How’s that 4-D Chess working out? (A Renamed Blast from the Past.)


It’s been over a year since the Trump Administration unilaterally re-defined the meaning of the term “machine gun” so as to make bump stocks illegal with no grandfathering.  (Among other things making that an ex-post-facto law.) The Usual Suspects were all “It’s 4-D Chess, part of a larger plan.” Well, I wrote this in response to that, and find no reason to change a word:

So the ATF under the Trump Administration has unilaterally changed the definition of “machine gun” to include a firearms accessory, specifically bump stocks, making the possession of them illegal.  There is no “grandfather clause”, there is no way to render them legal by registering them and getting the $200 NFA Tax stamp (no new machine guns could be registered after the 1986 Hughes Amendment).  That makes this not only a violation of the 2nd Amendment but also of the “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law” provision of the 5th.

But the die-hard “Trump can do no wrong” crowd are claiming once again that Trump is “playing 4d Chess” and this is all part of some plan to accomplish… something. What exactly it’s supposed to accomplish, and how, is left unclear.

Look, there is no “4-D chess” here. There is no “deal.” I, for one, do not think Trump is stupid enough to buy the “give up something now in return for the promise of something in return later” so beloved of the Republican party (that the “something in return later” never materializes never seems to faze them). One does not develop a business empire of that size by being stupid and certainly not from repeatedly falling for “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a Hamburger today.” If he’s giving up bump stocks now it’s not in the expectation of getting something else (like, say, national reciprocity which claim I’ve heard from the “4-D chess crowd) later. No, he’s giving it up for nothing.

Doesn’t matter how much you say “Bump stocks are no big deal” or “nobody really needs a bump stock” (we back to “bill of needs” again?) or “they’re just a way to waste money while losing accuracy and actual utility.” None of that matters.  All that matters is that people are being deprived of property, and the right to own said property if they want (all the justification anyone ever needs, at least if you want a free society) for nothing, giving up liberty not even for “a little temporary safety” just for…nothing.

When Trump does things of which I approve, I’ll say so.  And when he does things of which I disapprove, I’ll say that too.  This falls squarely in the “disapprove” side.

The thing is, despite what the “Trump can do no wrong” crowd would like to believe, he has never been a fan of the 2nd Amendment (or the 4th, or the 5th, or the 1st, or…) As just one example, while he was campaigning he was more than willing to throw semi-automatic rifles under the bus after the Pulse Nightclub shooting.

He’s not a fan of the 2nd. Never was. Pretending otherwise is naive in the extreme. Now, it’s possible that the Supreme Court Justices he’s appointed–Goresuch and Kavenaugh–might be, but that’s purely incidental. If they are (I don’t know enough about their history to say for certain.  And even if they were before it’s not unheard of for a Justice to change once ascending to the Supreme Court) he appointed them despite that, not because of that.

So buckle up and hold your hats, folk who actually care about liberty. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Another Breakthrough in the Ice Follies.

The last couple of days the beginning of the public skate session wasn’t too busy.  This gave me an opportunity to do more technique practice.  Yesterday, I worked one of the corner circles to work on my backward skating–half swizzle pumps on the circle and backward outside and inside edges.

To explain a bit, the rink is laid out for hockey so there are five circles on the floor under and visible through the ice:


During public skate times, the skaters for the most part skate around the entire rink counter clockwise.  Kind of like the guy said about how to win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway:  “put your foot to the floor and keep turning left.”

Well, I’m not in any races here, but that’s the gist of it.   Most of the skaters tend to stay around the outside edges of the rink.  The more advanced figure skaters, doing spins and turns and what not which take them in directions different from the overall flow of traffic work in the center of the rink.

Now, when I’m doing work like backward skating or things that involve turning to the right rather than to the left (a lot of which is done using one of the circles as a guide), I could use that circle in the center, but the folk mostly working there are so much farther along than I am that I really don’t want to get in their way and be an obstacle to their work.  So…I use one of the circles toward the corners.  So long as the rink isn’t too busy and I keep an eye out for traffic–be prepared to veer out of the way of someone following the normal pattern or pause to let people pass–I can get some good work in.

That’s what I did yesterday.

First I did half swizzle pumps on the circle:

Then, backward outside and inside edges:

After a while, however, the rink started getting busier and I had to stop–just too much collision danger–so went to the left hand turn pattern along with everyone else, which is fine in and of itself since it lets me practice the basics of my one foot glide and left-handed crossovers.

Today, however, during public skate, none of the more advanced skaters were present I went ahead and grabbed the central circle.  That gave me more time to practice.  Today’s practice target was forward crossovers in the clockwise (turning right) direction.  This is not something I can generally practice during public skate so my turns in that direction were a lot weaker than my turns in the other.

