Category Archives: Administrivia

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.


Sunday Scratching

Last night the Blogbrother came over and we continued to work on the right wing of the RV-12. When we last left you, the bottom of the wing was skinned*, but what we didn’t tell you is that these skins weren’t fully attached, because they wrap around the leading edge to the top surface and go back about a foot or so, where they’ll form (we think, without reading ahead in the plans in detail) a lap joint with the skins that run aft from that point. The aft upper skins have a lip that hooks into the wing ribs and also serves to stiffen the skin (and therefore the wing, when all is assembled) considerably.


The wing is designed so that the aerodynamic forces of flight, which can be calculated straightforwardly with algebra and trigonometry, are transferred to the spars, which are the backbones of the wing, and then to the fuselage. Many pilots know useful rules of thumb here. The wing must support the whole weight of the plane and its passengers and contents, which are limited by regulation to 1,320 lbs. So each wing bears 660 lbs of force in unaccelerated flight (If you suspect the numbers are metric figures expressed in Imperial units, you’re quite right — the Light Sport Aircraft standard is a 600-KG standard, vis-a-vis the parallel Euro regulation which limits the planes to 450-Kg gross weight). This is not an aerobatic category airplane, which limits the maneuvers it is designed for (again by regulation, one is not to exceed 60º of nose-up, -down, or bank). At 60º of bank, some of the force vector of the wings (“lift”) goes to oppose gravity and keep the plane in the air, and some goes to keep the plane turning in a tight circle…conveniently enough, that doubles the load-bearing of the wing, so each wing (left and right) is independently bearing 1,320 lbs.

So the designer must make each wing twice as strong as the bare minimum to lift the plane off in a straight line… but wait! We haven’t accounted for any safety margins. In practice, most light planes are designed for +3.8 and -1 G, unless they are destined for hard work (“utility” category) or aerial athleticism (“aerobatic” category), and they are designed for that load plus a safety margin, which is usually a multiple of 1.5.

Some airplanes are built much stronger (one well-known aerobatic plane is good for 12G in all axes, an acceleration which would conk most of us right out if applied quickly. And big transports are designed for lower maximum air loads, and are flown within narrower parameters. (The -1 manual for the C-130, for example, restricts pilots to +1.5, -0 G at Maximum Take-Off Weight). So how does the AC-130 fly in up to a 60º bank? Ah, those restrictions are at MTOW, the equivalent of max gross weight. So the limit is 1.5 x the plane’s full gross weight, loaded. If the airplane is many tons lighter, the pilots can horse it around quite a bit more without worrying about it reverting to kit form inflight.

Light airplanes may be certificated in multiple categories at different gross weights, also. So you might be Normal at 1670 lbs, Utility at 1400 lbs, and Aerobatic at 1200 lbs., with different maneuvers permitted at each level. It all comes back to the engineer’s original calculation of the load bearing capability  of the structure, and of the air loads imposed on the wing. Of course, the design should not only be substantiated by engineering calculations, but also proven by flight test. (Even engineers make mistakes). The FAA requires homebuilt experimentals to undergo a period of flight testing before they’re used to carry passengers or fly over congested areas: airplanes falling from the sky in a rain of aluminum pieces are generally bad for the occupants, anyone underneath, and the reputation of aviation as a whole.

Every once in a while, some national socialist gets the idea that there’s way too much freedom loose in the country when people can build and fly their own airplanes. Not surprisingly, these are often the same national socialists who are alarmed at the idea that you might manufacture your own firearm. So far, we’ve retained this liberty (from some time in the New Deal until 1952, building your own airplane was verboten in the USA).

So, what has all this airplane stuff got to do with “scratching?” Last night, the mosquitos had their way with us as we worked in an open garage. Hence today’s pruritis. Hence, scratching.


Administrative note: later today we may have a movie review up (slotted in yesterday) for the first time in a while. We have quite a backlog of films to review, but the one scheduled for yesterday’s review is only half watched!

* Isn’t “skinned” a funny word? If you’ve got an airplane wing skeleton and a pile of aluminum sheets, it’s “skinned” when you put the skins on. If you’re Hannibal Lecter, on the other hand….

