Thursday, November 29, 2007 outage

to anyone checking here for an update, yes, and are experiencing a temporary service outage.

There was an error requiring a restore from last nights backup; and the issue will hopefully be resolved shortly.

Another Battle in The War on Childhood

Well, it's gift buying.. I mean Christmas season again; and the rampant consumer war is kicking into high gear' til the end of the year.

We've already got almost all of our Christmas shopping done for the year (thank god); but most people pretty much got started last Friday.

Our big gift to the girls this year is a new computer (Chris has his, I have mine, and then there's one for the whole family, that the girls can use); and we've asked our friends to try and buy them age appropriate educational software.

...And of course.. because we live in the world we do today; we've had to give them a list of things NOT to buy under any circumstances.

Everyone who buys gifts for the girls knows I have a very short list of toys not accepted in my house.

Once upon a time the list consisted of just one item: one very blonde, very hated doll. Not that I have anything against dolls, but I hate Barbie. Not only is she unrealistic, her "accessories" are a bit ridiculous, and don't require any imagination for play.

Besides, to do Barbie properly there is a long, expansive, and expensive list of clothing, friends, vehicles, and playsets to buy. Honestly no parent should enter Barbie land without expecting to spend at least $500 on the entire world, and that's way too much.

But as much as I hate Barbie, I hate one toy line with twice as much passion.


Bratz are evil. Bratz not only have the Barbie-esque list of accessories, but as bad as Barbie is at showing an unrealistic adult woman, Bratz are far worse when it comes to pre-teens.

Bratz are like Barbies. They have the clothes, the friends, the pets, and the other accessories. They have the combable hair, the fashion shows, their own tv show, and the website befitting their rather huge world. Bratz are also marketed to 4 year olds and up, just like Barbie. And just like Barbie, they have a devoted following funded by parents who should know better.

But that's where the similarities end. For one thing, Barbie is specifically marketed as an adult woman, with adult friends and adult careers and semi-adult pasttimes. Bratz are teen and pre-teen dolls, with all of the drama and lack of responsibility befitting the age. Not only that but all of the Bratz dolls obviously don't hurt for money, wear extremely fashionable clothes, and have the typical obsession with fashion, boys, being pretty and wearing WAY too much makeup. Bratz are essentially Barbies with all of the most objectionable traits magnified and attached to even younger characters.

Of course what I hate most about both toys is the lack of imagination on the part of the kids. Names are already picked out, clothing styles assigned, personality traits pre-decided and professions and pass times assigned.

With both Barbie, and Bratz, the kids are left with no decisions other than what situations to put the characters in. Sure, that's a lot, but not as mentally stimulating as handing kids generic dolls then trusting them to decide who their dolls are, just like they'll figure out who THEY are as they grow up.

But this is just another part of a rather disturbing trend. MSM and toy companies know what sells. They know kids always want to act older, and feel older and therefore will watch shows and play with toys that cater to those wants. For example, our kids watch Noggin sometimes during the day. Noggin is a cable channel which very specifically plays shows geared towards pre-schoolers and without commercials. However after 6 ET Noggin turns into "The N" which shows older kids' shows; including shows about pre-teens and teenagers tackling rather adult problems like drugs, alcohol, and regrettably sex.

I wouldn't have an objection to that concept, if it weren't for the fact that the shows seem to advocate all of the above, rather than send messages about how such things can mess up kids.

Obviously we don't let the kids watch that kind of crap; as it's against what we're trying to teach them; but I wonder how many parents see kids' programming as universally safe and unobjectionable, and therefore don't pay attention.

Here's the problem though: while I agree that kids should be encouraged to grow up in many ways, the good parts about growing up are always glossed over or missed entirely. The "War on Childhood" is only a partial war. The culture warriors are trying to make our children not into adults, but into perpetual, oversexualized adolescents.

They are only waging war on innocence, imagination, and play. The personal responsibility, appreciation of consequences, and understanding of good decision-making, that are all critical to adulthood; are not advocated or encouraged, and are often discouraged, as is an objective view of reality.

These same warriors against innocence refuse to do the whole job, by conveniently leaving out the consequences of poor choices. Sex doesn't lead to STDs or teenage motherhood in their version of morality, and kids don't kill themselves with overdoses either. Kids are encouraged to engage in adult activities without the warning of what might happen.

Is there a way to successfully defend our children in the War on Childhood? Sure. It requires each and every one of us to act the adults in our kids' lives, by watching what they are watching, explaining true consequences, and instilling our own values.

However, don't expect the war to end anytime soon. Too many parents aren't paying attention and will learn too late what effect this massive lost of innocence is having on adults-to-be (or more likely, "never to actually be adults"). Many parents are already facing the consequences of their ignorance, with dead kids or grandchildren to raise. Don't be one of them.

Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 24 - Goodbye Ruby Tuesday's Strawberry Shortcake

A few months back, we posted a biscuit recipe, and an ice cream recipe. We had intended to post this recipe back then, but it somehow fell through the cracks in the bit bucket.

Anyway, here's the payoff.

The Ruby Tuesdays restaurant chain has some half decent food; but what they are most famous for, are their strawberry tallcakes.

Their tallcake is pretty simple; it's just ice cream, and strawberries, on a pound cake base. Well, I think we can do one better than that.

So for all of you women (and men) who want to make your loved ones grovel at your feet, here are the directions for your own strawberry shortcake.

Macerated Strawberries


1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup finely chopped or minced strawberries
1 cup sliced strawberries

Pour the wet and dry ingredients minus the fruit, into a tupperware container big enough to hold the mixture and all the strawberries. Seal the container, and shake until ingredients are well combined, then add the strawberries. Re-seal the container refrigerate for at least six hours, and up to a week.


Well, your first step is to make the sweet biscuits, and cheese cake ice cream from these linked recipes for real women:

Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 21 - Forget About the Dough Boy
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 22 - Full Fat, Full Dairy, All Killer, No Filler

Take one Sweet Dessert Biscuit, made as wide as will fit in the bottom of your favorite ice cream bowl. Split it in half; place one half on the bottom of the bowl and set the other aside.

