Saturday, February 04, 2017

Quick note on labels

I'm starting to use labels, which allow me and you to organize and search posts by categories. You can use the label widget over on the right to see posts by alphabetical (well, actually the ASCII collating sequence) category. With over 4100 posts, I seriously doubt I'll ever label everything, so the search widget will still be your friend when looking for something specific.

Edit:  I've went back a little over 3 years.  I haven't labeled every post, many of them are ephemeral in nature and simply don't merit it--who cares about the 2014 elections now except historians? I may label ones from further back if I happen onto them for some reason, but I think that's going to be enough.

Toward a useful first aid kit

Everyone has seen and some of us have purchased a pre-packaged "first aid kit". You know, one of the little plastic boxes with the pretty red cross and the hopelessly inadequate selection of band-aids, a roll or two of gauze, some crappy "surgical tape" and assorted useless stuff. If you're of a certain age, you parents always kept one in the car, just in case there was an accident and they needed to save someone's life with a well-placed bandage.

I won't even dignify them by saying that they are "better than nothing", because they aren't. All they do is give people a false sense of security. Most people will do better to remember to dial 9-1-1 in a hurry than to have one of these around.

You also have these. Most people think of them as a "military first aid bag". They are, sort of, but aren't, really. They are larger and actually contain more and more useful stuff. You actually need some training, most of it fairly basic, to make effective use of one of these. They are a handy thing to have if you're an EMT, perhaps. Of course, an EMT would probably build their own. A group of people that are prepping together might have one to go along with a more in-depth stock of medical supplies and a couple of people who are trained to use them.

Then we have something like this. There are a number of versions of them out there. This particular one is the well thought of D.A.R.K Trauma Kit from DARK Angel Medical. It can be customized to some extent depending on your needs, and contains the gear you need to help someone who has suffered a serious traumatic injury, such as a gunshot wound or an explosive amputation. It is specifically not for bumps and bruises, folks. You should have a well-stocked medicine cabinet for that sort of thing.

Being a cheap bastard, I didn't spring for the DARK Angel kit. I built my own. Actually, I built several. One travels in my range bag, because it's a range bag. Even though my range seriously stresses safety, it's one of the places I go to where a gunshot wound is most likely to happen. They have trauma bags spotted around, and I have my own.

I keep one in each vehicle. Vehicle wrecks are violent things, and body parts can be removed. As has been pointed out in other posts you'll find in this same label, a tourniquet is the gold standard to keep an amputation victim from bleeding to death before they can get to "real" help.

Writing this, I need to build one or more for my home. Home defense happens, and I have power tools. Amazing what you think of when you're explaining something to someone else.

What's in my kit? It varies, but in general (links go to Amazon, buy the stuff wherever you want):

Training is also a good thing. In person from someone like the Patriot Nurse is best, but videos will do if that's the best you can do.

Practice. Sacrifice an Israeli bandage and a tourniquet and practice on yourself (you may be self-rescuing) and on someone else.

Let's hope this is like the best insurance--you pay for it and never use it.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Can it be fixed?

No, I'm not talking about my malfunctioning Glock 30, now on its way to Georgia. I'm talking about things in general. Can that piece of electronics gadgetry you bought last year for $350 be fixed if it breaks this year, 3 months out of warranty? Or do you just toss it and get another because by the time you box it up, haul it to the UPS Store and pay them to ship it, pay for the repair and then listen to your family complain for up to 6 weeks about not having said gadget, it's just less likely that you will show up on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list if you toss it and buy a new one?

Yeah. Been there. However, I'm also a hard-headed cheapskate, so I'm well know for grabbing whatever the dead offender is, grumbling that "I can't make it broker", and heading off to the basement to see what I can do. At worst, I've wasted an hour or so, usually I pick up a spare bit or two and once in a great while I actually fix the thing.

It seems that nearly all small appliances, a lot of major ones, most electronics and too many other things are not meant to be repaired. They are designed for ease of manufacture, not ease of maintenance--or any maintenance at all. Worse yet, they aren't designed to be recycled, either.

I'm past tired of tossing things out or trying to figure out how to get them recycled when I'm relatively sure all they need is a small repair.  When my old iPhone 5s began not holding a battery charge last year, rather than going to Verizon and getting a new phone (and a new contract), I went to iFixit, go a battery and some inexpensive tools and changed the battery. Not terribly difficult, even if it did take a bit longer than they said it should.

