Category Archives: Administrivia

Sunday Shoveling, or is it Sniveling

snowflake 2Again. We got another 14″ or so of Global Warming dropped on our heads last night. Mind you, it could be worse: the Manor’s roof holds up fine, the plowman cleared the roads and the driveway, the cars and other ‘sheenry stand clean, warm and dry in garage and shed, the ‘lectricity still comes on in the wires, the water pipes have not burst, we’re toasty and warm inside. (We do regret reconfiguring the fireplace as Ye Doglet Bed, but that’s a sunk cost now, as the wood pile is somewhere under the permafrost). Life in the First World is still a fine thing.

Meanwhile, we see that the weekend before a holiday week is the best time for Feds to make a power grab, and the Feds are not disappointing us The ATF has moved to ban standard AR-15 ammo (M855 Green Tip and its lead-free “green” successors), which we may have an unprecedented second Sunday post on; and the FAA is making some kind of a move to ban drones. Like we noted, they pick a weekend to do this, and one with a snowstorm paralyzing the Northeastern media, not that media  brownnosers would ever develop any curiosity about any initiative by their own pet administration.

Apology for Delayed Post

We were hoping to begin today, as we were hoping to begin Monday, with our concluding post on the early development of antitank guided missiles (ATGMs). This one deals with missiles in the Yom Kippur, or October, or Ramadan War (there are many names for the war, depending on where you are when you take sight of it). After this war, the value of missiles was not in any doubt at all, and all arms-developing nations went all-in for them, while arms-using nations sought them to the extent that they faced combined-arms or armor threats.

The post is taking a while to come together, in part because it’s been a blast finding new sources about an old war. One that has quickly become a favorite is Eilam’s Arc: How Israel Became a Military Technology Powerhouse by Israeli former paratrooper turned defense executive Uzi Eilam. It’s kind of a specialized book and so is long out of print; we paid $35 for a used copy. (NB. When buying out-of-print books from Amazon sellers, watch the feedback ratings. The outfit with the lowest price had a feedback rating of 88% — anything that low suggests a problem seller).

To give you some meat to tide you over, here’s what you get when you search for Sagger  — the NATO reporting code for the principal Soviet ATGM used in 1973, although some poor bastards went to war with AT-1 Snappers, to the regret of their widows — on DTIC. There’s some good stuff here, including AARs and declassified information, and that should help explain what’s taking so long:

Heh. See you in a while.

In a completely unrelated matter, anybody who knows why the SAC was walked out in New York yesterday, drop us a line, willya?

Sunday Slippage

shoveling-snow-safelyAs happens all too often, the end of Saturday’s posts have slipped into today. Sometime today we hope to post three incomplete Saturday posts, including the matinee (a fun science-fiction flick with a mix of plausible technology and impossible physics), and the TW3.

So what else are we doing Sunday?

The answer should include “church,” but Plaintiff II is shoveling the church, and the Laird of the Manor is slumming as a groundskeeper these days. How come? The National Weather Service sends us this:

…Winter Storm Warning remains in effect until midnight EST
Monday night…
* hazard types…snow.
* Accumulations…snow accumulation of 10 to 15 inches.
* Timing…light snow will continue without much break through
Monday evening. The heaviest snow is expected Sunday night into
Monday when 6 to 10 inches are expected.
* Impacts…roads will become snow covered and slippery. The
additional snow will continue to add weight to any heavily snow
covered roofs.
* Winds…northeast 10 to 15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph.
* Temperatures…15 to 25 above.

And it rolls on from there. Here’s a few clues from the 5-day forecast, which is much like the 5-day “backcast.”

Sunday 02/08 day: 100% probability 1-3 in snow

Sunday 02/08 night: 100% probability 3-5 in snow

Monday 02/09 day: 100% probability 3-5 in snow

Monday 02/09 night: 90% probability 1-3 in snow

90%! We have a 10% chance of getting lucky.

Tuesday and Wednesday, probably no snow.


Thursday — we get nailed again.

Um, noot?

It is, of course, snowing at this moment.

But the Times Said it Wouldn’t….

For your reading amusement, here is the New York Times’s Porter Fox bemoaning, one year ago, “The End of Snow.”

