Friday, February 28, 2014

Thank heavens Archdukes are thin on the ground...

...'Cause it's feeling like it's about time for one to get shot.

The world's media is falling all over itself in fits of euphemism as "groups of armed men" riding in Russian military aircraft seized airports in Crimea.

I want to retcon history with this phrase!
  • Paul Revere riding the streets of Boston yelling "Groups of armed men are coming! Groups of armed men are coming!"

  • FDR speaking to Congress: "Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by groups of armed men riding in airplanes of the Empire of Japan."

  • James Forrestal and Howlin' Mad Smith on the beach at Iwo Jima looking up at the flag raising on the mountain: "Holland, the raising of that flag on Suribachi means groups of armed men for the next five hundred years."
The U.S., who is going to sit this one out and everybody knows it, issued some pro forma boilerplate Stern Language and then underlined that we didn't really mean it by having FLOTUS send POTUS scurrying around the White House halls like a bichon frise after a ball:

Brrr! Fearsome!

Well, Ukraine, looks like you're on your own. Call Angela and François; maybe they'll get your back.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

If this flops, at least I know who to blame.

My friend Marko and I are very bad influences on each other when it comes to firearms and consumer electronics purchases.

Last couple times I've visited Castle Frostbite I've returned with some purchase from Best Buy that I bought because... well, I can't really remember why. "Should I buy this?" is just not a question we ask each other because we know the answer will be somewhere on the spectrum from "Sure, if you feel like it..." to "Oh, dude, yes! That's awesome! Of course you should buy it; I'll get one, too!"

I'm happy with my smart phone. I'm good with my old and mediocre cameras. My desktop machine should be good for several years yet... But ever since I shelved my key lime G3 iBook, I haven't had an easy time with finding a good mobile device to do everything I wanted. I've tried a few solutions:
  • Eee 900: Too small for extended writing. Eebuntu requires more involvement than I'm willing to give. My computer nerding days are more than a decade in the past; I just want to do stuff on them, not futz around with them.

  • 17" HP laptop: Good for a desktop replacement while actually on vacation, too big for the seatback trays in coach while getting there. Look like a douche busting out that suitcase-size screen in Twenty Tap. Don't need a portable productivity machine that has World of Warcraft loaded on it, thankyouverymuch.

  • Kindle Fire: Good for reading books you'd normally read in paperback and watching Archer episodes. Too small for reading illustrated books you'd buy in coffee table format, and writing on it is a pain.

  • iPad 2: Best all 'round solution thus far. Good for reading and watching video. Big enough to surf the web without having to use Tapatalk and other mobile browser shortcuts. Office for iPad is vaporware so far and, if history is anything to go by, will be buggier than Maine in June and priced like imported sin when it gets here. Best keyboard is Apple Bluetooth piece that's a separate item to lug. No expandability; no ports; you will conform to the vision of the Masters, hipster.

Still wanted something that would run Office, and have a decent yet portable keyboard as an option... So in a conversation the other day, I mentioned to Marko on Facebook that I'd seen some awfully low prices on refurb'ed Microsoft Surface RTs and... should I buy one?

Captain Enabler replied "At that price it's like you're buying Microsoft Office and getting a free tablet!"

Powerless in the face of such logic, I did. I'm willing to give it a shot.

QotD: Bantha Tracks Edition

Do you really think that the Huts would have put up withTuskan Raiders for more than a couple of weeks before they got into their sandbarge thingies and had themselves a Tuskan shoot?
Thank you, Goober. You have absolutely made my day.

Go read that post, because it's laugh-out-loud funny.

Well, this is new...

I've never been accused of being a Politically Correct Diversity Weenie before; this feels new and strange. Why has this happened?

Allow me to put on my "Speaker To Dorks" hat for a minute. And if you get that, you should be a little embarrased.

My normal readers may not be aware that there is an ongoing flap in the Parliament of Nerds that is the community of SF (that's Science Fiction here, not Special Forces) writers and their orbit of hangers-on and wannabes. I have not been following it closely, but it has consumed a goodly portion of the bandwidth of sites dedicated to those topics for months. Because of this apparently everything on the internets, including my post from the other day about the Planet of Hats trope, is being viewed through this lens by the participants.

Now Sarah Hoyt, who I will admit I haven't read and so have no clue what she's all about, is apparently sending out email fire missions to rebut... what she thinks I wrote. Which was apparently a cri de couer for Diversity Rainbow Message Fic or something, rather than a comment that people don't seem to be so hot at imagining The Other as real, three-dimensional individuals because... well, we just don't. Dunbar's Number and all that.

Apparently some people got a raging case of butthurt at my use of the word "bigot" because they're uncomfortable with their paleolithic underpinnings or something? I dunno. This is why I don't go to sci-fi conventions and rennfairs anymore, though. Most of these people didn't get half the swirlies they had coming.

I commented over there:
What a great Rorschach blot of a post that turned out to be. Some people look at an inkblot and see a clown face, others see two nuns having sex with a Shetland pony on a rubber sheet.

Why does the mention that humans are xenophobic bigots who view outsiders as something other than real people make folks so defensive? It’s merely a fact.

You people are so wound up over SFWA WTF-ery that you’re drawn into a defensive circle and shooting at shadows.
Oh, and thanks to an Instalanche the comments section from my post has picked up near a hundred comments overnight, turning into what PDB so aptly called "Comic Book Guy Thunderdome". Because don't you dare make offhand comments about D&D or Star Trek that are not 100% approving and absolutely technically correct, you... you... Mundane, you!

Hoosier boomstick legal news...

...Roomie has the dirt.


BREAKING: Polish army troops have attacked the radio tower at Gleiwitz!

I'm sure the EU is busily writing a condemnatory resolution that informs Putin in no uncertain terms that if he doesn't knock it off, they'll draft an even stronger resolution.

So it seems like while a majority of the people of Ukraine want to join the free-trade union that is run by finance ministers, deputy ministers of the interior, community organizers, and other student government types, the minority of the people of Ukraine want to join the insular trade organization that is run by the ex-KGB light colonel. And the minority seems to have most of the guns. And the backing of the ex-KGB guy, who is no longer constrained by having to participate in the International Civilized Nation Lookalike Contest down in Sochi.

Good luck Ukraine, you bunch of crazy dreamers.
When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.” -Osama bin Laden
"America... (w)herever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own." -John Quincy Adams
Sorry, guys, but we're all warred out right now.

Interesting times, indeed.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Photographic proof.

Things have been pretty sporty on the homicide front so far this year here in Naptown, with stiffs turning up in almost Chicago-esque numbers.

Most recently was a flurry of murders that had the newspeople decorating their cupcakes like something out of a Don Henley lyric when the police reported eight murders in a twelve-hour period, a clip that would entirely depopulate the city in just over 140 years if left unchecked.

I would like to note an interesting factoid: Police already happened to have mug shots of seven out of the eight corpses on file. Apparently none of the deceased heeded my advice.

It'd be interesting to know what having a mugshot on file with the po-po does to your chances of getting iced, statistically speaking.

Why is politics like living near a paper mill?

Because after a while, you don't notice the smell of home.

So, some writer of "literary mysteries" wrote a whining screed about how J.K. Rowling was taking up all the shelf space that was rightfully owed to little people like herself and should stop writing and let other kids have all the fun. It was several paragraphs laced with the politics of envy and zero-sum economic theory that could have been titled #OCCUPYBARNESANDNOBLE.

