Central Oklahoma Gunblogger Schutenfest 2014 – Things Learned

Friday:

Haphazardly throwing meat on fire will get the job done, but properly rubbing it and painstakingly monitoring temperatures produces better results. I think we proved this with pork ribs, beef brisket, and even squirrel.

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It’s always a good time for recreational archery, and a worn out archery target is not at all useless. Please see below.

You know the party has warmed up when the swords come out.

It’s awful fun to hack up a used up archery target with a Scottish claymore.

Sitting by the smoker all day is simultaneously relaxing and exhausting.

Saturday:

No matter how well organized you think you are, you will forget something. Targets, tripods, the other camera, revolvers…

Shooting is a depreciable skill, and I personally am not putting in nearly enough trigger time lately.

Rifles should always outnumber people 2:1 in any civilized gathering. A higher concentration of them is even better.

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With many thousands of dollars worth of hardware laying about, sometimes it’s the $4 vinyl decal that steals the show.

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Trophies make good targets.

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Pulling out a life sized mannequin and placing her downrange will excite a line of shooters the same way the ice cream truck does kids in the park.

And then, a half pound of Tannerite will blow her into more pieces than you can count.

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If you want someone to try your gun, seize the opportunity to shove it into their hand along with ammo at the first opportunity.

There’s no better way to wear yourself into exhaustion than a day at the range.

Sunday:

A windy night will do remarkable things to a 40-foot tarp left out.

There’s a lot of fun to be had even on the clean up day.

Often, a $200 rifle is just as much fun as a $2,000 rifle, even when each of them was fully worth the respective purchase price. You’ll probably want at least one of each.

Make sure you have enough charged batteries for all the cameras you might want to run.

You can in fact have too many tripods. This is a relieving, good problem to have.

A home made long bow with a ~40-lb draw weight will launch an arrow at over 100fps and least 100-yards, although the arrow is nearly impossible to track with a camera.

A pound of Tannerite will reduce 120 eggs to a fine layer of goo and tiny shell fragments faster than you can say, “Woah!” Pics and stuff forthcoming.

Overall lessons from the weekend:

When the event is over, you can simultaneously be relieved to get back to normal life and saddened that it couldn’t last longer.

The third weekend in March is a less than ideal calendar date for an event like this.

Sporting clays apparently reproduce. As long as we keep hosting this event, I’m confident I’ll never have to buy another box of the things. Then again, it’s hard to have too many.

There’s no way to accurately guess how much food will be needed in advance, but we got pretty close this time.

I should already know by now, but a gray tarp would be better to photograph and take video on than a blue one.

As wonderful as it is to see the friends who came, and as grateful as you can be for their attendance, there’s always room to miss the ones who couldn’t make it.

Another Great Commercial

I’ve explained before that I love a good commercial. Uncreative commercials are boring at best and sometimes outright irritating, but when they are done right, they become a form of entertainment all of their own. When advertisement first hit YouTube heavily, I was not impressed. However in the current format, where you can opt to skip the commercial after the first fifteen seconds, it’s forced many marketers to step up their game. If they can sell you on the commercial in the first fifteen seconds, then you might just watch the rest. This approach causes the quality to come up overall. Check out this Totino’s commercial:

Classic! And, it’s holiday-appropriate too. To that end, do have a happy Halloween. Let’s get some kids all sugared up tonight!

KTKC 2013 Day 27, Recap from Yesterday

As you all know by now, the least sane of us have been kilted this month to raise awareness about male specific cancers, and to seek sponsorship in the endeavor to benefit related charities. Please feel free to throw some bucks at my Prostate Cancer Foundation page.

Sometime last week, we ran out of paycheck at the end of the bills. This happens more often in September than any other time of the year. Especially when we just upgraded phones. And, accidentally lost $500 to an embarrassing clerical error. Oops. On Wednesday, we ran out of coffee. Yesterday, I decided to use Coca Cola as my caffeine delivery system, but my body wasn’t having any of that nonsense.

For a while, my uncle was brewing green coffee, as he had read that it was the new, popular ‘superfood’ that would cure all that ails you. He got tired of drinking green coffee and gave me half a bag of green Brazilian santos that he no longer had any use for. Last summer was entirely too hot to roast coffee, as is produces entirely too much smoke to roast indoors, and consequently I still have quite a bit of this hanging around. So, yesterday, I dug out the roaster that I made out of a popcorn popper and a grill thermometer, and threw a pound of green santos in it on the grill’s side burner.

roasting

Once the beans achieved the proper color, aroma, and sound, they went into the colander to remove the chaff.

dechaff

Update – sorry. I got twitchy on my publish button, apparently.

