Harvey, The Beginning

West End of the Galveston Seawall

We had a light rain overnight, then a short but colorful storm before the sunrise.  Our lights blinked off momentarily.  Equalities computer rebooted,  mine didn’t. It’s the first of many times I’m sure.

Equality and I went out to get a little air and see whats happening around and about.  There aren’t a lot of people around, but even Houston isn’t reporting much traffic.  All the stores were open, and our local Randalls is well stocked with water, milk,  bread, and eggs. We just picked up some fruit.

We went to the west end of the seawall to see what the Gulf is doing.  Pretty gray light rain and lots of waves.  Some waves were breaking over the seawall.  Although not very inviting it wasn’t very threatning yet either.

The tidal surge is predicted to be 2 to 4 feet. not bad.  12 to 16 inches of rain, still not too bad.  Tropical storm conditions until Tuesday, Yuch. NOOA radio is calling for hurricane conditions on Tuesday, none of the other media is really claiming this.

It looks like we will fare better than those on the coast SouthWest of us or for those who are in Houston.

Harvey is Coming.

Dawn on Galveston

Harvey is coming, and as usual, his arrival is full of hype and breathless reporting locally and nationally.   so far it is still just a depression and hasn’t formed into an official tropical storm. Yet.

A Hurricane Watch and Storm Surge Watch is posted for much of the coast of Texas, as Tropical Depression Harvey treks northwestwards at 9 mph over the Gulf of Mexico. An Air Force hurricane hunter plane found that Harvey had reorganized into a tropical cyclone on Wednesday morning, with a large, disorganized closed surface circulation and top winds to 35 mph. Harvey is expected to intensify into a strong tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane that will bring dangerous flooding rains in excess of 10” to Texas late this week. This Hurricane Watch is the first for any part of Texas since Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Precipitation Prediction.

Landfall is expected to be near Corpus Christi. pretty far away.  The thing with this storm is that it is unorganised and expected to move very slowly.  It’s expected to drop a lot of rain. What it also means is that we don’t expect much in the way of hurricane force winds or an overwelming tidal surge. Just a lot of rain over 3 or 4 days. This isn’t going to be an Ike or a Rita at least in this area.

We have a personal policy of evacuation and doing it early under any serious threat. Harvey so far poses no such threat to us. Galveston is an Island flat and exposed to the Gulf of Mexico. Real tidal surges and hurricane force winds are dangerous to us, but we can handle lots of rain pretty well,   Rain will pretty much just run off into the Gulf.  The real threat is to the Mainland, Houston is flat and lots of poorly drained areas. 10 inches or more of rain and there will be flooding of highways and neighbourhoods.  There is no place for the water to go.

So how bad will it get in Galveston?  Mostly it’s gonna be wet and miserable. We plan on staying home unless there is a good break in the weather. If we do venture out it probably won’t be off Island. With this much rain we are likely to lose power, hopefully, it will be momentary.  The likely hood of us losing power isn’t so much a reflection on the severity of Harvey, but the unreliable power we have on the Island. As long as there aren’t any widespread power outages on the Mainland any power outages will be brief.  Long term power outages are awfully uncomfortable here.  Losing TV, lights and internet isn’t so bad, but not having air conditioning in Texas in August would be very uncomfortable.

Prepping:

We want to Sams club and picked up a few things. a case of 28 bottles of spring water. The same water we normally drink.  Some canned chicken meat mayo. beer and wine.  Got some eggs and cheese at the grocery stores.  Both cars are topped off just in case we decide later to evacuate. I have several flashlights and lamps that are rechargeable, and have them all topped off.  Download a couple of Kindle books.  I have a radio with new batteries. I think we are prepared pretty well, plenty of food.  I sometimes wish I had a generator though.

 

Ruger Gunsite Scout (.308)

The Ruger Gunsite Scout (GSR) has been out for 6 years now. There are lots of good reviews out on it. What follows isn’t so much a review but just a few observations about the gun that I own. My own GSR is a stainless steel 18-inch barrel with a laminate stock.

