April 2011 Journal

Upper and Lower Kitty

Every boy should grow up having a dog. Pretty much everyone agrees on that. He should also grow up in the presence of a cat. It till help him in his relationships with women. No man understands cats, and no man understands women. Once he comes to the inevitable conclusion that he doesn't understand this magnificent creature, the cat and never will, his failure to understand the women in his life will not bother him so much. Additionally, if he can keep a cat happy some of the time, he can probably keep a woman happy some of the time.

March 28-31, 2011

Finally had the appointment with the neurosurgeon at the VA. The ulnar nerve surgery is now scheduled for April 19. If all goes well, I'll be able to shoot Buffalo Stampede, then get the surgery, then be shooting again by early June, in time for End of Trail.

It only took 4 years to schedule the surgery. Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be soldiers. The punishment for being a soldier as a youth is the VA hospital system. No good deed goes unpunished.

That's the first of 2 surgeries needed. Thanks to the assistance of the neurosurgeon's nurse, I FINALLY have at least another consult with the hand surgeon who hasn't answered my phone calls since our last appointment in November. We'll see when the surgery is then scheduled--if it is. I won't know that until April 18th.

Had a delightful dinner with Tex and Cat at the Church St. Cafe, possibly the best Mexican Restaurant in ABQ. The fajitas compare well with the original Ninfa's in Houston. The margaritas have actual alcohol in them.

March 27, 2011, Sunday

Smart Car on a trailer

A neighbor has a Smart Car for his "Toad." For some reason he has it on a trailer. I've seen them flat towed, so I assume it has the wrong transmission. Flat towing is considerably easier than a trailer.

Allegro Bus with a Harley on a Cruiser Lift

This Allegro Bus has a Harley on a Cruiser Lift, with a flat-towed Toad behind it. The Toad has bicycles behind it on its trailer hitch. The bicycles have on their trailer hitches...

Went to the RGR match. They had their annual meeting, no bombshells.

Before I could even get set up, the Rugged Gear guncart broke in half:

I believe I need some new decals for the cart "Delicate Gear"

I'll call them in the AM. It's a known problem. Just went to their website. In order to send them an email, you have to use their form, which (a) doesn't allow you to send them photos and (b) requires reading one of those boxes with screwed up text that you can't tell is lower or upper case, then copying it below. if you do it wrong your entire computer catches fire and burns your house down--unless it's a Mac, of course. I hate those things. The first time it had a J and a G. You look at those and you think, stupidly, that they're upper case. After all, j and g don't look anything like J and G. Wrong.

Rio Grande Renegades Match

The RGR match was a good one. Good stages. No, "What the heck did they do that for?" instructions, no procedural traps. They did use those words I'll never use in writing a stage: "From left to right." Didn't bother me, but one controversial procedural occurred when the shooter shot SG target 1, then 2, missed 2, re-engaged and hit 2, then swung to the other side and hit 4, then 3. There were other questions of, "Do I have to make up a shotgun miss before going to the next one?" Naturally they came to me (that black pin thingie). I said no, because the instructions didn't say so (fortunately). You've engaged the target, so you've complied with the instructions. You can make them up at any time, even if you have finished all 4. That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

Anyway, I couldn't hit the broad side of a 10" target, missing 1 on each of the first 4 stages, 2 due to the ulnar nerve/thumb problem. Had one decent stage, a 28 (decent for me in current condition at least. That's about as good as I can do a 10-10-4 stage right now.)

Tex showed up wearing a new black D Bar J Texas Torpedo. Should've gotten a picture. I told him we need a "Coneheads" posse at Buffalo Stampede of tall sombrero wearers. He figured it would just be the two of us.

