Monday, 14 May 2012

07:59 – I finished the first two lab sessions in the forensic biology lab group yesterday, on pollen and diatoms, and got started on the third, on extracting and isolating DNA. After I finish that and the final lab session, on DNA gel electrophoresis, I have to write one lab session I left out, on chemical analysis of soil, and then it’ll be on to the front matter.

Mary Chervenak stopped by yesterday to drop off some empty one-liter soda bottles, which I use as disposable containers when we’re making up solutions for the lab kits. Paul left town last week, on his way out to Colorado or Utah, where he plans to view the Venus transit on June 8th. Ordinarily, I don’t mention when friends are away from home, but in this case Paul and Mary have both posted about it on their Facebook pages, so I’m not giving anything away. Anyway, anyone who tried to take advantage of Paul’s absence to bother Mary would be in for a nasty shock. Mary is a shooter.

38 thoughts on “Monday, 14 May 2012”

  1. RBT wrote:

    “Mary is a shooter.”

    She has the fist of death too, doesn’t she?

  2. Yes. Yes, she does.

    Mary reminds me a lot of Debbie. Debbie had never shot a pistol, and asked me to teach her. So, we ended up with her shooting at a standard FBI K-D target. I explained the labels on the target, K5 being areas that were likely lethal, and so on. She loaded the pistol, took her stance, and started firing. Instead of timed fire, aiming for the center of mass, which is what I told her to, she shot rapid-fire, at better than a round a second. When she was finished, there was a tight little group, but not in the chest area. Instead, the paper was shredded in the crotch area.

  3. Haha!

    Back in my Army days, when I had two functioning eyes and most of my joints hadn’t yet been abused and I could actually hit what I was aiming at, I pissed off my company commander one day by getting 80 points on the pistol range. That was well above a passing score but well below what I should have gotten. Every shot hit and placement was tight, but head shots were worth only 4 points on that silhouette target. You needed to hit the center of the torso for 5 points.

  4. Reminds me of the time a guy I worked with was annoying me by telling me how much better his MAC-10 was for close-in disagreements than my HS10B riot shotgun, which had a magazine extended to eight rounds with a tube Garth Choate made up.

    So we set up a couple of silhouette targets, someone shouted “GO!” and we started blasting away at them. When the debris settled, Dave’s target had lots and lots of .45 holes in it. My target (and part of the target frame) was shredded. I made a snide remark, and Dave commented that you can’t get deader than dead.

    I did carry a MAC-10 sometimes, but only because I could fit it and six spare magazines under my coat. To this day, given the choice, I’d pick up the riot shotgun every time.

  5. I am also a shotgun guy for self-defense and other operations. Among my options here are a thirty- or forty-year-old Winchester 1200 in riot config, and a good old standard Remington 870 with moderate tactical config in progress.

    It was four decades ago, but I qualified expert every time I shot throughout my active duty years, with all the small arms in the USAF Air Police/Security Police arsenal at that time. Ditto for the years of street cop gigs in Maffachufetts.

    Not sure how I would do now; I still have fast reaction times and my bifocals give me 20-20; I need to get out and run some stuff at the range these next few weeks or so.

  6. Well, at one time I was averaging probably 500 to 1,000 rounds of .45 ACP a week on the range, usually at least one day a week and often two. (As you might guess, I had a progressive reloading press and bought primers and other components by the case…).

    In my experience, there was a slight but noticeable loss if I didn’t get to the range for a month or two, maybe shooting 90% versus the 100% baseline when I was shooting frequently. But also in my experience, that slight loss quickly flattens out as time passes. It’s been probably a year since I shot pistol at all, and I’d guess I’m probably at 75% of where I was when I was shooting every week.

    That’s good enough for me. The real problem is that I don’t have time to reload and the price of even range ammo nowadays is ridiculous. Also, I don’t have a nearby range that has a combat-pistol course.

