Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Range Report: Ruger 22/45 RP

Alright, I couldn't stand it any longer. I saw Bob S.'s range report over at 3 Boxes of BS regarding his first shoot with his new Sig, and I had to respond. The new Ruger has been sitting on my desk for almost two weeks now...well, 10 days really, burning a hole in the box, taunting me and generally making it difficult for me to focus. That, and the piece of poo DSL connection AT&T seems to think is acceptable. But, I digress.

So, naturally, I had to go shoot something. 

Fortunately, there is an indoor range very close to Castle Erickson with reasonable rates and decent hours. After fixing The Queen a bite of dinner, I was off like a shot to shoot my new toy. Yes, I meant to say it that way. No, I don't care if you rolled your eyes. 

The Ruger's owner's manual says that the target models (of which the 22/45 RP is one apparently) are bore sighted at the factory. Not to be skeptical or anything, I had to see just how true this was. So, I rolled the target carrier out to 3 yards for the first shot, loaded one round in the magazine, dropped to bolt carrier release and took careful aim with a firm two handed grip. 

I think the results speak for themselves. First shot out of the box hitting high center bull just can't be argued with in my book. Especially when I can't honestly say that I wasn't holding just a tad high to begin with...and I was to impatient to wait for the target carrier to stop swinging...and I might not have paid as much attention to trigger control as I might otherwise have...you get the picture. Needless to say, I was very pleased with the gun's set up.

Next up, I rolled the target carrier out to 10 yards and continued firing. 

That there is about 40 rounds in the black at 10 yards from someone who is out of practice with one called flyer when I was fartin' around with some quick double taps. Definitely some trigger jerking to overcome. I dry fired the pistol several times before going to the range, and I have to admit that I had a hard time finding the right spot for my finger on the trigger. I need to experiment some more, but I am about 90% sure that finger placement in the middle of the meat of the index finger pad is the way to go for this pistol. 

For the last few mags, I rolled the carrier out to 15 yards. 

The rounds to the far right were aimed at the "1" on the right when I was testing different brands of ammo. Obviously, the pattern opened up a bit at 15 yards. I was also getting a tad tired at this point, the range was going to close any minute, and I had to get to the store for groceries. Still, most are in the black. And I won't complain about that..

Bottomline, the Ruger functioned flawlessly. I had one dud round out of about 130 fired. It was a Remington Gold Tip from a bulk pack that I bought several years ago. That particular box has given me at least 5 duds that I recall. So, I am confident it was no fault of the Ruger's.

I am pleased as punch. More to follow after the next range outing.

If This Keeps Up...

To borrow a line from Laurel & Hardy, "Well, that's another nice mess you've gotten me into!" 

It would seem that Monda at Easy Street Prompts is bound and determined to make think I actually know what I'm doing. It seems that she choose my little diatribe about zombie guns as a winner for August's edition of the Block Party. She even said "Bless his heart for providing this service, because there are scads of unprepared folks out there." That would make me want to blush if it weren't for the fact that I was raised in the south and know that it means she's questioning my sanity.

Regardless, this makes for three selections in three attempts. I have to assume that Monda is either really hard up for submissions, or my writing might actually be somewhat coherent. I'll leave that to others to decide. 

As per the rules, I am required to post a link to the block party submission form. Done.Y'all go check out the other selectees. I;m sure they worked just as hard on their stuff as I did on mine and would appreciate a little love.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Points to Ponder - Vacuum Advertising

Vacuums are perhaps the only product only the planet that you can say that it sucks and it be a good thing. If a vacuum doesn't suck, it's a bad thing. Why for have advertisers not picked up on this yet?

Sample TV/Radio Commercial:

Scene: Man and wife in the housewares department

Wife: Honey, which vacuum should we buy?

Salesperson: Well, the [brand x] vacuum really sucks.

Wife: Why would I want to buy a vacuum that sucks?

Salesperson: Isn't that what you want it to do?

Husband: Good point.

Fade to product info screen.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Friendly Heads Up To Restaurant Goers

Last night, The Queen and I were out and about following her regularly scheduled doctor’s appointment. It was past dinnertime when we finished with the doc, and we were 30 minutes from home meaning that it would be an hour plus for travel and cook time if we were to try and return to Castle Erickson for our repast. That was a clearly unacceptable option, and we set about trying to locate a suitable location to eat.

Unfortunately, eating out is a challenge for The Queen as she is HIGHLY allergic to gluten (which is a protein found in wheat and other grains…and it’s in a whole more stuff than you might expect) and has a lesser allergy to soy (which is in just about everything else). Add to that the fact that The Queen can be somewhat…indecisive…about what she wants to eat, and we have a recipe for disaster.

Unusually for her, The Queen actually had a strong opinion about what she wanted for dinner: Barbeque. Believe it or not, barbeque, in and of itself, is normally gluten and soy free. You just have to be careful about the sides, sauces and marinades. Near the doc’s office was a Colter’s Barbeque; however, as is frequently the case, The Queen didn’t want Colter’s barbeque. She really wanted barbeque from a hole in the wall, family owned shack. Unfortunately, we did not know where to find one in the area where we were at that time of night. Strike One. We went by a Spring Creek Barbeque location as a second choice; however, we arrived too late as they were closing their doors for the evening as we were pulling into the parking lot. Strike Two.

We remembered that there was a place reputed to serve barbeque not too far away from the Spring Creek location, and so we set out to see if they were still open and what they had to offer. Now, this particular “barbeque” place is part of a chain with several other locations. The Queen and I had gone to a different location of this same chain in Dallas about 10 years ago with friends from church…and we don’t remember anything being amiss from our visit at that time.

Well, times…they have apparently changed.

The Queen and I walked in the front door of this establishment, and the first thing I noticed was a display of T-shirts on the wall in front of me extending to the left. I like T-Shirts. I wear a lot of them given the fact that I work from home. I especially like funny T-shirts. The Queen had one I’d like to find in an XL. It had a picture of a monkey with one arm wrapped in bandages while the other arm held a lit firecracker. The caption read: “Slow Learner.” One T-shirt in particular displayed on the wall caught my eye. It read: “Blondes…the other white meat.” Amusing, but odd. Some might say a little dark. Some might also call this a clue.

