Seein’ the Doc

Since nobody in DC has been able to forward any kind of plan that doesn’t cut into their campaign funding from Big Insurance, I thought I would put forward my plan to address several issues related to national healthcare and put a nice bow on top. Feel free to add your thoughts, just remember this is a family-friendly blog, so keep things polite and constructive.

Issue 1: Myth: “Doctors make too Damned much money.”
They also carry a ton of student debt, malpractice insurance, and other peripheral costs associated with being in practice. All of this gets passed to the consumer/health insurers.

Issue 2: We don’t have enough doctors, nurses, and other health professionals to go around. this especially impacts rural communities and inner-city areas.

Issue 3: Citizens lack access to healthcare.

(Before people start spouting off about this plan being limited to Citizens, let’s face the fact that there is only just so much to go around, and our Citizens MUST come first, last, and always. When I visit other countries as a tourist, I must provide proof of medical insurance in order to get a visa. Just because I get a work permit in another country, I am not automatically eligible for non-emergency healthcare. Let’s be FAIR about this.)

Solution 1 & 2: Anyone that goes to medical school and obtains their state mandated license as a physician, nurse practitioner, RN, LVN, etc, etc ad nausea can volunteer to be assigned to work in a Federal Healthcare Outlet (FHO) that generally mimics the form of a Quack Shack/Minor Emergency clinic. All licensed medical and mental health practitioners are eligible to participate in the FHO program.

In exchange for their employment, an FHO practitioner will be paid a flat salary of $50,000 per year for Doctors (MD or MSW in the case of Social workers), $45,000 per year for everyone else so they can keep body and soul together. In addition to this, the government will forgive $25,000 of student debt per year worked, and cover the costs of the practitioner’s malpractice insurance.

FHO practitioners can receive free treatment through the FHO system or VA hospital system.

Solution 3: These FHOs can be put up wherever they are needed, and will offer the medical services required to cover 80% of the services required by the public. This brings healthcare to the places where people need it, and makes qualified practitioners available in all areas.

FHO staff members will be assigned to an FHO location based on local needs, and relocation assistance will be provided in the same form that military relocation services are handled.

The cost of medical services through the FHO will be based on the patient’s Federal Income Tax bracket using a percentage of annual income as reported in the last year. (Easily accessible since this is a Federal facility. I’m sure some smart programmers can set this up for less than $10,000 and keep it HIPPA compliant. In fact I know several people who could do this in their sleep.)

Medicaid and Medicare recipients are handled under their existing benefits schedule.
Veterans can access services through their local FHO the same way they can through the VA.

The upshot of this plan is a Citizen only needs to carry insurance policies for catastrophic medical events, and if they choose to, they can carry long-term disability/care. This eliminates the personal mandate that so many find objectionable, and makes care universally available without all of the fraud and graft associated with medical insurers.

People (Citizens and Non-citizens) who want to carry their own insurance, and employers who wish to offer coverage to their employees are free to do so.

A Journey of a Thousand Words

By Michael Morgan

All Rights Reserved

 

One of my coworkers (Yes, most authors write as a side hustle.) asked me how my novel is progressing. After I shared my news, he said, “I’ve always wanted to write a book. Maybe one day when I have the time…” I stopped him right there because the “Maybe one day…” sentiment is the omnipresent excuse for people who like to fantasize about becoming a writer. My advice to him was to start small.

You have a story you want to tell, so tell it. Just do not think you have to tell it in 300+ pages. Pick your character, and think about this like a Kung Fu movie.

  1. Something happens to your character that forces them to take action.
  2. Along the way the character meets “The Master” that teaches them the skills necessary to deal with their problem, or some boon companion who helps them along the way.
  3. Something happens to remove “The Master” sending the character off with renewed determination to resolve the problem.

Next, tell the story in small bites. I’ve chosen 1,000 words as a reasonable “bite” because that is the number of words I can easily write on a daily basis. This bite gives me space to have some character interaction, describe some action, and set up the next bite. The end of one bite sets up the beginning of the next bite, and gradually, the story comes out. If I get on a hot streak and the energy is really flowing, Great! Groovy! Yeehaw! I don’t stop working until I can write the set up for the next bite. If I write 3,000 words in a sitting, fine with me. If I feel like I am writing crap, I put it aside and think about the story for a while. The characters will wait.

