Monday, July 30, 2012

Have Dog Bed Will Travel

Barkley, the one on the floor is for you.  The futon is for guests there isn't a bedroom for.

I know not of this "dog bed" of which you speak.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kitchen MacGyver

Egg whites are good for a lot of things -
lemon meringue pie, angel food cake, and clogging up radiators.
- MacGyver

I will only concur on the pie and Angel Food Cake.   I'm sure you've all had angel food cake from the grocery.  Most of it tastes like Styrofoam.  Making one from scratch isn't the easiest thing to make, but  if you wear your special MacGyver pants for cooking,  it helps, as do detailed instructions. 

That being said, some baked items can take a little practice.  Should your spouse or friend be kind enough to attempt this recipe, remember, like with handymen, there are certain things one should NOT say while your loved ones attempts such things. 

Phrases to avoid saying to either a handyman OR chef.

Is this all you've done all day?
What exactly IS that?
Isn't the top supposed to be level?
How much did you spend on THIS?
I'll get the broom and the dustbin.
Am I holding it the right way?
What's that little thing sticking out of the top.
Maybe we should check our homeowners policy before we try it

And the worst?

Insert an ex's name here 's never looked like that!

Even a lopsided angel food cake is good (but remember the part about not greasing the pan so the batter can climb up the sides and cook evenly).  If it's not perfect (or even if it is) it makes a dandy dessert for special guests.

Top some cubes of this cake fresh from the oven with ripe strawberries, a little vanilla bean ice cream and a drizzle of honey and serve in a Champagne glasses.  Your guests won't care about how long it took, the mess you made of the counter or whether there is flour all over the seat of your MacGyver britches.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

DIY Dinnertime

On the basics -

"The gunsmith should, and probably will, be quite content to master the task of screwing in a brass front sight on a shotgun without having the sight look as if it had been mashed between two moving gears."
- Professional Gunsmithing by Robert J. Howe (1946)

On the Shotgun -

"During the course of a year there is probably no other type of weapon that will cross the gunsmith's counter in such quantity and variety as the shotgun - from the engraved expensive British and German double barrel custom made jobs to the single shot eight dollar price of a boy.  And like a mother chick with her brood, the gunsmith must learn to know and love them all, for woe betide the gun craftsman who publicly refers to some customers pet scatter gun as being inferior to another type."
 - Profesional Gunsmithing by Robert J. Hower (1946)

There's all sorts of ways to do things, but sometimes just the basics can be as good as all the new found gadgets.  The books these quotes are from is an excellent one for a basic understanding of Gunsmithing.  The skills are timeless, only the technology and tools have changed (if you don't have the skills all the technology in the world is useless).  It also has some info on how to use old Atlas Lathes and Mills.

You have to understanding the basics.  Such it is with gunsmithing, such it is with another craft - foodsmithing.

With a kitchen full of expensive gadgets, mixes and packaged food, most people can put dinner on the table. But truly understanding how basic foods are cooked and why flavors turn out as they do is the difference between an "OK" cook and a "why is there a line on my porch?" cook.

What do we have to work with? There's  a few hamburger buns left from the cookout, a few canned goods.  A cheap chunk of roast beast was picked up, one that will be best prepared by slow cooking as  that will soften the connective tissue without toughening the muscle.  Still, it will need something to bring out the flavor.

It's DIY dinner time.

First you need to sear the meat the get the flavors that come only from the Maillard Reaction.

 No, not Mallard! It's MAILLARD.

It's a form of nonenzymatic browning resulting from a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, normally with heat (and named after a French chemist who described it, not in the context of a French Dip but in attempt to reproduce biological protein synthesis). The reactive carbonyl group of the sugar reacts with the nucleophilic amino group of the amino acid, and forms a complex mixture of poorly characterized molecules responsible for a range of odors and flavors.
In the reaction, hundreds of different flavor compounds are created, that in turn break down, forming yet more new flavor compounds. The browning reactions that occur when meat is roasted or seared are complicated, but most  occur by Maillard browning with contributions from other chemical reactions, including the breakdown of the tetrapyrrole rings of the muscle protein myoblogin (you've all just been waiting for this, haven't you?)

