Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Quote of the Week

Be master of your petty annoyances and conserve your energies for the big, worthwhile things.
It isn't the mountain ahead that wears you out - it's the grain of sand in your shoe. 
―   Robert W. Service

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Weekend Begins

I am back from my journeys, loaded up Barkley and headed out to Midwest Chick  and Mr. B.'s homestead. I don't live in Indianapolis but close enough the traffic is still wicked during race week.  I usually head way out of Dodge.  

Right now, I'm surrounded on the large couch  by tactical kitties Tank and Bob Cat while two black labs (Barkley and the Amazing Schmoo) are on the floor waiting for Mr. B. to cook the bacon and sausage. The backyard squirrels have made their early morning run on the bird food but were fended off  :-)

We're still pretty full from the blue cheese and bacon plus the mushroom and cheddar stuffed burgers grilled last night) but. . .

 It IS bacon and sausage.  . . and waffles.

 EJ is far away saving the world, to return soon, but the Og family is going to stop by, so much of the usual gang will be here.  I have four days off, there's a couple large bags in the freezer from Beef Mart and some steam engine bits in the barn.  Let the weekend begin!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Barkley Presents - Snoozing vs. Surfing

Top Ten Reasons Snoozing on the Couch is Better than Surfing the Web.

10.  I can't stick my head out of Windows 7.
9.    "You've got mail" less fun to bark at than actual mailman.
8.    I thought it was  What a disappointment!
7.    A butt sniff is more honest than most online dating sites.
6.    I can't mark where I've visited without getting yelled at.
5.    Bruised nose trying to catch MPEG ball.
4.    No Microsoft Opposable Thumb
3.    Mouse doesn't come with cat app
2.    Carpal Paw Syndrome

And the #1 reason?

SPAM's not food ? !

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Give Us This Day

I could never manage the whole "low carb" thing.  I tried it and within 24 hours I was ready to take hostages at a Dunkin Donuts. I'll  never be skinny, I just want to be strong and healthy.  Besides, there are men in the world that do not want to spend their time with a woman who looks like a bag of antlers.

So bread is still my friend.  Brot, pan, brød, le pain, Хлеб in Russian, Khoubz in Arabic. Sliced, torn, blessed, kissed, eaten fresh from the oven or broken, slightly stale and sweetened into milky coffee. There are as many variations as there are languages.  In some cultures it's eaten with every meal, in many parts of the world it IS the meal. But since it's something I have at least once a day, I want only the best. 

As  little kids in the late 60's, we had "Wonder" bread, with the trademark plastic white wrapper with brightly colored balloons on it.  It  made up most every kids lunchbox PB and J sandwich in those days, but it also made for great fun rolling  it up into little balls of dough the size of grapes and bouncing them on the floor.  When pressed, it had the texture of library paste and, if you removed the crust, you could use it to get an imprint of the Sunday funny papers. It wasn't food as much as fun.

But Mom didn't give us store bought bread all the time and she and Grandma knew how to make the best sweet breads and yeast rolls.  My favorite was a yeast roll, fragrant with butter and buttermilk that was baked in a muffin cup and spread out like fans, to be peeled apart and consumed ever so carefully.

Mom and Grandma Gullikson worked in the kitchen together, not really needing to talk except the occasional little quip or pun. Grandma lived with us.  Widowed not long past her 40th birthday, (my grandfather was a lumberjack), she was in good health, but Dad didn't want her to be alone when she was in her senior years.  Dad and my Mom met in grade school. Dad came  from an extremely disfunctional family. Grandma  G. recognized a kid who needed some support and love and welcomed Dad and his siblings into her home as childhood  friends of her own children.  As he grew up to love my Mom, he grew to love her family as his own.

So for me, it just seemed natural to have her in in the house as they baked. Mom would  lift the pans into the oven, Grandma laughing as she spilled salt and then threw a pinch over her shoulder, all the misfortune, worry and hunger that is the world, only so many grains on a finger that could be flung back in a gesture that was as much defiance as superstition.

Dad would join us, softly kissing the soft spot of flour, there on Mom's neck, brushing back a strand of auburn hair, sprinkled with more flour. Then we'd eat, the bread a benediction, a blessing, confirmation of the love that was in that house.

