Wednesday, December 30, 2009

House update - 2009-12-30

Well, the pre-move in painting was finished a week and a half ago. Here's the living room now:


And the bedroom:


That's a big improvement over before, don't you think? FYI, that's about $300 worth of paint and supplies there - never let anyone tell you painting is "cheap".

I've also changed out the light switch in the bedroom for an electronic dimmer switch with a remote control, and replaced all the old bi-metal thermostats with triac-based digital ones that are accurate and also tell me the actual room temperature.

Amazingly, for Christmas I got a significant amount of 'money' in the form of Lowe's and Home Depot gift cards. Go figure. :)

Monday, December 28, 2009

The mind boggles...

at this insanity.
But as a progressive, I would sooner lay my child to rest than succumb to the belief that the use of a gun for self-defense is somehow not in itself a gun crime. [emphasis mine]
I have my doubts as to whether that attitude would withstand the test of reality, but the fact that this waste of carbon would even spout such insanity means it's possible. In fact, it seems like he's a True Believer in the "Progressive" agenda:

An alternative to lockdown is immediate exodus via announcement. Although this removes potential hostages and makes it nearly impossible for the shooter to acquire preselected targets, it unfairly rewards resourceful children who move to safety off-site more shrewdly and efficiently than others.

Schools should level playing fields, not intrinsically reward those more resourceful. A level barrel is fair to all fish.

So, not only would he rather see his own children dead than sully himself by using an evil gun to defend them, but he would also follow the "Progressive" doctrine of "equal opportunity must mean equal outcomes" and see all the children dead rather than allow any who can to "unfairly" use their resourcefulness to survive when others might not be able to.

Why is this idiot allowed to teach? Has anyone looked at how he grades his students? If he believes this strongly that "Schools should level playing fields, not intrinsically reward those more resourceful," does he give every student the same grade? Does he grade based on performance, or based on his own little "Progressive" agenda? After all, it's not "fair" for students who work harder or are innately more talented in whatever subject he teaches to be rewarded for their work/ability when the less motivated or less gifted don't do as well.

If this twit had his way, we'd still be reading by candlelight because Edison would have learned as a child that hard work and resourcefulness shouldn't be rewarded, and he would never have bothered trying.

Any teacher who states his belief that resourcefulness and intelligence shouldn't be rewarded because it's not "fair" should immediately be banned from teaching anything for life.

(h/t SayUncle)

Update 2009-12-29:

It's been opined, at Uncle's, at comments in the original source, and by Jenn at A Conservative Shemale (thanks for reading!) that the letter was actually intended as satire. On reflection, I think there's a good chance that they're right. A comment at Uncle's actually links to another letter by the same person

Satire or not, I think the main points of my post here still stand on their own, and anyone who
that seems to support that idea. On the other hand, I've actually met people who think like that, and it's written believably enough that I just can't bring myself to dismiss the possibility that it's real.does think like that still should be banned from teaching for life.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I've been wondering when someone would try this...

Calif. city's police to wear head-mounted cameras

SAN JOSE, Calif. – San Jose police are testing head-mounted cameras to record interactions with the public.

The technology to build a system like this has been around for a while, now (think cell phone cameras). I'm not surprised someone's finally trying it, and I completely support it. The implementation sounds interesting, too.

Officers are to turn on the cameras every time they talk with anyone. They download the recordings after every shift.

The cameras are the size of a Bluetooth cell phone earpieces and attach by a headband above the ear.

I am, however, skeptical. Since I started working as a paralegal, I've found it extremely dismaying how often the cruiser-mounted cameras "weren't turned on" or were turned off early (in violation of department policy), or "weren't working". I'd guess that roughly 1 in 3 or 4 subpoenas for camera footage actually result in getting a recording. Of those, most don't show anything useful to the defense because officer/suspect interactions tend to take place off camera. I don't mean to imply that it's intentional - the camera is usually pointing forward, and fixed - but there are some cases where I do have to say it's questionable.

The upshot is that I have to wonder how often these head-mounted cameras will "fail" or turn out to have been "unintentionally obscured". I love the idea - just like the cruiser-cams, the purpose of recording these interactions is to protect both the officer and the citizen, and preventing a case from boiling down to a "he said, she said" type of situation - I just wonder how well it will stand up to reality.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Climate Change Summit

I saw this article on Yahoo today, about how it doesn't look good for the Climate Change Summit. Funnily, I don't see any mention of the evidence that recently surfaced about the massive scientific fraud that's gone into the whole climate change scheme.

It's as if the media is ignoring any evidence that doesn't support the idea of man-made climate change. Somewhat ironic, isn't it.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Cash for Clunkers = Fail: Part 2

More unintended consequences of Cash for Clunkers hits another part of the auto industry - salvage yards.

Last summer's Cash for Clunkers program has clogged auto salvage yards with a glut of trade-ins that are too damaged to drive but too good to be sent directly to scrap.

The less glamorous side of the auto industry is having trouble digesting the byproducts of the buying frenzy that put nearly 700,000 new automobiles on the nation's roads -- and took the same number off.

The future of millions of usable auto parts is in limbo as a critical deadline looms this winter under the federal program, which had unexpected success on the front end and its funding tripled to $3 billion.

Several salvage yards in the Roanoke and New River valleys are filled with valuable alternators, starters, air conditioning compressors, wheels, body parts, seats and other major interior parts.

But they are still connected to the 1,500 or so used automobiles traded in through the less-than-eight-week program that expired in August.

And many may go to waste if a federal deadline to conclude the program is not extended.

Apparently, there is a six month deadline for salvage yards to strip usable parts from the cars before they must be crushed or shredded. The problem? There were more cars traded than the salvage yards can deal with.

"There is absolutely no way that we can process these vehicles and recycle anywhere near their potential," he said.

He said the volume of trade-ins flooding the salvage industry is three times what the industry expected when it agreed to support the program and to process the trades within six months. With only four months left on many of the clunkers he bought, he's so far only covered his costs to buy the vehicles for about $225 apiece and get them towed to his facility.

Were these normal trade-ins, the unwanted vehicles could simply be sold to new owners. In this case, the engines were destroyed under a federal mandate to take relatively low-mpg vehicles off the road.

But virtually every trade is loaded with fully functional parts. This represents an opportunity that the auto recycling industry wants to tap -- if given enough time.

As it stands now, however, salvage yards say they can't possibly process the vehicles received under the clunker program by their deadline.

If the yards don't get an extension, the vehicles will have to be scrapped before there is a chance to take off all of the parts, cutting short the program's potential economic and environmental effect, Cunningham said.


The way they normally operate seems to be one factor:

While the obvious solution to the problem at hand might seem to be to strip the clunkers and put the parts on a shelf until a buyer comes along, few shops have the time and storage capacity for such a harvest.

