Sunday, January 30, 2011

Aim small, miss small.

I’ve been taking my Crosman pellet rifle out for a little recoil therapy in the eveninigs now that it’s not dark at 5:00. I love that I can be outside shooting less than 10 minutes after I get the urge. Being a n00b, I love that I can practice the four rules without worrying about being *that* person at the range. And in the event of a catastrophic failure of the 4 rules, it’s unlikely I’m going to do all that much damage.

So, I set up along the garage and at a range of 25 – 30 feet I can work on using those strange things called “sights”. (The closest thing I’ve got on my flintlocks is a bayonet lug. The matchlock takes a plug bayonet, so I don’t even have that.) The problem is that my Crosman has a lovely fiber optic sight that appears bigger than the thumbprint sized targets I’m aiming at so I end up having to guess at the last second. My groups at that range are averaging 1 ½” – 2” per 5 shots, but I’d really like to be able to see what I’m trying to hit.

Does anyone have any low cost suggestions?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Manchester Banyan, part 4 - collar

I using the piece I'd pinned on earlier as a pattern, I cut out another collar piece so I had two -- one for the inside and one for the outside. I also cut out some stiff interfacing to sandwich in between do the collar (hopefully) won't collapse.

The interfacing is basted to the collar, and the collar is machine sewn to the neckline.
Next, putting the right side of the two collar pieces together, I basted around the outer edges.

Then I trimmed off the excess interfacing.

Then I turned the collar right side out, and prick-stitched the outer edge.

I still have to sew down the inside, but it's getting there.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A bandolier

Thanks to Michael W., I am finally getting the last pieces together to go with my matchlock. He made this bandolier for me, and is currently working on the last 6 bottles. I need to lay in more powder and ball, and probably little more slow match. It must be my inner pyromaniac that loves holding burning match and a musket in one hand while pouring loose powder down the barrel from a wooden bottle with the other.

Then I need to practice the gazillion steps to the Caliver Drill. (I don’t have a musket rest, and my hands aren’t big enough for holding the musket and rest for the Musket Drill, which is longer, anyway.) That way if a certain blogger who has mentioned an interest in matchlocks hasn’t fired one, I’ll be ready if we ever meet.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Manchester Banyan, part 3

After setting in the sleeves, I tried to mock up a collar following the proportions of the pattern. It was awful. It didn’t stand high enough, and it appeared that the neckline had stretched out a bit. Even with pinning it together on the sides, it just didn’t sit right. And with the front turned back, it just looked … wrong.

First I basted around the neckline and took up some of the fullness like I did with the sleeves. Then I drew a new pattern, cut it out another collar and pinned it on. Not so great. I slashed it apart to get it to sit properly and he redrew another pattern.

Better, but still not great. So I grabbed a scrap and just sort of winged (wung?) it. This seemed to work a little better. A little trimming and I seemed to get a good fit.

Of course, I forgot to get pictures of it from the back and sides, but that's looking pretty good so far. (Knock wood!)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why I carry.

This past weekend, Sweet Daughterand I traveled to visit some friends, including a young lady 2 years older than SD.

At one point everyone was in our hotel room, and the other girl looked at the locks on the door and asked if they were there to keep the Bad Guys out. I said yes, and that if they didn’t keep the Bad Guy out, they’d at least slow him down enough so that I could get my pistol (pointing to my range bag) and stop him. Then I told her that, as a grownup, it was my job to keep her and SD safe from Bad Guys, and THAT was why I had a gun.

SD’s friend, who is raised in a liberal, Code White world, cocked her head to one side as a new idea entered her head.
“Sweet Daughter!” I called. “Where would you go if I yelled ‘Wolf*!’”

She looked around the room and said “The closet!”

“Behind the bed against the wall is another good choice”, I said. But, since we’re on the ground floor, we have another option. That grown-up (pointing) could open the window and get you outside while I stopped the Bad Guy.”

And I could almost see the lightbulb start to glow over the head of the other girl.

I grew up in a Code White world, and on my way over to the side of taking responsibility for my own safety, I went through this thought process.

Most good parents worth the title often proclaim that they would die to keep their kids safe. This is noble and selfless and good, but at one point I asked myself why I should die to save Sweet Daughter? Why should she spend the rest of her life without her mother? Wouldn’t it be better if the Bad Guy went down instead? I’m willing to die for my daughter, but more importantly, if one of us is going to take a permanent dirt nap, I’d prefer it not be me.