Then, my attention was drawn to the hostess’ stand on the right since The Queen and I needed to peruse the menu and ask allergy questions. There were two young ladies there to greet us and ask us how many in our party. Being focused on locating a menu for The Queen’s perusal, the fact that these young ladies were dressed…skimpily…didn’t immediately register on my thick skulled brain. Perhaps I’ve become a little TOO conservative. Perhaps I’ve reached that “old fuddy duddy” stage. I’m not sure; but, here again, my initial reaction was that these ladies’ choices in clothing was an odd choice for work attire.

And then I noticed the rest of the wait staff…all clothed in similar fashion as the hostesses.

That’s when it hit me…I was in the barbeque version of Hooters…if Hooters were to insist on even LESS clothing for their uniform.

Now, I am a fan of the female form. It’s one of the things that I enjoy most about The Queen. I am also, however, a very happily married man and have absolutely no need to see young women barely clothed in not much more than what a bikini would cover. I especially don’t need to have that scene paraded in front of me, assaulting my senses, while trying to have dinner WITH MY WIFE!

As you will recall, I mentioned that The Queen and I had visited another location several years before. We both remember having a nice meal with friends from church. Neither The Queen nor I remember seeing the wait staff at the other location being undressed in the fashion we saw last, and I can guarantee we both would have remembered.

The Queen and I were tired and hungry last night. So, it’s understandable that we would be a little slow on the uptake. Once all the hints finally sunk into our low blood sugar addled brains, we swiftly made the decision to exit stage left and go back in search of alternate food establishments.

So, as a public service to my readership, if you are offended by scantily clad women serving you food…you might want to avoid Bone Daddy’s House of Smoke.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Our President, Who Is On The Fairway, Harried Be Thy Name...

Alright, I have a thought/question/observation for my readership. I know some of you personally and most via the writings on your own blogs, and I feel fairly safe in saying that we are, by and large, a conservatively bent group of folks. There is at least one libertarian among the group, but I think he will understand where I am going with this.

Here lately, the whole subject of whether or not President Obama is a Christian seems to be gaining steam again.Or, at least, it seems to be getting some press. Which is the same thing in my opinion. It seems that Mr. Obama doesn’t want to disrupt local congregations with his attendance; however, he is only too happy to disrupt your local golf course on a Sunday morning.

Further, it seems that about one in five people in our great nation think that PrezBO is a Muslim.The Queen and my inlaws would be among that 20%. Personally, I think everyone, whether they argue for him being a Christian or a Muslim, is missing the mark.

Granted, Obama hasn’t really done much of anything to convince us to the contrary of his Muslim leanings or lack thereof. His 20 year attendance at Trinity Universal under the ministry of Jeremiah Wright isn’t exactly helping his cause either.

Let’s take a look at some minor details for a moment and see if anything sticks to the wall.

A good Muslim is supposed to pray 5 times a day in the general direction of Mecca. These prayers are said to be compulsory; however, it appears that there is some leeway or flexibility allowed under certain circumstances for a Muslim to get those prayers in without being tied to a specific, dogmatic schedule. To my knowledge, there has been no evidence that Mr. Obama has engaged in the practice of praying 5 times daily…ever.

Next up, a good Muslim is supposed to fast during the month of Ramadan from dawn to dusk. Here again, I think our media, no matter how liberally bent, would have a hard time failing to observe Mr. Obama conspicuously abstaining from food and drink during daylight hours for an entire month without making some comment.

Alms-giving. Nope, no indication of that that I’ve heard about. The residents of the Gulf Coast sure would have appreciated that after the BP disaster.

Finally, there’s the Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca all Muslims are encouraged to make at least once during their lifetime). While I suppose it is possible that a devious Muslim could wait until after he’s finished with his life’s work of doing whatever it is devious Muslims do to make the pilgrimage, I would think that a devout Muslim would have made some reference to it at some point in his life.

On the Christian side, I feel safe in saying that a devout Christian would have a hard time justifying spending his day of worship anywhere other his chosen place of worship. That place of worship would not be a golf course and most certainly would not include yelling “Oh God, please let it go in.” to a little white, dimpled ball.

So, I think we can safely say that President Obama is neither a devout Christian nor a devout Muslim. So, dear readers, what does that leave us with?

You’re pretty much left with atheist, agnostic, “fallen” Muslim/Christian and/or secular humanist.

I obviously don’t know the man’s heart and can’t say this with any authority; but, I would say that the evidence would tend to support the conclusion that Mr. Obama is either a secular humanist or an agnostic with some religious (possibly Christian) leanings. Does anyone in the congregation have an opinion or evidence to the contrary?

Two for the Zombie Files

Sometimes, you just can't make this stuff up. Here are a couple of links received from the attorney mentioned in the previous post.

Hackers Crack Into Texas Road Sign, Warn of Zombies Ahead

Photo of a hacked road sign

Zombies Sue and Win

What is this world coming to?


A few weeks ago, I was at a mediation with one of the attorneys I work with on a regular basis. Somehow, the subject of guns came up. That’s not all that surprising given the fact that this is Texas. I’m pretty sure the subject arose when the attorney mentioned that he was in the market for a “coyote gun” for use at the little piece of property where he and his wife keep a couple of horses. Coyote guns are probably second only to zombie guns for eliciting strong opinions from those who have little to no experience with either varmint.

Anywho, the attorney mentioned that he was eyeing the Henry lever action .22Mag offered by Cabela’s. I suggested that he go to a gun show, see what was available and make a more informed decision from there. When he mentioned that he had never been to a gun show, I offered to go with him. He thought that was a splendid idea, and a plan was set in motion.

