Representing

Whenever some gangster / gangsta tool is confronted by the police, it seems de rigueur for said idiot to “represent” (i.e. show no fear, but indeed the utmost disrespect towards the “po-po”). This usually ends with said idiot getting shot, or at least having a paradiddle drumbeat played on his fool head by a cop’s nightstick. [Pause to let the cheering die down.]

Well, in planning my upcoming invasion of errr sabbatical in Britishland, my several Texas friends have berated me most foully for not representing… Texas. Apparently this means showing up at Heathrow in full Texas regalia (minus the nickel Colt Single Action Army revolver, of course, which is the one thing I would like to take with me, but of course cannot do lest some Brit rozzer ends up playing a paraddiddle with his nightstick on my fool head).

For those not familiar with Texas folkways, allow me to offer a simple explanation. Texas regalia is (at least) a 10-gallon 9x beaver Stetson, a silver belt buckle which could serve alternative duty as a riot shield or serving dish, a tasseled jacket in the manner of John Voight in Midnight Cowboy, a string tie, something called “boot-cut” jeans, and intricately-stitched cowboy boots with leather in at least two (and three is better) different colors, with silver toe guards and fanciful stitching.

I don’t even own a pair of jeans.

So today I went out shopping for what I consider the least visually offensive of the above list of deplorable regalia items. Of course, sending me out to buy this stuff is like sending Lewis Black out to buy an assault rifle, but what the hell: anything to avoid being a bad ambassador for the Great State of Texas, right?  After a full day’s shopping, I came home with a pair of these:

Yes, it’s the [deep breath] “Ariat Western Heritage Round Toe” style, as pictured, in one color (black) and with what is regarded in Texas as “conservative” stitching. I’m pretty sure I’m only going to be wearing them at night, in a place with subdued or no lighting.

This, by the way, is why Sunday’s post is so woefully tardy. Finding a decent pair of cowboy boots in “Stubby Extra Wide” is one hell of a chore, especially when it seems that the only styles available in that rather esoteric size look like the cat puked on them (no offense to cats):

Good grief. All I wanna know is: when did cowboy boots start being designed by Elton John?

I did find a very nice-looking style, but put the sample back on the shelf like it was an angry rattlesnake when I saw the price. Apparently it was made of leftover skin from Joan Rivers’ last facelift.

So I ended up with a pair of the Ariats, which seems to be a decent brand from all accounts. (I really couldn’t afford Justin or Tony Lama, which judging from the prices must be individually hand-made by the gnarled fingers of some old guy who’s worked at Justin since 1879 or something.)

Anyway, as I said earlier, all this is to excuse the extreme tardiness of today’s post.

Tomorrow we’ll be looking at shotguns, something I actually know a little bit about.

 

 

Random Beauties

One of the great things about being a polymath is that I may be searching for something, and along the way find something else of equal or even greater interest in the search. Before this Intarwebz thing came along, such delightful discoveries usually came at the library, where I’d be looking for a particular book, and then, while walking down the aisle looking for it, I’d suddenly find another book on the same topic which looked more interesting than the original object of my search. A twofer! And, of course, checking out two books instead of one was a bonus.

Even as a callow yoof, I did the same thing at home. I’d be looking up something in the Encyclopedia Britannica (of course we had a set of encyclopediae — didn’t everyone?) and be flipping through the pages when suddenly — what? What was that? And off I’d go along a tributary of discovery, finding out something of equal or even greater interest than my original quest. (My younger Readers may not know what the hell I’m talking about, at this point: “Library? Encyclopedia? What the hell is the old fart talking about?” to which I can only suggest that they ask their parents to explain.)

Nowadays, of course, we have the Internet; and while there’s this cornucopia of information out there, there’s also a lot of crap which sadly, neither informs or educates, but simply obfuscates or misleads. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.

The other day I was looking for some biographical details on someone (forgotten whom), when I came across this little vision of loveliness:

Her name is Roxy Shahidi, she’s half-Iranian, and apparently she is in the cast of some forgettable British TV show (aren’t they all?). Whatever. Of course, I had to find some other examples of her pulchritude, just to make sure that wasn’t a lucky pic. Oh, good grief.

Sadly, of course, this is where a little too much information can spoil things: apparently young Roxy is a committed vegan, ergo as crazy as a sackful of cats. (I know, I know, she’s a British actress; can lunacy be far behind?)

But you have to admit: for a random discovery, she’s quite lovely.


Afterthought: I just remembered how I stumbled on Miss Roxy. I was searching for some information about American actress Sarah Shahi:

Coincidentally, Miss Shahi is also half-Iranian, so maybe that’s how the link came about. I don’t know if she is a vegan.

Same Old Question, Different Time — The Rimfires

New Reader Wally T. asks me the perennial question:

“What do you consider a minimum number of guns for home- and self defense for me and my wife, and which guns would you recommend?”

