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Friday, November 21, 2014

I'd Say They're In The Tank, But...

...that would be offensive to organizations actually in the tank. Read this piece by CNN and just TRY to claim the media is not ridiculously biased. TRY.

On immigration, a tale of two presidents
When George W. Bush couldn't get an immigration overhaul though the Senate, he gave up. When Barack Obama couldn't get a bill through the House, he changed the rules.

Rewriting the immigration system was at the core of Bush's "compassionate conservatism" political brand and was dear to his heart.
Yeah, that's it. Bush just "gave up" whereas brave Sir Robin Barack Obama pushed on. He's not acting lawlessly, he's a courageous knight of change, bravely tilting at windmills Congress who are refusing to act on this problem.

Right. Pull the other one, it's got bells on it.

Congress isn't "refusing to act" - they're refusing to pass your ridiculous amnesty. They're doing it for a very specific reason - their constituency is telling them to do this. What proof do we have? Oh, I'd say a historic drubbing that returned the Senate to the GOP, heightened the GOP lead in the House, and turned a number of Governor's mansions - including MASSACHUSETTS, ILLINOIS, and MARYLAND - over to the GOP.

By any metric you'd care to use, the midterm elections of 2014 were a clear message: the party in charge - and make no mistake, with the White House and Senate, the Democrats were clearly in charge - wasn't getting things done to the satisfaction of the American people. So how does Barack Obama respond? He goes against all conventional wisdom and the express wishes of the party coming into power.

Yeah, that's a sign of a good leader, ignoring everything that doesn't fit into your narrow view. He's a visionary, at least according to CNN, who I'm surprised could take the kneepads off long enough to write this insane puff piece. Any wonder why people consider journalists to be slightly less trustworthy than used car salesmen or amoebas?

Apologies to amoebas; to my knowledge they have never intentionally shilled for an imperial doofus like Teleprompter Jesus.

That is all.

Friday Car Pr0n #57

I think there's only one car that could possibly have been today's pic.

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. The quintessential '57 Chevy. Well, now that I think about it, there might be one other:

1957 Chevy Nomad. Of course, the Nomad is based on the Bel Air, so it's kinda cheating. Either way, though, there's a pair of really nice cars, the likes of which we'll not see again.

I've often wondered if GM were to come out with a retro- Bel Air or Nomad, how well they'd do. The VW Beetle sold like absolute mad and reinvigorated VW's tired line; the new Camaro and Challenger have revived the muscle car with a modern twist; even the silly MINI and Fiat 500 are selling well. There's a hunger for the old styling, but with modern appurtenances and engineering.

Done right, I think they'd sell the hell out of it. Done wrong - like the Ford T-Bird, the Chevy HHR or SSR, or the Plymouth Prowler - and it could be the death knell for retro cars. Chevy's batting 1,000 on proven designs (Camaro) but 0.00 on the new/retro (HHR/SSR). I think if they came out with something on the Impala frame with a vaguely Bel Air appearance they'd sell a ton of 'em.

Time will tell, I guess, but for now I'll look at the pictures and drool...

That is all.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tech Bleg

Yesterday, when I left the house to go to work, it was 15 degrees. With a wind chill. In November. In Virginia. I was talking with a friend about heat and the upcoming winter, and not looking forward to heating bills (while contemplating raising the thermostat a degree or two), and the suggestion was made to get a programmable thermostat. We can set the temperature low during the day, and have it come up a few degrees warmer at night.

Now that the Mrs. is working a solid 9-5 M-F gig, we can investigate something like this. For years, she worked second shift or overnights, so a programmable thermostat wouldn't work for us - there was only a few hours where the house was empty. Then we had kids, and she went down to part time, so along with the off-schedule, there were one or two days during the week where someone was home all day (especially when she worked weekends, because there would be a second week day she'd be home).

So, basically, I have no idea whatsoever what's a good brand of programmable thermostat. I'm fairly confident in my skills for installation (I figure if I can install a dimmer switch without electrocuting myself, a programmable thermostat should be about the same complexity), so it comes down to brand and features. Also, never having used one, I'm figuring there will be some trial-and-error when it comes to turning the heat/air conditioning up/down.

The US DOE claims a significant savings - 5-15% of your heating bill - with a programmable unit. I find it interesting that their default temp is several degrees higher than our regular setting, and is in fact even higher than the new temp I was thinking of raising the thermostat to... It does makes sense, though - with our current lifestyle, we should be able to run the furnace at a significantly lower temperature for half the day, and bring it up as the Mrs. and I get home for just the night.

