Dec 21, 2012

Lotta words out there right now. Some good, some bad. Some reasoned, some not. From both sides of the fence.

Right now, though, I need to do some soul-searching. Figure out what's really important.

Not pulling what's here, but I think I'm going to stop posting for a bit. I might be back. Might not. Dunno.

See that man in the top right corner?

WWND?


III.

New battery...

Left for work this morning with a temp in the upper 20s. The truck grunted a few times before starting.

The forecast for next week isn't great; overnight lows in the single digits within ten days. Not good for batteries, especially weak ones.

Stopped at the parts store on my way home and had them stick in a new one. When considering that the battery taken out was the OEM - no newer than March 2007 - I think I got a respectable service life out of it.

Dec 20, 2012

From the back side of the counter...

Interesting piece up on Reddit in /r/guns today. Worth the read, even though the guy is a bit of a dick.

5 days before Christmas and I've got a 99 problems, and accessibility to product is pretty much all of them.

Dec 16, 2012

Progress...!

I've been eagerly awaiting the PaleHorse lower that's coming from York Arms. In conversation with Wally on other topics, he mentioned that he'd cut the lower recently, and was pleased with the results... and then sent me a picture.

In deference to his desire to avoid in-progress pictures, I'm not going to post the whole thing... but a small portion should be just fine.


The cuts are still full of mill coolant; hence the white-on-silver appearance.

I'm VERY excited to get this rifle built. :-)

Dec 12, 2012

Hunting, Killing, and You

Let me say this right now: I have no problem with hunters. I just don't like the idea of killing an innocent animal, so I personally will not do this. I realize this makes me a gigantic wuss and that I am neglecting important survival skills, but that's my problem and not yours. 
 --Erin Palette, "Hangin' with Oleg, part 3"

Erin posted that last night, as the second paragraph of a long post on her hunting trip with Oleg. I've been struggling with how best to answer it, as someone who's pretty passionate about hunting.

My first reaction is that this is a statement not many are willing to make. It's a very honest self-appraisal. It's not a criticism of hunters, or hunting as a sport or means of providing. I don't see someone who says, "No, I can't kill an animal," as a wuss, weakling, or vegetarian.

Most of us are brought up in a culture that insulates us from death. Death is something that happens in hospitals. Clean, sterile, quiet. Here; gone. Meat and death aren't related. Intellectually, we all know that the bacon cheeseburger (with extra bacon) that we're eating used to be a cow and a pig... but the process from barn to plate is often a pretty large grey area.

Hunting falls in that grey area. Looking through your sights at a living animal and pulling the trigger isn't easy. Some people don't want to do it - and that's fine. (Until they tell me that I shouldn't either; that's an entirely separate argument.) My parents aren't hunters - but they seem to enjoy hearing about my hunts. I don't Disney-fy my time in the woods for them, but I also don't give the same detail I might to a fellow hunter.

Example:
Parents version: It was a nice afternoon, occasional snow, etc, chipmunks, squirrels, deer came by, took a shot, hit her, she ran a ways, tracked her, nice size doe. (Fill in with adjectives and further descriptors of your choosing.)
Hunter version: It was a nice afternoon. Few flakes, not much breeze. Fucking chipmunks and squirrels were all OVER the place and I was tempted to just blast a few of them, but a spike and a couple doe came out of the brush right at sunset. I picked the biggest doe and waited for her to turn, took the shot... she hunched up right around it and started running, so I watched... she ran down that little swale to the east, and I lost sight of her in the thick shit at the end. Waited 15 or 20, then climbed down and started tracking. Good blood trail right away, nice pink frothy blood, followed it into that thick stuff and there she was. She was still breathing a little so I put one more in to finish her, then dressed her out and dragged her in...

Non-hunters don't care about the kind of blood trail I found, or how she reacted to the shot, or the fact that I made a finishing shot. Not sharing that information is done out of respect - but if someone asks, I'll happily explain it in detail.

So no, you aren't a wuss... and choose not to be a hunter. That's OK.

(My opinions of this semi-canned hunt are fodder for another post; stay tuned.)

Dec 5, 2012

Deal Alert: Lower kit

Palmetto State Armory is running a holiday special on a lower build kit. Stock, buffer, tube, and standard LPK for $79.

If you've got a lower waiting to be built, that's a great deal.

Late raffle entry

I somehow forgot to link this previously, and that's my bad.

Heath is raffling off a absolutely fucking GORGEOUS Savage 24, in .22Mag over 20ga.

Know how they say they don't make 'em like that anymore? Well, they don't. For a kick-ass upland game gun, that'd be tough to beat. 20ga will take quail, grouse, and pheasant with ease, and turkey if you're good. .22Mag will handily dispatch rabbits, fox, and coyotes.

Beyond that, LOOK at that gun! Beautiful figure in the forearm, amazing bluing...

It's $25 to get in. You'd be a fool not to.

Dec 4, 2012

still fishing...

Working on finishing up a few guns - need some new glass, new bipod, a few AR parts, so the ones mentioned before are still available, and I'm adding my Contender pistol to the mix. It's a Gen-1, blued frame, Pachmayr grips, and a "Super 14" in .30-30Win, with a Tasco 2x pistol scope. The scope's nothing to write home about, but it works and holds zero just fine. The frame has a small scuff on the left side where the fore end rubbed it, but is otherwise clean. Barrel is immaculate. Looking for $500 shipped, offers considered. (Values are ALL over the board on these, but $450ish without a scope seems to be average. Adding a scope and shipping...)

AR stuff I'm specifically looking for is a 12" handguard - either an Rainier or Samson Evolution, or a Troy Alpha - and a MAGS EFX stock kit.

Optics that'll grab me are decent quality 10x, and decent 3-9x.

Dec 3, 2012

Muzzleloader followup

I mentioned in my hunting trip notes that I needed a side hammer spur for the Omega.

Turns out that won't work. As I started looking, it was pointed out that the action design - essentially a falling-block setup - won't open if the hammer is widened.

Next thought: a scope that sits forward enough to clear the hammer entirely. I may look into another Nikon P223 3x32, actually.

Dec 2, 2012

2012 Hunt Report

Alright, now that I've had some sleep, a couple hot showers, and so forth, I can write something resembling a coherent report.

We drove out Wednesday morning, stopped for brunch on the way, and got to the farm in the early afternoon. It was snowing a bit, and we picked spots that seemed likely.

Neither of us saw anything.

We trudged our way back to our trucks only to get into a minor disagreement with the neighbor; apparently we'd parked on the wrong side of a fenceline and the trucks were on his property; he made not-very-thinly-veiled accusations that we were hunting without permission, had no right to be on the land, etc. Telling him I married the owner's daughter shut down that line real fast.

Don't misunderstand - we were on the wrong side of the fence - but he came out spoiling for a fight instead of just saying, "Hey, guys, just so you know, the fence is the line and for various reasons I really prefer you not park on my land in the future." We were unfailing polite, introduced ourselves, shook hands, etc, which made it a little hard for him to stay too mad, but ... sheesh. Common courtesy goes a long way.

We headed to our rented cabin, got there around 5:30 after missing a turn. It was a relatively snug little cabin but really needed some minor attention and upkeep - no deal-breakers but a lot of no-repeat-stay things. Grocery run for a few missing items, dinner of chili and tortillas, and early bedtime. Neither of us slept real well, but the alarm went off at 5:30 and up we got. The forecast was decent; partly sunny and 30s with moderate wind.

We drove to the farm, getting there right at sunrise - a hair later than intended, but so be it. I picked a spot that called to me, and my hunting partner decided he was going to still-hunt around the south end of the property (a 2-plus mile hike). I set my stool up under a likely tree with a good view of the travel paths we'd scouted, and waited. And waited. And waited.

I sipped my water, shifted my legs a little to keep them from falling asleep, and so forth. Mid-morning I leaned my gun (T/C Omega .50) against the tree behind me and started doing shoulder rolls to try to work the kinks out. I stretched left, right, left, ri- SHITTHERE'SADEERTHERE. Three does had walked up on me from my 5 o'clock and were crossing my 3, less than ten yards away and completely silent.

