Monthly Archives: May 2009
I love riding my motorcycle on early Sunday mornings. Sun starts to rise, fire up the bike and head for the hills. The weather is cool, the roads are mostly empty and quiet. It’s a wonderful time to ride.
This morning I hit a lot of back roads on the foothills of the Texas Hill Country, going around Dripping Springs and Wimberly. On my way back home I ended up in Buda so I opted to stop into Cabela’s. Why not? Look for a S&W 640 (nope) and for .22 LR ammo (nope). Ah well. I did get to fondle a Ruger LCR. Comparing to a S&W 642 they had, the LCR was noticeably lighter than the 642. Specs say the LCR is 13.5 oz and the 642 is 15 oz, and you could certainly feel that difference. Of course, the LCR is .38 +P only (642 could do .357 Magnum). Size wise, they’re ultimately the same in terms of outer dimensions, but the LCR does “bulge” a bit more than the 642, e.g. the LCR’s trigger guard is a bit more rounded out than the 642. Nothing that should really affect carry or concealability, IMHO. I’d be curious to shoot an LCR side-by-side with a 642 and a 640 (all shooting the same loads) to see how they all felt. I wasn’t able to get a pinky on the LCR (I honestly can’t remember if I tried with the 642). Anyway, nice little diversion.
I arrived at Cabela’s before they opened. Instead of sitting around, I used it as an opportunity to practice. Cabela’s has a huge parking lot, including an area in the back for large RV’s, people hauling trailers, and the like. Just wide open space. So I took the opportunity to practice some motorcycle riding skills, especially slow speed skills. Things like turning tight circles left and right, figure 8′s, weaving, starting into a turn from a stop , and even some emergency braking. I actually need to pull out my Jerry “Motorman” Palladino “Ride Like a Pro” DVD again and review a bunch of those techniques and practice drills. I think I could make it a regular thing: if I visit Cabela’s, take 15 minutes in the back parking lot and do some drills.
I was doing fairly well, but for some reason I was having a tough time with counter-clockwise circles (turning to the left). I couldn’t get those circles as tight as clockwise/right circles. I’m not sure what it was, need to work at it more to try to figure it out. I can say that I love Palladino’s approach for slow speed, which is to keep the clutch in the friction zone, keep power to the rear wheel, and feather the rear brake. I recall from my Rider Safety Class that they only taught the friction zone, no rear brake technique. But it’s really the feathering of the rear brake that makes it all happen. You have so much more stability and control with the rear brake use.
Everyone likes to focus on high-speed riding skills, and certainly those are important. But slow speed skills are important too. If you haven’t checked out “Ride Like a Pro” you should. The skills he teaches are valuable and will make you a better rider at any speed. Ugh… this just sounded like a commercial… it wasn’t supposed to. I’m just a satisfied customer.
Went out this morning for a bit. A bunch of little things came up that aren’t worth a whole blog post, but I wanted to put down somewhere. Make one big post.
More from the snub-nose files
I opted to do a little snubby shopping this morning. I think I’ve settled on something like a Smith & Wesson 640: J-frame (or the like), all steel, chambered in .357 Magnum, fully enclosed hammer. Note that while I would like it to be chambered in .357, I don’t think I’d ever really want to shoot .357 out of it; probably just shoot .38 Special +P. I just think it’d be ideal to have it chambered in .357 so I could shoot it if that was needed; for instance, I needed that extra oomph, maybe that’s the only ammo I could find and would be better than nothing, etc.. The versatility and options from the chambering would be nice, but not required; I would be happy with just .38 +P.
Went to McBrides to see what they have. They had some stuff, but nothing like I wanted. In fact, on the drive home I also stopped into a pawn shop and a sporting goods store. Basically what seems to be carried has at least some aspect of what I don’t want. First, the predominant models are lightweight models, which I’m not sold on wanting. The all-steel models aren’t much heavier (tho I was amazed at just how lightweight that S&W M&P 340 felt, and I did like that U-ramp rear sight) and will be nicer to shoot. Then if they had a steel model it would have an exposed hammer. Or one third thing might be laser grips, which I don’t want. So, nothing in stock that I’d want, either new or used. But I do think that going used would be a way to go, if I can find it.