So, anyone got a recommendation for a good programmable thermostat?

That is all.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WTF Harbor Freight?

So, today is Dad G.'s birthday. He's one of those impossible-to-shop for people, because any time he sees something he wants, he buys it. When asked for gift suggestions, his response is almost always of the "a check for a million dollars" or "a yacht" variety rather than something useful. So, when he tells me that Harbor Freight just opened up close to them, the little light bulb over my head went off. Gift Card!

The first clue something wasn't right should have been when Citibank bounced the purchased, claiming potential fraud. Now, I've ordered from dozens of online retailers, some that I was particularly skeptical about, and never gotten a fraud alert (I did get a fraud alert from a soda machine in a rest area in NJ, which I found puzzling, until I read up that one of the tactics of thieves after stealing a wallet or purse is to make a small purchase on the run to see if the card is still active).

Now, I've got it set up so the alerts come in a text to my phone. I responded in the affirmative to the text and received confirmation from Citibank that the order had been released. Apparently they crossed in the ether, because the next day I get an e-mail from Harbor Freight telling me the cc authorization failed and they had canceled my order. They gave an order number and an 800 phone number, with the line "We are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week."

Apparently they didn't mean in a row...

First off, my order status according to the customer service number was "processing", not canceled. When I attempted to speak with a representative, I was informed that they were, in fact, closed. Which would be the exact opposite of being available "24 hours a day 7 days a week." I'll try again later in the day, but it's a cause for apprehension that I've been told my order is canceled, but now it's "processing," so I'm reluctant to place a second order or explore alternate birthday ideas until I have confirmation either way. And even then, I'm not 100% sure.

Great job making Comcast look competent here, Harbor Freight...

That is all.

Tipping Their Hand...

Ah. So Rand Paul is 2016's John McCain...

I'm a Liberal Democrat. I'm Voting for Rand Paul in 2016. Here Is Why.
The editor of Breitbart Unmasked, a site that I enjoy immensely and find informative, recently told me that supporting Rand Paul disqualifies a person from being labeled a progressive. My rebuttal was that he might be right. However, I also mentioned that Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia agreed with my latest Congress Blog piece. In the article, I explain why Rand Paul is correct in questioning the legality of President Obama's troop deployments. Sadly, people at UC Berkeley are more interested in protesting Bill Maher than condemning a conflict George McGovern stated weakens our country in the same manner as Vietnam. Hundreds of airstrikes, over 3,000 soldiers deployed, and a request for $5.6 billion is a war, folks.
I don't know the author of this piece from a hole in the ground, but I'm going to go ahead and call shenanigans here. I have a hard time believing this self-proclaimed "liberal democrat" is going to vote for Rand Paul over Hillary! Clinton or whatever stump the donks put up in 2016. I suspect that Rand Paul is, like John McCain in 2016, the Republican the Democrats would most like to run against, and therefore we're going to see favorable press like this from now until the nomination.

After the nomination, of course, the knives come out and the press savages Paul for being an ultra-right-wing extremist. Don't believe me? Run a Google search for "Mitt Romney Right Wing Extremist". Seriously, do it. Mitt freakin' Romney. The man who was Governor of MASSACHUSETTS, is a right wing extremist. The man who signed into law the health care bill that Barack Obama would use as the template for ObamaCare is a right wing extremist.

If HuffPo is pushing Rand Paul, be afraid. Be very afraid.

That is all.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Good Read...

Someone you might know wrote a good article over at the work place...

Which Gun for the Mrs.?
“I want a gun.”

Ahhh, the moment I’ve been waiting for. Don’t screw this up.

She said it nonchalantly, as we were watching television. Normally, she understands that important conversations are to wait until commercial break, and that she should never, ever interrupt “Longmire.” Or “The Walking Dead.” Or “Justified.” Or “Burn Notice.” Or any game involving a ball, unless it’s soccer, in which case she is welcomed to interrupt as often as possible, for as long as possible. I’m pretty sure that’s in the marriage vows somewhere.
Yeah, it's quintessential Ambulance Driver. Go, take a read. In his inimitable way, he very slyly and subtly lets you know how not to take a new shooter to the range, and especially how NOT to introduce your significant other to the shooting sports. Having been privileged to shoot with AD, I can assure you he is nothing like this in real life: he helped me get squared away on shotguns, and his instruction was both excellent and tuned to his audience.

