Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Random Quote of the day

There are more molecules in a glass of water than there are glasses of water in the ocean.

(If you doubt this, consider Avogadro's number: 6.02 x 10^23. This means that for every 18 grams of water, there are 602 billion billion molecules. A liter of water weighs 1,000 grams, meaning that a 1 liter bottle of water contains  3.31 x 10^25 molecules.

The volume of the Earth's oceans is about 1.4 x 10^9 cubic kilometers. That works out to 1.4 x 10^21 liters, meaning that there are more than 2,000 times as many molecules in a glass of water than there are glasses of water in the ocean..)

Hope I got all of the math correct.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Officer Discretion

My brother was in a car accident twice in a two week period. The first time, he was driving down a 4 lane divided highway in the right turn lane. Traffic was slow, and the vehicles in the other two lanes waved a vehicle across the highway. My brother T-boned him. The cop didn't want to write a ticket, and said that due to officer discretion, wouldn't. As a result, the insurance company claimed that my brother was 50% at fault, and would only pay half of the damage. So he had to fork out $2,000 to repair his car.

Having had his car back for just four days, my brother was sitting at a red light when a car rear ended him. The cops again used officer discretion to not write a ticket. Same story, the insurance company again refused to pay more than half. Another $1800 later, the body shop bought him a steak dinner for being a "good" customer, and bringing nearly $8,000 into the shop within a week or so.

So he complained to the police department and was told that there is no way that they can force cops to write tickets. The worst part? All of this happened during the same week that the city entered talks to install red light cameras at all of the intersections.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Our course is set

I am not a Ron Paul supporter, in the sense that I don't run around actively supporting him as a candidate. In fact, there are places where he and I do not agree. Now, I am not going to use this post to extoll the virtues of one candidate over the other. What I AM going to do is point out where we are.

We are on the train to national insolvency and dictatorship. The left claims that they need to tax the rich to pay for all of their programs and ensure that everyone gets a fair share of the national economic pie. They ignore the fact that they are spending us into insolvency.

The right claims that they want to control the left's spending, but never seem to do so. They claim that we need to cut spending and taxes. Just not defense. Oh, yeah, and we need to go to war with everyone until they all bow down to us as Americans. The chief war cry of the right is: if you don' t vote for the party hack, it is the same as voting for the other guy. Except, they forget that it won't matter which one you vote for, because other than the D or R behind his name, there is not a real difference between them.

Lest you forget, our last Republican president brought us a 9 year long war in Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with the attacks on 9/11; the Patriot Act; the TSA and their intrusive searches; secret prisons; torturing prisoners for information; and added more than $4,900,000,000,000 to the national debt in 8 years.

Our current President has expanded the powers left for him by his Republican predecessor and begun executing assassinating Americans without trial, forced people to buy products that they don't want, and has expanded the national debt by $4,800,000,000,000 in just 4 years.

The reason why I would vote for Ron Paul isn't because I always agree with him, it is because I already know what I am going to get with the others, and I know it isn't working. I do believe, however, that it doesn't matter who we vote for, as our course is set. We aren't voting our way out of this. It is only a matter of time before we sink our national ship under the weight of financial irresponsibility.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Propaganda film

The new movie Act of Valor comes out this weekend. Like Topgun, this movie is intended to be a propaganda piece that will increase enlistment in the Navy. (If you don't believe it, click the link and read the article.) The Navy likes to make it appear as though everyone in the Navy is either a SEAL, an Electronics Technician, or an Officer. They try to gloss over the less glamorous facets like hull technicians, engineering department, and all of the dirty, nasty jobs that the majority of the crew has to perform in order to keep the ships running.

Go see the movie. I will. Just remember that the Naval Special Warfare Community is even smaller than the fighter pilot community, and both are very difficult to enter and have extremely high washout rates. The Navy gets you to enlist to be a pilot or a SEAL, and then makes sure that washout rates are near or over 90%. After all, very few people go into a recruiter's office and sign up to chip and paint a ship for 4 years, but the job still needs to get done. The people who wash out of these programs are the ones who get stuck in these jobs, and they sometimes wash people out for the most minor reasons that they can think of.

In the early 80s, just before Top Gun came out, the Navy had a hard time getting the smart kids to join, because the Air Force was getting them all. (That is why Top Gun came out) When I was in boot camp, fully half of the recruits were there because of that movie (I was not) and stated that they wanted to become officers and eventually, pilots. Less than 1 in 1000 made officer, and less than 1 in 500 became pilots, and of those, the majority were helicopter and cargo plane pilots. Less than 1 in 100,000 enlisted recruits became fighter pilots.