Europe has lost half of its Alpine glacial ice since the 1850s, and if climate change is not reined in, two-thirds of European ski resorts will be likely to close by 2100.

The same could happen in the United States, where in the Northeast, more than half of the 103 ski resorts may no longer be viable in 30 years because of warmer winters. As far for the Western part of the country, it will lose an estimated 25 to 100 percent of its snowpack by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are not curtailed — reducing the snowpack in Park City, Utah, to zero and relegating skiing to the top quarter of Ajax Mountain in Aspen.

The bare slope he illustrates the article with is, to our surprise, a mountain we skied in 10th Group days. (It was near the inter-German border, and there was a signals intelligence site at the top that was an occasional exercise target. You know you were in SF when you skied up a ski slope in the wee hours of the morning, when all the skiers were mating in the downslope chalets). But even in the 1980s, when the same climate models by the same Chicken Little PhDs had us headed to an ice age,  the hill struggled to keep the slopes open some years. Memo to Fox: there are both variability and secular trends in climate that predated human activity. Or did the ice ages end when Prometheus brought fire down the mountain?

And what could be more New York Times, the paper written by wealthy, pushy Manhattanites for other wealthy, pushy Manhattanites and their wannabes, than this:

Poets write of the grace and beauty by which snowflakes descend and transform a landscape.

You don’t say.

Powder hounds follow the 100-odd storms that track across the United States every winter, then drive for hours to float down a mountainside in the waist-deep “cold smoke” that the storms leave behind.

How does one do this? Oh, wait, it’s the Times. One taps the trust fund. Silly us.

Obviously, if the routine vicissitudes of changing weather patterns threatens a trustie’s preferred recreational activities, the (paugh!) working class must be taxed to their skivvies so that The Professionals can manage snow back into existence with inside-Beltway spending.

[I]t led people to ask me, “Why save skiing when there are more pressing consequences of climate change to worry about?” The answer is, this is not about skiing. It is about snow, a vital component of earth’s climate system and water cycle. When it disappears, what follows is a dangerous chain reaction of catastrophes like forest fires, drought, mountain pine beetle infestation, degraded river habitat, loss of hydroelectric power, dried-up aquifers and shifting weather patterns.

Mr Fox says it’s not about skiing, but his article notes that he moved and selected his career to maximize his powder skiing, and the capsule bio at the base of the article notes that he is the author of a book called Deep: The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow. Oh, and that career? “Porter Fox is the features editor at Powder magazine.”

We got your powder, knucklehead.

Superbowl Sunday

With much trepidation, your humble blog will attend Blogbrother’s Superbowl party. Why trepidation? Football moves us not, although we plan to enjoy the ads. But Sister-in-Law is a dyed-in-the-wool Patriots fan, to the point where a Pats defeat today will have us put her on something like suicide watch.

Me, I don’t care who wins, blasphemous as it may be for someone who grew up when there were only three TV station on our rabbit ears and all of them followed Boston sports. But I’m looking forward hopefully to the ads.

The First Month of 2015

One thing we’ve learned about the blog’s stats is: we’re going to break 2 million hits and even 2 million unique visitors in this year, unless we screw up or croak or something. We’re humbled by your continued patronage, and want to continue to deliver a quality reading and entertainment experience to you!

Fitness… or Lack Thereof

Months of idleness and mostly-idleness have left your WeaponsMan as rotund as a muzzleloading cannonball, and about as ready for the modern battlefield. And our most beloved  exercise machine (an Expresso bike, highly recommended) has just kicked the bucket again. So We’re about a month late

This Week’s Gun Stuff

It’s been too long since a range trip, so we have to get the problem with the range membership (where we’ve paid for it, but don’t have the current codes) squared away. We haven’t fired the M4 SBR or the Can Cannon at all.

We also have to round up and inventory our ammo and mags. Seems like an overdue thing, but the bullets are scattered hither and yon around the house, workshop, garage, outbuildings, Lord knows where. (More than one house guest has come out of a guest room with a raised eyebrow and a missing HK 416 or AR-10 mag that was in an out of the way corner).