I grabbed the rifle as quickly as I could without being sudden, brought it down - and they were behind some brush, 20-30 yards away, and moving around to 12. There was a little swale in the land I hadn't seen, and I couldn't get a clear shot, so I slowly stood up and shouldered the gun. I picked a likely candidate, and tried to thumb back the hammer... and found my glove was keeping me from getting my thumb between the scope and hammer (note to self: buy a hammer spur). I silently cursed, fumbled the glove off and dropped it - startling all three deer.

None ran, but they were all looking my direction. I looked elsewhere. (Never make eye contact with prey; they somehow pick up on it and unass the area FAST.) When heads turned back away, I re-shouldered the gun, cocked the hammer, and picked the one that wasn't blocked by trees - a medium-sized doe at about 50 yards. She was standing still, quarter-towards me, so I waited. She turned, I squeezed the trigger...

The rifle went bang, the deer startled and ran about three steps, then stopped and looked around. I started reloading, she walked off. Walked. I watched all three as they moved through the edge of the woods and into the adjacent field as I finished reloading. I crept out to the field edge and tried for another shot, but couldn't get a clear line as they worked away from me... so I went back and sat down.

After 20 minutes or so I walked down to where she'd been standing to check for any sign. Nothing. AGAIN. I swore. A lot. I debated the merits of selling guns and buying a side of beef. When hunting partner had hunted around to me, I checked the zero on my gun with a convenient tree. Off-hand, standing, at 50 yards, I put a bullet an inch from where I was aiming. So it wasn't the gun.

What happened? Two Three possibilities:
- I cleaned the gun thoroughly after my last range trip to check zero. I snapped a few primers to re-foul the barrel but it may not have been enough.
- Whatever oil and water was left in the barrel from cleaning dampened the powder just enough to really screw up my ballistics.
- I missed. Flubbed. Jerked the trigger. Flinched. Who knows?

What was it? Probably some combination of all three. On the plus side, it was (yet again) a clean miss.

We went and had lunch, re-set for the afternoon, and saw nothing.

Dinner in cabin, played some cards and shot the shit and fantasized about all the deer we hadn't seen that day, and crashed hard.

Friday morning's forecast wasn't quite as pretty, nor were we moving real fast, but we got up, and got to the farm, and formed a vague plan. I went to a spot near where I'd been the day before, in hopes of seeing the same three does. Hunting partner planned to start at the south end and work north through the creekbed towards me.

He texted me about a half hour later, to the effect of, "Screw this, I'm working your way now and then we'll see." He made his way to my spot around 9, and then went to sit on the other side of the knoll I was on. Around 10:30 we were both cold and tired and headed in.

Back to the cabin for lunch, some cards, a beer, and then back to the farm around 3 to sit until dark. We were both tired - I missed a turn and we were both just moving slow. It started to snow as we got there, and the snow picked up in intensity as the afternoon wore through. I was sitting in a different spot in a one-man chair blind, which kept the worst of the snow off me. When I flipped the blind open at dusk, there was better than an inch of fresh snow down and more coming.

Hunting partner headed home; he'd had enough for the week and was cold, frustrated, and missing his family. I completely understood the sentiment. I'd been kicking around the idea of heading home that night as well; we had the cabin for one more night but sitting in a quiet cabin with only my thoughts for company - after spending the previous two days in the woods with only my thoughts for company - didn't sound so appealing.

Fortunately, MrsZ decided to come out for the night; we had the cabin to ourselves, had some dinner at a local diner, played some cards, and slept as well as can be expected on an air mattress.

Saturday morning MrsZ and I went back out to the farm; she to visit cows and me to keep her company. We saw a few deer mid-morning, several hundred yards off and moving fast. Lots of deer tracks across the fields; fresh overnight. And LOTS of coyote tracks.

So, the trip was a bust for hunting, but it was still a mostly-decent trip. I talked to my in-laws briefly and have permission to build a small cabin on the property, exact location TBD, for hunting purposes. Hunting Partner has expressed interest in this as well; it'll save us a lot of driving and time in future years, not to mention making one-night trips a much easier proposition. Stay tuned for how that develops...

Dec 1, 2012

Home again...

Back from the hunting trip. Skunked again.

This is beginning to get really ... really ... REALLY frustrating.

Nov 28, 2012

Ouch - I feel this one

Jennifer dropped the hammer on a deer, and heard the second loudest noise in the world - a *click* when expecting a BOOM. She includes a picture of the dimpled round, which is a Hornady V-Max .223. I made a quick comment from my tablet last night, which was... pointed.

I have a real computer in front of me now and expanded upon it there, but reposting here because it's important information, IMHO.

On re-read in the dim light of morning, my reply last night was a bit brusque. I apologize – I was on my tablet and fighting it for spelling. Not an excuse, mind you, just circumstance.

Now that I’m in front of a real computer, a more-better answer. As Daniels already said, Vmax won’t hold together. They’re pretty fragile bullets, short of being frangible, and smacking a rib or shoulder blade on the way in will turn them into shards that don’t penetrate very well. The deer may well die, but it’ll do it a day or two and several miles later.

Bonded bullets – things like Remington CoreLokt, Hornady Interlocks/Interbonds, and the like – are designed to take that hit without shedding the jacket and fragmenting. They’ll create one consistent wound channel through the deer and mash the necessary vitals on the way through.

One step further, perhaps in a slightly different direction, is the solids, like the Barnes TSX I mentioned before. It’s a single-metal construction, so there is no jacket to shed, and the TSX in particular is known for outstanding performance on deer.

I don’t know what twist rate you’re using in your rifle, but even if it’s a 1/9 I’d suggest getting a box or two of 62gr CoreLokt Premiums or Barnes TSX, getting a new zero, and using those. If you’re lucky enough to be using a 1/8 or 1/7 rifle, I’d step up to the 69-72gr range.

There’s a VERY long thread on ArfCom about deer hunting with .223 here. And, corollary, another one from a guy getting pretty soundly lambasted for blaming the bullet for losing a deer.
-----------------

Personal anecdote: A few years ago, I was out in the end of deer season and tromping across a field near sunset. I didn't see a drifted-over drainage ditch, and went ass-over-teakettle into it. My gun (870) got thoroughly packed with snow. I cleared the bore, receiver, etc, and reloaded. A few minutes later a deer popped out of the hedge, I raised the gun, took a shot, and missed. I worked the action, and instead of loading the next shell, the magazine tube promptly vomited all four slugs into foot-deep snow. Seems when I'd reloaded, the shell lifter had gotten frozen in the up position, and when I pulled the slide back, the shell catch in the tube froze open. I went home and hung it up for the day.

Holster Winner

I forgot to mention this last week when the drawing was done. Old Windways won the Talon, and chose the python skin. It went to its new home yesterday.

Thanks to everyone who donated, and congratulations to ALL the winners.

Nov 27, 2012

WTF?

Remember that double-barrel 1911-ish gun that was shown last year?

ATF approved it for import.

No word on price, but as Morgan said, "If you have to ask..."

Why?

Because the government says I shouldn't, that's why.


Hunting Guns

As I mentioned yesterday, the Mossberg isn't going with me tomorrow; I'll be taking my T/C Omega muzzleloader and Contender pistol. But I also need (prefer) to take a pistol; both for two- and four-legged reasons.

My choices are:
- 1911 .45ACP
- S&W 642 .38spl
- S&W 21 .44Spl
- S&W M&P40c

I have retention-type holsters for all but the 642, which would be zipped into a coat pocket. Which should I take, and why?

Discuss.

Nov 26, 2012

Frustration on the range

Last time I went to the range, it was to check zero on my hunting guns. As you may recall, the muzzleloader was on, and the Mossberg 500 was refusing to zero. I chalked that up to a crappy package scope going bad, and set it aside.

I missed with the smokepole the second day of the season. I went out with my iron-sighted 870 two days later, and promptly missed with that as well.

In other words, this has not been a good season.

I'm heading to the in-laws' farm this weekend with plans of filling the freezer, and had no guns I felt I could trust, so it was back to the range today.

I started with the Mossberg. I yanked the scope off and borrowed the Eotech from MrsZ's AR. I boresighted it and took a shot at 25. Made a few adjustments and got it pretty close at 25. Put up a target at 100 and ... barely on the backer.

Bring it in to 50, dial in a few adjustments, and it's knocking out a consistent 2-3" group at 50. Not exceptional, but certainly not bad for a shotgun and more than adequate for deer.