So the Navy's tool for getting the smart kids when I signed up was Nuclear Power School. A promise of E4 within months, E5 in less than 2 years, bonuses after the first year, and technical training were the draws. Of course, they glossed over the 70% washout rate. People were washed out for getting traffic tickets off base, being caught in the Enlisted Club after 10 pm, and drinking under age. They did all that they could to meet that 70% washout rate.

Four years later, the program was passing 75% of candidates, because the Navy had better ways to populate those crappy jobs.

So to sum it up, remember it is just a movie. Don't sign up for the wrong reasons. Think about what you are getting yourself into.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Oil prices

This news report talks about rising gas prices and states that for every $50 you spend on gas:
$30.75 goes to the oil company
$7.00 to the refinery
$6.00 goes to the government
$4.00 to the distributor
$1.25 goes to the credit card company
$1.00 to the gas station

The entire article insinuates that the oil company is being greedy, but how fair is that?
$50 in gas, with prices around $4 a gallon, will get you about 12.5 gallons. There are 42 gallons to a barrel of oil, so your $50 in gas becomes slightly less than a third of a barrel of oil. Oil is currently about $110 a barrel. A third of that is about $33, which is about what you pay.

What changes the price of oil? In this case, blame the dollar. The government is not counting the price of fuel or food when they calculate inflation. The government is spending so much that the dollar is losing value, which is increasing the price of goods bought overseas, and the number one imported good is---- gasoline.

Blame profligate deficit spending for the pump prices.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Never doing that again

While I was doing my taxes, I was playing with Quicken and decided to see what living in my house cost me. I "bought" that house in 2007 for $236,000. Two and a half years later, it was worth only $96,000 and I declared bankruptcy to get that albatross from around my neck. When all was said and done, it came out in court that no one could tell me who owned the mortgage on that house, and so I won a "free" house in court.

Out of the five years since I bought it, I have not paid a dime in mortgage payments since September, 2009. Even so, that house has cost me $44,254 in mortgage payments over the last 5 years. Other expenses for the last five years:
Homeowner's Association: $1,591
Electric bills: $15,471
A new air conditioner/ heat pump: $4,219
Household maintenance, landscaping, and lawn care: $11,152
New appliances on moving in: $5,408
Insurance: $5160
Property taxes: $6341
That is a total of $93,596 for 58 months. That works out to $1,613 a month. Now keep in mind, I haven't made payments on that house for half of the time I have been there. If I had been, the monthly cost would increase to about $2,300 a month.

Now, to be truthful, I would have to pay utilities in an apartment, but I included them above because I have never had an apartment with $400 electric bills, which were not all that unusual in this house.

The five previous years in an apartment cost me an average of $1234 a month, including utilities and renter's insurance. My apartment was nice. It was only 200 square feet smaller than the house I bought, and it had a garage. Does anyone think that the tax advantage of owning a home saves you $14,000 a year in taxes? Not even mentioning that the house is worth $142,000 less than I borrowed on it. Had I not filed bankruptcy and gotten that house, I would still be upside down on it. I am not repeating that mistake. I will rent from now on, thank you very much.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The biology of self control, part 2

This is a continuation of the post on the physiological origins of self control and criminals. For the first part, click here.

The next neurotransmitter that is important is Serotonin. Serotonin is not capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier, so the brain must produce all that it needs. Serotonin is produced by converting an amino acid called tryptophan into Serotonin. (Serotonin is also used for other purposes in other parts of the body, but that is not within the scope of this post.)

Serotonin is the chemical that causes us to feel loved, safe, and comfortable. This is why meals high in tryptophan are called comfort foods. This is also how the drug Ecstasy (MDMA) works. That drug causes a massive release of Serotonin from your neurons. Long term use of MDMA actually causes a decrease in Serotonin, though, as the cells that produce it begin to "burn out." Various other drugs that are centrally acting also work on Serotonin and its receptors, like SSRIs.

When we do what we know that we are supposed to do, the frontal lobe rewards us with a rush of Serotonin. This is the brain's reward system for good behavior. The Midbrain rewards pleasurable behavior with Dopamine. The balance between the two is the way our behavior is controlled: Midbrain rewards us for pleasure seeking, the Frontal Lobe rewards us for controlling our bad behavior. Most people are fairly balanced between the two, and mostly seek out pleasurable but good behavior.

