That’s Just The Way It Goes: A Primer

I haven’t sprung fighter jets from nuclear-powered ships off Minorca, but over a couple of years working in clinical medicine I’ve collected stories and thoughts that have stuck with me, and I am reminded of them from time-to-time in different, often subtle ways.  Some stories, undoubtedly, should be left where they are, and shoved into my brain’s trashcan.  They are often graphic, often sad, sometimes funny.  But they are true.

It is normal in large hospitals (I cannot speak to small ones, I’ve never worked in one and try to avoid visiting any type when and where possible) to have ED Technicians. No, no…they aren’t there to cure the occasional case of erectile dysfunction, the emergency it is; they are Emergency Department Technicians, and in my hospital they were always an EMT or Paramedic who has chosen to work in a clinical setting rather than in the more traditional field role, on an ambulance.  On the inside, what the common public refers to as the ER, we call the ED where there are many rooms and if you showed up and said you’re looking for the emergency room, we’d ask which of our 70+ rooms you were needing, exactly.  Which we’re really busy, so speak up…

Still, that was me.  The ED Tech.  An ED Tech.  There were a bunch of us, and we were denoted by our royal blue scrubs.  Many of us were transitioning to higher roles in medicine: some to the fire service, some to med school, many to nursing.  I began as the former, though my path has changed and now finds me away from it completely.  Still, it’s nice to know your correspondent, izzinit?

Our job was to be the Jack of all trades: to provide ancillary critical care and all the rest, from holding down patients during procedures (children don’t generally take well to IV needles and sutures and wound debridement, etc., and we’re trained to hold them down without hurting them or exposing them to more harm from the very procedures intended to help them) to blood draws for labs, point-of-care tests (pregnancy hCG, rapid strep, hemoccult, etc.), orthopedics (mostly splints as casting in the ED shortly after an acute injury won’t properly allow for swelling and has a higher risk of compartment syndrome), and chest compressions and other support during traumas and resuscitations (what we would refer to as a Trauma or Code, respectively).  There’s a lot of other crap we do as well, but this is just a general overview.

Each Level 1 trauma center (Level 1 being the highest designation, meaning it is staffed at all times by a team capable of providing services to all traumatic injuries or life-threatening events) has a dedicated team for every shift.  The tech (in our department called the “D” tech, for his position during a trauma/code; “A” being the Trauma Nurse Lead, “B” the chart nurse, etc.) generally has one of two roles: to get the Zoll defibrillator pads onto the patient after he or she is moved from the gurney to the bed and then trade off providing chest compressions, or to help the TNL with IVs (“lines”) and labs.  From there a tech will be the one to push the bed to the next destination, often CT, and help with moving the patient.  Again, jack of all trades.  Do what is asked, and try to anticipate what your nurses and other staff will need.  If you don’t know what you’re being asked for, speak up and/or find someone who does.  Often, though, Techs are a go-to source for finding items.  Me?  I’m good at delegating, which in a pinch can make up for not being a subject-matter expert.  Don’t know?  Find someone who does.

Most of the day-to-day is mundane and largely thankless, and the 12 hours of a shift can swing from one end of the crazy-fun spectrum to the other in an instant, and then back again.  Each day is different, most days kinda suck, but they are littered with brief moments of sheer adrenaline and hope, often followed by a heartache that each person experiences differently.  I’ve seen nurses cry during events, or immediately after, and I’ve seen some get angry; I’ve felt absolutely sick by what we saw, and other times felt nothing at all.  Sometimes it takes hours, days, weeks, or even months to feel something about a particular case, and other times it never comes up again.

That’s just the way it goes.

C|P

Formula One Legends: Jim Clark

There were few things I craved more as a child than speed, competition, and a sense of ever-present danger.  Incidentally, none of those desires have devolved much in the time since, having found but different avenues of exploration.

