Category Archives: Administrivia

Sunday Spuddling

“Spuddling”? The Phrontistery defines “spuddle” as “to work feebly or ineffectively; to perform shallow agricultural ploughing,” which is what it just felt like doing as we assaulted the sea of oak leaves in back of the house. By tonight, they all will be gone, except the inevitable stragglers. But you may be sure that it took rather a lot of spuddling.

Yesterday a young fellow with a truck showed up at Hog Manor looking for work. We have had no handyman since our last one vanished without a trace in 2011 or so. We made an arrangement, and he came back with a crew and leveled a sagging stone patio, and as a bonus fixed a dangling floodlight. He left a business card. I think we have secured a new handyman; there’s always something more that needs work, something any homeowner great or small has experienced. We’re rather proud of having done the leaves, winterized the fountain, and rearranged the garage to hold two cars and an airplane-in-progress without resorting to a checkbook solution. Next challenge may be the walkway lights. And at some point we need to winterize the mower.

Today, Your Humble Blogger is being a Bad Brother and Worse Uncle. His favorite niece is dancing her biggest role yet in a local Nutcracker, and one feels a bit bad about giving it a miss, but, the venue is a hassle to get to, and so we are exercising Crotchety Old Man Privilege. Next year, she may be Clara for the first time, and there’ll be no getting out of it. (Yes, she’s that good).

Our Saturday Matinee for yesterday will be backdated (perhaps this evening) for the simple reason that we ran out of time to re-watch the classic old film. Working on it! We promise it has lots of action, stars, guns, and Hollywood fireball explosions.

We’re going to try to have some useful infotainment for all of you this week, and we’re still writing on two books simultaneously. Life is good, and never dull.

Seasonal Sunday

‘Tis the season to be jolly, fa-la- wait, wait, wait. What’s so jeezly jolly about it?

Well, let’s consider that for a minute. We’re in a nation and a world beset by problems, and yet, and yet —

  • If you look at a newspaper from 30 years ago, there were horrible things happening… that never did come to pass. Newspapers (and TV) sell strife, discord, and fear. Yet, in most times and places, and in the long run, strife doesn’t actually prosper. Today’s newspaper counter-Cassandras will look similarly off target from a generation ahead.
  • If you are happy, unhappy, or have mixed feelings after elections here or abroad, bear this in mind: while elections do have consequences, nations survive greater calamities all the time; and election victory never brings the victors everything they want.
  • As gun folk, the culture is, slowly, moving our way. Some day, some bright spark in Hollywood will discover that there’s an awful lot of people with disposable income that they could be getting, if they told stories that spoke to us. That will be the signal that the preference cascade has overwhelmed the opposition.
  • We’re building a freakin’ airplane. That’s not exactly downtrodden and depressed. (Even if Your Humble Blogger did indeed squash a rivet wrong Friday, and we had to drill it out last night).
  • Fidel Castro kicked the bucket, after a long evilness. Pretty amazing to see the reactions: the President and Secretary of State seemed to be really saddened. On the other hand, more level-headed people celebrated.

You know, it is the season to be jolly. Fa-la-la-la-la, la la la LA.

Edited to Add: Yesterday, the Blogbro swung by and we visited a local guy who has a side business, with his wife, making and selling natural maple syrup in a sugar shack in their back yard (yes, a sugar shack really is a thing). Kids, that high fructose chemical crap that IG Farben or whoever makes and sticks Aunt Jemima’s picture on is not maple syrup. Read the ingredients! (Good luck understanding them without a couple of good undergrad chemistry courses).

When Guns Aren’t Outlawed, Let’s Give Thanks

It would be churlish, on this day of national Thanksgiving, to post some story about some wretch hurting himself or others in some oddball fashion, so instead, let’s consider the degree to which guns are not outlawed, and give thanks.

