Sunday, December 22, 2013

Militaria...

How they've been stored for 100 years (give or take)...
We had some very interesting epaulettes come into the shop for evaluation/identification and I must be overlooking something as I can find no references. 

Family tradition says these belonged to an ancestor who had revolutionary war service.
 
These are interesting in that they are actual articulated plates with an embossed American eagle (head towards the olive branch) on a cloth backing with wool padding and a silk (?) lining.  The silver bullion fringe is in excellent condition but the lining has deteriorated.

I took the time to take some close-up photos of the plates and the eagle device.

A side view attempting to show the overlapping plates and other details of construction.

A close-up of the eagle device.
Update 13 Jan 2014 from the owner:

My son, who is in the Va Guard working at the Bureau in DC pointed me to the U.S. Army Center of Military History at Fort McNair.

It turns out that these are not epaulettes but are more properly called "wings" because of the scales which arch over the shoulder. These are militia rather than regular army and date from 1821 to somewhere in the 1840s.

I'm trying to figure out who, potentially, might have worn them.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Prayers...

This time of year seems to attract bad news for some people.  At the least it exacerbates trying circumstances.  People will often pray for help or ask for prayers to pull them out of trouble.  I've got to tell you kids something, I never pray for the solution to be done, I pray for strength to get through the trial.  I don't know what his solution/goal/plan so I might not get the result I expect but I know I'll get the strength to make it through to the other side.  He never fails me.  Never. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

THE M1 GARAND RIFLE by Bruce Canfield

Published by Mowbray Publishing with the least expensive price being at the CMP store although you can get it for $1.04 more but with free shipping at Amazon, this is one book you have to have. Yes, it is being hawked as "for collectors" but what a book for anyone with an M1 or an interest in military arms. Interested in WW II US infantry? Yes, this book has something for you as well. This was, after all, THE infantry rifle of the war, at least in effect if not in quantity.I know that the price is going to scare off some potential buyers but, let's face it, a quality book is going to cost some money.  With 872 pages and outstanding photos/illustrations, this book is a bargain even at $95.99!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks

My sister and I (and our children) are, like 2-2-1/2 million living Americans, Mayflower descendants. That is, we have ?X great-grandparents who came to this country on the Mayflower. Some of our other ancestors came on the next few ships to arrive in the Plymouth colony. In other words our ancestors were religious and political refugees who risked their lives, lived in great discomfort, labored for years, separated themselves from the remainder of their families on the hope that they and their grandchildren could live with a greater degree of liberty and security than they had in the "old world". They succeeded and despite the normal life struggles our families have long enjoyed greater prosperity and liberty than they would have had or could have had just about any place else in the world. For their foresight, hope and fortitude we are extremely grateful.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Yes, it is deer season...

John A______ took me out to the Bowman Spring Farm and we sat on stand for about 3 hours in the freezing rain (literally, freezing rain) and saw no deer.  Took the .250-3000 again.  Was pretty warm but I picked the wrong book socks and my feet were cold.  Used the hot hands to warm myself after about 2½ hours. 


Friday, November 22, 2013

Rifle, U.S. M1, .30 Caliber blast deflector...

Received my copy of the Rock Island Auction catalog and seemed to be immediately drawn to lot 1535.  This is an M1 Rifle (Garand) with a unique blast deflector reportedly locally fabricated and used only in Alaska.  This is a gas-trap rifle.  A photo of the blast deflector is shown below.  Bruce Canfield's new book doesn't seem to mention it but it is possible I've overlooked that somehow.  Very interesting to me.  It would seem that it would have to be removed for operator cleaning.  The catalog copy says that only 3 are known to exist.  I've never seen or heard of one before.  Accordingly, this rifle's estimate is between $30,000 and $50,000! 


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Deer hunting 2013...

The sole sign of life other than song birds and woodpeckers.

The first place I went during the muzzleloading season, mostly for nostalgiac reasons, was north of Leading Ridge Road above Todd Lake in the Dry River District of the George Washington National Forest. Dad first took me here not long after it had been clear cut when there was plenty of browse. We always saw deer even if shooting them was impossible. At the time there was only one "doe day" and you were allowed only one deer per season. Now, 40+ years later, it is once again mostly maturing hardwood or pine with little browse. This year there isn't much hard mast (acorns) either. As a result, there aren't many, if any, deer in the area. I didn't see any and I didn't see any fresh scat, tracks or any other sign that there were deer in the area.

The regular gun season is here. I took my Savage 99A .250-3000 (.250 Savage). Easy to carry and accurate, fairly flat shooting and just plain fun.

So the second day (my first day of I moved down Leading Ridge Road a bit. I hadn't planned to park where I did but there were a lot more hunters out (and many more than there have been in the last 5 years or so) so I moved down to the head of an old logging road and parked there. A slow hunt down along this road a mile or so and back through a couple of open former feed plots found no deer sign here either. All that I found along the road was coyote (?) scat just as I had found elsewhere.

Driving slowly out of the area I noticed that there were at least triple the number of camps in the area. But, that still isn't a lot of camps. Last year I counted 4 and this year there were about 12-14. In the many hours I was in the forest I never heard any gunfire. No shots means that no bucks were being seen by hunters. Yes, it is bucks only on the national forest lands, and I think this is probably a good thing. There need to be does to maintain a population. Unfortunately, there also needs to be some food. I'm just not seeing a lot of dining opportunities for the deer.

Looking down into and up the gorge from Wild Oak Trail.
Yesterday, I was back out and this time I was determined to head into the North River Gorge and see if there were any deer along the river. I parked above Camp May Flather and dropped down onto the Wild Oak Trail. At this point the trail runs about 200 feet above and along the river on the old logging railroad bed. It crosses the river on a suspension foot bridge and crosses the North River Trail and continues to Lookout Mountain. I took the NRT further up the gorge.

Several years ago we had flooding that severely impacted the trail. The USFS has finally made some repairs. I leave it to you to judge whether or not they should have run a small bulldozer all the way up the trail to clear it. Likely this was the least expensive option. A popular horse trail, there was sign that the riders have already been up the trail again. I did find some deer tracks, but they were mostly pretty small, does or yearlings. I didn't see any deer. I did see about a dozen gray squirrels which were missing from the Skidmore Fork area around Leading Ridge Road. The water level in the river is down and crossing dry footed was no problem. It was cold enough that a skim of ice was on some of the pools. All in all it was pretty nice in the gorge. Again, I heard no rifle shots although I could hear road traffic at some points along the trail. Although I didn't see any deer, the concentration of sign dramatically increased about 1 to 1-1/2 hours back. I didn't walk fast, so this is probably about 3 miles or so. That's a long way to walk just to squirrel hunt and it is a long way to drag a deer. I am not that hungry so it would have to a really nice buck for me to shoot one way back there.

Yes, there was some sign...
One benefit to the use of the dozer to clear the trail was that for most of its length the soft earth has been turned up and takes impressions of whatever passes over it very well. That means that if deer are using the trail then it will be pretty obvious. One of two things is happening, either there aren't many deer or they aren't using the trail much.

One thing about these old trails is that you get to see some of the old time ways of doing things. Check out the last two pictures. One is of the rock crib constructed to carry the old railway bed and the other is a cistern used to collect spring water for the railway workers and loggers.

Rock "crib" built to fill a gap in the railroad bed. 
Cistern built to collect spring water.  Somebody has popped the lid.  Note the "drinking" basin on the front.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The greatest speech ever?

One of them at least and here every day for you to read and, hopefully, understand.  The Gettysburg Address

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Out and about...

Went out yesterday, up and down some mountains. It is "muzzleloader" aka "blackpowder" season here, bucks only where I was. However, it wasn't likely that I'd see a deer of any kind. No hard mast, no browse, no water, no scrapes, no rubs, no tracks. Nothing but small birds and red headed woodpeckers. Not even any of the resident crows. No longer a clear-cut as it was 40+ years ago. However, something has been through there.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Scouting

John A______ and I went out to scout a place he has permission to hunt on the property of Bill B_____ out Middlebrook way. Very neat place and with that huge spring in front of the house one can easily see why this place attracted settlers. The water is, by the way, just the right temperature and taste for drinking. John and I had a good drink after our scout. We didn't see deer but we saw lots of sign and as Bill says, they are eating their fill in the corn fields. John is hoping for a good deer here.

