Thursday, September 29, 2005

New-Skin Antiseptic Liquid Bandage

I had the occasion to try out some New-Skin Antiseptic Liquid Bandage tonight, after I gashed the palm of my hand while taking out the trash.

This stuff is good for relatively small cuts, especially on areas where it would be inconvenient to have a regular band aid, e.g. the palm of your hand or a finger. I've used super glue before for this sort of cut but wanted to try out the New-Skin that I had in my home first aid kit. I also wanted the antiseptic properties of the New-Skin.

After washing my hands well with soap and water and drying them, I applied the New-Skin, using the brush attached to the inside of the cap. Initial impression: HOLY CRAP THAT STINGS! I'd be reluctant to put it on a child because for about 2 or 3 minutes after putting it on, the wound hurt worse than when I gashed it. I've never noticed this when putting superglue on a cut.

After a few minutes the pain subsided and the cut is now pretty much unnoticeable unless I turn my hand over and look at it. So, I can recommend New-Skin, but with the caveat that you probably don't want to use it on a small child.

Blogroll Update

If you check out my Blogroll over on the right, you'll see that I've deleted the link to Kim DuToit's blog and replaced it with a link to The Gun Guy, who has a remarkably similar style. ;)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I scored a Coleman lantern for free

Well, not really free. I've worked at $BIG_CORP for almost 5 years, so they sent me a catalog with a bunch of stuff in it and told me to pick a gift. I need another vase or clock around the house, but they had the Coleman NorthStar battery powered lantern, model # 5359, which I selected.

It's made mostly out of plastic and while not fragile, doesn't seem as robust as the metal gas burning Colemans. The clear part around the bulb is made from polycarbonate and protected with a steel cage.

It uses 8 D-cells and a 13W flourescent tube. It has Low and High settings for the tube, plus a nightlight. Coleman claims continuous run times of 8 hours on High, 20 hours on Low, and 100 hours for the night light.

I tried it out after dark and it's pretty bright, even on low. The nightlight is ok, I supposed that if my eyes were more night-adapted it would help me from tripping over something on the way to the latrine.

This will be handy in case of a power outage. It'll light up a room and I don't need to be concerned with adequate ventilation inside or flames from candles. I'll probably pick up some lithium batteries for their long shelf life and extended run time, and stick it on the shelf until needed.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

After Katrina, Gunbattles ...

Amazing. Reuters put out a story showing civilian defensive gun use in a positive light. They even managed to not demonize AK-47s.

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - After the storm came the carjackers and burglars. Then came the gun battles and the chemical explosions that shook the restored Victorians in New Orleans' Algiers Point neighborhood.


Citizens organized armed patrols and checked on the elderly. They slept on their porches with loaded shotguns and bolted awake when intruders stumbled on the aluminum cans they had scattered on the sidewalk.


A Texas woman who runs a Web site called served as a link between those who stayed and those who had left. With her help, they stockpiled an arsenal of shotguns, derringer pistols and an old AK-47.

They were put to use the next day.

"Some looters came up and pulled a gun on the wrong group of men," said Harris, who said he did not fire a gun himself and declined to say who else was involved in the battle.


Remainer of the story here. {sarcasm} So, "assault weapons" aren't just for criminals. Who woulda thunk it? {/sarcasm}

Home Again Today

I'm home again for the second day in a row. Tuesday night I started sneezing incessantly, which was followed up with major congestion combined with a nose running like a faucet. At first I thought I definitely caught the cold from Amanda but the other possibility is that Judith brought it home from school. As a fourth grade teacher, she's exposed to a plethora of germs. She rarely gets sick but sometimes brings the germs home to pass on to me. Joy.

Yesterday I was wiped out and congested, but still managed to work a half day from home.

Today I'm tired and feeling sinus pressure, even after taking pseudophedrine.

On the bright side, the living room and dining room are finally done, except for the floor which needs some cleanup. The rooms look great. The guys remodeling our master bathroom are doing an excellent job and just as importantly, working quickly. Most of the new tile is in the shower and they should be ready for me to put a coat of primer on the walls by Sunday or Monday (I'm painting the room myself to save a few hundred bucks). If it's ready for the primer by Sunday that'll be great, because I'll be able to get it on before any of the fixtures are installed, which will be a lot easier than if I have to mask and paint around them.

