31 August 2008

Math musings

The relationship X squared minus one equals X minus one times X plus one popped into my head as I was trying to fall asleep.

x^2 - 1 = (x-1) (x+1)

This works for all integers between -5 and 11, at least by my trying to fall asleep math.

This works out to x^2 - 1 = x^2 + x - x - 1 and to simplify x^2 -1 = x^2 -1

What this really means is that to find the numbers one greater than and one lesser than a square root that happens to be an integer will have a some one unit less than a perfect square.

Five squared is twenty five. Twenty five minus one is twenty four. One less than five is four, one more than five is six, four times six is twenty four.

Eleven squared is 121, minus 1 is 120. Ten times twelve is 120.

I don't know why this relationship between perfect squares and the numbers one greater and lesser would pop into my head, but it makes me wonder. Sometimes I get a mental itch about numbers. I'm sure some famous (at least in mathematic circles) mathematician has already described this relationship in much greater detail.

Tomorrow night I'll try something other than math to help me fall asleep.

Concealed Pistol License's up 43% in WA

http://www.komonews.com/news/27722724.html

How freaking cool is that?

Sarah Palin

Everybody seems to be gushing over Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate.

Since everything has already been said, the only thing left for me to ask is this...

Am I a bad person for hoping that McCain has to leave office leaving Palin as the POTUS?

30 August 2008

Why some people re-read books

One of the best reasons to re-read a book is because as you travel further down your life's journey you will find different things that are important to you.

Kim du Toit wrote that he absolutely loved Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" in his youth but found it pulpy rubbish in his maturity. This sounds like blasphemy to libertarian idealists, but anyone who reads Kim's writings know that the morals of the Heinleins writings are imbued in Kim's worldview. The writing seems paler because when you drink from the heady writings of de Tocqueville, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Alexander how could it not? Like getting used to good dark coffee and being offered weak tea.

Ayn Rand has quite a following, but not everyone who reads her work will come away with the same lesson. If you consider her works the basis for a religion then it makes sense that different "sects" would have different focus areas from the same texts, and a different understanding.

Which brings us to the insult "ignorant". When someone has an understanding of a situation different than yours it is easy to call them ignorant. Complex situations are subject to diverse observation points, and as we grow our observation position changes as we age it makes sense to re-examine our understanding of a subject.

"When I was a child I spoke as a child I understood as a child I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things." The Apostle Paul. Christians can continue to read the Bible their entire life because they will learn new lessons as their viewpoint changes. From the lesson of trust and courage in "David and Goliath" as a child to the acceptance of fickle fortune in "Job" to the depravity of man and nature of divine grace in the Pauline Epistles.

When someone at Evergreen had a point to make it usually went three ways. Spout off statistics to convince the listener that some horrible injustice was happening right now. Secondly is the "information overload" tactic of handing out flyers with all sorts of information (this tactic usually doesn't work because hippies have a short attention span). The third tactic is the well reasoned argument, with hard numbers.

When you argue with a hippy spouting statistics the easiest way to stop them cold is getting to the source of their numbers. Just ignore hippies handing flyers, it is generally disinformation to begin with it. I never encountered very much of the third type, the well reasoned argument backed with hard numbers came more often from the faculty than the student body.

Whenever I would take the time to argue and I produced information that disproved the stated position the stock response was usually "Well you just don't understand the issues." Which is a polite way of calling me "ignorant".

So to tie these two ideas together, calling someone ignorant is a copout because they don't understand the situation the way you understand that issue. A Haitian isn't ignorant of poverty, but that same haitian might not understand how sugar tariffs are keeping him in poverty. But ignorant isn't a way to describe him, he understands poverty in a way that the average American can't possibly imagine.

Maybe when I read "Atlas Shrugged" I didn't get all the points Ayn Rand wanted to make with a work of fiction, but then again the only person who would know all the points Ayn Rand wanted to make was Ayn Rand. So it may be time to put "Atlas Shrugged" back in the reading queue, but right now my queue is concerned with much more practical matters such as machine gun emplacement and terrain analysis.

Anonymous Troll strikes again

If you really did read "Atlas Shrugged," you wasted your time. Too bad you have to advertise how much you missed the point.

This lovely gem of wisdom was left by "Anonymous" who didn't leave either their name or the point that I was supposed to have missed.

The point of Atlas Shrugged is simply that my work and the fruits of that work belongs to me. When someone else owns the productivity of another person, that is called "slavery".

If that is not the point, I invite "Anonymous" to scool me w/ 1337 mad skillz.

29 August 2008

Mausers

First up we have a project nearing completion. The 9.3x62.

It started life as a K. Kale m38. These are "Large Ring Small Shank" actions which means they have all the inherent strength of the m98 action, but can only accept small shank threaded barrels.

A gunsmith I've known online for years now recommends that if you "sport" a Turk m98 action that you stay on the safe side and stick with standard calibers instead of a magnum. This has to do with how much steel the chamber will have surrounding it, and a magnum chamber just has less steel because it is larger.

