Feb 29, 2012

New Sneaks for me, too

Just last month, Jay put some new rubber on his Earthfucker. I commented then that I knew I was getting close - my tires were still legal, but just barely.

Well, Sunday morning on my way to work, the low-pressure light came on - as it is wont to do when it gets cold, and it had been COLD that night. So I ignored it, as it has been a false alarm every single other time it's blinked on.

A few miles down the road I hit a bump and felt the back end skip sideways a hair. I slowed down and heard that distinctive "wubbawubbawubbawubba" that just screams, "Bend over and open your wallet, sucka!"

I drove slow to the next spot I could safely pull off and checked... sure enough, back right tire was pancaked. Called work to let them know I'd be late, changed the tire (and topped off the spare with one of those 12V inflators), and continued to work. Made some calls.

Goodyear was open 'til 4 and would get me in at 3. My options were a Dunlop "Rover HT", a high-fuel-efficiency something, and Wranglers. All were in stock. I told him I'd decide when I got there. I did some reading, decided I wanted to keep my off-road capability, and ended up choosing the Wrangler Silent Armors.

An hour in their waiting room and a cool large later, I drove off with new tires.

Interestingly, they are distinctly quieter. I popped open the decibel meter app on the tablet (which isn't terribly accurate, but it is a comparison point) on the way there and got a reading at highway speed of 93-95dB. Heading home on the new skins? 81-84dB.

Dancing the night away

As mentioned a few posts back, MrsZ and I went to a Waltz class Monday evening. AGirl just commented and asked how it was, reminding me I needed to update.

It was pretty good. The instructors (one male, one female) are both clearly good dancers. We started with very basic stuff. Six-count. Balance step. Walking. Simple spins.

I am not a good dancer. I repeatedly lost the beat in the music and got confuzzled. During one break between songs and steps, the instructor asked if there were any questions. Not one to be embarrassed easily, I asked. His answer was simple: WHO CARES?

Seriously. He said the vast majority of people lose the beat, and keeping perfect time is not necessarily what dancing is about. If you lose the beat, just keep going. Most people won't notice or care.

One problem we ran into is that I stride. Even when I'm dancing. I take long steps. We were continually angling around other couples, even when I tried to shorten my steps. Gotta work on that...

It was a good time. I'm looking forward to class 2.

Feb 27, 2012


Back in college a girlfriend and I signed up to take Intro to Ballroom Dancing. She dumped me between course registration and the start of the semester, so I (logically?) dropped the class.

I haven't taken a dance lesson since square dancing in high school PE. I have since perfected the White Boy Shuffle and the Wallflower Bop. Anything requiring actual movement of more than one joint or extremity ends up with me looking like Punch & Judy got their strings tangled.

MrsZ and I are starting a basic Waltz class tonight.


Feb 24, 2012

No bleg - gun pron!

The new pistol is a Walther P38, as the denizens of #GBC already know.

I started taking pictures tonight and was trying to field strip it to double check the inside of the slide for import marks.

I need to read manuals more carefully before doing these things. (I have since re-read the appropriate portions of the user manual, which say NOTHING about putting finicky bits back in beyond seeing an "artisan smith".)

I have removed the barrel catch lever and can't get it back in place. I tried tapping with a nylon-tipped 'smithing hammer and got nowhere.

The barrel and slide are still captive (and won't come off).

If there's a P38 expert who can give me some pointers by comment, email, or phone, I'd be eternally grateful. And would determine suitable recompense.

Pics once I figure out how to get this thing together and apart.

UPDATE: DISREGARD ABOVE. I FIXED IT. No wonder we kicked the German's butts, if they were making guns this complicated.

Update 2: Pictures, you leeches. As always, click/embiggen.


(First few shots from my new lightbox, using the pocket camera. I took a few with the SLR as well, but haven't dug out the cable yet. Tomorrow.)

1942 Walther-manufactured (ac42), numbers on slide, barrel, and frame match. Two magazines, un-numbered. Period-correct but un-numbered holster. I did find the import mark - Century Arms - but it doesn't appear to be a Russian capture. I'll be running it by the folks at the P38 Forum to see if they have any more info on it.

