Thursday, December 25, 2008

A cold Chrismas Day, indeed.

The mercury in the back deck's thermometer is falling quicker than Paris Hilton's undergarments, but we're all cozy and warm inside the house. Sandy Claws brought me the entire Firefly series on DVD, as well as the Serenity movie. I'm off until the 5th of January, so the big Hitachi plasma HDTV is warming up the living room, as are my little Svetlana/Sovtek friends, all 8 of them.



Who are they?

That's easy. They're nifty little devices that convert electricity into wondrous audio magic by way of glowing incandescent filaments.

Observe - two of the four (dusty) Svetlana 6550C pentodes residing on top of my audio rack, hiding behind some smaller Sovtek 12AX7 and 12AT7 triodes:

And the device that brings much joy to my ears, whether it's a DVD movie, our HD digital cable service, a CD, or my favorite round vinyl disk:

And here's where the JoLida 502B sits in the greater scheme of things:

That Jolida quad 6550 push-pull amp is feeding just the front two main channels of my surround system. The other 4 channels are fed via a vintage Yamaha DSP-1 Sound Field Processor (a rare treat, even in this day of Dolby 5.1 Surround), and Yamaha M-35 4-channel power amplifier, seen behind the glass in the rack. Hidden at the bottom of the stack is an older AMC digital-to-analog converter, crucial to pipe the digital signals from the cable box and DVD player to the big analog-only JoLida.

Someday, when I can swing another $1,200 per unit, I'll buy two more of those amplifiers to feed the surround channels. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the Firefly series and staying warm...

Merry Christmas, y'all! I hope everybody stays warm and cozy, wherever they're reading this blog from!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What to do, what to do?

So there's this box of Hornady 500gr FMJRN .458" bullets sitting there on my office desk, courtesy of a friend who no longer had a need for them.

Of course, I have a Ruger#1S chambered in .45 Government, aka .45-70. That means one thing to me - Thumper .45-70 loads!

Here's me setting up to make a small batch, using my trusty Huntington's Compac Press and those ancient German Craftsman dial calipers:

That's a compressed load of IMR-3031, by the way! I ended up making 25 of the artillery shells, with 5 destined for the shellholder in the Ruger's sling:

The muzzle energy calculator says they'll deliver 3600ft/lbs of whoop-ass as they depart the barrel. That means your's truly will be shooting them from the offhand position. No way am I riding them from the bench!

The big question now is what to shoot them at? I have ideas, to include an old V8 engine block, or something similar. Maybe I should schedule a trip to visit Mr. Box-O-Truth...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Nicely done!

This fits so well, and is especially valid since I read today that the UAW was demanding a place on the GM board of directors.

It's nice to want things, isn't it?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Another Mauser?

Yup. Fairly rare, as far as they go, too.

Look what fell into my grubby little paws today:

It resembles a standard K98 Mauser, nicht wahr? Wait, it gets better...

The flag safety's there, as is the bolt relief in the stock, but what's up with that short receiver?

A-Ha! It's a pre-war .22 LR training rifle, with the "Eagle-over-N" proof marks, and the SAd.NASDP stock cartouche. We're talking a single-shot rimfire rifle with the same external dimensions and weight as a K98 Mauser, right down to accepting a standard K98 bayonet. I'd considered such a rifle to be a Holy Grail in all things Mauser, so you can bet your Sweet Bippy I'm doing the happy dance of joy right about now.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Turkey Day's Coming!

And that means one thing - 3 gallons of peanut oil heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and a big turkey getting cozy with that same oil for about 45 minutes, give or take...

It's well worth the wait, and has become the preferred method for cooking the Thanksgiving turkey as far as my family is concerned. Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ammunition Coding System?

Not only no, but "Hell, No!"

These folks have some big brass cajones, to think they can force this onto American gun owners.

Read and heed the linked story below. Then disseminate to all, far and wide. "No" means exactly that. As a handloader and bullet caster, I could say I'm unaffected, but this has far-ranging repercussions across the board. IOW, we need to nip this in the bud, and ASAP.

