Thursday, April 28, 2011

THE ROOSTER ABIDES

It's like Day 17 of Rooster Watch, and the Gift Rooster is still around. As one knowledgeable reader said in the comments, beware the gift rooster.

Rooster has not caused us any problems, and despite claims about the lack of intelligence of chickens, this Rooster is smart enough to know that my quiet bird dogs will pounce on him if he comes into our yard. One example of that and he learned his lesson.

Several of the folks I work with could be described as "farm people" or "country people" who have far greater experience with Roosters than I. They all warn about mean Roosters, and indeed, several of the ladies I work with in this group have volunteered to come dispatch the Rooster if necessary. I've politely declined their offer, simply because he's stayed out of our yard after the one lunchtime incident several weeks ago where the dogs nearly got him. Besides, he adds color to the neighborhood and I find his presence interesting.

He's ranging now around the house for several blocks. Usually I've been hearing him several blocks away, and by the time I leave for work he's usually in my neighbor's backyard under the shade tree for the heat of the day. Several of the outdoor cats kept by neighbors have made attempts to stalk the Rooster when he's in a neighboring backyard, and I'm happy to report that the cats all give up their hunting quest when they get close and realize this Rooster is rather large. 

Which is funny because the neighbor across the street does have a chicken coop with hens inside, and you would think he would be hanging around there. We found out he lives about a half-mile away and his owner has little to no interest in fetching him home. So my neighbor has kept her hens in the coop and her Rooster appears to be unaffected by the Gift Rooster's presence and roaming around.

Although his morning and afternoon crowing tends to come about 3 or 4 times a minute for several hour sessions, I still find it comforting and it reminds me of younger days spending summers at my grandmother's farm in East Texas, where of course she raised chickens and hogs and cattle.

Trying to remember some of my sweet grandmother's advisories to me so many years ago, I can remember her talking about "a mean rooster" but memory fails after that. I can recall that although I was frequently dispatched to grab a hen and either bring her to my grandmother for cooking or just to relocate them, I surely can't recall ever grabbing a rooster, and having seen some results of rooster fighting over the years, it looks like that's a good decision.

So for now, it appears we have a neighborhood Rooster. The Rooster Abides. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

IF YOU'RE IN L.A. AND LOOKING FOR GREAT MUSIC ON WEDNESDAY...

Then you should check out Greg Bendian and his latest musical project. Greg is one of my favorite drummers, and although I have not heard this band, I'm a big fan of his work with the Mahavishnu Project, a momentous undertaking of grand proportions. A band that covers albums of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, which is somewhat akin to covering Zappa albums. I know some of you might turn your nose at a "cover band", but trust me on this, I was too young to catch the Mahavishnu Orchestra when they were around and burning, but the friend I attended a Mahavishnu Project show with some years ago saw the Mahavishnu Orchestra TWICE, once with drummer Billy Cobham and then with Narada Michael Walden. I do have the albums, as well as the CD's, and my friend says it was pretty darn close, fwiw.


In any event, a portion of my regular readers who email every now and then do live in L.A., and as some readers know I visit there on a regular basis, usually several times a year. Many of the folks who visit here are pier fishermen, and they have a forum of their own as well as a group of folks who regularly go pier and surf fishing in the L.A. area, and there are TONS of places to fish in L.A. and it's surrounds. So maybe take a night off from the Santa Monica Pier and head into town to see Bendian, fellows.


I can't talk about L.A. without mentioning one of the great guitarists you can catch there in a small club. The Monday night gig to catch in L.A. is the jam at the Baked Potato in Studio City hosted by, amongst others, former Houstonian and guitar whizkid John Zeigler. You might remember JZ from Houston's THE SLASHERS and PIT BULL in the late 80's and early 90's, back when he was teaching guitar at Houston's Rockin' Robin Vintage Guitar Store. All kinds of famous musician folks that you've heard of or maybe even have in your record collection are likely to show at this Monday night extravaganza and throw down a couple of songs. Plus, if you like baked potatos with stuff baked in them, then this is the place for you!


But I digress. Bendian's band will be playing tomorrow night and here's the blurb from Kio Griffith's Angel City Arts email blast:


Angel City Arts presents



WEDNESDAY APRIL 27 2011 @ 8PM


GREGG BENDIAN'S TRIO PIANISSIMO






GREGG BENDIAN drums / percussion


DAVE WITHAM piano


JOEL HAMILTON bass


ROYAL/T


8910 WASHINGTON BLVD. CULVER CITY, CA 90232


310.559.6300


 admission: $10
Students: $5 (available at the door)






Gregg Bendian Trio Pianissimo will present an evening of progressive jazz music.




Composer/percussionist Gregg Bendian is well-known for his genre bending work with his band Interzone, and artists such as The Mahavishnu Project, The Musical Box, Ornette Coleman, Pat Metheny, Cecil Taylor, Jan Hammer, Todd Rundgren, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Roscoe Mitchell, Wadada Leo Smith, Zoot Horn Rollo, Nels Cline and many more.






Gregg Bendian's music might best be described as "chamber jazz". A fascinating blend of progressive rock, swinging melodic jazz, complex contemporary counterpoint and spontaneous improvisation, Bendian's music is full of rapidly developing twists and turns, and delightfully uplifting harmonies.






A classically trained composer and percussionist, Bendian's music reflects an innate interest in melding together diverse stylistic elements to create a unique and personal musical world. He is joined by piano virtuoso David Witham, well-known for his work with George Benson and Jeff Gauthier, and bassist extraordinaire Joel Hamilton who has performed with Phil Woods and Mothers of Invention founder Don Preston.






In this rare Los Angeles appearance, Gregg Bendian's Trio Pianissimo will perform music from their two critically acclaimed Aggregate Music releases, "Change" and "Balance", as well as some seldom heard songs by the great Thelonious Monk. Look forward to an evening of highly-charged, cutting edge jazz!








___________________________________________________________________________________________________













Friday, April 22, 2011

THE LEVER ACTION RIFLE AS A SELF DEFENSE OPTION

Like many of my other friends raised in Texas, my first "big bore" gun as a kid was a Marlin .30-30 Lever Action Rifle scoped for deer. Same with my cousins, either Winchester or Marlin. Some went the bolt action route, but I'd say that at least 75% of my friends and relatives growing up had at least one, and usually more than one lever action in .30-30 or .30-06 in the now-long-gone living room wood and glass gun cabinet.

Maybe you're old enough to remember the days when folks proudly displayed their gun collections in an ornate locked gun cabinet in their living room. The popularity of home burglaries rendered these types of displays history, and gun safes became the norm among gun owners, but I remember the days that guns were openly displayed in pretty much everyone in our neighborhood's home as well as those of friends and relatives in Houston and East, Central and West Texas. It's just the way it was and is.

So I just remember that those who occasionally hunted always had at least one lever action in the cabinet, and those serious hunters usually had an array of bolt action and lever action rifles in a variety of calibers. It was always cool to watch friends dad's cleaning their various arms and regaling us with the attributes and drawbacks of that design and caliber and so on.

The other mainstay that it seemed every gun owner in Houston had was a snubnose S & W Model 36 or Colt Detective Special/Cobra in .38 Special. Everyone had one, not only for home defense but for a sidearm when shotgun or rifle hunting.

Houston, with it being the violent type of town that's it's been since it's inception, many folks also carried guns in their cars, purses, suits and on their persons and this was absolutely tolerated amongst the law abiding by the police until the 1970's. I don't know all of the different kinds of guns that some of my friend's parents carried, but mostly they had .38 snubnoses and 4" barreled guns and older .25 and .32 autos in their car gloveboxes.

So to me, the lever action is as normal as a shotgun over the back door of the country home, which was normal for all of my kinfolk that lived in deep East Texas in the country.

The lever action, it should be pointed out, is really the gun that won the west, and not the Colt revolver. Yes, God made man and Sam Colt made them equal but battles were fought with long arms and not pistolas.

I'm aware that we have had several major wars and numerous "police actions" around the world in the intervening years where other types of rifles were used to win or fight those wars. We moved from lever actions to bolt actions to semi-auto's like the M1 and M1A and M14 to the M16 platform that we've used for the last 50 years.

