Saturday, March 26, 2005

The only thing I'll post about Terri Schiavo

What's the longest you've ever gone without food?

About 15 years ago I caught a stomach virus. The effect of this one on me was simple: I couldn't eat. Rather, I could eat, but 45 minutes later(damn near by the clock) it would come back up, rather violently. Soup, bread, crackers, whatever, a couple of attempts the first day showed me not to try again. I could drink water, as long as it was in small sips, but no food. For three days.

Let's just say that it was very unpleasant. No fever, no aches, I just couldn't eat. By the third day my breath smelled like acetone as my system started to consume itself for nutrition. The fourth day I found I could nibble a bit and keep it down, and after that recovery was rampant.

About five years or so before that, I found myself one day with some friends in a rocky section of the boonies with no water. In August, in Oklahoma. It was about half a day before we could get back to where there was anything to drink, and it convinced me I never, ever wanted to be that thirsty again. It wasn't just feeling thirsty, your body was telling you in very strong terms that you'd better find water or else.

Being without water for half of a hot day was fairly nasty. Not being able to eat for three days was bleepin' miserable. I can't imagine what no food and no water for days would be like.

I sincerely hope that this woman can't feel anything, because if she can, she's been condemned to an absolutely miserable death.

Carnival of Cordite #6 is up

Over at Gullyborg, take a look. Lots of good stuff

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Makarov tryout

I've had a chance to try out this little pistol. As I understand it, a Russian officer named Makarov(surprise!) took the Walther PPK design, simplified it, and designed the 9x18mm cartridge for it. Why that cartridge? Supposedly they wanted the simplicity of a blowback design, which pretty much prevented use of the 9mm Luger(9x19) cartridge, and you can't fire the 9x17mm(.380 to us) in this. For those who are not gun geeks, straight blowback is how all .22 autos work; the recoil spring and weight of the bolt or slide hold the action closed until pressure has dropped to a safe level, at which time the recoil energy pushes the bolt/slide back to eject the empty case and strip the next cartridge out of the magazine. It means that the design can be simple, no toggle or link or delay mechanism needed, but it also puts strict limits on how powerful a cartridge you can use; you could make a 9x19 in this action, but it would have a damn heavy recoil spring, making the action hard to cycle by hand.

The piece is about 6.5" long, 5" tall and 1" thick and weighs 1.8 lbs loaded. The magazine holds 8 rounds. It is a double-action: trigger for the first shot is heavy as you are cocking the hammer, followup shots are much lighter as the hammer stays cocked. The safety lever is located on the left; down to fire, up to safe. When you safe it, it both locks the firing pin and drops the hammer so you cannot carry cocked and locked. The sights(those
little bumps on the slide?) are small and hard to pick up in low light conditions. I put a little International Orange paint on the front sight, and that helps a lot. They were made in a number of Warsaw Pact countries as well as Russia, this one being from Bulgaria. Some have been available chambered in .380, and some with adjustable target sights. The magazine release is like the Ruger MKII pistols, at the bottom rear of the butt; push back to release. I mentioned the trigger earlier, if you're looking at buying one, try several as the trigger action can vary drastically from one to the next. The dealer who supplied this one had two; one's trigger was heavy and gritty, this one was noticably lighter and cleaner.

I've put about 800 rounds through this one, mostly Wolf 100grain ball. I've found it to be quite accurate, better than I expected. It's a fixed-barrel design: the barrel is set into the frame, and the slide does all the moving, which means the barrel is always in the same position. I'm told that helps account for accuracy; in any case the thing does quite well. Recoil is sharp, but not hard, control in fast repeat shots isn't a problem. The other ammo I've used is the Hornady which uses a 95grain XTP hollow point. With deliberate slow aimed fire and going from low-ready to fire, in all this ammo there have been no malfunctions. None. No fails to feed, no jams, no nothing.

Stripping for cleaning couldn't get much simpler. Drop the magazine and make sure the chamber is empty; cock the hammer; pull the trigger guard down and to one side(it pivots at the rear); push the slide all the way back, tilt up at the rear and carefully slide forward off the barrel/receiver, and that's it.

