Monday, March 31, 2008

Some Spring Tune-Up Target Shooting. Down On The Farm.

Talk About Knockdown Power!

Sunday morning. Target shooting. Down on family farm property.





My family has owned prime Kankakee Valley farmland in northwest Indiana for over 75 years. My grandfather bought it all and it’s now in my dad’s possession. He has been reaping the benefits of high corn prices lately. After decades of so-so returns, any small farmers that are still in business are finally turning a tidy profit. My dad has benefited from the CRP (The Conservation Reserve Program) and other government cheese over the years, but not a lot to speak of. Owning untillble land has it's rewards. It benefits the wildlife habitat too. That is the main intent of CRP.

This particular property is west of Roselawn, IN and south of Thayer, IN. in Newton County. About a 40 minute drive from Valpo.

That’s where we can set up a fine little temporary target range whenever we want to. It’s way out of the way. We don’t bother anybody and nobody bothers us. And it’s free.

Over the years I have invited firearm-owning co-workers from Chicago to come down to the farm in September when I hosted my annual day-long firearm festivals. Those city-boys just loved it. Most of them originally came from the country to make good bucks at the great urban cash-cow. But they missed the country life they left behind. They brought along some fine weapons too.

Dad sold off one parcel of land about ten years ago that contained 60 acres of heavily wooded marshland adjacent to the Kankakee river. It helped fund his retirement. It was bought by a duck hunting club for more than one should pay per acre for swamp land. Considering that places to hunt are becoming more rare these days those old boys got a damn good deal. But unfortunately that transaction also surrendered my most productive deer hunting property. Oh well. Dad’s happy.

My brother and I shot a lot of guns Sunday morning including my new Bersa Thunder 380. It was everything I expected it to be.

But the most fun gun to shoot is my Thompson Center .50cal Hawken-Style Muzzleloader (photos above, click to enlarge). Smoke, sparks, a huge bang along with destructive results. Talk about knockdown power! BAM!

Primitive firearms are not only very powerful they are a lot of fun to play with. They also mean business when hunting. I have been tempted over the years to buy a double-barrel side-by-side black powder shotgun, just for shit and giggles.

Photo

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More Nature

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I put up a photo of a couple of females the other day, why not one of this large male I saw yesterday? Maybe I won't have to buy a Butterball this year...

This photo taken one block up the street from my house. I am somewhat surprised that these turkeys are not camera shy at all. Last year when I was riding my bike on a path around here I happened upon six turkeys and they simply don't care that you want to get by them. They just keep walking around, minding their business.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Turn Out The Lights…The Party’s Over….

Ever heard of Earth Hour?


Earth Hour is intended to be a major public relations event that will last for one hour. It takes place tonight, March 29 2008, at 8pm central time. It looks to be designed as an annual occurance.

The first one was held last year in Australia. The stunt was initiated by the Gorebal Warming gasbags down-under who are trying to “raise awareness” of the coming climate catastrophe. The idea is to get everyone to turn off all lights for one hour. The intent is to "raise awareness" of rising temperatures caused by humans. They wanted to make a statement.

Here is a photo of a famous Australian landmark, the Sidney Opera House on a regular evening.


Here is a photo of the famous Australian landmark, the Sidney Opera House during last year’s Earth Hour.


See the difference? Awesome!

Making a statement has become very powerful stuff. Maybe they have little black lapel ribbons to show your personal concern along with bumper stickers for the back of your Toyota Pious hybrid too. It’s like swallowing a big gulp of Guilt-B-Gon® for the hand-wringing climate crusaders. This year the World Wildlife Federation is bringing this concept to U.S. and other nations are jumping on the wagon too.

It will definitely get coverage on the 10pm news. I bet there will be news chopper footage of darkened skyscrapers in major cities like Chicago. There will be a news dude or dudette on the street interviewing some concerned urban sheeple who will no doubt squeal with delight at this wondermous statement and at the same time expressing grave concerns about the environmental disaster to come. People like me who will look into the camera and laugh will no doubt be edited out of the broadcast. No agenda here, just move along.

Earth Hour brings out the skeptical curmudgeon in me. I was thinking why is Earth Hour taking place on a Saturday night at 8pm central after the time change instead of in January at 5pm on a Thursday? Now that would be a real statement. There is little business traffic on an urban Saturday night unless you count the night-spots and bars (I am hoping that Carl will cover the event with photos from his balcony). The schemers of Earth Hour obviously planed this wisely so they will have an easier time capturing images of darkened urban office complexes in order to exploit this turd. All the easier it will be for these fear merchants to claim it a success.

Earth Hour sure is heightening my awareness too, but in a different way. The more media crap I see like this confirms to me that it is a liberal political agenda at work and nothing more. To think that humans can control the atmosphere is mindless bunk and there are plenty of well known climate scientists who say the same.

The WWF is behind this event and they are using it to convince corporations into sponsoring it. In turn the corporations get to plaster their logos onto all things to do with Earth Hour, kind of like NASCAR.

