New toy…

Picked up a new toy recently… a gas blowback airsoft Beretta M9A1 (pictured top). It compares very well up against a real Beretta Model 96 in .40 caliber in terms of realistic weight, size, and function. I was able to interchange the Hogue wrap-around grips from the Model 96 to the M9A1. It was a perfect fit. The only real difference in appearance between the two weapons, aside from the color, is the safety orange barrel tip and the accessory rail on the underside of the M9A1.

 

A side by side comparison of a Model 96 and a M9A1 magazine.

 

 

The single shot fire mode is pictured below. Pushing the mode select all the way down, renders the airsoft firearm safe. Interestingly, if you place the mode select partially between the single shot and the safety position, there is a discernible ‘click’, which in reality… is the full auto mode. 

 

The magazine has a stackable 26 round capacity, holding 6mm BBs. The BBs can range in weight from 12 grams up to 28 grams. The lighter weight BBs shoot much faster but lack the ‘punch’ a heavier round would deliver. The lighter rounds also tend to decelerate more quickly and swirl while in flight, making for less accurate shots. 

This M9A1 was manufactured by WE and uses ‘green gas’ as its power source. Green gas is nothing more than propane gas mixed with a little silicone lubricant and lightly scented to mask the propane odor. Green gas costs about $11 – $14 dollars per 8 oz can. Green gas powered airsoft weapons are expensive to operate, and not easy to use. They require recharging constantly. That’s especially true if you’re using the weapons on full auto.

I experimented using CO2 cartridges in place of the typical green gas with some success. The cost for CO2 cartridges is more affordable than green gas but they still require constant recharging. The only upside to using CO2 is that the cost is more affordable. The downside in using CO2 is that the pressure placed upon the air reservoir built within the magazine is not controllable. That can lead to the magazine rupturing its seals and damaging your weapon.

The solution? Use the same type of air cylinders that paintballers use. The one I purchased has a 3,000psi rating and can… utilizing a quick-disconnect fitting that replaces the normal green gas charging port… be attached to the magazine reservoir. The pressure is dialed down to approximately 150psi from the tank, through the regulator, so as to not rupture the magazine.

The rig below can be purchased from either your local paintball or airsoft store. The tank runs about $65 and the regulator gage assembly, with hose, is about $85. 

 

You’ll still need to build an air linkage from the quick-disconnect hose assembly to your weapon’s magazine or charging port. Mine is pictured below with the green gas port changed out to a quick-disconnect fitting…

 

One advantage you gain by converting the green gas system to an air tank system is that you can switch your weapons out from sidearms, to assault weapons, to sniper rifles, simply and more efficiently than relying on green gas based systems. You’re able to carry less equipment because you’re not having to haul around a lot of 8 oz green gas cans, or handfuls of CO2 cartridges. This frees up valuable space in your tactical pack for ammo, medical kits, etc. And in the long run, it’ll save you a ton of money.

 

Here’s my M9A1 in action using the paintball air tank… Full auto Beretta M9A1 airsoft pistol  

Man club tips!

 

I was chatting recently with a friend of mine. He’s a single guy and was lamenting about how difficult it was to find available women. After making a few sarcastic jabs at him… because that’s what close friends do… I gave him a few pointers. Now keep in mind, guys being guys, we tend to be more caveman-like when we are talking amongst ourselves and full knuckle dragging usually ensues!

Here are a few ‘pearls of wisdom’ I bestowed upon him…

Bar name

If you’re just playing the field and not interested in an ongoing relationship, you may want to consider using a bar name. A bar name is nothing more than made up name that you go by when doing the bar scene. If someone tries to track you down using the internet, etc., you won’t be found. If you want to be a true player, you have to up your game with fictitious business cards containing your bar name and some sort of believable business title, a burner cell phone number, and an email address (used only for dating purposes). Keep it simple.

Booger-Bear

A Booger-Bear is someone that hangs on you in a bar that you’re really not interested in pursuing romantically. You don’t want to be blunt and hurt this person’s feelings, but at the same time, don’t want to continue talking to them. What to do? Well, you walk the person over to a group of other people you casually know and introduce her to them. As they’re exchanging pleasantries, you step away quickly and ditch her. This is in effect, wiping her off on someone else… hence the term Booger-Bear.