And of course, what child of the 50's and 60's wouldn't want a

I was googling to try to find some sort of product that would attach to the end of the barrel tube or magazine tube of a lever action to mount a short rail for mounting a flashlight/laser combo, for I plan to acquire at some point at Rossi Ranch Hand in .357 caliber as well as a Henry Mare's Leg in .22 caliber. Both of these guns will have some sort of laser on them for point shooting, perhaps even a cheap daytime laser.

I found this thread that I link to here with some interesting discussions and links about lever actions for self defense. Below that, I copy some ballistic information contained in the thread about the velocity of a .357 from a short rifle barrel. WOW!

http://www.downrange.tv/forum/index.php?topic=4901.0

Here's a link for a show about Lever Actions for Self Defense. I haven't watched it yet. http://www.downrange.tv/shootinggallery/episode109.htm

Here's the program information:

Lever Action Self Defense



Episode #109






The lever action rife is one of the most overlooked self-defense tools out there — accurate, powerful, easy to shoot and inexpensive. Host Bane gathered together several fans of the lever gun, including Dick Williams from SureFire, Dave Biggars from XS Sights, "Tupelo Flash," host of COWBOYS, and former LEO and firearms trainer Steve Hendricks at the world-class Swanson Tactical Training Center in Utah to wring the old rifles out. [ LEARN MORE... ]


HERE'S THE THREAD CUT AND PASTE THAT ENDS UP SHOWING SOME .357 FIGURES:
BB has this for listing of normal persure 357 loads from a 18.5" lever gun.

a. Item 19A/20-180gr. Hard Cast = 1851 fps

b. Item 19B/20-170gr. JHC = 1860 fps

c. Item 19C/20-158gr. Speer Uni Core = 2153 fps---- Can you believe this?!!!

d. Item 19D/20-125gr. Speer Uni Core = 2298 fps

here is win super x 123 ga soft points ( from thier web site) 7.62x 39


Muzzle Velocity: 2355 fps

Muzzle Energy: 1509 ft. lbs.

ELECTRONIC DRUMS IN A BOX: PART ONE

This post will likely only be of interest to drummers with some electronic interests in their playing and those who do laptop recording of drums.

More than 20 years ago, I remember a late night discussion at the long gone but well-remembered Leo's Mexican Restaurant on North Shepherd in Houston after a gig,  with my good friend Smitty about how I needed drums in a box. What he meant was, we had just loaded me into a bar to do a gig that night, and then loaded my drums and hardware out. A tiring endeavor, and when you're doing a gig as a musician, it usually means 4 gear moves.

1. From place in house to car
2. from car to inside of gig
3. from gig back to car
4. from car back to house

Smitty had a vested interest as he was frequently coming to the gigs and our friendship I guess insisted that he serve as a roady for me and the rest of the band.


By having a garage, you can at least leave out the last move until the morning time, as I often did, since when gigging I might not get home until 3 or so in the morning time.

So Smitty's idea was to have drums in a box. Open the sides of the box and fold out the kit and away you go. Not a bad idea but in the late 80's, not practical and almost not possible.

Now many years later, I've been thinking on the concept and am going to try to build some drums in a box. I don't gig much anymore, particularly late at night. I never thought I would say those words, even as recent as five years ago, but it's the sad truth.

My musicial friends and I, weary of years of gigging in gin soaked venues, got into home recording many years ago. I myself first ventured into it back in the eighties when I was in law school. The past few years have catapulted home computer recording into coolness because of all the stuff now available at a low cost to record via your laptop.

Used to be, it was quite an expensive and intellectually daunting experience to jump headfirst into a serious recording program like ProTools. First you had to get the hardware to connect the instruments to your computer, then learn to operate the program and have enough disc space. Several of our recording efforts back in 2002 were done on ProTools, and while the results were sonically great as far as recording quality, it was a long road to get there.

Garageband made me and friends of mine very happy a few years ago. We can get as complicated or as simple as we want in recording songs, and although it's not quite as easy as just pushing a button and playing your instrument if you want something more than a very simple setup, it's a gadzillion times easier to use than ProTools.

So all of my music will be entering the computer recorder electronically, which eliminates microphones for drums and cymbals. Yes, there's a tradeoff in sound, because even the best sound modules are not as good or as cool as "real" drums. But I have several different sound modules and my Roland sounds pretty good after being processed through some reverb on the toms and cymbals and a compressor on the snare.

They'll be electronic drums, but I will not be carrying a large PA system. I have two Bose bookshelf speakers that I can feed from a small stereo amplifier that can be connected to the audio out on the computer or usb hub/mixer, or as Billy Ray and I have been discussing we can purchase a JAM HUB and just do it with headphones.

All of which is far far far less nerve jangling that trying to record a live band with live mics and loud amps and drums.

And what I'm thinking of is a small set that I could easily throw into the back of the car for jams with Billy Ray and for small gigs with him. I'm not looking to make the same mistake I did when I first ventured into electronic drums with the Simmons Drums in the mid-eighties.

The Simmons drums were wonderful in terms of having less stuff to carry in terms of the drums and stands themselves, but as anyone who played them found out, the wires, the effects, the mixing board and the PA system necessary to play those drums made toting them far worse than carrying regular acoustic drums if you had to tote all of your own gear.

So what I want to do this time is have a small set I could literally throw into the car and transport over the Billy Ray's or to the studio and set up quickly and hook up to a digital recording system like a laptop or a dedicated hard drive recorder and go.

The reason I'll be using electronic drums is because everything recorded now is done electronically. Once you begin thinking about bring microphones into the mix when doing home or computer recording and things get way complicated and expensive.

So I've actually got a container, a large SKB style suitcase case with wheels and a handle originally sold to tote the Roland V Drums in. I've got a large amount of rack tubing, drum stands, accessory clamps and mounts and certainly enough of all of these items to fabricate this portable drum set.

I have the drum pads I need from my Roland kit and that's both by default and design. By default, it's what I already have, and by design, it just so happens that the Roland electronic drum pads they've been selling the last 15 years are the best available to counter "cross triggering" and "cross talk", meaning when you hit one pad it doesn't set off the one next to it. Very important in the electronic drum system.

The design is the part that I have not decided on. I look to two designs that I recall from the past. First, the electronic drum kit that Terry Bozzio used with Missing Persons in the mid-1980's shortly before they broke it. It was using his own DW pads with 3 triggers on each pad, arranged in two linear rows. One for drums and one for cymbals. Bozzio fed those into some J.L. Cooper Soundchests that triggered acoustic drum samples, state of the art for the 1980's.

I found some pictures at Bozzio's site of what remains of his electronic drum set Bozzio and I'll probably get some ideas from his setup. His outfit was bigger than what I want or plan to use, but that's typically Bozzio.

The other influence was from one of Prince's early drummer, Bobby Z, in the purple rain phase of the purple one's career in the early 80's. His drummer used a 4 pad electronic set on a stand in front of him that I think used Pearl Syncussion pads. These were run through a Simmons SDSV brain and triggered various sound sources through the Linn drum, whose sound dominates all of Prince's early recordings.

Somewhere in between Bozzio's two rails of pads setup and the minimalistic setup of Prince's first drummer will be where I end up. I started going through parts last night finding various bits and pieces I'll need for this project, and I'll do another post when I make some progress on drums in a box.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

TEXAS IS ON FIRE! and A LOVE GONE WRONG SONG

It's true! We're burning like crazy here in Texas. Nearest fire to me was about 40 miles from here and dag nabbit, that's way too close. There are really bad fires burning throughout Texas, so bad and so big that like Hurricanes they've been given names. We've had two firefighters die trying to save us thus far and of course that's too many. We have firefighters from all over the nation here helping and we're lucky to be holding the status quo against the leaping wind driven flames.

SO it made me think of this love-gone-wrong-song by the late, great Johnny Cash, who wasn't a Texan but should have been.




Wednesday, April 20, 2011

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE

First I wrote here about combination rifle/shotguns COMBINATION RIFLE/SHOTGUNS and then Zach over at The Next Chapter wrote about how I allegedly inspired him to buy another combo rifle/shotgun here http://jamesazacharyjr.blogspot.com/2011/03/stevens-model-22-410-combo-gun-with.html.