Dan's Taking Some Lumps

Fellow Daynoter Dan Seto writes of some problems he's running into using Xandros Linux as his desktop OS:

I have two problems to report in using Linux.

The first involved printing an Adobe Acrobat file. The file began as a WordPerfect file emailed to me from another worker. The file was then forwarded to another person who, I believe, inserted an image of their signature into the file, converted it into an Acrobat file and emailed that back to me.


The second problem is using my scanner. I have a Visioneer OneTouch 9120 USB scanner. However, there does not appear to be a Linux driver for this scanner. I checked out the SANE scanner site and found Visioneer is not supported. I checking other sites and it appears that it comes down to I am out of luck and should instead buy an Epson, almost any Epson. The moral of this story is check the SANE project site first before buying a scanner for Linux.


In reply I noted that for me, printing under Linux has consistently been a massive PITA for me. I've previously written here why I switched Bagend over to Windows XP Pro from SUSE 9.2 -- basically it was printing, but also the need to run apps to program my ham radio.

When it's finally time to replace Bagend, I'll be getting a Macintosh. Mac OS-X gives me the best of both worlds: BSD UNIX for when I need to do geeky stuff, plus an absolutely killer, easy to use GUI, in which everything I need to do just works. It costs more initially but pays for itself in lack of wasted time and aggravation.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

My G-d, it's full of crap

My brother brought one of his friend's PCs over for me to look at. It's an HP Pavillion 515n running Windows XP Home, and the owner was experiencing intermittent video failure.

I connected it to my KVM and at first was able to get into Windows, but a few minutes later the screen went black. The box has a 2.3GHz Celeron but only 256 MB of RAM, so it was running very slowly anyway. No BSOD, just no video. I tried rebooting but had to try a few times before it gave me any video. I got into the BIOS, disabled Quickboot, and enabled the POST messages. Things looked OK while it was POSTing, so I rebooted into Safe Mode to see if there was anything obvious.

Aside from the usual out of date Norton Antivirus, I saw a ton of the crapware you usually find on consumer's PCs after they've been used for awhile: WildTangent games, a bunch of AOL toolbars and accessories, and a second AV program, plus Quicktime and RealPlayer set to launch when Windows started.

I cleaned up as much as possible while in Safe Mode, but couldn't remove everything, specifically the stuff that needed the Windows Installer, so rebooted into normal mode and removed them, including NAV 2003.

Next, I installed AVG Antivirus, Spybot Search & Destroy, and the hosts file from MVPS.ORG. The first thing to do was a full virus scan, which -- surprizingly -- came up clean. Spybot and Ad-Aware both turned up a bunch of crap, including a large number of tracking cookies, which I zapped.

Asdie from all that, the owner is an AOL user, and the amount of crap that AOL installs is simply amazing. I've long held the belief that the single easiest way to foul up a Windows box is to install AOL. Aside from the AOL client and network components, AOL 9 also loads a bunch of background services to speed loading the dialer. All this junk running in the background really taxes a system with minimal RAM, like this box.

After running Windows Disk Cleanup, I ran chkdsk, rebooted into Safe Mode, and started defragging the hard drive before I turned in.

When I got up at about 0500 to use the facilities and popped into my office. Defrag had run successful and things seemed good, so I shutdown the PC.

I'm at home today due to a head cold that Amanda was kind enough to share with me, so I wanted to do some further work on the box, and started having problems getting it to boot without crapping out. At first I had no video, then got some video but it shortly died. So, I tried booting with the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows, which crashed on me twice. Next, I tried Memtest86 and the box started to spontaneously reboot after a couple of tests. So, I'm beginning to think that aside from the software conflicts the box definitely had, it also has a bad stick of RAM. I have another box which takes PC133 RAM and I think later I'll try out the HP's stick in it, to confirm if it is bad. If it is we'll see about getting new memory, otherwise the problem may be the motherboard or power supply, in which case I'm not going to recommend sinking any money into this old box.

