June 2010 Journal

"Let us run the risk of wearing out rather than rusting out." Theodore Roosevelt

May 31, 2010, Monday

Memorial Day is for the dead, and the families of the dead. It's not for veterans, not combat veterans. We remember the friends who died, but then we never forget them. We might forget their names, but we won't forget the loss. Some we didn't know, but their deaths affected us more than we would expect. The lieutenant I replaced because he died in an ambush just before I arrived was one. A captain who died when Chon Than was hit one night and he tried to get from his bunker to the ARVN command bunker, and he didn't look before he leapt, and an NVA shot him was another. I thought that was a stupid thing to do until I started to do it when FSB Mary was hit, and I stopped before leaving the bunker and waited until I could see two guys without helmets. We wore helmets. The NVA didn't. Then there were the guys I did know My friend from Germany, Bobby Palk and I had lunch as I was leaving Saigon and he was arriving. He was on the missing list by the time I got to my stateside assignment and got an Army Times. A few issues later he was on the "missing to dead" list. I worked for a colonel who walked into a helicopter blade... I could go on, but I won't.

90% of Vietnam vets are dead now. The war will end when the last of us dies. If "The last Confederate Veteran" saga is any guide, the last "Vietnam vet" will be a phony. We've had our reputations damaged by phonies more than previous vets. The phonies are believed, and the real vets ignored. But, then, except for Confederate veterans, we came home to a worse reception than other vets, too. It's all water under the bridge now. I told The Redhead I should hide in the country where there is no TV or radio during the entire Memorial Day weekend. It's too depressing. I keep hoping that the Purple Heart will become a distant memory, but Presidents still send our best young men into harms way with one hand tied behind their backs. 1000 young men have died in Afghanistan now, most under Obama's watch. It doesn't sound like many, just like in my war having "light" casualties didn't sound bad... unless you were one of the casualties. One casualty is too much if it's you or your only son or your husband or father.

So on Memorial Day I just quietly repeat the toast. "Here's to us, and them like us, damned few, and most of us are dead."

May 30, 2010, Sunday

The Ruger Old Army saga:

You'll remember Jimmy Spurs got me the innards to rebuild the ROA's. The short stroke is nice if you can lighten the springs accordingly, but my thumb isn't working well. So I wanted normal throw but as light and smooth as possible.

A gunsmith fitted the parts, but the guns weren't "perfect." Eventually I talked Larsen E. Pettifogger into working on them. He has the smoothest ROA's I've handled, and he can diagnose what's going on in the gun better than most gunsmiths. ROA's have a lockup problem. If you short stroke it, it'll lock up one out of a hundred times or so. One gun, at least, has the problem. He knows the cure. Shortly after I gave them to him, he sent this letter:

Took them apart real quick to take a look. Hand on one (the one that locks up) is over .040" short. Spring in one (the heavy one) isn't a Ruger spring and drags on the strut. Ordered some new parts. When they get here I'll try to get everything up and running before EOT.

I sent a bunch of parts I had, pawls (hands), cylinder latches (bolts), springs, etc. Three days later I got this:

Your parts and the parts from Midway both got here today. I did forget one thing from Midway, but that was in your parts box so I have everything I need. The hammers had so much side to side movement that the bolt plunger was tilting the hammer to the side while it was on its way down after the trigger was pulled and the nose was rubbing on the right side of the frame. I put shims on the right hand side to push the hammer to the left. Only problem was that the shims are all for the current two-pin Rugers. The ROA is an old three screw design and the hammer screw is slightly larger than the current cross pin. Trying to enlarge the hole in some .005 stainless steel shims ain't easy, but the shims sure made a difference. The new hand needed fitting as two of the ratchet holes were ever so slightly off. Just enough so the hammer would sometimes not go to full cock. The strut on one had been ground so thin and re-welded a time or two and was useless. (The spring kept kinking and gave a terrible hammer pull.) Luckily I had a new strut in my parts box. Preliminary put together and fitting and they seem pretty smooth. Trigger pulls are right around 32 oz. I'm gonna put them aside for a while and try to work on the Burgess article and get that to you in a few days.

That was certainly encouraging. Then today I got this:

Took the ROA's out to Cowtown to test fire them. Fired over 50 rounds and they worked perfect. However, one was dragging a bit after about 15 rounds. Brought them home and checked the cylinder gaps. One was a tight .006 or a loose .007. In other words, right where I like to set them. The other was .003, i.e., too tight. Opened it up to .006 and now they both run like greased monkey snot. I used 26 grains of APP in them. I didn't like the hammers just messing with them at home. BUT, under recoil they are right where they should be. I shot some really fast times with them. (Even hit the targets!) I would have no hesitation using them at EOT. Only problem now is that I have to clean them.

:):):) I'm a happy camper, now. Thanks, Larsen!

