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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Science!

Still playing catch-up. I have to take my father car shopping this afternoon, so this might be the only chance I have to post something today. Therefore, I present you with this postulate:


I put it to you that bullets are not, in fact, solid. Rather, they are an incompressible fluid that flows from areas of greater concentration (magazines and ammo stores) to areas of lesser concentration (downrange).

I base this conclusion upon these facts:

  • Ammunition naturally exists in a state of disorder unless acted upon by an outside force (such as being loaded into a magazine)
  • Ammunition naturally seeks the lowest point (drop a box and find out)
  • Ammunition, collectively, has a specific volume but no specific shape (empty a box into your range bag)
  • Ammunition expands (explosively) when heated 
  • Ammunition contracts (albeit slightly) when cooled
  • Ammunition of one type will readily mix with ammunition of other types (such as, say, inside an ammo box or your range bag)
I realize this will immediately cause contention based upon the premise that different magazines and firearms will not accept all forms of ammunition. I put it to you that this is a shortcoming with the holding vessels (magazines) and bullet-permeable membranes (firearms) and not with the ammunition. After all, will not a Taurus Judge fire both .410 shotshells and .45 Long Colt?

Discuss amongst yourselves. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Honk, Honk! I love my fandom.


Last Thursday, I posted this picture:


I thought it was cute, and since I was about to go on a drive, a pony-car seemed relevant. It turns out there's a lot more going on here than I originally realized, and so I'm going to share with you the memeological roots of this picture. Since it also brings me full circle to when I stopped blogging due to out-of-townness, I think it's an excellent way to officially start up again.

About eight years ago, "Duckrolling" was a thing:


This is a duck with wheels. There is a story behind it, and this is also the root of the "Rickroll" phenomenon, but I shall leave the details of both of those as exercises for the apt pupil. Right now all you need to know is "duck with wheels." That's the background you need to "get" this. Now let's watch pony fandom in action:



1) This exchange happened in a chatroom:

⋖Unmaned⋗ Hmm, somepony find an appropriate soundtrack for this: http://derpiboo.ru/338010
⋖+MajorMattMason⋗ D'aw!
⋖+StevenRoy⋗ "Beep beep, I'm a wheelie!"
⋖+MajorMattMason⋗ Kyoot wheelie poneh!
⋖TwoToneDearly⋗ o.o
⋖+MajorMattMason⋗ Anyhoo, about a soundtrack for the wheely pony: How about this? http://youtu.be/cK5pl6W2CFE
⋖Unmaned⋗ Oh, that's great, MMM!
⋖+MajorMattMason⋗ ^.^
⋖+KinkyTurtle⋗ Definitely!
⋖+StevenRoy⋗ It's the right kind of honking!
* +StevenRoy downloads that animation and the Tijuana Taxi song...
⋖Unmaned⋗ Uh oh, someone's getting craetive again.
⋖+StevenRoy⋗ Yup.
⋖+StevenRoy⋗ "From the producer of that 'corn' clip, comes another thing!"
⋖+MajorMattMason⋗ SR: Woo-hoo! :D
⋖+StevenRoy⋗ I had a feeling you'd approve.


2) Somepony made a video on June 9th of this year:





3)  This aforementioned animation was then made:



4) It was posted on My Little Brony on June 20th and the fans immediately took a shine to this character. 

One of the posters quipped:
So who's the new guy?
Oh don't look at me that way! By the end of the month this character will have a name, backstory, screen caps, and different variations.
Speculation as to the proper name for this pony. "Wheely Bopper" is generally regarded as the favorite, although I have to confess a fondness for "Speedy Spectrum."


5) There is now fan art of the character.

Including the obligatory slightly sexy look (this one is titled "Draw Me Like One Of Your French Renaults"),



the vaguely military look,



and a "Let's tell a story and give the character personality and hobbies" comic  Apparently Wheely likes to sleep late and paint metal miniatures.



