Monday, July 30, 2007

All This Could Have Been Prevented.....

If they'd only had a sticker like the one above on the entryway; we've had a similar one posted on our doors at work, and haven't had a single attempt at a mass killing with a gun since then (well actually, we've never had one, but I'm sure it was just luck before the sticker).
In all seriousness, the patients and staff in the facility are fortunate one of society's approved weaponeers was present, or this would have been a lot worse. No one should have to hope some one shows up in time to keep them alive.
We need to seriously consider banning shotguns; after all, it's for the geriatrics.

Under The Radar?

Yesterday I had Fox News on while I was working on the house in the morning. I explicitly heard a brief story that the current Pope had made a recent statement the Islam is a threat to the Christian heritage of Europe, and that this needed to be recognized by the populace. Also something about "misunderstood respect for Islam" also being a cause for concern. I've tried in vain to find anything referencing that story, which I didn't notice repeated over the next several hours.

Given the "Arab street's" tendency to break things every time someone holds them accountable, I'm amazed I can't find anything on this. I figured there would be riots somewhere by this time.

Still, I think something will pop up sooner or later about the Pope's latest bout of unjustified fear of a religion known worldwide for it's tolerance and love of diversity.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Unfairness Of It All......

Man, my heart just bleeds for this guy. Can't proselytize, no half-wit inbred flunkies telling him how great he is, no goats/hands to take care of his "needs"; no doubt about it, it's major islamophobia.

Sunday Ugly Gun Post

Ted Kazinski's (the Unabomber) very own gunsmithing project. Hell, I guess even crazy backwoods luddites need something to do in their downtime. Might as well build a hillbilly Nambu.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

This Is A Day Off?

So far today I've planed down my new bathroom for the third time since installation; sanded, conditioned (it's a soft wood), stained (twice), and polyurethaned the new door frame; chainsawed a good fifty feet of volunteer trees for the wood pile; cut down months worth of weeds along my fence; chainsawed/pruned low limbs off the tree in my side yard; masked and painted hardware for some of our doors; and gone to the county dump to empty out my pickup full of tear-out waste from house projects.

All I need to get done now is the bills, reconcile the checkbook, write/mail the local gun club newsletter, and get a second coat of polyurethane on the door frame after scrubbing it down with steel wool.

I need to get some shooting in.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Salvaging Arteries

Thursday was an ass kicker. We've been down one nurse and one tech all week at work, leaving us 33% & 25% low on staffing during one of the busiest weeks this year. The first exam of the day was a bilateral kissing stents in a patients aortic bifurcation. Usually, the tech assists the doc place a stent by loading caths onto the wire, maintaining wire position, prepping inflation devices, etc. During a kissing stent procedure, the doc opens deploys one stent while the tech opens the other. At the same time. At the same speed. At $800 t0 $1200 per stent. Guaranteed to focus your concentration so that everything in your world shrinks down to a radiologist's voice and a fluoroscopy monitor showing the deployment. And getting two people to synchronize their actions perfectly, so that the patient gets an ideal deployment that opens a ninety-five percent closed artery and restores flow to the rest of the leg is a great feeling.

Left, Bilateral high-grade ostial stenosis of common iliac arteries. Middle, Simultaneous dilatation of stenotic lesion with kissing balloon technique. Right, Final result after adjunctive implantation of 2 Palmaz stents (diameter, 9 mm; length, 40 mm).

In a few days, that patient will be able to walk longer and more comfortably than in the past year, and will probably continue to do so for years, rather than having a bypass graft. Bypass grafts often run from the groin to below the knee, and have somewhat limited lives, due to clotting problems. When they do clot, and circulation to the feet is severely compromised, then it's back to our lab, where the clot is attacked with a number of methods, both mechanical and chemical, that can take up seventy-two hours, and carries risks of bleeding, including intracranial.

That was immediately followed by a bilateral renal angiogram, an aortic stent graft (more on those later), a central venous line change, and an exchange of an internal/external biliary drain.

I earned my paycheck for the day.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

People Are Essentially Good.....

One of the reasons I believe citizens must keep and bear arms is that I don't believe people are essentially good. I believe a slight majority of people are willing to be civil, if it isn't overly burdensome. I believe the overwhelming majority will look out for number one when it comes down to screw or be screwed.

When it comes to government, I'm more pessimistic. Individuals don't advance in bureaucracies by being altruistic and ethical. In fact, I believe that it's likely that people who've made careers in national government, and have frequently advanced, are likely to have a much higher percentage of sociopaths in their ranks than the general population.

