Monthly Archives: May 2010
I still don’t know if I’m going to study Aikido, but I am doing a lot of research on the topic. I came across these “13 Rules for Aikido Instructors” (yes I know, they only list 12). What I found interesting was, they weren’t just good rules for Aikido instructors, but generally were good humble rules for life. You may have to modify the wording slightly (e.g. #3 becomes simply “do not criticize”), but it’s pretty solid.
I opted to reprint them here, with some minor formatting changes. They are things I want to remember for myself.
Today, KR Training held its Competition Pistol 1 class.
A good class. There were 15 people shooting, including one father-daughter team (tho Dad, who is already a competition shooter, was just there to help her and provide her support… and she was pretty good!). Some old familiar faces, lots of new faces. And on the whole, a pretty decent class.
A lot of the folks there would do well to come back for classes like Basic Pistol 2, Beyond the Basics: Pistol, and Defensive Pistol Skills 1. Folks weren’t bad shots, but there’s lots of little things they can do to get better. Working on fundamentals such as grip and trigger control will take this group and make them even better.
Started out running drills and working on skills. Then the fun started. Had both ranges going. First round had a Steel Challenge stage (Accelerator) on the small range, and the other range had people running a plate rack (6 falling steel plates). The second round put an IDPA stage on the small range and an IPSC stage on the large range. Nothing too difficult, but challenging and more intended to give people an idea of what each game is like.
For folks wanting to know more about the local clubs and matches, check KR Training’s list of those very things!
Only harsh thing was it got HOT today. I saw one bank clock/thermometer displaying 101º, tho most places are in the mid-90′s. Had to reapply the sunscreen, and while I know I got some tan I do hope I’m not burned… so far it looks good, but I’ve got a layer of dust and dirt on me.
Going to hit the shower, then time for a Sam Adams.
Today was an emotional shithouse.
The whole duck thing? Sure, I know they’re just ducks. But as the saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. I knew I had some attachment to them (I knew the kids had a heavy attachment to them), but I guess I had more than I thought. Imagine someone walking into your home and taking your family pets away. I doubt you’d find that an enjoyable experience. I keep finding myself going to the front window, looking out on the lawn expecting to see the ducks there but now realizing there aren’t any. Seeing them throughout the day brought such joy to us; looking out the empty window just brings sadness. Feelings of betrayal, anger, sadness… on the one hand I feel kinda silly for feeling this way, but I didn’t ask to feel this way… it’s just how things are and I accept my feelings.
Then I try to get work done and the code rewrite I attempted just didn’t pan out; in fact, while on paper it should have been better, in reality it turned out exponentially worse (performance was abysmal). That’s two days of work down the tubes, but such is R&D. I had such high hopes. Alas.
But while most of the day went wrong, towards the end it got better.
The neighbor that I know called for the duck removal? He came by the house to check on the boys. He apologized for what he did. I wasn’t there, but Wife tells me that she saw genuine remorse in his eyes. I have to give him a lot of respect for coming by like he did. That took a lot of guts. While it doesn’t fix things, we’re all human, we all make mistakes, and if we don’t learn to forgive then well… what sort of person are we?
Then I capped off the day with a glass of 2007 Grape Creek Merlot and a Rocky Patel 1990 petit corona cigar. Sat with Wife in the backyard and watched the kiddos having a blast with their squirt guns and running through the slip and slide. Two does wandered into the greenbelt for their evening meal. We watched them, they watched us for quite a while. It was most peaceful and satisfying.
XM193 ammo is fairly well-regarded. But exactly what does the XM stand for? You hear lots of explanations.
XM193 ammunition is 5.56mm contract overrun material. It may not meet all of the mil-spec requirements, however, it does meet all requirements of commercial ammunition for pressure, form, fit and function.
So we have a large population of muscovy ducks in our neighborhood.
There are some neighbors that don’t like that reality. They’ve contacted the neighborhood management association to see what can be done about it. Word was they were going to get a group out here to trap some of the ducks and relocate them to farm ponds.
My children were not happy. Admittedly, I’m not thrilled with it either.
Remember that one mother duck that was eaten a couple of weeks ago? We relocated 6 of her viable eggs to another mother across the way. Those eggs hatched just yesterday. It was a joyous event!
This morning I go out to refresh the water dish, as 2 mallard drakes were in the yard. I see the mother across the way emerge and 9 little ducklings behind her. I walk to the edge of my yard to get a better look and then I see a man standing in a neighbor’s driveway watching the ducks. I keep an eye on him.
I clean up my yard a bit, go to throw some things away. The guy engages me in conversation. I see by his hat and shirt he’s with the USDA. He’s been out here for the past 2 weeks counting and observing. And this morning, they’re trapping.
