Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Another Morning

     I was a little down last night.  Feeling kind of trapped -- I want to write more, but I'm coming home from work just exhausted. 

     Clearly, I need to take more vitamin B or something.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Poached Eggs Plus!

     Week before last, I bought a couple of clever egg poachers made of silicone rubber at Agrarian.  (Like this, though better via the "Stuff you need" link at Tam's)

     They work like nobody's business when it comes to poaching eggs -- and even better at one of my favorite tricks: take thin slice of ham, salami or the like and line the poaching cup with it (sometimes you have to make some radial cuts in the meat), then break an egg into it.  This morning I tried it with some paper-thin Jamon Serrano, Spanish "mountain-cured ham," which is a rare and wonderful treat.  I put a little Colby Jack on the eggs in the last couple of minutes and the combination was remarkably tasty.

     The result looks fancy, too, despite being about as close to zero-effort as cooking gets.  The eggs pop right out of the poachers; a quick swipe of paper towel and the poachers are ready for the dishwasher.

      Relatedly: sliced brioche looks like bread but is tricky to toast.  It's so rich it tends to burn.  Worth the effort, though.  This is the stuff Marie Antoinette was talking about when she said, of peasants rioting over the lack of bread, "...then let them eat cake."  Pretty sure they would'a if they could, Queenie.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Saturday, Shootyday

     I took my H&R Model 999 to the range at Indy Arms Company, with the just-installed new rear sight the Data Viking had located on eBay, and shot a scary ghost face in the target at 21 feet:

     This is about a hundred rounds of .22, and "dialing in" the sights consisted of me working out if they were set for point of aim atop the front sight or covered by it.  I set the rear sight at home by lining it up with the barrel.  I don't know about long guns, but if your pistol sights aren't lined up with the point of impact when centered on the barrel or slide, it may be time to reevaluate your shooting technique; the manufacturers do go to great lengths to align the bore with the gun.

     Here's what I brung:

     L-R, Sistema Colt, H&R 999, Astra "Constable" (thank you, MK!) and an Iver Johnson TP-22. (On the latter two, "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to use a .22 clone.")  Alas, the little Iver Johnson wasn't happy, but the rest of them ran fine.  My .45 ACP shooting is not so good, with six or seven rounds out of fifty in the 9-ring at 21 feet.  They're all supposed to go in the center!  The gun does hammer-bite a little and that's not helping -- I don't want to put a modern beavertail on this nice old gun, so it is what it is.

"Shut This Off. Shut All Of These Off."

     Ever notice that when there is a "government shutdown" in the United States, Congress and the Internal Revenue Service appear to be exempt? And somehow there's always plenty of money to pay the people who fence off the various monuments and memorials, and padlock the National Parks....

Sunday, September 27, 2015

No Good Deed Goes Unthreatened?

     Indianapolis has a violence problem.  Oh, Chicago has a murder rate well ahead of ours, but the city's record is far from admirable; about the best you can say is that the past couple of years have not been worse than the previous worst year.

     Most of the killing seems to be drug/gang related; true in the 1920s, still true today, and for much the same reason, laws that create a lucrative underground market.*  A few years ago, group of local ministers and concerned citizens decided to step up and do something by forming the Ten Point Coalition.  Both proactive and reactive, Ten Point members patrol high-profile events like the Indiana Black Expo/Summer Celebration and this weekend's Circle City Classic and show up at crime scenes, talking with young people, trying to head off trouble before it starts and generally being visible and involved.  I don't know how you'd measure results, but violence at public events does seem to be down since they started making their rounds.  At least they're trying something.

     It may have some bad guys bothered, though the evidence is far from reassuring: Friday night, Coalition members showed up at a murder scene IMPD was working and were threatened by some angry young men.  It appears to have been a credible threat, not idle talk.

     ...And Saturday, Ten Point Coalition members, in their distinctive bright-yellow safety vests bearing the group's name, were walking among the crowds downtown for the Circle City Classic.  Undaunted.

     I rail about "do-gooders" from time to time but I make an exception for people who contribute sweat equity, who put that hands and backs where their words are.  The Ten Point Coalition has way more of that than most groups.  I suspect we'd disagree on many fine points of religion and politics but I agree with them on the general goal of making this city a better place.

