Saturday, May 10, 2014

Todays Visitors

So just a few minutes ago we had guests in the yard. We've seen them down the road from us but never have we seen them on our property much less in the yard.
Way too cool that we have road runners here now. They left and disappeared into the trees in the cemetery. With any luck they are nesting in there.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desecration of Tolken

It has been a long time since I wanted to just get up and walk out on a  movie. I tried today but suffered through because I wanted to see how well they did Smaug. Well they did a pretty good job with the dragon but the rest of the movie just sucked. Peter Jackson owes me money and three hours of my life back. While The Hobbit: An Unexpected Letdown was bad enough, this was even worse. There will be no multiple Oscar nods for this pile of dreck. Yes we get it, your CGI skilzz are mad but the story line sukz and no amount of CGI wizardry can fix that. This was a movie loosely based on characters created by JRR Tolken. Save your money for something worthwhile.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Medal

 So many years ago when my Dad passed away, Mom helped me put together a shadow box centered around his flag from the burial. I added all the wings he has worn, his Dogtag, a fruit salad off one of his uniforms and three shell casings (one from each volley at the funeral).
I also ended up with boxes of stuff from his office at the house and have been going through them slowly ever since. I found his DD214 and figured out the fruit salad I have is old and is missing a number of his awards. Not to mention it has the wrong wings, Senior Pilot wings instead of his Command Pilots Wings so that will have to be updated.

But then yesterday I found this in a box,
and added it to the shadow box. That would be his Distinguished Flying Cross. What is missing from this medal is the Oak Leaf Cluster to signify that he was awarded this twice. It goes well with the first medal on the second line of his fruit salad, the Air Medal with 9 Oak Leaf Clusters.Needless to say it was a bit difficult to go through the whole process of pulling down, opening and updating the box.

I am now going on a mission to build an accurate fruit salad to match his DD214 and have all the appropriate bits to display. He deserves nothing less.

So, if anyone can help me, I am trying to identify  the award "DUCE" anybody have an idea?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Random Auto Sighting

So at lunch time yesterday, this was sitting in the parking area for the General Aviation terminal.

So this would be a Tesla Type S in the wild. Interesting looking car. Dash was difficult to see but of course all glass display both for the driver and the center console. Would be nice to see it with the new owner here so maybe I could get a look inside.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Something Old, Something New

This one goes out to Larry Corriea and Mike Kupari. I originally read the "Welcome Back Mr Nightcrawler" thread on The High Road and was one of the many there who told them to take it down, clean it up and publish it. I enjoyed it so much I spend stoopid amounts of time doing a cut and paste edit of the thread into a readable storyline and saved that.

Anyway, unfortunately, I was shooting IPSC Limited back in the late 90's so my limited STI/SV gun is without ubertacticool light rail. I guess I could drill and tap the frame and bolt a light rail on it if I had the motivation, but I don't. So the combination is not quite perfect but closer than most people might suspect. Also way back mumblecough years ago, I shot NRA conventional pistol. For that I had my 1911 and a S&W K19-6. I had been looking for a model 29 and a K-22 to add to my collection of Smith wheelguns for a couple decades at least. Basically I am in no hurry and was just waiting for the right gun to find me.

So imagine my delight when not only did a really nice 629 find my attention, but It was Mike Kupari's 629. As in the gun Mr Nightcrawlers carries in his stories. Well, it made its way to me yesterday. so the above picture could only be more accurate if I managed to get Larry to sell me one of his STI's. Like that would happen.

Now, the trigger on my K frame is a Smith Performance Center trigger and is very nice. misbeHaven's King Cobra has a Colt Custom Shop trigger that is even nicer, however, even she agrees, the trigger on the 629 is as good or better than her Colt.

Can't wait to take this little guy out and get some trigger time in.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Programmed Expendability

Man I hate modern appliances. This morning started with a fire in the washing machine. I have heard of and even worked a dryer fire but this was a new one on me. Anyway, I tore into teh machine to see what was going on and it was in the drum mechanism bearings. Spent way too much time on line chasing an appliance repair shop that was actually a shop. I didn't want a home service that would mean taking another day off work to wait for them to come out and determine they had to get parts so I had to take another day of for them to repair it. Been there before with the TV. Since it was under warranty and they would not let you bring it in we had to do the home schedule thing. I hate that more than modern appliances.
Anyway, Sears sucks as well. After 9 rings they finally picked up and put me on hold. 19:47 later I hung up. Tried calling back and after 16 rings, I hung up. Screw them if they don't want my money.

