Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fishing Report for Guntersville: NATA Open 3/22/14

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube,  and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Follow my Fish of 2014

In case you missed it, Josh and I stumbled upon a great pattern in last weeks MFC Tournament #1. If you didn't see it, go check out the vid.

Long story short, we found a spot about 20 yards long that was producing great fish on very specific baits worked around grass. I won't give too much away, but you can see what was up in the video. While we didn't weigh in a full limit, we were able to cash a 3rd place check with 3 fish that went 16 pounds.

The Monday after the MFC tournament, I got on Amazon to order the specific square billed crank bait that Josh had been using. Of course, by Friday afternoon it STILL had not come in and I was faced with using a knockoff bait that I had, though we both knew that if it was the specific action this crank exhibited, it would be a waste. But, it was the best I could do.

I needed some time off on Friday, as did my dad, so we decided that we would go hit the lower end of Guntersville. I didn't want to disturb my potential tournament winning fish, so we stayed in the Seibold area. In particular, there has been a spot that I have fished the last few years that has consistently held pre-spawn fish before anywhere else. Out of curiousity, I wanted to check to see if the pattern we had used the previous Saturday would hold up in different areas. Since I didn't have teh right crank,  I stuck to fishing the closest bait I did have, which was a Spro Little Josh in spring craw color.

It was very cold that morning with a TON of wind. The spot I traditionally have fish didn't yield much, but because the weather had been cold and the wind was high, I pushed out to the nearest major point.

As luck would have it, we found fish grouped up on new grass in about 4 feet and less. When we found the grass, we found the fish. We were able to have a very good 2 hour early morning stretch, hooking into about 10 fish, though I admittedly let several shake off at the boat in the unlikely event that I would need them the next day. So, I am saying that, but if you look at my face on the video when they came sure doesn't look like I did it on purpose.....

Anyway, it wasn't the best day, but it was pretty good. So, we quit fairly early. After all, I knew the next day was going to be a long one. I did manage to get my dad on a few fish, so it was great to see him get in on the action.

The previous week, as Josh and I left the MFC tournament, we decided that day that we would sit on this one spot, throw the same baits, and grind this spot all day. We would be one of the first boats our of Goosepond and we would hopefully beat everyone upriver to this spot.

We made it upriver all the way to the mouth of Roseberry creek before things began to go wrong. The first thing that happened was that another large tournament was coming OUT of Roseberry as we were going IN. The lane is very narrow and I scooted as far over as I could without getting in the super shallow grass. I cut my speed dramatically as well. I guess I expected others to do the same, but they didn't. The boats coming out stayed in the middle of the lane and had complete disregard for us. We were splashed, run out of the lane and into the grass as 20 boats came rocketing by.

After they all passed, I trimmed down and headed back into the lane. But there was no power. The boat wouldn't get up on plane. I raised the motor looking for grass, nothing. I made sure I was trimmed down. But the boat wouldn't get out of it's own way. I listened to it idle for some time and it sounded just fine. After a few minutes, it did calm down and get on plane, but it wouldn't push passed 3500 RPM. So, I babied it to our spot, and we got in fish our spot.

There was quickly a boat in front of us and a boat behind. The boat in front fishes out our spot without luck and moved down the bank. Josh, from the back of the boat, almost instantly hooked into a nice fish. I reached in to the box to get the net and withdrew it. When I scooped the 5 pound fish, it went right through the net. It took both of us a moment for our minds to come to grips that the fish WASN'T in the net. It's funny how slow the mind can be. "This isn't supposed to happen" was all my mind couldn't come up with. But, I scooped the fish by hand and we had a 5 pounder in the boat out the gate, a far cry from where we were the previous week. But, we were out a net, which was sporting a massive hole.

Almost instantly, Josh had another hit from a fish the same size, but it shook off within a second with a nice tailwalk about half way to the boat.

And that's when the trouble started. The boat in front of us had taken notice that we had been there for 5 minutes and had two hits. They turned the boat around and started back to us. Now, I don't know everyone's opinion on fishing ettiqutte, but here are some of my ideas: When you breeze past an area and give it up for another fisherman, and they begin to catch fish on it...tough luck. It's bad ju-ju to come back to a spot unless the other boat leaves. Secondly, you should NEVER cast across someone's lines, which is exactly what happened next. As we cast directly to the bank, the other boat saddled up within 20 yards of us and began casting across our lines.

Josh had another strong hit and boated a small keeper. That seemed to seal the deal for these other guys, who we watched sit down, cut off their current baits and tie on red square bills, just as we were throwing. They were rewarded with 3 keepers, one of which pushed 6 pounds. All of this happened within 20 yards of us.

The rest of the morning was a battle of boat positioning, which we lost because we aren't experienced enough. We were playing checkers and these guys were playing chess. Time and time they outwitted us and managed to keep us off the magic stretch. Within the first hour, the two boats caught a limit that would have gone close to 20 pounds. But neither of us had 5 fish between us that measured. As you can imagine, it was extremely frustrating and angering. We had a plan, we were executing it, but the rudeness of fishermen on Guntersville knows no bounds, whatsoever.

Without a gameplan, we rummaged around the area, but had nearly no luck. Most of that had to do with the TVA dropping the water a couple of feet after 8am. We managed to pick up a fish here and a fish there, but without a functioning and reliable motor, we were stuck.

Every once in awhile we seemed to get on to a pattern. We had back to back hits on PTL Gators where the fish pulled the tail off the bait. In one case, I snapped the line on one. Later in the day, it was XCalibur XR50s that started catching fish, but they were too small and the weigh in time was already upon us to matter. We limped back to Goosepond.

The weighboard already had a 32 pound bag and several 20+s. Considering that NATA pays out only 4 places, it didn't really matter. I still believe there were fish there to get a spot. But, we were limited to about 2 hours on the spot we needed to spend all day.

The highlight of the day was watching a king fisher drop down from 100 feet and destroy a shad. And, I caught it on the GoPro. Speaking of, the Cam-Do DC converter worked AWESOME.

Well, we learned something.....again. It's frustrating to me that we learn a small lesson a day. By the time we are 50, maybe we can put it together.

AR V2.0 Part 3: Modifications

Make sure to read all of my Last Man on Earth Studies!

In case you have missed it, please go read AR-15 V2.0 to get up to date.
Last time I updated you, I had received the upper assembly and bolted it all together. I hinted that I wanted to go to a low profile gas block, and so I did. I ordered the UAG 0.750 low profile gas block.

When I received it, I immediately knew something was wrong. The gas tube didn't fit into the gas tub port. In fact, it became stuck and eventually bent the tube and broke the tip. Awesome, I know. So, I had to order e replacement on Amazon, which cost me about $7. Most importantly, I cost me some time to take off the factory A2 gas block and site, which isn't terrible, but it's a hassle.

