Category Archives: Administrivia

Sunday Slump

Hey, we hope the slump is ending and this week will be good for all!

If you see a lot of video posts with short notes, we’re still slumping (grin). We’re on the tail end of a head cold.

Note that a preliminary Saturday Matinee is up backdated to yesterday, Taking Fire (TV, 2016), and hardly anyone has looked at the one posted (if belatedly) last week, Sully (2016)Sully is not the least bit military, but it’s good, and Taking Fire is a pretty raw documentary, but it’s all military.

Any Weapons Website of the Week Ideas?

Because, even though we delayed this post for over 12 hours, we’re still drawing a blank. so we’re throwing it open for suggestions. Because we know there’s lots of ’em we haven’t covered yet but they’re not in the forebrain at present. For the Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week, it’s Thursday noon, and we still got nothin’. So… help!

One hopes the feature will return next week, eh?

Sunday Showtime!

Today, the family bombshells in various directions, seeking something to entertain us. The Blogfather and Blogbrother will make the long haul down the moral equivalent of the Autobahn Helmstedt-Berlin to observe that great Socialist enterprise, the National Football Leage, in all its taxpayer-subsidized glory, as the Boston Patriots featuring backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo face the Miami Dolphins where experienced QB Ryan Tannehill is running a new offensive system devised by new head coach Adam Gase.

Meanwhile, Your Humble Blogger and the Blognephew are bound to a local car show. Small Dog Mk II will probably join us, so the next blog post may be about surviving a beating after he pees on a Bugatti’s freshly-armor-all’d tires. (It;s that kind of local show; here’s a guy’s photo album from the 2012 iteration. We have met the owner / restorer of the Rolls and Bugatti and toured his shop). Blogneff is just at the age where he’s starting to sperg about cars, so we might as well give him car sensory overload. Afterwards, it’s to lunch, someplace where we can eat outside (and thus keep SDMkII with us).

The show is a bit threatened by thundershowers. The kind of guy who spent six figures on a restoration (as often as not, on a car worth five figures once restored) tends to be a bit diffident about displaying it in a downpour which may limit attendance or force a rain date.

And, at some point, the benches downstairs call… and we owe our FFL some information on what’s incoming. Should be a fun day! Hope yours is, also.


Huh. We never hit “publish” before going out. Well, we’re back now. Blogneff, SDMkII, and Your Humble Blogger had a great day, and saw everything from a late model Ferrari with a custom color (a $30k option if the buyer doesn’t want red, black, yellow, silver or white) and a five-year waiting list, through lots of classic ’50s, ’60s and 70s iron, to some creative rat rods, like a kitbashed thing that was part Crosley and part Jeep. There were three 1920’s Bugattis including an authentic Grand Prix car, and many true classics including a gorgeous 1941 or 42 Buick. Neff, who’s quite pudgy, got to sit in a ’57 T-Bird, into which he didn’t exactly fit.

“The steering wheel’s too big!” No, kid, sorry, but you are. We didn’t help matters when we went to lunch and bought him what he wanted, including a huge ice cream, but hey, uncle’s privilege. And we did walk him up and down the line of cars for nearly three hours, so there is that.

Meanwhile, Blogfather and Blogbrother apparently had separate seats at the Patriots-v-Dolphins, but enjoyed the game, in which the backup QB for Naughty Tom Brady got injured and the third string quarterback (for our foreign readers, who are blissfully ignorant of American football, this position is the key leader of the team) held the team together for a win. Dunno if there was the anti-American protest that’s been spreading among the spoiled brats of the league.

Preview of Coming Attractions

OK, so we’re still slipping, schedule-wise, but here’s what’s we hope to make appear in this space in the coming week.