The primary goal of the WWF Earth Hour is to gain mass media exposure and in turn deliver a warm, fuzzy ROI for the corporate sponsors like Hewlett-Packard. Even Google has jumped in bed with them. Since corporations are the sworn enemy of the anti-capitalist left and are constantly under attack in the media I can’t say that I blame them. To twist the old clichĂ©, politics makes strange bedwetters. The secondary goal for the WWF is to continue the ongoing drum-beat of their man-made hoax with one in a long line of PR stunts.


The sooner Algore and his socialist cronies are able to sell this hogwash into federal legislation the quicker it will be to further their agenda. With no hurricanes last summer and a longer than normal frigid winter for most of the country there’s not much evidence to make a case for man-made climate change except for some photos of lone polar bears floating on icebergs. As more time goes by this fraud will be exposed for what it is. That’s why they have walked away from the term “global warming and now refer to “climate change”. Warming causes cooling they are now known to claim.

To me conservation is a way of life. I want a clean environment and am totally against waste of any kind. I despise deliberate excessive pollution of the air, water and land. Litter makes me sick to see anywhere. What drives me is my love for the outdoors and an inbred sense of frugality.

For instance, at over $3. a gallon, gasoline does not get wasted by me but reusing a paper towel might be a bit extreme. I wonder if that goofball Sheryl Crow is still using only one sheet or toilet paper on her tight little behind as she suggested we all do the same?

Tonight I will turn off any and all lights not necessary here at my country bunker as I do each and every night. I won’t be doing it out of some politically imposed guilt, which doesn’t make sense to me. I will do it to save energy. That makes cents to me.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spring and Wildlife Comeback Follow Up

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Yesterday I posted about Spring and the comeback of wildlife in my area and I solicited comments from others in different areas of the country to see if their experiences are the same. It seems like a resounding "yes" (both at ChicagoBoyz and at Life in the Great Midwest). I am always amazed at how nature can adapt and thrive.

I received an email from Mike Doughty, who has given me permission to post it along with some amazing photos. We will get to that in a second. As an aside he also gave me permission to post his email address but I am loathe to post it for obvious reasons. If you are interested in emailing him, drop me a line here and I will forward his email address to you.

Some have mentioned that along with all of this new (or should I say, more plentiful) wildlife comes predators. True. A few months ago we had cougar sightings in Southern Wisconsin for the first time in about a century. They still don't know if it was a pet someone let loose or what, but my money says that it "hoofed it" (pawed it?) here from the woods in northern Wisconsin. Now we are getting more cougar sightings. With all of the deer we have, I think that eventually that will be one fat cougar. Either that or they have begun to reproduce already.

I think this is ultra cool and fascinating, but it worries me at the same time. I don't want my pets or (much worse) kids getting hunted by vicious big cats. You want to see some laws violated? If the cougar population goes up, EVERYBODY here in rural Wisconsin will be packing heat, especially farmers (Wisconsin is one of only two states that has not decriminalized conceal carry - the other state is Illinois). Personally, I think that livestock will be targeted by the cougars and that a farmer will simply shoot them and toss their carcasses into one of their fields before they can get steady footing. I sure would shoot it if I were a farmer and was losing livestock.

Wolves have already made somewhat of a comeback in the northern parts of the state, and I have even heard of moose and elk up there as well.

On to Mr. Doughty's email:

Good morning. I'm writing this as an email rather than as a comment on the Chicago Boyz blog because I've got some photos that I want to include.

I live in Colorado, in a development on the western edge of Colorado Springs, in what's known as an "urban-wildland interface". Here is a list of larger animals that I've seen from my deck or on the road up the hill to my house in the past year or so:

Deer on a daily basis
Fox
Wild Turkeys
Bobcats
Coyotes
Bears (actually ON my deck on a number of occasions)
Mountain Lions

All this within a 15 to 20 minute drive of the middle of downtown Colorado Springs. There is no doubt that wildlife is making a huge comeback in urban/suburban areas. Most people think this is great, as do I with the following reservation: When wildlife returns, predators soon follow. Here in our area, some people are growing increasingly concerned with lions. Here are photos taken this past Monday shortly after midnight outside the house of a guy that lives roughly a third of a mile (as the crow flies) from me. He has motion activated lights and cameras at various points around his home and quite often gets shots like these:


This is a large lion, looking in the sliding glass door of this guy's bedroom, approximately 10 feet from his bed where he and his wife were looking at it through the glass.

We have had instances of large dogs (over 100 pounds) being attacked, people being stalked, lions around homes in the middle of the day, etc. Inevitably, I fear, we are going to have an attack on a person. Of course, the majority of the people here believe that lions are not a "real" problem and that those of us who have expressed concern are "fear mongering", etc., although almost none of them have done any research or know anything whatsoever about these animals.

If you'd like to learn more about the whole potential problem with lions expanding their range into urban areas and the reasons for it, an excellent book is "The Beast in the Garden". I highly recommend it.

As an aside, I already ordered that book on Amazon and can't wait for it to arrive. This subject is very interesting to me - and a little scary.

