Not Stupid

To my liberal friends:

Look, you and I disagree on political philosophy. Fine. We have different priorities on what we consider important. But this “conservatives are stupid/ignorant/uneducated” meme is getting old.

My degree is in physics. I work in “cutting edge” technology (Atomic Force Microscopy, one of the enabling technologies to nanotechnology). I am also a bona-fide “rocket scientist” ( and have presented at space development conferences and seen concepts that I pioneered (commercial, manned, suborbital flight) go from paper to hardware reality.

I am not stupid, or ignorant, or uneducated. I just happen to think that “liberty” trumps “security.” That the best social program for the poor is a job. That a strong, vibrant, growing economy benefits everyone, rich and poor alike, that “government stimulus” is only able to put money into the economy that it took out of it in the first place and therefore does not help on any except the shortest of terms and actively harms the economy in the long term, and that the government should actually follow the Constitution, that something that is important enough that it must be done even if the Constitution doesn’t allow it, then amend. the. Constitution. to allow it.

And if the schools, that lead to “better educated” folk, have been telling people otherwise, well, so much the worse for the schools.



Remember that these snippets are very much draft copy.  They include typos, spelling errors, even places where I changed thoughts in mid sentence.  But, if you can get through that, enjoy.

David L. Burkhead

William McIntire glanced up at the sound of the office door opening behind him. Petya stood bleary-eyed in the doorway.
“Glad to see you, Petya,” McIntire said. He tapped Charles Redbear, his other assistant, on the shoulder. Charles looked up from his terminal.
Charles stood almost as large as McIntire, a little slimmer but the same height. Charles wore his black hair in a single braid that hung down his back to his waist. Charles had claimed to be Cheyenne when he’d come to work for McIntire and probably was. McIntire felt certain that Charles had watched too many old westerns and made a game out of making people think he’d walked out of one. Today’s effort included a beaded deerskin jacket to match the moccasins he wore every day.
“Welcome back,” Charles said. After a nod and a smile, he turned his attention back to the screen in front of him.
“I am glad you could make it,” McIntire said to Petya. “Normal work’s come to a halt since the war’s stopped shipping, including material from Lunaville.”
Petya looked puzzled. “Then pochemu, why…?”
“We’re working on that magnetic focuser I told you about.” McIntire had read an article that described a technique for focussing magnetic fields to higher intensities than had ever been achieved before. “I’ve been translating the magazine article describing it into design specifications and Charles has been doing a program design for a simulation. We need the third corner of the team to do the coding.” His gesture took in the remaining chair and terminal. “You ready to get back to work or are you going to loaf some more?”
With a slight nod, Petya took his place.
Several hours later they had a preliminary simulation set up, designed to examine the fields themselves rather than the device used to produce them.
“Okay,” McIntire said. “Let’s let it run for a while and see what happens.”
As he typed the final key, the screen blanked, to be filled an instant later with a screen saver that marked the terminal as functional, but busy with an assigned task.
“How long to finish?” Petya asked.
“Charles?” McIntire turned to face him.
“Depends,” Charles said. “Two–four hours.”
McIntire nodded. “Break time.” He rubbed at sore muscles in his neck. “I’m getting too old for this.”
Petya looked at him with a serious expression. “Perhaps you should consider retiring?”
“Not a chance,” McIntire said. “Shall we go down to the gym? I bet I can still get two falls out of three.” Considering the difference in their sizes, that seemed a safe bet.
“Not possible.” Petya rolled his eyes. “I might damage priceless antique.”
It took McIntire only a moment to realize that the “priceless antique” was McIntire himself. He laughed.
Charles looked disgusted at the two of them. “Lunch.” He left the office.
Petya nodded. “I think Charles has right idea. Lunch?”
For answer, McIntire waved an “after you” gesture at the door. As Petya left, McIntire paused and watched after him. He understood why Petya had won the competition for this particular co-op program. That Petya managed to keep a sense of humor with everything going on spoke well of the young man.