  1. A short article on the FN49, including the on-again-off-again development history (and the benefit a long development history has), the reasons for its short production life, and photos. This is definite for Monday.
  2. Some Czechoslovak pistols mentioned only in a single source, as far as we know.
  3. Does the Mac beta of Defense Distributed’s Ghost Gunner software work? (We don’t know the answer to this question, actually. If you hear the sound of a head crash, the answer is “no.”)
  4. Before the Albacore, there was a research submarine so advanced that concepts from it are still being developed.
  5. What’s the oldest piece of equipment still used by the US Army or Marines?
  6. How to Walk in the Woods.
  7. Maybe an airplane update. We just did something pretty scary — cut a hole in the leading edge of the wing for landing light installation. So far, so good.

And… we’re going to throw it open to your ideas.

Man Proposes, God Disposes

rainsplash_dropOur epigrammatic title today tends to be true in small things as well as large, and fortunately, we are addressing small things today.

Specifically: where is this morning’s blog post?

We have gotten behind enough that we’ve become habituated to doing our morning (0600) post  in the morning as a bit of a catch-up. And we had two decent posts just-about-drafted — one a brief history of Czechoslovak small DA auto pistols, and the other, an appreciation of a little-known but very historically significant rifle, the SAFN-49 aka FN Model 49.

They just needed photography, and we’ve had good luck in the early morning light in the recent dry spell. We had a bagful of rare and historic CZs and their cousins, and examples of the the Egyptian 7.92 mm and Venezuelan 7 mm SAFN variants to snap.

Last night about eleven PM, the drizzle started. Twelve hours later, the drizzle has not let up, except to go to mist for an hour or so and then return to drizzle now and again. For the parched grounds here at Hog Manor, good news.

For firearms photography, not so much.

(Note to self, search Amazon for photo light booth or whatever it’s called).

So this post is by way of apology for the delayed posts.

Senescent Sunday

Well, that’s how a couple of older men feel around a couple of really bright kids. Our friend’s 9 and 12 year old offspring have some of the affect of intelligent young men, and their senses of humor and general knowledge are well-developed. And yet their sense of play and wonder at new things are those of children.

Big hits: the music room (a drum kit is profound for a kid), the dog (they have no pet in their magazine-clean house), Kittery Trading Post, installing some CS4-4 countersunk rivets in an airplane wing leading edge. And, surprisingly, the exercise machines — both the rower and the Expresso bike were big hits. (The kids exercised. Your Humble Blogger didn’t).

Meh: seafood places, any clothing that was not camouflaged. (The boys did, however, acquire faux-coonskin hats at the Trading Post). No word on whether their refined, European mom sees those as == camouflage, her idea of a sartorial felony.

Deferred to next visit: submarine museum, lunch at the airfield café (too busy), the coastal defense installations, the shore, maybe a bike ride (needs one more serviceable bike for a Gang of 4).

We’ll miss the li’l varmints. The good thing about the end of this visit will be getting back on diet and exercise… it’s great to be a kid for a few days, but chicken nuggets and fries at every meal is unsustainable with a 1950s-vintage metabolism.

Somber Sunday

This is one of those days when we’re overtasked. Last week we had a good if too-busy week, with an Army buddy hanging around while he punched a ticket at the SIG Academy, a new (and it turns out, very clingy) dog to learn and teach, and then our last surviving uncle was taken ill.

That kind of ill. The kind where they take you off the dialysis that has kept you alive for around a decade, and gradually disconnect the other contraptions and gadgets that are keeping a guy on the blade side of the grass.

His services are today; it will be our first experience of a Baptist funerary service, as everybody else has been Congregational, Catholic or Anglican. We shall comport ourselves decently. We hope.

He was a good guy who, with his wife, raised four good sons. He had been ill for a long time, but was in good spirits every time we saw him. We worry about his widow, the Blogfather’s sister.

Unfortunately, this day also had two other events scheduled: a family investment club meeting — already canceled — and a rare trip to Boston for a concert, a gift from the Blogbrother. That’s on the bubble. (Love the band, hate Boston).

Small Dog II is not liking being left alone. Came back from a bare one-hour bike ride today to find he had clawed most of the paint off the frame of the door he saw his human depart from.  He also expresses his distress vocally. Fortunately Nice Neighbor Lady will come by and check on him a few times. (So one mission last night was to lock up the scarier looking guns, so as not to freak her out).