So, yes. If the threat is there, I’m willing to kill for her. And this past weekend, I found out that I was willing to extend that courtesy to other innocents as well.

* “Wolf” is our code name for Bad Guy.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Manchester Banyan, Part 2 - sleeves

I started by sewing the sleeves together by machine, and flat-felling the seams by hand with a prick-stitch. Flat-felling is where you press your seam allowance to one side, trim the bottom-most layer to about half its width and then fold the top layer over it (encasing the cut edge) and sew the folded edge down. This finishes the seam so that there aren’t any raw edges to unravel, and makes a strong seam.
Then I attached the cuffs, and prick-stitched along the top edge.
Sometimes you get really lucky and the pattern matches without you even trying.
Next, I sewed the center back seam, carefully pinning and matching the pattern first. It didn’t work very well. The fabric was slick enough to not want to stay put between the presser foot and the feed dog on the machine. So I ripped out the seam, and prick-stitched it by hand, then flat-felled the seam.  Much better.

Side seams were next, followed by the shoulder seams.
Side seam: the pattern lined up horizontally.
Then it was time to set in the sleeves. The top of the sleeves was stitched on the machine with two rows of long basting stitches. The ends of the bastiing threads were pulled up just enough to take the "slack" out of the fabric without actually causing any gathers to form.
Basting stitches in place.

Extra fullness eased out, and sleeve pinned into place.

The next step was to sew the sleeves into the body of the banyan. I did this on the machine.
This hasn't been pressed yet, but see how nicely that fits?
Next, was the collar. I cut out a trial one using the pattern as a guide line and it failed. It failed a lot, but that's a post for another day.

Monday, January 17, 2011

It's Hot Buttered Rum Day!

It's National Hot Buttered Rum Day, and to celebrate I'm sharing an 18th century receipt with you. It's not some watered-down abomination with sugar and butter "optional".  Use real maple syrup, butter, cider (NOT clear juice) and dark rum, and you have a drink that will relax a gerbil high on meth.

For one:

1 cup cider
1 Tbsp maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon butter
1/4 cup rum

For two:

2 cups cider
1/8 cup maple syrup
11/2 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup rum

For a group:

4 cups cider
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup rum

For a crowd:

8 cups cider
1 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup butter
1 quart rum

Overheard in the car

Three girls, ages 5 to 8 in the back of the car being silly and loud. Suddenly I hear Sweet Daughter pipe up with "HEY! Let's play rock, paper, scissors, shoot!!"

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Manchester Banyan, part 1

If you are really that bored, you can go here and see how I decided to start this project. Basically, I bought a book, saw a pattern, tracked down a photo of the original, found some fabric, and decided it must be made.

I started with a set of measurements from my victim. Okay, that’s not right. First, I started by washing the fabric in cold water on gentle cycle and letting it hang dry. (You only have to have one project ruined because you didn’t bother to pre-wash your fabric to learn that lesson …) Secondly, I asked for his shirt size and suit size. That is not my preferred way of doing things, but I there wasn’t any way of getting accurate measurements, and I was doing a fitting muslin anyway. So I crossed my fingers and went to work.

I found some really horrible (but cheap!!) $1/yard fabric at Wal-mart to use for my fitting muslin. I took the J.P. Ryan sleeved waistcoat pattern that I’ve worked with extensively, the scale drawing in my book, a set of calipers, a yardstick, some chalk, and went to work drawing my new pattern shapes.

I cut it all out, basted it together and found a chance to do a fitting. Unfortunately, that was the weekend of the headcold and conjunctivitis, and I did not get any pictures. I did get a pretty darn good fit, though. That is the beauty of starting with a pattern you know inside and out. The sleeves were perfect, and the back only needed a little shaping down the spine. I did end up cutting the neckline a little low, but I’m probably the only one that will notice.

Isn't this fabric hideous? That's a lavender horizontal stripe, and it has vertical stretch.