In the meantime, I came across a sweet deal on a Palmetto State bullet pictograph blemished lower. They are perfectly functioning units but may have cosmetic blemishes. No matter as I am keeping this gun.
Yes, I am aware that I already had an assembled lower for this gun. Call me vain, but I wanted an all PSA gun. Additionally, I had a lower parts kit come in yesterday, so I took some time and assembled it. Additionally, I received a new gas tube, which I installed and then reassembled the whole gun.

That also included going to Academy and buying a new MFT composite quad rail. It's not the nicest, but it will do until I can get a full floating setup.

Guess what...even this current setup won't be the final one. I found a SMOKING deal on a MOE FDE build kit. I will be swapping the furniture when I get it.

AR-15 Build V2.0

Don't forget to read all of my Last Man on Earth Studies!

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter!

Find Part 2 of my AR V2.0 HERE!
Find Part 3 of my AR V2.0 HERE! 
Find Part 4 of my AR V2.0 HERE! 

Unless you have been living under a rock over the last few years, the price of "assault" rifles has gone through the roof. Though the panic has greatly diminished over the last few months, the fact remains that you cannot buy an AR-15 for less than $599. At that price, you get a stripped down gun that doesn't have amenities that most avid shooters would demand from a rifle. Don't get me wrong, I own one such rifle. My first AR was a Panther Arms DPMS sporticle which cost me $556 before tax and came with no sites, had no forward assist or dust cover. That doesn't even get into the specifics of the barrel material and coatings, the internal components like the bolt and carrier group, etc. But, it shoots. It's a great starter rifle, but I wanted and expected more.

The next tier of gun starts at $800 and it isn't much better. At $1200 you start getting into guns that are battle ready. But, I can't afford that. So, I did what many people have begun to do. I started looking at building my own. After pricing the components, even at a macroscopic level such as complete upper receiver, I could still save significant money as well as build a gun to do exactly what I wanted to do.

So, I built my first one a few months back. I didn't want to go top shelf on the components quite yet. In fact, I wanted to build a gun that was on par or slightly better than the one I already owned. I sourced the parts from Palmetto State Armory. You can read about the build here:
AR15 Build: Part 1
AR15 Build: Part 2

This gun was superior in every way to the gun I already owned and cost the same amount of money.

With a few days at the range with it, I decided that I could indeed build a quality gun and it was time to build one that was superior. First I had to decide what I was looking to build. Did I want a long range gun? A cut down lightweight close quarters gun? Something in the middle?  I really liked the style of gun that I had just built, but I wanted to build it with higher quality parts. So, I started off by assembling the lower.

I bought several Anderson MFG lower months back. They are quality pieces that you can readily get at the gun shops for $55. I assembled it with the same parts kit that I had used in my previous build, the PSA Classic parts kit. for $99, it includes PSA M4 Stock, A2 Pistol grip, Palmetto State Armory Classic Lower Parts Kit and Mil-Spec diameter 6-position buffer tube assembly. Everything you need to finish your stripped lower. I do admit that I may eventually change out the fire group for something nicer, but I am not ready to drop hundreds.

I test fired the lower with the assembled upper from my other rifle and it operated just fine.

The next items that I would purchase are where my build would be different from the previous. The previous build featured the M16 profile bolt and carrier group, which is their cheapest unit. I selected the PSA premium full auto BCG. It isn't their highest end unit, but it is their most popular. It comes in at $129. The specs on it are:
  • Milspec Carpenter No. 158® steel bolt
  • Shot Peened Bolt
  • High pressure tested
  • Mag particle inspected
  • Chrome Lined Carrier (AUTO)
  • Chrome Lined Gas Key
  • Gas Key Hardened to USGI Specifications
  • Gas Key Grade 8 Hardened Fasteners
  • Gas Key Staked Per Mil-Spec
  • Tool Steel Extractor
  • Extractor Spring
  • Extractor O-ring Insert

To finish off the build, I had to select a assembled upper. This is where a lot of decisions had to be made. My other  two guns are both 16" barrel guns. Seems that the 16 inch barrel offers the most flexibility, which is what I am looking for in this gun, which I hoped would be a "do it all" gun. At the time, PSA was selling the M4 premium 16" upper with the Vortex Strikefire red dot installed for $399. The Vortex unit alone is $120 on sale. The M4 specs are:

  • 16" Barrel length
  • Chrome moly vanadium barrel
  • 5.56 Nato Chamber
  • 1 in 7" twist rate
  • Chrome-lined bore
  • HPT/MPI Barrel
  • M4 Feed ramps
  • F-Marked Front sight post
  • A2 Flash Hider
  • Sling Loop
  • Standard Hand Guards w/ heat shields
  • Forged upper receiver
  • Vortex Strikefire Red-dot optic
  • T-Marks
I am currently waiting to receive the upper.

Total price so far is: 

  • Anderson MFG lower: $60 after tax
  • PSA Classic LPK- $87 shipped
  • PSA Full auto BCG
  • PSA M4 Upper w/ strikefire-$572
  • Total: $720
Parts to buy: Rail system and bipod

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The 4 Horseman of the Sackocalypse

The Auburn Realist

You can find links to all of my Auburn Realist Blog posts here.

The burning question all Auburn fans have been asking: When will Auburn return to the defense to the form we were so used to seeing from Tuberville? Will they ever do it?

What do you think? And what pieces, if any, do you think Auburn has that resembles those great teams? No, seriously, let's hear it!

I believe the biggest piece of the puzzle is already in place. And I believe it will make waves. Big ones.

The class that entered Auburn University in 2013 was a very special one, for many reasons. I think the first thing that set it apart was the fact that Coach Malzahn, despite the 3-8 season preceding his entrance and his late hire date, was able to maintain a great recruiting class. Delving a little deeper, we notice that the jewels of his class were on the D-line.

Retrospect is 20/20 and we all saw the development of Marshall when many of us assumed that Jeremy Johnson was going to start as a freshman. But, it was hard to deny what it meant to keep Carl Lawson and sign Montravious Adams and Elijah Daniel.

But, I know I wondered about the development of these young men among a fairly deep defensive line rotation that featured a future first round pick in Dee Ford. But, as injuries do, it sidelined several players (some for the whole year) that led to the push for Lawson and Adams to see the field as early as the opener against Washington State. Even in this first game, each of these two men made an instant impact and showed what they would be capable of, though they, at times, showed their youth in disciplined play. As the year went on, each of the three would record tackles for loss, sacks, and even turnovers.

I know I have waited for the recruiting prophesies to work out in Auburn's favor, as they have for South Carolina and other places. While Auburn has had defensive players with great seasons, they tend to be late in their career and the teamplay surrounding them has been questionable. Since Tommy Tuberville left the Plains, the Auburn defense has struggled to keep its head above water, at best. In most circumstances, it has been the liability of the team, even in 2010 and 2013....a far cry from the string of Top 10 defenses that was the calling card of the Tuberville era.

While I still don't think the play of the linebackers and secondary will be to that level (though I do believe each will be dramatically improved), I firmly believe that we will see a defensive line as though we have not seen in our generation....from any NCAA team.