So for this project I chose the 9.3x62 cartridge, which is the minimum legal caliber for "Class A" game in Zimbabwe. In theory I could shoot an elephant with this thing, but since I have no desire to do so it will probably just be another rifle in the hunting rifle rotation for deer and elk unless I go to Alaska or Africa.

The stock is an old piece of Fajen walnut taken from a different rifle. I need to refinish the wood, and see about getting some checkering cut into the forend and pistol grip. All in all if you want some custom work done on a Mauser action contact Mike McCabe. http://www.mccabeguns.com/

The scope was a gun show find, it's a 2.5x20 "Mauser" scope (made in Japan). I wish it had a post reticle but crosshairs work for now. The safety is a Daiton Traister MkII. Easy install on this one.

This rifle is another Turk, but I thought it would be fun to make an "Sniper" style rifle. So the bolt was bent by someone with much more experience than I (I've ruined a bolt trying to do the job myself, so it is a small price to pay to have someone with the skills to do a good job on the first try complete the task).

I made an index mark on the barrel and receiver ring then removed the barrel, drilled and tapped the receiver for a BSquare weaver rail. I got a lesson in lathe operation from my father when we chucked the barrel into the lathe and re-cut the muzzle crown a simple 90 degrees. I reinstalled the barrel, torqued it back to true with the index marks, and checked headspace.

The scope is an IOR 6x42 with a 30mm body and an MP8 mil-line reticle. The trigger is a Bold. Safety is a Dayton Traister MkII. If you've never seen a 400 dollar scope on an 80 dollar rifle, here it is.

This rifle isn't particularly accurate with either surplus Turk or Yugo (now Serbia) ammunition. It will easily do "minute of deer" and hovers around 4 minutes of accuracy with the delinked PPU surplus. Handloads group better, but I'm not going to waste even cheap 185 gr Rem Corelokts on loading "plinking" ammo until I've depleted my store of surplus. I will however waste my time pulling Turk bullets and powder to put them in Rem brass with a CCI primer so I don't have to worry so much about corrosive primers. I'm funny that way.

Both of these Mausers have been stripped of their "historical value" to someone who collects for historical purposes. These are my rifles, and they have been modified to suit me. I shoot them and enjoy them. Although with the way surplus rifle prices have been going, it might soon be cheaper to buy Savages brand new.

28 August 2008

Atlas Shrugged

Once again I find myself writing a post based on a post by someone else. I read "Atlas Shrugged" and while I wish that the events that allow those who carry the world on their shoulders could shrug and let the parasites drop away, I don't believe that such will happen.

Kalashnikov designed his famous rifle because he was a patriot, not because he was driven by a capitalist streak to benefit from the work of his mind.

Kellogg developed corn flakes to help curb his sexual appetite, not to make millions in the breakfast cereal market.

There are people driven to create for reasons other than personal gain. Usually the indoctrination that those people receive gives them a strong sense of service, but like all generalities this one cannot cover all bases.

In Orwell's "1984" three oppressive socialist states kept their internal power by external threat. Soviet citizens were terrified of the "mobsters" who seemed to rule American cities. The North Korean government works very hard to convince the poor starving citizens that they are the happiest people on Earth.

People have a hard time believing an unpalatable truth. Many of us bitter people clinging to our guns and religion cling to them because they are sources of comfort when things go wrong. In the Soviet Union and China they managed to take away both guns and religion.

America is an exception. America is the result of the most forward thinking that the world had developed from the Enlightenment put into practice by farmers, philosophers, and warriors. Our founding fathers risked their life for an idea. The idea was that all men are created with equal opportunities to succeed or fail, that the stars don't determine our fate, that the claim of "divine right" was false.

America is precious, and only survived because of geographic isolation. The French Revolution failed, and I believe that it is for one reason, that the rest of Europe is right next door.

Like the Children of Israel who clamored for a King, and the prophet Samuel told them what would happen, "A king will take your sons for soldiers, your daughters for serving maids, and all sorts of other unpleasantness". But the Israelites clamored even louder, and God having a sense of humor, granted them a King. Who did all the things that Samuel said.

The influence of your neighbors affects what you consider "normal". Which is one of the reasons why liberals who are really concerned with what the rest of the world want the US to be more like the rest of the world.

But our founding fathers didn't want us to be like the rest of the world. America was started because it was different that the rest of the world with it's royalty, class systems, and inequality. Sure we had slavery, discrimination, segregation, and whatnot, but we also worked out those problems for ourselves. At other times we've swung the pendulum around to the opposite side, with prohibition, the war on drugs, legislative attempts to promote civic righteousness.

In the end there can not be any "shrugging". Shrugging would be a bloodless revolution, and there has never been a bloodless revolution. Bloodless coups, maybe, but never revolution.

