Sunday, March 28, 2010
After that, I said farewell and took off to enjoy the rest of the expo. The expo consisted of several tents housing various outdoors organizations such as hunting organizations, fishing organizations, boy scout troops, wildlife funds, conservation groups, and so on. One of these was the CouesWhitetail.com table. There I met, Amanda Moors. I asked her a few questions about the Coues Whitetail Deer. I had only heard of them, that I remember, this past Friday when I stopped in at Cabelas in Glendale, AZ. They had the usual Cabela's natural history display of game animals and that included several mounted Coues Whitetail Deer. I read an informational plaque there saying they are found in southeast AZ. Hmm, that got me to thinking that the small whitetail deer I had seen while I visited Madera Canyon several times over my 4 month stay in Tucson, last spring and summer, were probably Coues Whitetails. Ms. Moors said I was right. She said they are fairly common there. That made me pretty happy since I had seen several of what, according to the info at Cabela's, is a hard species to get close to during a hunt. I walked up to several of them while hiking and got as close as 30 feet or so to ones that were off the beaten path, closer still to ones that were used to hikers near the parking area. There were also any commercial displays by companies such as Dick's Sporting Goods and so on.
Outside the tents there were various shooting events going on where folks could plop down anywhere from $2 to $5 to shoot a variety of firearms from black powder arms to Glock semi-automatic pistols. These events included events for young shooters and I saw many children enjoying, along with their parents, what were probably the first shots fired by many of them. There were also other displays out side of the tents that were dedicated to shooting events. One of these that I watched for awhile was a competitive shoot from horseback. The shooters rode around cones in a corral, several of the cones having balloons tethered to them. As the shooters rode past the balloon they shot them, or tried to, with single action revolvers. Most of them hit every one, i think there were about 10 balloons set up for each shooter. This was no easy task as it combined not only shooting skill on the move but horsemanship as well and it was all timed. The youngest shooter in this event was 12 years old or just older.
Both inside of the tents and outside there were some other interactive events taking place such as an archery shooting gallery where you could shoot at facsimile animal targets and one, maybe two, fishing tanks in which kids could cast a line and try to catch one of the fish. There were also displays of live animals from hawks, to buzzards, to bats, to fish, to reptiles. Along the way around the expo, I came across a mobile display set up by the Phoenix Herpetological Society. Yes that meant reptiles on display and what they had ranged from tortoises, an alligator and ball pythons in a petting area to several locked displays quite a few species of some of the worlds most deadly venomous snakes including a Gaboon Viper, an albino Monacled Cobra, and many species of rattlesnakes. There were also several non-venomous species of snakes and quite a few lizards on display. Many of the animals on display were enclosed in tanks, the tanks all held in the open sides of a van/trailer belonging to the herp society. Pretty impressive display for a local herp society, I can say that I have never seen anything else like it!
The shame of all this was that I forgot to bring my camera with me. I was able to get a few shots with my cell phone but they never come out all that good.
After having made my way around most of the expo, I headed back to the main range area of the facility. I had a few hundred rounds of ammo that needed getting rid of and what better way to get rid of ammo than by shooting it. It had been a tough week and I need the soothing effect that shooting would have on me. As usual it did its magic because by the time I was dome shooting I had forgotten about all of the things that had been troubling me and I felt great. Being that I shot pretty good today was an added bonus and that always goes toward making me feel pretty good. Add to the shooting the fact that I really enjoyed the expo and that I also had enjoyed my fishless day fishing yesterday and I think you can tell that I had a great weekend.
All in all, I shot 250 rounds of 9MM through my Glock 26 today, another 100 rounds through my issued SIG 229, and about 50 rounds through my Henry U.S. Survival Rifle. It was a good shoot and I had a great time. Not a bad day considering I also did my laundry and some other small household chores earlier in the day. One more household chore left to do before the day comes to an end, I have to clean my pistols. Maybe when that is done, I'll g out to get a bite to eat.
All the best,
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Gone Fishin (no shootin today)
I got to Apache Lake at about 0900. I stopped in a small store there and grabbed a couple of candy bars (my weekend treats) and then headed out to rent a boat at the marina. One look at the wind blowing up the waves convinced me I should have stayed at Canyon Lake where it had been much less windy. I decided not to rent the skiff after all and tried to find a place to fish from shore. I found one spot but it was crowded with rowdy and apparently drunk campers. Yep, that was at about 10 AM!. I got out of there and drove further east with no luck. Apache lake has very few spots where you can drive down to the water's edge to go fishing. I turned around and headed back toward canyon Lake at about 1055. By the time I turned around, I was 21 miles from the Canyon Lake Marina. It took me exactly 1 hour to drive back that 21 miles. As I was heading back I noticed there were a lot of people going in the opposite direction from me. It was getting crowded on the road in the other direction. That meant only one thing to me - that since Canyon lake was closer to Phoenix, it would be more crowded than Apache Lake. I headed there anyway. When I got to Tortilla Flats, 2 miles east of Canyon Lake marina, there was a mob there. Bikers, people in cars, and RV'ers. I went to Canyon lake and it was pretty busy too but not mobbed.
I found a spot to fish, wish I could remember the name of the parking area but cannot and I got in a few hours of fishing without a single bite. Then when I was getting disgusted and thinking about leaving in a short while, the rod tip did a little dance and I hooked something. It took line for about 10 seconds then stopped. I could tell it was pretty big, especially for the light weight spinning outfit I was using but that was okay with me. Then it just stopped moving. No tugging no matter how hard I pulled the pole back. I figured I was stuck on the bottom and let out some line then jiggled around the pole end, then let out some more line, then reeled it in and tried to get it free by again shaking the rod left, right, up and down. I walked way to one side of the fishing pier I was on and figured it might come loose, then back the other way, then back to where I had been. No luck. Then I realized something, I had slackened the line but the line was taut again and I had not reeled it in and it kept getting tauter but very slowly. So let out some more line and sure enough it became taut again but I could not reel any in. It was not the current I am almost certain, it was moving against the current and changed direction a couple of times. It seemed too slow to be a big fish but maybe it was a large channel catfish that went down into an underwater crevice or maybe it was a big turtle as in a large snapping turtle or very large softshell turtle (though I cannot imagine a softshell being that slow). Whatever it was, it took about half of my line moving very slowly like that over the course of about 20 to 30 minutes. I was making no headway at all in reeling it in so I snapped the line. The only other thing I think it could have been was a neutrally buoyant piece of driftwood moving in the current but as I said it changed direction a few times. Maybe there were eddies or other things causing current changes under the surface and I was fooled into thinking it was a fish or turtle but it sure seemed as if the line were being drawn out by somehting slow and determined. Whatever it was, it was heavy and I still think it was alive the way it first made the rod tip dance when it got hooked. Oh well, whatever it was is most likely still in the lake unless someone else reeled it in.