Bike crashes were the norm growing up, as were visits to the ER; so frequent were the visits that at one point my parents were questioned by Child Services under suspicion of abuse.  I’ve had stitches (thrice – narrowly avoiding a fourth time by having my eyebrow pieced together with super glue), my jaw wired shut after being crushed by a tractor, my gums split open twice and teeth knocked loose once, and two titanium plates and twelve screws in my right forearm.  I’m also pretty sure I now have a tear in my left knee. C’est la vie.

Just the same – thanks in part to the aforementioned desires and largely to a favorite daily-reader, Silodrome – Formula One has recently captured my attention.  It is fraught with what I love – speed, cars, innovation, danger, great style and championship – and has a history that is purely fascinating.

One of the greatest F1 drivers of all time comes from an early period of the sport, beginning his career in the decade following the War.  Jim Clark was in many regards different than other drivers.  His path to the sport was unconventional, his spirit indomitable, and he was considered by friend and foe alike, while fierce, a gentleman racer.

His involvement in a deadly crash early in his career provided an experience and guilt that would stick with Clark for the rest of his life.  Eventually, he was, like many great drivers of the era, killed in his prime, leaving behind an astounding legacy with 25 wins on 33 pole positions and 72 Grand Prix starts.

Feel free to have a look for yourself at Jim Clark: The Quiet Champion

(Thanks to BBC and Silodrome)

Supercharged: Grand Prix Cars 1924-1939

This is a short film (50 minutes) highlighting the technological development of Grand Prix cars from 1924 to the beginning of the Second World War.  Any interest in motor sports will be livened by this.

Heads up: some accidents shown are graphic in nature, including possible fatalities.

(Hat-tip to Silodrome)

EDC: Glock 17

This Glock came to me in June 2013 as a standard 3rd Generation Glock 17 complete with the stock plastic sights, plain as they come.  Its exact birth date I can’t recall at the moment, but sometime in 2012 is a close enough guess.

ImageJust a plain-jane Gen3 Glock 17 9mm. (photo borrowed)

I knew before I purchased it that it would go for a Cerakote paint job – Patriot Brown the chosen flavor – and the week following its arrival at my door it took a trip to Washington.  In the meantime, I took the slide to get a pair of night sights put on.  I scooped the only pair I was familiar with – Meprolight TruDot – after having bought my first Glock (a Gen2 G19 that I still regret trading) with the same set attached.  I would later switch sights, but they served their purpose for the time.

A few weeks after sending it off (and more than a week after I was told it would be finished), the frame came back….Patriot Brown! OD Green.  Now, if you’re like me and have had poor eyesight your entire life – and sometimes just flat out don’t trust your eyes – perhaps you could convince yourself that this is brown, and I tried my damnedest (yes that’s a real word).  It wasn’t until the GF said “Ooooo I like the green!” that I had to sit down and do some investigating…apparently my eyes weren’t making this stuff up!

ImageThat’s brown…right?!

Still, it wasn’t until I met up several months later with a friend of mine who had done his own Glock frames in Patriot Brown that I had the chance for a direct comparison of the two colors.  Below: (Top) Patriot Brown G19, (Bottom) My OD Green G17.

ImageAs you can see, they are two distinct colors.  On the bottom is my OD G17, on top the Patriot Brown G19.

At this point, I had a some options.  The first was to contact the gentleman who had initially done the wrong work and see if there was a remedy or refund available.  I felt, however, that a refund was unlikely given I had waited several months to say anything (never mind not having had opportunity for a direct comparison during that time), and I really didn’t have the stomach to pay round-trip shipping again and not have my pistol for another 2-3 weeks, all the while hoping he understood me this time and I would have what I wanted.  That coupled with the fact that my friend has the necessary equipment and paint I needed and my creeping urge to begin custom work on the frame persuaded me to cut losses and move on.  I had things I wanted to do.

My first venture into Glock frame custom work (if you can call it that) began as a simple trigger guard undercut.  I had seen it before and felt I had no use for it, but after handling a friend’s Glock on which he had undercut the trigger guard I was sold and set to work on my own.  Still, I knew I wanted to avoid the straight-into-the-frame, block-cut that many amateurs do.  Whether they think it looks good or whether it just is easier, I don’t know, but I think it looks like hell. My undercut got rounded and beveled, blending as best I could the edges.