(Hat tip to Bayou Rennaissance Man)

Ammunition Coding Scheme

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Metal and Wood

Sometimes older is better - witness the blending of color case-hardened steel and walnut in my 1874 Sharps Business Rifle:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congrats, Marko!

As a long-time owner of several blue Dillon progressive loading machines, I receive my monthly copy of The Blue Press with much anticipation.

Imagine my surprise to open the December issue, and on pages 80-81 is a two-page essay titled, "In Defense of the Revolver", written by none other than Marko Kloos!

Looks like your creative writing class is paying off handsomely, Marko - good work!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Linksys WRT54G and Tomato Stability Update...

For all the folks who have been hitting this blog via Googling the "Linksys WRT54G" and "Tomato Firmware" search terms, thanks for the traffic. Sitemeter says you're popping in here from places far and wide, and fairly often, too. Hopefully, you're getting your questions answered - if not, just ask! Tonight's blog posting will offer another answer to a question that I'm certain is being asked.

Playing around with this remarkable little piece of hardware, I've been more than just a little intrigued with the capabilities offered by the router and the aftermarket Tomato firmware.

In fact, one of the main reasons I migrated to Tomato was that particular firmware's reputation of excellent stability. Some will recall that I had to install a timer switch in my previous Linksys WRT54G v5.0 configuration, because it routinely experienced the dreaded "5 day" lockup problem. Others more technical than I related that it was due to connections being cached, and when the buffer filled up, the router locked up. My fix was to have the router reboot by setting the digital timer to simply turn it off for one minute every morning at 5:00 AM. That worked, but seemed a Mickey Mouse type of solution at best.

The Linksys WRT54G v5.0 and later have a reduced internal memory capacity and therefore don't do well with aftermarket Linux code, save for maybe the DD-WRT Micro installation. Truthfully, I wanted more functionality and performance than that, so I kept my eyes open for versions older than v5.0, as well as the special WRT54GL and WRT54GS variants that had the larger memory and Linux compatibility.

Long story shortened, I found an early WRT54G v1.0 variant for fairly cheap (see the picture below with matching Linksys WSB-24 and Linksys 8-port switch nicely stacked on top), and proceeded to modify it with heatsinks on all the larger integrated circuits, as well as the internal Mini PCI WiFi card. I've since also added an external squirrel cage fan to the router's rack to move a steady stream of air around and through it as an added measure of protection from overheating.

Once the hardware mods were done, I upgraded the factory Linksys firmware to DD-WRT. While it was neat and provided oodles of functionality, it was slow, and made the little WRT54G struggle to run it. Maybe it was a setting or two in the menu that I didn't toggle, but the hardware and firmware combination just didn't seem too happy together.

Then I found Tomato, and immediately set about to change the DD-WRT installation to Tomato v1.11. All I can say is, "Wow!" This was exactly what I was looking for to make my WRT54G get up and go, and did it ever! It goes like a scalded cat, I kid you not. Now, since that time, Jon has released several updates to the firmware, culminating at present with v1.21. I've purposely stayed with v1.19, because I'm not too familiar with DNSmasq theory and application. I may switch to it later, but darned if what I already have isn't working just fine, so I feel no real urge to fix it or otherwise complicate a wonderful thing.

Just how fine? Put it this way - about the only time I ever reset my WRT54G v1.0 is when my ISP does something goofy with their network, and my cable modem goes wonky. Sometimes when that happens, I have to cold boot the cable modem, and I get a new IP address assigned as a result. Then I also have to reboot the D-Link DI-102 Packet Optimizer (another really neat and useful gadget) and the WRT-54G. Otherwise, like that damned Energizer Bunny, it keeps going and going and going...

For example, had it not been for a cable modem hiccup, tonight's screen capture from the Tomato status page would show something longer than 37 days of continuous operation. However, I'm not complaining very much - 37 days is much better than what I was experiencing this time last year, and I'm confident that it's by no means a record.

