28 December 2012

Slapped in the face

The Weekly Standard has the story where BO has given payraises to the WH, members of congress and federal workers.  (Via Drudge)

These days wages are down in the private sector and public sector employees are over compensated compared to the private sector, and he gives them a raise.

This is a slap in the face to every private sector worker where raises are non-existent, and some are taking pay cuts because it's better than a lay off.  Just ask Hostess employees where a small group took the entire company down over 8%.  And layoffs are something government employees will never likely face.   BTW, your humble host is included in the "pay cut" portion of the diagram.  I took a voluntary pay cut because company revenues are down and it's better than the Hostess situation.

The normal private sector executive reaction to reduced revenue is to lay people off.  But our CEO prefers to keep people working to get our new products done so we are ahead of the game when the economy turns around.

This pay cut represents the merit increases earned in the last two cycles.  On the other hand, since it effectively comes off  "last dollar" earned in the year, a sizable portion of that would have gone to the .IRS anyway.  That makes it hurt a bit less.

I've been through this with the DayJob a couple times before.  We've covered the revenue shortfall in the past by plant shutdowns which I actually prefer because while the $$$ goes away, I get something back in return - time.  And the pay automatically returns when the revenue returns.  But the downside to my customers is that I'm less available to respond to their issues.  In reality I'm pretty much on call that week anyway.  Fortunately I don't have to be in the office.

Last couple downturns he's done an across the board pay cut.  While it hurts in the short run, it's always been restored, plus a financial thank you on the back end.  This time he made it voluntary.  I volunteered because I have confidence  he'll make it right and then some in the future.

26 December 2012


Santa delivered a particular LED* (Lead Emitting Device) to the SandCastle safe for the benefit of the SandCastle Son.

He joined the youth shotgun program at our local range back in the Fall.  It's a heck of a deal, they provide the coaches, shotguns (youth sized Rem 1100's) and he gets up to 100 clays and shells a month.  All for $60 for the year!  Yes it's heavily subsidized.  If you ever wondered where the funds raised at your local Friends of NRA dinners go to, here is one program that it funds. 

He's picked up my mossy 12 gauge a couple times, but though he's big for his age, it's still to big for him.   The LED Santa delivered is bantam sized that fits him well, possibly on the verge of too small.

The club used to have clay pigeon throwers on the line at the main range.  If you look up our picture on POTG (6th row down, all the way on the right), that was then.  They have since removed the throwers from the main range and built a token operated shotgun only range.  It was probably the right decision for the club as they need extra bench space at the main range and the throwers were under utilized.  OTOH as a user, I liked throwing my own $4 for 90 pigeons on the main range and now it's twenty cents a bird for me.  But hey, it's a nice set up and the convenience is worth the price.

We headed out to the club to check out the new arrival.  I haven't shot a clay in several years so I looked forward to the opportunity.  We stopped in at the admin office and bought a couple tokens with the promise that we (as in the SCSon) would be back to buy more if it wasn't too busy and we were having fun.

Down on the range the RO complimented the SCSon on his stance and asked if I'd coached him.  I 'fessed up and credited the Jr. Program.  We each blasted through each of our 25 birds in short order.  The SCSon offered to go get more tokens.  I agreed on the basic "I buy, you fly" basis.  "flying" in this case means running a couple hundred yards up the hill from the shotgun fields to the admin building.  And back.  So we did a 2nd round. 

Back when the POTG picture was taken, I could reliably hit both doubles, plus the largest piece still flying afterwards.  That was a while ago and I am clearly out of practice.  It will take a while to get the sight picture back.  Today's 50 birds didn't do it.

My shoulder had had enough but the SCSon wasn't done.  So back up the hill for a couple more tokens and another 50 birds!

In the end, here's the break down:
Clay Pigeons:                           $20
Shot shells:                              $39
Quality time with the SCSon:    $priceless! Truly I wouldn't have missed today for the world.  I also wish I'd brought a camera.  Next time!

Priceless!  I hope your post-Christmas went as well!

*  The LED joke makes more sense if your a EE.  (or maybe a CE)

25 December 2012

Merry Christmas

From the SandCastle Crew!

08 December 2012

Christmas Traditions

Every family has their own Christmas traditions.  One of our traditions is that the SandCastle doesn't do Christmas cookies!  We fry up wontons, "Because nothing says Christmas like fried wontons!  It helps if you understand our sideways sense of humor*.

This tradition started several years ago following a disappointing experience at a local Chinese restaurant.  We ordered fried wontons and were served wonton skins with tofu filling.  I explained my disappointment to the SCQueen "I can do better fried wontons that this!" and she decided we should do just that.

An internet search turned up a recipe.  Sorry, I don't recall where it was found or who to credit.  But the nice thing about wontons, is that it's hard to go wrong.  Feel free to adjust to your taste.  The items in bold are the the ones we added and the strikethrough are the ones we deleted.  I learned to fold wontons growing up when mom took some Chinese cooking classes.  Christmas season is a rare break where we can put in the time to do a proper job.
2 pounds ground pork
1 lb ground pork
1 lb finely chopped shrimp
1 lb finely chopped chicken
1 cup sliced water chestnuts, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped bamboo chutes
3 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
2 Tbsp. minced scallions
I hate onions
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. rice wine, sake or rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. sesame seed oil
Suggest olive oil in place of sesame seed oil
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
70 wanton skins
Cooking oil for deep fat frying

Put pork in bowl and chop with a knife to allow for even mixture with other ingredients. Squeeze chopped water chestnuts in a paper towel to remove moisture and then add to pork. Add remaining ingredients except for wanton skins and cooking oil and stir well until completely mixed.