Freedom comes from the barrel of a gun. But so does oppression. When a person has a gun and is willing to fight for their freedom, the only way to stop that is to arm someone who believes in taking away that freedom and telling him to go at it. The difference between the freedom fighter and the oppressor is only ideology. Be careful of charismatic leader spouting sweet lies, because they can indoctrinate a generation and lead them to great slaughter.

27 August 2008

Muffins

I love Brigid's blog "Mausers and Muffins" because I happen to love both Mausers and Muffins. The first Mauser I bought IS (pardon the mixed tenses) a Husqvarna built on an FN m98 commercial action. I've been a collector of mausers ever since.

My love affair with muffins started last year. At Ranger school students develop interesting cravings. Some guys craved steak dinners, one guy graduated and immediately crammed 6 Big Macs down his throat. I started craving muffins that I've never eaten.

Blueberry vanilla strawberry.
Chocolate espresso toffee.
Lemon white chocolate poppy seed.
Pineapple cranberry coconut.
Banana peanut raspberry.

When I couldn't focus and could get away with it during long operation orders I would jot down three flavors that would taste awesome in a muffin. I could taste them. I've had both audible and visual hallucinations, but phantom tastes were a new experience for me.

Later on during a few minutes of down time the guys started razzing me about the list. So I started reading the list out loud and never got to the end, they begged me to stop. There is no way that words can convey what someone experiences in Ranger school. Imagine that you've had one of those emotionally draining days where your bones ache and all you want to do is crawl into bed and sleep for days, but instead choosing to pick up a heavy load and keep going. Now imagine that going on and on with no end in sight.

You can leave Ranger school at any time. You can put down your load and quit at any time. During the first week is usually when the quitters leave. That is when the challenge is the largest. The other time people quit is when they recycle, instead of going through all the crap that they just went through again.

It was my second time through Darby phase when on the 8 hour reset pass (when you get to launder your uniforms, buy more 550 cord, or replace the flashlight you lost in the forest of doom) my wife brought me fresh baked muffins. Orange cranberry muffins from a box never tasted so good. I love my wife, and she must love me because she keeps making me muffins.

She also lets me play with Mausers. For a woman who wouldn't touch a rifle when we got married to a Glock owner in five years I think maybe I'm rubbing off on her.

Accident Report

On the recon my buddy and I were driving along I-90 heading East when a single car turned sideways and rammed itself through the guardrail.

A big rig locked up it's brakes, blue smoke billowing up from the tires like a smokescreen.

We pulled over and stopped, my buddy pulled out his cell to dial 911. We made our way to the car and found two of our traveling companions already there, going through the process of evaluating the elderly woman in the car.

I'm not much of a medic, I know enough first aid to respond to amputations, perform rescue breathing, or other battlefield trauma. One of the captains put on some latex gloves and bandaged the largest cuts.

After that it was simply wait for the civil authorities, and in proper fashion "comfort the victim" I started chatting with the lady. She had on a necklace with a schoolhouse charm, I asked her if she was a schoolteacher, she was. We talked about the WSU shirt she had on, she was traveling to Pullman to visit her alma mater. I mentioned I went to Evergreen and she said, "I haven't heard good things about that school."

One of the captains who didn't know I was a graduate of a dirty hippy college leaned in close and sniffed for patchouli. I pointed to the Ranger tab and said, "one canceles out the other".

A few months back Lawdog, BabsRN, and AmbulanceDriver did a collaborative posting about how first responders do their job and get patients to medical care. Truth following fiction the State Trooper arrived first, followed closely by the EMT's. I hope truth didn't follow fiction after she was carried away in the ambulance. But whether or not someone lives or dies is often outside the power capable by human hands.

That day the only casualty was a Buick, but it could have been worlds worse.

25 August 2008

From the "No Shit" department....

Organic produce no "healthier" than regular produce. I've been fighting with hippies about this for years, and one of the requirements of being a hippy is that what you "feel" about a subject has to be more important than scientific inquiry.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/science/08/19/organic.cooking.pv/index.html


The article positively gushes with pro-organic propaganda, anecdotal stories of "freshness" and other non-scientific blubber. Because CNN loves them some organic produce. After all, hippies have been preaching the benefits for years now. But in the end, the facts remain, the science is sound, and "organic" produce is just plain overpriced.

The article is blatantly wrong in stating that "this is the first study" when in fact I know of at least five other studies that determined the same thing. Regular produce grown with chemically synthesized fertilizer and pesticides are just as healthy as the higher priced "organic" product.

Here's a few facts to take away.

Farm workers who work on "organic" farms receive no wage benefits over other farm workers. Multiple studies have been done on this and they all came to the same conclusion, the higher cost of production for organic foods means that the higher cost of the finished product does not benefit the worker.

There is not enough organic fertilizer to feed the current world population. Without industrial fertilizer (produced through atmospheric nitrogen fixation, a pretty green process in itself) there would be worldwide famine.

The alleged environmental benefits of organic farming have not been demonstrated. Traditional manure runoff will add every bit as many nitrates to groundwater as synthetic fertilizer. Modern farming practices embrace efficiency and minimize waste to maximize profit, and one of the benefits is reduced environmental impact.

