Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Tasty Finale to the Weekend

This morning J. and her mother took the girls down to Maryland, to see her grandmother. I got to do errands.

After getting back home I spent some time getting reacquainted with my Remington Woodsman 1985 Bullet Knife out back. I also sampled some Latakia pipe tobacco from a tin I picked up on closeout for $2.00 at Holt's. Pretty nice.

Later on we barbecued some steaks. I had a WTF? moment when our gas grill would only half light. The left side fired up OK but not the right. I could hear the gas when I opened up the right side but it wouldn't light. It may be escaping before it gets to the right half of the burner bar. I've already replaced the burner bar and igniter once, and the replacement igniter died on me earlier this year. We've had the grill about five years and even though I keep it covered, parts seem to deteriorate a bit rapidly. I'm not going to sink any more money into it. I think it'll be time for a new gas grill next Spring.

With the gas grill on the fritz I uncovered the Coleman outdoor fireplace/grill and got a bag of charcoal out of the shed. I'd rather cook on a charcoal fire anyway.

My steak was round eye that had been marinating in Jim Beam Bourbon all afternoon. There was just a little bit of Bourbon taste but it helped keep the meat from drying out. For J. and the girls I cooked up a couple T-bones (one is leftover), which had been sprinkled with Lowrey's Seasoned Salt and garlic powder. I washed down my steak with a Hornsby's Hard Cider, a six-pack of which I picked up earlier today.

Not a bad way to finish the weekend at all.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Home Theater

I'm stuck at home today with a cold, or maybe allergies. It's hard to tell. The unusually warm weather we've had so far this Fall have wrought havoc with my allergies.

Partial consolation for dealing with the congestion and snot is that I get to use my new home theater setup. We got an Olevia 227 LCD HDTV a couple of months ago. Picture quality is pretty good but the audio sucks. There's an omnipresent hum at low volumes. When this got to be really annoying I went online and did some research, and it's apparently a design defect. There's inadequate RF shielding between the LCD backlight and the built-in speakers. The only was to get rid of the hum is to use external speakers. (I did email Olevia customer support but they blew me off. This will be the last Olevia product we ever buy.)

Naturally, to use external speakers you need to use an amplifier. I've had a set of Polk Audio bookshelf speakers that I bought in 1990, but didn't have a modern amp. My old amp and tuner were 1979 vintage Onkyos (given to me by an uncle after he upgraded his stereo system). They still sound good but the speaker selector needed repair and of course, didn't have a remote control.

When it comes to home AV components naturally the sky's the limit on how much you can spend. But, I didn't want to spend a ton of money for a new receiver. After doing some research, on Saturday I ordered an Onkyo TX-8222 receiver from Crutchfield. (I bought a couple car stereos from them in the early 1990s and liked the customer experience. This time it was just as good.)

The new receiver came yesterday. Considering I ordered it on a Saturday that's basically overnight, even though it was shipped UPS Ground. YMMV if you live further away.

I set it up with my DVD/VCR player, and cable set top box pumping their audio directly into the receiver, so they don't first pass through the TV. (I did try it the latter way at first but volume was unacceptably low.) With the direct-to-receiver configuration, though, the system sounds great.

Onkyo sells an iPod dock as an accessory. I'm considering buying one since most of my music is on my iPod, and this would be a very convenient way of listening to it at home. OTH, I am toying around with eventually picking up a Mac Mini to add to the system. The Olevia has a VGA input which would handle the Mini's video, and I'd just need an audio cable to run from the computer to the receiver. This would allow me to listen to and view everything I have in iTunes on my TV, along with home movies I make in iDVD. And with a Bluetooth keyboard, I could surf the Internet on a 27" monitor.

But I digress.

Onkyo supplies an AM loop antenna and an FM wire antenna. Reception is OK but nothing great, depending on the station. I'll probably build up a better FM antenna.

So far I'm pretty pleased with the Onkyo TX-8222. It's a good, basic home stereo receiver. It has 6 audio inputs and built-in AM/FM stereo with 50W per channel, which is sufficient to provide clear audio at any volume I'll be using. It doesn't have fancy surround sound but the audio sure blows away any system I've ever owned. The warranty on parts and labor is two years. For under $200 delivered it's a great value.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Vehicular Preps

I have a post today about some additional vehicular preps for winter. Check it out.

Updates to The Shooter's Bar

I updated The Shooter's Bar yesterday, including an addition for Indiana.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Off to Denver

Today I'm flying out to Denver, CO for a meeting tomorrow at CableLabs. I'll be flying home Wednesday.

Last night I went through my laptop bag to make sure I don't have any dangerous contraband, like my multitools. Grrrr. Since I can't stand being without at least a pocketknife for more than a day, my Victorinox SwissTool RS, Pioneer Farmer, and my Benchmade Griptilian were placed in a bag which I'll check.

I wonder how many checked bags can be attributed to the stupid ban on pocketknives? I can carry pointed scissors in my carry on bag, as long as the blades are less than 4 inches (~10 cm) in length. So why can't I carry a Swiss Army Knife?

In the aftermath of 9/11, who thinks that it would be possible to hijack an airliner with a knife? The would-be hijacker would get beaten to a pulp by the other passengers.

It's security theater plain and simple.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Couple Posts at My Other Blog

I have a couple of new posts over on the Survival and Emergency Preparedness Blog. One's on my new Valiant Trading Company Large Survival Golok, and the other is on Mainstay Ration Bars.

Check 'em out.

Friday, October 12, 2007

PA School Massacre Plot ... Or Not?

By now you may have heard the news story about a disturbed teen being arrested for plotting a school massacre in Plymouth Meeting, PA. He's said to have an "arsenal." I have a particular interest in this, since I've lived in Plymouth Meeting since 1979 and graduated from PWHS in 1986.

Something stinks about this. Consider the following:

  • The "arsenal" consisted of mostly airsoft, i.e., airguns that shoot plastic pellets.
  • The DA has stated that while he believes the kid is disturbed, no attack was imminent or even truly in the works.
  • The kid may have solicited another student to help him. I'd really like to know what he said to someone else, if anything.
  • The mom owned a couple of real guns but didn't even keep them at her home.

This morning, we hear that the mom was charged with several felonies: endangering the welfare of a child, unlawful transfer of firearms, and aiding the possession of a firearm by a minor.

Heck, I had a much more impressive, real arsenal by the time I was 14. I am far from unusual even in this day and age. I wonder how many parents could be charged with the above counts because they allowed minors access to firearms. I bet it would be in the millions.

It's almost as if the kid got overheard talking smack like most 14 year olds do, someone overreacted, so he got arrested. The DA then decided there wasn't a real threat, but now the dog and pony show is started and to finish it, they have to charge somebody for something. Another interesting tidbit: DA Castor is currently running for Plymouth Township Commissioner, so there may be a political motivation.

I sure hope that the mom isn't getting Knifonged.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fred Thompson Quote From the Debate

I didn't get a chance to watch yesterday's debate but someone posted the following FDT quote on Arfcom:

I don't buy the concept that any reduction in taxes is lost revenues to the government. The tax payers haven't lost it, it's in their pocket. They know exactly where to find it. We shouldn't confuse the wealth of government with the Wealth of Nations.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Couple New Knife Posts

I have a couple of new posts over on the Survival & Emergency Preparedness Blog about knives. Check 'em out.