There are things that can upset this balance:
A mother who exposes her unborn child to alcohol can damage the frontal lobe, and giver birth to a child with impulsive and unsocial behavior. Remember hearing about how the prenatal exposure to alcohol affects the corpus callosum? That's the membrane between the left brain and the right brain that passes information between the two hemispheres of the brain. The corpus callosum of kids with fetal alcohol syndrome is damaged, and in some cases it is absent. This is very similar to what happens when a "normal" person drinks alcohol. After a few drinks, alcohol shuts down the left side of the frontal lobe, which no longer functions the way it should and this suppresses the frontal lobe, causing the person to act on impulse, disregarding consequences, and seek more reward from the Midbrain. A person will act to do things, even  when they know that it is wrong and will cause them trouble in the end. With long term alcohol and drug use, this condition becomes a permanent dysfunction.

Since much of this is biochemical and not conscious thought, people with frontal lobes that are damaged by congenital defects or drug use have no way of stopping this behavior.

That brings us back to recognizing a person's potential for becoming a killer. We can look for people who:
 - chronically use alcohol or drugs,
- have displayed a history of not producing enough Serotonin. They are easy to recognize, as they have problems controlling their impulsive behavior (in other words- criminal records). However, this only is a reliable indicator if the criminal KNEW that what he was doing was wrong. After all, the person must know it is the wrong thing to do, if the frontal lobe is to be expected to control the impulse.
- Identifying others who have problems with their impulse control center. This suggests that there may be a test that can be performed that will indicate a person's proclivity for committing crimes, which may mean that there is a medical solution for some criminals.

You also can see why gun control has little effect. The criminal is a criminal because his brain doesn't stop him from committing acts that he knows are wrong. He knows it is illegal to rob someone, but he doesn't care. He knows as a convicted criminal that it is wrong for him to own a gun, but doesn't care.

On the other side of that, a man convicted of an obscure felony like owning more than 5 sex toys is not a threat to public safety and is unlikely to commit a crime with a firearm, as his impulse control is most probably fully functional.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Range Report

I finally got to take my new M&P 40 to the range. I had been hoping to be able to test my Storm Lake 9mm conversion barrel, but they are on backorder. It seems that no one has any, which tells you that they are selling like hotcakes. I wanted one to make shooting for practice cheaper, but we will have to wait on that.

The second thing I was testing was my new XS sights. I had them installed last week, and was not able to try them out yet. The sight consists of a large front dot and a vertical line on the rear. To aim, you simply make the front dot sit on top of the line, like a lollipop, like this:

This has got to be one of the fastest sights that I have ever used. It was accurate, with me shooting a rapid fire 8 round two inch group at 10 yards. My only complaint was that the gunsmith did not Locktite the screw for the rear site in place, so it backed off after 20 rounds or so, and my shots were going wild. It took me another ten rounds to realize that it wasn't me that was causing the wild shots. Three more shots to get the sights realigned, and a dab of Locktite, and I was back to shooting tight groups.

I fired 250 rounds without a single malfunction. Something I was never able to do from the two 1911s that I got rid of. In fact, the two 1911s that I still have were not able to do that right out of the box. Those pistols needed a break in period of about 500 rounds to get working. In all, I am happy with this pistol, and I am comfortable with carrying it as a defensive piece. Now all I need to do is get some leather for it. I am thinking about a Brommeland Max Con V. I like leather and not plastic holsters. Anyone have opinions?

Friday, February 17, 2012

We interrupt this blog

I was going to post a part 2 to yesterday's post that was the beginning of my theory on the biological reasons for why some people are criminals, but I need to take a minute to vent.

Yesterday, I posted the following image on a social networking site with the caption of "Aren't we as Americans tired of this yet?"