So there you have it: in approximately 20 days, a character goes from silly sketch to a personality with fan art and videos. I fully expect that Wheely will become a mascot and figurehead for handicapped bronies (she has wheels instead of feet, which suggests a wheelchair, which means disability of some sort) in much the same way that Derpy is a beloved figurehead for the mentally awkward.

Pony fandom:  Incredibly talented; more than mildly obsessive-compulsive; completely batshit insane. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Traveller Tuesday: Modular Mass Transit

Still phoning it in here, as it is taking me longer than expected to recover from travel-lag and get things put away. But hey, at least this is a post.



The Modular Cutter, as players of Traveller know, is a common workhorse of the Imperium. Those who know me well know that I am especially enamored of the ungainly Lego-tech ship, as I can appreciate the efficiency and coolness factor of being able to swap out mission modules.

Image courtesy of Mirco "Riftroamer" Adam 


Plus, it kind of looks like a Sikorsky Flying Crane, and those are always cool.  I guess I just adore large gooney-bird looking craft.

Anyway, I told you all that so I could tell you this: there is a Swiss company that wants to make modular airliners.


In theory, high-capacity Clip-Air train cars, each a self-contained fuselage, can be plucked from the tracks and snapped onto a set of wings. Customers would only have to board and pass through security once — at their local train depot. Once the plane lands, the whole process happens in reverse, dropping off passengers along a train route close to their final destination.

What's more, Clip-Air is designed to fit up to three standard fuselages under a single set of wings, reducing the number of planes in the air. If only two of the three fuselages are booked by passengers, Clip-Air planes can snap on a cargo plane to keep efficiency up.

Perhaps it's just me, but I think this is amazingly cool. I hope to see something like it within my lifetime.





Home again, home again

Jiggety jig.

I had expected, foolishly, that I would have the time and ability to update my blog during the Bidet Shoot. This turned out not to be the case, as I was kept busy until Saturday evening. I even had plans to write a long Monday Gunday post about it, but today was spent unpacking and doing laundry and generally catching up on missing 4 days of family life.

So instead, I'm going to milk this sucker for as many posts as I can wring from it.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:  I had a great time.

And now, I have to do my laundry, finish cleaning my guns, and take a shower.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

On the road

Countdown to the Bidet Shoot: Day 2


At noon today I will pick up my rental car, load it, and be on the road.

I've been so busy that I haven't read my blogroll since Tuesday.

No one do anything fun until I get back, okay? And try to keep from burning the place down.



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Juggling Chainsaws

Countdown to the Bidet Shoot: Day 4

This post will be brief as I've had a hell of a day and I have to get up early tomorrow. Therefore, you get bullet points.

  • Dad's car died -- suddenly, dramatically -- last week, and so he took the entire week off while it was getting looked at this. This has increased the stress level in the house significantly as dad is one of those crotchety old Jews who isn't happy unless he's miserable and complaining. 
  • Also, it turns out he has Parkinson's. Yay.
  • Those two points came together today when mom had to drive dad to his appointment in her car, and then run errands, and she missed her nap. A napless mom is a cranky thing. 
  • Topping it off, the fellow with whom I was going to carpool up to the Bidet Shoot told me the following: I dropped off my car at the MB dealership this morning for a pre-trip oil change. The check engine light came on the other day so I told them to check that out as well, assuming I needed an O2 sensor or spark plugs or some other minor stuff. They just called to let me know the balance shaft bearings are kissed, and they're causing timing chain slap, thus the engine popped codes. Bottom line, $5,400 for the repair, and about a week. If I drive it to KY we're going to be sitting on a grenade. They can't get it fixed in time, and I'm not sure I want to dump that kind of cash into it anyway. I may have to buy a new car.
  • This is me, freaking right the fuck out. 
  • I'm usually pretty good in a crisis, but when I am stressed I cannot do any sort of math, and logistics is math over time. 
  • After having a nice freak-out, I lit the Erin Signal and tapped the Internet Hivemind for help. Got lots of good recommendations, and ended up renting a car via Priceline for $14 a day. Hopefully they'll let me use my NRA discount and coupon for a free weekend day, which would further drive down the price. 
  • The big problem is time. It's a 13 hour drive from Daytona to Land Between the Lakes, and while I could do it in one stretch, it would require me getting up at shitfuck o'clock to do so and I'm just not functional until 10am and two doses of caffeine. 
  • I think it's smarter to do the trip in two parts. I'm picking the car up at noon Thursday and I'm due in KY at 6pm Friday. 
  • It looks like Atlanta is approximately halfway in between. I have highly tentative plans to crash at a friend's place in Marietta. If any of you are in the area and don't mind being my backup plan, please leave a message. 
  • And now I'm off to bed, because tomorrow I have to do my usual volunteer work at the church, and then drive my father around town like I'm a goddamn chauffeur, and then pack like a lunatic so I will be ready for Thursday. 
  • I swear to God, if any of you assholes light my chainsaws on fire, I will fucking shoot you. 
  • ZZZzzzzzz.



