Saturday, July 15, 2006

I just saw the tiniest 4-wheel vehicle I've ever seen

on a public road. Bright red, right-hand drive, boxy shape with a hatchback, the door windows slid fore & aft, I think the little red wagon my kids used to have had wheels almost as big as this car, and on the back it said 'Mini-Minor'.

Only picture I can find of one in a quick search is this from an Ebay ad:

It actually looks smaller in person. I'd be afraid somebody on a Segway wouldn't see me and would run over me.

Can you say "greedy"?

They're having some kind of drag-boat meet in the Bricktown area of downtown this weekend.

It was 100 yesterday, same expected today & tomorrow, with swamp-level, "the gators are thinking about travelling north" humidity. And they announced the other day that you're not allowed to bring water.

Oh no, you have to buy it there. At, if past experience is a guide, probably $2-3 for a 20oz bottle.

Fat effin' chance.

Friday, July 14, 2006

To the girls in the low-rise jeans

and bikini top at the laundromat:

Darlin', I realize you enjoy being looked at. Now, don't give me that crap about "No I don't!"; nobody who doesn't like it would walk around in public that way. To do laundry, no less.

Bikini top, ok. But those jeans... You took low-rise jeans, left the top button undone and rolled the waistband down so it barely coverd your pubic area in front and left the top of your buttcrack open to public view. And I've got news for you: you didn't look real good dressed that way.

Fact is, there's damn few who really would, that's a tough look for a woman to carry off without looking like either a hooker or music video background-wannabe. No, you're not fat, that's not it, you just don't look good dressed like that.

Remember Elsa the lion?

It was some years ago, she was one of several orphaned lion cubs raised by the Adamson family. There was both a book and a movie(Born Free) about them. Then, as so often happens when dealing with wild animals, Bad Things Happened.

Peter Capstick wrote about some of the events, when I have a chance I'll dig out his books and find it. For now, Keith the Commenter sent me this excerpt from Man Magnum magazine in South Africa, from letters to the editor:
Elsa 1

When I wrote about the demise of Elsa (Jan ’06 edition) I ended by saying “a can of worms I fear”. Adrian House’s letter (“Elsa not man-eater”, May issue) proves me to be correct. But he is writing about Elsa when she was under Joy Adamson’s control, I am not. I knew William Hale and all east African professional hunters knew Ian Grimwood. I am sure they all read and approved of Adrian House’s book.

Later, when Elsa was fending for herself and her cubs in the wild, but having no fear of humans, she chose the easy way out. Lion had been vermin in Kenya for many years and were shot on sight, hence had an inbred fear of humans; Elsa had none. Ken Randal was not dreaming when he was shown the half eaten body of the game scout, and was told by the other game scout that he could not shoot the lioness, as it was Elsa that they were supposed to protect. When Ken informed the game department, he was told not to touch anything, they were on their way, and after removing the game scout’s remains, they replaced it with game meat which Elsa later ate. Shortly after that, the game department announced that Elsa had died of worms!

The game scout was sworn to secrecy and Ken was told not to talk about what he had seen. I visited Ken in his catching camps, at which time we both shared the same sorrow of knowing our loved ones had terminal cancer, so he confided in me on condition I told no one. (Ken’s livelihood depended on licences obtained from the game department.) It was not until 35 years later, having read Harry Selby’s remarks in Magnum on man-eaters that I broke my silence.

As a farmer and hunter in Kenya and having been a hunter in other African countries, I have never heard of an indigenous animal dying of tick fever (ECF) to which they are supposed to be immune. Pictures in the Kenya press of Elsa and her siblings (when Elsa was going to Joy Adamson and the others to zoos), showed that they were about 14 inches high at the withers; I have watched and filmed lion cubs half that size eating at the remains of a kill.

The Kenya game department did not want the truth known, as they were afraid the money coming in from Elsa’s fame would dry up. Unfortunately the one person from the game department who would confirm this, the late Rodney Elliot, with whom I first hunted in 1947, passed on to the happy hunting grounds in December 2005. It was said of Rodney, “He would take his own mother to court for breaking the game laws in his area.” Rodney did not go along with the story of Elsa dying of worms. Rodney was the last European Senior Warden to leave the department and was quite willing to talk about the cover-up. It appears Adrian House was completely taken in by it.