  7. That is a really good score for someone who isn’t doing it regularly, and as you know, most of these confrontations occur at seven or fewer yards anyway. Reloading does take time if one is careful and particular, as one should be, and the ammo prices keep rising and combat pistol courses are few and far between. But one would think with the current interest in, and purchase of firearms, and the Current Situation, there would be more coming into play now.

    My daily carry is a Taurus .357 snubby with .38+P JHPs, and this is what I have with me always. A field carry? I am torn between my love of wheelguns over forty years and their reliability, and, of course, a nice .45 ACP, Colt or clone. We shall see. Hitherto it has been a S&W Model 57 .41 Mag. I don’t know about weekly, but I am gonna try to get out monthly from now on, with the handguns at least, but also the shotguns and rifles.

  8. OFD wrote:

    “I still have fast reaction times and my bifocals give me 20-20…”

    I’m envious. You’re even older than me, but have better eyesight. My optician says he makes the best multifocals he can for me but I still don’t see as well as I like. Just yesterday I called a woman at work by the wrong name because I didn’t look straight at her. “Getting Old Is Hell” ™

    And I was visiting friends in 2003 and was out driving with the lady of the couple. She was complaining about her eyesight, saying she might have to get glasses. But she could read road signs much earlier than I could wearing glasses.

    “My daily carry is a Taurus .357 snubby with .38+P JHPs, and this is what I have with me always. A field carry?”

    What’s the difference between a “daily” carry and a “field” carry?

  9. Greg, my eyesight has sucked since I was a little kid and the teachers and my parents finally noticed. I’ve had glasses since I was nine and bifocals the last ten years or so. I have pretty bad myopia and also astigmatism and without my glasses I couldn’t find my way out of the room; it is like being underwater. But with good lenses and contemporary testing innovations, I get 20-20 and the years and years of shooting and cop training on looking at people and things constantly seem to have held up.

    A daily carry, for me anyway, is what I have on me all the time, so small enough and light enough but packing enough of a punch, too. There are snubby-sized .45 ACPs, too, but they can kick like a mule and they’re kind of bulky if you ask me. A field carry, again for me, would also be known as a service revolver or pistol, as carried by police and soldiers during their regular duties. Back in my day it was revolvers, usually .38s and .357s, but now it seems to be all 9mm and .40 semi-autos, same as what they issue the regular troops. But the spec ops guys go for .45 ACP and .308 on their rifles.

    And in somewhat related nooz, here is something I sent along to SteveF concerning his interest in Vermont:

  10. There are snubby-sized .45 ACPs, too, but they can kick like a mule and they’re kind of bulky if you ask me.

    If I want a small, light revolver, I carry my Rossi 720. Talk about a pocket cannon. It’s .44 Special and weighs 15 ounces. The first time Barbara fired it, she swore never again. Here’s a video about it.

  11. I used to have a Charter Arms. .44 Special Bulldog but the local gun dealer called it a “dirtpile” and hurt my feelings so I sold it along with another revolver and got a Ruger Security-Six .357 with a 6″ barrel, stainless. This was all thirty years ago now…tempus fugit. I kind of wish now I’d kept it and then also gotten a Ruger .44 Mag at some point, probably SA. I love those SA revolvers.

  12. Yeah, the Rossi ain’t a Ruger or S&W, either, but it works. Apparently, it’s now a minor cult item, and sells for pretty high prices. Who knew?

    I used to have the SA Ruger Super Blackhawk in .44 Mag. Good gun for bear country, but a bit of overkill otherwise.

  13. We got us some bears up here and in *real* upstate NY; evidently they’re now weighing in at 400-500 pounds each and often travel in pairs.

    And I see that the value on my thirty-year-old S&W .41 has gone up quite a bit, too; I’m looking into getting a professional re-bluing job done on it and new Jordan Trooper grips. And will probably give it back to my next-younger brother who gave it to me back then to settle a $400 debt.

  14. Back to the Firefox problems. No real solutions to my problem yet. Having access to all 4gb of RAM with 64-bit has not made any difference at all to my hardware. I am maxed out at 4gb; newer hardware accommodates much, much more.