Stainless Scout with 5 rnd PMAG and Thread Protector on the 18 inch Barrel

The late great Colonel Jeff Cooper defined the concept of the scout rifle as ” one gun to own if you only have one.” He also warned, “Beware the man with one gun, for he probably knows how to use it.”   There has been controversy about the concept of one gun for all purposes along with the concerns whether it is very good at anything in specific.

The 18″ barrel qualifies it as a carbine. it’s short lightweight and effective with the .308  chambering.  It’s light weight with the ghost ring adjustable rear aperture sight and a non-glare, protected blade front sight allows for quick make ready aiming. When equipped with a low powered forward mounted scope, a fast aim with both eyes opened is easily accomplished.  The gun comes with an  Accurate-Mag 10 round steel box magazine.   The big magazine is conspicuous and awkward looking.  It is, however, functional. and trouble free. I purchased two extra plastic magazines a 10 Round Ruger and a 5  round Magpul Pmag. Neither are as obtrusive.

The GSR is a good shooter, I can shoot within a 3-inch circle. ( 1.5 moa)  a better shooter would be able to tighten it up a bit. I use the forward mounted Leupold FX II 2.5X28 mounted forward of the receiver. The scope is bright and sharp at 2.5 magnification. The scope is mounted using a see through mount which allows the usage of the ghost ring sights if I choose.  Choices are good.  The rifle is soft shooting for a .308, the butt has a soft foam butt pad,  There are also three spacers that can be installed in the butt to adjust the pull to the shooter.

While the concept of a Cooper defined scout rifle might be considered obsolete by some shooters and may consider the light weight AR15s a better choice as  the ” one gun to own if you only have one.” The RGS excels on certain properties. The .308 round is devastating and is capable of bringing down just about any large game in North America.  The bolt action is simple, reliable and practically failproof.  While a magazine exchange is quick and easy,  rounds can be singly loaded into the chamber because of the large open receiver..

This rifle now has 3 Mags.  The original Mag is a 10 rounder,. It is black and simple looking. It’s about 5″ long and extends 3 1/4″ below the stock.  Ruger is pretty proud of them.  They can be bought for around $50.00 dollars.  They are rugged and will probably last the life of the gun.

I also have  a 10 round Ruger polymer mag, These are a little shorter, 4″ in length and extend 2.5″ below the stock. It looks less cumbersome and it will be less likely to interfere while shooting prone. The magazine has a dust cover which can protect the rounds and magazine from collecting debris while carried in a pocket. The lips of the magazine are thin and somewhat flexible. This allows top loading of the magazine from the open chamber.  The next best thing to using stripper clips.  Ruger warns that loading a mag this way should be done sparingly because it could cause excess wear on the thin lips.  There are reports of uncapped magazines unloading rounds after the mags have been sitting a while.  Using the cap will prevent this from happening.  Despite the thin lips the magazines are well made, and I prefer them over the steel mags even though they cost about half as much as the steel ones, I think they are a better magazine

The third magazine for the scout is a 5 round Pmag. It’s a little bit shorter (3 1/4″) than the 10 round polymer Ruger It only extends about 1 3/4″ below the stock.  This makes for more comfortable carrying, through brush while hunting without snagging, The 5 rounder is actually a 6 rounder, There is a tab on the underside of the follower that can be cut off to enable 6th round loading  I found these at a couple dollars more at $27.00. A ten round version is two dollars more.

Left to Right: 5 round Magpul PMAG – Ruger OEM 20 Round Steel Mag – Ruger 10 Round Polymer Mag

Overall I prefer the plastic mags over the supplied steel ones.  Not only are they cheaper, they are smaller and quieter. They aren’t as loose in the magwell as the steel mags.  Three round mags are available, they will install flush with the stock, and might be more suitable for hunters.  I don’t believe I will bother with them.  I will likely purchase several more, but I don’t have a clear preference of either polymer mag and will increase my stocks of both 5 and 10 rounder. All the same, though I will continue using my overpriced original equipment steel mag. It works and will probably last as long as the scout will.

