Category Archives: Administrivia

Sunday Stretch

Have you ever seen an animal stretch? Of course you have. Dogs do it all the time; some of them do it every time they get up. Cats are even more athletic stretchers, which probably goes a long way to explain their prodigious jumping ability. (Our late cat, Khalid bin Mahfouz — named after a terror financier who escaped justice by expiring of natural causes — would periodically turn up on the kitchen rafters, some nine feet above the floor. Sure, he was jumping from the counter to the cabinets, but these were still amazing leaps).

Stretching is good for the human organism, too. Not just physically; physical stretches seem to clear the mind as well.

And figurative stretches are important, too. Recently Your Humble Blogger and the Blogbrother completed the rearmost tailcone bulkhead of the RV-12. It was intimidating to us, as it had a number of rivets that had very long protruding shanks (AN 470 AD4-6s, if you’re a rivet geek, through only about .080″ or so of sheet). It is depressingly easy to turn a long shank, and some of the parts of this bulkhead assembly had required some machining that we wouldn’t care to do over if we wound up having to drill out rivets and produced oversized holes. The tail skid bracket needed to be cut off just so, and from another direction it needed a hole drilled and tapped. Nothing hard, just time-consuming in the setup to do it on a drill press. (A tap is done manually, turning the chuck by hand, with the press just serving to locate the tap and keep it straight). It had been a long time since we’d tapped a hole and we had that virgin delight of test-threading the bolt and having it fit perfectly, a delight that wanes when you do a lot of these, but that comes back in full cry when it’s your first in years.

The hardest stretch is finding the time for everything, and the only thing that works for us is maintaining a list and ruthless prioritization. As a result, there are always things on the list that don’t get done on time or don’t get done at all.

Some of the delayed items include this blog post, which is four hours plus late (albeit backdated); yesterday’s Saturday Matinee, which was posted this morning, about 13 hours late; and yesterdays TW3, which has not been posted at all, yet. (And might not be, as we’re already looking forward to this week).

A variety of mundane delights call us today — the lawnmower, the hedge-trimmers, the wash-and-prime cycle for the next batch of airplane parts, a dunk in the Blogbrother’s pool. A bike ride. PT has suffered a lot, and we can’t have that; we happen to be among the people who will croak if they don’t exercise, so we should be a bit inflexible about it, and this summer, haven’t been.

But can we do all those things?

Maybe. If we stretch.

That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 35

That was the week that was TW3This week was a busy one, with two of our Saturday posts (Matinee and this TW3) being posted late, and last week’s overdue Saturday posts never getting done at all.

Sigh. Sometimes you have weeks like that.

But we also published some good stuff, and we worked on some good stuff which isn’t published yet, it part because it was more work than we expected. (Funny how that happens).

what we’re thinking around here.

The Boring Statistics

This week was a slightly above average week. We posted 28 posts with a disappointing 269 comments by press time for this post, and a total of over 22,000 words. If we hit any statistical milestones, we didn’t notice them. .

Comments This Week

As mentioned, our comment count was down (many recent weeks have broken 300, and some even 400 comments. Not last week or this one). But we did get some comments of notable quality, and to our delight, the most commented thread was a technical thread on the 1968 vintage Quiet Special Purpose Revolver.

The Week in Posts

Here’s the recap of our posts for this week (note: we’ll come through and blurb and link each of these sometime Sunday night or Monday morning (stricken as done)– apologies for the delay, but analog life takes precedence right now):

Going Forward

We have another incident of a questionable police shooting — but is this one really questionable? The cop lightly wounded the suspect, enablling his apprehension, but killed a citizen in the background as he sprayed out-of-control rounds in random directions.

And we should be able to finish our piece on the so-called “Spetsnaz” ballistic knife, whose origins are lost in the shadows of urban (or prison) legend, but which actually came to be made — and banned — as the legend spread in 1983-84.

We have two guest reports on historic sites in St Augustine, FL, from Our Traveling Reporter who is traveling (what else?) in that region of the country, and they’re stuck in the queue for editing.