After that I headed out and back toward Phoenix. I made a short stop at Goldfield, supposedly a real mining ghost town. It may have once been a mine town and maybe even once was a ghost town but now it is a tourist trap. Not bad though as tourist traps go. It is worth a brief stopover if you are passing it on the Apache Trail.
As for tomorrow - no fishing - but hopefully some shooting and a visit to the outdoor expo at Ben Avery Shooting Facility north of Phoenix.
All the best,
Friday, March 26, 2010
Ballseye's Guns Shots 51 - Rumors of Marlin Firearms' Demise Possibly & Hopefully Premature
Hopefully this will not cause an ultimate closure of all marlin operations. They make some really good guns. I won at least two of them right now and have owned at least two others in the past. It would be a real crying shame if the best lever action rifles available to the regular working guy/gal were to be taken off of the market (then again it would be a shame to lose any of their products since they make some good semi-autos and bolt actions too). Their rifles have been appreciated by shooters for many a year and the fact that have made quality firearms that shoot where you aim can be attested to by this statement:
"The company says its lever action 22 repeater was a favorite gun of Annie Oakley."
If they were good enough for Little Sure Shot, you can bet they are good enough for me. I hope they stay in business. If I win the Mega Millions for a huge take someday, maybe I'll by the company and send it back to New Haven where it belongs.
All the best,
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I Am Going Out Shooting This Weekend
As a matter of fact, I bought 150 rounds of 9mm ammo today with this weekend's shooting in mind. That - combined with another 100 or so rounds I have on hand - should make for a relaxing day shooting especially since I plan to make every shot count. As far as what I will be targeting - I would like to hit things that jump around when I shoot em. Things like empty plastic water jugs, full water jugs with water with food coloring in hem, golf balls, tin cans, tethered balloons all make really fun targets. Problem is I don't know of any place around here where I can do that legally or safely. I probably could go way out in the desert on public land and do it but I'll have to check on that first.
So it winds up like this, I am thinking of the range and bringing the black targets. You know the ones, they spew greenish yellow stuff all over the black target area when you hit em so you know you were on the mark. Shoot and See or Shoot N'c or something like that. My guess is I will go to Ben Avery and probably fire of every round I have with me once I get set up there with my Glock 26. Of course, if I can scrounge up some .40 S&W rounds I will also fire off them from my issued SIG 229. If that still does not do the trick of getting me to my own personal Nirvana, I may also shoot the
I don't know if it is just exercising good marksmanship, or making the mind and body work together in harmony to achieve it, or simply number of times I fire, or maybe just how long I am at it, or maybe even the aroma of spent primers and gunpowder in the air, or a combination of it all but somehow shooting makes me feel good and relaxes me beyond the scope of most of my other pastimes. It is my own personal best form of stress relief. Meditation or Yoga or running 5 miles or lifting weights - or a game of tennis - or whatever else just don't do it for me. Shooting is my way to achieve self discipline, enjoy a sport, enjoy a hobby and get some stress relief all in one activity. I don't mean I don't do other things. I am back into working out regularly, I go for walks, I love fishing, I like to blog, I have other hobbies and on and on. Yet, it is shooting that just makes me feel great even if I was feeling really crappy before starting out - the other things just can't compare. Mind you now, I do not mean feeling crappy as in being too tired too shoot safely - I would never shoot for sport or food when in an impaired condition either because of fatigue or something like alcohol use. If I am feeling that bad I'll take a nap before doing anything else. As to feeling crappy before a shoot, I do mean feeling less than jolly, maybe even feeling miserable mentally such as one gets from a way too rough day or week at work or when something has been on your mind and you need a diversion, and sometimes even feeling a but run down physically (but not overly tired as I said above). Shooting is the diversion for me that makes me feel better.
Of course, there are other reasons I shoot. I shoot because I enjoy it as a sport. I shoot because I want to be a capable shot when I hunt. I shoot to be able to defend myself and my family capably with a firearm because I intend to exercise my right to self defense, and defense of family, if ever need be again as I have done in the past. I also shoot because it is an integral part of my employment. Most of all I shoot because it is fun to shoot - more so when someone I know shoots with me - and especially when it is my son. I am still trying to get my daughter back into it and to get my wife into it, that would be grand indeed - shooting is a great family activity. Well, if nothing else this week - I am looking forward to the weekend and a good day at the range.
Edited on 03/25/2010 to add: I forgot one reason that I love to shoot. it pisses off the anti-gun crowd no end. That pleases almost as much as anything else about it.
All the best,
Monday, March 22, 2010
Watch And Listen - We Are Becoming Socialists
Watch this brief video. Listen to it. Remember what Obama has been all about but the left has denied all along and that is about SOCIALISM.
Remember what Congresswoman Waters said about Socializing Oil Companies - she said it then tried to flub it over.
Then watch this video again and again and again and realize this is the truth finally out in the open from someone I believe to be a die hard supporter of most things un-American!
Don't forget this - remember it in November and vote based upon this and the actions of the current administration.
Vote in November, vote to defeat socialism in the U.S.A.!
Sunday, March 21, 2010
She Got It Right...