They often keep their autos whole or mostly whole and remove a bumper, rearview mirror or the like when someone asks for them.

That makes sense. Most salvage yards are small operations - lots of land, but only a few employees - and stripping a vehicle for parts is pretty labor intensive.

And, of course, the biggest flaw in the whole program is still there, too.

According to Cunningham, "the real clunker junker smoker" is still going down the highway because its owner could not afford the payments for a new car.

What got traded in for the most part were "very nice cars, very above-average. I had Lexuses being traded in," he said. "Eighty percent of the cars that were traded in, easily, would have went straight into the wholesale market to be resold with absolutely no problem getting rid of them."

But without functioning engines and engine replacement forbidden by the guidelines, the industry has turned to what it calls parting the vehicles out.

Salvage yards are finding there's plenty of demand, but they need time for purchasers to show up. Many highlight their inventories on the Web and wait for a potential customer -- a mechanic or do-it-yourselfer -- to come through the door, call or send an e-mail.

People who could afford to own a Lexus were trading them in on the taxpayer's dime? Total. Fail.

Some other unintended side-effects?

Since 84 percent of the trades were SUVs or trucks, a supply glut could depress prices, he said.

In addition, taking 700,000 vehicles out of service is likely to somewhat reduce the demand for the very parts salvage yards now have in ample supply, he added.

Besides, the program didn't do what it was supposed to do, anyway.

According to Cross-Sell, a Lexington, Ky., automotive market analysis company, sales for August and September jumped 16 percent in the New River Valley and 3 percent in the Roanoke Valley, compared with last year.

However, the help was only temporary. Deep declines in sales continued at the program's close. For the first 10 months of the year, sales of new automobiles are down 21.5 percent in the New River Valley and 24 percent in the Roanoke Valley.

I'd like to see a graph of those figures. I bet August and September are just an insignificant bump on a steadily downward line.

Fail.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The joys of home ownership

As I mentioned in passing in an earlier post, I've been involved in trying to purchase a house. Well, I have succeeded! The closing was on Monday. Tuesday, I took the day off work to do some initial preparation for moving - mainly, changing the locks (the house had been used as a rental property for a while), and painting. It's small, but being single, it's all I really need.

The area under the awning is an enclosed porch. Here it is from the inside.

The solid door in the upper picture is the door leading into the actual house. It comes out in the living room.

The living room. The front door is to the left, just out of the picture. The door straight ahead is looking into the bedroom, and the archway to the right leads to the hallway, with the door on the right leading to the second bedroom (which will be the study).

Looking into the living room from the bedroom. Guess what I've been doing!

The bedroom. The door in the picture leads to the bathroom, which is shared between the bedroom and the study.

The study, looking into the hallway from the bathroom door.

The bathroom, from the bedroom. The door in the picture leads to the study.

And the bathroom from the study.

Here's the little "hallway." The kitchen is to the right, the study to the left. You can just see the back door through the kitchen door.

Looking into the kitchen.

And out from the kitchen.


Looking off the back deck. That old carport on the right has power and light, and you can see the brick grill in the right wall. There's a grape vine growing along the left "wall" too, and when I was first looking at the house, it did have grapes. I may have to learn to make wine!

Here's a closeup of the fence. It looks very picturesque, but it's also starting to come apart in places, so I'm going to have to replace it soon - probably in sections. That little rock wall runs all the way from the street to the carport along the property line, and there are some wild strawberry plants growing in places along the top!

Looking back at the house from the carport.

It's a nice little house. There are hardwood floors throughout. The attic is large enough to be finished if I need a little more space, the yard is big enough to enjoy, but not too big to maintain easily. It has a few little problems, too, but nothing I can't fix myself given enough time.

Now I just have to finish painting so I can move in.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cognitive disconnect

Heard on NPR this morning - an Obama supporter talking about Sarah Palin.

"She's a little wet behind the ears, but I think she could make a great president someday."

The mind boggles at the disconnect. I hope her vote for Obama had nothing to do with Palin and only reflected her views on other issues.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pirates successfully repelled - by GUNS!

Arming ships to stop pirate attacks works.
Somali pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama on Wednesday for the second time in seven months and were thwarted by private guards on board the U.S.-flagged ship who fired off guns and a high-decibel noise device.
See? Pirates don't want to deal with high-risk targets - ones that can perforate their precious hides with lead. Unfortunately, some people still don't get it.
However, Roger Middleton, a piracy expert at the London-based think tank Chatham House, said the international maritime community was still "solidly against" armed guards aboard vessels at sea, but that American ships have taken a different line than the rest of the international community.

"Shipping companies are still pretty much overwhelmingly opposed to the idea of armed guards," Middleton said. "Lots of private security companies employee people who don't have maritime experience. Also, there's the idea that it's the responsibility of states and navies to provide security. I would think it's a step backward if we start privatizing security of the shipping trade."
No matter how much you trust other people to protect you, ultimately you are responsible for your own safety. The owners of the Maersk Alabama have at least partially realized that, and addressed it by hiring an armed security team. They have at least realized (through bitter experience) that you cannot rely on people who aren't there - the navies of the world simply cannot provide an armed escort for every single ship on the oceans. When there is a navy vessel close enough to respond to an attack, the pirates just go looking for another victim where there isn't one close enough.

This quote sums it up nicely:

"Somali pirates understand one thing and only one thing, and that's force," said Capt. Joseph Murphy, who teaches maritime security at the school. "They analyze risk very carefully, and when the risk is too high they are going to step back. They are not going to jeopardize themselves."
Sounds like most criminals, to me.

This should NEVER happen

Hunter's bullet kills Ferrum student.

One Ferrum College student was killed and another injured about 4 p.m. Tuesday by a hunter who apparently mistook them for deer, authorities said.

Three students were collecting frogs for a biology class along a Franklin County-owned trail about a mile west of campus when one of them, a female, was fatally shot in the chest and another, a male, was shot in the hand, a college spokeswoman said.

[ . . . ]

Kimberly Boudinot said over the phone from her home in Irvington, near the Chesapeake Bay, that her stepson Regis Boudinot, 20, a junior at the college, was shot in the hand. She said a bullet had struck the female student, and then entered Regis' right arm before exiting through his hand.

Rule 4: Be sure of your target, what is near your target, and what is BEHIND your target.

It is every hunter's responsibility to make POSITIVE target identification before firing. It doesn't matter if someone is wearing a high-visibility color or not, YOU must make absolutely sure your target is what you think it is before you pull the trigger - no one else can do it for you. That bullet can never be taken back once it is fired, and a life ended by your failure can never be restored. It will weigh on you for the rest of your life.

Be careful, and be responsible out there folks. Hunters are not the only ones in the woods in hunting season.

Caldwell Fields Killings - Update 2009-11-18

Police seek van seen near time of Caldwell Fields killings.

