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"walls of the city" logo conceptualized by Oleg Volk and executed by Linoge. Logo is © "walls of the city".

said elsewhere

I recently wrote this somewhere else, and it was sufficiently amusing for the audience there that I thought I would share it here: 

Just when I thought he could not be a bigger tool bag, he went and hit up Sears. 

In retrospect, though, that was later downgraded to “Harbor Freight”.  In any case, the context is unimportant, and so is the person in discussion for that matter, but I figured it was giggle-worthy. 

On a somewhat related point, I am reminded of this marvelous quote by Robert A. Heinlein, as vocalized by the inimitable Lazarus Long: 

Expertise in one field does not carry over into other fields. But experts often think so. The narrower their field of knowledge the more likely they are to think so.

When you combine that with the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect, you end up in a very interesting place indeed. 

Speaking of somewhere elses, the Twitter feed for this site is once again live, this time at @wallsofthecity.  I would not expect a great deal out of that account, but for those of you who were following the site there, rather than on an RSS feeder or on Facebook, that option is once again available to you.  ‘Cause, y’know, I post so much, and it is so hard to keep up with me…  (This site’s syndication to Facebook has been having issues of late as well – Jetpack is being cranky, for some reason – but I think I have corrected them.) 

Although, when it comes to content, if something truly catastrophic does not happen this weekend, I may have some high-speed video of some fairly interesting firearms being fired.  I guess if something truly catastrophic does happen I might have high-speed video of that, too, but we will just go ahead and hope I do not.  Being an idiot, I forgot my tripod, so I am not sure how things will exactly work out, but I will see what I can do. 

And to bring us back around to kind of where this post started, I give you this quote, with the presentation courtesy of some folks who happen to make some really good beer: 

DogfishHeadRalphWaldoEmerson

Seriously.  If you should ever find yourself in/around Milton, Delaware, Dogfish Head gives an outstanding tour of their impressive and unique operation, and then they let you sample their tasty beverages – for free – afterwards.  In fact, if you time it right, you can hit happy hour (1630-1830 M-F) at the end of your tour, and enjoy half-price pints and brats at their on-site bar.  Win. 

remembered to take a picture this time

So I got to pat my Defender yesterday.  The entire driveline has been removed (and part of it has thankfully already been sold off), and the donor car is getting prepped for being gutted itself.  The shop has promised me that I can have the truck back in-hand by the 18th of next month, so I guess we will see how things turn out.  All said and done, it will be a 1985 Defender with a 1995 Discovery 3.9L V8 (rebuilt), ZF 4-speed manual, and an LT230T transfer case and a 1993-ish Range Rover wiring harness (to bypass the security systems that Discoveries had but apparently Range Rovers did not).  Amusingly, this should result in a significant weight decrease (aluminium block versus the old cast iron block) and about a 150% increase in horsepower and a 100% increase in torque. 

But you do not care about any of that.  You care about the other car that was hiding at the shop where my Rover is being worked on: 

IMG_20140319_200500

That is, from what I was told, a 1973 Jensen Interceptor.  No, it is not for sale.  No, it is not driven terribly often, either… which is a damned shame. 

monkey in the middle

Or, at least, one of the strangest versions I have seen in a while. 

So I have started taking Krav Maga from the Triangle Krav Maga studio near me.  For those unfamiliar with the name, it is a combative style designed by Imi Lichtenfeld, and now, as I understand it, is the de facto hand-to-hand fighting style of most/all of the Israeli military forces.  The premise is pretty simple – no style, no flash, just stop the attack in the most effective and efficient means possible. 

I can appreciate that.  The only problem, of course, is that I have somewhere around a decade of muscle memory from various Asian martial arts, which are almost more on the “arts” side of the spectrum these days, which can occasionally be frustrating in class. 

Anywise, the first quarter of the class yesterday was warm-up and stretching, the middle half of the class was teaching one way to get away from a choke from the front and a very similar way of getting away from a choke from the rear, and then the last quarter was perhaps monkey-in-the-middle time. 

Everyone in the class was given a number, and then one person was set at the middle of the room with the lights off and their eyes closed.  Everyone else jogged around the perimeter of the room, and the instructor cranked up the background music and started randomly calling out numbers.  When your number was called, you ran to the person at the middle, and performed either a choke from the front or from the rear (with the instructor making it clear that we were to apply pressure to the sides of the neck, not the front).  The person in the middle was to perform the appropriate response we just learned, and then continue with “combatives” – strikes, kicks, etc. – until the aggressor went to the ground (these were, of course, no-contact drills, apart from the actual hands-on of the “choking” and breaking away from it).  Then the aggressor gets up and returns to the jogging circle.  This continued until the instructor called for a new person in the middle, and on we went. 

Pairing off and learning a skill is all good and well when you can see the attacker and the room is lit and nothing else is going on.  But when you cannot see your aggressor, and you cannot rely on your ears to give you any useful feedback, and you are worn out from having been jogging around for 10 minutes or so, you really start to get a taste for the application of a particular skill. 

Anywise, I have no complaints yet, though I have only taken three classes from them.  I did also take my North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permit course from the same folks, and I have to admit, they did an outstanding job keeping that 8-hour class from descending into mind-numbing boredom, while also ensuring they pass on the pertinent – and rather important – information and details.  I only had to cringe once or twice – the instructor (pro-open-carry, mind you) mentioned “the lack of surprise” as a shortcoming of open carry despite “surprise” not being a defensive tactic, and then later on he suggested a Double Tap for… well, any purpose, really – but I had no meaningful complaints with that course either.  There is something comforting about training on a combative style at a school that is not only capable, but willing to teach about weapon retention / defense; a lot of Asian styles outright spurn the notion, at least in relation to modern weapons and especially firearms. 

‘nuff said

To all those arseholes who whinge about other people spending those other people’s money to have fun building their own rifles, I have only this to say: 

MosinCBRPS

Bite me. 

psa: tn hcp and moving out of state

If you have a Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit and move out of state, the TN Department of Safety will cancel your HCP as soon as they receive notification that you have acquired a driver’s license from another state. 

