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COVID-19 Update 2

As I touched on briefly a couple weeks ago, we are all in this together and I thought I would talk briefly about what is going on in my life and neck of the woods when it comes to the whole Mexican beer flu (aka Coronavirus, COVID-19, Wu-Tang Clan flu, et. al).

My family and I have been social distancing by and large and, being away from the large “hot spots” have remained under a soft quarantine for the past couple weeks. I’ve canceled all my upcoming travel– with work trips to Minnesota and Tennessee scrubbed– and have barely put 100~ miles on my truck in the past two weeks.

The few trips I have made outside of the homestead are to touch base with a few friends in small (sub-8-person) groups, even then maintaining a good 2-meter distance from each other and talking outside in the drive/yard without touching anything. I proctored a 5K race make-up with six runners in a local club along the beach.

Most importantly, I have remained away from the big boxes and the crowds of scarecrows looking for TP.

I’ve responded to calls from friends for guns and/or ammunition, passing on three of the former and about 1,000 rounds of the latter to a variety of folks with concerns who have been confronted with empty store shelves. I’ve likewise done the same with extra venison from the freeze.

Lysol on doorknobs and surfaces, putting mail and delivered packages in a three-day quarantine of its own before opening, washing my hands 10x a day, using mouthwash after every conversation, nobody outside of the family inside the house, keeping up with my daily vitamin and supplement dosing to keep my immune system up, and the like have been the rule.

As far as work goes, I’ve passed on to the other editors that we still need to cover gun news but also to provide entertainment as there are millions of people stuck inside these days. We have responded with gun quizzes, TP in the wild photoshoots, classic gun coloring sheets, Glock word searches, and fun shooting videos. 

As many recent new gun buyers are apparently first-time gun owners, we have also repeatedly touched on gun safety tips in the past couple of weeks.

For reference, via the NSSF, should you feel the need to share:

Been working on my Victory Garden. I recommend everyone with the ability do the same, as this isn’t going to be over tomorrow.

Speaking of veggies, one thing I have stumbled upon is the fact that the local produce vendor has been stuck with a double whammy that they have to continue to accept contracted deliveries of fruits and vegetables while the restaurants they have traditionally supplied have all but shut their doors.

That leaves them with pallets of perishable produce and no buyers. A quick call to said vendor produced the below for $10, curbside service included.

I do believe I will keep heading back every week or so for such deals. Remember, shy away from veggies or fruits you cannot either peel, wash (most detergent-based soaps can also be used on food and rinsed with lots of water) or heat (to 149F for three minutes at least).

Stay safe out there guys, and remember to have fun.

Has everyone just hit the panic button on prepping?

Excuse me while I drag out the soapbox.

As a guy who ran a Y2K website 20+ years ago, penned zombie books (shameless plug) and have spent 40~ years living in a hurricane zone, I like to keep a stockpile of non-perishables on hand just in case. In short, if you don’t have 90 days worth of non-perishables on-hand even in good times then you just aren’t “adulting.” My grandmother, who grew up in the Depression in Weimar Germany and survived the leanest years of WWII, later became something of a “hamsterkauf,” socking away canned goods and cured/smoked meats on the regular. Open a cabinet to get a towel and you had to move sausages out of the way.

With that in mind, visiting my local big boxes for standard weekly shopping this week I was blown away by the panic buying I witnessed over the upcoming possibility of having to self-quarantine for the next 14-to-21 days in response to the COVID-19/Coronavirus scare.

Folks, jamming yourself into tight areas to queue for things that aren’t there is just a bad idea when it comes to catching a virus. Just think rationally, pardon the pun. Panic is always a mistake.

Furthermore, people are stocking up on the wildest stuff. Shopping carts full of TP, cans of garbage Chef Boyardee meals full of salt and preservatives, bags of over-sugared cereals and Pop-Tarts. People fighting over $7 packs of vanity napkins.

Meanwhile, the produce department has stacks of untouched long-lasting veggies like spaghetti/acorn squash, carrots, potatoes and onions along with fruits packed with natural sugars like apples– none of which have to be refrigerated. Likewise, nuts and raisins are untouched. Shelves of tinned fish products like sardines and herring are packed. Rice and beans left behind. These are the kind of staples people should have on hand.

The concept of flattening the curve of infection— simply limiting the rate of new cases to a level the healthcare system can match– is sound. After all, on any normal day, some 80 percent of the ventilators in circulation are already hooked up to a patient and the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) only has 4,000 of those vital machines in reserve. Hopefully, the next few weeks will be enough to break the cycle and let people get back to being addicted to Instagram while they wait in line for a pink drink.

With that, and the fact that the two upcoming trips I had booked for late March and Mid-April are canceled, have me all-in on “social distancing” and becoming largely a shut-in for the next few weeks.

I’ll start working on the fresh stuff and freezer full of deer roasts and feral hog sausage just in case the power grid gets iffy later on in this crisis while I work on my usual garden for the Spring.

I think I will at least double the size of my plot this year.

You guys be safe.

The naval formations of the future will likely look nothing like they do today

I just watched this really informative and thought-provoking 1~hour long lecture from Capt. Jeff Kline, USN (Ret.), professor of practice, operations research, at the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, Calif.

