The Day My Life Changed – Part 5: The Awakening

If you didn’t read about the last thing I can remember before this, go back and read Part 4.

I was laying on my back on the floor. There were people in the room; other volunteers. Jennifer was on one side of my head, with my arm in her arms. One of our dear friends was cradling my head in her lap. She was kissing me on the forehead and chanting in a shushing tone something along the lines of, “it’s going to be okay,” or “please be okay,” or “you’re going to be okay,” or maybe simply, “you’re okay.” I haven’t yet had the opportunity to ask her about this, and it’s obviously spotty for me at this point. She’s been in nursing school for a while. Between her and Jennifer, I was already in good hands.

When you have a seizure, your brain has a hard reboot. There is no consciousness in the event. Neurons fire at random. I understand that mine was quite a bit more violent than what I’ve witnessed in the past. They used to call this a “grand mal seizure,” but now it’s called a “tonic clonic seizure.” As it turns out, I just discovered a great new cocktail: rocks glass, ice cubes, pour in bitters and tonic water, SHAKE VIOLENTLY and bite your tongue!

After Jenni and our friend coaxing me into consciousness, the next thing I remember are the EMTs. Disclaimer: this is where memory gets really scrambled, so although I won’t claim anyone had tentacles, I’m probably not describing people or events accurately. A man and a woman whom I did not recognize were standing over me, big smiles and anime eyes.

“Who are these guys?” I asked. That floor felt so comfortable. It was a good nap, apparently. Everything was kind of numb like I’d just had a really deep sleep. I recognized my friends, but not these two strangers. The man looked latino and had a goatee. I can’t describe the woman with him, but they were both sweet.

“We’re here to take you to the Emergency Room,” big smiles.

I slowly shook my head, “Why would you do that?

Still big smiles, “because you just had a seizure.”

“No,” I protested, “I didn’t have any seizure.” After the fact, Jennifer has said that I had an attitude like “nah, you’ve got the wrong guy.” LOL!

“Yeah, you did,” said Jennifer.

“Can you try to sit up…”

So, I popped up off the floor and crossed my legs, ‘Indian-style.’

“…slowly? Okay, then….”

“Can you tell me your name?”

“Evyl. Evyl Robot.”

“Do you know what year it is?”

“Um… Ummmm…. Wait, I’ve got this.”

I still didn’t want to go to the ER, and said so.

“Can you tell me who the president is?”

“Uh…”

The second-mentioned founding RGS member looked at me, concern in his eyes, “I really think you should go to the hospital.”

I looked to Jennifer who agreed. “Do I have to ride in the ambulance?” I asked.

“Oh, no,” she said, “I’M not driving you.”

*sigh.* “Fine.”

They coached me to climb onto the stretcher to whisk me away for medical treatment. *growl.*

On Monday, come back to read about the ambulance ride in Part 6.

The Day My Life Changed – Part 4: The Event

If you haven’t read about the drive to the Fairgrounds in Part 3, you really should.

We had set up a table in the volunteer break room specifically for the photo team. There were tables all around the room, prepped for the convention. We had a floor map taped to the wall so we could physically check off which artists and vendors we had taken pictures of. Snacks and drinks sprawled across two tables for the volunteers. Jennifer had already told me several times that I didn’t look right and I should sit down and take it easy, but I’d have none of that. Work through it, you know?

Several years ago, there was another con that was an absolute disaster; not our con, mind you. The attendance was pathetic and a feature they had was a “ball pit,” which consisted of a small kiddy pool with the plastic balls in it. Their few exhibitors were understandably dissatisfied, so the con offered them “complimentary time in the ball pit” as consolation. It was so funny to us that our people set up a small ball pit in our volunteer room. Ours was an inflatable unit with net walls, big enough for two adults to lay down in, or several children to play in.

This is when my memory starts to get a little spotty. A lot of the central event memories only came back to me later, for what that’s worth. It was weird to have the memories start filling out in the weeks after. But, I’m two-thousand words into this already, and I’m only just now getting to the point, so I should digress. What I’ll give you next is the complete memory as it is now, rather than feed it I perceived it flowing back to me. If that makes any sense at all.