Drizzle a little but of the maceration liquid over the biscuit, and some of the strawberrys (not too much, you don't want to make it soggy.. yet) then cover it liberally with Cream Cheese Ice Cream.

Next, COMPLETELY cover the whole thing with macerated strawberries; and whipped cream. The idea here is that first everything should be pink and fruity with the strawberrys; then everything should be white and creamy with the whipped cream.

Cap it all off by placing other half of the biscuit on top, with a dollop of whipped cream, and a single slice of macerated strawberry.

If your family aren't kissing your feet by the time you're done with this, they have no tastebuds.

And be sure to check out:

Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 23 - Some like it hot
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 22 - Full Fat, Full Dairy, All Killer, No Filler
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 21 - Forget About the Dough Boy
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 20 - QDCBS (Quick and Dirty Chili Bean Stew)
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 19 - Chicken Salmonella
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 18 - I'll give YOU a good stuffing turkey (1)
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 17 - REAL Coffee
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 16 - DTG (Damn That's Good) dip
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 15 - More Chocolate Than Cookie
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 14 - Millions of Peaches
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 13 - Mels 10,000 Calorie Butter Cookies
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 12 - Lard Ass Wings
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 11 - Bacon Double Macaroni and Cheese
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 10 - It's the meat stupid
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 9 - Labor Day Potatos
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 8 - It's a pork fat thing
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 7 - It may not be Kosher...
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 6 - Andouille Guiness Chili Recipes for REAL men, Volume 5 - Eazza the Ultimate Pizza
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 4 - Two Pound Meat Sauce
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 3 - Highbrow Hash
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 2 - MuscleCarbonara
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 1 - More Beef than Stew

Engineer Facial hair standard, mark 1 mod 0

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Big post delayed again

Ok, this time I swear, it'll be up tomorrow. It's year end crunch time both at work, and at home, and I haven't been able to finish the big piece yet (it's only been... uh... two weeks).

I am about 3/4 done; but I also spent all night last night playing portal instead of sleeping, so I'mna pass out now and finish it up tomorrow.

Oh and this one isn't about guns, politics, money, sex, or religion... it's something FAR more controversial.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hmmmmm... must buy

HT: Lileks

Sleep Deprived

So LabRat is a little grumpy and irritable... and not quite thinking at 100% She's figured out, it's because she's been running on sleep debt for a while.

I know the feeling. I have been running on pretty much constant sleep debt for years.

I don't sleep much. I am just fine with 4-6 hours of sleep a day, and always have been. In fact, if I get more than 8 hours of sleep, I feel groggy and disoriented on waking up.

Unfortunately, I've been a chronic insomniac since I was 5; and even getting 4 hours can be difficult for me.

When I was in high school, it was a lot worse. I went to school, played football, worked, and worked out at least two hours a day, and I still couldn't sleep. I used to go several days without sleeping at all; then I'd collapse, exhausted, and sleep for 12-16 hours; which was still not enough to recover from the sleep deprivation.

The longest time I've gone without sleep is five and a half days; and I was very definitely hallucinating long before the end of that period.

The only time I've ever been able to sleep much was during constant heavy physical activity; where we would be literally physically exhausting ourselves to the point of near collapse every day. There, I got as much sleep as I could (which was never enough).

Thankfully, as I've aged, the insomnia has improved; and now I can consistently sleep at least 2 hours most every night, and usually 4. 2 hours isn't much, but it lets me function the next day; and if I've only had that much sleep, I can usually nap during that day (something I have a real hard time doing unless I'm totally exhausted to the point of collapse), and come up to 3 or 4 hours total.

Sometimes though the insomnia chains 2 hour days together; as many as three or four in a row. When that happens, I'm really a zombie by the last day.

Mel is a completely different story. She needs about 9-10 hours of sleep a night to properly function. She gets up at 6:30 am to get the kids ready for school, and generally wants to go to bed by 10; sometimes by 9. She also often takes naps during the day. I know that if she didn't get at least 8 hours the night before, she'll be looking for a nap at some point.

Worse, if she doesn't get her 9-10 hour total (including naps), she is completely unable to properly function.

I on the other hand get up sometime around 7:30, and generally go to bed between 1 and 2; and she gets upset because I don't want to spend 4 hours in bed doing nothing (with her asleep of course. 4 hours in bed with her not asleep sounds just fine to me) in what is the middle of the evening as far as I'm concerned.

I always tell her, it's not about her, it's about me; I just can't sleep, and I don't want to sit there for four hours not sleeping when I could be doing other things. She counters by saying "I can't sleep right without you there. It doesn't feel right".

In fact, if I'm not there while she's sleeping, she wakes up every hour or so and tries to come get me to come to bed; getting increasingly upset each time.

While I love the fact that my wife wants me next to her when she's sleeping; it gets pretty damn irritating actually. Thankfully, when I am there, she sleeps like she's had 30mg of Restoril; so I end up doing a lot of quiet reading in bed.

So obviously, neither of us has particularly healthy sleeping habits. I don't get enough sleep, and remarkably, even though she sleeps for 2/5 of the day, and 2-3 times as much as I do, apparently neither does she.

I'm not sure which is "better"; being able to function on 2 hours of sleep even though it's slowly destroying your body, or not being able to function at all on less than 8 hours, so at least you aren't pushing yourself into sleep debt.

Friday, November 23, 2007

To a tee...

Your Score: Chris Knight

150 Heart, 152 Genius, 175 Cool, 148 Excitability

Chris Knight - (Val Kilmer)
Real Genius (1985)

You are Chris Knight. You're brilliant, but you know that if you don't think about anything but work, you'll get burnt out. No danger of that for you. You're loyal to your friends, you love the ladies, and most of all the ladies love you.

"Moles and trolls, moles and trolls, work, work, work, work, work. We never see the light of day. We plan this thing for weeks and all they want to do is study. I'm disgusted. I'm sorry but it's not like me, I'm depressed. There was what, no one at the mutant hamster races, we only had one entry into the Madame Curie look-alike contest and he was disqualified later. Why do I bother?"