I'd put a Hogue grip sleeve on one myself, the grip is a bit slick for my taste. There are lots of parts and accessories on the market, one good place to look being Makarov.Com. You can get replacement barrels, and you can change it to .380 just by putting in one so chambered, it'll use the same magazine.

Overall I like it. It's not too big, it's reliable, cheap ammo for practice is available, and the price is good. Last time I looked, around here they were running about $175. If you're looking for an inexpensive self-defense gun it would be one to look at, though it's at the bottom of what I'd like in power. For a fun gun for targets, it's great. The one real drawback is the sights. You can get a replacment rear sight, but the front would require having someone with the tools cut a dovetail in the slide to install a bigger one. It's probably been done, and I'd think it would be a simple operation for a gunsmith.

That's my opinion of it. Warranty not included, mileage may vary by user.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

My own semi-official Jambalaya recipe

'Semi-official' because I got the base from Justin Wilson, and have fiddled with it since.

This was also the recipe that taught me you don't have to actually measure everything for a lot of stuff; you just throw something in, taste it, and add some more if need be. Or add something else.

Roughly, you use
1 bundle of green onion, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 or 1/2 if you prefer, bell pepper, chopped. I like the red ones best.
3 or four cloves of garlic
tomato sauce, two of the small cans
3 cups rice
1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced thin
2 cups wine
2 or 3 stalks of celery, chopped thin

Heat some oil in the pot and dump in the onions and bell pepper, saute' till almost clear. Then throw in the garlic and tomato sauce, and let it get hot. Add the rice and sausage, then the wine, then add enough water to cover it all by about 1", stir regularly over low heat until the rice is tender.

Basically that's it. You can also add in shrimp, shred some leftover turkey or chicken and add it. You could use something like crumbled Italian sausage. I like to add in about a heaping tablespoon of my Dad's jalapeno relish. Just throw stuff in until you like the taste.

The first time I made it I found, partway in, I didn't have any wine. I did have part of a bottle of sherry. I thought it might be too strong, so I used a cup of it cut with a cup of water. It worked great. My son, who informed me that the sherry itself smelled like grass clippings fermenting in a trash bag, also informed me that the stuff just didn't taste right without it.

When your 12-year-old advises you not to forget the booze, you just know you've done something right.

The education system

I've been reading various news articles and comments on the situation in many universities, and it reminded me of something.

In 1978 I was taking classes at Cameron University in Lawton. In one history class the teacher was very insistent we learn the 'truth' about our history. Among other things the 'truth' included:
Ben Franklin was damn near senile, and woke up at the Congress & Convention just long enough to say something wise, then dropped off again.
Most of the founders though the rest of the country was made up of servants.
None of the founders actually liked the idea of everyone owning guns.
And so forth.

It was hugely frustrating because I knew a lot of it was crap, but I was a little worried about my grade if I made much noise about it. Also, I wasn't sure how to make the argument in a good way; being a teenager who tended to get loud in an argument has drawbacks. So I sat there, and got my grade, and kept my mouth shut.

Looking back on it, the thought strikes that if this was happening in a small college in Oklahoma, what the hell was being taught in large universities in big cities in other states?

Now I know.

Several years ago my daughter, in her senior year of high school, had a class on early American history. A few years before I'd told her the story about a rifleman killing a British officer at a critical part of the battle of Saratoga, possibly making one of, if not the, critical turns in the battle. So she brought it up, and the teacher basically said "Didn't happen, couldn't have mattered anyway". So she came to me asking for documentation. Happily, I'd saved my old copies of Muzzle Blasts, a magazine for people who shoot muzzleloaders and do recreation activities, and I found the article describing the incident, including names and footnotes. So she took it in to show the teacher.

I'd always thought a teacher should be happy to hear new information in their specialty. Instead, he basically said that he'd never heard of it before, so it didn't really count, and dropped it. He was also annoyed that she'd actually argued a point with him.

It's really discouraging at times.

The British are coming!

The lawyers, anyway, according to this found at the Captain's Quarters.

Basically, the British courts are taking the attitude that if someone reads something on the 'Net, say in a newpaper online site, and they feel they've been slandered, they can sue in British courts. Doesn't matter if the paper itself was never published over there, they claim jurisdiction to sue.

