Thursday, July 07, 2005


I've been hearing about "Bandwidth" for ... eons. Since computer chips were made out of dirt, because Man hadn't yet discovered Sand.

I use to get a lot of crap (another possible base material for computer chips? I have heard that Apple was going to start using Intel ... naw ... never mind) from The Unofficial IPSC List, complaining that I was using precious "bandwidth" with my Geek-Length Posts. Bandwidth, on a mailing list? Perhaps I'm not the only one unclear on the concept. Funny thing, after I started writing a Blog, I received a couple of posts from IPSC-list members suggesting that I should write the comments directly to The List rather than to write it on my Blog and provide links to The List.

Can't please everyone. I'm liking the private blog, even if nobody reads it. Well, not "nobody", exactly. I just topped the 8,000 hits milepost in the seven months since I started my hit-counter. (I've been blogging for a bit over 8 months now, but it took me a while to get the statscounter going.)

Anyway, one of the things I've discovered is that a blog is useful for a lot of things besides writing my opinions for people to read or ignore. One thing I can do here is present the results of a LOT of research. Some of my posts are the results of 5 or 6 hours research, finding different references and choosing those which are worthy of being linked.

The trouble is, it takes FOREVER for my AOL-based (56 Baud modem) to return the results of a search, and then I have to look at all of those hits to find a website containing quotable content. This takes time, and I'm getting tired of playing Hearts and MineSweeper while I'm waiting for the websites to load. Besides which, modem-accessed AOL has this cute little trick of dropping the landline right in the middle of something interesting.

I know, I've mentioned this more than once. I've been looking at Comcast, but you have to subscribe to Cable TV FIRST, and then you have to buy the broadband connection on top of that. I haven't had Cable TV for 8 or 9 years, because it's a time-waster and I can't sit still through an entire movie ... let alone the insipid dreck that passes for Network TV. (Not everybody loves whatshisname; I cut off Cable TV when Grace Under Fire was dropped by the networks.)

I also looked at telephone-based broadband. Specifically, I looked at QWEST, which is my landline provider. It just happens that I detest talking on the telephone, as my family and my Sweetie will attest, so I have an ingrained disinclination to throw more money their way. Actually, the only reason I continue with my QWEST subscription is that I can access the internet via the modem, via AOL, which is an entirely different grumpy monologue.

I'm now looking at WiFi, which (I'm told) stands for Wireless Fidelity. There's a local WiFi provider called Alyrica which has been advertising on the radio lately, and I wrote them to ask what's the deal-io. They claim they can sell me the receiver for $345, and charge me access fees of $45 a month.

I'm already paying about $30 a month for AOL, and $50 a month for QWEST even though I never call on that line except for the AOL thingie. So I've got $80 a month to get on the Internet anyway. I can cut my monthly 'connection' bills nearly in half, and pay for the receiver in about a year. I have a Verizon cell-phone that I already use for all of my personal calls, so this is looking pretty good.

I emailed Alyrica yesterday, and they replied with the above numbers today. They're going to come out to my house and check the signal strength, but they already have a customer on my street and I'm in a two-story townhouse so chances are good they can put up a receiver on top of the house and give me reliable reception.

The installation ... including making sure that all of the connections between the receiver and my desktop work ... is free. I'm liking that.

Here's the good part, which makes it worthwhile for me to move to WiFi.

Fast data access.

I may forget how to win bit at Hearts, how to find all those stinky Mines in Minesweeper, because I have more interesting things to do with my time of an evening.

Better yet, they have webhosting for another $10 a month, which includes 1GB of data hosting. That means I will have a place to put my more interesting MPG files, which are usually stages at IPSC matches to share. I've been looking for THAT since I bought my digital camera as my birthday present to me in February.

If this all works out, my email addresses may change in the months to come. I can get rid of the QWEST landline (no loss!), and my AOL connection & email addresses on an unreliable, slow landline (net gain!), and do the computer things I really want to do at a lower cost to me by this time next year.