Investigators are looking for the driver of a silver or gray minivan that was seen parked in the Caldwell Fields lot where two Virginia Tech students were killed in August, they said Tuesday.

According to the article, it is not being considered a suspect vehicle. The van was apparently seen parked there August 26. The killings took place sometime during the evening/night of August 26 & 27.

Anyone who stumbles across this blog and has any information, please come forward.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Holsters

I've been talking for a while about getting better holsters for my 2 main carry guns. I had been looking at the Comp-Tac M-TAC after hearing good things about it from other blogs, but Comp-Tac doesn't actually make that model, or anything similar, for any gun that I actually own. A quick internet search for something similar took me to Crossbreed Holsters. On Saturday night, I finally took the plunge, and ordered these two holsters.
[click to embiggenate, but beware - it's a cell phone photo]




Delivery was quick. They came in today - less than a week after I ordered them - despite a disclaimer on their site saying "Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery. We are a small shop and make them by hand. Thanks for your patience and understanding." I like that kind of service. They also come with a lifetime warranty.

The one on the left is their SuperTuck Deluxe, in black, made for my Taurus PT-145 Millennium Pro. The smaller one is the MicroClip, with my Kel-Tec P3AT. The total cost was $140.20 ($58.50 for the MicroClip + $69.75 for the SuperTuck + 11.95 S&H). Not unreasonable for a pair of good, tuckable IWB holsters.

Since I only got them today, I can't really give an in depth review, but they seem to be solidly built and well put together. Since they came while I was at work, I was able to do a "test run" when I got home using the MicroClip (which is intended for wear at work, with a suit), and it seems to be comfortable and secure, and looks like it conceals well. Draw testing shows good retention, but not too much - though the leather backing means I can't get my thumb around the grip until it clears the holster. They offer a "combat cut" on the SuperTuck to alleviate that issue, but not on the MicroClip. I may eventually want to make that modification myself, and maybe on both holsters, but I'll wait to see how the "road testing" goes.

The SuperTuck may need a little adjusting - the (unloaded) Taurus will fall out if you hold it upside-down - but the holsters also come with instructions on how to adjust the retention. I don't plan to do anything until I've had a chance to actually wear it "as is," since it might be just fine once it's inside my belt. We'll see, since my preferred method of disarming myself is to remove the entire holster with the gun still in it (there's less chance of an ND from accidentally frobbing something I shouldn't in the process).

No matter what, they certainly look to be better than these:


That's an Uncle Mike's IWB holster and a BullDog ankle holster. Cheap and functional, and that's about all you can say about them. I've been using the ankle holster five days a week for about 6 months now, and the elastic is just about shot. I also learned that I don't like ankle holsters for anything but a back-up gun anyway, because you essentially have to become immobile to access it. Even if it's just for a moment, that's a bad idea in a real-life situation.

I'll probably have a more in-depth review up in a couple of weeks.

(Silly Gubbmit Agency Disclaimer - Sorry guys, I paid full retail price for everything I've ever gotten from this manufacturer/retailer - the sum total of which consists entirely of these two holsters.)

Negligent, or accidental?

A little thought exercise, from a story in the Roanoke Times today: "Salem man wounds hunting partner":

A man closes the action on his double-barrel shotgun, and it discharges. The pellets ricochet off a nearby truck and strike his friend in the face and chest.

The way the story is written, the discharge appears to have been the result of a malfunction, not a Rule 3 violation (assuming the paper got the facts right - always a big caveat with the MSM). He (supposedly) knew it was loaded, so there was no Rule 1 violation, and he wasn't actually preparing to fire, so Rule 4 didn't really apply.

I find myself somewhat torn on this one. There was a Rule 2 violation (because there was a truck in front of the muzzle). Metal objects, like vehicles, can cause ricochets. On the other hand, maybe he didn't see it through some trees, or something. Maybe the geography meant the truck was the safest direction to point the gun (though it would be better to leave the action open until reaching a better location in that case).

Ricochets can be hard to anticipate, and even harder to predict, especially when you're not expecting the gun to fire in the first place. Inanimate objects, if you know no one is behind them, are often considered a "safe direction," especially if you don't particularly care about the object and don't expect a discharge.

So what say you, dear readers - negligent, or accidental?

Friday, November 06, 2009

Obama's Priorities

You should watch the video here. Then you should be angry. Very angry.

At a (presumably) emergency press conference convened to address the Fort Hood shootings, our illustrious President spends the first 2 minutes congratulating people about the conference he's at (based on the comments at the site, it's a Native American conference), and giving a "shout out" to someone in the audience.

That really is a full 2 minutes from the time stamp on the video. A full 2 minutes before he even mentions the tragedy at Fort Hood, at a press conference called specifically for that issue. His friends and cronies are more important to him.

How very presidential. And of course the MSM seems to be ignoring this hideous insensitivity. No mention of it anywhere, and they're apparently editing out that first 2 minutes when they replay the video.

Be angry - and remember this in 2012.

H/T to Ace of Spades HQ, by way of a comment at Patterico's Pontifications, by way of SayUncle.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Election Day 2009!

Don't forget to Vote today!

I find my self distressingly underprepared for today's election. Part of it may have to do with how much I have going on at the moment. Not only do I work a full-time job as a paralegal, I'm also taking a legal research class at the local community college. I'm an active member of the local rescue squad, and in addition to 8 hours of duty a week, I'm putting together a training on fractures and crush injuries because the state's training budget is dead. The real distraction, though, is that I'm in the process of buying my first house. I don't want to jinx it (knock on wood), so I won't say anymore except that it's more time consuming and nerve wracking than I thought.

A little quick research, though, and I think I've figured out most of my votes:

Governor: One of my main issues this year is Virginia's stupid ban on concealed carry in restaurants. Both candidates have indicated their support for repealing the ban, but my impression is that Bob McDonnell is stronger on other gun rights issues, so he gets my vote.

Lt. Gov.: While I'm definitely in a "throw the bums out" mood when it comes to incumbents, Bob Bolling is the only candidate who bothered to respond to the VCDL candidate survey, so he gets my vote.

Attorney General: Just like the candidates for Lt. Gov., Ken Cuccenilli is the only candidate who bothered to respond to the VCDL candidate survey, so he gets my vote.

Delegate: My candidates for Delegate are Paul Cornett (Independent) and James Shuler (Democrat, incumbent). Like I said before, I'm definitely in a "throw the bums out" mood when it comes to incumbents, and I'm not that fond of Democrats either. Ordinarily, an incumbent Dem running against a new Independent would be the last person I'd vote for. Unfortunately, there's a few problems here. The first one being that I haven't been able to find any information on Cornett except for a few newspaper articles. He's a Virgina Tech student (a senior), and the impression I get from the articles is that he seems to be running because he can, not because he disagrees with any of Shuler's positions. While I don't really trust newspapers, I just can't find any other information about him. Neither candidate responded to the VCDL survey, but I do know that Shuler voted for the repeal of the restaurant CHP ban last year, and also voted to override the Governor's veto of it. That, plus the lack of information on his opponent, means he gets my vote.

