Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Zombies for the win

I forwarded Tam’s zombie target post to a handful of people so they could read both it, and the awesome comments.

Bitter Young Guy at work responded with:

Agreed…. Wow…Zombie targets are juvenile?? Let me tell you something…

Girlfriend…who has just gotten into shooting, was so tickled by her zombie target that she told her (anti-gun) girlfriend who loves zombie movies. Anti-Gun Girlfriend now wants to go to the range for fun. “Just once, to try it”.

If that’s what it takes to get “closed minded” people interested in gun safety, so be it.


Unusual holster bleg

A good friend of mine asked the following question, and since this is SO out of my realm of expertise, I thought I'd pass it on and ask y'all.

Daughter got an Airsoft pistol for Christmas and I accidentally got her a right-handed holster for it.  I like UTG holsters but am having a hard time finding one for a leftie. Granted I have only looked on and and the one she really likes is right-hand only - the UTG Special Ops Leg Holster in Army Digital Camo. I found one by Taigear but it is solid black and does not have an extra pouch for the ammo.  Any suggestions?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Troops First Foundation

"Golf Channel's Rich Lerner shares the story of how CBS Sports golf analyst David Feherty and retired advertising exec Rick Kell founded the Troops First Foundation. Troops First develops, operates and supports a group of wellness, quality of life and sports-based initiatives in support of today's military personnel."

"Going to Baghdad was like going to Belfast but with worse weather."

"What was never reported was the restraint that they show on a daily basis. The compassion they have for the people over there and the nature of the greatest good deed that the world has ever seen from one nation to another."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

I probably have the only 5-year-old who is still asleep at 10:45 on Christmas morning. Sweet Daughter was up all night. Vomit, drink Gatorade, sleep for 30 minutes, lather, rinse, repeat. She’s already mastered a key college skill of woofing into the garbage can without actually having to get out of bed. I’m so proud.

I was thinking that Mary was up all night on Christmas Eve, too. Being a parent is tough, but at least I’m not responsible for the freakin’ Son of God.

Around 5:00 this morning, whatever demon that was possessing her decided to exit her body rather abruptly at both ends. She’s been sleeping ever since. I think it’s time to check for a pulse.

Friday, December 24, 2010

I didn't expect this, either.

Sweet Daughter woke up from her nap and projectile vomiting ensued. The bedding is soaked, there is vomit on the rug and in my shoes. Poor kid.

Update: The Festivus Vomitus is occurring about every half hour. I must say the red Gatorade has added a rather nice touch to the Christmas color scheme. Maybe I'll actually be awake when Santa shows up this year.

Not what I expected on Christmas Eve

Sweet Daughter woke up this morning, her dial set at “11”. The service at the small country church we attend doesn’t even start until SD’s bedtime, and I figured it was going to be a long day. The Christmas tree nearly went to meet its maker several times this morning as a result of sheer exuberance (“But Momma, it’s Christmas EVE!!"), and so I figured that I’d take her to McDonald’s for a bite of lunch, and a chance to burn off some energy in the play area.

We were the only ones here for a while, and I sat in a puddle of sunshine, listening to Xmas music on the computer while sewing on a banyan and sipping on a milkshake courtesy of the manager (a mistake on somebody else’s order), while she ran around like a demented monkey. Well, sans the poo flinging. Now there are two more kids for her to play with and if all goes to plan, she’ll be worn out enough to nap for bit when we get home. Who knew that Christmas Eve at McDonalds could be so pleasant?

And now, I'll leave you with this bit of foolishness.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What caliber for Barbie?

Sweet Daughter and I were going through her toys today, culling out the ones she’s outgrown, or has no interest in. “My Little Pony”? Not so much. Dress-up dolls? Nope. “Get rid of them, Momma.” She likes to build things. Make crafts. Give her dirt and something to dig with, or some paper, markers, glue and scissors and she’s good for an hour or two.

So when we came to the Barbie Styling Head, it was a no brainer. “Toss it!” SD said. So I did. Then I had an epiphany. “SD”, I asked. “Would you like to see what happens if we pretend Barbie is a bad guy and we shoot it?”

Shorter Half about choked on his soda, “Are we going to JFK Barbie? If only we had a 6.5 Carcano!”

SD’s reaction was to slowly get an ear-to-ear grin. And then we told her we’d let her use the 10/22 on a rest. And she could go first, since it was her toy. I think she’s still grinning.

I’m starting to think we’re not like other families…

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More on the Norway National Guard courtesy of Shorter Half

Shorter Half has been really, really busy at work. So busy that he hasn't kept up with his blogs when he gets home. So when he sent me an e-mail with some potential blogfodder, I said "Um, I already posted that. Last week."

What I didn't know was the rest of what he included. (And yes, this is a typical communication from him.)

Number 3 Company, Norwegian Royal Guards, in Gibraltar. No. 3 Company is the drill and band company, but they all still have to meet the same standards of a crack light infantry unit that is personally responsible for the defense of Oslo, but also the day-to-day protection of the King. (A-yup, unlike most European “Guards” units, these “Guards” are still legally and factually the King’s personal bodyguards.)

