Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Get Smart

Dear NRA:

If you really value my opinion on your telephone survey, it would be helpful if
. . . .

(1) You don't call someone during mealtime on a SUNDAY, on a holiday weekend.

(2) You actually direct your people to listen, so when you call while I'm wrestling a roast from the oven and I try to politely say, as a dedicated member, "can you call back?" you don't plow right over me before I can get two words out and immediately cut off live communication to launch into a recording, admonishing me like a wayward child to listen as you need my feedback.

(3) You have callers that actually sound like something other than a bored robot reading a script. If they obviously don't believe in your message, but are just reading it for X dollars per hour, and obviously are hating to do so by their tone, then why should I?

No, I'm not going to cancel my membership. Rudeness or not, you do some great good out there and I would like to continue to be a supporter. But yes, I will treat you like any other rude telemarketer and just hang up if you do this again. As Jay G. would say. That is all.
- Brigid

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Battle Foods

"The Drop Scone was one of the most feared of the battle breads -- heavy enough to do serious damage if dropped from a height of six inches, and aerodynamic enough to stun an opponent at a distance if hurled from a sling. A variant was designed to shatter on impact, scything the surrounding area with razor-sharp crumbs.
Witches Abroad - Terry Pratchett.

These however, would probably not do any damage, other than to the waistline.

Flakey scones with blackberry jam

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Night Bachelor Chow

Friday night. The house is quiet, and after a long week, AND a long day, I'm starving. I could go along with my co-workers on one of those commercial diet meal plans and have this?

Here's one of their "dinners" which consisted of pureed salt-like by product flavored with artificial potato and some small chunks of "fricassee of solent green" floating in some strangely Star Trek red-orange gravy. But it's only 250 calories!

Or I could pour a Guinness, steam the last of the incredible Farmer Frank corn that was frozen briefly, roast some garden veggies in a little balsamic dressing and have THIS.

Like it's open for discussion.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Cap and Trade has been on my mind a lot. Especially the one proposed part of it regarding an inspection to make sure your home is "green" before you can sell it. The Range is old. And huge, space wise. Much more than I need for just me. I bought it with the thought that my Dad would come to live with me (he had a small stroke the year I bought it and my step mom was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer) but he's recovered well and wants to stay out west where my brothers are so that's settled.

If Cap and Trade passed, in my state it wouldn't just be taxes going up. My heating bill would skyrocket. Goods and services everywhere would go up as businesses have no choice but to pass on their own increased costs to consumers. Even our own governor said it smacks of "imperialism". Also to be considered, the bill would impose enormous taxes and restrictions on free commerce by wealthy but faltering "blue states" such as California, Massachusetts and New York, seeking to exploit politically weaker states in order to prop up their own decaying economies and pay for their lofty new social programs.

The Waxman-Markey legislation would more than double electricity bills in my state of Indiana, erasing years of reform. In recent years, Indiana has been a leader in capturing international investments, repatriating dollars spent on foreign oil and goods and providing jobs. We've been hit hard by the economy in general. Add in a bill designed to reverse that flow and I'd have to agree with Mr. Daniels statement, "Closed- Gone to China" would be on the doors of many shops and factories.

But it's not just taxes, it's also the cost of taking care of the many large, older family homes that those of us in the "farm belt" have bought. The range is such a place. The bit of land it sits on tends to itself financially but the cost of heating a big old place with 20 foot ceilings, even with new windows. . . ouch. $350 a month now to heat it when it's minus 8 out. Try doubling that. I had planned to "downsize", less house, more land, when I got past 50 but if I wait until after C and T and have to make this thing energy efficient to sell it, I will lose money. I've already lost $55,000 of the equity I had in it in housing crash #1. I'm not excited about losing more in crash #2 in the homeowners market that would like follow Cap and Trade.

So I'm thinking of downsizing now. Small, efficient home on slightly more land. Much smaller house. MUCH larger shop area for reloading and other crafts. I could put stuff in storage and rent a small studio while it's built if this place sells quickly. Further out from the city. Closer to the gun range that I like to shoot at. (It's a 45 mile drive each way for me now). My township is booming, as the crime rate reflects, and houses around me ARE selling. So, what say you readers? Is it time for a new adventure?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Swine Flu Love Sonnet

I shall seek and find you.
I shall take you to bed and control you.
I will make you ache, shake and sweat until you grunt and groan.
I will make you beg for mercy.
I will exhaust you to the point that you will be relieved when I leave you and you will be weak for days.

