Tuesday, May 24, 2016

That's gonna leave a mark...

Saw this in a class I was forced to take at work today.

A few years old, but damn....

Can I get a doctor lawyer?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

What caliber for...?

A look into my modest collection of self-defense tools kind of settles the issue as far as what I personally prefer for a self-defense pistol cartridge.
Top: West Hurley Thompson 1928
Middle row (l to r): Springfield Armory 1911A1, Colt 1911, Smith and Wesson M1917
Bottom (l to r): Sig P220, Glock Model 21, Smith and Wesson M&P 45

I've got a few other handguns in other calibers in the safes too, but heavy and slow works for me, it seems. Not knocking other choices, but I'll stick with the .45.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

It followed me home...guess I gotta keep it.

So I ducked into this little pawn shop on the way home from work today, and what did I find but a box of beat-to-shit guns with a magic marker sign that said "make offers". There were 9 long guns in the box, all rifles and shotguns, mostly single-shot and all rusty.

Then there was the one that stood out. I almost missed it because it was shorter than the rest and the box was tall. It was in behind the others in the corner of the box, but I recognized the front sight as soon as I saw it.

"What's the story on this box of guns?" I asked the shop clerk, a little Vietnamese woman. She didn't know, but she called her husband over. He was the store owner and he told me that a woman had just brought them all in and that they were her late father's guns and she just wanted them gone.

"He sure didn't take very good care of them," I said, starting the tire-kicking dance. How does someone let guns get like this?

"She said they were in his house when Katrina knocked it down," he told me. "She just wants them gone."

"No prices?" I asked.

He shrugged. "Make offer. We talk."

And eight of the nine were clearly trash. One definitely wasn't, but I had to play it careful. And to be fair, I love this game.

"Some of these might have been nice once," I said.

"Yeah, yeah..." he said, walking off. "You find ones you like, bring to counter."

Damn. This is easier when they actually want to make a sale. But I don't think this guy really cared.

Still...I pawed at the bunch for a while, picking them each up in turn so as not to give away the fact that I'd already decided that I was not walking away without a particular one. Then after a few minutes of acting disgusted (not hard with the junk in that box), I casually reached for the one that had caught my eye:
I pulled it out and tried to act disinterested as I turned it over and over. I could see him watching me, so I did my best to look like I was really on the fence on this one. Finally I sauntered up to him and showed it to him. "Let's talk about this one," I said.

"That one is good," he said. Real good. Best one in the box."

"That's not saying much," I replied. "It's still pretty beat."

"Five hundred dollars," he said.

"You told me to make an offer," I replied. "How about three? I mean, look at this thing."

"You funny. You should have TV show. That deal at five hundred. You pay five, you take home."

Great. A sarcastic Vietnamese guy. But he's not stupid, and it wasn't really that bad. Sure, the metal was all patina and in need of some TLC but the wood was real nice--probably replaced at some time since the storm but still pretty much correct. I chiseled at him a couple more times and at one point I actually went to put it back in the box as a bluff, but he either really didn't care or he was better at this than I was. And truthfully, I'd have paid five, but now I had time invested in the game too and I had to score at least some victory, even just a little.
Besides, this was fun.

"Four Fifty is really the best I can do," I said. He gave me that look that said that he was tired of me, so I added the magic word: "CASH."

"It's really all I can do," I said.

He thought for a few seconds, then agreed. I gave him forty bucks as a deposit before he could change his mind then I ran across the street to the ATM machine to get the rest.

So one Form 4473 and a NICS check later, I took my new business machine home.

Yep. $450 and fifteen minutes of dickering nabbed me a pretty shopworn but complete and apparently functional IBM-manufactured M-1 carbine.
The metal needs a serious clean-up and it does have a tiny import mark so faint that it just looks like a scratch on the bottom of the barrel, but it's easily worth what I gave for it, and I suspect that he didn't pay that much for the whole box of them so I don't feel bad about snagging the deal.

