Saturday, October 23, 2004

Whee, I've got a counter!

Now read this damn thing. I do not want to have expended all that effort to see '0' in the 'how many visits' readout.

Back From The Show!

Also known as, Damn, my feet hurt

From 8 this morning 'till 6 this evening at the Wanamacher Gun Show in Tulsa. Firearms in all directions, ammo and cleaning stuff and knives and components and tools and books and, and, and...

God, it was a long day but I like a good show. Besides finding stuff to drool over and/or buy and/or talk about, you can meet some interesting folks. And there's stuff to look at and go, "Huh?"

Case in point, finally saw some ammunition for the .17 Aguila. It's basically a .22 Long Rifle case necked down to hold a tiny .17 caliber bullet. What makes it a "huh?" is that there was not a single firearm in the whole bloody show chambered for it.

Neat stuff, among other things was a beautiful BSA Martini rifle. This is a British single-shot, in this case with a kangaroo stamp on the barrel, 'Commonwealth of Australia' and NSW on the receiver. Beautiful condition, and very tempting, except for one thing.

There is a type of ammo called a 'wildcat'. Usually, someone has a bright idea for a new cartridge, makes or has made dies to take brass from an existing cartridge and reshape it, gets some suitable bullets and works up loads for it. Sometimes this leads to a cartridge that gets very popular and some major company begins making it, like the 7mm/08. Other times it remains a curiosity. This lovely rifle was chambered for a round made by necking .22 Hornet cases down to .17 caliber. The rifle came with the forming dies, but... Some cases can be a pain to form, then they should be fireformed to fit the chamber of that firearm(load with a light powder charge and bullet, shoot), then you can work up a load that's actually usable. With that to do just to shoot it, no thank you.

In a way it's probably a good thing; if it had been some standard cartridge I'd have been damn tempted to make an offer, so I was saved from temptation. Dammit.

Some various bits & pieces did come home with me, and had the day with a friend, so all worked out well. Or so I'm telling my legs.

By the way, do not be fooled. Seriously hot ladies are to be seen at such events, often wearing leather and shirts with things like "Body piercing by Ruger" on them. How can people not like gun shows?

Friday, October 22, 2004

John Kerry, why do I distrust thee? Let me count the ways...

Someone dug up a statement he made in an interview some years back during the mess in Bosnia. Boils down to, sending American troops to die in an action approved by the U.N. is good; sending American troops to die in the SAME ACTION, but not approved by the U.N., is bad.

There is just so much wrong with this. He's saying an action is good ONLY if the U.N. approves it; he's saying that as long as the U.N. approves something, send people to die, whether we the peasant- excuse me, people, think it's a good idea or not.

On this alone, I could not vote for this clown for president.

By the way, the ban the U.N. bureaucracy wants on the 'trafficking in small arms'? Besides the fact they mean that to include banning the private ownership of any arms in any country, this would, if actually enforced, keep any people trying to revolt against a dictator (Saddam, anyone?) from being able to obtain arms to fight with.
Sounds just like what that bunch of transnational progressives would want. And Kerry would help them.


Thursday, October 21, 2004

The weather, she do come around

This time of year, Oklahoma is schizophrenic. Cold & damp, followed by hot & dry, then hot & damp, etc. A couple of days ago, it was almost chilly during the day, it was chilly in the morning. Today, it hit 90.

When I moved here, one of the things I did was plant a pecan tree. I love pecans to eat, and the trees bring squirrels around, and they shade the yard. So I'd planned, whenever I found a house, that I'd plant at least one. I spent a chunk of today digging up a circle around the tree and setting shale flakes into the circumference as a border. Personally, I think it looks pretty good. It's the same border I put around the roses, so my yard is coordinated. So far, at least.

Some of the leaves on the tree are turning yellow, warning of nasty days to come. And something's been chewing on some of the leaves, so I'm going to spray for the little bastards. They will die for messing with my tree.

October is a month of extremes here. I've seen it below freezing and icy, and so hot and dry that walking in the woods sounded like you're stepping on potato chips. And you cannot trust the weather weenies. Couple of days ago, they said the fog & clouds would go away by noon; then by early afternoon; then "it'll be cloudy all day". I do not trust them, they've lied to me too many times.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Swords are one of the most misunderstood tools around. From bad descriptions in books (i.e., "as the Viking lifted his sword, so long and heavy an average man could not wield it") to junk handled at stores, people have a lot of incorrect ideas about them.

