Friday, October 19, 2012

Another Friggin Hermann's Tortoise

A while back, my female Hermann's Tortoise laid 4 eggs in our yard, then a couple of weeks or so later she laid two more in her tank inside the house. Most were infertile which was not surprising since my male had been either abducted by scoundrels or borne off with by a raccoon or other creature of the night (maybe an opossum) quite sometime before she laid them. Thus, he was not around to - how shall I say it... I guess - to have wild chelonian sex with her in the sultry aura of a summertime afternoon under the sweltering hot sun (then again maybe they would do it in the shade). Well anyway, either he got to her before he was taken away from our yard or she retained sperm from the previous time she was gravid. Sperm retention happens in female snakes but I do not know if turtles or tortoises can do it. Out of 6 eggs, only two were fertile, and one may be weak and dying, so I am guessing it was because of sperm retention (which would quite possibly produce fewer fertile and or weaker eggs) as her previous clutches were fully fertile and those were induced, so to speak, while he was still in attendance of her.

Oh what the heck, one tortoise hatched out today and one other egg may still be viable but I doubt it.

No breeding in the near future - at least until I get a new male. One may be on the agenda for this weekend as there is an upcoming herp show here in my neck of the woods.

Later 4 U-All,

Third Piece of Good News I Heard Today

See previous two posts for good news 1 and good news 2 of today.

All the best (especially to you Mitt Romney),
Glenn B

Second Piece of Good News I Heard Today

Frak Obama! So say we all!

All the best (but not to you BHO),
Glenn B

First Good News I Heard Today

All the best (well, not to you Fidel),
Glenn B

Help Me Fight Cancer & Throw Myself a Retirement and Kicked Cancer's Arse Party At The Same Time

No, I am not asking for donations. I am hopeful that my readers will help me raise money to fight cancer but again, I am not asking you to donate. Here is the deal:

I have put my retirement watch up for auction on Ebay. It was given to me upon my retirement from my 32 plus years of government service in Federal Law Enforcement. What I am hoping is to do two things. First off, I want to donate 75% of the funds I get for the watch, divided evenly between Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (the folks who saved my life) and to the American Cancer Society. Then, I want to take 25% of the sale price, $100 up to $500, and throw myself a retirement / kicked cancer's arse party. (Note that if the sale price is less than $400 I will not keep any for a party and I will donate all of the proceeds, after Ebay and PayPal fees, to the the two named organizations - if the sale price is more than $2,000, I will keep only $500 for the party and donate the additional remaining funds along with the 75% to the two above named organizations.) 

As you may or may not be aware, I retired at the height of my misery during my cancer treatments last November. I never had a retirement party and sure would like to have one for which I can pick the date, time and bar and invite folks from work whom I liked, and me pay for it instead of having them pay for it. Maybe that is wishful thinking but so too is my plea to Donald Trump, et al, in my auction.

What I would hope you guys can do for me is spread the word. Put it on your Facebook account, tweet it on Twitter, list it on your blogs, let the world know about my auction. Especially tell any rich folks you know and if you don't know any then tell any reporters you know or even any groups you know of who might get there memberships together to chip in to make a bid. I am sheltered, I know neither and do not have a Twitter or Facebook account.

If you want to read about the watch and a brief history of my career and about my battle with cancer, go here to the auction at Ebay:

This may be a crazy idea, but if it works, who knows, maybe we will help defeat a dreaded disease and throw me a decent retirement / kicked cancer's arse party while we are at it. I am going to invite the high bidder to the party if there is one, even if it is only he or she and me for a few beers (at there own travel expense, of course, and remember Donald Trump is a local).

Thanks for any help you can give in getting the word about this auction out there. Who knows, maybe Donald Trump will hear about it and make a bid that out trumps them all!

All the best,
Glenn B

A 2 Shot Pistol For Self Defense - I Think Not!

