Category Archives: Administrivia

That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 35

That was the week that was TW3This week was a busy one, with two of our Saturday posts (Matinee and this TW3) being posted late, and last week’s overdue Saturday posts never getting done at all.

Sigh. Sometimes you have weeks like that.

But we also published some good stuff, and we worked on some good stuff which isn’t published yet, it part because it was more work than we expected. (Funny how that happens).

what we’re thinking around here.

The Boring Statistics

This week was a slightly above average week. We posted 28 posts with a disappointing 269 comments by press time for this post, and a total of over 22,000 words. If we hit any statistical milestones, we didn’t notice them. .

Comments This Week

As mentioned, our comment count was down (many recent weeks have broken 300, and some even 400 comments. Not last week or this one). But we did get some comments of notable quality, and to our delight, the most commented thread was a technical thread on the 1968 vintage Quiet Special Purpose Revolver.

The Week in Posts

Here’s the recap of our posts for this week (note: we’ll come through and blurb and link each of these sometime Sunday night or Monday morning (stricken as done)– apologies for the delay, but analog life takes precedence right now):

Going Forward

We have another incident of a questionable police shooting — but is this one really questionable? The cop lightly wounded the suspect, enablling his apprehension, but killed a citizen in the background as he sprayed out-of-control rounds in random directions.

And we should be able to finish our piece on the so-called “Spetsnaz” ballistic knife, whose origins are lost in the shadows of urban (or prison) legend, but which actually came to be made — and banned — as the legend spread in 1983-84.

We have two guest reports on historic sites in St Augustine, FL, from Our Traveling Reporter who is traveling (what else?) in that region of the country, and they’re stuck in the queue for editing.

Sunday Sticker Shock

Rainsplash Drop from

We’re finally getting some rain around here after a dry summer. We blame Global Warming. For both the rain and the dry, naturally, because Global Warming is behind everything, especially politicians who become billionaires selling indulgences carbon credits (sorry, got our religions crossed there for a minute).

In any event, this Sunday finds us nursing some sticker shock, or just general number shock. Like anyone who’s in the stock market, we got shelled rather badly at the end of last week (although we were just talking to a fellow who lost three-quarters of a million Friday, so we’re not as bad off as all that. Nothing like another man’s anguish to give one perspective). Most of what we “lost,” of course, was unrealized gains, so it is a paper loss against a paper gain — we’re still better off than we were before. So far.

There are many approaches to investing. We invest for long term growth and income; we don’t try to time the market. That way lies the abyss. We’d rather leave money on the table than see the table yanked out from under our elbows because we got greedy. For excitement, we make small investments in start-ups and give them advice, if they’ll take it. These investments usually go poof, as most start-ups do, and yet they were all good ideas with able people behind them. We suppose you could call it an entertainment expense, although in the poof moment it is not entertaining to contemplate what the meaning of the poof is in dollars. (We nearly wrote “dollars and cents,” but does anyone figure cents any more?). It’s nice when a start-up takes off and you get a wild multiplier for your early money. But for real money, we try to pick something that is going up, and/or something that pays a nice dividend.

The other aspect of sticker shock came when we needed to replace some windows in the Manor. Turns out the maker of the current (installed 1992) windows, Rivco, has gone to that great warehouse in the sky, and while the windows still are all in good condition — something the window guys all say is uncanny with this brand — we have a lot of shade and what tends to be a wet location, and many of the sills are undergoing wood rot. We already dealt with this on the trim (by writing a large check for a contractor to rip off the old stuff and install ha-rot-this-mother-nature Azek), and thought we could just replace the sills, but the contractors said no, gotta do the windows.

So we did the get-quotes thing and got several bids: the $399 any-window guys who are on the radio nonstop, a local installer of Marvin windows, and Renewal by Anderson. The $399 guy was more like a $1499 each window “deal,” when all the extras were toted up, the Marvin guy ran away screaming after one look at Hog Manor (well, maybe not screaming, but our interview was short indeed), and the Anderson guy was half-again the staggering cost of the cheap windows. All of them had some technical limit to what they could do with the windows, too. We loved the Anderson windows — they were definitely better. We collapsed into a catatonic state, at least with respect to windows. Then last week the Blogfather called, and a guy at his golf club had some windows done and was pleased with the entire project. After listening to Dave rave, we called these guys and their quote came in at less than half of the $399 guys and therefore, well under a third of what the Anderson windows would be.  The window? It’s not exactly the same as the $399 guy’s vinyl window, but it’s pretty close; maybe better. As near as we can tell, the price difference is all those jeezly radio ads.

