Feb 18, 2010

Random Topics

I've had numerous thoughts and blog posts kicking around in my head lately. Often I'll have an idea and jot a little note to myself to think about developing it into more. Unfortunately, most of them will never coalesce into more than a paragraph or so - so I'll just wrap them all into one big brain-dump!

Special Parking
I'm not talking about handicap spaces. Not even "with child" spaces at the grocery store - that's catering to their customers and they're a private business. No, this one irks me even more. I drove by a new public building in our county the other night, looking the place over when I had a few minutes to kill. The first TWO ROWS of parking were posted. Not handicap. Not "county vehicles"... but "LEV/Fuel Efficient Vehicle Parking ONLY". WTF? Talk about reinforcing the entitlement mindset!

American Runs On...
You know how the slogan ends. If that's what America runs on, we're doomed. I stopped at our local one for a cup and a sandwich before work the other night. I had to tell my order to the idiot behind the counter THREE TIMES before he got it even close to right. And then he forgot my donut. After all that, I finally noticed that the idiot had, in addition to the drive-thru talkie on one ear ... his goddamn ipod earbud in the other. Stupid should hurt.

Remington Home Defense loads
Remington, maker of firearms and ammunition for a LONG time, has released a line of shotgun shells for home defense. From their own product description:
Remington HD Ultimate Home Defense shotgun ammunition features the same pellet material as the popular Wingmaster HD™ tungsten-bronze hunting ammunition and is offered in two loadings. Consumers can choose from a load of BB’s for the highest terminal energy or a duplex mixture of #2 and #4 pellets for excellent pattern density and outstanding stopping power with a reduced chance of over-penetration.

Only one problem. While the "HD" alloy is denser than lead, the increased density is not enough to make #2 or #4 shot an acceptable defensive load. Birdshot is for birds! The BB load is borderline-acceptable, as BBs are .177" diameter and will provide somewhat greater penetration. However, a quick bit of math shows that BB pellets have ONE THIRD the mass of #4 buck - often considered to be the bare minimum for effective defense.

If you're going to use a shotgun for defense - and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that! - use an appropriate load. BIRDSHOT - and BBs are bird shot - IS FOR BIRDS.

Indiana Senator Evan Bayh (D)
Senator Bayh announced earlier this week that he will not be running for re-election in the fall. In his own words:
"Congress is not operating as it should, [...] too much partisanship and not enough progress—too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving."

I am not familiar with Senator Bayh's political ideology. I generally won't broad-brush by party affiliation, only by the title of "politician". However, I have to give him a strong "attaboy!" for having the guts to stand up and say that something is wrong. Now, let's find someone to FIX IT.

Which brings me to...

Replacing Elected Officials
While working out the other night, I glanced up at the TVs arrayed across the gym and noticed a poll graphic on CNN. It seems that of those interviewed, 63% felt their elected officials did not deserve re-election in November. Nearly TWO THIRDS. That is what a statistician would call "significant" and a politician should call "frightening". The devil, however, is in the details - and we'll know the details come November 3. If the masses cast their ballots and re-elect the incumbent idiots, then we truly deserve what we have wrought.

And that brings us along to...

Also an "on the screen while exercising", the blurb was "GOP claims Tea Party threatens their chances" or some such. The point being that the Tea Party will divide the conservative voters and let the Democratic candidates win with a plurality, instead of a Republican winning by a majority.

The thing is, though, if the GOP is that threatened by the Tea Party, they shouldn't be whining about the Tea Party "stealing votes" - they should be looking very closely at their platform and constituents and figuring out what values they would need to incorporate in order to recover those voters. It's not rocket science. The Big Two have lost touch with the vast majority of the population. We are no longer represented by our colleagues and peers, but ruled by lawyers and career politicians.

Using Mr. Bayh as an example: he entered public service as the Indiana Secretary of State at age 30, served just over two years, and was then elected Governor for eight years, at which time he was elected to the US Senate. He is now 54 years old and has spent TWENTY FIVE of those years on the public payroll. He is a CAREER POLITICIAN. In seven years, at age 62, he will be eligible for his pension as a retired senator. That pension amount will be paid by us for the rest of his life - and is roughly equivalent to the average US household income in 2009. Not a bad gig, huh? (I'm on the public payroll too, but I have to work 30 years and contribute from my own base pay in order to receive my pension.)

There is a fairly small (but noisy) section of society that rails against firefighters and police officers calling the general public "civilians". The argument is that it creates an us-them mentality, a sense of superiority, and so forth.

I lean the other way. The firemen and cops are the ones you call when things are going sideways. There is an us-them - because they have all sworn an oath to serve, protect, defend, uphold, etc. I took that oath, more than once - to preserve and uphold the laws of the state and the country, and the US Constitution. Haven't taken that oath or one very similar? Then you are relying on the sheepdogs. You may not consider yourself a sheep, but when things are bad, you're calling us.

Am I superior to you? Not at all. I'm just another joe trying to get by, who happens to believe in what he's doing enough to risk everything for a stranger. It's not for glory - I shun reporters. It's not for money - I volunteer. It's for love. Love of the job, love of helping, love of my fellow man. John 15:13. I will if I have to, but I sure don't WANT to.

