30 April 2012

May 2012 ePostal - Inspired by "Mille Bornes"

Get out your driving gloves, it's time for a Road Trip!

This match is "Inspired by Mille Bornes", the classic family card game.  But in this game there are no speed limits, no road hazards and no remedies.  Just get a green light and start racking up the mileage.

Course of fire:
Download and print target here.   Size check - the 25 mile card is 3" diameter.

10 shots.

Pistols: 10 yds or range minimum which ever is greater.  Standing unsupported, one or two hands. No time limit.
Rifles may be shot any position including off the bench, but rests such as sandbags and bi-pods are disallowed.  The fore end of the rifle must be supported by the offhand elbow.   No time limit.
  • Rimfire, both iron sights and scope: 25 yards.
  • Centerfire iron sight: 50 yards
  • Centerfire scope: 100 yards
One hit on the green Go! target is required.  From there start hitting mileage cards.  Only the first two 200 mile cards count.  Max score: 1100 miles (1 Go!, 2x 200, 7x 100).  The red and yellow spots on the traffic light count as a miss.

Ties will be broken by number of high scoring cards (1x 200 > 2x 100).

Shoot as many times as you like with as many weapons as you can lay your grubby hands on.

Classes:  You got it? shoot it and we'll find a place to record the score. (I reserve the right to draw the line at tater-guns & scatter guns).
  1. .177 cal air pistol, iron sights (air or C02 powered)
  2. .177 cal air pistol, optic sights (air or C02 powered)
  3. .17/.22 cal rim fire pistol, iron sights
  4. .17/.22 cal rim fire pistol, magnified optical sights
  5. center fire pistol, iron sights
  6. center fire pistol, magnified optic sights
  7. .17/.22 cal rim fire rifle iron sights (25 yds)
  8. .17/.22 cal rim fire rifle magnified optic sights (25 yds)
  9. center fire rifle iron sights (50 yds)
  10. center fire rifle magnified optic sights (100 yds)
  11. other (anything that doesn't fit the above categories)
Non-magnified optic sights (e.g. reddot) count as iron sights.  1:1 "RedDot" sights might be slightly faster to align than normal iron sights as there is only one sight to get on target, not two.  But speed is not a factor in this game so it's a wash.  Take your time and make good hits with either system.
Score submissions: scan/photograph your target, fill in the gun info (make & model & caliber), distance, class, on-line identity (name/pseudonym as you want it on the score sheets, blog reference for linky love ) however you want to be remembered on the score sheets... email to SandCastleScrolls-at-msn-dot-com.

28 April 2012

Another step to MainStream

Headline: "Companies mix business with high caliber pleasure".

Local news runs a story about a local gun club that offers machine gun adventures.

The exciting thing to me is not the machine gun adventure,  It's the fact that this story ran on the evening news! 

26 April 2012

What he said....

"Get out and Shoot!"

Then come back here next week for the May match.

Get out your driving gloves!

23 April 2012

Blogroll update

Rich from meeting so many good people in St. Louis, it is time to add a "blogger's I've met category."  (look to the left column) with a hat tip to Mr Marooned for the idea.

I was ecstatic to meet the one and only Oleg. *squeeee*  He gave me a card.  Awesome work.  Several relations make a nice living via the lens.  My eye is as far from their eye, as their eye is from Oleg's.   I am in awe.  Glad to have rubbed elbows...

A few need special attention.  A couple bloggers I met in the form of a handshake, but wish we'd had more time to get to know them.  I bumped into No Lawyers, only Guns and money twice and met Kathy @ the Cornered Cat at dinner.  I wish we'd had 10 minutes to get to know them better.  I hope we meet up again next year in Houston if not before.

Also take note of The Smallest Conservative by the SCSon (Kevin, I gotta think you inspired the name).  I'm hoping this will be incentive to keep writing and over time improve his skills.

He unfortunately is following in my shoes.  All through school my English teachers and I got along about as well as oil and water.  To me English had too many contradictory rules.  For example, "'I' before 'E', except after 'C', unless it sounds like 'A' as in Neighbor and Weigh".  And that was one of the simpler rules.  I could go on but I think you get the picture.

If you check his blog today you'll likely see lots of grammatical errors.  Keep in mind he is 12.  I hope we can all see steady improvement over the next 6-8 years.  I keep telling him "People form an opinion of you by the way you write.  Spelling, punctuation and grammar are all important!"  But the only way to get better is to write more!