Questionable Fund Raising
At many intersections here in Austin you’ll find people begging for money, food, pot (yes, I’ve seen requests for this on their signs), various other things. Oh yeah, they’re also disabled vets, anything helps, God bless. I’m not insensitive to the plight of the homeless, but the vast majority of the folks I see do this as their chosen way of life. I’ve seen them at various intersections around town over the years. If they’re truly someone in need of help, Austin is loaded with help; instead of walking up and down the intersection for a few hours and spending any money they get on booze, they could walk to the help facilities or buy a bus ticket or any manner of things to help themselves. But they don’t, because they don’t want to; they don’t want help. These folks are just freeloaders and parasites and I refuse to support that with my hard-earned money.
So then I see kids out there with signs saying they’re fund raising for their baseball team’s trip, or to help the basketball team reach the finals. Or some such thing. While that seems a more noble cause — and how can you place kids in the same boat — I have to question the tactics. That some adult leader of that group thought that begging for money would be a good way to raise funds, and that the rest of the adult leaders in the group went along with it and said yeah that’s a good idea. What a wonderful thing to teach the children, eh?
Motorcycle Parking Spaces
Do you know what a motorcycle parking space is? The same spaces that cars park in, unless a specific motorcycle parking space is designated (I’ve seen such things).
What isn’t a motorcycle parking space? Sidewalks, crosswalks, the walkway in front of a business door (that’s under the awning and out of the rain, but certainly isn’t a place for vehicles), handicapped walkways. I’m a motorcycle rider myself, but I just cannot stand when other motorcycle riders think that because they’re on a bike, because they’re afraid of getting their bike tipped over or rained on or merely because they’re small enough to fit in some spot (or maybe they’re just arrogant or lazy riders), that they can park wherever they want to. Sorry, no, you can’t.
At the sporting good store, a Moto Guzzi was parked in the handicapped area. You know how those spaces can be set up in the parking lot, with a wide space then lots of paint bordering things, leading into the middle, then through the median as a “cross-walk” so that people with wheelchairs can safely get around. Well, Mr. Moto Guzzi parked his bike right in the median break; no chance of a wheelchair getting through. Why does this bug me? Because I have a nephew in a wheelchair. I’ve had times when we’ve gone out and his van couldn’t be parked in a handicapped space because of people abusing handicapped parking hang-tags. Or in a case like this, the only way for a wheelchair bound person to get around would be to navigate through the parking lot instead of the designated lane. Not a safe and sound thing.
If you ride a motorcycle, don’t be an asshole. Park your bike in a proper parking spot. If you want special motorcycle-only parking, lobby for it.
Conversation I Overheard When I Returned Home
Wife: (Calls Youngest to come downstairs).
Youngest: (Eventually shows up).
Wife: Where were you?
Youngest: I was in my hamper.
Wife: You mean your clothes hamper? You were inside your hamper?
Youngest: Yes. I was sitting in it, clothes piled on top of me.
Wife: Why were you doing that?
Youngest: I don’t know. It was comfy.
I’m not even going to try to understand it. I’m just going to chalk it up to some random cuteness. I later found out he decorated his hamper to look like a monster, so when you open the lid to put in your clothes it’s as if the monster is eating your clothing. Fair enough.
Last month when I went out for my AT-4 class I met Howard Nemerov. I bought directly from Howard a copy of his book: Four Hundred Yeard of Gun Control… Why Isn’t It Working?. I finally cleared it off my reading list and wanted to write down my thoughts on the book. Note that the following is my own opinion. I only met Howard the once, do think he’s a nice guy, but I’ve no vested interest one way or the other regarding his book.
