Wednesday, December 30, 2009

San Diego, day whatever

As often happens in life, and one comes to expect the unexpected, or should, after 50 years of life on this planet, things didn't quite go as planned with the Glock 20 rental. After arriving at the place and looking for the Glock 20 they said was for rent on their website but not finding it in the case, I asked one of the guys behind the counter. He said they used to have a Glock 20 for rent, but they had trouble getting ammunition for it, so they stopped renting it. That sounded a bit bogus to me--why not just keep it on hand until more ammo showed up?-- but I took it in stride. Although they had quite a few other guns for rent, including AR15s, I wasn't really interested, so I left. That was on Monday.

On Tuesday, the family went to Legoland. If you've never been to Legoland, please don't bother. Tickets for adults were $67 each and a kid's ticket was $57. Now, the prices might have been easier to swallow IF the park had something worth seeing, but it didn't, unless you count sculptures made out of Lego parts as worth paying to view. The rides, such as they were, could only possibly appeal to children under the age of 10, and that's being generous.

Man, I feel a dull ache in my nether region.

Today, it's off to Sea World; I feel another drubbing to my wallet coming, but at least Sea World has the potential, from what I've seen, to come close to justifying its ticket price.

Take care.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Is the PETN in your pants, or are you..."

Nothing profound here, just an observation on how secure you should feel with government in charge of your security. Yup, big G's in the house, so you can switch off and leave the responsibility for your precious (to you) life up to them. With protection like this, I may not even need to renew my CCW. BTW, here's a photo of the (thankfully) incompetent would-be airplane destroyer's skivvies (who happens to be Muz, it must be noted). From the looks of those drawers, he succeeded in blowing up something tubular, just not the fuselage he was focused on.

Take care.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

San Diego, day two

We finally got going late in the morning yesterday, after a breakfast provided by the late Ray Croc's brainchild. The funny thing is, I was hungry again about an hour later. Not too many nutrients, apparently, in that food-like substance.

Yesterday's time out was spent entirely at a botanic gardens, at my wife's "suggestion." (Isn't it funny how women cleverly call their wants "suggestions," when in all actuality they are really imperatives? That's just the darnedest phenomenon.) The botanic gardens were well planned and executed, but...a WHOLE DAY!?!? C'MON!!! Then, after sundown, the garden was lit with festive holiday lighting, strung hither and thither in various areas, and the garden consumed another chunk of our lives, 'bout two hours worth. Oh well, the wife was happy and our boy enjoyed doing things boys enjoy doing: things he shouldn't do.

After taking a wrong exit back to the motel, followed by a stop at a liquor store (wife's "suggestion"--I don't drink), we made it back to the room, ate convenience store burritos, surfed the net, disciplined the boy (for the umpteenth time that day), and finally went to bed.

On the bright side, it looks like San Diego has several indoor gun ranges which rent guns. I plan on using a fraction of my time here to check it out and, maybe, rent a Glock 20 to try. Somewhere down the road, in the hazy future, I may just get around to buying a Glock 20 10mm for camping and hiking, at least that's the justification I am using. But I've never fired the 10mm, so I'd like to try it first to see if it should even be on my wish list. I've fired a .44 Magnum before, whose recoil I didn't care for, so I'm hoping the 10mm is a notch or two below that. More on this subject as it develops.

I'd better sign off now and get everyone up, for my wife has more plans for the day.

Take care.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sandy Eggo

I must be getting old, 'cause I am beginnig to dislike car trips of more than one day's duration. In my younger years, I loved travelling by car on long trips, but no more. More than anything else, I guess it's the boredom. Sure, I downloaded tons of podcasts and music to my iPod Nano, but even that gets old after a few hours. (Cripe! How spoiled we modern folk are, complaining about a trip that can be measured in hours instead of weeks or months.)

We arrived in San Diego on Christmas evening and checked into our motel. As it was already dark, we couldn't see a whole lot of the city, but I doubt it's much different than most other big cities. I'm finishing this post on the morning of Dec. 26, so that assumption may change; we'll see.

