Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ruined For Life?

Old news from the 2012 deer gun sight-in...

I volunteered for 400% the required annual dose of coaching at the Dakota County Gun Club's annual public deer gun sight-in.  Eight hours is all the service hours club members need to provide each year, but I enjoy the work so I support as many of these weekend sessions as I can.

  • 12 gauge is still the favorite diameter for those condemned to hunt in a shotgun zone.
  • 30-06 remains the most popular rifle cartridge, even though no whitetail on the planet calls for that much juice.
  • Remington self-loading rifles of the 74xx series are neither reliable nor especially accurate; cheap scopes, soft mounts, mediocre care, and crappy ammo don't improve upon its attributes.
  • Cheap scopes fail.
  • Soft mounts loosen.
  • Rifles filled with gummed up oil or swathes of rust do not always cycle.
  • Sometimes ammunition covered in verdigris goes bang, whether it should or not.
  • The owners of rifles with tiny sight adjustment screws never carry the correct tiny screwdriver for the tiny sight adjustment screws.
  • Knives make crappy screwdrivers, and ugly knives after their tips snap off.

There were a few positive developments:

  • Smart hunters still bring new scopes, new guns, and new shooters to the 25 yard line to start their time at the range.
  • The quality of scopes is getting better - Redfields and Nikons were seen in abundance.
  • Remington Managed Recoil ammunition is a really good idea, especially for 12 gauge slug guns.
  • We saw several shooters in the parking lot putting on PAST Recoil Shields  before stepping to the line.
  • The nasty Remington self-loading rifles of the 74xx series are not being replaced by Remington's new 750.
  • The entry-level bolt-action package guns from Savage, Marlin, Mossberg, and Remington give good value for new shooters and the box or two a year man.
  • Teenagers with 20 gauge slug guns fitted with recoil pads shoot much better than their dads who insist on gutting it out behind their hard-butted 6 pound 12 bores.
  • Hunters with 243s shoot better than those with 30-30 or 30-06 rifles.
  • Now that 223/5.56x45mm is legal for deer in Minnesota shooters with M4-geries (and a few bolt-guns) shoot rings around even the 243 users.  The 223 is no sledge hammer, but with the right bullet it's a better choice than using a rifle one is afraid of.

There was one sad case that we hope is not permanent.  I recognized a repeat customer, a fellow who had his two teenage sons shoot full power 12 gauge slugs from his 870 slug gun last year.  Having learned his lesson he purchased Remington Managed Recoil slugs - one ounce @ 1200 instead of 1600 fps - which kick only about half as much as the full-snort grizzly blasters.  He shot much, much better.  His boys, who suffered bravely trying to make Dad happy last year, declined the chance to shoot at all this year.  Remember, we can ruin a new shooter for life with just a couple shots from a 12 bore slug gun.  Do not perpetrate this testosterone-driven offense upon anyone you care about; our sport needs all the new hunters we can find.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Omar From Los Angeles Asks...

Are there any podcasts which help you develop your professional tool chest?

I love it when my LinkedIn peers ask questions that let me reassess my podcast listening habits.  As you may know, my tastes are eclectic. I subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes but you can go straight to the source too.  These look like a lot of ear bud time but I listen to most podcasts at 2x on my iPhone during my commute.  As for which of these add to my professional toolkit I have no precise answer... 

Great question, Omar. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fiction is Not the Same as Falsehood

Were the gospels "performed stories of faith rather than factual histories?"


Makes sense to me, especially after reading Scripting Jesus: The Gospels in Rewrite, by L. Michael White

White's detailed examination of the cultural, religious, and literary traditions that gave rise to Christian bible is similar to work done by the better known Bart Ehrman.  A full appreciation for the intricate details of his arguments call for a fine-grained knowledge of scripture I have not developed.  There are deep layers of Dr. White's analysis that are lost on me, but the notion that oral traditions evolved over time, that early authors rearranged and edited earlier texts to suit changing audiences, and that the movements' theologies became more sophisticated iteration after iteration, is communicated in a compelling manner.

Whether you are a believer or not, the early history of Christianity is fascinating stuff and L. Michael White illuminates a very interesting portion of the path.

The title of this post is taken from White's quote of David Kanstan (pg. 418)

Monday, October 8, 2012

780 Violent Deaths in the Workplace

Break down like so...

I've been working through the preliminary BLS 2011 CFOI for discussion with my peers and in preparation for a presentation at work this week.

This being the USA, most workplace homicides are committed by criminals with firearms.  Still, there are other horrible events described in the data:

  • Shooting - 358
  • Stabbing, cutting, slashing, piercing - 42
  • Hitting, kicking, beating, shoving - 26
  • Strangulation by other person - 4
  • Multiple violent acts by other person - 10

As always, suicide remains an under-appreciated category.  It comprises a third of all violent death in the workplace but attracts less attention and passion that the "workplace violence" perpetrated by Type II, III, and IV offenders combined (which happens at about half the rate as self-destruction).  We can take comfort that there were fewer on-the-job suicides in 2011 (242) than in 2010 (270), but how many of these tragedies were preventable?

