Random MRI

On Wednesday evening I received a phone call from the doctor. She called to ask if I would come in to get an MRI done on my shoulder the next day. Don’t worry – this was not prompted by a medical condition on my part. As far as I know, I’m healthy as a horse. The doctor is my aunt. I remember when she was putting herself through medical school. We once visited her in Chicago. There were points in time that she lived almost like a vagabond to realize her dream of being a doctor. Now, she is an accomplished radiologist. After working with several hospitals in the area, she got burned out on the politics and decided she needed her own place. So recently, she has built her own imaging clinic. She’s trying to get equipment calibrated and employees familiar with the machines, so she’s been asking friends and family to come in for various scans to that end. Here in Central Oklahoma, we have some pretty cutting-edge medicine, and the clinic is basically next door to the biggest hospital in the state. So, when she tooled up, she went with the most advanced stuff she could get her hands on. She needed to give the local medical community every possible excuse to send their business to her. Therefore, this MRI scanner was not the little 1.5T magnet that is most commonly used, but the beefy 3.0T.

Yesterday morning, I arrived at the clinic just before eleven. I knew that I would have to shed metal, so I preemptively shed my guns, knives, tape measure, scissors, house keys, can opener, pen, screwdrivers, and flashlight and locked all of it in the trunk along with my belt. Yes, I really do carry all of that. There was a crew doing some finishing construction to the facility that scurried about inside and around the building. I had to fill out some paperwork and retrieve my wallet from the car for I.D. and insurance. I confirmed that I don’t have any body piercings or a pacemaker, or a steel plate in my skull or anything like that. The nurse who would be doing the scan took me to a small changing room and asked me to remove my earrings, wedding band, watch, boots, and to change out of my jeans and into a pair of scrubs. She also asked me all the questions I had just answered on paper. I suppose they want to make extra double sure nobody takes anything stupid in with them. I should once again note that I went so far as to leave my guns and knives in the car.

They put my right shoulder in a restraint and strapped me to a bed. They put shims under me to support my body for maximum comfort and placed insulation pads between my legs and between my arms and my torso. They instructed me to not cross my feet because that could cause an electric shock. Yikes! They put a squeeze bulb in my left hand and explained that if I needed out for some reason, to squeeze that. They crammed some ear plugs into my ears that piped in the local easy rock radio station. Not my favorite music, but I figured it would help me to not lose track of the passage of time. These stations usually milk out each song to five or six minutes on average, including commercials. I figured I could count ten songs an hour to determine how long they had me in the tube. When they first injected me into the machine, my claustrophobia kicked in hard. At first, I felt very anxious and thought I couldn’t handle it. Then, I took a deep breath and noted that I could still see out the opening at my knees. I closed my eyes for a moment and then I was fine. I mused that I’m glad that I’m thin, as the experience would be more uncomfortable by orders of magnitude to someone girthier.

When the magnet kicked on, the weirdness began. The first thing to note was the sound. “Click… click… click… Chuggachuggachuggachugga ROWGROWGROWGROW!!!” The ear plugs that they had administered to me were quite effective, but the noise was all around me and all through me. The clicks and growls and everything were odd for sure. But, when Kenny Loggins came over the radio singing Danger Zone, there was some kind of sympathetic harmonic in the C or D range that howled along with the music. It was ghostly and bizarre and came back periodically when the radio songs achieved certain note ranges. I didn’t notice this when the clicking and chugging wasn’t going on.

They were apparently doing different types of scans, as the mechanical sounds would change from one session to another. When Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music” came on, I was noticing some odd things. Although I was doing my best to remain still, muscle fibers all over my body would twitch involuntarily and seemingly at random. My arms and legs felt tingly, as though they were going to sleep, although they weren’t. My fingers felt fat. If felt like they were touching where they weren’t and like they weren’t where they actually were touching. As I stared at the top of the tube, sometimes I couldn’t focus on it. Other times, I could, but I would see my cornea in addition to the plastic ceiling only inches from my face. I was reminded of dreams I’ve had in which I was falling off of something and woke up, thinking I was falling out of bed, even when I wasn’t. Several times, the magnet gave me the same sensation. Indeed, the sensory deprivation through sensory overload induced a nearly dreamlike state.

They warned me that I may feel hot. It makes sense that bombarding the body with that much electromagnetic radiation would turn you into a human heating filament. We all put up electrical resistance, after all, to varying degrees. I only felt mild warmth once in my right forearm for a few minutes in the entire experience. But, I personally actually put up less electrical resistance than the average person, as I’ve mentioned here before. Periodically, the nurse would pipe into my headphones to ask if I was doing alright. I’m not sure where she was. She was either in the room, out of the line of sight of the tube, or outside the room, looking in through a window. Either way, she could hear me when I answered.

When Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do” came on for the second time, I knew that I’d been in there for a while. By now, my entire body was tingly. Again, the nurse came over the ear plugs to check my status and ask me to remain still. She said they wanted to do one more scan and asked if I could make it for another five minutes or so. I confirmed that I could and omitted the fact that it felt like I was in a boat on choppy waters. Then I asked if she could retrieve my camera from the changing room and shoot a picture of me in the beast. She chided that she would do that ‘for a small fee.’ There was another few minutes of the bizarre sounds which I had grown accustomed to by this point, and then silence beyond the radio station. I listened to car dealership commercials and DJ banter for a few minutes and finally felt the bed lurch.

When I was out, they started unstrapping me and helped me to my feet. I’d been in for about an hour, and that’s probably the most still I’ve remained in my entire life. When my left hand was free, I pulled out the ear plugs which had long since worn out their welcome. I sat up and stretched. I hopped to my feet and cracked my back. The nurse asked if I was okay.

“Yeah,” I confirmed, “Just kind of waking up.”

“Did you get a nap in there?” She asked.

“No,” I thought about the wording, “Just being still for that long.”

I went back to the changing room and put on my jeans and personal effects. When I made it back to the waiting room, the front desk lady asked if I was okay.

“Yes, I’m just feeling a little… …disoriented,” I explained.

I sat down for a moment, trying to clear my head. I felt groggy from the sensory deprivation and a little dizzy from the magnet. After what couldn’t have been even a full minute, the nurse popped into the waiting room and explained that disorientation was not normal. Dizziness was, but that should clear up quickly. I assured her that I was rapidly feeling better. So, that was odd. To all of you who expressed concern on Twitter or FaceBook, I didn’t mean to alarm you, and I am fine. Here’s the pic of me in the machine:

And, here’s a delightful cover of “All I Wanna Do” for your entertainment:

Helicopters and Autorotation

I have liked helos for some time now, but have recently learned some new stuff about them. Previously I thought that if the engine shut down in one of these things, it would fall straight out of the air and end in a fiery pile of twisted metal. Not so, apparently, as is demonstrated in this video:

As they explain the concept of autorotation, and thus, safely landing a helicopter without power, it makes enough sense. It’s just something that I’d never thought about. This guy did a whole miniseries addressing the mechanics of these amazing flying machines that is definitely worth the watch. If any of you out there are helicopter mechanics, can you confirm or deny the information given? Beyond helos, I highly recommend the Smarter Everyday channel in general. It’s a show about physics and biology that deals a lot in guns and high speed photography and video. There’s a little Christianity in the mix, but he’s definitely not in-your-face about it.

All of a Sudden, Calamari!

Note: I was going to post this yesterday but I misplaced my camera. I did get this nifty new camera so hopefully I’d be inspired to post more pictures here. So far so good. I need to review the camera as well.

Me: “What sounds good for dinner?”

Jen: “I don’t know.”

Me: “I was thinking sandwiches or something.”

Jen: “That sounds alright.”

Me: “…”

Me: “Nah. Screw that. We’ve got that jumbo squid in the freezer and there’s one egg in the refrigerator. I want to fry up some calamari.”

Seriously. Who has random calamari? It turned out really good. I had one or two pieces that were slightly rubbery, but the rest was just about perfect. Dipped in sriracha, it was pretty amazing. That’s sushi rice with nori steamed into it on the side. Yum!

A Weekend Off

As I mentioned in my last post, we visited Phlegmmy and LawDog over the weekend. LawDog’s taco soup was awesome on Friday night and completely epic on Saturday after it had been simmering overnight. I have to admit a little concern about the crisp onion chunks in it, as raw-ish onions can tend to wreak havoc on my guts. These did not, to my utter delight. The puppehs played and played and provided hours of entertainment. We burned pinion wood. Phlegmmy drank bloody marys until she was a giggling, Ramones-slurring mess, and she never once lost her charm. Indeed, the ukeleles got passed around and strummed by all, and we were all ordered to smell the sound hole. One of her instruments has a scented body, and the essence of pina colada wafts from its fin-shaped sound hole. I noted that the ukelele is tuned to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which led to a tangent of silliness all of its own.

