was a gloomy fall day all around. The grey and drizzle outside had persisted at
least since you’d woke well before dawn that morning and trudged to your bus
stop and into work. Even in your waterproof hooded jacket, the humidity clung
to your skin and filled your lungs like a smooth heavy smoke.
you unlocked the door and shrugged out of your dripping coat, you rubbed your
hands together and got to the first order of business: making yourself some
coffee. With the lights to the shop still dim and the world outside not quite
waking, you started up the massive ovens and pulled out the racks of small
pastries the night shift had prepared before closing yesterday. The morning
continued as always, you buzzed through the small shop, swapping fresh baked
pastries from the oven to the display case, sometimes adding a drizzle of
sweet, sticky icing, sometimes a bit of orange zest, sometimes a thick, warm
chocolate sauce that would firm up just enough to stick as it cooled.
Fort Lauderdale is famed for its retro chic vibe and laid-back beach living, but many miss a trick by only exploring its best-known attractions. Greater Fort Lauderdale, nicknamed the Venice of America is home to 300 miles of inland waterways, plus 23 miles of Blue Wave certified beaches. Get the inside track with our 48-hour guide…
With four flights a week between London Gatwick and Fort Lauderdale, whatever time you touch down, you’ll find something to do in the city. Drop your bags off at the sumptuous Diplomat Resort and Spa in the cool Hollywood Beach neighbourhood. If you fancy a quick sand fix, pop on your flip flops and head to pretty Dania Beach which is just 15 minutes’ drive from the airport. Afterwards head to Jimbo’s Sand Bar island-style tiki bar overlooking the intracoastal for their signature “redneck cuisine” and fresh seafood.
09.00 – Market vibes
Vintage cars on display, antiques and curio piled high, ripe for the haggling-on; the Florida Swap Shop sprawls over 88 acres and offers an indoor/outdoor mix of farmers’ and flea markets, bargain booths and traditional fairground attractions. Funky food trucks offer an assortment of cuisine spanning Thai to Puerto Rican, and the doors stay open until 5pm daily.
11.30 – Shore thing
Photo by webtop1 on Pixabay
While Hollywood beach is the Fort Lauderdale you see in the movies (such as Marley & Me) if less of a party beach appeals head for quiet, scenic Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson state park beach, one of Greater Fort Lauderdale’s hidden secrets. Take the nature trail and look for adorable manatees in the canals. Snorkellers can explore shallow, vibrant coral reefs just offshore, or go hunting for an underwater geo-cache.
14.00 – Step back in time
See a slice of Old Florida at the 35-acre Bonnet House Museum and Gardens. The estate gives a fascinating glimpse of the Florida of the roaring twenties, when rich Chicagoans and New Yorkers first realised they could escape the brutal winter nor’easter winds and started a gold rush to south Florida. This eclectically-furnished Mediterranean revival house was the home of artist and art collector Frederic Clay Bartlett whose works, and that of his artist wife Evelyn Fortune Bartlett, are on display among pieces by Gauguin and Picasso.
17.00 – Arty Downtown
Photo by davyart on Pixabay
Banksy eat your heart out. As part of a revitalization project, Downtown Fort Lauderdale now boasts more than 20 curated murals from a wealth of artists including The London Police, Evoca1 and Logan Hicks, whose piece is a mind-blowing work of photo realism. On the third Saturday of each month, the Mural Project also offers free ArtWalk tours beginning at 18.00.
20.00 – Feast on this
Broward County is home to over 3,000 eateries meaning you’ll never go hungry. For fine waterfront dining, try Sardelli Italian Steakhouse set in a beautiful Italian country house-style building. Don’t miss the butternut squash mezzaluna pasta with sage, brown butter, and amaretti crumble. For a more casual bite grab hamburgers and a slice of Key Lime Pie at Le Tub Saloon – Oprah Winfrey is a fan.
08.00 – See you later Alligator
Photo by patrick_worldwide on Pixabay
Florida wildlife abounds in the swampy Everglades, where native alligators mingle with escaped pet pythons. Just a 45-minute drive inland, Everglades Swamp Tours offers tours in airboats that float over the shallow reeds and picturesque marshland. The more adventurous can also explore by kayak.