Produce aisle

So, where should you look for women? Most men do not like to shop. Consequently, women are typically the ones that dominate the male-to-female ratios in most shopping environments… with a few notable exceptions. The produce aisle is a prime location to find women. ‘Why?’, you ask. Well, think about it… if they’re in the fresh produce aisle 1) they’re probably a good cook, 2) are into a healthier lifestyle, 3) depending upon the time of day, are single, a stay-at-home mom, or retired. Pick the one that suits your needs.

How does one approach a female in the produce aisle? Here’s the cave-man answer… ask for her opinion about produce selection. Women like having their opinions valued. When a man timidly smiles and asks her opinion, it places the woman in a position of dominance. She has the upper hand in this situation. Depending upon how she responds to you (if she smiles, turns red, plays with her hair, etc.), you’ll know if she’s receptive to you. It’s now up to you to go forward, soldier! Just don’t overplay your hand.

Ice cream aisle

Much like the produce aisle, we have the ice cream aisle. The difference here is that this is the aisle you want to leave alone. The women here are divided into two primary groups. One group is just there to grab ice cream and be on their way. The second group is looking to fill an inner void. Let’s examine this exotic creature in her habitat.

First group

Lady is passing through the aisle and very briefly looks at the ice cream before tossing a container or two into her shopping cart and is merrily on her way, quick and efficient! Clearly she has no time to waste on deciding what flavor she wants. Most likely, she’s grabbing either chocolate or vanilla ice cream, no frills or thrills here.

Second group

This lady may be nicely dressed but usually looks like she just crawled out of bed. Perhaps she’s still wearing sweat pants and not wearing make-up. She spends a fair amount of time looking at all the varieties… contemplating which flavor would best fill her particular sorrow. Sure, she may still look kind of attractive at this point, but in a few short months…! Jenny Craig will come to know her on a first name basis. Give her time. Let her work through her demons. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, you’ll see her soon in the produce aisle.

Now, I do want to be fair. A lot of this can also apply to men. Women look for men in hardware stores, and sometimes in auto parts stores. Logic would dictate that men found in these locations, know how to fix things. What woman doesn’t like a man who can do chores around the house?

 

 

 

 

A Golden Opportunity?

Background information:

Iran seeks to create a regional hegemony in the Middle East, and is traced back to the Iranian Revolution of 1979. They’re being opposed by Saudi Arabia. Their campaign for influence is known as The Middle East Cold War. This cold war is waged on multiple levels… geopolitical, economic, and sectarian influence. The United States backs Saudi Arabia and the Saudi’s allies, while Russia and China supports Iran and its allies. The problem that occurs in a regional hegemony is that it tends to limit the development of peer competitors in that region.

The current rash of conflicts between the two, started with the Arab Spring of 2011. Iran and Saudi Arabia have faced off in several regional conflicts to include the Bahraini uprising (2011-2014), the Syrian Civil War (2011 – today), and the Yemeni Civil War (2015 – today).

The Iran-Israel Cold War gradually emerged from the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution (1979). Iran has declared that Iran’s ultimate aim is the dissolution of the state of Israel. Iran has been involved in conflicts pitting Syria, Lebanon, and the terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah, against Israel.

Iranian aggressions since 2019:

12 May –  four commercial oil tankers were damaged in the Gulf of Oman.

17 June – the United States deployed another 1,000 troops to the Middle East after another two ships were attacked in the Gulf of Oman.

20 June – Iran shoots down U.S. drone (RQ-4 Global Hawk).

18 July – An Iranian drone closed to within 1,000 yards of the U.S.S. Boxer, who then electronically jammed the drone, causing it to crash.

27 December – rocket attack on the K1 Air Base (Kaywan) in Iraq. One American contractor killed, and several American and Iraqi military injured.