This is not terribly well publicized online, but I called the DoS and asked them directly, and that was the answer. 

The lack of a grace period is somewhat annoying, but when coupled with North Carolina’s “you must live in this state for 30 days before applying” constraint, as well as the fact that the Wake County Sheriff’s Department told me yesterday that my Concealed Handgun Permit application would take 90 days to process (even though they only have 45 days by law… apparently sheriffs are willfully misreading § 14-415.13 (5) to indicate that they have 45 days after the receipt of the medical records, not 45 days after the receipt of the release), it is damned frustrating indeed. 

I will have to leave for the NRAAM in 41 days; something tells me I will have to find someone else to model my Crazy Holster for me. 

(In fairness, some of that is my fault.  We delayed my getting an NC DL for a couple of reasons, and then I procrastinated about taking the CCH class.  But still; permits to to exercise a Constitutionally-protected right need to go the way of the dinosaurs and fast.) 

it’s alive!

After two attempts at forming the kydex around the Mauser (note to self: remove grips from any gun that has removable grips, and use the less-dense foam for thicker guns), the Crazy Holster Plans are well and truly underway: 

MauserHolster

While it certainly does look like I goofed up around the rear holster with that nasty crimp, I promise that will not affect things in the slightest, at least with the plans I have.  This will either be awesome or an abject failure. 

And assuming the former, this is the only picture you folks are going to get until after the NRAAM.  If you want to see the finished product before then, you are just going to have to track me down there.  Assuming the latter… well, it depends on how catastrophic of a failure it is. 

nraam is go

Well, it looks like I will, in fact, be attending the National Rifle Association’s Annual Meetings up in Indianapolis this year. 

The current schedule has me there all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so I should be able to get the full experience.  If you want to meet up with me and hang out, drop me an email at “linoge (at) wallsofthecity (dot) net”, or leave a comment here, and we can exchange cell numbers and whatnot.  If you are looking for the perfect opportunity to tell a US Navy veteran who served in a war zone that he is “all hat and no cattle” to his face, as one of my recent detractors phrased it, you are going to have to find me on your… oh, hell, who am I kidding?  Keyboard commandos of that caliber never have the nerve to say anything in person. 

Even if you do not want to meet up, if you are attending the NRAAM, I would strongly suggest considering this offer.  IFAKs / blow-out kits with Celox and chest seals and tourniquets do have instructions on them, but you will not want to be reading those instructions while someone is bleeding out on the floor.  Thankfully, a side benefit of being a Triage Officer in the Navy (I do not know who thought it was a good idea to put an engineer in that role…) is that I am all too familiar with the use of that equipment; but, even so, my training is five years old, and I am considering whether my schedule can allow me to attend the class as well. 

Anywise, plans for interesting holsters are already in the works; the necessary parts have been ordered and are in transit, and, if nothing else, I will bring the compensated Tokarev and its “race holster”.  I think I have hit on a “race holster” design for the Mauser, but I am going to have to play around with the kydex before I am really certain, and I do not want to do that until I have the right parts on hand and can measure everything properly. 

I do not plan on blogging the convention, and my good camera is still quite down, so do not count on high-quality pictures.  Still, if any reader wants me to swing by any booth in particular, let me know, and I will see what I can do. 

nraam14

new additions

Unfortunately, I am still annoyingly unemployed, but I am only in that position because we moved so Better Half could acquire the job she really wanted, so, in that regard, we are in a much better place than a lot of folks.  Given that, when the opportunity presents itself to help a friend, we try to do what we can. 

… Especially when “help” consists of exchanging cash he needs for interesting things he has: 

NewAdditions

The C96 Mauser at the bottom was one of the “Wartime Commercial” variants and was likely produced between 1915 and 1921, as shown by its serial number (413***), the intertwined “NS” monogram on the back of the hammer, the “New Safety” design, and the 900m adjustment missing from its tangent sight.  It is not an all-matching-serial-number example – the bolt and the lock frame both bear a a 413*** number different from the frame but the same as each other – but given that this gun was produced while there was a small conflict going on, I am not too worried, especially since I plan on shooting it.  Amusingly, while the lock frame does not match the gun frame, but all of the pieces on the lock frame – the safety, the hammer, the disconnector, etc. – match the gun frame (for those unfamiliar with German guns, they serialize everything); I guess an assembly line worker grabbed from the wrong bin that day.  Thankfully, on account of its age, one can safely attach an original or a reproduction stock to it without ending up in an all-inclusive federal resort for ten years… at least until the BATFE weenies change their minds again. 

And, as I recently boasted on the Book of Faces, I not only successfully field-stripped the C96 to clean it, I put it back together… on the first try.  Granted, I was using these instructions, and did not go into detail stripping, but still. 

Moving upwards, the M1 Carbine is a bit of an oddity too.  Both the receiver and the trigger group were manufactured by Inland, but their serial numbers (9460** and 16**, respectively) do not match.  Even more interestingly, the trigger group is stamped LGK OÖ, indicating it spent time in Upper Austria after World War II.  The receiver does not have the absurd over-polishing evident on most Upper Austrian M1 Carbines, though, so there is no telling.  It has a 3rd style barrel band with bayonet lug and “AMCO” markings, a straight-face slide made by Underwood, a modified magazine catch from a manufacturer I cannot chase down (WA), a post-war rotary safety, a post-war milled rear sight, an unmatching stock, and so forth.  In other words, it is a parts gun, and another that I will not feel bad shooting.  Perhaps most amusingly, the barrel indicates Inland Manufacturing was a part of General Motors at the time of its production. 

Finally, the Colt 1903 at the top is a .32 ACP model, and is apparently a Type III manufactured in 1913, according to its 147*** serial number.  As far as I can tell, none of the small bits were turquoise blued, as some of the earlier Type IIIs were, but I personally love the “standard” high-polished blue finish.  As far as my admittedly ignorant examination goes, this one is all original… but will still get shot, do not worry. 

