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

A Rossi? Really?

I have not been a fan of any of the products of the Taurus group in the past. Sorry, Gabe. I’m not hating. You’re gun is still cool. I have a dear friend who purchased a model 10 from a local pawn shop. It’s from the Bangor Punta era that we Smith fans are supposed to sneer at, but it is still a pretty sweet gun. Well… I have pined for a decent revolving carbine chambered in .357 Magnum. Or even better, .44 Magnum. And then…

croppedrevolver1

What? What do we have here?

croppedrevolver2

Umm… This appears to be a revolving carbine in .44 Magnum. In a bright blue. With walnut furniture.

croppedrevolver3

Yeah. We may just have to get one of these babies.

I, Bigfoot – Part 1

This is the sequel to The Becoming, which I serialized here over the last couple of months. The previous nine installments were just a weird dream I had one night. As a testament to the power of the human subconscious mind, I recall getting up that night to use the bathroom and having the dream when I went back to bed, so the entire thing came about in only a couple hours’ time. It was so random and epic and weird that I had to write it up and share it. And, it had so many loose ends that I kind of had to continue it with my waking mind. You can start at the beginning here, and the last installment can be found here. Again, next week when it publishes, part 2 will be here.

General Havoc returned to the control room where Shelby met him. He carried a heavy air of worry as he proceed through to his office and Shelby followed him in. “What happened?” she asked him.

He sighed, “She made me cut off pursuit.”

“Well, that was pretty obvious,” Shelby pushed.

“We’re going to have to convince Reid and Naomi to work for us,” he declared resolutely.

Shelby asked, “so you’re going to hire them?”

“I don’t really have a choice,” he answered her, “they seem to trust you more than about anyone else. Would you be so kind as to get them for me?”

I awoke to a knock at the door to our quarters. I didn’t even know that I had fallen asleep. When I realized what was going on, I leaped to my feet and approached the door. “Who is is?” I demanded.

“It’s Shelby,” came a voice from the other side of the door, “can I come in?”

I looked at Naomi, who sleepily nodded her head as she sat up on the edge of the bed. I opened the door, and before I could say anything, Shelby began talking to us, “I know that you two are angry right now, and I know that you have a lot of resentment towards General Havoc and the other people who work here, but please do try to keep an open mind. Havoc wants to meet with you and talk about some options.”

“Options?!?” I cried, “our options are none of his business! We’re leaving this place and never coming back.”

“To do what, Reid?” Shelby asked, “you are an eight foot tall ape. Are you going to just go back to your suburban lifestyle? Are you going to get a job waiting tables? You know, they don’t even really build cars or homes sized for your stature. Please just at least hear Havoc out. As much as I hate what’s been done to you, it is done. We can genuinely help you at this point, if you’ll let us.”

She had a point. I sighed, “fine. We’ll hear him out. But, I’m not going to rule out the possibility of burrowing our way out of this building to go and live in the woods somewhere.”

This is how we found ourselves at a table in a conference room that we didn’t previously know existed. Havoc was at the table with us, as were Shelby and a couple of men that we hadn’t met before.

“Reid and Naomi,” said Havoc, “I would like to apologize for the way you’ve been treated.”

I really hated this guy. “I would like to run your head through this table,” I muttered at him, and then out loud, “don’t you think that we deserve just a tad more than a simple apology?”

The man to Havoc’s right had a notebook that he scribbled some notes into.

“Yes I do,” Havoc said. “We can offer you a real opportunity here. We can certainly use your talents.”

“We’ve heard all of this before,” Naomi said, “that’s how you led us into this mess in the first place. The real question is, why in the world should we help you?”

“Fair enough,” Havoc said, “I feel like we can help each other.”

“And,” I interrupted, “you owe us some answers. Why’d you call off your thugs yesterday?”

Havoc sighed deeply, “well, all of us answer to someone. I was instructed to cut off pursuit and to make ovations toward you.”

“I don’t think that word means what you think it means,” Naomi stated flatly, “why did you try to brainwash us? Why did you turn us into the things we are now?”

“It’s difficult to explain,” said Havoc slowly and deliberately, as though he was calculating every word, “the program tends to work better when our front line individuals are devoted to the establishment primarily.”

His cold attitude toward the ‘front line individuals’ made my scalp tingle with my rage, “You are kidnapping people, brainwashing them, and deforming their bodies without their consent. How many laws are you breaking; both codified laws and natural laws? Can’t you see that this is wrong?”

Havoc stared at me for a moment prior to answering, “everyone who enters the program does so of their own free will.”

“Your program is misrepresented, and you use drugs to influence your volunteers,” I corrected him, “give me one good reason we shouldn’t walk right out that door and never darken it again.”

“Reid,” Shelby said, “I tried to tell you earlier…” and then, Havoc cut her off.

