20101130

Bacchus nails

When you catch me doing journalist-like things, it’s because the lazy fuckers who claim to be journalists aren’t doing their fucking jobs.


Over here.

20101119

My National Ammo Day Haul

Fuze asks and Fuze gets.



200 rnds 9mm, 115-grn FMJ
50 rnds 22 Mag, 40-grn HP
50 rnds 38 Special +P, 125-grn HPs

(The latter are for Barbaloot to test in a couple of .357 Ruger revolvers real soon like...)

All of it picked up from Sportsman's Warehouse on the way home from work. I'd forgotten about NAD until I read Fuze's post.

So mark me down for 300 rounds. I did my part!!

TCM

And it's still National Ammo Day!

And it's still National Ammo Day

MidwayUSA ships Rainier 200gr .45 plated flat point. Ordered to arrive today.

C'mon, let's see everybody's Ammo Day hauls.

It's National Ammo Day!

20101114

used HP Photosmart 2575, cheap

Amusing email from Hewlett Packard:
The third lawsuit (Blennis) claims that HP designed certain inkjet printers and cartridges to shut down on an undisclosed expiration date, and that at this point consumers are prevented from using any ink remaining in the expired cartridge and from using all of the printer's functions until the expired cartridge is replaced. HP denies all these claims. . . . the parties agreed to a Proposed Settlement in order to avoid the expense and risks of continuing the lawsuit.


Having just kicked my last HP printer to the curb, I could care less about getting as settlement an e-credit from HP toward the purchase of another.

And as much as I dislike the practice of litigating every wrong everywhere every time, I'd almost like to see the attorneys open this can of worms and spill it on the table. I was responsible for feeding an HP all-in-one in a TOC, artificially setting its date to 5 years in the past so we could keep using expired inkjet carts. I'm also still trying to remove the last auto-updating HP bloatwares from several computers.

20101104

TCM stares down a troll...

...in comments over at The Truth About Guns.

Probably not my best effort, but it'll do.

Edit:

Apparently, I (shamelessly?) read the TTAG posts chronologically, thereby missing this response. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the anti-gunners revert to ad hominem attacks. Reasoned discourse, my ass.

TCM

20101002

I suddenly find myself wondering

I suddenly find myself wondering why i need to tell a bartender what "neat" means

20100923

Add Nebraska

. . . to the list of States where I have lawfully carried concealed.

20100922

OK, I'll play!!

The Cabinet Man here...

Below is my "on the body" carry rig:



That's a Springfield Armory XDm in 45 ACP. It rides in a Blade-Tech IWB holster with pull-the-dot loops. The spare mag and a Surefire Z2 Combatlight ride in a Blade-Tech combo pouch. All of that gets strapped on with a Wilderness Tactical 1-1/2" polymer-lined Frequent Flyer belt. The rig conceals pretty well as long as I'm wearing baggy shirts or a vest/jacket. It's surprisingly comfortable, too!

TCM

20100921

Carry rigs

SaysUncle asks, "what's your carry rig?"


Milt Sparks Summer Special above, Dillon kinda Yaqui slide below.

Biter the stainless Commander is comfy in either. She rode in the Sparks all day today.

El Paso Saddlery two-mag carrier (from CheaperThanDirt) not shown.

And visible in the upper edge of the pic is the steel cable for the Center-of-Mass in-car safe, which is indispensable.

20100911

No irreversible damage



The cheap milsurp plastic grips on Beater the utility blaster cracked, right across the panel, through the upper screw hole. Both panels.

A cast-aside 6' slab of 1/4" Lexan was looking at me from the corner of the garage, like the Cheetos cheetah: "you know you want to do it."

I hacked out two pieces about the size of M1911 grip panels, and started rasping away anything that looked like it didn't belong there.

The WECSOG grip panels aren't done. They are fitted to the frame, with the countersinking and the relief for the detent plunger doodad, and the outline. But the contouring is only begun.



When it is to the desired contour, it will be stippled for texture.

20100831

Bleg: .22 top end for Glock 23

Who has the best .22LR conversion for Glock 23?

It's not a 4th-generation. Aside from that, all I can tell you is the serial number.

Flinch needs to be programmed out of the spousal unit.

20100829

QFTD

In comments on Reason.tv's coverage of Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor event, M. said:

Jefferson and Washington would never [have] confused the public sphere with the machinery of government.


Pop quiz: which would our Founders have thought the smaller of the two entities?

'nother: how much smaller would it have been, say as a measure of how many persons were employed by, or paid by, one entity versus the other. Or say as a measure of how much spending is done by one versus the other.

I caught some of Beck's radio program last week, as he and his staff were discussing Brian Williams's appearance on Letterman. Letterman was asking Williams, as if asking Beck and the Tea Partiers through him: "taking our country back from whom?"

At the time I couldn't answer concisely, and in a way that wouldn't spawn countless challenges. Maybe the answer is concisely right there.

20100827

It just occurred to me . . .

. . . that Hannibal Lecter cut his hand off needlessly at the end of Hannibal.

Note that he cut his hand off to escape the handcuff that Clarice slapped on him in the scene right after Hannibal fed Ray Liotta's character part of his own brain.

But didn't Hannibal free himself from handcuffs in the Silence of the Lambs, in seconds, while the deputies were bringing him dinner? And he did so under spartan conditions, where he had to find or smuggle an improvised handcuff key.

So back to Clarice's kitchen. If Clarice had a frigging meat cleaver suitable for severing a man's hand at the wrist, she probably had many other items lying around, as in within three steps of the cleaver, that would have gerry-rigged a handcuff key as easily as the ballpoint pen tube that he used in Silence.

Clarice was heavily doped and not likely to put up much of a fight to this improvisation---the handcuffing was all she could pull off without passing out.

I must conclude that the cleaving of his hand was a dramatic flourish, not a true necessity for a fiend as clever as Hannibal Lecter. I haven't read the book, so I don't know whether that even happened in the book, and the book controls.

Discuss. Submit your coursework in the Comments, in APA 6th edition format.

20100824

An exposure to 60Co

Still catching up on back issues of Liberty, which yields another QFTD, May '07 in fact:

. . . only about 1% of our meat and produce is irradiated. The FDA has dragged its feet, considering irradiation some kind of food additive. They allow irradiation of meat, but with a warning label about possible risks! No such label is required for untreated meat that is laden with microbes . . if Public Citizen, food activists, and the FDA had been around in Pasteur's time, we wouldn't have pasteurization today.
Gary Jason in Bug Out, Reflections

Jason's post was inspired by discovery of salmonella contaminating peanut butter.

Would irradiation have worked on eggs?

Contaminated food scares seem to be more common now than when I was a kid. I don't know whether it's true or just more noticeable. It it's true, I'd like to know whether it's because food processors (or regulators) are just more careless, or we're just producing so much more, or exchanging foods more widely across the planet, or perhaps the contaminating organisms are just tougher now and breaking through the formerly adequate measures that processors have deployed against them.