Larry Correia delivered a classic Larry Correia fisking of her little text-based hissy fit, which was widely linked, and the comments section filled up fast. Among the commenters was some guy signing himself "orangemike" who described himself as a writer and reviewer and was saddened that Larry's castigation of the woman's admittedly noxious screed couldn't be done without dragging ideology into it.

It was pointed out to him that, uh, she'd kinda started it with the ideology, actually, to which he replied "That's not ideology!"

I snapped.
“That’s not water,” said the fish…
That is too ideology. That lady's whining column-ette is the entire foundation of leftist ideology in Cliff's Notes form. That is the Reader's Digest condensed version of Das Kapital and the French Revolution and Cap and Trade and every UAW contract ever written and the Democratic Party's national platform: You've got too much stuff and you need to give some of it to me.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I pity the archaeologists of the future...

An interesting category of collectibles is "ephemera": Postcards and brochures and those printed family newsletters you get every Christmas from your second cousin in Dubuque*.

Will future archaeologists mine e-cards from some dusty, bit-rotted corner of the internet?

*Firefox's spellchecker does not know "Dubuque". Perhaps I meant "Albuquerque"? it suggests, helpfully.

National Association for the Advancement of Pointy-Eared People

A post at Lurking Rhythmically reminded me of a lesson that SF/Fantasy/Role-Playing Gaming had been (completely inadvertently, I might add) trying to teach me since adolescence, and yet I only really began to grasp fairly recently:
Us humans, we can do anything. I can't, for the life of me, remember the source of the quote, nor can I the quote itself, but on Star Trek, probably Deep Space Nine, there was a quote about humans that's stuck with me. You take 10 Klingons, you've got 10 fierce warriors. 10 Ferengi, you've got 10 shrewd businessmen. 10 Romulans, 10 expert spies. But you take 10 humans, you don't know *what* you're dealing with. They could be anything. 
What you get is ten bigots. Because, see, humans, specifically the humans that wrote that script, look at ourselves as "people" and the other people, the ones with the pointy ears or the furry feet or the bony ridges on their foreheads, as "archetypes".

All Klingons are honor-loving warriors. All dwarves are beer-swilling Lawful Good blacksmiths with, for some reason, bad fake Scottish accents. All elves are ethereal granola-munching bunny-hugging archers. But humans are people and therefore can be good or evil, horticulturalists or mechanical engineers, priests or physicists, saints or monsters.

In Dungeons & Dragons, dwarves can't be rangers and halflings can't be magic users, but humans can be any character class. In Star Trek, the United Federation of Planets is a galaxy-spanning polyspecies polity, but the officer's mess on any Starfleet vessel looks more like a board meeting at Augusta National than it does the cantina in Star Wars. The most homogenous, conformist technological society on planet Earth has everything from tattooed yakuza to sumo wrestlers to lolita cosplayers, but you could title a documentary on Klingons Fifty Shades of Worf.

A perceptive Younger Me would have tipped to this earlier, and maybe wondered if it had any application in the real world whenever I heard "All men are..." or "All redheads are..." or "All Chinese people are..." Ah well, we live and we learn. Or at least one would hope that we do.

...and more sad news.

My buddy Barkley passed yesterday. Y'all keep Brigid in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, February 24, 2014

I has a sad.


This picture reminds me...

...that I don't currently own an SKS.

I've had several Chinese ones, but these days I don't have any real interest in a commercial SKS (unless your Chinese SKS came back from Vietnam, odds are good it was produced specifically for commercial sale and was never issued to a soldier.)

I want a milsurp one, a legitimate C&R, which means a Yugo or other Euro Combloc gun. Unfortunately, the most common Yugos are the 59/66's and I don't want all that extra grenade-launching goofiness hanging off the end of the gun. Some people dig it, and that's cool, but for me it's just weight and stuff that clutters up the rifle's lines.

Russkie ones are bringing blood money these days, and I haven't seen an Albanian or East German one in the wild in years. This will be a fun stalk.

(I'm not going the internet auction site route, because it always feels to me like the gun collecting equivalent of hunting over a baited field. It'd be like having a computerized database of exactly what old sports cars are in which barns across the country, or having clear wrapping paper on your Christmas presents.)

Against interest?

Why would the owners of a gun store and firing range constantly write big checks to the election campaigns of people who want to ban those very things? Mysteriouser and mysteriouser...

Care Bear fascism...

Me and my fellow Americans of the gun nut wookie suiter variety have been watching the dramatic events playing out in Ukraine with the smug "I told you so" feeling you get when you see the reason for the Second Amendment piped into living rooms across America in live digital full color surround sound.

Thing is, we brace ourselves for the wrong kind of totalitarianism. The American flavor doesn't do razor wire and cattle cars. Even when Uncle Sam does overreact in a spasm of jackbootery, it is usually followed by hair-shirted self-loathing, investigatory committees, show trials, and damage awards to the survivors: More often than not, American jackboots are cartoonishly over-sized and have great big red, white, and blue pompons on the toes.

American fascism is of the smiley-faced, good for you, eat-your-vegetables, low-fat, mandatory fun variety. In the USA, it's already a borderline crime to do unhealthy things and not like people. This is a country where you can get a ticket for not wearing a seat belt on the way to watch the X-games and it is only a matter of time before, bereft of a national sense of irony, a SWAT team is dispatched to put a stop to a report of bullying.

Therefore, when zampolits come to the American broadcasting industry, they're not going to be Sam Brown-wearing extras from a documentary about the RMVP:
See, when The Censor shows up, she'll have nothing so crude as a red grease-pencil or a razor blade.  She'll be wearing a nice business suit, not a brass-buttoned black uniform and shiny jackboots -- and she may well have no idea what she's really there to do.  It's the soft fascism of dim expectations.
The thing is, the American national media is so in the tank already that the only way they'd make noise about something like this would be if it happened while the dastardly Republicans were at the helm. (Can you imagine the howls that would have gone up from Rockefeller Center if this had happened under the previous administration? Much like Gitmo, drone strikes, and the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act, this stuff is apparently only bad when the other team does it.)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Overheard in the Office...

RX: "Ĵɑраηέѕҿ Ӟ ɭɞѵєІ Ϸїᶊḩ ḏᶉǡɨɳɘʀ"

Me: "Huh-wha...? Ohhh... 'Japanese three-level dish drainer'. For a second, I thought you'd said 'three-level douche strainer'."

RX: "They're a very thrifty people."


Silicon Graybeard has turned four.

That's a long time to be turning out regular content that is intelligent and thoughtful. Here's to seeing more in the years to come!

Keeping your toes out from under the wheels of justice.

Apple puts a lo-res camera on the iPad 2 and passes the savings along to you!
In my handy-dandy little pocket-size copy of the Indiana Criminal Code, pages 238 to 258 are largely taken up with offenses relating to firearms. Mind you, this is just the specific firearms-related stuff; general self-defense law is a whole 'nother ball of wax. If you're going to go carrying a gun around on the theory that you might someday need to use it for self defense, wouldn't it be a good idea to know these laws?

Having had a couple of rather high-profile cases involving people with toter's permits in the national news in the last few years, it did my heart good to see the Comprehensive Indiana Gun Law class put on by Guy Relford of TFT packed with eagerly note-taking students.