Place about 1 tsp. of the mix in the center of a wanton skin and fold the skin over to make a triangle. Pinch edges of wanton skin together while moistening with just a little water on your fingers. The water helps hold the wanton skin together.

Heat oil to 350 degrees in a wok or a deep fat fryer. Cook wantons only about 3 or 4 at a time to make sure you do not lower the cooking temperature of the oil too much. Maintaining the heat of the cooking oil will keep the wantons from absorbing too much oil. Remove wantons with a slotted spoon or frying strainer when they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels. You can keep the cooked wantons warm in the oven while you cook the remaining wantons.

Serve with sweet and sour sauce, duck sauce, plum sauce and/or hot Chinese mustard. You can substitute ground shrimp or turkey for the pork or even use a combination of all three.

The basics of folding wontons is simple:  Place a dab in the center of a wonton skin.  Fold an opposite corners together creating a triangle with the filling in the center.  Fold the 90deg corner forward and draw the two 45 deg corners back to each other.  Apparently this last step has a lot of nuance that I cannot describe and even demonstrating, the SCQueen has trouble duplicating.  Heh... checking out YouTube, I see several ways to fold them, none of which is what I was taught 40 years ago.  Still check out the videos and find something that works for you.  Once you're eating them, the original shape doesn't matter!

Putting the "fried" into "fried wontons"!
The recipe above made something between 250-300 individual wontons.  Between the SCCrew & the SCSIL, we folded and fried these all in a couple hours after Saturday night dinner.  The actual folding took about 90 minutes.

Theses are great snacks.  They freeze well and a nicely warm up in the microwave.  It only takes a couple minutes to warm up 4-6 plus mix up some Chinese hot mustard.

* I think Robb is on our frequency:
I thought “Dammit. I should have bought some 20,000 lumens tactical light and let her use that.  I gave myself the giggles thinking about someone having a flashlight that lit up the entire cafeteria and gave the kids in the front row 3rd degree burns.
Um Yea... I LOL'd that "mee too" LOL!
Update:  It's true!  Bacon makes everything better!  partway through the run I had the brainstorm to mix in some crumbled bacon bits.   nom nom!

19 November 2012

Note to self...

When you make a special trip out to the range specifically to sight in a rifle, the sight adjustment tool is at least as important as bringing ammunition!

Yea... I blew that one.

06 November 2012

Magic 8 ball

"the future is dim"

The masses have learned they can vote themselves largesse from the treasury.  At the same time they lack a basic understanding of economics.

The end will not be pretty and history suggests we probably won't like what comes out on the other side.

04 October 2012

Fencing update

So the SandCastle Son started fencing a couple months ago and I joined him a month later.  For me, it's great exercise mixed with a nice diversion to distract me from the fact that I am exercising.

The Doc ordered, "keep Fencing!" at the conclusion of a recent annual physical.  "Everything is trending in the right direction."  I'm down 15 lbs and holding but I think that's because fat-mass is being replaced by muscle-mass.

At this point, I am likely more enthusiastic than the SCSon.  Heck I'm more enthusiastic than most in the class.  Most are here because mum & dad signed them up and dropped them off.  To them it's just another afterschool activity like piano or violin lessons.  Only about 10% of the parents stick around to watch and some of those are in the "quiet" room pounding away on a laptop.  OTOH, the health benefits of getting my heart rate up and stressing the cardio system is what I am buying.

We start with 10-15 minutes of jogging, mixed with sidesteps, crossovers, skipping, high skipping, butt kicks, etc.  The SCSon caught up with me during the "sprint the back wall" section and we engaged in an impromptu footrace.  Apparently several others were nearby and joined in so we had a real race of 8-10.  Even given our headstart, a couple passed us.  Still great fun.  Then onto warmups.
Instructor "Joe" nominated me to lead warmups tonight.  I led with my best  RLeeErmy minus the personal attacks.  I announced each exercise and counted out loud enough for everyone in the cavernous gym to hear.  I hope to have set a new standard for others to follow.  (some nominated have very timid voices).

Warmups are followed by "reindeer games".  These are schoolyard games reaching back centuries.   We get caught up in the moment, myself included, but that is it's own problem...  Last week we played "sharks and minnows". I was a shark and a "young'n" minnow lazily jogged past me obviously dismissing me as a threat.   I decided even with my advanced mass, I could overtake said Young'n.  And I did but in the tagging process, said young'n ended up on the ground.   No I did not intend to push him down, I merely wanted to show him this 50YO, 50+lbs overweight OFWG can still get up and move.  They didn't call me "crazy legs" for nothing! The tag was part of the game, nothing personal and no harm done.  I was also the first on the scene to help him up and make sure he was OK but I still felt bad.  Still at my age, playing schoolyard games with kids is a little weird.  Instead now I spend gametime lifting weights in the gym.  I think this is better all around.

Unfortunately the SCSon has come down with a nasty skin rash and we don't know what is causing it.  One possible cause is the fencing jacket or lame'.  He's been to a dermatologist but all they do is attempt to treat the rash.  He has an appointment with an allergist looking for the root cause.

In the meantime we have stopped dressing to fence (jacket + lame).  That means "fencing" has become just an exercise program.  The DayJob(tm) offers a nicely equipped gym which I can use for free.  Also, without the payoff of actually sparring/bouting/swordfighting, the SCSon is losing interest. 

