Sunday, December 30, 2012

Quote of the Day -- J.L. Grant

So it seems Feinstein is back at her old shenanigans. Although I’m a moderate Liberal, I do view Feinstein as a fucking lich, an over-the-hill demon whose time has come and gone. She’s a horrible thing, a creature that should have been banished from this plane long ago. Oh goody, another AWB. This shows, once again, that Feinstein has no connection to the voting populace. She’s a reactionary idiot who tries to prop up her ancient, diseased political soapbox by reacting to the worst things that are happening right now.

The gun bloggernets are SCREAMING about this, but I say (as usual) sit the fuck down and have a Coke.

- A new AWB will garner NO support politically from any politician who doesn’t want to commit instant career suicide. Guns are popular in the USA right now. As I just explained to a family member, the screaming meemies of the east and west coasts of the USA DO NOT represent the center of it.

- The death of this bill will possibly shove Feinstein back into her crypt, where she will slumber for a thousand years, fitfully, before she rises again.

This is not to say people should sit back. Please DO write your politicians and let them know that the original AWB was stupid, and this bill is stupid. The problem is not “assault weapons” – the problem is mental health care in the USA. The problem is that bad shit will always happen, and you can’t 100% legislate it out of existence.

MOLON LABE, motherfuckers.
Emphasis mine, and may I add how it warms not just the cockles but also the sub-cockles of my heart to hear a self-described liberal say "Molon Labe, motherfuckers."

No, I don't have a tear in my eye. It's... just a bit dusty in here, is all....

Latest Mom Update

The neurosurgeon in Orlando looked at her and her tests and said "You definitely need surgery but it's not an emergency. Go home, we'll have the operation in 2 weeks."

So she's home for New Years, which is cool, and she's definitely glad to be out of the hospital, stretching her legs and wearing real clothes and playing with the dogs. I imagine the delay is due to hospital staff being on vacation, but regardless we are going to make the most of it, as we now have time to actually prepare for a hospital stay and convalescence: in addition to making a "hospital bug-out bag" that includes toiletries, books, etc, she's going make sure we have lots of meals prepared and frozen before the operation.

My track record with cooking in the kitchen is terrible -- the smoke detector is less than two feet from the stove, and any time something gets on the burner and lets off some smoke, the alarm WHOOP WHOOPs like the house was burning down. Worse, this is not an easily movable alarm: it's hard-wired into the house system, and because it's tied to the security system, it auto-alerts the local fire department.  I'm actually 2 for 2 when it comes to cooking and summoning firefighters.

Look, I promise I'm a self-sustaining adult! I just can't be allowed anywhere near a stove.

Anyway, she's home and both the dogs and I are relieved. Things are going to be hectic/hellish in the month of convalescence following her surgery, but at least there will be time to prepare for that rather than have it sprung on me.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Deal Alert

I've been meaning to write a review of the Timney Trigger for the Mosin-Nagant (honest! It's in the queue!) and I still plan to give it an in-depth critique, but I noticed that Midway USA is having a sale on Timneys, including the one for the Mosin.

So, short version:

  • If you shoot a Mosin, but hate the trigger pull, buy this trigger. 
  • If you wish the Mosin had a better safety, buy this trigger. 
  • Realize however that you WILL need a Dremel tool in order to inlet the stock. 

A more in-depth review will follow, I promise, along with the conclusion of "Hangin' with Oleg."  And of course the usual tripe and drivel to be found here on le blag.

Mom update

Just got off the phone with Dad.

Mom's been moved to the neurological ward, where she's going to stay at least another night.

Turns out surgery IS necessary, but it's not emergency, so there's the possibility it can be scheduled for sometime in January so she can come home, relax, and then make proper preparations for a hospital stay. Not sure what kind of restrictions she'll have on activity.

The surgery is disk replacement rather than spinal fusion, which is great news, because I haven't heard anything good being said about fusion. It's expected to be fairly outpatient if things go well -- surgery in the morning and back home by evening or the next day -- but I don't expect things to go well, because life.

So, that happened

There's too much blood in my caffeine system to be properly coherent, but stuff has escalated to the "Oh shit, time to notify family members" step so I might as well get it all out at once rather than have to explain it multiple times.

Forgive me if I sound snarky. I'm exhausted and stressed and haven't had enough sleep.

On Wednesday, my mother (unbeknownst to us, because she's a tough old bird who doesn't like to talk about her ailments) thought she was having a TIA. This was not an unreasonable assumption since she is 73, there is a history of stroke within her family (her grandmother died of one at approximately her age), and she was experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Tingling/numbness in one arm
  • Weakness/loss of feeling in both legs
  • Throbbing pain in the neck that was parallel with the carotid artery and up the side of her head
  • Difficulty swallowing
So she got in the car and went to a local urgent care facility (Why? She's stubborn) where they told her that she needed to get her ass to the ER. My father had to drive over to the urgent care place and take her to the ER because at that point she was unable to drive herself. 

The ER took her, ran a batch of tests including a CAT scan, and while the tests came back good they decided that given her age and symptoms and possibly other things they would keep her for 24-48 hours for observation and yet more tests. They admitted her to the hospital Wednesday night. She was in good spirits and the symptoms were receding at this point, probably due to the psychology of "I'm in a place where people can take care of me, and they say I'm not in danger, so now I can relax and stop worrying."