  • Let us give thanks to those who fought to preserve this right for us, from the Magna Carta which secured the right for King John’s noble vassals, to the lawmakers who have removed literally thousands of restrictions on self-defense and gun-ownership in the last decades, and the activists who fought, and continue to fight, for the rights of free men.
  • Let us give thanks to the peculiar circumstances that brought an unusually brilliant circle of republic-oriented Englishmen to these shores, to craft an experimental limited government, in the Age of Gilded Kings that was Europe’s Baroque Era.
  • Let us give thanks to the rough men (& a few women) who visit violence on those who would do us harm — and the gentle ones, who never seek violence but who draw a line around their homes and families, and will fight to keep them safe. (Every one of both of those groups makes every one of us safer).
  • Let us give thanks to the designers and business executives who bring us new and wonderful weapons, and to the engineers and production workers who turn their plans into solid reality.
  • Let us give thanks to the activists, not just our own but also the ones around the world who seek to bring the blessings of armed self defense to the good guys and gals in Mexico (which has held its first hearings to consider legal liberalization) and Russia and around the world.
  • Let us give thanks to the lawyers, scholars and law professors who have shaped gun and self-defense jurisprudence lately.
  • Let us give thanks to the collectors, curators and just general gun geeks and anoraks who preserve, decode, understand and interpret these historical artifacts for us.
  • Let us give thanks to the writers who use the written word and the photograph to extend our gun world beyond all the things we can own, shoot or do ourselves.
  • Let us give thanks to our enemies, for their general incompetence and obtusity. (Maybe we owe this to the Creator and His sense of humor).
  • Let us give thanks to our families, for putting up with us if for no other reason.
  • Let us give thanks to the religious refugees of the 17th Century, strange folk to our way of thinking, who established this tradition of harvest Thanksgiving for our nation, and the 19th- and 20th-Century leaders who revived it.

And above all, let us give thanks to our Lord and Creator, on this solemn and joyous day. (You atheists, you can give thanks to random happenstance and primordial slime, if you like. The Lord works in strange ways, his miracles to perform).

We give thanks to each of you, dear readers, and wish you all the delights of the day and the season. God bless you, one and all.

Sluggish Sunday

Here is a late post, for which, we apologize… a little.

Returning from NOLA on Friday noonish, we had an SF buddy and his lady arrive later than expected (they got nailed in Connecticut and Massachusetts weekend traffic on the way here) and went out for late seafood. They had lobster rolls, Your Humble Blogger had a scallop basket, all was good.

Back at Hog Manor, our guest produced a jar of moonshine. A splendid time was had by all.

Saturday, we missed the chance to get on the scale and spent the day wondering whether we’d put on 5 lbs in a week of fantastic New Orleans food, or more. Our guest and his lady went back into Boston so he could do the Spartan Race in Fenway Park (which he did, of course). Some interesting characters there, including Miss Vermont, who “looks about 18” but competed in the pro competition… she was complaining about slow guys getting in her way.

And Saturday Night we went out to a favorite vets’ haunt on the New Hampshire Seacoast, the 401 Tavern in Hampton. (Not Hampton Beach, but inland along Rt. 1). This 17th-Century tavern is a very vet-friendly place, with reserved parking for Enemy Marksmanship Badge (Purple Heart) recipients and regular parking for us cowards who kept our heads down. If you look you may see some certificates and memorabilia from SF around here.

We had the steak tips, our guest had his lady had seafood options. We were all very satisfied.

This morning, our objectives were simple (updated) :

  1. Get a post-pigout morning weight (mirabile dictu, we were only up 0.1 lb);
  2. Have a good breakfast;
  3. Get the guests launched towards home;
  4. PT (it was promised to be a lovely day, 50+ degrees F and sunny);
  5. Deal with the foot-thick layer of oak leaves on the lawn. Yeah, they started falling.

So we took our guests to breakfast, finding that we’d left both cash and cards at home, and had the embarrassing situation of having to ask the guest to catch the bill. (He’d caught the 401, and we’d caught the seafood Friday, so it was our turn). We’ve promised the best steak house on the coast on their return… which is also a good way to get two great guests back.

Then, we decided to do the leaves first. And while doing the leaves, we decided to act on our half-baked plan to eliminate an overgrown flower garden. You know how you can’t do anything in one easy step? It went something like this:

  1. High center the zero-turn mower on a forgotten promontory under the rosebushes we were bush-hogging.
  2. Fail to unstick the mower.
  3. Get pincushioned by the rose bushes. They did not go gently into that good night.
  4. Get truck and tow cable, back up to mower, connect cable.
  5. Let out clutch and SPANGGG!! break tow cable. Lash of cable gets revenge on remaining rosebushes.
  6. Go in to get some affection from Small Dog Mk II. Needed it.
  7. Is Tractor Supply open Sundays? Yes. Contemplating wire for making a new tow cable, saw that they had a 7,500# test axle strap for only $50, no assembly required.
  8. Pull out mower.
  9. Thank neighbors for their offer to help, and ignore their comment that it was a dumb-ass thing to get the mower stuck like that.
  10. Repair mower control part that was bent when it took the weight of the whole mower.

After that, we were ready to start on the leaves again… three runs (mulching, mower pickup, sweeper pickup). And the lawn will be covered in leaves by Wednesday.

PT tomorrow, honest.

We should have some good stuff this week!

Stratospheric Sunday

Since Your Humble Blogger is well-known to be licensed to drive only surface vehicles and near-surface single-motor bugsmashers, what’s he doing up in the thin air, in the native habitat of things that have Mach numbers?