I’m convinced that we ate more food dipped on chips and toast than otherwise. We had two batches of fresh-made guacamole with roasted garlic. Speaking of which, I now realize that I forgot my good, granite mortar & pestle and it was on their dish drying rack last I saw it. Well, it certainly won’t be the last time we see these lovely people. Phlegmmy produced a smoked gouda pimento spread that I simply couldn’t get enough of. We drank gallons and gallons of Topo Chico mineral water. We got to know our new .22 a little better, as I’ve already mentioned here. We discussed blogging, and blog meets. Phlegmmy gave me a box of the Clover Wonder Clips for my birthday to use with my leather work.

Before I knew it, Sunday afternoon was upon us and we still had to pick up Teen Bot and get on home. The weekend was over entirely too soon. This tells me that we’ll have to get together more often. I feel like it’s safe to say that it was a well-needed and deserved break for the lot of us. It was a lovely time of kicking back, putting our feet up, and letting off some steam. Thanks again, friends. And, if you find that bag of ghost peppers, just dispose of them however you see fit. We’re looking forward to seeing you again in October.

Ruger 22/45 – Initial Review

Through some horse trading and such, I took possession of a brand new Ruger 22/45 on Thursday. After much discussion, Jennifer and I decided that we wanted the model that has the threaded barrel. If silencers ever actually go non-NFA, we’ll probably get a few of them. Until then, I don’t see paying the $200.00 racket and putting my name on the list of ‘those people’. Incidentally, did you realize that the threads for these .22-caliber silencers are the same as the threads on an AR-15 compensator? So, if you have a .223 silencer, it stands to reason that it will screw right onto the Ruger pistol. Not only that, but an M16 birdcage will fit on the 22/45 barrel as though it was intended to be there.

So anyway, this contraption was one of the many items of interest that we took with us when we visited Phlegmmy and LawDog this weekend, although they seemed to be more excited about the avocados. LawDog took this pistol in his paw and scratched his head, with a puzzled look on his face.

“That looks almost like an M16A2 birdcage on the muzzle,” he mused.

“It is an M16A2 birdcage,” I confirmed.

“Did it come like that?” he asked.

“Nope,” I answered, “I installed that yesterday.”

“Why?” he asked, still puzzled.

“Because we can and it’s fun,” Jennifer explained.

“Hmm,” he shrugged, “Fair enough. It does look kind of cool – like a Buck Rogers gun.”

Somehow, we’d made it across state lines with no more range toys than a couple of .22s. Even so, we managed to get out to the range with LawDog and throw copeous amounts of tiny lead projectiles downrange. Our S&W 617 performed predictably and boringly well. Phlegmmy’s lever action was dead accurate and ran all varieties of .22, although it was a little picky on the lever stroke with certain cartridges. The little Ruger exceeded every one of my expectations. We probably put more lead through it than the other guns combined, by a factor of two. In total, we went through about 600-700 hollow points, about 150-Colibris, and probably fifty each of CCI’s CB Shorts and .22 Quiets. The 22/45 didn’t so much as hiccup on anything. Of course, the lower powered ammunition would not work the action, but we’re not counting that as a flaw of the gun.

It seems to be dead-nuts accurate and it simply begs to be shot and shot and shot. Once we got back to the fort, I took down the Ruger and reassembled it, as I had heard that these things can be a challenge. That didn’t seem so hard. So, I took it down again. And then, it wouldn’t go back together. After futzing with it and growling at it for some time, I finally put it back in its little soft case and forgot about it for the night. The next morning, it slid together without issue. Last night, when Jennifer and I returned to the Evyl Robot Empyre, I gave both .22s a thorough cleaning and oiling, and touched up the polish on the 617. Oh yes, I suddenly realize that I haven’t given the revolver a proper review… We’ll have to fix that.

Anyway, we’re pretty thrilled with the Ruger. I’m less than excited about the magazine disconnect, and the gun requires that you use the slide release rather than being able to slingshot the bolt as you would the slide on a centerfire pistol, but I’m told these are easily correctable problems. As opposed to its Mark-series cousins, it does have a traditional magazine release in the proper location, and the bolt does lock back on an empty magazine. And, it happily runs hollow points. The factory sights are plenty acceptable, but I may want to install a set of hi-viz sights before I’m done with it. I’ve got a holster in the works for it that is turning out to be at least as sci-fi looking as the gun. It’s giving me an opportunity to work out some concepts at least. I expected to do some work to the pistol, but it is far better out of the box than I expected. If you’re looking for an affordable .22 pistol, I wouldn’t hesitate to give this one my recommendation.

Oh, Please Save Us Too!!!