That's a tall order, I know. There have been some dominate front 4s in the last 10 years, including but not limited to the 2009 Crimson Tide front 4 and the 2003 LSU front that featured LaRon Landry, Marcus Spears, and Chad Lavalais...then only a few years later the team of Tyson Jackson, Glenn Dorsey and Drake Nevis.

While these 3 aforementioned players are only sophomores, they are paired with some guys who have all shown flashes of potential and are hungry to produce after waiting in line behind guys like Dee Ford, Corey Lemonoir and others. Of particular note are three guys: Jeff Whitaker, Gabe Wright, and LaDarius Owens.

Guys like LaDarius Owens have made impacts in the game, but many times as roll players or as guys in the rotation. Jeff Whitaker is a guy who has been on the field early and often in his career and was ready to make an impact from the tackle position until an injury forced him out. Even in 2012, he missed half a season. But, he has been active, even in 2010 , and he has been a contributor. Gabe Wright made his presence known late in 2013, coming through with several tackles for loss. As the year went on, he became better and better. Even after this list are guys like Blackson and Bradley who have played, but not as much as they would like.

So, I know you are saying to yourself "The title says 4 Horseman, not 8."

Yes, I know. We are getting there.

I don't think it's even a question of the talent of the 3 rising sophomores.  At least two of these guys will be starters and all three will be in the rotation. There will only be 4 on the field at any one point, but the combination of depth, experience, hunger, and talent will be a wrecking ball on opposing offenses this year.

It will start this spring as these guys will be pushing themselves and each other to the absolute breaking point. Oh to be a fly on the wall among the D-line workouts! You have a handful of senior guys who haven't quite made it to where they want to be who are being pushed by talented youngsters who have a taste of success and know the expectations of the fan-base and coaches. It is a special concoction that is being brewed down on the Plains.

A-Day will be very interesting for this reason alone. The battle up front will be a great focal point. While the offensive line will be fantastic, it won't have been put together for very long, if at all. In this situation, the defense usually has the upper hand in preparation. I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if there are a LOT of whistles on A-Day for sacks. Even if it becomes a battle of stalemates, I would be happy. I expect a lot from this offensive line....who I expect to be the best in the SEC this year.

I won't pretend to know who will be your starting 4. And, honestly, whoever starts out doesn't really matter. Offensive lines don't rotate and these guys will. And they can do it a lot with the talent and experience they have in the depth at the D-Line.  Regardless of who is out there, there will be well prepared and very hungry. It's been a long time since Auburn fans, a fan base that has great love for great defenses, has been excited about seeing a shut down D on the field. In the past, we have had one or the other...but not both. 2004 was the closest we ever saw, but that offense was a very pro-style offense, much different than we have grown used to.

The LB and DB play may not quite be up to the standards of the DL, but we can at least expect a lot of QB hurries, tackles for loss, and sacks. These guys are fast and strong. Adams and Lawson will have learned to play in space and really utilize the athleticism that we saw at times last year, in combination with a full year of fitness, training, and coaching. These seniors are going to get a season to prove they belong at a historically great defensive school. I even expect Wright to make a push for an NFL pick.

There will be no 1 and 2 Teams. It will be 1 and 1A. And, it will be a very scary thing to watch.

Week of 3/17-20/14

Time for an update! I know you all want one. And, I like to give the people what they want.

Well, not too much to report. Just another busy week around here. If you didn't know, the weather to a nasty turn and most of our practices were canceled. I'm sure the Killa Kupcakes didn't mind that they didn't have to face the wrath of my hard hit softballs.

Tuesday, my friend Neil came by and I helped him assemble his AR-15. That is, I had to remember all the little tricks to putting together a lower. And, even though there is no "right" way to do it, there is certainly an easy way. I managed to not do it the easy way for about an hour. But, we did finish it, though it did come away with a slight chip in the finish of about 1/8th inch, of which I am very ticked about. But, he was a good sport about it.

The week picked up at work yesterday, and in a nick of time, really. If you spend any time around me, you know my morale for NASA has been pretty low for awhile. I guess maybe I was a bit spoiled when I came to NASA. Shuttle was humming along and Constellation was ramping up, though most of the hard work had already been done. I came in and they put me to work traveling here, there and everywhere..inspecting flight hardware.

But, it isn't 2009 anymore. Flight hardware isn't laying around everywhere and we (NASA) hasn't flown anything in awhile. But, we do have one real project working around here that will be flying very soon. It's called the Multi-Stage Adapter (MSA). It is designed to fit the Orion capsule on a variety of off the shelf rockets such as Delta. The MSA is an aluminum collar with a composite diaphragm on the inside that separates the environments between the rocket and the capsule. The MSA is made of sections of an aluminum-lithium allow that has high strength and low weight, which is then friction stir welded. If you want a quick background on the friction stir welding process, go do some reading. Otherwise, take my word that it is a solid state welding process (joins metal without any melting of the material) which "supposedly" creates a weld that has similar, if not the same, properties as the parent material. One of my main jobs since I arrived here at NASA is to develop different inspection techniques, whether that is phased array ultrasound, radiography, etc, and find ways to make it better, quicker, and easier to implement into the manufacturing process.

Anyway, so the MSA has sections that have to be welded together longitudinally (up and down the axis of the rocket) and then bolting rings for the capsule and rocket, which are welded circumferential (around). It creates 6 different "T" on top and bottom in three different locations, plus a "pull out hole" circumstantially, since the welding process can't get 100% around.

So, Dr. Russell and Mr. Walker, the task lead and team lead respectively, came to me on Monday and asked if I could work radiography on second shift. We have to work second shift because this is "field X-ray", meaning that the we have to take the equipment to the part, as opposed to the part into an X-ray cell, since it is so big. Since we aren't inspecting in an X-ray specific area with proper shielding, there are a lot of safety precautions that have to be observed. More on that later. This isn't outside the ordinary work. We do this a lot. So, I agreed. No problem.

Yesterday rolled around and Dr. Russell asked me to go over the building with him so we could start the safety work. Sure, I said. So, we walked over. As we were looking at the part and judging how we would "shoot it" with X-ray, the Quality and Safety and Mission Assurance guys walked up (they have to be involved). They know us fairly well. They start talking to Dr. Russell, who is obviously in charge. I kind of tune out....till I hear:
"Oh no. Talk to Zach. He is in charge."

Well, that got my attention. So, I turn back around, expecting to see some knee slapping. Obviously, the S&MA and Quality reps thought it was a joke. But Dr. Russell turned to them.

"No. Zach is in charge. He is the lead Level III inspector. He will be taking care of everything tonight. I'm just the hired help."

Well,  it is certainly true that I am a Level III certified NDE engineer (in several methods I might add), even if I am newly minted. I've done my share of hands on inspections, but never as the lead guy. I am usually the grunt. But, as from one of my favorite scenes:

"Yeah. I'm in charge. No problem. I got it all handled."
But on the inside

Luckily, there is an app for that. Errr....a document. Hey, it's a .gov job. There's an instruction document on how to find instruction documents.

