Saturday, December 10, 2011

Comparing the 9mm, 12 gauge, and .50 S&W

I'm very liberal. You'll find me on the very far left of the political spectrum. I do have a hard time with the American political system however, I find it very binary. It's expected that one tows the party line on all issues, the more dedicated you are the more you agree with the issues. For a lot of issues it's true, I may be more liberal than Ralph Nader. Gays in the military / gay marriage? Sure, why not. Hell, if a guy wanted to marry a chair, what do I care. Universal healthcare? It should be a constitutional right. But gun control? I believe that felons and those adjucated to be dangerous to themselves or others (such as involuntarily treated mental illness) should not have access to any firearms. But, that's about it in my book. If a law abiding citizen wishes to walk around with a .45 in a shoulder holster - why should I care? Every recent domestic massacre would have turned out very different if one of the victims was armed and capable of using it. Suddenly history would have been very different, one less victim and one more hero. But, I digress. Today we're going pumpkin hunting.

I love Halloween and love pumpkins as decorations. My wife bought several small, non-carvable types this year. She decorated them with a Sharpie and they brightened our home. After Haloween they were turned around and became Thanksgiving decorations. How versatile! But after Thanksgiving, I couldn't think of a use for them. My wife could. "Why not take them shooting?"

So we have four pumpkins to introduce to you. Pumpkin number one volunteered for the 9mm test. This is about 20 yards away using standard ammunition. We have examples of the entry and exit "wounds", both are about 5cm with a 1cm puncture. Head or chest shots would appear to be incapacitating.

Pumpkin number two wanted to meet the "zombie gun". This would be a standard 12-gauge shot gun using a target load. The stock was removed, replaced with a pistol grip. While this looks "cool", it's difficult to aim and took me four shots at 20 yards before I hit. The hit is serious, however. The entry wound covers the entire face of the pumpkin with a 5cm puncture. The exit wounds are small, pellet-like. Damage is substantial, anything other than an arm-hit would appear incapacitating.

Pumpkin three met someone a little more serious, the Smith and Wesson .50 caliber magnum. The S&W .500, as it's generally known, is the current largest production handgun in the world. I know, Dirty Harry said that about the .44 magnum - but that was a long time ago. Things have improved. The entry wound is an innocuous 8cm wound with a 2cm puncture. The entry wound photo does give away some hint of the devastation which is clearly seen as the exit "wound" is simply not measurable. The entire half of the pumpkin has been ripped away. A hit anywhere is obviously incapacitating.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Bacon Explosion

Oh, joy. A holiday weekend. Most people have a three day weekend except some shlubs in health care. So, instead of going out tonight I will cook something. It'll also give me something to take to work tomorrow. But what? I was fuddling around with Wikipedia when I stumbled over their "bacon portal". They have a section dedicated to bacon, that's a joy. Ooh, the recipe currently featured is the bacon explosion. Sounds good. Let us try it, shall we?

It begins, simply enough, with two pounds of bacon and two pound of sausage meat. Pay attention, it's sausage meat not sausages. Obviously you can use any sausage but if you're buying links you'll have to remove the casing. See the photo to get an idea of what four pounds of pork looks like. The chips and guacamole are not part of the recipe, but it makes for good snacking while you're handling all this meat.

First thing is to go cut up some wood. Luckily I seem to have a spare piece of old, dead mesquite. Don't friggin' go cutting down some live tree just to have a BBQ. If you don't have a tasty, old piece of tree (or don't know what's good) then I'm sure you can buy some smoking chips or whatever. Soak them in a pan of water while you're making the rest.

Now weave a mat as a bed for the sausage meat. You see here a 7x7 grid I've made. I've seen recipes that say 5x5 - I guess it's whatever floats your boat. Make sure the bacon is thick cut. Get it from the butcher, no nasty "maple flavoured" liquid-smoke crap you get in plastic packages.

Now take the sausage and cover the bacon bed with it. Ensure it's even, spread it out completely. That's not quite four pounds of meat though, is it? What happened to the rest of the bacon? Excellent question.

The bacon is cut into two inch strips and is sitting in a skillet as we speak. I have no idea why people cut up bacon after they cook it, it turns to a crumbly mess. Cut it before, dufus. And make sure it's cooked all the way through. No chewy bacon, we eat beef rare - not pork. I don't understand numbnuts who don't cook bacon until it's properly crispy. Let the fat liquefy, at the end you're actually deep frying the bacon. That's a good thing.