Prescott Boss of the Plains

D Bar J "Prescitt" BOP

Tex took some photos of me in the D Bar J "Prescott" Boss of the Plains

D Bar J "Prescott" Boss of the Plains in pure beaver

Pure Beaver, like original Boss of the Plains. I've always liked pure beavers

Great hat to shoot in. I averaged 3 pieces of brass per stage captured by the hat and dumped on the unloading table

March 26, 2011, Saturday

Went to Founders' Ranch to be an extra on a western being filmed there as a class project in UNM's film school. VERY cold. Lots of standing around in the cold and windy. I got picked to be the dealer in a couple of poker scenes in the Happy Jack Saloon, so I wound up with some lines, probably not going to get me a SAG card, though. Lots of fun. Some people were changing clothes multiple times. One soiled dove removed her bra and threw it to the bartender, all in a PG manner. Darn. It seemed to be a party in the bar, lot of boisterous laughter.

Director (red coat) explaining what he wants to the extras and still photographer

Director with horse types

carriage was used in several scenes

Horse types wait

Leading lady (big hat) gets her gunbelt fitted to her.This was pretty ambitious for a student project. A Costumed period drama is the hardest to produce. There was this herd of cats, the extras, who brought their own costumes. There were horses. They needed a wagon, and multiple sets. They couldn't have done it without Founders Ranch and the SASS extras. One can quickly see why movies cost so much to make. The poor kid putting it on did remarkably well, especially since several of his team bailed Friday night, leaving him, a new cinematographer, and a still photographer. Everyone else was a neighbor, friend, or SASS member. Modern equipment helped a lot. He couldn't have done this with film cameras. Too much money involved. The movie (video) camera was the size of a 35 mm SLR with a mike boom on top, and the principle actors had mikes on them. That was it. He got a lot accomplished to film the story in one day. Now comes the hard part, the editing. They'll be showing it at a film festival of student films in May.

March 25, 2011, Friday

Mobile RV repair guy Jason Quinn, RV Specialties, 505-480-9882, came back to work on the battery tray slide-out and the washer-dryer. We were expecting both problems to be time-consuming and expensive. He was going to have to cut-off and re-weld the slide-out tray latch, and the Splendide people told me if... then $500+.

But when he examined the slide-out latch he found a broken weld, which he re-did in half an hour. The washer-dryer turned out to just be a spring out of place.

Cheap. $187 including the last visit.

Ran errands. Then set up the water softener. I had ordered parts. Most of them arrived. They left out an adapter. I could have gotten one from Home Lowe's, but The Redhead was off playing poker. The work-around took an hour or so. Didn't make it into the shop until after 2. Went to work on the XL650. Reassembled same and started doing one round at a time until I got the 2 adjustments on stage 5 to where they made a round 2.30" long with a good, deep crimp, and no "muffin top" ridge. Then loaded until 5. Much less trouble than I expected getting station 5 adjusted. Over the years I've gotten the weirdly shaped 7/8" wrenches needed to adjust the entire die. The inner adjustment uses the allen wrench from the Dillon set.

March 24, 2011, Thursday

While loading SG shells I managed to get a wad stuck in station 5. This happens when you don't have a round in station 3 but have inserted a wad into the wad ram at station 3. It falls to the floor and gets picked up when it gets to station 5 where it gets stuck in the die. This will, of course, crush the next round. After you've seen it the first time, you'll recognize it the next time. The normal fix is to pull the wad out with some needle nose pliers. That didn't work. After half an hour of trying that I removed the head so I could get to the bottom of the die. That meant emptying the shot container, which, of course, had about 20 lb. in it.

I still couldn't get the crushed wad out of the die. I wound up having to remove and disassemble the die to get the wad out. That's where I left things. I'll put everything back together and readjust the die at station 5 tomorrow.

March 23, 2011, Wednesday

Too cold to go to the RGR practice session. It's not that I can't practice in the cold, it's the likelihood no one else will be there. You can't shoot alone at that range.

Worked in the garage. I've now loaded up all of my 105 gr. bullets. Time to switch to the shotgun loader. Got started, did a box or 2.

Wind 1, Coleman 0

Coleman RoadTrip Grille after a NM Wind.

The wind storm knocked over a heavy Coleman RoadTrip grille. Perhaps the cover caught the wind. Don't know. It's folded up now. You can't fall off the floor.

