Category Archives: Administrivia

Southland Sunday

Actually, we’re entirely in the wrong end of Florida for it to be the Southland any more. The most common accent you hear around here is New York, followed by Joisey and Bawston. In the Panhandle or around Lakeland, we sometimes need the bailiff to step out and fetch the New Hampshire Turkey Herder interpreter, because the noises the locals make are clearly an attempt at communication, but are unintelligible.

Conversely, in Palm Beach County, home of the hanging chad — fifteen years ago, now, the Sore Loserman election — you might as well be in Rego Park in 1965, because it’s all the same people. That’s OK by us. Like people everywhere, nine-tenths of them are OK and the other ten percent is gonna wind up on TV sooner or later.

Usually, doing the perp walk.

So what do we like about Florida?

Well, the weather, for one thing. When we think of New England weather at this time of year — even though we’ve been having an unusually mild autumn, more like an extended Indian summer — our overall impression is one of bleakness. In high school we were made to read a dreadful novel, “a classic of New England,” said the teacher, by somebody Forbes (Esther, maybe?). The book was called Ethan Frome and its climactic events took place during a wild, plunging sleigh ride. It radiated an overall sense of bleakness and depression, and we recall thinking, “If this is what every other poor bastard in high school is being made to read, the impression that New England is a horrible, austere, bleak place who deserve a violent sleigh crash at minimum will be universal in the nation.” New England winters are beastly, bleak, and about February, interminable — like Ethan Frome — and that must generally be endured to the end — again, like Ethan Frome. They are proof that mankind has extended his dominion far beyond the latitudes that humans thrive in.

Florida, conversely, is an environment that humans thrive in. Of course, there is nothing natural about it. Before vaccination, antibiotics, drainage, and mosquito control, it had a reputation for being “deadly for the White Man.” Which just goes to show how the ethnocentric chroniclers of old didn’t take the suffering of the Red Man seriously, because the Seminoles suffered under all those same problems, plus an invasion of illegal immigrants bent on replacing them. Maybe that’s why the Seminoles were our toughest Indian nut to crack; they went down, but they went down fighting, and they, and the bugs of Florida in millimeter, micro, and nano-scale, made the Seminole Wars America’s costliest Indian Wars.

So we also love the history of Florida, so different from that of our native New England, and so similar. The Floridian driving from condo to Wal-Mart to chain restaurant doesn’t know that he’s driving on ground fought over in the 19th Century, which is kind of funny, because back home hardly anyone knows that some of the prominent features in town were named for 17th Century Indian fights.

Nowadays, the Seminoles, in what has become Indian custom, have partnered with “gaming interests” (think, Don Vito) and run casinos, and are proud to have their tribal name associated with sports teams,especially when there’s a license payment involved. Twenty years ago, they had a chief who liked to fly and he got the tribe building airplanes. The venture failed but the airplanes they built were extremely good; their product was called the Micco SP26, and it’s just a fantastic airplane and the owners tend to hold tight to them. People out there keep track of which Micco owners are over eighty and have google alerts set in a ghoulish obituary watch. You think of American Indians, and you don’t immediately think, “building superior light aircraft,” but there you go.

The “Indians” in New England “resurfaced” from tribes wiped out in King Philip’s War, and end to have rather more Sicilian ancestry than Native American. So we like Florida for its Indians who are real by-god Indians, thank you very much. Stick to the coasts and you won’t meet that many, but they’re still here and they’re good people.

We love Florida also because it has sensible, which is to say few, gun laws. Our first ever visit to a well-stocked Class III dealer took place in St Augustine, and the guys there showed a couple of little kids (Your Humble Blogger may have been 13, and he’s the elder Rong Brother), outcrops of history and, to us, beauty: Maxims and BARs and OSS clandestine weapons and a Hi-Power with a shoulder stock. That was in the 1970s, when the hard part of buying some of these things was swinging the transfer tax ($200). The advent of NH->FL nonstops means that we don’t have to maintain two sets of carry guns.

But the primary reason we come to Florida is for family. In a perfect world, and if we were granted perfection, it would be the primary reason we did many things.

That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 46

That was the week that was TW3Busy week with a lot of stuff going on. Today — hopefully you didn’t notice it, thanks to scheduled posts — was a travel day, and in this coming week we may wind up cutting back on posting to one or two posts a day. We promise to give you decent quality even when the quality quantity must flag. (Note: quality reflagged. Sheesh. -Ed.)

Due to the pressures of the week, we stayed just barely on schedule with posts and many more detailed posts we were working slid. Fortunately some of them went up today. We also got up two back posts which you may not have noticed, last week’s Saturday Matinee and TW3 posts. Yes, late, but that beats never.

