Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Moved to New Location. 12 Jun 12.

Due to philosophical differences with Blogger and Google, Rifles and Rants will henchforth be hosted at Wordpress.  All current content has been imported into the new site, including The Dragnet Saga.

Rifles and Rants

I've been on a blog roll lately, hopefully it will carry over to the new site.  Come see me.
Thanks for reading,

Monday, June 11, 2012

Water bottle recycling

Actually, more reusing than recycling.  But I digress.  In the first sentence yet, it's a new record.  Anyway, after last weekend's float trip, I was left with many empty, dirty, abused, plastic water bottles.   Coincidentally, I'm also blessed with an overabundance of old plywood, 2x4s, and random pieces of scrap lumber.  Hmmm.
The guys on Sword Buyer's Guide seem to have great fun placing water filled plastic bottles on wooden stands and cleaving them in twain.  I have a sword. ;-) 

Here's the first prototype stand.  Mini Tornado was over and the "fun thing to do in the shop" Saturday was paint the boards which would serve as tops for the stands.  That's why they're red.  If it makes my daughter want to hang out with me in the shop, I'll paint pink smiley faces on them.  Dads understand.

There's the five I decided were adequate.  Notice the stunning paint job on the shelf of each stand.  And, (I just noticed while proofing,) a pretty nice shot of my work bench, work area, and lawn mower.

The sword.  It's a Badger Blades carbon steel katana purchased circa 1994.  Blade 28 1/2", handle 10", 3" octagonal tsuba, handle wrapped with some kind of cord that's glued down or something.  It hasn't moved in 15+ years, very well done.  The pommel is hexagonal and suitable for striking, if necessary.  Probably about three pounds, but I don't have a scale.  Very stiff, extraordinarily strong, blade.  Balance about 4" in front of tsuba.  I like the balance, feels nice, but that may just be a personal preference due to lack of experience with other swords.

This was a 1/2 gallon and a gallon milk jug.  Sliced through cleanly and left the bottoms right there where they started.  The top pic is how it landed.  The bottom I just moved the gallon top half.
This was a bottle on the tall stand.  This would have been a decapitation shot on someone 6'7" to 6'9".  Not trying to start anything with tall people, just making sure I'm ready in case I'm attacked by...I don't know, an ogre or something.  Those were my best slices, btw.

So, my thoughts:
1) It was fun building the stands and slicing some bottles up.  It's always great when I find a project to use some of my scrap wood.  I had a lot of fun stretched over two days.
2) As expected (feared) this is not really a slicing blade.  Badger blades are built for strength, not speed.  Most slices went through, but not necessarily as cleanly as I would have liked.  It was probably a combo of me swinging, my sharpening job, and the sword's capabilities.  I'm sure I was most of the problem. 
3) In previous testing, this sword proved excellent in clearing saplings and brush along the drainage ditch out back. 
4) In short, it's a better hacker than slicer, and
5) I'll behead the holy hell out of an ogre if I ever see one.
MHI 1895

Good shooting,

Sunday, June 10, 2012

River Dogs - Float 2012

Nothing too exceptional happened this year and Bill's doing a great running blog on Facebook, so I'm not going into much overall detail.  Three things:  I promise.

1) We had to float a different section of the river(s) this year due to low water and consequently camped in a different area.  We floated the Jack's Fork from Alley Spring 15 miles until the confluence with the Current and then seven more miles to Powder Mill/Owls' Bend..  Nice, small campground with only 10 sites, but only about half were filled and we got on the end.  Good site altogether.
2) We went from Saturday through Monday instead  of the usual F-S.  The first day was insanely packed, as we were far enough down river to have rafts in the mix.  (We normally like to canoe before rafts can be used.)  However, we didn't see anybody Sunday morning until 11:00.  Big happiness, that.  Also saw very few all day.  Monday it was virtually all ours.  We passed the confluence on day two, so day three was just five miles on the current.  As that point, it was just floating along making good time.  No effort required as compared with the upper Jack's or Current. It was strangely relaxing to not have to work on the water before having to drive three hours home.  I felt better rested at the end of the float than I can ever remember, and I only got about six hours sleep.
3) GK1 and RT are apparently the only two who can still hang late night by the campfire.  Everyone else scurried into their tents at the sign of a little sprinkle and missed the glorious full moon, growing ever more clear, as the clouds faded into mist, and then into oblivion, leaving that celestial orb glowing over the mighty bluffs, looking down protectively over the beach, and casting shadow as if in daylight.
Good Shooting,

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Rifle Search

So.  Today (9 Jun 12) was national Take Your Daughter to the Range day.  I thought I might try to get Mini Tornado to the range, finally, but once again got bogged down trying to find the perfect first rifle.  And she had a birthday party, so it wasn't happening anyway.  There are several very good to excellent to 'no thanks' starter guns with a very short LOP for small shooters.  In no particular order:  Savage Rascal, Henry Minibolt, Cub, Crickett, Stevens Favorite, Marlin XT-22, T/C Hot Shot, H&R Youth, etc.  Since I was going to have a day in Memphis, I printed out a list of the five or six largest gun sellers in the town.