The trigger on the scout is pretty good, not quite like breaking a glass rod but it is positive with about a 6 lb pull.  The bolt action is a little stiff and initially, had a raspy feel to it.  It smoothed out after a while but the bolt likes to be operated with authority. A very thin coat of lube helps too. When the bolt is pulled back firmly the casing will be ejected with full authority. If one pulls back on it a little gently one can remove the brass by hand for reloading.

My stainless GSR came with a flash suppressor installed.     It also came with a stainless thread protector.  I removed the flash suppressor, and installed the thread protector, resulting in the gun being about 2″ shorter.   I haven’t shot it under darkened conditions yet, but I will reinstall the suppressor if it is a problem shooting.

Part of the Cooper definition of a scout rifle is a low powered forward mounted optic.  I chose the  Leupold FX II 2.5X28 mounted forward of the receiver.on the GSRs Picatinny rail.  The forward mount is controversial, some people like it others hate it. I like it.  I think that the people that don’t like it don’t like it cause they are used to the closer mounted scopes, don’t value or have issues with the two eyes opened concept.  I like it because for me it is fast to get on sight and target.  It has the added benefit of keeping the receiver clear. The problem is the line of sight using the high see through mounts can cause the shooter to get a chin weld over a much prefered cheek weld while aiming and shooting

The Scout concept is about one gun for all purposes.  I don’t know if there is any such thing. There are some things the GSR excels in others that it isn’t going to be the right equipment.

I think the GSR would be a poor choice for (sub)urban home defense.  The .308 is powerful and will over penetrate most walls.  An AR, Shotgun or handgun could be a better choice.

The GSR is not a weapon of war nor a zombie killer It’s a bolty after all.

It’s not a 1000yd Sniper rifle.

The .308 ammo is just too expensive to be much of a plinker.

There are some things that it excels at though:

The light weight makes it a great brush gun.  It’s short and light and this makes the GSR an easy carry.   The safety isn’t just a simple trigger block, but a combination trigger and firing pin block.  A forward mounted scope allows very fast to shoulder aim and shoot.

The GSR is an ideal deer stand rifle, its great for close quarters and the .308 is sufficiently powerful to take down any deer or hog for at least 300 yards are less.

A ranch or truck gun, Its compact size doesn’t require much room to maneuver, and its a very rugged reliable gun and can handle being knocked about.

 

What I saw in Boerne, TX

While staying at Bourne, Equality and I were watching some deer through our window. The deer were jumping all over the place, We then noticed this giant cat stalking the deer between us and the deer.   The deer left quickly and the big cat took its time and went into cover behind a cedar tree.  The Texas wildlife and parks denies that any such cats exist. Although they have been spotted by quite a few people.  I don’t know what kind of cat this is, but its about 2 0r 3 ft tall body 4 to 5 feet one, with a long thick tail.  Weighs probably around 50 to 80 lbs.

Big Blac Cat Boerne TX
Big Black Cat Returning to thick cover

If anyone knows what this is please let me know.

Lessons on Cord Cutting.

Cable bills are soaring. and we are getting less for our home entertainment dollar.  Some of us are cutting costs by either cutting back or eliminating our cable services. There are cheaper or even free.  I just want to cover a few tips.

Over the Air

The great broadcast television switch over to digital had a lot of people convinced that we were now completely reliant on our cable service for content. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  Each broadcast channel has multiple available subchannels. From Galveston, I can receive about 77 channels. Some of them are religious, others Spanish or Asian channels. and a few are shopping channels. There is plenty of good stuff available. I was  somewhat surprised to find that a lot of the channels I got were local broadcast channels  and not cable channels.