It's off to the shower now, followed by, I hope, a good breakfast somewhere. Of course, that' assuming I can get the rest of the family up and out before lunch begins being served at every eatery.

Take care.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

Sitting here in a Phoenix motel room,* my family sleeping soundly nearby, it occurred to me that a timely wish for any reader of this blog, such as it is, is in order. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Take care.

*More on this later, I hope.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sponsored by the video game industry

Should you be so inclined, please read the following piece on how video games can actually improve one's life rather than waste it. My comments are interspersed.


Real-Life Benefit of Video Games: Video Games May Improve Visual Skills, Researchers Say

By Bill Hendrick
WebMD Health
Dec. 22, 2009 -- Regular video game users learn to process information faster and more accurately when they’re playing in virtual worlds and in real-life situations, a new study says. [Is speed necessarily a benefit in and of itself? I guess it is when you need to jump out of the way of a bus, but it is not a prerequisite to thinking; in fact, speed can be a detriment to sound thinking/reasoning skills.]

Researchers say they found that avid players get faster in their games of choice, and also in unrelated laboratory tests of reaction time. [Which proves what?]

The study is published in the December issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science. [Ah, psychology, the slick pseudo-science that's too often used as an excuse for bad behavior. It has some utility but, like most labor unions, it's gone way beyond its purview.]

Matthew Dye, PhD now of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and formerly at the University of Rochester, and colleagues say they reviewed existing literature on video gaming and found some surprising insights. [Oh, do tell!]

For example, they say they found that contrary to conventional wisdom that avid gamers become less accurate as their speed of play increases [Less accurate in what, filling out a job application, taking a test?] players don’t lose accuracy and they get faster. [What a relief!]

They say this likely is a result of gamers’ improving visual cognition with repeated playing of games. [Undoubtedly.]

Playing video games enhances performance on mental rotation skills, visual and spatial memory, and tasks requiring divided attention, say the researchers, including Shawn Green, PhD, now a post-doctoral associate at the University of Minnesota, and Daphne Bavelier, PhD, in the department of brain and cognitive sciences at Rochester.

Other reported insights - that training with video games may serve to reduce gender differences in visual and spatial processing and thwart some of the cognitive declines that come with aging.

“In many everyday situations, speed is of the essence,” the authors write. “However, fast decisions typically mean more mistakes.” [Exactly! That's because fast decisions without the concomitant needed thought time to back them up often turn out to be wrong.]

After reviewing existing literature on gaming, they conclude that there is evidence that “the very act of playing action video games” increases speed of play and accuracy. [Let me get this straight: If you practice something, you'll get better at it? This is groundbreaking research!]

“Video gaming may ["May." Translation: "We're not sure, we're just hypothesizing. We need grant money for more research. We have to justify our existence somehow."] therefore provide an efficient training regimen to induce a general speeding of perceptual reaction times without decreases in accuracy of performance,” the authors say. [But "accuracy of performance" is not the same thing as accuracy of outcome. You can perform every step of a given task perfectly and still reach an incorrect conclusion. What a bunch of rot this all is.]

As the gamers got faster, they maintained their accuracy in lab testing of reaction times, the authors say.

Contemporary examples of games mentioned in the study include God of War, Halo, Unreal Tournament, Grand Theft Auto, and Call of Duty, all of which require “rapid processing of sensory information and prompt action, forcing players to [make] decisions and execute responses at a far greater pace than is typical in everyday life.” [That's because typical, everyday life rarely needs the fast reaction times a video game demands. What it could use is more well-reasoned thought.]

They say more studies of speed and accuracy on video games “will certainly be promising avenue of research” in the future [not to mention a way to stay (dubiously) employed.]


So, in essence, researchers found that video games actually make a person more perceptive of the physical things occurring immediately to and around him. Great. What about conceptual skills--higher order thinking--the only thing that makes humans really different from animals. (Animals perceive, humans conceive.) Something that improves one's ability to perceive and react is not bad, up to a certain point, but it merely allows one to function better at an animalistic level. I fail to see how video games can help a person take his now-improved perceptual skills and use them to enhance conceptual skills, such as seeing through the nonsense of both the Democrat and Republican parties.