Something that I keep hearing as I’ve gone further down the rabbit hole on preparedness that I’m sure many of you have heard as well is this, “I know you’re armed. If anything big happens, I’ll just come to your place!” Wrong answer, Bucko. Actually, this is only wrong about 95% of the time I hear it. Why the hell to people just assume that we’d defend their unprepared butts if the place went all to Crapsville? If the apocalypse did happen, do you have any idea how many people we’d have to turn away at the door with a shotgun? I’m not trying to be callous, I’m trying to be realistic in a situation when such actions might otherwise be appropriate anyway.

My friend Will (whose business I need a persistent link to here) related a story to me once. A girl he was friends with once called him on the phone in hysteric terror, saying that someone was trying to break into her home, and he needed to come save her NAOW!!!!! His response was a simple, “Do it yourself!” Even telling me the story, he apologized for his callousness. But, no. Even though it is true that those who choose to not arm and train gain safety benefits tangentially from those of us who do arm ourselves and train. In a place that supports CCW, the bad guys don’t know who is an easy mark and who carries tools of death. This makes them think a little harder before they commit evil. Additionally, if I’m in a position of being threatened at the same time as one of the unarmed, there is a likelihood that my self-defense actions will save them as well. However, I do not arm and train to save them, but myself. It is not anyone else’s job to ensure their security but themselves. Indeed, if Will had run to the rescue of his friend in need and shot the bad guy, that would make him a vigilante. Apparently she dialed the wrong number – she should have dialed 911, since she didn’t choose to protect herself. The callous one in his story was his friend, who took none of the responsibility for her own safety and expected him to put his neck out there because he did prepare. No. Sorry, but no.

If the world I know went into total chaos, I have no doubt that fellow victims would try to come and hunker, using my resources, bringing nothing to the game with them. As a liability, a parasite. They only show up because they know they can’t survive on their own. And, it’s true. Turning them away is a death sentence. Not only would they have to be met with arms, as mentioned above, I fully expect that things may have to turn immediately lethal with a person who I may have previously considered a friend. I also know many who are prepared in ways that I might not be. If you showed up with a truckload of non-perishables or extra ammo, or tools, and asked to join the party, I might have a different answer. If you showed up with an intangible toolbox full of practical skills, I’d be more likely to let you aboard. Additionally, I have no doubt that I know people who would welcome me and mine into their own fortification for the same reason, that I am bringing goods to the party. They know that I won’t suck their resources so much as combine my own with theirs to make the whole stronger.

To some, it may just seem mean-spirited, but if everything went upside down, it would not be about being ‘nice’ so much as surviving. Consideration for those totally unprepared would be a luxury we could, in large part, simply not afford. This would, of course, have to be delicately balanced with reasonable compassion. So, what to take away from today’s rant? I’m really preaching to the choir on this one. Perhaps it’s this: If it’s the end of the world, and you show up at your Prepared Buddy’s hole-up, you had better ask yourself why he should let you in beyond simply being buddies. Because if things have gotten as bad as they ever could, he can’t provide for all of his friends. You should have thought more about that before it came to this. Best of luck to you.

No Longer Dark or, “Boy, Wouldn’t It Be Nice to Have an IT Department”

Yesterday, I warned you that my computer would be down for a while. And, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “But Evyl, didn’t you go through this just about a year ago?” *Grumble rumble razzin frazzin…* And yes, I did some major work to my computer and wiped the drive to install 7 almost exactly one year ago. “In fact,” you then ask, “haven’t you had lots of trouble with that computer? Why don’t you just get a new one?” *Grumble Mumble Growl…* Look, these things are expensive for one. Add to that the fact that I’m stubborn and cheap. I’d probably be better off to spend the money on a good new computer with paid security software on it, but I’m going to nurse this one along for the time being. Anyway, I again went to wrenching on the thing. Once I got into it, it was far worse off than I had previously realized. There was a point in time that I would futz with these things and pull them back from the brink of destruction. As long as the worms and malwares aren’t buried too deep, I can still dig them out. However, at this point in life, if they’re bad enough, I’ll just wipe them and start over. That’s where this one was. I was getting weird pop-ups in every browser I used, and they started losing consistency, and I couldn’t identify the software doing the popping. So, I backed up my files on the network, nuked the hard drive and reinstalled 7 Ultimate from scratch. I figured that would take a while. But really, this has been the easiest, smoothest installation I’ve done on this machine, anyway. In fact, once Windows gets the bazillion updates downloaded and installed, I need to reinstall the network printer and I should be done. Not too shabby! It’s been so pain-free in fact, that I may just nuke the hard drive and reinstall the OS every August as routine maintenance. So, that’s about it for now. I think I’ll try to get Chatzilla configured so I can bug some of you fine people in GBC.

