Apr 28, 2012

Bath Salts

Over the last twelve months, the "designer" drug known as bath salts has taken off in this area. If you're not familiar with the name, it's not the flowery-smelling stuff Mom soaked in, nor the Epsom-branded stuff Aunt Joanne soaks her feet in. It's a way for the makers to try to skirt laws.

They label a package with a name like "Purple Wave" or "Vanilla Sky" or umpty-odd other names that sound like '60s garage bands then stamp it "NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION". They're sold over-the-counter in many states, although quite a few have made them illegal.

The drug is cheap - a quick look-around online shows pricing around $20-30 for a half gram, which is (according to more quick looking) 25-100 doses. Think about that for a minute. A half of a gram is enough drug for twenty-five doses. 

It can be ingested, inhaled, injected, or smoked - and according to what I'm hearing from the street, the same varietal will provide a different high depending on how it's used.

Sounds great, right? (I mean, if you're into such things. I'm not.) One slight problem. The list of side effects in that link above. Tachycardia. Insomnia. Headache. Kidney Pain. Agitation. Paranoia. Psychotic delusion. Suicidal thoughts/actions. Addiction. Psychosis. Etc, etc, etc.

On a near-daily basis, we're running into people who are having psychotic or delusional breaks from reality thanks to these drugs. They hallucinate people trying to kill them. They believe their clothes are on fire. They try to harm themselves. They will do bizarre things - like strip naked and walk out into a blizzard. They'll attack friends, family, and complete strangers. They're running from imaginary threats - and out into traffic. They're accusing imaginary people of trying to kill them - and fighting back.

I'm hearing that standard progression-of-force isn't working so well; verbal commands are a non-starter, spray is often ineffective, tasers are generally fine if you can get both probes in (but drive-stun is near worthless), and regardless of what else is going on these people seem to be a bit stronger than they should be.

Unless there's an immediate threat, officers are generally not approaching potential bath salts users without two or three officers present - because they're usually going to end up going hands-on.

Got that? Hallucinating, extra-strong, and standard less-lethal methods aren't working so well. Pyschotic breaks, agitation/aggressiveness, and all the rest.

Now the best part: this stuff can cause flashbacks, similar to LSD users having "trips" that were not induced by recent usage.

I don't get the appeal of ANY of this, truth be told. But it's out there, and you sure as hell need to be aware of it.

Info bleg: AR parts

Looking for color-anodized railed handguards. I know they're out there; I remember seeing them at NRA'11, but can't remember who the manufacturer was. My google-fu is failing me terribly.


Apr 27, 2012

Thought Exercise

Found this one courtesy Bob over at The Drawn Cutlass.

Short form:
You're at a bar (assume bar carry is legal and you are, for the purposes of this exercise) with a friend, having a nice night out. There's a couple pool tables and people are making bets on a game. One guy gets the bartender to cover his bet, and loses... then walks off without making arrangements.
The bartender and bouncers lock the door and announce no one is leaving until the debt is settled.
No one coughs up, so a bouncer breaks a pool cue and picks someone nearby to make an example of. The bouncer swings for the fences and hits the guy hard enough to knock him out.

What do you do? (Aside from pick a better bar to hang out in. Yeesh.)

Comment here or comment there, or don't comment, but it's an interesting thought exercise.
Do you know the justifications for deadly force in your state?

Key thoughts to consider:
- is this kidnapping?
- assault with deadly force?
- robbery?
- are you willing to use deadly force to protect someone else in what is, at the core of it, a bar fight?

My answer to Bob's post is over there, and I've duplicated it in comments here. Discuss!