John Northcote,

Elsa 2
I heard there was a problem with Elsa a long time ago. When the last three of that “brood” from the Adamson lion familywere released into the Tuli block in Botswana, it created quite a stir. The Zimbabwe Dept of National Parks & Wildlife were issuing heavy lion quotas to the Zimbabwe hunters association (who hunted the Tuli Circle at the time) and also to the campfire project.

I received at least a dozen letters asking / pleading / demanding that we stop hunting lion in that area before these three famous and semi tame lion were shot. End result? I had to shoot one as a man-eater. A local farmer shot one that was killing domestic livestock, and a Bo-tswana policeman bravely shot the third (with a handgun I believe) when he saw the lioness stalking a woman.

I returned both collars taken from the lion shot on our side, officially handed over by Zimbabwe Parks to Botswana authorities. At the time, Rowan Martin was deputy director research, and he refused to let me send them the bill for my mileage, time etc. Human acclimatized lion released into the wild were a major pain in my time as a parks officer, and almost all ended up with a bullet in them, for good reason.

Dr Don Heath
Formerly Senior Ecologist, Zim NP&W

Which further points out one of the big problems with 'rehabilitating' a lot of animals, espeically predators: they wind up with no fear of/respect for man, and unless they learn that, people get chomped and the critter gets killed. Capstick once wrote that in/around some of the game parks in Africa where hunting was banned, it used to be that the sound of a gunshot would clear the predators out; they'd either move away or hide out. But at the time he wrote, a gunshot from a ranger killing a cripple or culling a herd would bring lions from long distances; a shot meant dead animal, or at least the guts, to eat. Which led to less respect for the people and more problems.

And who needs more problems with 3-400 pound predators?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Speaking of painful injuries and possible death,

let me tell you about the first time I went rapelling.

Friend(who I still have) mentioned that he was going with a guy to a place on Fort Sill to practice rapelling. This sounded like a capital idea, as I'd never tried it, so I grabbed my motorcycle helmet and off we went.

Understand that I had absolutely no idea what we were about to do except 'dangle on a rope over a long drop', so my enthusiasm speaks of either possible terminal dumbass or courage through ignorance. I either case we met the guy at the spot where the Army trained people in this activity. Numerous towers facing a place called Medicine Bluff, and I(remember the dumbass part?) thought we'd try the towers a time or two first. Oh, no. The guy led us across the stream and over a trail to the top of the bluff. Very nice setup, big concrete block with back-angled pipes to tie off to with a pipe set into the front edge to protect the ropes, and a slab with another pipe in the face of the bluff. So the guy showed us how to tie a Swiss seat and hook the rope through the carabiner, then gave some advice on how to get over the edge.

Ok, no problem. I'd brought gloves, so after watching him I hooked up and edged over the face(a lot trickier than I'd expected) and started down. About 115 feet down on a 125-foot rope.

Went great. Numerous small slides & bounces and landed on the platform at the bottom without incident. Did this two or three times and loved it. No problem.

Until I got home. Walked in, Dad asked what we'd been doing and I happily said "Rapelling at Medicine Bluff". A moment of shocked look, and then he verbally had a cow. Angrily. Mostly at my going off to do this with Friend, who'd done it the grand total of once before, somewhat less as he advised me that the Army didn't use the face for training anymore because the engineers had advised them the bluff face was unstable. As in chunks large and small could break off. Say, from the shock of people kicking off the face as they went down. Maybe breaking off above said person sliding down the rope.

I was in the proverbial doghouse for a week after that, as I recall. Parents were truly pissed, somewhat tempered by the fact that I was uninjured. But they were pissed at Friend, too.

It was fun, though.

Ref the post on 'the wonderful past'

I did a few days ago(here), Keith had- among other things- this in the comments:
I´m working in the third world at present and have all the kids from the local slum coming to shite on my site, they all have coughs from parasitic worms in their lungs.

While we see a lot of kids, we don't see many people at all over 40 and anyone over 60 is a real rarity. The big killers here are the shits and malaria.

If that makes people squeamish, stop reading now!

Even in european countries like Ireland, you don't have to look far to find women who have had a pregnancy every year of their reproductive lives from age 17 or 18. In my age group, 5 kids was a small family, 15 was not unusual.

Go back a century and most of those births would have died inside a year.

Even those who survived childhood would have run a very high mortality rate from Tetnus, scepticeamia etc, not to mention being conscripted into armies, accidents with draught animals etc.