Besides, the picture alone is worth the price of admission...

That is all.

Holy Awesomeness, Batman!

Stretch sent this in, (rightfully) figuring I might be interested...

Earliest officially licensed Batmobile for sale
The Batmobile made for the 1966 TV show from a 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car by legendary car customizer George Barris may be the one we think of as the first Batmobile, but that’s just because the TV show was such a smash hit (pow! bam!) and the car so damn cool that it became an instant icon. Its iconic status garnered it $4.62 million including buyer’s premium when it sold at auction in January of 2013, and I myself repeatedly referred to it as the first Batmobile.
No, it's not this:

It's this:

1956 Oldsmobile 88 frame and 324 CI engine, constructed in a New Hampshire garage by a local metal fabricator. It served as an ice cream delivery vehicle for a while, before being decommissioned and left to rust for 50 years. It was found last year and restored to its full Batmobile glory, and is now at auction.

Anyone got a spare $200K they want to invest?

That is all.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Around The Blogosphere...

Daddybear has a book out. I've read a good chunk of it (I got an advanced sampling that I was supposed to beta-read, but didn't get it finished in time. Mea culpa, Daddybear, mea culpa). It's good stuff. Take a read.

Borepatch is being tested for our old nemesis prostate cancer. This, folks, is why I wear a kilt for 1/12 of the year. Better testing = earlier detection = more folks surviving. I will not let this bastard claim my blogson, not as long as there's a kilt to be worn and a shred of shame to be auctioned...

Tam liked Interstellar. This is now the second person whose advice I value advocating for this movie. I may have to break down and see it in the theater. SCI-FI saw it and loved it, and advised me to see it in IMAX if possible. Fortunately, there's an IMAX theater not even 10 miles from my house.

Robb has a great observation about parenting and kids that succeed. And part of the reason that I am posting this is because I want to brag about BabyGirl G., who made high honor roll her first quarter in middle school. WTG, kiddo!

LawDog recounts Jennifer getting made - as a cop. When I first moved to VA, I was in limbo for a few months while we sold the house in MA and found a house down here. As a result, I had no CCW permit, so the only way I could carry was open carry. Only once did anyone comment, and yes, he asked if I were a cop...

I know the content has been on the lean side recently, but there's always good stuff on the blogroll!

That is all.

Two, Two, Two Days Away!

Brad_in_MA reminded me that this coming Wednesday is National Ammo Day.

National Ammo Day, started by former blogger Kim du Toit, will see its fourteenth year on Wednesday. If you've participated every year, that means Ammo Day has been responsible for adding 1,400 rounds of ammunition to your armory. Some of us, naturally, have added more: for a while, back when you could get .22LR, I made a point to get two bulk boxes (> 1,000 rounds) as a matter-of-course for ammo day. I, like Kim, believe that .22LR is a commodity, not a specialized bit of ammunition.

For the uninitiated, the deal is that on November 19th the dutiful gunnie is to go out and purchase at least 100 rounds of ammunition, ideally centerfire ammo but rimfire if money's tight (although these days, with the price of .22LR what it is, that's not as much of an issue any more). Ideally pick up 100 rounds of rifle ammo, or at least defensive pistol ammunition. Something more than plinking or casual range fodder would be great (although, really, anything is better than nothing).

Let the retailers know that we are still here, and add to the armory while you're at it!

That is all.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fixin' Stuff

So, this past weekend saw some minor home improvements as we prepare for colder weather (winter is coming!). Some additional weatherstripping around the entry doors, some insulation for the pipes in the basement; it's amazing how looking at things through a northeastern viewpoint changes the southern build...

Since we were already making a pilgrimage to the home improvement store, I grabbed some minor repair items as well. The hall half-bath commode had started making odd noises, not water hammer but unnatural sounds that heralded the replacing of internal parts. Even though replacing the fill valve is trivially easy, it involves toilets, which are naturally evil creatures, so I held my breath until the job was complete and 24 hours had passed with no leaks to declare triumph.

As I was in full-on handyman mode, I next tackled the door to the basement storage (where the reloading bench is set up and ammo is stored). It had never closed properly, so a quick realignment of the strike plate was in order. It's amazing how efficient a good whap-o-stat can be at persuading a strike plate it needs to be 1/4" lower...

