Watch Where You Step

Just yesterday, Jennifer and I were again discussing the unusually high concentration of carnivorous arthropods in the area this season. We have seen vast numbers of ladybugs, dragonflies, wasps, and spiders in our garden and around the house. We rarely see any bugs in the house, perhaps because we have four little furry hunters to keep them in check. Since my daily commute to work is approximately 10-feet, I often don’t wear shoes. Especially in the Summer, I will more often than not be patting around in my sock feet.

This morning, while walking down the hall, I felt a lump of something under my foot. Fearing the worst of what I might have just stepped in, I slowly removed my foot and took a look. It was a spider of the typical orb-weaver variety that we have seen around the garden. But, instead of being crushed as one might expect, it looked up at me with its shiny eyes, unphased, if a little annoyed that I had just stepped on it. It chattered its mandibles and I wondered if I should say, “excuse me” or something. I doubt I need to describe to you the size of the creature.

Back when I worked at the auto parts store in the bad part of town, we had a bit of a ‘pet’ spider. It was another garden variety spider, but had impressively grown to about an inch and a half long, not including its legs. When I first saw it, I commented that it had a beard and grandkids and was older than me. That one met its unfortunate demise when it confronted a customer who stomped it to death while purchasing motor oil for her leaky wreck of a car.

I have no particular fear of spiders; rather I find them to be fascinating creatures that efficiently kill bugs that I don’t like, and decorate their domain with impressively structured webs. They make interesting photography subjects and it’s fun to watch them weave their webs and catch insects. Even so, I still don’t wish to share my home with spiders that justifiably have no fear of me. Whether you are an arachnophobe or not, that’s just creepy!

Handgun License

A little over five years ago, I received my Concealed Weapon License. Oklahoma allows application for renewal within 90-days of expiration, and gives a 30-day “grace period” after the license is expired that a holder may still legally carry a handgun. In November, Open Carry went into effect in Oklahoma and all standing Concealed Weapon Licenses by default became Handgun Licenses. People are applying for Handgun Licenses in ever increasing numbers, and the people at the OSBI have had their hands full. Jennifer and I were able to send in our renewal applications on May 9, 2013 as I mentioned here. Not as early as we would have liked, but still earlier than the notifications the OSBI mailed us, letting us know that our permits were about to expire in 30-days. On July 13, I emailed OSBI to ask about current status, as my grace period had just ended. They promptly responded back and explained that they were waiting on background checks from the local and county constabularies, and that I should expect to hear something within 15-20 business days. On July 19, Jennifer’s new Handgun License was delivered in the mail, with an issued date of July 17. Today, after 76 days of waiting, my Handgun License arrived in the mail with an issued date of July 18. I must compliment the system as they did not take the full 90-days allotted them. I did spend a little over a week a few pounds lighter in public, but no one was injured. It just felt silly being the holster maker without a valid Handgun License. Of course, it also feels silly to have to jump through so many hoops to legally practice a constitutionally guaranteed, God-given right.

Zimmmerman Trial, What if?

What if George Zimmerman was a black man and Treyvon Martin was a white boy? What if when confronted, the teen had rushed at the armed adult menacingly? Let’s go back to 2009, to the trial of Roderick Scott, a 42-year-old black man who was legally carrying a handgun for self defense. Scott observed some teenage boys in his neighborhood who appeared to be breaking into cars parked on the street. He profiled them as criminals and confronted them, waiting on police response. Chris Cervini, a 17-year-old white teen rushed at him and screamed threateningly. Fearing for his life, Scott shot and killed Cervini. Scott was found not guilty of manslaughter of the boy on the grounds of self defense.

*Edited to add – I don’t know if the embedded video worked or not. Link is here.

This case was eerily similar to the Zimmerman case, and yet it didn’t blow up the national news. There were no riots. The President didn’t make a statement about it. The United States Attorney General didn’t get involved. The DOJ didn’t stage protests. There was no public outcry. People didn’t make threats to run out and kill black people as a response. Personally, I had not even heard of the case until recently, and I suspect I’m far from alone there. So, what if Zimmerman had been a black man and Martin had been a white teen? It would have never been a major issue, even taking place in New York where they have no Stand Your Ground law, unlike Florida.