    With my son having switched to 64-bit Lubuntu and not being able to keep 350 tabs open anymore, he contacted the IT buddies he used to work with at uni, and the upshot of that was: on Linux systems, Firefox is best, followed by Chrome, followed by Chromium. Chromium, it seems, is quite a bit behind the others.

    Also from them, was the referral to a recent paper on memory usage related to the history of Mozilla, given by one of the key developers in the memory area.

    Not much in there, except confirmation of my contention that significant memory problems entered the picture—starting with v4 of Firefox. I am not really clear from that paper, whether it is now back to working as well as v3, but it appears not—on my system, at least.

    The other thing to notice in the paper (it is long), is that add-ons to Firefox may cause problems. Some of them have memory leaks that are the real cause of problems, when users tend to blame it all on Mozilla.

    Finally,—and I cannot confirm this from personal experience yet,—creating a much larger than normal (and much larger than recommended) swap file in Linux appears to prevent all Mozilla derivatives from crashing. Hitting a brick wall on the upper limit of memory, seems to cause any of them to crash ungracefully. The larger swap file does not help speed, but appears to stop crashes.

  15. A friend who served with the Marines in Vietnam said that the first thing they did, on advice of ‘Nam vets, after being deployed there was to “lose” their squad’s combat shotgun on each patrol until about half of them were armed with them. (IIRC, the TO&E had one shotgun per squad back then.)

    They also had a cache of AK-47s and ammo outside the firebase that they would use in ambushes. Sometimes Charlie wouldn’t fire back for a while if they were being shot at with AKs, but would return fire immediately if shot at by M-16s.

  16. Tech question:

    My PC motherboard has RAID 0, 1, and 5 support (ASUS P5K-e) builtin. Can I buy a second drive and turn on RAID 1 after I have already been using the first drive in the pair?

  17. I have not used RAID in quite a while, but my recollection is that both drives have to be “striped” before they can be employed by RAID. But why not buy 2 new drives, stripe them for RAID, then transfer the content to them. Drives (I take it you are talking about 3.5″) are cheap these days, and you can then have the third standing by for an emergency.

  18. Here is an example of my Firefox problems. I just reached the point where other programs could not access data (“cannot find the media specified”). RAM in use was 2.86gb. I exited Firefox. Five minute process where the computer was locked up. RAM usage dropped to just over 400mb for the other 12 programs I had open.

    Restarted Firefox; restored last session; memory usage is now 921mb for the SAME windows I had open before. I had also disabled all add-ons that were not on the approved list in the paper noted previously. Obviously, Firefox does not let go of memory when it could use less.

  19. Your Marine friend told ya for real, ech; I was not a day-to-day grunt but had air base defense responsibilities, including ambushes, counter-ambushes, occasional long-range recon patrols, etc., often in conjunction with Marines and Green Berets. By far favorite personal weapons combo was the shotgun and .45. I carried the M-60. Why? Because I’m tall. Skinny as a rail back then, but they had me humping that mutha along with the ammo anyway. On my second tour I didn’t have to worry about all that stuff; I was enlisted aircrew and had access to much bigger and much more dangerous toyz in Uncle’s arsenal.

    At this point, Chuck, I would dump FF, but I think I’ve said that before. I rarely use it for anything, either at home or at work, and stopped using IE many years ago. Hell, Opera would be better. Just for laffs, though, because it looks like you’re gonna marry that son-of-a-bitch, try Sea Monkey, a FF clone.

  20. Chuck wrote:

    “Back to the Firefox problems. No real solutions to my problem yet. Having access to all 4gb of RAM with 64-bit has not made any difference at all to my hardware. I am maxed out at 4gb; newer hardware accommodates much, much more.”

    Chuck, I’ve got the PC that died a couple of weeks back but haven’t had a chance to install FF on it, it’s Windows 7 Pro with (I think) 8GB of memory. The current PC I’m using has less than 4 GB available (Windows XP) but FF 12 runs just fine. I have FF 7 at work, also no problems. Perhaps something is wrong with the hard disk on your PC. This machine died a few years ago, the HDD needed to be replaced. Before it died performance got very VERY bad.