I live about 50 – 70 miles away from the Broadcast towers. and my antenna is a smaller one that fits conveniently in  the attic. There are times that a few  channels  can’t be received, but most of them can be viewed reliably.  If one lives closer a pair of rabbit ears may be sufficient.  The video is digital. there is no shadow there is no ghosting ,there is no snow. whether the material is standard 480 or 1040P.

It’s worth nothing that there can be a clear difference in quality between the cable offerings and what you receive over the air. Comcast tends to compress pretty heavily.  while the over the stuff has  fewer artifacts and compression.

Content Streaming Hardware.

There are several ways to access the streaming content, my intent is not to give a comprehensive review but to cover the capabilities. available with each method. If you’re going to stream content you will need a good high-speed internet service.

Smart TVs

Smart TVs have streaming capabilities built into the Television itself.  The biggest advantage to  smart TVs is that the user only needs one remote., another is that it doesn’t use precious HDMI ports. The interface is  consistent and simple.  Access to the content are called Apps. Typically Apps that are available include Pandora, Netflix,  Hulu and a bunch of other mainstream services.  I have one of the original Visio sets, they recently dropped Amazon from the availability list. Probably due to the complexity and security that is involved with  the options of making purchases.  Unlike other devices. It’s not so simple to update the hardware and software when it’s integrated into the set. The external units are inexpensive enough to be disposable if the technology becomes obsolete.

Some addons devices such as Blue-Ray and game systems such as Xbox and PlayStation also have smart streaming capabilities.

Roku

The Roku is the Grandaddy of the of the streaming  add-on-box. It has a great interface and comes preloaded with a bunch of services. They come in different models, and have a huge choice of available programming. It’s reasonably priced particularly if one purchases one of the middle priced boxes or sticks, there isn’t much 4k quality to stream these days. I have 2 older boxes, They are not as flexible as the Amazon Fire Stick, and the remote is infrared so the box is line of sight, and the remote needs to be pointed at the box.

Google Chromecast Cast

The Chromestick takes a different approach.  You are to use a device, typically, a smartphone or tablet, although  a PC running chrome will work.  The apps are loaded into the phone.  you select a video that is broadcast from your Chromcast device out to your HDMI port.

I found Chromecast a little limited. First of all, they don’t support Amazon Prime. The other issue I had with it is that it relies on the phone.   Loading heavily burdened phones with dozens of more apps is awkward, at least to me it is.

Amazon Fire Stick

I have the Roku Chromecast, and the Firestick.  The only one that  we use these days is the Firestick.   It has a convenient  remote that is radio operated. so the remote doesn’t need to be pointed directly at the stick, would be difficult to do anyway because the stick is just a little bit bigger than a USB thumb drive that plugs into an HDMI port at the back of the set. It works with all the typical apps, including of course Amazon Video and music. The unit is cheap and like most Amazon services the delivery is quick and efficient.

If you subscribe to Amazon Prime there is quite a bit of free material available. This combined with the free downloadable books, and free delivery makes it a good value.  The Amazon Interface is good and easy to access.

While the choices available are as inclusive as any of the other hardware, it can be expanded even more with the addition of Kodi.

The Firestick operating system is written in Linux, the open sourced and widely understood operating system that runs many of our devices and computers.   Because of this third, party applications are easily written and can be added on. Kodi was originally written as a Linux computer program to catalog and stream video sources from around the internet.  Its was initially called XBMC, they probably figured the name Kodi was less intimidating for non-geeks. Installing Kodi is moderately complex, but can be done by carefully following directions. The firesticks can be bought preloaded for a moderate markup. There are a couple of different methods for loading Kodi, I used my computer and followed the instructions here. Loading can also be done directly by using the app called ES.

Additional streams can be accessed using  the Kodi addon Exodus, The content available here is less legitimate, but almost any content can be found. Old or new series for binge watching, and old or new Movies are all available. Exodus used to be called Genesis, I suppose the next version would be called Leviticus.