I recently visited The Firearm Blog, where I read an article about the DoubleTap pistol production being halted. It seems that manufacture of this much anticipated pistol has been put on hold, not due to any fault in the pistol's design but due to problems with the manufacturing company reportedly being unable to get the job done. The DoubleTap is, as the name implies, a 2 shot pistol. Besides the round in each barrel, it also holds two rounds, in the grip, for a single full reload. It has a titanium frame, ported interchangeable barrels and it is slated to become available in both 9mm and .45 ACP. It is, as far as I see it, a new age, high tech, double barreled Derringer.

Seeing that article at The Firearm Blog got me to thinking - why would anyone want to carry a two shot pistol. While these little pistols look neat and as if they would be fun to shoot, I see major disadvantages with relying on a 2 shot pistol of any make or model for self-defense and I think there are better options available. In fact, I would rather be armed with a semi-automatic pistol in .22LR, like a Beretta 21A Bobcat, than a two shot 9mm or .45 Auto. Before you call me crazy and before you tell me what a great man-stopper is the .45 ACP and how inadequate is the .22LR, allow me to tell you why I would prefer such. Then, after I am done with that, let me offer some higher caliber alternatives than the .22LR - all that beat out a two shot pistol for self-defense in my estimation.  

First of all, think about why you want a 2 shot pistol. My guess would be that you want it as a last ditch back-up gun or as a very concealable self-defense piece. In each of those cases, self-defense is the issue. If you want one because it looks cool, or because it looks like fun, or because it is something different - that would be another issue and maybe this post will bore you to tears. If you want it for self-defense read on. Now think about self-defense. Preferably, you would be carrying around a rifle or shotgun as a primary self-defense weapon with a pistol as backup for that application. In most populated areas though, carrying a rifle is impractical and often illegal. So you choose a pistol. Maybe you have a need to have it be very concealable; you want something small. Could be it is a back-up for your regular handgun or it could be your only handgun although I would hope not. A 2 shot pistol possibly would seem to fit the bill nicely. Remember though, I said think about self-defense. So, think about the type of situations in which you may find yourself needing to defend yourself or family (or other innocents). Then consider whether two shots would be the best way to face your assailants in those situations. Think about that not only if your 2 shot would be your primary handgun but also if it was a back-up, since once you have to go for the back-up you are drawing your then primary but albeit two shot gun. Really – take a few moments at least, maybe even minutes, to think about a bad situation in which you may need to defend yourself and you having only a 2 shot pistol or a 2 shot as a back-up and you need that back-up now! 

What have you come up with in your thoughts? Did you realize that a 2 shot pistol would be woefully inadequate in many, maybe even most, situations in which you may be confronted by armed criminals who are ready, willing and able to do serious harm to you or your loved ones? Most criminals do not act alone. They usually have accomplices or so my Law Enforcement training and experience had always taught me. Even my off duty experience taught me likewise when I was assailed by two armed robbers one night long ago. I have been the target of criminals several times - both while on the job and while on the job and almost every time I was targeted by multiple bad guys. Such instances, before I carried a firearm included having a knife held to my throat during what amounted to a riot in a subway car, once having a crazed junkie attack me with a knife, twice being followed by thugs who obviously were thinking of robbing me (no I am not a mind reader but could read the signs they gave). After I started carrying a gun on the job, the amount of encounters I had with evil doers intent on harming me rose markedly, that was a hazard of that type of work. These incidents included: an illegal alien grabbing (but not getting) my pistol and trying to shoot me with it (but leaving a bite scar on my left bicep), a group of at least a half dozen illegal aliens beating me while helping a prisoner escape my custody, with one trying to disarm me and one calling for at least 20 to 30 others to beat me to death (I am still here but suffered bruises and a fractured sternum at the time), two dirtbags attempting to mug me in an armed encounter, and Heaven knows how many encounters of teams of bad guys who were armed or who resisted during raids and other such operations. By now I guess you have noted that almost every time, there were multiple assailants and in the instances where there was only one, the situation was such that I might not have been able to have assured the best accuracy had I needed to fire my weapon. Indeed, I fired in at least a couple of those situations. Once as a warning shot (never will do that again) and once I hit the bad guy. Granted, I only fired two shots in that particular encounter but had they not fled the scene, I would definitely have needed more. I know of too many others who have been involved in incident where they had to shoot in self defense and they had to fire many more than two shots. So, while I am very willing to bet my bottom dollar that the majority of cases in which you may need to defend yourself against bad guys will involve more than one criminal, I am not willing to bet that I or you would be so lucky as to need only one or two shots (in the gun) in any such an encounter. I certainly would not want to face down multiple assailants with only two rounds in my gun and then find out I needed more when it was too late. Thus the reason I would prefer 8 rounds of .22LR over only two of 9mm or .45 Auto or any other caliber. If that is not enough reason for you to realize that a 2 shot pistol is lacking, then allow me to give a few more reasons why I think that way.  