Town Council: This is the one I'm the least prepared for. There are 9 candidates for 4 positions on the council, and this is where the "throw the bums out" strategy will come into play the most. Blacksburg has a long history of bad decisions when it comes to attracting businesses to the town. The debacle with the (possible) Wally World at the "First and Main" project was probably the worst. I expect that issue drove off several business that may have been considering moving into town, and the way they drove off Sonic just reinforced the perception. (I don't have links handy, but I'm sure if you Google "Blacksburg Wal-mart" and "Blacksburg Sonic" you'll get the whole story.) First and Main actually has a big banner by the main road saying "[Candidate X] voted against Sonic" - it's that kind of issue in this town. I know one candidate personally, and not only do I agree with a good number of his opinions, I know for a fact that he will change his position if he's shown evidence that he's wrong. That's very important, and yet another reason to vote for him. For the rest, incumbents will be out, but I really don't know enough about the rest. If I can find the Roanoke Times article where they gave their endorsements, that will guide me too - to vote against anyone they endorsed.

Well, that's my thought process (such as it was this year). Again, don't forget to vote!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quote of the Day - October 14, 2009

From Weer'd Beard in comments on a Gay adoption post at SayUncle's:

Being from Mass our state has a LOT of problems, Gay Cooties from letting the homos get married isn’t one of them.
I couldn't argue with that, even if I wanted to.

Friday, October 09, 2009

#^$$#%^!!!!!!

Just found out my dad got laid off - with one year left till he's eligible for retirement.

You can't tell me they don't consider age when they're figuring out who to lay off, whether they're allowed to or not. Bastards.

WTF???!!!

This is ridiculous.

Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday in a stunning decision designed to encourage his initiatives to reduce nuclear arms, ease tensions with the Muslim world and stress diplomacy and cooperation rather than unilateralism.
He hasn't actually accomplished anything! None of these "initiatives" have actually had any success yet! Then there's this:

Nobel observers were shocked by the unexpected choice so early in the Obama presidency, which began less than two weeks before the Feb. 1 nomination deadline.

Less than two weeks! So he was nominated before he even could have accomplished anything! WTF? Even the AP admits he hasn't actually accomplished what he's being recognized for:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee lauded the change in global mood wrought by Obama's calls for peace and cooperation but recognized initiatives that have yet to bear fruit: reducing the world stock of nuclear arms, easing American conflicts with Muslim nations and strengthening the U.S. role in combating climate change. [emphasis mine]
[...]
The Norwegian Nobel Committee lauded the change in global mood wrought by Obama's calls for peace and cooperation but recognized initiatives that have yet to bear fruit: reducing the world stock of nuclear arms, easing American conflicts with Muslim nations and strengthening the U.S. role in combating climate change.
Looks like there may have been some Bush Derangement Syndrome involved, too:

The award appeared to be a slap at President George W. Bush from a committee that harshly criticized Obama's predecessor for his largely unilateral military action in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
I say again, WTF?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Dumb Crook Tricks

County police investigate reported abduction

Roanoke County police are investigating a reported abduction and attempted bank robbery.

Lt. Chuck Mason said a man walked out of his house in Roanoke County near Vinton this morning and was met by a man with a handgun. He was forced to get into a car and then go pick up a female friend, Mason said.

The three drove to the Valley Bank branch on Starkey Road, and the man with the gun ordered them to withdraw money. While he remained outside, the woman and the other man went into the bank. The man handed the teller a note warning the bank to lock the doors.
If you're going to force someone at gunpoint to do something they don't want to do, don't leave them alone to do it in a place they can get help.

Duh!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Quote of the Day - Tam Strikes Again

I love Tam. Her mastery of the ancient arts of snark and verbal vizualization seems to be unparalleled in the blogosphere. Even in a short, simple post about a bike ride, she manages to bring her artistry to bear yet again:
So we pressed north on the Monon, some eleven or twelve miles from Roseholme Cottage to the workface of the trail mine, where jets of high-pressure tax dollars are used to hew bike path out of raw native railbed.

Like I said, an artist at work.

Self-defense works

Via Tam:

Prowling teen gets two shots to chest from homeowner.


A 15-year-old prowler was shot Friday night in a face-off with a South Knox County homeowner, authorities said.

The shooting happened just before 11 p.m. at 837 Lester Road, Knox County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Martha Dooley said. The homeowner, Jonathan Stevens, 20, told deputies he and his wife were watching television and heard their dogs barking.

When Stevens, pistol in hand, walked outside into the driveway with his wife, the teen confronted them with a shotgun, Dooley said.

“He shot twice at the couple,” Dooley said. “He never got in the house. The homeowner shot twice at the suspect.”

Both bullets hit the teen in the chest. The couple weren’t hurt.

The boy ran. Deputies found him lying in the road, Dooley said.

Fifteen years old, and already looking to attack people with a shotgun. No doubt the Brady's will include him in their "tragic child victims of gun violence."

This part is rather chilling:

Three other teenagers lurking outside the home ran, KCSO spokeswoman Ashley Haynes said.
What were four teenage males planning to do to a young couple at gunpoint? Would they have stopped at robbery, or would they have 'entertained' themselves with the man's wife before killing them both?

Even without being shot at right away, that makes it seem like a pretty clear case of self-defense. Remember, despite what the Brady Bunch and most anti-gunners would like you to believe, criminals often will hurt or kill you even if you cooperate (stories collected by Zendo Deb at TFS Magnum). Do you really want to trust your life to the 'honor' and goodwill of someone who is stealing from you and threatening your life?

Even without being shot at right away, this seems like a clear-cut case of self-defense.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Reward increased in killing of two VT students

Reward in killings increases to $50,000.

Hoping to aid the investigation into the killings of two Virginia Tech students last month, a Lynchburg cardiologist has raised $40,000 in reward money since Labor Day. Adding the $10,000 put up by Virginia Tech, the total reward now stands at $50,000.
[...]
Hoyt said anyone interested in contributing to the reward can make checks payable to the CPD Citizen Support Group, c/o Virginia State Police, 3775 W. Main St., Salem, VA 24153.
I'm starting to worry that this one may remain unsolved.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Terrorists take care of themselves

I found this video while wandering teh interwebz today. Premature detonation, a la "Achmed the Dead Terrorist" at about 2:43 into the video.




The best part? As the pilots seem to be preparing to attack after the child has wandered away and the device goes off, you hear one say "Nevermind!"

That video gives me the warm fuzzies.

