27 December 2010

Customer Service Update

I started to do an update to "A very short play in three scenes" but it quickly became a little too long for the update.

First, let me give props to Buds gun shop.  I sent emails to both Buds who sold me the gun and Hi-point who manufactured it.  It wasn't clear who assembled the package deal and hence who is responsible for the fix.  Derek at Buds emailed on Dec 26 (Sunday after Christmas) and explained they buy the package deal from Hi-Point but offered to assist in resolving the problem with Hi-Point.

Hi point never responded but they did answer their phone today.  The phone was answered by a realperson(tm) not a voice-jail system.  I explained the problem and she answered "I know there's an easy solution to that problem but I don't know what it is.  Standby while I connect you to someone that can explain it."

Next human voice on the phone says simply "Turn it over".  And patiently waited over my objections how it can't be done.  Eventually I unscrewed the mounting screws and the solution became obvious.  The rails are C channels but with different lengths on the legs.  One side fits 3/8" rails and the other side fits 5/8" Weaver rails.  Nice!

He said there is supposed to be some documentation in the box explaining this (RTFM!) but I still haven't find it.

I'm just glad it was an easy fix.

November ePostal results are up

Manfred has posted the November ePostal results.  I congratulate the winners and my only regret is the few entrants this month even with the 2 week extension.  I count only five discrete shooters.

No matter...   I love the concept of heading to the range with a specific mission.  I'm not just randomly poking holes in paper with some nebulous "good enough" yard stick to measure by.  This is a more measurable standard to judge by.

Losing  2x2 (same two pistols, he beat me both ways) to my good blog-friend TrueBlueSam, I would love to to shoot a match side by side.  I fully expect the result to come out the same, but I also expect to learn something in the process!  TBS, you have an open invitation on my range any time!  And if I put wheels down somewhere in your vicinity, I hope you'll have time to offer a lesson.

I will also say, shooting the Crosman .177 air pistol has taught me a lot about patience and smoothness.

26 December 2010

You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille

The SandCastle's DSL modem chose Christmas day to give up the ghost.  I didn't touch it, I swear!  All I did was attempt to enable the wireless networking.

Customer "service" in India said since I'm renting the modem they would send me a new one but it would be 2-3 business days.  At $5 a month, I've bought that modem about three times over so I didn't really want to rent their @$#* modem anyway so instead we just bought a new one locally today.  This one combines the DSL modem with the router so it's simplified the wiring here in the process.

This morning the SandCastle Queen brought home the new one this morning and we were back up and running in about 10 minutes.  Just need to call billing in the AM and get them to stop the modem charge.

23 December 2010

A very short play in three scenes

Scene I - The SandCastle dinner table
The SandCastle crew is enjoying a dinner prepared with love by the SandCastle Queen.  The SandCastle Son pipes up with "So dad, what's the newest gun you have?"  I sheepishly look up from my plate and muse "would that include the one that is currently in transit?"  SCQueen rolls her eyes and lets out "Oh geez... what'd you buy now?"  "Oh trust me" I answer.  "You're going to like this one!"

Scene II - Flashback to Local gun range a couple weeks ago.
It's a beautiful winter Saturday at the range, recall this is the Sonoran Desert so it's sunny and temps in the low 70's.  Setting up on bench 25 I recognize another AZ blogger** The Capitalist Pig two benches down with a new rifle.  Blogger tells me about it and why he picked it up.  You see a local range hosts a fun steel pistol match on Thursday nights.  One night a month they also run a "pistol caliber carbine / shotgun" match the night prior to the pistol match.  His new acquisition was a Hi-Point carbine in 9mm.  This was his missing piece to shoot the match.  I watched his progress and it looked like entirely too much fun.  It also doesn't take much time to figure the cost savings shooting 9mm over .223.

A few days later I found my self on the site of Buds gun shop.  Buds offers several different packages in 9mm, .40 and .45 and with several sighting options.  The straight 9mm with iron sights is $257 (cash/shipped) and $281 including a Red Dot sight.  I decided to think about it more and moved on.  A few days later I was back at Buds and the rifle was now sale with only a $1 delta between the basic package and the Red Dot package.  I reread it several times looking for the catch.  $1 to add the Red Dot sight?  I weakened and pulled out the credit card.  (It also helps that a good friend is an FFL and already on their shippers list.  This makes the legal transfer entirely too easy!)

Scene III - Today at the range with the SandCastle Crew and the new carbine.
It shoots pretty nice though the trigger is a bit stiff and it's shooting a little high and right at 25 yards.  It's constructed of stamped steel and plastic.  I'll admit is has a "cheap" feel to it, but what do you expect for a coupla*** C notes?

It would have been nicer if the "Red Dot" package had included instructions on how to mount the Red Dot scope with a 3/8" mount onto the 3/4" Weaver rails on the gun.  Still nicer if either company (Buds who sold the package to me or HiPoint that presumably wholesaled the package to Buds would answer the emails asking for help.)    Stay tuned for yet another tale of customer service how-to or how-not-to.  So far no response from either inquiry.

* Posting new acquisitions to the armory would create an searchable inventory of the SandCastle Armory (as if the trail of 4473's doesn't already do this).  Still I don't want to make it easy hence the "don't post new acquisitions" rule.

** normally I would send some linky-love  to said blogger but he/she/they have not web-licly announced possession of said rifle and I don't want to spill the beans so to say.  (The "don't post new acquisitions" rule referenced above applies to others as well)

*** A "coupla" is more than one but less than a "handful".

Update: The anonymous AZ blogger has web-licly outed themselves with said rifle via a YouTube video and granted linky love permission.   I ask you, does this look like fun or what!  I need to acquire a couple more magazines but I'm there next month!

21 December 2010

Lunar Eclipse

I hope your viewing weather is better than ours. We have a very powerful cold front approaching giving us high thin clouds. The camera has a slow scan mode  using a ~2 second exposure. The slow scan is great for detail, but in this case it just gives it time to blur the image and the clouds race past the moon. The total eclipse was completely obscured.

13 December 2010

Sarah Palin channels JayG!

Did you catch Sarah Palin's Alaska last night? 

There is a scene where they are taking bear safety training and reviewing the different bear repellents available.  First was a flash/bang type shot gun round, then bean bag and graduated through to buckshot and slugs.  

The scene ended with a charging bear scenario using a bear target on a movable cart.  Sarah got two shots off, both good hits before the  "bear" made it to Sarah.  Sarah then utters ".. and here is where I use the bayonet."   It was said quietly and missed it the first time through.

I think this is definitive proof SP reads StuckInMassachusetts

Start at 3:55 in the embedded clip. Money quote at 4:10:

07 December 2010

December 7th, 1941

It started here...

And ended here on the deck of the USS Missouri:

03 December 2010

I have best job in the world!

As a rule, I do not talk about the dayjob(tm) here beyond the occasional oblique "dayjob" reference.  We have people whose job description includes "corporate mouthpiece" and it's not me.  Instead I keep my trap shut on that subject.  Today I will open it just a crack but you'll have to forgive my lack of details as they could tip off competitors and I can't go there.

I've said "I have the best job" for years.  I know this because every year I sit down in a quiet place and ponder "if I could have any job in the world, what would it be?"  And every year, the answer is "I have it and I'm with the right company".  my day-to-day activities are closely in-line with what I'd otherwise call "play time".  It's an old saying* "find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life."  I think I'm there.  Also, Many companies mouth the words "Our employees make this company what it is" or some such.  The difference is this company actually means and puts it into practice.

