Thursday, May 24, 2018

I did not know that

Last weekend I took the Oregon ACES class, a somewhat intensive course for amateur radio operators in emergency response. Unlike most such training, this one has a fairly rigorous hands-on component. More about that later.

Of the things that I learned that stand out, an odd one is this:

Everyone knows the "Mayday" for emergencies. Fewer are aware that it is from the French m'aidez, "help me."

What I did not know was that there are two other "levels" of emergency calls:
In order of priority, mayday is the internationally recognized distress call that is used as preface in VHF radio transmissions only in situations in which there is an immediate danger of loss of life or the vessel itself. This includes when a boat is sinking, there’s a fire in the engine room, or someone on board is unconscious or experiencing a serious injury or illness.

Pan-pan is the international urgency signal that is used as a preface to a VHF transmission when the safety of a person or the boat is in serious jeopardy but no immediate danger exists, but it could escalate into a mayday situation. For example, pan-pan is used in situations in which the boat has a slow leak or the engines are disabled and the boat is drifting toward a rocky shore.

Sécurité is a safety signal used as a preface to announce a navigation safety message. This may be an approaching storm, a navigation light failure, a submerged log in a harbor entrance or military gunnery practice in the area.
Source.  Which has further information that is supposed to be included in a proper SOS message.

Hopefully, news you can't, and never can, use...

Friday, May 18, 2018

Big Island Memories

Kilauea Crater from 10,000'. Note the lava visible through the vent.
Taken during an aerial tour of the Island of Hawai'i, September, 2008.
© 2008 and 2018, D.W. Drang & The Cluemeter
Same flight. Stark view of where the Lava field ends and the dirt begins.
© 2008 and 2018, D.W. Drang & The Cluemeter
If you clickabiggin this, you'll see a house and a car in the lava.
© 2008 and 2018, D.W. Drang & The Cluemeter
Looks dramatic, far less dramatic than conditions right now...
© 2008 and 2018, D.W. Drang & The Cluemeter

One of the vents (at least one) lets out right in the sea. Very dramatic.
© 2008 and 2018, D.W. Drang & The Cluemeter
The lava field, close up. Life persists .
© 2008 and 2018, D.W. Drang & The Cluemeter

A less dramatic view.
© 2008 and 2018, D.W. Drang & The Cluemeter
Even in 2010, there was a section of highway that was closed, you could enter during the day, but after sundown the entrance was shut off. Great view of active vents at the time. Far enough back that stabilizing the typical handheld camera (or cellphone) was a challenge.
© 2008 and 2018, D.W. Drang & The Cluemeter
And as the sun slowly sinks in the west...
© 2008 and 2018, D.W. Drang & The Cluemeter

Thursday, May 17, 2018

WA: NRA Files Legal Challenge Against Misleading Ballot Title for Gun Control Initiative

This just in:
NRA-ILA | Washington: NRA Files Legal Challenge Against Misleading Ballot Title for Gun Control Initiative
Thursday, May 17, 2018 
Yesterday, NRA filed a legal challenge in the Thurston County Superior Court objecting to the misleading and inadequate ballot title for Initiative 1639, which seeks to further restrict the Second Amendment rights of Washington's law-abiding citizens.  The Thurston County Superior Court will review all legal challenges before the ballot title and summary can be finalized for the initiative.

Initiative 1639, filed by Michael Bloomberg’s front group, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, is an egregious attack on Second Amendment freedoms and comes just months after failing to enact their gun ban agenda in Olympia.  Proponents of this 22-page initiative will have until July 6th to get 259,622 valid signatures to place the initiative on the November ballot.

Please spread the word to your family, friends, and fellow gun owners about this latest attack on self-defense rights in the Evergreen State!  Help protect Second Amendment rights in Washington and decline to sign this initiative petition.  