I'm still processing my notes, which I plan to append to my notes from MAG-40 this past summer. While an 8-hour classroom seminar can't be as in-depth as twenty+ classroom hours, it can be a lot more state-specific. Is it a crime to point a gun at somebody in Indiana? Depends. Is it a crime to shoot somebody in Indiana? Depends. Can I sell this gun to that guy in Indiana? Depends.

The class covered all that and more, and was presented not by some random dude with an NRA certificate, a rubber-stamped state licensed instructor, or a retired reserve deppity, but by a lawyer specializing in 2nd Amendment stuff who's doing the Lord's work on the RKBA front here in Hoosierland. Guy is as hip to the current gun law situation as it applies to Hoosiers as anyone and provides the cites for everything he says. Recommend.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Friday, February 21, 2014

Tribal codes...

Pashtunwali is the code of the mountain tribes of central Asia. It is a complex set of obligations one must follow, such as showing hospitality to guests and defending them from enemies, and one spurns it at the cost of outcasting and ostracism.

By comparison, Hoosierwali mostly just asks that you keep your sidewalks free of ice and snow or people will talk bad about you on the internet. Like now.

The picture below, showing the neatly shoveled and salted walk from the front door down to the curbside, while the walk in front of the house remains uncleared, displays the snow-shoveling neighborliness equivalent of wearing a ribbed condom inside out:
Not that I'm bitter or anything, but that pic was taken a few days ago, before the Great Thaw began, and so this afternoon that shady stretch of walk is covered with a lumpy, rock-hard, translucent coating an inch or two thick with the same coefficient of friction and amount of "give" as oiled glass.

Dance, monkey.

So I picked up the latest issue of Indianapolis magazine and one of the features was a piece on Robert Indiana, what with an exhibition of his work being at the IMA and all.

I don't know why I was surprised to find this out in the interview, but the man is a colossal douchebag. Having shaken the Hoosier dust from his sandals in the late '40s, he apparently just changed his name to "Indiana" from "Clark" to give him some exotic heartland cred with his Manhattan hipster artiste pals. Sort of a more egotistical, visual arts version of John Mellencamp, née Cougar, née Mellencamp.

Dig this gem:
I still think of what you did to the [old county courthouse]—destroyed,” he says. “No respect for the old architecture. And I believe you have a Republican governor; is that right? That’s not good. I’m not proud to come from a Republican state.
And, just in case you were wondering who is our state's "most major artist", just listen; he'll tell you:
"In fact, I don’t have paintings in almost any house in the state, which doesn’t seem interested in collecting its most major artist."
Buncha Visigoths, here. Hey, Bob, did you ever stop to think that maybe Hoosiers, with their legendary Midwestern low-key modesty, are a little embarrassed that you're running around using their home state as your nom de douche, but are just too polite to ask for it back?

New blog...

Matt* is dead set on going to Africa to hunt plains game, which makes me faintly green-tinged with envy. However, we can live vicariously through the workup for his safari as he blogs the long process at "A Dream of the Dark Continent".

*Not Matt G; but another Matt who also came by his gun nuttery the old fashioned way: He inherited it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Black dog.

I haven't been using my solar spectrum UV lamp enough this winter, obviously.

The worst part about being depressed is that when you say you are, everybody immediately wants to talk to you about it, when all I want to do is pull the covers over my head until it goes away. Which it will. It always has before. I just need some sunshine, range time, and bicycle weather.

Come on, spring!


Can't brain today. Have the dumbs.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ride to live, live to ride...

I have commuted to work, a hundred miles round trip, on a 600cc sportbike in weather that would have had saner people calling in sick, but my hat's off to this loon.

Shine on, you crazy Ducati Streetfighter-ridin' diamond.

If they really hated us because of our freedoms...

...they can probably stop hating us any ol' time now.

The fact that ANYBODY thinks that this is a swell idea just blows my mind. 1984 was not supposed to be a flippin' instruction manual, fer gawd’s sake. Of course, nowadays the telescreen isn't behind the picture; it's in your pocket.

Between a national license plate reader database and your cell phone data, an inner party member would theoretically be able to print out a map of your whereabouts at a keystroke whenever they felt like it. "Oh, but that would take a warrant!" Yeah, pull the other one, it has bells on it.

It's like they design this stuff to fail the "Jews in the attic" test.

Remind me which side lost the Cold War again? It was the evil Spy State, right? The one that listened in on all its citizens' communications and could barge in and search their domiciles on a whim?

*checks watch* Thankfully I've only got another couple decades of this stuff up with which to put. Maybe less if I take up smoking again.

The melt begins...

11:00 Tuesday

2:00 Tuesday

5:00 Tuesday

9:25 Wednesday

I find your lack of "Make it so!" disturbing.

I dreamed I was riding around in the back seat of Bobbi's little red Hyundai Accent with James Earl Jones. Patrick Stewart was driving. The landscape was more Albuquerque than Indianapolis.

We were driving down this access road along a busy interstate, with bluffs on either side, and there were rows of shops and little office buildings backed up against the bluffs and some atop them. Ahead, the terrain opened out and the freeway was bordered by car dealerships and a small airport.

The guy on the radio was talking about how the local National Guard unit was working up for a deployment to Dreamistan, and as we came out from under an overpass I looked up and there was a huge CH-54, with people rappelling out of a passenger pod on the bottom onto the roof of one of the office buildings up on the bluff. The building had an Army National Guard sign on it, and I guessed this must be part of pre-deployment workup the radio was talking about. The CH-54 was plastered with the usual Army identifiers, as well as bright red and yellow McDonald's logos, because I guess they sponsored the National Guard.

The hovering sky crane was big enough that it overhung the access road by a bit, and as I was watching out the back window, the tail suddenly dipped and the rotor struck the road and then the helicopter wadded up in a ball of flying wreckage right there in traffic. "Oh, no!" I went to call 911 on my cell phone, even though there were crash trucks and everything right there. Seeing all the lights and sirens suddenly made me think I should have taken pictures. I mean, this is something you have to blog about, right?

Patrick Stewart turned the car around in the entrance to the airport, where they were cleaning up the wreckage of what looked like a midair between a Bonanza and a Cessna 310R, and we drove back toward the helicopter crash. I tried to take a picture, but my weird dream smart phone said it had no room on the memory card. (I say "weird dream smart phone" because it was a two-piece unit consisting of the normal looking smartphone in my hand and a sort of "server" in my purse, bristling with slots for SD cards and Nintendo DS games.)

Luckily, there was a Walgreen's right next to the the crash site and I went in to get another microSD card.

While I was waiting in line to pay for it, I woke up.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Just got off the phone...

...with Farmer Frank.

He had a no kiddin' serious stroke, but he's fighting back like... well, like the kind of dude who doesn't call in sick when he leaves a chunk of finger in some farm machinery. Most of the tubes are out and he's fixing to start the serious work of rehabbing.

Between his wife realizing what was up and calling the ambo, the ambo crew getting him to the hospital quick, and the docs at the hospital being on the ball, the prognosis is good for what would otherwise have been The Big One not all that many years ago.

If you're the prayin' type, keep praying as he goes through the grind of recovering from this mess. If you're not the praying type, then think positive thoughts or stick voodoo dolls or whatever is your equivalent.

Thank you.

Boresighting perils...

