Aug 31, 2010

Hot...

I've been remiss in blogging since we got home.

I haven't forgotten you, I just haven't had anything noteworthy to share.

But it's damn hot outside... I've been hiding as much as possible in the air-conditioned master bedroom, and doing as little as possible.

Reminder: if you're interested in an east-coast-ish blogger trip (campout looking to be the favorite) next summer, advance notice is a good thing.

Aug 27, 2010

The Motor of the World

... she's slowing down.

Borepatch has a snippet of news about several tech companies pulling up roots in California and moving to Utah.

I neglected to mention in my travel post: over dinner the first night, the usual getting-to-know-you conversation occurred. Our dining companions were a married couple in their mid-to-late 30s or so. She works in a cinema-related field, and he... is voluntarily unemployed.

He spent nearly twenty years as an architect, then saw what was happening to more and more of his paycheck, and decided he was sick of paying taxes to support people who refused to support themselves... so he walked out.

Bully for him.

Who knew Ayn Rand was going to be the 20th century's Nostradamus?

Aug 26, 2010

On Travel

MrsZ and I have just returned from our Great Upper American Tour.

It was a heck of a trip.

We left early Saturday a week ago (the 14th) and drove to her folk's place. Left my truck with them and they dropped us off at the Rochester (NY) airport, where we flew NW/Delta to NYC-JFK, then on to Minneapolis/St. Paul, and thence to Fargo, ND, arriving late in the evening.

We spent the next couple days with MrsZ's brother and his fiancee and their two kids (a newborn, his, and a 4-year-old of hers from a previous relationship). We left on Monday mid-day and flew from Fargo to Salt Lake, and then on to Portland, OR.

Spent the next couple days in Portland with my sister and her husband and their newborn daughter, enjoying a very swank guest house they had available and generally relaxing. We visited their small farm (garden, a few pigs, chickens, and turkeys), enjoyed dinner at the Bridgeport Brewery (their "Ropewalk" amber ale was excellent, the others I tried were too hoppy for my preferences), and visited the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, which has the USS Blueback, SS-581, (the last diesel-electric sub purchased by the US Navy) tied up and open for tours. Very cool and worth the trip. (As seen in "Hunt for Red October" - they used the Blueback's torpedo room for the Red October.)

Thursday afternoon we grabbed the train (Amtrak's "Cascades" line) from Portland up to Seattle, where we walked the fifteen-ish blocks to the Moore Hotel and dropped our bags and cleaned up a little bit, then ventured out to see Seattle.

We decided to visit the Seattle Art Museum which had a special display on Andy Warhol, another of Kurt Cobain, and overall, a very strange mish-mash of works. Not a bad museum, but it felt somewhat disjointed.

Back to the hotel (past the rapidly-appearing evening panhandlers) and we decided to eat (and drink) at the NiteLite Lounge, which is part of the Moore. Our bartender (Marcia) was great, friendly, the food was very good (especially the fries), and the drinks were good. I tried a local hefeweizen that was mediocre, had a Fat Tire, and then switched to their house special: Long Islands.

They'll only sell you one. There's a reason for that. The drink comes in a pint glass, with plenty of ice, and none of the alcohol is half-measures - except for the float of Bacardi 151 they put on at the very end. Six shots of hard liquor, a splash of sour mix, a splash of cola, and off you go. As she set them in front of us, Marcia confided, "There's no shame in asking for more ice or cola. Just so you know."

She was right. We sipped slowly, and I went back and forth between the tea and a glass of water, and when I was about half-done with the tea, I asked for more cola and ice.

We finished our drinks, played a couple (very sloppy) games of darts, and headed up to our room.

The Moore is an old hotel - it was built in 1907, and to a certain extent, still shows it. The elevator is tiny and slow. There is no air conditioning. Rooms are available either "with bath" or "European": go down the hall. Each floor is decorated differently; ours was tiger-striped carpeting with maroon walls and a few draperies in the hall. Others had tile, stained glass, sculpture, etc. It's not fancy, but it's clean, in the heart of an artsy/young area, and it's inexpensive - we paid about $85 for the night. I'd gladly stay there again.