This enhances the flavor of any food that contains proteins and sugars and there are some food whose flavor profiles owe a LOT to Dr. Maillard.  Grilled roasted meats, crusty bread, dark beer, roasted coffee, chocolate, toast, cookies. Any food that you are cooking at temps above 250 F are going to have some Maillard components giving it color/texture/aroma.  If you know that, and can take full advantage of it, your dinner guests will thank you, even if you experiment on them, like I do. 

So don't forget to sear.  It's a scientific chain reaction of "MMMMMM". 

Range Beef Dip

Into a crockpot went:

2 1/4 cups beef broth (with added water to bring total liquid up to 2 and 1/3 cups
1 cup Merlot
1 can cranberry sauce
1 package Knorr French Onion Soup Mix *
1 heaping teaspoon crushed garlic
a couple of grinds of fresh  tellecherry black pepper
3 1/2 to 4 pound rump roast

*homemade soup mix  (no MSG)=  3/4 cup dried onion, 1/3 cup Penzey's beef soup base or bouillon powder, 1/4 tsp celery seed, 1 tsp parsley flakes, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/4  tsp pepper.  Store in air tight container and use 4 Tablespoons for most recipes that call for a package of soup mix. 

First, lightly and quickly sear roast in a smoking hot pan covered with a thick sheen of oil.  It's done properly when there is a light brown crust on each side and the smell is pleasant, not acrid.  Don't overdo!

Place roast fat side up in crock pot and cover with the remaining, ingredients which you  have blended in a bowl. Cover and set to lowest setting. Seven to eight  hours later, the meat will be falling apart tender and the au jus will be  fragrant and  incredibly good,.  The cranberry adds a delicious undertone, not a fruity taste.  I'd have preferred some crusty Ciabatta rolls to stand up to dipping the sandwich, but messy will work with a knife and fork.

Try it.  It may not be as great as your Mom's recipe, but, like a basic shotgun, it's still pretty darn good.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Nations at War - On Freedom

Noted anti-U.S. literary Margaret Drabble was upset because some American warplanes have "grinning cartoon faces painted on their noses ... with big sharp teeth". This is the British author that said "I loathe America and what it has done to the rest of the world." My Dad left his widowed Mother and Fiance and spent four years in Norwich, England protecting Ms. Drabbles home country. along with so many brave people of her nation, all who put their lives on the line for that great fight. There he watched, more than once, friends and crew mates die horribly in front of his eyes, with said airplanes,  trying to land  fatally wounded Liberators after a day of protecting her country from further attack,  I think he would probably disagree.

I think instead, that of the words of the ever ungrateful  Ms. Drabble, we best remember the words of John Stuart Mill "War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

Being Free.

Every soul yearns to be free and each day we are free to choose the life we live. Freedom is about having a choice. It is not not taxed, not levied, nor given to us at the end of a very sharp pointed stick, while our own sharp pointy sticks are taken away from us.

please click to enlarge the photo

So here we are, a nation often at war, with others, with ourselves, for many things, but always for freedom. For that of our people, for that of other nations. Concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl said, "There are two ways to go to the gas chamber: free or not free." The only way to win our freedom back is to face our situation honestly and—no matter how terrible things may be—continue to act on the heart's calm guidance.

I've learned a lot about what's important volunteering at a shelter for battered women.  The reason that I volunteer there is one that is personal, but it is important to me.  These women and their children have seen the absolute worst of what life has to offer. Yet they still have hope, in themselves and their capabilities, in their future. There are some that will cling in  bitterness to what has robbed them, as people tend to do, but, with help, many go forth stronger from the whole wretched experience.  The children, especially, seem to see through it all, and still retain a few elements of their childhood where they know what's really of value.

In the weeks after the Twin Towers fell and the Pentagon was hit I was on duty pretty much 24 and 7.  It was some time before I could .go to the shelter. One little boy there was watching the continually replaying collapse of towers on TV. I looked at it, as stunned and horrified as I was when I first saw it, and said.. . "isn't that awful". . And he replied "yup". All those people gone. "What do you think we should do?", I said. It wasn't a rhetorical question. I was hoping perhaps for some childlike perspective, looking through new eyes at something in which I'd already spent my own powers of comprehension. And he said, "I not gonna be afraid again."  I don't think he was talking about 9-11 but I totally understood.  I didn't want to be afraid again either.