The DayJob(tm) had me running a couple "techwriters" a while back.  They seemed to have a bad attitude toward the job.  I countered, Your product, the DataSheet is the first impression from our customer.   It *HAS* to be right!  I can  only hope the SCSon will understand this lesson.

I also have a nagging suspicion I've left at least one out.  Please remind me.  Good people and we are glad to be a part of it.

18 April 2012

More Safes

Pendleton Safes  has an interesting design.  The central spindle is motorized.  The spindle can be turned left or right via a rocker switch just inside the left door jamb. Worst case you would have to move two guns to get to the one on the inner ring.

Like most safe manufacturers, they see the device not just as a secure storage facility, but as a piece of furniture, intended to be seen and ooh'd and aah'd over.  Pendleton's paint is like something you might see on a six figure supercar.  Prices start at about $5.5k to nearly $7k as shown.
Bartel Armory has an innovative cylindrical design.

The door stows inside the safe when opened, and slides into place when closed.  (note the two holes just below the tumbler.  Rotate that 180 degrees to set or retract the door.)

Once closed, the whole safe can be rotated on it's axis so casual viewers won't even see the tumbler.  They report one customer wants them to paint it to look like a water heater.   Hide in plain sight!

Who said American innovation is dead?

#include "std.disclaimer"  Neither company has provided nor promised any compensation for the mention here.  I don't think we even picked up any swag.

17 April 2012

Martini Bar Blogmeet

We met a few bloggers at the Martini Bar Thursday evening.  Many were present but I only said hello to a few before we had to leave (JayG, NUGun, Awelownt & "no lawyers, only guns & money" come to mind*.  I know others were there but I didn't have time to make the rounds.

We couldn't stay as we had just dropped off our bags at the hotel and needed to find a store for a few things before closing time.**

It's a nice place but horrendously expensive to park downtown.  The waitress reports she pays $18 to park every night.  Wow, I don't know what she makes but that's gotta make a significant dent in the net.

BTW, here's the reverse angle shot, The Martini Bar from the top of the arch.

* If I've omitted anyone from the Thurs PM meetup, no offense intended.  Please let me know and the error will be corrected.  Please accept the "mybad" in advance.

** IOW the SCQueen was hanging back giving me dagger eyes.  Time to go!

16 April 2012

Impromptu NRA meetup at the top of the arch:

As if it needs pointing out, NRA folk are among the most friendly anywhere!

We had some time today before our flight out to take in some of the local sights.  Specifically we visited the top of the Arch.  You see the woman that bore me had a philosophy on traveling:  When you get to a new town, get to the highest point and look out over the land.  [note the 630 ft marker in the background].

So we visited the arch and at the top, we met up with a couple other NRA members as well.  We started talking to the New Jersey contingent [middle red shirt and black/grey jacket] comparing notes from the meeting.  They'd been to the 2009 Phoenix meeting and 2010 Charlotte but skipped Philadelphia last year.  This year they upgraded to Benefactor members.  Houston will be a bit too far next year but are already planning on Indy in 2014.  They are falling into a nice "every other year" pattern.

The Idaho gentleman [purple shirt] and son on the right heard the conversation and joined in.  [rats I cut off his son from the picture.  Sorry, my bad].  He bought his life membership during his sophomore year with the proceeds of collecting hay in the fields.  His mom thought he was nuts spending his hard earned money ($200 back then) on such a frivolous purchase.  I suspect few financial advisors could come up with a better investment today!

We six spent a good 20 minutes at the top of the arch talking guns & stuff.  Idaho son hunts and shoots anything he can get his hands on.  He was also sporting a broken leg.  I asked if he had a good story to tell.  He didn't - I suggested he work on that.  It really doesn't matter if it's true, the tale just needs to be long and entertaining ;-).  Dad reports he has about another 3 1/2 weeks in the cast.  I think he was embarrassed by the attention.  That was not my intent.  Rather I hope we made him feel included and at home in the NRA family.

The camaraderie continued back in the base of the arch.  We met a man riding a scooter in the gift shop who had been at the meetings.  He asked if we had seen any of the meetings and speeches.  I mentioned live blogging Friday's celebration of American Values and the SCSon's photog experience.  Turns out he was up front in his scooter and remembered seeing a young boy walk up with the press pool escorted by the SS, with equal parts surprise and awe.  The 2+2 moment was an all around win!