Apr 26, 2012

5.11 TDK

Yeah, it's real. Just got this email:

We want to thank you for the overwhelming response and support of the Tactical Duty Kilt. As mentioned in a previous email, we are going to make a limited run of the kilts. At this time, we would like for you to go ahead and reserve your kilt by placing an order onhttp://www.511tactical.com/All-Products/Shorts/Tactical-Shorts/Tactical-Duty-Kilt.html. We expect that your kilt(s) will become available for shipping by September 1, 2012. Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate the purchasing of Multicam kilts at this time.
Please note, this is the only time we are going to make the Tactical Duty Kilt. The last day to place an order for your kilt on 511tactical.com is Thursday, May 3, 2012. If you happen to miss this opportunity, we will create a waiting list. All remaining inventory will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Don't miss this opportunity to get the Limited Edition Tactical Duty Kilt from 5.11 Tactical.

(Even waist sizes 28-54! Fat-ass friendly! - Z)
Sad there's no MultiCam. But still - $60 is a smokin' deal if they're halfway decent.

Luxury. Glamour.

I watched "Legends of Flight" on Netflix the other night. Pretty good film; it's primarily focused on the evolution of the latest super-jumbos: the Boeing 787 and Airbus A380. Mostly on the Boeing; not sure if Airbus wouldn't cooperate or they didn't have the budget for extensive European filming.

Regardless, it was a pretty slick look at the ground-up design of a new airliner, with a bit of a touch on earlier generations (from the early two-seat bi- and tri-planes, through the Lockheed Constellations, etc). Minor quibbles here and there that most won't catch (an animation of a piston engine with all the cylinders in sync, fr'ex), but good overall.

And then they said the magic words (voiceover of a shot of flight attendants making up a first-class cabin, with beds etc): "Our goal is to bring back some of the luxury and glamour of air travel."

I'm afraid that ship has sailed, folks. Yes, you may be able to hit the luxury button for a select few in the first-class seats, but even those aren't THAT luxurious. As long as I'm taking off my shoes and belt and getting my nuts grabbed by a blue-gloved tin-badged pissant, you definitely aren't going to bring back glamour.

Air travel survives because it's cost- and time-efficient transport, not because it's fun. You want luxury and glamour, get out the checkbook and charter yourself a private plane. Or buy one, and hire the crew, so you KNOW you can get another bag of pretzels without begging.

Apr 23, 2012

Camera Deal Alert

Via DealNews, Canon SX150 for $110 shipped.

12x optical zoom, stabilization, 14MP, and runs on AA batteries*. I've got the previous-generation SX130 as my all-the-time camera and have been VERY happy with it. (Many of the pictures on this blog have been taken with it, and the header image is a frame grab from HD video I took with it.)

It's not quite a pocket-size camera, but it's not a brick either. If I was in the market for a newer camera, I'd grab this in a heartbeat.

* - I'm a HUGE fan of AA batteries in smaller cameras; they can be found anywhere and with modern camera technology last almost forever. NiMH rechargeables are great, and I keep a couple of lithiums in my bag as spares just in case.

Ballistics Geek

Linoge got into a chat with some gamers (LARPers) about the possibilities of a wooden shotgun slug for vampire-killin'.

Cue my inner geek. Not the mechanics of vampire-killin', but an effective conversion from lead to wood.

Wood is too light, so a wood/metal combination is clearly necessary.

I ended up doing the math.

Turns out a simple cylinder/cone arrangement will get you within a couple grains of the original weight.

Interesting ... very interesting.

Apr 21, 2012

Caught this one on the way in to work

Dustin Lynch, "Cowboys and Angels"

There's a want and there's a need
There's a history between
Girls like her and guys like me
Cowboys and angels
I've got boots and she's got wings
I'm hell on wheels and she's heavenly
I'd die for her and she lives for me
Cowboys and angels 

We ride side by side
A cloud of dust, a ray of light
My touch is her temptation
Her kiss is my salvation
She's sweet, I'm wild, we're dangerous
Cowboys and angels 

I'm not sure why her path crossed mine
Accident or grand design
Maybe God just kinda likes
Cowboys and angels 

We ride side by side
A cloud of dust, a ray of light
My touch is her temptation
Her kiss is my salvation
She's sweet, I'm wild, we're dangerous
Cowboys and angels 

There's a want and there's a need
There's a history between
Girls like you and guys like me
Cowboys and angels

Apr 19, 2012

Group Hunt, 2012?

