Oct 17, 2014

Kerry said. "... If we don't adequately address this current outbreak now, then Ebola has the potential to become a scourge like HIV or polio that we will end up fighting -- all of us -- for decades."
(Via CNN.com)

No, you fuckwit, Ebola is not and will not be a scourge like HIV-AIDS.

People who catch HIV have at least some semblance of a chance at a normal life. Yes, it's going to be a contributing factor to their death someday.

Ebola kills you right the fuck now.

We may well be fighting it for decades, but only if we're unwilling to step up and make the unpleasant choices that need to be made right the fuck now.

We're having some real hard conversations around our house these days.

Oct 16, 2014

WTC

Back on 9/11/14, I posted a single picture.

I took that photo in late winter/early spring of 2002, a bare five months after our world changed forever.

Since I took that picture, I've moved a dozen times. I've held four or five different jobs. I volunteered as a firefighter. I fell in love, got married, bought a house, got a dog, sold a house, moved across the country, fell in love again, and - in hindsight - have watched myself grow up.

The one thing I have not done is return to the corner of Church and Vesey Streets.

I wasn't ready.

This past weekend I was in New York City for a friend's wedding and had a morning of downtime before the service. I decided it was time.

I took the subways down, and walked the block from Cortlandt Street over to the 9/11 Memorial.

I spent some time walking and thinking. And watching. And looking. And thinking some more.

I posted the following two pictures to my facebook account, with the caption, "The real awe is not what fell... It's what arose."



The towers were buildings. Knocking down a building is not awe-inspiring.
Freedom Tower, symbolic as it is, is not awe-inspiring.
The memorial pools are beautiful and gut-wrenching in their way, but not awe-inspiring.

No, what awes me is the spirit that is embodied in the pools and tower. On 9/11, we were forced to see the reality: we are not beloved 'round the world. And we were hurt, deeply. And we turned around and built a symbol right back up.

It doesn't matter how tall Freedom Tower is. We could have built the crudest plywood shack in the same spot and the spirit would be the same. Abraham Lincoln said it, far more eloquently than I may:
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.
As I walked, I saw a young girl - perhaps five or six years old - and overheard part of the conversation she was having with her father, as he tried to explain what had happened, what it meant, why it happened... He tried.

I took one other picture while I visited:
This is from the FDNY section of the South memorial; around panel S14 if memory serves. I didn't pick a name in particular, just a spot near the middle of their section.

They went up.

I cannot imagine a more fitting epitaph.

Tipping Point

I think (hope) ebola won't get any more of a toehold than it has in the US. I suspect I'm wrong. We're going to see more cases.

If some chucklehead in ISISILEIEIO decides to weaponize a handful of True Believers and send them to a hotel in $AmericanCity for a week or two, then go forth to ... Chinatown. Little Italy. The fish markets, restaurants, supermarkets, bodegas... be friendly! Shake hands! Cough and wipe your nose and handle the fruit! ... Well kids, it's going to get right sporting in these parts. (Which Clancy novel was that? "Executive Orders", I think?)

I live in suburbia now. We have a bit of victuals put back for rainy days. Enough? Hard to say. How long are we really talking? A week? Three? Ten? I don't care how big your pantry is, at some point you will reach the back of it. What then? Is the outbreak burned out? Is society still standing?

It's been a while since I read "The Stand" ... but at one point in the book, King spends a few pages rattling off the people who survived Captain Tripps ... and then died for any number of other causes. Falling down a set of stairs. Malfunctioning gun. Simple murder. And on and on.

There is a definite point where Society will stop. I've seen several reports that nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian-Dallas have been calling out in record numbers ... but haven't seen links to credible sources, either.

What happens when:
- all the trash men call out? The trash piles up, vermin multiply, and spread other diseases.
- all the linemen call out? The lights go out. In early winter.
- all the cops/firemen call out?
- all the delivery drivers/over-the-road truckers?

It doesn't have to be ALL, either. It only has to be enough to prevent the work from getting done. If three linemen show up, they can probably fix one line at a time... and when we have an early-winter ice storm, guess what? You're in for a cold and dark few months.

---------------------------------------

Going off on a tangent (which I'm good at), there's a few reasons people are Seriously Spooked about ebola. I've heard from various places and people with Letters After Their Name that I should be "more worried about the flu". More likely to $UnlikelyEvent. And so forth.