We learned tonight the detergent they use to launder the jackets is indeed something he reacted to before.  Ok, that's a problem easily solved by purchasing a jacket that we can launder our selves. And another one next year because he's grown out of it, and another 6 months later for the same reason.  He's at that age :-(

So we are taking a break from "fencing" until we can actually "fence"!  I expect to get back to it even if it's only me.  The "boot camp" program a friend got me into a couple years ago was about the same price, but this is more fun.  In the meantime, the plan is to workout at the DayJob(tm) gym.

It's the right kind of exercise for me.

30 September 2012

Road Trip!

As previously noted, Saturday was our local FoNRA dinner.

One of the games they play are the bucket raffles.  We had lots of tickets and dropped them in many buckets.  Usually we do reasonably well, but tonight another table claimed most of the prizes.  NBD, this is a fundraiser after all.  And if he bought more chances than we did, so be it.

My one claim from the bucket raffles was a LaserLyte bore sighter + gift cert to a "nearby" steakhouse.  Now we live in the opposite direction so it's a hike.  Still today was a lazy afternoon, perfect for a road trip!

Lunch for the three of us neatly consumed the gift card, plus a few $$ for the tip.  The chef even neatly divided the two lunches over three plates (we share).  I put that into the "over and above" category of service.

Following lunch we made a side trip to a almost-but-not-quite local Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.  It's a bit off the beaten path which explains why we haven't dropped by before.

Apparently this was the very first National monument.   Which means though I'd been carrying all day, I had to disarm to visit the monument. 

We RTB'd via the backroads instead of the interstate.

So a friends of NRA dinner led to an unplanned visit to the first National Monument. Didn't see that coming!

Embarrasment of riches

Optic riches that is....

A very nice Leupold VX2 scope followed me home from GBR VII (I know, I am delinquent with a post with pics).

And as the Smallest Conservative noted, last night was our local Friends of NRA dinner  (He took more pictures than I did).  A Brunton 3.5-10x50 scope and Sightmark reflex optic both found new homes in the SandCastle armory. 

Now to figure out what to slide underneath these three optics.  I think a certain deer rifle currently fitted with a fixed 4x scope will get the Leupold upgrade, and my 10-22 will get an upgrade with the Brunton scope.

The only thing I have with a rails is the Hi-Point Carbine so the Sightmark optic will likely land there for a while.  I guess I'm a little perplexed by the sight.  It includes both a holographic sight and a laser sight.  I can see the need for one or the other but not both at the same time.  I like laser sights as an addition to iron sights, but in addition to a holo-sight?  I don't get it.  (But I'm willing to learn if anyone has a theory).  OTOH, this fits the definition of a "perfect" gift which is something I would like but never buy for myself.

Side note on Hi-Point.  They were *very* generous with nicely, dare I say extravagantly, embroidered hats to GBR VII.  They are embroidered front, back (2x), both sides and the brim.  It was my first choice at the prize table but by the end I had more than I could ever wear.  I took a handful to the NRA dinner to donate as prizes.  I brought home the donation form, but it really should go to Hi-Point!

There may be some handmedown action with the scopes currently on these rifles finding new homes on current iron sighted weapons.

An embarrasment of optic riches....
... is a good thing, particularly with my aging eyes.

11 September 2012


What a weekend!

Friday's range day followed an NRA sponsored breakfast.  was a lot of fun, even if a bit windy.  I traded shots with several other participants including a certain Top Shot season winner and genuinely nice guy.

A favorite was trading shots with fellow 10/.22 shooters. 10/.22 rifles are like snowflakes, no two are alike.  I tried a hammer forged bull-barreled ith iron sights(Alternate title, "there are many like it but this one is mine").  There were others as well, on average probably one on every other bench.
Note to self - next time collect all the 10/.22 owners & rifles for a class pic.

Joe "Boomershoot" Huffman sighted in his Rem 700 in .300 Win Mag and was quickly ringing the steel at all ranges with the help of his phone app.  He then  generously offered the trigger to anyone that wanted to try.  I say "generously" because each round is likely in the $2-3 range.  The rifle also sports a muzzle brake producing a surprisingly felt recoil, no worse than an M1-Garand in .30-06.  Note to self - get a muzzle brake!  (installed)

I made it down for Breakfast Saturday sponsored by GunBroker.com.    These people know us and what we like on the menu.  Well done and little wasted!  But I didn't feel entirely well and opted to take a nap rather than head out for Steel-Challenge.  Thought I'd nap a couple hours then get up and be productive.  Five hours later I woke up.  Well I guess I needed that.  Met back up with the group for dinner and beyond.

Sunday we joined the group for breakfast then headed out to the airport to head home, skipping the Cowboy action shoot.  The flight home again was mostly uneventful.  We had adverse winds and had to dodge several rain shafts but made it back to SandCastle muni before storms closed the route.

I'll have more to add as well as pictures... stay tuned!

06 September 2012

Wheels down @ GBR VII

A stake was hammered in the ground several months back.   Your humble host brushed the issue the costs of attending GBR aside and bellowed "I AM GOING THIS YEAR".  TSM Kevin heard my bellow and the offer of a 3-ish hour trip instead of a 15 hour drive  sounded like a good deal.

We fired up the #1 engine at 10:27 local and shut them down 3:26 later on the ramp at Carson City.  (note flight time is not the same as engine time.  Engine time includes taxi time at each end while flight time if from take off to landing.)

