Excellent use for old cell phones

I knew that old cell phones, plan or not, still had to be able to call through to 911. A Good Thing™ for sure.

Linoge took the logical step.

Put it on a timer. It’s one of those things where you slap yourself on the forehead for not thinking of it yourself. Makes perfect sense because it keeps the phone powered up, keeps the battery “moving”, but doesn’t make for a constant drain. And if you’ve got a bunch of old phones, scatter them about in your “safe areas” and other “hunker-down” spots so there’s certainly a phone where you need it for when you need it.

Of course, do check them. Old phones could have batteries at the end of their life. One hour a day may not be enough to keep them working. Do check them from time to time to ensure they are working and holding a charge. etc..

Nice tip!

The myths go on

Tam linked to a blog posting where they tested various loads against drywall. The intent was to address the common myth about what can and can’t go through drywall, thinking shotgun loads will have little penetration and rifles will go right through to the next zip code.

The Box O’ Truth has covered this many times. I’ve blogged on it too. But hey, I’m not going to deny someone a fun day at a the range. 🙂  Besides, more supporting evidence is always welcome.

Their conclusion? Same as the others: rifle rounds penetrated the least. Well-designed .223 Rem/5.56×45 NATO rounds will fragment and yaw. That’s how they do their damage, but it also means a dramatic loss of energy and penetration potential (after initial impact) thus all those over-penetration concerns are addressed. Buckshot? It just keeps going and going, and where do those pellets land? A hollow-point handgun round hits drywall, plugs the cavity up, and now it’s going to act like a ball round and just keep penetrating, no expansion to help slow it down. More info here.

So really, I know what conventional wisdom is, but it needs to be updated because the data and facts support it. Kudos for CTone for helping to spread that word. 🙂

But despite that, some myth remains. One commenter on CTone’s posting, Laughingdog, said:

Honestly, a shotgun really is the ideal choice for a home defense weapon for most people, but not for the bullshit reasons so many instructors give (e.g., won’t penetrate drywall, you don’t have to aim, etc.).

You can get a good pump action shotgun for less than the cost of a good handgun, and much less than the cost of a good semi-auto rifle. That pump action shotgun is also easier to operate than most semi-auto rifles. Most people can figure out a pump-action without a lot of help.

[…]

To clarify the point I was trying to make there. The average person is not going to spend the money on a good rifle. They also aren’t going to spend the time training with that rifle. So, for that type of person, a shotgun is a good choice, but not because of the myth that it won’t go through the walls.

Laughingdog, I’m not picking on you in particular, just you happened to say what a lot of people say. First yes, shotguns generally can be obtained much less expensively, which is something in their favor. But easier to operate? I’m not so sure. Most rifles are a simple point-and-click interface. If you want to talk inexpensive shotgun, that means a pump-action. While yes most people can figure out the notion of a pump, it doesn’t magically happen — you still have to have practiced with it. And when the flag flies, are you going to remember to “point-click-rack-point-click-rack”? And if you do, to not short-shuck it? People have trouble with flicking off manual safeties when the flag flies — especially people who don’t practice — so why would they remember to rack the shotgun? And how about reloading? It’s far easier and faster to drop an old and insert a fresh magazine, it’s far more cumbersome to reload a shotgun (which has such low-capacity to begin with). Don’t think your situation will require a reload? How do you know that (and it’s not just about number of rounds fired, what about malfunctions?) Take a look at the Magpul Dynamics Art of the Dynamic Shotgun video and you’ll see how complex the shotgun weapon system really is.

If you’re not going to train (and that’s a whole other matter), you really need the simplest manual of arms possible. When you eliminate the commonalities between a rifle and shotgun (e.g. both require flicking off a safety, both have to be aimed), the rifle is going to be simpler, in theory. I say in theory because the rifle could have some of its own issues, like holdover. But the decision of what tool to use is not as simple as “oh this one is better because of X Y and Z”. You have to choose the right tool given the context. That right tool could be a shotgun, that right tool could be a rifle, that right tool could be a handgun, that right tool could be something else. The best you can do is talk frankly about all weapon systems, give people information, then let them make the best decision that fits them. Corollary to that is if you then find out your decision wasn’t right, fix it; don’t be afraid to admit mistake or fix a problem or upgrade your situation… your life hangs on it.

