Wednesday, August 29, 2007

oma, 1921-2007.

My little Oma passed away tonight.

She had been in declining health for a while...multiple organs were acting up, and she had several unpleasant episodes at the hospital. A while ago, my mom decided to bring Oma home and let her live out her remaining days surrounded by family, instead of living all by herself in a nearly-empty apartment building. They fixed up the large ground-floor master bedroom as a studio apartment for Oma, and she spent the last few months of her life in mom's quiet suburban house, with no meals to cook or laundry to fold. My brother Sascha lives in the same house, and our youngest sibling is still underage, so there were always people around her to take care of her needs. My other siblings and their spouses live nearby, so Oma got to see the grandkids and great-grandkids on a regular basis over the last few months.

Her last few trips to the hospital must have been traumatic, because she expressed a desire to remain at home and not to return to the hospital anymore...she was afraid that she would not come out again the next time she went in. She wanted to remain at home, and prepare for the last journey with family by her side.

Tonight, she got her wish. She passed away in her sleep less than an hour ago, with my mom and brother by her side.

Goodbye, Oma. I'll miss you very much.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

a political quiz.

I suppose this picture could be a very short political quiz of sorts.

If you see an American hero keeping us safe from terrorists, you may lean towards the conservative side of the aisle.

If you see (and feel discomfort at the sight of) a machine gun with high-capacity magazines that nobody should be allowed to own save the military and police, you may lean towards the liberal side of the aisle.

If you look at that picture and have an instantaneous reaction of revulsion at the sight of one of the King's Men patrolling with a taxpayer-funded automatic weapon whose ownership is denied to the citizens that paid for it, in the middle of a city where possession of even a rimfire smallbore pistol is illegal for citizens, then you may lean towards Libertarianism.

(If you look at the picture and see mainly a G36K with an Aimpoint and double-clamped magazines, you are, of course, a gun geek.)

Monday, August 27, 2007

high turnover rate.

The good news of the day: Alberto Gonzales is quitting.

The bad news of the day: Michael Chertoff, current Reichsfuehrer of Heimatsicherheit, is probably going to end up with the job.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

i have made fire.

Here's the take of the day: two hundred and fifty rounds of roll-your-own .38 Special, 158-grain Rainier flatpoints lightly taper-crimped over 3.6 grains of Bullseye. I have enough bullets and sorted brass for at least another 250, but that'll have to wait until next weekend.

I probably set a new negative record for speed on a Dillon SDB, because I compulsively pulled every tenth round or so off the shell plate prior to bullet seating to check the powder charge on a digital scale. I also hand-inspected every empty piece of brass for defects, and then again every finished round for primer seating depth and OAL.

Now I need to go and shoot 'em all up, so I can get more brass....uh, check how the load performs. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

i think i figured it out.

The powder die was set to maximum bell width...way too wide. I figured out the powder die adjustment and unscrewed it per instructions to just the bare minimum, and now the rounds chamber like a charm.

(Mark, if you're reading this: the hardware is excellent, but the documentation needs a little help here and there.) Alas, I am but a noob, and still figuring things out.

This reloading stuff is pretty neat. I'll load a box of 50 before I head to bed, and then check the powder charge dropping to make sure I'm still getting my three-point-six grains.

'nother question for the reloaders.

So I spent a few hours setting up the Square Deal B today. Some assembly was required, but I followed the instructions, and it looks like I got it together the way it's supposed to go. Test cases ran through fine, and it took me about thirty minutes of fine-adjusting and measuring charges with a digital scale until I got it to dispense my desired 3.6 grains of Bullseye. I checked the charge a half dozen times before starting on seating bullets, and it's consistent.

One problem: I've cranked out a dozen or so test rounds, and they're all slightly sticky in the chambers. Visual inspection shows that the case is still very slightly belled out below the crimp.
Not enough crimp, or too much bell? The manual says to back out the powder die to adjust the bell, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to back it out.

Everything else seems to work peachy, though. I clamped the whole mount to the desk, and it's easy enough to work with.

Friday, August 24, 2007

In the land of the gullible, the bullshitter is king.

This article just boggles the mind. Apparently, there are a whole bunch of people in this country who claim they can not only see dead people's spirits, but actually interact or converse with them. Apparently, there are enough of them (and by extension, enough gullible people to support them with patronage) that they can congregate in thirteen camps all over the country in the summer.

