Sunday, August 31, 2008

Search Term Safari

Shamelessly stolen from Marko:

"I'm 27, I'm single, I'm a schoolteacher, and that's the pits"

Sadly, Google returned no results for the phrase in quotes. However, two of my pages popped up as alternate results, because if Google can't find what you're looking for as a phrase, it'll search for all the words. I'm betting this is a line from a movie, but I can't for the life of me tell you which one.

girard, IL whirl a whip

Ah, the Whirl-A-Whip. It's like something out of a John Cougar Mellencamp song. Jack and Diane could have gotten their chili dog at the Whirl-A-Whip, except that it doesn't rhyme with "knees." A small, family-owned ice cream and burger stand with outdoor tables under a tin roof, the Whirl-A-Whip offers homemade goodness. If you order a chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-ice-cream milkshake at the Whirl-A-Whip, they actually break open tubes of Pillsbury cookie dough and spoon chunks into the vanilla soft serve. The cookie dough is actually soft when you eat the thing, and therefore actually tastes like cookie dough. Cookie dough submerged in ice cream. Highly recommended if you're ever passing by Girard, which you will be if you ever travel Old Route 66 through Illinois.

symbol for teacher tattoo

That's actually a good question. I've been thinking about a set of grips for a pistol with some kind of teacher symbol on one side and a Star of Life on the other. I figure a lamp of knowledge is probably the technically correct choice, but personally, it's not something I'm interested in looking at for the rest of my life. Good luck. Think twice, tattoo once.

how do you tell a good knife from a bad knife

It really depends on you--what your needs are, how and why you're going to use the thing, and so on. I generally check to make sure everything on a folder operates smoothly. Both folders and fixed blades should be checked for flaws before you plunk down your lucre. And personally, I want to know how sharp it is. If it's not sharp, I generally sharpen it and do some cutting. You can save a lot of time by sticking to quality names. Case, Camillus, Benchmade, Spyderco . . . . and about a thousand others at the moment. This doesn't mean you won't get a lemon, but it means you're not starting out looking at junk.

NEVER pay money for anything marked "Pakistan" "4XXJ" or "surgical." Ditto "United."

Collectors have their own criteria, but often they're not looking for a "good" knife so much as a "collectible" knife.

how do i pick my video card

Hell if I know. Boy, did you bark up the wrong tree.

purse guy illinois

Hey, hey, hey! I'm a lot more than that! However, my purse is a Maxpedition Jumbo VersiPack, and it is awesome.

It's Not Whether He's Willing to Hug You . . . .

It's how big a knife he's going to put in your back while his hand is back there.

Apparently the Illinois Democratic delegation to the DNC (Motto: "We hate each other almost as much as we hate the rest of you.") has been mending fences, at least in public. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (yes, the son of THAT Jesse Jackson--when you hear people talk about Reverend JJ shaking down Budweiser, the payoff was a beer distributorship for JJ Junior) surprised everyone by apologizing to Bobby Rush (yes, that Bobby Rush, of Black Panther fame--Chicago politics are nothing if not entertaining) for offending him--after Rush had just sat down from a speech in which he described JJ Junior as one of the "lesser birds of the sky, looking for a way to take the eagle's place." From there, it snowballed.

JJJ hugged Rush.
Then he hugged Debbie Halvorson, another Democrat who hates him.
Then Dick Daley joined in and gave JJJ another hug.
But the big moment was when Blagojevich and Mike Madigan hugged each other without inserting any knives. Frankly, it's a little creepy. Imagine if you happened upon a pit of horrible, cannibalistic monsters which had always been too busy eating each other to come out of the pit after you. . . . and they were cooperating. And building little ladders. Not good.

Of course, as spooky as it is to see Illinois Democrats tolerating each others' presence, there's not much reason to think it will go on. We shall see.

Blackwater Blog Weekend: Daily Motivation III

This is a pretty good demonstration of what everyone's been talking about with the International Cartridge Corporation frangible ammunition we shot at Blackwater. Dan Smith, VP of Operations at ICC, shot with us all weekend and helped run the range quite a bit.

Of course, that's not why we loved him. We loved him because he'd show up every morning in a Suburban riding low in the back from the weight of cases of ammunition. Then he'd put a few cases on a table and we'd fall on them like swarming predators. Dan was our free ammo guy.

So am I going to say nice things about Dan's ammo because he gave me a bunch of it for free? No. But I am going to say good things, because my experience was good. That might make me sound like a shill, but I think you can ask anyone who was there and they'll tell you the same things I'm about to tell you.

First, I know some of the others were dreading the frangible ammo. Caleb in particular had used some early version in the military and hated it. Personally, I had no idea we were even being offered frangible; they told me they were paying for the ammo, and I promptly turned my attention to other matters. Once I hear the words "free ammo" I don't really care what comes next. You could follow those words with "for anyone willing to eat these buzzard testicles on camera" and I'd never know the difference. Let's pause for a moment here and think about this logically. What do we need from our ammunition? It's got to be reliable, first and foremost, right? That means it needs to fire reliably, and in a semi-auto it also has to cycle the action reliably. It's got to be accurate, too. How accurate depends on your purpose. We needed to be accurate enough to hit targets down to the size of the head on a standard IPSC cardboard target, so that was my standard. It needs to be safe, and if we're being honest with ourselves, it needs to be affordable, too. How does the ICC stuff stack up?

Let's talk about accuracy. My accuracy at the beginning was about what I expected--not great, but grouping more or less where I wanted with the occasional ugly flyer. As time went on, the groups tightened, but I never shot to the potential of the gun over more than 2-4 shots. In the shoot house, oddly enough, I shot tighter double-taps than I'd been able to do anywhere else, even putting one double-tap through the same perfect hole from across the room. I'd been sure both shots hit when I'd fired them, but during my walk-through, Todd Jarrett had to assure me that he'd seen them hit the same hole, too. He, of course, was putting entire magazines into very small groups, although he wasn't as superhuman and flawless as I think some of the blog posts have implied. More on that later; I think it's an important topic for reasons I will make clear, but it's not really relevant to the ammunition question.

OK, it's accurate, but is it reliable? Well, I figure we each fired around 1,000 rounds, maybe a little less. Call it 800 to be safe. There were 11 bloggers, three Para employees, two from Crimson Trace, and two from the film crew, all shooting. That's 18 shooters x 800 rounds apiece for a total of 14,400 rounds give or take a few. I don't know of any hiccups, either failures to fire or failures to cycle the guns. Not bad.