So, yesterday, after a lunch of muy bueno Tex Mex food at Chuy’s and despite our server’s attempts to be as surly as possible, the attorney, Number 1 Follower and I headed off to Dallas Market Hall to drool over some guns. Much fun was had by all, and I came away with a new addition to the arsenal:

This is the Ruger MkIII 22/45 Replaceable Panels model. The Ruger 22/45 has been around since at least the 1980s (I remember fondling a few back in the day when I worked at Walmart, and Wally World still carried pistols), and its primary selling point over the regular Ruger .22 pistols is that the grip angle is same as the legendary 1911 style pistol of which I am an unabashed fan. However, the replaceable panels model is a relatively new addition to the Ruger lineup. The main differences between the standard 22/45 and the replaceable panels model being that the polymer frame has front and back strap checkering and you can swap out grip panels just like on a regular 1911 style pistol.

Astute readers will note that this particular pistol is not the Ruger Stainless MkIII Hunter model that I had been eyeing. There two main reasons for this: 1) I found the 22/45 RP for about $150-$200 less than the MkIII Hunter (I paid $277.50 plus tax to be exact), and 2) did I mention that I LOVE the 1911 and the 22/45 RP just feels right? In fact, the 22/45 RP feels so much more like the 1911 than the standard 22/45 that they should almost be put in different categories. The standard 22/45 has a fairly thin, slick polymer frame which don’t really fit my hands very well at all and would get slippery in a hurry for those of the sweaty palmed persuasion. Then there’s the aesthetics…they are about as pleasing to the eye as a set of Tupperware.

But the 22/45 RP, that’s another story. Do you like wood and metal together? This puppy has very finely checkered cocobolo wood grip panels setting off the blue steel very nicely. Don’t like wood? No problem. Insert favorite grip panels here.

I haven’t had a chance to fire it yet; however, dry firing seems to suggest a smooth trigger pull at about 3 or 4 pounds with a crisp break. The trigger is wide, grooved and very comfortable to my fingers. The front sight is a non-adjustable black blade which I am almost certainly going to replace with the Hiviz fiber optic option offered by Ruger as soon as possible. The rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation. It too is all black; however, there is a small groove around the notch which could easily be painted with a fine brush and a bright color for greater clarity.

Needless to say, I can’t wait to take it out and play.

P.S. For the curious, the attorney didn't make a purchase, but he did indicate he had narrowed down the coyote gun selection to the Marlin and Rossi lever actions in .357/.38.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Outrageous, But Not Surprising

A few days ago, I spotted a headline on Drudge Report that caught my eye. Unfortunately, I was unable to click on it and read before it disappeared thanks to life in general and Drudge’s annoying habit of refreshing itself every five seconds whether I like it or not. Fortunately for me, Me of Lagniappe’s Lair posted the source article in its entirety.

The basic gist of the article is that the Koreans have been storing thousands of M1 Garand and M1 Carbine rifles for decades (since the end of the Korean War really) and would like to get them off their hands. The U.S., being the largest market for such weapons in the entire world and the place from where the Koreans got the guns in the first place, seemed like the obvious choice to get first dibs on the purchase of these very collectible and still fully functional firearms.

Or so one would think if it weren’t for the fact that the current administration is very much opposed to the idea of the private ownership of firearms in general. Even ones that haven’t been in common use since the 1970s at the most recent.

Here is the money quote from the Korean official speaking on condition of anonymity:
“The U.S. insisted that imports of the aging rifles could cause problems such as firearm accidents. It was also worried the weapons could be smuggled to terrorists, gangs or other people with bad intentions,” the official told The Korea Times.
Assuming for the moment that this official is on the level and that was the response received from Washington (of which I have little doubt), let’s take a few minutes to pull the rationale for the refusal apart piece by piece and see it for the load of unadulterated horse turds that it is.

“…aging rifles could cause problems such as firearm accidents.”

First, no self respecting gun dealer I’ve ever run across would knowingly sell a firearm that did not appear to be in good working order. The potential liability would be too great to risk ones business much less risk the thought of having someone injured or killed on ones conscious for a dealer to allow a defective firearm into the hands of an unsuspecting purchaser. Second, even assuming a cavalier dealer with a caveat emptor attitude, no serious collector or firearms enthusiast would shoot a firearm that’s been sitting in storage for DECADES without at least giving it a thorough cleaning, detail stripping and functionality inspection before attempting to fire said weapon. Wiser shooters would take it to a qualified gunsmith to give it a once over.

Are there going to be a few dumb asses who manage to get a hold of one, ignore all good advice to the contrary and manage to get hurt when something goes wrong? Yep. You betcha. Does that happen with modern, brand new out of the box firearms? Yep. You betcha. I’d be willing to bet good money based on my experience handling insurance claims for the past 15 years that 99% of the firearms “accidents” where not the result of any defect in the firearm but, in fact, resulted in a defect of the grey matter between the ears of the idiot/fool/person holding the gun.

I don’t need the government to protect me from a 1% chance of having an accident involving a piece of machinery that, by its very nature, is designed to be dangerous. Thank you very much.

“…weapons could be smuggled to terrorists, gangs or other people with bad intentions.”

Last I checked, the weapon of choice for terrorists, gangs and “other people with bad intentions” was not 60 year M1 Garands. Every piece of stock news footage I’ve seen of terrorists…oh, wait, my bad…I meant to say Islamic Extremists…shows them proudly toting AK-47s or similar weapons. Too bad some of the bullets they are so fond of shooting into the air in celebration don’t fall back down on them and give them a nice little dirt nap.

Ditto for gang bangers. I’ve never once heard of a drive by shooting involving an M1 Garand. Here again, the AK-47 seems to be a popular choice with it high capacity “banana” magazine hanging underneath which allows the Crips and Bloods to hose the whole freaking neighborhood before they have to reload. And, if a drive by shooting is not on the menu, they seem to favor semi auto pistols in 9mm or .40S&W as their preferred “Gat”.

And just what the bleep are “other people with bad intentions”? Mass murderers? Campus shooters? Bank robbers? Any of them ever use an M1? Let’s see here…uh, no, no and oh yeah, no.

