Sunday, May 30, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
I'm a big fan of this very unique group called Tinariwen, which is a band from the semi-autonimous central desert region of Africa. I won't call it the Sahara because it's much more than that. People cannot now agree on names for the entirity or the parts thereof, but that is the region from which this group hails.
Their fire is based upon the fact they are former revolutionaries for the Tuarag peoples who laid down arms and took up electric instruments and played a merger of their indiginous music and various parts of blues, rock, soul, afropop and a little bit of everything else.
These are not religious fanatics, but instead a people who have had a land and a culture for at least two thousand years, but upon whom civilization and the woes of the modern world are battling. Other nations claiming their land. The search and mining for uranium, which apparently is often found near an oasis or water and the corresponding geo structure, and water being that thing there is not a lot in the desert anyway, well, you can connect the dots.
Global warming, whatever the cause, is increasing the size of the deserts and drought has been near endemic since the 60's and 70's in many parts of this area. The nations that surround and/or claim ownership of the vast central African desert are all in sad shape themselves.
The Tuarag people have continued in their lifestyle under near constant attack for the past several hundred years, first via european colonization then through a multitude of wars, revolts, coups and other unpleasantries. But it is the mega-governments and their public and nationalized corporations that will likely win the battle with the Tuareg.
And yes, Volkswagon has a vehicle called the Tuareg.
Money is apparently rolling in several burgs in places like Liberia, the Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone from the chinese and for telecom, but it's not enough to help even the limited area where it is spent much less the entire country.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I have a nice blunted end diving knife similar to this one, from my very brief diving days near thirty years ago. I'll discuss my two dive career sometime at length, as it was not without it's moments of humor, both light and dark. But basically from the time I bought the knife, I have kept it in one of my saltwater tackle boxes for cutting frozen bait, or any other innumerable chores at a fishing camp.
Despite being a hefty dive knife, as I recall it is a Dacor, it doesn't do well with frozen large mullet, typical of the Texas Gulf Coast. Nor do I suspect it would do much better with live netted mullet. It just doesn't have the weight at the end of the blade like the Sea Hunter or the Boatman knives do, and of course I'm basing this on my experience using my Puma White Hunter for many years in various fishing, boating and outdoor adventures.
I'd be interested if any other knife maker markets a fishing or boating knife with a rubber handle for a better grip as well as some builtup mass at the end of the blade, as with the Puma Sea Hunter and Boatman knives.
Puma also sold for years a knife called The Frogman, with the shielded handguard. It has basically a heavy duty daggar style blade, which is good for cutting or prying or other purposes underwater, as all sorts of situations arise while diving where a knife is needed.
Likewise when fishing, a versatile knife is mandatory. And most fisherman have more than one knife with them. A fillet knife. A folding knife, perhaps with a folding marlin spike to break up rope knots on the boat. Some sort of cheap but sharp bait knives are also nice to have, and I have used a cheap ginsu knife from the dollar store for many a gnarly fishing need.
I don't know the model year of the van picured above, but I assume it's somewhat recent vintage. Mitsubishi has made this van for years, and started making and marketing it pretty much all over the world (Except the United States). In 1982 you could get it with 4WD and lift kits and things.
I don't mean to harp on about how other countries do have nice sports utility vehicles and rides available that sell for the $20's new and nothing like them is available in America.
I mention all of this, and feature this van, because having been recently reading the blog African travel journey of a man and his very serious Land Rover converted troop carrier camper. Very serious in the 6WD catagory of vehicle. http://www.thisfabtrek.com/
But guess what rig rescued the very large Land Rover when it rolled into a dune on to it's side in the big middle of the Sahara? A Mitsubishi 4x4 van. An older model than the one pictured above, probably an 82-85 model, if the source I looked at was correct. In any event, a sub-4x4 righting about an 8 ton three axle Land Rover.
