Surly Curmudgeon

   The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
-- Robert A. Heinlein
  • Somewhere in the crusty outer layer of small towns surrounding the warm creamy center that is Oklahoma City.
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    Wednesday, April 30, 2008

    O-Dawg is getting big... he's walking and pointing and stuff:

    This one makes me think of Babe Ruth's famous called shot. It's my new cellphone wallpaper.

    Posted by Tom, 4/30/2008 7:56:02 PM (Permalink). 2 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Just Because It's Free

    My wife and I have been doing a lot of cleaning lately... the sort of cleaning where you look at stuff you haven't used in a few years and decide it'd be better off at someone else's house. Mostly we use Freecycle for this, as we don't really want to mess with trying to get people to pay for our old crap. I don't know what we've gotten rid of so far, but it's been a lot, and there's more to come. The stuff we do actually care to try and get some money from, we put on craigslist for dirt cheap.

    We've found that the best stuff to put on craigslist so far is major appliances. People will really go nuts over those, and are generally willing to pay your asking price. The Freecycle folks, on the other hand, are a whole different breed, as this next anecdote will surely demonstrate.

    My company, which doesn't use its office space much (a few days a week), is planning to move from Oklahoma City to Norman. Most of our people live in Norman, and the one guy who's way up in Edmond never comes to the office anyway.

    So anyhow...

    We have this big old server rack...

    ...that has been in "the company's" possession for well over 10 years. It's got a bunch of old servers in it that really aren't good for anything. My boss has been bellyaching about moving the thing again, and really wanted it out of our hair. He didn't want to try and sell it, because to him/us, it's worthless, and he wasn't happy about the idea of having to pay a disposal company to come and drag it away.

    Enter Tom and his Freecycle account. "Let me post it," I say. "It'll be gone in no time."

    Nick doesn't believe me, but agrees to give it a shot at some point in the future.

    Well, today was the day. "Go ahead and post it," he says. We take a quick inventory, I write it up, and email the description to the local Freecycle list. Included in my description is the dimensions (7' x 2' x 3') and the fact that whoever moves it will need at the very least a truck and two strong guys.

    Nick expected to get a couple nibbles of interest over the course of a week.

    In 5 minutes, I had a dozen. Two of them wanted to pick it up today.

    Nick wanted to start taking bids, but I reminded him that the conditions of Freecycle were such that everything had to be FREE.

    So we started going through the interested parties. It quickly became clear that most had no idea what they were getting into. I wound up writing a second email, which I forwarded to all the seriously interested parties, where I explained what they were up against... the thing is HUGE. When we brought it into the building, it had to be put on top of the elevator because it wouldn't fit inside. With all the equipment installed, it probably weighs over a thousand pounds.

    I threw in some more scary verbiage so that people would get the idea, and invited those who were still interested to respond and get added to "the list". I currently have a guy who I'm giving a 50/50 chance of bailing out. He came over to look at the problem, and seemed intimidated by the scope of the task and the fact that he doesn't have a truck. He wanted to know if one of our employees might have a truck, but I said that our guys needed to be doing their jobs, not playing truck driver. After all, the reason we put it on Freecycle in the first place was so that we wouldn't have to mess with it.

    I kept getting inquiries all day, and sent all of them the same "scare mail". It's amazing how many people seem to think they're going to swing by in their Honda Civic with their 13-year-old son and just toss it in the trunk to use in their home office. It's equally amazing (not really) how few write back to say they're still interested after they've been given a full picture of what the task entails.

    I think I've finally eliminated all the tire kickers, the people who just thought "free computer!", and those who really didn't know what they were getting themselves (or their spouses) into. If our truckless guy bails out, I've got at least two others who sound genuinely serious about it, though only one really seems to appreciate the fact that these servers are really old and not worth much. The other person's expectations seem a bit... elevated.

    Oh well, it's not my problem. My problem is making the thing disappear. Once that's accomplished, they can turn it into modern art for all I care.

    I learned my lesson on the next item... some kind of small office telephone switch dealie. I wrote "Key system with 2 phones... if you don't know what it is, you probably have no use for it." That trimmed the inquiries WAY down. I'll have to remember that for next time.

    Lesson for the day: never underestimate the power of "free" to make people lose all ability to reason.

    Posted by Tom, 4/30/2008 7:52:16 PM (Permalink). 1 Comment. Leave a comment...