Credit where credit is due. Zach inspired me to get off my duff and do something about finding a combo rifle/shotgun. I finally found one yesterday, and as soon as the deal is finalized, I write more about it. It's a Savage 24D model in .22lR/20 gauge. I am still interested in one of several calibers over a 12 gauge (.223, .30-30, .30-06, .308) but for now this will get me started. It's a good varmit gun as well as for certain small game, although I really don't hunt small game. For us, it'l be for plinking and perhaps some varmit control when that Skunk comes back.

But as for credit being due where credit is due, check out this great gun of Zach's that inspired me to think about what I wrote in the first place. I happened across it when I was surfing for information on combination rifle/shotguns. How cool is this?  http://jamesazacharyjr.blogspot.com/2009/03/springfield-armory-m6-scout.html.

Monday, April 18, 2011

OK SO THIS IS REALLY COOL

The Ruger version of the 1911. Priced MSRP at $800. Too cool.

The Firearm Blog

and

http://gunsforsale.com/ghg/2011/04/19/ruger-sr1911/

Sunday, April 17, 2011

WHERE IS THERE UNPOLLUTED TO GO AND LIVE?

I guess a word to the wise would be not to eat fish or wildlife that live near an oil well that has been hydrofracked or in the area where hydrofracking has occurred. Most likely, the only way you would know is if there was visible well activity in the area. In many parts of Texas, it's silly even to ask if there is oil or gas well activity in the area, because there will be. Certain parts of the state don't have much oil, but many parts do.

This is yet another big bummer about our environment.

It used to be that the Big Bend area of Texas was heralded as the most unpolluted area in the nation. I know it's the most off-the-grid in some locations, and in the nineties while hanging out there with Mrs. El Fisho the air was clean and tasted sweet, like air I remember from my childhood when visiting the country.  But visiting recently, a few years ago, the air was still acrid and smokey from whatever huge smoke cloud had blown into the Big Bend area and gotten trapped by the mountains. It was still nicer than the city, but it wasn't what it was.

I remember reading at the time all the who-ha about the smoke, which was really a serious problem, and there were several theories where it came from. I'm not sure I ever found out which theory prevailed, if one did. But I remember thinking at the time that there are a lot of folks living in Brewster County and thereabouts who are chemically allergic to almost all man-made substances and products and basically live in primitive adobe dwellings and dugouts to have any kind of symptom free life at all. I recall wondering how these hyper-sensitive folks made it through that crisis.

And so yesterday I was extremely dismayed to learn that oil hydrofracking, which is the injection of gallons of water, sand and unbeknowingst to me before now, chemical additives into rock to release oil and gas deposits. Read a great story here at the New York TImes  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/science/earth/17gas.html?ref=us.

The long and short of it is that Texas gets a lot of this action and has for years. These companies have been injecting all kins of nasty crap into our water tables and in some cases, have no idea what they were injecting. Many of the known materials are hazardous or carcinagens. Yipee skippee.

A congressional inquiry into hydrofracking, as said in the Times:

...also found that 14 of the nation’s most active hydraulic fracturing companies used 866 million gallons of hydraulic fracturing products — not including water. More than 650 of these products contained chemicals that are known or possible human carcinogens, regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, or are listed as hazardous air pollutants, the report said.

and the times article had this little gem about some of the chemicals used in Texas: 


Companies injected large amounts of other hazardous chemicals, including 11.4 million gallons of fluids containing at least one of the toxic or carcinogenic B.T.E.X. chemicals — benzene, toluene, xylene and ethylbenzene. The companies used the highest volume of fluids containing one or more carcinogens in Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas.

EYE OF THE ROOSTER: DAY 6


He's a hard subject to get close to in order to photograph. He sees me coming and he hauls Rooster tail, clucking about having to get moving from his shady spot. Here he is in his mid-day shady spot behind my shed but in the neighbors yard with a wood fence twixt he and my dogs.

My dogs have not barked once in six days at this strange and mysterious creature. In the meantime, they have barked at squirrels, the neighbors various cats, the dogs of the neighbors, dogs being walked down the street and several folks in a car with a boom-boom-boom stereo cruising down the street late at night. Good dogs on the last one especially.

So the Rooster has instilled something more than fear into them, and I think it is respect. They've never seen a Rooster mauling, and I caution them when messing with possums and snakes and they have no fear of a possum or snake, which is bad. So it's curious to me that this Rooster has instilled a quiet watching behavior in them and they are curious about it and watch it.

Still, the non-barking is unusual, and also the reason the Rooster has chosen neighbor Jim's backyard for it's new stomping grounds.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

THE JEEP J-10: WHY NOT MAKE ONE NOW?



In line with my previous postings about the Toyota truck that is based on a 30 year old Toyota Landcruiser FJ-60 4x4 design that you cannot buy in America but can get in many other parts of the world as a new vehicle from Toyota, it got me thinking about who could make a no nonsense 4x4 truck for the sportsman.

The last American truck that I can think of was the Jeep J-10, which was discontinued in the 1980's. It was "replaced" by a mini-truck 4x4 that didn't hold a candle to it. I had several friends that had a Jeep J-10 in the 70's, and I never appreciated them for the fine vehicle that they were until long after they had ceased to be made. Which might have been the sales problem.

But I do think in this market where every 4x4 you see nearly comes so luxurious that you don't want to take it down by the river, or deep into the Padre Island National Seashore, there are some of us who would like a a workhorse 4x4 truck like the Jeep with a solid 4x4 system and winch. The Jeep J-10 was always low profile and height, like the Landcruiser, but had great ground clearance and tremendous torque and gearing to get out of tough spots. It wasn't jacked up like Chevys and Fords were, but it went so many places that the jacked up trucks couldn't go. And the Jeep J-10 usually was the one pulling out a very stuck jacked up truck out in the middle of nowhere on the northern parts of South Padre Island.

Jeep is making like a hundred different models of the venerable Jeep Jeep, and that's great. And I've owned one and it was a dandy unless you have to drive it as your everyday transportation, and then it gets old after a few rough riding years. 

So I'd prefer a truck this time please. Put a wide J-10 sized cabin and bed on one of your serious 4x4 frames with the running gear and engine from the Jeep. Extend the frame to a wide long wheel base and give it a bit of suspension. Big V-8 engine. Six foot bed. Three bucket seats across the single cabin and the middle seat folds down with a big glove box in the back of the seat like in a Dodge truck.

The key is, make at least one version that will become a legend. Like the Z Corvette. Make 4x4 equivolent of a boy racer version of a J-10 Truck. Big engine. Not for racing but geared for getting unstuck. Serious transmission. Tires and wheels appropriate for on and off road driving.

I remember when Chevy reintroduced the Z28 in 1977 and then further in 1978. Those cars had 350 engines, a special Borg Warner 4 speed clutch and transmission, and some special wheels and tires. My 1978 Z28 had hand rolled windows and no options. Base line boy racer. What a great car that was.

That's the kind of truck Jeep could make. Sportsmen like me want to tow a boat or trailer or carry a load to the camp in the truck.  Beach fishermen, cruisers and folks who venture into all kinds of wilds like swamps and deserts and beaches and woods and mountains and rough country long for a reasonably priced vehicle that will go anywhere. But they don't want to drive a Wrangler.

Here's what a guy like me wants in a Jeep Truck. Take note Chevy and Nisson and Ford and Dodge and Toyota. I'm not looking for a truck that I could run the Baja 500 in, but almost. We want basic and we want heavy duty.

THE TOYOTA LANDCRUISER TRUCK DENIAL TO AMERICA CONTINUES

THE PICTURES SHOW VARIOUS LANDCRUISER TRUCKS CURRENTLY SOLD IN OTHER LANDS AS WELL AS A VERY HIP MODERN LANDCRUISER IN THE NEXT TO BOTTOM PHOTO AND THE VENERABLE FJ-60 BODY STYLE STILL AVAILABLE IN OTHER LANDS.
As I wrote here at LETTER TO TOYOTA: WHY CAN'T I BUY THIS TRUCK IN THE USA... back last year in May, and here as well MORE RANTS ABOUT WHY I CAN'T BUY TOYOTA LANDCRUISER PICKUP TRUCK IN AMERICA, we Americans have been denied the ability to purchase some very cool vehicles. Those of us who appreciate a rugged cool Landcruiser and can't afford or don't want the luxury SUV the Landcruiser has evolved into and yearn for the days of a great ride but with some technological advances in electronics and suspension and other areas in the past twenty + years since this vehicle has been marketed in America.

