Saturday, September 19, 2020

Home-field advantage: ...go, go, go...

I had to take a leak.

It had been a long, long time since I had peed on the corner of Mrs Wahl’s house.

Tonight, I didn’t feel the thrill of sampling the forbidden fruit. All I felt was relief as the pressure drained away.

In for a penny, in for a pound.

The command-and-control team was a scant block away. It was at least two-hundred yards and the light was shitty. Plus, firing from this position would break the cardinal rule of never firing twice from the same position.

I needed to move. And if I was going to be hopping fences and scurrying along the tops of retaining walls, well, I couldn’t have a couple cups of coffee and quart of rented beer filling my bladder.

That problem taken care of, I racked the bolt of the rifle and chambered a fresh round. I had my hand over the ejection port to catch the spent case. No point in leaving evidence laying around. I put the case in my left, rear pants pocket.

Good gravy. The bolt was like working at T-post through a knot-hole. As sweet as the trigger was, the action felt like total junk. And I was glad I was carrying the weapon in the dark. The stock was as ugly as the hang-over after a three-day-drunk.

Never-the-less, it was the only weapon I had and it had proven more than capable.

I safed the weapon.

Then I dropped the magazine and topped it off with another round.

I only had five shots without reloading. The loss of one round meant that I lost 20 percent of my ability. A guy with thirty rounds on-tap would never notice.

If I got to where I was trading shots with six, armed men I was dead anyway. The best I could hope for was to take more than one of them with me.

I eased my way back into Mom’s back yard.

I scanned around looking for motion. I saw none. I used my ears as much as my eyes.

If I was going to move, now was as good a time as any.

I strolled down the drive and across the street to Mrs Potter’s yard.

OK, Mrs Potter had died forty years ago, but I will always think of it as her house because I mowed her yard. What a sweet, old lady she was.

The concrete retaining wall that ran east-west across the middle of the block was still there. It was eight inches wide at the top and would have been a piece-of-cake to walk along if the “new” neighbors hadn’t put a privacy fence right up against the high side of it.

A skinny guy wouldn’t have had a problem but I was no longer skinny. And I had a rifle slung across my back.

My belly rubbed against the privacy fence as I side-shuffled my way along it.

The privacy fence was handy, though, when I came to the chain-link fence that split the block along the north-south axis. I was able to hold onto the post as I swung my leg over it.

One door closes. Another opens.

The yard I dropped into was completely fenced in. No kiddy toys in the yard so I suspected they owned a dog. I stepped into something squishy and then barking arose from the house.

Yup. Definitely a dog.

I eased down the drive separating the two houses. The house that was closer to my targets was darker while the house with the dog was white. I opted to crawl closer to the targets. My dark clothing would have been clearly silhouetted against the white house but would disappear in front of the dark one.

Once again, the targets were standing in the middle of the intersection, caught up in whatever they were directing.

They were about a hundred yards out. Not quite the chip-shot I had the first go-around.

No friendly yew bushes here, either. Scoping the intervening distance, there were none that were conveniently placed, either.

A little bit more scoping and I quickly determined that the second-string quarterback was a woman.

Was that going to be a problem?

Let’s see: Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, directs enemy combatants like a duck. It is duck season.

No problems here.

Hmmm! The dark house had little, puff-ball bushes planted in front of the porch.

Yup, I could just barely see the tops of the bad guys from a prone position.

I slowly shucked off my winter coat and draped it over one of the puff-balls to make a pup tent.

The end of the -06’s barrel was at the north end of the pup-tent and the targets were south.

It seemed like forever before the bluish, illuminated face wandered into the reticle of the 3X9 scope. I was shivering. Then I went all Zen. The shivering stopped. I don’t remember squeezing the trigger. It just went off on its own accord.

No flopping or shouting from that target.

I had to reach out to grab the sleeve of my coat. The blast had flipped it off the puff-ball. A smoking hot cartridge was clutched in my left hand.

I didn’t remember closing my eyes as the gun went off, either, but my night vision was fine. I could hear the dog barking in the white house.

I slipped through the dog yard and swung myself up to the retaining wall. The adrenaline more than compensating for the stiffness induced by lying on the frozen ground.

I scuttled along the top of the retaining wall like a crab-on-crack and was letting myself into Mom’s house less than a minute later.

“Timmy!” I heard her calling. “Timmy!”

“Are you awake? I need to use the bathroom.”

“Yes, mama. I am awake. I am coming” I said from the kitchen.

It is odd. I call her “mom” in the day and “mama” at night. Weird.

She immediately noticed that I wasn’t wearing my ‘jammies’ and that I was wet. She also noticed the smell.

She gave me an accusing look. “You were in Mrs Potter’s yard, weren’t you?”

“How do you know?” I asked.

“I can smell it” she said.