Good people all around.  And I'll bet we were not the only ones with an impromptu meetings [anywhere]  This one happened to be at the top of the arch. We met others at breakfast in the hotel.  Impromptu's work because they are not planned.  Anything planned takes up too much room.

See Y'All next year in Houston!  [more STL NRA content to come]

14 April 2012

Women & Guns

Lisa Looper, inventor of the Flash Bang holster
Flash Bang - A unique carry for Women:
Packing In Pink:  Gun wear for women

Now that's a safe

Superior Safe -10 feet tall x 6 feet wide.  (est 3.5-4 feet deep)  Need a step stool to adjust the tumblers!

13 April 2012

NRA Celebration of American Values

The SandCastle Crew is on the floor and live blogging...

Refresh early & often!

Chris Cox, NRA ILA executive director.    Calls out the MSM "Look around at who is protecting your 1st amendment rights, even through you disparage our 2nd!"

Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry...  Darryl Issa & Chuck Grassley ...  John Bolton will be speaking today

1333 - Wayne LaPierre  on stage  Showing the MSM who the NRA is.  Good people, law abiding, contributors to society.

1343 - Mitt Romney - recognized the contributions of "Working Mom's" and introduces Ann Romney.  Back to Mitt -  NRA a "single issue group", that issue is Freedom.  I wonder if he'll explain how he will protect and defend the 2A?  (Proud Papa moment - The SCSon is working with the press pool and within 30 feet of Mitt taking pictures... Stand by for update)  Photo by The SCSon (AKA Mr. ccbcc), Copyright 2012)

Too many taxes, too many bureaucrats, too much government.    "Economy faltering because the government is too big."  [big cheers].

"I will protect the 2nd amendment rights of the American people" [standing O]

Rousing finish with a final standing O.

1412 Mike Pfieffer, President of Ruger Firearms & Cassie Evans here to present a $1,245,700 check to the NRA- the results of their "Million Gun Challenge"

1415 Newt Gingich -  Interesting.  Mitt got a couple standing O's during his speech, Newt gets one taking the stage!

"Let me speak some positive words about the Obama Administration.  "Good Bye" is pretty positive."

"Day one, sign executive order directing the DOJ to fullly investigate the gun running scandal.

... Sign EO eliminating all WH Czars."

"... open up offshore land and  "So that no American President every again bows to a Saudi King"

Notes the 2A is a pre-existing right, not a right "granted" by the Constitution.  [Standing O]

Would offer up an 2nd Amendment to the US  to guarantee people world wide to defend themselves.

"Second Amendment is a right for all mankind."

Reminds everyone he is still in the race.

Standing O to close...

1434  Rick Santorum - Another Standing on taking the stage.
Importance of family, Bottom up, not a top down society.

[side note..  SCSon was up with the press pool waiting to take pictures up close.  Next reporter asks who he is wirh and explains "blogger",  SCSon asks "who are you with".  "The AP".  "Oh... who are they?"  He was not amused.  I had to explain there is some contention between the old media and new media.]

1453  Gov Matt Blunt - Introducing Dad...

1457 Missouri Senator Roy Blunt -  "Our Constitution is out Constitution, and it means what it says.  And we have to defend it."  Taking about the activist SCOTUS Justices.

1511 John Bolton, former Ambassador to the UN - [Standing O] - "Need a Ronald Reagan approach to Foreign Policy."

"Ronald Reagan was proud to be an American.  Today we have the first  Post American President."

The UN Arms Trade Treaty must be stopped.  They are hoping BO gets re-elected or the incoming administration is not sufficiently organized to stop it.

"OBL killed while BO was President, not because BO was President. "

"President Obama, you are NO Ronald Reagan"

[The SCSon is now about the only one of the few still photographers remaining.  Where there was initiall about 30, now there is only half a dozen.]

1524 Larry Potterfield, Midway USA President   "Thanks for your business".

Larry & family present s check $6,929,025 :from our customers to protect the 2A".   Presumably this is the result of the 12-12-12 program

1529 - Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal -
Family values -

"The older you get, the smarter your parents become"
"Because I'm your Father, that's why"
"As long as you live under my roof, you will follow my rules."
"You were born in the greatest country in the  world.  Be proud to be an American."

Lousiana will enact their own 2A to protect
the fundamental freedom to own, keep and bear arms.  Already pass the Senate.