Watching the various revolutions and uprisings and battles and wars going on in the Middle East and seemingly all over Africa, one sees these Landcruiser pickup trucks and the modernized version of the Landcruiser FJ-60 5 door SUV EVERYWHERE.

So to import one of these babies you have to have all kinds of Americanization done to them for thousands and thousands of dollars and it takes months and months and federal red tape and all sorts of customs paperwork and a guy like me can't afford it.

I wonder why Toyota doesn't market a truck like this here? They make it elsewhere, and it would be relatively cheap on a large basis to modify it to fit American safety and pollution standards from the start. I mean, they already have all the parts from other vehicles, it's just a matter of adding them to the design.

A rugged truck like this has so many uses for a normal fellow who not only enjoys outdoors activities that need a 4x4 to do but one who has a missus who has projects for her man when he's not out running around. True, Toyota makes several great 4x4 trucks, but none are rugged like the Landcruiser truck.

The other trucks do have some  features that are nice, like extended cabs or double cabs and long beds on double cabs for a sporting truck. Ideally, in an ideal world for El Fisho and the thousands of Landcruiser FJ-60 afficiandos out there, would settle for even the hatchback 4 door version of the FJ-60 Landcruiser sold here in the USA until 1991.

The updated overseas versions are nice, as many of my friends who have worked or fished or hunted or trekked overseas have invariably been transported in one. I know one attorney in Austin, back in the spring of 1992 had the opportunity to buy two from a car dealer at a discounted price, new on the lot, and did so, even though he and his wife already had two of them. He simply thought it was the best car ever made and being an avid Texas Hill Country avid fisherman, appreciated his FJ-60 Landcruiser for what it was.

He kept them in the garage of his downtown office that was a former residence. He and his fly fishing wife had a brand new car waiting on them whenever their fairly new (then) Landcruisers finally wore out. I haven't seen that lawyer since then, but one day I'll run into him at a fishing store and find out how long those Cruiser's went in years and miles. I bet he still has one or more of them.

So I'm a fan of the Landcruiser, and were it not for a myriad of experiences restoring first a 1970 Mustang Mach One with a wild 351 Cleveland engine and then a 1967 Mustang Fastback, I'd probably be all in for the restoration of an old Landcruiser. The wife and I almost went for it in the late 90's, and looked at a myriad of candidates, hoping to find one mostly restored. We didn't find one and I'm glad we didn't tackle that job, because it's never ending.

So that's why I'd like a new Toyota 4x4 Landcruiser Truck based on the FJ-60 platform. Simple. Spartan. Roll down windows. No power doors. A solid engine and transmission tough enough for African wilds and South American jungles. All I ask for is a virtuous oversized Air Conditioner and cooling system from the Tundra line (Big, high output) and some real good seats and everything else I'll take without grumbling.

Another Japanese or Korean car maker could take a cue and built an old school 4x4 truck or SUV copying the Landcruiser philosophy and sell many vehicles. The current FJ Cruisers are close to being a perfect vehicle but it's hard to find the more basic models for outdoorsing. They are a bit short for fishermen like me who, for local fishing and despite my ferver for travel rods, for local fishing use one piece rods, or for using the back of the SUV cabin with back seats folded down for camping and sleeping, as I can in my SUV. 

The beauty of the FJ 60 was the larger than a 4 Runner rear cargo compartment, which when combined with folded down rear seats, was a spacious wide area that one could sleep comfortably and one could carry a ton of gear even with the back seats up in seating position. In this case, it's the width that differentiates the Landcruiser from the Tacoma.

And of course, there's that legendary, low gas milage getting 4wd system used by the FJ-60. It's all a man or woman could want in a 4wd.




Some of these manufacturers probably already sell vehicles like this, as I know one Korean car maker makes a very cool 4x4 Mini Van that is sold in Canada and is extra tough. They don't sell it here in America either, although that maker sells other cars here.

SHIMANO FISHING TACKLE: WHY CAN'T I BUY A TRIBAL TRAVEL ROD IN THE US OF A?

I've railed before about great products that SHOULD but are not available in the US of A. I've railed about guns that should be made or should be made again because they were cool guns (Walther PPK/S .22 LR, HK P7, a slim line *less than an inch* single stack Glock 9mm, the list goes on).

And occasionally, things I've railed about come to pass, although this project I write about now was not my doing. But I said I'd like having a legal handgun version of the chopped down lever action rifle called the Mare's Leg or Mare's Laig made famous by the late, great Steve McQueen in "Wanted: Dead or Alive" and I suggested that gun be made in a .22 LR version priced reasonably and lo and behold, Henry Repeating Arms will soon be out in force with this product. Any day now is the word.

As El Fishing Musicano, I am, therefore, I fish. And I've fished since even before I was making music. I began fishing steadily at the age of 7, and had been on fishing trips since I was 2 and don't remember the trips. I remember fishing at Mr. Fraizer's place in Katy and catching a first fish, and fishing the jetties and surf at Galveston at about 5 years old, and seeing a shark kill at age 5 where either a disease or a freak fast low tide trapped hundreds of sand and hammerhead baby sharks on the beach at Galveston, for miles and miles. There were police around telling folks not to touch the sharks because they thought disease responsible, but since that time other theories involved low tides because the sharks were never tested.

So as a longtime fisherman, and a longtime user of travel rods for fishing, I've discovered a Shimano product I'd like to buy. Unfortunately, the only seller is an online seller with a high price or one dealer in the UK who will ship overseas but the shipping brings the price from a quasi-reasonable amount to almost as bad as the other online seller. About $80 too high.

It's a product called the Shimano Tribal Lite S.T.C. Travel Rod. The STC stands for Shimano Tribal Concept. It sells in the far east and europe, not in America.

I know that America has to be a big market for Shimano fishing tackle. It's everywhere, and the majority of it is great stuff. I own several Shimano reels and rods in the low and medium range. So if I could buy this rod without overseas shipping, it would be just above the upper end of what I'd want to spend on what is a high end fishing rod to me.

I realize this is a cheap fishing rod compared to what some great rods sell for in the thousands, but I'm not in that market demographic.

ART IS BACK: THE BACKSIDE OF AIRSOFT ART



You can tell much better the devastation that an automatic electric airsoft gun can reek on a paper target. A shelf made of somewhat durable plastic was behind where El Fisho Jr. was shooting and several of his plastic pellets knocked some clean holes in something I would have thought airsoft wouldn't penetrate.

No biggie, it didn't hurt the shelves and it certainly was no fault of El Fisho Jr.'s but that is some power coming out of a airsoft gun. All the more reason for safety glasses/facemask and safety gear at all times, with all guns, be they airsoft, bb, pellet or a firearm.

Some of those holes are mine, and I'll have to take blame for the off target strikes in the neck area on both sides of the AK wielding attacker. I was machine gunning back and forth and well, sometimes it's hard to see where the pellets are striking on paper targets, as we were about 20 feet away or so.

Not bad shooting at t'all.

EL FISHO JR'S AIRSOFT ART


Intruders with evil intentions may want to reconsider ever visiting the El Fisho Family Ranchette, as El Fisho Jr. demonstrates his ventilation skills with an airsoft AEG all metal M14. At some distance, I might add.

I took the bottom picture at night trying to get some of the outside lights shining through the target holes but this is as good as I could get.

The top picture and the bottom picture show the AK 47 wielding attacker target, whilst the ski-masked hijacker in the middle photo fared no better and perhaps a bit worse with the AEG attack of El Fisho Jr's HK MP-5 fully stocked attack. BAM!

Even if shooting airsoft at an intruder at 400 fps or so, as you can see that most of the targets left and right eyes and left eye orbit are history as is the bridge of the nose. Shooting a stream of 400 6mm plastic bb's at 400 fps might not be a recommended self defense weapon, but I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of it.