I'm really just messing with yall. It isn't that deep. Essentially, it's tell everyone to be out of the building by a time, make sure they all leave, block off all the entrances and post lookouts, establish an 2 MR (a distance to an acceptable level of dose rate), get your Radiation Safety Officer to sign off, and hope no one stumbled into the line of fire. Err... radiation. Of course, in the past we have used an empty building that no one uses and there have been 3 doors total in the hole building. This building is inhabited and has mazes of office areas.

I laid out a timeline for all the activities to be accomplished, gave out instructions to my 5 other co-workers, and we got started. That is to say, we roped off some area and hung "Imminent and Painful Death" signs. Just kidding. It just says "Deadly Radiation in Use"

At 4:15, I walked through the building to ensure no one was still in it. That means every single cube farm, bathroom (ladies rooms have COTS IN THEM! SERIOUSLY?!?!?!?!), boiler room and closet. My very first stop was an upstairs office. There was a guy in his cube and he jumped 3 feet when I told him we were about to start.

"Oh. Yeah. I read that email. Just a few more minutes. I have work to do". I don't want to put anyone out, especially if they are actually working. But this guy wasn't working. Come on. it's 4:30pm. Most likely he was looking at youtube. Just kidding, I am sure he was working hard. But he knew he was supposed to be gone. I politely told him that he needed to leave. Immediately. So he did. But not without some X-ray beams of his own...aimed at your's truly. Hey, we all have jobs to do.

As I finished out my rounds, one of my coworkers informed me that the men in the machine shop weren't going to leave, and he didn't want to be the one to tell them to leave. Apparently they were all hourly guys and they wanted to wait until exactly 4:30 to clock out.  So, I had to head over and deal with that. The conversation went something like:
"Sure, I understand yall want a few more dollars. And, if you do, you will get a special bonus today. Maybe a 3rd arm or a special power. Most likely, all the cells in your skill will die and peel off slowly." I shrugged and started to walk away. Then turned around.
"Probably not. You will probably be fine. But you would have to take my word for it, since I'm the guy in charge." That got them going.

So, the work went smoothly. Make sure the lookouts are clear. X-ray on. X-ray off. Take the film to the processor. Set up next shot. Repeat.

At one point we were looking at the survey meter and were surprised that we weren't seeing any radiation. Then we realized we didn't have it turned on. When we turned it on, it spiked to the maximum. The technician and I looked at each other. Looked at the meter. Looked at each other again. And realized it must be malfunctioning since the power to the X-ray tube was off. We shared a nervous laugh and got another meter. (For those all worried about me, we have film badges, pocket dosimeters, and a host of other tools.)

Anyway, here are some pics of the MSA

The inspection took around 4 hours to take the 15 or so shots. So, at 8pm I headed home. I stopped at Taco Bell...even though it's the one that I CONSTANTLY have issues with. I ordered and zipped home. When I got home, I opened up my chalupa to find this:
THIS is what's wrong with America.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cam-Do Hard-wiring Project for GoPro Hero 3

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Check out all of my Product/Equipment Reviews

The upgrades to the Skeeter continue! Read my other upgrade stories such as my installation of the Recessed Foot Pedal and the Humminbird 798 Install.

Learning to use the GoPro, as I do in a fishing environment, has been lesson after hard learned lesson. It has become an accomplishment to be able to catch fish in real time. What do I mean by that? Well, many of the fishing videos that you will watch on the internet feature fish that were already hooked or sometimes caught.

There are many roadblocks to getting the live action just right, whether it be camera angle, fisherman position, frequent data drops, or in my case, usually battery life. I have to admit that the GoPro was not necessarily designed to be used as I use it on a weekly basis. Ideally the GoPro is for many different short shots. Not 9 continuous hours. The battery of the GoPro isn't really designed to operate for hours on end. At most you may get 3 consecutive hours of run time. And, even for that, you have to sacrifice image quality by dropping down the resolution. Sometimes the unit will malfunction, as it has done on many occasions with me. When that happens, it will happen when you least need it do.....landing that trophy fish.

After I bought my GoPro, I had to learn daily lessons on how anything and everything can happen, leading to the loss of potential YouTube gold. Over time I have managed to solve these issues one by one, but battery life has been an issue that won't go away. You can solve it several ways, for example, buying multiple batteries. But, a battery is $35 and it's easy to loose. For a good day of fishing, you would need 4 batteries. That's a lot of money. You can also keep the camera hooked up to the charger by using a skeleton case. While this is a quick and easy solution, it may not be the best one. I had done this on a few occasions, but had noticed increased heating of the unit,  degradation of the images and occasionally complete corruption of the memory card requiring reformatting and losing all the data.

My friend, Taco...from SHOT by Taco recommended that I check out Cam-Do. They specialize in custom made products for, among other things, GoPros. Specifically, they have a battery eliminator. Directly from their site:
GoPro Battery Eliminator

If you are using the GoPro camera for extended periods, it is better to power the camera with a battery eliminator instead of connecting it to a charger. Cam-Do battery eliminators are available to power the camera from AC mains power or DC battery power over a wide range of input voltages.

The battery eliminator snaps into the battery slot of all GoProHero 3 and 3+ models and latches like the GoPro lid for a secure fit. Using a battery eliminator eliminates two sources of heat. The charging circuit in the camera and the battery itself, which gets warm while charging.
Less heat makes the camera more reliable. Overheating can cause unexpected shut-down of the camera.  A battery eliminator also bypasses the problems that some users have had with the GoPro charging logic causing the camera to freeze and require a reset.

This was exactly what I was looking for, so I ordered one at $59.95

What was included was the charge pack and some wire and a AC plug. I opted out of having them make me a custom and complete harness as it would tack on $20 to something I could do in a few minutes of my time.

So, I received it and I immediately set out to O'reilly's to see my best friend, Kevin, who manages the Wal-Trianaand  HW72 store. They did not have a direct plug in. So, I went home and looked around. In my rat's nest of spare electrical connectors, I found a fused cigarette plug. while I had several old chargers, I wanted this one because of the internal fuse. If something DID short, I didn't want a $300 camera and a $60 cable to strand me in the middle of a lake.

 Here are the materials I needed:

  •  cigarette lighter plug
  •  wire, adapter plugs
  •  soldering iron and solder
  •  wire strippers
  •  dikes
  •  silicone caulk. 

I cut the wire just below the plug and stripped it.Then I ran it through the grommet

One wire is solid black (+) and the other stripped (-). I slid the positive wire into the positive terminal of the supplied adapter plug and applied solder.

Obviously the next step was to thread the negative wire in to the slot on the grounding strap of the plug. Then, I soldered.
I took a pair of dikes and snipped the excess wire and solder, then filed it flat.

