Note to Self

Using brake cleaner to clean a gun can often help get carbon and other gunk from crevices where q-tips can’t reach. It’s also excellent at removing all oils, grease, and other petroleum products from metal.
In that regard, it’s very handy.
On the other hand, when the spatter and overspray from the nozzle happens to land on — and partially dissolve — the vinyl cover one’s wife put on the patio table to keep away dust, it’s a bit more of a liability.

Fun with UPS

Last week, I ordered a case of ammo from Ammoman. It shipped on-time, and was out for delivery on Friday when the tracking page reported “THE APARTMENT NUMBER IS MISSING OR IS INCORRECT. UPS IS ATTEMPTING TO OBTAIN THIS INFORMATION.”
Odd. I called up UPS, and they had the wrong apartment number. They tried delivering to #ABCD instead of #ACBD (( Numbers masked to protect the guilty. )) Thinking that was weird, I checked the invoice from Ammoman. Turns out that I fat-fingered the keyboard when I had entered my order, and the wrong apartment number was in my order, which was dutifully provided by Ammoman’s shipping department to UPS. Oops.
“No problem”, I thought, “UPS would surely understand that typos occur, and allow me to simply correct this mistake over the phone.”
Alas, it was not to be; the sender is the only one who can change the delivery address, even when such a change is minor.
I call up Ammoman, get their after-hours sales guy, who informs me that the ladies in shipping have just left for the long weekend. I explained the situation, asked nicely, and he agreed that he’d give UPS a call. In fact, he did more — he called one of the ladies from shipping who was only a minute or two away, and she came back to call UPS. Fantastic.
After work, I checked UPS’s tracking system again, to find that the system reflected an address change. To double-check that everything was in order, I called UPS. Evidently Ammoman provided the correct apartment number, but UPS screwed up, and simply removed the apartment number from the delivery address. Somehow, I suspect my condo’s management office won’t know what to do with a case of 5.56mm NATO.
UPS insisted they couldn’t do anything, as the shipper needed to make the call. I explained that the shipper had made the call, even after they had closed, and UPS screwed it up. I politely insisted that it’d be much easier all around if they simply corrected the address and attempted to deliver again today (after all, it was still on the truck and they can wireless update the driver’s tablet). After some time on hold, they said it’d be impossible.
“Fine”, I said, “just have the local depot hold the parcel for pickup, and I’ll get it tonight before I fly out to a friend’s wedding.” The agent says she’ll try.
The agent calls the local depot and, sounding excited, announces that they’ve been able to update the address, and they’ll deliver the package on Tuesday! What, Tuesday doesn’t work for me, because I work in Tucson and won’t be in town to pick it up until the next Friday? I wanted it held? Oh, I’m sorry, that’s impossible; after the sender made the change of address, there’s no way for them to hold the package.
I explained that attempting re-delivery would be futile, and it’d be much simpler to just hold it for pickup, and would they please call the local depot to ask if they’d do it. After another interminable delay on hold (frequently interrupted by the agent apologizing for being on hold — I don’t care about waiting, it’s fine, don’t bother coming back on the line unless you have something informative to say), they said the local depot would hold the package and, in fact, would call me directly to make sure they got everything straight.
A short while later, the depot called and everything seems to be in order. They’ll hold it until next Monday, and my wife (( I’m still getting used to saying that. )) said she’d stop by sometime after work (she works in the same town where we live, and can stop by the UPS depot later in the week) to pick up the ammo.
Moral of the story: check your address prior to submitting an order. Spending 10 seconds to check that everything’s correct beats 30 minutes on hold with UPS. The local depots are considerably more flexible in dealing with various issues than the corporate call-center people. Also, Ammoman’s shipping ladies are awesome. I should send them flowers.