The person who is going to be most critical of your work, and do their best to talk you out of writing your story will be yourself. Nobody can judge the value of your material until you have written it and taken the emotional plunge of sharing it with others.

Give yourself the chance to be great! If writing is not your thing, you will find out pretty quick, and cross it off your bucket list knowing you gave it your best shot.

Some odds and ends to think about:

  • “Write the types of things you enjoy reading.” ~ Stephen King
  • Write what you know about, but feel free to change the setting. The movie “Outland” with Sean Connery was the story “High Noon” set in outer space.
  • Stories can be set almost anywhere because the interaction of the characters is independent of the location. The location just adds flavor. Star Trek has the same story structure as the old TV show Wagon Train. Deep Space 9 was Gunsmoke.
  • What happens before the story starts is important even if those events never appear in the story. Those events shaped the character making them who they are. Sometimes these formative events can help you resolve a problem when you write yourself into a corner, and need a clean escape. This deserves serious thought.
  • Set the hook early by giving the reader a reason to care about the character. If nobody cares about the character, nobody will care about the story. Read the stories that are most popular and try to figure out why you care about every character. Then pay attention to what happens to each one. Nobody cares when the generic Imperial Stormtrooper gets blasted, but when Gold Leader crashes into the Death Star, a character the audience has known for all of 90 seconds of screen time triggers an emotional reaction. Why?
  • Let other people read your work and provide feedback. Listen to them. Think about it like market research. You do not have to make changes based on everything your readers say, but the input is invaluable, and can spark new ideas.
  • The world is awash in people who will “teach” you how to write the next best seller. Some of the information is OK. Most of it is garbage. Very expensive garbage. Be critical of “the Master” you choose. Many aspiring authors get so bogged down in “learning to write”, they never actually write their story, and that is a guaranteed loss.

Only one thing can make you a writer. You have to WRITE. Famous writers would not be famous if they had not written something down and given it to someone else to read.

Start with a 1,000 word bite, and write something. When you are done, let it rest overnight, and then go take out every word that does not help the story move forward. This may require you to rewrite some bits. That is good exercise for trimming out useless words as you write. Hand your work to a friend who is interested in the type of story you have written, and listen to their input. Wash, rinse, repeat.

This link goes to a story I wrote for a short story contest:

Three Righteous Souls – A short story (The beginning)

After I posted it to my blog, the feedback I received lead to 14 more installments, each about 1,000 words. The first installment came in at 1,022 words.

What does the Golden Mean?

“All successful design must appeal to the eye and mind by meeting some natural, instinctive set of standards. All objects, whether simple tools or fine art, can be a thing of beauty or somehow disturbing, either unified wholes or an assembly of details in conflict with itself. Design is the art of unifying contrasts and making a whole of diversity.” ~ Barry C. Bohnet. Journal of Historical Arms Making Technology*, June 1987 Volume 2.

I first read Mr. Bohnet’s article around 1985 when I started shooting black powder rifles. What kept this article in memory is the excellent explanation of the Golden Mean as it applies to firearm design.

The Golden Mean is an ancient description of proportion in shapes and forms that mimic naturally occurring forms. The most common example is probably the spiral of a snail shell or a chambered nautilus.

Nautilus

That spiral just “looks right” in a pleasing way.

When applied to artifacts, this proportion produces a shape pleasing to the eye, and turning something utilitarian into something beautiful. The same principle can be applied to ornamentation with equally pleasing results. In mathematical terms, the Golden Mean is a ratio of 1.628:1, but the classic craftsman just did it by eye and intuition.

All of this came to mind recently while browsing my local gun store. I happened to notice the guns I was spending the most time admiring, were the older models. Revolvers of course, but also the semi-automatics. The impulse to handle and perhaps purchase was significantly stronger when I was looking at a 1911 regardless of manufacturer, and I was pretty much ignoring the offerings from Glock and Springfield Armory EXCEPT for the Springfield Armory 1911s.

Most people would dismiss this as me buying into the mystique and romance of the 1911, but I felt like this was something else, and I realized it was the lack of curves and flowing lines on the modern pistols that I find unattractive.