All my love,

the Flu

I got lucky, two of my best friends picked up the H1N1 virus and though I was around them (but not in the biblical sense) I didn't catch it, or did and got a mild version. I had the sniffles and cough that lasted most of the week and mild fever and just felt generally crappy for the first couple of days (sorry I missed the house project, Roberta). But I didn't get tested as I was not all that sick and working virtual most of the time. If you get it, it seems, for most adults and older kids, to normally consist of 3 days with the fever, subsiding and spiking again and lots of coughing and then it subsides, though you will feel like Jabba the Hut had taken up residence in your chest for a few days.

I think the media has sensationalized it, but it is, like all winter flu bugs, NASTY and for some specific risk groups, potentially deadly. So if you, or a family member are pregnant, immune compromised, and/or start running a fever of over a 100 for more than a couple of days that doesn't respond to normal OTC fever reducers, and seem unresponsive, especially if it is a child,
Get to a doctor, now. A real one. (I normally only work with the deceased so don't ask me.)

Doc B.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

For my New Readers - Can you See Clearly Now?

When you're at the range you need to see clearly. You also have to watch for things that can damage your eyes. Wind, sun and dust are always eye irritants. A piece of hot brass in the eye would be more than irritating. I used to hunt and hike without glasses until I got a piece of a tree branch poked in my eye while wrestling with a tree stand. A little cosmetic damage and a very painful injury to the cornea that came close to wrecking my eyesight.

Occasionally you'll see folks at the range who just wear their regular sunglasses or prescription glasses. Those are certainly better than nothing, and some of the wrap around ones and larger styles I've seen have nearly the same coverage area as glasses designed for shooters. But if you shoot with sunglasses or other glasses that barely cover the eye itself, or due to improper fit, they hang down on your nose, you risk a hot round going where you don't want it. I've done the "hot brass in the bra" dance before. Getting that near the eye would be no fun.

Experienced shooters have learned what works for them. This post is geared for those who are new to shooting, just picking out a pair. Why? Because there are 35+ different brands on the market today, and each brand has many models. That's why I wear pretty much the same thing to work every day. I really don't want to spend an hour picking out what to wear. And shopping for me is the same thing. I research it online, talk to people who know what is good, then make a beeline to the store, grab what I need and get out. In and out in 10 minutes is my goal, with as much loot as I need for the month in that time. I learned my shopping techniques from past generations of Vikings on my grandma's side.

There are some questions you should ask. Clear? Tinted? Prescription or something to go over your glasses? Interchangeable lenses? Lawnmower Pale Ale or IPA (sorry. . wrong question).

And what the heck is an "impact resistance rating?"

Actually, it's one of the most important considerations you should have. Color, fit and style, and protection are all important, but it doesn't matter if the glasses themselves won't protect the eyes. Impact resistance ratings are generally standardized through agencies or organizations such as Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OHSA), American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and the U.S. Military. These standardized rating provide the minimum recommended impact resistance for safety based lens. Here is the rating information from each group if any of you are into such bits of information:
  • OHSA Safety Standard 1910.133(a)(2) requires impact resistant lens AND "eye protection that provides side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects."
  • ANSI standards for impact resistance are outlined in article Z87.1 and Z87.3. These standards were provided to ANSI by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and specifically focus on eye safety.
  • U.S. Military - The U.S. Military uses a testing standard called MIL-V-43511C, which is a .22 caliber ballistics impact test. U.S. Military eyewear must pass this standard before being issued to any U.S. military personnel.
I can't say that I've always shot with glasses that met those specs. One or two of the "rental" glasses at indoor ranges were dubious at best. But if I had to buy a pair I'd make sure they met one of these standards.

Color. Look, it's not a fashion show. You don't need to coordinate your eyewear to your outfit, though I've seen that. But I don't have a pink gun either. The colors of the lens are more than fashion, they actually impact how you view your range. If you click on this picture you can see it larger. Here's the difference between clear and yellow on a winter day. The glasses used are those pictured down below.