The Epic Awesome Group Hunt of 2011 turned into a bit of a fizzle, but never one to be discouraged by dismal failure, I'm going to try again.

Anyone interested in a hunt for Odocoileus virginianus this fall? Reply here or drop me a note.

Spiffy car tech

Look, I'm no fan of GM and the bailout. I think their cars are overpriced and their trucks aren't anything special. And we're not even going to talk about the Volt.

But this is pretty cool.

Small 4-cylinder motor in a midsize sedan, with a big-ass electric boost motor for when it's needed. Regenerative braking, etc.

37mpg highway from a car that size is a step in the right direction.

I'll admit, I'm intrigued.

Radio trivia

The country station I tend to listen to on my way to work does morning trivia each day. Answer the question, win a pair of movie tickets or a t-shirt or whatever. It's usually good for a chuckle, and it's always some pretty esoteric piece of uselessness.

Today's question?
"Men's Health magazine recently did a survey, and determined this is 'the most manly food'. What is it?"

I talked back to the radio, as usual: "Anything I killed myself."

Cue song, commercials, DJ back on:
It's not steak. It's not ribs. But we do have a winner...
It's beef jerky.

Followed by number two, mixed nuts; and number three, peanuts. And the most manly drinks are, in order, beer, bourbon, and rum-and-coke.

I weep for the future. Of course, this survey was probably of the kind of guys who read "Men's Health" magazine, and have it on the back of the toilet sandwiched between "GQ" and "Esquire".

The back of MY toilet usually has a CheaperThanDirt catalog, a Northern Tool catalog, two or three issues of "American Rifleman", and maybe an LLBean catalog (recently supplanted by Duluth Trading Co.).

Apr 16, 2012

Deal Alert

Cabela's is selling Herter's .223 in various weights and styles for $4.99/box. Yeah, it's re-badged Tula/Wolf, but if your gun will eat it, it's perfectly good plinking ammo.


Am I the only one out there who feels like going to the range is often more trouble than it's worth?


Needed Smile

This weekend was apparently the weekend of doomed plans.

So, Lissa - thanks for giving me a Monday morning smile.

(Go over and wish her and Mike well while you're at it. Poor kids are doomed and they don't know it yet.)

Apr 12, 2012

OK, well-played, S&W

The official release on the new gun is out.

S&W Shield ... single-stack in 9mm ... and .40S&W.

1" thick, 6/7+1, 19oz, MSRP $449.

Looks like it's a hair bigger (1/2" longer, 1/2" taller) than a Kahr PM40, but at half the price.

I think they just knocked it outta the park. Looks good to me. (But I hope they ditch that stupid thumb safety.)

Edit with a further thought: Since S&W is already running three shifts and can't keep up with demand, I sure hope they have a few truckloads of these ready to go!

Apr 11, 2012

Pound those nails 20% harder!

Not content with the fact that their dead-tree readership is in a death spiral, and their web site has seen commentary plummet thanks to a new comment policy (facebook login required to comment), the local rag has decided to put a few more nails in the coffin:

[W]e will expand the way we deliver information to our readers and focus our reporting on the topics you have told us are most important.
We will continue to publish our printed newspaper. All subscribers will receive full digital access to our content[.]
We believe that, as a business, we can no longer give away our unique and valuable content on the Web.
Look, there's a reason for this, kids: your "local rag" isn't local anymore. The writers are quite literally phoning it in. They don't report, hit the street, go to the news - they listen to a scanner and read minutes from public meetings and write blurbs based on that. They'll call the police or fire department afterwards for a statement. Most of their photographers are freelance and stringers.

Why? To cut costs. No need to pay a photographer's salary if you can license a few pictures for $50 or $100 a pop. I can understand that - when there's a camera in every pocket thanks to cell phones, and DSLRs are $400, getting images from breaking news is No Big Deal.

But the writing? That's just plain lazy.

So now, in order to read most of their content online (where they were at least getting SOME ad revenue), you have to have a dead-tree subscription.