 

 

Nostalgia

I remember Station Wagons.

I remember gas cheaper than a quarter a gallon, Filling up  for 4 Bucks.

I remember when 20mpg was considered great millage.

I remember long distance phone calls.

I remember when computers were the size of a house and cost as much as a new school.

I remember never wearing a seat belt

I remember my first new TV 19″ for $300, Today its a 30 inch HD flat screen for the same money.

I remember riding in the back of a pickup.

I remember people heating their homes with coal boilers.

I Remember when there were  4 Vitamins A, B, C and D

I remember when margarine was good for you and butter bad.

I remember when eggs were good for you before they were bad ior you before they were good for you.

I remember mobs of black people rioting in the the streets.

I remember people spitting on on soldiers cause they didn’t like violence.

I remember when the VFW didn’t accept Vietnam Veterans, because they weren’t real Veterans.

I remember when All beer came from massive factories.

I remember when the only good wine came from Europe.  California wines were cheap and unsophisticated.

I remember 10 cent cokes from a machine.

I remember penny candy.

I remember “No Blacks Allowed”  signs.

I remember when Campbell’s Chicken noodle soup and a peanutbutter and jelly sandwich was a hearty healthy lunch.

I remember when Volkswagon bugs got more mileage out of their tires than they did the engines.

I remember Studebakers and Ramblers.

I remember when games with the family would involve a deck of playing cards.

I remember no shopping on Sunday.

I remember when the telephone company owned all the phones.

I remember when marijauna was for parties, and not for curing people.

I remember when Chrsitopher Columbus was a hero.

I remember the Sears catalog.

 

Outsiders Wanting In

Have we become a nation of crybabies? Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have never really been supportive or worked with the political parties they are attempting to win as their parties candidate.

What are these parties?

We have a party system in America, mostly its a two party system Republicans and Democrats.   Each party has its own rules and agenda.  While many of the people  that belong to the party and are active, elected officials the roots of the party are people supporters and people who don’t hold political offices.  The local level is where we draw our local party candidates and the delegates to the state and national conventions.

The parties are basically a private club. donations are not tax exempt, and their strength is in their ability to work together and support one another.  Those who are elected are expected to throw support behind others in their party.  Those in the local groups work hard to see that their candidates win.   Not every candidate is expected to support every other candidate all the time but there usually is some support.

The roots of the party are the unpaid members who watch the elections  they organize rallies and speak for the nominated candidates.  They raise the money and draw up the party platform. Any one can join.

Loyalty

The parties have a problem with the leading candidates of their party.  Trump and Sanders have had no loyalty to their supposedly chosen party.

Donald Trump has been registered most of ho life as a Democrat. and been a very big supporter of Hillary Clinton, The ultimate Democrat of the Democratic Party. He admits to giving money not only to her foundation but to her campaign.  He even supported the far left Harry Reid.  While he trashed and bad mouthed the presidents Bush,

Then their is Sanders. He has run as an independent for most of his political life,  Doesn’t support Democrats, and is the only registered Independent in the Senate.

Cry Babies

These candidates whine and complain about a system they don’t participate in and don’t support. They publicly trash the parties that they are running for. Bernie’s politics line up with the Socialist party, and Donald Trump has shown more support for the Democrats.  They cry fowl because the partys reject them, and use the same rules that have been in effect for years .. Where were they when these rules were adopted. Where were they when their parties needed their help.  Trump and Bernie seem to think it was OK to say to the parties  “screw you” and bitch when the parties turn their back.  Guess what? You can’t have it both ways.  They forget one important issue,  The party gets to pick their candidate, because the candidate is suppose to represent them.

The candidates could have run as independents, It would have been more honest of them.  But they want the big party support,  without them ever throwing support to the party. I

think its note worthy that my chosen party doesn’t participate in the primary process. Libertarians can attend a local caucus, and the ones selected get to attend the State conventions and from their to the National convention, where the platform, rules and presidential candidate is selected.