I also believe human nature remains relatively constant over time. It seems to me that few people have any grasp of history outside their lifetime, and regard a mere generation back as obscure history, with even older events beings completely irrelevant to the present.

That being (my perception of) the case, when facts like this are documented, the overwhelming response response at all. But even a casual observation of history will reveal that this wasn't the last event of it's kind; think Cambodia, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, etc. Note these events to a person in their twenties, and watch the blank look. Ask about their thoughts on "ethnic cleansing" or genocide. More than likely, the only thoughts will be "what the hell are you talking about" or "that doesn't have anything to do with me".

The forties weren't that long ago. I wouldn't be surprised to see something like this in Europe again in my lifetime.

Ugly Gun Sunday

I don't think there's anything on this one that you couldn't get from the garbage bin at a construction site.

"A 4-barrel zip gun found on the shelves of the Kingston Penitentiary library on October 1945. The trigger, now missing, was a clasp from an overshoe."

Which is in Canada. I'm sure if someone made one now, they'd properly register it.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Occasionally Something Neat Happens

After the 12 hours of standing in a lead apron for cardiac cases Thursday, helping drain (oh so slowly, one 60cc syringe at a time) almost 1400cc of pus that looked remarkably like dijon mustard and that last minute cold leg declot Friday, I got to see something rare. Bicycling home from finishing up a case this morning, I could hear an unusually loud piston driven aircraft approaching. Since I was downtown, my vision was limited, but this thing was loud. I stopped for a minute to see if it would pass over, when what I'm pretty confident was a B-25 Mitchell flew overhead low enough for me to clearly make out the '40s era markings on the wings. It's good to know there's at least one still flying.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fun With Chainsaws

We had a nice cell of intense thunderstorms pass through last night. In my neighborhood, it rained to hard you could barely see. Same town, other side, my coworker got 1/5 of an inch. So while she hardly had any rain, on my street it knocked down half the ash tree in my sister-in-law's back yard. Which ripped the top half of the electrical service off the wall of house, removed some aluminum siding, and left the power lines at eyeball level across the backyard.

So what's it cost to remove a full grown ash tree? $1200 dollars.

I'm in the wrong business.

Since we (The Wife and I) were going to have to pay to have this stuff hauled away, she opined that it would be an excellent time to cut down those nuisance unplanned trees next to the house. Sure, says I (I know when to keep my opinions to myself). So, load up chainsaw #1, spare chainsaw #2, gas, etc, and head to the SIL's house. To find nothing left of the tree but a six foot tall stump. I'll give them this, for the money they charge, they leave the cleanest yard I've ever seen. I couldn't even find a wood chip. But since I'm here, I might as well take down the other stuff. Which leads me to see why they can charge that much. Temperature in the mid-nineties, no wind, humidity at least eighty percent, every damn wood chip sticking to your skin, sweat running into your eyes while the chainsaw is a short distance from your leg; yeah, they earn their money.

Fun project for the weekend: reduce a pile of branches and logs into sections short enough to load into the 5'x8' trailer, and head out to the dump. Man, I know how to have a good time on my days off.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Ugly Gun Sunday

The deluxe backwoods guerilla bolt-action assault carbine (not everyone gets the special 1x3 pine scrap cheekrest).

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Shoot, Then Shoot Some More

Competed in an across the course high power rifle match today. Eighty-eight rounds of .30-06 through an M1 Garand set up with National Match parts and glass bedding. Nice day for shooting, with not much wind and a clear sky, although wearing the leather shooting jacket while sweat pours down into your eyes isn't fun. We're fortunate enough to have actual pits for our targets, so everyone takes turns being a "pit pig" raising, lowering, and marking targets.
.223 makes a nice sharp snapping noise when it goes over your head, and a pretty good thump when it impacts the loose dirt in the berm.

Our target holders are vintage, having been salvaged from an army post where they'd been scrapped as obsolete. If I recall correctly, they're around one hundred years old. Several of the members put a lot of time into restoring them to working order. The rest of the rifle pit is only two years old, but is probably one of the nicest in the Midwest. Lots of work left to make it look pretty, but the foundations are all there.

The match ran from 0800 to 1330, with shooting from 200 & 300 yards. Then a short break for lunch, and on to my match, the NRA Combat Pistol Event.

We've just started outdoor pistol matches on the new range this summer, although it's been operating about four years. Today was a minor landmark, with eight shooters present, including a young woman who had never fired a handgun before.
Shooting for the Combat Event takes place at 7, 25, and 50 yards. I'm finding a lot of people who've attended will shoot their pistol at less than 25 yards, and haven't even considered trying to shoot out to 50 yards with them. Even a 25 yards, the scores begin to drop rapidly.

