Friday, May 31, 2013

The government cannot save you.

So, in the wake of the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby the British security services find themselves answering to the House of Commons as to why they didn't prevent it.

Prevent it? How, numbnuts? How exactly do you propose they prevent it?

I hate to break this to you, but Minority Report was not a documentary; there is no roomful of "precogs" someplace who can determine when some violent smack-talker is going to suddenly up and switch over from words to deeds.

You can't follow everybody who talks violent revolution around every moment of every day. You can't issue everybody their own bodyguard. (And let's not forget that the victim in this case was a soldier, so who bodyguards the bodyguards?) People get shanked in maximum security prisons, for heaven's sake; if you can't stop it there, then you certainly aren't going to stop it out in the wider world.

A good start would be allowing everybody to serve as their own bodyguard because, when it comes right down to brass tacks, government can't protect, only punish. Whether your assailant comes at you with ballistic missiles or butcher knives, all the .gov can do is retaliate after the fact.

Be Prepared: You will be your own first responder.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

God help me, it does...

...look like Hitler a little bit. An adorable, chibi Hitler.
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Six miles today...

Not because I was feeling especially exercise-y or anything, but because I forgot the paper towels and toilet tissue and had to go back to Kroger.

I brought a plastic bag just in case the panties were still in the middle of the intersection, but somebody beat me to the neighborly duty, as it were.

Seen on Guilford:

Concours d'Elegance: Parked up in somebody's yard, in all its spring-torched and fart-canned glory, was this fairly straight early-'90s Civic...
Either the owner is one of many Dope Ones and does not understand the use of apostrophes, or there is only one Dope One, and this is his ride. I'm guessing a little Column A, a little Column B...
Incidentally, anybody that's coming to town for the Indy 1500 on Sunday, we're going to have a little... Blogmeet Lite? Blogmeet-ette? Whatever... We're going to get together for chow and stuff at the Broad Ripple Brew Pub at 3:00PM on Sunday. You should come say "Hi!"

Sorry 'bout that.

I can't even muster up the energy for a bout of anhedonia today. It's like I have a raging case of meh. Somebody say somethin' funny.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Summertime in SoBro 2013 Edition, Vol. II

Just got back from the morning's grocery run and the bike odometer is claiming I've pedaled fifty-one miles in the two weeks since I installed the little gizmo. None of that has been biking of the spandex-and-fingerless-glove,-I'm-going-exercising variety, but rather the jeans-and-groceries-in-the-basket sort of errand running around Broad Ripple for which I acquired the bike in the first place.

If you scratch-'n'-sniff, it smells like hobo piss.
The above photo is looking northeast from the bike rack in the Kroger parking lot. You're looking over Kilroy's, past Tru, to Brothers Bar & Grille. On most nights, the air would be thick with a haze of Axe body spray and the ground would be vibrating to the bass. In the morning... well, the other morning there was a pair of panties in the middle of the street at Guilford & 60th.

One of the disadvantages of my restored olfactory sense is that I've noticed this little corner of the Kroger's lot has a faint ammonia pong. I'm sure a small part of it is from alley cats staking out the good hunting turf around the dumpster, and part of it may be from Bridge Kids, which are Broad Ripple's juvenile subspecies of Hobo americanus. However, most of it is probably from the fact that Kroger rents its lot out to Broad Ripple revelers for parking in the evenings, and this little wall by the bike rack is a nice and secluded spot to recycle a half-dozen MGD's before driving home.

I... I'm at a loss for words here.

So, the body found under the mobile home by kids playing hide-and-seek in a Bloomington, IN trailer park was ruled dead of natural causes, if we accept that injuries caused by a fall while intoxicated are natural in a trailer park. Given some of the keggers I have attended in... er... "manufactured housing" in my time, I don't see this as that much of a stretch.

But, man, you want to talk about the opposite pole of rural Americana from Sheriff Andy and Aunt Bea, it'd be this. Kids in Mayberry never found Otis dead under a single-wide in any of the episodes I ever saw. (The setting also lacks some of the picturesque qualities for childhood body-finding like those of the Oregon woods in Stand by Me.)

There's also the whole... I mean, was he like a sick cat, who just crawled into the tall grass under an abandoned trailer to die?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Idiocy. Simple kneejerk idiocy.

Save the trees!

Except the trees in question are pulpwood grown specifically for the purpose on tree farms.

Telling power plants not to burn pellets to "Save The Trees!" is EXACTLY like telling people not to eat Fritos to "Save The Corn!"

The Democrats' favorite Republican...

Bipartisanship!

Fresh from trailing the hem of his garment through the tornado wreckage in Oklahoma, our Dear Leader is now walking arm-in-arm with the Democrats' favorite Republican down the Jersey Shore and the Today show talking heads are practically decorating their cupcakes on camera at the sight of The One and Double Stuff making kissy face.

If it were up to The Chattering Class right now, the GOP wouldn't even need a primary in 2016; 30 Rock has picked their man to lose the next election.

In case you were wondering...

...why so many small flashlights of the "tactical" variety have those funny flanges at both ends (or what you're supposed to do with those Klingon Navy issue pens sold by Surefire and other companies), my friend John Shirley has done a handy brief overview of their use, complete with video.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Local Color I

The sign for the Red Key Tavern, 49th & College Ave.

Tamara K., consulting detective...

A French soldier is attacked with knife from behind while patrolling in whatever it is one calls the 'hood in gay Paree by a "possibly North African" guy in a white "Arab-style" tunic. The Frog government was swift in its Clouseau impersonation:
Interior Minister Manuel Valls noted the similarity in an interview on France 2 TV saying the attacker was clearly trying to murder his victim, but he added that it was too early to offer any theories.
Really? 'Cause I have a theory if you need one: He was stressed out because of his impending deployment to Afghanistan and as a result, he lashed out in an act of workplace violence... No, wait, that was the guy at Fort Hood...Never mind.

Wellll, maybe it was... you know... the "t-word".

Incidentally, as one might expect, France is much more fashionable than us in the Terror Alert Color Code department, having jumped from Alert Level Mauve clean past Alert Level Puce and straight to
"red, reinforced", one step down from "scarlet", which is only activated in case of a serious and confirmed attack.

We have a winner!

