Dot torture

Shot my first fifty round Dot-torture on Friday at three meters. I’m trying to remain optimistic. I did however learn a couple of things.

  1. My accuracy is likely below average.
  2. I can’t shoot left handed.
  3. I can’t count/read. (I put one too many shots on six and seven)

I should (in theory) be able to remedy the last point by next week. The others hopefully will improve with practice. Also, I should be probably mention that I scored myself for things that grazed the black outer circle. Which I don’t think is right… but my ego stepped in to save me from complete annihilation.

IMG_6638

Hopefully in a couple of weeks I can use this as an example of how I’ve improved. In my defence I can say one thing. The dowel stick (that you attach your target to) at this range hangs very low and because I’m quite tall (6.3) I felt like I was shooting almost from a half-squat position. But you know, excuses, excuses.

Schwehrpunkt 

Blitzkrieg was never a codified dogma in the German army. Rather it evolved due to a situational requirement. Schwerpunkt, literally means, ‘Heavy-point’, although a better translation might be ‘Focal point’. In German it is a word that describes a type of solution when problem solving. Many German businesses use this term to illustrate when the majority of a finite resources should be used on a critical area of focus.

This tactic was used very successfully by Erwin Rommel during the battle of France. His armored division was often so far a head of the main line that is was referred to as the ‘Ghost Division’ since no-one knew where exactly it was, and by the time they did, Rommel had likely already moved on.

Situationally the German army could not afford to get bogged down in Poland and France. Having learned from the disaster of The first World War and how quickly the fighting had devolved into attrition trench warfare they were keen not to repeat their mistake.

The Schwerpunkt is a culmination of the situation, technology and terrain. Is is basically a modified version of the refused flank or Oblique order. Instead of concentrating your forces on one flank however, the Schwerpunkt can be used anywhere along the battle line.

11.png

The Schwerpunkt tactic uses a large hard hitting, highly mobile unit (in the German case, tanks) arranged against a long strung out battle line.

21.png

Before the offensive started, the Luftwaffe and ground based artillery would soften up the target area with bombardment.

3

The heavy unit would then assault the weak point in the line using overwhelming numerical superiority and speed to punch through.

4.png

Once the heavy unit had broken through it could carry on going or swing round to attack the rest of the line in the rear.

 

Vulnerabilities

  1. The terrain needs to be conducive to high speed warfare. If the French had immediately blown up all their bridges and defended choke-points created by valleys and rivers the offensive would have ground to a halt.
  2. If your opponent is robust enough to survive the initial attack, digs in and does not panic or surrender because formations are in his rear this tactic will likely fail. The German army relied heavily on the psychological effect of Panzers and dive bombers to demoralize the enemy.
  3. Logistics nightmare. To feed, arm and supply a unit working behind enemy lines becomes very difficult. If your opponent can weather the storm you will quickly run out critical components. The Germans in North Africa struggled to keep their supply lines operational. A critical shortage of diesel fuel, parts and water likely aided in their defeat.

Dividends

I remember the first time I got a dividend payment. It was from Compagnie Financière Richemont. One day in the mail I got a one inch wad of super-complicated foreign exchange forms (the dividend was in Swiss Francs) and a thick glossy catalogue which also doubled as the company financials. Before then I’d only ever traded commodities. I’d perused the forms, briefly. And then decided it was too much work and went back to killing stuff on Playstation.

img_6647.jpg

Δ We may have lost the cultural revolution… but we have a baseball team on our money.

The second time I got a dividend it was infinitely more exciting than the first. Post event I decided that maybe I liked this dividend thing after all. Money sorta just appeared in my account and I didn’t have to do anything. Who doesn’t like free money?

Wait… what exactly is a dividend?

A dividend happens when a company makes sooooooooo much money that they don’t actually know what to do with it. Like when they sell a pair of shoes that cost them 10 rupees and a sandwich to make but what they’re actually selling is a fictional narrative for $165.  At some point during the year the head honchos all get together and, after strippers, blow and some self-congratulatory back slapping, they ink out a corporate strategy on the back of a napkin and then decide to distribute all that money to shareholders. 

I jest. Sometimes they do this in a smoky walnut panelled room at a country club. 