A frequent question following any flight is "So, how was the flight?"
The best answer is "uneventful" and most of the time, flying in the desert SouthWest, "uneventful" is appropriate.  But here at the tail end of thunderstorm season, the forecast for "ISOL -SHRA" to "WDLY SCT -SHRA/-TSRA" (isolated light rain showers to widely scattered light rain showers.-light thunderstorms and rain).  The key words there are "isolated" and "widely scattered".  I read that to mean "I can fly around them".  The plan was to fly up late morning and complete the flight before the afternoon thunderstorms fire off.

So the flight was "eventful" in an expected exercise of constant weather evaluation and plan B re-evaluation.    The plane got a couple light rain washes on the way up, enough to clean the dust but not the bugs.  Perhaps we should call this "safe, within expected paramters".

Dinner was a nice buffet with several people that will soon migrate to the "blogger's I have met" column.  I sense this will be a bad week for the diet.

Range day tomorrow, Wish you were here!

PS..  Thanks to Boomershoot Joe for test driving the QR code on the card.

30 August 2012

Short Week coming...

I've been woefully neglectful here at the SandCastle and  it's not for lack of blogfodder.  Rather blogging is low in the priority scheme and its been starved for cycles.  In other words, life got in the way.  And when I do start a post, it doesn't pass the QC check and by the time I get back to it, it's old news.

Next week is a short week at the DayJob(tm).  Monday is a holiday and Thursday I will be heading up to GBR VII.    Travel and Lodging arrangements are in place.  Hope to see Y'all there!

However I still haven't decided what to bring, nor how to secure it at the hotel.  Some things I'd like to bring  I don't have any ammunition for.  I have the components but temps at the reloading station are still holding near the mod 90's even at this late hour.  That negatively affects the motivation.  Packing is the priority for the long weekend.

01 August 2012

Chick-Fil-A appreciation day

The SandCastle Queen and I tried to lunch at the local Chick-fil-a and failed.  The walk up line was out the door and down the side of the building.  The drive through was backed up at least 25 cars in each direction.  The line started out in the streets.  Unfortunately I had a meeting just after lunch so I couldn't wait in the line.

But the SCQueen went back.  She talked to a gentlemen leaving with two bags.  He waited 45 minutes in line.  An employee said there was a line at the door when they opened and it hasn't let up since.

This is quite a showing of support!

Pics to follow.

30 July 2012

Molon Labe, CPSC

Can you see all 216 magnetic balls in this picture?
Last week I had no reason to purchase the toy known as "Buckyballs".  Today I own this set.

I only decided "I must have these""  explicitly because some unelected bureaucrat says they are too dangerous for the public to own.  (Really? Waaaaay cool, mmmust have!)

Here are the 216 blue balls. You can have my Buckyballs when you pry them from my cold, dead, hands!

Really CPSC, you've really overstepped in it this time.  Heel!  You are out of control!

See also, saveourballs.net

Buckyballs... There are many like it but these 216 are mine!

* The 216 blue balls were purchased at retail cost.  I have not received nor do I expect any compensation from anyone associated with Buckyballs.

26 July 2012

ARRL Extra Class License Manual 10th Ed software *crash*

When was the last time you bought a piece of software and it didn't do the most basic functions it is intended to do?

I've run into bugs but the basic functionality at least is there.  I can't think of any time it wasn't.  Until today. 

You see a sibling unit sent an Amazon gift cert for my recent birthday.  I applied it to purchasing ARRL's "The Extra Class License Manual" (Tenth Edition).  One of the things I like about the ARRL manuals is that it comes with software to "flash card" the exam questions and generate practice tests.  I used it to upgrade to General, and the SCSon used it to pass his Technician exam

I loaded the software and set to take a practice exam to learn where I am today and what I need to study.  But starting the practice test, it gave an error message "questions.xml file is missing" and the program crashes.

The real question is how did this happen in the first place?  Verifying the release candidate does the most basic functions, preferably on a machine that has never had the application installed is pretty close to the top of the release verification checklist.  How could they miss it?

An interweb search did not turn up any other hints.  I don't know how I could be the only one to have this problem, but I do have that reputation ;-)  I seem to encounter problems others don't.

The rest of this post documents a work around for anyone else that runs into the same problem.  No need to read on unless you face the same issue.

Tried unloading and reloading a couple more times, and tried it on a Win7 laptop with the same results.

Searching the disk indeed turned up the questions.xml file in directory "c:/program files/ARRL/extra".  While the questions are in the "extra" directory, the application is one up in "ARRL".  As a guess, I copied questions.xml up to the same directory as the app and now it works.

BTW, my "assessment" test scored 36/50.   Thirty-seven required to pass.
Missed it by that much!

19 July 2012

Video, or it didn't happen!

Crimson Trace Midnight 3-gun.

(Seriously, I can't imagine a more phenomenal event. I mean, 3-gun is fun as all get out. But to do it on a no moon night with all the technology to light up the night, Over the top! Glad they grabbed a couple bloggers to attend.

Now the "failure" seems to be "Ok, how do you show this to the world?". I mean, you've come up with the coolest shooting event ever. Only problem is you can't share it with the anyone.

I have some ideas on how it could possibly done, but video is not a strong suit and I'm not up on the technology. Still it seems the technology that allows the shooter to see the target, could also be used to show the action.

Maybe they just could simplify the situation and incorporate some of Joe H's expertise with reactive targets! Keep 'em small and they won't affect the night vision (much ;-).

Again, video or it didn't happen!
(Wish I were there)

(And if there is video out there, I will happily stand corrected and link to same).  Do tell!