What it should look like:

in the video she’s turning left (counterclockwise), and I’m pretty good with that these days.  But the other direction?  Well, there was a good bit of stumbling at first but as I kept it up, it started coming together and started approaching my left hand crossovers.  So, much progress was made.

But today in my actual class.  My instructor said “Would you like to try some backward crossovers?”

I went, “Eep.”

Okay, not really, more like a hesitant “I’ll give it a go.”

Backward crossovers look like this:

Well, mine didn’t look like that.  They were clumsy.  I kept getting sideways after the cross.  And I wobbled a lot.  But I stayed upright.  And I stayed, mostly, on the circle.  That is a major, major step forward for me.  It’s one of the big things I need to complete “Adult 5” (the penultimate level in the adult basic skating curriculum) or Basic 5.  I was mostly doing the second type described in the video, picking foot up and over.  There’s a girl who skates there–one of those more advanced skaters I mention–who does that first type of crossover, sliding the foot around in front and it’s just such a beautifully gracefully move as to bring tears to the eyes.  I, really, really would like to be able to do that but…in time maybe.

Still…progress.  And mostly now a matter of practice and keeping my weight over the front to back center of the blade so that I don’t drag the toe picks (something I still do most of the time once I pick up a foot going backward).

Rough Lately, but…


Things have been kind of rough lately.  Other posts go into some of the reasons why.  Other reasons, well, they’re not my story to tell, or not entirely anyway.  So, I’ll grab what positive news from my personal life that I can.

On that note, I note that my weight has been hovering around 200 lbs. It’s dipped below that a couple of times but not consistently…yet. OTOH, my waist is down to 31 3/4 pretty consistently. Looking in the mirror, I’m starting to see some separation of my muscles, particularly in the forearms and less so in the thighs. But the thing I note most is that I’m starting to see just a hint of separation between the sectors of the abs. It’s nowhere near anything anyone would call “washboard abs” but there’s a bit of hint of it. So the electronic “smart scale” with the app set to “Athlete mode” and giving a reading of 18% body fat is probably about right.  I seem to be in the ballpark judging by the pictures up top.

BMI is wonky.  29.7 which is at the very high end of “overweight” and just shy of “obese.” I should note that my best ever weight, when I was bicycling 1-4 hours a day, six days a week (training for competition), was about 170.  My sister on a visit back from college, asked my mother “what is he doing to himself?” apparently thinking I was bordering on anorexic.  Nevertheless, that would still have classed me as “overweight” according to BMI.

And people use that as some kind of judge of healthy weight?  I don’t think so.

Feeding the Active Writer: Chicken Curry (Sort of)

A quick (in terms of prep time) sort of chicken curry (all ingredients are “-ish”–I didn’t measure precisely):

  • 5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast.
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbs xantham gum
  • 2-3 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp red curry powder
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric
  • 1-2 tsp ground coriander
  • salt to taste

Toss all the ingredients in a slow cooker. Oh, you can cut the chicken into pieces if you want but it’s not necessary. It will fall into shreds at the end anyway. Cook on low for about eight hours. Stir.

Serve over whatever “base” you wish. I use riced cauliflower.  Top with the garnish of your choice.

Tasty. It’s a very mild curry as it stands. One can add more spices if one wants more “heat”. I probably would in the future but that’s for my taste.

Since the local Kroger sells chicken breasts in packs of about that size at a ridiculously low price it’s cheap too.

“If You Don’t Like It, Move” A Blast from the Past.


People tend to get upset when you suggest that if they like a particular government or form of government so much that they should go where they already have it.  I can understand that.  It’s a lot of trouble to pull up stakes and relocate to someplace that would supposedly be more congenial.  Of course it’s also a lot of trouble to force the changes that one might want on the unwilling here.

OTOH, America was built on that very concept of “if you don’t like it, move.” The Pilgrims wanted a place where they could raise their families without other religious influences (not for religious freedom–they had that in Amsterdam) so they moved.  Daniel Boone thought that first South Carolina, then Kentucky was getting too crowded, so he moved.  Other folk wanted a piece of land to call their own where they could build a life of their own so they moved.  Folk wanted economic opportunities they weren’t finding at home so them moved.

“If you don’t like it, move” is one of the foundations of American history.  Yet there is a problem today.  Today the folk more likely to actually follow that philosophy, the folk who want social and economic liberty, the folk who want to live and build their own lives with the minimal interference of government, don’t have anyplace to go.  There are no more frontiers into which they can expand.

Other folk, however, folk who want the government to “look after” them, can find endless examples of just what they say they want.  There are all sorts of options which have “government health care” and extensive “safety nets” and so forth.  But these same people, the ones who could find a “better life” in terms of what they say they want are the very ones who are the least willing to actually pick up stakes and move to where what they say they want is already available.