That purchase got me on iFixit's email list, which I'm cool with. Today I had an email about "Stand up for your Right to Repair!" land in my inbox. It seems that several states are looking at passing laws to somehow help ensure that consumers have access to repair information and parts. Not a big fan of big government, but at least their heart is in the right place, even if they stand to make some coin from selling the tools and such.

I've seen similar legislation in the past for things like auto parts and independent auto repair shops, and I'm pretty sure that those laws are the only reason my mechanic is still able to eek out a living.

I'd like to see not only a move to force the availability of repair parts and knowledge, but a move to push manufacturers to design their goods to actually be repaired. It will drive up the purchase price to some extent, but it should reduce the overall cost of ownership, and that's something we should all be able to benefit from.

This could go all kinds of wrong

As gunnies and concealed carriers, we all know that a meeting with the police has some amount of hazard to it. Anyone with a brain knows that, despite what we might wish to be true, certain groups have a well-founded fear of interactions with the police, based on painful experience. Dealing with someone who can deprive you of your freedom is, whether it should be or not, scary, especially if you aren't the one instigating the contact.

Some of these problems are our fault. If you're stopped by a cop and you decide to get your attitude on, even if you're justified, even if the officer is wrong, it probably isn't going to go well for you. Sure, if you're justified, the cop should back off, but we adults  know that isn't going to happen. Go along, document everything later and let your lawyer argue the point in court--you will never win the argument on the sidewalk. Even if it means getting arrested, you really need to STFU and ask for an attorney. Don't argue with the po-po, I'm telling you.

In what I'm sure is an honest attempt to help young people learn the easy way, rather than by painful experience, how to successfully deal with the police, a North Carolina legislator has filed a bill that will make "what to do if you're pulled over by an officer of the law" part of the driver education curriculum.

I want to look away, but I sense a train wreck coming.

One more C-A-T video

Here's the last one I'm going to post, DIY, for an arm.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

A new gun malfunction

This past weekend I went to the Greensboro Gun Show and acquired a Glock 30 Gen 4. I'd decided that I needed to up my carry gun game, and this was the gun I believed would be the current best choice for that slot, given my particular prejudices, needs and overall situation, including budget.

So, yesterday I took it to the range to begin the break-in process. Two shots and I'm getting hit in the head by flying brass. WTF? How does this happen? So I resume, and I continue to get pelted. This goes on for 120 rounds. Roughly half the rounds ping me somewhere at the shoulders or above, most of the rest barely miss me. I'm literally standing in a pile of brass.

Yeah, call me stupid, but I was wondering if it was some weird break-in issue I could shoot through.

That night, I start Googling.  Let's see, "glock ejector problems" and boom, the Intertubz unleashes. Result #2 was a GlockTalk forum post on the topic, with the instructions "Google 'Glock BTF.'"

OK, I can handle that. The Intertubz answers the query with several metric tons of "Glock Brass To Face" results. It seems that late in the Gen 3s and going into the Gen 4s, 9mm Glocks came down with some sort of extractor issue. Unfortunately, it isn't restricted to the 9mm guns (thus my Glock 30, which is a .45 ACP gun) and it appears no one, including Glock, seems to know a surefire fix. Options include polishing the factory extractor, replacing it with a new billet extractor, changing various and sundry springs, ammo changes, sending back to the factory and sacrificing a live chicken. No option or group of options are guaranteed to work. It's a case-by-case thing.

Being this was a brand new gun, I decided to call Glock rather than doing things that would void the warranty. Their first question was "Have you tried different ammo?" Well no, I hadn't--I don't normally carry multiple brands to the range.  But I had carried my other Glock, a Glock 21 Gen 4, and it digested the same ammo just fine, thanks. Still, their suggestion was to try different ammo, and if that didn't work, send it back--on my dime, of course. Aren't warranties wonderful? So I plucked two different brands off the shelf and went back to the range. Same results.

Tomorrow my new gun may well be submitted to the tender mercies of FedEx Overnight for transport to Smyrna, GA. Based on more interrogation of the Intertubz, this may or may not solve the problem.

I'm less than thrilled with that knowledge as well as the idea I have to shell out $50 or so to test the theory. The Glocks were something of an experiment for me.  I've got a number of Springfield XD pistols, and I've never had any trouble from them, despite every jackass on the Intertubz telling me what pieces of crap they are.