While the coffee beans were cooling, Jennifer and I put together a couple of smoked tri tip roast quiches with home grown parsnips, onions, and basil, topped with white cheddar. We baked one for dinner and threw the other in the freezer for next time. Over dinner we watched classic Doctor Who with Teen Bot. After Teen Bot went to bed, we pickled up jalapeƱo hybrids* and pear tomatoes from our garden with some garlic chunks. Although I’m a little disappointed at the anemic production of our garden over the last few years, yesterday reminds me that we really are producing quite a bit of our own stuff. As we sat and relaxed before bed, I commented that I wish my shoulder wasn’t bothering me so much because I’d like to get that couch cushion stitched shut finally.

Again, please do consider sponsoring me in this year’s KTKC drive. You can donate here. We only have three more days to go!

*Having planted our peppers too close together this year, they apparently cross-pollinated. Our best guess is that our jalapeƱos crossed with our habaneros, or possibly some kind of demon. They are bright red and wicked hot.

Guns and Coffee?

I’m not going to bother linking to everyone in this post, but it seems like every gun blogger and his or her dog has weighed in on the non-committal letter from Starbutts concerning company policy on the carrying of guns. Here’s a link to the letter from the CEO, if you don’t have navel lint to gaze at or grass to watch growing, or sand to count, or any other more gainful thing to do with your time. Otherwise, I’ll summarize the new ‘policy’ for you:

Starbutts managment has decided that they don’t want to be a soapbox for the gun debate. They just want to sell bad coffee. They aren’t going to put up gun buster signs, and their “partners,” i.e. minimum-wage employees, won’t ask you to leave or refuse you service, but they would really prefer that you not come to their establishment armed. They won’t call the cops or anything, “but come on, guys! Please?”

In my home state, as well as many others, a business can put up a sign. If they don’t want guns in their establishment, they may post a sign that is “clearly visible at the entrance.” If you ignore this sign and enter anyway, you are not breaking the law anyway. If any worker at the establishment happens to notice your gun and if they then happen to give a trickle of whiz that you have ignored the sign, they may at that point ask you to vacate the premises. You still have not fallen afoul of the law if you turn heel at this point and find something better to do. If however, at this point you refuse to leave, they may call the police and you may be held liable for trespassing. In other words, there are a lot of ‘ifs’ to get through in order to make it illegal to carry a gun on private property here. What does that all mean for Starbutts and their new “policy” you might ask. Not so much as a hill of beans. Not even overpriced, former coffee beans that have the flavor completely roasted out of them.

And, what does this all mean to me? Just a little less than the aforementioned hill of tortured beans. I’ma tellya why too! Years ago, I started ordering my coffee beans online from these guys, mostly because none of the local groceries carried good coffee. CCM Coffee ships their coffee within 24-hours of roasting it, so it all tastes fresh and fantastic. You typically want to consume your coffee within a week or two of roasting it for the best flavor. For perspective, your typical canned coffee was roasted sometime since the Pleistocene. I only ordered a pound or two at a time because we couldn’t drink it before it went stale if I ordered it at higher quantities for a discount. Then, I started ordering green coffee beans in quantity, and home roasting in small volume to meet our coffee drinking needs. At this point, there’s a frou frou grocery store within walking distance of our home that has a couple dozen varieties of high-quality coffee (far better quality than Starbutts uses), reasonably priced; so I’ve pretty well fallen out of home roasting anymore.

The whole coffee beans go into a burr grinder, of which we have two (two is one, one is none). When it’s precisely ground to spec, it gets brewed with filtered water in our Briel Domus Uno espresso machine. Incidentally, Starbutts used to use good Briel machines, until they replaced them all with automatics once they found that a typical, minimum-wage barista can’t run a good machine reliably, even though I’m pretty sure I could train my Siamese to do it. Sometimes I’ll sweeten with a touch of raw agave nectar, and/or add a splash of milk, cold or steamed, depending on my mood. I usually drink it black. If you tell an average, knuckle-dragging barista that you want a double or triple shot of strait espresso, they will likely look at you like you just sprouted horns. Plus, I may or may not get dressed before I have my coffee. Try that at Starbutts!