The collection of arms today was pretty eclectic. We had a Glock, Walther, Makarov, Beretta, Kimber, Taurus, and some others I didn't get a close look at. It's interesting to watch handling proficiency as the owners operate under pressure. What's effortless when you're casually shooting turns difficult with stress in place. I'm hoping it will motivate some of these shooters to practice more. I believe a lot of shooters become complacent about their skills over time, because they shoot the same way repeatedly.
It's easy to think you're good when you're never challenged.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

July Bike Trip, Pt 1

Spent several days on the bike recently, for a little relief from work. We decided that we would try to do all two lane roads for our trip, since there's more to see and less traffic. We did manage to pick some hot days for riding, since we drank a bottle of water nearly every stop. Our (my) first bar stop was in Ottumwa at the Yankee Inn Motel & Restaurant.

I like my bars with some character, and this place had it. It's been a bar since the '40s, and the owners have used that as a draw by allowing some of the age to show. The bar runs nearly the length of the wall, with a pool table, wooden plank floor, plenty of room, and fast service. The owners tend the bar, and if you get the wife, you'll get some interesting stories told with a lot of......animation. After a few beers, got back on the bikes and headed the rest of the way to Cedar Rapids for an overnight stop. Stopping for gas on the way, we got to watch some excellent horsemanship at a county fair area across the street from the pumps.

This was the first time I'd seen barrel racing live, and it's impressive to watch the skill the horse and rider demonstrate.
Sunday we got back on the road to head over to Galena, IL. First we stopped for lunch in Anamosa at Knuckleheads.

It's basically a small biker bar, with a limited grill menu. Nothing fancy, and not much room, but the food is good, and overall it's pretty laid back.
Arriving in Galena, we had some time to kill before checking in, so stopped at a bar called Benjamin's.

I'd call the place upscale casual. You can walk in wearing leather and boots or khakis and a polo and still feel comfortable. Large menu, lots of wood, staff in uniforms, no pool tables/pinball machines. The staff was welcoming, so we knocked back some rum and whiskey while discussing tattoos with woman next to us at the bar. After some really good drinks, we head over the night's shelter.
We've decided that we'd rather spend some extra money and stay somewhere interesting than stay at cookie cutter hotels. So we usually try to find a local bed and breakfast. This time it was the Steamboat House.

It's probably the nicest place I've ever stayed. On the first floor, a billiard room, formal dining room, study, library, and huge foyer.

Five bedrooms on the second floor,

all connected by a large common social room. The third floor apparently had another three bedrooms and a ballroom, but this was being converted into a living area for the owner's extended family on visits, so I didn't get to see that. This is a place you could go to many times and still notice something overlooked before. We managed to find a copy of Blazing Saddles in the library, so we ended the evening watching one of Mel Brooks' best efforts before sacking out for the night. Nothing like hours in the saddle, lots of beer/whiskey, and a large serving of prime rib to make sure you sleep well.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bad, Bad, Lazy Blogger

Just got back from four days of bumming around on the bike with The Wife. That's two Ugly Gun Sundays I've missed. I'll try to find something abysmally ugly for the next couple to make up for it. Pictures of where I've been drinking to follow in a day or so.

Friday, July 6, 2007

All Politics Is Local

Last night was the monthly meeting at the gun club. A bunch of the usual business, and an interesting bit about the new OSHA effort to make ammunition impossible to buy except for the government. After the end of the meeting, the leader of the high-power rifle clique asked me to talk to him. He apparently had a spirited disagreement at the range with another member I work with about his choice of targets. The member being addressed was shooting a personally purchased 2x3 foot polymer target. This set off the HPR guy, as he has been working diligently to ban all targets that aren't paper. We have one rack with polymer targets that have been shot for the last three years without replacement. He's currently trying to get those disapproved, because of a reported ricochet when a center fire target was shot with a .22 rim fire. I'm sure the ricochet had nothing to do with using an improper cartridge, or the fact that some idiot filled them with bird shot the first season they were up. No, it's just that polymer is bad. In fact, we had a short discussion about targets at that point. As the polymer targets the club has bought are now riddled with holes, I'm in favor of those who want to buy and shoot their own, as long as it's done safely.

Here's a synopsis of the argument:

Me: I don't see a problem, as polymer is listed as approved in the SOP.

HPR Guy: Yeah, we'll have to change that. (e.g., I'll have sneak something past the membership again at an exec meeting)

Me: I've talked to a lot of guys who shoot pistol out here, and they're bored shooting bullseyes all the time.

HPR Guy: I've been shooting paper for 40 years, and I'm not bored with it.