Break out the checkered flag, folks, because I have breaking news: Tamerlane Tsarnaev has won the Indianapolis 500!

DHS and TSA are "assisting" with entry security at the race today and TV news is showing lines tens of thousands long, snaking around the block from each entrance. They're interviewing pissed off and frustrated people in the queue who will almost certainly not make it in for the start of the race. Speculation is that the lines are already so long that people in the back will probably miss most of the race, which must be swell if you drove in from Wisconsin, like one teed-off interviewee had.

It's a disaster.

Andretti Autosport and Penske Racing have had their asses kicked by Team Bin Laden, with its rookie phenom driver Tsarnaev, but Team Bin Laden couldn't have done half as well without its gifted mechanics, Bush and Obama.

EDIT: State po-po is saying "Not our fault! You should have arrived earlier! 'We're not going to compromise safety for the convenience of anyone trying to get in.'"

Der Tag.

I had considered going to Marion County Fish & Game to do some shooting today, but came to my senses, since that entire corner of the city is gridlocked as  over [ATTENDANCE FIGURES ARE SOOPER SEEKRIT*] thousand people come to watch a pack of cars charge straight at a wall at over two hundred miles an hour and then turn left at the last second. That's right: It's RACE DAY.

MCF&G is in the small oval on the left. Yes, the firing line faces east. Please don't launch one over the berm.
Apparently the kickoff or first pitch... this is Indiana, so it's probably a tip-off... or whatever happens at 12:12, which means that it's about time for the ritual sacrifice of a meteorologist to appease the weather gods. (Unlike F1, Indy is not run in the rain, perhaps due to the less-forgiving nature of the circuit. Concrete walls aren't as friendly a runoff area as big pea gravel pits.)

Despite the Indiana State Legislature not being happy with making his marriage illegal and wanting to go one step further and make it unconstitutional, Jim Nabors will be singing "Back Home Again In Indiana" as he has done since 1972, proving himself to be classier and more gracious than a whole room full of legislators.

I'm going to hop on a bicycle and go find a deserted restaurant to be fawned over by lonely waitstaff. This is the one day in Indy where I may be able to get a good Sunday brunch after 0801hrs without having to wait thirty minutes for a table. 



*Seriously, they don't release attendance figures, but it's gotta be more than a quarter-million.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Summertime in SoBro, 2013 Edition...

It's been a cool and wet spring, and Broad Ripple's famous gargoyle is looking a little like a garghillie:

Blending in with the environment.

I'd never noticed the little details on the roof...

Bobbi says the ornamental roof crest will keep witches from sitting on your roof. I do not know if this is true, but it sure sounds good. Alas, honest little Roseholme Cottage would look a little silly with such gingerbread, and so we must be ever on the alert for witches perching up there among the antennae.

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Overheard in the Office...

RX: "Some day we'll have Obama Voter Memorial Day, remembering those who put on the unicorn and lost."
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Friday, May 24, 2013

Sometimes they're creepy-smart.



Watch as the cat knocks on the door and then turns around expectantly to see if it opens. I'm fairly certain he doesn't have the whole chain of events ironed out (like a three-year-old or a drunk ex-boyfriend, he would probably knock 'til his foot fell off without ever thinking "Maybe nobody's home...") but there's an obvious rudimentary cause-and-effect relationship in his pointy little head between beating on the door and a monkey opening it.

About fifteen minutes before feeding time, Huck starts knocking stuff off Bobbi's dresser or hitting his sister, because it spurs a reaction from a mommy* that may involve putting food in front of The Stomach That Walks Like A Cat.


*I'm not being cutesy-wootsie here: Whereas dogs have fairly sophisticated social arrangements, cats have only one way of relating to their huge food-providing human companions.

Obviously a Sherlock Holmes fan...

Despite an apparent shortage of Glaringly Obvious that seems to have led to rationing, the UK still remains a leading exporter of Comic Understatement:
A dramatic clip filmed by an onlooker just minutes after the killing showed a man with hands covered in blood, brandishing a bloodied meat cleaver and a knife.

"We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day," the black man in his 20s or 30s, wearing a wool jacket and jeans and speaking with a local accent, shouted in the footage obtained by Britain's ITV news channel.

"This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."

[snip]

Prime Minister David Cameron cut short a visit to France to return to London and chair an emergency national security meeting.

"The police are urgently seeking the full facts about this case but there are strong indications that it is a terrorist incident," Cameron said...
Good Lord, Holmes! Do you think so?
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Next Year in Indianapolis!

Those of you coming to Indy for next year's NRA Annual Meeting need to make sure you see all the sights: The World War Memorial, the museum out at the track, our beautiful zoo and the nearby state museum, the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, and the armies of FBI agents milling around the halls of the City-County building carting off boxloads of documents.

Seriously, it's getting as busy as the flight deck of an aircraft carrier in there. Pretty soon we're going to need to put colored jerseys on the federal agents so you can tell them apart: Green for the Brizzi investigation, purple for the real estate kickback scandal, beer-bottle brown for anybody still down there investigating l'affair Bisard...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Stockholm is burning.

Hundreds of youths have set fire to cars and attacked police and rescue services in poor immigrant suburbs in three nights of rioting in Stockholm, Sweden's worst disorder in years.
I dunno... The EUtopians may seem all soft, docile, and toothless right now, but the recent immigrant welfare sponge class is playing with fire here. Euros have a proven zero-to-jackboots time lower than just about anybody on the planet. Get Gunter or Pierre all backed into a corner and feeling existentially threatened and you'll be wishing you hadn't, faster than you can say "Arbeit Macht Frei".

(And if and when nationalist parties do take over and dust off the banners and jackboots and whatever happens, happens... well... the liberal leftists who discouraged assimilation and encouraged welfare subsidies, the very factors that created these ghetto islands of alien discontent, will have nobody to blame but themselves.)

I just saw a thing...

...where they let you zip line over some alligators in Florida, and I swear to H.L. Mencken that my very first thought was "Is the harness fastened so that it needs some special tool to unlatch? Or is it a quick-release buckle, wide open for someone to commit a very exotic and YouTube-worthy suicide?"

(Bobbi: "The alligators have rubber teeth.")

In a nutshell...