So, on Facebook somebody asks about sighting in their first scoped Bambi-zapper. Several people chime in with boresighting advice and dial-in tips and tricks. One guy points out in an aside that
"If the rifle is used you might want to mechanical zero the scope. Misaligned mounting and someone putting clicks on it can leave you little adjustment in one direction or t'other."
...which reminded me of a tale...

'Way back in the Fall of Aught-One, I ordered a handy little Ruger No.1 RSI in .243 Win from Davidson's and purchased a used Leupold fixed 12x scope for it from a coworker. (Yes, current me laughs at old me's choice of optics, too; that thing wanted a fixed four or low-power variable glass, not a lunar observatory.)

He offered to mount and boresight the scope for me, which was nice. As I left to run some errands and fetch lunch, he had my little rifle in the cradle on the counter and was breaking out the scope ring lapping kit. When I returned to the shop, the lapping kit was as yet unused and he was spinning a ring reamer and standing in a disturbing amount of metal shavings from the scope rings.

"What's up?" I asked, cleverly.

"Here," he said, plopping the Loopie glass in the rings and tightening them down, "Look through there at the collimator and see if you can tell."

Sure enough, the crosshairs were 'way over at the edge of the grid on the old-style ground glass boresighter, and the adjustment screw was pretty much all out of clicks in the opposite direction. This was not good.

After a bit more grinding, it was apparent that we were going to run out of scope ring before we got the thing dialed in, and the base was, in fact, unusable. (We were fast on the draw like that.)

The rings on a No.1 are mounted on a little quarter-rib, which is secured to the barrel with screws fore and aft. My co-worker began to loosen the forward screws and, when he got down to, like, the last the last half-turn on the second one, the front of the sight base torqued to the side off the barrel, pulling the screw free with what my mind insists on remembering as a *ping* but which was more likely a *click*.

With the quarter-rib off the gun and the upper scope-mounting surface held level, it was obvious to the naked eye that the two "feet", the mating areas at the front and rear on the bottom of the quarter rib where it sat on the barrel, weren't machined anything remotely like concentric. In other words, while the "rib" part of the quarter rib was nice and straight, the feet were askew, and tightening both feet down flush to the gun twisted the formerly-straight rib like a piece of rotini.

"I don't have to worry about that!" says the Cletus in the back, at this point in the tale, "I only buy nice guns!" Hey, this was on a rifle that had an MSRP of something like seven or eight bills even back then, right? You could have darn near bought two Remington Wally World specials for what this thing cost.

Ruger handled it well though; we called them and they sent a fresh quarter rib and a set of rings gratis, without even a core charge. I still have the cattywhampus quarter rib someplace, I guess. I think we pitched the rings.

I get cold just looking at that...

Cool picture from Wikipedia:

I like how the .jpg is titled "lake effect snow on Earth", just in case anybody thought that picture was from, I dunno, the Cassini probe's Venus flyby or something...

It's kind of a hobbyhorse of mine...

A guy on a forum was unhappy with the reliability of his self-loading Ruger Mk.III .22 with hollowpoints* and was looking for a revolver with which to teach his kid the basics of handgunnery, since he still had two bricks of said hollowpoints. He expressed dismay with the prices of some of the .22 revolvers out there, and I'm assuming he was looking in the S&W showcase because he asked "can anyone explain why a .22 revolver is more than a S&W M&P ?"

I swan, the price tag on a S&W .22 revolver is the single hardest thing in the handgun showcase to explain to the average consumer.

We are conditioned by a generation of .22 plinker self-loading pistols to think that a rimfire should naturally be cheaper than a centerfire, right? But there's a reason they're cheaper: Even a classic old Ruger Mark II has a barrel threaded into a piece of tubing, mounted atop a gripframe that's just a couple of big stampings joined together; it's essentially a well-polished Sten gun with fancy stocks.

Meanwhile, over in the revolver case, the only real difference between the Smith & Wesson Model 617 .22 revolver and the Model 686 .357 Magnum is the size of the hole drilled in the barrel, but having walked past the auto case to get there, our brains tell us that the price should be lower for the .22 because it's just a .22. It's more expensive than an M&P auto because, with the exception of its barrel, locking block, and rather elaborately-machined slide, the M&P is a collection of injection molded parts and stampings that is much cheaper to make than a Hand Ejector revolver.

This is the same sort of economics that killed the Woodsman and relegated the 41 to an esoteric niche product, despite an attempt to come out with a sort of de-contented matte blue Highway Patrolman-esque version in the late '50s. All of which makes it kind of ironic that the inexpensively-constructed Ruger self-loaders are themselves threatened from below by products of injection molded polymer and cast zinc alloy, for people who don't want to shell out the bucks for a "high end" Mk. III auto.

There are inexpensive .22 revolvers on the market, but most tend to be fairly crude constructions of painted or plated zinc, like the Heritage. If all you're looking for is a plinker as opposed to an heirloom, and understand that you could certainly wear one out with a high enough volume of shooting, then I reckon they'll do. If, on the other hand, you're looking for a revolver through which you could fire many tens of thousands of rounds before handing it down to the grandkids, I'd consider buying the Smith or Ruger.

*I don't think it's the hollowpoints that are wrong with the dude's Ruger. Most .22 HP's are still round-nosed and even the truncated cone ones like the Remington Yellowjackets still tend to run okay in Rugers unless they're drier than a popcorn fart or cacked up enough with carbon fouling to require a dental pick for cleaning.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Things of importance only to me...

In yesterday's post referencing the P30, H.M. Stuart left the comment
The only thing I can see to criticize about the P30 is its priciness, and perhaps the mag release for those who fear James Bond will get the drop on them and leave them with only one point-blank shot center of mass. And unless one is actually on the Teams or in LEO, the standard V3 trigger pull is far more likely to spare one an embarrassing trip to the ER in a real life draw situation than to hamper one's style. Plenty of time to make that long first trigger pull while acquiring the sight picture.
...while Ed noted
Seeing some comments about the scarcity of H&K P30 magazines, I searched on the phrase "H&K P30 magazines". The first item yielded was:
I have written before that the reason I am carrying an M&P at this point is because I walked into a gun show some years back with the intention of buying the first good Glock 19 or full-size M&P 9 I found for four bills or less. I found one of each, but the Glock was beat to hell and had those wretched XS Big Dots* and only came with one mag, while the M&P was LNIB with two. Yeah, I planned on replacing the sights anyway, but until I did, I'd rather deal with the conventional 3-dots on the M&P than the short bus sights on the G-lock.

The thing about the Glock and M&P is that, not only are they perfectly serviceable pistols, but they are practically ubiquitous. The only ones in the industry that come close to that level of aftermarket support (other than the 1911, which could rate a separate post, actually) are the XD, which I cordially dislike for reasons which largely no longer apply, but let's just say our relationship is... tainted, and the P-series SIGs.

Although the days of internet delivery do lessen dependence on the stocking proclivities of the local gun shop, there's still travel. If I'm anywhere from Rochester, IN to the high plains of Colorado, the local gun store is likely to have accessories, mags, holsters, and whatnot for the Glock or M&P**. Not necessarily a big deal, but it's reassuring.

Of somewhat more relevance is the fact that, for any new type of accessory, it's the Glock and then M&P kids who usually get served first. The others get it later, if at all. I think that Crimson Trace's Lasergrip is handier than a pocket on a shirt, but if you want one for your P30, well, tough bananas.