I just now noticed...

... that Flower Wishes...



... is also the "Eat a Dick" pony:



MIND =  BLOWN. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Bidet Shoot, sponsored in part by...


Countdown to the Bidet Shoot:  Day 5


As I began to ponder the logistical quandaries of attending my first-ever blogshoot, I came to the undeniable conclusion that holy crap I cannot afford this. And yet, I still wanted to go. I wanted to go really, really badly. In fact, I wanted to go so badly that, out of sheer desperation, I tried something which I was certain would not work:  I asked for corporate sponsorship to attend.

But before I asked, I had a good long think about who, exactly, I should ask. I didn't want to ask a company whose products I had reviewed, because that would make it seem like they were paying me for a good review, and it might compromise my objectivity in later reviews. But I couldn't very well just ask a company who didn't know me, because the result would likely be either deafening silence or "Go away, kid, you bother us."

And then I had a notion. This notion said "Hey, Erin, you happen to know a company that likes you enough to ask you to review something, but doesn't actually make those things themselves. They're just a clearinghouse.They don't care if you like or hate the stuff they sell."  I thought this was a great idea, and so I asked Lucky Gunner for sponsorship to attend the blogshoot, figuring they would say no.

They said yes.

Look, I'm as shocked as you are.

I thought for sure they would have said "Sorry, Erin, we really don't see what's in it for us," but they didn't. Instead, I was given some money for food, gas, ammo and a hotel room. In addition, they are donating some .223 ammunition and -- get this -- an actual bidet for us to shoot.

All because I asked.

No, I still don't get how it worked.

Anyway, after I picked my jaw up from the floor, I asked what I needed to do or say to pick up my end of the deal. Did I need to blog about it? Hand out tee shirts to the participants? Otherwise debase myself in some way?

"Get us some footage of you guys blowing the crap out of the bidet," I was told. "That's all."  Apparently, "For the lulz" is an acceptable reason for a tax write-off.

So I want you all to know that me writing this, right now, is completely voluntary. The gang at Lucky Gunner has been incredibly generous to me, and has enabled a bunch of weird gunnies to realize their fetish of demolishing innocent bathroom appliances via high-caliber means. Plus they gave us ammo, which is probably worth its weight in gold at this point.

And so because of this, I'm going to be running a commercial banner for them for a while as a means of saying "Thank You."  It's the least I could do under the circumstances.

Some of you may think I've sold out. I disagree, as I've taken great pains to acquire a sponsorship that is compatible with my ethics as a blogger and a reviewer. However, I cannot stop you from thinking this way. If you truly feel I have sold out and compromised my integrity, then I direct you here.

Just had an unusual thing happen

About 30 minutes ago, the doorbell rang. Looking out the window, I saw it was an Older White Guy in a polo shirt and slack, carrying a clipboard. Usually that means "door to door salesman," probably of the lawn care or home alarm variety, so I stepped outside to answer it fully strapped.

As I've said, I carry on a regular basis, even inside the house. When I need to go outside, I just pull a shirt over the gun so as not to freak the mundanes, but when it comes to salesmen I usually OC because 1) it typically freaks them out and 2) it adds a bit of oomph to a "No thank you."