John recently had an aortic aneurism and now has a bad valve that they will be replacing in December. He needs somebody to go hunt with him and he now has two of us lined up.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Halloween is a bust

We live on a main thoroughfare. When we moved here about 27 years ago we looked forward to Halloween and got ready for the rush. Not one person came to the door. In all the years we've lived here not one person has come to our door on Halloween. We had some "vandalism" this year. I put out the trash for Friday morning pickup and somebody had pushed over one of the trash cans.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

I put in another day at the shop to cover for Wayne F_________ so that he could care for his mother. It seemed like a fairly busy day and I actually sold a Thompson Center Impact muzzleloader.

This seems to be a good gun and I imagine that this is produced for about as low a price point as a quality gun can be made. Not my cup of tea but if you need a tool to take advantage of the muzzleloading season then this will do. No, I don't own one.

We had some .22 LR today and still had 3 boxes of CCI .22 WRM. Got some .30-30 in as well as some Unique, Red Dot, and other Alliant powders. Maybe 25 pounds of powder all together. That's not much.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Colt Concealed Carry Officer's Model .45 ACP

John M. Browning designed the Model 1911 pistol, our nation's service pistol for many years. Some thought it could be improved by making it lighter, hence the Commander with aluminum alloy frame and 3/4" shorter barrel and then shorter yet as the Officer's Model with 3-1/2" barrel. However, many noticed that the angles necessary to function the smaller Officer's Model resulted in decreased reliability. Also, while the shorter butt contributed to greater concealability, the shorter barrel was more a hindrance to accuracy than it was benefit in any other way. The idea of installing a Commander length slide assembly to an Officers' model frame was executed and the lords of the gun rags called it good. So Colt made some in 1998. Apparently, it was not a model that inspired enough buyers to lay out the cash. There is still a demand though and it is being met by the Gunsite model at $1395 (last I checked) plus tax plus shipping plus transfer fees or about $1460-1500 out the door and by the custom gunsmiths.

One of those smiths is Jim Garthwaite. I have read articles about him and/or his guns, indeed I've read all the articles shown on his website. He was the Pistolsmith of the Year in 2004. Mr. Garthwaite does work on 1911 and Browning High Power pistols. He also has been doing classes in which the participants build their own guns.

My friend, Rob Leahy of Simply Rugged Holsters, told me about a Garthwaite CCO at Bucky O'Neill's Guns in Prescott, AZ. Although rob said he'd get photos the work load at his shop was too great but he assured me that I'd like the gun. Knowing Rob, I took the leap of faith and called Dave at Bucky's to order the gun sight unseen. I am all into the gun for less than the price of the Gunsite CCO, which is simply a production gun. Further, the few of his guns I have seen for sale have been asking $2500 or more.

Well, it took a bit longer than expected. While they received my money, and FFL, in a timely manner, shipment was somehow delayed a bit and I didn't receive the gun until this week. Today was the first day I had time to shoot and photograph it.

As you can tell from the photo this gun is literally a Colt Commander slide (1991A1) on a Colt Officers' Lightweight frame. The front sight is dovetailed and a Heinie rear sight has been installed. The top of the slide was stippled and the rear of the slide was checkered. Also checkered was the steel (stainless I presume) main spring housing and the front strap. I'm personally pleased that the front of the trigger guard was not checkered. The trigger is like that on my Officers' Lightweight ACP but the feel is different. The gun has a National Match bushing. I haven't had it apart yet so I haven't looked at who made what component.

When you look at the first target you can see that I lost a couple of rounds due to the trigger. That should go away with practice. I really like the sights. Even with my currently compromised vision (cataracts) and bifocals I could see the sights well enough to be effective.

You'll note the vertical stringing and "lost" rounds outside the "group". That trigger is pretty light and crisp which I'm obviously not accustomed to! Then the stringing I think is due to the slight difficulty I had in shooting the gun quickly. Recoil seems to be snappier in this than in the Officers' Lightweight, I think because the gun is just about as light but the bullets are getting more velocity out of the longer barrel. That's just my perception. Recoil is not at all physically bothersome in that it is not at all painful. In comparison I think that a S&W M13 shooting full on 125 gr. .357 Magnum loads with the factory stocks can be painful.

The ammunition used was a mix of ball (Winchester white box) and Federal Hydrashocks. Nary a slip twixt mag and chamber or chamber and ground with any of it or any magazine (Wilson, Chip McCormick and Colt factory). I'll check 230 gr. Golden Sabers next.

Links:
- Massad Ayoob: The Colt Concealed Carry Officers and its niche-mates
- How About the CCOs by Wiley Clapp

Monday, October 21, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

We had a pretty interesting day today. In some ways it was surprising because with blackpowder season around the corner you'd expect that we'd be selling more muzzle-loading guns and supplies. We did do 8 transfers. Also, because Vic didn't work I had to do a couple of repairs.

One was removing a case from a Remington 700 bolt. Not difficult, just levered it right out from under the extractor. The problem was excessive pressure. The case was a Remington (.270 Winchester) and the primer pocket was expanded to almost twice its normal diameter. The owner claimed it was all old ammo from the same box and no reloads. The primers were not consistent with factory ammo, some cases were Federal and the owner looked a bit squirrely. Whatever.

The next case was a messed up Star 9mm pistol in which a cartridge had been jammed backwards into the chamber. The man had gotten the slide assembly off the pistol but was lost after that. I got the case out and then had to re-assemble the gun and show him how it is done. Oh, yeah, I've gone big time.

Still short of powder, .22 rimfire, FMJ ammo for 9mm, .40S&W and .45 ACP or any sort of practice ammo for the .38 Special.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Squirrel hunting

They don't call it hunting for nothing.  I hunted, near Elkhorn Lake, but I only saw one squirrel and he/she vamoosed up a big pine ASAP after he/she saw me.  All fine with me though.  I had a pleasant walk.  Didn't dress for it, just wore my blue jeans and regular shoes, which are kinda like moccasins, and a light jacket.  Boy has that area grown up.  Clear cut back in the late 1960s, the pines were about head high when I was in my teens.  There were squirrels, grouse, turkeys and deer at that time and I saw them all.  Now it is pretty much a mature forest and there's not so much food to attract any of that game.  There are some crows in the area as well as small birds which feed on small plant seeds or insects.  Doesn't seem to be a lot of hard mast this year but that might be a local thing.  It is supposed to rain again tonight and tomorrow so I'll decide whether or not to go out, someplace else, tomorrow.

Carried my 1956 manufactured Marlin 39A Mountie and some old CIL Cascade .22 LR ammo.  Feeling pretty retro, as usual. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

Lots of neat guns have come in to the shop during the past 2 weeks. Smith and Wessons, Colts, some good quality rifles and some really good glass as well. We were very busy. Hunting season is here and the firearms season for deer is just around the corner.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

Walked in to discover a number of neat pistols had come into the shop from an estate.  Many Smith and Wessons, a Kimber and a couple of Ruger single-actions.  It was a pretty busy day.  However, not much of an improvement in the availability of ammunition.  We did have some .30-30 which is apparently very difficult to find in Augusta county.  VERY little .22 LR.  We only had 7 boxes when I left the shop.  Other than that there wasn't much of note.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

Worked an extra day at the shop yesterday to fill in for a friend who's mother is in the hospital. We had a pretty good day. Bought a Weaver K1 in pretty good condition. The ammo shortage continues. We apparently had the last 5 boxes of .30-30 in the county. .243 Winchester is apparently hard to get as well. We sold out of our .22 LR but we still have some .22 Short HPs. Lots of traffic, not so sure we had that much in sales due to the shortage of things to sell. This is pretty bad when we are about to start the main hunting seasons.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

We had a lot of people through the gun shop today. I think that the smell of fall is in the air and people have started moving forward with hunting season. Ammo might be a problem though. We have the last 6 boxes of .30-30 in Staunton, there is no .22 WRFM, we haven't had a new box of CoreLokt anything come in in months, and .22 LR continues to be in short supply. Sadly, even pricing standard velocity RN at $7.99 now meets with a happy grin at the "good price". $.16 a round .22 LR is apparently the new normal. We do have VARGET and W748 powder. Nobody mentioned the UN arms treaty today, political conversation being dominated by the "fools of both parties" "dragging this country down".