I'll concentrate mostly on European swords, as that's where most of my knowledge lies. To hit some categories:
A: Size In the medieval period, the average broadsword fit in a range of 32 to 36 inches overall length, pommel to point.
B: Weight These same swords weighed in a range from 2 to 3 pounds. Doesn't sound like much, but try this; take a piece of rebar three feet long, weighing 3 pounds, find a dead tree or heavy fence post, and start swinging. It won't be long before your tongue's hanging out and your arm & shoulder is on fire. This is work, no way around it.
C: Materials Steel for the blade, of course, but quality could range from superb to crap, depending on who made it and where. Most sword blades were made in one of a half-dozen cutlery centers in Europe, places where iron deposits, forests for charcoal, and water for transport and to run waterwheels were available. Any good blacksmith could turn out a knife, an axe or spearhead; standard tools everywhere, and the spear was a tool of the hunter as well as a weapon. But a sword...

For a quality piece, a sword demands the best of materials & workmanship. It has to be tough enough not to break on repeated impacts, hard enough to hold a decent cutting edge, and light enough to swing & thrust. One reason a sword was a tool of noblemen, and came to be seen in many cases as much a badge of rank as a weapon, was the cost of making it. In a time when nobody could make steel in any real quantity of consistent quality, knowledge was required. Take a bar of steel that you may have made yourself from iron by case-hardening. Forge it to a square or rectangular bar, then fold it, and weld it. Draw it out longer, and fold/weld again, and keep doing it. Get sloppy, you burn the piece and ruin it. Take too many heats to do the number of folds you need, and you lose a lot of stock(some of the stuff you see on an anvil after hammering a piece is scale; hot iron or steel combines with oxygen in the air and forms it, so every time you work a piece you lose a little bit of your stock). When it's ready you have to shape it into the blade, then harden & temper it /both very tricky with a sword/, and then finish grind and polish it. If a weld didn't quite take, it might not show until you harden it, when it cracks; or it may show up as a flaw when you polish it, either may completely ruin the blade.

Our ancestors wouldn't have known what we mean by metallurgy, but they knew how to do things. In the early 1900's, someone in England found a Saxon warchief's grave, complete with all the stuff he'd been buried with, including his sword. It was badly corroded, of course. Later, someone had the idea to x-ray it, and wonder followed. This thing was made as follows:
The center was a series of square bars of wrought iron, with twists at regular intervals, the bars stacked with opposing twists together and welded to make the body;
The edge was a piece of pattern-welded steel, made as described above, shaped to match the forged and ground profile of the body, then welded on, a section at a time.
The piece was filed and ground to profile; the fuller- groove- down the center was chiseled out, then ground smooth & even; the bevels to the edges ground & filed, all a little oversize; and the tang, where the guard, grip & pommel would fit on, was cleaned & shaped.
As it was now, it wouldn't work well, because it would bend on impact (remember the iron core?), so they made up a mix someone, somehow, had worked out; charcoal, bone meal, pigeon droppings, other carbon-bearing stuff; and coated the blade with it. Then it was put in a clay chest, on a bed of sand and with other sand poured over, then the chest sealed, and placed into a furnace. Kept at about 1500 degrees F long enough, a wonderful thing happened; the surface of the iron core became steel, and a little more carbon soaked into the edge /remember I mentioned case-hardening?/. When it piece was pulled out of the chest it was quenched- hardened-, tempered, ground to final shape and polished, and then washed with acid. Different layers in the blade were shown by the acid etching, and those opposing twists in the iron bars now became chevrons running up and down the blade.

Now you have a sword blade with a soft iron core, extremely tough; a strong, springy steel skin over it; and an edge hard enough to cut and tough enough not to break. A piece of artistry in steel as fine as you'll ever see. And made as a working tool; no chieftain with a working brain would carry a sword or axe, no matter how fancy, that wouldn't work.

If you get a chance, look up the Sutton Who gravesite and sword.

