Communion Of Dreams


IWI Tavor TS12 review
August 25, 2020, 2:51 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

[For some reason, Facebook is having problems with my ballistics blog being considered “spam”. Until I get it resolved, I’m going to post partial info about new blog posts over there, here, so people can link it off FB. Please just ignore if ballistics isn’t of interest.]

This past weekend I got to try the new(ish) Tavor TS12 semi-auto shotgun, made by IWI.

This gun got a LOT of attention when it was announced at SHOT 2018, and generated a fair amount of interest later when the commercial version was finally released not quite a year ago. And for very good reason: it’s a hell of a package.

[The entire post can be found here.]



The Future of BBTI
August 24, 2020, 3:52 pm
Filed under: Ballistics, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

[For some reason, Facebook is having problems with my ballistics blog being considered “spam”. Until I get it resolved, I’m going to post partial info about new blog posts over there, here, so people can link it off FB. Please just ignore if ballistics isn’t of interest.]

So, I have some important news to share.

After months of discussion, and soliciting the opinions and suggestions from a number of people involved in the firearms/shooting community, we’ve made some decisions about BBTI going forward.

[The entire post can be found here.]



So, you think .44 magnum is powerful?
August 2, 2020, 3:41 pm
Filed under: Ballistics, Uncategorized

[For some reason, Facebook is having problems with my ballistics blog being considered “spam”. Until I get it resolved, I’m going to post partial info about new blog posts over there, here, so people can link it off FB. Please just ignore if ballistics isn’t of interest.]

Yesterday I got a box of cartridges. Now, even with the shortages these days, that isn’t that unusual.

But take a look at the contents:

Box

OK, for scale: that’s a full-sized .44 magnum cartridge on the right, outside the box.

[The entire post can be found here.]



With apologies to Ursula K. Le Guin

So, since I haven’t been blogging here much in the last couple of years, I haven’t said anything about just how surreal it was working to finish my novel about a global pandemic … while an actual global pandemic was unfolding around us.

Yeah. Seriously. Real Lathe of Heaven stuff, making me wonder about just how much my envisioning a given reality was bleeding into this reality.

To a certain extent this had been an ongoing problem with writing St Cybi’s Well, as I had mentioned previously. I had to keep going back and making the ‘dystopia’ of SCW worse as our own world took a turn for the worse with the election of Trump, elements of Christian fascism seemed to be in ascendancy, et cetera.

But this year, after I had gotten a solid re-start on finishing St Cybi’s Well, watching the Covid-19 virus start to spread, was just … bizarre. And as you’ll see when you read the book, how the virus spread and the efforts that various governments tried to curtail it was pretty much exactly as what happened in real life. Fortunately, of course, C-19 hasn’t proven to be nearly as deadly as the Fire-Flu.

Well, at least not yet.

< shiver >

Jim Downey



“… telling you a tale that just *might* be real.”

So, almost two months ago I ‘officially’ launched the publication of St Cybi’s Well.

No, I didn’t forget to mention it here. Since I have allowed this blog to go quiet, I didn’t see it as an important venue to announce it, and figured that it would make a little more sense to just let the book exist in the wild for a little while, then write about the reactions to it.

Currently, there are 14 reviews on Amazon, with an overall rating of 4.9 stars. Some are from friends. Some are from acquaintances. Some are from complete strangers. Among the reviews I have my favorites, and not necessarily ones which say good things. At this point, after struggling with the book for so long, I have very mixed feelings about it.

But my strongest emotion about the book, and something that keeps coming up in the reviews of it, is just how surreal it is to have finished the book during the middle of a real pandemic, and having our reality seeming to follow the path I had laid out in the book. Here are some excerpts as examples of what I mean.

The first review, by someone who backed my Kickstarter and had an advance copy of St Cybi’s:

With some recent political developments and COVID-19, I found this unsettlingly realistic.

And from other readers:

That he wrote this well before our current pandemic was even a thing is a testament to his spooky prescience

And:

The images are vivid and remain. No one took epidemic plagues too seriously anymore, Polio was long ago. But since Covid and Ebola, there is a realization that the 4 Horsemen of the Apocolypse are alive and kicking.