Read the article for the specifics. My own attitude is as follows:
We kicked your lobsterback arses out of here about 222 years ago. You lost any claim to authority here at that point. If you don't like it, you can kiss my ass. Need specifics? You can kiss my Irish/Scot/Cherokee/English ass, on Main street at high noon.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

What are your useful skills?

Over at AnarchAngel he asks the question, so here goes.

I've mentioned my Dad used to be Highway Patrol. Well, the only way he could afford to practice for a long time was to handload. So I got started on that from him. I can do the usual stuff, and I can cast, size & lube bullets.

I can do some gunsmithing. I've never rebarreled, I have cleaned/polished/modified pieces, I've shortened and crowned barrels, mounted sights and scope bases, repaired magazines, and done some refinishing, mostly with cold blue but also with rust bluing and browning.

I'm a fair blacksmith, with an emphasis on blades. I've made candleholders, chandeliers, fireplace & campfire tools, flint & steel sets, display stands, various tools and gun springs. Also eating sets, brooches for kilt/cloak, and some jewelry.

I can do some work on engines. I've completely rebuilt lawn mowers, done partial rebuilds on motorcycles, and some work on cars and trucks(standard maintenance stuff, brakes, filters, hoses, etc.) I'm about to rebuild the clutch on my Vulcan, it's about that time.

I haven't done it in quite a while, but used to be a decent welder. When I was in grade school the town where we lived had a serious FFA program, and that's where I learned it. It's also where I started working on motors. One of these days, I need to get a welding rig and get back to it.

I can cook a bit. Generally nothing fancy, but I can turn out a good meal. I love baking bread(right now, there's fresh focaccia, olive oil & vinegar waiting for me). I could get fat if I had time enough to cook the things I'd like to.

I play guitar and sing a bit. I'm out of practice right now for various reasons, but I used to go to open-mike nights at a couple of places, and nobody ever threw anything at me.

I can do some masonry work.

It's not a skill I use anymore, but when I was dispatching I could have three phone calls and a couple of radio calls working at one time, and keep them all straight. THAT took a while, I will tell you. Side effect of that was I could listen to a voice drowned in static and understand it.

Some first-aid knowledge, bits and pieces picked up over time.

I know how to use an axe for woodcutting, and how to sharpen it and put on a new handle. Related to this, I can set and sharpen a saw.

Juggle a bit. No, not women(unfortunately).

Some leatherwork. I've made knife and sword sheaths, both leather and leather-covered wood, leather drinking mugs and shot glasses.

And I used to be pretty good at Scottish country dancing. My knees won't tolerate much of it anymore.

That I can think of, that about covers it. I've wound up knowing how to do lots of different stuff, while not really specializing in anything. Except the smithing.

How 'bout you?

The peasants are revolting!

With AK's, yet. And the bad guys are paying the price.

Two cases reported today. First from Wizbang, and from Ace of Spades(found through Michelle Malkin).

It's noted that in one of these cases, "But the gun battle today erupted in full view of half a dozen witnesses, including a Justice Ministry official who lives nearby. ". There have been other reports in the past, apparently this is being taken more seriously because of 'official' witnesses. Want to bet there have been more than we hear about, where the locals followed the 'shoot, shovel & shut up' method?

There have been more and more cases of locals reporting to the authorities, ours or Iraqi, when they see bad guys or hear where weapons are stored. There'll be more cases of locals taking on the terrs themselves, and it's good.

Note: the good guys are using AK's, which a lot of our 'progressive' leader wanted taken away from them. Screw that, with those clowns in the neighborhood.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Tornados begone!

Well, it worked for tonight. All the severe stuff moved off to the east. I'm hoping we get a little rain over the next couple of days, it'll soak in the chilis, tomatos, garlic and the rose bush I planted.

Tornados are truly awesome things, and can do very weird things. Last year, one followed almost exactly the path taken by one a few years back through Moore, damaging some of the same houses that had been repaired or rebuilt after the last one. There were interviews with a couple of families who said they were moving, and didn't care where to; they just couldn't take living there any longer. I can understand that.

