Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Lightning again

Last year on July 31, my house was hit by lightning and we lost a surveillance camera. This year, the house was struck again, just a day short of last year. I was working in the garage, when there was the sound of hail striking the walls. There was a bright flash, instantaneously accompanied by LOUD thunder.

The storm was fierce, with 1200 lightning strikes within ten miles of my house in less than an hour. It was accompanied by pea sized hail, and winds reached 40 miles an hour. shows that there were 8 cloud to ground strikes within 250 meters of my house.

The damage this year was the loss of my personal weather station, the video driver for the surveillance camera DVR, and a wireless HDMI transmitter. The DVR is working and you can view the cameras online through the streaming feed.

The weather station is still locally reporting some data (wind speed and barometric pressure) but isn't reporting on Wifi, nor is it reporting dew point or temperature. According to the factory tech support people, that means 2 of the three boards in it are no good, and replacements for those boards will cost more than a new sensor.

The HDMI transmitter broadcast the image from the DVR to the television in the bedroom

The only other issue was one of the cable TV boxes went out, but after a reset it came back. All of the electronics that broke were in the same room. All I had was electronic damage. My HAM radios are in that room, and they didn't even blow an arc plug, even though they were connected to the antennas. My neighbor was not so lucky, his roof looks like this:

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Life lesson

Kids plays Monopoly and cries because all of his money is lost to taxes. He says that taxes are the worst part of the game. Wait until he becomes an adult, and that horrible 10% Monopoly tax that you only have to pay if you land on that space becomes a 40% tax that you have to pay every year.

Facts are not a matter of opinion

It never fails. Whenever I get in a discussion about shootings or guns, the anti gunner presents uninformed opinion and emotion, and present actual facts. The discussion always ends with "We are going to have to agree to disagree."

The most recent example was on a thread about how sad it was that parents were having to buy bullet resistant backpacks for their back to school shopping. It went like this:

antigun soccer mom: I have commented, deleted, commented, deleted. As a mom to a school employee, as a mother-in-law to a school employee, as a sister to a school employee, as a sis-in-law to a school employee, as an aunt to a teacher, as an aunt to students and soon as a grandmother to students, one school shooting is one school shooting too many. 8, 10, 20...1 is too many no matter where the stupid guns come from. Whether they are bought, stolen or stolen from an unlocked car, it’s still incredibly sad, terrifying and down right wrong that parents have to consider bullet proof backpacks. It's time for guns to go.

Me: You are correct that one death is too many. However, the times we live in are actually safer than they ever have been before. The news makes money on selling fear. I am a teacher, and a retired firemedic. I will tell you that your child's odds of being killed in an auto accident on the way to school or after being struck by lightning are exponentially higher than their odds of being killed in a school shooting.

Unintentional injuries—such as those caused by burns, drowning, falls, poisoning and road traffic—are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among children in the United States. Each year, among those 0 to 19 years of age, more than 12,000 people die from unintentional injuries. For children 5 to 19 years of age, the most injury deaths were due to being an occupant in a motor vehicle traffic crash.
The proportion of teens dying from firearms decreased substantially, from 27.8 per 100,000 in 1994 to 9.13.8 per 100,000 in 2017. Even among deaths by firearm, suicide was the twice as likely to be cause of death than homicide, with suicide rates for 15- to 19-year-olds reached an all-time high of 11.8 per 100,000 in 2017. School shootings are an even smaller subset, with only 12 students per year on average being killed in the past decade, meaning that school shootings are statistically invisible when compared to suicide and auto accidents.

anti gun soccer mom: and we are going to agree to disagree.

I am going to repeat a bit of a post I did on that subject:

I won't “agree to disagree” in this conversation or in others, because “agree to disagree” is an incredibly lazy tactic. It ranks up there with “everyone is entitled to their own opinion” among the pantheon of dishonest and self-defeating statements made in lieu of actual argument. I cannot heap enough contempt on the idea of “agreeing to disagree.”

The argument could be useful, I suppose, if it meant no more than what it says – mutual recognition of a disagreement. Some arguments are intractable – issues of personal taste or the subjective importance of certain values cannot be resolved empirically. In an argument like that, once both sides have expressed themselves as clearly as possible, if there is still no agreement then there is nothing left to do but acknowledge there is a disagreement, and leave it at that.