     Want to do good?  Then be good.  Even in the face of threats.
* Don't like the killing?  Then don't buy drugs.  Not even pot.  Sheesh, you can take a bus to states where that stuff is as legal as church on the Sabbath if you choose to indulge.  Yes, I'm an anarcho-capitalist and I think whatever you wanna put in your body is your choice, but actions do have consequences.  When you do business with criminals, you're underwriting their crimes, malum in se as well as malum prohibitum.  Moral behavior requires a road trip, gardening skills and/or home chemistry.†
     † As a chronic pain sufferer, let me remind readers that spinning a really convincing tale of woe to an M.D. does not count as moral behavior, and just makes it more difficult for people who actually need painkillers to get them.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Hole In The Sky

     There was a hole in the sky yesterday.

     I don't know why.  This kind of phenomenon is, of course, characteristic of the smallish "bell" or "bowler hat" Far Edge starships, but if one of them had Jumped there would have been quite a boom, which surely would have been noticed.  Also, it's a violation of the Agreement of 1989 to do so over an inhabited area.

     Skies were just a bit odd yesterday.

     Very pretty, though.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Musical Interlude

     ....Mr. Artie Shaw and the band:

     I knew the tune but not the title or artist.  Shaw, who was a complicated guy (and that's a drastic simplification!)  crafted his own epitaph: "He did the best he could with the material at hand."  While speaking to a college music class, one of the students mentioned having read this and the elderly Shaw replied, "...I've been thinking it over and I've decided it ought to be shorter, to make it more elegant." And after a brief pause, "I've cut it down to two words: 'Go away.'"

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Vibration Dampers From Outer Space?

     They're used on guy wires and long support cables.  They prevent or reduce "aeolian vibration," which is to say, they keep the wind from playin' 'em like a harp.  Literally.  It's lovely when it's an instrument designed for the purpose but it can destroy large structures.
      So we damp it out.  Modern computer analysis has replaced the traditional hollow bell-type damper with a kind of dumbbell, effective over a wider range of frequencies and without the water-retaining properties of the older type.
     But they sure do look freaky.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Seen At The Hardware Store

    The big Ace Hardware in a neighborhood between Broad Ripple and the Skunk Works North Campus has a lot of fasteners and small findings of all types.  All types:
Gun screws!

     Have I mentioned recently how much I love this town?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Report From The Front

     The following has been slightly modified, to protect the guilty:

Dear REMF:

     Troops arrived promptly on schedule; ammunition and supplies, scheduled to be available here not later than Friday last, instead arrived four hours later.  Ammunition was mostly in the wrong caliber; after considerable delay, a small amount was matched to one (1) gun.  I'm told the big shells may not be here for quite some time.  Your office expressed somewhat whimsical mild dismay when I made inquiries.

     No communication equipment of any kind was sent.  When asked, your office replied that it was "hardwired into a box we don't usually send for squad-level jobs," and asked if perhaps I had something I could lend.

     After an entire day of what could, with charity, be described as slight progress, I was informed that one-third of the men you sent were for that day only, and will be transported elsewhere starting this morning.

     The enemy was not contacted.  This is just as well, for with support like yours, all they really need to do is keep their boots polished and their teeth brushed until we have defeated ourselves.

     Very sincerely,
     Lt. R. J. Ecks

Monday, September 21, 2015

Oh, Dark Thirty

     And is it ever.  I'm up ahead of the roosters to get ready to meet a tower crew at the North Campus.  So far, this project has proceeded, as Tam says, "grabastically," no word from the contractor for a couple of months, then a huge flurry of waste motion on short notice.

     I stayed close to home on Friday (a day off), as they supposedly had a truckload of supplies arriving. (This after a lot of back-and-forth Thursday on paying for the supplies in advance between my employer and the engineering firm who hired the tower crew.)  The crew boss called me at noon to advise they were still waiting and would call me as soon as they heard from the driver.  Never happened and when I called at 6:30 p.m., the crew boss sheepishly told me the truck had "had some kind of trouble," wouldn't be in town until Monday, and "I, unh, forgot to call you." 

