Monday, September 11, 2017

New firearms parts resources

(Found on Facebook)

While they may not be new to you, They're new to me. Jack First Gun Parts is another online resource for hard-to-find parts for old guns. I've used Numrich for years, but it never hurts to have alternatives.

Another resource is Out Back Gun Parts. They do have a web site, but you have to call them to find out about parts availability or to order. According to their minimal web site, "We currently inventory approximately 6 million gun parts and could not possibly list everything we carry." As an IT person I'm not buying that, but it's their business, they can run it as they wish. I'll keep them on my list, but they will be at the bottom. I like convenience. It's not convenient to have to call you.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

All Irma, all the time

My apologies if things around here feel like it's "All Irma, all the time", but when you have a storm of this magnitude in the neighborhood, it is.

As of 0800 Irma was officially rated as a Category 4 storm with winds of 130 MPH after her interaction with the island of Cuba. However, strengthening is expected.

Irma's predicted track continues to slide to the west. The Georgia coast is now out of the cone of uncertainty as is all of South Carolina and all but a tiny sliver of North Carolina. Given the storm's size we'll still feel the effects. At my location, the current forecast is for 24-36 hours of winds up to 35 MPH and 2+ inches of rain. Compared to what things looked like earlier in the week, I'll take it.

However, I am mindful that others will now be getting the weather that I had expected. As you can see in the graphic, the cone of uncertainty is ballooning going into Wednesday/Thursday. This is likely in part due to the number days out on the forecast (chicken bones again), but it also due to the storm's interaction with the continental land mass and interactions with other weather systems which themselves are only marginally predictable at this point. Also note that there is only a little movement predicted between Wednesday and Thursday--a Hurricane Harvey scenario. Let's hope that some steering currents show up and keep her moving.

I also picked this tidbit up on Facebook. It's from Eric Burris, a meteorologist with WESH-TV in Florida. It shows the sizes of Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Irma. Note that, with Irma's size, when the eye hits the southernmost part of Florida the outermost edge will be in central Georgia. This is one big storm. I know there is a lot of hype going on around it, but I don't know  that's a bad thing this time around.

I'll be back this evening after the 5 PM forecast is released. In the meantime, I'm still going through my prep routine, just in case the weather decides to throw me a big curve ball.

Edit, 9/9/2017, 18000: Irma has dropped to a Category 3 storm and her forecasted track continues to move to the west. This is causing some consternation in Florida, as areas on the Gulf Coast that apparently thought they would somehow magically be spared from a storm that can swallow Florida whole are now behind the curve in preparing to take the hit. Despite the fact I'm shaking my head in disbelief at such hubris, I wish them well in getting ready for the storm.

The outer bands of the storm are already over Florida and the storm is expected to strengthen. I've been watching various Florida webcams from time to time today. So far all that can be seen is wind, some rain and empty streets. It seems most people have taken this seriously.

The current forecast track appears to put landfall at or near the Tampa/Clearwater/St. Petersburg area. After making landfall, the track would have Irma continuing up the coast, passing between Birmingham and Atlanta, then over western Tennessee and curving into Missouri.

My home state of North Carolina is now completely out of the cone of uncertainty. Our weather forecast for the Monday/Tuesday period is now calling for winds no higher than 25 MPH and 1.3" of rain total.

I won't lie and say that I'm not perfectly happy to have this thing go somewhere besides here. I do hate it for the people who are in the path of it, because they are going to catch hell.

Given that, barring some seriously odd quirk of fate, Irma isn't going to be much of an event here, I'll stop inflicting my amateur coverage of it on you unless there is some major story that's directly prepping related. I had hoped to have one of my own, but honestly this was about the same as getting ready for a major snow storm  here, minus the snow. At least I had a good excuse to PM the generator.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Passings, indeed

It is my unhappy duty to report the death of Dr. Jerry Pournelle.

He was one of the writers who helped shape a lot of who I am and who I have become. A world with no new Pournelle novels to look forward to is a darker world than I prefer to consider right now.

Irma: No news is good news

There is no good news on the hurricane front. The models that were predicting a turn toward the open sea are all gone now. Barring divine intervention, Florida is going to take it in the shorts. North Carolina and South Carolina are looking at a decreased impact, although that means others will now take the hit on our place. Not that we'll escape Irma's wrath, mind you. We can still expect high winds and flooding rains over large portions of both states.

I'm still working on my preparations as if nothing has changed. That cone of uncertainty can move right back, and I've seen hurricanes do odd things before, especially right at landfall.

I'll check back in after the 5 PM update.

Edit, 9/8/2017, 1924: It seems that Irma has decided to follow Horace Greely's advice to "Go west". Nearly all of North and South Carolina are out of the cone of uncertainty at this point, although we will surely still feel the effects. Florida will still be hammered, and Atlanta is now bracing for a hard hit, as is Tennessee. If you're of a mind, pray for those in the path of the storm. They can use all the help they can get.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

On the practical side

I've been cruising a Facebook group that's dedicated to one of the areas Mrs. Freeholder and I are considering as a possible retirement location. It has in common with most of our locations a "beachy" locale, which at the moment means it's under threat from Irma.

This one is just outside of the current "cone of uncertainty", and a lot of people are on the fence on leaving. Me, I'd leave, but a lot of people fall in love with houses. So I'm trying to dispense a little bit of helpful knowledge; things they can still do in the time they have to put themselves in a better position if things do get rough. I thought I'd share them here. Maybe some of you will find yourselves in a position to share them as well.

These are all from Steven Harris, a frequent guest on Jack Spirko's The Survival Podcast. Steven's background is in automotive engineering, but he is a fair whiz at a lot of technical subjects.

The first is his "over-arching site", You can get to any of this stuff from there with some digging. It's a bit...wordy.

The two really important ones for our current issue are, in particular the "How to Power Your House from Your Car with an Inverter" podcast. The next is This one is the "You have screwed up and not evacuated and have limited time to get ready" podcast. You have to sign up but it's a freebie. Both are Good Stuff.

Let's go do some good out there.

Continuing with Hurricane Irma

I wish I was able to say "What a difference a day makes." Maybe I can, but not in a good way, especially not for those of us further inland on the east coast.

Based on the current projected track, it looks like we'll see two landfalls, one in Florida somewhere around Miami and one near the GA-SC border. After that, Irma will move inland, and if things go as they normally do, weaken rapidly. That will be cold comfort to those who will still be hit with tropical storm force winds and deluged by many inches of rain. Many of these areas already have had a wet summer, so the ground is pretty wet and rivers and lakes are full or nearly so.

I keep up with the area near Myrtle Beach, SC as we have friends there and it is one of our potential retirement areas. Rivers there are already at or above flood stage. While the current track spares them some of the worst weather, they will still get a lot of wind and rain, and things will get bad fast. This is one single example of what is awaiting a huge and heavily populated swath of the southeastern US. Folks, we're going to have a bad week next week.

The news is full of stories, video and photos from the Caribbean showing wide-scale disaster. We're also getting reports from Florida that the evacuation is going as well as we preppers would expect it to. Gas stations are running dry despite government efforts to get fuel supplies in. Stores are running out of supplies of water, food, batteries and so on as desperate people who have come to the realization they can't get out or who won't leave are preparing to go to ground and ride the storm out. Walmart and Home Depot among others are trying to send in fresh supplies, but it will be a case of "too little, too late" as it always is. May the Lord lay his protection over them during their hour of need.

Those of us further north still have considerably more time to prepare for a storm that will not be as bad, but that will still cause us no end of trouble. I remember Hugo all too well. We were spared the worst, but I had friends who were out of power for a week or more. Stores were closed because of no power--it seems that no one can sell anything without a functioning point of sale system these days.

Obviously I'm going to keep watching this storm, and I'm going to keep posting about it as time permits. Today I'm making grocery store runs. I'd do that anyway today, but these will be a bit larger than normal due to the storm. I'll also make a few other stops to top off a couple of items we've allowed to run low as we do on a seasonal basis.

