Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

It's nice to have creative friends. (By which I doubly exclude both Dan Zimmerman and Robert Farago.)

I have some amazingly talented friends who can write*. Some even get paid for it. Some don't.
I have some amazingly talented friends who can photograph. Some even get paid for it. Some don't.
I have some amazingly talented friends who can sing. (You see where this is going.)
Then there are those who have talents for putting things together creatively into a multimedia fashion that defies labeling. One such friend is my friend the Ambulance Driver. Given that he's published a couple of books and is on a regular speaking tour, and teaches a class of his own invention on Shooter Self-Care, and put together a great fundraiser in Kilted To Kick Cancer-- I think that it's probably okay to let the cat out of the bag to say that Ambulance Driver is Kelly Grayson. Kelly, a fellow admirer of my friend Tamara Keel, took a regular piece of hers and made it a multimedia slide show.

Back around 2006, Tamara, in her love of all things Gun Show/ Fun Show, wrote her own words to "These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things", and posted them on her blog as "The Gun Show Song." She posts it most of the time that she goes to a gun show. I can't even find the first time that she did so, but it's almost a decade ago, and she has posted the words to it maybe a score of times:
Flintlocks and Flop-tops
And Number Three Russians
Black-powder Mausers
From jackbooted Prussians,
Shiny Smith PC's from limited runs
These are a few of my favorite guns.

Socketed bay'nets
On Zulu War rifles,
Engraved, iv'ried Lugers
That make quite an eyefull
Mosin tomato stakes sold by the ton
These are a few of my favorite guns.

Rusty top-breaks!
Smallbore Schuetzens!
And all of Browning's spawn
I just keep on browsing my favorite guns
Until all my money's gone.
Kelly cast around to find someone who could sing the song in as Julie Andrews would, and Squeaky stepped up with her trained voice, and recorded it (and very nicely, too) for him.  Then Kelly put the song to slides on a YouTube video of his own creation, and voila! He had made his Christmas gift to Tamara. She liked it.

See? Creative.

But then Dan Zimmerman and Robert Farago over at that The Truth About Guns website did what they do: they stole the content. No attribution was given. They took credit for Kelly's work and Tamara's writing, and Squeaky's singing, without acknowledging whose innovation had created it.

This is not just rude and classless-- it's thievery. Tamara gets paid to talk about, write about, and shoot guns-- which is what The Gun Show Song is a product of that. Kelly gets paid to produce online content. This is their business, however lovingly they may practice it.

Well, stealing things is what Dan Zimmerman and Robert Farago do. They take content of value, host it on their site (without attribution), and then use it as click bait for their links along the sidebar. It's about profit without creating, for them. Notice that I will NOT link to their site. They can die in the cold, and I'm asking you, gentle reader, NOT to go there. Going to their site runs up their hit count meter, which they make money from with their advertisers' links. When they do it to me (and they have), it's just forgetting to attribute a hobbyist. But when they do it to Tamara and Kelly--- they're taking profit from professionals without giving them their due.

Roberta X put it neatly:
   Dan Zimmerman, widely held to be a longtime intellectual property thief and, I am given to understand, founder of Dead Hooker Magazine, has stolen Tam's "Fun Show Song" and posted the lovely video made as a Christmas present for Tam by Ambulance Driver and Squeaky and posted it over at TTAG, the other sink of iniquity and inequity with which he is associated, utterly without attribution to anyone but himself.

     Other than polite reminders (already issued) and the distant possibility of lawyering up -- Tam's a writer and her stock in trade is the unique groupings of words she creates -- there's not a whole lot that can be done.

     But there is one thing.  Cato famously ended every speech he made in the Roman Senate with "Carthage must be destroyed," even if all he was talking about was proclaiming Junior Vestal Day.  The phrase I'd like you to remember and to post all over the Internet is "Dan Zimmerman. Intellectual property thief. Dead Hooker Magazine."  And good morning, search engines! 

Oh, I see that Jennifer has already written a very similar article. Great minds, and all that.
______________________________________
*Okay, when I started hot-linking friends of mine who can write, it didn't really cross my mind that I have a HUGE number of friends who can write, so I gave up pretty early. Don't feel slighted that I didn't link you, friends of mine; I didn't link a LOT of writers.