Compare these pictures:

1911Glock

The 1911 (top) sure is fancy. Lots of nice engraving and pretty doodads on the stocks.

The Pistols from Glock (middle) and HK (bottom) have a few curves. Just enough to make them fit the human hand, but the 1911 has curves all over it. Why? The purpose of all three objects is identical, and all three guns have excellent reputations for their effectiveness, but the curves makes the 1911 much more aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Even this old warrior from 1918 still has elegance and charm because of those few extra curves.

wwi_1911

The same thing has happened to revolvers.

We started with the beautiful fluidity of Colt’s 1860 Army, and the curves continued all of the way to the present day. Then Chiappa released the Rhino, and functional but ugly had arrived.

 

 

From everything I have read, the Chiappa Rhino is an excellent firearm that fires the cartridge in the bottom chamber of the cylinder instead on the one at the top. The net effect is the shooter experiences less muzzle flip. One day I hope to get the chance to try one out, but as long as Smith & Wesson are producing beauties like this Performance Center 627, I don’t think I’ll be adding “modern art” to my safe.

 

SW687

 

*Journal of Historical Arms Making Technology is an annual publication by Western Kentucky University and the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association

The Lost Traveler – Stick it to ‘em!

As a martialist, I have been watching the evolution of terrorist tactics and weapons with some intensity considering my love of going walkabout.

One of the greatest challenges for the law abiding citizen of our little green planet is having an effective means to defend oneself and companions close to hand at all times. This one thing alone, and above all others, is why I still live in the U.S. Frankly speaking, I take more grief from troglodytes of “The Swamp” than I have ever taken from any other government, or government official, on the planet. If the dark time should come to pass where my shootin’ irons are outlawed, it will no longer matter where I hang my hat.

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Since most places outside of the U.S. have some pretty severe restrictions on firearm ownership, and outright ban the carry of handguns for visitors, the “best” option in personal protection is off the table. Now that the Brits, and other EUnuchs, have legislated knives out of common use, (Except for the muzzy terrorists of course. We must be tolerant ol’ boy!), we are now back to humankind’s first tool, THE STICK!

I say the “first tool” because sticks and plant stalks are commonly used by the great apes as tools.

Jane Goodall observed chimpanzees “fishing” for termites using sticks.

Modern observation by Josep Call and colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Germany, indicates chimpanzees in the Republic of Congo using a specialized toolkit intended for termite fishing. The apes used one type of strong stick to penetrate above ground termite mounds, and a different type of stick for opening underground nests. These chimps also developed a more efficient fishing pole by chewing one end of the stick to separate the wood fibers creating a “paintbrush” on the end of the stick. This spray of finer fibers allows the termites to get a better grip, so more insects are captured each time the fishing stick goes down the hole.

Other researchers have noted Congolese chimpanzees show a strong preference for specific types of plants to make their fishing kit. They choose specific types of wood and carry it to the termite mound instead of picking stems from plants near the mounds.

Professor William McGrew of the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies, University of Cambridge, UK, studied chimps living in the Nimba Mountains of Guinea, Africa. He observed a band using stone and wood tools against natural stone outcroppings to smash hard fruits into manageable pieces.

Over the centuries, the stick has remained a primary tool and weapon for people across the planet.

With increased restrictions on the law abiding, and the increased viciousness of those trying to harm those same law abiding people, the stick is coming back as a viable option for self-defense.

The Asian martial arts are well known as sources for training in the use of the staff and cane in combat. Probably the best known are the Philippine arts Kali/Escrima/Arnis (They are really the same art. The names reflect regional differences.) They have a heavy focus on stick fighting that translates well to the walking stick or cane.

Lesser known are the European arts:

H.C. Holt comments on staff fatalities in Robin Hood’s own county:

In the 103 cases of murder and manslaughter presented to the coroners of Nottinhamshire between 1485 and 1558 the staff figured in 53, usually as the sole fatal weapon. The sword, in contrast, accounted for only 9 victims and 1 accidental death.” 1

Organizations like HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) are resurrecting the classic treatises and practical application of the Western masters.

Even Sherlock Holmes got in on the act through the practice of Bartitsu. This was Britain’s modern mixed martial art created by E. W. Barton-Wright. Bartitsu combined techniques from Jiujitsu, Pugilism, Savate, and stick fighting into a comprehensive self-defense system.