It's art, but with an airsoft gun instead of a paintbrush.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A MAGNIFICENT FIREARM: RUGER GUNSITE SCOUT RIFLE

(Image from and used with gratitude to  http://www.downrange.tv/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/ruger-scout-rifle.jpg)


As I reached for the gun in the hand's of another customer who was holding a heretofore unseen by me Ruger Gunsite Scout M77 rifle, I could see a bit of a look in his eye that he didn't want to hand the gun to me, he didn't want to give it up. I took it, anyway, as he meekly offerred it. He grabbed at it when I handed it back to him a few minutes later. It's a powerful feeling rifle.

The Gunsite Scout exudes quality and workmanship far in excess of the $850 price I saw today. That's a decent discount off the MSRP, but not what I'd want to pay. You see, a hunting rifle like this is going to be hard to justify to the Bride. We've already gotten guns to shoot with El Fisho Jr. and we already have self-defense guns, and I'm pretty sure the Bride, as lovely and generous as she is, feels that we need no more guns, unless we are selling guns to buy more guns. Which is something that should only happen when a gun is a dud or a bad design/purchase and needs to be excised from a man's reliable gun collection.

In fact, the Bride has explicitly stated on at least one prior occasion that no more guns are needed in the household. None. Zero.

And the sad reality of it is, we don't have that many guns. Certainly not the number of guns that any of my friends or work friends would consider adequate. I'm extremely lacking in several shotgun catagories, among them a good skeet gun and an autoloading shotgun. I'd like to have a turkey gun as well, in digital camo please, with a pistol grip and a red dot sight.

And I need a gun like the Ruger M77 Gunsite Scout.

You can read an excellent review of this gun at http://www.downrange.tv/blog/ruger-introduces-new-platform-in-ruger-gunsite-scout-rifle/7914/ and his post ends with the excellent verbage which I must repeat here in bold:

As they say, beware the man with one gun, for he probably knows how to use it. Never has this been more true than with the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle, the one rifle to have if you could only have one. It is the perfect lightweight, hard-hitting, do-it-all bolt-action rifle – where rugged, reliable Ruger meets the practical, tactical.



But I digress. So on the "short list" of guns I'd like to have, and realistically, priced at a price that with some saving and doing I could actually afford in several months when you include a quality scope for the weapon.

The gun is light.  I has an interesting shape and feeling stock yet it was instantly comfortable in shooting position. The gun is well constructed and the short barrel lends itself to quick movement in short spaces. The detachable 10 round magazine is nothing short of sheer brilliance that many other gun makers should be emulating, and I'd compare it to the flip down magazine lip on the Beretta PX4 Storm Subcompact that flips down to give the little finger a perch. Very hip ideas.

The stock and finish appeared very durable, and workmanship was smooth and good fitting. I dry fired it several times, and the trigger was nice, very nice. I wouldn't need any custom work done on this gun as it's nicer than nearly any rifle I've owned or shot.

It balances well, and it feels like it weighs less than it's stated 7 pounds. The rail is close enough that a more traditional sight could be mounted, as opposed to the more forword Scout type mounts I've seen on other guns.

When you consider the Steyr Scout gun was retailing for more than 3 times what this gun goes for, although the Steyr is cool and I'd love to have one, I'll take the American made Ruger instead.

In reading some reviews about this rifle around the web, I came across some forum postings talking about what gun would you want if you could have only one rifle, in one of those "Suishi hits the fan" scenarios, what would it be. Apparently, this one survey picked the Ruger Mini-14, and then after the introduction of the Gunsite Scout, many wanted to change their vote.

This is an exciting gun that would be very fun to shoot. Now I've got to find someone I know who owns one who will let me shoot it.

ROOSTER UPDATE: DAY FOUR OF THE DON'T FEAR THE ROOSTER CHRONICLES



It's almost ten o'clock p.m. here at the El Fishing Musician Ranchette, and there have been no Rooster crows since darkness fell. According to neighbor Michelle, the rooster has been roaming around her yard and she has had to keep her chickens cooped up, cause he's a bit of a mean rooster apparently.

But a Rooster with a healthy fear of dogs because, afaik, he hasn't ventured into our yard, and certainly not when the dogs were outside, for some sort of commotion would undoubtedly have ensued. Likely a bum rush for the back door seeking shelter in the house.

Mrs. El Fisho has taken to calling him Foghorn Leghorn. And a good name that is, for he crows alot. Neighbor Michelle says that the Rooster ventured several streets away in it's roaming today, as she saw it when walking. But apparently, it likes it in Jim's backyard, behind my workshop and shed area.

I don't live in the country, by the way. Here's a picture of Foghorn Leghorn himself strutting across my neighbors large backyard, and he was strutting that strut that Bob Segar sang about so many years ago from my cell phone, and it doesn't do him justice. HE IS a handsome bird, if ever there was one, and he's a big bird. There's no scale for the bird in the shot but he's a big fella. Big enough that I don't plan to mess with him unless I have a long stick or the waterhose and high pressure nozzle in case of a dog attack.

So here he is, in all his glory.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

THE ROOSTER CRISIS: DAY THREE


Much to the dismay of my bird dogs, the Rooster is still in the area. Yesterday, he was doing 360 loops around our house and yard. He is smart enough to stay out of our yard, as my bird dogs although acting uncharacteristically cowed outweigh the Rooster many times. The family utility dog, a tiny thing, is the only dog not cowed by the bird.

Today, the bird took up residence in the shade from the foliage and oak trees behind my workshop. He's in the neighbor's yard, and Rooster and dogs are separated by a fence, but the back fence is chain link and they can clearly see him.

The front and other fences are wood, but with enough space the dogs can see outside. This morning, the Rooster was pacing in front of the wood fence that splits our back and front yard. I've watched Rooster fly/jump up and over fences and he's quite mobile. It appears for now he has taken up semi-permanent residence behind the workshop in Jim's yard, and his crowing is pretty much all day now.

I see him grubbing for worms and bugs and such in the dirt, and neighbor Jim put some water out for it. But neighbor Jim has HUGE grand-bird dogs that often visit with his kids on the weekend, and they might not be intimidated like my brave warrior dogs are.

So the Rooster crisis, as far as my dogs are concerned, continues.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

DON'T FEAR THE ROOSTER

Several of my neighbors, Michelle and Jim, very industrius types, have been yard farming for the past 6 years. Instead of a front yard, inside their front yard picket fence are all kinds of herbs and vegetables and crops. It's very nicely done, and they have all kinds of cool wrought iron furniture and decorating items that you see in the yards of expensive homes.

Michelle is a college professor, and travels the country in her off time giving lectures and such. Jim has a  day job as well. So they both work full time and don't have kids but the yard is their kid, I think.

They are likely to be out at 5 a.m. or 9 p.m. if they have to do something. They have all sorts of hoop and plastic setups to cover plants in case of a freeze. Now that there is no more freezing, the hoops remain but the plastic is gone. They put in a ton of work every day on their place.

They have a beekeeping operation in a small cabinet, and I've seen the lady on occasion in a beekeepers outfit emptying the draws of honey. I've never seen any bees around the area, and it causes me no problems.

They have a rooftop cistern system with several storage tanks for water hidden behind their garage because we all know plants and crops do much better with rainwater than from the city tap.

Several years ago, they got into the egg business but first asked if it would bother us. It doesn't. Up until recently, I'd heard a rooster but never seen it, and had never seen any of the chickens in their back yard.  They kept it out of sight. And it was cool to hear the rooster's crow in the morning.

Apparently, the rooster has escaped, and now taken up residence in the yard behnd our home. And our bird dogs are not happy. Although these bird dog mutts that we have will chase squirrels, possums, armadillos, snakes, lizards and other creatures, they are petrified of this rooster.

They don't bark. They get as far back in our yard as possible where they can see the chicken through the picket fence and visibly cringe every time the rooster crows.