31 December – Iranian backed military groups storm U.S. embassy in Iraq.

7 January 2020 – Iran launches 15 missiles into Iraq at U.S. military targets, in retaliation to Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s killing.

Side notes:

It is worth noting that in a meeting with Netanyahu (June 2016), Vladimir Putin described Israel and Russia as “unconditional allies” in “efforts to counter international terrorism”

In July of 2018, President Trump and Vladimir Putin agreed to cooperate in ensuring Israel’s security.

Summary:

With the recent demise of Iranian Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and the very limited and ultimately ineffective retaliatory strikes back from Iran, President Trump has the opportunity to finally do what no previous president has done… put a stop to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Iran recently declared that they will no longer abide by the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran nuclear deal framework).

With the recent escalation in tensions between the United States and Iran, Trump has more than sufficient reasons to make a preemptive strike at Iran’s nuclear ambitions. And it seems that Putin has little interest in standing in the way should Trump attack Iran. I guess we shall see how this ultimately plays out in the coming months.

 

“Skipper” Al and Wreaths Across America

In each of our lives, we occasionally meet truly great people. This year, San Diego Mensa will be honoring United States Navy Commander Corwin Allan ‘Skipper Al’ Bell (July 15, 1941 – Aug 27, 2017) at the wreath laying ceremony. Skipper Al was an amazing man and a true gentleman. The touching story of his rescuing 47 Vietnamese boat people in the South China Sea can be found by following this link (https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-boat-people-give-thanks-to-navy-commander-2012nov21-story.html).

https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org

December 14, 2019

Each December on National Wreaths Across America Day, our mission to Remember, Honor and Teach is carried out by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 1,600 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad.

Join us by sponsoring a veterans’ wreath at a cemetery near you, volunteering or donating to a local fundraising group.

Plant warfare

Plants actively engage in the environments in which they live. They can communicate with other plants and animal neighbors. They respond to threats around them by changing their defensive chemistry, and alert plant neighbors to predation.

The wild desert tobacco plant, like all plants, have more genomes dedicated to environmental perception and response than animals. The plant has to adapt it’s physiology to what is going on around them. Being able to respond quickly is essential. As the tobacco plant is attacked by insects, it ramps up production of the chemical called nicotine. Nicotine is a natural pesticide against most insects, but has no effect upon the Hornworm caterpillar. In this case, the desert tobacco plant releases a chemical signal to other nearby plants. This signal warns of the ongoing attack upon itself and predators of the Hornworm caterpillar are summoned to fight off the attack.

So, how does the desert tobacco plant know what bug or insect is attacking it and what predators of the pest to call in? That answer is found in the saliva of the attacking pest. The tobacco plant can identify the pest thought the chemical compounds found in that pest’s saliva, thereby knowing what predators to call in to stem the pest’s attack. If a caterpillar eats the sticky sweetness from the plants trichomes (small hairs on plant stems), it will develop a smelly type odor, which in turn, will alert predators to the existence of the caterpillar.

The downside to the desert tobacco plant in ridding itself of the caterpillar, is that the caterpillar… once transformed into the nocturnal Hawk moth, is also its best pollinator. How does the desert tobacco plant solve this problem? It simply switches out pollinators. It does this by changing the shape of its flower, which typically opened at night, from an open shape to one that is more in the shape of a funnel. The funnel shaped flower would open in the dawn hours and produce a sweeter nectar, thus attracting hummingbirds instead of Hawk moths. This switch in pollinators can be accomplished in less than eight days.

The desert tobacco plant under attack from caterpillars, will emit a chemical odor to alert its nearby neighbors. The other desert tobacco plants in the immediate area would then ramp up their defenses. We see this behavior with other plant life too. Take, for instance, the acacia tree in Africa.

The acacia will emit ethylene to signal their neighbors to herbivore predation. The nearby acacia trees then ramp up production of tannin levels that can be lethal to herbivores feeding upon them. Interestingly enough, giraffes get around the toxicity of the acacia leaves by only eating a few leaves from the trees and then moving upwind to other acacia trees not receiving the ethylene signals from the previously foraged trees.

 

 

Something… out of nothing?