The proposed initiative, if passed, would do the following:
  • Require a 10 Day Waiting Period for Commonly Owned Rifles.  All semi-automatic rifle purchases and transfers would be subjected to a waiting period of 10 business days.
  • Establish a Government Registry of Firearms.  Current law states the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) “may” keep copies of pistol purchase applications.  The proposed initiative would instead require the DOL to keep copies of these purchase applications, and would expand this government registry to include semi-automatic rifle purchases.
  • Require Completion of a Training Course to Purchase Rifles.  This initiative would also require all purchasers of semi-automatic rifles to show they have completed a firearm safety training course within the last five years in order to proceed with the sale.
  • Impose up to a $25 Purchase Fee (GUN TAX) for Semi-Automatic Rifles.  The Washington Department of Licensing would be allowed to charge up to a $25 fee for each semi-automatic rifle purchase.  
  • Require Gun Owners to Lock Up their Firearms or Face Criminal Charges.  Individuals would be required to lock up their firearms or potentially face a criminal charge of “Community Endangerment Due to Unsafe Storage of a Firearm” if the firearm is accessed by a prohibited person or minor.  This intrusive proposal invades people’s homes and forces them to render their firearms useless in a self-defense situation by locking them up.
  • Restricts Adults Aged 18-20 from Acquiring Modern Rifles.  Adults aged 18-20 would be prohibited from purchasing semi-automatic rifles and would not be allowed to receive them through a transfer or loan.  The proposed initiative would deny a segment of law-abiding adults from access to the most modern and effective firearms for self-defense, thus depriving them of their constitutional rights. 
  • Require “Warnings” for Firearm Purchases.  All firearm purchases would come with a notification about the “inherent risks” of firearm ownership as an attempt to further stigmatize firearms.
Again, please spread the word for your family, friends and fellow gun owners about the latest attack on Second Amendment rights in Washington.  Your NRA-ILA will continue to keep you updated on the status of the initiative, so please stay tuned to your email inbox and
Eternal vigilance, etc.

Volcano Preparedness Month

Tomorrow (May 18th, 2018) marks the 38th Anniversary of the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens, in WA.

In case you weren't aware, that's kind of a big deal here in the Evergreen State, and in Emergency Preparedness, and in Vulcanology.

Therefore, May is Volcano Preparedness Month here.

(Every month is Volcano Preparedness Month on The Big Island: Hawaiian Volcano Observatory...)

One event commemorating VPM is that a group of scientists with the Cascades Volcano Observatory and the Washington State Emergency Management Division (EMD's Volcano page.) hosted a Reddit Ask me Anything session: We Are U.S. West Coast Volcano Experts. Ask us Anything!

This was fascinating, educational, and  entertaining.

Fun facts:
  • Geologists do not use the term "overdue" when discussing the potential of a volcano to erupt. Volcanos do not maintain a schedule.
  • The Yellowstone "super-volcano" is unlikely to erupt any time soon, and when it does, it will probably be more like Kilauea than Mount Saint Helens.
  • Volcanologists become very territorial about their favorite volcanoes ("My volcano can take your volcano with one magma chamber tied behind it's back!" 
  • The greatest danger from Mount Rainier is from lahars, which will strand Mrs Drang, the cats, and I on our own island. (seriously, the 98003 will become cut off from the surrounding terrain, that which isn't submerged...)
  • The "'The floor is lava' game" gets very complicated when played by volcanologists.
  • A volcano may cause the earth to shake, but earthquakes don't cause volcanoes to erupt. 
    • Usually. If the volcano is right on top of a fault, maybe...
  • Apparently, the only decent volcano movies are documentaries.  
    • No, you can't drive your jeep over lava.
    • No, you can't outrun a pyroclastic flow.
    • No, you can't drill a hole and "relieve the pressure."
      • Not even by detonating a nuke "down there."
For fellow residents of Washington State, the Department of Natural resources maintains an online hazards map: Washington Geologic Information Portal. Plug in an address and see how vulnerable that location is to various hazards from earthquake, volcano, tsunami, etc. (Like I said, fairly safe here in the 98-Double Ought-3, although for some hazards it's relatively safe...)

While researching this, I ran across an old article in The Stranger which may have some currency: Nine Questions for Sandi Doughton, Author of Full-Rip 9.0: The Next Big Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest - Slog - The Stranger.
  • Now, if the Cascadia Subduction Zone cuts loose, we may still be on an island here in the 98-Double Ought-3, but I'm not sure it'll help...