Other scientific possibilities:

Gary Wallace

Wyatt Donnelly

Peter Venkman

Jordan Cochran

Egon Spengler

Doc Brown

Newton Crosby

Paul Stephens

Ben Crandall

Wayne Szalinkski

Winston Zeddemore

Ben Jabituya

Lazlo Hollyfeld

Ray Stantz

Buckaroo Banzai

Chris Knight

Link: The Which 80s Movie Scientist Test written by xxyl on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hmmmmm... Turkey

Well, we did thanksgiving at our house again this year; with Mels parents, Emily, and Kommander joining us; for a total of 6 adults (or something approaching the description), two kids, two dogs, and two cats.

Let's just say the house was full of life.

We did a 20lb turkey; prepared much as we did last year. It sounds more complicated than it is; really, it's quite easy and you get excellent turkey.

So, first, I brined it overnight in very salty water, a little Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar.

This morning, I did a compound herb butter, and rubbed the bird down inside and out, salted and peppered the skin; and injected the breast and drums with a mixture of Cote du Rhone rose', and salty turkey stock (and poured the remaining two cups into the base of the pan).

Finally, I stuffed some fresh sage, fresh rosemary, and a stick of butter in the body cavity; and stuck it in the oven at 500 for 30 minutes to crisp up the skin.

After 30 minutes, I turned the oven down to 325, tented the whole bird, and roasted it at 325 for an hour; while I prepped the cornbread, bacon, and apple stuffing.

After an hour an a half total cooking time, I stuffed the bird, folded the tent back to leave the body cavity exposed; and roasted at 325 for 3-1/2 more hours, basting every 20-30 minutes.

The total cooking time was right at 5 hours even; to reach 160 in the thickest and coolest part of the breast.

Unfortunately, the dark meat was a tiny bit under done at that temperature. I noticed it was still running a little ping when I jointed the bird, so we measured and it only hit 151; but no-one was complaining. Most of it is going into the soup I'm making the stock for right now actually.

Along side that, we did some beautiful whipped potatos. A lot of people THINK they don't like whipped potatos, because all they've had is school cafeteria grade whipped potatoes. If you haven't had GOOD whipped potatoes, you don't know what you're missing. They're like mashies done with a lot of butter, pepper, and cream; and mixed very smooth, but still with a full potato texture, not some soupy oily mess. If you do them right, they taste and feel almost like eating a perfectly baked potato with whipped butter on top. Oh and we boil our taters in a salty vinegar brine, just for a little extra flavor.

Mel made some mashed sweet potatoes(I cant stand sweet potatos), and some home made dinner rolls, and I made some corn (unfortunately not fresh on the cob, but still good); and about two quarts of really great gravy.

I tried a new wine with dinner, a Shingleback cab. I've got a 2003 Penfolds bin 407 that I was planning on having tonight, but I picked the Shingleback up on special, to try something new. It was quite good, but very tannic, bright, and bold; and not the best accompaniment for the bird. Honestly, I'd just say that it was too young. Mel was much happier with her Cote du Rhone Rose'.

Finally we finished it off with pecan pie and ice cream; Costco this time not home made (Mel has never done a pecan pie, and wants time to work on recipes), but it was surprisingly good.

The food was great, the company wonderful, and everyone went home happy and stuffed. Heck, even the dogs behaved themselves. ALl in all a damn fine day.

Verbal Style

As should be obvious to regular readers; I'm somewhat over educated, and have a rather large vocabulary... I occasionally trend into the obscure, and I have an odd sense of humor.

Other times I may sound like the biggest good ol boy on the planet.

Those are both me. Same person, just a different way of expressing myself.

The way I speak, and write for that matter; doesn’t seem odd to me, or most of my friends. Humor, intelligence, wit, and vocabulary are simply assumed. If you don’t get it, especially the obscure humor and references; you just won’t be able to keep up.

Every once in a while though, I “stand back from it” while were talking, and I realize that to someone looking in from the outside, we must look like the rich snooty people from an old movie; speaking a language “the common folk” just don’t know etc… etc…

It isn’t intended to be “stuck up”, or exclusionary; it’s simply expressing ourselves most appropriately to the time, audience, and situation; and to the best of our abilities.

Now, if I know I’m going to be speaking with people of lesser verbal capacity (and again I emphasize, that is not a value judgment, or even an evaluation of their intelligence) I will moderate my speech (and again, my writing), and tailor it to an appropriate vocabulary and frame of reference. That is not condescending; it is, as I said above, expressing myself in the most appropriate manner for the time, audience, and situation. It really is about maintaining effective communication, no matter the audience.

‘sides… it’s easier and more relaxing.

Of course on occasion I’ve had one group of people who only knew me as a slightly southern accented, relaxed, purveyor of colorful metaphors; receive a hell of a shock when something like philosophy, or physics, or engineering comes up, and of a sudden I become a high energy northern college professor.

I wasn’t saying anything different… just saying it in a different way.

Let us give thanks this day

For our families and loved ones; who comfort us, support us, and guide us.

For our freedoms, liberties, rights, privileges, responsibilities, and duties as free men.

For hour honor, and our souls.

For those who lay their lives down to protect them all.

Let us give thanks; for life would be nothing without them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Anyone know a trustworthy lawyer in Massachusetts?

Ok, as you all probably know by now, I am originally from Boston. I moved out to Arizona in '93, and the last time I spent any length of time in MA was from 1998 - 1999.

In 1999, I got three traffic citations, and three fines, that I did not know about; because more than a month after I received a ticket, the state of Massachusetts decided that my Arizona drivers license was invalid, and that I was actually driving on an expired Massachusetts drivers license (which I was not, but that’s what they decided AFTER THE FACT). The state then canceled my registration and insurance without telling me, and fined me three times for driving without a license, registration, or insurance.

I then moved out of the country, and didn’t return until 2003; at which time I was living in Arizona, and I renewed my Arizona drivers license; which I'd had since 1994. The Arizona drivers license doesn't expire until you're 60, so they thought my license was still valid, but I'd moved out of the country, so technically it would have been canceled six months after I moved.

In 2004, I was pulled over for making a right turn on a no right turn light (didn’t see the sign), and I found out my drivers license was suspended. Since 2004 I have supposedly cleared this up three times; however each time, my drivers license was re-suspended six months later; and each time I was not notified.

The state of Massachusetts has also tried to assess me several thousand dollars in taxes and fees, for a time when I did not live there.