Cross posted at ChicagoBoyz.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sports Nicknames

When I was in collej I would amaze my friends by being able to name the mascot or nickname for just about every Division One team and a lot of Division Two teams as well.

Most of the names of the old teams you just can't mess with. Bears. Packers. Badgers. Giants. Yankees. Red Sox. Eagles. Vikings. Dodgers. Cubs. White Sox. Gators. Crimson Tide. Trojans. Irish. Wolverines. Buckeyes. Volunteers. This list is not complete, but you get the idea.

These team nicknames tell you instantly about the team you are speaking of and can never be tampered with. Imagine the riot if they tried to change the Cubs name, or the Gators. It just will never happen.

But how about these? Blue Hens. Salukis. Muleriders. Greyhounds. Gorillas. Marauders. Enforcers. The first six are actual names of Division Two schools - the last one is the defunct Chicago XFL team. One of the best nicknames ever. The Chicago Enforcers. Damn that has a pretty ring to it.

How about this: The Seattle Republic, or the Seattle Alliance? Those are two of the FINALISTS for the naming of the team for Seattle's new MSL team. Poor JJ. What the hell? I am guessing that either the wife or six year old kid of the owner is choosing the name or someone from the newly formed "Seattle Committee for Gender and Species Neutral Nickname Selection". Those have to be two of the stupidest, lamest names for a soccer team (or any team, for that matter) that I have ever seen. No wonder they lost Boeing.

The Chicago Fire is the MSL team from around here, and that is a pretty damned good nickname - their logo is neat as well. I love the Brewers name as well, and nothing beats their old logo:
Gotta love the beer barrel dude. Sadly after a home run, Bernie Brewer does not slide into the giant mug o beer anymore, political correctness has him sliding down a slide onto a...deck. Can't anything be fun anymore?

Here's one for old time's sake with Bernie in his Chalet sliding down into the hooch right at the beginning:

Spring and Wildlife Comeback

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The above photo was taken one block from my house. We have been seeing lots of wild turkeys in my neighborhood the last few years. I live in a mature subdivision that looks like a lot of other mature subdivisions in the United States. In fact, if you were blindfolded and dropped in there and had to identify where you were, I would wager that you would have a lot of difficulty. In other words, it is a pretty unremarkable place.

With the Spring thaw I have been seeing tons of wildlife scurrying about for chow. The deer are all over the place. I have seen the geese heading back north. A red fox ran across the road in front of my car the other day. I have lived in this area of the country all of my life, and in Madison itself for almost 14 years. Is it just me or is wildlife in general making a comeback? Are the different species adapting to development better? I never used to see things like foxes, hawks, turkeys, deer, and coyotes but now these are commonplace.

Of course all of my evidence is anecdotal. I would like some more observations from our readers that live in urban areas around the country (and the world for that matter). Do you see more animals in general? What types?

Cross posted at ChicagoBoyz.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

London Fun

The paparazzi outside Madonna's flat... apparently she was in town for the weekend. There was always someone outside, lurking.
The US presidential election from the British point of view. Laudatory books on Clinton & Obama, with some extreme leftist criticism from crazy Chomsky, and then a book about "The Bush Tragedy". I guess they couldn't fit find room for McCain or his memoirs about being a POW for years and years...
This is an odd combination, a "Polish - Mexican Bistro". Too strange to even put a joke on it.
At "speakers corner" a bunch of lunatics stand on step stools and boxes and harangue anyone foolish enough to get within ear's reach, kind of like engaging with a troll in the comments section of a web site. This guy was great with his horn on his hat, don't know what philosophical concept this is tied to...
They put up "Police Trap Car" signs to WARN THIEVES that they are being watched in the area. I guess this is easier than arresting and putting them in jail. I guess the thieves just move elsewhere?

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Ultimate Self Defense Weapon? Conceal This!

Looking for other things I found this thing. IT IS SOOO gotdam cool I am peeing down both legs of my pants right now.

Meet Greg from Magpul. He is demonstrating the FMG9

Remember the "Pocket Fisherman"? Well, get a load of this!


The following video demonstrates what has to be the most creative self-defense weapon system I have ever seen. This is a prototype shown at a recent firearms convention in LasVegas called The Shot Show. It just has to be on the market soon...IhopeIhopeIhopeIhope....

This is by far the best thing ever to happen to the flashlight. But for all you Glock haters out there...well...what can I say?

When this item is available for consumer purchase, I will be the first in line to buy one. Maybe two or three. It fits in a glovebox, a purse, tacklebox, back pocket and briefcase.

While Magpul may not need Billy Mays to sell it I would love to hear him scream,"ORDER NOW AND WE'LL THROW IN 5000 ROUNDS OF 9mm AMMO FREE. THAT'S RIGHT, YOU ONLY PAY SHIPPING AND HANDLING AND YOU GET THE AMMO...ABSOLUTELY...FREE".

"BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! "ORDER NOW AND WE'LL SEND YOU TWO FMG9's...FOR THE PRICE OF ONE!"