Give me a freaking break. The M1 Garand is not the weapon of choice for those intent on committing very bad things. It is completely unsuited to the vast majority nefarious purposes. It is a semi-automatic high powered rifle firing a slightly downgraded 30.06 cartridge; however, it is limited to an 8 shot clip (a true clip that makes a distinctive “ting” sound when it ejects from the rifle after shot number 8) that, by most accounts, is not the easiest thing to reload quickly (unless you’re not too picky about damaging your thumb). It’s got some range and projectile energy going for it, but it’s pretty much limited to iron sights unless you want to use an offset scope that is tricky to zero. That leaves sniping people from a semi-fixed position as about the only “bad intention” for which this rifle would be a good choice.

You can’t exactly stuff one under a coat and stroll into a bank nonchalantly. It’s also a little bulky and short on ammo for drive bys. Terrorists seem to prefer 75 rounds of full auto 7.62mm x 39mm over 8 rounds of semi-auto 30.06 when they are not using IEDs or suicide bombers.

The bottom line is that the only people well and truly interested in this weapon are those gun owners and collectors who want to own and appreciate a small piece of history.

And at the prices they were throwing out in the article, I’d be one of them. In a heartbeat.

Unfortunately, our government fears an armed electorate. So, we’re screwed out of a chance to own one.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Your 1 Year/100 Post Warranty Has Expired

Good morning all you happy people. Well, it’s official. With this post today, I hit two major milestones. As of today, I have been blogging for exactly one year; and, with this post, I have posted exactly 100 posts. I just seemed appropriate to combine the two milestones into one occasion.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you who read my “stuff”. Looking back over the previous 99 posts, I realize that some of it is pure crap. However, I hope you have found some gems amongst the poo, too. I’ve learned a lot about myself and the process of writing in the past year, and I’d like to think that my ability to convey a coherent thought is improving. I’m not anywhere near the level of skill I would like to have; but, then again, I suspect that is true of most anyone.

I would also like to give an extra special thank you to everyone who has taken the time to comment on my erratic efforts. I have always had comment moderation enabled on this blog; however, truthfully, I’ve never had to block a comment. I originally chose to use comment moderation because I had no idea what I was in for, and I wanted to make sure nothing unseemly found its way onto the comments page. I have left it enabled for purely selfish reasons…I like getting a sneak preview of what you all have to say. It also helps me respond to your comments quicker because I think this process should be a dialogue; and, if you’re going to take the time to comment, the least I can do is respond.

I envy those of you who have the time, skill, diligence and/or whatever else it takes to post just about every single day. I’ve averaged a post every 3 and a half days even though some of those posts were nothing more than a photo, a link to a news article or a silly joke. I don’t think I’ve gone more than about 10 days without posting which is too long in my opinion; however, as most of you know, life and work have a way of getting in the way. Especially here at Castle Erickson.

I had thought about trying to do some sort of giveaway to celebrate these two milestones, and then promptly decided against. Well, “decided” is probably a strong word to describe being too busy to give it serious thought and thus having the time to act on any decision. Besides, giving away 1 item or even a couple of items would leave some people leaving empty handed.

But wait…that doesn’t mean I’m sending everyone away empty handed. In fact, quite the opposite. I got to thinking that blogging is really about sharing a piece (or several pieces as the case may be) of ourselves, and everyone loves food (okay, okay…everyone except the anorexics and bulemics). Food makes us happy. Right? So, why not share a couple of my favorite recipes with everyone? That way, I can give everyone something special (well, special to me at least…hopefully you will think so, too) to make them happy.

First, I’d like to share my all-time favorite cookie recipe. I love me some cookies. I have a reputation to uphold of being able to sniff out a bakery in under 15 minutes in just about any city in which I happen to find myself. Seriously. The Queen can run into people she knows just about anywhere in the world…I find the bakeries. Some of you might be expecting another (roll your eyes here) chocolate chip cookie recipe. No. Don’t get me wrong, I am not in the habit of passing up chocolate chip cookies. They’re just not my all-time fav. The cookie that has that honor is the humble cinnamon cookie.

Cinnamon cookies baking in the oven smell simply divine. They fill up the whole house with the aroma of cinnamon. Mom used to bake these for us occasionally when I was a kid, and they never lasted long. Sometimes, they had trouble making it from the baking sheet to the plate (cooling racks are for rich folks and professionals…this was strictly an amateur lower middle class affair). This particular cookie comes from my grandmother’s World War II era Victory Cookbook. I had hoped to have photos of this extremely well worn cookbook to share with you; however, my sister…the devil has been holding it hostage for several years and keeps “forgetting” that it’s my turn to care for it for a while. It’s neat because a lot of the recipes have patriotic themed names, and I think there are tips for menu planning to help the war effort. At least, that’s what I remember since I can’t fact check myself thanks to my sister…the devil.

Victory Cookbook Cinnamon Cookies

2 Cups Sifted Flour
¼ Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
½ Cup Butter (melted)
1 Cup Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs (beaten)

Sift the dry ingredients together. I like to use a quart size plastic yogurt container, throw everything in, put the lid on and shake vigorously for a few seconds. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl (don’t ask me what the eggs did to deserve a beating…but I would imagine it had something to do with throwing the “good” eggs at someone’s house). Add the melted butter, sugar and vanilla to the eggs. Mix thoroughly until smooth. The original recipe doesn’t mention melting the butter first, but I have found that the butter mixes much easier when melted and it makes for a much smoother dough. Fold and mix dry ingredients into the mixing bowl (about a 1/3 at a time). Mix until dough is smooth (Hint: don’t try to use a hand mixer…use a spoon or a counter top mixer). An optional step I take is to divide the dough into thirds, wrap the thirds in wax paper and put them in the fridge for a little while to firm up the dough. Bake on a cookie sheet in an oven preheated to 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen.

The next recipe is my chili recipe. I know, I know. Everyone has an opinion about chili. My sister…the devil thinks that any chili that has beans in it is a stew. I, of course, have a differing opinion. Then there was the time I was invited over to someone’s house for a chili dinner. They were from Wisconsin, and the “chili” tasted just like my mother’s stew. They thought it was hot and spicy. Go figure. My recipe was something I cobbled together for a chili cook off at work a few years ago. It won second place out of six or seven entries. I think it beat the first place winner taste wise, but the voting was based on popularity and the winner came from a team with more supporters. Philistines.