Friday morning we got up, cleaned up and packed, and headed back out into Seattle. We moseyed through the Pike Place Market for a while, had some wonderful pastries, chuckled about the Starbucks on every block (truly), bought a few trinkets, and just watched the crowds. Eventually we made our way towards the Amtrak station, but had enough time to poke through the Seattle Police Museum - it's a small storefront museum with displays of a bit of everything from their history. Badges, uniforms, documents, watch logs, call boxes, "portable" radios, firearms, and so forth. I was most intrigued by the Ithaca "Auto and Burglar" shotgun and the (sadly de-mil'ed) Thompson SMG. Couldn't see if the Ithaca was de-mil'ed, but I hope not.

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Once at the train station we only had to wait about twenty minutes until boarding, and found our compartment (a "Roomette", more on this later) and got settled in. Our car attendant came by and introduced himself before giving us the one-minute rundown on amenities (bathroom and shower *here*, complimentary juice, water, and coffee *there*) and where things were. The dining attendant came by and took our dinner reservation, and before too long, we were chugging out of the station.

Fifteen or twenty minutes out of Seattle, the car attendant came by and offered us champagne - apparently standard procedure for a sleeper car. It wasn't anything particularly special, but two chilled single-serve bottles of bubbly was definitely a nice touch.

Dinner was a couple hours later, and seating was in groups of four: if you didn't have four in your party, the staff matched you up with someone(s) else to make a full table. It actually works quite well, and we enjoyed our dining partners for every meal. Meals are included with your sleeper compartment - salad, entree, soft drink, and dessert - and the menu was very complete. Dinner options ranged from a vegetarian lasagna to salmon steak or beef steak, and the quality was excellent. Steaks were perfectly cooked, veggies were tender but not mushy, etc. Desserts were actually the boring part of the meal!

After dinner, we went back to our compartment and played some Scrabble over a few drinks (you can bring your own booze onto a train, but can only drink it in your compartment - if you want to drink elsewhere it has to be purchased on the train) and then had our compartment made up for the night.

This is where I complain about the "Roomette".

I knew it was small when I reserved it, but I wasn't willing to pay nearly triple the price for a "family" bedroom. A roomette is about 3'6" by 6'6", and has wide seats facing each other and a table that folds down between. For two people to ride, play games, even stretch out a little, and watch the world go by, it's great. When it's bedtime, the two seats slide down flat and become a narrow bed, and an even narrower top bunk folds down out of the ceiling.

I got the bottom bunk, MrsZ had the top, and that was tolerable. I could just-barely lay lengthwise in the bed. It was hard but not too bad. MrsZ said her top bunk was VERY hard.

The noise level was tolerable, the motion wasn't too distracting, temperature was fine (compartments have individual thermostats)... but I found out that I could not stand up and turn while the top bunk was down. I could stand up and either have my face smooshed into the door, or my back smooshed into the door. My shoulders are too wide to go sideways between the top bunk and the door. I managed to change for bed while lying on my bunk instead.

Breakfast started serving at 6:30, and was first-come first-serve. We made it down there around 7:30 and were seated immediately with a couple of retired ladies. Again, good food and cooked to order. I had corned beef hash and eggs, both VERY good.

After breakfast, we checked out the observation car, which had been attached to the train sometime after midnight in Spokane, WA. It was relatively crowded with people from coach trying to get out of their seats and get a better view, so we didn't stay long.

Lunch was also first-come first-serve, with a waiting list if you didn't make the first seating; MrsZ signed us up around 11:30 and we had about an hour wait for our meal. This may come as a surprise, but lunch ... was very good. Not exceptional; but tasty all the same.

The afternoon was spent much like the morning - reading, playing cards and Scrabble, a bit of a nap, and watching the flat lands of Montana pass us by. Mid-afternoon there was a complimentary wine tasting for those with sleeper tickets... no real fancy wines, but a chance to do something besides watching the world pass by.

We both had steak for dinner (again) and headed back to our compartment for a couple more drinks and games. Later in the evening, MrsZ folded down her own bunk for a nap (and said it was much more comfortable with two mattresses - she used the one from the bottom bunk as well) while I laid awake to read.

The conductor came to make sure we were awake about 20 minutes before our stop, so we got our stuff together and were waiting when we hit the train station. Off we went into the North Dakota night... about thirty-five hours after we left Seattle.

