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

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

The Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. 

The phrase, penned by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence and written 11 years before the U.S. Constitution was adopted, is said to have been influenced by the writings of John Locke, who expressed a similar concept of life, liberty and estate (property) in his work.

What is a Right? It's a principal that defines and sanctions a man's freedom of action within a social framework. There are many rights, but the one true right is the right to life, not in the context of the right to be born, but a man's right to his own life.

What is liberty? Again, I think Jefferson was somewhat influenced by the words of John Locke, who said in The Second Treatise of Civil Government (1690) - "This freedom from absolute, arbitrary power, is so necessary to, and closely joined with a man’s preservation, that he cannot part with it, but by what forfeits his preservation and life together: for a man, not having the power of his own life, cannot, by compact, or his own consent, enslave himself to any one..."

 He also says: "The NATURAL liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of nature for his rule."

As to the "Pursuit of Happiness". No where in the words of our founding fathers did it say the "right to happiness". Only that we have the right to pursue our own happiness, to engage in self sustaining activities, to build up a sweat chasing whatever it is that is our dream. We have the freedoms to do what is necessary to support, further, and daily savor our own life; freedom to do so by our own voluntary, uncompelled choice.


As to our neighbors, a right means that our actions should impose no harm or obligation on them, they are our actions for our lives. If your dream is to stay home and watch a brand new TV all day that is fine, but that that doesn't mean that I am obligated to buy it for you.

 We have the right to liberty, to freedom. I do not personally believe that means that we are free from helping to reasonably support or maintain that which we use, our roads, our parks, our libraries, our schools. That does not mean we are free to shrug off responsibility for elderly parents or those children we bring into the world. But we have the right to expect that our efforts won't be wasted. We have the right not be forced by threat or law to give up our possessions or income or hand over our Second Amendment rights which protects the safety of that family or personal community we do provide for. We should not be forced to take the food off of our table, there from our own toil, to give to people who do not have the desire to produce, only to consume. Given with no measure of accountability that they will not come back to rob our table again.


Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Or as John Locke defined it first, the right to property. Not the right to an object, but to the action and reward of producing and earning a product. Our founding fathers did not intend the issue of property to be a guarantee that all will have all they want, but only that if a man will own it if he earns it. It will be his to use, to keep or if he chooses, to give to another to help them in time of need. 

We are at the end of an administration, one who had stated that we need to change our country to be one where the rich will be made to provide for the poor. "Share the wealth" was not just words in a campaign, but what I perceived as being the culture of the party. What appears to be our future unless we speak out strongly with our vote, is the adumbration of our future, the ant-like, socialized destruction of the America that people bled and died for.


No matter what your political party affiliation we would agree that there are many things that this country can improve on. But improvement is not, as it has been in the past, having elected officials with blind power to spend the taxpayers money without accountability to where it's gone. Accountability to dispel the concerns that it merely promoted many businesses that promoted said politicians.

We need to return to healthy businesses through competition, where those who use sound operating principals, offering quality goods and services that are wanted, thrive and make more jobs and those that don't fail. We don't need handouts to those without plans to do business differently or lifelines to companies by whose greed or ineptitude the whole mess started. 

There are many of ways the country could be improved. But it can NOT be improved by changing the principals on which our country was founded. For no matter what bitter forfeit a change in government may bring, the loss of our fundamental rights, affirmed by our Constitution, should not be part of it. 

The American Revolution was a revolution of greater note than the battles fought and the words penned. One of the most revolutionary outcomes of the formation of the United States was the subordination of government to moral law, moving away from societies in which the citizens life belonged to those that ruled, and the freedoms he had were only that which the rulers decided by whim he might have that day, or that week. The recognition of man's individual rights by the Constitution limited the force of the power and greed of the states, protecting its citizens from an unwanted collective. 

The United States was one of the first moral societies in history, all previous governments viewing their citizens as a sacrificial means to the ends of others, and society as an end to itself. Our founding fathers had taken note. They recognized two threats to a man's possessions, to his rights. One threat is a criminal. The other is a government. The most laudable accomplishment of our government when it was formed was its ability to draw a distinction between those two, thereby not allowing the second to become a sanctioned version of the activities of the first. 


We the People is I. And I support the constitution and ALL its amendments, not just the ones you pick and choose. When the elected President takes the oath of office, I hope that he truly hears those words as he speaks them from Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution:

 "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. Support those words that gave us a country that worked, that thrived. Preserve. . . Because our founding fathers were smarter than we have been 

- Brigid

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Why?


Because I'm neither morally or socially obligated to be a victim.

- Brigid


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 PEThouse.com.  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

Notes from the Red Eye


Well,, after perusing one of the in flight shopping magazines, I realize that I really need to spend $499 on a personal foot and body sauna.

We hear back in steerage, that ALL the Cool Kids in First Class are doing it.

Besides, it gives me a costume for Halloween if I don't have a thing to wear.

Forget Little Bo Peep or Naughty Witch.  I can go as Captain Pike from Star Trek.


I'll be back in a day or two, there's a Sig review below AND a couple of recipes.  Cheers!

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.

Photobucket

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.


AHHHH.

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?"

THAT WOULD BE A YES! 

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.