Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Sunday, October 15, 2017
As most readers of this blog know, I have slowed down in the shooting competition department the past few years. I'm still doing local club matches, but the big travel matches - especially 3-Gun - have gone away for me. I have kids in college now, and I'm putting money away for a looming retirement, so I'm just not "on the road" as much as I used to be.
At first, I kind of resented staying home, and I felt left out quite often. But now, I've discovered that I actually LIKE staying home. I'm empty-nesting, and I've suddenly got more time to putter around and play with things that I've always wanted to try.
For instance, I haven't bought a loaf of store bread for almost four months - because I learned how to bake homemade bread in a Dutch oven. I'm playing around with a LOT more home cooking as a matter of fact. There were a few recipes that I have done from scratch in the past (like soup), but almost everything else used to be assembled from a box, can or freezer. When the kids were small, I was working full-time, and then later going to med school. If I couldn't have dinner on the table in 20 minutes - forget it - because if it took longer than that, everyone would have snacked so much that they didn't want supper anymore.
But now, I've started a little window herb garden. I'm playing with making my own pesto with fresh basil from my window shelf. I'm making mint extract from the mint plant in that same window. I'm looking at recipes for using lemon thyme, which is also in the window. I've made rosemary-infused olive oil, and am working on lavender-infused oil as well. I'm cooking so much that I'm able to freeze multiple small servings, so I'm carrying my lunch to work now, and trying to stay away from fast food. It's a rather satisfying way to spend my time.
One of the most satisfying things this year so far has been when I discovered that a crabapple tree that I planted in my front yard with my own hands almost 20 years ago has started bearing not only crabapples, but also regular apples (apparently from the root graft). The tree bore so much, that I was able to bake two apple pies from scratch, and also make a small batch of apple/crabapple butter, which I learned to home can. That experience was VERY gratifying. I felt a sort of kinship with my foremothers who had to grow what they ate, cook it from scratch, and preserve it for the winter. It gave me a new appreciation for how much work was involved in simply ensuring that one's family was fed.
I'm never going to be a farmer or a gourmet cook - I'm simply too lazy for that. But I'm doing a few things to give me the "feel". I'm already planning to try a small container veggie garden next year. My backyard soil is mostly clay, and building a raised bed garden sounds like too much permanent work for a mere experiment. But I hear that Rubbermaid tubs work really well. This meshes into my goal of expanding my palate in regard to veggies. I have never been a huge vegetable fan, and I eat them more out of sense of nutritional obligation that true enjoyment. But I'm hoping that if I grow a select few, then it will give me incentive to actually eat them. If I'm lucky, maybe I can even bag some wild game to go with them. We'll see - famous last words LOL.
So, staying home more often hasn't really been a "punishment" at all. I'm finding lots of new things to learn, and ways to entertain myself, rather than just filling time. I'm starting to look forward to my weekends home alone. Just this morning, while attempting to dry beef jerky in my oven, I caught myself standing at my kitchen window, smelling the breeze. The scent of fallen leaves and moist earth, mixed with the smell of spicy meat coming from the oven, was very ... satisfying. I felt the morning sun on my face, and I was just ... in my happy place.
Saturday, October 7, 2017
Fair Warning, that I will be wearing my Cranky Old Broad Hat today. The easily feather-ruffled should probably go read something else this time.
With readers thus warned, I will begin this post with a declarative statement:
EVERY trigger pull should be a mindful, deliberate action, not just a thoughtless gesture in the general direction of the backstop simply because it's part of the routine.
This is not my original thought-provoking idea. I first read about this concept from Kathy Jackson of the Cornered Cat. https://www.corneredcat.com/
I tried and failed to find the original article reference, but as I recall, this was the gist. It changed the entire way I think about safe unloading protocols.
This concept was brought back to my mind recently when I saw that someone I follow online had learned the "flip and catch" maneuver when unloading a semiauto pistol. It wasn't "just" the maneuver that bothered me, but the fact that the routine included a failure to check the chamber before doing the reflexive trigger pull. When I brought my concerns to the fore in my unfortunately typically tactless way, I was casually dismissed with the claim that the magazine was out, the round was out and the trigger was pulled, how much more safety did I want?