March 22, 2011, Tuesday

Snowing in Edgewood/Founders Ranch area. Average speed of wind is cat 2 hurricane. Tex had planned a training session for newcomers at Founders Ranch. I volunteered to help. It was cancelled.

Sent the electronic earplugs to SportEar for repairs, FedUp 2 day air.

Mernickle Plainsman belt prototype

Mernickle Plainsman Belt Prototype

Mernickle Plainsman belt prototype.

Made on reverse curve, holds 10 shotgun, 12 .45-70 rounds. It's designed for a left-handed shooter who loads his rifle with his right hand. The rifle rounds have 1" loops, 1/4" space below, then leather "stop." The goal is to be able to pick up 4 rifle rounds at once.

March 21, 2011, Monday

Went to see Rango. Not bad.

March 20, 2011, Sunday

German RV

German RV

German RV

Big vehicles licensed in Germany have a decal on the left upper quadrant of the rear panel with the speed limit for that vehicle. This one has 100, meaning 62 mph.

Went to an antique mall Found this photo with "Baylor,Ft. Davis-1881" on the back:

\Antique photo:  "Baylor, Ft. Davis, 1881"

March 19, 2012, Saturday

Shot at Rio Grande Renegades. Didn't do well. 2 Procedurals, 4 or 5 misses. Started with "Heaven" and "Hell." "Hell" had a cap only ignition on stage one, and the RO stopped me and had me put it down. I got a reshoot, of course, as it wasn't a squib. "The Book" calls this a no call, but if the RO is uncertain, and he's wrong, the shooter gets a reshoot. If he's right, and it's a squib, then he did the right thing. At big matches it becomes a problem if one RO gives reshoots, and another doesn't. Thus the "no call" rule, and the requirement at big matches that ROIs or above should be timer operators. Lassiter, one of the best posse marshals in the business, treats it as a possible squib. He's one of the guys I would never argue with. He explains it in the posse marshal briefing, so everyone knows what to expect.

BTW, one of the shooters called the wallpaper for this month (Raquel Welch as "Hannah Caulder") pornography. If that's true, shouldn't I be charging $29.95 a month for access to this site? I could use the money.

We went to the Owl Cafe for ice cream afterwards, a table of 7 including Tex and Cat. I picked up The Redhead on the way.

March 18, 2011, Friday

Obama reacts to the crisis

Ran errands. Bought stuff at Sportsman's Warehouse and got a belt clip pouch for the iPhone. The clip on thingie they sold me when I got it was driving me crazy. The belt clip dug into my skin, and the slide-in, slide out mechanism totaled 2 stick on plastic shields. The wallet-like pouch is a lot simpler.

Worked in the garage getting the guns clean. Match tomorrow, Rio Grande Renegades.

March 16-17, 2011

Best Used Car Ad Ever (it would have to be for me to post a BMW ad. BMW is, after all, the Devil's car company.):

Best used car ad ever.

Worked like hell on the May column. Finally sent it in after 11 PM Thursday.

The shotgun belt for Plainsman matches Bob Mernickle and I worked up at WR came. Looks really good. Photos will follow after I get to try it out.

Went to the VA and changed addresses with them. They keep trying to send me to Houston for evaluations, so I use the local addresses and change when I move to one from the other. Silly. It means that both ABQ and PHX make me come in for annual physicals. But maybe, just maybe they won't send me to Houston.

March 15, 2011 Tuesday

Made it to Enchanted Trails RV Park, or, as it's noted on my Facebook page, Camp Baylor ABQ.

March 14, 2011 Monday

Loaded the SUV in the trailer and drove the rig to the Holbrook, AZ KOA. The steering has gone wonky again, not centered, and darty. Oh, well.

March 13, 2011 Sunday

Finished up getting things ready to travel. Worked on the May column. It's due soon.

March 12, 2011 Saturday

Day by Day Cartoon

Some things don't change. When we came home from the Southeast Asian Unpleasantness, we were called baby killers and war criminals by the media. Now the kids come home from the sandbox to the same treatment. The 'crimes' aren't happening in the sandbox. They're happening in the anti-American media.

