Sunday, November 30, 2008

COLD PLAY

The sky wore a veil of gold and gray
Cold Play - Prospeckt's March

I missed shooting yesterday. In the morning, my favorite range was closed, but fighting a headache I was OK with that. In the afternoon Tam and Roberta X and I went to an indoor range, but feeling even punkier, I only shot a few rounds and eventually went home, not being good company and just not feeling well.

Today, after some medicine and a long sleep I woke feeling myself. . and cold!


SNOW. Even the birds are in hiding or gone south.

Soon the streets are quiet again, everyone home from early church services, a quick stop for coffee. Except one lone truck now headed off down a small road into the woods. The landscape is bleak.
Only a couple of other hardy souls are out, and a few more soon to arrive. Range Officers - come rain, come snow, volunteers all, they await.

The survival equipment is wrestled from her cold bag.

and in the cold and the wet. . . that first single shot rings out.


Cold Schmold. It's RANGE TIME!!!!!

Nanook Brigid of the North may have been one of the first to arrive but the others are only minutes behind.

Even the landscape is starting to look a little warmer.

A Range Report on the newest addition will post tomorrow afternoon!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

THE ECONOMICS OF QUALITY

The range was closed today, so off for a gun store crawl with friends. Hopefully in the next day or two, range time and a report on the new Bersa 380. One of the reasons this gun was selected was it provides a good quality gun, in a good concealed size for my form, at a very reasonable price.

Much of what one looks for in preparing meals for a group.

We start with leftover ham. A couple cups of it. Add a few inexpensive ingredients and you've got Home on the Range Rustler Russets. (also known in various forms as church supper potatoes in many, many cookbooks).

It's beyond simple, Take a 2 pound bag of hash brown potatoes. Stir in two cups of cheese of choice (I used a smoky cheddar) two cups of chopped veggies sauteed in butter until they are caramelized (all that butter they are cooked in goes in there too), a cup of sour cream, salt and pepper, a dash of garlic powder and a can of creamed soup.
Stir it up and put in a 13 x 9 pan. This will easily feed 6-8 hungry people. Top with a generous cup of crushed corn flakes which were mixed with two tablespoons of melted butter. The buttery corn flakes add a really nice little crunch to the top.

Bake at 350 for an hour while you plan the next day's activities.
Time to eat!

If you shop wisely you can make this dish for about $1.50 per serving. An economical little treat. Just like my Bersa. The economics of Concealed Carry - you don't have to spend a fortune to have quality self defense.

Hey, after Thanksgiving dinner, eggnog pancakes and this, I think someone shrunk my gun belt !

Monday, November 24, 2008

HOMEMADE LASAGNA AND FRIENDS - REASONS FOR COOKING

"Nanny Ogg quite liked cooking, provided there were other people around to do things like chop up the vegetables and wash the dishes afterwards."
-- Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad
Always fun to have friends over for dinner. Especially Home on the Range Lasagna dinner.

There were the typical type of discussions -recent favorite reads, why it's hard to find classic Heinlein in used bookstores and why the 147gr JHPs with a 9 mm are just better for killing bowling pins when it's about 12 degrees out. Then after a cold beer and some appetizers, the conversation wandered into the differences between Star Trek's, for one guest who had not watched a a lot of them. After going through Deep Space Nine, etc, we continued on our own, including a "southern version" of Next Generation with "John Luke Pickin" and it went from downhill from there. I about dropped the lasagna laughing when the verbal picture was painted of "John Luke" uttering the command to "sic the hound dogs on the Ferengi's!" All around, a evening of wit and fun and spark.

Barkley of course, had to join in, getting a head rub while listening to Turk demonstrate bowling pins exploding in the cold, while I looked on from the kitchen that's off the big family room. Lasagna's not that hard to make, but most people use bottled pasta sauce to which some hamburger has been added. Not at the Range, if only for the people that are like family to me. It makes a world of difference over that bottled sauce. A few ingredients, and only a few minutes to assemble before simmering. Ground sirloin, spicy hot breakfast sausage cooked up with roasted garlic, Brigid's blend of secret herbs and spices (OK, not secret - recipe will be posted shortly), some stewed tomatoes and a hour or two on low, low heat.