And to me, the impressive thing about the passage across that portion of the Sahara was that the Mitsu van had no issues. In a later crossing of another trecherous desert area with another newfound friend, the blogger's new travel companion is driving a Land Cruiser truck of some sort with a small camper on it (if I recall correctly) and apparently even the Land Rover dude is impressed by the performance of the Cruiser.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Go here for the whole post http://thisfabtrek.com/journey/africa/morocco/20050711-agadir.php and this page has some cool info on where he got his Land Rover equipped for African desert travel. http://www.thisfabtrek.com/land-rover/land-rover.php
Check it out. I think you'll find it interesting, if you have any interest in traveling. I'm reminded of how my old college roommate, The Crazy Australian Paul, tried to talk Billy Ray, John Juan and myself into making a trek throughout the world as Manfred is doing here. I wasn't in the right place 25 years ago to be interested in that kind of trip, and I'm not sure I'm there yet. But it sure looks like an interesting life going on there.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
So I need to do some minor stitching to reinforce the back belt loop, because I removed some stitching in that area. I think I'm also going to install a tension tightner plastic rivet type deal at the back of the trigger guard area.
The holster tension is perfect. The gun fits well and although the P9 in 9mm is a smaller and vastly different looking gun than the Glock 36 in .45 ACP, the P9 molded form has expanded well with Glock, and I had hoped for that.
The holster is perhaps 1/2" too long to be perfect. I might meander sometime down to a custom holster maker, as redoing the bottom would require a bit more expertise than I could rightly do, but I'm in no hurry. Now, if I had the right kind of leather cutting device I might tackle it, but even working and keeping even lines with a high end pair of leather working shears (sharp little things, they are) and a decent thickness of leather is difficult at best for me.
Cutting would then require more restitching, and a burnishing along the bottom edge. Again, I found that a dremel in a small drill press device and having made a pattern with a stitch wheel where the sewing holes go, a teeny tiny little drill bit makes the perfect size hole, just big enough to get a needle through. Making bigger holes makes holsters look "homemade", which is not always a bad thing. But I like a cleaner look, even in a conversion "frankenstein" holster like this one, with a few extra holes frm removed stitching.
So the holster wears easy at 1/2" long under a t-shirt. The beauty of the actual Bianchi Askins Avenger is that it keeps the pistol against the body, as naturally as a holster can keep a pistol next to the body, in the same way an IWB (in the waistband holster) would keep a gun close to the body.
So while most waistband holsters like the Askins tend to "stick out" under a shirt and not be very concealable under most t-shirts or polo shirts, because of the unique back belt loop placement and angle, the Askins throws the back of the gun into the body. Not uncomfortably, mind you, but just for me, perfectly.
So the point is, for a little under $2 investment, and some skills not so hard to common sense reason out, I've got a holster that I can't seem to find anywhere now for one of my pistols. I'm pretty sure Bianchi had quit making the Avenger by the time the Glock 36 was introduced about 10 years ago, so I've been stymied to find one on ebay or other auction sites. It seems like when one comes up that fits a larger Glock (or a 1911), the prices go sky high.
They're good holsters, and I'm glad my intuition paid off. Even so, there are other guns it would have fit would it had not worked with my Glock 36, and I woulda found a friend with some hardware that would've fit into my frankenstein holster and be glad to trade me a dinner somewheres for the holster.
By the way, you can get supplies at places like Tandy's Leather if you want to repair, modify or make your own holsters or belts or the like. I wish I had the time to build some actual gun belt sets out of the same leather and tan them at the same time. There's lots of other places that sell leather working stuff, including limited simple things like needles and thread suited for leather at local craft stores, and I got about everything I need to make holsters by hand for about $100 15 years ago.
Figure that is now about $250, not including a moto-tool if you desire to be a little high tech in your hole making for sewing. There are several primers on simple holster building available, and although their styles are dated but cool, the techniques remain the same.
You'll need glue, and a burnishing wheel, and an awl, and lots of needles both hand and awl, threads, dyes, edge finish, a very sharp pair of leather shears, a stitching wheel, a punch set. A hard plastic mallet. A rubber working board for stamping and such. I know there are more things you need and I'll update if I recall other items I've needed to build holsters.