I was in the break room at about 2:00 p.m., helping another volunteer set up the aforementioned ball pit. The fixture itself is packaged in a nylon bag like a camping tent. We spread it out on the floor, and there was an air pump to keep it inflated like a bouncy house. I remember spreading it out, and either he or I attached the air pump. Then, I remember leaning over to straighten out some of the material as it inflated, and things went black. Do you know what it feels like when you stand up too fast and you see stars or sometimes black? That’s what it felt like, but I didn’t get up from it. It felt like being sick, and then nothing.

Tomorrow, we’ll hear about how it felt to come to in Part 5.

The Day My Life Changed – Part 3: The Truck

Here’s a link to Part 2, in case you missed it.

So, I drove the stupid truck. The weather sucked. It wasn’t exactly raining so much as misting. It was like Peru rain; just enough to run the wipers and make the road slick. In a truck that I was unfamiliar with that weighs like a million pounds. With an uneven load in it. Because the guys who loaded it don’t move stuff for a living (not a slam, God love them), but are a bunch of retail employees, accountants, and bankers. And, it was really windy. In a box truck. With the aerodynamics of a sail boat. I kept sipping on my Coke, trying to stay relaxed, despite feeling the load settling, and the wind rocking the NPR like a pirate’s ship in a storm on the high seas. With Jennifer leading the way, many-a-car cut between us to mash their brakes and hit an exit ramp, as though they wanted to get squashed by tons of video games. Despite my efforts, I white-knuckled that steering wheel all the way to our destination. Pulling into the gate at the Fairgrounds felt like the greatest accomplishment in the world. But, the trip wasn’t over yet.

I had never noticed how narrow the roads are at the Fairgrounds, but then, I’d always driven there in an imported compact car or compact truck, not the freaking Technodrome. I was doing okay until I went through this one intersection. I stopped at the stop sign, turned on the signal to turn right, and pulled out. Apparently, I didn’t swing out enough. I didn’t so much hit the stop sign, as scrape it. Incidentally, that stop sign was exactly at the same height as the rivets on the truck’s box, so, they strummed that stop sign like a guitar all the way down the box. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop… Of course, from my perspective, it was more like, “pop *fuck* pop *fuck* pop *God, please make this stop!* pop *ooh fuck*, etc., et al. Some of our aforementioned millennials in the party were trailing, and I could hear them snickering in my mind.

By the time we got to the venue, I had to pull the seat cushion out of my butt crack and pry my fingers out of the grooves that I’d crushed into the steering wheel. Backing the freaking building on wheels into the State Fair building was no big deal as compared to dealing with traffic with it on the highway. We got the thing unloaded, and I threw the keys at someone, disavowing it for eternity. Through the morning, I found myself irritable, drowsy, nauseated, and foul. I continued to sip at my Coke until it was empty. I helped set up display cases, arcade cabinets, tables, and stuff in general. I drank some coffee. I took pictures, and some time lapse video. Someone brought in a couple bags from McDonald’s filled with sausage biscuits and cheeseburgers. I still had no appetite, but I felt like I should eat.

I picked out a cheeseburger and took a couple nibbles. It was hard to swallow. I was drinking a lot of water because I knew that dehydration was a real risk. The place looked great! There were a couple of cars that got staged in the building; a DeLorean, the actual yellow and blue Jeep pickup from the movie Twister, a Jeep done up in Jurassic Park theme. We continued to set up exhibitor tables with table cloths and everything we’d need for the weekend. Between setting up fixtures, and unloading gear, and taking pictures, I’d make my way back to that same cheeseburger and nibbled at it a little more, force it down. I’d developed a cough. I assumed that it was allergies from the dust stirred up from the tables and table cloths and storage contents. Jennifer asked the Twister truck owner if we could set a camera in the bed, and he assured us that there was no way we could hurt it. My cough kept getting worse. I’d kind of gag at the end of the cough. Nasty allergies!

Tomorrow, I’ll let you in on what this is all leading up to in Part 4.

The Day My Life Changed – Part 1: Background

I’ve been actively taking first responder training for my whole life. I was in first-aid classes as a child. in my adult life, I’ve taken classes in CPR, AED, etc… For that matter, I know how to properly apply a tourniquet or chest seal. I’ve been taught how to respond to someone having a seizure. Jennifer and I have had opportunity to respond to other individuals seizing on two separate occasions. Thinking back, we could have responded better, but to my knowledge, both individuals made through it just fine. Any landing you can walk away from is a good one, right? So, I’ve seen seizures, but I had no idea what recovery was like.