Regardless, a few more scares like this one and maybe more Americans will be open to a broad use of irradiation, and vigorous tracking of which foods, and handling methods, yield better safety.

20100823

QFTD

The right to honestly acquired private property does not depend on people's deserving their property. People do not deserve their livers or good looks, either; yet they have a right to them.


Leland Yeager paraphrasing Tibor Machan in Liberty, July 2007; sorry, article itself not online

20100815

45 ACP Shotshell Handloads for Revolvers

(In the CD player: Ixnay on the Hombre, The Offspring)

As most of you are aware, CCI is pretty much the "industry standard" for pistol-caliber shotshells. The little buggers are sold mostly to snakeaphobes, though I'm sure a few are bought just for kicks. CCI makes these shotshells in three (centerfire) semi-auto calibers: 9mm, 40 S&W and 45 ACP. Unfortunately, CCI specifically calls-out that these three shotshells are not to be used in revolvers of respective caliber. They bind-up the cylinder in rather unpleasant ways. Because I'm an RTFM kinda' guy, this has not happened to me personally. I've learned from others' mistakes.

While I'm sure that heapin' plenty of God's little critters have succumbed to CCI's factory loadings across the available calibers, I've always felt that the .4X were the smallest loadings I'd trust for serpent. I have a handy-dandy SP-101, which would be an ideal setup were I trusting in the 357 shotshell. But not so much trust here. Next up is the 44 Mag, of which I have two candidates. One is a Redhawk that's a bit too unwieldy for the task, the other a 2-1/2" Taurus Tracker. The latter has a ported barrel which, unfortunately, CCI says is a "no-no" for the shotshells. (RTFM, remember??...) So the 44 is out. The other two .4X offerings are 45 ACP and 45 Long Colt. I want something that can guarantee a follow-up shot so the 45 ACP in a semi-auto is out. I don't have a 45 Long Colt so that's a non-starter.

What's a girl to do?

Well, what I do have are two 45 ACP revolvers. A S&W 625 and a 325 Thunder Ranch, both with 4" barrels. The 625 isn't a whole lot lighter than the Redhawk but the 325 is very light, being divined of a magical Middle Earth compound known as scandium. Knowing that I can't use CCI's 45 ACP shotshells on this platform, I figger'ed I'd set out to roll my own 45 ACP revolver loads.

And roll'em I did!

(It's at this point that I must interject that reloading data follows. This data worked wonderfully for me, in my gun, with the batch of components I had on hand, on the day I did the testing. The same cannot be assumed for you. By duplicating these loads for your own use, you assume all risk of death, dismemberment, or damaged guns and hold harmless Yours Truly in the case that any or all of those unfortunate events actually come to pass. Legal mumbo-jumbo, blah, blah, blah...)

Referring back to an article written by Mike Venturino (American Handgunner, Jan/Feb 2007), I started formulating a plan. Mike loaded his 45 Long Colt shotshells with 45 caliber Speer shot capsules, #12 shot, and Unique powder. So I snagged a box of the capsules, scrounged a ten-pound bag of #11 shot, whipped out my own jug of Unique, and set myself to loading. I went with #11 shot since I wanted something larger than #12. (If you've ever seen #11 or #12 shot, you'll understand that "larger" is a strictly relative term...)

The shot capsules hold 163.5 grains of #11 shot, or about 408 pellets. The capsule and shot combined weighs almost exactly 180 grains. Mike used 9.0 grains of Unique in his 45 Long Colt load. Speer recommends 7.5 grains for the 45 Long Colt. So I figger'ed I'd start with 6.5 grains of Unique for the 45 ACP. I seated the capsules by hand -- squishing them in place between a scrap piece of 2x2 and my reloading bench -- to an OAL of 1.55", +/- 0.03 depending on who manufactured the shell casing. I used a 45 ACP Lee Factory Crimp die to make a taper crimp. (Since I also have a 45 ACP roll crimp die, I tried that. Fail. It just managed to crack the capsule and send #11 shot scattering everywhere...)







As you can see, the capsule extends quite a ways out the mouth of the case, despite a rather deep seating.









But it still fits in the 325's cylinder with plenty of room to spare.





Just for grits-n-shins, I tried chambering one of them in my 1911. It didn't work, the capsule catching the rifling well before the case could headspace.

Then it was off to the range. (Unfortunately, I forgot the camera. So here are your thousand words...)

In a nutshell, the experiment was a success!! The patterns made at roughly 10 feet were exactly what you'd expect: ~18", with good distribution. Recoil was noticeable but mild. There was nothing untoward as a result of using the capsules: no plastic shards flying about or jamming up the cylinder works. Cases extracted w/o problem. Sorry, no chrono data.

One thing I wanted to check -- and I'm glad I did -- was "capsule creep" due to recoil. I loaded one moon clip with five of my 200-grn FMJ match rounds and one shotshell. I "staged" the cylinder so that the shotshell fired after the five match rounds. Indeed, the capsule crept out of the case and would have bound the cylinder. Admittedly, I didn't have the tightest taper crimp on these loads. I'll need to do a bit more experimentation on the crimp. Probably a few cycles of "tighten it until it snaps, then back off a 1/4 turn." Even if I can't get the exact crimp I want, the shotshell would always be staged to fire first and recoil creep would be a non-issue. Still, I wanna' get it right...

Finally, Mike V. used the "potato test" as criteria for an effective shotshell load. He believes that if one of these babies blasts apart a raw potato, it's good enough for snakes. Well, my 45 ACP loads sent a spud to the Big Potato Patch in the Sky. In many pieces!

So, if you have 45 ACP revolver that you wanna' roll some shotshells for, have at it. It can be done.

TCM

20100807

more Grendel reloads

Crosswinds exceeding 30mph today.

BobbieJo sent some more 95 grain Hornady V Max downrange today. All were CCI 200 primers, Wolf brass. 5-round samples at 100 yards.

29.0 grains WC846, mild crimp. Average 2528 fps, SD 13.0 fps. All stayed in a 4" square at 100 yards

29.5 grains WC846, no crimp. Average 2591 fps, SD 25.1 fps. Not as well confined to 4" square.

29.5 grains WC846, mild crimp. Average 2600 fps, SD 17.2 fps. About the same spread as without crimp.

Elevation 6300 feet above sea level.

20100801

Gear Review (of sorts): Fenix LD20 R4

[In the CD player: Lush, Gala...]

The wife and I currently use two 20th century bicycle headlights that use incandescent bulbs and lead-acid battery "cells". Categorizing these systems as marginal is something of an understatement. They're heavy, bulky, and not all that bright, even with recently-replaced battery packs. Unless it's absolutely pitch black and we're pedaling along at a lazy 10 MPH, they cannot be trusted to properly illuminate the roadway for us to clearly identify road hazards. At best, they'll alert a driver to our presence at night. Maybe. Bicycle lights have come a long way since I first invested in these systems almost 15 years ago. But they can still be expensive.