As mentioned, some kind of moto-tool with teeny drills and variable speed is nice to have. I can use a wooden burishing wheel at low speed and not have to pull out a cordless drill to burnish edges. Use low speeds in drilling and pretty much for everything else. I've found this method much cheaper than spending big bucks for a leather sewing machine, plus I don't know how to use a leather sewing machine. But I can stitch holsters quite well by hand, and so can anyone.
And if you make a frankenstein holster like I did, and you want to make it not look so bad, it's possible to get an "s" shaped stitching needle and sew a matching thread in the old holes, not sewing the pieces back together but just sewing on one side for decorative purposes now.
I modified one of my dad's Stelzig holsters this way back in the 1980's. He thought it looked fancy. The Holster had been made for a D frame 2" .38 Special snubbie with a sewn in toe plug and he wanted it to carry a Model 66 with a 3" barrel. There was plenty of leather in the holster to expand it, and it was sort of in a design of a speed scabbard with a leather hammer retaining strap. It is a really cool holster.
Moving some stitches and removing the toe plug made the gun fit his Model 66 perfectly. It came out really well.
I'll post some pictures of the Frankenstein holster for the Glock 36 one day. Soon. I promise.
I've had a liking for the Bianchi Askin's Avenger holster since I was in my young twenties in the 80's. They were very popular then. I've had ones for 1911's and Hi-Powers and HK P-7s over the past 30 years, and it's always been one of my favorite holsters for concealed carry of a semi-automatic handgun. I've even seen designs by other makers for J frames and really would like to try one out, but all of the Askins Avengers I've seen were for autos.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
In doing more research about where these trucks are for sale, they are apparently for sale in most places in the world EXCEPT the good ole' USA. See the picture above of the AMERICAN CAR CITY dealership, located in France, and as evidenced by this plentiful stock of this Landcruiser truck just awaiting purchase by just about everyone in the world BUT ME.
The photos above show several Toyota Landcruisers, both truck and SUV, that are not available for sale in America, but are currently sold over most of the rest of the world. Why not in America? Surely something to do with probably no airbags or catalytic converters or the like. These vehicles are more simplistic than what the American market is being offered, and as a longtime Toyota owner (4, including one current), I am offended.
These are rods that even on fishing trips with the boys don't lend themselves to being rigged through the car where they can injure you or be easily damaged by doors or careless passengers. If you're on a family trip, then trust me when I say the non-fishing members of your family may be less gung ho and careful with long rods strewn about the interior of the vehicle. They can sometimes be downright unenthusiastic.
Howa-Eav-ior, as my junior high school science teacher used to say, I'm forever looking for rod carrying solutions that accomodate my family and their space in our mid-sized SUV. They are very understanding of my fishing passions, and in the various vehicles we have owned over the years I've sought to not infringe on their luggage carrying abilities on various trips and vacations.
Nearly every locale we visit has SOME fishing opportunity. I didn't take any fishing gear on my recent trip to N. Carolina because I knew I would be doing home fix up projects for family and wouldn't have the time to venture out onto any area waters to fish, although despite all of my less favorable impressions about my recent N.C. soujourns, it is undeniable that it is a fisherman's paradise with a vast array of fishing opportunities in the State.
Unfortunately, as I understand it, the trout fishing is several hours away at best and the sea fishing is at least five hours away from the unremarkable "Piedmont Triad" area where we visit. Nonetheless, knowing that my inlaws reside in a golf course subdivision on the course, which said golf course having been there 20 or more years, I knew that more than likely fishing opportunities would be available. I had not seen any lakes on the course near their house, but knowing golf courses and their mandatory lakes and ponds, it would have some pond or lake hazards that would be holding some kinds of fish. I didn't take a travel rod, and regretted it as I had a few hours on several days where I could have found a place to fished after the golfers went home or the course was closed.Years ago, before a fishing trip to the Bahamas, I bought a long hard plastic travel case for long rods from Academy. It has an access hatch at one end and telescopes up to 8 or 9 feet or so. It's sturdy and flight checked baggage approved case that will withstand rough handling when packed correctly, using some bubble wrap to keep the rods from banging around in it. I've lost a few guides on one rod because I had too many rods packed inside of it and it was handled roughly. They don't call the people who load bags "bag throwers" for nothing, not to mention items falling on in the the conveyor belt morass that gets bags to and from the planes.
