I really, really hate to have to make this announcement, but it looks like I may be forced to raise some of my prices on the Cool Products page of this web site. Still not sure if the actual cost of shipping have gone up (again) or whether the place I normally use to ship my products just discovered that it has been undercharging for a while, but I had a nasty surprise when I went to mail out my latest orders. Now keep in mind that because of the way my website is hosted I have to roll the cost of shipping and handling into the price listed on this site, which is good in a way since the price you see is what you pay unlike some other sites where you think you're getting a fantastic deal only to find the total amount due almost doubling at the last minute due to shipping and handling cost. But when I stopped by to mail things out this weekend, I found that it is now costing me just over $6.00 to mail out 10 of the NRA approved B-27 targets if I use Media Class mail! Add in the cost of the mailing tubes I use to avoid folding them, plus the cost of having them printed (sorry people, but I'm still too small to have my own printing department) and that leaves me with a profit of only 15 cents for a pack of 10 targets at my current prices! If I tried to use Priority mail, the cost would jump to $16.95; which is more than my market survey data says I could charge and still manage to sell targets. So, I'm really and truly sorry, but I'm afraid starting Friday, February 27, 2015, I will be forced to raise the prices on my targets by $2.00-3.00 a pack.
Good morning world, and welcome once again to my somewhat wacky little corner of cyberspace. It's Monday again, and that means it's time for another ramble on Special Needs Children. Now I realize that from some of my previous rambles, as well as items you may have seen on other sites dealing with Autism and other Special Needs, you may have gotten the feeling that having child on the spectrum is a constant struggle; and I must admit that there is more of that than I'd really like to admit sometimes, but it's not all problems. An autistic child really does have the same wants and needs as other children, and there can be a great deal of joy mixed in with the sadness.
One example of this is what has become almost a daily ritual in getting my son up and ready for school. Like I was (and still am when I'm not on call), Wills doesn't like to wake up in the morning. As a result, most mornings he wants to cuddle for anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes before he actually gets out of bed. He also loves when I do a version of that old Loony Toons routine of "I will hug him and hold him and squeeze him and never let him go and call him George". Ok, ok, I know. That's not the way that bit originally went. So sue me. HE loves it, and the often gets a huge case of the giggles when I do it. Hell, sometimes he'll even come up, take ahold of my arms and wrap my arms around him and then tell me "Let me go!" Now go ahead and tell me that wouldn't make your day. I doubt there's a parent out there that doesn't know just how precious cuddles like this can be!
Other times, his unique way of looking at the world can lead to moments you'd never really expect. For example, not very long ago Wills came up to my wife and told her "I don't like make up. Wash it off!" It took my wife a bit to figure out what he was talking about. It sounded like he had gotten into her or his sister's make up and didn't like the way it looked on him, but there was no sign of make up anywhere on his face! Finally it clicked. You see, Wills has hit puberty with all the associated changes including body hair where he's not used to having hair. What he was objecting to was his mustache, and he was upset because it wouldn't wash off! Another example came a couple of Christmas's ago. His school had opened up a special store where the Special Needs children could shop for Christmas gifts for their families. Wills' teacher told us afterwards that he had picked out the gifts completely by himself. The result was that each of us got a gift that none of us would have asked for, or even thought of getting for each other, but each one showed a shrewd understanding of the person it was bought for and in hindsight was absolutely perfect! This has a way of making Christmas even more exciting for us for we never know if Wills is going to buy presents or not, and if he is, what we'll get from him.
The final example I'm going to show you happened just this weekend. Of course I have a YouTube channel (you can hardly find a better or cheaper way for a small business like mine to get word of their products out there), and my daughter is starting her own YouTube channel as well (and no, I'm not going to tell you which one it is even though I'm extremely proud of what she's done so far. You don't need to know it, and from a personal safety point of view it's just as well if you don't know she's my daughter if you do happen to come across it). Take Wills watching us post our videos and add in the typical autistic fascination with all things computer and it should come as no surprise that he would want to post some of his own videos. Mind you I did say should, but in point of fact it was a huge surprise when I was going over my personal e-mail late last night and came across several notices from YouTube congratulating me on successfully posting a new video on my Targets With Attitude account! Yep. You guessed it. Wills had uploaded not one, but four videos he made himself to my account. Of course as soon as I found out about them I immediately took them private until I figure out just what to do with them, but I think it may be time to set Wills up with his own YouTube account. In the mean time though, I'm going to allow just one of his videos to be made public for a short period of time so that those of you who may be interested can get a view of just what a video made by an autistic child would be like.
