Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What is a "Good Guy with a Gun"?

I think many people misunderstand the NRA stance of "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun."

I submit that most people take that to mean the "good guy" is an armed citizen.

In reality, I am sure "good guy" could be an armed citizen or could be law enforcement or armed security.

Those who are opposed to private carrying of firearms, are all for the police and probably armed guards having firearms. They often espouse "just call 911!" And what is it you are hoping will happen when you call 911? Are you hoping an ambulance shows up? Or maybe the fire department? Maybe the dog warden? No. You want the police to show up, with their guns, to end a bad situation.

So those who are opposed to armed citizens are not against guns, per se, as they want the cops to show up, armed, and handle the situation. They are against a responsible citizen being armed and able to defend himself or herself and possibly end a bad situation.

It is state-ism, pure and simple. I carry a firearm. I am VERY aware of the responsibility that comes along with that. I am hopeful that I will NEVER have to use my firearm in defense of myself or others. If I am ever in a bad situation, I would LOVE it if the police were close enough to end the event, without my participation. All that being said, I still carry, because you never know when something bad is going to happen, how far away the police will be, and what you may be called upon to do.

The police are "good guys" with guns.

I will never use my firearms in an irresponsible manner. I will never use my firearms to commit a crime. I hope to never use my firearms to defend myself or others, but if the situation calls for it, I am ready to do so.

I am a "good guy" with a gun.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Gun Control, Background Checks and Compromise

I am a proud gun owner.  I am also law abiding.  I am also a reasonable person.

With all the hubbub around the latest round of "Executive Actions" and gun control lately, there is the usual hue and cry of "no one is coming for your guns", "we just want reasonable gun control", "XX% (insert made up statistic here) of (Americans, Gun owners, Moms) are in favor of universal background checks.

Of course, there is the other side where the standard responses are "Registration leads to confiscation", "Molon Labe", "III%", "good guys don't commit gun crimes", etc.

I am in agreement that gun laws only impact the law abiding.

I do not like the idea of universal background checks, but I do understand the need to weed out those who shouldn't own guns.

The anti crowd are always saying "why won't pro 2A people compromise?".  Basically, pro 2A people have been compromising, i.e. giving up more and more of our rights, since 1934.  Asking me for $10, and then expecting me to compromise by giving you $5, is, in the end, still a grab from me.

I have, what I think is indeed, a reasonable compromise from both sides.  It requires both Pro and Anti 2A people to give up some of their sacred cows, in order to each get some of what they desire.

My idea is universal background checks for all sales, utilizing NICS or relying on CCW as proof.  In order for this to work, CCW would have to be recognized across state lines and all states would have to be "shall issue", or, alternately, the should be a federal CCW that is good in all 50 states.

A little more detail:

All gun sales must go through a background check.  There should be no fee for this check and their should be a tax credit of $XX for FFLs who run checks.  A tax credit is a dollar for dollar tax refund, not a deduction.  In my mind, given the speed and ease of NICs, the $ figure should be in the $10-15 range.  This gives the Anti crowd, one of their wishes.

However, if one has a CCW (and again, there would have to be a change to either a federal CCW, all states being mandated to be "shall issue" and/or national reciprocity), the background check would not be needed, and the CCW could be used as proof of a background check.  This gives the Pro 2A folks reciprocity and frees up some of the poor souls who live in states like NJ, where a CCW is a purple unicorn.

So Bob wants to buy a gun from Mary. 
  1. If Bob has a CCW, he can show that as proof, ,and the transaction can be completed.  
  2. If Bob does not have a CCW, Bob and Mary can go to an FFL, have a check run (which the FFL would get $ for in the form of a tax credit) and the sale can be completed.

So basically, Pro 2A folks would get national reciprocity, anti get their universal background checks, and this is an actual compromise, as both sides gain something and give up something.

Of course this is just an idea, and details are tricky.

Friday, August 7, 2015

2016 Elections

Just some comments, etc re: the 2016 election.