It was absolutely the nicest long-distance trip I've ever taken. The train staff was friendly and professional, but willing to chat and joke with folks. As MrsZ said, "You don't feel like just a number in the system." The food was plentiful and excellent (and relatively reasonably priced if you weren't in a sleeper car; our steak entree was on the menu at $22), there's room to walk around, a great view of anything going by, people to chat with, and no security theater to tolerate.

We spent a couple more days in North Dakota, visiting family, and then headed home yesterday. Fargo-Chicago/O'Hare-NYC/LaGuardia-Rochester.

LaGuardia is the worst-designed airport EVER. We had to change airlines (from American to USAir) which meant changing terminals. LaGuardia has no provisions for doing this without leaving security, and no signs indicating how to do it in the first place. I grabbed a TSA weenie and asked. "Take the B-Route bus downstairs, it'll go to USAir." We waited downstairs for about ten minutes before a B-bus went by; it took another ten minutes to get to the USAir terminal.

We lucked out going through security - no line, they opened a second x-ray as we got there, and neither of us got special treatment. We cleared security about three minutes AFTER our flight was supposed to depart, and we RAN to the gate where they were announcing final boarding. We made it on to the plane, used the facilities (ick), and sat down ... and sat ... and sat ... It ended up being about a thirty-five minute delay while we waited in line to take off.

Pro tip: NEVER EVER fly through LGA if you can avoid it. It was a dump when I flew there in a previous job and didn't have to change terminals, it's still a dump now, and changing terminals means you really need a two-hour-plus layover built in to your itinerary.

I expect that from now on, for any trip I can't drive in one day, I will make every effort to take the train. It's slower than flying, but it's MUCH more relaxing.

God, it's good to be home.

East Coast Blog Trip?

I've been toying with the idea of organizing some kind of non-shooty east-coast (but y'all's welcome!) blogger bash. A couple days to a week, family-friendly, etc.

Two variations have come immediately to mind:
- a beach house for a week (splitting the rental cost umpteen ways would make it VERY affordable)
- a camping trip at a state park or similar (in other words, with facilities and not primitive)

This wouldn't be happening 'til next year at earliest, but mostly I'm looking for a feel on whether there'd be interest or not, and if so, in which.

So ... comment! Let me know! Or should I just shut the hell up and let GBR, NRA BlogBash, Blogorado, and NEBlogshoot suffice?

Aug 16, 2010

Customer "service"

Big fat raspberries to the guy at the Cabelas gun counter in East Grand Forks, MN. As soon as he heard we were from out of state he said, "Well I can't sell you a gun anyways," turned his back on us, and walked away.

Way to inspire folks to spend money in your store. I hadn't picked out the shirt, sweatshirt, or other goodies I had been planning on - and obviously didn't after that.

(And actually, asshole, you can sell me a gun. It just has to be shipped to a dealer in my home state. Or I could take a long gun here and now.)

Aug 11, 2010

Civic Duty

Facebook just showed me a friend-of-a-friend's update with comments.

OP: Jury duty? Really?! BARF.

OP: So... people that actually "work" for a living- what do they do? Shouldn't "They" recruit people that are unemployed or something?! F***.

1) If you collect a government check, I think it should be your duty.

2) Well, women wanted to vote. This is what you get.

3) I have it too in the first week of sept....boooo!

4) That sucks! =( Upside is maybe it will be an interesting case! My mom was juror on a murder trial! (it was years ago but she said it was interesting)

5) @?? That sounds way harsh, but if you don't register to vote, you don't get pooled into jury duty.

6) Hey it's your civic duty, plus you get paid ( a whole $10 goes along way). just tell them your racist against everyone, you'll do fine

7) Give 'em the needle, OP!

8) You know people who work in law and in law enforcement! You'll have to show up, but there's no way you'll serve!

9) I got out of it when I had it, had to say a certain someone was sick and I had to get back to them and they permanently excused me from it, no way was I going to sit through that crap
I am ... honestly, I am disgusted.

The Sixth Amendment, folks. It's been around for 220 years.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
Seems pretty cut-and-dry to me.

You work for a living? Congrats, so do the rest of us. Jury duty is part and parcel of being a citizen of the United States, and about the only chance you will ever have to directly influence legal proceedings. (Ever hear of "jury nullification"?) It's not only a responsibility, it's a privilege. Yes, it will inconvenience you to a certain extent - but most employers have some kind of provision for that and will make what accomodations they can. SOME will even pay you a full day's work while serving on a jury.