Og boils blog comments down to their essence.

Remember: The only reason to share little bits of your life with the internet is so that random strangers can tell you that you're doing it wrong.
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De-smogged.

When I was younger, it was not uncommon to peer under the hood of some piece of mid-'70s Detroit iron and see severed-'n'-plugged vacuum lines everywhere, the result of a teenager's attempt at "de-smogging" the car to try and awaken all the latent horsepower that must have been lurking in there somewhere.

I feel the same way about buying a Windows desktop machine from one of the major manufacturers today. The first thing I have to do is get all the bloatware out from under the hood. There's nothing more annoying than being in the middle of slaying dragons or shooting tangos and having the screen drop to the desktop with an urgent window letting you know that your Free Trial Subscription to Super Coupon Value Saver is about to expire. The downside of the All New!® Windows 8 interface is that I'm having the devil's own time finding where all this stuff connects, and feeling like I'm just clipping vacuum lines and threading sheet metal screws into the severed ends.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I want to be a clone.

Cloneliness is next to Godliness.
Another Acadia Green Metallic '99 Forester L with a tan interior running around Broad Ripple... with a "Mitt" sticker. Is hippieflage officially a thing now? *checks Google* Apparently it is.

Sunday morning...

Ruger 22/45 and M&P 9. Again.
Gun pic from Sunday morning... which is kinda pointless, because it looks like the gun pic from the range trip before that, and the range trip before that, and the range trip before... well,  you get the point.

Maturity test...

Everybody else in our little group walked past this sight just fine, but I went into a fit of Beavis-and-Butthead-esque snickering.


Then again, I can't walk down the imported foods aisle at the grocery store without collapsing into helpless giggles at the sight of a can of spotted dick.

Lord, grant me maturity, but not yet.

I'd say it's psychosomatic, but that's all in my head.

I don't know how medical personnel do it. After taking care of a sick roomie for a day or two, every physical sensation I get is filtered through the light of her reported symptoms.

Is that twinge the onset of a sore throat? I feel a little hot, but is it because it's hot in here, or is it just me? There's a tiny bit of a headache, but is it just that I'm dehydrated first thing in the morning and haven't had caffeine yet, or am I coming down with RobertaXitis?

The smart thing to do, of course, would be to proceed with my normal weekday routine and peek in on her every so often, rather than lounging about in my pyjamas and psyching myself into being sick, too.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I has a sad...

Those cool 10-8 mag floorplates for the M&P? As it turns out, even with rounded corners that are snag-free to the touch, the matte anodized aluminum will abrade its way through a cotton chambray shirt in a surprisingly short amount of time.

EDIT: Because apparently this needed clarification, that shirt went through two summers with the same gun under it. I changed mag floorplates and... BAM! ...holed in a month. As mikee pointed out in comments, since aluminum oxide is, you know, used as the abrasive on sandpaper, this probably should not have come as a surprise. Hey, Hilton Yam: Outstanding product, but maybe you should consider some clearcoat? Someone should bring this to his attention.

The abraded area is a couple inches square.
 Back to the factory plastic parts for CCW. :(
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Unsicher bei jeder Geschwindigkeit

...is the topic of Road & Track's June issue. I'm a Car & Driver reader myself (I defected from R&T back in the '80s) but I picked this issue up since it was a 50th anniversary paean to the Porsche 911, which has always been somewhat of a dream car of mine. I've driven a couple of 911s, but still haven't owned one; the closest I've come is a pair of 924 volksPorsches: a '78 and an '87 "S" model. The latter's 50/50 weight distribution, high polar moment, and benign departure characteristics make it practically the antiparticle* of a '73 Carrera RS in the handling department.

The link in Marko's post went well with a lot of the reminiscing in the R&T retrospective. It's easy to forget that the early 911 was a success in spite of its handling, not because of it. That, and the fact that there was no word in German for "Ralph Nader" back in the Sixties.

*Firefox's spellchecker knows "antiparticle", which tickles me no end, for some reason.

Overheard in Roomie's Bedroom...

The TeeWee is tuned to the TODAY show. The entire TODAY crew had been en route from Hawaii to Yellowstone for their little 'Tour of America' week of filming on location in vacation spots when the monster tornado ripped through Oklahoma yesterday.

Like a gigantic aluminum buzzard circling down to a fresh carcass, the plane bearing Matt Lauer and company veered away from JAC and into the landing pattern for OKC.
Matt Lauer: "...At least the storms will be moving in a more positive direction."

Me: "What, towards New York?"
Later:
Reporter: "They're pulling tiny victims from the rubble..."

RX: "There's nothing network news likes better than tiny victims. They're like child abusers by proxy."
Incidentally, I am given to understand that TODAY pulls in half a billion in revenue for NBC and that Matt Lauer, in turn, is paid 25 million of that, which is insane. That Willie Geist guy seems like a nice and personable young man and surely pulls in more viewers than that odious choad of a prima donna Lauer repels, and probably at a fraction of the cost. Ditch Matt and maybe I'll actually watch your show sometimes, rather than just occasionally listening to it from the next room.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Automotif XI...

Summertime in SoBro again...

After returning from the range yesterday, I pedaled over to Twenty Tap for a steak salad and a pint of Upland's Lightwave. Parked up near 54th and College was this tastefully restomodded '62 or '63 Mercury Meteor:

Blues out in front of The Jazz Kitchen: I could see myself behind the wheel of this san-o Sixties Merc.

Hello!

Sunday nights are WoW nights, and most of the folks I run around with are on Mountain or Pacific time, so I'm usually up past pumpkin o'clock, hence the slow starts on Monday morning. I should have the nozzle on the free ice cream machine cleaned out shortly.

I'm going to finish this coffee and go put a couple miles under the bike's tires. Bobbi has pics from yesterday's range trip for your viewing pleasure in the meantime.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Expose yourself to art...

Yesterday was Art Fair time. I always enjoy the Broad Ripple Art Fair. Even though I can't tastefully decorate a jillion square foot mansion with original pieces, I can still wander around and "Ooh!" and "Aah!" at all the pretty stuff, and I usually manage to take home a trinket or three as a sort of souvenir...

Expose yourself to art! (Click to embiggenate.)
A square coffee mug from Dutch Lake Pottery.