Then I watched it again.

The subject: Naval Warfare in the Robotics Age.

Check it out

Meet the USAF’s new bailout gun

The USAF Aircrew Self Defense Weapon shown together, top, and taken down, bottom:

USAF Aircrew Self Defense Weapon together and taken down hr

(Photos: USAF)

The ASDW must stow inside a 16 x 14 x 3.5-inch ejection seat compartment. The guns get that small due to the use of an M4 style collapsible stock, flip-up backup iron sights, an Israeli FAB Defense AGF-43S folding pistol grip, and a Cry Havoc Tactical Quick Release Barrel (QRB) kit. The barrel is reportedly the standard 14.5-inch M4 model, although I have my doubts and looks more like an 11.5-incher.

More in my column at Guns.com.

You failed to maintain your weapon, son

Public Service Announcement: This unidentifiable semi-auto handgun came into a shop in Michigan recently, unable to fire.

I wonder why?

After an overnight soak and full disassembly, it was returned to service. The baggie of debris is what had to be scraped away.

A little regular maintenance can work wonders. Also, be sure not to get too crazy with the lube, as it drags lint, dandruff, cat hair, et. al down from the surface into the inner regions of a gun’s action, and can leave you after a while with an unsat condition.

 

The country’s one-and-only polar icebreaker made it back home (barely)

Seattle saw the reappearance of “Building 10,” the common designation of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star (WAGB-10), as she returned this week to her homeport after an epic 105-day deployment to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze, the 63rd year for the annual mission to supply McMurdo Station in Antarctica.

This place:

Forget what you have heard about no more ice: Upon arrival in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, Polar Star still had to break through 16.5 nautical miles of ice, six to ten feet thick, in order to open a channel to the pier for supply ships to follow.

As the vessel is 43-years-young and has seen lots of hard service (she rams icebergs on purpose) things did not go as planned along the 11,200-mile sortie.

From the Coast Guard:

During the transit to Antarctica, one of the ship’s electrical systems began to smoke, causing damage to wiring in an electrical switchboard, and one of the ship’s two evaporators used to make drinkable water failed. The electrical switchboard was repaired by the crew, and the ship’s evaporator was repaired after parts were received during a port call in Wellington, New Zealand.

The impact from ice operations ruptured the cutter’s centerline shaft seal, allowing water to flood into the ship. Ice breaking operations ceased so embarked Coast Guard and Navy Divers could enter the water to apply a patch outside the hull so Polar Star’s engineers could repair the seal from inside the ship. The engineers donned dry suits and diver’s gloves to enter the 30-degree water of the still slowly flooding bilge to effect the vital repairs. They used special tools fabricated onboard to fix the leaking shaft seal and resume ice breaking operations.

The Polar Star also experienced ship-wide power outages while breaking ice in McMurdo Sound. Crew members spent nine hours shutting down the ship’s power plant and rebooting the electrical system in order to remedy the outages.

On Feb. 10, the crew spent nearly two hours extinguishing a fire in the ship’s incinerator room while the ship was approximately 650-nautical-miles north of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. The fire damaged the incinerator and some electrical wiring in the room was damaged by fire fighting water. There were no personnel injuries or damage to equipment outside the space. Repairs to the incinerator are already scheduled for Polar Star’s upcoming inport maintenance period.

Sheesh.

And keep in mind that for at least one pay period while underway the crew went without the eagle flying due to the lapse in appropriations.

The good news is, the Coast Guard is seeking to pick up six new polar icebreakers and the FY19 budget actually appropriated $655 million to begin construction of a new “polar security cutter” this year, with another $20 million appropriated for long-lead-time materials to build a second. So they may actually get two out of the planned six when all is said and done.

Hopefully, Polar Star can hold out till then.

Also, did I mention the Russians have 50 icebreakers?

What is an SCW and how is it changing the new guns on the market?

Last June, the U.S. Army tapped first 10 and then a total of 13 companies for what it termed “Sub Compact Weapons.” These guns, “capable of engaging threat personnel with a high volume of lethal and accurate fires at close range with minimal collateral damage,” were to be used by the military’s Personal Security Details, special teams tasked with protecting high-value officers and dignitaries such as the SACEUR and the commander of U.S. Forces Korea– each likely an endangered species in the hours prior to the balloon going up in those regions.

The Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun of U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Samuel Caines, assigned to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe Security Detachment, ejects a bullet casing at the Training Support Center Benelux 25-meter indoor range in Chièvres, Belgium, Oct. 22, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Pierre-Etienne Courtejoie/Released)

Well, that didn’t work out and the Army trimmed the field a bit in September with a tough series of requirements (a weapon shorter than 15-inches overall when stowed but still ready to fire in such a position, weight less than 5-pounds, etc) and just six companies were able to get in on that. While a small contract, likely to run 350 to 1,000 guns, the bragging rights to replace the long-standard HK MP5 would be huge.

While little details about what models were ultimately submitted for review by the Army, several new SCW-ish guns were in the aisles of the 41st annual SHOT Show in Las Vegas last week, and they are pretty swag.

More in my column at Guns.com.

 

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