Next was research into the actual model Samsung washer and what other people had to say about them. Did you know they had a class action suit filed against them a couple years ago? Neither did I. How about a recall? Neither did I. Turns out hte off balance thing is a known issue and they even have sites where you can order the replacement parts if you know what you need. Looking into the matter further and into teh machine further the parts alone were more than half the cost of the dryer. OK screw that.

Started researching new dryers, you know, consumer reports as well as customer driven review sites. Needless to say there are no washers out there below $1400 that have universally good reviews. So now we have ended up buying a new dryer. Being that we are a few months shy of 6 years I decided to get a hose kit as well as a few other things while we were out spending money we really don't need to be spending.

Now on to fixing the disposal and the dish washer. Yup, I'm in need of repair. HA!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hey, that termite is shooting at me!

One of my work projects involves monoterpene metabolism by goats.  Don't ask, and anyway, that's not the point.  The point is, I was using Wikipedia to get a handle on some terminology and I ran across this: "Terpenes are used by termites of the Nasutitermitinae family to attack enemy insects, through the use of a specialized mechanism called a fontanellar gun."

Completely distracted from the task at hand, I went to the source material, and it says:  "Tenuirostritemes is a small genus of Neotropical termites with two species ranging northward into... southwestern Texas... The major specialization within the subfamily has involved... development of a small projection on the front of the head into a long, attenuated snout or nasus.  The frontal gland... elaborates a defensive secretion which can be forcibly ejected through the frontal pore at the tip of the nasus... This fontaneller* gun represents the apex of sophistication among the varied chemical defense mechanisms of the termites."

So, it's true:  In Texas, everyone has a gun.

And (at least in 1974) it was considered the apex of sophistication among... defense mechanisms.  :-)

I have to get back to work now.

*For the vocabularily-challenged, "fontanellar" is an adjective meaning located on the top of the head.  Yep, I looked it up.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

UltraFire WF-502B a review

So I recently purchased a handfull of these flashlights for various people and had a chance to try them out along with mine to get a feel for a sample N>1. So first off, these things are available from various sellers through Amazon. They are billed as >1000Lumens five mode (Hi, Med, Low, Strobe, SOS) flashlight for use with 18650 rechargeable batteries. So I'll give you the Good,  the Bad and the Ugly. They are available for anywhere from $4.50 to $10.00 from various vendors through Amazon.

Well, I have been out of the photolithography engineering for a few years so I no longer have access to fancy light energy sensing equipment so I cannot give you a definite output value but compared to a variety of SureFire, StreamLight and Fenix flashlights, I would say it is very likely to be in the neighborhood of 1000 Lumens. Also, compared to the other flashlights this little bugger has an impressively tight hotspot in the center of the beam. In actuality, the beam was even tighter and brighter than both the Fenix PD31 and PD35.

Function is through the tail cap switch. you can only cycle through the entire range of settings. So turning it on is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you'll get when you push the button. Also, there is no way to flash move and scan with this light. Once you turn it on and back off you would have to cycle through all the settings again before you can use high again.
In addition if the rechargeable goes you CAN NOT substitute two 123's till you get a recharge.

Where to start? How about China. These things are made in China and shipped from China. They arrived wrapped in a single layer of plastic foam. No commercial packaging with instructions or warranty information or anything. There was one slip of paper in the package we'll talk about later. It was in a simple plastic bag with a customs sticker on it that indicated it was a gift. So no duty paid on import. This is slimy unfair competition plain and simple. Back to that piece of paper, it was a letter in Chinenglish from Coco Fed Inc. the seller through Amazon. The letter explained that Amazon charges a 5% surcharge so they can sell quality stuff for less directly to you rather than through Amazon. I find that to be slimy at best and a violation of Amazon vendor agreements at worst.

So there you have the facts. I hope I didn't let too much of my personal feelings creep through. And just so you have a frame of reference I am a bit of a light geek and have a collection of SureFire, Streamlight and Fenix lights that I used for comparison along with a couple more at work.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

E-10 is EVIL! Especially for emerggency supplies.