Folks, "supernatural" is a null word. In the entire history of recorded science, there isn't a single credible, tested, and verifiable claim regarding "paranormal" phenomena. Fortune-telling, mindreading, PSI, ESP, seeing ghosts, talking to the dead—it's all a bunch of bullshit, with not a smidgen of hard proof that those phenomena exist anywhere outside of the minds of their practicioners.

Ah, but the key of the whole article, the code to understanding the motor behind these "Spiritualist Camps" is mentioned in the second paragraph. It starts with a dollar symbol—forty bucks per half hour of supernatural mumbo-jumbo. These are professional bullshitters, parasites who extract the money from the pockets of gullible customers with the promise of one last glimpse or conversation with a lost loved one.

Then again, selling tickets to the afterlife is one of humanity's oldest, most destructive, and least productive professions, and this is just another form of mystic pick-pocketing, a new breed of tribal campfire shamans who have discovered that taking messages from the spirit world is more lucrative and less back-breaking than actually going out and hunting or gathering.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

when two tribes go to war.

Matt expresses his puzzlement at the ability of some folks to get physically violent over something as inane as allegiance to a sports team.

I think it actually makes perfect sense from a sociological and psychological standpoint. Sports teams are a perfect way for some people to claim allegiance to a tribe. It's basically stylized tribal warfare. You have face paint, tribal colors/clothing, flags, fighting songs, and a great herd of people all dressed exactly like you...and then you go to a stadium (a battlefield with beer vendors and arena seating) to watch the best warriors of your tribe go to battle with the best warriors of the Others. Conveniently enough, the Others are easy to identify,because they too have their own colors, flags, and songs.

Such a convenient way to have instant identifiers of Us and Them is deeply satisfying to humans on a primal psychological level. No need to understand circumstances, read situations, or consider nuances--it's as simple as "our color good, their color bad."

Is it a wonder when some folks get a bit caught up in the spirit of things and revert to their neolithic programming in their desire to defend their own tribe?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


How very cute.

Two of my favorite bloggers have discovered that sometimes good things happen to good people.

Finding the right mate is the best thing there is in life--everything else is just gravy.

Congratulations, you two.

Monday, August 20, 2007

the frontrunners.

Can somebody tell me why on earth anyone would consider the two Democrats leading the pack for 2008 even remotely qualified for the job?

One is a junior senator from New York in the middle of her second term, with exactly zero political experience of her own before running for her senate seat. She was the First Lady for eight years, but that's not exactly an elected position, regardless of the clout she may have wielded. (I wouldn't want my dentist's husband to perform my dental work, no matter how much he's looked over her shoulder on the job.)

The other is a junior senator from Illinois in the middle of his first term. Politically speaking, he still has eggshells behind his ears. At least he's served almost two terms in the Illinois state senate before running for his current job, which means that even with his very short resume, he has about twice the hands-on experience as the aforementioned carpetbagger from New York.

It's a small consolation that Americans in general don't like to elect their presidents straight out of the U.S. Senate. The last senator to be elected President was John F. Kennedy, and since then, the record has been seventy-two runners for zero wins. Let's not mess up a good streak here.

Not that I'm terribly fond of any of the Republican muppets, mind you--the only declared candidate from either side of the aisle that wouldn't make me retch while I pull the lever is Ron Paul--but let's at least give the job to someone who has some experience running something.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

question for the reloading pros.

Aren't revolver bullets supposed to have cannelures?

These are the Rainiers I bought yesterday, and they most certainly do not have a cannelure.

Their factory advice is to treat these like lead bullets as far as load data goes, since the copper is not a jacket, but rather a thin electroplated layer. Does one a.) roll crimp such a bullet like a lead bullet with a cannelure, or b.) not crimp it at all?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

wear your shooting glasses.

I went to the range this afternoon to generate some more brass, and to pick up my first batch of consumables for the new Dillon SDB.

I got a pound of Bullseye, half a thousand Winchester Small Pistol primers, and 500 158-grain flat point bullets from Rainier. I thought they were LSWC, but it turns out they're copper-plated. Their website says to use loading data for lead bullets, since the plating is just that, and not a true copper jacket. I guess they'll be more than OK for range ammo.