"Getting out of it"? Come on. The judges and attorneys are onto the tricks, folks. Tell them you're racist and hate everyone, and you're cruising for a contempt-of-court. Knowing (or even BEING) an officer is not an out. *I* don't get a pass even though I work with the officers on a regular basis.

Suck it up, go to the jury selection, and if you're selected, then it's your turn. So be it. That's part of the cost of all the other freedoms we enjoy. Be impartial, listen carefully, and be honest. Don't fall asleep in court. Do your duty and be proud that you live in a country that is free.

Scaring the White People

Whoops.

Scared the white people today.

Had a doctor's appointment this morning. Just a physical with a new doctor; nothing critical.

Chatted through the usual battery of questions about lifestyle.

Then he said, "Alright, if you'll take off your shirt and hop up on the table..."

Crap. Didn't even think about it ahead of time. Oh well.

Pulled off the shirt, hopped up on the table. He didn't say anything.

He listened to my chest in front, then moved around back. Deep breaths, etc. Didn't say anything.

Then, while still behind me: "Is that a gun?"
Yep.
"It's a real gun?"
Yes.
"Do all you dispatchers carry guns?"
Nope.
"Why do you carry that?"
I'd carry a cop, but they're too heavy.
"A cop? Is that a bigger gun?"
(I blinked.) No... a cop. The guys in blue uniforms with badges and guns?
(No answer.)
They get a little cranky when you try to pick them up and carry them around.

He let it drop and we went on to other things.

Whoops.

Aug 9, 2010

Low and Slow

I'm a fan of barbecue. Ribs, especially. I know, folks will say we can't do BBQ in New York... and for the most part, they're right. There are a few good BBQ places up here. Usually small, and out of the way, and poorly marked. We had a GREAT place in our town about ten years ago; he closed up and moved away after changing to a "better" location and losing a lot of customers. There have been a few others that came and went; there's a decent place about ten minutes from me that does a good pulled (chopped) pork, decent brisket, and so-so ribs. Other than that, it's a two-hour drive to the Dinosaur, so I tend to save my time and money and do my ribs at home on the grill.

Doing good ribs on a grill without a smoker box is a bit tricky; you have to go low'n'slow to get them to tenderize and flavor properly, and that means controlling the heat carefully. I've gotten pretty good at getting the fire the right size and twitching the dampers just right, and I "wet smoke" my ribs. Wet smoking is no big secret - you put a pan of some kind of liquid under the meat to keep things moist and keep the fire a bit lower. Some people use water, I use cheap beer.

If you're doing ribs, do extra. Do a whole grill full - they go fast and leftovers aren't a bad thing. I stopped at the store yesterday and picked up four racks - about as much as my grill will comfortably hold without the smoker attachment.

Start the night before by cleaning the meat. Peel the membrane off the back of the ribs, rinse them under cold water, and pat them dry. Dust them liberally with your spice rub of choice. I love Dinosaur BBQ's Cajun Foreplay rub ... then I shake a good helping of dark brown sugar over that. Stack the racks together and stick them in the fridge overnight to season.

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Put a couple good handfuls of your preferred wood chips (hickory, apple, cherry, and mesquite are always favorites) in a bowl and pour a can of cheap beer over them. Fill with cold water to just cover the chips and set aside overnight.

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The next morning, take the ribs out and set them on the counter to start warming up. You don't want to put fridge-temp meat on a hot grill; it'll just stick. Go out and light your charcoal - use a charcoal chimney, not lighter fluid or match-light charcoal. That stuff just adds nasty flavors to the coals.

You'll want a SMALL pile of coals set to one side in the grill - no more than 1/4 of the grill area and not stacked deep. On the other side, pour two cans of cheap beer into a metal pan and set that under the grates for the meat.

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Close the grill and let it burn for 15 or 20 minutes; long enough for the temperature to stabilize. If it's hot, close the damper some and open the chimney a touch. If it's cold, open the damper and the chimney. You want a steady temperature of 250-300F, no higher or lower.