Also, I’ve been healthy my entire life. I’m 39. I once had a baby tooth extracted, but I’ve never had surgery. I had a green stick fracture in a finger as a small child, when my finger got slammed in the back side of a door at church, but I’ve never broken a bone. I’ve had cuts and scrapes, but I’ve never had stitches. I’m not on any medications, and I have no significant allergies. Any time I’ve filled out a medical screening, it’s been “no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no….”

I’m redacting and/or changing names here, as I’ve asked no permissions, with the exception of my lovely wife, with whom I’ve been discussing this post for quite some time. Also, I won’t swear that any of this is perfectly accurate, but my memory and perception of events.

About four years ago, our teenage son asked about “vintage or retro video games, you know, the old ones…” So, Jennifer and I dug through our parents’ attics and got out our Atari 2600s, her original Nintendo NES, my original XBOX, and whatever other goodies we could find. The three of us got to playing the oldies. I went on a mission to the junk shops and garage sales, and wound up expanding the collection of stuff. It was good times. Jennifer forwarded me an email from work, in which they mentioned Super! BitCon, an upstart, local video game convention. Ticket prices were cheap, and they advertised an emphasis on older video games. We had to go. We spent entirely too much money. If memory serves me correctly, the first SNES game I ever purchased was “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past,” in 2014. It was wonderful. After the event, I did a little social digging and we wound up involved with the Okc chapter of Retro Gamer’s Society (which is the original chapter, IIRC).

By the second year of Super! BitCon, Jennifer and I were the official leads of the Photography Team for the convention. That first (second) year, I didn’t have my own DSLR, so I borrowed my Dad’s first or second generation Canon Rebel with its kit lenses. The building was dark, and I felt totally outclassed, watching other photographers with their bleeding-edge Nikon and Canon gear. Regardless, I worked the aging gear and captured some beautiful and compelling images. There was already a spark telling me that I needed to pursue professional imagery work. This pretty well ignited the fire that pushed me down that rabbit hole.

So, for the last three years of Super! BitCon, we have been not only Photography Lead, but regular, workhorse volunteers for the convention. Fast forward to Saturday, April 22, 2017. We attended the final preparation meeting for the con. We had assembled our photography team. We were pensively ready. I was confident in the members of our team, but we were rag-tag. There were people that I wanted to get for the (fully volunteer) team that couldn’t make it, and one or two that I hadn’t initially counted on that jumped into the fray. We were good to go, though. As the other volunteers were shuffling out of the conference room to enjoy what was left of their Saturday, one of the club’s founding members caught my attention.

“What are you doing at six in the morning on Friday?” he asked me.

I laughed, “sleeping. That was my plan, anyway. Why? What do you have in mind?”

He tipped his head and said, “I wouldn’t not want you to be at the storage unit to help load the truck.”

“Hmmm…” I sighed, “I think we can probably work that out.”

Please do come back tomorrow, and I’ll tell you about how that morning played out, in Part 2.

Interesting Times. But, Let’s Not Talk Politics.

It seems that cycling has become a more popular hobby of late, in my hometown anyway, but I suspect the local is not a completely unique sample section. Sure, I have memories from childhood of the group of Sunday cyclers who would clog local roadways in their tour around town, but it seems that more and more regular people are making a more regular habit of donning their cycling uniforms and taking to the streets on their bikes. A friend of my parents, who is a local restaurant owner, regularly bikes fifty or so miles around the metro area. My brother recently purchased himself a new bicycle that he rides around the University campus from class to class. I still have my Grandpa’s old Peugeot that I’d like to restore; I just wouldn’t mind spending some time on two wheels again, as it’s been since my teens that I last really rode a bike on a regular basis.

They are fascinating devices. Today’s carbon fiber wonders with intricate gearing mechanisms make my childhood Huffy look like a dinosaur. The Oklahoma Museum of Science has a small but interesting exhibit of historical bicycles. Although it almost seems there is more lore about the origins of the bicycle than history, it is widely accepted that the first one was invented in 1817 in Germany by Charles, Baron Von Drais. Unlike the modern bicycles that we know, this early example had no drive mechanism, but did sport a padded seat and a steerable front wheel. To all you cyclists out there, did you realize that your hobby turns 200 next year?

