Sunday, March 13, 2011

What gun for asteroid?

I'm sure you've all seen the unbelievable devastation caused by the tsunami in Japan by now, and I must ask all the preppers out there... What preps for a 20 foot, 30 MPH wall of water?

My brother and I were talking about this on the way out to the desert yesterday, and we were at a bit of a loss. To me, it feels like the "What gun for X" hypotheticals about outlandish scenarios you might find yourself in, and what gun you would choose.

The only thing we came up with was strapping a boat to your roof, or some kind of floating ocean hamster ball.

The destruction in the videos is so relentless, so complete, that it's almost it IS unbelievable. It is a force of nature from which we have no defense.

May be a helipad on your roof?

Compooter. I has one.

A real one this time. No more struggling with Lappy on long sessions.

I mainly bought this computer for Minecraft, and in that regard I was successful.

Secondary and tertiary goals include things like writing more, and having a solid box on which to telecommute. The box was of decent spec, but hardly gamer-ready, so I picked up an ATI graphics card and a larger power supply for aforementioned video card.

But who cares about that. MINECRAFT!

It's so awesome. I fucking love it. I've got the display settings turned all the way up, and it runs perfectly (Although the day/night changes can still lag this quad core, 4gb ram, 1 gb vid ram box. Java, you stupid fat bastard.) I can honestly say I was speechless when I saw my first world save with no fog obstructing my vision beyond 50 feet. I spent an amount of time that must be measured in days in that virtual world, and I got to see it completely for the first time.

Since I've gotten most of the Minecraftery out of my system, and have mostly been interested in what Notch will do with it in the future, I believe I will soon be visiting the "games I'll play if I ever get a gaming rig" list.

This list contains such noble games as Starcraft 2 and STALKER, and ranges down to the ignoble reader favorite (ha!) Dwarf Fortress.

Stay tuned!

PS: It's an HP, and damn their eyes for the amount of shit they put on their boxes, and the effort they go to in order to prevent you from removing it. Just when I think I got it all some HP solution tracker/helper/survey program identifies itself for my increasing wrath.

The A in M1A stands for AWESOME

My brother and I had a small outing to the desert to do some shooting, and I finally (yes, call me PDB) shot my M1A.

The M1A is the most expensive gun I own, it's also the gun I waited the longest to get. It represents everything I love about rifles, and had been at the top of my list ever since I first laid eyes on one. I went with the scout squad because I knew that if I got a standard, I'd just want a National Match and a Scout Squad anyway. Now I can just get the NM if I want.

After feeling the surprisingly gentle recoil of the Garand, I was a little worried that a synthetic stock scout squad would be too light, and recoil harshly, but it somehow recoils more lightly than the Garand. I had heard that the muzzle break and rubber stock pad work overtime on this gun, but I severely underestimated how smooth and soft they made the recoil. By the end of the day, the Garand had begun to feel unrefined next to the M1A, which is quite a feat.

The perennial favorite of the desert is 3 liter soda bottles from the 99 cent store. We set them up, and blow them up, usually at close range. Since this trip out was just my brother and I, we set the bottles up a little further. Along with the 10" gong, most of the 3 liters wound up at around 200 yards, but I wanted one that would last. So I grabbed a suitably hi-viz (fiz?) orange one, and took the long walk through the wash and up the hill to about 325 yards and set it up.

We opened smoothly with the M1A, and after ringing the gong repeatedly, I decided I wanted to start the fun of taking pot shots at the tiny orange dot on the hillside throughout the day. Sadly, I ruined the fun on my second shot from a cross legged sitting position. At cleanup I saw it was a grazing shot, catching only about a half inch in from the left side, but it was still a hit on a 6" wide target at 325 yards off irons.

The M1A was the go-to gun for cleaning up targets that refused to be shot. Only one resisted its charms, but that target danced around all the other bullets too. It wasn't until I was shooting My Rifle later in the day that we finally got rid of it. It never ceases to surprise me how something so simple as "Front sight, press" gets consistent hits after magazines of mid-day misses due to fatigue. After loading My Rifle and looking for targets I decided to try for that slippery 3 liter with some renewed focus. A different focus. I placed the front sight in perfect focus, and the target became an out of focus tiny blob of white sitting on top of the front sight. From a standing position, I hit dead center on the first shot the target that we had missed for dozens of rounds from sitting and prone position.

Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals.

It's easy (and fun) to get sloppy with both eyes open in the large aperture sight on close targets, but when your target is small and far, and fatigue has set in, what you really need is "front sight, press."