Safety? I'm glad you asked, because this was what I really enjoyed about the ammo we used. We all got the experience of standing in front of fixed steel plates and emptying our pistols from a retention position (we really spent zero time on tactics, but this position was being taught as the middle portion of the correct draw) into a plate we could have reached out and touched with our hands. As advertised, the bullets disintegrated completely and left us untouched, if a little dusty. From further away, I did occasionally feel a larger chunk of the sintered metal hit me. It wasn't sharp like a piece of torn jacketing, but it was there. I think you'd have to take one directly to the eye to be annoyed by it, though.
Thanos Polyzos told us that Para-USA uses the ICC frangible ammo exclusively to proof-test guns at their manufacturing facility, which allows them to run a lead-free range right in the factory. We all noticed how nice it was not to have to line up to scrub lead off our hands before we could have a sandwich in the mess hall!
On a personal not, there's one more safety issue that I expect ICC to help me solve. My "home" range, Abe Lincoln Gun Club, was founded in 1946. A few years ago, a pushy land developer from nearby Springfield decided to buy land downrange. Then he decided to build a house on a hill. The hill is so high that they say, in the winter, that you can look out past the 200-yard berm and see the roof among the trees. Of course, he began complaining about the club immediately, even though it hadn't moved in 60 years. Bullets were whizzing over his head, skipping off his pond, and striking his house, he said. He even once showed recovered bullets to a sheriff's deputy, who told the officers at ALGC that they'd first become suspicious when they noticed that all the recovered bullets were loaded into commercial cartridges with shiny brass. In any case, the club took several steps to mollify the big crybaby, and one of those steps was to double the height of the berms and bring in fill dirt to raise the shooters on the 200 yard line so that they have to fire down into the base of the berm. Another step was to outlaw any and all steel or metal targets. They're afraid that a round will ricochet over the berm and get the whol place shut down. The ICC ammo simply vaporizes against steel, so that would solve that problem. The hard part is going to be convincing anyone in charge to let me use the stuff. It's a key club, and there's no one on the premises most of the time, so once the steel targets are out there, it's not hard to imagine some goofball deciding to shoot 'em with his steel-core SKS ammo.

If the ICC round has a weakness, it's the one you've probably predicted: price. There's no way to make this stuff price-competitive with lead, plated, or jacketed bullets. The process of making the bullet itself involves precise mixing and sintering of copper and tin, and the loading process is further complicated by the brittle nature of these bullets. I found the 155-grain .45 we were shooting for $22-$23 per box of 50 online. Of course, Winchester white box goes for $18.99 at my local range for the same 50-round size, so it's not like this stuff is terribly out of line, but the expense is there, especially if you're using it as practice ammo. There's not really much of a way around that; it will be a deal-breaker for some shooters, irrelevant for others, and most of us fall somewhere in between. The catch is that you've got to evaluate the price in the light of what you're getting. This ammunition does do things that the cheap box of 230gr FMJ on the shelf just can't do--it eliminates the issue of lead/jacket splatter, allows training against steel at arm's length and closer, and makes a lead-free shooting environment possible.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Blackwater Blog Weekend: Daily Motivation II

The camera man above, looming above the safe-backstop steel walls of the shoot house, is the guy Todd Jarrett lovingly refers to as "Convict Mark." He's got a few piercings and a few tattoos, and he played the part of Bad Guy Who Gets Blasted By Todd Jarrett in a recent Crimson Trace promotional video. But this guy is a serious shooter and an all-around fun guy who did everything we did that weekend, often better, while also doing his job. He'd shoot us shooting, shoot whatever he needed for Downrange TV, and then put the camera down and go shoot steel. Rough life, huh? He also told the best stories; he and I traded tales of talking our wives into gun purchases one night in the lodge, but I couldn't keep up with his tales of trying to spin $7,000 trap guns from Olympic shooters as "bargains."

Don't worry; he didn't stay above those walls while we were shooting, as that would be unsafe.
He followed each of us through the shoot house instead. That scared the hell out of me, and I was the one with the gun. Now, I was moving so slowly that it was probably more like following the Titanic, so if I turned "suddenly" there was a lot of time to figure out where he was going to go. Not everyone was taking things at such a leisurely pace, though, and after one shooter who will remain nameless, Mark came out of the shoot house with wide, frightened-bunny eyes to declare "I saw Jesus!"

And here's what he did that I might not have: that was only the third or fourth shooter of the morning, so he went right in behind the next guy not five minutes later.

My favorite Mark the Convict story was the tale of the stuffed suit at an NRA convention who actually told him to leave and threatened to have him thrown out. At the time, Mark told us, he'd had purple hair, and I'm sure he had all his tattoos and piercings. He also had credentials and was actually doing his work at the convo, but that didn't impress Suit Guy, who stated with authority that "You don't represent what the NRA is about and we don't want you here."
(Remember, this is a guy who shoots with Todd Jarrett and Olympic shotgun athletes and Michael Bane . . . .)
The situation was resolved, apparently, when cooler heads told Suit Guy that he was risking The Displeasure of Sandy Froman. This apparently has the effect of raising the room's temperature to approximately the melting point of bluster, because he calmed right down.

I couldn't stop thinking how much Oleg would like to get this guy in front of a camera, but he was a little shy. Actually, he told me that if I put this one on the internet, he'd hunt me down and put an end to my internet foolishness. But mediocrity is its own reward; no one at Para or Blackwater seems to realize I even have a blog, so I doubt he'll see it, and if truth be told, I'm a little proud of it as portrait work.

My Newfound Enthusiasm for McCain

Expressed succinctly by Sharp As A Marble:

Good Luck, Gulf Coast

So Xavier and BayouRenaissanceMan are hunkering down. They'll both be busy if things get bad when Gustav passes through, I think. I'd tell them to stay safe, but they're good at it, so I'll just wish everyone luck.

It sounds like New Orleans is about to get the stick again, and if they don't, it'll only mean someone else gets it this time. Oh, what the hell: stay safe, everybody.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Good Hillary of the North: Sarah Palin

Think about it: This woman has everything the Democrats loved most about Hillary Clinton (OK, that basically boils down to a pair of X chromosomes, but still, she's got 'em.)

In addition to that, she's got a serious brain on her, and then again she's got a big brass clanking pair of . . . uh . . . courage and conviction. Yes, that will do.

She does have the disadvantage that she didn't make her way in life by marrying a promising young law student and make a Governor out of him, choosing instead to run for Mayor and then Governor herself.
And win. And govern pretty well. (I've already seen one MSM reference to her "tiny, out-of-the-way state." I guess it's not flyover country if there's nowhere the news anchors want to visit on the other side of you.)

So now we've got the Scarecrow and the Tin Man (you figure out which is which) hoping they've dropped a big enough house on the Wicked Hillary of the East, because if they didn't get her good, her vast army of flying Democrat monkeys might still exact revenge.

Meanwhile, the Wizard has just joined forces with the Good Hillary of the North, and I for one feel a little better about his chances.

