Wednesday, September 21, 2016

As Charlotte burns

We almost made it through the summer without the predicted "long, hot summer of discontent" coming to pass. Almost.  The last couple of weeks...well, just dammit.  Now it's come home to roost in North Carolina.

I'm listening to the Charlotte/Mecklenburg PD feed on my smartphone scanner app.  Yes, using 21st Century technology to listen in on one of the oldest entertainments of the human race--rioting and looting.  This time a member of a local constabulary (who just happened to be black) shot a black man, possibly for the wrong reason, and predictably, the masses have decided to protest by breaking windows and at last count, looting a drug store, the Epicenter entertainment complex and the Carolina Panthers Stadium (heard it on the scanner, bet that one doesn't get any media play).  Reports of  "man with a gun" have gotten so prolific that it's not worth the effort to keep up with them, as have the reports of "shots fired".  Tear gas has been used.  Medic, the Charlotte/Mecklenburg EMT service, is running the wheels off its units.

I would not want to be in Charlotte tonight.  I am thankful that Daughter graduated from her university there several years ago and is safely ensconced one room over from where I write this.  I am grateful for the comforting weight of the pistol on my hip, even though I'm 70 miles away.  No, it isn't a magic talisman, but it sure is a comfort item right now.

The Perversity Factor of the universe is high tonight.  We just heard several loud explosions from the direction of the local high school.  That is also the direction of one of the local electrical substations, and it's awfully dark up that way.  I'm torn between a quick recon and hunkering down right where I am.  Hunkering down feels smarter.  I'll go with that.

I believe I need to reprogram a scanner tomorrow with some local utility frequencies, though.

Now the call has come in over the scanner--the arson is starting.  Small scale stuff, fires in trash cans.  That won't last long.  It's after 10 PM and the witching hour fast approaches.  The Carolina Bobcats arena has apparently been hit and now some roads are being blocked.  The police still sound calm and collected--not a sing of panic in anyone's voice, which bodes well.  I suspect there are very few CMPD officers not on duty tonight.  I hope that they can stay safe as they try to keep some semblance of the peace.

City transit has now been shut down, incoming and outgoing.  More fires, this time outside a large hotel--the one we stayed in for Daughter's graduation.  For tragi-comic relief, a call about two black females selling marijuana and Ecstasy pills in the riot zone.

We live in Heinlein's Crazy Years, the years of the Fourth Turning.  Others opine that we are at the point where the "War Cycle", one I'm not familiar with, is due to heat up soon.  They say it will start in North Korea, but tonight if feels like it's North Carolina.

Now officers are meeting a hail of thrown rocks, and a garbled report of a unit "stuck" somewhere.  A wreck with entrapment.  Walmart is closing and workers request rides/escorts home.  I'm encouraged to hear some calls being cleared.

It occurs to me to check the traffic cameras--Charlotte is lousy with the things.  The Interstates--85, 77, 485--are unbelievably empty, just a few cars where there should still be hundreds at this hour.  It seems that people are sticking close to home.  I wonder if travelers have gotten the word that Charlotte is a mini-war zone and have detoured or simply stopped and are waiting for daylight to make a run for it?

Trying to check other local places, the Charlotte Douglas Airport web server is down.  Interesting.  None of the local colleges or universities have anything on their web sites.  Their Twitter feeds have some things, mostly from various individuals venting.

It's now 11 PM and it doesn't seem to be slowing down as far as the volume of calls, but the seriousness of the calls seems to be easing up.  This is the first good sign so far.  Another good sign is that the individual reported dead is now being reported still alive, but in critical condition.  The opportunistic criminals are beginning to take advantage of the PD's near total involvement downtown and are beginning to commit crimes such as armed robbery elsewhere in the city (something else I bet the media won't tell you).

Here's a report of several individuals threatening to go downtown and "fix the protesters".  Great Bleeding Ghu, Bubba, put down your beer and think that one through again.  Isn't there enough trouble without you and your buddies aggravating things?

Maybe not.  There is a report of a large-ish group of motorcycles back by cars moving into downtown.  No mention who is driving.  Please, not another Klan-Nazi shootout.

Good grief, now we have an "armed to the terror of the public" call.  We're using a Jim Crow law to go after black rioters.  Jesus wept.

Things were starting to heat back up and bingo, it got quiet.  Scanner app could not connect.  Checked Broadcastify, they show their feed down by request of the CMPD.  I've also tried another scanner app with no luck.  So now it's a black hole down there as we get to rely on the media for word of what's going on.  I'm sure that's going to work well.

It's going to be a long night for Charlotte.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Alert! One of the Seven Seals has been broken!

I have managed to purchase .22 LR ammo at a Walmart without any extra jumping through hoops such as knowing someone, arriving at some special time or any of those sorts of things.