Here are the few details I can share without giving too much away: I returned from lunch today to find access to my office blocked by a box nearly as long as my height - a 50" plasma TV (and assorted accessories).  Yea, my current project requires access to a BFTV!  This TV is so big it won't fit in my office.  I'm gonna have to annex an office and move out most of the furnishings to make the space.  On top of that our stock price was up a couple percent today beating the DJIA & NASDAQ handily. Double plus good!

BTW, most people in our section do this stuff at home anyway.  We do this stuff for fun, so the paycheck and office are just a reason to get us out of bed in the morning!

Don't envy me.  Do your own pondering and find your dream job, the job that pays you to do stuff you'd do anyway!  Then you'll never work a day in your life either.  I wish you the same success I've found.

* my internet search for the source of the quote turned up many.  Several cited Confucius.  Some cited others I've never heard of.  Just know it wasn't me.

25 November 2010


I want one... a light sub 3 pounds, all the peripherals my 5+ YO laptop doesn't have (Wi-Fi. bluetooth, camera) and enough battery life to not even sweat the usage.

I've been waiting for prices to hit my $250 trigger point and they are finally getting there.  Unfortunately it appears they are reaching that point by cheaping out on the battery.  The new low priced units only offer "3 cell batteries, with up to 4 hours battery life.

 Caveat Emptor, baby!  Read those specs carefully!

Yuk... I'm not buying those either.

PS... Samsclub had an HP that looked good for $228.  But I couldn't find in the ad when the sale started.  I figured it was probably 5 am but in what timezone?  No matter, apparently the sale has started and they are already sold out online.  And there is NFW I'm getting up at OMG-dark-thirty to try for one at the local store.  I'd rather pay the extra $50.

Update: The SandCastle Queen is nothing if not relentless.  While we missed out on the SamsClub HP deal, a little bird tells me she found an even better deal in today's Fry's ad.  A Toshiba with the 6 cell battery for $199!  And our local store still had two in stock.  She beat feet up the road and caught one of them.  Looks like there will be a netbook under the SandCastle Tree!  Woot!

21 November 2010

Top Gear, American Style

Episode 1 leaves me less than impressed.  The BBCA shows are a hoot with the interaction between Jeremy, Hamster & May.  Even a former neighbor visiting from the UK (picture middle aged British mum, about as far from a gear-head) raves about the show.

Mega props for dramatic photography and the cool cars.  But starting off with not just supercars, but the ultimate in supercars leaves me concerned.  Specifically, where do you go from there?   Can they talk superlatively about the latest BMW, Porche or Prius after driving the hottest Lambo's & Vipers?

Good call to start off with Buzz Aldrin as the first guest.   Talking about the cars he's owned and why is good, but where are the questions like "so you walked on the moon at age 39.  What have you done since then?  Surely he'd have had some more interesting stories to tell (Seems I've read of him criticizing NASA for not pressing more for a Mars mission).  Guess that footage ended up on the cutting room floor.  He drove your car, give him a chance to sell his vision.

But so far the host personalities aren't there.  NYTimes has an article detailing the history of the show and the attempts to transplant it noting especially there have been several cast changes.  That suggests it's hard/difficult/one-in-a-million chance to get the three way chemistry to go critical.   NYTimes article notes one guy is a stand up comic and another does stand ups for NASCAR.  Could be but I wouldn't know as NASCAR is about the one form of motor racing I don't follow.

Also it's embarrassing(an insult really) they felt the need to explain "The Stig".  "You will never see the face nor hear the voice."  Did WKRP have to explain Les Nesman's bandaids?  Or Captain Kirk's ripped shirts?  NOOOO!  Let the audience figure out the gag, explaining it in episode 1 is an insult to the audience's intelligence! What's next... explaining that the hosts never win any of the challenges?

The SandCastle Queen suggests one of the hosts should be a woman.  Maybe she's right.  Surely there is at least one female gear-head that would fit in and offer an alternate perspective to the "My Lambo is better than your Lambo" argument  beyond "Your's is made of plastic". 

However the look forward to next weeks show holds some promise.    Two of the hosts make fun of Tanner Foust for being a drifter "So you're the Brian Boitano** of drifting?"  Maybe the personalities will come through.

Top Shot also started off slow (like the first 8 episodes), Maybe this is a similar slow start.   I'll stick with Top Gear for a while. But so far it's miles behind the original.

(How are they going to top Jeremy's V8 Blender?  And how about the absurdity of their version of the Olympic Biathlon?  Enquiring minds want to know!)

* An uber-technical driver is not required for the show, but hosts should be able to rattle off the cars specs and know what the numbers mean.  ("redline" is not a makeup tip.)

** I had to look up the spelling because I care about spelling names right.  I didn't know how to spell the name because I follow ice skating even less than NASCAR.  In fact, any "sport" with subjective scoring, really isn't much of a sport.

19 November 2010

Bad career choices for $400

Answer:  Robbing a Phoenix jewelry store

The owners are on site and they are armed.   In this case the good guy fought back and bad guy #1's gun went off killing bad guy #2.  The good guy is OK.

Look for this to bump Marooned's DGC.

16 November 2010

I Opt Out.

I love to fly but I hate airline flying.   When death row inmates have more rights than an airline passenger, something is very, very, wrong.  And that was pre-"enhanced passenger screening".  It has only gotten worse.

My objection stems from the fact that airline passenger screening is a joke.  It's a show to make other passengers feel good.  TSA is looking to prevent the last attack.  Current radiated/gropage protocol is a result of last year's (yes, a year delayed!) underwear bomber attack.  But it doesn't stop the creative and determined terrorist.  Just ask any prison guardcorrections officer about how thoroughly do they search (patdown) inmates and visitors, and yet how much contraband makes it way into jails and prisons.   I don't want to get too graphic and fortunately I don't have to since Christopher Walken explains it so eloquently.   Do you really want to go through airline security after terrorists set off a bomb secreted inside their body?
Considering all the ground time associated with airline travel (drive to off airport parking, ride the bus to the terminal, wait in line to get irradiated or groped (your choice) , walk the 1/3rd mile to your gate and check in early enough to ensure your seat.  Not to mention the taxi time at some airports from the gate to takeoff can be nearly an hour ( I once asked a stewardressflight attendant for a class of water 45 minutes after leaving the gate and with the runway threshold nowhere in sight due to choking on a dry throat).  The breakeven between driving and flying is around 6 hours.  Last night a caller to Cam & Company noted he quit flying several years ago.  Where he used to fly he now drives.  His additional time in only about 2 hours.

Pre-9/11 I could put up with about 3 airline trips a year.  Post 9/11 that dropped to one a year.  Now in the year of "You agreed you be groped when you bought your ticket".  I'm done.  Alpha Mike Foxtrot.  It's one thing to grope me, I'm adult and never been raped.  I can "close my eyes and think of England", but totally another to expose my family to the gropage.  Go grope someone else. 

Now here is where I have an advantage.  As previously mentioned, I love to fly.  Many years ago I realized a lifelong dream and earned a pilot certificate.  Today instead of cruising the freeways at 70MPH, I'm cruising the airways at 220 MPH with me in the front-left (captains) seat. That moves the time-wise break even point considerably further out.  As a bonus, SandCastle Airlines has NEVER lost my luggage!  As a general rule "If I can fly direct (no fuel stops) I beat the airline's direct flight.  Similarly, one stop for me beats one stop for them.  (5 hours at 220 mph works out to at least 1100 miles).  (There is a delta cost but I'll pay that and consider it the cost to log the time and avoid the grope). 