They fear the rooster.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

ANOTHER NO COMBINATION SHOTGUN/RIFLE WEEKEND

I had the opportunity to visit several stores that sell guns as well as an actual real gun shop, a good sized one with fairly excellent prices. In fact, some of the best prices I've seen in Texas in a long time not at a gun show. So El Fisho Jr. and I spent about an hour inside this large gun shop browsing then visited a Gander Mountain and an Academy Sporting Goods store. Although I bought some fishing stuff years ago from GM, I've never taken the time to visit one of their stores, preferrring Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops. GM had a decent selection of both handguns and sporting arms and even tactical arms, and a few good prices.

Academy has some good prices and some selection but this particular store had a lot of empty spaces on the racks. Academy generally has good handgun pricing but suffers from the Wal Mart deal of having the same exact handgun stock in every store, which is great if you want a Glock 9mm or 40 or a Taurus Judge or Public Defender and so on. The same old tired stock of guns. Very tired. They need new handgun buyers.

So I have seen some combo shotgun/rifles so I know they exist. It's just a matter of stumbling upon the right dealer of used weapons who has one or more in their stock and who has them quasi-reasonably priced.

REMEMBERING DIRECTOR SIDNEY LUMET

The NY Times has a great review of the career of Signey Lumet, director of such great film classics as 12 Angry Men, Serpico, Network, Prince of the City, The Pawnbroker, The Wiz and Dog Day Afternoon, amongst many others. His work in 12 Angry Men and Serpico were particularly compelling to me as a young man.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/10/movies/sidney-lumet-director-of-american-classics-dies-at-86.html?hp

Serpico was one of those stories that captured my interest right away. No matter how many times I see that movie, the real life scene where Frank Serpico is abandoned by his fellow officers and gets stuck doing an entry and gets shot in the face always makes me cringe, and I've seen the movie several times in the last 35 years as well as having read the book by Peter Maas several times.

I always admired Serpico as an honorable cop. He didn't deserve what happened to him in any number of scenarios, and I hope he's found peace in his life.

There aren't movie makers like Mr. Lumet anymore. Too bad. Rest in peace, Mr. Lumet and thanks for the films that made us think and perhaps gave a few people insights into their conscience that they didn't have before they watched one of your films.

Friday, April 8, 2011

THE SMITH AND WESSON PRO SERIES MODEL 60 .357 MAGNUM 3" BARREL


I mentioned a great post the other day talking about the manly art of shooting the Smith and Wesson Model 360PD, a 12 ounce .357 magnum snubnose revolver. It's a handful with real magnum ammo, and in my preference not a bit pleasant to shoot with anything but low power 38 Specials.

I must agree with my friend Max about shooting .357 Magnums, which is that it needs to be a gun made of steel. Not steel and _______, but steel period.

So last night in searching the web looking for a so-called *reasonably priced* Colt Python, I came across this creation that I had not previously seen. And of course, it caught my eye.

A five shot, unloaded at 24 ounces of stainless steel. So you have the thin j frame profile with a 3" barrel. Just the perfect mix between concealment and performance. To me, this is an ideal .357 for concealed carry.

Here's the product information page on this gun:

http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product4_750001_750051_765954_-1_757775_757751_757751_ProductDisplayErrorView_Y

In colder climes, I would favor the six shot Model 13 with the 3" bull barrel, but the K frame does not lend itself to ready concealment most of the year in Texas. Rather, the Model 60 will conceal in a simple IWB holster like the Bianchi Model 6 quite well. Throw some curved Pachmayr Compac grips on the gun and it would conceal even better in an IWB holster.

The regular Model 60 didn't do anything for me. I like for the ejector rod to be shrouded and that's a big feature on this Pro Series Model 60.

The barrel design is unique but is common to some of the Custom Shop and Performance Center guns coming out of Smith and Wesson right now. The grips are unique and I don't recall seeing that design before. I like it, and it seems like it would fit my hand well based on the scale of the grips to the gun. I'll have to try them and see.

I don't like the adjustable sights they threw on this gun. What is a worthy combat revolver off the shelf goes down several notches with the standard adjustable snag all sights. On several Custom K frame guns in the recent past, Smith and Wesson put the $60 Cylinder and Slide Novak-like adjustable sight replacement for the K frame. Surely this sight could be adapted to this gun. In any event, this gun cries out to be carried for self defense, but holster choice will be crucial so that the sights are covered and not boring a hole in your side or snagging your shirt. 

GLOCK NEEDS A SLIM 9MM

I've said it before, as have many others: Glock needs to build a slim 9mm that is less than one inch thick and about the same size as the Glock 19. And I'm not the only one saying it.

Go here to  Glock: Empire in Decline and to Glock: Empire in Decline, Part II and read these two excellent posts by Richard at Guns, Holsters and Gear. That blog is to the right in my blogroll so it's easy to find.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

GUN QUESTIONS ABOUT SKEET, TRAP AND BLACKPOWDER GUNS

I'm no gun expert, but I have been a gun enthusiast since my single digit years. Since that time, I've read quite a lot about different guns and shooting related sports and participated in many different types of shooting activities. But I've not done much skeet or trap shooting and I've only owned one blackpowder gun, a revolver. I've never owned a skeet or trap gun, and I'm not entirely clear what kinds of guns are suited for these sports.

The reason this is germane is because El Fisho Jr. and I are joining a local shooting club. It's about 20 miles away but has very nice facilities with plenty of different ranges and full access during the daytime. Every weekend, they have a different program for target, skeet, black powder, tactical, practical competitions, various types of western weapon shooting and many different kinds of youth programs.

So I'll be wanting to get at least a blackpowder rifle and some sort of shotgun suitable for skeet shooting, probably a 20 gauge so El Fisho Jr. and I can share it at the start. I know so little about the sport that I'll have to do some googling and reading about the various types of skeet and trap shooting and the guns that are used.

It's not very expensive to join this club, particularly considering what facilities they have. I've talked to several members and they say the place is often uncrowded and that even when it's busy that it's still less crowded than any commercial indoor or outdoor range. Considering the average amount we spend in shooting range fees (not ammo), we'd pay for the year membership and initation fees with what we'd spend in 6 visits to the shooting range.

So I know some of you gun gurus know about a good and reasonably priced blackpowder rifle to take up shooting with, as well as  some information on what kinds of guns are good for skeet shooting. I realize I could and will just google the skeet and blackpowder subject, but I'm interested in the gun gurus and their opinions.

Thanks!

A much nicer picture of Eman Al-Obeidy


Picture is from the Anderson Cooper 360 website. I link to their article here http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/04/07/libya.rape.case/index.html at Anderson Cooper's website because thank the Lord that someone in his capacity has the tenacity and humanity to try to help this woman. Hopefully, Mr. Cooper could help negotiate her release and transit to a safe haven for Ms. Al-Obeidy, her family and fellow victims and their families. Someplace they can feel safe, which cannot be underestimated in importance in the life of a recent sexual assault victim. In fact, how could any healing or peace or any kind of positive thing happen at all when you're in fear for your very life 24/7. No place to run and no place to hide. No way to fade into obscurity when all kinds of government spies are watching you.

UPDATE: HERE'S A LINK TO THE INTERVIEW WITH NIC ROBINSON AT CNN WITH EMAN:

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/07/video-interview-with-woman-who-claims-she-was-raped-by-qaddafi-forces/


Again, let's hope and indeed, pray that Mr. Cooper transforms his link in this matter into some kind of humanitarian effort. I couldn't do it, and neither could you, but someone like Mr. Cooper could surely convince the son that it was in their best interest to do so, and would be portrayed as a humanitarian act by Mr. Cooper if it happens now. CNN flies in a plane, the rescued folks get on and fly to safety. One big happy ending for that group of folks who really need a happy ending in their lives. Give them alien resident status and fund them and give them work permits and help them find jobs and get them a place to live and think about it...we can't save the whole world, but every once in a while it's cool to save who you can.

I'd want somebody to save me if I were Eman. She and her family have asked for our help. Let's give it to her, America.

