There are two stories that hit the wire last week, and each need to be discussed with an eye toward pragmatic analysis rather than hyperbole.
The first is the story of the firearms instructor who had been killed on the range by a 9-year-old girl with an Uzi submachine gun. We’re going to ignore media bias for the purposes of this discussion: how the story has been reported, and why certain words were used to describe the incident.
The bottom line is that the range instructor was negligent. He killed himself, ruined that young girl’s life, and caused irreparable damage to both his family and the girl’s. What he was thinking is something we’ll never know, though I’m reasonably sure it was a variant of, “We’ve never had a problem before.”
One thing serious shooters understand early on is that there are no such things as accidental shootings. Any time a bullet leaves the barrel in a direction it wasn’t meant to go, it means that the shooter (or in this case, the instructor) was negligent. He ignored one or more of the four basic rules of firearms handling. They are:
- All guns are always loaded.
- Never point the weapon at anything you don’t intend to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
- Always be aware of your target and what’s around and behind it.
A lean bread is one that has very little fat or sugar in it, if any. Most sandwich breads aren’t lean breads: they’re enriched, so they contain things like sugar, butter, oil, flavorings, and other such things. They’re great, but I wanted to make the lean bread recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day.
The recipe is very simple: water, flour, yeast, and salt. You mix until everything’s combined, and instead of kneading it traditionally, you do the stretch-and-fold method four times, going in ten minute intervals. It’s amazing how just one stretch-and-fold can take a rough, coarse, wet mess and turn it into a glossy, springy dough.
|Shaping the dough|
To develop flavor in the wheat, this dough requires an overnight rise in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to bake, you take it out, shape it, and let it rise at room temperature for at least two hours.
Typical hearth baking is next: a pan of hot water at the bottom of the oven to create steam, and bake at high heat.
|The finished loaves. We both need to work on shaping and scoring|
Overall, a fun project, and one that produces tasty bread. I achieved a few larger holes in the crumb, but the important thing is that my little boy and I did this thing together. We’ll see if he picks up the bread bug.
A couple of weeks ago, I created a Twitter account and joined the Twitterverse. Through observation and a few online articles, I’ve been navigating it as well as can be expected. I’m tweeting, retweeting, following, and favoriting.
Like any social medium, it can be a time sink, and you get out of it what you put into it. It’s difficult to be clever, current, and relentlessly positive in 140 characters or less. I admire everyone who does it well. It’s a skill that requires practice. I have opinions and thoughts like everybody else, but I don’t want to alienate virtual strangers with unwanted political discourse or bitching.
My ultimate intent is to meet new people, learn from them, and discuss things of mutual interest. And, of course, interest them in my own writing so they want to read my books.
One of the things many Twitter experts say is that you shouldn’t constantly spam Twitter with links to your book. This makes perfect sense: if my only experience of you is you stuffing a book in my face, saying, “LIKE HORROR? READ THIS IT WILL SCARE THE DICK RIGHT OUT OF YOUR PANTS” over and over again, I will get the impression that you’re not interested in anything else, and will just mute you from the timeline. However, there’s not a lot of air between constantly spamming links to your book and constantly spamming links to your writing blog, especially when the articles you’re linking to are a few years old. It’s still spamming.
Many authors on Twitter do this. I don’t understand it. Why follow someone if all they do is try to sell you something, especially if it’s a book you’ve already read?
One of the most off-putting things I’ve experienced is getting direct messages from people I’ve just followed, asking me to buy their books or like their Facebook pages. So it’s not enough that your typical public communication is “BUY MY BOOK”, but you also sidle up to everyone you meet and say, “Buy my book.” Don’t…don’t do that.
Typically, I reserve Friday posts for my hobby, which is baking bread. I’m brooming that this week because this is the last month Louis Awerbuck’s column will be running in SWAT Magazine. Louis died on June 24, 2014.
His friend Robbie Barrkman wrote a moving tribute to him that you can read here.
If you’ve never heard of him, it wouldn’t be a surprise, and Louis himself wouldn’t have cared one way or the other. He didn’t seek the spotlight. To call him a firearms and tactics instructor would be technically correct, but they’re labels, and labels are necessarily limiting. For the straight biography, visit his website.
I worked with Louis (pronounced “Louie”) on two instructional video projects in the early 2000’s: Only Hits Count, a combat shooting video, and Safe at Home, a home defense video. The leather-jacketed villain holding the hammer on the cover of Safe at Home is me (with hair).
Simply put, Louis was a man of respect. A brilliant tactician with real world experience that he never boasted about: it just informed what he taught and how he taught it. Self-effacing almost to a fault, and had an incredibly dry, clever sense of humor. His delivery was deadpan in a way you’ve never heard before. Sere. Arid. I can’t claim him as a friend, but I really quite liked and admired him. During my time in publishing, I’d worked with many, many combat shooting experts. Some good, some great, some mediocre.
Louis was in a class by himself. I wish I’d known him better. It would have made me better.
Requiescat in pace, Louis.