Friday, December 28, 2012

Letters to my Senators and Congressman on Gun Control

Senators Udall and Bennet,

As you know, this week Senator Feinstein released her gun control proposal (http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/assault-weapons).  While I am confident that this particular bill is headed for certain failure, I wanted to ask you to be mindful of your constituents' 2nd Amendment rights in the weeks and months ahead. 

With the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook, many are taking the opportunity to blame inanimate objects for the crimes committed by a sociopath.  There are a lot of emotional arguments for gun control, but the FACTS support allowing private citizens the means to defend themselves and those around them.  FBI statistics show that murder is at its lowest rate since 1961 despite (or rather because of) an unprecedented number of guns in the hands of private citizens. 

You know that Colorado is a Western state, and we celebrate our right to own and carry arms, even in heavily Democrat areas of the state.  Any support for the kinds of gun control measures described in Senator Feinstein's proposal (in whatever form they ultimately make it to the Senate floor) will be remembered by the voters here in Colorado.

To be specific, any form of gun registration, any limitations on the way a weapon looks or how many rounds it can carry are unacceptable.  Any restrictions on handguns or semi-automatic firearms are also unacceptable.

The 1994 so-called "assault weapon" ban did nothing to reduce violent crime.  An almost identical law currently in effect in Connecticut did nothing to stop the Sandy Hook tragedy.  Enforce current gun laws and expand gun rights for law-abiding citizens and our country will be a safer place (and indeed it statistically already is).  Allow our rights to be curtailed, and beware the political fallout.

Respectfully,

Jeff A. Odegard
Colorado Springs

-----------------------------
Congressman Lamborn,

Thank you for your continued support of the 2nd Amendment, which limits the ability of the Federal government to infringe upon our God-given right to own and carry arms.  As you know, Senator Feinstein has released her proposal (http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/assault-weapons)for implementing draconian gun control measures in the country.  While I am certain that this bill will never make it to the Senate floor, it shows us the Left's wish list for gutting and eventually eliminating our rights.  The same path has been followed in nation after nation, from Nazi Germany to Great Britain. 

I want to let you know that, as a conservative, there are some non-negotiable items when it comes to our firearms.
  1. Gun registration in any form is completely and utterly unacceptable.  It is the first step before confiscation, which some on the left, like Governor Cuomo and others are beginning to publicly espouse.
  2. A ban on handguns (like Canada) is completely unacceptable.  The handgun is the best concealable tool for self defense away from home, and entirely sufficient for defense in the home.  
  3. A ban on so-called "assault weapons" is completely unacceptable.  Without a Class 3 Firearms License, it is illegal to own a fully automatic weapon.  The weapons they are trying to ban are, aside from "evil" black looks, functionally identical to the M-1 Garands used in WWII.  Many of the listed features, like flash suppressors and barrel shrouds, are safety devices, and others, like collapsible stocks and pistol grips, make the weapon easier and therefore safer to handle.
  4. A ban on high-capacity magazines is not only unacceptable, but complete nonsense.  If a person can't have a 30 round magazine, he will carry three 10 round magazines and learn to do magazine changes faster.  If the magazines are designed to be non-removable (like in California), we will go back to WWII stripper clips for fast loading.  Take it far enough, and we'll be like the mountain men in the early 1800s - we'll just have to carry more guns!
  5. A ban on specific firearms produced by specific manufacturers is unacceptable and creates an uneven playing field in a highly competitive portion of the economy.  It punishes innovation and sound business practices, and will cost people jobs.
The 2011 murder statistics are out, and they show that homicides are at their lowest point since 1961, and lower than almost any year in the last century with the exception of part of the 1950's.  We have more guns in the hands of private citizens than ever before, including handguns, high capacity magazines and the "evil" looking, so-called "assault weapons" (or "modern sporting rifles" as they are affectionately called by the NRA).

Please support legislation that supports the enforcement of current gun laws and the expansion of 2nd Amendment liberties by law-abiding citizens.  Please fight the Left's gun control agenda with everything you have, and we will have your back.

Sincerely,

Jeff A. Odegard
Colorado Springs

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Please don't roll over for John Boehner!

Congressman Lamborn,

Thank you for everything you do for us in Washington.  I appreciate your conservative stance and voting record.  The reason for writing is that Speaker Boehner is demonstrating that his "conservatism" is only skin deep.  He is caving on tax increases, punishing conservatives by either removing them from committees and threatening others if they do not vote for his misguided compromise with President Obama on the so-called "fiscal cliff."