So, the next time I post about the hardware/firmware combination, I have considerable confidence it'll be somewhere after the 60-day mark. Jon did his part quite well, and I hope I've done mine - we'll see.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Before you go to sleep tonight...

Put your U2 The Unforgettable Fire CD in the music machine.  You know, the one that looks like this on the cover:

Set it to play Elvis Presley and America

The track is hauntingly beautiful, and the drums - oh, my!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Asked at the range today...

What the heck is that thing, and what does it shoot to create such a huge fireball?

That, dear friends, is a Wichita Silhouette Pistol.

Think of a Thompson-Center Contender and Colt 1911 hybrid, complete with a break-action, a 10" Douglas Premium octagon barrel, and chambered for a rifle cartridge.

That cartridge is the 7mm Rimmed International, a brainchild of the late Elgin Gates, to better knock over heavy steel silhouettes at 200 meters. It's a necked-down .30-30 Winchester, using the now-familiar wildcat improvements of a sharp shoulder and minimum case taper. As a side note, the very similar 7-30 Waters came out just a few years after the 7mm Rimmed International, but was intended for the Winchester Model 94 levergun, vs. the IHMSA Silhouette Pistol game.

Does it have enough oomph to knock over the 200 meter steel rams? You bet your sweet bippy it does, and that was before the infamous Overhang Rule. Will I shoot my 140gr, 2000fps handloads through it without a PAST shooting glove? No friggin' way!

It also does a very nice job on feral hogs, and I intend to use it for whitetail deer season this fall to put some venison in the freezer.

Just because you're a lawyer...

Doesn't mean you can read an ammunition box label.

You can, however, blame somebody else for your mistake.

See the finger pointing from our who's a sad clown lawyer, regarding a liability policy that's been in effect at more than just Wally World for a long time. (Hat tip to Tam, and those with at least a modicum of situational awareness in the gun/ammo business)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Stuff gets hot!

Truthfully, I can never leave well enough alone. I'm sure there's a medical description for such behavior, but it's best described as, "If something's not broken, keep fixing it until it is broken".

Such is the case with my household communications rack. Upgrading the router to Tomato firmware was the first step in what would become a vicious circle. With the firmware allowing an increase in transmission wattage, I was getting all sorts of happy trying out my Dell Inspiron 6000 notebook's 802.11g connection further and further away from the router. The Linksys add-on 7dBi antennae made things even better.

Could I just let that sit? Hell, no! So I found one of the older Linksys WSB-24 signal boosters, originally intended for 802.11b routers and wireless access points. Since 802.11b and 802.11g both transmit at 2.4Ghz frequency, it was no big deal for me to move the big 7dBi antennae to the Wireless Signal Booster's output terminals, then feed the RF output of the Tomato-modded WRT54G v1.0 router into the RF inputs of the WSB-24. Egads! Linksys doesn't want you to do this, because the extra output power more than likely violates an FCC rule or two. Honestly, I'm far enough out into the sticks that nobody's going to know the difference, and unless they have the correct WPA code to sponge signal off of me, they'll never get to take advantage of the larger wireless cloud I created anyway.

And larger it is. I'll say it's considerably larger, with excellent signal strength and connectivity no matter where I am in the house and also most parts of the property. That's what I wanted, and that's what I got.

However, when you stack all sorts of electronic devices in close proximity to each other, with each widget sucking a bit of wattage and converting it to heat as a byproduct, you have to pay the piper eventually. It may look all nice and tidy, but when things start cutting out on a recurring basis, chances are you overlooked something. The comm rack got hot, in other words - way too hot.