I Can Explain

Just checked my voicemail, and I had a rather testy message from one of the officers at the Ambulance Squid, now several hours old. "Don, Beavis and Betty were looking for you. They want to go to the Girard football game and it's getting late, so call me at the shed when you get this." Well, it's almost 10:00 p.m., so I don't think I'll bother her right now. We DO cover the Virden and Girard football home games, you see, but since each team is playing nearly an hour away tonight, I'm guessing they weren't at the Girard field for very long before they figured out why I hadn't shown up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with caffeine overdose in hand.

Yes, my fellow Americans (and all you lovable foreigners,) it's football season again, and that means, if you're on a small-town ambulance crew on Friday nights, spending your Friday evenings watching high school football. There are worse punishments in life, but tonight I was exhausted from a long day and a good workout. I bought a paper on the way home and checked it out. My alma mater, the Bulldogs, are playing the Pretzels tonight (no, I'm not kidding) and the game is . . . . away. One down.
The other school we cover, the Big Red (Who have a vicious rivalry with the New French Lick "Juicy Fruit"--OK, that one I made up) are playing the Wildcats . . . . away. Oops. Oh well, kids, I wouldn't worry about it. The greater Girard metropolitan area has many inviting tourist attractions such as car lots and a Whirl-A-Whip, and is always worth the drive down nearly-scenic Illinois Rt. 4, which offers many scenic views of both soybeans and corn.

There's talk of consolidating Virden and Girard schools now, and people are starting to puff up their gills and feathers and dander and whatnot in impressive threat displays to Defend Our Beloved Schools. Except me, and here's why:

1. Consolidation is probably a great idea. Illinois has more school districts for its size than any other state. We are riddled with tiny rural districts that pay lots of redundant administrators and have to maintain their own athletic, transportation, and probably other systems. A consolidated district would be more stable, would be able to mix and match students between more buildings, and could make the transportation work better--probably.

2. It probably has no better chance this time than the previous three or so times it's been tried in my lifetime. It seems to get floated every decade or so. People draw battle lines (most of them on football fields or basketball courts, it seems) and the idea of consolidating becomes a symbol of what the evil, progressive world keeps trying to foist off on us, like gay rights and New Coke. Virden and Girard are vicious rivals of long standing in our athletic programs, and that seems to override all other considerations. Personally, I always figured that if Superman could work with Lex Luthor and Captain America could be on the same side as Joe Stalin (think about it, it's so true!) then we should be able to welcome our toothless, meth-addled brothers from the south with open arms. But not everyone is as loving and respectful as I am.

Sarah Palin for VP? What Has Happened To John McCain?

God help me, I'm starting to feel the urge to vote for McCain.

Well, OK, it's an urge to vote for Sarah Palin, and there might be some other urges in there, too. But McCain deserves to ride her coattails, 'cause McCain invited her to the party. It's like he's found The Good Hillary of the North.

Even Tamara approves.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Blackwater Blog Weekend: Daily Motivation I

In the interest of full disclosure, this poor soul didn't actually get zapped with simunitions; we didn't get to play with those. We just had a good idea who'd been leaning on the walls.

Overheard in a Middle School

"That's some blog you've got up!" the big man told me. "We might have to talk, I don't know!"
He was smiling as he went out the door. Meet the Staff Night was beginning at Overachievers Middle School, and he'd only stopped in our room to get directions, but he'd caught me updating this site.

My poor co-teacher cringed. "Are you going to get in trouble?"
"No, I don't think so. That's Billy Dee's dad, isn't it?"
"So, Billy Dee is the kid who stapled a picture of himself shooting a camouflaged AR-15 to his 'Things You Should Know About Me' poster, isn't he?"
"Oh, I don't think anybody did that," she said, giving me the sideways-through-the-eyebrows look that little Italian ladies give you when they think you're off your rocker.
"I'm not in here for that class, but it was right here on the front table a couple of days ago. I showed it to you. It was your assignment!"

A comfortable, if lengthy, silence ensued.

"Besides, did you see his dad's t-shirt? 'Tactical Explosive Entry School?' I don't think he's too worried about me."
"Do you really think there's a rifle on there? I did not see that! Where is it? I put them in the hall!"

We trundled out to the hall. We are not a graceful pair. She's pregnant and I'm me.

"There it is. See?"
"Ohmygod I didn't even see that! Reach up there and turn that around backward!"
"Are you kidding? You can't do that! You're not in Rockford anymore, lady. This is Illinois. That's not how things are done here. It's no big deal."
"Just turn it around so no one sees it."
"OK," I told her, curling the photo a bit. "But if he asks, I had nothing to do with it. There, feel better?"
"I just don't want to get into trouble. And I don't want him to get into trouble. You know how it is."
"Yeah. Should we do something about the big 'Shoting' title or the 'Watch out, I'll break all your clays' part? Or the giant mushroom-cloud explosion in the center of the paper?"

I have got to stop doing that. :D

Blackwater Blog Weekend: Woohoo!

Two excellent pieces of news have just arrived:

1. The other two boxes of pistols have reached ParaUSA in Tennessee. They will now be prepped for sale. They're going to give us four magazines for each gun, too, which Kerby did tell us about beforehand in a feeble attempt to keep Robb from smuggle magazines out of the Blackwater compound in his luggage.

2. The Crimson Trace Lasergrips we used are being included with the guns. The price of the guns is confidential, which is fine with me; Para's rules are Para's rules. But suffice it to say that I did not expect the Lasergrips to be included for that price. I was actually thinking about this tonight on the way home from school; I was thinking it was too bad that I couldn't afford the grips, but maybe in awhile I'd save up. Now I'm excited. BIG THANKS once again to the guys at Crimson Trace, who shot with us and gave us awesome grips. Seriously, if you found yourself transported back in time to a chow hall in 1917, and Sgt. Alvin York asked you to pass the hash, and you said, "You know, one day, people will carry a version of that gun with a trigger like a double-action revolver, only not, and it will have totally sweet grip panels that shoot lasers at your enemies," well, he'd look at you as if you were nuts, and not just because you'd failed to pass the hash. And yet it has come to pass.
I guess that means I can buy Lasergrips for the SIG instead.

Crimson Trace had already stepped up once at the Blogger Weekend. See, they put up a pair of grips (winner's choice) to the person with the best overall score through the shoot house scenario we ran Sunday morning. That's pretty nice and everything, all well and good. But as lunchtime approached, it seemed like we were moving through pretty fast, and maybe more shooting could be fit in, so we put the question to Todd: "Please, sir, we want . . . . some . . . more?"
It does not take a lot of peer pressure to get Todd Jarrett to chuck the schedule and shoot more bullets. He called the camera over, asked us loudly if we'd like to shoot it again after lunch, and got a "HELL YES" chorus in return. And so we did.