Then I found an alternative.

What we're gonna' talk about today is the Fenix LD20 R4 flashlight. (This is the newer LD20, that has a max 205 lumens...) I first caught wind of this little guy by way of the kind folks over at EcoVelo. There'd been a couple posts over there about using flashlights for bicycle lights and I really liked the idea. What appealed to me about the LD20 was (1) it's price, given that it can fill two roles, (2) the fact that it can take AA batteries, and (3) that it uses a constant-current LED drive circuit.





Most of the really bright flashlights (Surefire and Streamlight, for example) run off of CR123A batteries. These flashlights are great and I own several of them. The Missus gifted me a Surefire LED model that's bright enough to weld with! But I want something that uses rechargeable batteries, specifically rechargeable AAs. The problem with using the AA rechargeables is that their charged voltage is only ~1.2 volts. This voltage is low enough that most of my electronics gear fusses that the power is running low when I just installed freshly charged batteries. This is where the LD20's constant-current circuit comes in handy. Within reason, it doesn't care what the battery voltage is, as long as the batteries have the capacity to run the circuitry. Which the AA rechargeables do!

I won't go into a lot of detail about the LD20 'cuz you can get all that info for yourself just by following the linky. But the "added value" of the time you've spent reading this post is how the LD20 behaves while using different battery types. The Fenix web-site gives out the basics on time-vs-brightness, but what they don't tell you is under what conditions the tests were conducted. Well folks, I think I can answer a few questions about that since I was curious enough to conduct my own tests.

I borrowed a PIC microcontroller board and a photocell from work. I rewrote a mess of C code to turn the board into a data logger, rigged a cardboard box to act as the test rack, and proceeded to test the LD20 with five different types of batteries: Energizer Ultimate Lithium, Energizer Rechargeable (older), Energizer Rechargeable (newer), Energizer Alkaline, and Sony Eneloop rechargeable. The older Energizer rechargeables are probably four years old, though their charge/discharge count is pretty low. The newer ones are spankin' new, not even two weeks old. I used the 50 lumen setting for all the tests, which Fenix says provides 13 hours of runtime. (And the 50-lumen setting provides quite a bit more light than our current bicycle light systems.) Testing was done inside, so, say............, 75F.



The following graph shows relative brightness over time. I couldn't tell you what the exact brightness is in lumens, it's just the reading off of the A/D converter attached to the photocell. Just assume it's the advertised 50 lumens. This graph makes it obvious that the constant-current circuit is doing its thing: when the batteries are dead, they're dead!!



As one would expect, the Ultimate Lithiums produce significantly better results than the other batteries. However, they're not rechargeable and they're wicked expensive at over $2 each!! They would be a good choice, however, for emergency operations where long run-times (and shelf-lives) are important -- and cost is not. (Lithiums will also perform better at temperature extremes than the other batteries will...) The other four batteries are quite comparable in their performances. The good news is that the rechargeables -- even with their lower full-charge voltage -- have capacities nearly equal to that of the alkalines.

To summarize the run-times:



It looks like we have a winner! Of course it remains to be seen how the rechargeables will work in colder weather, which is really the only time we need to use lights on the bicycles. But even if they give us a full week's commuting between charges (~6 hours, worse case), then they'll work great. So check back in about 6 months and we'll update on how this arrangement works. Until then .............. ciao!!

TCM

20100717

Hallelujah!

Old Western Scrounger still breathes!!!!!

I hadn't ordered anything from them since before the intertubes.

Found via Gibbs Rifle via SayUncle.

20100711

aftermarket AK replacement parts

This is either an opportunity for an enterprising cottage industry type, or a bleg:

Who makes high-reliability domestic replacement parts for the Kalashnikov? Extractor, extractor spring and pin, firing pin and retaining pin, mainspring?

Sure, the original Warsaw Pact parts are making their way to the States, and probably in volumes that make aftermarket parts not worth the bother. I'm tempted to just get another kit or two (the ones with the worthless cut-up barrels) just to have replacement parts. But I'd probably just get Amerikanski barrels and build them.

Anybody have a lead?

If Glenn really wanted a solar-powered air conditioner

We should borrow recreational vehicle technology. I grasp the concept of the latent heat of vaporization, though this article on propane-powered RV refrigerators is a bit harder to follow.

What could be so difficult about scaling this hardware up to a size that could air-condition a house? The difficult part is radiating away the heat after the hardware is done with it. That task would be enhanced with a leetle photovoltaic power to drive a fan over the radiator.

Such a system would be about as obtrusive and unsightly as existing A/C units, if the solar collector and radiator can be hidden in roofing and chimneys. This is where engineers earn their pay. There would be greater difficulty selling these units past the esthetics prudes of homeowners' associations, than getting the equipment to work.

It's not as if we'd be dealing with dangerous or exotic materials: ammonia and water and a bit of hydrogen. The hydrogen would have to be replaced periodically, but that's easier, at the scales of the service technician and of the national economy, than powering automobiles with hydrogen.

Durability? Remember, the existing units are mounted on moving vehicles, getting vibrated and going through temperature and humidity cycles. It should be cake to build a unit like this suitable for home use in a climate with a lot of direct sunlight, like Colorado or Wyoming. Then it has the added Gaia-closed-cycle-ness of making more cold air when more is needed. Let's not burn propane to do this.

The domestic water heater can probably be integrated into this equipment too. Waste heat, remember?

20100709

PMC .45 ACP

$19.99 for box of 50, 230gr FMJ.

At your local Murdoch's.

If you don't have a local Murdoch's, well, it sucks to be you.

20100626

A ring job in order

At about 200 rounds of Wolf Gold 6.5mm Grendel, and after firing fewer than 40 rounds of reloads, Bobbie Jo is in need of a ring job.

These are the rings originally provided by Alexander Arms with their bolt/barrel set. From left to right, the rings are nearest bolt face to farthest, so the ring closest to the hot gases is the one on the right, the one with most of its substance eaten away:



Bobbie Jo now sports a McFarland one-piece gapless ring, and the other ARs will probably have theirs soon too. But it makes me wonder, am I not lubricating the rings adequately for break-in? Can break-in of gas rings be improved with bore paste?


I can also see which parts I want in a spares kit for ARs, and which deserve periodic replacement.

BTW, the reloads were a) 120 gr Sierra Pro Hunters in front of 30.5 gr AA2520, 2349 fps, and b) 95 gr Hornady V-Max over 28.5 gr WC846, 2257 fps. At 6100 feet above MSL, with Alexander's (E. R. Shaw's) 16" stainless barrel, stock midlength gas tube.

20100611

So would I, brother, so would I

I’d be very curious to know which law professors, if any, thought it was appropriate to sign their name to a piece ghostwritten by a member of the Clinton administration, defending Clinton.


VC.

20100610

Things that make me go, "hunh"

A tradesman came to the house recently to quote some work. It was just as the school year here was closing, so he had a grandson in tow.