Back when foundational garments for women included girdles, these now archaic garments were being made from rubber up until the material was in a shortage due to the efforts in World War II. In response to the rubber shortage, Dr. Joseph Shivers, PhD, working for DuPont, began research to develop a new material that could be used as a replacement for rubber in clothing. Through much effort and perseverance, and over a decade later, he and his team invented “Fiber K,” which was renamed “Lycra.” This fiber stretches up to 600% and returns to its original length, in a slimmer, lighter, and more breathable package than its rubber predecessor. Over the course of the next few decades, Lycra, or Spandex, found its way into specialized garments and textiles in applications so varied and vast that I doubt Dr. Shivers himself could have imagined the impact.

Sometime in the 1970s, purpose-made cycling clothing was made from Spandex blends for competitive cycling. Over the subsequent decades, these clingy garments have trickled from the race track to the aforementioned town cruisers. As I wrote in the original paragraph above, regular people will put on their cycling uniform to pedal the local streets. So essentially, for well over 150-years, people managed to enjoy cycling without junk-hugging Spandex. But, my how times have changed! Now we live in a world where it’s hard to go into a coffee shop without seeing some folks nonchalantly meandering about in their skin-tight bike outfits. That stuff leaves nothing to the imagination!

I kid, of course. At least these people are generally in better shape than your average Walmart shopper. As much as I like to rail on people for fashion (not pants!), I honestly don’t care what people choose to wear. Apparently, there are good reasons to go Spandex if you’re biking the long haul well beyond looks or aerodynamics. Heck, maybe I need to get Grandpa’s Peugeot up and running so I too can justify wandering into the bagel shop clad in nothing but skin-tight Spandex and a pair of Oakleys. I think Grandpa would roll over in his grave.

Local Police – But Let’s Not Talk Politics

I was really looking forward to this election cycle; not looking forward to the results, mind you, as I’m pretty sure the results will be disastrous one way or another. But, the cycle itself, campaigning and drama, it really seemed like it would be great blog fodder. But then, there was just too much material. We all knew campaigning for the general election would get juicy, but this is like trying to drink from a fire hose! I was freaking overwhelmed. So, as to politics, we now have to decide if we’re going to vote for the old, rich, corrupt narcissist, trying to put on a show for the common man, or the old, corrupt narcissist, trying to put on a show for the common man. Or, you could go third party and vote for the pothead, calling himself a libertarian, whose ideals are anything but libertarian. Except for the pot. And oddly, I don’t feel that any of the preceding is all that controversial. But, I said I wouldn’t get into politics, and so I digress…

There have been some palpable changes in our local police department over the last few years. A few years ago, they replaced all the motorcycles in my hometown with these souped up BMWs that have some kind of biometric lock that secures their short barreled ARs to the back fender. How a rifle makes any kind of tactical sense when you’re on a motorcycle is completely beyond me, but they look cool, and I haven’t heard of any hi jinx associated therewith, so I suppose it’s all good. I tried to get an in, to go take pics and blog about the new bikes, because they’re cool, but the receptionist simply took my name and number, and I never heard back from them. *Eek!* That probably means I’m on some list somewhere, of citizens who are just a little too curious about the cops and their motorcycles with mounted SBRs. In the past I’ve had contacts with the local PD that made me nervous, but those are stories for another time. More recently, in fact the last two contacts that I’ve had, however, have been nothing short of exemplary. Put that eyebrow down. One was when I rolled over grass in the median to get in the turn lane (there was no curb at the intersection) and the other was for a burned out tail light bulb. It’s not like I’ve been smoking my tires or drifting through intersections. These were two different officers, and I wish I’d gotten their names so I could publicly laud them, because they were both the shining example of how an official contact should go. They were both appropriately respectful, professional, enthusiastic, and downright understanding. The latter (for the tail light) even went so far as to say, “thank you for carrying a gun. Good people like you, carrying, only make my job easier, so please keep that up.” Yeah. It’s little things like this that make endear me to my hometown.

We don’t watch much TV; heck, we don’t even get broadcast television in our home. Pretty much all we watch is on YouTube, Netflix, or Amazon Prime Video. However, I’ll catch a news broadcast every once in a great while at the house of a family member, or in a public space. Anytime there’s a local event that calls the local media to ask for a statement from the police, it seems like two personalities show up over and over again. There’s a female officer whose name escapes me, but she stands out because of her looks and screen presence. She just has the happiest, most pleasant-looking face you could imagine. She’s got the semi-circle, anime eyes, and bright smile. She really looks like a live-action anime girl stuffed into a police uniform. And, she’s always bright and bubbly on screen. Even when they’ve called upon her to talk about something unpleasant, she manages to deliver in a pleasant manner, still paying due gravity to the situation at hand. You wouldn’t mind getting pulled over by her. When she asked for your license and insurance verification, you’d say, “d’awwww! Yes, ma’am.” I tried to ID her on a Google search, but to no avail. Suffice it to say, it’s pretty obvious why the PD throws her in front of the camera over and over when the media comes a-knockin’.