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Grab a handful of your soaked chips, shake out the excess water/beer, and put it on the edge of the coals. Stack the meat down the grates. Add a handful of dry wood chips to your charcoal and a few chunks of fresh charcoal to keep the heat up.

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Set your timer for 30 minutes and go do something.

When the timer goes off, check the temperature, adjust dampers as necessary, and use a spray bottle full of 50/50 cider vinegar and canola oil to lightly spritz the ribs. You don't want them dripping or to wash off the rub, just keep them moist. Add a few pieces of charcoal and some wood chips as necessary, and close that baby back up.

Repeat...

Every hour or so, rotate the ribs through so they're all getting even time on the ends and getting cooked through. The LAST time you rotate them will be the time to baste them with sauce if you want to. I don't; I do dry ribs and then put a bottle of sauce on the table.

You're going to be babysitting these things for four to six hours, so make sure you've got time... and remember, if you're looking, you ain't cooking! Keep that lid closed unless you HAVE to open it.

When they're done (5-6 hours at 275-300ish), pull 'em off and put them in an oven-safe dish. Cover tightly with foil and throw those bad boys in the oven at 300 while you finish putting together side dishes; it'll keep them hot and let the flavors soak a bit longer.

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Enjoy!

Blogshoot photos

I've edited out faces of anyone I wasn't pretty sure about being pictures; if you want to be but weren't please let me know!

It's only gay if the bayonets cro-... Oh.

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Dragon, can you figure out some kind of IWB or shoulder rig for this?

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Let the festivities begin!

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Is it in yet?

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Backblast area! CLEAR!

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That's about it. I just didn't pick up the camera that much. I can't wait for next year!

Aug 6, 2010

On Death

AmericanMercenary left a comment on my recent top-ten list. I wasn't familiar with the name, so I clicked on over. I'd recommend you do the same thing; he writes well and it's worth reading a soldier's perspective on many things. He's over on the blogroll now.

These three posts were on his front page when I headed over there. Read them all, please.

Death comes for us all, eventually. Sharp and sudden or tedious and lingering, eventually we will all answer for the lives we have chosen.

I've seen my share of death, up close and personal. People I did know, people I didn't know, and people I wished I had known.

There's nothing noble in death. Oh, you can die nobly, or heroically, or bravely, sure - but death, of itself, is not a noble thing.

I've shed a few tears for strangers, and a few more for friends and family.

I've been struck with the tremendous truth of, "There but for the grace of God lay I." It's a realization that requires introspection.

AM closes his post with, "Life goes on, and you need to remember that."

I couldn't agree more.

Life goes on, and you need to remember that.

Aug 5, 2010

Cole slaw

I used to hate cole slaw. I don't know why, but as a child, it was on my "DO NOT WANT" list. Somewhere along the line, my tastes evolved, and now I will usually take some, and more if it's GOOD slaw. (KFC is NOT good slaw.)

I've been toying with recipes, and just put this together today:
1 medium head cabbage, shredded
3 carrots, shredded
1 medium onion, shredded
1/4c + 2T cider vinegar
1/4c + 2T canola oil
1/2c sugar
1 t. sea salt
1/2 t. celery seed
1T spice rub (Dinosaur BBQ "Cajun Foreplay" here)
1/3c mayonnaise

Combine the vegetables in a large bowl, stir.
In a food processor or blender, combine the remaining ingredients and blend well.
Pour over the vegetables and stir or toss until well-coated.
Chill, enjoy!

Aug 4, 2010

Eye-Catching Cars

With apologies to JayG, this post came to me while I was driving to and from New England this weekend.

Top Ten Eye-Catching Cars

These are the cars that make you turn your head and watch them in the mirror as they go the other way, or that you'll walk over a row in the parking lot to look closer. All of these are cars that I have seen in the wild at one point or another; no show queens here.

10) Ford Mustang. Any vintage, with a subtle thumbing of the nose to the boxy semi-hatchbacks of the 80s. The current iteration - and if you're getting one, it needs to be a GT - is a wonderful homage to the muscle-car fastback 'stangs of the late 60s and early 70s.

9) Chevrolet Corvette. All except the C4 style, which was an abomination in the eyes of Me. The current model is a sexy beast. I had an opportunity to drive one of the C5 generation while I sold cars, and it was definitely an experience.

