Saturday, November 28, 2009

Concealed Carry Considerations...

Certain issues are rarely discussed. I notice when I read books, and I read a great deal, or watch TV, which I also seem to do a great deal, certain things are never covered. To whit, bodily functions. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but it's fairly rare that your read a novel, watch a movie or television program(aside from a crude comedy) where they mention the main characters sitting on the john. So here's a question, possibly taboo, that deals with an issue that anyone who carries a weapon, concealed or not, has probably dealt with, or if they haven't, should give it some serious thought.

What do you do with your carry piece, when you're on the crapper?

I ask this, because I see a lot of holsters designed for concealed carry, that are not retention holsters, and rely strictly on friction to keep a revolver or pistol in place. Most all duty holsters these days have some sort of positive retention device, that requires an action to be accomplished before the gun will be released from the holster. Be it a simple thumb snap on a Level 1, or the litany of digital gymnastics required to get into some of the highest level retention holsters, something actively holds the weapon in place. Of course, that's just duty holsters for people in uniform. I've seen plainclothes folk who don't use retention holsters. I've also seen duty weapons go skittering across a tiled floor when some one was in a rush to get down to business.

After the first time I saw that, I made sure that the holsters I used for carry off-duty, had some sort of retention. At minimum, the ever popular thumb break. Now, with the way they're making things out of Kydex and what not, I've seen, and even own one, those holsters that are form shaped so that the trigger guard snaps into a detent inside the holster, and requires either a hearty pull, or a thumb pushing down on the inner edge of the holster as you draw to get the detent to release the weapon.

I generally use a retention holster, affixed to a paddle. That way, it's easy on and off, without doing the jiggle dance trying to get it on my belt, and the belt through the loops behind my hip and then in front, etc., etc.. It also makes it easy to use the same holster for field duty, office duty, court duty, extraditions, etc., because I don't have to worry about whether the belt will hold up the holster without rolling, as the paddle slips inside my waistline. This set-up, also works effectively for the aforementioned pit stops.

Granted, things are different when you're at home, but let's face the facts, it's when you're out in the field, forced to grab something quick from a questionable establishment(Snowman's reference to a Choke N' Puke in the movie Smokey and the Bandit comes to mind), that you're going to have to hit the crapper, possibly urgently, in an unfamiliar setting. So what are you going to do with that weapon when the time comes?

I generally try to avail myself of a Handicapped stall. I'm guessing Handicapped isn't the appropriately PC term anymore, but I figure you'll understand what I mean. They generally have a handrail on at least one side, if not both sides of the stall. I've found that a holster with a paddle snugs right down into the gap between the rail and the wall quite nicely, and is secure. Not that I expect to be assaulted when in the crapper, but it'd be hell to be sitting there, and see an arm come over the top of the stall door, and snag that duty belt, rig and all, and lift it off the hook on the back of the door, and not really be in a position to hop up and do anything about it. I've also noticed, usually on uniform guys, that weapon flopping loose as pants and duty belt are around the ankles. If someone knew the trick to getting a weapon out of a particular holster, all it would take would be reaching down and grabbing it. By the time the 'sitter' realized what was happening, it would be too late.

So, what do you do with your piece when you're sitting on the porcelain throne, in an unfamiliar setting? If you haven't thought about it, you should, as the situation is bound to arise, sooner or later. Probably sooner if you eat a lot of low-end food prepared and served by folks that are probably my regulars :p

Take care all,


Friday, November 20, 2009

Work is affecting my vision....

Not that I need glasses or anything, but I've come to realize that my work has definitely colored how I look at the world around me, and those within it.

I came to this realization, after an incident that occurred while eating lunch in our break room the other day. One of the other agents brought some magazines in and left them in the break room. I don't recall the title, but it seems to be a magazine geared towards women, and especially mothers who are home makers. At least, that's how it seems to me, I could be way off base as to their target audience. Anyway, there was an article written in it, and the woman writing it was talking about how whenever she got ready to take her kids out, she always thought about how dangerous it is outside the home. I'm thinking that's probably something that's good to be aware of. Then I read the next sentence, where she listed the dangers that concern her and make her nervous about taking her kids out. Germy door handles, car exhaust fumes, dog poo in the park,and ultra-violet radiation.