     Not a good sign.  Tower crews tend to be "salt of the earth" types, willing to work long hours applying uncommon skills to dangerous tasks, but the crews are extremely tight-knit, quick to take offense and stubborn as the day is long.  I'm hoping their noses aren't much out of joint but if they stubborn up on me, oh well; I get paid by the hour and I'm happy to spend part of the day e-mailing up and down through my bosses and theirs until the work gets properly done.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Targets From Friday

     I don't want to brag -- really, I don't.  So I'm not. I think the guy in the bay to my left was working on weak-hand drills.  Even if not, his target is a cut above the usual "Swiss cheese."
     Still, it's undeniably gratifying.  Seven yards, as usual.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Colt 1911A1 in .38 Super Automatic

     1930s 1960s handgun on a 1930s radio magazine, because I can.
     I still need to have a modern barrel fitted to this gun, as I'm pretty sure this one headspaces on the semi-rim.  This does not help accuracy -- and I will take all the help I can get.

Potatoes O'Brien, Pan-Fried Pancetta And An All-American Egg:

     When it comes to breakfast, I am an internationalist of the Very Worst Sort.  I'm thinkin' longing thoughts about French blueberry preserves and (U.S.-made, ooooo they're insidious) European-style butter slathered on nicely toasted Vermont bread,* too.

     (BTW, Land'O'Lakes does a fine Eurostyle butter.  Oh, my heart belongs to Kerrygold, but my head and my pocketbook are thinkin' the home team is giving them quite a run. And it's more widely available.  Try it -- it'll ruin you for the usual kind)
* "Remember when the euphemism was in a drafty little wasp-infested Chick Sale out back?  When women weren't allowed to drive or vote?  When swarthy folk had to keep to the gutter?  Quaint Bread Company does!  Man, back then a lot of things just plain sucked!"

Friday, September 18, 2015

Pac-Light Solutions!

     Tactical Solutions responded promptly to my telephone message, at least as I measure "prompt" in my trade -- they called me about 2:40 this afternoon and after a short discussion, offered to send me a couple of the proper screws (4-40), free!  Once he had my address, the technical support guy started to suggest I put a drop of Loctite on it at the same time I started to asked him if I should use the stuff, so I'm taking that as a good sign.

     They're good folks.  I liked their receiver on my Ruger Mk. II from the very first and this degree of responsiveness over a ten-cent part that I should've been keeping a closer eye on after the first time it loosened up (after thousands of rounds) is impressive.  They build a first-rate product and have provided first-rate support.

     I happened to be barely off the range when he called and had just washed up in the little prep/clean-up area at Indy Arms Co. I don't suppose the occasional background boom from someone shooting on the rifle range hurt my credibility any.

     As for the range trip itself, the Ruger/Pac-Lite ran fine through a hundred rounds with my temporary repair. I switched to the EAA Witness Compact* (a small-sized CZ-75 clone made by Tanfoglio) in .38 Super Auto to finish out the session.  Pro tip: Winchester white box .38SA in short-barreled firearms produces an impressive flash.  It's not any dirtier than anybody else's and the recoil is not noticeably different, but it's great big stupid fun if you're not inclined to flinch.  Me, I dropped three flyers low and left, I think right into the eight nine ring (see photos to follow), each one at the start of a string.  Anticipating?  Probably.

Mine's the one in the center of the image.
     Otherwise, I kept almost everything within the ten ring (the two on the edge count as nine).  Not terrible at seven yards.
* EAA has their fans and detractors but in my experience, the little metal-framed Witness in 9 and .38SA has been good right out of the box.  They had big, three-dot sights as standard and they run without any "tuning" or fiddling.  Not the Ferrari of guns, no -- but mine shoot nicely and dependably and like any good gun, they're more accurate than the shooter.  A used Witness in decent shape is a good value.  There has been one safety notice that I know of but it tells you right in it what to do.

Pac-Lite Problems

     The Pac-Lite upper on my Ruger Mk. II .22 pistol is a source of much joy, a big improvement for the little target handgun -- except for the small machine screw that holds the ejector to the upper.

     It has gotten loose in the past and been tightened, but this time when the gun started having feeding and ejection problems, I took it apart (paperclip, toolmaker's hammer, brass punch, mild cursing) to find the screw gone!  Looks like a flat-head 4-40 x 3/16" and probably mild steel.  I put in a binder head, brass, and will see if it runs more than a couple of rounds.  (Liable to shear, which may be unfun.)  Reassembled with the usual grief, wooden mallet and a lot of test-fitting.  It's not that the Mk. II is all that difficult to take apart and put back together, it's just very different to most handguns and has a higher "have to hold your mouth right" quotient.