The Royal Guards are formally called “His Majesty The King's Guard”, and are a battalion sized formation that are a direct and personal command of the King of Norway – regardless of what the Norwegian parliament or Prime Minister may say, and regardless of the fact that the Norwegian King is largely just a figurehead of a constitutional monarch (while the King has HUGE personal powers on paper, they have been almost exclusively read to mean the King rubberstamps whatever the elected government does), these guys answer only to him. If he told them to invade China tomorrow, off they would go, even if all alone – as long as the King took over paying their costs out of his own pocket. (This is WAY more direct control than, say Elizabeth II, has over “her” personal regiments and Guardsmen. . . )

During WWII, the battalion was single-handedly responsible for keeping Norway in the war on the Allied side. On the first day of the Invasion of Norway in April 1940, the Germans sent a crack paratrooper unit, EXTREMELY heavily armed (almost every man had an MP40 submachinegun, except the guys carrying the 10 or so belt-fed MG34 General Purpose Machine Guns, and every man DID have a sidearm and a slew of grenades.), and extensively trained for exactly this particular mission, to capture the Royal Family and Cabinet in 1940. One company of Guardsmen, with bolt action rifles and limited ammo, only two Colt M-29 water cooled machine guns (basically, the 103 lbs water cooled Browning .30, only firing the same ammo as the German MG34), and a bunch of “militia” (the local rifle club, armed with the obsolete rifles the US abandoned), stopped them butt-cold, losing only three wounded in a 90 minute firefight. Total German losses before the commander gave up and retreated are unknown, but they left two dead behind.

This was considered a critical mission by the German command – grab the Royal Family and Cabinet, and they could force an immediate surrender and effective annexation of Norway in a day or two. Instead, they occupied Norway. . . but without any support from the official government. (King Hakon VII flat out told the parliament that if they surrendered to Germany, he would abdicate. . . as he could not, even by silence, acquiesce in the surrender of Norway. Instead, the parliament voted to give ALL formal control over Norwegian government over to the King’s Council until parliament could have a regular meeting.) Meanwhile, the Norwegian Government in Exile functioned superbly throughout the war, and the people of Norway kept their morale up, even under occupation and the puppet government of Quisling.

The battalion fought in the line for the remainder of the Norwegian Campaign, and their German adversaries respectfully named them, "Die Schwarzen Teufel" ("The Black Devils” -- they apparently fought in their black regimentals, not standard field uniforms. . . given their pre-war ceremonial duties, they may not have even been issued field uniforms!), much as they named the Marines “Devil Dogs” in WWI, Scots in WWI “The Ladies From Hell”, and British paras “The Red Devils” in North Africa.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A busy weekend

Sweet Daughter and I went to Williamsburg this weekend to do some clothing fittings. Both for me to fit, and to be fit. I helped Al with reworking machine-sewn smock. I did a fitting muslin for another banyan, worked on converting a set of trousers to a pair of breeches, and picked up the materials and got fit for a waistcoat and riding jacket for a very ambitious project that I hope to have done in time for Military Through the Ages at Jamestown in March. I have a horrible head cold, so I wasn’t in the best shape. Luckily, the group of people that had assembled were all phenomenally helpful with taking SD swimming and otherwise keeping her entertained, and helping out in general. Thanks to Ruth, my wig for said riding habit outfit is mostly done, too. Much socializing took place which included wonderful food and drink. All that, and hotel I stayed at didn’t accost me with timeshare salesmen when I walked in. And the best part? It’s the same one I stayed at last October. They said they’d get rid of them, and they did.

Now, if I can get the sinuses to unclog, the general congestion to go away, and the hacking cough to stop, I might actually be able to get to work on some of this stuff.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Prayers for "Darkhorse"

Please add these Marines and their families to your prayer lists if you are so moved. These particular Marines have had it worse than most units by far.

Shorter Half sent me the following:
The young Marines in 3/5 Marines ("Darkhorse") have been taking a beating -- the psychological impact of losing so many, so fast (they only arrived in-country this October) is enormously high. The toll on their families may be even worse -- even the families of unwounded Marines have to be experiencing feelings of inevitability, that it's only a matter of time before they get the knock on the door.

I verified this with Snopes, first. The total number is actually higher than when the original request hit the Internet -- at least 19 KIA and over 50 WIA from October to now. (KIA figures are as of 6 Dec, the WIA figures are as of the end of November.) That's a lot for one battalion in two months.

The originial e-mail:

We are asking everyone to say a prayer for "Darkhorse" 3rd Battalion 5th Marines and their families. They are fighting it out in Afghanistan & they have lost 9 marines in 4 days. IT WOULD BE NICE TO SEE the message spread if more could pass it on.

Semper Fi, God Bless America and God Bless the United States Marine Corps...
Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever

Claire FitzGerald, Chaplain
Marine Corps League, Dept. of Washington

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Question about drop-legs holsters

Pros and cons, please. And for the love of all that is holy, don’t go all mall-ninja fanboi on me. I ask because after much careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that there are only two comfortable places for me to carry. Shoulder rig and drop leg. And this is why:

This is my Dad, circa 1947, give or take a year, when he was in his early thirties. See the short waist? See the long legs? Well, I inherited all that from him, plus some rather abrupt curves in vicinity of my hips from my Mom. There just isn’t any way for me to comfortably carry on a belt without something digging in, or sticking out. (And, oh do I wish I could!) And drawing? My elbows just about rest on my hips to begin with. In my aging, decrapitated state, I’d dislocate something if I had to draw in hurry. And no, purse carry won’t work for me, as I occasionally put it down -- like when I’m eating in a restaurant. That loss of control is a no-go for me.

