31 August 2008

A good day to fly!

Skys are particularly empty these days. Between the triple digit temps and $5 a gallon gas, not many people are boring holes in the sky.

But with a rare summertime double digit day, I took an afternoon with the little plane. It's been a while since we've flown and fortunately my partner left an air tank in the hangar, as the front tire was particularly flat. So flat it made it difficult to drag out of the hangar.

So here's a couple local sights. The top one is Weaver's Needle. And below is the fountain at Fountain Hills. At one time this was the highest fountain in the world. They still crank it up the first 15 minutes of every hour.

29 August 2008

Rules #2, 3 & 4

SDL Police K9 officer shoots his partner

I do not believe for one second this was intentional. It was an accident. But it was an accident that should never have happened and "Oops" with a 72hour vacation isn't going to make it better.

If he could shoot his dog he could have done the same to a person. No excuse for a negligent discharge like this. In fact, it bears striking resemblance to another shooting.

Would you trust this guy for a partner? Would you want him to back you up in a tense situation where you are going to be downstream of his muzzle? I don't want someone careless as this in my same zipcode.

He should not leading any team and he should not be allowed to carry a gun.

28 August 2008

Technology - Ain't it Grand?

Ok, the SandCastle just took a direct hit by one of the strongest set of thunderstorm cells I've ever seen. Thunder was continuous and sounded more like a jet engine. Power is out all over town. Local news reports we received ~1.5 inches of rain in about 30 minutes. The streets are flooded, as is my yard. No word yet on any trees felled in the neighborhood. And Round 3 is on the way.

And across the street, the neighbor's sprinklers are on making sure the grass gets a good dose!

23 August 2008

Summer Gun Blogger Rifle Match

I shot the Summer GB Rifle Match today in the Centerfire/Iron sights class and did far better than I expected.

Last time I shot an actual match was at least 5 years ago and didn't do particularly well then.

Here's the Slow Fire Prone target:
10 x 1 = 0, 0 X's
9 x 3 = 27
8 x 4 = 32
7 x 2 = 14
6 x 0 = 0
5 x 0 = 0
Total = 83, 0 X's

Target 1 = 81
Target 2 = 78
Target 3 = 85, 1X
Target 4 = 83
Total = 327, 1X

That's ~82%... again better than I expected.

We still have about 4 weeks to go. I may get out and try it with the Garand.

21 August 2008

SR-1 targets for sale

Do you want to try Sebastian's Summer Rifle Match but are having a tough time finding the targets? Yea Midway offers targets but only in 100 target lots. And those targets are heavy so that adds to the shipping cost. Now Midway is showing the targets as backordered.

Here's a deal for you. I bought the 100 targets from Midway, but it'll take a long time to use them. Instead I'll make smaller sets available at cost: 8 targets, wrapped by a 9th as a mailing tube, mailed by the cheapest method I can find. I looked at cardboard mailing tubes but that added a couple dollars to the cost. The targets are on heavy paper and should make a fine mailing tube. If you are careful on unwrapping, you should have 9 usable targets.

That's two tries worth of targets for the high power match, plus a practice target mailed to you for $5.50.

Here's how I got there:
9 Targets at $0.35 each = $3.15
USPS shipping = $2.23 (cheapest available - 5 days delivery)
Tape/Mailing labels = $0.12
Total $5.50

This deal is not to make a profit. I want to make it easy for people to get targets to shoot the match.

I have 100 targets. I'm going to keep a few for my own use. That leaves 9 sets available. First come, first served. For questions and ordering details, email me at sandcastlescrolls AT msn dot com.


(disclaimer - Offer null and void if the USPS won't let me ship them this way. They said "yes" this morning but the answer could change).

17 August 2008

Now that's a "Liner"

I visited the range to work on conquering a flinch and shoot a class 3 entry to Ahab's ePostal contest. Three of the shots ended up on the line. Two of these obviously count. The third is pretty much about as "liner" as possible. I've looked at it under magnification and scanned the attached image at 600dpi. I do not see a white line between the black of the target and the black mark of the bullet so I scored the shot as a hit.

Again, subject to review/veto of the contest master.

Meanwhile Midway is shipping out SR-1 targets for Sebastian's Summer rifle match.
(Update- corrected link to the Summer Rifle match).

16 August 2008

RCBS - Great service!

Shortly after beginning reloading, it quickly became obvious I needed a way to undo mistakes. A bullet puller was a "need" not just a want.

So I included a RCBS puller with my next Midway order and for the next three months I was happily undo-ing my mistakes.

But one day I was pulling a .30 cal carbine bullet. The last smack dislodged the bullet but also sheared the plastic nut in half. The bullet, chuck assembly and case flew across the garage but were recovered undamaged. It's possible this is user error. I may not have snugged the nut down completely before starting a-whacking. Thus instead of spreading the impact evenly, it may have been concentrated in one spot allowing the break.

I tried to repair the nut using super glue and epoxy but neither held through more than 2-3 bullets.