In the course of introductions, the Latino grandfather told me the boy's name was "Shehadi." He said it with, it seemed to me, some minor embarrassment.

Did Grandpa understand that this boy's name literally means Muslim confession of faith, and figuratively means 'martyr'? Is there a trend among Latino women to make names up from thin air or overheard phonemes on broadcast media?

20100608

The harmonic makes her move

Firstborn and I chose to attend the Rocky Mountain Hamvention this year in Casper. As we discussed it, Mlle. Sklodovska took an interest and invited herself along.

The first hour we were there, we came to the end of the swapmeet tables and found the checkin counter. Firstborn and I got our badges, and the convention organizers let Mlle. Sklodovska into the festivities with a smile, and printed her a badge, "Harmonic of [Fûz's callsign]." That use of the term 'harmonic' was new to me, but clever and likable.

The two girls found another amateur waving a VHF yagi around for the indoor foxhunt, which is what sold Firstborn on the hamvention in the first place. All 3 girls spent the next hour or so on the foxhunt.

Since then she's been asking to find her old Uncle's breadboard and start learning electronics. I dug it out and put a few quick sketches of Ohm's law and RC time constants on a whiteboard, then walked her through building a 555 one-shot on the breadboard.

It didn't work, but she said "we'll try again tomorrow night."

Clearly she will be the next ham in the house.

20100603

Car-Free Month Post-Mortem

[in the CD player: Curve, Doppelganger]

Sorry, folks -- I should know better than to promise that I'll do something involving discretionary time...

So here's the (anxiously awaited!) postmortem of the Car-Free Month (CFM).

Let's start with the good stuff.

Of the 20 available workdays in May, the Missus and I rode to/from work 19 times. That's 95% -- and better than we'd expected! We took a vehicle to work on the 12th due to icy roads in the neighborhood. Of the five Sundays (grocery days) in May, we hauled groceries by human power four times. We drove a vehicle on the 16th because we were on a wicked-tight schedule that day and every second counted. We took a vehicle to the gun club every Saturday (twice on two days) because we were hauling match equipment that would have been impractical (impossible?) by bicycle. On those days, we twice took advantage of access to the vehicle for "side trips" to Home Depot. I took my motorcycle to a meeting on the 4th that was across town and notorious for finishing well after dark. Looking at the mileage:

Bicycle:

Work: 14 miles round trip (R/T) x 19 days x 2 bicycles = 532 miles
Groceries: 2 miles R/T x 4 weekends x 2 bicycles = 16 miles
Country Spin: 30 miles x 2 bicycles = 60 miles

Total = 608 miles


Vehicle:

Meeting: 18 miles R/T x 1 day x 1 vehicle = 18 miles
Work: 14 miles R/T x 1 day x 1 vehicle = 14 miles
Club: 40 miles R/T x 7 days x 1 vehicle = 280 miles
Side trips: 6 miles x 5 days x 1 vehicle = 30 miles
Groceries: 2 miles R/T x 1 day x 1 vehicle = 2 miles

Total = 344 miles


So we put in almost twice the mileage on the bicycles than on the vehicles. Woo-Hoo!!

Commuting to/from work, we mostly stuck to the roads, taking the Front Range Trail for the entire commute only once. When we were both on bicycles -- as opposed to me being on the TerraTrike Tour (TTT) tadpole recumbent -- we tended to return home by way of downtown. It saves almost ten minutes, a acceptable ROI for having to deal with "city traffic" for a mere four blocks. I only took the trike thru downtown once, trying to outrun the rain. The TTT is definitely not at home in that environment!

I alternated between the Cannondale and the TTT, splitting the miles pretty evenly between the two. The Missus has only her road-tired mountain bike so all her miles were put onto it. On Mondays, we always bring to work our week's breakfasts and lunches. For the CFM, we employed the BOB trailer for this task and it handled the 20 meals just fine. Other than 15 minutes spent re-aligning the rear derailleur on the Cannondale, there were no mechanical issues.

The weather was (mostly) cooperative. The morning temps are still pretty nippy in May 'round these parts. More than half the mornings were below 40 and only three were 50 or above. A handful of the afternoon rides home were done in 80+ temps. We got rained on three times: both trips to/from work on one day and an afternoon of heavy dizzle / light rain last week. This isn't bad, especially since the (every afternoon!) 15-minute thunderstorms start in June and run thru August.

Now that I have 200 or so miles on the TerraTrike Tour, I can make some (reasonably) intelligent comments about it.

TTT Cons:

It's just too low to the ground for mingling with congested traffic. I'm OK with it on lightly-vehicled side streets or roads with Lots O'Shoulder but I get the wiggins in heavy traffic. I do plan to do some week-long (+) tours on it at some point so I'll have to be double careful when I pedal thru any towns. The biggest problem I've faced is people backing their cars out of driveways. They simply cannot see me -- and so I'm continuously in condition red when I'm pedaling thru the 'burbs.

You can't "muscle" the trike like you can a bicycle and it's very unforgiving of being stuck in too high a gear. I find myself doing a lot of shifting to keep my pedal cadence "reasonable" (80 RPM, +/-). Stopping at a traffic light while three gears too high is a real experience! Fortunately, in the the worst cases of "duh...", I can just grab the wheels with my hands (wheelchair-style) and get rolling enough to downshift without grinding metal.

The Trike takes steep climbs very slowly. We have an ugly (but short) climb on the way to work and it's One Steep 'Muther. On the Trike, I'm in lowest gear in no time and grinding-out the climb, rookie-style. I'm sure this is a combination of higher weight and higher rolling resistance compared to a bicycle. Since it's hard to "muscle" the Trike up a steep climb, you really do need to keep the gears low and just crawl. After a half-dozen trips on the TTT and returning to the Cannondale, I was quickly reminded how much of a mountain goat the T2000 really is. The Cannondale's climbing speeds were 50% higher than the TTT's on the hard stuff. That said, the TTT is fine on "normal" hills and I didn't feel all that disadvantaged. I spent a good part of the month grumbling about its climbing abilities and not until we did the 30-mile "country ride" did I discover that it can handle eastern Colorado rollers just fine.

The TTT's high-speed stability leaves a bit to be desired. Above 25 MPH, the steering starts to get a little twitchy. I've found I can calm things down considerably by letting the bars free-float in my hands on these high-speed descents. This technique doesn't completely eliminate the "unpredictability" and as speeds increase upwards of 30 MPH, things get .................. interesting.

I used to own a Polaris ATV. It was a lot of fun until I started developing some confidence and mustered the courage to tackle more difficult terrain. One of the things I noticed about the problems I repeatedly found myself getting into was "picking a line". See, I grew up riding dirt bikes -- so picking a line thru a difficult stretch was just that: picking a line. One line. Once I got the ATV, I was faced with finding two lines thru whatever mess I was about to get into. And I invariably found one good line and one bad line. But the second track of tires still had to go somewhere. And usually "somewhere" was trouble.