Copy and paste this. Watch the video. You'll be glad you did.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D99NHb6B03s&feature=related

NOTE: As much as I try in both Safari and Firefox browsers I have not yet been able to figure out how to create hot links or links to video on youtube with Blogger. They tell me that because I am on Mac OS they do not support the platform for the many features Blogger offers. But I'm still workin' on it.

Blogroll Change

I have removed Perry from the blogroll. It's nothing personal, just that imho he spends too much time slagging the NY Times and Paul Krugman in particular. Personally I think this is a fine thing to do, but like they say "everybody's doing it". Not too interesting to me anymore.

I am adding Brillianter. Very good information on self defense here. I just found this blog and am enjoying reading the archives immensely.

Lemon Loaf Cake

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Working my way through Pierre Herme's book I have begun with farily simple cakes, and this one was simple but delicious. The prep method was very similar to the Ligurian cake, with a few ingredient changes. I had never made a loaf cake before, but will certainly do so again.

For this one you need:
  • 2-2/3 cups cake flour (I used regular all purpose flour and it worked fine - perhaps the cake would have been fluffier or something with cake flour, I don't know)
  • 3/4 teaspoon double acting baking powder (I used plain old baking powder)
  • Zest of 3 lemons finely chopped
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs at room temp
  • 3/4 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream (I used heavy cream)
  • 3.5 tablespoons rum (and more to taste)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp

Pre heat your oven to 350, and butter the inside of two loaf pans - then dust them with flour and set aside, on top of TWO baking sheets. I don't know why this was done, I assume so the bottom of the cakes don't get scorched.

Sift the baking powder and flour together and set aside. Put the zest into a large bowl with the sugar and press between your fingers until the zest and sugar are incorporated - this makes your kitchen smell great. Add the eggs to this sugar mixture and mix. Pierre says to us a wisk, but I used my electric hand mixer. Then add the cream, rum and salt and mix each ingredient as you do so. Finally, add the flour in four additions, mixing the batter until the flour is incorporated each time. Lastly add the butter in two or three additions, again incorporating it into the batter each time. Here is my youngest helping out. I swear she will be a cook someday.

And here is the finished batter, a lovely silky texture.
Immediately pour the batter into the two loaf pans and put into the oven for 55 minutes at 350. Here is the finished product - the top is supposed to split.

A suggestion Pierre provides is to brush a simple syrup of water and sugar and lemon juice heated until the suger dissolves on top of the cakes when they come out - I did that too.

And here is the inside - perfect! All around the loaf cake there developed a wonderful crust.
And I took Jonathan's advice and made my whipped cream with honey and lemon juice this time instead of sugar. At first I didn't like it as well, but as I ate I enjoyed it more. I think this is because I went into this thing with expectations of what whipped cream is supposed to taste like. Next time I will probably put more honey in there.

Kicking Curriculum

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Ouch.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Like Finding A Diamond in the Trash Can.

Dan just published some fine photos of some great looking rifles. What impressed me most were the fine wood stocks. Beautiful guns they are.

My rifles are really old and they work too. But they aren’t pretty. Years of field use caused nicks and scratches. While this doesn’t bother me, I appreciate a fine, well cared for weapon that looks presentable.

I now own two respectable pistols. My "doomsday" Glock Model 22 in .40cal and the new Bersa .380 pocket gun. Hand guns are not my main interest but having a few options to carry makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. Still have not even fired my new Bersa .380. Been too busy making money and with Easter weekend entertainment on the schedule it may not be until next Saturday before I am able to give it a go at the range.

My Shoot Guns are very special to me. I use them each year to bag game birds. They work great. Speck approves.


My classic Browning Sweet Sixteen needed a part last year. It was jamming. My gunsmith, Manny, took it down and found that a metal tube which housed a gas chamber necessary to rechamber the next round had cracked. It cost $75. and that included a complete take down and cleaning. Manny is definitely the Mann.

Then there is this Winchester Model 88 scoped rifle in .308 cal. that has been taking up space in my vault for too long.

A rustic appearance in a gun does not bother me at all, in fact, it makes me proud to haul decades of family tradition into the field each year. Since the old man (grandfather) is long gone I don’t have to hear his field jive anymore, which is nice.

“You’re behind”, “Lead more”, “What the hell were you waiting for”, “You can’t hit shit” and my all time favorite, “Don’t point that God Damn thing at me”. If only.

He’s gone but definitely not forgotten. I have a few of his guns. Some were good and well cared for, others were so rusted out they were worthless due to years of neglect such as storing them in his horse barn.

This poor rifle has been screaming for attention. The metal is in perfect shape. He used it to bag big-ass moose in Canada.


I believe my dad gave this .308 to him for Christmas one year, back in the mid 60’s.

The last time I shot this bad boy was over 15 years ago. It needs attention and I am about to give it some.

In researching the .308 Win. I found some interesting facts. Not pretending to be a ballistics expert or gun snob I discovered a lot of information, thanks to the internets.