“Oxygen production’s up three point eight percent,” Angel told Mason.
“Get behind the men,” Mason said. “Let’s see if we can’t make that an even five percent.” He rubbed at his temples. He had waked with a tremendous headache that morning, which Tylenol® did little to cure.
The door to the processing facility slid open ahead of them. Mason led the way through. A rolling cloud of noise burst out over them, causing his already aching head to throb.
Angel said something that Mason did not hear over the roar of the machinery.
He gritted his teeth and raised his voice. “What?”
“I said,” Angel, too, raised his voice, “why this sudden drive for production?”
“Keep people busy,” Mason said. “Idle hands and minds worry.”
“But is it necessary?” Angel asked. “Maybe a healthy degree of worry is a good idea.”
“Dammit, Brian, must you keep questioning every decision I make? When I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it.”
Angel’s mouth hung open for a moment before he replied, “Yes, sir.”
“Now,” Mason said, “what’s that problem we’re having?”
“Helium coolant levels are dropping. Obviously, there’s a leak somewhere in the system but we haven’t been able to find it.”
Mason nodded. Lunaville’s primary power storage system, the superconducting magnetic loop, relied on liquid helium to function. Without constant cooling it would soon stop superconducting and the stored energy would be converted into heat, enough heat to transform the loop into a molten, glowing puddle.
“Just how bad is it?” Mason asked.
“I’ll let Mr. Ramsey tell you about it.” Angel nodded at the man who stood watch at the panel they were approaching. Mason recognized the device as the primary cryostat system, which they used to condense liquid helium from its gaseous form.
“Doug,” Mason greeted the man.
“Mr. Mason,” Ramsey held out his hand. Mason took it.
“Brian’s told me we’re losing helium. Just how bad is it?”
“We’re losing about ten liters a day,” Ramsey said. “I’ve checked the tanks myself and they confirm the loss.”
“Ten liters?” Mason shook his head. They had reserve storage of over 2500 liters. “That doesn’t sound too bad. Our reserve will last until we can get a resupply.”
“Maybe,” Ramsey said. “If everything goes according to plan. But if that war lasts just a little too long we’ll only have power during the daytime. And even then it will be drastically reduced. Too much of our power generation and distribution system uses superconductors.”
As Ramsey spoke, Mason fought to keep rein on his temper. When he replied, he managed to keep his voice even. “None of that need worry us,” he said. “The war will be over in six months.”
Ramsey seemed about to say something but a sharp shake of the head from Angel silenced him.
Mason spared a glare for Angel before turning and stalking away.
Angel caught up with him in the corridor. “You know….”
“Are you trying to undercut my authority, Major?”
Angel looked puzzled, then said, “No, sir. I was just….”
“Good,” Mason said. “See that you don’t.”
“Sir,” Angel said. “Perhaps it would be a good idea to put some men on the helium problem.”
“Oh?” Although they were the same height, Mason gave the impression of staring down at Angel.
Angel nodded. “It would keep them busy and working on a solvable problem which would be good for morale.”
Mason stared at Angel for a moment. Then he nodded. “See to it.”
“Yes, sir,” Angel said and walked off.
On his return to his cabin, Mason slammed a fist into the wall. His hands shook as he strove to regain control of his emotions. After several minutes the shaking settled to a mild tremble.
“I’ve got to get a grip,” he said to himself.
Snapping at Angel without cause. Growling at everyone else. Mason realized that he had to regain control of his temper. He held command and he could not let the others see any flaw. Even a short war would have Lunaville’s personnel on edge and he had to set an example. And if the war lasted longer…. He thrust that thought to one side.
Mason stared into the mirror atop his small dresser for a long time, schooling his features into a look of calmness that he did not feel.
He opened the room’s small cupboard. Perhaps a drink would settle him down.