The fix? Sometime around Halloween and Christmas, all sorts of cute, inflatable, lit-up lawn ornaments go on sale, looking like pumpkins and snowmen. Inevitably somebody buys one, runs it for a short while, and discovers they tear open and generally refuse to stay inflated. That's too bad for the original lawn ornament owner/sister, but in my case, the little squirrel cage blower with low-voltage power supply came in darned handy. These things are really small, fairly quiet, and move a goodly amount of air with a minimum of fuss. I positioned the little fan underneath the Vonage Motorola phone voice terminal on the far left, and it now blows air to the right through the Linksys router/booster/switch stack and on towards the SnapServer 1000 and cable modem/packet optimizer stack. There's a faint "whoosh", and I can keep my hand comfortably on any component without feeling excessive heat.

That's somewhat of a "ghetto" fix, I know, but it kept everything neat and tidy, and we're no longer experiencing drop-outs caused by widgets overheating. That's the important thing, and it allows me to continue fixing perfectly functional items until I break them once again!

Steampunk Poseurs Need Not Apply!

Nothing here but real wood, water, and iron. None of that retro nonsense, these behemoths burn wood, make steam, and chuff along doing what they were designed to do, 100 or more years after they were built. If you have the opportunity to view the Badger Steam and Gas Engine Show near Baraboo, WI next August, I highly recommend it. Take a full day to do so, though - there are a LOT of big heavy things on display spread over many acres of real estate, like this steam tractor driving a sawmill:

Another of several steam tractors there, ball governor spinning happily:

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Hen's teeth - two of 'em!

For my next trick, I'll produce two each Intel Xeon MP 3.0Ghz processors, the seriously heavy little doobers with 4Mb L3 cache. Picking them up, they feel like they're made of depleted uranium! Evidently, the extra onboard cache makes them considerably more dense than their Xeon DP cousins.

These were the pinnacle of the Socket 603/400Mhz front side bus generation of processors, and were intended to play with others in batches of 4 or more per server. I just wanted two for insertion into my IBM Intellistation M-Pro 6850 workstation (one of 150 machines left over from the Lord of the Rings lease), and so that's exactly where they went!

They don't look much different than the 2.8Ghz/2Mb L3 cache processors I sourced and pictured earlier, but I can tell a definite improvement in performance, as well as an increase in heat output via the operation of the thermostatically-controlled fans in the Intellistation. A Koolance Exos water-cooling system is on the short list, as a matter of fact. Regardless, that's it for processor upgrades in this particular machine, because it cannot transition to the newer Socket 604/533Mhz FSB. That's fine, because the next IBM workstation I get is going to be a 64-bit beast. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the ride, and cannot resist taunting folks with pictures of expensive semiconductors:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It gets in your blood, really.

Even though I miss my old heavy airframe WC-135W and B-52H days, I don't know how anybody's heart wouldn't skip a beat when viewing a lovely Beech Staggerwing - like this one I viewed at a local shindig in my little Wisconsin hometown:

I mean, just look at those curves!

Been retired a couple years now...

And hardly a day goes by I don't think about my previous vocation. Thanks to an astute boomer with camera, here's a shot of us on an operational sortie, filling up the gas tanks enroute to the AOI:

They look good, so maybe they'll shoot just as well!

A while back, I scored a box of 180gr Winchester Ballistic Silvertips, which are a joint venture between Winchester and Nosler. Of course, I had to have nickel-plated brass to load these beauties in, and some obliging friends from a few forums I used to haunt sent me a care package. For them, and others wanting to see what lovingly handcrafted ammunition looks like, I give you a photo with 20 each .30-06 rounds, and 5 each .308 Winchester rounds, all using those 180gr Ballistic Silvertips, courtesy of the reloading bench:

Monday, July 28, 2008

From Peabody's Way-Back Machine...

Back around 1989, I had an afternoon off from flying B-52H sorties out of Carswell AFB, so I walked into the Tandy Factory Outlet store near Dallas/Ft. Worth. In amongst the piles of returned items was this little Tandy Pocket Scientific Computer, Model PC-6. It intrigued me, since I had been prolific in BASIC starting with my first TRS-80 CoCo III, so I plunked down the $25.00 for the little pocket PC, and took it around the world with me for the next 15 years. It did yeoman duty figuring aircraft weights and balances, as well as radiation dose rates, etc. Heck, I even programmed it to play Blackjack.