14.00 – Retail therapy
Sawgrass Mills shopping centre, North America’s largest outlet mall, is packed to the rafters with chic. It’s the place to pick up designer shoes and handbags at a snip, with discount prices at the likes of Nordstrom and Bloomingdales. Head to the outside Oasis area for Cuban-inspired refreshments at mojitobar once you’re shopped out.
18.30 – All aboard
Photo by MemoryCatcher on Pixabay
An all-day pass on Fort Lauderdale’s water taxi system costs $26, but if you purchase a “moonlight madness” pass after 17.00, it’s just $16. Hop on and off along trendy Las Olas Boulevard and browse clothes, contemporary art and one-off pieces of jewellery, with prices geared to the owners of the smart canal-front mansions nearby.
Hanging in my office, is a clone of the rifle I carried on two combat tours(Iraq and Liberia). It’s a reminder of where I came from, where I stand today, where I am going and why I am going there.
While serving in 2nd Force Reconnaissance in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, my unit started seeing radical advances in small arms and light weaponry via the SOPMOD program. Suddenly, carbines could quickly be fine tuned for specific missions by mounting night vision systems, laser aiming devices, weapon lights and red dot optics to the 1913 Picatinny Rail Systems on the upper receiver and handguard.
These technologies opened up whole new tactics, techniques and procedures that could be employed to prosecute our mission of specialized reconnaissance, ambush and direct action raids.
Despite the additional capabilities the SOPMOD program delivered, opinions were sharply divided on the program. Some saw these tools as a burden, adding a lot of “crap” that would only increase the amount of weight our Marines carried on mission for little tangible benefit. A maxed out M4 could run up to 14 pounds, but we didn’t need every component for every mission.
TWO POUNDS OF METAL
The SOPMOD accessory package that my platoon ended up running included almost two pounds of weight in mounting interfaces alone. When I challenged this, I got a typical Marine Corps answer, “Because that’s what you are issued, now quit asking irrelevant questions Too Speed.” (Too Speed was my call sign)
I couldn’t accept that answer. It was an institutional answer that repeated a party line and the lives of my teammates were, and will always be, more important than not rocking the boat.
After some trial and error, the first mod I made was to ditch the Surefire M951 Weapon Light and replace it with a Surefire 6P in a shotgun tube light mount that I scored at a sporting goods shop near base. After swapping the 6P tail cap for the M951 remote switch assembly, I then ran the tape switch on the left side of the 203 so activating the light wouldn’t impact my weapons manipulation.
Getting a weapon light in tight with a rail and shaving weight off the interface was something I would spend the next 10 years fiddling with before I had a eureka moment and Haley Strategic Partners released the Thorntail Adaptive Series of light mounts, currently in use by military, security contractors and law enforcement worldwide.
This time was a defining moment for me, as it was when I first started tweaking and eventually building original components for my platoon based on the unique requirements of our missions. These experiences of shaving weight, improving ergonomics and finding a balance between capability and utility, would drive the development of so many of the components I have commercialized in my post-service career.
THE RIFLE I TOOK TO WAR
Colt M4 with 14.5” Barrel Colt M203 40 mm Grenade Launcher Knights Armament RAS Handguard PEQ-2 IR Aiming Laser Surefire Classic 6P with a custom “Simply Dynamic” mount Boone & Packer Redi-Mag Simply Dynamic Multi-Mission Sling (commercialized by Magpul as the MS3)
Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Force was trained up for both Green Side(reconnaissance) and Black Side(direct action) missions, with the assumption we would be tasked to one or the other. However, when we entered Iraq, our platoon found ourselves doing a combination of both at the same time. Force Recon is a special operations unit that prepares the battlespace and gathers intelligence for the MAGTF(Marine Air Ground Task Force) and then prosecutes specialized targets as directed.
With a few days under our belts, the entire platoon started striping gear and mags, looking for that perfect balance of speed, utility and capability. If you can’t move, you can’t be effective. Most of the Marines went from 13 rifle magazines to between five or six. I ended up with four on my vest and two taped together on my carbine with riggers tape and offset with a stick.
