Category Archives: Administrivia

A Sunday with Nothing Clever to Say

That happens sometimes.

Yesterday’s Saturday Matinee was done but we botched getting the screenshots, so we may get it up today, and may get the TW3 done as well.

It’s sunny and might be one of the last bike-riding days in shorts. And there’s a traveling family member’s lonely cat to visit, and oh yeah, there’s a tax extension running out this week so all those ducks have to be in a row for the inevitable audit.

This week: more on fakes, a Civil War rifle you might not know, and the latest on the Rangerette thing.

Sunday Spirit

We always thought that Rio de Janeiro Christ the Redeemer statue was a gigantic slab of concrete. It turns out that its face is covered in tiles of mortared soapstone. (It was designed by a sculptor, but built by engineers). And every once in a while somebody’s got to go up there and maintain those tiles, along with the lightning rods that prevent God from doing what Muslim iconoclasts would to this one of the 7 wonders of the world. And this is what that looks like:

We don’t believe there’s any SF guy (or SEAL, Ranger, Marine, SAS, GSG-9, you name it) fellow who’s ever looked at Christ the Redeemer without thinking about how very cool it would be to climb, or rappel off.

Considering we’re descended from arboreal apes, there’s something terribly human about the way any of us can walk a 2-foot-wide path completely unthinkingly (indeed, while talking on the phone and sipping a drink), until that path is a hundred feet in the air.

If Christ the Redeemer was in, say, Reno instead of Rio, for one thing the view would blow, and for another, swarms of lawyers from the Atheist Criminal Lovers’ Union would be trying to tear it down. (Has a lawyer ever, in all recorded history, put something up? Or are they simply the termites of civilization?)

Or their goal would be, if not tear it down utterly, to put some saint of their religion, like Martin Luther King, or Chairman Mao (or both at once, as in the statue in DC) in His place. One suspects that the Brazilian atheists are typically laid-back in carioca style, unlike ours who have all the proselytizing and judgmental power of their forebears, Cotton Mather and Elmer Gantry.

Fun fact for Vietnam vets: there’s a similar sized, albeit differently designed, Christ the Redeemer statue in Vung Tau (formerly Cap St. Jacques), in the nominally atheistic land of Vietnam — an Australian base and R&R destination during the war.

Scablands Sunday

OK, we’re actually in one of the wealthiest zip codes in the glittery end of the Atlantic Coast, but we just discovered the word “scablands,” which so aptly describes the areas where much of a long military career was whiled away, and we could not resist using it. Sure, there are scablands inland of us, but we’re in kind of anti-scablands. But there is no foul in unleashing one’s inner child sometimes.

Especially when one’s outer adult is up against unpleasant circumstances. The basic issue here is that a very good pair of parents, a blessing we’re keenly aware is far from universal, are at the stage of life where every day seems to bring a new hardship, a new limitation, and perhaps worst of all, a new indignity.

Ezekiel Emanuel, one of those guys who comes out of nowhere (well, not nowhere so much as a small cluster of eight private institutions of learning in the Northeast, who promise their graduates a sort of droit du seigneur over the serfs1), seems to think that a certain age is old enough, especially for the proles, and they ought to just be prepared to check out, optimally before Age 75. (Emanuel’s ideas are subtle and complex, often expressed in parables or thought experiments containing dilemmas requiring a physician or the public to balance or rank antagonistic and competing kinds of “good”. His ideas have been exaggerated by both supporters and opponents).

Life is harder for some people than for others, and it’s harder in some stages of life. There is no equality in suffering, no direct equivalency in consequences. Personal decisions (smoking is the classic example) can have consequences so deferred as to be intangible, and some may dodge the bullet entirely, which may be why people keep playing this chump’s lottery. But there’s no escape for the emphysema sufferer, even if there are treatments and medical devices available today that were unimaginable 10 years ago. Yet, today’s elderly grew up in an era where a doctor might advise a person to take up smoking. Far from the vilified criminal-class marker of today, it was thought to be a milepost to adulthood and a badge of sophistication.

