Monday, June 27, 2016

Do you even lift, bro?

Over the weekend, some friends and I lifted an approximately twenty-foot, 805 lb. steel beam, moved it about thirty yards, and then used a chain hoist to raise it up about nine feet.

Steel beam is pictured in the back.

We were helping my parents rebuild their house in the aftermath of last October's flooding, and this big steel beam is the new main structural support beam for their kitchen.

Thanks to the Workhorse Gym, friends, neighbors, and McBeal from F3Columbia for the assistance!

That's how you lift.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Coastal Carolina to Start Freshman in Elimination Game Tonight

"While Coastal Carolina now faces a must-win game Thursday night against Texas Tech if it wants to continue this unforgettable postseason run, the Chanticleers will not rush ace right-hander Andrew Beckwith back to the mound on short rest."

It's the biggest stage there is in college baseball. Looks like they are going to send a freshman to the mound to start the game, but I'm sure that all hands are on deck for this one.

I hope the Chanticleers can keep the magic going!

Read more here:

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Thoughts on the latest Game of Thrones Episode: "Battle of the Bastards"

Brad put his thoughts on the episode up over at his campsite, and my comment ran a little long, so I decided to make my comment a stand-alone post. Brad's good at getting me thinking about stuff, which is why I like his blog so much, even if I don't agree with him on everything.

In any event, I kinda figured that Rickon was not going to survive the episode, and for the reasons Brad mentioned, I didn't really feel much emotion when he died. I mean, I could barely remember anything about Rickon at all. He's Ned's son. Okay. Other than that, I got nothing. Did anyone really feel that bad when he died?

I was sort of surprised that Jon Snow did exactly what Ramsay wanted, but the Starks sort of have this streak of "damn the torpedoes" in them, so it's not entirely out of character.

Once the Bolton army had Snow surrounded, I was thinking "No, not like this! It's supposed to be the other way around!"

I was really hoping the battle would unfold like the legendary Battle of Canne, where a numerically inferior force defeats a numerically superior force by letting the Boltons attack, bending back, and then folding in the flanks. I really wanted Jon Snow to have a glorious victory over such an evil foe and reclaim his family's home.

Jon Snow was supposed to be the force in blue. He turned out to be the force in red. You never want to be the force in red on this type of map.

However, the battle goes exactly the other way, and Sansa had to give us the deus ex machina to save the day, which was sort of satisfying in the way a surprise ending can be. Before that, I was thinking, "This is Canne in reverse! GoT is just evil."

The ending with Sansa starting to get into all the intrigue and killing Ramsay seemed to be her moving from the character that had things happen to her to becoming the character that actively did things. It's also made her a darker character, which fits with the overall GoT ethos.

Overall, I would have liked to have seen a Canne style victory for Jon, and you could still have had Sansa ride in late and keep her character development the same. Daenerys needs to really move along to Westeros. I'm sort of getting tired of her foolin' around with all these slave holders. Let's get her into the fight. I'm sure the season finale will lead us up close to that happening, but not quite all the way. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Etymology of "The Devil To Pay"

Happy Monday, you lovely coves.

I thought I'd share an interesting passage from The Mauritius Command, which is the fourth book in the Aubrey-Maturin series that I'm making my way through.

One of the enjoyable things in reading these books is learning the etymology of so many figures of speech that have their origins in sailing. Here's one I came across last night:

"Stephen involuntarily brought them back by asking the significance of the devil, among those that followed the sea, as in the devil to pay, a phrase he had often heard, particularly of late - was it a form of propitiation, a Manichaean remnant, so understandable (though erroneous) upon the unbridled elements?
     'Why the devil, do you see,' said Jack, 'is the seam between the deck planking and the timbers, and we call it the devil, because it is the devil for the caulkers to come at: in full we say, the devil to pay and no pitch hot; and what we mean is, that there is something hell-fire difficult to be done - must be done - and nothing to do it with. It is a figure.
     'A very elegant figure, too.'"

Pretty cool.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Gadsden Flag is Back and It's Super-Fabulous!

These posters appeared all over West Hollywood the other day. When you think about it, women and LGBT folks ought to be on the front lines of gun rights. Armed women don't get raped and armed LGBT folks don't get slaughtered en masse.

Maybe this is the beginning of something. A new group of folks realizing that they are responsible for their own safety?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Deadliest Terror Attack Since 9/11 - What can we do?

By now, you've seen and heard what happened in Orlando on Sunday. With the death toll at "at least 50" it's now the deadliest terrorist attack in America since 9/11.

In the coming days and weeks, you're going to hear lots of people say that they have a solution to this problem.

Democrats and anti-gun folks are going to say that banning certain types of guns will solve this problem. They're wrong. Donald Trump and his supporters are going to say that banning certain types of people from entering the country will solve this problem. They're wrong, too.