Schneider’s shoulders ached from hunching over his room’s computer workstation. Whenever the words on the screen blurred together, he paused for a quick rub at his eyes and continued.
Reports passed over the computer screen, reports of supplies, equipment, and personnel. Schneider’s commands copied excerpts of each report into his personal file. Slowly, he built a picture of O’Neill’s status.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
Schneider jumped at the sound of Marie’s voice; he had not heard the door open.
“Marie,” he said, looking up, “this work has got to be done.”
“Of course it does,” Marie said, “and there are plenty of people doing it.” She sighed. “All of them are more familiar with the system here, with the information in the system, and with the results they’re likely to get. You’re just duplicating their work and not doing as good a job of it.”
After a moment, Schneider nodded and shut off the computer. “You’re right. I was just going crazy with nothing to do.”
“Gods, how do you think I feel?” Marie circled the table to reach Schneider’s side. She pulled him from the chair, over to the couch, and down beside her. “It seems that all I am here is another mouth using up food stores and contributing nothing in return.”
Schneider said nothing, he just put an arm across Marie’s shoulders, as much reassured as reassuring with the contact. “Don’t ever think you’re not important. Without you, I think I’d dry up and blow away.”
Marie leaned her head against his shoulder. “Clown.”
Sitting on the couch with Marie sufficed to drive the tension out of Schneider’s shoulders and back.
“When I talked to him yesterday,” Schneider said at last, “John told me he worried about his wife. I gave him a line about how Lincoln would see that she’s taken care of.”
Without looking down, he felt her nod against his shoulder. “You worried about the kids too?” Marie asked.
Schneider sighed. “Yes. I don’t know what’s happening. We’ve tried to call Mauna Loa, but so far they haven’t answered. From what we can see there doesn’t seem to be anything going on in Hawaii, nothing disastrous at least. I don’t know why Lincoln’s not answering and that scares me–right down to the bone.”
“Maybe there’s just a communications blackout.”
“Maybe,” Schneider said. “And maybe some terrorist bomb has leveled the port. Our security’s good but not invincible.”
“We’d have heard about that, surely.”
“How?” Schneider said. “Nobody’s talking to us. Nobody at all. The trouble is, I don’t know, and even if I did I couldn’t do anything about it. I don’t like that.”
Marie pushed herself upright. “So you drive yourself into doing things you can. Even things that others can do better and faster.”
Schneider nodded. “That’s about it, I guess. Just a driven nut case.”
A smile flickered across Marie’s face. “Then that makes two of you.”
The smile returned. “That son of yours is down, unasked for and unwanted, doing an inventory of stores. He’s counting every box, every tin, and every packet of supplies. Some of the clerks wanted to eject him but Julia vetoed that; I think she understands the Schneider genes.”
Schneider managed a laugh. “And you? What have you been doing?”
“I may be an accountant but I’m handy with a computer,” she said. “I volunteered to do data entry but there’s no demand.” She shrugged.
“So have you found anything to do?”
“You won’t like it.”
Schneider waited.
Marie sighed. “The primary filters for the water recycling system need periodic cleaning. Normally they just expose them to vacuum which dries out the crud which can then be cracked off and sucked away. Now, however, we can’t afford to waste the water that way. That means they have to be scrubbed by hand.”
“’Primary filters’?” Schneider’s eyes snapped wide. “Marie, that’s the sewage system!”
Marie shrugged. “It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it.”
Schneider sat silent, too stunned to answer then, a moment later, he burst out laughing.

The Land of Second Chances

Snippet to come later today.  For now this blast from the past:

One of the thing I like best about the US is that, more than just about anyplace else in the world, it’s the land of second/third/fourth/morth chances.  The ability to say “I screwed, up, but I can still make things better” and have that mean something is quintessentially American.

It makes sense, in a way.  So many people originally came to America because they were looking for a second chance.  For one reason or another things weren’t working for them “back home” so they came here for a new start in a new home.  This whole “try again” attitude permeates American culture.  It did, anyway.  Lately it seems to be falling by the wayside.

My own life has been driven by a series of bad choices made on my part and new chances to make better choices.

In High School I never learned to study.  I didn’t need to to “get by” and simple unstructured reading in subjects that interested me was enough to get me “good enough” grades in most of my classes.  But I never learned the discipline of sitting down and studying a particular subject, even one that didn’t particularly interest me at the time, until I’d mastered it.  Bad choice on my part.  Also in High School I never took the time to seriously look for work.  Whether I found it or not, I needed to be looking for it..  This resulted in my having very poor work habits by the time I graduated from school.

But the real bad choice I made in that era was only applying for one college.  It was a religious school, run by the religion I was practicing at the time.  When the local clerical leader essentially vetoed my application (because I wore my hair too long–it touched my ears) I had nowhere else to go.

So I went with “second chance” number one.  I joined the military.  Here I made yet another bad decision.  I originally planned to go into electronics, take whichever job had the longest school (thereby getting as much electronics training as possible), and parlay that into college afterwards.  I let the recruiter talk me into switching to another field.  I would prove remarkably unsuited to that field (thus making a military career out of the question) and it was also almost completely devoid of civilian application so I couldn’t turn military training into a decent civilian job.

Still, I could have put my time in the military to good use.  The military was willing to pay 75% of tuition costs in accredited colleges while served.  Also, the “GI Bill” of the day was voluntary—save up to $2700 for college and the government would match it 2:1.  Bad decision on my part was to not take advantage of either of these.  The only “college” I got from my military tour was from my technical training itself.

