Monday, December 9, 2013

What's Worse Than 0200 Change Control?

Change control at 0100.  On Monday morning.

ETA:  And I get to do it again tomorrow.  Oh.  Yay.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Global Warming My ***

It was zero glorious degrees outside this morning with a wind chill of minus-eighteen.  Currently the temperature has made it all the way up to ONE ABOVE.

"Average" for this time of year is supposedly 36 high and 16 low.

If the Global keeps Warming at this rate, the glaciers will have returned by February.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Rifle ID Bleg

Can anyone identify the rifle in these photos?  Click to embiggen.

Several active and former military/sniper/Camp-Perry friends have weighed in with their opinions, but unfortunately no two of them seem to agree.


Working Change Control at 0200


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cognitive Disconnect

My current workplace forbids even a Leatherman because they consider it a ZOMG SCARY WEAPON.

But every desk comes pre-equipped with one of these:

BIG scissors

Mad, they're all mad.

Friday, November 29, 2013

My New Magnum

The ongoing depredations of the Infernal Eternal Internal Revenue Service pretty much make Buy A Gun Day a fiscal impossibility for me (gotta keep those entitlement slags happy so they'll vote for Democrats again). But that didn't mean I couldn't get a new Magnum on April 15, 2011.

Meet Design's Airlite Magnum:

He's three years old now and weighs all of seven pounds.  His littermates are named Colt and Remington, so this was pretty much fated to be. His name is appropriate, since he’s the dog version of a .357 scandium J-frame: small and lightweight but packing quite a wallop.

After a lifetime of German Shepherds, Greyhounds, and a hundred-plus-pound Scottish Deerhound who stood three feet tall at the shoulder, a dog this small is like an alien life form.

I’m thoroughly accustomed to Greyhounds who learned to open the refrigerator and help themselves. I could deal with a Deerhound who was so tall on his hind legs that I was not physically capable of holding food out of his reach. I figured a dog this small couldn't get into much trouble, right?

This little monster goes places and does things my cats never dreamed of. Like getting in my kitchen sink by running straight up the front of the cabinet like a military working dog scaling an eight-foot barricade. That's why he's kenneled for his own protection whenever I can't devote my full, undivided attention to keeping him from killing himself.

My other three dogs are seventy-to-ninety-pound retired racing Greyhounds, to whom a seven-pound fuzzball* looks mighty like prey. They will never share floor space with him. Without exception there are never less than two physical barriers between them.  That doesn't make them bad, it just makes them Greyhounds. It's not their fault they have exactly the characteristics for which they've been bred for 4,000 years.

Magnum has such a powerful presence that I can't think of him as a tiny dog.  He's a very big dog in a conveniently-sized package.  He has none of the deformities and neuroses that make so many toy-breed dogs utterly loathsome.  My vets just love him, although every time they see him they still say they can't believe I have a little dog.

My HideAway Habit

Years ago, I stumbled across an interesting knife mentioned on a gun forum. Called the HideAwayKnife, it was a small fixed-blade designed to be pretty much undroppable. The unique design made it perfectly suited to both defensive and utility purposes.

I always carried a folder (or three) and figured I could handle them effectively if I needed to use them for last-ditch personal protection. But as is so often the case, a bit of force-on-force taught me how foolish that was. There just isn't enough fine motor control to spare.

I ordered a HideAway, along with a training drone and SouthNarc's great training DVD. I know better than to think a DVD alone can prepare anyone to fight for their life, so I loaned it to an instructor (retired SEAL) I've worked with extensively in armed and unarmed technique. He was impressed, and helped me develop better competency with the little knives.

Only about an inch and a half long, they fall well within most jurisdictions' knife carry blade length limits. Some areas ban all fixed blades regardless of length. As with the confusing array of gun laws on the books, it is our responsibility to research what is and is not allowed where we live and travel. Nebraska, for example, defines a knife with a blade over 3.5" in length as a weapon, but then throws in "any other dangerous instrument capable of inflicting cutting, stabbing, or tearing wounds" for good measure. This state also defines a "deadly weapon" as "any firearm, knife, bludgeon, or other device, instrument, material, or substance, whether animate or inanimate, which in the manner it is used or intended to be used is capable of producing death or serious bodily injury." Animate or inanimate? Well, I did have a cat with an attitude years ago who qualified.

But getting back on topic, I don't want a bad guy getting any closer to me than absolutely necessary and a knife is absolutely an up-close-and-personal weapon. I also understand that I will not be able to set the parameters of any true defensive encounter. Having highly-concealable options for the worst-case scenario can only be a good thing.

HideAways are like potato chips, though. You can't have just one.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks

As Allen Saunders less-famously said, life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. Despite being repeatedly steamrolled by life over these past couple of years, I have quite a lot for which to be thankful.