Last match in AZ, ACSA at Ben Avery. Good match. Lots of friends on the posse. 5 misses anyway.

March 11, 2011, Friday

gas prices, unleaded --LOL, Plus--OMG, Premium—WTF.

It gets even worse with diesel. You remember diesel, that cheap stuff that comes out of oil that used to be about 2/3rds the price of gasoline?

Breakfast at The Good Egg, using our Free Breakfast card (eat there 5 times and get a free meal). As usual, excellent. Finished up the shop for travel.

The Shop, in process

In process. Everything moved to the driver's side so I can clean the passenger's side. Went over the countertop with a vacuum. Vacuumed the countertop, then went over it with compressed air and vacuumed again, then used Simple Green all purpose cleaner with a lemon scent. Better than the regular Simple Green in an enclosed space. Then started on the floor, at the workbench area being the worst. Ran the magnet, Vacuumed, compressed air, spray, scrub, wipe, sometimes repeat. Moved everything to the driver's side. Cleaned the passenger's side to the back, back door open. Then moved things to the right side and did the driver's side. Lots of hands and knees. Found a 1/32" drill bit with the magnet.

The shop, ready to load the SUV.

Now the shop is ready to load the SUV. The Windex, Invisible Glass, and 303 Protectant will be used on the bus before leaving, then stowed.

Rearward view of the shop, cleaned out ready to load the SUV

Rearward view, the shop ready to load the SUV. Yes, those orange spots on the back door are targets for dry firing.

March 10, 2011, Thursday

Gave the SKB to Johnny Meadows. He's on his way to Gathering of the Posses at Casa Grande. I don't believe I mentioned that Michael Bane now has one of his SKB's, having given up on '97s except for WB, and Stoegers. There used to be a slogan: "What this country needs is a good 5 Cent cigar." Modernizing that, "What this country needs is a good $600 hammerless double." Stoeger sells those POS shotguns because they have no competition. When the soft metal comes apart, they won't work on it, and they won't sell you or your gunsmith parts. Jim Bowie got it right. "If you want to shoot a Stoeger, you get one, get it prepped, and shoot it for 5 years. When it breaks get another one." Been there, done that. Wrote about it in the CC. Stoeger has my face on a wanted poster now, Dead or Alive, preferably dead. Bonus if I'm killed with a Stoeger.

Went to the only barber shop in Anthem, AZ. Sat in the waiting room while the barber cut one guy's hair. Then the barber, with a bit of an attitude, told me he was booked until 1230. It was 11. Needed to go to Wally World. While there got my hair cut and shampooed, no waiting, 15 minutes. Nice job. It's not like it's hard to do my hair. Use a #8 clippers on the top, #3 ont the sides, and taper down to #0 around the edges. And I tip big. I TRIED to use the local business.

Worked in the shop. Took The Redhead to Affinito's Italian Bistro in Anthem. The tomato basil soup is fantastic. The veal piccata is superb. The staff is outstanding. We're always treated well. It's a safe place to take friends.

March 8-9, 2011

The Shop From Hell—I'm slowly getting it ready to move next week. I also did things like cleaning guns and loading up the rest of the shot into shotgun shells. Those were smart things.

Not every thing I did in the shop was smart. Two Dot had told me his SKB malfunctioned because slivers of wood from the stock got into the action—twice. So, when cleaning the guns, I decided to take Johnny Meadows' advice (to Two Dot) about it and coat the wood in the stock where it touches the metal with a thin coat of epoxy. That went without a hitch, but the innards of the shotgun fell on the floor, better known as the abyss where parts go to die. These are little pieces. I spent an hour or more with a magnetic sweeper, magnetic probes, and other magnets and recovered what I think all of the parts were. The other SKB has 2 C-clips. I didn't find any C-Clips, just a couple of washers the same size. I know they were used because one fell off, and the other was still in the gun.