Our country has been hit, the values of everything so many of us have given years of our life for, disparaged. Our Constitution is treated as outdated, needed to be "modernized", as liberal politicians and  rich dowagers spit on the very flag that have kept their countries free. But I won't give up on her. I've seen fire and rain and sill remember a time, not all that long ago, when I was so devastated by the sudden loss of something that I was hardly able to get out of bed in the morning. But I kept breathing, and kept praying, and I knew I would not be vanquished.

That is what our forefathers held fast to, that's what our soldiers fight for for, cling to.  Freedom.  Not guns, not religion in the defined sense of a particular church, not bitterness, but a faith in the God of our Fathers and a love of our country and every principal on which she was founded. We may not agree with every conflict we have engaged in, nor every decision made by our country, our love for her is honest but it is not blind. But we still we hold her flag up high, in iron and unwavering symbolism for that which she has always stood for.

The ground outside is wet from our first  sprinkle of rain in over a month, the gentle rain clouds gone, the sky breaking out in light blue patches. Outside all is quiet, the sunlight laying like scraps of cloth over the town.  In the distance, there is the siren that blares each day at 11 a.m., unless the weather is forecast severe, the siren that tests the warning system for tornados.  Upon the still air it sounds, then another cry in the next little town  over, the next, all taking up the alarm, as if signaling one another.  In the clearing sky, it's hard to think of the dangers that are outside us, but we are always ready.  We have to be ready.

So for tonight, I just ask that you put politics aside, and cherish those gifts, those sacrifices,  made for each one of us to keep us free, rather than take them for granted. We need to remember so that we can make the right choices for our coming days,  for the sake of our past, and the possibilities of the future.

Serving Abroad. . Through Their Eyes

We've had some fun this week on the blogosphere playing "who has been where" but despite my many adventures, I've not had half the sacrifice and courage of many of you, who serve or have served, directly in harm's way, protecting freedom.

These three photographs were taken by a Navy Corpsman serving, at the time, in Afghanistan.  They were chosen from among thousands of submissions to be part of Serving Abroad . . Through Their Eyes. This is a multivalent project, undertaken by the office of Art in Embassies (AIE) of the Department of State, in collaboration with the Department of Defense, in honor of AIE’s 50th anniversary.

His work is to be included in a still image photography exhibition that will be hosted by the Pentagon and other venues in the future.

It will also be included in a video-art collage by artist Lincoln Schatz, which will be created for the permanent collection in the new U.S. embassy in Kabul, Their Eyes will be featured on AIE’s website.

I am honored to get to post them to share with you first, as I am honored to know his family and they knew this would please him.

To Cody -  you have an incredible talent, an admirable commitment to service and a really, really cool Grandma (Brighid's Place). 

We are all very proud of you.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Old NFO Started It

I removed the state counter as it seems to have more states than we do, but the link should work.
Create your own visited map of The World or Like this? try: Sea Level Rise

As for Russia, all I can say is "horse (with cream) it's what's for supper!" and if you say "I kill Moose and Squirrel" in a thick accent, people just look at you funny. I think I missed checking the box for Iceland, always a popular spot for pilots heading over the pond  both for the beautiful landscape and incredibly beautiful women (though I was partial to the deep spa tub and a bottle of Skjálfti myself)

Africa, don't ask.  Bullet holes do NOT buff out.

Peru - you've not seen bad airport food until you've seen deep fried Guinea Pig (complete with head and little hands).

I really would like to get to New Zealand and see if I could rent a float plane, with or without local instructor, with my US license, and kiss the deep, blue waters there.  Someday.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mom - Some Friends Are Here To Take Me Hunting. . Can I Go?

OK, but remember the rules Barkley -

Be Sure of Your Target and What is Behind It.

Always Keep Your Paws Off The Trigger Until Ready to Shoot.

Treat Your Gun as If It's ALWAYS Loaded.

Be Home by Midnight.

