More relevant than ever

Miles O'Brien:
. . . maybe we should just get it over with and fly like the fat, old French guys I see strolling around this little cute Caribbean town: in Speedos and plastic sandals.

What with Captain Underpants and a quote for today, I recall a post from the very earliest days of WUTT!

Those who would trade liberty for frequent traveler miles . . .

My prognostication failed in one respect: I figured travelers would be confined to their seats for the last 30 minutes of the flight, rather than 60.

The background check fee of $75 sounds a little outdated too.


Repeal the 17th

How many embarrassed Montanans would call their State legislature today to demand Max Baucus's resignation?

How many folks in Nebraska would like to recall Ben Nelson?

Well, they can't.

Just a thought.


homemade agitation videos against Obamacare

I'm contemplating borrowing the digital camcorder from work, and finding a few lab coats and doc-smocks, and hacking together a few low budget youtube commercials against Obamacare.

The pwogwessives did it to undermine GWB against Kerry, didn't they?

C'mon kids, get out your Flip camcorders and get crackin'!


there is life after the US Senate

Kimball via Instapundit:

"Nelson is a pathetic pawn in this game. He’s history and I hope he has plans for a new day job. He’ll need ‘em."

Actually, his prospects are rather bright for a lobbying job in DC, or a regulatory or Executive job in, er, . . . DC. He has shown his future clients that he knows how to hold out for a better deal. He also knows that the Tea Parties have a tough time converging on DC a) during a snowstorm and b) the last weekend before Christmas.

What Mr Kimball should be hoping for, in addition to an end to Nelson's career in the Senate, is that Nelson doesn't file amended tax returns for the last umpty-ump years.

Our only hope of limiting that man's future influence on or service in the Federal Government now lies in catching his fingers in the till, someway, somehow. He needs to be Daschled, good and hard and right the hell now.


Home parkerizing

Bettie Jean got the home parkerizing treatment. The parts kit from Sarco had some parts in need of a refinishing. Trigger guard and housing in particular. Before:

Brownell's Zinc Phosphate was the source, though I read of some hardcore DIY people who will cook their own from concrete etch solution and steel wool. I wanted zinc because of the gray appearance. Most of the rest of Bettie Jean's furniture is done in zinc already, and in good shape.

I cooked the parts in the parkerizing bath in a Pyrex casserole from the Goodwill store, heated on a Coleman camp stove. After 15 minutes of immersion, I rinsed the part off with hot water from a 30-cup coffeemaker (damned handy item) then shot it with WD40 while it was still hot. After that, I wiped off then blew off with compressed air all the WD40 I could, and bathed the part in vegetable oil.


Next up, the gas cylinder and rearmost of the op rod.


Cops and non-lethal weapons

If you object to the use of non-lethal weapons by police (as I do) then pop over to this post at Volokh.

The post examines legislative presumptions about the right to use force, lethal or nonlethal, in self defense, it isn't really about stun-guns in use by cops per se; I do want to see EV take that topic on, though, and if enough knowledgable commenters show up he might take the hint.



A fresh batch of kim chi is slowly fermenting in the fridge, waiting for the garden boxes to be turned over for the winter. The glass jar will move out there when the zucchini is pulled out and the winds blow cold.

Meanwhile, a teaspoonful of the brine of this kimchi is a nice addition to a martini, in lieu of the olives and their brine. That is, if you are into that sort of thing.

One full head of napa cabbage starts it off. Sterilize the gallon glass jar you found at WalMart. Two tablespoons of kosher salt are scattered among the fresh, rinsed and chopped cabbage, with its heart pared out. A gallon ziploc bag of sterile water is laid on top of the cabbage after its outside has been sterilized, and sterile water added around that bag so all the cabbage is submerged.

Two days later, lift out the ziploc bag, and set it aside on a clean surface. Drain the cabbage through a strainer, saving much of the brine, letting the last cup or so of brine fall back into the jar.

Then add finely minced red Fresno peppers, garlic, ginger root, and (for me) shaved carrot. Bring the cabbage back in, and mix, then cover again with the bag. Add only enough brine back to cover all the vegetables again. Refrigerate again.

Let her rip.

inverted V dipole

I'm hacking one, from CPVC, aluminum electric fence line, and .080-inch string trimmer line. Strung from two trees on the ranchito, in a roughly North-South orientation.
The angle of the vee is about 135 degrees.

It's not as high as I'd like, only about 3 feet above the ridgeline of the house, but that makes it easier to reach until it's tuned and I've wound a balun for the feedline.

My MFJ207 says it shows 3-plus-to-1 VSWR at 14.285 MHz, and bottoms out at 1.1:1 or so at 15.75 MHz. The balun goes on next, and a longer permanent feedline, and some more hardware so the CPVC feedpoint comes off without untying trimmer line. Then get that pup about 10 feet higher up, which involves ladder work on the trees.

I'll tune this better to 20-meters by reducing the angle (the guy points for the poles stay where they are, while the feedpoint rises) then later by cutting length off the two poles.

Let's see how this stands up against Wyoming's wind. Twas a bit breezy today and feedpoint was relatively stable.


Gets me to wondering

Dave Hardy notes that this week will be interesting for Supreme Court handling of cases that bear on the RKBA.

Thursday, the Ninth Circuit rehears Nordyke en banc. The following Tuesday, the Supremes vote on whether they'll grant cert to the Chicago cases.

Is not the Nordyke rehearing public, therefore covered by the media? I wonder whether the Supremes will, discreetly, read transcripts of the Nordyke hearing, and would Nordyke, in turn, influence any Justices to hear or not hear the Chicago cases? Nordyke, after all, contains in dicta an argument that the Second is incorporated upon the States.

Have we been in similar circumstances before, where a Circuit is hearing (or rehearing) a case that bears very directly on another case for which the Supreme Court is weighing cert?