Back when I was 14 or 15, we lived in a little town called Medford in northern OK. One summer night Ma Nature was putting on one of her 'you better not forget about me' shows: dark as a yard up a welldiggers arse, strong gusting winds, rain you couldn't see through and lots of severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings. Dad was out trying to keep from blowing off the road, and Mom and I were watching tv, which consisted of occasional snippets of shows between the weather alerts. Then one came on of radar indication of a possible tornado over Pond Creek, a town about twelve miles south of us. All of a sudden the wind rose to a roar outside, and we both dived into the hallway. About the time we hit the floor, it was gone, nothing but normal wind and rain outside. We waited a few minutes, then I decided to take a look outside. Mom was not happy with the idea, but since I put my helmet on and promised to stay on the porch, she ok'd it.

I had a flashlight, but it didn't much matter, the rain was so heavy and blowing so hard you couldn't see more than maybe twenty feet. It was hailing now, stones about 3/4 to 1" in diameter, coming down hard and fast. I could tell the house next door was still there, so I called it good and went back inside.

Morning came, clear blue skies, and now you could see all the tree limbs down, and anything loose that weighed less than about fifty pounds had moved. In the afternoon Dad called me out front and said, "Look at the porch". I looked, and something wasn't right. He finally said, "The posts are tilted". The tornado had, very happily, been off the ground when it went through; when the big gust in front of it hit the house, it hadn't been able to flow to the sides fast enough, and had lifted the porch roof hard enough to pull the heads of the screws through the holes in the wrought-iron posts, then set it back down just as the posts started to lean. Both of them at exactly the same angle and direction.

The warning for Pond Creek? Dad was told later that the weatherman had switched the radar to a longer range scan, and had either not set the range or misread it. So while he was warning Pond Creek, the damn thing was going through Medford.

It took me about two weeks to chop up and stack all the limbs. And I reflected numerous times that I was very damn glad the thing had been up in the air when it went through.

Booze war!

And lo, the sage Steve did write upon(about?) the liquors of the world, and their proper place in the pecking order of drinkables.

And this did cause Rob to wax wroth, and speak defaming words of the sage Steve. And umbrage was taken all the way around.

And thus do I speak: screw Rob(metaphorically, of course), for any who speak so of the Scottish Holy Water is all wet. And has been playing with acid and pigment too, too long.

Go ye, and read their words entire. For I am too lazy to summarize.

And so it begins.

The first day of spring? The first tornado watch of the year. Oh, joy.

I had thought about going to the rifle range today, but when I got off work, it was wet and looking like more rain. Now it's clear, windy and getting warm; just right for the sun to heat things up and destabilize the atmosphere(yes, I can use big words).

So a large part of the state is under a watch until sometime tonight. I'd better make sure things are put away/tied down outside.

Last year a lady lived across the street who was originally from New York, and scared blue of the very thought of tornados. So of course, one day in particular, a fairly strong cell moved right over the area. Several of us were standing in the street watching the clouds in the direction where the local weather 'experts' had seen circulation: nothing. Then I got that funny feeling and turned around and "Oh, THERE you are!". Everybody looked, and Candy asked what she was looking at. I said, "See those clouds moving in from that direction?" "Yes". "See THOSE clouds moving from the other direction?" "Yes". "See how they're moving toward one spot? That's not good". Let's just say she was not happy.

Oh, well. I'm out to make sure stuff is secured, just in case God's vacuum cleaner decides to show up.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Trespass? Get hurt? Get rich.

I've linked to various nonsense from Britain, including criminals filing claims against people they attacked. But this is a prize case.

"A teenage criminal who received £567,000 in compensation after falling through a roof while trespassing boasted about his wealth yesterday, saying that he was looking forward to buying "a few houses and a flash car"."

"I deserve this money and I don't care what anybody says about me," he said. "I'm going to buy a big house so I have a place to live with me mum when she gets out of jail. I might buy a few houses - I'll buy whatever I want." He added: "The papers just call me a yob and a thug because I've been done for robbery and assault but those were just silly stupid little things, like."

Ok, here's a hint. Jackass wants a nice place to live with "mum when she gets out of jail". Oh, and the robbery and assault? "Just silly stupid little things".

And why was mum in jail? "Murphy's mother Diane and her partner Kevin Parsons, both 36, were jailed for three years for dealing in crack cocaine and heroin from their council house in Bellini Close."