Edit 9-15-09: Fixed the embedded video.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cash for Clunkers = Fail

Apparently, the "cash for clunkers" program has had some unfortunate side effects.

While most dealers are grateful for the boost, they're paying for it now with fewer customers. The government rebates drew people into the market who otherwise would have kept driving their clunkers due to uncertainty over the sputtering economy. Those customers might have made their purchases later in the year.

"It was good while it lasted," said Phil Warren, sales manager at Toyota Direct in Columbus, Ohio. "Now we're a little bit concerned about what happens next. The program may have just taken a lot of people out of the market."

Making matters worse, many dealers depleted their stocks with clunker sales, and automakers have been slow to ramp up production to replenish the lots. Grahl says Ford has built the cars he ordered but mysteriously hasn't shipped them. So the selection isn't very good for people who do want to buy.

Gee, it's almost like government interference unbalances the free market or something.

As a result, U.S. sales of cars and light trucks rose to 1.3 million in August, a roughly 30 percent increase from July. But now that the clunkers program is over, industry analysts expect poor September sales, even lower than the July rate.

And then, of course, there is the usual government efficiency.

Kesel, like many dealers, still hasn't been paid for most of his clunker sales.

"Most dealers are in a cash-flow crunch because of the federal government not paying up on this," he said.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 03, 2009

UPDATE; Still no suspects in recent double-murder.

Update 9-11-09: Task force set up to investigate Montgomery County double homicide.

A multi-agency task force has been formed to investigate the double homicide of two Virginia Tech students.
[...]
The task force is made up of officers from the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office; the Blacksburg, Christiansburg and Virginia Tech police departments; the Virginia State Police; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the United States Marshall's Office; and the United States Forest Service.

What a list! It seems like everybody who can be involved is involved. I can see the US Marshals, and the Forest Service - it happened in a National Forest, so it's federal land and under the Marshals' jurisdiction, and the Forest Service is expected - and the FBI, while unexpected, is not surprising, but the ATF? How did they get involved?


Virginia Tech offers $10,000 reward in killings.

Virginia Tech is offering a $10,000 reward for information that helps solve the killings of Tech students Heidi Childs and David Meltzer last week in the Jefferson National Forest.
[...]
Police are following leads and tips, but believe the killings may have been random because investigators have been unable to find a motive.
No leads, no idea if the killer is still around, or if or when he'll decide to kill again.

Be careful, and remember the first step in self-defense is being aware of your surroundings.

Quote of the Day - 3 September 2009

From Roberta X:
Somewhere around here not too far away, there is some person or entity big enough and mean enough to have depantsed a giant and made it stick.
Yeah, that would worry me, too.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

On Self Defense

Rich at Shots Across the Bow has a good post up about one of the fundamentals of self-defense - avoiding the need to defend yourself. You should read the whole thing, but here are some

Today, my son texted me and asked me how much it cost to get a Handgun Carry Permit. I gave him the ball park figures for the class and the application. He thanked me and told me that his roommate had been robbed at gunpoint the night before.,

Yeah, I called him immediately.
That should prompt a call from any parent.

"Your roommate was robbed by two men with guns right at your front door, on a well lit street, and they got away clean. You live in a bad neighborhood."
This is really the only point I disagree with. While crime happens more frequently in "bad neighborhoods" (which is usually why they're considered bad neighborhoods), it's certainly not limited to bad neighborhoods. This could have happened in the most upscale, hoity-toity part of Beverly Hills or the most run down part of Detroit. This one incident, by itself, doesn't make it a bad neighborhood. Crime knows no boundaries.

"The first step in self defense is being aware of your surroundings." [emphasis mine]
That is the money quote, right there. I'll repeat it - The first step in self defense is being aware of your surroundings. The three steps of self-defense are avoid, evade, fight. You cannot avoid danger if you are not aware of your surroundings before you enter the area of danger. If you take nothing else from his post, take that truth with you.

His final paragraph sums things up nicely.

Anyway, I believe I got the point across to my son that carrying a gun is only one small part of self defense. The first piece is maintaining an awareness of your surroundings, and the people in them. The second is forethought. Have a plan. Know what you're going to do when things go south. The third piece is to have multiple layers of defense, but that's a post for another day.
The idea of awareness as the first part of self-defense is especially important in my town today. It seems there are still no leads in last weeks double homocide in Jefferson National Forest. There is no indication that there is a suspect, and no way to know if the killer is still around or if he's fled the area, if he lives here or was just passing through, if he targeted the victims or if they were randomly chosen, or if it was a one time event or if he'll do it again.

Maintain awareness, please.

(h/t to SayUncle)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hokies - Be cautious, be aware, be careful!

Update: Police continue investigation into Virginia Tech students' deaths. Still no suspects. Everybody be careful out there.

A double homocide of two Virginia Tech students Thursday morning.

The bodies were discovered about 8 a.m. by a man walking his dog. Metzler’s body was inside a car; Childs’ was outside, [Sheriff Tommy] Whitt said.
He did not say how many times or where on their bodies they appeared to have been shot. No weapons were found, he said.
[...]
Caldwell Fields is a popular weekend hangout spot for Tech students, authorities said. “We are going to step up our patrols in that area even though we think it was a random act of brutal violence,” Whitt said.
There are apparently no suspects at this time. Whoever did this is still wandering around free, and there's no telling if he's still in the area or not, or if he'll do it again.

Maintaining condition yellow is highly recommended until this killer is found. So is carrying, if you can.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Quote of the Day - 10 Aug 2009

from DMFA webcomic.

"Friends don't let friends become zombies."

Wow! Some Grade A PSH from Time!

Now this is some serious PSH. Just in the first paragraph:

The camcorder shakes as it films the thud of thick .50 caliber bullets ripping through a steel plate target in the heat of the Arizona desert. Panning across the jagged rocks and cacti, the camera then focuses on the shooter: a smiling Mexican sitting down on the dust as he uses both hands to fire the huge state-of-the-art weapon that can tear through tank armor. He was the happy customer, having bought the killing machine from an Arizona gun shop for about $21,000. The grainy video was seized by ATF agents in a raid on a weapon traffickers' safe house in Yuma. One man in the film was arrested and faces charges. But the man who showed off his shooting on the video is believed to be south of the border using the cannon-like gun to wage Mexico's relentless drug war.


Lets see:
a smiling Mexican sitting down on the dust as he uses both hands to fire the huge state-of-the-art weapon that can tear through tank armor.

If all it takes to "tear through tank armor" is a .50BMG, why do tanks have to carry that much, much larger gun and use depleted uranium rounds to do the same thing? Why does the A-10 Thunderbolt II need it's 30 mm GAU-8/A Avenger Gatling gun, also firing depleted uranium rounds, to do that?

He was the happy customer, having bought the killing machine from an Arizona gun shop for about $21,000.

Loaded phrasing. Bad Reporter!