But this is stuff that's important to me, and might not be all that important to you. I think the P30 is a better pistol than the M&P 9 in nearly any quantifiable way, but not enough to offset certain intangibles I care about. I think if you want to rock... well, whatever it is you want to rock, then get down with your bad self. The only person who has to be comfortable with my shopping choices is myself.

*Not to rehash the whole XS thing but, the usual argument is that, yeah, it might be slower and harder to use well on small or distant targets, but it's Really Fast! on close, wide open ones. So, you mean that in situations where I really need my sights, they're harder to use, but in situations where a coarse muzzle index is really all I need, I've got these sights on my gun because something or other? Ooookay.

** Of course, this is a generalization. Right now, for instance, all the M&P 9 full size mags on the market have apparently fallen into a black hole. Good thing I had, like, nine or ten already...

Tab Clearing...

QotD: Not Staying Where You're Not Wanted Edition

It was hard to pick a blurb from this great piece at WeaponsMan about the pending Remington expansion* into Alabama, but here's a good taste:
Someday, when the plant closes, or there’s a big layoff, Andrew Cuomo or some equally corrupt successor will travel to Ilion (complaining every mile, privately to his palace eunuchs, about how remote from anything important it is) and give a Man of The People speech that will be written for him by some junior flunky, who also majored in student council, and considers the actual work of manufacturing a task for Morlocks, far beneath him.
You should go read it.

*They're saying "expansion" but everybody knows that this is going to eventually turn out to be the hermit crab kind of expansion, where the expanded entity leaves behind an empty shell.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The gear train.

Saw mention at OldNFO's place that a friend had some pistols up for sale, one of which was an HK P30. I actually riffled through the Blue Book just to see what it said about the value of one in a listed 90% condition before yanking my own leash up short.

Yeah, it might be a screaming deal on a great 9mm pistol, but then there'd need to be a second one, and nobody makes a .22 trainer that I know of, plus the investment in new holsters, and sights, and a blue gun, and...

...and I really can't afford to switch carry guns* more than once a decade or so. Sigh.

*And that's the only use I'd have for a P30. Otherwise, that's money that'd buy a few top-break Smifs.

Overheard in the Office...

Roomie is clearing her desk preparatory to getting some Writing done...
RX: "Oh, look what I found! Huck's little bandanna from his first vet visit!"

Me: "Awwww... Y'know, that probably wouldn't fit around his leg now."
It's hard to believe the cute li'l feller in those pictures is the same cat that sprawls atop Bobbi when she's sleeping and runs darn near from ankle to hip.

"No place in the state of New York" -Gov. Cuomo

Word is that Remington will be moving as many as 1,600-2,000 jobs from its Ilion, New York facility, which it has occupied since before either the Democratic or Republican parties even existed in their current incarnations, to a new facility in Alabama.

With their corporate HQ now in North Carolina, a new assembly plant in Kentucky, and ammo manufacturing relocated from Connecticut to Arkansas, this gives Big Green a decidedly Dixie flavor.

The South went into the locker room at halftime behind on the scoreboard because they had no industry, and especially no organic arms industry. Good to see the North is diligently working to reverse that imbalance for the second half. Very sporting of y'all.

Now it's the snowiest.

Last night's shenanigans brought us to 51.6 inches of snow since 12/01/13, making this officially the snowiest winter ever in Indy by 0.6". And there's more coming tomorrow. And the month's barely half over.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Snowiest. Almost.

So with the 5.5" of the Valentine's Day Surprise on the front lawn, we are now a mere inch away from the snowiest winter (Dec-Feb) on record in Indianapolis, but still almost eight inches off the snowiest yearly total.

For all the fun talk about "Weather Guessers", weather forecasting is a lot different now than it was as recently as the '60s and '70s, before widespread availability of satellite and radar. The snow was no surprise, and neither was the amount; as far back as Wednesday they were calling for ~4" of snow in the central part of the state.

It's just that as late as Thursday, the fat part of the snowfall track was expected to pass about fifty miles farther south than it did, giving Indy an inch or two at best. From the comments at the linked article, it's obvious some of my fellow Circle City residents heard "1-2 inches" without stopping to hear the part about how is was supposed to be snowing 4-5 inches only a county or two away, and extrapolate some possible scenarios from that.

As far as the road clearing goes, it wouldn't shock me to find out that there had been some wishful thinking going on downtown as late as Friday morning, what with salt supplies dwindling and a call for 40° temps by Monday or Tuesday.

Friday, February 14, 2014

This deck chair would look much better over there.

Here's an actual quote from Mike Delph, state senator from the tony suburb directly to our north, referring to a series of tweets where he went on at length about how he doesn't like them homo commies, or commie homos, or whatever:
"It's also time for conservatives to hold its squishy Republican leaders accountable to the intentional deceipt as told by a sympathetic and hostile liberal news media."
What does that even mean, Senator Delph? Is pronoun-antecedent agreement a lost art these days? And what the hell is a "deceipt"? How can the news media be both sympathetic and hostile? Do you write in English on formal occasions, or is your proposed legislation written in the same gobbledygook?

(Incidentally, gay marriage is already illegal in Indiana, but this bullet-headed cretin and his ilk want to make it double-secret illegal by writing it into the state constitution. Apparently the Party of Small Government® has all our other problems solved in Indiana and has spent much of this legislative session fretting about teh gays. Kinda like Putin.)

Guys! You'll never guess what it's doing out there!

"Did we say maybe an inch? Sorry, we meant four inches."
I had ambitious plans for a trip to the gas station, the car wash, and Wally World. Instead, driving out into this soup, I pulled into Target and called it good. In case you can't tell from the melted hole in the middle of the Subie's bonnet, the accumulation you see on the vehicle was from the time it took me to carry my purchases inside, drag the trash cans off the curb, and grab a camera.

Keystone Avenue was the usual mix of people driving like they were afraid they'd spin out if they passed 10mph, and people who didn't realize that the speed limit is based on clear visibility and dry pavement.

Yesterday they were saying that the worst of this was going to pass to our south and we'd only get a dusting. Now they're saying maybe four inches. Worst kinda snow timing: Heavier than expected and in the middle of the workday, so everybody's caught out in the open while the city's still scrambling plows and salt trucks.

If we get our 4", then I think we're only one more mediocre snowfall away from the snowiest winter on record in the Circle City.

Crazy Ivan

The highest five: At the end of this video, the dudes stand up atop the tip of the crane, waaaay out over 650 meters of nothing but polluted Shanghai air, for a quick "Look ma! Nyet hands!" shot and a high five.

(Not for acrophobes. Srsly. You have been warned. My palms are sweating typing this, just from remembering the video. If God meant for us to do things like this, he wouldn't have repo'ed our prehensile tails.)

You're not making it easier on yourself...

So, as it was getting dark yesterday afternoon around lunchtime, as it does here in far off frozen cold north yankeeland*, I debated taking the trash cans to the curb. I mean, I was already dressed, so it would have merely involved swapping my house slippers for boots and pulling on a coat...

"Nah," I reasoned, "I can do it in the morning."

Which is why I was in my pyjamas, cursing loudly as I fumbled into jeans and a hat and grumbled my way into my coat at 0730 today, with the sun not clear of the treeline and my ear hearing phantom diesel engines a block away. Or two blocks. Or maybe it was my imagination, but you never know when those guys are going to come, and so I'd better drag the cans to the curb.

