24 December 2019

Merry Christmas Eve...

At least that's how it's supposed to be.  Today the SCQueen decided she needed a few items to complete Christmas dinner preps..  Half an hour later the phone rings. 

It's the SCQueen: "The electronic payment systems are down.  So are the ATMs .  (question unasked: "can you bring me cash?)"

Here's the local story.

"How much are we talking about?"  "Under twenty bucks."  "Be right there!"

I'm not a fan of using "e-pay" for minor purchases.   It's just too much trouble to reconcile the bill at the end of the month IMHO.

Sidebar: Once The SCSon and I visited a local corner store to buy sodas.  Showing up at the cashier I realized I had no cash to pay the bill (less than $2).  And the cashier advised e-payment was not available.  I told him I'd be back with cash.  He was genuinely surprised when I was back within the hour to pay up!  In this case, good on the proprietor to not sweat a $2 purchase over a $.05 cost.

I've used credit in emergency situations but in general, I really want to pay for small stuff in cash.  I also don't carry lots of cash, just "lunch money"

Fortunately the SCQueen met me in the driveway and I didn't actually have to park in the Godforsaken parking lot design. As I passed off the Jackson, she said "It's getting ugly in there!"

Merry Christmas, Y'all!

18 November 2019

Ford v. Ferrari

On the scale of "things I'd rather not subject myself to" goes kinda like this:
  1. Getting sent to Jail/Prison
  2. Taking an airline flight
  3. Seeing to a movie in a theater.
  4. Thanksgiving with (some) inlaws.
Between the high gate price ($9 matinee), and absurd concessions ($6 soda) and insufferable premiers (25 minutes),  I cannot recall my last visit to the theater prior to today.  It was probably a Thunderbirds matinee with the SCSon when he was maybe 5.  I seem to recall between tickets and a shared soda there was precious little left of my $20 bill.   Today I'll add, don't even think about interacting with a live body, or paying cash for anything!  It's all done on kiosks via credit cards.  Thanks $15/hr minimum wage!

Ok, the movie is a retelling of a historic event, like Titanic and Apollo 13.  We know how the story ends before entering the theater.  I love motor racing, and in my book road racing is only 2nd to air racing, an Le Mans is the pinnacle of the sport.  But this story predates my interest so it was mostly new to me.  And I guarantee the SCSon knew nothing about it that wasn't in the previews.

*spoiler alert *

Like Apollo 13, they likely had to condense some of the drama.  I understand the bit about the overheating brakes was a bonifide issue and is in fact the reason they failed in their first attempts at the race.  I'm curious about the Carroll Shelby betting his company on his driver.  Did that really happen?

* end spoiler *

Ford v. Ferrari seemed a story worthy of putting up with the "theater experience".  Between the really nice seats (Recliners) and no sticky floors.  Perhaps the revamped venue is worth the $9 *MATINEE* price.  But there is no justification to a $6 soda!  We didn't buy popcorn, but I vaguely recall noting a tub cost $8!

Really theater owners?  You might as well be telling me " you can come, but it's gonna cost ya! And you have to do it my way (no cash!)"  Let me be blunt: The product you're selling just isn't worth it.  I give you Exhibit A (Charlie's Angels).
Sayonara! A single ticket + soda costs more than the DVD on release day 1.   I can't imagine what story would ever entice me to return!

I will also add,  it appears part of the movie was shot on closed runways @ LAX.  As a pilot, I have a strong belief that *airports* are for *airplanes*.   They are specifically not places to be closed off as movie sets or makeshift racetracks! (but kudos to the producers to understanding the lighted X's to close the runway)  And IANAL but my understanding is FAA grants require same-same.   Could also be CGI...  If so, good on ya.  Ya done good!

11 November 2019

Don Jr book signing

Donald Trump Jr. was nearby to sign his book at a local costco.  The SCQueen & a sister escorted the SCMIL (mother in law) to get a signed book.  It's fall here in the desert but temps are still on the upper side of the 80's and that sun is brutal as ever.

The SandCastle Queen reports the line was extremely deferential to the SCMIL and kept pushing her forward in the line to keep her out of the sun.   At one point the SCQueen told her mom, stand here and I'll go get our chairs.  Another person in line wouldn't hear of it and said "No, you will sit here (his chair)" while you wait!

In short order Costco employees noticed the white hair and escorted her inside to wait in the AC.  The SCQueen waited outside and offered to take charge of the other guy's chairs while he went through the line to get a book.  He said "eh, they're only $20 chairs.  If they are not here when we emerge, no big deal"

He was surprised to find the SCQueen with his chairs!