So if anybody (Bueller?) has any pointers, I'd love to hear therm.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Norway National Guard Show

Back when I was doing the marchy-marchy, bangy-bangy thing with cannon and musket, my favorite part (besides the "blammo") was the drill and ceremony.

Who knew The Ecstasy of Gold and When Johnny Comes Marching Home worked so well together?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Happy Saint Barbara’s Day

My living history experience began (crap, has it been 18 years??) as a Royal Artillery gunner on a Rev War reproduction 3-lb. field piece. Today is the feast day of St. Barbara, patron saint of those who deal with things that go “blammo”. I no longer have the youth, vigor and figure that allowed me to masquerade as a young man and serve on a gun, but I do miss it.

St. Barbara was removed from the Calendar of Saints in 1969, but I have a St. Barbara’s medallion that lives in my range bag. Some time, when I’ve got enough people to help me drink it, I’d like to try the punch outlined here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cthulhu’s own Christmas Tree

Once upon a time, the R. family used to go select and cut down a fresh Christmas tree each December. Somewhere, there are pictures of Sweet Daughter at 3 months old sitting in her car carrier next to our intended victim harvest.

The first year she became mobile, all I had time to do was cut it down, put it up where it wasn’t accessible and throw a single strand of lights around the top 2 feet of it. We no longer had the leisure time to go hunt down and harvest the tree, and then actually get it home and decorated. So I came up with the great idea of getting a pre-lit artificial one. We’d save time! We’d save money in the long run! Shorter Half wouldn’t be allergic to the fake one! No needles to vacuum up for the next 6 months! The risk of fire would go way down! We couldn’t forget to water it! We could get one with those new-fangled LED lights and save money on our electric bill!

So I did my research, and waited for them to go on sale. I selected a lovely tree. It had realistic artificial tips. It was pre-lit in a rainbow of colors. It had those dam#ed LED lights. I got it home, put it up and found out the lights didn’t twinkle, they seethed. There was something about the blue ones (and to some extent the green and purple ones) that sucked the very soul from my body. Looking directly at them was like being in the presence of my dementor. Even the red and gold ones seemed bitter. Nothing warm and cozy and joyous about this tree – you could almost hear it hiss at you as you walked by. If Cthulhu had a Christmas tree, this was it.

So while Shorter Half is marching in a Christmas Parade tomorrow with his WWII unit, Sweet Daughter and I will be looking for a reasonably inexpensive, bright, warm and twinkly pre-lit tree. And Cthulhu’s tree can sit in storage and seethe. The only question now is all white, or multi-color?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Stuck in neutral

I had a lovely Thanksgiving. Four days of (relative) relaxation on a 150 acre farm just outside of Annapolis. (And if anyone is interested in buying it, let me know and I'll arrange for an introduction. It's on the mainland side of the Bay Bridge. Includes a 200-year-old recently renovated farm house and several new outbuildings. One of a kind property on the water.) I don’t know what it is, but since my return to the real world, I just can’t motivate to blog or anything else. Maybe it’s the short days – although I can’t complain – my office faces south and has a huge window. More likely it’s the cold. I HATE the cold. I had to spend 13 years and two weeks (not that I’m counting, or anything) in Minnesota, and I did not acclimate well. Christmas is only 3 weeks away, and my house looks like it threw up on itself, and that’s without having pulled out the decorations yet. Next weekend Sweet Daughter and I are heading to Williamsburg to meet up with a handful of people both for me to do some fittings, and to get a muslin fit (for me!) for my riding habit.

I’m thinking a hot buttered rum and turning in early tonight might not be a bad idea.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Could you repeat that, please?

So, I’m running around this morning packing for a trip to visit family this weekend when I hear Shorter Half in another part of the house yelp “What??

Apparently he was listening to the radio which was prattling on about the TSA. He stepped out of the room for a moment only to return to a voice saying “… after you finish checking the body cavity you can return the legs to their tucked position.”

I really, really hope they were talking about turkey at that point.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Family Fun

It being up near 60 degrees this afternoon, we decided to go outside and shoot the pellet guns.

There was a lot of this:

And then this:

With the Big, Bad Wolf properly perforated, it was time to move onto a more traditional target.

SD was not happy with her results. It didn't matter to her that she hit the center line, because she didn't hit the center of the target. She aimed for the center, but hit high, not once, but twice, and was quite frustrated. And when she hit outside of the circle, she insisted it wasn't her fault, she wasn't aiming there!

Here SD is earnestly explaining that she was aiming at the center and so the shot that hit outside the black must have been caused by a problem with the pistol. We explained that the pistol is a tool, and doesn't arbitrarily do that. She wasn't buying it.