This case can easily be attached via large flex ties to my SUV roof rack for fishing travels. A few extra flex ties and some wire cutters allow quick removal and reinstallment when traveling.
But I'm about to buy a cargo basket for the rack on my suv, and I'm going to make some custom rod cases out of schedule 40 thickness PVC to bolt on to the cargo carrier in a semi-permanant installation. The idea is to take one or two larger diameter PVC pipes the desired length, attach some screw-able caps on either end (with foam pieces in the caps to protect rod tips, and then use some U bolts and small steel plates to secure the affair to the cargo basket.
Longer rods can then be loaded sans reels in one or more of the pipes, and carried with some degree of ease to your fishing location.
I also thought about making a rack using smaller diameter PVC tubing attached to some sort of stackable rack, that wouldn't take up the whole capacity of the cargo basket but instead stacked three across and three high, to hold rods WITH the reels attached.
A small cutout of 3 inches or so to accomodate the reel footing would allow the rod and reel to "seat" into the rod holder, not unlike the slots contained in rod holder on boats or for the beach. Some sort of short rubber leash to wrap around the back of the reel, attaching to both sides of the PVC tube, would keep the rod from slipping out.
By placing the smaller 2-3" PVC tubes in some sort of rack with a handle on top, you could bungee the affair to your cargo basket or roof rack and unbungee when you reach your fishing destination, rods threaded and ready to rock. If you're fishing at a shore side location where you're going to be with your vehicle at all times, you could leave the rack on top, but if you were going to walk a ways from your vehicle, you could unhook it and put it in the vehicle for locking.
Just a few ideas on transporting big fishing rods, and I'd like to hear of any ideas I have not thought of.
You can look in my blog roll to hit Xavier's blog. If you're interested in self defense, photography, pawn shop gun bargains, various excellent pistols and revolver reviews and the one subject near and dear to my self defense heart, extolling the virtues of combat and self-defense revolvers in the modern seemingly "post revolver days" we live in.
I'm having problems linking with my computer at home, and I cannot figure out the cause, thus I can't post a simple cut and paste link to his site. For a year, no problem cutting and pasting links of web pages and text and now, I can't do it. Also, at the same time, my favorites selector stopped working as per usual. Usually, when I mark a favorite page, after I mark the first page in a certain folder, that folder stays the default favorites folder until I change folders or until 24 hours or so passes, so I don't have to scroll through my lengthy lists of el favorito pages.
I don't think Xavier lives in Texas, and so some of his gun related posts regarding laws and such and news are from here. Just bear that in mind. Every state has vastly different gun laws and self-defense laws. Still, I am long read and somewhat well-educated in both the laws of Texas and the techniques of self-defense. So what folks like Xavier and I say about weapon selection and self-defense is not legal advice, nor tactical advice, it is merely food for thought to urge to you think about these things in your life and perhaps seek out other noted authors on the subjects.
For instance, I can hardly pass up the opportunity to tell a war story every now and then. About thirty years ago, ATM machines were in their infancy. They were sorta new and not really located everywhere. Most ATM machines were of the walk up variety, meaning you had to exit your car and either walk into an exposed front area of a bank or just inside the bank doors or in a special kiosk in front of the bank containing the ATM. There were very few drive thru ATM machines back then in Houston.
I was a fairly new officer, who had attended the academy with a cadre of friends I had met in the several years becoming an officer. Likewise, other academies going in the Houston area contained friends of mine from this same time period as well. One of these fellows who was a big running buddy of mine was Ricky the Rookie. He had earned that nickname at the former job where most of our gang had met when we were all 19. Ricky and I went through the academy at the same time.
