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Friday Tour d’Horizon: Clearing the Spindle


Check this Out: 80% 1911 frames

stealth_arms_80_1911_and_jigFrames and jigs in aluminum alloy from Stealth Arms. Interesting to us, the Phantom jig uses a sliding cutter that comes with it, rather than require a milling machine. We may write more about this anon.

These are available at a discount from Sportsman’s Guide if you’re a member of their Buyers’ Club racket.

Sub-firearm 1911 frame blanks have been hard to come by in the last couple of years. Stealth Arms represents themselves as having several styles of “80%” receiver. Note that “80%” is a term commonly accepted in the gun world, but not in law or by ATF. ATF rules (sometimes arbitrarily) whether a given product is a firearm or “not a firearm;” they never, ever, validate anybody’s percentage claim.

Recommended by a Commenter:

They have a new CNC mill coming, and meanwhile, have an interesting set of Shapeoko (CNC router) kits, and an interesting online application, Easel. Personally, we wouldn’t trust a cloud app for firearms parts data. We’ve played with Easel and it’s pretty cool, but we just can’t get over the trust hump here.

SIG-based Guns from Chile coming here

TFB is reporting that Chile’s FAMAE, which makes the SIG 540 under license, and has derived many of its own guns from that weapon (including blowback 9mms), is planning to bring them into the USA, with the compact carbines coming in as pistols, with separate stocks available for those who want to put them on Form 1. How they plan to work around 922(r) is not really clear to us; do Read The Whole Thing™ from the good guys over at TFB.

Humongous BAR Training Aid

A BAR training aid at 2:1 scale. Ian references some of the other versions in the video (link only, we haven’t figured out how to embed from


We’ve seen the M1 he mentions and an M1 carbine, and they used M16A1s along these lines in our basic training in the 1970s.

This one appears to have been modified… the metal “handguard” wasn’t always there.  It’s available at the RIA online auction on 28 March 15.

Shooting an AR to Death

We seem to recall citing or posting this video before, but in it, Iraq Veteran 8888 fires 830 rounds on full-auto, until his barrel bursts (he says it’s the gas tube but it isn’t. Seems to gibe with what we alredy lerned about ARs and long-term results of cyclic firing.

Yeah, the video’s longish. But several things are interesting. A full magazine before the ultimate failure at 830 rounds, you can see the muzzle brake unscrewing itself (on the next mag you can see it depart, but not where it goes — probably 6-10 feet downrange. This is a good reason to have a magnet like the ones roofing contractors use for cleanup in your range truck). The burst is in an interesting place, further forward than it comes on a GI barrel. (Lack of chrome plating may account for that). Note that long before the failure, the barrel is no good in terms of accuracy, and he observes that it’s completely shot out when he looks at the damaged barrel afterward. (Pity he didn’t borescope it).

Note also that he pauses between mags, sizes things up, looks around. In a fight you might not do that. And if he were not pausing (sometimes a minute or more) before locking a new mag in, the weapon would have failed sooner. Our guess is that it would be in the 400-500 range where Colt and US Army tests have shown the M4 vulnerable.

Note that, just as it took more rounds for this cyclic-rate experiment to fail tge barrel than the Colt and Army experiments, it would probably take more rounds for near-cyclic semi-auto fire to produce this kind of failure.

Still sure you want a Shrike or other beltfed AR?

Click “More” to continue to Part 2: Unconventional Warfare, Part 3: Cops and Robbers; and Part 4: Poly-Ticks. (Because this is looooong).

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VA Secretary Robert McDonald is a Stolen Valor Phony and Must Resign.

VA-veterans-affairsWhy are we not really shocked that the Beltway drone that the Beltway dredged up to continue mismanaging the Veterans Administration is a Stolen Valor character, specifically, a Special Forces poseur?

McDonald graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1975 and completed Army Ranger training before being assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division until his retirement in 1980. According to the Huffington Post, while McDonald was formally recognized as a graduate of Ranger School, he never actually served in a Ranger battalion or other special operations unit.

“I have no excuse,” the website quoted McDonald as saying in its report. “I was not in special forces.”

Mac, “I have no excuse” worked when you were being braced by an upperclassman for violating some nit noy Point regulation or custom. What you have violated here is neither trivial nor excusable. It reveals a collossal lack of respect for those that you are ostensibly assisting. The only acceptable outcome is resignation or dismissal.