Guess what? Not happening. We cancelled our subscription because your writing sucks and is doomed by the lag in print media... but mostly because your writing sucks. It's $12 a month that I can spend elsewhere - like a box of ammo. Somehow you think that not letting me read your crappy writing for free online will motivate me to resubscribe?

Keep hitting that pipe, Sparky - but stop drinking the water.

Apr 10, 2012

Civic Doodie!

I registered to vote when I was but a wee young'n, and never got a summons for jury duty.

I stopped to get mail today and there was a love note, summonsing me to jury duty.

In US District Court.

Why go halfway? :)

I won't fib. I'm actually kind of excited by the prospect. You can fill out the jury questionnaire online, which took me about five minutes, and ... well, in two weeks I have to call to find out if I have to appear.

First Ruger...

... now S&W.

Shamelessly ganked from CheaperThanDirt's Facebook page:
We heard a rumor today about Smith & Wesson following Ruger's lead and suspending accepting new orders. CTD Suzanne gave them a call and was told, "We have not suspended orders for new firearms, but we have started working third shift and still can't keep up." ...just thought y'all might like to know!

Got that? Two of the biggest domestic manufacturers are unable to keep up with demand.

Good thing those gun sales aren't increasing.

Bias? What bias?

This is the current top-center hook on CNN.com:
"Without a grand jury convening in the Trayvon Martin case, many are left wondering when a decision will be made to charge the man who shot him."
Biased? Us? Nah.
Part 9 of the LA Riots entries is up over at Bonnie Gadsden.

Commenters are starting to question some of the veracity, and rightfully so. Still, it makes for a good read and should provoke some thought if nothing else.

Apr 9, 2012

Weekend wrap

Saturday consisted of knocking together some raised beds for MrsZ's garden, then spending the evening at a gathering. Laughs, drinks, playful puppies, and general fun. Good time, but I reached my limit of people and we departed a bit earlier than many.

Sunday we slept in a bit, then had Easter dinner with my family. A few quick errands downtown and then home. MrsZ puttered with plants and I just relaxed.

Not much else to tell.

Have a moon.

Apr 8, 2012

New S&W?

Smith & Wesson has been trying to amp up excitement about a new addition to the M&P lineup that's being released Thursday - just in time for the NRA show. They put out a teaser video about a month ago, and then silence...

Until this week, where they've been posting teaser photos of tiny portions of the gun for twelve minutes at noon each day.

There's been LOTS of speculation as to what it might be; the dreamers want a 10mm (how sweet would that be?), but the leading guess now is a single-stack 9mm compact. (For what it's worth, my guess was a mid-size similar to the Glock 19. I'm okay with being wrong.)

This image hit reddit today. No idea if it's a 'shop or legit, but it looks pretty sweet. "M&P9 SHIELD". Fits right in with the existing theme (Bodyguard .380, Shield 9mm...)

Interesting. Very interesting. Looks to be nearly the exact same size as my PM9, and has a +1 mag on it. If they can hit the price point right ($450-500 street) they'll have a winner. If the image is correct, this has a few key things the CM9 ($450ish street) is lacking, most notably a dovetailed front sight. The manual safety is a big negative to me, but they've offered ALL the other M&P autos both with and without the manual safety. Finally, I can't tell if that has a removable backstrap; it looks like it's missing the pin/plug at the back of the grip to make the change. That would be a pretty serious loss, since the interchangeable backstrap is one of the key selling points in the M&P line.

And, of course, this is all just speculation: we won't know until noon on the 12th!

Some dark reading

Via a link over at the Feral Irishman, I stumbled into this collection of entries (reposted?) from someone who lived in LA during the '92 riots. Well worth the read, thought provoking, and should make you look at things in a new light. The link above takes you to the list of tagged entries, which are, of course, in reverse chronological order.

I just want to say - I have been writing it down as accurately as I can, with as little embellishment as possible. I have not tried to make myself ten feet tall or Rambo, because I wasn't. I was scared to death, ill prepared, rather foolish and largely incapable of knowing what was the best course of action to take during the riots. Nowadays, I would have evacuated Los Angeles within an hour of them breaking out or else taken refuge somewhere. Your basic dumb security guard at $14.00 an hour.