When I am home from my travels I will bake bread again.  Flour will swirl in a shaft of light, small smudges on my face and neck, salting my hair.  The oven heats up as I knead carefully, lift and weigh the smoothness and density in my hand, watching the bread rise up, the aroma filling the kitchen.  On the table is simply fresh butter, to spread on the top, lick out of the crevasse of layers, nibbling on the tender edges as the warmth fills our nostrils.

Yes, it's time to bake some bread.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pop Up Targets - the Sig P220

I've written a lot this last year about my smaller concealed pieces but there is one gun that is guaranteed to be found on my hip if I'm traveling somewhere other than a quiet little neighborhood errand for gas or such.

Sometimes you want something. . well. BIGGER. Like for breakfast on an early morning. I had some little store bought roll things, but I wanted Popovers  Real ones, baked in a deep popover pan. If you've never had straight out of the oven popovers, you don't know what you're missing. With just eggs, milk, flour, salt and just a tablespoon of butter for the whole batch, you get big crispy sided puffs with a soft, buttery, airy center. You need to measure exactly though.  This is not a recipe that will turn out by guessing the amount of ingredients in your hand.  But if they turn out well, with the right recipe, low humidity and the six muffin pan, they are incredible, lacking the thick interior of a roll or muffin, but rather having  a center of just thinly stretched pieces of the eggy, cream puff-like dough. If you've had gougère that's probably the best comparison, but these are airier, thanks to that popping effect.

click on photos to enlarge

A few ingredients,just butter, eggs, salt, flour, butter and about two minutes prep time and they were in the oven baking. You can make these in a muffin tray but they don't rise as high.  They cook at a high temperature for about 15 minutes, then are turned down. The steam inside builds the top up.

With some fresh blackberry preserves, a perfect start to a shooty day.

I've often sung the praises of the church of the 1911 and I'm a big fan of some of the Smith and Wesson wheele guns, but a definite favorite for home and occasional concealed is my Sig P220. In 1975 the Swiss armed forces adopted the P220 as the Model 75 in 9mm Parabellum; Japan, Denmark and France subsequently followed suit. This pistol, chambered in either 9mm Parabellum, 7.65mm Parabellum (.30 Luger), .45 ACP or .38 Super, was first marketed in the U.S. by Browning under the name BDA (Browning Double-Action). Those I know that procured one of those BDA models love them. Dubbed the "Thinking Man's .45" for good reason, the new Sig P220 is solid shooter. For me, it is what I term a "serious working gun" and I keep .45 acp 230 grain Hydra-Shok jacketed hollow points for it. (For those of you new to shooting, Hydra-Shok features a unique, patented center-post design and notched jacket. The center post acts to prevent plugging of the hollowpoint cavity with clothing and tissue which can cause a failure to expand, reducing the failure rate, and making for a better defense choice.

On first picking up the P220 .45 you'll notice - it's solid, with some heft to it. Like the other pistols in this series (P225 and P226), the P220 will not find favor with you if you have an unrequited love for wood furniture and milled forgings. Fabricated from an aluminum alloy, the frame has a durable, matte black, anodized finish. The aluminum frame is largely responsible for the pistol's total weight of only 25.5 ounces, without magazine. And there's no Safety - it's DA/SA - the safety is between your ears. If you're only comfortable riding cocked and locked, this isn't the gun for you.

The P220 that I have is a large framed .45 ACP with a single stack magazine and the DA/SA that is the classic Sig Sauer. SIG was, in my mind, the first to actually get the DA/SA right--just draw and fire, and they are probably still the best. Some folks don't like that, but I think if you can master the DA/SA you can shoot about anything else. But it's something you have to spend a bit of time on. If you have a good DA trigger, like I do, it's very easy to shoot well with. The often stated "your first shot will be way off" was never true in my experience. My low ready shots with the P220 are just as decent as my SA only shots from the 1911.That first DA shot always goes just where I'm looking, but perhaps that was just getting comfortable with the feel of the trigger, especially in shooting the magazine double tap.