First, last night, Dr. Ben Carson referred to Saul Alinsky and his "useful idiots" idea, which is actually a quote from Lenin, although whether he said it or not is up for debate.

From Wikipedia, "useful idiot is a term for people perceived as propagandists for a cause whose goals they are not fully aware of, and who are used cynically by the leaders of the cause"

Regardless of the origins, the idea stands.

I encourage my friends, regardless of ideology, to think for themselves. Research any statistics, ideas or agendas put forth by anyone, from any political or "news" organization. Many times, the truth is far from what is put out there.

And PLEASE do not get your information from comedians. While I enjoy John Stewart, Bill Maher and John Oliver, they should not be the source of facts.

For those who think Fox News has an agenda, you are correct. But if you think MSNBC, CNN and other Main Stream Media do not, you are incorrect. Take the information fed to you by these news sources with a large grain of salt. Use it as a jumping off point for your own research on a topic, but do not take anything from any news source as gospel.

Donald Trump said something to the effect that the US has become too PC. I totally agree. I also think he is a blowhard, but that is neither here nor there.

I, for one, would love to have a Libertarian candidate to vote for. The fact that the major outlets, including Fox, are excluding viable Libertarian candidates, is reprehensible. The two party system in the US is a complete sham and shame.

As for my Republican friends, if you are sick and tired of Democrat control over our government, then you really need to look at who can win the general election. It is a never ending source of amusement for me to see candidates from both parties go to the extreme edges of their ideology during a primary, only to come to the center for the general election, only to go towards the extreme end of their ideology after winning.

If Republicans hope to win the general election, they need to nominate the candidate with the best chance of winning, not your favorite among the "choices" you have been presented with.

In my opinion, that is Marco Rubio. He is young, Hispanic, son of immigrants and worked his way through the American Dream to get where he is. He is also articulate and thoughtful.

Ben Carson is clearly the smartest, and most "normal guy" among the group, but he is too "god said this" to win in a general election. Although many people go to a house of worship, very few actually follow all the teachings of their chosen religion.

Jeb Bush seems to be the most qualified all around, but his last name will doom him.

To my Democrat friends, does it not bother you that Hillary is basically anointed as the D candidate? I know it would bother me if my party basically handed the candidacy to a person without any real opposition.

To all my friends, please do not vote based on race, sex, hair color or any other silly thing such as that.

Finally, recognize that any time a group is addressed in a demeaning manner "Clown Car", "Guntards", "Birthers", "Bible Thumpers", recognize that this is a tactic designed to dehumanize and discredit the group before thoughts are engaged.

It is a useful tactic, as it puts the target group on the defensive and diminishes their ideas, before a conversation is had. It is also a tool used by agenda driven people to advance their own, usually opposite, agenda.

As one example, many "news" organizations are referring the the number of Republican Candidates as a "clown car". That car has a billionaire business man, several senators, a Rhodes Scholar, a brain surgeon, CEO of a multi billion dollar organization and several governors. If you were invited to an event where these people were key note speakers, I am quite sure the event would not be referred to as a clown car.

 You may notice that I did not put any demeaning terms in this list that refer to Democrat or Liberal ideology. That is truthfully because I could not think of any terms, in common use, among news outlets, that fit the bill. I am open to suggestions.

 In conclusion, please think critically, take everything from all sources with a grain of salt, and vote with your mind and not with your heart in the coming elections.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

My first tractor

I have a lot of earth moving to do, and any tractor would have been a compromise, so instead, a neighbor, who owns a construction company, will be coming up to do the heavy lifting with one of his excavators. Not a mini ex, one of the big boys.

But beyond the big stuff, there is a lot of work to do on my property (15 moutain-ish acres, heavily wooded).

Pulling stumps, moving boulders, lots of leveling, smaller excavation, etc.

So I shopped smaller, and decided on a BX25D.

She was delivered Friday, when I was at work, which made for a long work day.

I already have a shopping list. Going to get spacers from Bro-tek and armor, ripper and thumb from BXpanded. Also going to pick up a lands pride grapple kit at some point.

