15 November 2017

Yesterday was NOT a good day

The SCSon was driving my "fun" car home from school.  Apparently traffic suddenly stopped and he didn't.  He's OK, no broken bones but probably a bruise in the shape of a the seatbelt. 

Also the airbag went off which is some what of a surprise.  The car is 26 years old and more than enough miles to drive to themoon (>255k).  Mazda runs the connections to the controls on the steering wheel through what they call a "clock spring connector".  They are notorious for failing in this model and sure enough the other functions that go through the connector had all failed.

The radiator is bent which probably means the front cross member is bent.  It's probably terminal.  And only insured for medical & liability.  No collision coverage.

27 October 2017

Today was a good day!

I have vacation time to burn, so I took the day off.  The SCSon went to school and I slept in ;-)   Then SCSon and I first did lunch at The Monastery, then visited the Copperstate Fly In

The Monastery was always a fun place to visit in my younger days because you could buy a raw burger and cook it yourself and save a few $$$.  Remember your college days.  Here we are.

Apparently this is not so much a thing these days.  They had to fire up the grill for us but it worked out. 

Copperstate is but a shell of it's former self..  Past years featured an airshow, now it's ground only.

Stay tuned for pictures!

11 October 2017

The Warrior

The Las Vegas attack evoked a bit of deja vu in me. 

Way back in the 70's there was a movie "RollerBall" starring James Caan.  The intro "Toccata and Fugue in D-minor" theme music really inspired me, not to mention James Caan and John Houseman's performance...  And the F1 style themes (Gladiators to battle)

Rollerball (the movie) was inspired by a short story by William Harrison  titled "Rollerball Murder (1973)".

Not sure of the behind the scenes moves but after Rollerball came out, a set of William Harrison's short stories were published under the Rollerball title.  The  first of which is a short story titled "The Warrior (1971)".   Harrison tells the story in an odd way - the reader is included in the story, as if you/me the reader is present with our host.  That makes it 2nd person?  Anyway.  tl;dr version our host is a hardened mercenary of many battles and feels the need to school the free spirits at the film festival on the beach that the world is a terrible place.  By shooting up the festival in a fairly graphic manor.

And he even observes at first I won't even have to worry about them running because they won't believe their eyes! IIRC some at first thought the bullet reports were just fireworks.

And includes a detailed plan to escaping the scene to live fight another day by setting off diversionary explosions.  Hmmm could that be what the 50lbs of Tannerite was slated for?

I have read stuff that falls into a category of "Dang, I wish I'd written that".  Not often but it happens. This falls into the penultimate "I never could have conceived of this in a million years".  Same same for the LV killer.

I have no idea whatsoever if any of this applies to the LV killer.  There has been no information of any military service for the LV Killer, but there are parallels.  Just relatin' stuff I've read.


Sorry for the delay, it's taken some time to find my copy and reread the story... It's been at least 30 years.  BTW, my copy was almost certainly obtained at the local SVDP for a dime.

07 October 2017

I didn't want one...

... until they said I shouldn't have one!

I've never shopped for a bump fire stock, but now that the public is enraged, and congress thus empowered, I feel the need to buy one.

OTOH, SaysUncle posts a couple videos showing how easy it is to do with common household items.  Particularly this one using a rubber band.  Heck the early videos demonstrated bump fire with a finger and a belt loop and I understand someone filed a shoelace with the ATF just to mock the system!

So why bother with a $40-200 slide stock when a 5 cent rubber band does the same thing?  Ban away!  But I predict any such language by congress will either a)  ban entirely innocent but otherwise useful items (like rubber bands), or b) takes a blanket approach banning innocuous legal items.  But I'm also confident they see this a feature rather than a bug :-(.

Don't get me wrong!  Full Auto Rock & Roll is hella fun.  Through the good graces of others (for whom I am eternally grateful and offer only kind words!)  have allowed a few shots via legal a) 9mm M-16, b) .45 Chicago Typewriter, and  c),for the SCSon a belt through an MG-42!.

I don't full auto for the most part because I see automatic fire as a waste.  I prefer accurate, aimed shots.  Outside a few specific situations that don't apply to me, random automatic fire seems to me is a rule 4 violation "Be sure of your target and what is beyond".  Automatic fire causes muzzle wander spoiling any accurate shots.  I understand from others with military training there are a few very specific scenarios where full auto "volume of fire" is useful.  Again, not my bailiwick.

I'm also not a "bump fire" fan because normal AR-15's are not engineered to deal with the heat dissipation requirements of full auto fire.  If you recall the old series "Tool Time" this is the same problem "Tim-the-tool-man-Taylor" didn't understand.  You can't just slap on a turbo charger for MORE POWER without dealing with the extra waste heat.  It works a little while then just goes jam-o-matic!   I trust M-4's are properly engineered for sustained full-auto fire.