       I've got a call in to Pac-Lite and I'll be investing in some Loctite once I lay hands on the proper hardware -- may have to buy a bag of 50 or more from McMaster-Carr to get decent quality if I can't shake one out of the manufacturer.

Early Morning

     I have some appointments to take care of early on, so this first post will be short (shortish, anyway). 

     Tam and I walked over to Fat Dan's Deli for supper last night and lo, they had live music -- a talented singer-guitarist with a collection of effects boxes, which turns out to add up to better than a full four-piece group back in my youth.  He did everything from Stevie Ray Vaughn to Pink Floyd, with a side tip to do a cover of -- of all things! -- the old standard, Fever.  Except for Wish You Were Here, which he did pretty much by the numbers and impressively so, the covers appeared to be his own arrangments and very good ones.

     The food was good, too.  I had the smoked meatloaf sandwich (amazing, but enough for two) and their coleslaw.  The slaw was competent, though no one quite does the sweet/pepper/tart slaw I remember from childhood.  Malt vinegar took care of some of that and a condiment raid would've fixed the rest -- but it was fresh and crunchy and I was wresting a nearly-cubical slab of meatloaf at the time.  Tam went with her usual spicy wings and a nice craft beer.  Far Dan's had the garage-door front window opened up and we sat at a sidewalk table just outside it, jazz floating over between sets from the Jazz Kitchen, catty-corner across College Avenue while people floated up and down the sidewalk about the various eateries and night spots of SoBro and the sun slowly snuck down behind the buildings.  Not so bad a way to spend an evening, even with a long walk home by streetlight and flashlight.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

See Previous Post

     I'm keeping today's short so you'll read the previous one.  Frank would be the first to tell us that life goes on.  --And so it does, but there's time to pause a little and reflect.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Difficult Goodbye

     In some ways, entering into adult life is like going to a big party at an isolated house.  At first, you don't know anyone.  You can't follow the jokes.  You don't know who's who; you arrive with some people you know, but they drift away, one and two at a time, and you encounter one another less often...

     Eventually you start catching on.  And wow, some of the people at the party, they're amazing!  Sure, there are bores and braggarts and blowhards, too, but my heavens, the really fine people are such a delight to know...

     After some time, you're there in the thick of things and the party's really rolling along.  And then -- just then, you start to notice that some of the people who were there ahead of you, some of the brightest lights, are less and less evident.  Some of them are just plain missing.  Even a few of the people who arrived when you did, gone.

     There are all these new faces, more all the time, and some of them are pretty sharp, too, but fewer and fewer of the folks you looked up to, mentors, friends....

     Gone.  Stan, Ricky, Jeff, Don, Dave--

     One of the best men I ever knew, generous with his time, his knowledge and his heart, bigger than life and with a laugh to match, is gone.  Frank W. James has left this world.  My condolences to his family.

     Don't know what else to say.  Farewell, Frank Fare well.


     I certainly wish I had sommthing to say, but I'm still recovering from the oddball-early shifts on Sunday and Monday.  Sleepwalked though Tuesday, really, and hope to do better today. 

     Broad Ripple is a wonderful place to live and having been born in Indianapolis, grown up mostly on Indiana and lived in this city for the past thirty-four years, I want to stay.  My job is pretty good these days, way more tolerable than what many people do for a living.  But swing shifts, even just one week in three, are not doing me any good at all.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


     I nearly always have a book in progress.  For the last week and a half, it's been the Jo Walton "Small Change" series: Farthing, Ha'Penny and Half A Crown.  I stumbled onto it quite by happenstance, having first stumbled across the stranger-than-fiction Mitford sisters, the six highly assorted daughters of a titled British family, who have fictional parallels in the second book.  The first book was written as a standalone and in a little bit of a hurry, and its character model -- indeed, they loom over the entire series -- is the Clivenden set, a group of aristocratic Britons who (allegedly) favored making peace with Hitler's Germany.