Metal miners lifespans depended on the rock type and living conditions, I gather mid thirties was about tops in the 19th century, once compressed air drills were introduced. miners working in sandstone and drilling dry were lucky to last a year! The same went for refactories workers.

Medieval coal (and associated iron stone miners were serfs (slaves) the men did the pick work, their women the hauling and their kids the sorting. working was by sinking a shaft, working the ground around it until it became too unstable then sinking another shaft. Metal and coal miners often lived in a coe, (a shelter built around the shaft top).

The bit about miners reminded me of something. In the cutlery industry in Sheffield everything was broken into sections; the smith who forged the blade, the grinder who ground it, the man who heat-treated it, the polisher, etc. The various grinders used sandstone wheels- which they had to buy themselves-, and as they wore down they would sell them to the guy who needed a smaller wheel(rough-grinder selling to fine grinder selling to razor grinder, etc.) Sandstone wears down quickly, putting a lot of dust into the air. And that dust will tear your lungs up. I can't remember the name of the disease(silicosis?), but it was called 'grinders disease' or 'grinders lung' it was so common. No dust mask, no dust collection system, lousy ventilation in general...

Oh yeah, some parts of the past sucked. Bigtime.

A morning at the range

definately starts the day off right.

Although when I awoke to thunder and pouring rain, I thought it was off. But I called the range which is about 15-20 miles west of town and found it hadn't rained there at all, so I loaded up, picked up son and headed out.

First time we'd had a chance to shoot in quite a while, and he went through most of the ammo he had for the #4 Mk1 Enfield he got for his birthday last year, and then, never having fired it before, went through a bunch of .22's in the Enfield trainer. Good day.

I had to do two things. First, sight in the Savage Scout rifle. I'd replaced the bead front sight with a white-line XS post and needed to zero it, and since the mount screws had loosened I wanted to make sure the scope was putting them where it should. It is now.

Second, I mentioned a while back helping work on one of the India-made Enfield rifles in .308(described by Kim here). First time shot it, it was with some of the India produced .308 ball and results were, to keep it short, bloody awful. The bore on that rifle is spotless, sights not loose or anything, so I thought it might be the ammo, so today took it along with a couple of boxes of Portuguese ball, and the difference was bloody amazing. With the Indian ammo it shot 'groups' of about six inches at 50 yards; with the Portuguese it was getting about 3" at 100. MUCH better.

So be warned: the Indian .308 we used is bloody awful. Don't know if all of it is that bad, but I wouldn't buy any unless I got it cheap to pull the bullets or something.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Ammo situation

is kind of weird. Went by two shops today. Lots of Wolf pistol ammo, most rifle ammo available. 7.62x39 is out in the 'Wolf Classic Military'. Last time I bought a 500 pack it was the newer-type coated cases for about $2.25/box or so; time before that was $2.00/box. Now it's at least $3.75/box, and at the last gun show I went to it was $5 a box at some tables.

One local store, Outdoor America, was out of .45acp. I mean completely out. Ball and HP. Had some .45GAP, but that was it. I think they have been out for a couple of weeks. The Gold Dot 9mm in the 124-grain loads was up about $2/box of 50; the 145-grain was up about $12/box of 50.

Only surplus .308 I saw was South African and OA had some if the India-made. Didn't see any of the battle-packs of .223.

So prices are up on everything but not with regularity, some just a bit and some a lot. Some stuff, particularly in military calibers is harder to find and the prices on some of that is way up.

Some of it I can figure, but why the run on .45? Just people buying it up, or is the government getting a lot more since they're using more .45 pistols and looking to replace more of the 9mm pistols?


Not your dancing, dammit, the blade. Had time this morning to do the work on the blade I forged a few days ago, so here it is.

For heavy stock removal or odd shapes I use a regular wheel grinder, but for this one I can do everything on the belt sander.

It's a 6x48" belt with a 9" wheel on the side. Since I flat-grind almost everything, it's worked very well over time. If I've got a big blade or a lot of stock to remove, I'll use a 60-grit belt to take off the worst, then an 80-grit for the rest of the rough grinding. Remember, each finer grit has to get rid of the scratches from the previous, so if you take it too far down with the coarse ones you may have the choice of either leaving a ratty-looking finish or making the piece too thin.

I would strongly recommend having a bucket of water handy; the piece will get hot, and it's a good idea to cool it off before you yell "Ouch!" or something more expressive and the belt or disk shoots the piece off somewhere.