With alterations marked, I took the fitting muslin apart and figured out how to lay out all the pieces on the real fabric. This was a challenge as the banyan fabric was about 6” narrower than the fitting muslin. Luckily, we had a couple of really slow days at work during Christmas week, and one of the conference rooms wasn’t being used during lunch. I can not tell you how much easier the layout process was when I could have the whole length stretched out on one table.

Cutting one layer at a time means you can match the pattern perfectly.

 Cut one layer, match patterns, then cut the bottom layer. Perfect match, every time!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

One Year

I was sitting here last night remembering that I'd started this odd little blog enterprise sometime last January. I checked my stats, and darned, if it wasn't January 9th. I told 3 people about this thing, and I've grown to tens and tens of followers.

This is post 217. Yes, My blogfather, JayG,  probably does that many in a month but hey. He's had more practice.

I got to be an invited guest on B&B Guns -- how cool is that??

Oddly enough (to me, at least), the post that showed Sweet Daughter shooting her pellet pistol and my pellet rifle is my "greatest hit" with "For all the camouflage people" coming in second, and the Retractor post a respectable third. Thank for the linky-love everyone, or I'd still be sitting here with 3 readers. *grin*

This is the part where I'm supposed to talk about all the cool people I've met, blah blah blah, but it's true. I've never met a group of people I'd rather be associated with than y'all.

To begin my second year on the interwebz, if you've got me blog-rolled and I don't have you on my list, let me know and I'll return the favor. And to those of you that actually have me listed under "Gun Blogs", God bless your pointed little heads. *grin* I'll try to do better.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


I’ve been rather out of sorts the past few days, and Sweet Daughter has picked up on it and been responding in kind. I’ve been trying really hard to be the responsible grown-up, but I wasn’t doing as well as I would have liked. Well, today was errand day, and SD and I got up, make our shopping lists, got breakfast and got ourselves buckled into the car with only slightly foul moods and without spilling any blood. (Juice was spilled. Epically. But that way my fault and did not improve my mood.)

As we were pulling out of the driveway (both of us scowling a bit), I asked if she wanted some “rock star music”, as she calls it. She nodded in the affirmative, and “Vital Idol” started to play. We didn’t talk (and antagonize each other further) but listened for a while. After about 20 minutes, SD said “Mama? Can you put the first song on ‘repeat’?”

“What, you want ‘White Wedding’ on repeat? What’s special about that one?”

“He says ‘shotgun!’”

And with that, we fist-bumped, grinned, turned the volume up a bit and proceeded to have a much better day.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Restoring the 10th Amendment Balance

Guest post from Shorter Half (a.k.a. Geodkyt)

I think it is difficult to argue that the balance of power in the United States hasn’t gotten out of whack. Whether you’re a liberal who feels that Chimpy McBusHitler and Darth Cheney abused the system to install an Imperial Executive who ruled by fiat and ignored the law; a conservative who feels the same about almost all Democratic presidents since Comrade El Presidente for Life FDR wheeled into the Oval Office*; or a guy who spent $30,000 Rogaining himself into a Wookie birthday suit, calls dollar bills “Federal Reserve Notes” that aren’t actually “dollars”, feels that the tipping point was when Washington decided to crack down on moonshiners, and proclaims that a standing army larger than the faculty at West Point is militaristic tyranny; there is a general feeling the system is badly in need of an overhaul.

Quite a few people have discussed the idea of a Constitutional Convention to “hit the reset button” on our democratic Republic**, to restore the ideals of the Founding Fathers.

Others (less radical) have proposed simply repealing the 17th Amendment, giving the control of senatorial selection back over to the legislatures of the several states (who could, if they wish, choose to select their senators by popular vote.)

Some think we need a recall procedure or term limits on the judiciary, including the Jedis of SCOTUS.

Let’s go over these options for a minute ...

Constitutional Convention? Look, you (regardless of political leanings) almost certainly think of yourself as a reasonable, responsible person. It’s those other guys who can afford (because they have no life and plenty of rich, uninhibited, power hungry nuts just like them to underwrite their living expenses) to sit around, day in and day out, arguing for months about the shape of the table, until all the reasonable, responsible people have had to go home. So, imagine a constitution written from scratch by the most bitter, partisan, and nutball types on the opposite end of the political plane from you. A Constitutional Convention is a last resort, suitable for a post-revolutionary period, or when you realize the government you just created is completely unsuitable to your needs.