  • Gray, Gray-Green, and "smoke" tints. These tend to be the most abundant colors, effective at blocking glare without changing your color perception, which makes them a good "all weather" choice. If you're going to have just one pair, this might be your favorite color. Grey is a neutral that allows the wearer to see colors just as they are. They don't enhance the target but they are good in bright sunlight. I shoot almost always outdoors and this color works well there.
  • Amber-Brown lens tints. These are especially good at blocking the blue light commonly found in diffused light such as one might find on a cloudy day. Amber improve both contrast and depth perception.
  • Yellow or Orange tints. These colors give you a sensation of heightened visual acuity. They are common as driving lenses. Lenses in these hues block haze and blue light and will enhance the orange color of the target. If you're shooting at night, the bright yellow tint may also be useful.
  • Purple-"Vermillion" tints. Sorry manufacturers, you can call it vermililon until the cows come home and it's still "pink". However, this color range WILL enhance the orange of the target against a background of tall trees. "Vermillion" itself is useful to highlight conditions where there is a poor background, such as trees, and to enhance the target against that background. One of those love or hate tints, you might like them or find they take some time getting comfortable with.
Then there is just clear. I have those. I shoot at a range that's outdoors but mostly covered and they work just fine.

There are also glasses with interchangeable lens. I haven't tried them so can't offer any advise as to how well they hold up, but they are increasing in popularity in sales.

Just one important note: Tint doesn't necessarily mean UV protection
. A darker lens doesn't guarantee more protection for the eye from the sun. There are three types of UV rays (I'm a very very fair skin redhead, I know my UV rays).

UVC - The atmosphere filters UV-C, not a real concern.
UVA - The cause of sun related drug reactions.
UVB - This type of UV is responsible for sunburn, prolonged eye damage, and many forms of skin cancers. It can penetrate thin cloud layers and up to three feet of water. This is the one that will do the greatest damage to eyes. Just like to the skin, the damage may not be obvious, but may be cumulative.

You will want a pair of shooting glasses that absorb at least 99% of UV radiation. You'll see that noted on the packaging with something like this:

"Meets ANSI UV requirements!"
"Blocks 99% or 100% of UV rays"
""UV absorption up to 400nm"
"Improved - Now with BACON!" (OK, wishful thinking)

Don't rely on the tint of the lens, Any good Polycarbonate lens will block or absorb UV rays well, even in the clear form.

That goes to the next question: What TYPE of lens material? The previously mentioned Polycarbonate is one of those types that is usually recommended by professionals.It has a higher impact rating than Crown Glass and is MUCH lighter. It also has a higher impact resistance rating than CR39 plastic with no appreciable trade off in weight. Crown Glass and CR 39 Plastic offer little or no UV protection.

I wear glasses at work. I have clear disposable contacts for days off, but I understand the expense and trouble of getting prescription glasses that are custom in nature. Not all manufacturers of shooting glasses can be made with prescription lenses. There go some of your choices there. The brands that do have designs that will accept a prescription lens tend to be on the high side of the pricing levels so you will end up paying more for the frame. It may well be a VERY good frame, but it's still more expensive. Most prescription shooting classes have to be custom made by an optometrist or other eye care professional. So you may pay not just more for the frame, but the custom making. Another consideration - most of the prescription lenses are not made from the Polycarbonate, but from the cheaper CP39 plastic. So you are paying top dollar for what might not have been your first lens material choice and you may take a hit on UV protection, depending on how they are made.

These glasses may end up costing as much as that first spouse. Is it worth it?

For myself, I'd consider it
if I could not wear contacts and had to fit my shooting glasses over my prescription glasses. I was just never comfortable shooting with a large pair of shooting glasses over my prescription glasses. But there are other, less expensive, options. It's a relatively new concept called "prescription inserts." Basically they are prescription lenses that are designed to mount inside of the glasses between the eyes and the glasses lens. They look something like this:

It's a pretty new concept and if any of you have tried them ,please let us know. ESS Shooting Glasses (pictured) came recommended though I haven't tried them myself. as I weaer my contacts when I shoot. They are about a third of the cost of a Oakley prescription set up (one brand that I have used and was quite pleased with, though the price was a bit much). For more detailed information on shooting glasses and this type go to: http://www.shooting-glasses-guide.com .

Lastly - look for "fit". It's vital the lens adequately cover enough of the eye area to provide proper protection. This is especially important for the side areas of the eye. Look for shooting glasses with lenses that wrap around past the sides of the eye for complete coverage. The frame material should be something lightweight, which will make a noticeable difference in their comfort. There's plastic, aluminum, titanium. Whatever they're made of, look for adjustable frames or flexible temples, so you can fine tune your glasses to your face. Flexible temples can allow you to wrap around your ear in a "cable" style to help keep the frame in place and the tips of the temples may feature little rounded ends for even greater comfort. Nose pads are nice so the glasses rest comfortably.