Friday, September 16, 2005

A couple of new MFJ antennas

Last week I ordered a couple of new antennas from MFJ to extend the usefulness of my Yaesu VX-5RS. They arrived today, an MFJ-1730 Pocket Roll-Up J-Pole 2M, and an MFJ-1729 Power*Gain 2M/440MHz Magnet Mount Mobile. Since the mag mount antenna has a PL259 connector on the coax, I also got an 0.5M SO239-to-SMA adapter cable from Gigaparts. (PL-259 is male and connects to the female SO239 connector. My VX-5 has an SMA connector.)

The reason for getting an adapter cable rather than a PL259-to-BNC adapter, and then connecting that to my BNC-to-SMA adapter, is that doing so can unduly stress the SMA connector on the radio. Having the slack provided by a half meter of coax helps take the strain off the radio's connector. If anyone makes a direct PL259-to-SMA adapter I haven't run across it.

The first thing I did was take down the homebrew 2M J-Pole which I've been using, and hung up the MFJ-1730. It's made out of some BNC-terminated coaxial cable attached to 300 Ohm twin-lead. The solder joints and the part of the twinlead that is notched to make the reflector arm of the antenna are covered in heat shrink tubing. The top end of the twinlead has a small hole punched in it for hanging it up. I looped a cable tie through it so I have about a 2 - 3" loop for more flexibility in hanging it up.

Reception of various AM stations and the MARC 2M repeater with the MFJ-1730 J-Pole was only so-so, with a good amount of noise. There's a lot of metal fairly nearby in my office and the instruction sheet that came with the MFJ J-Pole warns that if it's too close to metal, even metal window frames, it can get detuned. I haven't transmitted with the MFJ-1730 yet. I'll wait until I can do so outside away from metal items.

The MFJ-1729 magnet mount mobile antenna gave me better results, even indoors. Magnet mount antennas need a ground plane for best operation. When stuck on top of a vehicle, the roof serves this role. If using such an antenna away from a vehicle, you can use something else, even a cookie sheet, for a ground plane. Since I was in my office I stuck it on top of my metal gun cabinet, which worked well.

Reception with the MFJ-1729 in my office was very good and although I didn't specifically request a signal report, when I checked into the Friday night MARC net, they seemed to be able to hear me well.

The same day I ordered the antenna stuff from Gigaparts and MFJ, I also ordered an external microphone and extra Lithium-Ion battery pack from Universal Radio. I still haven't received an email indicating they shipped. I'll bug them if I don't hear anything by close of business on Monday.

CrossOver Theme for Thunderbird

This afternoon I installed the CrossOver theme for Mozilla Thunderbird on my iBook. Wow! The look is so similar to Apple's it's amazing the first time you open Tbird with the new theme installed. It gets two thumbs up.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

In the Shooting Gallery

This morning I ran across an account of a civilian security contractor in Iraq.

by Jim Williamson
Roving Editor

The plains north of Baghdad are inhospitable, made less so with hulks of wrecked vehicles, squalid dwellings, and the random heaps of debris comprising the detritus of war. The heat assaults the senses, baking mind and soul, transmitting mirages as the only entertainment for the convoy of supply trucks headed for a police post near the Kurdish border, where the weather will be cooler and the land greener.

A signal halts the column, and a driver dismounts to tie down a loose tarpaulin before any of his precious cargo can escape. Some men aboard the trucks dismount to stretch weary muscles. Others lift bottles of water, ever conscious of the need to remain hydrated in this arid sunscape.

Suddenly, several men screech to a halt some 200 meters distant, taking cover behind a litter of abandoned 55-gallon oil drums. Their voices drift down on the wind, a guttural cacophony of angry Arabic, the syllables lost in the breeze and the distance. Words are soon replaced by the crash of gunshots as they open fire on the column.

The convoy returns fire as men scramble aboard their vehicles or take cover behind them. One defender is a 28-year-old Texan, a veteran of the 2003 war against Saddam Hussein. He notes that one attacker is bobbing behind three of the rusty drums, exposing himself only to shoot at the government convoy and its American guardians.