While I was shooting, I got a reminder on the importance of wearing eye protection at the range. I was in Lane 1, and the next shooter was ten yards away in Lane 6. While I was putting my Whitman's Sampler mixed bag of older lead roundnose and wadcutter ammo downrange, I noticed a bit of a sharp pain on my right pectoral. I glanced down, and there was a piece of copper jacket embedded in it, sticking out like a speartip. It was about a quarter inch in length, and sharp-edged, of course. It had made the trip from the backstop all the way back to the firing line, 25 yards away. Ten inches higher, and it would have dinked off my shooting glasses…or buried itself in my cornea, if I hadn't worn any. Always wear eye protection, folks…eyesight is an expensive and difficult thing to restore.

Friday, August 17, 2007

diabetics beware.

One of the perks of having kids is that you can always post a cute baby picture when you have nothing else to blog at the moment.

Here's a cute baby picture.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

christmas in august.

The FedEx truck just showed up and dropped off a large box from Dillon. It contains a whole bunch of stuff, including a Square Deal B, an accessory kit, and a copy of the Lyman Reloading Handbook.

(Thanks, Mark! I think I'll follow your advice and read that manual cover to cover before I even slice open the box with the reloading press in it.)

The FedEx guy mistakenly dropped the box off on the neighbor's porch, and the poor thing kind of duck-walked it over to our door. It has a bit of weight to it, you see.

Now all I need is some powder and a big box of lead semi-wadcutters, and I'll finally be recycling all the brass that's been taking up space in the coat closet for the last year or two. I'll report on the experience in detail at a later date.

rate my life.

It's official: my life doesn't suck.

This Is My Life, Rated
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Not that I really needed a test to verify that fact, mind you.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

a fool’s errand.

In a recent post, Tam heaped some scorn on one Mrs. Robyn Ringler, a gun control activist and writer who blogs on gun violence. Tam rightly points out that it makes no sense to single out gun violence over, say, knife or fist violence—it's not any more deplorable when a man shoots his estranged wife than if he bludgeons her to death, or runs her over with his SUV.

There are many people like Mrs. Ringler. They mostly mean well, but their particular crusade against guns is a fool's errand. They single out the tool, and not the action. In Mrs. Ringler perfect world, nobody would have guns (except maybe the cops she'd call if someone were to break into her house), and where there are no guns, there's no gun violence.

There are some major problems with that line of thinking. First of all, people like Mrs. Ringler don't (or can't) understand that you cannot stuff the genie back into the bottle. Technology cannot be un-invented. There are over a hundred million functioning firearms in private hands in this country alone, and even if you banned the sale and manufacture of new guns tomorrow, those guns are out there. All you would accomplish is to do for gun what we did for drugs with the destructive War on Drugs: you'd create a vast black market for guns that enjoys government price control. Drugs have been illegal for a long time, and billions of dollars have been spent fighting their manufacture and distribution, and yet they are available on just about every street corner in America. Now consider that firearms are much more durable and longer-lived than manufactured pharmaceuticals (and therefore much better suited to be passed from user to user), and you'd have to suffer from a very pervasive kind of self-delusion to think that banning guns will get rid of them.

Then there's human ingenuity. When you make an item illegal, you encourage a cottage industry for it. When I was a teenager, one of the kids in my neighborhood had the ability to make guns out of damn near anything. He had an IQ of about 80, but he was skilled with tools, and he was able to make fairly sophisticated revolvers and shotguns. Now, this kid had a pretty modest workbench set up in the basement, and he was able to make functioning firearms—think about what the average American hobbyist could crank out with the tools commonly found in a suburban garage. Any dolt can mix blackpowder—the recipe has been Public Domain since the Chinese made their first rockets in the Middle Ages. See what I mean about not being able to un-invent technology? You can't erase the knowledge of metallurgy and chemistry from the minds of people, so even if you managed to wave a magic wand and make all the guns disappear, there'd be new ones in private hands within weeks.