So now that I already have a crazy holster for a Tokarev, and also have a CZ-52, a Webley, a Mauser, and a 1903, assuming I were going to the NRA Annual Meetings (yet to be determined), what should I carry? 

dragon leatherworks and ncis

Everyone remember the all-of-maybe-one-second-of-airtime that Dragon Leatherworksspiffy lunchbox received during the NCIS episode “Playing With Fire”?  Well if that was hitting the bigtime (and it was), I do not even know how to categorize this: 

NCISBulletproofDragonLeatherworks1

Note the banner on the upper right. 

NCISBulletproofDragonLeatherworks2

Note the guy in the green shirt. 

NCISBulletproofDragonLeatherworks3

Banner again. 

NCISBulletproofDragonLeatherworks4

Really blurry banner. 

NCISBulletproofDragonLeatherworks5

Behold the whole banner and the guy in the green shirt! 

Yes, ladies and gentlepeople, Dragon Leatherworks is, in fact, a real business, and their banner and t-shirts (the green and orange ones, specifically) were featured in yesterday’s NCIS episode “Bulletproof”.  Dennis Badurina – the man who does all the hands-on work – will happily make you a leather holster for pretty much any handgun you might own, and even a belt to hang that holster on if you need one. 

You might want to get your orders in soon, though; free advertising like this is bound to consume all of Dennis’ free time. 

(Can I just say, though, that I positively hate the “soft-focus” filming style of NCIS?  Maybe it is just me…) 

some funnies

I do not know about the rest of you, but I need a laugh today, especially after coming home from Ikea yesterday to this charlie foxtrot.

For Christmas, we got my two-year-old nephew this vaguely Transformer-ish fire truck.  The only problem is that said nephew gets borderline furious when it transforms; we can only figure he thinks it broke, and wants it fixed RIGHT NOW.  The amusing thing is that courtesy of this not-really-Transformer (the term appeared nowhere on its packaging or the toy itself), I seem to have successfully converted my seven-year-old niece into watching and enjoying the Transformer TV series.  I am not sure which series she is currently watching, but still.

In other news:

IfItFitsISits

This, of course, is a corollary to the “How to Catch a Cat” theory.

Speaking of cats, there is one distinct advantage to owning them – your trash cans never get messed with by raccoons, deer, or anything else with those kinds of proclivities.

Speaking of proclivities, (how crappy of a segue is that?) I will just borrow this from Smallest Minority:

PattonOswalt

Oh, and the funniest thing today?  According to StatCounter and accounting for traffic received before I installed its code, this site passed 1,000,000 pageviews somewhere over a month ago. 

And, honestly, that is all I have really amusing at the moment… so we will close on a pretty picture instead:

IMG_20140128_104536

Never let someone tell you modern cell phones cannot take good pictures.

New Blog Alert – SafariPrep

One of my buddies just started a blog in preparation for a safari he’s planning. Check Matt’s blog out when you get a chance.

worth saving here

If you know anything at all about Erin Palette, it is probably that she has a Mosin Nagant rifle that she has slowly and surely been customizing in a way that is sure to make purists all manner of… shall we say ‘annoyed’.  Most recently, she has gone and shoved a 10-round magazine into it, because ten rounds is better than five.  Obviously. 

However, whilst teasing us with the prospect of her upcoming review, someone questioned the… financial utility of going down the path she had selected: 

How is spending ~$600 to improve a $100 rifle "saving" money over just buying a $600 rifle to begin with?

There is the small detail, of course, that Erin never once claimed to be “saving” money over anything, or at all, and she easily combusted that particular straw man in fairly short order.  But, being the person I am, I just had to respond

I would say that Erin has handily dispensed with the straw man implicit in this particular comment, but let us take it at its face value, and go from there, shall we?

Potential answers include:

Because no one makes a $600 bolt-action rifle that throws 10 rounds of 7.62x54r before having to be reloaded.

Well, damn, that really is the only answer one really needs. I mean, one could go the PSL route if you wanted to spend around $1000 for a good, not-hacked-together one, or one could go the route of the all-too-awesome VEPR or Zastava 7.62x54r rifles that are slowly filtering over from Russia, but those both fail the arbitrary budget and bolt-action requirements.

But, hey, let us keep moving on with potential answers:

Because building something from the ground up is often more fun than buying it off the rack.

Because building something from the ground up is more educational than buying it off the rack.

Because building something from the ground up engenders a sense of ownership that buying something off the rack does not always.

Because at the end of the day, this rifle will remain a Mosin, and can thus be used, abused, and beaten upon in far worse ways than your average $600 bolt-action rifle (though corrosive ammo will still make the rifle its bitch).

Because feeding this rifle, no matter how much the platform itself costs, will still be cheaper than feeding another rifle that shoots a slug of similar ballistic properties.

Because this is Erin’s rifle and she can do with it as she bloody well pleases.

And probably the most important answer of all: Because fuck you, that is why.

The truth is, not everyone can plop down $600 for a rifle right off the bat, and while I am a firm believer and ardent supporter of saving money, I can certainly comprehend how that can be difficult for people. So they piecemeal-build things, like this. Is it the most financially optimal solution? Probably not, but I do not see where "financially optimal" was a constraint anywhere on this build, despite the ashes of a straw man vigorously screaming it might have been.

On the other hand, Erin has learned a lot about her rifle, has shared a lot of that knowledge with people who might not otherwise have a clue, and has had a load of fun in the process.

Personally, I call that a win.

But I am weird like that. 

Firearms are just like any other hobby – some people enjoy walking into a store, buying the best and shiniest off the rack, and going home to show off their new acquisition.  On the other hand, some people like starting from a beat up old platform and seeing what they can make out of it.  To put it in contemporary terms, it boils down to the “built not bought” argument that has surfaced in communities involving automobiles, computers, houses, and just about anything else where the two options are viable. 

Is one of those options “better” than the other?  Define “better”. 

