Archive for April, 2016

Layered For That Crunchy Taste

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

Not everyone has the means for fine dining, and not everyone can afford to have the fridge stuffed to bursting with fresh ingredients.  Sometimes you just have to make do.

Many has been the time when I placed a single slab of lunch meat between two slices of bread and chowed down.

bologna sandwich

Rather dull.  But there isn’t any cheese to be had at the moment, and there won’t be until the end of the week when I get paid.  No lettuce or fresh greens to lend a little texture to the soft blandness.  What to do?

Use those leftover potato chips, of course!

bologna sandwich with potato ships

Pile them on until the top bread slice is teetering precariously, and then push down to level out the structure.  This lends a great deal more flavor and texture to the bland and soft.  Crunch crunch, eat em’ up!

Don’t have potato chips, or crisps as our brothers and sisters in the UK and Ireland call them?  Then use any other snack crisp you can get your hands on.  Corn chips, tortilla chips, whatever.  Thin, crunchy, and salty is the order of the day.  When it comes to bland sandwiches, this is the spice of life!

McDonald’s has a Great Tastes of America menu that is available in the UK and Ireland.  They trot it out for six weeks every summer, and try new variations on the old favorites.  This year they offer something called the Tex-Mex Stack, and this is how a food writer describes the sandwich….

Another bloody weird one.

The Tex Mex Stack has two beef burgers, pepper jack cheese, spicy smoky sauce, CRISPY TORTILLA CHIPS, and a spicy bun. Whaaaa.

tex-mex-stack-mcdonalds

The author thinks chips on a sandwich is “bloody weird“???  What bizarro world did they come from?

Am I to understand that snack chips on sandwiches is unique to the United States?  That is something I simply cannot believe!

I wish they would offer the Tex Mex Stack here in Texas where I now reside.  The worthy residents of Ireland and the UK may find it to be shockingly odd to their palate, but it would fit right in with the residents of the Lone Star State.

Protecting Your Pets

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

I was working as a security guard back in the late 1980’s.

elderly security guard

The must-have high-tech gadget at the time, which every motorist lusted after, was the radar detector.

radar detector circa 1985

The various models retailed for a couple of hundred dollars in 1980’s money, the manufacturers kept trying to slim them down and make them ever smaller.  Handy enough to slip into a jacket pocket, it took but two or three seconds to smash a window and rip the device from atop the dashboard.  Many a driver had a sorrowful tale of woe to relate after they left their car ” … for just a few minutes …” as an errand was attended to.

smashed car window

I was working for a rather large regional bank at the time, and the powers-that-be had decreed that the guards were to be armed.  This wasn’t an issue for me, except for the fact that armed security guards were entitled to a bonus.  Hey, more money for the same work!

Except for one month, when we started to experience a rash of smash-and-grabs out in the remote sections of the parking lots.  The loot of choice was, you guessed it, radar detectors.

There was some discussion as to what to do if a guard should suddenly come across one of the brazen thieves.  I pointed out that the on-site manual clearly stated that the thief should be observed as long as they were on the property, while we used our walkie-talkies to summon the police.  And that was as far as our responsibility for our minimum wage plus a buck jobs were concerned.

But there was one hothead in the group, as there usually is.

“I’m gonna shoot him!  I’m not even gonna bother to chase him!  I’m just gonna shoot him!”

I asked if he was actually going to end the life of some person just for a $200 radar detector, and our erstwhile Rhodes scholar loudly declared that the thief would have it coming if they tried to run away, thus forcing Deadeye Dick to pick up the pace and break into anything faster that a slow walk.

fat security guard

“I’m no lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that’s murder.” I said.

All the other guards swiveled their heads to gaze upon Deadeye, but he didn’t have any further nuggets of wisdom to impart.  He just kept repeating that he was going to shoot if he got a radar detector thief in his sights.  Lucky thing that the thieves were a crafty bunch, and managed to conduct their foul work without encountering a guard.  We never did find out what the courts would do if some rent-a-cop killed a teenager over a dashboard toy.

Okay, so you can’t use lethal force to protect property.  But what about our beloved pets?

chris takes his ease

Long time readers know that I have a very profound emotional bond with my pets, and that I am willing to go to great lengths to protect them.  In fact, I bear some small yet permanent scars for trying to do that very thing.

james with a chewed up arm

Even so, I realize that animals are considered to be property under the law, and that lethal force is a no-no when it comes to protecting stuff as opposed to people.

There appears to be an exception, however.  It seems that my new home state of Texas has a provision where one can employ lethal force under very narrow conditions.  The primary condition seems to be that the theft has to take place during the nighttime hours, which is certainly food for thought.