Sunday Sagination

“to saginate,” v. trans. To fatten animals.

Sunday began busy, and as a result, post is late. Turns out Hog Manor is hosting the immediate family tonight (a fact not established until 1130) and the menu is looking distinctly non-dietetic:

  1. Appetizer TBD (last time General Tso’s and Celery skewers were a hit);
  2. Boring Salad (lettuce / cuke / carrots. Told you it was boring);
  3. Slow-cooked BBQ baby back ribs;
  4. Green veg’s (probably green beans w/walnuts & almonds) and (if available fresh) corn on the cob;
  5. Baked beans;
  6. Rice dish, either plain jasmine rice or rice pilaf;
  7. Dessert, ice cream and fruit. Update: Blogbro bringing fruit salad and cookies, neither of which we’ll eat. Calories saved!

So much for the diet, eh? Well, one can watch portions. As for the family, they’re getting saginated. Hope they’re ready.

Speaking of the fitness/diet results, here’s last week’s numbers, lbs., miles, and exercise calories, :

Week 2 Ending 8/13
-2.8 54.5 4896

weight_20160814Goals are 2 / 100 / 7000 which are aspirational. The goal of ≤1700 gross intake calories was met every day but one (when a scallop lunch pushed the number to 1800) this week. Weight was lower still this morning and that makes for a chart (right) showing a positive trend.

Longterm objective is 50 lbs off, then reassess. Meanwhile increasing fitness with strength training and more cardio.

Interesting discovery: Lobster is about the perfect low-carb food. A whole lobster contains only 150 or so calories, of which only about 6-8% each is fat and carbs. The rest is all protein. At least, until you slather it with butter. Didn’t realize that.

We feel like we spent the whole week on a bicycle, so the fact we’re so short of our miles is depressing, but we haven’t done any long rides (25 miles or so) and to do 100 miles a week, and take one day off, you have to average 17 a day, right? We’ve also been dogging it on bike variety — no indoor Expresso riding, no riding the Old Man Errand Schwinn (with baskets, etc.) or Montague the Folder, just the BikeE recumbent. We know the uprights use different muscles than the ‘bent because we feel different pains.

We tried to visit the ruins of a 16″ coastal battery, Battery Seaman, for, we hoped, a picture article this week.

Battery Seaman - 4In the process of not getting the pictures we wanted, we were reminded of several things:

  1. The coastal marsh around the coast defense installations is finestkind mosquito habitat. Your Humble Blogger probably has Zika now. Either that, or the skeeters have been poisoned;
  2. The BikeE really, really blows at off-pavement riding. It’s marginally controllable at low speeds on pavement as it is;
  3. A cell phone is a poor substitute for a camera. We bought a thing called an Ollo Lens that’s supposed to improve its capability — we wasted $100 on poorly documented, ill-fitting junk. (The fisheye image of the rear entry to the battery firing position was shot with the OlloLens Fisheye). Costly lesson, when you consider we already knew the answer: no, you can’t make a silk photographic purse out of a sow’s cellphone ear;
  4. Summer is the worst time to see the installations, because the vegetation is high;
  5. Is there no public place that has not been despoiled by the dyscivic accretions of drug users and “homeless” bums, who leave their wastes everywhere, and teenage grafitti “taggers,” who do essentially the same thing? The Singaporeans have much to teach us in regard to these two scourges.

Progress continued on Da Plane. These clecos were installed Friday morning.

Wing Progress - 1

(The yellow noses on most of them are anti-mar rubber boots). By 2330, they were all replaced by permanent rivets. All skins on one wing are complete. Now, on to the wingtip structure.


Salutary Sunday


Imagine this, with less weight on the bar and more weight on the lifter, at least for now.

Starting 1 August we’ve been revisiting health and fitness. Today continues that trend of pursuing health, hence, it should be a salutary Sunday, quite literally.