And therein lies the core problem – what works for you may not work for someone else.  Of course, the funny thing is that the same person who upbraided Erin for not meeting a goal she never actually set for herself also proceeded to berate her for the possibility of someone actually taking her advice when it came to products she reviewed.  And what if Erin had taken his advice (before he gave it, granted, but still) and never proceeded down this path to begin with?  She would know a lot less about her firearm, and would not have experienced the enjoyment of working on it herself. 

In other words, she considered the cost worthwhile – not just for the firearm itself, though, but for the “whole package” – and who is anyone else to tell her she is wrong? 

So get out there and dork around with your firearms.  You never know what you are going to learn, and unless you really start doing bizarre things, the odds of you actually hurting anything is fairly low.  Plus, the good news is that for older firearms, like, say, Mosin Nagants, not only can the price of admission be absurdly cheap, but replacement parts for the ones you jack up are pretty cheap as well (except bolts… if anyone has a good lead on affordable Mosin bolts, let me know). 

more short thoughts

Now that my father is on the road to recovery and I am back on my apparently usual side of the country, I have two takeaways: 

First, do not get cancer.  Obviously this is not something you can always control, but if you do have control over it (say, by stopping smoking), I would suggest exerting that control. 

Second, cancer sucks, chemotherapy sucks, and radiation therapy sucks, but here is the news you do not want to hear: recovery sucks more.  Dad’s was something of a special case, in that his cancer exhibited in his neck, which has kept him from so much as drinking water for most of the past three weeks, and that he received both radiation and chemo, but the general gist is the same.  Both of those treatments ended about the same time, but his condition noticeably degraded for at least a week afterwards, and the climb up is looking to be a lot longer and more gradual than the slide down.  Cancer is an illness, but unlike so many others out there, you are not just suddenly “better” once the medicos and techs finish their attempts at killing you. 


There is hardly a faster way to ruin my faith in my fellow Americans than by going to the airport.  Apparently the TSA was doing “random” ID checks for the folks boarding my flight out of SEATAC*, and some of my fellow passengers were talking with the tin-badged high-school-drop-outs doing the checking.  During the course of the conversation, one of the uniformed thugs said, “I’m going to have to see your cell phone, sir…” and without missing a beat, my fellow passenger went to hand her his phone.  No hesitation, no asking “Why?”, no nothing… just, “Here, let me hand you my multi-hundred-dollar electronic device that, by the way, has access to most personal – and, probably, financial – aspects of my life.”  Turns out the TSA agent was joking, but that is entirely besides the point. 

Our government has been working for decades to create a populace that obeys uniforms unquestioningly, regardless of who is wearing those uniforms or what they are demanding.  I guess those years of conditioning are finally paying off. 

If all else fails, incidents like this will drive the point home if nothing else will…  Note that the SWAT team, called out not for a murderer or a rapist or any kind of violent offender, but rather for a search warrant for stolen goods on a house with a resident who has a permit to carry a firearm, found neither the people nor the property they were looking for, but willfully destroyed property in the course of executing their warrant.  As a commenter at Say Uncle’s quipped, at least we “should” be thankful the family canine survived the experience. 


On the other hand, there hardly a faster way to remind me that there still exist broad swaths of our country where a man can go live and mostly be unbothered by petty autocrats with delusions of grandeur than by flying across that country’s northern stretches.  Of course, one does have to deal with the not-insignificant amount of snow I flew over, and likewise one has to deal with the not-insignificant detail of finding employment, but it is not like I am having much luck with that in the fastest growing major metropolitan area in the country regardless. 

To keep this weblog nominally firearm- and self-defense-related, I wish there were a way to embed this video, but that seems impossible, so go watch it on Facebook and come back when you are done.  Allow me to be perfectly frank: anyone who adopts the argument that those of us who bear arms for self-defense should simply hang them up and fight back with our fists “like ‘real’ men do” is a disgusting human being whose opinion can be discarded outright and without consideration. 

Personally, I need to see about taking the class for my NC carry permit (just like drivers licenses here, you cannot simply “import” them from out-of-state, even though they recognize TN permits), and I am going to go take a look at one of Triangle Krav Maga’s classes.  I have always wanted to take that martial art and my karate is getting rusty regardless. 


On a similar note, if you do not read Straight Forward in a Crooked World, you should, if only for articles like these and quotes like this buried in them: 

A large part of the problem is that we lose lives in these attacks because no one plans to fight.

Lock down is not a plan, and it’s not a solution. It is a law enforcement procedure gone mainstream. The idea that a first floor classroom filled with children, with no lock on the door and no reasonable means of defense are simply supposed to wait for death to arrive is barbaric and sadistic.

Read the whole post; trust me, it is worth it. 


On the other end of the “you should read this” spectrum, apparently Snake Hound Machine has been banned from ARFCOM for calling out some jackass who was copying his designs.  I understand that AR15.com has rules against “crapping” on classified ad threads, but… wow. 


Regular readers will know that I have a particular love for ingenious and creative methods of getting around asinine and pointless laws, so it should come as not surprise to you at all that I positively love the Troy Pump Action Rifle.  I do not quite comprehend why the lower receiver is not AR-standard**, but what matters is that it takes all AR/STANAG-compatible magazines, and neatly bypasses pretty much every “assault weapon” ban I am aware of on account of not being semi-automatic any more. 

*giggle*  An Evil Black Rifle, only apparently without the “evil”.  I have already concluded I prefer Troy Battlemags to PMags (they lack the “foot” PMags have, and are thus easier to stack), but this just makes me love the company more. 


Speaking of laws pertaining only to semi-automatic firearms, I give Ruger and Smith & Wesson a ton of credit for deciding to stop wasting their time on Kalifornistan’s idiocyOver five years ago now I discussed the pointlessness and futility of “microstamping”, and nothing has changed in the interim.  Hell, even a study that falls over itself trying to exonerate microstamping admits, “it is not a perfect technology, even on optimized weapons, as the poorer transfer of the Taurus gear code would indicate”. 


And as the last gunblog-related thing here for a while, I am intrigued to hear that Soldiers’ Angels has been given full ownership of the Gunblogger Rendezvous.  Personally, I see this only as a good thing for all parties involved, and I hope this leads to bigger and better things for all folks involved. 