K. Erickson’s Chili Cookoff Recipe

2 Pounds ground meat (chuck, sirloin, buffalo and/or [insert favorite game meat here])
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1 15 ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 12 ounce bottle of dark-ish beer (J.W. Dundee’s Honey Brown, Shiner Bock or Ziegenbock)
1 14.5 ounce can beef broth
3 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 4.5 ounce can chopped or diced green chiles (can substitute fresh jalapenos if desired)
2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons (or more) chili powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground red pepper
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

You will want to use a stock pot for this recipe since there is a lot of stuff to go in. Brown the meat over medium to high heat until the meat crumbles. Drain the fat. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté over medium heat until the onions start to change color. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for three hours or until thickened. You can also add ¼ cup of Masa flour or a 1/8 cup of corn starch thoroughly mixed with a ¼ to a ½ cup of water for thicker chili (I normally don’t bother with that step).

Thank you all again. I hope you enjoy the recipes.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gun Pr0n And A Dilemma

Okay…last post before my one year/100 post warranty expires. I need the help of my loyal readers and followers. You see, I am on the horns of a dilemma. As some of you will recall from my midlife crisis wish list post, there are several firearms that I am drooling/lusting after which, sooner or later, I will add to the Castle Erickson armory. I have since refined and tweaked that list just a little. So, please allow me to recap the updated list for a moment. Here, in no particular order, is the old but improved (since something really can’t be “new AND improved”…it has to be one or the other), list:
1) Ruger 10/22 Sporter .22LR semi-automatic rifle. I had originally listed the target version of the same rifle, but then I got to thinking about the 10/22 as a zombie gun. The target version would be nice, but the added weight would be a bear to lug around all the time. I decided the Sporter was a good compromise between the target model and the carbine model (which I find aesthetically unpleasing). Besides, the Sporter is about $100 cheaper up front, and I can always get a target weight barrel and stock to swap into the Sporter action anytime I want.
2) Ruger MkIII Hunter .22LR semi-automatic pistol. This is a carryover from the original list. I still really like the way it looks; however, I am also considering the 22/45 version of this pistol as well. I’d take either one to be perfectly honest. Perhaps even both.
3) Taurus PT1911 .45ACP semi-automatic pistol. I landed on the Taurus as my first choice for an entry level 1911 style pistol for 2 reasons: a) I’ve owned Taurus’ before with no problems whatsoever, and b) it’s got a ton of features for the price. As many an article pointed out, it’d make a good base gun for a custom 1911.
4) Ruger SR-556. This is a gas piston version of the AR-15.
5) Remington Model 700 Sendero bolt action in .308. I changed my mind on the bolt action rifle from the Browning to the Remington mainly on the strength of the fact that I’ve shot the Sendero and liked it a lot. I went to the gun store recently and compared the Remington to a comparable Savage, and the Remington just felt better all the way around. I’ve held the Browning and liked it but not enough to pay more than the Remington.
6) Glock 9mm. This is a direct nod to the zombie gun post. I haven’t decided on the full size versus medium frame yet, but I’ll probably go with the full size since I don’t plan on conceal carrying it, and I may use it to get into production class shooting sports.
7) Smith & Wesson Model 686, 386 XL Hunter or 627 V-Comp .357 Revolver. This is sort of a carryover from the first list…with options. I want another .357 revolver, and you can’t argue about the quality of the Smith & Wesson revolvers.
8) Springfield M1A Super Match .308 semi-automatic rifle. Another carryover. See the zombie gun post for more reasons why I like it.
9) Marlin 1894 lever action rifle in either .44 or .357. I have the Smith & Wesson Model 29 in .44, and I want the 686 in .357. I think a classic lever gun in a matching caliber would make a great field/hunting combination.
In the “it’d be nice to have, but I can live without it category” are the following:
a) Savage Mark II BVT .22 LR bolt action rifle
b) Paraordinance 1911 .45ACP semi-automatic pistol
c) Colt 1911 .45ACP semi-automatic pistol
d) Browning or Beretta 12 gauge over/under shotgun
e) Browning or Benelli 12 gauge semi-automatic shotgun
f) DPMS or Rock River DGI AR-15 5.56mm semi-automatic rifle
So, anyway, here is the dilemma…I inherited/liberated a Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Mag revolver from my grandfather (the senile, 89 year old coot of a “father” to my mother who is in an assisted living home now). Even though I have the original presentation grade wood case, etc., this gun is a shooter. The bluing is worn and pitted in several places because my grandfather thought the perfect place to keep a quality firearm was under the front seat of his pickup amongst the cigar ash and empty beer cans. The gun is not hideous by any means, but it’s not going to win any awards anytime soon. Here is a picture of what it looked like up until last March:

After March, I changed out the original square butt wood grips for a nice Hogue contoured wood grip. It now looks like this:

See the difference?

The new grips make it more comfortable to shoot. However, I’m still not satisfied with its overall performance. To me, a revolver should have a six inch, fully underlugged, heavy barrel. The standard 4 inch barrel on the Model 29 isn’t bad, and it gives acceptable accuracy. However, I think it is capable of much more.

So, here is what I am thinking and the question I’d like to pose to you, my dear readers: I’m toying with the idea of having the pistol reblued, rebarreled (like a six inch ported/compensated target barrel), and maybe a little extra custom work (like modifying it to use moon clips or adding a Hiviz front sight). Does anybody think I’m crazy or that this would be a bad idea? Does anyone think I should leave it as is and spend money on getting a gun set up the way I want straight out of the box?

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Dream Report

I don’t know about other couples, but I always hear talk about how a husband and wife are supposed to share their hopes and dreams with each other. I have always understood that to refer to sharing those things you would like to see happen in the future with your spouse not necessarily reporting on the odd things that occurred in your brain while asleep last night.

