Monday, June 30, 2008

Alabama Bound ... Or Not

My brother has been in the process of applying for jobs in the Birmingham, AL area recently. He and his wife will be moving there soon for her work and he's interviewed with a couple of companies. Today he accepted a position to a local power company. So now they just need a place to live.

They and my parents had already made plans to head down there to look at prospective houses over the Fourth of July weekend and I was planning to tag along. Well, apparently, he managed to get Thursday off as well as Friday and now they'll be heading out earlier than expected.

This now leaves me with most of the day Friday open. Anyone have suggestions as to what to do with my newly freed up time?

Wolff Rocks!

In the couple of weeks, I've replaced springs in both my Saiga S-308 and Ruger GP100 with Wolff springs. The Saiga got a new +15% recoil spring and just this evening the GP100 got a new reduced power hammer spring and trigger return spring. My fingers are still half numb from the effort of getting everything back into place on that revolver. I'm a little wary about whether I was able to get it reassembled correctly, but the cylinder locks up and the transfer bar works fine, so it shouldn't be too big of a problem if it's wrong. It already exhibits a much lighter trigger pull in double action. Unfortunately, the lighter pull makes the grittiness just that much more apparent. I still need to function test to make sure I'm not going to get light strikes.

The Saiga was a breeze to change out in comparison. It actually uses the same recoil spring as a standard AK rifle even though it's a 7.62x51. I was able to figure out how to go about removing the old spring and replacing it with just a moment's study. The simplicity of the AK design becomes more impressive to me each time I do new-to-me work on the rifle. I'm hoping the extra power spring will help to clear up some of the malfunctions I've had with it in the past. We'll see.

But no matter the outcome of my experimenting, the springs were well-fitted and of excellent quality, as usual. I highly recommend Wolff gunsprings.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

...Doomed to Repeat It?

Well, I just finished watching the John Adams miniseries done by HBO and I am happy to report that it is not the waste of $60 that I had been fearing it might be.

However, it does bring up certain gaps in my memory of my history classes. As one "for instance", I remember that we covered a piece of legislation called the Alien and Sedition Act but I could not have said when it was ratified, under which president, nor what it did. This is not the first time that my poor memory has left me knowing that I should know something about something that happened in relatively recent history but unable to recall specifics. I find this to be distressing and I wish to remedy my faulty memory (as best as possible, anyway. I need to find some way to transpose history into mathematical equations. I might be able to remember some of this stuff then).

With this in mind, can someone out there point me in the direction of a relatively unbiased book on American History? I'm looking for more along the lines of statements of facts (i.e. who, where, when, and how) more than editorializing (i.e. why). I'd much appreciate it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Heller: Reservedly Optimistic

Well, I'm assuming that everyone has seen the SCOTUS decision on DC v. Heller that was given today. Personally, I'm really not all that surprised by the decision (based solely on other's interpretations thus far) nor the slim margin of the decision.

I'm reserving my full decision on this matter until I can read the majority decision. No, I'm not going to read the minority decision. I scream at my computer too often as it is. I was working up a not-so-small rant on the comments by the dissenting justices and the petty tyrants mayors of D.C. and Chicago. But I decided it was not worth the upset stomach it was most certainly going to give me.

But so far, I'm going to say that I'm both "somewhat placated" and "cautiously optimistic" with regards to the ruling. The decision appears to be almost exactly what I thought it would be, what with the ban overturned but provisions for "sensible restrictions" being allowed.

P.S. In looking at some more of the dissenting opinions, I realize I may have to read the minority decision. It's more than a bit unnerving to realize that some of the reasons you have for thinking the court didn't go far enough are being used to back the thinking that the court went too far.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself

Marko over at the Munchkin Wrangler posts a point by point rebuttal of one of his commenter's ideas regarding gun control. Go take a look. Don't forget to read the comments, especially the one by MarkHB.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New Motorcycle Stuff

Well, I just dropped quite a bit on accessories for my bike. There are two things that I've complained about on multiple occasions about my bike. The first is that I have to lean forward somewhat to reach the handlebars. It being a cruiser (2005 Honda VTX 1300C), it's meant for the rider to lean back while riding. Unfortunately, due to my height (an abnormal amount of which is in the torso) and my normalish arms, the standard setup just doesn't work. To that end, I've purchased a set of pull-back risers. These bring the standard bars back about 2.25". One of the guys at work installed a set of these on his back this past weekend, so I got the chance to take a look at it on Monday. It definitely changes the looks of the bike. I wasn't sure if I liked it at first. Then I sat down and gripped the bars. Now I don't care what it looks like. It's just too comfortable.