The knife blade is hammered from an auger bit. The handle is sambar stag with a blood jasper pommel. From 2Jakes Custom Knives.

Postcards from ArtFroH! Including the awesome Lincoln vs. Washington: 4 Score and 7 of Butt-Whuppin'!

Dear Product Designer:

Why did you make the thread pitch so fine (or whatever the technical term is) on the cap on your tube of facial moisturizer? It takes 379 complete revolutions to get the cap back on the tube, which is a tricky thing to do nine-fingered while balancing a big glob of moisturizer on the tip of your index finger.

I hate you every morning.

Three and a half miles...

It's not much, but biking into Broad Ripple Proper and back in the mornings burns more calories than sitting at my keyboard.

Becoming a non-smoking user of Apple products has made me fat and stupid, and I'm trying to rectify that situation.

I think beer consumption at home is going to have to come to a screeching halt. If I want a pint, I can bike or walk to Twenty Tap or Fat Dan's.

There's also the synergistic effect that quitting smoking and doing most of my reading via the Kindle app on my iPad has had. I need to figure out a new reading ritual to replace sitting on the porch and smoking, because I've read maybe three complete books since I quit back in March, which is down some from my accustomed book-every-day-or-two clip.

And the reason I say three "complete" books is that the difference between reading on the iPad and reading a regular book is that on the Apple product, the distraction machine is built right in. Reading a history book and encounter something that tickles your hindbrain? Wikipedia is a button press and screen touch away! And while you're in there, better check your Facebook and Twitter, and see if anybody's posted in that forum thread you replied to, and your email account just chimed, and... where were we? Oh, yeah... page three. Still.

My Kindle currently has probably half-a-dozen or more books in various stages of completion, which is uncool.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Seen outside the Broad Ripple Art Fair...

Parked up along the Monon were these two very Broad Riparian steeds:

Very unlikely to be confused with the other bikes in the rack.

Pedaled into Broad Ripple Proper for a delicious brekkie at Petite Chou*. Wandered all over the Art Fair, then went to the Blogmeet, then went to see the new Trek movie. Absolutely whupped. More later.


*I had an omelet with Smoking Goose Ham, brie, and caramelized leeks. Yum!

BANG!

The post is over at the other blog this morning.
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Friday, May 17, 2013

Found on a random memory card...

Random Numbers "Rannie" Wu
My weird little lopsided chatterbox of a cat. She'll be twelve soon.

Clean machine.

While I was out yesterday running mundane errands, like getting Swiffer refills and more Epsom salts for the almost-completely-faded bruise on my backside, I stopped at the Staples next to Target on a whim and checked out the keyboards they had there for sale with an eye toward replacing the buck-wretched unit that came with the new machine.

Lo and behold, I discovered there is such thing as a Logitech washable keyboard. The keys are spaced a reasonable distance apart to avoid fat-fingering and give satisfying, if not exactly IBM Model M-like, tactile feedback when struck. As a bonus, there's a little brush clipped to the bottom of the keyboard for dusting stuff out from under the keycaps, and the USB connector on the cord has a tethered cap to cover it when you're giving it a scrub in the sink.

Very much liking it so far. Living at my keyboard as I do, this definitely has potential.

The whole freaking system is out of order.

I wonder how many liberal Democrat party loyalists who are indignantly pointing out that it's not like President Obama specifically called the IRS and told them to go after them right wing Tea Partiers would also insist that Captain Ernest Medina is as much of a war criminal as Lt. Calley or, to use a more recent analogy, hold Bush responsible for the excesses of Abu Ghraib.

Power that can be abused eventually and inevitably will be abused.

Forget it, Jake; it's Chinatown.
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Ugh.

Awful dreams, thankfully only remembered in fragments.

A dank, gray, decaying urban landscape, perpetually overcast and chilly enough to make the joints ache but never cold enough to snow. Rusting chainlink and unpainted concrete and brown weeds. Mobbed-up Russian immigrants. A handful of broken teeth. Always late. A daughter's feigned concern over the damage done by her father's fist, disgust flickering in her eyes and behind her words. Stolen moments of something like happiness in the shape of a pint flask, always fearful of being found out.

Brr.

One of those mornings where it was a relief to open my eyes. Time to pedal.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

That's a lot in Internet Years.

Kevin at The Smallest Minority just celebrated his tenth blogiversary.

To put that in Internet Perspective, when Kevin started blogging, he couldn't link to YouTube videos because YouTube didn't exist. The world was a better place because there were only two Matrix movies. He couldn't make fun of World of Warcraft players, although CoD was fair game, since the very first Call of Duty game came out at the same time. It would be four years before someone could leave a comment on his blog with an iPhone, and nobody could link to his blog via Reddit or Digg.

When I started VFTP, I wanted to grow up to be cool like Kevin.

Congrats on ten years, dude!

Overheard in the Office...

RX: "We're getting closer to Miss Bobbi's preferred world, where you could roof the house with solar cells..."

Me: "What, petroleum-based shingles and solar panels are on intersecting price curves?"

RX: "Exactly."

Blogmeet Reminder:

Saturday at 3:00PM at Fat Dan's.

Since there's an Indy 1500 Fun Show coming up on the 31st/1st/2nd, we should also arrange some sort of meet & eat for that Sunday, too, right?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Blogging Rule #17: If you've got nothin', cat picture.

As Bobbi related, I had to run an errand to the neighborhood plumbing supply joint yesterday; it was the kind of wholesale place I haven't been in since my brief dabbling in contracting when I was between gigs lo those many years ago.

While I waited for the guy to fetch my part from the back and write me up, I saw a perfectly enormous gray and white cat patrolling aimlessly on the floor on the other side of the counter. I made a *miaow* at him and he looked up and immediately hopped up on the countertop to check me out and accept a petting.

Plumber's Helper
"He's awful shy, ain't he?" I noted aloud.

I'd met Book Store Cats on plenty of occasions, but a Plumbing Supply Cat was a new one. His tag read "BELL BOY"; I didn't ask if it was his name or his job description.

Service was prompt and friendly. I hope nothing of a plumping nature goes tango uniform here at Roseholme Cottage in the near future, but if it does, I will be a cheerful repeat customer at Winthrop Supply. Besides, Lowe's doesn't have a cat for you to pet while they go get your stuff.