But the man who showed off his shooting on the video is believed to be south of the border using the cannon-like gun to wage Mexico's relentless drug war.

More loaded phrasing. Don't they teach journalism in journalism school anymore?

Remember, that's just the first paragraph. I haven't even finished reading the rest of it yet. I may do more later.

Show me the Money!

The bailout money, that is. Seems that nobody can figure out where it all went.

WASHINGTON — Although hundreds of well-trained eyes are watching over the $700 billion that Congress last year decided to spend bailing out the nation's financial sector, it's still difficult to answer some of the most basic questions about where the money went.

Despite a new oversight panel, a new special inspector general, the existing Government Accountability Office and eight other inspectors general, those charged with minding the store say they don't have all the weapons they need. Ten months into the Troubled Asset Relief Program, some members of Congress say that some oversight of bailout dollars has been so lacking that it's essentially worthless.

Everybody who's surprised about this, raise your hand.

Why?

Did you really think such a massive outlay to private companies that were going under because of bad financial practices was not going to be misappropriated and hidden?

Did you really think that the same government "oversight" that failed to notice these companies artificially inflated values and financial reports would be able to keep track of all that money once these same companies got hold of it?

Do we really want the same government that couldn't keep track of the massive TARP funding to be in charge of our health care?

Friday, August 07, 2009

Problems with blogger

Update 2: Looks like it's working from home, too. Thanks Google!

Update
: It seems to be working from work, now. We'll find out about home in about 30 minutes.

Is anyone else getting this? When I try to access my blog page, I get this message:

We're sorry...

... but your computer or network may be sending automated queries. To protect our users, we can't process your request right now.

See Google Help for more information.

When I go to the help link, it says there may be a CAPTCHA box, but I don't get one, so it says to "contact my service provider" to find where the automated queries are coming from, and they'll give me access when the queries are stopped. I used the "send more information" link, but there's not much there.

The confusing part is, this is happening both from home and from work - 2 totally separate networks and locations, and on computers using two different operating systems (Linux at home, and XP Pro at work), and only with blogger. I can access other Google pages with no problem from the same computers. From home, it started while I was there for lunch, and at work, it started when I got back from lunch.

It's not happening with every blogger site, either. I can access Jay G's blog, but not Tam's. It's also not affecting anything except blogger.

If I try a different access route (from my google accounts page, or from the "new post" link) I can access it, but only once. Subsequent attempts from the same origin point give me the "We're sorry" page again.

Google, if you're reading this, this is a more detailed description than I could give from the help pages. PLEASE FIX IT!!!

Bad news for TGSCOM, Inc.

According to this story at the Roanoke Times (which appears to be an AP story):

The gunman who killed three women and wounded nine others at a Pittsburgh-area health club bought accessories for a handgun from the same Wisconsin-based dealer that sold a gun to the Virginia Tech shooter.

Forty-eight-year-old George Sodini bought the accessories from TGSCOM Inc. of Green Bay, Wis.

Note that he only bought accessories, not the actual weapons. There's no indication of what kind of accessories, or whether they played a part in (or have any relevance to) the actual shootings.

I fully expect yet another PSH anti-gun editorial from the RT soon, calling for TGSCOM to be shut down, or for banning internet gun sales, or something similar. I'll point it out if I see one.

Update:

TGSCOM Inc. sold a Glock Magloader and a Glock Factory Magazine to 48-year-old George Sodini for $46 in April 2008, company president Eric Thompson said.

It was not immediately clear if Sodini used the accessories during his attack on a health club in Collier Township, Pa., on Tuesday.

So they still don't know if this is relevant, but they're going to report on it anyway.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Pet Peeve #1 - Comparison Shopping

You know how every once in a while, Yahoo will have one of those "how to save money" or "where you're wasting money" articles on their main page? One thing they like to suggest is "comparison shopping" at the grocery store. You know, comparing price per ounce for an item, which usually shows that the bulk packaging is cheaper, or that one brand in a different size is cheaper than another? It irritates me, because I always find one glaring problem when I try that:

The store's tags are never in the same unit from one brand or size to another.

Just as an example, I had to buy toilet paper the other day. Brand X only came in a pack of 6 rolls, Brand Y only came in a pack of 12. I've used both brands before, and I really don't find one to be better than the other, but it was getting towards the end of the month (and the end of the paycheck), and this wasn't a discretionary - or even precautionary - purchase. So I decided to check the unit price of Brand X compared to Brand Y, and found the problem.

The shelf tag for Brand X listed price per roll. The shelf tag for Brand Y listed price per square foot.

Now, they both listed the total number of ft^2 in the package, and I am capable of doing that kind of math in my head. But it gets difficult to do that math in my head while also keeping track of the total amount I'm spending on groceries. I really don't want to lose that total, because overdraft fees suck.

I've noticed this with other products, too. You try to compare food brand A to food brand B, but brand A shows price per ounce, and brand B shows price per cup. How many ounces are there in a cup again? Even worse are the ones where one brand has the unit price in imperial measurements, and the other has it in metric units. Is a 6-pack of 12 oz cans more cost effective than a 2 liter bottle?

Different brands of the same item should have the same units shown for the unit price. It shouldn't be that difficult for the same computers that print the shelf labels to standardize them.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Quote of the Day

...courtesy of Tam (of course - she's always good for that).

"If you have a T. Rex running loose in the Jurassic, damned skippy you've got some peril; somebody's lobbing theropods across millions of years to where they don't belong."
"Lobbing theropods across millions of years." Now there's an image I'll take with me 'till my dying day.

Random Discovery

It's been a while, hasn't it?

Tonight, while doing a little internet research for responding to a comment in the Roanoke Times editorial blog, I discovered something interesting. I can't quite decide if it's amusing or disturbing that this law is still on the books in Massachusetts.

PART IV. CRIMES, PUNISHMENTS AND PROCEEDINGSIN [sic] CRIMINAL CASES

TITLE I. CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS

CHAPTER 272. CRIMES AGAINST CHASTITY, MORALITY, DECENCY AND GOOD ORDER

Chapter 272: Section 36. Blasphemy

Section 36. Whoever wilfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching God, his creation, government or final judging of the world, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing to contempt and ridicule, the holy word of God contained in the holy scriptures shall be punished by imprisonment in jail for not more than one year or by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars, and may also be bound to good behavior.

You know, if anyone actually got charged with this, it would get thrown out on 1st Amendment grounds so fast you'd hear the sonic boom in Alaska.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ZOMG!!!! - Mexican Gun Canard on NPR

NPR is trying to resurrect the Mexican Gun Canard now. There was a segment on today's Morning Edition claiming two-thirds of the guns seized from the Mexican drug gangs are traced to the US. Not even two-thirds of guns traced, just an absolute two-thirds. They didn't even slip it in quietly, like most MSM reports have done.