So there you have it, organic produce is a lot of hype, a lot of cost, but absolutely no added benefit. No wonder liberals love them some organics. When it comes to spending more and getting less, nobody does it better than a Democrat.

Business Trip tomorrow

What do you do when your boss tells you that in less than 12 hours you are taking his place on a recon?

You say "Yes Sir, not a problem" and pack up your kit.

A wise old Captain once told me, "When all else fails, do what your boss tells you."

So far it's been pretty good advice.

24 August 2008

303 Brit, 30-06, and the 8x57

The three great cartriges of the world are really the 303 British, the 30-06, and the 8x57 Mauser. The reason behind this is simply because of the "Empirical Tendencies of the nations involved". Lots of rifles chambered for these rounds means that lots of rounds have to be produced to be shot through said rifles. Lots of rounds and rifles means that they have been tested on all sorts of animals all over the world.

The only reason why the 7.62x54r is not on this list is because it never gained widespread favor in the colonies for sporting purposes. Finland may disagree, but it's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

The Short Magazine Lee Enfield is perhaps the finest of all the bolt action infantry rifles ever developed for one simple reason, a detachable 10 round box magazine. A Tommy could fire twice as many rounds as a Joe or Jerry in WWI and reload even faster. The 1903 Springfield and 1917 Enfield needed 5 round stripper clips, and the Gew98 took 5 round stripper clips as well.

The 303 British was quite a popular hunting round here in the United States for many years, ballistically between the 30-30 and 30-06. Plenty enough "umph" to take elk or black bear. I'd want something with more "umph" for Alaska, but wouldn't mind taking an SMLE along "for the pot".

The 30-06 became a success rather against the odds. I believe that had not two generations of American Fighting Men become indoctrinated to the usefulness of the 30-06 in WWI and WWII it would simply be another obscure loading. The 30-40 Krag is a fine round, suitable for the lower 48, but a scarcity of Krag rifles has doomed this round to obscurity. Due to German aggression the 30-06 stands alone as the round by which all others are compared. Powerful enough to kill most anything, recoil light enough that most people can handle it, commercial loads tailored to everything from prairie dogs to Alaskan Kodiak.

Then there is the 8x57. This round has a cult following here in the US mainly because of the availability of quality surplus Mauser rifles from various parts of the world. Everything that the 30-06 can do, the 8x57 can do if you handload. The lack of diverse commercial ammunition for this caliber is it's only real drawback. Both killing power and recoil are indistinguisheable from the 30-06. In spite of being on the losing side of two world wars this cartridge refuses to die simply because of it's inherent usefulness.

Often I think of these three rounds it brings up images of cool pre-dawn hunting camp. The heat of an African sun beating down on a hunter as he puts an eland in his sights. The blue sky above the Rockies dotted with clouds while a hunter decides that the old bull elk is just too pretty to take.

And then other times I am reminded of the lives wasted by empires enforcing the will of madmen. The poaching that pushes animals closer towards extinction. The suffering of those forced to live under the jack boots of a cruel and uncaring government.

But it beats the alternative. Can you imagine a world where my post wasn't about the 303, 30-06, and 8x57, but about the 7.7 Arisaka, 6.5 Carcano, and 7.62x54r Russian? How different would the world be?

23 August 2008

Civilians and Machine Guns

Machine guns are a hoot to shoot, but like anything new the novelty wears off fast.

The biggest allure I can find about machine guns is that they are prohibitively expensive because of the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986. Ronald Reagan signed the bill into law, and unfortunately the "protection" part has seemed to fail miserably.

Now machine guns make the GFW (Gun Fearing Wussies for those of you not familiar with Kimspeak) wet their panties. The reason why is because machine guns were never designed for civilian use.

That doesn't mean that they don't have civilian applications. Recreation is a legitimate use, and the very best reason to ever pull a trigger.

But machine guns make the GFW's nervous because it makes the level of firepower between citizen and government more equal. Think about that for a moment.

All power comes from capacity for violence. If you don't believe me I invite you to come up with a plausible argument about power that comes from something other than capacity for violence.

I don't understand why a Sheriff's department needs an armored vehicle. I don't understand why the FBI HRT resembles a military unit instead of a police unit. I don't understand why law abiding citizens need their freedoms "infringed upon" in order to somehow empower a government that has no problem with putting a Sheriff's Deputy in an Armored Vehicle as a routine part of law enforcement.

So I think that machine guns need to be in the hands of citizens, without a "special license" without a 200 dollar transfer fee, without anything other than the standard NICS check to make sure you aren't a felon. What would happen? Well nothing more than has already happened. If you want a machine gun the only thing stopping you is the legality of the situation, and that hasn't stopped the criminals that it was designed to stop.

Ronald Reagan did a lot of things right, but the FOPA of 1986 hasn't protected Firearm Owners or FFL holders the way it was intended. Kind of like the "Gun Free School Zone" law has stopped all those school shootings....