The Boring Statistics

This week was an average week. We posted 28, and a slightly retrograde total of about 19,000 words. If we passed any significant milestone this week, we didn’t note it. Our average post was 617 words long, but the median was only 385, suggesting an average skewed higher by the number of ong posts made this week (5 of 1000 words or more)

Comments This Week

We had several posts that drew a couple dozen comments or more, with the trophy going to Thank You for Serving Your Country… You Chump from Wednesday Morning. All in all, there were 253 comments this week.

The Week in Posts

Here’s the recap of our posts for this week:

Going Forward

As we noted, we expect this coming week to be a little thin on posts. Hope it isn’t, but only time will tell.

That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 45

That was the week that was TW3This is a retropost, as it’s nearly a week late (although it will plug into its old, normal slot). Any older and it would be a necropost. We try not to necropost around here, because the ugly fact of the web is that most people do not read anything that isn’t in the first page of scrolling.

Still, we’re OCD that way, and we want to have one of these for every recent week if we can’t have one for every week. Going forward, we also plan to necropost (the coinage is growing on us) some of the incomplete Saturday Matinees that are in the queue.

The Boring Statistics

Week 45 was a fairly average week. We posted 27 posts (which is average) comprising some with some 21,000 words (which feels about average). Mean 781, median 613, five posts with over 1,000 words (the Friday Tour d’Horizon had over 3000). We didn’t note any significant milestones.

Comments this Week

We totaled a healthy 348 comments at our (delayed) press time. The most commented post was Attack on Kunduz: the MSF View, an example of our ongoing commitment to share primary source documents, which received 32 of those comments. Five other posts had 20 or more comments, and 12 had between 10 and 19 comments. No post (except the two retroposts, this and the Matinee) received no comments.

The Week in Posts

Here’s the recap of our posts for this week:

Going Forward

Since we’re writing this the week after and backdating the post, we could just predict any old thing here and look like we’re absolutely Nostradamus. We’ll refrain.

Sickly Sunday

No, to steal a line from frequent commenter Aesop, we’re not dying any faster than anyone else, but we have a head and chest cold, maybe flu, and it’s had a weird effect (which is responsible for which most of our meatworld counterparties have noted as a weird affect this past week). One minute everything’s normal, and we’re getting on just fine and productively, so long as there’s a box of tissues/roll of paper towels/shop rag to snorkel into every couple minutes.

Ten minutes, a half hour, or in one glorious session yesterday, three hours later, we’re sapped of all energy, sitting amidst the in-process detritus of some unfinished task, staring stupidly at an uncaring glowing rectangle, or collapsed shivering in a chair, drawing warmth from a sympathetically vibrating Small Dog, both of us wrapped in a vintage woobie.

That’s the fate that befell two posts Friday, the next (long overdue) installment of San Marcos, and the Friday Tour d’Horizon. That we didn’t have energy to do the second post, the sort of post that writes itself, is telling. That is also why yesterday’s Saturday Matinee (The Riddle of the Sands) and TW3 are still backed up in the queue behind the previous week’s (whose matinee deserves the completion of the review, it is the German mountain/war film Standschütze Bruggler of 1936).

For whatever reason, not every post we write gets finished and posted. Sometimes — especially the topical or political stuff — we have second thoughts about it. Sometimes we have something that’s exactly not timely, but doesn’t fit a slot, and we squirrel it away for future use. Sometimes it winds up in the Too Hard For Now™ pile. (If you ever see a post whose link is thousands of digits below the links of other, current, posts, you’ve just seen a post we’ve rescued from Too Hard For Now™ limbo).

In any event, we woke up this morning at 0430 unable to breathe — so we horked up as much of the gunk in our airways as possible, allowed ourselves the luxury of a hot bath, and came downstairs to the office (Worlds Best Commute™) to queue this post up before going off to experiment at the intersection of lungs full of gunk and the Expresso bicycle and rowing machine.

If there’s a post Monday morning (or the missing Saturday posts fill in), then, we didn’t croak in the exercise room and we’re still not dying any faster than the rest of you.

Sunday Stupids

No, not us. Just the machinery around us.

The lawnmower went from zero turn to “zero run” late yesterday, just as we were due to depart for a must-be-on-time function. Well, rain wasn’t forecast so we decided to jump it on RTB, and then rescheduled for “in the morning.” It’s sitting in the middle of a puddle, doing what all machinery does, once you buy it: rusting.

We’d drive it out on the range and blow it to Kingdom Come, except for this: it doesn’t drive. Stupid.