So, as the end of my enlistment neared, I got to “second chance” number two.  I applied to college again, several colleges this time.  Each of these colleges, however, required recommendations from high school teachers.  I sent the proper forms back home, to my mother, with lists of teachers to contact.  Once again I made the bad decision of putting my future in the hands of one person . . . who failed me.  She never forwarded the forms.

On returning from the military with no job prospects and no college, I ended up in some menial jobs–bussing tables, washing dishes, that sort of thing–and I got to second chance number three.  I tried again to get into college.  Money was tight even for application fees so I applied to only one college, the state university.  I hand carried the forms to the college, met with various people at the college, and got accepted.  The proposed financial aid package would cover my need and all would be well except . . . bad decision:  I had been spending my money, even at the menial job, as fast as it had been coming in.  I had been working at a resort in Virginia at the time (my State of Residence was Ohio).  The job came with a room and cheap meals.  If I had sucked it in for just one summer–banked my paychecks and lived simply for just one summer all would have been well.  But I didn’t think I needed to.  I had the financial aid package that would cover college, including room and board, so I thought everything would be fine and did not plan for the unexpected.  Naturally, something unexpected happened.  I would not receive part of the financial aid until halfway through the semester.  However, the housing arrangements required payment up front.  No one would grant me a short term loan to cover the gap between needing the money and getting the money.  So no college for me that year.

So I went back to menial work yet again, falling deeper into depression.  That’s when I took second chance number four.  My mother had returned to school in Akron and, when the resort job had ended (they closed for the winter) I moved back there.  I was unemployed, selling plasma for cash, and was walking with a cane because of problems with my knees (since improved).  The knee problem, which meant I couldn’t stand on my feet for long at a time, even prevented me from taking most menial jobs.  I was so depressed that I had largely stopped trying but my mother (whose financial situation as a college student was little better than mine) said she would front the application fee if I would just apply at the local university.  I did.  This time I was accepted.  I found housing I could afford based on the financial aid I would actually be receiving.  I entered the University of Akron majoring in physics.

While I was at school, I learned to study.  I learned to talk to people who actually worked in industry about what I needed to be able to get a job and to act on what they said so that when I graduated I would be able to get a good job.  I then acted on that and got the job.  Once I had the job, I got married.  Once I’d been stably employed for a couple of years I then went looking for a house, one I could afford (even though lenders were urging me to take more based on the “ratios” I had at the time) and would be able to continue paying for even if things took a “downturn” down the road.

I’d like to say that I’ve stopped making bad decisions but it would be a lie.  I still make them.  But when I make them, I have to realize that they are my decisions and it’s up to me to make them right.  I cannot rely on other people to make them for me.  They have their own interests at heart and if they also have mine it’s happy chance, not something on which to count.  My choices are my responsibility.  I can take advice or leave it but in the end it’s my choice.

And so I continue to be employed.  I have a wife and family.  I have a house that is not in imminent danger of foreclosure.  And I did it despite the very many bad decisions I made along the way.  And I did it by recognizing that the bad decisions were bad decisions, that they were my bad decisions not anyone else’s, and that I needed to make better decisions if I wanted to move ahead.


Everyone likes a “second chance”.  And second chances feature strongly in the second story in my short collection:  FTI:  Beginnings

Feeding the active writer 2

I am a type 2 (insulin resistant) diabetic.  I also have a major sweet tooth.  Fortunately, for me, I tolerate a number of artificial sweeteners well.  The problem is most sugar free candies use sweeteners that I do not tolerate so well–“sugar alcohols” (xorbitol, malitol, what have you).  Those cause significant stomach problems if I have more than a very small amount.

So if I want sweets, I have to make them myself.  Fortunately, I have a recipe for a low-carb chocolate fudge that’s both tasty and easy to make.

2 8 oz packs of cream cheese
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups sugar equivalent sucralose
1 tsp vanilla extract.

Soften the cream cheese in a double boiler.  I don’t have a dedicated double boiler so what I do is set a large metal mixing bowl on top of a 2 quart saucepan filled about 1/4 with water.

When the cream cheese is very soft add the remaining ingredients.  Mix together with a large spoon or spatula until smooth and uniform.

Transfer the mixture to an 8X8″ baking dish and press it down to an even layer.

Place the dish into a refrigerator and chill for 1-2 hours until just firm.