Since this person didn't ask "why" I felt this maneuver was unsafe, I didn't have the opportunity to explain that because the shooter failed to check the chamber, that he was essentially using a thoughtlessly reflexive trigger pull to "prove" that that gun truly was unloaded. If the chamber was unchecked, even if a round was flipped and caught, how does the shooter KNOW that there wasn't perhaps a weird double-feed after their last shot, and an additional round still in the gun? Think hard about that for a second. Do any of us REALLY want a random and cavalier trigger pull to be our "proof" and insurance against injury, death, or property damage?
For those of us whose only training has been on the competition range, this trigger pull is a regular habit, which is required as part of the unloading routine, under the direction of a Safety Officer. The Safety Officer directs you to drop the magazine, and then he or she inspects your chamber to be sure it is empty. He or she then directs you to "drop the hammer" or pull the trigger while pointed at the backstop as final verification that the firearm is truly empty. The problem with that is, that the trigger pull has become a mindless reflex, rather than a deliberate, final "test", done carefully aimed at the backstop, in case all of the previous unloading checks have failed.
Before you dismiss me as a Nervous Nelly or Nagging Mother, allow me to explain why I feel so strongly about this particular issue. A few years ago, I was forced into the role of first responder, when someone's cavalier trigger pull on an unchecked chamber caused a negligent discharge twelve feet down the line from me. That person pulled the trigger while dropping the hand downwards toward reholstering and put a 9mm round into their own foot. Thank God it was a distal extremity with no arterial hit. But, I had to scrub someone else's blood out from underneath my fingernails after the ambulance left, because I had nothing initially but my bare hands and a sock to keep their bleeding under control. (I now carry a small trauma kit, including gloves, in my range bag) There is nothing like scrubbing someone else's blood off oneself (and the HIV testing afterwards) to provide a good hard reality check. Things like this CAN happen, and they DO happen, because human beings get careless and cavalier with unloading safety protocols. I do NOT want to have to do that EVER again. Are we clear on my motives and strong language now?
To understand why I feel that last trigger pull step should be undertaken with grave seriousness, let us review not only the Four Rules of Firearm Safety, but WHY each one is important. Those Four Rules build up several "layers" of safety, so that if you fail to abide by one, hopefully the other Rules will still prevent a tragedy.
- Treat every firearm as if it is loaded. - Would you randomly wave a LOADED firearm in the vague direction of the backstop and then pull the trigger? If you would not, then why are you doing it at the end of your course of fire? If we truly always treated every firearm as if it were loaded, we would never see videos of people pulling a trigger with the muzzle against their palm, or blowing the plaster off their living room ceiling. People do these things because they "think" the gun is unloaded. They only learn that they are mistaken when disaster strikes. If we truly treat every gun as if it were loaded, none of these "accidents" ( read: negligent discharges) would occur.
- Never point a firearm at something that you are not prepared to destroy. - The backstop is where your muzzle should be pointed. Not at the ground 2 feet in front of you, not at the sky, not at your feet, legs, someone else, etc. This rule helps insulate against disaster in case Rule 1 is ignored. Even if there is an ND, at least no one gets hurt and no property is damaged. Doing a "flip and catch" runs the risk that you will be distracted with catching the round, and allow your firearm muzzle to wander.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you are ready to fire. - Unless you are performing a deliberate and aimed trigger pull, your finger should be off the trigger. This rule helps insulate against disaster in case BOTH Rules 1 and 2 are ignored. You may have a loaded gun that you "think" is UNloaded and you are treating it negligently by waving it around the room, but if your finger stays off the trigger, hopefully no one will get hurt. When you are performing that random careless trigger pull at the end of your stage, are your sights on any target anywhere? If not, then aren't you violating Rule 3?
- Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it. - Is a random trigger pull waved in the general direction of the backstop considered "Being sure of your target"? If not, why are you doing it at the end of your course of fire? This is actually a bit of a corollary to Rule 2, but the "Beyond it" part is especially important. What if your carelessly waved trigger pull turns out to fire a live round, and it skips over the berm? What's back there? Whose home could you have just put a round into?
These are the kinds of things that it is helpful to think about from time to time. The Four Rules are not just a formality and boxes we are supposed to tick. There are very serious reasons behind these interlocking and overlapping rules, and we should all abide by not only the letter of the Rules, but the spirit of the Rules. They exist for a reason. Learning cool tricks and being on YouTube do not absolve you of your responsibility to The Rules. They may save someone's life someday, including your own.
