Lucky Gunner Shoot .5

Alright. I was going to write up a clever little post here. But, the interwebtron connection is frustratingly slow. There are pics and videos to share. I even shot a cute little teaser video so I could post something at all. But, I was not going to sit here for two hours to upload a little ten second video. So, I have only these few lines for you. Suffice it to say, Jennifer and I are having an absolute blast. More to follow…

The Stereo in My Studio

If you have read my blog or Jennifer‘s blog more than twice, you know by now that I work from home on my own. For any of you who have met me in person, you have probably noticed that I’m extremely social. So much so in fact, that this personality trait is often a bug rather than a feature. It really bothers me to be alone. So, I decided that I needed some background noise while I work. Just something simple, you know? I started playing music from my laptop and installed text-to-speech extensions on Firefox so I could listen to peoples’ blogs and gun forums while I work. I had an old no-name stereo receiver (Acoustic Dynamics by Tanglewood?) that my great aunt gave me that I streamed my laptop through to get a little more oomph out of it.

Years ago, in this same space, I had The Hydra – a three-headed, double CPU monster of a computer system with 21-inch CRTs. I do miss the big screens, but they had to go for what I’m doing now. Alas, all good things and all that… At the time, I wanted to get a cheap but decent set of speakers to run on that old receiver hooked to The Hydra. I ran across a pair of Cizek Sound Windows (circa 1980-1982) at a garage sale. They are ugly as all heck, but darned if they don’t sound incredible! You have probably never heard of Roy Cizek unless you are a serious hi-fi nerd. This blind man was arguably the father of all hi-fi speakers. It’s probably because of his lack of sight that he made the Sound Windows so ugly now that I think about it. He didn’t make his own speakers for very long before his company folded and he went to work as the sound engineer for Altec Lansing in Oklahoma City. Yes, Roy Cizek > Cizek Speakers > Altec Lansing > John B Lansing Co (JBL). They are not only a great set of speakers, they’re also an important piece of audio history. This system is starting to look a little less simple than I original thought though.

A few months ago, I ran across a Marantz 2220B (circa 1979) at a garage sale. We bought a couple of Ott lamps at the garage sale and the seller lady threw in the receiver for free. Let me say that it is a massive improvement over my old no-name stereo receiver. The Marantz has clarity and definition like I didn’t think you could get out of a solid-state amplifier. Its sound is crisp and clear and the distortion level is practically nil. With the old Tanglewood, I’d remember to shut it off at the end of my day because its subtle fuzz was a reminder. When the Marantz is at idle, it produces no such noise, even with the volume knob turned quite high. I connected the Cizeks to the Marantz with some 16-gauge oxygen free copper speaker wire that I purchased at yet another garage sale. the receiver has some burned out light bulbs in the display panel that I may eventually replace, but that doesn’t bother me so much.

Then I started shopping for a decent CD player. I didn’t necessarily want a changer, just a quality deck-style CD player. At first, I searched pawn shops. I don’t think pawn shops take in such things anymore. I was about to resign myself to picking up a used DVD player to run in my workspace when I ran across three Technics SL-PG440s (1994) at Mikey’s Eternal Garage Sale. I paid Mikey $10.00 for one of them which turned out to be a lemon. When I took it back to him, he gave me the other two in exchange. I’m now running one of them in my studio and the other in Wee Bot’s room. I didn’t realize you could get this kind of sound out of CDs. And that’s really saying something, as our home theater system is certainly no slouch! On a subsequent trip to Mikey’s Eternal Garage Sale I found a 6-foot RCA cable from Monster. I know that interconnects do make a difference in sound, but that may have been the single most impressive upgrade to the system.

My only complaint about the Sound Windows (besides their atrocious looks) is the fact that they are a little anemic in the low end. So, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for a decent little subwoofer to add to the system. This weekend, I spotted a Klipsch KSW-10 (circa 1998) that I stole for a mere $30. This little box is exactly what the system was asking for. A twelve to fifteen inch subwoofer would simply be too much bass. The ten has a satisfying thump that blends well with the old Cizeks run through the Marantz. When I crank it up loud, it will knock stuff off the walls, but turned down low it maintains a nice, whisper-level boom or rumble in all the right places.