Cut the fudge into squares.  I generally cut it into 64 pieces (approximately 1X1″ squares).

Place it back into the refrigerator to firm up overnight.

Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.

This is the basic recipe.  For variety, I can add other things during the mixing stage–chopped nuts, unsweetened shredded coconut, peppermint oil.  The base recipe has about 1 gm of carbs per piece.  The extras can add more so use caution.

If you’re not diabetic or otherwise limiting carbs, feel free to use sugar rather than sucralose.  and if sucralose bothers you but other sweeteners do not, you might try experimenting with them.  I found that sucralose works well for me so I haven’t done much experimenting beyond that.

In any case.  Enjoy.

Before the hyphens came

I am not a fan of country music.  Nothing specific wrong with it, just not my cup of tea.  One thing I will give the genre, though, a number of artists have put out some very good patriotic songs.

So, some time back I went on a quest looking for some rock or metal groups doing patriotic stuff.  Some folk over in another forum pointed me at a group called Madison Rising.  My first introduction was their rock version of The Star Spangled Banner.  Now, I’ve had some people criticize it as just another case of people trying to “personalize” the national anthem but I take a different view which I illustrate with two points:

  1. It’s on my “main” playlist to come up in rotation whenever I’m listening to music.
  2. My daughter (just turned 10) asks to hear it from time to time.

If it gets people who otherwise wouldn’t to listen to the song and pay attention to it, that’s a win in my book.

But it’s another of their songs that I want to talk about today:  “Before the hyphens came.”

So here it is:

My 5 A.M. alarm goes off, I’m rolling out of bed
I turn the TV on, to wake up and clear my head
I catch the news, just in time to view another stirring of the pot
Talks of in-equality, what people need, and forgetting what they’ve got
But in these times of opposition, the prejudice runs deep
Dividing us by heritage is all they ever preach
They tell us that they really care
But to them it’s just a game
‘Cause we were all Americans
before the hyphens came
When people cared ‘bout who you were
and less about your name
‘Cause we were all Americans
Before the hyphens came

Somewhere down along the line, someone had the great idea
to divide us up by heritage, and profit from that fear
But growing up a while back, before these racial trends
Whether immigrant, or white or black, we just called each other friends
And if we spoke an extra language, it was just another way
To pledge allegiance to the flag, God bless the USA
So don’t listen to those talking heads
There’s one thing they forgot
That this Sweet Land of Liberty
Should be one big Melting Pot
So take away the hyphens
We’ll all be the same
No more lines betweens us
Together we’ll remain
Forget about your color
Forget about your name
No more lines between us
Cause we are all the same

Unfortunately, the nostalgia of the song describes an America that never was.  There was never a time where it was generally true that “we were all Americans, before the hyphens came.”

Even so, there is a big difference between now and then.  Back then, they may not have achieved the ideal.  Irish may have hated Italian, Protestant might have hated Catholic.  In a great irony many of the “whites” hated the “indians” (who were here first).  And everyone hated the Mormons.  But “That this Sweet Land of Liberty Should be one big Melting Pot” was the ideal.  It was the goal we strove for.  While individuals may have wallowed in hatred of others, as a nation we recognized that the divisions between individuals were wrong and weakened us.  As Benjamin Franklin put it in his famous cartoon:  Unite or Die:
And people who came to the US came to be Americans.  Becoming a part of the greater culture was a priority.  And when they became part of our greater culture, the brought a little of their own.  To a very great extent, it was true that “This sweet land of Liberty, should be one big melting pot.”
Nowadays, however, that’s changed.  Assimilation is frowned upon.  People come to the US for economic or other advantage with no intention of becoming “Americans” in any cultural sense.  Oh, sure, there’ve always been some, but there’s been a sea change in the numbers and assimilation is actively discouraged.  And reverse assimiliation, if people of “American Culture” adopt things from others it’s called “cultural appropriation” and people get up in arms about it.
All of that is ridiculous and discards everything that makes America America.  Cultural Appropriation?  That is our culture, to take the best of what we see around us and make it our own.  And it starts with the American people deciding, first and foremost, to be American and not some hyphen.
And so I leave with this musical interlude:

Crossbreed Super Tuck holster

What I got: The Super Tuck holster in black cowhide with optional J clips.
For: Taurus PT1911AR, a full size 1911 with an integral Picatinny rail.
Price: $69.75 ( +$15.00 for natural horsehide) $5.00 for the J clips.

