In an ideal world (e.g., I win the lottery), I'd like to have a second generator, this one a diesel based on the slow-speed Lister engine, sort of like this.
Of course, what we're finding out now is that those expensive "options" on various systems that my Sweetie and I thought we could save a little money on come back to bite us in our collective butts. For example, a computerized monitoring system for the deep well…we thought, c'mon, you're just trying to separate us from what little money we have left! Wrong…when you have limited electricity, you must monitor everything…especially things you can't see, like a well pump.
We built a pretty bullet-proof water system, and not because we wanted to. The deep well, at 800 feet about 10 minutes from China, is low yield, even after fracking. So we decided to have the well feed 2 1250-gallon cisterns in the crawl space under the bunker, where the temperature is always above freezing. Water is drawn from Cistern A and pressurized, with Cistern B serving as a reserve. The pump and its depth in the well were chosen after consultation with both a groundwater specialist ("This guy knows everything about water in Colorado!" we were told…and he does) and a well service that has a lot of experience off-grid — most of the state is ranch land, and people who service the ranches have a lot of experience with wells in remote locations. Essentially, those experts helped us tailor the well for our usage and electrical system.
Because we don't use a lot of water and all appliances are low-water-use, the system works perfectly…but it could be ever more perfecter! For example (and take notes if you're doing this yourself), the ability to monitor/control the well so that it only kicks on during daylight hours, when the PV panels are pumping out the juice. Since right now we're running off a simple float switch, an untoward toilet flush in the middle of the night can be enough to trigger the well pump to replenish the cistern…which is hell on the batteries.
We're also going to be switching out the various other pumps, which are now pretty much the same jet pumps you'd buy at the hardware store, with ultrahigh efficiency pumps specifically designed for off-grid use...the difference is usually start-up "surge" voltage. If you're on the grid, you rarely — if ever — think about start-up surge, the fact that it takes more power for an electrical device when it starts up as opposed to when it's running. Start-ups hit the batteries darn hard, so when the compressor pumps kick on in the middle of the night, it's an issue.
So anyway, that's what I'm thinking about as the temperature crawls upward toward zero.
On other topics, here's a must-read piece from Variety (of all places) with an interview with sci-fi author David Brin. He famously wrote The Postman, a book I loved, that was fed into the Kevin Costner trash compactor (okay...I watched it again recently, and it wasn't as hellishly awful as I remembered...not compared to anything with Melissa McCarthy in it). But Brin's also know for his non-fiction work, The Transparent Society...here's a bit from the Variety piece:
The first lesson for everyone out of the recent attack on Sony, Brin says, is “Never absolutely count on anything being secret. Always act as if there’s a chance what you’re doing will be revealed.” He says that when he meets with government agencies, as science fiction writers and futurists are sometimes asked to do, he tells them: “In the short term you can protect your secrets. Tactical secrecy is perfectly reasonable, either by governments or corporations. But if you count on anything staying secret for more than ten years, that’s delusional on the border of psychosis.”
Things to think about — the camera is always watching!
I got a notice from Laura Burgess that IWI is going to be showing the Uzi PRO 9mm pistol and it's Sig-braced brother, the Uzu PRO Pistol SB, will be rolled out at SHOT in a few weeks. This from the presser:
The custom adaptation of the Stabilizing Brace to the UZI PRO SB takes the application of large frame pistol control and stabilization to a new level. With the IWI brace’s unique side-folding feature, the UZI PRO SB can be fired with or without the brace extended depending on the shooters need. With the brace in the folded position, storage space required in your safe or range bag is minimized.
Tell me it's not cool!
Given the FLOOD of interest in 9mm carbines and (braced) 9mm pistols — to wit, the Sig Sauer MPX, CZ Scorpion Evo, the 9mm AR variants for Colt and Glock magazines, etc. — this gun is a rocket. I've shot the Uzi PRO submachine gun, and it is unequivocally the best tiny buzz gun I've ever fired. Period! Including my original favorites, the origin .32 ACP Czech Skorpion vz. 61 and the Micro UZI, the direct predecessor of the Uzi PRO. And yes, I shot a magazine of .32s from the Skorpion with the little wire stock on my chin...you'd do it, too!
I ordered one today, because...FREEDOM!
I do have a larger question on the whole concept of braced handguns and where that's going. This article from Shooting Sports Retailer just before Christmas suggests that BATFE is trying to "walk back" their approval of the Sig SG-15 brace and its imitators:
In a response to Martin Ewer who submitted his design for the “Blade” AR Pistol Stabilizer, the Firearms Technology Branch told Ewer the Blade would not change the classification of the pistol to an NFA “firearm” as long as it “was used as originally designed and not as a shoulder stock.”
But the letter to Ewer seems to indicate the ATF plans to make certain uses of pistol stabilizing braces illegal, forecasting a tough fight for gun rights proponents and a major shock to an industry revolutionized by the SB15 brace.
That would be a major shock. I am at a loss to understand how use can change category. That is a very nasty swamp to wade into! The fundamental problem is that the SBR/SBS rules are simply nonsensical in the first place. As we all know (I think), the original 1934 Firearms Act was going to control all handguns as well as full auto guns. My understanding is that the concept of "short-barreled rifle" and "short barreled shotguns," that is, long guns that were concealable, were added almost as an afterthought. The thinking (insofar as anyone in the government actually thinks) was that with all handguns controlled through the same taxing system as machine guns, regulators wanted to lump in other concealable weapons.
When it became obvious that there was no political way to push the Firearm Act through with handguns included, pistols and revolvers were stripped out of the Act. SBR/SBS, however, remained in place. The definitions of a "short-barreled" anything were purely arbitrary (you can find the definitions here). There was nothing magical about the 16-inch limitation on rifle barrels of the 18-inch barrel length on shotguns (or the 26-inch overall length) — both rifles and shotguns had been routinely cataloged with shorter barrels and shorter overall lengths.
Changing firearms technology and modern modular weapons systems have rendered the entire SBR/SBS/AOW system both untenable and, as I said earlier, nonsensical. Tell me with a straight face that my totally legal, imminently concealable Ruger Alaskan .454 is "less lethal" than a short-barreled .22 rifle. A vertical foregrip on an AR pistol makes it an illegal weapon (without the Stamp, of course) but a MagPul hand stop is a handy accessory? A shotgun must have an 18-inch barrel unless you add first a bird's head pistol grip to a smoothbore pistol that has never had a stock attached, like the Mossberg, then add 14-inch barrel, which brings the overall length to more than 26 inches, thus changing what is apparently a shotgun into a "firearm," now not an NFA controlled weapon.
Also remember that in the Supreme Court "Miller" case, repeatedly cited as a validation that the 1934 Act did not trample on the Second Amendment, hinged on the idea that Miller's short-barreled shotgun was not a weapon in common use by the military (not true, but hey). How does that argument apply today with the standard issue U.S. military rifle has a 14-inch barrel?
So the Sig brace threw a massive steaming turd in Ye Old Punchbowl, and we still have no idea how it's going to settle out. In truth, the necessary (with exceptions, e.g. the Rock River piston gun) buffer tube on AR pistols allow the gun to be shouldered if necessary. I refer you to this excellent article by Gabe Suarez.
I have no idea how this is going to play out. I know how it should play out — SBR/SBS should be removed from the NFA (preferably at the same time suppressors mov ed down to AOW or are removed as well). The likelihood of that actually happening is somewhere between "nil" and "nonexistent."