That is not, however, the sense in which I most often hear the phrase “agree to disagree” used. What is usually meant is “we’re both equally right, both equally wrong.” Two positions, one demonstrably true and the other based on nothing more than feelings, do not share the same level of validity.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Not sexy, but important

My recent post about my new HAM radio just isn't getting the hits that other posts get. I get that communications just doesn't seem as fun as shooting guns, nor even as interesting as food storage. Communications is science-y, geeky, and seen as not needed in the age of Internet and smart phones.

My experience has been a bit different. When I deployed to Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, communications was the single biggest problem we faced. At one point, we were reduced to using runners to carry information to and from headquarters. When I returned from that deployment, I took my technician test and got my first HAM radio.

There is also the issue of COMSEC. We know that the NSA monitors Internet and telephone communications. The conspirators involved with the attempted coup through the FISA court knew this, and coordinated their illegal efforts through the use of short range FM HAM radios. You should read that link, it's pretty enlightening. Of course I blogged about the HAM radio use by Fusion GPS in the past.

VHF and UHF communications in the 2 meter and 70 cm bands are important, because they are short range and difficult for others to monitor beyond 15 miles or so, unless you are on a repeater.

With that in mind, I am pretty set on communications. For short range, I have a few cheap handheld radios in the 2 meter and 70cm bands that I can loan to others, which is easy to afford at less than $30 each. I also have a more expensive handheld, as well as my vehicle set.

I have a longer range HF set that is capable of communicating from the 40 meter band on up. With a better antenna, the radio is capable of 160 meter band on up, but I don't have enough room for an antenna that would work that.

My vehicle install looks good. The radio itself is behind the back seat, the control head on the overhead console, and the antenna on the rear of the truck. I can reach the local repeater from up to 40 miles away. The digital modes let me send pictures, voice, or digital data from my house or vehicle.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Not former

The headline reads "Former FHP trooper arrested after having sex with 15 year old, officials say"

If you read the article, he was not terminated until AFTER the relationship had been ongoing for almost a year. To the press: Do your job.

Friday, July 26, 2019

New Radio

I recently went fishing in northern Maine. We were just a few miles away from the Canadian border on I-95 when we saw an SUV slide off the road and into a swampy area. As I went to check on the occupants, my wife attempted to use her car phone to contact 911. No signal.

Fortunately, we had backup communications available. We used a 2 meter band HAM radio to contact help. Once we got home, I reviewed our communications equipment. I noticed that several of the repeaters in my area have transitioned to digital only, so I made the decision to upgrade my mobile radio.

After some thought, I got a new Yaesu FTM-400 XDR. The manufacturer has a promotion available until the end of the month, where you get $100 off the radio, if purchased from an approved retailer. I bought mine from Ham City for $410, plus shipping.

Installation was easy. One of the things I like about this radio is that the control head can be separated from the radio, which allows the radio to be mounted behind the back seat of my F150. The control head is pretty small and easy to place.

With this new radio, I now have digital radio capabilities. I received no compensation of any kind as a result of this review. I just like Yaesu radios and HamCity had the best price on this radio.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Court failure

So that burglar from last summer that was caught on my security cameras? He pled guilty to something, but the last I saw was a motion from his attorney to make the court record confidential. Now there is no visible record of what he pled to, or what his punishment was.

We have broad public records laws here in Florida so citizens are aware of what their government is doing. Apparently our courts don't want us knowing that someone can be caught breaking into 4 and attempting to break into 6 more automobiles, stealing a firearm, stealing a car, and setting the community mail boxes on fire and not get any punishment, so they seal the records.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The acts of one madman

The Pulse nightclub shooting has been getting mentioned a lot during the gun control debate that has been reintroduced into American politics as of late. I want to revisit a post I had thought about publishing at the time, because I want to illustrate the hypocrisy that is evident here.