Ricky and I soon worked our way through our probationary and FTO periods and although we were working different parts of town, we both shared a lot of extra jobs together, generally in the Westheimer and Southwest portion of Houston. We also both worked the 2p to 10p shift and had already been in enough situations on duty and on extra jobs that we knew trouble could erupt anywhere in Houston and that the class of people we referred to as "turds" could be anywhere at anytime armed with gun or knife or both.
It was a frequent practice for Ricky the Rookie and I to hook up after extra jobs or duty and go out. We had friends that worked most of the clubs, and most night clubs were all about having as many officers there as possible. Again, Houston's a mean old town, as several blues singers have noted in previous times, and back in the roaring early 80's it was no different. Likewise, all of our group of police buddies were unmarried at the time so we had lots of free time.
We didn't just go night clubbing together, but often played in softball leagues and went fishing and hunting and did lots of stuff together. It was good times.
So one night Ricky the Rookie and I went out to meet some friends somewhere, and the memory of where we were going that particular night long since escapes me. But it would have been in 1982 or '83 and around 11 pm. We stopped at an ATM at a bank on outer Westheimer to get some cash. As we were pulling up to the machine, we saw the shadow of a person sneak behind the freestanding brickwork that housed the ATM machine in a freestanding structure outside the bank in the front parking lot. It was the walk up type.
Since we were both off duty but armed, we didn't hardly have to say a word to each other. Also being in our young twenties, feeling relatively bulletproof (but without our vests on), having both already been through A LOT of hairy situations in our police careers, and being more full of vinegar than sense, we decided we'd take the guy down ourselves instead of get into a foot pursuit.
So instead of doing the wise thing, and using the police handheld radio I had in my car to summon some on-duty HPD units, we decided to take down this cat by ourselves. It could've been a homeless person or a crazy dude just hiding from us, meaning us no harm. But we also knew it was just as likely to be an armed perp intending to rob us or worse to get the cash out of my bank account.
I'll note that I did at least turn on my radio and call in our position and request backup and note that we were in plain clothes and called out on the situation. Of course, one of my supervisors caught the call and hoped we were not out playing cowboy.
Ricky the Rookie took the perp down, as I backed him up. He was armed with a large butcher knife, and had a cocaine freebasing drug habit and was coming down hard and needed some cash. He willingly complied and surrended with no hesitation, the sight of Ricky the Rookie's .45 Colt Commander being a powerful motivator, along with Ricky the Rookie's colorful Dale Carnegie-esque take down language of "Drop the knife, Mother f-- or I'll kill you."
When disarming a turd, one does not generally speak in the King's english, or with particular politeness. Instead, one speaks in the vernacular that the turd is likely to understand, which is a command rather than a request, rendered directly and in the "turdish" dialect that street criminals understand.
In any event, he was quickly restrained and back up soon arrived. He had a history of aggravated robberies and pen trips and the street cops thought he would be good for several other ATM robberies at that location and others in the area.
But we were stupid. We should have set up a perimeter around this guy, carefully avoiding a cross-fire situation between Ricky the Rookie and I, and waited for backup. Fortunately, it ended well for us. But it just as easily could've gone the other way.
Now that I'm much older, I see why the "old heads" (as oldtimer police officers were referred to back in my day) were always a bit less gung ho to be the first officer on the scene of the bar fight, or why they always waited for mucho backup to handle a hairy situation.
On the other hand, since we were both working much of our police careers as "solo" officers, we were used to handling potentially hairy situations by ourselves on duty in Houston at the time. Many times, on busy shifts, backup might be many minutes or miles away, even in an emergency assist the officer situation. And many times, the violence coming from in progress calls just wasn't going to wait for you to have backup.
So in the kind retrospect that thirty years of living a law enforcement life can give, I now with some gray hair understand why the old heads were slow to action at times. But when they did get into action, old heads didn't mess around. They were all bidness. That explains why turds would listen often times to an old head when he issued a command when younger officers like us were sometimes not listened to when we issued the same commands to our contacts on the street. The turds knew it too. The old heads didn't mess around, and they were to be taken seriously.
So read X's post on recognizing threats. It's very well written.