Beside the facts that criminals usually work in groups of two or more and often target lone individuals, putting their victims at a tactical disadvantage, there are other reasons to prefer an 8 shot small caliber pistol over a two shot large caliber pistol? Indeed there are several! I will cover a few of them here to give you an idea. To begin with, let's think about you at the time of an armed encounter with a bad guy or three. What is your condition likely to be and how would that effect whether or not you would be better armed with a 2 shot .45 or an 8 shot 22LR pistol (or something else I will discuss later on)? Chances are that the criminals will have targeted you for a variety of reasons. The reasons could be valid or invalid, you may seem weak or tired or inattentive or otherwise an easy mark but you can rest assured that in the great majority of cases you were not merely picked at random. Criminals usually look you over first, they do what you should do, they assess the situation, before trying to rob you or assault you. Be it you out for a late night walk all alone, or it being late at night and all your house lights out, no dogs barking, all quiet when they approach, or the factors of your age, your apparent physical condition, if you just used an ATM or came out of a bank, you seem lost, you are inebriated - the bad guys are opportunists. They look for opportunity that gives them an advantage. Maybe you have thought of having the upper hand too and you wisely went out, armed yourself and learned how to shoot and defend yourself in a bad situation. The surprise, you may think, will be the bad guys instead of on you.

Regardless of the scenario, in the majority of cases you will be somewhat surprised if a criminal attacks you or threatens you with violence. Even if not surprised, even if you saw it coming for a week, certain physical things will take place that will change how you react in such an instance once it begins. If you are fairly normal condition: your heart will beat faster, adrenalin will be pumped into your system, your breathing rate will increase, you will tense up, you may tremble, you will be afraid, your mind will race making events seem to slow down, your hearing may become impaired, you may (in fact likely will) develop tunnel vision even if only briefly, you may begin to perspire profusely, and you may get dizzy or lightheaded as your blood pressure changes and as adrenalin floods your system. That is just with you realizing that a bad guy is coming at you with the intent to harm you. Imagine what happens when he starts shooting. All of the above to a higher degree plus maybe some other things like loss of control of bodily functions. The pucker factor may come into play, the muscles controlling your bladder or sphincter may simply fail to pucker. (Yes, I mean you may wet or dirty your draws or both.) You also may start to cry, hallucinate and see the weapon in the thugs hands turn into something benign (this happened to me, once, but that was too many times). Remember too, the fight or flight reaction. It really is not that simple. I see it as the fight or flight or freeze or comply reaction in such an encounter. You may comply and give in to the demands of the bad guys and essentially be at their mercy (if they have any), or freeze in fear like a deer in the headlights and again put yourself at their mercy, or you may run away and hopefully escape if you are faster than the bad guys (but what about your ten year old daughter who was by your side), or you may engage in combat in an attempt to protect yourself and hopefully come out the winner.