 In response to this, my ex-sister in law, who is on food stamps, decided to post the following:
More restarants are accepting ebt so families can experience the going out to eat like families who can do it anytime they want, i think that america needs to learn that the unemployment isnt a joke and a lot of ppl have stopped lookin for work cause there isnt anythin out there, so stop complaining about ebt and be happy that if u have a job or are gettin paid to go to school atleast u dont have to deal with struggles like some families do
 Here was the reply that I sent her:
I don't care if you go out. I do care if you go out and expect me to pay for it. The EBT system is meant for people to not starve, not so they can have luxuries like "experiencing going out to eat." You have internet access, which tells me that you have at least some money for luxury. It is about priority and about working to get ahead, not about waiting for someone to give you something. I get paid to go to school because I worked and saved in order to do so, not because I sat around and expected handouts. It isn't luck that I had a job or that I am in school, it is called HARD WORK. There were times that I had to work 3 jobs to make it. It isn't that there are no jobs, it is that you don't want to work at the jobs that are there. Get off the internet, stop using the EBT to go to Pizza Hut, put away the pride and take whatever job you can get, but stop asking me to pay your bills.
 It really angers me when someone says that I am somehow lucky to have what I have, or that I somehow fell into having a good life. 
I graduated from a public high school. So did you. We started from the same point.
I couldn't afford college, so I joined the military.
While in, I got my girlfriend pregnant, and married her. We had a child when I was 19 years old. It was a struggle, but I provided for my family. Try making it on what an E3 makes, and see if you feel fortunate.
When I got out of the military, things were tough. At one point, we were homeless for about three months, and lived in a storeroom at my job. I bathed my kids in a 48 quart ice chest. 
I went from job to job for the next four years, each job paying more than the last, until I could afford to go to school. 
I then went to the fire academy and paramedic school at night and on the weekends while I worked during the day. Then, I got a job with the fire department, and worked my ass off to get promoted twice, and earn a retirement. During this time period, I worked three jobs so that I could save for a rainy day. 
After 12 years of that, I lost everything when the stock and real estate  market crashed. I wound up bankrupt. 
I worked hard some more, and finally retired with about $50,000 in savings so that I could go to school.

Socialists call that "good fortune" or "luck"

I call it hard work.
Get off your asses and get a job, but stop expecting me to pay your bills.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Killers, biology, and control

There are always people who think that keeping people from owning guns is the answer to preventing murder. These people say that anyone is capable of being a criminal, and therefore guns are too dangerous for anyone but cops and the military. Others say that there is no way to predict who will be a killer, but is this true? Why do people become criminals, addicts, or killers? The answer is in our brains.

The neurological system of human beings is controlled by chemicals called neurotransmitters. The brain manufactures more than 60 different neurotransmitters that are responsible for everything we do from breathing, to pupil contractions, and even our thoughts and emotions. For the purposes of emotion and this discussion, there are three that we are talking about: Dopamine, Serotonin, and Norepinephrine.

Everything that we do that brings us pleasure involves Dopamine. If it makes you happy, Dopamine is the chemical that is responsible. The nervous system uses dopamine as the reward for good behavior. Serotonin is the love and comfort chemical. This neurotransmitter gives us our feelings of belonging, self-confidense, and calm. Norepinephrine is responsible for the "4 F's" (feeding, fleeing, fighting, and f*cking).

In the human brain, there are components that control our emotions and behaviors without our conscious control. Among these is the midbrain. A small area of the midbrain called the Substantia Nigra makes dopamine, and passes that reward through a structure called the nucleus accumbens, past the frontal lobe, and to the rest of the brain. Since the midbrain is out of our conscious control, there are no ethics or morals involved in this level of control, this is pure instinct. In this way, the midbrain causes us to do whatever brings us pleasure.

We can exhibit a certain amount of control by utilizing the frontal lobe of the brain to interdict some of these impulsive, hedonistic impulses. You see, the frontal lobe of the brain is where our sense of morals, self control,  and duty originate. In children and young adults (up to about age 25) this area of the brain is not yet fully developed, and this is why people in that age group do stupid and irresponsible things.

In addition, various genetic and environmental factors either damage or prevent the development of this part of the brain. Individuals that do not have a fully developed frontal lobe have little self-control, no sense of right and wrong, and no morals. In short, they are out of control criminals.