Tomorrow is the day I'll service the generator, blow off the pine needles on the roof and give it a good once over and begin battening down the hatches, so to speak. There really isn't much I can do besides putting up things that could blow around, but the activity makes me feel that I'm doing what I can not be a problem.

As we move closer to Tuesday and Wednesday, we will be charging batteries and battery-powered devices, making sure laundry is done and so on. Any last minute items I can think of will also be attended to.

When I was younger, this sort of thing was an excuse to "have an adventure". Hell, I'd probably go to the beach to get the experience. I was pretty stupid when I was younger. Now, I'm older, perhaps wiser, and a sight more concerned about what can happen when the weather goes bad. Within the last few years I've had friends and family flooded out, a tree on my own house, seen roofs collapse from too much snow in a part of the country that doesn't usually see it, killing frosts too early, spring in February and so on. The weather, for lack of a better term, has been weird.

I'm hardly a Global Warming fetishist, and I'm not jumping on the "Ermagherd Climate Change!" bandwagon. However, I'm not unaware that climate does change, and some of the changes don't happen over thousands or tens of thousands or millions of years, and I'm really starting to wonder.

The kid who was raised a Southern Baptist is also starting to wonder if we're not at the beginning of some of the tastier parts of the book of Revelations. No man can know the mind of God, so until there is a truly undeniable sign, I'll just have to wonder.

Whatever it is, I don't like it. Perhaps it's just age, and I'm starting to feel my mortality creeping up on me. But Things Are Getting Too Weird For My Taste.

Edit, 9/7/2017, 1823:  The latest word from the weather mavens still has Florida in the bulls eye, with the storm coming onshore for good in pretty much the same area as this morning. The predicted course is no further west than it was this morning, but that still in the chicken bones area of the forecast. Weather Underground has a good write-up on the whole thing.

One thing I noticed while I was out and about is that some people here are taking this seriously. I assume Hugo is in their minds as it is mine. No panic, but the big thing I noticed was water and easy to prepare food disappearing off the shelves. Not a run yet, but the weekend might be interesting.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Time for a Public Service Announcement

(Image and links via the Drudge Report)

This is not a joke. If you're in the path of this hurricane your life is in danger. This isn't an excuse for a party. This isn't an opportunity to test your preps. If you are in the area that takes a direct hit from Hurricane Irma, this is Armageddon.

If you're in the maybe 100 mile wide path of the worst winds, this is a storm with winds like an EF4 tornado that will go on for hours. Unless you happen to have a concrete and steel-reinforced tornado shelter, you probably won't be around for the full experience, because there is a very good chance you will be DEAD. Feel free to write your name and Social Security Number on your arm with a Sharpie. They might find your body.

185 MPH winds are not something to trifle with. These are images of what an EF4 tornado does. Imagine that sort of wind when it has a few hours to do its work. This thing is showing up on seismographs. This is not something to fuck with.

If you're near the coast where Irma makes landfall, you're also going to get the Storm Surge From Hell. I don't want to think of how much water 185 MPH winds can pile up. I suspect it will be epic. Add in flooding rains, and the damage from water will add insult to injury.

This is one of those situations where the best thing to do is bug out. Get your family, your valuables, your critters and put 500 miles between you and this bitch. Watch it on TV.

As of this writing, it looks like Florida, starting with the Keys, is the target zone. Irma is going to monster walk right up the peninsula and then barrel up the East Coast in some form or fashion. I'm starting to make my preparations, basing this on storms like Hurricane Hugo, which have come inland, still packing a considerable punch. If we take a hit, it will be bad, but nothing like Florida.

You folks in Florida still have days to make your move. Make the right one. Leave.

Edit, 9/6/2017, 1520: The 5 PM track update has Irma taking a harder turn to the north than this morning. If this track holds. it's a good thing for Florida and a bad thing for those of us further north. Of course, we are talking about a weather forecast for 4-5 days out, so this is only somewhat better than reading chicken bones. The change doesn't make me change my advice one whit, but it does make me expand it further north. Now folks in the Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina coastal areas, as well as those as far as 100-150 miles inland are in the bulls eye. Maybe we'll get lucky and the turn will just keep on increasing and Irma will head out into the Atlantic and scare the fishes.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Eating my words

Well, to today to an extent. Eventually I get to eat them all.

Last week I was smirking about how I like making Google foot the bill for me saying things that they wouldn't approve of. This week, they have to go do something stupid enough that I finally feel it's time to do a little something to begin de-Googling my life.

God certainly hates a smartass, doesn't he?

It isn't like I haven't considered it before. Google used to be the "Do no evil" folks. Well, they've blown that off for years. Cooperating with China to block their population from freely accessing information, slowly but surely impinging more and more on their users' privacy, their increasing internal ideological purity requirements--all of it has sit increasing less and less well with me. But the difficulty and amount of work, plus the issue of most of the options being less useful and less usable, has kept me in the Google fold.

Well, that's stopping now. It's going to take a while, and it's going to cost me some money, up front and probably in on-going costs, but Google and I are getting a divorce. And I'm going to take all their shit out, pile it up in the yard and set it on fire.

The first thing is search. Right now I've swapped over to Bing, but I might go on over to DuckDuckGo. It will depend on the browser I decide to move to, because Chrome is on it's way out. I really want to go to the Brave browser, not only because it works, but because it was started by the guy Firefox ran out in a bout of political correctness.

Email will be a lot more work. I already have a Yahoo email, but I really like the look of Proton Mail. There are also some other alternatives out there, including getting my own domain or three and hosting my own. No matter what, it'll be a lot of work--all those email lists and such that I'll have to change.

This blog will be the biggest PITA. I can do a Squarespace site easy enough and they aren't horribly expensive. They also come with a handy website and some ecommerce abilities, which opens up the possibility of making this pay for itself. I know that I'll have a bunch of folks saying "WordPress!" WordPress is a big dog on the Internet, and there is a lot of ready-made stuff for it. But for the blog, I'm not going to be in a hurry.

Remember when you used to see these all over the Intertubz? Well get ready.

8/19/2017, 11:00 PM: I have just finished converting nearly all the web and forum logins I have to the new email address. I decided to go with for the email. Yes, I'm trading evil Google for evil Microsoft, but I find their corporate evil to be of a more palatable version. Plus it's free, no ads, and it allows me to consolidate my calendars, which simplifies my life and allows me to loose a kludgy piece of sync software. I didn't know how many logins I had and how many needed to be purged. I guess you need to do that bit of housekeeping every 15 years or so. I found a few websites that are throw-backs to the late 90s/early 2000s where I can't change my email address, and one browser add-in that won't work in the new browser of choice for now, MS Edge. Wheelgun has made an intriguing suggestion that I'm going to explore, along with some others. Brave unfortunately sin't working well for me, loading slowly, loading sites slowly and slowing down as more tabs are opened. I'm pretty disappointed at that.

This is being even more work than I expected, and I expected it to be a lot. I hope a freaking asteroid drops on the Googleplex.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

A modest proposal

(With apologies to Jonathan Swift. Link to "Rebel yell: Southern nationalists again crying 'secede'" via the Drudge Report)

I've discussed the concept that we're in the early stages of a civil war in this country a number of times; enough so that I feel no urge to rehash it. Let's look at another issue: Can we stop it before it gets out of hand?

In a number of science fiction books and series I've read, space travel and immigration to new colonies and planets served as a sort of "safety valve", allowing those who were fed up with the situation here on Earth (or another long settled world) to pull up stakes and leave for greener pastures. Obviously, we aren't in a position where we can do that just yet.

However, another possibility does present itself. I've read various predictions that the US might break up, a la the old Soviet Union. Igor Panarin is one of the better know of these, predicting that it would happen in 2010 after a civil war. History proves that he was a bit off with that prediction, though it may yet prove accurate.

