Saturday, January 31, 2009

Entry for January 31, 2009

ARGH! More darned vehicle repairs!

My paternal grandfather never owned a car; he walked to and from the factory every workday for 30-years. He warned all of his children and grandchildren that cars keep most people broke.
Papaw was a smart man.

We all know that a new vehicle is only new until we drive it home. Once we park it in our driveway, we then own a used car that loses value as fast as a 401K plan did in the year 2008. My spine convulses every time I look at the sticker prices of the new vehicles. With few exceptions, after 10-years and 150,000 miles, the vehicle we paid $25,000 - $50,000 for is essentially valueless.

Before the crash of the financial institutions, some people financed vehicles for 84 months in order to afford the monthly payments. Many people owe far more money than their respective vehicle is worth; they are “upside down.” When they go to trade in their old wreck, they wind up rolling the amount they still owe into the loan for the new vehicle (such subprime loans are probably now nearly impossible to obtain). Whether you pay cash or make payments, a new vehicle is one hell of an expense.

Fortunately, my 1999 GMC Safari van was paid off long ago. I need to balance the expense of repairing it versus the expense of buying something new. Alas, it has once again betrayed me by going berserk; the starter began mysteriously engaging when the engine was running. Yep, there is nothing like driving down the road to the sound of your starter randomly grinding away at your flywheel. Normally an engine will only start when the transmission is in park or neutral. Mine decided it would start with the shift indicator in ANY position. Having a vehicle that will start while in gear is not a good thing. According to some internet searches, a wiring harness may have shorted out due to the years of abuse from the tilt steering wheel. Others search results say the problem is the ignition switch. Diagnosing the problem is straightforward; replace expensive components until the problem goes away. If I screwed up while trying to change the ignition switch myself, I could wind up with a face full of inflated airbag. Not feeling adventurous enough to try the repairs myself, I got the old van started and then yanked the “enable relay” to keep the starter from trying to engage during the drive to the repair shop. When the repair shop gave me a free loaner vehicle, it was a hint that the repairs were not going to be cheap.

Annual repairs on the old van are now over the line, costing me more than half of what it would cost to finance a new vehicle of equal size and equipment. With the hope that General Motors soon will be building some better gas mileage into their bigger vehicles, I’m still going to try to last another year or so with this van. It is hard for me to remain optimistic; so much has gone wrong with it lately and so many expensive problems are still possible. It has become a jinx; each time I think the van is running extraordinarily well, some new gremlin attacks.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blagojevich gets The Black Spot



Regardless of his delusions,
erstwhile Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich obviously does not stand with the likes of Gandhi or Martin Luther King. He stands as a common criminal, judged by his peers, the collective criminals of the Illinois Senate. Today’s theatrics was a living version of Treasure Island, with the pirates sitting in judgment of Long John Silver, and then presenting him with The Black Spot. “For the high-crime of getting caught, we charge thee! All in favor say arrrrrrr!”

Blago, you are no longer Captain, and your mates ban you from practicing piracy in Illinois ever again. They will divide amongst themselves what was to be your share of the booty.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ammo run



Forgive me for I have sinned. I am very passionate about BUYING GOODS MADE IN THE USA, but I recently made a choice to save money by buying some ammo imported from the Czech Republic. Domestic ammo is becoming prohibitively expensive.

There was no reason for me to add to the ammo cache; barring extraordinary events, I should have enough ammo to last a lifetime of regular trips to the range. Still, can one every have too much ammunition? Maybe I should place just one more order…

Sellier & Bellot .45 ACP with 230-grain full-metal-jacket bullet, Boxer-primed, fully reloadable brass case. Rated 853 fps at the muzzle and 371 foot-pounds.

I have heard good things about this ammo. Sometime during this week, I hope to burn through some to see how it performs.

Monday, January 26, 2009

BLOGGER problems


I am suffering through some rare (for me) problems with Google's Blogger.

First off, some embedded-videos cause script error loops when exiting this site (I also have noticed it at some other Blogger based sites). I removed the offending video from here.

Second, some of the photos / images I had on the side and bottom of this site mysteriously went dead. I deleted some, others I tried to re-link with no luck. I will give Blogger another day to see if the problem corrects itself. I may need to reload the photos / images from scratch.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

BAILOUT!

I said it HERE, and I said it HERE. Don’t reward bad behavior; take the TARP money and loan it to banks that are not in trouble, contingent on their actually loaning the money to consumers, and contingent on their TAKING OVER THE TROUBLED FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS. Yes, let the losers FAIL with grace, which is the way the system is supposed to work. Crisis Solved. Give Money to Healthy Banks; Let FDIC's Bair Handle the Dying.

NOTE: Embedded video clip was removed from this post. It was causing a "script error" when exiting this site. The video is available at the link above.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Entry for January 21, 2009

I missed most of Tuesday’s Obamarama. A part of my day was getting ready for my semi-regular physical exam (I could not find a study guide). Another part of my day was the actual exam. Then there was my chasing to the pharmacy to fill the prescriptions so I can take all of the damn pills Dr. Doom says that I need in order to delay the graveyard dance.