Thursday morning she met with specialists and therapists and lots more technicians for tests, including an MRI. Thursday afternoon she thought she'd be coming home that evening. 

Thursday evening we were informed, "Good news! It wasn't a TIA or a stroke."

Bad news:  it's worse. She's been diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis, which is basically when part of the backbone starts putting pressure on the spinal cord. Left untreated, this can result in paralysis from the neck down. 

Continuing the trend of bad news, the hospital she was in didn't have a neurosurgeon, and so last night she was transferred via ambulance to a hospital in Orlando. This means that what was a quick 15 minute drive to see her now requires a 2-hour round trip, and that's assuming no traffic whatsoever -- and when dealing with Orlando, that's a false assumption. 

The only good news to come out of this is that it was caught very early, mom is great shape for an old lady, and that the neurosurgeon is one of the Top 10 in the nation. She's in good hands and is expected to make a full recovery. 

The question, of course, is if she'll need surgery (probably) and what kind (artificial disk, spinal fusion, etc). The time spent in recovery and rehabilitation from surgery is a definite concern to everyone. 

Dad is spending most of his time in the hospital, which is frankly a blessing as it keeps him occupied. Meanwhile, I have become Chief Hausfrau and babysitter to three needy dogs. Fortunately I can do my own laundry and am reasonably adept at keeping house, but I never learned to cook beyond the defrost/ open cans/ use microwave skillset (truefax: I once set off the fire alarm scrambling eggs, which resulted in a fire truck arriving at our front door within minutes) and if I need to go shopping for the household I need to have Dad come along so that he can pay for it, because I am a writer and that means broke-ass poor. 

On the good side, this is at least a nice reminder to my father that yes, I am useful to have around the house, because wouldn't he be screwed if I wasn't here to look after things? He needs occasional reminders like this lest he be tempted to consider me useless and worthless. We have such a special relationship, he and I. 

So I'm stressed, worried, operating on too much caffeine and too little sleep, trying to keep the house from descending into entropy without going nuts. Blog posts are going to be rather erratic until things resolve themselves into some semblance of normalcy. 

If y'all were local, I'd ask you to bake me a casserole so I could simultaneously stave off grocery shopping and avoid cooking, but since you're not I'll have to settle for asking for prayers for mother's speeding and complete recovery, and the retention of my sanity. 

Thank you, and WHARRGARBL.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas & a Happy Hearth's Warming Eve

I actually managed to make it through this season without once having a holiday-related meltdown!  It's a Christmas miracle, I tell you. :)

And for those who are wondering what Hearth's Warming Eve is....

Whatever you celebrate, have a good one!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Gunnies stand up for Gamers

I grew up in the 80s and 90s, when satanism, drug use and suicide were attributed to Dungeons & Dragons and, later, heavy metal records. Later on, Columbine was incorrectly blamed on goth music and culture.

This is, of course, pure bullshit,  as evidenced by the fact that I do nothing harder than caffeine, am actively involved in my (Christian) church, and haven't shot anything more mobile than a stationary target.

So naturally, when public opinion rolls around to blaming TV and movies and video games, I'm one of the first to say "Bullshit! Why not try actually parenting your children, instead of letting the TV or the computer be your babysitter?"

I have yet to meet a gamer -- be it pen and paper, console, or PC -- who wants to ban guns or demonize gun owners. They understand far too well the BS prejudice being leveled against us just because our culture needs a scapegoat. Besides, I've always felt that the gamers of today are the gunnies of tomorrow, because anyone who grows up playing Call of Duty or similar games is going to eventually wonder what it's like to shoot a real one.

And now, in the wake of the Newtown shooting, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA has done exactly the same thing that has been done to NRA members: point fingers at another part of our culture in order to deflect blame from himself.

I'd make a "shooting himself in the foot" joke, but it would seem forced.

So in conclusion:

  • We, the gun community, appreciate the gamer community.
  • We think that Wayne LaPierre is wrong, wrong, WRONG to blame video games. 
  • We stand by you, just as you've stood by us. 

Carry on and keep gaming. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Repost: Never waste an apocalypse

Assuming that the world doesn't end some time later in the day, I think even the most paranoid nutjobs can conclude that the Mayans were full of crap.

That said, I'm a firm believer in never letting an apocalypse go to waste when it comes to disaster preparedness. Therefore, I'm reposting an oldie-but-goodie:

You know how you are encouraged to change the batteries and check the readiness of household smoke detectors every six months, and therefore the best dates to do so are January first and July fourth? The same principle applies here. Specifically:

Whenever you hear someone talking about an apocalypse, check and change your disaster stores.