  21. OFD wrote:

    “Greg, my eyesight has sucked since I was a little kid and the teachers and my parents finally noticed. I’ve had glasses since I was nine and bifocals the last ten years or so.”

    Problems with my eyesight were first noticed when I was 15. They did a mass screening at school, most kids breezed through, but they did several more minutes of tests for me. By the next year I couldn’t easily and consistently read the blackboard, even though I was in the front row, so I had to get glasses.

    Not sure how long I’ve been using multis – about 10 years at a guess. “Getting Old Is Hell. ™ I very greatly envy people with normal vision, especially when they are my age. MY ophthalmologist told me last November that a cataract operation might be in my future – just like my father had in the Seventies.

    I have no blurring in peripheral vision, but if I need to see detail I have to look straight at something.

  22. It is a mystery at this point. Definitely not the hard drive. It is practically brand-new (only a few months old) and I have purposely tested it in another machine running Linux, and it responds brilliantly to Linux HD tests. RAM tests also reveal no memory problems. Long-term solution is a new computer with about 16gb of RAM. In the meantime, I just have to keep the number of windows open to a minimum. Minimum is 10 windows and a total of 63 tabs. One of the great things about computers, is the ability to open the equivalent of over 60 book pages at once and have them instantly available. Modern life is grand when it works properly. Cannot face moving more than 10 years of accounts and passwords to another browser.

  23. If I need to see detail or really small print I have to take the specs off, and then it is as clear as day to me. My can’t-see-the-blackboard stuff was the clue for them at my elementary school in third grade and I got my first specs the following year, after which I got called “four-eyes” and “Professor.” This stopped in fifth grade after I grabbed the chief tormentor by the throat, bent him backwards over the hood of a car in the parking lot and began banging his head against it. Teachers pulled me off and I got detention and Mom hadda come down to the school.

    Three years later I was six feet tall and nobody bothered me for anything at all, including my parents.

    And, ironically, I almost became an English professor. Glad I dodged that bullet! And I just got my bifocals updated and man, are they sharp! I should be firing expert again in no time.

  24. OFD says:

    And in somewhat related nooz, here is something I sent along to SteveF concerning his interest in Vermont:

    Very interesting. Naylor got a business degree from my alma mater, Indiana University. Very good business school there—one of the best in the nation, although in general, few people know it. That business school was where they did the research to find out that if you located a McDonald’s next to a Burger King, both would experience an increase in business. Very hard concept for business owners to accept back then, but those places almost hug and kiss each other nowadays.

    Music school very good there, too—many rate it second to Julliard. Remember the rock instrumental “Green Onions”? It was a creation of Booker T. Jones, who attended the IU music school while I was over at Radio & TV. He was from Memphis, and drove home every other weekend to play organ and/or sax at Jim Stewart’s Stax/Volt records as backup for artists like Carla Thomas and her dad Rufus, the Mar-Keys, the Bar-Kays, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Eddie Floyd, Wilson Pickett, Arthur Conley, Isaac Hayes, and many others. One day, an artist did not show up for a session, so, to use up the time, the studio musicians got together and jammed to the tune of something Jones was playing around with in one of his jazz music classes. Released as performed by Booker T & the MG’s, it is still one of the most recognizable tunes ever recorded.

    While I sympathize with Naylor’s sentiments, it just ain’t gonna happen the way he envisions. We are not going to have secession and downsizing by fracture into smaller units. The world is in no way done with building giga-gigantic companies and associations. As corporations bribe politicians with zillions to do their bidding in growing ever larger, the politicians are scaling up government to match the gargantuan constructs—and power—those politicians allow in the private sector. That is why Europe will not split apart, nor will the US. On the contrary, they will get bigger with ever-tighter connections to the countries surrounding them. Much more likely than breaking up, is a new union that marries the US, Canada, and Mexico.