First impressions: Nice build quality. Four holes on either side to adjust the holster height and angle. Molded kydex scabbard to hold the gun. The scabbard is form fitting and recesses slightly into the trigger guard for retention. The instructions that come with the holster explain how to use a blow dryer to soften the kydex to adjust retention or one can send the holster back to Crossbreed for adjustment.

One of the problems I had with finding a good holster was the rail on the Taurus 1911. The rail is wider than is typical on other railed 1911s and finding a holster that fit, between cheap “Uncle Mike’s” or “Gunmate” holsters and very high-end custom gunleather was quite difficult. A quick email to Taurus got a prompt response that they were aware of the issues with the Taurus and could provide a holster to fit.

Crossbreed Super Tuck Front (fully broken in after about 6 months wear)


Wear and use:

I tried several different positions with this holster and gun, from 1:00 to 5:00. For my body size and shape, carries in front tended to pinch when I bend. 3:00 was comfortable but the handgrip on the pistol jutted out and printed badly. Most people probably wouldn’t notice, but I did and really preferred better concealment.

When I wore the holster in the 4-5 o’clock position, however, the situation changed dramatically. The holder was quite comfortable in that position. The gun was held flat against my back and didn’t protrude. Worn with a shirt untucked or tucked between the holster and the pants it didn’t print.

In this early period when I was trying it out I did, however, encounter several problems.

Problem 1:

While the leather completely covers the space between my body and the pistol, the kydex only covers a portion of the gun. The slide and frame extend out from the front of it. As a result, the finish on the gun is subject to wear as one moves and the clothes rub against the pistol. Personally, I don’t consider this a downcheck. A carry firearm is not a show piece. If one is worried about wear or scratches, better to leave that gun in the safe and carry something a bit more utilitarian.

Related to the coverage problem, I had a problem where the edge of the kydex would wear holes in my pants. This was definitely troublesome. Wearing out my pants in short order is not something I want a holster to do.

I contacted Crossbreed about this (one thing I can say about Crossbreed holsters is that, in my experience, they have great customer service) and received this response:

While I certainly understand your concern, to be honest there have only been a handful of folks who have had this issue that I am aware of. The vast majority of our customers do not experience this and we have well over 40,000 holsters delivered to date. To be honest I suspect when this does occur it’s more of an issue with the individual user. Perhaps it’s the angle you carry your holster/gun at or more likely, how tight you wear your pants. I don’t know these as to be certain answers as I personally have never experienced this issue and know no one personally who has. As far as folks who have reported on this issue, it’s less than 6 or 7 that I can think of. Even if it were 10 or 20 folks, out of over 40,000 that is not enough to blame the design of the holster but rather a time to look at each individual situation for the cause. It is easy to think that if it happens to you it must surely be happening to everyone else, but such is definitely not the case.

While that answer could be self-serving, I don’t think it is. To be honest, after the first few weeks of wear the problem went away. It could be that I had been wearing older pants that were really too tight (I’ve gained a few pounds over the years) and the new ones fit properly and therefore don’t rub so hard, or maybe their was a bur or something at the edge of the kydex that smoothed off with wear. In any case, I am not having the problem any more so while this is something to be aware of, I don’t think it’s any more than a break-in problem, at least not for me.

Problem 2:

I would remove the gun from the holster and find the that safety was off. On further investigation this turned out to be a training issue. When reaching back for the gun I was, without noticing it, brushing the ambi safety on the 1911. A simple change in how I reached for the gun corrected this problem. I suspect I would have had the same problem with any holster worn in the same spot unless it actually covered the safety.

Problem 3:

Sometimes on drawing the gun I would see that the magazine was not locked in place. This usually happened when I had been wearing the holstered gun in my car. This was certainly disconcerting and would have been unconscionable in a holster for defensive carry if it were not resolved.

The clue to what was happening was that it happened when I was wearing the holster in my car. The gun and holster were pressed tight against my back in that position and apparently the pressure was enough to depress the magazine release. When I inspected the holster, I discovered that there was a small dent corresponding to the location of the magazine release.

I continued to try the holster for a while and gradually, that problem went away. Still, I was experimenting with a holster and this problem was potentially serious enough that I would not be able to recommend it if it were left unresolved.