No Poodles.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Too Hot to Cook? Never! - Sriracha Barbecue Pizza

Barkley loves to go for a walk or simply lay out in the yard on his little tether line when I get off work and will stay out with him.  Lately it's been less than enticing to either of us and he sat out for about 20 seconds before wanting to come in. I wasn't far behind him, making sure he didn't get too hot.
There's a tiny spot of grass behind the porch area that is still green where what little rain we've got this summer has run off the garage but the rest of it is pretty sorry. The rain has gone north and south of us for the last five or six weeks and temps have been in the 90's and 100's.  There's a total ban on watering anything in most counties. My lush green yard now looks like Donald King's hair.and the local corn (this photo taken a couple of blocks from home) looks to be a total loss (frankly, this was the best looking of all the corn I'd seen.)

In an effort to keep the homestead cool, I'm not cooking with the oven when it gets over 100.  When I've been home, which hasn't been much lately, I've done some stir fries and smoothies, salads and grilled stuff, but the other night I was having a serious hankering for pizza.  Why not.  I'll start with a sauce that's got an undertone of barbecue to it and a hefty zing of Thai Chili Sauce. 

Sriracha Pizza Sauce

2  Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
2 Tablespoons finely chopped sweet onion
3 fresh basil leaves chopped
2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Sciracha sauce
1/2  teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 small can diced tomatoes
3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon wild honey
2 Tablespoons of your favorite barbecue sauce
a pinch of Oregano or Penzey's Tuscan Sunset Italian blend
1 Tablespoon heavy cream

Heat oil and saute garlic and onion until soft, adding in a small pat of butter if it starts to dry out.  Add in everything but the cream and simmer about 30-40 minutes, crushing the tomatoes with your spoon  as it cooks(you can also use tomato puree if you want a smoother sauce).

Remove from heat, add cream, stirring thoroughly.  Spread on your favorite homemade Pizza Dough  and top with Canadian bacon, finely diced pineapple bits, mozzarella and smoked cheddar. (depending on the size of your crust you can half or double the batch, it does freeze well).

But I don't want to cook it in the oven. The crock pot wouldn't work, and the blender is definitely a bad idea.  How about pizza on the barbecue?

Yes. It's easier than you think. The method I used mimicked the heat of an oven. It's preferable to cook it on a small thin pan to evenly distribute the heat. I used a little disposable one left I use to take cookies into work.. There are recipes  out there for grilling the dough, flipping to grill it the other side and adding topping then, but my goal was simply to cook it with a minimum of fuss and oven like results. But without heating up my house so sleeping would be cool and enjoyable later.

Start by rolling out your dough about 1/4 inch thick and try to keep it pretty even. (there's pizza dough recipes in the sidebar) You don't need to go find the calipers for this one, but it shouldn't be too thick. You also don't want the toppings too thick so they cook through and evenly

I have a charcoal Style BBQ that's about 28 inches x 28 inches. This will take a fair number of briquettes, I probably used about 60. After they are lit and covered with ash (about 10-20 minutes) you need to arrange them around the edges of where the pizza will be, so they surround the cooking area, but don't actually rest a big pile directly under it.

Place the grill part of the barbecue back in place and close the lid , making sure the little vents are open to ensure the most efficient heating. Your goal is a barbecue temperature of about 425 - 450 degrees before putting the pizza on the grill. This mimics the effect of an oven and the edges of the crust will rise up, staying crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle while the center of the dough, rolled thin, stays tender to the bite. (If you want the thin, crisp style of pizza, forget the little pan and cook directly on a rack but that's a whole different set of instructions).

Use a little cooking thermometer on the center of the grill if you have one. When it's good and hot, place the pizza on the small pan in the center of the barbecue and CLOSE THE LID. For mine, it cooked for about 16 minutes. Do NOT peek until you are at about 13 minutes. Remove, let cool a few minutes than serve out on the deck with a frosty beer that's the color of your grass.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Message From Barkley

Dear Sir:

We have not met but I understand you are "top dog" and are supposed to be working hard keeping all the other dogs around here safe with lots of biscuits if we work hard and are good boys. 

But all you seem to do now is pee all over your rivals shrubs while you leave piles of poop everywhere you go.

I realize you may not be top dog a whole lot longer, but while you are, will you please just act like one.

Thank you.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

On Limitations

Trust in God But Keep Your Powder Dry

Ammo and reloading stores.  Many of you have them. I was given a couple extra dies for 8 mm Mauser from a retiring friend recently. I already had some, so I called Tam to see if she wanted them.