One wonders what modern thing, that we now know and love, will turn out to be such a Judas as a simple cigarette was to the generations before us.

For the elderly, everything is an enemy. Your own physiology is no exception. Your lungs may fail, your skin break out in knobbly cancers, your kidneys give out after a lifetime of high blood pressure. Senses dim and fog. The earth itself turns on you; gravity becomes a deadly enemy for brittle bones. These things may not happen in isolation: you may indeed experience all of them. Life becomes a dreary routine of doctor visits and dialysis; medications and side effects; pain and effort.

And yet… and yet. And yet, joy springs from the light of the sun, the call of a nocturnal frog on the lawn (loud enough to penetrate the most elderly ocular system), the laugh of a child, a turn of phrase in a book.

As long as joy lights up a person’s world, even if there is only one part joy to ten parts suffering, who are we to do aught but support that person? As long as the thready beat of life exists, our parents are not helpless.

They have us.

May God be merciful with them.



  1. True, they can’t take the jus primae noctis (which doesn’t seem to have actually existed as a law anywhere; it seems to be an ancient version of an urban legend, given new life by revolutionaries looking to damn old systems; but we digress). Instead they just screw you metaphorically, all day every day.

Road Trip Report

road-trip-signIt was an interesting road trip. Averaged ~38 mpg at 79 mph on cruise control. Stuck to the highway (mission, mission, mission) but got to see some interesting people — and guns — along the way.

Got to visit an old friend, whose happy family lives in nondescript midatlantic surburbia, in a small Cape above a basement with more gun safes than some of our readers have guns. 

Finally got to meet cartoonist Chris Muir (his strip is at face to face. Chris is an entertaining guy in person, as you might expect. Unlike many entertainers (except perhaps editorial cartoonists, which he once was) he does not bank strips in advance; he hits it fresh every day to keep it topical. Like us, he’s become more politicized over the last few years, and doesn’t like that feeling much.

Both friends had reason for pessimism about the nation and the world. We gave each, and now we give you, our Internet friends, the following Exercise for the Reader which may recover some of your innate optimism. Remember that optimism and pessimism is as good a division of humans, better perhaps, than liberal vs. conservative, right-brained vs. left-brained, or even really serious ones like Yankees vs. Red Sox (wait, isn’t that BOS vs NYC: “liberals vs. liberals”?)

Didn’t fall asleep in the car, except when it was safely parked, so people can use the car again. All LEO encounters were highly positive. The weather was beastly — lots of rain. It’s nice in FL.

Obligatory Gun Content

I got a good look and a little paws on, on a rare HK sporting rifle, an HK SLB 2000 in .30-06. The SLB stands for Selbstladebüchse, “self-loading rifle,” using the word for “rifle” that generally carries the connotation of “sporting rifle.” (In German, “Buchse” is for shooting Bambi, and “Gewehr” is for shooting Frenchmen or Russians). Some time we hope to go over it in more detail, because it’s like nothing the company ever built — or anyone else, for that matter. It was a rare gun that we had no idea of. How many others like that are there?

Back to the rambling…

Not everything is going so swimmingly. Tax extension is running out, no more procrastination, let’s get it in so we can get our due audit.

Naturally, plowing through a rainstorm in Virginia, the phone rings. Herself has somehow slain the wi-fi at home. Can a weapons man fix it by telephonic advice?

Hey, it’s a radio, we’re only crosstrained in commo, and all radios are FM. Can’t knock sense into it by brainwave. You were expecting Uri Geller?

This is three for three on WiFi ghosting when the laird of the Manor was over the horizon on a trip. Couldn’t fix it from those places, either.

Posting may be desultory for a while. We will try to make it not so, but…

Setting in Sunday

What’s setting in?