 

The walking stick, cane, and umbrella  are common items that attract very little official attention that would prevent a traveler from being armed almost anywhere in the world. Due to the ravages of age and infirmity, it is almost impossible of legislate these items out of existence.

A person with a bit of training and real-life practice can really turn the tables on an assailant armed with a knife or club. Best of all a cane leaves no “fingerprints” to bring trouble to a person who exercises self-defense in places (UK) where forcibly disagreeing with the plans of one’s murderer has negative legal repercussions. Recall the battle cry raised during the London bridge attack: “Run Hide, Tell!”

I’ll bet them muzzy wankers were quaking in their sandals.

For those without easy access to a martial arts school or HEMA chapter, a number of books on cane and stick fighting are available. Make sure to get at least one partner to practice with, and “All Weapon” fencing masks are a MUST!

Broadsword and Singlestick:: With Chapters On Quarter-Staff, Bayonet, Cudgel, Shillelagh, Walking-Stick, Umbrella, and Other Weapons of Self-Defense
Raising Cane – The Unexpected Martial Art

A martialist, regardless of discipline, should also take in the Principles of Personal Defense by Jeff Cooper. It frames the issues of self-defense very clearly.

Stay safe out there!

Three Righteous Souls – Part 14

By Michael Morgan

Copyright 2016 All Rights Reserved

 

— 14 —

 

“What say there Texas?”

Marty spun around looking for the voice. He’d just been cursing himself for a fool for taking advice from the old man at the gas station. Just go down the road a mile, and turn on the dirt road to the end. Now he was who knows where standing in a grove of trees waiting on some stranger to show up, and he had no idea why or what for.

The old man stepped out from behind a tree, and walked over, “Hi, I’m Tom.”

Marty took the offered hand, “Marty. Am I glad to see you? I was beginning to think I was an idiot.”

“Not today.” Tom opened the thermos he was carrying, and offered the cup to Marty “Cold water?”

“That would be great.” Tom poured and Marty drained the cup before handing it back.

Tom refilled it, “I’m sorry about sending you off the beaten path, but I wanted Camille at the gas station to think you’d gone toward Montgomery.”

“Why does that matter?” Marty handed the cup back and waved off the refill, so Tom poured for himself and drank.

“What did she tell you when you talked to her?” Tom capped the thermos, and stood it on the truck’s hood.

Marty looked disgusted, “The bitch wouldn’t sell me no gas. Said it was for official use only. I offered her ten dollars a gallon, and I begged her, but nuthin’ doin’.”

“Don’t be too hard on Camille,” Tom turned to lean his backside against the fender. “Apparently she’s getting orders from the Feds care o’ our local Sheriff. She just told me the same thing, and that I had to get a Sam’s card in order to buy groceries from now on.”

“That’s weird,” Marty too leaned against the truck. “She didn’t say anything about a Sam’s card to me.”

“Because you’re not a local.” Tom craned his neck to look back along the dirt road for a moment at the sound of a car on the highway, “Way I understand it, you have to be a local to get the goodies, and anyone who’s not local is a refugee. Refugees get arrested and turned over to FEMA.”

Marty nodded in understanding, “Which is why we’re standin’ in this nice shady spot talkin’.” At Tom’s nod he continued, “So you have some gas, and want to make some money.”

“I heard money’s no good anymore,” Tom stirred the dirt with the toe of his boot.  “Can’t buy a thing with it. Nor credit cards.”

Marty looked crestfallen, “So what do we do?”

“In times like this we fall back on ancient traditions,” Tom smiled. “And we do a little horse trading.”

“OK,” Marty brightened. “You know what I need. What do you need?”

Tom turned serious, “Information to start with. Not bullshit. Hard facts.”

Marty nodded acceptance.

“Once I have the information, I may ask you to help me out with a chore.” Tom paused, “Still interested?”

“I can’t say until I hear about this chore of yours,” Marty pushed back his ball cap. “I can’t get mixed up in anything illegal.”

Tom nodded, “Fair enough. The information is worth five gallons of gas to me. Can we start there?”

“Ask away,” Marty offered. “I can’t go nowhere without at least that much.”