Turns it this gentleman is an investigator for DHS and my next-door neighbor needs a security clearance, and would I mind taking 10 minutes to answer some questions?

My next door neighbor is a nice guy. He works had, pulls double shifts so his wife can take college courses, and has two young children. I trust him to look after my house. I want him to get this job, so of course I say "yes."

This means I am talking to someone to DHS, while open carrying.  I know that I'm not doing anything wrong, but the reptile part of the brain is saying "Cover up! You're talking to The Man!"  The higher parts of the brain, however, are saying "Keep your goddamn hands away from the gun. Do not move to cover it. Do not adjust it. Do not even go near it. No, don't even put your hands in your pockets. Fold your arms over your chest if you don't know what to do with them."

To his credit, the DHS investigator didn't say anything, nor did he act strangely. He appeared not to have noticed, although I'm 99% certain he that he did. He carried on as if everything was completely normal.

I'm totally on That List now, aren't I?


Friday, June 14, 2013

Stink Onions!

This is an incredibly cool thing:

Chicago smells funny. 
It's the Atlas of True Names, and it takes the piss out of place names using the power of etymology. Did you know that "London" means "Unfordable River Town"? I did not. Suddenly, it seems much less posh...

You can order a map of the world, as well as higher-resolution maps of the USA, Canada, and the British Isles, with the rest of Europe coming soon.


Sadly, this appears to be a UK-based product as the prices are given in Pounds Sterling. This means you will probably pay out the nose for transatlantic shipping.

Still, it's very cool!



Thursday, June 13, 2013

Merry Zombiemas

Christmas always makes me think of zombie movies.

No, really, it does. Stop thinking about the hustle and bustle of shopping and think, instead, of silent nights. Everyone has gone to bed; streets are dark, houses quiet. And yet, lights everywhere: not enough to read by, but enough to illuminate houses and sidewalks such that a body could walk around without needing a flashlight. The odd colors cast people and buildings in strange new perspectives. And of course, the crazy shadows and shapes on lawns and roofs formed by unlit decorations. Anyone, any thing, could be out there.  Isn't the true lesson of Santa Claus "You don't know who's watching, so shut up and go to sleep"?

Christmas at night carries that unspoken "Do not wake the house" vibe. Shhh. Be quiet. Move about the house navigating only by the light of the tree and the outdoor decorations. Look outside the windows and see shapes that normally aren't there. Muse upon how it's hard to tell the difference between a house with sleeping occupants and a house that has been abandoned because of outbreak. Try not to think about that scene in 28 Days Later where Jim is watching home movies late at night in his parent's house -- a quiet, shadowed house, much like the one you're in -- when an infected bursts in through the window and attacks him.

Red. Red everywhere. Worse, red contrasted with white. It doesn't get more "blood on the snow" than that. Christmas is a celebration of life while surrounded by death -- snowstorms, bitter cold, hypothermia and starvation and death. It's an embarrassment of riches, a ritualized gorging upon food and presents while lesser animals die alone in the cold. Life is always about eating, about something dying so that another can live. Blood on the snow.

Even the poem "The Night Before Christmas" teaches us to observe noise discipline, maintain vigilance at night, and beware of strangers entering the house via unorthodox and unsecured entry points. It's a good thing Santa doesn't want to kill you all in your beds, is what I'm saying. "If you're good little boys and girls, you survive to see morning" becomes a heck of a moral.

Are jingle bells for merriment, or are they an improvised perimeter alarm? Or did someone have a relative who got bitten, and so they tried to "bell the cat"? Because they don't sound merry to my ears -- they sound frantic.

So for me, the question isn't why Christmas makes me think of zombies. The question is, why doesn't it make you think of zombies?

Guest Article: A review of "Ready Player One"

This is a guest post written by The Jack. 

Ernest Cline's Ready Player One is a future dystopian adventure story that largely takes place in a virtual world built on 80's pop culture.