No, he did not take all the money from the advertising that is not on this blog and buy a Citation X (or an Aero L-39, which is probably more nearly what he’d like to afford). He got up here in the usual way of commoners, with a ticket and a humiliating wait-scope-snarl-n-grope drill from the mouth breathers at TSA.

As you read this, he is crammed into the Human Mailing Tube enroute to N’Awlins, where he’ll meet the Blogfather for a week of museum crawling, music, miscellaneous debauchery, and visiting violence upon his diet.

Sorry ’bout that, Dr. Cardiologist.

Accordingly, while we’ve banked some posts to keep the blog running, you may see some slower responses in the comments and from @Hognose on Gab.

Local Link-up?

Thanks to all for the cool suggestions of things to do and see in NOLA, and any local WeaponsMan readers are welcome to ping us here in comments, at Gab, or hognose at network impossible dot com and maybe we can work a partisan link-up in to this trip.

RV-12 Airplane Progress

After a veritable French farce of errors getting hold of replacement cadmium-plated washers, which are apparently eco-villainry of the most noxious kind, we began to make progress on the second wing. (Can’t fly on one wing). We got held up a little by misplacing a tube of Loc-Tite 243, which is called out by the plans. We have several other flavors of Loc-Tite, including the tantalizingly close 242, but not the 243. (The difference? Both are similar removable adhesives, but 242 is formulated for fasteners of a nominal 1/4″ to 3/4″, and 243 is for smaller ones). FAA regulations are such that, to bend a phrase of Twain’s to our use, “you need the exact thing, not its first cousin.” So as this post was drafted it’s uncertain whether our next-day LocTite 243 will arrive in time for us to fasten the electrical connectors in place, and skin the wing. The picture placed here (if any) will be a progress-brag. Or not.

Annnnd… the 243 was delivered in plenty of time, and we applied it to our fasteners (2 each) and slipped washers onto them, and screwed them through a wing rib and a doubler plate into the standoffs they go into, that hold an electrical connector at the wing root (so that the wings can be quick-detached with snap connectors for lights and stall warning wiring). The first one was no problem.

On the second one, the screw turned just too easily after the first couple of turns. Your Humble Blogger the tried holding the screw steady and having the Blogbrother rotate the hex-section standoff with an open-end wrench.

“Stop when it gets as hard as the last one.”

“It’s not getting any harder at all — hey! It’s not even attached.”

As it turned out, the thing screwed all the way in, but rather than take any strain at all, split across the threaded section about a thread-and-a-half from the screw head.

Naturally, we have eight gazillion spare fasteners that do not include any more of those screws or standoffs. (The standoff is ruined because the broken shaft of the screw is inside it. We’ve got a set of screw removers, but automotive sizes, not something that works on a 1/8″ screw). We have enough cadmium-plated washers to turn the Rong Brothers Aeroplane Factory into a Superfund site.

Crap. He’ll get to try the bolt again when a new one comes from Van’s. And some standoffs.

 What Else is Going On?

At the urging of gardening guru David the Good, we’re playing in National Novel Writing Month, trying to finish a short (50,000 word) novel that fills the temporal gap between the outbreak of World War II in the Pacific, and our protagonists’ later adventures against the power of the Empire of Japan. We’re bending the timeline a little to get one guy from Panama on 8 December to Wake Island before the climax of the battle there, which, as you can imagine, doesn’t do him any favors at all. And the other guy? Boy, does he ever get a crummy job. (We failed to double word count on the 5th, which is actually a thing people try to do. We actually failed to write a word. Meanwhile, David did, and he’s been doing a painting every day this month.

While Traveling, Small Dog Mk II…

small dog II…will be warehoused in doggie durance vile, canine calaboose, hound hoosegow, puppy penitentiary.

Which is to say, the little guy, who gets terribly anxious if he can’t see his trained feeder monkey, will be boarded. (Original plan had him joining us on a road trip through the southeast. The change to a one-stop in urban NOLA put the kibosh on him joining us). This will either break him of the separation anxiety, or break Your Humble Blogger of traveling.

It is a battle of wills, between two stubborn individuals with counterposed walnut-sized brains. Like the election, the outcome is uncertain.

Updated to add — the drop-off went surprisingly well, and he seemed comfortable in the arms of the boarding kennel’s (“Don’t call us that, we’re a dog spa,” she insists) when we exited.

Sunday Sifting, Sorting, Scouring, Scrubbing

keep-calm-and-clean-up-the-messIt’s all OTR’s fault. Last time he was here, he cut us to the quick:

This place looks like a hoarder house.

