Thursday, January 26, 2012

Gay Pride, Gun Pride

by Robert W. Hunnicutt  January 24, 2012

There was rumor going around the SHOT Show this year that the Pink Pistols, a gay 2nd Amendment group, would have a stand. That proved not to be the case, so far as I could tell, but it did raise a question.
What do gay rights and gun rights have in common? More than you might think, I would say.
Gay activists and gun activists have, in a similar time frame, both piled up a long list of notable legal and political victories.
We won the Heller v. D.C. (2008) case before the Supreme Court, striking down the District of Columbia handgun ban. Similarly, the high court struck down laws against consensual sodomy in Lawrence v. Texas (2003).
Every state but Illinois now has some level of legal concealed carry, and concealed carry rights are continually being expanded. The list of states that recognize gay marriage or civil unions continues to grow, and no realist can deny that ultimately, the whole country will have them. Homosexuals can now serve openly in the armed services, and in most places can adopt children.
Whether all that’s good or bad you can argue deep into the night, but you can’t fail to notice that gun rights and gay rights have burgeoned at the same time. And that’s not an accident, though I am confident it has been a big surprise to many.
To use a pompous academic term, homosexuality and gun ownership were both until recently “transgressive” personal choices that challenged established social norms. Being gay may have been more transgressive in Yazoo City, Miss. and owning a gun more so in Cambridge, Mass., but both were on the fringes 50 years ago.
Social norms, whether about race, marriage, sexuality, childrearing, dress, language or workplace relations, have been demolished since those days, and that demolition has been regarded as a great thing by those of progressive mindset.
What they failed to appreciate was that social norms are of a piece, and if you demolish them in the area of personal sexuality, you’re tearing them down just as much when it comes to personal defense. You can’t let some people off the chain and keep others chained.
If you say that gays have the right to seek personal fulfillment, you can’t then say that gun owners have no such right. Personal possibilities can’t be expanded in just one direction; they spread out unpredictably, like paint surging out of a spilled can.
Somewhere along the line, gun owners decided to get loud and proud. I can promise you, having worked there for 20 years, that idea didn’t come from the NRA. It also didn’t come from the gun industry, which until very recently, didn’t really want black guns at the SHOT Show.
Gun owners got loud and proud quite on their own, one bumper sticker or T-shirt or viral video at a time, and they may have learned how, at least in part, from guys cavorting on parade floats, dressed like the Village People.
Just as there are flamboyant gay icons like Elton John or the ice skater Johnny Weir, we have our own outrageous figures like Ted Nugent or Toby Keith. A society that tolerates the one has to tolerate the other. We worry a lot about political correctness, but the truth of the matter is that popular culture has probably never been more wide-open, at both extremes of the political spectrum.
TV fare like Modern Family features homosexual characters, portrayed in a positive light, while cable TV is full of gun-related shows like Sons of Guns or Top Shot. Were either of them imaginable in the 1960s, or even the 1980s?
So I would argue that the general expansion of personal possibilities has expanded possibilities for us, too. And that’s a good, thing, no matter how you may feel about Liza Minelli. It may not be easy to see or accept, but there’s a straight line connecting the guy in the assless chaps to you in your “Infidel” T-shirt. Both of you drive some people nuts, and both of you are freer to be who you want to be than ever before.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How to Get Emergency 120 Volt AC Power Anywhere