The other regular Okc TV spokesman that comes to mind is Captain Steve McCool. Don’t bother to image search him, just read his name again. Out loud. Captain Steve McCool. Captain McCool is always… well… cool. And to the point. Whenever he comes on the screen though, Jennifer and I will say in unison, “Captain Steve McCool!” with great emphasis. I can just imagine little seven-year-old Stephen (Steven?) McCool, riding down the street on his bicycle, thinking to himself, “self, with a name like yours, you’re destine for greatness! Someday, I’m going to make Captain in the police department.” I mean, seriously! With that title and name, he sounds bigger than life! Captain Steve McCool sounds like he should be the main character in a spy movie, as a cartoon cat! He sounds like he should be the captain of some great airship, blowing villains out of the sky with cannon fire. I’m just saying the guy has a cool name. I’ll bet he still got made fun of for his name when he was a kid though. If you never got made fun of for your name growing up, please tell me about it in the comments section. Kids can be such little jerks.

The first car I bought after Jennifer and I got married was a 1983 Honda Civic Wagon. That was my second ’83 Civic Wagon, after I totaled my first, which was my first car. That’s a story unto itself. I cranked, wrenched, and painted on that second Wagon until she was cherry. We loved that car. I had her just about perfect when this sixteen-year-old girl in a Ford Expedition meandered into my lane through a curve and crunched the front fender and the edge of the hood. Subsequently, a friend gave me an ’82 Civic hatchback to use for spare parts. The hatchback was a complete car, and I drove it home. It seemed like a shame to strip the hatch for parts, so I sourced sheet metal to patch up the Wagon separately, and made the hatch into a toy. At first, I stiffened up the valvetrain on the original 1.5-liter engine, opened up the intake and exhaust, and stripped the interior and air conditioning, as well as some other tweaks here and there. The engine would redline at around 7,000-RPM, and would spin the front tires from 60-mph. The real trouble was, running it that hard, I couldn’t keep it in head gaskets; as in, every 5,000 or so miles, I’d change the oil and head gasket. So, I yanked the 1.8-liter engine out of a 1979 Accord and shoehorned it in. I truncated the exhaust from there and added a Weber carburetor and a cowl induction hood scoop. I know that’s a lot of lead up to the actual story, but please try to bear with me.

I’d been tinkering on the hatchback (we called her Medusa) one day, tweaking and adjusting this and that, and I wanted to see how my efforts would pan out in real life. So, I wheeled her out to the little road behind our neighborhood. I looked carefully to make sure that there were no other cars or pedestrians. And then, I romped on it. And, I upshifted and floored the throttle again. And then, I saw the cop car behind the trees. I immediately started to decelerate, and the red and blues pulled in behind me. “Yup, he got me,” I thought to myself, as I pulled over and shut off the rowdy four-cylinder. The officer who came to the window was an older gentleman with a pleasant demeanor. It was almost like he’d just walked off the set of the Andy Griffith Show.

“Good afternoon,” he said cheerfully, “I suppose you know why I’ve pulled you over today.”

“I have an idea,” I replied, handing him my license and insurance.

“I was sitting here, watching for drivers in violation of seat belt laws, so I wasn’t watching my radar,” he politely fished for admission, “so I don’t know how fast you were going, but the way you were accelerating, I’m pretty sure you had to be speeding.”

I smiled coolly, and admitted to nothing.

“Well,” he smiled back, handing me my license and insurance, “slow it down, and please be careful.”

“Yes sir,” I said.