"Interesting times" indeed. Civil rights era? Abolition of slavery? Hell, even abortion?

Rather concise

David Bernstein, at the ever-relevant VC:

The Supreme Court, institutionally, does not like to be exposed on controversial issues without any support from the political branches. The most ideological Justices (e.g., Thomas) may not care, but the swing voters do.

That kinda cinches it.

Update: Ilya Somin weighs in.
The most ideologically committed justices (e.g. - Thomas) might be willing to take the risk. But the moderates won't.

Then what's the purpose again of lifetime appointment and all the other bennies that come with the Supreme Court appointment?

Dude, where's my independent judiciary?


Tongue in cheek

SteveF, tongue firmly in cheek at DailyPundit:

As any manager or politician can tell you, you’re not important unless you tell other people what to do. Scientists, engineers, mechanics, and other people who work with their hands are all interchangeable.

God, it feels that way.

As a mere sprout reading my Dad's Popular Mechanics, I recall the fullpage ad, black and white, grainy and gritty, of clenched hands dramatically lit on perfect black background: "the future belongs to those who are willing to get their hands dirty."

I described this ad, and its sentiment, to a salaryman manager type in my salaryman days. He smirked at me as if I had been wearing a clip-on tie. I never liked that guy anyway.

Instead of telling my sons that they should know how to change oil, sharpen a knife, keep a backhoe from falling into the hole dug with it, or turn an animal he shot into a stack of meat wrapped for the freezer, should I tell them they must master telling other men to do these things for them?


Had to cut somewhere

Unread newsmagazines have been piling up in Chez Fûz since before this weblog was even born. I used to board a plane for somewhere almost weekly, thus having an uninterrupted block of 3+ hours twice a week to plow through my favorites. Those days are over.

Also, with the intertubes commonly available in the lodgings of choice these days, there's more incentive to read what's interesting online.

The weblog didn't help either: I have a hell of a lot more to say, on the basis of what I read, and far more of a means to say it, compared to October of 2001.

The sainted Spousal Unit has noticed and reminds me frequently. She is limiting where she allows the unread magazines to pile up, and threatens to pitch them. Sorry, that's not acceptable. I keep all of them, they are boxed in my basement.

But I had to cut somewhere. Reason, American Rifleman, American Spectator, Liberty, and Wired (links on the right). The scrip to Liberty lapsed about two years ago, and I miss it.

Reason gets the cover-to-cover treatment and always satisfies. American Rifleman gets a quick browse (who else is making a 1911 clone, or an AR clone, this month?) then into the packing box.

In AmSpec, I'll skip an article if not captivated two or three paragraphs in, and I haven't read Ben Stein bitching about his spoiled son for at least three years. Still I won't give it up.

Wired began arriving at my home very shortly after Condé Nast picked it up. They excited, they stimulated. They had the quirky sense of humor, they had weird typography and novel graphics. But they seem to have gotten completely into the tank for The Won, settling into the warm KoolAid quickly but painstakingly without splashing (ooooo, what will he do without a Blackberry?). It should have been obvious from how they front-cover adored Ahhnold the Governator. Praising some Microsoft executive as a visionary for suggesting that Office will become a subscription-basis application suite? I'll be visionary for letting my subscription to Wired lapse.

Besides, Wired is the absolute worst for packaging and advertising. My first duty upon handling a magazine is removing the blow-ins, glue-ins, and bind-ins, and Wired took the longest.

It's not the money, y'all. I'll probably replace Wired with a renewed scrip to Liberty, if they're still in business (and order the back issues I've missed), and the monthly journal for the American Radio Relay League. It will cost me every bit as much casheesh as Wired won't be getting from me any more.

What Wired content I need I will follow as a link posted by somebody else. I read more Wired that way than on paper today anyway.

It was a hard choice. Too bad.


new player

The cheap little 8GB ChiPod disgusts. After the file names started looking like Old English runes, and the files themselves elicited "Format error!" after six or eight deletions and reloads, I've given up on it. Now it won't even boot up.

And taken up a new player. Cowon, whoever they are, offer the iAudio M5, packing a 20GB hard drive, and all the codecs that my beloved iRiver i120 used to, even Ogg.

There are yet more similarities between the M5 and the i120, but two very nice differences: it is about 2/3 the weight of the i120, and about a sixth the price, unadjusted for inflation.

There's a stack of them for $57 each in the BX at Andersen AFB. I'll wager this ride is discontinued. I would very much like to find the remote and the dock for it, but don't want to spend as much for them as I did for the player itself.


another fine vendor

All of Bill Quick's SHTF ruminations remind me of Honeyville Grain. Into the blogroll with them!

If I had a Mormon bishop's store nearer to me, I'd be shopping there to stock up on certain items before H1N1 hits. But I don't, and Honeyville fills the void.

Honeyville packs some very good staple foods in well-sized packages. When the shipping is considered, the prices are good, I think. We've ordered nothing larger than 5# cans, but we may be about to. The Big Brown Truck is happy to drop it off.

Whole grains, TVP, freeze-dried fruits, dehydrated dairy and egg products. Go browse. I found them while searching for bulk red wheat.


in context, not a bad price

7.62mm NATO ball ammo for under a dollar a round. Reloadable.

Not a bad price considering, well, a bloody shortage. Ctrl-F down the page for "Igman."


a new Iwanna

Something else to add to the list of things I lust for.

A Crankandstein grain mill. Just the guts, I'll build the rest. It can be chucked into an electric drill. But I'd really want a flywheel hand crank. SHTF y'know.


Where next?

The TEA Parties are delightfully morphing into an agile protest machine. Two developments in particular.

One, they are organizing to appear in response to key legislation---Obamacare in particular---on key dates.

