Sunday, March 31, 2013

Economics Made Animated

     John Law (there was a real John Law?  Who knew!) and the Mississippi Bubble.

     (May not work.  If not, follow the link.)

     Relatedly: Eric S. Raymond on why he doesn't blog about politics very often these days: "The big-state system is like Coyote run off a cliff, frantically windmilling its legs in the air. The moment it looks down it’s going to fall, long and hard. Nothing I could write is going to make any difference to that outcome, any more."


     (Unrelatedly: I swan, this year I will make time to visit General Lew Wallace's study.  How could one live so close and not?)

The Ordinary Rider Overdid It

     I think I went too far -- literally.

     Yesterday afternoon -- I had some volunteer work in the morning -- I installed the new stainless hardware on my pennyfarthing bike basket (thank you, PDW!), and found that a heavy application of beeswax on the bolt threads completely prevented galling, hooray!

     Then I set out on a Journey: a mile-plus through Broad Ripple proper, with excursions to some of the finer junk retro shops and quick check to see if Petite Chou was back (it is; the Broad Ripple Flood -- a sewer backup in heavy rain -- of some years back had shut them down for an extended period, to my regret).  Then a mile-plus out and over to another section of Shoppes, including a new and very kewl one that specializes in not specializing; among the second-hand clothes, old cameras, art and mil-surplus, they had a scattering of Art Deco table lamps that on close inspection are made of cocktail shakers, colanders, and other such appurtenances -- and very well-made at that.  I was still feeling pretty chipper, so I rode around a bit more before heading home.  Five miles, perhaps?  Had a nice dinner, looked at Teh Toob, went to bed early and woke up...with a headache and sore shoulders.

     Made coffee, took ibuprofen and laid down for "just a bit."   Couple of hours later, Tam getting ready woke me.  She asked if I wanted to go shooting today and I allowed how I'd make my own way to the range* maybe -- and fell back asleep.

     Woke up when I heard the door slam later, realized my shoulders were S-O-R-E, set a heat pad and fell asleep again.

     And now here I am.

     I did manage to sneak in a load of laundry on the two previous wakings, so the morning's not a complete loss.

     But maybe I need to work my way up to longer rides.
* Tam and SB delight in a hearty breakfast and a full morning at the range.  I'm best off choosing one or the other.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

They're Lying If Their Lips Are Moving

     Senator "Uncle Joe" Donnelly's office is denying the Indiana Senator has taken Mayor Bloomberg's shilling over the so-called "expanded background checks" law (that's the law that makes you a Federal felon for loaning a gun to your unmarried roommate or lodger -- feel safer already?).  Meanwhile, the most recent press release on the subject to be seen at our junior Senator's website implies he's all about the background checks.

     My guess?  He'll run with the hares and hunt with the hounds just as long as he can, lifting a finger -- or a hind leg -- to the breeze until he's certain which way the wind blows.

     There's you a man of deep conviction and commitment: commitment to bite off the heads of whatever chickens it takes to stay in office.  If he keeps hangin' around MAIG, he'll learn all about conviction, from men who know it well -- and indictment and prosecution, too.  Better bring a long spoon, sir; the one you're using now ain't nearly long enough.

Friday, March 29, 2013

If I Win The Lottery

     ...Especially if I win one of the really big prizes (for which the odds are so lousy that my not buying a ticket doesn't materially reduce my chances of winning -- someone could give me a ticket, or I could find one), at the big-deal winner's press conference, when they turn the mikes on me I'm going to be so tempted -- so terribly, terribly tempted -- to say just one thing:

     "Twenty thousand dollars to the first reporter who punches another reporter in the throat!"

     Man, there is way more than $20,000.00 in entertainment value in the first fifteen seconds alone.

     (Yeah, I'd feel real bad about it later.  Just awful.  But how many times have they shoved a mike and a camera in some grieving person's face, standing at the scene of some horrible calamity, and droned, "How do you feel?" milking the moment for cheap sensation.  It kinda begs payback.  It feels like a punch in the throat, is how it feels, okay?)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tam K Cancer Update

     A note for those of you who chipped in: while it is incredibly difficult for Tam to even think about looking in a mirror with the bandage off her nose at present, I've been doing her dressing changes.  I've got to look.

     She's healing well.  Her surgeon's work strikes me as damned good.  It's early days even now; this is a skin graft we're talkin' about and if it was your nose, a square inch or so -- call it around the diameter of a quarter -- would not be small.  It'll take time to heal. 

     But here's the skinny: she still looks like Tam under that bandage.  The Doc replaced his divot very neatly indeed.

Joe Donelly Sells Indiana Out

     Indiana's junior Senator Joe Donnelly has thrown gun-owners under the bus.  He caved to pressure from New York City's Mayor Bloomberg (or at least the not-yet-indicted remnants of "Mayors Against Guns" claim he has), as you can read in the Californa newspaper article linked above.  Way to represent Indiana, Joe!   --Oh, wait: not.

     Help let him know he has done wrong.  (Even beyond the simple misjudgement of siding with the MA[I]G den of criminal behavior.)

     MA(I)G has added a chortling "thanks" to our sellout Senator in their dreadfully unsafe TV ads, in which a bearded, flannel-shirt-wearing fool with his finger on the trigger of a horizontally-held shotgun -- aimed in the general direction of playing children! -- hectors the viewer about "gun safety" while breaking the most basic rules thereof.  Gee, Senator Donnelly, are you sure that's something you want to be associated with?