When we went back, Todd disappeared into the shoot house for awhile and came out chuckling. As a professional educator, I understand that when designing an assessment instrument causes one to chuckle, there's something tricky going on. Anyway, it was quickly announced that this time, there would be three prizes:
  1. First Prize winner would get a set of Lasergrips for any pistol. Remember, this contest wasn't in the schedule, so at most, the Crimson Trace guys had had lunchtime to talk it over and decide to give away more of their product--and it wasn't like they were giving away hats and keychains here. These are pistol grips with fricking laser beams shooting out. They ain't cheap.
  2. Second prize would win 500 rounds of the excellent frangible ammo we were using. This was a coveted prize, because that stuff is AWESOME. It'll get its own writeup soon. Imagine putting your muzzle an inch from steel plate and emptying the magazine--safely--and then backing out to 25 yards and shooting a personal best group.
  3. Third prize would win 500 rounds of the excellent frangible ammo we were using. At this point, Todd Jarrett objected; the 3rd place finisher would get 499 rounds, he said, because he personally would take one. Robb won the third place prize, and at the end of the day when Dan the ammo guy gave him his half-case of .45, he removed one round and tracked down Todd to put it in his hand. Jarrett shared a good laugh with us for a moment, then got serious: "Let me tell you something," he intoned gravely, looking Robb in the eyes, "Third place don't NEVER get second-place money!"

Blackwater Blog Weekend: What Hath Para Wrought?

OK, it's Meet the Staff night here at Overachiever Middle School, so I don't have a lot of time until parents stream in. Let me just get this off my chest.

Tonight was IPSC night. Everyone was nice enough to let me go first so I could make it back here, because when The Principal asks why you didn't show up to meet the parents, "I wasn't out of ammo" only makes things worse. I shot it with my SIG and my FOBUS paddle.

The SIG did what it always does; the front sight settled on steel, I pulled the trigger, the steel fell down. Unexciting, but gratifying in a deeply personal way. The FOBUS holster, however, had changed. It used to be a perfectly adequate holster. Nothing to write home about, sure, but it worked.

Now it feels almost dangerous. The amount of effort that goes into re-holstering with that thing never bothered me before; I thought that was the way holsters worked. Now it feels like I'm fumbling. With a loaded gun with no safety. I don't like it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blackwater Blog Weekend: The Gun Blog .45

I know my reader has been anxiously waiting for me to write about The Gun, right? OK, here goes.

First of all, let's establish who I am and who I'm not. I am not a 1911 expert. I think Tamara almost severed a longstanding friendship when she found out that, prior to this weekend, my entire 1911 experience consisted of seven rounds through our old friend Son Tao's custom gun, and that was almost 8 years ago now. I like guns, and I like pistols, but I shoot a SIG and a Glock.

With that said, let's move on to the two big questions people were trying to answer this weekend:

1. What's this 1911 thing really like, anyway? Is any of the hype for real?

2. What's this LDA trigger really like, anyway? Is any of the hype for real?

If you were a 1911 guy, you were probably trying to answer number 2. If you were more familiar with the Glock/XD/M&P or some of the double-action guns out there, then you were probably spending your time on number 1.

Personally, I spent more time on number 1. The gun itself is a Commander-sized pistol, which I found a convenient size, but I can't really compare it to the full-sized 1911. Thanos, the President of Para-USA, spent a lot of time asking whether they'd brought the right size--he seemed concerned that the bloggers would write snarky things about the accuracy of the 4.25" guns, but he knew that most of us were most interested in concealed carry, so they thought that size made the most sense. I don't think anyone had a problem with the accuracy of the guns. After all, Todd Jarrett was shooting little bitty groups with any gun he picked up, and I don't care how good he is, he can't do that with a gun that isn't capable of that accuracy. Now, the consistency of the
shooters is another matter and was certainly cause for consternation, but you can't blame the gun for that.

I liked the grip on the Para gun a lot. I'd always thought a 1911 clone would feel more or less like my P220 (they're both single-stack .45's, right?) but it's a much flatter, much thinner grip. I have large hands, but they're mostly palm with short, stubby coal-miner fingers, so there was a noticeable difference in the way the gun handled. I still couldn't reach the magazine release with
my strong thumb without shifting my grip, but I've never found the .45 that will allow such a trick. Getting hits was easy if I did my part, and in a Jarrett class it's easy to know when you're not doing your part because he'll call it out to the whole class. "SQUEEZE THAT THING HARDER WITH YOUR WEAK HAND, DOUG!" he'll call, and you'll cinch down your grip and watch your group close up like magic. By that time, you don't even care that he called you Doug.

The sights were beautiful; a red fiber optic in front and big, black, serrated BoMar-style on the rear (what Tamara calls "Faux-Mars.") I did not experience the snagging and tearing others reported from the sight, but I could see on examination how it could be an issue. I'm not terribly worried about it because of my unique situation. When I compete with the gun, it shouldn't be a big deal. When I carry it, because of the Draconian gun laws of this state, I have to carry it inside a case; it won't have the chance to snag on clothing or tear skin in there. I found that the red fiber optic dot really sped up my shooting; I just followed the bouncing ball. Jarrett made a point of telling us up front that his specialty was not pulling a trigger fast, but acquiring targets fast. Unfortunately, I've never been good at either, but at least with the fiber optic I rarely lost sight of my front sight.

Reliability, in my gun, was great. We put between 800-1000 rounds through each gun, I would guess, under hot and dusty conditions. The ammo was much cleaner stuff than I load at home, but that's a lot of crud. I experienced zero failures to fire or eject, although the gun did fail to lock open on an empty magazine once on a slow string from 25 yards. I'm still not sure what happened there; maybe just a typical tight gun, but it never happened again. Late on Saturday, with the guns not having been cleaned or oiled beyond the factory lube, the gun began to balk at going forward into battery. At about the same time, it got harder to seat a magazine--the mag would seem to be fully seated, then
pop out partway. I visited the sidelines, where Kerby Smith of Para added Lucas Gun Oil to the frame rails and the gun came back to life. We cleaned the guns at the end of that session, and I experienced no other malfunctions. I did twice manage to put the safety on during a string of fire as I tried to get my grip right, which was bothersome--but can you blame the gun for that kind of operator error? I wish I could, but I suppose not. Others did experience some malfunctions, notably Tamara and John Farquhar. Neither could be attributed to user error. Tamara's biggest problem was a consistent failure to lock the slide when empty in her first gun; her replacement piece didn't have that problem. "Probably a .45 slide stop in a 9mm gun," she opined to our Para rep. "That'll do it every time."
I nodded sagely and continued to load my magazine, although of course she could have blamed it on the Ferkelator and I'd have had the same reaction.