Then, there’s the computer. There’s a new round of malicious adware that’s popping up, and it’s beyond stupid.

It is apparently promoting some fraudulent fixit malware like the long running MacKer scam.  You know a product (and a company) sucks if the only way they can promote it is to pop up unwanted screen-freezing, audio-playing ads. All the PJMedia sites (including Instapundit) seem to host this malware today and the only safe way to deal with it is to force quit your browser (the popup ignores popup blockers, ignores close-button clicks, and it wants you to click a box to “ignore,” which actually downloads malware).

Spammers in particular, and marketing and advertising types in general, all of whom would be spammers if they could get away with it, are the scum of the earth. Don Draper my eye, they all wanted to be pedophiles, but NAMBLA had standards. Stupid.

After the last round of yard work we infested the manor with ticks. That’s Lyme Disease levels of stupid.

We finally figured out why Small Dog soars into your lap to nap — if you sit in one particular chair. It’s his chair, he’s just willing to let you sleep under him. He’s a nice dog, but stupid.

Then, there’s the fact that we didn’t get the Matinee and TW3 for yesterday up yet.

There are many explanations, but right now, we like this one: we’re just stupid.

See you tomorrow, early and (we hope, for a change), bright.

OT: Happy Halloween from Hog Manor

Perhaps you want a Goblin Goblet? No, dummy. Take the candy. Leave the goblet. Thank you!


The Goblin Goblets started as a way to have a self-service, honor system Halloween decorated station. So that everyone else doesn’t have to be there when the kids dressed as frightening concepts like vampires, Sith lords, ghosts and President Trump show up.

1 Goblin Goblet = goodies for one kid, mostly chocolaty stuff, heavy on Hershey’s (disclaimer: we have a position in Hershey’s stock [NYSE: HSY], and we’ve taken a bath in it — the stock, not the chocolate). Kid dumps Goblet in goody bag, replaces Goblet on table, inverted. (We start with one inverted Goblet, and they automagically get the idea. We got it from the Doolittle Raiders, who did that with their own cups in a suitably Halloween-y bout of ghoulishness).

Goblin Goblets have turned out to be a fine holiday tradition, so long as one of the staff remembers to police up the upturned Goblets and reload them as necessary. We can interact with the little dears or not, as it amuses us to do so. The doorbell never rings (although Small Dog does usually detonate as the kids step onto the lawn). The kids, of course, love it, especially when we sic Small Dog on ’em.

We have lived in neighborhoods where we could not do this — especially not with silver goblets. (We think they’re just silver plate, actually. But the statement still applies).


A paranormal researcher has pointed out to us that a ghostly apparition can be seen in the lower left of the picture, and that Hog Manor is haunted. Small Dog says it’s only him, but what does he know? He’s a dog.


Sunday Shellshock

What’s that road that’s paved with good intentions again?

Seriously, we had all kinds of plans for Friday and Saturday but they went pear-shaped in a hurry, for scheduled and unscheduled reasons.


The visit of an ADHD or something similar 10-year-old and his grandfather to the Rong Brothers Aeroplane Manufactory. We knew Grampy from the EAA chapter, so we knew the kid was energetic, bright, full of interest in planes. It was like turning loose one of the more agile and active denizens of Planet of the Apes in the workshop, and it took four of us (the other three being Kid, Blogbrother and Grampy) to keep up with his rapid-fire questions. He also figured out in about two tenths of a second (did we mention, “bright”?) that the benches behind the plane were gunsmithing benches, and he turned out to have a crypto-interest in guns even stronger than his plane enthusiasm.

Ribs, ribs, ribs. There's some exciting work on this, and there's some routine work that must be 100% right. The cabinet in back is full of backed-up gun build parts, as the Agile Ape discovered. Later, in the Brownell's catalog, he was delighted to find: "I know this part!"

Ribs, ribs, ribs. There’s some exciting work on this, and there’s some routine work that must be 100% right. The cabinet in back is full of backed-up gun build parts, as the Agile Apechild discovered. Later, in the Brownell’s catalog, he was delighted to find: “I know this part!”

“Crypto”? Yeah, because, while Grampy is cool with guns and even has (but does not use) his MA license, apparently his mom is one of those not initiated into the tribe, and she has forbidden our Agile Apechild to be interested in firearms (lots of luck with that). We tried to strike a balance between sating his curiosity and honoring his mom’s wishes. So, we hope she does not throw a wobbler when she learns he saw and even touched firearms (to our surprise, he knew the Rules academically and could recite them. He hadn’t quite reduced them to practice yet, having never seen a real firearm before, but he’ll get it).