From Wikipedia:

“308 Winchester is the commercial name of a centerfire cartridge based on the military 7.62x51mm NATO round. Two years prior to the NATO adoption of the 7.62x51mm NATO T65 in 1954, Winchester (a subsidiary of the Olin Corporation) branded the cartridge and introduced it to the commercial hunting market as the .308 Winchester. Winchester's Model 70 and Model 88 rifles were subsequently chambered for the new cartridge. Since then, the .308 Winchester has become one of the most popular hunting cartridges available. It is also commonly used for civilian targets, military sniping and police sharpshooting. The relatively short case makes the .308 Winchester especially well adapted for short action rifles and is easy to reload.”

I wanted more even info specifically on the Winchester Model 88. Thanks to Algore, inventor of the internets it did not take much effort to find out. Chuckhawks.com looks like an expert on such matters to me. He says:

“The Winchester 88's front locking, multi-lug rotating bolt operated much like the modern Browning BLR. Functionally, it was a bolt-action rifle operated by a lever. It offered most of the features of a bolt-action rifle with faster lever action operation. In particular, its manual operation and front locking bolt made it a suitable rifle for serious reloaders.

In 1967 the Model 88 carried a MSRP of $139.95; extra magazines were $3.90.”

Hell, I was a high-school freshman in 1967.

The old man was a big lever-action rifle fan so this all makes sense. He told me once while target shooting at the farm as a kid that the time and effort it takes to re-chamber another round allowed one to regain composure and sight on a target. His words, not mine. This obviously applied only to rifle and pistol shooting. When wing shooting his point was moot. Bagging as many birds as possible in one flight meant smooth natural pointing, shouldering, swinging and emptying that semi-automatic shoot gun magazine as quickly as possible. Git-R-Done ;D

Back to the .308, according to chuckhawks.com:

“The M 88's only real drawbacks were that its trigger was neither as light or as clean as a Model 94 or a Model 70. Its trigger moved with the lever, avoiding a bruised finger due to careless operation, but complicating the trigger linkage. And, it kicked pretty hard in .284, .308 and .358. It was not a pleasant rifle to shoot in such powerful calibers. By modern standards the stock had too much drop at comb, and the surface area of the butt plate was too small. A good recoil pad would have helped, but was not supplied.”

“I think that, by the 1960s, it was basically a rifle out of sync with time. Lever action fans were perfectly happy with their traditional (and much less expensive) .30-30's, and bolt action fans would not buy a lever action rifle no matter how good it was. Then, too, the 88 was designed around standard, short action cartridges and the gun buying public became consumed by the belted magnum craze. The .260 Remington and 7mm-08 cartridges, which would have been perfect for the Model 88, were not introduced until long after it had been discontinued.”

The issues I have with this rifle are the retro-cheesey acorn basket-weave pressed wood stock and matching sling and what appears to be cheap optics. In addition, the old man was about 5’5” while I am 6’ 3”. I have used padded recoil extensions for his old shoot guns and they work well with my long ape-arms.

Here is what he did to the .308. Since the stock was too long he sawed off a few inches and taped the cap back on to the stock. The tape marks are still visible. When I got my hands on it I had a Pachmayr recoil pad installed. Not pretty but it helped.



Last summer I need a few trees taken down. The good-old boy I hired was very interested in the moose head and fish mounts hanging in my garage along with my boat. He asked why a “country boy” like me lived in a “country club” neighborhood like mine. My answer was simple. “Because my wife liked it” was the response.



Turned out this guy was into long-range target shooting and sniping big-time. His load of choice? The .308 Winchester. His hobby was calling in coyotes and picking them off at 300+ yds. When I brought down my model 88 to show him he was very impressed. He explained that with a newer scope it would be a fine gun for long range shooting. Who knew?



Look out...Marty Moose.

Gun Show

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What a week. I have been pretty much redlining it since Monday. Removing ten tons of snow from my estate after work yesterday was the icing on the cake. So many things went wrong last week, I wouldn't know where to begin. But sometimes life is like that, and we move on.

To unwind, I went to the gun show last night. I wasn't really looking for anything in particular, but need a Ruger Mark 1, Mark 2 or a Standard. And I always am looking for a .22 rifle - just because. The gun show was not well attended - the snow was keeping people away.

Again, I didn't see one Mark 1, Mark 2 or Standard. What the hell? There were millions and millions of those things produced over the years and I never see them at the local gun show. I think I will have to go to a show in the Milwaukee area where they might have a better selection. The gun show did have lots of plastic fantastic pistols - pretty much every brand was represented. I also fondled a few old Smith wheelies, but put those back. I really looked hard at a High Standard .22 pistol. It looked like this one. I put that back after a while too. The dealer didn't know crap about the gun and neither did I. If I buy an old .22 pistol it will be a Ruger as mentioned above. But the quality looked pretty good on that High Standard.

I also played with a bunch of crappy old .22 rifles. You can have many of these for around $100. They are in OK condition usually, just mostly ignored by the masses. None of them fit me too well though. The stocks are just too damned short on a lot of them and absolutely every one of them needed work. And I would have to buy a scope if I planned on any serious plinking.