So there you have another brief glimpse into the life of a family with an autistic child. Are there the occasional problem? Of course! But then again, what family doesn't have the occasional problem or two? If nothing else, I've yet to meet a teenager who doesn't decide at one point or another that their parents are completely clueless. I'll even reluctantly admit that the problems one runs into raising a child on the spectrum can be much different in specifics, though generally not in type. But inspite of that, none of us would trade our children for the world. Yes, their autism can make things different, sometimes even difficult; but they would not be the people we love if they weren't autistic and that is something special all on it's own.
Here a Holster, There a Holster
If you own a gun, you probably have a holster; and if you carry a gun you definitely need to have a holster of some kind. Why? Partly to protect the gun, but even more to protect you! I know, I know, Grandpa used to talk about how in addition to walking bare foot through the snow up hill both ways to get to and from school when he was also talks about how they never used holsters in his day; they'd just stick it in a pocket or in their waist band and forget about it. Tell me, did you ever wonder why Grandpa only had 3 toes on his foot and a deep grove in his back side? If he had used a holster he wouldn't have those oddities. Why? Well let's look at it, shall we?
The first thing a holster does is encloses the gun in a protective sleeve, especially (if it's designed right) the trigger. Think of all the things you routinely put in your pocket. There's keys, loose change, pens and or pencils, maybe a pocket knife, possibly a bit of twine or wire you snipped off something you were working on and shoved in your pocket without even thinking about it, and so on and so forth. The list of things that end up in pockets are endless, and each and every one of those things could get tangled up with the trigger on your gun. What happens then? BOOM!!! That's what happens, and you're being rushed to the hospital to stop the bleeding from a bullet hole in your thigh or knee! Okay you say, I'll just make sure that I don't put anything in the same pocket as my gun, problem solved. Yeah, right. You know what else is found in pockets? Lint. Dust. Dirt. Sand. All matter of things guaranteed to get in the works of your gun and gum the damn thing up just when you need it the most. Nor is sticking your gun in the waist band of your pants really any better. Do you have a draw string on your jacket or hoodie? How about inside the waist band of your pants? Sweats and many brands of cargo shorts have them. Believe it or not, there are documented cases of cops being shot by their own guns because the department issued jacket they were wearing had a draw string that got caught in the trigger of their standard issue side arm! So a holster that covers the trigger in such a way that nothing can get in there and get caught in the trigger is the first must, and I at least would much rather the holster cover the entire barrel as well; though I'll admit that there are a few holsters that pass every other test that don't.
The second thing a good holster will do for you is retain the gun where it has been put. Again, there are all too many documented cases of people putting their hands in the pockets and the pistol comes falling out when they take their hands back out of their pockets even though they didn't mean for the pistol to come out. There are just as many cases where someone had to bend over, maybe to get something off the bottom shelf at a store, and the pistol they had stuck in their waist band sans holster came tumbling out.
Okay, okay, you say, I'll buy a damned holster. There, that one, yeah the one for $19.95, I'll buy that one. Well, it's a start, but I'm not sure it's all that much better. What happens if the thug you encounter decides to start grappling with you for some reason. Will your holster still keep your gun where you put it then? If it's the cheapest one on your gun store shelf, I'd almost be willing to bet it won't. I've been to a few Kenpo training seminars where the instructor had us put on various holsters and place a training gun in them (for those of you who aren't familiar with them, they're made of hard rubber and are the exact size and shape of some of the more popular guns out there, usually molded in a bright color such as blue, red, or orange so that they won't be mistaken for a real gun). We'd then do various spontaneous drills to see for ourselves just how easy it is for your gun to be jarred out of a poorly designed holster, and believe me, the last thing you want in a life and death struggle is to suddenly find out that your gun is not where you thought it was! That is a recipe for disaster if I ever heard one.
Okay you say, well what about that nylon one with the retaining strap that goes across the back of the gun to keep it in the holster? Well, I reckon it's better than nothing; after all, if you train with it regularly then unsnapping the restraining strap probably won't slow you down by more than 10 seconds or so. Still I'd rather not spend that 10 seconds or so unsnapping a safety strap that wouldn't really be needed if you just went for a better holster in the first place. In fact, if I'm going to be honest, I have a couple of holsters, both nylon and leather, that have restraining straps on them; but if the truth be know I really don't like any of them. I know many police officers are required to use those style of holsters, but a uniformed police officer is carrying his or her side arm openly where a bad guy can see it and maybe try to take it from them. According to more than one cop I know, the whole reason for the restraining strap on their holsters is to give them a few seconds to respond if anyone does try to take their weapon away from them. If on the other hand, you're carrying concealed, then your attacker most likely doesn't even know you have it so they aren't going to be trying to take it away from you until you've already drawn your gun.