     Meanwhile, Senator Dan Coats is facing pressure from the same well-oiled (if slightly felon-riddled) machine.  We need to remind him to stand firm again any new anti-gun laws, including the deceptive "expanded background checks" law, which would criminalize normal, innocent behavior.

Huck The Cat, Caught Napping

     He's just rolled on his side, to get warm all over (there's an electric blanket under the quilt!)
     Notice the fang.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Portland Design Works

     They've got a good notion of "customer support."  In response to an e-mail inquiry about the galled-solid stainless hardware on my bike basket, Portland Design Works is sending out new bolts, nuts and washers. 

     Considering that it is stainless steel, they would have been on firm ground charging for the hardware and shipping, and telling me to consider it a learning experience.  Instead, they were quite gracious about it.  Y'wanna know how to get over $100 for a bike basket?  One, offer a good product (and this one is very nicely made); two, be helpful when nitwit customers make mistakes in installation.

     (I'm totally saving up for a set of these, an upgrade to the pennyfarthing's original grips.)

Hooray For Kershaw!

     True to their word, two springs and a full set of machine screws for my Kershaw "Needs Work" daily carry knives arrived Monday.  As soon as I'd found a pair of Torx T6 drivers (note to self, buy a couple more good quality T6 bits), it was a matter of moments to restore both knives to full function.

     Total cost to me, the price of writing a quick note.  Now that's service!  Kershaw makes a quality product and supports it well; I'm happy to recommend them to you

*  *  *

     I was asked by another blogger if I found the tips of these blades fragile.  They're certainly not screwdrivers or prybars; the blade shape and profile are such that the very end of the tip is quite fine.  The blade becomes much more substantial around 3/8" back.   If you were planning on using a pair to scale a wall, you will need to drive them in deeply (this use probably voids the warranty, BTW).  As knives, they're just right for me; the slender shape of the tip spares me having to carry a penknife for fine work.  When I have been inadvertently rough on the blade end, I was able to bend it back with a vise and a bit of effort, which is impressive resilience for a blade that holds an edge as well as these do.  (The little Japanese carpenter's knives I carry as a backup and for precision wire stripping take a slightly keener edge -- and snap like glass under bending stress.)  YMMV; there are plenty of choices and you should fit your knife to how you'll use it.

     As the old adage has it, "Two is one and one is none."  The reason I keep using the plural is my daily carry knives are pairs: one in my pocket, one stored at home in case of loss or damage.  I carry two knives (of different sizes) plus a Leatherman "Wave."  The first rule of having a knife when you need one is to have a knife.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sun, Snow, Meltage, Fake Tornado?

     Yeah.  Sure.  Why not?   Just to cap off the last few days of this-goes-to-11 weather, Indiana's statewide tornado drill will happen Wednesday.  Twice, even -- once in mid-morning and again about dinner time, the sirens will sound, the TV and radio station will sound off, and J. Random Everyman (and woman) will head to the storm cellar complain about the TV shows, hit tunes or talk-show bloviators being interrupted.

     It's for your own good, more or less.  But maybe not like you'd think: the entire chain of alarums and alerts is only tested as a complete system just this once, each Spring.  It's only slightly automatic; there's a lot of human intervention -- or out at the ends where you and I notice it, sometimes far too little human intervention in the form of  maintenance.*  This is the one chance to catch the more egregious faults before tornado season starts.  If you notice it enough to be a bit annoyed, that's a good thing: it means it worked.  Heading to the basement is optional.
* Some years ago, the city of Kokomo found their siren system had major gaps in the form of failed units and shifting population, and after crunching the numbers, realized it was more cost-effective to hand out a weather radio to everyone in town!  Hey, whatever works.

Monday, March 25, 2013

About IU

About Indiana University?  "You can trust Psi Corps.  Psi Corps is your friend."  Riiiiight.

Yep, Still Snowing

     Now officially 8 inches of snow and still falling.

     Compare and contrast with the only-a-few-hours-earlier photograph below.

Steak For Breakfast -- Again

     Tamara had picked up a couple of massive filets for Sunday; I made them for brunch but split mine and saved one half for later.

     This morning was "later."  I got the thing out, look one look at it and realized it was so thick it could be split again, resulting in two 3/4" thick "breakfast steaks."  Add a slice of bacon, an egg, toast and coffee, and there's breakfast enough to face what looks to me like over 6" of snow on the ground -- and still falling, gentle now but they're promising (threatening?) more intensity later.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

It's Snowing And Snowing

     And snowing and snowing and....  You get the picture -- if not, here it is.
     Except you need to double the amount of snow piled up for it to be accurate as I write this and snow is still falling.

     Yesterday: sunny, warm, random pedestrians peering randomly in* at happy deli diners.
     Today, it was cold and gray and now, this!

     Welcome to Indiana.
* No doubt he was on the way to boldly go somewhere.

Mayor Bloomberg Despises Civil Rights

     The Mayore Royale of NYC was The Tube this morning, sneering at your right to drink a Big Gulp, light a cigarette and own a gun.  He's proud of it and he (claims) that none of it infringes on any inherent right, not even a smidge.

     As a good Northern girl, I was going to compare him to Lester Maddox, standing in the doorway of his segregated diner with an axe-handle in his hand, but I try to do my homework instead of running with easy stereotypes and  y'know what?  Maddox started out his political career athwart a doorway, yellin' "Never!" but he appears to have grown and changed over the years, becoming more inclusive and appointing African-Americans to executive positions in state government while Governor; at least he gave up drawing lines in the sand and daring the tide to cross. Conversely, Bloomberg's stand becomes ever more extreme, inflexible, dictatorial.