And a word to Eman and her family and friends. Many folks I know work as police officers and prosecutors and social workers assisting sexual assault victims. Of course, this horror was torture as much as a crime, and people in these fields who work with violent crime victims every day have been discussing your bravery and their admiration for you as a hero and a violent crime survivor. Indeed, that's why I written several posts about you and your bravery. You'll do fine and you'll get better, and I have a feeling you're about to change many lives for the better. For what it's worth.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A FISHING SAILBOAT CABIN

As I've written before, I was fortunate growing up to have a friend whose dad was into yacht racing and had a 27 foot Catalina at a Yacht Club on East Galveston Bay, as well as several Sunfish sailboats. I spent many days and nights aboard that boat and others sailing and spending star filled nights on the water. Back then, East Galveston Bay around Shore Acres didn't stink like it seems to now. I could still catch specks and reds on most days from the seawall that surrounded the Yacht harbor, and many days the East Bay water was that clear, green color that one often has to move quite a ways south of the Galveston Bay Complex to encounter.

I'm very poor as a sailing captain of any kind of large craft, but I used to do fairly well with the Sunfish. Except for that one time I pitched Billy Ray into Clear Lake headfirst and stuck the mast of the rental boat about two feet into the black petrochemical-looking muck that lay on the bottom of Clear Lake some 27 years ago.

But I really like the interior and exterior layout of the sailboats in the twenty foot range, and I'm most familiar with the 25' and 27' Catalinas and Hunters. There is a lot of interior room on these boats, complete with head and range and fridge.  The last one of these boats I crewed on had a Honda generator that was mounted into a cutout on the back of the boat and let me tell you that having the juice to power a small window unit makes all the difference during a Texas summer when it comes to boat sleeping and camping.

I call it camping because it is like camping, albeit more akin to trailer/rv camping then roiling in the dirt tent camping. With a sailboat in the bay, you simply find a quiet cove or spot out of the channels and lanes of traffic and display some lights so that no one inadvertantly hits you. We'd often be out near, but not close to, the Intercoastal Canal or the Houston Ship Channel. You could see a million stars.

I had a great time fishing at these anchorages and have written of the benefits of having a compact travel rod that would stow in my personal duffle when not in use. Back then, the only travel rod made and sold in Texas was the Zebco travel rod, and I replaced the Zebco 33 with a Abu Garcia 290 for saltwater bay fishing.

So it's been 20 years since I've done any crewing on a sailboat, the last one being a Catalina 25, just a slightly scaled down but otherwise identical version of the Catalina 27 I spent 10 years sailing on. As I said, the Catalina 25 had an AC and a generator as well as a hang-over-the-side-BBQ-Pit and a lot of interior room.

So the idea occurred to me that this would be an ideal inexpensive cabin for El Fisho Jr. and I, and of course, Mrs. El Fisho if she would join us. She doesn't care much for tent camping, but will do RV and trailer camping, so it's an idea.

I've seen screaming deals on supposedly seaworthy boats in the 25' and 27' range. I saw one recently sell for a little over $3k with a new ac, outboard motor, generator, sails, etc.

My idea is not to embark on a life of sailing, although I wouldn't be above occasionally flying a jib (rather than the main) and doing a little sailing. No, I'm El Fishing Musician. I want to fish, and play some guitar and relax with the waves 'neath the bow and the wind playing chimes on the sail ropes and mast cables.

My idea of an affordable weekend getaway would be a nice 27' boat moored at a marina at a constant level lake (Canyon comes to mind readily) with as big as an outboard motor as could be fitted to the boat with a steering wheel and throttle installed in the cockpit.

So you say, but El Fisho, why not get a cuddy cabin boat, a real motor boat, if you want to motor around?

And I can answer that question. First, you need a lot smaller, and thus, lot less expensive motor to move a 27' sailboat vs. a like-sized powerboat. The sailboat won't move near as fast as the motor boat, but it'll go plenty fast for finding a quiet cove to weigh anchor in and do some fishing and relaxing.

I envision something looking more like a trawler in the far east than a sailboat. They make a shade system for large sailboats that involves draping a canopy over the boom and then using ropes and the boats winches to hold it tight. It makes for a nice shady cockpit area while on the water, and I envision an extended one built onto some sort of carbon fiber tube rack that would also support a 10' lightweight foam dingy or several kayaks for excursion travel.

I don't know what slip rates are nowadays. I suspect they are a lot more than I think they are, but I'm going to do some checking. Another alternative is keeping the boat dry stored at a marina. The procedure is that you call before you go down there and when you get there they have taken the crane and picked up your boat and it's in the water dockside awaiting your arrival. Theoretically.

I've also seen some ads on craigslist lately with folks looking to rent out their houseboats and sailboats. This would be a good way to check out this unique kind of camping, and if you're like me, it's the only kind of camping that the Mrs. and I may likely agree on.

I don't mind trailer or RV camping in a secluded locale, but I abhor RV and trailer parks. It's just too much like real life, like living in a subdivision or apartment, and I'll take an RV on the beach over a five-star RV park any day of the week.

The water has always been calming to me. With a reasonably priced used but seaworthy boat, in a nice freshwater lake with a fish population within a reasonable weekend driving distance, it'd be a nice weekend getaway for a fairly affordable amount.

A NEW FAVORITE: GALCO COMBAT MASTER BELT HOLSTER

I like the quality of Galco leather products. To me, it reminds of the glory days of Bianchi, which remains one of my favorite holster brands. At any given time, you are as likely to find me wearing a Bianchi design from the 70's or 80's as you are to find me wearing a Galco or custom holster.

I have two of these holsters, both gotten for way below half price on ebay. The first one was for a Colt D frame, for the Colt Cobra/Detective Special/Agent 3rd generation snubnose revolver. It carries my Cobra excellently. It carries a bit higher than most belt holsters but the design is such that the leather is fairly thin, allowing for better concealment with no excess leather, and it actually supports the weapon very well and very firmly despite the relative thin leather and the lack of reinforcing leather. This holster is in brown and was and is mint.

After using the first Combat Master holster and liking it a whole bunch, I got another deal on one for my Glocks. It carries both the Glock 36 and the Glock 19 and like the revolver model, it carries the gun higher than most belt holsters but due to the nature of the full coverage of the holster, it holds it quite securely.

It is very easy to holster a weapon while wearing this holster, which is rare for a holster with no reinforcing lip. It wears easily and very comfortably and seems to breath pretty well. Some holsters carry heat buildup under them, I don't know why, but I've not had that issue with this holster, and trust me, in Texas I've worn this holster under the heat of the sun on many occasions.

Under the right polo shirt, I can conceal my Colt D frame snubnose with this holster, and that's rare for a belt holster not to protrude so much as to print under any kind of shirt. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't offer the concealment of a IWB holster like the High Noon Mr. Softy or the Bianchi Model 6 IWB, but for a belt holster it's pretty damn impressive how much this holster can hide my Glock 19 under a shirt that is normal sized and not huge.

Over the last 30 years of regular gun toting, I've found that there are a whole lot of poor holsters, many good holsters and just a few outstanding ones. The outstanding ones are the ones that you should keep close, like a good friend, for they won't let you down.

Galco quality is excellent. I've never seen a Galco product, and I've owned numerous Galco holsters going back nearly thirty years to my first Jackass Leather Products horizontal shoulder holster for my Colt Python. I don't care much for some of their items, but for the designs I do like, you can't do any better than Galco. Literally, I feel you are getting custom quality for a non-custom price, and that's always a great deal.

The only complaint I have with the Combat Master is that the belt loops could be smaller. At most, a holster like this designed for concealed carry should have 1 3/4" belt loops, not 2" or 2 1/2". When cinched, the holster is steady and doesn't move, but that's because I wear a reinforced 1 1/2" gunbelt with it and not a regular dress belt. There can be some movement in the belt slots with the heavier Glock. I'm seriously considering sewing part of the belt slot shut with a plug and heavy thread on at least the Glock Combat Master, because I do have non-gun belts that are sturdy enough to support this holster and a gun and that are not quite the ordeal to wear with leisure clothing that a gunbelt/dressbelt is.