After being unemployed twice over a less-than-six-month period, I now have a job I truly enjoy. It's insanely busy, but I thrive in that kind of work environment.  An unexpected crisis in the life of someone very close to me resulted in the dissolution of a twenty-year relationship, but a new friendship may slowly be growing.

My 16-year-old German Shepherd mix, Harriet, died of old age, but I now have 3.1 young dogs happily wreaking havoc (3.1?  Explanation coming soon).

Thanks to a convergence of judgement errors, a new boarder introduced strangles to the farm where I board my horses that went undetected until every horse was exposed.  Mine are coming down with it one after another, but seem so far to be making uneventful recoveries.

Beyond the realm of the personal, it seems that Dear Leader's hubris may finally be collapsing under its own weight as even long-term loyalists distance themselves.  Harry Reid's Nuclear Option will come back to bite the Demonrats Democrats if voters pay attention and they lose their Senate majority.

Despite more horrific more horrific mass murders gleefully exploited by the lamestream media and would-be gun-banners, the line has mostly been held against those who would deprive us of our rights.  And with the fall of Illinois, now all fifty states have some mechanism, however flawed, for lawful concealed carry.

Overall, life is good.

We do, however, need to always remember that we are responsible for keeping it that way.  The price of freedom and prosperity is eternal vigilance and plain old hard work.  Never give up and never stop fighting the good  fight.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cooperate Or Resist?

Most people who hear about my ongoing battles with folks who want my property agree with my refusal to be intimidated. But every so often, somebody says, "Why don't you just let them have it and go somewhere else to live?"

Why indeed? Wouldn't it be easier to just give them what they want and run away? That's the way to guarantee I'll be safe, right?

Sound familiar?

Whether by threat of harm in the dark parking lot or threat of harm by harassment and intimidation, taking somebody else's rightful property is the same. It makes no difference in principle that the landgrabbers write a check to validate their taking. They are still forcing somebody else to give up something he or she wishes to keep.

That's the problem. Neither the robber nor the landgrabber has any respect for "this is mine, you can't have it."

We're told by our betters the Authorities that we shouldn't resist a criminal who "just" wants our "stuff." It's only "stuff" and can easily be replaced, right?

I'll wager the privileged elitists who say that have never been unemployed. They don't understand that "stuff" can be finite, and losing "stuff" can have serious adverse effects on someone's life.

"Stuff" is survival.

These elites also don't understand that rewarding behavior is not the way to suppress it. Every robber who scores when a victim meekly hands over the goods is highly motivated to rob again. And every politician who gets reelected after screwing his or her constituents is highly motivated to screw them again.

The elites wonder why there's no reduction in crime after they restrict effective self-defense and indoctrinate the masses to cooperate with criminals. They just made crime easier, that's why. More than once, a Stand Your Ground bill died in the Nebraska legislature thanks to a Judiciary Committee infested with anti-defense, pro-criminal (excuse me, pro-disadvantaged-youth-vicitmized-by-society-who-just-want-jobs) quasi-functionaries who prefer helpless subjects to independent citizens.

Giving your wallet, watch, and self-respect to a criminal is no guarantee he won't use the information in it to look you up at home with a few of his friends. It's no guarantee he won't kill you anyway. There is no honor code of the criminal keeping them from harming submissive victims.

Running and hiding never ends. They always find you again. Being submissive draws victimizers the way decomp draws flies.

Another One Bites The Dust

Colorado Senator Evie "You Don't Need a Gun to Prevent Rape" Hudak is submitting her resignation.

Apparently after seeing two of her partners in (facilitating) crime recalled, she decided to bail so the Demonrats Democrats could appoint a replacement rather than lose their majority in the state legislature.

That's okay.  They see the handwriting on the wall.  Before, they never took recalls seriously.  Now, they fear a recall.  Because they've seen recalls work.

Now if we can only get more recalls going, augmented with a few select impeachments, prosecutions, convictions, and appropriate sentences . . .

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Adventures in Auto Repair

A while back I bought a 2005 Saturn VUE that overall has proven satisfactory.  When I bought my first Saturn, its warranty came with PM's included, and the dealership mechanics proved to be excellent.  It was easy to become spoiled and let them deal with things that otherwise involved rolling around in the gravel driveway with motor oil and/or transmission fluid in my hair.

Saturn, alas, is no more, and Saturn repair with access to "factory" parts has been handed off to a short list of Certified Service Providers.

There are two in my area.  One has its business pretty much wallpapered with NO EBIL GUNZ signs, so of course I refuse to reward their bad behavior.  The other had been adequate for oil changes and tire rotations, but then the car came up with a Check Engine light (aka "the $300 light" according to a mechanic friend) and was running like crap.  Connecting the code scanner revealed only a P0300, Multiple Random Misfires.  So I made an appointment for it at Certified Service Provider #2.