Ready Player One is a world where having a detailed knowledge of Family Ties, Ladyhawke, and Q*bert is absolutely vital. It is knowledge that could save your life, make you fantastically wealthy, or let you rule two worlds: the virtual and the real.

The virtual world, OASIS, was basically created by one man: James Halliday. Halliday grew up in the 80's and naturally was an awkward geeky genius. Thus he made a virtual world that ended up taking over all entertainment, communication, business, and education.

And with the real world a shambling mess, OASIS is used for everything, not only to save money but also because OASIS is the only stable institution left. Whomever controls OASIS controls the world.

This made Halliday a sort of de facto benevolent dictator at least until he died. And in true 80's fashion, there was a will, a challenge, and a contest.

You see, Halliday left clues, Easter Eggs, in his game. Whoever finds them all gets control of his company.

Yes: A videogame Easter Egg hunt where you decode 80's esoterica to gain control of, well, everything. As mentioned before: control OASIS, control the world. As you can guess, the main characters, both protagonists and antagonists, are all searching for these clues.

Interest in the contest sparked a huge 80's resurgence, explaining why people in 2044 are into 80's pop culture.

The main character is Wade Watts, a young man nearing the end of high school. He lives in a future trailer park ghetto. The future version is even worse because the trailers are stacked atop each other.

He has a few friends, all in OASIS, and part of the Egg Hunter culture. But the biggest hurtle in Wade's quest is his crushing poverty which limits the worlds he can explore and how he can level up.

OASIS may be a perfectly running and idealized boon to a humanity in its twilight days, but it's gotta make money somehow. And it does this by charging players when they travel to different parts of the game.

Okay. The protagonists are a ragtag bunch of young people who have a lot of heart and want to prove themselves.

So what are the bad guys? A rich corporation that wants to take over OASIS, of course.

If OASIS and Halliday represent benevolent corporatism, then IOI, Innovative Online Industries, is fascist corporatism. The interesting part is that IOI really is a bunch of imperialistic, corporate slavers with a plan to take over the world

That they don't simply bribe government officials or hack into the OASIS servers to find the secret that way is a bit of a glaring question, but... Halliday was just that good I suppose.

This ties into the worst part of the book: flat antagonists.

Sure, IOI is bad, believably so. As the story unfolds, we learn to just what depths IOI will sink. At first, the reader may be inclined to think that Wade's complaints against them are the standard gripes against Big Evil Business.

But no, IOI really is monstrous. However, the people working for IOI are interchangeable cookie cutter villains. Only the main big bad has any distinguishing personality, and that's minimal.

I suppose, however, that the antagonists are a minor part. The story is about decoding a rich eccentric's posthumous mystery to win a giant inheritance, and doing so in a wild simulated universe dripping in 80's and geek culture.

An interesting aspect of the story is the stark contrast between the real world and the game world.

In the real world there is peak oil, global warming, war, plagues, mass starvation (even in North America), economic implosions, government collapse, neo-serfdom, and brigandry.

Yes, brigands. If you leave the "safety" of the cities you have to travel in armored bus convoy. Otherwise you'll be attacked by bandits. The book does a fair job of showing just how dire the consequences are of running out of even remotely affordable power. This is also where the book stumbles because while society is on the brink of collapse.... the network connections don't go down.

Meanwhile in the game world, you can watch whatever movie you want, read whatever book you want, play whatever game you want, and learn whatever you want. You and your friends can also fly around in the Serenity with Space Marine Armor and light sabers and green lantern rings.

And that is the book's biggest handwave. How did OASIS get the IP rights to everything?

The book also explores the effects an immersive virtual world would have on society. For example: OASIS gutted public education by offering an in-game telepresence system. Instead of sending your kids to a real school, they plug into a virtual one.

The teachers have admin powers and can thus control the learning environment. Yeah, the best parts of homeschooling and private schooling. All in high contrast with how public schools work within the book's real world. Imagine the worst of an inner city school today and have it be even more crippled and bloated.

The whole book is a treasure trove of geek references and humor. You can feel the enjoyment. Ernest Cline had great fun writing this book and he wants to share it with the reader.