Called Johnny Meadows. He's meeting Half-A-Hand-Henry in the morning at the entrance to Ben Avery. I'll meet him then and give him the gun and the parts. The parts, by the way, are all imbedded in clear packing tape inside a cloth bag. The damn washers, for example, were capable of disappearing from a magnetic parts tray, as was one spring. Found them both about a decade later.

Found a lot of missing small parts—REALLY small parts. When I get to it the last thing before vacuuming and cleaning the floor, I'll use the magnets again. I usually find most of the parts that go into the abyss then. That's why I have several of each commonly lost small part for Rugers and Dillon.

March 7, 2011, Monday

Worked in garage, made a hat-brim flattener, and worked on column.

The hat brim flattener was suggested by the folks at D Bar j. When I was in Vegas I had them flatten several hats that are supposed to have flat brims. They all reverted when they got back to the bus.

Brim Flattener

Bottom is 2' x 2' x1/2" plywood. Top is 1/4" plywood with oval cut out (using pattern from the cardboard flattening piece that flat-brimmed D Bar J hats are shipped with. It will need enlarging on left side for some hats, in front for others to handle bows and knots in hatbands and cords). Initially I just connected the pieces with 1/4" bolts. If it works as advertised I'll put hinges on one side and thumb screws on the bolts on the other side. Less work in putting hats in and taking them out. Cat not included.

I'm working on a column about Boss of the Plains hats, an extremely influential and popular hat in the old west. Cowboy hats all evolved from the BOP. I have 2 special ones from D Bar J to help:

Charcoal BOP

This is a charcoal 4 x 4 Boss of the Plains with Grosgrain ribbon band and bound edges. Black hats were rare because of the dyes of the day. They faded immediately to charcoal. This one has a slight dip in the front of the brim. This is the standard crown of the BOP. Like many of the original ones, this is a 100% beaver hat.

Charcoal BOP with black cat

Here Angelique helps demonstrate the difference between black and charcoal. That's her story, and she's stickin' to it.

I should note that Dave put one of those marvelous pre-war hat sizing machines on my head and measured it. He does this every time I get a hat, usually with a different machine. When I put the hat on, it fit perfectly, as if... as if it had been custom made for my head

Prescott BOP in natural beaver

This is the more common color, natural beaver (there are several variations as you would expect). It has a Prescott crown, so called because a hat store in Prescott, Arizona sold this crown. The edge has a pencil roll and bound edge. It has a brown grosgrain ribbon hatband and edge binding. Yes, taking pictures with Angelique in the house is difficult.

Prescott BOP

Prescott BOP, side view showing the bow on the Grosgrain ribbon hatband. The bow was on the left because most men are right handed.

100% beaver in sweatband

I've always been a fan of pure beavers.

If you haven't seen me wearing this hat yet, it's because I wanted some good pictures for the article taken before the inevitable '73 ejected brass streaks dot the hat. It will clean up easier than cheaper hats, but, still, it'll get marked. A pure beaver hat will hold its shape longer, will have a sheen you don't see on lesser blends, and it's waterproof to some extent. If you make your living out in the boonies where a hat may be your only water container, then you need a pure beaver hat. If you want your everyday hat to outlive you, then you want a pure beaver hat. If you want your hat to look like it's been worn for 10 years in the saddle very quickly, then get a cheap hat. A wool hat will look worn out in a year or two of shooting.

Wool BOP after wear

This is a wool BOP after a few years. It lies in the back seat of the car, and I wear it when practicing. If it's going to rain during a match, I might wear this instead of putting a rain cover over a nicer hat. I've gotten hats wet that were 4-5X, probably rabbit fur, and getting them back into shape was a PITA. So I try to avoid it. Rand was very upset when I sent them a hat that had gotten wet. I guess it never rains in Montana.

Wool BOP

The hat changes shape every time it gets wet. I could reshape it and then use spray starch, but I like the "character."

Posse 18 at Winter Range

Major Photography just sent the posse photo from WR. I added it to the WR article, but if you have already read that, you would miss it if you didn't see it here. I'm thinking next time I need to do something to make my costume more visible in the posse photo.