Monday, May 17, 2010
The man in the bottom picture above, with an innovative AND effective concealed handgun carry system, is Il Duce, the father of the twin McManus brothers who are the Boondock Saints. I totally get the saint part, as it's spelled out in the opening part of the first movie in the priest's sermon. But where the hell did they get Boondocks? They're in the middle of Boston, not out in the Boonies until you hit the sequel, All Saints Day, and it opens with them carrying some very nice sawed off double barrel shotguns (side by side, of course, not some over/under deal, riding horseback and tending their sheep herd on some pastoral and beautiful land in their native Ireland.
In both of the movies, Noah, the twin's long lost father pictured above, wears several different vests that are like the one above when he's heading into shootouts. Lots O' Guns. Lots of them. I'd like to make one of these just for wearing shooting out in the pasture or at any of the places my friends own. I often carry many, or at least several, different pistols to go plinking with when I go shooting with my friends on private property.
So I have never seen these two pieces of wonderful dude films until this weekend. Living in a cave, I know. But as much of a fan I was of the Bronson version of this movie, they do these two differently enough to make them interesting.
It's wide open for a third one, but they had trouble making the sequel financially I read on wiki, so who knows if that's true. All I can say is, they're a great double feature when you feel like escaping into dude-dom.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Ronnie played with a lot of great outfits, but I first heard him paired with guitar virtuoso Richie Blackmore in Rainbow when I was in high school. I thought his brief stint after that with Black Sabbath resulted in the only listenable Sabbath album where I actually was able to listen to every song on the tape without fast forwarding my Pioneer Supertuner's cassette player.
My favorite stuff was that of his own band in the early eighties. First of all, any band where Viv Campbell did a stint has to be rocking. But of course, Dio was rocking on his own, no matter who was playing in the band, which had many different members over the years.
Holy Diver and The Last in Line were my favorite Dio band albums, and in fact the only Dio (band) albums I bought. I bought a double CD Rainbow retrospective remastered set a few years ago, and of course it is just a fantastic piece of rocking music. Holy Diver was very critically acclaimed and per wiki, was considered by critics to be his best work.
Dio, above all other very talented heavy metal and hard rock vocalists over the years, was to me anyway, the master of the "Epic Rock Ballad" (or ERB).
I remember trying to explain the musical structure (and indeed, of it's paramount importance in the history and development of rock & roll music and inventive new song forms) of the ERB to a female friend in 1984 or so, in the midst of her complaining about the fact that we could be listening to new wave or something poppy instead of Dio's new album.
Rainbow in the Dark off of Holy Diver is a top contender for one of the best ERB's of all time. Although the tempo is restrained, almost with a dotted note feel at times, the song surges thorughout as if trying to hold back something. Yet at the same time, the band is playing HARD and Dio is BELTING it out. Very emotive.
Of course, Ronnie first hit my radar screen in the early portion of high school, when Blackmore broke away from Deep Purple (another favorite artist of mine, particularly their obscure 60's cut of Hey Joe...the weirdest ever cover of one of the most covered tunes of all time) and Dio was his vocalist. These were also the years of the legendary drummer, the late Cozy Powell. I could write for weeks about the cool drumming of Cozy Powell.
But with Dio and Rainbow, there were tunes like Man in the Silver Mountain that were great and hard rocking. Sort of a combination of the rocking force of Led Zeppelin with the hook and song format of a pop song. But rocking enough in nature to render the pop song structuring insignificant. It was new and it was the start of what would plateau in the 1980's with hard rockin' hair metal groups like Motley Crue and Guns and Roses. Janes Addiction took that same feeling and mixed with a punk element to get their sound, like the Red Hots merged these influences with r&b to get their funky metal sound.
With Cozy Powell on the skins, on the second and arguably best ever Rainbow album Rainbow Rising, Dio belted out absolute jams like Starstruck, which also featured later solo act Tony Carey on keyboards. This to me was the best Rainbow lineup, but then Blackmore went into a mode of replacing the band except Dio every album or so, and finally Dio left and founded his own band.
My prayers go out to their family and friends and to Ronnie.