I contacted Crossbreed about this issue too. My proposed solution was to drill a hole in the leather where the magazine release rests to relieve the pressure on it. Their response was as follows:

This is a bit more common, we hear of this issue maybe 10% of the time and the solution is very simple. Instead of cutting a hole in the leather, just moisten the back of the holster in the area where the mag button hits. Do this in an area about the size of a quarter, then using your thumb or a blunt tool, form a divot in the front of the holster where the mag button hits. Once this dries it’ll hold it’s shape and prevent the mag button popping issue, this has not ever failed to cure the problem as far as I know. We don’t do this as standard practice because again, it’s not a common problem, however I might add this tip to the instructions we send out with our holsters.

At a 10% occurrence rate, I would certainly recommend that they warn users about this particular problem and provide the correction instructions.

And that’s really been it. The holster is comfortable, comfortable enough that I’ll generally use it when I’m Open Carrying as well as when I conceal–just tuck the shirt behind the holster rather than between it and the pants. It conceals well. Drawing is easy and is facilitated in that you can adjust the height and angle of the holster. Reholstering one-handed is easy, even in the rather awkward position that works best for me. It’s available at a modest price from a company with excellent customer service. Highly recommended.

Survival Test: Snippet Six

Remember that these snippets are very much draft copy.  They include typos, spelling errors, even places where I changed thoughts in mid sentence.  But, if you can get through that, enjoy.

David L. Burkhead
CHAPTER TWO (Part Three)

William McIntire, head of one of the three independent quality control teams at O’Neill, tapped at the door in front of him. “Petya? Are you there, Petya?”
The lights in the corridor glowed dimly for the nighttime cycle and the air conditioning ran a little cooler. The air freshener smelled different as well. McIntire wondered if anyone else found these attempts to make the construction shack homelike annoying rather than soothing.
“Go away.” The closed door muffled Petya’s voice.
“Come on. Talk to me.”
“I said ‘go away.'”
“Not a chance, Petya. Not until we talk.”
The door slid aside. “And what have we to talk about?”
Petya stood a bare 160 cm tall and weighed maybe sixty kilos. His wore his solid black hair cut short. He looked almost like a doll next to McIntire’s 185 cm and 100 kilos.
“Plenty, I thought,” McIntire said. “I thought we were friends.”
“Friends?” Petya frowned. “Your people attacked mine.”
Pyotr Maktsutov–everyone called him Petya–one of the two junior engineers on McIntire’s team, was doing a co-op year on exchange from the University of Leningrad. McIntire did not know all the details of the deal but he knew that the contract to deliver materiel to Lunaville had some role in it. Part of the deal required Petya to receive actual experience in space. That meant that McIntire’s team had moved from Earth–getting their data by telemetry from the colony–to the construction shack.
McIntire tried to catch Petya’s eyes but Petya avoided him. “Yeah. I saw the same tape. You know that it was an accident. A stupid, insane accident.”
“Accident?” For all his small size, Petya managed to put surprising energy into his voice. “Bozhe moi, do you know how many people died in that accident?”
“A lot.” McIntire kept his voice soft. “Millions, I guess. And yes, I agree that it’s tragic. But it’s not half as tragic as the stupidity going on right now. The leaders of both countries, mine and yours, are being stupid.” He shook his head. “None of this should be happening.”
Petya remained silent.
Down the hall, another door slid open and someone poked their head out to look at McIntire and Petya. “Keep it down out there. Some folk are trying to sleep.”
“Sorry,” McIntire said to the man and turned back to Petya. “Look, I’m not going to stand out here arguing cases. Can I come in?”
One corner of Petya’s mouth twitched. “Have I any choice?”
McIntire grinned. “Not much.”
As Petya stood aside, McIntire stepped into the room. Petya had a room to himself as one of the benefits of the exchange program. Most of the other junior personnel had to share.
“Please sit down,” Petya said.
With both bunk beds folded against the wall, the compartment barely held enough room for the two chairs. An easel and a half-completed charcoal drawing occupied most of the remaining space.
McIntire leaned close to the sketch. It showed O’Neill in a very early stage of construction. The moon hung in the background and the Rock, the large chunk of silicates connected to the construction shack by tether and around which the shack spun to give them the feeling of gravity, hung in the middle. The construction shack itself added balance in the foreground.
“Careful,” Petya said as McIntire leaned closer.
McIntire jerked back. He glanced over his shoulder at Petya.
Petya smiled. “Charcoal smudges easily. I thought you about to touch it.”
“I won’t,” McIntire said. He sat in one of the chairs. “You okay?” he asked.
Petya sank into the other chair. “I am…uncertain. This war has me confused. You, all of you, should be enemy, yet I cannot make myself believe that.”
“We’re none of us the enemy,” McIntire said. “Not you, not me, none of us. We’re just assorted victims. All of us, casualties of a war that’s not our doing.”
Petya sighed. “I…realize that, I think. Is still hard sometimes.”
“I know. You love your country. It’s home to you.”
Petya nodded. “I know how it must look to you, but Russia has changed much since I was small boy. For my parents Russia was hard land to love, yet love it they did. And now?” He shrugged. “You are right. Is my home.”
McIntire sat in silence a long time. Petya was a good kid. The insanity going on back on Earth did not change that. Finally, he said, “I’d like to keep you on my team. Charles agrees with me. That is, if you feel you can still work with us.” He looked up to catch Petya’s eye.
This time Petya did not avoid McIntire’s gaze. “I would like that, I think.”
“Good,” McIntire clapped him on the shoulder, then he turned serious. “There’s one thing you should realize though.”
McIntire nodded. “There will be some, not many I hope, who will see you as the enemy. I know that this war’s not your fault, or Russia’s fault, any more than it is mine or America’s, but I don’t think some people will be able to see that clearly.”
“I am not sure I understand,” Petya said. “What do you want me to do?”
“Just stay calm,” McIntire said. “Some people are going to try to make your life hell. For the most part you’ll just have to ride it out. It might be good to stick close to me and Charles whenever possible. Folk will be less likely to give you trouble then.”
“I understand.” He grinned. “I was teenager not too long ago. I suppose that people here can be no worse than Murmansk high school”
“Good man.” McIntire rose to leave.