If you still think all of this is needless finger-wagging, and none of it could possibly happen to YOU, I urge you to watch a few YouTube videos of "accidental" firearm injuries, recall the image of me scrubbing the blood off my bare hands, and think again.
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Sunday, August 20, 2017
The mainstream news has me so confused these days. I'm not sure if I'm the Oppressor or the Oppressed.
I mean, while I was at Walmart today, I saw tiki torches on markdown in the garden center. I wasn't sure whether I was supposed to be offended because of cultural appropriation, or offended because apparently by marking them down, Walmart was making it cheaper for white supremacists to light up their hate speech. Should I have bought all those torches up, so the the supremacists couldn't get to them? Or would that just have been enabling Walmart because I gave them more money to oppress their wage-slaves in China?
While I was there, I also bought shotgun shells. Does that make me an evil firearms owner who wants minorities and children to die in the streets in order to maintain my silly "hobby"? If the shells were marked down a dollar less per box, does that make me 20% less guilty? Or 20% MORE guilty because I bought more shells for the same money? Was I oppressing Walmart workers by buying cheap? Or was I using my money to make sure they had a job?
Does any of that guilt get cancelled out by the fact that I also bought "Moana" while I was at Walmart? As a kid doc, I feel the need to keep up on the characters that appear on the t-shirts and sneakers in my office. Or am I just supporting Disney's cultural appropriation machine?
As a "rich doctor", what was I doing shopping at Walmart anyway? Shouldn't I have been shopping at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, or someplace more "fair trade"? Does that apply even if I make much less money than the national average for my specialty because I practice in an economically depressed population, which is largely Medicaid? Does that mean that I'm NOT being victimized by the "wage gap"? Or that I AM? So am I a greedy rich doctor, or a victim of my gender, or a champion of the underserved? I'm so confused.
I'm sure that the purchase of "Moana", does not absolve me of my guilt for being fair-skinned. I found out that I'm supposed to feel guilty and "privileged" because all of my ancestors (that I know of) came from Europe. I have ancestors who were "privileged" to have fought for the Union in the Civil War. Some were privileged enough to have been maimed for life in that war. Others were privileged enough to die horrible deaths and be buried as unknowns. But Civil War monuments are apparently symbols of hate, and not of sacrifice, so I need to start feeling guilty about that. I'll have to put that on my iPhone schedule. But does my iPhone oppress workers in China even more than shopping at Walmart?
I also have at least one ancestor who was privileged enough to have fought in the French and Indian War - and also privileged enough to live through it. Did he steal his land in Pennsylvania from native tribes? Or were those native people economic victims of the English who "bought" the land for trinkets? Am I supposed to vacate my house and give the land back now? If so, which tribe do I give it to? And how many millennia in the past do we count their occupation of the property? Once I give it all back, I'm not sure if I'm supposed to move back to Germany or England? Whose property there am I entitled to? Can I ultimately sue the Vikings?
Speaking of property, if I look far enough back in the family history, there is a Last Will and Testament from an ancestor, who bequeathed to his wife her own kitchen utensils. She wasn't considered enough of a person by law to be anything other than her husband's property, so she wasn't entitled to keep any of her own stuff. It all belonged to her husband. Does that fact mean that my gender (or is it "sex"? I forget which is the correct term these days) is inextricably linked to my ancestress's (is that even a word?) suffering? Did she even know she was suffering with a husband and children on what was then the frontier? Or was she too busy living her life to ponder her oppressed state? Should I have marched in a pussy hat after all?
But that brings me to ponder that if any part of my acceptance to medical school was because I was female, does that make me deserving as an oppressed gender (or is it sex?), or does it make me an oppressor because some man was perhaps turned down for the spot I received? Was I owed that spot because my 5 or 6 times great-grandmother didn't have any rights? Or did I get the spot on my own merit?
And was that "merit" because I was "privileged" enough to be smart? Or because I was "privileged" enough to be self-motivated to go back to school as a divorced mom? Or was it the "privilege" of my 12-year Catholic education? Does my former Catholicism cancel out my "white privilege", and make me a victim too - because white supremacists hate Catholics just as much as they hate everybody else?
All this thinking is giving me a headache. Maybe I need to create a scorecard where I list my privileges and my victimhoods, so that I know which one I'm supposed to be, and when. I'm just so confused. I need somebody to tell me what to think. Maybe I should ask the Internet.
Thursday, July 27, 2017
Thursday, July 6, 2017
I have been eyeing this bag ever since I saw it at SHOT Show in January. I finally got my hands on one, and wanted to give you a review, so here we go.