One more thing: use a sharp belt whenever possible. A sharp belt(or disk) runs cooler and cuts faster. Please note that 'cuts faster' holds true for your body parts, too; accidentally stick a knuckle into a moving belt, or- worse sometimes because it'll cut- the edge of the belt, and I promise you it will hurt. And bleed. And look like hell while it's healing.

This is not where I usually set this up, but with the chance of more storms I decided, for the one piece, to just set it here.

I started on the disk, using it to flatten the back and curve the point down a bit, then flatten the edge and curve it properly up to meet the back and form the point. Then clean up the butt shape, and touch up the bottom of the grip.

Then I used the 80-grit belt to clean up the work so far,

leaving a nice, clean profile.

Now I like to flatten the sides of the tang. I hold the piece by the point and use a push stick to put light pressure on. With a big blade you might need a heavier stick and a lot more pressure, but a sharp belt helps a lot and requires less pressure.

Do one side, then flip it over and hit the other and you wind up with something like this

If you're going for a clean finish, no hammer marks left, you'd take it a bit further than this, remembering to keep the thickness in mind so you don't take too much off. Generally you leave a piece a little thicker all around so you can grind off all the marks and have the piece the final size you want. A lot of times I'll not do that; for some pieces people like seeing the forge marks.

In any case, you you grind the bevels. You're holding the piece flat on the angle from the back to the edge, not level with the tang. So you have to keep that angle steady while you work; takes a bit of practice. And yes, use both hands; I had to take these with the camera in one hand. Use a push stick as needed to hold things in place. You can let a piece get pretty hot at this stage, there's no temper to ruin. I've seen people use either welding gloves or locking pliers to hold the tang and a push stick to put heavy pressure on, and the metal gets hot enough to burn the stick. So start on one side, work it a bit,

then cool it off and switch to the other side. It's generally best to keep the back toward the direction the belt comes from.

That gets you here

I wanted to clean up the shape where the tang & blade meet, so in this case I clamped it in the vise and used a file to touch it up.

Here it is now

Clean profile, bevels cut in, tang flat. I left some hammer marks in the bevels because taking them off now would make the blade thinner than I want it to be for hardening; with a small piece like this it's no problem to grind them out after. With a big blade, or if you left it thick enough, it's best to take it to at least a 120-grit finish, 240 is better. That gives nice smooth surface, less grinding after heat-treating and thus less chance of overheating it.

I took a hand-held belt sander and rounded off the corners of the table on this sander in the center, leaving the corners square ahead and behind. Did the same thing to round off the corners of the face of the anvil for about the first 1/3 to 1/2 of the face behind the horn.

It's a good idea to have a grinder set where, when it grabs something out of your hands(don't worry, it will) you won't have to search through the high grass/boxes/etc. to find it.

I think it was Wayne Goddard who wrote about using a long magnet as a holder for long blades he was flat-grinding; not only protects your hand from the heat, makes it less likely the thing will go shooting off the grinder if your other hand slips. Someone told him about it, so the idea continues on.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

On living in 'The Wonderful Past'

Over at Kim's place there's this post on the 'noble savage' crap. I say 'crap' because that ideal is just that. Which reminded me of a similar situation someone once brought up.

At Medieval Fair, as I was hammering away on something, someone brought up the idea of being able to travel back to medieval or pre-medieval times to live, and wouldn't that be so wonderful for me? I didn't quite laugh at them, but it was close; I try to be polite to people. After regaining control I explained some of the reasons why it would NOT be all that wonderful, and thought I'd recap some of them here.

Steel, at that time, was usually damn hard to come by. So, for that matter, was wrought iron, which is why any blacksmith you'll find will still have a pile of bits & pieces left over from earlier pieces; recycling wasn't politically correct, it sometimes meant survival in your trade at minimum. Whereas nowadays I can go to a salvage yard and for $.20/pound buy scrap steel that is of better quality than most smiths through history ever saw. Want virgin metal for a special project? A little more expensive. I can pull up, for instance, the Enco catalog and order drill rod and other high-carbon stock in round or flat bar and have it delivered to the door.

I ain't no peasant, which with some exceptions all smiths were; and even the high-ranking artisans were generally still just a damn workman of no particular social standing or value. You depended on pleasing the lord of the area for both work and staying alive. And not pissing off some passing bandit who'd decide to rob and kill you.