     Sorry, Mayor; you lack the open-mindness, empathy and ability to grow that Governor Maddox had.  Y'might want to chew on that a spell before you open your mouth again

Science: It's Hot

     At least, it's hot at the Chile Pepper Institute!   Another day, another few million Scoville Units....

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Ordinary Rider

     I rode my big pennyfarthing to join Tam and Brigid at Fat Dan's Deli for lunch, and afterward, took a cruise up the Monon and back down for a total of about three miles.
     You'll note the bike now has a small front basket.  This is from the clever bike dorks at Portland Design Works, and is just little enough to clear my knees.  The bag comes with it, designed to fit and buckle into place.  Only problem so far, the stainless metric clamp bolts galled on installation, two of them so badly they're stuck.  So they're going to have to come out and get replaced by SAE stainless, maybe with some beeswax rubbed in the threads just for luck.

     Update: PDW came through with new stainless hardware within a couple of days of e-mailing them and it worked very well with a dabba beeswax. High marks for Portland Design Works! 

     Stopped off at Restoration during my second ride, where I found what may be the perfect light (if I can get it to work) for this bike, a black-wrinkle finish Ash Flash.  Alas, the red flasher lens is long gone -- but I'll come up with something.


     Dear Heavens, that was refreshing!  I don't think I had a full night's sleep all week until last night.  --Just in time for Snowmageddon 2013: we're supposed to be getting a foot of snow, starting late tonight.  Argh.

Friday, March 22, 2013

I'm exhausted.

     Goin' to bed.  G'nite, Innernet.  G'nite Moon.  Moon.  Mooooon.  ZZzzzzzzzzz.


    Pop quiz: how many "high-capacity assualt clips" were needed in the recent murder of Colorado's Director of Prisons?

     If you answered "none," you win!  --But there is no prize.  Just a sadder damn' mess than usual.  Not that it keeps idiots* from trying to link the two; and never you mind that he could have been doorstepped with a sedan or an axe as easily.  All that crime took was a total disregard for a man's life.  The means were a mere detail.
* Or the New York Times.  But I repeat myself.

Roseholme Quick Breakfast

     Cold hard-cooked eggs; some deli-cooked, dry-rubbed baby back ribs, nuked and stripped from the bone; rye toast and half a Minneola tangelo; washed down with hot coffee: pretty good for five minutes in the kitchen.

Taking My Car To The Shop

     In a rush: my car has been having exhaust-system issues (it got LOUD) and there's a slow leak in one of the tires -- if by slow, one means, "down 20 psi every other day." So it's going into the shop this ayem.

     Back soon, with some more interesting post.  I hope.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Friend Under The Weather

Frequent BlogMeet attendee, raconteur and bon vivant Don advises that he's been struggling with some serious health issues that snuck up but is on the mend now.  Spare him a thought, if you would.


"These bonuses can be put-upon to represent his dearie games of video fire hook."  Well, of course.  Of course.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Panic On The Campus!

"Man With A Gun" meets "Leaping To Conclusions."

     Quick legal review: In Indiana, it is generally lawful for you to possess a gun on a college campus...unless you are a student or employee, in which case you had better check your school's rules.   Things are a little more hazy if you're, say, a patient at one of the teaching hospitals on the IUPUI campus, most (if not all) of which are posted "no guns." OTOH, while it may be legal to open-carry a rifle on the IUPUI campus, or a handgun if you have a carry permit, it might not be wise.

     Okay, got that?

     How about having a rifle in the trunk of your car?  What happens if someone sees it and goes all weak in the knees?

     The campus gets "locked down," is what.  For four hours -- and nothing was found.  The gun -- unless it was a joke umbrella -- apparently was never even out of the trunk of the car it was seen in; the car itself seems to have eluded the police dragnet, probably without the driver ever knowing what was up.

     Since the IUPUI campus is on the large side, quite unfenced and includes a couple of hospitals, the "lockdown" was more of a suggestion and they're fixing that by promising to never use the term again.

     How they're going to fix people freaking out over a glimpse of something sort of rifle-ish in a trunk, well, that's not even addressed.

     (State universities used to have shooting ranges.  One of Tam's educated pals talks about shooting practice at the IU Bloomington indoor range, I think in the basement of the student union, not very many years ago.  Is there a range at IUPUI? It looks unlikely in light of this story, which extended to dozens to squad cars, police scuttling around with assault weapons patrol rifles, hovering helicopters and a nearby public school doing an actual doors-locked lockdown; we had everything but crying interviewees, over next-to-nothing.  O tempora!  O armes!)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Blogger Mutual Assistance System

...Friend Bonnie finds herself with a medical shortfall; Jennifer took up the call....  Lend a hand, if you can; might be any of us up next.

     "Benificence" is one of my favorite notions, because it generally means, "give if you can."  Not if you can't; not 'cos Somebody is Watching; not even for Eternal Brownie Points.  Just to help, if you've got any to spare.

Kershaw Update

     Exactly as commenters predicted and I had hoped, Kershaw wrote back promptly Monday.  They're sending new springs, and suggested Loc-Tite for the loose threaded insert.*

     They say it could take up to ten days for the parts to arrive.  Given that they're costing me exactly zero and will restore two knives I'm fond of and find very useful, that's a small thing indeed.