So I'm tempted to acquire a bump stock, solely because they want to ban them!

OTOH, if they'd take bump stocks in return for something useful like concealed carry reciprocity (like my drivers and marriage license) and easier access to suppressors (which should be considered "good manners"), lets make a deal!

16 September 2017

2 family shooting day

A close family friend's mom is interested in learning more about guns & shooting and related same at a recent holiday party.  We had previously taken Dad & Son to the range & Dad had shot in the USAF.  But Mom had zero experience.

We met around the kitchen table and started with "this" is a cartridge and it consists of 4 parts (Demonstrated hands on with a projectile & brass, but no primer or powder).  Over the next hour we talked about the four rules of gun safety,  calibers, single/double action, safeties etc.

Then we took her to the range.

Their son is a big time airsoft guy, most often with his AR-15. But this was his first experience firing live rounds!
I can't show the smiles because I don't have permission to show faces.  But I also think most of you get the picture!

I'll even put an unpaid plug for the range.  We shot today at C2 Tactical in Tempe AZ.  The rule is "three people on a lane" and I get that.  The range is a cramped space, it's not fair to others and [other valid undocumented concerns].  I paid for 2 guests but they allowed us to tag team people on and off the range thus we were able to get Special Guest Mom, Dad & Son + SCSon all a little trigger time.  They seemed to have two range officers on duty but they weren't overbearing.

And I'd like to thank the guy on the next lane over shooting a Glock.  I had explained the Glock safety to Mom, but he had one and I asked him to show her the safety.  HE HANDED ME THE GUN to let me show her the safety on the range.  Thank you!  Seeing is believing!  Now she doesn't have to rely on my words, she's seen the safety in real life and better understands how it works.

Closing word is Mom was OK with the .22 but didn't like the 9mm's  And she didn't really like the semi autos ejecting the brass.  The lanes have hard sides so much ejected brass bounces back onto the shooter.   Fortunately it occurred to me to warn her against wearing anything low cut ahead of time (and she didn't), but it was still enough to be a distraction to her.  I think she'd be happier with a revolver.  Unfortunately most of the SandCastle Arsenal is semi auto :-(

Unfortunately while there are caliber steps between .22 and 9mm (.22 mag, .25, .32 and probably others), the SandCastle Arsenal doesn't have any examples, and filling such holes in is pretty low on the priority list.

I hope mom continues.  I pointed out the range has Ladies Day (Mondays 2pm to close with free range time).  I hope she'll invest the time in Ladies Pistol 100 class.  I expect it would cover most of the same stuff we did at the kitchen table but at greater depth and get her more shooting time.

Hey and I got to shoot a couple rounds too (about 5)!  Bonus for me!

(Photos credit SandCastle Queen, copyright 2017 And BTW, the first shot is not photoshopped.  She actually caught the fire out the muzzle.  Nicely done!)

08 September 2017

Albatross ejected!

SandCastle proper picked up stakes and moved a while back...  It took a year but we finally vacated the old bones and moved on.  Today we closed on selling the old property after a year of double utilities + and worries about squatters moving into the vacant property.

We also found ourselves in the uncomfortable position of July 3rd (Monday where Tuesday is a holiday) and no insurance on the property!  Even though we are local and visit the property daily, it was hard to procure coverage.   Now that worry is gone, and double utilities payments are gone!  We are FREE!

This was all part of the plan, except the plan called for a 6 month switchover instead of the 1 year +.  In reality,  The SCQueen was on top of the move and if there was a "long pole" it was me...

Bottom line, WOO HOO!  The old property has been sold!

03 September 2017

I have SadZ...

The Dan of Steel is down to one, Walter Becker of Steely Dan has died.

I don't often get emotional when $ENTERTAINER shuffles the mortal coil.  But a few have earned deep respect and the duo of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen comprising the heart of Steely Dan really have.    I'll put them up with Queen & Styx o were classically trained and wouldn't put up with anything less than perfection from their hired musicians.

I might speculate on how "difficult" they were to work with(I wasn't there) but one cannot question the product!  They produced the sound at the end of the process is unrivaled!  

I'll log their melodies and bass lines with the mathematic precision of Mozart.   Though, IIRC some recordings of "Reelin' in the years" there is a pause before the 3rd guitar stroke of an eighth maybe a quarter beat late.   And it's absolute genius!

GodSpeed  WB... And thank you for the discography you have left behind,  We are all better for it!


21 August 2017

Eclipse Max -- My View

Obscured by clouds.  Rats!  Hope yours was a better view.