Is it a bad thing when the only call-back I get for job applications these days is for an administrative role, and I was only called because the person who placed the ad was morbidly curious why I was applying for that position to begin with? 

I think that is bad. 

On the good news front, I have started taking a webinar course for getting my PMP certification, so at least there is that. 


Speaking of making money, Michael Z. Williamson and a few others have expressed interest in reselling my Russian Origami t-shirts, so we may be doing another run of those in the future.  This time around, we will probably be doing them on tan / sand / coyote / light-tacti-brown blanks, so the text and graphic should show up significantly better.  No guarantees on any of this, but I will put up another poll or something to judge interest if we get to that point. 


And with that, I think the cats and I need to finish our preparations for ZOMG SNOWICE APOCALYPSE 2014 Mk. 2; the dual-fuel stove has been loaded and brought inside, our secondary gas tanks have been topped off, a tub has been filled with flushing water, and… well, everything else has already been done.  If you are prepared for the zombie apocalypse, an ice storm is just a storm.  The only real oddity is that someone has trusted me to pick up their child from daycare.  In my Mustang.  Here is to hoping all of the salt the NCDOT crews put down two days ago has not been washed away yet… 


( * – Wherein “random” means “if you make eye contact with either of the uniformed imbeciles standing on either side of the boarding gate”.  I did not, and my ID was not checked.

** – Though, by being a non-AR receiver, it neatly bypasses any outright ban of ARs too, so there is that.) 

gmr 4×4 and armada services

defenderbackupOn 20JUN13, I agreed to purchase the following vehicle from GMR 4×4: 

A “jump in and drive away” 1985 Land Rover D90 with: 

- ~55,000 miles
- a 2.25L petrol engine
- a verbally-assured “good”, “solid”, and “rust-free” frame and body
- newly upholstered front seats
- front seat heaters
- a Mantec rear tire carrier
- a CD player
DefendersourceBackup- a protective roll-cage installed. 

On 06AUG13 I received the following vehicle: 

A 1985 Land Rover D90 with: 

- ~154,000 miles
- a 2.25L petrol engine that, after having been driven for about 100 miles in my possession, connected cylinders 3 and 4 due to a long-term head gasket failure
- a large white stain on the headrest of the passenger seat’s new upholstery
- seat heaters with controls that are basically inaccessible if the Rover’s doors are closed
- a Mantec rear tire carrier that was installed without correcting the massive dent in the rear door, resulting in the carrier preventing the door from opening all the way
- a CD player without a faceplate, rendering it nothing more than an inert electronic brick
- no roll cage on account of the seller being unable to find a shop capable of building it (the funds from this were applied to the shipment costs / refunded)

and

- no physical bill of sale (one was eventually provided)
- an unsigned title with the wrong VIN (a signed registration certificate with the right VIN was eventually provided)
- a broken driver’s side window regulator that was notated on the vehicle’s Ministry of Transportation paperwork from before its importation to the States (the parts for this were eventually provided by the seller)
- an exhaust system that is “more rust than pipe”, to quote the people who interacted with it
DSCN1182-2- a rusted-out-and-replaced-at-some-point-in-the-past rear cross member of the frame
- a passenger side battery box that had completely rusted away and been replaced with a smaller, hand-fabricated box placed inside the rusted-out box
- extensive rusting and corrosion on the leading exterior surfaces of both passenger and driver foot wells with unskilled repairs executed on the driver’s side
- signs of rusting at the bottom corners of the door jambs beneath the “new” paint 
- a manual transmission that was incapable of selecting any gear whatsoever.

All reports are that the D90 drove onto its trailer in Vermont under its own power.  Upon arriving in Tennessee, neither the truck driver nor I could get the vehicle into any gear, and the vehicle spent the next 3 months – literally – in a shop getting the broken transmission replaced.  DSCN1184-2I know the D90 was removed from its trailer and put back onto it at least once between its pick-up and delivery, but the shipping broker – Approved Auto Transport, a division of Armada Services – disavows any knowledge of or responsibility for the broken transmission, citing the possibility of “pre-existing conditions”.  The people who actually carried the Rover from Vermont to Tennessee – Jo-Rye Transport LLC – are functionally impossible to contact on account of their cell phones being disconnected and their email address being hacked. 

Replacing the transmission cost me nearly $5,000 in parts, labor, time, shipping, and currency conversions (the replacement had to come from once-Great Britain, considering there are not many over here).  I was able to drive it for about two hours before the engine blew, and the Rover spent another two months in the field of a very generous diesel mechanic in western North Carolina.  After enlisting the even-more-generous help of a local Rover enthusiast, I was able to drag it back to the Raleigh area DSCN1195-2and it spent another two months or so in a local shop while I figured out what to do with it. 

Replacing the engine with a significantly newer 3.9L V8 petrol out of a Discovery cost me just shy of $6000, with some of those costs hopefully being recouped by selling the new-but-incompatible-with-the-replacement-engine transmission I just installed.  I will also be selling the old transfer case, as well as any parts that might be salvageable off the blown engine.  I would like to effusively thank Braddy’s British Motor Works for allowing me to store the rover in their shop, and then being willing to take on the not-insignificant task of swapping engines. 

Replacing the passenger side seat box is on the to-do list once I procure parts and will apparently cost somewhere between $100 and $500, plus my own time, to complete.  There is little I can do for the rust on the rest of the vehicle save treat it as best I can. 

Ideally the Rover will be coming home in the next few weeks, and I will post… more cheerful pictures of it when it gets here. 