Especially interesting to gunnies like myself is the performance of 9mm Ball ammunition, primarily from a Browning High Power, but also a Beretta M-9:

Many disparage the 9mm’s stopping power, and knowing that only military “ball” ammunition was available, I asked if this had been a problem. Spook said that it hadn’t. He knows what some of the gun magazine chest-beaters claim in print, and admits that he hasn’t shot any blocks of ballistic gelatin. He has shot eight men with the nine, though, and all went down with center thorax hits. One or two shots sufficed, if well placed. Spook knows that others have complained about the nine, and wonders where they hit their opponents. He has talked with a couple of tank crewmen who shot Iraqis off their huge armored mounts, and they seemed satisfied, too. The Browning worked fine, and so did the Beretta M9 that he wore in 2003, provided that one used only genuine Beretta magazines. Cheap spare magazines from other manufacturers might fail.

You can read the rest of it here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The NRA on the New Orleans Gun Grab

Disaster Can’t Destroy Gun Rights

Monday, September 12, 2005

National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre slammed New Orleans authorities Monday for seizing legal firearms from lawful residents.

"What we’ve seen in Louisiana - the breakdown of law and order in the aftermath of disaster - is exactly the kind of situation where the Second Amendment was intended to allow citizens to protect themselves, " LaPierre said.

"When law enforcement isn’t available, Americans turn to the one right that protects all the others - the right to keep and bear arms," LaPierre said. "This attempt to repeal the Second Amendment should be condemned."

The New York Times reported last Thursday that no civilians in New Orleans will be allowed to have guns, quoting the superintendent of police that "only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons."

A Louisiana state statute allows the chief law enforcement officer to "regulate possession" of firearms during declared emergenciesLink. "But regulate doesn’t mean confiscate," said Chris W. Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist.

"Authorities are using that statute to do what the looters and criminals could not: disarm the law-abiding citizens of New Orleans trying to protect their homes and families," Cox said.

"The NRA will not stand idly by while guns are confiscated from law-abiding people who’re trying to defend themselves," he said.

"We’re exploring every legal option available to protect the rights of lawful people in New Orleans," Cox said, "and we’re taking steps to overturn such laws in every state where they exist."

"Local authorities in New Orleans are turning nature’s assault on human life into man’s assault on human rights," LaPierre said. "Four million NRA members intend to stop this unconstitutional power grab."


I hope this means that the NRA intends to sue the living shit out of those responsible.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


This farmer's neighbors are going to be kicking themselves next year the first time the wind blows the wrong way:

Complaints kill shooting range, pigs coming now

Sunday, September 11, 2005
By Brian David, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

On the first day of August, Tom Belsterling saw his skeet-shooting business blown right out of the sky.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined that day to hear his appeal of a May 2003 decision by the New Sewickley zoning hearing board. The board had ruled Belsterling's skeet range illegal, and the decision had been upheld at every level of county and state court.

On the first day of September, lacking the ability to make further appeals, Belsterling went for a lack of appeal instead: He bought some pigs.

If he can't fill the air with buckshot and clay, he'll fill it with an odor. And neighbors who had angered him with their blunt objections to the noise of shotguns cannot complain; pig farming is absolutely allowed under the township's zoning ordinance.

"It's an agricultural activity, so go to it, I guess," said Dennis Goehring, chairman of the New Sewickley supervisors.


Saturday, September 10, 2005

NOLA Confiscations Summed Up

Click here.

New Mosin-Nagant and Ruger P-90 Range Report

After the girls went down for their afternoon nap I drove over to Surplus City to see if he had anything neat in stock. I looked at a few interesting toys, including a mint-condition HK-94 carbine. It was sweet, but he was asking $2400. Since that's a bit out of my price range I just picked up another Mosin-Nagant.

The rifle I got today is an M1938 carbine made at the Soviet Ishevsk arsenal in 1941, and subsequently arsenal refurbished. The workmanship on the metal, while not outstanding, doesn't have the "gnawed out of steel by beavers" look typical of Mosin-Nagants made from 1942 - 44. As with most M1938s I've seen, it has an M-1944 stock, identifiable by the cutout for the '44's folding bayonet. The stock is laminated wood (a fancy term for plywood) finished with varnish. It's stamped with a square with a diagonal line through it, indicating the rifle was arsenal reworked. The bore is in excellent condition and I didn't see any obvious pitting underneath the bluing on any of the metal. As with every other M1938 I've seen, save one, the muzzle has been counterbored. The action is pretty smooth for a Mosin, although my M1891/30 and Finnish m/39 have better triggers. Not bad for $115 OTD.