At the start of the day, I wasn't sure what I wanted, but I knew it wasn't a Crickett.  The T/C is the favorite, but the Henry, Savage or Stevens would have gone home...if I'd seen one. 
Bass Pro had a Marlin XT-22 (box mag) and a "Remington 514" which was just the XT-22 in a single shot version.  They both sucked mightily.  Damn you Freedom Group!
Guns and Assholes had two Cricketts and an H&R with the horrible sights. 
That's it.  That's all the starter rifles in Memphis.  Sad, right? Locally, Wal-Mart has a Crickett and the LGS has two Cricketts.  Oh well, even without handling one, I went ahead and placed the order with J&J Firearms for a T/C Hot Shot (Pink Camo) and a Tapco T6 Adjustable Stock for the 10/22.  MT will have a semi-auto available when she's ready to advance past single shot.

That's it right there.  19" barrel, 30" overall, peep and post, reports of dime size accuracy at 50 yards.  Niiice.  I'm probably way more excited than she is.
Good Shooting,

Saturday, April 28, 2012

If it's vegetarian is it still chili?

So, RT's been in a chili mood for the past few weeks and experimentation has been the name of the game.  Mostly trying different combinations of beans and chilis because you can't adjust the spices too much or you end up with chili flavored soup.  Which, I might add, is also delicious, but a completely different animal.  Or rather vegetable.  When the soup gets tiring, add chili seasonings and finish it off, I always say.  But, not unexpectly if you've ever read one of my blogs before, I digress.
So, I came up with a pretty excellent 3x8 vegetarian chili.  That's three beans and eight peppers.  I'm never exactly sure on the count since the 'eight' counts bell pepper but doesn't count the chili powder.  Since hot peppers are actually chilis, the green pepper. pepperoncini, and possibly the Anaheim pepper may be the only peppers included, but there's not a standardized method of differentiation, and it's different in other English speaking countries, and I can't get out of this sentence, and so it's just simpler to count anything that is commonly referred to as a pepper as one of the peppers whether it's really a chili or not.  Deep breath!  Okay, let's get to it.

***I don't have an ingredient list yet, but I'll keep a running total and have it at the end.**
1) I started with about 2 1/2 cups of dry beans.  I went with about 40% pinto and about 30% each of black and red beans.  I did a quick soak (bring to a boil, remove from heat, and let stand covered for an hour), drained, added fresh water, and cooked them until they were ready.  About an hour I think.
2) While they were cooking I chopped up two small onions, two Anaheim peppers, one Bell pepper, about five tobasco peppers, 1/4 cup or so of pepperoncini, some jalapeno rings, and five 'hot chili peppers'.  No kidding, that's what they're called on the jar.  No actual name.  But, some detective work lead to the discovery that under the ingredients they were referred to as chile cascabella.  I added all of the above to about 5 tbs minced garlic and a couple of tbs oil  in a covered skillet and sauted at low heat while the beans were cooking. 
***A note on jalapenos.  The last jar I got were listed as "Hot" which means they're not the mild jalapenos normally sold to American consumers.  They normally have about five times the Scoville units as the 'normal' jalapenos found in the grocery store.  A jalapeno here has about 1000 Scovilles, and a jalapeno in Mexico has about 5000 Scovilles.  So, be careful.  IJS.***
3) When the beans are done, drain again, and add water just short of covering the beans.
4) To the beans, add a 28oz can of diced tomatoes (or 2-15 oz cans, or fresh tomatoes, whatever you've got) the pepper/onion/garlic mixture, and the spices.  (See below)  Fair warning, the cayenne and red pepper amounts are guesses.  I'm not exactly sure how much 5 shakes equals in actual measure, also I don't remember how many shakes I used. So, add....some.  Some is good.

1 cup Pinto beans
3/4 cup black beans
3/4 cup red beans
2 small or 1 large onion
2 Anaheim peppers
1 Bell pepper
5 Tobasco peppers
1/4 - 1/2 cup pepperoncini rings
4-5 cascabella peppers
5 hot Jalapeno rings or 1/4 cup Americanized jalapeno
5 Tbs minced garlic
2 Tbs oil
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (5 shakes)
1 Tbs crushed red pepper (7 shakes)
2 1/2 Tbs chili powder
2 1/2 Tbs cumin
2 Tbs dried oregano leaves
1/2 Tbs paprika

I think that's it.  It came out really tasty and had a nice heat quotient, but wasn't too fiery.  Oops, I double checked the cabinet to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything, and I had.  Of course.  I tossed in 3 beef boullion cubes and one chicken boullion cube because that just shows the crazy, unpredictable, devil-may-may care attitude RT has in the kitchen. EOL.
Happy cooking,

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Petrino Time

Okay, I held off a while to let the pain die down for my Hog fan friends, but it's time.