Naming Your Poison at the Beach.

Bare footed Spring breakers are in for some hurt, when they visit our beaches during the next couple of weeks.

We noticed last week while strolling the beach quite a few Man O’Wars washed up below the high tide line.  The news media warns:

The waves are washing up something to look for on Galveston’s beaches.

Portuguese Man O’Wars, relatives of jellyfish, are up and down the beaches. These critters are a concern for beach-goers because even if they’re dead on the beach, they can still sting.

The timing is bad, with spring break coming up for Houston schools next week.

City leaders say there’s not much they can do to clean up the Man O’Wars.

If Jellyfish invasion isn’t bad enough there are the rattlesnakes in the dunes issues to deal with.    Rattlesnakes in the dunes are being reported. Dune building is giving them  new homes in grasses.  Feral cats a bountiful food supply.

That’s why Kevin Inks carries a pellet gun on his walks with his dog Zeus.

“I know the risk factors out here,” said Inks. “For every one snake you do see, there’s 10 to 20 you don’t see.”

Inks claims to have seen three rattlesnakes during his walks in less than two weeks.

He captured video of one of them slithering along the sand and disappearing into a dune. He believes that’s where they nest.

But the Galveston Beach Patrol officials said rattlesnakes are quite rare, and only spotted once every several years.

Still, Inks won’t take any chances. He’s even purchased some rattlesnake anti-venom just to be safe.

“This is the last place that you’d expect to see a rattlesnake,” he said.

Some years we are the eighth wonder of the world, but this year our beaches are mined with snakes and jelly fish tentacles . We can only hope that it will deter the Spring breakers and keep them away, but I remain doubtful the rotting stench of seaweed mountains didn’t seem to do the trick.

Campaign Funds

So Sanders opposes lobbyist contributing to political campaigns.  He speaks against hypocrisy. He shamelessly accepts money from those whom hope to gain his favor.

You might not think the National Cannabis Industry Association, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and National Mining Association have much in common.

But they have this: Lobbyists for these organizations have donated money to the presidential campaign of Democrat Bernie Sanders, the self-described socialist who has regularly castigated special interests and the government influence industry.

In fact, nearly two-dozen federally registered lobbyists have given money to Sanders’ presidential campaign, according to a Center for Public Integrity  review of campaign finance records and data obtained from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Trump claims to be self funded. this isn’t Completely true either, Trump has his contributers some small others not so small.

Trumpchart

Much of the money that Trump has put into his campaign is money that he has loaned to himself. This gives him a mechanism to have donors eventually help pay himself back, perhaps at a time when we aren’t paying close attention.

Thunderbird

One of the benefits of retiring is that I am no longer required to use Microsoft Outlook. At home I have never used Outlook, except to check my work account from home.

I’ve been using Thunderbird now for at least 7 or 8 Years, maybe longer. It did the trick and is free.  It supports POP3 as well as IMAP in fact during setup Thunderbird is usually going to be smart enough to figure out what you need,   and has been incredibly smart at setting up different email accounts automatically.  Junk filters work well with prebuilt filters built into services such as Gmail,  and the use of intuitive standard shortcut key navigation.

Some of the kewl things about Thunderbird has to do with its extensions. the two that I have set up are Enigmail, and  Lightning.  Enigma is an extension that seamlessly allows one to use gpg seamlessly into a message.. I like the ability to digitally sign messages.. although the encryption decryption capabilities are particularly useful.

Lightning does all the Calendar Tasks and Events stuff that we used to do with our Frankiin Planners. and does it better than Outlook which always seemed clunky to me.

Folks that have mutiple web mail accounts should probably look into using Thunderbird.  It is a quick fast way of monitoring email accounts and is a lot faster than logging into the websites …

 

 

Radio Free Galveston