Repeal the 17th Amendment? Well, it would likely restore some of the 10th Amendment balance that’s been lost – appointed senators who do not have to stand election may well be more directly responsive to the legislature that appointed them, and look out for the perceived interests of their state rather than public opinion. Of course, this overlooks the fact that the legislature itself has to stand election. Another difficulty is it simply isn’t going to happen – 2/3rds of both houses of Congress plus 3/4ths of the states are not going to vote to strip the American people of their direct election of Senators. (In all honesty, while I am in agreement that the 17th Amendment was a mistake in that it effectively gutted the 10th Amendment, I prefer to err on the side of the ballot box.)

Term limits and/or recalls for the federal judiciary? Maybe recalls of some sort, the same procedure to recall Sotomayor can be used to recall Thomas. As for term limits, what is a judge to do when he is running up against a Constitutional limit on his career? If he’s a crappy enough judge that you don’t want him on the bench, are you really getting warm fuzzies about the thought of him looking forward at his post-judicial career and figuring he better not offend any future employers, like any Congressman turned lobbyist?

Well, I was at the local Tea Party meeting, when this little gem of an idea was announced:

The Repeal Amendment

"Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed."

Note what this proposed amendment doesn’t do –

• It doesn’t give the state legislatures the ability to create federal law.

• It doesn’t give the state legislatures the authority to override courts decisions they don’t like.

• It doesn’t alter the Constitution every time the people wish to stop something stupid.

• It doesn’t strip away any democratic procedure.

• It doesn’t allow individual states to just pretend to ignore federal laws they don’t like.

• It doesn’t permanently prevent the law from being reenacted if the people decide they prefer it after all.

• It doesn’t risk the complete reorganization of the Constitution.

• It doesn’t create an additional incentive for judges to issue biased rulings to set up his second career.

All it does it give the several states a veto. If a federal law or regulation is so abhorrent that 34 out of 50 state legislatures all reject it, chances are it was a bad idea. Since Congress can vote to reinstate the law under the usual legislative procedures if they feel the state legislatures are out of touch, all it really does is force everyone to slow down and take a second look at it.

Is it perfect? Probably not. For example, it could be worded so that the repeal would have to be overridden in the same manner as a Presidential veto ... but then, this amendment is unlike a veto as it can be used on laws already in effect, and it can be used on non-legislative regulations. I’d rather have this than risk swinging the pendulum so far over we have reduced the federal government to a shell of impotence, like the Confederate States of America, Articles of Confederation, or the Polish Parliaments of the 17th and 18th Centuries. Likewise, I wouldn’t mind being able to veto Senate confirmations or ratifications – but since confirmations and ratifications generally take effect immediately, just how long should treaties and officials such as federal judges be held vulnerable to a ex post facto veto?

For more details, I can recommend the WSJ article, The Case for a 'Repeal Amendment'.

* Well, except for Carter ... even the most rabid Dittoheaded Pajamahadeen sworn to the eternal service of Ronaldus Maximus will readily proclaim that Carter wasn’t even competent enough to function as an effective autocrat.

** Yes, the capitalization style is deliberate – North Korea is a Democratic Republic, Nancy Pelosi wants a Democratic republic – this nation is a Republic whose representatives are chosen by the people (democratic).

For those who haven't met Shorter Half

You may recognize him as commenter Geodkyt, and occasionally as Rick R. But this pretty much sums him up:

Luckily he has been taught the universal sign for "time out" where your two hands make a "T". This allows you to redirect and/or refine your question. Even Sweet Daughter has been taught this valuable trick. We joke about the time SH's little sister asked him about how the American Revolution began. I think she was looking for the whole Lexington/Concord thing. SH started with the Seven Years War.

EDIT: SH says he actually went back to the War of Spanish Succession.

Monday, January 3, 2011

And Sarah Brady weeps bitter tears

We got to ring in the New Year in North Carolina with Michael W. (and his lovely wife) from Doin' the Time Warp, and John and his daughter, "Sunshine", from Tales from Left Field. Much merriment was had, much fantastic food was consumed, and much wit was bandied about. But most importantly, we brought two new shooters into the fold -- Michael's niece and Sunshine. Go over to John's blog and read all about it. I hope I'll have pictures to add tomorrow.