Lately, I've been using it for trigonometry and GD&T calculations. It's seen better days, but I'll wager it would fit nicely into Tam's Digital Fossils collection. I'm just happy that it can still find use, nearly 20 years after it first hit the market.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Break out the Arctic Silver!

Since I can't sleep for crap pending the big day later this week, I decided to take my mind off things and do some tweaking of my big black IBM workstation - aka, Monolith.

See these little fellows? They're compact, heavy, and yet at least a generation or two obsolete. Still, I had to have them, because they're fairly rare XEON MP processors, 2.8Ghz, with the nifty additional 2Mb L3 cache. These chips aren't dual-core, but are instead hyper-threading enabled, which was an earlier run-up to the current dual-core and quad-core processors. I paid all of about $35.00 for the pair of them, and they got stuffed posthaste into this rat's nest of a case:

They generate a lot of heat, but sure enough, the Windows Task Manager shows 4 processors, and System Information confirms 2.8Ghz each. Woo-hoo!

(Now, if anybody tells you a pair of Xeon MP processors won't work in a system using the old Intel 860 chipset originally intended for one or two Xeon DP processors, they're liars!)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ever get butterflies?

When do they go away, before or after the surgery?

I'm so damned nervous right now, I've seriously considered calling off the whole thing, and I don't go under the knife until this Wednesday.

Unfortunately, what they're cutting me open for won't go away by itself, and will actually get bigger if not tended to.

Pins and needles until then, I guess...

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Speaking of tomatoes...

Happiness is having stuff like this growing on your back deck, ready to pick in the first week of July! For the record, I use equal parts of Miracle Gro potting soil, composted cow manure, and plain topsoil. I also bottle rainwater from the downspouts, because the plants really don't appreciate the city water that much. Bon Appetit'!

The old WRT54G on steroids, revisited...

It's been a while, several months, to be exact, since I installed the Tomato firmware in an older Linksys WRT54G wireless router and squirreled it all away in my basement laundry room with a few extra goodies. So what's happened since that January day? Well, to be frank, nothing, and that's exactly how things should be. It just plain works, and has been absolutely rock-solid, fast, and hiccup free. Truthfully, the only time I hear from it is when I go into the Tomato administration pages to see what's been going on.

I'm so enthralled with the setup that I'm thinking about buying a spare router and just sitting on it, in the event that my cooling mods only postpone the eventual demise of the juiced-up WRT54G v1.0. (Perish the thought...)

I did add another SnapServer to the mix, and positioned it squarely in the communications rack. It dishes up nearly 80Gb of media to the home users, and also plays FTP server when I'm out and about and need to retrieve a file or three. Of course, that necessitated a shuffling of components, so here's the G-98 network comm rack, looking for all the world like something out of Buckaroo Banzai:

Geeky, I know - but by Gawd, it all works, and works well!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Anybody remember the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973?

I do. I also remember buying a smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicle. Fast-forward a decade or three:

True, 'dat.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Linksys WRT54G and Tomato Firmware are your friends!

In all honesty, we hit the home network pretty hard here at Casa de' G-98. At any given time, there are 6 computers, an ethernet surveillance camera system, a couple Snap Servers, a Vonage phone modem, an MP3 media server, and so forth connected together. That whole hydra-headed mess feeds through a Linksys WRT54G router, then on to a D-Link DI-102 packet optimizer before making a left turn at the cable modem to the Intarwebz.

I could be on the workstation in the garage making a new vinyl sign for a customer, listening to MP3s stored on the Snap Servers, while Mrs. G-98 is browsing the Web and on the phone with her mom, and the two WarCrack addicts are hot and heavy in another quest for Gawd knows what.