I will say tho, Laughingdog did make an excellent case to use to dispel another horrible myth of defensive shotgun use.

 

I’m just glad I’ve gotten all of the other instructors at the range, as well as about half of the salesmen downstairs, to accept that bird shot is not acceptable self-defense ammo. Even the stubborn ones finally cave when I say two words to them to describe why bird shot sucks for that purpose: “Dick Cheney”.

 

 

Good one! 🙂

 

Plumbing tip

Yesterday had a plumber over to tackle numerous little plumbing tasks around the house.

The kitchen sink faucet cold water has run rather slow for some time. I knew flow was restricted but wasn’t sure how. A few years ago the water main into our house broke (on the city side of the water meter). City came and fixed it, but because the pipe did break grit and sand and small rocks got into our pipes and had to be flushed out. I wondered perhaps did a small rock get jammed up in the faucet cartridge?

Nope.

Calcium build-up.

Central Texas… limestone everywhere. It happens.

But here’s the tip. The faucet is a Kohler. To replace the cartridge would cost as much if not more than buying a whole new faucet. The plumber recommended instead to buy Moen or Delta, because they’re simple: just pop the old cartridge out, put a new one in, and it costs a fraction. And the quality of the faucets are just as good.

So there you go. Your plumbing product shopping tip for the day.

Hiding in the walls

So the house is undergoing renovations.

Look what we found during demolition:

Click to enlarge, if you need to.

Can you tell what those are?

They’re gecko eggs.

They pulled out the fridge, then pulled off the trim boards and that’s what they found hiding behind the trim board. Makes sense. It’s dark, it’s warm. Geckos are all over this part of the country, see them all over the outside of the house and every so often on the inside of the house (tho the cats take care of them very quickly).

If you think this is an “eeeewwwwwww!” moment, just let your mind wander with it a bit. If this is what you can find in your house, imagine what’s in place that you can’t find? In the walls, up in the recesses of the attic. The workmen tell me they’ve seen far more “interesting” things than this.

Just think about that as you’re falling asleep tonight. 🙂

Score!

We’ve got one of those “under-sink” water filter units. City of Austin water is fine to drink, but a little extra filtration is nice (especially when the water supply gets those algae blooms).

Trouble is, the filters cost $46. Gets expensive to replace them every 6 months. Plus the only place in town I know of that sells them is Home Depot and they’re frequently out of stock. So since it was time to replace them again, I opted to go online.

Found this website: waterfiltersfast.com.

The filters are being sold for $31. That $15 price difference is substantial! Order $99 worth of stuff and shipping is free. And no sales tax. Overall savings was huge… basically 4 sets for the price of 2. I’ll eventually use them all so no harm in stocking up.

And fast is right. I ordered on Saturday and received the “now shipping” invoice a few minutes ago. Happy happy.

Changing switches

I am not an electrician, but I’ve been doing some small wiring projects around my house.

Some of the outlets are loose in that you put in a plug and the plug doesn’t hold very well. So as I discover a problem outlet I’ve been swapping the outlet for a new one. Doesn’t take long to do the actual swap work, the hardest part is figuring out which circuit breaker to turn of. There’s no wiring diagram for the house, no labels on the switches, but I’ve got one of those little gizmos that plugs into the outlet and emits a signal which another dohicky held against the breaker switch can pick up and tell me which circuit things are on. So it’s certainly not guesswork, just time consuming. And yes, while I’ve done my best to identify and label things, I always find out that the wiring in the house is pretty strange and well… maybe there’s logic to how it was wired but I sure can’t find it.

I changed the light switch in the laundry room to have a motion sensor switch. These would be good to have in other rooms of the house as well, especially from a security standpoint. Wife and I are still deciding which rooms and locations would be best.

And today I completed another change, which I’m very happy about.