The M1938 came without any accessories, so I need to find an appropriate sling. I already have plenty of Soviet 7.62x54R in clips, the M-N combo tool, and a mag pouch or two. Once equipped with a sling, the M1938 would make a dandy gun for bumming around with in the woods. It's light and handy, and points well. It's main drawback is the rather unergonomic safety, and it might be faster to get into action with the safety off and the bolt closed on an empty chamber.

While I couldn't shoot the Mosin tonight I was able to go to the Lower Providence Rod & Gun Club indoor range with my dad, and brought along my Ruger P-90. I picked this up back in June and up until tonight it had 116 rounds of Sellier & Bellot .45 ACP Ball through it without any issues. Earlier this week I received from Midway two more OEM magazines and a Bianchi 5L holster, so I really wanted to put some more rounds through it.

I brought along 3 boxes of .45 230 grain FMJ ammo. One box was Wolf while the others were Federal American Eagle. Incidentally, the Ruger manual specifically states that the gun is made to shoot any factory .45 ACP made with brass, aluminum, or steel cases.

I started off with the Wolf. It fed and ejected flawlessly, but two rounds failed to fire the first time the hammer dropped. Both rounds went off on the second strike. I've shot a fair amount of Wolf ammo previously in .45 ACP, .223, and 7.62x39 and this is the first time I've had any problems. I'll continue to buy it but for practice only, and may get the chance to practice immediate action drills. As with my Springfield M1911, the Wolf ammo shot as accurately as American-made ammo.

The American Eagle ammo was cleaner and less smoky than the Wolf. I had one instance of premature slide lock with it in one of the new mags. My mags are numbered. One time when running magazine #3 the slide locked back after the seventh round, leaving the 8th round sitting on top of the feed lips. I ran several magazine-fulls through the magazine after this malf and had no issues. I'm not sure if it's ammo or mag-related, or just a case of poop happens. With a single possibly gun-related malf in 216 rounds I am comfortable that the Ruger is a gun I can stake my life on.

After 150 rounds, 50 of which were rather dirty Wolf, the Ruger cleaned up in about 10 minutes using only Ballistol. As an experiment, I am using only Ballistol for lubrication and cleaning of the P-90 for the first 500 or so rounds. So far, so good. After about 500 rounds I'll clean the gun with Hoppe's No.9 to see if I can tell any difference in the results.

Dad shot his S&W Model 627 (".357 Mag - Eight Times") and Model 625. The latter, especially, is scary accurate, which mirrors my brother's an my experience with our 625s.

Letters to my politicritters

Today I sent the following letter to Bush, Specter, Santorum and Gerlach:

I am one of your consituents, a long-time registered Republican, and I vote in every election.

I have seen the news reports of policemen and National Guard soldiers disarming law abiding citizens of New Orleans. I AM DISGUSTED AND APPALLED. We have the government, which has failed in its most essential function -- protecting its citizens from thugs -- now disarming them after having left them on their own. This action sets a very dangerous precedent should it be allowed to stand.

The police officers and soldiers in question are violating the civil rights guaranteed to all Americans by the 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendments to the Constitution. Moreover, they appear to be doing so selectively. Private civilian security contractors like those from Blackwater are being allowed to retain their weapons, while homeowners guarding what remains of their property are not. Even in Iraq, our policy has been to allow at least one Kalashnikov rifle per household. NEW ORLEANS IS IN AMERICA. THESE DISARMED PEOPLE ARE BEING THROWN TO THE WOLVES.

This civilian disarmament must stop IMMEDIATELY and those responsible need to be brought to justice. If the Republican-controlled legislature and executive branch can't do something to stop this civilian disarmament, the Republican party will have been shown to be no different from the Democrats, despite all the rhetoric about Republicans favoring individual responsibility vs. Democrat nanny statism.

I am following this situation closely and await your reply.

Feel free to plagiarize it for your own correspondence if you want.