Funny thing: it almost certainly was a line he threw out in the direction of another phony.

In a statement released Monday by the VA, McDonald said: “While I was in Los Angeles, engaging a homeless individual to determine his veteran status, I asked the man where he had served in the military. He responded that he had served in special forces. I incorrectly stated that I had been in special forces.

Like most Special Forces vets, we run into so many phonies that we’re pleasantly surprised when the guy with the SF hat, shirt or claim turns out to be the real thing. We have never encountered a homeless bum whose claims of veteran status were entirely true, and never encountered one who actually served in any SOF capacity. This is not saying that there are none, just that most veteran claims among the homeless are bullshit.

Kind of like McDonald’s, actually.

“That was inaccurate and I apologize to anyone that was offended by my misstatement.”

“Inaccurate?” “Misstatement?” Bullshit, Mac. It was a lie. To put it in terms even a brainwashed Academy mind can understand, it was an Honor Code Violation. Remember that? It goes something like this:

“A cadet will not lie, cheat or steal, nor tolerate those who do.”

Let us explain how this works. You just blew it spectacularly on the first clause, and now the rest of us implement the second. You are lost. Your soul is forfeit. You are unfit for your position. You must resign. You may not believe it, serving as you do an Administration that had no qualms about a Secretary of State who also slung cross-border bullshit about his military career, another who “remembered” being under fire (but never was), and a Secretary of the Treasury who was a serial and decadelong tax chiseler.

You probably can’t understand this, in your monumental, towering self-regard, but you’ve blown it on this to a much greater level than if you simply were a greedy, crooked tax cheat like Timothy Geithner. This goes to your fitness for any job, but it goes doubly for your fitness for this job.

McDonald told the Huffington Post that he had “reacted spontaneously and … wrongly” in response to the homeless man’s claim.

What. The. Prevarication. “Reacted spontaneously?” Let’s throw some comparisons out there so you all can see what this really is.

When I met Richard Petty, I reacted spontaneously and told him I, too, was a NASCAR legend.

When I visited the Little Sisters of the Poor, I couldn’t resist telling my press retinue about my own formative period in a religious mendicant order. 

When I ran in to Clint Eastwood out the back gate of DLI, I reacted spontaneously and told him I had three Oscars.

On touring Studio Two at Abbey Road, I was pleased to see they still had my guitar in the corner.

When Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey came to town, I reacted spontaneously and told a press conference I was the Flying Wallendas.

Something’s flying here, and it’s not Wallendas. No doubt they’re flying in Sarasota, getting ready for the season, and not lying about what they did and didn’t do. Which makes any one of them a better choice for Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs than McDonald.

What this is, of course, is narcissism writ so large that it’s swallowed the guy’s actual accomplishments, which are not trivial — if we can trust anything else he’s uttered. And there you see the reason for the Honor Code: it sheaths the credibility of a cadet and graduate of the Academy in the armor of righteousness. But that armor is hard to the point of brittleness: one crack and the whole thing goes. Q.E.D.

(The SF Honor Code, by the way, is nothing formal, but is what sociologists call “in-group morality,” aligning well with the Rogers Rangers Standing Order — as given in the mid-20th-Century book and movie Northwest Passage: “You can tell other folks anything you want about the Rangers, but don’t never lie to a Ranger nor officer.”)

Returning to the subject, we have never seen longterm good come out of employing narcissists. (“Spotlight Rangers” is an in-group term for ‘em). In a way, they’re a leader’s delight: keep the spotlight on ‘em, they perform highly. Easy! But they’re corrosive to trust in the ranks and up and down the chain of command.

The Navy frequently reports that it has sacked some captain or admiral because they have lost confidence in his or her ability to command. It’s been a cold end to many storied careers. Recently, the flailing Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, went to the politically friendly Gannett newspapers with a story that says the Army has relieved 139 battalion and brigade commanders over the last 10 years of so. (These are lieutenant colonels and colonels. For civilians, “relieved” is like being dropped from a particular management job, but it usually carries with it a delayed-action end of service. Our guess is about 10% of these reliefs have been performance problems, 50% have been conduct problems — diddling the help, and drinking-and-driving, mostly — and 40% have been failures of political correctness). The Army uses a rationale much like the Sea Service does: a colonel who has stepped on his Johnson in a public way has a hard time maintaining the confidence of troops and/or political leaders, so it’s time for that officer to go.