ImageImageProfile of the undercut.  Notice the pencil marking around the mag release where I had begun toying with an release scallop.

ImageThis is how it begins!  Ugly, and you can see the black showing after taking off the thin top layer of OD Green Cerakote.

By now – after having hacked off a good bit of polymer from this thing, I began to get confident.  I also began to look a bit closer at what the pros were doing.  Ben at Boresight Solutions quickly became the standard I wanted and, while I wasn’t going to put $1000 into my Glock, I was going to analyze his work and try to emulate it.  From this, the idea was born to bevel the magazine release as well.  So, here I am, using a $10 rotary tool (my Dremel being 1200 miles away at the time; no fear!) hacking away at my $400 piece of plastic.  Despite my handicaps and that I had never done any of this before, I was somewhat pleased with the result.

ImageImageImageImageCut and polished.  As you can see, I got a little wrapped in the project and straightened the front edge of the trigger guard.  Hindsight finds me regretting it.

I had a pretty good idea what I liked and disliked by this time.  Having perused hundreds of Glock customizations, I knew that I didn’t like simple, flat-edge undercuts.  I wanted thin, clean, beveled edges and contours.  While the above work left me satisfied that I could do acceptable work with a rotary tool, it left me wanting more.  I wasn’t going to paint it again until I got it to finished form, and that meant diving in head first and completing the undercut along the length of the trigger guard, and even stippling the frame.  As it turns out, two more mistakes lay ahead for this project.

The first of the last two mistakes was not sanding the frame smooth prior to laying the iron on it.  This would require a bit of time and detail in removing the finger grooves (which I find all Glocks seriously wanting to do without) and making even the rest of the frame, and quite frankly I got lazy and/or in a hurry, neither of which generally being conducive to a job well done.  Still, I was happy enough with it to send if off to be painted real Patriot Brown.

Image

ImageImageImageFinished product!  For a short time.  Alas, there was one mistake left to come.

So there she is, finished after a few months of tinkering.  But she would stay this time only a short while.  As with the start of this project, a friend’s work would push me a step beyond where I felt I could go.  He showed me his newest Gen4, from which he had removed the finger grooves and sanded smooth the entire frame prior to stippling.  That was it: the finger grooves which I had wavered about since the day I got the pistol had to go, as they should have from the first day.  And this is the second of the last two mistakes.

When you stipple polymer plastic, you essentially melt and raise the surface of the material, creating a raised, textured surface.  Keep applying the iron to it and the height gets compounded, and quite frankly begins to look really poor.  Still, after racing home after work and hacking off the grooves – revealing the base black polymer against the painted frame – I decided to make all the stipple black by applying the iron once more, if only lightly.  Turns out it doesn’t work that way.  In order to bring the black to the surface, a lot of heat has to be applied, creating an unsightly texture.  Thankfully, a light sanding was able to knock off some width/height and retain the texture decent enough.

ImageFinger grooves removed and re-stippled.  I nearly screwed the pooch on this part, but was able to salvage it enough to keep myself happy.

  Just the same, the whole thing received a media blast to clear the old color away in preparation for a new coat…that never came.  I came to like the beat-up gray that was left over following the blasting, leaving slight traces of Patriot Brown and, yes, even the OD Green that started this whole mess.  Hell, it’s a Glock: you can’t make ’em pretty, just less ugly.

ImageImageAs it stands now.  Undercut, beveled, stippled, hacked, beat, and blasted.  Great as ever.