Chris has a REALLY nice S&W Model 19 4" with box, papers and tools. It might not have been fired outside of the factory. He also has a nice Model 98 Krag.

We had a problem reassembling a rear sight for an M1 Rifle (Garand). I took mine apart this evening and put it back together without a problem but we can't get this one to work. Every time we put it together the windage knob will change the elevation and both knobs will turn together regardless of which one is being operated. I think it is because the trunion is bent and bearing against the windage knob.

This week I'll be spending tomorrow at the shop as well. Wayne F_________'s mother is in the hospital and he's with her so won't be at work.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

Late to post because I had to run up to Alexandria to carry Aunt Deanna's furniture to her new condo.  Anyway, we were pretty busy from the get go at the shop because #1 it is hunting season and #2 they just had the Ruffed Grouse Society Dinner.  Had a lot of people come in to pick up the guns they won.

Have to brag on Chris a bit.  One of our customers and fellow members at Stonewall, Roger M_______ lost his 13-year old Brittany this past February.  That's pretty tough.  The RGS was auctioning off a Brittany pup again this year.  Chris bought it and GAVE her to Roger.   I do believe Roger is in love.  Katie Ann is her name.

There is more ammo available.  Prices aren't coming down right now though.  We also got some powder in sometime last week.  This time I didn't leave the 8-lb jug of IMR 4895 for a customer, I bought it.  I use it in the .35 Remington and M1 rifle .30-06 ammo.  Cost about $20 more than the jug we had back at the beginning of the year.

Those are the highlights from this past week.  Not exciting to read about but it was fun to be there.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Aloha!

We have just returned from a vacation that was on Linda's "bucket list", that is, to Hawaii! Had a great time in Hawaii but, for me, not so much the traveling. We did make that part of it a little less painful by flying out of and returning to Shenandoah Valley Airport just outside of Weyers Cave. It saved our driving to or being shuttled to (very early in the morning) a more distant airport and also the parking fees. Staff and TSA agents were friendly and got their respective jobs done.

Leaving home the morning of 10 September, our flight out took us from Shenandoah Valley Airport to Dulles to Denver and then Honolulu on the island of Oahu where we arrived at 2:30 in the afternoon of the day we left due to the 6 hour time difference despite our approximately 14-hour travel time. We stayed at the Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort right across the street from the world famous Waikiki Beach. Dinner was on our own which was all well and good. We went exploring and found a local seafood/Chinese restaurant, The Seafood Village, just a short walk up Kalakaua Avenue. I had Mapo Tofu and Nana had potstickers and General Tso's chicken. Very good. Then we walked back to the hotel and crawled into bed at about 7:30 local time or about 1:30 AM on the 11th at home. We were both very tired and and slept right through to about 6:30 local time. By the way, the beds at the Marriott were the best of the whole trip. Both of us slept well and had no aches or pains in the morning.

The next morning (Wednesday, 11 September) we got up and I went down to Seattle's Best (located in the hotel) for Nana's breakfast sandwich and coffee and my blueberry muffin. The food was excellent but the cost (and you should be prepared for this if you go to Hawaii, especially in tourist venues, was $15+. Our guide and bus driver for the day was "Cousin" Dave. The next item on the agenda was a trip to the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor and a tour of Honolulu.Most of us thought it appropriate to visit this memorial on the 12th anniversary of 9-11. We did not have the opportunity to go to Ford Island and visit the USS Missouri nor did I have time to do more than walk over to and see the outside of the USS Bowfin. We did get to visit the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific aka the Punchbowl. Unfortunately we were on a bus and busses are not permitted to stop, literally, on the grounds although they can drive through really slowly. This meant that we could not get out and pay our respects even though I have a 7th cousin 3-times removed, Clayton Ellsworth Gee, interred there. Lunch was at the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant in the Aloha Tower Marketplace. My pre-ordered meal was the Mahi-mahi which turned out to be grilled mahi-mahi (dolphin, the fish, not the mammal) in a sandwich. I did not eat the sandwich entire but the grilled fish was delicious! Free refills on sodas as well (not so everywhere, so ask).

We had that night's dinner at the hotel and it was very good. I think that they have a standard schedule and our chosen night was the prime rib buffet. I had a couple of slices of prime rib and the teriyaki beef with rice. An excellent meal! Nana and I went for a stroll on the beach but since I had quite a bit of sand on my feet even after washing them off at the beach shower I chose to walk back to the hotel barefoot. Nobody gave me a second look. If you had seen the "fashions" in evidence you'd understand why. Then it was another early night, we were tired and jet lagged.

Thursday, 12 September, saw us up bright and early. Was this going to be the pattern for the whole vacation? Seemed so. We had breakfast in the hotel, a buffet, with a 3-egg ham and cheese omelet to start the festivities. We didn't have anything in the morning so I walked down Paoakolani Avenue to the canal that parallels Ala Wai Boulevard and watched some outrigger canoe paddlers practice. Then I walked back to the hotel for our excursion to the Polynesian Cultural Center. This interesting semi-commercial venture inlcudes various cultural exhibits and demonstrations for the various Polynesian communities as well as dinner, either a luau or an American style buffet. Our guide for this excursion was "Cousin Jay" from Samoa.

The Polynesian Cultural Center is located next door to the Brigham Young University - Hawaii and Church of Latter Day Saints Temple in Hawaii. A short ride over to the BYU- Hawaii visitors' center is available. We took advantage and went for a look see. As usual there is a bit of proselytizing which is to be expected but as always one is struck with the beauty and neatness of the grounds. The young people, be they from the Marshall Islands, South Korea or Kentucky were very pleasant and fun to talk to.

Dinner at the Polynesian Cultural Center, we had the American style buffet by way of a misunderstanding in the purchase of our tickets, was excellent and followed by a show which told the story of a Polynesian boy's life at the end of which was a fire-knife show. Everybody loves that part. Then it was back on the bus and to the hotel at about 10:30. One had multiple opportunities to purchase a bowl of ice-cream for $5.00. Nana had one and she said it was excellent.

Friday the 13th, an auspicious day to travel, saw us up and at 'em for our flight to Kauai and our next hotel, the Aqua Kauai Beach Resort. Very nice, on the beach (although a very narrow beach adjoining the hotel property) with 3 fresh water pools and 1 salt water pool, a 60-foot slide (mostly used by the kids) and an excellent restaurant as well as a gift shop and bar/lounge. The place is large and some of the units are owned, sort of like a time-share. VERY nice. Our first day here we took a tour of the island including the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon and had lunch at Kilohana Plantation. Dinner was a pizza party at the hotel. Pretty good pizza, excellent service, and a fun way to end the day.

Kauai is interesting in that it seems much more laid back. The chickens here are everywhere. We had a rooster that crowed outside our window and then would move down the line of rooms to, apparently, act as the wake-up call for the hotel. They aren't afraid of people either. Just as the local doves would do, these chickens would wander around by your feet and under your chair at the oddest moments. You see, all the restaurants have open windows and doors and at the ground floor it was pretty common to have birds all around.

Saturday, the 14th and we had a whole day on our own here which we chose to use resting by, in, or near the pool(s). Not very eventful, but VERY enjoyable. Nana got in the water, too!

Sunday morning and we were on the "road" again headed for Maui. After we landed we picked up our guide, Karen, and off we went to the Maui Ocean Center. We had an excellent lunch, fish and chips, in their restaurant overlooking a marina and the ocean. Our next stop was Lahaina which, due to the presence of a cruise ship, had a craft fair underneath their famous banyan tree. Although whale watching boats operate out of Lahaina, this is not the season for whales which are currently feeding in Alaskan waters so we did not get to do any whale watching. We were finally able to check in at our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Maui in the Ka'anapali area. There are a number of rather nice (an understatement, the Hyatt is gorgeous) hotels/resorts/time-shares operating here connected by a beach side sidewalk and a land side of the hotel road way.

Our first meal was at the Umalu. Several in our party had a bit of shock at the price, e.g. $17 for a cheeseburger, but the food was good and we were rather full from our rather large fish and chips lunch.