Two, they are appearing as counterprotestors to spoil the protests of opposing groups.

This shows agility. But both of these developments are still reactive, and as the general said, we need to recover the Initiative. It's great to have the shorter OODA loop than your opponent, but we need to take the fight to him. He wins who chooses where and when to fight.

The TEA Party I've attended so far is organized consciously and deliberately with the goal of restoring Federalism, and they strive to defer any other goals, alliances, or identifications that could detract from that one.

So where next? The next likely Federal holiday that will release us proletarians from our yokes long enough to appear on the Capitol steps is, er, Labor Day? Well, I guess that could work. Veterans' Day? That's too long.

I think Obamacare still presents a fat target. If Congress truly has deferred any further work on nationalizing medical care until after the August recess, at best that means Obamacare sponsors and lobbyists will be redoubling their efforts through that recess to get a New Improved Obamacare proposal ready for the first hour of the first day Congress is back.

That leaves TEA Partiers only that long to turn their momentum into Initiative, using Federalism as the frame of reference because that's what TEA Parties do (at least the TEA Party apparatus here in Cheyenne).

Well then, what is the Federalism nexus for nationalized medical care? The straightforward Tenth Amendment argument isn't enough: "They can't be allowed to move all of us into a single-payer system because the Constitution doesn't assign them that power!!!" I can hear the crickets already, especially with an electorate that put Obama in power. Even if disapproval of Obama is at its most plangent, arguing to do nothing, or to let the Federal government do nothing, rings flat and hollow.

So perhaps this: we can agree with President Obama that the current trend in medical care costs is untenable. Sure. But we can also argue, taking the initiative and taking the streets, that everything about the current system that makes it untenable can be traced back to the government, at some level.

Take away the Obamacare argument that the free market is failing in health care. We don't have a free market in health care, and we haven't since World Ware II.

Take away the Obamacare argument that CEOs get Cadillac plans while the working blokes get laid off and have no plans. Corporate income taxes made both ends of that stick possible, by connecting medical care to employment.

And so forth.

The signs won't be easy to write, but that can be trusted to all of us dollar-a-day working blokes who have to shoulder the payment otherwise. We've done the sign-making very well so far. The TEA Party movement just needs to call in the signs and the loudspeakers, and find a place and time for the lawnchairs.

Meanwhile, we need to cover a few flanks. What other legislative or executive fronts will President Obama open up to improve his chances on medical care? Back to cap-and-trade? Another stimulus?

You are entitled to be angry

I'm the bastard who bids on all that stuff on eBay with at least 5 days to go in the auction.

Sure, I'd buy the item for $19.99 if the remaining 5 days, 19 hours and 43 minutes pass with no other bids for a $600 weather station. You would too. But some other bastard will notice, and because he has no job and no life, he'll hang out, watching and waiting, and snipe it. Or he'll steal hours and internet bandwidth from his employer to do it.

So I feel obligated to bid, just to pump the price up earlier and summon karmic justice for the sniper's employer. Call it amusement, call it sour grapes, call it pissing in the well.

Seriously, I would respect eBay a lot more if they adopted gunbroker's 15-minute rule.


Sorry, Chucklef^ck, you have it exactly backwards

"If you walk down the street in New York ... you can have the solace of knowing that if someone has a gun on them they've gone through a rigorous police background check. After this bill, you can have no such comfort," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday.

No, Senator Chuckie, you really should have said, "If you walk down the street in New York ... you can have the solace of knowing that if someone has a gun on them they are either a hardened career criminal, or a dozy celebrity who has paid off a City official."

You bastard. Not that you spend a lot of time 'walking down the street in New York' instead of riding a limo in DC. If only you had to live, work, and move about in the same helplessness you force on your own constituents.


about the kit

Bill Quick is floating the idea of amateur radio gear for post-apocalyptic San Francisco.

This is what we have in Chez Fûz, geared towards mobile QRP.

Yaesu FT817ND, a 2.5/5 W transceiver that runs every band from 160m to 70cm, except 1.25m and Weather.

A Buddistick HF antenna that I'm still figuring out.

An LDG Z100 autotuner that I'm hacking various other antennae for.

A couple sealed lead-acid batteries that will keep the 817 running for a couple of days between charges.

It's cool for me, Bill will probably want something else.


Cowboy TEA Party pics

I'd say there were 300 people in Cheyenne today in front of the Capitol.

Many of the Usual Suspects attended.

Revolutionary War Veterans' Association

HR 1207, Audit the Fed

Harley Riders

The Tyranny Response Teams are still around.

Several Gadsden flags

The was a speaker for Oathkeepers. Another speaker is a regular morning talk host here, Dave Chaffin.

In all, this TEA Party had a core message and kept hammering on it: the lack of meaningful Tenth Amendment protection. Kudos to the organizers, Cowboy TEA Party. Lisa Ray has been out in front with this effort, especially on the air.

Downside: there are some folks circulating a petition to form a Tea Party, as in political party. I think that's a mistake. The TEA Party organizers take pains to point out that the organizers of the political party are not connected to the TEA Party, and they're pissed about it.

I saw little of the mainstream media at this event. There were certainly some pros with heavy cameras, but I didn't see any credentials or brands on them. No TV coverage I could see, and this market has at least one station with an ENG vehicle up to the task. Their front webpage shows zip about the TEA Party.


Surely he considers himself an educated man

. . . but an error such as this annoys me:

"not even one black firefighter could have been promoted based on the results of the original exam"

The damnable serial past participle. Could he not have recast that sentence?

"could have been promoted on the basis of the results of": clumsy, I'll admit, with daisy-chained prepositions.

"could have been promoted on the results of": is ecoomical and leaves little doubt of the meaning.

It's vexing. Soon enough this construction will be accepted usage.