So you're saying "that's all well and good Brigid but I don't want to spend $50 or more on shooting glasses." There are other options.

I'm sure there are many that will disagree, but most (not all) safety glasses also make decent shooting glasses. There are some good UV protected safety glasses with high impact resistance available for a quarter of the price of some big name shooting glasses. I have a couple pairs of them as "spares" for shooting with a house guest with no gear, or just to have as a back up. They're cheap, they do the job well and they do demonstrate that not all safety glasses are chintzy. A pry bar was taken to this old pair (the neighbors are watching. . . better wave, they've been looking at me funny since I dropped the bodily fluid clean up kit by the mailbox). WHACK! WHACK! The lens remains intact. Damaged, but not cracked. These guys were TOUGH.

Smith and Wesson makes a good pair of safety glasses/shooting glasses. Less than one ounce, polycarbonate, wraparound lenses and 99.9% UV protection. Hinge stops, temple tips and nose piece, platinum frames. The glasses exceed ANSI Z87.1 performance standards. Less than $18. There are others of the same quality for less and I'm sure the readers will appreciate your suggestions in the comments.

As I've always said. Do your homework, watch and ask. What works for one shooter may not be your favorite. Just protect your eyes. For night or day, sometimes things go flying around.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What is in a Name?

click on pictures to enlarge
What is in a name? For people who know and appreciate firearms, just the name makes a statement. So many names that in and of themselves, speak of quality, of history. You tell someone you bought a gun, and you get interest. But to certain folks, you say. "I bought a 1911", or I bought a "Browning" and you get some attention. Just the world "Colt" makes ME blush like a schoolgirl.
The sciences were my subjects in school, and walking through an excavation, through a field, I can name things: trees, plants, animals. Acer diabolicum, canas lantrans, Mephitis mephitis (run guys run!), chrysomya rufifacies. Latin (quite often a mixture of Latin and Greek) was the language used by educated people and by the church in older times, so Latin was used to give scientific names to animals and plants. The names though weren't just given randomly. They meant something. Corynocarpus means that the seed looks like a club. Laevigatus refers to the fact that the leaves are smooth. The same used to happen to people names. People called Smith probably had a blacksmith as a (many-times) great-grandfather. My grandmother was a Gullikson, her Dad's name likely coming from Son of Gullik.

I'm currently reading
Undaunted Courage, a story about the Lewis and Clark expedition. Lewis and Clark did more than chart, they named. Their party named everything they ran across that didn't already have one, spots of land, trees, like the lodge pole pine, Pinus contorta, trees twisted and stunted by Pacific coast storms. They named birds, the Lewis woodpecker, the Clark's nutcracker. They named the waters they traveled down or places they camped after game taken or the birthday of someone born the day they encountered it for the first time.

We also name many things. I have "The Range", my friends have "Roseholme Cottage". You may have a name for your own home. We may have a name for our vehicle; we almost always have a name for our boat. (my former 22 foot fishing boat was Irish Wake). The Wilson Combat Tactical AR-15 that rides behind me in a case in my truck is named Vera. Call me odd but it makes me smile (and most of you will know why). In some religions it is believed that people can not be granted eternal life until they have been baptized, until they have been given a name.

In the Bible all things are drawn out by name. In Genesis it says that "God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas". To exist is to have a name.Yet we do not know God's name. Yhwh, four ancient Hebrew letters, a word without vowels, a name that does not name. The power to name is the power to create, and the power to create is the power to destroy.

People have birth names and nicknames. Brigid is my birth name, later to be my middle baptismal name, after I was adopted. I have a title. I have the name of my father, which is not the name of my husband which I still bear, years after that marriage passed. I have the name that only my brothers can get away calling me. They are all part of me, they all in their forms, describe me. As little girls we give our dolls names to bring them to life. As adults we name our pets to make them members of the family.There are some living things that define classification, and thus defy being named."Protists", groups of living things comprising those eukaryotes which are neither animal, plant or fungi. Protists - the scientists way of saying "none of the above". One of them is algae. Bones are affected under the earth by algae, fungi and bacteria. The traces of damage due to fungi or algae appear in thin ground sections as horizontal or vertical channels which sometimes converge on one another to form large flat or tufted like forms, causing the entire bone to disintegrate. In some rare cases, destroying all we might have left to identify someone by name.
Sometimes all that is left to be buried is a few teeth, a piece of bone. But it is at least something to be placed in the ground with a name. Something for remembrance, for closure. On my long drive into the city I see the occasional cross by the road, with simply a name and perhaps a few flowers. How important these undistinguished little memorials. Every death is a memory that ends here, yet continues on. Enduring, for there is not one of us who can affirm that there must be a web of muscle and bone to hold the form of love. It's there, in dust and sky and new life, it's there deep within us, waiting.

