8.28.2004

always pay your debts

Two guys are walking down the street when a mugger approaches them and demands their money. They both grudgingly pull out their wallets and begin taking out their cash. Just then one guy turns to the other and hands him a bill and says, "Here's that $20 I owe you."

8.26.2004

Dream Plane, Blackbird Fly Away

No, I'm not talking about flying away in everyone's dream airplane the SR-71 Blackbird:

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Instead, I'm talking about two songs by fellow Tennessean Serena Matthews, Dream Plane and Blackbird Fly Away.

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Maybe you've heard these before because she says in her biography that she started uploading songs on mp3.com in 2001 and had over 100,000 downloads by the time they shut down in 2003. But I first heard them a few days ago so here they are.

I'm not sure what you'd call her music, but it's sort of folk rock with a touch of country. To me, she sort of sounds like what Joanna Newsom might sound like in 10 years if her voice calms down a bit and she becomes more conventional. Whatever you call it, Serena's voice is as beautiful as she is.

She's got a blog, a website and her albums are available for a mere $8.50 apiece so there's no excuse, simply no excuse, for you to be sitting there with $8.50 still in your pocket when music like this is but a click away.

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Serena Matthews - Blackbird Fly Away.mp3

Like a broken basketball
on a dirty backyard court,
I was unable to roll away
but I have air now

Up this ladder, I keep climbing
trying to reach a little farther
dig my hands into the water
breaking up the storm
(and there she goes)

[chorus]
Blackbird, fly away
into the hollow sky
Blackbird, take me with you
'cause I can't fly
I'll hold on tightly
(but I can't fly)

Looking up , I reach out
stealing falling feathers
as they tumble to the ground
it's strange how they
work so well for you
while slowing me down
(blackbird, I envy you)

(repeat chorus)

I could leave here on my own
if my heart was not so heavy
maybe you can teach me
how to swim in the sky

Blackbird, fly away
into the hollow sky
Blackbird, take me with you
'cause I can't fly
I'll hold on tightly

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Serena Matthews - Dream Plane.mp3

Wasn't long ago we said we'd get away
said we'd pack up all our dreams and go away
said we'd fly to Venus when the next star came our way
seems like only yesterday we said

put me on a plane, fly me to a place
where the Heavens know my name
on a dream plane we're safe and warm
because the angels share their wings

sometimes when the sun falls down
I see the milky way and wonder
what their dreams are like up there

put me on a plane fly me to that place
where the Heavens know my name
on a dream plane we're safe and warm
where the angels share their wings

and even though I know it's just a dream
I still hold on to hope that one day
we'll pack our things and fly away
on that plane, on a dream plane
fly me where the Heavens know my name

on a dream plane fly me to a place
where the angels know my name
on a dream plane, safe and warm
where the angels share their wings



8.25.2004

Ella Blame

Damn, what cool music I have stumbled onto today. I present Ella Blame...



The description on their website says: "Ella Blame is a duo consisting of singer/composer Ella Blame...

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and composer/multi-instrumentalist Michael D. Temple.


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Well, they certainly look normal enough eh? Though I certainly find his blatant disregard of Rule #2 Of Firearm Safety rather alarming.

Anyway, as the website goes on: They write, compose, record and perform music never heard before of genres Psychedelic Pop, Progressive Dance, Psychedelic Dance, and Ethereal/Ambient.

So they're genrebenders, I guess. Whatever, this girls voice is wonderful. It just sort of floats and bounces around inside your head.

Their website has 14 songs for download, but all the mp3s are only samples except the one below. I deffinately recommend the samples of Ineffable Desire, Slippery Slope, Covered With Sweat, and I Can't Sleep.

Ella Blame - How Things Have Changed.mp3

I forgave you and I know
You forgave me, too.
We had much time to think about,
And I know it's true
That I do love you.

We are not perfect
Although we really try.
We believed not to be
Strong enough to
Live without a lie.

Come, come, come,
Home to me.
Come, come, come,
Home to see.
Come, come, come,
Home to me.
Come, come, come,
Home to see
How things have changed,
How things have changed.

We are just human beings
And should give our best
Not to destroy our feelings
Because what'll be the rest
We would leave over?

I'll try not to hide myself
Behind my second face
And I hope you'll beside me.
There is a lot of space
For all the two of us.

Come, come, come,
Home to me.
Come, come, come,
Home to see.
Come, come, come,
Home to me.
Come, come, come,
Home to see
How things have changed,
How things have changed.

Come, come, come,
Home to me.
Come, come, come,
Home to see.
Come, come, come,
Home to me.
Come, come, come,
Home to see
How things have changed,
How things have changed,
How things have changed.

Come, come, come,
Home to me.
Come, come, come,
Home to see.
Come, come, come,
Home to me,
To me, to me, to me,
To see, to see,
To me.