We started Monday the 16th off with breakfast buffet at Swans Court. That was excellent. From the ham and cheese omelet to the croissants, muffins and, as it was everywhere in Hawaii, the fantastic fresh pineapple and cantaloupe, this was a great breakfast. Then Nana and I hopped the inter-hotel trolley to Whalers Village. Aside from the usual clothing and jewelry stores, there's a whaling museum which is fairly nice and includes a forecastle of a whaling ship. Whaling was a big thing here for quite a while and re-supplying the ships was big business in the area hence the museum. There are a number of whale "models" throughout and a whale skeleton at the entrance.

We took the inter-hotel/resort trolley to Whalers' Village we caught the bus for Lahaina. Nana wanted to find a Hawaiian dress and look around at all the stuff we'd missed in our short visit the first time. Had a good time. I wandered around the wharf area and got a good look at a swordfish that had been brought in. Also walked down behind the school and watched locals surfing. (NOTE: Hawaii is year-round school) Then I walked back over to where Nana was and we walked down the block to Cheeseburger in Paradise for lunch. Good food and cheaper than the hotel. This is NOT the Jimmy Buffet owned chain of restaurants. We continued down Front Street to the Hardrock Cafe and caught the bus back to Whalers' Village.

A hint. The bus costs $2.50 (exact change) per ride. Day passes are $4.00. Want to ride out and back? Buy a day pass and save at least $1.00. Go someplace else or get on and off along the route and you can save much more. Good deal.

Tuesday was another day of fun and frolic on our own. After another sumptuous breakfast and a bit of time to let it settle we walked down the trail along the beach to Whalers' Village and Nana had another go at the shops. Then we took the trolley back to the Hyatt. Then we lolled around the hotel. Relaxed and enjoyed. That evening was our luau. It could have been better, it could have been worse, it was our first luau though so we can hardly be considered experts. The food was good, the dancing was entertaining and educational, and the fire knife show was awesome.

video

Our last day in Hawaii was Wednesday, 18 September. We got up, bags in the hall by 10 AM, on the bus/coach at 11:30 and down the road to Lahaina for more shopping. Nana had lunch at the Burger King (yeah, I know, Aunt Deanna laughed out loud at that). I went through the museum in the old town hall and we wandered around a bit. Then it was back on the bus and off for the Plantation Tour. That was interesting but it is set up for the tourists. Somehow I thought the pineapple plants were bigger, learned something there. Then it was a bit of a look about before dinner at _______. We had pre-ordered the steak. It was good. Dessert was macadamia nut pie which was like pecan pie, really a tart in size. As you know, I don't eat nuts but even Nana was not impressed.

Then it was off to the airport, through the agricultural inspection, checking bags, security, another agricultural inspection and onto the plane for our long, long flight home.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

Boy, the day flew by. Customers of one sort or another took up most of the day with barely enough time to chat or take a toilet break. We ate "lunch" on the go. Of note is that we had a S&W Victory model .38 come in the door. Looks to be all correct with original finish about 80-90% (I didn't get to look at it for very long). Might be gone by now, that was a whole 24 hours ago.

I got my Rock Island Auction catalogs today. Wish we had stuff that nice pass through our shop! WOW!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

What to say about today. Interestingly we have several classic, quality firearms on hand, a couple of neat other guns and we had some ammo. No, we have no .22 LR except for some match ammo. We sold out of the 9mm and .45 ACP ball but we do have .38 Special and .40 S&W. We also have some .17 HMR for the first time in several weeks.

Those neat firearms? There is a Smith and Wesson 17-4, a 15-3 and a 10-5 all in very good or better condition. We also have a couple of Savage 24s, a Browning Sweet 16 and a Ruger 94-44.

We also received a supply of 209 primers for blackpowder season and some TC Impact rifles.

One other thing. There was recently the abduction of a young woman in Nelson County. Today, two female residents of the area near the supposed site of her abduction bought a pistol for self-defense. It was obvious to them that the police could not be with them at the time of an abduction and that they would have to fend for themselves. That there was a man who had been arrested gave them no comfort...

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

Boy, have things slowed down. We're still doing some business, lots of customer service, i.e. answering questions, but not firearms sales. Most people still want 9mm ball and .22LR. Other than that, no change.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

Things have really slowed down in the last week.  Still no .22 LR, .22 WRFM, .17 HMR, and so forth.  No powder, no bullets. We are starting to run out of certain primers.  Availability for hunting ammo for this fall seems to be tightening.

Big sellers?  Handguns suitable for concealed carry.  Ammo most requested (that we don't have) .22 LR, .380 ACP, 9x19mm, .22 WRFM.  Powders most in demand?  Red Dot, IMR or H4350, Varget.

I am constantly asked, after the usual, "Do you have ______ ammo?", "WHY?"  Why indeed.  The answer is simple.  People are scared, perhaps even panicked.  They have no faith in the trustworthiness of their elected representatives.  They have no faith in the broader government (as run by the bureaucrats).  They have no faith that was once normal will be that way again.  These people often say something along the lines of, "the world is upside down."  For them, what was right is wrong what was wrong is right, what was moral is now immoral and what was immoral is now moral.  This scares them.  These frightened people aren't all old, white, country people either.  Those who hold these views are of all demographics but one, they are not communists/socialists.  They ARE, white, black, Asian, young, middle-aged, old, male, female (and some who have crossed THOSE boundaries in their lives), rich, middle-class and poor. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Winchester Model 47

Winchester Model 47 Target
The Winchester Model 47 is a single-shot bolt action .22 rimfire for the .22 Short, .22 Long and .22 Long Rifle cartridges.  Shown at left is the target version but most of the 40,000 some rifles produced between 1949 and 1954 had the standard open rear sight like mine (shown at the bottom of this article).  The gun is pretty neat in that the safety is automatically set every time you work the bolt.  I like it a lot despite the noticeably stiff trigger.

PS - I've been shooting this gun a lot with Aguila Colibri ammo. Nothing but a little click as the firing pin falls and another "ting" when the little 20 gr. bullet hits the steel backstop. It gave me a pretty good group!




Monday, July 15, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

It was a pretty busy day. Lots of folks from all over looking for a lot of stuff. Actually received 1000 rounds of .22 LR hollow points (10 boxes of 100 rounds each) Remington Golden Bullets. 10 boxes. That's all...

We have some neat guns in the shop. There is a 4" stainless Ruger Security Six, a Smith and Wesson Hand Ejector .32 S&W Long, a Smith and Wesson Model 15-3, a Smith and Wesson Model 17-3 and a NEW Colt Mustang Pocketlite. We don't have much in the way of powder or bullets and no 9mm, .40 S&W or .45 ACP ball ammo. No .45 Colt, .357 SIG, .380, .32 or .25 ACP ammo either.

We had a "nutter" come into the shop. Just so you know we are not required to sell you a gun if you qualify. This person didn't get a gun. It doesn't help when you are racing about, agitated and talking about how your meds are messed up...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

I had two days in the shop this week. One of the employees was out on vacation. We weren't particularly busy but some interesting things have transited the shop...

A Webley MK VI revolver with issue holster and cleaning rod but shaved for the .45 ACP in moon clips or the .45 AR. I think it locks up a bit loose but somebody has already layed it away.

A Remington #1 in .38 rimfire. The rifle is in very good or better condition and the bore is really pretty darn good. If one could get .38 rimfire ammo that would be tempting indeed.

There is a pretty decent Luger with issue holster, both in excellent condition. That one hasn't found a home yet.

Somebody brought in both a Remington Model 58 (already gone) and a Smith and Wesson Model 36 2", NICKEL which is also in really good condition but sans box.

There are TWO Mauser .22 sporting rifles. These mimic the M98 Mauser with the extractor and safety and have the issue type rear and front sight but are set up in sporting stocks. I almost bit on one of these.

A Winchester Model 47 of which more later as this one came home with me...

.22 LR, .22 WRMF and .17 HMR ammo are in short supply. Apparently we're not even able to get match ammo. We have some we are holding back for gun buyers. Who wants a gun without ammo? Not every shop is approaching the situation this way.

Powder is hard to find. The 50 pounds we got 3 weeks ago is long gone. Primers we have, at least most types. Bullets are also in short supply. When ammo was short people started or returned to reloading and quickly cleared the shelves of powders and bullets for handgun ammo. This situation isn't improving.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Traitors or Patriots?