I kept sauntering and stumbled upon the Ruger Charger that I had been coveting for $289! That was a pretty good price. Strangely, since I posted about that gun I have talked myself out of it. I just am not seeing the purpose other than novelty. I can't use it for pistol shooting and if I am on a table or prone, then why would I not use my rifle? I think if I find one used on the cheap someday I will plunk down the cash for it, but not now.

Then I happened upon this Remington 597 package that came with a scope (3-9 x 32). Clearly a direct competitor to the Ruger 10/22 series. This Remington fit me well and the scope actually wasn't too bad. Supposedly this thing is boresighted from the factory so I can at least get on the paper at the range before dialing it in, which is nice. You will notice it is semi auto, and that is something I don't have yet in a rifle. So I beat the dealer up from $289 to $269 and bought it. We filled out the paperwork, they did the call to whoever it is the dealers call when they transfer a firearm, I handed them the ca$h and I left with a new gun.
Below is a photo of the new Remington on top and my Ruger 77/22 boltie on the bottom. The Remington has a 20" barrel while the Ruger has a 24". Semi auto vs. Bolt. The Remington has a ton more plastic than the Ruger as well. But it is a full two pounds lighter. The scope on my Ruger is a bit better (Leupold high end vs. generic). That two pounds will make a big difference at the range as I am going through NRA qualifications in the standing position - that Ruger gets heavy after a while. You can see why that Remington fit me pretty well - from the back end it looks virtually identical to the Ruger sizewise. I notice that the scope on the Remington is set back farther - I may have to dink with that a little when I get to the range, but we will see. I hope to have a range report on this fairly soon. I think I will bring both of them and try to note any differences.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Going Insane

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Johnny J put up a good post about Spring in the PNW. He went fishing yesterday. How about a shot of the second day of Spring here in Wisconsin:
F*ck! Yep, another 8 inches of snow and maybe more. I swear this is driving me out of my mind. We have had over 100" (that's one hundred) of Gorebal Warming this Winter, shattering the old record by a mile. All of the Gorebal Warming kooks can take a leap as far as I am concerned. This winter has been so long and hard, and I can't remember one that was harder with all of the snow, cold, and nasty crap. To cheer myself up (besides drinking beer) I have decided to post a few photos from my archives to remind me that Spring and Summer weather is right around the corner in another thirty days or so. It can't get here quick enough.




Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pad Holding

I think I mentioned this a few weeks ago. On top of my normal Muay Thai lessons I am taking a six week course in holding pads properly for a fighter. The pad holding course is for an hour before my regular class.

We are two weeks into the pad holding course and we are already seeing tons of improvement. Believe it or not there is a right way to hold the thai pads and focus mitts.

We have spent a lot of time getting the basic combinations down and talking about the psychology of a fighter - what they need, what they don't need, what they want and don't want. It is really involved and pretty fascinating.

In the later classes we will be shown how to hold pads on the ground to help train the guys (and girls) in the gym who are training in MMA. Kick...f*cking...ass.

I am having a ball with this. With the pad holding you can get so creative and watch the other students and fighters - and tell them what is wrong, or right. We also motivate and condition the fighters. Tonight I asked a guy to quit dropping his left hand about ten times, then yelled to him to KEEP YOUR F*CKING LEFT UP. The instructor walked over to us and said that he was watching everything that was going on and approved in a huge way. So did the fighter that I was working with. What fun. I can't even explain what a rush it is mixing it up with the fighters, calling off combos to them and helping them. It is truly art in motion when you really get moving. We really create a good bond between everyone too - they are training and we are helping them.

I am getting a bit worn down though. I do the pad holding for an hour (half of that time I am hitting for a pad holder) and then I do an hour of my regular Muay Thai classes. My shins are a complete mess since we are currently doing a block of kicks and defense for kicks. Even with the shinpads I am bruised up pretty well. Two hours of MT is tiring, to say the least.

Not that I am going to quit, but I might skip one of my weekend workouts to rest up a bit. Nah, I am a zealot, I won't be having any of that. I can rest on the Fourth of July or something.

The gym is really becoming a community. There are seminars going on all the time and a lot of people will be attending the fighters upcoming bouts. I have heard that we are going to be having some UFC nights where the gym will show UFC fights on a projection TV for everyone. Also, there is even a nutrition seminar coming up that I will be attending - I am looking forward to that as well. Outside of Muay Thai, there are several things coming up for the MMA and Jiu Jitsu guys, and a great seminar about how to fight effectively on the street. That will be sweet.

I would like to take a moment to thank my wife who is probably not reading this. She lets me abandon the family twice a week every Tuesday and Thursday night to do my thing at the gym and I just want her to know that I really appreciate it. For the record I also go to the gym on Saturdays, but she is always at the barn doing horse stuff at that time. Anyways, thanks hon. Oh yes - don't forget - you got me started in this stuff.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Art Altenburg's Concertina Bar Update

I was goofing around today on the interwebs and found this article on the Concertina Bar that I featured here, here and here. Looks like old Art finally sold out back in October, but the new owner will continue having polka bands.