And to think, I was in church praying for, among other things, this not to be passed. Yeah - me - I went to an 8PM Compline in a local cathedral and actually prayed and meditated. Go figure. I may continue praying because this development scares me. Why? Because if they passed this by 7 votes, imagine what they will do on so called Immigration Reform, or on Gun Control, or on government control of the Internet, or on Welfare Reform, or on Increasing Taxes and on and on and on.
All the best (but I don't really expect it under this administration),
All the best,
Trying My hand At Cooking Lately and...
I have to tell you that my efforts at playing chef yesterday were well worth the wait, through the couple of hours of me being tortured by the wonderful wafting aromas and my salivating expectantly, while I while I prepared my lunchtime meal. There are many good things in life that we take for granted but good tasting meals are not among them, at least in my case. I have been away from home too many times and have eaten some pretty lousy food here there and everywhere, and I have seen to many people who go without, so when I have a good meal I am quite thankful for it and happy about it. If I cooked it myself it is even better.
Yesterday's meal was quite delicious, and while the pictures may not do it justice, let me assure you such was the case. It consisted of a brace of salt and garlic powder rubbed, pepper encrusted, pork tenderloin roasts cooked with chunks of sharp yellow onions in the pan. For starch I whipped up a German style potato salad much the same as my wife makes at home. I used gold Yukon potatoes, a large cucumber (thinly sliced) and a fairly a large sweet Chilean yellow onion (diced). I combined all of the salad ingredients with a super secret salad dressing and must say that the end result rivaled those of when my wife prepares her potato salad (but yet was different because of the dressing). I also steamed some broccoli in butter (made in the microwave though I have made it in a covered pan or pot before). I use only butter - no water, when doing it in the microwave, and it comes out tasting divine but you must experiment with any given microwave oven so as not to overcook. It really was all very delicious and I almost cannot wait until dinner time tonight so I can enjoy some of the leftovers! Mmm-mmm good.
Of course, my meal would not have been complete without a fine tasting beverage. I decided that something pretty much icy cold would do the trick and opted for a Belgian Style Abbey Ale. These stout ales are great with hearty fare yet simple table fare and can really compliment the meal. I chose Ommegang Abbey Ale crafted by Brewery Ommegang. In this case, it was no exception that a heavy abbey ale would go well with this sort of a meal and the Ommegang was the perfect compliment to the dishes I prepared. Ommegang Abbey Ale is one of my favorite ales from around the world and believe me I have imbibed ales of nearly every description from various of countries. What may surprise you then is that this one is brewed right here in the US of A and even more surprisingly it is brewed in upstate NY near Cooperstown. In fact, it is one of my favorites among all of the beers and ales I have ever drank. It may even be my all time favorite though the jury is still out on that one because of my love for certain German weisse biers. I can say, without a doubt, it is my favorite American beer or ale by a long shot.
When I get home in April, I will start cooking there at least once a week. I think my wife might like that - especially since I have been cleaning up as I go along (much easier to do when you cook simple dishes). I know I will enjoy most of the things I cook and so will Brendan. The hard sells maybe Celina and Linda, but if it tastes as good as it did yesterday then I expect some compliments in the form of empty plates and everyone asking for seconds. I think Linda will really be surprised when she tastes my German potato salad. Time will tell.
All the best,
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Death & Taxes - A Question of Balance
A big help in getting it done was my using an online tax preparation service. I use TaxAct Online. I do not know how they compare to others such as Turbo Tax or H&R Block but I can say they make it pretty easy. That is they make it easy at least for us if only because we do not have a lot of deductions or credits and no investment incomes or other things that require special attention, not yet anyway. I dread seeing what happens after I retire. All in all it took me about 2 hours (give or take). Our tax returns have been electronically submitted to the IRS and to NY State. I should be receiving confirmations from them within 24 to 48 hours. With any luck a refund from each should be deposited to our checking account within a couple of weeks. It was fairly painless and only cost $17.95 to electronically file both federal and state returns.
Speaking of refunds, it seems I cannot strike a balance with my income taxes each year. I would like to have it work out that I owe nothing and the state and federal governments owe me nothing. Now, I realize that such would be a fine tuned balance indeed but in reality I would like to come close to that. With our state taxes this was about right both this and last year. Last year we owed $29.00 to the state. Not bad at all. This year they owe us $75.00, again not bad at all - I don't mind them having what amounts to about $1.44 per week too much from my withholding. Our state taxes seem to be getting paid in just about the perfect amount in deductions as the year goes by. Our federal taxes are a different story. Last year we owed. I cannot recall how much but think it was at least a few to several hundred dollars. This year they owe us several hundred dollars, about $750 or so. That works out to about $29 too much being withheld every two weeks (my wife and I are paid biweekly). We made changes in withholding to make sure that enough federal tax would be withheld in 2009 because too little was withheld in 2008; I guess we overestimated and they got too much in 2009. I do not mind a refund but I hate letting the government have more of my money than they are supposed to have when it could have been in my own pocket getting spent on something or going into a savings account and earning interest. I don't know about you but for me $29 every two weeks can translate to drinking money for a week, money for ammo for a range day (well surely not a whole lot of ammo), or maybe for a meal for me and the wife at a local pub or restaurant once per month. It would have been better had they owed us only a few dollars as opposed to several hundred because I could have used the money as the year progressed.
I am not upset about it though, a refund coming as a lump sum will get applied to one good use or another all at once and that makes it okay. Still though, the feeling that the government had several hundred of our dollars, and still has it, and has used it however they wanted to without paying us interest, is disheartening - especially when you consider the current administration holds the purse strings. Oh well, one way to solve that will be to use the refund on a feel good purchase for Linda and me. Maybe I will put it toward a vacation. That would be nice. The thing is though, I need to figure out how to get my withholding balanced with what I will actually owe to the state and to the IRS. With my small raise this year, and with new tax laws, and with fewer deductions than in the past, and with this or that or another thing that comes up related to taxes, I just don't know how to accomplish that. Any suggestions on how to foresee how much I will owe and how much I should have them withholding??? I was thinking of a Ouija Board or Tarot cards but decided maybe I would use the Magic 8 Ball instead of either of the others Yeah, I know, the Magic 8 Ball only gives answers to questions that can be answered by a yes or now answer but I figured it was worth a try so I asked it this:
"Is it possible to balance my income tax withholding with what I will actually owe in income taxes next year?"