Okay, so what if I am an acutely depressed aging fatman with high blood pressure and a taste for cigars, booze, and rich food? Is that really so wrong? I am not overweight. My skeleton is insufficient for my body mass. Obama’s health reform needs to find some medical miracle to stretch my bones so I am 6’6’’ tall instead of 5’8’’ and then everything is proportional.

Little bastard doctor says that I am fat. Hey Doc! You are ugly and you need to go back to med school! You are supposed to use a finger to do a digital rectal exam, not bury your arm all the way to your elbow. My blood pressure was normal BEFORE you did that. Furthermore, the next time you leave me standing buck-naked in an examining room, mark the door “occupied” so the nurse doesn’t put a little old Asian lady into hysterics by guiding her into the wrong room. “AIEEEEEEEE! JABBA! JABBA!”


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Kurt Hofmann



Occasionally I lose my belief that the pen can be mightier than the sword. When that blue cloud obscures my logic, I search for prose from a mighty pen to rekindle my faith.

Former paratrooper Kurt Hofmann suffered injuries in a 2002 car accident that resulted in wheelchair confinement for him. Like all residents of Illinois, Kurt has no right to carry a gun for self-defense; his options are limited to carrying pepper-spray and a prayer book.

Kurt has been a longtime gun rights blogger at
Armed and Safe, going by the handle of 45superman. He now has earned a gig as a columnist for the St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner. Give it a read and pass the word. Kurt is saying what we are all thinking, and for that, I am thankful.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Smith & Wesson Model 15-3



I was going to do a long blog about the S&W Model 15 Combat Masterpiece, but I found several other bloggers have “been there and done that” and they did it very well, so I’ll just paste some links and keep my remarks brief.

The revolver in the photo is a 1971 vintage
S&W Model 15-3, with the typical 4’’ barrel and .38 Special chambering. It is an old “cop gun”; one of many revolvers that some law enforcement agencies chose to trade in during their upgrade to semi-automatic pistols (many agencies chose to have their retired revolvers destroyed). Some agencies marked their service revolvers and some did not. This revolver has no identifying department markings so I have no idea where it served. It has some extraordinary holster wear, especially on the side-plate where it looks like a retention strap’s metal snap dragged every time the officer removed the revolver from its holster. Some of the gun’s bluing still has luster, but large areas along the barrel and trigger guard have been worn down to shiny metal. The grips show wear and are somewhat dry, but are still sound. The action of the gun was tight when I bought it, but some cylinder end-shake has developed because of my putting many +P rounds through it. I may send it in to have the end-shake and cylinder gap corrected, but I think I will leave the gun’s imperfect finish as it is, a testament to its years as a tool of law enforcement. For the $180 I paid for it, it was quite a bargain. I do not see too many of these old trade-ins on the gun store shelves anymore. My guess is that the days of readily finding one for less than $200 are gone. If you can find one for a decent price, they make great shooters and the .38 Special is a very adequate home defense / self-defense cartridge.
Click here to read Xavier’s range comparison of the S&W Model 15-3 Combat Masterpiece versus a Colt Diamondback.

Click here for Xavier’s explanation of what exactly makes The Combat Masterpiece a masterpiece.

EDIT 2/7/2011: CLICK HERE to visit the Fishing Musician and read about the stainless steel version of the Combat Masterpiece, the S&W Model 67

.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Otha Logan Zachary



Otha Zachary
Born in Jamestown, TN on Apr. 18, 1937
Departed on Jan. 6, 2009 and resided in Anderson, IN.


Anderson - Otha "Junior" Zachary, 71, Anderson, died January 6, 2009 at his residence after a courageous battle with brain cancer.

He was born April 18, 1937 in Jamestown, Tennessee, and lived in this area most of his life.

He retired from Delco Remy Division of General Motors after 27 1/2 years of service.

Junior was an avid Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears fan.

He is survived by his wife, whom he married June 13, 1999, Tracey (Stanley) Zachary; son, Matthew Zachary; daughter, Terri Hogue; brothers and sisters, Leon & wife, Orpha Zachary, Bob & wife, Mary Zachary, Bill Zachary, Danny Zachary, Linda Parks, Carolyn & husband, Dale Wiles, Larry & wife, Debbie Zachary; mother-in-law, Alice Stanley; sister-in-law, Sherri & husband, Earl Hatter; grandchildren, Ashley & huband, Wyatt Mendes, Adam Zachary, Cassandra Zachary, London Hogue & Logan Hogue; two great grandchildren, Lil Wyatt & Deavonte Walker; several nieces, including special niece, Lindsay Merrill, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and many friends.