They met a lot of good people in the line!  And good on all those that took care to see a 90+YO didn't spend too much time in the sun.  And the SCMIL got a signed book ;-)

03 November 2019

Last shot of the day

Yea... an out of battery discharge.

I knew sumthin wasn't right upon firing the shot.  Clearly the forward half of the case was supported by the chamber while the aft half wasn't.   Probably lucky for me, it blew down where I only suffered superficial wounds,  Even if it had gone up instead of down, I wore full Z87 rated safety glasses. so I'd probably mostly be ok..

The rifle is a 9mm AR-15 carbine, because I received a Midway USA offer on a 9mm upper I could not refuse (Thanks Larry!).

I'm frankly surprised it would send the firing pin forward this far out of battery.  I seem to recall a similar situation with an .223 AR-15 where it would not fire if the bolt wasn't locked up.

This particular rifle seems to be of "blowback" design.  Which given the loads I use (7.1 gr AA #7), ample powder ends up back in the shooters face and into the action.

It also seemed to foul the action.    Time to clean the rifle and try again..  But maybe with leather gloves ;-)

07 October 2019

What are the odds...

.. This guy has/had a legally owned gun?


Who thinks "respond with a gun" is a reasonable response to "too much noise in the upstairs apartment?

I had a couple downstairs apartments during my college years.  Frequently the upstairs noise was enough to "disrupt" us downstairs.  Most times we accepted it as "price of living downstairs".  Though I will admit to serenading an apparently amorous couple with a bad rendition* of "Black Dog" after being woke up at "way-too-dark-thirty" for their quickie.

But firearms never entered even in to the thought of the equation.

Deeper research suggests the shooter was hit by a ricochet, but it doesn't stop the "serves you right" "payback's a bitch" angle to the story.

* I have an electric guitar, but I try not to inflict my playing upon others.  There have been special exceptions.

Guns are never a solution to noise complaints!

20 September 2019

$dayJob team jersey day

$dayJob Activity club invited all employees to wear their favorite team jerseys this Friday.

Now if you've noticed the "about me", I'm not a big fan of "ball sports".  So the smartA in me selected this T:

It's kinda hard to read in the photo so let me summarize.  These are the equations that describe orbital mechanics:
    G x mx M/R = mx Vesc^2 or Vesc = SQRT[2x GM/R]
    V2 = Vp = r1 x v1 x sin phi1/Rp
    Ra^2 x v1^2 x sin phi1/Rp^s-vt^2 = 2 x GM x (1 /Rp-1/r1)
    e = SQRT(r1 x v1^2/GM-1)^2 x sin^2(phi1) + cos^2(phi1)
    tan(theta) = (r1 x V1^2) x sin (phi1) x cos(phi1) / ((r1 x v12^2/GM) x sin^2 (phi1)-1)
    Fd = Cd x p x (v^2/2) x A
    Nm = v/c
    c = SQRT(k x R x T)
    F = q x Ve + (Pe - Pa) x Ae
    p = m x v
    F = dp / dt

I really like the equations explaining "This *is* Rocket Science!"

And the back of the shirt explains the equations on the front:

The other shirt I really like is one the SCSon picked up.  It's the old NASA logo with the tag line "Not Flat, we checked".  Nicely done guys!

Yea, I'm a nerd, and proudly so!  Go team NASA!

11 August 2019

"The Hunt"....

... is not a new movie.  The movie may be new but the plot almost certainly isn't:
in 1993 we had "Hard Target" with Jean-Claude Van Damme,
and in 1994 we saw "Surviving the Game" starring Ice-T, Rutger Hauer, Charles S Dutton and Nick Nolte and more.

Spoiler alert, here's the plot:
1.  Bad guys "entice" good guy into their game.
2.  Too late to back out, the good guy is informed they are the prey and given a head start.
3.  Good guy picks off the bad guys one by one until only the leader remains.
4.  Good guy tricks head bad guy into offing himself in an amusing/ironic way.
5.  Roll credits.

"The Hunt" trailer suggests this well worn plot, but with minor tweaks and political labels attached to the "good-guys" and "bad-guys".


17 July 2019

Amusing observation

The SCSon had a short work day today (only ~4 hours).  It was early so he headed across the street to our friendly local indoor range.

There he found a drool-worthy rifle and asked "can I buy this?"  They asked his age (20YO) and said yes, they could sell it to him.