This week while placing another order with Midway, I specifically phoned in the order instead of placing it online so I could inquire about replacement parts. Jessica searched her systems and advised replacement chuck assemblies are available, but the nut is not. (Hint to RCBS, if the part were available for a reasonable price, say under a dollar, I'd have just bought another or 5 and considered it a consumable item.) Jessica suggest calling RCBS direct. (Hey, why didn't I think of that two months ago?)

Calling RCBS, I didn't get out much more than "I have one of your pullers. The plastic nut broke and I'd like to get another one." She immediately came back asking for my mailing address. Wow! No game of "20 questions", no grief. Just "we'll send you a new one!".

This is a company that understands the big picture. The part itself probably only cost a penny or so to produce and another $1.34 to mail it to me. But that Buck thirty-five bought them a very positive customer perception and a leg up on future purchases. Lessee, I have immediate need of a case trimmer and a primer pocket stretcher. Those purchases are now more likely to be Green instead of Blue or Red.

That's what customer service should be!

14 August 2008

Community Service Announcement

So when was the last time you tested the T&P (Temperature and Pressure) valve on your water heater?

From the AZ Republic:
A water heater that apparently had its pressure valve shut exploded and hurtled 135 yards Thursday morning, causing “catastrophic damage” to the Phoenix home, authorities said.
A report on the radio quoted a neighbor saying the garage door landed on her roof some 200 feet away.

Mythbusters tested this with spectacular results.

The water here in the desert is extremely hard and tends to foul valves with deposits, so frequent tests are a real good idea(tm). I just tested mine but the previous test was on installation about 10 years ago. There is a link in the story to simple directions on how to test your valve.

10 August 2008

Sunday afternoon quality time

One quart Marine Varnish: $22 (on sale)
Boat trailer: $270 (Also on sale)
Trailer registration: $100 (one time fee)
Tempe Town Lake permit: $30
An afternoon with the 9YO away from video games: Priceless!

The winds were about perfect - 10 kts, which is enough to give the boat a good push, and the lake is small enough that the waves don't have much time to pile up.

The boat hasn't been in the water for several years so I took a couple tacks across the lake as a shakedown before picking up the 9YO. Good thing... The wind started picking up and I started hiking out, when the outhaul popped free of the cleat letting the sail fly free and dumping me backwards into the lake. Dagnamit! I know these lines should have stopper knots at the end. Well glad that happened before the 9YO climbed aboard.

09 August 2008

August ePostal entry

Headed out to the range today with the goal of shooting this months contest, hosted by Caleb at nrahab.

While the course of fire calls for rimfire targets at 10 yards, minimum range distance is 11 yards which immediately puts me at a slight disadvantage and is only a small factor compared to my (lack of) ability. But hey, it's only bragging rights on the line. Besides I like going to the range with a "mission", a reason to shoot.

The course of fire is for 5 shots on target 1 followed by 5 on target 2. Reload and repeat. So there should be 10 shots per target, 20 shots total. (See Ahab for official rules)

Shooting in our local fun steel match, I've learned "Fast doesn't matter if you miss", so it pays to make sure the sights are lined up before pulling the trigger on the next shot. This still results in 10 shots in under 10 seconds (the fast guys will average at least 2, to nearly 3 shots per second including reloads. I'm not that fast.

This was shot with a Ruger .22/45 and iron sights which puts me in class 1.

Pulling the targets off the frame, I scored 4 hits on the first target and 8 on the second. By far the best set of five tries for the day. But sitting here at home, I noticed target 1 is missing a hole. 4 hits and 5 misses. That's only 9 when there should be 10. First reaction is to assume the 10 shot is not even on the paper. But then I noticed the hole at 9 O'Clock appears larger than the others. Woo Hoo! The 10th shot is a hit!

So I score the targets 5 on target 1 and 8 on target 2. Thirteen hits, 5 points per hit, 65 points total out of 100 possible. Not spectacular, nothing even to write home about but it was the best of the day. (Note this total is subject to verification/veto of the contest master. His ruling shall be final. If he disagrees I will not protest in the slightest degree).

If you haven't shot the contest, it's still early. Ahab is accepting entries through Aug 30th.

05 August 2008

xxxxx school pledge sidebar

Is it me, or does the school pledge sound an awful lot like Al Franken's "Stuart Smalley" character from SNL?

xxxxxx* Elementary School Pledge:
I Pledge to live this day as a responsible person who cares. I will accept others and celebrate our diversity. I will act in such a way that I will be proud of myself and others will be proud of me too. I have come to school to learn and I will learn. I will have a great day!

Stuart Smalley:
"I am fun to be with. Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and doggone it, people like me. "

You be the judge.

04 August 2008

WTOTBF update...

Bottom line... His class is now reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag each morning. Here's how it happened:

Queen of the SandCastle accompanied our son to school to discuss the issue with the teacher before class Monday, particularly the displacement of the "Flag Pledge". Our son's teacher was unavailable for consultation, but she talked with another 4th grade teacher, keeping the tone friendly and non-confrontational.

The teacher explained the morning schedule only allowed 20 minutes to do the administrative stuff (attendance, announcements, etc) before sending the students off to "specials", a rotating class period that changes each day. She didn't know why pledge wasn't recited over the PA.