Less than 2 months prior to the shooting, there was a Muslim cleric from Iran who gave a speech at Sanford's Husseini Islamic Center. This cleric was reported by WFTV's channel 9 news as saying that homosexuality's only cure is death. Look at the video of the report:

After the shooting, this became news and the Islamic center's staff went to the press and vehemently denied the allegations that they had anything to do with the shooting or the shooter himself.

The connection between the speaker, the Islamic faith, the Husseini Islamic center, and the shooting were promptly sent to the memory hole. After all, we can't blame an entire religion for the acts of one deranged madman, can we? The speaker for the Islamic center was taken at his word.

Yet, the religious connection to this shooting having been forgotten has no bearing on how gun owners are being vilified and derided based on the actions of one person. In the furtherance of gun control, it appears that you CAN blame a large group of people for the acts of one person.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Math nerd

Here is a funny math meme:
What is 230-220 x 0.5?

You won't believe this, but the answer is 5!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

4 legged money generator

'It's easy! All I gotta do is walk my dog around, and look for him to change his behavior slightly, and then we can go inside and sometimes we'll find a million dollars and then we can seize it!'

Read the whole thing

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Rehabilitation complete

A man was released from jail after serving 25 years for homicide and robbery. Six days later, he went on a rampage, during which he stabbed two family members and then confronted arriving deputies with a shotgun. The deputies successfully rehabilitated him.

Again, proof that shooting criminals greatly reduces the recidivism rate.

Gun control fails again

A 17 year old is shot and killed in Florida. His death will certainly be used to further the aims of gun control groups. He was killed by a 16 year old while conducting a drug deal.

To recap:
- it is illegal to commit murder
- it is illegal for 16 year olds to possess guns
- it is illegal for anyone to possess guns while dealing drugs
- it is illegal to possess drugs
- it is illegal to sell drugs

but making it illegal for people who are adults, don't buy and sell drugs, and don't commit murder is the answer.

Friday, July 12, 2019

AR 15 for defense

We keep hearing how AR 15s are only good for killing large groups of people in a short time, and are no good for self defense, but what if your home is being attacked by four armed criminals? A 61 year old homeowner discovered the answer when he was attacked by four armed home invaders.

In this case, a man who lives in Summerfield, Florida saw a man that he recognized from a recent Craiglist sale attempting to enter his house and told him to leave. An hour later, the man returned with three accomplices. The four were armed with a handgun, two shotguns, and a BB gun.

The homeowner was awakened by the sound of his front door being kicked in, and grabbed an AR 15 to investigate. When he entered the dining area, he was confronted with a man wearing a "Jason" mask and wielding a handgun. The homeowner doesn't remember who fired first, but a gunfight ensued. When that firefight was over, the thug in the dining room was found dead with a handgun next to his body, a second man was found wounded in the front yard, lying next to a shotgun, and the 61 year old homeowner was found lying in his bedroom with a gunshot wound to his abdomen.

Police searched the area and found a second shotgun in the yard, along with a VW sedan with its front doors left open (apparently belonging to the dead guy in the dining room), and two more miscreants hiding in the bushes.

This also shows that, even if you are shot, keep putting lead downrange. You aren't out of the fight until you can't return fire.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

War on drugs

A Florida sheriff's deputy was recently caught planting drugs on drivers during traffic stops. He had apparently been doing it for years, and more than 100 people were charged based upon the drugs he 'found' in their cars. The pattern was the same- pull the car over on some pretext, claim that he could smell marijuana, and then meth would be found. Mysteriously, his camera would not be turned on until AFTER the drugs were found. In one case, he did leave the camera on, and it caught the drugs in his hand right before he planted them:

This deputy made over 300 drug arrests as a result of traffic stops. More than 120 of them had to have their charges dropped. The state attorney claims that there is no evidence that there were more than 100 victims. Here is what he had to say:
 there’s no indication Wester planted drugs or fabricated arrests in all of those cases.
and there is no indication that he didn't plant evidence and fabricate arrests. However, since he has done so in multiple cases shows that it is reasonable to assume that he did plant evidence in at least some of those cases. This means that each and every one of the 300 people he arrested now have reasonable doubt, and in my opinion, should be set free.

You can read the arrest warrant here.