I remember vaguely doing one or two posts on this very topic many years ago, but as the title of this one suggests, times are different so maybe, just maybe, ’tis time to revisit the question. (Wally included a couple of personal details about his family which are not relevant to the topic except that his wife hates heavy-recoiling firearms — won’t even touch them, in fact — so whatever I suggest should take that into account.) So here goes. This post will deal with the must-have rimfire (.22 Long Rifle) guns; the other options will follow in later posts.

1a.) .22 Rifle:
As Longtime Readers know, I have always considered a .22 rifle to be not a gun, but a household item like a frying pan or microwave oven — i.e. every home should have one — and .22 ammo is a household commodity like flour, sugar or salt. If you are starting from scratch in your home defense equipment, do not think the little .22 rifle is inadequate. Certainly, if your house is outside a town and therefore prone to critter invasions, a .22 rifle is a must — and if it can be fired rapidly (e.g. a semi-automatic or pump-action), that’s even better. Ditto home defense: even the most hardened goblin is going to change his plans if you or your wife has just popped two or three .22 bullets into his midsection. Here’s the thing: he may not die immediately after being thus shot (as opposed to getting a 12-gauge blast to the chest), but make no mistake about it, without immediate medical attention or else astounding luck, he will die from three rounds of .22 in his body. The .22 rifle is not the optimal home defense weapon, but if there’s nothing else, it’s far better than a baseball bat or tennis racket.
My recommendation for a .22 rifle is either a magazine-fed semi-auto like the Ruger 10/22, tube-fed rifle like the Marlin Model 60, or else a pump-action rifle like the Henry:

 

The first two collectively have sold more than any other two guns on the planet, and the third should be equally as popular, but isn’t (it’s kinda spendy, but that’s quality for you).

And seeing as you’ve just bought 5,000 rounds of .22 Long Rifle ammo (you have, haven’t you?), you might as well get the next must-have item.

1b.) .22 Semi-Auto Pistol or Double-Action Revolver:
The nice thing about a little .22 handgun is that it’s handy [sic], especially if your wife is proficient in its use, because it’s light,  has no recoil to speak of, and like the .22 rifle, can serve as a back-up self-defense option. Again, a goblin coming into your bedroom will change his plans when hit in the face with a couple rounds of .22 Long Rifle fired by your wife while you’re getting your bedside gun (see a later post) out of the drawer.
A compelling reason to have both a .22 rifle and a .22 handgun is that they are fun — and also good practice tools if you can’t afford to spend gobs of money on self-defense ammo. I leave it to personal choice as to whether you get a pistol or revolver, although I lean towards the semi-auto.
My recommendations for a pistol and revolver are either the Ruger Mk IV (see here as to why it’s my top pick), Browning Buckmark URX Standard (better trigger), and for a double-action revolver, the S&W Model 63 (because of its 8-round cylinder capacity):

And just so we’re all clear on this: these recommendations are not comprehensive, nor are they definitive. There are hundreds of choices out there that can fill these two slots quite adequately, and as with all things, personal choice, price and preference (how it “feels” in the hand or in the shoulder) should be the principal part of of your final decision. Here, for example, is my Ruger Mk IV, in the 22/45 configuration:

I would humbly suggest, however, that none of the above recommendations will disappoint.

Next: home defense shotguns.


Please note:
There is a recall notice for all Ruger Mk IV pistols with serial numbers lower than 50xxxx
.

 

 

Thoughts From The Road

Been back a couple days from my road trip, and now that I’ve washed the dust off, a couple of salient observations have suggested themselves to me.

I hate, absolutely loathe interstate highway travel.

My trip was to Colorado, and I took the familiar route of US 380 west, US 287 north, and after a brief trip along I-40 west, US 87 north, and I-25 north to my eventual destination, Denver.

I was actually looking forward to the part of the trip from Raton NM to Pueblo because unlike most other interstates, that section of I-25 passes through some extraordinary scenery. Sadly, I spent a lot of time looking at said scenery because a rock fall had covered the northbound side of the highway and we were reduced to crawling along at walking pace in a single lane along the southbound road. Once clear of the construction area, I thought my problems were over, except that from Pueblo all the way to my destination, the traffic was the same density as rush-hour on the various Dallas interstates, i.e. parking-lot speed.

So coming back, I turned off at Castle Rock and after a short drive east, found my old friend US 287.

Unfortunately, US 287 outside northwest Texas is terrible: a two-lane road with only occasional (and too-short) overtaking lanes, and which was almost as bad as an interstate in terms of stressful driving. All the way through southern Colorado and the Oklahoma Panhandle was white-knuckle driving, which was only bearable because I had set myself no time deadlines for my return, and could spend long stretches behind 18-wheeler trucks without ever feeling the need to overtake them. And then I crossed the border into Texas.

I love US 287 in Texas.

If I could wave a magic wand, I would abolish all interstate highways and make them all like US 287 in Texas. Here’s why.