In today’s day and age, the police are taking a brutal and unwarranted political beating. The vast majority of the police that I see in action are doing a fantastic job, too, both local and abroad. Of the interactions I’ve had with the police, only a small fraction of them have been negative in the least, and I’ve never been in fear for my own safety. I know I’m preaching to the choir for anyone who ever comes to my website, but I just had to put this out there. These men and women are doing a job that I, frankly, wouldn’t want to. Often times, when I see our local officers around town, doing their thing, I’ll give them a smile and wave. This is my little way of participating in Robert Peel’s Principles. “Hey, you, thanks for doing what you’re doing! Keep up the good work!” I know I said I was going to keep it unpolitical, and I’ve probably skirted politics a little too much by now, but whatever. To my friends in law enforcement, for those of you who I’m pretty sure will read this, as well as those of you that probably wont, thank you. There are plenty of us out here that won’t make the news that approve and appreciate you. Because we don’t block traffic or break windows, we are the silent majority. But, we are the majority, and we very much appreciate what you do. And, at the risk of getting too mushy, I’m just going to leave it at that.

The Stupid! It Hurts!

Jennifer has a morning alarm set for us on her phone. When the time comes, it speaks to us, reading us FaceBook reminders, news headlines, and weather forecast. This is useful, but also a little frustrating at times. For instance, this morning, it spouted out a headline that left me scratching my head. It seems that on Wednesday morning, Farmingdale State College in Long Island, NY went on lockdown because someone spotted a man with a rifle in the parking lot. Except it wasn’t a rifle. It was a toy light saber.

Evidently, there is no limit to human stupidity.

The grandson of one of my neighbors drops by to chat once in a while. He’s really into airsoft. Last time he dropped by, he brought along his AR clone to show it off. I was impressed. Although not an actual firearm, many of the components of his gun were straight off the real thing. Even the upper receiver looked to be a modified version of a genuine M4 upper, stuffed with the guts to launch a plastic pellet with a tank of compressed gas. Prior to close inspection, this thing looks like a gun. I would not have been shocked if an officer of the law had pulled into my driveway to investigate because another neighbor had called it in.

A Star Wars toy light saber though? I find myself struggling to try to figure out how this confusion is even possible. If it had been a Star Wars blaster mistaken for an actual pistol, I could come to some kind of understanding. If an airsoft rifle had been mistaken for the real thing, it would be easy to understand. But, a toy light saber? Really?

If I had any business to be on a college campus in New York, I would deliberately avoid having anything on my person that could be misconstrued for a gun. Don’t start nothing, won’t be nothing, right? It would never occur to me that a toy light saber could be mistaken for a gun. In the grand scheme of things, it was not all that long ago that children showed up to school with actual guns, and nothing but good intentions. They were hunting after class, or whatever. My wife tells me stories of trucks in her high school parking lot that would routinely have rifles in the gun racks mounted to the back window. Nobody called the police, because nobody was doing anything wrong. Stranger has multiple stories from when he went to school, of the children leaning their long guns in the corner of the classroom because they were going to do some hunting on their way home from school. These were actual guns, not toys that don’t even resemble guns in the slightest.

This news story came way too early this morning. I’ll post something less stupid later on.

“Super” Tuesday

I’m baaaaaaccckkk!

*cracks neck* I actually wrote up the following piece several weeks ago. But, my blog was thoroughly infested with some pretty nasty malware, and anytime I went to log in, I found that my host had it locked up tight. Good on the host, I suppose, but this led to me not being able to post or even approve comments for what seemed an eternity. Thanks to Wordfence, we seem to have these issues under control now. If you noticed that your comment didn’t actually publish when you posted it here (and there were a couple of you), I apologize, and I think I’ve got you approved at this point. As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve had this written up for a while in a document on my laptop. Seeing as how I can finally post again, and it being Super Tuesday, and all, it seems like the right thing to kick off the continuation of my blogging career.

I disagree with my friends sometimes. Thank God for that! It would be a real shame to only have friends that I agree with on every single detail in life all the time. I think I’m right, and other people have opposing beliefs and think they are right. One of us might be right, and the other wrong, or we may both be wrong, and I have changed my mind on some issues over the years.

I have lost far more friends over politics than I care to discuss. Over politics. It’s not that I’m opposed to being friends with people with opposing views so much as their inability to reconcile our differences of opinion. How sad is that? Sometimes I’d like to have no party affiliation for the sheer bragging rights of having no party affiliation. But then, I’d be depriving myself of the primary election. I want to maximize my voting power, and that means party registry. *It’s recently come to my attention that Independents can now vote in the Oklahoma primary. We may have to revisit this…*

It’s important to me to be able to hold my nose and vote for the giant douche over the turd sandwich, and I usually like the giant douche and turd sandwich that this party offers slightly better than the giant douche and turd sandwich that the other party offers. Occasionally there may be a candidate that I genuinely like, but usually he or she is not even likely to make nomination, much less get elected, so instead of throwing away my vote on them, I’ll vote for the giant douche or turd sandwich instead. It usually comes down to which candidate I hate less.