Here is its answer to me: "Definitely".
Now I wish someone could tell me how to make it so!
All the best,
References: I could give you a link to the IRS since this rant was about taxes but I will leave that to the tax professionals and do you one better. I will give you a reference or three about the Magic 8 Ball and maybe that way you can get your taxes done better than ever before - who knows! (If you actually depend on the Magic 8 Ball to do your taxes you are loonier than I.)
Friday, March 19, 2010
A Letter To My Representatives In Congress On Health Care Reform
I urge you to vote NO on Health Care Reform! I am a registered voter. I guarantee that I will never vote for you should you vote yes for health care reform, nor will I donate a single penny to any of your campaigns if you vote yes for health care reform. That is not a threat, that is a fact! I find it despicable that the Congress and President will be exempt from the provisions of this bill, furthermore I find it a disgrace as to how much this will increase the deficit and finally and most importantly I find it absolutely un-American as to how this will socialize medical care in this country and how much closer it will move us to becoming a socialized nation. If you vote yes for this bill you will not be an American ever again in my eyes. There will be no regretting it for you that will result in sympathy from the people for you, there will be no saying you’re sorry that will get you a reprieve - there will be no going back. A yes vote for this bill will show beyond a doubt that you are a socialist and un-American.
I sent those off today via email. doubt they will make any difference at all with my representatives being about as liberal as they come. Yet, when the revolution comes, maybe they will remember how many letters, emails and phone calls they got of this type that urged them to avoid the path to socialism. Did I just mention revolution - yes I did. I am not advocating it but am pretty sure it is coming - hopefully it will be bloodless and without violence - hopefully all through lawful elections in which a new party or even the Republican party takes over by a huge majority. I fear though that it will be worse than that because of how brazenly our current elected officials are trashing our way of life, our economy, our laws, our will and our Constitution and are becoming openly un-American and tyrannical. I believe it is intolerable for the American people and thus that a revolution of some sort is on its way.
All the best,
Thursday, March 18, 2010
CONTACT YOUR CONRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE AND SENATORS...
ALL THE BEST,
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Gone Drinking - this blog closed for St. Patrick's Day!
Don't get too drunk.
Use a designated driver or public transportation.
Stay safe and keep others that way too.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Weight Loss and Fitness Wanted - Attitude Adjustment Needed...
Back to tonight. This evening I went over to the local YMCA and joined up for a one month trial membership. The rate was amazingly reasonable for a full gym, pool membership at only $45. That is not a come on rate either, their recurring payment by the month membership is only $43 per month. I hit the treadmill right after joining. I ran and walked a total of 3.6 miles. I will pay for the treadmill time, my hips already ache. They will get much worse over the next month but I think I can cope with that if I split running and walking so long as I do a good deal of it at a fair incline. I do not know why but when I hiked in the mountains my hips rarely bothered me. Yet if I do likewise on a treadmill or on the street I wind up in agony. Go figure but don't tell me it is in my head. I definitely have hip problems with burs and arthritis. Something about the unevenness of the trail maybe combined with the incline and declines of hiking - whatever it is it is amazing how little all that effects my hips like a treadmill will do.
Well, after the treadmill, I did a few exercises on the machines. I will pay for that too in my shoulders in the beginning. I did a few free weight exercises too, everything I did was arms and back. I will alternate each time I exercise (chest, shoulders and legs next time). I plan to workout at least 3 times per week, but if I get it right, I will go at least 5 days a week and maybe even every day for cardio. I have been dieting somewhat - just a lot less snacks than I eat when back home. With the exercise added I expect that I will lose about 2 pounds per week. I am basing that on what happened in the Spring; my blog post on May 14 or 15th had me down 15 pounds in about 7 weeks. I will admit my hikes then were strenuous but sometimes i only hiked once per week. I would hike more here but the trails I have found do not compare to those near Tucson, and there are none just a mile and half from my apartment here as there was from my hotel in Tucson. Driving to a hiking place near Phoenix sucks and the trails lack the elevation I got to hike near Tucson and Madera Canyon. Oh well, there may only a few more hikes in my future before I leave here but there is definitely a lot of treadmill time and maybe some pool time along with weight training time coming up for me during the next 29 days. I am pretty certain that when I lose the weight this time I will not put it on again like last time starting as soon as I got home. Just a better mindset now than then, killing off some of my own personal Monsters From The Id (a la Forbidden Planet, 1956) has had something to do with that, I am sure of it.
All the best,
Sunday, March 14, 2010
An Excellent Day To Go Shooting...
I got to the range just before 11:30, checked in and then had to wait about 10 minutes, at most, for a shooting lane. The range was pretty packed, what with the nice weather and all; still though, 10 minutes was okay by me. Once in the range and during the next cease fire (about another 5 minutes) I set up my target at the 15 yard line. I had some new Aguila .22LR ammo, both Standard Velocity and High Velocity rounds, with me today and wanted to try them out in my Henry Survival Rifle. I also had those shoot n' see targets. I was pretty impressed with my shooting the Henry today. While I got some groups with which I was not all that happy, I also got some groups that were great for me with that particular gun. That was with the Aguila Standard Velocity and with CCI Standard velocity. The Aguila High Velocity was another story. I shot well enough with it at 15 yards but when I later moved my target to 25 yards the group spread out by about 3x the size of the one I had at 15 yards. On the other hand, with the Aguila Sand CCI Standard velocity ammo I was able to maintain a pretty good group at 25 yards for this rifle. There was no doubt that had I had a bead on a squirrel at 25 yards there would have been dinner for the pot and most likely head shot dinner at that. I got a couple of groups about the size of a nickel at 15 yards and a couple of others about the size of a half dollar at the 25 yard line. That was with the standard velocity stuff. The high velocity ammo just was not on the mark anywhere near as well at either distance though it was passable at 15 yards.