How can something be created from nothingness? How is that a possibility? Furthermore, how can it be proven?

If we were to place a box under vacuum, theoretically, we would have a box of nothingness. But is it really empty? The answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Enter quantum fluctuation. A particle can be created in a vacuum, and disappear, provided that it happens very quickly.

In quantum physics, a quantum fluctuation is the temporary change in the amount of energy in a point in space, also known as the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. The uncertainty principle states that for a pair of conjugate variables such as position/momentum or energy/time, it is impossible to have a precisely determined value of each member of the pair at the same time.

Quantum physics and Special Theory of Relativity were further explained via Dirac’s famous equation.

Dirac equation(original)

This equation describes particles and anti-particles. These particles are created in pairs, which can borrow energy from a vacuum before reuniting and cancelling each other out, thus returning the borrowed energy. These ‘virtual particles’ can appear and disappear trillions of times in a blink of an eye. One proof that this does happen, is by observing electrons of an atom in a vacuum. The electrons want to move on a flat plane around an atom. If the electrons bobble in their orbit around an atom, it is because of particles and anti-particles, interfering and affecting the electrons’ orbits.

Now, this all begs the question, ‘Why does any of this matter?’ Well, we know that the universe is expanding at an accelerated rate, but what is the driving force? One theory suggested that dark energy was the reason. A new theory puts forth the idea that, with the creation and destruction of these virtual particles, the universe oscillates between expansion and contraction. During these oscillations, the net effect is that the universe expands very slowly, but at an ever accelerating rate.

San Diego Mensa Lo-Sec address for July 2019

The new San Diego Mensa board has been seated. Our previous Lo-Sec/president, Alton Hitchcock Jr., has now become the RVC for Region 9, replacing Michael Wong. I’m excited to serve as your new Lo-Sec. 

I’d like to take a moment and thank Alton Hitchcock, Jr. for his years of service to the San Diego Mensa board. He’s a stand up guy. It has been a pleasure serving with him. I’m thankful for his friendship, and his leadership will be missed. I’m sorry to see him leave but I wish him well in his future endeavors. 

Moving forward…

During the upcoming year, I’ll be busy implementing a few ideas for recruiting new members to our fold. I believe the future of San Diego Mensa is directly tied to growing our membership base. Alton once made the comment that membership, in any organization, is like a leaky bucket. The leak is constant. If the bucket isn’t filled more quickly than the leak, the bucket will eventually run dry.

One idea for building up our membership, is the addition of more activities on our monthly calendar in conjunction with finding new ways to raise monies to fund our scholarship program. Who says we can’t have fun and raise funds at the same time? I want to encourage everyone to email the board with suggestions of activities you’d like to have included. Your input is important.

I’d like to close by saying, ‘Thank you!’ to each member of San Diego Mensa. Thank you for becoming a part of my extended family… and thank you for your friendship. 

-Patrick Yepes

 

 

 

 

 

 

2019 San Diego uRGe

The 2019 San Diego uRGe is in the bag!

We had a highly successful Regional Gathering this year! Our theme for the event was “Playing With A Full Deck?” Cards were printed with a picture of our beloved Richard Lederer on the reverse, dressed as a joker. It was a fitting tribute for such a wonderful Mensan!

After the 2019 scholarship recipients were awarded at the Regional Gathering by the San Diego Scholarship Chair Jennifer Morris, it was formally announced that Richard Lederer would have a scholarship named in his honor. We are very grateful to Richard Lederer for his many years of financial support to our local scholarship program. Thank you, Richard!

The Regional Gathering was made possible by volunteers. Without them, the event would not have gone as smoothly. I hate to name each specifically, mainly because I don’t want to miss anyone, but know that I am truly grateful to each of you and you have my utmost appreciation.