I've re-linked here in the correct order:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7Part 8

Tea drinker

When I was working straight nights, I was a coffee drinker. Not the two-pot-a-day kind, but a Very Large Mug on my way to work, or a large thermos that would get me through the first couple hours.

Until coffee started doing funny things to my stomach. Tired of heartburn and indigestion, I switched to tea as my caffeine delivery vehicle. I have continued this habit. I still enjoy a cup of good coffee here and there, but my daily drink is tea.

Mornings, it's usually Irish Breakfast tea of one form or another; Bewley's Irish Breakfast Tea
 is the best I've found yet. It's a hair cheaper at my local grocery (in the "UK Foods" aisle, not with the coffee/tea stuff!) than on Amazon, but if you can't find it locally, it's well worth the price.

Weekend mornings or other lazy times? Stash Premium Double Bergamot Earl Grey Tea, Tea Bags, 18-Count Boxes (Pack of 6) ... this stuff is top-notch if you like Earl Grey. (Link goes to Amazon.) Very strong citrus nose; great tea to relax with. I now completely understand, "Tea. Earl Grey. Hot." ;-)

Apr 7, 2012

I can shoot again!

Renewed the range membership this morning. I have a place to shoot again!

Apr 6, 2012

Self-defense shooting

Second-hand account over at My Tumultuous Adventure. Definitely worth a read.

Stopped by ye olde Irish pub for a pint last night and on the way out was talking to the bouncer I know with another friend.  Turns out he shot someone a couple of weeks back.

Not this month...

Last week I'd mentioned that I was going to hit an Appleseed with Carteach0 soon.

Life intervened.

Not this time 'round.


Dragon updates...

Got an email from Dennis over at Dragon Leatherworks this morning:
Got a call again from the Prop Master from NCIS.  He did a quick flip through his paperwork while on the phone, and indicated that the Leather Goth Lunchbox will be getting a very sweet amount of screen time, and the episode airs April 17th, 2012 (Tuesday) at 8PM Eastern / 7PM Central
And yes...the prop master called for a specific reason, not just to let me know when the episode was going to air. ;-) Will fill everyone in after the NRA Meeting in St, Louis next week.

So set your DVRs, kids! See the Dragon's Lunchbox on prime-time TV! ... and apparently, there will be more!

Apr 4, 2012


CNN has an article posted about supercomputers. It touches briefly on the originals (CRAY1, 1976) running at 100MFLOPS (10^6), and the current frontrunners - the Japanese RIKEN-K running at 10.5PFLOP (10^15).  Of course, it's worth noting that the RIKEN-K runs on 705,000 cores and 1.4Petabytes of RAM.

For the sake of comparison, a quick google shows most modern quad-core desktop computers running in the 4-7GFLOP (10^9) range, or about fifty times faster than the CRAY1 was running forty years ago.

Next step? ExaFLOP, or 10^18, about 100 times more powerful than the RIKEN-K. Of course, this is starting to get into serious money, space, and power. According to the CNN article, we're talking rooms the size of football fields, with monstrous cooling arrangements, and power consumption around 100 MW. (A modern nuclear reactor will produce power in the 600-1000MW range.)

In other words: there have to be some leaps before this is going to happen. But we're getting there.

And, that brings us to what will likely be the next arrangement: distributed computing. It's already used extensively on a volunteer basis for things like SETI@Home and Folding@Home, where people can devote extra processing cycles to the search for ET life, protein folding for cancer research, or even the search for the next Mersenne Prime.

Applied to the above goals, instead of a client app that uses spare cycles, why not contract out X number of towers that will sit in colocated data centers, distributing the power/cooling load as well as the vulnerability? With the ready availability of dark fiber in the US (and nationally), the data bandwidth to connect widely-spaced cores is there... it makes sense, at least from my perspective.