12 July 2012

I hate exercise! (updated)

Instead of "Taking the SCSon to" fencing, I am now "Joining the SCSon at". As previously mentioned, there is a really nice facility in the vicinity.  As I just turned 50 and live and work a pretty sedentary lifestyle*.  Now I really need something to get the heart rate up to stave off the diseases of the second half century of life.

I fenced a bit in college back in the good ole' days of Reagan's first term.  It was great exercise while the mind was focused elsewhere. Makes you walk funny for a couple weeks then the body compensates.   A friend invited me to a "boot camp" class a while back.   It was all about getting the heart rate up for an hour a couple times a week and also provided some accountability.  It got me past the immediate goal, but I didn't stick with it. 

Taking into account my OFWG status, I had to adjust a bit on the conditioning end. I did what I could on the games but I lagged behind the teenies.  No surprise at this stage of life.  Life will be better if I can stick with this.  (IMHO the other path leads to a heart attack this before the roar'in 2020s!)   I do not relish that thought.  I am so motivated!

One thing I liked was the "running" section (and I *hate* running), which was not just "jogging".  Instead they mixed it up with inside and outside crossovers, skipping, high knees and high heels.  Crossovers help with coordination.  High knees and High heels work on flexibility.

Tonight the "over 50 N00B" league was pretty sparse.  And it took a while to find a coat and lame(electrical) jacket I could zip up.  They eventually found something I could squeeze into,  Imagine Cinderella's sisters trying to squeeze into a size 8.  or a 6. I may have to purchase my own garments just to make sure there is something into which I can fit.

An up and comer early 20-something was volunteered to spar with me.  He scored a bunch of touches and I think I scored a couple back.  There was a stop thrust that seriously bent my saber.  NFW he got me first.  IMHO he won the bout in no uncertain terms.  The bout ended prior to regulations with sweat dripping into my eyes (note to self - need a sweat band).  I was ready for a break and he was called for a match on another lane.  I saluted, shook his hand and thanked him for the match.

Sidebar- The hand shake is normally a left handed shake. That's because the hood comes off and is placed under the right arm, still sporting the weapon and glove, In the case of a left handed fencer, it becomes an even more odd, left to right upside down hand shake, But the hand shake is important an acknowledgment that this fight isn't personal. It's just a sport. When it becomes personal, it's time to walk away. But as long as you can shake your opponent's hand and thank them for the bout, life is good.

So the SCSon and I wired up for a bout.  I teased... "Here's your chance for revenge I taunted! "COME AT ME BRO"!(apparently the phrase of rage at the schools round these parts)" Think I've been unfair? here's your chance for payback! But also know, if you leave any opening, I WILL EXPLOIT!

I spanked him roundly as he left himself wide open. He needs to learn defense and attack skills. Only way to improve is via challenge. I scored many and he didn't. In reality I spanked him with my aged experience. Hopefully in the future he should overtake me with youthful sensitivities and quicker reaction times. Oh for the old days where they didn't use masks... could have easily left him with a nice scar or two on the cheeks to remind him.

I paid *US* up for the next month. Now we both have accountability to show up tomorrow when they focus on conditioning.

My goal (written here to make it official) is 3x a week. MWTh is the plan.

* that's a big reason I went to college - so I don't have to rake leaves in the 110+ heat.

09 July 2012

Range report - squib edition

It was hot today, but I hate the feeling of "It's too hot to go outside and do anything".  So I announced I was heading to the range.  The SCQueen opted to come along while the SCSon opted to stay home.   I think she was looking for the excuse to drive her new car ;-)

BTW, the official SandCastle Weather station reports 111.6F today.  I note while our temps significantly top our Illini friends, the humidity makes a huge difference.  While they "only" hit 105, I would venture our 111.6 was more comfortable.  It's a dry heat and it makes a world of difference.  But when the wet air moves in and we have night time lows of 105 with 85% humidity... yea.  Welcome to the Sonoran Desert.

So we shot a bit of this and a bit of that.  I brought out the .44 as I still need the practice.  The first cylinder landed better than expected.  I had a problem with the lead bullets pulling significantly left.  The theory suggested perhaps the bullets were torquing the gun as it engaged the rifling, more so than the brass bullets.

We shot a bit more of this and that  Then I went back to the .44.  The bullets were a little stiff going into the chambers.  I'm thinking, "this needs a good cleaning now".  Pulled the trigger on the first chamber to a "click".  Then I couldn't advance the cylinder and couldn't pop out the cylinder.  Just then they called "one-minute warning".    I fussed with it until the RO came around and 'fessed up.  He suggested a solution for the duration of the cease fire.  We tidied up the cease fire period and vacated afterwards.

Heading out, I'm weighing my options.  A).  get it into the garage where I can get a close look at it.  (I was thinking the problem was the next round was not fully seated into the chamber.  Recall the chambers felt stiff when loading.  B)  Take it to a gunsmith.  Probably only cost a couple bucks.

There is a gunsmith on site so figuring $20 here is cheap compared to what trouble I could get into in the garage on a many-C-note gun, not to mention the unwanted attention should it go "bang" while trying to clear it at home, even if it landed safely into a sand trap.  Suddenly the saw-buck seemed cheap.  We stopped at the 'smith shack.  I'd give'em some linky love as they have a reputation for good work but he muzzled both of us with the loaded firearm.  