Twenty minutes later, after taking care of business and getting her back on her bed, mom asked “What time is it? Is it too soon for me to have my next dose of pain medicine?”

I looked at the clock on her dresser. It must have had a battery back-up because the face was illuminated.

“It is a minute after midnight, mama. You can have your pain pill now or you can have it the next time you wake up” I told her.

I was cold. Absolutely chilled to the bone.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Employment Resistant Personalities

According to one longevity calculator, for a 60 year-old, non-smoking male differences in attitude can account for 16 years difference in life expectancy

Adam Perkins, author of The Welfare Trait: How State Benefits Affect Personality claims that individuals with aggressive, rule-breaking and anti-social tendencies are over-represented among long-term welfare recipients. He calls this an "employment–resistant personality profile"

Poverty is one of the best predictors of life expectancy. People who exhibit employment-resistant personalities tend to be over-represented in the <$30k/ year category. Go figure.

What if poverty and life-expectancy are linked by those traits: Aggressiveness, Rule-breaking and Anti-social tendencies? That is, Poverty does not cause reduced Life-expectanies but rather they share the same, underlying causes?

A short list of anti-social tendencies include:

  • Violence and abusive behaviors
  • Substance abuse
  • Absenteeism/truancy/missing appointments
  • Suicide
  • Impulse control issues
  • Oppositional-defiant behaviors 
  • Sexual assault/deviant behaviors/multiple partners

 Let's see...violence...substance abuse...missing doctor and dentist appointments...suicide...rushing into dangerous situations...doing the OPPOSITE of what medical professionals advise...willing exposure to unsafe sex.

Yeah, I can see how that might make a difference in how long somebody might live.

Man buns

Things are just a little too serious around here.

BLM and Antifa are vaporware

Imagine a software company that is bidding for an enormous contract.

The sales-force crafts their pitch to appeal to the customer. The words are honed. More features are promised.

Faster, sleeker, secure, thoroughly tested.

The software company's offering makes it to the final cut. There is only one other competitor.

The company's stock is on fire. Everybody wants to own Acme Software stock.

The lead sales-person turns to the CEO and says, "Maybe it is time to hire a couple of engineers and that coder in Novosibirsk."

Frequent commenter John (and author of the blog Wilder, Wealthy and Wise) speculates that BLM demands are deliberately impossible because they want a fight. That assumes that they are intelligent enough to think about the future in a concrete way.

I posit that they are idiots who think they can figure it out on the fly. Because they haven't ever dealt with anything more complicated than opening a package of cigarettes, they assume that they can figure it out AFTER they get power.

Just like the sales-people getting the contract and then throwing the specifications over the wall to the technical people.

Beware, beware,

BLM is vaporware.

Home-field advantage: Go...

Sitting there, I had ample time to think about how stupid I was.

I am not admitting to anything illegal here, mind you, but I have fired a gun in the dark-of-night before. Midnight, New Years for instance. They make an impressive ball of fire, especially if you touch off a powerful round like a 30-06.

The guy with the tablet was my meat. Unfortunately, he was the only one I was sure had impaired night-vision. It was certain that the other guys would see the flash even if they weren’t looking directly my way.

The mind does funny things at times like that. Would it be worth cutting off the head of the snake if it meant that the other five guys caught me? I remembered the times that Vince had taken an ass-whipping meant for me. I remembered that it wasn't just him, it was hundreds of other people cowering in their gingerbread houses.

I slid off the five gallon bucket and squirmed my way back, deep beneath the over-grown yew bushes. Then I squirmed even farther back.

I operated on the belief that if I can’s see their eyes then they can’t see me. But I wasn’t worried about them seeing my eyes, I was worried about the ball of fire that would bloom off the end of the rifle’s muzzle.

I could only see the bottom halves of the men. That was not going to be a problem.

The .30-06 is an incredibly powerful round. It had been designed at the turn of the nineteen hundreds when horses and mules delivered war materials to the battlefield. It was easier to hit a horse at a half mile than to hit a man peeking out of a trench 250 yards away. Taking out that horse resulted in five soldiers being tied up humping materials to the line, material the horse used to hump. 

It was no accident that the specifications required that the bullet be powerful enough to kill a horse at a range of half-a-mile.

A bullet that can kill a 1500 pound horse at 900 yards blows through a human at fifty yards like it is tissue paper. And I had seen enough episodes of NCIS to know that the plume of tissue expelled from the wound’s exit would point back to my hide and the trail to Mom’s back door.

I really didn’t want to get Mom involved.

Section through a male, human hip at the level of the head (ball) of the femur. Image copyright Ken Hub

The key would be to hit the target in the meatiest, boniest part of his body so the bullet wouldn't exit. The tunnel through the yew bushes was ample for my purposes. I intended to wait until my prime target turned sideways and then I was going to shoot him in the hip.

And I fully intended to live to fight another day.