     The setting is Great Britain in 1949 -- but not our 1949: The UK negotiated with the Third Reich after Dunkirk, the U.S. never entered the war (or even did much Lend-Leasing), Pearl Harbor (presumably) remains intact and Continental Europe is a fascist hell, locked in a slow struggle with the Soviet Union.  Against this setting, there's a murder at Clivede-- whups, Farthing Castle and Scotland Yard springs into action in the form of Inspector Carmichael.  Everyone, it seems, has something to hide and him no less than any of his suspects.*

     As the series goes on, things in the UK go from bad to worse -- the government is, after all, buddy-buddy with Hitler -- and each book gives the reader a kind of binocular view, with Carmichael solving a crime and alternate chapters following someone else involved in it.  I found the books engrossing.

     What helped illuminate them was watching the second series of BBC's The Hour at the same time.  It takes place in the very real Britain of 1956 - 57 and uses the Suez Crisis and government/police corruption to tell spy/mystery stories what is ostensibly a TV show about a weekly newsmagazine roughly similar to 60 Minutes. It's a little bit of a soap opera at the same time.  If you liked The Man Who Would Be Bond, you might like The Hour.

     I've been watching and reading other things, including A Blink Of The Screen, a collection of Terry Pratchett's short fiction that is not to be missed, and a wonderful biopic, Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles but I'm out of time to write about them this morning.
* Fair warning to those who want Hollywood's 1949: Carmichael is gay and extremely closeted.  In every other respect, his is a role that could be played by Bogart with some coaching for accent.  Indeed, Walton tells us elsewhere, he'd like nothing so much as to be a very conventional fictional detective, who wraps up everything in the last chapter.  But if discreet hints of same-sex domestictity bother you, read some other books instead.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday Is The Cruelest Month

     ...If you know what I mean.  And I already know there's likely to be a problem with the primary repeating indicator for phlogiston levels; there's another one across the very same main line that does work, but its output cannot be thrown on the same kinetographic linkage as the one that's on the blink.  So I may have to uncouple it, read the old gauges and run the thing by hand.

     Not that there's anything wrong with that, except I cannot hear the sounder from the command staff in the gallery unless I leave the engine-room door open, which the throttlemen do not like.  But they'd like running aground a good deal less, so there is that.

     I certainly hope there's coffee on.

     (In related news, a bit of chorizo sausage works well cooked in with corned beef hash and eggs [and onion and green pepper] but it does raise the question: why not just skip the canned hassh, dice a potato, and fry it up with four times as much chorizo?  No reason, of course.  I'm going to have to try that.)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Broad Ripple Scenery

     Friday night, I made a quick run to the grocer's just at sunset -- and what a sunset!

      Then on Saturday, I'd walked to lunch at the same corner and was walking back when this came by:

      Oh, Broad Ripple!

Friday, September 11, 2015

11 September

     One is supposed, in the circles I frequent, to put up some kind of post marking the horrors perpetrated this day by a relatively small group of fanatics acting at the behest of a larger, loosely-organized group of more of the same.

     I suppose it is uncharitable of me to look back to 7 December, 1955.  Pearl Harbor was certainly not forgotten, but a soundly-beaten Japan was busily building civil, democratic society and government; the war in the Pacific was long past and with it, rationing, firebomb balloons and internment camps.  The Korean war-after-the-war  was two years past. The second Red Scare was winding down; Senator McCarthy had been censured by his peers a year earlier and while the McCarran Act was in its fifth year, the clock was ticking.  We had defeated the enemy and war-inspired incursions on liberty were fading.

     In 2015, the free world is still boxing with fog.  Governments offer lip service to freedom while they read our e-mail and tap our phones -- or (at least on paper) have their allies do so while we do the same for them, just to keep it "legal."  No matter what party is in the White House or holds a majority in Congress, the Feds are as transparent as clay-laden Hoosier mud.  But my, oh my, won't we hear about "9/11" all day today, and what kind of weirdo are you if you don't go along.  It is trotted out as justification for everything from walling up the borders to tapping everyone's telephones, restricting firearms sales and arresting reporters, secret courts and vast data-harvesting programs, all of it with barely a single public trial, under a vast umbrella agency that's supposed to be putting together the Big Picture but appears to define everything outside its own bureaucracy as The Enemy.  The most public charges have been not against terrorists but against whistle-blowers, the Press that's supposed to be, however idealistic and/or misguided, a bulwark of freedom.  Ah, but they're traitors now that they shine a light into dark corners!