The conversation went something like this (after the obligatory girl talk which involved Barkley, Mongolian hordes and why does the highlighting shampoo say "avoids brassy tones" like brassy is a bad thing?")

Me: "Before I forget, do you need a couple 8 mm Mauser dies?"

Tam - "I may have some, already, let me check. ." 

There's a pause and I hear her rustling around.  She then  starts listing off about two dozen different dies and I suddenly realized that comparing my reloading gear to hers was like comparing the closets of a nudist and Kim Kardashian.  But you have to start somewhere, and knowing how to store your product is as important as having the right tools and equipment to make it.

Modern ammunition is some pretty hardy stuff and it's going to take an extended period of humidity, or extreme heat and cold, before you would notice any noticeable performance change. I'm sure many of us have encountered folks at the ranges, shooting surplus ammo that's easily 50 years old and this is stuff that's been sitting in shipping containers in less than ideal climates for years .

And it shoots.

For the most part, people I knew who shoot a lot for practice and recreation, tend to use up their ammo before degradation is even a thought. But more and more, people are stocking up on ammo. The economy is a factor there, the cost of all metals continues to go up.. Politics plays into it. Remember after the last election, you couldn't even FIND primers. So for a multiple of reasons, more people are stocking up and more people are reloading their own, storing it for a rainy day or the zombie uprising. :-)

Ammo, stored reasonably well, will last a long time though.  I've posted some basic storage tips before but I've learned a few new things on my own and from others and hope it will help the beginner.  Powders and primers are, however, another story (and another post). The old corrosive primers were immune to about anything.

Not so much the new ones.

What should be of concern for you in regards to long term storage, outside of "how much is legal to store" and "where do I store", is the corrosion of the shell casings. years ago, I picked up a jet that had been in storage in the desert and brought it back to the powers that be one time to put it back into service. It met the inspection for the ferry but let's just say some problems developed on the flight home (I love my peanut gyro). Corrosion. You think in the desert it would have been fine. But what about all the hot days, followed by cold nights, hot days, cold nights. Corrosion folks.

In ammunition, corrosion is caused by too much moisture reacting with the primer or the brass casing. Either can make the round dangerous to fire. Your enemy here? Humidity. On the plus side, there are many, easy ways to store your ammo without excess effort or cost.

Proper storage will make up for a lot of variances in the elements. I think my ammo cans make a nice decorate statement What Og referred to after a dinner for friends in the midst of closing the sale of my house and moving - "Martha Stewart meets the insurrection". But many people prefer storage in paper (i.e. the boxes it came in). In your house, and mine which should have a reasonably controlled humidity level, storage in cardboard boxes should work fine for a year or two. Any more than that and you should invest in some good storage containers and some desiccant (in a pinch, some silica gel cat litter in a knitted up ladies nylon stocking  will work. 

Why the danger from humidity? Humidity equals condensation which can cause surface damage to the metals due to condensation. Let's say you store your ammo in a shop that's climate controlled (i.e. coolish) or it's been an unusually cool night. You open the door to haul some things in and out and in comes all that hot and humid air. You could get some condensation on cold surfaces. If your stuff is stored in cardboard. that should inhibit the humid air and that may be good enough. But if you suspect abrupt changes in humidity in your storage area, take a look at the bullet tops or other spots touching the cardboard, for paper does tend to pick up moisture.

With the right ammo can and proper packing, your ammo (and many supplies) will survive VERY long term storage.  During Desert storm, the soldiers were issued 5.56 ammunition that was manufactured at Lake City (LC 67) (manufactured when I was in grade school) that performed well in the field and showed no signs of degradation.

The life expectancy of reloads can be extended significantly with a light coating of nail polish around the primer and the case crimp.  I rarely wear nail polish, the last time I did, I came out, showed it off and was greeted with the words "mmmm you smell like a model kit!".  But it it is quite handy for  ammo that's going to be used in a wet environment to protect against inclement weather. (and a "seal a meal" defense pouch of ammo for a quick hunting or fishing trip where it's wet is nice to throw in a backpack).As for the polish?  Most folks use clear, but red for the zombie rounds is a nice touch..