And what to do with these PFLOP and EFLOP arrays? Particle modelling, crypto, weather research, gene and cancer research... you name it.

Top500.org lists the most powerful systems in the world. Worth a click and skim through.

5.11 Kilts

Ambulance Driver posted this yesterday, and for giggles I put my name in the "notify me" box on 5.11's site.

If they are able to make and sell them at the listed price ($59.99), they are going to sell the snot out of these.

Well, today I woke up to an email from 5.11:

About a month ago our lead designer [...] came to me with the idea to have some fun on April 1st with a 5.11 Tactical Duty Kilt. "We've had a number of requests for kilts, so why not make one?"
Last week, when we reviewed the video footage of Roman leaping walls in the TDK - it was clear - we had achieved the goal of making a Kilt true to the 5.11 brand. There was a collective "uh-oh, we only have one kilt in inventory!" On Saturday, March 31st, I called 5.11 Tactical founder, Dan Costa, to tip him off. His response: "Be ready, you're going to sell some kilts!"

Indeed, the Tactical Duty Kilt launch was a success, so it seems the April Fool's Day joke is on us! Due to your positive response, we are pleased to announce that the Tactical Duty Kilt will become available for pre-orders soon on the following web page: http://www.511tactical.com/Tactical-Duty-Kilt.html. We don't plan to make the TDK an "in-line" product, so this is a limited time, web only offer. If you haven't already signed up for notifications on when this product becomes available for purchase, please do so now at http://www.511tactical.com/Tactical-Duty-Kilt.html and give us your name and e-mail address in the form located on the right-hand side of the page. We plan on sending out 1 more email to those that have given us their information to confirm size and color and other important ordering details.

5.11 Tactical Duty Kilts will be available in Black, Khaki, and OD Green (MultiCam will be offered at a slightly higher price) in even waist sizes 30- 40 for a very limited time - don't miss out. Remember we only have one in inventory today, so we'll need some time to make them for you!

(Emphasis mine.) Yeah, I'll be ordering a couple to supplant my Utilikilts for more frequent wear. And I'll probably order a multicam just because. Nothing says Scots Redneck like a camo kilt.

If you want one, head to their page and drop your email address in the box. If this turned into a line item for them, that'd be even cooler.

Apr 3, 2012

About time

The first load of brass in a VERY long time is in the tumbler. A few good handfuls of non-crimped .223.

If I can knock out a couple hundred between now and Appleseed, I'll be happy.

As an aside on tumblers: I've been very happy with my Lyman 1200. But if you're buying one, don't waste your money on the "AutoFlo" media separator. It doesn't work for crap.

Presidentin' Changes

Interesting read over at CNN.

Today, given how money, special interest groups and technology, including electronic media, have diseased the entire political process, I believe it's time we considered some sweeping changes.
And I believe those changes should start at the very top -- the president. There are three ways America can make the presidency better equipped to respond to the 21st century world.

The three things he suggests are this:
- a single six-year term, no re-election.
- military experience required.
- age between 45 and 70.

... I'm not sure I disagree with that list. He makes some thought-provoking arguments.



Ice cream machine has been on the blink.

I'll knock something together soon. In the meantime, here's some chickens in a doghouse:

Apr 1, 2012

Cleaning House

Spring cleaning season is upon us, and we're taking it semi-seriously this year. If I can send some of this stuff to loving homes, that'd be great. Small list for now, but as I dig out more this will be updated.

Hillsound Trail Crampons. Size Large, the box says Men's 9-11.5 and Women's 11+ while the website says Men's 8-10 and Women's 9.5-11.5. All I am sure of is they don't fit my 13s. New in the box. $50 shipped in the US.

Two 20-round pre-ban magazines for a Ruger Mini-14. These are not Ruger branded, no manufacturer or date stamp, and I don't remember how well they functioned in my Mini. I still have them so it can't have been all bad. I'd much prefer these to go to a ban state. $30 shipped for the pair.

As the week progresses, expect to see more outdoors and shooty stuff, maybe some knives, camera gear, etc.