Stay on message!

Police have used video of the incident to identify an accomplice in the Mother's Day Dammit-We-Almost-Had-A-Massacre in New Orleans.

Hopes are high that if this accomplice is captured, he'll turn state's witness and finger the gun that actually committed the crime.

Stay tuned for more after this word from our sponsors.

*cue 'Gun Debate: USA' title card and theme music*
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Live free...

...but pay to park.

Don't you dare mess with the revenue flow from petty infractions; we're saving up for a new gazebo in the city park!

Pop goes the world!

So of the known great global plague outbreaks, the one in the Sixth Century AD is one of the most interesting. Cropping up at a turbulent time in history and alluded to in plenty of historical material, it was always assumed to be an earlier outbreak of the same y. pestis that devastated medieval Europe, but we didn't know...

Until just now, when digging up a graveyard and doing some testing turned up the plague bacterium on the bodies.

The reporter obviously needed a swoopy angle for the headline, however, and went with the sensational pop science History Channel-esque dubious conclusion:


Which reminds me of Tom Cruise's character in Collateral telling Jamie Foxx's cabdriver that he didn't kill the guy whose bullet-riddled corpse had plummeted five floors to land on the taxi's roof, he "just shot him; the bullets and the fall killed him."

Brownell's sweepstakes on the Facebookings...

Maybe a bottle of some zoomy gun cleaner isn't exactly the Powerball jackpot but, hey, free stuff!

This link should work.
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The gift that keeps on giving...

Marion County law enforcement is like a never-ending fount of blogfodder. If it's not IMPD officers getting likkered up and plowing through (and over) the scenery (and the voters), then it's shady dealings in the prosecutor's office.

The latest news is that the former chief deputy prosecutor of Marion County, David Wyser, has been arrested on multiple counts of "How Would You Like To Be A State's Witness?"

Carl Brizzi, former operator of a work release program for drunken prosecuting attorneys and well-known real-estate whiz, as well as being Wyser's old boss, is rumored to be the target of an ongoing corruption investigation.

Of all the...

...complaints about Windows 8, the one that least affects me is the loss of the "Start" button.

I have only just now realized that the only things I ever accessed through the Start button were the calculator, character map, and Paint. Everything else had a desktop icon or a taskbar button.

The idea of the Metro active tile interface is neat in concept, but its usefulness on a traditional desktop machine* is hampered by two things: Lack of a touchscreen, and the fact that Google and Facebook are now de facto competitors to Microsoft and Apple (and, increasingly, each other.)

I spend most of my time in Firefox, which runs in the "desktop" environment, anyway.


*A shrinking category, it seems. A thumbnail market survey shows that the traditional desktop market now largely consists of  high-end towers marketed to gamers and little "Grandma needs to do email" machines. The laptop section takes up more than half the computer department real estate at Fry's and half the laptop department is netbooks, ultrabooks, and tablets.

News from the late empire...

So there was a big election in Pakistan, tensions are still high in Asia Minor as Syria flings accusations at NATO member Turkey, the IRS stands openly accused of being a tool of the party in power, and what's NBC's BREAKING! LEAD! STORY! on the Today show this morning?

Angelina's boobs.

I went to get links on the other big stories mentioned above from BBC.co.uk/news, because they usually make even CNN.com look like People magazine, but this is what I saw in the Beeb's sidebar.


Sorry, Limeys, looks like you're in the shallow end of the pool with us. Pass that inflatable sea horsie over here, will you Nigel?
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Monday, May 13, 2013

Technical difficulties, please stand by...

Since the previous iteration of VFTP Command Central finally lunched its hard drive, I've been using my laptop as my primary computer.

Sure, a 17" laptop is in the class that brochures refer to as a "desktop replacement", but it's more like driving on a space-saver spare, at least if you're using the on-board display for desktop publishing type stuff. Trying to put links on a magazine page in Acrobat was like trying to read the Times through a mail slot. (That, and I question the ability of the components used in a <$400 commodity laptop to stand up to the heat and rigors of daily use for very long.)

So I finally sucked it up and bought a new tower; a name-brand highish-end game-y box on the lagging edge of the spec curve, on sale, and an open-box special to boot; and a monitor to go with it.

Upside: This thing is blazing fast compared to what I'm used to. I can hardly wait to start up a game on this thing and crank all the graphics sliders all the way to the right. It's been literally a decade since I could walk into a store and grab a game off the shelf without having to look at the requirements like some kind of peasant, and I plan on enjoying this sensation for the month or two it will last...

Downside: Windows bleepin' 8. Playing with it on tablets or touchscreen netbooks in stores, I've found it more intuitive and less onerous than all the whining would suggest. On a desktop with a mouse instead of a touchscreen? Meh. I'm underwhelmed.

Also, I had forgotten just how chintzy the keyboards they pack with these things are. I need to go dig out my old Logitech...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Airship privateers!

Sitting on the front porch yesterday, sipping a Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout and reading Red Eagles: Americas Secret MiGs, I heard the unmistakeable drone of aero engines overhead. Reciprocating aero engines. You know, the real kind.

Oddly, the noise remained extremely steady. If it was a plane, it must be circling overhead? Or maybe a Robinson... except for no accompanying rotor noise? I ducked my head out from under the porch roof and... mirabile visu! ...it was the Spirit of Goodyear, crabbing southwest against a headwind, seemingly just above the treetops. I ran inside to fetch a camera.


Had I been a real photographer, I would have got pics of the dad kneeling on the sidewalk across the street, each arm around a toddler, all three pointing into the sky and gawking in delighted wonder, having run outside as it thunder-droned majestically overhead...


When I worked at LZU in the late '90s, my office window looked out onto the ramp; kitty-corner from our FBO across the runway was where they'd tie down the MetLife blimp during the baseball postseason when the Braves were playing at home.

Happy Mother's Day!

Hi, Dad! If you happen to read this today, tell Mom "Happy Mother's Day!" for me and that I hope she's having a good time and getting some touristing in over there in Jolly Olde.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Tale of Two Languages...

English and Legalese, while related, are not the same language.

There has been some discussion about the charge of "use of a weapon of mass destruction" against the surviving Brother Kablamazov.