The next problem for Mrs. Ringler, and perhaps the more complicated one, is the innate human desire for self-preservation. You see, humans naturally gravitate towards personal weapons, because they have always been a necessary tool for survival. Drop a man into an unfamiliar wilderness, and the first thing he will do is to gather something suitable for use as a weapon—a few whacks with a sharp-edged rock will turn a stick into a spear. We want to survive, and when you drop someone into a forest full of hungry and feral things, their brain circumvents all the ideology and politics, and goes straight past the bullshit to the survival basics. I have no doubt that even Mrs. Ringler's brain will work in that fashion if and when the chips are down—if she ever heard an intruder rummaging through her house, I'd bet dollars to donuts that she'd have at least a kitchen knife or some sort of improvised impact weapon in one hand while she dialed 911 with the other hand. Your instincts don't care about your stance on gun control or weapons in general—they will tell you to grab the baseball bat or the putter by the closet, and get ready to apply it to the skull of whatever wild animal comes through your bedroom door. You can suppress that instinct, of course, but it takes a rare kind of ideological fervor. (Even the "bear guy" Timothy Treadwell, who once stated that he'd consider it an honor to be eaten by a bear, told his girlfriend to hit the bear with a pan when he did, in fact, get eaten by it.) People want weapons--it's in our nature, an instinct honed by many thousands of years of evolution, clawing our way to the top of the food chain with no advantage but our large brains and our opposable thumbs. Trying to counter the urge for self-preservation is as futile as trying to counter the urge for sexual reproduction--any policy that counteracts those instincts is doomed to failure from the beginning.

Lastly, there's the problem of force parity. Before the advent of the firearm, the efficiency of a weapon was determined by the muscle power of the user. The sword, the bow, the knife, and the mace all required physical strength to wield them, and the stronger person was always at an advantage against the weaker one. It's more than a bit ironic that an intelligent and otherwise informed woman like Mrs. Ringler would want to remove the one thing from society that has given teeth to the weak (and yes, women in general are physically weaker than men.) Any 90-pound college student or octogenarian grandmother can pull the trigger on a gun and have complete force parity with a 220-pound rapist or home invader. Take the guns away from them, and we return to a society where women have to rely on men to protect them from other men.

(Interestingly enough, gun opponents like Mrs. Ringler do just that—they outsource their personal safety. When you call 911, you summon a man with a gun to use force on your behalf. The fact that you don't personally own the weapon in question doesn't make you morally superior—on the contrary, it makes you a hypocrite of the first order. You absolve yourself from having to use force by shifting that responsibility to another person, and then you congratulate yourself on your civilized attitude.)

So, why do these people spend so much time and energy tilting at windmills? I don't commit the logical fallacy of assuming that all gun control proponents are uneducated. On the contrary, many (if not most) are well-schooled. Gun control is one of the pet causes of the liberal-leaning crowd, and there are many academics and college graduates among those ranks. Could it be that the Left is just as likely as the Right to ignore evidence if it contradicts deeply held emotions?

Gun control is a fool's errand, Mrs. Ringler. It doesn't disarm the bad guys, only those who are already inclined to obey the law. I've often heard that gun owners are paranoid because they feel the need to own weapons for protections. Well, who's more paranoid: the person who owns a gun, or the person who wants to disarm everyone?

feel-good public policy #2,283,388.

The Omaha Housing Authority has decided to make public housing citywide a gun-free zone. Under a new policy effective in October, all public housing residents may not possess guns in their dwellings, even if they own them legally.

Omaha Housing Authority spokesmuppet Stan Timm says that the rules are "one more tool in trying to be ahead of and prevent crime."

Good going, Stan. For all practical purposes, you just painted "CRIMINALS, COME AS YOU ARE" on the door of each residence under your authority, in twelve-inch tall day-glo orange letters.

Just another reason why I'd rather sleep in a cardboard box among rabid weasels than accept a public handout: if you take the King's shilling, you have to sing the King's song.

Monday, August 13, 2007

on “gun buybacks.”

Once or twice a year in almost every major city, the police and city government will stage a cute little show called a "gun buyback". Earnest politicians and eager law enforcement brass congregate in front of a bunch of cameras, and pat themselves on the back for sponsoring an event that'll improve public safety, "get guns off the street", and make the violent crime rate plummet.

That, of course, is a bunch of fluffy crap.

Make no mistake—gun buybacks exist for one reason only: to give an opportunity for camera time to mayors and Chiefs of Police of crime-ridden cities, so that those folks may step in front of the cameras and assure their constituents that their elected officials are, in fact, the cat's meow.

Those "buybacks" are never effective. It's the same dog-and-pony show in almost every major city in the country, and it always has the same results. The cops staff a table for a day and offer taxpayer-funded gift certificates or vouchers to the public for each gun turned in, "no questions asked." They always net the same sorry collection of rusty top-break antiques, nickel-plated pot metal pistols, ancient shotguns, and the occasional beat-up .22-caliber rimfire plinker. (During a recent buyback in Boston, the catch of the day was a wood-stocked Ruger 10/22, which the organizers proudly presented as a "very dangerous Ruger 22 assault rifle".)