ImageSenator DeLeon’s Original Ghost Gun

Following is a list of parts/mods/changes/add-ons not mentioned above:

  • Trijicon HD Night Sights – replaced the Meprolight TruDot sights I had put on when I first got the pistol.  The TruDots are a fine NS, but I found them lower than I wanted and quite frankly outmatched by the HD’s U-Notch rear sight and hi-viz front sight.
  • Replaced the full-size Glock smooth-faced trigger with a factory Glock grooved trigger.  No practical advantage, but I prefer both the look and feel of the grooved trigger, perhaps owing to my first Glock being the G19.  Glock is required by United States law to import pistols shorter than its full-size models with a grooved trigger.  There is no real sense to this, but the more hurdles to import a gun the happier the Ban Everything Committee.  And me, apparently.
  • Vickers Tactical extended magazine release (and slide release: now removed) – Vickers mag release is longer than stock, but shorter than the extended mag release Glock offers (which is, I believe, just their large frame model mag release – G20, G21, etc.) that tends to be too long and has a habit of inadvertently leaving your mag lying somewhere behind.  I also had a Vickers extended slide release lever installed, which is a great piece of gear, but found that my thumb kept resting on it during shooting, preventing the slide from locking open when the mag empties.  Not a good feeling when doing speed drills or – I can only imagine – in combat.
  • 3.5lb Connector and Extra Power Trigger Spring – ZevTech makes the spring, and I couldn’t tell you who makes the connector (perhaps Zev as well?).  I don’t generally like tinkering with the internals and I steer clear as much as can be helped, but the 3.5 connector and increased power spring as stand-alones have been a very nice improvement over factory internal settings, reducing the trigger pull to a comfortable, but not absurd, level.  Crisp, clean, but still strong, and not a problem yet with several thousand rounds on those parts.  In fact I have had less “grit” in the pull while shooting in the desert when things get dirty than with the factory connector.  Perhaps it’s placebo, but I’ll stick with it.
  • Lanyard Plug – I forget who makes it, but it’s the only one out there.  I enjoy having the lanyard option and having the rear closed up (the arguments for/against this go on for days, and I have no real opinion on the matter save that I like this way better…just because).  The downside with this particular part is that the stock screw supplied with it was considerably too short, and required me finding a specialized parts store and then cutting the screw down a bit, damn near cutting my finger in half with a pair of needle nose pliers.  Yikes!  Still, it hasn’t budged and I like it.
  • Surefire X300Ultra – 500 lumens, long life, clean light, great throw.  I had previously rocked a Streamlight TLR-1HL which, at 630 lumens and a strobe feature to boot, is a beast of a light.  Still, I found the X300U to have better throw and a cleaner light, and just better lines (I know: not a reason to rock a piece of gear that may save your life one day).  Is it worth nearly double the HL?  I can’t honestly say it is.  I would trust myself to either brand in a pinch.  I just prefer the X300U, simple as that.

That’s about it for this thing. I have done what I can to keep the pistol as simple as it comes from the factory – it only goes on if it serves a clear, demonstrable purpose.  Certainly I haven’t covered everything here, either because I have forgot or it’s unimportant, but there have been a ton of lessons learned with this pistol project.  I have done things that have worked well and even better than predicted, and some that I wouldn’t do again; I’ve shown what can be done with $30 in parts and untold hours of labor and thought (oftentimes in that order); and, importantly, I have set a framework for future projects.

Image12yds, standing.  One flyer.  Paper is nice, but steel and shot timers are where the work is.

C|P

“Dear Son,…”

I considered keeping this for myself, but it’s too pretty to smother with my selfishness.

A bit about the designer, from Kaufmann Mercantile, where I discovered it:

Artist and designer Stephen Kenn moved from his native Canada to pursue a career in denim and leather accessories design in Los Angeles. He started his own line when an industry friend let him in on a little known secret: a stockpile of leftover fabrics and textiles from World War II was ferreted away in a downtown warehouse. Awed by this discovery, Stephen visited the warehouse several times, sitting atop a mountain of surplus material and pondering the war heroes that once donned these garments. Eventually, he was inspired to create a line of minimal, comfortable furniture using these recycled fabrics. His product line has now expanded to include bags and accessories, which also pay homage to military aesthetics.

I was curious what video could possibly be made about a bag.  I still don’t have an answer to that, because this video is so much more:

 

C|P