Yeah, I'm a flashlight geek. Can't help it. Big lights, small lights, unusual lights - they're all good. I thought about trying to gather all the flashlights in the house and cars and such for a group picture, but decided it would be WAY too much effort, and I'd probably miss a couple. Suffice it to say, there are flashlights in every room, most drawers, every car, most coats. MagLite is very well-represented. I've got one Surefire. (I'd have more, but $65 for a light hurts.) A handful of made-in-China store brand lights. A Streamlight or two. Couple Pelicans. My EDC light is a Leatherman Serac S2 (now discontinued, I need to buy a couple more and stick them away).

I had a gift card for Lowes burning a hole in my pocket, so I went down there browsing the other day. MagLite has had an LED AA light for a while, but now it's MOAR BETTER with a "smart switch". Different brightness levels, blinky modes, etc. I decided to try it out. They claim the beam is focusable - it is, just barely. The flash modes are useless gimmicks, IMHO. The high-low is nice. Light quality is very good, nice bright white light. The cost of all this, however, is an extra inch in length and an extra ounce in weight over the halogen AA MagLite - and a $12 price premium ($21 vs. $9).

Now that I've got one, for my nickel, it's cheaper and better to buy one of the NiteIze LED combos. This particular one is a new model coming soon, I have one of the older versions and find that it works like a charm. A Mini-MagLite was never designed for long throw, so losing focus isn't a big deal to me.

And that's it. The whole brain dump. Until another random thought strikes me.


Newbius said...

Costco has the MagLite 3D/2AA LED combo package for about $25. No fancy flash modes, but the light is clean and bright and the 3D will throw a pretty impressive beam across the Back 40.

elmo iscariot said...

Have an opinion on the E2L Outdoorsman?

ZerCool said...

Newbius - thanks for the tip. No CostCo near me, but hopefully useful to someone! I have a 4D LED MagLite in my truck, MrsZ has a 2D LED in her car, and those are great lights. Great throw and BRIGHT as hell.

Elmo - it's damn tough to go wrong with a Surefire light. That said, consider what you're going to use it for when making a purchase. The E2L is a dual-output light and lists at nearly $160. If you don't need the low-output and are willing to carry a slightly larger light (1/4" diameter, 3/4oz weight), the G2L lists for a hair under $70 and is a third brighter. I keep a G2L in my nightstand ten months of the year, and switch it to my hunting gear the other two months.

Side note: Surefire has some of the better prices on quality lithium CR123 batteries, which have a ten-year shelf. Stock up!

elmo iscariot said...

The dual-output sounds handy, but it's not something I'd pay twice the price for. It's the _size_ that's at ultra-premium. I want a light for emergencies (natural and social) that can live on my person whenever I'm out of the house. To be useful year-round in this region, that means it needs to carry comfortably in a pants pocket.

And with a high-end light like a Surefire, I expect to be using it for years and years. That means it'll have to ride along with a pocket-holstered handgun when I eventually, one way or another, get the legal right to carry. And _that's_ along with my keys, wallet, SAK, pad, and pen. So pocket space is at a premium. I've used G2-sized lights for jacket and bedside duty in the past, but they don't fill the pocket niche for me.

If there's a single-output LED* light of this quality that's equally slim and has a pocket clip at a fraction of the price, I'm there.

Incidentally, I love the SF batteries. There's even one of their dorky "drum magazines" half full of 'em in my car toolkit. ;)

[* - LEDs are mandatory. It'd be replacing my currently-dead E2E, which I'm damned tired of buying replacement bulbs for. If I knew the LED conversion head would work I'd just get one of those, but at a significant fraction of the cost of a whole new light, I kind of don't wanna take the gamble.]

ZerCool said...

Elmo - take a close look at the Leatherman branded lights. I carry the Serac S2 (as mentioned) and swear by it. It's dual-output, but that's really not critical. They've discontinued the Serac series but there are still some in channels. Look for an S2 or S3.

Alternatively, look at the Fenix brand stuff.

http://www.brightguy.com used to have pretty good prices on most lights, haven't comparison-shopped them lately.

elmo iscariot said...

I _like_ the size on those Seracs. And I _love_ the option of "tip down" carry.

I'm not in love with the level-cycling beginning at the lowest setting, which decreases the light's usefulness in social emergencies. But at this price and size, it may be worth it...

Huh. There may be an S3 in my immediate future. Thanks for the ponter, man.

GunGeek said...

Since you brought up reserved parking spaces....

The ones that really grind me are the ones at colleges, especially public colleges. At the company where I work, employees are required to park in the least desirable parking spaces in order to allow our customers to have the prime spots.

Go to any college and you'll see that it's completely reversed. The employees get all the choice parking spots while making the paying customers park out in the hinterlands. Not only that, they usually CHARGE their customers for the privilege of parking there.

To me, it's a clear sign of how they really feel about their relationship to us. They're the ones doing us a favor, rather than seeing students as the paying customers that they are.