Sale on Prvi M855

Ammoman sent out an email saying they have a special sale on Prvi M855. $349/1000 (shipping is included) is a pretty decent price — normally I’ve seen it sell for over $400/1000, without shipping, from other merchants.
I’m a big fan of Prvi’s M193, but have been looking for M855 for a while, and snapped up a case while it was available.
Update: D’oh. AIM Surplus has it for even cheaper, even with shipping taken into account. Of course, I discover this after I place the order at Ammoman. Live and learn.

NBC special on “youth violence”

NBC was showing a program called “America Now: Faces Against Violence” that depicted the people involved with trying to reduce violent crime in Chicago.
I was intrigued that they really focused on “gun violence”, and many of the discussions involved complaints about “easy access to guns” rather than a profusion of violent criminals.
I commented to my wife that we have incredibly easy access to guns in our condo (( the holstered gun on my waist, two old revolvers in a case on the coffee table, and a pile of long guns in the closet )), yet we’re not even remotely prone to violence (( Though we do take MarioKart for Wii quite seriously )). Clearly, there’s more contributing to violent crime than simple access to firearms.
The parts of Chicago they were discussing had serious issues with gangs, drugs, and economic depression. I suspect these issues are a bit more important than bad guys getting guns. Take the guns away, and the gangs will use knives, rocks, or boards with a nail through it. Get rid of the gangs, and violent crime goes away. Funny how that works. I truly respect and admire those who are willing to guide vulnerable youth on the good path, away from violence and gangs.
I’m also quite happy that the law-abiding people in Chicago have had the most egregious restrictions overturned, and are able to (even though they need to jump through some hoops) own firearms for their own defense. Hopefully the remaining infringements will be overturned shortly, without the need for time-consuming legal battles.

Import oddness?

Sebastian comments on the impediments that the government is putting up to limit the importation of surplus M1s from South Korea.
I’m a bit confused, because the M1 that I bought in 2005 from the CMP was one the US had loaned the Greek government, prior to its return. I’d imagine that things would be similar with Korea. The CMP has been selling M1s to the public for decades without incident (( To the extent of my knowledge. )), so why would a government official think it’d be an issue now? I’m presuming that any M1s imported from Korea would go through the CMP or, at the very least, through an FFL — why would concerns about the guns ending up in the hands of bad guys be any different for these fine rifles than with any other type of gun?
If anything, you’d think it’d be a good thing for criminals to have M1s: they’re large, difficult to conceal, require a bit of training to use effectively (( For example, reloading quickly. )), are incredibly loud, have a limited, non-expandable ammunition capacity, and shoot relatively expensive .30-06 ammo.
They’d better not be cut up, crushed, or melted. M1s are fantastic rifles, and I would be hugely put out if they destroyed them.

Joe on Mobile Crypto

The Saudi and UAE governments are thinking of banning certain services on BlackBerry phones, as theyare encrypted and communicate to foreign systems.
Joe reminds us that while encrypted communications can be used for nefarious purposes, they can also be used for good. Phil Zimmermann, inventor of the common encryption software PGP feels the same way.
Indeed, they are used for good far more than for evil, and their use is almost ubiquitous: essentially any site that deals with personal or financial information is SSL-encrypted. Gmail uses SSL by default, and now even Google Search is available over SSL. Most instant-messaging clients use SSL between the client and server, and Skype uses transparent, end-to-end encryption for all voice, video, and chat messages, as well as file transfers.
In a way, crypto is not unlike firearms (( Even the government considers certain cryptosystems to be munitions, and restricts their export, although the restrictions have been considerably lessened in my lifetime.)) : it can be used by bad guys plotting dastardly deeds, but its benefits to society are considerably greater than its drawbacks.
In fact, I consider strong crypto to go hand-in-hand with free speech: being able to speak privately (and, on a related note, anonymously) is one of the strongest foundations of liberty. I hold this believe so strongly that I regularly use and encourage others to use strong crypto in their everyday lives. For those wishing to contact me securely, my PGP key is available here. One can also send me an S/MIME-signed message and I will reply with a signed+encrypted message.