Hey! Welcome back, I'm glad you made it. I've been doing a lot of interviewing this past week, and I noticed something about my sports jacket that kind of disturbed me. Now when I bought it I made sure I worked with the people at the men's store to be sure it would conceal my holster well while still looking good. Surprising? It really shouldn't be. With the number of people who have cancelled carry permits on the rise, many of the better stores are more than willing to work with you though they may ask you to unload your weapon as a safety precaution.
What concerns me though is that the sleeves have become rather tight around my biceps lately. Not sure if I've started to put some fat on my upper arms or if my efforts to get back in shape after all the health problems I've had over the past year is adding muscle to my arms. It sure hasn't done anything to shrink my stomach yet! But the point is that I was concerned that the jacket might bind my arms at the wrong time; so I went down to my favorite range for a little tactical practice and sure enough, and sure enough I couldn't draw with my holster in it's normal position and still put the first round on target smoothly!
Now admittedly I don't wear suits very often so this might not seem to be that big a deal to some of you. Especially since I can change guns and holsters to overcome the problem, but if I hadn't stopped by the range I would never have known just how bad it really was! If I had needed to defend myself I would have been in some serious trouble and would never have known it until it was too late. Which brings us to the whole point of this ramble.
If you are going to carry a gun for self defense, you absolutely must practice your shooting skills regularly. I don't care what someone else may tell you, shooting a gun is NOT like riding a bike! If you don't practice then you'll fumble things badly when the adrenaline kicks in, and one of the things you need to practice is drawing and registering your gun. In fact as my little story shows, you need to practice while wearing any style of dress you might find yourself wearing. So you can draw rattle snake quick when wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Fine. I'm proud of you. What happens when winter comes and you're wearing a heavy coat? If you're wearing a suit? Or even worse, a trench coat over that nice suit? Believe me, Murphy will bite you hard if you don't practice in every combination of clothes you may find yourself in; and he bites harder than a pissed off pit bull!
"But my range won't let me do that!" some of you are saying. Yeah, that can be a bit of a problem, but it doesn't mean you can't practice drawing from the holster. Contrary to popular belief, it's actually perfectly safe to dry fire most modern center fire hand guns; and even if that isn't true for yours, they make a product called "Snap Caps" which are basically rounds with no powder or primers. So find a safe place in your house where you're not going to break something, unload your gun, and get to it. In fact many experts (including the man who trained me) recommend doing this at least 10 times a day in addition to live fire practice at the range. In a surprisingly short period of time this daily practice will have you moving as smooth as, well, Wyatt Earp. Which brings up another point to keep in mind.
According to legend, Wyatt Earp, one the most respected as well as feared gun men in the old west reportedly once said that it's not who shoots first that wins but the one who shoots accurately first. You can be faster than Jerry Miculek, but if your first shot tends to hit the 7 ring on the range then sorry to say you probably won't be able to hit the broad side of a barn from the inside when the chips are down. So take your time and practice doing it right. When your first shot from the holster is consistently hitting the x-ring, then you can start trying to up your speed. Until then just concentrate on the basics.
In the meantime though, it seems I've done it again with the chapter length rambles. So until we meet again in this little corner of cyberspace I call my own you take care of yourself and your family. And as always, remember. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing with attitude!
Over heard a discussion yesterday that disturbed me a mite bit, especially since it involves the gun and knife show I'm on my way to this morning. It seems these two college kids were still pissed off at not being allowed to take a picture of a tee shirt that was being sold at the show this past spring. They were especially pissedvat being told that if they liked it enough to take picture of it, then they liked it enough to buy it cause that was the only way they were going to get that design.
Hey and welcome back. I'm glad you could make it. Last week I rambled on a bit about what to do in a home invasion, and several people asked me if I'd revisit a piece I did a while back on home security. So why don't see what we can do.
Now the most commonly overlooked place to start when you're trying to burglar proof your home is also one that almost every article on the subject mentions. Namely the deadbolt on your doors. The fact is that you can have the best deadbolt made, but if the strike plate the bolt fits into is too flimsy you may as well have not even bothered with a deadbolt in the first place. And don't count on the carpenter who installed it to make sure it's secure even if it did come with a selection of hardware.