This is far from the first time that cops have been caught framing people or planting evidence. That's why I don't think cops should get the automatic credibility that they get. In fact, I think it is time for a law that:

~ Requires all police to wear cameras at all times while on duty.
~ I get that the cops have a right to turn them off for personal reasons, such as restroom breaks. So accordingly:
- If anything occurs while the camera is off, such as an arrest or accusation of improper behavior of the officer, the police will be required to produce the video. If the video is unavailable, then the cop's testimony is inadmissible.
- The smell of marijuana is no longer permitted as a pretext for a search.

This is what the war on drugs has brought us.

Profligate spending continues

As a nation, we passed $22 trillion in debt back in February. Since Trump took office, we have borrowed $2.2 trillion. We are currently borrowing a trillion dollars every 11 months, and that doesn't count the monetization of another half trillion or so per year, thanks to the Federal Reserve Bank.

Just 20 years ago, we "only" owed $5.6 trillion. We have nearly quadrupled the debt in 20 years. The debt is now doubling about once every 117 months. and has been since the 1970s.

When President Obama left office, the government debt stood at $19.57 Trillion. In all, Obama's share of our national debt is about $8 Trillion, or an increase of 185%, a increase that is nearly identical to his predecessor. His share of the debt would have been higher, but interest rates were at or near zero for most of his tenure.

President George W Bush borrowed his first trillion dollars in two and a half years. He borrowed his second trillion a year and a half later. Another two years, another $1 trillion. All told, President Bush borrowed $5 trillion in 8 years, increasing the national debt by 187%.

It took President Clinton 3 and a half years to borrow his first trillion dollars. All told, he borrowed $1.2 trillion in his first term, and $600 billion in his second. He increased the national debt by 140% in eight years.

George HW Bush borrowed his first trillion in 3 years, and he increased the National debt by 170% in four years.

Reagan borrowed his first trillion in 6 years, and doubled the National debt during his eight years in the White House.

Carter increased the National debt by 150%, but "only" borrowed $300 billion in 4 years. I guess that was when $1 Billion was real money.

Ford increased the debt by 147% in 3 years., Nixon by 135% in 5 years, Johnson by 116% in 6 years, Kennedy by 106% in 2 years, Eisenhower by 108% in eight years.

Democrats, and Republicans, both in a contest to see who can spend the most in our society of "how much can you give me if I vote for you."

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Florida possibly flips the nation blue

I recently came across a post about the direction of US politics shifting towards socialism, and how this is the most likely TEOTWAWKI event. It got me to thinking about Florida and its 29 electoral votes. These votes are important, because Trump would only have had 275 electoral votes without Florida. With 270 votes needed to secure the Presidency, that is a very slim margin indeed.

What concerns me so much about Florida is its changing demographics. In the 2018 election, the margin between the Republican and Democrat gubernatorial candidates was less than 33,000 votes. Although voter registration records show that those in Florida who are registered as Democrats has fallen slightly in the past year while Republican voter rolls have increased slightly, Republicans are still outnumbered in the state by almost a quarter of a million voters.

There is a proposed ballot initiative to add an assault weapons ban to the state constitution. This initiative includes a provision that would make me a prohibited person, because I have been accused (not charged or convicted) of domestic violence. If 60% of the voters go for it, my wife and I are making plans to move from the state before any such ban takes effect.

Florida flipping into blue territory would place the White House in jeopardy. The silver lining here is that neither of Florida's Senators are up for reelection this term, as losing the White House and the Senate would be a disaster for individual rights and a boon for the attempted Socialist/Communist coup.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Constitutional cluelessness

Florida has a means of amending its Constitution through ballot initiatives. A special interest group hires some people to collect signatures in favor of a new amendment, and once enough people have signed, it is placed on the ballot. Should 60 percent of the voters on election day favor that amendment, it becomes part of the constitution.

This process was famously used to outlaw keeping pregnant pigs in pens, even though it later turned out that the small pens were needed to keep pregnant sows from trampling their young. The law only affected two farmers, who sued the state and at least one was awarded half a million dollars in damages.