"Ran on Hope and Changer, all he's given us is Borrow and Spend.:

Harlon B Carter awarded to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.  (call from the crowd "We are with you Scott").  He's facing a recall on Jun 5th because he's taken on the unions and focused on priorities that would restore America's greatness.

All photos by the SCSon, AKA Mr. ccbcc, C2012.

12 April 2012

Wheels down in St, Louis

We made it to St Louis too late to get checked in tonight, but in time for the blogmeet.

Traffic sucks, and parking is worse.

More later.

Goin' Solar part 2

As an engineer by trade, I had lots of questions regarding the install.  Regretfully (but not surprisingly) these were questions the sales 'droid could not answer.  Specifically, I wanted to understand the calculation from panel efficiency and sub-optimal orientation to how many KW's would come out the other end.  They mount the panels flat to the roof rather than at the "latitude optimal" angle.  That simplifies the wind load calculations, and eases the HOA signoff.

Unfortunately the 'droid did not know and could not provide an answer.  I work in a similar environment.  But I'm the guy behind the scenes specifying/programming the calculation, not the 'droid.  And when our sales 'droids call me to understand how these things work, I get involved and answer all questions with complete transparency.  I am disappointed SolarCity could not do the same for me.

However by asking the right questions (rerun the numbers using these assumptions), and conferring with the local utility, we were able to reach the best answer.    The call to the utility also corrected some mal(latin for bad) data from the 'droid. 

Turns out our roofline runs ~200 degrees true.  That's 20 degrees tilted to the south east.  That means  the eastern facing roof is a little more optimal for sun orientation.  Unfortunately that also means our best generation hours are in the morning hours.  Since we are on a "time of use" plan, that would mean we are generating at a time of low cost and consuming during the higher cost hours.  Conferring with the utility confirmed this and recommended going back to the non-TOU plan.  Then the generation rates and consumption rates would match.

I still wonder if the TOU rates + suboptimal geometry wouldn't be a better solution still.  I'll bring this up at the engineering stage.  Even sticking with the current plan, it looks a good investment.  Even better so because the utility provider announced a new rate increase today.  That will improve our ROI.

I should also note, the utility's solar group concurre  with our calculations that shifting back to non-TOU would save us money.  I need to ask one more question - will the TOU + suboptimal geometry save us more?

BTW, one consideration to this is that both the SCSon and I are amateur radio operators and living in a HOA antenna restricted area.  Currently our antennae (VHF)  are hidden in the attic (J-pole for me, ground plane that he built for him).  But the solar panels on the roof will RF shade that.  OTOH, the solar panels could also provide cover for retractable mounts atop the roof.  I have ideas for antennas that would fold flat against the roof (now hidden by the solar panels) and easily erect as needed.

No longer COJ

The big BBTOJ delivered today.  I gently chided the driver that the "object" had been out for delivery since 0423AM.  The driver said he didn't get to work until after nine.   He confirmed by checking the tag on the package.

In the end it really didn't matter.  I had the choice of spending ~$80 to have it delivered "tomorrow" (that's > 2x days in a rental car), or ~$60 for 2nd day delivery (~ 2 days rental car) or I could just suck up the inconvenience of not having a car ($0).  

Anyway, the drive shaft arrived today and is now re-installed.  The car is now a lot smoother to drive.  There was a bit of a scare as one diff bolt turned up missing.  These are close tolerance bolts not available at the local hardware store.  I enlisted the SCS crew to help find the missing bolt, with the "failure is not an option" speech.  The SCSon finally located the errant bolt... it was stuck to the magnet on the backside of the "trouble light".  Dang,,,   That's exactly why I invoked young eyes in the search.

The initial test drive went smooth, but I declined to take it out on the freeway as I had neglected to firmly torque a drive wheel.

That was a quarter-kilo-buck well spent.  I don't mind spending money to solve problems, and this seems to be $$$ well spent.  The new drive shaft has grease-able and has replaceable U-joints.  But quite frankly, I do not ever expect to have to service either.  The car is already at ~220kmi,  If it (and I) last another 100K, will it still be my problem?

I think not. (but I hope so!)

In the short run, the car is off the jacks and I again have wheels beside the 10-speed.  Woot, life is good! I wish you as well!

06 April 2012

Goin' Solar

The SCQueen and I signed on with Solar City to install a photo voltaic system on the SandCastle roof.