The second issue I've had is with the mirrors. I'm a big guy with broad shoulders and the standard mirror stems just don't cut it for looking directly behind me. If I want to check the lanes to either side, there's no problem. So, I've ordered a set of mirrors with tall stems that should work nicely.

Now I just need to save up enough to get a Mustang seat, driving light bar, and floorboards.

Edit: Oooh, and a bluetooth headset!

Monday, June 23, 2008

It's Funny Because It's True.

Found in Laurel's latest post: On the topic of a likely Heller decision tomorrow: “It feels like we’re anticipating a really messed up Christmas… where you’re either going to get a pony, or find out your grandpa died.”

Thursday, June 19, 2008


So I was shanghaied into buying some steaks this afternoon. I ended up with 8 ribeyes, 8 boneless strips and 8 fillet of sirloin (bacon-wrapped). I have absolutely no idea how to go about cooking steak.

With that in mind, I'm going to suggest (Richard) that we get the same crowd together that were at the barbeque last time for an encore or, failing that, talk the Mintons into having a get-together. I'll donate these steaks to the cause as long as I'm not required to cook. I'm thinking weekend after this one as I know you have the MSF course to attend this weekend.

What say you?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Musings on What Might Have Been

I was checking out Breda's latest post and this quote caught my eye:

"When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it."
- Winnie the Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner

This quote has struck a chord in me. I'll be the first to admit that I do/say things on a fairly regular basis that leave others shaking their heads and me smacking myself about 5 seconds later. I realize that others do the same thing from time to time but I tend to do it at least four times a day (joking - sort of).

The point I'm getting at is that this has been happening since my very early childhood and hasn't shown much signs of diminishing. And I would have to say that it's the major influencing factor in my lack of socializing. I took the old adage a little too seriously: "Better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."

I very much wish that I had read A. A. Milne's works when I was young.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New Programs Galore!

Today my computer has seen a number of new programs or updates added.

First and foremost is Scribefire which I am currently using to write this post. I found it via Junyor's latest post. It is basically a text editor that will post directly to a number of blogs (one of which is Blogger, obviously) and is intended specifically for Firefox. I've only been playing around with it for a few minutes but I like what I'm seeing so far.

The next is Firefox 3.0. I just found out this morning from a coworker that this newest version was being offered today. I love Firefox and I'm looking forward to playing with this new version.

Lastly is the Google bar add-on for Firefox 3.0. In case you didn't know, the Google bar will need to be updated when switching to the latest version of Firefox. Thankfully, it's a simple matter to update as Firefox automatically recognizes the incompatability and will download and install the new version itself. From what little I've seen of it so far, it seems to be almost identical to the version I had previously installed.

That's it! Hope this was informative.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tinkering with Webcams

Friend and fellow blogger Junyor has been playing around recently with a webcam. Me being the shameless copycat that I am and Junyor being the shameless enabler that he is, I ended up buying the same model webcam myself.

He and I played around with some of the streaming websites and messenger apps out there for conferencing and he has posted a well-thought-out review of each on his site. I have watched the video he links in his post and I am in full agreement with his assessments. Go take a look.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Habeas Corpus Upheld by SCOTUS

Well, score one for habeas corpus. Richard sent me this link along with this comment:

"Honestly, I thought Justice Thomas was a bit more of a Constitutional scholar than that. I'm thoroughly disappointed.
At least the majority understands."

To which a mutual friend (who will remain anonymous until he gives permission to use his name on my blog) replied:

"those *expletive* repubs in the supreme court don't give a *expletive* about the constitution.
Live to regret the day when tyranny was defeated? I doubt it."

He is referring to Justice Scalia's comment that "Today the Court warps our Constitution ... The Nation will live to regret what the Court has done today."

The sad thing is that I do not think that this is a defeat for the dissenting Justices. I think that they view this as a minor set-back. We have to remember that people such as these do not think of themselves as tyrannical oppressors. They honestly believe that methods such as the suspension of habeas corpus in question are necessary to the continued well-being of this nation.

They think that they are heroes for pushing such measures. They think it's for our own good.

This line of thinking has made me recall the words of C. S. Lewis: "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

(As an aside, I found a quote site when looking for this particular Lewis quote. It has a random quote generator that I'm going to add to the sidebar. Let me know what you think.)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Got a Wii

I was finally able to find a Wii today at Gamestop. I'd heard from everyone who owns one that these are a blast to play. Unfortunately, until today, I'd never even seen one in person. They were always out of stock.