I used to experience lock-ups of the network after about 5 days of "average" use in my house. This stemmed back to a glitch in the factory Linksys WRT-54G v5.0 firmware - it tracks connections for 5 days, but doesn't flush them when the cache fills up. Once that cache fills, it locks up, and you need to reboot the thing. An earlier fix required me to add a digital audio timer to the power side of the router, forcing a reboot at 5:00 AM every morning. That worked fine, but really didn't address the problem, although it somewhat tidied up my basement communications rack system:

Doing some homework, I learned about the big aftermarket for earlier versions of the Linksys WRT54G made prior to v5.0. It appears they had more internal memory, and ran a version of Linux as their firmware of choice. Being a dabbler in all things Linux, this got my attention! The two top contenders in the line-up were DD-WRT and Tomato, neither of which would work on my original WRT54G v5.0 router - so I had to find either one of the older, large-memory versions, or one of the WRT54GS versions Linksys marketed for aftermarket firmware.

Fast-forward a few weeks, and I'm the proud owner of a very early model WRT54G v1.0, distinguishable by the lack of Cisco labeling, as well as the 20 or so diagnostic LEDs on the front panel not found on later versions. I immediately set about to modify the thing, because I wanted it to last for a very long time in its new role. Hey, it's not like the warranty would be voided, so off came the external cover. A tiny 5-volt fan went inside the case, as did about a half-dozen finned heat sinks on the bigger chips, all to cool the little router and increase longevity for the long term.

Installing DD-WRT was quite straightforward, but you could tell that the feature-rich firmware really bogged down the WRT54G v1.0, it just plain crawled. I'd been warned that the WRT54G v1.0 had a slower Broadcom CPU, 125Mhz vs. the later 200Mhz processors, but that 75Mhz difference really didn't explain the slowdown I was experiencing. I debated tweaking the myriad user-configurable options, or installing either the Mini or Micro variety of DD-WRT, but had also been wanting to try Tomato, so I moved on to the latter.

Wow! Tomato's installation was downright easy, and once the router rebooted itself, things fell into place nicely. As a matter of fact, the router has been running Tomato ever since, with nary a hiccup. That 75Mhz drop in CPU speed? You'll never know it's there, the router's throughput and efficiency with the lean Tomato code is just that quick. I let it run without any adjustments whatsoever for a week, just to see if I could get by the dreaded 5-day hurdle. No problems, so I started entering port forwarding addresses for Vonage, WarCrack, Ventrilo, you name it, all by the IP addresses of those machines needing the port adjustments. Then I prioritized traffic based on those ports, such that our phone calls would take the top of the bandwidth heap, then down from there. The results were impressive, and with the packet streamlining of the D-Link DI-102 in conjunction with the Tomato QOS functions, my Vonage voice conversations have been crystal-clear.

There's also a full Wireless-G suite, with a particularly neat feature - you can adjust the transmitter's output wattage to boost your signal strength over distance. Bear in mind, you don't get something for nothing, and I purposely put additional cooling measures inside my WRT54G's chassis to dissipate the heat generated by the increased transmitter output. I had to look pretty silly walking through the snow in my backyard with laptop turned on, checking out the range of my Wireless-G signal, but darned if it doesn't work as advertised! I had considered getting an older WSB24 outboard signal booster to better feed my Dell Inspiron notebook while on the back deck, but the power adjustment in Tomato quite honestly matches the gain offered by the former device without need to further complicate things.

That just scratches the surface, and the firmware includes some very comprehensive logging abilities, complete with a real-time scrolling bandwidth meter, a 24-hour chart, and logs that go from daily, to weekly, to monthly (Image courtesy of the author's website):

That's pretty doggone nice, and Jon (the author) has been very busy with improvements and upgrades, several having been released since January of this year alone! What I had considered a cheap and perhaps disposable piece of networking gear is now nearly indispensable, performing functions well outside the $35.00 I paid for it. I upgraded the communications rack to better support the upgraded router, as well as adding another 5-port switch for later expansion of the network.