The next step was to fill the gap between the positive electrode and the ground strap with a silicone caulk to prevent the two from touching as well as waterproofing. I then slipped the grommet back on top of the plug.
I will be using this in a skeleton case, which has an open back. This isn't necessarily water proof (at all), so you must make a decision. You need to modify a sealed case (a case will cost you another $30), or deal with the possibility that water could ruin the camera. Now, there is an upside to the skeleton case: You will be able to capture sound. I want to be able to record sound and the the possibility of this case getting wet is low (compared to anywhere else on a boat) since it will be stationed on the console of the boat. The downside is that I won't be able to use it in a rainstorm without having another modified case, but that is a project for another day.

So, again, the upside is this: battery life is now a non-issue and for much cheaper than buying multiple batteries. Additionally, there will be no overheating concerns.

 Getting any fish on video in real time. I take great pride in being able to show you the cast, technique, hookset, and landing the opposed to cheating the system. Doing it right cost a lot of time, luck, work and even money. So, hopefully the number of fish that I have missed (either on camera or otherwise) will now be caught on video.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dialing in Your Humminbird Sonar / Down Imaging / Side Scan Unit

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Follow my Fish of 2014

***thanks to Wayne P from BBC for straightening me out on some stuff***
I had some vacation to kill on Friday before our last club tournament, so I decided to get out and look around. Initially I figured I would get some quality casts in, check some spots that I thought might be good to me for the club tournament, and if it slowed down, I was going to spend some time tweaking my Humminbird 798 which I haven't really used since I installed it, other than for basic GPS operation. But, after spending some time with Basswhacker and seeing how he utilized his when I Learned to Ledge Fish, I thought it wise to get up to speed. Luckily for me (or unluckily) the skies were very high, the wind was whipping and there was a BILLION boats on the water. I mean, it was nuts. There were 5 or 6 boats on every spot. Even on spots I had never seen anyone fish. So, I decided to start playing around with the Humminbird and stored my rods. I did manage to dial it in, which you can read my post about. I was amazed at how far off I was.

Sadly, I admit that I haven't spent any time dialing in that unit, simply because I was unfamiliar with it. I have tried to dial it in, but have been frustrated with it. In fact, I was fairly certain at one point that it simply wasn't working. I would cover miles of water and never really mark a single fish. I would dial the sensitivity up until it was nothing but noise. The sidescan would work, for the most part. I would mark rocks and stumps, but when I motored over them to inspect them with sonar, the bottom would be as flat as could be.  Additionally, I noticed the sidesscan wasn't as sharp as others I had seen. There really aren't a whole lot of knobs to twist, but the instruction guide doesn't do a lot to help you. Instead, I went to Bass Boat Central and did some reading. While every unit and install is different, and each act a little different in varying water conditions, I at least knew where I needed to be looking.

The more I thought about it, the more angry I became. After all, ultrasound is what I do for a living and I should be able to figure it out. So, instead of trying to learn what all the catch phrases and proprietary names of the Humminbird software meant, I instead read what it did. So, what did I change? How did I know it was working?

The first thing I did was find a way to aim at a stationary target. Obviously that's hard to do in a boat on the water. But, my friend John had suggested dropping a bait. So, I did just that. All I did was drop a good sized bait under the boat and dialed the unit in until I could see it on sonar. I would vary the depth and make sure I could track it. What did I change?

Well, first it is important to know what we are dealing with. The 798 comes with the XNT 9 SI 180 T transducer.  The XNT 9 is a compact transducer with  the same 2D crystals.  The SI crystals in the HDSI transducer are longer. The longer SI crystals in the HDSI transducer produce a thinner SI pulse and that produces sharper images. After doing some research, it is apparent that it isn't quite the best transducer that can be bought for the unit and I could enhance my SI capabity. alas, I am stuck with what I bought, since I bought it so cheap. So, we are already dealing with a little bit of a disadvantage, but it is what it is. It certainly isn't useless. And besides, I was most interested in making my 2D work.

The first thing you will notice about your unit is that there are two different frequencies that the transducer can pulse. It can operate at 83kHz and/or 200kHz In ultrasonics, the higher the frequency, the greater the resolution (or detail) but the greater the attenuation and scattering. What does that mean? In dirty water, the signal will be scattered a lot more. Additionally, the ability to penetrate is reduced. So, the ability to see fish in grass or in cover is diminished. On the flip side, the lower the frequency, the less scattering and attenuation and the greater penetration. However, the ability to see fine detail will be lost. The designers made it so that you could easily change between transducers for any type of fishing, whether it was bass or salt water. Depending on what you were after and where, you could dial in the unit. But, sometimes neither of these is perfect. I was looking in relatively cold and dirty water. With the lower frequency, I could see distinguish the general shape of more objects, but there were no fine lines. With the higher 200kHz probe, the whole screen was cluttered with noise and there was no way to distinguish what was noise and what was real. Yet, in neither case could I see the bait under the water. It didn't appear at all with the lower frequency and I couldn't distinguish it among the noise of the higher.

So, I quickly noticed that neither frequency would accomplish achieving what I wanted to see. But, I noticed that I could run both frequencies simultaneously. Additionally, I turned on "switch fire", which alternates between sensitivity levels. It can operate in "clear" which is automatic, or "max". I set it to max. Immediately, the visibility if my target was apparent. Of course, the more power I pumped through the system, the more "dead zone" was apparent on the screen. In ultrasonics, probes are focused on a point. Though they reach a maximum efficiency at that point, the data after that point, called the "far field" is useful data. The "near field", however, is a collection of constructive and destructive sound waves. It produces a useless signal. It is a fact of physics and is based on the probe diameter, frequency, and power applied. Since it is not likely that a fisherman is looking for fish 5 feet and closer to the boat, it is a fact of life that can be lived with.

Another thing I have been told is to match your GPS speed to chart speed for getting the best SI imaging. Otherwise structure on the bottom could be missed or distorted. And with 2D, I set my chart speed to 10 to get the fastest data.
Just like that, I could see great detail on the bottom and I was able to see fish, which I could see before. Check out this series of images!
You can clearly see a series of stumps on the bottom which are holding suspending fish above them.
Another one where you can spot the stumps on the right side of the boat on sidescan and also see the stumps with suspending fish above them.

It isn't perfect, but at least I am seeing structure and fish, where I hadn't been before. It should be noticed that changes in water temps and conditions have great affect on the day to day settings of your unit. Don't think you can set it one time and roll. The units are fairly simple to use, so once you learn what does what, it's easy to play with.

Weekend of 3/14-17/14

I know you were all just DYING to hear what the Taylor's were up to this weekend, right? I mean, a Monday wouldn't be complete without you taking time out of your day to read about ours.

The weekend kicked off on Friday night. Monrovia Parks and Recreation held their family night to celebrate the kick off of sports for the year. They really wanted to do it up this year! They featured a live band, free hotdogs for the kids, a number of inflatables, and a GREAT fireworks show!

I admit that I initially rolled my eyes. I just KNEW I would spend a fortune at feeding myself and Alyse. Plus, Griffin doesn't eat hotdogs. But, to my surprise I spent $12 on 3 bacon cheeseburgers. Not bad! Now, I did have to wait in line for over 30 minutes because I decided to use the wrong line.

