Where There's A William

there's always aweigh

Archive for the category “self”

Life As A Series Of Second Acts

I don’t ordinarily go into much in the way of personal detail here; frankly, it’s no one else’s business and mostly too crushingly mundane and boring to anyone not required to slog through it.  Then there are days like today …

Pushing hard on 4am this morning, it having been several years since the last time I tried, I typed in my son’s name on my Facebook page search engine … and this time he had a Facebook page of his own to discover.  When I finally rolled out of bed shortly after the crack of noon (hey!  I work the evening shift; gimme a break) and fired up the computer, there amongst the usual spam was a Facebook “Friend” confirmation from him.

I keep reading how Mark Zuckerberg can be an asshole and such, but he has my thanks all the same.

I confess I don’t quite know what to do with the car now that I finally caught the bumper, so to speak.  Duncan has his own life and family in which I have no place; I think it would be rude and boorish of me to assume anything about how he and I might accommodate each other in our lives now, I only know I so very much want to do so.

As a beginning, I am writing this post as a means for he and I to re-discover each other that isn’t constrained in the same fashion as Facebook is (which I don’t use other than as an easy means to keep up with my daughter and her family’s doings anyway).   He isn’t the little boy I remember (he has a daughter of his own now) and I’m not the (same type of) fool who wandered away from him either.  Finding out who we each are and where and how we can fit together again is all unknown yet, but this is what classical strategy is really for – advancing position into the unknown in mutually reinforcing and beneficial ways.

Mostly I don’t spontaneously break out in tears though.

You deservedly call another man “Dad” son, but I hope one day to have the opportunity to introduce you to the rest of your family and see where we all go from there.

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A Will To Learn

So, as I was saying (2 months ago), I’m 59 now.  This was cause for some reflection and decision-making.  It has been apparent for quite some years now that the employment (and more generally, many aspects of the societal) model arising from the Industrial Revolution have begun to run their course.  What hasn’t been (and to a worryingly large degree still isn’t) clear is what and how an individual might go about preparing for the even greater changes that appear certain to feature in all our lives in the coming years.

I’ve decided to educate myself so as to develop the knowledge base necessary to master the skills that nanotechnology and cellular biology seem more and more likely to bring into the individuals grasp.  Additive manufacturing of both inanimate and biological materials to construct the material and devices I desire to accomplish the means of supporting my life without having to necessarily rely upon the whim of any other is a big example of the type of societal and technology change that seems to be in the early stages of development into technique and not just research experiment.

This won’t happen next year, possibly not even this decade, but there will be a steady progression of development such that we will achieve a tipping point of change that drags all of human society out of what we now regard as “normal”.  I envision this process as a wave breaking upon the shore.  We are only just now beginning to be able to see the start of the swell building; I want to be one of those furiously paddling away just as the first curl appears.  The technology (and other) changes I believe will occur in my lifetime may or may not be the equivalent of Mavericks, but I refuse to be one of those standing around whining in the impact zone as the future washes away the present.

Admittedly being a rather too casual student of classical strategy, I have given some thought to developing one.  What I’ve come up with likely won’t meet many of the needs of others, but I hope will offer inspiration to begin the process of preparing to overcome the risk that is the necessary component of any opportunity.

I’ve begun by registering as a student at Khan Academy.  I chose this particular venue because of Salman Khan’s concept of a transcript being structured as a resume as well as a repository for one’s professional work and qualifications (the current examples are publications, software developed, apps, etc but certifications of a technical or trade nature seem a likely possibility also) and that the learning part of education should be free of charge (certification OTOH …).  Beyond the embarrassingly simple aspiration to remain smarter than my grandson (he’s 2 at the moment, but closing fast), I intend to spend the next several years learning math to at least the geometry to calculus level, at least one of the Romance languages other than English (and hopefully an eastern European language as well), and eventually achieve a PhD (or an equivalent certification) in history.  I think it unlikely that I will confine my online studies to only Khan Academy, indeed I think it virtually certain that I won’t.

There’s more.  I have an abiding interest in things martial.  Mostly this involves modern firearms and in recent years Krav Maga.  Thanks to Eric S. Raymond, I’ve discovered ARMA – The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts.  I have applied for membership and intend to structure my studies on the historical record of martial theory and philosophy from the Renaissance period onward.  My thought at this point is to connect the historical practice with modern technology and technique and see where that points the thesis further.

With all this decided, I have also decided that I’m going to retire from my present employment around the end of June 2014.  This won’t provide me with a great deal of money, but will meet my most basic needs.  Assuming such a thing still exists in 2016 I intend to begin drawing social security at 62 (plus 8 months – 3 years earlier than I could begin drawing “full” benefits).  Fiscal cliffs and all that notwithstanding, actual societal collapse is a drawn out process and I decided the ability to concentrate my efforts for the mid- and late-term portion of my studies was sufficient to justify the longer term risk of retiring from employment at 60.