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Random Thursday Thoughts

--Less than half of the US is now in the Middle Class. NPR finds this shocking. Reason says, "It's not that big a deal-- there are fewer lower class, and more upper class." It's like the statement of the simple fact that there is a minority which is far over-represented in the prison and jail population. One extreme is to believe that crime is inherent within that subset of the population. The other extreme is to believe and assert that the system is inherently racist.

--Looking at my level of income, number of people in my household, and my level of education, I'm trailing behind.

--Caleb wrote the obligatory piece on our POTUS claiming that the no-fly list should be used to restrict guns from citizens. It actually opens the discussion to some very important questions, though. If we let a regulatory agency with the force of law make regulations that take Constitutional rights away from people, what is the point of having a law, or a legislative process? This has been a question of mine about the actions of the BATFE and the TSA for a long time. Let's embrace the discussion, and thank our Constitutional Scholar POTUS for opening it up.

--In three weeks, Texans who have Concealed Handgun Licenses (CHLs) will have Licenses To Carry Handguns. (LCHs) We in North Texas anticipate lots of calls from pearl-clutchers seeing guns on the hips of citizens in public places, for the first time. I'm actually a big fan of them being concealed, because concealment removes (or at least strongly reduces) the incentive for people to carry guns for the wrong damned reason. It needs to be a tool, not a statement.

--I got tired of Pink Floyd back in college, when I had a morose roommate who would put 6 Pink Floyd albums into the CD changer and set it to Random/Infinite Repeat, and turn the amp up to 11 while he maundered. (Amazingly, that roommate is still one of my best friends.)  So I've not played any Pink Floyd for, oh 18 years. Yesterday, I played "On The Turning Away," and found myself with tears in my eyes.




--It's worth remembering that we as a nation are turning away from helping a lot of refugees, which lot is comprised of over 50% women and girls, and over 30% kids under 11. Because we are afraid.


--We got a nice new Roomba for the house, as an early Christmas gift for ourselves. We immediately named it Consuela. A guy on a local buy/sell/trade page online had an older model Roomba that his grandmother no longer wanted, so I talked him down considerably, and bought it. Within 24 hours, we had two robot minions cleaning our split-level house. I named the older model Rosie, for Rosie The Robot of The Jetsons.  My artistic 13 year-old daughter sketched her image of Consuela and Rosie, which we of course had to put up on our refrigerator:
The kid's got an eye, IMHO. 

-- Both my daughters this year are asking to borrow control of my Amazon account, to buy their Christmas gifts. We've had more boxes and parcels and packages dropped off at the front door of my house in the past year than in the combined total of my life, theretofore. 

--I qualified with the Glock 42 on Monday. That is a REALLY soft-shooting little pocket pistol. I had purchased it with Trijicons on it, and 600 rounds, from a friend. It will make a decent BUG, and I've found online the vest holster that I want to get for it for work. I just don't have the $85 lying around at present, what with all the other expenditures, as of late. Maybe next week. Or after Christmas.  

--Another officer had a Glock 43. That is an interesting pistol to shoot. It's FAR snappier in the recoil than the soft-shooting 43, which is to be expected as it is a 9X19 in basically the same sized gun. I may get one.

--Last night I got the ingredients to make this Alton Brown recipe for eggnog. It's as if they said, "we'll shut down the circulatory system with fat and cholesterol! Wait, we wouldn't want the endocrine system to feel left out! Let's wreck the liver, and the pancreas, all at once, with a pint and a half of liquor, and a pound of sugar!"

--As I have dinner to make, and a board meeting to attend in half an hour, I have successfully avoided going to work out today, by writing this blog. (smirk)

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Friday, December 04, 2015

November, 2015, and EMT stuff

*****STARTED IN EARLY NOVEMBER****
--I'm prepping for my EMT practical exercises, all next week. I'm not ready.


--Without getting specific, I had to officially apply my authority as a supervisor at work for the first time. I didn't much care for it.


--The weather in North Texas has been spectacular. Temps down in the mid-to-high 50s at night, up to almost 80 during the day. My wife put a drip irrigation system in for her garden in early September, and in early October, I gave her a high-end hose splitter and two-channel electric water timer. Our garden looks amazing.