Sealed storage is your best bet against "wet". GI ammo cans are great for this so long as you check the rubber seals. Even some old ones like this one that came part of a purchase of some old British .308 ammo were found to be still good for storage.

But how can you tell if type seal is still good? Heat something like a large stone in hot water (in this case a rock about the size of a man's fist that I found in a field excavation). Wrap it in paper towels, place in a Ziploc bag and seal in your ammo can. Let it cool. As the stone cools a good vacuum should be formed. If, when you open the can there isn't a noticeable vacuum (should take a really healthy tug and a "pop!") that's not the can to store your ammo.

If you're not comfortable storing ammo in metal cans  you can seal up your ammo in zip lock bags with desiccant and place them in some plastic storage containers from big box mart.  Why the comfort level comment? There's quite a bit of debate on the net as to whether an ammo can makes a nifty bomb in a house fire. I don't think most storage cans are going to get the kind of seal it would take to make a  "bomb".

"BOOM!" - likely no

"POP, POP, POP, (#)@ !" - yes.

Smokeless powder doesn't really "blow up" like one would think, it just burns really fast.  It's not like dynamite. C-4 also just burns unless you get some shock force as well, or so I'm told.  Those bunkers you see in documentaries are made for storing anything from 9 x 19 mm up to 2000 lb JDAM bombs, so all those blast deflectors and giant steel doors are NOT something you need if you're going to have a few ammo cans in your shop. Frankly,  if your house catches fire you're going to be more worried about replacing your ammo then it leaving a crater where your shop used to be.

Unless you have 10's of thousands of rounds (and here is where I put my LEO hat on and tell you to check on what's legal to store in your state) the extra fire risk from a few cans isn't all that high.  Most cans will contain a cookoff, or even several.  Don't store them in a room that looks like a  TV episode from "Hoarders" and have fire extinguishers in your kitchen and shop, but don't lose sleep over it.

But like computers and firearms, everyone will have their own  opinion.

Once you have some good cans with a tight seal, you want to pack the items therein with the lowest humidity possible. If the ammo is stored in the can loose, there's not much to trap humidity, just air. If you are storing in cardboard inside of the can, there are ways to "dehumidify" the materials before placing in the can. (Cardboard will hold in a surprising amount of moisture without actually looking "wet").

One trick is stack your ammo in the can leaving a golf ball size space in a corner. place a piece of cardboard there, and lay a golf ball size chunk of Dry Ice on the cardboard. Push the cover on but don't lock it, set the can aside, out of any breeze or air current, and where no one will jostle it. come back two hours later and seal the can. The CO2 being heavier than air, will displace it.

But for those of you fortunate enough to have a nice gun safe with a built in dehumidifier, place everything, packing materials, boxes, ammo all open, in the sealed safe with the dehumidifier. Let it sit there several days. Go shoot some old Clinton era small pistol primed .40 that you just now polished off.

Remove the supplies, those few days in there should have removed much of the humidity inside the packing materials, ensuring you are starting the storage process from a low humidity base.Place your ammo in the can with a few desiccant packets (I use the 1 ounce ones) and seal it up. If you have some humidity sensor cards to throw in there as well, even better.

Set it and Forget it? Not exactly. You want to check on your ammo. Ignore your girlfriend and she will eventually find someone else of better caliber. Let your ammo sit unchecked as to conditions and you may find yourself standing cold and lonely on the range with a misfire.

You want to check on it every 1 to 2 years (the ammo, not your girlfriend) and preferably when the humidity is at its lowest of the year. (i.e. winter). this will reduce the amount of humidity introduced to your can. Checking any sensor takes just seconds (look for less than 30% humidity). Replace the sensor and the desiccant. It's probably just a couple of dollars per can for those items, well worth it when you think what the ammo would cost if we got another 10 years of Democrats.

Finally - rotate your ammo.

It is important to note: do not store you ammunition longer than necessary. Mark your storage containers with the date you acquired it (not stored it) and type type of ammo. Using the old ammo first keeps your stock fresh Also mark it with something more than caliber. There IS a lot of difference in performance between different ammo's of the same caliber and most of us have ammo we use for "plinking" as opposed to self defense or a match.

Simple, inexpensive steps that will help keep your ammo in good shape come hell or high water.