Rong Bros. Aeroplane Factory

We have made some progress on the RV-12, which is to say we’ve sorted out how to finish-drill parts. We’ve found a Scotchbrite wheel to be the cat’s pajamas for deburring parts. We’re not so sure about deburring the insides of holes. Gotta work on that. We don’t want stress risers in critical bits like rudder hinges, which we’re assembling now.

We had a small problem with the bearings not fitting into the brackets that hold them. How do you address that? Leave the bearings in the freezer till they cold-soak and shrink a tad, and then whack ‘em in with a rubber-faced mallet. Worked for us. If freezing the bearings alone hadn’t done it, we’d probably have heated the bracket before we changed the size of the factory hole.

Aluminum is wonderful stuff to work with, especially the 2024 that makes up most of the airplane structure. Easy to cut, drill, rivet, etc. It’s very prone to corrosion, compared to elemental aluminum, so it has a layer of pure aluminum laid on at the factory (this is called by the trade name turned generic, “Alclad”). Still our parts will be primed before final assembly. It’s too cold right now to prime, and the paint’s too noxious to use indoors, so we’re just preparing parts and test-fitting them with Clecos, small, barrel-shaped temporary connectors that hold parts ‘tl they can be permanently riveted.

That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 05

That was the week that was TW3We’re now three for five on TW3s for 2015. We’ve been a little late posting them.

It’s hard to get real excited about these. The one thing we do like about them, however, is that they give posts from earlier in the week a second chance to be seen.

Generally, the life of a blog post is nasty, brutish, solitary and short, so if anything can give one of these posts legs, we’re all in favor.

The Boring Statistics

This week saw a decline in posts compared to last. We posted only 21 posts and 17,000 words, down from 27 posts and about 20,000 words. Comments have been 212 so far; it’s a mere number but we seem to think that if we break 200 comments, we have a community going. A conceit, perhaps, of ours. Mean and median post length were 784 and 800, compared to last week’s 730 and 655 respectively. As we noted last week, the mean close to the median suggests only that the posts were fairly balanced in lengths — long posts had offsetting short ones, and vice versa. We have, at least temporarily, stopped tracking tail-of-the-distribution (very long and very short) posts as we did last year… we didn’t get enough knowledge for the effort.


We have had 212 comments as of press time, up from last week’s 193 (which doesn’t seem to match what we said we had last week. Er, data collection). The most commented post was the criticism of Jesse James’s vaporware laws-of-thermodynamics-violatin’ suppressor, You Can Tell He’s Lyin’, ‘Cause His Lips Are Movin’ with 22.

The Week in Posts

Here’s the recap of our posts for this week The links may not be live till later, maybe even tomorrow:

About that Airplane…

We’ve spent a few more hours match-drilling and finish-drilling parts, test-cleco’ing assemblies together, and reorganizing things in the workshop. For example, we had bench tools sitting on stands because the stands’ bolt holes didn’t match the grinders’ and sanders’ holes. With a plate of MDF and carriage bolts, the stuff’s all bolted solidly in place, and all the finishing machines (bench grinder with grinding and Scotchbrite wheels, tool grinder with fine grinding and polishing wheels, and disc/belt sander) on a single master power switch so that their own on/off switches are not hot unless we’re planning to use one or more of them. The Scotchbrite wheel is a thing of beauty where we have rough-cut edges needing sharp edges, little nibs, and stress risers removed.

The coolest thing has been involving the kids in the project. Blogbrother’s kids are meh on gun building, so this is their first time working with metal. Kid, of course, finds it as cool as AR building (and when are we going to do an AK?, he wants to know).

Going Forward

No promises, just gun fun with the guys and gals. Sound good? Be there!

Snowbound Sunday

Well. we’ve missed all the others, and this time the shoe’s on the other foot. A few miles to the south, the People’s Republic got a relative dusting, but we got schmacked.

It was worth it just to see Little Dog in snow up to his shaggy eyebrows and ears.