Layer it up with thick pieces of sliced fresh Mozzarella (not the shredded stuff) on top of another layer of two kinds of cheese whisked with eggs and fresh parley. Top with the homemade meat mixture.
Another layer of noodles cheese and finally sauce and some Parmesan. This baby weighed about 20 pounds. Enough to feed the whole posse and have leftovers. It's ready for the oven. I bought one of those huge disposable pans, as I wanted to make A LOT.

Now put it in the oven for 30 minutes while the topping on the garlic bread gets a quick broil and the last of the Portabella mushroom turnovers with cream cheese pastry appetizers are scarfed down.Hey - where did they all go? Those darn Ferengi !

Barkley tries the Vulcan Mind Meld on Tam, to no avail. He did however, get plenty of attention and a biscuit or two while everyone helped clean up, making for a perfect evening for all.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? - A Home on the Range Re-Post Request


You know your social life could use a little perking up with you meet up with a guy and he says "Did you bring protection?" and you know he's talking about eyes and ear.

Most weekends that I don't get called out to work, I usually meet my friends at the range or at one of the Fish and Game matches. Most ranges won't allow shooters out unless they have both eye and ear protection, but I've encountered several shooters outdoors in the field, chasing birds or game, that wear nothing to protect against the dB's of shotgun blast.

The sound of gunfire is the most hazardous non-occupational noise to which adults are exposed and can be a cause of noise induced hearing loss. The damage happens to the microscopic hair cells found inside the cochlea. These cells respond to mechanical sound vibrations by sending an electrical signal to the auditory nerve. Different groups of hair cells are responsible for different frequencies (rate of vibrations). The healthy human ear can hear frequencies ranging from 20Hz to 20,000 Hz. Over time, the hair cell's hair-like stereocilia may get damaged or broken. If enough of them are damaged, hearing loss results. The high frequency area of the cochlea is often damaged by loud sound.

Sound pressure is measured in decibels (dB). Like a temperature scale, the decibel scale goes below zero. The average person can hear sounds down to about 0 dB, such as the level of rustling leaves, or someone out in the kitchen trying to sneak that last brownie out of the pan. Conversations run up to as much as 60 dB, still not enough for damage, even if of filibuster quality. If a sound reaches 85 dB (an idling bulldozer) or stronger, it can cause permanent damage to your hearing over time. The following is the peak sound pressure levels of typical guns.
What is so insidious about peak levels such as these is that a single shot experienced by an unprotected ear could lead to immediate and permanent hearing loss of some degree, often accompanied by ringing, hissing, or humming in the ears. Just because you might have shot without protection in the past, and without apparent hearing loss, does not mean you might not have damage incur the next time. Exposure to peaks sound pressures can be likened to accidentally dropping that glass Yuengling bottle on the tile floor. It might break, and it might not, but you can't bet on that outcome.

Recreational firearm noise has been cited as a primary cause of hearing loss incurred during leisure activity. It is estimated that in the United States, well over 60 million Americans shoot firearms as part of recreational target practice or when hunting various wildlife. The use of firearms while hunting is of special concern because it has been reported that only about 1% of hunters use hearing protection devices. [1]

I'd suggest that even if you aren't a "regular" shooter, you invest in a good piece of hearing protection. Sure, many ranges offer a set free to use or will "rent" you a set for dollar or two charge. But frankly, the starting quality and wear from many heads larger than mine, rendered some so poor that I would have been better served taking my bra off, wrapping it around my head, and stuffing a cup in each ear.

It's not just quality of the dampening of sound, but comfort. Too loose, and you lose a large degree of the hearing protection. Too tight and you'll feel like you spent the morning with your ex spouse, not your favorite weapon. Grabbing a "free" pair at the range is not always the best way to go.