In this case, it is a term of art and is defined in the U.S. Code.

Laws are about things and/or actions. In order to legislate against a thing or action, you must first define exactly what the thing or action is that you wish to legislate against. This is why the copy of Indiana Criminal Code at my elbow contains definitions of everything from "store" ("a place of business where property or service with respect to property is displayed, rented, sold, or offered for sale") to "sexually violent predator defendant" (see IC 35-33-8-3.5(b))
(Note that these are Indiana's definitions, and "store" might mean something completely different in your state of residence or to the federal government.)

This is how, just to give some examples, for the purposes of a law, a piece of sheet metal the size of your pinkie nail is a "machine gun", an aluminum forging with holes broached in it is a "firearm", and a semiautomatic rifle is an "assault weapon".

QotD: Peterprincipleocracy Edition...

From Lawdog on the Defense Distributed kerfuffle:
Matter-of-fact, this whole sorry episode is going to be another footnote in the annals of history that future scholars will point to and say, "This was the period of time in which the Government of the United States consisted solely of people who didn't have any business running anything more complicated than a lemonade stand without adult supervision."
Some time after the Second World War the growing federal bureaucracy became more and more populated by mandarins whose primary skill was navigating said bureaucracy, while increasingly efficient political party machinery ensured that the people selected to run for office were picked for no criteria other than electability: We are ruthlessly selecting for barnacles and jellyfish.

Give in to the urge...

A blogger suffering the long, dark tea-time of the soul ponders writing an anal bleaching post.

I think that's an urge in to which you should always give. If you can't be funny about anal bleaching, you can't be funny. It's the belt-high meatball across the middle of the plate of blogfodder.

They said I was mad... MAD!

From the Department of Don't You Tell Me What I Can't Do:


Alrighty, then...

(via email.)

Overheard in the Office...

Bobbi is reading aloud the ESL comments on some gun-related article or another from horrified foreigners about what murderdeathkill-crazy gun-worshiping fanatics us Americans are and how they will never come vacation here on airplane:
Me: "It's true. We Americans do love our killin'. Lots of dead bodies, one or three at a time, every day... Of course, Europeans like their killing, too, but they tend to do it every twenty years or so, and by the millions. Personally, I prefer the Etsy model to the Wal-Mart model. I mean, when you think about it, our killing is more European... artisinal."
To say nothing of the carbon offsets you'd need to buy to run a mass crematorium these days...

I'll take "Really Bad Ideas" for $500, Alex.

The first thing I do when I go to a movie these days (at least since last July) is a battery check. I arrive fashionably early so I can get my horribly un-tactical favorite seats about two-thirds back and centered so that I don't have to crane my neck in any direction to see the movie and then, while the theater is still largely empty and the house lights haven't dimmed, I light both the exit doors down by the screen to make sure my flashlight has a good charge on it.

Admittedly, this is more of a nervous tic than anything else; unless I'm carrying my purse it's not like I have spare batteries or anything... (What? Everybody doesn't carry spare batteries in their purse?) ...but it assures me that, should I need to brightly illuminate those areas for some reason as I scurry for the exits, I can.

I am glad I was not in this particular theater for this showing of Iron Man 3. I am sure something dumber happened this week, but I can't think off the top of my head what it might have been. Compared to this, the State Department standing athwart the internet and yelling "Stop!" looks like a paragon of savvy genius.

Too soon, Goodrich Quality Theaters Capital 8; too soon.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Monkeying around with the camera.

If you're trying to keep birds out of the garden and squirrels out of the bird feeder, a camera works lots better than any scarecrow ever made. The street in front of Roseholme Cottage is usually bustling with wildlife ranging from sparrows and robins to cats to tricycle motors, but when I was sitting out front with my camera and my "Your Camera For Dummies" book, it made the surface of the moon look like the Amazon basin. There weren't even any bugs crawling around on the porch for me to test out the lens's macro abilities.

Well, it wasn't totally deserted... This one velociraptor saw me with the camera and took off running through the grass:

Round robin raptor run...

BANG!

The Armalite AR-50 that languished on the shelf of the shop at which I worked back in '03 had its accessories displayed on the shelf next to it. Among those accessories was a little 2-pack of Advil tablets.

"Hey, that's 'cause your shoulder's gonna hurt so much after shootin' it, right?" was the usual comment when someone noticed the foil packet.

No, like most .50 BMG rifles, the weight and the muzzle brake combine to make felt recoil not noticeably worse than, say, heavy slug loads from a twelve bore fowling piece. The Advil is for the effects of the muzzle blast after you've fired more than a handful of rounds.

It's bad enough on a conventional fifty, where the long barrel places the muzzle brake in a separate ZIP code from the shooter; it's positively ferocious on a bullpup.
.

Chump move...

In an attempt to stop the signal, the State Department is demanding that Defense Distributed take down the files for the Liberator 3D printed pistol until they can prove they are not violating ITAR regulations by allowing furriners to download them.

ITAR, for those who don't know, is the insane regulation that says that if your friend Julie from Perth, Western Australia visits and you show her some pointers you picked up on your last visit to Gunsite, you are in violation because you are exporting arms technology inside her foreign noggin. ITAR is so inane that these days the folded sheet of paper that comes with an AR15 accessory is likely to contain more verbiage warning you not to let a non-US citizen look at the instructions than it does actual, you know, instructions.

One would think that ITAR is so overreaching that it would be ripe for a crushing in court. I think a splendid way to do it would be by some patriotic moles in fed.gov arresting someone, perhaps the HMFIC of State, for giving a foreign dignitary a couple pointers on the Camp David skeet range. Of course, I also think it would be nice to have a flying pony and a rocket car.

You can't stop the signal, information wants to be free, and all that EFF jazz...

My gunsmith friend Shannon is fond of telling the tale of the BATFE seminar given towards the end of his schooling, where an agent gave a presentation on the rocks and shoals of their chosen career. As he passed out a handout showing the differences between AR and M16 bolt carriers and fire control parts, explaining to a roomful of trained machinists why they should avoid the latter, one wag in the back of the room raised his hand and asked "Yeah... are these drawings to scale?"

If you are not a scurrilous foreigner, the signal is currently unstoppable here* and here (via torrent) and here and here†.