Force Recon ran low signature loads outs, often working out of vehicles(mil and civilian), and running a double mag on the carbine meant I had 60 rounds at the ready. When I saw the “Redi-Mag” in a copy of Shotgun News, I ordered it and had it delivered to me overseas. Despite the weight, the Redi-Mag was more versatile than the old riggers tape and stick, and cut my carbine reloads to sub one second.
I no longer run a Redi-Mag because there are so many excellent belt mounted magazine pouches available today, that I can reload at almost the exact speed as from a Redi-Mag. That said, you will sometimes find them on my house and car guns, as I do not expect to be kitting up if someone breaks into my house or I find myself engaged with an active shooter around vehicles in the streets.
The M203 is a vital component to small and agile units, like Force, who operate in small units in semi and non-permissive settings. It becomes even more essential in worst case scenarios where the mission is compromised or the unit is outright ambushed by an enemy force.
We prepared for scenarios where 203s could be employed for a hasty breach, in instances where a short count/stack was not possible. Also, as a posturing tool to achieve immediate fire superiority in the face of an ambush. Finally, we practiced employing them to suppress fortified enemy positions in buildings by putting accurate fire through windows or open doors.
In fact, in the first gunfight I was involved in during OIF, I put this into practice, pumping 40mm HEDP(High Explosive Dual Purpose) rounds through windows of enemy positions 50 meters out. This fire created instant hate and discontent on target, where crew served weapons and M4s did not offer as much of an immediate positive effect. We had never trained to fire the M203 at such a close distance for safety reasons, but I held at the top of the window frame with my Aimpoint and the round went straight where I wanted it.
The MEUSOC 1911 has an almost legendary reputation among 1911 and handgun enthusiasts. One of the most high performance handguns ever built, the MEUSOC 1911 we ran was hand built by Marine Armorers from the Precision Weapons Section at MCBQ (Marine Corps Base Quantico). They fine tuned our 1911’s, hand selecting barrels, link pins, sear springs, ejectors, firing pin stops, mainspring housings and mainsprings. Slides were custom built by Springfield Armory with beavertail safeties and recoil spring guides by Ed Brown, Novak rear sights, Wilson Combat extractors + mag release buttons, and King’s Gun Works ambi thumb safeties.
Force ran the 1911 specifically in direct action raid or ambush missions. It was not a primary and would only come into play if our carbines had run dry or malfunctioned. We carried 10 round magazines with 230 Grain 45 ACP. More than enough to deal with any immediate situation and then refocus on the carbine to get it back into action.
On DRP(Deep Reconnaissance Patrol) Missions, I personally chose my Berretta M92, which was our only 9mm alternative at the time. The flatter trajectory at range of the 9mm and the larger magazine meant more bullets to deal with more problems in the event my carbine was down or permanently disabled.
When I later worked as a security contractor on Ambassador Bremmer’s detail with Blackwater, we would run Glock 17s. But in the end, the mission drives the gear. But more importantly, the mission drives the man.
THE MISSION DRIVES THE MAN
When I first started making gear, I was doing it to help keep my guys alive. When I started my first company, Simply Dynamic Tactical, I wasn’t in it to get rich. I was doing it to pass on what I learned in combat and to provide tools that would stack the deck in the favor of the men and women who were going overseas or out on our streets as warfighters, law enforcement or private citizens.
Surviving war is an awesome responsibility. For those who have been in combat, you never forget the brothers you lost. When you are one of those who made it back, you carry a weight that is difficult to put into words. I was lucky to have known such great men in my life. I was lucky to have a second family closer than any people I will ever know.
As I approach the 5th year in business with Haley Strategic Partners, we have tried to bring this industry together and to stay focused on that one mission. Enable brave men and women to complete their missions as safely as possible. Through training, through gear and through mindset.
So @pizsospa and I were tossing TLA ideas around and at some point we got talking about a situation in which Dark and Shop swap sizes somehow, and some of the other egos find a now small Dark and get a bit rough with him…
So yeah idk enjoy this little disorganized doodle comic thing around the idea I guess???