Shot the Renegades 5th Sunday match. Variations of yesterday's match. Missed one. Jacked a round out of the rifle. Otherwise pretty good for a one-eyed fat man.

Mallard Fillmore Nails it Again:

May 29, 2010, Saturday

Rio Grande Renegades match, the "5th Saturday" match. Texas Tiger put it on. Lots of thought, lots of targets. Shot clean! First time at Renegades in what, 4 years? Then we had a man-on-man shoot off. Instead of poppers at the end you had to run to the horse in the center and grab the bandana. I got one by "sliding into home."

May 28, 2010, Friday

Took The Redhead to Route 66 Casino and ran errands, Lowe's and Wallie World. Then worked in the garage. Took Lefty Rhodes and his wife to the Church Street Cafe. Excellent fajitas. So far everything we've had there has been excellent.

May 27, 2010, Thursday

Went to a Verizon office and was waited on by a cute 15 year old named Ashley. Believe it or not, she solved the problem-with help from a cute girl of at least 18. She backdated a change to a rate plan designed for screw ups like this. They showed 10 gigs, and if I hadn't complained/begged for help, the bill would have been $2000! The rate for 10 gigs/month is $199. At the end of this month's billing cycle, we can get it changed back to 5 gigs for the next month. (We just started this month 7 days ago!!)

In addition to the 15 year old, an Air Force captain with pilot's wings was looking at phones. He looked maybe 19. I told him when I was a captain I looked even younger. He'd been flying C130s but was now flying predators.

Went to the VA for a torture session. The neurology department called it something about a nerve test. Electrodes are attached to various points on your arms and hands using stickies and alligator clips. Then a device with two prongs is pushed in over nerves and a shock is sent through, causing fists to clinch, etc. I would have told the doctor that it would never match waterboarding. I'd never talk no matter how long they did it.

Result was the left-arm ulnar nerve is definitely pinched. It'll be up to my primary care physician whether I'm referred to surgery. With the new requirement that any vet getting surgery sign a statement guaranteeing he will vote for Obama in '12, it's not likely.

I don't have carpal tunnel syndrome, though, which surprised me. Something else is wrong with the thumbs.

May 26, 2010, Wednesday

Thought for the day:

There is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra today than on Alzheimer's research. This means that by 2040, there should be a large elderly population with perky boobs and huge erections and absolutely no recollection of what to do with them.

Screw up of the month:

A few days ago I signed up with Carbonite for online backup. The "Mobile Me" backup that Mac has is $200 a year and cumbersome as hell, so I'm not renewing. The Redhead suggested I use the Verizon card since it'd backup quicker. So I did. 3 days later the Verizon log showed 8000 meg. used. Our limit is 5 gigs, and overages are $.25/Meg.

Now that's a screw-up!

She is not happy with me.

May 25, 2010, Tuesday

The refrigerator is cooling--for now. Went to Zia Rifle and Pistol Club with Lefty Rhodes. We wanted to shoot pop-up aerial targets. The cowboy target trailer has 2 SASS cowboys/launchers. We set them up and shot them till we were exhausted. I hit a surprising percentage since I generally suck at aerials. Lefty was obviously sandbagging, telling me he didn't hit many. He hit a lot. He was shooting a '97 and was shooting one, loading, and hitting the aerial... unless he dropped the shell, etc. Dollar Bill was shooting .22s on one side of the range because he came without ammo for his match guns. He kept insisting I shot his Marlin .22. Gotta have one someday.

As we finished up Lefty told me to try his '97, First pair put the second one in backwards. Second pair loaded and hit the aerial. Amazed myself.

cell phone photo of Lefty's living room in his 5th wheel. His wife must be a saint! For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a Dillon 650 with Case Feeder.

Took my Winchester '97 to jack Diamond. It's locked up in a manner I can't cure. Lefty went with me to get a Pioneer Gunworks Speed Sight for his '73 Codymatic. Jack installed it, making a shim to make it fit in the Uberti dovetail.

May 24, 2010, Monday

We talked with "the propane guy" who has a little RV supplies shack and does some things on RV's in the park. His suggestion was to turn the fridge off for at least an hour. Inside the tubing is ammonia under pressure. Pieces of the lining of the tubing can flake off and block an orifice (don't know what orifice, or care) and shut down the mechanism. If the flue is hot, but the tubing on the left (from outside the coach) is only warm, that's probably it.

So we got bags of ice (these things only happen after we've gotten $300 of food). Then we turned the fridge off and waited. The Redhead defrosted the freezer just to make sure.

We turned it back on in the afternoon. It was night before we concluded, with crossed fingers and toes, that it was getting cooler. We know from experience it takes overnight to get to target temperature.

Big sigh of relief.