It’s important to remember that Howard originally was a tried and true gun control supporter, but converted. In his own words:
If I may vent for a moment….
You start to hear or see something over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again and eventually it wears on you. I was reading this article at the Christian Science Monitor and I saw the words yet again….
That it’s all about the NRA, the gun lobby, and they’re all pro-death and pro-baby killing. As if it’s just this single lobbiest organization that’s causing all of the death and evil in the world. I grant, it’s one big gorilla in the room and they are rather powerful. Do you know why they’re powerful?
Because the NRA is made up of citizens. Citizens that donate time, money, and effort to make things happen. This isn’t some sort of slacktivism where you can put a magnet on your car’s bumper or sign up for a Facebook page and make you feel good about yourself. No, the NRA has power because they are a representative organization. They represent millions of US citizens. That’s why they’re a force. Next time you want to bitch about the NRA and the “gun lobby” realize that what’s really behind that are millions of Americans. It’s not a fear to cross the gun lobby, it’s a fear to cross millions of (voting) citizens. In 1994, it wasn’t a triumph of the gun lobby, it was a large swath of America letting their voices be heard through their vote.
It’s not a matter of crossing the gun lobby or not… it’s not a matter of being afraid of the gun lobby or not… it’s the citizens, that vote, that get active in the political process, that care about infringements upon themselves, their rights, and their lives. Don’t tread on us.
But now I turn to this same group and say… can we please stop the abuse of the word “tactical”? I’m shopping for some gear and everything is tactical. There’s tactical polo shirts (huh?), tactical bottle openers, tactical butt floss, tactical bacon (OK, that’s actually kinda cool and funny). You start seeing the word “tactical” used in places where it doesn’t apply… but it makes it tacti-cool to use the word, right?
This is oddly relevant to me. While I am looking for a snub-nosed revolver, I have also given thought to a more powerful handgun, like something you could hunt with (e.g. a revolver in .44 magnum or .460 S&W or the like). I’ve also thought that a semi-auto in 10mm such as a Glock 20 (tho I don’t like Glocks, and I know there are others out there) would be a useful carry piece for those times out in the woods when you could run across 2 or 4 legged predators. As well, at the range yesterday I got to talking with another gentleman on the rifle line about my search for a snubby and he brought up the .327 Magnum. I’ve seen the commercials for the load and certainly it intrigued me. The fact it’s a bit of a “vanity caliber” I’m not sure about (I’d feel better if I were an established reloader), but still it’s worth looking at.
So anyway, that the ballistics data was updated and for some calibers I’m looking at was rather welcome.
“Won’t someone think of the children.”
Gosh, if you never want your children to see someone smoking, I hope you keep them locked up in the house and that no one in the house smokes.
But I’ve got a better idea. If you think the movies are so horrible because of what they depict, then don’t go see them. Stop telling others how to conduct themselves.
If one thinks, he will be taken by his thoughts.
I subscribe to Brian Enos’ Maku mozo! mailing list. This was today’s quote.
It struck me because of my morning range experience. I’ve discussed this in other places on my blog when I talk about guns or martial arts or mindset, that when you think about something well… you’re thinking about that something and it consumes your thoughts and probably your actions too. This is neither good nor bad in and of itself, but what it causes you to do could be judged to be good or bad. This morning at the range I didn’t think about speed, I didn’t think to not think about speed (which is ultimately still thinking about speed). I did think about being smooth. Thus, I was smooth. When I assessed my performance and then thought about speed, I realized I wasn’t too bad with my speed but moreover I was shooting accurately and consistently (well, 25 yards needs work). If I allowed myself to be taken by thoughts of speed, that’s how I would have focused my shooting and that would not have lead me to the results I wanted. Instead, I allowed myself to be taken by thoughts of smoothness, and that lead me to the results I wanted.
Takuan’s words aren’t good or bad, it’s what I choose to do with my thoughts and even if I choose to think at all.