Sorry, it was the last box.  It won't do any good to tell you where I got 350 rounds for $18.

Heck, maybe this being retired thing won't be so bad after all.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Catching up on range time

I will say one thing for being involuntarily retired--you have time to catch up on things that you don't have time to do when you're busy being a wage slave, as long as they either don't cost a lot of money or they use items or supplies previously purchased.  Today we made use of items in the later category.

A few weeks ago Son and I had ventured forth to the Greensboro Gun Show.  Son was looking for his first pistol to go with his shiny new Concealed Carry License.  He had been looking for some time and had his eye on the Sig P938 BRG while I was looking for nothing in particular.  He was able to find his pistol without too much trouble at one of my two go-to dealers for such things.  (Yes, that's why they are my go-to dealers.)

In my case, as usual when you aren't looking for anything in particular, things sort of follow you home.  (This is why I won't be going to gun shows for a while.)  In this case it was a Ruger LC9S Pro with a Crimson Trace Laser Guard.  Mrs. Freeholder is both recoil sensitive and doesn't care for heavy pistols, a recipe for difficult buying.  And yes, I perfectly aware that one shouldn't buy a pistol for one's spouse without their being around to handle it.  Not an issue here, as I figured I'd be perfectly happy to use it myself if she doesn't care for it.

I also ran into a friend from my range who was selling off some guns.  He is recently retired and his wife has decreed that some of his collection must go.  So I picked up a nice unfired Smith and Wesson 642 CT.  This is the fully shrouded hammer lightweight J-frame .38 Special +P.  My fourth J-frame; the things are like potato chips to me.  I love 'em.

So today it was time to head to the range and try all of these guys out.  Son started with his P938.  I love the boy, but he has some serious bad habits to unlearn.  Between recoil anticipation and jerking/snatching the trigger, he shoots patterns, not groups.  The gun, however, can deliver groups, so we know the gun is OK.  We had one problem with a single magazine failing to feed Federal Hydra-shok ammo when filled to its 7 round capacity.  Other than that, the gun shot fine, not one problem.  I did not shoot it, so I can't testify to it's shooting characteristics.  I can say that while we are both not working, we are going to start spending some quality time at the range with .22s and work on those problems.  They have got to go.

I first tried the LC9S, and was rather pleasantly surprised.  I've read the reviews, and honestly, I really didn't think a gun at this price point was going to be all that great.  I was wrong.  It is a very nice, relatively soft-shooting pistol when you consider it's size and weight and the round it was firing (115 gr ball and 124 gr Federal Hydra Shoks).  At no time did it feel overly difficult to control.  I've shot a number of the small 9s, and some of them can be a little lively--not the sort of gun I would recommend for a newer shooter.  The little Ruger, on the other hand, I would feel comfortable putting in the hands of a shooter with less experience.  With a few tips on recoil control I believe a newish shooter would find themselves shooting accurately very quickly...

Assuming they can master those God-awful sights.  For crying out loud, couldn't we pay an extra $25 or something and get some decent sights on this gun?  I understand that we want a low profile sight because this is meant to be a carry gun, but even with the laser, I want usable sights, and these ain't them.  I'm looking for replacements, and I looks like I'm going to be at a minimum $100 for a decent set of sights and the necessary tools to install them.  Ruger, fix these sights.

My second gun was the Smith 642.  Loading it with some PMC brass-cased .38 Special, My first round was slightly to the right of the 2" black dot I was aiming for and elicited shout of "Ho-lee shit!"  As the real gun writers would say, recoil is quite lively.  At slightly less than 1 pound, the 642 simply has no mass to suck up the recoil of even standard .38 Special.

This doesn't mean the gun is uncontrollable.  You simply have to get a good grip, similar to the one you might use on a 14' rattler that you were holding just behind the head while it was trying to get free to bite you.  I'm exaggerating, of course, but you do have to get a very good grip and put all your recoil control skills to work if you plan on shooting this gun quickly with any acceptable level of accuracy.  After 3 cylinders or so, I had it figured out and was shooting an acceptable group at 15 yards.  More practice would of course yield better results.

We had a wonderful Sunday afternoon.  Even though it was still quite warm, you can tell that autumn will be here soon.  Some of the trees are already starting to show the very first signs of their summer green fading a bit, and the hickories were dropping nuts already.  Someone at the range cleanup day had piled firewood at several of the burn barrels in preparation for the cooler months.

Autumn has always been my favorite time of year.  I love the colors and the smells and I enjoy the work that comes with it, putting gardens to bed, splitting and hauling firewood and all the rest.  I have to admit that as I enter my own personal autumn, it takes on a bit more bittersweet flavor than it had 20 years ago.  But still, it's my favorite time of year, and being able to enjoy an early autumn afternoon at the range with my son is one of those things that will help me me warm when the inevitable winter comes.