You can see that SD is utterly dejected by her inability to hit dead center of the target. To try to illustrate how well she did, Shorter Half and I each took a shot at the target behind her head. Well, not while she was standing there, of course. But to show her that we can't always hit the center either. She refused to be consoled, even when we told her Miss Breda would have been impressed.
She was frustrated, and not having fun, so we decided to switch it up and gave her the option of firing my pellet rifle using a rest.

She liked it. A lot.
Still a bit high, but the important thing is that she had a good time, and stopped only because she was getting cold and it was getting dark.
Fun was had by all, and plans have been made to do it again tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Monkey see, monkey do

Sweet Daughter has strep throat, but was finally feeling well enough tonight to eat something other than ice cream. She wanted pizza from a local restaurant, but I told her we couldn’t eat in as she was still technically contagious, but we could phone the order in, run in and pick it up and eat it at home. But she had to promise not to touch anything. So far, so good.

I phoned the order in, threw on my shoulder rig, reminded SD to put shoes and socks on, and I put on my barn coat. I checked in the mirror to make sure I wasn’t printing, and SD asked what I was doing. I explained and ask if she noticed anything. I then grabed my purse and my keys and turned to find SD asking me if I could see the note paper under her jacket. She had carefully placed a folded up piece of note paper under her jacket in the same vicinity that I carry my pistol. Darned if she didn’t keep it tucked away the whole trip to pick up the pizza and back without dropping it or calling attention to it, taking it out only after we got back in the house.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

4,400 more

We're up to 6.270 stitches
Sweet Daughter came home from school early yesterday with a temperature of 103 and change. She slept all afternoon while I worked from home, and then work up promptly at 4:00 this morning. That meant I did, too. We kept her home and she was reasonably chipper, but started complaining of a sore throat around lunch time. Yay. That probably means a trip to the pediatrician tomorrow (just in case it's strep) which means she'll be exposed to even more germs.

And this is why I have so much leave on the books.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Waistcoat and breeches alterations

The breeches and waistcoat have been altered. So has the fingerprint on my needle-pushing finger, I think.

The waistcoat and breeches began looking something like this:

Note the 1750’s cut to the waistcoat, and the, um, baggy fit. Ditto for the baggy breeches.

Now, I understand that it is nigh unto impossible to buy something ready-made that is going to fit in the proper 18th-century manner. Men’s smallclothes (the waistcoat and breeches) were form fitting without being restrictive. Well, except for the seat of the breeches. Breeches were snug from the crotch to the kneeband, with the seat cut full so that one could actually sit in comfort.

Anyhow – the waistcoat was too big for the owner, so the back and sides were pinned to fit, and a new armseye drawn in. the tails in the back of the waistcoat were shortened, and squared off, instead of being flared. The front of the waistcoat was cut away at an angle, and shortened a bit. The cut-off bits of the waistcoat tails were made into new pocket flaps. There was a narrow band of fabric sewn over the neckline which was removed, and the resulting raw edges turned in. This was all done by hand, in part, to keep the cotton lining (hawk, spit!) from drooping as is often found when a garment is bag-lined. (This is basically when a garment and lining are assembled separately, then placed right sides together, edges matched up, and sewn around the outside, leaving a space to turn it all right-side-out again. This kind of lining tends to sag, especially if the outer fabric and lining are made of two different types of fabric. So as I opened up all the seams took them in, and re-sewed the lining to the seam-lines.

Side view - front has been shortened, and angled. Back has been shortened and squared off.

Front - enlarged armseyes and altered neckline.

Original pocket flap on top, new and improved version on the bottom.

The breeches … well they’re better than they were, I hope. These were also impossibly large, so I pinned the inseam until they were a bit snugger. I didn’t pin too far up, IYKWIM, but later, when I transferred the marks to the inside of the breeches, I extrapolated my sewing line up through the crotch. I took 98% of the stitching out where the kneebands were attached at the bottom of the leg, leaving the end with the buttonhole still attached. I ripped out the inseam seam, and then re-sewed it using my penciled-in line as a guide. Then I ripped out the stitching “gathers” over the kneecap. I understand that you need some extra ease over the knee area so you can bend your knee. What I don’t understand is why the gathers were over the knee on one leg, and behind the knee on the other. (Shakes head sadly) I tried to iron the wrinkles out of the fabric, and then I ran two rows of gathering stitches around the bottom of each leg opening, about ¼” and 3/4” away from the cut edge. I then drew up the slack in the gathering stitches as far as I could without actually putting gathers into the fabric. This is called “easing”. I effectively had the diameter of the leg opening as small as if it had been gathered without the unsightly wrinkles. I briefly considered hand-sewing the kneebands back on. I looked at the sheer volume of visible machine stitching on those breeches and laughed at myself. I figure that people are more likely to notice the hand stitching on the waistcoat than the breeches anyway, so I shortened the kneebands (since I had the legs were now narrower) and machine-sewed them on.
New stitching line drawn in.
The "gathers" at the bottom of the leg opening.

Leg opening with the extra fullness eased in. Those are wrinkles you see - not gathers.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What 1,870 stitches looks like

Sorry, it's just knitting, nothing gruesome.

Not much, is it?