And I'll still be here next year, posting interesting RKBA and IPSC-related topics as well as this kind of really boring personal crap. But then I'll be able to offer digital MPG files of movies taken at IPSC matches, which includes Candid Camera moments that are worth the price of the ticket all by themselves.

Yeah, Baby, Yeah!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Set Phasers at STUN

US aims Star Trek ray guns at nuclear sites -

Yup. They're really gonna do it.

The GuvMint plans to build handheld 'energy weapons', and issue them to American troops.

Don't let 'em fool you. If they can make ray guns for special purposes ("Nuclear Sites") they can make them any purpose they decide is worth the development and production costs.

Is this A "NON-LETHAL" weapon? I don't know, they're not giving out too many details yet. My best guess is that it is designed to cause pain, but the descriptions available don't tell you if they actually do damage to skin, nerve endings, whatever. But I suspect that an energy projector (for lack of better terminology) that causes stimulation of nerve endings 1/16" below the surface of the skin will cause permanent blindness if directed toward your eyes.

I'm telling you, if this is a prototypical phaser, you WILL see it in riot control situations within twelve months after its distribution to "nuclear sites".

What I want to know (getting back to my IPSC roots) is ... what is the Power Factor for a Phaser?


[Hat Tip to Dale W., of the Unofficial IPSC List]

Sergeant York, 21st Century Version.

Okay, he's not a Sergeant ... he's a Captain. And he's not Army, he's a Marine.

But Sergeant York would be proud of him.

Last year, he busted up an ambush that "Iraqi Insurgents" laid on an American column, and fought a battle "in the best traditions of the Service".

The Main Stream Media (MSM) gave him, and others like him who were involved in the same battle, little or no credit. But the Internet has HUNDREDS of entries recounting the action of this man.

Glorious? No, not really. There's Glory to be had in the 'after-action' reports and the awarding of medals, but there's no Glory involved at the time.

Heroics? Sure, you and I would consider his action heroic. But I'll give you nine-to-five and a ten-point spread that if you asked Brian Chontosh about that day, he'll just say he was doing what needed to be done, and anybody would have done it.

His fellow Marines (including the Marine Commandant) award him the Navy Cross, and say ...


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Ninth Annual Single-Stack Championship

Next weekend, I will be competing in a Single-Stack IPSC match.

This is a match in which the competitors are expected to use a single-stack 1911-model pistol.

(Other pistols which meet the qualifications for USPSA Limited 10 Division will be allowed to compete, but they will be eligible only for ribbon awards, not for trophy awards.)

You can see the competition rules by clicking on the title of this post. For applications, go here.

I missed the first match. I don' t know how but stuff happens. However, looking at my Trophy Wall I see that I took 2nd "C" in 1998. This isn't likely to happen again.

Those of you who know me, know that I switched to Limited Division with the acquisition of a new STI Edge around this time. Even though I qualified as B-Limited using my Kimber Custom (fixed sights, Kimber-Krap finish), after switching to the STI Edge I ignored my Kimber. As a consequence, I have not been able to shoot the Kimber at the B-level.

A couple of years ago, I noticed that my eyesight had deteriorated to the point that I was unable to easily see iron sights clearly. I started shooting Open Division in February of 2003, and am now shooting it at a mediocre B-Open level of competence.

Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that Growing Old is acceptable only in comparison to the alternative ... which is grim.

Accordingly, I dragged the Kimber from the Gun Safe last week with some trepidation.

It was well deserved.

I hadn't shot the Kimber since the last Single Stack Championship, last year. Somehow, I had failed to clean the gun after I used it, which is a violation of some Ethical Rule by which all right-thinking people abide.

There was some rust on the trigger-adjustment screw, and a little surface rust under the grips. Mostly, the gun suffered my abuse with little complaint. So I took it to the range, where I scrubbed off the accumulated powder reside on the slide rails and frame rails, and the chamber ramp, before I started shooting it.