    Sunday, April 27, 2008

    Non-Christian Christian music

    One of my favorite types of music is what I call "non-Christian Christian music". This is music produced by a band that is not specifically a Christian band, does not label or market themselves as such, but where the message of the music is highly compatible with Christian ideas and ideals. One of my favorite examples (perhaps my most favorite example) is Change Your Mind, by Sister Hazel, which was on the soundtrack for the 2000 version of Bedazzled (which explains the video). Enjoy.

    Posted by Tom, 4/27/2008 9:31:53 AM (Permalink). 3 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, April 25, 2008


    For as long as I can remember, I've had this unsettling tendency to see the world in superstitious terms. I'll find myself making up little rules for how to do things, not based on whether it's easier or more efficient, but based on some weird idea that it's "good luck" or "bad luck" to do it a certain way.

    I'll give you an example: while lifting weights, I have this odd idea that it's "bad luck" if I load the bar from only one plate rack -- the bar has to be loaded evenly from both plate racks. Even though there might be enough plates on one rack (and the racks are loaded identically), I find it severely unsettling if I don't take half the desired load from one rack and half from the other. Even worse, all the plates from one rack have to go on the same end of the bar. Oh, and God help us all if the plates don't face the same way on the bar, or if the 10 pound grip plate is on the inside on one end but the outside on the other.

    This happens to me in a bunch of different activities. Most of the time I can, by force of will, overcome whatever it is and move on. But sometimes it's just so disturbing if I do things the "wrong" way, it's easier to just do them the "right" way. Such is the case with my weights. If I do those "wrong", I get so shaken by the disharmony that I can't focus on the lift and I fail out much sooner than I should.

    This goes way back, too. Remember all those little superstitious sayings from grade school? I followed them religiously for the longest time. "Step on a crack, break your mother's back" -- I think I was probably 30 years old before I could consciously and deliberately step on a crack in the sidewalk. It took me a long time to get over all those stupid little things, but for some reason my mind just keeps coming up with new ones.

    Another example: Ever since I was in grade school, I've had this strange thought that watching a digital clock flip from XX:59 to XX:00 is "lucky", while watching it flip from XX:00 to XX:01 was "unlucky". I can't explain it, I don't know why, but for some reason I get trapped in that thought pattern every time I just happen to see a clock on one of those three number patterns. If it's on 59, I feel like I HAVE to watch it until it flips. If it's on 00, I feel like I HAVE to look away for at least a minute until it flips, then check it again. It's OK to see it at 01, it's just not OK to see it change.

    I remember feeling incredibly guilty when someone told me that good Christians aren't superstitious, and that it was a sin to be so. I think I was probably about 12. I kept trying to purge the thoughts from my head, certain I was going to Hell because Jesus wouldn't love me if I kept thinking in terms of "good luck" and "bad luck". I remember feeling hopelessly evil because I couldn't stop those associations from popping into my head. I think I eventually resorted to obsessively trying to be "hyper rational" in part as a result of this. I started taking everything extremely literally, and parsing the words that I'd hear in conversation, picking apart the way people used them, especially if they used them incorrectly. I didn't have many friends when I did this.

    Occasionally the need to do things "right" can be harnessed constructively. It helps, for example, that I have this "thing" when I'm handling firearms. I'm a stickler for safe handling, and I need to know at all times the condition of the firearm. Some would call my constant checking and re-checking fetishistic, but it works for me. It also helped me maintain straight A's in spelling -- when there's a clear "right" way to do something, I find it most comforting.

    Most of the time though, this habit is just annoying. It gets in the way of what I consider to be a "proper" worldview, free of references to "luck" and impossible cause-effect chains. I don't know why all my shirts have to face to the left on their hangers in the closet. I just know that they do. It drives me buggy if they face right... though perhaps not so buggy as when some face right while others face left.

    The worst part of this is that it happens automatically, and takes me completely by surprise. I don't try to come up with these stupid little rules, and I actively avoid anything that even smacks of something similar. But sometimes it just happens. I wasn't aware of the thing with my weights until I'd been doing it that way for several months, and then one day did it the "wrong" way and completely lost my mindset (that was a crummy workout). Most of the time I don't even know I'm doing it until I try to do it "wrong". I'm having trouble coming up with other examples that I know exist, because it usually takes being "in the moment" for me to be conscious of it.

    I know that at least once I caught myself counting the steps between point A and point B. I'll get up and go to point B, arrive at it and think "7 steps". Then when I turn to go back to point A, it becomes incredibly important for that journey to have exactly the same number of steps. It'll be so important that if it's not the same number, I'll start retracing the path back and forth until it all matches. I put a stop to that one REAL quick, by forcing myself to think of something -- anything -- else when I become aware that I'm counting. I just don't have enough time in the day for that nonsense.