    By now, I judge that most Americans (two-thirds, at least) realize that politicians are not doing the electorate’s bidding; legislators are doing the exact opposite of what the electorate wants. But realistically, I see no end to this. Anybody going to Washington will drink the Potomac kool-aid and become a zombie for world corporate colossus collusion. It may be the Titanic they are building, but we are going there first. An iceberg smashing it all is more likely than Vermont’s secession.

    I share Naylor’s disdain for Abe Lincoln. He’s the guy who came up with the recipe for Potomac kool-aid in the first place. As for me, I have to live around lots of people. Not only is rural living around Tiny Town (and other parts of Indiana) becoming too danged dangerous, you have to travel far (and expensively) for culture and even the basics of food and necessities.

  25. Can I buy a second drive and turn on RAID 1 after I have already been using the first drive in the pair?

    No. The drives have to be configured as a RAID pair, the initialized (FDISK), formatted, then the O/S installed.

    I see no real advantage to RAID for desktops. The hassles don’t justify the gain. Servers benefit where down time is not an option. Just put a second drive in the system and copy your files or clone your main disk drive every so often.

  26. OFD wrote:

    “…I got my first specs the following year, after which I got called “four-eyes” and “Professor.” This stopped in fifth grade after I grabbed the chief tormentor by the throat, bent him backwards over the hood of a car in the parking lot and began banging his head against it.”

    Yeah, I know about the bullying. No one said anything about my glasses, by the time I needed them I was, miraculously, in one of the three “good” classes in my year, filled with kids who were smart and wanted to learn. The 2-3 years before, when I was in mediocre classes, were quite different. When I was 14 I was deliberately tripped while playing handball on an asphalt surface and ended up with a fracture and my arm in a sling. I could easily have put the perp in hospital, but I’m not like that. I tended to avoid confrontations. I actually wish now that I’d taught him and some of the others a lesson like you did.

  27. “…President-elect Francois Hollande’s disdain for the rich.”

    Yeah, yet another rich librul hypocrite like the ones here; he owns three mansions in France, which is hard to credit when one has only been a political hack his whole life. Yet to hear them talk, you’d think they were all a combination of Jesus, Robin Hood and William Tell.

  28. “I grabbed the chief tormentor by the throat…”

    Yeah, it didn’t start out that way, but they ended up being good days. After about thirty seconds or so, his sidekick got behind me and managed to lock my arms long enough to make me let go. I dropped him (astounding what adrenaline/hysteric strength can do), but they were gone before I could get a new grip. He tried to regain his pride with a new campaign next day, but I started for him and he showed a real turn of speed. Never had any trouble all the rest (five years) of high school.

  29. RBT wrote:

    “If I want a small, light revolver, I carry my Rossi 720. Talk about a pocket cannon. It’s .44 Special and weighs 15 ounces. The first time Barbara fired it, she swore never again.”

    You have a M1911 don’t you? Why would you want any other handgun?

  30. You have a M1911 don’t you? Why would you want any other handgun?

    I tend to buy them, load them, and leave them lying around the house, in the vehicles, and so on.

    Actually, it’s not that bad. In addition to an M1911 or two, I have only the .44 revolver, two or three .357 revolvers, and two or three .22 pistols.

  31. Umm, haven’t you said that a .357 doesn’t have enough stopping power? I think you once said that only a .45 ACP, accurately placed, is guaranteed to put someone down for the count.

  32. Barbara is more comfortable with a .357 revolver than a .45 ACP automatic. I’m not particularly happy about the small, light bullet, but a .357 is definitely better than nothing. Also, I load her .357 Ruger with Black Talon or its later variants, Ranger SXT (Same eXact Thing) or PDX1, which is FBI standard issue. I’d still prefer she use the .357 only for practice and use a .45 ACP or .44 Special pistol for self-defense, but she’s just not comfortable with either caliber in a pistol of reasonable weight. (She will shoot .44 Special in a long-barrel S&W 29, but that’s much too big and heavy for carry use.)