What makes this different from a complex way to occupy by dwindling twilight years of advancing decrepitude is my conviction that the healthy life extension research that has been underway for most of a decade now has begun (and will continue to) deliver cellular and genetic therapies for age-related diseases and deteriorating physical conditions.  Again, not next year or even this decade necessarily, but within the reasonable expectation of my lifetime without such therapies (the next 20 – 25 years basically).  There are already efforts in place to deliver stem cell type therapies via IV drip and direct injection as well as genetic therapies introduced via benign virus.  The ability to clone one’s stem cells and map one’s personal genetic code is already within the financial reach of most Americans (well, those of us who have jobs at least); it is only reasonable to believe that this price will continue to shrink over the course of this present decade.  I have begun looking into the procedure required to have both of these accomplished before I retire.  Just one more of those things I expect we will all have to adapt ourselves to if we want to stay out of that futuristic wave impact zone.

And that’s pretty much it.  Along the way I will garner as many certifications as I can (I still hope to become formally certified as a Krav Maga instructor even though I don’t intend to pursue teaching as regular employment; I’m just not rigorous or consistent enough to be good at instruction – though assisting or filling in temporarily for someone else would be good) with particular emphasis on those related to the creative application of computer technology.  Incorporating firearms and other weaponry into my studies isn’t actually a given, more like the pivotal activity around which all else occurs, so I hope to obtain certifications as an RSO and instructor also.  I will have to place greater emphasis on physical fitness than I have (especially of late); it’s all well and good to believe in the promise of healthy life extension, but you have to live long enough to have some sort of therapy to receive, don’t you?

The blog and my presence online will remain pretty much unchanged for the moment I expect; I want to finish the life extension post series I started in October for only one topic.  I will say that having settled on a course of action to follow has created a sense of emotional as well as intellectual relief for me.  It all may well go straight into the crapper (again), but I feel invigorated and more confident (even if that is the porcelain spinning ’round me) and expect to have a more frequent urge to babble away here once again.

In Commemoration

Upon the occasion of my 59th birthday, This.

Preparing For The Future

The Atomic Nerds offer insightful commentary on the week so far; I concur. Being a union guy though (I was actually elected our shop steward by my fellow employees recently) (poor bastards :)), I chose to use one of my vacation days to get myself in the proper state of mind for the upcoming Good Friday holiday this weekend. Being unionized, we get some input into which occasions during the year we wish to “celebrate” by our absence from our place of employment, and this Friday is one of them.

Went to the local County office that handles vehicle registration (along with most other tax collection-related activities for Smith County) and got the pick-up truck re-tagged for the year. In an associated observation, you would think that such a critical function of state government would make more of an effort to abide by the legislation their efforts are directed at funding. Here in Smith County, the edifice named The Cotton Belt Building houses the tax collecting offices (along with several other “services”) but all of the exterior doors display an illegal notice barring guns being carried into the building. Given the presence of Sheriffs Deputies at all the doors, not to mention basic respect for the intent behind the law regulating such activity, I left my pistol locked in the truck. Even so, I can report that the coppers on the doors are not the least amused by casual queries about the violation of Texas law the signs (scroll down to Sec.30.06) on the doors exhibit. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the one I spoke with was un-courteous, just really, really unamused.

That minor drag on market transactions complete, I went to Lock & Load for some much needed ballistic therapy. I recently bought a Smith & Wesson model 559 in 9mm (new in the box!) and wanted to put another 100 rounds or so through it. As every new gun owner knows, minor mal-adjustments or hardened preservatives/lubricants often don’t become apparent until several hundred rounds have been fired through them (the guns, not the owners). This particular S&W offering is starting to exhibit failures to extract with no particular indications of the extractor hook (clip? blade?) gouging the brass especially. The spring pressure seems adequate (to finger pressure – I’m sure a specific strain gauge exists but I don’t own one) (yet), and there isn’t any obvious accumulation of gunk (excuse the technical terminology) in that area of the bolt, so I will just field strip it again and give it all a good going over with a can of brake cleaner.

I did get it sighted in to my initial satisfaction. I chose my usual 21′ and managed to “chase the hole” around the paper until I stopped and thought about it for a bit. Elevate the rear sight (this model features a fixed blade front sight) to raise the point of contact on the target, drift the rear sight left to move the point of impact on the paper to the left. Don’t know why this continues to seem counter-intuitive to me. As I started to say, I finally managed a reasonably consistent ~1″ group at 21′, after allowing for repeated stoppages to clear FTE’s. 🙂 Not too bad from a new gun, and one in a model that is itself new to me as a shooter (it’s surprising how much a minor-seeming difference like the thickness of the grip or even the tactile feel of different grip materials can have on basic sight acquisition and grip mechanics, isn’t it?). I’ve put off buying a 9mm for at least 35 years now; even with the to-be-expected new gun quibbles I’m thinking that was one of my less well thought out decisions.