     Yeah, well--  Win the damn war and kick the barbarians into at least the 20th Century if not the 21st, then get back to me.  More than 2,500 people were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, the majority in uniform and we went on to fight and win a nasty war and a lasting peace; nearly 3,000 were murdered on 9/11, nearly all of them civilians, and what we got was a lot of rah-rah BS and unwinnable police actions that killed and maimed good men.  I mourn the deaths and condemn the sneak attacks that caused them -- but warping American society into some kind of smiley-faced fascism isn't going to prevent more of the same, nor does it address the problem at its root.

     A big chunk of the world is busy burning itself down right now, Reichstag fires writ large, holy wars, pogroms, civil wars, the kind of nightmare in which the brutal flourish and decent folk flee.  The free world appears to be hoping the conflagration will stop at our borders.  Don't count on it.

Cloud Actors?

     Here, the Water Vapor Players re-enact an historic event:
     The wreck of the airship Hindenburg!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Everybody's A Critic

     Y'don't say?

     My lettering, Tam's words. 

City Flag

     Indianapolis has the eighth-best city flag in the United States, according to a survey of vexillologists -- then again, they rated Chicago's the highest, so I'm not so sure I'd trust them.

     If you're at all familiar with the city, the flag makes good sense, with Monument Circle at the heart of downtown.  Strictly speaking, the main east-west road, Washington Street, old U.S. 40, runs a block south, while Market Street intersects the Circle, then dead-ends a block west in front of the State Capitol building.  But who's counting?  "Crossroads of America," the motto reads, and the Circle's our crossroads and there's Hoosier logic for you in a nutshell.

     I work at one of a very small number of businesses that fly the city flag -- on one of the few blocks where two different buildings fly the whole array of national, state and city flags.  It's kind of inspiring, sappy though that may sound.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Who Knew--

     --That there was so much crossover between the terms and concepts used in telephony and intelligence collection?  Okay, it's kind of obvious in hindsight, but it does give one to wonder: what would our phone system be like without spies?  Or, conversely, how much did the big old monolithic telephone system resist direct government access to its internal systems and record-keeping, and to what extent did that drive the breakup -- and subsequent re-accretion in a much more co-operative form -- of AT&T?

     For instance: clearing.


Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Monday, September 07, 2015

Happy Labor Day

     ...Y'darned commie!

     They moved it from 1 May, y'know, so the U.S. would not get took over.  Futile?  You scoff?  Hey, we're not quite taken over yet.  At least it must've slown* 'em down some.
* Yeah.  "Slown."  Don't stop me, I'm on a roll.


Saturday, September 05, 2015

Home On The Range?

     I went back to Indy Arms Co. yesterday to shoot.  Yay!

    Sixty or so rounds of .22 from my Ruger Mk. II:

    Add another sixty in 9mm from the EAA Witness Compact:
     With flyers, darn it.  See the one way out there, about 8 o'clock on the 8/7 line?  I flinched.

     Here's the shooter's-eye view.  About that blurry for me, too, when I (try to) focus on the front sight.

     Wanna shoot gooder?  I'm not an expert.  I'm not even much of a shot.
     Here are tips I have picked up from others, who shoot much better:

     1.  Take a basic class in gun-handling.  Learn how the thing works and how to hold and handle it.  Learn the Four Rules.  Apply them.  Consider other classes but concentrate on mechanics -- you can learn how to be tactical once you have learned how to shoot.

     2. Turn time and money into noise for twenty years.  Seriously, spend more money on range time and ammo than equipment.  Put in as much time on the range as you can manage and leave the fancy gun and trick sights for later, if ever.  Shooting is a learned skill.  Maybe some people have a knack -- but the person who shoots a lot and carefully can outshoot the "natural."  Most guns shoot fine.  Most people could shoot better.

     3.  Focus on the front sight.  Put it on the target and align the back sight.  Line them all up, both sights and target, and squeeeeze the trigger in a single easy motion.

     4. Don't push yourself to go faster until you are hitting the center consistently.  Push yourself to go smoother.

     5. If you're no good at seven yards, start closer and move out a little at a time.  15 or even 12 feet is okay for beginners.

     6. Hold the gun as high on the grips as you safely can.  You don't want a gap between your hands, either.  Hold the gun tighter than seems necessary.  Use both hands, this is not 1804 and you're not Burr or Hamilton. 

     7. Start with a .22, you're a lot less likely to have to unlearn a flinch.  Start with a semi-auto, they're easier to get competent with.  Once you're comfy, consider a double-action .22 revolver to improve trigger control.