He quickly diagnosed the round stuck in the forcing cone as the result of the squib load.  Ok, my bad.  He cleared the squib in about 10 seconds.  And we know exactly who to blame for that (I see him in the mirror every morning.)  The 'smith also wouldn't take any money for clearing the jam.  He also allowed he'd let me point the gun at him.  I declined reasoning two wrongs don't make a right.

Still they have a reputation for accurizing firearms.  I've always meant to talk to them about a trigger job on my 10/.22.  The "6 month delay" has always put me off.  Today he tells me 1 month.  Hmmmm...  "that's doable"

For the record, today marks squib #3 in my reloading history.  First was a 9mm.  Fortunately it jammed the gun and it wouldn't chamber any more rounds.  2nd was a .300 Win Mag.  The bullet did not even leave the brass.  Today was a .44 Magnum.  It didn't make it through the forcing cone and jammed the weapon.   3 failures in ~10000 rounds.  Even though each of these  "failed safe", I am not satisfied with this rate.  Reloading isn't rocket science, but I need to improve my loading procedures.

This .44 run was problematic.  I recall loading and disassembling the batch at least twice.  First time, the powder measure wasn't firmly attached to the head.  fearing uneven powder throws, I pulled the whole batch apart.  Forget the 2nd issue, but pulled the whole batch (and may have earned a greenstick fracture for my efforts).  I thought the third time was a charm.

Still it was a nice afternoon "date" with the SCQueen.  Thanks for coming hon!

PS... I had to look up Ofay as well.

30 June 2012

Somehow this worked out wrong...

I'm going to let you in on a little secret.  Today is my birthday.  The big five-oh.  The SandCastle crew greeted me with cards and a couple presents.  Nothing much, but then I don't need much.  I pretty much have anything I need.

I headed out to the range to get in a little trigger time with the June* ePostal match. The guy on the next bench had a couple toys out, A Judge, and an Uzi.  Someone came up to talk to him about the Uzi.  Through the earplugs I heard "Yep, I only take it out once a year on my birthday".  I set my pistol down and introduced my self.  He confirmed we share a birthday.  Today he is "fifty-ten" years old.  (Retelling this to the SCSon, he said "I don't understand".  I asked "What comes after fifty-nine?")

Meanwhile the SCQueen headed out and bought herself a car!  I might have joined her but I had this root canal to tend to and given the alternative, the root canal was the better choice.

Wait a minute!  How does that work, it's my birthday and SHE gets the car?  That seems badly broken!

In reality, it was past time to replace her car.  It was 10 years old with a lot of miles on it.  The "Check Engine" light had been on with an intermittent fault.  The light no longer showed.  We suspect it burnt out.  Also, The SCSon, now a 'teen meant the old car was a pretty tight fit for the SandCastle Crew.  The SCSon is probably most happy with the new wheels as he has leg room even with the front seats at the aft stops.  She did well and drove a hard bargain.

I showed up with the pinks on her car we were trading in and ready to write the check.  just showing up torqued me off as there was little parking available.  I found a spot, but one of their cars was parked half into the spot.  I said screw that, I drive a crappy old car, I'm parking there anyway (leaving about 2" clearance to the driver's door).  Explaining this to her sales person they immediately reparked my car UNDER SHADE!

An hour+ later they still weren't ready.  I handed over the checkbook and said "I'm outta here".   My plan for the evening included a) dinner with the family(mongolian bbq), b) pee-wee golf with the family (nothing like pee-wee golf after the sun goes down but the temps are still north of the century mark).  Then home to file my comments to the FAA proposal to drop the 3rd class medical requirement for certain operations.

Turns out they still needed a couple siggies which we did after dinner.  Never made pee-wee golf but I did get my comments into the FAA.

So what did your SO get on YOUR birthday?

* This is the closing weekend for the June ePostal match, meanwhile True Blue Sam has posted the July match.  Get out your .22's and look for a hat on the hoof!  It's a TWO-FER weekend if you act quickly!

13 June 2012

ePostal results - reposted...

Thanks all for shooting the May ePostal match. Mr. C aced it with his High
Standard and long barrel. Pat B, a new shooter did very well with his S&W.
Good Shooting! Welcome to the matches Pat, hope to see you in future
results. TBS & I tied points wise in class 8 but he took the place with
2x200 to my 1x200.

Hope everyone had fun. The June match is up at Random Nuclear Strikes.

See you at the range!

Update: Billl reminds me he submitted 4 targets, not just one. My bad, mea
Culpa. Scores updated. Also Class 9 became the "High Point Carbine class".
Update 2:  Post restored.  Thanks to the Capitalist Pig for providing a record of the test portions of the post.

Shooter Distance Make Caliber Score

Class 3 Rim Fire Pistol Iron Sights

Mr. Completely 10 Yds High Standard/ OKO 6 MOA red dot .22 LR 1100 Aced it!