So previously this weekend we spent a good portion of time cutting down trees that have died as a result of the drought.

In addition to this latest cutting, chainsaws are a regular part of our emergency supplies. We have more than once had to cut our way out of the neighborhood after a storm.So it is vital that our saws be available at any and all times. Unfortunately a good part of this weekends time was spent tearing into our chainsaws to find the damage done by the E-10 crap that made it into our fuel supply.

Now I'm not going to get too deep into the politics of Ethanol. Other than the fact that us ranchers have to pay more for feed now that the government is subsidizing the purchase of corn for making fuel that is less efficient than good old gasoline. Another government program to make our lives better.

However, if you are mixing and using two cycle fuels or for that matter even storing gasoline as a long term emergency supply, Ethanol IS THE DEVIL! Many small engines do not like ethanol in its fuel. It does all sorts of bad things. The ethanol first and foremost absorbs moisture. It also attacks various materials in the engine. Fuel lines are the first to go. They will turn brown and crack then basically disintegrate. The ethanol will also attack some of the alloys in the carb and even inside the engine. This is all bad news. Even worse now that E-10 is being forced down our throats by more government regulation. Another issue is that over even short periods of time the E-10 mixture can cause a premixed can of two cycle fuel to separate out the oil fuel mix causing all sorts of havoc inside a two stroke engine. As far as storage goes, the ethanol attracts moisture something fierce so you have to worry about getting contaminated fuel over time. There are fuel stabilizers like StaBil that should be a mandatory addition to any stored fuel supply but these will not completely stop the bad things ethanol does. In a supply where a vehicle is fueled up weekly or so this is no big deal but over long term storage will cause issues.

There are multiple additives that you can get such as Mechanic in a Bottle and StaBil to help slow many of the effects of ethanol in gasoline but the absolute best answer all around is just avoiding ethanol to start with. Thanks to our wonderful governments concern with our well being, it is getting harder and harder to find real gasoline. Some states do not even require that umps be marked that you are getting ethanol instead of straight gasoline.

Now we are left having to tear into the various engines in our collection and get repair supplies such as replacement fuel lines that are ethanol resistant and rebuilding our equipment. Something that should not be needed but for getting a load of E-10 into our fuel supply.

Something to pay attention to in your emergency supplies and your every day lawn care needs. Word to the wise, avoid ethanol in your fuel at all costs.

Friday, August 2, 2013

I hate trees and E-10 is CRAP

As a result of the drought conditions we have been losing trees around the K- Ranch. Three threatened the house so we spent today dropping trees. So far we have 14 down and probably 5 or 6 more to go. In addition to the ones threatening the house, There are a bunch along the electric line between the house and the road. Last year the electric coop came through and cleared the right of way but what they did was clear cut anything within 15 feet of the wire center line. Unfortunately when the trees are 40 to 50 feet tall, 15 feet of ROW doesn't quite cut it. There are plenty of trees that are tall enough to hit the power lines if they fell. So between cables and the truck we pulled on trees while cutting to make sure they fell away from the power lines and the house. That is a right dead pain in the rear. Plus it would appear the last fuel load I got was E-10 crap. One of the smaller saws worked through teh first tank full a couple weeks ago and has been sitting till this weekend with a full fuel load. This week when I went to start it it really didn't want to fire. After finishing the cutting with the Husky I tore into the smaller saw. I emptied the fuel and out with the fuel came pieces of fuel line and the intake filter/weight. The fuel line is brown and cracking. The Alcohol evidently attacked it. I've heard of this happening with older equipment that was not intended to be run on ethanol crap but I had never seen it first hand. So this is going to take some work to change out fuel lines and clean up the mess made by this fuel abomination.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Long before Twitter

There was the "Tweet".

So I have spent parts of the last couple months working to convert something like this:
into this:

This would be the instrument panel and cockpit of a T-37 "Tweet". The one on the bottom is located in a lab in the basement of the AeroSpace Engineering Building at work. The only things left original are the seats, left stick, rudder pedals, throttle quadrants and landing gear controls. The right stick has been upgrades to a force sensing side stick and the entire instrument cluster is now two touch screens. This cockpit is surrounded by three projection screens to give the outside view to the pilots and the dash panel is now programmable so it can be configured to match any number of glass cockpit designs. Unfortunately, this cockpit assembly is hard mounted instead of being articulated so there is no motion but it does have surround sound to go with the big screens. I've also had to install electronic feedback from all of the controls, both analog for the various controls and analog from all of the switches into an NI cRIO chassis so the computer can read them into teh flight simulator software.