What does an ATV have to do with this post? Well, the TTT has three lines. Granted I don't ride the TTT off-road but that doesn't mean that street surfaces are perfect. Some of those potholes are downright vicious. So when I'm on the Trike, I spend a lot of time focusing on the road surface because I gotta' get three tires thru whatever mess I'm about to tangle with. More than once I've had to make the split-second decision: which of the three tires am I gonna' run into that pothole. Kinda' distracting sometimes...

This is a minor nitpick but there's no speedometer mount. There's some sort of bracket on the left (front) that tracks with the wheel which I employed to hold the speedo pickup but it's a poor solution. I tried tie-wrapping some small-diameter PVC to the bracket but the solution didn't really take. I was forever plucking the pickup out of the track of the magnet after some major jarring caused the mount to shift. I'm sure if I really, really thought about the problem, the solution would be obvious. I haven't, so it's not. TerraTrike would do well to solve that for its customers. Maybe they have and I just haven't looked hard enough.

One of the things a bicycle rider learns once he crosses the threshold from recreational (bike path) riding to hard-core (obsessive racing) riding is that seat height is very important. I'm surprised how small the window is between my bicycle seat being too high or too low. For me that window is about 1/4" and getting it wrong results in a couple mighty angry knees. In fact, I went thru quite the gyrations to make sure my SPD-equipped mountain bike (and T2000) had the exact same seat height as my Look-equipped Litespeed. The TTT doesn't have "seat height" as a bicyclist might understand. It does, however, have an adjustment to move the cyclist back-n-forth in relation to the pedals. The difficulty of this adjustment is compounded by the fact that the back-rest angle can be changed, which ultimately changes the (effective) "seat height". So there was a lot of trial-n-error getting it right. Ultimately the adjustments are kinda' coarse but, fortunately, I found a spot that worked very nicely.

The trick was staying in that spot. See, the nylon seat is really slippery. For folks that pedal their trikes around in shorts or jeans [hack, spit], it's probably not an issue. But I ride in Spandex (B&PBUI) and sliding around on the TTT's seat was totally screwing with my "seat height". I tweaked a knee on the second ride and it was a couple days before it worked itself out. But I found a rather brilliant solution: anti-slip matting. This is the stuff you can buy to put under throw rugs to keep them from sliding around on tile/wood floors. It also shows up as "bottom liner" in the produce bins at supermarkets. I had some that I'd bought to protect the plastic surfaces of my motorcycle from my saddlebags. The stuff is "perforated" so it breathes (sorta') and it's cheap enough to replace regularly. It keeps me parked in the seat and it works great.

Lastly, there's no way to wear a backpack/Camelbak or messenger bag. This is obvious and I knew it going into this deal -- but I miss having that flexibility. It's not fatal, of course.


TTT Pros:

No review of the TerraTrike would be complete without a discussion of just how comfortable this machine really is. I'm amazed that the Missus and I pedaled a 30-mile loop and nothing -- NOTHING!! -- hurt. Usually, I'm fighting to keep my hands (or balls) from going numb or my seat bones from getting sore. I know what you're thinking: "Dude, your bicycle ergos are all wrong!" That'd be a true statement if I didn't have a huge box full of saddles, seat posts, and head sets -- all remnants of the Fruitless Search for Bicycle Comfort. Sure, some days are better than others and after 100s of combinations-and-permutations, I've gotten really, really close on the bicycles. Just not perfect. But nuthin' wears so little on the body as the TTT. Think of it as a Lay-Z-Boy with pedals. With all I've mentioned above concerning the TTT's cons, the comfort level of this trike trumps all that. Period.

And while I stated that the TTT can't be muscled, don't confuse that with it being sluggish. It's a surprisingly sprightly machine when handled properly (correct gearing, anticipating "obstacles", avoiding unnecessary weight, correct ergos, etc). While it can't come close to the acceleration potential of the Litespeed, the TTT is pretty much on par with the T2000, when the latter is ridden as it was designed. The turning radius is rarely a hindrance and can be ............... abbreviated with brake-steering. I'm sure that regular heavy doses of that could lead to the premature wear of various hard parts but I wouldn't expect a little "brake English" now-n-again to cause many problems.

Another overlooked advantage is what I'll call "foot-free stopping". At first, it's kinda' weird to pull up to a stoplight and not have to put a foot down. You just, well......................., stop. No cleats slipping on oily roads and no fighting to get re-cleated upon starting. Depending on your ride, you can probably lock-in in the garage and unlock when you return two hours later. I once test rode a Piaggio MP3 for a friend that had no motorcycle license. These scooters -- like the TTT -- have two wheels up front and one in the rear. The MP3 has a complicated (to me) front end suspension system that allows the scooter to be leaned thru a curve. However, it also has a "suspension locking" feature that locks the tilting hardware at speeds below (something like) 5 MPH, which means the rider can stop at a light w/o putting a foot down. This allows Miss DMA (Dainty Management Assistant) to wear her high heels to work and not have to get them mucky at a stoplight. I always thought it was a silly feature but riding the TTT has changed my mind. So, to Piaggio, I apologize. Well done!!

There's one more indirect advantage to the TTT: bar ends shifters. The TTT comes with them and they're The Tool For The Job. I'm pretty much a Luddite when it comes to mechanical doo-hickeys but I'd long-ago grown quite fond of the Shimano STI shifter/brake setup that came with the Litespeed. When I completed the cross-country trip in 1998, I thought it might be cool to have the T2000's (perfectly reliable) bar-ends replaced with an STI system. So I did and it was. For about a week. For the next 12 years I regretted that decision. After the first half-dozen rides on the TTT, I said, "That's it, dammit -- the T2000 gets its bar-ends back!" I dug out the old parts and cashed-in on a local bike shop's pre-season tune-up special to get them re-installed. And I couldn't be happier! (Part of me -- the Luddite part of me -- briefly considered having down-tube shifters installed but that's a bit too retro for even TCM...)


So that's pretty much the summary. I had a great time riding thru May and look forward to falling back on those good habits in the future. The Missus was uncertain about not only the CFM but the 30-miler as well. But she dug deep and completed both with grace and aplomb. She now has the confidence and the fitness base to go father and faster. Hell, there may even be a bike trip in our future!! Who knows??

So thanx for checking back. Sorry it look so long...

TCM


[Editor's note: The other day, the hardware engineering manager -- the Missus' boss and fellow cyclist -- asked me where he might find some old-style thumb shifters. Not the early RapidFire-style shifters, but older than that even. The only place I figger'ed might have them was Rivendell. (And I was right...) Which reminded me that I always thought that Rivendell's moustache handlebar was really cool and would work well on a commuter bike. So I spent the next 1/2-hour or so employing Google-fu to find pictures of the moustache bars installed on various bikes. Unfortunately, during my net wanderings, I stumbled across this and this:

O. M. G.

I'm sorry folks but that is quite possibly the most attractive bicycle TCM has ever laid eyes upon. ("Sorry, Litespeed, my dear, I'm not taking it back...") It's a Rivendell "Sam Hillborne" and I suspect it's wearing custom paint and fenders. That bike right there would make me wish I had my driver's license revoked and a 40-mile R/T commute to work!! That's one damned fine lookin' ride, sir, and I am terminally jealous...]