People have said to me “If you like guns so much, go start a country where they’re allowed.”  To which my answer of course is, “We did.  You’re the one set on changing that.”

Personally, I’d move in a heartbeat if . . . if . . . there were any place to go.

There. is. no. place. I. can. go.

Is it really too much to ask to leave one place on the planet where individual liberty, individual responsibility, and conservative/libertarian (small “l”) values are given more than lip service?  Just one?  Why are you so adamant to take away the last place on Earth where what I value is given any more than the barest lip service (and even that not much these days)?

Oh, some wags will give me a snarky “if you hate the government so much, move to Somalia.” However, what I want is a Constitutional Republic of sharply limited powers where maximum individual liberty is the goal and only such government as serves that goal.  “To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” At no point in there did I say that I wanted to live in a failed state controlled by competing warlords whose power is near absolute within their particular territories and where I can be quite sure the “international community (read “France and Germany, mostly Germany”) would be sure to intervene to prevent me from actually doing what would be necessary to build the kind of state I want to live in.

Please, just leave me one place where I can live my life in peace.  Just one.

Falling behind on this blog.

I’ve been falling a little behind on this blog.  Home crisis.  So let me use tonight’s to post the latest update on the fundraiser for my daughter’s service dog (which is a big part of the “home crisis” issue):

Saw the doctor yesteray specifically about my daughter’s seizures (which she’s been having nearly daily). We also talked about her PTSD and depression issues but mostly it was about the seizures. As in two and a half hours of which two was about the seizures a half was everything else.

The good news is we’ve got some “official documentation” for the school she attends to know how to treat them when they occur. When/if they need to call emergency services, and when they don’t.

However, one of the things they pointed out is that her having non-epileptic seizures does not mean she might not also be having epileptic seizures as well. This is something we need to discuss with another specialist. Hopefully, this is just precautionary.

Fingers crossed.

My daughter with her ballet class–one of the activities she’s had to stop because of, among other things, the seizures.

My Life, Part 5, Space and Dinosaurs and Assorted Other Stuff.


As I mentioned last time, I had to re-take 2nd grade.  As one can imagine, I blew through the second time (after all, I’d already covered that material right?).  But the big advantage was my teacher was not Miss Faircloth.

Also as I’d mentioned, I was infatuated with space and the idea of space travel.  I read everything I could get my hands on about it, which mostly meant the entries on stars, planets, the space program, and the like in the World Book Encyclopedia and Book of Facts and in the included Childcraft books. (Damn, I miss those still.)

It was also about this time that I became infatuated with dinosaurs…as many a young boy will.  When we had time to go to the school library, I went straight to the section on dinosaur books and grabbed what I could.

My reading was far and away above grade level (even discounting that I was repeating a grade for that very reason) and I swotted up “science stuff” like a sponge.  I loved it and that was reflected in how quickly, and how much, I picked up.

I gained a few friends in this period.  I also ended up getting bullied a lot, to the point of being beat up with disturbing regularity.  Part of the reason was my own social awkwardness issues.  Another part was that I stood out as being the “brain” in class (yes, despite repeating a year).  “Beat up the geek/nerd” has a long history it would seem.

When I told Bruce this and, in frustration and anguish I wished aloud that I could “get rid of some of that knowledge” (which I saw as the prime reason I was being picked on–not recognizing the “social awkwardness” angle). Bruce’s response was “You don’t know anything.  Would you like me to snow you under?” I had no idea what he meant by “snow [me] under” but, in retrospect, this incident shows me just what a crappy father he was.  And, indeed, as I’ll get into shortly, he was a crappy human being.

Christmas in the new house I’m not sure which one–first time through 2nd grade or second–“Santa” left me the one present I remember from that era:  a Huffy bicycle in bright purple with 16″ wheels, “high rise” handle bars, and a banana seat.  Somewhere along the line the smaller bicycle I’d had in the trailer park disappeared.  When we were in the “Pink house” Bruce had taken off the training wheels with the intent that I learn to ride without them.  That…did not work.  And I guess it either got pitched or passed on to someone else.  I don’t know what.

When the weather was good, my mother took me out to try to teach me to ride this new bike.  As anyone who’s ever ridden a bike knows, this amounts to getting going, then falling down.  You fall down over and over and over again.  Until one time, without warning, you don’t.  You’re up, and you go.

That bicycle opened up a broader neighborhood to my explorations.  People tend to freak out now, but back then we went all over the place exploring.  There was a small store up on Deep Creek blvd.  A mile or two away from the house, I’m guessing, where I would go to buy candy when I had a little money.  Back then “penny candy” was still a thing and it was great.