So what about question number 2? The answer, as Tattoo said when the Pend family visited Fantasy Island, is "It depends." If you're not familiar with the LDA, it stands for "Light Double Action" and is supposed to be like a double-action-only trigger with a light pull and a completely surprise break. Para-USA insists that this is not an attempt to make a DA 1911 clone, exactly, because the trigger is so revolutionary that it would make a big difference in most other platforms, too. Well, I liked the trigger, because it met my one and only criterion--I tried it and I got hits. Therefore it is Good. It's not true double -action as I think of it; for one thing, there's no second strike capability. For a guy like me, who shoots a DA/SA SIG in competition and wonders what all the fuss over the DA/SA transition is really about, the LDA is no big deal, just a really good double-action-style trigger. I will say I think it was a little smoother and certainly lighter than my P220, and that's saying something. Is it better than a single-action trigger on a 1911? Maybe. Do you work for a department that demands you carry a double-action? Do you work for a department that won't let you have a cocked-and-locked single action? Do you happen to like double-action triggers better? Are you trying to transition from the Glock or a simlar design? Then the LDA trigger might be a big deal for you. For me, it's just something else to try. After the weekend, I know it can shoot and do it well. Now I want to monkey with it for awhile and see if I come to prefer it. If you, like some of the other bloggers, are a 1911 guy who has good history with the single-action trigger on the 1911, I don't believe I would change that unless someone can show you a good reason. I don't see the LDA as the revolution that will sweep the single-action pistol aside. But I liked shooting it, I got hits with it, and it was safe. That's about all it takes to sell me.

So what didn't I like? Well, a lot of the bloggers griped that there was no need for the safety. I should probably be one of them; I carry guns with similar triggers in holsters with no safeties, and it works fine. Besides, I just told you that I put the safety on and killed my own shooting at least twice that weekend, right? Right, but here's the thing--I kind of like the safety. I'll even train myself to keep my thumb on top of it. You see, I hate re-holstering my weapon. It always seems to involve a little wiggling and experimentation, and the whole time, I'm trying to make sure all my clothing is tucked in and nothing can catch the trigger, causing me to shoot a tunnel throug my leg. With the manual safety, I can put the safety on and holster the weapon without worrying as much, and I like that peace of mind. All in all, I'd probably keep the safety, but if Para made a run with "slick sides" I believe they'd sell some.

Blackwater Blog Weekend: We're the Only Ones Conspiring with Mercenaries Enough. . . .

Blackwater Blog Weekend: Calling the 1911 Experts

OK, so, I've been thinking about what I want to say about the Para "Gun Blog 45" model, and I have some ideas. But a question has come up, and I don't know the answer:

Can I put a .22 conversion on this thing? I know there are several kits for 1911 clones, but does the LDA trigger make a difference? Tam, you out there?

Blackwater Blog Weekend: Oh, NOES!

<--Oh where, oh where can my baby be?

All right, nobody panic, but we just got an email from Kerby Smith at Para USA. It seems that UPS has delivered one box of official Gun Blog pistols (no, you can't buy one--they only made 25--but you could always slap some target sights on a Tac-S model and paint "Gun Blog .45" on the side.)

This is a problem because Todd Jarrett claims he shipped three boxes to Tennessee. Assuming that Todd Jarrett has not stolen our pistols (Because, if he did, what would I do about it? Challenge him to a shoot-off?) that means that either UPS still has them (A thought to chill your guts) or UPS has lost them (Another thought to chill your guts.) This sucks, because I've already got a call in to my town's Mayor/School Bus Driver/Gun Dealer to get a transfer done.*

Robb has already issued the magnanimous and statesmanlike opinion that "as long as that box contains my pistol, we're good."
Left unsaid, perhaps for the best, was what might happen if the box did not contain Robb's pistol.

*Did you think I made that up to be cute? This ain't The Lawdog Files.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tam Got Some Bad News

That put a little shadow on the Para Weekend. I'm thinking about her and her grandfather today, maybe you will too.

The only upside I see is not finding out until the weekend was over. It seems like several of us got a "Welcome Back to the Real World" message when it was all over.

  • Tam found out her grandfather was badly hurt and still in some danger, which had to be the worst.
  • Dave Hardy woke up this morning with a fire ladder going past his motel door. A room on the next floor up had burned during the early morning, and he had to step over fire hoses to get his morning coffee.
  • The Maddened Fowl had a tire let go on the way home--and discovered there was no jack in his surplus cop-mobile. (Quote of the weekend: "I wanted to put new tires on it before we came, but they wouldn't have had time to do the alignment. I'll get 'em when I get home.")
  • I found out my battery had gone bad; also, that you can't get a tow truck in St. Louis at 2:00 a.m. (or 3:00, because I was still trying by then) to save your life. If Matt at the BP station hadn't broken company policy and given me a jump, the car would probably still be there. But I'm sure your heart will be warmed, as mine was, to know that one of the "24/7" services I called actually did call me back--at 7:30 the next morning as I drove to work 100 miles away. That was a relief!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Blackwater Blog Weekend: What It Feels Like to Go Through the Shoot House

Questions? No?
That is all.

Blackwater Blog Weekend: The Reckoning

I have to go to work in ten minutes. Just the highlights:

1. I had some adventures I'll tell you about later. Suffice it to say that you can't get a tow truck in St. Louis at 2:00 (or 3:00) a.m. 24/7 my broad white butt.
Anyway, I rolled into the driveway at 6:00 a.m. It is now 7:15; time to go to work. It's going to be an interesting day. I'm a little bleary because I spent all weekend shooting like a madman and then didn't sleep last night, but at least I'm looking professional in my Blackhawk kiss-ass polo and my rigger's belt (because who knows when that might come in handy?)

2. I have 421 pictures, including some videos, loading now. Probably be awhile before you see them.

3. Did you know there's a zombie simulator at Blackwater? Neither did I. It's awesome.

4. Guessing game: Can the TSA's Reveal Imaging CT-80 scanner detect a steel/aluminum pistol and one box of ammunition packed in an ordinary pistol case? Place your bets; I'll tell you this evening. I'll also tell you who had the biggest brass ones in the shoot house (hint: you probably don't know his name, and it is a "him.")

5. Others have written about the LDA pistol Para-USA provided for the weekend. I'm not going to get all analytical right now, because I'm out of time and my pregnant co-teacher is going to blind me with a plastic spoon if I'm late. I'll just say this: I'm selling one my guns and buying that one. If you know me, you know that's not something I do without thinking it over. More follows. . .

6. Big THANKS again to Dan at International Cartridge Company, Thanos and Kerby and Todd Jarrett at Para-USA, Agent 4325XP at Blackwater, and Travis and the guys at Crimson Trace. We kid that we like Dan the best because . . . well, he kept shoving free ammo in front of us like some weird Sicilian grandma . . . but all these people came together to give me the opportunity of a lifetime, and I mean that literally. I don't think I'll ever make it back to Blackwater, and there's no way I could have gone this time if I'd had to provide my own room and board, ammunition, tuition . . . it was just impossible until these people called me up one day and said "Would you like to go to Blackwater and shoot with Todd Jarrett?"