The problems with those "buybacks" are many. First of all, they're ingeniously mislabeled, as you cannot buy back anything you didn't own in the first place. The implication here, of course, is that all guns originate from (and belong to) the authorities, and that the "buyback" merely returns those weapons to their place of origin. It's a prime example of how language can be manipulated to mold attitudes—repeat the term often enough, and the desired mindset will spread among the target audience.

Then there's the problem of economy. Those buybacks offer a good chunk of taxpayer money for any gun turned in, usually regardless of condition. People use those buybacks to grab a quick c-note or two from the tax pot for their rusty and inoperable sock drawer junk, and we—the taxpayers—are forced to purchase those things at ten times their actual and practical value. The catch of the day then ends up in a smelter or under a saw blade, and the taxpayers get exactly zip for their cash outlay.

That brings us to the problem of effectiveness—some people (usually the organizers) claim that those turned-in junkers are "taken off the streets", implying that this will somehow have an impact on the crime rate. That, of course, is unmitigated bullshit. Criminals and gangbangers who need their guns for their line of work will not turn in their guns for sneaker coupons or Wal-Mart gift certificates. The people who do show up at those "buybacks" are a loose congregation of scrap metal profiteers and scared old grandmas who want to get rid of Papaw's old pistol that's been rusting away in a sock at the bottom of the drawer for the last forty years.

Lastly, there's the problem of Unintended Consequences. Since those "buybacks" offer cash or loot for any turned-in gun, "no questions asked", they are a fabulous opportunity for the occasional real criminal to get rid of a crime gun. The gun will invariably be destroyed, the crook gets a Target gift certificate for his troubles, and the taxpayers have to fund this sanctioned destruction of evidence.

No, those "gun buybacks" don't do anything to prevent crime or increase public safety. Next time you read about one in your newspaper, take it for what it is: a taxpayer-funded Public Relations stunt that's supposed to help make the mayor and his Chief of Police look like they're "doing something about the crime problem."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

notes from a weekend.

We spent the weekend in Georgia at Robin's sister's place. Her sister has three kids ages thirteen to nine, and they are...rambunctious. Within a few hours of our arrival at my sister-in-law's house, her kids had taught Quinn how to say "oh, shit" when he drops something, and demonstrated for him how to burp the alphabet from A to Z. (That's an impressive skill, I have to admit--my brother can swallow air and burp on command, but I've never acquired the ability.)

On the way to their house in Buford, we had to brave the Atlanta periphery at rush hour. While we were in walking-pace traffic, I saw something that I've never seen before in my life: the thermometer displaying outside air temperature showed 117 degrees. (That's 45 degrees celsius, for you Euro-types.) The air conditioning in the van was blowing at maximum, with the air flow selector set to recirculate the inside air, and it was bearable, but I could tell that the vehicle was just about at the upper limit of its thermal operating envelope. We passed several cars that had quit on their drivers, and the thought of breaking down in 117-degree heat with two small children in the car made me wince.

Our usual communal weekend World Of Warcraft gaming has slowed down a bit. Robin goes to work extra hours every other Saturday or so, and on her off weekends we usually have too much other stuff to do. Occasionally, we manage an hour or two of questing after the kids are in bed, but life kind of takes precedence over quests and instance runs right now. I've read of people who neglect or even starve their offspring because of World of Warcraft addiction, but those people have severely faulty wiring in their cranial fuseboxes. If I ever choose playing computer games over taking care of my kids, I hope that someone beats me to death with my own keyboard.

Finally, a question to my readers who are a.) parents, and b.) gun owners: how do you keep your home defense or carry weapons secure from toddler access, yet reasonably fast to bring into action without having to rely on dexterity (that may not be there when something goes crash at three in the morning), spend half a grand on mind-reading hi-tech gun safes, remember number combinations, or have a key on your person at all times?

I have my own method right now, but it's probably imperfect. The carry gun is stored well out of his sight and reach, and unloaded, with a full speedloader next to it. It takes about three seconds to bring it into action, and charging a wheelgun from a speedloader is beyond the knowledge or dexterity of any toddler, but his skill at getting into things is growing daily, and I want to find a more permanent and secure solution.

(Yeah, I know that an unloaded gun is no good to me if someone knocks down my door, but there's a much higher likelihood of my kid shooting himself with a loaded gun than there is of me not having the time to perform that well-practiced three-second loading procedure.)