Pat B. 10 Yds S&W 617 .22 LR 900 2x200, 5x100

True Blue Sam 10 Yds Ruger Single Six .22 LR 425

Billll 10 Yds Ruger mk 1 .22 LR 400

Mr. CCBCC 11 Yds Ruger .22/45 .22 LR 100

Class 5 Centerfire Pistol Iron Sights

Billll 10 Yds Rossi .357 .38 +P 400

danno 11 Yds Hi-Power 9mm 200

Pat B. 10 Yds Colt Police Special .38 spl 150

Mr. CCBCC 11 Yds Hi-Power 9mm 50

Class 7 Rim Fire Rifle Iron Sights

True Blue Sam 25 Yds Marlin 39 Century Limited .22 LR 800

True Blue Sam 25 Yds Ithaca 49 .22 LR 500

Class 8 Rim Fire Rifle Magnified Optic Sights

True Blue Sam 25 Yds Browning BLR x4 scope .22 LR 900 2x200, 5x100 Tie broken by # of high scoring hits.

danno 25 Yds Ruger 10/.22 4-12x scope .22 LR 900 1x200, 7x100 Aguila eley

Billll 25 Yds Remington Nylon 66, 7x scope .22 LR 600

Mrs. True Blue Sam 25 Yds Browning BLR x4 scope .22 LR

Class 9 Hi Point Carbine

True Blue Sam 25 Yds Hi-Point carbine .45 auto 900

Billll 25 Yds Hi-Point carbine, 4x scope .45 auto 400

danno 50 Yds Hi-Point carbine 9mm 200

12 June 2012

I hate exercise!

Exercising for the sake of exercise hurts.  It's no fun.  I blame a lot of this on grade school PE classes which had us running on wet fields in the Indian Summer as school started.  The humidity (90%+) multiplied the heat (100-ish) and it was really unbearable.  Today it would be considered child abuse.

I always preferred forms of exercise that had an alternate goal.  Growing up my bicycle took me everywhere.  After High School, there was college.  The local community college offered fencing. 

Sword fighting.  I liked the idea of that.  What 18 YO D&D player could possibly think otherwise?  Turns out it's also incredible exercise.  Partially because the mind is focused on the battle and tells the body to do what is needed to attack/defend.  The only pain felt in the moment is your opponent's touch on you.  The effects on the body are only made aware afterwards.  (As in we'll see if the SCSon can walk tomorrow.  He feels ok tonight.  But will he be ambulatory tomorrow;-)

It's a little odd in that the lunge makes one leg stronger than the other and that makes you walk with a weak-side lean for a couple weeks.  About three weeks later the body compensates and it feels normal again.

The SandCastle Son found my old foil in the garage and started asking questions.  A google search later turned up a local club.  A visit reveals a phenomenal facility.  In my day we only talked about electronic scoring systems as something you might see at tournaments, never at the local level.  Here they get all electrical for friendly sparring.  The facility has 12 lanes, eight of which are  scoring equipped.  This was inconceivable 30 years ago.
Here are the 8 electrically scored lanes.  There are four more un-scored lanes around to the right.

One thing that surprised me was a somewhat lackadaisical attitude towards eye protection.  In my day the rule was never raise a foil unless your intended had a mask on.  This class had a full 30 minutes exercises with sabers up and no eye protection anywhere.  I talked to the instructor afterwards and asked "mind if he wears safety glasses for that part?"  I don't care if everyone else is OK with the status quo.  We each only have one pair of eyes and a careless accident can forfeit one in a heartbeat. 

Now I need to get myself involved as well...  A friend got me into "boot camp" class with a local personal trainer a while back. I was in pain the entire duration of the class plus about 6 weeks after I quit.  (nothing against the personal trainer.  I recommend her and will happily pass along contact info it if that's what works for you and are local).  It solved my immediate problem but I couldn't stick with it.  Fencing may be my ticket to better health.

11 June 2012


I accidentally deleted the May ePostal results.  Will republish tomorrow when I am in a better state of mind and not making stupid errors.


07 June 2012

Ron Gould for Congress

I wish I could vote for this guy. He's running in AZ4 which is the West side of Phoenix.

Ron is responsible for getting a lot of Arizona's gun laws passed in recent years. (nice shot on the bill BTW)

05 June 2012

Venus Transit

Venus is the dark spot in the upper right quadrant.

The camera is a Sony DSC-H9. It does a lot of things well. However one limitation is that I cannot manually set the focus. In a shot like this, I just want it set to infinity and leave it. I took several shots some of which came out this sharp others definitely less. Suspect the autofocus is to blame.

Trying some of the manual settings. This one is a little better:

See you in 105 years for the next transit!

Update: I considered the top photo over exposed and much preferred the later and considered replacing one with the other. But in the interest of "naa, it's already published" I left it. A co-worker today vehemently disagreed. "The TOP photo IS WHAT I SAW!" (I ordered in eclipse glasses for the SandCaslte personal use at the prior event and sold off the surplus at cost. There were plenty floating around the plant for this event.) BTW, both images were made at the maximum zoom of the camera (x15). The top image is smaller due to the cropping of the image where I kept the glare from the brighter image.

My co-worker is correct - the top image is what we saw looking through the eclipse glasses. I like the lower better as it's not as over exposed.

01 June 2012

ePostal two-fer weekend!

Phil at Random Nuclear strikes invites us to shoot some pool. In the meantime the May match remains open through the weekend. So take both targets to the range and make it a two-fer!

"Mille Bornes" targets are due 12:01am Tueday.

29 May 2012

ePostal match closing weekend.

May ePostal entries are trickling in.  Thursday is the last day of the month but I'll hold it open through the 1st weekend in June.  So you still have one more weekend to get out and shoot. 

Hopefully the June match will be up before then to make it a two-fer weekend.  Shoot both targets in the same shooting session.

23 May 2012


The SandCastle Son and your humble host spent the evening training to join the SkyWarn network.  We have our SkyWarn member ID numbers and in theory know the difference between a bonafide tornado and the usual imposters.  More important, we learned what phenomena they are interested in, and how to report.

Tornadoes are pretty rare in these parts, but we do get plenty of weather phenomena worthy of note: Severe thunderstorms, flash floods, hail, heavy rain, sustained dust storms, etc.

