Friday, October 5, 2012

Interuppted By A Bandit On My Way To Aurora

I had just settled back, much like Plainclothes Detective C-7 Elijah Baley, for the long trip through the stars to the distant planet Aurora. Baley in a spaceship and me in a chair on my patio, under the light of one incandescent bulb and the stars, Isaac Asimov's - The Robots Of Dawn - in my hands and open in front of me. As I read on about Baley commencing his trip to Aurora, I was interrupted, suddenly aware of a low and really guttural growl coming from behind my right shoulder. It was Pepe, our adult male Chihuahua, who had just been at my side . He was growling as I had never heard him growl in all the 6 plus years we have owned him. I turned to see what it was at which he could be growling like that, automatically reaching for the Glock 26 on my side, half expecting an intruder to try to make his way into my back yard. Then as I twirled around toward the commotion, there he was, masked and all, a thief in the night climbing over my gate and with one bound my mutt Mimi sprang out of the side doorway growling at him as well. The intruder jumped from the fence and was then, in a split instant, climbing up the Dogwood tree next to our fence. No sooner had I gotten my flashlight out and on him than he was already 15 feet over my head and still climbing. Suddenly, as Pepe kept on barking and growling wildly, I heard a swooshing sound to my left and thought maybe there were two intruders but then realized it must have been Mimi jumping over the fence into our neighbor's yard to position the intruder between herself and Pepe who was still on our side of the fence. I called out to Mimi to come, and she ran round, from the neighbor's yard, to the front side of our house and up to the side gate which I opened for her to come back inside. As I opened it though, Pepe ran outside at once.

I went after him without delay. I was not really concerned about the burglar. I had never seen one in our area before but it was treed and why should I worry about a medium yet good sized raccoon anyway. Pepe was nowhere to be seen and I called and called. He just took off like a bat out of hell once the gate had opened. Maybe by then, the raccoon had come down and headed the same way, I did not know. All of a sudden, I head someone down the block calling out in the darkness - "here he is" and I saw Pepe running back toward me. Jus as he was about up to me, he veered sharp right into our neighbor's lawn to head toward the backyard. Right then, I also heard a commotion in the backyard, I guess the bandit was making its escape in that direction. I had forgotten about Mimi and just kept calling Pepe. (Mimi jumps the fence with some frequency, Pepe has never run out of the yard like that on his own and I was much more concerned about him winding up getting thrashed by the coon than I would be for the larger Mimi.) Well, in a moment or two, Mimi came running over to me as I called for Pepe, and thankfully our little rat Chihuahua Pepe was right behind her. I opened the side gate and they were both back in our yard. I got them both inside right away, then accounted for Lucy, our other adult Chihuahua, and for Roxie our 65 pound mutt, they were still both inside. Actually, Roxie had come down and come out once she heard the commotion but by the time she was outside, I think the raccoon was gone so she lost interest right away and went back inside. Luckily the puppy A-B (said like Abby but meant as in "A-B Something" or "A-B Normal" for the brain that was used in the movie Young Frankenstein) was at my future son-in-law's place with his two Chihuahuas.

I have lived in this house for about 20 years now. I have seen a  lot of squirrels, a rabbit or three, a few Opossums and have seen damage done to one of the tops of my plastic garbage cans that I figured was from a raccoon (or rats) - but until tonight, I had never seen one of those masked critters in the flesh anywhere near our house. That was a bit of a treat and a bit of a scare with a minor pain in the butt trying to get both dogs back on the property but it was fun in the long run. Had I lived in most places, other than in the overpopulated part of NY in which we live, I might have blasted that masked bandit and would have been BBQ'ing or smoking it by tomorrow. Oh well, as it turned out, he lives to steal another night and I can go back to my book.

All the best,
Glenn B

Obama's Debate Notes (well maybe and maybe not but funny as hell)

Had me laughing my arse off ! Click to enlarge so you do not miss a thing. I don't know the author, could have been Obama himself, I suppose. Hat tip to Peter Q for this one.