And:

What I found most compelling is the almost prescient storyline of the Fire Flu and its attendant effects on society. I can’t imagine a more difficult proposition than trying to finish your novel about an apocalyptic disease while having to do so with one currently taking over the news. There are some eerie moments in the book where it feels as though it’s a ‘ripped from the headlines’ story.

And:

Set in 2012, the overlap with current events in 2020 is uncanny.

And:

the story is kind of terrifying considering its striking similarity to current events

Of course, I’m not prescient. I had no real idea that the coronavirus pandemic was coming, though I had long known that we were about due for another pandemic and were likely unprepared for it. And what I put into the book about how the FireFlu virus spread, and how people reacted to it, was just based on history. What we’re seeing now … all the good and bad of it … was entirely predictable, because it is the sort of reaction that human societies have always had to pandemics.

Which, of course, doesn’t give me any comfort. As is said in one of the reviews:

I ended up feeling that the story is part of what science fiction does best – telling you a tale that just *might* be real.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Download my book, or order a paper copy. If money is a little tight, wait until the first of the month, and download it for free. And please, if you do read it, leave a review.

Thanks.

Jim Downey



Scotland 2018: 2) Edinburgh lows.

Being a photo-heavy travelog of our 2018 trip to Scotland.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Friday, May 4.

After breakfast in the hotel (at which I confirmed that I didn’t care for black pudding), we caught a taxi back to the train station. Much like the two-hour ride from Manchester to York, it was a pleasant way to see the countryside.

Except for the boyos.

Yeah, there was a group of young 20-ish guys going to Edinburgh for some kind of sporting event/party, in their own little world of drink and unlikely anecdotes accompanied by a boombox and various videos they kept sharing on their phones. It was mostly amusing, until they had enough to drink to start singing along with the music, without benefit of much skill.

We relocated to the other end of the car for the rest of the trip. It was a good decision, even though the conductor came through to check tickets and told the guys to knock it off.

We got to Waverley Station, then hiked the mile or so north to our B&B. Met our host, dropped off our bags, and then decided to go for a bit of a walk. He had recommended one of the sites we had on Martha’s Marvelous Map: The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, which was just a quarter-mile or so away. It was great!

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Mr Blackbird’s successful photobomb.

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20180504_160801We finished at the Garden with a bite in the cafe, then went out to stroll along the Water of Leith, down toward Dean Village. It was a completely charming walk, and a good way to see a quiet part of the city. Here’s a bit of it.

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We ended the day with dinner at The Bailie Bar, just around the corner (and down a bit) from our B&B. Since it was a Friday night, it was noisy, crowded, and a little nuts, but the hostess found us a table and took care of us. The food & drink was excellent and the whole thing was enjoyable … for a while, at least. We left before my tolerance for crowds left me.

 

Saturday, May 5.

After breakfast, we got our bags ready to travel, but then went out to explore Dean Village a bit, we enjoyed the walk along the Water of Leith so much the day before. I enjoy finding these quiet parts of old cities:

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We got back to the B&B in time to meet our scheduled ride out to the airport, where we picked up our rental car. From there we drove west on the M9 to Falkirk.

Falkirk? Why Falkirk? The Wikipedia entry about the little town seems … kinda boring, to be honest.

Which is why we didn’t go to the town. No, we went to the Falkirk Wheel, just outside of it. This place:

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Yeah, I know, it looks weird. Like a couple of giant talons, or a birds head or something. But it does something revolutionary, and I have been intrigued by it since I first heard about the proposed project a couple of decades ago: it lifts boats (specifically, narrow-boats, for the UK canal system) some 24 meters (about 80 feet) from one canal system to another. Woo-hoo!

Yeah, OK, I have a thing for big weird engineering projects.

Speaking of which, there’s another such big weird engineering project there above the Falkirk Wheel, albeit one almost a couple thousand years older: a section of the Antonine Wall, and Rough Castle, both part of the Roman fortifications of the north. Well, even though we only had a vague idea of where the Wall/Fort were, and how far, we decided to take a hike and see what we could see.