Thus far this exercise has cost me several thousand dollars, and two different lawyers have screwed it up. Bench warrants have been issued on the three unpaid fines. I at least managed to get the tax idiocy taken care of.

Just last night I checked with the Arizona MVD, and sure enough my license has been cancelled again (different from a suspension, because Massachusetts is claiming that I still have a revoked drivers license with them, so Arizona doesn’t suspend my license, they cancel it).

Additionally, because these are criminal warrants (failure to answer a summons), my Arizona CCW permit is also suspended until such time as the warrants are recalled.

I am not eligible to have the Arizona MVD ignore Massachusetts (they would if I was poor, but I make too much money); and the MA courts won’t let me pay the three fines remotely. I can however have a lawyer appear for me.... at least in theory, unless the judges decide that they want me to show up in person, which they can do at their whim.

Unfortunately, the fines are in 3 different (neighboring) courts; all three of which want a $550 fine now (including late fees, administrative costs, and failure to appear fine). Then I need to pay a $300 reinstatement fee to the Mass RMV.

As I said, two different lawyers have now screwed this up (it was supposed to have been already taken care of three times; twice with one Lawyer and a third time with another). I need to get this issue resolved, and I can’t afford to waste any more time or money on this.

So, I'm not quite desperate; but I am certainly irritated, and looking for some personal referrals from my readers in Mass, or who deal with Mass.

Does anyone know a trustworthy and reliable lawyer in eastern Massachusetts, who won't charge me an arm and a leg to get this issue resolved? It’s probably only about 6 hours worth of work total, but I obviously can’t trust my other two lawyers to fix this.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Argh, out of time

SO I started working on a long post this morning, intending to have it up tonight; and here it is 10 minutes to midnight, and I'm only half way done.

'Twas a busy day at work today, and then Emily needed us to rescue her from the curb where the cop left her after having her car towed to the impound yard. Apparently she was pulled over, and she had her license suspended a year ago without being notified of it (I've had it happen to me before as well).

Oh well, at least I didn't have to bail her out of jail.

Anyway, expect a big post some time tomorrow.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Babes With Bullets - Match Day and Culmination of Camp

First off, please let me apologize for finishing up so late. Chris and I spent this last weekend getting some things ready for the holidays, and Saturday Chris, John, and I celebrated my birthday with a TSO concert and lots of food.

But anyway...

Thursday morning the condo awoke early once more. The day would be our last day at the range, and the last day of camp.

We headed to the range early and watched as the stages were arranged for the first match. This would be my first actual match with actual competition, and some of the other campers shared my experience level in this regard.

The campers split off into two groups to shoot the 4 stages. I don't have any pictures; I somewhat lost track of the need to take pics as I was too busy watching everyone in my group compete =).

There were four stages in the match, some with swingers, some with no-shoots, some with steel, and all with some kind of obstruction to work around. I'd never done anything like the footwork, speed, and movement necessary to complete the stages, and I LOVED it.

After the points were totaled I ended up smack dab in the middle of the production class, and given a few goofs I'd done and the caliber of competition I had, I am more than happy with that standing.

At the end of the match the camp officially ended. All those in Kay's carpool (Ann, Lisa, and me) helped tear down the stages as we waited for Lisa to finish up.

BTW, if you ever get a chance to talk to Lisa Munson about guns, take it. The ride back to Phoenix passed by very quickly.

Kay dropped me off at my poor, neglected household that afternoon and I waved bye to my fellow campers as they headed off to Rio Salado.

Bottom line: by the end of the camp I'd learned to be more accurate, faster, and definitely more confident in my shooting. All of this is entirely due to the exceptional instructors, one-on-one instruction, and long days at the range during the camp. As for the other campers? All of them were supportive, caring, awesome women.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely. In fact, there is at least one woman we know who will be going to the camp next year. Am I going again? ABSOLUTELY. I enjoyed the camp immensely and the instruction is worth 5 times what they charge. I'm signing up again when the camp comes back to AZ next year.


Some additional info:
The Babes with Bullets site
Kay Miculek's company site, with camp info
Marsha Petrie Sue's (fellow camper and published author) site

This is Part 5 of a series of posts about my experience at the Ladies Shooting Camp I attended.
Post 1 - Background
Post 2 - Meet and Greet
Post 3 - Day 1 of Instruction
Post 4 - Day 2 of Instruction

Pretty good summation there J.R.

From J.R. Shirley:

"It's not that I'm a Republican; I'm not. I think the Democrats want to take our firearms and financial freedoms, and the Republicans want to take our moral freedoms. Jordy somehow needs to be more upset at the Republicans, but as I tell her, it's easier to fight when you have guns and money. When you're broke and unarmed, anything can be taken from you."

ht: Tam

National Ammo Day

Remember to go out and buy at least 100 rounds today.

It's for the children.

Oh and Happy Birthday Kim

Friday, November 16, 2007

Babes With Bullets - Day 2 of Instruction

Day 2 of instruction started with gun and mag cleaning around the kitchen table.

Day 1 concluded with more than 400 rounds through the Detective and by the end of the day malfunctions became more and more common. The hot, dusty weather did NOT agree with the lubricant in the Detective and I experienced a few failures to eject. Lisa helped me out with a quick bore snake and re-lube, but between the weather, the stress, and the reload drills (mags dropped in the dust) the Detective and mags needed a full cleaning and lubrication. Everyone else experienced the same need to tend to their firearms.

And so Wednesday morning found most of us in the condo hauling out our cleaning supplies and cleaning mats. Lisa sold me some GunButter (the greatest stuff on the planet) and I gave the Detective some much-needed TLC.

After breakfast we headed out the range and hung out for a bit while the stages were prepared.

Range Day 2 found us running through the previous day's drills, but the with the newer shooters joining us. Since there were 23 of us, we shot our drills in relays. After the heat and exhaustion of Range Day 1 the breaks provided by the relays were quite welcome.

After running through our previous drills our instructors led us through some new moves. In day 2 we covered:

  • Reloading on the move
  • Footwork
  • Switching targets
  • Shooting on the move
  • Strong hand and weak hand shooting
  • Keeping the sight picture on the move
  • Handling moving targets
In essence, the instructors covered every possible facet of completing the stages we would be faced with the next day.