The DAK (for Double Action Kellerman, after the designer of the system) is an option in the SIG's, including the Combat 220. When firing the pistol the first trigger pull is only 6.5 lgf (compared to 10 pounds for the typical DAO). When the pistol fires and the trigger is released forward, the trigger has an intermediate reset point that;s about halfway to the trigger at rest position. The trigger pull from this intermediate reset point is 8.5 lbf. If the trigger is released all the way forward, this will engage the primary trigger reset and have a trigger pull of 6.5 lbf. To engage the intermediate reset, the trigger must be held to the rear while the slide is cycled, either manually or by the recoil of a round being fired. I fired one on a pistol I rented at a range while traveling. DAK is OK, it feels like the Glock/XD/M&P with a slightly long, light, smooth consistent DA pull. But to be honest, if you want DAK you might be just as happy with a Glock. I know JayG loves his G30 and Caleb does toothe the Glock 21that EJ won at Gunbloggers Rendesvous is sweet.  But I want a SIG, and I want it to feel like a SIG. But it is all subjective, this is one area where it's strictly personal opinion and mine may well be different than yours or the next persons.
The magazines come in both 7 and 8 round capacities, I have the 8, and though it came with two magazines, I've purchased several extras as I will shoot off 4 or 5 magazines with just a pause for breath. When I called the gun store and asked them if they had that model, I was met with some hesitation. I could tell the fellow didn't mean to be impolite, but he said "uh. . Miss. . have you held one yet?" I knew what he was getting at. "Yes, I have really long fingers" and he knew exactly what I meant. Ladies -it is a gun that does need somewhat long fingers. If you are petite with small hands or short fingers, you might have a stretch on the DA trigger. Though once the guns is in SA mode it's easier, though the transition will feel odd to you, and on first shot you might even think it jammed.

The answer to that is to simply make sure and practice going from DA to SA while firing it. This is easily accomplished with the decocking lever on the P220; just decock the gun, fire a few rounds, then decock it again to ensure you are experienced with this transition.The DA pull on the P220 is relatively heavy as DA pulls go, but if you have any decent strength in your hand at all, it's not an issue and is smooth enough that you don't have to measurably increase the pressure at all through the pull. In SA mode there is a considerable take-up on the trigger, but it breaks nicely and, once past the take-up, feels much like a typical 1911 trigger break.
The sight is the vertical "dot the I" type and in good light it's great though at an indoor range of 50 feet or more, with less than great lighting you might have to work at it. You can also get the Truglow fiber/tritium sights for this weapon? I've not used them, but they are just dandy on the XD.

Probably the best thing about the P220 is it's solid feel. Again, a personal preference, but the extra weight does help manage some of the recoil. Yes - as in "Holy Recoil Batman!" You feel like you're really shooting something, not playing with some little kids gun. Yet, the P220 is like no other .45ACP- it just sort of rolls back slightly in the hand under recoil and allows for a quick followup shot Unless you have an extremely small hand, you'll find the controls well placed and large enough to maneuver, and there's just enough movement required to reach the mag release that it's not likely you'll hit it accidentally while firing. The decocking lever is located well and isn't wimpy. This is NOT a Hello Kitty gun. It's precision engineering folks and it has a takedown for cleaning that's the easiest of anything I've owned. Though be aware of the recoil spring weight, it's HEFTY, so this is not a good weapon for someone with weak upper body strength. All areas that need to be cleaned and maintained are easy to get to once the gun is broken down. but with the engineering and the tight fit of it all, have someone walk you through the procedures before going past anything past simple cleaning.

As for the concerns on firing that have popped up on forums. I know some PD's had some problems showing up in some of the 220's after 10 years of service, and after 50,000 rounds there was some hairline cracks in the frame and there's stories of jamming. But these were severely used guns with 50,000 rounds of 230 grain Hydra Shock. I think that proves how good the guns are as opposed to being a worry. I've not had a "new" SIG so am not familiar with any problems there. With quality ammo, mine has never jammed.