One 29-year old Booz Allen Hamilton employee, Edward Snowden, is reportedly the person who "blew the whistle" on the National Security Agency (NSA) PRISM project. Said project is reportedly gathering phone/e-mail/internet information on every American citizen. There are of course 2 sides to the discussion about his act(s).

One side says he's a hero for dropping a dime on the tyrannical federal government abuse of power and the other says he's a traitorous terrorist operative. Meanwhile the executive branch is attempting to deflect criticism by supporting the demonization of Snowden while saying that inadvertently captured data on citizens was destroyed.

Frankly, I think there's some level of disinformation being promulgated by all parties to this. Here's what I think the "facts" are as best as we can (or may ever) know right now.

A man named Edward Snowden is/was an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton. Implied in that admission is that he did have access to the information he claimed to have. We have long known that the government is indeed looking at as many communications (via any media) with overseas terrorists as they possibly can. We have also been told that the government has, of course, the ability to do the same with in-country communications.

Now for the implications...

Let's get real. There are some "truisms" that apply. If it can be done it will be done. What is legal isn't necessarily right/moral/ethical/constitutional. What can go wrong will go wrong. For these reasons I believe that the NSA is indeed capturing all possible data on all communications inside and outside the country. Aside from the problem of data storage it is probably easier to apply filters when searching the content than it is to apply filters to capturing content. Like a looter they are just grabbing all they can and sort it out as the opportunity presents or circumstance demands.

Given the number of people with access it is likely that somebody is abusing this capability in some way. Maybe it is as "innocent" as some employee checking out a spouse to make sure they aren't having an affair. Maybe it is some employee having a voyeuristic peek at some citizen(s) life. Just maybe it is the government actually gone fishing on 309 million Americans.

That last is the thing that the government is not supposed to do. It is but one step in subjugation of a people. Other countries have tried it before but technology (or the lack of technology) made such efforts come up a bit short. This is the reason many people feel a bit nervous about this.

So is Mr. Snowden (and others like him) a patriot or a traitor? We may never know. Certainly the government has to treat him as a traitor. He apparently knows that, after all he ran away to China. That's just fine. But we will likely never know the reason he has done what he has done and that is what we must know to define him as a patriot, somebody who puts country (all fellow citizens) first.

PS - it is now the 14th of June and we have learned that Snowden hasn't just dropped a dime on the domestic collection of data but apparently had/has information on our legitimate spying on the People's Republic of China (PRC). Further, he is apparently using that information to give him some leeway in his use of Hong Kong as a safe haven. To my mind what he has done is attempt, for some reason best known by himself and perhaps by his PRC handler, to use the domestic spying info to make him seem like a hero when he is nothing more than a turncoat spy who happened to also reveal the abuse of US citizens by their own government. No hero. Traitor. Benedict Arnold redux.

PPS- now the 22nd of June and it was announced that Snowden was charged with theft, “unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person,” according to the complaint. The last two charges were brought under the 1917 Espionage Act. The complaint is sealed. This is to be expected.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

D-Day

About to land Omaha Beach...
June 6, 1944.  D-Day.  The "invasion" of "fortress" Europe (the French refer to it as the embarkation).  Among the units embarking was the 116th Infantry Regiment attached to the 1st Infantry Division.  I had thought that among the men landing that day was PFC Gano Haines "Sonny" Jewell who was assigned in mid-July to the aid station of the 2nd Battalion 116th Infantry.  2 months later PFC Jewell would be dead but on this day in 1944 he was apparently in or enroute to England awaiting assignment as a replacement in one of the combat units and to begin the long and difficult job of freeing Europe.

Sonny was my Dad's first cousin and the only child of Harold and Julia (Parslow) Jewell. They were particularly close and I believe that Sonny's death was at least partially influential in Dad's decision to enlist as soon as he was able. I remember Dad talking about Sonny and some of their "adventures". He also talked about following his mother and aunt when they went to pick up Sonny's body. Even 40 years later there was real sadness in Dad's voice.

I wish I had a photo of Sonny.  I've only seen a couple and only one of him in uniform.  About 1985 a former NCOIC of the 116th Medical Detachment, Winston Morris, came into my office and showed me a copy of his photograph of Sonny taken the day before his death.  He was going to send me a copy but for one reason or another that never happened.

As a representative of all those men who risked all on that day, we honor our cousin Sonny.
The Otsego Farmer
Friday, September 1, 1944

WESTV1LLE

Friends of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Jewell of Schenectady, formerly of this place, will regret to learn that their only son, Gano, is reported missing in action in France. Mrs. Henry Hesch and Mrs. Fred Ottaway are spending several days with their sister and brother, Mr. and Mrs. Jewell.


The Otsego Farmer
Friday, October 27, 1944

Mrs. Webbs Nephew Is Killed In Action

Pfc. Gano H. Jewell, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harold G. Jewell of No. 13 Cromer Avenue, Schenectady, previously reported missing in action, was killed August 4th while serving as a field medical man in France the War department informed the parents. He was a nephew of Mrs. Kenneth Webb of Whig Corners, Mrs. Fred Ottaway of Westville, and Kenneth Jewell of Milford.
A graduate; of Nott Terrace High school. Private Jewell enlisted in the army reserve in November, 1942, and was called in active duty in July, 1943, while a Sophomore at Union College. Following his basic training at Camp Grant, Illinois, he was graduated from Technician and advanced Technician courses at O'Reilly General hospital, Springfield, Mo.
After serving a short time at Fitzsimmons General Hospital, Denver; Col., he was stationed at Camp Reynolds, Pa , before going overseas in May, 1944.

The Otsego Farmer
Friday, April 22, 1949

Westville

GANO JEWELL BURIAL

The body of Pfc. Gano Jewell of the Army Medical Corps, who made the Supreme Sacrifice in France on August, 1944 was brought to Westville cemetery for burial, Saturday afternoon.
Funeral services were held in the Union College chapel in Schenectady. Pfc. Jewell was the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Jewell of Schenectady and a nephew of Ernest Jewell, Kenneth Jewell, Mrs. Fred Ottaway and Mrs. Henry Hesch, all of this place.

I originally posted this on 6 Jun 2011...  

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Printing guns...

Much is being made of the concept of using computers and plastic-3D printers to "print" firearms.  Some see it as a bane on society while others see it as a great liberating concept, both for the same reason(s), i.e. that anyone can produce a firearm at any time so long as they have a printers.  Something like the Star Trek replicators in concept, the printing of firearms is advancing quite rapidly.  In as much as many modern firearms are mostly made of some sort of polymer anyway, there is little or no stigma attached to such a firearm.  To put it another way, plastic guns made one way work, why not plastic guns made another way?  Printing of guns might me that way, at least for the some gun smith.

Sor far as it goes now, it isn't illegal for an American to fabricate a firearm so long as it meets the other criteria as mentioned in the linked article.  Handguns must have a rifled barrel to avoid being an National Firearms Act (NFA) regulated firearm and they must have some metal in them to avoid being an undetectable firearm.  However, the real attraction of printing firearms comes from the ability to "stick to the man", i.e. the government, a concept that many currently active progressive/liberal politicians have supported from the time of Richard Nixon.  Unfortunately for them, they are "the man" now and they are all too well aware of that.  They don't like it one bit and they intend to make it illegal.

It might be interesting to watch this show.  Unfortunately for the banners, history doesn't support the idea of successful bans.  If you don't believe me, just look at all the marijuana these same folks smoked since the 1960s.  If people want something, they'll get that something and use it as they please and eventually it will become the norm and permitted.  This is happening with pot in Colorado, California and Washington, it is happening with homosexual "unions" and I'm sure it will happen with any number of things before I die.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Back to the range...

Colt Official Police 5" made in 1929
After my rather interesting day attempting to sort out how useful my S&W 1905 4th change in .32-20 might actually be, I was told that it must be me responsible for the dismal performance. While that's certainly true in some way, the question is in WHAT way. Is it my eyesight, my shooting ability (eye/hand coordination), the loads used, matching the load to the gun, or what? So, I decided to try another firearm.

The gun in question is this Colt Official Police in .38 S&W Special. The range was again, 15 yards and I used the same 50-foot slow fire pistol bull. Once again, I alternated right to left, DA to SA for 48 rounds on each target. I shot at the same time of day, with the sun in about the same position.