Sunday Sheet Metal

Having Rendered Unto,  the rest of the day will be spent in more secular pursuits, like a bit of lawn and garden maintenance, a bit of writing, an exercise nod to the old ticker, and — the fun bit — sheet metal.


It’s looking less like a skeleton, and more like a wing, eh?

You’re looking at the starboard wing underside, so outboard (the wing tip) is towards you, and inboard (the wing root) is in the left distance. The inboard and outboard wing panels are permanently riveted in place, and the center panel is held on by clecos (the little bronze pins are #30 clecos) and needs a touch of match/finish drilling and deburring before it gets permanently riveted in place. Then the whole thing gets turned over and the flaperon hinges are inserted, the  upper side is skinned, and the wingtip and wing light are installed.

Then we get to do it all over, plus the stall warning system, in the other wing. Then, finally, on to the fuselage center section, the parts of which are impatiently vibrating on shelves in the basement workshop.

Meanwhile, we can hang these wings from the ceiling — where the skeleton of this wing’s brother hangs now — until we take them from hangers to hangar for final assembly to the fuselage bits. Then there’s “nothing left to do,” except for the engine, landing gear, avionics, canopy, and overall final assembly, rigging, and inspection. Yeah, except for that. 

Now you see why airplane builders will tell you that they are “90% done, with 90% to go.” That’s about where we are.

The garden maintenance is much less interesting, we fear. We have two things to do, repair a zero-turn lawnmower (two projects: flat tire and reinstall and level mower deck) and a more general trimming, weeding and clean-up of the stone patios area. We spent an hour just trimming back the dead last-years-sticks from a couple of large hydrangeas. And then we were saved by a call from Plaintiff II that she and Kid were safe in their new home in suburban St. Louis.

Sometime today we’ll redouble our search for a new dag, too. That would put a perfect cap on the weekend.

Sunday Shipping-out

Today, Plaintiff II is shipping out for St Louis after her several-years-long attempt to move back in after a 20-year absence. She leaves with some regrets, apparently. Our only fear was (and is) that she will not go.

We’re looking forward to a reversion to the status quo ante around this place. And expect to be more productive even though “real’ work is occupying more of our time these days.


Sanative Sunday

It’s a day for healing-up from a busy week, for perhaps plugging some gaps left in yesterday’s blog, for a recliner and a poncho liner and a good book.

Perhaps some writing, perhaps some yard work, perhaps a bike ride along the Atlantic shore. Or perhaps “nothing to say, but it’s OK.”

We may be on a regular schedule or a holiday schedule tomorrow. It depends… among other things, on just how sanative this Sunday is.

Sunday Spray-n-Pray

The prayer was brief, if heartfelt.

The spraying involves wing skins and primer, and if it’s successful we can finally finish the jeezly wings and move on to the center section. Yesterday we washed and etched the skins… the collapsible gazebo thing we usually use to hang these parts from spent the winter in the garden shed with the slumbering lawn machinery, which seems to have been a bad idea, as rodents ate some holes in it and relieved themselves all over the rest.

Mouse ordure has a very distinctive smell. Perhaps you can wash it off, but one notices the Blogbrother’s family cat was unusually interested in Your Humble Blogger last night. Standing out in the weather for a few nights has had a salutary effect upon the gazebo. Next winter it’s going in the mausrein basement.

In any event, today we will either get the skins primed, or learn something.

At the Auction, we have won, so far, thee lots containing eleven pistols, including some rarities. We’re out $4k so far (roughly) and we really only want four of those pistols. We may reconsign the rest to RIA, or take delivery and offer them in a blog post here for a limited time, before putting them on GunBroker and sending them on to someone who will love them.

The heavier stuff is up today, starting at 0900, and we have about $8200 in further bids in place.  All of these are keepers, if we win them, so we’ll probably release a few other things from the collection to keep the accounts in balance.

Tally-ho! The Blogbrother is here. Time to go make airplane parts safe from corrosion.


Brother was on time. New sprayer worked well enough. By 0900 all the wing skins were corrosion-protected with Stewart Systems primer. Some look a little runny, some look perfect, hell with it, nobody will see them once the wing is closed, eh. Mission accomplished!

Now for the auction, which kicks off at 0900 Central… maybe we’re not going to watch that like a lobster kettle. We’ll just open it at the appointed time and see how things cooked up.