I also shot my Glock 26 and my issued Sig 229 (double action only). I did alright with both of them but for some reason was shooting fairly high at 15 yards and somewhat high at 25 yards with the Glock today. This is unusual for me and I am wondering if anything about the ammo or the gun was causing this. Even from the bench with my hands supported by a carpet covered wood block my shots were going pretty high at 15 yards. Maybe it was me but as I said that was pretty unusual for me so I will give the pistol a good check-up when I clean it tonight. I shot a bit low with the Sig, only about an inch under where I was aiming, and that was only after I exhausted my supply of 155 grain ammo and then switched to newly issued 180 grain ammunition. It took only a minor adjustment of how I held on target for me to correct that and it should not be a problem. That was only at 15 yards and did not happen at 25 yards. At 25 yards I was pretty much right on as far as elevation went. I am estimating I shot about 125 rounds of .22LR, 175 rounds of .40 S&W and 200 rounds of 9MM.
The whole experience was a pleasant one from check in, to set up, through shooting, to departure. The range officer who was down at my end, and I was almost all the way at one end on shooting point 62 (it goes up to 67), was an elderly gentleman with great manners and respect for the shooters. I did not hear him yell at one person for getting something wrong as range officers often do the first time they see a minor infraction of range rules. Instead, he corrected folks nicely although there was one person nearby who kept screwing up the same thing regarding range safety and probably needed the decibel level raised a bit to have it sink in. While he seemed about to lose patience with that shooter, he managed to remain a gentleman while admonishing her about her lack of safety. Had it been me as range officer, her ears would have hurt after she screwed up the third time in a row; in fact I might have removed her from the range. Oh well, I guess he kept his eye on her pretty good and she did finally get it right although I don't think he would have remained calm had he had to correct her again. Nice to see range officers actually paying attention to the shooters and making sure they are keeping things safe for everyone and doing it nicely too.
Speaking of being nice, I did my good deed for the day while at the range. I saw a young lady holding a semi-auto pistol with the thumb of her weak hand crossed over the thumb of her strong hand while shooting. The only reason the slide did not take a bite out of it was because she was holding the grips down way too low. Had she moved up just a bit, she likely would have felt the bite of the slide as it would have raked across the knuckle of her left thumb. I told her boyfriend and he got to it right away and corrected her. They seemed pretty happy I told them about this. I am often leery to give advice at the range but this seemed harmless enough and proved to be welcome.
Now that the fun part of the day is over it is time for more mundane things like laundry, gun cleaning and getting stuff ready for work tomorrow. Of course, dinner time is almost upon me and as soon as the laundry is all in the drier I think I will be off for a bite to eat. Thinking of the George & Dragon Restaurant & Pub for tonight, they have a wide variety of pub and traditional British foods.
All the best,
Friday, March 12, 2010
Want To Do List
All of those things I have been missing got me to thinking about what exactly I want to do when I get back home. Heck you miss a lot when you have been away from home for over 7 months out of a year and that is what it will be, all combined, by the time I get back so I have lots of catching up to do. Not only did I start thinking about what I want to do as soon as I can when I get back but I expanded it to thinking about what I'd like to do within about the next year or so. With that in mind I will give you my list and mind you it is a realistic wish list. All of these things are within my reach so I am truly hoping to do most of them. You can join in, either in the comments section, or in your own blog, if you want or not as you see fit.
My To Do List For The Next Year:
Have a happy home coming with my family.
Get along better with my wife.
Go out to a nice dinner with my family at least twice a month.
Visit my mom at least biweekly, weekly when I can.
Attend my daughter's graduation and see her receive her Master's Degree.
Start and stick with an exercise program.
Lose about 35 to 40 pounds.
Walk the dogs at least once per day (hmm, does that qualify as exercise).
Visit old friends in the old neighborhood and try my best to visit them once every month.
Buy myself a new rifle.
Start a crested gecko breeding project.
Have a new floor put in in my living room.
Convince my wife we should move out of NY when I retire.
Visit Las Vegas on vacation with my wife.
Attend an NRA Law Enforcement Instructor Development School (where else but in Las Vegas).
Find and buy a retirement home.
Start a 2nd career.
Write a book (at least get it well started within the next year).
Go on a deep sea fishing trip with my son and daughter.
Go camping at least a half dozen times over the summer/fall.
Get to upstate NY and do some backpacking hikes at least biweekly over the summer.
Stock up on survival supplies to be prepared for at least a one month hardship.
Buy a new car.
Visit my aunt and uncle in Florida.
Take my nephew on a camping trip.
Scout out a really excellent deer hunting spot.
Be there to see my son take his first whitetail deer.
Get a new computer.
Get to the shooting range at least monthly.
Talk my daughter into coming to the range with me and Brendan.
Talk my wife into it too.
Have some friends over to dinner.
Shoot my first turkey (hopefully in time for Thanksgiving dinner).
Have family over to dinner more often.
Start baking again.
Cook at least one nice meal weekly.
Plant and tend the vegetable garden.
Reseed my front and back lawn.
Enjoy the fruit from my Mulberry tree.
Get a male Hermann's tortoise for my female.
Search for treasure with my metal detector.
Enjoy a movie with my family at least once a week.
Have surgery to remove a cyst in my neck.
If that goes well, have surgery on my right shoulder to relieve my bursitis and repair the rotator cuff.
Buy a handloading kit and start reloading ammunition.
Visit the Bronx Zoo this spring.
Chop down two dying trees in my backyard.
Take my wife to a Broadway show.
Pig out in Chinatown (in NYC).
Visit St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Visit Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.
Get myself a new camera.
Get my income tax returns done on time.
Well, that's it. Not a huge list for a year but enough things to keep me busy mixed in with everything else in life. It is also a manageable list of things that I truly hope to accomplish. Hopefully I'll keep track and let you know how I have done after a year has passed. I am not going to start most of this until I get back home from Phoenix but I had best get working on my income taxes really soon.