There must have been a THOUSAND people at the park! And, I could see why! It was good, safe, American fun. We are pretty protective of our children and it was nice to be able to tell them "Take off. See you at dark." While Aubree played with her softball friends, Griffin decided he wanted to dance to the music of the live band. And so he did. For hours. But, hey, they kept saying they wanted people to come up to the stage. Apparently Griffin was the only taker, which was probably why they decided to pull him on stage.

I was amazed at how he wasn't shy. I guess it's because he has been in front of the microphone before.
And, ironically, when they asked him who he was, he responded with...
"I AM IRON MAN!" and proceeded to give everyone a repulsor blast. PEW PEW PEW! At this point, he probably thinks he IS Iron Man.

Gavin managed to beg for food like a little lost puppy to everyone around him, and most of which obliged him. Hey, it saves me money. And he isn't picky, so it works out GREAT!

When the fireworks started, I had to hold Aubree's hand. Not because I am sweet, but because she is a pansy and was holding her ears. I admit that I was the same way as a child. I hated loud noises!

No, this isn't my kid. It's my friend Jamie's. But, my phone was dead and she managed to take pics. Anyway, thanks Jamie for letting me borrow a pic.
It made for a great, but very long night. It was hard to get up and get going the next morning, especially when I had already gotten up early the previous morning so that I could go prefishing. I managed to get to Guntersville, do some looking around, make some notes, then completely ignore them all. But, the MFC Tournament #1 went decent enough. Go read about it, if you like. Cliff's notes...we won a check. Barely. But, we are on some maybe we can do well this coming weekend. I mean, the trend says so. We didn't do well at Eagle's Wings, we get 3rd on it's time to win! Yeah right. Can't win my own club.....But the check was sent and I am committed. 

 Alyse had a full day of her own, and by herself. She attended the "Lead me to the Cross 5K" and managed to get a little shopping at Lowe's done before she had to get the kids to and from ball games. It was Griffin's first game! His uniform swallows him! 

Aubree and Griffin both lost, but they played well. Griffin managed to get some good stops in the outfield and score a few runs! They gave him the game ball! I don't know if it was because he played so well, or if they doubted he would be able to have an impact in future games....the jury is out! 

So, I get home late Saturday. And, since I didn't want Alyse to worry about cooking, I loaded them all up and we headed to Texas Roadhouse. After all, that $29 check I won was burning a hole in my pocket! Aubree and I shared a steak. The perks of having a carnivore of a daughter! I can get big ole steaks and not feel bad about it! Griffin and Gavin managed to destroy two baskets of rolls. I think it was the cinnamon butter. I sure like it. 

On a sad note, my fishing jeans died today. Yes, I wear these every time I fish, but Saturday I had to do some stretching and managed to rip the crotch out of them. While I think they are perfectly acceptable, especially for keeping the Guntersville gnats out of my face (you will get it later) Alyse made me toss them.

Yesterday, Alyse was asked to throw a baby shower for her cousin, and of course she was happy to comply. So, I got the privilege of taking all 3 kids to church by myself. I can't complain. My wife does triple duty all the time. And, the kids were well behaved. So much so that Griffin's teacher bragged on him twice about how he knew EVERYTHING about Joshua. Of course, Joshua is probably my favorite Bible hero. He did what God told him to, all the time, and was a mighty warrior. He conquered a whole region. Anyway, that's off topic. 

After Church, Aubree went to the shower and the boys and I went to Dick's. You may recall that I snapped a rod at Eagle's Wings. Well, I am cheap. And convincing. So, I bought an identical rod, a service plan, and planned on returning the busted one. Don't judge. They did manage to sell me 2 other rods because they were buy 1 get 1 half price. So, ease up there. Besides, they owe me. They didn't give me a custom Skeet Reese jersey with my purchase. Rats. I like to mess with Josh by wearing one that I already have. It ticks him off something fierce. 

We had a lazy afternoon of watching The Incredibles, which is becoming one of Griffin and Gavin's favorites. Don't tell anyone, but I love it too. 

To top off the weekend, I cooked some venison tenderloin. I marinated it in Dale's for an hour, then paired it with my world famous mashed potatoes and lemon pepper carrots. Fantastic! 

MFC Tournament #1 on Guntersville

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube,  and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Follow my Fish of 2014

I had some vacation to kill on Friday before our club tournament, so I decided to get out and look around. Initially I figured I would get some quality casts in, check some spots that I thought might be good to me for the club tournament, and if it slowed down, I was going to spend some time tweaking my Humminbird 798 which I haven't really used since I installed it, other than for basic GPS operation. But, after spending some time with Basswhacker and seeing how he utilized his when I Learned to Ledge Fish, I thought it wise to get up to speed. Luckily for me (or unluckily) the skies were very high, the wind was whipping and there was a BILLION boats on the water. I mean, it was nuts. There were 5 or 6 boats on every spot. Even on spots I had never seen anyone fish. So, I decided to start playing around with the Humminbird and stored my rods. I did manage to dial it in, which you can read my post about. I was amazed at how far off I was.

Anyway, I ran from spot to spot looking for things that might be interesting. I paid specific attention to water temps. On Friday, the warmest water I found was 55 degrees at 1pm.

Long story short, I took down some notes and called it an early day.

I am continually amazed at how I over value my fishing abilities. Josh and I decided that if we caught 15-18 pounds early on Saturday, we would quit early and save fish for the Frederick's Marina tournament the next day. After all, we were pretty certain that we would at least do well enough to win our own club. Never mind the fact that the Fish of 2014 Page says I haven't caught anything all year. But, historically speaking, we have done well in this club. Let's go out and knock a homerun and shut it down early, then try and cash a fat check on Sunday.

Saturday morning, we headed to Scottsboro City ramp. And we waited in line. Now, I knew there was a highschool tournament featuring 220 boats, but that was several miles away in Guntersville. I knew there was a Fishers of Men from somewhere else. I wasn't expecting to be waiting in line at 5:45 AM at this ramp. But, as I posted on Facebook. It's Guntersville on a Saturday. It was blastoff time and we hit it hard!

Josh and I had decided to start out fishing a spot that he and another guy had discovered last year. I didn't know where it was, so I just went with it. It was back in a pocket and had a creek channel adjacent. We figured it was a safe bet. And, since we were one of the first boats out of the hole and it was relatively close by, we shouldn't have too much competition.


We pulled in and had to immediately wait behind another boat. They struck out and hit the road. We immediately noticed that the water was very warm and there was obviously bait in the area. Crappie were feeding and there were a lot of crappie boats in the area.I very quickly caught a short fish on a PTL 6" Gator. Another boat came in and started running the dirty water behind us. That didn't bother us, as we had just fished the spot. What did bother us was how close the boat was getting to us. And, as they neared us, instead of fishing perpendicular to the bank, they started casting ahead of their boat. Even casting across my line! then as soon as they had fished on top of us, they hit the trolling motor and jumped us. Fairly flabbergasted, we hit the trolling motor and moved on, only to watch them catch a nice keeper where we would have been fishing.

