I don't mean to offend. It's probably going to happen anyway.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Gone Fishing

I just got back from a week of family fun in the sun in the Florida keys. It was, in short, a grand time. One of the highlights for me was charter fishing for the first time.

I've been to Florida a few times now, as well as other coastal locales, but this is the first time I've been able to take a charter out. To any fisherpeople out there, I cannot recommend taking one of these trips enough.

I did extensive looking online to find an affordable, accessible, and interesting charter, but ended up booking from a flyer my mother found in an ice cream shop. Long Key Fishing Charters is an entirely independent operation run by Captain Mike Patterson. I called him on tuesday, and we set up an early morning 4 hour trip for the next day.

At 7AM Wednesday on vacation, which I am still in shock about doing to myself, my dad, grandfather and I loaded into the car and started the hour drive to Long Key from where we were staying. After about 10 minutes on the road, we got a call saying the winds were too high for fishing, and we'd have to postpone till the next day, so we turned around and went straight back to sleep.

Next morning, we repeated the exercise in much lower winds, and met Capt. Mike on the dock, where he asked us if instead of going straight for the food fish (we were on strict orders from the rest of the family to catch dinner) we might want to start with some sharking. Having never caught anything larger than a brown trout, this appealed to me. We were underway in less than ten minutes, and were on location for shark fishing fairly quickly. On the trip out, we had taken the time to lay a scent trail up current from us with menhaden oil, and chummed the water at location.

In accordance with the fishing idea that you can't catch fish without lines in the water, immediately after casting ancor, we had two lines out, each with a large steak of ladyfish on the end. Within 5 minutes, before the Captain had even finished setting up for the wait, we had a shark on the line, a 3-4 foot nurse shark. I had the pleasure of bringing this one in, and let me tell you, even on a heavy duty ocean sharking reel, those fish are powerful.

Between the three of us, we caught one more nurse shark and 2 lemon sharks. We also saw about a 7 foot shark, either a bull or lemon, go over the bank nearby in the classic dorsal and tail fins sticking out of the water motion, but were unfortunately unable to entice him to bite.

We moved on to the food fish next, drifting along for a couple miles over trout and snapper beds. By the end of our four hour trip, we had a respectable catch, but Capt. Mike kept us out another two hours, at which point we had ten large speckled trout and three snapper, having caught a couple reef sharks and several fish too small to keep. We returned to dock and the captain cleaned, filleted, skinned and deboned all the fish. We didn't end up leaving until almost 4:00, 4 hours past when I had expected to be done, and past the time we paid for.

Let me tell you, fresh caught sea trout is delicious.

Overall, it was a really great day, and Capt Mike was a great guide the entire day, and overall a nice guy. If you're ever in the Keys looking to do some fishing, I recommend Long Key Fishing Charters.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tight Groups

Seeing as this past week was Spring break, I had to take the opportunity at least once to go to the range with dad. Due to a shipping mishap, the new .22 wasn't in yet, and the attempt to put scopes on the Mosin's failing due to a slight parts mismatch, we didn't take any rifles. I'm starting to notice some interesting things about my shooting.

First and most noticeably, I can shoot quite accurately, but not consistently. I took 8.5X11 targets out to 75 feet with both the Ruger Single Six and S&W .66 shot single action, leaving 12/12 rounds on paper with the Ruger, and 5/6 with the Smith shooting a low group. Iron sights, slow fire. To me, this is an acceptable level of accuracy with a handgun.

Bringing targets back in to 25 feet, my accuracy with the revolvers was pretty much unchanged. Bringing out then the Taurus pt1911, Ruger 22/45, and Springfield Champion .45, my accuracy changed. I could still get nice tight groups on target some of the time. Sometimes they grouped low left, but that was easily corrected by adjusting my trigger pull.* Overall, my concern was the percentage of flyers. I put 4 rounds from the Springfield through the same ragged hole, then the 5th was about 3" distal. It was worse with the Taurus, where about half the shots ended up in a nice group, and the other half ended up 3-5" outside it, seeming to group either up or low left.