Thursday, August 9, 2007


Early 1980s advertising turned into a Saturday Night Live skit by the decades since:

some random munchkography.

As you can see, the noob sports a fierce fauxhawk now.

We're going to see Lyra's grandma and aunt in Atlanta over the weekend. I was thinking about using some of Robin's hairspray (and maybe a fair quantity of hair gel) to work that flat mohawk into a more impressive vertical orientation.

some random hoplography.

Smith & Wesson Model 1066, chambered in 10mm Auto. All-steel construction, accurate, easy to control, and perfectly reliable even with budget lead flatnose 10mm ammunition.

S&W autochuckers don't have the cachet of a SIG or H&K, being the pistol line Most Likely To Be Overlooked At The Gunstore, but this big 1066 was every bit as reliable as any of the fancy Euroguns I've owned. With some decent full-house factory loads, that gun is a mean device.

Oh yeah, and 10mm Auto is an awesome caliber. If you can handle the somewhat zesty recoil from un-neutered loads, this caliber is the answer to the light-and-fast vs. heavy-and-slow debate, being one of the few handgun calibers in existence that does heavy-and-fast. Trajectory is flat, accuracy is great, and the caliber is probably the most flexible autoloader round out there. You can load it down to .40S&W levels for less recoil, or load it up to full rock-em-sock-em loads, tossing a 200-grain bullet at 1,200 feet per second, or a 165-grainer at over 1,400.

If 10mm Auto factory ammo wasn't so hideously expensive (and thus hard on the wallet for regular practice), I'd probably still carry that Model 1066. (On those rare flatgun days, that is. Most days, I'm quite content with that decidedly more old-fashioned revolver thingy.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

on word processors, the weather, and guns.

At the risk of sounding like a shill for Alphasmart, I have to once again sing the praises of the little Neo.

I've had this thing for a little over a month now. I've written roughly 20,000 words on it, five or ten or thirty minutes at a time. The battery meter just dropped to 99% a few days ago. At this rate, the three AA batteries in this thing will run out of juice at some point early next year.

There's not a thing I don't like about the Neo. It's very well designed, and it does its one job better than anything else. No boot time--hit the "On" key, and two seconds later, you're ready to type away. No power issues--forget having to lug around a power adapter, or secure a seat next to a power outlet at your local Sip-N-Type. No big-ass laptop bag or thrown-out backs--the Neo weighs two pounds, which is half the weight of the skinniest sub-notebook out there.

Yes, it really is the best thing since sliced bread, and yes, you do need to toss out your laptop and get yourself one of these if you do any kind of heavy-duty writing. It lets you untether yourself from your desk, and you won't believe how many productive five-minute writing sessions you can squeeze into a day if you don't have to first grab your eight-pound laptop, wait for it to boot up, and hope that the battery is topped off.

It's the hottest stretch of the year. Here in the Tennessee river valley, that means heat and humidity so oppressive that it feels like you're walking into an industrial-sized bakery oven every time you leave the house. At this time of the year, I don't mind being stuck in the house with the kids, and any excursion is basically a quick transition from air-conditioned house into air-conditioned van to go to the air-conditioned store. Weeks like this one remind me of a line from that mediocre movie with Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek, where his parents spend time with her parents at some lake in Arizona for Cinco de Mayo...the Mexican part of the family has a great time in the sun, but the Anglos just sit there and sweat, until the white dad shouts at the Mexican dad, "The white people are melting!"

In Germany, residential air conditioning is virtually unknown, and considered a wasteful use of electricity. When I left the place in 1996, they had just started putting AC units into new vehicles as standard equipment, but I didn't walk into my first air-conditioned dwelling until I came over to the United States. We may use far more energy with our central and window AC units, but if its between me sitting in subtropical Tennessee heat sweating out a gallon an hour, and Gaia taking it in the pants, then set the thermostat to 68 degrees, baby. They make more kilowatts at the nuclear power plant every day.

Concealment is tricky in this kind of climate, of course, but I've had very good success with a close-fitting pancake holster under an untucked t-shirt. I never really understood the desire for those little subcompact guns made out of styrofoam--the smaller you make 'em, the harder they are to shoot well. If I can hide a steel K-frame revolver under an untucked t-shirt without even having to use an IWB holster, then why would I get one of those little compromise guns?