Reward builders rather than traders

" . . . we need to scrap shareholder value theory entirely. When it expires, so will stock-based compensation, and in due course, we will get back to rewarding builders more than traders."

" . . . executive compensation should have no component of stock-based compensation at all. Compensation should be based entirely on real-market measures such as revenues, profits, and return on book equity."

Undermining staying power: The role of unhelpful management theories

Eulogy for an old friend

We first met in August, 24 years ago. I was fresh and optimistic; it was stoic and business-like. Yet we needed each other. $202.56 was a princely sum at the time, with me being a starving student and all. But school -- real school this time -- started in a couple weeks and I needed reliability that three generations of Texas Instruments hadn't given me. As I'm wont to do in the case of an expensive decision, I hemmed-n-hawed, made a few phone calls asking for advice, and, finally, capitulated to what I knew was the right decision. On August 16th, 1985, a shiny-new Hewlett Packard 41CV Scientific Calculator came home with me.

If memory serves, most, if not all, HP calculators of that era used Reverse Polish Notation. RPN was touted as being more efficient for the entry of long, complex formulas, especially when intermediate results where necessary elsewhere in the equation. Back in my Salad Days, though, I hadn't a clue how that would be helpful. I also didn't have a clue how to do RPN. Having been brought up using algebraic calculators, it was more than a few days before the lightbulb came on. That's because what had to happen first was to develop an understanding of what a "stack" was. Upon diving into the user's manual, I learned that the 41CV had a stack that was four entries deep. Huh?? Further research was in order.

Turns out a stack was an "automatic" way to store succesive data entries. Unlike many new terms I would become familiar with, "stack" was actually rather descriptive. Think of it as a spring-loaded cafeteria plate storage unit. As plates are added to the stack, the spring "automatically" reacts to the additional weight, dropping down a bit and keeping the new plates (roughly) at the same level as the previous plates. When a plate is removed from the top, the spring, now slightly less burdened, pushes the remaining plates upward for the next person to remove. In technical terms, this is known as a LIFO structure: last-in, first-out. It's embarrassing to say, but it took a while for this concept to sink in as it related to a calculator. But it did. And when it did, understanding RPN came quickly thereafter.

And it was beautiful!

I quickly became an RPN junkie. An RPN elitist. An RPN whore. And the 41CV was my enabler. To this day, I find algebraic calculators to be clumsy and, excuse me for saying so, proletarian. But the RPN wasn't the only thing contributing to my bigotry. The 41CV had it all, it seemed. Tactile keys. 100 memory locations. A (semi-)intuitive programming language. A plug-in module that contained programs for curve fitting, root finding, and basic matrix manipulations. And it was built like a Merkava tank. Unlike the disappointing TI-55s of my past, this thing Got It Done. Again and again and again. I was in calculator heaven! Newer and shinier HPs came along with their fancy graphics and overkill 32K memory, but I wasn't tempted in the slightest. Being the Luddite that I am, I figured that if the 41CV couldn't do, it probably wasn't worth doing.

We stuck together like glue. Tucked safely in its own ALICE pack pocket, the CV was dragged from class to class and braved year-round motorcycle commuting, exposed to the gamut of Maryland weather conditions. Rarely did a day go by that world-changing calculations didn't take place. From the mundane square-root-of-two, to the multi-term Practical Operational Amplifier formula, we did it all. Complex variable manipulations, crude Runge-Kutta-based projectile trajectories, multi-joint truss stress matrices, and countless "final numerical results" for everything from simple integrals to PID controllers to mind-boggling State Space systems. For five years of undergraduate electrical engineering classes, two years of half-hearted -- and incomplete -- graduate degree studies, and nearly 20 years of paid, on-the-job work, it stayed with me, a trustworthy, reliable assistant.

But about a year ago, things started to change in the CV. Unexplained shut-downs in mid-equation. Refusal to turn on. Intermittent lock-ups. One time I extracted the CV from its case and it was hot. And I mean hot! I had used it about an hour earlier and had shut it off faithfully as I'd done thousands of times before. But it wouldn't turn on. In a panic, I pulled the battery pack and let things cool for a bit. I cleaned up the (already clean) battery contacts, reinserted the pack, and it resurrected itself. But that moment was a turning point, for it was never the same afterwards. Reliability was sketchy. Battery life dropped to nil. New batteries that had easily lasted a year or more before were now lasting but two weeks. Finally, fresh batteries weren't enough. We crunched our last numbers together sometime back in November. I'm sure it was a simple muzzle energy calculation; I wish I could remember exactly. Since then, it's been sitting in the top drawer of my desk, looking no different than any other time in its life. But it is dead. If calculators have souls, I hope the CV's has gone to a place worthy of its contributions. It certainly earned it.

I recently replaced the CV with a newer HP calculator: a 35s.

So far, it's been fine. The keypad layout is different but my fingers are learning to trace the new patterns on their own. The keys have the familiar tactile feel and it is, needless to say, RPN. I'll begrudgingly admit that I like the two-line display. I helps me remember what's in the second spot on the the stack, aka, the Y-register. The temporary memory structure is (strangely) alpha-based, not numeric-based like the CV. Additional memory is available thru indirect addressing, which I'll have to experiment with. But it lacks the reassuring heft of the 41CV and the jury's still out on the pixelated display.

I don't know yet if the 35s has a soul or not. I don't feel especially enamored with it like I did the day I first brought home the 41CV, and every day thereafter. The 35s is perfectly functional and I suppose it will serve me well. But I doubt very seriously that the challenges we face in the future will bring us together in the same way the past did with the CV41 and me. Perhaps it's not so much the thing itself as it is the shared experiences.

I miss you my old friend. RIP...

The Cabinet Man


Haaaaaiiiiil to power and to glory's way

What should come up on the shuffle of my ChiPod this morning at PT but Gentle Giant's album, The Power and The Glory?