The Zimmerman case was only racially charged by the reaction of others. The shooting itself had nothing to do with race. But, the crooked, sensationalist media inventing the laughable new term “White Hispanic“, NBC editing the 911 tape to make Zimmerman sound like a racist, even The Post Turtle himself claiming that had he a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin; it was all a calculated attempt to turn this into a racially dividing case. The media and high officials in government decided Zimmerman’s guilt long before his trial. It’s disgusting. What’s even more disgusting is all the soft-skulled lambs that have jumped on the bandwagon of the race baiters. Zimmerman will never lead a normal life now. I comfortably predict that this was merely his first self-defense shooting, only because there will nearly certainly be revenge attempts on his life in the future. When he is eventually murdered, the blood will be on the hands of the race baiters.

E-Tool

There are standard items that I keep in the back of whatever car I have. Among these items you will find bottled water, a knife of some kind, first aid kit, emergency blankets, and some basic tools. Many of my normal friends think I’m weird because in the trunk of the Tactical Assault Compact Sedan resides one of these:

Folding shovel 002

“Why in the world do you keep a shovel in your trunk?” they ask me, in much the same way they ask, “Why on earth do you always have a knife in your pocket?” when they need something cut or “Why do you carry a flashlight with you?” when the power goes out. These seem like rhetorical questions to me. “Why” indeed…

fireandshovel

I’m not the only one who sees these as essential gear. When we got everyone together for COGS 2013, it was cold and drizzly. On Saturday, some of our guests asked if they could start a fire behind the firing line. Not only did I endorse such actions, I pulled my trencher out of the trunk and put it to use. And, another one was produced from another trunk. With two people running these bad boys, you can have a nice sized fire pit in no time flat. When Jennifer and I go camping, we’ll often forget some piece of gear. We have left behind our air mattress or pillows, or had to run to town to grab a case of bottled water. But, the folding shovel is always in the car. There’s far more that you can do with these things than dig fire pits though. It is pretty well accepted that the U.S. G.I. E-tool makes a great weapon in hand-to-hand combat.

etool3

Indeed, with two sharpened edges on one side and two serrated edges on the other, not only will they handily cut through soil and hack through branches, they would be better than harsh words in a self-defense situation. Granted, if I was rushed by a dangerous animal in the woods, I’d rather drop the shovel and draw my .45, but failing that, I’d be glad for the shovel! A friend described to me how to use one of these as a stool to sit over a hole to poop in the woods. I couldn’t find a good diagram on how to work this, so I drew this crude* comic for an illustration:

e-tool poop stool

These things are compact. They will fit in the spare tire well with your spare, or in your jack storage. In a standard cab pickup, they take up virtually no space behind or under the seat. Currently, we only have the one car, but when we add a second and then a third when Teen Bot starts driving, they’ll get their own e-tools shortly after acquisition. Now, when anyone raises an eyebrow as to why I should have one of these in the trunk, my standard response is to ask them why they don’t have one in their car!

*Pun totally intended. I used to get in trouble for drawing stuff like this in school. Please pardon my crappy artwork. I know it kind of stinks. 😛

OK SDA

Recently, renewing my carry permit has been in the back of my mind, as it has been almost five years since my permit was issued. There have been more pressing things to attend to, and I got sidetracked, but I started researching what I needed to do when we got back from the NRA Convention in Houston. My permit was set to expire in about five weeks. The state’s website advises that the renewal application may take 60-90 days to process. Crap. It also reads that one may apply for renewal within 90-days of expiration. They do allow a 30-day grace period after expiration, but apparently we’re supposed to get our application in exactly 90-days prior to expiration. Lovely. So, Jennifer and I got our applications sent in last week. Her original permit got issued after mine, so she should be in her grace period when her new permit comes in, if they take as long as they are rumored to. I, on the other hand, will likely have to leave my gun at home for a couple of weeks. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you probably had some idea that this was going on.

This morning I got a letter in the mail from the OSBI. Surely that couldn’t be in response to my application already! I felt the envelope, and it clearly didn’t contain a renewed permit, but only paper. Surely they didn’t already review my renewal application and find some reason to not issue me a new permit! I don’t know why I get so paranoid when it comes to these dealings. I tenuously opened the letter. It appears to be an auto-generated letter sent to notify me that my permit expires next month and that I should apply for renewal. *head scratch* It seems to me that this would be significantly more useful if they sent them out 90-days prior rather than 30-days prior to expiration, considering that if one waits until the last few weeks, one is pretty well guaranteed to be out of a permit for a while. And, if they’re not going to be any more helpful than that, why even waste the paper and postage? There’s our tax dollars at work. *sigh*

UPDATE – Jennifer tells me that the payments to the state have cleared our account, so apparently they’ve received our applications and have done SOMETHING. I’ll update you when we see permits.