Take a look at the video featured in the article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Yep, none other than yours truly shot that last summer, and it now has over two thousand views on YouTube.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ligurian Cake Part One

Part one of a three part series. Here is part two and here is part three. Click any photo for larger.

Since I graduated from college I have been cooking and I love it. I have mastered some things, but have just scratched the surface of others. I have decided to take a little sidetrip in my cooking career to pastries and cakes. I am fascinated by them. They are a lot of work, but I love the results.

I found in my library a book that I either bought or received as a gift some time ago, it is called Desserts by Pierre Herme. This book has the most amazing cakes, tarts and pastries you have ever seen. It will take a lot of practice to get some of them right. I took this Ligurian recipe from that book.

I decided to try the Ligurian cake first since it looked fairly simple. I made one about a month ago and it was incredible. Last Sunday I decided to make it again and got the same results - I have this one down. I also got the kids into the act to help me. They love to help out in the kitchen - especially my youngest.

I am a firm believer in mise en place, or loosely translated, everything in place. When I cook anything, from jambalaya to cakes or anything else, I always put all of the ingredients into small bowls or containers and they are ready for assembly. The photo below shows many of these containers on the counter. You can see my youngest cracking some eggs into a bowl.
In these bowls we have for the cake:
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more, room temperature, for pan
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of 2 lemons, very finely chopped
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons milk, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, (about 1/2 lemon)
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries
The kids had fun sifting the flour and baking powder together. One word of warning - flour plus kids equals mess. But I was ready for that.

So here is what you do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; with rack in center. Butter a 10-inch round cake or springform pan, dust with flour, and tap out any excess.

In a large bowl, sift flour and baking powder; set aside.

Place sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer; rub the ingredients together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy, and has absorbed as much of the zest as possible. (This will make your whole kitchen smell divine!)

Return bowl to mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat in eggs on medium high until the mixture is pale and thick, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on lowest speed, beat in milk. Add reserved flour mixture; beat until incorporated. Add lemon juice, melted butter, and olive oil; beat until blended. (The olive oil really keeps this cake moist)

Pour about one third of the batter into the prepared pan; there should be just enough batter to form a thin, even layer. Arrange the raspberries on top of the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the raspberries, and use a rubber spatula to gently spread batter so that it runs down between the berries and just covers them (you’ll have a very thin top layer of batter).

Bake cake until it’s golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan, and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 33 minutes. (about 20-25 minutes for small cakes)

Remove the cake from the oven, and immediately unmold it onto a wire rack. Invert cake so it is right side up, and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, the cake is ready to serve or to decorate with meringue.

Here is your humble writer enjoying his Sunday afternoon immensely. If I am going to get serious about pastries and cakes I need to buy a Kitchen Aid mixer - this hand mixer got a little tiring after a while.
As you see above, after the batter is mixed, you pour one third of it down on the bottom of the springform. This will be a very thin layer. Then you lay down the raspberries. The store didn't have any this day so I subbed blackberries. Frankly I think the blackberries tasted better! Then, dump the rest of the batter on top of the blackberries. As you can see in the photo below I was a bit sloppy with my batter dumping and the bottom half of the cake in the photo is a bit thicker with batter than the top half. I ended up with a slightly lopsided cake at the end.
See part two.

Ligurian Cake Part Two

Part two of a three part series. Part one is here, part three is here. Click any photo for larger.

When the cake is done it looks like this. This is actually the bottom.
And here it is out of the springform. It is dome shaped, but don't worry. To cool it you invert it (now the top is actually on top). The dome mashes down from the weight of the cake.
And here is the cake right side up, cooling on the rack. You can see the blackberries poking out through the top and saying hi.
After about an hour or so, it is time to eat. You can see from this photo how perfect this thing is. And the dome shape has flattened out from the weight of the cake so it is now flat on the bottom. Told you not to worry.
At this point you can top it with a meringue, but I prefer it this way - with a dollop of freshly whipped cream on the side. I whip my own. Here is a photo of the finished product, out of focus "Carl style".
A very easy cake, but one that will impress. The lemon flavor is wonderful and combines well with the raspberries or blackberries you use. I suppose you could soak this cake with a sauce or liqueur, but I don't think it needs it.

Here is part three, the recipe for the whipped cream.

Fresh Whipped Cream

Part three of a three part series. Here is part one, and here is part two. Click any photo for larger.

Don't you ever buy Cool Whip or that Reddi-Whip crap. Buy cream and whip it yourself! The texture and taste are so much better, and it only takes ten minutes.

Here is one pint of heavy cream. You just add sugar to taste - I only add two or three tablespoons. I want a tiny bit of sweetness, but not overblown like the products mentioned above.
So go at it! Ten minutes later or so you have a mountain of goodness that looks like this:
Perfect topping for any cake such as the Ligurian I just made, or pie, or just about anything.