Every other round missed the target. I don't know if it was my grip, or my trigger-finger, but when I tried to shoot double-taps the second round went invariably low and to the left. I know, you're saying things like "Jerking the trigger" and "It's your GRIP, man, you're putting too much Left Hand into it!"

You're probably right, no matter WHAT you're thinking. I was doing everything wrong.

This practice session was using old ammo which I had loaded last year ... which is not as much a pathetic attempt to blame the ammunition as it appears, but merely a lead-in to the next paragraph.

I realized that I was going to have to do a LOT of practicing, and I only had a couple hundred .45ACP bullets to load with. Using the Internet, I order one thousand 200gr LRN bullets from Laser-Cast.

That was last Wednesday. UPS delivered the bullets on Saturday, which was a shock to MY system because I had no idea that they delivered on weekends. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Monday was Independence Day, and they delivered Saturday rather than have to deliver Monday. Whatever the reason, I had plenty of bullets to reload all of the old (dirty!) cases sitting in cans on the shelf.

Wuff! No alibi about being unable to compete because I didn't have ammunition. Bummer, man!

SWMBO came down on Friday, and Saturday, Sunday and Monday she helped me reload about 1300 rounds of ammunition for the Kimber. (I had a partial box of Laser Cast bullets left over from last year.)

We got a bunch of bullets (about 500) loaded up on Saturday, and took 'em to the range. I shot about half of the loaded rounds, and couldn't hit the target at any useful speed at all. I don't mean I wasn't getting A-zone hits regularly (which I wasn't), but I was demonstrating a deplorable tendencey to miss wide left/low.

(Sunday was not much better. We used the video camera to record the process, took it home and watched it on the computer. Nothing was obvious, except that my grip seemed to slip frequently, and I was seen to be re-adjusting my grip every now and then. The slim single-stack grip was too small for my hands, and while I don't believe it is the primary reason for the misses it was still something I need to work on.)

My friend Gary the Fish joined us for the end of the Saturday session, and on Sunday he actually did some shooting. He kicked my butt all day, and I can just see how it's going to look NEXT weekend when we shoot for score.

Monday, we loaded up all the rest of the Laser-Cast 200gr LRN bullets. We marked 400 of them for the match, and I set aside the rest of them for practice.

Then, after all of the reloading was completed, I took a look at the pistol. I had intended only to give it a thorough cleaning (which I did), but during the process I realized that I had not replaced the recoil spring since 1998!

The recoil spring was about 8-1/2" long. A new recoil spring is about 10" long. (Eye estimation ... if I'm wrong in the precision of the spring lengths, it's because I'm half blind. Accept the stated differences as 'proportional', not exact.)

Take a minute to appreciate the singularity of the original Kimber pistol design. It doesn't use the same barrel bushing as the standard Cold 1911; it uses the same barrel bushing as does the Colt Commander.

And the slide is just a little bit shorter, too. When I replaced the recoil spring in 1998, I found that it was too long. I discovered this the first time I shot it after replacing the spring. The overly long recoil spring tried to stop the slide before it reached full recoil, and consequently blew the ears right off the barrel bushing. Bushing parts, spring, recoil spring-guide ... everything that wasn't glued down ... went down-range.

But still I decided that I needed to replace the recoil spring. I had two 18-pound 1911 recoil springs which I had bought from ISMI in 1998, along with installation instructions. I followed the instructions (a first for me!) and determined that the spring was somehow NOT too long for the gun. Still, I dutifully cut off a coil on the assumption that I had never measured anything correctly before, so I probably screwed up again. Besides, that 18# was REALLY heavy.

Here's my theory:
If I didn't cut enough off the recoil spring, the first time I shot it I would lose the barrel bushing, the spring-guide, and maybe even the spring. I have replacement parts, but I've never actually fitted them to the gun. I have no idea if they will fit.