Dual Wielding Leathermans. Leathermen?

One evening this weekend, Jennifer and I were sitting around with good friends when Kelly noticed two metal clips protruding from one of my pockets.

“Michael,” he said, “are you dual wielding Leathermans?”

“I suppose I am,” I chuckled, “there’s a story about that and I’ll share it with you in a moment.”

Well, inevitable tangents happened, and ultimately I did not explain to Kelly why I had two Leatherman pocket tools in my pocket. But, that’s what the internet is for, am I right? This last Christmas, my father-in-law gave me a Leatherman Sidekick.

01Sidekickoriginal

This was a nice little multitool with pliers, a locking straight-edge knife blade and locking wood saw blade, as well as a pair of screwdrivers, can/bottle opener, file/small screwdriver, small serrated blade, and a fold-away lanyard loop. This very quickly became my go-to pocket tool, displacing one of my pocket knives as well as the screwdriver set and P38 can opener that had previously lived in my pockets. It went everywhere with me until it disappeared one day. After I had not found it for a couple weeks, I decided to see what was in stock at the local Ace Westlake Hardware store. I had a $5 coupon to the store, so I dropped in to check out their inventory. I wound up purchasing a Leatherman Wingman that was on sale. This unit was very similar to the lost Sidekick.

02Wingmanoriginal

The two units are built on the same frame, with the same pliers and screwdrivers. The blade on the latter is partially serrated, and it has a pair of spring operated scissors instead of the saw blade. The bottle/can opener and the file are common between the two models, but where the Sidekick has a serrated knife blade, the Wingman has a ‘package opener’ which consists of a protuberance with an inward facing chisel point for cutting tape and straps without being an actual knife blade. I mused to Jennifer that it would be nice to have a unit with the three knife blades, as each one fills a bit of a niche. So, although the replacement was a little different, I began to enjoy having it around; and then of course, you know what happens when you replace something that you have lost.

03 Sidekick and Wingman

Having the two side-by-side has been interesting.

04similarities

The differences were few but significant.

05 differences

Of course, I was reminded of my earlier conversation with Jenni in which I said that I’d like to have all three knife blades in one unit. I noted that the leftover parts would make a unit that didn’t have a knife blade in it at all but would still have a handful of very useful tools. Apparently, it was time to void some warranties. I took out my torx driver and started swapping parts. The saw blade where the knife belongs functions nearly as though it was meant to be there. The lock doesn’t function quite as intended, but I don’t feel like a lock is necessary on a saw blade anyway. The knife blade where the saw belongs however… it bolted in, and would lock open, but it would not close completely into the handle.

06 blade gap

It turns out that the blade stop was bottoming out shallower on this side of the unit than the one where the knife blade is intended to go, and it fit like this:

07 blade stop issue

instead of the way it works in factory format like this:

08 stock blade stop

So, I put a cutting wheel on my little Black & Decker Wizard and ground away a tiny bit of the pocket bottom, like so:

09 backstop mod

This allowed the blade to sit a little deeper in the pocket, while still retaining the function of the blade stop.

10 mod fit

And, that made it so that the blade closes as though the factory intended for it to be there.

11 blade fit illustration

Once I had reassembled the cases, they don’t look like they have been tampered with at a glance.

12 Sideman and Wingkick

I placed the partial serrated blade for a right thumb open and the straight edge as a lefty opener. I initially had an excuse for this decision, but it escapes me now, so it may have not been as important as it seemed at the time.

33 dual blades

So, one of these now has an excess blade and the other has no knife blade at all. If I’m going into a place that disallows knives, I can very honestly claim that it is not at all a knife, and make a strong argument for keeping my multitool on me.

35 modded Leathermans

Guns & Ammo Panic

About a month ago, I wrote about my trip to the local Academy to pick up some ammunition. On Friday, I decided to swing by there again to pick up a little more. I’ve been trying to keep an inventory on what we have in stock, and bone up on everything in anticipation of Central Oklahoma Gunblogger Schutenfest, which is less than two weeks away now! Thanks to my friend Mark, I’m now very well stocked on .22lr. We have enough .45 to last us a bit. We’re good enough on rifle ammo right now. We don’t have much 9mm, but we don’t shoot much 9mm, so it doesn’t matter much. We are running a little low on our revolver calibers. Revolver ammunition has not been behind the counter like the higher-demand cartridges, but I figured that I’d pick up some .223 or 9mm while I was in the store, just for good measure. When I pulled into the parking lot, I saw a line of people going in the front door. That was weird. When I stepped into the store, I saw a few people at the customer service counter buying ammo. It didn’t look as crowded as it had been on my previous visit in February, so I stepped toward it to see what ammo they had available.