The Queen seems to have a different understanding of that concept. When she has a weird dream (which is almost nightly), she tells me all about it. And she has some real humdingers let me tell you.

We call it: The Dream Report.

First of all, I am amazed at the level of detail The Queen can recall about her dreams. I almost never remember my dreams; and, when I do, I usually only remember bits and pieces. Not The Queen. She can describe the entire scene and story to you down to the littlest details. And, usually, for more than one dream a night. I ran across a blog once written by a woman who would transcribe her husband’s nocturnal mumblings, and I thought about doing something similar for The Queen’s nocturnal cinema recap.

Anyway, I told you that to tell you this. I had a dream last night that I actually remembered. More or less. I thought I’d take a moment to share a dream report with you, my faithful readers. Why? ‘Cause I shouldn’t be only one stuck with it, and I’m a sharing type. Hence, the blog.

To start with, let’s set the scene. I’m pretty sure I was in England somewhere based on the architecture. I arrived at someone’s house which had a modest sized gold fish pond next to the front door where I was warmly greeted by Barkley (an adorable black lab who lives with Brigid of Home On The Range fame). Barkley proceeded to get up on his hind legs to give me a hug, and I handed my camera off to someone else to get a picture of us hugging. This anonymous someone managed to drop my camera into the gold fish pond while fiddling with the settings.


After that disappointment, we all went into the house. The living room was straight ahead from the foyer but was canted at an angle to the right with a large open kitchen to the right of the foyer opening into the living room as well. The living room had high, cathedral ceilings, and there were a bunch of folding chairs set up for a meeting of some kind. Several people were milling about talking with each other. I never did get to find out what the meeting was about as there was a gunshot fired from somewhere nearby, and everyone went outside to figure out what happened. There was a small, park like meadow or field right behind the backyard’s chain link fence. On the other side of the field was a building that I, at first, took for a barn with a peaked roof and a strange circular-ish stained glass window. The building, which was about 5 or 6 stories high when we got closer, turned out to be part of a complex of shops and businesses with sort of a “Sweeney Todd” feel to them if that makes any sense at all.

Then I woke up.

I have no idea from which depths in my brain this dream came from or why I was able to remember it. I think Barkley was present (even though I’ve never met him or his human in person) because I love black labs, and because of the recent loss an adorable black lab (the sweet and loveable Belle aka The Belly Dancer because of the way she would do a whole body wag when greeting people) who lived with the girl who The Queen nannied during her last incarnation as a gainfully employed working woman.

The rest of it…no clue.

I think I need a vacation. Or therapy.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Randomness

I only have a few moments to tap out some random thoughts today. So, hopefully they will make sense.

The Queen Mum asked me the other day if she could borrow my aging Nissan Maxima yesterday. I said "Sure, no problem" since I had no plans to leave the house for the day. About 10:00 AM or so, The Queen comes into my office to inform me that the Maxima is now sporting a brand new, current and up to date inspection sticker.

This is noteworthy because my 2000 Nissan Maxima with just a touch over 300,000 miles on it but still runs like the Energizer bunny hasn't passed inspection since July of 2003 (the sticker expired July 2004). I was told that it failed due to emissions issues (no grief allowed...it's paid for and the out of inspection tickets are cheaper than a car payment). I had it in to two different shops to figure out the problem both of which failed to accomplish such a simple task. Personally, I think they charged me $1500 to sit on their thumbs. I could be wrong. I just gave up bleeding money to Bubba and got good at driving under the radar so to speak. So, imagine my surprise when I walked outside to the driveway to have my disbelieving eyes greeted by a freshly minted inspection sticker.

I am steadfastly refusing to ask any further questions on the subject to preserve plausible deniability.

In other news, after this post I will be four measily posts away from my next milestone: 100 posts.

Additionally, my one year blogiversary is coming up on August 18.

I'm hoping to combine the two momentous occasions into one massive post. I might even consider some kind of giveaway to commemorate the accomplishment. It won't be anything tremendous since I'm chronically broke, but I'll try to think of something worthwhile. Suggestions/requests for topics or giveaways will be considered.

Lastly, today is Friday. I wasn't sure I was going to make it to Friday this week. It's been a challenge shall we say. I have a massive sleep debt to pay back sooner or later. Hopefully, things will improve next week. I don't want to contemplate them getting worse.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


The other day, I received an interesting piece of mail that I had not seen in a long time: a membership “acceptance” solicitation form from the National Rifle Association. Being the proud gun owner and enthusiast that I am, you might expect me to either already be an NRA member or one who is chomping at the bit to accept NRA’s offer to give me a $10 discount on a one year membership and a free duffle bag (let’s not point out the obvious fact that the duffle bag ain’t really free if I have to pay a $25 membership fee to get it…minor point…TANSTAAFL). Not so much.

I was an NRA member at one time, but I became disillusioned with them in the mid ‘90s and let my membership lapse. Thus, my dilemma. Do I let bygones be bygones and “renew” my membership during turbulent times when the president is on record in favor of greater gun control measures, or do I stand on principle and tell the NRA to go pound sand?

Let’s examine, for a moment, the seeds of my disaffection with the NRA.

First and foremost, there is the head honcho at the NRA, Wayne LaPierre. If this guy would spend more time shooting guns and less time shooting his mouth off, I might have a more favorable opinion of the NRA. I am hopeful that my readers recall that Mr. LaPierre was the source of the quote calling members of the ATF “jackbooted thugs” in the wake of the fiascos at Ruby Ridge and Waco. This is the same quote that led former president George H.W. Bush to resign his lifetime NRA membership. Mr. LaPierre’s comments were, in my opinion, patently unfair to the men and women serving in the ATF during a difficult time. Could things have gone better in the Ruby Ridge and Waco incidents? Of course. Was it the “jackbooted thugs” on the ground who were solely or even mostly responsible for those incidents? Not likely. Is Mr. LaPierre right to use such inflammatory rhetoric as a scare tactic to raise more money and increase membership? Definitely not.