Once the entire system is up and running I'll have to capture an in cockpit video and post that. Probably one of me flying into a granite cloud somewhere. Or just CFiT.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Road Trip

So yesterday, the Mrs and I took a road trip along with a good friend to Mordore on the Colorado to see Much Ado About Nothing at the Alamo Draft House. We met another friend for the show and had a wonderful time. I have to say, I have seen MAaN on stage and screen at least five different versions. This is by far my favorite. It was obvious that this was a labor of love for the actors and not just a job. I highly recommend you go see it. If you have the privilege of being near an Alamo Draft House, go see it there.
We then met up with one of my sisters and brother in law to trade reloading supplies and visit a bit. She had a hang tag for me from one of my other sisters. I'll get a picture of it and post that soon.

Now if only hte housework would have done itself while we were gone.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Take the Star Road

So Peter, Bayou Renaissance Man, Grant has published his first book. Take the Star Road. I just finished reading it and have to say, well done sir! This was definitely a good read and I am very much looking forward to the follow on books.
I won't put up any spoilers but I will say this follows a little bit to the improbable side of a single person having all the breaks and skills all fall into place in a row. Suspend that little bit of disbelief and you're home free. This is a great ride and a very captivating read.

Do yourself a favor and get it and read. You will not be disappointed.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What are you prepared to do?

We talk all the time about being prepared. Training with your personal defense weapon, doing force on force training to prepare your mind to make the right decision if the time comes. How many of you have trained with a fire extinguisher? How many of you have trained with your first aid kit?

How many of you even have an every day carry first aid kit and fire extinguisher?

Karl Rehn of KRTraining wrote up an article for concealed carry magazine about the Medicine X class put on by Lone Star Medics at the A-Zone range. If you want to get the most bang for your buck in your training, you need to get medical training. When the unexpected happens, are you ready to deal with it? I and others smarter than I have said it repeatedly, the only thing you are guaranteed to have on you when things go wrong is your brain. You may or may not have that fancy schmancy first aid kit with all kinds of bells and whistles. You may just have the clothes on your back. You may have seen it coming or you may have just run a marathon and be out of breath as you gave the race your all. You may have been driving one of the vehicles that just got pancaked and now you need to coagulate your feces and deal with the aftermath, otherwise,someone is going to die and it may be someone you love. You may be in the middle of a major metropolitan area with three major trauma centers just blocks away or you may be on Farm to Market road XXXX halfway between no and where. NOW WHAT?

Not everyone can go to fire school and get multiple runs at a fire pit but there are alternatives. Get fire extinguisher training at work, at community college at your local fire department. Get familiar with your extinguishers and how they operate. Get to know the different types of fires and how best to attack them. Most importantly, just like force on force training getting you head wrapped around making the right decision when things go pear shaped defensively. You need training on what to do when things go non-linear with fire. You do know that you need to be able to get away right? Just as in self defensive shootings, things are not worth losing your life over. You need to be prepared to turn tail and run when you can. Use the fire extinguisher to get out and away. You do know that don't you?

So I ask again, WHAT ARE YOU PREPARED TO DO? I mean really, what do you have the training and mindset to do to save your life or that of someone you love. Or for that matter, to save the life of someone you have never met.

Are you really prepared? If not, what are ya gonna do about it?

Go get training, be prepared.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

No more open class

Last month I posted an ad for my IPSC open gun. I don't shoot open class any more and haven't in ages. Add to that times are tough and the end result is selling this guy.
I am sad to be letting ti go but it has only accumulated dust for many years and that I cannot abide. So through channels it is sold and will be going to its new owner Monday.

 Now I need to clear out brass. So if anyone is interested in 1000pcs of Brand New Remington 38Super +P brass and something close to that in fired brass, let me know.

Now to list some other stuff on EBay/Craigslist and see what it brings.

Thanks to Suburban Dad Survivalist for prompting me to clear out crap that is just taking up space and put those funds to better use. You know like paying down the mortgage and investing in more practical materials.