EDITED TO ADD: Joe Huffman offers his musings on the ITAR issue and its back-door gun control implications here.

*Joe has pulled his on advice from his lawyer
Barron has done likewise.
Linoge ditto. He points out it's still available via torrents.

FURTHER EDITED TO ADD: I see a few people criticizing Joe for his decision to pull the files off his server. Oddly, none of those people provided a link to their own server where they were currently hosting the files, which adds a bit of a modifier to the value of their criticism, no?

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Wookie, please!

Robb Allen would like to remind us wookies that taxation is not, in fact, slavery...

...it's theft.
.
.

Quality Is Job Nubmer 1!

Doesn't this AR bolt give you the warm 'n' fuzzies about the QC procedures of whoever manufactured it?

Remember: With all of your shooting gear, from the weapon itself to the ammo you put in it, you are the final inspection station in the Quality Control train.


(H/T for the defective AR bolt goes to Sepulveda's Revenge.)

Kwicher whingeing...

Trips down to Tennessee involve much ceremonial watching of the Braves games at Casa del Gunsmith Bob because we don't get them up here in far off frozen cold north yankeeland. Consequently, despite bringing my 17" laptop and USB headset along with high hopes of getting my scheduled World of Warcrack fixes, my best intentions are frequently just that and Warcracking does not happen until I return home.

This trip was extended due to my horrifically bruised posterior and when I got home and re-entered my normal activity schedule, Sunday night's WoW session found me whingeing over my headset about my horrible, horrible bruise... to two friends who, I belatedly remembered, had more or less taken up recreational falling down as a hobby. Derp.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

I hate gun dorks.

You know how ex-smokers are sometimes the most annoying jerks to smokers? Well, I'm an ex-gun dork.

In a post over at the Firearms Blog about a new 9mm variant of the Legacy Sports M-1 carbine clone, one gun dork in comments expressed a desire for the same gun in the "MUCH more potent" 9x23mm Winchester cartridge.

Hey, Pointdexter! The .30 M1 Carbine is already available in a pistol cartridge that is much more potent, much more expensive, and much harder to find than 9x19mm (and equally questionable on whitetail, to boot.) You might have heard of it...

Tab Clearing...

  • Spring is just not giving me that "enthusiastic and glad to be here" vibe this year. It's been downright dank here in the central marches of the Hoosier domain.

  • Apparently they really do play manipulative head games with their owners.

  • There's no schadenfreude like the schadenfreude you get seeing thirty rabid anti-gun nuts picketing a convention hall full of more than eighty thousand gun nuts. It must be that Manhattan math where 80000 x 0.9 = 30.

  • The three of you who haven't watched the "Spocks" commercial for the Audi S7 should totally go do so now. It is a veritable gold mine of pop culture Easter egg details.

Skynet catches the 3 wire...



I for one welcome our new flying killer robot overlords. Even if they are flying killer robot squid overlords.

I am assuming that the airborne HAL9000 program is not under sequestration?

I am also assuming that, while HAL is designed to fly mission profiles autonomously, there will still be a meat computer at the stick when he's cleared weapons free?

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Yammerhead Shark.

I understand that the people on the televisor are paid to make words come out of their mouth more or less nonstop from the end of one commercial break until the beginning of the next one, and that "dead air" is a Very Bad Thing™, but this morning one guy was reduced to pontificating as to exactly what charges would be brought against the other two brothers in the Cleveland kidnapping case and wondering aloud how much they were involved. Were they accessories or...

Seriously?
"Ariel, you are my brother, but I just cannot condone your kidnapped basement sex harem any longer! You've had those girls down there for more than eight years now! No more Christmas cards until you do something about them."
I'd wager that the Cleveland prosecutor's office is testing the limits of brotherly love and loyalty with plea offers even as we speak.

Danger Zone!*

While I'm eating breakfast, y'all watch this random bit of footage purporting to be from the 1980 William Tell competition:



I had forgotten that there were F-106 squadrons guarding CONUS airspace well into the '80s.

*Yes, Captain Pedant, I am aware that Top Gun was about naval aviation and William Tell is a USAF-hosted competition. Deal with it.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #60...

It's like a gun, only smaller...
Bernardelli "Baby" in .22 Long, legal to import into this country from its inception in '49 until the feds got all killjoy about tiny imported handguns in 1968.

This example was spotted at a local gun shoppe last year for not much over a Happy Meal more than a c-note. It was so cute that I had to take it home.

What gun for hippo?

Tell me this won't recalibrate your Bad-Day-O-Meter:
I remember looking up through 10 feet of water at the green and yellow light playing on the surface, and wondering which of us could hold his breath the longest. Blood rose from my body in clouds, and a sense of resignation overwhelmed me. I've no idea how long we stayed under – time passes very slowly when you're in a hippo's mouth.
Note to self: Avoid applying for jobs where "Hippo Mauling" is considered an occupational hazard.

I'd imagine that a p.o.'ed river horse would take a whole heap of killin'.

I hate it when this happens.

When I bought the older Digital Rebel it was at an extreme bargain price, partially because it didn't come with a battery charger. I hied off to the local Haus of Batt'ries and picked up a second battery and a "Universal Charger For Canon Batteries".

The latter proved a good choice because when the newer Rebel XTi arrived, Canon had done that consumer electronics thing and changed the batteries on the newer camera. It came with a charger, but I still felt pretty prescient for having bought the universal unit, because how handy, right? It would even accommodate the battery for the ShowerPot.

I packed it up, or I assume I did, back the morning I left for Tennessee, but it appears to have gone all air-soluble on me. I swear I didn't use it while I was down there, and I have riffled through the pockets of all my traveling accoutrement with no joy. I'd cast my memories back to the morning of my departure, except that little mind-eraser on the basement stairs is taking up all the RAM dedicated to the events of that morning, reducing everything else to vague shadows.

This is going to drive me buggy. Or buggier, at any rate.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Automotif X...

'31 Chevy body on Corvette running gear, as seen in the parking lot of the Farragut, TN ├╝berKroger.

Rara Avis: Saab 9-2X (a re-badged Subaru WRX) seen in Broad Ripple. Fewer than 10,400 of these cars were sold in 2004-'05.