Back out to 100, and the group has become a pattern yet again. Tried taking two or three shots looking for a consistent hit... nothing. Quite literally a 20-inch spread.

Brought it back to 50, and it's not perfect but it's still grouping. One last try at 100, and it's gone again. None of these keyholed, they just weren't holding.

I ran out of shells at that point. I burned three boxes of Hornady SSTs trying to get this done. I cursed. A lot. That's near-on fifty bucks in ammo, for those of you who don't buy sabot slugs. I had blamed the earlier problems on the scope; now that the Eotech did the same thing I'm not convinced. The cantilever rail feels solid, the barrel/bore looks fine, etc. The consistency at 50 yards leads me to believe it's not a mechanical problem... somewhere between 50 and 100 yards, those slugs are doing funny things. They're dropping the sabot around 20 yards (easy to find in the grass), so that's not it. Not keyholing, so not tumbling... they shouldn't be going transonic anywhere inside 250yd.

I'm at a complete loss. These same slugs were shooting like magic last year. (I didn't have anything to shoot them at, but that's not the ammo's fault.) The clear answer is to buy a couple boxes of different brands and try again. Unfortunately, I have neither the time nor the disposable income at the moment to blow $50-60 on a few boxes of sabots and then another 50 when I find out what shoots well.

The muzzleloader, fortunately, managed to group and shoot like a charm; I put three slugs into 3" at 100yd and called it good. Came home and cleaned it, fired a few primers to re-foul the bore, and that'll be my hunting gun for the year.

(All this shooting, by the by, was done without a bag etc. I leaned my elbows on the bench much like I'd lean them on my knees in a blind or stand.)

If anyone has any insight about the Mossberg, I'm all ears.

Nov 25, 2012

Hunting 2012

I've been out twice. I saw deer both days, and missed both days. I haven't been out since.

I pulled the cheap package scope off the Mossberg last night, and stuck on the Eotech that had been on the Delicate Flower AR. Tomorrow I'm going to the range to get that zeroed and to double-check the zero on the muzzleloader.

Wednesday morning, the Great Hunt begins. Two of us are going to the farm, and a third may be joining us later in the week. Cabin is rented, menu is roughly planned, and I can't wait to be out. Forecast is even halfway decent - although Friday night might get a little chilly.

I suspect I won't do much updating after Tuesday - and there's nothing in the can to amuse you. So talk amongst yaselfs.

Nov 24, 2012

Live Crowds

I'm not much of a social person. As a general rule, crowds make me a little jittery. Corresponding to this, I haven't been to a whole lot of big concerts.
- NSync, Meredith Brooks, and Jimmy Ray, 1998, St. Louis MO
- "Face2Face" (Billy Joel & Elton John) in 2001, Syracuse NY
- "Last Play at Shea" (Billy Joel) in 2008, NYC NY
- Keith Urban at the NYS Fair, 2012
- LoneStar, Deer Valley UT, 2012 (and that was a small crowd for a private show)

Why am I remembering this? Because Borepatch went and posted a video of Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett's "Five O'Clock Somewhere". The video includes footage of the crowd, which is one-hundred-percent INTO the show.

Crowds with energy like that can be a whole lot of fun. They still make me a little jittery, but they sure can be fun.

Shea Stadium was like that. Our group had floor seats thanks to the guy who invited me. Turning around and seeing 80,000 people singing along with Billy (and an all-star guest list) is just... magic.

(The link for the Shea concert, btw, goes to a YouTube video of the entire concert.)

Movie Notes: Seal Team Six

It was on Netflix, I worked overnight and needed a way to kill a couple hours.

It was OK. Not great. Not the O fluff-piece I was expecting, although it cast him in a decent light. (Not great. Decent.)

Casting is meh, lots of no-names and a few recognizable faces. Overall cinematography felt like a live-action version of ModernWarfare17 (or whatever the current version is).

It was fine for killing some time on an overnight shift; I'd not give it more than that.

Nov 22, 2012

Pork Loin with Cabbage

I whipped this up the other night; it wasn't too bad at all. The pork was a hair overdone, so adjust accordingly.

Ingredients:
4 boneless pork loin chops
3 cloves garlic
3 apples
1 head cabbage
spice rub
cider vinegar
brown sugar
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 300F.

Rinse and pat the chops dry, then dust both sides with spice rub:

Set those aside for a few minutes while you do the rest of the prep work. Core and dice the apples, then toss with a quarter cup of cider vinegar to minimize browning:

Chop your garlic, and toss it in a skillet with some olive oil over medium heat:

As soon as it starts to brown, put the chops in too:

Give 'em a few minutes; just enough to lightly brown, then flip 'em:

Once the other side is browned as well, put them in a large casserole and set aside. Add a little more oil to the skillet, and keep the heat on. Quarter and core the cabbage, and slice into 1/4" strips.

A quarter-head at a time, give them a trip through the skillet, just enough to start wilting. Add a pinch of salt to each quarter:

Put the first two quarters over the chops in the casserole, then add the apples and a few tablespoons of brown sugar. Add the remaining cabbage, cover tightly, and stick it in the oven for 30 minutes or until the chops are cooked through:

(I forgot the "after" picture, but take my word: it's pretty tasty, albeit one-color. Add some red cabbage or carrots for color, and season to taste. A bulb of fennel sauteed with the cabbage would be excellent as well.)

Nov 21, 2012

Pack a pipe

I am not, by nature, a smoker. I can count on one hand the number of cigarettes I've tried in my life. They're really not that pleasant, the smell clings and lingers, etc.

That said, there is something a bit deeper to a good cigar or a pipe. Poking around some of the pipe sites online (because pipes are art, and fascinating to look at), I found this article. Good reading.

Now, unlike cigarettes, pipes are a) sacramental b) delicious c) much less harmful d) not addicting and e) packed with class. Men need to recover the lost art of pipe-smoking to a) feel more manly b) relearn the experience of fellowship c) connect with their great, ancestral, pipe-smoking past d) learn to contemplate and e) (if they are cigarette smokers) to replace addiction with ritual.
My pipe comes out a handful of times every year; it's a wonderful relaxation on a summer's evening to smoke and listen to the cicadas as the sky slips into dark.

Nov 20, 2012

Parking lot gun shows

Trade completed on AR uppers. Swapped my DPMS A2/DCM for a DPMS M1S* 24" bull barrel flat-top. Met in a WallyWorld lot, looked over uppers, said, "I'm good, you?" "Yep." Shook hands, and went on our way. Total time less than five minutes.

Now to find a scope for it...

* - the seller advertised it as a DPMS upper, I took him at his word. Not many uppers are marked, and those that are often have the markings under the handguard. I found the tiny etching on the barrel later while doing a more detailed teardown. Regardless of make, I am content with the trade I made; DPMS and M1S are both decent entry-level rifles.

Nov 17, 2012

Methinks they doth protest too much

The bakers union is crowing about their ability to shut down Hostess.

The above article has the following winning quotes:

"Hopefully, this will be an example to other companies not to [try to] break their unions."
"[T]he Hostess case may prove to corporate investors that the working class must be reckoned with[.]"
"Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant said, 'philosophically, I think the union wins' in the Hostess standoff."
Just so we're clear on this, Hostess operated 30-odd plants around the country, in quite a few states (to bring those tasty treats to you FRESH!), and employed nearly 19,000 people.

3,500 people - less than one in five - went on strike.

One fifth of the workforce cost the other 80% their livelihood.

If I was a striking worker, I'd be looking over my shoulder starting yesterday. If I was one of the non-striking workers and had lost my job a week before Thanksgiving thanks to the actions of a bunch of thugs, I'd certainly consider looking for some revenge... Especially since the union is now calling this a win.

Here's a hint, UAW: go on strike. Shut down Ford, GM, and Chrysler. Force bankruptcy. Nissan, Toyota, and Honda employ workers in US factories... without unions. They'll happily pick up the slack.

Nov 16, 2012

Feel-good story

After the downer this morning, this seemed like a good story to share. I'll admit, I read the opening line, "Wanda Butts lost her teenage son in a drowning accident six years ago, and ever since then she has been working to change a troubling statistic," and expected someone who has pushed for new laws, regulations, pool sensors, etc. But, no:

Since 2007, Butts and her nonprofit, the Josh Project, have helped nearly 1,200 children -- most of them minorities -- learn how to swim. [...] Swimming and water safety education are basic life skills that all should know.
Not blaming the pool, or a lifeguard, or technology. Simple fact: Water is around us, everyone should know how to deal with it.