Ten bucks will get you a pound of coffee that will make approximately fifty espresso shots, if I’m guestimating right. You won’t use a gallon of milk before it goes bad if this is all you do with it. A quart-sized bottle of agave nectar is about seven bucks and lasts me six months. Figure $.20 per shot on the beans and maybe a penny to sweeten your drink. Even if you go triple shot, with milk, you’re looking at well under a buck for a latte. Needless to say, I’m not spending money at coffee shops. Between equipment cost (~$300-$500 for a decent machine, plus ~$50 for a grinder) prorated over the years it will last (current setup here has been running fine for over five years so far) and expendable supplies (see above), it’s pennies on the dollar to brew at home as compared to going out for coffee. Plus, you get a far superior cup of joe.

Over the last few years, when the troops were rallied to support Starbutts for their refusal to ban us for our guns and to make up for their loss of business on the antis boycott, Jennifer and I would begrudgingly wander into the corner coffee shop and spend $20 on their crap as an act of solidarity. I can confidently say that Starbutts won’t be getting our $20 a year anymore. Boy, that’ll hurt! With the amounts I know other people are spending on coffee, and how those green and white signs seem to sprout out of the ground like weeds, they aren’t going to miss our $20, and we won’t miss their coffee. I know that some people are getting a little more worked up about this than others. I just don’t see it as much of an issue, one way or another, on any given level. Oh and, we’re still doing Kilted To Kick Cancer. Please take a minute and go donate here. Thanks you!

Baconnaise

Many of you probably know that we here at the Evyl Robot Empyre are fans of bacon. Probably the greatest bacon fan of the three of us is Teen Bot, who loves to receive bacon products and bacon themed products as gifts, even for major landmarks and holidays. Recently, he convinced his grandparents to pick up a jar of Baconnaise when he went to the grocery store with them.

jar

At their house, I had the opportunity to try some of this on a sandwich. It has a very odd, vaguely bacon flavor which probably leans a little to hard on the salt and smoke flavors. Something that struck me as odd was this mark on the back label:

Kosher

Wait. *head scratch* If I’m not mistaken, bacon is a pork product. And although I’m not Jewish, I do believe that pork is not included in a Kosher diet. Sooooooo, what’s in this crap?

ingredients

Sorry about the focus. The above ingredients label reads: soybean oil, water, egg yolk, gluconic acid, salt, autolyzed yeast extract, cellulose gel, modified food starch (from corn), maltodextrin, cultured dextrose, sugar, dehydrated garlic, paprika, dehydrated onion, spice, xanthan gum, guar gum, gum accia, natural smoke flavor, natural flavors (contain milk), tocopherols (vitamin-E to protect flavor), calcium disodium EDTA (to protect flavor).

AND NO BACON!!! And, what is ‘cultured dextrose’? Can it speak more than one language and understand fine arts? I believe I’ll stick to regular mayonnaise and add bacon strips to my sandwich if I see fit. If you want really good mayo, you could even make your own at home. I’ve used a variation on Alton Brown’s recipe, which can be found here. That’s right, a few ingredients worth less than a buck can be converted into nine ounces of home made mayonnaise in about ten minutes. And, it’s fun! Make a little more than that, and it will keep for a few days in a jar in your refrigerator. Try it with your kids. I will admit that I use store-bought mayo, but it’s only because of the convenience. An unopened jar will store at room temperature for long beyond its printed expiration date, and when I want to use it, I have to wash the knife I spread it with without the addition of whatever I whipped it up with and in. Leave the Baconnaise to Jewish people who want to know what bacon vaguely tastes like without violating their faith.

Soft Drinks, Artificial Sweetener, and Childhood

This morning I attempted to pop open a can of Pepsi Throwback, but apparently the top of the can was not scored deeply enough for the opening tab to function properly, and I wound up with an unopened can and the separated pull tab in my hand. Not to be discouraged, I used the can opener in my Leatherman to open the can, and enjoy my Pepsi. this brought back memories of my childhood. When I was around seven years old, I liked to use my finger to push the flap of can top flat against the underside of the lid for some reason. I honestly have no idea why that held such appeal to me. When my dad saw me doing this on several occasions, he mistakenly thought that I was dropping the pull tab into the can, and he’d take the drink away from me, citing that I could accidentally swallow the pull tab and injure myself. He never understood my explanation when I tried to clarify that in reality, there was no loose metal in the can. I would often drink diet sodas, because the aspartame would give me such a buzz. In fact, I’d often eat artificial sweetener tabs like mints for the same head rush. At the time I never made the connection that the subsequent skull-throbbing headache was a direct result of the aspartame. I always had headaches when I was younger. When I started avoiding that crap, the headaches disappeared. As I have matured, artificial sweeteners stopped giving me any kind of buzz, but the headaches are still guaranteed, often accompanied by nausea. Sometimes I wish that everything was so simple as misunderstandings over soft drink cans and avoiding the wrong food additives.