08 July 2017

Father Son electronics projects

Set the scene... the SCSon is now 18 and is a HS graduate.  Now he's on a crash course learning to fly before starting up at ASU (Mega-apologies for the unavoidable pun).  The heavy flight schedule requires his presence at the airport at OMG-O'clock.

He's been using my "alternate" car, a 1991 Miata with enough mile to drive to the moon.  It also means some OEM systems are now INOP.   Like HVAC.  Personally I blame him.  I think his size 13's kicked the connector at the blower in the pax footwell.  But even in the blast furnace that Phoenix is this time of year, it beats the alternative.

But you know what is intolerable?  No Radio!

He returned home a few days saying the radio won't even power up.  So we started some basic debugging...  found the radio I bought 18 months ago when I thought something had died in this radio.  No change.  So that's not the problem.

The manual tells of an interior fuse box outboard of the driver's left thigh.  I relate same to the SCSon (It's far easier for him to self-contort to view these out of the way places than Official Senior Citizen me).  He looked and announced "Nope, not there - just a bunch of connectors".   I asked for a flashlight and assumed the position.  Imagine standing on your head chugging a beer while rubbing your belly.  And located the fuse box.  

His quick survey of the box identified a blown fuse.  

Upon replacement with the 18 month old "new" radio, it worked -- for about one second before **BLAM** and silence.  While the radio is ~18 months old, this is the first time power has been applied.  So I we have a new answer to the question asked 18 months ago "But do you know what you do not get in a $15 car stereo?"  The answer then was "AM radio".  Tonight we can add "quality capacitors!".  That flowery looking component is a blown up electrolytic cap.  The SCSon tells me it was really loud when it blew!  

We'd have to dig deep into the circuit to figure out if this is a boost circuit to power a VFD display or a buck to drop car voltage down to 3-5V for the receiver/power amp.  OTOH, I can replace the entire unit for $10 in the current frys ad.  so any further analysis would be purely academic.

In the meantime, we re-verified only expected 11.5-14v present at the powerlines and re-installing the previous radio works as expected.  Clearly the power supply problem is a radio problem, not an installation problem.

31 May 2017

A huge milestone

Congratulations to the SandCastle Son on his High School graduation!  (pics will have to wait on technology)

His local HS rented out ASU's arena for the event.  Vehicle traffic getting into the event was horrific.    With nearly 900 students walking plus probably ~5 well wishers each means around 5000 attendees.  We finally found 4 seats together way up in the nosebleeds.

And we believe this is the moment we all waited for.  Sorry for the blurry pics, it's the best an 8x optical zoom can do, combined with less than rock solid base and atmospheric distortion given our distance from the stage.  I really should have brought the spotting scope!.

Pedestrian traffic exiting the venue was equally ugly.  But we skipped taking pictures on the South Lawn and made for the truck to beat traffic.  And it wasn't bad.

We had reservations at a local restaurant with three surviving grandparents + special guest Gmma, Local Aunt and mom & dad,  SCSon noted an acquaintance walking through and shook hands..  turns out it was his JROTC opposite at another school.  I really wish I'd gotten a picture.

Selection criteria for the restaurant was "easy access" and "wide menu selection".  Scored on both accounts.  Three of us chose the Fish & Chips, Mom had the Cubano, one GPA had the Filet while the other had the lamb.  Special Guest Gma opted for the french dip.  She didn't even leave any juice behind!  While a little loud, and the service was a bit on the slow side dinner was a success.  The SCSon picked out an apple pie and ice cream for dessert at home.

Congratulations to the SCSon!  You earned it.  But the real test starts in August!  I hope you're smart enough to ask for help when you need it,

18 May 2017

"There are no guns on campus"...

... Said the woman with a Glock on her hip (right next to her "only-one" badge).  Without a hint of irony, I kid you not.

Spent the day at new student orientation for the SCSon's new university.

SCSon had the choice of a standard ID card or a "Sponsoring bank" access card.  They aggressively pushed bank card.  "He doesn't need a credit card" I stated authoritatively.  "But it's not a credit card.  It's a DEBIT CARD!!!" She gushed.

"That's even worse!"  The message was clearly received and we bypassed the serpentine line to sign up with "Sponsoring Bank".

The schedule claimed it would start at 8 am but didn't actually get underway until 0845.    Where they jam packed 30 minutes of material into 7 mind numbing hours.  Plus a lunch I wouldn't pay three dollars for if I had a choice.  Oh and they charged $75/person for the privilege of attending.  And it cost me a vacation day to attend.  SCQueen begged off at lunch... I texted soon after "Pleeease!  Maaake it Stooop!"