Thus are converts to our avocation made, even behind the lines in the People’s Republic.

We had thought they were coming by for about an hour. They (especially the kid) thought they were spending the whole day. (And we might have been cool with that, if not for the unscheduled, q.v. below). So we compromised on what the Blogbrother thought we were doing (he had done all the setup), by showing off some airplane parts, showing him some tools, and letting him help us cleco on a piece of skin. And then we went to lunch, and then went about our business.

Normally, visitors treat their opportunity to set a cleco or rivet as a sort of ceremonial Golden Spike or First Shovel of Earth Turned. Having emplaced and/or withdrawn one cleco (a temporary metal fastener, used in place of a rivet during assembly), they are sated. (Everyone who helps — even with one little ceremonial fastener — is noted in our build log and will be recognized somehow in the finished plane). Not our Agile Apechild. As we emplaced five or six clecos, he put in ten — quite a trick as the springs are quite stiff for ten-year-old hands, and the part was on the top of the fuselage tailcone, which itself was on sawhorses. He never lost his enthusiasm and chattered happily the whole time.

The Agile Apechild helped us temorarily install the piece of skin that's still missing in this photo. (We subsequently took it off to adjust its fit). He was great fun to have in the shop!

The Agile Apechild helped us temorarily install the piece of skin that’s still missing in this photo. (We subsequently took it off to adjust its fit). He was great fun to have in the shop! (BTW, the gun benches — actually, beautiful retired hotel desks with leather tops and integrated power — are behind us in these photos). 

Meanwhile, his Grampy, a retired engineer, asked a lot of really good and insightful questions, too. It was a thrill and a privilege to have them visit the shop; we were at a bit of a lull as Your Humble Blogger had damaged the skins by manhandling a rivet instead of drilling it out, and even the Blogbrother, who has an innately cheery nature foreign to the rest of the family, was weary of the endless prep of fifty-something wing ribs each with sixty-something holes to be finish drilled and deburred.

I was a surprise to us but every single hole in the aircraft parts, except for those in powder-coated steel weldments for some reason, has been slightly undersize. Perhaps that was in the fine print and we missed it, but the holes are 1/8″ for 1/8″ rivets, which you can see provides a clearance of 0.000″. And that’s before you consider the manufacturing variation in rivets; even aviation-quality certified rivets will show a variance of several thousandths over a box of the beastly things. (Don’t believe us? We have a caliper, and plenty boxes of rivets, and you’re welcome to stop by and replicate our science on this). So the rivet holes must be drilled #30. (You may remember our fiasco with the undersize #30 drill, one of a half dozen undersize ones in a set of number and letter drills — yes, after drilling a few hundred holes that fell somewhere between 1/8″ and #30, we went back and calipered the living daylights out of that set, and we measure every drill now before trusting it to be what the sometimes lying mark on the shank says).

Still, a plane-builder of the 60s through the early 90s must be marveling: “You guys had holes?” Those old school guys sometimes started with parts cut to size but with 100% of the holes having to be located as well as drilled. Sometimes, those guys started with scaled-down plans and had to measure and lay out their skins on sheets of rolled .020″ aluminum alloy. Those guys  did the hard course. They also didn’t have many of the awesome tools we have, like lithium-ion battery powered hand drills, inexpensive but accurate-enough-for-this drill presses and bench grinders, and little hand-held vacuum cleaners. (Got a few chips from drilling or deburring? Vacuum ’em out, easy-peasy. Lets us keep a tidy shop, too, that we don’t mind inviting folks to).

The part were wrapping up is basically everything beyond the bulkhead behind the cabin. And we're on to the wings. Image: Van's Aircraft.

The part were wrapping up is basically everything beyond the bulkhead behind the cabin. And we’re on to the wings. Image: Van’s Aircraft.


For lunch, we went to the Café at the Hampton, NH, Airfield. It’s known mostly only to pilots and locals. There wasn’t much flying activity today due to a middling overcast, but we saw Cubs including the field’s 1943 L-4, a Champ, a Cherokee, and a couple of Sonexes (an easy-to-build and inexpensive kit plane), and a Robinson R44 helicopter. After lunch, we drove along the open shelters and discussed the various planes there, and that let us see a factory RV-12 Special Light Sport Aircraft that is, we think, new on the field. It was a perfect cap to the visit.

During the drive to the airfield and even while waiting for lunch, the Agile Apechild clung to, and studied, one of our Brownell’s catalogs. We’d have sent it home with him, except, again, we don’t want to disturb his mother. His visit was exhausting (“She’ll let me take him any time I can,” Grampy told us, and we believed him) but delightful.