What if, rather than waiting for it to happen amidst fire and sword, we, as a country, decided to voluntarily split? Various Southern groups have pushed this for years, and #Calexit has been a thing since President Trump's election last November. The State of Jefferson has been proposed three times in three places over the years, while the tongue-in-cheek Conch Republic could probably get of the ground tomorrow. Many in Hawaii would like to return to the days of their independence.

I can keep this up for a while, but I hope you see my point. The melting pot that we were all told about in school (well, if you're of a certain age, anyway) may very well never have really existed. Like the nations that were press-ganged into the Soviet Union, there are a lot of groups and areas in the US that would quite happily take their 40 acres and a mule and bail.

Would half of the North American continent suddenly split up into 6 or 8 or 25 nations be a good thing? Would it encourage the remaining large nations such as China and Russia to indulge themselves in empire building? Would the newly independent nations find themselves forming a new Confederation in order to defend themselves from Mexico or Germany or Fiji? Would it be like Europe before the EU, with periods of peace and war?

We have no way to know. I suspect it would be a calmer version of the old Europe with some sort of alliance structure for defense from powers off the continent, but that's a guess.

What I hope it could be is the safety valve that we desperately need. With a number a new, English-speaking nations, hopefully with governments of widely varying stripes, all co-located on the same continent, people could find one that relatively well suited their particular wants and desires and immigrate to it. Some would complain that the new nations would be echo chambers, but so what? Most people prefer to live and associate with those who are like them and who share similar beliefs. Acknowledging that and allowing it to occur peacefully and without interference in another country won't hurt you in yours.

I don't think it's likely to happen, but it's a thought.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Since we were speaking of Google

Breitbart is having a multi-part interview piece with those who are or have been behind enemy lines at Teh Googlez. Obviously there's no way for you or I to be sure of its veracity, but it makes for interesting reading. There are currently two parts out, you can start at Part One and work you way along.

Monday, August 07, 2017

I enjoy making Google publish this

Perhaps you've heard of the latest little row at Google--an employee had the temerity to publish his thoughts on the Google monoculture and suddenly is he is the primary target of SJWs everywhere, but especially those within Google itself. Because by virtue signalling at the top of our keyboards and Twitter accounts we're showing "It wasn't me!", natch. Or maybe you haven't. In the real world it honestly isn't of earth moving significance.

I'm waiting for the inevitable "Boycott Teh Googlez!" to start. As someone who uses Google's email service, search engine, browser and blogging platform, I'm not going to heed the call if it comes, thanks all the same.

First, as an email platform that I don't have to shell out my coin for, Gmail works. I rarely see their advertising, because I use it as an IMAP host. I don't care if they're reading my messages--so is the NSA, CIA, DIA and God knows who else. There is nothing in my email that I would give a rip about seeing on a billboard at this point in my life.

As a search engine, they are one of the best out there. You can do better with some of the metasearch engines, but when you need it quick, Google delivers. You don't want the ads? Use an ad blocker.

I use Chrome because it's support for extensions allows me to add tools to it I need. If Edge or Brave or Firefox or whoever can match it, I may well switch. So far, no one has and I'm not.

And as for Blogger, well, I like that one the best. It allows me to publish things for the entire Intertubz to read, things that would have those virtue signalling Googlites frothing at the mouth (I sincerely hope) and I. Get. To. Do. It. On. Google's. Dime.

Yeah, that's the part I like the best about all of it. Most of the people at Google would detest the hell out of me, but their effort is what allows me to find things, browse the Intertubz effectively and communicate, and their company pays for it all.

If necessary, I can replace all these services in a day or so of concentrated effort and it will probably cost me $30 a month. But I like taking advantage of Google a lot more. It's just a tiny bit of money they can't use to be evil. Smells like a win to me.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Will Amateur Radio become extinct?

It's an interesting question that has been thrashed around the table more than a few times. I know that my club is in trouble--our youngest member is in his 30s, and I, the next youngest, and nearly 60. I maintain our web site and the Silent Key list is growing by several members per year now. At this rate, in two or three more years, we won't have enough members to have a viable club.

We're not the only local club in this fix. There are a multitude of amateur radio clubs across the US and around the world that have this problem. Ham radio is perceived to be an "old guys' hobby", and to a distressing level, it's true. Tam jokes about the number of fat old white guys at gun shows, and she once remarked about attending a hamfest with Roberta X. I told here that she was going to the only place guaranteed to have more fat old white guys than a gun show, and unfortunately, that's all too true.

For those of you who have been to a hamfest recently, ask yourself "How many female hams did I see?" (And I don't mean wives being good sports.) "How many interested young people did I see?" "How many 'people of color' did I see?" I'll give you my answers. It was the last Charlotte, NC Hamfest, and I saw 1 female ham, no kids and no people of color.

I do a hell of a lot better than that a gun show, I'll tell you.

Our national organization, the ARRL, has had its head in the sand for years on this issue, paying it what is essentially lip service. I hate saying it, but as long as we've kept sending in our dues, they kept sitting in Newington and pretending "All is Well!" and playing patty cake with the government on spectrum issues.

Times may be changing.

According to a note that dropped into my inbox this morning from the ICQ Podcast, it seems that the president of that august group may have had a wake up call. This is from the ARRL's 2016 Annual Report (a document I never read, but apparently someone does), and was written by Rick Roderick, K5UR, the president of the ARRL:

“I prepared my usual talk about some interesting ham radio stories over my 50 years as a ham, how we can talk all over the world, and I brought some QSL cards from rare places to show the group. I have given that talk many times, and it usually impresses people — but not this time. I was surprised to see flat, uninterested faces.”

”I realized that I had to change my approach to the presentation if I was going to keep the attention of these young people. After all, what could ham radio offer people who grew up in homes that had computers hooked up to the internet? Today’s young people are used to riding down the interstate at 70 MPH as a passenger while watching high-definition videos on their iPhones.”

”What we’re hearing from what I call the “new-generation ham,” is that they don’t view ham radio as being about talking around the world, contesting, or traditional aspects of our hobby.”

”Change generally doesn’t come easy to us. But when I looked out at that group of young faces and saw their disinterest in traditional ham pursuits, I realized that I had to change. We have to change. It won’t come easy, but it’s essential that we get to work on it now.”

I note the he "prepared his usual talk". The ARRL once again doing the same old thing they've been doing for years, and he expected it to impress people. Really? Even senior citizens these days "are used to riding down the interstate at 70 MPH as a passenger while watching high-definition videos on their iPhones," there, Rick. You're going to have to come up with more than the same old to impress folks these days. Technophobes have nearly been driven to extinction. I literally don't know anyone who doesn't own a smart phone these days. You folks in the League might want to travel outside of the Newington Time Warp a little more often. And while I'm at it, for Pete's sake, can you build a more modern web site?

Honestly, I'm not sure what it's going to take to renew interest in amateur radio as a hobby. Radio communication is still an important thing. It's used every day to communicate by police, fire, aircraft, ships, forestry workers, retail stores and a whole host of others. Even our cell phones, one of ham radios biggest competitors with the younger generations, uses radio. But there is quite frankly nothing out there that is "sexy" about radio. Sure, we have all the new digital modes, but really, no one but us hams cares. We're doing innovative work with Broadband Hamnet, but again, who outside of the amateur radio community and some emergency management types care? Name anything any of us is experimenting with and I'll ask you that same question and grow older waiting for a good answer.

While I'm waiting, the noise floor will continue to rise as poorly designed and cheaply produced electronics continue to flood into the markets in every country. In many urban areas, it's already so high that for all realistic purposes, the ability of hams to operate has ended.

I'll also watch as the national telecommunication agencies continue to delete our spectrum allocations and sell that spectrum off to the highest bidder. Eventually, we'll be back where we started, down in the AM bands. Anyone for a quarter wave dipole on 630? It'll only be 371 feet long, give or take a few inches (if I'm doing my math correctly). You'd better have a big back yard.