Sunday Sticker Shock

Rainsplash Drop from Vanderbilt.edu.

We’re finally getting some rain around here after a dry summer. We blame Global Warming. For both the rain and the dry, naturally, because Global Warming is behind everything, especially politicians who become billionaires selling indulgences carbon credits (sorry, got our religions crossed there for a minute).

In any event, this Sunday finds us nursing some sticker shock, or just general number shock. Like anyone who’s in the stock market, we got shelled rather badly at the end of last week (although we were just talking to a fellow who lost three-quarters of a million Friday, so we’re not as bad off as all that. Nothing like another man’s anguish to give one perspective). Most of what we “lost,” of course, was unrealized gains, so it is a paper loss against a paper gain — we’re still better off than we were before. So far.

There are many approaches to investing. We invest for long term growth and income; we don’t try to time the market. That way lies the abyss. We’d rather leave money on the table than see the table yanked out from under our elbows because we got greedy. For excitement, we make small investments in start-ups and give them advice, if they’ll take it. These investments usually go poof, as most start-ups do, and yet they were all good ideas with able people behind them. We suppose you could call it an entertainment expense, although in the poof moment it is not entertaining to contemplate what the meaning of the poof is in dollars. (We nearly wrote “dollars and cents,” but does anyone figure cents any more?). It’s nice when a start-up takes off and you get a wild multiplier for your early money. But for real money, we try to pick something that is going up, and/or something that pays a nice dividend.

The other aspect of sticker shock came when we needed to replace some windows in the Manor. Turns out the maker of the current (installed 1992) windows, Rivco, has gone to that great warehouse in the sky, and while the windows still are all in good condition — something the window guys all say is uncanny with this brand — we have a lot of shade and what tends to be a wet location, and many of the sills are undergoing wood rot. We already dealt with this on the trim (by writing a large check for a contractor to rip off the old stuff and install ha-rot-this-mother-nature Azek), and thought we could just replace the sills, but the contractors said no, gotta do the windows.

So we did the get-quotes thing and got several bids: the $399 any-window guys who are on the radio nonstop, a local installer of Marvin windows, and Renewal by Anderson. The $399 guy was more like a $1499 each window “deal,” when all the extras were toted up, the Marvin guy ran away screaming after one look at Hog Manor (well, maybe not screaming, but our interview was short indeed), and the Anderson guy was half-again the staggering cost of the cheap windows. All of them had some technical limit to what they could do with the windows, too. We loved the Anderson windows — they were definitely better. We collapsed into a catatonic state, at least with respect to windows. Then last week the Blogfather called, and a guy at his golf club had some windows done and was pleased with the entire project. After listening to Dave rave, we called these guys and their quote came in at less than half of the $399 guys and therefore, well under a third of what the Anderson windows would be.  The window? It’s not exactly the same as the $399 guy’s vinyl window, but it’s pretty close; maybe better. As near as we can tell, the price difference is all those jeezly radio ads.

The other shocking thing is just how many windows we had, and that no two vendors counted them the same way. From 30 to 40 windows!

We use a ton of oil here in the winter, and the new windows will help ease the sticker shock with that, but they certainly won’t pay for themselves. So we sign with the guy Dave and the Blogfather found at 0930 Monday. And well, we justify the cost of the windows because, all in, it’s less than the bath that we took Friday.

Apologies for no Matinee or TW3 yesterday. Family weekend; we may catch up or we may not.

We’s just been sitting here for a bit, queueing up some good blog posts for this week, listening to music that charted in 1964 for a project we’re working on in fits and starts. Yeah, we’re going to listen to all 714 songs that made the Billboard pop charts that year (not counting Christmas songs, and yeah, it’s going to take about a week).  A brilliant fellow named Joel Whitburn has compiled all these charts and they’re a great boon to students of any era’s music — and doesn’t the music shape the era?

At the bottom end of the chart it seems to include dreadful stuff the Mob paid (or threatened) somebody to put on the charts, at the top end it’s all early Beatles, and in between it’s a mulligatawny of British Invasion, old-time crooners, crossovers from the R&B and country charts, and novelty songs. Musically speaking, the year was an inflection point.