8) Chevrolet Camaro. Much like Ford did with the Mustang, Chevy made an honest effort to get back to the original style with the new model. And it still works. The new Camaros turn my head right around. Attitude with power, and I like it!

7) Diesel pickups. Three-quarter and full-ton pickups with the loud diesel rumble get my attention. Too bad many of them are never used like they were designed - to pull BIG loads easily. It's easy to say, "Yeah, this baby will pull a trailer three times its size," but it's kind of silly to brag about that when there's no stinking hitch on the truck.

6) Jeep Wranglers. Ideally soft-top or no-top, and preferably door-less. One of the few vehicles out there that has numerous factory accessories to make it a true off-road machine. Rather impractical for anything other than playtime, they are a vehicle that makes no excuses about what they're for. (Or didn't, until the four-door "Wranglers" showed up.)

5) Q-cars. Sleepers. You probably won't see these in the other lane, and if they're in front of you, all you should expect to see is taillights. They look like daily drivers, but what's under the hood is a whole new game. Some of them are factory products (usually German, particularly Audi's S-badge, Bimmer's M-shop, and Me/Be's AMG-works) and some are home made. In my car days, the one I wanted was an Audi S4 Avant. A rather small wagon, all-wheel-drive, with a 2.7L twin-turbo under the hood. Off the showroom floor it would run 0-60 in 5.5. Aside from minor styling cues (17" wheels and an "S" badge on the hatch), it looked like a stock A4 wagon.

4) Custom muscle cars. Detroit iron. Chain steering wheels. Big fat rear wheels and tiny fronts. Mad Max-esque blowers sticking through the hood. Flame paint jobs and chrome. Exhaust that you FEEL before you hear. They make me giggle like a schoolgirl.

3) Properly-tuned rice rockets. Any jackass can dump a couple thousand into bolt-on body crap from Imports-R-Us and slap a fart can and a NOS sticker on their ricer. None of that makes it go faster. I'd MUCH rather see someone dump that money into engine tuning and suspension work, get their car into the 10- or 11-second range, THEN start worrying about ground effect and stupid lighting and so forth. (See above: Q-cars.)

2) Italian finery. Ferrari and Lamborghini. I've seen a few prancing stallions in the wild, and ONE Lambo. Very few things can compare with Italian sports cars when it comes to luxury and performance in one package.

1) Honda Prelude. Don't laugh. My first car was a '90 Prelude Si. A short-geared 145hp motor in a 2,400lb car has some serious ass. I detest the mid-90s "jellybean" style Preludes, but around '97 the styling improved dramatically, and so did power. I drove a '99 Prelude with VTEC once, and it was pretty bizarre.

I revved it up, dropped the clutch around 3,000, and it jumped, but not as hard as I'd expected. I shifted it through and kept it up in what I assumed to be the power band. The guy sitting next to me (a salesman for the local Honda shop and former co-worker from my shop) told me to try again, but this time, hold off the shifts until it was getting towards redline (around 8k, I believe). Around 5,500rpm, the VTEC cams clicked in, and suddenly I was thrown back in my seat with a face-splitting grin plastered on. Keeping the revs above the VTEC line proved easy, and the thing was a ROCKET.


So, there it is. My top-ten head-turners in no particular order. Tell me why I'm wrong!

Aug 1, 2010

Quick Wrap

Saturday: drive up early, check in to the hotel, drive to DT's SSR, set up with DT, Mrs. DT, and Jay. Hang out, enjoy the evening, go back to hotel, eventually get to sleep.

Sunday: Get up, catch up with Dragon, have breakfast, head to the range, unload, check out the hardware, shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot talk talk talk talk eat eat eat shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot talk talk talk talk ... step on a nail ... shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot...

Now I'm back in my hotel, had a couple burgers from McD's for dinner, a hot shower, and I'm probably going to be asleep within an hour.

Most fun I've had with my clothes on: FA .22LR ... suppressed.

Over the next couple days I'll have to make some adjustments on the blogroll, and may have a few new pictures to post.

TREMENDOUS thanks to DoubleTrouble and Mrs. DoubleTrouble for hosting us; to JayG for organizing, and to ALL the attendees who brought and shared SO MANY cool toys. More than once I heard, "Have you tried this? No? Here, have a magazine and go at it!"