--We noticed that the area around our water meter was getting swampy. I called the Public Works guys, who dug down and found a leak... on the city side! Huzzah! The very nice Public Works guy suggested that I put in a personally-owned water cut-off valve, so I bought one and a hand-hole box. He just installed that where the meter was, and moved the meter over a foot, and installed it a little higher upstream. To do this, he had to dig up the valve at the main, which was just direct-buried and not accessible by manhole or hand-hole. He took the old manhole cover and bit of steel culvert, and put it over the valve at the main, and put a new box over the meter, and put my purchased box over the valve that he had put in. He and his partner then put in sand around it, and carted away the mud, because, they said, it was dry into impermeable cement. (We have a high clay content in our soil.) 

***************LATER. MUCH LATER. WRITTEN IN DECEMBER, ACTUALLY******


--I did my skills week for my EMT studies. It was a 70+ mile drive, through downtown Fort Worth each way. Going there, I just started at about 5:45am, and made it right through the city. Coming back, I had to sit in traffic. I'm a wimp about traffic, having to only rarely deal with it. My normal daily commute is just from my front door to my car, and then on in to the office less than half a mile away.

--I took the final on a Friday. I got a 90. I'm not proud of that 90, because it means that 10% of the cases that I come across may well fall in a gap of my knowledge. I have a long way to go.


--I did my rotational internships at a regional hospital pursuing Level II Trauma Center status, and at a couple of mid-city firehouses. The fire guys were great, and were easy to chat with and get along with. They were people of the sort that I knew; they laughed and cut up, but turned on the professionalism as soon as a call for service came up.

At the ER (ED, actually), it was different. The staff was quite stiff. Tensions were up a little bit. I found myself in the way, apologizing a lot. Nurses would be professional, but often put the "curt" in "courteous." I understood. I was just an intern, and was furniture. In three days, I was gone, and there was no reason to really develop a relationship with me. Thus, I was at best a liability who could maybe be of some help in moving a patient, or cleaning up an exam room. I cleaned a LOT of exam rooms. I was surprised. My first ER preceptor, a "Tech," was a paramedic with street experience, but he was also treated a lot like an errand boy who also took vitals. And I was his assistant and intern. My preceptor was very nice, actually, and quite encouraging. He told me that he thought that I was going to be great as an EMT. I got handed off to another Tech/Paramedic, and then a nurse that I chose for her friendliness and willingness to answer questions. At the end of three days, the Charge Nurse gave me one compliment: He directed me to show the next EMT intern who was relieving me his way around the ED, and explain what was expected of him.

I did my final rotation as a 24 hour shift at the firehouse on Thanksgiving. I brought a couple of large pies with me.


--I got to see some stuff. One guy with normal vital signs had taken a trauma to the throat during sports, and during auscultation of his neck, I detected crackling sounds like rice crispies. Subcutaneous emphysema!  

An ambulance crew brought in an 84 year old man who was receiving CPR (begun within one minute of his collapse). I got put on compressions. He had been intubated. His sternum was completely broken free from his ribs. We shocked him three times. The doctors pushed a lot of drugs. As I was doing compressions, I felt something, and looked at the monitor, even as the ER doc was looking at it. He told me to stop compressions. At about this time, a paramedic and a nurse who were bagging him noticed eye movement. The patient had a viable rhythm! We backed away, and the RT put the patient onto a machine to help the patient breathe, and the doc started a central line.


We had a lot of rain on Thanksgiving night. I rolled with the fire guys to a swift water rescue that was so professionally performed that it looked actually kind of boring.  My ambulance preceptor was kind of a meat-and-potatoes guy.


An elderly woman with recent UTI and chest infection, with abnormally low BP, who had fainted in her bed and couldn't be awakened until shortly before we arrived? Well, that's just syncope (fainting). She refused to go to the hospital with us, but would with family. Walking out, I asked my preceptor about the possibility of it being septic shock. "Hey, it could well be," my preceptor said.


We had another older woman with a history of stroke, speaking in two-word sentences, with edema in her legs and respirations at about 28, who assented to go to the hospital.  While I was filling out my Patient Care Report (for my school-- this wasn't the official one), I got to the Assessment portion again. I asked my preceptor about the possibility of it being Right Ventricular Failure. He nodded and said that could be, and asked if I was sure that I wasn't going to go get my paramedic. I told him that I had too much respect for what those guys did, to assume that I could do it.