Part two of this post can be found here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gun update

So I traded my poorly functioning Kimber Pro Carry II for an M&P40 and a little extra cash. I was considering trading my Colt Combat Commander in for another, but instead I sold it for cash. I am using the cash to buy magazines, leather, some ammo, and a 9mm barrel for the M&P.
The reason that I made this decision is that I could not find a single M&P40 compact anywhere. The local shops were all out, and even CDNN was sold out. The dealers that I spoke with all said that they cannot keep concealable pistols in stock because they have been selling so many. The M&P compacts are on back order, and there is no expected delivery date.
The same was true for conversion barrels and magazines. Magazines are hit and miss, with some dealers having 9mm but not .40 mags, and others having the opposite problem. Even Brownell's is out of the conversion barrels. So is cheaper than dirt.
Ammo is also flying off the shelves, with many of the more popular self defense ammo shelves looking pretty empty. This is all flying in the face of the Brady claim that gun ownership is falling.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Everyone is a terrorist

Here is a list of things that the FBI says make you a possible terrorist:

if you pay cash for small purchases like a cup of coffee, or for large purchases
using encrypted files
shaving off your beard
SCUBA diving without certification card, or SCUBA training to get a certification card, being a SCUBA diver without a logbook, diving using "rebreathers", use dive equipment for extended dive times or deep dives
taking pictures with a cell phone, having more than one cell phone, buying more than one disposible cell phone, not activating a prepaid phone at the time of purchase
At work: likes to work alone or unsupervised, and if at work, is willing to do tasks that no one else wants to do
people who are overdressed, underdressed, or are dressing to blend in
playing paintball on your own property
buying waterproof matches, MREs, or flashlights
absence from work for charity work
study of fields that can be used for terrorism like chemistry, gunsmithing, SCUBA training, rappelling, marksmanship, etc.
When renting a vehicle, inquiring about its fuel capacity
receiving a large number package deliveries
having weapons on your property, or buying bulk ammunition
refusing to allow landlord to enter rental property on demand, or changing locks without landlord permission
having offensive tattoos, or asking to have offensive tattoos concealed, covered, or altered
owning remote controlled model aircraft
use of model rocket engines and igniters
buying firearms and ammo outside of hunting season
requesting hotel room in specific location or floor
arrive at hotel with too little or too much luggage
persons mumbling to themselves
excessive sweating

This list covers so many activities that it is useless. If you read the list, everyone is a possible terrorist, because if we just focus on Muslim males between the ages of 16 and 35, the terrorists will know this and exploit it. Except looking harder at Muslims is profiling, and we can't do that, that would be insensitive and discriminatory, thus ensuring that the terrorists don't need to disguise themselves as non-Musilms.

Santorum is a wanna be religious dictator

The choices left to us in the presidential race this year are not palatable choices. Let's take a look. Here is what Rick Santorum had to say in 2006:
“This whole idea of personal autonomy, well I don’t think most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. They have this idea that people should be left alone … [that] government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. … Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone.”
Does that sound like another freedom loving presidential candidate?
When we got organized as a country and we wrote a fairly radical Constitution with a radical Bill of Rights, giving a radical amount of individual freedom to Americans, it was assumed that the Americans who had that freedom would use it responsibly.... [However, now] there's a lot of irresponsibility. And so a lot of people say there's too much freedom. When personal freedom's being abused, you have to move to limit it.
Do you remember who said that? It was Bill Clinton. More from Santorum, from a 2003 interview with USA Today :
And that's sort of where we are in today's world, unfortunately. The idea is that the state doesn't have rights to limit individuals' wants and passions. I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire.
Gingrich is no better. He proposed a bill in congress 1996 that mandated the death penalty for people who deal in marijuana. Under this draconian proposed law a mandatory death penalty would have applied to anyone convicted more than once of importing two ounces or more of marijuana or other controlled substance across the U.S. border. About his own marijuana possession and smoking days, Gingrich explained:
“That was a sign we were alive and in graduate school in that era.” “See, when I smoked pot it was illegal, but not immoral.” “Now, it is illegal AND immoral. The law didn’t change, only the morality… That’s why you get to go to jail and I don’t,”
Here is Newt in 1993:
I am for people, individuals—exactly like automobile insurance—individuals having health insurance and being required to have health insurance. And I am prepared to vote for a voucher system which will give individuals, on a sliding scale, a government subsidy so we insure that everyone as individuals have health insurance.

And here is Newt in 2007:
Our federal government should take the lead on this vital issue, an effort that may require strong incentives to encourage enterprise and drive the formation of private-public economic partnerships.
Romney? You have got to be kidding.  He has stated that the theory of anthropogenic global warming is real. In 2005, as governor of Massachusetts, Romney imposed strict state limitations on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. In a memo issued by Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Kerry Hale, the Romney administration bragged that it was "the first and only state to set CO 2 emissions limits on power plants."