Looking back through the old news from 1985 and prior it seems that there just wasn't a problem with machine guns in civilian hands. But looking at the news from 1986 forward, I see Waco, Ruby Ridge, firearm confiscation in Katrina....

Hopefully "Heller" will bring back machine guns, because I don't want to live in a nation that isn't free. I don't really want to own one (machine guns are in fact quite overrated in my opinion) but I want those that would like to own a machine gun the opportunity to do so. Because capacity for violence is power, and the power must always rest with the people.

22 August 2008

Spam comments

Evidently I was asking for trouble with a blog posting titled "Sexy".

So from now on comments will have to be approved by myself. This pisses me off for a couple of reasons.

1, I enjoy freedom and expect that most folks enjoy freedom.

2, I don't like to be an approval authority for someone else's freedom of expression.

But at the end of the day I am responsible for the content of this blog, even the comments. So I continue to welcome anyone with a point to make to comment, whether you agree or disagree or just have something interesting to point out, I encourage you to say it.

But if you want to advertise a porn sight, sell discount Viagra, or any other form of Spam, you are not welcome here. And I will not allow your poison to spread through this sight, even for a short period of time before I permanently delete them.

21 August 2008

Sexy

I've noticed a few things in my short life.

First observation, an independent woman comes with unique relationship issues. When a woman really doesn't need a man in her life, quite often a man isn't in her life.

Second observation, a woman who wants a man is likely to get one. The lower she sets her standards the more likely she is to get a man.

I bring this up because self actualized independent women are drop dead sexy. The problem with that is that they have usually grown to be self actualized and independent because some man took their heart and ran it through a meat grinder before throwing lemon juice on it. Not that men are entirely to blame because it takes two to have a relationship, but I'd say it's a solid trend.

This means that independent women are hard to start a relationship with, and when you do get a relationship started you end up dealing with the crap that the last guy left behind. Once again this is a generalization of a trend that I have noticed, your mileage may vary.

Another trend that I have noticed is that men generally suck at maintaining a healthy relationship. Usually men stick around for the sex, and when the sex goes away so does the man. It seems that women start a relationship with a man based on the hope that someday he will grow or mature into Mr. Right. So when the sex gets routine and he hasn't turned into Mr. Right, well then that is usually the end of the relationship.

So to all the beautiful, smart, self actualized women out there... stay single. Until a man comes along who is willing to fight your past to start and maintain a relationship, you really are better off single. It isn't hard at all for a woman to find a man for a night or a few months. But finding a man who is committed, the kind that doesn't give up on you, the kind that has the faithful soul of a sled dog, that's another story.

But don't give up hope that he will find you, just realize that if he doesn't you are much better off being a happy individual than an unhappy partner.

And advice for the guys. A woman who can stand on her own two feet and think for herself is a jewel to be treasured. Sometimes it is difficult to maintain a relationship with an independent spirit, but if it was easy everyone would do it.

18 August 2008

Movie Reviews

Here in the DVD rotation are two movies that kinda suck, "The Hunted" with Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro and "Ninja Cheerleaders" with George Takei.

First off I bought "The Hunted" for exactly one second of that film. A guy I worked with in the Army Reserve was an extra and I wanted to see if I could spot him. I did. Lots of good knife porn in the form of the Tom Brown tracker. The tracker looks like it would make a good hunting knife even if it is a poor survival knife. How two Oscar winners could make such an awkward film has to be the result of poor directing. The story of a failed surrogate father figure, the prodigal son, and redemption is hinted at, but the characters seem so emotionally unavailable even to themselves that it all comes off as clumsy. I guess the Tom Brown Tracker was there to carve away at all the wooden acting.

Secondly, who could resist something as cheesy as "Ninja Cheerleaders"? Almost as cheesy as D.E.B.S. (without the star power) in the whole girl power theme, but more like a low budget "Charlie's Angels". Every once in while a few good lines of dialog would pop out, but the movie needed some serious editing. Fewer dance scenes, more action scenes, and a special effects budget that included explosions. Explosions make everything better. The director borrowed heavily from Robert Rodrigez's "Planet Terror" for go-go dancing camera work.

My wife thinks she lost brain cells on "Ninja Cheerleaders". I think she may be right.

17 August 2008

Bigger, Sharper, more lifelike....

While laptops and service rifles are getting smaller, there is one type of technology that is going the opposite route.

Display Devices, everybody seems to be getting a bigger TV. The old Cathode Ray Tube is a thing of the past, now flat panel LCD and Plasma display units are the norm. While they seem to violate the "smaller faster lighter" trend the technology behind them is based solely on the "smaller faster lighter" trend.

If someone has a 42" HD 1080p Plasma screen it will be much smaller, lighter, and more efficient than a 42" screen from a decade ago. Since the technology is maturing people are upgrading to previously unavailable screen sizes.