The book even manages to maintain drama when the bulk of the action is in a simulated environment. What's makes dying dramatic when you're just in a simulation?

I won't say how the book manages to make actions in OASIS have consequence, but it is well thought-out. And no, there is no Matrix-style "Injuries in the game happen in the real world."

There is also a good exploration of "Who you are in VR" versus "Who you are in real life". Recall that the protagonist has not met any of his friends in the real world.

In addition to the villains being too flat, Halliday's company is... too good. OASIS is never directly subverted. Its employees can't be bribed. Its servers aren't hacked. And its lawyers can keep the government (any government) from taking over.

In the story, OASIS is presented as more of an alternate universe than a virtual world. It is something to claim, something that just exists, not something that was built by human hands.

However much of the drama in the story lies in how fleeting this all is. OASIS is only an oasis because of Halliday. If anyone else took over then they could rule the virtual world like a tyrant. Which underscores the problem, the one refuge in a world heading to destruction will fall into the hands of the best Pac-Man player. No, I'm not exaggerating.

Still, the plot has a clear direction and unfolds well with increased risk and drama. And of course the setting is extremely amusing.

If you're a fan of the 80's or geek culture, you may want to give this a go.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Father's Day Camping Deals

I don't normally post ads on my blog, but my review of camping stoves (including the Kelly Kettle) is a favorite among my readers, and I know many of you folks are into camping/hiking/backpacking. Make sure to use these discount codes before the 16th of this month!



One Year of Concealed Carry

I can't believe I almost missed this, but about two weeks ago was my one-year anniversary of getting my concealed carry permit.


Since that time, I have carried for about 8-12 hours a day, every day.  I started carrying at home before I got the permit in order to accustom myself to the weight on my hip, so that when I carried in public I wouldn't be fidgeting and walking funny. After that, I got used to the weight and just kept carrying because it felt good.

"Felt good" in more ways that one:  there is also a health benefit to carrying. You see, I like to sleep on my left side, and as a result my right hip is usually cocked upward. This mis-aligns my pelvis and gives me posture problems. However, after I started carrying my chiropractor noted that my pelvis was doing much better. More importantly, I felt better. It turns out that a loaded Glock 26 weighs just enough to gradually pull my right hip down into position!

Carrying a pistol gives me peace of mind and chiropractic relief. What's not to love?

Anyway, here are some pictures of my carry rig after a full year of use.


My knife, Tamara, and my Glock, Oleg. Both belt and holster are made by Michael's Custom Holsters, and they're holding up exceptionally well after a year of constant use. You may notice that the belt is slightly warped, but that's to be expected; it has nicely molded itself to my contours and is now very comfortable to wear.


The reverse is a little schmutzy from constantly being worn against my skin (I bathe regularly, honest!) but other than that it's also in fine shape. 


The suede lining has gotten a bit crushed from constantly being on my hip, but other than appearance it's still fine. No wearing, no tearing, no coming unglued, and is still comfortable to wear in the Florida heat & humidity.


This is about the worst thing I can say about the holster:  One day while I was driving to Orlando, the seatbelt buckle (which normally sits at about belt level) managed to work its way underneath and rub away some of the design. Naturally, I was heartbroken about this, but I recall Michael telling me that he wasn't sure how long the design would last because he'd never made anything like this before.  Aesthetics aside, there is nothing wrong with the holster; the buckle just wore away the color and design but didn't damage the actual leather at all.


So there you have it:  after a full year of carrying concealed, my holster shows some wear, my belt is a bit warped, and my hips have better alignment.*



* True Neutral, as opposed to their previous Chaotic Evil.

Friday, June 7, 2013

I have been Ponified!

Meet Powder Flash, my alter ego (and pony version of the huntress picture to your upper left), expertly drawn by the unsinkable Joie Brown herself!

Joie is running a deal where she will draw a ponysona of your choice for only $15, but act now! There are only 5 slots left!