A couple days ago we had a happier scheduled event, a dinner out for Kid in celebration of his XVIth birthday. (Everything seems more portentous in Roman Numerals, the cod Latin of mathematics). We did the Japanese teppanyaki place that we’ve wondered about for a decade or more, and it was pretty good.

Hognose indulged in a rare-these-days beer (an excellent Sapporo). Kid is 16. He can be the designated driver.


A long dormant contracting project lurched back into life this week, and the sales guy is actually in the client’s capital signing the contracts this coming week. So things are about to get busy and involve some travel. Right now they just involve working up budget projections and dummying up financials, but soon they’ll be quite involved.

Naturally, this was time for the first lost-file crash we have experienced in Excel in probably ten years. We’re back to a 1980s-era computer user’s tic of reflexively hitting Command-S every couple of seconds.

Meanwhile, our equally dormant main contracting partner was yawning and stretching after some two years of slumber.

While on the home front, the grounds are badly neglected, and the Revenooers, NH version, have issued a demand for us to prove we paid our 2011 taxes (not sure without reading all the paperwork whether they think they’re missing “Business Tax” or “Interest and Dividends Tax,” both punitive taxes targeted on the self-employed, that are the legacy of the state (and the MA-based college students who are bused in to vote here) briefly losing its mind and giving a pro-tax and anti-business governor a tax-happy Legislature for one session back in the last decade.

Meanwhile Plaintiff has come down ill and Kid is nursing her back to health.

Small Dog seems to know when one is overly frustrated with Excel and demands a walk at just the right (or, under deadline, the wrong) time.

Summing Up

All this is a rather long and roundabout way of apologizing to you for no new content posted Saturday. We’ll try to backfill a thing or two today, but we’re going to be looking ahead to this new week — and we’ve had something unscheduled come up again!

Sunday Sibilance

The single slithery snake slid silently south. Slowly sidewinding, softly sighing, sadly seeking succor.

Several soreheads sought to sink the snake. Snakes are smooth, slow, silent — stealthy. Sheer surprise not speed of strike sees snakes’ success.

Some Sundays, snakes succeed.

That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 42

That was the week that was TW3As the Beatles didn’t sing, it’s been a hard day’s week. But despite all the meatworld goings on going on, we’ve been able to get you your desired content, mostly on time until Saturday (we had to slip both the Matinee and this TW3s to Sunday, although we’ll backdate them as usual).

That raises a question none of you may have — but we will answer anyway. Why do we do backdate things, and post everything on an even hour, even if it’s scheduled in advance of launched a little bit late? Probably a hangover from SF communications transmission security practices, in which communications were scheduled and executed on schedule with or without content to defeat traffic analysis. We’re not so paranoid as to think that anybody’s going to TA, so maybe it’s just an affectation. We actually expected someone would notice it and comment, but nobody ever did.

Well, maybe the traffic analysts in Area 51.

The Boring Statistics

This week was a heavy posting  week. We posted 30 posts in all by press time for this post, and a total of over 29,000 words. The post mean and median length were 971 and 761. The mean was driven up, as usual, by some long posts: one of over 3,000 words, two more of over 2,000, and nine more of 1,000 words or more.

No milestones this week..

Our Comment about Comments

We had fewer comments than usual, with 274. (previous two weeks look like 352 and 281 as of now).

The Week in Posts

Here’s the recap of our posts for this week:

Going Forward

We’re not really sure what we’re going to publish this week. So you’re not the only one for whom it will be a surprise!

Did Our Mother Have Any Children that Lived?

Reasonable question, after this morning’s cock-up. The Walther post was supposed to go live this AM and by midnight it just wasn’t ready, so we punted to this morning, finished it… and put it up as of 0600.

About 1100 we noticed it wasn’t there. When we went to launch the 1100 post. We put it up as of 0600 all right but not 0600 today… so we went back and exhumed it, and reinterred it in the appropriate grave site.

So today’s posts will be slightly delayed (by about one slot) and the Friday Tour d’Horizon may be canc’d.

We also took the time to dig through the spam queue and liberated three or four real comments from among several hundred spams. (We receive 4 point something spams for every real human comment, and our automated tools catch almost all the former and very few, thank Heaven, of the latter. And we’ve received over 25k real comments since starting the blog, so you do the math!) If you are Y., or Desertrat, or a couple of other regulars and wonder what happened to some comment(s) or other of yours, it has been sprung from comment purgatory and now basks in Elysium. Well, it’s in the post to which you posted it, finally.