All the best,
Monday, March 8, 2010
Keeping An Edge...
Looking for the better way I went out and purchased a few different new age knife sharpeners that utilize crossed carbide blades, that in essence form a V, through which you simply run the knife while holding it vertically - edge down and spine up - and pull it through the sharpener so the edge runs through the V. After a few passes you then use the ceramic rods, also in a basic V shape, to put a finer edge on the blade. They work great for a lot of knives but always use the same exact angle for any blade run through it. Remember I just indicated that changing the angle at which you sharpen can change how long a blade will hold its edge from one sharpening to the next and that is not optimal - so wouldn't it be good to only use one angle? Nope. You see, sharpening all types of blades at the same exact angle as one another is also not good. This is because sharpening a utility knife requires a different angle against the stone as compared to the angle for a kitchen knife as compared to that for a hunting knife. They all require different angles from that required by the other type for each to obtain the optimal edge. Then you need to maintain that particular angle for each hunting knife, and he other angle for each kitchen knife and so on. Sure, some folks can do that and come out with finely honed knives each and every time. Like I said though, I can get a nice edge but all to often wind up scratching the sides of the blades or just not getting an edge that last as long as it should. So how is it that you, or I, can do it just right each and every time without just relying on line of sight, guesswork and luck when you are almost all thumbs like me.
The answer was developed many years ago and has been on the market for decades. I remember a fellow agent using one way back when I was in the Border Patrol in Calexico, CA and that was at least 26 years ago, well at least a similar product but it was made by Lansky as I recall. As a matter of fact, the company who makes these started selling their products the year I started government service in the Border Patrol - 1979. All throughout the years of my career, I have often thought of getting myself one but I suppose I just never thought enough of the knives I sharpen and knife sharpening to go out and buy one. Then this Christmas it wound up on my wish list and lo and behold there it was under the tree come Christmas Day. My son Brendan was really nice and bought me that and a nice Victorinox Huntsman folding knife. The it I am hinting at is a Lansky Knife Sharpening System; Brendan got me the deluxe model.
The deluxe version comes with 5 sharpening hones. Each hone is permanently attached to a plastic base that is color coded. A guide rod is inserted into the base, levelled with it, then tightened in place with a screw that is part of the base. There are 5 guide rods included. Nice thing is you can set up all 5 honing stone bases with a guide rod at once so when you want to switch stones you do not have to take a guide rod out of one and put it into another base since all can be ready to go. Once the rods are set properly in the hone bases the knife is then paced into a provided clamp. The clamp has 4 differently positioned guide holes through which the guide rod is placed and depending on which hole you use you get a particular angle at which the hone will then be guided over the blade. You use the right hole for the particular type of blade you wish to sharpen or the particular angled edge you want to put on any knife. You hold the clamp with blade firmly secured in its jaws, then run the honing stone over it in a sort of angled sweeping motion over a small portion of the knife's edge and move along the blade until the length of it has had likewise done to it. Then you flip over the clamp and do the other side of the blade's edge in a likewise manner. The angled guide holes assure you maintain proper angle as you sharpen the knife. The 4 different angles afforded by the guide holes allow you to put the proper edge on various types of knives such as hunting, Exacto, utility, general purpose and kitchen knives. The instruction manual tells you which angle to use for various types of knives.The 5 different hones allow you to start with coarse stone to quickly achieve an edge even on a pretty dull knife and then work you way to the medium through finer stones as you go along until you reach the perfect the edge. There is also a spare tightening screw for the plastic bases of the hones and one spare screw for the clamp (only one despite the fact it takes two different types of screw). A small bottle of honing oil is included in the kit. Everything is packed away in a small plastic carrying case. Everything fits quite neatly into the case. My only peeve is that the carry case is the very cheap type, one piece molded plastic, meaning its hinge is simply a piece of plastic which will break over time from it bending back and forth as you open and close it. Besides what came in my kit, there are several accessories you can buy for the Lansky Knife Sharpening System. Some of these include: a universal clamp mount/base that can be used as a portable or permanently attached base (can be attached to a work table), a pedestal clamp base/mount, various hones such as natural Arkansas stone or diamond faced hones, and a field carrying case (made of Cordura nylon).
It has taken me quite a while before trying it out. I used the sharpening system only about a week ago for the very first time. I tried it out on a couple of the kitchen knives in my temporary quarters while here in Phoenix. It took a little getting used to to hold the clamp right and move the hones over the blades as per the instructions but I had it down within a few passes of the hone. I found out you need to be careful - even if you do it just like they tell you, your hand can be in a position to get sliced as you pass the hone over the blade if you get lax. As opposed to holding the knife in your hand and running it over the stone, you are holding the stone and running it over the knife. just make sure none of your flesh is hanging over the sides of the hone and in the path of the blade. If you are careful all should go well. If you want to see a video on how to do it - click here.
The end results of my sharpening efforts were some darned nicely sharpened kitchen knives with no scratches on the sides of the blades. They had a pretty sharp edge too and I used only 3 of the 5 stones provided. I then sharpened my Buck Bantam 285. I used all of the stones on it. Once done, I was fairly confident you could shave with it - after testing it on my arm hair I was convinced. Once again, no scratches on the sides of the blade and the edge looked pretty uniform over the length of it. Next thing you know, I'll be ready to sharpen my Spyderco Bill Moran - FB01 on it.
In all, I am a happy man who is quite content with his new knife sharpening system. I foresee my blades being somewhat easier to sharpen, with more uniform edges, and that hold an edge longer thus necessitating less sharpening over the long haul. In addition it is all small enough to bring along on most types of trips that I make such as hunting or fishing trips. To top it all, it only retails for around $40 and can be had at places like sporting goods stores or online at retailers like SMKW. What is not to like about a sharpening system like that - I love it.
All the best,
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Went Out To Grab a Bite...