The exterior lights are controlled by interior switches. I went in search of timer switches so the exterior lights could be on a simple timer. Well, Lowes didn’t have any simple timers. They had these $27-each digital timers, but man, they are cool! You set the date, the time, if you’re on Daylight Saving Time or not, and you even set what region of the country you’re in (we’re in “south”). Then you can program up to 7 slots of on-off times: for each day of the week, for the 5 weekdays, for the 2 weekends, or for all 7 days of the week. You can set actual on and off times, or — and this is the cool part — sunrise or sunset. Because it knows the date, the time, and your general location in the USA, it calculates the sunrise and sunset times and you can have the lights turn on at sunset and on at sunrise. That is COOL! I don’t have to adjust the timer all year to go on and off when I want (which is sunrise and sunset). Sweet!  As well, I wonder if the switches have an internal battery or maybe a capacitor because after wiring switch 1 and programming it, I then learned that switch 2 was also on the same circuit as switch 1 so while I wired switch 2 I figured I was going to have to go back to reprogram switch 1. But I didn’t, and it was still the correct time. Nifty!  I do hope it’s just a capacitor and holds enough to deal with short power interruptions, because I don’t want to change batteries… what a pain.

Anyway, nice stuff. Helps the house look nicer, work better (automation is good!), improves security. Can’t beat that for a few hours of work this morning.

I need your help identifying an animal

Frequent readers know we have a lot of muscovy ducks around our house and neighborhood.

A few weeks ago one of the hens that really likes our house set up another nest. She’s nested here before. This nest has maybe 12-15 eggs in it now. She was a very dedicated mother. And of course, the kids grew very attached to her (named her “Nessie”).

This morning we checked on the nest. Nessie wasn’t there, which is unusual. I saw a lot of feathers around the nest, not just down, full feathers. I looked around a bit more and saw more feathers in a line going back to my neighbor’s backyard gate. Then you could see how the dirt was moved, indicating something was dragged/pulled under the gate. I opened the gate, saw an egg shell, but no more “line” of feathers. But as I got towards the neighbor’s back fence, I saw a mess of feathers in an area. At this point in the back fence there’s an obvious area under the fence that something can squeeze under, and sure enough there were more feathers on the other side of the fence… off into the greenbelt.

So as far as I can tell, Nessie was attacked, dragged off, and eaten last night. 😦

Of course, this is life, this is nature. Kids understand that, but it’s still a sad day as Nessie has been around for quite a while and been a dedicated mother. Plus now the kids wonder about the nest of eggs… will another duck adopt them? We actually have a second nest from another hen also at the house and we’re thinking about moving the eggs to her nest. We’ll see. Still to be determined.

The bigger question is…. what could have taken her?

This is where I’m requesting your help.

Raccoon? Maybe. Fox? Maybe. While my reading says they could take a duck, it’s unlikely they would. Muscovy’s are larger ducks. They have claws in their feet (they are perching ducks). They can make noise and put up a fight. These are not the sort of targets for a raccoon or a fox, especially when there’s a ton of eggs for easy pickings.

Possum? No.

So… what? Could it be a coyote? Possible. We do hear them howling every so often, but haven’t in some time.

Bobcat? That’s my father-in-law’s guess.

If that’s the case, I’m not happy about that. I don’t need a bobcat around.

I have a game camera. I’m going to set it up. Maybe too late for that, but my hope is whatever it was will know this is a spot with food and will come back within the week to try again. Hopefully I’ll catch something on film.

Updated: Game camera set. We’ll see if it turns up anything.

The area under the fence gate measures about 4″. Not a problem for some things to wiggle through.

Went looking in the greenbelt for more traces. Oldest found something that looks like scat and could be bobcat scat, but we aren’t 100% sure.

Present signs are pointing to a bobcat. Just what I need….

Home invasion defense handgun choice

Via SayUncle I’m pointed to this 3 part series on home invasion defense.

The intentions are good, but I take issue with a few things.

From part 2

Handguns are more portable and easier to keep with you, and can be kept on your person if they are not too large.

If they are not too large? Can someone show me a handgun that is too large to keep on your person? OK, maybe some of those “pistol AR’s” or something like the Ruger Charger. But most of your traditional “full sized handguns” (think 1911 with a 5″ barrel) are able to be kept on your person. Concealed even.

Then in part 3:

Revolver manufacturers also make double action only (DAO) revolvers, such as the Smith and Wesson Model 640 at right. The advantage of the DAO revolver is the fact that the hammer is completely enclosed.

And how is a completely enclosed hammer an advantage in a home defense situation? It’s useful in a concealed carry situation, sure, but I’m unclear as to how it’s an advantage for home defense.