Secretary McDonald, what time is it?

But wait, he’s not done making excuses for himself.

“As I thought about it later, I knew that this was wrong,” McDonald said of his false statement.

What. The. — Wait, we already said that. Lord love a duck! You need to think about it later to understand that lying about your attainments is wrong? What else is AFU in that guy’s values and morals? What else is he lying about?

In our experience, with Stolen Valor guys it’s never just one incident and it’s never the only thing they’re bent about. There’s a lot of comorbidity with other kinds of corruption and crime. The only possible answer is dismissal.

Well, at least an Administration that’s stayed in practice by sacking scores and hundreds of ship skippers and battalion COs for lapses of PC will have no trouble firing the guy, right?

Er… wrong.

The White House released a statement Monday evening saying that it had accepted McDonald’s explanation.

“Secretary McDonald has apologized for the misstatement and noted that he never intended to misrepresent his military service,” the statement said. “We take him at his word and expect that this will not impact the important work he’s doing to promote the health and well-being of our nation’s veterans.”

Hey, because Stolen Valor doesn’t matter to them, either.

McDonald is a fraud, a poser and a phony. He’s fundamentally dishonest at something that goes to the core of his character and his fitness for this position.

If there was a strand of the Military Academy Cadet left inside him, he’d already have killed himself. But since there isn’t, McDonald must resign.

via VA Secretary Robert McDonald admits lying about Special Forces service | Fox News.

A Truer Turing

AlanTuringAlan Turing is one of the most interesting and memorable characters in the cast of players that presented the wartime drama known as Bletchley Park. And last night, a movie about him won, or didn’t win, an Oscar (we had to endure the first half-hour of the telecast last night as a social obligation, and then happily came home and plunged into the workshop, where things happen in three real dimensions in metal, wood and plastics). We haven’t seen the movie any more than we watched the Oscar telecast, so we’ll reserve personal judgment on it, but we’ve read widely on Bletchley ever since the first revelations were published (which we seem to recall was The Ultra Secret by Higginbotham, circa 1974 or 75). We have read numerous accounts published since then in everything from in-house NSA and GCHQ publications to popular magazines. We have read two biographies of Turing, both of which slightly overstate his contribution to computer science and perhaps to codebreaking, but which also display his true complexity and challenge as a human being.

Comes one Christian Caryl in the New York Review of Books with a nuanced and intelligent critique of the movie, in which he perceives errors great (“film does its best to ladle in extra doses of intrigue where none existed”) and small (the natty presentation of star Benedict Cumberbatch is at odds with Turing’s inattention to personal hygiene). His conclusions include this:

The movie version, in short, represents a bizarre departure from the historical record.

He goes on to mention in a few lines why this is so, and why Hollywood has fallen so short of the real Turing and his — and others’ — accomplishments, in their Hollywood attempt to turn every story into a Western with a bad guy in a black hat. Despite the fact that they had one of the best stories ever, and the best villain ever (really: Adolf Freaking Hitler his ownself), right at hand, they had to force-fit Turing’s story into Save the Cat! format, and they did so at the price of understanding the real Turing. The villain? Not an actual enemy, he has to be an in-house homophobe, so they put the devil’s horns on Commander Alastair Dennison, the (in the real world) even-tempered and brilliant Royal Navy officer who led the effort.

In reality, Turing was an entirely willing participant in a collective enterprise that featured a host of other outstanding intellects who happily coexisted to extraordinary effect. The actual Denniston, for example, was an experienced cryptanalyst and was among those who, in 1939, debriefed the three Polish experts who had already spent years figuring out how to attack the Enigma, the state-of-the-art cipher machine the German military used for virtually all of their communications. It was their work that provided the template for the machines Turing would later create to revolutionize the British signals intelligence effort. So Turing and his colleagues were encouraged in their work by a military leadership that actually had a pretty sound understanding of cryptological principles and operational security. As Copeland notes, the Nazis would have never allowed a bunch of frivolous eggheads to engage in such highly sensitive work, and they suffered the consequences. The film misses this entirely.

bomba_fullThe Polish story is told in a book by Józef Gárlinski, and in this article (.pdf) from the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing by Marian Rejewski, one of the Polish codebreakers. Highly recommended. Even Caryl misses that the bombe, a key machine for Enigma decoding, was originally a Polish invention (as the “bomba”), although Turing thoroughly reinvented and improved it. The two biographers of Turing are Andrew Hodges and Jack Copeland; the movie drew more on Hodges’s 1983 bio, but didn’t do either justice.