A lot of the sales pitch is in the flavor of "green".  How many tons of CO2 you're saving etc.  This part of the pitch comes across like Charlie Brown's teacher "Waugh, wa wau, wa-waugh". IMHO the entire green movement is simply an excuse to convince and/or coerce people into changing the way they live, even if it only make sense in the Gaia religion.

We are doing it because it makes financial sense.

We live in the desert and have sunshine a plenty!.  Particularly in the summer months when we need more power to run the air conditioning.  The panels will also shade a portion of the roof reducing that heat load on the house.  The financial calculation does not include that contribution.  It makes financial sense because our total cost is about $11K.   We expect the system to pay for itself in a decade and save us another $10k over the next 10 years.  That's based on the assumption that electric rates stay the same and I just don't see that happening.  Thus the pay off will be quicker and ROI larger.

Also, they maintain and monitor the system and the contract includes a performance guarantee where they will pay us if the system does not hit production targets.

The benefit of the system is partially built into the utility rates.  Our rates have three tiers.  The first 700KWh are at at price X, the next 1300 cost X+ a little, and over 2000 are priced at X+ a little more.  So this system removes KWh off the expensive end of that equation.

I searched for complaints against Solar City.  The one argument against suggested that it's not a good deal because if you let them finance you, you will pay more than the benefit to you.  Could be.  But we are paying up front and I don't see that scenario playing out.  Also they note you never actually own the equipment.  Roger that, but I expect with the rate this technology is evolving, in 20 years what is installed will be old hat and they won't want to take it back.

Future installments will look at different aspects of the decision to pull the trigger.  Feel free to post question in the comments.

#include [std.disclaimer]  Solar City has not given nor promised any compensation of any type for this mention.  I intend to report the experience as it happens, for better or worse.

04 April 2012

Car down

I recently posted about  selling the truck and transferring all it's problems to someone else.  I've found a spare car the height of luxury because when the daily driver goes down, I still have a car to drive.

Well that scenario has reared it's ugly head all too soon.  The U-joints in the drive shaft are coming apart - in pieces.  The vibration while driving was enough to give me concern that something would break.

Tonight I spent an hour getting the car high enough off the ground and stable enough to work underneath.  The diff bolts came free with relative ease (Have I mentioned what awesome stuff Kroil is for freeing bolts?*)  It took a bit more work to get it free of the car as the exhaust system passes under the shaft.

Inspecting the shaft shows the front U-Joint is junk.  It's frozen in one axis and it has nearly 1/8th inch play in the other.

So now I an wheel-less until another 'shaft is installed.  Fortunately the Day-Job(tm) takes Good Friday off as the floating holiday so this will be a three day weekend.  If I can get another drive shaft, I can have it back together tomorrow.

In the meantime, it'll be a flashback 30 years or so... Riding the 10 speed.  Fortunately, the Day-Job(tm) is only a mile or so down the road.  I can ride or even walk that in a reasonable amount of time.  [And $DEITY knows, I *NEED* the exercise.]  So I won't even be asking the SO to give me a ride to work tomorrow. 

At least these days the SCQueen's car is still operational so I don't have to ride the bike to the nearest parts store.  Many moons ago there was a 10PM ride to AutoZone 2 miles distant to retrieve the drain plug on a radiator.  It was a swap deal - drop off the old one or pay the core charge.  I got the new one home and installed only to realize there wasn't a drain plug.  I had to ride back to the store at 10pm to reclaim my plug before it shipped out the next AM.

In the aircraft world there is a term "AOG" - Aircraft On Ground.  That's a "high priority" signal to those involved that this is an urgent circumstance.  As in this airplane can't move until this situation is resolved.  Need parts NOW!  The car is kind of in the opposite situation, in the air up on jacks until the part is replaced.   Perhaps we should call it COJ - Car on Jacks!  Same meaning though, it's not going anywhere until this problem is resolved. i've put out feelers for the part, but time is of the essence.   I'm really only interested in parts available locally - I don't have time to have it shipped.

* I have never had any contact with the maker of Kroil as far as I know.  They didn't pay for this mention in any way.  I bought my can and it will last me this life and probably the SCSon's as well.  It's phenomenal stuff for freeing stuck bolts & stuff.  In this case the bolts were almost certainly assembled at the factory some time in 1991.  Today, > 20 years later,  they all came apart with the squeeze of one hand after a spray of Kroil.   This is not scientific evidence as I didn't even try to separate the bolts prior to application of Kroil.  See also the broken stud removal.  #include still applies.