20100514

Too clever by half

A meme running around Facebook these days, about violence against women:

While you SCREAM at your woman, there's a guy who wants to whisper in her ear . . .


and so forth.

Two thoughts on that:
  • There are surely women who provoke their men into batshit-unhinged anger, and who are not meanwhile stealing smiles from other men. There are women who piss off every man they encounter. I can name names.
  • "There is a man wishing to make love to her" is not the kind of stuff to be telling a man who is prone to abuse in relationships. Guys who get jealous easily should not be made, err, jealous.


I am not making light of domestic violence. But if eloquent feminists want to draw attention to it and get women and men to post something on their Walls condemning domestic violence, this is not the message.

Isn't it enough to say that men who intimidate the women who are close to them deserve to be beaten nearly to death and abandoned along some Godforsaken logging rut? Hell, isn't it enough to say that anybody who abuses anybody joined to him or her in an intimate relationship needs to cut it out?

Update: on some consideration, this passage is not directed at guys to try to get them to stop abusing women. This message is directed at women. Is it encouraging women to abandon abusive relationships---"c'mon, girl, you can do better"?

20100508

Which rules violated? Rather, how many?

Shooters regularly pass opinions on negligent discharges they hear about in the media. Which of Cooper's Four Rules of firearm safety were violated in such-and-such event? This is no Monday-morning quarterbacking, it's a reminder to gun owners of their responsibilities and the risks they face.

Now that Uncle Radley has drawn widespread attention to the militarization of police, and the excessive use of dynamic entries, by the now-famous video, perhaps it's time for these entries to receive similar scrutiny against a set of rules that allow us to judge (yes, judge: to sit in judgment of, to criticize, to pass opinion on) the actions of police officers.

The acts of police must face scrutiny just as the acts of mayors, presidents, senators, or representatives. They act on our behalf. To those who complain that mere civilians cannot presume to judge the actions of SWAT officers because have not walked in their boots, I call bullshit. If we cannot evaluate the actions of those who claim to serve us, we cannot determine whether they are serving us at all, and we cannot determine whether they are breaking laws themselves. The role of servant and served would be reversed.

To judge their actions, we need a standard. It was Say Uncle or James Rummel (I can't remember) who pointed me to Sir Robert Peel's (or Mayne's) principles of policing.

So, gentle readers: which principles of police conduct were violated in the Columbia raid? For the moment let's convene on Peel's version of the principles.

Note: whether the dad was a dope-dealing scumbag is not relevant. Don't address it. The rules aren't about him.

20100504

another use for advanced airships

I didn't bother to follow the link on Instapundit this evening about "cellphones for Cuba." My imagination, though, suggested that sending piles of discarded functioning mobile phones to Cuba to encourage freedom wouldn't help the cause if Raoul kept his thumbs tightly on the mobile phone carriers. Florida is a bit too far to give good bars to those phones.

But if Hermanos al Rescate commissioned an airship with cellular equipment aboard, using tight directional antennae---gain---and kept that ship in the air for days at a time, constantly moving but keeping those beams trained on the island, the phones might work in spite of Raoul's jammers.

But I think another country needs internet bandwidth out to the rest of the world a hell of a lot worse than Cuba.

Iran. The airships could run up and down the Iraqi border, and over the Persian Gulf coasts. Sadly the beams would not reach Tehran.

Seems that we should be dropping HF radios into the country so the horror stories can get out and the dissidents can coordinate.

20100430

The Car-Free Month

It's The Cabinet Man again. Long time no post.

We gun nuts are so often accused of being mono-topic drolls, incapable of interests outside of rolling naked in piles freshly reloaded ammunition. But just like most folks, we actually enjoy other pursuits at times. For me, well, I'm a bicycle freak. I yoosta be a USCF flunky and had grand aspirations for racing the RAAM. I once competed in the Eagleman (Half-)Ironman Triathlon as the bicycle leg of a team. My greatest bragging rights, though, lie in my completion of the 4400-mile TransAm Trail that runs from Virginia to Oregon. I rode that solo -- and unsupported -- in 1998. While my ambitions are far tamer than they were a decade ago, I still enjoy throwing a leg over the top tube and grinding out the miles.

(And I'm not the only bicycling gun-nut. Tam and Xavier are two more examples...)

So the Missus and I are gonna' try this whole bicycle-to-work (-grocery store, -gun shop, -porn outlet) for a month. In May.

Why?

Fair question. It'd be easy to say that we're tree-hugging Earth First'ers that want to save the planet and be a good example to Gaia-loving bipeds everywhere. Or that we like making Arab oil shieks pissy! But that'd be 180-proof blatherskype. (Well, maybe there's some truth to that last one...)

In all honesty, we just like riding our bicycles. And we have a couple of them:









(Yes, that's a titanium Litespeed you're drooling over, blessings and praises be upon it...)

I recently picked up the TerraTrike Tour (TTT) tadpole recumbent for me:



and a BOB trailer off Craig's List for the Missus:



(I have an old Rev 1.0 BOB for myself. The Missus doesn't wanna' haul all the groceries...)

So with all that, we wanna' ride!

We plan to use this car-free month as a springboard for developing better ride-to-____ habits. Just as importantly, we're hoping the commitment will result in more pedal time and less waistline. I need to shed about three stones and the last time I decisively lost tonnage was when I was riding religiously for 10+ hours a week. (20+ hours, actually, but we gotta' start some where...)

I'll probably split my time between the TTT and my beloved Cannondale T2000, the latter being my trusty TransAm steed. The TTT is a blast to ride and the very definition of comfortable. It's an imperfect solution, though. It's so low to the ground that I get the wiggins in heavy traffic. It climbs a bit slower than my two-wheelers but the Missus likes that since I don't drop her on the hills. She'll be riding her GT mountain bike that we've fitted with road tires. We'll both be towing the BOBs on grocery day.

There will be some exceptions to "riding everywhere". We have obligations to our local gun club that can't be fulfilled by bicycle. Hauling hundreds of pounds of steel plates under human power is entirely out of the question. As is the 240-mile round trip to The Property. The Missus isn't keen on riding to the base of the Manitou Incline for our weekly summiting, so that's probably an exception as well. But everything else is fair game: work, groceries, dentist and Sportsman's Warehouse.

I'll try to keep the posts coming on our progress and failures. At least once a week. Check back early and often!

TCM

20100427

No, Mister President,

if you are shopping for a new Supreme Court justice,



Not that Napolitano, but this one.



He's already a judge, if that's important to you. Not particularly important to me, because I believe that already being a judge would disincline one from making waves among other judges. Sorry, that's what the Supreme Court is supposed to do, in a way: point out other judges' errors, even the errors of prior Supreme Court justices. Slaughter Slaughterhouse, anyone?