All the best,
Glenn B

Which Is The Most Ignored Rule Of Firearms' Safety

My guess would be that most folks, who are familiar with firearms, would probably say that the most overlooked rule of firearms safety is the one about keeping your finger off of the trigger before being ready to shoot or maybe the one about keeping it pointed in a safe direction. Violation of the the nose picking finger rule might lead to the most accidental discharges (whether or not negligent on the part of the handler) and pointing a gun unsafely may be the most violated rule. Yet, my guess is that neither is near being the most overlooked rule of firearms safety, overlooked as in forgotten, ignored or simply unheard of in the first place. As a matter of opinion, based upon about 48 to 49 years of personal shooting experience, with me being an enthusiast who has shot frequently for 33 of those years, and with about 15 of those as a firearms instructor, I can say with nary a doubt in my mind that the most ignored rule of firearms safety is that most people do not bother to properly:

Whenever practical, you should learn the characteristics of a firearm and how to operate and shoot the gun safely before handling it. Then, once you have learned 'hands off', you need to learn 'hands on' how to use it and how it handles, at a firearms range, until you are proficient in its use. (my words)

Now, some of you may think that what I just said is not one of the rules of firearms safety. You may think there are only 4 rules of firearms safety and that they will prevent all accidental discharges and other safety violations (negligent or otherwise) and that you have to follow those 4 rules to the letter in absolutely every case of handling a firearm. If that is what you think, let me tell you that you are dead wrong on all counts. Firearms' safety is much more complicated than just 4 absolute, rules that simply and absolutely do not work as absolutes in the first place. 

Think about it. Knowing how a gun operates and being knowledgeable of its handling characteristics (in general), before handling it, is one of the most intelligent and important things you can do when it comes to firearms safety. How many times have you seen some pick up or accept a firearm from another person, that he or she has no idea how to operate properly. They try to do this or that with it, such as maybe open the action, remove a magazine, operate the safety (if there is one), load it, shoot it and all they wind up doing is violating one or more of the so called 4 rules because of them becoming flustered by their ignorance. Usually it is the one about keeping it pointed in a safe direction, followed by the booger picker on the trigger thing - just watch someone to whom you hand an unfamiliar gun that has a different operating characteristic than most other guns. Even if they do not violate one of the 4 rules, watch them as they try to figure out how the guns works. Most folks, who are fairly experienced with guns do not bother to ask: "is there any characteristic of this gun that makes it handle differently than most" or "hey, how do I operate it" or "can you show me how it works". Most will not bother to ask to look at the manual for it, most will just take it and start fiddling with it as they expect it to operate like any other gun they have handled before. When it doesn't is when things can get dicey and very unsafe.

I am not the only person in the world who thinks that learning the proper operation and handling characteristics of a firearm is an important safety rule. As a matter of fact, I earned at least 10 rules of firearms safety at the young age of 8 years old. Back then it was the job of firearms instructors to teach you them and the rules often were printed up in their manuals, the ones that came with new guns. The rules could also be found in books about shooting and were offered up for your knowledge at events like hunter safety courses. Today, many years since I was an 8 year old, many firearms related organizations and companies post firearms' safety rules on their websites; you will be hard pressed to find any of the major ones listing a mere 4 rules.

Here are the ways that some of those companies and organizations list the particular rule I have been writing about:

The NRA says it like this, on their website:

"Know how to use the gun safely. Before handling a gun, learn how it operates. Know its basic parts, how to safely open and close the action and remove any ammunition from the gun or magazine. Remember, a gun's mechanical safety device is never foolproof. Nothing can ever replace safe gun handling."