Two decades ago gas was cheap and even a poor American could drive a gas guzzler, but couldn't afford a computer or cellular phone. Now gas is expensive and big gas guzzling cars cost too much for a poor American to drive, but computers are cheap enough for anyone to afford one (paying for internet access is another story) and cell phones are incredibly cheap. In terms of quality of life we are truly a rich nation.

I look forward to seeing what the future will bring. I'm hoping that all this technology that allows us to communicate and stay connected starts having some "unexpected benefits". Imagine if diplomats were put out of a job because the populations of a nation could talk to each other without their voices being filtered through an official government mouthpiece.

Makes you wonder how long China will be able to keep the cyber lid on the internet over there.

Smaller faster lighter....

It seems that everything is getting "smaller faster and lighter", from laptops to issue rifles.

Back in the day the Army issued rifled muskets, heavy single shot muzzle loaders. About a century later the Army went to heavy single shot breach loaders that had a slightly higher rate of fire. A decade or two after that the Army went to those newfangled bolt action rifles (and included a cutoff switch so that they could be fired single shot with the magazine in reserve). A Krag or 1903 is smaller, lighter, and shoots faster than the previous service rifles.

Then came the Garand, the Army's first flirtation into the realm of semi-automatic rifles. Within three decades the Garand would be replaced by the M14, which would be replaced with the M16. And then the M16 hit the chopping block and got cut down to the M4 Carbine size.

Smaller, faster lighter. The original Squad Automatic Rifle was the B.A.R. it weighed in at 20 lbs and took 20 round magazines. Now the m249 weighs less, has changeable barrels, and takes 200 round drums or 100 round pouches.

When a particular product line stops getting smaller, faster, and lighter then possibly that technology has matured. Vehicles have pretty much been the same size/weight and efficiency as they have for the last fifty years. People forget that the first hybrid prototypes

So you take a look at matured technologies, the NASCAR race car, the 1911 pistol, the pocketknife. Some things need no further refinements.

16 August 2008

EIB, final toll.


Out of the 8 who started, 6 of us finished today and earned the EIB.

I am proud of my boys. I thank you for your prayers, knowing that there are people praying for you is a powerful comfort in stressful times.

15 August 2008

EIB Testing Day Two

We started the day with the distribution of the energy drinks. Every day it seems we require more caffeine to get started as the long days and short nights have all seemed to run into one. Each day has been hotter than the last, the body armor traps the sweat into our uniforms. By the end of the day we reek of ammonia and stale sweat, and dust from the dirt streaks down our face.

Today after the weapons stations, M9 pistol and m2 .50 cal machine gun, I took the boys into the woods for a lunch break and brain dump. Even with cans of Red Bull and lo-carb Monster in our system we couldn't seem to stay focused.

So we did what all groups of disparate souls thrust together do to bond, we told our stories of when it was worse. My lead sniper told of how an 8 hour mission turned into a 48 hour suckfest where only a smuggled along poncho liner kept the three man team from suffering from serious hypothermia. The planners told the team to not pack any snivel gear.

We talked of hallucinations we had from lack of sleep. I watched my training room NCO's eyes drop down as he and a mortar man racked out simultaneously.

My boys are drawn from the various sections that make up the Headquarters and Support elements of the Company. No three of them work together on any given day, but today all seven of us helped the rest get "GO"s on every station.

Tomorrow is the last day of testing, and we are running on empty. No matter what tomorrow night brings, I don't think I could be any prouder of how they pulled together for this. I know several line squads that only have two or three soldiers left from the original nine.

I'm praying that all six of my boys get their badge, they deserve it.

14 August 2008

EIB Testing Day One

Today we tested on the "White" lanes.

The EIB tasks are broken down into three lanes; Red, White, and Blue. The White lanes contain the number one killer of EIB candidates, grenades.

There are two tasks in four parts at the Grenade station. Task 1, Identify grenades by purpose. This is the easy portion. Task 2, engage three targets with five grenades. This task involves throwing a grenade at a target 35 meters away and having it land within five meters of the target, throwing a grenade into a bunker, and throwing a grenade into trench twenty meters away.

The trench is the number one killer. It is roughly 18 inches wide by 36 inches long by 12 inches deep. Any way you can get the grenade into the trench will give you a "GO" but getting the grenade into the trench is a lot tougher than you might think. An m67 grenade body is about the size of a baseball but MUCH more dense.

So here is the scene. I took my team to the easy stations first to build their confidence with a bunch of "GO" marks on their tracker sheets. We were the last squad to get to grenades, I was the last soldier to go through the task.

The sun threw long shadows as it approached the horizon. The training field was empty save for the graders and myself. My boys watched from the finish area while I failed my first attempt. They watched me walk back to the start point. They watched me throw two grenades at the 35 meter target. They watched me throw one grenade into the bunker.

The last, and hardest task, the trench came up and I had two grenades left. My first grenade hit short and bounced left.

I whispered Psalms 144:1, "Blessed by the Lord my God who teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight." I rose my head up from the prone position and peaked over the barrier, verifying my target. I prepped the grenade by popping off the safety clip and pulling the pin. I held the grenade body in my left hand with my thumb, middle, and index finger.