Lest you think I am totally daft, I must confess to having an on-going war with red squirrels.

There are some complications that I haven’t bothered to share with the old-coots I drink coffee with. For one thing, my next door neighbor does not approve of my discharging firearms.

She has her reasons. She collects rescue dogs of some obscure, bug-eyed, neurotic ankle-biter breed. I saw her trying to walk one of the on a leash, once. A woodpecker lit off and the tiny dog wrapped the leash around her legs like a Tasmanian Devil and she toppled like a redwood. Those dogs aren’t normal.

If a woodpecker pecking a utility pole can do that to one of her dogs, I can only imagine what touching off a twenty gauge does to seven of them inside of her house. I can only imagine frogs in a blender.

The key to avoiding Karen’s wrath, I had learned, is to only take one shot.

One shot gets people’s attention. Unless you are searching for it, the best you can hope to do is raise your head and maybe guess which quadrant the shot came from.

The second shot is the one that always gives you away.

I was lucky. The rioters were setting off fireworks. The pops and booms and sparkles were apparent from our location.

The thunderous boom of the 30-06 rolled out and bounced off the houses lining the street. The five radio-minders couldn’t even guess the quadrant the shot came from, pummeled by the echoes.

For my part, I was regretting the lack of hearing protection and the muzzle flash left me with big gray spots in the center of my cone-of-vision.

The man who had been working the tablet was thrashing around in the middle of the street, screaming like a 4th grade girl after a snake had been slipped down her blouse.

I thought “You are fucked now, buddy!”

I may be good Catholic boy and go to church but I used to work in a factory and you gotta use language folks understand. I had a feeling the guy thrashing on the ground shared my opinion.

I was curious how they would get him to medical care. The first responders pretty much didn’t go out when there was rioting. They had lost too many ambulances and firetrucks (a name that sadly proved apt in more than one way).

It was difficult for personal vehicles to get around. The rioters indiscriminately threw rocks and firebombs at anything that moved. I doubted that they would be carrying him out. It seemed likely that he would bleed out, there in the middle of the intersection.

Indeed, he was well and truly “fucked”.

And then I heard the chopper.

No lie. He was air-lifted out in an unmarked chopper fifteen minutes after I dropped the hammer.

I don’t know anything about helicopters, but it was big and angular. It was painted a dark color which didn’t seem to reflect much light, so I assume it was matte and not gloss.

It didn’t take much more than a minute to load him, and as he was being loaded a person hopped off and beckoned the radio-minders and they trotted one block northeast to another five-way intersection.

I did what they tell you to never do in Hunter Safety classes. I glassed them with the scope.

The face of the person who had hopped off was lit by the same bluish glow that had illuminated the face of the man I had just shot.

BAM! Just-like-that, the second-string quarterback was in the game calling plays.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The sanest thing you will read about BLM this week

 From frequent commenter RBD

I read the demands of BLM and I shake my head. Not because they are ludicrous or that there aren't real injustices perpetrated by society over time to blacks. I shake my head because BLM has an opportunity to make change happen. BLM is going to squander this opportunity with violence and silly demands that have no way of being fulfilled and no acknowledgment that things have to change in that community, along with societal change. Another year will pass and nothing meaningful will have come from all this chaos.

Home-field advantage: Get set

“Murder is a sin” my mother reminded me.

“To murder is to kill outside the law” I replied.

“How will you live with yourself if you have to kill somebody tonight?” mom asked.

I thought about that for a bit.

“Jesus was a carpenter. He used tools. Dad always said that we were God's arms and strong-backs and we are here to do his heavy lifting. I guess that makes us his tools.” I said.

“The end does not justify the means” Mom chided me.

“It does when God is directing the heavy lifting” I said back.

One of the memories I have of my Dad was getting "The Talk". He had a list of scripts that every one of us kids got. This time, "The Talk" was in the basement. He pulled a battered, short chisel out of his pocket and handed it to me. The chisel had obviously started out life much longer but over time and multiple sharpenings had been shortened until there was no useful life left in it. The striking end was mushroomed. The cutting edge was blunt and chipped.

Dad was a stoic and very big on duty. "There are a hundred work-horses for every show horse. There are a thousand working in darkness for every person who gets credit" he told me.

"Odds are you are going to be one of those people working in the dark, just like I am" he added. "People like me, tools like this chisel, we are the real heroes."

"How do you figure?" I asked. I knew he was trying to tell me something he thought was important.

"The guy who gets the credit? He gets paid with glory. The guys like me and you? We do it because it is the right thing to do, even when we get hammered just like this chisel" he said. "We gotta job to do. We do it."

Funny how the memory of holding that four-and-a-half inch long hunk of steel still sticks with me. I can still feel the weight and remembering marveling at the forces it had endured, forces that had peeled the striking end back like a banana. I remember that it was odd that the metal was neither warm nor cold. It was exactly the temperature of my hand.