 In December, Romney told Fox News that he stands by the health care at gunpoint plan implemented while he was governor of Massachusetts. "The plan is not perfect, there are things that I'd change in it, but I'll stand by the things we've done," he said, defending the plan.

The right is no different from the left. The criticism of Ron Paul centers around his views on foreign policy. They can't believe that someone wants the USA to mind its own business. We NEED to intervene in everyone's lives. Their hatred of Ron Paul is only exceeded by their love of war, militarism, and the police state.
Explain to me how there is any difference between Democrats and Republicans.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Reliability... 1911s don't have it

Guns are tools. I buy guns because I like to shoot them. There isn't much room in my gun safe for safe queens. Every gun owner has a gun or three that they would say is not as reliable as they wish it could be. During the last presidential campaign, I was on a one gun a month buying spree. That is, I was buying a gun each month from October of 2007 until January of 2009.The gun of the month for October 2007 was a Colt Combat Commander and the gun for January 2008 was a Kimber Pro Carry II.

I had problems with both of them right out of the box. The Colt failed to feed 2 or 3 times per 100 rounds. The Pro Carry II failed to feed at about the same rate. I consulted people that I respect on the subject, and was given a lot of advice. They told me to break the pistol in for 500 rounds and that would fix it. It didn't. I was accused of "limp wristing" by people who hadn't even watched me shoot. I was told to change ammo, because some 1911s are finicky. I was told to lube them more, and have also been told to lube them less. Both guns were returned to the factory under warranty, and "repaired." The Kimber was worked over and had new springs, a new slide release, and other repairs. Both pistols continued to malfunction. The Pro Carry and the Colt became safe queens.

So this past weekend, I thought that it had been awhile since I had taken the Pro Carry for a spin, so I took it to the range. I brought 100 rounds with me, and I stopped after firing only 50 rounds because I had already had about 6 failures of the pistol to go into battery. I had the gunsmith there look at it, and he told me that the recoil spring was in need of replacement. It had been replaced at the factory only about 300 rounds before. I pointed that out, and he told me that Kimber 1911s needed new springs about every 500 rounds.

The funny thing is that both my Kimber Ultra Carry and my Kimber Eclipse Custom work well. I finally came to this conclusion: The Pro Carry and the Combat Commander were never going to be carry pieces for me. I just can't trust my life to a pistol that has a mean failure rate of 300 rounds or so. I also don't need a pistol that is finicky about ammo or about anything else. Above all, I want my tools to work when I need them. There are plenty of reliable firearms out there that function more reliably out of the box that can be had for less than $600. Why should I spend a kilobuck or more for an unreliable safe queen?

Before any 1911 fanboys out there tell me that there are 1911s that are perfectly reliable, I know that. I own two of the reliable ones. I also own two that aren't. I know that there are M&Ps, Glocks, and Sigs that are not reliable. Overall though, a 1911 owner needs to spend hundreds or thousands more on average to get a firearm that is consistently reliable than does the owner of a modern pistol. JMB was a genius. His influence is seen in many firearms today, but the 1911 is an imperfect design, because many of the machine processes and materials available today were not in existence when JMB designed the 1911.

So, I traded that Pro Carry in for a Smith and Wesson M&P .40. I  really like the idea of the M&P .40 being convertible to .357 Sig and 9mm with a barrel change (and magazine for 9mm). It's like having three guns in one. Reliability is unknown to me at this time, but I will be testing that this coming weekend.

I am also considering trading the Combat Commander for something else. I don't yet know what, but I will shop around. Maybe an M&P compact, or a.45. I don't have a .45 that isn't a 1911. (I ave my Sig 220 to my son for his 21st birthday.)

All I know is that this has been a bad month so far for my firearms. I rusted a Sig and broke a Kimber. Makes me wonder what is next.


This is a band that I have liked for awhile, and I just thought that I would share this video. The band is Virgil, and the name of the song is Amnesia. Enjoy.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Research project

When I began writing this blog, I intended this to began as an EMS and gun related blog, and it has sort of turned into my soapbox. I have since retired and left the EMS field and continued on to a more advanced program, so I guess we can sort of go back this blog's roots and talk for a minute about medicine.