It's not much, I know. Guys like og or doubletrouble or Wally who can tear stuff down to component molecules, fix what's broken, and put it all back together in a functional manner have always fascinated me. Part of it has to do with knowing my limitations - I know I get frustrated easily when things don't work as expected, and I doubt my abilities perhaps more than I should. I don't tackle what I consider complicated tasks out of fear of screwing it up, which is (I know) how you learn best.

So, with that said, how difficult is it to replace a kitchen faucet? Ours has been dripping for a while now, just enough that something needs to be done, but not enough to require immediate action. We know from our previous house that once faucets start dripping, there's little to do other than replace them (this is hard-won wisdom after replacing every single seal, washer, and o-ring in the $25 Delta faucet in the master bath in the old house...). We picked up a replacement kitchen faucet at Lowe's as a stop-gap, as at some point the kitchen is going to get an upgrade involving new counters/sink/range/etc. and there's no point spending a lot of money.

I've been going back and forth between just hiring a plumber to replace the faucet and tackling the job myself, and I'm squarely on the fence. On one hand, hiring the professional means I don't have to worry about screwing it up, and it will get done in an hour as opposed to half the weekend. Yes, it costs money, but if the job gets botched, someone else pays to fix the mistake. On the other hand, it looks *really* simple - shut off the water, unscrew the connections, remove old faucet, install new faucet. I found a guide to the process; it looks pretty simple especially considering I don't have to install shut-off valves.

Then again, don't all home-improvement nightmares start with "it looks easy; what could possibly go wrong?"

That is all.

Friday Car Pr0n #56

I think this may very well have been the "Chrysler, it seats about 20" the B-52s sang about in "Love Shack":

1971 Chrysler Imperial Lebaron.

I've always had a soft spot for the luxobarges of the early 1970s through the mid-1980s. A good friend growing up had a 1982 Oldsmobile 98 as his first car, and I can't even begin to describe the unmitigated joy of double-dating in a car with a back seat roughly the size of a NYC studio apartment. I owned an '83 Caddy that sat 6 comfortably - each with their own ashtray, no less.

I like big cars and I cannot lie.

The Imperial was Chrysler's flagship line, and from 1955 through the car's end in the 1970s it was sold as a stand-alone model. It wasn't a Chrysler Imperial, it was the Imperial Crown or LeBaron (a marque that would be revised in the 1980s as something completely different from the luxobarge). The Imperial limousines are some of the most beautiful cars out there, IMHO.

They really don't make cars like this any more, and that's a shame.

That is all.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Don't Punish The Car!

Joseph in IL sends in this clear-cut case of domestic violence... against a Corvette.

Police: Car dumped into river during divorce flap
A man going through a divorce sent the red Corvette his wife drives plunging into a river, triggering a search for a possible victim inside, police said.

Officers were called on Monday afternoon about a car in the Delaware River. A witness told them that a man had driven to the riverbank, gotten out and then let the car run into the river, police Inspector Scott Small said.
Why did it have to be a 'Vette? I guess because dumping a 1990 Camry into the drink would be a LOT less traumatic...

I'm just trying to think how on earth this moron thought he'd get away with it. What passes for a thought process there?
"Hmmm. Let me think. My wife and I are going through a messy divorce. She has a prized sports car. I'll go get it and dump it in the river. No one will ever guess it was me!"
Fortunately no one was hurt, and with any kind of luck this guy will get taken to the cleaners. I mean, that's clear-cut abuse of an icon right there.

Corvettes don't swim!

That is all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Let Us Know How That Works...

Sweet merciful Vishnu. Stupid really should be painful.

Massachusetts town weighs nation's 1st tobacco ban
The cartons of Marlboros, cans of Skoal and packs of Swisher Sweets are hard to miss stacked near the entrance of Vincent's Country Store, but maybe not for much longer: All tobacco products could become contraband if local health officials get their way.

This sleepy central Massachusetts town of 7,700 has become an improbable battleground in America's tobacco wars. On Wednesday, the Board of Health will hear public comment on a proposed regulation that could make Westminster the first municipality in the United States to ban sales of all tobacco products within town lines.
Because, you know, this is really going to stamp out smoking in a town of 7,700 residents. Now, I'm going to go out on a limb here. The town of Westminster is all of 37 square miles, about the same size as the small city next to the town I grew up in. You can drive across town in a half-hour, if there's a lot of traffic, and you traverse the long way. So, from the very center of the town you're no more than 15 minutes away from a town that *doesn't* have its head squarely inserted in its own rectum.