Doing it right.

What Cliff?



Bayou Renaissance Man has been writing a LONG series of posts about what's happening, and what's coming. Lots of cites, big words, and good information.

Even CNN is getting in on the action now.
Here's why: If there is no fiscal cliff deal, the Bush tax cuts will expire, and everyone's tax rates will go up. That will reduce the amount of money paid to workers, because employers will be withholding more.
In addition, the temporary payroll tax holiday -- which for the past two years has boosted pay by more than $80 a month for workers making $50,000 and twice that for those making $100,000 -- will also expire, reducing paychecks even more.
MrsZ and I aren't quite living paycheck-to-paycheck, but we're in the fairly typical spot of young-ish couples - building a savings while paying off student loans, mortgage, and a car payment. We're grinding along, and a $100-200 per month decrease in our take home pay will hurt. No, we won't go broke, not even slowly. We'll trim a little more, cancel the things we really don't need, and figure out how to make it work. Things like cell phones, internet at home, and NetFlix will go by the wayside. Luxury food items (we love good cheese) will become a real luxury treat instead of an every-few-weeks enjoyment. Spending on hobbies will be cut.

Make sure you understand the source of this. It's not "the Bush tax cuts". It's a government that has run amok, refuses to pass a budget for years, and continues to increase expenditures without a plan to pay for them. The pundits have called it "kicking the can down the road". Guess what? The can is resting against the curb. If you kick it, you're going to break your metaphorical toe. Wikipedia has a pretty good image. Those gaps between the red bar and the blue line? That's our economic death by papercuts.

I have no problem with a social safety net - but that net isn't a goddamn hammock. (h/t Robb Allen) Welfare isn't meant to be comfortable, it's meant to be subsistence while you look for something better. It's time to start examining how things like food stamps, EBT, and phones are being handled. Healthcare is going through the roof with the change to single-payer healthcare. A post I saw yesterday had a guy's family-coverage insurance premiums increasing from $3,800/yr to $4,900/yr. It's not chump change. Bailouts are costing us money; social programs are bleeding us dry - and we're refusing to open our eyes and look.

People are screaming, "Tax the rich!" and, "Tax the corporations!"

We'll take those in reverse. Corporations don't pay taxes. Oh, they write a check to the government every month, or every quarter, but where do those taxes come from? Right out of their gross receipts on products sold. Increase taxes, increase prices. Simple.

As to the rich... The 20 richest people in the US have a combined net worth in the vicinity of $540 billion. That's a hell of a lot of money. But it's not their annual income. It's their worth on paper; in stocks and property. If Microsoft crashes, Bill Gates is still rich but has lost about a quarter of his personal wealth (6.4% holdings of 8.9B public shares at $26.00ea). If the government chose to confiscate the fortune of every one of those twenty richest people, and applied it directly to the national debt, it would eliminate about three percent of the US debt. That's it. If, instead, those confiscated fortunes were applied to the current year's expenditures, we'd reduce our deficit from about $900B to $400B. It's still a deficit and cannot continue forever.

Let me reemphasize that: It's still a deficit and cannot continue forever.

The only fix for where we are now is to balance the budget, start running a surplus, and pay off our national debt. That's only going to happen with some painful changes. NOW is the time to make those changes, while we have some choice in where the cuts are made. The longer we wait, the narrower our window becomes, and the more abrupt and painful the fall will be.

I saw a phrase somewhere last night about the economy being "the spark of anger" or some such nonsense. It's not. I don't see an armed uprising on the horizon. Localized disturbances, yes, but not large-scale revolution. No, what will happen is just what Ayn Rand predicted: people are going to go Galt.

The government is refusing to spend my taxes wisely; thus I will start reducing those taxes in any way possible. Trade, barter, and exchange. Buy used, for cash. Claim every possible deduction on income taxes. Build my ARs and reload my own ammo, instead of buying already-manufactured. (Did you know there's an 11% excise on guns and ammunition?)

We can't drop off the grid completely... but we can sure reduce our footprint.

How long until this is the image on the steps of the Capitol?

Stock up on Twinkies!

Hostess is closing! (I haven't quite figured out why they need a court's permission to shut the doors, unless it falls under Directive 10-289.)

(NSFW/language)



And if you haven't watched Zombieland all the way through, you need to.

Nov 14, 2012

Reloading Annoyance...

I just dusted off the reloading bench for the first time in... well, a while. Probably over a year. I think the last thing I reloaded was a large pile of my mousefart .38 loads, just in time for Northeast Blogshoot ... 2011.

Tonight, though, I did something new.

I was going to crank out a box of medium-speed .38s to stuff in a snubby while hunting. I set up, checked lengths, grabbed a bag of primed brass, and tweaked my powder measure. I dumped powder into a dozen cases, spot-checked, and tweaked the measure a bit again.

The next five were consistent, so I finished the tray of 50. I went back and spot-checked a couple more, and  found weights varying by almost a half-grain. This in a powder (Ramshot TrueBlue) that has a "start" of 5.3 and a "max" of 5.9. None were over max, but the spread of 5.1 to 5.6 was Not OK.

So here's what I did that's new: I dumped every single one back into the measure and tried again.

I fiddled with the measure a bit more and still couldn't get a consistent drop, so I put that powder away and figured I'd load up a box of my mousefarts.

Switched powders, and dug in. Tweak measure, drop powders ... Again, couldn't get consistent results, this time using IMR TrailBoss. 3.4-3.9 was the spread, 3.5 was the goal. After fifteen or twenty minutes of farting around with this set and not getting anywhere, I poured all the powder back in the jar and cleaned up my bench. Something Ain't Right, and I'm too tired to figure it out right now. I know I want/need a new scale, and I'm suspecting I need a new powder measure.

In the meantime, I can sort, size, and prime a whole pile of brass.

*sigh*

Sobering words

Over at Wilson's place... Read the whole thing.


All along I assumed that I was an 'average American voter' and that certain things important to me were also important to most other voters. I assumed that this mythical 'average voter' was more concerned about the country's long term wellbeing rather than their own petty personal gain. I assumed that their future freedom and that of their children/grandchildren was actually important to them. You know what they say about assumptions.
[...]
Time is running short. Good luck to us all.
MrsZ and I are slowly making some of our own plans. Like Wilson, being OUT of debt is high on our priority list. Admittedly without giving up all of our hobbies, which aren't cheap, but are important to our sanity.

Like Wilson, I'm not really planning on any more guns once the pending WallyRifle is done. I'm trolling a few pieces here and there to potential buyers; any income from that will be turned into ammo and reloading materials.

Our garden for next year is roughly three times the size it was this year. We canned and froze a tremendous amount of vegetables this year, and we're getting into them already.

Once the rest of the budget is under control, I'm putting silver on the list. We've got a small amount already; it's time for more.

Hedge your bets, kids.

Tamalanche

(See, Erin? Just for you.)

We had a pow-wow the other night, and got most of the players on one phone call at one time, and made some appointments.

Jay is the keeper of the link-farm and pimpmaster. Go here for a list of prizes and how to enter.

OldNFO is the Cat-herder in Chief.

Jennifer is the point of contact for entries.

IF YOU HAVE ALREADY MADE AN ENTRY TO ONE OF US INDIVIDUALLY, YOU DO NOT NEED TO RE-CONTACT JENNIFER.

And if you prefer to make a silly donation, get in touch with Erin regarding the fun pack.

As to why we're doing this, RobertaX has a post up which nails it:
The first bill has already arrived and thanks to you, it will roll right back out, paid in full.
That's it, right there.

And lest you think Tam hasn't noticed, she's trying to figure out how to do her best impression of Rain Man.

Nov 12, 2012

Brief Range Report

Gun season for deer opens this coming Saturday. I have high hopes that it'll be better than last year; it certainly can't be any worse.

Today's weather was decent, so I tossed a target and the hunting guns in the truck and went to the range. It was windy, but I'm tossing 250gr slugs at ~1800fps. At 100yd, the wind drift will be minimal.