That brings up my second point of distaste for the NRA: the rhetoric. As I’ve mentioned before, I despise rhetoric. In my opinion, it gets in the way of genuine debate and discussion. Here is a sample from Mr. LaPierre’s latest missive aimed at scaring me into accepting membership with the NRA:

Gun-ban politicians like U.S. House leader Nancy Pelosi and Senators Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein stand ready to fight for an anti-gun agenda that will BAN hundreds of commonly owned firearms, MANDATE gun owner licensing and registration, CLOSE gun shops and shows and SEND YOU TO PRISON if a criminal steals your guns and commits a crime.

EEEeekKKKKkk!!! I’m scared now…where do I sign up? Puh-leeze. Does he really think I’m that stupid? There’s no need to insult my intelligence. I know how dangerous the current administration is. I keep tabs on news related to topics that affect me. Why can’t we skip the rhetoric and simply state what the organization stands for and why? Try this instead: “Hi, we’re the NRA. We are a grass roots organization dedicated to supporting your right to lawfully own firearms for sport and self defense. We hope you, as an avid gun owner and shooter, will join us and support our common interests.”

No fear mongering. No rhetoric. No name calling. Just plain, simple and straightforward. I’d be a whole lot more likely to support an organization that approached me that way.

Another thing related to that which really turned me off years ago was that the pleas for money using inflammatory rhetoric never stopped even after you became a member. It was almost like they were saying “Aha! We have him on the hook now. Let’s drain his bank account.” It seemed like every week there was another scare letter in my mailbox attempting to drum up more money to “fight for my rights”. I was always left wondering how much money they spent sending out mailers every week begging me to send them more money so they could send out more mailers next week. It just seemed like bad stewardship to me. Still does too.

Don’t get me started on the whole subject of special interest groups and purchasing influence with the almighty dollar. One word: WRONG. I’ll leave it at that for now.

So now, we have a very liberal Congress coupled with a very liberal president barely balanced out by a conservative leaning, moderate Supreme Court. Now we actually have real threats to our right to own guns, and the NRA sounds to me like the boy who cried wolf too many times.

Sigh. What to do?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Choose Yer Weepons: Zombie Horde Defensive Three Gun

Okay, so I was doing my best to avoid thinking about work today; and, while doing so, I came across a blogger who was writing about his selections for zombie defense which boiled down to a bolt action hunting rifle for long range, a shotgun for mid range and a semi auto pistol for close in defense. This line of posts, naturally, got me to thinking on the subject. One thing glaringly missing from the discussion, in my humble opinion, was a detailed analysis of the hypothetical situation including the behavior of the enemy (zombies and those less prepared) and the anticipated conditions of the environment (anarchy, looting…you know…Walmart the day before Christmas). It is through this prism that we must analyze our choices for the perfect zombie defense weapons.

For purposes of this discussion, I will follow the three gun (or less) rule. The reason for this is simple: three guns is really the most any one person can realistically carry with sufficient ammo to stave off hordes of zombies/liberals and still be mobile enough to run for it if things head into the port-a-potty. If you plan on holing up in a bunker, by all means compile your fantasy list of movie magic. Me? I want the freedom to get out and forage or hunt for food once in a while.

First up, let’s chat about our opponents for a moment. Movie lore seems to indicate two possible incarnations of zombies: a) the mindless, slow moving albeit relentless zombie, or b) the semi aware, fast moving, aggressive, break down doors and chase any living thing for miles zombie. Non-zombies less prepared than you can be lumped into category b since, in my opinion, that’s where they will ultimately wind up. Let’s also assume that any zombies you can see can see you as well (making you into a potential zombie snack). No one has ever really addressed the hearing capabilities of zombies that I recall; however, let’s assume that zombies retain their normal hearing ability as well.

Movie lore is more unanimous on the subject of zombie disposal. Head shots are the key here. No more head/brain. No more zombie. Simple. Straight forward. No fuss. No muss. End of story.

So, one would think that accuracy would be the watch word for zombie firearm selection, right? Maybe. There are several bolt action .22 LR rifles out there considered by some to be the benchmark for accuracy, but I’ve never heard anyone seriously enter one into contention for a zombie gun. Rate of fire has to be taken into consideration…especially if you’re up against the more aggressive “type b” zombies. So, how about a .22 LR semi auto rifle?

Laugh. I dare you. This is a serious discussion (said with a completely serious look on my face I assure you).

There are certainly some distinct advantages to the .22 LR round. Let’s examine some facts for a moment. The ammo is cheap. You can carry a lot of it before you have to resupply. There would probably be enough .22 LR rounds left lying around after the apocalypse to kill every zombie on the planet twice…maybe even three times. Professional hit men have supposedly been using .22 LR successfully for years against non-zombies (at least according to Hollywood). At 100 yards, a 40 grain .22 bullet still carries 93 ft. lbs. of energy which is sufficient energy to penetrate a zombie skull and have energy to spare for bouncing around the inside making Swiss cheese out of the contents of said zombie skull.

Before you naysayers have a hissy fit, let’s consider the drawbacks of the .22 LR round for a moment. It’s small. It might expand up to the size of say…a .25 ACP…if it’s lucky. Your effective range pretty much tops out at 100 yards; and, I don’t know about you, I want a little more cushion between me and the horde.

Think about it for a moment; let’s see how a Ruger 10/22 stacks up in a hypothetical zombie fight. If we assume that that the average semi fat, lazy, office bound claims adjuster turned zombie (that would be someone like me) walks/shuffles/staggers along at a rate of 20 paces per minute (which is actually about 1/5 a normal person's walking pace) covering an average distance of 2 to 3 feet per step. That translates to up to 60 feet per minute or covering 100 yards in right at five minutes. I can easily empty a 50 round magazine for the Ruger 10/22 with aimed fire in about a minute. Let’s assume for the moment that it takes a minimum of 2 rounds per zombie to make a kill. That means a fairly good marksman is capable of dropping a maximum of 25 zombies a minute. If there are more than 125 zombies in your horde (which is highly likely in even the more remote, rural environments), you are screwed unless you move. If your Ruger 10/22 jams (which NEVER happens with cheap, bulk ammo), you’re screwed unless you move. If your zombies run instead of walk, you’d better be running too unless you want to be a zombie (I’m a zombie, she’s a zombie, wouldn’t you like to be a zombie too?...my apologies to Dr Pepper) which will affect your accuracy. Better remember to add that red dot sight for quicker sight acquisition without the parallax issues. Several enterprising gunsmiths even offer the 10/22 with a suppressor integrated with the barrel. Neat.