Me: Not everybody has the same interests as you.

HPR Guy: Hmph

So, to sum up, the reason we should get rid of polymer targets is, HPR Guy doesn't like it, he doesn't do it, so no one else should either. In fact, this whole shooting fast thing (like IPSC, or NRA Practical Pistol), is a BAD thing. If you need to shoot more than one round every minute or so, you're probably out of control.

Since I found out right afterwards that HPR Guy, Vice President Power Trip, and myself are this year's committee to review the SOP, there is going to be some serious disagreements. I believe I may actually have to get the paying, voting membership involved in deciding what they would like to do. Although that would be a major departure from how things have been done the last several years. Someone has to be a pain in the ass, so it might as well be me.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Iowa Abate Weekend, pt 2

After my critter-dodging ride home on Thursday, I got up early Friday for work to help one of the docs drive some hollow roofing nails into compressed/fractured vertebrae so he could fill'em up with sterile model glue (also know professionally as vertebroplasty). From the patient's perspective, it's a procedure that looks like something taken from an old-time side show where the geek has some one drive nails into his body. Medically, it's an impressively simple (although not without risk) procedure that usually results in a dramatic improvement in pain reduction. Still, it's always interesting to watch a first-timer's eyes when the doc pulls out the orthopedic mallet and starts tapping that 11 gauge needle into the middle of a vertebra on a conscious pt. That was pretty much the height of the work day. Bailed out in the afternoon and hopped on the bike to head to Algona again, this time with The Wife on her bike.

We arrived at the park in the late afternoon, coming in with a steady stream of other bikes looking for a decent camping spot. Made me happy I'd come over the night before to set up our site. Abate of Iowa has put a lot of labor into their camping area, and it's now at least as nice as a lot of state parks I've camped in.

Friday night was surprisingly quiet, with only isolated drunkenness and nudity (NSFW-in fact, none of the pics past this point are). Unlike Friday night the year before. Saturday, things returned to normal. Relatively speaking. And then, just plain way past normal.

Beyond that, there were some fine bands throughout the evening. The vendors row had some great food, including a Greek booth with damn fine gyros, and another serving breakfast biscuits and gravy (one of the few foods I learned to genuinely love in the army). Between swilling beer in large amounts, and too much good food, I came back home Sunday a lot fatter and happier.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Why Yes, I Am A Nationalist

But not a National Socialist, which is what many people take a nationalist to be. I'm proud of what our nation has achieved, and what it both allows and, more importantly, recognizes as inherent rights. Few other nations other nations even come close to what we have achieved.

Here's what I believe:

Our nation's system of government is superior to all others. Including ones that use that wierd-ass parliamentary system we didn't adopt from England.

We are so dedicated to the pursuit of happiness, we tolerate all sorts of strangeness that makes a lot of us want to hurl, but don't mess with those folks out of respect for our principles and tolerance.

If you fail here ( and I mean truly fail: living on MD 20/20, crack, and government handouts, not having too small of a TV or a used car), it's probably got more to do with your personal drive, not a lack of opportunities.

Many of us born here are becoming self-satisfied whiners who have no clue what most of the rest of the world is like, and have an overdeveloped sense of guilt and/or entitlement and no appreciation for having what our forbears worked their asses off to achieve.

I've seen Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Kuwait, and Iraq. I have personally known people from Canada, Sweden, Mexico, and England. It's not much of the world, but it's enough to convince me I'm better off here than anywhere else.

I'm proud of where I'm from.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Iowa Abate Weekend

Took off for the rally at Algona Thursday evening when I found out people were being allowed to set up early. Show up late at this thing, your tent ends up in the middle of a treeless field, surrounded by other tents six inches away filled with drunken sex-fiends. Which can be amusing, until you'd really, really like to get some sleep without entering an alcohol coma. Anyway, made it there and got set up under some trees close (but not too close) to the crappers. Turned around to head home for an early work day at dusk. Which reminded me why I don't like riding outside of town after dark anymore. You ALWAYS look for the reflection from deer eyes at night around here. I've x-rayed a number of patients who've ploughed into, and sometimes through deer on their bikes over the years. What's hard to see is critters low to the ground, like that big, big mama coon. I managed to notice her being back lit when she was fifty yards out (at 60 mph), but didn't see the two young ones following her until about ten yards out. No grief on either side, but plenty of elevated heart rate. Worse was the skunk that I missed by a foot on my left at a good 70 mph. I didn't know those little bastards could run fast, and having one appear at full speed from the dark shoulder of the road gave me what could have been described as angina in calmer circumstances. After that, I made it home without further incident, but highly paranoid. Never did see any deer.