Remember, to kill a zombie, you have to destroy the brain.

[Edit: Maybe we should see if Robb can do a graphic for this. I'm picturing a zombie in a sombrero holding an AK-47, maybe standing on a mountain of "assault" rifles.]

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Mexican Gun Canard Rises Again

We thought it had died, as it should. But like a zombie, it's lifeless corpse keeps rising from the grave. Yet another example at the Roanoke Times:

Legal gun sales in this country facilitate this illicit trade.

According to federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives data collected over the past three years, more than 90 percent of firearms traced after being seized in Mexico are from the United States.

It's hardly a mystery where many of them come from. The ATF agent in charge of its Houston division noted in a New York Times story in April there are about 1,500 licensed gun dealers in that area alone.

No mention of the fact that 90 percent of firearms traced is not 90 percent of firearms seized. That little fact is not mentioned, and left for the observant reader to figure out on his own - probably in the hope that the majority of readers won't notice it.

No mention of the fact that it doesn't make economical sense for the Mexican drug gangs to find someone who can pass the background check who would be willing to do a straw purchase, and front the approximately $800-$1000 the average "assault weapon" costs at a legitimate dealer, when they can send someone to their south and buy the same weapon for only a couple of hundred dollars on the black market there.

No mention of how many of the weapons traced to the US were sold to the Mexican government, or another South American government first. (How many governments or revolutionary movements did we prop up during the Cold War, anyway?)

This was an editorial, so there's not the obligation to present an unbiased summary, but this smacks of a deliberate twisting of the facts. Even in an editorial, this is irresponsible and unethical behavior for a newspaper that wants to claim journalistic integrity.

Something we tend to forget

Atom Smasher over at Men are Not Potatoes mentions something that tends to get forgotten in the 2nd Amendment debate.
Link

"I think the Framers would have been far more comfortable with the locals having an Abrams and a Mark 19 and an F-22 than with the government having one. Hell - they didn't even want a standing army, let alone one that could run roughshod over the citizenry." [emphasis mine]

That's important to remember when someone throws out the old "it only applies to the militia" argument. The founders did not want a standing army. This is mentioned in many of the constitutions of the original 13 states. For example, Section I, Article 13 of the Virginia Constitution:

"That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power." [emphasis mine]

The founders had a deep distrust of standing armies, and they didn't want one - they wanted a militia made up of ordinary citizens, that could organize into an army if a war occurred, because they knew it a militia made up of the people could not be easily turned against the people.

So why would they restrict the right to keep and bear arms to a select few in a standing military?

(On another note, Men Are Not Potatoes has been added to my blogroll. Welcome!)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Remember

Memorial Court atop War Memorial Chapel at Virginia Tech.


Cenotaph honoring Virginia Tech Alumni who have received the Congressional Medal of Honor.


Each pillar is engraved with the names and class year of VT alumni who have died while in service. This is the most recent section.

Remember

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Range Report - The Ruger Mk III, and Reinforcing the Basics

Today was the first day at the range with the new Ruger Mk III. The verdict?

I love it. Just like I thought I would. The trigger is crisp, clean, and surprising (like it's supposed to be). This pistol performs better than I will ever be capable of. Having grown up on my dad's Mk I, I expected the Mk III to be a superb gun, and it actually surpassed my expectations. It was worth every penny - especially when you consider the fact that a brick of 500 rounds of .22LR costs less than a box of 50 rounds of either .45 or .380.

This trip, before I fired the Ruger, I took the opportunity to test the Hornady Critical Defense carry rounds I got for the Kel-Tec. My main concern was that they feed and fire reliably. I don't have enough for real practice with those, and they're expensive ($22 for 25 rounds). With only 25 rounds, I had exactly enough to shoot 2 magazines and have enough left to load 2 magazines and have one in the pipe for carry. So that's all I shot - 12 rounds. I had no problems.

I did, however, notice that I was shooting extrememly low. I had printed targets on regular paper, and while I was aiming at the bullseye, I was only just hitting the bottom of the paper at 10 yards (well, 10 paces really, but close enough). This confused me, because last time I took this pistol out, I was grouping right around my point of aim at 7 yards (it was a big group, but that's just me, and why I need to practice more - thus, the Mk III purchase).

Once I had run a few magazines through the Ruger, I got the Kel-Tec out again, and loaded up with the Winchester white box ammo I picked up last week, and tried to figure out what was going on. The first round surprised me - the recoil was noticably heavier with the Winchester than the Hornady. Then I realized, the FMJ rounds are more massive than the JHP, so recoil would naturally be stronger. Somewhere in the second magazine, I realized something:

I had developed a flinch.

It was a #6, actually. I was dipping the muzzle downward just before the trigger break. I also realized that I had been doing the same thing with the Ruger, but had corrected it without even realizing it at the time.

You should understand something. I have been shooting since my parents decided I was old enough to do so safely - around 6 or 7 years old. So when I realized I had developed a flinch, I saw it as a personal affront. How dare my neuromuscular system do that to me? I was determined to fix the problem, right now!

I spent the rest of the evening - and the rest of the box of .380 - working my way through that. By the time I got towards the end of the box, I was once again clustering my shots around the point of aim. I also learned that 10 yards may be better than 7 for reinforcing the basics - it seems to make me work harder to compensate for my essential tremors, and therefore makes me more successful at doing so. I was actually getting better grouping than at 10 yards than at 7.

On the other hand, the longer I shoot, the worse the tremors get. Towards the end of the box, I had a couple of flyers, one of which was fairly devastating (click to embiggenate):

If you can't tell from the crappy cell phone pic, one of my shots cut the wooden upright I staple the cardboard to (and yes, that's an old pizza box - it was convenient, and, most importantly, free). It wasn't low, though. Here's a close up of the damage. You can see there were actually 3 shots that hit the upright - one clean hole, one graze, and the killer shot:


I took that as a sign that it was time to go home.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Seducers Foiling

Post title courtesy of the Internet Anagram Server.

Other anagrams of my blog title:
A Disclose Gunfire
A Discoursing Feel
A Fluoresced Gin Is (good to drink?)
A Diligences For Us
A Regicide Fun Loss
A Recognised Flu Is
A Coifed Sirens Lug
A Fecund Glossier I
A Focused Rile Sign
A Secluding Foe Sir
(h/t to Robb Allen)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

New acquisition and Gun Pr0n

Well, I did it. Like I said in my last post, I was leaning toward the Ruger, and I got it.


Nice, isn't it? I got a brick of 500 rounds of .22LR for less than a box of 50 .45ACP or .380ACP. This should make practicing a lot cheaper, and therefore more frequent. Hopefully, I'll be able to get to the range in the next couple of weeks. A range report will be forthcoming when I do.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Score!