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Happy Cultural Appropriation Day! (EDIT)

Not a topic I thought I'd be citing CNN for, but...
Cinco de Mayo: What it is, and what it isn't - CNN
Includes this fact-bomb:
There was no Cinco de Mayo war.
The holiday celebrates Mexico's victory over France in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It was a relatively minor battle -- the French reclaimed Puebla a year later -- but a symbolic one because a small Mexican army defeated a larger occupying force. By 1867, Mexican troops had driven France from the country.
Many Americans assume Cinco de Mayo is Mexico's Independence Day. It's not. That holiday falls on September 16 and commemorates the Grito de Dolores, a priest's ringing of a church bell in the town of Dolores in 1810 that triggered Mexico's War of Independence from Spain.
This is a slightly less face-palmingly stupid question, what with a commercial currently running for a Mexican cerveza that refers to "The Battle of Cinco de Mayo." Complete with footage of a bartender polishing glasses in the middle of the battle. (If there was a bartender at the Battle of Puebla, he was a French quartermaster doling out the vin ordinaire ration to les soldats.)

Ugh. I've been making fun of people that think Cinco de Mayo is a huge Mexican holiday for years.

The fun has gone out of that,though, now that I've discovered that the Southern Poverty Law Center (which has precious little to do with either poverty or the law, mostly seeming interested in accusing conservative institutions of being hotbeds of racist terrorism) has condemned Cinco de Mayo as cultural appropriation.

Damned progressives, always ruining everybody's fun...

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

May Day, 2018

This about sums it up:

Monday, April 30, 2018

Pleasantly Surprised

So Mrs. Drang walked in the house and asked me "What did you order from Ukraine?"

I laughed and said "That's exactly how I thought this conversation would go."

Anyway. There have been reports of prowlers in the neighborhood, and I work midnights.  Suddenly, that 20 gauge old coach gun I'd bought her for Christmas all those years ago seemed like more than just a prop for the contemplated (but not acted upon) pursuit of Cowboy Action Shooting as a hobby.

The thing with a double barrel shotgun, of course, is that you only have two shots. Also, it is hard to maintain it in  a "cruiser ready" status, that is, shell in the magazine, but none chambered. On a pump action shotgun you load the magazine but have the slide all the way back...

I had a butt-mounted shell holder, but it was so loose on the 20 that it slid forward. Also, it's nylon and elastic, so looked "wrong".

Amazingly few leather shell holders for 20 gauges out there, until I found an outfit on Etsy, BronzeDog. Price was reasonable for all-leather, so I ordered one...

Buttstock Cartridge Holder Leather Buttstock Ammo Holder

...and that, of course, was when I discovered they're in Ukraine.

I placed the order on April 17th. They make to order, which means they started working on it when I placed the order.

We picked it up It arrived today, the 30th. {EDIT: The 30th being Monday, and the UPS store being closed on Sunday, it might have come in Saturday afternoon after we picked up mail.}

The lace locks in behind the swell of the pistol grip pretty firmly.
Photo ©2018 D.W. Drang and the Cluemeter
I need to pick up some more 20 gauge buckshot.
Photo ©2018 D.W. Drang and the Cluemeter
The cheekpad is a nice touch.Not too high.
Photo ©2018 D.W. Drang and the Cluemeter

The excess lace will be tucked in.
Photo ©2018 D.W. Drang and the Cluemeter

They do butt and belt mounted ammo holders for rifles and shotguns, and satchels for same for range or hunting blind use, and also do dog collars and the like.

Good, high-quality leather, and sturdy construction.  Recommended.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Word Of The Day: Baizuo

The Word Of the Day is: Baizuo (from Urban Dictionary.)
Baizuo (pronounced "bye-tswaw) is a Chinese epithet meaning naive western educated person who advocates for peace and equality only to satisfy their own feeling of moral superiority. A baizuo only cares about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment while being obsessed with political correctness to the extent that they import backwards Islamic values for the sake of multiculturalism.