Suffice to say, I will never again do business with GMR 4×4 (technically “GMR Imports LLC”), Approved Auto Transport, Armada Services, or Jo-Rye Transport LLC in the future, and if anyone were to ask me for my opinion of those companies, I would likewise recommend against doing business with them. 

short thoughts

If your phone has the ability to blacklist numbers (and, thankfully, CyanogenMod does), I would go ahead and blacklist the 1.268.762.**** area code and prefix.  In fact, unless you have family, friends, or other people in Antigua and Barbuda who would otherwise be calling you, I would recommend simply blacklisting the entire 1.268.* area code.  It turns out jackasses from that area code are doing some kind of “one-ring scam”, and calling them back – as people are wont to do when they receive calls from a number they do not recognize – can be expensive.  Even more annoyingly, these frakwits are calling in the morning before I get up, and after their two attempts this morning bounced off my blacklist, they tried going the “unlisted” route as well, so that is now blocked on my phone too. 

Strange world we live in. 


If you should ever find yourself near Gig Harbor, Washington, or in any liquor store that stocks their products, Heritage Distillery Co.’s “Crisp Gin” is strongly recommended.  I did not feel quite up to trying their “Soft Gin” on account of it being distilled from grapes, but their grain-based product is pretty much everything I want a gin to be.  On a similar note, Heritage is apparently the only distillery in America that will allow you to come in and use their microstills to actually (and, more importantly, legally) make your very own distilled spirit from the grains up.  That is kind of awesome. 

Dear Android app developers: stop making programs where the end user cannot turn off the notifications.  For example, that cutsey-poo Clash of Clans commercial that ran during the Super Bowl?  Yeah, I downloaded the app, ‘cause, hey, crazy little skeleton dude patting his classic-bomb right before it detonates?  That works for me.  It turns out that every time one of your builders finishes one of his tasks, the program trips a notification on your phone, with the typical notification alert noises, lights, and vibrations…. with no way to turn it off save for turning off all notifications on your phone. 

Yeah, that is bad programming.  Stop it. 


I do not think I will ever miss those old-fashioned, short-bowl toilets.  If you do not know what I am talking about, go to any house that was built in or before the ‘80s and has not been updated since.  You will find them. 


A while back I bought a whole passel of these little dehumidifying box thingies.  Do not do that.  They are handy and small and easily recharged in the oven, but they are made of two pieces of metal very gently pressed together, and it does not take much force at all – say about as much as they would receive being dropped from counter heights – to cause those two pieces to separate.  And those little pink beads go eve-ry-where

When we got the new safe, I upgraded to one of these, which conveniently cuts the oven out of the loop, but still has the… structural integrity problem, with reloading it being a somewhat larger challenge. 

Now, I could figure out how to be less of a klutzy idiot, but the safer bet is probably up-upgrading to one of these when my current one finally bites the big one.  My parents have a passel of them for their safe / RV / basement / etc., and their construction seems a step above the other options on the market today… and harder for me to spontaneously disassemble. 

did not get a t-shirt to prove it

So this video is making its rounds around my network of acquaintances: 

For those concerned about the health and well-being of the ship in question, it is being driven into a chop yard where it will eventually be reduced to razor blades, so the point is somewhat moot. 

I made a crack on the Book of Faces that I would be lying if I said I never attempted something like that at the Surface Warfare Officers School while I was there, and I suppose that is a comment worthy of a little explanation. 

Surface Warfare Officers School (or SWOS) is where up-and-coming junior officers in the Surface community of the United States Navy go to receive what education they cannot or have not received on their ships to eventually test for and earn their Surface Warfare Officer qualification, without which you will pretty much be booted from the community and, by extension, the Navy as a whole.  What used to be a six-month school immediately upon graduation of college, the Academy, or Officer Candidate School is now a one-month program generally attended about 18 months into your career; having heard… stories… of the six-month version, I can understand why this change was made. 

MayportHarborAt the time of my attendance, I was stationed in Mayport, FL onboard an FFG, or Guided Missile Frigate (a now-meaningless appellation, on account of the FFGs having their one-armed-bandit missile launchers removed some years ago).  Having pulled a ship into Pascagoula, MS, Ingleside, TX, Norfolk, VA, Pensacola, FL, San Diego, CA, Everett, WA, Pearl Harbor, HI, Guam, and Bahrain, I can say that Mayport is one of the easiest, if not the easiest, naval bases to pull into, as you can see to the right.  Basically you line up on the Saint Johns River channel, hang a left into the harbor… and then stop and wait for the tugs to push you up against one of the harbor walls.  No bridges, no wrecks, no oil derricks, and only the occasional traffic. 

That said, I also contend that FFGs are one of the easiest ships in the Navy’s fleet to park.  They are gas-turbine powered, which means their one, solitary screw always turns one direction – clockwise, when viewed from astern (speed and direction were controlled by variable pitch propeller blades).  Due to the oddities of hydrodynamics, this causes the stern of the frigate to “walk” to the starboard (right) side; when at flank (maximum) speeds, this “walk” could be as much as 4-5 degrees off from our intended direction of travel.  This can be a pain in the nether regions at times, but can also prove to be quite useful. 

On the other end of the ship, almost directly beneath the bridge, the FFGs mount a pair of retractable auxiliary propulsion units (APUs).  These electric, 350 HP motors can be dropped from the hull and pointed 360 degrees, and, when used by themselves alone, can sometimes push the ship up to 5 knots (a knot is roughly 1.15 miles per hour). 

So long as you are parking starboard-side-in, as we almost invariably requested, the bridge crew could use the combination of the stern walk, your rudder, and the APUs to simply drive the ship sideways and call it a day, even without the assistance of tugs.  My ship technically never parked without tugs on station, but we did, on occasion, practice parking without their actual assistance. 

Ok, lots of backstory; on to the probably-underwhelming actual story.  While JOs are at SWOS, we spend a lot of time on the ship-handling simulators at the school.  Newport does not have any functional ships homeported in it, so the instructor officers plop you down in front of three computer screens and put a headset on you, and you have to treat your computer like your helmsmen and tell it what you want it to do.  Unfortunately, the voice-recognition software and I never got along terribly well, and I had never conned a steam or multi-screw ship, so the experience was both educational and frustrating for me. 

We finished up one day’s training a good half an hour before the allotted time, and, as with so many things in the military, we were told that we would have to hang out in our training cubby until the end of class regardless, so was there anything we wanted to practice while we were there?  I clarified whether they actually wanted us to practice, or whether we could just mess around with the system and see what we could do, and was told the floor was open. 