    • 1
      If you want some standard house power (120 volt 60Hz AC power) out in the woods or something, you'll need to do this whole process ahead of time before you leave. Otherwise you can actually wait for a storm to hit or whatever and then do it but it's a good idea to do it ahead of time anyway because one of the steps is to go to your local car battery selling location and buy a battery or two. If they're out of power, they're probably not open for business so you should probably pick up the gear ahead of time.
    • 2
      Before you go battery shopping though, first you need to know what type and how many to buy. So first, make a list of what you'll need to power. Keep it limited to what you absolutely need. If you can get behind your refrigerator to the plug, then that's probably a good one but I'll warn you right now, it probably will need more power than you can supply using this method.
    • 3
      Once you have your list, find the power requirements of the devices on your list. Most devices will list the watts or amps on a black plate where the power cord enters the device. You need the watts so if is say 0.8A that's 0.8 amps which means you need to multiply it by 120 volts to get the wattage. So that would be a 96 watt device. Now add up all the values. Let's say you have a 100 watt lamp and 800 watt mini-air conditioner, and 60 watt laptop you want to run. That would be 960 watts total. Keep that number in mind for shopping.
    • 4
      Now the question is, do you need one or ten batteries? Well, it depends how many watts you'll be using and for how long. Batteries are rated in amp hours and you have watts. But that's no problem. Batteries run at 12 volts so divide your total watts from before by 12. My example of the 960 watt total would mean I need 80 amps. One single car battery can usually output over 700 amps so the actual current isn't an issue. How long the batteries will last before running out is the real problem. Most car batteries are around 100 amp hours which means it can last 1 hour if something is pulling 100 amps and then it would be empty. Or it can run something at 1 amp for 100 hours or 25 amps for 4 hours. So as you calculate, add batteries in groups of 100 amp hours just as a rough estimate.
    • 5
      I could power my 960 watt example for just over an hour. Well I want to use it all day so I'd either need to buy A LOT of car batteries or switch out the air conditioner for a 200 watt fan instead. Also take into account usage. If you're only going to use your fan for half the day or keep it at half speed, count it as half the watts or amps. So if you need to just run 200 watts, it will be drawing 17 amps so one car battery could run it for (100AH divided by 17 amps equals) 5.8 hours before the battery runs out.
    • 6
      Before you set the amps estimate in stone though, remember that most devices, especially electronics, pull less than they say they do. So you can cut a little bit off that estimate. You'll also turn everything off if you have to leave for a short time so it will last longer that way too. With a final estimate of 10 amps total needed over two days for example, I'd probably only buy 2 car batteries even though 10 amps for 12 hours a day times two days is 240AH and 3 batteries would be 300AH. If you hate math and numbers and estimating, you can just buy one or two batteries and run them until they're empty too. That or go get one out of your car when the others run out but that will reset your clock and radio settings and possibly even stored settings like air/fuel mixes and automatic shifting settings. It won't break anything in your car though to leave it without a battery so if it comes to that, do it.
    • 7
      As for which battery to buy, it really doesn't matter so go cheap. It's not worth it to get some high end batteries from a good brand name. The only fancy feature you should look for are deep cycle batteries (commonly used in marine/boating systems) because they maintain 12 volts for longer instead of slowly fading. If you can't find any, a normal battery will work fine though. At Walmart they have very cheap batteries. In fact, last I saw they have a riding lawn mower battery for just $20! It's at least half the capacity of a car battery but you might be able to find a car battery for $40 so you might as well go for the full sized one. You can also get generic ones from hardware stores for cheap. So according to your estimate or according to your budget, buy as many batteries as you need.
    • 8
      Here's the rest of the shopping list while you're there. If you don't have a set or two of jumper cables, you'll need one pair for every extra battery you buy in order to connect them to each other. So if you buy 3 batteries, you'll need one pair of cables. If you buy 5, you'll need 4. Now that you have the power, you need the device that will turn it from 12 volt DC to 120 volts AC. If you know electronics, you already know that that's called an inverter. Walmart and some hardware stores, won't have a good enough equipment. They rarely if ever have an inverter that can supply more than 400 watts. According to your estimation in step 3, that may be enough but more than likely, you'll need 800 watts or even 1600 watts. Be aware that running 750 watts on an 800 watt inverter will often set off the alarm and/or shut it off so don't cut it too close. An 800 watt inverter usually won't be able to run any household heater or any hairdryer so you may want to go bigger. Luckily, most auto part stores have 800 and 1600 watt inverters in stock at all times. Advance Auto Parts for sure has them and most other chains do too. Occasionally I see some at hardware stores too so do look around.
    • 9
      So you've got the batteries, the jumper cables to link them together, and a properly capable inverter. Now just make sure you have a power strip if necessary and that's about all you need. To hook it all together, plug the power strip into the inverter and keep it switched off. There should be jumper cable clamps on cables attached to rings that screw into terminals on the inverter so attach those. Clamp them onto the battery terminals with the black cable to negative and red to positive, or as marked if they're not color coded. The connect any other batteries, positive to positive and negative to negative, with the jumper cables for any other batteries. If you accidentally cross them to opposite terminals, you'll melt the jumper cables. The order should be battery, jumper cables, battery, jumper cables, etc, then battery, inverter hookup cables, and inverter, all linked together with all the negatives together and all the positives together.
    • 10
      Now just flip the inverter on and it should be supplying power. If it sounds like it's on, plug something inexpensive and simple into the power strip like a lamp, not a computer. If the lamp turns on, then everything is working and you can add the rest of your appliances as needed. Just remember the capacity and time limit. If you hear an alarm-like noise or everything shuts off, you overloaded the inverter by pulling too much power at one time or the batteries are close to running out. Most inverters will work down to an extremely low 10.4 volts though and car batteries don't get that low until they're extremely depleted.
    • 11
      Now enjoy being the only one on the block with lights and TV and video games and computers and whatever else. Your TV will turn on but cable TV probably won't work. Satellite TV probably will if you can also power your dish if necessary. Broadcast TV through an antenna might work if the power isn't out at the transmission tower. DSL internet has a small chance of working because of the way the phone infrastructure was set up but cable probably won't. Either way, modems barely take up any power so you might as well try. Just remember to use the power sparingly and be very careful not to short out the terminals or disconnect them from the inverter. And finally, get your hands on a car battery recharger when the power comes back on and recharge all the batteries.

Read more: How to get emergency 120 volt AC power anywhere |

Thursday, January 19, 2012

15 Tales of Survival

Entertaining, if brief, little summaries of some fantastic survival stories.

Joe Simpson and Simon Yates attempted to scale the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. In the midst of a blizzard, Simpson fell and broke his leg leaving it to Yates to get the duo down to safety. Yates lowered them bit-by-bit until their anchor slipped and left them dangling precariously. After a silent hour of deliberation, Yates presumed Simpson to be dead and cut his rope. Simpson fell onto an ice brige below where despite massive injury, dehydration and hypothermia, he managed to crawl five miles over the course of three days where he was reunited with Yates at base camp.