Time to rack it with the others. I'll start working on it this week-end.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Stupid is supposed to hurt

Ah, those whacky Massholes. If you've ever wondered who keeps voting to elect multiple Kennedys, John Kerry, Barney Frank and Elizabeth "Fauxcahontas" Warren to high office in that state, I think you need to look no farther than this fugitive from a Darwin Award:

Salem, Massachusetts, Woman Falls 2 Stories Into Trash Compactor

A woman fell three stories into a trash compactor while trying to help a teenager retrieve his keys, according to police and local media.

The 38-year-old woman was paid $20 to assist after the keys fell down the apartment block's garbage chute in Salem, Massachusetts, police Lt. Brian Gillian told NBC News on Wednesday.

“"She was obviously in pain"”

The teen initially attempted to lower the woman down the chute from the third floor by holding onto her feet, Gillian said.

When this didn't work, the 19-year-old tied a sheet round the woman's legs and tried again. However, the sheet ripped and the woman plummeted down the chute into the trash compactor, Gillian added.

"When she fell into the trash compactor it activated," he said. "She suffered a serious leg injury. It was badly twisted and clearly broken."

In the South, they at least say "Here. Hold muh beer and watch this!" before doing something that dumb.

In Massachusetts though, they just quietly agree to be lowered headfirst into a trash compactor on a bed sheet "rope" for twenty dollars like it's something you do every day.

Yet another reason for not letting ANYONE from that state cast a ballot that can actually affect the rest of the country.

No wonder those people demand "free" health care so loudly.

Breakfast of champions

Because nothing puts your day off to a good start like the last of the chili that you made two days ago.
No carbs, and enough peppers to clear your sinuses in advance for the next couple of weeks. It truly doesn't get much better than this.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

It's raining today, and I'm smiling.

Pouring down rain today. windshield wipers barely kept up with it as I drove into work. And I'm grinning ear-to-ear.

Why, you ask?

Because after eleven years of living in West Virginia and commuting into DC, with an average trip time of an hour and a half EACH WAY (on a good day) in the thirsty SUV that I had to have in order to make the trip come winter, my commute now takes about eight minutes. And this job comes with a car now, so it's not even my gas any more.

Tons of great restaurants within walking distance, and a house down the street has just been rented out by half a dozen young ladies who dance in the French Quarter at night and pretty much just sunbathe on lawn chairs on the porch all day when not doing that. They're a bit young and wild for my tastes these days but I can't deny that the views are spectacular.

Yeah, this was a good move indeed.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Down to Chalmette

Yesterday being a nice day, I made a little trip inspired by Old AF Sarge's recent post.
Chalmette Battlefield. The place where the last battle of the War of 1812 was fought in January of 1815.

The Treaty of Ghent had been signed a month prior (but not yet ratified), and this treaty "officially" ended the war, but none of the thousands of British and Americans who assembled here knew about it, so the British attacked, doing their best to grab control of New Orleans and by extension, the entire Mississippi River Basin and the lands it gave access to. In their way: Andrew Jackson, American hero, leading a pick-up fighting force comprised of a few regular army types, volunteer militias from Kentucky and Tennessee, sailors and marines from a few sunken gunboats, local landowners and other members of the creole elite society, a band of Choctaw Indians who were loyal to the Americans, and a passel of pirates from the Barataria base of Jean Lafitte, who came with cannons and powder that the Americans lacked. (Pretty sure Old NFO was around somewhere too, but cannot confirm at this time.)

The battlefield looked like this:
There was a small canal that ran from a mangrove swamp where St. Claude Avenue and the rail line are today down to the river. The Americans threw up an earthwork on the New Orleans side of that canal and emplaced what cannon they had, a mix of artillery that included naval guns from privateers.

It's been restored as much as could be to what it looked like then.
Use your imagination and ignore the freighter at anchor on the river behind the battlefield. That wasn't actually there in 1815.