That's probably why Andrew here so excites as an already-Judge. He's willing to call bullsh on other judges, rather than go along and allow their errors to perpetuate.

Gun pr0n dreamy dreams

First, I always wanted one of these, more than I lusted for a SPAS 12, say.
The High Standard 10B, a bullpup shotgun. I'm borrowing this photo from a Gunbroker auction, sorry if that offends.

If I were a lunatic independently-wealthy tinkering gunsmith, I'd apply the 10B treatment to a newer semi-auto, and extend that tubular magazine right out to the muzzle. Then I'd package the treatment as a kit for the hobbyist to mount on his own. I don't know enough about modern selfloading shotguns to pick the right one. Bleg?

Meanwhile, on the AR front:

With everybody except me offering a gas-piston AR clone design, the criticisms of the gas piston versus direct gas impingement are emerging, and the most cogent I've heard is this: the direct impingement system applies force exactly along the axis of the bore, breechbolt, and bolt carrier. All are in balance.

A piston offsets that force above the bore axis, causing the bolt carrier to tilt and shave away the soft aluminum of the AR's receiver pieces. A full-auto pistonized AR will grind itself to swarf in one firefight. AKs, in comparison, have rails that guide the bolt carrier and bolt in the needed direction; the offset force harms nothing.

If I were a lunatic independently-wealthy tinkering gunsmith, I'd solve that problem by integrating a steel supporting rail in the roof of the upper receiver. It would take the place of the cocking piece, and probably still function as one. The face of the bolt carrier that takes the force of the gas piston (no longer a "key") would be shaped to ride in that rail, and would not come down out of that rail unless the rail itself were extracted from the upper. The rail would have ample room for lubrication and for the accumulation of chum for the happy soldier to clean away. The bolt carrier would then have little or no surface on it to bear against the inside of the upper receiver---the rail handles all of that. No damage to aluminum receiver.

Whether this configuration would continue to use the existing buffer spring, buffer and buffer tube assembly is still undecided. Maybe the bolt carrier can be carved up to make room for recoil springs that fit within the upper receiver, like on the para FAL?

20100426

TENUE CORRECTE EXIGEE

A Yank wearing a NASCAR T-shirt, jeans, and a ballcap should not be surprised to receive poor service in a restaurant that caters to Eurotrash.

You're gonna wait so long for your dessert that you'll have to go to the maitre d' to remind the establishment that you ordered it.

Just sayin'.

20100404

Oh, socialism, where is thy sting?

To paraphrase Dr Henry Jones, it wasn't until my oldest kid reached the age of 13 that they became interesting.

So over Easter dinner Firstborn, Mlle Sklodovska, Barbaloot and I compared the concepts of nationalism, Nazism (national socialism), and fascism.

There is no sting to equating ObamaCare (probably better called Reid/PelosiCare) with socialism. The word 'socialism' does not invoke the outrage, the indignation, that it once did when I was a boy.

Libertarians: don't bother. It won't get you traction with anyone whose help you'd welcome. You are surrounded by people who hope to start collecting wealth redistribution, via Social Security, sooner than you'll pay off your current car loan. The only outrage they will exhibit is if Sosh Scurty is depleted before they get theirs; by then it will be too late. Cries of 'socialism' today won't motivate them.

Besides, it isn't quite true. ObamaCare (SoetoroCare?) is not socialism, it's fascism.

Something the reader will have to look up. Next up, regulatory capture.

20100403

the matriarchy is oppressing me again (some (more) editing)

This in a comment at drhelen's, on a now famous post about how controlling pornography is an attempt to control men's sexuality.

It takes TWO people for a marriage to work. You will only get out whatever effort you put in.


Let me ask, "huh?" If you get out what you put in, regardless of what the other person of the two of you put in, what is the point of having the other person?

If it takes two people for a marriage to work (and assuming a he and a she in it), he will definitely not get out whatever he put in it, he will get out only what she put in. In the long run, she will not invest more than he does, nor he more than she did; but VB didn't say that. Would have been helpful if VB had.

What would it take, from the standpoint of a talented aphorist, to get these two proverbs to work together, in describing the effort to keep a marriage?

FWIW, drhelen and many of her commenters are conjecturing that the author of the article under scrutiny is a feminist harridan who froze her poor hubby out. That has a ring of truth to it, in a way that cuts very close to my own experience from 25 or so years ago.

Dr Anonymous, the article's author, seems to have taken an easy way to dismiss a serious problem, that He was addicted to Porn!, just as easy for drhelen's commenters to reply that Dr Anonymous was Frigid.

The truth is somewhere in between, I would guess, and really hinges on how well Dr Anonymous and Porn Addicted Husband communicated before she took on Frigid properties and he took on porn addict properties. It could have been averted.

20100320

Waste of ethics.

'Clause' for the day rather than 'quote' for the day. Sorry, that's the best I can muster.

What exactly would constitute a "waste of ethics"? In that ethics is self-approval in what one does not do, "waste of ethics" represents an exertion, an effort, an application of energy, to avoid doing what one's philosophy tells one not to do because the consequences (if discovered) are, um, existential. If your lapse is discovered, your reputation is forfeit. However, if you apply this effort and gain no return, is the effort wasted?

In short, can one look back on the effort one exerted to be ethical and deem it a failure or loss? Can one waste ethics?

My confusion elicits this post.

I happened upon that clause by following this chain: Bacchus to Susie Bright to a commenter at Susie Bright.

Warning: Joan Jett is involved. Don't tell Berke Breathed.

20100313

NRA Board of Directors 2010

This year I followed the recommendations of that there Snowflake guy.

With one exception. I voted for Bob Barr instead of Matt Blunt. In retrospect maybe I should have kept Gov Blunt because he led the reforms that made it lawful for me to CCW on my last trip to his State.

Oh well. I'll make up for that mild error by throwing some money to GOA.

20100306

Add Missouri

to the list of States where I have lawfully carried concealed.

20100225

So which is it?

On the one hand, it's going to be terrible, your son will have a violent alcoholic daddy, your wife will no longer recognize her ruined, spent and joyless man. Sackcloth and ashes:
There is unemployment, . . . and there is unemployment—chronic, all-consuming. The former is a necessary lubricant in any engine of economic growth. The latter is a pestilence that slowly eats away at people, families, and, if it spreads widely enough, the fabric of society. Indeed, history suggests that it is perhaps society’s most noxious ill.

On the other hand, we just didn't have enough confidence in what really works, we took our eyes off the ball, and we listened to the hucksters, disbelievers and naysayers, and we need to just buck up and smile:

When equity prices were falling in 2007 or 2008, the first time the market closed 10.0001 percent below its previous high, they were putting brightly colored banner headlines on television announcing the official onset of a bear market. But this didn't happen on the way up.

I'm confused.

Though as I read to the end of the gloomier article, the policy prescriptions therein have the ring of untruth. Gotta finish the cheerier article and come back.

how things have changed

I had to rent a car this week. In the compact lines, the only makes Alamo offered were Hyundai and Kia.