I have never owned a tractor, but I have driven backhoes and such on occasion. I figured I needed practice, and before I start doing real work near the house, I decided to do some easy, no impact work away from the house.

My home site on a very steep hill. My driveway is about 1300 feet, and ends with in a circle, with my house at the bottom of the circle. Works fine for me and the GF, but any time there are visitors, parking has always been a challenge, as people get blocked in, etc.

So I decided to make some parking spaces. A section of my driveway, right above the circle and the house, goes cross slope. The driveway is level, but to the right is uphill and to the left is downhill.

For my first practice project, I dug up 2 parking spaces uphill and filled in three parking spaces downhill. It was a good learning experience and I am very impressed with the amount of work this little guy can do. I have extremely rocky soil. Lots of boulders and granite rock. Given that, I have plenty of rocks to make a boulder wall, which is what I did on the downhill side. I put a row of boulders at the end of the parking area, and filled in dirt behind to build up the spaces. I still need to get more boulders and more fill to get it completely done, but I am happy with what I accomplished so far.

Of course, as I was learning, I dug too deeply in spots and filled back in, didn't bring enough material, made errors dragging, blah, but it has been time well spent.

There were several boulders that Britney (That is the name of the BX. My GF named her) could not lift, but she was strong enough to push them, so I did that in several cases.

I also wanted to test the stability and ability to climb the hillside. I have 30+ degree slope for most of the property, and she handled fine up and down. I had to make a cross turn at one point, but thanks to the knowledge gained here, it was a non event, albeit slow and pucker factor inducing, plus it was on a 20 degree slope, not the 30.

I had a second task I had to perform that was unexpected. While taking out the trash, I discovered a 10' long branch laying across the driveway. Being curious as to where this came from I looked up, and saw a 50' dead tree, leaning against another, right overhead. Bad situation. But using Britney, I was able to bring the tree down with little fuss and then moved it off the road. Just a little beast of a machine.

I tried to attach photos, but was unsuccessful.

So far, I am very happy. Because of the condition of my soil the bucket and loader are already minus a good amount of paint, but this is a work machine, not a show piece, so I do not care.

Getting a grease gun today, to do the first lubing.

I burned about 8 gallons in 10 hours of run time.

Kept her at 2500 RPM for break in.

Friday, February 20, 2015

New Rider to Record holder in 3 years flat

Kate pulls off a record ride.  As many of you know, Kate pulled off the Ultimate Coast to Coast to Coast ride in July of 2014.

She rode from Key West, FL to Deadhorse Alaska (300 miles north of the arctic circle) and back, solo, in 24 days.

Bad ass doesn't cover it.

She has had some press and Rider Magazine did a nice article on her.

This is my tribute video to her bad assery.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2013 Hunter Mountain GS Challenge

So fresh off my adventures at the BMW GS Challenge, MAX BMW announced their GS challenge, to be held at Hunter Mountain, October 5-6, 2013.

If I may be so bold, THIS is what I expect a GS challenge to be.  All dirt, all day, and the course was on natural terrain with all that comes with it.

Some of the travel sections of the course could have been challenges themselves.

Unfortunately, it has been too long since the event for me to really remember all the details, but it was FUN.  There was mud, slalom courses, hills, trees, rocks, water crossing and single track.

Here I stand, before the event, just feeling all full of piss and vinegar and patriotism.

The most enjoyable part of the event was the part I did the worst at.  The Hill Climb.  How hard could it be?  I just watched person after person just ride right up the hill.  So here I go:

Notice the steely glare of concentrations and focus.  It give me shivers.

Notice how graceful I am in my carefully planned dismount.  One might look at this picture and say to oneself "That man just went ass over tea kettle."  and one would be correct.

Thankfully, It only took 3 or 4 of these to get to the top of the hill.  Also luckily, a friend video taped the entire adventure, which I have edited to include the appropriate music.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2013 BMW GS Challenge recap

OK, so I went.  The end.