  • Pull out your zombie kit, bug-out-bag, or whatever else you call your disaster supplies, and completely disassemble it. 
  • Check for signs of deterioration in everything: torn or frayed fabrics, leaking liquids, rusting metal, corroded batteries, non-functioning electronics, spoiled food, etc. 
  • Fix everything which can be repaired; replace or throw away everything which can't. 
  • Rotate out perishables like food, medicine, and batteries, so the may be used by the household. Replace them in the supplies with fresher materials that have more distant expiration dates. (Especially important if you maintain a disaster pantry.) First In, First Out is the order of the day. 
  • Perform basic maintenance such as sharpening and oiling knives, reinforcing weak stitches, etc. 
  • Launder stored clothes to eliminate storage odors and to kill anything which may have gotten inside.
  • Make sure you can still wear stored clothing. Bodies change over time, especially if you have children. Add, subtract, or replace as necessary. 
  • Pets are your family too. Ensure they have supplies (food, water, bowls, leashes, grooming items, toys.)
  • Ensure that your supplies are still portable if that is a priority (an evacuation kit as opposed to a bugging-in kit). A backpack that you can no longer carry is a very expensive rock. 
  • If at all possible, use many of the items in real conditions, such as on a camping trip or in your backyard. 
  • Make a list of where everything is. If you need a trauma bandage, you should know immediately in which bag to look. 
  • Add money to a disaster fund. ATMs will be down in an emergency and you may need to buy something (like fuel or food).
  • Arrange multiple predetermined rendezvous sites in case you are separated while evacuating, or disaster occurs while at work. Have at least one site for each cardinal direction, and make sure they are accessible in case standard overland routes (interstates, etc) are impassible. Make sure everyone has a copy of this list of locations. 
  • Practice whatever evacuation or preparedness drill you feel is relevant. Since my area is prone to both tornadoes and wildfires, I like to pretend that we have been given an evacuation order and have less than 15 minutes to leave the house. 
If you perform this basic maintenance whenever an "emergency," "threat" or "apocalypse" looms, you will be prepared for when it actually occurs. 

If you feel I have forgotten anything, please mention it in the comments below! Thank you. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I was interviewed for The Verge

12/01/12 - Never Forget

Noah Davis, a journalist for online magazine The Verge, interviewed me a few weeks back talk to me about the end of City of Heroes.  Here is the article. You should go read it.

I am slightly  annoyed that he didn't include my wondrously geeky comparison that "It felt like an issue of Crisis on Infinite Earths," but I imagine that was too arcane for most folks. Ah well.

Appropriate, really, that we should be talking about the end of an online world, with the purported apocalypse scheduled for tomorrow.

Hmm, I feel like I'm forgetting something. What is it?

Oh, yes:

City of Heroes players are dealing with the loss in their own way, but they are united in one opinion. "I think about the only universal constant is that not only will they never, ever play a game put out by NCSoft, but they are evangelizing. They are spreading the gospel of 'Don't buy from these people. They will just cancel it," Palette says. The heroes, it seems, found one final mission.

I love how I'm quoted promising bitter, everlasting vengeance. That's just so me.

Palette's Product Reviews: the 180 Stove

This review is late, Late, LATE.  I'd like to apologize to the fine folks at 180 Tack who provided me with a free 180 Stove for review, and who have been waiting patiently these many months for me to finally write this thing. Part of the delay was due to me not fully understanding how best to use their product, and part of it was due to my crap skills at firestarting.

I'm going to reiterate my methodology from the last time I tested camping stoves:

A Necessary Disclaimer:
I am not very good at starting fires. This makes me exactly the right person to review these stoves. A trained survivalist can make a stove out of a cow pattie, a hole in the ground, and a mirror. I, however, am an average schlub, just like most of the people who will be using these stoves. If they'll work for me, they will certainly work for you.

These were the tests I performed on the stove:
  1. How easy it was to light and keep fed, using identical natural materials.
  2. How quickly it could bring 16 ounces of water to boil in a steel mug.
  3. How quickly it could bring 24 ounces of water to boil in an uncovered aluminum pot.
  4. How quickly it could cook a single egg on an aluminum skillet.

The 180 Stove  ($46.95)
The 180 Stove is a very light (10 ounces), very compact stove that cleverly disassembles into a package that is, oh, about the size of two packs of cards. All the parts nest for storage and come inside a sturdy, resealable plastic bag. This bag is actually cooler than you think it is, because it's of a thicker plastic than your typical sandwich baggie --  which means it can survive multiple camping trips. This is a good thing, because you can put your dirty, sooty, ash-covered stove into the bag without worrying about getting carbon on your clothes or anything else.

Also, the 180 Stove is cute.  I'm not entirely sure why I think that; perhaps it has to do with how its thin-gauge steel makes it so light that I feel like I'm assembling a toy. Once put together, however, it is surprisingly sturdy -- I mean, I wouldn't put a dutch oven on it, but it should support most camping pots & pans.

EDIT:  I just received this email from 180 Tack:
[Regarding]  the recommendation not to use a dutch oven on the stove. I wouldn't hesitate for a second to place that kind of weight on it. We've had considerably more weight on it than the 25-30 lbs that a dutch oven weighs. The point of the interlocking parts is to allow a heavier load than your typical backpacking/emergency stove while maintaining a lightweight product. 
I stand corrected. 

Test 1
I am so glad this review isn't a referendum on my fire-starting skills because, honestly, I'm not very good at it. I realize now that my previous tests were "easy mode", because all I had to do was start a small fire inside an optimized surface. This meant I only had to do the "kindling tepee with tinder on the inside" and once things caught I could just keep feeding progressively larger sticks.

The 180 Stove doesn't work like that, and was my other mistake:  I tried to make the fire with the stove already sitting on top of the fuel. As you might guess, this made things very  frustrating, as the fire first kept dying, and then wanted to subsist entirely on a diet of kindling.

So here's what you do:

  1. First, you make a bed of larger sticks. 
  2. Then you make the tepee on top of that bed.
  3. Get the fire started while your assembled stove sits off to the side. (Assembling the stove probably should have been Step 0. My bad.)
  4. Once everything is burning merrily and evenly, then and ONLY then do you drag the stove on top of the fire. You'd better act quickly because this is a good way to get burned if you're clumsy or slow. 
  5. Now you are ready to cook. Make sure you have plenty of fuel to keep shoving through the opening. Really long sticks are good for this, because you can inch them forward. 