Here's a view of the American defensive line where the cannon crews and riflemen awaited the British as the sun was coming up that morning.
Looking out over the field in the direction that the British came from. The British had hoped to advance under cover of some convenient fog, but it lifted suddenly when they were about half way across. Awkward...
They made perfect targets in the early morning light. Making things worse for them, a unit of Redcoats who'd been tasked with bringing up ladders and fascines which were essential to bridging the canal and scaling the earthworks were out of position, so when the British troops who survived the fire pouring into them as they attacked got to the edge, they stalled and were cut down en masse by the muskets, rifles and cannon on the other side. In less than half an hour, the British suffered 700 killed, including General Packingham himself. They also had over 1,400 wounded and lost 500 more as prisoners, most of whom only survived by playing dead until the shooting stopped.

The Americans only had 13 troops killed. It was a total shellacking.

On this day, there were no soldiers, red-coated or otherwise. But the cannon were there.

Of course I brought my gun crew.

"Battery Five manned dogged and ready, Sir!"
"Bring on the Brits!"

The dogs got down in the canal too, which still has as much nasty black mud in it as it ever did.
"OK, I'm muddy now. Let's get back in the car!"

We strolled around for a couple of hours, and as the main gates were locked we pretty much had the place to ourselves because, while you can walk in, it's a bit of a hike in the heat.

Chalmette Dock just next door. Also not here in 1815.

I took the hounds over the levee so they could get a drink of Mississippi River water.

And along came a tow boat.

Murphy's just gotta run.

And play on logs.

Belle's a bit more of a Daddy's girl and just wanted to stay close to me once she got her drink.

It really was a beautiful day, and being surrounded by history like this made it perfect.
Here's an observation tower built as a monument after the war.

At the base are bronze plaques listing the units that fought here.

Andrew Jackson was truly the hero of the day and the savior of much of America, because had the Brits won here, it's doubtful that they'd have left the whole Mississippi region, treaty or not.

Harriet Tubman, by all reports, was nowhere to be seen.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sorry Belle...

Late last night, someone sent me an e-mail with this video of a Marmot attached. Of course I played it, and the next thing I heard was a series of crashes and bangs as Belle raced through the house in the dark trying to get to me and/or the marmot and not caring one lick about what was in front of her. I'd never seen her react like that before. She went totally batcrap insane when she heard that sound.

Murphy just lay there on his bed looking at her like: "You idiot".

And of course I had to do it again once she settled down just to see if it would happen again. It did.

And it just worked again now. She ran down the hall so fast that she couldn't make the turn into my office on the hardwood floor and she smacked into the door frame. And this time, Murphy was with her. What is it about this marmot noise that sets the dogs off like that?

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Assessment of recent events.

As one commenter pointed out yesterday, my little escapade is the second close call of this sort in four months. (The first being my encounter with a couple of other local youths while I was in town interviewing for my new job.)

So the question becomes one of why this keeps happening to me. Am I doing something to invite this sort of contact?

The answer actually is yes, kinda.

I'm going about my business in the areas that street criminal predators are looking for easy prey, and I'm doing the same things that easy prey does. In the first instance, running along the river is something that tourists staying at the downtown hotels often do. And tourists or business travelers tend to carry money or nice things and leave town eventually. Bad guys know that many of these folks won't be coming back to testify at a trial even if the bad guys do get arrested and charged with a crime against them.

In the second occurrence, predators know that people leaving bars are often less than sober, and bars in semi-dodgy areas that are frequented by tourists and locals from nearby affluent neighborhoods can make for some good pickings.

My problem here is that I tend at first glance to look like easy prey because I'm doing the same sort of things that easy prey does and in the same areas that easy prey go. The predator types can't tell at first glance who I am, or what my experiences and skills are, or know that I'm usually carrying a firearm whose caliber starts with a "4". Still, I'd really prefer not to have to use that firearm, despite countless hours of training to do so.