Near the end of the range time we ran some stages and shot some steel. About this time I realized that although I do really well on paper targets, I suck at steel plates. Judy checked the sights on the Detective and they were not *ahem* adequate, but I hated how poorly I did on the plates.

However, I found I LOVED shooting the paper and moving targets of the stages. The stages offered more of a challenge than line shooting at a single target and although I'd never done stages before, I did quite well for a beginner.

Learning to be accurate and fast is, after all, the entire point of the camp, as well as becoming comfortable and confident with firearms.

Some pics taken during various breaks at the range:

Renee, Sheila, and Penny
One of the relays.

Break time.

After the range (and a slight detour for margaritas and a beer) we returned to our condo and cleaned up for the last dinner. We also had a visitor in the form of Dewey, Deb's Great Dane/ Mastiff mix.

Yes, he is HUGE and about 180 lbs of sweetheart.

Oh, yes, and we made it onto the local news.

After the broadcast we headed out to our last group dinner and continued to get to know all of the other campers.

Jackie and Donna

Eva and Penny


After good food and good company we headed back to our condos for our last bit of rest before the culmination of the camp.


Tomorrow: Match Day and the End of Camp

This is Part 4 of a series of posts about my experience at the Ladies Shooting Camp I attended last week.
Post 1 - Background
Post 2 - Meet and Greet
Post 3 - Day 1 of Instruction
Post 5 - Match Day and Culmination of Camp

Thursday, November 15, 2007

S'About right

Which Discworld Character are you like (with pics)
created with
You scored as Lord Havelock Vetinari

You are Lord Vetinari! Supreme ruler of Ankh-Morpork! Cool, calculated, and always in control. You graduated from the assassins guild, but failed a course on stealth and camouflage, because the professor never saw you there (even though you attended every class). You always seem to know what everyone is thinking, and after a conversation with you, people feel that they have just escaped certain death.

Lord Havelock Vetinari


Gytha (Nanny) Ogg




Commander Samuel Vimes


Carrot Ironfounderson


The Librarian






Esmerelda (Granny) Weatherwax


Cohen The Barbarian


Babes With Bullets - Day 1 of Instruction

I expected to be taught something new. I expected to be taught how to be a more accurate and faster pistol shooter. I did NOT expect near as much instruction or one-on-one guidance as I received.

Day 1 at the range involved 8 hours of pure instruction in the basics, including:
  • Proper range behavior
  • Stance
  • Grip
  • Drawing safely and quickly from the holster
  • Sight picture
  • Trigger control
  • 1 shot drills from the holster
  • Accuracy through 6-shot groups
  • BILL Drills (6 shots as quickly and accurately as you are comfortable)
  • Reload drills
The beginners group started with even more basic concepts; gun safety, basic gun handling, target shooting with .22 pistols, and then graduation to the 9mm.

All of my group spent most of the day on the firing line at the same time. However, despite the fact that all of us were on the line at the same time the 2 instructors guiding us took time to watch us all separately and correct our grip, stance, and draw from the holster. They also took time with each of us to help us with our sight picture and accuracy.

Although I started out a reasonable shot, by the end of the day almost all of my shots ended up in the A-zone and I was twice as accurate and twice as fast as when I started.

For all of you reading this review thinking of sending yourself or your loved one, I can NOT overstate the amount of individual attention the instructors gave all of us. Each instructor told us exactly what we needed to know whenever they helped us, and tracked our progress through the day. They were kind, patient, encouraging the entire time, with an eye towards continued progress.

I learned more about how to handle my pistol for accuracy in the first day at the range than I learned in the 2 years prior.

I would have pictures of the training, except 1. I didn't want to spoil the experience for any new campers, and 2. they kept us so busy that I had NO time to take pics.

After the range we returned to our condo to clean up before dinner. At dinner we were surprised with a special guest.

There, between Mike (Sheila's husband and our chef) and Sheila is Sandy Froman, former president of the NRA. She joined us for our group dinner, a short speech, and some meet and greet with the campers.

Speaking of Mike, he's an excellent chef and baker:

Chocolate cake with white chocolate-covered maraschino cherries and Hershey's kisses and almonds. All of the food Mike prepared was utterly awesome.

Dinner was great, the camaraderie was great, the stories were great. Of course, all of us were encouraged to join the NRA if we weren't already members, and any other gun rights groups we wanted to join. All throughout the camp it was made clear that women are the future of gun rights, and we need to be active advocates for gun rights.

Some other pictures from the night:

Ann (one of my roomies), Rozanne, and Rose Mary

Deb, Sandy, and Kay Miculek

Kay Miculek, Deb, Marsha, Sandy, Trish

Nikki, Sharon, Karan

Donna, Evelyn, Sandy, Eva, Jackie, and Nikki. Sandy with all of the NRA Certified Instructors at the camp.

All in all, a good first full day at the camp.


Tomorrow: Day 2 of Instruction - MORE drills

This is Part 3 of a series of posts about my experience at the Ladies Shooting Camp I attended last week.
Post 1 - Background
Post 2 - Meet and Greet
Post 4 - Day 2 of Instruction
Post 5 - Match Day and Culmination of Camp

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Babes With Bullets - Meet and Greet

Luckily enough due to the power of email I received an offer to carpool with Kay Z. This saved me from renting a car and saved her from driving all the way to Tucson by herself, which would have been a considerable bore.

So mid-morning Chris dropped me off at Kay's house (after the required introductions of course) and we started our trek to Tucson.

A couple of hours and a nice lunch later we made it to our vacation rental complex, which turned out to be much NICER than expected considering the cost for the course and accommodations was $425.

Outside of the meetup condo we met two of our soon-to-be roomies, Eva and Lisa Munson. They showed us to the condo, which exceeded all expectations.

3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a gorgeous view. Later we would hear tales of the accommodations at previous camps not being quite so swank, but we were more than happy with our condo.

We left the condo and attended a filming session, then returned for a little R&R before the big group dinner. Kay, Eva, and I decided we were in need of some sustenance not provided by the camp and that a booze run was in order.

By this time 5 of us roomies had moved into the condo, and bonding commenced.