Start by measuring the length of bolt that goes into the strike plate and your door jam. If it's less than an inch and a quarter then you really need to replace the whole thing. Any reasonably fit man can probably move you door and the door jam close to an inch with a cheap pry bar from Walmart so anything less than an inch and a quarter just ain't going to cut it, and an inch and a half would be even better.
Next look at the screws holding the strike plate to the frame. If they're not two inches or longer then you really should replace them, preferably with three inch screws assuming there's enough wood to sink them in. Even a complete novice could do the job in under 10 minutes and will make the chance of someone kicking into your door almost nonexistent.
The next thing you really need to look at is your windows since that's the second most likely route a bad guy will pick to get into your home. Start by just looking at the age and condition of the windows. If they're the original windows and your home was built back in the 70's or 80's you might want to just go ahead and replace them with ones made with either tempered glass or safety glass. The energy savings alone could end up paying for the new windows, and either type of glass is so hard to break that most crooks will give up long before they get through.
Next take a look at the hardware on your windows. Some locks can be jimmied simply by sliding a credit card or knife blade up between the top and bottom sashes, so check to make sure the locks are tight. If there's any play in them at all you should probably have them replaced. Another thing to check is to see if your windows have safety latches designed to lock them in a partially open position. If they do then they probably serve as a second lock as well though most people never think to use them that way. If yours don't then I'd strongly recommend get a bar or rod that will keep your windows from being opened even if a crook does manage to force the locks. The simplest way is just to cut a broomstick to fit, but you can buy bars made just for the purpose. It wouldn't hurt to do the same for your sliding glass door as well.
The next thing I'd do is look at how well lit your home is. The last thing any crook wants is to be seen, so having flood lights on the corners and bright porch lights beside each of your doors will greatly decrease the appeal of trying to break into your house. If the idea of having them on all night long makes the Scrooge in you flinch, spend a little extra and get ones with motion detectors built in. Just be warned that if you live out in the country then you might find the deer you never knew were coming into your yard may trigger them unexpectedly. I'm in the process of installing light sensors in mine so that they'll automatically turn on at dusk and then turn themselves off at dawn.
Next look at the plants around your house. Lush planting a can really add to the value of a home it's true, but if they block the view of your neighbors of someone trying to force their way in then they need to be cut back or replaced with something as prickly as possible. Say a holly or a nice rose bush for example.
And that brings me in a way to one of my pet peeves. Yes, yes, I know. Everyone loves their privacy, and being able to relax in the privacy of your backyard can be priceless after a long day at work; but stop and look at that privacy fence from a crook's point of view for a minute here. If your neighbors can't see into your backyard, how are they going to see the bad guys forcing open your patio door? They can't obviously, and so that beloved privacy fence you paid so much to have put in becomes a bugler's best friend. Okay, I know I'm not going to change many minds on this one; but please at least think about it a bit.
Of course the most obvious thing to help secure your home is to get an alarm system installed, preferably one that's monitored by a reputable company 24 hours a day. In my case I actually have two systems, one installed and monitored by one of the better known national companies, and a set of cameras feeding to a DVR that covers every approach to the house I could think of as well as some inside watching the most commonly used ways to get in that was installed and maintained by a local company with an excellent reputation. And both of them are hooked up to a back up power supply in case someone gets the cute idea of cutting the power lines to my house. Hey, what can I say. I'm paranoid. But when a home is broken into every 13 seconds here in the U.S., and around every 7 seconds in Great Britain, being paranoid suddenly doesn't sound all that bad now, does it?
And finally, the easiest and most effective way to help burglar proof your home is simply to get to know your neighbors. Believe it or not, most homes are broken into between 10 am and 3 pm simply because thrives know these are the times a house is most likely to be empty. Nothing you can do is going to keep a true professional out, but most robberies are not committed by true professionals and if your neighbors know you well then they'll know when someone who doesn't belong comes around and the chances of the police being called soon enough to do some good goes up astronomically.