I ordered this backpack from GunGoddess. https://www.gungoddess.com/
The checkout process was easy and painless - I even used some of my rewards points, so I got it for 20% off and free shipping! The box arrived on my front porch in two days, and boy was I excited!
I first have to say that there is nothing "Mini" about the Mini Tobago. This is not a tiny bag. It's still definitely a daypack, and not a weekend pack, but there are plentiful pockets, and zippered compartments to keep all kinds of gear organized.
I ordered the version that was gray with pink stitching, and it is much prettier in person than the photos online. I have a Voodoo Tactical bright pink range bag, and although I love that bag and have gotten lots of use from it, this backpack is beautiful in a more subdued and subtle way. It's still a little feminine, but it just doesn't scream about it, like the hot pink bag does.
This bag does have plenty of features that scream "badass" though - LOL - like accommodating a hydration system (which I don't currently have, but have been meaning to investigate). The bag itself is made of heavy pack cloth (unlike the stinky vinyl type cheapo bags out there). There are heavy duty zippers with paracord pulls, multiple exterior pockets, and the pack is covered all over with webbing so you can attach exterior accessory pockets/bags if you wish. I may eventually do that with my trauma kit to make it more easily accessible.
There are mesh zippered interior pockets, and two of what I call "administrative panels", (I'm not sure what you really call them.) You know - the place that has all the pen sleeves, and mini flapped or zipper pockets so you don't lose your chapstick and your cough drops and your keys? Yeah that. There's TWO of them. There is no dedicated key clip, but my keys are on a carabiner, so they were easily clipped to one of the several paracord interior zipper pulls, for ease of access. The exterior pockets and main compartment also have drain grommets at the bottom of each. I HOPE I don't ever need those, but for those who do - this bag is prepared.
I hadn't originally planned on using this backpack as a range bag, but since I had an IDPA match the day after the pack arrived, I thought I would give it a test run that way anyhow, just to see.
Pictured is the gear I took to the match. As you can see in the photos, just the bottom front pocket compartments held 4 magazines and 200 rounds of 9mm ammo. Granted, it was those little compact boxes of Sellier & Bellot, but 200 rounds is 200 rounds. The upper front compartment was roomy enough for my knife, a pen, my Surefire flashlight, sunscreen, hand wipes, a rain poncho, plus unused space. The main compartment held my pistol case, trauma kit, eye and ear pro, holster, and mag pouches. There was a still some room to spare there as well. The side pockets held my belt, snacks, and a water bottle. Actually, after I took the photo, I decided that since I was going to wear the belt anyway, I'd replace it in the side pouch with a second water bottle.
Though as I mentioned before, I was not originally planning to use this pack as a range bag, it nonetheless proved its storage capacity and weight-bearing capacity for me during this test. I usually struggle a bit with managing the weight and awkwardness of my heavy range bag - even with a shoulder strap. With this pack, between the top handle and the shoulder straps, lugging my gear around turned out not to be "lugging" at all. My shoulder didn't hurt, and I didn't have to hold my hip at an odd angle to balance the load, like I do for my regular range bag. The weight rested easily on my shoulders via the heavily padded shoulder straps. The area of the pack that rests against one's lower back was also heavily padded. I had zero discomfort handling this pack all day. I'm even thinking this might become my new SHOT Show bag.
For a second test, I decided to take this bag for a day outing on a tour boat. The pack accommodated a soft insulated cooler - containing my shrimp, pasta salad, homemade bread, and wine slushie (I was treating myself for Independence Day), a shemaugh and bandana (for tablecloth and napkin), and extra water bottles, with room to spare.
For a third test, I took this pack for a state park trail hike, and then a lake beach stop. The pack easily held two water bottles, my lunch, park maps, beach blanket, etc. As well as the knife, flashlight, hand wipes and other miscellaneous "be prepared" supplies that I left in the pack from the last range trip. The padded shoulder straps were quite comfortable during my hike, and the adjustable chest strap/buckle ensured that the straps didn't slip around.
My final analysis is that the Voodoo Tactical Mini Tobago Pack has proven itself to be a great all-around, multi-purpose day pack. It is sturdy and roomy, without being so oversized as to be unwieldy for grab-and-go use. But it also has the features of a much larger "tactical" pack, making it capable and organized where other daypacks fail. I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up.