Yeah, I'm starting to sound like Debbie Downer here, and that's not really the point I want to make. We, as a hobby, need to start marketing our hobby, and we need to start now. I got into this via the emergency preparedness path, and there are quite a few folks who do. However most of them get a Technician Class license and stop there. I didn't; I have my General and am working ever so slowly on my Extra. I'm a rarity. The hobby can't count on outliers like me.

As a hobby, we have to find a message that takes the best of what we are and puts it out there for everyone to see. We need to put our tradition of experimentation and innovation into developing some new technologies that will attract the attention of generations who were raised on video games and the Internet. We probably have to come up with something I can't even conceive of that is going to drum up some serious interest among the geeks of the world. Face it, that is our target audience.

We damn sure can't continue to sit around, dumping the legal limit into a dipole and complaining that the bands are dead.

Friday, August 04, 2017

It seems the Deep State just won't stop

(Via Michael Bane on Facebook)

I'd really like to write about something else. Almost anything else, really. But you can't pay attention to current events in the US and not have this come to your attention, and it's too important to ignore, so I'm going to say a bit about it.

I'm referring to the article "The Slow-Motion Coup d’Etat picks up steam" by William A. Jacobson on Legal Insurrection. Excellent article; well written. So well written that I can give you the first paragraph along with the last two for the purposes of my discussion and allow you to read the remainder at your leisure.

First paragraph:

Since the election there has been an unprecedented attempt to unwind the election result. Events have accelerated on several fronts lately with attempts from outside and within to paralyze the Trump administration.

Last two paragraphs:

Not only is the Trump administration under unprecedented attack from outside, the foxes are inside the henhouse, and are gutting it from the inside out.

The attempt to unwind the 2016 election through paralyzing the Trump administration is a serious threat to our liberty. Our most basic of institutions, the transfer of power through elections, is under attack.

Between those Jacobson lays out his case for those statements, and lays it out well. However, as I said, if you've been paying attention, this is already obvious to you. The incessant media drum beating since the morning after the election, the crazed whining of the left, the seeming endless protests from January to May, all of it organized--yes, I said organized--to cripple the Trump presidency.

As Jacobson points out during that time we also had the "All Russia, all the time" crowd and enough leaks to sink a battleship. So far, they've all failed in their primary goal, which has been to force Trump out. The Left has committed the cardinal sin of under-estimating their opponent. He doesn't play by their rules, and the pressure that would have driven a conventional politician out of office and simply rolled off his back.

They have, however, caused no end of trouble and continue to cause it. I suspect the "chaos" that is currently one of the talking points of the chattering class is simply the beginning Trump's effort to put an end to some of this, the leaks in particular. I hope AG Session's moves plus General John Kelly's appointment as White House Chief of Staff indicate that the President is now fully fed up with the situation and is, in effect, taking off the gloves.

Of course, I 've been wrong before, so we'll have to see how this plays out. I will be cheered considerably if we see a couple of perp walks in the next week or two. Or perhaps H.R. McMasters' head on a pike outside of Ft. Meade.

Even if the leaks subside, we still have Special Counsel Robert Mueller trolling about with what appears to be on its way to becoming a years-long fishing expedition, now complete with its very own Grand Jury. Nothing Good Will Come From This. Think Whitewater.

In the meantime, Trump's base of supporters is still as loyal now as they were in November. If you watched any of last night's speech in West Virginia, it's apparent the man still has 100% of their support. They love the guy, and they are not buying into the media narrative. If anything, they are digging in deeper in support of him than they were in November, and he's slowly recruiting more as news such as improving job numbers keep coming out.

You want a civil war? This is how you get a civil war. One side who thinks that they are smarter than everyone else, that they are entitled to lead, that they are, in essence, better, than everyone else. The other side one that looks at those people and their smug self-assuredness in the same way one looks at dog crap that has just been tracked on to the living room carpet.

Let either side get into a position where they can enforce the entirety (or perhaps even the majority) of their will on the other without any sort of escape route (#Calexit, anyone?), and you will see a civil war, or something close enough to it that it makes no difference.

It may already be too late. We don't know what's going on out of our sight in backrooms or via encrypted emails (or unencrypted email servers in someone's bathroom). The events may already be underway for this war's version of Ft. Sumter for all we know.

I'm not going to preach at you to be prepared. You've heard that sermon enough times already. If you haven't taken that step, hearing it again won't move you. I am going to say that this is the time to learn the minds and hearts of your friends, neighbors and co-workers. I'm not saying pry into their business, but listen when they talk. Get a feel for their beliefs and try to get an idea which side they might come down on if push comes to shove.

Above all, pay attention. Don't rely on me or anyone else for information or warnings. While I appreciate your reading my thoughts on the matter, do your own reading and your own synthesizing.
Develop your own sources, get the data and turn it into information yourself.

Remember, the curse has come true--we live in interesting times. Now we get to deal with it.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Let's get some excercise

Since my semi-enforced retirement, I have been attempting, with mixed results, to do something about my physical shape. While round is a shape, it isn't the one I prefer. Various health issues and a job that keeps one mostly behind a desk, plus a simple lack of time once I got home (I always tried to spend time with the kids, my wife or on home projects) have led me into a state where, if I'm frank, I have to describe my level of physical conditioning as simply "bad". Perhaps "poor" is the preferred technical term. Whatever term you choose, it isn't good to be in this spot, especially when you're way on the wrong side of 50 and starting to stare 60 in the face.

If I want to reach 60 and spit in its face rather than meekly shake its hand, Something Must Be Done. One of the things about working strenuously around your house on things like landscaping and such is that you will get something of a work out. While it's better than nothing, it isn't exercise. It doesn't get you heart rate high enough long enough to do the cardio-vascular system any good, although it will tone the muscles to some extent.

There are some things that are off the table, such as running. I gave myself enough stress fractures in my younger days that those alone have cured me of the concept of running as an exercise. Add to that the damage to your joints over time and I'm happy I had the stress fractures. I enjoyed running, and by now I'd probably be looking at knee replacements. Thank you, but no.

Swimming is a PITA. I'd have to go to a pool, which around here would mean the YMCA and all the festivities that entails. Pass.

Walking I can do. I have an excellent neighborhood for walking. Very little is flat, so you are constantly walking uphill or downhill. It makes for a good if somewhat boring workout.

Many years ago, I rode a bicycle, a lovely blue Peugeot road bike. Man, but I loved that bike. I dropped something near a grand on it around 1980. It was a nice bike, and I rode the crap out of it for years. But eventually we moved to a place where riding drew more beer bottles and deliberate near misses than I was willing to deal with, and I hung it up, eventually selling it.

Last weekend, Mrs. Freeholder and I accepted an invitation to spend the weekend in Boone, NC, in the NC mountains at an altitude guaranteed to get us out of the upper 90 degree heat and miserable humidity we were then currently suffering through. While there, I gave in to an urge I've had for a while and bought a new bike, which you can see below.

Specialized Roll Sport
That is a Specialized Roll Sport. They categorize it as a "fitness" bike. Yeah,it's definitely not a road bike. I'd love to have one, but the years at a computer keyboard have given me a mild case of carpel tunnel syndrome. I do fine as long as I behave--pay attention to the ergonomics of my workstation, arch my blasted wrists--but things like being on the drops of a road bike don't qualify as behaving.

A true mountain bike doesn't work well either. There is still too much weight on the hands. Tried one of those a while back, made it a couple of blocks. Glad I didn't buy it.

However, the bicycle industry listens to its customers and its potential customers. Us old folks who need to sit up straighter, not put a lot of weight on our hands, who would like a more comfortable seat and so on, well, there are bikes out there for us now.

The technology on this thing is amazing, and when you take he price point into account (a bit over half my old Peugeot), it is astounding. 21 speeds vs. the 12 I had. The derailleurs don't click. It has, for cryin' out loud, disk brakes. Yes, like a car. It will stop in a big hurry. I think I could actually stand it on the front wheel if I tried.

