Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan Teetering On The Brink of Chernobyl - Can It Get Any Worse?

The Japanese have been faced with amazing trials over the past few days. They seem to be handling all of them well with one possible exception. They are faced with thousands to tens of thousands of dead, from the earthquakes and tsunami, yet they keep searching for survivors. They have awakened to find themselves homeless in the winter yet they have managed to shelter their people. They have most certainly found themselves hungry, short of food, but no one is looting or certainly there are no mobs of looters getting whatever they can steal. They face the prospect of a nuclear meltdown in not one, not two, but three nuclear reactors. Yet, 50 of Japan's bravest, now dubbed the Fukishima 50, have been giving it their all (and that could wind up being most literally as in their lives) by continually going in and out of the danger zone to try to prevent nuclear meltdown! They have found themselves alone and lacking in almost every need but have found themselves suddenly surrounded by a wealth of friends and have had the humility not to be to proud to accept the helping hands that have been offered.

By now you may be wondering what I meant when I said they are doing well with one possible exception. That possible exception is their leadership, their government. While they may be doing much right, they are possibly about to fail miserably in their most important duty, protecting the people of their nation. The government seems to have been bending over backwards, along with those who run the nuclear plants, to assure the Japanese people that the near meltdown conditions at the nuclear power plant did not pose a serious threat. In that regard I think they are, or were, at least temporarily, out of their minds. I think they would have been much better off evacuating the area early on and then not needing to worry if people had been irradiated. Now they are testing everyone in the area for radiation and they are finding too many people who have been contaminated. I imagine that the mindset that allowed them to do so comes with bad politics and with cover-up politics. Let's hope it is not the latter, let's hope they have not already been covering up faults of those power plants for years already. Let's hope some of what they are saying about the chance for a nuclear meltdown is true and that there really is almost no chance of it. The thing is though, it seems a meltdown may be inevitable because almost everything else that could go wrong with the nuclear power plant, that they promised would not happen, seems to have happened. I pray it not be the case.

If the core melts down, causing the landscape to become irradiated, could there be anything worse that could happen to them? Short of an epidemic caued by decaying bodies or an invasion by the Chinese or a missile attack by the North Koreans, I cannot think of anything even remotely realistic. Of course, there is always Godzilla or zombies but they just ain't gonna happen in the real world. Let's hope that a meltdown, an epidemic, a missile attack or an invasion of helpful Chinese troops isn't going to happen either.

Keep the Japanese in your thoughts and prayers and please consider donating to a legitimate charity to help them.

All the best,
Glenn B

Testing The Henry Survival Rifle...

...was high on my list of things to do this week. I just have not gotten the chance to go to the range though, but still really wanted very badly to test it to see if I got it back together right. The thought crossed my mind that I could load it with CB caps and shoot it at a target/backstop area that I could set up in my basement. They are 22 Short not 22LR but they would work enough for me to see if I got the trigger mechanism in there right to propel the firing pin forward. I thought it over and decided I really did not want to or need to be shooting bullets inside my house so I passed, mostly because of possible safety issues.

Then, I remembered that I had two containers of blanks, both 22 caliber. One is about the size of a 22 short shell, the other was about 3/4 the size of a 22LR. I opted for the latter, loaded one into the magazine, inserted the mag, pulled back the bolt and let it slingshot forward and the rifle actually loaded that smaller off sized cartridge. I aimed it in a safe direction, gave a squeeze of the trigger and it went BANG! I then had to manually operate the action because there was not enough recoil from the blank to do so. Then I loaded a second one and tried again. BANG a second time. I would have to say it appears pretty positive, I got it reassembled correctly - whoopee!

I lit a couple of scented candles to cover the telltale aroma of the gun powder but when my son came home about 15 minutes later he asked: "Is something burning? What's that smell?" I told him I had shot off a round in the basement, to which he said "WHAT". I then told him what really had transpired and he said "Cool". It was surprising how long that very noticeable odor remained despite the scented candles having been lit, in fact I was a bit surprised he did not recognize it right away. Then again, maybe he just did not want to believe that I had fired a gun in the house. Oh well, what's a guy to do when there was a gun just waiting to be test fired. Remember, they were only blanks and shooting them was certainly better than shooting actual bullets in my house and a whole lot safer too! By the way, even though I was only shooting starter gun blanks, I made darned sure to have the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. That included one that was bullet proof (just in case there was some sort of unexpected projectile in the casing) and one that was fireproof because as with any live round these contained gunpowder and gun powder produces muzzle flash and muzzle flash is nothing more than fire, some still burning powder, some unburned powder and hot gases.

Yep - it is a good idea to consider safety even with blanks. If you ever use blanks, never fool around with them or with a gun loaded with them. Firing blanks at others can cause harm and in some instances they have been known to cause death. Shoot safe, stay safe.

All the best,
Glenn B