Several issues became apparent. In DA I had one chamber that would not rotate into position correctly every time. That is to say, when I started the cycle by pulling the trigger, the hand couldn't "lift" or rotate the cylinder into position. This didn't happen with any but the one chamber, it didn't happen every time but often enough, and it didn't seem to be caused by something like high primers (and how did I manage to load a high primer case to affect the one chamber and no others?). It wouldn't do it when unloaded nor would it do this when used SA, thumb-cocking the hammer.

Another problem was the sights. Again, I would lose the front sight. These sights aren't polished to a "silver" like the Smith and the rear notch is much more generous. Still, I would lose the front sight and be unable to focus on it. This does nothing for repeatable sight alignment.

The third "problem" for me was the grip shape. This gun is a bit larger than the K-frame S&Ws and there is a longer reach to the trigger. This is particularly noticeable in DA and I caught myself incorrectly handling the trigger particularly after the distraction of the aforementioned malfunction. You can see in the DA target that my trigger control issues are much more pronounced.

SA target
DA target

Loading and shooting was done as quickly as it was possible to load from the ammo boxes set on the ground at my feet. I used the 6 o'clock hold (or thought I was). The load was the Hornady 158 gr. swaged SWC over 5 gr. of Unique. This is not a wimp load for the .38 Special. Clearly the gun wanted to shoot, the limiting factor was me. I think it is my vision. As I mentioned before, I have cataracts and wear bifocals. This is clearly affecting my ability to see the sights. It is more than a bit frustrating.

However, it is clear to me that the other gun, the S&W 1905, has at least some issues with the ammo used.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

At the range with the Smith and Wesson Model 1905 4th change...

1905 4th change with issue stocks
I got some time to run out to the Stonewall Rifle and Pistol Club to shoot a bit. So, I took my old Smith and Wesson 1905 4th change to the range. Ammo used was loaded several years back (I got it from him before Mom died or in 2009) by Jim Taylor and it utilizes Lyman's 3118 bullet. As noted a way back when this revolver is well worn as demonstrated by the gas cutting in the top strap and exterior finish. It still locks up well, but the barrel is loose and one gets the impression that only the pin is keeping it from unscrewing itself from the frame. Also, the front sight is nice and shiny and that was a bit of a problem today. I have installed a pair of magna stocks and a Tyler T-grip adapter. This is a big improvement over the issue grips.

When I got out there one of the other members was just cleaning up on the pistol range, another was mowing and two were up on the rifle range changing targets. I took advantage of the situation to get these two targets set up on the same frame and to put the frame out. I carefully measured the distance using my laser rangefinder and took a position at 15 yards.

I can often get within 15 yards of a squirrel and have done with this gun but I've only managed to bring one to bag. While plinking at dirt clods and fist size rocks made me think the gun had some potential left I had some doubt as to my actual ability to hit anything with it. I have some worries about my various eye issues (bifocals and developing cataracts) affecting my ability to sight accurately.

Taking my ammo can to the firing point I started shooting. Double action only on the right target and single action only on the left target, I alternated right to left for 8 cylinderfulls on each target, i.e. 48 rounds each. You will not see 48 bullet holes on each target. I used the 6 o'clock hold and this gun shoots a mite low with this load. Again, I should note that the sun was behind me but the sight reflected quite a bit of light and I often lost it in the rear sight.

Both targets on the range backer.  Note the .30-something holes below the targets.

After shooting I was looking at the targets and noticed that the bullet holes were dispersed very similarly no matter that I'd been shooting all DA on the right and SA on the left. So, I thought I'd try an experiment. Using the photo-editor software I clipped the two targets from the original photo, made the right or DA target 50% transparent and then overlayed the DA target on the SA target. The result is that you can see how some groups get bigger and, again, how little difference there was in using the two methods of shooting.

DA target overlayed on the SA target. 

Please note that while I matched up the center rings pretty well, there is a bit of "parallax" due to the original picture being centered between the targets. However, one can see all the shots recorded on both targets at one time. I thought it was pretty interesting.

I still like this gun. I might have to find a better example though, this one is pretty rough indeed.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

Much slower than it had been and more normal for this time of year. Ammo is still the big thing and people are still astounded that there is a "shortage" even as they try to do the same thing everyone else did which caused the "shortage".

Young fellow brought in a drilling, 12 ga over .25-35 or 6.5x52R, a Merkel. Oh my but what a wonderful thing. He says that he thinks it was made in 1926 but the rifle barrel is stamped "12.25.35". Any thoughts?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Videos from the past...

I was recently reading a book which mentioned the Jack Robertson and Arthur Young movie from 1926, "Alaskan Adventures". A silent film it depicts Alaska including the wildlife and shows Art Young, a rather famous archer, in action. Pretty neat!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

Wow! What a slow day, relatively speaking. Finally falling back to normal for this time of year in terms of business. Not that we've got ammo coming in mind you but the outflow has noticeably slowed.

There are 2 Smith and Wesson Model 17s in the shop. One is a 17-3, no box for $750 (cash) and the other is a 17-4 with box, tools, and paper for $850.

We've had an influx of Savage Model 24s. .222 over 20 ga, .30-30 over 20 ga., and another, I think it is a .22 Mag over .410 but I could be wrong about that. All came in with broken firing pins. One was missing the trigger guard and one was missing both firing pin springs! I hate to say it but I see two trends. One is that the 24s break firing pins and the other is that those who sold/traded them to us were less than forthcoming.

We also had a pre-64 Model 70 Featherweight in .243 come into the shop. Nice rifle!

As I might have mentioned we have a new "gunsmith". He is capable, careful, knows his limits and has excellent attention to detail. If he doesn't think he can do the job he won't take it. However, he only works every other week on his rotating schedule.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Trip to the NRA Annual Meeting 2013

We have been gone for twelve days, gone to Nashville, Memphis, Houston (for the NRA Annual Meeting), and Pensacola. In that time we got to see friends and family, some celebrities and a lot of new places.

Unfortunately we had not been able to complete the installation of the new water pipe to the house before we left. Although the pipe was actually installed, the inspection had not been done nor had the trench been backfilled. We could only hope that the work would be done by the time we got home. It is not. We have some major rehab to do to the front yard. It seems that the backfill wasn't done for several days after we left and that we had a pretty big rain storm which caused a lot of subsidence of the backfilled dirt and the old sod was killed. So, more topsoil has to be brought in, the old sod removed, seeding and so forth. Great fun. Now, back to the trip...

Our first stop was the Opryland Resort in Nashville. Neither of us had stayed there before. It has rather elaborate indoor gardens and water features and the the room was pretty nice albeit a very long walk from the car. There are a number of restaurants but you must be aware that, other than fast food and pizza, they do not open until 5:00 PM which is when the hamburger (very good) and pizza place closes. You can take a "cruise" around Delta Island, for a fee of course.

Cannon in front of the marker for Nathan Bedford Forrest's last speech (Thomas R Machnitzki)
We next spent two nights with our friends in Munford. I got to see the site of Nathan Bedford Forrest's last speech at the Tipton County Museum and to shoot at the Top Brass shooting range. Nana got to go shopping with her good, long time friend, Criss W______. She also had a great time playing roulette at the Southland Park Gaming and Racing in West Memphis where we met some of the W______'s friends, MaryJo and Jim C_______ and ate a prime-rib dinner.

We made a two day drive of the trip from Memphis to Houston stopping in Marshall, Texas at the Hampton Inn for the night. We took I-40 west to I-440 to I-30 south to US 59 and followed US 59 (the I-69 corridor) to Houston where we stayed at the Magnolia Hotel at 1100 Texas Avenue. The hotel was wonderful. They provide milk and cookies at night and breakfast in morning and both were excellent as were all the staff.

The NRA Annual Meeting was the primary purpose of the trip and we had a great time. On Thursday we registered, shot an AirForce precharged air rifle, and got to see, and be in, the audience of the Glenn Beck show. That was pretty interesting. It has been quite a while since I've been at a TV show taping.

On Friday we went through about half of the exhibits and the went to the Leadership Forum. Apparently we were on Fox News with Shepard Smith because Nana's brother texted me during the concert to say he'd just seen us.