Sunday Spray-Date

We’ve got a spray date with what looks like an acre of sheet metal this afternoon. It’s really just the parts for the fuselage tail cone of the RV-12 (this is the part from behind where the crew sits to the tail stinger of the airplane. We’ve already completed most of the fins that attach to this, except the rudder, which has driven us nuts with bent rivets. We’re starting to suspect the rivets should be -3.5 or -4, not -5 parts, and the excess length is why our rivets are bending. As recounted before, we’re priming all the internals in the interests of corrosion resistance. Here at stately Hog Manor, you can smell the sea when there’s an onshore breeze, and our planned test and basing airports are just as close to the Atlantic.

We’ve also got to finish machining a tailskid bracket first. It was primed before machining so now it has a lot of exposed alloy. It’s an unusual part for an aircraft because it’s originally an extrusion; it’s the only one we’ve run into on this project so far. Most aluminum extrusions are made of low-strength alloy and are used in low-strength applications, like window screens or beach chairs. But there’s no reason you can’t use extrusions for higher-strength parts with a careful alloy selection. A lot of picatinny rails and rail forearms for various firearms begin life as raw extrusions. (In the case of the picatinny rail, the slots are then machined and the slot indicators may be machined, etched or lasered on).

It seems likely that extrusions could be used for more firearms parts, with a little creativity on the part of engineers. The big advantage of an extrusion is that the dies are dirt cheap, compared to typical tooling costs. It’s not unusual for an extrusion die to come in at only a few hundred dollars, even if you have to send the entire job out.

Come to think of it, we have a slightly botched attempt at Rudder Spar #3 (there’s only one rudder spar; this is our third shot at it) to correct, and we’ll throw that into the spray queue, too.

It’s been our bad luck that storms this week nuked the small canopy we’ve been using as an outdoor spray booth. So we’ll have some kind of partial framework to suspend the parts from.

Look for some good content this week, including a couple posts on 3D printing gun parts and an update on the Afghan Combat Carbine Clone we’ve worked on in the past.

That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 33

That was the week that was TW3It’s been another busy week and for the first time in a long time, we were actually a couple days ahead for most of the week. We still managed to get the usual posting done, but after a road trip Wednesday, our lead began dwindling until Saturday we actually came up a post short — this one, which is being backdated into place.

Hey, the digital domain is cool and all, but real work gets done in the analog.

The Boring Statistics

This week was an above-average week in production terms. We posted 28 posts instead of the standard 27, with post sizes all over the place, from under 200 to over 2,000 words. We received some 284 comments by press time for this post, which is less than usual these days, and a total of about 20,000 words, which is more than usual. We did pass two significant milestones this week: our last post on 10 August 2015 was our 800th post this year; the next day, our second post of the day was our 4,000th since launching this blog. We do it because it’s gratifying to do, partly for its own sake and partly because you guys make it worthwhile. Have a drink on us and we’ll owe you, for now.

The Week in Posts

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

Going Forward

We’re going to try to load up some posts tonight so that we have some time for real work during the work week for a change, again, this week. We’ve got some good content including the next round of SOPMOD I clone work on our Afghan War recreation, and we have at least three posts related to 3D printing — one, miserably, legal, and two (that are likely to please you more) technical, including a new technique for going from 3D Printed sample to short-run series production, with better-than-printed quality.

Subday Submergence

Lately we’ve been taking a deep dive into submarine warfare, both historic and more recent. As ever in war, there are fascinating stories of weapons and of men, some of which have seen print (well, seen pixel) this week and some which are yet to come.

We come by the interest for multiple reasons. In the first place, there is a former submarine manufacturing shipyard that still maintains and (mostly) defuels and demilitarizes our current boats not very far away. It has a small museum on base which never seems to be open, and there is a larger museum off base, right near downtown in the The Big City (Portsmouth NH, population 28k) that has something you don’t see every day — a submarine on dry land, the former unarmed research vessel USS Albacore AGSS-569. The sub is a museum that lets people have considerable more hands-on access than they usually would; things that might hurt you, like watertight doors, are secured in place, and things  that you might harm are protected behind Plexiglas shields. Other than that, the boat is yours, and strategically placed speakers tell you what you’re looking at, if you push a red button and summon up the voice of a former crew member.