A Good Day To Buy A Gun

Today The Supreme Court of the United States will begin hearing arguments on the constitutionality of the Washington D.C. gun ban. They expect a verdict in June. More on that later.

Since I am able to legally poses a conceal carry permit in the free red state of Indiana it is a uniquely American privelige to exercise my (current) Constitutional right to legally carry a concealed weapon for self-defense purposes whenever I see fit. Thank you very much, founding fathers and sensible Indiana lawmakers.

For the past few months I have been looking for a personal defense weapon that is lightweight, dependable, concealable and affordable with a comfortable fit, good handling along with being quick and easy to reach. Here is my choice, the Bersa .380.


First, I do not pretend to be a handgun expert, aficionado or collector. My knowledge and expertise is with long guns because I hunt. My gun vault holds a few high-powered scoped rifles along with some classic shotguns, a.22 rimfire lever-action Winchester rifle (my first real gun and fourty-years old) and a very accurate .50cal Hawken-style Thompson Center muzzleloader, which is my favorite Bambi-wacker and all-around fun gun. Smoke blows out the end, sparks fly and the noise, oh, the noise. It's an experience that wows all the senses. It just goes Ka-Freakin’ BOOM! =)

It is my intent to also legally purchase what is referred to as an assault rifle (my eyes are on a fine product from HK) before the court ruling comes down one way or another. Adding one will complete my personal gun collection once and for all. Then I begin collecting ammo.

Most of my guns were inherited. Prior to this past weekend I have purchased only two new guns. After looking at and handling many reputable pocket size handgun brands and calibers my final choice was most difficult and the experience was enlightening.

The most important features in a carry piece to me were lightweight concealment in a “good enough” caliber. I like that old saying, “any gun in my pocket is more powerful than the one in the glove box of my truck”.

After researching, reading, surfing, shopping, discussing and handling many pistols for the past three months, the Bersa .380 was my final choice. It has features that meet my needs and the feel of pistols costing three times as much. It fit my hand, in my front pocket and under my belt just right, this was most important. The trigger pull was another factor that helped with my decision. After dry-firing many fine guns costing much more, trigger pull and action is what impressed me most on the Bersa. Sweet.

But what finally tipped it in for me was a solid reco from my gunsmith. After explaining my intent he told me honestly that Bersa (made in Argentina) was a problem brand about five years ago. He worked on many Bersa’s to cure a common feed problem. He assured me that the feed problem of the past has been totally re-engineered and eliminated in the newer models. Hell, my classic Browning shotguns have jammed on the second and third shot more than once when wingshooting, not a good time for a malfunction.

I have taken my favorite long guns to Manny for cleaning and repairs. He is as good as they come and recommended by many of my local fellow sportsmen.

He gave the Bersa a top rating for a conceal carry weapon on one condition, I had to promise him I would carry only Cor-bon loads. He compared the Bersa favorably to a Walther but costing much less. It sure looks and feels like an Argentine knock-off of a Walther to me and weighs less too..

More data on .380 Cor-bon loads can be found here:

http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/Bersa%20Thunder.htm

Testing in a lab environment shooting at gels to determine effective penetration produces certifiable data in order to make a factual comparison argument between gun snobs. This means nothing when confronted by a crack-infused nut-ball in a real life or death situation. That’s when a calm head armed with a familiar weapon backed up with a lot of practice will make all the difference in the world. Sure hope it never comes to that, but if it happens I plan to be ready.

BTW, after handing over $300 to the retailer (they had the Bersa on sale), I got the gun, a box of 20 Cor-bon’s, a store warranty, a free take-down and cleaning, a gun sock, a trigger lock and I had enough left over to buy a case of domestic beer. Well, I didn't but could have.

Next weekend, a trip to the range with some bulk target ammo will confirm if I made the right choice. Until then the clip is loaded with Cor-bons and I am a-packin’. Legally.

God Bless America and my fine state of Indiana. Did I mention Indiana has four teams in the 2008 NCAA Tournament?

IN RELATED NEWS:

Today The Supreme Court will begin to decide whether the District of Columbia will be allowed to continue their total ban on handguns. There are many implications attached to this ruling for both sides.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21901379/

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/law/11/20/scotus.handguns/index.html

They expect a decision by early June 2008. Comrade Richard M. Daley of Chciago will be watching this one very closely.

This is a big deal folks. I trust that the SCOTUS will stifle efforts by agenda-driven numb-nut politicians like Dick Durban of Illinois and Dick Daley of Chicago (that’s two Illinois dicks for the price of one) and other lefty gun-grabbers to outlaw the right of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves against the criminal element in society by legally owning and carrying personal firearms.

Mayor Dick and Senator Dick have armed bodyguards paid for by the overtaxed residents if Illinois, we don’t. Rosie O’Donnel has an armed bodyguard because it can afford one, we don’t.

My advice is to go out and buy a handgun and load up on ammunition now. I am. Do it before the jackass party has enough elected power to outlaw your right to personal protection provided in our Constitutional Bill Of Rights.