The other shocking thing is just how many windows we had, and that no two vendors counted them the same way. From 30 to 40 windows!

We use a ton of oil here in the winter, and the new windows will help ease the sticker shock with that, but they certainly won’t pay for themselves. So we sign with the guy Dave and the Blogfather found at 0930 Monday. And well, we justify the cost of the windows because, all in, it’s less than the bath that we took Friday.

Apologies for no Matinee or TW3 yesterday. Family weekend; we may catch up or we may not.

We’s just been sitting here for a bit, queueing up some good blog posts for this week, listening to music that charted in 1964 for a project we’re working on in fits and starts. Yeah, we’re going to listen to all 714 songs that made the Billboard pop charts that year (not counting Christmas songs, and yeah, it’s going to take about a week).  A brilliant fellow named Joel Whitburn has compiled all these charts and they’re a great boon to students of any era’s music — and doesn’t the music shape the era?

At the bottom end of the chart it seems to include dreadful stuff the Mob paid (or threatened) somebody to put on the charts, at the top end it’s all early Beatles, and in between it’s a mulligatawny of British Invasion, old-time crooners, crossovers from the R&B and country charts, and novelty songs. Musically speaking, the year was an inflection point.

Sunday Spray-Date

We’ve got a spray date with what looks like an acre of sheet metal this afternoon. It’s really just the parts for the fuselage tail cone of the RV-12 (this is the part from behind where the crew sits to the tail stinger of the airplane. We’ve already completed most of the fins that attach to this, except the rudder, which has driven us nuts with bent rivets. We’re starting to suspect the rivets should be -3.5 or -4, not -5 parts, and the excess length is why our rivets are bending. As recounted before, we’re priming all the internals in the interests of corrosion resistance. Here at stately Hog Manor, you can smell the sea when there’s an onshore breeze, and our planned test and basing airports are just as close to the Atlantic.

We’ve also got to finish machining a tailskid bracket first. It was primed before machining so now it has a lot of exposed alloy. It’s an unusual part for an aircraft because it’s originally an extrusion; it’s the only one we’ve run into on this project so far. Most aluminum extrusions are made of low-strength alloy and are used in low-strength applications, like window screens or beach chairs. But there’s no reason you can’t use extrusions for higher-strength parts with a careful alloy selection. A lot of picatinny rails and rail forearms for various firearms begin life as raw extrusions. (In the case of the picatinny rail, the slots are then machined and the slot indicators may be machined, etched or lasered on).

It seems likely that extrusions could be used for more firearms parts, with a little creativity on the part of engineers. The big advantage of an extrusion is that the dies are dirt cheap, compared to typical tooling costs. It’s not unusual for an extrusion die to come in at only a few hundred dollars, even if you have to send the entire job out.

Come to think of it, we have a slightly botched attempt at Rudder Spar #3 (there’s only one rudder spar; this is our third shot at it) to correct, and we’ll throw that into the spray queue, too.

It’s been our bad luck that storms this week nuked the small canopy we’ve been using as an outdoor spray booth. So we’ll have some kind of partial framework to suspend the parts from.

Look for some good content this week, including a couple posts on 3D printing gun parts and an update on the Afghan Combat Carbine Clone we’ve worked on in the past.

That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 33

That was the week that was TW3It’s been another busy week and for the first time in a long time, we were actually a couple days ahead for most of the week. We still managed to get the usual posting done, but after a road trip Wednesday, our lead began dwindling until Saturday we actually came up a post short — this one, which is being backdated into place.

Hey, the digital domain is cool and all, but real work gets done in the analog.

The Boring Statistics

This week was an above-average week in production terms. We posted 28 posts instead of the standard 27, with post sizes all over the place, from under 200 to over 2,000 words. We received some 284 comments by press time for this post, which is less than usual these days, and a total of about 20,000 words, which is more than usual. We did pass two significant milestones this week: our last post on 10 August 2015 was our 800th post this year; the next day, our second post of the day was our 4,000th since launching this blog. We do it because it’s gratifying to do, partly for its own sake and partly because you guys make it worthwhile. Have a drink on us and we’ll owe you, for now.

The Week in Posts

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

Going Forward

We’re going to try to load up some posts tonight so that we have some time for real work during the work week for a change, again, this week. We’ve got some good content including the next round of SOPMOD I clone work on our Afghan War recreation, and we have at least three posts related to 3D printing — one, miserably, legal, and two (that are likely to please you more) technical, including a new technique for going from 3D Printed sample to short-run series production, with better-than-printed quality.

Subday Submergence

Lately we’ve been taking a deep dive into submarine warfare, both historic and more recent. As ever in war, there are fascinating stories of weapons and of men, some of which have seen print (well, seen pixel) this week and some which are yet to come.