If you decide to do the latter, to engage your assailant(s) and fight back - would you really be willing to do so with a 2 shot gun. Not me, not if I had had the opportunity to better arm myself before such a confrontation. That goes for my primary pistol as well as for my back-up. I see no reason to give the bad guys any advantage, especially the benefit of me not having enough ammo to engage more than one or two of them before needing to reload. Add to that the fact that you may well be suffering from all of the above physical reactions and now think about how well you would be able to shoot at multiple attackers, or even one, while your mind and body are in that state. Being al hyped up on adrenalin, trembling with fear or rage or maybe just from the adrenalin, knowing your life or your loved ones’ lives depend on what you do next, these are not what you are subjected to while you shoot at the range , are they? Are those mere two rounds of man-stopper .45 ACP, or any caliber, still sounding like sufficient firepower to you? Maybe those 8 rounds of .22LR suddenly begin to have a certain allure? 

Does the little 22LR really have an advantage in such a situation? Well, for sheer number of rounds in the gun, over a two shot pistol- the answer is yes. I, or you, potentially could double-tap four bad guys, or could shoot two bad guys four times each, before needing to reload. As for the power of the rounds, they certainly lack what a .45 has to offer but they offer many more shots with the potential for more well placed shots being in the group and that may give you a much greater lifesaving advantage. Yes, I said better placed multiple shots after I just talked about all those physical effect that may throw off your accuracy. Here we go again, let’s use our little gray cells. Think about it before reading on. Really, take a minute or two and think about what I am getting at. 

What did you come up with? Here is what I think: Even with only two assailants, I think you would be better off with the eight round 22 pistol than the two shot 45. Have you ever tried to shoot immediately after even a brief run of maybe 100 yards, or after doing some other physical exertion that gets your heart beat up and you breathing just a bit heavily? Try it sometime (do not do this if you are in poor health without first consulting with a doctor as to what type of activity you can do). Go to the range. Ask permission to do the following: Stand behind the line, a good distance from it so as not to disturb other shooters and do 15 pushups, or as many as you can in a half a minute or minute (make sure you exert yourself enough to get your heart and breathing rates sped up a bit). Then immediately walk to the line, pick up your pistol and shoot at multiple targets (make sure the line is hot and not in a state of a ‘cease fire’ and that no one is down range and that you are at the firing line before even touching your pistol). Then shoot at your target set at 7 yards. If you can, shoot at moving multiple targets. Did I forget to mention above that bad guys often move when they see you pointing a gun at them; it is rare for them to pose for a shot as they would for a Kodak moment (Google it if you do not understand it). You may also want to shoot as you move (if allowed on your range) and shoot from both behind cover and while in the open and from many different positions. Try the man down position if your range allows it (you on the ground as if wounded since you may not be so lucky as to get off the first shot and may be hurt badly by the time you finally realize what is happening). See how accurate you are as opposed to say just going to shoot at the range, and shooting from the bench or the line, without having done any of what I just mentioned. Chances are great that your accuracy will suffer somewhat if you try this.

Which way will it likely happen on the street? Yes, you may have an armed encounter someday, when you are just standing there and a bad guy walks right up in front of you, say 7 yards away and he stops, stands there, pulls out a gun and tries to rob you and you stand there, assume a shooting position while you draw your pistol and then you get off the first shot, stop him with that one shot, and come out of it unscathed– but I tend to doubt it. So, while you can train and arm yourself with a 2 shot pistol for that last scenario – the one like you were shooting a paper target at the range - I will keep on training and arming myself as if I were preparing for a wide variety of situations that might take place, some more likely than others, in which I would be much better prepared for any of them if I had a pistol with more than 2 shots. I know that conditions may have the bad guy or me moving, I know that there may or may not be cover, I realize I may be surprised, I know that I may be shot before I even know what is happening or have time to act, I know there may be multiple bad guys, I know I am going to be thinking at the speed of lightning or faster and will have thoughts like holy moly these guys are really trying to kill me, I know I may tremble with fear, I know I may be scared, I realize I know that there may actually be a warm wet feeling down my pants, and I know all of that can affect how I shoot and therefore I would prefer more rounds than two, even if only in .22LR and even if there was only a sole attacker let alone multiple assailants.