Honest, Safe

The "Honest Gun Owners" meme has been running around. As originally described by Nancy:
5 things that indicate, to me, that a gun owner or shooter maybe is an honest one; I say 'maybe' because I have known some seemingly honest gun owners to tell some really tall tales.
I'm not tagging anyone because I wasn't tagged and I figure you're all adults and can play along or not. That said, here's my five:
1) In the process of trying to sell me a gun, he talks more about the flaws than the positives.
2) He posts pictures or describes groups that are not consistently sub-MOA.
3) He isn't ashamed to have a couple cheap range toys (read: HiPoint carbine, etc).
4) He'll admit to carrying a piece without running 200+ rounds of carry ammo through it.
5) He'll tell me about the mistakes he's made so that hopefully I won't make them again.

And the The Miller adds in that we need a "safe" meme. Five things which indicate to me that a gun owner is safe. This is one I can definitely get behind.
1) He chamber-checks ANY gun he handles, EVERY time he picks it up, even if he JUST put it down.
2) He's not afraid to say, "Watch your muzzle!" to ANY person on the range.
3) He insists on eyes-and-ears, even if it's "just a .22".
4) He won't shoot gun-show reloads.
5) He chamber-checks ANY gun he handles, EVERY time he picks it up, even if he JUST put it down.

Yeah, I doubled on that one. Because it IS that serious. When I was at the NRA show and wandering around checking out the various and sundry display guns - that had all been checked, tagged, etc - I chamber-checked each and every one when I picked it up. One of the booth reps at Crimson Trace came over after seeing me do that and told me I was the first person he'd seen do that.


Feb 22, 2012

Don't be a...

... I've read through the posts about the new site that rhymes with "choke on a dick and chunder" and what I've seen simply reconfirms my desire to have nothing to do with them.

And then I read this post from Barron, linked from Linoge. Yes, ID farming is bad. Think security.

But the comments are where this really shines and the true nature of the mentioned site is revealed:

Let me repeat the last sentences of the next-to-last paragraph just so we're clear:
"Nobody is immune from being profiled, linked, reviewed, praised, or villified. You are next to be profiled on Smoke & Thunder."

I just love thinly-veiled vague threats. This has the makings of an epic shitstorm.

Now excuse me, I have a dog to kick.

Feb 13, 2012


I kept looking at the micro RC helicopters at the mall. A friend I mentioned that to told me they're asking north of a c-note for 'em. HA.

$19 at Amazon. Get two so you've got spare parts (or someone to dogfight with, not to mention free shipping).

Syma S107/S107G R/C Helicopter - Yellow

Fruit leather

I'm not sure why I haven't made these before. We have a dehydrator (A Nesco "American Harvest", I think it was $40 at Walmart several years ago) and dry lots of things - tomatoes, herbs, fruit, jerky, etc.

I picked up a couple bags of apples at the orchard store a few weeks ago. We ate a bunch while they were still fresh, then they started to get mushy and I ignored them for a week.

I had an evening free, so I decided to try my hand at fruit leather. Piece of cake, and I figured an easier way to do it next time.
- slice the apples. Eighths or quarters if the apples are small. Cut out any rotten spots; bruises are fine.
- put them all in a big stock pot with about 2 cups of water, 2/3 cup lemon juice, and sugar to taste (1/4-1/2c for 4-5 quarts of apples).
- cover, bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat and simmer until fruit is soft, about 15 minutes.
- cool.
- run the whole mess through a food mill to get out the skins, seeds, stems, etc
- lightly oil the solid tray in your dehydrator, spread the apple mix evenly about 1/4" thick
- dry at 135F until dry to the touch

If you want really smooth fruit leather, puree the mixture in a blender. Feel free to add or use other fruits as well. Pears, berries, grapes, peaches, apricots, whatever.

I had about 4 or 5 quarts of apples to start; they processed down to about 4 trays of leather. Definitely a good use for bruised/mealy/soft apples.

Feb 9, 2012

LaserLyte: Final

The mystery package from LaserLyte arrived today.

It held:
- my rear sight laser, in a bag with a sticker printed "Personally tested and inspected by: Elizabeth".
- installation tools for said sight
- installation instructions
- a twelve-pack of spare batteries
- a letter, which reads:
Dear ZerCool,
Thank you for your continued business. We received your return. You indicated that your Rear Sight Laser (RL-MP) was not working properly. We replaced the PC Board and laser module. After thorough testing we are returning you RL-MP in working order. I have attached our sight in and reset procedure for the Rear Sight Laser. I have also enclosed the programming instructions*.

