Quote of the Moment

"Beep Industries currently has no openings. This is a good thing. Any number of career paths are better than game development. Lots of jobs are more lucrative and far less work. We hear marketing and animal husbandry are filled with potential."

Friday, March 26, 2010

On Vacation: An FTYD Interlude at The Great Wolf Lodge

Every once in a while, I like to take the FTYD family on a vacation. This year after getting most of our money back from the feds, and getting a decent (if overtaxed) bonus from AUGD we had a choice between two weeks of road tripping, sleeping in a tent and visiting the in-laws in the mid-west, or a long weekend at an air conditioned, in-door waterpark. After a brief debate we chose the waterpark.

I should note at this point that in spite of growing up in Southern California, I had never previously been to a waterpark. Plenty of theme parks, sure, but somehow the waterpark experience has always eluded me. Whether this is because my parents preferred to make our theme park visits in the less crowded (and cheaper) off season, or simply that we avoided them because the only time anyone really wants to go to a waterpark in California is when it's hot, so you spend more time in line working on your sunburn than actually being wet, I couldn't say. But suffice to say this promised to be as new and novel an event for me as it did for my wife and kids.

The waterpark in question is called The Great Wolf Lodge, and is part of a national chain. The Washington location is located roughly two hours drive (or three in traffic) south of Seattle. Conveniently next to nowhere it looms up beside the interstate and shares signage with another fine WannaFleeceASucker tribe's casino. (Shuttles every 15 minutes). Inside the lodge are a variety of shops, restaurants and amusements designed to carefully separate you from your money, usually through the middleman of your begging children and teens.

Fortunately, the FTYD children aren't old enough to see the appeal in interactive games requiring a wand (rented for $14.95 a game) with a personalized topper (bought for $29.95) or burn money in the arcade, decorate cookies ($3 per cookie) or any of the other diversions. They just wanted to get on the waterslides.

Off we went. Once I adapted to the overpowering scent of chlorine and the noise of rushing water, shouting people and bad pop music, and accepted that my glasses were going to be periodically difficult to see through, I rather enjoyed myself. A question though: at what point inthe last 13 years did the string bikini become normal swimmwear for the barely got their learner's permit crew? I think I would have remembered this from the beaches of my teens, and I don't. It's not like I was checking anyone out with FTYD JR in tow, but I was starting to wonder if John Stossil was going to be standing at the top of the ramp asking me to "have a seat right over there."

Oh well, it was a good day. FTYD JR. proved unexpectedly bold on the slides, and hopefully tomorrow we'll get The Girl on more than the tiny kiddy slide.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Off To the Range!

A couple weeks ago I picked up my first pistol from a local gun store. After passing the IQ test disguised as a background questionierre ("Are you a wanted felon?", "Are you an illegal alien?", "Have you been convicted of domestic violence?" Has anyone ever actually answered "yes" to any of these?) I was able to bring home a gun that hopefully will serve me well in eventual IDPA competition and as a carry piece.

Ruger SR9. 9mm, 4.25" barrel, 17 rounds per mag*

A week later I headed out to the range for the first time. Thanks to my gun gamer sibling, I had four Blackhawk double stack mag holders, and and four extra mags to put in them. Strapping 68 rounds to my right side, plus the loaded SR9 on my left immediately taught me one thing: I need a new belt. The black-leather Wal-mart belt that's reliably held up my pants for years just doesn't quite cut it with the extra weight. Saggy belt issue notwithstanding, I headed out to the range with a friend who hadn't been shooting for about 30 years.

I'm happy to say that the Ruger shoots well, and unsurprisingly, is a lot more accurate than I am. I'll have to work on that. But in the hour or so I was shooting, it happily digested the 100 rounds of cheap 115 grain practice ammo, and 50 rounds of 147 grain hollow-points with nary a hiccup.

Honestly though, the flawless performance of my new gun was a distant second in enjoyment to the smile on my friend's face when he put his first magazine of .22 into a target. I think I got a new shooting buddy, and on the drive home he was talking about buying a .22 of his own. He started off with a Ruger Mk.III, then switched to the more tactical looking Sig Sauer Mosquito, and shot holes in a variety of bad movie posters.

Now I just have to figure out what the best way to work on my accuracy is. I can keep 17 rounds on an 8 1/2 x 11" paper target at 10 yards, but only about half at 25 yards. Given the price of 9mm versus .22, I'm thinking that buying a used .22 and practicing until I can shoot a decent group at 25 yards, then transitioning back to the 9mm might be a good idea. Stay tuned.

*Except in California and Massachusetts. Sorry.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Gun Ed -- Treating Gun Education Like Sex Education

The following was inspired by a comment to Bayou Renaissance Man's recent post about the failure of sex education in Britain.

March 1, 2010
Principal Carlos Vasquez of Compton's troubled Martin Luther King High School announced a radical new program today aimed at reducing the number of deaths due to violent gun crimes. Named "Safe Guns", the program acknowledges that almost one out of every two youths in the high school will at some point be affiliated with one of the gangs which claims Compton for their territory, and that most of the youths attending the school already have access to firearms provided by "Sumdood." The mandatory marksmanship class will replace health class two days a week.

The program has four stated goals:

  1. Reduce accidental shootings of innocent bystanders by teaching students proper shooting techniques and marksmanship.
  2. Eliminate self-inflicted gunshot wounds by providing each student with a holster appropriate to their gun of choice, and training/demonstrations on how to properly holster and carry their weapons.
  3. Lower lethality of gang violence by encouraging students to explore alternatives to traditional center-of-mass shots and target arms, legs, hands and feet instead. This will also be accomplished by providing students with free hardball ammunition, which has been proven to cause less wounding and death than hollow-point or cop-killer bullets, and is less likely to wound a student by explosively failing in their firearm of choice.
  4. Protect students from injuries caused by cheap black-market firearms by providing them with safe, reputable alternatives.

About Compton
Since the 1950s, Compton's murder and violent crime rate has risen steadily, although it had dropped several percentage points since 2002. However, citing an average murder and gun violence rate still several times higher than the national average, school officials feel that this radical plan was the best solution. "They're going to shoot each other anyway" said one school official off the record. "The best we can do is teach them to be more responsible about when, where, and what they shoot."