Friday, September 09, 2005

New Orleans Gun Confiscations

The NOPD has begun door-to-door gun confiscations. (Link points to GeekWithA.45.) Let me get this straight:

  1. The city government -- including the NOPD -- does next to nothing to prepare for a disaster of Biblical proportions,
  2. Due to its incompetence, the NOPD allows thugs to take over the city during the disaster,
  3. Thereby failing to perform the government's most essential function, and
  4. Now that it has failed to protect its citizens, is disarming them so they are unable to defend themselves.
Not only is the NOLA government guilty of dereliction of duty, it is actively placing its citizens in harm's way. I wonder how many good guys are going to die as the result of this?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Gerber Recon LED Flashlight

REI held their Labor Day sale over the weekend and I wound up buying a Gerber Recon LED flashlight for around half off, about $15; regular price there is $29.95.

The Recon is an interesting little light. It runs off a single AA cell, but what makes it special is the rotating bezel which allows you to select white, blue, red, or green filters. White is for general use, blue for IDing fluids (i.e., blood), red for preserving night vision, and green for map reading. It weighs 2.6 oz. and has a clip for a pocket, or you can attach it to the brim of a cap. I wouldn't want to rely on the clip to secure it to my hat if I was doing anything strenuous, however. The base of the Recon has a hole big enough to put a piece of paracord through for use as a lanyard.

Even with the white lens, the Recon is not very bright. Compared with the single AA cell Gerber tasklight I picked up a couple months ago in a combo pack with one of their Multitools, the Recon is much less powerful. It is useful for small, closeup tasks, but I'd want more light if I was using it to walk around in the dark. In contrast, the task light I've had for awhile (no longer listed by Gerber but is very similar to this one, which is bright enough for navigating around in the dark. I attribute the difference in brightness to the task light's better reflector.

The task light supposedly has a burn time of 100 hours on one AA alkaline cell, while I can't find info on Gerber's page or in the packaging for run time.

One good feature is that the bezel has a flat on it which allows you to line up the red lens over the LED by feel before you turn it on, so you don't inadvertantly hose your night vision.

As with every other Gerber product I've handled or owned, the Recon's quality appears top-notch.

Although its utility is limited by low output, since it's so light the Recon could make a useful companion to a more powerful flashlight.

Ford recalls some pick ups and SUVs

I just found this via Yahoo:

Ford Motor Co. on Wednesday recalled 3.8 million pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles for a cruise control switch suspected of causing engine fires. It is the fifth largest auto industry recall in U.S. history.

Ford said the recall of 1994-2002 model-year vehicles includes the company's hot-selling F-150 pickup truck, Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator and Ford Broncos. The company said it would start sending out recall notices to vehicle owners immediately.

Crap, my Expedition is a '97. Looks like it'll be spending some time in the shop.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Comment spam

Damn asshole spammers are starting to spam my comments. I just activated the image verification feature, which'll require you to type a word displayed as an image into a form to verify that a human rather than some spambot is trying to comment.

Sorry 'bout that. Blame the asshole spammers.

Ham radio operators in action down South

From the Wall Street Journal:

With Hurricane Katrina having knocked out nearly all the high-end emergency communications gear, 911 centers, cellphone towers and normal fixed phone lines in its path, ham-radio operators have begun to fill the information vacuum. "Right now, 99.9% of normal communications in the affected region is nonexistent," says David Gore, the man operating the ham radio in the Monroe shelter. "That's where we come in."
So far, so good.

In an age of high-tech, real-time gadgetry, it's the decidedly unsexy ham radio -- whose technology has changed little since World War II -- that is in high demand in ravaged New Orleans and environs. The Red Cross issued a request for about 500 amateur radio operators -- known as "hams" -- for the 260 shelters it is erecting in the area. The American Radio Relay League, a national association of ham-radio operators, has been deluged with requests to find people in the region. The U.S. Coast Guard is looking for hams to help with its relief efforts.

I guess these people haven't seen any newer radios, like my Yaesu VX-5RS. The technology has change a lot, and not just the radios themselves. Aside from them, you now have Internet-linked repeaters like Echolink, IRLP, and eQSO to merge ham radio and VOIP.

Still, technical mistakes aside, it's nice to see ham radio getting some good press.