    There are two schools about stopping power, what I call the “Cosmic BB” school, which holds that a small-caliber, light bullet at high velocity is decisive, and the “Flying Ashtray” school, which holds that a large-caliber, heavy bullet is the only way to go. I’m in the Flying Ashtray” group, which is the correct one. The Flying BB folks are delusional, as has been proven over and over and over in actual shootings. A .44 or .45 bullet stops someone about 19 times in 20. A .357/.38/9mm bullet stops someone about 10 times in 20, regardless of bullet weight or construction or the velocity.

    The Golden BB school, whose prophets are Marshall and Sanow, mistakenly consider muzzle energy significant. That, of course, is proportional to the square of the velocity, which gives velocity much too much emphasis. They believe that doubling the velocity of a particular bullet increases stopping power by a factor of 4, when in fact it might result in only a 10% boost, if that.

    What really matters, based on empiric evidence gathered from thousands of actual shootings, are the caliber (surface area) of the bullet, its mass, its velocity (unsquared), and its efficiency (i.e. shape; a wadcutter or other bullet with sharp edges disrupts tissue much more efficiently than a roundnose bullet). Mel Tappan suggested a rule-of-thumb calculation of W * A * V * E, where W is the mass of the bullet in grains, A is the surface area in square inches, V is the velocity in feet/sec, and E is the efficiency, from 0.9 or lower for roundnose bullets to maybe 1.25 for a full wadcutter. All of that divided by 1,000 to make it a nice 2-digit number.

    On that basis, the .45 ACP that I used to handload for carry had a stopping power of 230 grains X 0.161 square inches X 900 feet/sec X 0.9 / 1,000 = about 30. Conversely, the 115 grain 9mm rounds that M&S like so much calculate out as 115 grains X 0.100 X 1,200 feet/sec X 0.9 / 1,000 = about 12.4.

    And that correlates quite closely with reality, where a .45 ACP round (or .44 Special or similar) is about twice as likely to stop someone as that pathetic 9mm round. There’s a reason why our SEALS and other elite military forces still carry the old .45 M1911A1 instead of the current-issue 9mm POS.

    Incidentally, M&S also greatly overvalue hydrostatic shock (so-called). Problem is, that doesn’t really happen at practical pistol velocities. They also have a bizarre (which is a polite way of saying “fraudulent”) means of calculating “one-shot stops”

  33. I’m thinking that while she leaves the house more often, the chances of you two being separated during an attack is remote. Odds are anybody she shoots at with her
    Cosmic BB .357 will just have the hole widened shortly after by your .45 or shotgun slug. Or both.

  34. Thanks for all that information. I can’t even carry a popgun here. I used an air rifle back in the late Sixties, which is the sum total of my experience in this area.

  35. Well, Miles_Teg, should you find yourself in the same neck of the woods as any of the American regulars here, I’d guess we’d be delighted to take you out shooting. (That would be upstate New York for me, about 1 1/2 to 4 hours by train from New York City, depending on time of day and number of stops.)

    Failing that, allow me to point out that when you live in a police state (loosely defined as any nation in which the police are armed but the populace is not), one sure-fire way to obtain firearms of your own is from the police. Mugging is my preferred method, though I suppose you might prefer quiet theft.

  36. I think one of the favoured methods here in Oz was to steal them from security guards and gash delivery staff, on the basis that they were soft compared to the cops. Now their guns have orange coloured grips to make them more obvious and less saleable.

    Because Australians are so peaceloving and easygoing we don’t really need guns, although I’d probably buy some if they were legal for me and not horrendously expensive. There was one amazing case in a nearby town where someone had their guns seized by the cops for not keeping them securely enough, including having both the guns and the ammunition in separate gun safes. Unless this guy knew the bad guys were coming he’d probably be dead.

    I haven’t been to North America since 2003, although I’m tempted. One of my “strange” interests is nuclear tourism, so I’d like to visit Trinity Site, a decommissioned Titan II silo in AZ and a decommissioned Minuteman silo in (I think) SD. I’d also like to visit Alabama too so I can sit in cafes for a month or three and listen to the lovely accents of the Alabaman ladies… 🙂

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