Once I figured this out, it was easy to keep the fire going. I felt like such an idiot for not realizing this sooner -- it even says so in the instructions!  Learn from my foolishness. 

Test 2

After the learning curve of getting the fire started, everything else was simple. My 16 ounces of water in a steel mug started to steam at 5 minutes 30 seconds, boil at 6:30, and was a visible rolling boil at 7:30. This is approximately how long it took for the Solo Stove to boil the same amount of water as well.

Test 3
Weirdly enough, boiling a larger volume of water (24 ounces in an uncovered aluminum pot) actually took less time than did the mug: 5 minutes to steam, 6 to boil and a rolling boil at 6:30.  I have a theory that this is because the 180 Stove offers a larger cooking surface than any of the other stoves I tested, and therefore the pot boiled faster because all of its cooking surface was exposed to flame. (I could be mistaken, but it sounds reasonable to me.)  In this test, the 180 boiled at half the rate of the Solo, and was comparable to the Folding Firebox.

Test 4
Again the mystery of decreased time raises its head, and again I say it's because my fry pan has a greater surface area (at least on the bottom) than the pot. The egg cooked in a minute and a half, which is slower than the Firebox by 30 seconds but better than the Solo Stove.

My Rating: A
This is a great little stove that sits more or less between the Solo Stove and the Folding Firebox in terms of features and performance:
  • As light as the Solo, but easier to pack due to folding flat
  • Folds like the Firebox, but nowhere near as heavy
  • Not as idiot-proof as the Solo, but performance is better overall
  • Puts out more felt heat than the Solo, but less than the Firebox
The best thing I can say about the 180 Stove is that you can fit it inside a cargo pocket and  you'll barely know it's there. (Don't sit on it!)

The worst thing I can say about it is that its thin-gauge steel feels flimsy to me. While it easily supported anything I placed on it, I worry that sitting or stepping on it could render it unusable -- although given enough time and the proper tools, you could probably bend or hammer it back into shape. The thinness of the steel also means it cools off quickly, so there's less time wasted waiting to put it away. 

I also find it strange that it is seemingly more efficient with larger cook surfaces -- you're better off boiling your water in a cookpot and then transferring that water to your mug than you are by putting the mug on the fire. 

In conclusion, this is a good little stove, and I recommend to anyone who is interested in ultralight camping, especially if neither the Solo (too bulky) nor the Firebox (too heavy) fit your needs. Just make sure your fire-building skills are up to date!

(Obligatory Disclaimer:  The 180 Stove was provided to me free for review. I was not asked to give it a good review, nor was I compensated for it.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

And now, your moment of zen

Feeling overwhelmed about the Connecticut school shooting?  Me too. I don't feel like doing anything except sitting in a nice comfy chair and drinking booze until all the shouting goes away.

Have some cute pony things to help take your mind off the tragedy and perhaps soothe your soul.

You may download this as a screensaver here

An adorable Derpy Hooves wallpaper by DeviantArtist Brightshadow813:

The download may be found here.
More Derpy wallpaper may be found here

Finally, if you still need cheering up, I've found that Pinkie Pie singing "Smile Smile Smile" is nearly medical-grade happy juice:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday Gunday Guestpost: Building an AR

Today's guest post is by ZerCool, a gunnie and fellow blogger. 

Greetings and permutations, kids. I volunteered to write a guest post for Erin, and foolishly left the topic up to her. I was given the following topic:
"Something about building an AR, perhaps? It's something I'm trying to do and you have experience with."
Well, at least she didn't ask me to write about Ponies. That'd be the shortest guest post ever...

ZerCool things he's all badass, but he built this AR for his wife.
It's called the Delicate Flower. This is the rifle a pony would use.

The beauty of the AR platform is its inherent flexibility. It's been called "Legos for grownups" and "Barbies for men" and neither one is a bad comparison. (Editor's note:  I have been informed that it is impossible to spell "Barbie" without "AR".) The rifle separates into two halves (conveniently called "upper" and "lower") by pushing out two pins. Very few special tools are needed to do depot-level maintenance or assembly on an AR, and even fewer for assembling the lower - the actual "firearm".

This is a stripped lower receiver; the only piece of an AR that requires an FFL be involved.


There are plenty of quality manufacturers out there and a few not-so-good. The bottom line to look for is a forged, mil-spec receiver. (Cast receivers exist and have a higher potential for flaws; avoid them.) York Arms is a personal favorite, because of options for custom serial numbers and markings - but you'll pay a slight premium for that level of service. Expect to spend $100-150 for a lower. (There are other options out there known as "billet" lowers which are twice as expensive and provide some other options - prettier lines, colored anodizing, etc. A good example is Seekins Precision.)

Once you've got a lower in hand, you need a Lower Parts Kit (LPK). This contains all the springs, pins, catches, and so forth needed to transform the paperweight of a stripped lower into a "complete" lower. LPKs are generally about $60 and will included a generic trigger and hard plastic A2 pistol grip. Assembling the parts kit requires a pair of pliers, a gunsmithing hammer (I have a Shooboy Hammer, which can be ordered from the user of the same name over at the S&W Forum. It's worth every penny.), a screwdriver, a bit of masking tape, and ideally a set of pin punches. I use the Lower Assembly Guide on every single time - I just don't build enough lowers to not need the instructions anymore. Have a clean work space with good light. Give yourself some time, work carefully, and in an hour or two, you should have a complete lower (less the buttstock).