The best part is I completely avoid the security theater.  Instead, I fly in the best security available.  I personally know each and every single person in the aircraft.

I Opt Out.  If TSA is involved with me getting from here to "there", I really don't need to be "there".  Or maybe if I do, I'll have a fourth amendment case!

* open offer... if this "opt out" option tickles your fancy I am happy to explain how to get from here to there and what it costs and answer questions though the training process.  I do this pro-bono.  Not see a nickel of your $$$ will end up in my pocket.  Rather I'm interested in seeing more certificated pilots out in the air.  I can only hope my guidance will add to this goal.

07 November 2010

Merle seeks airgun recommendations...

Merle in the comments to the post on the value of practicing at home with an airgun when you can't get to the range asks:
Well, that pretty much does away with my last excuse to not buy an air pistol.

Does anybody have a preferred brand, perhaps one with a better trigger?
I want to give his question maximum exposure so I'm bumping it to it's own post.  By all means, do your research (Caveat Emptor, baby!)   Though you might have better luck on a specific air gun forum. A quick search turned up "the new Crosman forum" and surely as the Sun will rise in the East tomorrow, there are more out there.

I bought the Crosman 1377 pistol because it looked like what I wanted (a target airgun) and the price was right (~$50).  So if you have a favorite airgun recommendation, Merle would like to hear from you.   Consider the comments section open to recommendations.

I also complained about the trigger in the comments but I'm wondering now if I've been overly harsh. It's heavy and it has a bit of creep. Or does it...

My fish scale shows the trigger break at about 3# with a full 10 pumps, 2 1/2# empty. Nothing wrong with that. It may feel heavier because it's a thinner trigger than my other pistols (1/8" vs 1/4").  BTW, the Crosman forum mentioned above includes a step by step procedure to carve a trigger "shoe" out of PVC pipe to improve the ergomonics by spreading trigger load on your finger .  TBS, I'm thinking Bea would appreciate this mod.

I think the trigger creeps a bit but I'm not sure how to accurately put a number on it. 

Also, it's a $50 pistol. The trigger group is almost certainly constructed of stamped metal parts and they probably don't spend a lot of time cleaning up the mating surfaces.  A nicer trigger is going to require more careful machining and that will drive the price up.

The real question is what do I expect for $50? I'm calling the 1377 a fair deal.
Surfing the interwebs turned up some posts suggesting it may be possible to improve the trigger but I need to do more research before I start grinding metal.  I'll start with carving the shoe.

03 November 2010

SCSon's LEGO(r) mission

A few posts back I mentioned the SCSon created the program to complete a FIRST LEGO league mission in about 90 minutes.

Here are the details.  The mission has two parts.  First to insert a "bone bridge", into the bone.  The bone bridge is the white/gray piece at the bottom of the pic and it has to be placed into the slot on the just above it.

Second part requires bumping the opposite end of the bone to kick the ball into a goal (not shown).

Here's how it looks with the SCSon at the controls:  Note the robot guides against the south wall to ensure it's correctly positioned to set the bone bridge.

Heh.. we may need to dial back the kicking force as it broke the bone bridge and left the ankle disassociated with the leg.  That would be a bad thing (though the rules say if the ball scores, so does the bone bridge!)

chalk one up for Linux...

I use an fairly ancient Dell Laptop for remote uses.   It dates back to the generation just prior to "built in WiFi" and hence I use a slide in PCMCIA card for wireless access.  It seemed to work fine for FIRST LEGO league this afternoon but would only stubbornly BSOD at the Conservative Bloggers thing tonight.

Fortunately the laptop is configured to dual boot with Fedora Linux and it had no problem with the WiFi card.  Thus I was able to actually surf and post while Winder's XP sucked wind.

I'm just saying, While Windows blew chunks, Linux saved my day.

October ePostal results

Traction Control has posted the October match results.

Lest you think you can't get to a range to shoot these contests, know this.  I tied for second place, one point out of first, shooting a stock $50 Crosman air pistol and the cheapest .177 pellets I can find.  The range is setup inside my garage.

The pellet trap is $16*.  The swingers are fun but the first set broke before I'd shot through the first tin of 500 pellets.  I also use an old piece of carpet as an extended backstop for shots that miss the trap.

So there you have it...  2nd place with a $50 gun and a range set up in my garage.  If I can tie for second, you can do better!

Manfred is scheduled for the November match but is battling system issues. In the meantime CTD has a zombie match up.  Entries due by Nov 29th.  Stay tuned, it's looking like a two-fer month! 

* Eye protection is absolutely mandatory.  A significant percentage of the shots are reflected back into the garage.

02 November 2010

Stand By!

The SandCastle crew will be hanging with rest of the Az cool kids live blogging the election results from the KFYI studios.  We'll be on live starting about 7PM local.  See you then.

Update: Internet issues are now resolved and we are up and running.  Comments will appear here at the SandCastle proper and also on KFYI's wordpress sight.

Update 2:  Apparently the crossposting is inop.  You can follow the goings on over at http://dollarjoe.com/election2010/

31 October 2010

As good as it gets!

As weekends go, this was a pretty darn good one.

Saturday the SCSon and I worked on his robot program.    He is involved in FIRST LEGO(r) league.  The short version is that the teams are given a set of missions to accomplish in 2 1/2 minutes.  The teams have 3 months to build a LEGO robot and program the robot to accomplish as many missions as possible.  The missions are intentionally "overcalled".  That is, they intentionally specify more missions than a normal team can complete in the timeframe.  This forces the team to exercise some level of triage.  Which missions have a favorable payoff/reward ratio.  Some missions are easy and pay a lot, others are hard and pay the same or less.  Unfortunately the coolest mission "bad cell destruction" falls into the later category.  It will require a lot of effort but only pays the same amount as the much easier missions. 

His teammates had decided the "Special Bone Repair" mission was too difficult and wanted to focus on the low hanging fruit.  But the SCSon said "I can do it!" and took it on.    The mission has two parts.  First the robot has to insert a "bone bridge" (it's a pretty small target to hit) and then bump the other end of the bone (it's on a pivot) to kick a ball into a goal.
(stay tuned for pictures)

We went from zero to Mission Complete in about 90 minutes.    One problem we ran into is that the robot ends up so close to the wall, it doesn't have room to turn.  The SCSon said "Hey, no problem, lets just back it all the way to base and have a second program to run around and kick the goal.  This has the advantage that, if the inserting the bone bridge fails, we can try again without penalty.

This is the kind of effort we need.   I hope I can work with the rest of the team like this.

Next we headed out to the range where we took the opportunity to shoot some October ePostal targets.  The SCSon has taken a liking to the newest 9mm in the arsenal (FM Argentine Hi Power).  Unfortunately out of the 20 shots fired for the match, 3 hit the paper and only one scored.  No matter, we submitted the target anyway.  I also shot a target with the Hi-Power, but all the bullets seemed attracted to the same hole.  Normally this is a good thing, but not when aiming at 20 separate and distinct little targets.

I'd also brought the AR-15 which the SCSon tried for the first time.  He was surprised at how little recoil it has just like mom and dad have been saying all along!  We even arrived at the range just as a cease fire was starting which means we put our targets up straight away and didn't have to wait for the next cease fire.

Heading home from the range, temps were in the mid-70's and we had the top down on the roadster.  There may be better days than this, but they are pretty rare.

Oh and Sunday's weather matched Saturday's.  I took advantage and got some air under the tires.  Cool temps, calm winds and greaser landings. 

Saturday was a really good day and Sunday made it a really good weekend!

21 October 2010

Will that apply to union T's as well?