I cannot imagine, with work like this in the past, why some people think our ancestors were all a bunch of fools.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Blade shapes

One of the things that can either complicate things or make them easy is the shape you decide to make a blade. Single- or double-edge, spear-point or drop-point, clip-point either straight or concave, leaf, or combinations thereof.

The basic dagger is simple enough, usually narrow with the sides either tapering from the base to the point, or parallel until they taper in to the point. Take a wide dagger parallel-side shape, there's your basic spear point. Take that, and between the ricasso(base where it meets the guard) and a spot a little behind the point, curve the edges in toward the center, kind of a wasp-waist, and you have a leaf. Start with a straight back, curve it down a little toward the point, then grind the edge up to meet it, you have a drop-point.

Take a spear-point, and on the back- about a third of the way back from the point- instead of a convex curve shape the back into a straight line to the point, you have a clip point. Instead of a straight line, you can grind a concave curve. And so on.

The cross-section of the piece can be any of several. Wide at the black tapering in straight or convex or concave angles to the point. The area between the back and the point where the angle to the edge- the bevel- starts can be flat, with one of the above noted shapes from that point on. A dagger is usually a diamond, widest in the centerline and tapering to both edges; it can also be flat on one side, with the tapers on the other, like a triangle. And in some blades you can combine these, depending on what you're after.

And what you pick depends on what you are trying to make. The original Bowie knife most likely looked a lot like a chef's knife; later versions had clip points that were sometimes sharpened. In a general-use blade, this has a lot going for it. A dagger is more limited in usefulness. A spear-point or sharpened clip bowie combines a good shape with the penetrating power in a thrust of a dagger.

My favorites to make are some variation on a drop- or clip-point, and the leaf-blade. For general use the first are hard to beat, and for beauty I love the leaf. Drawback of the leaf is finishing it; grinding and polishing one so the angles are even on both sides and along the curves is a bitch. But oh, when you get it right...

Joys of home ownership pt. 2

The city inspector came by to check my new furnace, and found four things that weren't 'up to code' or didn't meet his approval. So this morning the installers came back out and redid/changed the specified points.

Now, I understand the idea behind this, especially on something like a heater that can kill people if improperly installed. But I get the feeling this inspector might have found something to disapprove it for no matter what. If the contractor has to re-do something, the next inspection costs them $75; being the somewhat cynical guy I am, I wonder if that has something to do with it? I may be completely wrong, but I do wonder.

There's a reason California gets called 'Granola Country'

In particular, their gun laws. Clayton Cramer has something on that today. One of the things that ticks me about crap like this is that if just plain citazen 'forgot about' having a gun and tried to get on a plane, they'd be in jail. But not him, no.

From what I've read their gun laws are friggin' insane, a big reason why I would never want to live there..

Monday, October 18, 2004

We're SORRY!!!

Apparently there's a movement (possibly related to bowels) of people apologizing to the Iraqi people for our nastiness. So what if there are no more mass graves being dug? So what if Uday & Qusay aren't raping and killing your daughters any more? So what if you can read and set up a satellite dish and..? Oh, never mind.

Aside from the annoyance, there's the arrogance of these flakes. "We're so sorry that the rest of the population isn't as peaceful and understanding and patient as WE are, so WE will apologize for all the troglodytes that aren't even smart enough to realize what fools they are."

Effin' wankers.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

'Mail Call'

is a good show. The Gunny makes it interesting in more ways than one, and if I can't shoot/blowup/try out some of this stuff, at least I can watch him do it!

'Mythbusters' has it's good points, too. I do disagree with some of their methods or findings, but overall I like it. And they like blowing things up, too.

Don't get to see either very often, someday I may have to get cable.

If I could get cable and only have to pay for the ten, maybe twelve channels I'd actually watch, I'd order it. But damned if I want to pay 40 or 50 dollars a month for a lot of channels I wouldn't watch.


are useful things. They remind you of places to look at, and let other people, who may not have seen a place, know they ought to take a look at it.

That being said, I'm not planning to put a long one here. If there's actually anyone reading this stuff, do this: check out the places I'm linking to, and check out their rolls. That'll take you to places where you can check out more places.
There's not enough time in the day to check them all out.