Seen in Dallas:

courtesy of Jack Houston

May 23, 2010, Sunday

Shot the Rio Grande Renegades match. Good match. Probably the best I've been to there. Texas Tiger wrote the stages. A lot of work went into them. Very Winter Range-ish, a little of Founders Ranch events. No bad stages. On one after shooting the rifle targets, shoot six shotgun knockdowns with pistols and shoot remaining rounds on a plate. If any knockdowns are still up, use the shotgun. Some stages were pistol and rifle only, some pistol shotgun. Some were ambidextrous.

I had one miss when a pistol round went pop-bang. For some reason I'm getting that with APP rounds. Don't know why. Went back to Cowboy loads. Still no clean match at Renegades.

The refrigerator has stopped cooling. It's running, just not cooling. Can't call RV Sales until Tuesday. They're closed Monday. They put in the cooling unit last fall.

May 22, 2010, Saturday

Actually found primers at Sportsman's, though still rationed to 2000. Everything except Federal Large Pistols was there. So I got Winchester LP, and Remington 209s.

While The Redhead was at the store, the dryer started shaking the entire bus and sounded like it was suddenly full of nuts and bolts. Then it started smoking and set off the smoke detector. I shut it down. Called Ralph at RV Sales in Moriarty. He had never heard of Splendide, but he knew the rollers had worn out, and it needed a rebuild kit. He said he'd call me back later after he'd looked for one. He didn't. He's closed Sunday and Monday. I'll call Splendide Monday. They were very helpful in Phoenix.

Worked in the garage loading .45 Colt BP rounds for the ROA conversion cylinders. Cleaned guns. Have a problem with the primary '73. The bolt appears to be sticking in the full-open position. To remove it and check it out I need a small punch. I have such a punch, with replaceable tips. Unfortunately I couldn't find any of the replaceable tips. Gave up and ordered some from Brownell's, along with enough stuff to make a good order.

Friday, May 21, 2010, Friday

Practiced with Lefty Rhodes, then spent the afternoon at the VA, finally getting them started on doing something about the ulnar nerve compression and carpal tunnel, or whatever it is. Of course, with the VA you get an appointment to pick up wrist braces and an elbow pad.

May 20, 2010, Thursday

Worked in the garage. Loaded up all the 105 gr. .38s and started on some BP .45 Colt for practice in the ROAs with conversion cylinders.

May 19, 2010, Wednesday

Went to the Renegades practice session. Didn't get much positive out of it. But Lefty Rhodes and his wife showed up. They're full timers we've known for several years. We had them over for Margaritas (and Evan Williams bourbon) and SASS Storytelling.

May 18, 2010, Tuesday

Did the after-trip RV maintenance thing and cleaned the shop floor.

May 17, 2010, Monday

Drove to Enchanted Trails RV, ABQ.

May 16. 2010, Sunday

The 4-stage Wild Bunch match was cut short after 3 stages. I was shooting clean. First stage was slow due to stupid operator trick-load one magazine with 4 rounds by mistake. The other 2 were pretty good.

Finished 3rd in WBT, 2nd in Frontiersman, 3rd in Plainsman.

Was going to stay there and leave in the morning, but The Redhead couldn't take the place any more. That's when we realized that the parking lot wasn't wide enough to turn around. After much gnashing of teeth, backing, etc. the RO of the Sheriff's posse training told us to drive on the range, the only area big enough to turn around. He helped by moving target stands. I promised to remember his name but didn't have anything to write. I believe it was Coddington. Thanks!

Drove to Holbrook KOA. Arrived 1820.

May 15, 2010, Saturday

6 more stages. Good stages. If you got a procedural you can't blame Silverado Cid (match director).

Weaver Gal

Silverado Cid-I won't mention how many procedurals he got on his own match. Been there, done that.


Dinner was catered by the local boy scouts, a dutch oven dinner. Main course was a pork chop covered in something grey.

May 14, 2010, Friday

Shot the first 6 stages of the match. Good posse. Larsen E. Pettifogger beat me like a red headed stepchild. Wore the Captain John Hughes outfit:


Texas Ranger Captain John Hughes and his ranger company

Captain Hughes and the sombrero. There's a long story behind this hat, to be told in a Cowboy Chronicle column. But only D Bar J could make a hat this big.

Cactus Cris, 1st Senior FCD

Larsen E. Pettifogger, 1st Frontiersman

Silverado Cid, match director


Dinner was Italian potluck. Pretty good. Lots of wine.

May 13, 2010, Thursday

Shot the Plainsman match. Was doing well until I got a procedural. Kind of took the wind out. Then shot the 4 stage warmup match.

Unknown Texas Cavalryman #2's hat

From the following photo:

This is a famous photo of Scouts of the 8th Texas Cavalry, called Terry's Texas Rangers after the first commander, who was killed in their first battle. Of 1000 at the beginning of the war, 200 odd were around at the surrender, not that they all surrendered. I showed this photo to Dan at D Bar J. More to come in a Cowboy Chronicle column


Went to dinner with a batch of people to the Buffalo.