I pushed up into the kneeling throw position, used my right hand to aim, and I threw.

Time seemed to slow down. I watched the spoon leave the body framed against a dark blue sky. Then I was face down in the dirt behind the sandbags.

The last throw of the day. My last chance.

The grader spoke in a loud voice, "You are a Mother$%$! GO at this time". The range detail picked the grenade body out of the trench and proclaimed, "God loves you Sir."

I picked up my gear and walked to the finish area and my boys came out whooping it up. There was no one left to see us, and we lost one guy to double "NO GO" on grenades (same thing that got him three years ago), but for a squad of 8 to only lose one Joe is a phenomenal performance for any group of infantrymen.

I thank those of you who prayed for us, please continue as we still have BLUE and RED lanes to go through. The ultimate high for me would be to see all my boys through this so that they can pin on their EIB with pride.

13 August 2008

EIB trainup complete

Now we have three days of testing.

The rules are simple.

32 tasks.
You can only retest two tasks.
You can retest any task no more than once.
Once you are out, you do the walk of shame back to the unit.

So if you happen to have any sort of religious preferences, please say a prayer for the infantrymen who will be testing the next three days as part of the training cycle prepping for deployment, as well as the infantrymen who are earning their CIB out in the sandbox.

10 August 2008

Gun tinkering...



What happens when you buy a $400 Savage Tactical?

Well you end up buying:

$175 Bushnell Elite 3200 10x40 mildot scope
$75 Timney Trigger
$75 used B&C Durramax stock
$45 used Karsten cheek piece
$12 slip on recoil pad (to adjust length of pull)
$48 EGW canted scope base
$20 Weaver scope rings.

Which means my bargain 400 dollar rifle turned into a $950 investment which I won't get my money back from. I could try to part it out but in the end there is no way I can get my money back.

And I'm ok with that. I bought a rifle that I could afford at the time, and upgraded as I could. Now my financial situation is a bit different and I would go a different route. I'd try to snap up a used FN SPR A1 for cheap if I had to do it all again.

Next purchase will be a swivel bipod :)

The paint on the barrel and slip on recoil pad is leftover from when the rifle wore the factory stock and the bases, rings, and previous scope. As it stands I probably won't bother with another krylon job for a while. She's an ugly stick, but she shoots.

Sunday Mental Health break

There are rhythms to life, the normal 5 on 2 off work week schedule, the 8 hour work day routine, in bed at nine and up at 0530. Humans are creatures of habit, and give us a routine schedule we will fall into predictable patterns with only small variation.

So when our little rhythm gets interrupted we usually respond with surliness or anger.
When that happens it is a huge relief to get back into our routine, and the normalcy feels somehow special.

My wife (the saint) makes me breakfast on the weekends. Since I get up at Oh Dark Ugly on the weekdays and have Physical Training waiting for me when I get to work breakfast on the weekdays is just out of the question.

Since I lost last weekend to a business trip, our first real long distance motor movement and field training since the Brigade rolled back from Iraq last year, I noticed some of the guys at work were a bit more on edge than usual. Then when we found out that this weekend had been rescheduled to give us Sunday off there was great rejoicing. We were originally scheduled to not get a day off until the 17th, but thankfully someone with a pay grade much higher than mine gave us a break. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

I know three of my Joes are now having marital problems, and another is finishing up the divorce process. It has got to be hard being married to a guy who isn't there, who is exhausted when he does come home, and who seems to be closer to the guys he works with than he is to you.

So this morning I'm happy because my wife still makes me breakfast. Tomorrow begins another 6 day work week, usually from 0600 to 2000 at night (or later) until we are done. It's an aggressive training schedule, but I'm afraid that there will be more marital problems coming up when wives start asking "My husband came back from Iraq and yet I still never see him. What gives?".

Labor Day weekend will give most of my boys a break, but after that it's more time away training. I'm gonna have to figure out a way to toss in some half days into the training schedule to get guys more time at home while the children are still on Summer Vacation. Because quantity time IS quality time. If I can't give my guys a regular work rhythm, at least we can get some mental health time for them to stay connected to their family.

08 August 2008

Political advertisements...

So here in the state of Washington the mudslinging has commenced full force.

The Republican candidate ran an add noting the link between Tribal Casinos and the Democrat Governor.

The Democrat candidate runs multiple adds specifically accusing the Republican candidate of NOT voting to give unemployment benefits to "victims of domestic abuse who flee their partner" and NOT voting to "require insurance companies to pay for birth control".

As a human being I have three stages of reaction to the Democrats adds. First, I think "how cruel", then I think "How logical, keeping costs down", then I think, "I wonder what else was in these bills that caused Dino to vote Nay".

I'm ok with the government being distant and cold. A government that doesn't give a handout is a government that probably doesn't want to send a SWAT team to confiscate my property.