It stings because, well, it’s kind of true. It didn’t help when he grabbed up an armload of stuff and announced:

I’ll throw this crap away!

Only to induce what we barely had enough self-awareness to recognize as a “typical hoarder reaction,” to wit:

Worrauugghhh! There’s good stuff in there.

So, we break with hoarder tradition and Clean The Office today — after, that is, we deal with leaves and acorns, the Two Horsemen of the Autumnopolis in today’s ‘Shire woods (made so by the primacy of oaks, alas, after the die-off of the Elm, American Chestnut, Hemlock and now Red Pine, all slain by intrusive species just extincting the trees Americans won’t extinct).

The largest dead Red Pine forest was actually planted by the Daughters of the American Revolution in a state park in 1939-41. It was cleared out a couple years ago to try to eliminate a scale insect infestation (whose brother could be occurring under the papers on our desk!). Massachusetts did nothing about the problem down there because, well, it was “all natural” (ditto the papers….); they just let their state forests die off and the bug spread.

We’re dreading this, actually. But it has to be done.

Update 1900

The yard work got done… uh, the office got started. That counts, right?

A Small Milestone or Two

fireworks_imageThis morning, just before noon, reader Hayabusa left a comment on a When Guns are Outlawed post. (We have always wondered whether he named himself after the bird, the airplane, or the motorcycle, three noble things that share the same Japanese title. But that’s his business).

hayabusa_comment

Little did he know it, but by our reckoning, it was the 50,000th approved comment on this blog, since the blog went live on 1 January 2012. We were expecting that milestone to come up, but were floored to find another comment milestone happening near-simultaneously.

In a remarkable coincidence, another comment today was the 20,000th this year, which gives you an idea just how much more popular reading WeaponsMan and commenting here is than it was in its earliest days. By the end of the year, over 40% of our total comments since Day 1 will be from this year.

The 20,000th comment of 2016 was this one by Daniel E. Watters.

watters_comment

 

We are grateful for every page you read, every link you click, and every comment you make, especially ones that extend our own knowledge or correct our own misconceptions (a specialty of Daniel Watters, among others). Thank you very much.

As we come up to our fifth anniversary, we feel like we ought to give back to those readers who have been so generous with their time and comments. We have some prizes set aside (books and things) and need to figure out what kind of contest to have. Suggestions, friends?

Spooky Sunday

At some time today, we’ll be putting the Demon Dog and other Halloween decorations out, which makes it Spooky Sunday.

We’ve been engaged on the new social media platform Gab, which is still in beta. Imagine Twitter, but with more than twice the characters per post, and an institutional commitment to free speech (vs. Twitter’s commitment to social engineering). Highly recommended. Your Humble Blogger is, of course, @hognose and frequently gabs about #guns.

Had a week of sticking to diet but off-and-on on exercise, so we saw — we are not making this up  — a one day gain of 3.3 lbs (1.5 Kg), followed by dieting off a half-pound a day… ending the week at a new low that was a half-pound below last week’s record. It makes for a weird looking graph for this month so far:

october_weight

Especially when you consider our real objective has to be below the bottom of that graph. It doesn’t look quite so bad when we look at the whole thing:

aug-oct_weight

It’s more work than we might like. We know what we need to do (doesn’t everybody, about most things?) and we just need to ruck up and execute.

Not all the news is even that good. Got the news that Tom Greer died after an incredibly brief illness. He is best known to the public as author Dalton Fury, a name guys ribbed him about. He was a legendary special operations leader, who came up from a private in the Ranger Regiment; even there, his contemporaries tell us, he was marked for advancement. (I do not recall him ever serving in SF, just Rangers and other special operations forces).  Here’s a non-fiction essay of his worth reading. We lost a good one there.

We spent 3:30 (that’s three hours thirty minutes, not three minutes and a half) on the phone with a friend (and former leader) in Fayetteville. He came through the storm all right, just lost power for a few days (others are worse off). His wife is fighting severe illness, and it gets him down. On the phone, all that dropped away and we solved all the problems of life, the universe and everything (especially special operations).

Yesterday, we spent the afternoon and evening with an old teammate (an 18E commo man, but he’s a gun guy, naturally) and introduced Small Dog Mk II to his rambunctious German Shepherds. (Yes, plural). However, because we wrote and queued this post up before leaving for his house, we can’t tell you whether SDMkII got eaten or not, unless or until we update the post.  Still, he has such separation anxiety, we didn’t want to leave him.