I started with my muzzleloader (a T/C Omega, if you care); my standard hunting load is two 50gr/50cal pellets of Hodgdon 7-7-7 behind a T/C 250gr Shockwave bonded sabot. The first shot went about four inches high of the bull. I dialed it down a few clicks, and it punched dead-center. One more shot to confirm was about 2" high. Perfectly acceptable, and I put it aside.

On to the shotgun. I swapped to a Mossberg 500 in 20ga with a rifled/scoped barrel about two years ago, and I've killed several deer with this gun. My standard slug is a Hornady 250gr SST, and it's consistently been a bang-flop cartridge. I haven't had to follow a deer more than about 50 yards using this setup.

I popped a slug in, settled the crosshairs on the target, and pulled the trigger. Four or five inches left and a few inches low. I dialed in a couple minutes of elevation and a touch of windage, and shot again. Six inches right and bang-on elevation.

Adjusted the windage a bit left and shot again. Good windage, ten inches high.

*facepalm* One more try, and it was again good windage, eight inches low. Screws are all tight... Crap.

I'm not going to sit there chasing a zero (at $3/shot!) without knowing what's going on. The slugs I was using had been riding in my center console all year and may have suffered some from that ... but not that much. I'll pick up another (fresh) box later this week and try again; if it's not consistent in three shots and zeroed in two more I'll be putting it aside for the season and hunting with the muzzle loader and my Contender pistol exclusively. (I can also bring out the iron-sighted 870 if I so desire.)

I don't have the money to buy a new scope, and I'm suspicious that's where the problem lies. The scope is a MADE IN CHINA no-name that came with the package and doesn't scream quality. I'd like to put on a compact 4x or something like a Redfield 2-7x. But that's not this week's problem.

To be continued...

Nov 11, 2012

Raffle: Consolidated

Jay has become the link-master (no word on whom the gatekeeper may be); please enter if you can, and spread the word either way. These are all *donations*. None of us are keeping a penny; it's all going to Tam.

Larry takes out the trash...

So, since I’m a conservative and an entertainer, I should just keep my mouth shut and not have an opinion because I might offend somebody? Uh… Hell no.

Recipe:
- one whiny union democrat voter
- one conservative author
- one comment
- one blog post
- one metaphorical woodshed

Well, that didn't take long


Nov 10, 2012

Minor Update

As it quickly became obvious that there are a LOT of us that are getting in to help Tam, we started chatting about a better way to organize the raffles.

We're still ironing out the kinks, but there will be one person designated (probably Jennifer, but wait for confirmation before bombarding her) to receive your emailed receipt, along with your own apportionment of entries. Any existing entries will be transferred, so no need to worry about that.

*Right now* your options are my Dragon Talon at $5/per, Rimfire Designs grips at $5/per, and OldNFO's pile o' swag for $25/per. I suspect Dragon and McThag will get on board as well, although I'm not certain yet.

The other change, and I realize this may not be to everyone's taste, is that this will run through Thanksgiving - another twelve days. Instead of the original 200 entries I'd planned on, we're going to go 'til it's over. If someone is terribly upset by this, please email me privately and we'll see what can be arranged.

And again, please, be patient. We're herding cats here.

ETA: Jennifer (jennifer at injennifershead dot com) is the designated collector of receipts. Dragon is also on board with the group raffle at his existing donation price of $5.56. SO if you want to enter one in each, make your donation over at Tam's tip jar for $40.56, then send Jennifer your receipt with the number of entries to each. Yeah, it's a little complicated, but ... well, it's the best way to keep us all sorta-organized.

A little morning music

I first heard this song a few weeks ago but didn't catch who was playing it. This morning, I got it.

Kacey Musgraves.

Watch for this young lady; she's got a touch of June Carter in that voice. The right songs are going to take her places.

The list grows!

So, as just mentioned, there's a Dragon Leatherworks Talon being raffled off here.

The Dragon hisownself is raffling of a Viper on his site.

Rimfire Designs is raffling off a set of grips.

And then NFO kicked it to 11, and is raffling a Colt Diamondback and other goodies.

Carteach0 has kicked in an ISSC M-22, which looks to be a .22 shaped like a Block Glock. (I believe that's going to be part of NFO's raffle.)

McThag is auctioning a Spike's stripped lower - worth its weight in gold as of three days ago!

(I should note that each of these raffles is being run separately; entering for my holster doesn't get you into Dragon's raffle, or Rimfire Designs, or NFO's. So click those links for details.)

I don't talk about it much, but about four years ago I had two surgeries in a row to try to deal with a kidney stone*. These were not horribly invasive surgeries, as things go; they just roto-rootered my schwanz and stuck a tube between my kidney and bladder, then beat the hell out of me with ultrasound. Twice. The week of time between placement and removal was pure misery; I did the first one, passed blood and rocks for a week of pain, had the tube removed, and quickly learned they hadn't gotten it all (by "learned" I mean "was writhing in pain again within twenty-four hours"). So I was given another week to recover, then repeated the process. There's still a piece floating around in there, too.

The grand total billed to my insurance was in the neighborhood of $18,000 for that little go-round. X-ray, ultrasound, a couple of CT scans, anesthesia (twice), etc. No knife ever touched my body, which would have changed a lot of things - like going from a moderate sedative and spinal block to full-on paralytic and intubation, and a lot more cost.

Sounds like Tam's adventure won't be too bad... but I gar-on-tee it won't be cheap, either. So if you can, pick one of the above and pitch in.

* - "funny" moment from the whole thing. Doctor gets the ultrasound results and shows them to me, then says, "Well, the stone is about nine millimeters in diameter, which is about the size of a-" and I started laughing, "Yeah, doc, I know how big nine millimeters is." Never did find out what his analogy was going to be, come to think of it...

Holy crap

You guys are the best.

I put up that holster yesterday, and by 9:00 nearly 40 entries had gone out the door.

I just checked my email as the dog walks herself, and another 60+ are waiting in my inbox. I'll get them acknowledged and into the hat shortly.

I'm nearly in tears from the generosity of every single one of you. Thank you, so much.

Shower and coffee, and more brain dribbles in a bit.

Nov 9, 2012

Something something to something cancer

Jay has threatened to bring out his skirt again. It's on, sucka.

I'm sure that most of you who read Tam's blog know about the diagnosis of Basal Cell Carcinoma she just received.

She has a tip jar over there, on the right side of the page; feel free to use it. In fact, I'm going to encourage its use. I have yet to meet Tam in meatspace, but I'd still call her a friend. One of us. I've enjoyed reading her wit, snark, and have even gleaned a few useful bits of info about our common hobbies. More than enough enjoyment to warrant a sawbuck or two.

So yes, please hit the tip jar - but I'm going to up the ante a bit.

Hit that tip jar. When you finish the transaction, it'll create a receipt for you. Save that page as a PDF/TIF file (Chrome will save direct to PDF, Microsoft Image Writer will save to TIF) and send it to me Jennifer, OR forward the email receipt to me her. jennifer at injennifershead dot com. Let her know which of the raffles you want your entries to be in! If something isn't clear, ask us!

Should look like this:

Every five bucks you throw her will get your name on a slip of paper. I'm going to toss those names in a hat and track the total. When the total reaches a thousand dollars in donations On Thanksgiving, as changed here, I'm going to pull a name out of the hat, and the lucky winner will receive their choice of one of these two holsters:


They're both Dragon Leatherworks "Talon" models, cut and molded for a 5" 1911 (but a commander should fit fine!). The one on the left is a sanded stingray inlay, and the one on the right is a rainbow python inlay. They're both freakin' beautiful... but you'll have to pick one.

Five bucks for a swing at a Dragon, and helping out a friend? How can you lose?

Edit to clarify: These are already-made holsters from my personal collection. Yes, they've both been worn a few times - but not much, since there isn't much call for BBQ in NY... The winner gets his choice of one or the other.

Clothing...

I'm a practical guy about clothing. Wranglers, uniform boots, sweatshirts, flannel ... I like to be comfortable, and I'm a cheap sonofabitch about clothing. $60 for a pair of Levis? Screw that; I can buy three pairs of Wranglers that fit better and last longer for the same money. That said, I am willing to pay for durability.

I somehow got on the mailing list for Duluth Trading. A lot of their stuff looks like it's pretty solid, and the "no crack" shirts are damn near designed for IWB carry. Anyone ever bought any of their stuff? Thoughts? I need a few things.