IMG_6648

Δ Plastic surfer-money. From the country that brought you MasterChef. And Steve Irwin. Not pictured. RIP.

I suppose it depends on what sort of investor you are. Or maybe how you feel about how you make your money. If you even care. I tend to flip-flop between liking dividends and then not liking them.

Declaring a dividend, for me at least, is often a sign of poor management. People so devoid of imagination or work ethic that instead of reinvesting that money in the company they would rather just give it away. It underscores a huge problem in the higher echelons of the corporation. The top management is unlikely to be around for the next cycle. Generally speaking when you’re at the pinnacle point in that environment you are also nearing your expiry date. You need to make hay while the sun shines. If the company doesn’t have enough reserves for the next trough, that will be someone elses problem.

IMG_6649.jpg

Δ Be the change you want to see in the world – Mohandas Gandhi.  Also these are not my sandals.

And so, companies pay dividends. Its a double edged sword. Sure I like that ‘free’ money. But I would also like it if the company I owned shares in took that money and did something constructive with it. Ie. Diversified its income streams to be a more robust earner, bought back some of its shares, bought a competitor or even just saved that money for a rainy day.

img_6651.jpg

Ultimately we as stakeholders live for the day and we would much rather eat the cupcake now than have the promise of two cupcakes later. Thats just how we roll.

This blog post was inspired by StealthyWealth who upsets me with his continuous optimism and cheery disposition. I can’t really fault him on anything else though.

 

Lockjaw

When my wife went to pick up our 19 month old daughter from Kindergarten yesterday she had to complete an ‘incident report form’. Our daughter got into her first altercation (with a boy), which she proceeded to resolve through violence of action. She decided to settle the dispute by introducing her canines into his forearm.

I am conflicted about this. Fifty percent of me says, ‘We are such bad parents’. The other fifty percent says, ‘Damn-right, if another kid tries to take your crayon he needs to pay the price*’. Fortunately, ceteris paribus, these thoughts cancel themselves nicely and I feel largely neutral about the whole thing. Small mammals bite each other. We spoke to her about it and we think she understands that this is (mostly) unacceptable behavior.

*what price? The blood price.

6839239191

Δ  ‘Steal my crayons I bite your face off’ (this is actually a screen-grab from two guys who used to teach a form of  ‘street’ fighting based on a Spanish-Gypsy ‘style’. I learnt a lot of cool stuff from them)

My sales manager laughs and says that she can see me biting someone… and then having to be sprayed with a hose-pipe because I won’t let go.  I take it as a compliment, even though it probably wasn’t meant to be one.

I got kicked out of Sunday school for biting this kid I didn’t like. It was a re-enactment of Daniel being thrown to the lions. I was relegated to playing the part of a lion (the chorus in a Greek tragedy). In the original God sends an angel to protect Daniel from certain death. In our version that kid clearly didn’t take his job as seriously as I did. Sufficed to say the whole thing was quite awkward because my mother was the Sunday school teacher.

So maybe its hereditary. I find toddlers fantastically primordial. Like tiny little feral ape-people. Which I realize is what they are, but I tend to anthropomorphize (I use the term loosely) my offspring, and forget that they are exceptionally basic with few if any social graces. They still have to learn all this stuff. Situations where I can bite and eye gouge and hurl my own excrement are relatively limited. On a monkey that’s your go-to reaction when someone takes your banana.

Our whole lives are about suppressing our natural instincts to lash out and maim the person who upsets us. Although now, being the story-telling social animals we are, we can find other outlets for our rage. Instead of tooth and fist we can slander, deride and cheat our enemies. Cutting them off in traffic also works.

Progress.

Embracing the suck

‘It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows’ – Epictetus

One of the (many) disappointing things about getting older is realizing all the things that you used to believe are no longer true. Spoiler alert. There is no Santa Claus. I am also starting to doubt the authenticity of a mega-fauna Sylvilagus that has been perennially dispensing chocolate eggs since the dawn of time. I’m also convinced there are no real ‘adults’ either, just a lot of people playing pretend. The older I get the less I know, which makes me yearn for my youth where I knew everything. I also wish I could still hang upside down on the monkey bars without something snapping in my back.