There are a lot of choices in high performance shooting hearing protection devices, many quite lightweight and comfortable. One newer offering is the Howard Leight Sport Earmuff. It's got a noise reduction rating of 22db and is VERY low profile, electronically enhanced it will amplify ambient low level noise (i.e. conversation) while truly muffling more dangerous sound. It is, however, around $60.

Howard Leight has some excellent overall and inexpensive ear protection. The one I carry with me everywhere is the Leightning L3 muff. It's sleekly elegant in design and very economical. The seal is excellent with a slow-recovery soft foam, without sacrificing comfort. The headband is extra long and softly padded, with pivoting cups that fit like a custom headband at a very decent price. With an NRR of 30d dB, one of the highest rated for any earmuff it's my favorite. I noticed the cold that required a jacket but NOT my earmuffs this day. Not all online shooting supply vendors carries them. I found mine through another favorite, Midway USA, who has them for $24.99. This pair is 3 years old and still performs as well as new. That's my own choice. You'll have your favorites. Beretta has a good one for less than $30. And Cabellas always has an assortment of well reviewed ear protection in all price ranges.

You can go high end, spending several hundred dollars, but some of the fancier ones with
four high-frequency directional microphones and two-channel digital circuitry, adjustable frequency tuning to enhance sounds on specific frequencies, 50db amplification, adjustable headsets and muffs with antimicrobial treatment, frankly aren't as well reviewed as the more budget minded ear protection. For $370 I would want it to not just comfortably cancel noise, but take Barkley for a walk and give me a back rub.

One size fits all, well, doesn't. You can find a variety of adjustable muffs for less than $40. One I liked using when I was out of town shooting and borrowed some gear, was the Pro Ears with the Soft ProForm® leather ear seals (forms tightly to your head without binding too tightly) and ProTen® headband, that can be adjusted to fit all head sizes, from youth to overinflated Congressman. These are available in three NRR ratings: 26, 28, and 33.

The bottom line - some kind of hearing protection should always be worn when firing guns. Some will even choose to use dual protection because it reduces the sounds even further for greater protection, and for some, for better shooting as well (since the pulses are lower and the likelihood of flinching is reduced). If I'm shooting a big boomstick at an indoor LEO range, which I've done before, I'll wear both muffs and the washable E.A.R. ULTRA-FIT EAR PLUGS that I picked up for $5 at Brownells.

I'm not trying to sell you a particular brand, or a particular vendor. I'm simply saying that there are many choices, and like your weapon and holster, you should pick one with good fit, comfort and protection. You may have a chance at that pheasant you missed on another day, but hearing lost in the field can't be regained. It's worth some messed up hair and a few dollars out of your pocket for quality equipment, to protect that.

(1) Kramer WL, Updike CD. Recreational shooters and their use of hearing protection. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; November 1991; Seattle, Wash.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Forget Black Friday - it's Ammo day.

November 19 is National Ammo Day.

It is a nationwide BUYcott of ammunition. You buy ammunition. 100 Rounds a person.

The goal of National Ammo Day is to empty the ammunition from the shelves of your local gun store, sporting goods, or hardware store and put that ammunition in the hands of law-abiding citizens. Make your support of the Second Amendment known--by expressing your support of our Constitutional Rights with your dollars!

Myself - I don't buy at wal-mart. Yes, the white box stuff is cheap there, but their support of gun rights is less than stellar. So I buy from my local FFL. Yes it costs a bit more, but it's money in good hands. Hands, that if I needed them, would help me in my support of gun rights. Heck, if I was a few miles away at the local grocery and I called these folks with "my battery's dead on my truck - help!" they'd be there. For I've found one thing. The people I've met shooting and buying gun supplies around these counties, the great law enforcement and civilian shooters who volunteer at Eagle Creek, at Marion County Fish and Game, Mr. and Mrs. Cheek, who own Plainfield Shooting supplies, are by and large, just good people. People I know would will be there with me, for me. Unlike those that just make promises, in hopes of getting themselves, or their candidates, elected.