You want more?

Oh, OK.

a Big HELLLLLOOOOOOO!!!!!! to all 2 of my fans out there!

Life has been hectic and crazy.  I have neglected my blog for a bit and it needs some updates, so as they say at JetLife Stadium, heeeeeeerrre we go!

GS Riding

Captain USA has been set up and ready to ride in the dirt.  I took the Max BMW offroad class a few months ago, and did not get a chance to do anything meaningful with the new skills, until The Trophy Challenge.

Every two years, BMW bring sin riders from countries spanning the globe, to compete on spec bikes in some far flung exotic location.  On alternate years, they establish teams for each country participating at tryouts.  This year, the tryouts were in Greer, SC at teh BMW facility.  I had to take part.

I went into the event knowing full well I would not make the final team.  I don't have the skills needed yet, but I also knew the event would (should) be fun.  I also knew that any of the challenges put before us would be "doable" on the bikes we were riding.  So I looked at this outing as a chance to get out there, in a controlled environment, and test my skills on the GS.

My preparation entailed adding larger footpegs to Captain USA.  I felt that was adequate.  Others, namely those who made the team, actually practiced their skills and worked hard at getting ready.  Fools.

Heading Down

So I get on the bike and I ride like the wind, or more accurately, like a snail.  I was going along at a car's pace.  Keeping up with traffic, just doing my thing.  I figured that with a 700 mile trip in front of me, and plenty of time, I would smell the roses.

Left NJ at 1:00 AM.  It was 50 degrees.  NBD, I will just plug in my heated liner.  Except I had done some work on the bike and forget to hook the Gerbings connector back.  Sweet.  I had to get gas in the first 100 miles.  I really hate that.  I prefer to run along at least 200, but what are you gonna do?

Then, I got to DC and got some more gas.  I also filled up my auxiliary gas can thing.  And promptly over filled it.  And the overflow ended up on my helmet.  Awesome.

Riding along and I see a flash in front of me.  WTF was that?  Look down at the dash and see LAMPF!, which is German for "Your headlight just blew".  Luckily, I had recently installed Denali DX lights on the bike and I literally could not see a difference from before the headlight went out.  Those lights are BRIGHT and very directional, so I was in fine shape.

Around 8:00 AM, I was getting a bit tired, so I decided to take a nap.  Found a municipal building and Library with a little garden.  Conked out and grabbed a quick 30 minutes. 

Got up and motored on, until I was really feeling like breakfast, which was had, at a Dairy Queen.  I had not seen this before, but the DQ had full on breakfast menu, like a diner.  Pretty sweet.

I had Gerbing HQ on my route.  My liner had been burning me on occasion and I wanted them to check it out.  The facility was a lot larger than I thought it would be.  Stopped in, and they were nice enough to look at the liner and diagnose the problem.  It seem the male portion of the connector for the heatroller can get squished a bit, and that introduced resistance, and dumb riders like me get burned.  Quickly fixed and on my way.

Remember my "smell the roses" plan?  That held in place until NC.  I was on some highway, and a cager was sitting next to me texting and weaving.  Decided to get the hell out of there and put some space between us.  Aaaaand got a performance award.  Sweet.

Lunch time came around, and I ate at Hill Billy's BBQ.  OMG, so good.

I had planned on spooning on new rubber in SC, but the performance award negated that plan.  The TKC 80s I had on there were in good shape, so NBD.  Instead, I checked into the hotel, stripped the bike down for the event, ate some crappy grub and went to bed.

Day 1

I got prepared, which in my case means, eating breakfast and putting on my Captain USA outfit.

I followed some other riders to the performance center, which was about 3 miles form my hotel.  Checked in, got my swag and my rider number, 34.  I have some numerical superstitions, and 34 was right around mid pack, which is where I was hoping to end up, so I was encouraged.  Foolishly encouraged, it turns out.

I will make this comment once, so as not to bring down the tone of this posting, but the organization at the event was very un-German.  I will leave it at that.