    Other companies, pay heed -- it appears these guys have got that "customer service" thing figured out.
* Blue Loc-Tite -- and friends and geeks, do pay close attention to the grade/color of suggested Loc-Tite, as the hard-core red "cylindrical part locker" is forever unless you apply heat, while the remainder have varying degrees of hold/suitability to thread pitch and you do not want to use the wrong one!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Need A New Worry?

Russian scientists report finding a wholly new type of bacteria in Lake Vostok, sealed under the Antarctic icecap for a million years or more.

     Paging H. P. Lovecraft?  George Romero?  Anyone?

A St. Patrick's Day BlogMeet

     Brugge wasn't too crowded; they'd made some concessions to the holiday (green T-shirts on some of the help) but the main drinking-green-beer action was down the street: Belgians treat beer with a little more respect than that!
    Clockwise from lower left, The Jack, Fuzzy Curmudgeon, Shomes the Younger, Shomes the Mrs. and Shomes the Shomes, the talented Ms. Joanna and the hat-wearing Tam.  Also, Our Host (upper left), who drives a snazzy red and white Willys civilian Jeep in all weather.  (Yes, that's right, A] drives kewlest of Jeeps; B] knows what it is for.  Man like that, you've got to admire.)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Background? Check.

     The more I think about, the more it makes sense to me that you ought to have to fill out a 4473 and pass a NICS check to become Commander-In-Chief.

     C'mon, Gramps has to do so to buy a .410 shotgunette at the Wal-Mart, why shouldn't the guy with his finger on the "blow up the world or just some guy" button have to?

     (Clearly riffed from Sarah Palin's CPAC speech; say what you will about her, she is still reliably making heads explode on the Left.)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Greatest Dancer You Probably Never Heard Of*

     Did I blog about this already? (I'm almost certain I did).   Some time back, I channel-surfed into a showing of Sweet Charity on one of the oldie TV channels, didn't recognize it, saw Richardo Montalban and stayed just to hear him talk, and in less than a minute, this dance number came up:
    The lead dancer is Suzanne Charney. There was a point in my life where I'd'a happily handed over my eyeteeth just to have the potential to dance as well as she does; but that's a combination of natural gift and hard, hard work that doesn't just happen. (Not a huge surprise to discover she sculpts, either; think about the amount of visualization it takes to dance photogenically.)

     (And boys, do try not to drool too much, mmmmkay?)

     ETA: Tam recommends the Wikipedia article on The Frug.
* OTOH, if you are much into dance, especially modern, you have indeed heard of her.

Another Pome.

Good Morning to me
Good Morning to me
I slept for eight hours
Got no super powers
Good Morning to me.

Friday, March 15, 2013


     Two days ago, I blogged about my $35ish Kershaw 1820ST.

     Yesterday, the torsion spring broke.  Same place as the spring on my first one.  Looks like the springs only last a couple of years if you use the knife a lot.

     I wrote 'em, asking after replacement parts.  We'll see if they reply.  My expectations...  Well, I shall reserve judgement.


     My head is unusually empty of ideas this morning, perhaps due to an overnight incident of which I have absolutely no memory.  Woke up this morning with an achy knot in my left calf and when I mentioned it to Tam, she gave me A Look and asked a question:

     "You don't remember?"

     "Remember what?"

     "I didn't look what time it was but in the middle of the night, you yelled 'Nooooo!' and I came running in just in time to see you sit bolt upright, grab at your leg and push my cat off your bed while she was still asleep."

     "Poor Rannie!"

     "She landed on her feet.  Anyway, you had a calf cramp."

     No kiddin'.  Still hurts, too.  I'm kind of glad I don't remember.

*  *  *

     Rannie Wu was apparently still reaching for serenity this morning -- I fed the cats, shut the door between the bedrooms and front rooms as I went back to shut off my alarm clock and when I went back to cook breakfast, found she had eaten a little of her food and was now sitting on the window seat, feet all tucked in, calmly contemplating her half-full food bowl.  Once I had the skillet going, she begged for a little olive oil (I put a half-teaspoon in the cup-depression in the center of a saucer for her most mornings, which she thinks is a huge treat), then returned to her bowl to finish eating.  One has one's composure to maintain, hey?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

March BlogMeet: The 17th!

     Why not? With any luck, the worst of the green-shamrock idioten (with proud Irish names like "Smith," "Rameriez" and "Kaczynski"*) will have drunk their fill of green beer the day before.

     Sunday, 17 March, 3:00 pm, let's try Brugge for a start, with fade-back to the Ripple Bagel Deli as an option if Eire has invaded Belgium.

     Remember, this is Indy 1500 Gun Show weekend, too!
* And that's the U.S. for you: wherever you are from, if you move here you're likely to find your holidays co-opted and whatever you grew up eating transformed into a fast (or at least middlin'-quick) food.  Then we start doing mash-ups and before too long, you're celebrating Canada Day by eating bratwurst tacos in a pita-bread shell at a faux-English pub in Nebraska.  You want culture?  We're a heated cabinet fulla Petrie dishes and they're all kinda porous!)

Want To Get A Ham Radio License?

My recent post on the $40 dual-band handheld radio seems to have prompted a few folks into getting into ham radio.  To do that, you need a license.

     The present entry-level license is the "Tech" and there is a test -- but it's multiple-choice, not very difficult and you only need a "C" to pass.