Shooting results

We've just gotten the results from Sunday's competition. I came in third place overall which pleases me quite a bit since it was my first shoot. The two people who beat me were both range officers and the one who came in first place was the person who was in charge of the entire thing, including the scoring. He's a really good shooter and the other RSO substituted for him when it was his turn to shoot so he didn't cheat or anything. I'm pretty happy to have only lost to them.

The targets were standard IDPA-CB combat targets:

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The lowest score wins. Anything in the center counts as zero, anything in that oblong octagon that surrounds the circle counts as +1 point and anything anywhere else on the target counts +3. I think a complete miss counts +5 but I didn't get any misses so I'm not entirely sure. They take your time and add whatever points necessary to it and that's your score.

Over the course of the day I had +13 points (four +3's, one +1) which is the same as the guy who came in first place. The guy who came in second had +29 but had a much better time, however after it was all scored I only lost second place by less than three points so if I had placed one shot more accurately I would have came in second. Of course if the guy who came in second had placed one shot more accurately I would have still been third. The person who came in fourth had +12 points but took a little more time. It's hard to balance speed and accuracy.

The competition isn't very important to me. I want to do well because I want to do well, not because I want to beat anyone, but it's interesting to analyze how I did against other people in order to identify aspects that I need to improve on.

8.24.2004

Precious Vapor

Today's sad song(s) aren't very sad at all. They're Precious and Vapor from the Neverland album by Jillian Ann.

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Jillian Ann - Precious.mp3

Jillian Ann - Vapour.mp3

These are two electronic/techno/ambient type songs, and I don't normally like those genres of music but I like these songs so much that I've been listening to them all day.

I had this song titled Vapor.mp3 on my hard drive for a while but I only listened to it once and forgot about it. Yesterday I finally tried to figure out who the artist was. Come to find out it's Jillian Ann who is an actress, artist, singer, songwriter, and model. Yep model, her website says she's modeled all over the world and appeared in many magazines as well. In other words she's a successful professional model.

I know it's a stereotype, but I don't usually expect models to be very bright or creative. I dated a model for a year (I'm not bragging, actually I'm sort of ashamed that I stayed with her for so long because it was a bad relationship) and she was one of the dumbest, spoiled and most self-centered girls I've ever met. Without her looks she would have been totally incapable of functioning in society. She fit the model stereotype well.

So normally when I find out an artist is a professional model I wouldn't even bother to check out their music, but in Vapour, Jillian Ann teaches me a lesson about stereotyping. Literally. The lyrics are "Don't judge my life until you've looked me in the eyes."

She does all these songs by herself. All the music and vocals and everything. Not bad for a 23 year old. She also gets extra credit for having 560 megabytes of mp3s at her website. Some are terrible electronic screeches, some are guitar or piano numbers and a great many have beautiful or haunting vocals.

This girl also gets extra points for having a link on her site to a page called "for models" with a link right below that called "for humans." One can only take that as a subtle judgement of models.

Oh yeah, for extra extra points, she was born in my home state of Tennessee.

8.23.2004

Fragile little Girl, Do You Feel What I Feel?

Today's sad songs are is Fragile little Girl and Do You Feel What I Feel by the unsigned artist Cassie Melody.

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Ya know, I don't really know what to say except these are not to be missed. These have to be some of the deepest and saddest lyrics I've heard in a long time. And her voice and the reverb echo just make them seem even more so. Just listen, and visit her homepage for many more mp3s (and note that she says Do You Feel What I Feel is an unfinished demo that she wrote in 30 minutes. Not bad for my new favorite song!)

Cassie Melody - Fragile Little Girl.mp3

Cassie Melody - Do You Feel What I Feel.mp3

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War Medals

Since Bush's hitmen are so wont to examine the medals that John Kerry earner whilst serving in the Vietnam War, it's only fair we examine Bush's medals as well.

Guidance

A man was riding the subway next to another man who looked very wealthy. Eventually they struck up a conversation and the man asked the wealthy man how he bacame rich. He replied that the Bible had given him guidance. When the poor man asked him how that worked he told him that he was down on his luck one day and asked God to help him out. He then closed his eyes, opened the Bible, and put his finger down on a random page. His finger had landed on the word "pigs" so he took all his money and invested in pork futures and became rich.

When the poor man got home he decided to try it. He told his wife that he didn't believe in God or the Bible but that whatever his finger landed on, he would trust that God was telling him that it was in his future.

He closed his eyes, opened the Bible, and put his finger down on a random page. He opened his eyes to see that his finger was on the words "Chapter Eleven."

IQ Test

One of these images is not like the other. Can you pick out which one?