We decided to give that spot up, as there were a half dozen other boats in the vicinity. We moved down river to the spot where Josh and I won our very first tournament. Admittedly, I hadn't fished that spot again. In fact, neither of us had laid eyes on it until we won that tournament. We ran to it and found it also covered up with boats. We gave the nearby area a courtesy fish and left. We ran to a spot where we had finished very high in a NATA Tournament a few years previous. But, we quickly realized that the spot was a lot different than that year, most notably the lack of lilly pad stickups. So, again, a courtesy fish and we decide to move on after munching on some EOTWAWKI Jerky.

We talked it over. Even though we had only had 1 bite in the first spot, we did see other fish get caught. We did notice the water temperature was several degrees higher than anywhere on the main river. And, we knew there was bait in the area because we had seen lots of crappie busting the surface. We made the decision at about noon that we would grind it out here, even if we struck out.

For the first hour, we did just that. It got so bad that I turned the GoPros off completely. There were nearly dead from videoing dead air all day anyway. We tried a variety of baits but mostly threw XCalibur XR series baits in a variety of colors or a swim job backed by a PTL Swinging Hammer. I had given up chucking and winding and had resorted myself back to the Gator, as it produced the only fish we had caught. I admit that I had mentally left fishing some time before. Josh was on me. He kept reminding me that all we needed was 1 bite. Maybe it would be a monster. Maybe it would be a technique that would give us the info we needed. But, I half way listened. It was just another day on the water for me. That was until a bump that nearly took the road out of my hand jarred me awake. I set the hook and leaned into the fish. But, the fish surged for deeper water, never showed its face, and made every effort to convince me that it was a drum. I yelled at Josh to get the net. It was either a nasty drum or a massive bass.

Sure enough, the girl showed herself and it was a big ole sow. After several attempts to net, Josh finally bagged her. In the box she went and we were on the board!

We had noticed that this area was very unique. Not just the pocket, but a very short section. So, we fished the same spot I had just caught the beast. 45 minutes later, Josh set the hook on a fish. When we saw it, were elated. Another nice fish!
We started feeling a little better about the situation, even though it was getting on towards 2PM. We thought that one of these fish might get us a big fish check. Two might manage to get us near the money. 3, on a day like today, would almost certainly do it. I had a bite on the Gator. I snagged the fish, felt the weight, felt the fish fight, and just like that she was gone. I pulled the bait in, which was now balled up around the hook, and found now teeth marks on the bait. Whatever it was, it was big enough to engulf the whole bait without touching it and pissed off enough to tug on it when it tugged back.

We went right back to it. I turned on the cameras, thinking we would grab some video gold. And, we did...sorta.

Josh laid back into a fish, but hit me in the face with the rod. He didn't get to sink the hooks deep and when the 8 pound fish surfaced, she threw the crank. Josh immediately pointed me to the back of the boat and told me to stay there.

At 2:15, still fishing the same small spot, Josh snagged another fish. We got this one in the boat. We figured we would have a check waiting on us, it was just a matter of if someone found the fish. Even a small limit wouldn't beat us with these 3 fish, which we thought were 18 pounds.

We found our club at the ramp, and it took 30 minutes of waiting in line to get the Bullet out of the water, which included 2 different people cutting in front of me. By the time we made the scales, everyone else had weighed in. I had talked to enough club members to know that they hadn't done much. But, as we produced the 3 pigs, I didn't hear the "ohs and ahs" I figured we would get. Instead, we got a few "nice fish." I asked if we should weigh both our bigger fish. I was told no. No? I mean, these were 6 pound fish! They told me that unless I had an 8 pounder hidden, it was a waste.

Of course, minutes later I found out it took 23 pounds to win and a 7.62 pound fish to win big check.

But, we did cash the 3rd place check, so I felt a little better. But not much. Everyone that saw this picture on my Facebook Page asked why I looked angry with 3 nice fish. I replied "Because it wasn't 5."
Josh and I always have some good conversations on the way back from tournaments. I can tell you that it is almost never backslapping. It's usually what we did wrong. What we should have done. What we did right, but didn't do it enough. And, so, with the NATA Open on the horizon (this Saturday) we are in unfamiliar territory for us. We actually think we are on some fish. In previous years, we have "eliminated water" in our prefishing. This spot seems consistent, the question is where they are in their spawning pattern and what they want to eat. While we didn't even weigh in a limit, we did identify that we KNEW the spot was good. It had all the makings of a good spot, but we never should have left it. It had a deep bank next to a spawning flat. It had bait. It had warm water. Tournament fishing isn't fun fishing. If it was fun fishing, sure, leave the spot and find somewhere they are biting. In tournament fishing, you grind it. You aren't trying to catch 30 fish. Just 5. Sad thing is, we had our chance and didn't seal the deal, despite not listening to our instincts. Lesson learned. Let's see if it pays off in 5 days! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

AR-15 V2.0 Part 2: Upper Assembly

In case you aren't up to date with this build, head on over and read AR-15 V2.0 Part 1

So, I ordered my complete upper assembly on February 14th. We received our Tax Refund and I was itching to spend some cash, Best 5 Zach Style.

Well, as things go at Palmetto State Armory these days, it takes FOR-EVER to get anything. Now they do stipulate a 14 days lead time on assembled orders, but at the 3rd week, a small package showed up with my full auto bolt and carrier group and flip up rear site.
I have to admit that I was not impressed with the flip up rear site. But, it's on sale for $39 and you get what you pay for. It is inferior, in my opinion, to the Knight's Armament flip up on my other gun. So, I will be swapping.

I oiled up the BCG and stored it. It comes bone dry, so to protect it and get it ready for installation and firing, it's good to oil it up for several days. The BCG is the PSA Premium Full Auto BCG. Here are the details:

  • Milspec Carpenter No. 158® steel bolt
  • Shot Peened Bolt
  • High pressure tested (HPT)
  • Mag particle inspected (MPI)
  • Chrome Lined Carrier (AUTO)
  • Chrome Lined Gas Key
  • Gas Key Hardened to USGI Specifications
  • Gas Key Grade 8 Hardened Fasteners
  • Gas Key Staked Per Mil-Spec
  • Tool Steel Extractor
  • Extractor Spring
  • Extractor O-ring Insert
This past weekend, I had quite the ordeal with UPS. First, on Friday. Then, another miss on Monday. But yesterday, the package FINALLY showed up. I was already in a good mood and I bet the UPS man thought my karaoke of "Just Got Paid" was awesome. Here are the specs on the upper, which can be found here.