Still not convinced that a pistol with 8 shots of .22LR, and a spare magazine or two fully loaded (don’t ever forget to carry at least one full reload) can be better to carry than a larger caliber pistol with only two shots loaded and two in reserve, then let me mention a couple of other things. Accuracy may also suffer due to physical characteristics of your firearm and how those characteristics affect your shooting ability. This would likely be on subsequent shots, after the initial one, due to the fact you may be shooting a very small framed but large caliber pistol like a 45 Derringer and the recoil makes firing this gun less controllable for follow-up shots. That recoil, in such a small pistol, will almost assuredly affect your grip after each shot. If your grip is affected, it could affect your accuracy in a negative way. A round with less recoil is much easier to get back on target for follow up shots - especially in a very small framed pistol with small grips. Thus you are more likely to have better placed follow-up hits on target with a smaller caliber than with the much larger round in a similarly sized small gun. 

The last thing that I will cover are reloads. I just mentioned above, you should always make sure you have at least one full reload available for your handgun. Okay, use those little gray cells again and give that a bit of thought. Would you be better off with 7 rounds to reload (an 8 shot semi-auto pistol would have a magazine with 7 round capacity considering the 8th round would be in the chamber) and a two shot pistol would have two shots available. Which could you reload more quickly? Think about reloading the two shot 45. You probably would do it by grabbing one bullet at a time and placing them into each barrel. If you had some decent small amount of training, you would grab both bullets at once and place both into the barrels simultaneously. Seems easy, try it under even moderate stress. Then try to reload the semi-automatic pistol with a magazine containing a full complement of rounds. That would be seven rounds in the 22 auto I have been using as an example. If you were the average shooter, you could reload and have another 7 round in your pistol, ready to shoot, as fast as or likely faster than you could reload two rounds into that 45 caliber two shot pistol. Thus you could reassess the situation, reacquire the target (if you lost sight of it while reloading) and fire again if need be faster with the 8 round semi-auto pistol. Remember - multiple assailants, remember accuracy maybe not quite good enough for a mere two shots, remember the pucker factor may have failed you and your pants are drooping, and remember you want to hit each assailant multiple times, if need be, to get them to stop being a threat of serious bodily injury or to your life. Sure that 45 is supposedly a one shot man-stopper - just tell that to the third or fourth or fifth bad guy when you have a 2 shot gun. 

So you are not convinced yet that an 8 shot semi-automatic pistol in .22LR would be a better choice than a two shot 45 pistol. Okay, I'll grant you that a .22LR round is much less powerful than a 45 Auto. (Please note, if you have not figured it out yet, this is not a 45 Auto versus any other caliber round debate, this is a post about the merits of a magazine fed small semi-auto compared to a large caliber 2 shot pistol.) So what other options are there when a very small pistol is what you need. Why not consider something in .32 Auto, .380 ACP or even in 9mm. There are many small pistols in those larger calibers on the market today. Some are right around the same size as a .45 ACP caliber 2 shot pistol and hold more 3 to 4 times as much ammunition when loaded. They would all be worth serious consideration as primary or back-up handguns, for all the same reasons as would be a pistol chambered in .22LR, plus they are larger and more powerful than the .22LR. So, if your overwhelming need is for a very compact pistol for self-defense and you were considering, or currently carry, a 2 shot pistol of any caliber for that purpose, why not reconsider and think about getting yourself a high quality, small framed, semi-automatic pistol. It may tilt the odds in your favor someday and have you coming out as the winner in a gunfight as opposed to you running out of ammo and being carried out in a body bag. 

The bottom line for me: I may someday get myself a two shot pistol for shooting fun but I am not about to carry one in any caliber, as either a primary or backup piece when something that I think is better is available to me.

All the best,
Glenn B