Quite appropriate for our Hopey Changey President, I think.


A Clinton appointee is now a right-wing extremist?

Judge Gould writes in Nordyke v King, quoted here:

. . . the right to bear arms is a protection against the possibility that even our own government could degenerate into tyranny, and though this may seem unlikely, this possibility should be guarded against with individual diligence.

Careful, Your Honor, you're now on Secretary Napolitano's radar.


My BAG Day Score

I'm ashamed to admit that I've missed every Buy-A-Gun (BAG) Day since its inception. I've never been one to wait around to buy something to commemorate a particular event. But that's not true this year! (Sorta'...) Even if it was an "semi-unintentional" BAG buy -- and I had to sell a gun to get it -- I will assume still earn a BAG point. (And besides, even if I did sell a gun to get this one, somebody else enjoyed his BAG Day, too!)

I present to you a Smith and Wesson Model 18, circa 1980.

The revolver came with horribly mismatched target grips and while they were aesthetically pleasing (when viewed from only one side by someone with a short visual memory), they didn't really fit the hand very well. So I bolted on the Hogue rubber grips to match my 625 and 325 and all is good.

The back-story is that I'd been looking for a Model 63 on Gunbroker for going on a year. A few NIBs had gotten past me when I was short on funds and that ratcheted up the frustration factor. Then for a good two months, no 63s of note appeared for sale. An apparent drought.

Then while logging my daily read over at Tam's site, I was informed of something I'd never heard of: a Model 18 Combat Masterpiece. Really? A K-frame 22? Really? How had this gone unnoticed by me all these years? I admit that part of my lusting for a Model 63 was because of its stainless steel construction................, but a K-frame 22?

Oh, I had to have one. Off to Gunbroker.

I lost out on a nicely priced 98% Model 18 when the seller ignored my inquiries and another more daring buyer hit the "Buy Now" button. (The seller had two pictures in the ad and one was obviously not of a Model 18.) I went to the LGS and inquired about the "Classic" reissue of the Model 18 that S&W has out. $900 and indeterminate back-order duration. Unacceptable.

So back to Gunbroker. There was quite a disparity in "going price" for the listed Model 18s. Some of the rode hard and put away wet models were going for ~$450 but I just didn't like what I was seeing.* A few models were advertised as NIB or 100% -- and built before I was born -- but they were in the $1000+ range. I know that vintage Smiths are currently overpriced being sold at what the market will bear and I didn't want to contribute (too much) to that trend. One Model 18 stood out as being in 98% condition and (relatively) reasonably priced. I agonized over it for about 12 hours and did the "Buy Now" thingy.

One week later, I had it in hand. I took it to the range the same day to test it out. Unfortunately, the tornado force winds we'd been having for the better part of a week didn't give me as many warm-fuzzies about the data as I'd have liked. All things considered, though, it did well at 25 yards and at first blush, appears nearly as accurate as my Mark II 22/45, which up to this point has been the standard bearer for 22 handgun accuracy in my meager collection thereof. But until I can get out there under "normal conditions", I won't know its true accuracy.

So my old Mini-14 has a new home and I'm the happy owner of yet another Smith, one that I didn't even know about three weeks ago.


* Gunbroker should have a mandatory photography tutorial for its sellers. If nothing else, people, Google "macro lens" fercrissakes and learn how to use one. Lighting, too. I'm by no means an expert photographer but I can get a useful and informative gun pic out of my measly 4M-pixel Canon. I'm jealous of folks like Tam that have decent-sized gun shows locally. They can see/fondle first hand the goodies that are up for sale and not have to rely on someone else's (sub-)amateur photography skills. Why Colorado gun shows are an insult to the genre, I'll never know...


quote for the day

"I tend to get angry, dealing with deadbeats, but you know, that’s where a lot of the money is. Why I love America a whole damn lot - tons of money is just tied up with morons."

Scott Chaffin


Add Florida

to the list of States where I've CCW'd.


As close as I've ever come to batshit unhinged in public

I once had a company car. I was given a list of eligible models and a max price, and told to pick one and get the office manager to order it for me. Had to be domestic, had to be 4-door with good interior trim and a sound system. It would be used to take my customers out for entertainment.

It was delivered about two weeks later, and it came with a fuel card. I didn't pay for the gas to put in it either.

When I was briefed on how it was to be used, and how I was to report its value on my income tax returns, it was clear that corporate tax laws made the whole racket possible. I took customers out to lunch in it perhaps twice.

That racket came rushing back to me this morning, painfully and frighteningly. I seriously was screaming at the radio in my dash, slogging along Pershing Boulevard on my way to work.

This is why: NPR ran the story of GM's car perk program.

Some mewling would-be saint mewled, "we don't get fwee caws. We don't get fwee gas. Why should they get fwee cawws and fwee gas?"

I was shocked by how forcefully and spontaneously the rage leapt from me. Drivers in the lanes beside me turned and looked.

"Bawney Fwank gets a fwee caww. He gets a fucking dwivewww. He pwobabwy even gets a secuwwity detaiww. AND SPEAKEWWW PEWWOSI DEMANDS A FUCKING GUWWWFSTWEEAM!!! FWOM MY AIWWWW FOWWWCE!!!"

Congress made this. Congress made it possible. And I am more angry about it than I would have admitted 12 hours ago.


This snip from this post at Volokh Conspiracy reminds me:

There is no need to romanticize Clinton. Government growth was constrained on his watch in part because his worst instincts were checked by a Republican Congress, and he in turn checked theirs. As a general rule, divided government leads to limited government.

President Obama appears to me not so much an evil man who smooth-talked his way into "the most powerful office in the world", rather as a convenient patsy shoved into the job by the real evildoers elated to have him at their disposal. (Yes, I mean Congress.)