So, let’s see how I did with my bargain hunting…

Marantz 2220B – Paid: $0 vs. Estimated street price: $150
Cizek Sound Windows – Paid: $10.00 vs. Estimated street price: $75.00 (sorry, no source)
Technics SL-PG440 – Paid: $5.00 vs. Estimated street price: $75.00
Klipsch KSW-10 – Paid $30.00 vs. Estimated street price: $300.00
Monster RCA Cable & speaker wire – Paid: ~$1.50 vs. Estimated street price: ~$40.00

Totals – Paid about $46.50 for about a $640.00 system. The sound is simply unbelievable. Oddly, this is not what I wanted. I just wanted something to produce a little background noise. Somehow I wound up with a vintage audiophile monster. It’s the 800-lb gorilla of a workspace sound system. I’m scratching my head and wondering how in the world this happened. Maybe I need to add a turntable now… If I could track down a second set of Sound Windows I could hook them up on the B-channel. Or possibly some Model Ones… As much as I like the Marantz, I’d really love to go with a vintage tube amp instead…

Lost Blog

It is with great sadness that I have had to delete Boobs, Injuries, & Dr. Pepper from my blogroll. Crystal leaves these words in the only entry that remains on her website:

I am not giving glory to God here. I’m proud of some of the things I’ve written but a lot of the stuff here brings me shame and I don’t want that to be part of my path now. I’m going a different direction.

I understand abandoning the blog, (trust me, i do) but to delete all entries except for the ‘good-bye’ post? Then again, it’s hard to blame her for her decision to tear down all her work given her reasoning. It’s fair to say that none of us are proud of every single thing we’ve said or done. If you were given the chance to take it all, as in everything back for a fresh start at it all, would you be tempted? Not that I would, but given the opportunity, it might be tempting.

I’ve enjoyed reading her posts off and on for many years now. Some of her stories brought me the kind of riotous laughter that made my eyes tear up. I will never forget some of them, even if they are no longer accessible online. She has that rare talent to capture those notable moments in life and then retell them in the most entertaining way possible. We’ve all heard young children say things in their ignorance that were simply hilarious. It’s difficult to note these high points and then recount them properly. I will miss her talent in doing so. In some small way, it feels something like the death of a friend.

Several people in my blogroll go through periods of absence, and I’ve left them there anyway. Frankly, when the material is good enough, I would consider leaving an extinct blog on the blogroll. But, when one has been stripped as this one has, I don’t really see any choice but to say goodbye. Crystal, I’m sad to see you go. I wish I knew where you were blogging now, but I can appreciate the need for a clean start. Wherever you go and whatever you do, I wish you success and prosperity and God’s blessings. Take care of that hilarious family of yours, and don’t be too hard on yourself.

Rainwater & Gardening

There is a gentleman in town who has a perpetual garage sale going. He has a space rented in town where he hosts a church in which he is a minister. In his off time, he goes and buys the contents of delinquent storage rentals and resells these goods in the same space as his church. As you can imagine, he winds up with some of the most random stuff conceivable. We make it a point to go by “Mikey’s Eternal Garage Sale” (our name, not his) every weekend or so. I have many stories to tell about things that I’ve purchased there, but this entry is about one thing in particular.

As I’m sure you are aware, we wound up with a fairly sizable home garden this year through a twist that is only possible in today’s internet-connected world. Jennifer has been writing about our adventures in gardening. Anyway, at Mikey’s Eternal Garage Sale (MEGS?) I saw a 55-gallon barrel made of blue plastic, probably high-density polyethylene. Mikey told me that he would sell me the drum for $5 if I wanted it, but wondered what in the world I wanted it for. I told him that I wanted to cut open the top and place it under a shortened gutter spout so we could collect rainwater to water the garden with it. Like-a-so:

2011-05-20 11.10.35

Obviously, my cut hole is a little crude, and I’ll likely go back and clean that up some. You may also notice that the thing is completely overflowing. Yeah. We got a little rain last night. The instant success of our water collection got me to doing some math…

The barrel is almost exactly two feet wide. Pi times radius squared gives us the area of a cross-cut on the surface of the barrel. The barrel’s radius is one foot, one times one is one, and so we can assume the area of the barrel is 3.14 square feet. Sure, I know that it would be more precise to use 3.14159265 or so, but who cares about that kind of precision anyway? Our house is just under 1,100 square feet and is pretty well bisected by the peak of the roof. the gutter runs along the full edge of the roof on that side, and has one downspout pouring into that barrel. So, we can assume that the roof and guttering system is funneling about 550 square feet of rain into our little drum, at its unknown efficiency level. The area of the roof divided by the area of the barrel ought to give us a rough multiplicative factor on how many inches of rain will fill how many inches of barrel. 550/3.14=175.16. So, every inch of rain with no loss would fill 175-inches of barrel, or about 270-gallons. Since we only have 36-inches of barrel, this tells us that one inch of rain could come close to filling up five 55-gallon drums, or 1/5″ of rain would fill up our one barrel. Last night, we got about 1.5-inches of rain, which would be enough to fill up about seven barrels the size of ours, or a collection of almost 400 gallons of water.