For my Master's degree research project, I have decided to use myself as a case subject for a study relating prediabetic individuals to weight loss. The connection between obesity and diabetes has been well documented, and my intention is to take that research to the next logical step and research the effects of dieting and weight loss on various factors in blood chemistry. My faculty adviser has approved the project, and I am now in the data collection phase of that study.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


As a paramedic who worked in a 911 based EMS system for 22 years, I know about delay. The number of times when I was dispatched to an emergency after a lengthy delay were numerous, I would say that a delay of 5 minutes or more was frequent, and happened at least once out of every twenty calls. The worst such case was an auto accident where a police officer requested our response. We were not dispatched to the incident for 45 minutes. The dispatcher said that she had opened the dispatch window on her computer, and then got busy with another task, and forgot to ensure that we had actually been dispatched.

So it doesn't surprise me that there was an 8 minute delay between the 911 calls and the dispatch of emergency workers in this case. Then, it took police officers an additional 6 minutes to arrive. From the call to the arrival of the first responder was 14 minutes. Let's say, for our purposes here, that this was where you and your family were enjoying some activity, and you were being faced with an attacker trying to kill you. He is armed with a machete, or a gun, or is setting your home on fire with a can of gasoline and a match. How much pain and destruction can he accomplish in 14 minutes?

The sheriff says that if they had properly recognized the danger, they could have shaved 10 minutes off that time. Even so, a lot can happen in four minutes.

THAT is why I own firearms. That is why I own fire extinguishers and wear my seat belt. You are responsible for your own safety. That 14 minutes can last the rest of your life.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I find it ironic that Mike Church, a talk show host on Sirius/XM radio (a paid subscription radio service) this morning on his show, states that companies that don't make any tangible thing (like Facebook, Sports, and other entertainment) are a waste of money. He then says that society can't afford to have them, as we will run out of money as a society as we waste it on entertainment.
I don't know if he has thought this through. After all, he doesn't do anything, either. He is a political commentator. That means that he doesn't make anything, all he does is comment on politics, which is another group of people who don't produce anything.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Saturday, February 4, 2012

How I did it

In my last post, I talked about how I lost 70 pounds in just 5 months. It was pretty simple in concept. I went on the theory that type 2 diabetics (which I was becoming) are insulin resistant. This means that a low fat diet is not a good idea, because carbs are difficult for insulin resistant people to process in a healthy way, and tax a system that is already in disorder.

The problem:

The signs that diabetes was coming were there: over 40 years old, 50 inch waist, BMI of 42, high LDL (bad) cholesterol, low HDL (good) cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, high blood pressure, and the sudden appearance (within the past year) of skin tags around the neck and shoulders. (Skin tags are sometimes a sign of insulin resistance.) This was confirmed by an A1C of 6.6. A reading of 6.6 is a little high, and is technically on the low end of being diabetic.
If I wanted to not be a diabetic, I needed to lose weight and keep it off, and then I must learn to control my diet in a healthy and maintainable way. I decided that I needed to lose at least 100 pounds.

The solution, phase one:

I immediately gave up all starches and sugars, and the only carbs I am eating are vegetable fiber. So, I eat vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber (and pickles), olives, string beans, and other low carb vegetables. I stay away from nuts, peas, carrots, corn, potatoes, rice, wheat and grains of all kinds, all oils except olive oil, and no fruit.
I limit my eating of tomatoes, onions, and dairy products. I can eat meats, except I stay away from organ meats in order to avoid gout.
I can eat one dessert each day that uses alcohol sugars, and one Adkins bar in place of lunch. You also have to learn to only eat when you are hungry, not when you have an appetite. There is a difference.
I eat less than 30 carbs a day, most days less than 20.When counting carbs, do not count dietary fiber or alcohol sugars like splenda, because they do not affect insulin resistance and do not cause spikes in blood sugar. No alcoholic beverages.

A typical day for me goes like this:

6 a.m. Breakfast: Two sausage patties, two scrambled eggs with a tablespoon of salsa or chopped onion for flavor, and a large cup of coffee with two Splenda. Total carb count: 4
noon: An Adkins bar to hold off hunger pains. 3 carbs. Sometimes, I will instead have a salad of spinach, arugula, a small slice of onion, olives, cucumber slice, low carb ranch dressing. 4 carbs.
6 p.m. Dinner NY strip with steamed broccoli and cheese. Total carbs: 4
9 p.m. Snack: Jello no sugar added pudding cup. (They are sweetened with alcohol sugar. Banana fudge is my favorite.) 4 carbs
I drink 2-3 liters of water per day. Other than that one cup of coffee in the morning, that is all I drink.
Total carbs for the day: 15.