     You can either start out by taking practice tests or by using a study guide and either way, a good place to begin is at AA9PW's site.

     Once you're consistently getting passing scores on the practice exams (and there's a pool of questions much larger than the number of questions on any individual tests, so do take the practice exam lots!), you'll want to take the test for real.  This is done by "Volunteer Examiners," and the ARRL*, the national ham club in the U.S., has a search page that will quickly find the exam sessions close to you; I have had best luck  with ZIP-code based searches.
* The American Radio Relay League is the biggest, oldest ham radio club in North America and one of the oldest in the world.  Their name dates back to the days when a table-top spark-gap transmitter and simple "crystal set" type receiver had a range of a hundred miles or so and messages had to be "relayed" from one station to another to travel any distance.  It's still apt now that handheld VHF/UHF radios have, with a repeater, about the same range.  You can use other bands and cover the whole planet but emergency comms remains an up-close, short-range art.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


"The Best" is the Enemy of Good Enough

     (ETA: some people read this post as an indictment of people with high-end gear.  It isn't; what irks me is when people confuse equipment with training.  Buy the best you can afford -- and learn how to use it.  No hardware will make you any better than your skill set. Your skills are the only part of the equation uniquely your own.  Anyone with a clean record and the bucks can own a good gun -- only a few can shoot it well.)

     Tam was looking at some forum where the guys had been posting nicely-composed pictures of Their Gun, Their Knife. Their Wristwatch and sometimes a fat sheaf of high-denomination banknotes.

     All of it was high-end stuff.  Shiny.  Most of it pristine.

     H'mmm.  Pretty.  Very pretty.  And yet--

     Here's my reaction:
      That's a $129* gun -- buy three, they're small -- a $35 knife and a $100 wristwatch on its fifth or sixth band, along with about $6.45 American in change.  Every morning, the watch goes on my wrist, the knife goes in my right front pocket -- and the gun stays at home shuttled between bedside and safe, as I carry something smaller and simpler these days (Colt "Pony" .380).

     The knife is in and out of my pocket dozens of times a day.  It gets used a lot and it's been resharpened many times -- by the power-sharpener folks at gun shows, I'm not after a scary-sharp woodworking edge.  My hand knows exactly where it it and I have it out and opened with about as much thought or effort as pushing one's glasses back up.  I've run thousands of rounds through Star BM and BKM 9mm handguns, punching paper and trying to knock bowling pins over.  I even used it when I took a handgun class.

    It's nice to have nice things.  It's fun to have really top-shelf things.

     It's even better to have things you know very, very well; things that you use every day, know how they feel, know what they'll do and know how to make 'em do it.

     Even (maybe especially, go ask 'em) a $400 Sebenza is made to be used.  If you just have it and hold it and show it off, all that tells me is that you live under a roof and you had about $400 to spend.  If/when you need it, will you have it?  Will you be able to reach it and get it open without having to fumble?

     Buy good gear -- please!  But learn how to use it -- and then actually use it.  You may lose the knife or the gun or the watch.  You can buy another.  You won't lose the knowhow.
* That is, $129  (or a bit more, as that's the aluminum-alloy frame version) and plentiful back when I bought it.  Price is up and supply is down, which is the other reason it's become a bedside gun.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Universal" Guns

     What's a "universal" gun?  Simple: it's a model so ubiquitous that you can build one with few (if any) parts from the original maker, a gun so widely accessorized that you can get just about any practicial widgets for it you might want.

     For center-fire pistols, the 1911 and Glock 17 fill the bill; they are so widely supported that you can, with very little effort, build a polymer-frame 1911 and a metal-frame Glock (and go shooting in Opposite World?).  Parts and accessories for each fill pages in Brownells and Midway USA catalogs, not to mention the back page ads in any gun magazine.

     A generation or more back, the Baby Browning and hundreds of "Eibar" copies (in everything from .25 through .380) kind of filled the role, though usually only as complete firearms.

     In center-fire rifles, the AR-15 stands head and shoulders above the rest, followed by the slightly less multi-sourced semi-auto AK-47.  Tam argues persuasively for the Winchester 94 as well, and she's got a point, especially in the "ubiquity" aspect.

     Shotguns, it's a dead heat between the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500.  Even the folks who shoot high-end shotguns usually own one or other of these as well.

     In .22s, Ruger dominates, with the 10/22 rifle and Mark I/II/II pistols (especially if one includes the the 22/45 as a subset of the "Mark n" line)   I can't think of any other adult-sized .22 rifle or pistol that comes close.

     And the point of this list?  There are a lot of guns out there, with a wide range of virtues and failings.  No firearm is perfect for every shooter or application but some are a lot easier to keep running, a lot easier to find experienced users to get advice from, a lot easier to find and buy.  You should own one or more "universal" guns if you're serious about the Second Amendment. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Indiana Gun-Politics Rallies This Past Weekend?

     Nobody told me! Two "Moms..."* groups First-Amendmenting away about the Second at the Statehouse on Saturday.  One pro-gun, one anti.  The antis were few and mewling; there were rather more people on the pro-civil-right side.

     And you'll be shocked, shocked to learn that no violence erupted.  None at all.  There wasn't even mutually assured snarkiness.

     H'mmm.  Maybe "guns" per se aren't the problem?  Y'think?
* I'm guessing I can't really count the cats as "children," right?

Q: When Is A Power Outage A Brain Outage?

     Oh, I know, I know: When it happens at a traffic light.