For that reason, it's a "big" gun with a nice slender slide that I'm comfortable with on my hip in its Blackhawk holster, for a trip to to the wild, be it urban street or forest. Because sometimes you just want something a little larger and more mighty on your plate.
Photo taken moments before the little store bought roll threw itself off the table in shame.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Girls Day Out - The Wookie Goes to the Art Fair

With bat phone in hand,  I headed down to the city to meet  Tam and Roberta X. for the Broad Ripple Art Fair.  With temps in the 80's by 10 am, with high humidity, it was going to be a warm one.  So we grabbed our little point and shoot cameras, sunscreen and hats and headed out.  Roberta was on her bicycle, Tam and I were in the German Roller Skate with the top down and Rage Again the Machine on the radio (not that a tall blond and  redhead in a Z3 with that playing loudly would draw ANY attention in Broad Ripple).

There, in the shade by the bike parking in the cool T-shirt.  It's  Bobbie!

Tam got us  all our tickets (thanks Tam!) and soon we were inside. ARTSPARK!

First the ground rules, no shooting any mimes. Tam informed me that in Texas there is no season as they're considered pests but I had to remind her that up here the season is limited AND you need a silencer.

Making fun of the hippies is authorized.

Italian Ice is Mandatory.

Me - Come On Tam.

Tam - NO

Me - Didn't they just have a sale on finger cymbals at Brownells?

OK, maybe next year.

These were beautiful, the train the largest of the pieces.  I know someone who would like that.

$1500.  Maybe not this today, but the craftsmanship was incredible.

There were probably two  hundred booths with everything from pottery to metal art to fabric art. The variety was amazing, the talent, impressive.

This caught my eye.

As did this key holder, by the same artist, which Tam and Bobbie ended up going back and buying.

There's always food at the fair. Gee? What to order?

Ah, but we went for the gyros, the smell of the cooking meat and onions proving too much.

There were also booths with food to purchase, canned goods (mmmm candied jalapenos) and Bobbie was looking at some Amish popcorn (don't forget the Shaker Salt to go with it).

I bought something at the woodcrafters place (no, not the train) for a loved one, and a big print of The Milkyway of Galactic Center by John Chumuck, whose photographic work has been in many a magazine.

I wanted to buy a bunch of this, but it was a bit out of my budget. Still, extraordinary leather work.

After a few hours, we were definately warm and our legs were getting a bit sore (between  motorcycle wrecks and "labs on ice!" I think we have one good knee between us)

So we headed back towards Roseholme Cottage.  Say, the path takes us right by BRBP  and I don't know about you but I am THIRSTY AND I'm not on standby any longer.

Bobbie went on ahead  to home on the bike and Tam and headed out on the walk back towards the Pub.  It was hot and humid and as we got closer, I started slowing and wandering off the straight line in the trail.  Tam is behind me saying  "stay on target. . .stay on target"  and soon we were at the Brew Pub.


As the sun dipped in the sky it was time to say goodbye at Roseholme Cottage to everyone, and of course, Huck the Cat.  Come on Huck, come out and give me some love. . .

She let's go of me, I will hurt you !

Friday, May 18, 2012

Caffeinated Squirrels

I'm on standby with a bunch of squirrels this weekend, and it hopefully won't be too "interesting".   I've a saved post for the weekend, if I don't have time to write, but if I disappear from comments don't worry, I just had to go to work.

However,  I did manage a couple of finds the other weekend before strapping on the utility belt again.

A great new breakfast place AND a fairly new gun store, all within a short drive of most of the Indianapolis metro area.
We'll start with breakfast.  The Cinnamon Rooster  in Avon, Indiana (just west of Indy on highway 36.)  I found it sort of by accident. I had an Oreck vacuum that appeared to have vacuumed up a Storm Trooper or something (as when I turned it on all I got was a clunk clunk noise and little suction).  I had learned not to try and take the vacuum apart by myself (much in the way I learned not to turn on a powerful electromagnet with the keys to my truck stuffed in my bra) so I looked through the phone book for the nearest Oreck place.

A ha! There's one in Avon, not too far of a drive for me.  I had been told by locals that there was a restaurant a couple of doors down in the  same strip mall that has the "best sausage gravy in town".  Able to be coerced by a redhead who smells like cinnamon and mutters things like "sausage gravy" into his ear,  my Partner in Grime headed out with me to try it after dropping off the vacuum for servicing.

It reminded me of a little French cafe, very bright and clean.

I can see why. Not at all photogenic but incredibly good. . . . THE best sausage gravy in town, incredibly creamy and smooth with lots of little chunks of savory sausage on fluffy biscuits.  Paired with an egg that was fried in actual butter, not oil, and plenty of good coffee served with a smile it was the kind of breakfast that will fill you up for a day of shooty adventure.