So supporting my local gun store and my local range is important. Besides, though I don't plan on getting married again, if I did, I'd probably register at Brownell's. Some things are just important.

There are an estimated 75 MILLION gun owners in the United States of America. If each gun owner or Second Amendment supporter buys 100 rounds of ammunition, that’s 7.5 BILLION rounds in the hands of responsible law-abiding folks.

Yay for our side.

Monday, November 17, 2008

WHEN WHAT YOU WEAR MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE..

Did you ever notice on Star Trek that when the search team went to a planet to explore there was always one of the party in a Red Shirt? And he NEVER came back. Usually it was Ensign Ricky.

What you wear can have more impact than you think. Especially in a holster. And especially for women, as we tend to (1) wear clingier clothes and (2) be built different, both (1) and (2) I've yet to hear complaints about.

There's good holsters and bad holsters out there. My old friend The Captain had a recent post about a gun carrying device you probably don't want to add to your Christmas wish list. Most of us end up with the 'big box 'o holsters' that most shooters acquire over the years. Trying one, then another, searching for the perfect rig.

For my Sigs, I love my Blackhawk holster, thought it's not built for a particularly small frame (which I don't have at 5' 8"). Another paddle type that carries outside the pant and belt like my Blackhawk SERPA is the Fobus 1911 Style C-21 paddle holster. Fabricated from formed plastic with bits of metal here and there, this holster is to artistic design what plastic forks are to fine dining. But it is durable, and functional. It has no external snap, strap, or latch, relying on a molded plastic impression snapping into the trigger guard for retention of the weapon. It's going to work best with a wide stiff belt which may not be the first choice for some shooters. This might work to secure a DA automatic with hammer down or on this 1911 Colt with grip and frame safeties, but I'd pass on it for the S & W M + P which is striker fired. For certain weapons, despite its sort of batman utility belt design, I think some shooters would like this. Women too, as it holds the pistol outside the pants, but under the belt. A longer pistol may be uncomfortable for a woman who had pronounced hips, but with a shorter auto it will fit nicely. It's not bulky at all, which is a nice feature.

The one that I like for this weapon is the Galco JAK slide holster. The Galco JAK carries the pistol under the belt. Very minimal but retention is good and extremely comfortable. It pulls in tight, so it's very concealable as well. I could wear it all day and not really think it's there. For all day comfort in the field, I do NOT want the Victoria's Secret push up holster, that rides, chafes and gives me a rash. Sure I might wear that holster in the privacy of my own home for someone else, but it's NOT going to be part of the daily wardrobe.

For my female readers - there are a lot of holsters for women that are designed to appeal to the designer in you, NOT the shooter. I don't need embroidery, fancy lines or froo froo, I want a holster that allows for comfort in conceal AND quick draw. I want one with good looks AND functionality and one of those is the Delfatti holster - SLP/F - designed to be worn forward of the strong side hip with a muzzle forward rake. The holster has an extended and slimmed down wing to the rear of the weapon. The rear belt loop is formed by a tongue of leather that wraps around the belt and secures to the outside of the wing. Doing it this way reduces the leather bulk at the belt attachment so as to reduce the chance of discomfort at the top of the hip. There is a second tunnel loop behind the weapon. Most women find the holster comfortable, concealable, and fast. It works best with shorter barreled pistols.

Frankly, I think it's flat out pretty, with just a little detail but not so thick that it binds, and that's the most girly statement you will EVER get out of me.(http://www.delfatti.com/)

Some of the holsters I like cost more than $100. You don't have to pay that much but don’t cut corners on a holster. A good holster makes the carry much more comfortable and with comfort comes safety. A good holster will allow you to carry a heavier gun with less discomfort and greater concealment.