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You might have guessed number four because our president, though prissy, is allegedly a male, but you would be wrong. Though he is male and not topless, he still ranks as one of the biggest boobs in the country. I was going for number three because the angle is different.

I hope you learned something because I put a lot of hard work into crafting this test. It took me countless minutes to find all the right images by doing google image searches. Countless and still counting.

8.22.2004

My first pistol competition

I took part in my first pistol competition today. Not sure how I did yet, they're supposed to email us with the scores, but I was just hoping to be in the upper half. After shooting, I think I'll probably be in the upper 1/4 and with any luck I may even place.

It was an informal, no-prize affair put on by the Volunteer Rifle & Pistol Club. It was a fun little shoot modeled on the GLock Sport Shooting Federation course. It looked a li'l something like this:

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I had a pretty quick time through the entire course. Accuracy-wise, on stage one I was shooting center mass on the 5, 7, 10, and I think on the 15, but shot real low on the first pass at the 25. Then I missed it completely twice on the second pass at the 25 because, stupid me, I had my wrist twisted trying to shoot around the barricade and pulled them off too far left.

On stage 2, I had a good time but took 11 shots to drop the plates (6 would have been perfect, the best did it in 7). Two did hit the targets but failed to knock them over. It was my first time shooting at plates. Everyone dreaded them because they're supposed to be hard. I didn't really believe them because I have no problem hitting a 3 inch bulls eye at a paper target, but the plates really were hard for some reason.

On stage 3 I hit all center mass at 7 yards and had a low time to boot. At 15 yards I hit 7 center mass and had two on the line (+1 point) and one all the way out on the "shoulder" (+3 points). If memory serves, the only person who did better was an RSO who was shooting with us and I think I did better at 7 yards while he creamed me at 15. But, he was shooting a .45 while I was using a 9mm, so I had an advantage. In other words, he's a good shooter.

They are putting on two interesting shoots in September and October. The first is the Federal Air Marshal course and the second is the MEU(SOC) course. That's "Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable)."

Unfortunately, I can't find any info on the MEU(SOC) course but the Federal Air Marshal qualification course is well known. The beurocrats are often seen on television talking about how the Federal Air Marshals have the "highest shooting qualification standards of all law enforcement agencies" but that's nonsense. It's highly specialized for close quarters and, as a result, not as hard as many other courses. It's all shot at 7 yards and I have given up shooting targets at 7 yards, opting instead for putting holes in Post-it Notes® at that distance.

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The largest difficulty with the course is that it's relatively unforgiving and shot at a high speed, but it's all relative speed; short bursts. Pull out and shoot a round or two in 1.5 seconds then take a breather.

Still, that isn't to say it's easy, per se, it's just not "the most difficult." I've always thought that the FBI "Q" course, for example, would be more difficult because it's more complicated. And if we really want to argue, are they counting all the SWAT teams in that statement too?

It's still good training for that particular job and before 9-11 some of the best shooters in the world were Air Marshals. That had more to do with the fact that Air Marshals were mostly ex SpecOps folks than with the pistol course, but it's still good training for close quarters. Unfortunately the entire qualification course was scrapped after 9-11 when the need for recruitment numbers became more important than marksmanship. I hope it's been reinstated now.

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FAM training is shot cold on a FBI-QIT "coke bottle" target. Point value inside bottle = 5. Point value touching line or outside bottle = 2. Maximum possible score = 150. Mininum qualifying score = 135. Cannot take longer than maximum alloted time on any stage or the shooter fails.

Stage one: From a concealed holster, draw and fire one round within 1.65 seconds. Do this twice for a combined maximum total of 3.30 seconds. Total rounds fired: 2

Stage two: From the Low Ready position, fire two rounds into target (double tap) within 1.35 seconds. Do this twice for a combined maximum total of 2.70 seconds. Total rounds fired: 4

Stage three: From the Low Ready position, fire 6 rounds at one target withing 3 seconds. No more than 0.6 seconds between each shot. Total rounds fired: 6

Stage four: From the Low Ready position, fire one shot, speed reload, fire one more shot within 3.25 seconds. Do this twice for a combined maximum total of 6.50 seconds. Total rounds fired: 4

Stage five: From the Low Ready position, fire one round at each of two targets 3 yards apart within 1.65 seconds. Do this twice for a combined maximum total of 3.30 seconds. Total rounds fired: 4

Stage six: From a concealed holster, start facing away from targets, pivot 180 degrees and draw, firing one round at each of three targets from left to right withing 3.50. Do this twice for a combined maximum total of 7 seconds. Total rounds fired: 6

Stage seven: From the Low Ready position with only one round loaded, fire the one round at the target. When the slide locks back, drop to one knee, reload, fire one more round, all within 4.00 seconds. Do this twice for a combined maximum total of 8 seconds. Total rounds fired: 4

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