06 August 2008

Expert Infantryman Badge

During dubya dubya 2 the morale of the Infantry was in the dumps. It was in the dumps for very good reason, the infantry made up about 10% of the Army but about 70% of Army casualties.

So in order to raise moral someone somewhere decided that a nifty shiny thing to pin on your uniform would raise moral. Napoleon said he could conquer the world if he had enough ribbon, and evidently the US Army follows the same doctrine.

So the Expert Infantryman Badge and Combat Infantryman Badge were introduced. Morale soared, I'm sure.

Anyways for the next bit of time I'll be trying to earn the EIB so blogging may be light.

05 August 2008

My Left Foot




The aftermath of the 12 mile foot march. This is perhaps the largest blister I've ever had.

Also just testing out this whole "photo on the internet" thing. Gun pron to follow.

Does anyone know how to get that annoying white line off the top of the photo?

Why I blog...

I blog to vent, to put my temporary thoughts into permanent record, and sometimes just to scratch a creative itch.

Other times I consider it a public service to review products that I try.

Case in point, the Dayton Traister Mk II safety for a Mauser 98. My 9.3x62 project was complete, in the stock (which needs refinishing for cosmetic reasons) except for a low swing safety that would work with the scope in place. In the past I've used Buhler safeties with great success, but they are twice the cost of a DT and part of my ancestry is Scott.

Anyways the safety works, it doesn't have the retaining piece that the Buhler style safety has, but it won't come undone during normal operation because it will be held in place by the cocking piece or the safety housing.

Bottom line, it works, was easy to install, and provides a true firing pin impingement safety instead of a trigger block.

04 August 2008

Obama and Hitler?

Both held positions of little to no authority. A "community organizer" and a Corporal.

Both wrote a book that outlined their vision of utopia. "Mein Kampf" and "Dreams of My Father".

Both have wildly disproportionate approval ratings because of some innate charisma.

The only difference left is that we still have a chance to NOT elect Obama.

I don't think that Obama would open up concentration camps to dispose of undesirables, but I do think that his policies would be disastrous the same way Jimmy Carter's policies were disastrous.

Desert One was a disaster for the American Military, and even more so for the hostages held in the Embassy. I love being a member of a professional Army with enough funding for training and maintaining. I don't want to have to hold together a motley crew of poorly trained volunteers and inoperable fighting vehicles, but much like GEN Tommy Franks did after Vietnam, I will if I must.

03 August 2008

The Government post...

As a member of the US Army I get a paycheck twice a month from Uncle Sam.

Roberta X recently expounded about how a large standing Army is a bad thing. I completely agree that a large standing Army will be used by politicians for "military adventurism". She also goes on to explain that if we didn't have the military to use, that it would force a form of isolationism buttressed by diplomacy.

While I tend to agree with her, (I seldom disagree with women who are smarter than I) I have to wonder if such a policy would really be in the best interest of the US. Without a large draftee Federal force all of Europe would speak German and Hawaii would be part of the Empire of Japan. The standard militia call up worked under Gen. Winfield Scott in the Mexico excursion (although there were issues with manning strength). So it stands to reason that a large standing Army hasn't prevented military adventurism in the past, so that perceived benefit doesn't seem to hold true in fact as it sounds in theory.

So here are the reasons why I am against a large standing Army. Having an Army means that that it will be used, President Clinton used the military primarily for UN missions. Having the troops available to be the "world's policeman" means that we become the guy with the big stick that everyone else wants to take down a peg.

Now the only answer to the large standing Army is a true militia system, a real Nation of Riflemen. People don't screw with the Swiss simply because it is suicide. Unfortunately the militia system has never been codified in the US to the point where it functioned across geographic and economic differences. The failure of the militia in the US is the reason why we have a large standing Army.

The militia system is inherently more "pure" because politicians would have to send their constituents to war instead of guys like me. The word "Soldier" comes from an old word for "shilling" which had to do with the pay for men at arms. Mercenary comes from the Latin word for wages, merces.

When a citizen has to decide if he individually will go to war, that is democracy in action. The democratic process is absent from the military because democracy kills military efficiency, especially in offensive action. It is much easier to get a citizen to defend his home than to rally him to go attack someone else's home.

Like I said I agree with Roberta, but I just don't see any viable alternatives to a large standing Army given the lackluster history of the militia in the US.

Back from Yakistan

The wind blows like a beast out there.

I got chewed out by my boss, my boss's boss, my boss's boss's second in command, and a few others as well.

I learned a lot. It is always good training when you learn a lot. Just wish the learning process wasn't so painful. Next time I'll get chewed out for different reasons, but the key to success is not repeating mistakes (and trying to learn from others so you can avoid those ones as well).

Came home to find the package containing the AK muzzle brake (and another on backorder). I installed it. Next time I go to the range I'll report on how much recoil is actually reduced.

01 August 2008

Business Trip

Brigid wrote about seeing horse statues from the freeway a bit ago, and had a nice picture of the statues in question.

I'll be in that area (a little south actually) until Sunday or Monday.