March 6, 2011, Sunday

Went to the Cowtown match. I noticed Hey Grandpaw was working on a percussion pistol.

Hey Grandpaw, working on his Ruger Old Armies.

Another hotshot moves to Frontiersman after reading Frontiersman for Dummies.

The battery died on the Nikon, so I couldn't show the neat case he made for the extra cylinders he got from Ruger. You have to send the guns in, and they come back fitted with the last 3 digits of the serial number of the gun engraved on them. Somehow he got the guns to work with 17 lb. hammer springs. (No one else I know has 17 lb. springs in ROAs that work with percussion, so, if you must try them, get 18, 19, 20, and 21 lb. springs, too. I neglected to ask if they were Wolff springs. Wolffs are usually accurately marked. 3 of mine work with 19s, one with 21. All 4 have action work.)

Those of you who don't know Hey Grandpaw and his wife, elder statesman and grand dame respectively, don't know how fast this pair shoots, usually fast enough to drive one or two kids off the posse in tears. I shot with them at High Noon at the Tombstone Livery last year and was awed.

He inspired me. I shot clean, mostly in the low 30s, except for a 42 that included 2 required rifle reloads. Grandpaw shot well, but not quite that well. He'll be dangerous when he gets a little percussion practice in.

Nevada Jim and Nevada Fire came by to apologize for his not being at the match. Apparently I hadn't given him enough instructions for finding Cowtown, and he went to Ben Avery. By the time they checked for directions online, he had missed the match. Margaritas cured all. I'll remember to give better directions next time.

He misses a really fun match. I must mention that Cowtown, noted for close targets and fast stages, had 6 shots on rifle targets with pistols, rifle targets on the side of the hill on the other side of the "navigable waterway." Yes, the environmental wackos trying to shut us down call that gully a navigable waterway based on pictures from Shootout in the Saguaros 4 years ago when the 200 year flood hit. We came to the long-range pistol targets on our next-to-last stage, upping my heart rate a bit. I knew I could hit them, but after 4 clean stages there was more pressure. I slowed down (36, which included digging out the only hull that didn't eject smoothly that day) and hit them. I slowed on the last stage, too, nothing hard about it, but I didn't want to lose the clean match. I don't get that many.

As Evil Roy says, you'll never shoot faster than clean.

March 5, 2011, Saturday

Shot Rio Salado, 8 stages (!) not all that well, 5 misses, one safety. I had to stage the rifle vertically. Got back to it on the way to the unloading table and found the lever closed. "I need a safety." Beautiful day. Long, though. I guess people are seeing the black pin. A RO asked me to talk to a beginner who was sweeping with his cross-draw revolver, and he didn't want to DQ him. So I introduced myself to him and gave him a lesson on the cross-draw. Then I RO'ed him when he shot next. He had learned well and was no problem. Shot clean, 100 seconds, but clean.

March 4, 2011, Friday

Met the folks next door, Nevada Jim and Nevada Fire, from, you guessed it, Nevada, Las Vegas to be exact. They're in a 5th wheel with 3 Golden Retrievers. They're new to SASS. She went to Gunsite a couple of times for the Women's pistol course and 250, and he went for 250. Then at the NRA Convention they saw the SASS display and joined. He took my BP For Dummies class at the Convention. They were conventioneers at WR and are going to shoot Gathering of the Posses next weekend at Casa Grande. Nice people. Had them over for Margaritas. I invited him to Cowtown Sunday.

March 2-3, 2011

Worked in the garage, getting it ready for movement to ABQ. It was rather chaotic because of WR, and, of course, because I'm a slob. Almost ready. I have a good number of things to do on the bus, like checking the batteries, which still suffer from that broken tray latch problem.

March 1, 2011, Tuesday

The Mernickles came over for Margaritas. He wanted me to take a $550 B-Western rig for the prize won at WR. I talked him out of it. Should be a nice rig, something I'm much more likely to actually wear in competition.