I may also just call the dealer I bought it from and get their take on the situation. Depending on what they say, we may bypass FedEx and just move on to different pistol, perhaps even a different brand.

Hey Glock, you want to lose a customer? Because this is how you lose a customer--for life.

Edit, 2/2/2017: Well, all said and done, the final decision was to send it back to Glock. Thank God I live in North Carolina, because that kept the FedEx Overnight bill down to "just" $75. My amusement level is at zero and threatening to hit negative numbers. I almost hope the damn thing gets "lost in transit". It would be the most financially advantageous outcome I could get at this point.

Edit, 2/19/2017: If you're interested, the story continues here.

C-A-T Tourniquet Lower Exteremity Application Video Tutorial

In keeping with yesterday's video on applying the C-A-T tourniquet to an arm, here it is, DIY, for a leg.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Don't let your guard down

A lot of people think that since "our side" won, that we can ease up and take a break from prepping and training--maybe even spend some of that time and money on things that are more fun.

I've always advocated that you should live your life while you prep. It's like a diet--if all you do is starve yourself to loose weight, eventually you're going off the wagon, hard. Chances are, you may not climb back on for a long time, if ever. So eat what you like, just do it in moderation and get plenty of exercise, plenty of sleep and maybe meditate a bit. You'd be amazed at how well that works for losing weight, and a similar concept makes prepping a lot more pleasant than this eternal "OMG, we need to prep for the end of the world!" crap I see so much of.

Besides, if the world ends, by definition, you're going with it, no matter what.  :-)

So, since I have some excess time on my hands these days, I've been doing some trolling about the Intertubz, looking for bite-sized tidbits that can help with that sort of prepping.  Most people who work generally don't feel they can spare 30 minutes a day to read or watch videos, no matter how important it might be long term, and I get that.  I was that guy for years. So I'm going to start posting some things, hopefully one per day, that don't take that sort of time. There may also be a link to the long form on the subject, but the post plus the link will take you less than 10 minutes to read, listen to or watch.

First post is below, on the C-A-T Tourniquet. Enjoy.

C-A-T Tourniquet Upper Extremity Application Video Tutorial

Tourniquets used to be something that were all but banned from first aid and first responders. Wartime experience has shown that properly employed, they are life savers.

There are two widely recommended tourniquets, with the C-A-T being one.  This video covers application on an arm. The leg is similar but slightly different and you can get to that video and others from the same folks at the end of this video if you have time to watch.

When fencing counts

(Found on Facebook)

So Something Really Bad has happened, and your hobby garden now needs to be ramped up, because it's going to be one of your prime sources of food for some time to come. No problem, because you've been practicing on the hobby garden, you've got extra seeds, you have the tools and you've got some supplies stashed to make it happen.

So what are you going to do to keep the critters out? Right now, the stuff that the deer or rabbits eat is an inconvenience. In that new reality it may be the difference between survival and starvation.

Well, there are a lot of different sort of physical fencing, but they're expensive and you need a lot of hours of labor to put them up and maintain them, plus spare parts. I've seen some done with fishing line or similar fences done using white woven fabric tapes. I can't testify to how they work, because I haven't tried them, but I do have the materials stashed just in case.

I stumbled across another method, a "liquid fence" recipe.  Again, I'm not sure it it works, but at the very least it would probably keep vampires at bay.

Life Lesson--It's your mental toughness that counts

(From The Open Circle newsletter)

More years ago than I care to remember, I was undergoing remedial PT at Ft. Knox, KY. I had flunked the PT test that was needed to graduate from training, because I couldn't run for squat. I wasn't the only one, but our small and select group was of course singled out for some of that special drill sergeant love, because WE ARE GOING TO PASS OUR FUCKING PT TEST AREN'T WE LADIES?

YES DRILL SERGEANT!!!

So we ran. A lot. And we saw a side of our drill sergeants we had not seen before. I'm not going to say they got all warm and fuzzy, but let's say there was a lot less shouting and punishment and considerably more coaching, even it the volume was sometimes high. For the first time it became obvious, at least to me, that they really did want us to succeed, not only in getting through training, but as soldiers and as individuals. That was a bit of a shock after weeks of seeing them as a cross between Attila the Hun, the troll under a bridge and an ogre who simply wanted to eat you alive. There were human beings under those campaign hats.

I will never forget when one day, during a run, my drill sergeant not only identified why I couldn't run well (breath control--you'd be amazed how many things in life come down to breath control) and passed on a lesson that has lived with me to this day, and that I have passed on to my children and as many other people as I have been able to.