Do you think Coran will ever get to take a greater fighting role, or will he stay as support do you think? And if the later, do you think he will become more comfortable with it?
I expect we’ll see Coran stepping up to the plate kind of when the time is right? Like how Allura was sort of a back-burner combatant for most of the first season.
We’ve seen small hints of the fact that Coran is no slouch in combat- he has incredibly agile reflexes and in the food fight back in s1e2 we see him parry an attack and counterattack in the same movement. Brain-wormed Coran also seemingly, on his own, captured and transported that colossal “Meerakeet” without a hitch. And there’s the question of if he actually could’ve choked out Lance with his bare hands as he claimed he meant to in s1e1 if he hadn’t been just coming out of cyrostasis.
This is also somebody apparently completely unafraid to bargain with literal actual space pirates and various other criminals. Like- it’s a joke in s2e7 that he expects everything to be the way it was before but frankly his tactics around the swap shop owner and the infodesk girl would suggest Coran, at least ten thousand years ago, knew his way around the criminal underworld and presumably this meant dissuading people who were more interested in, say, ransoming Alfor.
So yeah, I’m pretty sure Coran’s gonna take the field. From the small glimpses we’ve gotten, I’d expect him to be more of an agile combatant, quite possibly one who specializes in hidden weapons or mid-range ones like throwing knives considering his impeccable aim during the food fight.
This is the first photo I submitted to the Magnum Swap Shop and the Printspace. If it gets selected among the finalists 200 images, it will be exhibited in @theprintspace gallery later in July and I’ll have the chance to swap it with mutual consent with any of yours that will also made to the selection.
I get so annoyed with the "lose X pounds in 30 days!" I just saw one posted on a swap shop on facebook that said 20-50 pounds in 30 days... what the actual fuck is wrong with people to think that that amount of weight loss in that amount of time is healthy???
I personally think it’s because our culture has drilled into us the idea that being fat is the most unhealthy thing one can possibly be. So losing fat, the quicker the better, is healthier than staying fat.
I’ve also sometimes heard of people trying to do this for weddings or other events where they want to be thinner with a deadline.
It’s fatphobia, plain and simple. These things, even if they do work, are unhealthy and unsustainable. Don’t do them.
‘The Voltron Show!’ and Satire- Deploying a New Technique in Voltron’s Social Commentary
Back with more meta? You bet your ass, baby.
This time around, I’m going to be closely analyzing what is probably one of the most underrated and/or hated episodes of season 4. Yes, that’s right- I’m talking about ‘The Voltron Show!’
A lot of backlash for the season stems from this episode because of its filler-like nature, and I’m not really denying that it is filler. Seems like an odd choice considering Voltron itself is very serialized, not to mention plot-driven, so what could possibly be the reason for incorporating a filler episode? Well, perhaps the writers felt the need to dedicate an episode to levity and comic relief, considering the heaviness this season [Keith leaving, Pidge’s trauma, Narti dying, and of course Keith’s near-suicide bombing that was yet to come], especially when one takes into account that seasons 3 & 4 were likely a single season, at least initially. Zarkon & Honerva’s backstory, anyone?
Aside from this, however, some topics come up in the episode that may make this particular fandom… mildly uncomfortable. I refer to the treatment of the characters, of course, specifically how Coran chooses to portray them in the Voltron performances. Shiro is prohibited from speaking, Allura isn’t even herself, Pidge must spout out scientifically inaccurate jargon, Lance is just a pretty face, and Hunk… Ah, my dear Hunk… reduced to slapstick. One can imagine why the fandom may instigate a sh*tstorm over this episode. More on this later, though.
This is not the only reason the fandom does not appreciate the episode as it should be; the fandom feels called out by this episode. Many fans have pointed out that this episode is a jibe towards the fandom and the way they stereotype the characters down to a single character trait. Because of this, the fandom feels like the creators don’t even respect their fanbase. But allow me to shed some light on the real premise of this episode- and trust me, Voltron Fandom, you’re not the real target of the satire of this episode. The message of ‘The Voltron Show!’ serves as a stingingly satirical social criticism of the overbearing pressure show writers and creators feel from the network executives who control their work.