“How will you know?” Mom asked.

“I might least I might not until judgment day. ‘What does the Lord ask of thee but that you do justice and love goodness and walk humbly before your God’ “ I replied.

Mom nodded her approval. “Old Testament, but solid.”

“I think I am ready for bed” she told me.

It takes a half hour to get her in bed. She asked for a pair of adult diapers “Just in case you are busy when I have to go”

I kissed her on her forehead.

Walking out the back door, I locked the dead-bolt on the main door and the dead-bolt on the door to the entry-way. I also pulled the batteries out of the motion activated light. The last thing I wanted was to highlight my comings-and-goings.

I carried the rifle to the garage and found the stacks of five gallon buckets. I chose a dark one. Good old dad. He had a collection. I could have had any one of about eight different colors.

I carried it to my hide and did a little bit of last minute fiddling. That included scraping anything on the ground that would make noise when I moved my feet. I set my smartphone to buzz and turned the brightness down as far as it would go.

One advantage of wearing a mask is that it kept my face warm. I was wearing a dark blue bandana which dimmed my face.

I texted Marie: “I am sitting outside. Give me a bump if you hear anything I should know.”

I settled in for a long, cold sit.

Cold, but not boring. I got a bump every five minutes or so. My habit of falling asleep when not moving was legendary. I wasn’t getting hit with every detail but was given the highlights.

A portion of the mob left the grounds of the Hall-of-Justice. Another mob was assembling at a vacant lot closer to the target east of Mom's. Vehicles were dropping off “demonstrators” in a church parking lot near the south target. Some of those vehicles were big buses. Bit-by-bit it was coming together. 

Most of the information was posted on social media. It was there for anybody who looked.

It was clear in my mind that this was not going to be a spontaneous attack. Demonstrators don’t "spontaneously" assemble in staging areas away from the demonstration. These are people who cannot be bothered to change the oil in their cars or mail in the tab for their license plates. Thinking ahead is not one of their skills.

Frankly, it was a bit of a relief. It sucked for Jamie and Vince but was good for Mom. The likelihood of rioters accidentally wandering into Mom’s neighborhood was about zero since the staging areas were on the far side of their likely targets.

But...wait...what do these tired, old eyes see?

Six skinny guys. Well, I think they are guys. Six guys strolling along, slowly through the freezing drizzle. 

Dudes, Halloween was LAST month. What are you doing HERE?

They stopped in the middle of the intersection a scant fifty yards from my position.



There are a few things you need to know about Mom’s neighborhood before I continue.

If I had to walk away from a full stein of beer, you can suffer with me for an extra minute or two.

The street layout in Mom’s neighborhood is Byzantine. It is almost as if the planners had taken a big bowl of chicken entrails and dumped them on the floor, smeared them around with a shovel and then told the road builders "Build them like that”

Mom said it was intentional. The planners wanted to discourage workers at the local factory from racing their cars through the then-posh neighborhood so they made it impossible to travel through it in straight lines.

The inevitable result was that many of the intersections were not the typical four-way. There were a bunch of three-ways and several five-way intersections and even a six-way.

In fact, the men were camped out in the middle of one of the few five-ways that was nearby.

One man was fiddling with a tablet. The bluish glow lit up his face. I am sure it totally trashed his night-vision but his body language did not communicate any concern.

The other men were working radios. Every once in a while, they would say a few words to the man working the tablet and then hand him the radio. The boss would rasp out a few words and then hand the radio back, then return to his tablet.

They reminded me of a big breakdown in the factory. The big-boss “running the show” transmitting energy like a high voltage wire. Raging into the cell phone “I don’t CARE that the damned circuit-board is in Toledo. Put it in a cab or drive it up here yourself. We are losing Eighty-Fucking-Thousand-Dollars a minute when we aren’t running!!!”

Then it hit me. The intersection had elevation and clear lines of sight. It had multiple ways to egress. It was mid-way between the two riots. No wonder they were setting up a mobile command post right by Mom’s house.

I stood pat. I was a hunter, not a shooter. Yet.

Text from Marie: "The rioters were coming down Vinnie’s street. They are breaking windows and throwing Molotov Cocktails at the houses that had sported yard-signs supporting President Bowers’ party."

A couple minutes later: "According to Vince, the rioters were well supplied with munitions. Several are pushing baby carriages and jogging strollers loaded with 'stuff'. "

Vince kept his yard sterile. He would probably be OK. 

Then Vince sent a text: They just firebombed old man McCorkle’s house.

McCorkle lived just up the street from him.

McCorkle was a crusty old bastard. Drove a beer truck most of his life. Always flew an American flag. Never voted, though. Said they were all evil bastards. Never had any yard signs. You couldn't have PAID him to put one up.

Damn. Vinnie proudly flew the American flag, too.