These errors are not random; there is a method to the muddle. The filmmakers see their hero above all as a martyr of a homophobic Establishment, and they are determined to lay emphasis on his victimhood. The Imitation Game ends with the following title: “After a year of government-mandated hormonal therapy, Alan Turing committed suicide in 1954.” This is in itself something of a distortion. Turing was convicted on homosexuality charges in 1952, and chose the “therapy” involving female hormones—aimed, in the twisted thinking of the times, at suppressing his “unnatural” desires—as an alternative to jail time. It was barbarous treatment, and Turing complained that the pills gave him breasts. But the whole miserable episode ended in 1953—a full year before his death, something not made clear to the filmgoer.

In the Hollywood version the only thing important about Turing is that he was queer. (They didn’t call it “gay” in his lifetime). Perhaps because the filmmakers can’t understand mathematics, or physics, or cryptography, they make their complex and individual protagonist channel Spock, himself an impossible, fictional character.

Caryl’s denunciation of the film’s many errors is absolutely worth reading in depth, so do Read The Whole Thing™. As he puts it,

[I]f you want to see the real Alan Turing, you’re better off reading the books.

The sad thing is that most people won’t. And the desaturated, dull, helpless Turing of the movie will become the one preserved in cultural memory.

Moms for #Mowersense — “If it saves one hand!”

Ban it now. For the children!

Ban it now. For the children!

From the New York Times, a story on 3D printing yields a tale of a plague of amputations at the hands of deadly assault lawnmowers. Who do people even have these things? Don’t they know you’re supposed to delegate your lawn mowing to The Help? (Kind of like raising the kids in the first place, now that we think of it).

The proliferation of 3-D printers has had an unexpected benefit: The devices, it turns out, are perfect for creating cheap prosthetics. Surprising numbers of children need them: One in 1,000 infants is born with missing fingers, and others lose fingers and hands to injury. Each year, about 450 children receive amputations as a result of lawn mower accidents, according to a study in Pedatrics.

via 3-D Printing Prosthetic Hands That Are Anything but Ordinary –

It was even more traumatic: the Times’s Jaqueline Mroz originally wrote that 9,000 kids got extremities mowed off annually; people who actually read the Pediatrics paper (or even the abstract, as the full article is greedwalled) forced the Times to issue a grudging correction. (Also, a plurality of those amputations were of feet and toes, so they’re not really germane to an article on prosthetic hands and fingers; she wrote “9,000” but the real number  — the real estimate – is closer to “215.”)

That’s the Times for you. Of course, the Times’s writers work with English Major Math where 450 equals 9,000 because both are integers evenly divisible by 9, or something. And 215 equals 450 because it’s close enough. One supposes it matters not to the readership of the Times, but rather more to the kids whose extremities were lopped off, or not.

This is the paper whose editor said that in her house, growing up, the Times was their God.

Explains a lot.

Mroz is, of course, engaging in that phoned-in form of Modern Journalism, plagiarizing an activist’s press release. The national socialists at Pediatrics conclude that what we need is Moar National Socialism in the form of, we are not making this up, bans on lawnmowers that mow in reverse as well as forward (because, no mowing backwards = no backing over kids too slow to get out of the way) and other scary assault-mower features, as well as banning riding-lawnmower operation by children under 16. This is not new; the editors have been banging this gong since 2001 at least, and the 9000 number that got Mroz so excited comes, not from the new study, but from the 2001 editorial. (It’s actually 9,400, and we assume she rounded in the correct direction completely by accident). The activists Mroz is supporting just repeat the old data in the new study.

The innumerate (but crushingly well-meaning!) Mroz may be the source of the canard that one in five female university students is raped. (“Oh, did I say five? I meant some thousands or other. These silly numbers, they’ve got a different one for everything!”)