On the new hitch-mounted Curt carrier, ready to go somewhere.
It doesn't have 120 psi skinny tires I was used to, instead it has 60 psi big fat tires, the better to deal with greenways, which are often packed dirt or gravel. It can do limited service as a mountain bike, but the tires themselves are a smooth tread, not suited for it. They can be swapped out if I wish, but I don't see the point with this bike.

I had to take the front wheel off (quick disconnect, so it's easy) and carry it home in the back of my Subaru Outback. Not an optimum solution. So I got a Class II Curt hitch and a Curt Tray-Style Bike Rack (both from, great folks to deal with) to carry the bike to places I can ride. I used to think this was stupid, but after my experience with the beer bottles, not so much. The hitch is great, the carrier is OK. It doesn't cost as much as say a Yakima, and I think I see why. It will do for now.

As a matter of fact, that is sort of the motto for the entire thing. This is something of an experiment/learning experience. Just riding so far has been a bit tentative (and wobbly). It's also shown me just how pathetically out of shape I truly am.

I've also dropped some coin on all the crap you need if you plan on riding away from home--stuff to patch tires, bike bags, lights in case you get caught out near or after dark, water bottle and cage and so on. You can see those a bit in the second picture.

I'm currently scoping out nearby places to ride, just to get used to pushing pedals again. I tried it out my neighborhood, and that was a bit of a farce. Even with 21 gears, my legs were on fire, and I didn't even try the steeper part of the hills.

I've really missed riding. I know I should probably not do it alone, but I always enjoyed the solitude of me and the road. It's really different than driving. You move at a speed where you see so much more of the area you traverse, but you see so much more area than you do walking. In some ways, it may be the ideal way of transportation.

As long as you live somewhere that doesn't have steep hills.

Why the Tier 1 guys love their big SUVs

Ars Technica has a rather fluffy piece on operators and their love for big SUVs. As a Suburban owner, I can tell you that it's hard not to love a vehicle that has room for you and your friends plus enough gear to take over a small banana republic--or a week at the coast--in total comfort. Plus fools in their Toyota Piouses Priuses tend to get the hell out of the way when 7500# of 4WD truck is bearing down.

Don't miss the link to The Range Complex. I haven't been but I hear it's a heck of a place.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Not dead

Just...pleasantly busy. You could say that I've failed retirement, such as it was.

A ham radio buddy of mine called me (oddly enough, not on the radio) a couple of weeks ago and asked me if I was still considering a return to employment. I told him yes, but that I wasn't looking very hard at this point.

Honestly, after 6 months of looking, I'd reached the conclusion that a lot of us aging propeller heads do when we find ourselves seeking employment after 50--the tech world no longer has a place for us. We're viewed as relics of a bygone age. Besides, why hire us, and pay the salaries we command, when you can hire a kid fresh out of school who knows next to nothing but will work 80 hour weeks for comparatively nothing because they have to feed the student loan monster? Or someone a few years younger than me with a mortgage and kids in college and desperate as hell, willing to work for half of what they made in their last job because it's that or lose everything?

Bitter? No, I've just had my fill of being interviewed by people I can work a circle around without working up a sweat, just to see the job go to someone half my age with 25% of my skill. The next time someone in your company complains that your IT department can't get anything right, take a good look at all those fresh, eager, inexperienced faces. It isn't their fault--it's the penny-pinching bastards who made the hires that are to blame. Got to make those quarterly numbers, don'tcha know. God forbid I miss my bonus, I have country club dues to pay.

I've got nothing against new graduates or those who are early in their careers. I've employed a lot of them over the years. But I was one, once upon a time, and no matter how good your education, in the real world you are worth zero until you make the firm money. Few of them can do that reliably for the first few years of their career. Lord knows I couldn't, although I thought I was God's Gift To Computing. As a manager, you pull them along, teaching and coaching, making an investment in them in Year One so that they will hopefully spend Years Two and Three making at least some contribution to fixed costs. If you're really lucky they stay for Years Four and Five and really contribute to the bottom line, after which they get poached by a company that's smarter than yours and is willing to pay market rate or better for young talent.

OK, rant off.

So, my buddy was driving down the street and saw a sign in front of a local business advertising for a system administrator. Well, that's about half past old-fashioned. He thought of me and gave me a call. I wasn't worried about the job being something "well below" my last position. I've proven everything I feel the urge to prove to the only person I need to impress at this point in my life. Now, it's about keeping active and making a bit of money to fund my too-expensive hobbies. Why did I have to get interested in guns?

He wasn't able to get the phone number, so I got in the car and took a ride. Sure enough, there was the sign and it had a web site on it. Back hone, I checked it out and there was the job. So I shot them a resume. I wasn't going to get very invested in it; I was long since over that activity.

The next day Son and I were at the Southeastern Old Threshers Reunion when my email dinged. Lo and behold, they wanted to know when I could come in for an interview? How about 2 that afternoon?

Sorry guys, it's Son's birthday, and I'm busy. So we go back and forth. The Independence Day holiday was almost on us, so by the time we worked out a date, it would be nearly a week. Worked for me. As I said, I wasn't going to get too invested in this. Besides, they sounded a little overly interested, so I deemed it to my advantage to slow things down.

So the days pass, and eventually I go in and talk to them. It seems to go well. Nice people; small but interesting company. A couple of days later, the owner wants me to come back in for another talk. This was on a Saturday. At the end of it, I walked out with a job in hand.

For the record, I'm not running anyone's IT department, and that suits me just fine. I'm not working full time, and that suits me as well. I am making more, per hour, than I made in my last job, and that definitely suits me. I'm going to be doing various sorts of tech support for various client companies of the firm--anything from "I can't print" to "Time to upgrade the company infrastructure".  By my standards, none of it is going to be difficult. As I put it to Mrs. Freeholder, I could sleep through most of it.

The point is that I get out of the house two or three day a week, give or take. I have some imposed structure on my time, which I have found is something I need. It's too easy to get up in the morning and sit in front of the computer until noon, fiddling with this and that. Apparently I'm still not grown up enough to impose that on myself just yet.

The money will allow me to pursue my interests, as well as renew some charitable interests we had to cut back on when our income took the "retirement" hit. We now know a little more about what to expect when we retire for real, so we're going to do some more things to prepare for that eventuality. We will continue to spend less and save more, probably investing a little more aggressively.

Obviously, I won't have as much free time as I did, but I hope to manage it better. I was wasting a lot of it in "non-productive" activities, and that I need to stop. I have to learn to impose that structure I need myself, because one of these days I do intend to retire successfully.

Just not quite yet.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Driving a ground rod

Ground rods are one of those facts of life that anyone who deals with them usually dislikes. Whether you use a sledge hammer, a rotary hammer or you're Conan the Barbarian's little brother and you can tote a electric jackhammer up a ladder to do the deed, driving them is a pain.

While I haven't tried this myself, it's an apparently near painless method of getting one of these long thin beasts into the ground. The only downside I see is that you aren't going to get it below ground unless you dig a pit.  

Friday, July 07, 2017

More on the battlesight zero

(Via Gunsite on Facebook)

A while back I wrote a bit on the subject of what distance to zero your AR. Just for giggles, here's some more information from Robar on that subject. It's some good stuff, so take the time to read and digest. I'd pay particular attention to the part about the ranges at which you can expect the 5.56 round to be more vs less lethal. That's some handy to have information there. I have an old article I clipped from Shotgun News years ago, this jibes with it 100% on that subject.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Knot on my watch

I've heard knots called "an orderly tangle of lines". While that might be true, the knowledge of a few useful knots is something that is highly useful. You never know when you're going to have to tie down that thing you just purchased from the big box store on your trailer, for example. Or tie down a tarp over a hole in your roof after a tree lands on your house in a storm. Maybe you just need to tie a hammock between two trees to enjoy a lazy summer afternoon.

A guy can dream, can't he?

The Geek Prepper has an article with a link to some AMazon resources if you feel the urge to spend, and a nice printable card with useful basic knots on it if you don't. Unfortunately the card doesn't tell you what the knots are used for, so you have to figure that out yourself. Or you can look at this list of 10 of the most useful knots "that hunter should know". Or the 20 knots "that will keep you alive".