7. I hope the guy who turned this trip down isn't reading this. Seriously, dude, don't torture yourself. What's done is done.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Blackwater Blog Weekend: Sunday Morning Coming Down

From comments:
Does it get any better?

How could it?

It's 7:30 on Sunday morning. Breakfast in 15 minutes, followed by eight hours in the shoot house with Todd Jarrett.

You tell me.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama and Biden are in Springfield

I really have nothing to say about these knuckleheads except this:
Joe Biden is stuck in Springfield (my stomping grounds) kissing Barack Obama's ass, while I am sitting here at Blackwater USA with sore hands from blasting steel all day.
I WIN, Biden. Better luck next time.

Blackwater Blog Weekend: Overheard At The Range

I swear I am not making this up:

ME: "OK, now, nobody panic, but I just found this grenade pin in the Suburban and I don't see the grenade. I'm sure it's nothing."

Todd Jarrett: "Now, you got one of them bad bullets Dan made, here, so this one went a little low on you . . ."
ME: "You haven't seen that? That's the liver shot! Bas Rutten taught me that!"

ME: "I'm going to go home and tell the IPSC club, 'Hey, I really find I shoot a lot better when Todd Jarrett is yelling instructions in my ear and handing me magazines. Can this be arranged?' I think that's a reasonable request."


The most interesting thing about Todd Jarrett, to me, is his teaching. I don't know whether Jarrett has ever read "the research" as school administrators put it, but he does all the right things. The man is a professional educator, not a shooter sharing some tips.

  • He's constantly positive. He'll take your diagnostic group, explain what caused each flyer (if he doesn't know, then you got a "bad bullet") and then give you his estimate of your "main group." Thus, with a flyer in the head and another at the navel, he figured I'd really shot a group of about 3.5 inches right in the upper chest on one exercise. Another shooter was struggling with plates. He missed five. He set up and took forever before toppling the last plate--and only the last plate. What did Jarrett say?
    "OK, now what did you do right on that last one? I'll tell you if you don't tell me."

  • He's energetic. The man is going all the time. No class time is wasted. At most, you get enough of a lull to load magazines while he sets up the next stage. This can be a little overwhelming when he's really moving along, especially with ear protection in, and you wonder sometimes how you're expected to make it through the longest stages remembering what comes next. The answer is that Jarrett will be running beside you, his hand on your belt, yelling out what you do next.

  • The class is always doing something. Jarrett does demonstrate, and as he says, being the instructor means you shoot as much as you want. But you will feel busy every moment, and watching him demonstrate is an active time. Everyone is learning by doing, and setups are done with an eye toward maximum reps for everyone. We've burned through a LOT of ammo.

  • Every shooter in the class, regardless of ability, has a small but measurable goal at all times. There's one aspect of your stance or grip that Jarrett has been reminding you to watch, or there's a benchmark in terms of rounds on target, time, or accuracy. Today I was trying to get a full magazine out on target during 2-second drills. Some others, who were more comfortable with the draw, were trying to get a head shot with the last round. Some people were trying to get four rounds on target, others were just trying to keep all hits in the A zone. Each had his own indvidual goal, and each knew his goal.

  • Aside from positive feedback, Jarrett clearly structures the class to make sure people end each section on a high note. He systematically builds confidence in students that way. If you struggled with the stage where you had ten things to think about at once and the movers and the plates drove you nuts, you still have a couple of simple close-range drills to do before dinner. They're not exactly easy stuff, but they're stuff you can do, and you end on that confident note. Good teachers do this because they understand students--that is to say, people--as well as their subject matter.

So the real question here is this: "Can I write this trip off as a professional mentoring opportunity?"

Blackwater Blog Weekend: Notes From Home

When I got to Virginia, I found a card in my luggage. The front has an obviously gay grizzly bear wearing a lavender neckerchief and hugging himself. He has a very happy smile. "Just sending you a little hug . . ." it says.
The inside says "Did you feel it?"
I did. Here's the rest of it.
We will miss you. I love you!
Your Bride


Dad have a good time in North Carolina shooting. Hope you win and tell me when you come hom. Like I say a lot: "Veni, Vini, Vinci." I will miss you,
Love you,

Kane your
best son
I love you
and I am glad
that you get
to do something fun
and you don't
have to worry,
we I will
peace out

Friday, August 22, 2008

Blackwater Blog Weekend: Oh, Fine, A Little About the Shooting

Just a taste:

Todd Jarrett said I was "Looking pretty good over there for a young inexperienced guy."
David Hardy gave me a copy of In Search of the Second Amendment."
Tamara gave me a hug.
Blackhawk and Para gave me swag.
And my wife and children put a card in my suitcase to which I will devote its own post.

Blackwater Blog Weekend: The Journey

The floor is lurching and bucking. I'm standing up, my right hand braced on an overhead cabinet and my feet spread apart to grip the padded deck. Todd Jarrett is speaking in my ear, telling me to go ahead and draw my weapon. Tamara is waiting patiently behind me for her turn.
"Go ahead," he says, "it's no problem."

This is not an advanced tactical training exercise. Blackwater USA and Todd Jarrett just don't want us walking around with loaded pistols in non-training areas, which makes a certain kind of obvious sense, but it hadn't occurred to most of the gunbloggers as we were riding this rolling rec room (well, it's a rec room in the Burt Gummer sense of the word, as in this would be the wrong dang rec room to break into--did you know Blackhawk's bus driver was a cop for 28 years? Neither did I.) down from Virginia. Jarrett has gotten permission to have us clear our weapons with him on the bus so we can head over to lunch. And he's right; the gun comes out, the mag drops, the slide comes back, and I don't even fall down. It's a measure of how far this place will take me past my current limit. The instruction has not even begun yet!

But this post is really just about how I got here. Mostly, I want to thank Brian (who knows who he is, and who I don't necessarily need to "out" to the world since I don't know how private he wants to stay.) Brian doesn't know me, except that he reads this blog, and Lawdog's, and some others. Brian, like SailorCurt and several others, didn't get the chance to come to Blackwater with us, but he saw a chance to help out, so he gave me a place to stay. This trip hasn't been cheap, and that was a huge help. It actually reminded me a little bit of the time years ago (before most of us had blogs) when Oleg Volk decided he'd had enough of snow and socialism in Minnesota and moved to Tennessee. Oleg was as broke then as I am now, and I didn't have much either, but I did have a roof and four walls. Oleg and two of his friends stayed with my wife and I, and it was a great night and great fun. Anyway, Brian, watch the mail.

The flight was more or less uneventful; security treated me well and the airline's agents were very patient with me. I took photos out the window like a complete geek; the boys will want to see them when I get home. We took off in torrential rain and landed under clear skies, which is always worth doing. I read a little Pratchett and wrote a couple of lines of a bad poem ("Sailing in my steely fish/in the ocean miles above your head/You don't even know you're on the bottom of the sea") and tried to figure out why the little air-conditioning nozzle over my seat occasionally blew what smelled like pure sewer gas.