Friday, July 13, 2012

.22 Quotes from the Road

1. "You can't have too many primers". - Brigid.
2. "If your attack is going really well, you've walked into an ambush". -- Hannibal

3. The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in time of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality  - unknown

4. "Remember children - Once you pull the pin, Mr. Grenade is no longer your friend." -B. Merkley

5. "Those who cherish freedom do not need to flame those who don't; We can though, through our questions and logic, help them to self-immolate". -Chris Bolton

6. "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf". George Orwell

7. To quote George Patton, "Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of mankind."

8. "It's not so much the Apocalypse, it's the humidity" --- MST3K

9. "An armed society is a polite society." Heinlein, from ""Beyond this Horizon""

10. "Where there's life, there's threat". - Blake's Seven

11."Get off a shot FAST, this upsets him long enough to let you make your second shot perfect." - Robert A Heinlein.

12."We are half asleep waiting on the doorstep of the 21st century Take a look at the ones who lead this nation They are the champions of mediocrity." - Rumors of the Big Wave

13. Save the whales, collect the whole set.

14."Curious, but in no way indecipherable." -- The Fearless Vampire Killers

15. "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue." - (readers attributed this unknown one to Barry Goldwater - thanks!)

16. "No one escapes when freedom fails. The best men rot in filthy jails, and those who cried, 'Appease, appease!' are hanged by those they tried to please." - unknown

17. What happens if a big asteroid hits the Earth? Judging from realistic simulations involving a sledge hammer and a common laboratory frog, I can assume it will be pretty bad. 

18."If you fortify your rear the enemy will attack you from the front". - unknown

19. "If the enemy is in range, so are you." - unknown

20. "Push to test."
"Release to detonate."

21. "There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX. We don't believe this to be a coincidence." - Jeremy S. Anderson

22. "I'm here to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and I'm all out of bubblegum." -  They Live

Thursday, July 12, 2012

One Hundred Men

Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn't even be there,
 eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, 
and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. 
 Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.
  - attributed to Heraclitus, unverified

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Live at Five - a real note from B.

Just a quick note from a secure, quiet  place to check my email and blog from.  I know many people don't stop in when I'm gone, but for those that do, all is well.

I'm someplace quite hot out with fellow geeks (gee, that rules out 2 states). It's nice, but with the occassional lizard.  I'm learning new things (Abby will have nothing on me) and practicing old things (if you have a linolium floor and liquid nitrogen you CAN make little hovercraft out of chalk).

On check in, I had a room full of trespassers (ants ants ants ants!) which required a change to a new room, empty in an otherwise packed hotel probably due to the fact that the room was already occupied by Beelzebug, a mosquito that would NOT be cast out. I'm not quite sure what ammo to use on a Mosquito. Birdshot perhaps, but you'd need wide open choke to get the most spread at short distances.

 Fortunately Beelzebug appeared to be male as although he likely stared at my backside as I slept  he did NOT bite and I got a good nights sleep after a long journey.

I did get one night free to go play tourist, shedding off my professional demeanor and just hitting the road. Driving in a new city is always an adventure.  As you get towards the southwest part of the country there are LOTS of retirees driving around and I found out three things as I drove with the windows down singing "Blue Hairs Driving in my Lane" to the tune of Willie Nelson's "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" to any trucker or roadrunner that passed by.

(1)  If someone has their turn signal on it's a likely a factory defect.

(2)  Little old ladies in pristine caddy's always have the right of way.

(3)  If you get to a certain neighborhood on the south side by accident, all that wrought iron is NOT ornamental.

I had a nice supper of local cousine (hot hot hot hot!) and came back to read lots of  technical documents in prep for day #3. Outside, the sun is setting across a land that's timeless, and inside is a beverage whose time is numbered.  Midwest Chick just emailed me dinner beef porn and my best friend is a phone call away. Long days but  good days.

Barkley is having a wonderful time with friends and will be looking forward to a conjugal visit with his plush dog  bed at home on my return (I swear, I had him fixed, I do NOT know why he does that!)  I know he's having a blast, especially with his favorite dog friends and a little pool to play in, but I miss him.