It was a good decision:

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Trust me, this is impressive.

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And so is this.

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Even the sign says it’s impressive. Really!

But we browsed and walked around long enough, so decided to get back to the car and drive to Stirling, where our B&B awaited. We got there with little trouble, found the B&B, and settled in a bit. Then we decided to walk into town and get a bite to eat. Since our B&B was just below the castle, we got to see some great sights along the way:

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The “King’s Knot

We had a nice dinner, tried some of the local ales and scotches, and then walked back to the B&B for a good night’s rest.

 

Jim Downey

 

 

 

 



Death comes quickly.
September 22, 2013, 8:26 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

He spoke through tears of 15 years how his dog and him traveled about
The dog up and died, he up and died
And after 20 years he still grieves*

Again, I am reminded that we need to cherish those we love while we have them.

An hour or so ago I lost my buddy. The buddy who went walking with me every morning. The buddy who helped me get through the long years of being a care-giver. The buddy who kept a sharp eye out for trespassing deer, and people, and racoons — especially racoons. The buddy who was always there, always patient, always happy to see me.

Death came quickly and unexpectedly. Yesterday he was fine, had a good day. Last night he seemed a little sluggish, reluctant to go outside, but we figured that was due to the loudness of a nearby music festival. He didn’t like loud noises.

This morning before the sun was up, he was out of his bed, seemed to not be feeling well. I decided to wait until a little later in the morning before I called our vet. Shortly thereafter he started a quick downward spiral, showing all the symptoms of a heart attack. We debated whether we could get him to a veterinary hospital in time to do any good. Instead, he was able to die while I held him, in familiar surroundings.

He was a good dog.

The cats are being extra affectionate this morning. They know we’re hurting.

Jim Downey



“More and more, it seems as if public officials in this country have simply gone insane.”
September 12, 2008, 6:25 am
Filed under: Bruce Schneier, Emergency, Failure, Government, Preparedness, Society, Terrorism, Uncategorized

That’s the closing line of yesterday’s post by Bruce Schneier.  Of course, Schneier has thought this for a long time.  But what is he going on about?  This:

Are the fire hydrants in your neighborhood turned on?

ROCKWALL COUNTY – A North Texas homeowner wants you to learn from his family’s tragedy.

The fire hydrants in his neighborhood are turned off.

Now, why are the hydrants turned off?

You guessed it: terrorism.

More from the news story:

Clay Hodges is the general manager of Cash Special Utility District.

He explains all the district’s hydrants, including those in Alexander Ranch, have had their water turned off since just after 9/11 – something a trade association spokesman tells us is common practice for rural systems.

“These hydrants need to be cut off in a way to prevent vandalism or any kind of terrorist activity, including something in the water lines,” Hodges said.

But Hodges says fire departments know, or should have known, the water valves can be turned back on with a tool.

Insane.  Just bloody insane.  As Schneier says:

One, fires are much more common than terrorism — keeping fire hydrants on makes much more sense than turning them off. Two, what sort of terrorism is possible using working fire hydrants? Three, if the water valves can be “turned back on with a tool,” how does turning them off prevent fire-hydrant-related terrorism?

Yes, this is insane.

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to UTI.)



“I live to serve.”
August 2, 2008, 7:36 am
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Health, Humor, Uncategorized

I had sent a note to a friend that contained something which I thought may have been of interest to his students. He said thanks in return, and I replied (jokingly): “I live to serve.”

His reply:

Man, we got to break you of that. Is there a
12 step program for former caregivers out 
there? 

I kid just a little here ...

Actually, it’s an interesting idea . . .

Jim Downey

(Thanks to Steve, and all my other concerned friends.)



Twisted.
July 4, 2008, 10:35 am
Filed under: Humor, MetaFilter, movies, Science Fiction, Star Wars, Uncategorized, YouTube

Watch the whole thing:

Heh!

Jim Downey

(Via MeFi).