Once I finished up and headed outside I had the passing thought of heading over to the movie theater at the Arizona Center after eating, but as luck would have it, it started pouring out just after I left the pub. So, I headed to my apartment instead. I got about two blocks from the Turf, then it started to really pour, as in buckets. By the time I had walked the few blocks to my apartment, I was soaked. This was definitely the heaviest downpour I have seen here in Phoenix while on this trip. Seems to be primarily a Sunday thing as of late - it has rained for the last three Sundays in a row. I guess I'll just have to download something from Netflix and I'll have to remember to keep that boonie rolled up in my pocket on Sundays.
All the best,
The Luck of the Draw...
...and as luck has it it is another soggy Sunday in Phoenix. Hoping to get some planned shooting in today, I called Ben Avery Shooting Facility and although they were open they would only remain open until three. It was already 1245 but figured I would give it a try anyway. I did not get on the road until about 1:15 and was guessing it would take me about 35 minutes to get there. That would leave me all of a bit over and hour to shoot - not a lot but I wanted to shoot today. Just before hitting the Indian School Road exit on I-17, I remembered that Shooter's World was virtually right off that exit but I was unsure of the exact location. I exited there and tried my GPS. I tried a few searches by name, under all recreation, and using the word Range. There was no listing for Shooter's World in any way, shape or form. Great another 5 minutes wasted. Then the light bulb turned on and I remembered Free 411. So I called it (1-800-FREE 411). They had the number and the address 3828 28th Avenue. I was already nearby but had to drive about 5 minutes to get what would only have been a block or so because I had to go around a canal. When I got there I saw the parking lot was full and cars were arriving every few seconds and a small crowd was gathered outside the front doors. I did not even get out of my car but did give them a call while staying dry inside of it. I was told there would be an hour and a half wait for a shooting lane! So much for that. I headed back to the freeway and realized that it was already about 1:45 - where had the time gone - and that even if I made it up to Ben Avery I would have less than an hour to shoot. So I just turned around and headed elsewhere. No place in particular but I did get some shopping done for some essentials.
I am back at my apartment now doing laundry, and thinking about how to kill the rest of the day. It may be a good night for a movie - for some reason the theater close by to me never seems crowded rain or shine. I think though that right now, I'll walk up the block and grab a hot cup of Joe, relax at the cafe and enjoy the weather from inside looking out.
All the best,
Saturday, March 6, 2010
I have walked up and down Roosevelt Street from Central to 7th several times during the three First Fridays through which I have been here so far. The first two of them, one in January then one in February, were fairly well attended. Several hundred, if not a thousand people were doing likewise each time. Last night though was different, there had to have been thousands of people there for sure. It was mobbed. I don't know what made last night's FF different than the others, it was not warmer or cooler out, the weather was pleasant as it had been for the others. It is not a holiday weekend or anything like that. There was nothing unusual in the offering among the many street vendors and the street performers were pretty much the regular thing you would expect to see at a street fair. Yet, it was mobbed.
I did not go directly there from my apartment, I skirted around it up to 3rd Street and went to a credit union ATM machine to get some cash. I had a purchase in mind and wanted to make sure I had the cash to pay for it. After I got my cash I headed back toward Roosevelt in between 1st Street and Central to look for Aleta Welling's booth. She is a local artist, a painter, who paints mainly surreal fantasy works. At the fair she sell prints made from her works. I like surrealism but have never even considered buying any for my home until I saw hers. Then again, I wasn't really considering a piece of surreal art last night either. Instead, my aim this time was on something more along the lines of a piece of Operatic art. The print I was interested in buy was a copy of one of Aleta's oil paintings (the original was already sold) called The Lady of the Woods. Her painting is in essence a copy of something she had seen once upon a time and that immediately struck her as worth the time, effort, paint to put on canvass. The something she had seen was an Opera Poster from the early 1900s.
Well, when I got to where Aleta's booth should have been - it was not. I walked all the way up to Central and did not see her. I did an about-face and started looking on both sides of the street figuring maybe she had to move her location because there were some new vendors in evidence. Then suddenly, almost as if by some magic out of a surreal scene, the crowds parted and there she was right where she was supposed to have been. You see, I missed her the first time because the crowd was so large. There were so many people in and around her small both when I went by it the first time that I simply did not, could not, see it.
As I walked into her booth, I caught her eye and said something like: I see you brought along the large one tonight. She was a bit flummoxed until she saw me looking at The Lady of the Woods print she had hanging on the left just as you would enter her booth. A smile lit up her face and she asked/said: "So you're the one.... I had stopped by her booth a couple of times on each of the previous FF's I had attended and then had written her a couple of emails inquiring about the availability of the original (yes I was pretty taken by this painting and beleive me my camera flash did not do it justice) and about availability of different sizes of the prints once I found out the original was already sold. I think most of her other works are great too, but I sure did like this one the most. It seems others feel the same way she told me this is one of her best selling prints. I just like it because it reminds me of several things in life that I enjoy: hunting, Greek mythology goddess of the hunt type things, The Hobbit (even though woman played only a small role in the book), mother nature, the forests and their serenity, wood nymphs and the like. There is also something else the print will always remind me of when I look at it and that would be the artist, you see even though she claims it is not - it could be a self portrait. The resemblance between the subject of the painting and the artist is remarkable. Aleta thought this a great compliment because she considers the woman in the painting very beautiful although I figure that this was equally complimentary to the woman in the painting because Aleta is stunning herself. Anyway the resemblance is there.
I wound up buying a 16x20 print that is on stretched canvass and ready for framing. I had debated buying the 8x10 size but the larger one just is so much more outstanding. here of course was a slight dilemma in making m selection. On one hand I could get the one that looked better because of its size and on the other I could get the one that would be much easier for me to take home when i leave Phoenix at the end of my assignment here. I am pretty sure I will be allowed to carry the print on the plane with me as carry-on but I am somewhat concerned of it getting torn or otherwise ruined during my travels. I guess time will tell if it will eventually hang in my home in one piece.