     8. When your hands start to waver, when you have trouble focusing on the front sight, when it's not fun to see a hole show up in the target, that range trip is over.  Wash up and go do something else.

Paging Hector Bywater! Red Courtesy Phone, Please...

     Make that Red with some little gold stars.  Our buddies in Red China miss the Cold War, I guess, or at least would like to combine making cheap stuff for the world, U. S. especially, with the rankest sort of saber-rattling.

     How rank?  Here ya go:  the PLA taking Okinawa and knocking out a U. S. carrier group. Ain't they just sumpin'?

     "Si vis pacem, para bellum," the ancients remind us; but there's an important distinction between para bellum and outright bellicosity.  At present, this is largely fantasy, all but the Mach 10 missiles, about which hoping for poor QC may be the most effective defense presently available.

     Video -- and excellent discussion -- found at The Unwanted Blog, q.v.

     Oh, Hector Bywater?  He he was a journalist who wrote up the war in the Pacific between the U.S. and Japan -- in 1925.  Got most of it right, too, and died mysteriously as the real thing was warming up in the wings.

     World War Three: more a matter of "when" than "if."  Gather rosebuds while ye may.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Indy Arms Co.: A Visit

     Indy Arms Co., the gun shop in my neighborhood at last!  I've shot on their range three times, peered at the display cases, purchased ammo and picked up a range membership....
     Indy Arms Co. is a nice place.  The staff is friendly.
     This is the check-in area for the range. See the big monitor? (The one that's lit up.)   It covers both ranges.  There's an RO in the range while you're shooting, too.

     The pistol bay is six lanes, clean, quiet (they have some kind of high-density sound blocking/absorbing material on walls at and in back of the line) and well lit.  This was photographed from the washing-up area.  There's a "sound lock" between it and the ranges -- yes, there's a rifle range, too.  I haven't been in there yet.  (It doesn't have a viewing window.  Pistol-bullet-resistant windows are merely costly -- rifle bullets come out with a tad more zip.)

     The store has a women's section and it's not pink guns.  The belts are less utilitarian-looking than the usual holster-hanger, but strong and well-made.  And they have a nice selection of carry handbags.  Just out of the frame, there's a display case of "unisex" off-body carry hardware -- notebooks and such.  They've got a nice assortment of holsters, too. 

     I like their range a lot and it appears to like me:
     I seem to do okay there.  That's fifty rounds of .22 LR at seven yards, all inside a roughly B-27-sized ten-ring.  Mostly the Ruger Mk. II, a few from my High-Standard R-101 revolver.  Want more of a challenge?  Okay; the range is over forty feet long and there's a light dimmer for every position.

     The Grand Opening of Indy Arms Co. will be September 11, 12 and 13.  Come check the place out!

So, This Morning's Breakfast

     This morning's breakfast makes use of what I didn't use yesterday: an omelet thickened with crumbled cornbread (very nice!) and stuffed with shitake mushrooms, "mixed grill" (bacon, chorizo and pastrami, none too much of any of them) and a green onion.  Not at all bad, though crimini mushrooms might have been better.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Roseholme Cottage Breakfast Hash Once More, Dear Friends

     I did not quite "imitate the action of the tiger," as ol' Hank V says in the play,* but it's worth growling over.

     This version has the usual fried potatoes, plus a bit of bacon and some really extraordinary packaged chorizo, three medium eggs, green onion and a large poblano pepper.

     I was going to add shitake mushrooms and a bit of crumbled cornbread, but by the time I reached that point, there was already breakfast for three people.  They'll do for an omelet tomorrow, I think.  The mushrooms and cornbread, I mean, not the three people.
* Yes, it's that Elizabethan playwright fellow.  "The game's afoot!" Who knew Holmes was quoting? Not me!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015


     I spent several minutes yesterday watching the spiny micrathena spider in the back yard restringing her web. She's picked a slightly higher spot for the last several days, which I found out by blundering into one of the lower anchors a few days ago. Do spiders remember much? In the morning, she had a nice web up and commenced bouncing when I came too near: "Go away, big critter!" She took to a high corner before I could back off. In the afternoon, only the top cable remained and I feared I had run her off. Nope! A little later, I went out to mount a solar-powered light at one of the gates and she was busily running radials, swinging down from the top to the center, appearing to tie a knot, and clambering down to the bottom along an earlier strand while trailing a new one, stepping over a little, tieing another knot and heading up the new strand to tension it at the center, over and over, with an occasional side-to-side run to keep things centered. (Probably not really tieing knots but it sure looks like it.)