Fuzz-Head & Random Thoughts

I’ve been telling Jennifer on and off for years that she should shave her head sometime, not because I’m sadistic (well, this is not evidence of my sadism anyway), but because I know she’s pretty enough to pull it off. I’d still be crazy about her even if she wasn’t. Her looks aside, her hair grows fast enough that I knew it would be back in no time. Two weeks ago, we actually did shave her head in support of cancer victims, as you already know. Anyway, here’s what she looks like now:

Her hair has grown at least a quarter of an inch since we sheared her. Yeah, by Blogorado, she’ll be shaggier than a crew cut, unless she decides to trim it up between now and then. Even if she doesn’t, I’ll likely reshave my head before then, not like that’s newsworthy. Incidentally, the reason we didn’t call Schutenfest “Bloglahoma” is that sounds like something that got caught in your throat and you regret choking on in polite company. I’ve got loose visions for a logo, as it looks like it’s turning into a full-on annual event. Anyway, I took the above pics with my new Nikon AW100, which deserves its own post altogether. And speaking of gear reviews, I may have a redux to my Double Tap post, without giving too much away too soon.

And guess who I’m listening to this morning…

We could have had an owl
Rolling in DDT
You had my hardened Sal
Dee yea haw
But you plaited
To the bee.

First one to guess correctly wins one hundred internets.

Derringers – Hating on Heizer

For any of you who have been reading my blog for some time, you may recall me going on quite the epic rant against derringers for personal defense. If you haven’t read that one, I wish you would consider doing so now, as I was pretty proud of that post. Recently, my friend JayG rementioned on his blog the Heizer DoubleTap. I remember when everyone came back from NRA talking about this little pistol. I remember scratching my head at the time, knowing that I should weigh in on this thing. And, since I didn’t then, I will now.

This actually is a fascinating little pistol with a lot going for it. There are features that I admire about it and others that I would change if I could. Firstly, this diminutive pistol is in one of my favorite handgun chamberings, .45 ACP. Even in underweight packages, the recoil is very manageable. This cartridge has legendary stopping power with a century proving itself on and off the battlefield. Let’s stick with .45 ACP for this thought experiment. Also, I like the double-action trigger. A relatively long and heavy trigger on a defensive carry pistol is ideal. Let’s simplify the manual of arms to a single press of the trigger, if at all possible.

The fact that they made this gun out of titanium is pretty neat, but I find it to be unnecessary. Titanium is cool – I am wearing two knives and a pair of earrings made out of the stuff. But, it’s also expensive. I’d like to switch this pistol’s construction to something more like a reinforced polymer with stainless steel parts at all the high-stress points. This should keep the gun light and durable, but put its price point a little lower, so more people will be able to afford it. Or, make the gun in straight stainless steel as long as it stays small enough to keep the weight down.

The two-barrel design is interesting, but it does have its disadvantages. A double bore tends to suffer from one of two conditions. Either it’s expensive or inaccurate. The thing is, the machining and tooling it takes to assure that both bores will strike to the same point of aim can be pricey, not to mention the added labor to assure such precision work. The manufacturer clearly needs to recover associated costs. Let’s drop the second bore and keep this as a one-barreled proposal. Just like the material switch in the above paragraph, this will make these cheaper to build well.

The porting is silly. Right now, I’m wearing a pair of S&W 586L-Comps. These have ported barrels. For whatever recoil mitigation they might do, the upward-directed flash is blinding in low-light conditions. It’s pretty commonly known that criminals strike under the cover of darkness. When the adrenaline hits, you won’t feel the recoil. If you’re blind, you can’t make a follow-up shot. No, let’s skip the barrel porting.

Speaking of follow-up shots, it’s pretty cool that Heizer put two extra shots in the grip of their little gun. Since I just reduced this gun to one barrel for the sake of simplification of production, I’ll probably want to put more than two extra shots in the grip. I think I’d like the grip to hold like probably five extra cartridges. And, it would be really cool if somebody would design a system so that when you fired the gun, it would automatically dump your empty shell and pull the next cartridge out of the grip where you’ve got it stored and put it in the chamber.

Now that would make for a cool pistol! That would make a great BUG or primary for extremely hot weather. Could you imagine? If they chambered it in 9mm instead, there are even more possibilities that they could go with! Apply this formula to .380, and who knows what could happen?

UPDATE – See comments from Eric below. He’s corrected some of my points from this post.