Remington Firearms lists a veritable litany of firearms safety rules in the manuals (PDF) for their firearms and on their website (make sure to click on each rule for a full explanation of each). They call them the 10 commandments of firearms safety, here is number 10:

"Learn the Mechanics and Handling Characteristics of Your Firearm. Not all guns are alike. They have different mechanical characteristics that dictate how you should carry and handle them. Anyone who plans to use a firearm should first become totally familiar with the type of firearm it is and the safe handling procedures for loading, unloading, carrying, shooting and storing it.
Before you even unpack your new Remington firearm, read this instruction book from cover to cover and familiarize yourself with the different component parts of the gun. Then read, understand and follow the Ten Commandments of Firearms Safety in this book."
Wow, did both of them actually say that you should become familiar with a firearm before you handle it. They sure did, didn't they! And so you should when possible, for the sake of being safe with firearms. Of course, like any rule, there are exceptions. You would not want to wait for instructions or take the time to read a manual in the event of an emergency wherein an unfamiliar firearm was available to you as your only method of self defense. In addition, there are those times when you might come int possession of a firearm for which you can not find a manual and for which you can not find, within reason, anyone willing to tell you how it works. You would have to learn yourself in each instance but in one their would be an immediate need to go hands on and in the other you could at least give the firearm a good looking over before attempting to operate any of its mechanisms.
I have a gun like the second that I just mentioned. It is a military training rifle in .22LR caliber. It didn't come with a manual. I made several attempted to locate a manual for it, by way of the company from which I purchased the rifle and via online inquiries on gun forums, commercial gun websites, gun auction sites and the like. I did not come up with anything, so I posted on a few forums that I could use some pointers on how it operates; nothing was forthcoming from those inquiries either. I have had the rifle now for about a year. Yes I have 'handled' it but I have not shot it. Not even put one round through it since I got it last November. Now that is not solely because I have not familiarized myself with it by way of operating instructions. It is also because I got it when I was pretty bad off due to cancer and I put it in a corner out of the way for future shooting fun.
Recently, I took it out and tried to figure it out. It certainly has one of the most different looking actions I have ever seen for a single shot rifle but I think I could handle and shoot it safely but that only after hours of  me trying to figure it out first. I should note that when I did handle it to examine it, I always made sure there was no ammunition available anywhere near the rifle, that it was pointed in a safe direction and that my finger was off of the trigger or any moving part unless  was certain I had it pointed in a safe direction. None of that necessarily means that if I take it to the range and try to fire it, I will do so without a mishap, as I am still not completely familiarized with the workings of the action of this rifle. Yet, based upon my experience with other guns, and upon my hours of examining this rifle, I will test it at the range someday soon. I will let you know, after my testing, how it went or in other words if it blew up or will continue to be a fun to shoot gun for years to come. Again, my guess is it will fire safely even though I did not familiarize myself with it by way of a manual, although not for lack of trying on my part. I figure, I am familiar enough with firearms that I have figured this one out properly enough and safely enough to take it to the range for a test firing but I have to admit I surely still would like to have the manual or other instructions giving me full knowledge of how to operate this rifle in a safe manner and as to how to disassemble and reassemble for maintenance.
As I said above, their are some exceptions to the rules and this  training rifle may just have to be one of them. That is if I ever intend to fire it. Of course, I will take every other reasonable safety precaution while doing so. As far as the great majority of firearms go though, I strongly recommend that you familiarize yourself with their mechanical and handling characteristics before you handle them. I do it myself whenever I can and that is almost always with very few exceptions. The best way to do that, if you can, would be by reading its manual and by having those characteristics explained to you by someone already  thoroughly familiar with that particular type of gun. In the absence of one, then do the other. Better safe than sorry especially since accidental discharges can have consequences that last forever.
All the best,
Glenn B

Death & Taxes

There are two sure things in life. One is getting closer and closer as each day goes by and the other keeps getting to be a larger and larger burden when each payment comes due. I just got my property tax bill, for the school tax portion of my property taxes, it has risen by $485.78 since last year. I cannot wait to see how much my general property tax will go up. Those are both just my 'town' property taxes, then there is the annual 'village'  property tax. I just paid that and think it too went up since last year.

It all almost makes me wish for death to hurry on up and get here to help put an end to high taxes. Just in case you think I am getting suicidal, allow me to assure you, I do not mean my death.

All the best,
Glenn B



All the best,
Glenn B