May 12, 2010, Wednesday

Trace Adkin's Pickup truck's tailgate has this sign:

"I'm proud of my carbon footprint."

Drove to Payson for the Tonto Rim Smoke Out, the AZ Black Powder Shootout. Parked on the range.


May 11, 2010, Tuesday

Got the trailer ready to travel, drove 11 miles for a haircut, then took the cover off the windshield and cleaned the glass. Put the ML in the trailer.

Wild Bodie Tom brought my 1911A1 back. Very nice!

May 10, 2010, Monday

The Redhead came into the garage in a fury. She was walking George S. Patton, Jr. and taking out garbage at the same time. It should be noted that this huge 400+ site RV park has about 5 residents in the summer. To make the place look fuller when people drive in, only the pull-throughs by the entrance are used for transients. At this point in time there were 2 buses there.

It seems she took the garbage to the trash cans first, then was going to head to the dog park, about 500 miles to the west, next to "The place where golf carts go to die." She was putting the bags in the trash when a car drove by and stopped. She turned around, thinking it was someone she knew.

It was a Buick with New York plates. Inside was an ancient Yankee couple. They said, quite rudely, "You need to take that dog to the dog park over there! You need to take that dog to the dog park!" George was, at that moment, using the doggie urinal, the trash can.

Stunned, The Redhead replied, "You should stick it!" and gave him the New York salute. "It's a trash can!"

Shortly thereafter I went inside and told her that the manager, Chip, had called, and the couple was his parents, and we had until 5 to get out. She was not amused.

On a happier note, John Parton at MB Arrowhead called and said the part was in, and the truck would be ready at 5.

It was, $717 drive out. That's my stupid tax for the month. The car was washed. The mats weren't, and, as usual, the windshield wasn't very clean. This was true at the place I worked at, too. They haven't learned THE secret: If the windshield is clean, the car is clean!

I took The Redhead to Papadeaux for dinner. The Papas chain is Texas based and offers high quality food and service in several different genres. Arizonans can't seem to pronounce Papadeaux, not having been located next to Louisiana, where Cajun (or "Coon-ass" to quote locals) is spoken. (Think "Papa Doe", not "Papa Ducks". "Papa Doe" isn't quite right, because you have to be Cajun to get it right, or married to one, or trying to get a Cajun chick into bed hard enough to study. But it's closer than 'Papa ducks.")

May 9, 2010, Sunday

Worked in the garage while The Redhead took the loaner to the casino.

May 8, 2010, Saturday

Shot the ACSA match. Started at 0800, 6 stages, done by noon. As I feared, the training from Gunsite caused a problem. I kept looking downrange and missed a table with an unloaded rifle. I went to the unloading table expecting a stage DQ. The rest of the posse, it seems, spent the next 4 hours 30 minutes (exaggeration) arguing whether it was that or a MSV because the gun didn't break the 170.

They eventually gave me a reshoot and the MSV.

Lunch with the usual suspects.

May 7, 2010, Friday

Took the ML to Mercedes-Benz Arrowhead. The service advisor, John Parton, thought it was a strut and had pre-ordered one. Good thinking. He called back in a few hours. No, it's not a $1500 strut. It's a $685 airbag. They're on backorder. There's one at a dealer in Florida. They're trying to get it.

Worked in the shop getting things ready for tomorrow's ACSA match. Getting the "stuff" into the GLK loaner was a PITA. It's a tad too small.

May 6, 2010, Thursday

Drove to Pioneer RV Park without incident. Took The Redhead to lunch at The Good Egg. She's been stuck at the RV for 4 days.

May 3-5, 2010-Gunsite's "Ruger Single Action Self-Defense Course"

May 2, 2010, Sunday

I worked on the column and got it off. More writing, etc. The Redhead was in a blue funk because of yesterday's accident and the fact that now she's stuck here for 4 days.

May 1, 2010, Saturday

This is where I made the stupid mistake that will probably rank as the most expensive stupid mistake since retiring. We went to Gunsite and, while trying to get the 65 ft. rig into too small a space, I (a) discovered the ladder had been bent by the spare tire--again. Won't fix it this time. Then I disconnected the trailer to move it into place using the ML. Now here comes the stupid part. When we connected the hitch to the ball, the trailer was sitting lower in the nose than on the bus, so the pads under the jack were too tall. Instead of jacking the trailer up with a separate jack, then removing the pads, I tried raising the suspension. It worked. Then I didn't let the suspension back down, and then after a short drive almost to the parking place, came a loud BANG, and the car went down on the right side.

Really dumb.

Up until midnight working on the June column. Deadline is arriving at flank.