The vessel tried out numerous technological brainstorms, some of which are standard on subs today, and others of which were dead ends.

Along with the sub museum, there’s a museum building and it has a gift and bookstore (of course), and in books bought there we’ve learned a lot we didn’t know about sub-launched special operations. Some of that, we’ll be sharing, going forward.

As always, we’ll see you all tomorrow with a gun-related post at 0600 Eastern Daylight Savings Time!

That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 32

That was the week that was TW3As another week draws to a close, the sun sets in the West —

– Wait a minute. where the hell else would it set?

Look, let’s leave orbital mechanics out of it, shall we? I’m trying to tell a story here.

The sun sets in the West, and sportsmen gather to relive the day’s events over a cold beverage, and fresh-grilled meat.

– There you go again. Nobody eats, “meat.” Fresh-grilled what? It’s gotta be something, something specific. 

Maybe it’s mystery meat, like school lunch? Maybe — wait, dammit. We’re not going to have an argument with voices in our head — it’s unseemly. Instead, let’s move right along.

The Boring Statistics

This week was a pretty standard week. We posted the more-or-less standard 27 posts, and a total of about 17,000 words. We did pass one significant milestone this week: on the 18th, our 1,000th post went live. We expect to pass 2,000 before year’s end.

We have received 251 comments at press time, substantially less than last week’s 2015 record of 469.

An Accomplishment

It took us until Saturday this week, but we did get two overdue posts from last week posted, so you get two movie reviews instead of one this week, the regular one that posted a few hours ago, and a review of I Was a Communist for the FBI, from 1951, which was quietly posted noonish but backdated.

The other post is the TW3 for last week.

Comment of the Week

We’re grateful this week for two corrections from the very subjects of the posts, this one by Jim Schatz (what we took as a substantive error in his NDIA slides was a simple typo) and a more serious one on who has the burden of production and the burden of proof in a self-defense defense against criminal charges, from Andrew Branca.

We are grateful, of course, for all our readers and commenters, who add a great deal of substance to the site.

The Week in Posts

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

Going Forward

We actually don’t have a single post written (well, not completely) for this coming week, so it’s as much a mystery to us as it is to you. See you there!

Sundaycompression

People's Republic of MassachusettsJust decompressin’, or daycompressin’, here, recovering from a deep dive into the People’s Republic of Massachusetts yesterday. Two of them, actually; we slipped through the border on I-95 twice. We noted that they have long since taken down the Dukakis-era signs noting that possession of a firearm is treated more seriously than murder in MA courts, but they haven’t changed the legal environment.

That was one of the sub-texts of the first reason for risking our necks and liberty in a state that seems to break down into even thirds of trustafarian campus Marxists, government patronage hires, and heavy-browed oathbreaker cops. We attended a Law Of Self Defense Seminar put on by Andrew Branca. All we are going to say of this is: when Andrew or one of Andrew’s trained instructors (coming soon!) comes to your state or a nearby one, attend this. It’s an essential part of self-defense: knowing how to make sure you color within the lines of self-defense law in general and the law of your own and neighboring states in particular. Expect a full review of this seminar (with links to the schedule and sign-up pages) this week.

After that it was back home to an empty house — even Small Dog had joined the exodus, so after bumming around a bit and having dinner, it was back across the Patchouli Curtain again for the 22nd annual reunion of one of my old teams (ODA-1, A-111, A-1111, A-2034, and a few other numbers over the years, but with a lot of guys who served through every period of the team’s existence until very recently. We’ll have a write up on that and what it means sometime this week, too.

It may be the last reunion. We are, apparently, being evicted; as the local Friends Of explains, we’ve done such a nice job improving the abandoned, run-down, and mostly collapsed Revolutionary War fort where we meet that they’ve got a grant to have Credentialed Professionals finish it up and Disneyify it — which requires us to no longer come. And incidentally, our flagpole and bronze plaques memorializing our dead have to go, because they offend the moonbats on the commission.