The trigger included with the parts kit, unfortunately, tends to - for lack of a better term - suck. Grit, creep, overtravel, heavy - you name it, there's a stock trigger that has some or all of those characteristics. There are plenty of aftermarket upgrades from companies like Rock River Arms, Timney, Geissele, Chip McCormick, and on and on. Try the stock trigger before you jump on one of those; you may find what you have is acceptable for your use.

Now comes the fun part: deciding what you want to do with the rifle. Hunting? Home defense? Plinking? Precision? Big game? Each of those is a new upper and two pins away. An upper can be had found in every caliber from .17 HMR to .50 Beowulf, although the most common chambering is 5.56x45/.223 Rem.

Defending your home? Consider something in 5.56 or 300 BLK. Hunting predators? .204 Ruger or 5.56. Big game? 300 BLK, 6.8 SPC, .458 SOCOM, .450 Bushmaster, or .50 Beowulf may all prove to be good options. Plinking or fun at the range? .22LR or 5.56 are perfect.

Add the stock and buffer of your choice, some kind of sights... and you're off to the races.

Yeah, I didn't follow all of that, either. But look at this pretty rifle! It even has a cutie mark!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Atrocity

Pardon me if I ramble here, but I have a lot of things I want to say, all at once, and I'm not sure if I can be completely coherent about them, but I shall try.

I will begin by stating that what happened on Friday was an atrocity, pure and simple. It should never have happened, and I am sickened by it.

I also state with the same absolute conviction that, had I been there, I would have given my life to save those children. Full stop. Whether or not I would have succeeded is irrelevant; I would have gladly died trying to prevent the murder of 20 first-graders.

However, I would also have done my damnedest to make sure that [murderous fuckhead whose name is redacted because he doesn't deserve the fame] gave his life for those children instead, because he was a murderous fuckhead who deserved to die and I, of course, am not.

Okay. Hopefully we've established that I'm human here. But as a gunnie, I have to confess -- and I think I can speak for most other gunnies, too -- that we had a moment where we thought to ourselves "Jesus Christ, now comes the dancing in the blood and the yelling at the NRA."

I would LOVE if we could have just come together in a moment of tragedy and, at least for the weekend, to mourn for innocent lives cut short, bury our dead, and slowly come out from the horrifying shock. But that's not how people work.

I understand that many, many people are in pain right now, and that people in pain make emotional responses. I get that. I forgive that. But regardless of logic or lack thereof, because guns were used in this atrocity, the immediate reaction is to get rid of all guns everywhere, and because the desire is to do something, anything, to take away the pain and prevent this sort of thing from happening again, that side can seem awfully sympathetic -- especially if you've lost a loved one.

We, as gun owners, are faced with a Morton's Fork in situations like these. We can be decent human beings and refrain from saying anything political out of deference to the dead -- but when we finally try to address the "abolish the Second Amendment" comments, we seem like we are playing catch-up and have to overcome the political gains they've already made.

Or, we can operate on the premise that most (not all) of the people yowling for our heads are against us anyway, and so if we're going to be thought of as assholes and monsters, we might as well be politically effective assholes and monsters.

Either way, we end up looking like we're guilty of something, and I hate that. I certainly didn't kill anyone on Friday, and neither did the 80+ million lawful gun owners in America, but, as always, now come the calls for us to disarm ourselves and -- the irony is lost on them -- for our deaths, and the deaths of our children.

I have been called some pretty awful things this weekend, including "a murderer from a nation of murderers" and "a cunt", all because I like to lawfully own and operate a certain kind of tool. And in those same breaths, people are saying "Can we have that discussion about gun control now?"  Because, you know, calling me names really convinces me of the rightness of their argument.

So in conclusion, I'm going to say three things here, and I want everyone who reads this blog to think about these points before they leave a comment below.

1) The Discussion
Sure, let's have that discussion (again, for the millionth time). I'll even begin by offering a compromise:

  • You want me to give up semi-automatic rifles. Okay. 
  • In return, I want my concealed carry permit recognized nationwide, and the ability to carry my sidearm everywhere a cop can carry (basically, not into a courtroom or a jail). 
  • If you aren't willing to grant me this, or basically any other concession, then we are not having a discussion; you are instead trying to dictate terms to me. 
  • If you're trying to dictate terms, I don't believe you will ever stop once you get your way -- see the above calls for total disarmament. 
  • If you are trying to disarm me, then I shall quote Michael Z. WilliamsonFirst, in the Heller decision, the Supreme Court stated we do have a right to keep and bear arms. So that means, you are proposing to violate my civil rights. That's a dead end issue right there. If you're trying to find ways to violate my rights only to a certain degree in certain ways, you have to expect that I'm going to fight you as much as any other activist fighting someone who is trying to violate their civil rights. Hating me for that is irrational, and unless you hate other activists for protecting their rights, there's a word for you--the same word that applies to anti-porn crusaders, anti-religion crusaders and anti-press crusaders.

Now then. Are we actually going to have a discussion?  Somehow, I don't think we will.