Christmas Wish List

These grabbed my attention in a hurry, since a Sharpie is part of my daily carry stuff. Stainless and refillable? Oh YES please!

This rail/handguard for the Pale Horse would be spiffy. Sticking with the Pale Horse, this scope and this buttstock would round it out perfectly... Along with a set of reloading dies (and the crimp die).

And if you're feeling really generous, the S&W 1911SC E-series would be great.

(No one EVER said my wish list had to be reasonable.)

Nov 8, 2012

Winter stuff

Winter has (mostly) arrived here in the Northeast, so I figured I'd punch a few of the seasonal buttons:
- Have you changed batteries in your smoke and CO alarms?
- Have you checked and re-inflated your tires? (Mine were 5psi low all the way around with the temperature drop.)
- Have you shut off and drained your outside taps?
- If you use a solid-fuel appliance, have you had the chimney or vent cleaned and inspected?
- Is your car kit up to date?

Enjoy the weather!

Nov 7, 2012

Fair seas and following winds...

The USS Enterprise (CVN-65) is being decommissioned.

The world's first nuclear aircraft carrier is being shut down.

Then again, there are plenty of letters left in the alphabet. (I'd give you a video clip, but Paramount is a beast about copyright.)
Seen over at ENDO:


I approve.

But in better news:
Congratulations, Mr. President. Let's get to work.

Nov 6, 2012

Next game

MrsZ sent me the link to this review.
"When a player lands on the “Social Justice” game board space, they draw a “Social Justice” card, read it to the group, and players for whom the card applies must pay the designated dollar penalties listed on the card. Let’s just say no one likes to land on the “Social Justice” spaces; they are described as “examples of intrusive government.”"
Buy it here. I intend to. :)

Nov 4, 2012

Winter sounds

Round about sunset tonight, I was doing the usual household chores, and took the compost out to the bin. As I came in, it started to snow a bit - little pellets, not big flakes, but snow nonetheless.

I stopped and stood, and listened to the rattle of snow on dry fallen leaves.

A bird winged by on the way home for the night, just a fluttery whisper over the rattling snow.

One of the goats snorted and stamped in her stall.

But over it all; near and far... rattling snow.

Nov 2, 2012

In other news...

My truck had this to say on the way home last night:

I completely agree.
I can't even think of a title for this one.

I've seen in several places snarky comments about the after-effects of Sandy; it being a "measly Category 1", New York not knowing how to handle it, suck it up and move on, etc.

You know something? Fuck you.

No, seriously, FUCK YOU.

You're right, people weren't as prepared as they could or should have been. Neither was New Orleans.

You're right, the death toll thus far hasn't been extreme - but then again, one is too many, regardless of where the storm is.

Our buildings aren't built to hurricane codes. Roofs come off, basements and cellars (those are rooms under the house, where you southerners normally have skirting around the frame) flood, foundations crumble, and things come apart. Will people rebuild to hurricane code? Probably not. It's a lot of extra cost for a hundred-year storm.

NYC is shut down while mass transit comes back online. Ten MILLION people live and work there. I just googled "New Orleans subway". It gave the address of several places I can get a healthy sandwich.

Next month, let's dump a foot of snow on Alabama and see what happens. It's only a measly foot of snow. I thought you Southerners were tough.

ETA: Andie has this to say in comments, and she's bang-on:
Regardless of the NATURE of the disaster, the lack of adequate PREPARATION on the parts of those hit, the DAMAGE has been done, and now it is (IMHO) about getting the areas hit back into some semblance of order for daily living. It isn't about being snarky, pointing fingers, or political haymaking.

Oct 31, 2012

Man-purse, two years later

I was digging through my archives looking for something and found the original review I'd written of my Maxpedition KISS bag. It struck me that it's been nearly two years and I should do some kind of an update.

When I wrote that first post, the bag was new. I hadn't really wrung out what I wanted in it. Now I mostly have. Sure, it changes based on what I'm doing, but the basics are always there.

Quick (current) junk on the bunk shot:
 Literally, I dumped everything out of it, quickly arranged, and snapped a picture. Camelbak bottle, spare glasses, Gorillapod, Galaxy Tab, spare batteries, Leatherman tool, whistle, pen, Sharpie, nail clippers, M&P40c, spare mags, spork, various meds, MagLite, knife, lighter, flint. Normally it contains the camera I used to take the picture, too.

All packed up. The large center pocket only has the tablet in it, leaving plenty of room for a book, lunch, snack, whatever.

You may also notice the heavy wear and tear on the bag... or perhaps more accurately, lack of. As in none. The only damage I can find on this bag after two years of daily carry and abuse is a few stitches that tore out of a piece of trim tape. Nothing else. The fabric is still intact, zippers still zip, and the velcro still velcs.

I've carried everything from a PM9 to a government 1911A1 in the holster with no issues. The 5" 1911 is the top end of fit for the bag, but it does go. The current selection - the M&P40c - has been the best combination of fit and weight for me. 31 rounds of Ranger riding along is a nice feeling.

Midway does a seasonal run of the colors above, or you can grab one over at Amazon for about $60, or direct from Maxpedition for $70.

If something happens to this one, I can pretty much guarantee I'll be reaching for the plastic that same day; I feel lost without this bag now.

What vote fraud?

A fellow over on AR15.com just got his daughter's voter registration card in the mail. It says she's eligible to vote in the general election on November 6, 2012.

His daughter is 17.

She won't turn 18 until next summer.

Nothing to see here; move along.

Movie quickie

Watched Tomorrow, When the War Began last night (it's on Netflix).

It's Red Dawn, set in Australia.

Kinda fun.

Oct 29, 2012

Off to work

Someone called in for the evening shift, and I decided to take the sweet, sweet, overtime. We're secure here and MrsZ knows how to run things without me.

Since no one seems to really know what's going to happen with the storm, I'm taking an overnight bag with a couple changes of clothes and a few meals worth of food. I swapped the hitch on the truck for a receiver shackle, and there's really not a lot left to do.

And yes, I'll be packing heavier than the .40 I normally carry.

Oct 28, 2012

Storm Prep - Part 2

Local friends are reporting that the grocery stores are already out of bottled water and gas stations are rationing.

I had been thinking about going in town to take care of a few things today, but you know what? I think not.

Oct 27, 2012

Finis, again

MrsZ has her Delicate Flower AR. I purchased a twin upper (Stag 3H) at the same time, with the intent of turning it into a truck/house gun. I think I've finally finished.

I picked up a YHM drop-in rail for a song (literally, a third of list) on ArfCom, and a GripPod-02 from another ArfCommer. The scope is a Nikon P-223 3x32, which was out of stock everywhere for quite some time. I stumbled across them at Primary Arms with a deal on the matching rings, and grabbed it immediately. (I'm VERY happy with that scope, by the by. Smacking head-size rocks on the 250yd berm at my range is a snap from the bench.)

The only thing it was missing was a light. I had a spare Surefire G2L floating around, and today I stopped at Dicks and got a Viking Tactics light mount. That's been mounted. End result:


Loaded with a full (pre-ban) magazine of 55gr VMax, it'll cure what ails ya. I'm pretty happy with it. I'd like to replace the A2 grip with an Ergo, and the pinned CAR stock with a MAGS EFX, but those are low-priority for the time being.

ETA: Just tossed it on the scale out of curiosity. With the magazine, it's 9lb4oz. Less the mag, 8lb5oz. The Delicate AR is 7lb10oz and the NM A2 is 9lb10oz (both unloaded). So - hanging all the extra crap on there really didn't add much weight.

Storm preps

I know a lot of my friends along the east coast are getting ready for Sandy. Most of them are already "ready" and are just laying in a little extra.

Me? I'm feeling pretty OK with our current situation. I'll go fill the two empty gas cans and the kerosene can I emptied last week, run the generator to blow out the dust, and call it good. Our stove is gas, the temperatures aren't supposed to be too bad (so the kerosene heater is plenty), and the generator will handily run the freezer for an hour or two out of every six or eight. We've got plenty of water put up, and racks full of canned and dried stuff on top of what's in the freezer.

If the power goes out, we'll light an oil lamp and continue with life as (nearly) normal - but the little friends might be a touch closer to hand than otherwise.

wall: complete

We did finish the wall yesterday. An hour or two of getting the base course level and even, then a couple more hours of stacking block and backfilling with gravel.