Like I said, I am no lawyer.  I’m going to have to consult with a professional if I ever want the lowdown on things legal, which is exactly what anyone who is also untainted by a law degree should do when faced with such questions.

But I think I’m on pretty solid ground when I say that the default assumption should be that you don’t shoot if there is only stuff on the line.

 

 

Cooking Off

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Regular readers of my unworthy scribblings already know that I have moved from snowbound Ohio ….

snow cthulhu 1

… to Sun-blasted West Texas.

desert between Odessa and Pecos

I got here in the dead of winter, so it was actually very comfortable for me at the time.  But the seasons are turning, summer is coming, and the temperatures are on the rise.  In a month or so, I expect that the midday heat will top 110 Fahrenheit (44 Celsius).

Thinking on the coming warmening, a memory floated up from the depths.  A reader once asked me if it would be alright if he stored his defensive handgun in his car during the hot times.  Would his ammo, perchance, cook off inside the baked interior?

I first determined that the inside of a car can’t heat up much more than about 50 degrees F (26 degrees C) hotter than the outside temp.  After that equilibrium is reached, and the car is radiating energy at the same rate it is absorbing heat from the Sun.

So how hot are we talkin’?  Worst possible scenario sees the inside of a dark car with large windows reaching 200 F (94 C).

bursting thermometer

Plenty toasty!  But is that enough to cause your ammo to cook off?

I reached out to all of the major American ammunition manufacturers, and received prompt and kindly replies from all except Winchester.  They were in agreement that modern ammunition in good condition only starts to cook off when the temperature reached 500 F (260 C).  As long as one loads up with recently purchased ammo, and cycles it out every year or so for fresh, then there is almost no chance that there would be  problem.

Stable and reliable as modern ammo might be in extreme conditions, the same cannot be said of most surplus ammunition.  Rounds manufactured prior to the 1960’s might well be primed with mercury fulminate, a chemical compound which is more volatile than the stuff which is used nowadays.  Not only are cartridges primed with mercury fulminate known as being corrosive, since the residue will react with steel to cause rust to form, but they also degrade fairly quickly with the passage of time.  Even if such ammunition was properly stored since it was first shipped from the factory it could still have become sensitive to high temperatures, and so should not be left inside a hot car on a blistering summer day.

burning car

So there you have it.  Buy new factory ammunition for your defensive handgun, and replace the carry ammo with brand new every year or so.  But you should be doing that anyway, shouldn’t you?

As for the ammunition engineers at Winchester, I am still waiting for your reply!

Better Lawyer Up

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

It isn’t a secret that I am a strong advocate of legal armed self defense.  It is obviously the only way that the most vulnerable members of our society will be able to fend off violent criminal attack.

elderly-wheelchair-160x300

And, of course, those of us who have yet to reach that most vulnerable stage of our lives can use all the help we can get!

People of a similar conviction do what they can to prepare for that most terrible of situations, when lives are on the line and there is only the time between ticks of a second to act.  They do this by training for that moment, usually by going to the shooting range as often as possible.

practice at the range

If they have the money, they upgrade their gear to something that might just give them an edge against armed attackers.

standard glock 17

glock 17 tricked out with laser sight extended magazine threaded barrel

If they have even more money, and if they are smart, they attend firearm training available to civilians.

private civilian handgun training

These are nothing more than common sense precautions, but that pretty much seems to be about as far as most people are willing to go.  They get as ready as they can to protect themselves and other innocent lives, but then they just sort of stop thinking about it.  They want to continue living after a violent criminal attack, but they don’t consider what they have to do when the dust settle and the bullets stop flying.

What am I talking about?  What will someone who employs lethal force need when lethal force is no longer needed?

Well, just off the top of my head …

national association of criminal defense attorneys

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The Times, They Are A’Changin’!

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Steven has an interesting post on his blog, where he discusses how technology that is repurposed as weapons will bring about some unforeseen consequences.  His specific example is how the terrorist group ISIS claims to be assembling an air force out of radio controlled drones.  Not the military versions that have existed for years, but the small ones you can buy in convenience stores around where I live.

tom cruise movie obivion with cgi alien drone

Consider for a moment.  It is possible, though extremely unlikely, that drone technology and control software will become so sophisticated and cheap that people of moderate wealth could one day own swarms of drones in order to safeguard their own homes.  A few could fly aerial patrol overhead, switching off with fresh machines when the batteries are low and they have to go back to their charging stations.  If an anomaly is detected they could alert the homeowner, or even just call out the armed drones to attack.

synchronized drones

Reminds me of some libertarian science fiction I came across back in the 1980’s and 1990’s.