Proper compensation for this piece of crap would be to throw him and his mum and her 'partner' in prison and keep them there.

We've had a few cases here where some dirtbag filed suit against someone who hurt them during a robbery, and the jerk who hurt himself in a house he was burgling and sued the owner. One of the problems there is some lawyers who should be kicked off the bar for taking the cases, the other is judges who hear the case instead of throwing it out and telling the lawyers what crap they are. This, though, is a government program, tax money going into the pocket of this waste of oxygen.

Read the article, I'm out of words on this.

Lord, make a place for this man at the table,

he's damned well earned it.

This is definately courage 'above and beyond the call of duty'. And he's got a sense of humor about it. Someone asked him what was going through his mind the second time, and he said, "An RPG".

Found at Kim's

Yucca Mountain

I hadn't heard much about this lately. Then I read this over at Mean Mr. Mustard.

I've gotten used to the hysteria anytime the words 'radiation' or 'radioactive' are heard, which is one reason I didn't pay much attention when this started. It reminds me of the people who scream about nuclear weapons materials being transported: "There will be an accident and the whole area will be contaminated! The terrorists will steal the stuff!" and so forth.

I mentioned before that I once was a dispatcher for the Highway Patrol here. In one in-service school we had some background and response materials on the transport of nuclear weapons materials, how they were set up, security, respoinses if trouble, etc. The containers, whether rail or truck trailer, are designed and built to both prevent the release of any materials in any conceivable accident, and to deny access to anyone who might attack them. In the case of truck transport, the semi pulling the trailer is armored and driven by two federal marshalls, both armed. And they have two- minimum- escort vehicles with more marshalls and sufficient weapons to fight a small battle. I do not use that description lightly; their training and focus was to, in the event of an attempt to seize the truck, hold off what would amount to an infantry assault until help could arrive. Which would be pretty damn quick. I won't go over the alert call procedures, in any case I'm sure they've advanced quite a bit.

The containers themselves were shot, lifted off the ground by cranes and dropped, crashed into by other trucks, and sat across railroad tracks and hit by a locomotive moving 65mph. All with no leaks. And if someone managed to stop the truck and kill all the marshalls? The semi would be disabled, the cavalry would be coming(literally), and the trailers contained 'denial' features, tear gas being the only one they would tell us about. Plus, it took at least two people, doing the right things in the right sequence, to unlock and open the thing.

And with all this, people still screamed about how 'unsafe' and 'insufficiently tested' all this was. The problem with those statements being that for the people making them, there was no way that they could EVER be 'safe'. No tests mattered, no security would be good enough, it involved RADIATION! This included clowns from the Benedictine Peace House who had people watching the highways for the trucks; they liked to follow them as a 'protest' to the transport of those 'immoral' weapons materials, but also because there was RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS involved.

Connected is the screaming about destroying our stockpiles of chemical weapons. Everyone wants to get rid of them, so the Army built a specially-designed incinerator for the purpose. Secured area, storage areas, the incinerator itself, all for the specific purpose of destroying the stuff. And what happens? The same people who are screaming the loudest about getting rid of it don't want it destroyed there. "You'll have to transport it through places where people live! There will be accidents and people will die! Whole areas will be contaminated!" As if the people trying to get rid of the stuff are just going to load it in a semi and drive it through, hoping for the best. So, let's see: you want it moved away from where it is, BUT YOU CAN'T DRIVE IT AWAY! You want it destroyed, but YOU CAN'T TAKE IT TO THE PLACE WHERE IT CAN BE DESTROYED! You want it gone, but YOU CAN'T BURN IT HERE!

The obvious question is, "What do you suggest we do with it, then?" But you won't get an answer. It's far too important to scream and threaten and worry about 'the children' than to actually do something. Or allow the people who are trying to do something to do it.

It's enough to make your head hurt.

In the tradition of Dan Rather journalism,

I'll state that the information in this earlier post may be 'fake but true'.

Joe Huffman has this followup on the information. It may not be a real memo. He also has links to a number of the gun-ban groups and their aims. Boils down to, the particular memo in question may have been fake; the aims of these groups are real.