The Chinese see the baizuo as ignorant and arrogant westerners who pity the rest of the world and think they are saviours.
Justin Trudeau's worldview is a low-resolution caricature of an adult's worldview.

Baizuo at Wikipedia.
Baizuo (Chinese: 白左, literally "White left(ies)"[1]) is a derogatory Chinese epithet that came into being in the middle 2010's.[2][3] The word received attention in Germany where it was seen as criticizing the immigration policies of Angela Merkel.[4][5][6]

Context and usage

The word baizuo is, according to political scientist Zhang Chenchen, a Chinese word that ridicules Western "Liberal elites".[7] The term has also been used to refer to perceived double standards of the Western media, such as the alleged bias on reporting about Islamist attacks in Xinjiang.[8][9][10]
Zhang Chenchen further defined the word "baizuo" with the definition "People who only care about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment" and “have no sense of real problems in the real world”; they are hypocritical humanitarians who advocate for peace and equality only to “satisfy their own feeling of moral superiority”; they are “obsessed with political correctness” to the extent that they “tolerate backwards Islamic values for the sake of multiculturalism”; they believe in the welfare state that “benefits only the idle and the free riders”; they are the “ignorant and arrogant westerners” who “pity the rest of the world and think they are saviours”.[11]
Baizuo is used as an insult amongst Chinese netizens.

See also

Can you say "Baizuo"? I knew you could.

Friday, April 27, 2018

20 years, down the drain

And just like that, my Army career was rendered irrelevant.

Pacific Stars and Stripes: Moon and Kim Discuss Denuclearization at Historic Summit

BBC: North Korea's Kim Jong-un Pledges 'New History' With South Korea

The Times: Koreas Poised For ‘Great Transition in World History’

Voice of America: North, South Korean Leaders Hold Historic Meeting

Moon and Kim
Photo from The Small Wars Journal

Moon and Kim
Photo from The Small Wars Journal
Not really, of course.

Note, by the way, that Kim and Moon did not sign a peace treaty, which some of the reporting implied happened. It sounds like they agreed to look into it later this year.

No, what is so momentous is the fact that the heads of state met: Neither country has heretofore even acknowledged that the other existed legitimately. North Korea has always insisted on meeting with the USA alone, while the USA refuses to meet separately, and officially designates it "north Korea", with a small "n".

As I was explaining to a colleague in The Salt Mines,  I served for 20 years, 3 months, and 3 days, and almost 9 of those years were in the Republic of Korea. I spent a fair amount of time on, or within rifle-shot of, the Demilitarized Zone.

One year I was Watch NCO at Field Station Korea; this was under Bush 41, when Mrs. Drang and I were still newlyweds, and de-nuclearization talks on The Peninsula were proceeding well enough that every installation in the republic of Korea was required to make plans for how to deal with commie inspectors.

At a facility that was a wholly-owned subsidiary, so to speak, of the National Security Agency (which was still commonly referred to as "No Such Agency" at the start of my career) you might assume this resulted in some angst.

You would be correct, but it might surprise you that the Secret Squirrel contingent just read the instructions, and made plans accordingly. (Collection operations would be suspended, equipment turned of, and contents of filing cabinets and the like would be covered with kraft paper. IIRC, things would filed so that the kraft paper could be pulled back to reveal files, but they would be set up in such a manner that nothing could be learned of the contents of files by so doing. They would not have the right to inspect read the files, just do a quick scan with the Mark I Eyeball, and wave a Geiger Counter over it, if they wanted.)

(This was the first use I saw of an Access Card scanner; some genius covered those boxes with kraft paper...)

No, the person who really got all spun up was the NCOIC of the Information Technology Section. (Whatever we called it back on 1990.)

Mind you, that doesn't mean we were all impressed, those of us who had already invested a significant amount of time and effort into the "Korean Mission" fully expected the whole thing to come to naught, which it did.


My standard answer regarding peace on the Korean Peninsula remains "I'll believe it when I see it", but I must admit, for the first time since 1980 I do feel some hope.