The hard truth is that there isn't an easy solution to this problem, and anyone who tells you differently is lying to themselves or lying to you. So what can we do?

We can be prepared.

First, we're all responsible for our own safety. The police aren't able to be everywhere all the time. By all accounts, the police did everything right in this instance, but they aren't able to just instantaneously appear. What does that mean? Well, it means that we all need to do some thinking about how we're going to keep ourselves safe.

I'm not saying that we should live our lives in fear, but we should be prepared. For example, every school conducts fire drills on a regular basis. Now, school fires aren't very common at all, but we still conduct fire drills because we know that if there was a fire, we need to have school children leave the building in an organized manner to avoid chaos. In fact, I can't even think of an instance of a fire at at school, but I sure can remember all the fire drills that I was a part of.

We need to apply this same type of preparedness to our daily lives. So many people walk around in a blithe state of unpreparedness, the only thing that can save their lives when confronted with danger is dumb luck or the ineptitude of the attacker.

You don't need to go around armed all the time, but you certainly could. However, being armed isn't the most important thing. The most important thing is your mindset. You have to be mentally prepared to defend yourself. In fact, if you're armed, you need to be in the right mindset, or you're just going to be part of the problem.

I know it's not pleasant to go around thinking about the fact that the world is a potentially dangerous place, but it is. If you want to work on getting into the right mindset and believe that self-defense is something that you want to engage in, I would highly recommend this short essay by Jeff Cooper. It's only 41 total pages and you could read it over your lunch break. Here's a brief sample:

                                                Principle One: Alertness
"'A commander may be forgiven for being defeated, but never for being surprised.' This maxim is among the first to be impressed upon new lieutenants. It is equally applicable to individuals who aspire to a degree of physical security in today's embattled society. Alertness is, to some extent, an inherent personality trait, but it can nonetheless be learned and improved. Once we accept that our familiar and prosaic environment is in fact perilous, we automatically sharpen our senses."

The rest of the essay goes on to detail the other principles, which Cooper lists as: Decisiveness, Aggressiveness, Speed, Coolness, Ruthlessness, and Surprise.

There's no magic solution to violence, but we can at least try to be in the right mindset in the event that we find ourselves in a situation where you find yourself in a violent situation.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Intimidating Pre-Game Ritual?

Every country plays sports of some kind or another. We, as humans, love competition. In every sport, you'll find pre-game rituals that vary in type, but the main core of all pre-game rituals is to mentally prepare yourself for the competition, and possibly to intimidate your opponent.

One interesting pre-game ritual is the haka performed by the New Zealand National Rugby Team. Here's a clip of the New Zealand team performing the haka before playing the French in 2011.

By the by, the New Zealand "All Blacks" are the pretty much the best around (basically since the invention of rugby) when it comes to international rugby. It's kind of what they do.

Also, how cool of a nickname is "All Blacks"? It's just a no-nonsense kind of nickname, where you sort of think: Hey, these guys don't even have bright colors or anything. They just show up in all black like this is a business meeting for them.

I bet the New Zealand players sort of kid the other teams for their colorful uniforms. Hey France! That blue looks adorable, or is it cyan? We picked black because we were too busy practicing rugby to worry about silly little things like colors. (but I digress)

What do you think about the pre-game haka? Intimidating, or not so much?

Friday, June 3, 2016

Trump Supporters Assaulted by Lefty Protesters; Riots, Destroying Property, and Physical Violence Short of Murder is Encouraged by Vox Editor

Everyone is complaining that Trump is a fascist, a strongman, and doesn't care about the rule of law. If you're one of those people, then guess what, buttercup? Don't go 'round assaulting people, rioting, and trashing things. That's what actual fascists do, mmmkay?

You can't call Trump the second coming of Hitler and Mussolini, and then act like a Brownshirt when you see people who support him. Direct violence against people who disagree with you politically isn't acceptable. Stop it.

The other thing is that for every event like this, these violent, rage-filled idiots are helping Trump. The people who do this are doing more to help Trump win votes than a whole week of Trump rallies will ever do.

And apparently, there are people (credentialed people) who are encouraging this. From the deputy editor of Vox:

Oh, and in case you weren't clear on what he meant, he meant, do anything short of actually committing murder.

Seriously? Destroying property is legitimate? Hurting someone, but you know, just not killing them, is legitimate?

Time for the obligatory quote:

Blue Angel Pilot Killed in Crash; Thunderbird Crashes, Pilot Unhurt

F/A-18s in the Missing Man Formation

Sad to hear about the Blue Angel pilot who was killed in a crash yesterday. In a bizarre coincidence, a Thunderbird crashed the same day. Luckily, the pilot was unhurt.

We all go to airshows and can easily think these guys are invincible flying around at high speeds far above the enemy, but it's important to remember that these guys are doing a dangerous job. Keep all the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines in your thoughts and prayers.

These two incidents are only a drop in the bucket of what the men and women of our armed forces endure on a routine basis.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

Today, we remember Americans who are not here to thank.