      All of my life -- and if you live in the U.S., probably all of yours, too -- the rule has been that a traffic light that is out becomes a 4-way stop.

     But never assume that.  Especially when it happens where a major road intersects one of lesser imprortance.  The drivers on the main road just zoom through.

     We had a power outage downtown Sunday and I had the misfortune to be driving through the affected area.  Had to keep changing my route to avoid nightmare intersections.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

"I Want A Cookie"

     Some time back, TradeMark Gunderson mashed up some riffs and a self-improvement tape to produce this--

     So, do you ever feel angry?  Are you paralyzed by your anger?  Don't you want a cookie?

There's Your Daylight Savings, Lady

     Everyone at Roseholme except for one stripy yellow cat managed to sleep three (or four indicated) hours late this morning.  Ha!  And we've got the missing 11 days locked in the basement, too.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Well, Which Is It? (Pugsly I of Venezuala, Overdue Death)

I'm kinda goin' with the version on the tab, especially at his terminal destination, though not so much for him.

     One down, more to go.

I Must Cook Scottishly

   ...'Cos what this man says about the ingredients for stovies is pretty much my preferred way of cooking:

     Also, wherever it is he cooks, I would totally go there for meals.  Be kind of a long walk, though.

Boot Failure: Brain

(Q)uit, (R)etry, (G)et more coffee:__

Friday, March 08, 2013

Godwin! Or, They All Wanna Get To A BlogMeet

     Yes, the rant:

Gee, that nasty little man seems soooo upset. He's not gettin' an invite.

Baofeng UV-5R: Tech, Not Retro

     If you're a geek and an amateur radio operator (but I repeat myself), a $40 full-featured handheld VHF/UHF transceiver is difficult to pass up. I'd been looking at the Baofeng UV-3 and UV-5 models for about a year and Amazon finally sold me one.

     (If you want one, use the "Stuff you need" link to the giant river o'stuff at Tam's: helps her, doesn't cost you one cent more.  Please note they're really only legal for commercial and amateur applications: go putting it on FRS and you're on your own.  Be aware the Feds have no sense of humor about coloring outside the lines.)

     It's tiny!  There's plenty of online help available, too.  I picked up a programming cable at the same time, which proved to be a handy thing.  Sat in the hospital waiting room yesterday programming it via the front-panel buttons (or trying to) and found the procedure unforgiving; I got it to work but you can't skip any steps or do them in the wrong order without having to start over..

     Conversely, the ham "CHIRP" shareware* is about as simple as filling in a spreadsheet with the pertinent info. Using it, I've got my UV-5R programmed to listen to a couple of frequencies in use aboard the starship and have it set up for two-way use on several local ham repeaters, too.

     Repeaters are what make a pocket-sized radio like this useful; in most practical apps, FRS stuff is okay for "just out of sight" comms but past that, it's a coin toss or worse.  Having a good receiver with a high antenna listening for your handheld and relaying your signals to a (relatively) powerful transmitter with another (or even the same) high antenna is a huge force multiplier; just as your cell phone is no good if it can't grab a cell site, a repeater turns a handheld into a "big radio."

     So far, so good -- oh, it's a $40 radio, you don't want to drop it ten feet onto a hard surface -- but for price/performance, it's quite a deal.
* CHIRP will program a lot of different handhelds, worth a look if that's something you ever need to do.


     Drove Tam's Subaru Forester* to and from the doc yesterday and I have to say, it's a pretty nice $2.5K-ish used car -- the interior was well-treated and has held up well and it's fun to drive, with a real, genuine manual transmission that has a slightly truck-like feel.  Power-wise, it's a step up from The Hottest Needle Of Inquiry, my '03 Hyundai Accent, and feels a little more sure-footed.

     I'd like to have one myself but assiduous search has yet to turn one up with the requisite manual gearbox.  Automatic transmissions just bug me; I started out with an ancient-at-the-time "three on the tree" Ford and have done most of my driving in cars that lacked the "advantage" of a laggy, sluggish slushomatic.   ...Back to hunting for that maybe-someday Model A pickup truck....
* RX: "Tamara, you haven't named your car yet!"

Tam: "I don't name cars.  The Zed Drei doesn't have a name, either.  The 'Subie' and the 'Zed Drei.'"

RX: (Gives her an amused look) "So that's their names."

Tam:  (Returns amused look with 6% value-added Feigned Irk)

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Who Knew

...That sitting in a dermatological surgeon's waiting room and fretting all day could be so tiring?  --And that, of course, is as nothing to The Tamara, who is Utterly.Wiped. Out.  She's got about enough energy right now to be online but listen, kids, be nice, okay?

     As an observer with no (so to speak) skin in the game, I can report that Tam still has a nose and that her surgeon is reportedly a man with very good hands and an excellent esthetic sense who sews quite neatly indeed.  That doesn't mean healing will be overnight or that it won't take awhile for my lodger to be quite herself.  "Tincture of time" is the answer and we'd best all have a sip when the bottle comes 'round.

I'd Write Something Engaging And Witty

     ...Except it's Tam's cancer-surgery day and--  Lookit, if you take a moment and think positive thoughts or suchlike, that'd be a good thing.

Coffee Is A Weapon!

     Coffee stops thugs.  Over and over.  Yet airline stewpersons happily pour you a nice hot cup of it.  Is it because they have multiple big pots of nice hot java?