2011-05-20 11.11.10

Frankly, I have no idea how much water we’re dumping on our little garden, but I know the plants respond well to a good rain as opposed to tap. What I do know is that if we had a similar collection system on the other side of the house and means to actually store it, a rain like last night would have produced 800 gallons for us. This part of the state averages 36-inches annually, which translates into almost 10,000-gallons with such a collection system. Granted, I don’t think that we would rat-hole ten thousand gallons of water, as we would be using out of it between showers.

The fascination is that I’d never really thought about rain or rainfall or collecting rainwater before. I very simply had no idea that it was so easy to collect such large amounts of it. The tin-foil-hatter in me wonders how I would have to treat it and store it to effectively use it as a potable water source. For our current property, I could see having multiple barrels linked together with tubes and valves so that we could remotely fill them from the collection barrel under the gutter spout. As they filled up, we could shut them off in logical succession and water the garden from individual bottles as a cascade system. When we build, if we have established rainwater as a valuable enough resource, I could see putting in a large underground storage tank that we could direct the water to. Plus, the new place will be significantly larger than our current house. I’d say that it’s conservative to assume that we could double the reap number from what I’ve laid out above. Really, I wouldn’t go with less than a 10,000-gallon tank on new construction. Even so, the little 55-gallon rain barrel could still be valuable as an initial filtration device. Then again, we’ll be getting our tap water from a well when we build. Would there be a specific advantage to collecting and storing rainwater over letting it run off into the natural filter of the earth and pump it from groundwater as needed? I don’t know. Looks like I have homework to do there.

As I said before, I don’t really know how much water we consume by watering our garden, but I have a feeling I’m about to find out. It shouldn’t take but watering the garden from the barrel a couple times before we have some idea on that. It is turning into quite the intriguing experiment though.

A Couple of Good Covers

Since I am now working from home, by myself, all alone… And, being the hyper social person that I am, it gets a little quiet for my taste from time to time. As such, I’ve set myself up with a decent little stereo in my studio (which I will have to dedicate another blog entry to), and I plug the sound from my laptop into my stereo receiver. With this setup, I can listen to the radio, listen to CDs, have listen to gun blogs and forums via text-to-speech, and even pipe in some music from YouTube or Pandora. It keeps me pretty well contented while I work.

Without digging it up in my archives, I’m pretty certain that I’ve posted some covers done by Scala and Kolacny Brothers before. Anyway, in my YouTube wandering today, seeking out lovely background noise to my working, I ran across a couple of good covers from them. I’ve been really impressed with their ‘covers’ which are less cover and more remake. They have a great knack of performing a pop culture hit in a way that is both highly respectful of the original and a unique, original, and artistic reinterpretation. Frankly, I’m surprised that there are so few choirs that do this sort of work. Perhaps it’s the very fact that they do such a fantastic job of it, more to the point.

Here’s a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Nirvana’s “Lithium” that I had to tweet this morning:

Here’s their version of “Beautiful People.” Please keep in mind that they’ve followed Marilyn Manson’s lyrics which aren’t usually safe for work.


Defense Mentality

All over the internet, you will find a commentary piece written by the absolutely adorable conservative author, Michelle Malkin concerning what happened aboard AA Flight 1561 last weekend. I say ‘absolutely adorable’, but it’s really no secret that I have a thing for Filipina girls. But, I digress… Mrs. Malkin describes Rageh Ahmed Mohammed al-Murisi’s attempt to hijack the airplane in a terrorist attack which was thwarted by fellow passengers. He tried to rush the cockpit twice, screaming “Allahu akbar!” repeatedly. Apparently the liberal media has tried to say that he was confused and looking for the bathroom. Although I have needed to go badly enough to incite the Lord’s name, I don’t typically think “God is good” until after I finish my business. Indeed, this was another terrorist attack by another Muslim extremist. But, that’s not really what I’m writing about. No, I’m here about the money quote of Mrs. Malkin’s piece. Larry Wright, one of the men who attacked and took down al-Murisi stated:

I swore to myself that I would never be a victim

Good on you, Larry! If you are ever in the Central Oklahoma area, look me up. I’d like to buy your a beer. In fact, I’ve sworn the same oath. So has my wife, as she hinted at in a recent blog entry. There is a mentality growing in this nation. For too long, we’ve been soft and complacent, expecting every day to be as secure and predictable as the last, and that others will take care of us if there are any unexpected curves. But, more and more people are waking up to the fact that this is a dangerous world and we can’t assume safety. In the end, you are your last defense. No one is going to protect you more than you will. This concept makes sense to Larry Wright, who rather than sitting in his seat and waiting for someone else to stop the terrorist, took his destiny into his own hands and did what he had to do to assure that he and his fellow passengers, as well as the crew of the plane were able to keep on living. The TSA’s illegal security theater with their X-rated scans and child molesting ways are not going to make our skies any safer. This spreading mentality of personal responsibility to fight evil is going to make the skies safe. And, it will make our streets safe too. It sucks that we have to live in fear in order to get there, but how exciting that people are finally waking up and acting like Americans should!