So what do I recommend for a good holster? First, look for one that is molded and designed for your gun specifically; and covers the trigger. This most often means that it will be made of leather or a material like kydex, and yes, it also means that it's going to cost more. Sorry, but as so often in life, you get what you pay for. Another feature that I like that is most often seen in holsters made of kydex or some other hard material is a tension adjustment screw that allows you to adjust just how tightly the holster will hold on to your gun. If you can get a holster with this feature, adjust it so that you can draw with just a minor amount of resistance, then try to shake your unloaded gun out of the holster. If it falls out, taken the screw a bit more until your gun stays in it no matter how you shake it but you can still draw the gun reasonably easily. If your gun shop will allow you, try and see how it feels to draw your gun and also how easy it is to reholster it. After all, drawing your gun and shooting your assailant is only the first half of the equation; you still need to get you and your loved ones out of there and that is not that easy to do if you still have a gun in your hand. Even if you're all alone with no one else to worry about, you don't really want to be standing around with a gun in your hand when the police arrive at the scene unless you have no other choice. If it takes two hands to reholster your gun, you should probably choose a different holster. Next, look at how the holster stays where you want to put it. If you're going for pocket carry, does the holster stay in you pocket when you draw your pistol? Or are you left with it still hanging off the end of your gun as you're trying to aim and shoot? If it's inside the waist band or belt carry, how does it stay there? One of my favorites is part nylon, part kydex, and part fabric that acts almost like velcro in that it almost sticks to the fabric of your pants so that it won't come out unless you specifically take it out. Needless to say, this one is designed for inside the waist band carry. If you're going to go for belt carry, you mainly have a choice of paddle (a piece shaped almost like a ping pong paddle that's designed to go between your belt and your pants or inside your waist band), belt clips, or belt loops. Personally I prefer belt loops, but which ever you choose, make sure the attachment feature is well designed and strong enough to with stand some abuse. After all, you really don't want them to break and let your gun fall to the floor when you're at the checkout counter! And finally, if you're wanting it for concealed carry, how well does it conceal? Does it blend right in to your normal way of dressing, or does it stick out like a sore thumb? A holster can meet every single other criteria I've given you, but if everyone and their half blind grandmother can spot it through your clothing then it really doesn't do you much good now, does it. Finally, ask questions. Ask lots and lots of questions. Ask them of your gun store owner, ask them of your gun loving brother-in-law, ask them of the cop on the corner. As that rather stupid sounding old adage goes, there's no such thing as a stupid question. Like wise, there's no such thing as too many questions either. Your holster and you are going to be together for a long time. You owe it to yourself to get a good one.
Like most children on the autism spectrum, my son tends to get overstimulated by things going on around him, especially if there is an awful lot of stimuli in his environment such as might be experienced at a crowded store (such as Walmart or Target); and when he does he quite often starts getting loud and running back and forth. Now admittedly, this can be somewhat distracting to other people, but my wife and I can normally get him to stop though it takes constant reminders to keep him from starting up again. It also can lead to meltdowns which all too many people mistake for tantrums. A perfect example of the former happened this weekend. My wife and I had to stop at Target to pick up a few things my daughter needed and some medicine for me since I was under the weather, and of course, it being Valentines Day weekend, the place was a mad house; but other than starting to get a bit loud, Wills was amazingly good about things. So, to reward him for his good behavior, we stopped at Panera's to get him a cookie on the way home; where he started running back and forth along the length of the counter from the front of the store to the back. Since I wasn't feeling all that great, and I was trying to order I wasn't quite as fast to call him back to us and tell him not to do that as I normally would be and an older gentleman decided to ignore the cashier trying to take his order to make comments about how we needed to teach Wills better manners. Fortunately for him, I didn't hear him, but my wife did and if he hadn't shut up when he did he would have gotten the dressing down of his life.