Now understand I did this rather than digging into it myself only because I'm so expletive-deleted busy I don't have the time, not because I'm incapable of troubleshooting and repairing it myself.

Well, not only did they not fix anything, they told me I needed a whole new freakin' engine.  And then sent me this email:
From: Joe Redacted
To: hecate
Date: Mon, Oct 28, 2013 at 5:49 AM
Subject: Thank you! We hope we did an excellent job on your VUE.

Dear hecate,

Thank you for your recent visit to our Service Department. We want to make sure you had a truly outstanding service experience. Our goal is to always give you prompt and efficient service.

On each visit, we are striving for your complete satisfaction, so we would sincerely appreciate any comments or suggestions you might have regarding this visit.

Our hope is that you will continue to use our Service and Parts Departments exclusively in the future. If for any reason you feel that you can't do so or can't recommend us to a friend, please click the "Reply" button or call me at 855-XXX-XXXX.

Thank you for the privilege of letting us service your 2005 VUE. We value your opinion and we appreciate your business!


Joe Redacted
Service Manager
Redacted Automotive

Redacted Automotive Chevrolet Cadillac
Certified Service Providers for Saturn and Hummer
Yeah, right.

After some careful consideration, I sent them the following reply:
From: hecate
Date: Mon, Oct 28, 2013 at 7:34 PM
Subject: Re: Thank you! We hope we did an excellent job on your VUE.
To: Joe Redacted

Mr. Redacted:

Your service department had my 2005 Saturn Vue for two full days, during which time they put nearly 100 miles on the vehicle and left me with under 1/8 tank of gas.  I was told my vehicle "had an engine problem" that could only be addressed by replacing the entire engine.  I was given a preliminary rough guesstimate of $3,000 for a rebuilt engine and another $3,000 labor.

The initial presentation was a Check Engine light that coded P0300, multiple random misfires.  I was told while in your shop it also coded rich mixture.  When I asked how that related to "you need to replace the engine," I was told both codes were caused by oil-fouled spark plugs due to worn valve guides and seats.  I was also told I had "no oil pressure at the top of the engine."

Attached is a photo of the plugs that were in my engine when your staff said I had oil fouling.  As you can see, there is no oil fouling at all, wet or dry.  It would have taken all of five minutes to physically examine the plugs but apparently only computerized testing is the current SOP.

If actually looking at spark plugs to verify fouling is considered excessive effort, I would imagine performing something as basic as a leakdown test to assess actual engine wear would also be out of the question.

Now nothing I was told was technically untrue.  I knew when I brought the vehicle in that there was an engine problem.  I brought it in expecting a more precise diagnosis.  And regardless of the nature or severity of any engine problem, replacing the entire engine will certainly make it go away.  I cannot however regard what was done as anything resembling due diligence.

Rest assured that I will never use your services again.  If I ultimately determine my engine is truly so severely worn that replacement is potentially appropriate I will pull it and rebuild it myself.



Now I had to fix the thing myself.  After going through my set of factory shop manuals and some Google searches, I decided to start at the air/fuel/spark interface and walk the problem back from there.  The first thing I tested was the coil pack, and it was bad.  ICM's typically jump off the cliff hand-in-hand with the coils, so I tested it as well.  Bingo.

I believe in fixing one clearly identified problem and then testing to see if anything else is needed.  Guess what, no further troubleshooting was necessary.  So I sent the Certified Service Provider a followup email:
From: hecate
Date: Mon, Nov 4, 2013 at 12:37 PM
Subject: Fwd: Thank you! We hope we did an excellent job on your VUE.

Mr. Redacted:

I thought you might like to know that I fixed my 2005 Saturn Vue myself.

It did not in fact need a new engine.  All it needed was a new ignition coil pack and ignition control module.  I replaced those on Saturday, then drove to Lexington and back on Sunday, a 400+ mile round trip, mostly at 75 mph.  The Vue functioned flawlessly.  Noise and vibration are gone.  There were no engine stumbles, misfires, or DTC's, and my gas mileage was far better than it's been in a long time.

If I were you, I'd be embarrassed that a woman using a Radio Shack multimeter was able to diagnose a problem in less than 15 minutes that your fully-equipped service department failed to detect in two days.  Total cost was less than $200 in parts and a pair of dirty hands.  It took me longer to find and retrieve a torx bit I dropped in the engine compartment than it took to complete the repair.


Funny thing, they never responded.

Received From A Friend

That's my kind of family, all right.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bacon As Public Art

Gotta love Nebraska.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tap, Tap, Tap

Is this thing on?

No, I'm not dead.

Here's hoping I can find the time to post once in a while between working 27 hours a day, 9 days a week.