We have the usual deficiencies of an older American, to wit, a too-sedentary existence and far too much weight. Some of that came about because a 2004 parachute mishap pretty much ended our ability to indulge our then-favorite exercise, long cross-country runs. But most of it is because we’re as lazy as the next guy, enjoy researching and writing which are largely sedentary activities, and like our chow all too much.

This time, we’ve decided to improve strength and endurance while taking off a significant amount of weight. We’re doing it three ways:


What works for strength is strength training — weight lifting. We have mentioned before that most if not all SF guys are either/or: weights guys or running guys. You’re reading a running guy, who hated weights. Hating it is all the more reason to do it, and all the reason to do it more. So for the last two months, twice a week the day begins with a professional trainer who was a competitive weightlifter, in a weights-focused gym.

Each session is personalized,, although there may be more than one client working out at the same time (there’s an upcharge for fully private lessons). It begins with warmup stretches, then includes work with resistance bands and strength reps on weights, before concluding with intense metabolic conditioning. On a bad day, you leave conscious you’ve had a tough workout. On a good day, you leave smoked. 

Already, the strength and flexibility benefits have been profound, and it’s dawned that had we done this when the cast came off in 04, we’d probably have returned to full performance, or something very close, within a few months thereafter. Also, there’s a lot less drama when we need to assume a low position, whether it’s getting into the prone on the range or getting supine on a mechanic’s creeper in the workshop.

Rippetoe isn’t making his stuff up: strength training really works.

Despite the strength gains and some hints of dimensional changes, the strength training has not addressed the elephant in the room — which would be your humble blogger, if he only had grey skin and a prehensile schnoz. That’s the weight, which we’ll get to.


We’d been slacking off on cardio, and our objective has always been 1000 calories of cardio a day, mixed modes (bike, rowing, walking). Interestingly though, in the past when we resumed a PT walk after a month or so off, there have been particular muscle pains associated with that. Thanks, we think, to the squats that are a key component of the strength training, there was no pain when resuming brisk walks. A postprandial walk (or ride) also cures the organism of its desire for a postprandial nap.

If we’re making 1000 calories a day, we’d have 7k at the end of a week. Last week was pretty pathetic, under 3k, but then, we only managed 20 miles of distance. This week we’ll be looking to make the calories and see how close we get to 100 miles (and that will, of course, be heavy on the bicycle. 100 miles of rowing in a week and we’d have the arms of a Greek god).

We don’t count regular daily activities, even if we do hours of hard yard work in the hot sun.


Ah yes, time to address the elephant in the room. Your Humble Blogger is fat. And keenly aware from past experience, that one can’t PT his way out of a weight problem. Weight loss is a highly personal thing, but as we see it there are three basic factors in weight metabolism:

  • Simple thermodynamics. Energy in food (E), minus daily routine subsistence requirements (S), minus exercise burn (X), yields figure W.

(E – S) -X = W.

If W is a positive number, it contributes to weight gain.  If a negative, to weight loss. This is a valid equation but it’s an oversimplification, because the organism seeks to maintain homeostasis or to store energy and thus seems to reduce S when E is reduced! So the E has to be lowered rather abruptly to achieve and maintain a negative W.

The two figures easiest to control here, of course, are E and X.

  • Weight biochemistry. Because of bioavailability and other things that are coming close to being understood, what you eat is as important as how much you eat. In particular, the longtime enemy of nutritionists, saturated fat, seems to be comparatively harmless, and the real villain is looking more like sugars and other carbohydrates. But with calorie restriction, there’s really not a lot of overhead in the meal plan for calorie-rich carbs. Snacks? Sorry, chips and cookies, we’re looking at carrots and celery. (Spices help).
  • Self-discipline. Historically, in our case, only by spreadsheeting the calories in and calories out have we ever been able to get our W into weight-loss mode. There’s a certain Heisenberg effect, where the measurement itself affects the result — in this case, in the desired direction. Works for us; might not for you.

So to get from there, to a plan, what we do is:

  1. Reduce calorie burn to 1700 a day;
  2. Alter what we eat away from carbs to a degree (the 1700 limit influences this, also; you simply can’t eat filling meals and have room for empty carbs under such a limit).
  3. Get more rigid about the exercise schedule so we’re not looking at the clock at 11 PM and bemoaning lost days.