So Coconino county has agreed to allow a Flagstaff woman to wear her TEA party T-shirt while voting. However the story at KFYI notes:
The injunction applies only in Coconino County. In Maricopa County*, elections director Karen Osborne says they will strictly enforce the "no electioneering" rule within 75 feet of all polling places. That includes t-shirts or buttons endorsing any candidate or party, whether it's a Democrat, Republican, independent, or tea party.

Asked about people who insist that the tea party isn't an official political party, Osborne says that doesn't matter: "They have many candidates that they're supporting. They have all the earmarks of a party except to be filed as one."

Wow... talk about the pot calling the kettle... and what an open invitation to a lawsuit.

The SCQueen worked the polls a while back.  While training warned over and over again not to discuss any issues or candidates on the ballot, they exposed their liberal biases at every turn.

With such a kind invitation to a lawsuit, what do you bet some fed up conservative out there dons a TEA party T shirt and heads to the polls with appropriate documentation equipment (such as MP3 recorder & video). Then waits in their car until someone walks up with a union T shirt. Then heads inside to cast their ballot. If they are denied the right to vote, question why the union T was allowed. Unions have candidates they are supporting too with millions of dues dollars paying for political ads, not just parties and rallies. Then walk away peaceably and file suit.

This isn't rocket science.  If I can envision this, you know a lot of others can too!

Bring popcorn! [I've already voted so I'm ineligible.]

* Maricopa county includes Phoenix and surrounding metro area.  It's 4M population is by far the lions share of Arizona's 6.6M population [US Census Bureau].  Probably 40% are registered Republican, likely a similar proportion of the "independents" also lean conservative.  That's 2Million give-or-take opportunities for this scenario to play out.  I'm pretty rusty on game theory but I'm thinking the needle here bends way close to "sure bet".

20 October 2010

I voted today*

Election day isn't for a couple weeks but I voted today. There a couple reasons at play... one, I hate standing in lines, particularly when the people controlling the lines are unable to hold any job other than "poll worker". Needless to say, these aren't the brightest bulbs out there.

Also, campaigns are notified when I return my ballot and stop filling cluttering my mailbox with their bile once my ballot is returned.

Here's a couple thoughts on the ballot.

I find it amusing the NRA uses the tagline "Vote Freedom First" but when push comes to shove they really mean "Vote ONE Freedom First".  Ok, I get they are a single issue organization and the 2A is all they care about.  But I do care about all freedom's and hence take their recommendations with that large grain of salt.

First off,  I can't hold my nose and vote for McCain. Instead I wrote in "JD Hayworth". I can't take credit for this idea though...I saw it somewhere else on line.

Also I'm normally a "no vote" on all propositions. However this time around there are some really good ones.

Prop 106 gives the middle finger salute to federal control of healthcare. Easy choice.  I vote YES.

Prop 107 amends the constitution to eliminate all preferences based on race or gender.  The text of the amendment is really very simple:
36. Preferential treatment or discrimination prohibited; exceptions; definition
Followed by a couple common sense exceptions.

Ward Connerly recently visited Arizona and talked at length why this is overdue.  The one that struck a chord with me was the Michigan school of law case decided at the supreme court on a 5-4 decision with Arizona's Sandra Day O'Connor casting the deciding vote in the wrong direction.  I could not believe such an abomination was approved by the SCOTUS.  The admission process gave more weight to a specific race than any other other factor (LSAT scores, grades, etc.) Instead they were mostly interested that applicants were of the correct race.

On what planet is this fair?  YES on 107.

Prop 109 makes hunting and fishing a constitutional right.  While the ALF's wail this isn't necessary, history shows it clearly is.  We have seen time and time again where unelected bureaucrats issue rules interfering with hunts and allowing populations to run wild.  Hunting is a valuable component of wildlife management.  [See also New Jersey Bear Hunt].  So this comes down to putting a constitutional block in front of bureaucrats doing HSUS' bidding.  I'm not a hunter but I vote YES.

Prop 110 deals with a technical point on swapping state land in favor of protecting our military bases.  I have mixed feelings here.  While our military bases bring in a lot of money to the economy, and while Arizona's 350-VFR-days-a-year climate is the most efficient flight training environment, I'd also like to put my skidmarks on those runways!  The former Williams AFB is now a public use airport and I've marked them several times.  Luke AFB however is still a very active training base and I've only marked the runway once (and had to sign my life away for the permission).  If luke were to close, it'd also become a public airport and I like that.  Still it's better for the nation and the state as is.   I vote YES.

Prop 111 retitles the "Secretary of state" to "Lieutenant Governor" and requires they run as a ticket.  Currently Arizona has no Lieutenant Governor.  Instead the Secretary of State succeeds to the Governor.  This proposition would require that both Governor and Lieutenant Governor run as a ticket.  Now recent history shows the Secretary of State has assumed the office with surprising frequency.  Napolitano was vehemently against any pro-gun laws and vetoed several.  If a D had succeeded her hasty departure just ahead of state bankruptcy  AZ would not have constitutional carry or a number of pro-gun laws today.  I vote NO.

Prop 112 changes the deadline for propositions from 4 months ahead of the election to 6.  Eh, more time to consider is better.  And if you miss this bus there will be another coming soon.  So + on the upside and not much downside.  I vote YES.

Prop 113 Right to a secret ballot. 
This again falls into "On what planet" category.  On the list of fundamental freedoms, the right to a secret ballot is pretty high.  Think back to why we have a private ballot.  It allows each voter to cast their ballot according to their interests without outside interference.  However when the ballot is public, one side or the other can "influence" the vote towards their interest and away from the individual's interest.  I vote YES.

Prop 203 "Medicinal Marijuana" gives more grief than any other issue on this ballot.  On one side, The woman that bore me died after three years battling cancer.  We visited a couple weeks before she died.  One evening we had dinner ready (roast chicken from the local market) but all she could stomach was all of one chicken wing.  The lack of nourishment had to have played into her longevity.   Also the SCQueen had a friend going through stage IV breast cancer and sent out for some weed.  It kept her appetite up and kept her strength up a couple weeks longer.

OTOH, seems anyone and their brother is qualified to write a prescription for pot and there is no measure of the potency (dosage per hit) and many (most?) of the scripts are written to 17-35 YOs for "chronic pain".  The most credible argument against the prop is that the quantity allows for something like 10 doobs per day and smoking that much pot would qualify the same person as chronically disabled and hence eligible for welfare.

The libertarian in me is in favor of expanding individual rights and I can see the potential benefits for victims of devastating diseases.  However the potential trail to welfare fraud has me concerned.   I made my call, you make yours! (no recommendation)

Prop 302  Diverting Cigarette taxes to the general fund.  A 2006 proposition raised taxes on cigarettes some $0.80 per pack with schools as the beneficiary.  However the funds are administered without any legislative oversight and questions remain about how they administer the funds.  Now I'm not a smoker and never have been, hence I don't pay the tax.  Still I'd rather see the tax and spending board eliminated completely.  Short of that, I'm in favor of eliminating the arbitrary spending board and closing the deficit.  YES on 302

School budget overrides:  NO EFFIN  WAY!  Our school populations are shrinking.  They have grown addicted to budget overrides which turn up on our tax bills.  Few tax dollars actually make it to the classroom.  Just look at the list of stuff your child's teacher asks you to provide for their class.  These overrides provide 6 digit salaries and walnut paneled offices to administrators.  JUST SAY NO.

UPDATE:  Vox calls 'em here.