Time for the group dinner came upon us, and we headed out the "hospitality" condo.

There we met the rest of the campers and the rest of the instructors. I would have pictures but *someone* forgot to mention that camera battery being "low" when he handed it to me really meant "will shut off after 10 pictures".

Anyway, we met all of the other women and our chef and got to the business of getting to know each other before going to the range the next day. As for warnings about what we in for? Other than finding out we would be divided into 2 groups (new shooters and not-so-new shooters) all we found out for sure was that we were going to be sore by the end of first day at the range.

I did not expect the level of welcoming and camaraderie within this group of women, some of whom (like Kay and myself) did not know a single soul attending. We all had two things in common; being female (obviously) and wanting to learn how to shoot or shoot better. What I've learned after 2 years of dealing with gun nuts held true: gun people are the nicest people in the world.


Tomorrow: Range day and more training than I thought could be squeezed into 8 hours.

This is Part 2 of a series of posts about my experience at the Ladies Shooting Camp I attended last week.
Post 1 - Background
Post 3 - Day 1 of Instruction
Post 4 - Day 2 of Instruction
Post 5 - Match Day and Culmination of Camp

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Valour-IT Challenge Wrap up

Well folks, the totals are in; and unfortunately we fell well short of our goal.

The good news is, through the Anarchangel pistol challenge, we helped raise over $4000 of that total; 2/3 of which was from three individual donors; who although they do not wish to be identified I want to thank personally for their donations. In fact I want to thank all of you who donated, no matter how much it was. I think maybe I'll do this next year too, 'cept bigger, and with a nicer gun.

Now, the winner...

The winning donor, a reader from Pennsylvania, kicked in $1200; which I'm ashamed to admit is a fair bit more than I've donated myself this year. He has asked that his name not be released, and I'll respect that.

SIr, thank you very mucch for your donation, and your consideration; and your pistol will be on its way to you as soon as I can arrange it with my FFL.

So let me ask y'all; do you think a raffle format would work and/or be better for next year?

It would work like this:

Each individual donation of say $25, (or maybe $50, I haven't decided) would entitle you to one "ticket" in the drawing. Donate $100 get 4 tickets donate $1200, get 48 etc... As an incentive for larger donations, for every 5 tickets worth of donations, you'd get a free ticket. The raffle would go from the first day of the challenge to the last, and obviously the odds would be dependent on the number of donors. Also I think I'd have to add in a caveat about there being a certain number reached; say the retail value of the gun; but I don't think that'd be an issue.

I'm trying to balance the incentive for the small donors, but I also want to encourage larger donations.

What do you think?

Oh and what kind o gun would y'all like to see auctioned off? Something nicer than the PA-63 here; but something I could in theory afford to buy and donate?

THey've made this one a lot better

Used to be these language quizzes didn't do too well in identifying me, because I don't have Boston accent at all really. I don't have the stereotypical dropped R, broad A, and D-T transposition for example.

Looks like they've upped the discrimination factors and improved their weighting; because this is pretty darn close:

What American accent do you have? (Best version so far)


This could either mean an r-less NYC or Providence accent or one from Jersey which doesn't sound the same. Just because you got this result doesn't mean you don't pronounce R's.(People in Jersey don't call their state "Joisey" in real life)

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.

What would YOU do?

As he is wont to do, Joe Huffman asks an important question or two:

At the end of the day (figuratively speaking, literally it will be next spring), the question is what will people do if we are ruled against. Uncle says, "Then, giddy up." Armed Canadian says he would expect the NRA to engage in its biggest fund raising drive in history. Sebastian says it will motivate people in the short term and then the RKBA will gently fade away.

One alternative is a constitution convention as discussed in the comments to Kevin's post. Yeah, right. Our country completely and totally abandoned the enumerated powers model of the constitution during the Roosevelt administration. There wasn't enough outrage then to do a constitutional convention and the loss of just one amendment that is only exercised by something like 40% of the population won't meet the bar.

Going back to the revolutionary war we find that only about one third of the population were in favor of revolt against the tyrant King George. Another one third was opposed and one third were uncommitted. So, based on that model a case could be made that enough outraged gun owners might be able to pull off an illegal action of some sort.

I'd like to imagine there would be some sort Unintended Consequences revolt to the decision but from talking to many gun owners I know that won't happen. I know of three different FFL holders that were outspoken defenders of the RKBA and told of how if they ever gave up their FFL they would have a "mysterious fire" and all the 4473s would be tragically lost. When it came down to it, all of them turned them over to the ATF with only a mild whimper. Another person was exceedingly outspoken about how strongly they believed in their right to free speech and the RKBA. It wasn't even government action, merely pressure from potential investors and employers that convinced them to take their blog offline.

Several years ago one IPSC shooter I know was complaining about the stupid gun laws and how wrong they were. I asked, "So what will you do when your guns are declared illegal and you are told to turn them in? What will you do?" He gave me a confused look and said in a tone that indicated that he thought I was insane to even ask such a stupid question, "I'll turn them over. I'll complain, but I'll turn them over."

Who do you know that has actually followed through on some illegal activity in pursuit of securing liberty for future generations? Okay, if they are smart they won't tell anyone they broke law. So lets reword that a little bit; Who do you suspect may have broken the law in pursuit of securing liberty for future generations? I'll bet you can count them all on the fingers of one hand with several fingers left over.

Well, let's just say this, as to the first question "what will you do":

I will die before I will give up my guns; and I don't plan on dyin'

I figure, maybe 5% of gun owners HONESTLY feel the same way; and of those, maybe 5% will actually do something about it.

...250,000 is more than enough...

Even if I'm wrong by a factor of 10, 25,000 is more than enough.

Now, as to the second question, "how many people do you know or suspect have broken the law in pursuit of securing liberty":

Well Joe, it aint one hand, or two... let's just say that.

Valour-IT Challenge - I need your reciepts

Ok folks, the Valour-IT challenge completed at midnight last night.

If you haven't sent me your receipt yet to qualify for the gun, please do so before 5pm Arizona time (Mountain Daylight) tonight.

Babes With Bullets - Background

First off, for those of you who don't know me that well, a little background.