EJ ordered the three pancakes topped with fried German apples.  I thought "Three?  Will that be enough?"


We'll have to come back for lunch sometime, a salad with hot bacon dressing with portabella mushrooms and cheese has to be good.

After that we were off to check out a gun store that had opened up a while back. Fort Liberty Firearms.

It was also on Highway 36 in Avon.  There was lots of activity and when we walked in, there were a number of customers standing around chatting firearms like family. It was more like walking into a home of a shooter than a retail business. It was spotlessly clean and warm and I was immediately welcomed with a "Hi! Can I help you Miss?" and James W., the clerk, showed me all  around and explained all their services, while my friend went over to look at accessories for his new Glock 21.   I really liked the way they had the cases set up by caliber, not manufacturer, so if I said "I'd like to see something in black, in a .45" it was all right there.  They also had a great collection of used wheel guns, all in pristine condition.

After a large tax bill after selling my house,  I had to pass on a sweet little J Frame S & W with a surprisingly low price.  But if it's still there when I go back, I may be taking it home.

We ended up chatting with several customers, a very nice bunch of folks. If you are over that way, stop in and say hi. They also do firearm repair and antique firearm restoration as well as have a good selection of accessories, including optics and mounts. You might be surprised what you'll find, even in a modestly sized store.

One last stop, to Half Priced Books before hitting the freeway.  There were several finds in the engineering, science and historical section and I picked up a little book for Tam  for when I see her.  Because any day that starts with good food and ends with friends and firearms is all right in my book.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Where the Wild Things Are

A simple stop along a country road, on the way to an assignment. It's the country, there's trees, sunshine, birds chirping.  It's safe to stop, there, a female all alone, out along an isolated road, far from home.  Right?

Fortunately I was armed, for I stumbled across a bobcat, lying in wait along the path.

You all be careful out there.  :-)


Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Eye Dominance and Shooting. I wrote a short post on it while back and one of my readers, a lady new to shooting, asked me to expand on it.  So S.,  here you go,  the original post and comments with some extra information and new pictures, while I finish tonight's dinner. After a day of nothing but a granola bar and what I think were hamster pellets, I'm ready.

"Eye Dominance" is not the eye that's the "strongest" or has the best vision but refers to the eye that the brain "prefers" or the one that has stronger "processing" in the brain. People usually have one eye that likes to "take over" when binocular vision is impaired, or one eye that is more sensitive to visual discrimination. My eyes are green, and sensitive to the light, but it still seems that even with sunglasses on, if I'm going to get "poked in the eye", it will be my dominant one.

For hunters and sharpshooters, it's recommended that one uses the dominant eye to line up the sights for that reason, because visual acuity, or discrimination is better, resulting in better accuracy. In shooting, in which fine monocular coordination and vision is required, the dominant eye certainly has an advantage. During suppression, when the brain "chooses" to process only one eye, the other eye is in essence "shut down". The brain is a very complex yet simple organ, in which a vast amount of visual information can be processed simultaneously or can completely disregard information from  the one eye.

I'm right handed but if you watch me as I shoot I have my right eye closed. And I am right handed. Which means I am LEFT eye dominant. Or Cross dominant. Most right-handed people are right-eye dominant and most left-handed people are left-eye dominant. But this certainly isn't true for everyone. For some people, hand and eye dominance are opposite, about 15% of the total population, a good percentage of which are women. Cross dominant eye is more common in female shooters and adolescent males, so ladies, do not believe those who tell you simplistically that everyone should shoot with two eyes open. For adult men, the majority who are not cross dominant it is a skill that can be learned fairly easily, but if you are cross dominant, it's much harder. About 70% of men are same-side dominant and they can be well advised to shoot with both eyes wide open. Also, with women, as with younger boys, absolute eye dominance in either eye is not the norm. And unlike the boys, they do not generally grow out of it.