16 October 2010

The Four Rules

This week was Spring Break for the SCSon. We took the opportunity to trek to NorCal to visit the SCDad. We learned my nephew and namesake is entering BoyScouts/Cubscouts/Tigerscouts or what ever is age appropriate for a 6YO. He's attending camp soon and especially excited that he will get to shoot an airgun. The SCSon seized upon the learning opportunity to introduce the four rules.

The SCSon drew up a paper gun and a sight picture as training aids. He then instructed the nephew in the four rules and brought him up to demonstrate his understanding. He also gave him a crash course in Eddie Eagle (What should you do if you come across a gun? Stop, don't touch, leave the area and tell an adult).

Unfortunately the nephew was unable to recite the four rules when prompted. But no matter... Many need to hear something several times for it to sink in. The SCNephew has now heard the four rules (and associated consequences for failure to abide) at least twice so he's pre-exposed.

We've also promised to take him shooting next time he's in town. Of course that means Mom & Dad will also shoot and that will also be a new experience for them, making two more Californians against gun control.

For the sake of completeness, here are the four rules:
1. The gun is always loaded. That means...
2. We never point the gun at anything we do not intend to destroy. Also..
3. Finger off the trigger until the sights are on the target. And...
4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond.

27 September 2010

Mark your Calendars...

Mr. Monster Hunter himself will be in Scottsdale signing books.

2pm October 24th at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale.

10 September 2010

You say it like it's a bad thing

How "progressive" am I? 75/400 "Very conservative".

I'm OK with that...

04 September 2010

Gotta Love Arizona

The SCQueen's ToDo list for today included visiting a local pool supply company about 20 miles up the road to pick up a part for the pool. However a neighbor stopped by pointing out the significant police presence in the neighborhood. They were looking for a couple guys wandering about breaking into homes.

She decided to stay close to the SandCastle on guard duty and instead called the pool company asking "can I pay for the part over the phone and have my sister (who works nearby) pick it up?". the pool company lady declines "we really don't do that". Ok, could sound like a con but we aren't talking about big bucks (OTOH, it is a pool part so it's priced about 10x what it should be).

But the SCQueen presses the question explaining why she doesn't make the trip herself (bad guys may be in the neighborhood, husband is away and she's guarding the Castle.)

"Do you have a gun?" the pool company lady asks. SCQueen explains the bigger question is "which gun". Pool Lady approves and OK's the transaction.

I bet if she had answered the question along the lines of "No, I don't like guns", Pool Company Lady might have served up a lecture that can be summed up as "When seconds count, the police are minutes away."

Gotta love Arizona!

27 August 2010

No Winners ...

Published story here. Of course this is just one side of the story and the facts may be materially different. Still given the facts as presented, it's an important lesson on when to brandish/shoot and when to escape.

Short version: Fine Upstanding Young Man "A" (FUYMA) purchases some beer at a convenience store. BadGuy "B" (BGB) accosts FUYMA striking said FUYMA in the head with a wrench and stealing the beer.

Fight over, BGB heads out with the booty. FUYMA retrieves a gun from is car and attempts to reclaim his purchase. FUYMA chases BGB behind store where BGB again attacks with the wrench. FUYMA shoots BGB in the chest.

End result: BGB is dead (please, limit your cheering to a golf clap... this story does not have a happy ending). FUYMA is up on 2nd degree murder charges. Note this is not a commentary on Arizona's constitutional carry law. Had he been carrying, constitutionally or via CCW and had he defended himself from BGB's during the initial attack with the wrench, the result could be very different. In this case he likely would be seen defending himself from an attack with a deadly weapon.

Unfortunately FUYMA wasn't carrying and instead had to retrieve the gun from his car and then restarted the fight. That makes him the bad guy. At best he has a long and expensive legal fight ahead and he escapes the legal process with his freedom. At worst he's looking at a long prison sentence and loss of civil rights. Not to mention the ruinous legal bills.

All training classes attended to date have stressed one lesson in particular. Even in the "cleanest" of shooting circumstances, you expose yourself to a horrendous legal fight and the bills that come with it. The conclusion of the lesson is "If you feel the need to pull your gun and potentially take the life of another, make sure that it's worth the cost of the fight." Generally, that means anytime either my life or my loved ones lives are threatened, it's game on. But my car, a parking spot? Not if I have a chance to escape. Clearly a twelve pack is not worth the trouble FUYMA has bought into. Not saying I agree with it, but that is the legal system we have today. Good luck man...

Now contrast that Gary & Linda Haas' encounter with prison escapees Tracy Province, John McCluskey and accomplice Casslyn Welch. A few days after escaping from prison, they tired of sleeping in the car and decided to seek out a camping trailer. They approached Gary & Linda at a rest stop and according to one report, Disarmed them. They ordered the Hass' into the trailer, then shot and killed them from outside.

I've tried to imagine how this encounter took place (IOW, this is my wild imagination and these speculations should not be confused with fact). Suspect it started with "the interview" as Joe Huffman calls it: small talk, where do you come from, nice trailer, great to be out, etc. During which time chief bad guy( CBG) closely observes Mr. Haas. The Haas' in condition white or maybe yellow doesn't recognize the interview for what it is and plays his role of the good neighbor. Then CBG pulls his gun continuing the conversation "please place your hands on the table, and oh I noticed a bulge there at 4 O'Clock. My partner will please check that out. They probably didn't have a clue their lives were in danger until the gun barrel was in their faces.

Now disarmed, the Haas' options are limited. Complying only bought them a few minutes. In this case when faced with a professional bad guy who limited the time from "cheerful friend" to "Grim reaper" to less than human reaction time. They didn't have much of a chance.

Seems to me best case scenario is to fail the interview. Next best is the scene from "Inglorious Bastards" "I've had a pistol pointed at your testicles since you sat down." Of course that scene didn't turn out so well either.

This may well be the Kobayashi Maru (no-win) scenario for carriers. Still I prefer my chances armed and observant...


PS.. Disclaimer... I am not an attorney so this isn't legal advice. Rather this is a layman applying lessons learned with 20/20 hindsight. I wish FUYMA the best and shed no tears for BGB.

PPS.. The prison system has a lot of questions to answer WRT the escape and why they were in that prison. These are some really bad characters who should be a maximum strength pen, but instead are housed in a medium security private dormitory with dubious "security". And now two innocents are dead, could have been five!

19 August 2010

Monster Hunter Vendetta

Pre-order your signed copy now!

Larry has details here.

We loved the first book and can't wait for the sequel. The only real question is who is going to read it first, me or the SCSon.

16 August 2010

Dang I wish I lived in CD3!

There was a TEA party down on the border yesterday... No I wasn't there but the reports look very promising.

One of the local TV News outlets carried this report from a Tucson affiliate. It includes a couple seconds of Pamela Gorman running in the hotly contested AZ CD3 (click here an look in at about 0:57 on the tape). Full disclosure: Pamela spent a couple hours with conservative AZ bloggers last month and I came away very impressed.

Watching the report struck me odd "Why is she wearing a backpack while speechifying?" (Note the wide black shoulder straps contrasting her white blouse). Then it hit me... "Nope,,, that's a shoulder holster and spotted the butt end of a magazine under her left arm.

Pamela was on the Terry Gilberg show later Sunday evening (link pending) and commented that she is a gun owner and strongly supports the 2A. She was truly concerned for her safety so close to the border. (I would be too!). Apparently she carries a .45 caliber Glock. I can hardly think of a better way to show support for the Second Amendment than by openly carrying!

Good on ya Pamela. I only wish I lived in CD3 so I could cast a vote FOR someone rather than against the other guy (which unfortunately is what I did with my CD5 vote :-(

PS.. Her YouTube isn't bad either!