I've been shooting for almost 2 years now. I did have some experience with firearms beforehand (a .22 rifle during summer camp at the age of 10, and some shooting with an ex who worked at a gun store) but my birthday, 2005, marks the beginning of my love of firearms.

At the time I was living alone in a not-so-good part of Mesa. The kids would be back in my care in another month, so I was in desperate need of a form of self-protection. Enter Chris, John, and Ben whose combined birthday present to me was a Ruger SP101 and all the necessary accessories.

I've been shooting ever since, and my personal collection has grown to include a Ithaca Model 37 Deerslayer in 20ga, a Marlin 1894c in .357, my tiny Llama Especial Spanish service pistol in .380, and a Kel-Tec PF9. I've gone on many range trips and gone through many rounds and been to 6 group shooting events in the past 2 years.

Despite all of these times spent shooting, I wasn't exactly what you would call well trained. Was I well-versed in the 4 rules? A rather good shot? Up to date on all applicable laws and consequences? Yes, yes, and yes. But I'd never had any professional training past what John taught me and Chris tried to teach me.

Yes, Chris tries, and he tries hard. But for some reason I have some kind of mental block when it comes to learning from him.

So when LawDog posted a link to the Ladies Shooting Camp site, my first words were, "that's what I want for my birthday."

Someone (Kommander I think) complained that it was "sexist" to have a shooting camp just for women. I think Chris's exact words were, "I don't care. It's taught by Kay Clark Miculek. If I could go, I WOULD."

And so it was agreed that I was, without a doubt, going to attend.

In the months following, other sites posted links to videos of the camp and other info and I became more excited about going. A few months back I took all of the firearms we had that we possibilities for me to take for the training, including the PF9 (ow, ow, ow, Cor-Bon nearly drove it into my forehead), the Colt Defender (which does not like me at all) and the FM Detective, which is essentially a shortened Browning High Power. After running some standard practice rounds through all 3 semis (having only shot each once before) I decided the Detective would be the best choice out of everything available to me. Not only is it heavy with relatively little recoil, but 9mm is nice to shoot and 15 round standard magazines are a major plus.

I checked our personal stores for a holster, checked the pile of mag pouches and chose a double, and drove to AZ Shooters World and chose a tactical belt. 840 rounds of handloaded 9mm packed in my range bag and I was ready to go.

And I had no idea what I was in for.


Tomorrow: I find out exactly what I signed up for.

This is Part 1 of a series of posts about my experience at the Ladies Shooting Camp I attended last week.
Post 2 - Meet and Greet
Post 3 - Day 1 of Instruction
Post 4 - Day 2 of Instruction
Post 5 - Match Day and Culmination of Camp

Monday, November 12, 2007

It's Not About You

If I hear "Happy Veteran's Day" one more time today there WILL be consequences, and I will NOT be responsible for my actions.

First off, there is only one proper sentiment for Veteran's Day - "Thank You". Saying happy "Day That We Remember Those Who Died and Fight For Us" just seems kind of crass.

Secondly, today is NOT Veteran's Day. Today is Veteran's Day, Observed. Today could also be called "Any Excuse For a Federal/Bank Holiday" Day and "Yay, I Get Time and a Half" Day. But today is DEFINITELY not Veteran's Day.

Veteran's Day was yesterday, November 11th. Why November 11th? Because on November 11th, 1918 the armistice of 1918 was signed, ending the fighting of World War I. A few months later, The Treaty of Versailles officially ended the fighting and wholesale slaughter of an entire generation of young men. The armistice marked the point where every soldier (and his family and friends) breathed a collective sigh of relief as they knew for certain they were coming home.

The Treaty of Versailles was signed on November 11th, 1918, not November 11th "unless it falls on a Sunday, in which case it will be celebrated on the 12th so everyone can get a 3 day weekend."

Changing the date not only destroys the ENTIRE point of remembering the day, but is also incredibly insulting to those who died in WWI. Essentially, changing the date to something more convenient makes it not about those who died and those who still fight, but about those who "celebrate" those sacrifices with a day off a work.

Veteran's Day is not about a day off of work. In fact, Veteran's Day is not about you, at all, unless you are or were at one point a member of our armed forces. Veteran's Day is about THEM, all of those who fought and still fight in order to protect your rights, including the right to choose a workplace that gave you today off.

Veteran's Day is not a day of celebration, relaxation, and furniture sales. Veteran's Day is a day of remembrance of all the sacrifices which insure our liberty.

Veteran's Day is not about you, it's about them. It's about remembering to honor those who died, and those who still live.

So if you insist on "celebrating" today, go buy a veteran a drink, or visit the graves all of the fallen. You don't need a holiday to thank those who fight so we don't have to.


We're High-Def Baby

So, the HD-DVD forum, has decided to put a sleeper hold on Sony and Blu-Ray.

Sony has been sustaining Blu-Ray on the back of the PS3; but the thing originally cost $600 ($699 list), and people just weren't buying them. It seems that $399 is the upper limit for what people are willing to pay for a game console; because any higher than that, and they can get better results and more utility with a PC they buy for just a bit more money.

Sony had cut the price to $599 list (about $500 street) and still sold less than half of what they projected. They've just cut it again to $499 for Christmas, and added a lower specced model. Even the new stripped down model they sell for $399 is tanking on the shelves; but they can't go below $399, because they were already losing $200 on every PS3 they sold at $600, never mind ower.

If you take the PS3 out of the equation, standalone Blu-Ray players have sold less than half of their HD-DVD competition; and it's about to get worse.

From now until at least Christmas, you'll be seeing HD-DVD players that were normally selling from $299 to $600 suddenly selling for under $200-$300.

The manufacturers are selling them out as loss leaders, to increase unit sales; and man it is working.

Lots of people have been betting on Blu-Ray because of Sonys backing and tactics, but for the last two years, Sony has actually been in serious trouble. Their management has been sacked twice now; and almost all their profits were coming from SCEA, the electronic entertainment group, that includes the PS3. Well, the PS3 is a flop, that pulls a $200 loss to Sony for every unit they sell; and those Playstation profits have just evaporated.

On the content side of things, Sony has been losing partners all throughout 2007; as now every studio except Sony, Disney, Fox, and MGM have switched either exclusively to HD-DVD, or they are supporting both formats.