That's not to say that pocket guns like the Jetfire and P32 aren't neat. They are, and I've owned my share of both. I used them for backup, though, and not as a primary choice of sidearm. For that job, I want something made of steel, something that'll accommodate all the fingers on my shooting hand. There'll be enough factors spoiling my accuracy in a gunfight; trying to win a life-or-death shootout with a gun the size of a credit card is something I don't want to add to the menu.

Monday, August 6, 2007

various reviews.

Over the weekend, I installed both Windows Vista, and Office 2007. I have two internal hard drives in my Magic Elf Box, so trying out new operating systems is pain- and risk-free…my original XP install is saved on the secondary hard drive as an image file, and restoring the Pea Sea to its original state takes all of thirty minutes.

The verdicts:

Vista is shiny, and has lots of neat little features. It's also pretty bloated (both the hard drive and memory footprint), and all the new glitz takes up a lot of screen real estate. I toyed with it for two days or so, and then went back to Windows XP. My main beef with Vista is the fact that they moved so much stuff around that it takes four times as long to perform a task, because you have to re-learn the operating system.

All in all, I don't have a major issue with it, and I suppose my next new build will have Vista loaded on it, but for now I'm quite content with XP.

Office 2007, on the other hand, is a winner. It, too, has been changed radically from its predecessors, but in a good way. Everything is easier to find, and the new interface features actually make work go faster. Word finally has a live word count! (That's terribly unimportant to Suzy Soccermom, but for those of us who practically live in Word, it's a long-desired feature that will save the writing folks many mouse clicks.) They've even thought to include integrated blog publishing capabilities, so you can type up your Blogger posts in Word and then upload them with a single click. (No more lost Blogger posts because their "auto-save" feature doesn't.) After a day of using Office 2007, the old version of Office feels primitive in comparison.

So, Vista is out, Office 2007 is in.

Now I have to go and install BottledMilk 1.0 on Munchkin 2.0. She keeps losing the install, and I have to reload it every few hours. That's a major bug, if you ask me. What were the developers thinking?

Sunday, August 5, 2007

just another weekend in happyville.

Robin tried a new recipe from her "Shakespeare's Kitchen" cookbook tonight--minced lamb foldovers with a broccoli soup on the side, and a bottle of Chaucer's Honey Mead to go with it. Tasty.

On the subject of food, here's a public service announcement, addressed to all those people who dial the 1-800 number for the diet pills advertised on late-night TV or highway billboards.

It doesn't matter what the pill is called, how many scientific-sounding claims they squeeze into the ads, or how many celebrities they hire to pimp the product. There is no pill that will make "fat melt away". There is no way--none at all--to lose weight by taking an over-the-counter pill. Weight loss will occur if you burn more calories than you take in, and that is best achieved by adjusting your food intake and exercising. I hate to break the news to you, but the only way you'll make your body fat "melt away" is if you die in a house fire.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

for the recoil freaks.

Here's something I found in a Swiss gun magazine a few years back. It's a revolver called the "Pfeifer Zeliska", and it's made by an Austrian gunsmith who is probably all kinds of nuts.

For the ultimate in hand-held stopping power, this puppy is chambered in .600 Nitro Express. That's the genuine elephant cartridge used for Very Large Things That Can Kill You Dead. They mention the chronographed ballistics out of this thing, and I had to do a conversion from joule and meters/sec. to foot-pounds of energy and feet per second.

It launches a 900-grain bullet at 1,515fps, for a muzzle energy of 4,586fpe.

.600NE has roughly twice as much oomph from a rifle barrel, but even the reduced muzzle energy out of that monster wheelgun is still well above anything else offered by anyone else. It's half again as powerful as the .500S&W, and recoil is probably, erm, excessive.

Is there a need for a revolver with that kind of ka-boom? Not really. (There's also no practical purpose for it, unless you figure out that time machine thing and start going on hunting trips to the Jurassic period.) However, I'd buy one for two reasons alone: first, it's a neat piece of engineering, and second, it would make the gun control crowd piss their pants in terror.

Alright, make that three reasons: it makes one heck of a loud BOOM, and making things go BOOM is one of the primal joys in life.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

digital crack.

If you're stocking up and preparing for the inevitable coming zombie apocalypse, here's a fun trainer for you:

You start out as a lone survivor with a pistol. You allocate your daylight hours to repairing your barricade, finding more weapons, or finding other survivors.

It gets really fun once you find your first automatic weapon.