2) The REAL Discussion
Why don't we talk about the actual problem, rather than just the symptom? Let's talk about how mental health care is in shambles, and has been since the middle of last century. Let's talk about how there's a huge stigma for seeking treatment, and how people who do admit "I sometimes want to hurt myself or other people. This is a problem, and I need help"  usually end up forcibly committed and/or have their rights abridged. This attitude keeps a lot of people from seeking the help that they desperately need, because they don't want to be treated like criminals for admitting that their wires need re-tuning.

Read this excellent article by a mother with a mentally disturbed child, and how her only options are to have him put in jail, or take him home and run the risk he will kill her or himself or someone else in the family.

Was Murderous Fuckhead mentally ill?  I'm sure we'll find out soon enough. My initial response is "Anyone who kills 20 innocent first-graders definitely has something wrong with them."  I mean, either he was deranged in some way, or you have to admit that He Was Evil.  Either one works for me, frankly.

3) What We SHOULDN'T Be Discussing

The Murderous Fuckhead's name, or his face, or anything else about him except as it possibly relates to point #2. Charlie Brooker had an excellent point about this:

Thank you for listening to me ramble. Thoughtful discussion is encouraged; name calling will result in banning.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012






I don't care if this is utter crap or not, I have to see this movie for the same reason I had to watch Hawaii 5-O:  too many awesome nerd references.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hangin' with Oleg, part 3

(Part 2 may be found here.)

The next day, I drove out to meet Oleg again for a feral hog hunt.

Let me say this right now:  I have no problem with hunters. I just don't like the idea of killing an innocent animal, so I personally will not do this.  I realize this makes me a gigantic wuss and that I am neglecting important survival skills, but that's my problem and not yours.

So when Oleg invited me to join him on a hunt, my initial reaction was to say no, and then explain why. He was kind enough to inform me that I didn't have to participate if I didn't want to, but that it would be a good way to meet people inside the gun biz and maybe get me out of my shell a little bit. I thought about this, and figured "Well, the pig is going to die regardless of what I do, so I might as well hang out with people."

As it turns out, getting there was half of the adventure. Short version:
  • Drive several hours to a place in Cocoa. 
  • Don't find anyone at that place. Call Oleg and ask WTF?
  • Wait for owner of business to show up. 
  • Follow owner back to his family's home. This was another 20 minutes of driving, some of which was on unpaved roads. 
  • Meet Oleg at the house. Observe that there were quite a lot of these folks, one of whom had tattoos down both arms and up to his neck. 
  • Realize that my feelings of intimidation at seeing large tattooed man are prejudicial and I shouldn't be judging him by his appearance. 
He really was a nice guy, but dang. Neck tattoos just disturb me.
Picture courtesy of Oleg Volk
  • Remain freaked out regardless of logic. 
  • Move my gear into Oleg's rental. 
  • Drive what felt like several more hours well south of Melbourne. 
  • Ask Oleg, "So, uh... just how well do you know these folks?"  Be informed that they "passed the sniff test."  Not sure how to take that. 
  • Get off the interstate and drive several miles on dirt roads through palmetto groves and hammocks. 
  • Arrive with basically an hour of daylight left. 
As it turns out, they really were very nice people and I felt like an ass for having my doubts about them. As a dog person, I cannot help but feel that anyone who loves a dog is a good person, so seeing the way Buck and Dwayne treated their dogs really put me at ease. 

The subject of a hunt was a truly massive feral hog. Oleg took pictures of it in the back of the trailer as the menfolk used a cattle prod to corral it; I studiously ignored what was going on and concentrated on getting to know the dogs. Slim and Trim, shown above, are the chaser dogs of some breed that I don't recall. They were quite feisty and once let out of their cages they ran around chasing each other. Slim (who isn't very slim these days) just wanted to chase, and so I ran around a bit with her, but Trim was far more friendly and mobile and had a habit of jumping onto the tailgate of the jacked-up pickup. This put her at eye level with me, and she enjoyed licking my face. Awww!

Who's awesome? Trim's awesome!
Shown in his cage below Trim is Hank, their pitbull. Hank is very much a working dog whose job is to bite a hog on the neck and keep it in place. He was howling with anticipation the entire time -- I imagine it was something like "I can smell that hog! Let me out of here! I wanna chase it and bite it!" I stuck my hand near the cage for him to sniff but he wasn't interested. Didn't growl, but didn't sniff either -- I got the feeling that if I wasn't going to let him out of the cage, he didn't want anything to do with me. 

Finally, the fateful moment had come. Oleg handed me his camera and readied his rifle. My job was to follow him and take pictures once the hunt was finished. Buck and Dwayne released the hog, and Slim & Trim took off after it, harassing it and keeping it from running in a straight line. Oleg took off after them, and I followed him. 

It was while I was crashing through the palmetto grove that I had the strange experience of hearing my own voice inside my head talking to me. The conversation went something like this:

Erin, you're chasing after a 300+ pound feral hog with only a camera. Are you really sure this this a smart idea?
Well, I have two dogs and a heavily-armed Russian in front me. I should be okay. And I do have my pistol with me as well. 
Okay, but just keep in mind you are running towards danger when the sensible course is in the opposite direction. 
Duly noted, self. 

As I was chasing after Oleg, who was chasing the dogs who were chasing the hog, I noticed that there were a few times when he had what I thought was a clear line of fire. I later discovered this was Oleg being sporting and giving the hog a good run. 