Cross domination does create some differences in participating in the shooting sports, and as it can be subject to some changes due to sex, age and stress, it's good to periodically check which is your dominant eye, it might well result in an improvement in your shooting.If you're new to shooting or want to confirm which eye is dominant, it's easy. There's more than one way to do it. (1) If you hold your hand out at arm's length and make a circle, then view an object across the room by looking through that circle, your brain must choose which eye will actually focus on the object. Since your eyes are about 3" apart, both eyes cannot maintain the direct line-of-sight to the object. So one eye must take command, and you will, without thinking about it, position your hand more to the right if you're right-eye dominant, or slightly to the left if you're left-eye-dominant.

In either case, the eye that takes over and maintains the sight-line is the dominant eye. (2) Easier yet - make a small hole in the center of your hands, bring it up to the object you are looking at . . .mmmmm. . . .HP sauce. . . . and with both eyes open, look at the object and bring your hands to your face. The eye you come closest to as it draws near is normally your master.

One other way - (3) hold a CD at arms length. If you're a right-shouldered shooter, hold the CD in your right hand. Left-shouldered shooters hold the CD in your left hand. (Ignore the hand I have selected in the photo, that was simply so I could hold the camera in my right hand). Now look through the hole and focus on a stationary object. If you are a right-shouldered shooter, close your left eye. If you are left-shouldered, close your right eye. Now does the object you're looking at through the hold in the CD vanish from view or move it's position slightly across the hole? Or does it stay in one place? If the object remains stationary, you have the correct eye dominance. If it vanishes, you have a cross "master eye" dominance. Obviously there's subtle variances and some folks have shallow or "middle" vision.

I'm cross eye dominant, not a problem with handguns, unless they are really short barrelled (a low stock may cause a shift of eye dominance on all or, more commonly, some targets -those which cause one to press their head down into the stock). With most handguns, I simply turn my head slightly prior to the draw to line up my master eye down range and thus gain just a little speed on the first shot.

In my opinion , it's a bit more of a problem with shotguns. With a rifle, accuracy depends on a rock-steady hold, as the eye slights the front and rear sights to a stationary target. Shotguns though are dynamic, they're weapons of movement, My shotgun doesn't have a rear sight and to use it, my dominant eye thus becomes the rear sight. Where my problem lies with a shotgun is that I'm a right-shouldered shooter with a dominant left eye instead of a right one. So my left eye is controlling where my gun points and I will shoot behind a left-to-right crossing shot and in front of a right-to left.

If you have cross dominance and you discover it while new to the sport you can likely learn to shoot from the same shoulder as the master eye. For a new, young shooter, this is as easy as learning any new motor skill. But for those of us who have been shooting off and on for years, it's almost impossible to change the master eye, and changing to the opposite shoulder will just feel strange as you've already got some "muscle memory". Some instructors (and I am NOT an instructor - these are just my experiences) state a solution would be to block the cross-dominating eye with an eye patch or tape on the lens of the shooting glasses, to force you to use the non-dominant eye until it becomes more comfortable. However, this will give a partial loss of binocular and peripheral vision, but some readers have recommended it.

What works for me is to close the cross-dominant eye before the shot is taken. By doing this, I've retained peripheral and stereoscopic vision by keeping both my eyes open as I evaluate the shot, until the last split-second. Now I've got a clear picture of my target/barrel relationship with no chance of cross-dominance kicking in.

Of course the shotgun, with its wide pattern, is a forgiving weapon and despite dominance, you will do well some of the time. However, it never hurts to make sure that the eye that is above the rib is the one that you rely on to give the brain the correct ocular information.

Long guns, and long guns/long range are another issue. Whether you are shooting at 100 yards, or 1000, it's a consideration.

If you are shooting a rifle right-handed, it is almost impossible to lay your head far enough over on the rifle stock to be able to sight with your left eye. Here, all you can do is force the mind to utilize the non -dominant eye (with a patch or tape on the glasses). I like the opaque tape idea, better than the patch, as this forces the non-dominant eye to take over and aim without totally blocking vision in the dominant eye. There are also sighting devices for sale but I would hesitate to recommend any one of them as I've not tried one. Talk to other shooters, more are cross- dominant than you think. Find out what works for them. Have fun experimenting, but this is a complex subject and professional guidance (and that is NOT me) can be a real help.

Barkley is, unfortunately, BOTH eye dominant when it comes to the begging look. That's not fair