But then he asked but will you rent me a lane on the range to shoot it (pushing the incongruity)?  "Um no."

His point and they acknowledged "Yes, at your age I can sell you a rifle, but our policy is to not rent a lane to people under 21".

I have a.. I'll use the term "group membership" as their class name might unduly "doxx" them and I have no such intent.  Which means I can reserve a lane ahead of time online, but to bring him, I have to list him as a "minor" even though he is north of the age of majority.  Fair enough, their party, their rules.

15 July 2019

"Sheriff"* Joe please go away!

you are long past your "best used by date".   You should have retired long ago.  Part of the reason you no longer hold the office is people like me DON'T WANT YOU AS MY SHERIFF!"  Slink off to your hole.  I didn't vote for you nor Penzone last time around and he won.   Just go away and let a proper conservative challenger take on PP.

* is it one R and two F's or two R's and one F?  Both look wrong to me.  But then again so do Arpaio and Penzone!  Time for new blood.

11 July 2019

Vehicle Woes...

Wednesday the SCQueen noted starting troubles.  Suspecting the battery was dying, she took it to the vendor who pronouced it "Healthy!  The battery isn't your problem."

We talked about it over dinner "What else would he say?  He just doesn't want to replace the battery under warranty!".

Attempting to start brings silence, no "clack" of the solenoid engaging.  Later we monitor battery voltage under the same conditions.  This time it fired, but battery voltage only sagged to 11.5V.  Conclusion, it's not the battery!  Not hearing the starter solinoid fire, I figure the starter has given up the ghost.  In the old days we could replace the solinoid for a sawbuck, or even the entire starter for < $50.   But Ford buried the started under a whole bunch of other stuff.  So what I could have fixed for $40 30 years ago, now costs me >$700 because of access issues.   And because today's forecast called for 113F OAT, What's it worth to you now?

SCQueen emails our trusted shop with our discoveries.   Next AM, no start so she calls AAA.  AAAGuy says "it's your battery."  She explains, we checked it twice, it's not the battery."  Ok, but let me try to jump it first.  SCQueen "Have at it, as long as it doesn't cost me anything".   AAAGuy tries...   and proclaims "It's not your battery:-("

She maturely withheld the "told ya!" and let him load up the SCQueen-mobile

Seven bills later she has a new starter and an oil change.  Life is goo. Did I mention todays high temp hit 114F.  What would you pay to not spend > 4 hours in the garage today?  Seven bills is a fair price!

** The vehicle is of brand F and around 9 years old with just short of 200k miles.  The only real problem we notice is the radio display is invisible in daylight.  I can't fault them with an OEM starter failing after ~9 years and almost 200k miles.  I can live with that.

Update Ides of July 2019...
The "oil" light had been coming on since the maintenance....  The Oil Light most often is a pressure sensor..   Odd it's not been a problem until we have the oil changed. 

09 July 2019

We shouldn't need a law...

.. for people to secure their firearms!  Economic desire to protect one's property worth several C-notes should be sufficient.  Even if you can afford to write off the multi-C-note loss, there is also the risk to the community now that your firearm is on the darkside.

Here's what I'm talking about.

For context once the above link fails:
The group of thieves stole at least three guns and an unknown amount of other valuables from mostly unlocked cars, according to police.
We are beset by crews roaming neighborhoods looking for UNLOCKED car doors.  When they find one, the scour the interior for anything of value and move on.  The linked article notes the bad guys got away with 3 guns (at least?) from UNLOCKED cars.  While this is a story that made the local news, there are 10x stories on my local NextDoor feed. 

Whoa Nellie!  What are you people thinking?   I've learned the vehicle security lesson the hard way:  It cost me a nice car stereo in the '80s.  You can't protect anything in a car.  If a thief wants it bad enough, they'll forkload the car onto a truck and take it to a safe location.  But in this case the low-lifes are merely looking for unlocked doors.  These successes encourage further expeditions.  Make their searches unfruitful and dry up the tests.

I am not advocating for more laws.  Laws penalizing victims are just wrong.  But please lock your $#!^ up.  Just lock the @*&# car doors!"  Don't give the bastards an excuse to impose a new law on the law abiding!

Park your cars in the garage if possible and lock the doors if not!  This isn't rocket science.