The details of the next part are pretty vague, but I recall at one point Hank was set loose in order to corner the hog -- perhaps Slim or Trim had gotten too close and were in danger of being mauled. Once Hank got his teeth in, the hog basically gave up. 

It was time for the shooting. Slim and Trim were called back to safety; Hank was given the "release" command; one of the men made a "booga booga" type sound. The hog got up and, from my vantage point, appeared to charge straight at Oleg. 

How did my pistol get in my hand? Huh. I'm proud that my finger was off the trigger and the muzzle was pointed at the ground, but I was ready to empty the entire magazine into it if it came at me. 

The hog charged. Oleg raised the rifle, and smoothly shot it right in the head at a distance of what looked like five feet (but was actually more like twenty). It dropped, as things shot in the head are wont to do. 

This is the picture I took of him immediately after the hunt. I took at least a dozen pictures using his expensive high-tech camera. I think maybe he liked two of them. 

Oh well. Like I told him, "You get what you pay for."

After that the pig was posed and other pictures were taken, this time by Oleg. 

As twilight began to settle in, we were given the opportunity to shoot the RFB for ourselves. Once again I was able to bask in a moment of awesome by reaching into my gear and producing something unexpected but useful: a shooting mat by Voodoo Tactical. 

Two targets -- a chunk of wood and an empty Gatorade bottle -- were placed approximately 25 yards away. I shot first at the wood, in a prone position, and then at the bottle in a seated position, using a Nightforce 1-4x24 scope

Here's how I did:

My thoughts on the RFB are as follows:
  • A very accurate rifle. 
  • I love the ergonomics and the fact that it's ambidextrous. 
  • Recoil was not a problem for me, as I shoot a Mosin. 
  • Unfortunately, after each shot the rifle spat a cloud of gunsmoke right into my eyes. 
This last point is a huge factor: A semi-auto that forces me to look away from the target because I am blinking away tears from acrid smoke in my eyes is no use to me. If Kel-Tec would fix this one issue, I would rave about the RFB and its operation and recommend one to everyone, but as it stands now I will not own one. 

EDIT: Oleg tells me that the smoke blowing into my eyes is a result of the suppressor. Not having shot an un-suppressed RFB, I can't comment. If I get the chance to, and my opinion changes, I will be sure to let everyone know. /edit

After the shoot, we packed up and drove back to Cocoa, where Oleg and I had a celebratory dinner at a Thai restaurant. Given the excitement of the day, I was half-expecting ninjas to jump out and attack us. 

Sadly, there were no ninjas. :(

Monday, December 10, 2012

Last Chance

If you haven't entered The_Jack's Ye Olde Handgonne Raffle, then you'd better do it now because the contest ends tonight at midnight!

All of the stretch goals have been met, so the winner walks away with a metric asston (equal to 2.2 imperial buttloads) of goodies:

  • 50 caliber handgonne
  • Supply of 50 caliber bullets
  • Miscellaneous shot, patches, lube and fuse
  • Ramrod, lighter, touch hole pick, and powder measure, 
  • Powder horn and two pounds of 3F black powder (shipping restrictions apply).
$15 dollars gets you a ticket. $25 gets you two tickets. $50 gets you five tickets.

Go buy some tickets!

Monday Gunday Guest Post: A .45 for 45 years

This guest post is by Rob Reed. Rob is an firearms instructor, gun geek, gamer, and fan. You can find more of his writing at his Michigan Firearms Examiner column.

Image from Indy Gear

I was a teenager when Raiders of the Lost Ark was originally released. From the first moment I was caught up, and Indiana Jones quickly became one of my favorite fictional heroes alongside Capt. Kirk, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. I mention that because it plays into what comes next.

I turned 45 earlier this year and thought the best way to commemorate the milestone was to buy a 45 caliber handgun. I already had a couple 1911’s so instead I picked the United States Revolver, Caliber 45, M1917, also known as the Smith & Wesson Model 1917.

The S&W M1917 was developed during World War I when the U.S. Army desperately needed handguns and 1911 (no “A1” yet) production could not keep up with demand. Instead of trying to add another 1911 manufacturer, the government instead asked S&W (and later Colt) to modify an existing revolver design to fire the standard .45 ACP cartridge as used by the 1911. This would provide the needed handguns while avoiding the logistical problems of adding a new handgun caliber.

(Editor's Note:  See this previous Monday Gunday post for an explanation of the differences between .45 Colt and .45 ACP.)

Smith & Wesson took their Hand Ejector, Second Model (HE 2), rechambered it to .45 ACP, cut down the cylinder a bit and, in a stroke of brilliance, invented the sheet steel “half-moon clip” to allow the rimless .45 ACP rounds to load and headspace correctly. Each half-moon clip held three rounds and tossing in two clips to load the cylinder was much quicker than loading cartridges one at a time.

Even though I collect military firearms, and the M1917 has a distinguished military association, that wasn't why I picked it as my birthday gun. The real reason is much simpler: The HE2/Model 1917 is Indiana Jones’ gun: This is the gun he tossed in a suitcase while talking about what a “cautious guy” he was, this is the gun he used to save Marion as her bar burned around her, and this is the gun he used to show why you shouldn’t bring a sword to a gunfight in the movie’s funniest scene. The big S&W is as an iconic part of his character as his Fedora or leather jacket.