Mind you, if you look at Barack Obama the law professor, Barack Obama the community organizer, or Barack Obama the Illinois legislator, I concede he looked pretty evil. But today he is merely a conduit for someone else's evil. They pull the strings. He twitches.

I don't particularly miss Bill Clinton's presidency. But I adored the bowel-voiding hysteria of 1994 when the Democrat majority in Congress vanished overnight, and I got a few good chuckles from the divided government that followed.

Given that President Obama seems unable to tie his shoes without some wisp of approval or direction from his handlers in Congress, what sort of President would he be, and over what sort of America (and American economy) would he preside, if 2010 swept his present handlers out of power?

Congress has been the problem all along. If we want to solve the problem, it's not the Presidency we should seek to influence. We need to change the way things are done in Congress.


Evidence, if you demanded it . . .

. . . that the recipient of 12 years of government schooling, plus a 4-year baccalaureate degree qualifying one for law school, plus law school itself, can still be embarrassingly illiterate:

I’m am [sic] Mr. (x)’s lawyer. This case is currently on appeal. You are not the prosecutor, the judge or a forensic expert. You have noted contacting several people who are potential witnesses in the case and who will be called as witnesses later on in an evidentiary hearing. As a lawyer you should no [sic] that you have no business talking to witnesses when you are not a party to this case. Cease immediately or I will file an ethics complaint with your state bar.... You are a memeber [sic] of the general public you have no right to be demanding that this child’s autopsy or medical records be turned over to you. Again you are neither the DA or the JUdge [sic] in this case.

The [sic]'s are not mine. Found at Volokh Conspiracy.

This is the output of someone practicing law. Would you want this attorney representing you?

Sadly, this attorney is responsible for the defense of someone who was convicted with the help of 'evidence' generated by a charlatan regularly targeted by Radley Balko, whom I admire.


Meet Bettie Jean

Bettie Jean arrived. I've had the receiver, a Grade B Springfield from Civilian Marksmanship Program, for about 2 years. The barrel is a New Criterion from Midway. The rest of the parts came in a cosmoline-jammed bag from Sarco. Will tell you later how they all came together, but they did just yesterday and here's the first bearskin-rug photo of her.

TCM: I've proved myself wrong. Bobbie Jo the Grendel was supposed to be done first, my bad. Once Bettie Jean got into qualified hands, well, she just happened.

She's still not quite done, there will be some Eliza-Doolittle-style improvements to be made to her. But she's here.


Blade-Tech and Mojo: Help me to help you!!

I don't know how many of our four dedicated readers are involved in the day-to-day operations of a business, so here's a little tip: the sweetest money-maker any company can have is a product they already make that suddenly has a new application. Just crank up the marketing machine and start selling!!

This post is about two products I've found that work wonderfully outside their advertised "envelope" but I can't seem to get their manufacturers on-board with their newly-widened market, however narrow it might be. I have the greatest respect for these two companies and I've spent hundreds of dollars on their products. But my efforts to inform these folks of these newfound applications have fallen on deaf ears. So I'm going straight to the masses with this information, marketing departments be damned!!

Our first exhibit is a Blade-Tech Kydex inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster for my Taurus Tracker M44C. The M44C is a 5-shot revolver with a 2-1/2" barrel. The Tracker frames are mid-sized, kinda' like the S&W L-frames. Finding a holster for this revolver has been more than a bit frustrating; finding an IWB even more so. I have numerous Blade-Tech holsters and I thought maybe a quick call to their customer service would result in a score. They told me that the Taurus frame was incompatible with anything made by S&W and that I was pretty much out of luck. Hmmmm.....

I'm not gonna' say I didn't believe them but I was skeptical. Having more dollars than sense, I figured I'd roll the dice and order one anyway, despite what they told me. On the fitment pull-down, I selected a S&W 686 (L-frame) and set the barrel length to 2-1/2". I crossed my fingers, hit 'buy now', and proceeded to wait about four weeks.

(See how I just saved you four weeks of waiting?? You can thank me later...)

And it finally arrived. With barely controlled anticipation, I ripped open the package from Blade-Tech and, with all eleven fingers crossed, dropped the M44C into the IWB. Perfect fit. Perfect. Fit.

I quickly shot-off an e-mail to Blade-Tech to let them know that there's a revolver they can add to their IWB fitment pull-down.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. No e-mail response. No added revolver. Nuthin'. What's a guy gotta' do??

Next up, Mojo. These folks make aftermarket ghost ring (peep) sights for a decently-wide selection of Euro mil-surp rifles. I have a Mojo on damned near every Mosin, Mauser, AK, and SKS I own. They're great and I love'em!!

Well, a few years back, I bought one of those Romanian ROMAK PSLs. (Don't dare call it a Dragunov in my presence. I was the proud owner of a real Dragunov for a few years and the PSL isn't even close.) I was one of those unfortunate souls to have bought a PSL with the caddywampus scope rail. With the scope in place, it hangs off to the left and points downward. Getting it zeroed at 100 yards meant cranking the elevation turret to the point where the reticle was very nearly at the top of its range of adjustment. And when the rounds were finally on paper, it wasn't terribly accurate. It was ugly, folks. Really ugly.

I'd made up my mind to sell it but had an idea. I'd never shot it with its iron sights and I wondered how it'd do. I had a Mojo Micro-Click that I'd ordered for an AK that I'd just sold and, on a whim, set myself to installing it on the PSL. It dropped in place just as easily as it would have installed on an AK.

I took the PSL to the range the next day and I'll be damned if it didn't shoot better than it had when the scope was installed!! In fact, it groups almost as well as my Mojo-equipped Finn-Mosin M39s. No way was I gonna' sell it now. I dumped the scope into the bottom of the gun-junk drawer and never looked back.