To tell you the truth, I cannot remember the last piece of art I bought as far as paintings go. The most artsy things I can think of having bought in recent years were Hummels for my wife and a very pretty vase or two. There was just something about this one though that said take me home. So I bought it. That may be indicative of another side of me, one that I have not dealt with all that often, but that I would not mind seeing more of out and about. Now I have to overcome the trip home with it, then and more importantly I have to hope my wife likes it. Chances are she won't and will be wondering what on earth had me buying a print showing a woman, for some unknown reason holding antlers on her head. So to the basement it probably will be relegated but that is okay - I already have a place for it in mind and the basement is kind of my private retreat anyway. Of course, I may be surprised and Linda may love it, it which case it may wind up in the living room or dining room. My guess is that searching for and selecting just the right frame for it could be something both of us might enjoy. I hope so.
If you would like to see some samples of her works click here.
All the best,
Friday, March 5, 2010
This was the first time I had dealings with KeepShooting.com. It was a pretty pleasant experience as far as ordering shooting supplies, or anything else for that matter, goes over the Internet. So, I give a hat tip to KeepShooting.com. I will shop with them again.
All the best,
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Ballseye's Gun Shots 50 - Pre-Ban, Hi-Cap, Magazines - It's A Chore To Find Them but...
Now, if you are at all familiar with firearms that are capable of using high capacity magazines you probably realize that there used to be a similar federal ban on high capacity magazines that went into effect under
Take for example my two visits to gun shows since I have been on temporary assignment in Phoenix. The first time around I picked up two so called 'pre-ban' 30rd AK magazines from a dealer at said show. He assured me they were pre-ban. I never shopped for these mags before except maybe once and knew little about them. These were the best looking ones he had, in almost pristine condition. I have seen military surplus like that before, and I figured why would this guy lie to me to make a $30.oo sale and take a chance of investigated later on if I had problems because of them. So I bought them after telling him I would be bringing them back to NY and they absolutely had to be pre-ban mags. As it turns out, I cannot find any reference on the Internet to magazines that look like these as being pre-ban. Maybe they are and maybe not - but I have seen similar ones sold as post-ban. Whoops. That is okay for now because they are legal in AZ even if they are post ban. If I find out for sure they are post ban or even if it remains very questionable about them being pre-ban or not, I will not bring them back to NY. I will sell them here before I leave.
Sadly, I did not realize that those magazines might be post-ban until after this past Sunday. You see on Sunday, I went to my second gun show here in Phoenix and guess whom I bought two additional pre-ban AK 30rd magazines from this time. Yep, the same guy. These were different magazines and are blued steel. They were labelled as:
MAGAZINE CENT ARMS ROMANIAN AK 30RD 010
(A BAR CODE)
He said they were pre-ban. Other dealers had the same exact ones on sale, all hawking them as pre-ban magazines. I bought two of them. They were only about $14.00 each. With tax - $30 plus small change. Not bad. In NY these might go for as much as $40 to $50 each from a gun store. As I walked away from his tables with the mags, I realized he had given me two ten dollar bills as change from $40 I had given to him. I went back and told him, he thought he had given me two fives but I was sure he had not since I only had one five and that was my change from my admission fee. Otherwise I had all twenties and the two tens he gave me. He took one back and said thanks looking at me like I was a jerk but i felt okay about returning the excess to him.
I went online yesterday, simply interested in finding out more about pre versus post ban hi-cap magazines. I found a few interesting descriptions of AK magazines - not much about post versus pre but some. The best piece I found was on a site called Glock Talk - go figure! You can see it here. Well from what I can make out - the first two mags I bought are not listed there but his is not an all inclusive picture guide to AK mags. The second, the blued steel ones that I bought, are not as questionable as the gray ones. What makes them somewhat questionable is that although marked Romanian they do not appear the same as this guy's Romanian mags. Of course, I realize there are probably production differences throughout Romania. Being more confused than ever, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, I figured I would get some more knowledge and go to the source for these mags. Well, at least I would go to the US distributor. So I contacted Century International Arms by email in the wee hours of this morning. I was quite surprised they replied to me later this same day. That was quick. First they told me they did not know when they were imported and could not really help with legal issues. I clarified in a second email to them saying all I wanted to know was the manufacture date because I already knew that pre-ban are legal in NY State. They got right back to me again saying they were uncertain of the date of manufacture but that they were issue magazines and most likely pre-ban. Okay - so the dealer maybe got it right this time but is maybe good enough?
In the same wee hours of this morning, I also searched out pre-ban hi-cap AK mags for sale online. I actually found two places selling them at what seem fairly reasonable prices. I contacted the place that had them for less (a buck apiece less is a buck apiece less after all. That was KeepShooting.com, the online sales division of BTP Arms. I asked if they would deliver the mags they advertised as pre-ban 30rd AK mags to me in NY State. Their reply also came later today and was a simple: "Yes we do". This evening, after reading their reply, I ordered two of those magazines. I know that $17.95 each is not a great price, but these are being sold as pre-ban (shown as such on their website) and are being offered by a regular dealer with a business - so I figure that is good enough for me and ought to be good enough in NY for any authorities who might question me at a range or wherever. I also know that the price was not terrible. I would rather have paid what they are probably worth - about $10-$14 apiece - but you have to take em as you can find em and I found em at a decent enough price to take em - so I took em! I may buy more if these arrive as promised. I limited myself to 5 mags for the first purchase because I have never before dealt with this company. Time will tell if they are reliable.
As for the five magazines I ordered from KeepShooting.com, they are slated as European manufacture, metal (hopefully steel and they look to be blued steel), 30rd, AK, pre-ban magazines in excellent condition. You can see the web page for them here: http://www.keepshooting.com/firearmaccessories/magazines/ak4730rdmag.htm. Maybe you live in NY, or in another state, with similar Draconian laws. If you do, and if you need some pre-ban hi-cap AK mags now you have a potential source.
Now to find pre-ban hi-cap AR magazines for my son's new rifle. Something tells me this new task may not be as easy.
All the best,