In “Raiders” there were actually two prop guns; one in Europe and a second in the U.S. The European gun was a HE 2 in .455 Eley, and the U.S. gun was a commercial M1917 in .45 ACP, identical to the military model except for markings. Both wore checkered commercial style grips instead of plain military grips and both had their 5’5” barrels cut down to a handier 4”. Since the movie prop is based on a real gun, and a relatively common one (as collectibles go), I’d always planned to own one someday, and my Birthday proved the impetus I needed to find one.

I found this gun through a friend. It’s a military 1917 that retains most of its original bluing. (Most were Parkerized between the wars.) Some previous owner swapped out the original smooth military grips for checkered commercial grips. Since the commercial grips are correct for Indy’s gun, this is actually a plus for me.

I had planned to cut the barrel down to 4” to more closely match the movie prop, but I decided the gun is too nice to mess with the originality that much. No one but a die-hard fan will know the difference anyway.

I’ve had the gun at the range a couple times. The first time I was dropping steel plates, six for six, at about 12 yards with no problem. On the second trip I was able to shoot at paper at 25 yards and discovered that, even with the small sights, the gun is a shooter. I could consistently keep all my shots pretty well centered on a paper plate shooting both single-action and double-action. Not bad for a 92 year old gun and 45 year old eyes.

This Indy gun (sort of) replica now goes with my Indy jacket replica into that weird area where my fandom and real world collide. I may not be Indiana Jones, but I’ve got his gun!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Didja know...

.. that during World War 2, Disney produced a 20-minute cartoon on how to operate an anti-tank rifle?

Neither did I until just now.

This might just be the coolest cartoon you see all weekend. Enjoy!

(H/T to Jim Rawles at Survivalblog)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

WNW: Speaking of Mosin-Nagant

Failure to Fire is my favorite new comic.

It's worth reading from the beginning. It started in September, so there isn't much catching up to do. While it has plenty of "gunnie" jokes, it's also friendly to those who are unfamiliar about guns as there is often explanatory dialog. In many ways it's a "Noob's Guide to Guns" in webcomic form.

Go read!

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

That's basically what Oleg said when he first saw my heavy modified Mosin-Nagant, although he was quoting Goya at the time. (Click link for more sexy pics of my Mosin.)

As much as I adore that quote (because it sums me up so very well), I have to say that I am far more flattered by his own words here: "This visual offense against good design actually shoots fairly well". "Visual offense" actually tickles me, since I've never found the stock Mosin configuration to be anything more than "Is rifle. It works. What else you expect?"

I have sporterized this rifle so much that the only original parts are the bolt, receiver, barrel, and bayonet. I am certain that the purists will begin howling with outrage at how I've bastardized and bubba'd it, but my response to them is the same as always: 

Fuck you, this is my rifle. I can paint it pink and put glitter on it if I want. Nothing I do to my rifle affects yours in any conceivable way whatsoever. 

Some can argue whether or not I've improved it over the original. I can state without reservation that I've improved how it performs for me when I fire it. Whether it's improved for anyone else is irrelevant, because fuck you it's my gun. You're more than welcome to laugh at it, because even I will admit it's a Frankenstein's Monster of a rifle; just don't think you can argue with me about it. 

Modifications are as follows:
  • ATI fiberglass stock with Monte Carlo grip
  • Limbsaver recoil pad
  • UTG all-steel scope mount 
  • 2-7x32 long eye relief scope
  • Winchester bipod (bought at Wal-Mart)
  • Accu-Shot monopod
  • Pull-ring safety/cocking knob (single machined piece, not brazed or welded)
  • Timney trigger  (review of which will come later)
  • Bedded action
  • Floated barrel
  • Limbsaver barrel de-resonator 
  • Buttstock shell holder and pouch
  • "Avada Kedavra" written in silver nail polish

This is my killing curse. 
There are many like it, but this one is mine.

NCSoft takes a beating on its home turf

And now, your moment of schadenfreude: A Korea Times article calls the closing of City of Heroes "unethical."

Admittedly, I don't think it's a matter of ethics; I think it's simply a dumb business decision.   But the fact remains that when Mercedes Lackey called it unethical, the paper printed it as the headline.

I find it delicious that the bad press from this poor decision has followed them home. And oh look, their stock price is still falling:  it started at 158,500 Won and plummeted to 141,000 in the span of a day. (It's since recovered slightly to 147,000.)

Coincidence that this happened the day after the article came out?  You tell me.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I'm like a Green Day song

.. in that I've got no motivation.  Not sure if I'm fighting off a bug, or this is my usual seasonal depression, but as of this moment I really don't want to do more than sit in front of the computer or the TV and aimlessly stare at the screen.

Anyone want to write a guest post for me?  Pellatarrum, My Little Pony, guns... heck, it's Khaotica season and I can't even be arsed to write about it, so if another Discordian wants to take a shot at it, by all means do so.

I'll just be here in my bathrobe, flipping through channels.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Requiem for a Dream

On 3:04 am Eastern time, the Guardian server of City of Heroes shut down forever.

There were many people in CoH that I loved, and more than a few that I outright hated. But never once did I feel apathy for this game or the people in it. They were my family in spandex. 

I will cherish the memories of the good times, and keep close those friends whom I met in game.

All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to die.

Just got a Facebook message from a friend:
You know how in literature they always have that symbol that's like "the loss of innocence?"  THIS IS MINE.

Yeah. I feel ya, dude. 

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