So there you have a quick primer on how to increase the safety of your home. Are there other things you can do? Certainly. Indeed entire books have been written on the subject and a quick trip to your local library or Amazon's web site will net you a ton of them, but I don't have room or time enough to get that indepth. Still I hope this helps give you at least a few ideas. So until next time dear reader I hope you have a fantastic weekend and an even better week. And as always, remember. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing with attitude!
Hey there! And welcome back to my somewhat warped little corner of cyberspace. I'm glad you could join me.
A couple of weeks ago I started rambling on about the various materials they use to make knife handles, and I've covered the natural materials fairly well. I had originally planned to do metals in this ramble and then look at man made materials next time, but instead I think I'm going to combine the two into a single ramble. After all, there's just not that many of the two compared to natural materials; so let's go ahead and get started.
When it comes to metal knife handles, almost every knife I know of uses one of three metals. Stainless Steel, aluminum, or titanium. Of the three, steel is the most scratch resistant but also the heaviest, aluminum tends to be the lightest, and titanium tends to be the most durable as well as the most expensive. Aluminum and titanium also can be anodized which can result in some spectacular colors, and of course all three can have a "brushed" look applied. Most stainless steel knives in my experience also tend to have some other material mated with the steel, most often in the form of an inset with rubber and plastic being the most common. The reason many knife makers do this is that stainless steel tends to feel rather slippery in the hand and so they add another material to improve the grip. I've also noticed that aluminum seems to get colder in the winter than either steel or titanium for some reason. Admittedly this rather subjective and you may find no noticeable difference, but I have run into several people who agree with me about this somewhat perplexing observation. I'll also freely admit that as a general rule I'm not all that fond of metal handled knives, though there are a few exceptions. The old Colt 668 fixed blade knife comes to mind, however the bankruptcy proceeding Colt went through back in January ended the production of all Colt knives for the foreseeable future so finding one may prove a bit of a challenge.
When you start talking man made materials, synthetics to use the proper terminology, things start to get a bit more colorful as well as wide ranging in both quality and price. Some of course use plastic to simulate natural materials, and some of them are really quite amazing in their similarity to the real thing. Still, as a general rule very few knife makers are going to use plastic on any of their good knives so it's probably best to stay away from most knives with plastic handles unless you happen to come across one of the rare exceptions.
Perhaps the most commonly used synthetic for knives is micarta. Originally developed by Westinghouse around 1910 as an electrical insulator, it is made by layering sheets of some material impregnated with resins (normally phenolic resins) and then exposing the built up mess to heat and pressure to form a very durable "board". The sheets can be linen, cotton, paper, or even fiberglass; and when two or more colors of sheet material is used, the resulting knife handle can be truly striking. The drawback is that micarta tends to extremely smooth, and is one of the more difficult materials to work. As a result micarta handled knives tend to be more expensive than the other synthetics.
Similar to Micarta is a material called G-10. Like micarta, G-10 is a laminate, but it uses glass fibers instead of cloth or paper. Almost as durable, G-10 is also used as an electrical insulator in many industries, but where most micarta tends to be of a darker hue due to the type of resin used, G-10 can be found in almost any color you can imagine. It also tends to be much easier to work which normally translates into a lower cost to you, the knife buyer.
Another laminate you may come across is commonly referred to as carbon fiber. Keep in mind that carbon fibers can be one of the strongest materials around, much stronger than steel in fact. The only problem is that all that strength only runs in one direction. As a result a knife with a carbon fiber handle is kind of like a diamond in a way. A diamond is indeed the hardest material any where, and can be used to cut through even the toughest item, but they're so brittle that if you hit it with a hammer all you'll have left is diamond dust. Carbon fiber handles are also extremely labor intensive, for about the only place you'll find these handles are on the very highest grade knives around. I mean, this stuff is expensive!
At the other end of the price spectrum is a material known as Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon, or FRN for short. The earliest example of FRN is a material called Zytel, which was introduced by DuPont back in the 1950's. Unlike the others mentioned so far however, the fiberglass fibers in FRN tend to run in completely random directions instead of being lined up neatly. This results in a material that can be injection molded in almost any form you like, which helps to keep costs way down. I know some feel that FRN isn't any better than plastic or rubber as a knife handle, but personally I find it to be as durable as you could possibly ask. In fact, my most commonly carried EDC knife, a Kershaw Freefall, has a FRN handle and the knife has yet to fail me in anyway.