Yeah, I know it ain't terribly professional, but it does what my MCSE-addled brain set it up to do, and the time-switched outlet of the clock has been set to "always on" with no need to reboot the router so far, having gone just over 30 days of glitch-free operation. Jon, I doubt you need more endorsements, but you're getting one from me, and I heartily recommend that owners of these little blue Linksys boxes head to your website to get their own version of your Tomato firmware:

It's back!

Ok, maybe it doesn't say "Winchester" on the barrel or buttplate, but then again, "Winchester" firearms haven't really been owned by a member of the Winchester family for eons, have they?

However, O.F. Mossberg and Sons has given John Moses Browning credit where due, and re-introduced the venerable Winchester Model 94 lever rifle, calling it their Model 464. See the strong family resemblance?

Now, they've changed a couple things, most visibly by adding a tang safety (ala' the last run of Winchester 94s, still better than that crossbolt abortion), a round bolt vs. the previous square model, and a rear receiver bridge over the bolt for scope mounting. The tang safety will absolutely booger up any attempt at mounting a rear tang sight, so if I get one I'll have to remedy that. Otherwise, it's a pretty good-looking replica, and if it goes across the counter for 300 clams, I'll be happy to put one or two under my Christmas tree this year.

It makes one wonder what those who bought the remains of Winchester's firearms side will do for an encore...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Please Protect Us From Ourselves!

For the uninformed, on 6 February, (earlier this month), 2,000+ motorists stranded themselves on the Interstate between Janesville and Madison, WI. This occured during the worst snowstorm of 2008, and I'll say it again - they stranded themselves. Many sat there for 9-12 hours, until National Guard, DNR Game Wardens, and State Patrol crews started rescue operations.

The local news rags now echo the wailing and gnashing of teeth from those who wish to blame everybody but themselves for their predicament. I find the unmitigated gall of the whiners totally unbelievable, especially since local news television and radio broadcasts forecast the storm well in advance, and repeatedly warned folks to stay off the roads. One mental midget was clearly upset that he had his 2 month-old baby in the car with him for the duration. Hello, McFly? Reckless child endangerment charges come to mind...

We received 13.5 inches of snow at Casa de' G-98 that day. Granted, I'm somewhat jaded, being a graduate of the USAF Arctic Survival School (aka, Cool School), among several others. I called in to work and stayed home - my momma didn't raise an idiot. However, it doesn't take a survivalist education to become aware of what one can and cannot do in adverse conditions. If the roads look like this, and the authorities tell you to stay off of them, they're not doing it to hear themselves speak:

I see today that the governor has issued an apology, but it's not the right apology. Here's how it should've read:

Citizens of Wisconsin,

Please allow me the opportunity to apologize for the unfortunate situation which occurred on Wednesday, February 6, 2008.

I’m sorry that the people involved in the traffic situation are idiots.

I’m sorry that they didn’t have the common sense to stay off the roads.

I’m sorry that they didn’t think to equip their cars for winter driving.

I’m sorry that they are a poor reflection upon the people of the great State of Wisconsin.

I’m sorry that they expect someone to jump in and save them after they make poor decisions.

In general, I’m sorry that people continue to remain helpless and unable to take care of themselves.


Governor Jim Doyle

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Gem of an Article from the Wayback Machine

I make no bones about the fact that I shoot black powder cartridge rifle rounds, and a goodly amount of black powder gets converted into smoke and noise thanks to the hobby. Much is said about the characteristics of current Holy Black compared to what our forefathers used, and I've been buying higher-grade Goex Cartridge to improve the quality of both my creations and their subsequent results. Some recommend I make my own, but that pushes my safety envelope a bit much. I can easily drive to my supplier and pick up several pounds for about $11.00/pound, so I'm in no big rush to come up with an alternate source.

However, I've been keeping a little shard of days gone by, namely, the June 6th, 1896 edition of Harper's Round Table, for some time now.