  • Fall is setting in, and winter is in the air at Hog Manor. The blogparents are departed to their three-season digs in Florida, after a summer that would have been perfect, considering, if it hadn’t been for that broken hip and pelvis. Aging is tough.
  • The school season is setting in. Kid has runner’s knee and he is unhappily warming the bench at x-c meets. (Usually, in this sport, everybody can run). This is a Teachable Moment (“Make yourself useful to the coach and manager”).
  • Various end of year activities need to be cued up so they can execute on command in just three short months. Tax documentation. Security paperwork. A call to NFA branch, “where is….”  That long, huh?
  • Dissatisfaction with the summer PT program, which went out the window even before the folks had their bolance ride, is more than just setting in. On the plus side, the fix-a-flat they stuffed into the ailing ticker last year appears to be working, so far.
  • The need for fall planning is setting in. When does the lawnmower get stored on trickle charge; when to shut down the fountain, which delights us with hummingbirds in the summer. Will the contractors get the last couple tasks done on the exterior this year? What sort of gun building will make the long nights entertaining.
  • Election year is setting in. This is an off election, so it’s probably no worse for us than for all of you. Presidential elections are different, and they start getting bad two years out. Most of the people we know here in NH have given up their landlines because of the surveys and robocalls that come with the nation’s first primary. A relative who bitterly clings to the landline is already getting one call a day, usually at dinnertime, usually some drone who wants you to take a 20- or 30-minute survey for a pollster. So next time you see a poll, remember that they only got the people with landlines, who don’t mind having their dinner rudely interrupted, and have literally nothing better to do that listen to a poll for half an hour.

That list probably sounds curmudgeonly, and things aren’t all that bad.

There are benefits to seeing the folks go, after all. Dinner is no longer at 5:30 (5 if they think they can get away with it). But it’s all bittersweet; one of these good-byes will be the last, and either you will all know it’s the last one, something that’s unpleasant to contemplate, or you won’t, something that’s even worse to contemplate.

Perhaps we’ll contemplate gun building instead.

Road Trip this week, exact days uncertain, along damn near the full length of I-95. Posting may be enfeebled as a result.

Sleepy, Seasonable Sunday

It’s Sunday and all we want to do is crawl back under the covers. It’s sunny and seasonably cool here so maybe a sweatshirt is in order if we’re going to take a bike ride along the beach. No one will be in the water this weekend, except the hardiest of the wetsuited surfers.

Funny thing. Surfers do it, and they sometimes overdo it when the waves are really running. But they never, really never, seem to get so hypothermic they need help. Nobody can recall a callout for a cyanotic, nonresponsive surfer.

What!?! Responsible surfers with good judgment? Who ever heard of such a thing?

But apparently there are such things. In any event, they enjoy their sport with no interference, one hopes, from the rest of us. And most of the time, we can do the same. A free country is a good thing.

We will post last week’s TW3 wrap-up sometime today. (Update: It’s up now). And don’t miss last night’s Saturday Matinee. Other than that, we’re in our usual Sunday mode: Peace, out!

That Was the Week that Was: 2014 Week 37

That was the week that was TW3It’s been so long since we’ve done a TW3, we’re not sure we have the ordinal week right.

But we’re too lazy to check. How ’bout that?

We don’t guarantee that the links will be live when the post goes live, and until they are, you’ll have to scroll back to see the posts — the usual is four posts a day except Sunday, which we deviated from a hair this week.

We conduct these weekly post-mortems, time permitting, to keep track of our own performance on the blog, but we hope they’re useful to you. Especially, take a look at the list of articles — you may have missed something that interests you. All past TW3s can be found in the Administrivia category. Enjoy!

The Boring Statistics

With over 70% of the year behind us, we have posted about 950 posts, and we’ve been fairly consistent. This week was an average one, statistically speaking; article count was 27; last  week’s was 22.  Word count was an average-ish 19,000 words, up from 14,000. Seven posts  were over 1,000 words, but none of them over 2,000. (Even 1,000 words is a lot to ask a reader on the web). The mean and median post sizes were 704 and 594, compared to last week’s 756 and 609. (In other words, the difference is nought by noise). The closer those two measures of central tendency are, the more consistent our post sizes are. There was only one sub-100-word post, but 12 total sub-500-word posts. (We’re trying to write more briefly). We exceeded our self-imposed minimum of 19 posts.