    I don't know where this falls on the "crazy" scale. I don't even know what to call it... it's probably some form of OCD or something. It wouldn't even bother me if it weren't for the discomfort I experience from doing things the "wrong" way. Most of the time, I can ignore the "right/wrong" ideas and just do things however they need to be done. With the worst cases, I feel successful to just be able to convince myself that it has nothing to do with "luck", and is just an expression of my desire for order or balance or something stupid like that. At least then I don't have to be superstitious. I'm happy to say that I think I have most of them licked, and it's really only the weight thing nowadays. I've forced myself past the clock issue quite a few times, and now I can resist it if I'm feeling even moderately strong.

    Hey, at least I'm not barking at the moon...


    Posted by Tom, 4/25/2008 5:50:45 PM (Permalink). 5 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, April 24, 2008

    Fashion Trends I Hate

    Most of the time, what other people wear doesn't really catch my attention, but there are some things that just drive me insane. Sometimes it's the article(s) of clothing in and of itself. Other times it's the clothing plus an associated behavior. So here they are, in no particular order... my fashion pet peeves.

    • Too tight/too revealing: What is "too" tight or revealing? When the person wearing it is obviously uncomfortable. I'm no prude... I see nothing wrong with ladies in skimpy outfits. But when they're dressed to draw attention to themselves, and then walk around with their arms folded up around their bodies like they're feeling naked, it's obvious they're not comfortable in the clothing they've chosen. Why would anyone do that to themselves? There's a reason I don't wear spandex. Well, two reasons. First, I wouldn't look good in it, and second, I wouldn't feel comfortable in it. Take a hint, ladies. If you have to walk around with your arms crossed over your chest or hiding behind the guy you're with, you probably should have put more on.

    • Baseball caps: What is with the ubiquitous ball cap? It's not an attractive piece of headwear. It only looks good on a very few people (pretty girls with ponytails), and even then not wearing one would be better. Unfortunately, people all over wear them as though they are the pinnacle of personal fashion. There are literally dozens of unexplored hat styles out there, but everyone comes back to these godawful things.

    • Socks with sandals: Nothing says "I'm trying to air out my athlete's foot" like wearing a pair of sandals with socks. Yick.

    • Dark socks with shorts: On those same lines, wearing dark socks with shorts says "I'm not really comfortable in shorts". White, ankle-length socks are much better, and then only if you're not wearing sandals (see above). Dark socks make me think of a congressman walking around without his pants on. No, I don't know where that came from.

    • Platform heels: I'm not going to quibble about the attraction of high heels. Personally, they never did much for me. But high heels plus 2 or 3 inches of platform? What is that all about? It looks like you nailed a couple blocks of wood to your feet. It takes the normally attractive, delicate foot of a female human being and turns it into a blocky, grotesque homage to bison hooves. If it weren't mean to do so, I'd be sorely tempted to go around pushing women over who wore these ugly things. Seriously. And they're such clodhoppers -- walking in them makes a sound like the cows got loose.

    • Flip-flops: At the other end of the spectrum from platforms are these noisy, virtually useless pieces of footwear. Their only real upside is the amusement I get from watching people try to run or hurry while wearing them. It's hard to run with your toes curled like that, because your toes were meant to bend the other way while running, you doorknob. You'd be better off barefoot.

    • Empire waist: These are those shirts/dresses where the "waist" is directly below the bustline. The only women it works for are pregnant ones. Other women look like they want to be asked if they're pregnant. A woman's real waist is somewhere lower, and in my opinion is meant to be shown, not hidden.

    • Hip huggers: Just like the empire waist, I think it utterly ruins a woman's waistline when she wears these things.

    • Shirt and tie with no jacket: It screams "car salesman" to me, even if that's not your profession. And since I don't particularly like car salesmen...

    • Pants hanging below the butt: Nah, that's too easy...

    Of course, some people want their preferences to be codified into law and to have government ban all things they don't like. I'm not one of those people. I'm not saying nobody should be allowed to wear the things I find distasteful. I'm just saying that the clothes/fashions above make me find the person wearing them less interesting/attractive/intelligent/worthwhile. I'm sure there are tons out there who can say the same about the stuff I usually wear, so it's all good.

    Posted by Tom, 4/24/2008 5:43:01 PM (Permalink). 3 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, April 22, 2008

    It's Over

    I got the call tonight, after apparently having dodged it (unintentionally, of course) for a couple of days. Fred's dead. He died Sunday. I don't have any other information, not that any is really necessary.

    I previously blogged that I had decided to be done with the topic, and had made the decision to insulate myself from the situation he was in.