A parent asked the glock carrying only one "What about defensive weapons like (sic) Mace".  "Well we wouldn't want anyone to carry anything like* what the police carry.  And besides unless they have it out in their hand when attacked, they won't have time to get it out.  And besides, the attacker will probably just take it away and use it against you."  I wish I was playing Cliche-Bingo!

It was a painful day, but I was there for the SCSon.  And I'd do it again tomorrow if I had to.

At least the SCSon has his fall quarter tentatively set.  He still wants to get signed up for AFROTC too.

PS..  School intentionally left unnamed out of security concerns for the SCSon, not to protect the school.

* Message received: She believes police should always have superior weapons to the unwashed, preferably unarmed, masses.

09 May 2017

Well that bites :-(

Bearing Arms has long been one of the first blogs I check everyday.  I will miss Bob Owens daily commentary.  I will also congratulate him on leaving the property in good hands of Jenn and Beth.  I believe it's in good hands and will continue the daily visits.

Godspeed Bob!  You are already missed.


02 February 2017

Cord -> Cut!

The SandCastle has cut the cord!  We dumped satellite and now cable too.  We still have internet and now our video entertainment comes via that pipe.

Short version:
I'm on a 7 day free trial on both SlingTV($25 Gold/month)  and Sony Playstation Vue (29/month).  The channel lineups are similar but Vue has Discovery but not History.  Sling has the reverse.  Unfortunately History has devolved into a lot of stuff that isn't history:-(  I think Vue will be the keeper.  Discovery is not a Sling TV option.  Both offer FS1 & FS2 so I'll be able to watch F1 racing through the year as well as Daytona 24 hours last weekend and hopefully America's Cup as it comes.  I just wish someone would pick up Reno Air Racing!

I watch via  Roku Express ($29 @ wally world)

tl;dr version:
We switched from Satellite to Cable with the SandCastle move.  We were tired of playing pricing games with Sat TV and mediocre DSL service with ever increasing rates.  Local Cable had just installed Gigabit internet to the neighborhood.  They promised us 1000Mb/sec service along with price savings and a 3 year rate lock with zero installation costs.  Not that we need the bandwidth but it's fun!

I ran a few internet speed tests which rang in around ~960MB/sec.  Not quite the GB promised, but pretty close.  But the savings never materialized.  The monthly bill was within a few $$$ of the satellite bill. The channel selection seemed... deficient.  Turns out the 3 year rate lock was also a lie.  Within just a few months the bill went up.  Checking the "contract" as the old saying goes "what the big print giveth, the small print taketh away!"  This could not be more true when dealing with local cable co.  The SCQueen went to the local outlet to call them on their rate lock promise.  They countered something to the effect of "the rates are locked, the fees are not and we just added new ones".  She ended up telling them to get stuffed.  They cut the line hard - the SCSon's phone call dropped mid syllable.  TV & internet dropped too.  They told her to collect all the boxes and bring them back to the store RSN*.

So we collected all the boxes** & remotes.  The SCQueen was out front of the local outlet before opening Monday AM - along with half-dozen others also revolted by the broken "Rate Locked" promise.  By the time she finished turning in the hardware the line had grown to a couple dozen.  That's a lot of unhappy ex-customers!

Such revolts are surely baked into their rate structures.  I wonder if that includes the money they lost bringing us on as a customer.  Recall above the deal we had they covered installation costs.  It took them 2 or 3 service trips to get the installation right.  They had to trench to bring fiber from the street to the house plus 2-3 service visits get the signal into the house.  I'd guess they spent a couple thou on installation.  I doubt they made it back in the few months we were customers.  Too bad they threw it all away over a rate hike.  Had they kept their promise we'd probably have stuck with them till death do us part!  Local cable take note - your violation of the 3 year rate lock pledge cost you a 30+ year customer!  I suspect by the time a new potential customer moves into the SandCastle, current Gigabit technology will be obsoleted by subspace communications at least mega-gigabit if not giga-gigatbit rates!  Thanks for wasting your money,  I see your business practices and I won't be investing in you anytime soon.  Your short-term-view/long-time-view is a losing model.

* - Real Soon Now
** - but not before logging into the access point and changing the name from "SandCastle HQ" to "Local Cable Co Lies ALot!" (Not the actual names but you get the idea).  Also, I'm sure they will hard reset the modem before passing along to a new customer....  But just in case they don't  mu-hah-hah@!!!!

FTC disclaimer - None of the services mentioned have provided anything for this post.  AFAIK Free trials noted as such as available to anyone. Other services were paid at retail.  freely.  I get no $$ from referals and there aren't any links to refer to anyway..  These are my opinions stop period end.