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig!

While I love visiting Tennessee, I get to missing my 'hood, too. Now I'm back and facing that SoBro dilemma: Saganaki and a gyro salad at Sam's, or some wings straight out of the smoker at Fat Dan's?

Decisions, decisions...

Got around to cleaning my Ruger MkIII 22/45 while I was down there. It had been over a year since I last had it apart and it was past due for a good scrubbing. (A conservative estimate would be 5,000 rounds, but it's probably closer to 10k, if not more. I don't really keep track of the rimfire.) Chunks of stuff came out with a dental pick, and that was after five minutes in the ultrasonic tank and a good hosing with brake cleaner.
Busted!
 The firing pin return spring had lost a few coils. This was a replacement for the original which had failed in the same fashion. It did not seem to affect the operation of the gun. (The coils that broke were from the end down on the support.)

Took it to the range at Iggle Crick this morning. A lot fewer light strikes now that all the sludge is out of the works.

Still not using oil, which makes me happy.
Climbing out of Knoxville, a few miles north of the exit to Marko's old crib, the Subie passed the 200,000 mile mark.

Sorry 'bout that...

Travel day yesterday, driving back from K-town.

Congratulations to commenter "global village idiot" for his correct guess on Friday's Mystery Picture. I was loitering at Coal Creek Armory when Shannon came back to gunsmithing with a Nagant revolver that someone wanted threaded for a can, and wondered if we thought it would be cool if he also threaded the end of the barrel with the front sight to serve as a thread protector.

Cool? Of course it would be cool! It would be like a secret silenced spy revolver!

Behold:



It wasn't finished when I took the pics, but I was on my way out the door. It needed an index mark and then finishing to the bare metal. Don't know what finish the customer specified, but whatever it was, that's a pretty groovy Nagant, right there. You should call them up if you want yours done that way.

(I believe the can itself is on sale at the shop, if anybody's looking for one...)

Friday, May 03, 2013

Mystery picture!

Guess what this is for!

If it goes *pop* instead of *BANG!*...

...don't pull the trigger again, h'mkay?

Bangy the Bullet sez: "Remember, kids: If it goes *pop*, STOP!"

Cocoa Beach's finest, apparently having succumbed to a squib. (Click to see it in all its 2600x2200 pixel glory.)
The initial diagnosis is a bullet lodged in the bore and the Speer .32 FMJ launched behind it put paid to the little pistol. Clues would be the bulged barrel and the lack of horrific pressure signs on the head of the intact spent case that was still locked in the chamber.

I don't have any empirical statistical proof, but my hunch tells me that a certain level of quantity has a lack of quality all its own. Ammo plants are running full tilt to keep up with the demand, and even if the rate of defects doesn't increase, the absolute number of wonky rounds let loose in the wild is going to go up.

Tab Clearing...

I got nothin'...

Have a bird picture while I cogitate on something to write...

Zoom lens makes Bama the parrot curious.
My buttocks are still sore from the spectacular fall on the basement steps over a week ago: Trying to run down rubber clad stairs with wet boot soles is not advised. Five years of transiting the stairs accident-free at Roseholme and then twice in one week. Associated spectacular dinner-plate-sized hematoma is still fading.

Despite being barely a hundred miles from turning 200k miles, the Subie does not appear to be using oil at all, and the coolant level has remained constant, which is reassuring. There's the occasional faint whiff of something that smells of burning friction surface, which is not.

Also, the screen on my just-over-a-year-old lo-bujit HP commodity laptop is occasionally transited by a horizontal line or five. Very infrequently. Every few days. Just enough to annoy me. I've gotten religion about backing up, I can tell you.

Bleh.

I'm going to look around for some motivation here... BRB.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Automotif IX...

Yum.
Some cars will make me take a snapshot with the cell phone, and others will make me run and fetch a camera. The Jaguar XK140 roadster falls into the latter category...

Barley, hops, water, yeast... and creativity.

With beer consumption on the decline in Germany, the time is ripe for an American invasion!

Once upon a time, when "American beer" meant "Budweiser", my beer snob friends would turn their noses up with disdain at anything domestic; pale, flavorless, watery, low-alcohol near-beer that it was.

Twenty-some-odd years later, the American beer market is overflowing with all kinds of craft-brewed imperial IPAs, farmhouse ales, double chocolate stouts, barleywines with double-digit ABVs, and smoked chipotle porters...

...and German lagers and pilseners seem kinda like... well, I believe the joke was something about "making love in a canoe" ...by comparison. It's times like this I wish I had a time machine, preferably one with room for a couple cases of beer to ride along with me.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Scattergun...

Remington 870 w/Mesa Tactical, Magpul, Surefire, and Scattergun Technologies goodies...
The guys at Coal Creek Armory got the dimples out of the mag tube and the extension mounted. (It still needs a mag tube clamp/forward sling connecting doohickey. )

I like the Surefire under the forend better than the Inforce on the side of it in pretty much every way except for weight.

While I'm still not much of a shotgun person, having my own fowling piece will allow me to dabble in Three Gun and not have to borrow a gauge. The flashlight will come in handy this August...

Danger Zone!

The Twenty-Five Most Dangerous Neighborhoods In America!

I drive through one of them to get to the almost-a-dentist.

It's actually a little poignant, because the neighborhood in question is full of great, big decaying Victorian houses, a third of which are abandoned and falling in and a small number of which are frozen in the process of being fixed up, the urban pioneers of gentrification having been cut off and surrounded in Injun Country when the housing market Conestoga threw an economic wheel.

The pro circuit...

So when they pulled David Bisard over this time, he blew a .17 BAC at the roadside. From what I am reading, they carted him off and drew blood (following the proper protocol this time) and got a .22 at the hospital.

Part of this disparity could be chalked up to the different systems, I suppose, but another part could be that he was still metabolizing alcohol, since when they fetched a warrant and searched the truck, they found a partially-emptied bottle of vodka.

Friends and neighbors, being upright and running around and engaging in conversation, to say nothing of operating a motor vehicle well enough to get to the crash site, with a .22 BAC is not something that amateur drinkers can do. Those are the actions of someone on the pro circuit; a high functioning alcoholic. That dude is in serious need of a drying-out.