    All that was well and good, but it doesn't explain the sudden surge of emotion when I hung up the phone. What the hell is that all about?

    I just want some peace.

    Posted by Tom, 4/22/2008 7:18:15 PM (Permalink). 3 Comments. Leave a comment...

    I don't get Doctor Who

    I never have. It seems like every one of my friends who also enjoy science fiction absolutely loves the show. They talk about it, quote it, reference it, trade recordings of it, and so on. For 20 years, I've been hearing about the greatness that is Doctor Who, but every time I sit down to watch it, I find it at best boring and at worst ridiculous and annoying.

    Granted, there's not much I like about British television. Monty Python is barely palatable. My wife and I occasionally watched Are You Being Served? early in our relationship, but even that was only because there was nothing else on. The only British show I ever really enjoyed was Absolutely Fabulous, and that was only because the daughter was kind of cute in a nerdy sort of way.

    When it comes to science fiction, I guess I'm just picky. My favorite shows are of course Firefly, followed by Babylon 5 and Farscape (though Farscape did get uncomfortably wacky at times). I enjoy Smallville during my cardio workouts, and I'll generally watch any of the various Star Treks, Stargates, Andromeda, and the like without complaint, though I don't seek them out. All of these shows have their quirkiness, but the universes generally make sense, and there's nary a sonic screwdriver in sight. I don't know why these are OK, but Doctor Who and its spinoff is not, but please don't ask me to like those anytime soon. It hasn't worked in 20 years, it probably won't for another 20.

    Posted by Tom, 4/22/2008 6:00:25 PM (Permalink). 3 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, April 21, 2008

    Where the man gets made

    It's been a while since I posted any pictures of my home gym setup, so I was bored and took one. A few items have been added, a few removed, and here's what I'm working with these days. Click for embiggenation.

    Yeah, I know. Boooooring. I feel like I'm stuck in a "weights and guns" rut as far as my posts go lately, but maybe something will shake loose soon.

    Posted by Tom, 4/21/2008 6:00:21 PM (Permalink). 2 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Sunday, April 20, 2008

    Street Kings

    Just saw this movie today. As a police action/drama, it's pretty much what you'd expect. It evokes memories of Training Day and probably some others that I can't remember.

    As a social commentary, it's a bit disturbing. It leaves the impression that there's no such thing as a good cop. While I don't have enough experience with law enforcement to definitively say whether this is true or false, I'm jaded enough to believe it could be true, but idealistic enough to hope that it's not. I suppose what's really disturbing is the fact that it's an unremarkable statement -- I haven't heard of any real controversy surrounding the film.

    Anyway, not a great movie, not a horrible one. In retrospect, probably not worth the cost of theater tickets, though it'll make a good rental in a few months. 6/10.

    Posted by Tom, 4/20/2008 3:12:55 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, April 17, 2008

    I am such a nerd...

    I've never done incline bench presses before today. Wasn't sure how to go about them, for proper form and whatnot, so I looked it up. The first instruction says "set your bench to about a 45-degree angle". So of course the first thing I did was get out my carpenter's level, the one with the 45-degree bubble, so I could make sure it was EXACTLY 45 degrees. Anybody else would have just eyeballed it, but noooo... mine has to be exact.

    I don't know if there's any hope for me. But if there is, here's a song...

    Posted by Tom, 4/17/2008 7:26:46 AM (Permalink). 2 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, April 15, 2008


    I think I finally know where that term comes from.

    I failed out this morning on my final set of bench press. I was supposed to do 5, but could only manage 2. Thing is, I know I can do 5 with that weight. It shouldn't be a problem.

    So at lunch, I went back out, loaded up the plates again, and gave it a shot. No problem. Then I realized...

    In the earlier set, I think I used 25 pound plates where I should have used 10's. The extra 30 pounds makes all the difference.

    It's hard to do math when I'm working out, because all the blood is in my muscles, not my brains. I think that's why they call it "musclehead". I've been using a 20 pound standard bar for a year, and the new 45 pound Olympic bar is messing with my math. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    Anyway, I decided to make up a cheat sheet of all the weight levels I'll probably ever need to use, with all the plate loads written out. (If I get to lifting 525 in any fashion, I suppose I could make a new sheet, if my ego will fit in front of the computer at that point.) This way I won't have to think when my brain is being starved for oxygen... I can just point and grunt, as God intended.

    Posted by Tom, 4/15/2008 5:46:46 PM (Permalink). 1 Comment. Leave a comment...