So, the Ruger 10/22 is not a bad idea for a zombie gun, but it’s not such a good idea either. It could make the list as a good, back up, mid range gun since it’s light. In fact, I’d argue that it’s a better mid range gun than a shotgun given the fact that most shotguns have an 8 round capacity limitation unless you can find one of the super special versions with a 50 round rotating drum magazine which are not likely to be had at the local gun shop (or anywhere else easily accessible for that matter) anytime soon. Also, accuracy on a shotgun gets dicey out past 50 yards even with slugs and rifle sights. Finally, shotgun ammo is just too stinkin’ bulky and heavy to lug around. For about the same weight, I can carry 500 .22LR rounds in the same amount of space as I can carry 25 shotgun shells. Hmmm…I can kill 25 zombies with one load out versus up to 250 zombies with the other. Decisions. Decisions.

Okay, the mid range gun is pretty much nailed down in my opinion, and we’ve established that we need accuracy, rate of fire (meaning a semi auto) and a bit of “AT&T reach out of touch someone” ability (anything smaller than .30 caliber need not apply) for the long range gun. Let’s not forget that zombies might be able to hear as well as we can. That suggests the need for a suppressor capable rifle. We also can’t forget about ammo availability meaning we can’t go with exotic calibers which would be hard to find after the initial looting of every sporting goods store in America. What does that suggest to you? I’m thinking the caliber of choice for the long range zombie gun would be the .308 (also known as the 7.62 x 51 mm NATO by you military types). It’s got the legs to get out to 1000 yards with enough energy and accuracy to do some damage. Depending on the loading, range and firing platform, it can be fired quietly enough that a zombie won’t be able to hear where the shot came from. Best of all, it’s one of the standard calibers currently in use in the US Military as well as a good chunk of the rest of the world meaning you will be able to find plenty of ammo when the stuffing hits the fan.

The .308 is easily a one shot one kill capable cartridge. So, we want a weapon that can hold 20 to 30 rounds of ammo to eliminate the need to reload every 10 seconds. The two obvious choices in this category would be the AR-15 based AR-10/LR-308 (depending on who's making it) and the venerable Springfield M1A/M14. Another choice would be any of several Heckler & Koch semi auto rifles including the G3 and Model 91. There are probably several other good selections to be had, but I think many of those options would get into issues with parts compatibility that become critical in a post apocalyptic environment where parts aren’t being made anymore. By contrast, the M1A/M14 is still in use in some military units and the AR-10/LR-308 is popular enough to have parts almost literally littered every. The M1A/M14 and AR-10/LR-308 also both come with threaded barrels ready to accept a flash hider, muzzle break or suppressor as the situation warrants. Of the two, I’d probably lean towards to AR-10/LR-308 since it’s not quite as heavy as a M1A/M14. On the flip side, the M1A/M14 makes a much better club if you run out of ammo and have to smash some zombie skulls the old fashioned way. Hard choice.

That leaves us with the close in weapon to choose. Same defining factors apply to this choice as it does to the others. Revolvers are accurate, but are seriously lacking in rate of fire. The most you can hope for out of a pistol for range is 50 yards. Beyond that, your accuracy is much less likely to be good enough to hit the head shot necessary to disable the zombie. As much as I love 1911 .45 semi autos, they just don’t fit the requirements here. A single stack .45 gets you 9 shots (8 in the mag plus 1 in the pipe)…maybe 11 if you go with extended mags. Going to the double stack 1911s only gets you a few more rounds, and they’re heavier than the combat Tupperware 9mms out there.

This brings us, inevitably, to the caliber and manufacturer of choice for a zombie handgun: the Glock G17 9mm. People can joke about 9mm maybe expanding to the size of a .45 but .45s never shrinking to the size of a 9mm. In a zombie outbreak, it doesn’t matter in my opinion. A solid head shot from a 9mm is just as effective as a .45 head shot. 9mm is also the current handgun caliber of choice for the military and a lot of law enforcement meaning you shouldn’t have too much trouble find ammo to feed your needs. Plus, a full size Glock will get you 18 shots of 9mm with the option for 33 round mags if you are so inclined. You can poo poo the Glock name all you want to. I’ve owned one, and they are certainly not without their drawbacks. However, they are reliable, safe, tough, simple and reasonably accurate in the practiced hand. In a fight for your life, they don’t come much more reliable, and you can fit a threaded barrel on them for a suppressor for those times when you need to cap a zombie in a building without alerting his friends.

So, to recap, my three gun choice for the zombie outbreak would be: the Springfield M1A/M14, the Ruger 10/22 and the Glock 17. Argue with me if you will, but I think this selection gives me a better than average chance of survival in a zombie infested world. Your experience may vary.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Things That Make You Wonder....

The Queen and I were out and about yesterday to run some errands and just generally escape Castle Erickson for a while. We stopped at the Genghis Grill in the Fossil Creek area in north Ft. Worth for dinner after trekking a long, long way....seriously, it felt like we were almost to Oklahoma...to visit Cabela's (really cool place...I liked it better than Bass Pro Shop). Upon leaving said dining establishment, I noticed the license plate on the white Chevy Tahoe with black rims. It said:


Naturally, this brings out the snarky, perverted side of my brain. For instance, thoughts like "She (I am guessing at the gender here since I didn't see the owner) can't be all that bad if she can afford a Tahoe with custom rims." or "I guess that means she gives you an STD at no extra charge."

I wish I had taken a picture of it. More importantly, I wish I had gotten a picture of the owner.