Let's talk about Bobby 'fucktard' Petrino. What an ass. But really, what did you expect? When he was hired four years ago, I warned all my Hog friends that this was going to end badly. When you hire a coach who has proved he'll lie to his employers while shaking their hand, you know you've hired a liar. When you hire a coach who will leave his current team in midseason to take your job, you know you've hired someone who has no loyalty. When you hire a coach who will interview elsewhere behind your back, you know you've hired someone devoid of integrity. **I'm coming back to this, code word: wombat**

Honestly though, this wasn't the end I foresaw. I thoroughly expected him to improve Arkansas enough to get into a Cotton Bowl (or similar), and leave after the season for a more glamorous job, leaving the team to be coached in the Bowl Game by an assistant coach; deserting players, staff, fans, and administration like a two dollar whore on the side of the road. I actually halfway expected him to be at Ohio State last year. That would have fit his M.O. to a T. (See what I did there?)

However, I didn't realize he also had a generous helping of stupidity thrown in with the other undesirable traits. So, you're a rich and famous coach, and you have a 25 year old girlfriend. So what? It's the SEC; successful coaches can get away with that without even raising eyebrows. It's probably expected. (I don't know for sure, I'm still trying to get the feel of the SEC, but I feel sure that if Nick Saban was human he'd have a girlfriend; and she'd be better looking than Petrino's.) But when you hired Jessica Dorrell for a position (missionary, presumably) that pays $55,700! For which she's unqualified! Over 158 other applicants! It's gone beyond coaching. That's HR territory, sexual harassment, and they don't fuck around with impropriety down in HR. But the thing is: even with all that, he probably could have still gotten away with it if he'd kept it on the down low. Just be cool. Just don't create a national story that can't be covered up. Oops! Damn! UA thought and thought, and hemmed and hawed, and just couldn't come up with a way to justify not firing him. God knows Jeff Long tried.

Jeff Long. WTF!?! Seriously, he tried everything he could to not have to fire Petrino, but he just couldn't pull it off. There was one way. He would have had to hold a press conference and say, "Football is more important to the University than anything else so we're keeping the coach! Fuck sexual harassment laws, fuck fair hiring practices, fuck academics, and fuck Ole Miss!" He'd have to throw in the Ole Miss line to get all the Hog fans in line, obviously. (Non Arkansans might not get that, just think of MU and those ass-licking, blue and red chicken fuckers to the west and you'll understand.) But I digress. WOMBAT! (Remember the code?) Jeff Long is being hailed as a hero of all that is good and noble in college administrations....but he's the one who hired Petrino in the first place! Long hired a known liar, quitter, and sleaze, and now, somehow, he's getting credit for firing him for being a liar and a sleaze. Dafuq? And if anybody believes Long didn't know about Jessica Dorrell's hiring in the first place, I've got a beautiful bridge over by Caruthersville for sale. Reaches all the way across the Mississippi River to Fantasy Land.
Happy Kickoffs,

P.S. M-I-Z! Go Tigers! Z-O-U! Also, thanks to UA for giving us something to laugh about our first year in the SEC. You shouldn't have, but it's such a thoughful present.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Care and Feeding of a Cast Iron Skillet

A cast iron skillet (henceforth referred to as a CIS) should, IMO, be the first piece of cookware acquired when one arrives at a situation where they will be responsible for feeding their own damn self...usually moving away from home, finishing college, or whatever occasions your first apartment. (Yankees may be exempt from this rule, I have no idea what you cook. Or with what you cook it. Some kind of pot, I assume.)

Anyway, besides cornbread, fried chicken, corn fritters, fried eggs, and...well, anything fried really, the CIS can also be used as an emergency home defense tool. Just apply like any other bludgeoning weapon. Generally to the head. But I digress.

If you are fortunate enough to inherit a well seasoned CIS from your Grandma or mom, congratulations, you're halfway home. If you have to purchase your own, fortunately, they're cheap and readily available. Get the standard 10" skillet. Don't get the cute little 7" or the giant 13", they have their places, but are of marginal utility. Don't get non-standard stuff until you know exactly why you need it. (This applies to everything, not just cookware. eg. Electronics, gun accessories, makeup, whatever.) (Again, but I digress.) (Apparently all I do it digress. I should change the blog name to Parenthetical Digressions.)

So...you're home with your brand new CIS. Yay! Now, of course, you want to season it properly so it will provide a lifetime of good cooking. First, remove labels that may have been stuck on. If glue is left, remove it. (***If you absolutely have to, you may use soap and water, just this once. Water should never again touch your skillet. Dry it immediately and completely. Iron rusts!***) Now that it's clean and dry, get some corn/vegetable oil and oil the whole skillet liberally. Completely. Cover it all. Now bake it at low oven (225ยบ) for about an hour. Remove and wipe the excess oil from the handle, bottom, and outsides with a towel. Now it's ready to start using.

Here's the secret to proper seasoning and making it non-stick. After using your CIS, don't wash it. Just wipe it out with a towel or bar mop. (Yes, I keep about a dozen or so bar mops and use them in lieu of paper towels. I use about half a roll of paper towels per year, so that's my contribution to the environment.) If necessary, it can be scraped, but make sure it doesn't stay dry. Eg, baking cornbread will soak up all the oil, so after wiping it out, oil it again to make sure it is well protected. As you use it over the years, just follow these steps and you'll eventually have a well seasoned and pretty well non-stick frying surface.
Happy cooking,