Email her at brown.joie@gmail.com to reserve a slot along with a description of what you want your design to be. Larger/more complicated designs may cost more, but consultation is free!



Powder Flash is Ponyville's resident expert on all things that go bang!  She mixes various explosive powders for use in fireworks, construction, and Pinkie Pie's party cannon.  She uses her ponykinesis to manipulate the precision tools of her trade, and her unicorn magic (which is gunmetal gray in color) allows her to operate in perfect safety by neutralizing combustion until she's ready to try out her custom mixtures. Then, with a touch of her unicorn "powder horn,"  she can set off a a show to amaze and delight her friends!

Yes, I just made a pony that mixes gunpowder and makes firecrackers and other explosives. If you think that she might also have a black-powder rifle in her cottage that she shoots via ponykinesis...  well, you'd be right. ;)

I will stat her up for Unknown Ponies soon!  :D

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Traveller: a Class E Starport

A frontier installation (Class E) is just a bare spot of bedrock, marked with a beacon, and is a starport in the most technical sense only.
-- Traveller Main Rulebook, p.178, Mongoose Edition

Due to my prepper nature, I am a big fan of the survival shows that appear on Discovery and National Geographic channel. One of these that I am currently enjoying is called Life Below Zero, and it deals with people who live near the Arctic Circle in Alaska.

One of these people, Sue Aikins, runs the Kavik River Camp, which is a combination weather station, satellite relay, airfield, and base camp for hunting, fishing, and exploring. It's 100 miles from the nearest road and 500 miles from the nearest city (Fairbanks), and 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

It's also an excellent example of a Class E starport for Traveller.


If you squint a bit and use your imagination, the Quonset-hut looking things (they're actually tents) could be half-buried modular cutter modules, and the trailers (which I think are for guests during the summer months) could be conex shipping containers.

This image appears courtesy of Mirco at Traveller Illustrated

Let's look at what constitutes a Class E starport:
  • Quality:  Frontier.  Well, obviously. 
  • Berthing Cost: Zero.  Once you've landed, you just park your craft on the grass somewhere. 
  • Fuel: None.  Kavik actually does have aviation fuel, but only in small amounts for bush planes. These would be considered "small craft" at best in Traveller rules - certainly there isn't enough to fuel a 100 ton starship. 
  • Facilities: None.  In this case, "facilities" means "capability to build or repair ships or small craft." Sue might have some tools nearby she could lend you to help with whatever engine problems you might have, but nothing like a mechanic's shop. 
  • Bases: Pirate 12+.  Not to disparage Sue at all, but I could easily see a place like this being used to service smugglers and the like. 

No, it really isn't much more than a bare patch of ground...


Super cub departing Kavik River Camp in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge


... with a beacon and a hut for the Starport Administrator.


Galley at Kavik River Camp in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

WNW: The Taxman Dumbeth

I think there's one thing that we all -- liberals and conservatives, democrats and republicans, and all points in-between -- can agree upon, and that is our mutual hatred of the Tax Man.

From the Daily Show.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Brief Word on Basic Human Courtesy

Sit down and be quiet; Auntie Erin is going to lay some wisdom on you.


Let's say your name is Bob. You introduce yourself to someone as "Hi, I'm Bob." That person says, "Nice to meet you, Juliet."

You say, "Um, no. My name isn't Juliet. It's Bob. I'm a man."

That person goes "Whatever you say, Julie, you're still going to be a girl to me. Have you thought about wearing more makeup, though? Your face looks terrible. You'll never attract a husband that way."

By now, you'd be getting upset right?  "Look, I told you. My name is Bob. I am a man. I am not interested in wearing makeup or attracting a husband. I have a girlfriend and I'm quite happily heterosexual."

And that person says "No matter what you say, I'm still going to treat you like a woman because that's what you are. You're just deluding yourself if you think otherwise. Maybe you need a real man to straighten you out, eh?"


Gentle readers, if you were in this situation, I would fully support you if you decided to punch that asshole right in the face. It is, to use the vernacular, fucking rude, yo, to disagree with someone as to what name they have and what gender they are.