24 June 2019

Corrected plates

The Truck registration was due.  Normally I'd handle the renewal online.  But I wasn't happy with my plate choice.  See I'd made a mistake in ordering my Amateur Radio callsign plate as an ordinary custom  plate rather than as a specific amateur radio plate.  The difference is a bit of artwork on the plate and a change in where a portion of the $25 fee goes.  With the extra artwork, $17 of $25 goes to fund scholarships for amateur radio operators.

Of course, because bureaucracy, nothing is easy.  They first have to retire my existing callsign plate, issue me a standard and then request the new plate.  For some reason I don't understand they also had to "burn" (their word) the next standard plate.

So  for the next 4-6 weeks, I drive on a standard plate.  Then it goes up on the wall with the other expired plates (the free state of Arizona does not require expired plates to  be turned in - our collection includes plates from the late 50's courtesy of my SCS Grand Parents).

This all took a long time because it's not something they do every day.  but I had the day off so I didn't care.   "Take your time and let's get it right the first time.  I have all day."

Next stop is attempting to get a "real-ID".  Much of the documentation they want involves mail sent to the home address.  but for the last ~25 years I have made it a point to use a PO box for security reasons.  And the SCQueen set up all the utility accounts so they are in her name.  So I have little in my name tied to this address.  I  only have a marriage licence showing we are married.  I had a passport but that expired earlier this month :-(.

One down, one to go.  We'll see how it goes.

23 June 2019

"Divorce Corner"

Visited the SCDad (My dad that is) recently.  Driving through the heart of old town he told the story of "Divorce Corner".
 Naturally it's at the corner of Fair and Division streets.  And conveniently an attorney officed at the same corner.

File under: old stories, never heard.

15 June 2019

What a disappointment...

...  This is arguably one of the greatest motor racing weekends of the year - 24 hours of Le Mans.  And it's not covered on any TV service I can find.

Seems to me last year it was covered by Fox Sports on their myriad of channels,  perhaps ESPN as well.  But this year seems "Cornhole sports" out weighed endurance car racing...

Such a disappointment...

30 May 2019

Ugh, vile SPAM comments :-(

One blessing of living as a G level blogger (3 below D level!) is that the spammers don't bother with me.

Until now...

Today some a$$hat posted a comment that would likely be offensive to pretty much anyone of the civilized world.  No, I won't repost it even under lock and key.   I hope the poster crawls back under the rock they emerged from...  And if I could, I would "..nuke that rock from orbit.  It's the only way to be sure."

Yea, I killed it as soon as I got home.  But it was out there a few hours... so I have enabled comment approval :-(

Approval should take less than 24 hrs worst case.

Sucks one bad apple has spoiled the barrel.   It was a bad apple and apologize to anyone that took a bite of that apple.

Never again.

03June update: I see the esteemed Ms. X ran into a similar problem.  I can only wonder if it's the same vile crap someone posted here.  If it was, sorry to hear you got it too...

29 May 2019

The FAIL boggles the mind

From ABC15 in Phoenix:
They say the 17-year-old boy accidentally shot his friend while riding in a pickup truck around noon Monday with two other men.

Police say the boy was a passenger behind the driver's seat and was handling a handgun when it discharged.
I guess the 4 rules of gun safety get in the way when cruisin' the 'hood.

But it also raises so many questions:  Did the driver with the gunshot in back NOT crash?  If the two 18YOs are fingered with tampering with evidence by trying to hide the gun, it suggests they probably didn't call police from the scene.

Did these geniuses think they'd come up with a story that explains their dead friend?  That even Barney Fife would trace the hole in their friend's back to the hole in his seat and note the powder burns/unburnt powder embedded in the back of the seat? 

What evidence supports the 17YO as the trigger man?  What are the odds surveillance video from the area surfaces showing the 17YO in the front pax seat? What are the odds it was one of the 18YOs that convinced him to take the fall on the basis he's a juvenile?  Maybe he didn't count on that "charged as an adult" thing.


Update:  KPHO has more:  Apparently they were able to control the truck, drive to a location to stash that gun plus one more.  Two hours later they took the shot driver to the hospital. Which brings up the obvious question, would prompt medical intervention have saved the driver?

03 April 2019

Range Report

Where I took exactly 5 shots:

Not a great grouping particularly at only 25ft. (iron sights, standing unsupported AR-15)

The point of the range trip was to evaluate some reloads, not accuracy.  The only accuracy I was interested in was avoiding the target carrier!  (Hence the shots low on the target).

Last time I reloaded some .223 it wasn't pretty.  Bullets were pushed back into the brass on attempted loading.  The SCQueen had asked for some special loads where I adjusted the dies.  The follow-ons didn't feel right.