“So what’s the extent of our damage?” Jared Arthurs asked. He had collected the C.A.M.P.E.R. research team in the common room, a combination kitchen, lounge, and game room. The entire crew crowded with him. The temperature had dropped since power had gone off and Jared pulled a jacket over his jumpsuit.
“We’ve lost one of the solar collectors Crystal Gibson said. “The other has some power line damage so we’re still on batteries but I think it’s fixable.
“The external rack is gone entirely,” Wade said. Once he had work to do, his fear had almost entirely disappeared. “It probably took the brunt of whatever hit us.”
Jared nodded.
“The machine shop took some light damage, but we can fix it if we have to. Something punched a hole in our waste tank, but escaping water froze and resealed it. Our sewage is safe.”
Jared nodded at Ralph Moulton.
“We’ve lost the external antennas,” Moulton said. “That leaves us out of radio communications with anybody and everybody.”
Jared nodded again. “Anything else?”
Nobody spoke.
“All right,” he said. “Anybody have any thoughts on what to do now?”
“Can’t we use the escape capsule?” Michelle O’Brien asked. “I mean, this is an emergency and the Shuttle won’t be coming to get us. Will it?”
“No,” Jared said, his voice as calm as he could make it. “No, I don’t think we can expect the Shuttle. The missile defenses are shooting at anything that bears even a passing resemblance to a missile. That’s what hit us in the first place.”
“So we abandon ship,” Michelle said.
“Real smart, Shell,” Crystal said. “We come down through the atmosphere in the emergency capsule, blazing for all the world like a reentering warhead. What happens then I leave as an exercise for the student.”
“Oh,” Michelle said quietly.
Jared gave a mental shake of the head that he very carefully kept away from his muscles. These people were not astronauts, they were machinists. A moment later he gave a half smile. Astronauts or not, they were handling this situation very well.
“All right,” Jared said. “We’re out of touch. We have one week’s supplies, two with the emergency stores. We can’t risk attempting to return to Earth with the emergency capsule. Nor can we expect rescue. What have we got to work with?”
“We can get power back,” Crystal said. “With that, the machine shop will operate again. I don’t know what good that will do us though.”
Jared thought for a moment. “With the machine shop working, can we make some new antennas?”
“Easily” Wade said. “We can give you spinnings of optical quality if you want–bodies of rotation on any pattern you care to name.”
“Not optical quality,” Michelle said. “The laser polisher was on the external rack.”
Jared shook his head. “Doesn’t matter. We don’t need optical quality for radio antennas. He paused for a moment. “That will be our first order of business. With antennas and power, we will be back in touch.”
Relief showed on each of the others’ faces. A job, something constructive to do, made them forget for a time their problems.