K-Cups In Britishland


No, this is not about some Brit tart with huge breasts — larger still than a “GGG” cup size — oh no, this is a serious post. Reader Chris C. sends me this news:

I remember you mentioned something about having a Keurig K-Cup brewer — I have one too. I also remember you mentioned something about not being able to find one in 220-240V for UK and other non-North American use.

I’ve actually found an option:

Stateside Coffee (Bidford)

They have the Keurig K140 which I think is the older version of the K145 commercial brewer that you can find in Office Depot right now. The price isn’t fantastic (£150), but given the dearth of options, it’s at least a workable one.

I don’t know about the K140/145, but I used to have the larger K150 which is an excellent coffeemaker.

(Daughter stole it from me and it’s still working, some five years since I bought it.)

So for all my Brit Readers who want to escape the Nespresso Matrix, here’s an option. As I see it, however, the only problem is the poor choice of K-cup coffee available Over There; even a cursory look through amazon.co.uk yields few options — although the Green Mountain coffee isn’t bad, it’s not Dunkin Donuts (which they may get, though, if you pester them for it. And the price isn’t too bad, about £1 per cup).

And for those of you Murkins who are looking for a more rugged version of the Keurig for your travels, Reader Chris suggests the CoffeeBoxx (which accepts K-cups):

Tactical coffeemaker? Kim likes, but the price is a little yowzer. Still (as any fule kno) you always pay more for mil-spec, so it may be worth it.

Many thanks, Chris.

I have the best Readers of any blog on the Internet. And now I think I’ll go and make me another cup of coffee, on my Keurig.

Then I’ll look at pics of Casey Batchelor on the Internet.

Range Report: Federal Range & Field .22 LR

As promised, I went to the range (DFW Gun Range, my all-time favorite) to test some “new” .22 ammo, to whit, the new budget Federal Range & Field variants.

So here are the two we’re going to be looking at:

and its hollowpoint brother:

Federal claims that the two are ballistically identical, so that’s what we’re going to test, fired through  my trusty Marlin 880SQ — but on a benchrest, not a bipod:

Added, in response to a comment below: I always run a boresnake through the barrel between testing different brands; then I fire a couple of fouling shots into the backstop, and then continue with the test. It’s not a “cleaning” (in the sense of a full field-strip cleaning), but for me it suffices.

First, a quick test of the zero, using my go-to CCI Mini-Max 36-grain hollowpoints as a benchmark, in a 5-shot string (and point of aim for all rounds was the center of the diamond):

No problem, with a called flier. They shoot a tad high because they’re light 36-grain bullets. So a couple clicks down on the scope, and I was ready to start the test. First came the Federal 40-grain “Range” ammo:

Ahem. That, dear Readers, is a 5-shot group, the very first time I’d ever shot this ammo. I’m pretty sure that someone else could do better than that, but not by much.

Now, the 38-grain “Field” variant:

Honestly, I didn’t do the ammo justice because the guy in the next lane was shooting an AK with a muzzle brake, and the concussion / bright flash was causing me to jerk the trigger as I tried to fit the string in between his shots. Failure. So I waited till he was reloading, and tried the 38-gr rounds again:

Much better, with the called flier on the left. Yes, as I suspected, the lighter 38gr Field hollowpoint bullets do strike a teeny bit higher than the 40-gr Range solids, but not by much, and it’s a good, solid group nevertheless.

I shot both ammo types a dozen or so more times each (without any significant differences from the initial groups), and I can honestly say that I think the Federal Range 40gr lead roundnose ammo is the bee’s knees — and its low price makes it a definite entry into the “plink all day” category. The Field 38gr copper hollowpoints? I’m going to hold off for a while and maybe do a little more testing — maybe compare it to other .22 hollowpoint ammo. It doesn’t seem to offer as tight a group, but as I said, I’m going to give it another session to make sure.

Finally, let me offer the usual caveats: these results came from my rifle, my scope and my level of shooting skill. Your results may differ — and in fact, they probably will, so it’s up to you. Rimfire guns are also notoriously picky as to their “favorite” ammo, and what works beautifully in one rifle will be awful in another. The Marlin 880SQ seems to love the Federal Range 40gr LRN ammo — and as proof I’ll show you another target result, using Winchester Super-X 40gr LRN this time:

I have a jillion rounds of the Super-X stuff because I got a honking deal on it about a decade ago and bought accordingly. I normally use this ammo exclusively in my Taurus pump-action because that’s what I plink with, but the grouping above is typical for this ammo in my guns: quite some variation between cartridges from the same box (which didn’t happen with either of the Range & Field types). A variation doesn’t matter when I’m looking for minute-of-Coke-can, but it does if I’m doing some serious shooting.