Somewhere behind the scenes, we suspect "other" 4th grade teacher had a word with our son's teacher. So when our 4th grader reminded teacher about the pledge Monday morning there were no issues and she led the class in the recital. Same story today. Two for two.

But the story doesn't end here. Problem seems solved at the single class room level and our son learned a lesson in civics.

Next we need to have a talk with the School Principal and find out why it's not being recited school wide over the PA system. Stay tuned for updates, but this battle will take a little longer.

03 August 2008

Well this ought to be fun...

Our son started fourth grade one week ago. Friday dinner, while reviewing the week my wife asked "So do you say the Pledge of Allegiance each morning?" The 4th grader hemmed and hawwed saying "no we never have".

Well they used to... As the school is a local polling place, I've been on campus to vote when they recited the pledge over the school PA system.

Said spousal unit was reviewing said 4th graders school folder and came across the following:
xxxxxx* Elementary School Pledge
I Pledge to live this day as a responsible person who cares. I will accept others and celebrate our diversity. I will act in such a way that I will be proud of myself and others will be proud of me too. I have come to school to learn and I will learn. I will have a great day!
Whiskey - Tango - Foxtrot???

Needless to say we have a problem with their dropping the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag in favor of demanding our son Pledge Allegiance to the school, and diversity! Our son makes friends with anyone. There isn't a racist bone in his body and we certainly don't teach it here at the SandCastle. But I won't have diversity shoved down my son's throat in all it's PC-ness and certainly not allow him to pledge allegiance to the public school! Many members of both my wife and my families have served this country and a cousin is over in Iraq today.

Hmmm... Quick search of the Arizona Revised Statues turned up this gem (Emphasis mine):

15-506. Flag, Constitution and the Bill of Rights display; recitation of the pledge of allegiance; exemption

A. School districts and charter schools shall:

1. Purchase United States flags that are manufactured in the United States and that are at least two feet by three feet and hardware to appropriately display the United States flag and for grades seven through twelve, purchase a legible copy of the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights that is manufactured in the United States.

2. Display the flags in accordance with title 4 of the United States Code in each classroom and upon or near the outside of the school building during school hours and at such other times as the school authorities direct. For grades seven through twelve, the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights shall be placed adjacent to each classroom flag.

3. Set aside a specific time each day for those students who wish to recite the pledge of allegiance to the United States flag.

B. Private schools, parochial schools and home schools are exempt from the provisions of this section.

This ought to be fun... It appears the school may be violating the law!

* For now I'm withholding the school identity. Spousal unit will be talking with the teacher in the AM. Expecting a satisfactory resolution I will not slime them ahead of this discussion.

"Do whatever you want....

...You're the only one stupid enough to be flying today!"

Sometimes an ATC clearance comes back so fast that it communicates exactly that thought. Today was one of those days:

Me: ABC Tower, Nxxxxx seven North landing November.
ABC Tower: Nxxxxx cleared to land runway two two right.

The weather wasn't bad, just hot, 110F on the window thermometer.

Last time I heard such a clearance was about 15 years ago. A friend and I were heading to the SF Bay Area to visit our respective parental units. I was the pilot flying and he (a CFI) was running the radios. Unfortunately there was a cold front between point A and Point B and we were flying a 150 HP single on an IFR clearance at 12,000. Needless to say, there just isn't any reserve performance available at that altitude. Somewhere over the Mojave desert we hit a down draft (probably wave). I slowed to Vy, our best climb rate, but the VSI was still showed 1500 fpm down and the altimeter was showing 11,800. I asked my partner to get us a block altitude 10-12 thousand.

Again the block clearance came back so fast as to reflect the title of this post. I pushed the nose over to accelerate and escape the downdraft. We bottomed out at 10,300 then hit the updraft which pegged the VSI at +2000 fpm sendng us right back up to 12,000 feet.

01 August 2008

Arrrrgh!!! Timing sucks

Some softheaded class many years ago discussed conflicts. The best case is where you don't want to do one thing but you do want to do another. AKA, the rescue from a bad invite or excuse to avoid an unappealing event (Gee, I'd like to attend your cousin's recital but I have to accept my Nobel prize that night). They called this an "approach/avoidance conflict".

The next best case is the "approach/approach" conflict where you want to do both things. Either way you win, but you can't be in two places at once.

And the worst is where the avoidance/avoidance conflict where you'd rather do neither. This last case is the basis of many a "24" episode. It boils down to "you can either save the entire population of LA from the nuke or you can save your Son. Neither choice is a good one, and failure to choose means both lose. Which do you choose?

Tonight I find myself in the second category. Tam reminds us the SAF GRPC is coming soon, September 26-28. This year it's just across town so there should be no excuse for failure to attend.... But the timing sucks! Due to school schedules and other outside factors, We will be on family vacation that weekend.

This just kills me... how often does an event like this come to your home town? Once every 10-15 years? (For example last time NRA came to town was ~15 years ago). Weighing the options a) cancel vacation plans for this year .vs. b) travel expenses to next year's event. Option B is cheaper for me.

Logical, but not happy about it. Call it a business decision.

Arrrgh! Why couldn't GPRC be a week later?