Daughter and Wife are out of the house, but Oldest and Youngest got to observe what was going on. Their first tip-off? One of the hens with 5 ducklings is nowhere to be seen, but her 5 ducklings are all huddled together alone and peeping. They went looking, then saw the men with nets chasing down the ducks.
The wailing of broken-hearted children commenced. I didn’t stop it. I let the men hear it, I let the neighbors I know in part responsible for this hear it.
We asked the men if we could look at the ducks they had captured to see if the one mother was in there. We couldn’t tell given the nature of the cages. They had captured some other babies too, but we don’t know which or whom. We tried to get the men to take the 5 orphans with them because likely the mother was in their truck, but they wouldn’t engage us in conversation; one wouldn’t even look me in the eye. Nice, but I can’t blame them… they’re just doing their job and I was hitting them with an emotional attack.
I managed to capture the 5 orphans. We’re going to take them to the Austin Wildlife Rescue.
Talking with another neighbor, he mentioned wanting to catch the one mother with the 9 ducklings and relocate her to a farm pond. I wondered why, no response.
Yes, I know and even the children know the realities of it all. We’ve explained it to them, helped them understand the practical reasons for why this has to happen. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it. These ducks have a lot of personality and yes, even I’ve grown attached. Someone coming along and taking them away, it hurts. Again, we understand the realities of it all, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less, especially for the kiddos.
Just furthers our desire to move to the country.
You know what you don’t want to hear in the middle of the night?
Your children letting out panicked, blood-curdling screams.
Kiddos were “camping out”, sleeping in sleeping bags in the living room (it’s just something they like to do, and it’s harmless). Daughter reports that Oldest started to fidget and itch. He was groggy and not sure what was going on, but something was bugging him. He wanders into our room, wakes up Wife, and asks if she could look at his neck, if she might see anything.
She sure did.
It was a striped bark scorpion, very common in Texas. We get them inside the house on occasion. Seems the scorpion was taking a midnight stroll across Oldest’s body. Once everyone noticed what it was, the screams and cries went out. Sure freaked me out to be woken up in that manner.
There’s a small welt on Oldest’s neck, another on his chest, and one on his hand. He’s doing OK, it’s just annoying him at this point. His siblings both got bad sunburns last weekend, he just got some light scorpion stings. Everyone’s happy.
So…. how did the brisket from the new smoker’s maiden voyage turn out?
The meat itself was tender, juicy, good flavor. After 10 hours in the 200º-250º range, it did well.
There was a little bit more blackening on the exterior than I cared for, made things bitter, but avoid that and it was quite good. I admit I didn’t watch the actual meat as much as I normally did. See, with the Weber I had to take off the lid to add fuel thus I always checked the meat. When I was doing the initial burn in this new smoker I realized how the big lid was well… a big lid. If you open it, all that heat and smoke was quickly lost, so I did my best to NOT open the lid to look at the meat. Just trust the time (you know it’s going to be at least 6-8 hours), but by then it was too late.
A few things learned about the new smoker:
- It’s certainly not as airtight as I’d like it to be. One gaping issue is the lid has holes in the side for a rotisserie, but then just little seal issues here and there, some due to lack of fit, some because it’s just sheet metal and might have a slight bend in it. I got what I paid for. It wasn’t horrible, but someday I’ll want good sealing.
- The lack of airtightness was rather evident when I was trying to cool off the fire a bit. The firebox door vent ended up being totally closed and the chimney vent almost closed, yet more than enough oxygen was getting in to keep it burning.
- I do not like the big-ass lid. Or rather, I don’t like that it opens all the way up letting all the heat and smoke out. I’ll want to get a model where the body is mostly closed and the lids are just “small” door openings. Next question then is, one big door or multiple smaller ones? I’m thinking multiple smaller.
- But on the same token, I do like the roominess under the lid. I need to try some beer-can chicken under there, because there’s certainly room. Thanksgiving turkey will have a lot of room too. I’m probably going to have to ditch the warming rack, which I don’t see much need or use for anyway.
- Cooking with pure wood sure is different. Used to be I used charcoal as the primary source and just added a wood chunk or some wet wood chips for the smoke flavor. But this? I started with charcoal then put a small log of oak on. I was able to keep the temps just fine using small logs of oak the whole time, no more charcoal. I’m not sure if that contributed to the black/bitter; I recall one time I used mesquite chunks the whole time and by the end it was way too strong a flavor, almost bitter. Have to get used to using just wood, plus I need to go buy another cord or two.
- As for the black/bitter, could just be a need for some foil earlier on in the process (and not sweating the lid issue), could be the wood, could have been the brown sugar in the rub (I just used a rub recipe in a book I have… which I now remember I didn’t like the last time I used it, but I was in a hurry). Half the fun is finding that perfect combination.
Anyway, the main thing here is the Hondo itself. No, it’s not perfect, but it seems to do the job just fine. I’m going to see what else I can do to tweak it.