So what exactly is it about autistic children (and adults too truth be known) that causes this sort of behavior when over stimulated? Well for one thing, people with autism tend to have what is commonly referred to as Sensory Integration Disorder to some extent or another, which results in all of their senses being wide open all the time. Most people such as you and I can ignore things going on around us to the extent that if it's something our brain tells us is normal we don't even notice it consciously, but someone on the spectrum like my son is constantly aware of everything, and I do mean everything! The brightness of the lights, the smells drifting out of the snack stand, the perfume being worn by the lady 2 isles over, the ping of the cash registers, the excited squeals of a child getting a new toy, the crying of a baby near the back, the squeaking of the wheels on a buggy behind him, the clink of new stock being put on the shelves by an employee, all them things you and I would never even notice but my son is very much aware of and cannot shut out. Is it any wonder he gets over loaded? I think I would probably go mad if I had to deal with it, so how can I hold his getting over excited against him? Especially when I've told him that he's getting a reward for dealing with it as well as he did this weekend!
So the next question then becomes why do people on the autism spectrum experience this sensory overload where you and I don't? Part of it at least seems to come from the way their brain develops. MRI's of people with autism tend to show that they have way too many connections to their brain stems, and often other parts of their brains as well. The most commonly accepted theory from this is that these extra connections result in extraordinary sensitivity to various sensory inputs which in turn causes them to be unable to filter out extraneous stimuli that neurotypical people would never even notice. Add in a lack of social awareness, and it becomes something these children have a very difficult time learning to deal with in a socially acceptable way.
So the next time you're at a restaurant or busy store and a child starts running back and forth, flapping his or her hands and making "weird" sounds, stop and consider that that child might be autistic and is trying their best to deal with more stimuli that you have ever noticed in your life; then reconsider your comments on how that child needs to be taught better manners. We, the parents of autistic children, are doing our best and we definitely don't need your snide remarks about something we have to deal with day in and day out. Our lives are stressful enough as it is without having to deal with you as well. Or, as my wife was ready to tell that rude and condescending asshole at Panera's, if you don't know what you're talking about (and he didn't) then keep your mouth shut or else you may need a pry bar to remove your feet from it!
Had a someone accuse me of being a Prepper last night and I must admit that after I stopped laughing, I actually had to pause and reflect on it a second time. After all, just what does make a person a Prepper? If you ask most people what a Prepper is and they'll tell you they're conspiracy theorists who are convinced the end of civilization is just around the corner, and I'll admit that there's more than a few like that out there; but in all honesty I have to wonder just how fair that view is.
Part of what forms my thinking is close to 20 years spent working in Charleston, SC. You see, I came to Charleston just after Hurricane Hugo paid a visit and I still have memories of profiteering a#%£€s charging $45.00 for a gallon of drinking water, and it was only Charleston's innate politeness (and a healthy National Guard presence) that kept crime as low as it was that first year. Then we had 3 more hurricanes come visiting over the years I lived there, and as a Healthcare Professional I could not evacuate like my neighbors did. As a result when I left Charleston 17 years later I routinely made sure I had enough non-perishable food items on hand at all times to keep my family going for 3 months as well as at least 10 gallons of drinking water, 10 gallons of gasoline, enough plywood to cover all of the windows, kerosene for a heater, and propane for the grill, not to mention enough ammo for the guns so that if another Hugo came through I wouldn't have to count on the manners of my neighbors. As for trusting the government, sorry but I know too many people who are still waiting on the relief money FEMA promised them.
So, am I a Prepper? I don't really know if the truth be known. Even now, some 6 years or so since I moved away from the coast, I still tend to keep enough non-perishable food on hand that I could go for a month without grocery shopping if I needed to and I still keep a supply of kerosene on hand in case I need to hear the house even when the electricity and gas are out due to a severe storm, but even though I don't trust the government to take care of things I don't really expect it to fail and plunge us all into some kind of post-apolitical reality out of Mad Max or even Red Dawn. But then again, the government doesn't have to fail for us to find ourselves on our own for a brief period of time. Even as far from the coast as I live now, if another Katrina hit South Carolina I could find myself and my family without water, heat, or power for a month or so easily. Then there's the chance of an earth quake. I know most people think of California when they hear the word earth quake, but in 1886 Charleston was hit by an earth quake so powerful that it was felt as far away as Boston and Chicago. Imagine what one like that would do today. Nor am I safe from winter storms just because I live in the South. Just last year Atlanta was hit by a blizzard that shut the city down for an entire week, and the Northeast has been hit badly a couple of times this year as well. So am I a Prepper? Well I don't think of myself as one, but I do think you should follow the Boy Scouts motto and always be prepared for you never know what might happen next.