We were broken out into teams of 15, I believe.  Each team was given a color.  We were purple.  GO TEAM BARNEY!  Looking around, there were a good spread of bikes, riders, equipment and skill.  And right there, behind me, is another rider wearing my helmet.  How dare he?

Day 1 Exercises

Slow race.  Easy peasy.  I practice this all the time.  Standing on the pegs.  We had to remain seated.  ZERO points.  Booo.

Figure 8
Just like it sounds, nothing crazy here.

Long Slalom
Even Easier.  

Trial Stop Slalom
Uphill, challenging, but straightforward.

Box 720
two complete turns, both directions, inside a box.  Tricky.  Made it, but lost points for hitting cones, etc.

Long straight slalom
How much easier could this get?  A straight slalom?  Come on.
Oh, what?  I managed 4 out of 12 cones?  Oops.

Board ride
Fast and easy.

Max points for a 35 MPH swerve.  I was probably around 30.  Ah well.

Here is the score sheet from Day 1.  See all that purple towards the bottom?  Yeah, we were not the top performers.

Had dinner and a beer with a new friend from NYC, who happens to ride a 2012 Rallye bought from Max.  Funny.


Team Purple didn't do great, but we did have fun.  A member of our crew went out and bought us all pony tails.

There was a LOT of this during this event

Day 2 AM Exercises

Hill U Turn
Climb a small hill, make a u turn, come down the hill.  Straightforward.

Steep hill climb, down, turn ABS
Climb a steepish hill, crest the top, down the other side, and make a turn at the end.  Pretty simple.  Except if you forget to turn off your ABS.  Then it goes something like this:
Climb the hill, crest the top, look down, ease over the top, start down the hill, grab some brakes AND WHOOAAAAAAA I AM NOT STOPPING!!!!!!!  Blew the turn at the end.

Good sized whoops, well separated, and easily done.

Slalom through a gravel trap.  I have never ridden in gravel before, so I did my best.  Touched downa couple times, but kept the rear wheel churning and made it through.

Big concrete culverts,  side by side, and you ride over them.  Intimidating looking, but not that hard in practice.

Dirt slow speed slalom, again, pretty straightforward.

Figure 8
In the dirt.  Managed to get through it with minimal loss of points.  I think I dabbed once or twice.

About 50 feet of large rocks.  Kept up momentum and made it through.

Fun Zone
We had the opportunity to play in the fun zone.  Bunch of exercises and dirt and whatnot.  I am not in the best of shape, so I took my opportunity to rest.  Good call, since afternoon was tough.

Day 2, PM

Slalom over logs
Tight slow slalom course, with logs at each gate, where we had to trial stop.  Definitely tough.

Slalom climb
Wet rocks, slalom course, up a pretty steep hill.  Made it, but it had my attention.

Off Camber 270
Finished the uphill climb, then continued on.  No one letting us know where the start gate was, so I continued on until a corner worker jumped out and told me to back up.  Downhill.  Off Camber.  On Wet rocks.  I managed to drop Captain USA on both sides. Well, to be fair, I dropped him on the left side.  When he started to tip over on the right side, I pushed him over.

After that excitement I managed to get through the exercise.

Trail Stop Decline
Steep downhill.  Wet Rocks.  Trial stop at each gate.  Or you can just blast down the hill and get no points.  I did not have the skills to do this exercise.  So down the hill I went.

Big old car teeter.  Nice and wide, so it was easy, but you had to get pretty far past the midway point for it to activate.  I stopped a little short and had to put my foot down, but managed to complete the exercise.

Water Crossing
I have never done a water crossing.  This was more of a "Ride the River" rather than cross the river.   The obstacle was about 18 inches deep and about 100 feet long.  There are rocks at the bottom, which you can't see through the muddy water.  I made it 95 feet, before I managed ot dump the bike.  Running.  Into the water.  Soooo yeah.

After clearing the spark plugs, pumping out the water and changing the oil, all was well.

 And here are the results after 2 days of riding.