Back in the salad days of salarymanhood, they were always Buicks and Pontiacs. Earlier, they were Hertz Thunderbirds. Those days I stuck with one rental agency all the time, and usually rented mid-size then, but I still don't recall seeing Oriental imports on their lots at all in the late Nineties or early Aughts. Now they have crowded Murcan makes out the lowest rungs of the rental fleets as well as some prized places in luxury classes.

Not that I'm complaining, the compact handles competently if a little stiffly, and my favoritest-ever car was a Golf. Rental agencies surely have access to the numbers about durability, cost of ownership, and (ahem) brand loyalty. They wouldn't be renting Korean cars if it didn't make sense, and there were too many of them for it to be an experiment.

When did this happen, and where was I looking instead?

20100223

Actually I like Dan's better

Dan Hurwitz in Liberty, April 2007, p14:
What if Iraq were to model its new government not on the representative democracy of the United States, nor the parliamentary democracy of Great Britain, but rather the direct democracy of Switzerland? ... both are composed of fiercely independent, culturally diverse local communities......

The Swiss system is probably the most democratic on earth. It consists of a federal government and 26 semi-independent cantons (or states). The federal government — more properly called a confederation — provides a political umbrella guaranteeing individual rights, safeguarding property, and overseeing functions that are inherently national in scope, such as defense, public works, freedom of movement, and economic matters.


Your humble narrator, 4 years beforehand:

Don't try to build or rebuild a democratically governed Iraq. We should, instead, partition The Country Formerly Known as Iraq along those ethnic lines again. While the country is still reeling from its violent recovery from Saddam Hussein, we have the opportunity to draw some wide chalk lines on the map, to shove these people back into ethnic/religious cantons.


My submission was a lot weaker on the freedom of movement stuff and a bit more hawkish overall.

20100207

Quote from yesterday

In a free society, it is hard for 'good' people to do 'good,' but that is a small price to pay for making it hard for 'evil' people to do 'evil,' especially since one man's good is another's evil.


Milton Friedman

20100130

Layers of fact checkers

Boston Globe, in a story about the wardrobe choices of Senator Brown, R-MA:

Correction: Because of a reporting error, a story in today's "g" section about Senator-elect Scott Brown's barn jacket incorrectly implies that author Naomi Wolf advised Al Gore on his clothing choices during his 2000 presidential bid. Wolf consulted on women's policy issues for the Gore campaign.


Jessica Simpson mistakenly complementing the US Secretary of the Interior:

"I was introduced to the Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton, I said, 'I really like what you've done with the place.' I had no idea that she was a member of the Cabinet, not an interior decorator!"

20100123

the junkman prevails

My outfit was spring-cleaning not long ago, and a TrippLite PR40 was destined for the heap.

It's a 40-ampere DC power supply. Well, it was, but it wouldn't supply any DC recently, and it was part of a suite of electronics that had been forklift-upgraded anyway. The proponent of the forklift upgrade didn't ask for it to be turned in.

Your humble narrator chose to snag it instead of letting it go to the heap, because I need a supply for other amateur radio gear that comes along.

This supply had no output voltage at all. I opened it and took the regulated DC off of the final board. Bingo, 22VDC. The crowbar circuit on the final board was shorting the output to ground, as designed.

TrippLite does not offer schematic diagrams for its products. It offered to take this PR40 back and offer me a sweet deal on a refurbished PR40. Total with shipping (this units weighs about 30 pounds) would have been around $200.

I asked around on qrz.com and was told that, likely, there are 4 NPN power transistors in parallel that clamp raw dc down to 13.8VDC, and one of them is smoked. If I wanted to go the incremental route, first change the IC that was applying the bias to those 4 transistors. For comparable power supplies, like an Astron, there's an IC just to do that. The TrippLite does not use that part, but 3 of the 4 opamps on a quad IC instead.

The quad opamp came for about $10 shipped. That didn't do it, replacing the power transistors would come next. I parked this project in the man cave.

The project came back around on the lost-cause rotation, so I sought out a good price on 2N3771 in TO3 cans on eBay. Somebody took my Make An Offer offer, 4 of them plus shipping for under $10.

I put them in tonight. With their outputs still away from the final board, dammit the output voltage was still 22V.

I touched up the joints on the opamp pins and tried again. Still nope. As I started to pack the tools away, it occurred to me that the IC on the final board might not be able to bias the transistors to cut the raw dc down to the desired 13.8V, if the outputs of the transistors are not coupled to the final board.

With the regulator outputs connected to the final board, the output voltage settled at 13.86 or so VDC.

I assembled the supply as far back to factory as possible, and found that I needed a new way to insulate the output post from the cabinet. The original supply used a stack of plastic washers, which disintegrated as I disassembled the supply the first time.

I improvised a pair of insulators from scrap lexan, one inside and one outside the cabinet, with a dab of silicone caulk to keep the red post centered in its hole through the cabinet.

I'll go back inside in a few days and put a rubber O-ring around the red post to better center it in the hole so it doesn't short out.

So now we have a 40A regulated DC supply for about $20. And we also can hook on to the raw DC in this supply for DC of higher voltage than the pickup truck would provide, the next time there's some anodizing to do.

20100122

Strip the Supremes of 'their' clerks

Lawprof goodness:

The simplest solution would be to strip the Justices of all their clerks. We think such a step is unnecessarily radical. Instead, we propose that Congress reassign the clerks (perhaps in reduced numbers) to the staff of the Court’s Librarian. The Librarian would choose and supervise the clerks, who would not be permitted to draft legal opinions. . . our intent is not to punish the Court or its members, but to encourage the Court to operate more like a judicial body and less like an academic faculty cum super-legislature.


Guest bloggers at VC.

There's a parallel here with Members of Congress voting on laws they haven't read: judges deciding cases on the bases of research they haven't read, and expressing their decisions through rulings they didn't even write.

We often get our cause and effect reversed

Gallup today:
PRINCETON, NJ -- In the wake of Republican Scott Brown's victory in Tuesday's U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts, the majority of Americans (55%) favor Congress' putting the brakes on its current healthcare reform efforts


No, I think Gallup has it backwards, even exactly backwards. Because Americans disfavor current health care legislation, a Republican running against it won the U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts.

"In the wake of" is a sloppy way to write of cause and effect anyway. It implies sudden displacement rather than the steadily accumulating boilover that actually took place.

20100116

Quote for the day

Courtesy Radley Balko:

If only the media had as much contempt for lying, thieving, corrupt politicians as they do for sports stars who use steroids.

Some things are ageless

A reader at Instapundit notes:

I can’t think of any other transportation device, and very few machines of any kind, that can still function as a profit making business tool nearly 80 years after they were designed.


Emphasis mine. John Moses Browning's M1911 is still out there, profitably if you will. But it wasn't designed by committee.

The humble can opener really needs updating to the XXI Century.