The walk was slippery with fresh ice, where meltwater from the roof had refrozen overnight. With the sun technically up, the temperature had crept into official double digits at 10°F, but the wind chill stubbornly held at -1°F.

I cussed again as I nearly took a spill on the ice, but the cherry on the icing of the cake of the whole procedure was when I reached the Devil's Strip along the road, where fresh snow and the concomitant plowing since last week had erased the little trampled path I'd created for the cans. I taught the neighbor's dog a couple new words as snow overtopped first one, then the other hastily-slipped-on unlaced boot while I bulled the cans through the drifts to the curb.

The work done, I had to note that it was kinda pretty out, with the blush of dawn in the clear sky.

The southeast corner of the house sports a three-foot icicle...
...while Bobbi's rain chain on the northeast corner caused a whimsical ice pillar to form, connecting the roof to the ground.

Huck clearly thought I was nuts, being on the cold side of the window.
Next week I'm not going to wait 'til Friday morning to drag the trash cans out. I'm going to listen to my inner Protestant work ethic and take them to the curb the night before. Honest. Really. This time I mean it.

*This is where my readers in New Hamster and Alaska and Sweden and Canada tell me about how at this time of year they have to hike two miles uphill each way just to see a sunbeam at noon...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Let them eat their vegetables! And drink more water.

This from the lady who's taken it upon herself to nag the nation's children about their fatty fatness:

None of those grinding income inequality food deserts at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, no siree! For an appetizer, they served lark's tongues in aspic and irony.

Good news, everyone!

Ninth Circuit strikes California’s restrictive rule against licensed carry of handguns


Go pour yourself a nice glass of hippie tears and sip it with relish.

QotD: Only Human Edition...

In yet another good post on firearms safety, ToddG wrote:
Ever see a $10M/year top athlete blow a play he’s practiced twenty thousand times? Yeah, I have, too. There’s a clue there if you’re willing to accept it.
It's a hobby horse of his, but frankly it should be the hobby horse of a lot more people.

SPEED LIMIT: 55, 65, 70, 80, WHATEVER, DUDE.

Why do they even call it a "limit" or "ceiling", anyway? In aircraft terms, a "ceiling" is an altidude beyond which the plane cannot climb; in political terms, a "ceiling" is just any one of a series of ever higher points on a curve that went asymptotic long ago.

In the world of personal finance, credit card limits work because your credit card magically stops being able to buy stuff when you reach them. Congress, on the other hand, just tells the cashier "Run it again, it'll work," and it does!

And let's be honest with ourselves here, we're now doing this crazy Mall of America shopping spree entirely with imaginary money that nobody with half a brain thinks we will ever be able to pay back and probably no longer even intend to. We're just going to keep putting stuff on this card until it stops working because none of the stores will take it anymore, the cops show up, or the mall burns down.

It's cool, I know my limit.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Hey, I know those knives!

I have made words elsewhere upon the internets again. You could go read them if you'd like.

(Bonus: That zip tie is a leftover safety tie from the Indy 1500. I cut it off my heater and stuffed it in my purse because I didn't want to be a litterbug, and then was able to recycle it later! Go Green: Recycle!)

Shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo...

Hey, Tam! Can you get some plain cranberry juice while you're at the store?

There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that's about it.

No, no I can't.

I can get you diet cranberry juice, light cranberry juice, cran-apple juice, cran-cherry juice, cran-raspberry juice, cran-grape juice, diet cranberry lime, diet cran-lemonade, cran-strawberry juice, white cran-peach juice, white cranberry juice, diet white cran-strawberry juice...

...but if you want regular plain ol' cranberry juice? Sorry, you're just sierra oscar lima on that one.

*Actually, they had the little four-packs and one remaining big-ass jug on the bottom shelf. This was the morning of  Superbowl Sunday, so Bobbi hypothesizes that the former contents of those holes in the shelf facing were at that moment being poured into punch bowls across Broad Ripple.

The Freedom Machine...

In the post yesterday where I mentioned the hemmed-in feeling I get if I don't have access to personal wheels, I made the mistake of using a hypothetical carless Manhattanite as the referent. This was a mistake because any mention of Gotham that can be perceived as negative triggers that weird provincialism that causes residents of the Big Apple who travel to Indiana to bring apples and crackers with them just in case those commodities are unavailable out here on the frontier because... I don't know, savage Shawnee had ambushed the supply wagons in Ohio or something.

"Tam," came the rebuttals, "You don't get it! New York has neighborhoods that people can take the subway to!" which are apparently completely different than heading out West Washington to drive for a mile through Little Mexico without seeing a sign that isn't en Espanol, or an Atlantan taking Buford Highway out to Chambodia for some pho.

The reason I shouldn't have taken the detour across the Brooklyn Bridge is that my point wasn't about NYFC, but about what the personally-owned automobile does to one's sense of time, space, and distance.

Back in high school, our driver's ed teacher referred to the car as "the freedom machine" and it is absolutely true; with their own car, today's teenager has a degree of personal mobility unknown to the crowned heads of Europe barely more than a century ago. Queen Victoria could have hocked the Crown Jewels of England and still not have been able to get to Brighton in an hour, any old time she felt like it.

Most of the human race has lived just fine without their own cars, and having one's car in the shop (or snowbound in the garage) is the very definition of a #FirstWorldProblem, but like any drug, only an addict knows the pain of withdrawal.

As I referenced in my other post, living in a city and working from home, I don't technically need a car in my day-to-day existence; there's a grocery store not but a few blocks from my front door, and the city buses go anywhere I need to go. Nine months out of the year a bicycle with wire baskets is all the vehicle I really need. If I'd never had a car, I probably wouldn't miss it...

But having that Subie out front means that, say, a visit to my friends in Knoxville is only a few hours away from... now. Or now. Or tomorrow. Or whenever I want. As the saying goes, "An American thinks a hundred years is a long time; an Englishman thinks a hundred miles is a long way." Being suddenly stripped of that power to traverse hundreds of miles at a whim, a power you've had so long that you don't even think about how miraculous it really is anymore, is like having Seven League Boots and then having them taken away, or being Superman with a pocket full of kryptonite.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What a difference a little sunshine makes...

Kinda pretty, innit?
Got out in the sunshine today, and it was mighty cheering, even if it was just driving to Kroger and back. Maybe I'll walk to Twenty Tap for lunch tomorrow. I think the weather's supposed to be similar, but warmer; certainly better than the -4° we started out with today, or the 9°F in the picture above. They say we'll get daily highs a degree or two above freezing by the end of the week and may even see 40°F on Monday, which will feel like a sauna after the last few weeks.

We're only a few inches of snowfall away from the snowiest winter since they've been keeping records in Indy, the current record being held by the winter of '82-'83 with fifty-some-odd inches of snow.

In previous winters there have been periods where the Bimmer was snowbound for a couple days at a stretch, but nothing like this; the alley has been effectively impassable for the Zed Drei on its summer skins for several weeks. Living in the city and working from home, this isn't that big of a deal; there's a grocery store, a bodega, and several restaurants in easy walking distance, and I could always take the bus. Still, I am so thankful I got the Subie when I did.

(I think I've remarked before that, having had my own wheels since I was a teenager, I get claustrophobic if my car's in the shop. I don't know how, say, a Manhattanite deals with the inability to just grab your car keys and go, wherever and whenever you want to.)