Just north of my home is a small, very old graveyard. I can get there by walking wooded trails just west of the county road. One day there was an elderly man, kneeling down by one of the graves, a stone probably 50 years old. As he knelt, he gently touched the engraving on the stone, tracing the name of a young woman with his fingers - Elizabeth -wife, mother. The name that of someone who passed so very long ago. The feel of her name beneath his hand, carved there for generations to come, seemed to offer him some comfort, and I quietly left him in peace, wondering if when I am gone, someone will trace my name.So what is in a name? It is memory, and memory is not simply selective, it is also tutelary, oracular. It is, in the end, as reliable as we are, as strong as our word. The names and facts of my life by themselves are insignificant. But what our names represent is history, a life. When I look at the name of someone I loved on a gravestone, I do not see stone, I do not see letters. I see memory, and that is what we live on for. A simple name brings back memories, as a plunge underwater in a swift stream, as an airplane baffled and bounced in a fierce Spring wind as we labored to get home, as a Southwest night pouring into our heads every star, as smells of kitchens and gunpowder and black earth and lilacs and coffee and warm need, as a hatred of loss, as a discarding of painful past, as stillness and persistence going forward alone. I trace the outline of a name, be it family or friend, and I know how that name made me feel. And that is not insignificant

All along the wooded trail going home there are things we might miss seeing, because they have not been named. Small pools of darkness within a wandering stream, the gloss of light on leaves and the shape of shadows on the bark. The feel of the wind against my neck, a gentle reminder from up above that I will not be forgotten. A reminder that He who has no name, knows mine. The wind as cool breath on my neck reminding me that I am loved, that my name is on someones lips. For earth without form is void, but heaven without names is only blackness.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

For my Firefly Fans -

I Aim to Misbehave.

Chocolate Cream Pie. My coworkers were very happy to see me back from vacation, espcially when I walked in carrying a pan. . .

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Flatiron Fixin's

The sun was up on the Flatirons and the view from the road in front of the house mid week was amazing, though it was quick as Mr.Mountain Lion has been spotted hunting on the ditch line behind the homes up here and he left a little calling card (dead Mule deer) in the next door neighbor's yard. When you are on the menu you don't tarry long.
Time for a proper breakfast. BAKED FRENCH TOAST WITH PEACHES, cream cheese, maple and nuts.



with fresh fruit and of course, BACON. I'm not sure if it's the clean mountain air and water,
or the treks way up high. . . .
but I'm as hungry as a mountain lion.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A small blast of a whistle from Colorado

Ghosts of Trains

From the mist there comes a train

a vision of noise and steam.
Vital glory not tempered by time
headed East for suns first gleam.

Bridging a gap of deep drowned past
moving onto mournful plain.
Abandoned dream and memory
washed clean by wind and rain.

The whistle sings the sad goodbye

of lovers that have strayed.
A song of melancholy rails

for prices we have paid.
What is it of a train that draws
beneath this heedless sky?
Escape or fire, strength, desire
I could not tell you why.

But I find it hard to turn away
with unremitting breath
Machinery fueled by fires might
inhaling life from death

Too late to catch but not to dream
its lure for me won't wane.
For gathered now inside of me
the ghosts of trains remain.
Brigid 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Barkley Haiku

I am your best friend.
Then, now, and especially
during Guinness stew.
Irish Stew with Brigid's Beer Bread (recipe now up in the sidebar)

Update: Faol of the Wood
made this recipe and posted it with a great picture.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Vacation - Day 6

What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It begins

At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want
Lao Tzu -Tao Te Ching

Reinforcements came in and I'm free to start my vacation that was scheduled a year ago. Leaving at first light.The truck is packed. I've got books on tapes (Into the Wild, World War Z and Charm School by Nelson DeMille), water, weaponry, sandwiches and supplies. I'll post comments and posts when I can, so you all keep the home fires burning.