Anyway: my conclusion is that this new budget ammo from Federal performs much better than a budget cartridge can be expected to. Give it a shot for yourselves.

Up next: Federal Automatch .22, which should arrive in the next few days. Watch this space.

*Reminder: I get no kickbacks from any ammo manufacturer whatsoever for these tests. I perform them on an ad hoc basis, according to my whim or choice. Mostly, I buy the ammo for myself; but if anyone wants me to test ammo and sends me a couple boxes, I’ll do it gladly with the proviso that I will be impartial and outspoken. If I think the ammo sucks, I’ll say so, using those words; and if it’s excellent, I’ll say that too.

Not Wanted Here

Following the anti-tourist demonstrations in Majorca last week comes this new outburst of hatred for tourists — this time, sadly, in one of my favorite cities in the whole world: Amsterdam.

AMSTERDAM has launched a city centre crackdown against holidaymakers as anti-tourism riots gather pace across Europe.
Souvenir shops and bicycle hire, as well as fast food outlets boasting ice-creams, waffles and cheese, have now been blocked from opening in the Dutch city.
Officials say the shutdown is in a bid to stop “mass tourism” ruining Amsterdam’s “magnificent streets”.
It is the latest city to hit back at holidaymakers, with rioters and protesters intimidating tourists in Spain and Italy claiming they are ruining the country.
Mayor of Amsterdam, Kajsa Ollongren, said: “Tourists are very welcome, but we want to avoid mass tourism taking over our magnificent streets, canals and neighbourhoods.”

Ms Ollongren added: “We want to make sure the city centre remains attractive and liveable for the residents of Amsterdam.”

Let’s be honest, here. “Mass tourism” is a euphemism for “masses of drunken foreigners, especially Brits” because like Marbella and Ibiza, Amsterdam has become a destination — this time for bachelor parties — with ultra-cheap airfares and ferry fares making it less expensive, in many cases, for partygoers to travel there than to, say, hire a bus to take the party from Manchester to Margate. And with the high cost of hotel rooms in Amsterdam, the drunks don’t stay overnight — at least, not in hotel rooms: they simply drink themselves into a stupor, pass out in the streets and parks (Amsterdam has a very tolerant police force), and then catch the morning flight back to Britain, severely hungover (or still drunk). Here’s an example — and imagine if this happened at your favorite restaurant:

So I can appreciate the Amsterdam government’s point. Like the Balearic Islands, there has to be a point where you draw the line and say, as the mayor did: we’re going to put our residents first. And for those who don’t know this, Amsterdam, unlike tourist meccas such as Paris or London, is actually a tiny city: you can walk it flat in three days — I have — and pretty much see all the sights (unless you’re an art aficionado and spend hours in the Rijksmuseum, as I also have). So yes, it’s easy for the city of Amsterdam to be swamped and overwhelmed by tourists — more tourists than they’ve normally had to deal with in the past — and especially by tourists who act like the foul slobs above instead of like well-mannered guests.

And let’s be clear about this: if the wonderful, civilized and tolerant Dutch people are getting pissed off about these invasions, then things have really deteriorated.

I’m sad about this because in the past I’ve tried constantly to be the absolute antithesis of the above-mentioned unspeakables: I’m quiet, try to fit in by acting like a local, eat the local foods and in general, be a traveler more than a tourist. In other words, I’ve always been aware that I’m not a local, and there under sufferance. But thanks to the bad behavior of some revolting louts, it looks like I’m going to be caught in whatever net the various tourist cities erect to preserve their sanity.

Which sucks.

I love to travel, and it pains me to think that one of my great pleasures in life is going to be restricted because of the baleful outcome of the coarsening of Western society.

Update: I forgot to include the official anthem of Amsterdam. (Okay, it isn’t; but it should be.)