To all of you who make the effort to visit even when I'm away.  Thanks, it's nice to know you're out there.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

All I Have to Say

There's a lot on the news and the blogosphere these last few months on firearms and violent deaths. First, the tragic shooting of students in a gun free zone.  More news certainly, about a young man with drugs in his system shot by a neighborhood watch member he'd assaulted for reasons that will come out in court.  I won't comment on either, as it's not appropriate for me to do for many reasons. But I do wish to say something.

Any violent death is a tragedy. Those deaths, the young mother in my former home town who was beaten to death with a claw hammer in a quiet subsivision..  The woman asleep in her apartment in central Indianapolis who was raped and strangled.  The young man who, with the words "prepare to die", purposely turned his car the wrong direction into oncoming traffic, killing all but one of his classmates. The woman who drowned her kids so she could keep the attention of a man that didn't want kids.  The beautiful 21 year old from PA, found dead from a savage knife wound. The woman and her two kids out east who just a few months ago had their throats cut with a blade and their homes burned by an estranged husband when the wife refused a reconciliation out of fear.

All the while, the anti concealed carry community cries "keep the guns out of the hands of our citizens!".

I for one am not going to judge what happened or may have happened in these latest tragedies, simply because they might have  involved a firearm.

I will do what I was taught, avoid confrontation, keep away from evil when possible, and only when presented with a clear and present danger, defend myself as I was taught, with the tools I have,  without hesitation, but never without thought.

For it makes no difference if they have a firearm or just their hands.  Those intent on evil, will prevail, if you do not defend.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Weekend Fixin's - Trying something new

This is a take on a popular Amish dish. The recipe is a classic, upgraded with the wonder of some really unique oils and spices from Artesano's in Indianapolis (they ship anywhere). Everyone is happy when I come home with new products of theirs to try, (One recipe made, not pictured, sweet potatoes cut into chunks, roasted with a drizzle of  their walnut oil and then mashed with a drizzle of their cinnamon pear balsamic, white pepper and  butter).

I've a bunch of travel coming up (I'm not sure I'll be where I can post  or comment with any regularity, but I have saved posts in case).  But for tonight, a recipe from  a recent supper with friends, a home style menu of comfort food at its finest as we gathered round the table in fellowship, with thanks and a prayer for safe travels..

The chicken is coated in seasoned flour and slightly pan fried in walnut oil and butter until just the skin is cooked, golden and crispy, then covered with cream and paprika and cooked covered on low until it's fall off the bone tender and unbelieveably juicy.  Simple,  Uncomplicated. Amazing.  Much like the best kind of friendships.

click to enlarge photo

Chicken Baked in Cream
8-9 pieces of chicken  (I used thighs and some meaty drumsticks)
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon Artisano's Himalaya Salt (the salt is pink in color, loaded with nutrients and really adds a great flavor to food, but regular salt will do).
3/4 teaspoon Pensey's ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 and 3/4 teaspoon Artisano's Poultry Seasoning (or your favorite).
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons Walnut Oil (also from Artisano's)

2 cups heavy cream
sweet, hot  or smoked paprika  (I used the sweet for tonight's supper)

Preheat oven to 300 F.  In large paper bag, mix flour and spices.  Melt the butter and Walnut oil in a well seasoned cast iron skillet on just a bit above medium but not quite medium high.  Moisten chicken with water  and shake in bag to coat. Saute the well floured chicken on both sides until the skin is starting to turn golden brown (the chicken will cook through in the oven, not in the pan and the meat will be still be quite pink at this point). Aim for about  7-9 minutes total. If need be, add a tiny bit more butter and oil as the last few pieces cook, lifting out any burned bits with a spatula to a paper towel. (The kitchen lighting is NOT good for photos but you get the idea of what it looks like when done).

Placed browned chicken on paper towels to absorb any excess oil, then place in a 13 x 9 inch pan when all the chicken is done. Cover chicken pieces with cream (if you don't have access to farm fresh cream, use heavy whipping cream, unwhipped).  Sprinkle with additional paprika.  Cover tightly with foil and bake two hours (no peaking!), while you prepare your side dishes.

I served it with steamed baby potatoes (drizzled with a dash of  chopped roasted garlic and some of the cream sauce), garden green beans cooked with  bacon and French herbs and homemade buttermilk biscuits.

I think my friends will still be around when I return, if only to see what I make for dessert.  Be safe everyone, in your lives and in  your travels.