"Your mind will quit before your body will."

That one insightful sentence has been incredibly important to me for over 30 years. It has seen me through the times when I desperately wanted to just give up and quit. I hear that voice in my head saying "Your mind will quit before your body will." And I'll mutter or think "Yes Drill Sergeant!" and I'll push on.

That moment popped into my head when I read "Bulletproof Mind: 6 Secrets of Mental Toughness From the Navy SEALs" by Charles Chu.  That article talks about the six techniques of mental toughness Chu was able to take away from former SEAL Brandon Webb's book, The Red Circle: My Life in the Navy SEAL Sniper Corps and How I Trained America's Deadliest Marksmen. While SEAL training is physically demanding, it's mental toughness that will see a candidate through.

While you should read the article (heck, you can get the book in hardback for a penny plus shipping--read the book), the six techniques Chu singles out are:

  • Eat the Elephant
  • Visualize Success
  • Emotional Control
  • Nonreactivity
  • Small Victories
  • Find Your Tribe (and Necessity)

You may have ran into some or all of these techniques elsewhere. I've ran into "Eat the Elephant" in project management training and visualizing success and emotional control in sports training. "Small Victories" is at the heart of a now-current Internet meme that has you write down 3 things you're grateful for each day. I have not, however, seen the others nor seen all of these integrated into a whole.

Just a little something else for your arsenal of resilience when Trouble comes knocking at your door.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Waste

Yesterday evening...wasn't good.

I spent it at a funeral home for the family visitation and memorial service for an old co-worker's son, who died at the age of 34. His mom, as you would expect, was in bad shape, but not as bad as you might expect. As I talked with her, she told me that "He's finally at peace."

This young man, who I first met while he was in middle school and who I had last seen in person shortly after high school, was indeed finally at peace. He would no longer be bedeviled by his demons, whatever they were. He left behind a grieving family, three sons by three different women, troubled friends, and me.

I'm trying to square what I experienced with some of my long held beliefs. You see, this young man died of a drug overdose, in particular an overdose of the stuff a treatment program gives you to keep you off of things that are even worse. I've never found myself in this situation. Deaths of this sort always happened at a remove, to people I didn't know, in parts of town I don't go to. They were always an abstract.

Not this time. This time I know all the players. Should that make a difference? I don't know if it should, but it is.

Even though I understand that addictions are a disease, I've never had to struggle with addiction. No one in my family, as far as I know, has had to. We've had our issues, but thank God this hasn't been one of them. I've never even known anyone who had to deal with this. I suppose I've led a charmed life in this respect, to be on this earth over half a century and never find myself in this position. I've been particularly blessed considering my lower class, blue collar background, since they do seem to be its natural habitat.

But still, I didn't see the almost 20 year process--I just saw the one evening long ultimate result of it.

I've sat through a lot of funerals, some uplifting and some dull. I've never sat through one where it felt like the preacher was trying to keep someone from "doing something foolish". It was a good service, spoken from the heart. He didn't really speak about the young man's life, because there really wasn't much that could be said. There was no way to sugar coat his failings like I've seen with some others. He spoke to the family and friends and told them "It wasn't your fault. It wasn't anything you did, or anything you failed to do. There was nothing you could have done that would have changed this outcome. Remember the good times and let the Lord bear the burden of the bad times."

The thing that struck me was how well he preached that sermon. It seemed that it was a familiar message. I suppose if you minister in certain parts of town it would be.

So I'm sitting here after a night of not so good sleep, trying to reconcile the human toll that I witnessed and my beliefs about how we should deal with drugs, drug laws, imprisonment for drug offenders, treatment for addicts and all the rest. For most of my adult life I've been pretty libertarian on these--they're "victim-less crimes". A drug abuser hurts no one but themselves.

Well, at least in one case that's provable bullshit. I saw 5 pews full of the victims of one man's drug use. It doesn't make any difference that it was an illness or whether or not anyone there could have done anything to help. A lot of people were victims of his 20 year spiral from happy kid to dead drug addict. Perhaps he didn't steal from them or physically harm them in any way, but they were victims all the same.

And me? I'm not a victim. I'm left wondering if his death was meant, among other things, to call my beliefs into question, perhaps to cause me to become a different, maybe better person. I find that a frightening thought, and it isn't going to go away.