Just don't tie any grannies, OK?

Sunday, July 02, 2017

I have got to close some of these tabs

(As usual in this situation, I forget where these come from. I'm sure more than one was from Michael Bane on Facebook.)

I was hoping to write about these items in some more depth, but the two weeks just past and the week coming up make me wonder if a job hasn't sneaked up on me without my knowing it. :-) Although, on a serious note, I will be interviewing for one in the coming week, so wish me luck.

In the meantime...

How to Escape From Zip Ties. There is also a link to a much longer video on escaping from illegal restraint in general. It sucks to think that we may need to know these things, but with society in a mad dash to hell, you never know.

Learn Anything In Four Steps With The Feynman Technique. One of the serious geniuses of our time, physicist Richard Feynman was also noted as one of the greatest teachers of his time. This is why.

This is a rat hole I can go down for days. I love WWII history, and can't get enough of any facet of it.

Analysis: What Civil War 2.0 Looks Like. Yes, back to that unfortunate subject. Sorry, but until it isn't important any longer it's important.

The Philando Castile Shooting and Some Advice for My Cop Readers by Greg Ellifritz. Probably not what you think it's going to be. Spoiler--there was enough herp going around that night for everyone to get smeared with it.

Gabe Suarez on yelling during a critical incident. Gabe's an iconoclast and he keeps on being one here. But he's an experienced iconoclast, so it behooves us to consider what he says.

Racial Differences in Self Control. Yeah, if this one gets the publicity that Herrnstein and Murray's "The Bell Curve" got, it's going to start one major shit storm. I'm not a researcher, but based on what little I know about vetting studies they appear to have done most of their homework.

Any way, there's some stuff to entertain yourselves with. Enjoy.

Friday, June 23, 2017


I ran across this article this morning. It has three interesting points about the changing face of gun ownership in the US. It seems 2/3 of us have our guns for self defense these days, which is something of s shift from the historical reason of hunting. 38% of us keep a loaded firearm easily accessible while we're at home. Well over half of gun owners only own a pistol.

As Michael Bane has pointed out many times, these are hallmarks of Gun Culture 2.0. New gun owners are motivated by self defense needs rather than the traditional reasons for gun ownership that Gun Culture 1.0 felt. They see the crime on their streets and in their neighborhoods. They understand that the police usually respond after the deed is done. They have internalized the message "You are your own first responder."

Another important aspect of this is that we as freedom loving individuals are winning. More people are "getting it" than there have been in decades. While Moms Demand Bloomberg's Money may be making a lot of noise, they're not making a lot of headway, and that's a Good Thing.

I like Winning. Winning feels good, and it lets me know that it's going to be a lot easier to teach my putative grand kids how to shoot when that time comes.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Friday, June 16, 2017

The GOP says its going to get strapped; the left loses its collectivist mind

I should have seen it coming--really I should. When I posted this morning about GOP Congressman Thomas Massie introducing a bill calling for concealed carry permit reciprocity in the District of Columbia and I said "I hope the Democrats shit themselves. Literally." I honestly didn't think that they'd do it in such a public manner or quite so quickly.

I didn't count on the power of Twitter and the Twits that inhabit it.

It seems that New York Rep. Chris Collins was interviewed today and he espoused some distinctly Second Amendment views. Ditto for Georgia Rep. Barry Loudermilk. I don't doubt that others aren't thinking along the same lines but simply weren't interviewed.

Predictably, the left is coming unglued. OMG, it's gonna be Saturday Night in Dodge City! I mean, just read the tweats from the twerps in the above referenced article. They know it! It's settled science!

Except it isn't. In every state since Florida passed their concealed carry statute, we've been told that the blood was going to run in the streets, that gun fights would be breaking out over parking spaces and so on and so forth. There's only one problem. The blood has stubbornly refused to flow. Ever. Anywhere. Any time. Period.

To make it worse, concealed carry permittees are, in study after study, the most law-abiding group in whatever jurisdiction is researched. Adding insult to injury, we accidentally kill fewer people every year than doctors.

So here they are, in all their pants-shitting hysterical glory: The American Left, once again pronouncing The Received Truth as only they know it.

Will no one rid us of these troublesome progressives?

DC reciprocity?

After the recent shooting at a GOP practice for a charity baseball game, some folks I know were predicting moves by Congress--on both sides of the aisle--to enact further gun control laws. To paraphrase one, "You just can't go around shooting politicians with impunity, especially the ones in power."

Now that's true, and it's a good thing that we can't. Despite the fact that some portion of our elected politicians aren't worth the space they take up, having folks shooting them out of hand just because they don't care for them is a good way to get a civil war started. Heaven knows we're doing a good enough job slow-walking ourselves into that already, we don't need to add rampant political assassination into that stew.

In this country we already have decades of practical experience that shows gun control doesn't work when it comes to lowering the rate of violent crime. The District of Columbia is one of the prime examples of that simple fact. The tighter they squeezed, the worse things got.

So this morning I got a very pleasant surprise when, trolling through the inbox, I see this headline in The Shooting Wire:  D.C. Personal Protection Reciprocity Act Introduced. Yes, you are reading that correctly. Congressman Thomas Massie has introduced H.R 2909, which would force the district to recognize valid concealed carry permit from any state. Even better, my Congressman is a co-sponsor.

I hope the Democrats shit themselves. Literally. They're ginning this up; it's time for us to put an end to it. It was only a matter of time before they graduated from their sticks, stones and bottles of piss to guns. In Arlington, a massacre was averted by two things--Good Guys with guns and the good fortune they happened to be on scene. Allowing the great mass of legal concealed carriers to carry in more places will help make sure those two things can happen the next time. Because all the blah, blah, blah in the media right now, there will be a next time.

They aren't going to paper over that civil war so easily.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Zeroing your AR-15

It's a deceptively simple subject. If you've ever been in the service of Uncle Sugar, he says 25 meters and you're done--or at least he used to, back in the dark ages of the 1980s. God know what he says now. My research says it's a lot more complicated these days, since we now have a number of different types of ammo (M885, MK262 (I think that's it; it's a 77 grain round), M193 and so on) that have to be taken into account. The first video gives you a lot of background on the subject, including the ballistics, so you can understand what is going on with the round and not just doing "Monkey see, monkey do".


The second video gets into the interesting question of "Well gee, I've zeroed for 25/50/100 yards, and suddenly I need to shoot a target at 5 yards."


 As you can see on the second video, if you're playing one of the 3 gun games, it really doesn't matter much what your zero is. You're going to get good enough accuracy that if you're aiming at the center of the A Zone on your target, you're going to hit it if you're doing your part no matter what your distance is.

Your issue is going to be that pin point accuracy you need if Marty the Meth Head has come barging into your home looking for money and has taken your wife/son/daughter hostage and is using them as a shield. Depending on how close you are, the difference between point of aim and point of impact could be 3+ inches. Depending on how much of Marty you can see, that may be the difference between hitting Marty and hitting Mom, or not hitting Marty and letting him have Mom. Neither seem to be good options.

So what can you do? There is the option of "maximum point blank range", an idea that's making the rounds. It isn't a new idea and it's a good, functional idea, but you may find it a little lacking in the accuracy department in the scenario described above. I certainly do. We can, as Aaron Cowan does (or in one case, fails to do) in the second video, use hold over to make the shot. If you've practiced enough, that can work, usually. Of course, if it doesn't, putting a target paster on Mom won't help much. You may be zero at a shorter distance, like 5 yards, but many AR sights don't have the ability to deal with that much parallax.

I'll grant that we're looking at a pretty far-fetched scenario for most of us. The odds that we'll have to pull off this shot are probably right up there with winning the lottery.

It will be some time yet, but I'm going to have to experiment with this. I've gotten my Form 1s back from ATF, and I'm going to be building a couple of specialized ARs for home defense. While these guns may well go shoot some sort of gun games, their primary purpose in life is the defense of the castle. The longest shots I anticipate with them is 100 yards, and the shortest is across the room.