First, the "fiscal cliff" is a manufactured crisis, brought on by Congress's inability to deal with the real crisis - the staggering national debt.  President Obama is playing chicken with Congress, threatening dire financial ruin if he doesn't get things his way.  We are on the brink of financial ruin anyway!

Second, the Democrats' version of "compromise" is that Republican give up key principals while Democrats posture and relinquish on secondary issues.

You and I know that President Obama, Senator Reid and the other Democrats have no real interest in resolving this "crisis" until Republicans give up on bedrock conservative principals. 

John Boehner has surrendered one too many times, and should be removed as Speaker of the House for his failures.  Please pursue the election of a new, truly conservative Speaker.

Respectfully,

Jeff Odegard
Colorado Springs

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Hobbit Movie is No Lord of the Rings

First, it seems strange to write about a movie with the senseless deaths at the elementary school in Connecticut.  My thoughts and prayers and deepest condolences go out to the families grieving there.  Perhaps more on that later.

My wife and I saw Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" this afternoon.  I am a big Tolkien fan and loved the Lord of the Rings movies.  At the end of Fellowship and Two Towers I looked at the time and couldn't believe it had been three hours - it just flew by.  Return of the King felt a little longer, but was no where near what I experienced today.

The Hobbit is a long movie, and it feels long.  In LOTR, Jackson brought in a little of the back story from the Silmarillion (which is a complete history of Middle Earth, and reads like a dusty history book...) to add some needed context and the Aragorn/Arwen love story.  In The Hobbit, Jackson brings in far too much, and invents far too much. Somewhere around the two and a half hour mark, I was wondering, "is this movie ever going to end?"

My biggest beef is that he deviated from the book in far too many places.  I don't want to spoil the movie, but Bilbo's wonderful discussion with Gandalf at the beginning, Bilbo's self-conflicted, passionate arguing for himself to go, the meeting with the mountain trolls, the council at Rivendell, how they escaped the goblins (and Bilbo's escape), and the birdies in the trees scenes were all changed at a fundamental level.  The main villain in the movie isn't even in the book!

For parents, this movie is much more violent than LOTR.  Jackson went overboard in adjusting a children's tale for adult consumption.  LOTR was dark and scary, but the books were dark and scary (although not as much as the movies).  The Hobbit should have had a lot more humor and a lot less violence.  One of the brilliant moves in the LOTR movies was keeping most of the original dialogue intact, but it loses that in The Hobbit.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is about the triumph of compassion, friendship and love over evil.  The Hobbit is about Bilbo growing up and experiencing the world beyond his Hobbit hole.  I didn't get that from this movie at all.

So, rather than making two great movies about the Hobbit, Peter Jackson has decided to make three mediocre movies, leaving the heart of the book in the screen writer's wastebasket.  (I suppose three movies makes more money than two...)  Omitting "The Cleansing of the Shire" from Return of the King was bad enough, but omitting the basic story from the Hobbit is worse.  Didn't they learn their lesson from the Narnia movies, especially Dawn Treader?  When you radically alter the premise, you lose the heart of the book, and so with it, its loyal fans.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Jeff's Pinewood Derby Speed Tips



1.  First and most important, this is the boys' race!  Help them understand what works and why, but let them get their hands dirty and make mistakes.  That's how we learn.  Tigers can sand and paint.  Wolves can start using coping saws.  Bears can learn to use a drill press with supervision.  Webelos can start learning laser guided CNC milling machines...  There is an anything goes race for parents who just have to build a car, and kids that want to bend (or break) the rules.

2.  The car's weight is the engine.  5 ounces is the max, so use it.  Why would you run a 4 cylinder car at 2.5 oz. against V-8s at 5 oz?  The higher the weight is on the track at start and the more weight you have, the greater the potential energy.  Be careful, though - if the car is too tail heavy, you'll have stability issues causing braking.  The center of gravity (balance point) of the car should be about 1" in front of the back axle.  Remove as much wood up front as possible so you can add more weight in back where it counts.  Dense materials make the best, most compact weights.  Remember that lead isn't good for kids, so you handle that part of it.  Some people opt for Tungsten, but it's really expensive and you don't gain that much.  Also, tungsten putty and tungsten powder are actually less dense than lead.