We’d already had to put game cameras on the plaques, because the vibrant local diversity was stealing them and taking them to unscrupulous scrap dealers (are there any other kind?), in order to get drug money. Vibrant! Takes a lot of chemicals in the bloodstream to keep one’s vibrancy up, apparently. But the Friends Of want the trees that we hid the cameras in to come down, because there were no trees during the Revolution or something.

Any random one of us knows more of the history of this fortified point of land than all the professors in the History Department at the local State University. But we, alas, cannot make a gendered (whatever that means) and sexualized contextualized statement about it, and what it means for oppressed minorities everywhere.

They’re right; we can’t. We can just tell you what this place meant in the Revolution, the War of 1812, the World Wars and interwar period, and the Cold War, and we can even tell you the fate that befell it after its Johnson-era abandonment. What’s the historical use of that? Somewhere, someone is uncomfortable with its genitalia, and feeling oppressed.

That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 31

That was the week that was TW3Sad to say, but this TW3 is being backdated and dropped in nearly a week later. That may explain, if not excuse, its somewhat telegraphic nature compared to the usual.

But hey, they say brevity is the soul of wit. So here we’ll give you twice as much brevity, and shouldn’t that add up to about half wit?

Thanks for reading, commenting, and keeping us at the coal face mining what we hope is interesting and worthwhile content for you.

The Boring Statistics

This week was an average week in some ways. We posted what has become our standard, 27 posts, and a higher than usual total of about 20,000 words. Of the two averages we still track, mean was 733 and median 657, and few of the posts were real outliers.

We did have a real explosion in comments this week: thanks, perhaps, to some accessible and discussion-prone topics, we had 469 comments at press time, a record for the year. The comments frequently extend and expand upon the blog posts a good bit; make the time to read some of them some time.

The month of July ended this week with approximately  1.2 million unique visitors YTD and about 6.7 million visits.

Comment of the Week

Because we’re doing this post retroactively, nothing’s fresh in mind, so we’re not going to have one this week… sorry ’bout that.

The Week in Posts

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

Going Forward

Since we’re posting this a week late, we’ll draw the line at making predictions for a future that is already long past.

Sunday Showers

As July — our favorite month, as the too-short summer at 43º North Latitude is our favorite season — winds to a close, we have enjoyed a morning of showers that are expected to yield to a partly sunny day.

A lot of family this weekend, which is A Good Thing. The crowd (minus) for dinner last night, and the dinner seemed to be a success, judging from the extra helpings the kids pursued. (Don’t listen to what kids say; their critique of your chef skills resides in what they do). And off to the Blogfather’s hotel for dinner tonight — as the hotel hasn’t a proper restaurant, but he has a kitchen, we will actually nuke prepared food and sit and talk. Hey, it’s a social event, right?

Some more thought about elderly parents and we’d not have bought Hog Manor. A traditional New England Colonial, with some of the architectural excesses that let an expert date it to the late 1980s-early 90s at a single glance, it had the bedrooms traditionally upstairs, and if you want your parents to stay with you as they move into their 80s and 90s, that’s a non-starter.

Still, the Blogfather did the math, and it actually costs him less to come up for the summer and stay in a hotel, than it did not maintain a home, or even to rent one, year round. In the hotel he gets waited on, doted on, even; and he never has the feeling of being underfoot. And his temptation to issue constant on-the-spot corrections to all family members is diminished accordingly.

He just left, having come to retrieve a vest he left last night, draped over a chair back, lending a note of elegance to the place. And we’ll see him in his hotel tonight.

Friends, enjoy your family members; cherish them, even their idiosyncrasies. It costs you so little, and some day they will be gone  — or you will be, and any small degree to which you’ve put yourself out will not have mattered. The Japanese are on to something with all their comparisons of human life to cherry blossoms, you know? Very wise bunch, those Japanese.

Outside the WeaponsMan.com office window, the sun is striving to break through the overcast. See you tomorrow at 0600 with a technical post.