Our hit counter, the Rich Counter plugin, failed three weeks ago. Since then, the author has issued a new version (for the first time in years) but it still does not work, and he does not respond to email or web contact, so we’re reluctantly going to have to  declare him dead. We’ll probably have to pick out a new, preferably still supported, plug-in.

So far this year we’ve had 928 blog posts, and over 5,600 comments.   Comments were 161 for the week as of press time, a little lower than we’ve been running in recent weeks. Thanks for commenting!

Most Commented Post of the Week

Our most commented post was When Defense Cuts Go Too Far with 28; Kiddie Diddler Released on Technicality drew 21. Of course, a lot of you were still talking about last week’s Scruff Face post, mostly fervidly defending his 9/11 trutherism.


I’d like to thank our top referrers, again, but without stats we can’t do it. Sad puppy face.

The Week in Posts

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

We hope you enjoyed this week’s content. We enjoyed bringing it to you!

Here’s how we did on last week’s promises:

The overdue and the underdelivered:

  1. X A major post on Gerald Bull’s awesome space-capable artillery that seems to have entrenched itself on the back burner. (We actually did work on this a little this past week).
  2.  To post 3 x day x 6 days. Exceeded.
  3. One gun-tech or -industry post and one SOF/UW post per day x 6 days. Depending on how one classifies posts, we did this. We had some good industry posts and broke gun news (amd were the first SOF source to pick up the Rangerette news).
  4.  To post a   X WWWW, a √ TW3, and a √ Saturday Matinee, before COB Saturday. Everything but the Matinee.
  5. One back Saturday Matinee. No, sorry ’bout that.
  6. Our never-finished series on the Greek Civil Wars.

This is pretty much going to be a standing set of promises until we have a reason to improve them.

For Next Week

Our goals are unchanged:

  1. to catch up the long-festering back posts mentioned above, now back up to just two features (Gerald Bull, and the Greek Insurgencies). We also have some other stuff that has sat way too long in the draft queue.
  2. to post three times a day, six days a week, of which:
  3. one gun-tech or -industry post and one SOF, UW, or war-related post up daily.
  4. a WWWW, on Wednesday.
  5. a Saturday Matinee, and a TW3 before the week ends at midnight Saturday.

The draft queue is in the 260s… we’d beat it down to around 250 from its peak of 270-something, but there are always new half-written stories dropping in here. See you with a TW3 on Saturday, if all goes well!

Simmering Sunday

Here along the Seacoast, summer is a flash that comes between the home and yard repair season of May and June and the Deal With the Leaves season of October and November. (At least last year, November-April inclusive were the Shoveling Season). The first couple of weeks of September are the last flowering of our short summer.

We enjoy them.

Apologies for Yesterday

There are days when we get a lot done. And there are days when a lot goes up on the blog. They’re not necessarily the same days. Back at it this morning, but things may be slow for a while. The analogue world has requested the pleasure of our company.

Labor Day Weekend Sunday

This weekend, Sunday falls in the interstices between days off, rather than provides a brief Sabbath rest before we have to start paying attention to the countdown to the launch of the work week.

We have a visit to rehabilitation hospital on the schedule today. That will be a daily routine for a while, actually.

We have a to-do list with a hundred-something items on it, titled, in homage to Churchill, Action This Day. Of course, some of “this day’s” action items have a good bit of seniority on this list, damn their eyes.

And, we need to address the problem we had with the range yesterday. Kid wants to fire the Artillery Luger. We want to troubleshoot the same Luger, which hasn’t been cycling reliably all of a sudden. This is where a high-speed camera would come in handy, but we haven’t got one.

We also got some .30-06 and 7.62 NATO ammo for sighting in some rifles. The Black Hills 7.62 Match is probably overkill for the 1960-vintage AR-10, and at $2-plus per round, it was expensive. But it will be interesting to see if it shoots any better than the common stuff.

Of course, that requires us to get the current combination to the range lock. On a Sunday. In a holiday weekend. In a resort area that’s swarming with enough tourists to make driving unpleasant.

Could be worse. It could be raining.