The only problem that day was that we didn't have enough 308 to shoot it all day long. But I'm not sure there's enough 308 in the world to get your fill of shooting that gun.

It is slick, it is smooth, it is light, it is accurate, it hits hard, and it will hold 20 rounds of reach-out-and-touch-someone in a light, balanced package. But what is most important is that it is worth every penny. The M1A is the most expensive gun I own, and to be honest, I was a little afraid I was going to walk away from my first experience with it wondering how much cash I could get for it to put toward an AR-10. I am extremely impressed with this gun, and would recommend that anyone who wants a high quality, full powered, detachable mag fed, classically styled rifle begin saving their pennies now. The M1A really is the pinnacle of classic American rifles, and it is no wonder it has endured.

I'm Subaru folk now.

I got a new car; a 2011 Subaru Outback. And yes, it really does come with an intrinsic sense of self satisfaction, thanks for asking. I was about to buy an ubiquitous Toyota Rav4 because it was most of the things I wanted, but the day before, my dad introduced me to the new outback (unlike the older, more wagon-y model that he has), and the next day I bought it. And thank god I got my new car in a manual. I was ready to go automatic for lack of manual versions of the cars I was looking at, but the Outback worked its way in. People these days. There were literally four manual transmission Outbacks in Southern California. Two were ugly, and one was in my color. Armed with that information, I got a price that allows me to chuckle at Rav4s for how much more car I got for quite a bit less money. Plus, having a car made at a zero landfill plant makes non-Subaru hippies cry when they can't take the moral high ground on their choice of car. I put an NRA sticker on the back just to piss them off.

The car represents a kind of phase shift for me. To quote everyone who knows me, "It's a grown-up car!" Exiting the phase of "Yeah, fast cars are awesome, I love to go fast." and entering the phase of "Yeah, fast cars are awesome, and I'm going to die if I get the combination of perfect song, perfect level of congestion of the freeway, and my recurring lead-foot syndrome." The Subaru is considerably slower than the turbo Passat. To get a manual, I had to get the smaller engine. But beside being slow, it's also smoother, and much more refined. The clutch is electronic, so at first, I could barely drive it. I couldn't feel a damn thing. I resorted to looking at the tachometer to know when I should shift, and when I missed a shift and ground the gears, the only way I knew it was because I could hear it. I couldn't feel shit. The fact that there is no real engine noise, very little power (comparatively, I guess), a very smooth ride, and no raw connection between you and the engine, gearbox, and clutch makes it a lot harder to get excited, and attempt to beat the land speed record while driving a slalom of zombie drivers on the freeway while Born Too Slow turns that knob in your adrenal gland up to 11.

That said, there is truly nothing like that rush. But it ain't worth gettin' dead over.

Oh yeah, I was sure I was going to miss the turning radius on the Passat, but the Outback blew the Passat out of the water. I'm pretty sure I could flip a bitch inside a parking spot. It's really impressive, and really useful.

Coming back from the desert trip yesterday we popped the Outback's cherry with some light off-roading along a dirt road mountain pass of rocks and washes. The latter of which sent most of the contents of the trunk airborne for enough time to do the tablecloth pull trick with my trunk liner. After a bit of practice, I got a better feel for how to spot the washes and take them in a way that didn't make me worry for my virgin car. Honestly, I'll admit to having a bit of the pucker factor for most of the trip. Driving over sharp rocks, steering through soft sand, and hitting bumps that would have broken my last car in half, all at a fair speed was mentally taxing. But these thoughts were countered at each turn by the Subaru's constant reassurance that yes, it could do this, and yes, it could probably do it backwards and at twice the speed. In fact, thinking back now, I don't think we ever bottomed out. 8.7" of ground clearance and good suspension are probably the reason for that. I was impressed, and we got the new Subaru the thing that Subarus seem to need most; dirty.

Catching up, getting ahead

A mere two months into my current employment, I'm trying out for a promotion, having being goaded on by my boss. Somehow there is little competition for the position, so many suspect me of being the frontrunner. I didn't think I was qualified enough for the position, but the last two months have been very reassuring to me in regards to my ability to pick up new things quickly. I'm way ahead of where I should be, and I think that's why my boss wanted to make sure I at least tried out.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that doing this means I'm essentially doing two jobs. The stress has caused me to get sick, gain weight, and break out. Fortunately, this will only last for the month before they make the decision, then I can focus on one or the other. Interestingly enough, if I get the position my coworkers tell me I'll need two promotions, and two raises, which would probably make me the most well paid and skilled new guy still on probation. A few people told me that they don't expect much from you in the first 6 month probationary period, but I'm not the kind of person who meets those kinds of expectations.