End result:

A pallet plus two layers (that'd be 154) blocks, most of a yard of sand, and about 2.5 yards of #1 gravel. The corner stones on the top course have a layer of glue under them, the rest are just being held by gravity and friction - and not showing any signs of moving. (They were very thoroughly beaten into place.)

We still need to front-fill the wall with topsoil and seed it. Come springtime we'll re-check and adjust for level on the wall, then add a row of cap stones and either fill with another couple inches of gravel or some cobbles.

We found after it was built that my level base wasn't quite. The wall lost about 2" in the 35-foot run; I'm calling that close enough for gummint work.

And a word to the wise: those home-improvement shows that say this kind of thing is a weekend project? They're lying to you. Digging the trench and getting the sand base level took me the better part of two days of work in our rocky sticky soil. Laying the first course and getting it level and even was another 5-6 hours, and the rest of the wall took another 4 hours.

And I love Advil.

(Just for reference, each block is 27lb, and gravel is about 3,000lb/yd.)

Oct 26, 2012

Weather work...

I had a guy coming to work on our coal stove Wednesday. Since I was taking the morning off to do that, I scheduled the water softener guy for the same morning.

Tuesday afternoon the stove guy called and needed to reschedule to Friday. *sigh* Fine. MrsZ can be home without trouble.

I spent yesterday afternoon working on a landscaping project/retaining wall that's been on the to-do all summer. I looked at the forecast and see that Sandy is working back towards the coast, and starting tomorrow (Saturday) there's nothing but rain in one form or another (and perhaps some snow or ice for variety) for a week-plus.

I called in.

The stove guy has been and gone, I've had two cups of coffee. I'm about to make an egg and english muffin, and then I'm going out to FINISH this damn wall.

Oct 25, 2012

WTS

Wally couldn't walk away from the challenge, but ... well, it's not what I was hoping for.

FOR SALE: One barrel. It may or may not fit an AR-pattern rifle, and the caliber is anyone's guess. Finish is rough but functional. Fluting is ... legendary. Butt-stink included at no extra charge.

... all offers considered.

Oct 23, 2012

It's starting...

Had some email discussion with Wally the other night, and he sent me an in-progress picture of the Pale Horse barrel. It looks awesome. :)

Home again, Home again

We spent the weekend in Connecticut at the wedding of some very dear friends, and it was wonderful. The wedding was Sunday evening; we drove out Saturday and spent the afternoon exploring (and visiting a petting farm) before dinner at First & Last Tavern (Avon).

We stayed the night at a local B&B, the Linden House. (Their site is out of date; the guy who designed it fell off the planet and they're not sure how to fix that.) Beautiful house, and the owners - Julia and Myles - are first-generation Irish immigrants. Julia welcomed us (and she LOVES to talk) and has just a faint hint of a brogue left, most evident in the L's and R's. We met Myles at breakfast in the morning, and his accent is much more evident. Wonderfully sweet people and I'd not hesitate to recommend their house to anyone in the area.

Sunday was beautiful weather, and we decided to make the hike to Heublein Tower in Talcott Mountain State Park. The first quarter-mile of the hike was pretty steep, then it's gently rolling with spectacular views of the valley:

Also, no fences to protect you from yourself. Cool.

We finally reached the tower, and wandered through what little bit of it is open to the public. I'd love to see the rest of the inside, but that's not open... yet.

The view from the top is magnificent:

And from the non-trail side of the building, this is what the tower looks like:

Hiked back down, checked in to our hotel, relaxed and cleaned up, and then it was off to the wedding. Our invite indicated "black tie optional", and I did rent a tux for the event. I was far from the only one. Very elegant event; the bride was (quite literally) bouncing with excitement as she said her vows and the groom seemed to have an allergy attack. ;-) The reception and dinner following was magnificent, and I'm VERY happy we got to help friends celebrate. There are (somewhere) pictures of us all dressed up; I'll have to see if I can get them from the appropriate folks.

Drove home yesterday, and it's back into life with a vengeance...

Oct 16, 2012

AR basics

I'm far from an expert, but Bob has a post up asking for AR advice. I threw in my nickel as follows; if you have any insight please feel free to put it in comments here or there or both.


Barrel:
1/7 and 1/9 are the most commonly found, although you’ll find some 1/8 and even as high as 1/12 in some applications. Roughly speaking, faster twist means heavier bullets stabilize better. That said, the 1/8 on my A2 shoots 45gr nicely. Every barrel has an ideal, but my rule of thumb is 1/9 for 50-62gr, 1/8 for 55-72gr, and 1/7 for 62+. If you’re planning to use 55-62gr surplus ammo, a 1/9 is just fine.
16″ is a good utility barrel length; handy enough to move with and long enough to keep blast down some. Chrome lining will be a good thing for your described purpose; it can degrade accuracy some but not enough to matter at home distances. We’re talking changing a 1.5MOA barrel to a 3MOA barrel.
Gas:
The AR was designed as a DI rifle. Don’t bother fighting that. Gas length… on a 16″ barrel, a carbine gas system is standard. If you’re using a front-sight gas block, it’s a pretty short radius. Putting a rifle-length system on a carbine barrel ends up with what’s called a “dissipator”, which I think looks freaking stupid but does give you a rifle sight radius. If you’re going with optics, go carbine.
BCG:
Matter of preference. I’ve got standard parkerized BCGs in all three of my current ARs, but I’m putting a Nickel-Boron plated group in my 300BLK build. If you intend to use it for hard use, it might be worth getting a MPI bolt group.
Upper:
Yes, what upper you get defines the gas length. For optics, I’d put on a decent set of irons to start and save a few bucks for an AimpointPRO or Eotech 512; they both run $400ish new. The forward assist is part of the upper, not the lower, and most rifles in your budget will have one.
Lower:
Get a mil-spec lower. Pick a rollmark you like and get that one. Avoid cast lowers. Spikes, Palmetto State, York Arms, (the list goes on) are good lowers. I’ve got one from Anvil Arms (since out of business), two from Territorial Arms (out of business), one from York Arms and another York on the way. They’re all solid. A generic lower parts kit includes a single-stage trigger that may or may not be decent. It’ll take you an hour and a few basic tools to assemble a lower. Worth doing just to understand how the rifle works. An upgraded trigger like a Timney or Geissele is a nice-to-have investment but not necessary. (And on a defensive rifle, I’m not sure a 3# match trigger is necessarily a good thing.)
In your budget, here’s my recommendation:
- pick a lower; any lower. Get a lower parts kit. Assemble. ($125 lower, $60 LPK)
- get a stock you like; a collapsible M4-style stock with buffer etc is a good bet. ($60)
- get an assembled upper from someplace like Stag Arms. I have this one on two rifles and love it. Spend the $75 for the “plus pack” for the 1/7 and MPI bolt if you want, but it’s fine without. ($465/540)
- buy an optic you like; start with a budget red dot (TruGlo is a good bet) if you can’t swing an Eotech yet. ($50-400)
- buy a pile of PMags ($15/ea)
Total: $760+ without magazines.

Oct 12, 2012

Winning/Losing

There aren't really any public-use areas devoted to shooting around here. No informal canyon ranges, sand pits, old quarries, whatever. There are, however, huge tracts of public-use land where hunting is a-ok. I checked out one of them last month; about fifteen minutes from my house. It's nearly a thousand acres of marshy potholes and tall grass. Should be awesome for geese if I can figure out the proper gear to get in there in winter.

Walking out, though, I came across this:
Problems:
1: This sign is public property.
2: There is a road about 75 yards beyond this sign.
3: Doing this makes shooters and hunters look like the inbred yokels people try to make us out as.
4: Continuation of this kind of wanton destruction guarantees the closing of public-access hunting lands.

If you're doing this: fuck you.
If you see someone doing this, report them. Keep our land-use areas open.

Personal Space

Uncle throws this one out as part of a HouseOfMouse experience:
And, often, they’ll get a bit too close and in the personal space of someone used to carrying a gun, who’s not a fan.
(Please note, no Brits or others were harmed in the writing of that blog post.)