And perhaps the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics assigned a team of eight national socialist pediatricians in 2001 to develop and renew its long-term Central Plan for lawnmower domination, might say a thing or two about why the AAP’s national socialists take such an intense personal interest in your ownership of firearms, and in legislating against same and using your kid’s doctor as a spy against you.

But in the meantime, we’re waiting for Der Bloomführer to deploy his dimbulb minionette army against the scourge of lawn mowers, any minute.

After all, if it saves one kid’s booger hook, we in the gun culture can make a trigger finger out of it!

To Two Desperate Sailors, they were Coast Gods

Why you’d go sailing off Nantucket in a February storm is beyond us, and we grew up in New England, and in boats. (Hmmm. Maybe that;’s why we don’t do this stuff, and this father-and-sun Sumdood team did). Why the US Coast Guard goes out off Nantucket in February is less of a mystery — it’s their job. In this case, they saved two knuckleheads who were out in 25-foot seas in a 43-foot boat with no auxiliary power (well, they had a motor, but it failed) and, thanks to near-hurricane winds, no sails either.

USCH rescue 16 Feb 15

Hot tip, Regatta Rick: ribbons of shredded sailcloth can’t make steerage way.

The ferocity of the storm grounded USCG fixed wing aircraft, but not the HH-60 rescue helicopter. (For technical reasons, which we’ll explain if somebody wants, rotorcraft are much less sensitive to winds than fixed-wing aircraft). The rescue was complicated by the sailboat’s high mast.

“Things I don’t want tangled in my hoist line for $500, Alex!”

The First Coast Guard District command center in Boston contacted the men by satellite phone after receiving an alert beacon signal from the Sedona at about 4:50 a.m. Sunday.

The 43-foot vessel lost power approximately 150 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts.

There’s not much due south of Nantucket until you hit Captain Jack Sparrow’s happy haunting grounds. Unless you want to count all the boats, ships and the occasional U-boat on the ocean floor. These guys were going to join that company in a matter of hours, if someone couldn’t snatch them off their boat.

A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew was launched from a Coast Guard Air Station in Cape Cod and reached the Sedona about four hours later, officials said. Arriving crews found the disabled yacht adrift in 25-foot seas.

via Coast Guard Rescues Sailors Off Nantucket in Winter Storm – NBC

The rescue seemed to go according to Coast Guard SOP. They lowered the rescue swimmer, who brought up first the father, then the son, and had them shelter forward in the H-60. They were both healthy. The boat? Left to the mercies of Poseidon.

You May Leave The Service, But It Stays With You

USMC EGA eagle globe and anchorCase in point: Navy vet Glenn Israel and his buddy, Marine vet Donnie Navidad, who were attending an Oakland Raiders game, when they faced a situation you can’t anticipate or train for. They spotted (Israel) and tried to catch (Navidad) a young girl who fell or jumped, she was so drunk she’s not sure, from a stadium balcony to the concrete below.

They didn’t save her from serious injury — she bounced off Navidad, injuring him, and hit the floor, critically injuring herself — but they, and some switched-on doctors, saved her life. This clip is from the fourth page of a remarkable Sports Illustrated story about the case of Brittany Bryan and how military training forty-plus years ago that lets her story have years of happiness ahead. The story begins here.

Glenn Israel injured his ankle in the Navy, moving 500-pound bombs around flight decks during a 10-year stint. He served in Vietnam, which is precisely what Donnie Navidad envisioned doing when he tried to enlist in the Navy out of high school in 1970. Donnie’s dad had been a Navy man. But the Naval recruiter asked him to wait a week, and so he joined the Marines instead after taking a one-page test that would change his life, and eventually save Brittany Bryan’s.

His wife Lora says he “thinks like a Marine and acts like a Marine,” from his serious nature to his ability to always make her feel safe. Sometimes it’s like he just walked out of boot camp last week. He can still make a Swiss harness seat out of rope, a skill you don’t need in daily American life, because “[t]here are things that are in you that will never leave you.” But there is one thing this Marine never did.

Ask Navidad if he served in Vietnam, and his choice of words is telling: “I didn’t get to go.” Lora thinks that bothered him; he was a Marine, but he never really did what Marines were trained to do. Then one day he posed for that photo by the Al Davis Memorial Flame, and the Navy vet told the Marine: She’s coming down right now.