Face it, I'm never going to be some tiny, little delicate thing. I'm 3/4 Scot-Irish, 1/4 Norwegian. I'm tall and curvy with a defined waist. I'm not one of those gals you have to shake the sheets out in the morning to find and I usually carry a very large caliber, even concealed, so I admire any holster that cares more about a commitment to a product that will fit our form than trendy style.
One of the better Leathersmiths, located in Pennsylvania, C. Rusty Sherrick ( http://www.c-rusty.com/) did the homework on the needs of female gun owners before introducing his line of women's goods and it's obvious that a great deal of time and care went into their making. They look nice, but more effort went into improving them to fit better and sit more comfortably on the hip then whether they're "stylish".

Designs I'm NOT fond of are are the “small of the back” and ankle holsters. The “small of the back” holster has some problems. The draw is difficult and therefore dicey. There is a danger of sweeping the muzzle of the gun in directions you don’t intend to cover. This is an easy holster to disarm. Someone can come up behind you and grab the pistol, and from where it is on your back, it's going to be hard if you aren't trained in tactical to stop them from taking it. Lastly, should you fall on your back, the small of the back holster is a steel bar across your spine that could accentuate the impact of hitting the ground. If you're small boned to begin with this is NOT a good place to be as the injury could make you an easier target. The leg holster is only really valid as a backup option and it’s not really great as a backup. The ankle holster is great concealment, but unless you are a professional or one of the Amazing Walendas the draw is so problematic that it is almost useless.

Male or female - shop around, and ask other shooters. A holster is as important a purchase as what it carries. I'm not an expert but I've learned enough to know what I like. And I'm also smart enough NOT to wear the red shirt.

I have no intention of ever ending up as Ensign Ricky. Expendible I'm not.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I THINK I'LL JUST WAIT IN THE SAFETY OF THE JEEP

On the road this morning. At least so far, my day is going better than his did. . . .

SITE: 59mls South of Churchill Manitoba
AIRCRAFT & REGN: C206 Reg: -----
CIRCUMSTANCES: Amphib a/c bounced its emerg landing on water, landed upright on tundra & was immed surrounded by polar bears.
DEATH & INJURY: not reported
PRELIMINARY ANALYSIS: Polar bearing seizure.

"Polar Bearing Seizure" - ha.

I hate to break it to a certain someone with the initial A.G., but polar bears aren't dying out in droves up there due to global warming. In this particular neck of the woods there are hundreds of them. They're like rats. But rats with big, big, big teeth. Big white furry rats that are one of the few animals that actively hunt man. Not what I'd want peeking at me through the window of my transportation.

I think that would be a good day to be like Marlin Perkins on
Wild Kingdom and just "wait in the safety of the jeep while Jim wrestles the giant Polar Bear " Yes, if you were a little kid in the mid 60's through the early 80's, you know what I'm talking about. Go here. Watch some excerpts of Jim wrestling the "giant Anaconda". A little nostalgia to start your day.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Home on the Range November Highlights

Photobucket
I'll be blogging a lot on the road in November. I'm doing a class for the Academy and then have a few short hops here and there to testify and do some follow up work on some old cases. The posts will be posting, thanks to my own little laptop.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Strong Willed

I survived another day at Academy. Imagine a class made up of predominately ex veteterans, many special forces or fighter pilots. As usual, I'm the lone female. So yes, it wasn't a happy bunch today. But we kept going. That's what we do. We "gun nuts clinging to our religion" as we were called during the election.. We take stock in what is right, gird our loins (well I adjusted mine after I sat in my chair too long) and we keep on going. We don't have hysterics and consult our psychics or have vapors like some people did with the thought that McCain might win. We'll keep going, and plan for our future.

I mentioned writing a will at 40, I have no idea where it's at, and perhaps should think about writing another one.. Hopefully I'll live another half century or so, but things happen and with my parents quite elderly and my daughter, not legally my inheritor, as I gave her up for adoption when I got pregnant at 19, I probably need to spell it all out. At least so we know who would get custody of my gun and cookbook collection as well as making my best girl friend legal custodian of Barkley. But if I'd had my way, my will would simply have been this. . .