With this new sales drive, HD-DVD should achieve the critical mass of home players necessary to institute the network effect. This is especially true, with HD-DVD drives available for the X-BOX 360 (and believed to be place directly inside the chassis as of next years major revision), and coming pre-installed in far more home computers than Blu-Ray (even Sony only has a couple models with them).

The sad part is, Blu-Ray is technically superior (slightly)but it's sonys pricing and insistence on control that are killing it.

Now, Sony can't afford to make the same kind of price cuts with Blu-Ray; one, because they have no profits to discount out of; but also because they recognize that half the sales they've made of the PS3 are due to it being the cheapest Blu-Ray player on the market (and it still is by the way. at $399 it's $50 cheaper than the lowest price standalone models generally available street price; though I've seen that model discounted to $379 on sale in the last two weeks). If they were to discount Blu-Ray players, they'd be cannibalizing their already pathetic PS3 sales.

Two weeks ago, Best Buy had a blowout sale on the Toshiba HD-A2, which lists at $299 (and usually streets at $249), for $99. It was gone in about two hours of course. This weekend Costco is doing the same model for $169; and they've got a lot more stock than Best Buy had.

To top it all off, Toshiba is offering anyone who buys one of their HD players, five free HD-DVDs (from a list of about 25) as a rebate (there is a similar rebate available for Blu-Ray)

I'd been planning to sit out the fray for a while, and either wait for one of the obscenely expensive dual format machines to come down in price (currently about $699); or to see who came out on top. With that price in front of us though, we took the plunge and bought an HD-DVD player this weekend. We also grabbed four movies: Top Gun, Serenity, 300, and Blazing Saddles.

Oh my god, why did we wait again? This thing is worth twice the price.

Now, please note, I don't even have an HDTV yet. I have a high quality SDTV, with component inputs; but not an HDTV (we were planning on buying one for Christmas, but a new transmission for the truck nixed that idea) . It's being switched through a standard AV receiver with no HDMI, and no conversions (also, just for giggles, we hooked it up to one of my higher end computer monitors, and played some HD content at 720p).


This thing looks incredible on both the monitor, and on the TV. It's WAY better on the TV than regular DVD. You wouldn't think the difference would be so notable; but I have two of those four movies on standard DVD, and switching back and forth, even on the SDTV display, the difference is unbelievable. It's at least as big a difference as VHS was to DVD.

My lord, the SOUND. These HD movies are mixed so much better; and then output in better formats. The detail, richness, and definition through my stereo is miles beyond what I was hearing from standard DVD sound tracks (admittedly, I do have a decent surround decoder with optical inputs etc... ). Watching Serenity, I actually clearly heard lines I didn't even know were in the movie; and in so doing, improved my enjoyment of it.

I've seen Top Gun... probably hundreds of times; including the original in theaters. This HD version, even on an SDTV, looked amazing. I saw detail I've never seen: rivets, panel lines, beads of sweat, reflections on the canopies and face shields... The color and lighting are just amazing. Everything is bright and vivid without bleeding or oversaturation.

Oh and I forgot to mention… DAMN HD-DVDs look amazing on high resolution, fine pixel pitch, high contrast, high brightness, professional graphics quality LCDs. I can't wait to see what it looks like when I buy my 52" 1080p Aquos.

(warning, major film geekout ahead. If you are not a film geek, just skip this bit)

What surprised me most though, was "Blazing Saddles". Now, I can't tell you how many times I've seen this movie; and to my eye it was always washed out, grainy, and had poor color rendition and shadow detail.

The movie was made in Panavision (2.35:1 anamorphic) and was one of the last true technicolor process movies (it was made in 1973 and released in 74. The last true Technicolor Hollywood movie was Godfather II, released the same year), so it was at the top of the technological heap in quality at the time.

An aside: Technicolor movies, especially the last few years of them (the first years of Process 4 were definitely oversaturated and somewhat cartoonish); had a level of color saturation that was expensive, difficult to achieve and light for, and unfashionable with "modern" filmmakers.

In the late 60s, and through the 70s, filmmakers started using much lower color saturation processes; while at the same time moving to lower quality (and cheaper) film stock. This lead to many of the films of the era having a gritty, washed out look; or a more flat look. This was often (to my mind incorrectly) praised as being more realistic; but really it was desaturation in comparison to what your eyes saw. It wasn't more realistic or accurate; it was just less colorful.

For "Blazing Saddles", Brooks wanted to preserve the look of the classic westerns, the best of which were filmed in cinemascope and technicolor; so he went and filmed anamorphic widescreen with technicolor.

At any rate, the original quality of the film was VERY high; but all of the video and DVD transfers, including the broadcast TV transfer; were just awful. Whoever did the Telecine transfer on the original home video releases should be killed. Painfully.

For the HD-DVD transfer, the studio went back to the original film stock (I'd presume the proof edit prints), and really spent the money on getting a true and rich transfer. I've seen a hell of a lot of technicolor movies in my lifetime, and none of them, displayed in any medium, have looked as good as this movie did on just my SDTV.

Typical Technicolor transfers to video look cartoonish, or plasticy, and "fake"; and they tend to have color bleeding, or washout, or just generally poor detail. Often, DVDs simply used the original VHS Telecine transfers, which not only didn't help, in some cases it actually made the problem worse; because a higher quality display of a lower quality image looks even worse than it did before; and pulldown and color palette issues are made worse in the format transfer.

This transfer just POPPED off the screen. It looked gorgeous, and rich, and saturated; without any bleedthrough, halos, artifacts, or any loss of detail that I could perceive.

After seeing this, I need to go and buy a whole bunch of old movies on HD-DVD. The digital to digital transfers of movies like 300 of course look incredible (I really can't wait for the LOTR trilogy to come out in HD), but on the old movies, that I've only been able to see on standard definition television screens with unknown quality Telecine transfers... Well, it really will be a whole new world for those movies.

HD really lets you see the film the way the director and cinematographer saw it, as they were shooting and editing it; and there are so many great classic movies that will be almost a whole new experience with the improved visuals.

I can't wait to see what Audrey Hepburn REALLY looks like.