The next morning, I woke up on someone else's couch to the sound of sirens. The sirens rolled on by, but I was coming awake . . . . oh yeah! I gotta get up; I'm going shooting today! Ever mindful of the dangers of missing your cab or calling without knowing your address, I got all my info together and arranged a ride in a Vaudeville Taxi.

What's that? You haven't ridden in a Vaudeville Taxi? You'd love it. In a Vaudeville Taxi, the driver brings along her best friend/straight man and the two of them crack your ass up all the way to your destination. Stop signs may be disobeyed in the process, and your driver may find herself lost at least once, but you will leave a huge tip anyway because you have been entertained.
"Looka these firemen, fill the boot, fill the boot," one of them may say. "I need about dolla for what I got in the boot. Look at this boot and gimme a dolla. I'll give you a dolla, fireman, but I'm gonna need a boot or somethin'. You don't get nothin' for nothin', fireman."

Later, her friend will making random clicking noises and tell her "I just told you all about you, and you don't even know. That's African right there, girl, just a series of clicks. You don't even want to know what them clicks means."

It's a good time. It's kind of a shame when you have to get out of the cab. These two were very impressed that I was headed to Blackwater to do a pistol course.
"So, you do like that security stuff, right?" the straight man asked.
"No, I teach school and drive an ambulance, and that's about as adventurous as I get." I admitted.
"Oh! You do that overseas and stuff, huh?"
"Uh . . . . no. I do that in Illinois. I'm just a mild-mannered school teacher."
"OH! Illinois? You from Chicago, huh?"

Clearly I am something of a disappointment to my cab drivers, but they were still very nice to me.

OH . . . . did you want to read something about shooting at Blackwater? Maybe the next post.

Here I'm going to thank Todd Jarrett for everything he taught me today (and I DID learn new things that HAVE made me a better handgun shot. More on that later.)

I'm also going to thank Thanos and Kerby at Para-USA for making this all possible--and for thinking to include one voter in the mix, because without that, I wouldn't be here.

And I need to thank My Bride, because she made it easy to come here when she could have made it hard. And my sons, who wrote their daddy a card and sent him nuts.

This Just In . . . .

Senator Joe Biden's house is still dark. There's still a night light on over that one window. Senator Biden has not appeared at the window to shout "I'm the nominee! I'm the nominee! Good Christmasday to you all! I believe!"

But FOX News will continue to air coverage of Sen. Biden's house, LIVE, until further notice. Check back in for all your Joe Biden's House-related questions and needs.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

On a Jet Plane . . . .

God help me, I'm going to the airport this afternoon after work. I haven't flown since the early '90's (maybe the late '80's--I was a child fare, I know that much.) I expect changes for the worse. But this time tomorrow I should be getting ready to go see Blackhawk and Blackwater. I can't wait to meet the mercenaries! I'm hoping I can take a ride in a black helicopter.

The conversations among gun bloggers by email have already scared Para's management a little; I think they may be wondering whether this was a good idea, after all. Time will tell. Personally, I just want to shoot with Jarrett. I doubt things will get any more subversive than salty language and toilet humor.

If you don't hear from me again, the TSA has me in a re-education camp. Remember me as a peacemaker. I have the SIG locked up tight in a hard case, and I transferred all the ammunition to a factory Winchester box (even though my plastic ammo case would actually protect the primers better, it doesn't seem to be allowed.) The magazines, holster and mag carrier are in my checked bag. I think this all passes muster, but we'll see when I get there.

Special thanks to Laughingdog from the forums for giving me a place to stay tonight! This guy has no idea who I am, but he offered to pick me up from the airport. Of course, for all I know, he could be a slavering serial killer with a fat-guy-centered psychopathic complex, but life is all about managing risk, right?

I'm going to miss my family, but my parents are taking the boys tonight, so at least My Bride will have some peace and quiet. Besides, I left her a little surprise so she'd know I was thinking about her. :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Aaaand . . . we're back.

I'm back! It took a lot of computer parts, a new router to replace my other new router, a lot of phone calls to my ISP, a couple of trips over there (it's a small-town, family-owned business located about three blocks away) and a service call to replace the radio transmitter on the roof, but I have my connection back. My monitor is still in the clutches of Best Buy's Service Minions. The good news on that is that it was covered by the infamous Service Plan. The bad news is that they'd rather repair it than replace it, and their estimated date of return was 37 days into the future. I was OK with that until I found out that it's not actually going to the repair location on one of the Jovian moons (Titan is apparently backlogged at the moment) but to Chicago.
"Chicago, like Chicago, Illinois?" I asked. I wanted to be fair about this; perhaps I'd misunderstood. But nope.
Still, that monitor is a 19" Samsung LCD unit that replaced a 19" Viewsonic CRT that died. The service plan on the CRT covered the Samsung, and is now paying for the repair on the Samsung as well, so for the 50 bucks or so that I spent on the service plan I'm not getting a bad deal at all. Luckily I have friends with components littering their houses, so I was able to borrow an old Gateway. It has issues, but it's looking pretty good at the moment.

  • The Camaro is back in the driveway and my wallet is much lighter. It was a freeze plug, as it turns out, and the mechanic said he tried to make it a cheap job by dropping the starter and sneaking past it, but it was no dice. The exhaust had to come off, and of course the bolts and the exhaust flanges have more or less become one over the years. Still, it's back. Tomorrow it goes to the local exhaust guy to have the cat cut off and the muffler replaced. If it sells soon, it sells. If it doesn't, then at least I have something to drive to St. Louis the weekend after next--the Blackwater Blogger Weekend is that close! Since I have to drive down right after work, and then drive back at about 1:00 a.m. on Monday morning, I really didn't want to make My Bride drive me. I'd have had to find another way, but I'm not sure what it would have been. (The mechanic gave me the freeze plug as a souvenir--a twisted, sawed, ripped and torn mess. "This one's been to war," quoth he, "but I always win in the end.")
  • I have one more IPSC shoot before I go to Blackwater. I'll have to miss next week, since I'll be getting my cavity search at the airport about the time they start.
  • Tomorrow is the first day back for teachers. I can't wait to tell my partner in special-ed crime (a lovely woman, but somewhat . . . . mild-mannered, shall we say?) that I ran into one of our former students . . . . . at an action pistol match. And I'm pretty sure he beat me. He was lucky we were standing still, though: this kid was wearing the requisite cutoff shorts four sizes too big, and he had apparently worked out that his stiff velcro gun belt would sort of cinch his pants in if he tightened it--there'd be no saggin', in other words. So he decided to make the gun belt just as loose, and compensate by constantly yanking his shorts, then his belt, then his shorts, then his . . . . well, there was a lot of yanking going on, all in an upward direction. Anyway, I find this funny. I fully expect her to blanche.
  • I have a new boss. She seems very good, but tough. Frankly I don't know how they talked her into the job. I told my last boss before she left that I wouldn't do her job for any money, and I meant it. Whereas I spend most of the day teaching classes and then far too much of my "free" time doing paperwork, fitting in meetings as required, a Coordinator spends her entire day in IEP meetings chained to a laptop. It's a fate worse than death. This one is supposedly "retired." She works Monday at our school, then Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday at a residential school for kids with profound disabilities, then comes back to us on Fridays. I may not understand retirement, but 5-day weeks of drudgery and meetings would not suit me in retirement. My grandpa is retired, and his emphasis tends more toward gardening, fishing, hunting and picking berries. To each his own, I guess.