Finally, we’re meeting the Blogfather in New Orleans soon. We don’t know the city; we’ve never done anything except drive on through. We know the former D-Day Museum is a must see (now the National WWII Museum), and we saw online the LA Guard museum, an old fort, and a Confederate War Museum… we’re wondering if readers have any recommendations, and that’s not just gun stuff, but also food and entertainment options. We’ll be in town about five days.

Sicilian Sunday

Yesterday, we were doing work with this lady’s music playing in the background:

http://www.michelamusolino.com/music

We saw her mentioned in an aside at Ace of Spades, and followed the link on purest whim. We’re glad we did! Apparently she and her collaborators sing traditional Sicilian songs. While we read Italian, we only pull out an occasional phrase from the words. For all we know, she’s singing, “Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes, it’s an ancient custom of my people,” but her voice sounds beautiful. Not our usual style of music (which runs to Baroque orchestral music, and 60s pop) but it was really restful to have playing while writing and queuing up the blog for the start of the week.

Another week ends, no matter what music you play, and the new one begins.

Not much progress on winterizing Hog Manor, but Small Dog Mk II has been getting his walks, to his waggy delight, and we’ve stayed on track in nutrition and fitness terms. Indeed, yesterday we set a low weight since getting serious in July, which was exactly 20 lb. off the peak that set us on the journey in the first place.

While dieting off flab has been good, and the calorie target we try to hit (1700 gross/day) means staying away from nutritionally empty stuff, the real boost has come from strength training. Each workout is broken down into three phases:

  1. A warmup/mobility phase, which might be best described as a variety of stretches against body weight or elastic resistance; this includes simple stretches like Groiners and Fall-throughs, but also Green Mile shuffles with a band around the upper calves. If it doesn’t hurt while you’re doing it, you may not be doing right.
  2. Actual strength training — lifting gradually but steadily increasing weights, with attention to proper form.
  3. “MetCon” or metabolic conditioning — this is basically a high intensity workout, which blasts past aerobic capacity and normal heart rate limits. If we understand (and we probably don’t), the objective here is to try to reset the metabolism to a higher BMR.

While we tend to credit the mobility with most of the real mobility gains — everything from rising from a chair to chasing a lost safety-detent spring under the gunsmithing bench — our trainer is quite adamant that all the exercises work together, and are part of a scientifically crafted whole. And who will argue with success?

A guy who was not supposed to walk again, at least not without a cane, and still believed he would never run, is now jogging a little (but only when the dog wants to. We draw the line at dragging the little guy).

Certainly the strength training has produced some shape changes as well. Haven’t measured, but arms are bigger, this summer’s pants don’t fit, clothes that were undersize do.

There is still a long way to go to get back into fighting shape.

Saturation Sunday

Let’s start with a sigh, as this was going to be an outdoor work day. About the only thing achieved was depowering the fountain so it can be drained on schedule and closed up by the middle of the month, as “scattered showers” from the forecast turned into a solid day of steady drizzle, with the occasional breaks in the drizzle comprising, not dry air, let alone sunlight, but rather something more like a cloud’s Final Protective Fires.

Precipitous precipitation, that. At least it’s a warm rain. Good thing we got a bike ride in yesterday. The geese were already hunkering down.

bike_ride

Small Dog Mk II does not seem to miss his walk; he is a canine grandmaster at energy savings, seemingly able to sleep all day and all of the night, to steal a line from a wrinkly rocker.

Some news to report. First, for all of you interested in progress of the Blogbrother’s plane, we spent some time this week building a cradle for the wings. It was his idea, and we seemed to fall agreeably, as always, into a natural division of labor. Your Humble Blogger fleshed the idea out and provided the parts that made it work, and he did nearly all of the work. The base of the cradle is two 18 x 12″ moving dollies, and the uprights are formed by two frames from a scrapped box spring or mattress. The bare aluminum wing reflects everything!

wing_progress_03

(That’s the Blogbrother, camouflaged as a toolbox). This also allowed us to rearrange the garage, so that the truck can also be in with the car and the airplane project by the time the snows are upon us. And we expect we will finish the second wing speedily (the holdups are in electrical subsystems, where we’re waiting for parts and fasteners).

wing_progress_02

Finally, an update on health & fitness. Lost one of last week’s strength days and many days of cardio due to a joint problem, but we’re back on track, and experiencing the tangible benefits of the mobility, strength and metabolic conditioning every day. Weight loss continues at a slower rate. We could have called this Sweatshirt Sunday, because a hooded sweatshirt bought at LL Bean outlet this spring, and never worn because it was too tight, was tried today: comfortable, loose fit.

Here’s to making it positively baggy. The goal is 15 more pounds off by Pearl Harbor Day or thereabouts, which is less than two pounds a week — less than our rate of weight loss in August, but more than in September.