Monthly Archives: October 2005

Link of the Day

“Why do you carry a gun?”

Miss Maine had been attacked–brutally and viciously. You don’t wanta know the details. As with so many such crimes, it wasn’t really about sex. It was about hate and domination, cowardice and cruelty. And an even younger Little Lizzie had witnessed it. I like to think the Memsaab and I helped them to recover emotionally.

Then one day Lizzie came and snuggled into my shadow, visibly disturbed. That morning her kindergarten had put on “Frighten The Munchkins Day.” Some schools do a pretty good job of alerting children to predators–don’t go with strangers and that kinda thing–but others do more harm than good. All they do is terrify the tots and give ‘era no operating options. Lizzie already had twin tears glistening, ready to fall when she grabbed a tiny fistful of my trouser-leg and asked, “Connor-Sir, will you a’ways be here? Wouldja be here … When the bad mens come?”

My knees cracked on the sidewalk as she slammed into my shoulder, shaking with sobs as the hot tears came, splashing my neck and searing into my soul. “‘Cause I’m a-scared!” she choked, and clutched me tighter.

Oh, GOD/Who would not–who could not–fight without fear, suffer without sense of sacrifice, and kill or die deliberately, using the most effective means available–to protect life, liberty and a Little Lizzie? For God’s sake, who?

Link to the full article

Ivon kicks butt

For some reason, a lot of people came to kendo practice last night. In a double-strange twist, there was an even number of people, so we were all able to pair up. Winding up in a triple-strange trifecta, no other children showed up, so I was able to pair up with Ivon for practice.

After a good 45 minutes of kata, during which Ivon and I perfected the first four kendo kata, there was 30 minutes of warm-up, and then everyone put on bogu for full-contact practice. Miyata-sensei led practice, instructing us to repetitions of striking kiri-kaeshi, men, kote, do, and various combinations. Then we moved into doing combinations of blocks or dodges and strikes.

Partnered with Ivon, I let him perform the strikes and repetitions on me, without hitting him back. Ivon performed swimmingly, valiantly striking and shuffling, and voicing a resounding kiai. He only got flustered when he couldn’t hear what anyone was trying to say, and so couldn’t follow instructions, and didn’t know what to do. With everyone yelling, and the men tied tightly to the head, it is difficult to hear anything not directly in front of or behind your head.

So, we slowed down, got close to each other to explain what sensei wanted us to do, and then practiced.

At about quarter-’till, we were organized into to large groups for full-contact keiko. We’d practice with our partner until sensei blew his whistle, then rotate to the left. Ivon and I practiced for a few minutes, with him voicing kiai, striking me, and running through. He did great, the whistle blew, he rotated to his left, and I to mine. We each had a new partner, and so it went.

About 10 minutes later, after several more rotations, Miyata-sensei blew the whistle, and called for final kiri-kaeshi. We always finish each night’s practice with a kiri-kaishi session, and it is when you put any remaining strength into the best form and kiai you can muster, and finish out the night, nobly.

About half-way through my turn, I saw Ivon over by the wall, with his men off, just sobbing uncontrollably, wringing his hands, his face bright red. I didn’t know what happened, but had to finish with my partner before I could go over and find out. Sylvette seemed to be taking good care of him, so I wasn’t too worried. I wondered if someone hit his fingers, or if the pressure and noise of the rotation had gotten to him.

Finally, I got to go over and kneel by him. Ivon was still crying, and although he couldn’t talk, insisted that he wasn’t hurt or anything. So I simply kneeled by him, and put my arm around him. His men was placed neatly on his kote against the wall, with his tenugi stretched across the men, all in perfect form. He obviously took care when placing it, despite whatever torment he was experiencing.

He gradually calmed, as sensei ran the non-bugo wearing beginners through some paces. When they could barely stand, he called it a night, and we all lined up and kneeled for the ceremonial removal of the men, and final bows of the night. Ivon was about to grab up his men & kote to join up, and we assured him he could just leave it there, and line up.

On the drive home, we talked about what happened, and it turned out he hyperventilated. He wasn’t bugged at all by the noise and confusion of the rotation. No one had hit him. He was just practicing as hard as he could, and right about when we did kiri-kaeshi, he ran out of breath. He said he could smell his own breath inside the men, and it was difficult to take a good breath. The shortness of breath made him start crying for no reason (his words), and he couldn’t stop. He really appreciated that so many people stopped and were nice to him to try and cheer him up, but he wasn’t sad. He was just practicing as hard as he could.