But this gives me something to work on when my needle-pushing finger is too mangled to push a needle.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Compare and contrast

Another reason I'm glad I don't live in Californina -- asking a kid to remove an American flag from his bike "for his own safety".  The idea has me so livid I just sputter when I try to articulate it. It is infurating on countless levels.

Compare with what Sweet Daughter brought home from school yesterday:

I'm sure she wasn't the only kid in her class that got to say that her Daddy and both grandfathers were veterans (although I bet she's the only one with a grandfather who fought in WWII). I don't think telling a kid to take his American flag off his bike would go over very well here.

H/T to Alan and my Blogfather.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

One man's dedication

More here.

A Petition to allow students and faculty with CHPs to carry at ODU

From a VCDL VA-Alert:

The students at Old Dominion University have grown tired of being disarmed by the University while crime is rampant around them. A group of students dedicated to changing the University's ban on self-defense have put together an on-line petition that urges the University to allow students, faculty, and staff with CHPs to carry on campus.

The organizers want signatures of ODU students, faculty, staff AND concerned citizens from around the state:

You can go here to sign the petition.

You can go to WAVY (it's a NBC, what can I say?) to see more.

I signed it and ask Joe Huffman's Just one question.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What do these 3 things have in common?

The United States Marines

The Edmund Fitzgerald

The Colt .45 Special Army Model of 1910

And the answer is ... November 10th!

Today is the 235th anniversary of the founding of the USMC, the Edmund Fitzgerald sank 35 years ago, and 100 years ago, the Ordnance Officers’ Board began testing John M. Browning’s (PBUH) Colt .45 Special Army Model of 1910 against the Savage Arms .45 caliber Model H.

In the end, the Colt weapon proved more easily field stripped, more accurate, and more reliable, with 12 malfunctions requiring replacement of 4 components, while the Savage had 43 malfunctions requiring replacement of 13 components.

Go get your gun geek* on and read the whole thing.
* Speaking of gun geek, Shorter Half added:
Wikipedia (in case you haven't already checked it out) is here.
US Army started testing Browning (PBUH) semiauto pistols, starting with this .38ACP (NOT .380ACP!!! – the .380ACP is a later, smaller, cartridge) in 1899. By 1906, the poor performance of the (then brand new) .38 Long Colt revolvers against Muslim fanatics in the Philippines made the Army insist on going back to a .45 caliber pistol. (A typical instance occurred in 1905 and was later recounted by Col. Louis A. LaGarde: "Antonio Caspi, a prisoner on the island of Samar, P.I. attempted escape on Oct. 26, 1905. He was shot four times at close range in a hand-to-hand encounter by a .38 Colt's revolver loaded with U.S. Army regulation ammunition. He was finally stunned by a blow on the forehead from the butt end of a Springfield carbine." Col. LaGarde noted Caspi's wounds were fairly well-placed: three .38 bullets entered the chest, perforating the lungs. One passed through the body, one lodged near the back and the other lodged in subcutaneous tissue. The fourth round went though the right hand and exited through the forearm. Wikipedia, .38 Long Colt – COL LaGarde is a big name in the .45 world, and this incident is well-attributed, even if I did swipe it from Rumorpedia.)

The 1907 version was the first to do away with the original “parallel rule” operating system (swinging links at both ends of the barrel, vs, the single link at the back of the 1907, 1909, 1910, and 1911). The 1910 version was modified to give the pistol the grip angle 1911 shooters adore.

The 1910 model you illustrated was the beginning of the first really “modern” .45 we all know and love. The real difference between the two is that the 1910 Colt is a developmental version, and the Army officially adopted it in 1911, with some VERY minor suggested changes.

Trial History is here.

THREE DAYS after the 1910 test reports were written up, the Colt Special Army Model 1910 pistol was adopted by the US Army as the Model 1911 pistol.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Remember the marketing fail?

I wrote about it here.

On the Wednesday after I returned, I sent an e-mail to the manager of the hotel telling them about my concerns. Nine days later, I’d heard nothing, not even a “Hey, we got your e-mail, we’ll get back to you”, so I sent a letter to corporate along with a copy of my e-mail. A week after that letter went out, I received this e-mail from the hotel manager:

Dear Ms. Nancy R.,

I would like to first apologize for my delayed response. I'm concerned about the concierge/time-share attendant issue you experienced at our hotel during your recent visit. I'm writing to thank you for taking the time to bring this matter to my attention.

We accommodate many guests each evening, and we strive to make their stay a satisfying one. The principal goal of our hotel is to provide dependable service to all of our guests at reasonable prices. Consequently, it's disappointing to learn that you had to deal with this situation.

Please accept my sincere apology.

I want you to know that the comments and suggestions we receive from our guests are taken seriously. They tell us what we're doing right, what we're doing wrong and how we can improve. Your willingness to share your recent experience is genuinely appreciated.

Please be assured that the issues you've raised have been addressed, and the appropriate action has been taken. A local time share company leases out the seat at our hotel and provides concierge services to our guests while trying to sell their spots, however this behavior was highly unacceptable. I would like to inform you that we have stopped the time-share program with them for the time being because of this and if it is started again we will not allow any of our guests to be harassed or asked questions as you were. We take safety very seriously and I greatly appreciate your feedback.

Again, I want to thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with us.

We look forward to serving your future lodging needs.