The results:
They kind of speak for themselves. I have lost 70 pounds since September, my waist is now 10 inches smaller, and my A1C is now normal. My BMI is now 34.

My ultimate goal is to weigh about 180 pounds, which I hope to see this summer.

In defending myself:
 I am trying to avoid the fate of this guy, so: I am not a dietician. I am in school to be a licensed practitioner, but I am as of yet simply a paramedic. Although based in scientific fact, this site contains my opinions, and should not be taken as being medical advice. Nothing on this site is intended to be medical advice, and does not imply a provider-patient relationship. I am not your doctor. Do your own due diligence, and consult a professional if you have any health or diet related questions. This site is intended to chronicle my own success, and is not intended to assist you in diagnosing, treating, or managing any disorder or disease. The reader assumes all risk if attempting anything mentioned on this page.
Sucks that I have to put all of that, but that is our world now.

Weight and health

I had my annual physical exam done back in September. When the blood work came back, it showed an A1C of 6.6. Anyone with an A1C of more than 6.5 is a diabetic, and the doctor said that they would have to confirm it with a second test before officially diagnosing me with that disease. She said that the early diagnosis of diabetes can sometimes be reversed if the patient were to lose 10-15% of their body weight.

That test result changed my life. I weighed a little over 300 pounds that day, 5 months ago. I changed my eating habits, and now I weigh 235 pounds, and I am still losing. I have lost 22% of my body weight, and I continue to lose about three pounds a week.

Last week, I got the results of my second A1C test back: it was a 5.8. I am hoping to be under 200 pounds by May. A 100 pound weight loss in 8 months. Incredible.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Gut punch

So I retired from my jobs as a paramedic in November so that I could move several states away for the next two years, so I could return to school for my graduate degree. I packed up some of my favorite handguns and moved 1,200 miles. I now own a house in Florida, and rent an apartment a few miles from the school. I am a dual resident of two states, and maintain a house in both of them. I guess I am technically a snowbird.

One of the problems that this caused relates to the way that I packed my handguns. I guns into four padded Pelican cases. There were four 1911s, a pair of Sig 229s in Stainless, and a Beretta Tomcat in one case, and a Sig Mosquito and 3 Glocks in a second, an AR-15 in the third, and a Springfield M1A in the fourth. The problem is that the Pelican case is air tight, and I packed them in hot, humid Florida, and transported those cases to the cool, dry north.

Three weeks later, after finally getting settled in, I opened the locked cases, and it felt like I had been punched in the gut. The humid air trapped in the Pelican cases had condensed, and began corroding some of the guns. In the end, only two were damaged: The AR has some surface rust on the barrel which cleaned off with some work. The sad part was one of the 229s (the .357Sig) was rusted so badly that the takedown lever, mag release, and slide stop were all rusted in place. Apparently, the 229 Stainless doesn't use as much stainless as I thought.

I took it to the gunsmith, and the guy behind the counter told me that my gun couldn't possibly be stainless steel, because you can't blue stainless. I tried to explain Nitron finishes to him, but he looked at me like I was stupid and told me that there is no way to blue stainless. I then asked him why it says "stainless" right on the slide, and then told him to hand me my gun back, because he is obviously not the guy I want working on my guns. It turns out he is only a helper, and the real gunsmith actually knows what he is doing. The total repair estimate on the Sig is about $400. Rebarreling the AR will be expensive, too.

Expensive lesson.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The gun question

As you know if you have been reading this blog, I am in school to earn my Masters Degree and become a Physician Assistant. We were recently in a class on how to conduct an exam, and were talking about the questions that we are required to ask a patient. One of the questions that they said we are required to ask is whether or not they own a gun, and whether or not that gun is kept in a secure location. Then we should use this as an opportunity to talk to them about the dangers of having a firearm in the home. I spoke up and said that I did not feel like that was a valid medical question, and the answer that I got was that this was about safety.

I then pointed out that we shouldn't stop there. After all, if this is about safety, why not ask them if they are gay, and of so, lecture them on the dangers of homosexual activity? Of course, the reaction I got was how inappropriate that was. I pointed out that more people die each year from AIDS than are murdered by firearms.

I then asked if I would be penalized in any way for refusing to participate in a politically charged topic like this. They relented, and I will not be penalized in any way for refusing to ask that question.