16" Barrel length
Chrome moly vanadium barrel
5.56 Nato Chamber
1 in 7" twist rate
Chrome-lined bore
HPT/MPI Barrel
M4 Feed ramps
F-Marked Front sight post
A2 Flash Hider
Sling Loop
Standard Hand Guards w/ heat shields
Forged upper receiver
Vortex Strikefire Red-dot optic

30 seconds later, I had the upper mounted and the BCG dropped in. 5 more minutes and I had the Vortex Strikefire mounted. Now, in case you were wondering, the Strikefire untit came with the upper as a promotional deal. It was essentially free, though it is selling On-Sale at PSA for $120. So far, I am very pleased with the unit, except that it uses CR2 batteries, which none of my other accessories use. But, I love the visibility, the ease of operation, and the waterproofing on it. Here are the specs:

When the situation demands fast shooting, a big scope with a narrow field of view just won't cut it—choose the StrikeFire red dot and shoot with both eyes open. With unlimited field of view and eye relief, nothing gets you on target faster than this tough, compact red dot scope.

Optic has option for both RED/Green Dots.

•High recoil caliber rating—tested with .375 H&H Magnum for 1000 rounds.
•Included extra-high 30mm ring puts scope's bore center 37 mm (1.46 inches) above the base height. Commonly used for mounting with a Flat Top AR15, providing lower 1/3 co-witness with iron sights.

So, here is how it looks!

I swapped the Knight's Armament flip up rear site and a single point sling.

So, what's next? Well, I didn't exactly mount the Vortex unit as I would for final assembly. Right now it is simply bolted down. I will be chucking it up on my AR vice block and properly mount it. I will probably do that today or tomorrow, depending on when the aforementioned vice block gets here.

Additionally, I don't really like the A2 front site. It doesn't really interfere with my Vortex unit, but it is visible and I don't like that. Additionally, I won't be making this gun all "tacti-cool" and I don't plan on buying a rail system. I do plan on using a bipod for distanced shooting. Instead, I was looking for a low profile gas block that had picatinny rails. I found just what I wanted in the UAG gas block.
Now, the reviews of this piece aren't glowing. I have read that the set screw used (3 per side) are soft metal and they strip. So, I will be buying a set of stainless set screws before I ever install this piece on the gun.

So, that brings us to the following:

  • Anderson MFG lower: $60 after tax
  • PSA Classic LPK- $87 shipped
  • PSA Full auto BCG
  • PSA M4 Upper w/ strikefire-$572
  • UAG gas block-$24.95
  • AR vice blocks-$24.95
  • Knight's Armament flip up rear site-$120
  • Total: $890
  • Wednesday, March 12, 2014

    The Lunch Update

    When I was contemplating if I should write a blog post for today, I initially thought that I didn't have anything to talk I should just skip today.

    But, after thinking for a few minutes, I realized that there were indeed a couple of opportunities for you all to share some yucks with me. Or at me. Either way, you are reading. So that makes it worth it.

    Let's start out with the continuation of the UPS drama. Ok, so you may know that I am in the middle of finishing up my latest rifle build. If you are interested in reading about it, go read about AR V2.0. If you don't care about it, or are terrified of the "black gun", or are convinced that I am some version of David Koresh, then back away slowly. 

    Anyways, so, I was bamboozled by UPS on Friday regarding the delivery of my parts. And, according to the email I received after they said "oooppss....just kidding", it was supposed to show up yesterday between 330-530. Again, signature required. So, I was home at 330 on the dot. For 30 minutes I sat outside, enjoyed the sun, then got bored and practiced flipping a jig into the cupholder of my chair. Now, if you would have told me 2 years ago that I could do that, I would have laughed. Now, if only I could catch fish.....

    Anyways, I organized some baits, listed a bunch for sale, and was flooded with texts asking me why I was quitting fishing. No. I am not quitting. I am much too vain and headstrong for that. 

    At 4, I decided to go get the kids. Alyse doesn't get home on time to get them and the UPS man ALWAYS comes around 5-5:30. 5 minutes later, I turn on to my street to see the UPS man leaving. Of course I find the note on the door telling me "no, you can't sign a piece of paper and we will leave it on your door step". So, today, for the third time....I will be coming home early. 

    Well, no time to sweat about it. We got ball to play.  I had about 15 minutes to slingshot some sustenance down Aubree and Griffin's throat before practice. So, as I was warming up food, Aubree came up to me and asked me a very simple questions to which I could not keep a straight face.

    "Daddy, can you make money by dancing? 'Cause I think that would be awesome!"

    And then Griffin comes in right behind her and says:

    "Daddy! I don't like ants. 'Cause they bite."

    Well, that's good to know. 

    So, we head to practice. Griffin had practice at 5 and Aubree at 6:30. I help out with both of them, though with Griffin it isn't really practice as much as doing this: 
    I will say this: Griffin isn't the best player out there, he absolutely LOVES being out on the field and playing with his friends. Speaking of love, he felt like he needed to give me a hug every single play. And, after hugging me, he has to go around to his "fray-ends" and give them high-5s. But, I must say that I really enjoyed his affection. I also love seeing him make friends. He is one of the most social kids I have ever seen. 

    It's amazing  to me how much different girls are than boys. If a ball is hit between two girls, neither will pick it up. Boys will fight their own team mate in the outfield to get the ball. On the other hand, you tell a girl who is standing on 2nd base "don't run until I tell you to" and she won't. A boy will look at you, nod, then promptly run into a tag as you yell, scream, and stomp on your hat. 

    Speaking of girls, Aubree's practice was a lot of work for all of us. Getting outs of any sort is a big deal in 8U softball. You get a lot of strikeouts as it is, but if you can get 1 fielding out an inning, you will win games. Of course, that's easier said than done. Some girls are great fielders, but can't throw. Some can throw and can't field. That's about 10% of the players. The other 90% can't do either and probably never even saw the ball to begin with. I don't remember baseball being hard, but it must have been. To get outs, you have to field the ball cleanly, first thing .That's a tough thing to do (apparently). You have to get your body in front of it, you have to get your glove on the ground, etc etc. While I don't have any Olympic softball players, it would appear, I do have girls who would make fantastic bull fighters. Don't get it? 
    So, what's the solution? Reps. Lots of them. So, we lined the girls up in two different lines and I hit balls at them. Now, I knew I was hitting the ball hard. Probably harder than any girl in the league is going to hit them. But, if you can field these hits, you can field anything. So, for 45 minutes, each girl averaged a rep every 30 seconds. But the time I was done, I had blisters on my delicate hands from hitting. And, I had laser holes bored in the back of my head from all the parents who were glaring at me. But, you know what, they will thank me later. 

    Of course, after practice Gavin finally got into the action, after crying to come play through BOTH practices. After watching his siblings so much, he knows exactly what to do. He puts a ball on the T, hits it, then takes off running while yelling "GOGOGOGOGOGOGO!"

    This morning was the 2nd part of my yearly physical here at work. All that is, is a review of my blood work. So, the doctor spent 30 seconds to tell me I am fat and my cholesterol is high and 30 minutes telling me how Obama Care sucks. I guess that's the important part. Then I got the obligatory, "would you like a rectal exam? It's free!" To which I replied that I get bent over by the government enough as it is. I don't really need a government doctor to inspect the damage.