We come by the interest for multiple reasons. In the first place, there is a former submarine manufacturing shipyard that still maintains and (mostly) defuels and demilitarizes our current boats not very far away. It has a small museum on base which never seems to be open, and there is a larger museum off base, right near downtown in the The Big City (Portsmouth NH, population 28k) that has something you don’t see every day — a submarine on dry land, the former unarmed research vessel USS Albacore AGSS-569. The sub is a museum that lets people have considerable more hands-on access than they usually would; things that might hurt you, like watertight doors, are secured in place, and things  that you might harm are protected behind Plexiglas shields. Other than that, the boat is yours, and strategically placed speakers tell you what you’re looking at, if you push a red button and summon up the voice of a former crew member.

The vessel tried out numerous technological brainstorms, some of which are standard on subs today, and others of which were dead ends.

Along with the sub museum, there’s a museum building and it has a gift and bookstore (of course), and in books bought there we’ve learned a lot we didn’t know about sub-launched special operations. Some of that, we’ll be sharing, going forward.

As always, we’ll see you all tomorrow with a gun-related post at 0600 Eastern Daylight Savings Time!

That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 32

That was the week that was TW3As another week draws to a close, the sun sets in the West —

– Wait a minute. where the hell else would it set?

Look, let’s leave orbital mechanics out of it, shall we? I’m trying to tell a story here.

The sun sets in the West, and sportsmen gather to relive the day’s events over a cold beverage, and fresh-grilled meat.

– There you go again. Nobody eats, “meat.” Fresh-grilled what? It’s gotta be something, something specific. 

Maybe it’s mystery meat, like school lunch? Maybe — wait, dammit. We’re not going to have an argument with voices in our head — it’s unseemly. Instead, let’s move right along.

The Boring Statistics

This week was a pretty standard week. We posted the more-or-less standard 27 posts, and a total of about 17,000 words. We did pass one significant milestone this week: on the 18th, our 1,000th post went live. We expect to pass 2,000 before year’s end.

We have received 251 comments at press time, substantially less than last week’s 2015 record of 469.

An Accomplishment

It took us until Saturday this week, but we did get two overdue posts from last week posted, so you get two movie reviews instead of one this week, the regular one that posted a few hours ago, and a review of I Was a Communist for the FBI, from 1951, which was quietly posted noonish but backdated.

The other post is the TW3 for last week.

Comment of the Week

We’re grateful this week for two corrections from the very subjects of the posts, this one by Jim Schatz (what we took as a substantive error in his NDIA slides was a simple typo) and a more serious one on who has the burden of production and the burden of proof in a self-defense defense against criminal charges, from Andrew Branca.

We are grateful, of course, for all our readers and commenters, who add a great deal of substance to the site.

The Week in Posts

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

Going Forward

We actually don’t have a single post written (well, not completely) for this coming week, so it’s as much a mystery to us as it is to you. See you there!


People's Republic of MassachusettsJust decompressin’, or daycompressin’, here, recovering from a deep dive into the People’s Republic of Massachusetts yesterday. Two of them, actually; we slipped through the border on I-95 twice. We noted that they have long since taken down the Dukakis-era signs noting that possession of a firearm is treated more seriously than murder in MA courts, but they haven’t changed the legal environment.

That was one of the sub-texts of the first reason for risking our necks and liberty in a state that seems to break down into even thirds of trustafarian campus Marxists, government patronage hires, and heavy-browed oathbreaker cops. We attended a Law Of Self Defense Seminar put on by Andrew Branca. All we are going to say of this is: when Andrew or one of Andrew’s trained instructors (coming soon!) comes to your state or a nearby one, attend this. It’s an essential part of self-defense: knowing how to make sure you color within the lines of self-defense law in general and the law of your own and neighboring states in particular. Expect a full review of this seminar (with links to the schedule and sign-up pages) this week.

After that it was back home to an empty house — even Small Dog had joined the exodus, so after bumming around a bit and having dinner, it was back across the Patchouli Curtain again for the 22nd annual reunion of one of my old teams (ODA-1, A-111, A-1111, A-2034, and a few other numbers over the years, but with a lot of guys who served through every period of the team’s existence until very recently. We’ll have a write up on that and what it means sometime this week, too.

It may be the last reunion. We are, apparently, being evicted; as the local Friends Of explains, we’ve done such a nice job improving the abandoned, run-down, and mostly collapsed Revolutionary War fort where we meet that they’ve got a grant to have Credentialed Professionals finish it up and Disneyify it — which requires us to no longer come. And incidentally, our flagpole and bronze plaques memorializing our dead have to go, because they offend the moonbats on the commission.