It's a hell of a thing that we have to consider taking such measures.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Brevard County (FL) Sheriff Wayne Ivey Gets It

I wish I could embed this video, but it's on Facebook, so yeah. (Thanks to True Blue Sam for the lesson in how to embed videos from Facebook. I never knew you could do that.) Still, you should go watch it, if for nothing else to see what an elected official who actually understands the situation and who trusts the citizens who put him in office looks like.

For the record, he's warning folks that in the light of the ever increasing terrorist threat, they need to get their carry gun on. Oh, and by the way, if you need help with that, his department teaches a course, free of charge.

Hell, I'd consider moving just to be able to vote for the guy.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Just in case you've been wondering

I have to admit that all this Alt-this and Alt-that have had me a tad confused. Just what is the Alt-Right anyway, and what, all of a sudden, is Alt-Light? Do I dare wonder about the Antifa after the farce of Evergreen State? Well, I finally decided to put the Googles to work and I found these two articles, which seem to come from authorities in the field, so to speak.

What the Alt-Right Is
The 21 Theses of Alt-Christianity

And I managed to do this without linking to the Daily Stormer. Trust me, you don't want to go there. I'm not. Well, not again, anyway. Couldn't manage one for Alt-Light without linking an Antifa site, and I'm not going there, either. Sort of like the Daily Stormer for the other side of the street.

It's starting to feel uncomfortably like the late 60s/early70s these days. I'm just waiting on the bombings and airliner hijackings to start.


(Via SurvivalBlog)

How about a product you can mix on site and apply to your walls to make them bullet proof? If that sounds like something you might be interested in, check out BallistiCrete. Apply it thick enough (2") and it will stop rounds up to 7.62 x 51. This could be some handy stuff.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

June 6, 1944

Once again, we remember the men of Operation Overlord. Here you see one of the iconic photos of that day, taken by Robert Capa, of the first wave of troops storming ashore onto the hell of Omaha Beach.

And once again, I am in awe of these men, and grateful that they were then when the world needed them.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

A bit of progress (Putting up a 6m/2m/70cm beam antenna, Part 4)

Yes, in the fading light of day, there it is in all its glory--an antenna mast. Some progress has finally been achieved. :-)

Actually, I have been gratefully busy with paying work, so most things other than the necessities have taken a back seat to that the past 2-3 weeks. This also explains the quiet around here. When you're doing the consulting thing, people expect to see results rather more quickly than they do from employees. It's why we can charge the ridiculous per hour rates we charge.

The mast has actually worked out well. The coupling wound up about 4 feet down from the support at the peak of the roof. I'm debating if I need to add a wall bracket at that point to give it some extra strength, but I'm leaning toward "No" on that.

I wound up with almost exactly 6 feet of mast above the peak of the roof, which was my goal. That will allow the rotor and the 2m/6m beam and the omni-directional TV antenna. After those go up, I'm going to see if there is some way to add a discone for scanner use, but I think that may be pushing my luck. I have two other roof peaks where I can mount something on a bracket similar to this if I decide I really want that antenna up.

The next big step is to develop the routing for the antenna cables. I've vacillated over this for weeks. The ground height on this end of the house means that the penetration would be at or below ground level, which is not something I would like. Routing it around the back means lengthening the runs, increasing loss and having all that exposed ugly, which Mrs. Freeholder looks askance at. I could take it in through that vent you see and route a conduit down through a closet, but that just strikes me as asking for trouble at some unforeseeable future time--probably about the time something figures out how to get into the attic. It's a pity that my "wireless" as it's known in the former Great Britain couldn't be, well, wireless.

That, however, is the subject for another day. At the moment, I'm just happy to have gotten this far.

Friday, June 02, 2017

The definition of fun

At least for today, the definition of fun is shooting a 14" steel gong at 100 yards with a suppressed .22 pistol, from a rest, and hitting your target--repeatedly.

It would take a lot to get that grin off my face.

Monday, May 29, 2017

I was away from the Intertubz

But forgetting about today and the nature of it? I don't think so.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The slow slide toward civil war continues

On both sides. At this point, we're chumming for sharks nearly as much as they are. It was inevitable. I catch myself doing it.

Can we drag ourselves back from the precipice?

Ocular dominance

There's a topic you don't often see on blogs. :-)

I'm one of the 30% or so of the population who is cursed with being cross-eye dominant. In my case, it's left eye dominant and right handed. It was never a big problem until I took up serious pistol shooting. I have and continue to shut my left eye when shooting rifles, and did the same with pistols. I'm MOA accurate with a rifle and I was acceptably accurate with a pistol.

I wanted better than acceptable accuracy with my pistol. I should have decided I wanted to do something easy, like world peace.

I've been shooting right-handed for something like 45 years. Even though my Dad was naturally left-handed, he was forced to be right-handed. It's just how things were done back then. I show some left hand tendencies (I carried a wallet and wore my watch left-handed for example), but I am right handed. I can't recall for sure, but I may have been forced to be right-handed as well. At this late date it makes no difference. I am for all reasonable purposes right-handed and left eye dominant.

It's a curse.

After trying this thing and that thing, one professional firearms trainer had me start laying my head to my right, all the way to my shoulder, so that I have a right-handed presentation but I can sight with my left eye. It looks weird and can be awkward until you get used to it, which I have. Every amateur wannabe firearms trainer in the world takes me to task for it, and I'm over being lectured by know-nothings.

Really. Those of you who think you know it all, you don't. If you're not cross-eye dominant, try shooting with your off hand, without doing anything to get your dominant eye lined up with the sights or closing the dominant eye, and see how well you do. You'll find that you suddenly suck at aiming. So how about you shoot your targets and I'll shoot mine. Notice that sentence didn't end with a question mark.

A recent run-in with the know-nothings that I wish I could detail but can't or I would blow opsec totally out of the water did lead me to the question, "Can you change your dominant eye?" Well, Wikipedia to the rescue, or at least the starting point.

Although that article is short, there were three interesting things to note.  First, the dominant eye can be changed. That alone was worth the price of admission. Second, a tendency toward of left eye dominance and left-handedness in migraine sufferers. Not important, but as a migraine sufferer, interesting. Third, and most frustrating, a methodology to change eye dominance but with insufficient details on how to actually do it.

So. We have an appointment in a couple of weeks with NuNeurologist. I'm going to ask his opinion of that piece of research and if he thinks an effort to change eye dominance might cause issues with the migraines, or maybe lead to improvements. I need to go to the ophthalmologist anyway, so I plan on discussing the concept with him as a part of the larger discussion of "Can we finally fix my old eyes yet?"

One of the downsides to retirement is time on your hands. You tend to start researching things that you may have been better off not knowing about.

Back to the gardening theme

At least for a moment. If we should happen to get that mini-Ice Age some are calling for, this document from the Alaskan Energy Authority could be very helpful. Biomass Heated Greenhouses. It's a big pdf file at 94 MB, lavishly illustrated and covers the subject not in depth, but in breadth. I think the assumption is that if you live in Alaska, you probably have the brains to figure how the details if someone points you in the right direction.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Food for the Fighters

That's the thing about YouTube. You can spend an entire afternoon on it, wondering from one interesting thing to another.

Shooting the double action revolver the FBI way

(From the Ruger Facebook group)

From 1961, the FBI opines on how to shoot the double action revolver. Don't snicker, there's a lot in it that is still apropos today.

Need to learn something?

(From Reccomendo)

You might want to try Richard Feynman's methodology. If a Nobel Prize winning physicist could use it to reduce complicated subjects down to a level where they could be taught to nearly anyone, it's probably going to work for people like us.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Rethinking hostage rescue

(Via Michael Bane on Facebook)

For those among us who have had reason to be anywhere near those who work in this area, we know that this discussion has been taking place. The nature of hostage taking, at least when it comes to the big, world stage type events, has changed. The bad guys no longer want ransoms or media attention, they want body counts. In many ways, they have become more like our home grown spree killers in the US. Not that this is an improvement.