Tom thought for a moment, “Where are you coming from?”

“Killeen, Texas.”

“They got electricity?

“Naw. The city is dark. Just the Army base has juice.”

“Why are you running?”

“Running? What makes you think I’m running?”

“Nothing in your truck bed but air, and no bags in the cab. You travel awful light for a man who ain’t running”

“I’m going to my folks in Virginia. Dad was a Marine Sergeant Major stationed at Quantico before he retired. Mom liked the area so they stayed.”

“So what made you leave Texas?”

“Shit is breakin’ loose all over down there since the lights went out. Gangs shootin’ everything up. People lootin’. It’s bad.”

“Isn’t the Army doing anything?”

“One o’ my buddies who’s in the Army called me the day after the lights went out. He said the base was on lockdown, and orders had come down to move everything that wasn’t nailed down. He offered to fill my truck if I hurried. I drove over near the base, but I couldn’t find him. When I tried to go home to pack, things were already starting to come apart, so I just drove out with what I had in my pockets.”

“So how did you end up way out here?”

“The radio was still workin’, and Dallas sounded as bad as what I left, so I headed to Tyler to pick up 20 to Shreveport where I ran out of gas the first time.  I worked for a fella for a few days in exchange for some gas, and I got back on the road. Every time I tried to turn north off I-20, it was blocked off, so I kept going east. I ran out of gas the second time near Jackson, and that ol’ boy like to worked me to death for a week fifteen gallons. Now I’m here.” Marty picked up the thermos and eyebrowed for permission. At Tom’s nod, he uncapped and poured.

Tom waited until Marty had finished drinking, “How many places did you pass that had power?”

“Not many. It was hard to tell because I drove mostly durin’ the day. When I was stopped, only folks with generators had power.”

“Did you see any transformer stations?”

“You mean the burned out ones?”

Tom nodded, “You passed ours over by the gas station.”

“Almost every town had some kind of big fires. I could see the smoke from the highway. Some of the stations along the road were burned.” Marty offered the cup to Tom who declined, so he poured the last and sipped it, “That mean something special?”

Tom scratched his nose, “I’m not sure yet. Did the radio say anything about Washington?”

“Just the national emergency declaration and the usual about how FEMA will be chargin’ over the hill any day now. Lost the radio crossin’ into Mississippi, so I don’t know much after that.”

“You said the riots started the day after the lights went out.”

“Yeah, that’s about right.”

“Riots all over, or just in spots?”

“Defensive-Size”… (0.o)!?

On page 64 of the April 2017 issue of American Rifleman Magazine, Editor in Chief Mark A. Keffe IV dropped an interesting new term, “defense-size”, on the shooter’s lexicon. In this case, Mr. Keefe was referring to Colt’s relaunch of their Cobra .38 Special revolver.

colt_Cobra

[Image courtesy of American Rifleman]

I find the term “defense-size” interesting because it implies a purpose defined application much like the dreaded term “assault rifle” that bears little connection to reality, so let’s examine the notion of “Defense-size” revolvers to see if sense can be made of this concept.

Since today’s topic is “Defense-size” revolvers, we will ignore the single-shot muzzle loading pocket pistols that predate Colt’s Paterson revolvers from 1835.

All of the pistols in this photo have been carried and used for defense. This collection is far from complete, but the firearms pictured represent a sufficient sampling for this discussion.

Defense-Sized_Compare

From the top:

Colt’s 1860 Army revolver – A pistol commonly used during the War of Southern Independence, and on the western frontier. This specimen has a 7” barrel. The 1860 Army was an evolution of Colt’s 1851 Navy which was of similar size and also sported a 7” tube.

Starr revolver – The third most common handgun used by Yankee forces, and one of the few double-action revolvers to be procured by the US War Dept. during the 1860s.

Remington 1858 New Army revolver – This revolver was second to the Colt’s 1851 Navy and 1860 Army revolvers in total numbers purchased by the US War Dept. during the 1960s. Originally issued with a 7 1/2” or 8” barrel, this specimen sports a 5 ½” barrel representing a post-war trend toward shorter barrels commonly referred to as a “sheriff’s model”.