We’re at a transitory holdup on the airplane project as we’re waiting on tools (needed number drills, had fractions and metric, except for the two or three number drills one needs for ARs — #3, #40, #42). Numbered drills are used to get the proper amount of clearance under ASME and ASTM standards, where the next 64th or 32nd of an inch would be too small or too large. In the metric world, such clearance requirements can necessitate an odd sized drill bit, which can take some finding.For example, the AR drills mentioned are used, in order, for: the pistol grip screw hole, (which is then tapped 1/4-28); the pivot pin & takedown pin detent holes; and the bolt release hinge-pin hole. The other AR holes can all be drilled with fractional drills, but you can finesse the pivot-pin and hinge-pin holes (which are called out at 0.25 ± .001) by cutting them slightly undersize with a Letter D or metric 6.26mm drill, and then ream to finish size.

We suspect a lot of shops just fudge the clearances!

Since we don’t know what surprises lurk in the next sections of the plans, we just ordered a set of standard gage sized, letter and number, drills (which takes us down to #60). MSC Direct will have the drills to us this week. (We also bought $400 worth of other tools that were on sale. Because tools, and MSC is great to deal with).

We’re kicking around ideas for a new logo for Something based on this:



That would seem to cover it. Vintage weapon, in depth, combat focus. But we’d get the name in there, somewhere, too. Our colors are a little dark, too.

Fun fact: while the M16A1 is a lot shorter than the Springfield M1795 Musket that has adorned the CIB (in more or less stylized version) since 1943, and the Infantry branch insignia since 1924, it’s a lot higher, vertically, making for completely different proportions. It was tough getting even this far. But then, we are not artistes around this place, except maybe with an M16A1 like in the picture.

That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 04

That was the week that was TW3We’re now two-four for on TW3s for 2015. OK, so this one is a day late (and, presumably, a dollar short; you can apply for your refund at refunds@dev/nul). Well, actually, it’s about 12 hours late; does that make it 50¢ short? But it’s here, and that’s something.

As commenters have noted, nobody really cares about these TW3s except us. They’re one way we keep track of what we’re doing here. And they have a benefit for you, the reader: you can use the story listings here to go back and see what you may have missed.

We’ve come up with an art solution to issues discussed previously in this space, but it may take a while. The name of the solution is engaging an artist. There are people who have a talent for this stuff, and who go to school for it. Why not reward them? And beautify the blog while we’re at it? (Before you ask, her replacement will still be clothed. This is a blog for the whole gun-happy family. Except for cousin Jabbar, the Islamic convert who wants her in a burkha — we’ll see him in Hell first).

The Boring Statistics

This week saw more info posted than last. We posted 27 posts, and a total of about 20,000 words, up from 25 and 17,000. If there were any milestones, we didn’t see them. Comments were moderate at 197 so far. Mean and median post length were 730 and 655, compared to last week’s 702 and 485 respectively. The mean close to the median suggests only that the posts were fairly balanced in lengths — long posts had offsetting short ones, and vice versa.


We have had 179 comments as of press time, up from last week’s 153 (these numbers aren’t fixed in concrete, as posts can accept comments for — we forget, 30 or 90 days? Something like that). The most commented post was, oddly enough, Sunday Spending with 22, probably because the airplane project tickles readers’ fancy, and we replied to a lot of the comments so half of them are probably ours.

The Week in Posts

Here’s the recap of our posts for this week The links may not be live till later, maybe even tomorrow:

Going Forward

We’re still having fun, sometimes with guns, sometimes with research, sometimes building non-gun stuff like the RV, and we hope you’re having fun with us.

Why there’s no gun tech post at 0600

So, we’ve mentioned the airplane project, right?

During manufacture, the aluminum sheets that form the skin and structure of an airplane (in aluminum monocoque construction, the skin is a stressed structural member), are coated with a protective film of thick blue adhesive plastic. (Mylar?)

Whatever it is, it keeps the skins fro getting scuffed and scratched, injuries to the aluminum alloy that can have structural consequences. In a factory, the plastic is peeled off before priming and assembly, and for a kit aircraft, you get to do it yourself.

We thought we’d leave the stuff on each part until we needed it, but the manufacturer warned us that the longer you left it in place, the stickier the adhesive on the blue plastic got. “Get it off of there right away!” So last night the Blogbrother and Your Humble Host climbed down into the workshop to peel the blue stuff off of the empennage and tailcone parts. It was nine or so, and we budgeted an hour.