Medical care at the time was, for the most part, nothing to look hopefully toward. I've been burned, cut and otherwise injured, and with the wonders of modern medicine had nothing more than stitches in the long term. I had a long term, which(especially in the case of appendicitis) would not have been the case in the past. Not to mention all the other stuff that's a nuisance nowadays; back then could be crippling and/or a death sentance.

Food is a lot more varied and cheap now. Bitch all you want about various aspects; fresh meat, fruits & veggies, cheese year 'round, bread you don't have to bake yourself, ways to keep it all fresh instead of going bad in a day or two. And, if you need a little something extra, supplements available cheap from vitamins to glucosimine.

Justice, despite the bullshit in our system is a LOT more available now than back then.

And, it being a fact that my shoulder is not up to a whole lot of swordwork now, having a firearm in case of self-defense need beats hell out of keeping an axe or sword and shield handy. You ever tried using a real shield? I'll keep my Benelli, thank you kindly.

Which all ties into something else; people who think that going back to, say, a 4- or 500 A.D. time would be better because things were so much cleaner without all the industrial crap in the air. Just to keep this to one field,
Do you plan to have metals? For farming and hunting tools(forget about fighting tools; in this view they usually think violence will be rare)? That means the following:
Mining to get the ores.
Fuel for the smelters and forges. With no gas or electricity, that means either coal or charcoal. Coal means more mining; charcoal means cutting down and burning trees. A LOT of trees, since charcoal has less energy per pound than you get from good coal. Say goodbye to lots of forest.
And so on, from there. No way to preserve meat except smoking and drying(unless you live near a place where you can get a lot of salt). Lots of diseases, including tetanus since there's no vaccine and you use lots of horses & oxen as draft animals. Like to sit in the evening and read? No books, or else so rare that you can't get one, and after sundown it's too damn dark to read. No music unless you make it yourself. And so on.

No question, there were good things about back then. But in the overall, if I could go back it'd be for visits; I like hot water out of a faucet and clean sheets on the bed and air conditioning. That's another point; a lot of the people talking about the 'wonderful old days' have never been without heating in the winter and cooling in the summer except when walking outside. I've been through Oklahoma summers without anything except a fan; like it is tonight, you lay with the fan on you and you still sweat and pray for fall to come soon. Screw that.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

In which the UN, for now, gives up

I know a lot of other people have noted this, but The Volokh Conspiracy has note of the end of the UN Gun-Grabber & Nanny-State Socialist(I repeat myself) Conference, which basically gave up, and I have to say something about it.

Gave up with no plans for future conferences because "...that draft document eliminated various provisions that the U.S. delegation had found objectionable, but also declared that there would be at least two more conferences. The U.S. delegation refused to assent, and so the conference ended with no consensus agreement, and no plans for future conferences.

So, because the inimitable John Bolton & Co. passed on the word that if the weenies did what they wanted the U.S. would say "Up yours" in polite terms, this waste of time, oxygen and money ended without success in their primary aim: a treaty that would trash our Constitution.

No, I'm not being alarmist. Just about every amendment in the Constitution pisses off various governments, dictators and bureaucrats around the world; and because we ARE the 800-pound gorilla in the room, they can't get around us. And as pissed as I am at Bush about various things, as Volokh puts it, If a few hundred votes had changed in Florida in 2000, or if 60,000 votes had changed in Ohio in 2004, the results of the 2001 and 2006 U.N. gun control conferences would have been entirely different. There would now be a legally binding international treaty creating an international legal norm against civilian gun ownership, a prohibition on the transfer of firearms to "non-state actors" (such as groups resisting tyrants), and a new newspeak international human rights standard requiring restrictive licensing of gun owners. With a Presidential signature on such a treaty (even if the treaty were never brought to the Senate floor for ratification), the principles of the anti-gun treaty would be eroding the Second Amendment, through Executive Orders, and through the inclination of some courts to use unratified treaties as guidance in interpretting the U.S. Constitution.

Which is one of the reasons the thought of President Kerry or Gore or Clinton gives me cold chills. And the urge to load a bandolier of ammo, just in case.

Additional: if you're stupid enough to think I'm threatening those people, you're probably too stupid to read this and understand it. "...just in case" refers to gun-grabbing minions showing up at your door demanding "Give up your guns or else!" To repeat the Geeks' words to Rebecca Peters, Molon Labe, bitches.

Or his followup, "And to our enemies, well,

Fuck y'all, ya hear?"

Carnival of Cordite #64 is up

Over at Spank That Donkey, shirt contest and all.