Waste Of Time

So I went for my annual checkup last Wednesday, and caused the usual response from Dr. Whatsit: “Bugger off and stop wasting my time; I have sick people to look after.” (Oh, and I’d lost nearly ten pounds avoirdupois since my last check-up — most, I suspect, since I returned from Britishland and stopped consuming all those pies, fish & chips, Turkish Delight and Wadworth 6X.) But that’s not the topic of this post.

All the staff were wearing pink instead of their normal blue scrubs, so of course I had to ask the (stupid) question: “Why are you all wearing pink?” and met with the obvious response: “To raise awareness of breast cancer.”

FFS: is there a sentient human being living on this planet who isn’t aware of breast cancer?

The PGA golfers (male and female) wore those silly little lapel ribbons; the NFL players, back before they became unpatriotic little shits, also wore them; and the entire South African (male) cricket team wore all-pink uniforms during an international competition a couple years back. It looked like a Mary fucking Kay convention with cricket bats and helmets, not to mention gay.

By now, I think that if you wanted to raise awareness of breast cancer, you’d have to charter a skywriting aircraft to fly over the jungles of Borneo or the Amazon, because those poor ignorant savages don’t play golf or watch football and probably don’t know the first thing about cricket (thus joining 99% of Americans, but that’s a topic for another time).

What Americans do know a great deal about is breast cancer — but basically, that awareness is worth exactly diddly, because as with so much doubleplus feel-goody bullshit, you can’t do anything with that information — other than to give money to the American Cancer Society, which already has more money than the average Central European nation, but which always seems to need more for… what, exactly? It’s not like the ACS owns cancer hospitals (like the Shriners); no, it seems as though the ACS needs more money to “make people aware” of a disease which everybody fucking knows about already. So basically, raising awareness really means “raising money”. I don’t have a problem with this, I just want people to be honest about their motives.

Oh, and get this: death rates from breast cancer are down 39% since 1989 (from the ACS website, no less). No doubt it’s because of increased awareness of cancer, not vastly improved medications and treatment. (And yes, I know the ACS funds research into the thing — I just think that they could fund even more if they stopped all these timewasting “awareness” drives.)

Cancer is a horrible, lousy, terrible disease. We all know this — some of us, like me, from first-hand or immediate second-hand experience of it — and honestly, I think we can stop with the childish pink ribbons and such because we run the risk of trivializing it.

And by the way: death rates from breast cancer among women are about 21.2 per 100,000.

For men, the death rate from prostate cancer is about 20.1 per 100,000 — statistically about the same as female breast cancer — yet I’ll bet that more people are “aware” of breast cancer than of prostate cancer. I wonder why that is?

Always Classy

Question: How can a burlesque dancer and sometime-nude model be called classy?

Answer: When she’s called Dita Von Teese. Here’s another strong contender for Kim’s Online Object Of Desire:

…and oh yeah, she’s not shy about taking it all off, either:

Yeah, I know… not that classy. But remember: burlesque is her job; how she looks when she’s not performing is what I’m talking about.

Update: I know she’s only in her mid-40s. Hey, life is all about those little compromises, right?

Squares, Cubes And Blocks

When I was reading this article about Graham Norton’s beach house, several things struck me. First of all, I marveled at how anyone would want to spend a couple of million for a beach house which overlooks the English Channel — let’s be charitable and say that it can be used as intended for about twelve (non-consecutive) weeks of the year — and for a change, one Daily Mail commenter to the article got it right: it belongs in Malibu, not Kent.

But of course, what struck me the hardest was the house’s extraordinary ugliness.

Now I’ve written before about my distaste if not outright hatred for modernist architecture, so I’m not going to repeat it here. But in this particular case, what amazes me is how little the house is part of the milieu: with only a few modifications, it would fit in quite well with similar structures on the other side of the Channel; only those were the concrete bunkers of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall, built to repel an Allied invasion of Festung Europa.

The ugliness isn’t just skin-deep, by the way: it extends to the interior as well.

Now I know that many people like this kind of interior design because it’s “clean” or something. To me, it’s not a design to live in, but meant for display — like those awful Architect’s Digest spreads which look more like museums than homes. I could no more live in such a place than in a hospital room — now there’s “clean” for you.

And yes, here comes the inevitable disclaimer: taste is a personal thing, one man’s ugly is another’s gorgeous, beauty is in the eye etc. etc. Of course it’s personal. I’m not saying that places like this should be blown up and replaced with thatched cottages.

I’m just saying I wouldn’t shed any tears over it.