I went back to the reloader's original die settings and ran a new batch.  The point of the range trip was to test the chambering of the newly pressed rounds.  5 rounds told the story:  All successful.

The guy behind the desk was a bit surprised when I emerged from lane just a few minutes after checking in.  I explained when I buy a year of range time all at once, I don't need to get my hour's worth on every trip!

Next trip... to test a 9mm carbine we built.. Midway made me an offer on a 9mm upper flat top I couldn't refuse!  Of course that meant I had to buy a bunch more parts to complete the carbine.   Stay tuned for the build and range reports!

Stand by!

16 March 2019

I won the lottery Part Deux

The SCSon and I visited the local range today.  Reason #1 was to try out the CMP USGI 1911 I scored in the lottery.  Patterns were nothing to write home about.  Now is that because I'm not a 1911 shooter?  Because I haven't shot pistol in > 1 yr or because these are clapped out rattle trap 1911s.

Personally, I first blame the "nut behind the wheel".  I don't consider myself a stellar pistol shooter.  So I blame me.  Still I'm glad to score a CMP USGI 1911.  Don't bother to ask, it's not for sale!

The secondary mission for the trip was to let the SCSon try out some small concealable pistols.  We started with a Glock 23 which IMHO simply doesn't have enough grip to hang onto.  Traded that out for Glock-19.

He tried a couple others, Kahr CW-9 & Baretta Nano.  He came to the conclusion that small "concealable" pistols are hard to shoot well.

Some lessons have to be learned via 1st hand experience.

And that's why we practice.  To gain this experience.

BTW... I called the RO over at one point to ask if I could relcaim my brass.  His attitude was "Hey it's  your brass and less work for me!  Win-Win!.  Fair enough

So it was a bit of a surprise when he came back a few minutes later saying "But you can't be drinking water here in the range."  He went on to say it's an OSHA reg.  OK. 

11 February 2019

Missed it by that much!

The SandCastle Queen noticed her CCW had expired.  She called DPS to find out what happened to her expiration warning and what will it take to get it renewed.

Turns out they sent the reminder to the old SandCastle address and now she is 9 days past the "renewal" process and back to "new permit process".  She doesn't have to retake the class nor requalify but she needs a new fingerprint card and the renewal costs a bit more.

Fortunately an old neighbor is in the business and hopefully can fix her up.

07 February 2019

Losing a pet....

... Always sucks.

In this case it was a 16 YO cat the SCSon named "Lear".  I need to find a picture to import here.

She had always been somewhat sickly.  Shortly after adoption she needed some serious intervention to cure "intestinal bugs".  We got her as a rescue and I'd like to think we gave her a good home for the past 16 yrs.   More recently the SCQueen secured special dietary feed and the cat had lost a lot of weight.  She was pretty much skin & bones :-(

Now that Arizona is in our cold season, She spent her time in the "Warm Spots" she found in the house.  Some times that was following sunbeams through the South facing windows, but also the corner of he refrigerator where heat is exhausted.

Lately she had pretty much lost control of her bowels, leaving calling cards all over the house.  Fortunately most of the Sand Castle is tiled so cleanup is relatively easy compared to other flooring systems, even if messy and inconvenient.

Today she succumbed to her ails at home, in comfort and accompanied by the SCSon.

Still sucks to lose a pet.

29 January 2019

Well that was fun...


3+ hours in the dentist chair.  Popped a crown flossing after lunch.   I could not get comfortable in the chair and my back muscles are still tense hours later!  The visit also wiped out the annual Health Care Savings Account :-(  My bad I should have estimated better. 

OTOH, I got a broken filling & old crown replaced with a temporary... I hope it lasts.

And I took in most of the Killer Elite via NetFlix on the office ceiling (my choice).  Jason Statham, Robert Dinero, Clive Owen. 

I've caught the end of the movie in the past but it was nice to get [most of] the first 80%.

Watching the flick, I kept wondering "When was this released" and "How old is this flick"  given the landscape limited to '70's era cars.  "Hey that Merc' was my first car!"   2011?  Holy cow where'd they find all those early 70's cars to abuse?

So, How was your Tuesday Matinee?  Hope it was better than my ride in the Dentist Chair!

The other question is how long will the temporary last.  My over/under is 4 days:-(

edited to add...  The temp crown lasted ~29 hours.   I made it through 3 meals but midrats of chips & beandip I caught my self using that molar too late :-(  Next question... Can I survive the next 12+ days with a partial temporary crown?