Surprisingly, the worst of it was the Ruger 22/45. The groups weren't large, no more than 4-6" at 25 feet, but shots tended to end up in a slanted line across that space. I have seen this gun shoot <1.5" groups at 25 feet, which makes me inclined to think that this is me. I'm starting to get minorly frustrated with this gun, as I have a harder time explaining the groups. It's a .22, so flinching seems highly unlikely, as recoil is all but unnoticeable. I suppose there could be some residual overcompensation from shooting the 9mm before it, but that wouldn't seem to explain the group shape, especially as I tend to get similar results when I start with it. I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong with it.

I have never had any pistol instruction other than from my dad. While he has been a good teacher, (clearly I can shoot decently at least) I feel like more formal instruction might be a useful thing, especially for things like grip and stance. Dad and I both learn a lot from theory and general guides, but I don't think he's taken a formal course either. I feel like I've come up against a wall that can either be overcome by lots and lots of practice and finding for myself what works (a difficult proposition living on a college campus) or by some more instruction. Hopefully this summer will provide opportunity for one or the other.

*I have fairly large hands, and some longer triggers leave my hand rather scrunched up, causing me to squeeze with my other fingers, drawing the shots low left. I either need to adjust my grip or practice focusing on just moving my trigger finger.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Talk the Talk

I hold views that many find objectionable. I know this. It's part of my existence at this point. I am frequently surprised at which views become sources of contention though. I am frequently surprised by the reactions I get to my stance on language in this country.

The language of this country is english.

I know that it's not officially the national language, and by no means is it the only language spoken in this country. All the same, if someone intends to live in this country, it should go without saying that that person should learn to speak english. Realistically, basic english literacy should be a qualification for citizenship.

The reasons for this are, as in pretty much every bit of social policy, multifold. The biggest and most rational reason for this is that government runs on english. Bills are written in english, reports are written in english, and campaigns are carried out in english. In order to get information about the running of this country in a different language, that information must be secondhand. As such, it is realistically next to impossible to get accurate, good information about the running of this country, and good citizenship is impossible without being well-informed.

The assorted voter fraud issues with ACORN seen in the last election, with members guiding the votes of non-english speakers towards their candidates, reinforces this. Those voters did not represent themselves, they represented ACORN. The language barrier left them open to exploitation, and prevented them from adequately fulfilling their duty as citizen.

On a similar note, providing multilingual services is problematic. I assume that most of my readers have heard the "Para espanol, oprima dos" message that plays on most automatic phone systems nowadays. First off, this is expensive on the organization putting together the system. Second, it doesn't apply to everyone. Getting an option for spanish in is, while not nothing, relatively easy. Offering options for portuguese, malay, polish, russian, swahili, chinese, or any of the other languages spoken in this country is significantly more difficult. Adding the spanish option does not change this country having a language. It merely expands the options by one.

This last point is highly important, but by far the most abstract. Citizenship is buying into the social government contract, by which you become eligible for the benefits of citizenship in return for paying the costs. These costs are, in a concrete sense, paying taxes, fulfilling jury duty, and obeying the laws of the land. In an abstract sense though, by becoming an American citizen, you are agreeing to become an American. National identity comes with the territory, so accordingly does a degree of assimilation.

By no means is this meant to suggest that becoming an American citizen requires the complete abandonment of your home culture. The blending of different cultures and lives is part of what makes this country as great as it is. However, that blending is dependent on communication. All too often this country sees its cities divided up into culturally independent regions. Coming from Chicago, Pilsen was the hispanic neighborhood, and Devon Avenue was the locus of Indian culture. Visiting those places felt almost like visiting another country. Many of the people living there have failed to integrate into this country.

This problem can be as harmless as failing to integrate, and as dangerous as La Raza. I have referenced Kevin Baker's posts about Balkanization* and the Raza Studies program in Arizona before. These students are not being raised as Americans, but as hispanics living in America. This fundamental difference is critical, especially as these students are being taught that their people are being oppressed by Americans. These students then grow up to become La Raza, a supposedly civil rights organization that focuses on victimization and engages in hostile activity occasionally to the point of domestic terrorism.

Language of course is not the only aspect of failure to integrate. Culture, family, and other things will still have sway. However, learning the language of the land** is the first crucial step to integrating. Everything else depends on it.

*further sub-links in the post linked. All are worth reading.

**I have heard this argument countered by people claiming Cherokee or other native tongues as the language of the land to illustrate hypocrisy, a la XKCD. The difference is that at that point, it was a case of conquest, not immigration. The pilgrims and other settlers had no intention of joining another nation, unlike the immigrants of today.