One of the newer handle materials on the market is an acrylic based product called Kirinite. Available in a wide variety of colors and color combinations, you can find kirinite in almost any color you could possibly want. It works almost identically to wood, and, at least so far, seems to be as durable as you could possibly want. On the other hand the only major knife company I'm aware of that is currently using kirinite on any of their knives is Case, so at least for now you're most likely to see this material used on custom knives only; unless you're lucky enough to live near a major Case dealer.
And that my friends is the nitty gritty of knife handles. Yes, there are some out there who will think this whole series of rambles about the different materials that can be used to make a handle for your favorite knife silly in the extreme. Most of them will try to tell you that the handle really doesn't mean anything, but I personally think they're nuts. A knife with a poor handle will fail you every time. If the handle doesn't fit your hand right, or is made of a material that allows it to slip in you grip, then the knife will be a danger to you and anyone beside you. So pay attention to that handle. Pick the knife up and see how it fits in your hand even before you pay any attention to what style of blade or blades it has or what those blades are made of. If you can't keep a grip on it, then even the best blade isn't going to do you any good.
But for now it's late and alas, I must be up all too early in the morning. So until we meet again in this little corner of cyberspace I call my own, I wish you well dear reader. And remember, if it's worth doing then it's worth doing with attitude!
Gather round friends and listen to a story of a home invasion that could have gone very, very wrong. A week or so ago one of my friends who happens to be a a fourth degree Black Belt had some idiot try to force his way his house. The would be home invader kicked in the storm door but failed to get through the front door, possibly because my friend's no fool and had replaced the screws in the strike plate and dead bolt with longer screws. Now admittedly most home invasions happen in poorer neighborhoods, but my friend lives in a very nice area making this attempt kind of unusual. Add in that my friend probably could have tied the would be crook in knots, and the fact that the guy took off when he failed in his first attempt to force the door was a wise decision.
So how could things have gone wrong? Easy. Being no dummy, and not having any troubles with the thought of him or me, the first thing my friend did was grab his gun and make sure his wife and child were out of harms way. But then he made a very bad decision. He went out the door after the idiot who had tried to commit home invasion. Now admittedly my friend is a great martial artist. Indeed in all honesty he's better than I will ever be; but no matter how good you are, no form of karate will make you bullet proof! If the intruder had been armed then my friend would be pushing up daisies instead of running a very successful school. So what should my friend have done?
For starters, in addition to making sure his family was in a safe place, he should have instructed his wife to call 911. Now in all fairness, I can't imagine him not doing exactly that; but he didn't mention it when he was telling me the story so I have no way to know one way or another. But once that was done and he had his gun in hand, he should have immediately found some form of cover! In my friend's house he could have ducked down behind a couch or darted into the kitchen. Either way he'd have had plenty of cover and a clear shot at anyone coming through that front door. In my house I'd have had a lot more choices, including two stairwells, the kitchen, and, if I had time, the front room where I'd be behind them as they entered. I could also have ducked into the powder room right off the entry way, but then I would be trapped if anything went wrong, and it never pays to discount Murphy's law. It'll bite you in the ass every time!
So what should you do? Well for starters you need to look at your own home right now. How might an intruder try to force his way into your house or apartment? Admittedly most home invaders go for the front door. After all their whole strategy is to smash their way in, grab whatever they can, and get back out again as fast as possible; and hang the damage to property or people. But not every crook is going to go for the front door, so look at every possibility and try to figure out where you can get good defensive cover and still have a clear shot at any intruder coming in that way. At the same time try to figure out your line of retreat if things start to go south. Next you need to find a safe place for your family to retreat to where they won't find themselves in the line of fire, yet at the same time there needs to be a line of escape; so an upstairs bathroom with only a tiny little window that no one could possibly get through probably wouldn't be an ideal choice. At the same time your family really needs a reliable way to call the police. After all, you're likely to be too busy to do it yourself, so get them used to having their cell phones with them at all times. And finally, try your damnedest to figure out a way to get the hell out of dodge before the bullets start flying. It may be a cliche, but the best fight really is a fight avoided! Things can be replaced, your life cannot; and no matter how good you may be, there's always someone out there who's better or luckier. So get a good insurance plan with a replacement value rider and let the bad guy have your things if you can safely get out of there.