Mojo's fitment page mentioned nothing about the AK sight fitting the PSL. Again, I banged-out an e-mail and sent it off. At least Mojo responded with a 'thanx' and indicated that they'd research the matter, post haste.

Nuthin'. [sigh...]

Now don't get me wrong -- I'm not trying to bad-mouth these two companies. They make great kit and I'm sure I'll continue to fund their kids' college educations be buying more of their stuff. But they need to pay attention to what their customers tell them. Granted, I haven't done the equivalent of opening the Orient to their products but selling a few dozen (hundred?) more line items oughtta' be worth the effort it takes to add a couple lines of text to their web-sites. Sheesh.

So, there you have it. If you shoot a PSL with iron sights or you're looking for a Kydex IWB holster for your Tracker M44C, Mojo and Blade-Tech have you covered, respectively. Just don't look to them to tell you about it.



Thank Senator Enzi, updated

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., joined fellow senators to accept nearly 70,000 petitions from Americans who are against spending nearly $1,200,000,000,000.00 in the trillion dollar spending bill the Senate is debating.
"The American people are telling me and my colleagues to stop spending money we don’t have for programs we don’t need. I hear them loud and clear. . . . "

So thank him right away and keep thanking him.

So now, Senator, how about real economic stimulus? Stop taxing corporate income, end corporate welfare, stop imposing tax compliance costs on corporations, get the Federal Government out of the medical market, and let every Tom, Dick and Harry know exactly what the FedGov is costing them today, with every candy bar, stalk of celery, and stick of lumber.

Time for the national retail sales tax. Trash the income tax for businesses and individuals. The Obama Administration should jump at the chance to turn the income tax liability spotlight away from their nominees.

Though, having read the book, I would make some adjustments:
  • no FairTax levied against college tuition? Bullshit.
  • Paying the prebate to a Social Security number? Bullshit. Apply in person, prove your citizenship or immigration status and your age, receive a randomly-assigned identifying number that has no relation to SS, and reapply every year, certifying the whole thing top to bottom every time. Or no prebates for you.
  • Keep the prebates the same whether you live in Chicago or Cheyenne. This tax structure must not subsidize highly-taxed jurisdictions like the present one does.
  • Borrow a page from Charles Murray and keep the prebates as flat as possible, whether the payee has only himself or herself to support, or x number of dependents.
  • Borrow the whole book from Murray. As the Federal Government becomes more solvent, let us phase various targeted spending programs out and direct that money into the prebates instead. We can't go to The (Murray) Plan in full right away, but the FairTax can point us in that direction.


Update, Grendel

I touched up the serial numbers on my KTO lower for the Grendel. Acetone removed the adhesive holding the template on the receiver.

Then a short turn in the sandblaster, and a brief immersion in dilute sodium hydroxide to open up the aluminum's pores.

Then I rigged up an anodizing bath as described by tomh. Sulfuric acid was available at the auto parts store, and much cheaper than I expected. The voltage was provided by the pickup truck. Aluminum rod threaded into the pistol grip screw hole suspended the lower in the bath and away from the cathode. A piece of roll flashing served as cathode.

Now the part is being boiled in distilled water to close the pores up and finish hardening the anodized layer.

Tomorrow maybe the teflon-moly treatment, and then I can assemble the lower half of the Grendel on it. All the remaining parts are here and frankly they're kinda pissed I haven't put them all together yet.


next notebook killer, f'sher, improved

Still waiting for a notebook killer that merges a real computer with PDA. Ain't there yet but with the rise of sub-$200 netbooks, we're getting closer.

As some phones have gone touchscreen, other phones are adding unusable miniature QWERTY or pseudoQWERTY keyboards. I can't read the fine print on the keys.

I dislike them both, mostly because they both feature QWERTY keyboards, with or without the keys as moving parts. I can outrace either with Graffiti on a Palm, as long as I'm racing only myself.

So let's see, ummmmm, PalmOne roll out a computer-heavy smartphone with a screen that reads Graffiti. No flip-open with screen above and keyboard below: just screen.

Let Wacom help with the screen, stylus, and enhancements to the handwriting interface, say with ctrl, alt, right click, and other keys wrapped around the edges of the plate and accessible by the holding hand. The dominant hand is free to wield a stylus that supports click and delete functions like those of Wacom tablets. Keep fingerprints and cosmetics off the screen, please.

Rework a light but serious OS---a Linux flavor maybe---to accept Graffiti input from a stylus, and still sense a QWERTY keyboard if and when attached. Let OpenOffice or Sun port their office productivity suite aboard, with ducts for Graffiti input.

Package a phone module that can register on the majority of the cellular networks. Or ship multiple cellular flavors.

Forget the mic and speaker, just remote them to a Bluetooth headset, that's what everyone will be using anyway. I've resisted a smartphone this long in part because I need to read something off a PDA while talking on the phone.

Pack a webcam aboard, and Skype, and wifi, so you can work away from the cellular network when alternatives are available.


Home-Made Bandoleers (or Bandoliers, if you prefer...)

Sorry to be late getting this post up. I've been indescribably swamped at work since mid-December and it's only now easing up enough for me to do things like sleep and post.

Those who know Fûze fairly well know that he's the crowned king of DIY (Do It Yourself). I'm not sure there are many "sweat equity" production projects he's not willing to attempt: AK building, brewing, reloading, tanning, butchering, etc. He's not afraid of tools nor reckless experimentation. Fûze doesn't undertake these efforts to save money so much as to acquire the skills/knowledge they require. And if my fawning over his aptitude in this regard doesn't make it obvious, I'm horribly jealous. Being the perfectionist that I am, I'm less willing to tolerate failure and, thus, less likely to experiment. But I have my moments.