--I suppose that it's possible that someone will whine that I'm violating HIPAA by describing these cases. Of course, they'd be hard-put to figure out where the patient was, when they were seen, what the outcome was, etc, etc. I've learned a thing or two, observing my friend Kelly Grayson.

--I've sold a safe queen gun, to buy an amplified electronic stethoscope. I only asked enough to get the 3M™ Littmann® Electronic Stethoscope Model 3100, but I think that I want the 3200, with Bluetooth and recording capability. I will probably come up with the rest and buy it this weekend. I just don't feel that I can hear well enough with standard stethoscopes, over my tinnitus.



--I have to send in my EMT book to the school, and get their permission to take the National Registry test. (I'm not ready.)










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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A note for "helpful" people.

When you see the police officer on a traffic stop in your neighborhood, yelling to him, and getting his attention, and asking if "everything's all right"-- that's not actually helpful. If things WERE getting tense, you're not then a reassurance; you are a distraction.

Please don't do this, good citizen. Please.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Blogorado... 7? I think???

I went up to Colorado on Thursday, and came back on Monday. I had a great time.


My wife, who did not go, thinks that all we did was talk guns and shoot guns and be manly men, or something.


She doesn't realize that I participate in more hugs in that weekend than I do for the rest of the year.


I ate well. I communed with friends, old and new.


I enjoyed watching my friends' successes, and joked with them about their insubstantial failures.


Yeah, we shot at dynamite, and we shot a bowling ball mortar, and we blew up a car and a kitchen appliance. But mostly, it was about The Exchange.


Farewell, my tribe. Until next we meet.

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Monday, October 05, 2015

More of this, more of that. Mostly home.

--Having taken allergy medications, I just slept for 16 hours. No, really.


--Reviewing my kids' report cards, it appears that I need to go to the bank, because they've earned some cash. We shamelessly pay for results.  But they need to tone it down, or I'm going to need to get a second job. Maybe if I got them into World Of Warcraft, or something?


--My elder daughter got home just now. Healthy and trim, modestly-dressed, wearing the tooled belt that her granddad had bought her in her jeans and long-sleeved T shirt, with her hair pulled back, my senior in high school looked self-assured but friendly. I think that I would have wanted to be her friend, at her age. She asked me for rubber gloves, because she's helping her mother refinish some cabinets. While I found them, she looked through the mail that she had brought in, and laughed at the hoity-toity colleges sending invitations for her applications. She gets that we don't want her saddled with education debt. She's barely 17, and she gets it. I suppose that it's possible that I could be more proud of my daughter, but I can't really imagine how, realistically, just this second.


--One of my chickens is injured, badly. In just a minute, I'm going to dig a hole and do what needs doing. Yeah, I hate to waste the meat, but the injury probably ruined some, and the danged bird has a name. It will contribute to the garden. Rest in peace, Pocky. You ate a lot of bugs, and gave us a lot of eggs.


--I just found out that my middle-schooler has been taking a thermos of coffee to school with her for lunch, because she has been getting sleepy after lunch every day. That ends now. [Matt looks guiltily in the mirror as he considers what kind of bad influence he's been on his daughters.]


--My middle schooler over-dresses for school. She prefers dark silks, which she buys second-hand, and likes long skirts and full blouses. She has dyed her brown hair black, and wears it long and straight and brushed-out. She has a very different style, all her own. I don't fully understand it, but I respect that she is not falling into others' ideals of style.


--Wednesday, my wife and I go to the Great State Fair of Texas, in Dallas. We're deliberating on whether to pull the girls out of school to go, as well.


--The weather, man. It's beautiful. Guess I'll go dig a hole, shower, and go to work.

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Saturday, October 03, 2015

This and that.

--I got a minor promotion the other day. No big deal.


--I am suffering greatly from trees and grasses and ragweed having sex. The quantity and distribution of phlegm is suboptimal. (Not quite enough to kill me. Too much to be at all comfortable with.)

--I went with my dad last night to Cabella's to pick up a new set of electronic earmuffs. I had a first generation set of Peltors from 16 years ago, which gave up the ghost. It's stupid not to have a set or three, given the importance of being aware of your surroundings when shooting. My preference is for using the thinner electronic muffs, turned to high volume, over foam earplugs. I note that this pair came with a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, so that I can jump my phone or iPod or whatnot to it. More importantly, though, I can jump my 2-way radio mic to it while responding to an active shooter on duty. I'm going to keep in with my go-bag at work. I probably need to get a second set.