15 August 2010

Top Shot - Finale

Great Episode!

Warning... spoilers below so if you haven't seen the episode... abort this session now!
Three great challenges to eliminate three of the final four competitors. My money was on JJ and Iain in the final with Peter falling first, then Chris. The final would be decided by the final competition. Who's strength would it play to?

First one was a series of metal plates that when hit flip over to the competitors side. Shot with the Baretta 92F. Forty shots and sixty seconds. Only thing that matters is who hits the most plates last. So winning requires skill and timing. When the music stopped, Peter didn't have a chair. Called it right.

Second challenge was a really good call. "Horse" where each competitor called challenge. What better way to make the competitors "play your game". Unfortunately JJ missed his own call and the others as well. That put him out. Heck, with enough variables you could probably make a series out of this one contest itself. Missed that call which means I missed the final matchup as well.

The final contest was IMHO a great call as it was a nice collection of everything that lead up to this point. Knives, long bows, pistols and rifles. Great call... gotta perform well all around to win. In the end both were firing at the same 300 yard rifle target with the M-14. First one to hit wins. Iain had the slight advantage as he started loading the magazine first and part of the strategy was how many rounds to you load. He loaded enough and made the first hit.

They also brought back the individual competitors back to watch the finale. Nice touch, and somewhat reversed... the past nine episodes sitting on the bench meant safety and standing meant risk of going home. But now it's reversed. The losers are sitting and the finalists are standing. I applaud the turnabout.

The one Uggh moment in the episode came after Iain's winning shot. Time to celebrate the winner and console the loser... when Adam stuck his face in the shot like a fan jumping into the background of a live news shot even before the competitors could shake hands. Only thing missing was a big foam #1 hand and the mouthing "Hi Mom!". And he looked as silly. Watching the rerun it appears the producers tried to edit that out as much as possible (Adam's extremities are visible at the edge of the screen as Iain shook hands with Chris.) Dude it was their moment, not yours. Everyone else seemed to get that.

The high degree of sportsmanship at the end was a credit to the competitors. Once the emoSurvivorcrap was over, every uttered wish was for success, not failure. That well reflects the attitude of shooting sports in general. Competitors are always willing to help others with whatever is needed... Talk through strategy, lend ammo, magazines, even loaning a gun to shoot.

The next season should be interesting to see what they come up with next. Also I hope for more Tara's next year. I know there are skilled women shooters out there, Guns are a great equalizer, lets see the head to head competition. (I also wonder how many skilled shooters both M & F were disqualified because they weren't sufficiently "photogenic".)

PS. Nice getup there Peter!

11 August 2010

I voted today*

Arizona's primary election is August 24th and I'm proud to say I voted today for John McCain . . . . . . . . . . . To RETIRE!

John, "my Friend", It's time to fade away. Those words you use evoke a dry heave every time they escape your lips. The word "friend" has special meaning to me. I don't have many friends, but those I call "friend" are people for which I'll go to the ends of the earth to aid in their darkest hour. And they will do the same for me. It apparently means something completely different to you. Your only interest in me is the vote I get to cast. You want it but you wouldn't even begrudge so much as a wave as you are driven down the street. And your past performance has proven you will vote against my interest at every turn. No dice. We are not friends and I will not vote for you. ever!

It's time for you to go. You are right. Character matters... and I find yours seriously lacking. 28 years at the public trough actively thwarting the will of your constituents is too long. Just go away. Alfa Mike Foxtrot.

* I'm on the permanent early voting list 'cuz I hate standing in lines, particularly when our polling places are staffed with escapees from the old folks home. What should be a simple process (look up voter's name in the rolls and have them sign their name) becomes a kindergarten alphabet exercise. Oh, they love to talk about old Indiana in the 1930's but resolving whether "G" falls before or after "M" in the alphabet is real work. Instead my ballot shows up in the mailbox about a month in advance of election day. I fill it out at my leisure here at SandCastle HQ, sign the envelope and drop it back into the mail. easy peasy. The ballot waits on me, not the other way 'round.

They even include an "I voted early" sticker to wear.

09 August 2010

Top Shot - Penultimate Episode

Yea, I'm still watching... chalk this up to lack of options rather than the quality of the show.

I liked the format of this episode. This is the format the show should have used about since day one! Ditch the emo "Survivor" crap, lets see the skills with different weapons and scenarios. Lets see a plate rack, a Texas star... with a rifle at 200 yards! Or an recurve bow at 50. Make it a real competition!

But it's still thin on the content. Here's a hint... if you have to stick a commercial for your own show "we'll be right back after these messages" in amongst the commercials, you are running too many commercials! I translate that to "Record this show so you can blast through these 8 minutes of commercials this break and see the 35 minutes of content without wasting 25 minutes you'll never get back."

Glad to see Adam depart... Look up the "Peter Principal" and you'll see Adam staring back. OTOH, Sorry to see Kelly leave. He earned every step in the process.. IMHO going first cost him the event. Everyone ('cept Adam AKA "loser" ) hit every target on the first shot. That's an undercall on the course. The targets were too big or the distances too short. It's akin to a math test that starts out 2+2=?, 2+3=? 2+4=? etc. Only the most moronic would fail. Anyway you slice it, the course was too easy to separate the competitors. Kelly lost 'cuz he went first and wasted time loading unneeded rounds into the first couple magazines.


01 August 2010


This has been a vacation week for the SandCastle Crew. Perhaps the premier airshow in the country is the Experimental Aircraft Association's annual convention at Oshkosh, WI. I've attended a few times in the past and the SCSon has always wanted to go. However once a year the DayJob(tm) runs an "all hands on deck" event and it's been scheduled for exactly the same week as Oshkosh for several years running. However this year the event was pushed back a month so I pledged the SCSon this was the year!

Plan A was to fly up in SandCastle-1. The trip would take at least one long day if not a long and a short day, plus burn a couple kilobucks in gas. But the bill wasn't a show stopper. The last airliner trip was such an ordeal we had decided if SC-1 can't go, neither are we. However we found a lesser known airline (Allegiant) that doesn't fly out of the main cities, instead they fly between outlying airports. They would fly us to Rockford IL about 130 miles south of our destination. Ok, that's driving distance and we can do this. Oh, and the airfare was a bit over a third of the fuel bill and I as PIC wouldn't have to sweat the weather.

Here are a couple pics from the event:
Traditionally the airshow proper starts with the American flag displayed by a parachuter. (volunteers are staged on the runway to ensure the flag is caught before any part touches the ground)

Col. Graham has written several books on the SR-71. The first book "SR-71 Revealed" Answers those questions everyone has asked ("How high and how fast") for years. First time I read the book, Chapter 6 answered these questions and even explained the limiting factors. Encountering Col.. Graham at Oshkosh a couple years back I asked about these facts. He explained those details had been declassified in 1995 which allowed the first book to be published in 1996. For more on Col. Graham's books click here

This year's theme was 75 years of the DC-3. Some pondered "As they drew the first lines defining the aircraft, do you think they knew what they had?" Personally I say "Heck No". Aerospace then is what Semiconductors are today. Today's bleeding edge is tomorrow's falling edge. The first pic is Clay Lacy's DC-2. While it looks substantially identical to the DC-3, it's actually considerably smaller. However it was nice they'd actually allow one to sit in the pilot's seat while most others charging for the visit blocked cockpit access.

More pics to come... stay tuned!