So, I had my instructor load up an FFG headed into Mayport harbor.  And I parked it at flank speed.  You have to understand that once a ship goes into “sea and anchor stations”, meaning it is approaching a port, it is rare to order up a speed above 10ish knots (barring current/tidal oddities); speed is not your friend when you are trying to keep to narrow channels, avoid traffic, and so forth.  However, by the time I passed the Pelican Roost RV Park notated on the picture above, my little simulated FFG was doing about 30 knots.  I had to actually apply a little negative pitch to the screw to get the ship below 15 knots so I could drop the APUs (we were told, and the simulation echoed this, that dropping them above 15kts could result in catastrophic damage to them or the ship), but once they were down (around about the tug basin on the map above – the little inlet directly south of the northern tip of the harbor) and locked, I just twisted the ship 90 degrees off from its direction of motion, and balanced the APUs, screw, and rudder to walk (well, jog) us up against the western harbor wall.  By the time we got there, we were making a little under 3 knots – sideways – which was well within the simulation’s tolerances for docking (and well within reality’s tolerances, assuming you have the big docking fenders handy, though most COs prefer <2 knots).  

I gave the orders to tie up, which ended the simulation, and turned around…  to find not only the classmate I was paired with and my instructor, but almost all of the other instructors piled up behind me, watching over my shoulder.  Apparently no one had ever attempted to park in Mayport at flank before. 

I understand this little parking exercise of mine was the reason I got second place for “Overall Shiphandling at SWOS” for that class cycle; I never clarified whether it helped me get there or cost me first place, though. 

Unlike the folks in the video, though, my (simulated) ship was reusable after I parked it. 

i would like to thank the republican party

Regular readers of this weblog are probably wondering if I happened to start partaking of Washington State’s newest commercial enterprise while I am out here visiting my parents, on account of the title slapped on the top of this post, but I promise there is a perfectly reasonable, rational, and sober reason for me to have written it. 

As we all know, Our Glorious President auto-fellated on Tuesday night with an impressive* display of both skill and stamina, and the predicted talking point of, “Screw you guys and screw the Constitution, I’m going to do what I damned well want,” was front-and-center during his performance.  So, that evening and the following day, the Republican Party stood unified in their calls for President Barack Hussein Obama to honor his sworn oath, obey the Constitution, and operate within the express confines of the Executive Branch, right? 

I know this will come as a shock, but not so much:

“We heard the president say this should be a year of action and that is our goal. We join the president in this effort to make this a year of action,” GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers told reporters here.

Crap on a crutch people; Our Glorious President has been promising to close Gitmo since before he was elected, and in almost every State of the Union address he has given – including this one – so you really think this whole “year of action” bullshit is something you should just buck your supposed positions on and jump onboard with?  Yeah.  That will work out well. 

In fairness… 

The letter notes, “Of course, under our Constitution, most action requires the Congress and the President to work together.”

… which is kind of like the high school nerd passively telling the bully that the school rules prohibit the latter from beating up the former and stealing his lunch money… all while the latter is doing exactly that.  Hell, it is even worse than that, considering that the nerd is apparently working with the bully to beat up and rob the other social rejects in the high school. 

So the upshot of the Republican party voluntarily lying back and thinking of England?  My mother has decided to become a libertarian, or at least an independent, and start voting third-party (or, more accurately, second-party**).  I have to admit that is a relatively shiny silver lining. 

Here is to hoping that more people realize the futility of our current not-really-two-party system and find their own way to work around it. 

(* – If you are into that kind of thing, of course.) 

(** – The only difference between the Republican Party and the Democrat Party is velocity (and, arguably, style); they are both headed to the same destination in the end.) 

skeptical cat’s first interaction with snow

BlueSnow

Raleigh got somewhere around 4” of snow last night.  In fairness, this is Blue’s first time outside at all, much less when there is crazy frozen water on the ground. 

what i have learned of news through osmosis

You know, for being a supposed “constitutional scholar / teacher / professor / lawyer / whatever-the-hell-else-he-claimed”, Our Glorious President does not have a damned clue about what his job entails, or what limitations are imposed on it by the Constitution: 

"In this year of action, the President will seek out as many opportunities as possible to work with Congress in a bipartisan way. But when American jobs and livelihoods depend on getting something done, he will not wait for Congress," Pfeiffer said.

[…]

"President Obama has a pen and he has a phone, and he will use them to take executive action and enlist every American… in the project to restore opportunity for all," Pfeiffer said.

And lest you think this is just the off-the-reservation, exhorting-the-crowd campaign-donation-begging (… oh wait) from one solitary White House paper-pusher, this is becoming a theme:

Obama has pledged to act, saying, “We are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help that they need.”

"The president sees this as a year of action, to work with Congress where he can and to bypass Congress where necessary," White House press secretary Jay Carney told ABC News Sunday.

Allow me to speak plainly, Barry; you have neither the power nor the authority to “bypass Congress”.  Period.  If Congress has to be involved in a process – say passing a piece of legislation – you cannot simply… will… them out of the chain of events.  Unfortunately, the American people chose to elect you President, but note that word: “President”, not “Dictator”.  It would be tremendously helpful if you knew the difference and stuck to the job description of the former, not the latter. 

Here, let me help you out: go here, and scroll down to “Article II”

In similar news, we get this all-too-memorable news report

Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole wrote in a memo sent Thursday to federal prosecutors that it will not be a priority to block landmark marijuana-legalization laws in the two states. The federal government also will not make it a priority to close down recreational marijuana stores, so long as the stores abide by state regulations, according to the memo.

In other words, the second-in-command of the federal agency responsible for enforcing the laws of the United States government just arbitrarily and single-handedly stated that it would not enforce the laws of the United States government.  In a just world, the Attorney General would have fired this man about five minutes later, issued a formal retraction, and done his damned job or resigned, but given that Eric Holder is still occupying that particular position, this is obviously not a just world. 