    Guns on Campus

    I love the way this article frames the issue, beginning and ending with two quotes from an obviously clear-thinking person:

    CINCINNATI, Ohio (CNN) -- "Would you rather just sit there and cower underneath a desk when someone executes you or would you rather have a chance to defend your life? That's what it really boils down to."

    Michael Flitcraft, a 23-year-old sophomore at the University of Cincinnati, has become a leading advocate for college students to carry weapons on campus. He's an organizer for Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, a grass-roots organization that was formed after last year's Virginia Tech massacre that left 32 college students and professors dead.


    "What is a better situation: Someone coming in and shooting in a classroom [or] someone in that classroom having a chance to defend their life and take out that threat?" Flitcraft said.

    Of course, they have to give equal time to the handwringers, who are typically nonsensical in their commentary...

    "I don't think the answer to bullets flying is to send more bullets flying," said Gene Ferrara, the police chief at the University of Cincinnati. "My belief is we ought to be focusing on what we do to prevent the shooting from starting."

    That's all well and good, but what happens when those measures fail, as they inevitably will? If you pin all your hopes on one strategy, and have no backup plan, you might as well just post an ad: "school shooter wanted for target-rich environment".

    Ferrara was a Cincinnati cop for more than a dozen years before he became chief of police at the university. He also said that there are practical concerns from a law enforcement perspective: If you're responding to the scene of a shooting, how do you sort out who is the bad guy and who is the heroic student with a permit?

    Um... perhaps the same way they sort it out at scenes EVERYWHERE ELSE? The person with a license is going to be cooperative, they're going to tell you up front that they have a license, they're going to comply with instructions... granted, Ferrara is a campus rent-a-cop, but hasn't he ever heard of training? I mean, I'm just Joe Citizen, not getting paid to do any of this, and I find it pretty easy to spend time and money looking into instruction and such. You'd think someone whose JOB entailed such things would be able to put two and two together.

    Posted by Tom, 4/15/2008 7:01:28 AM (Permalink). 1 Comment. Leave a comment...

    So close to the truth, it's scary

    Wildly Popular 'Iron Man' Trailer To Be Adapted Into Full-Length Film


    Posted by Tom, 4/15/2008 6:16:56 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, April 14, 2008

    On a break

    "They" say you should take a break from weightlifting every 9 to 12 weeks. I'm on one. I hate it. I always have this nagging fear that I'll get distracted or lose interest and never go back to lifting again. On the other hand, it gives me time to research new routines in anticipation of starting back up. I've been fiddling with this & that for a while, after having done the Body for Life strategy for a good 2 or 3 months and making some adjustments to it, so I was casting about for something new when I ran across this.

    It's called a 5x5, referring to the fact that each exercise is generally done for 5 sets at 5 reps each. It's all the rage at some forums, so I think I'll give it a try. I especially like the fact that the guy has provided a handy spreadsheet for giving guidelines on how much weight to use. I always have trouble with that part. Most of my warmup weights and work weights are just guesses, and I'm enough of a nerd to want something more substantial than "this sounds good".

    He sounds kinda grumpy in his descriptions, as though he takes offense to the idea of people who just want to "change it up" for a while using his stuff, but whatever. When I stall with one program, I move on to another. I've read enough on exercise science to know that I'm not interested in the theory so much as the practice. Do I know the difference between myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy? Yes. But it doesn't move the iron.

    Working out at home and alone has tons of benefits, but a few big drawbacks, the biggest of which is that you have to be your own personal trainer. You have to evaluate your capabilities, push your own limits, but at the same time remain objective and concerned for safety. I probably err on the side of caution a bit too much, and don't know when to just kick myself in the butt and say "get moving, ya bum!" I've contemplated hiring a personal trainer to come over and work with me for a month or two, and see how that goes, but at the same time I've got that "stubborn loner" streak working against the notion.

    Oh well, another day and I can start the new routine. Maybe following the numbers on the spreadsheet will give me a push.

    Posted by Tom, 4/14/2008 5:38:48 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    Maybe, possibly, could be over with

    A year and a half ago, our driveway washed out. This kicked off a series of washouts that were progressively worse and more disheartening. See here, here, here, and here.

    Last fall, some civil engineer type came around and got us to sign papers allowing a developer to put in a drainage dealie around the back side of our property. We did so, but the developer has apparently lost interest in their project, and so the thing never got built.

    A week and a half ago, I heard that the big storms were starting up, and resolved to fix the problem. I went out to the ditch in front of my house, where a berm has been keeping all the water until it gets so high it spills down the drive and causes the destruction chronicled in the posts linked above. I took a shovel and a friend with me, and together we cut a hole in the berm. It's ugly, and really needs some sod laid down on it, but I reasoned that if the water hits the level of the hole, it's eventually going to head for my back yard by way of the driveway and garage. Therefore I'd rather it took a direct route.