Semi-auto handguns come a a wide variety of sizes and functions. The Beretta Model 92 at right is the civilian version of the military issue M9. It comes in 9mm Luger caliber. The Model 92 is a double action/single action autoloading handgun. This means that the first cartridge is fired with a long DA (heavy) pull, and subsequent shots are fired single action (light). Pro – proven as the primary US military sidearm for over two decades, large capacity magazines. Con – fairly heavy.

Fairly heavy is a con? No, that’s a pro because being heavier will help with recoil management. The author also implies the DA/SA trigger is a pro. No, that is a con. Previously in the article the author says how the double-action trigger pull is a con of revolvers (for the correct reasons). If a double-action trigger is a con, it’s a con.

The author then goes on about a S&W 640 (snub revolver), and other small guns like a Sig P238 and Kel-Tec P3AT. He talks about how great they are because they’re so lightweight, portable, how they can be carried in a holster. Um…. I thought this article was supposed to be about home invasion defense? The choice of guns here is arguably more geared towards carry guns, tho I’d debate some of the selection there too.

While the author’s intentions are good, the article loses focus and even contradicts itself. The guns recommended are not good choices for home invasion defense. While I have my take on good tools for home invasion defense, if we want to talk handguns for home defense I’d have to err on the side of larger guns. You can shoot larger guns better. You’re not necessarily going to carry this thing around, so it’s not a consideration. While a self-defense situation on the street is likely to happen within 5 yards of you, a home defense situation could require a shot up to the longest distance across your house. In my house it could be 25 yards, and frankly I’d rather take a 25 yard shot with a full sized handgun that provides me with excellent sights and a long sight radius vs. say a snub revolver or pocket semi-auto with their crappy sights and miniscule sight radius. So big gun, proper gun fit, adequate caliber, that’d be my general guidelines for a home-invasion defense handgun.

It reminds me how good life is.

I’ve been working as a full-time telecommuter for at least a decade.

I enjoy it. It’s my preferred mode of working.

The company I work for finally opened an office in Austin. They opened it due to other projects in the company (all the people and projects I work on are in California), but hey… it’s here, I can work in it. I figured if nothing else, I should establish a presence there. Meet the folks in the office, stake out a claim on a desk, stuff like that. So that’s kinda cool. The office is still being brought online 100%, but today I spent my first day there.

I don’t like it.. 🙂

Don’t get me wrong. The office itself is alright. The people are good (especially the lady that’s managing the office). Yes there are some hiccups as the office is coming online. But hey, all in all things aren’t bad. Plus I have a proper office, with a door, a window, a nice view.

What do I not like? I can’t listen to loud music while I work. I don’t have the smell of Wife’s wonderful cooking filling the air. I don’t hear my children playing. I have to wear shoes all day. I can’t just wander out of my office and go poke at my best friend (Wife) or play with my kids or see what they’re up to. No cats to sit in my lap.

I know. Cry me a river.

I know my life is good. I know that I’m blessed and fortunate. I have a life that many people would love to have. I worked hard to get here. I wouldn’t settle for anything less than the life I have, and through hard work, dedication, and sacrifice I’ve gotten where I am. So days like today? They’re just reminders of how fortunate I am and how good life can be. That whole “count your blessings” thing.

Every morning when I wake up I say to myself, “Daub, don’t fuck this up.”

Still, I’ll probably come to the office now and again. It’s not all bad.

At Your Doorstep

A quip from John Farnam. Seems a couple guys robbed a bank. Police give chase, the 2 robbers split up in a residential neighborhood. One cons his way into a house and even manages to get the homeowner to drive him out, but they are stopped by the police. The other walks into an unlocked house, finds the car keys, steals the car and off he escapes.

Lessons for me:

Keep doors (home and car) locked! Keep your electronic security system turned on when you’re not there. Be armed, even at home. Don’t engage strangers at your doorstep in conversation, and don’t unlock the door! Tell them that you can’t help them, and that you’re calling police.

Be aware that dangerous, criminal suspects are everywhere, including your doorstep!”

People wonder why I carry my gun, even at home.

Because… shit happens. And when shit does happen, it happens in seconds.

It this being paranoid? No. Paranoid would be thinking everyone was out to get me, the boogeyman was around every corner. I don’t think that. The world is full of good people who mostly go about their day and leave me alone. But there are exceptions to the rule… like those two bank robbers.

Rather, it’s about being prepared. Boy Scouts aren’t paranoid, they are prepared. It’s about making preparations beforehand, so we’re ready when needed.