ammoration

The pile looked a little slimmer than it had last time, but obviously, they did have a small selection of ammo for auto-loading rifles and pistols. Just then, a store employee addressed me and asked if I wanted to buy ammo. When I affirmed this, he motioned and instructed me to get to the back of the line.

ammoline03

I couldn’t get the front of the line in scope, but this is close to it. See the lady in the black heels toward the back there? She’s not at the back of the line. The line turns the corner there between the clothing section in the middle and the shelves on the other side. Please note the position of the heeled lady in this next shot:

ammoline02

She seemed like a nice enough lady when I spoke with her. She was after .38 Special for her carry gun, and she would not find any there. It was pretty obvious to me that there was not enough ammunition for everyone in line. I didn’t bother getting in line, but caught these pictures to share here.

ammoline01

I don’t know why that guy was wearing a support belt, but he didn’t look too thrilled about having his picture taken. A cute little blonde employee approached me and asked if I got some good pictures. I told her that I thought I did. I chatted with her for a few minutes and expressed that when I had been in only a few weeks earlier, that the situation was far better than this. She said that this was the worst that she has seen it and that it seems to be getting progressively worse all the time. Here’s a picture from the shelves where the line turned around the corner toward the front of the store, where the ammo was being doled out:

ammoline04

When I made it back to the regular ammo shelf, I found no .38 Special and no .357 Magnum. The nice lady in the black heels was there, searching for the same. There were also a couple of younger guys staring at the shelf in disbelief. They had 10mm, .38 Short Colt, and .41 Magnum on the shelf. There was one box of .44 Special in aluminum cases. There were several brands of .44 Magnum, but it was all the heavy hollow-points that sell for forty bucks for a box of twenty-five rounds – not exactly what you want to make into a day at the range. We discussed whether you could shoot .38 Colt out of a .38 Special or .357 Magnum. One of the guys assured me that it would work fine, but I decided not to chance it. I left the store without product, but not empty handed. I was glad to have been there ready with my camera to document the situation. On my way out of the store, I walked along a man in camouflaged pants and a beard who was inspecting the contents of his shopping bag. I recognized him as being one of the patrons at the front of the line.

“Did you have to get here early to get in line?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” he smiled, “well, I was actually a little late for me. I only got here at 7:25.”

The store opens at 8:00.

“Really?” I asked him, “What time do you usually get here then?”

“Well, I try to be here at about 4:30 or 5:00,” he explained.

“That early?” I inquired.

“Yup,” he confirmed, “There are a few people who get here at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. Same ones every time. They’re the ones who get all the guns. Of course, the store has their seven-day limit thing, but other than that, you can count on seeing those same people.”

Chills down my spine. As we parted ways, I told him to take care. Teen Bot had a field trip at the museum that we all went on later that morning. That evening, Jennifer and I went to our favorite indoor gun range. We had their classic and delicious onion burgers at their cafe, and I stood at their ammo counter for a while. I picked up a box of .38 Special and a box of .357 Magnum, both in FMJ from Federal’s American Eagle label. I also picked up a box of .38 +p Gold Dots for Jennifer’s Nana. The three boxes cost me something in the way of $84.00 after tax. Five years ago, the same selection would have cost half of that. Not only is ammunition in high demand. The store section of the same range used to keep their handgun displays packed full. They have probably forty or so display cabinets that used to be filled with thirty or forty guns each. This i what they look like now:

guncases

What you see there is a selection of nine lonely handguns where there used to be a hundred, consistently. I thought that the insanity would be fading by now. I thought wrong. It just seems to be picking up pace. People are paying $50 for PMags that sold for less than $20 six months ago. They’re buying up $800 AR15s for $3,000 a pop. My sister-in-law is thinking of selling her XD9 Subcompact at current market value to put towards a defensive handgun and a race gun after the panic dies down. To be perfectly honest, if someone had some nice lever-actions in .22lr, .357 Magnum, and .30-30, I’d probably consider trading for my Star15 Dissipator, a few mags, and ammo. These are interesting times we live in, to be sure. We must remember that this is an unsustainable bubble. The AWB will not pass and the market will be flooded with excess guns and ammo, and then there will be a lovely recession in pricing on these goods as they flow out from where the hoarders currently have them. Keep your congresscritters on speed-dial and ride this thing out the best you can, and do be careful!