Therefore, you certainly shouldn’t judge me for which candidate I “support,” because I probably don’t even like them in the first place, and disagree with their policies almost as much as you do. The electoral process is a sacred right, and a civic duty, not an identity. We’re supposed to disagree on how things get done. That’s what makes us awesome.

I shared a hilarious and immature political quip with two friends over the weekend. One of them, whom I have known for close to thirty years, and whose party affiliation I am not even privy to, straight up gave me the silent treatment. He didn’t respond at all. This didn’t shock me, considering his attitude over the last fifteen years or so. The other friend, who is quite vocal about being affiliated with the other party, and whom I have only known for the last couple years, laughed and said, “that’s awesome.” This is what I’ve come to expect from him as well, because he knows full well that I don’t think he’s dumb and smells funny. He and I disagree on issues, but we also have a lot in common. We acknowledge that we fundamentally want the same results, but where we disagree is in the details on how to achieve those results.

That’s called politics. It’s not a friendship deal breaker, it’s a conversation starter. It doesn’t make one of us good and the other bad, it makes life interesting. So, when you meet a Democrat, don’t automatically assume that they want to raise your taxes and take your guns away. Similarly, when you meet a Republican, don’t assume that they hate the poor and want to impose their religious morals on you. Then again maybe they do, but that still doesn’t make them less of a human being! If you assume they don’t understand economics, they probably feel the same about you. See? There’s already something you have in common. So, set your preconceptions aside, shut up, and listen to that other person instead of dehumanizing them to further your fight. I promise you’ll be much happier in the long run.

Whatever your political bent may be, I hope you have voted or will vote in the primary, assuming you are legally qualified to do so. Did I vote today? You bet your sweet peaches I did! Did I vote for whom I believe is best suited to lead our country? No, no I did not. There were three names on the ballot that I think would make a better president than the name I selected. But, as I pointed out above, I don’t think any of them have a snowball’s chance of making the nomination, much less the general election. No, I voted for the front-runner that I like better than the other front-runner. Ironically, I don’t believe he’s going to make the nomination even.

“So, what’s the point?” you might be asking. Well, I’m not going to sit around and not even put my $.02 in when it comes to assigning who gets to be leader next. I voted against our current president twice. My state voted against our current president twice. I’ve had separate conversations with at least two friends who voted for him. We’ve laughed together about how neither of our votes counted at all, seeing as how the state voted against him, and yet the country elected him. Come on, that’s funny!

I know that I’ve probably included entirely too many South Park references in this post, but sometimes Tray and Matt put it better than anyone else can. Anyway, it’s great to be back. I missed both of my readers so much! If you haven’t been out to vote, go and do it! Yes, I’m talking to you. And, be nice to each other, even when you have different values and beliefs. It’s a feature, not a bug.

I Guess It’s Finally Winter

It’s 34-degrees out there. There’s mixed sleet, freezing rain, and the occasional flake coming down. We had no plans to shop Black Friday. So, we went to the YMCA to swim for a while. And then, in 34-degree winter mix, I went into the liquor store in a Speedo swimsuit. In all fairness, it’s really Speedo-branded boardshorts. And, I was also wearing a long sleeve shirt, fleece vest, and a jacket. But, it makes for a good story anyway. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

Kel Tec P-3AT the be-all, end-all test Part II

If you haven’t already, you can read part one here.

This is the first gun that I’ve ever kept a round count on. It’s neat to have documentation that we have put exactly 725-rounds through this little pistol. I kind of wish I’d kept track of how much ammunition I’ve put through some of my other guns. Granted, judging by its condition alone, the M&P .38 special has been shot about a billion times. You’d swear that three quarters of the lead that exists on the planet has been down that bore twice. But, I’d love to be able to authoritatively say how many rounds I’ve put through my S&W 29, or my Winchester 1300, for that matter. It’s been a fun journey regardless.