      It looked like exhausting work. Rather than pester, I got my project done and had another look. By then she was happy with the radials and was doing the spiral -- but not in one run! She'd go maybe a third of the way clockwise, tacking the strand down at the crossings, then move just a little to the side and make a counterclockwise strand back. Sticky and non-sticky? I don't know. The entire web-weaving process was very involved, with a lot of strand-testing and adjustment as she went, and appeared to consume every bit of the spider's attention.

      Meanwhile, the front-porch spider I'd spooked the previous evening by trying to get a look from the ground (I could get quite close on the porch -- you can see two of her eyes in the photo) had taken down her web and left it down all day. But it was back up in the evening and the yellow-kneed orb weaver was back at her post in the center, head down, hoping for bugs. Two spots and a line on her abdomen look like a funny little face.

      These are not bad spiders to have around; they clean up after themselves and seems to be getting a lot of flies. Hooray!

'Tis The Hour

     I was program-surfing* the Roku last evening, having wimped out of attending the Marion County Fish & Game board meeting with Tam on account of post-stress exhaustion and a sore knee.  The stress was the result of finally, over a decade off schedule, Kiplinging my courage to the sticking point (I thought Kipling but it appears to trace back to Shakespeare) and getting a mammogram; the procedure itself was merely no fun but making myself go through with it was so demanding that I left the house without a belt in my jeans and didn't realize until I was putting my top back on after the specialized radiography was over -- and I always wear a heavy leather belt.

     Came home, walked to lunch with Tam, did some little jobs around the house, realized my right knee was throbbing, took an OTC painkiller/anti-inflammatory, napped, woke up and was casting about for something interesting to watch.

     There's a BBC series that caught my eye awhile ago, The Hour, ostensibly about the launch of a UK TV current-affairs program in the 1950s, from the description a sort of inside-the-industry soap opera.  Looked interesting, work like mine but a generation earlier and on the wrong side of the road.

     ...And it is that.  But that is not the whole of it.  Not even close.  I started watching the first episode and ended up binge-watching the first three: woven through the episodic start of a new TV programme in the Beeb's unique environment is a long-form espionage thriller of the traditional baffling British variety!  The sets are remarkably good, the style and attitudes period-appropriate, casting and cast are fabulous and it's beautifully shot; some critics complained about anachronisms in the attitudes of some characters but I'm not so sure.  I do hear a few bobbles on the "U" side of U vs. non-U English as the story weaves through social strata, but that's difficult to get right (a speaker of General American instead of The Queen's English shouldn't even try†) and can be undone in a flash by an actor trying to sound "more posh."  (Hint: don't.  Genuinely upper-class vocabulary can be appallingly plain; poshness comes from the manner in which it is applied.)

     Cross "Mad Men," "The X-Files" and "Network," throw in a hint of night-time soap operas and James Bond and you'll have some idea of what The Hour is like.  I'm enjoying it immensely.
* Like channel-surfing but better: going through the long lists of films and TV shows, each one with a still and a snippet of description.  I'm usually looking at Amazon Video, occasionally Crackle (free movies!) or a channel of space stuff that seems to change its name fairly often.
† Yes, it's true: I call table napkins "serviettes" sarcastically.  And who wouldn't?

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Indy Arms Co.

     It's the neighborhood shooting range I've longed for!  --Literally minutes from my house, Indy Arms Co. is ramping up to their official opening next week.  Presently, they're open limited hours, noon to five most days, training their staff and getting to know customers.

     Monday, I visited to check out the store and range, bringing the H&R Model 999 top-break .22 revolver I found this past weekend, a High-Standard R-101 and Ruger Mk. II.  Yes, all .22s.

     The store is neatly organized and brightly lit, as is the range.  The range also has a nice double sound lock and handwashing area.  The staff was friendly and helpful. I shot for about an hour and didn't do too badly.

     The store are has a nice selection of firearms, all reputable stuff from well-known names.

     I'll be returning.  When they start regular hours, I'll be able to shoot after work -- and not have to race across town!