I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of any further assistance.

Since there is no way in hell the RSL is going back on the gun, I now have an RSL with lots of extra batteries available. If anyone wants to try it out, I'd be happy to arrange a deal. Cheap. Very cheap. I won't recommend it for carry/duty use, but it might be a good range tool.

I make no guarantees, though.

I really can't decide what to make of LaserLyte and this mess. One failure? It can happen, and they handled it well. A second failure makes me question the product, as noted before.

So - anyone with a S&W M&P want to try the rear sight laser arrangement? (Uncle, AGirl, Robb, I know you all have M&Ps...)

* - programming instructions? I have to assume she meant "re-zeroing instructions".

Feb 8, 2012

SiteMeter says....

I'm up in the 36,000 visit range since I installed the meter. Eh, whatever. Like many of us, I do this for me.

I check SiteMeter once in a while to see how people are finding me. A LOT of readers are coming in to my bathroom remodel looking for floor tile patterns. Poor suckers. (BTW - it's been a year, and the bathroom still looks good!)

However, one person caught my eye lately. Their location is listed as Hamilton, Montana, (running Firefox on MacOS X) and it looks like s/he has been reading back through ALL my entries. I'm flattered, and curious... anonymous reader, what brought you here? What keeps you reading? If you don't want to comment, feel free to drop me an email at gmail.

Hell, for the rest of you too - what keeps you reading? Is there something (or multiple things) you'd like to read more of?

Five Guns

Somehow I've been lax about doing this one. My five "Money Is No Object" guns, in no particular order:

1 - A correct, numbers-matching, US GOVT PROPERTY marked Ithaca Gun Co 1911A1. This is my one and only grail gun. If anyone has one collecting dust in their safe, please let me know. I will arrange a trade or sell a kidney (only slight defective) to acquire it. I'd actually prefer shooter-grade, not safe-queen. I don't have ANY logical reason for this except one: I have spent the vast majority of my life driving within sight of the smokestack that says "ITHACA GUNS" on a near-daily basis. (That stack is likely coming down soon in the name of progress, also known as high-rent housing development.)

2 - A Boys .55 Antitank Rifle and/or a Lahti 20mm Antitank Rifle. Well, duh. Who *wouldn't* want a large-caliber anti-armor rifle? They're a war apart, and both have unbelievable cool factor. They're also "destructive devices", as the bore is greater than 0.50" and uses a fixed cartridge with no "sporting purpose" (the workaround for things like the .600 and .700 Nitro).

3 - A caliber-appropriate Gatling gun. Hand-cranked. Something like .45-70. Oh, sure, there were some made in .30 of various flavors, but .45-70 is ... well, it's .45. Another one chambered in a less-expensive caliber would be a hell of a lot of fun too. .22LR? .38Spl? I have vaguely toyed with the idea of trying to piece together a .22LR Gatling, but NY's *expletive* magazine laws mean it would go "pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop" ... pause for reloading ... (Side wonder: "fixed tubular rimfire magazines" are specifically exempted. Explore this.)

4 - A "best" fitted English double shotgun with a complete barrel set. Better yet, a matched pair of "best" guns; one heavy frame with 10-, 12-, and 16-bore barrels, and a light frame with 20-, 28-, and .410-bore. Holland&Holland, Purdey, something along those lines. You know, guns that cost more than our house.

5 - An Ithaca "Auto and Burglar" scattergun. These are NFA AOWs, *not* short-barrel shotguns. They were never made with full stocks, only pistol grips. Again, cool factor. Manufacturing stopped in 1934 with the NFA and the $200 transfer tax.

Nothing terribly outlandish here. And not one full-auto. I've played with auto guns. They're wicked fun. And wicked expensive to feed. And really, not terribly practical. Not my thing.

Feb 6, 2012


At risk of jinxing the deal, I have a probable trade arranged for the Dragoon that's been occupying my safe. Some of you from GBC will know what it is, and the rest get to have a whack at it with the following clues:
- It's C&R eligible.
- It fires a European cartridge.
- It has been produced by multiple manufacturers over the years.

Keeping my fingers crossed, this is an interesting piece...