This is the part where we hear drums in the deep.

So, Shirley Temple died, there's some Olympics* going on, the President of the Frogs isn't bringing a date to the White House, and that seems to be all that's going on in the world this morning, at least according to Planet Manhattan.

*looks around nervously*

I don't like it; it's too quiet. The universe is up to something.

*Neatest piece of Olympics-related triviata I've seen thus far.

Monday, February 10, 2014

That stuff will get you killed on the street.

So a discussion comes up in a forum about the best way to reload a pistol while holding a flashlight in an IDPA match. Someone brings up using a "Tiger ring" a la Streamlight's Thunder Ranch lights or a lanyard like what comes with Surefire's "CombatLight" models to retain the flashlight during the reload, and someone else points out that such gadgets are not IDPA legal.

♪♫ I'm too gamer for my mom jeans, too gamer for my mom jeans...♪♫
 Ah, IDPA, the shooting sport that was ostensibly started because USPSA had become too much of a "gamer" equipment race back in the '90s and wasn't realistic or tactical anymore.

It's also the shooting game where I'd have to take off the light-and-laser-equipped pistol I actually CCW'ed to the match, and likely strap up with a longslide version of the same gun, but jammed full of Apex race trigger parts, and in an OWB holster, but only after I've taken half the bullets out of the magazines... because it's more realistic and "street".

Farmer Frank update.

Shootin' Buddy called yesterday, having just gotten done visiting Frank James in the hospital. If I've got the details right, it was a stroke, it happened Tuesday, and it was the right carotid artery.

He got treatment quickly, the docs all seemed positive and upbeat, as did Frank. Shootin' Buddy said Frank wasn't doing any gesturing with his left hand, but they still had him on a feeding tube plus whatever other tubes and wires they're all the time connecting people up to in hospital, which would cramp anybody's style, being made to look like the distributor cap on a '49 Ford and all.

Bobbi and I are kicking around the idea of driving up for a visit next weekend, weather permitting. Having spent my share of time in a rehab hospital, I know how dreary and dull that is.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Overheard in the Office...

Bobbi is looking at socialist realism fabric patterns...
Me: "Once they've seen Moscow, how you gonna keep 'em down on the kolkhoz?"

RX: "I believe that's the Cheka's job."

Overheard in Roomie's Bedroom...

The TeeWee in there has cut on and I have wandered in to watch the Sunday morning news programs in search of inspiration. The weatherperson says it's snowing again. I pull back the shade and she's right; great big fluffy flakes of insult are piling on the blanket of injury already on the ground.

Bobbi decides that's a splendid reason to avoid getting out of bed for a while, and returns to surfing the 'net on her Kindle while I flinch at the sight of Chuck Schumer's head in 1.5x life size there on Meet The Press. Big screen televisors have few drawbacks, but inflating the mug shot of that bipedal Komodo dragon to scary proportions is one of them.

Bobbi is reading about nutria...
RX: "Apparently the only good thing about nutria is the effect they have on the wild hog population..."

Me: "What, do they get into the nests and eat the hog eggs?"

RX: "Hog eggs? Ew!"

Me: "They'd be great! You'd have the bacon already in the omelet!"

Saturday, February 08, 2014

One of those days.

Cats often... I believe the delicate term is "hork".

Well, not often often, but somewhat more frequently than most humans that aren't either three months old or attending a frat party. This may have something to do with their hairbrush being built into their tongue, and so their digestive tract has to deal with what humans would pluck out of our combs.

Because my desk chair has a cloth seat cover, and is warm from being sat in, and smells like "Mommy", it's one of Rannie's favorite places to lie down, at least on those occasions when I've forgotten to put it under my desk.

Knowing this, I have always kept an old folded tee-shirt on the seat cushion, for as long as I've had the chair and the cat. Just in case.

This morning, I am pleased to say, my foresight finally paid off.

Then I went outside to find that a bird had crapped squarely on the driver's side door handle of my car.

Some days it just isn't worth the effort it takes to pick the lock on the cage in the mornings.

It never rains but it pours.

This is apparently not a good year to know me.

My cell phone was ringing in my coat pocket out in the dining room last night, and I didn't think much about it because generally if the cellie rings and doesn't get answered, the caller will try the land line next, and if they don't, then it was a wrong number.

It wasn't. When I checked the voice mail this morning, it turned out to have been a friend of Frank James calling to let me know he was in the hospital up in Lafayette. I'm not sure why yet, and I'm not about to call a cell phone back at 0900 on a Saturday, but I'll be calling to see what I can find out later this morning.

Please keep Farmer Frank in your thoughts and prayers.

I am hoping that bad things really do come in a maximum number of three.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Odd guns I have known and loved...

Discussion of impulse firearms purchases elsewhere reminded me of one of my own: I once had an "Old Model" Ruger Bearcat that came from a po-leece evidence locker someplace.

Had dings in the alloy gripframe that Marko joked were probably caused by when it got chucked out the passenger window of the car along with the dope. Needed the notch on the hammer welded up and re-cut, because someone had made a slipgun out of it, lord only knows why.

One of the odder choices of criminal firepower I've seen, that's for sure.

It's second from the right in that picture of Ruger single-actions, none of which I own anymore, but all of which have one story or another attached to them...

I'll take "Bad Ideas" for $800, Alex...

"What is a pistol case disguised as a first aid kit?"

I'd hate to be bleeding out in a roadside accident and all the first Good Samaritan on the scene finds in my "First Aid Kit" is something to put me out of my misery.

I'll not lie, though: Owning a vehicle without a separate, lockable trunk does cause one to think about safe ways to store a pistol in the car should one be visiting a "No Toting" zone or forced to drive through enemy territory where one's toter's permit is not recognized. Last time I drove to Texas, I was in a car with a proper locking trunk and I still drove a couple hundred miles out of my way to avoid having up with a FOPA-protected way to cross Illinois. 

That '70s Show...

Via Alan on Facebook came a link to this page of things one might remember from the Decade of Malaise and Disco.

The 110 film cartridge was timely, as Bobbi had just shown me a video clip of a model rocket being launched from a drone, with both the drone and the rocket equipped with video cameras:

They had model rockets with cameras back in the '70s, but they used 110 film, so you might need to wait a couple days to see a few blurry images of your neighborhood from a rocket's eye view.

Here at Roseholme Cottage, we still use ice cube trays, albeit slicker and trendier and more hip and modern than the ones we had in the '70s, just like we still have a progressive dunderhead for a president, albeit slicker and trendier and more hip and modern than the one we had in the '70s.

Differences from the '70s abound, too. The current president looks a lot more comfortable bowing to foreign royalty than the old one did kissing Soviet dictators, for example, and nobody's boycotting anybody's Olympics for invading Afghanistan this time around.


Thanks to discussion in comments: Estes Cineroc!

'Tis the season...

...for the local media to run pieces on Seasonal Affective Disorder:
But if you notice any of these signs in yourself or loved one, you need to get more help: sluggishness, round-the-clock sleeping, despair that lasts for weeks straight, or suicidal thoughts. 
Broadly speaking, the suicide and alcoholism rates tend to increase as one moves north from the tropics. One can only imagine what it was like in a Viking longhouse come the middle of February, when all there's been to do for the last month is sharpen weapons and deplete the mead supply. When people's fuses could be measured in microns, you'd need a pretty elaborate social code to keep it from being one lethal brawl after another.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Turns out the toilets are the the best part.