Hotel Manager

I’m not happy that they didn’t tell me the name of the time-share company (so I could contact them as well), but all in all, I’m happy with the outcome, and will stay there again.


Shamelessly stolen from McBourne's Musings.

Because it makes me smile and cry and want to cheer at the end all at the same time.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bacon Soda

The people at Jones Soda have done it again.

"It's also good as a mixer in cocktails. Bourbon and bacon soda go together very nicely."

Also available in gift packs from the Bacon Salt guys! What a great stocking stuffer for the carnivore in your life.

A new blogger!

I’d like to introduce a new blogger, John Moseley, of Tales from Left Field.... .

He’s a living historian, and member of the Detached Hospital (among other units), former 8th grade history teacher, and all-around good guy. Don’t let the title of his blog scare you, he’s a staunch 2A supporter, too.

He also started blogging and didn’t tell anyone. I asked him, “If a blogger blogs alone in the forest and nobody reads it, is it really a blog?”

So drop on by and say “hey”. Tell him I sent you so he’ll know about the tens of people who read my blog. (Because it's really all about me. *grin*)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

More projects

I have got a crap-tonne of projects on my plate. In the past 3 weeks I’ve:

With help, made a linen workman’s cap for Al.

Made a wool bedgown for KenuckyJam, my Appleseed friend.

Re-pleated two aprons. I don’t care if I’m the only one who will notice  -- I needed to fix them.

Mended my patched brown gown where the stitching was coming out down the back.

On my plate:

Restyle and refit a 1750’s waistcoat into something more recognizable as something you’d see in the 1780’s.

Make some baggy linen breeches less baggy. I can usually do a pretty good job on fixing breeches, but I have to know you really well to do good work (meaning I’m going to have to be fiddling around up near the boys,) and that is just too fraught with potential complications …

Restyle and refit a jacket into something a little less feed sack-like.

Turn a pair of trousers into a pair of breeches.

Knit a cap for DLG (or something else if a new job means something else would be more appropriate).

Now the following don’t have to be completed until March, but still:

Make 3 linen shirts for Michael W.

Make 2 shifts and 2 gowns for Miss F.

Ditto for Sweet Daughter, who has outgrown everything she owns.

And then insanity struck. I finally got the Norah Waugh book “The Cut of Men’s Clothes 1600 – 1900”. And I saw a pattern in it for a banyan, and the book mentioned where the original was. I worked my google-fu and found it here.

And then I went traipsing around the interwebz and found this:
And it has this cute little motif:

So I informed one of the guys in our group that he really needed a banyan. I think I may have pressured him into buying the fabric so I could make it. Maybe. Just a little.

And banyan fever hit after I had decided I needed a riding habit. But not just any habit. A habit based on the regimental uniform for the Detached Hospital.

Something like this.
Mrs. Lovibond
Or this:

Lady Worsley
Or this:
Mrs. John Montresor
This means a shirt, neck stock, waistcoat, petticoat and jacket. Of all things, I actually have the epaulettes kicking around already. I’ve commissioned the hat, and have bought a wig. Which of course, means a block head of some sort for styling, and the right kind of brush, and shampoo, and …

Good heavens ... what have I gotten myself into?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Tie

I really need to watch what I say in front of people who don’t know me and my hobbies too well.

One of my many jobs is to cover the receptionist's desk while the receptionist goes to lunch each day. It's been a long time since that was my primary job duty, and I'm afraid I've lost some of the tact needed to do a good job.

An upper level manager from Not Our Division was signing a visitor out while I was covering the desk today and I noticed his tie. It had 18th century-like figures on it, and the landmarks in the background were clearly 18th century Boston.

“Nice tie!” I said.

“Good for Election Day!” he said.

“Or Boston Massacre Day!” I said, thinking of the background. Then noticing that the gentleman signing himself out may have possibly been a descendant of Crispus Attucks, I chimed in with “Or Bunker Hill Day, or Yorktown Day!” as I did not want to offend anyone.

I don’t think it worked.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I didn't win the chili cook-off, although they sold more bowls of mine that any other.

On another note, this came to me via North Carolina. Just in time for Halloween. Or Election Day. You pick.

H/T to John M.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chili update

Thanks everyone for the good advice. Since this is for a cook-off :

1. in which I have no vested interest (I’m just trying to be a team player once so I can go crawl back under my rock for the rest of the winter),

2. I was given a package of “really spicy” venison by BYG who won’t be in town to participate, and

3. I am a spice wimp and can’t really adjust the seasoning on anything “really spicy”,

4. and I have a version of the Marian Plague (I keep coughing up little green men, or blowing them out of my nose. You’re welcome.) and can’t taste anything anyway,

I decided to take a little from column A, and a little from column B, and a little from column C.

I started with an idiot-proof recipe that Michael W. e-mailed me, to wit:

1 pound of ground beef
1 can of Rotel
4 cans of beans
16 oz. jar of salsa

I took T-Bolt’s advice and added other species as well; pork, beef and veal (yes, I know veal is beef).

I added a chopped onion and some garlic while I browned the meat.

Then I browned the venison in the leftover fat from the first batch of meat. It looked and smelled a little bit like bulk sausage. I could see some seasonings had been added.