Video games, like a lot of what we (mindlessly) do, are not the bane of human existence, but they don't really enhance it much either. They are a distraction at best, and an impediment to thought at worst, if only for the reason that they usurp time that could be better spent reading (deeply, not superficially), learning/doing, pondering, and reaching conclusions.

Take care.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dumbfounded, I tell ya

The night before last, my wife said something to me which surprised me to no end. She had to go do a favor for a friend in the evening and, due to a sudden illness with our son, I was unable to join her. So, being a concerned husband, I retrieved a holstered .38 snubby and asked her to take it. At first, she refused, not seeing the need for it, and (here's the kicker) because, "I haven't been trained on how to use it," she said. But I insisted and she finally relented and took the gun. I haven't seen her since.*

On the one hand, she was correct about not wanting to take the gun because she lacked the training with it. (This, I can assure everyone, was not due to a paucity of effort by me over the years.) But on the other hand, she has gone to the range with me, although it's been at least five years since our last trip together, so she has fired guns before. I believe what familiarity she's retained since then might come in handy should she ever have to use a firearm for self defense, but I know her level of skill is essentially non-existent.

The trick, as it's always been, is to convince her of the need to take some formal training. I believe I'll look into a gift certificate for a concealed carry course (several are taught locally). While I know that the training received at most courses is minimal, especially when it comes to fighting with a handgun, it might be the gateway drug to more inclination towards training. Who knows?

In the area of self defense, my wife is very traditional: it's the man's job to protect home and family. But stories are legion about situations where that didn't work out too well because the man was at work, the woman was away from home, the man was incapacitated, etc. Getting her to see it's okay to take responsibility for her, and our son's, safety is going to be, and has been, a challenge. Wish me luck.

Take care.

*Just kidding.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Progessive Houston

She's a lesbian, and that's all that matters. No mention is made in this brief puff piece, designed to show how progressive Houston is when it comes when it comes to sexual orientation, about what this woman's politics might be, although one could probably guess. No, it's the fact that she's a lesbian, no doubt quite liberal, that matters. Symbolism over substance, what a triumph for modern man.


Houston voters may elect openly gay mayor
Dec 12, 2009 (7:56a CST)

HOUSTON - Voters are deciding Saturday whether Houston will become the largest U.S. city to elect an openly gay mayor.

The runoff election pits City Controller Annise Parker against former city attorney Gene Locke.

Parker is a lesbian who has never made a secret or an issue of her sexual orientation.

But in recent weeks, anti-gay activists and conservative religious groups have endorsed the 61-year-old Locke and sent out mailers condemning Parker's "homosexual behavior."

Meanwhile, gay and lesbian political organizations around the country have rallied to support the 53-year-old Parker.


The thing that's always irritated me about homosexuals is that they are a "gay" (a word which I despise because it's a verbal sleight-of-hand trick calculated to lessen homosexuality's overwhelming weirdness) doctor, or a "gay" lawyer, or a "gay" fill-in-the-blank. If, as homosexuals claim, their sexual orientation doesn't/shouldn't matter in whatever goal they are reaching for, why make it the foremost part of one's identity? Because, if the truth be told, sexual orientation does matter, especially to them. When a homosexual reaches his goal, this somehow equates, at least in his mind, to some kind of validation by the heterosexual community, something he desperately craves, mainly because, deep down, he knows his sexual orientation is against the laws of nature. If a homosexual reached his goal without making an issue of his sexual orientation, then he would have been elected purely on the merits/demerits of his arguments, ideas, etc.; his victory would be hollow against the backdrop of his wider identity, homosexuality, because there would be no concomitant validation of his personal lifestyle.

None of the above should be misconstrued as meaning I believe homosexuals should be persecuted. As long as it's voluntary, people have a right to do as they wish with each other. People have a right to be wrong in this country as long as they are not infringing on another person's liberty. I just don't want/need to hear about it.

Take care.