I got it home and hooked it up. I set up my mii character and started up Wii Boxing. I have to say, I hope the other games are more responsive than this one. The left nunchuck controller was great, I could jab with it like a crazy man. But the right was almost non-responsive. Most of my punches would only carry about half way to the opponent character, pulling up short. The ones that did go through went incredibly wide. Every now and then, a punch would connect by arcing out very wide and landing a kidney shot.

After about fifteen minutes, I gave up. One thing about it, it's a workout. I was sweating up a storm. I just hope the shooting games are more precise. That's what I really wanted this system for.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Run That By Me Again?

It seems that Britain has decided that they have a knife-crime epidemic. Now that they've outlawed guns, I suppose those who supported that ban have to find something else to explain why it is that their nation still experiences violent crime.

Once again, I must point out that the weapon is nothing; it's the person wielding it who is dangerous. A person who has decided to commit a crime will use whatever tools are available to them, even if they have to manufacture the tools themselves.

Hat tip to Jason for the link.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I Have The Wierdest Luck

So, I ordered a mesh jacket and saddlebags from an online retailer (I won't go into the who/where until this is played out). The order goes through and all seems fine.

Then I get an email a couple days later. It seems that the jacket I ordered is on extended backorder. It won't be available until late July/early August. They told me that I was free to let this order sit until the jacket is available or I can go ahead and swap to a different jacket. So, I get to looking around and I see a different jacket that has some features that I like for only about $20 more. So, I send an email asking if this jacket is available and if so, go ahead and swap it out.

The very next day, I get a couple of voicemails on my cell (which I forgot and left at home) telling me that the saddlebags I ordered have been recalled due to faulty materials. Materials that make up the very functionality that caused me to pick this particular maker.


After playing phone tag with the person who initially called me, I managed to catch him via email. It seems that the manufacturer recalled every single one of their bags.

During this time, I'm still awaiting response from the guy who contacted me about my jacket. I don't get one until the following Tuesday (he contacted me originally on Thursday). He apologized for the delay and explained that he had been out of the office on Monday and responded as soon as he could. He confirmed that the jacket was available and asked if I wanted to go ahead with purchasing it. Of course I said yes, and the jacket should have shipped out yesterday or today.

I got a phone call at lunch today from the same gent who told me that the saddlebags had been recalled. It seems that the recalled bags had already been replaced and are ready to ship! I gave him my info over the phone and when I got home, I had an email waiting on me saying that FedEx has received the package and it's on its way.

So far, I must say that I am impressed with their responsiveness. There was a bit of a lapse in response time but the explanation for that is completely understandable. And their tenacity in getting things lined out combined with their polite nature really struck me favorably.

We shall have to wait and see how this turns out.

DC to Implement "Neighborhood Safety Zones"

I'm honestly speechless here. The anger and sadness this provokes in me is, well, indescribable. I knew that this sort of power grab was inevitable.

I knew it intellectually. But still it manages to surprise me. Sadden me. Infuriate me.

Call me naive if you wish but it disappoints me.

H/T to Lawdog.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Spreading the Love

It seems that I really am a bad influence.

Junyor contacted me a few days ago via Yahoo Messenger to ask about motorcycles. Seems he'd picked up the itch from me. (Or maybe it's just the insane gas prices. I'm gonna claim credit regardless.) I began by asking him a few questions about what his intended uses were gonna be. Seems he had been looking around already and was eyeing a couple of 250cc bikes already.

As with Richard, I just had to point out that a 250cc bike will get excellent gas mileage - but there's a trade-off. Junyor was intending to ride his new bike back and forth to work (approximately a 40 mi. round trip). While the gas mileage would rock on trips like this, I pointed out that the downside would be a lighter bike that is easily pushed around by wind, both natural and that generated by larger, passing vehicles, and a bike that would be pushing its power limits on Dallas' bypass-like tollways.

We ended the conversation with Junyor looking seriously at a Honda Shadow VT750c2. It should provide him with enough power to keep him interested (and safe) for a good while, enough weight to stabilize him on blustery/high-traffic days, a seat low enough to fit him comfortably, and still get good gas mileage.

Now we just need to get Richard fixed up with a bike.

As an aside, I was finally able to get a decent idea of the gas mileage my bike is capable of. I had to switch to reserve tank yesterday on my way to work. I filled up on my way home and calculated the mileage as 32.25mpg. Not bad, considering that better than half of the driving was done just 2-3 miles per trip.