I stirred everything together in the giant crock-pot, added a can of tomato sauce and some chili powder and stirred. I then tasted the spoon. Eh. Bland. I chalked it up to my cold.

And then I tasted it.

Chromium Yellow.

I bet you didn’t know you could taste yellow, did you?

You can, and it stings.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Venison Chili Recipe Bleg

To sum up ...

The company that resides on the top floor of my office building has challenged us to a chili cook-off this Friday. Bitter Young Guy said "Too bad I won't be here on Friday. I've got some venison in the freezer that has been infused with some sort of uber-hot spicy stuff. It's so hot, the resident 'I'll eat anything spicy' guys won't go near it."

I said "Too bad! You could call it 'Bambi's Revenge!"

Yeah. BYG is donating the venison to the Cause, and I think I've been volunteered to come up with said entry. The thing is, I've never cooked with venison, and, more importantly, I don't do spicy. Seriously. the Carroll Shelby chili mix without the cayenne pepper is at the very limit of what I can tolerate, and that's only with lots of dairy to go with it. Shorter Half has volunteered to taste test, but I need a starting point. Can anyone get me started? I think I've got about a pound and a half of radioactive venison to work with.

Thanks ...

Too bad it doesn't come in bacon

This was sent to me by Bitter Young Guy at work. Soap shaped like an iPhone that smells like grilled sausages.

More soap shaped like beakers and test tubes...

Sushi soap (wasabai scented!)

Taco soap (chipotle salsa-scented)

And lots more. iPods, green eggs and ham, a Palm Pre (bourbon and coke scented), snack foods of all kinds ...

And no, FCC, this vendor wouldn't be able to pick me out of police line-up, so there.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Complete Time Suck

How good is your eye? Should you have been an engineer, or would you have been better majoring in Russian Lit? Read the directions first to see how it's scored. You time does not contribute you your score, but it is recorded so you can see if you can beat your previous score *and* time.

The Eyeball Game

It's really, really addictive.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

When I complain about hot weather events ...

... this is why.

I thought I'd take advantage of the full-length mirror in my hotel room this weekend to show you the minimum of what I wear to 18th century events.

First layer, the one against the skin is the shift. Made of linen, it hangs down to about mid shin. Underneath the shift are stockings, garters and shoes. On top of the shift are the stays. The term "corset" isn't used until later. My stays are only partially boned, lace up the front and the back, and haven't been finished -- there isn't any binding around the edges yet. Which is good as I seem to have to keep taking them in. I've also put my hair up, and have covered it with a white linen cap.
Here, I've added my under-petticoat (you'd just call it a skirt), a pair of pockets, and a neck handkerchief to fill in the neckline and protect my skin from the sun. For a formal event, my clothes would be nicer, the neckline a tad lower and much more exposed if indoors. The pockets are a separate item, and are not sewn into each petticoat.

Here is my second petticoat and my bum roll. Technically, the bum roll should be under this petticoat, but if I did that, the petticoat hem would ride up in back. When I'm fully dressed, this won't show, so shhhh, don't tell, okay?

Now I've added my work gown with the back looped up a la polonaise, and a work apron that is tucked up behind. The ideal figure at this time was a cone, topped by an inverted cone. Or to look at it another way -- the bigger I make my hips look, the smaller my waist looks. I then take what looks like a giant 14" long tongue depressor called a busk, and slide it down the front of my stays to give me a nice straight front line. (Remember that cone shape.) The busk is one reason you see women in 18th century portraits sitting with their knees apart. Trust me on this.
I'd then add a shallow-crowned straw hat tipped forward over my forehead a bit, or a black silk bonnet, depending on the weather.

And this is why I get a little cranky when the temperature tops 100 degrees.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Marketing Fail

Sweet Daughter and I traveled to Yorktown this weekend for our last event of the season. As a treat for ourselves, we stayed at a “mid-level” hotel with an indoor swimming pool. While checking in, I noticed a table at right angles to the check-in area with some brochures on it, and a gentleman talking to a couple.

After successfully checking in, SD and I turned to grab a luggage cart, and go get all of our stuff out of the car. The gentleman with the brochures jumped up, came around from behind his table, stood in front of me, and asked if I was traveling alone.

I thought, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot??” The desk clerk had done a great job not specifically mentioning what room, or even floor I was in/on, but told me where to park, what staircase to use, and handed me my key envelope upside down so nobody could see the room number written on it. Why was this guy asking me this question in a crowded lobby?

He asked again, “Is your husband traveling with you, or are you traveling alone with your daughter?”

This guy was not some roly-poly, unassuming type of guy. He probably had 6” in height on me, an athletic build, and had a rather aggressive manner.

I surprised myself a bit, and didn’t back down. “THAT’s a little bit creepy” I said just as aggressively. Somehow, I must have offended his inner salesman.*

“That’s not creepy!” he retorted.

“Are you traveling alooooooooooone? Just you and your daughter?? Yeah. THAT’S JUST A LITTLE BIT CREEPY!” I stated emphatically. I comforted myself as I pushed past him with the fact that I had 49 rounds of defensive ammunition with me.