The family would like to give special thanks to Southern Care Hospice.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Otha Alan & Dorothy (Slaven) Zachary; sons, Wes Zachary & Brian Zachary; brother, James Zachary; father-in-law, Donald Stanley, wife, Carla Zachary; and the mother of his children, Sondra Scroggins

Cremation will take place.

The above was copied from http://www.loosefuneralhomes.com/

NOTE: I originally had this posted as "Otha Allen Zachary Jr.", since I believed Uncle "Junior" was named after his father, "Otha Allen Zachary". It turns out Uncle Jr's name is "Otha Logan Zachary"; his first name is after his father and his middle name is after his paternal grandfather, "John Logan Zachary". There may or may not be a "Junior" on his birth certificate. Many knew him as "Junior Zachary".


Monday, January 5, 2009

Federal Nyclad .38 Special



Something old, something blue …

The “Chiefs Special” load is back; Federal’s P38M has returned!
Federal’s website is again listing the 125-grain Nyclad standard velocity (non +P) .38 Special ammunition. When Federal stopped producing it several years ago, the Nyclad .38 Special remained available from AMMOMAN.COM long enough for me to cache a couple-thousand rounds. If this new listing for the Nyclad is not a mistake, or some sick joke, I plan to add another thousand rounds of it to the ammo locker. I like this load for use in my S&W 442 and my Colt Agent; both are lightweight alloy-frame snubs.

The Nyclad bullet used in the .38 Special standard velocity cartridge is from a very soft lead (low antimony) and has a yawning hollow point; it is very easy for the low velocity slug to expand in tissue. The bullet’s nylon coating reportedly helps reduce airborne lead, and it helps prevent the soft lead from building up in the revolver barrels. The cartridge’s low recoil is very gentle on older alloy-frame revolvers, and gentle on the shooters. If you have a vintage snubnose that is not rate for +P ammo, the P38M may just be perfect for you. Almost all modern .38 caliber lightweight alloy-frame snub revolvers can safely fire +P loads. If the recoil from the +P loads gives you problems, you may also want to try the P38M.

As every shooter knows (or should know), there are no magic bullets. Expect none of the commercially available .38 Special cartridges to provide instant incapacitation of drug-crazed dragons. The Evan Marshall statistics show that from a 2’’ barrel the standard velocity 125 grain Nyclad .38 hollowpoint has a one-shot-stop about 63% of the time. The .38 Special 158-grain roundnose has a one-shot-stop record of only around 49% when fired from a 2’’ barrel. The +P 158-grain lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoint is successful from a 2’’ barrel 67% of the time (a load I favor for use in my heavier, steel-frame snubs).

Click here for an October 1999 evaluation of the 125-grain .38 Nyclad, performed by Firearms Tactical Institute.

Click here for The Highroad (forum) discussion regarding the return of the Nyclad.

Click here for everything you ever wanted to know about snubnose revolvers.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Stopping Power



I get occasional questions about which bullet caliber (and brand) provides the best “stopping power” and I don’t have a ready answer. I have chosen some guns and calibers that suit my little world, but my choices may not fit your world at all. I can recommend that you read
Grant Cunningham’s recent online series about self-defense, stopping power, and caliber.

When I first started reading gun periodicals back in the late 1960s, one of the first things I learned about firearms was the never-ending quest for the magic bullet. Article after article dealt with the stopping power failings police officers experienced when using round-nose bullets (ball ammo) in both revolvers and semi-automatics.
Many articles of that time noted that Lee Juras of Super Vel had improved stopping power by pushing lightweight hollowpoint bullets to high velocity. With the birth of Super Vel, the commercial race for the magic bullet was born. In the 1970s and 1980s, many police departments began performing their own tests of different ammunition. The discussions and debates continue to this day.

I have
all three of the books on stopping power written by Evan Marshall and Ed Sanow, and I highly recommend them. They are full of good information and many interesting stories. The most important thing I ever found about stopping power was the very first sentence of the first chapter of the first book. “Stopping power is an illusion.” No bullet will work 100% of the time.

Below you will find many links pointing to many sites, forums, and articles dealing with stopping power. Many are readily available to search engine keywords “stopping power,” while some are not.

Stoppingpower.net (Evan Marshall site and forum)

Stopping Power (Wikipedia)

A Beginner’s Guide to Stopping Power (Chuck Hawks)

StoppingPower.info

Box O’ Truth

All About “Stopping Power” (R.K. Campbell)

Fackler, Marshall, and Handgun Stopping Power Tests (Chuck Hawks)

Handgun Stopping Power Q&A (Chuck Hawks)

Stopping Power Statistics (Marshall & Sanow)

Ballistics By The Inch

FBI: Handgun Wounding Factors (The Gunzone)

FBI: Miami Firefight Conclusion (The Gunzone)

The Strasbourg Tests: The Goat Papers, Part III (The Gunzone)

Choose Your Ammo … Police Style (Massad Ayoob)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

It is too late to fix the year 2008; things will be fine in 2009; if not, we’ll try again in 2010.