Friday, August 8, 2008

I'm Not Dead Yet

Both my computers 'sploded, but I didn't die. I have a borrowed monitor for the desktop and a battery on the way for the laptop, and some hope that I'll be back on a daily basis soon. Right now I'm typing this on my parents' super-fast new machine connected to their super-slow dialup connection. I came down here to steal their newspaper while they're at the antique show, but that's so 20th century. This is too slow to allow me to check my email via the web client, so if you sent me an email, I haven't gotten it. Sorry.

A few things I've been doing while not posting much:
  • More IPSC shooting, using the P220 and the Glock 30. Still not placing last. My new goal is to finish in the top 50% of Production class. Last night was a relatively boring classifier match, just three targets on each side of a barrier with a mandatory reload before switching sides, with no-shoots between each target and the next. But it was a big night for the boys, since they both got to go. Last week, Donovan made it, but Kane's behavior just wasn't up to par. Last night, we stayed until the end as Kane picked up brass and pasted targets and generally charmed everybody.
  • Refinished the old P220 using Lauer's DuraCoat in "HK Black." Years ago, pre-child, the gun was between the mattress and frame of a waterbed when my dog punctured the mattress and flooded the frame (and then the bedroom.) My SIG was built in 1989 and has that awesome SIG-Sauer bluing that was essentially surface prep for rust. I stripped all that rust but then left the thing in the white for the longest time.
    This week I fixed that. The HK Black DuraCoat worked really well, although the airbrush didn't really start working until I ditched the CO2 canister and hooked up the air compressor. It turns out that it matched the coating on the aluminum frame perfectly. So far, it's been impervious to everything I've done to it. I'm still experimenting with colors for the bar and dot in the sights. I'll probably go back to white, but I'm using metallic gold in the front right now and it's kind of neat--like shooting an old revolver with a gold bead.
  • I went nuts on laundry the other day and actually got all of our laundry done. There was no dirty laundry anywhere in the house. It lasted almost an hour.
  • I'm working on finding out what I have to do to get my Master's finished this year. I believe my certification requirements have been met, but I would only need one more class to get the Master's. Might as well.
  • Still working on that upstairs bathroom I started so long ago. It's been a great summer, but it's been busy. I offered to make a bet with My Bride that the bathroom would be done by Christmas, but she declined. Maybe she's learning not to underestimate me. That would be nice.
  • Today I cleaned our bedroom. This sounds like a small thing, but the clutter in there was unbelievable.
  • Tomorrow the Camaro goes to the Chevy dealership. I've managed to convince myself that the heater core and its connections are fine, and the intake manifold doesn't seem to be leaking, but I finally noticed that when I pour water into the radiator, it actually runs out from somewhere on the passenger side of the block, apparently below the exhaust manifold. I can't see it, but it's a steady stream until the water runs out. I'm worried that they're going to tell me that the block has actually cracked and there's water pouring out of the water passage in the block itself. That would probably cost more to fix than the car is worth. Then the question becomes this:
    Do I go full-on redneck and part out a Camaro in my backyard? Or do I try to sell it to some kid who wants to throw a 350 in there?

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Sometimes, it's hard to know where to draw the line when you're blogging the things your friends and family have said to you. You might have noticed I keep things pretty positive here when I write about my family and friends. But I had another McKnob moment yesterday, and Crystal inspired me to tell you about it.

You might recall that I was somewhat skeptical as to the motives of the FSA, Ceasefire, etc. a couple of days ago when the Mary McFate/Sapone story broke. It seemed like they thought they were going to shame gun owners. My bride came up with the perfect analogy:
"What do they think we are, gay in the '50's? Are we supposed to be hiding or something?"
I informed her that she was a Gorram Genius and I would soon enough be "so blogging that." Her reply?

"NO! You can't put that in there with my name! That's racist!"

You can't make that up.

There Can Be Only One

I haven't commented on the whackjob who stabbed a guy to death and then cut him into convenient pieces--on a Greyhound bus full of passengers. In Canada. It's gruesome, but others have said it all better. There's just one thing: I carry a gun in accordance with Illinois law. That means I carry an unloaded pistole in a case; specifically, I carry a SIG-Sauer P220 and two magazines in a Maxpedition Versi-Pack. This is so slow on the draw as to be virtually useless for self-defense. I know; when I practice with the P220, I practice opening the compartment, drawing the gun and a magazine (moving laterally off the line of attack all the while) loading and charging the gun, putting all the rounds in a target and then drawing the next magazine and reloading. After over a year of practicing this way, I've got it down to such a science that, while the bad guys would have time to stop for a cup of coffee while waiting for me to draw and fire, they probably couldn't have dessert. I tried to time it once, but there was no calendar at the range.

I don't carry it for self-defense, really. I carry it because it pisses off politicians and busybodies. But then again, there are these incredibly rare freak occurrences when something terrible is being done to someone right in front of you, and it might be nice to be armed when you try to stop it. From the accounts, it doesn't sound like anyone tried to stop the MFIQ (it ends with "In Question), but we can't know from news reports. What's more, although I know such times are rare, the time my sister was nearly abducted on the street in broad daylight was another. Her assailant was never caught. If the guy who beat him off her had been armed, he may have been able to hold the attacker--and if she'd been armed in a fashion illegal here, but perfectly legal in Missouri, Iowa, Kentucky and Indiana, she may have been able to do it without him.

Anyway, Second City Cop had the best comment, upon noting that one witness said, and I quote,
"While we were waiting on the side of the road, [the MFIQ] was taunting the police with the head in his hand."
"We don't know for sure, but if some guy is taunting us with a head, he's going to get lit up. We're pretty sure we could beat it in court somehow."
Well, one permits oneself to hope, gentlemen. For the record, I agree. If you're taunting the armed men with the head of your victim, well . . . . personally, I would simply say that I considered it necessary to stop him as quickly as possible in order to maximize the chance that the head could be reattached. Any prosecutor who would dare take that to a jury deserves to win.