During this period I had my first experience with dentistry.  Now, as I mentioned in the last installment how I resisted wearing belts? (Still have no idea why I drew the line there.) Well, I was equally resistant to brushing my teeth.  So, when I saw the dentist I had a number of cavities.  Today, even with deciduous (baby) teeth, dentists would be more likely to fill and leave them in place, but back then it was pull, pull, pull.  And this, right here, was the source of the great fear of needles that I had for many years.  The novocaine shots were pure misery, as in screaming pain.  I had to go through that several times before they got all the teeth with decay out.  And the last one, they didn’t quite get things numb enough.  Pulling hurt.  The dentist offered to give me some additional novocaine but I was adamant that he wasn’t putting that needle anywhere near my mouth.  He insisted that I was already numbed up so it wouldn’t be bad.  Nope.  Not gonna do it.  I’d rather have the pain of the extraction, thank you very much. (A later dentist told me that back in that era it was frequent practice to autoclave and re-use needles, and also the idea was to inject quickly to “get it over with” whereas now they recognize that a more gradual injection allows the material time to disperse in tight tissues such as the gums and greatly reduces the pain.)

During this time, Bruce joined the Portsmouth City Police Department.  He bought for my mother a police scanner as this was before the use of scrambled communications and particularly data (like the laptops now so common in police cruisers).  Anyone with a receiver tuned to the appropriate frequency could listen in.  He also got her a card listing the various “10 codes” which in later years, with the rise of CB Radio, caused her no end of annoyance as people would misuse those codes.

Somewhere along the way here I completed second grade and started third.

It was during this time that I got my first “girlfriend”. Well, she was a friend and she was a girl, so… Like me, she was interested in science.  And, wonder of wonders, she had a microscope.  Oh, I was so interested.

During third grade is when lessons on telling time on an analog clock face were given.  Lisa and I picked it up quickly.  Not only picked it up quickly but mastered it so thoroughly that the teacher told us that for future time-telling classes we could just go to the library.

Of course, as fate would have it, the only future class on telling time was when we had a substitute teacher who was, of course, unaware of the arrangement and certainly not willing to take Lisa’s and my word.

I turned eight somewhere in hear and my mother, herself a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints although not a particularly observant one, decided it was time I was baptized into the Church.  You have to understand that the LDS religion does not practice infant baptism.  Children under the age of 8, according to Church doctrine, are not considered “accountable” for sin being as yet insufficiently mature to understand the concepts of “right” and “wrong.” “Allowed” and “not-allowed” is as far as it goes. Now, from what I’ve seen in psychology, this is not really correct, but that was the doctrine.  So baptism was reserved for those who had reached the “age of accountability” i.e, age 8.

My mother didn’t just want me to go and be baptized.  She wanted me to understand what it was all about.  So she had the Church missionaries (the LDS being a strongly proselytizing religion, they have missionaries everywhere) come to teach me the same lessons they give to new prospective converts.  So we went over some of the basic LDS theology:  the pre-existence of spirits, the truth of the Bible “insofar as it is translated correctly”, Christs post-resurrection mission to the New World (the “other sheep” mentioned in John, per LDS belief) with the Book of Mormon being “a second testament to Christ”, the “restoration” of Christ’s “True Religion” through Joseph Smith, the Three Degrees of Glory to which all but the most truly wicked will eventually ascend, with the highest being reserved for those who complete their Earthly mission, including eternal marriage, and so on and so on and so on.  As I have noted before, a lot of my early emotional imprinting comes from that, particularly the idea of “heaven” being a continuation of the ideal family (and, indeed, continuation of a really toxic family can be a pretty effective version of “hell”).

And so, I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints which would color much of my life to follow until I finally found I just could not believe much of it any more (about which I have written elsewhere and will cover again when I get to that point of the “My Life” narrative).

Sometime while I was in third grade, something happened.  My sister reported to my mother something Bruce did. (Note that I later learned what the issue was but…not my story to tell.  And anybody who has guesses of their own?  Please don’t share them in the comments.  I will delete the and quite likely block the commenter.  I’m serious.  Again, not my story and not for this blog.) The result was my mother bundled my sister and I up and we ended up going to the police station.  The detective who took my mother’s report got out a big book apparently to look up the charge and said “Oh, that’s a felony.”

I don’t have much clear memory of the immediate aftermath.  Bruce lost his job as a police officer and… As my mother reported it much later, his “brother officers” came to her and “convinced” her to recant her charge.  The upshot is that not only was Bruce not convicted of whatever the charge was (as I said, I have my suspicions), but my mother remained married to him.  This was one of the first indications of a serious problem my own mother had of what, these days, we would call co-dependence.

Not long after this event Bruce put the house up for sale and move back to his boyhood home in Campbridge, Ohio.

We’ll get into that next time.