I figured I'd join the crowd. We get regular bonuses at work, and since I just got one, I went out to my local gun shop to take a more in depth look at some of the toys I've been eying for a while. Well, the two model 1898 Mausers I'd been eying for the last two months had, of course, been sold (this morning, too, dang it!), but they do have a Lee-Enfield rifle that looked interesting. It looks like a No. 4, Mk. I. I could use a good rifle. I've also been debating between getting either a Rock Island 1911 that they have had for a while, or a Ruger Mark III. I need a .22 pistol for practicing the basics without breaking the bank, but I really want a 1911.

I didn't buy any guns today, but while I was there, i got this:


I like my local gun shop. They have apparently started holding back a few boxes of .380ACP off each shipment for customers who bought .380 pistols from them, and to sell to customers when they buy a new .380 pistol. That last part's just good business sense. It keeps them from losing a sale when somebody might otherwise decide not to buy that Kel-Tec (or whatever), because it's no good without ammo.

This gives me both carry and practice ammunition for the Kel-Tec, and twice as much practice ammunition for my PT145 as I usually get. Of course, this purchase set me back $118.00.

I was leaning towards getting the Ruger anyway - need over desire, and all that - but this helped push me even further in that direction. The Ruger is cheaper than the 1911 (about $345 for the Ruger, $425 for the 1911), and I tend to get frugal after I lay out a bunch of money on something.

And I really do need a .22 to practice with. Sigh.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The "Wal-Mart's out of ammo" meme

Well, to join the others, you see here the selection at my local Wally World.

Most of what you see there is rifle ammo. The rest is .22 and revolver ammunition (.44 Magnum and .38 Special). Nothing for semi-auto pistols at all. (The shelf on the far right, that you can only see a corner of, is shotgun shells.)

And, this seems to be a growing phenomenon, too (click to embiggenate).


I don't normally buy ammo at Wally World. It's actually my fourth choice when I'm looking for ammo. I try to support my local gun shop. Unfortunately, he's been out of .45 and .380 for a while, now. He actually has a waiting list for certain calibers, and when he gets a shipment I don't think he gets all the way through the list before he's out again.

The other local gun shop (that's a little farther away than my usual guy) had some .45 last month, but was completely out of .380, too.* The distance isn't really a problem - it's not really very far, comparatively - but their customer service is not as good as my usual place, so I don't really like to go there. I'm just as likely to go to Dick's. I expect a lower level of customer service there, so I'm not as disappointed.

It'll sure be nice when this shortage is over.

* (This was before I traded the Colt .25 for the Kel-Tec, so I did get to feed both my guns on that trip. I also learned why Wolf ammo is so much cheaper than everything else - and how badly it sucks.)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Obama gets his first Supreme Court pick

Justice David Souter is retiring at the end of this term in June.

This likely doesn't change much. He's been one of the reliably liberal justices, and Obama will likely choose another liberal. On the other hand, justices often end up surprising even the presidents who chose them.

The Dems now have (or they should by that point) a filibuster proof majority if the votes break down along party lines, so he'll probably get whoever he wants unless there's something seriously wrong with whoever he nominates (like they haven't paid their taxes, or som... Oh. Right.).

Souter joined both dissenting opinions in Heller v. DC, and I'd be willing to bet that one of Obama's "acid tests" for any nominee will be about guns, so from a gun rights perspective there's little hope for a positive change,* and we're probably looking at the same thing for most other key "conservative" issues, too. By the same token, there's not much risk for a negative change, either. Barring any surprises, this does not seem to be a game-changing vacancy.


* I did not do that on purpose. On the other hand, I left it there when I noticed it. [bugs bunny voice]Ain't I a stinker?[/bugs bunny voice]

90% of self defense is YOU

There are no dangerous weapons, only dangerous people.

A 17-year-old high school marching band student beat up two assailants who tried to mug her as she walked to school in this high desert community about 40 miles north of Los Angeles, sheriff's officials said Tuesday.

The girl punched one of the men in the nose, kicked the other in the groin and beat both with her large baton before she ran away on Friday morning, officials said.

Firearms may be the most effective defensive weapons, but it's important to remember that they're not the only effective defensive weapons.

It's also worth remembering that criminals will attack anyone they think might be a good victim. Maintaining condition yellow whenever you might be vulnerable is the first rule of self defense.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Kel-Tec P3AT - First Range Report

I managed to scrape up a little unexpected free time today, so I decided I needed to get my new acquisition out to the range. (I love it when the boss walks in and says "Go ahead and finish up what you're doing, we're going to cut out a little early today." But I digress...)

I only had one box of 50 .380, so this was more of a "will it go bang when I pull the trigger" range day than real range time, but that was all I was planning on. I won't carry something in the real world until I've had a chance to run some ammunition through it and make sure it will, y'know, work if I actually need it.

First, the good. As I expected, this gun is more accurate than I am. With the exception of about 4 or 5 flyers, all rounds were on the paper. I attribute those flyers to me getting used to the gun, i.e., finding the right grip, the right trigger pull, and so forth. Recoil is brisk, but not as bad as I'd feared. I wouldn't want to go through a hundred rounds without a break - in fact, 37 rounds was getting to the limit - but it's tolerable, and it's really not a range gun anyway.

I did notice that even with a firm grip, I was having to re-adjust my grip every few rounds because the gun would shift a bit in my hand. If you limp-wrist this one, you'll know it, because it will end up turning in your hand.

Now, the bad. After the third magazine (18 rounds), I started getting failures to eject that jammed the weapon. These were not "tap and rack" jams, either. Recovery required removing the magazine, pulling the slide back, pointing the muzzle to the sky, and shaking it until the jammed casing fell out. On my last 3 magazines, this happened 4 times, and the last time the case jammed in the chamber tightly enough that I was reduced to using the edge of the table to push the slide back so I could use my leatherman to grab and pull the case out (which didn't work. I finally got it out when the slide slipped and went forward with enough force that the extractor engaged the rim and pulled it out - like it's supposed to do in the first place). It did run smoothly for those first three magazines, though.

I suspect that this was a result of dirty ammo (American Eagle). The brass I recovered* was pretty filthy, and I assume some of that stayed in the gun. But still, this was rather... irritating. I'll get a better idea once I clean it.

On the other hand, if I need that many reloads in a social situation, I'm pretty much FUBAR'd no matter what.


*Here's a tip - If you use a public range and only want to recover your brass - because you're not sure where all the other brass on the ground has been, or how long it's been there - take a Sharpie and mark across the base of the round. It's real easy to just drag the marker across the row of ammo while it's in the box. Pick whatever color you think will stand out best, and it will let you distinguish your brass from everyone else's, and can make it easier to pick out without having to bend over to see that it's not yours. I used a metallic silver Sharpie this time around, but I think something that contrasts better with the brass and silver of the casing (blue, maybe) would be a better choice.