I’ll be going back to the range on Friday (that was the justification for the day off, remember?); we’ll try it again then. Maybe some pictures too if I remember to bring an actual camera instead of just my crappy cell phone. It’s not a question of “blog standards” you understand, I just want a clear enough picture that I can tell what I’m looking at next year.

A Feverish Grasp On That Metaphorical Silver Lining

Get that stock market value as high as your fantasy allows. I plan to borrow against my 401(K) at the end of the month and every little bit helps.

h/t Instapundit

It’s A Good Thing I Didn’t Have A Love Life To Start With

Saves me having to choose between it and … well, living.

Introducing my latest (and likely only) sleeping companion, The Snout, including the warm and wet option to complete the sensuousity of it all. With all the hangman’s noose hose and filters, I just tickled the old health insurance for a grand, easy.

What’s the sense in living longer if every woman that arouses your interest staggers off laughing hysterically once she catches a glimpse of your bedroom attire?

CPAP my ass; CRAP!

It’s Here!

Well, not here, here; at the gun store.

Finally.

Got the call too late to go get it and have time to shoot it too, so no O/T for me tonight and up early enough tomorrow morning to do all that then.

Note to self: remember to buy a de-mooner and more moon clips.

Update 5/18/11: Got it! Shoots well and shows no tendency to spontaneously dis-assemble. 🙂

Further note to self: remember in future to check the package to see if moon clips are included. Don’t know as I’ll need all 12 of them any time soon, but I’m well equiped now, that’s certain.

Proper-ish range report w/ pics to follow. Any day real soon now. 🙂

Update

Work= Too much

Money= Not enough

Blog= What’s that?

Thanks Kevin. And, buck up Tam, somebodies always got a shovel. 🙂

Smith & Wesson Has Been Heard From

After a week or so of telephonic to-ing and fro-ing, S&W has agreed to replace my unrepairable 625-10 revolver. It should take another 3 weeks or so, but I’m very much looking forward to trying out my brand new Model 325 Night Guard.

Same scandium alloy frame/stainless steel cylinder, same physical dimensions and empty weight, same caliber and Tritium night sights along with a gratis holster too, since there is some difference in initial MSRP between the current offering and the original gun (which is no longer being manufactured anyway). They’re sending me the original guns grips back too as they will fit on the new one also. Not a Performance Center gun (which likely contributes to the holster inclusion), but frankly I’m not overly impressed with the differential. The principal benefit in my (admittedly limited) experience is in the trigger and finish. The first can be modified to accomidate my particular preference at least as well by a quick tune-up from my local gunsmith Steve Prater. As for the finish, this was always going to be an alternative concealed carry pistol mostly for summer conditions so the finish is going to take a sweaty beating no matter what.

Sometime late in April I will take ammo from the same box the first gun failed with and put the new one through it’s paces. Pictures and drooling comments (hopefully) to follow.

Smith & Wesson Hates It’s Customers

Day 55 of an American Held Hostage to corporate disdain!

At least a few people have noted my experience with what is publicly acknowledged as a Smith & Wesson design and production process failure. The so-called agent of corporate dissimilitude “customer service representative” commented at the time of my first contact that, “That’s ours”. Now, to be fair, I suppose he could have been noting the obvious, that the pile of wreckage gun with “Smith & Wesson” prominently stamped into the frame was one of theirs, but the impression he let stand was that the likely cause was one he was familiar with, that the cause was theirs and not the obvious result of my own ineptitude.

What is most galling is the complacent avoidance of any effort to inform me as to any progress in what Smith & Wesson must laughingly refer to as their “decision making process” as regards any potential resolution of this matter. Follow up calls on my part don’t rise to my personal estimation of “keeping me informed” and neither do vague references to a “metals shop” having the responsibility to determine my fate.

As to that – resolution of this matter, the 625-10 was a limited production weapon from the outset and one that Smith & Wesson no longer makes. I have no idea what value the corporate leviathan will pronounce for my unrepairable purchase, but none of the revolvers they offer in their most recent catalog rise to the specifications that led to my buying the gun in the first place. I note that their scandium frame 1911 pattern pistol in .45 acp comes quite close, but somehow doubt that corporate financial interests will agree it’s near-$1200.00 msrp is compatible.

To the extent past performance actually is a guide to future activity, more to follow, I promise.

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