“Reid,” he said, “you are a Bigfoot. Where are you going to go? Naomi, you are an Electra. Where do you propose that the two of you will go together? If you stay here, we can give you a life. You will be paid handsomely and your every need will be taken care of. You both have abilities now that you didn’t have before, and we can help you learn how to use them to their fullest.”

“We will not be separated again,” Naomi said resolutely, “that’s my first condition.”

“Agreed,” I crossed my arms.

“Done,” Havoc said.

“Ever,” clarified Naomi, “when we train, we train together. If you have to make changes to the very facility to make that happen, then that is my condition.”

“And, we get to leave anytime we see fit for whatever reason or no reason at all, at our option, with or without notice,” I added.

“That’s a lot to ask,” noted Havoc.

“Dude,” I snapped back, “you have to understand that we have suffered some pretty heavy violation at your hands. We are not your little mindless puppets, and these are our conditions to assure we don’t get screwed anymore.”

“No, that’s not it,” Havoc said, “Electros work with Electros and Sasquatch work with Sasquatch. What you’re asking us to do is completely restructure the social structure of our teams.”

“Figure it out,” Naomi said, with a few sparks showering from the corners of her eyes. I still didn’t have any clue what all she could do now. The sparks were subtle, but took me by surprise.

“We will,” Havoc cautioned, “but you will likely hear about it from the other creatures working here. They’ve all been conditioned to do this one way, and they won’t easily accept what you are proposing. We can mitigate that to an extent by making you staff and giving you staff quarters instead of general population quarters.”

“So,” I clarified, “if we leave, we’ll be outcasts. If we stay, we’ll be outcasts. We’ll be together either way though? I can live with that.”

Havoc continued, “there is going to be friction, but if your friction spills out and causes issues between the Electros and the Sasquatch in general, we’re going to have bigger problems.”

“Do you have a frog in your pocket?” snapped Naomi.

“All I’m asking is that you make an attempt at keeping the peace,” General Havoc flushed with suppressed annoyance. Turning to the man to his left, “can you prepare their new quarters in the staff section, and begin whatever we need to give them their own training area?”

The man gave a speechless nod as he stood up from the table and left the room.

NRA 2013 – Thursday and Friday

Thursday, Jennifer and I got up early with the plan to pick up the rent-a-heap (as OldNFO calls it), with the intent of her taking our Compact Tactical Assault Sedan to work while I took the foster car home to load our junk, ready to drive once she got home from the office. She had a couple of loose ends to tie up before she could take off, but she was still planning to cut out early. The rental company jacked up our reservation and didn’t have our car by 7:30 as arranged. At that time, they offered excuses and said they could take a car to her office by nine. They didn’t have a compact, as we had booked, so they were going to upgrade us to a midsize. I dropped her off at work and took our CTAS home. At nine, she texted to let me know that the rental company had not yet delivered a car. She called and reamed them a new one, so they ‘upgraded’ us, once again, to a Dodge Avenger. Our original booking must have been for a two-door Speck with a three hamster engine. They got her the car at around 9:30, and we were on the road by ten. In all fairness, the rental company was extremely receptive to our multiple complaints and has made overtures to remedy the mishandling.

The drive was not terribly noteworthy, considering we drove through both Dallas and Houston. There weren’t too many situations in which I knew we were about to see some idiot cause a forty car pile-up because he was in such a hurry to rush up and tailgate the next driver in line or cut across four lanes of traffic with no signal, or both. Maybe I’m just growing patience with age. Thursday night, we met up with some of our friends for some Cajun food. Jennifer and I split a dozen oysters on ice, five pounds of crawfish, sausage, potatoes, and corn. Yum! Friday morning, we woke up at the butt crack of freaking dawn and headed down to the convention center. Parking was a veritable nightmare. If you don’t mind spending $30 to park your car for a day, it wasn’t bad at all, but that is extortion, IMHO.

The show was what I have come to expect out of a trade show. There were lots of pretties to handle and we got to meet many interesting people. Some of them are people that we have grown to know and respect online, others that we only knew by reputation prior to this weekend, and still others that were fresh introductions. Also, we had the opportunity to catch up with some old friends, if not nearly enough of them. But, that’s how these things go. It seems like no matter how much you try to pack into each day of the weekend, in the end you’re always short on time. Please do expect some pics and accounts of guns and gear, as well as more detailed stories, and it looks like we’ll have some extended test and evaluation stuff to look forward to. In the meantime, I’ll post some more updates tomorrow, and suffice it to say that it’s been an extraordinary trip so far.

Don’t Text and Drive!

I have a solitaire app on my phone that I enjoy playing from time to time. On one of its ‘updates’, it started this annoying little habit of displaying an advertisement prior to dealing my cards. During deer season, this was particularly bothersome when it was a video commercial with sound. Fortunately, it’s usually just an image, or a video with a play button, as opposed to one that auto starts. For example, something like this:

dont text and drive

Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep the car on the road when I’m trying to clear off some stupid public safety announcement so I can play solitaire?