Are we all in agreement on this?  Good. Now we can get to the "why" of this post.

This is Christopher Todd Beck. He is a SEAL with over 20 years of experience. He's been deployed seven times, and has earned (among other awards) a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star with Valor. He is braver than 90% of us will ever be.


This is Kristin Beck. She used to be Chris Beck. She served her country valiantly, and when she retired from the Navy, she decided to transition to the woman she knew that she always was. She still earned all those medals, and she is still braver than 90% of us ever will be.

Do you get what I am saying here?  Let me spell it out for you, just in case: You are entitled to have an opinion about this, but by God, you will call this woman by her proper name. This isn't PC-ness; this is basic, entry-level human courtesy.

If you're one of those people who says "I don't care what he does to himself, he's still a man" -- well, I'm glad you have an opinion. I will even defend your right to say it aloud. But I, and a bunch of other folks, will take you to task for your rudeness, and if someone gets punched in the face for being a jerk... well, you had it coming.

Want to support this lady?  Buy her book. 



Lesson over.



Monday, June 3, 2013

Monday Gunday: Some Bullet Points

See what I did there?

Point One:  It's official, I am indeed going to the Bidet Shoot. I will talk about this more in another post, but I want to assure everyone that, barring tragedy, I'm going to be there (and God have pity on you for that). I've got hotel reservations, I've got my carpool lined up, I've got offers of extra ammo... THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING. 


Point Two:  Someone has finally painted (well, stained actually) a Mosin-Nagant pink, and despite my threats, it wasn't me.

The proper name for this color is "Cherry Blossom," and it can be found at Lowe's. 

This absolutely lovely piece of work (and I mean that sincerely, not sarcastically!) was made by a fellow named Gordon Heying specifically for his wife. He did it to "infect" her with Mosin-itis. Well done sir!


Point Three:  Friday before last, I took a 12 year old boy shooting for the first time. He's a friend of the family, and is of the age where he is taking an interest in things like girls and guns. I can't help him with the first, but I could with the second, and his parents trust me enough to take him without going along themselves.  This is more important than it sounds, because the mom is very gun-phobic, and so I'd have to work around his father's schedule if there was to be parental supervision (as well as the awkwardness of "Well, I can pay his range fee, but not yours.")

Anyway, this was a big deal for me, and I was honored and flattered. On the drive up to the range I made sure that my little buddy knew the Rules of Gun Safety, and I briefed him on how the range worked. I also made sure he knew that the Range Safety Officers were to be OBEYED.  Since he is a Catholic, I used the analogy "Listen to them like you would a priest in a church."

I needn't have bothered. This kid was on the ball.   I expected a certain amount of horsing around or not paying attention, but he was 100% focused and professional. The muzzle never ever went anywhere other than downrage, he listened to all range orders, and was generally fantastic. I would trust this 12 year old with a firearm more readily than I would many adults I know.

We started with my .22 pistol at 7 yards. I showed him how to load it, how to do a Weaver stance, how to hold it, the whole thing. POP POP POP, all shots in the black. Then, once he figured out how to aim it properly, he got down to some serious shooting and made multiple bullseyes.

I decided he needed a bit more of a challenge so he wouldn't get bored, so I repaired the target and moved to the 15 yard line. This was more difficult for him (naturally), but soon enough he was breathing properly and squeezing off shots. The boy is far less jumpy-fidgety than I, and what he lacks in experience he makes up for in concentration and steadiness of hands.

The day was getting late, so we put the pistol away, moved to the 25 yard line, and brought out my .22 bolt-action rifle. Again, I showed him how it worked and set him up.  This is after about 100 rounds, using a bipod and a scope at 3x magnification.



That is one hell of a shot group, folks. That's great for an experienced shooter, and for a first-timer it's astounding. Hell, I didn't shoot that well the first time! If he can just shift that group half an inch left, he will be amazing.

I'm not even jealous that he's going to shoot better than me one day. I'm just going to claim partial credit for being his instructor and take pride from that.


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