    It didn't rain.

    But that's OK, because today and tonight we just had a major gully-washer go through, and it looks like the plan worked beautifully. The water is in the back yard where it was going anyway, and the garage is dry as a bone. My only concern is that upon checking the situation at the road, the hole in the berm may be a little too deep, but that is easily rectified. I'm just glad we seem to be done with the flooded garage situation.

    Posted by Tom, 4/10/2008 2:48:22 AM (Permalink). 1 Comment. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, April 9, 2008

    God I hate this

    The media has some serious issues when it comes to reporting on guns. Take this story:

    A Houston police officer was recovering after he accidentally shot himself in the hip, authorities said.


    Reyes, 23, was trying to unholster his pistol in the bathroom of [his] apartment about 8:15 p.m. when the weapon accidentally fired, police said.

    There was nothing "accidental" about it. It was negligence, just another dork with poor gun-handling skills automatically putting his finger on the trigger as he holds the weapon.

    I have unholstered and reholstered my carry gun countless times in bathrooms, both at my house and in restaurants and stores. I've been carrying for over 10 years. Why hasn't my gun "accidentally" fired? Because I keep my damn finger off the trigger!!! It's so simple... why can't cops be taught to do it?

    More to the point, why can't the media bring themselves to place the blame where it properly belongs? Saying "the weapon accidentally fired" is saying that the weapon did something all by itself. Weapon - subject, fired - verb. Given that standard issue in most police departments these days is a Glock, HK, or Sig pistol, all of which are designed such that they will not fire unless the trigger is pulled, the cause should be obvious, and the media should communicate it. Here, let me help: "The officer, with his finger stupidly on the trigger, unintentionally fired the weapon and shot himself." Officer - subject, fired - verb, weapon - object. That's so much clearer, and doesn't blame inanimate objects for the actions of people.

    It should then be followed with a statement something like "the officer is being pulled from street duty, and has been banned from carrying a gun until such time as he can pass a course on safe gun-handling with a practical exam."

    But that would mean the media (and the police administrators) were doing their jobs, and God forbid that ever happens.

    NOTE: If, by some infinitesimal chance, the officer's gun actually malfunctioned without any "help" from him, I'm more than willing to make a full apology and retraction of my comments. Given that such has less chance of happening than the officer being struck by lightning while in his bathroom, don't hold your breath.

    Posted by Tom, 4/9/2008 7:34:12 AM (Permalink). 3 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, April 8, 2008

    Perpetual War

    That's the new strategy for Iraq, in case you hadn't heard. According to the draft agreement, we'll be there until Jesus comes back:

    A draft agreement between the United States and Iraq shows that the two countries are including a provision for an open-ended American military commitment to the war-torn country, The Guardian reported Tuesday.

    Citing a copy of the draft strategic framework agreement dated March 7 that it obtained, the newspaper said that the document is designed to replace the current United Nations mandate, which expires at the end of the year.

    According to The Guardian, the agreement allows the United States to "conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security" without including a time limit.

    Hey Rumsfeld, how long did you say this thing was supposed to go?

    Um... yeah...

    Surely it's an equitable arrangement though, right?

    It also does not put any limits on the number of American forces allowed in Iraq, the weapons they can use, the legal status of US troops in Iraq or the powers they hold over Iraqi citizens.

    Hey, at least they're making foreign and domestic policies look more like each other.

    Oh, now I get it... if they make us think it'll be forever, suddenly a hundred years won't seem so bad:

    Posted by Tom, 4/8/2008 5:23:29 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Quote of the Day

    "[W]hen the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts."
    -- Henry Rollins

    Posted by Tom, 4/8/2008 5:38:40 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, April 7, 2008

    My daily affirmation

    A funny thing happened as I was picking up, hauling home, and unloading my "new" weights. They're not pretty. They've been sitting in some guy's garage for a long time, they've got some dirt and surface rust on them. They're a dull black color, not the sleek silver-grey I see in the sporting goods store. They don't match the plates I already have. A few months ago, I thought this would bother me, and was endeavoring to match all my plates.

    As I handled these new ones though, I was reminded of why I started doing this to begin with. I'm not a bodybuilder. I don't want to be one. Bodybuilders obsess over sculpting every square inch of a muscle to match some standard of beauty and physical perfection. The main thing I want is to be strong. I expect that my body will look better than it did (and indeed it does), but I'm not in it for the looks. I've always been a "form follows function" kind of guy, and my main goal here is to be able to out-lift myself. I want to press, squat, pull, and otherwise move more weight this week, this month, this year, than I did last.