Now comes the hard part. My friend had done all of that. He even practiced it a few times, yet he still went out the door after the intruder instead of following his plan. Why? Because when things get real, we as human being will instinctively do one of two things. We'll either attack, or run away and hide; it's simply the way we're wired! That's why police departments, fire departments, ambulance crews, and hospitals have so many disaster drills. That's why the military trains their recruits to tears. The only way to keep from falling back on that instinct is to practice our plan time and time again. Indeed, you need to practice it till your family starts muttering about white jackets with extra long sleeves since it's obvious you've become paranoid. Admittedly it's as boring as hell, but it's much better than being another statistic in some police report.
Of course there are all sorts of things you can do to make your home a much less inviting target, many of which I covered in an earlier ramble. And who knows, I may revisit that ramble again; but I think it's time to bring this one to an end. As always I hope I gave you something to think about, so until we meet again in this little corner of cyberspace I call my own I wish you well. May the sun be always at your back and may the road rise up to meet you. And as always, remember, if it's worth doing then it's worth doing with attitude!
Well it seems I'm temporarily between full time employment at the moment due to various health issues, and so I've been neglecting my rambles a bit lately; for which I do apologize my dear reader. None the less, in looking back over some of my rambles I may have given the impression that having a child on the autism spectrum is nothing but trials and tribulations. Believe me, nothing could be further from the truth! Indeed, both my wife and I tend to have rather severe differences with at least one autism group that treats autism as a horrible disease that desperately needs a cure. My son may be wired a bit different from you and I, but but he's NOT sick or broken! Indeed, if someone could "fix" Wills tomorrow and make him completely normal I'd have to say no thanks.
Baffling? If you've never been where I am it probably is. Of course I would love it if Wills suddenly gained the ability to communicate with us clearly and could expect to support himself like his neuro-typical sister will, but it's his many quirks and foibles that make him what and who he is. To make him "normal" would remove all of that and he would no longer be the son I love more than life itself. Here, let me give you some examples of what I'm talking about.
Many, many young children will, if given a chance, will watch a movie they like until the parents are ready to throw it out into the street and run over it with a tank. Well Wills hasn't out grown that yet, and a couple of weeks ago the movie that had his undivided attention was the SpongeBob Movie. Next thing I knew he had made himself an eye patch that almost any optometrist would be proud of and was running around being Silence! the pirate, a pirate so mean he made his parrot walk the plank when the parrot ignored the command to be Silent! All in all, he made us laugh ourselves sick with his escapades that day.
Another time he found a YouTube video of a Hienz ketchup commercial where two tomatoes were arguing over the pronouciation of the word tomato until at the end a bottle of ketchup smashes down between them and a deep voice says very firmly Hienz. For about 3 days he kept repeating that commercial until, just as I was about to scream, he suddenly replaced the word "Hienz" with "Blender" and started laughing. Words just can't picture the event properly.
Another example would be his bed. Like many on the autism spectrum, my son has a degree of OCD. In his case, his sheets must be just so and his pillow cases absolutely must match the sheets exactly. If they don't then "something's wrong with my bedroom" and he simply cannot sleep in his bed. Now admittedly this drove us nuts for about a week until we figured out what the problem was. Once we did and made sure he knew where his clean sheets and blankets were kept, well he now changes his own bed when he's not happy with it and he hasn't slept in the family room since.
So there you have it dear reader. Admittedly these foibles of Wills would cause many people to pause, but they make him what he is; and if ensuring his ability to survive on his own meant erasing them I would refuse the "cure". Yes, his autism and his limited options for the future adds a measure of stress to my life that, especially now as I work through my own health problems, I could well do with out. But to change him that much would render him a completely different person and I love my son just the way he is. But for now I need to get back to looking for a job that my health issues won't interfere with, so I bid you farewell dear reader. Until we meet again in this little corner of cyberspace I call my own you take care; and remember, if it's worth doing it's worth doing with attitude!