     So would they be okay with your dinky penknife if they were given fixed-blade knives more than 2.3" long and 0.5" wide, with molded grips? 

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

N.B.: A Penknife Is Not A Weapon

     TSA -- TSA! -- has decided you can carry a tiny knife (non-locking, non-fixed, 2.3" long by 0.5" wide) on a plane, plus a number of club-like sporting sticks (pool cues, lacrosse and hockey sticks, etc.) and bed-wetters, media figures and stewardesses are horrified.  "What weapons are next?" they moan.

     Golly gee, I dunno; maybe all those other things people in all the non-plane-travel portions of your day routinely carry, 99.99999% of the time without harming others?

     Grow up.  Penknives are not weapons in most people's hands -- and the tiny, terrible minority of people who will initiate force are just as deadly with a pen or pencil, a knitting needle or a flattened, bent and torn soft-drink can; you know, the kind of aluminum can you hand them on most flights?

Amateur Radio Gets The Message Through

     Over at her blog, Tam relates observing a particularly new and specialized kind of holster-sniffer: a (possible ham) radio enthusiast with a DHS yen.

     While guys like that are sometimes encountered in ham radio, along with a gun-show level of OFWGism, there is one difference: some of those fellows with antenna-bristling cars are doing Good And Useful Work.

     Storm-spotting, for instance; about 50 percent of all Skywarn storm-spotters are amateur radio operators and in some place --Indiana, for instance -- well more than half of the information passed to the National Weather Service comes in via ham radio.

     The Feds have a whole volunteer organization of amateurs, signed up, trained and on-tap for Federally-declared emergencies.  In WW II, it took half a year (at least) from the wartime shut-down of ham radio to the formation of the War Emergency Radio Service, which provided communications for natural disasters and in support of Civil Defense efforts.  That seems a bit long, so the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service was formed in 1952, unfortunate acronym and all.

    For emergencies of less-than-WW II scope, a parallel organization set up and run by the U.S. and Canadian national ham clubs (ARRL and RAC, respectively) called ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) provides communication support.

     What do RACES and ARES do, exactly?  After all, police/fire/EMT services have their own radios these days, with local coverage every bit as good as any bunch of hobbyists, right?  Yep; but A) they're not the only game in town (a prominent example, check your local Red Cross building for antennas; they make extensive use of ham volunteers in emergencies);  B) there's a lot of admin traffic that normally uses the telephone or internet and while a lot of it may go by the wayside in an emergency, there's still plenty left; C) there are a great deal of "welfare" messages in and out of a disaster area; if there is telephone service, it is often overwhelmed and if there isn't -- in either case, there's ham radio, with yet another bunch of volunteers, who relay messages for the fun of it; outside of emergencies, they're by law about trivial matters only -- "Having a wonderful time, wish you were here" -- but after a hurricane or whatever, it may be the only way Great-Uncle Hank can tell you he's okay.

     Mind you, any of these organizations can be clique-y; no doubt some of the membership are outright, monomanical geeks.  But it's geekery in harness and when it is needed, it pulls its own weight.


     Storm, not as bad as predicted here.  Indianapolis public schools aren't even running late this morning.  No real shortage of auto accidents -- fender bender/slide off/too fast for conditions -- but it's not like the city's been immobilized or anything.

      Kinda disappointing. But it sure is purty!

     Is this the same "I'm ready for my close-up" squirrel I've photographed before?
  I'd taken a slightly wider shot that was too dark when I realized the rodent was posing - and even turned to face me for the next picture! Out of focus though it is, I had to share.

Winter Storm Watch This!

     Wednesday morning -- this morning -- may be filled with windshield-scraping and other, less savory tasks, as the "snow" was rain-to-slush-to-snow, the temperature is headed down overnight and it's liable to all be a nice thick layer of ice by the morning.

     To add to the fun, I need to head straight to the seldom-visited North Campus in the morning  -- seldom-visited includes visits from Mr. Snowplow and it will be a long slog through the cold if it hasn't been.

     Thus, this: automatic filler in case I don't have time to do more.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Dinner And A Show

...Archer and a gourmet chicken pot pie (fresh veggies, flaky crust and all) from the Upscale Grocer's: not too bad a way to spend a slushy, snowy evening.

Demoted, Promoted, Bisard Case, Words Fail Me

     In 2010, not long after IMPD officer David Bisard -- on duty, in a patrol car and who may have been inebriated at the time -- struck a group of motorcyclists, injured two and and killed one, three of the highest-ranking IMPD officials who were on the scene during the terribly flawed investigation got demoted, knocked right down to plain old Police Lieutenant.  It wasn't much more than a gesture but it was at least that much: evidence was egregiously mishandled under their oversight and being set down a few steps was at least some acknowledgment of this failure.

     Now two of them have been promoted right back up.  Yep, one is now Assistant Chief and the other's a District Commander.

     I've written in the past of the danger of police becoming a sort of equestrian order, like their Roman counterparts or the mare familiar knights of medieval Europe, privileged enforcers protecting the powerful elite and themselves at the expense of the average guy; this is suggestive of that trend.

     And David Bisard?  Still walking around, free as a bird  He won't go to trial until this Fall at the earliest, up in Allen County (Ft. Wayne), where it is presumed they can find jurors who haven't already made up their minds.  If he'd been J. Random Not-An-LEO, would justice have been so delayed, evidence poorly collected and handled?  Somehow, I doubt it.  Let a regular guy get in even a fender-bender and look tipsy, and off he goes to an Official Collecting Location ASAP and if the sample comes up hot, he's charged that same day and run through the system with all due speed.