 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Iman Al-Obeidi UPDATE

It's day 10 since Iman became known to the world for standing up to torture and rape by some of Libya's finest. I'm not sure exactly what the proper spelling of her name is, nor of many other details as the media has reported her name and many other facts like her age and exact occupation variously. She's somewhere between 26 and 29 and either a law school graduate interning in a Tripoli firm or is going to law school. So if I'm writing her name incorrectly, I apologize. Let me know if you know the correct spelling for sure. I spelled it Eman here WHERE IS EMAN AL OBEIDI? in a previous post, as it is mostly spelled in the Middle Eastern and African news media. But the most prevalent version is Iman, so I'm going with that until I find out different. Such details are unimportant really, in the context of what is going on. I hope that some human rights or sexual assault survivors organization can reach this woman quickly and extricate her and her family to some neutral ground and safe haven where Iman and Apparently, she is alive. Anderson Cooper did a audio interview with her yesterday and although she is neither safe nor sound at this time, she was then not in custody. She detailed that she had tried to flee to Tunesia and was caught and taken back to Tripoli. She is being watched by some security apparatus like the police or military, and apparently has been detained on several occasions and taken to the police station who will not place her in jail because she has committed no crime. She sent a message that she and her people are not radical Islamists and that they just want the same freedoms and rights that we as Americans enjoy in their country. Some kind of self-determination. Who can blame them? I'm so impressed by this woman that if I were rich and had the means to do so, someone like I imagine Ariana Huffington or Donald Trump to be, I'd commission a legal if not surreptitious effect to get her and her family out of Libya and into America. The details of how to do so aside, I hope that someone somewhere can give this lady a safe haven soon.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

WHY NO .380 ACP SNAKESHOT?

I ponder this question now because several months ago I became the owner of a Kel Tec P3AT, a fine little pistol, for what it is. I've enjoyed shooting it, and it's only jammed once. Which I think is not unusual for a pistol of that size or design. It is what it is, and that's a last ditch backup gun or very hot weather concealed weapon. It jammed up on the second magazine about the 3rd round. It cleared quickly and easily and I was able to finish the magazine. I was extremely pleased with the accuracy at ten feet, and frankly the recoil was much lighter than I expected. I did put a finger loop bottom on the magazines, so the the bottom of the ring finger has a perch. Other than that one ejection jam, there have been no other issues with this 11 oz. loaded wonder in about 200 rounds. Which brings to mind, it's the perfect gun for hot weather fishing. A snake gun. I just need some snakeshot. And after googling far and wide, reading forum posts at various gun forums and such, it seems that no one makes snakeshot in .380. Which is surprising to me because I've always thought of .380 by it's more German name as it was known often in the 70's, 9mm Kurtz, meaning I think, 9mm short. So looking at the cartridge and having owned several .380 autos like the Walther PPK and a Beretta double action 13 shot number, there's no mechanical reason I can think of that a .380 wouldn't feed a shell like the CCI shotshells made for 9mm and .45 ACP. The P3AT would be an even better gun to slip into the pocket of the fishing vest than the S&W Bodyguard Airweight Model 38, taking up about half the room and weighing lots less. If only it could hold a few rounds of snakeshot. I'm a good shot, but I'm not the eagle eyed shot that Governor Perry is with his laser sighted Ruger LCP. I prefer to do my snake shooting with some kind of shotshell, but have on many occasions used a bullet when that was what I had handy. Still, I wonder if there is someone out there who could custom load me a box of snakeshot for a reasonable price? I'm no reloader, but it seems feasible to my mind, particularly if designed like the CCI shotshells for smooth feeding. One other note about the Kel Tec. It'd be cool if this pistol, the P32 or the P3AT, was available in .22 LR as a parkerized tackle box gun. With a laser, it'd be a great cheap durable gun. The "Kit Gun of the new generation."

Saturday, April 2, 2011

THE GLOCK MANIFESTO PART TWO

So to sum up my previous post which was composed of one long paragraph, a problem that I hope does not repeat here, I recently became enamored with the Glock Model 19 Compact 19mm handgun. It is SO accurate and forgiving and SO fun and easy to shoot, even with high-performance Cor Bon ammo, that laughing and smiling is an inescapable part of the equation of shooting the G19. El Fisho Jr., for the past six months, has been shooting the heck out of the like weight Beretta PX4 Subcompact, but only with ball ammo. El Fisho Jr. found some of the hi-po 9mm ammo to be a bit biting for his liking with the Beretta, but finds the same hi-po ammo "amusing to shoot" and "scary accurate" in the G19. I'll note that the G19 is considerably a considerably quieter gun to shoot than the Beretta. So the Glock 19 has become the primary carry gun for the past few months. It is not as easy to conceal as the Glock 36, but I see a compromise as a solution. I recently shot a Glock Model 26, you see, and with the Pearce grip extender, it has about exactly the same perch as the Glock 36 and is just as concealable as the G36. Hmmmmmmmm....

THE GLOCK MANIFESTO PART ONE

NOTE: FOR THE LIFE OF ME I CANNOT GET PARAGRAPHS TO HAPPEN IN THIS POST. SORRY AND I'LL CONTINUE IN ANOTHER POST WHERE HOPEFULLY I CAN MAKE IT WORK BETTER. I just recently acquired a new 3rd generation Glock Model 19 in 9mm and have to quote a line from Seinfeld character George Castanza: "I'm king of the idiots". I'm king of the idiots because I waited 20+ years before buying a M19. I totally fell into the whole Glock experience myself in 1992, with the introduction of the Model 21 in .45 ACP. Before that, when first the Model 17 and then 19 in 9mm were debuted as the revolutionary pistol that they still are today, I puffed at the idea of a 9mm and awaited the day that the .45 ACP variety would arrive. I then shot competitively with the Model 21 for a number of years in various combat shooting events, with great success. I've written elsewhere that I bought one of the first Model 21's I could find in Houston in 1992, and pretty much carried it for the next decade until becoming enamored with the "slimline" subcompact Model 36 in .45 ACP. And the Model 36 has been my main carry gun for the past six years or so. So although I've been carrying and shooting Glocks for the past 19 years, not exclusively but certainly the Glocks have been the most carried and probably most shot centerfire guns that I own and/or have shot. It's not like the 9mm has been a mystery round for me. As far back as my police days, I owned and carried a Heckler and Koch PSP (A P7 with butt magazine release lever, which, in my experience, is superior to the button release P7M8 which I also owned, and which used to activate the mag release button in every holster it rode in, bar none.) that I bought used from a narcotics officer. It was a fine shooter and a mighty safe gun to carry with the squeeze cocking system. I've owned a Browning Hi Power, as did my father, and the grip was just a bit big for me. I tried numerous grips, and like always, decided I liked the Pachmayr grips best, and although it's a fine firearm, it's not the one either for regular field carry or defense carry or even home defense. I would, however, love to see one of these companies cranking out 1911 replicas in .22 caliber make a nice hi capacity Browning scaled down version (as Browning did with the 1911 .22 version) for about $350. That would be a cool gun to shoot. As I mentioned, I then owned a second NIB Heckler and Koch P7M8 that I got in the 90's from a great Houston gun dealer for a very fair price. For hot days when the Glock 21 was too big to carry as a concealed handgun, the P7 did much better. That version of the squeezecocker had the magazine release in the traditional spot on the grip near the trigger guard, and it liked to accidently activate every now and then, not making the magazine fall out, but just disengage enough to not feed. The P7 is a great gun but the Glock Model 36 pretty much took it's place when it hit the scene a decade or so ago. So along the way there have been other fine guns, with fine triggers and some even with custom work. Some have been especially excellent firearms, accurate and reliable, and some have not. For some reason, since the introduction of the Glock 19 in the late 80's, I never felt the need to own one. I'd shot several, and of course it was just like the Model 21. As I would later discover, it was just like the Model 36. There was no down time adapting to a new gun. It's pull trigger---goes bang. That is the true Glock advantage, my friends, reliability. Pull Trigger, Goes Bang. Like my other Glocks, my Model 19 eats any kind of ammo. Any. Kind. Of. Ammo. And it does it with gusto and verve. No feeding issues. No failure to feed or failure to fire issues. Even with cheap surplus ammo. Even with hot rod Cor Bon ammo. And all kinds of in between ammo. There is no break in time with a Glock. Every Glock I've bought went straight from the store to the range. Several hundred rounds generally get fired and there are no problems. No surprises. The gun is accurate from shot one. I've never even had to adjust the sights on my Glocks. They have been spot on.