Nana and me applauding Glenn Beck
Every year now, the NRA puts on an "NRA Country" concert that supports the Folds of Honor charity. This year the performers were Kevin Fowler and The Eli Young Band. Kevin Fowler was some good, hard-chargin' honky tonk get down and feel good music. His band was good, even the "roadie" was entertaining. A GREAT opener that failed because of the 30+ minutes needed to get The Eli Young Band on stage. Unfortunately the sound engineer confused good music with loud music. Sound levels were so high that one couldn't understand the words of any of the three songs we sat through. Perhaps if we knew any of the songs (or of the band) we might have enjoyed it more. We left early.

Saturday I made an early return to the floor to see the half of the exhibits we'd missed on Friday. At about noon I went back to the hotel and Nana and I walked down the street to Kobeque Grill. The food is sort of a hybrid version of Korean and modern American cuisine. I had the spicy pork rice bowl. The spicy pork and the rice were good but I'm NOT a fan of raw broccoli, cabbage and carrots. Yes I still like Kimchi but this wasn't Kimchi. It was still a good meal. This was the night of the Stand and Fight Rally. People were lining up at 4:30 and so did Nana and I. Once we got in and got our seats at about 5:30 it was only a little while before Guitarchestra (founded by Tulsa musician Jerry West) started to play. Then we had the main show. Although Glenn had said Ted Nugent would be there he was not. A relatively abbreviated affair, we moved from the Pledge of Allegiance to the National Anthem to Larry Potterfield to Frank Caliendo (who was absolutely hilarious!) and finally to Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck's speech was excellent but ran a bit long. As the old saying goes the mind can only absorb as long as the rear end can endure. Hard seats nearly put an end to our ability to absorb the many good points in Glenn's speech.

Transportation around Houston was a bit dodgy for us. Fortunately the Magnolia provided excellent shuttle service. Unfortunately, the NRA has fallen down on this aspect of the Annual Meeting, especially as compared to Pittsburgh and Charlotte. I would have liked to have gotten reservations at the Hilton or the Four Seasons which would have been but a very short walk to the George R. Brown Convention Center but that was not to be. We'll try to improve on that for next year. I think they should have the hotel discounts set up for the following year so that one can make reservations a full year in advance. I could use the planning time and a chance to get a better room in a better location.

We left Sunday morning for Atmore, Alabama to see your great Aunt S__ and Uncle M_____ as well as your Uncle in Cantonment, Florida. All were well. We had some good meals and conversations and then headed for home.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Letters from an Army Officer's Wife, 1877-1888 - Frances Mack Roe

Frances M. A. Roe wearing her husband’s West Point
coatee, pictured with their dog.
I've just finished reading "Army Letters from an Officer's Wife" by Frances Mack Roe (b. 1850 - d. 5-6-1920). Frances was married to Fayette Washington Roe who retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in December 1898.  Her letters are long, detailed and well written.

I think she must have been a fascinating person.  Although she appears to have unflinchingly supported her husband's military career and followed him to some rather isolated posts she impresses me as a more "modern" woman. Frances M. A. Roe, born Frances Marie Antoinette Mack (died 6 May 1920) was the wife of U. S. Army officer Fayette Washington Roe, ultimately a Lieutenant Colonel, who was sent to Fort Lyon in Colorado Territory in 1871. She accompanied him and recorded her life during these years in a memoir. While her husband's career has been described as "unremarkable", Roe continues to be known on the basis of her book for the accurate picture of Army life it painted. Black soldiers from this period became known as the "Buffalo Soldiers"; Roe's was the first documented use of the name. Roe said of the Buffalo Soldiers:
These ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ are active, intelligent, and resolute men; are perfectly willing to fight the Indians, whenever they may be called upon to do so, and appear to me to be rather superior to the average of white men recruited in time of peace.
Roe is buried with her husband in Arlington National Cemetery.

Fayette Roe’s family came from upstate New York, though he was born in Virginia. When he graduated from West Point, he married another upstate New Yorker, Frances Mack. Roe’s first post took the couple west to Colorado, and over the next fifteen years, to Montana, Utah, and the Dakotas.

Roe’s military career was an unremarkable series of clerical and administrative posts. He would have passed into obscurity had he not appeared as Frances’s beloved comrade “Faye” in her lively and perceptive account of frontier life, Army Letters from an Officer’s Wife (1909).

Captivated by the beauty of western landscapes, Frances described in telling detail the scenes and events in their army communities. She carefully balanced tales of lively social life with attention to the harsh conditions and isolation that military families endured.

Links:
- A Frontier Army Wife

One of the posts to which her husband was assigned was Fort Ellis as shown here...


She also mentions a stint at Camp Supply...







Thursday, April 25, 2013

Busy, busy, busy...

Things are hopping around here. We've been busy. Last week we discovered via our water bill that we had a probable leak in the water line from the meter to the house. After we verified this we have been hustling to get the pipe replaced (the current pipe is 87-year old 1/2" galvanized pipe). That process started last evening with the necessary trenching. Today they will run pipe, drill into the basement for the new pipe and hook up the new line to the house. Inspection will likely (hopefully) take place Friday and then we will be able to back-fill the trench and re-pave the sidewalk at the meter. Interestingly, even though it isn't even 1/3rd a cubic yard it must come off a truck as the city will not accept anything else.

Today, I'm working to fill in for my manager (there are only the two of us who work here, it is him or me) and must also work Friday and Saturday as usual. The first thing today our old friend Van "Shorty" S______ came by from West Augusta to ask about our mutual friend/comrade John A______ who recently had a torn aorta repaired.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

Had another interesting if busy day. There were a couple of folks from the military past who came into the shop. First was Gerald S_______ who had been in the 116th Inf Bde (Sep) in 1981 but, we probably only served together about 5 months, and the second was LTC (USA, Ret.) Lamar S____ who had been the Active Army adviser to the Brigade about 1985-87 (I hope I have those dates correct).

Some ammo trickled in. We'd received some .22 LR, 9mm ball, .45 ACP ball, and .38 Special 158 gr. RN but it trickled right back out the door again. We still had 2 boxes of .45 ACP ball (100-round packs) when we closed the doors this evening. We do have a little bit of ammo in reserve for those who buy firearms. We also had 3, 1000-round cases of .223/5.56mm ball but sold one to a fellow from West Virginia. He did NOT speak well of Senator Manchin.

One thing that was particularly interesting today. We had TWO people who are New York state residents stop and marvel at, and buy, some ammunition. Apparently they can't get ANYTHING in their home town areas.

Another big thing today was that we did the transfers for some of this past Saturday night's Friends of NRA dinner. One fellow, who is on the committee, had one his first gun in 20-years! The other had bought 3 guns at the live auction. Speaking of which...

The prices for guns at the live auction were pretty interesting. Here's what got what (gun wise)...
- Kimber Carry II .45 ACP $900.00
- Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 Eurosport .270 Win with Leupold VX III $1650.00
- Kimber M84 Classic Select .257 Roberts $1150.00
- KelTec KSG 12 gauge $1300.00
- Taurus Ultra Lite 85 $550.00
- Springfield M1A $2000.00
- Century Arms Coach Gun (Staunton Commemorative) $1200.00
- Henry Big Boy .44 Rem Mag $475.00
- Henry Golden Boy .22 LR $500.00
- SIG Sauer Navy Seal pistol $1125.00



Friday, April 19, 2013

Jeff Quinn on Price Gouging


Jeff has lots of good info at GunBlast.com.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thoughts on "Gun Control" today...

I'd like to think that this would be logically organized and reach a conclusion but I doubt it. So what I'm just going to record my thoughts on this as they occur to me.