When I test-fire the gun, it may happen that the parts will break or be lost, and the replacements may not fit. Since the earliest I could order replacement parts would be Tuesday, chances are they wouldn't arrive in time to be fitted to the gun and be tested before the match on Saturday.

If THAT happens, I could legitimately claim a broken gun, and instead of embarassing myself on the rage (remember, I still can't see the sights very well), I'll end up sitting in front of the air conditioner and making up statements for later publication bemoaning my 'lost chance' to shoot the Kimber in at least one more match.

I put the parts in on Monday, Independence Day, and was just to darned tired to drive to the range to test the gun. Instead, I tried it out after work today ... Tuesday.

The darned thing worked just fine, and it even shot better than it had over the long weekend. Wouldn't you know it. I will be competing at the Single Stack Championship this weekend, and making a damned fool of myself in public.

I remember how much I use to enjoy shooting a Single Stack in IPSC competition, glorying in how I could beat the Open Gunners who hadn't shot a Single Stack with iron sights for at least a year.

Now I find myself on the OTHER end of the stick, and I must tell you that it smells terrible!

There's no avoiding it. This weekend, I WILL be competing at the Ninth Annual Single Stack Championship at the Albany Rifle and Pistol Club in Albany Oregon. If you want so see something REALLY scarey, show up and see history in the making.

I do have a slight edge, though. After cleaning the gun, I painted the fixed sights with bright orange fingernail polish. You can see them suckers from a mile off. (I can't see them from the furtherest length of my extended arms, but never mind that.)

SWMBO has declined my invitation to compete, which is at least one fewer person who will beat me. But she has promised to take pictures.

Maybe she'll start her own blog, and post 'em.

For damned sure, you won't see them HERE!

Monday, July 04, 2005

Independence Day!

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Last night (Sunday, July 3, 2005) I was sitting in my living room, chatting with SWMBO, when I heard a series of small explosions outside. SWMBO asked "What's That!?" I replied that they were 'ladyfinger' firecrackers, and thought it shouldn't be a concern even though it was after midnight (illegal under local ordnances AND at this time of night doubly illegal under local noise ordnances), but as they continued they became increasingly irritating.

Finally, I got up from my comfortable couch-potato position and threw open the front door.

I saw a 'big guy' walking toward a set of three rocket fireworks, in the center of the cul-de-sac in which my townhouse apartment is located. There were a half-dozen small children sitting enthralled along the curb.

Having no appreciation for the esthetics of the moment, I loudly suggested that they "wait for tomorrow, or at least make all this noise before midnight!"

The figure hesitated, then instead of igniting the ground flares walked over to the sextet of expectant children and began to explain why he couldn't continue with the early fireworks show.

It wasn't until after I had slammed the door in disgust that I realized that the fireworks guy was . . . my landlord.

I really liked living here.

Okay, I'm stil resident in my apartment. And I like fireworks, and kids. It's only that Indepence Day Fireworks bring out the worst of my Vietnam hangups that I was such a cranky bitch.

I saw my landlord out in our shared driveway today, and he was kind enough not to mention the incident.
But I have to say, I was a real jerk last night. Tonite, when folks start shooting off fireworks (which should happen any minute), I plan to keep my tater trap SHUT.

Okay, it helps that I installed my window air-conditioner today, and I have turned it on in hopes that the 'white noise' from the air conditioner helps drown out the street noise.

I really don't like being the cranky dude in the hood.

But somebody has to do it.

Or am I just Wrong?

What do you think?

Hey, it WASN'T my landlord .... it was my landlord's family.

When they started shooting fireworks tonite (Fourth of July) I was front & center with my camera, and I love the display.

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I wished I had gone to the fireworks stand and bought more rockets for them to shoot off. But I didn't. They were producing a fireworks display for their kids, and it was glorious .... but short.

I could have contributed, but I didn't.

Just one more reason why old folks should be very careful about asserting themselves.

I learned from this, but too late to do any good. You may use this lesson to your benefit.

Or not.

As Heinlein suggests, age does not confer wisdom. Experience might.