Being a prisoner in my own life I try to use my hour of ‘free-time’ before I go to bed as efficiently as possible. In lieu of killing-stuff on PlayStation I now try and further myself by reading books that make me feel stupid. I’m desperately trying to emulate my heroes. Theodore Roosevelt’s favorite poem is the Nibelungenlied (the story of Siegfried the Dragon-slayer) which he read in the original German. Jan Smuts loved Prometheus Unbound by Shelly and read Greek Tragedies in their original format. Joey likes… Tintin. The Calculus Affair is my favorite.

IMG_6606.jpg

Behold my Kryptonite *hits head on the edge of his desk* If ever there was something that can tear any remnants of ego from the dark recesses of my brain this is it. This book is making me feel more stupid than I ever thought possible.

I read it line by line and think, oh that’s a nice line or cool word combination. But by the end of the page (which takes me about five minutes) I can’t remember what happened at the top of the page. Let alone the previous page. I mean I have a general sense… that God was hanging out with his Arch Angles and Mephistopheles comes to visit and that God says ‘Want to bet you can’t tempt Faust?’ And Mephistopheles says ‘Hold my beer’. But the nuances are generally lost on me.

IMG_6608.jpg

This book is kicking my butt. I can confidently attest to Epictetus that he shouldn’t worry, I don’t really know anything about anything.

I get the sense that I could read this entire book, spend all this time and only ever understand it from a Wikipedia summary point of view. I would never be able to have an intellectual conversation about it. I find that quite disheartening as it starkly illustrates my limitations.

‘It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.’ -Theodore Roosevelt

To be fair I am at least trying. And that’s something. Even if it does feel like an exercise in futility. I just wish I was a bit smarter.

Bang. Bang.

Hypocrisy. noun. The practice of claiming to have higher standards or more noble beliefs than is actually the case.

By my own standards I should not be allowed to carry a firearm at the moment. Its been more than a year since I’ve been to the range. With the birth of my daughter and the barely contained chaos that follows such an event I just haven’t found the time. Or rather, perhaps more aptly, I’ve had to prioritize the free time available to me. Which is a weak excuse at best, since I have found the time to blog, exercise, read and play Playstation. Keeping my firearm training current just slid to the bottom of an ever burgeoning to-do list.

On Friday I decided that things needed to change and that I was no longer comfortable being this strange imposter. Went and put a quick fifty down range with my Glock. It wasn’t pretty, but not quite as nightmarishly bad as I had anticipated.

IMG_6591.jpg

Just trying to hit the target from a very boring Isosceles stance. I did have one stoppage though (shooting reloads), which I tap-racked.

I am actually NOT a huge proponent of training this way. Ie. Going to the range and in a nice, serene environment, leisurely taking aim at a paper target. You know that old chestnut, train in chaos, thrive in chaos, I firmly believe that.

In an ideal world it would be a circuit. A three minute round of boxing or grappling, then twenty burpees, then draw and shoot. While some one next to you is peppering you with hot shells from an AK. Repeat until you are so exhausted you can barely bring your arms up. Thats slightly closer to reality. Generally speaking shooters don’t do enough stress inoculation training. Now I’m not saying the above mimics a gunfight in any way, shape or form. But it atleast elevates your pulse and blood pressure.

From next week I’m going start shooting Dot Torture to try get my accuracy up to where it needs to be.

dot-torture-image (1).jpg

Its a fifty round exercise and since I only really have time for a quick fifty I want to try and maximize efficiency. Once you score a fifty, ie all shots on target for each mini-exercise you move the target back one yard and start again.

Then maybe we will move onto burpees.

Locke and Key (Comic book) 

A gateway drug has to be a considered choice. Some will vehemently argue the classics. The Killing Joke. Watchmen. Maus. Transmetropolitan. All fine titles don’t get me wrong. But one shouldn’t just mainline that stuff right into a beginners eyeball. Its irresponsible. You need to ease them in, similar in fact to boiling a frog. You can’t hit them with a sledgehammer like Maus and I’m pretty sure you have be hopped up on Psilocybin to appreciate Transmetropolitan on your first* read through. You should also avoid stuff thats been made into a movie, you don’t want contamination, so nothing mainstream. Definitely no Batman. Your gateway needs to have an amazing story, great hero characters and a dastardly villain. But its also needs to be beautifully drawn and have a great ending.