If you can come down with a terminal case of polonium poisoning for getting on Putin's bad side, what does the FSB inject you with for making your country's Olympic preparations the laughingstock of the world?
At least Sarajevo didn't start out looking this way. What's Sochi's excuse?
 That's some ugly, ugly stuff. The accommodations in Sarajevo looked like that, but only after the games were over and local Bosnian militias were using them for fighting positions in their civil war.

Not used to the Olympics being a hardship assignment, the media is in full kvetch and, to be fair, there's plenty to kvetch about. Embedded journalists at some FOB in farthest Dirkadirkastan have plusher digs than some of the pictures coming out of Sochi right now.


I feel like I've been kicked in the floating ribs by a mule. More on the right side than the left. I was probably just mobile enough yesterday to prevent any stiffness from setting in, but I'm thinking this is my body's way of telling me that my shoveling technique could use some work.

I even had the "ergonomic" shovel for most of the effort, only using the straight-handled one to do some shoveling around the curb out front.

I'm going to take two aspirin and lie down for another hour because I can.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

SAD in only 2,000 words:


Actually, the Black Dog hasn't been that bad this year. I've only dragged out the UV lamp a couple times a week so far, but I've also tried to get myself outside any time the yellow face was in the sky.

This is the kind of weather that you appreciate most as a kid, because the only effects it has on your life are generally good ones.

It's what makes a Subaru, a Subaru.

I've owned a GTO, a couple Porsches, a 280ZX, a Trans Am, a Z3... and I don't think I've ever loved a car as much as I loved this little four-banger station wagon as it puttered through the virgin snow in the alley and bulled right through the plow drift at the end and out onto the street. There was even a good stretch with no parked cars or snow shovelers where I could get my Stig Blomqvist on before I returned to dutifully breaking trail.

Certainly one of my timelier automotive purchases; just in time for the global warmingest winter we've had in Indy since I moved here.

Last winter was bad, but this is even worse. The alley would have been impassible to the Z3 without snow tires for most of this year so far. My plan was to have the Zed towed to the shop and fairly comprehensively overhauled as soon as I got back from my last trip down to TN, but the snow berm behind the garage hasn't cleared off to where we could get a flatbed towtruck in there for the last month.

EDIT: It's bad enough back in the alley that I had to go help push Bobbi's car the last couple feet out onto the street. There was still enough snow back there to high-center a Hyundai Accent. If I'm recollecting a'right, that's only the second time since I moved here that it took manual assistance to get that little kimchi-burner out of the alley.

I'll take "Irony" for $500, Alex...

Welcome to Russia! You've been pwned!

Apparently just turning your phone on in the airport can get you pwned, but you have to admire the tone-deafness to irony in this statement here:
The U.S. State Department has told Americans coming to Sochi that they should have “no expectation of privacy,” even in their hotel rooms.
Why, Mr. Kerry? Is the NSA there, too? Are all the hotel rooms in Sochi within the DHS's 100-mile "border search exception zone"?

Who's gonna probulate the American travelers headed for the Olympics worse? The Russian mob, the FSB, or the TSA? At least the hackers are only going to touch people's junk metaphorically.

Winter wonderland?

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

Official snowfall at IND is 7.1", with another inch or two expected this morning. What that translates to on Roseholme Cottage's sidewalks is unknown, but unlikely to be good. At least the worst of this is well on its way to Pennsylvania and points east by now.

I'm going to have my NOS and my Spicy Hot V8 and wash down a handful of these patent nostrums, sovereign remedies, and placebos, and then I'm going to do the un-fun part of shovelling before I do the fun part of getting the Subie cranked up and breaking trail in the alley, in case the neighbor with the Trooper hasn't already done so.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

"It's not _______ when we do it!"

Is broadly painting group of people as "bigoted simpletons" not, well, a little simplistic and bigoted?

The lack of self-awareness occasionally displayed by the Smugocracy is simply stunning.

Overheard in the Bathroom...

RX: *laughing* "I can't get in the shower!"

Me: "What?"

RX: "There's a shower cat in here."

Me: "Is he defending his little cave again?"

RX: "Yep."

Me: "Wait! Lemme fetch the camera!"

While the flash gave away his position this morning...

...this ambush can be a little startling if it happens in a dimly-lit bathroom at 0gawd30, as has once happened to me. Luckily, I was already sitting down.

Hatches battened...

Then again, they haven't spent much time un-battened since New Year's Day.

Hoosieropolis is situated roughly halfway between the Great Lakes and the Ohio valley, and so when these storms come barreling out of the west it seems like the dividing line between 6"-10" of snow and 2"-6" of a nasty snow/ice mix is always within a few miles, one way or another, of I-70. Frankly, I'll take the greater amount of dry, powdery snow any day.

The southern edge of that dark blue line just clips into northern Marion county, a few miles north of Broad Ripple, but that purple sleet and ice line passes only a couple counties to the south, which is way too close for comfort as far as I'm concerned. Six inches of powder doesn't bring trees down on power lines, but three inches of icy slush sure does.

Also, thanks to record amounts of climate change this year, local municipalities and even INDOT are running low on road salt, and some county school boards are already petitioning the state Department of Education for waivers for excessive snow days.

While I spin up the word turbines...

...y'all can ponder just how close we came to the destruction of the universe caused by this paradox.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Overheard in the Hallway...

Me: "What's up with Al Roker today? Every time they cut to or from a break, Al is sitting there chortling and rocking back and forth in his chair like a man with a live squirrel down his pants."

RX: "Al might like that sort of thing."

Me: "For all I know, it was in his contract. 'Well, Al, ratings are up over last season and your spot's been really popular. So, like we agreed, here's a live squirrel down your trousers.'"

C/D magazine. C/D magazine slump. Slump, magazine, slump!

P.J. O'Rourke's had a few pieces at Car and Driver magazine in the last few years. Getting his byline in there is probably a good idea, on the whole, but... I believe I've noted that I think P.J. O'Rourke has lost a half-step or so in the humor department, as though domesticity and fatherhood might have blunted whatever edge it was that made him go get drunk in Beirut bars before hiring a taxi across the Green Line to see if anything funny was happening in PLO-controlled areas.

Similarly, John Phillips makes me sad, now that the Eddie Alterman Era at Car and Driver seems to have forced him out of the NPR closet. The same guy who made me laugh to tears in articles about driving a 512TR cross-country or taking a fleet of 4WD minivans to Deadhorse in winter just isn't funny when he feels obliged to slip a Fox News joke into every paragraph to show that C/D isn't the Limbaugh of car mags anymore.

I can hear the editorial meeting: "We're trying to appeal to a younger audience, and younger people are more liberal, right? Work that angle." What is humorous when used as the occasional aside is monotonous when it becomes one's whole schtick.

While Aaron Robinson has occasional flashes of wit, the rest of the staff is workmanlike at best, and sophomoric too often. Worst of all, no matter how much I want to like Alterman, if only for the reason that my generation is finally at the helm of my favorite car magazine, I can't get over the urge to give him a swirly, and that column-header portrait of him staring at the sky like a stunned coney doesn't help.

Please, C/D, I stuck with you through that awful redesign and humored your over-tolerance of your crazy drunken uncle Brock, but if you stop being funny, we're going to have to break up.