Defense Stick

This morning, I saw an older gentleman walking down my neighborhood street, using a golf club as a walking cane. The guy was probably late fifties to early sixties, so not all that old, and he looked healthy. Not at all overweight, he was built solidly and carried himself well. I had not seen him around the neighborhood before. As he walked past and continued down the street, I don’t think he noticed me, although he did keep his head up, on a swivel, continually aware of his surroundings. And the golf club. Tap, tap, tap. He walked it along in the cadence of his step, but applied no weight to it. It looked like a driver of some kind, although I’m not familiar enough with golf clubs to tell for sure. He grasped the head in his hand and the grip stepped along the ground by his foot. Why is this noteworthy? Because it happened in MY neighborhood.

Where Jennifer works is a rough part of town. It seems that her office is a bit of an oasis in the violent native surroundings because some of the local, more organized criminals have ‘claimed’ the property and won’t abide small-time thugs violating that territory. When I drive through that part of town, I often see people walking down the side of the street. It makes sense. It’s a low income area, and not everyone can afford a car. Among these pedestrians, it is all too common to see them carrying a baseball bat, sawed-off fence post, or a board with a nail in it. The purpose is clear.

This is the non-gun version of Open Carry, I suppose. It gives the message that they are not going down without a fight. Pick another victim. Frankly, if I found myself in their lifestyle, I’d do the same thing. I haven’t noticed that most thugs have much use in trying to push me anyway – must be something in the air I exude that makes them wonder if I know secrets that they do not. But, it is not beneath me to carry a big stick. That’s exactly what was so very odd about the gentleman on my street this morning. This is a very safe part of town. Most people on the street keep their cars and houses unlocked. Granted I don’t, but many do. I have not heard any reports of violence in our area except for the few and far between domestic situations that only involve rental couples that never stay for very long anyway.

That’s really what I like about concealed carry. You don’t have to make a fuss about the fact that you are deadly. To me, carrying the big stick is for situations where you want people to know for whatever reason. Part of me wanted to approach the man and ask him what he was expecting that he felt that he needed to carry a golf club to dissuade violence in this neighborhood. Ultimately, I decided against it. If his explanation is paranoia, he might perceive my approach as a threat.

I Soaked My Finger In Cider.

No. Really. Last week, Thursday and Friday specifically, I shifted into overdrive to really crank out some holsters and get this stuff rolling better. There are several rigs that I’d really like to have ready to hand deliver at the Lucky Gunner shoot at the end of the month. I’ve really only got a couple weeks to make that happen. So, I was cranking away hard at my big industrial shears through heavy leather, and I injured something. On Friday afternoon, it hurt to bend my index finger on my right hand. Oh no! Not my trigger finger!

That evening we went to our community First Friday Wine Share. This is an excuse to mingle and pass out business cards while drinking wine. Another of the regulars there is a doctor who is some sort of joint guru. Jennifer caught him and told him about my problem, so he came to investigate. He grasped my hand and told me to bend my finger in various positions. “Does it hurt? How about now? Does this hurt?” This may be why I don’t like doctors, now that I think about it.

He explained to me that there seemed to be some kind of tendon problem in that finger. He said that I should pick up some apple cider vinegar and Epsom salts. He instructed me to heat the vinegar as hot as I could stand it and dissolve the Epsom salts into it to the point of saturation. He said that I should soak my hand in this solution for half an hour or so and that would likely fix the problem. He said that if it did not, I should come in for an appointment. This is the kind of doctor that I like, incidentally.

So, I microwaved a large ceramic bowl with half a gallon of apple cider vinegar and two pounds of Epsom salts, and soaked my hand in the eye-watering solution. I’m happy to report that my hand is tingly, and the pressure seems to have been relieved on my finger. It is still a little uncomfortable, but it is a night and day difference from the way it felt even this morning. I believe I’m going to take some ibuprofen, take it easy on that hand for a while and call it good for now.