I was stunned. I pointed it out to my fellow brown bagger, Goose, and he expressed sentiments similar to my own. I'm thinking car need to be worried about the tweaking meth-head on the corner with the rusty steak knife in his waist band. Dog poo in the park..what about the sex offender sitting on the bench off by himself who's nervous tic indicates he's ready to re-offend. UV rays...what about the nice looking young guy walking along the side-walk who actually crazy, off his meds, and the shallow breathing indicates he's about a hair away from losing it.

The list goes on and on. My wife thinks I'm being dramatic when I see a car stop on the road in front of our house, slowly back up twenty feet, pull forward again, and go back and forth several more times, and I step to the door with a gun in hand as I peer out to see what's going on. It occurs to me, that she knows about the guy who lives four doors down from us that is under supervision because he killed someone(because I told her about it so she would be aware), but I don't tell her most of the rest of it. She doesn't know about the guy who lives less than a mile from our house(which is pretty close out here in the sticks) that's a convicted child molester. She doesn't know about the red-necked dirt bag that cooks methamphetamine less than 4 miles from our house, who I'm assisting the Feds to build a case against. She doesn't know that one of the guys who I sent to prison for 8 years, has family three miles down the road from us, who know where I live, because they happened to drive by one day while I was working in the yard. She doesn't know any of the hundreds of disgusting things I know about the people living within a 10 or 15 mile radius of our home.

I deal with the dregs of society every day, and I know not only what people are capable of, but how many of them there are in my area. I also know, that living out in the sticks, there's one Deputy on duty in my area most times of the day or night. If I were to get really lucky with a 9-1-1 call, he might be only 5 or 6 minutes away, and any further back up, at least half again that time. He's a decent guy, and a good cop, but he can't be everywhere at once. That's why I approach anything suspicious with a gun in hand. As a Boy Scout, many, many years ago, I learned the old maxim, "It's better to have something and not need it, than to need it, and not have it." This goes doubly for a means of protection, when you don't know if the guy slowing down at your mailbox is just lost, or looking for a victim.

My wife thinks it's drama, I think it's caution, but it does occur to me, that a few years ago, before I started this job, I might have just walked up there to see what was going on with the people in that car. Now, I only go to the door and observe, with gun in hand, until the car leaves, or I figure out what's going on and can make a further decision as to what to do.

So while maybe not everyone is a criminal, with nefarious thoughts or plans, I tend to look at most people I don't know, as potential criminals, and assess from there. Definitely a change brought on by the job. Not sure if I should try to do anything about it, or if I even want to. Better to be too cautious, then not enough.....

Take care all, and stay safe...


Monday, November 16, 2009


Not your normal earwig of a popular song, but one from being a parent. I have the theme song from Dinosaur Train stuck in my head. You can get a listen here, if you're interested. It's a PBS show, which basically teaches kids about dinosaurs, and life, all at the same time.

I have to admit, between a questionable guy, in a purple dinosaur suit, singing about free love, and an animated baby Tarandon, singing a song about how everybody poops, I'll take the poop every time :)

Heck, if there have to be kid shows on the TV on Saturday mornings, it may as well be ones that I can enjoy too :) And the tunes are catchy too :)


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Wierdness in the air last night....


Men In Black and their Nifty Toys....

Hehe, so last night, I step out for a smoke. I wander out into the driveway and am gazing up at the stars in a clear sky, when I hear a bit of rotor thump. Now, I'm no expert when it comes to flying machines. I'm not one of those who can sit around drinking a cup of coffee, hear the tiniest bit of engine noise in the air, and be able to identify what it is, how fast it's moving, and what direction it's going.

I did, however, grow up on and around small airfields. My grandfather was a pilot, and had a small, grass strip runway, so I've been around small craft most of my life, and am familiar with how they move, etc.

Anyway, I hear this bit of rotor thump from a helicopter, look around, and catch sight of an aircraft off to my north. I assume it was a helicopter, or rotary-winged aircraft for you sticklers, mainly because of the rotor thump I heard. It being pretty dark outside, what with it being night and all, I couldn't get a silhouette to look at and identify. The first thing I noticed that was odd, was that it had a red light on the nose, with an amber/orange blinking light flashing underneath and to the rear. I don't know what configuration of lights aircraft are supposed to run, but I don't recall ever seeing solid red and flashing orange on an aircraft as a kid.