Ruger Super Blackhawk – A modern revolver loosely patterned after the Colt’s Single Action Army that served the US military from 1873 until almost 1900. This pistol has a 4 5/8” barrel, a length sold for civilian use, making it quite easy to carry in a belt or shoulder holster.

Many .22 and .32 caliber revolvers were manufactured by Smith & Wesson as their Model 1 and Model 2 respectively during the 19th century. These diminutive revolvers are represented here for scale by the Ruger Bearcat, a lightweight .22 rimfire pistol sporting a 4” barrel.

During first 75 years of the 20th Century, the most common pistol carried by uniformed police officers were revolvers with 4, 5, or 6” barrels. During this same period, 2-3” barrel “snubnose” versions of the standard duty pistols were introduced. The snubnose revolver is represented here by the Ruger SP101 and the S&W J-frame. (Hat tip to my Mrs. for the loan of her Ladies’ Home Companion with the purty pink stocks.) The snubnose fulfilled the role of providing a compact weapon that could be hidden away by the line cop to be used in case he was disarmed by accident or criminal action. Detectives and administrators took to the snubby in droves because it offered convenient concealment, and was more comfortable to wear.

Just for size comparison, I threw in a Kel-Tec P11 compact 9mm that approximates the size of most semi-automatics popular with those who carry concealed handguns today. Just looking at the picture, a definite trend toward smaller weapons is pretty obvious.

Of course, “smaller” can only go just so far when the gun is chambered for a cartridge suitable for defense. On a revolver, the cylinder and frame immediately surrounding the cylinder are pretty much fixed in size by the dimension of the cartridge, so in order to get “smaller” a few design modifications can be made to reduce overall dimensions and weight. First, the grip frame can be rounded in profile and reduced in size and thinner stock panels can be installed. Second, the barrel can be shortened resulting in the classic 2” snubnose style. Third, the diameter of the cylinder can be reduced by lowering the number of chambers.

In the early days, factories churned out models with full size frames and short barrels. The demand for these pistols was so great a specialty industry sprang up to meet the demand.

J.H. Fitzgerald worked for Colt, and he developed a customization package for Colt’s double action revolvers that became known as the Fitz’s Specials.

Fitz_Special

[Image courtesy of American Rifleman]

Fitzgerald also worked as a police trainer, and his book “Shooting” is worth reading.

While any revolver can be made into a snubby simply by installing a barrel less than 3” in length, the best known example of the archetype are Colt’s Detective Special (an ancestor of the Colt’s Cobra pictured above) and Smith & Wesson’s Chief’s Special 

These two guns were the gold standard for snubnose revolvers until the wonder-nines started taking over police holsters in the 1980s, followed by increasingly compact 9mm pistols. Now things may be changing. Much like ladies’ fashions, revolvers are coming back, and from some unexpected sources.

2017 has been graced by the return of Colt’s Cobra.

The big surprise of 2016 was the K6, a new 2” .357 Magnum revolver from Kimber.

Another 2016 surprise were the mid-size “duty” revolvers from Smith & Wesson in .357 and .44 Magnum. In 2017, S&W recently released 3” versions of these classically styled wheelguns. A 3″ barrel is a bit long for a “snubby”, but it definitely makes these guns easier to conceal.

Unfortunately, no matter how great these pistols are, these weapons require effort to properly master them for use in a defense situation. The good news is the number of resources available to help the new owner of a “Defense-size” revolver get the most out of his firearm.

Snubnose.Info contains a variety of articles that discuss the peculiarities of using a snubnose revolver for concealed carry.

Michael DeBethencourt offers snub-specific training classes. The Blog link on his site contains very helpful information that will round out the information on Snubnose.Info.

Reading can NEVER replace profession firearms training. It CAN provide much food for thought the martialist might find helpful:

The Snubby Revolver: The ECQ, Backup, and Concealed Carry Standard by Ed Lovette

From Amazon: “In this book, former CIA operative and Combat Handguns columnist Ed Lovette pays homage to the short-barreled revolver, or snubby, holding it up as the timeless standard in concealed carry, backup and extreme close quarters (ECQ) defensive weapons.”

Grant Cunningham has written a number of books on firearms and revolvers in particular. Mr. Cunningham offers firearms training, and blogs on personal defense issues. His latest offering is:

Protect Yourself With Your Snubnose Revolver by Grant Cunningham

 

If semi-autos can be described as “compact” and “micro”, then we definitely have a place for “defense-size”, but I still think “snubnose” sounds way cooler.