  • Shooting - 108
  • Hanging, strangulation, asphyxiation - 85
  • Jumping from building or other structure - 18
  • Cutting, stabbing - 7
  • Drug overdose - 6
  • Inhalation of substance - 9

My profession's interest is usually in deliberate action by malefactors, but some violent workplace deaths are accidental or the result of less willful acts.  Injury by person, unintentional or intention unknown, is another new and sad category.  The idea that 17 employees killed their coworkers or themselves through negligent discharge of their firearms is a very serious training issue.  The numbers are incomplete, but within the total of 43 such deaths we know this much so far:

  • Shooting by other person - 10
  • Injured by physical contact with person while restraining, subduing - 3
  • Self-inflicted shooting - 7
  • Drug overdose - 14

Of the 37 employees who died in animal and insect related incidents (usually considered a safety issue) we have the following details:

  • Bites - 1
  • Stings and venomous bites - 12
  • Trampled by or stepped on by animal - 8
  • Kicked by animal - 4
  • Gored or rammed by animal - 5   

Again, these are preliminary numbers; the final totals always increase.  While the numbers continue to decline, mostly due to reductions in Type I criminal violence, there is still plenty of work for us to do.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Enough Showing Off

Now it's time to get some work done...

Just a few short hours from now on Sunday 7 October 2012 a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon cargo capsule will lift off on the first scheduled commercial resupply mission to the ISS.  A detailed press pack for CRS-1 is available, but the details are relatively straightforward, as they should be.  Commercial space flight ought to be safe, reliable, and mundane.  

It's still pretty cool though...

Go, Dragon! 

UPDATE: The Dragon CRS-1 capsule is on orbit after an uneventful launch...just like it's supposed to be.   Okay, it was pretty uneventful but one of its nine engines conked out during the ascent so it was carried into orbit by its eight remaining engines on a slightly different flight path calculated literally on the fly.

REUPDATE: The CRS-1 Dragon capsule arrived at the ISS and was captured by its robotic arm at 5:56 am Central time Wednesday 10 October 2012.  Easy peasy...

And Splashdown: CRS-1 Dragon landed in the Pacific without incident Sunday morning 28 October 2012.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

An Old Friend Has Had Some Work Done

The Uptown is back; blocked, buffed, and beautiful…

When Cassie and I went to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower last week we were excited to visit the recently remodeled Landmark Uptown.  When it comes to old school movie theaters the Uptown is an urban classic.  As with many classic venues, while it was long on character, it was also short on comfort.

Back in its art house days I spent many an evening huddled in the dark watching obscure movies from its cramped and creaky seats.  Even men got to experience the discomfort of standing in line waiting to use the tiny, out of the way, restrooms.  Yes, the Uptown was a classic, but like a Greek ruin it was worn out, ragged, and scruffy looking.  And that was in the 1980s…

The decades that followed were not kind to the Uptown.  In the 21st century we went there with our family and friends only when it was the sole Twin Cities theater where a movie in limited release could be seen.  The seats had degraded from cramped and creaky to damaged, if not dangerous.

Gratefully, Swervo Development Corporation, the new owner of the Uptown, decided to give it a long deferred facelift.  The six-month, $2million project was completed in September.  I’m pleased to report that MacDonald& Mack Architects preserved and refreshed the art deco styling of the 1939 structure while lavishly enhancing the creature comforts.  The remodeled Uptown features:

  • An even larger screen  
  • 4K digital projection
  • Seriously posh leather seats
  • Reserved seating
  • Sofas for two in the balcony
  • A second floor lounge featuring adult beverages
  • The latest in gourmet concessions

All these luxurious appointments come at a price. Landmark has increased the ticket price from $9.00 to $10.00.  That's the same fee charged by many soulless multi-megaplex theaters, none of which provide a movie-going experience anything like that offered at the new Uptown.

I Remember It Being That Bad

But was it ever that good?

Daughter Cassandra picked the movie this week and she knocked it out of the park!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower joins the ranks of young adult coming of age stories that reminds us how joyous - and how horrible - it was to be a teenager.  It compares quite favorably with (listed alphabetically so as not show any favoritism):

The movie was directed by Stephen Chbosky, who adapted the screenplay from his 1999 best-selling novel of the same name. Gentle, funny, awkward, and sad, it creates a palpable sense of longing for love, recognition, and inclusion.  Perks was set in the 1990s but contains samples of all the indescribable pain and wondrous joy I remember from my teenage years many decades earlier.

Emma Watson, who grew up playing Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series, confirms that she is a skilled actor.  She wouldn’t have to be, but she is.  I haven’t seen her costars before, but Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller likewise did an impressive job with some difficult material.

Kids have forever wanted to escape their teenage years to finally become adults.

As adults we yearn our whole lives for what we left behind.