21 July 2010

Tempe Town Swamp

Once upon a time, Tempe (AKA Berkeley on the river Salt) had a lake. Well actually they didn't have a lake but they really really wanted one. So they installed inflatable rubber dams on a two mile section of the Salt River where it flowed through Tempe and decreed it a lake. It is seen here as the backdrop of a Tea Party event a while back.

The politicians crowed the inflatable dams would last 25 years or so. But the fine print showed the manufacturer wouldn't warranty them for even 10 years. So here it is ~10 years later and here is the "lake" today. (Click on the image to reveal the full panoramic splendor of the "lake" (now swamp).

And here is why:
One of the inflatable dams failed allowing the billion give-or-take gallons contained in the lake to follow the gravitationally directed path down river.

heh... I'm just glad I hadn't purchased the annual permit for the Royal SandCastle Yacht. (Seen here in an outing on the "lake" last year)

15 July 2010

Hippo Birdy, Two Ewe...

...SandCastle Scrolls just turned two!

Ides of July 2008 the Green Flag dropped.
The finish line still hasn't popped.
See ya 'round the coming year

(A poet, not meeee
The DayJob(tm) I'll Keee(p)

14 July 2010

"Why do you need a gun...

... when you can just dial 911?"

Oh wait.

Who was it recently said "They raise taxes on the basis of saving police, firefighters & teachers, but when they get the money they buy leather chairs for themselves."

10 July 2010

Airport Blogging...

A customer decided my presence was required on site post haste. On the downside I loathe airline travel. But on the upside I'll escape the Phoenix heat for a couple days and get in a visit with the SCDad.

Item 1. Remember the 35 foot American flag painted along side the freeway, that CalTrans decided was "graffiti" and painted it over? I'm happy to report it is freshly repainted and surrounded by flags on poles at each corner. I really wish I had a camera to share the sight.

Item 2. TSA was a breeze. No lines, just walk up to the gate officer and then a pick of two scanning lines. I apparently chose poorly and won the random secondary security screening! It was quick and uneventful. I'm wearing a shorts and a T shirt. Not many places to hide anything.

Then one of the TSA guys spoke up saying "Hey you got the bag too!" (pointing ay my NRA "briefcase"). I mentioned I'd heard rumors of NRA members living in the Peoples Republic of Kalifornia. He said there are about eight of them.. They have monthly meetings. We had a short chat as I collected my shoes & bags.

Item 3. File this under "Things I never knew and/or suspected". The SCDad shot at Camp Perry! He said it was an Army match in his ROTC days, probably 50-ish years ago. He mentioned even then it was hallowed ground. He asked if I'd ever shot there. "No but it's on my list of things to do this life". Note to self... make a plan and make it happen!

Looking forward to getting home and finding scope rings & bases in the mail.

05 July 2010

ePostal updates

Soft Green Glow has the June ePostal results and the July contest is up over at Sailor Curt's.

04 July 2010

Happy Independence Day

From the SandCastle Crew!

01 July 2010

Well that was fun!

Just returned home from Thursday Night Steel at the Phoenix Rod & Gun club with Exurban Kevin and the Great Satan crew Ms VRWC & The Capitalist Pig.

Steel shooting is more fun than punching holes in paper and even more so when shooting with friends. Tonight was a really good time. The SCQueen came along as well and planned for her to participate as well. There was a holster & magazine carriers and enough bullets for the both of us. But for lack of a belt, her gun stayed in the bag.

The CRO's safety briefing was brief and to the point. We are all experienced shooters and there was no need to drag it out.

I hadn't shot steel in quite a while. In fact while getting dressed, I realized this is the first time I'd used the Fobus paddle holster since purchasing it at the NRA convention last year. It *has* been a while.

We did the stages in reverse order and never had to wait for more than a couple minutes before taking our turn. We all made it through our first stage (alternating circles and squares. one hit on the circles, two on the squares). I did ok until I started to rush and that cost me.

Second stage not so much. The stage was three plate racks from three boxes (each squarely in front of the respective rack). Click here for a picture of the stage. Kevin decided it was a good time to practice MALF drills. Then I developed a flinch and wasted a lot of rounds. My plan called for cleaning the first two racks on one magazine (17 round magazine. 12 hits, allowing 5 misses) then switch to a second magazine enroute to the last box. Wrong! I swapped magazines on each transition and ran to slide lock at the end of the 2nd rack.

Third stage had 6 targets, one hit each, from each of three shooting positions. No memorable problems there or on the last stage (five torso targets, one hit each from four shooting boxes placed in a line one ahead of the other.

In all, the stages required (at least for me) careful aim and concentrating on a good grip and trigger squeeze. Carelessness was NOT rewarded. Also there is something about the running timer that adds stress to the situation. We have seen shooters run fine on the normal range but have MALF after MALF once the clock is running. I also decided I don't like the PT-92 grips. They felt "prickly" when I shouldn't even notice them. I'll be shopping for some Hogue's this week.

Shooting Steel, especially at the informal end, is a much more social game than shooting at the range or rifle competitions. It is much more fun like a round of golf and go as a "foursome". There is time to talk while reloading magazines and waiting to take the stage. We all look at the stage and plan our attack.

Anyway you slice it, it's great fun and a really good excuse to disassemble 100 rounds or so [so we can reload them later of course]. Yea it was "warm" (111F on the drugstore thermometer just down the road), but we had a bit of cloud cover and enough wind to keep the personal evap cooler* working.

Same time next week? And we'll take the action item to get the SCQueen a belt so she can play too.

* personal evap cooler = sweating like a pig. The dry air evaporates the water, and latent heat of evaporation takes heat from the skin. It works, but best to pre-hydrate before heading out and keep the water bottle close at hand.

28 June 2010

Red Letter Day!

Not only has the SCOTUS dealt a smackdown on the Chicago gun ban, but Senator Byrd has left the building!

I remember hearing the news of one of the gun bans passing thirty some years ago and asking "That's clearly unconstitutional! How can they do this?" I felt very much like those kids in the TV commercial where the moderator offers the first girl a pony and gives her a plastic toy, then offers the second girl a pony and gives her a real one. The commercial tagline is something to the effect of "Even a child can tell when something isn't right".

If those words in the bill of rights are the supreme law of the land, how can these outright bans possibly be constitutional? Further how can these legislators pass these laws with a straight face.

Mum patiently explained dismissed my complaint saying it has to go all the way to the Supreme Court and it is extremely expensive to challenge a law, no matter how blatantly it violates the constitution. Since then of course we've all learned about "standing", and "standards of scrutiny".

The second question is something they don't cover in Civics class. Many years later the answer became obvious. Quite simply legislators DO NOT CARE than they are violating the constitution. There is no downside in it for them. They just want to get re-elected and that means making deals with the devil. They will be long gone when the bill comes due.

So tonight I'm hoisting one to the SCOTUS for getting it right and cursing the four that read the words and still didn't care.

I'm not going to dance in the streets at Sen Byrd's demise, not even a little w00t. He really should have left the Senate under his own power at least 25 years ago. As it was, he was a walking (sometimes) talking (always) argument for term limits. I can think of a couple others that ought to leave under their own power. In fact I look forward to casting a vote to retire my senior Senator in the upcoming primary.

24 June 2010

car frustrations

I can't think of a way to post details without throwing a loved one under the bus. So is greatest Jeopardy tradition, I'll give the answer - You'll come up with the question.