I wanted to post something on this last week, but I didn’t really have anything to say. The initial range session for this test was just so routinely boring that it would have been the shortest blog post ever. As I wrote in my previous post, when we first shot the gun, I had not even cleaned it, and we put 125-rounds through it. It was still relatively clean after that, but I at least wanted to get the manufacturer’s preservative out of it and give it a little lube, no deep scrubbing necessary. I field stripped the little gun and blasted it out with some Birchwood Casey Gun Scrubber and hit the moving parts with some Otis Bio CLP. I racked the slide a few times and dry fired it a few times to get the CLP in the works. I also used the Gun Scrubber to rinse out my three magazines.

To prepare for the test, I numbered the magazines “1,” “2,” and “3” with a silver Sharpie and scotch taped over the numbers to keep them from rubbing off. I figured we would try to evenly rotate them, and if we started having consistent problems with one of the magazines, we would know to take it out of the rotation. I set up a detailed spread sheet where I could record data – round count, who was shooting, magazine number, ammunition box number, and potential failures.

On Sunday, November 15, we took the gun out to the family farm with some steel targets and clays. Over the course of an hour or so, we put 200-rounds of Magtech (95-gr, FMJ 951-fps) down range with no incidents to note. I shot the initial 150-rounds and Jennifer shot the 50 remaining. It shot flawlessly for both of us. I offered to let Isaac try it again, but he declined. It was nice to get out to the farm at least, and it was a fun range session. I then stripped it for inspection. There was slight wear in the finish on the rails, but nothing else noteworthy. So, I reloaded it with My Hornady Critical Defense and put it back in my holster. Really the most interesting thing that happened was that I got a bloody sore on my trigger finger from where the trigger guard had pounded on it during the range session. Pro tip – if you’re going to pack a Kel Tec, it might not hurt to take some emory cloth to the inside of the trigger guard to smooth it out. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

On Saturday, November 21, we took it to one of the local indoor ranges. this time, we preemptively applied 3M Nexcare foam bandages to our fingers where they’d previously been chewed on by the trigger guard, for a little protection. In this session, the three of us managed to put 350-rounds of Magtech through the little gun. With the gun running like the Little Engine That Could, just imagine how excited I was when we had our first failure at the 421-round mark! I pulled the trigger and got an unexpected “click.” Of course, I unloaded the gun and cleared the spent brass out of the chamber. It was evidently a failure to eject. The good news is that I had my GoPro taking close-up video at 240-frames per second in 720p. The bad news is that it was a lot darker in the range than I realized, so the video came out pretty grainy. Still, we’ll take a look at that later for analysis.

Of course, a failure to eject could be the fault of the gun, the shooter, or the ammunition. By that point in the range session, I was starting to fatigue, although my grip looks pretty steady in the slow-motion video. Jennifer and I are wondering if there’s a perceivable difference in the muzzle flash on the offending round in our high-speed video, which could but would not necessarily indicate an undercharged cartridge. As I wrote above, we’ll take a closer look at that later. Regardless, other than the one failure to eject, this little pistol has run 550-rounds of ammunition flawlessly since I cleaned and lubed it. Subsequent inspection was yawn-inducing, as the gun seems to be in perfect condition outside of carbon build up.

When I first put out the feelers to find a company to sponsor this test, I actually reached out to Kel Tec directly, who didn’t respond to my messages. I found that to be rather damning. It’s one thing that they put a lifetime warranty on their products, but if they won’t even answer a proposal on this kind of test, it does beg the question as to how confident they are in product durability. That being said, I could not be any happier with this gun thus far. It has rewarded me with reliability, durability, and shootability beyond my most optimistic imagination. If by the end of this test, I break it beyond repair, I would gladly pay the ~$250 these guns command for a replacement.

As a side note, This Magtech ammunition has been as clean shooting and as consistent as I hoped it would be. If you haven’t tried it before, and if you need some good plinking ammo, you should check it out! Again, I’d like to give a shout out to Ammunition to Go, who made all this possible with the ammunition donation. When you’re shopping ammo, please do keep them in mind for your needs. They didn’t pay me for a good review, but donating the ammo isn’t the first pleasant experience I’ve had dealing with them.

So, we’re a little over a quarter of the way through the test, and all is well. 550-rounds down and 1,450 to go! If we make it to the 2,000-round mark and the gun is still running strong, I’m thinking of continuing with some different ammo. I have more of the Hornady Critical Defense that I’d like to shoot into water jugs as well as some frangible ball ammo, and another 100-rounds from Richardson Reloading. Although his loads seemed to be a little light for this gun initially, it will be interesting to see if they play nicer together after this much of a break-in.