It’s a four-lane divided highway. This means that while the speed limit is 75mph, you have to be aware of the road and traffic because there are “turnarounds” from the left lane (with an added left-turn lane so traffic is not obstructed), and frequent intersections — even driveways — so once again, ya gotta pay attention.

Best of all, though, are the frequent signs which say “Left lane may only be used for overtaking”. And the Texas state troopers enforce this little rule with gusto, you betcha, which means that people (even truckers) actually drive like Germans, and only use the left lane for overtaking. After the horrorshow of a two-lane road and the earlier interstate highways, travel was not only easy but enjoyable. (A simple indicator of this is the fact that for hours, I had a spoken conversation with myself about various topics, in French — which means that I was completely relaxed.)

Another good thing about US 287 in Texas is that until you get closer to the DFW area, you don’t bypass the many little towns, you go through them. You know that you are approaching a town because there are speed-limit change warnings posted as the limit drops from 75 to 60 to 50 to 40 and finally to 35 within the city limits, and follow the reverse order once you leave town. Why is this a Good Thing? Because what happens is that you slow down figuratively as well as literally, and stopping for gas, food, or even just to stretch your legs is not the same ordeal as when hurtling along an interstate. Here’s one such town:

Dare I say this also gives one a chance to try local eateries such as K-Bob’s, instead of the same chain crap along interstates? (Yes, I did; an excellent steak, perfect baked potato and wonderful cole slaw, all for $12. I left an $8 tip for Sandy, which made her day.)

When I first arrived in the United States, I drove along many roads like these (usually with my friend Trevor), and trips like this made me fall hopelessly, helplessly in love with America. This last trip? It happened all over again, only more so.

I cannot express how good a thing this whole approach is when you’re driving long distances, and no doubt it added to the fact that I arrived home completely relaxed and at ease, and not with the frazzled thank-God-that’s-over! nerves of a typical road trip on interstate highways.

As my Loyal Readers know, at the end of the month I’m off to Britishland for an extended sabbatical which will deposit me back in the United States only in early January. As soon as winter is over, probably in April, I’m going to take another road trip, this time from Plano to Bar Harbor, Maine* and back (along a different route). I will only use the interstate highway to get me clear of Texas and Arkansas to my first stop in Memphis (because boring, done it many times). Thereafter there will be no interstate highways in the plan except for unavoidable things like mountain passes, and even then, I’ll try to find an alternate route. Five days up, five days driving along the Maine coast, five days back. Maybe more, I don’t care.

William Least Heat-Moon once wrote a book, Blue Highways, about this kind of travel. Well, from now on, all my highways will be blue — because I intend to fall in love with America all over again, and again, and again.


*Why Bar Harbor? Why not?

 

Well, Duh

Apparently, the world is agog about the ingredients of Nutella, the sickly-sweet-chocolate-y spread beloved by Euros. (They put it on their bread or toast for breakfast, as if anyone needed confirmation of Euro-decadence.) Here’s the offending pic at Reddit:

I am a little iffy about the proportions as shown — but only of the cocoa, because I’m not sure that so small an amount of the stuff could make the whole thing as dark-brown as it is. Whatever. I don’t like Nutella, possibly because I don’t really like the taste of hazelnuts. 

So, for the first time ever, I am going to reveal to the world the sooper-seekrit recipe for my own favorite spread. (Be warned, it is highly addictive, super-fattening, and probably causes all sorts of health problems, not to mention fainting fits among dieticians and weight-loss gurus.)

Here are the two ingredients (no substitutions allowed):

  

The mix proportions are approximately 4:1 (Jif : syrup), although obviously you can adjust that to make the spread more or less sweet. Adding syrup alleviates the dryness of peanut butter and adds just the necessary sweetness.

The optimal delivery method for this variation of PB&J (or peanut-butter-syrup, as I call it) is on lightly-buttered white bread, or even deadlier, on lightly-buttered white toast. I sometimes make myself a sweet snack by using a heaped tablespoon of Jif with just a tiny squirt (or teaspoon) of Golden Syrup. It also makes a superb dipping sauce for Thai Chicken Satay.

Here’s what it looks like in its final form:

For reasons unknown, Lyle’s Golden Syrup is not commonly found in U.S. supermarkets (Kroger carries it, as does H.E.B. down here in Texas), but it can be ordered online. It also comes in glass jars or tins. Because I hate maple syrup (it makes my throat close up, similar in effect to cigarette smoke), I’ve eaten Lyle’s either with peanut butter or by itself on bread/toast and on waffles since I was a child, and my life has been all the richer for it.

In the interests of Extremely Stupid People Who Need This Shit Explained To Them, this spread contains peanuts and sugar (NO!!!!) so if you are allergic to either, don’t eat it. Ditto the bread if you’re gluten-averse. Sucks to be you.

Final warning: if you become addicted to this stuff, as I am, don’t come crying to me when your weight balloons or you become pre-diabetic. That’s like complaining to me of your hangover when you follow my advice to drink single-malt Scotch, and get wasted on it.

And for the record: it tastes far better than that Nutella shit.