There has been some discussion of late on various rifleman websites concerning the dearth of mil-surp bandoleers, specifically those for 5-round 7.62 NATO stripper clips. I have a few of the Aussie bandoleers for this application and they are indeed nice. But I like my SKSs and AKs, too, and I wanted something to hold 10-round 7.62x39 stripper clips. Having solved this for myself a few years back, I thought I'd discuss my DIY solution with you folks -- our four dedicated readers.

I started out with a mess of these:

That's a Home Depot two-pocket nail pouch. They're heavy cotton and have two narrow tie straps at each end. The cost was a whopping 77¢ each. I ripped-out the middle (double) stitching -- which took no small amount of time -- and turned each one inside-out to hide the violently orange HD logo. Then I had three vertical stitches run, making four pockets. Like this:

Not wanting the end result to be white, I picked up some fabric dye in "earth tone" colors. In this case, green, brown, and black. The original project involved 36 pouches so I dyed 12 in each of the three colors. Using a stainless steel kitchen sink, I submersed each batch of 12 pouches in the (very hot!) water-and-dye mix and let them marinate for about a 1/2-hour, stirring occasionally. I then rinsed each batch several times and ran them thru the washer-n-dryer to remove what dye was remaining and to shrink them to their final size. (I washed each batch separately to prevent color bleeding.) I ended up with this:

The lighting made the colors a little weird; they're darker than what's in the pic. Trust me, they're green, brown, and black! (OK, maybe not black, but definitely charcoal...)

Each of the four pouch pockets will easily hold three 10-round 7.62x39 stripper clips, for a total of 120 rounds:

Doing the (simple) math, that's enough to fully recharge four 30-round AK mags or prep your SKS barrel for heat treating!

Just as an experiment, I took one of the pouches and applied some sew-on hook-n-loop (aka, Velcro) tabs to the top of each pocket. I thought this might offer some additional "retention security". It did, marginally, but I didn't think the ROI justified the effort and I didn't bother to "upgrade" any of the other pouches.

So, since this post was initially prompted by blogs addressing 7.62 NATO pouches, I wanted to see how mine worked with those 5-round stripper clips. The result was this:

I can get six charged stripper clips into each pocket. They seem to be retained well enough, but only a "march thru the boonies" experiment would tell. I can say that due to the depth of the pocket, the bottom three clips are kinda' tricky to retrieve. Not impossible, but I'd hate to be fussing with it while dodging incoming fire. (YMMV...) If someone wanted to apply these bandoleers specifically to 7.62 NATO stripper clips, they could simply cut each pouch in half horizontally and restitch the bottom.

And just to see what else we can stick in these pockets I tried these 30-round mags:

As far as I'm concerned, the AK mags are a "no-go". Too top heavy and they'd likely rattle. The AR mags would work in a pinch. They're not held very securely, though the pouches would probably work well with 20-round'ers. Then again, showing up at a firefight with 20-round AR mags is akin to showing up at a firefight with an AR. (Did I say that??...) The pockets will not hold M14, FAL, or HK-91 mags, though I suspect sewing the pouches for three pockets would do that nicely. Obviously, there's plenty of room in each pocket for M1 Garand en blocs, though they don't occupy the space optimally.

So, there's a weekend DIY project for ya'. Not a lot of moving parts and it can be done while catching your favorite "athletic entertainment programming" on the talkin' picture box.





Never did overlays before.


Tis the season

Apparently everybody got a Wii for Christmas this year except the homeless and those who got their Wiis last Christmas.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

My daughter has beaten me out of putting a glottal stop between the i and the i. "Daa-aaaa--aad, it's not We-ee, it's just Wee."

So a number of Miis piped in from other peoples' Wiis is a Miiting? I'm putting a claim on that term, muthas.


best damn kim chi made by a Polack in Wyoming

1 large head of napa cabbage
1 nub of ginger root, about 3 tbsp when peeled and minced
garlic, about the same amount as ginger root
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup Sri Racha sauce
1/4 cup fish sauce

Rinse and quarter the cabbage. Discard yellowish or gnarly outer leaves. Cut out the stalk. Slice through each quarter to leave the cabbage in strips about 2cm wide.

Place the cabbage in a large container, scatter with the kosher salt and mix it well. Cover with sterile water.

Place a clean gallon Ziploc freezer bag in the container, atop the cabbage. Fill the bag with tap water so its weight rests on the cabbage, pressing it under the brine. Cover and let rest in cold, dark place overnight.

Tomorrow, remove the bag weighing the cabbage down and set it aside on a clean surface. The bag should have squashed the cabbage to less than half its original volume and there will be much more liquid resting on top of it.

Drain the cabbage in a strainer and catch all the brine. Put the cabbage back in the container. Mince the garlic and ginger root. Mix with the brown sugar. Add a dash of chili powder or hot pepper flakes. Add these to the cabbage. Add the Sri Racha sauce and fish sauce. Toss the cabbage around to mix (use a gloved hand or tongs).

Put the heavy bag back atop the cabbage. Add just enough of the brine back in to cover the cabbage again. Pitch the rest.

Cover and put in cold, dark place. It's ready to eat in another 24 hours or so. Keep it cold but not freezing until it's gone.

With all the trimmings

Blogroller James Rummel points to very old advertisements for the Thanksgiving dinner of pre-NFA Lugers. James admits to a fascination for a pistol with all of the trimmings---optics, stock, muzzle devices, extended barrels and such.

This reminds me of one of only two great unrequited loves and unfulfilled material yearnings of my life.

Reprint permission for the photo comes courtesy of www.automagpistol.com

The AutoMag.
A rotating-bolt pistol, all stainless, with shoulder stock if you wanted it, and changes of top-end for your taste of barrel length, compensator, and optics.

It fired cartridges based on the 7.62 NATO case cut short, straightwalled, and turned inside to take a .44 bullet. Or necked down to .41 (ideal Thumper cartridge) or .357.