     We are fortunate indeed that most police officers are good people -- or as good as most folks -- who take seriously the line about "protect and serve."  One can only hope it will remain ever thus.

Monday, March 04, 2013


     So, what do you do after you've stepped in it really badly with one of your best friends?  I'm no good at all with this "human" stuff.  :(  Hurts like hell to hurt other people's feelings, though.

Anti-Gun Sheriff Ignorant Of Law

     Lake County, Indiana Sheriff John Buncich doesn't understand Indiana firearms law and he's hostile to your rights.  He sure does appear to like Chicago law, though, which might explain why he asked -- no, demanded -- Lake County Commissioners bar private sales at local gun shows.  They refused; it's a moot discussion anyway, as that's not a power local governments even have in this state. So far, gun shows are doing better than ever up there.

    It seems Sheriff Buncich -- a lifelong Democrat -- picked up his strange notions at a big "summit" put on by Cook County Illinois Sheriff Tom Dart, who finds gun shows a lot easier to blame for Chicago violence than that city's gangs (among other things, people at gun shows aren't nearly so dangerous to infiltrate).

     Anti-rights bigotry: it oozes over borders, aided by ambitious, ignorant politicians.  Hey, Sheriff Buncich, try to remember which side of the border you're on -- and what the laws are in this state. Oh, and you might want to control actual illegal gun sales by members of your department before you complain about legal sales by other citizens.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Yes! YesYesyesyes YES! Also, Music

     You like free ice cream.  You like cinnamon.  Suddenly, someone hands you a nice free bowl of vanilla ice cream with cinnamon on it.

     Now you know just a little bit how I felt when I learned the delightful lunacy of the Evolution Control Committee (and others)  had been turned loose -- with official approval, bit of a first for TradeMark Gunderson -- on the music of Raymond Scott and they were giving away free samples of the samples.

 Here's a thing:
     I don't know when the associated album will be released -- "sometime this year" is as definite as anyone knows -- but I'm buying that CD when it comes out. Oh, yeah.

My Friends Are Loony

     It's 28 degrees out there and not predicted to get a whole lot warmer.  So -- of course --Shootin' Buddy has invited Tam to the 2013 Opening Day today at Eagle Creek Park Pistol & Archery Range, our nice city-owned outdoor shooting range.

     I ain't a-goin'.  It's 28 degrees out there and not predicted to get a whole lot warmer.  Now the genuinely tacti-kewl amongst my readership may look askance at this plan, but see, I'm an old maid; if the temperature drops below 40, I wear gloves (gloves thin enough to shoot in, unless I am driving or have to motorscooter).  If I am set upon by wintertime malefactors, it will all be over before I have time to notice the cold.  Conversely and among the less-likely of scenarios, if I find myself in the midst of a winter war, I'm not gonna make it; I'll do my best to make it count but my path probably doesn't lead all the way through.

     I'm okay with that.  If I have to go freeze my freezable self, I will, but as long as it's optional?  Nope.  I don't do the biathalon and I don't hunt polar bears (they hunt right back!).  Next weekend will be warmer and rainy, a good combination for visiting the outdoor range (the firing line has a roof!),

Saturday, March 02, 2013


     Take it for what it's worth -- it was a comment over at Charles Stross's blog -- but oh, dear:
From anecdotal evidence, the two branches at university libraries that have the biggest problem with stolen books are law and theology.
     Most politicians are lawyers. A few are theologians. If I was looking to recover stolen books, I know whose libraries I'd check first, and it wouldn't be the members of those two groups who aren't holding or running for office.

Revolver: WANT

     The "Lipsey's Exclusive" Ruger Bearcat "Shopkeeper" model .22 revolver.  Squee!  Alas, biggo bux.

Hey-- Penalize Enemies, Not Friends

     When you run Magpul, you'll get to decide their specific policies.  These are the guys prioritizing pre-ban mags for Coloradans, and (AFAIK) leaving the state over the draconian new laws.  Fine, fine, they'll sell banned-to-non-police gear to individual officers in those unfriendly states; it's a judgement call.  I do not see it as a deal-breaker.

     You don't like it?  I'm not thrilled myself; but two big attaboys are not cancelled by one middlin'-small awsh!t.  Take what we can get and keep movin', there's bigger fish who need to be feeling the heat.

     (See Comments for a very nice statement from Magpul outlining the policy in detail.)

Superhero Theorizing

     ...What if the original, 1911-wielding Batman was replaced early on by a psychopath who gets his thrills exposing a young sidekick to increasingly dangerous situations?  Consider -- darned few Robins survive to voting age unscathed.  At least two of them have been killed.  And he doesn't even have the option of firearms to help extricate them from imminent threat.

     I'm just wondering.  I mean, c'mon, what do we really know of the current "Bruce Wayne?"  His story keeps changing, depending on who's telling it.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Too Kewl: The Ghast In The Hat

     Or is it Horton hears A Night-Gaunt?  Robb Allen linked to it first but it's too good not to: there's an artist retelling H. P. Lovecraft in the style of Dr. Seuss -- art and rhyme alike!

     R. J. Ivankovic is a genius.  Are they going to freak out at the children's library when these show up?  One can only hope!

     As Ted Geisel, a loyal left-winger of the WW II generation wrote, "Look what we found in the park in the dark.  Will our parents like it?  We don't know."