Thanks to tricky wording, many voters in 2016 thought they were voting to approve casino gambling in Florida when they voted for an amendment backed by Disney and the Indian tribes, but instead voted to guarantee that we would never see casino gambling outside of an indian reservation in this state, because any casino to be opened will now require approval of voters in a statewide referendum.

With that in mind, know that there is a proposed Constitutional Amendment that would do a few disastrous things to gun rights in Florida. Here is the wording:
The people of Florida declare that a well-regulated militia is necessary for the security of the State and further designate the National Guard of the State of Florida and organized police forces as its militia. The Militia, while on active duty, while training or in their training facilities shall possess all types of weaponry and arms required to defend the State. The weapons shall include, but not limited to fully automatic weapons, assault weapons, large magazine weapons holding more than seven rounds of ammunition and magazines with capacity over seven rounds. No other person entering or residing in the State shall possess any weapon or firearm that functions like or has the capacity of a military style weapon. Military style weapon means any gun with a magazine capacity of more than seven rounds of ammunition or any weapon capable of firing in fully automatic mode, any weapon capable of being modified in any manner to fire in a fully automatic mode or any weapon classified as a sniper rifle.
Any person other than the well-regulated militia who possesses such a gun or weapon, shall within one year of the enactment of this section surrender that gun or weapon to the local police or militia at which time that gun or weapon shall be destroyed. Possessing such a gun or weapon thereafter shall be a felony with punishment by up to one year in prison.
Further, to protect the population of the state no person shall possess a firearm of any kind if: 1) they have been convicted of a felony; 2) convicted of three or more misdemeanors; 3) had their drivers license suspended or revoked for driving under the influence, careless or reckless driving, or excessive speeding; 4) has been the subject of two or more domestic abuse emergency calls or investigations; 5) they are a person whose mental condition has been affirmed as temporarily or permanently psychologically disturbed by a person with a medical degree; 6) or if they are a person who has made any substantiated threat of violence against another person.
The provisions of this section are self-implementing and are immediately in effect upon adoption.

There are a few things here that are truly disturbing:
 First, there is "has been the subject of two or more domestic abuse emergency calls or investigations" this would make me a prohibited person, because I was twice falsely accused by the same woman of domestic violence and we proved in court that I was nowhere near her on the dates in question, and the accusations were thus shown in court to be completely fabricated, it doesn't matter, because it says "investigated."

What about "suspended or revoked for driving under the influence, careless or reckless driving, or excessive speeding." In Florida, your driver's license can be suspended or revoked under a points system. Any at fault accident is 4 points. Speeding tickets are 4 points. If you have ever gotten three traffic tickets in 12 months your license was suspended for 30 days, and you lose your guns forever.

Even worse, "a person whose mental condition has been affirmed as temporarily or permanently psychologically disturbed by a person with a medical degree." Note that it doesn't say a doctor or a mental health doctor, nor does it say a doctorate or even masters degree. It says a person with a medical degree. Some nobody with an associate's degree in nursing can now remove your right to own a gun. Any person who has ever been subject to the "Baker Act" will become a prohibited person.

This doesn't even go into the definitions in the AWB section of the proposal. It proposes to ban firearms with a magazine capable of holding more than 7 rounds. This would make every firearm in my safe illegal, with the exception of a couple of 5 shot revolvers. Even my pump action 870 Wingmaster will hold 7+1 of the 2 inch shells. All semi-automatics are capable of being converted to full auto.

In short, if this passes, I have a year to get my firearms out of the state of Florida before I, and my firearms, become prohibited.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Family Tragedy

Your sibling is the first friend that you have in your life. My younger brother and I spent our childhoods growing up in Central Florida during the 1970s and 80s. There were times where we got along, and times when we didn't. My family has had its share of ups and downs. In the late 90s, my brother's infant son died. In 2004, our Father died and my brother and I were two of the pallbearers.

Last week, my brother went to the emergency room complaining that he was fatigued all of the time. They did some tests and found out that he was anemic. They began looking for the cause and saw that his lymph nodes were swollen. More tests, and the diagnosis came: cancer.  Not just any cancer, but a form of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma called Mantle Cell Lymphoma. This particular form of cancer is fast growing, incurable, and deadly. It is rare and aggressive. His life expectancy is likely less than three years.