We’d already had to put game cameras on the plaques, because the vibrant local diversity was stealing them and taking them to unscrupulous scrap dealers (are there any other kind?), in order to get drug money. Vibrant! Takes a lot of chemicals in the bloodstream to keep one’s vibrancy up, apparently. But the Friends Of want the trees that we hid the cameras in to come down, because there were no trees during the Revolution or something.

Any random one of us knows more of the history of this fortified point of land than all the professors in the History Department at the local State University. But we, alas, cannot make a gendered (whatever that means) and sexualized contextualized statement about it, and what it means for oppressed minorities everywhere.

They’re right; we can’t. We can just tell you what this place meant in the Revolution, the War of 1812, the World Wars and interwar period, and the Cold War, and we can even tell you the fate that befell it after its Johnson-era abandonment. What’s the historical use of that? Somewhere, someone is uncomfortable with its genitalia, and feeling oppressed.

That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 31

That was the week that was TW3Sad to say, but this TW3 is being backdated and dropped in nearly a week later. That may explain, if not excuse, its somewhat telegraphic nature compared to the usual.

But hey, they say brevity is the soul of wit. So here we’ll give you twice as much brevity, and shouldn’t that add up to about half wit?

Thanks for reading, commenting, and keeping us at the coal face mining what we hope is interesting and worthwhile content for you.

The Boring Statistics

This week was an average week in some ways. We posted what has become our standard, 27 posts, and a higher than usual total of about 20,000 words. Of the two averages we still track, mean was 733 and median 657, and few of the posts were real outliers.

We did have a real explosion in comments this week: thanks, perhaps, to some accessible and discussion-prone topics, we had 469 comments at press time, a record for the year. The comments frequently extend and expand upon the blog posts a good bit; make the time to read some of them some time.

The month of July ended this week with approximately  1.2 million unique visitors YTD and about 6.7 million visits.

Comment of the Week

Because we’re doing this post retroactively, nothing’s fresh in mind, so we’re not going to have one this week… sorry ’bout that.

The Week in Posts

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

Going Forward

Since we’re posting this a week late, we’ll draw the line at making predictions for a future that is already long past.

Sunday Showers

As July — our favorite month, as the too-short summer at 43º North Latitude is our favorite season — winds to a close, we have enjoyed a morning of showers that are expected to yield to a partly sunny day.

A lot of family this weekend, which is A Good Thing. The crowd (minus) for dinner last night, and the dinner seemed to be a success, judging from the extra helpings the kids pursued. (Don’t listen to what kids say; their critique of your chef skills resides in what they do). And off to the Blogfather’s hotel for dinner tonight — as the hotel hasn’t a proper restaurant, but he has a kitchen, we will actually nuke prepared food and sit and talk. Hey, it’s a social event, right?

Some more thought about elderly parents and we’d not have bought Hog Manor. A traditional New England Colonial, with some of the architectural excesses that let an expert date it to the late 1980s-early 90s at a single glance, it had the bedrooms traditionally upstairs, and if you want your parents to stay with you as they move into their 80s and 90s, that’s a non-starter.

Still, the Blogfather did the math, and it actually costs him less to come up for the summer and stay in a hotel, than it did not maintain a home, or even to rent one, year round. In the hotel he gets waited on, doted on, even; and he never has the feeling of being underfoot. And his temptation to issue constant on-the-spot corrections to all family members is diminished accordingly.

He just left, having come to retrieve a vest he left last night, draped over a chair back, lending a note of elegance to the place. And we’ll see him in his hotel tonight.

Friends, enjoy your family members; cherish them, even their idiosyncrasies. It costs you so little, and some day they will be gone  — or you will be, and any small degree to which you’ve put yourself out will not have mattered. The Japanese are on to something with all their comparisons of human life to cherry blossoms, you know? Very wise bunch, those Japanese.

Outside the office window, the sun is striving to break through the overcast. See you tomorrow at 0600 with a technical post.

That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 30

That was the week that was TW3Here’s the latest in our occasional (supposed to be regular) weekly wrap-ups, named for the successful British TV show and its non-as-successful American knock-off of the early ’60s, That Was the Week that Was, or TW3 to save time. We really, seriously, are going to get an updated logo for this feature one of these days, when all the other stuff on the to-do list is done.

For anyone new to, first, welcome! We try to post according to a schedule here, but there’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip. The refund window keeps somewhat irregular hours, but we try to keep a site going that is worth the expenditure of that resource that is more precious than your money, to wit, your time. Thank you for reading and (for that subset of you who do) for commenting. Some of the best writing and most insightful ideas you’ll see here are in the comments… not entirely sure what to make of that, but there it is.