NRA 2013 – Thursday and Friday

Thursday, Jennifer and I got up early with the plan to pick up the rent-a-heap (as OldNFO calls it), with the intent of her taking our Compact Tactical Assault Sedan to work while I took the foster car home to load our junk, ready to drive once she got home from the office. She had a couple of loose ends to tie up before she could take off, but she was still planning to cut out early. The rental company jacked up our reservation and didn’t have our car by 7:30 as arranged. At that time, they offered excuses and said they could take a car to her office by nine. They didn’t have a compact, as we had booked, so they were going to upgrade us to a midsize. I dropped her off at work and took our CTAS home. At nine, she texted to let me know that the rental company had not yet delivered a car. She called and reamed them a new one, so they ‘upgraded’ us, once again, to a Dodge Avenger. Our original booking must have been for a two-door Speck with a three hamster engine. They got her the car at around 9:30, and we were on the road by ten. In all fairness, the rental company was extremely receptive to our multiple complaints and has made overtures to remedy the mishandling.

The drive was not terribly noteworthy, considering we drove through both Dallas and Houston. There weren’t too many situations in which I knew we were about to see some idiot cause a forty car pile-up because he was in such a hurry to rush up and tailgate the next driver in line or cut across four lanes of traffic with no signal, or both. Maybe I’m just growing patience with age. Thursday night, we met up with some of our friends for some Cajun food. Jennifer and I split a dozen oysters on ice, five pounds of crawfish, sausage, potatoes, and corn. Yum! Friday morning, we woke up at the butt crack of freaking dawn and headed down to the convention center. Parking was a veritable nightmare. If you don’t mind spending $30 to park your car for a day, it wasn’t bad at all, but that is extortion, IMHO.

The show was what I have come to expect out of a trade show. There were lots of pretties to handle and we got to meet many interesting people. Some of them are people that we have grown to know and respect online, others that we only knew by reputation prior to this weekend, and still others that were fresh introductions. Also, we had the opportunity to catch up with some old friends, if not nearly enough of them. But, that’s how these things go. It seems like no matter how much you try to pack into each day of the weekend, in the end you’re always short on time. Please do expect some pics and accounts of guns and gear, as well as more detailed stories, and it looks like we’ll have some extended test and evaluation stuff to look forward to. In the meantime, I’ll post some more updates tomorrow, and suffice it to say that it’s been an extraordinary trip so far.

Marketing Fail

Every now and then, I’ll see a store display that just stinks of some out-of-touch marketing mind doing something that they think will be clever, not taking into account reality or people or human nature. At the local office supply store, there is a Sharpie marker display that is set up as a try-before-you-buy affair. It is a colorful display with racks of markers in different colors, and at waist height, it has a paper scratchpad and a couple pads of Post-Its. One must be careful how they design a promotional store display. It is nothing short of laughable that whatever aforementioned marketing guru did not foresee the shortcomings in this otherwise clever marketing piece.

See, people can’t leave well enough alone. If you leave an opportunity to make havoc, someone will take you up on the offer. How many times have you seen a prank video based around the placement of a mysterious button, and the filming of passers by pressing it to see what will happen? Indeed, I would defy you to leave what appears to be a very large firecracker someplace with a lighter, and see how many people try to light it. It’s irresistible. As another example, on Sunday, one of the local grocery stores had a rack full of herbs. I could not help myself and had to do a little rearranging.

herbs

Are you going to the grocery store? Remind me to one who works there.
So, Sharpie has this great display where people can try out many colors of their permanent markers.

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They even provided a little pad of paper for people to try out their markers on. There’s a sign over the paper that reads, “Try Me”. And surely, nobody would mark anywhere but the provided paper, right?

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“Try Me” you say? Don’t mind if I do!

I’ve been watching this display for a while. When it first went in, although pristine, I recognized it for the degenerative folly that it would eventually become. Here’s part of the display which shows a picture of a little girl a few months ago:

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And, more recently:

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I <3 poop

LOL! Beware of the quips of marker wielding idiots! The differences are subtle, but clearly more artists have contributed as time has gone by. People even took the opportunity to mark on the shelving to the side of the display.