Sunday night family dinner is a weekly cheat. A cheat is generally a bad idea; it has to be an escape valve without becoming a gateway for a culture of cheating.

We expect to lose, on average 2 lbs a week and we’d like to shed a whopping 50 pounds — while getting stronger and fit. The thermodynamic equation suggests weight loss would be faster than that (Δ-3500 kcal ≈ – 1 lb.) but we know from experience, it isn’t (that’s the effect of weight biochemistry and the body’s search for homeostasis). If this is the case, we’ll hit -50 lb. some time in the dead of winter; if weight loss tapers off to a pound a week, sometime in the warm months next year.

Intermediate goals: by Christmas and again by next birthday (which is midsummer) we should see significant weight loss and strength and endurance increase.

First week’s results: Δ weight -3.3 lb, distance 20.42 miles, calorie burn 2646 (37.8% of goal)

This week’s plan:

Week 2, August 2016 S M T W T F S
AM Cardio Walk Strength Cardio Bike or Row Strength Cardio Bike or Row Cardio Walk Bike Distance ride
PM Bike Mid Distance Cardio Bike or Row Bike Distance ride Cardio Bike or Row Bike Distance ride Nordic Trak ?

The plan, of course, is always subject to being overturned by events, weather, etc. Not counting any calories burnt in strength training, that’s conservatively about 5800 calories and 70 miles. It should yield the 2 lb. weight loss sought, given discipline in eating.

Sunday Sermuncle

This weekend was the Team Dive. There was, as always these days, no diving; but many of the members of A-1 / ODA-111 / ODA-1111 / ODA-2034 (the same basic team, with different numbers, over a span of some forty years) and a few friends from other ODAs in the same company did show up to enjoy grilling, drinking, camaraderie and, of course, endless “war stories” from exercises in Norway to experiences in Legland as a raw private to the process of getting out of an assignment to Hindi/Urdu school in Monterey and volunteering for Vietnam by calling Mrs. A.

A lot of stories involved getting around the Army bureaucracy that committed boneheaded follies, such as assigning a native Filipino who’d spent his last three pre-SF years in units in Hawaii to the unit that covers South America, because his name was Rodriguez. (Not his real name, but close. He escaped with a call to Mrs. A., naturally, and went to Okinawa instead, where his Tagalog fluency was treasured).

As the event is held in Massachusetts, and many of the guys who show up are local, there was a lot of discussion of Massachusetts gun laws, and we all said a few Heil Healeys because that seems to be what she wants, or at least, deserves. Heil Healey!

Some were absent. One guy is going through some hard times and wants to be alone — boy, he doesn’t know what a pestering that has put him in for.

One guy got himself into a severe legal jam, and showed up at the house of a teammate who was keeping his guns, begging for just one back. The friend, of course, refused (or what sort of friend would he have been?) but the troubled man opted for Plan B, a combination of overdose and bloodletting, and saved the authorities a trial and decades of room and board. Given what his future looked like, it may have been the right choice for his family, but his absence was felt.

Then there was the guy who is rumored to be motor racing in Colorado as a relief from his high-stress job in the C-suite. We suspect we missed him more than he misses us.

And some just couldn’t show up — summer weekends are premium for everybody, in these latitudes.

Which brings us to the thing that makes this not a random musing, but a sermuncle — which the dictionary says is a “short sermon.” Go thou, and contact thy friends from service days; do not let this week pass without picking a name at, more or less, random from your phone or rolodex, and calling. Just to say, hello. Just to say that you are a friend.

Perhaps even to say, I can not approve of the misdeed you have done, but I still love you like a brother. It is a small thing, a Christian thing (or perhaps a human thing, for you need not be a Christian to do it; the phone is available to the Hindu and the Jew, and, through the grace of God, to the Godless heathen himself). It is a thing worth doing.

Call a friend you’re out of touch with, before the sun rises next Sunday.

Thus endeth the sermuncle.