One of the big improvements in tactical doctrine following the Columbine shooting was a change in thinking from "Secure the perimeter and wait for sufficient backup" to "Get in there and take down the shooter/shooters". Even though this puts responding officers at increased risk, it lessens the amount of time the shooter has to carry out his work.

Hostage Rescue In The Age Of ISIS from the Havok Journal (yes, another link to add to the blogroll) takes an in-depth look at this subject from the eyes of a professional in the field. While I think it's aimed at the pros, it's something that anyone who is interested in armed self defense should consider. While an individual's chance of being swept up in one of these events is small, it isn't zero, and you would be well advised to know what to expect if it happens.

Myself, I see it this way.

 If you have the utter misfortune to get caught up in one of these events as a hostage, in all likelihood you are going to die. Accept the fact and own that bitch. Just be sure you take somebody with you.

Of course, I've lived most of my life now, and as such it's a little easier to say that. If you're in you're 20s or 30s and pissing yourself, trapped with a madman in the restroom of a nightclub, it's harder. But if there are enough of you, attack. Yes, some will die. The rest will disarm the bastard and stomp him into a greasy mess on the floor.

Let ISIS make political hay out of that.

This is getting to be too frequent

The gunny part of the blogosphere has lost another member, this time Bob Owens of Bearing Arms. It wasn't a frequent stop for me, but the loss of any of us diminishes all of us. Rest in peace.

Monday, May 08, 2017

You've got to be kidding me! (Putting up a 6m/2m/70cm beam antenna, Part 3)

So, I've taken the refurbed pipe die apart, and found...

That it has the "wrong" cutting teeth in it. In actuality, the teeth are just fine, they just don't seem to be the right teeth for for this particular die head. I can tell you they fit so tightly in their slots it's impossible to adjust them.  I've looked at several different videos on replacing the teeth and setting up these dies, and they all show them moving freely until you lock them down by tightening the screws that hold the die together. I had to very carefully knock these out with a hammer and punch after I had the die apart. I can't imagine that's right.

It's also not good that they're for "National Pipe Straight Mechanical" (NPSM) rather than the "National Pipe Taper" (NPT) threads that pipe fitting use, so that probably won't help matters when it comes to assembly time for the piece I already have already threaded.

I feel like Marvin the Martian--"Delays, delays."  The $30 replacement teeth should be here Friday. It would be cheaper if I just went back to work.

Gab is now open for business

Gab is now open to the public--1 zillion lines, no waiting! You don't need an invite to get in now, you can just sign yourself up and have at it. Come over and enjoy the fun. I can tell you that whatever you think it is, you're wrong and you're right at the same time. It really is a wide open platform where you can "speak freely". No censorship that I've seen, unlike some of those other social media platforms. If you find something you don't like, you have a couple of choices--exercise your free speech or use their filtering to turn it off. I've done both, and it's been a blast so far.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Welcoming to the blogroll...

For the most part, I've stopped noting when a blog or web site comes or goes from the left hand side of the page. However, I'm making an exception for the Raconteur Report. There is a lot of good stuff there, and worth twice the price of admission.

Further thoughts on why you stay away from demonstrations

(Via Michael Bane on Facebook)

We've talked about how your presence at one of the current crop of demonstrations violates Farnam's 3 Rules of Risk Management. I spent a bit of downtime today watching a live feed from New Orleans where a large crowd of idiots argued with another large crowd of idiots about something that started out about taking down Confederate monuments but has devolved into monkeys flinging shit at each other (IMHO). Fascinating stuff, but 10 minutes of my time was enough to tell me that I really don't want to be anywhere near these events. While I saw no violence, all it would take is one person with an overload of stupid, and *boom*.

However, this piece takes the question on why you should stay away in a totally different, and much more frightening, direction. I have to admit I hadn't considered that our darling government might/could/probably would use it as an excuse to push through laws, especially firearms laws, that they could never get through in any normal circumstances. That's scary as hell, and I should have seen it myself. Remember, never let a crisis go to waste, and this would be a crisis that would make the Watts riots look like the Girl Scouts had ran out of cookies early. As with 9/11, you could use it to push through a lot of evil.

So now we are faced with the concept that staying away from the feces flinging monkeys isn't only good for our personal safety, but for our safety as a group. It's also important because it allows the current state to keep a lid on things a while longer, allowing us more time to get ready for whatever it is that we all fear is coming. After reading this, I have to wonder if maybe we're all fearing the wrong things. How deep do the plans run?

I'm becoming more of a conspiracy theorist by the day.

OK, so it's one groups opinion

(From the AR15 Builder group on Facebook)

The Best AR-15 Lowers for Any Budget, early 2017 edition. Nice to see Anderson in there, since I have two of them that I'm going to do Form 1 builds on. Time, time, time.

So, how hard can it be to put up one little mast? (Putting up a 6m/2m/70cm beam antenna, Part 2)


Since the original post, where things went swimmingly, it seems the Fates have been conspiring against me to some extent.

First we've been contending with Weather Control, who have apparently gotten into my calendar and planned high winds, rain, high winds and rain, tornadoes and other fun manifestations of unpleasant weather for most of the days where I was planning on working on this little project.

Second, there was an unplanned but very pleasant trip to the beach. Third, it seems that the NuNeurologist and I may need to get together and compare notes--the damn migraine attacks are starting to increase in frequency again. And fourth there are all the other duties of living--the guns don't clean themselves, you know.

Click to embiggenate
However, in between all those things, there has been some progress. Knowing that that end of the Freehold had both the cable TV line (which no longer carries cable TV but does carry the all-important Intertubz connection) and the power lines buried along it, I decided that discretion was in order and put in a locate order with our local "before you dig" folks. That took a week, but I got some pretty painted lines and flags to show for it, along with knowing for sure I'm not going to hit a 240v, 200 amp service line by accident.

If you look carefully, you'll see my white "flags" that define my digging box, the yellow flag that is approximately where the bottom of the mast will be and the pretty orange and red flags/lines that denote the location of the cable and power lines. This picture is from nearly 3 weeks ago, and fortunately unseasonably cool weather has kept those bushes from growing much in the meantime.

Also click to embiggenate
While this was going on, as I noted earlier I needed a 1" pipe threading die. I was able to find a refurbed one, and since I haven't threaded pipe in 40+ years, a handy YouTube video to refresh my memory on the process. Obviously, I don't have the nice new tools the dude in the video has. I have a old Rigid 00-R threader, an old Nye 2N pip cutter and an old Reed pipe vise. Outside of the 1" die, which is probably old, this was all inherited from my Dad, who had plumbed several houses with it over the years. I also have all the various size pipe wrenches to go with it.

Mrs. Freeholder continues to ask why I keep this old "junk". Well, dear, because I can't thread pipe with your Precious Moments figurine collection.

Interestingly enough, although it's pretty frustrating at the moment, after threading the ends on the first pipe, we (Son is playing assistant pipe fitter) ran into a problem that I'm hoping I have the solution for. We started to thread the second piece and around halfway through the operation part of the newly threaded section broke off. We cut it off and tried again, and again, and again with the same result. Googling has provided me with what I hope is the solution, information that pipe threading dies must be "set" and another YouTube video that demonstrates the procedure to properly set the dies. I'm betting my refurbed 1" die wasn't properly set, as the problems ascribed to an incorrectly set die sound remarkably like what's happening to us.

Being that it's a Sunday, I'm not much on heavy work, but I may try the setting procedure and then make another try at threading tomorrow. If that works, then it's put the entire mast together, get the hole dug, place the mast and pour cement. After that will be drilling the penetration in the wall, which I have already found out will be far more entertaining than I at first expected. Not sure when ll this will get done, as there are other things that I need to accomplish as well while the outdoor weather is still Spring-like.

The joys of retirement. You have more work than ever to accomplish, and it feels like less time to get it done.