In searching for words that expressed the spirit of Memorial Day, I found them in a passage from Ronald Reagan's First Inaugural Address.

"Directly in front of me, the monument to a monumental man, George Washington, father of our country. A man of humility who came to greatness reluctantly. He led America out of revolutionary victory into infant nationhood. Of to one side, the stately memorial Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence flames with his eloquence. And then, beyond the Reflecting Pool, the dignified columns of the Lincoln Memorial. Whoever would understand in his heart the meaning of America will find it in the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Beyond these monuments to heroism is the Potomac River, and on the far shore the sloping hills of Arlington Cemetery, with its row upon row of simple white markers bearing crosses or Stars of David.

They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom. Each of these markers is a monument to the kind of hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, The Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno, and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Resivior, and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles in of a place called Vietnam.

Under one such marker lies a young man, Martin Treptow, who left his job in a small town barbershop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There on the western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire.

We're told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading "My Pledge" he had written these words: 'America must win this war. Therefore I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully, and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone'."

We remember that spirit today.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Carpooling With Adele (and a Note about Memorial Day)

It's the Friday before a long weekend, so a lot of folks are phoning it in this afternoon. I'm doing the same thing with the blog today. Yes, this is a blog-post, but we're going to be fairly content light today.

Here's something that's pretty entertaining.

Everyone have a good Memorial Day Weekend. Have a few beers, cook some BBQ, and get outside. But in all the things that you do, set a side a moment or two to reflect on the men and women of our armed services who aren't here to celebrate with you.

Oh, and don't thank veterans for their service on Memorial Day, either. Memorial Day is the day that we set aside to remember those who aren't here to thank. My family and I are extremely thankful for all who have served. Let's take Monday to remember the ones who gave the last full measure of devotion.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Trailer for "USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage" looks...not horrible.

So they made a movie about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. If you don't know the story, it's one of the worst disasters in US Naval history.

The world's first operational atomic bomb was delivered by the Indianapolis, (CA-35) to the island of Tinian on 26 July 1945. The Indianapolis then reported to CINCPAC (Commander-In-Chief, Pacific) Headquarters at Guam for further orders. She was directed to join the battleship USS Idaho (BB-42) at Leyte Gulf in the Philippines to prepare for the invasion of Japan. The Indianapolis, unescorted, departed Guam on a course of 262 degrees making about 17 knots.

At 14 minutes past midnight, on 30 July 1945, midway between Guam and Leyte Gulf, she was hit by two torpedoes out of six fired by the I-58, a Japanese submarine. The first blew away the bow, the second struck near midship on the starboard side adjacent to a fuel tank and a powder magazine. The resulting explosion split the ship to the keel, knocking out all electric power. Within minutes she went down rapidly by the bow, rolling to starboard.

Of the 1,196 aboard, about 900 made it into the water in the twelve minutes before she sank. Few life rafts were released. Most survivors wore the standard kapok life jacket. Shark attacks began with sunrise of the first day and continued until the men were physically removed from the water, almost five days later.

Only 317 sailors made it out of the water alive after five days. If you'd like a more dramatic recitation of the story, I would refer you to Robert Shaw's great soliloquy from Jaws.

It's too bad Robert Shaw isn't still alive to make a cameo in this new movie. Judging just from the trailer, the pros look like there is some genuine drama, but the cons are that Nicolas Cage is in the movie, and the CGI looks...meh.

However, it's a great story, and if they tell it well, it has the chance to be a great movie.

Is Our Government an Old Forest?

Over time, old forests build up with dead trees, decaying plant matter, and old vegetation that chokes out and prevents new growth.

When a forest fire breaks out, it destroys all these things and returns them (and the nutrients they’ve been harboring) back to the soil in the form of ashes. The underbrush is cleared so sunlight can reach the forest floor and new growth can emerge. Invasive weeds are gone, insects are eliminated, and newer, younger growth explodes.

I have to say, I’m not totally opposed to it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

IG Report Confirms Hillary Clinton Intentionally Broke Laws and Lied

I know, I know.

Here are some of the highlights:

1. Her private e-mail account was in violation of State Department rules. These rules were made to give specific effect to law. So...she broke the law.

2. She claimed to have turned over all her "work related" e-mails. The IG found work e-mails that Hillary never turned over. These e-mails were recovered by other means.

3. Hillary kept claiming that she was cooperating with the investigation, but guess what...she (along with most of her staff) never answered the IG's questionnaire. Sounds like super cooperation to me!

I'm hoping for an indictment and the rule of law, but I'm expecting neither. In this day and age, when you break the law and compromise national security, you don't get indicted. Apparently, you get promoted.

Just a good ol' girl
Never meaning no harm
Been in trouble with the law since the day she was born
Usin' servers
Hidin' e-mails
Some day the mountain may get her
But the law never will