*First, seventh, whatever.

locke-key-1-welcome-to-lovecraft-hc-w-logos

Joe Hill is the pen name for Joseph Hillstrom King. The progeny of Stephen and Tabitha King. That should give you an idea about what sort of story this is. He wanted to succeed on his own merit and not because of who his father is, hence the nom de plume. Kudos to him. Joe writes and Chilean phenom Gabriel Rodriguez pencils and inks. Together they form the greatest duo since Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar. We are NOT worthy.

The comic is quite dark. But not so dark that it will leave you disturbed, sleeping with the lights on and nursing your new found fear of circus performers and Saint Bernards. Its more like a really dark shade of gray.

lock-and-key-featured.jpg

The story takes  place in a fictional New England county called Lovecraft. A homage to the master horror writer that brought Cthulhu Elder Gods fame. The Locke family return to their old ancestral home after a recent tragedy and from there on bad things ensue.  A mandatory requirement, great characters, is fulfilled by the deep, complicated protagonists, some of whom are deeply flawed. Even the supporting cast of characters is richly detailed. By the end of the series you feel like you know them all and you’re concerned by the nagging premonition that not all of them are going to make it.

The story ticks along nicely. When it began there’re was an agonizing wait between each comic being released (The series ran between 2008 and 2013). Now you can just buy the omnibus and binge read it all in one go. Therein lies its only real weakness. Being a comic book that was released bi-monthly you tended to pour over each release, finding all the nuances and re-reading each episode multiple times. It might lose something with a binge read. Still, I am confident in my recommendation.

It is the ending however that delights me the most. A lot writers tend to fluff their endings, bending towards weird finales that don’t seem to fit with everything they’ve crafted so meticulously up until that point. It’s like someone else swoops in and writes their final scene to appeal to some broad proletariat that would never have liked their work anyway. Locke and Key ends like it’s supposed to.

Comic books are a phenomenal medium for art and storytelling. Unfortunately many though beautiful suffer from an unforgivingly poor narrative. Others have a great story but look like they’ve been thrown together by a three fingered alcoholic with a crayon suffering from late stage Parkinsons. A vast swathe of comics straddle some form of middle ground between the two and meld into a giant sea of beige. All nondescript offerings that vaguely resemble each other, like songs on the Nickelback discography.

(For a while I ponder if that last paragraph violates my policy of not being mean. I decide to give myself a penalty for high sticking but rule that play should continue)

Locke and Key stands comfortably apart. It shows you what’s possible. And then leaves you wanting more. An exceptional gateway drug experience.

Mary and Max (2009)

I briefly considered creating some sort of spurious narrative, but truthfully I was Facebook-stalking an ex-girlfriend. She happened to be extolling the virtues of this movie in her status. Not something she would do lightly. She’d made me sit and watch Donnie Darko with her on our second date as a sort of litmus test to see whether or not I was worthy of her time.

Despite us not working out, I felt her taste in movies was generally beyond reproach. Enter Mary and Max, an Australian stop-motion film that opened the Sundance festival in 2009.

mary_and_max_xlg

Despite what it looks like, this is not a kids movie. It deals with some pretty serious themes. Depression, neglect, addiction, loneliness, Asperger syndrome, suicide and a slew of anxiety disorders. Which probably immediately makes you wonder ‘that sounds horrible, why the hell would I watch this?’ OR ‘god this sounds like my life, why would I watch this?’

All the things that make this movie quite dark are largely negated by the humour and the artistic clay-mation style of the movie. Mary and Max is quirky and wry, funny and sad, rich and thoughtful. Philip Seymour Hoffman voicing Max is stellar. It left me feeling buoyant and cheerful, despite being shot in the same color pallette as a dirty puddle.

This not a movie you should watch flippantly though. After a workday that more resembles a verse from Dante’s inferno (Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intratethis is not the movie to bring you back from the brink. This is more of a post dinner, Friday night with wine, pre-intercourse movie.

Its a very unusual film. But definitely one you won’t forget about.