Stay safe out there.

Some Interesting Thoughts on the Nature of Work

One of the best bits of advice I’ve come across related to writing is, READ.

So I have read a number of books and articles on character development, plot theory,  and story pacing. I feel these things have been positive time investments because they have given me a structured way of thinking about my craft.

Combine the structure with plenty of fiction and non-fiction in my preferred genres, and my product starts to come together pretty well except for a nagging doubt regarding my expectations for my personal productivity.

Family, work, and the necessities of life really interfere with my desire to sit and write. Eventually, I found a balance between my writing and all of the “stuff” that bleeds off my time, energy, and creativity.

I recently came across an article by Mark Manson that provides some interesting perspective on the nature of creative work. Manson’s notion that the total number of hours invested can have an inverse relationship to the overall quality of the work produced, is food for thought for us creative types.

Fair warning, Mr. Manson’s style includes adult language.

 

Return of the Haggis! – Texas Scottish Festival & Highland Games 2017

Dallas and Fort Worth have a number of well-publicized cultural events the first weekend of May, but my favorite, hands down, is the Texas Scottish Festival & Highland Games  held the first weekend of May on the campus of the University of Texas in Arlington.

When they say “Highland Games”, they are serious. We arrived in time for the Heavy Hammer Throw, Sheaf Over Bar, and Cabers.

SCotFest2017_Sheaf

ScotFest2017_Hammer

The music of Seamus Stout was blasting, and the Belhaven Stout was flowing.

ScotFest2017_SeamusStout

Please sample some of the artists from this year and years past

For the more discerning patrons, Mead and Whisky tasting was available.

The usual collection of “fair food” was on hand, but we enjoyed a selection of pies from Heritage Meat Pies, easily one of the best food vendors at this event. I highly recommend the Curried Lamb pie. Top that off with Zemer’s Homemade Rootbeer. Zemer’s is one my family’s faves. They sell you a cup with your choice of cold rootbeer, vanilla ice cream float, or a new rootbeer slushie. Make sure you save your cup because refills are only $1.00. (Even the floats are only a buck.)

Vendors of traditional and modern Scottish apparel and knickknacks abound. We have seen an increasing number of Steampunk garments and Cosplay accessories in the last couple of years.

A Clan Village allows attendees to meet and greet members of their extended, sometimes VERY extended, families and compare genealogical notes, or take in dance competitions while melodies from the pipers fill the air. Our guest this year discovered her Scottish heritage leads to Clan Gordon by way of Aberdeenshire County.

Scots are big on kith and kin, and the Texas Scottish Festival is a very family friendly event. Kids can take advantage of a special area and activities just for them.

Be sure to catch the North Texas Caledonian Pipes & Drums

SCotFest2017_Caledonians

and the Fort Worth Scottish Pipes & Drums.

ScotFest2017_NTPD

Both groups participate in the opening parades and wander the festival grounds keeping toes tapping. Feel free to break into a reel when the spirit moves you. They are also available to entertain at private events like weddings and parties.

 

The 1st Weekend in May is the date to remember.

Just because you wear a kilt don’t mean you can’t cowboy up.

ScotFest2017_Cowboy

Y’all come out and visit!

Malfunction Clearance with Live Ammo – This Crap Makes Me Crazy

Read an article that should be a wake up for everyone who handles semi-auto firearms, and especially people who train others.

The cause of this is obvious to anyone who shoots tube fed rifles. (Ex: Winchester lever action rifles)

In those guns you have to use flat point bullets to prevent the nose of one round from crushing the primer of the round ahead of it as the gun recoils. (.22Lr guns get around this because the nose of the bullet does not rest on a primer.)

These people were doing malfunction training with LIVE ammo, and 9mm ball has such nice sharp points. When the slide was released to create the malfunction, the nose of the top bullet in the magazine slammed into the primer of the round in the chamber and BANG.

We MUST be careful and thoughtful in our actions people.

Please use dummy rounds when training weapon manipulations, and think about every move you make when handling weapons. EVERY accident and EVERY injury. WILL be used against us by those who would see our civil rights taken away.