“You are trained to react under those kinds of conditions,” Navidad says. “It’s just a reaction. You are in a civilian mode, you are enjoying life, and you see this body falling … are you going to let this human life splatter in front of you? Come on. Had I let that happen, I’m a wreck.”

It’s a remarkable story, and you should Read The Whole Thing™. Well done, Marine.

A Deputy FOIA’d His Own Department’s Complaints. Here’s What He Learned

thin_blue_lineYou know that, “Thin Blue Line of Silence”? The term that generally enrages the living daylights out of our cop friends, because (1) they’re absolutely ready to throw a crooked or out-of-control cop off the force, and (2) they also know that every complaint is investigated, no matter how frivolous. Despite the fact that cops often seem to be handled gently by internal investigations (kind of like the way the bar association acts as enabler for corrupt lawyers), Matt, a career officer, knew that in his department, an out-of-line deputy was a lot more likely to be stopped by a fellow deputy. He FOIA’d the statistics that he thought would prove that, as he said, “the ‘cops don’t rat on other cops’ line is nothing but hogwash.” Sure, he admits, that has happened at times, but he resents the hell out of the idea that all cops do it.

And the numbers, which he published at The Bang Switch, seem to back him up.

In an effort to spread the truth, I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to my own department regarding internal affairs complaints.  What I specifically requested was, for the last five (5) years, the number of complaints and whether or not they were substantiated.  But beyond those simple numbers, I asked to have the numbers split between public complaints filed and those filed internally, you know, the cops who always cover for dirty cops.

Here are the raw numbers, in a graphic:

If you were to look at just the statistics from public complaints, it would most certainly look like we were protecting our own due to the massive percentage of unsubstantiated complaints (98%).   It would still somewhat have that appearance if you were to just look at the total number of complaints as a whole (16%).  However, what I find most interesting is not only the number of internal complaints, but the significantly higher percentage of those complaints being substantiated.  Internal affairs complaints, filed by other deputies occurred an average of 1/3 as often as complaints filed by the public, yet they have a 2,500% better chance of being substantiated (50% substantiated for internal complaints vs. 2% for public complaints).

via That “Blue Code Of Silence”, That’s Not… | The Bang Switch.

To us, the most telling thing is not that the internal complaints were more likely to be substantiated — there could be many reasons for this. For example, conduct might have to be worse to motivate cops to file a complaint rather than try to resolve it face-to-face with a brother officer, compared to conduct that would motivate a civilian to file. And officers, unlike civilians, face consequences for a false or fabricated complaint. These consequences can be informal but serious (getting known as that guy in the department) or formal and serious (criminal charges, and/or dismissal). No, to us the most interesting details were that:

  1. The amount of complaints stayed fairly steady over five years;
  2. Internal complaints came in at a rate of 1/4 to 1/3 of overall complaints — many more than we would expect;
  3. The percentage of complaints sustained had relatively small variability year-on-year (excluding incomplete 2014).

You could consider it just a part of the job, if you ran that department: “Every year, we’re going to get a couple hundred of complaints from civilians and 50-80 complaints in-house — a few of the civilian complaints will point to our problem children, but half or more of the in-house complaints will.”

Just because someone filed a complaint, of course, doesn’t mean anything actually happened. Some criminals routinely file police brutality complaints, and some ministers and community organizers dealing with criminal communities encourage this. Prisoners in jails and houses of corrections have time on their hands and frequently listen to cellblock lawyers and jailhouse rumors promoting legal urban legends, generating a steady stream of invalid and frivolous complaints. Yet all these have to be investigated… just because a guy is a liar and convict, doesn’t mean he has lost all his rights.

With Apologies to Edgar Allan Snow

The Snow

SEE the silent flakes of snow,
Pretty snow!
What a world of misery is here until they go!
How they fall, fall, fall,
From the cold, forbidding sky!
And they cast their chilling pall
On field and forest, lake, stone wall
Forming drifts that overlie;
Falling down, down, down,
On our hibernating town,
To accumulumulation that does miserably grow
   From the snow, snow, snow, snow,
       Snow, snow, snow —
From the frosting and the freezing of the snow.