My attempt to save 40$ on a new [REDACTED] for the primary ride has cost me $6 in [REDACTED], a $39 [REDACTED], several hours pouring over the manual and trouble shooting in the 100+ degree garage and a week driving the backup vehicle. (yet another place where "two is one and one is none")

Sometimes living the frugal life goes a little too far. For now just call me "penny wise & pound foolish"

19 June 2010

Wedding day

No not mine... But a certain Az blogger has gone quiet for the past week is doing the deed today. update - I've received permission to spill the beans. Pop on over to Arizona Rifleman & send your best wishes to he and his new bride. May there be many little Riflekind in their future. (G'head... just hijack the comment thread on his latest post).

The daughter of the SCQueen's life long friend also tied the knot today. I begged off that one on the basis that it's Father's day weekend and I really didn't want to spend it at a wedding 2+ driving hours away.

Instead I'll be hanging out with other Arizona bloggers. However I may catch hell later. The SCQueen made the drive including getting stuck in a 7 mile traffic jam due to an overturned vehicle on the one road between here and there. Traffic reports suggested the freeway may not be open until just prior to the scheduled start. I'll bet most of the wedding attendees are also stuck.

Update: Traffic opened up earlier than expected and she made it to the church on time. Meanwhile I met a lot of other great people and re-met some that I'd met before. Look for a new Moonbattery link over on the left side under Neighborly Reads. We didn't talk much but I liked what I saw checking out the blog.

09 June 2010

May ePostal CTD drawing winner

We have a winner for Cheaper Than Dirt's $50 certificate. Recall this is awarded randomly to an entrant in Mr. Completely's monthly ePostal contest.

But first here is the selection methodology. I took the results list (now nicely formatted here), and printed them out. These were sliced into evenly sized strips. Those strips were folded and put into a hat and stirred well. Then, per tradition, I sought out the prettiest girl in the immediate vicinity and had her draw a strip. I can't think of a more random way to select an entrant.

And that name is......

.........................Drumroll please....................
......................... More drumroll.....................

Billll, specifically for his Ruger Mk 1 class 1 entry. Congrats Bill! Enjoy the spree!

08 June 2010

Top Shot / Reality TV

I completely ignored the new reality TV for years. Never seen an episode of Survivor, and if I ever caught myself stopping on "cops" while channel surfing, I knew it was time to switch off. The early seasons of "Deadliest Catch" also had nothing for me.

But a couple years ago "Ice road trucker's" grabbed my interest. Not so much the idea of driving heavy trucks on ice, but more the really low speed limits (15mph) means the trip takes hours. Oh and don't forget the hills between the lakes ("portage") where you don't have much traction going up the hill and you can't get a running start because you'll blow out the ice for the next guy. Now the new season has also started, but it doesn't look significantly different than last season.

And then I found "Bullrun". It's a rally race grafted onto a reality show. The elimination round takes the form of obstacle driving course. There is a certain poetic justice seeing a kid show up in a $100k super car get sent home buy an old fart in a Hemi 'cuda. And the girl that brags about what a great driver she is also going home. Ha ha... you earned it. By the end I was pulling for the 'Cuda Old Fart because he'd proven himself (and his daughter as well, even though she pulls the bimbo rope-a-dope perfectly). Unfortunately the final challenge favored the modern super cars.

And Pawn Stars is absolutely fascinating... kind of an "Antiques Roadshow" meets "Let's Make A Deal". Needless to say, the cash desperation in the seller puts a lot of power in the pawnshop owner and they take advantage of it. This is not a bad thing, it's what keeps them in business. It's also an interesting take on the "liquidity" (popularity) of an asset. We buy and sell lots of guitars so we have a good take on the market. But we don't see many Antarctic survey markers so that's a tougher sell.

Which brings me to "Top Shot". Like many others, I'm pulling for the "local guy" (in a web sense) Caleb. Quite frankly I'm disappointed. To quote a friend speaking of a different subject "Four hours of material jam packed into three days of classes".

Show opens with The team challenge which is complete by 25 minutes after the hour. Break for 5-7 minutes of commercials. The loser team voting took another 10-12 minutes (yawn), break for another 5-7 minutes of commercials, then another 5-8 practicing with the elimination rifle. Winding up with the actual elimination round... and then a goodbye round (double yawn).

Ok, here's what I wished to see... more details on the weapons. Make me smarter while you're at it! Who used it, when and how? what about the sighting systems & the ammunition? What about the difficulties of a long range shot? What makes it better than the previous weapon? The winner talks about aiming 1 1/2 feet left of the target and missing, then immediately deciding the windage was not enough smokes the second target. Nice, but tell me something about how much the wind affects a shot.

Yea, I'm in for the duration if for no other reason than to pull for Caleb and the other NRA guy, but less than enthusiastic. I give the opening a 6 on a 10 point scale.

05 June 2010

May ePostal Results

Sorry for the delay... I've been trying to get this formatted appropriately for the page.

Anyway, good shooting everyone. Thanks for the entries. I was especially happy to see the tight grouping of scores in the Class 1. Just 10 points cover positions 4 through 8.

The June contest is now up at Random Nuclear Strikes.

Much Better!SailorCurt diagnosed the problem. I owe you an ale!

May 2010 ePostal “Throwing Darts” results

Class 0 – Airgun

no entries

Class 1 – Rimfire Pistol, iron sights

1Ol' Rich in Central VAStock S&W Model 41313
2Engineering JohnsonRuger Single Six213
3 BillllRuger Mk 1206
4Leon (France)Walther P22189
5Justin R.Ruger Single Six1881st Time Shooter
6DannoRuger .22/45183
7PaulaRuger Mk 1182
8TrueBlueSam Ruger Single Six179
9Mrs TBSRuger Single Six156
10Mr. CompletelyJennings J2287
11DannoRuger Single Six61
12Mr. CCBCCRuger Single Six45

Class 2 – Rimfire Pistol, Optic sights

1Mr. CompletelyHigh Standard w/home made 12"barrel
Leupold Scope
2EJRuger Mk III with optics220
3Mariner1460Buckmark Pistol, RedDot scope164
4MerleRuger Mk 2, Tasco rifle scope110

Class 3 – Centerfire pistol, iron sights

1Ol' Rich in Central VAGlock 34 9MM281
2MerleRuger Speed Six213
3MerleEnfield No.2 British Revolver205
5MerleS&W M3913LS176
6MerleCz-82 (9mm Mak)176
7DannoTaurus PT-92149
8Todd L.Colt Series 70 45ACP116

Class 4 – Centerfire pistol, optic sights

1Todd L. 40 Cal. Glock 22 with match barrel and
JPoint sight

Class 5 – Rimfire Rifle, Iron sights

1DannoSchultz & Larsen .22185
2Mariner1460Ruger 10/22148

Class 6 – Rimfire Rifle, Optic sights

1EJSavage Mark II with optics/Wolf match ammo252
2Leon (France)Cz452 Varmint w/optic (25M)219
3Ol' Rich in Central VACustom Build 22LR - Volquartsen Receiver, Tactical Solutions match barrel, Leupold VX-3, 6.5 - 20 x 40mm204

Class 7 – Centerfire Rifle, Iron sights

no entries

Class 8 – Centerfire Rifle, Optic sights

1Ol' Rich in Central VACustom Build AR style Rifle, Remington 6.8mm SPC with Schmidt Bender 5 - 25 X 56 Scope170

Class 9 – other

1Leon (France)Cz452 Varmint w/optic & BiPod (25M)355
2Mr. CCBCCSchultz & Larsen .22, bench183
3Danno .30 carbine, 4x scope @ 25 yds, bench163
4SonOfMariner1460Marlin 15YN, Iron sights, 25 yds, off bench159
5SonOfMariner1460Ruger 10/22, Iron sights, 25 yards off bench133