Here are a few comments about the RG…

“It was the best RG I’ve attended. The programs were great and more numerous than usual. The committee did a great job, especially considering that things got off to a slow start.”
-N H
“The level of support and excitement surrounding the scholarship fund was incredible! I am grateful to those that shared ideas for boosting the fund with new events and events they saw success with in other areas of the country. I am looking forward to bringing them to life in our San Diego group. The programs, hospitality, and evening events were top notch, and I felt we had a little something for everyone! I am so excited about our new space and hope we can keep it for the next few years.”
-J M
“The speaker programs at the RG ranged from juggling lessons to life in the red-light district of Tijuana.  We had presentations on deep learning in colorizing and restoring old photographs, writing a television series, the Crusaders, Isaac Asimov, animal adaptation through sexual selection, Las Vegas, the human-animal bond, a Mai Tai tournament,  the U.S.S. Midway, life strategies, the Daedalus aircraft, and many, many more topics of interest to the curious minds of Mensans. On Sunday, an Improv group not only entertained us, but also offered an instructional workshop in the art.”
-S v E
Again, thank you and I hope to see you again next year!
-Patrick Yepes

 

Non-thinkers…

Have we become a society of non-thinkers? Or, collectively, have we always been shallow in our thinking and reasoning processes? With the advent of social media, has this phenomenon just been more evident?

I dare say, we’ve all seen a sensational, attention grabbing headline online, or in the news. But upon reading the news article, we discover that the story behind the headlines, sometimes has little to do with the original impression the headline had given. The headline was nothing more than a ‘hook’, to get the audience to read the article. The problem in that, is a substantial portion of the general public, won’t bother to read the article. But, they will regurgitate the misleading headline as if it were gospel. Maybe they do this because it somehow fits into their political agendas? Into their limited world views? In other words, it fits into their confirmation bias.

One would think, with the world wide web at our disposal, people would take the time to at least do a Google search and gather additional information about a subject matter. Sadly, that usually isn’t the case. 

 

 

Managing chaos… the role of Human Resources

This is just my opinion, so you should probably take it with a grain of salt.

There’s a reason why some Human Resources (HR) departments are so large and premium salaries are paid to staff them… it’s cheaper than fighting lawsuits. HR is a component of a company’s legal strategy. HR departments are basically used in a manner to help offset the human cost of conducting business by managing fallout when conflicts occur and problems arise. HR departments generally want to be seen as employee advocates.

Human Resources acts similarly to an internal business political engine, used to placate employees. They don’t so much ‘solve’ conflicts or grievances as they water down the underlying causes of conflicts. Their ultimate responsibility is to protect the company, to insulate the company as much as possible from the employees. HR’s second tier of responsibility is to protect management. Lastly, and if it’s practical, comes the common employee. That’s the hierarchy. Now, there are times when this hierarchy isn’t strictly followed… like in cases of sexual harassment between the aforementioned tiers of responsibility. The common employee has an advantage over management. A lot of times, if the company can reasonably ascertain that sexual harassment has been committed, the offending management is fired and the common employee becomes ‘untouchable’ for a period of time… in hopes that the victim party does not seek monetary compensation, and the ugly incident hopefully blows over.

In larger, good paying companies, the attrition rates of employees are low. People tend to stay in their job category/position much longer and become sedentary in their jobs. This creates clusters of employees who develop a long work history with fellow employees. Petty grievances can percolate over years in these clusters. What has inadvertently been created, is a larger organism (clique) that is harder for Human Resources and management to control. These cliques know ‘where the dead bodies are buried’, so to speak. They then become problematic for HR to deal with on an individual level and group dynamics have to be taken into account.

I realize this post sounds like I’m very negative on the role of Human Resources, and that is somewhat a true assertion, but I do think the role of Human Resource departments… when applied appropriately, are an asset to both the company and to the employees. A few ideas that I think would minimize some of the most common conflicts that arise from employees and management are:

  1. Rotate employees out of their departments and switch their work assignments regularly. This should help prevent work cliques from forming. This has the added benefit of cross-training employees, allowing them to develop new skills and becoming more valuable to the company.
  2. Send out periodic employee assessment questionnaires, asking them to grade performance of their supervisors and managers. Typically, ‘performance reviews’ run down the chain-of-command… rarely do they go up the chain. Employees feel they have little input in the workplace. Assessment questionnaires could help change that well earned perception.