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Here, you can see that someone wrote a greeting to the world not once, but twice, just in case the world wasn’t paying attention the first time. World, you’ve been greeted. And finally, there was at least one brony representing:

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They at least had the decency to leave the message on one of the provided Post Its instead of defacing the display or store property. I realize that most of this graffiti is likely the work of under attended children, but it illustrates a part of human nature that never really goes away. As we mature, we learn to rise above it, but it never fades completely. We’ll always have that prankster that wants to press the button or rearrange the herbs or scrawl “I <3 poop" in a speech bubble on the Sharpie display. Note to all you marketing people out there; make your product labeling witty and humorous enough that your prospective customers won't want to deface it when their attention is drawn to it.

awesomesauce

Because seriously, who would want to mess up a perfectly good jar of Awesomesauce?

That’s Got to Be Bad Luck

Last year sometime, I received an email invitation to a beer tasting at the gun range closest to our house.

You read that right. The indoor climate-controlled gun range that is within stumbling distance of my home had several breweries come out, set up booths, and serve beer on the premises. But, don’t worry – they had the drinking section separated from the shooting section and they weren’t letting anyone shoot who had been drinking. They had taken names to draw for door prizes, and I had tasted Coop Ale Works‘ entire flight at least twice when they called my name. If you like beer, and you ever come through Oklahoma City, I highly recommend stopping in to give these guys a whirl, as they know their craft well, and brew some tasty refreshments. So, as they had just called my name, I went to retrieve my door prize. They handed me a handsome pint glass with the Coop logo silkscreened on one side and a list of their beers on the other. There was a matching, black t-shirt rolled up and stuffed in the glass. Oddly, I’ve wound up with quite a few beer t-shirts in circumstances not unlike this one. I did what any good beer fan would have in my circumstance, and took my glass to the Coop rep serving DNR, and showed him that my prize glass was defective.

“Because it’s empty?” he clarified. Ah! We have a quick one here, “I’m not filling that for you. You don’t want a full pint of DNR right now.” Oh well, you can’t blame a guy for trying. A good time was had by all, the alcohol may have influenced me to spend some money on Magpul accessories. I have no idea where the t-shirt wound up, but the glass took up residence on my kitchen counter and has been my go-to glass since then. Anytime I need a glass of filtered water, that’s the glass I grab. What if I want a glass of Hanson Key Lime soda? Coop glass, that’s what. I have had to make an actual effort to remember to cycle this thing through the dishwasher from time to time, as I’ve been in the habit of simply rinsing it and setting it by the espresso machine until I used it next. Until today, that is.

When Teen Bot and I were done with our Red Baron pizza, I walked into the dark kitchen and reached toward the sink to rinse my plate. The cuff on my O.G. caught on the lip of my Coop glass and it fell to its death upon the tile floor. It was almost like it fell in slow motion, with me reaching after it crying, “NNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!” But, it was too late.

As I swept up its remains, it called out to me, “Why? Why didn’t you save me? We had so many good times together!” And, I gave it a burial in File Thirteen in a coffin made from the Red Barron pizza box with the end folded shut. So, now I need a new go to cup. I was thinking maybe something like this:

skull goblet

Or this:

Battlestar Galactica

Or even this:

Rainbow Dash

Then again, something like this wouldn’t break if I dropped it:

Battle Mug

I put those on my Amazon wish list anyway. Maybe I’ll get lucky and someone will gift me one.

To Serve and Protect… For Dinner?

One thing that many people fail to realize is that the police are the people and the people are the police. If you take a big enough subsection of population, you are going to come up with social outliers. That is to say that you will find sickos in any group of people if you take a large enough sample. There are an estimated 35,000 officers employed by the New York Police Department, which makes it slightly less surprising that you can find some bad seeds in their ranks. But, when they are being arrested for conspiring to kidnap, rape, torture, murder, and eat women using official databases; well, that just goes a little beyond reasonable distribution. How many sociopathic rapist cannibals are acceptable in a 35,000-individual sample anyway? Thanks for giving me yet another reason to avoid big cities. My parents have made recommendations that Jennifer and I should vacation in Chicago, NYC, Paris, and London. No thank you. Certainly not with the world in its current state. There are many places in the world that I would love to visit but for the lack of value put on the individual. Perhaps one day even the big cities of he world will respect an individual’s natural right to self defense, but as long as people are treated as subjects and chattel in such places, I’ll be staying in flyover country.