Drain the fat out. No need to blot it, a little bit of extra fat will not matter greatly in this recipe. Keep that aside for now.

Back to our sausage, cover with a film of BBQ sauce. Be a man and make your own, it's friggin' easy. Not too much, see photo for an idea. Dust with your favourite dry rub, I've sprinkled some crushed chillies on it as well because my lovely wife won't eat anything unless there's chilies hidden in it.

Fetch the cooked bacon and sprinkle it on. You have uncooked bacon weave as a bed, uncooked sausage as filler, BBQ sauce and dry rub making the glue and the holy center of crispy bacon. Nice.

Carefully roll that bad boy up. Get your fingers in there and ensure the two sausage half meet and the seem is sealed well. Ooh. That's tasty.

On the BBQ we have the container with wood and water. Fire it all up until it's warm then turn off the burners over the section you're going to cook the beast. In this photo it's actually sitting on a cedar plank I use for grilling. Baste with very thin film of BBQ sauce and close it up. No peeking. Just get the temp set for around 225. You get to peek every half hour or so. Ensure the container still has water and wood so it's smoking, not burning. Baste quickly another thin layer of BBQ Sauce. You'll be doing this for about two and a half hours.

At that point stick a thermometer into the middle of it. You want 160-165 degrees. It's done. For the love of all that's holy, do not take out the thermometer. It's just a port for all the juice to come out. Take it out and let it be the showcase for 15 minutes or so. No cutting until it's settled - again, all the juice runs out. Never cut a freshly cooked piece of meat. Ever.

And, there it is. Four pounds of artery-clogging pork. The Bacon Explosion.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.
- Noam Chomsky
I was flipping through Facebook and found a posting from someone advocating a boycott of Amazon's website as there was a book for sale that purportedly assisted pedophiles in their activities. Atrocious, certainly. I have as much contempt for pedophiles as most other parents and share in the idea that pedophiles cannot be rehabilitated and should be put down as the cancerous growths they really are. But, I can't support banning this book.

In university I was about as liberal and left-leaning as any student could be. A journalism major, what do you expect? I saw a poster which identified an official review committee that would oversee some of the curriculum of professors and applied to sit on it. Students made up a third of the committee and were appointed by the student government. At the time a rather controversial professor had stated in his class that a certain ethnographic segment of the population was more intelligent and had a higher capacity for intelligence than others. So, the scenario was proposed to me, as a candidate for this committee, "If a professor wanted to discuss issues of race, and that one race was superior to another, would you allow it?"

Naturally the answer expected was a negative one. But, that's the knee-jerk left-wing answer. Not the carefully considered one. In my paradigm of free thought, all viewpoints must be brought to the cold, hard light of the day and evaluated.
Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.
- Alfred Whitney Griswold
It's elementary journalism theory. Don't let any idea get buried; when a group of informed people consider all the ideas, the accept the good ones. I attempted to explain this to the student government representatives. I began my speech that all ideas should be allowed to surface but was quickly shut down. No, I could not serve on the committee. Students were, "too impressionable" to be allowed to hear such nonsense. I sadly shook my head, if students weren't given the opportunity to rationally examine ideas in university then where could they? Certainly not after graduation when ideas are probably fixed for life.

I oppose censorship, always. Allow the ideas to be bantered about, people will let the good ones rise and will allow the bad ones to sink. Also, just because I oppose a book being burned does not mean I oppose burning authors. These are separate issues; y'all can torch the pedophile.
Take away the right to say "fuck" and you take away the right to say, "fuck the government."
- Lenny Bruce

Monday, October 25, 2010

Put on your big girl panties and deal with it.

Juan Williams, a former news analyst at NPR, was fired because of comments he made on another media outlet while on his own time. While I do not agree with him (he said he felt uncomfortable on a plane when someone was dressed in, "muslim garb") I am filled with disgust at NPR's decision to fire him. Why disgust? NPR's CEO Vivian Schiller said, of the firing, "...he expressed [ideas] on Fox News [that] are really between him and his psychiatrist."

Let me get this straight: Schiller fired Williams for perpetuating the stereotype that members of the Muslim faith are terrorists. She did so by insinuating that Williams was being treated by a psychiatrist. When did racism and mental health become linked? Is Schiller condemning one stereotype by starting another?