So what do I do? Do I stop doing the things that I like to do, just because there are bad people about? Do I concede the streets to the predators and just stay shut up in my house after dark?

No, I can't do that. That's not living. I'm going to keep doing the things that I want to do and going the places that I want to go, and I'll do so with my eyes open and my antennae up. I won't purposefully go down dark alleys alone or give the bad guys a free shot by virtue of my decisions or inattentiveness, but I'm definitely not going to cede the streets of my own community, either. I will travel freely and do my best to mitigate my risks and avoid confrontation, but I'll also do so with the intent to protect myself from any gremlins that force my hand.

I love this city, and I'm going to enjoy it. I'm just not going to be a victim in the process. I will go where it makes sense to go and do what I want to do, but I will maintain my readiness and be prepared to win the fight should some morlock bring one on.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Guess I owe Jeff Cooper a beer.

So capping off another great New Orleans evening last night, I'm walking back to the lot where my car is parked after a few hours with some of my new friends in a local pub. It's been fun, but I had to be up at sunrise to run and then head into work, so I called it a night early. Now I'm walking along--minding my own business--and I observed two presumably fine citizens whom I'll simply refer to as LaDarius and Precious. I did not get their actual names, but I'm probably not far off the mark with my shameless stereotyping. If it offends you, go read another blog written by a touchy-feely liberal douchebag or just retreat to your "safe space".

Anyway, I see this cute couple sitting on the steps of a house which I'm sure does not belong to them as I walk past on the other side of the street. No threat, but I notice people as a rule and I also notice that they are noticing me and watching as I walk along, probably because I am so damned good-looking.

I go into the parking lot, make my way my vehicle, start it up, and head towards the only exit, which is back onto the street that I just came down. Suddenly a woman steps out from between a couple of cars as if she's going to cross in front of me. I stop and motion her across, but she just stands there, and then she kind of steps out in front of my vehicle and puts her hands up as if to ask "what's up?", basically implying that I have somehow committed some sort of faux pas here. I motion for her to cross again but she continues to just stand there with her hands out, and she's saying something that I cannot make out.

Wait a minute...I recognize her. That's Precious from across the street a minute ago. Why is she over here?

Hell, where's LaDarious? He's not with her, and he's not across the street on the steps that they were both on a moment ago. Scan...

LaDarious is now stepping out from between some other cars behind me to my left, at about my seven o'clock, and he's approaching my driver's door fast.

Damn right it's a trap. Precious was pretty obviously trying to stall me or, with any luck, get me to roll my window down or even step out of my vehicle while her boo was working his way up on my blind slide. I didn't see any boxes of Girl Scout Cookies in his hands and surely nothing good was going to come of this. Worse, I could not see his hands at all as he moved up. Time to do something.

Bye, Precious. I slammed my hand down on the horn at the same time I hit the gas. Fortunately for both of us, Precious was quick to jump back out of the way, so I didn't smash her like a bug as I bolted out of what seemed to have been a pretty cut-and-dried ambush there, but had she not moved I'd have flattened her and had no trouble articulating why I did so in the subsequent discussions with the police that would have followed. As it was, no contact, so no harm and no foul. But I did place a call to 911 immediately afterwards to report two suspicious individuals in that parking lot, and earlier this morning I called a business contact that I have in the NOPD district in which this occurred, just to let them know. He figured it was a robbery or carjacking attempt too by the time I was half way through the narrative. (And who says cops are dumb?)

I still love this city and it's nightlife, but just like anywhere else you've got to stay switched on and aware.

But thinking this over afterwards, I got to thinking about the late Jeff Cooper's Combat Mindset and Color Codes, and I thought that this little episode showed the shift through the various colors pretty well, starting with my walk from the bar to the car.