The Boring Statistics

We obsess about these because, we’re not sure, it’s probably the MBA thing and some unrequited need to monitor everything leading us to focus blindly on those numbers that are easily gotten. This week was a better than average week, we think. We posted 26 posts with some 323 comments by press time for this post (which was actually posted some 12 hours late and backdated), and a total of about 21,000 words.

Since the inception of the blog, we have posted nearly 4,000 posts (that milestone will pass next week) and you have left nearly 22,000 comments (ditto). Doing a back of the envelope calculation based on average post size, we’ve posted about 600,000 words this year, and about 3.2 million since Day 1 on 1 Jan 2012. (We could pull the actual numbers, but we’d probably see a squirrel! before we got them all lassoed).

(Fun fact: when we first templated this section of the post, a typical week might have 22 posts, less than one comment per post average, and about 15,000 words. A typical genre novel runs from 90-150k words, they tell us, so we should be writing those and getting paid instead, eh).

Any way you look at the numbers, that’s a lot of content and discussion, mostly about weapons, warfare, and the various forms of urban mayhem we write about.

Comment of the Week

There are some excellent comments by Tom Kratman and Kirk in .

The Week in Posts

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

  • Sunday Shambles was our Sunday ramble.
  • Do We Need A Bigger Bullet? Jim Schatz says yes, with some puzzling claims about small arms overmatch. Now, we think it would be nice to have overmatch, but we think (1) it’s more than just effective range, (2) if it was we might have it already (we definitely outrange enemy rifles on the ground, as a practical matter, although MGs are a problem), and (3) if one nation makes a breakthrough in small arms technology, the others copy it — witness Picatinny rails showing up on Russian rifles.
  • What passes for brilliance inside the Beltway: Hey, Let’s Release a Traitor!
  • The USA seemed capable of great things once upon a time, in fact, 46 Years Ago Today
  • Self-Defense: Where’s This Guy’s Error? This is a question meant to get you questioning. He got away with it, but it was a risky thing.
  • One Downside of a Much Younger, Latina Wife is… you have a much younger, Latina wife, who just might get bored with you — and have you whacked.
  • When Guns Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Firewood. Although it may not be the wood that’s the problem, but the evil that dwelleth therein.
  • We recount A Sad Gunsmith Story — And How to Avoid One
  • What’s the historical, archealogical truth about The Battle of Jericho? Stand by for a shocker: scientists argue about this, and don’t necessarily agree.
  • Here’s a mass murder by a career criminal that you might not have heard about: When guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Excavators.
  • Did she really make One Bad Choice? More like “one bad choice after another.” Fortunately her victim survived. Her friends suffered more. With incompetent people, it’s just better to be their enemy.
  • Ever curious about pinfire and other early-early-early cartridge guns? Check out Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week:
  • Brrrrrt! Legal Full-Auto-Like Firepower. Maybe there’s something to that slide-fire thing after all.
  • Here’s a Lost PLA Based 10/22 – From Data to Print to Cast Aluminum. Note, authorities: we can make stuff, and you can’t stop us.
  • This is really just a tragic accident. When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Bungees
  • We admit, we’re partial to the small ones, so Isn’t She a Beauty? What? No, we mean .25s. Pervert!
  • If you are interested in self-defense, you need to consider The Alternative to “Judged” or “Carried.”
  • Fun fact: when we titled this post Is this a “Red Not” Sight? we actually made a typo for “Dot.” But since it was not a Red Dot sight, we let “Red Not” stand. Ah, sweet Serendip.
  • Guess Who Turned Up in a Pot Raid? Don’t let this shake your faith in deserters and the peacenik parents that raised ’em, m’kay?
  • Philosophical question: if someone kills himself, whether deliberately or whilst participating in extreme sports, is it his business or also society’s? When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Wingsuits
  • Friday <i>Tour d’Horizon</i> Week 30 collects a lot of stories we wanted rid of… but not badly enough to get off our duff and write them.
  • Video and images of Testing Polymer Receivers to Destruction: Factory and Printed
  • New Oath of Allegiance: Bearing Arms Opt-Out. Because it’s not fair to Hyphen-Americans to ask them to be, you know, Americans. 
  • When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will be Accessories to Schmurda. Don’t let this shake your faith in the rap community.
  • We find a time capsule within a time capsule and call it Saturday Matinee 2015 30: Aces High (1976).
  • That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 30 — that’s this post, so a link.

Going Forward

We’re not sure what we’ve got for this week yet, but we bet it’s going to be good.