The SandCastle is only a couple miles from our local towered municipal airport where the controllers are certified weather observers.  However the class D airspace disappears at 9PM local, and there is much exciting weather after they shutter the tower and the airspace reverts to class G.

Also the SCSon seems to have a school requirement for "community service"  (Is mandatory volunteerism actually voluntary?)  This may check the box and in a far more interesting way then the ones they propose. 

One of the questions on the registration form was "Do you have a rain gauge?"  I answered "Not Yet".  IOW I'm willing to shell out some shekels to set one up to satisfy my inner WX geek and by extension through the SkyWarn network, the public good.  I first have to coordinate with the HOA CCR's, but I don't recall any restrictions (OTOH, the general attitude of the CCRs is "everything is banned unless specifically allowed...").  Ideally we'd have the sensors mounted well above the roof to avoid surface anomalies.

In the meantime, I'm open to weather station recommendations?  I'm be interested in something I can connect to the computer and post current conditions and graphs of past weather reports, maybe add some "current conditions" widget here to the webpage.  Amazon offers some solutions starting in the low C-note range.  Scientific Instruments has some in the 2-3x C-note range but it's not clear if that connects to the computer (since they don't mention it does, I assume it doesn't).

The other problem is the physical weather conditions we experience here in the Sonoran Desert and how well the hardware will withstand the conditions.  Some of the comments suggest the hardware will not survive the local climate.  The plastic parts just can't take the heat.

There are hard metal solutions that will survive the heat but these tend to be North of a kilo-buck and thus out of the budget.

Ideas?  I'm open.

Update:  I just ordered one of these.  The price is in budget and does a whole lot more than I had in mind.  Dad has had an older version of this for several years and he gave it a thumbs up.  Now he lives in Northern CA, a climate a little more benign than the Sonoran Desert.  We'll see how long it lasts.  But Oregon Scientific is a respected name and they've been around as long as I can remember.  Will advise on the longevity.

20 May 2012

Eclipse Photos

We tried to watch the eclipse with the East Valley Astronomy Club but the parking situation was impossible and there didn't seem to be any advantage to seeing it there.  Instead we headed back to the SandCastle where we had all the comforts of home.

Thanks to Cap'n Bob & the Damsel for the heads up on the event.  That gave me time to get our Eclipse Glasses ordered.  I only needed three but the minimum order was 25.  I figured I'd be able to sell off the other 22 as the date got closer.

The glasses may also be useful for the transit of Venus June 5th in the US.

BTW, Be sure and Check Cap'n Bob's blog.  They went to Page, AZ which was directly on the line.


The SandCastle Crew

19 May 2012

Sooooo true

Every now and then I come across something and think "Gee, I wish I'd written that."  This was the third time

Just to be clear, I did not create this.  I wish I knew who to credit for the work. 
If I had created this, Cel 5 would feature an SR-71, but that's just me.  I can see the P-51 attraction.

If there is one quibble with it, it's Cel 4 and it largely depends on who does the work.  In my experience there is little relationship between the quality of the work and price charged.  I have seen all four quadrants:  High quality, Low cost;  Low Quality, High Cost; and the inverses of each.  The "low quality" half is too expensive no matter the dollar amount.  I just want the quality and will pay the price whatever is asked.  Fortunately the guy I'm working with now is in the High quality/low cost corner.

And the Champ in the last cel is classic.  If you haven't flown one, you owe it to yourself.  Go get an hour instruction today.  It will be money well spent.  Great airplanes.  The only down side to the one we had were the straight pipes off the engine (no mufflers and fatigue-ing-ly loud).  That and heel brakes (WTF were they thinking?)

H/T to On a Wing and a Whim which you will now find linked to the left under "Daily Reads".

15 May 2012

Weapons grade stupidity


Story in the local fishwrap.  Two guys been drinking and figure that was a good time to get some range time in.  One ends up dead.

The victim's wife and son knew who he was out with. How could he possibly think he'd get away with it? 

"I was shooting and he walked in front of me"?  That sounds pretty fishy. 

09 May 2012

Things I'm thankful for...

... people that care enough to let me know when I have a light out on my car.

As a pilot, we are taught to do a preflight check of the vehicle.  Checking anti collision, position and landing lights are a big part of the preflight check.  Now most flights take place in conditions where these checks are 99% meaningless.  The lights are simply not bright enough to be effective during day VFR conditions. Making them bright enough to be effective would require spotlights and simply not practically effective.

Drivers are not drilled to the same extent.  We had a rainstorm today and had to meet someone at the airport.  I pulled up behind a van and noticed a difference between the L & R headlight reflections.  I wrote it off as a bad angle on the R light.

Fast forward a couple hours.  Friend surprised me with a call 2 mins after we'd said good bye.  Friend tells me the right headlight is dead.  Now the weather today sucks and it could be a simple short.  But it could also be a blown bulb.  I am 100% thankful for the call.  I would rather know there is a light out than learn about it from a pair of flashing lights in the rear view.

In the same vein, anytime I notice a similar problem, I will offer up the same alert in a friendly way.  ("Wouldn't want to give officer friendly any excuse....")

Anytime you notice a friend with a brake or position light out, let them know.  They may not be especially thankful, but they should be!

01 May 2012

Drilled it!

I just sent JimmyB my April ePostal entries.  This was on a target that didn't make the cut.  I would have had trouble getting a hole that centered at point blank range. Unfortunately this was one of the few hits on the center target so it's no testament to my skill.

I got lucky.

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.