This is a subject that has been dominating the news since the morning of 14 December 2012 when a young man first killed his mother then stole her guns which he took to a local elementary school and murdered 26 more people and then killed himself when police arrived and confronted him. While I don't want to dwell on this incident for this post, we do know that this follows what seems to be a standard protocol for such events now. Mentally ill young man on prescribed medication acquires firearms illegally, goes to a location where people are certainly unarmed, murders as many people as he can until confronted by armed resistance at which time he kills himself. We are deeply sorrowful for the families of those murdered but we are not oblivious to the fact that such acts are anomalous. However, that realization is ignored by self-serving, opportunistic, politicians (a charitable term) who didn't let this crisis go to waste and immediately exploited it to advance their agenda to disarm the citizens of the United States. It should be noted that the incident took place at about 0930 and that the President of the United States was making a statement demanding "gun control" at about 1100 that same morning. Since that time those intent on destroying our civil rights have had successes not only in Connecticut where that attack occurred but also in New York, Colorado, and Maryland. While none of the laws passed would have stopped the attack if in force at that time, they do limit the legal access law-abiding citizens have to firearms.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

What I'd like to talk about here is some of the thoughts I've had on the subject. Among the foremost of those "thoughts" is a realization that there isn't another country that acknowledges in writing that its citizens have the right to be armed to resist tyranny by that same government. I've lived long term in one other country and visited others and one can readily see the differences in the expectations and mind-set of the people who live there without this guarantee. First among those is that they realize that they also can suffer the consequences of expressing any political thought and that they are helpless in the face of the government.

That leads me to my next thought and that regards the weapons (the "Arms") protected by the 2nd Amendment. Arms ARE weapons. While we most often think of these as firearms I don't believe that ANY weapon is excluded. The military uses a wide variety of arms from edged weapons to nuclear explosives. If it exists and you can afford it then you should be able to have it. Radical? Hmmmmm, maybe. I know that very often the proponents of arms control for citizens say that when this was written all there were were muskets (a smooth bore flintlock analogous to today's shotgun) but that isn't true. There were rifles which had greater range, there were pistols, swords and cannon. Cannon were often privately purchased and mounted on commercial freighters to defend against piracy. In fact, the US government issued letters authorizing citizens to act as government agencies in making war on enemy shipping, using privately purchased and owned ships, cannon, firearms and edged weapons. To as strictly apply those standards to today's technology US citizens should be able to legally acquire full-auto firearms, artillery, etc. In fact, any available technology. No, we don't allow that. Limitations have been placed on explosives, full-auto firearms (not all that practical for individual users anyway) and swords. Even knives have had limitations codified which prohibit public carry of blades of certain shapes, lengths or folding mechanisms of particular types. Many of those restrictions have their origins in a desire to improve "safety" or "security" initiated by criminal misuse. E.g. the ban on bowie knives originated in the mid-19th century because the blade shape was almost startlingly effective in combat and fully-automatic firearm restrictions were the result of criminal use in the 1930s "gangster" era.

Most recently, the restrictions sought by the controllers have been on what they call "assault weapons" (unless the Department of Homeland Security buys them and then they are Personal Defense Weapons AND fully-automatic). These are semi-automatic firearms which are similar in appearance to military weapons. It is the appearance of these firearms by which they are judged as if appearance makes them more lethal. There is likely much to be discerned about the psychological makeup of people who have reached such illogical conclusions and it is typical of the emotional approach to this subject.

Associated with this is a desire to restrict access to "high-capacity" magazines. Limitations to 10 and 7 round magazines have been made. I have to note that these restrictive laws were passed without sufficient review to preclude such inanities as Connecticut's law which bans NEW magazines holding more than 10-rounds AND, although one can still possess them, prohibits putting more than 10-rounds in magazines of greater capacity as if that would be in any way enforceable. In New York the law was written (perhaps) and passed so rapidly that other inanities resulted. First, police and military weren't exempted. The response was that the police would simply not enforce it for themselves (now isn't that rich?). It also ignores otherwise legal possession by National Guards members. On duty they would be issued such magazines for training but if one finds its way into their gear and is overlooked before they head home after training they are suddenly committing a felony. Also, many, perhaps most, semi-auto box magazine fed firearms have never had 7-round magazines manufactured for them. This would effectively prohibit those firearms.

This brings us to another aspect of this rush to ban items previously legal to own and use. Ex post facto laws (Laws that provide for the infliction of punishment upon a person for some prior act that, at the time it was committed, was not illegal.) are prohibited by Article I, Section 10, Clause 1, of the U.S. Constitution. So far as firearms (and now, magazines) are concerned this was previously avoided by "grandfathering" those items so that those already owned could be kept (albeit with restrictions on use) while only new items of that type were banned. However, there is another disturbing trend which applies to other legislation as well and that is to establish a "privileged class" such as police officers, private security firms, politicians, judges, or those wealthy enough to pay the taxes on these items or to hire those with access to provide personal security.

Further, about owning these firearms prior to bans and 99.9% of the time they have not been misused, why would one think that I can be presumed to be a criminal now? And why, after Haynes vs. the U.S. should I bother to register my firearms or comply with such schemes. Presumably I'm already a criminal (once these laws are enacted) and announcing my ownership, as put forth in the decision, is self-incrimination. Due to this the National Firearms Act was amended to only apply to those who could legally possess, but if nobody can legally possess... More inanity.

Which brought me to this thought, stupid laws are generally ignored and when this is done the eventual response is a general disrespect for the law, i.e. lawlessness. I don't think that this is a condition that we want. We also don't people to avoid treatment for medical conditions because they believe that this will result in the loss of their civil rights. That is another approach, well documented in both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, of labeling "enemies of the state" as psychologically ill, affected, disabled or some other negative context. Since just about any problem today is treated with some sort of medication, it appears that the prescription and use of any of these medications is now grounds for the immediate negation of civil rights, at least of owning a firearm. New York has this in their SAFE act (if ever there was a misnomer...) and have already experienced abuse of the act. Whereas Federal law now says you have to be adjudicated, i.e. judged in court, as mentally incompetent/insane, no such limit exists in New York state law. How wonderful for all those people who were innocently prescribed any number of mild sedatives, sleep aids, etc, who are now subject to the whims of bureaucrats.

Mayor (and BILLIONAIRE, i.e. 1%er) Bloomberg has said, "Number two, I would argue if you want to sell your gun to your son, maybe you have a problem in your family. Why don't you just give—I don't know if you should have a gun or not, but if you have a commercial transaction of $100 with your son, there's something wrong in your family. It's just not something where everybody's pulling together in the same direction." Well, here's the deal. MILLIONS of Americans teach their children personal responsibility (as in not depending on Mr. Mayor for guidance) and one way that's done is teaching financial responsibility. Also, families without $BILLIONS, financially help parents, brothers and sisters, etc., by exchanging money for personal possessions such as guns and cars or businesses. There is NOTHING wrong with such transactions. The truth though is that GIFTS would also have been prohibited. In the language of some such laws, even handing a firearm to a person to teach them about firearm safety would have been a violation. This is just another example of how Mayor Bloomberg doesn't "get" real life.

As the debate continues and the Senate comes to a vote and defeats the measure we discovered a few things that aren't really surprising. First, we discover that the hypocritically elitist view of the subject is pervasive. Supporters of limits such as Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly enjoy shooting, he using a Glock just like the one used to shoot Congresswoman Giffords. His "excuse" was that his only holds 17-rounds (which is a prohibited magazine capacity in NY, CT, CO, and MD) rather than the 33-rounds supposedly used in her attacker's Glock. Not exactly logical but apparently that is the limit of their ability to reason.

Further, and perhaps most striking, is the reaction by the President and others to the bill's defeat. Mr. Obama was angry, outraged even. The actual murder of the school children in Newtown, the public servants in Benghazi, or the race attendees in Boston didn't arouse that ire and indignation. The truth is that the President doesn't care for the people affected what he cares about is how this vote will affect his personal political power. Because of the defeat of the bill in the Senate he won't be able to put the blame on the Republicans in the House of Representatives and that doesn't bode well for the 2014 elections. His is a purely selfish view of events.

Above all, it seems to me that this "discussion" about "gun" control has become an example of the desertion of logic and reason in support of accepting one's civil rights to accepting as laudatory the emotional or hysteric response. I liken it to a wounded child's mother who runs around a room screaming rather than taking the immediate step of applying a pressure bandage to the cut. It also seems that there is no person immune to this hysteria and that even those who initially resisted feel compelled to go along with those panicked fools as if being referred to as "calm and collected" was the worst sort of pejorative. Additionally, there are any number of socialists willing to take advantage of the "crisis", perhaps to exacerbate the "crisis", in order to promote their own circumstances. Although they have come to office portraying themselves as leaders and public servants their interest is purely self interest.