Any bets whether the geniuses behind this measure support marijuana legalization?

It's an awful lot like the town that banned bottled water. It's not going to stop anything. Heck, it's not going to even slow it down. Heck, the town isn't that far from New Hampshire where there's no sales tax and cigarette taxes are lower, anyways... Folks are still going to smoke. They're still going to buy their cigarettes from somewhere, only now it won't be in that town. It'll send smokers beyond the borders, decreasing revenue. Great plan, there, Westminster.

Did you stop alcohol sales, too? Because while we can debate whether or not secondhand smoke is real, dangerous, etc., there's no question that alcohol contributes to traffic fatalities and domestic abuse. Great job picking and choosing which sin to outlaw, you sanctimonious nitwits. You see, few people smoke. LOTS more drink. By banning cigarettes, you inconvenience a small number, risking nothing. By banning alcohol, you tick off most people, which is far riskier.

And make no mistake, fans of Budweiser: the nanny state has you squarely in their sights...

That is all.

Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)

A Weighty Matter

So, folks that know me on the Book of Faces saw my tribulations this past weekend. I was overdue for some re-organization on the ammo front, having accumulated enough .223 Rem. that I needed to upsize the storage box. I have a bit of an OCD problem, and keep ammo separated by caliber in different storage containers.

What? It helps keep it organized!

So, basically, I have eight 5-gallon totes and four 10-gallon totes for ammo. Calibers are sorted accordingly, with several "miscellaneous" ammo cans for the more obscure calibers (8mm, 30-30, etc.). All "main" calibers have their own tote, with the more-popular calibers (9mm, .45 ACP, etc.) in the 10-gallon buckets.

I had to replace the .45 ACP tote because, despite being labeled as "unbreakable," I had managed to break the carrying handle. Who knew, a 10-gallon tote filled with .45 ACP would be heavy? I also upsized the .223 Rem. bucket from 5- to 10- gallons thanks to some online sales (which, I feel the need to point out, can now be delivered to my home without worrying about the AG. It is *SO* nice to *NOT* see my state listed in the "cannot ship to" legalese...).

So, with two new 10-gallon totes I set out to re-organize the ammo stash. Transferring the .45 ACP was easy, but had to be done carefully to avoid breaking the new tote (the old tote was grafted into service for holding AR mags, as the empties are lighter than ammo so the busted handed wasn't a problem). Once I located all of my .223 Rem. from the various hiding spots, getting it all in one place was a good thing.

I also took a look at my "miscellaneous" ammo can, the can filled with ammo inherited from my grandfather that I hadn't sorted out:

There's .32 S&W, .38 S&W, .38-40, .44-40, .30-06 (in a Garand clip, no less; sadly there was no Garand to go with it) alongside the more common .45 ACP, .32 ACP, etc. There's a hodgepodge of various .22-caliber ammo, .22 Short, .22 Long, even some blanks.

This is one of the things I love about being a gunnie. This is my grandfather's ammo, accumulated in the decades after he settled here in the US and became immersed in the gun culture. While I'd be reluctant to shoot most of this (I might run the .380 through my Makarov, but other than that, well, I don't have a .38-40 anyways...), I have most of the guns he possessed, and I can bring them to the range pretty much whenever I want. Even though he's been gone more than 20 years, I can still hear his voice instructing me how to load a tubular magazine.

Miss you, Grampy.

That is all.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Veteran's Day
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as “the Great War.” Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.
Memorial Day commemorates the soldiers lost. Veteran's Day celebrates all who have donned the uniform of our armed forces.

I know there are many veterans represented in the blogrolls to your right. To all of you, and everyone who reads MArooned that has worn the uniform of the American soldier, I offer a simple word of thanks. You did - or are doing - a job I was not brave enough to do. I regret not having served; possibly my one true regret. 

Thank you, all. Even if you never saw a single second of combat; even if your time served was the minimum required to qualify for the GI Bill for college; it doesn't matter. Even if you never went overseas or were in any danger other than getting run over by an inattentive buddy in a Humvee. You were there. You put it on the line when many didn't.

Thank you.

That is all.