Feb 5, 2012

Deal Alert

Photoshop Elements 10 for $60.

It's a dual-boot (as it were) disc, so Mac and Windows users are both fine.

If you're looking for photo-editing software that's a step up from paint, arguably better-documented than GIMP, and cheaper than Photoshop CS5 ($600, last I looked) ... well, that's a tough price to beat. I ordered my copy yesterday. Ends 2/8.

Feb 4, 2012

Leather Porn

I expect most of you will remember the Kilted to Kick Cancer fundraiser that Ambulance Driver started last fall. And one of the prize packages included a Dragon Leatherworks Talon. And Jay won that package. And then went above and beyond and auctioned off the contents.

Well, I happened to have the winning bid for the Talon. Dennis and I kicked a few emails back and forth about what I'd like, and he went above and beyond. (Are you noticing a theme yet?) I was curious about a color combination that he doesn't list on his site, and he was willing to give it a shot. (This, around a four-state move, and getting his shop set back up just in time for the Christmas rush!)

Last week, Dennis sent me a note saying the holster had shipped. Sure enough, it was waiting at the post office early this week, and looks even better than I had hoped.


On the left is the new holster. Molded for a 5" 1911, with a natural-to-burgundy burst and burgundy trim around a sanded stingray inlay. The "old" one on the right (also for a 5" 1911) is burgundy-to-black with black trim on a python inlay.

And vice-versa, doing what they're supposed to:

(Kimber Eclipse Custom II, 10mm; Springfield GI, .45ACP)


And a close-up of the VZ grips on the Kimber. Seriously grippy!


Safe Storage

Some states (CA, MA, I'm looking at you) have "safe storage" laws. NY doesn't, and I'm glad of it. There's no reason a stuffed suit in Albany should be able to tell me how to store my guns. I keep them in a safe to protect my investment, but I sometimes wish I felt comfortable with display cases and wall hangers.

In that vein, I got a new product announcement from Remington last night. They're introducing The Remington RAC Mountable Secured Storage System. It's designed as a surface-mounted gun lock, and locks through the trigger guard and around the wrist or grip of the weapon. Neat idea, and I can see how it could be useful.

But I see one HUGE problem: this provides no way to prevent the action of the weapon from operating. The slide on a pistol can cycle, the bolt has clearance on a rifle, and a shotgun is a gimme. The trigger is not only freely accessible, it's pressed against the lock's post. This is a recipe for a negligent discharge - as someone drops a magazine but forgets to clear the chamber, or does neither as they "just run in to the ____ real quick" and promptly puts a hole in the car door...

In my opinion, the reason to put a lock on a gun is to prevent someone from loading and firing it. Period. If you're going to use one, my preferred type of lock is the cable that runs through the magazine well and ejection port. A distant second is an "around the trigger" type, which can usually be fiddled with enough to pull the trigger at least once without ever removing the lock.

So, Remington, it's a neat product, but it's not there yet. Based on the photos and description, I wouldn't recommend one. (And I'm not going to ask for a T&E model either, because I'm just a nobody. And I sure won't spend $60 of my own money on something I wouldn't trust.)

(Mossberg tried sometime vaguely similar a few years ago with their Loc-Box system. This is MUCH more effective and appropriate, but has since been discontinued.)

Feb 3, 2012

What's in the box?

I got a shipping notification from LaserLyte yesterday.

There has been NO communication from them since I shipped in the (second) defective RSL.

I have no idea what's in the box that's coming, but I'll know in six days...

(See previous LaserLyte entries.)

Feb 2, 2012

Pale Red

I can't use the word that begins with "P" and ends with that stuff a pen is filled with, because it's trademarked by the folks at Komen... who has yanked their funding of Planned Parenthood (earmarked exclusively for cancer screenings) because of a new rule (with a new, pro-life VP) prohibiting funding of agencies under investigation. (PP is under investigation for maybe possibly using tax dollars to fund abortion services.)

MuleBreath has a pretty clear write-up on the situation. Read the whole thing (especially his links), then click on back here.

Please, feel free

Nancy over at Excels at Nothing dropped me a note asking if she could put the Kobayashi graphic from this post on her site.

Absolutely. Any of you, please feel free. If you want to throw a link to the cafepress store, it's appreciated, but not required. Boost the signal!