A lot of people bumble around here in Condition White--totally oblivious to what's going on around them and who is present. This is how victims happen, and no doubt, my two new friends were hoping that this was my state of mind. But they misjudged this time. I've been around the block a few times, and I know in particular what goes on in this neighborhood after dark sometimes. I'm not frightened off or dissuaded from coming here, but I do pay attention and take basic precautions, including driving the short distance between my house and this bar instead of just walking it like I'd have done in daylight. I also look at everyone around me and casually assess them, and that's how I came to see these two. And I noted immediately that they were likely the wrong demographic for the expensive house whose steps they were sitting on and I noted that they were taking an interest in me as well. I observe this because I'm Condition Yellow, and I make observations and judgments of anyone who happens to be in my immediate area. It's ingrained and automatic. Passing them, my focus shifts to the poorly parking lot and the fact that at this moment I'm the only one moving through it so that becomes my primary concern for a minute. It's still my concern as I'm driving out, so when this woman just happens to magically appear and step out in front of me, she immediately has my full attention. Where did she come from? What is she doing? Do her actions make sense? In this instance, there's no logical reason for her to be right there at that precise moment in time, and she's not trying to either get across in front of me or wait for me to pass. No, she's blocking my path and trying to engage me. This is that Code Orange moment, when things just don't feel right. Could all be a coincidence, but maybe not.

And then I recognize her, because I'd looked her over a couple of minutes ago. And I immediately associate her with her guy friend, whom I no longer see, either with her or where they both were a minute ago. It stands to reason that he's still around somewhere, so a scan is in order. Don't focus on Precious now...find the other one.
And there he is...right where I'd be if I was a mope trying to mope up on someone. He was coming up fast from behind, and his speed and location suggested no purpose other than harm to me.

Code Red.

A moment's hesitation on my part would have had this guy at my door. I lock my doors when I get in (usually) but how many people don't? What if I'd been dumber and rolled the window down or gotten out to see what the "nice lady" wanted? Mookie would have been right there, and probably not to give me an award for being a great guy.

At this point, I knew that I had to break contact with these two fast, and the only way out was the exit ahead. Precious was in the way, but she was also clearly part of this set-up, so any concern for her safety went right out the window. If they were banking on my hesitating to hit a girl with my car, they figured wrong; but for her being pretty agile and quick--almost like she was expecting my move--I'd have gone right over her. And then I would not have stopped again until I arrived at the police station.

As it was, it ended well, at least for me. I got home unharmed after a fun night out with friends, and I have another story to tell. Hopefully it motivates a few of you to assess how aware you are when you're out and about, and if it does that for even one of you, well then it was worth writing this up.

Monday, May 09, 2016

French Quarter Sunday

It was a beautiful day in the Big Easy on Sunday, so I took Thing One and Thing Two for a stroll through the French Quarter.
Down on Decatur Street, a pick-up drove by with a fat guy and a miniature horse in the bed. The dogs were seriously intrigued.
I yelled out: "Hey, man, what are doing with that horse in the truck?" Man shouts back: "Taking him for a ride."
Well ok, then. I quit being surprised by things that I see here.

A short time on, a lady came over to pet the dogs. She asked me their names, and upon finding out that Belle was a girl dog, she gave Belle some beads.

Belle, being a girl, loves her baubles and finery.

Then it was down to the river to chill out on the grass while I read my book for a bit.

And along came a freighter, upbound and empty.

Then it was down to the steps so the dogs could drink.
It went ok this time. Last week we came here and Belle, walking on a step covered by a few inches of water, slipped and fell in and and wound up swimming and pretty miffed. She's not a water dog. And right about the time that I managed to fish her out, I heard a big splash behind me as Murphy--who IS a water dog--cannonballed right in. Idiot. Finally I got him out, and had the pleasure of walking two dripping wet dogs home through the French Quarter. And all the way home, people had to stop me and ask if my dogs had been swimming.

No. They just sweat a lot. Here's your sign.