What a great little boy.

That evening, we read an article about hyperventilation. Now he knows how to recognize when he’s getting short of breath, when he needs to take a break, and that it’s OK for him to take a break when he needs to.

I love that little guy!

Quote of the Day

“Guns are dangerous. But myths are dangerous, too. Myths about guns are very dangerous, because they lead to bad laws. And bad laws kill people. ‘Don’t tell me this bill will not make a difference,’ said President Clinton, who signed the Brady Bill into law. Sorry. Even the federal government can’t say it has made a difference. The Centers for Disease Control did an extensive review of various types of gun control: waiting periods, registration and licensing, and bans on certain firearms. It found that the idea that gun control laws have reduced violent crime is simply a myth. I wanted to know why the laws weren’t working, so I asked the experts. ‘I’m not going in the store to buy no gun,’ said one maximum-security inmate in New Jersey. ‘So, I could care less if they had a background check or not.’ ‘There’s guns everywhere,’ said another inmate. ‘If you got money, you can get a gun.’ Talking to prisoners about guns emphasizes a few key lessons. First, criminals don’t obey the law. (That’s why we call them ‘criminals.’) Second, no law can repeal the law of supply and demand. If there’s money to be made selling something, someone will sell it. A study funded by the Department of Justice confirmed what the prisoners said. Criminals buy their guns illegally and easily. The study found that what felons fear most is not the police or the prison system, but their fellow citizens, who might be armed. One inmate told me, ‘When you gonna rob somebody you don’t know, it makes it harder because you don’t know what to expect out of them.’ What if it were legal in America for adults to carry concealed weapons? I put that question to gun-control advocate Rev. Al Sharpton. His eyes opened wide, and he said, ‘We’d be living in a state of terror!’ In fact, it was a trick question. Most states now have ‘right to carry’ laws. And their people are not living in a state of terror. Not one of those states reported an upsurge in crime. Why? Because guns are used more than twice as often defensively as criminally.”
—John Stossel

A shoot-out in the hills of Castro Valley

Saturday was the 4th Saturday of October, which means it’s time for the high-power rifle match at the Chabot Gun Club!

Myself, and about 50 other people ascended into the hills between Castro Valley and Oakland, to take turns firing 58 rounds at a target 200 yards away. There are four stages of fire, beginning with 20 shots slow-fired off-hand standing, 10 shots rapid-fire sitting, 10 shots rapid-fire prone, and lastly, 10 shots slow-fire prone. During slow-fire, you have about one minute per shot. During rapid-fire, you have 60 seconds to fire 2 shots, reload, and fire 8 more.

It’s a really fun and challenging exercise. We take turns shooting and scoring each others’ targets, with about 15 people shooting at a time. This makes 4 relays, with the first & second starting at 9:00 AM, and the third and fourth at 12:00.

It has been several months since I last competed, but my hopes were high. My rifle was still clean, my ammo Federal, and I was well rested. I started off really well, too, with a string of 9’s in the standing off-hand, but threw a few wild, and missed the scoring zone twice. Into the rapid sitting, I shot a pretty good group, but again, threw one wild and off the board. Ditto, the rapid prone. At last, I settled it all down during slow-fire prone, and landed all shots in the scoring zone, finishing with a score of 358-3X.

Not my best score, but enough to get second in my class. And there’s always next month, right? I just hope I can sneak away for a few hours, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Pleasanton Responds

The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and traffic howling on the freeway. It was late in the afternoon, and I was arriving home from a shooting match. As I always do, I checked the mail, and pulled an assortment of trash and mail from my mailbox.

Once inside the house, I sorted it into three piles: recycle, shred & recycle, read & recycle. Today, the only item in the ‘read’ pile was a letter from Pleasanton.. the Pleasanton courthouse!!!

Instantly nervous, yet with more confidance than last time, I tore open the top of the envelope. Inside was two sheets of low-grade paper, fresh off a dot matrix printer. The first page was somewhat rambling – just a bunch of text about how “I am a disinterested party,” “no stake in the verdict,” yadda yadda, and a signature.

Second page – list of violations (speeding), verdict: Not guilty!!! Yippee! They’ll send me back a check for my bail amount, minus $10 handling, and my driving record remains clean.

Thank you Ticket Assassin!