--I haven't been to the gym in two weeks. Not good.

--Our okra plants are tall and beautifully-leafed, and very green... and are bearing almost NO okra. Anyone have a suggestion for what nutrient we're missing?

--The temperature finally broke this week, and we finally have highs under 90 degrees. It's glorious.

--October is my favorite month. It has my birthday, and the birthdays of some very nice friends of mine. It is the month when the weather is the best in North Texas. It is associated with Oktoberfest, which includes two of my favorite things-- malty beer and German sausages. Halloween's okay, but it shouldn't account for the whole of the month.  October is when I join up with my friends on the range in Colorado, and we shoot a bit by day, and gather around the campfire by night.

--I look forward to seeing my friends, next week.

--I caught the pilot of Blue Bloods on Netflix the other night, and have since binge-watched the entire first two seasons on Netflix. The show is ridiculous. It is over-the-top pulp fiction in its plots and procedures. We basically never see more than about 6 cops in a 36,000-man police department, and evidently one Manhattan ADA handles every major case in the city of New York. They mention paperwork after an officer-involved shooting, but seem to be back on the street faster than Crockett and Tubbs were.  Only one guy in the family (Donnie Wahlberg's character) speaks with a New York accent. The detectives cross the ethics line on a daily basis, with illegal searches yielding somehow useable evidence, warrantless arrests, physical intimidation and assault during interrogations, etc, etc, etc. Donnie Wahlberg's grip on his pistol is amazingly low, with an inch of space above the web of his hand. His partner, in true Hollywood style, wears her holster between 1:00 and 2:00 o'clock.
But the show is cast very well, with Tom Selleck playing the respectable patriarch of the cop family, who happens to be the second generation of police commissioner for the PD. The interaction between the family is very attractive, and tugs at the heart a bit. It is shot very well. It is silly [melo]drama which I'm going to end up watching every minute of.

--I got  to work and found a voicemail from a senior district attorney, the other day. He said that he was working intake, and had just reviewed a felony DWI case that I had submitted, and that he wanted to compliment me on the good work that he found there. That was it. He didn't have any questions, and didn't need me to provide him with any information; he just wanted to let me know how much he appreciated the quality of the report and the investigation. I've only gotten a few of these calls over my years, and I will tell you that they mean a lot to me. He certainly didn't need to do that, and DAs are busy people. But nothing motivates me more than praise. (Note to self: remember that with the guys you lead.)

--We're about to outfit me with a new patrol car. I've never driven a brand-new one, but my car is getting tired. We're looking at getting a Ford Police Interceptor Utility, which runs about $10k less than the Tahoes we've been getting lately. The Ford P.I. Utility is based on the Explorer, so of course I'll call it Dora. Interestingly enough, the Explorer now shares the same unibody base as the Taurus. When it started, the Explorer was based on the Ford Ranger pickup. I'd noticed that the Explorer has gotten a lot more car-like over the last few years, but I hadn't realized that they had gone that far.

--Seriously. It's gorgeous outside. My wife and I are about to go for a walk.

--My elder daughter is competing today for UIL choir. She lucked out that this was a bye week for the football team, so she didn't have to lead the band last night before leaving at 06:15 this morning (Saturday) to head out to the vocal competition. As of now, it's 17:49, and they're not back, yet. Hope they fed her.

--My younger daughter is enjoying school more than she ever has. I was worried when she dropped band (it had really been good for the elder daughter), but she took up art and choir. She was a point under the cut-off to get into Pre-AP Algebra, so she wrote an appeal, and got in. She's in honors English, and just signed up to do the Creative Writing competition. I had my misgivings about her schedule this summer, but 7 weeks into the school year, it's clear to me that, with good grades and a happy 13 year-old, it was the best decision. I'll give up quite a bit for a happy kid who doesn't dread school.

--Our kitchen cabinet project eeks along at a snail's pace.

--I bumped Skills Week for my EMT class to November. I need to study.

--I need to build a fence this month.

--We now have a boutique shop in our small town which sells a variety of coffee beans by the pound. The price is high, but I appreciate the local service, so I give them my patronage.







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