3.  Friction makes up the brakes.  Think of everywhere the wheels rub.  Against the axles, against the side of the car, against the side of the track rail.  Polish the tires (but don't modify them - that's illegal).  Take a needle file and get rid of any burrs on the axle.  Polish the axle with increasing grades of wet/dry sandpaper.  Use a good dry lube (liquid is illegal!)  Hobby lube is good and widely available.  Remember that all four wheels must touch the track!  Three-wheeling, though a good speed trick, is illegal!

4.  Stability makes a fast car.  Weebles wobble, but they lose races.  Get those axles absolutely square in the axle slots.  If you have bad slots, flip the block over and cut them in square with a doubled up hacksaw blade.  However, the slots must be the original distance apart (4 3/8").  Long wheel bases are illegal in Pinewood Derby (but really help for those of you who do AWANA Grand Prix).  Before you glue the axles, make sure the car rolls straight on a level, smooth surface (e.g. kitchen table).  Turning axles in the slots a little at a time can help align the wheels and get the car tracking straight.

5. Sleek and smooth (aerodynamics) has less to do with it than you think, but a well designed car following the tips above will end up pretty sleek.  I tell my kids to focus on either making it cool (competing for design and creativity), or making it fast.  The Oscar-Meyer Weiner Mobile, even though cool, doesn't make for a fast design, even though applying some of the other tips here can still make it faster.

A fast car is built from a dozen little speed enhancements, each giving just a little more edge.

Surf the Internet (there are links in another post from 2010), do research, do math, conduct advanced particle physics experiments, but remember, it's your son's car.  If he does his best and has a sense of accomplishment when we're done, everyone wins.

Does anyone have a 3 1/2 oz. sphere of spent Uranium-235 laying around that I can have for my engine?

Monday, November 5, 2012

For the Undecided

For those who are undecided, who need a little nudge in the right direction, or even for those who somehow believe that Obama has been good for our nation:
From Townhall.com

Election Prediction


Popular Vote:  Romney wins by at least 2%, despite massive voter fraud and intimidation by the Democrats.*

Electoral College:  Romney receives 300+ electoral college votes.

Senate:  Republicans have 50 seats, with VP Ryan as the tie-breaking vote.

The real questions then will be how conservative Congress will actually be, whether they can hold moderate Romney's feet to the fire, and whether they repeal Obamacare as promised, or whether Romney decides to play nice (and foolish) and "replace" Obamacare by simply modifying it.  I'm praying for a one page bill introduced on day one that simply says, "the Affordable Care Act is hereby repealed."

In any case, I only expect that the Republicans in the next two years will put economic band-aids on the arterial bleed that is deficit spending, slowing the inevitable, but not  ultimately avoiding it.

Pray for our nation!  Pray for Romney to turn from Mormonism to faith in the real, Biblical Jesus.  Pray that Obama doesn't do too much more damage on his way out.  Pray!

------------------------
*  Yes, some Republicans also engage in voter fraud, but with the Democrats it's endemic and blatant in urban areas.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Obamanation


Click on the picture to go to McNaughton's for the interactive version.  There are over 60 links to news articles with facts about Obama's record as president.  The YouTube video, below, describes the artwork and the link.


Obama is beyond a failure as a president.  He has not earned re-election.  Vote Ryan-Romney.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Waldo Canyon Fire

I was able to see the fire tonight from our neighborhood park.  As you look at these pictures, please pray for the 32,000 people evacuated, for the safety of the firefighters and volunteers, wisdom for our leaders, and for God to intervene in this situation.

Click on the pictures for a full-size view.

This is looking W-NW to the Rockrimmon area, about 7-8 miles away.  The first shot is a wide angle, probably covering from Garden of the Gods Road on the left to the AF Academy on the right. 

I saw a bright white flash on the south end of the fire when I first got to the ridge, and a couple smaller orange flashes a little later.


The second picture is a zoom of the area center left of the first picture.  Each of the bright spots is a house fully involved.

One of our neighbors is housing a family of evacuees from his church.  We have friends who have already been evacuated, and others in areas on the west side getting ready just in case.

This is a humbling reminder for your family to be prepared - not for a zombie apocalypse, but for likely natural disasters, storms, and other possibilities.  It can happen to you.

I took this video through my spotting scope at 40x magnification.

video
Please pray.