I don't support Williams' comments nor do I share them. "Muslim garb" sounds as strange as "Christian garb", exactly what would this look like? Williams may be ignorant but at least he was truthful. It is better that someone come out and say what they are thinking (and give the rest of us an opportunity to educate and enlighten them)than to have closeted, closed-mindedness. This also gave us notice that Schiller has similar ideas of mental health that Williams has of Muslims. How can NPR not rid itself of her? It's hypocritical for NPR to fire Williams and retain Schiller. I would rather they rehire Williams and then send the pair of them for some training in stereotype reduction. I suspect it won't happen as the former has inked a lucrative deal with Fox and the latter is a broad.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


The stories (containing individuals, health workers, and places) in this blog do not exist. They are amalgamations of real and ficticious situations created as a literary exercise for myself. None of the scenarios take place at my current employment, which is never identified.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Be careful what you, or your family, wish for

Another great story comes to me from a psycho-geriatric psychiatrist I respect a great deal. He's full of pearls of wisdom and a fountain of knowledge about obscure clinical syndromes. He also has lived an interesting life.

Flash back to Chile, many years ago. In that country medical students enter medical school directly after secondary school. Our young doctor-to-be is 17-years-old when he starts, and still barely shaving when he graduates at 21. Instead of completing his residency, he goes off kibbutzing in Israel. He is having a great time, and those stories are best left for another time. In this story he find out that he's been drafted by the Israeli military as the Arab-Israeli war has just broken out.

Our poor doctor is now sitting on a hill as a spotter for an artillery regiment. He looks through his field glasses and in the distance he can see the enemy lines. Imagine the horror felt by his family when they hear he has been drafted, they quickly mobilize and call up the Israeli army.

"Do you know what you have done? You have drafted a doctor! You have a physician working in an artillery regiment!"

The military, sifting through their paperwork, realize the asset they are squandering. Our young doctor is removed from the artillery lines and welcomes into the military as a doctor. In an armoured regiment. On the front lines. Now he can pop his head out of a tank and see with his own eyes the enemy, no binoculars required. In fact his task is to inoculate all the armoured soldiers - which requires him, on the front lines, to leave the "comfort" of the tank and scramble to each one individually.

You can just imagine him, screaming and waving his medic bag, as he darts from tank to tank, "Open up! I'm a doctor!" Nice that he made house calls.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy Birthday

An old friend from nursing school reminded me that the birthday of an old co-worker was coming up. We all worked together in a large ER; they were ER nurses and I wandered around doing psych stuff. Soon-to-be-birthday-boy (let's call him, "Richmond") was renowned for putting the moves on anything that was remotely female. My compatriot (we'll call him, "Sean") and I did everything we could to foil Richmond.

One of our favorite moves was to watch Richmond chatting up a new female staff and then wander by in mid conversation and ask Richmond how his boyfriend Jeff was doing. Sean and I had built up a whole personae for this fictional "Jeff"; he was a football player at a local college, he was blond, he didn't smoke but drank like a fish... Sean and I had so many detailed conversations about Jeff in front of so many staff that Jeff began to become so real that poor Richmond was frequently asked by other staff how his "special partner" was doing. It provided us with many hours of entertainment. Next, we started rumors about sheep. To this day I laugh whenever I think of Richmond and wool sweaters.

One day the ER gets a new X-ray technician. She is young. She is attractive. And Sean and I wait for our opportunity to foul up Richmond's attempt to pick her up. But, he doesn't try. We're confused - what happened? What we don't know is that he's really, really interested in her. So much so that he arranges to meet her at a picnic table in back of the hospital during break so her can chat her up undisturbed. Except there's a wandering psych nurse having a smoke.

I see them at the picnic table, Richmond is intently leaning into her. They're hitting it off well, oblivious to anyone around them. As I am sauntering up to them I am thinking to myself, what would be the one thing I could say to Richmond to completely throw off his game?

"Hey there. Say, how's that rash coming along?"

I am expecting him to fluster. I am expecting him to curse me out. I am expecting to walk away while he tries to explain this to the new tech. What I am not expecting is for her to be the one to answer. But she does, without skipping a beat.

"Oh. Good actually. I went to see Dr. Sabin and he wrote me a prescription for this cream..."

Richmond is furious. His knuckles are turning white as he grips the picnic table. he grits his teeth and says, "He was talking to me."

It worked better than I hoped for, I simply made a hasty retreat.