At five minutes before midnight he was on his way to his home and hearth… and you were on your way to receiving this bad news about the 0600 post. Have one in the works, it’s just too technical to finish and still sleep tonight. Both of us have cuts and are sore and weary… that blue stuff is the devil’s own, and getting it off of thin sheet metal without pretzeling the metal is a mental and physical challenge.

Asses kicked: 2. Amount of actual assembly done: 0%.

Next task, when it’s warm enough to do it outside, prime the interior surfaces and structural parts of the skin. It will be sad to see the shiny, mirror-finished aluminum become dull greenish yellow, but it would be sadder to see it corrode in ten or twenty years on the Seacoast.

(Edited to add: We wrote this at 2355 last night, and then never scheduled it, so this post, which was merely meant as a space-holding apology for lack of an 0600 post, is going up closer to 0900. Sigh. –Ed.).

Happy Rodney King Day

Recycling a post from 2012, and a sentiment we have never failed to note on this auspicious day… Happy Rodney King Day.

Sure, some people celebrate another Civil Rights King this day. But his maybe-relative Rodney’s story resonates with us more, in part, perhaps, because one of the cops that helped make Rodney King famous was an SF guy. (Which one, we’re not saying. It was not our finest hour).

But the main reason is that, in the middle of 1992’s violent, destructive riots (55 dead and 2,000 injured), caused by people supposedly supporting him, Mr King went on the radio and television with this sentiment, the one that underlies any workable approach to civil rights, and that bespeaks tolerance and respect for your fellow man.

“Can’t we all just get along?”

Rodney King has had more traffic-law problems since then, but he has reportedly married Juror Number Five from his civil trial, and has publicly forgiven the policemen who beat him — most of whom went to prison.

So on this Federal holiday, take a moment to consider Rodney King’s message of peace and hope, and any other civil rights pioneer named King that may occur to you. Can’t we all just get along?

(Mr King passed away just six months after we first penned this tribute to him, due to complications of swimming with coronary disease while on alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and PCP — all at once. He was survived by his fiancée Cynthia Kelly, former Juror Nº 5 — our report that they had married in 2012 was an error. King had a troubled life and was not a man for half-measures in anything, but we prefer to remember him for his impassioned 1992 plea that is an inspiration to us all: “Can’t we all just get along?” Rest in peace, big guy. You are not forgotten).

Sunday Spending

Today, we’re treating a group of five to a chance to participate in a Box Office wave: let’s set some records for Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, and, not least, Chris and Taya Kyle.

Cost of tickets for five at the IMAX central to our locations: $82.50. No wonder box office records are higher each year, so are the ticket prices. Still, we are expecting to get value for our money. The reviews are generally positive (true, The New Republic’s assclown’s review was bitterly negative, but it turns out he reviewed it without seeing it. #Journalism). But what’s really driving attendance is word of mouth and stratospheric Cinemascores (audience ratings).

Even if the movie stank, seeing it with old friends and a couple of impressionable teen boys would be a blast anyway. But we’re expecting it not to stink.

Before that, we have the usual Sunday things, and one unusual one — peeling more blue plastic off sheet aluminum airplane parts. (If you leave the protective plastic on, the adhesive sets up hard in a couple of weeks, other builders have warned us).

This is what we’re building: Van’s RV-12. It’s an excellent, simple small plane (although “simple” is definitely relative when you’re lofting a forty-pound box of rivets, every one of which one of you will have to install before this thing flies). For those lacking the DIY gene, or perhaps the patience, to build, the factory will put one together for you, for a reasonable price (again, this is relative).

Right now, it doesn’t look like much. We’ve only got the tail kit in the shop (from which, we will build the rudder, vertical stabilizer, stabilator, and the tailcone of the fuselage from behind the cabin), and it looks like a lot of sheet metal parts that need a bunch of deburring, drilling, countersinking, not to mention priming, before being clecoed together as test assemblies, and then finally riveted.

Embarrassing true story. The Blogbrother has never riveted Thing One in his life. So we demonstrated how to rivet two washers together with an Avex pull rivet (aka pop rivet). POP!

And all the parts went in different directions. We’d absently picked up a rivet where the shop head wound up smaller than the ID of the washers we were demonstrating with… ¡estupido! Our reputation for Papal-echelon infallibility in matters aeronautical just took a hit.