And you know what? They're not entirely wrong. I am indeed more likely to catch the flu than ebola - even though I've had a flu shot. Influenza is nothing to kid around with. It's highly transmissible, and a century ago it killed a whole lot of people. CDC treats influenza as a Biosafety Level 3 bug. ("... can cause severe to fatal disease in humans but for which treatments exist."

Ebola is a BSL4 bug. Spacesuit and special lab stuff. Severe to fatal disease, high risk of aerosolization, no known treatments. If you catch ebola, they will try to keep you comfortable, and the rest is up to you.

I'm a (relatively) healthy adult male.

If I catch influenza, I will be sick for a couple weeks. I'll have a runny nose, high fever, GIs, aches and pains and chills... I may wish I was dead. But the odds of me actually dying are pretty darn small.

If I catch ebola, I will be very sick for a couple weeks. I'll have a runny nose, high fever, GIs, aches and pains and chills... and petechiae, and hemorrhage in other fun places. I may wish I was dead ... and I'll have a pretty good chance of that wish being granted as my body's major systems shut down.

Am I worried about the flu? Sure, in the, "I just started a new job and don't want to be That Guy," sort of way.

Am I worried about ebola? You're damn right. Because our government can't find its ass with two hands and a flashlight, hospitals are making it up as they go along, and even if we cut the fatality rate in HALF thanks to first-world medicine, ONE IN THREE PEOPLE WHO CATCH IT WILL DIE.

And don't forget, we're right at the edge of the headlong dive into cold-and-flu season. Is that little ache behind your eyes just an early cold, or did you pick up something extra at the airport?

Which brings me to my final point:
If you're sick, stay the fuck home.

Oct 8, 2014

Whoops!

Somehow I forgot to mention this here. I was out walking the dog on Monday when my phone chirped with a new email alert. I glanced at the subject line:

eForms Application Status Change Notification


... opened it.

This is to advise you that the status of your eForms submission ... has changed to APPROVED.
With attachment... a beautiful pdf of my signed-and-stamped Form 1.

I scooted home, printed multiple copies, and slapped the upper and lower together that had been living separately for the last five weeks:


The lower is, of course, engraved by York Arms:


The barrel was also profiled/finished by York, and is a 10.1" 300BLK, with a Kaw Valley linear comp. Handguard is Diamondhead VRS-T. Stock is a Magpul MOE, grip is ERGO, and the optic is a wonderful Primary Arms MD-AD red dot on a Fortis F1 mount. The bipod is an Atlas with quick disconnect... not necessary but awful useful for bench work, and rock solid.

First range trip was today. Had some issues with handloads, particularly those using Hornady 130gr SP bullets... but then I tried some of my Nosler 125gr BTs. I think I have a cherry load that both the Pale Horse and this SBR like; I'll have to try up and down a few tenths each direction but 16.5gr of IMR 4227 looked good.

So ... I'm in a free state and my stamp collection is officially underway. :-D

Oct 6, 2014

Mac'n'cheese'n...

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cooking by explosion was successful:
5-6 strips bacon, cooked and chopped, back in the pan with:
1/3lb kielbasa, diced
1/2 onion, minced
1/2lb sliced baby bella mushrooms
Cook 'til the kielbasa is browned and/or the onions are just translucent. Take off heat and set aside.

Cook 1.5lb pasta of choice. While pasta is cooking:
In a medium saucepan, melt 3T butter over medium-low heat
Add 1c. cultured buttermilk and 1c. half-n-half or milk.
Scald.
Whisk in 3T corn starch and a healthy dash of pepper.
Slowly add 2lb shredded cheese of choice, whisking steadily.
Adjust consistency by adding milk/half-n-half until just creamy.

Drain pasta well. Pour the cheese sauce over it and stir.

In a deep 9x13 (3.5qt minimum):
Grease the pan lightly.
Make a layer of the bacon/onion/kielbasa/mushroom mix.
Pour the pasta and cheese over it. Don't stir, just give it a jiggle to settle.
Top with a good dash of parmesan-romano and a few tablespoons of bread crumbs.

Into the oven for 45min at 350F, or until bubbling and lightly browned.