    I could have gone out at any time and bought that sleek new set from the store. Until now, I never really knew why I didn't... the extra 50 bucks wouldn't have bothered me. But now, as I look at these ugly weights that aren't good for anything except being heavy, I realize that every day I work with them, I'll be reminded that I'm not in this for looks -- to please other people. I'm doing this to be stronger and healthier than I was yesterday. I'm doing this for me.

    Posted by Tom, 4/7/2008 7:55:53 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Stepping up to the big boy weights

    When I started this weightlifting kick, I didn't know if I was going to stick with it, so I bought the cheapest Wal-Mart equipment I could find. I figured if I lost interest, I could get out with very little money lost. As the time has progressed, I've steadily upgraded my equipment based on my needs. I wanted to do squats, so I needed a squat rack. I wanted to start challenging myself, so I needed safety rails, and so forth.

    For the past year, I've been doing all my weightlifting with what are called "standard" weights. The primary feature that makes them standard is that the hole in the middle of the plate is 1" in diameter. This is as opposed to "Olympic" weights, which have a 2" hole. My barbell is a 1" diameter, 7' long bar. This is all well and good until the weight being lifted starts bending the bar, which happens somewhere in the 250 - 300 pound range. Then it's dangerous, and it's time to switch to Olympic weights.

    The typical Olympic bar is also 7' long, but is slightly thicker than a standard bar, and has a big knobby thing at either end to fit the 2" hole in Olympic plates. These are the bars you see the pro weightlifters using, with godawful amounts of weight on them. Weirdly enough the "big" plate is 45 pounds (as opposed to 50, which would be a nice round number), and the bar itself also weighs 45 pounds. I think it's a metric conversion thing. Anyway, this makes the milestone numbers really oddball: a 45 pound bar plus 45 pound plates times some even number. 2 plates (one on each side) plus the bar is 135 pounds. 4 plates gets you to 225. 6 plates, 315, and so on.

    Anyway, the time has been approaching where I was going to need to switch to the big boy weights. This is kind of like having a bunch of VHS tapes and deciding to switch to DVD. Except for my bench and squat rack, pretty much everything has to be changed, because it won't fit the new stuff. The local big box sports chain sells a cheap 300 pound set for $150, so that was my watermark as I started looking for deals. I had also already bough some smaller Olympic plates (25 pounds down to 2.5 pounds) for use on the leg curl attachment and lat tower. Theoretically, I could just buy two 45 pound plates and two 35 pound plates and finish out the set, then find a bar.

    The problem was, those 4 plates, bought individually at the going rate of 80 cents a pound, would cost almost the same ($128) as a complete set with a bar. So that didn't make sense.

    I started watching craigslist for used equipment, and saw several offers of a full set plus bench and/or rack for $200 or more. I'd send an email, say I was only interested in the weights, and would give $100 for them. I've been getting rejections for the last month or so, but that was OK with me, since I could always go buy a brand new set at the sporting goods store for $150.

    But now that doesn't have to happen. At long last, one of the guys selling off his old equipment has taken me up on my offer, and now I'm in the big boy club with an Olympic set of my own. And I only paid 33 cents a pound. The cheapskate in me thinks I might have gotten away for 25 cents, but there's no sense getting bent out of shape about it.

    Now I need to look for good deals on 45 pound plates as I work my way into the big numbers.

    Posted by Tom, 4/7/2008 6:04:43 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Why apologize if it's the truth?

    The McCain campaign is all up in arms over some liberal hack calling McCain a warmonger. Um...

    "He voted for this war. He's a perpetrator of the war. He's an advocate of the war," Mr. Schultz said. "In my personal definition, that's a warmonger." Both the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC) demanded a direct apology.

    ...kinda what he said. But I think it's a little broader than that. McCain is an enthusiastic advocate of using military violence to push an American agenda. He believes that America's proper role is as policeman to the world. He appears to relish the thought of coercing, intimidating, and even killing people who disagree with him. THAT is a warmonger.

    Posted by Tom, 4/7/2008 5:12:12 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, April 3, 2008

    Quote of the Day

    "Smart" guns and "safety" locks aren't meant to protect children. They're meant to kill gun owners.
    --Victor Milan

    Posted by Tom, 4/3/2008 8:19:13 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, April 2, 2008

    The cronies win it

    Boren's lapdogs have decided to do his bidding and kill HB2513. It's not a big loss, since the bill was already weakened to the point of uselessness. But it does rankle me that the spineless bedwetters and handwringers are running the show even in an ostensibly free state like Oklahoma.