Because it has a darned interesting article in it, describing the gunpowder works at the DuPont factory near Wilmington, Delaware.

It's time to share this piece of history, if not for the technical information, then for the journalistic style of the period. So I scanned the whole article, and created an Adobe .pdf file for y'all.

Hell, even the watercolors are neat.

And yes, they used willow as the wood of choice for their charcoal, grown on the DuPont estate.

Read about it here:

Which explains what went inside my other piece of history, still quite full:

Winter decided to visit, and never left...

Here it is, 17 Feb 08, and it was a mix of freezing rain, sleet, and snow that shut down the city buses, the malls, and pretty much all commerce. We broke the all-time snowfall record during the last storm, so the novelty has pretty much worn out by the time this stuff started falling this morning.

Bernie wanted to go out and play, so I humored him.

Since I had the camera out and about, here's one of my maple trees covered in ice:

Note the robin's nest:

Otherwise, not a very productive day. Maybe the roads will be better tomorrow - I noticed that the snowplows are finally making their way around town.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The new album's out...

Using the rules posted here:

I've created a new band, album title, and album cover.

Behold, Buffalo National River's debut album, New York Traffic Lights:

Mosrite guitar solo on Track #2 by your's truly.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

What's a FUDD?

A Truism by any other name still rings crystal clear. This one, in particular, shines brightly as it illuminates the creature known as The FUDD. Jim Zumbo figured out really quickly how it pertained to him, and got himself a big serving of humble pie for his troubles. Fellow FUDD David Petzal has yet to be visited by the clue bird, and spouts his particular brand of ignorance to this day, even dodging his own documented history regarding his 1994 endorsement of the original Assault Weapons Ban. One can hope that will be remedied soon, and I have no problems reminding him and his ilk of the color of their stripes in the meantime.

Now, what's the heck's a FUDD?

A FUDD is somebody who has no problem giving you a ration of crap for the inline-ignition muzzleloader that you bought for deer season, while extolling the virtues of his own "primitive" flintlock or caplock. Of course, the primitive concept only goes so far, because chances are he's driving to the deer woods from home vs. riding a horse or walking there on foot. Not only that, but he's probably using Pyrodex vs. real Holy Black. The only thing primitive about these guys and their beloved smokepoles is their Triassic attitudes towards other sportsmen and gun owners in general. You want "primitive", Hero? Jump out of a tree onto the back of the deer, stabbing it with a sharp pointy stick. Then I'll give you props for primitive. Otherwise, STFU.

By way of further explanation, I give you this:

"FUDDs come in many [other] forms, as well. The original idea was indeed from the character of Elmer Fudd, with his cartoon hunting guns.

There's FUDDs who will declare that anything beyond their chosen year is okay to be banned. This varies from the 19th century to the 1960's...that anything beyond blackpowder isn't needed up to anything beyond their 1960's Marlin isn't needed. Whatever they think won't affect them.

There's FUDDs who think all semiauto rifles are killing machines and ought to be banned. They tend to shut up when you ask them if that includes the Garand, which is indeed semiauto and far more "lethal" than 5.56 AR! Surviving a COM hit with a 5.56x45 is possible. Surviving a COM hit with a 30-06 would be incredibly lucky.

There's FUDDS who want anything scary-looking banned...forgetting that their scoped hunting rifle is a SNIPER RIFLE on the nooz.

There are FUDDs who want all military calibers banned, even. As long as it doesn't affect their old thutty-thutty.

And, of course, there's FUDDS who even look down on other guns of their chosen sort. You see, you're supposed to show up at the clay range with a $25,000 engraved shotgun signed by Pietro Beretta himself. If you arrive with your plastic-stocked 870 with a rail on it, well, you must be up to No Good, and that sort ought to be banned, too.

The one constant is that they're all more damaging to gun rights than the antis are. Because they're willing to pretend to be gun-rights sorts, and then they throw everyone under the bus."

There you have it.