Brigid's Living Will


I BRIGID D, being of sound mind and body, do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means. Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of pinhead politicians who couldn't pass seventh-grade biology if their life depended on it, or the hands of the doctors/lawyers who want to run up my already huge hospital bill. If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to ask for at least one of the following:


A frosty IPA
A Medium Rare Steak
A Terry Pratchett novel
My laptop for blogging
Bladerunner, or Firefly and the Remote
My 1911-A1
Reloading goodies
Fresh boxes of .223
My AR-15 with new PRS stock
A Omlette with Bacon and Cowboy Potatoes
Cheese
Dark Chocolate
or a long slow deep kiss

it should be presumed that I won't ever get better. When such determination is reached I hereby instruct my appointed person and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes and call it a day. Note: if the "Rev." Jesse Jackson shows up at my bedside, someone, please just shoot me and make it quick. At this point, it's time to call simply ask my friends to raise their glasses and toast the good times we had, preferably after an honorary range match. Don't buy flowers. Give the money to a good conservative military organization. . . . if there's any left.


Signature: ___________________________


Date: ___________________________


P.S. I hear that in the Scotland they have a Nursing Home with a Pub. The patients are happier and they have a lot more visitors

Monday, November 3, 2008

SOMETIMES YOU'RE THE WINDSHIELD, SOMETIMES YOU'RE THE BUG

I flew out today, and after 4 hours on an airplane I'm settled in safety at my hotel. No work today other than the search for a perfect steak somewhere. Most days I do have a beautiful drive to work, through open countryside, cornfields, and barns for most of the way. It was a nice change from my drive through the city where I used to live, where, with the roads I was on, the little VW was a fun little vehicle. This beautiful drive now involves the above country roads head on traffic, usually doing 50-60 mph on narrow pavement that may have had a plow sometime this month. There are also several four way stops through which some people sometimes don't. . . stop. With my county growing fast, the number of vehicles taking this route into the city is increasing.

When I first moved from living right in the city to a more rural smallish town, I was almost twice smooshed by another, much larger, car piloted by a driver inattentive or coping with some unexpected ice. We stopped before paint met, but the screaming of brakes and the image of something much bigger on the automotive food chain filling my window got my attention. Driving home one night in heavy rain and fog, I realized that not only was I only a few feet from the oncoming traffic but that I was essentially looking directly UP at their license plate as my car was about the size of a shopping cart. If they went over centerline, I was toast. Plain and simple.

I've lost a family member in a vehicular accident in a small car. It's something that shadows my mind. Sure I get 30 plus miles to the gallon, but what good is leaving a smaller carbon footprint if I have no footprint to leave. Yes, you don't need a 5 ton SUV to drive to the store in suburbia or to take one child to soccer. I DO need one out here in the country on less than stellar roads. So I did the math. With the miles I drive, including car pooling with a coworker with a large truck who lives a mile away, I'm only going to use an extra 25 gallons a month to commute and go shopping and see friends in the city once or twice a month. So before the Fall and Winter set in I bought a truck. Al Gore will have to get over it.

So what did I get? The Secret Service uses GM. They're good robust vehicles for the mission. They've got good electronics and transmissions. But that's a bit TOO big for what I need, though I do haul stuff for the Range. So my final choice - a Chevy Silverado, with the bigger engine. 5,967 cc, 6 liters, V 8 front engine with 101.6 mm bore, 92 mm stroke, 9.4 compression ratio, overhead valve and two valves per cylinder LQ4 for those of you that think that way. Four wheel drive. Four door extended cab. Truck liner. 2800 pound payload (I can haul some GEAR in this thing) It's a 2007, with only 22,000 miles. I got a good price. (well good is relative in quality large vehicles. It was more than my old car and less than purchasing say, Vermont.) And it's black with tinted windows in the back.


For those covert missions to Fresh Market.