female counterparts. Vomit was everywhere: in the pools, the passageways, and the casino. Drunken passengers running up and down the hallways at 3 am, screaming at the top of their lungs.

Being a bit of a gambler, I was in the casino playing craps, and had to contend with college kids waving their hands in front of the game, and causing problems while I had several hundred dollars of bets on the table. When I asked them to stop waving their hands and their drinks over my chips, all I got were smart assed answers.

I saw a college girl with a VERY short dress and no visible underwear sitting on the lap of a piano playing crewmember, and right next to them was a crew member with his hand inside of the dress of another young woman.

In short, the trip was a booze fueled college party. I am too old for that crap, and it was NOT the relaxing vacation that I was looking for. Now, I will say that this was not our usual cruise with this cruise line, and we have never had issues like this before. A complaint to the cruise line customer relations onboard got us some sympathy and a 30% refund, but the manager told us to contact the cruise line's main offices when we got home.

When we did that, the customer service people were very rude, and said some outrageous things:

- What do you expect when you travel during spring break?

- We can't control what other passengers do 

- They paid for the cruise, just as you did 

- This is March, and you have to expect this sort of thing 

- Yes, we have a guest code of conduct, but there is little we can do to enforce it 

- We are sorry this upset you, but this is to be expected when college students are aboard. Maybe you should book cruises during other times of the year 

Maybe I should think about another cruise line.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

On the brink

A man armed with an AR 15 threatens to kill a man for having a Trump campaign sticker on his truck. the left would have you believe that the thug was simply expressing his right to protest. There is a lot of foul language and NSFW.

It seems like we are on the brink of a civil war that will cost lives. The last one cost over 600,000 lives out of a nation that contained only about 31 million. A similar casualty rate today would mean over 6 million dead. That number horrifies me.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Negligence in the name of thrift

Last summer, police were engaged in a training scenario with a citizen volunteer, a shoot/no shoot scenario designed to teach the citizen, who was a librarian, what it is like to be a cop. A cop, who was playing the part of a bad guy, shot at her with his service weapon, which was supposed to be loaded only with blanks. It wasn't. He shot her multiple times with a real bullet, and she was killed.

The police officer involved was arrested for manslaughter on Wednesday, six months after the shooting. There are those who claim that the shooting was an accident and nothing more. I disagree. It is unlikely that a magazine full of "blanks" contained a single live round. More than likely, the officer pulled a magazine of carry rounds from his weapon, and inserted a magazine of training rounds, leaving a live round in the chamber. This lack of basic weapon handling skill cost a woman her life. This was not an unavoidable accident, but a lack of regard for at least three of the four rules of firearm safety. It cost a woman her life, and a person is not exempt from that because they have a badge.

The officer isn't the only one to blame. The department could be using training systems where real weapons are converted to fire non lethal marking rounds for training purposes. While modified, the weapons cannot fire live bullets. They could be using airsoft. Cap guns. Paintball. Anything but real weapons. These systems cost money though, and many departments don't want to pay. Even though this one incident is costing the department millions in legal settlements and two officers, many departments continue to roll the dice in the name of thrift.

I used to work with SWAT, and did more than a couple of scenario based training sessions. During these sessions, we used real firearms that were inspected by instructors prior to the training to ensure they were unloaded. I was opposed to this, and for the exact reason above.

If you want to play cowboys and Indians (tactical version) then you have got to spend the money to do it safely. Even one training death is too many. There is nothing that we do in training that is worth killing anyone.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

First Amendment

A teacher in Collier county is reassigned pending investigation into comments that she made about her support for Trump deporting illegals and her opposition to the "day without immigrants" protest. There is a petition to get her fired.

That isn't going to happen, and I think that the teacher has a pretty good shot at a lawsuit for violation of her First Amendment rights. A similar thing happened a couple of years ago when a Lake County teacher spoke out on Facebook about his opposition to gay marriage. The teacher hired an attorney, and they settled the matter. The teacher is still at the school, still working, and the school is terrified of him. It made him a bit of a hero to the kids of the school, and he gave last year's commencement address at the request of the senior class. He had to point out at the beginning of the address that his speech had been preapproved by his and the school's attorneys.

Comments made while you are off work and expressing your own opinion are exactly what the First Amendment is designed to protect. Her employer is a government agency, and therefore cannot violate her right to speak. If she gets an attorney, she will win.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Cops gone wild

An Orlando police officer taunts and threatens a citizen. The cop curses out and taunts the man who was apparently filming the encounter without the cop's knowledge. At one point, he pulls out pepper spray, even though there appears to be no reason for its use. Watch the video and tell me what you think:

Note that there is another cop present who does exactly nothing to rein in this out of control cop. If the police do nothing to stop this sort of behavior, they will continue to see groups like BLM grow in power and popularity.