    At least we've got some intel now on who works for David Boren as opposed to the people of Oklahoma: Senators Johnnie Crutchfield, Mike Johnson, and President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan.

    The dumbest quote from the article comes from Boren himself:

    "Please, please, please put the safety of our students first,Ē said University of Oklahoma President David Boren.

    That's what the bill was trying to do, moron. You're keeping them in danger. If there ever is a shooting incident at OU before we get this thing fixed, the blood is on YOUR hands. It's only a dream of mine, but I really would love it if people like you were charged as accessories whenever "gun-free" zones turn into killing fields because nobody can put a stop to the rampage.

    Posted by Tom, 4/2/2008 5:22:36 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thanks for nothing, drug warriors

    Reason's latest article says it best:

    There are two kinds of people in the world: the kind who think it's perfectly reasonable to strip-search a 13-year-old girl suspected of bringing ibuprofen to school, and the kind who think those people should be kept as far away from children as possible.

    Advil. That's what this War on Drugs and its attendant paranoia has turned into: a hunt for Advil in the panties of 13-year-old girls. I still don't know if I'll ever be a father, but I do know this: my kids will never attend an institution employing child molesters like these. I am still increasingly convinced that public school is child abuse.

    Oh yeah, and then there's this tool:

    "Remember," the school district's lawyer recently told ABC News by way of justification, "this was prescription-strength ibuprofen."

    Know what else is prescription strength, genius? Taking 4 standard-strength pills instead of 2. The lunatics are truly running the asylum.

    Posted by Tom, 4/2/2008 8:26:09 AM (Permalink). 4 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Quote of the Day

    God told us to be a witness, not a judge.
    --church sign

    Posted by Tom, 4/2/2008 7:38:03 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, April 1, 2008

    Phone call

    I got a call from my state senator today... apparently he is listening to his voice mail. I called him a while ago to tell him what I thought of HB2513, and what I thought should be done to fix it. He and I had a nice chat about it, and I gave several ideas for how it could be fixed, if it couldn't be returned to the original language.

    My best "compromise", though I still hate it, is to make the CLEE Training somehow available to the general licensee. I told him if it were, I'd take that training and tote around a certificate just to prove I had done so. We chatted a bit more, but he got the gist of what I want out of this thing, and promised to do his best. He also mentioned that OU President Boren, who's been whining and crying like a scared little girl about the whole thing, has quite a few legislative cronies in his pocket, so the process is going to be a tough one.

    Frankly, I believe Boren is against it because current law gives him all the power to decide who can and cannot carry on campus, and he hates the idea of losing his kingship. Powermongers are funny that way.

    Posted by Tom, 4/1/2008 5:38:39 PM (Permalink). 2 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Lost Boys 2: Electric Boogaloo!

    Yep, they're making a sequel to Lost Boys. Bonus: Corey Feldman is in it. Bonus Bonus: So is Corey Haim. Bonus cubed: They have that same creepy music from the original (Cry Little Sister) in the trailer.

    Catch the trailer here.

    Too bad they couldn't figure out a way to put Kiefer Sutherland in it too, but his character esta muerto. So they got his half-brother Angus instead.

    This movie is going to suck. But I'll watch it anyway.

    Posted by Tom, 4/1/2008 8:42:45 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    April Fool's

    The guys at Blizzard (makers of World of WarCraft) are famous for their April Fool's jokes, and today's is a good one. They've introduced the "Bard" hero class for the new expansion, with some over-the-top graphics and a total ripoff of the Guitar Hero games.

    Love the tattoo sleeves. Nice touch.

    The "reveal" is almost plausible until you see the graphics and get to this part of the description:

    To fuel his or her powers, the bard uses a brand-new resource system called "groove." Selecting an ability launches the Fret Bar, which will display a number of riffs the player needs to activate using a new guitar-based keyboard peripheral that will ship with Wrath of the Lich King (a special Frostmourne-themed axe will be sold separately). The better the playerís accuracy and timing, the more powerful the resulting ability becomes. The riffs also become more difficult as the bardís abilities progress, ensuring that the bard gameplay experience remains fast-paced and skill-oriented. Executing abilities also builds up groove, which further fuels the bardís epic rock powers. Some abilities such as "Epic Solo" require a certain amount of groove to be unleashed, and the more groove, the more powerful the effect.

    Good show, old chaps.

    *golf clap*

    Posted by Tom, 4/1/2008 4:26:49 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...