The second thing that struck me as being odd, and this was really odd, was that as I was watching it fly almost due South towards me, I suddenly stopped hearing the rotor thump. I listened for a moment, and realized that I could hear, faintly, an engine running, but could no longer hear the thump of the rotors. Me being a fairly curious guy, I decided I'd watch this thing to see what else was going to happen.

So I watch this craft come towards me, closer and closer. I notice that it's fairly high up in the air. Most of the time when I see helicopters flying over the mountains, they're normally only clearing the mountains by a couple of hundred feet or so. This one last night was easily over eight hundred feet up, and probably closer to a thousand feet up. Now, that could be strictly because of the darkness and not taking chances, but I noticed it, so thought I'd mention it as well. So I watch this thing, heading towards the mountain I live on, hearing the engine noise get slowly clearer and more distinct, much as you can hear a car better the closer it gets.

As it gets closer to the mountain, probably a mile or less North of my position, it suddenly bears off to the West, and does a little curly-cue maneuver at about the spot where it looks like it would be over a small university ball field that's a few miles from my house. The little maneuver takes a few seconds, then this thing starts bee-lining due East from that position. I stand there watching it go across the sky North of my position, and suddenly realize that the lights have changed on it. It no longer has a steady red and flashing orange, but now has a steady green on the nose, and flashing white underneath. It retains this light scheme for the remainder of the time I can see it.

It heads East for a couple of miles maybe, and starts swinging back South, at about the point that it would start crossing over a nearby rural highway. As it starts swinging South, it looks like the southern movement, is just part of an arc described as they're moving West. This time, I'm looking at it as it moves South of my house, and it comes to a stop, hovering, about where I'd guesstimate it to be above a local, community ball field.

Interestingly enough, as it's hovers for a few seconds, I suddenly hear a half dozen or so rotor thumps, which disappear again, as the aircraft starts heading due North again. It passes maybe half a hundred yards West of my position, and of course, way on up, so I can only ever see the lights, and hear the hum of the engine. I continues to watch it as it headed North, until I lost it over the crest of the next mountain. This whole observation lasted probably ten minutes, or less.

I have to admit, that it was a fairly odd experience. I've never seen anything like it. As I mentioned, I'm no expert, but have we got helicopters in the air that somehow can silence their rotor thump, but not their engine noise? If so, could someone point me in the right direction to learn a bit about them?

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Name that book!

I'm reading a trilogy of books right now, The Fionavar Tapestry(hmm, can't figure out how to underline...oh well), by Guy Gavriel Kay. I'm reading them because a friend gifted me with them saying that I might like them, as they are about a group of college students that get magically transported to a fantasy land.

I immediately jumped on the offer, as I flashed back to a book I read as a young lad, lo these many years ago. Alas, these books do not contain the story a read mumblety-years ago. I'm about halfway through the first one, and while it is intriguing, I keep getting distracted trying to remember the story I read so long ago.

So I thought I'd throw it out on the net, on the off chance that someone that stops by here might have read that story, and can tell me what the name was, so that I can track down a copy of it for myself.

What I remember of it is only vague, and a little sketchy. It would have been early, early 1980s, not too terribly long after D&D made it's appearance, and grabbed the imaginations of kids(of all ages) like a bear trap. I seem to remember that the premise was that of a group of college age students, who got together fairly regular for a fantasy gaming group, run by someone a little older than themselves, possibly a professor type. The DM somehow figured out a way to transport the group into the D&D-type game they were playing, with the members of the group becoming the characters that they played. Two things stand out in my, admittedly hazy, memory. One, the DM gathered various sundries that would approximate the gear their characters would use, and stored it in wooden trunks, one for each player/character, to be transported with them. Secondly, and possibly most identifying to someone who has read the story, I recall that the player who played a thief-type character, was greatly into the role-playing aspect of the game. Consequently, the character he played had only one hand, or maybe it was one eye, I don't recall exactly which, but I do know the player was initially horrified after the transfer, to find himself so handicapped when he became his character.

Does any of that ring any bells with anyone? I've read so much fantasy since then, that I've totally lost anything else that might have been specific to that book, but I do remember liking it at the time. Of course, it could be absolute crap writing, but to a mumblety-teen year old boy it was amazing, and got me to branch out from reading almost exclusively westerns, to almost exclusively Fantasy/Sci-Fi genre.

If anyone had the faintest idea of what that might be, please, please, please let me know, so I can kill this niggle-worm, and track down a copy of the book for myself :)