I'm big on personal space. My own, and observing others' space. I hate having people close to me. Last week some lady in the checkout at the grocery store was literally bumping my arm with her elbow as she stood behind me. I wish I'd had a nice juicy fart on deck for her, but no such luck - so I had to make do with an exaggerated dig in my pocket for my keys, which just happened to dig my elbow into her shoulder on the way out. Oops.

Cartridge Comparison

Found this image while lurking the darker corners:

York Arms is building my upper in .300Blackout (#12) right now; I've heard of most of the others in one form or another... but I hadn't heard about the 7.62x40WT (#13). From Wilson's page:

The cartridge is designed for 110-150gr .308” diameter bullets loaded to supersonic velocities, but if chambered in a 1-8 twist barrel is also suitable for heavy bullet subsonic use also.
It's got just a hair more ass to it than the 300BLK; factory loads are showing 125gr at 2350fps (up from 2200 or so)... Aside from that last 100-200fps, I don't see much in the way of advantage over the 300. Doubly so since (to my knowledge), the WT isn't a SAAMI-spec round - so it's all subject to licensing from Wilson, and therefore more expensive.

Still - I'm glad to see people trying new things.

Oct 11, 2012

Slick compilation

GunSpec has compiled a one-stop-shop for comparing scope reticles. 21 makers are represented, from Aimpoint right through Zeiss. Good info to have.

Deal Alert

Lehman's (purveyors of lots of no-electricity-required stuff you never knew you needed) is having a one-day sale. Of particular note are some pretty good prices on Dietz oil lanterns:

Lil' Wizard for $12
Black Blizzard for $12
Original Hurricane for $11

They'll burn kerosene or liquid paraffin (I prefer the paraffin for indoor use; it's not quite as bright but doesn't have any odor) and are plenty of light to move around, cook, or eat. We've got a couple Juniors hanging in the kitchen that have seen more than a little use when the power is out or we just want a candlelit meal.

Coffee, Stingray-style

Look, you hopped up pretentious fuckskids of inferiority masquerading as trendy, there is one goddamn thing that has been utterly fucking pivotal to the advancement and continuance of human progress in the history of the fucking world, eclipsed in importance only by beer, and I am utterly fed the righteous fuck up with every half-wit with an art history degree and a pot of boiling water fucking it up.
Coffee is not this fucking hard, people.

Preach it, brother! MrsZ and I have been constantly struggling to find a roast that we can agree on. I like medium, she likes darker. I make the coffee most mornings though, so I get to choose. The blend lately has been Peet's "Cafe Solano". It's not bad. Not great, but not bad - and decent enough that we agree on it. Sometimes we'll grab a can of "Cuppa Joe" from the local beanery, which is also pretty good stuff. (We are at least agreed that Sumatras will never sully our cupboards; foul beans they are!)

We've been using a Melitta pour-over cone for about a year now, with generally good results. 1 tablespoon of beans per cup of coffee, ground just before brewing, and a quick grind of sea salt into the basket.

Oct 5, 2012

Birthday Wishes

Everyone's favorite smoulderer, RobbAllen, is turning 40 in a bit more than a week.

He's got a birthday wish.

I think I can handle that. Maybe you can too?

Oct 2, 2012

Modified Navy Qual

Saw this one over at The Drawn Cutlass, and I really like the concept. Kind of a rifle equivalent to El Presidente.

Place a target with an 8-inch center zone at 50 yards. (A paper plate stapled to the chest area of a silhouette target works great.) Load three magazines with five rounds each. At the firing line, assume a low-ready position with the rifle loaded. When the buzzer sounds, fire five rounds from the standing position. Reload, and fire five rounds from the kneeling position. Reload again, and fire your last five rounds from the prone position. The clock stops when you fire your final shot from prone.
There's more to it as far as scoring and such, but that's the essentials. With a .22 and an 8" steel plate this could be a HELL of a lot of fun, and cheap to do. Maybe it's time to invest in some new mags for the M&P15-22...

Sep 30, 2012

How's it look around you?

I noticed over the past few weeks that there are almost NO political signs in yards this year. A definite dearth of bumper stickers, as well. I live outside the bluest of blue small cities, and four years ago there were O signs everywhere. Many of the cars (particularly Subarus and Prii) were adorned with at least one and usually three or more O stickers.

This year? I can't remember seeing ANY signs for O in yards, and one guy on my fifteen-mile drive into town has a big "DEFEND AMERICA: DEFEAT OBAMA" sign in the yard. That's it. ONE sign.

Apparently I am not the only one to notice this (ar15.com).

From the original post in that thread:

Now, the only thing I can figure, is that people feel the division in the air. And it's not just healthy disagreement, it's downright UGLY. [...] I am thinking that people are PETRIFIED (on both sides of the camp) of reprecussions based on their political support.
I agree to a certain extent. I've never been one to advertise my political leanings (besides, "Chewbacca for 26th District!" sounds goofy), but people aren't really talking about it now. I've seen and heard people tapdancing around the issue in various venues, but it's become the elephant in the room.

I'll admit it: I'm actually a little concerned about what the next four months hold.

Sep 27, 2012

Occupy offered settlement...

Remember those kids at UC Davis that got pepper-sprayed en masse last year?

Well, the University is offering a $30,000-per-person settlement on their lawsuit.

The pepper-spraying was an "objectively unreasonable" use of force by campus police, a 190-page report by a University of California task force said in April.
I'm actually torn about this.

Yes, they were obstructing a pathway and were (rightfully) subject to forcible removal.

They were also obstructing it peacefully. Anyone know or remember if officers tried simply dragging them away one by one before spraying? I don't.

I don't know where UC police place spray in their force continuum. Wikipedia lists this as a common example:
1) Physical presence
2) Verbal commands
3) Empty-hand submission techniques
4) Intermediate Weapons e.g. closed-fist punches, kicks, baton, pepper spray, Taser, beanbag rounds and etc.
5) Lethal force.
Additionally, the officer was using a non-issue spray, designed for application from 6+ feet ... not 3. He's no longer employed by UCPD.

I suspect most of these students will take the settlement.


Don't get me wrong - I like seeing hippies getting sprayed as a matter of principle - but not for sitting still. Not for protesting, not for speaking freely, not for passive resistance. Not anyone, not ever.

Dinner: "Stuff"

I don't even know what the heck to call this concoction. It's not sweet'n'sour. It's not roasted. It's just "Stuff".

- 2-4 bell peppers, diced to bite-size pieces
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- one can pineapple chunks, drained, juice reserved
- 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 boneless pork chops or chicken breasts
- 2 cups rice
- hot water

Preheat oven to 350.

Brown the meat over medium heat.

Saute the garlic, onion, and celery in olive oil until the onion just translucent. Add the soy sauce, pepper, and pineapple for a couple more minutes.

In a large casserole, combine the pineapple juice, rice, and 4 cups hot water. Add the vegetable mix and stir together. Put the browned meat on top, cover loosely with foil, and put in the oven for 40-50 minutes until the rice is tender.

Bulk ammo...

Oddball snarks about buying "over 1500 rounds of ammunition!" ... which leads me down the path of, "I need to work on replacing some of the .22 I've used this year."

I've burned several bricks over the last few months and haven't bought any. I'm still comfortably in five-digit quantities of .22, but it isn't getting any cheaper, either. On my last trip to Walmart I noticed that they are now selling plastic "ammo cans" of MiniMag... 1600 rounds for $98. Not a bad price at all, since a tray of 100 is $7.

Might need to invest in one. Or more.

Sep 25, 2012

... when death is in the cards

Jay really threw down the self-humiliation gauntlet with this one.

I threw in ten bucks in hopes that he'll shut the hell up.

Coming up on that time...

For clocks to change. Yes, it's still a month away, but when they changed Daylight Savings to March and November from April and October, I changed my smoke-alarm battery habits. I just aim for April and October now. To make it even easier, I went to Amazon and set up a subscription for 9v batteries. Every six months, which - if you start now - means late March and late September, they send me a box of 9v batteries. They arrive in the mail, I replace them around the house, life is good.

As a corollary to that, check the manufacture date on your smoke and CO alarms. If they're more than five years old, chuck 'em and get new ones like this. At a minimum, have one on every level of the house. Ideally, have one in every room and hall except the kitchen and bathroom.

While you're wandering around, give all your fire extinguishers a good shake - you should be able to hear or feel the powder inside moving around. If you can't, replace it.