And I thought of Breda and her comment:

“Women often can't tell the difference between being polite and being submissive. We believe we have to be accommodating to perfect strangers.”

And I was happy that while I was raised with that mindset, I seem to have gotten over it.

*I'm prety sure he was selling timeshares. And I think I need to contact the hotel to find out what company he was with and rat him out.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pumpkin picking, part 2

So, let me back up a little bit.

When I went to sign in at the school office so I could play “chaperone”, it was a few minutes before 9:00 a.m. I wasn’t paying attention to the background noise as I was trying to navigate my way through the “Why are you here?” questionnaire when the office staff suddenly stopped what there were doing, stood up, faced the corner where there was an American flag, and placed their hands over their hearts. The voice over the speaker led the school in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance! And only one of the parents needed a pointed look to join in. And then there was a rather long “Moment of Silence” following the Pledge, AND there was a sign that said “In God We Trust. Our National Motto”. I was tickled pink!

Okay. Back to the pumpkin patch.

Sweet Daughter had gone off at as near a dead run as she can manage while navigating the vines, and leaping the trenches between the raised beds.

"I'm looking for the perfect pumpkin!"
"Maybe this one? No."
While SD is carefully examing about one in every ten pumpkins in the field, the rest of the four busloads of kids all grab a pumpkin and call it a day.

FINALLY. The perfect round pumpkin.

Or not.
Finally, as the tractor returned to take us all back up the hill so we could eat lunch, an acceptable pumpkin was found. It followed the parameters that the child had to be able to carry it without help, and it had to fit in their backpack.

"It's okay, Momma. I've got it."

"Does it fit in your backpack?"


So, all is well and good. We cram ourselves back onto the wagons (this having the advantage of being so snug that nobody could have fallen off if they had tried), ride back to the picnic area, and disembark. Now, Sweet Daughter likes to jump off of things. Curbs, steps, you name it. See where this is going? I missed the jumping part, but I saw her on her back, looking surprised with her legs waving in the air as the weight of the pumpkin in her backpack pulled her off balance. She was fine, I laughed, and the other parents looked at me funny.

After they ate lunch, the kids got to go play. Since I wasn't riding back on the bus but was driving directly back to work, I went up to the teacher and told her I was leaving, and to thank her for letting me come along.

When I left, all the kids I'd had lunch with were breathing, and none were bleeding. I considered the day a success.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pumpkin picking, part 1

Today I volunteered to accompany Sweet Daughter’s kindergarten class field trip to a local pick-your-own farm.
They learned about different varieties of apples.

They sang songs.

They learned about how pumpkins grow.

And then the part they were all waiting for … the pumpkin patch!

The tractor pulled two wagons crammed with students and chaperones.

They have a goats in a pasture, complete with a "goat walk" up over the road.You can buy a handful of corn, put it in a cup, and run it up to a platform using a pulley system.

“I'm a model you know what I mean
And I do my little turn on the goatwalk
Yeah on the goatwalk on the goatwalk yeah
I do my little turn on the goatwalk”

And then ... we reach the pumpkins.

I'm unable to upload any more pictures to this post for some reason, and I've got to finish up the 2 dozen scones I'm baking, and the turkey breast I'm roasting for the weekend, so the search for the greatest pumpkim will commence tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

And your point is?

Last Saturday evening in Williamsburg, while a group of us were waiting for dinner (the site fed us on Saturday night!), Sweet Daughter was squirreling around. When she’s tired, she doesn’t get cranky, she doesn’t melt down, she doesn’t suddenly fall asleep, she turns into what we call “shark baby”. As long as she doesn’t stop moving, she figures she won’t miss anything.

She was very close to falling down and going “blammo” several times, so I finally told her “Listen. I don’t have the spray-on Neosporin (the magical topical elixir of life, as far as she is concerned) with me. If you fall down, you’re just going to have to sit there and bleed until I’m done eating and we can walk back to camp.”

And the comment from the peanut gallery? “Wow. That’s Mother-of-the-Year material right there!”


Monday, October 11, 2010

Ahhh, Williamsburg

We spent last weekend in Colonial Williamsburg at their “Prelude to Victory” event. We turned our coats and portrayed Continentals en route to Yorktown to meet up with Cornwallis.

The medical-types were ensconced in both rooms of the East Advance of the Governor’s Palace (yes, we play the Palace!) and the four of them talked non-stop both days. The weather was lovely for October. A wee bit cool at night, but the days were gorgeous, if a tad warm. The crowds were steady, but not the mobs we get in June, so that was nice, too. I scored a gown at the CW Costume Design Center yard sale that mostly fits. It needs some work and it's a bit short in the sleeve and skirt length (I know! Who'd have thought??), but it's workable. The other highlight being some tourists asking if I was a student at William and Mary. I thanked them profusely and explained that I'd graduated from college twenty-mumble years ago. They almost started to argue with me. I thought I was going to have to pull out photo ID to convince them. I was highly amused.

You didn't think I'd miss a good retractor photo opp, did you:?

Many, many photos were taken, shopping was accomplished, and good fellowship rounded out the weekend. Now, to sort through everything, wash, repack, and head off next weekend to Yorktown.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gun Pr0n

That's my kind of nail gun!

Do you think it's legal in MA or DC?