I will, however, disagree with Dr. Milton Wolf

Selective enforcement of the law is the first sign of tyranny. A government empowered to determine arbitrarily who may operate outside the rule of law invariably embraces favoritism as friends, allies and those with the best-funded lobbyists are rewarded. Favoritism inevitably leads to corruption, and corruption invites extortion. Ultimately, the rule of law ceases to exist in any recognizable form, and what is left is tyranny.

Selective enforcement is not the first sign of tyranny; it is just one of many symptoms of creeping tyranny.  I stand by what I said last year; given that Our Glorious President has not been rightly slapped down by Congress for overstepping his powers, given that the deputy Attorney General was not fired, and given that we have a disturbing history of re-electing the same morons in Congress over and over and over again who enable this gos-se, we are getting exactly the government we want. 

And when the President, deputy Attorney General, and, by extension, the Attorney General have all stated that they are going to ignore existing federal laws, how can you be surprised at news articles like this:  Connecticut recently registered 50,000 “assault weapons” and 40,000 “large capacity magazines”.  Ignore, for a second, the complete and utter stupidity of the arbitrarily-defined concept of “assault weapons”, ignore that the magazines being banned are, in fact and truth, normal-capacity magazines in the overwhelming number of cases, and ignore that registration of firearms never ends well for their owners; instead, just pay attention to the numbers.  By all definitions I am aware of (including Connecticut’s), an “assault weapon” involves a removable magazine.  Do the morons in Hartford really believe that 10,000 “assault weapon” owners somehow do not have magazines for their firearms?  And that the remaining 40,000 “assault weapon” owners only have one, single, solitary magazine for them?  And this is all without considering the “large capacity magazines” that are made for handguns… 

Are Connecticut politicians that stupid?  Well, they are politicians, I suppose. 

ThoreauDisobeyApparently the last speculative accounting of “high capacity magazines” and “assault weapons” in the state of Connecticut numbered them in the “tens of millions” and somewhere around 400,000, respectively.  To describe what is going on in the now-atrociously-mis-nicknamed “Constitution State” as “massive” civil disobedience would be something of a massive understatement. 

So what is the politicians’ solution to their employers informing them exactly what those employers think of the politicians’ idiotic laws?  Why, the state is going to offer an “amnesty” period for people to continue registering their firearms.  *headdesk*  While there may be one or two folks who got their paperwork in an hour late at the post office, I can guarantee you that the overwhelming majority of people who did not register then are not going to register now. 

We have a President – a representative sworn to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States” – saying, unequivocally, that he will ignore that document whenever he finds its restrictions inconvenient.  We have the deputy Attorney General – a man charged with upholding federal laws – telling his subordinates that they should instead ignore those federal laws.  And those are just the most-recent, big-ticket examples. 

Is it any great wonder that, with examples like those, the American people have decided that now is as good a time as any to start disobeying unjust laws?  Here is to hoping that more people find their own way to freedom

… *sigh*  There is a reason… actually, a lot reasons why I do not read news sites or newspapers or even watch the news on TV.  These three stories are simply things I stumbled across as my parents told me about news they had read recently and while I caught up on my comics reading.  And, no, I will not be watching Our Glorious President pontificate tomorrow on how allowing him to transition his Presidency to a Dictatorship-in-Everything-But-Name is better for everyone and especially him.  While that is in fact one of the very few things a President is supposed to do, quite frankly I have more important things to do… like getting my Torchlight 2 Outlander up to level 50. 

(“Disobey” graphic borrowed from Jack Daws.) 

mixed blessings

If your job application system requires me to upload my resume, and then type my resume into your specific text fields all over again, your job application system sucks.  I understand that recruiters and HR weenies want applicants’ information to be in an easily-searchable, standardized format, but if that is really the case, stop wasting everyone’s time and internet bandwidth with actual resumes. 

There has not been a great deal of movement on the “job hunt” side of things, but, honestly, I think that is just as well.  There is not a job in the world that I could have gotten in the past few months that would have allowed me to take off a month to help my father through his cancer treatments and recovery, so being unemployed played out fairly well this time around. 

As for my father’s recovery, I have learned a few things.  First, do not get cancer.  Second, if you do get cancer, do not get throat cancer.  Third, “end of treatment” is not synonymous with “will start feeling better”.  Dad’s last chemo was a week ago Tuesday and his last radiation treatment was a week ago yesterday; today might be the first day where he is not in worse condition than the previous day… but the day is not over yet.  The thing with radiation / chemotherapy treatment is that the doctors and technicians are doing their damnest to not quite kill you, and while that is bad enough, your cells do not start recovering just because they stop getting attacked.  The technicians told my parents that each individual radiation treatment has about a ten day recovery window, which means your very last treatment has ten (or seven, if you take off for weekends like they did) other treatments stacked up behind it, still wearing off. 

On the one hand, it is kind of impressive how carefully the dosages have been calibrated to do the maximum amount of damage to the cancer cells, but still not manage to kill off the host.  On the other hand, it is somewhat depressing to see your father in worse condition five days after his last treatment than when you arrived in the middle of his treatment regimen. 

Could be worse… they could have not caught the cancer until the next few months, in which case, from what I understand, treatment would have been pointless. 

DPMSAR10MagM1AMagOn a lighter note, now that I have had a chance to catch up on the coverage of SHOT Show 2014 out there, I have this question:  can anyone confirm whether or not the new Mossberg MVP line of rifles chambered in 7.62x51mm / .308 Winchester actually take normal M1A/M14 magazines?  All of the documentation on the rifle indicates it will happily take PMAG / DPMS AR-10 magazines, but those all have the nice notch on the left side of the magazine and are designed for straight insertion into the magwell.  However, there is the occasional article that indicates the rifle will also accept M14/M1A magazines, which instead have the notch on the front of the box, a ledge on the back, and are meant for rock-and-lock insertion. 

I can kind of visualize how the magazine release system could accommodate both magazines, but the only pictures I have seen of the magwell (2 and 3 in the gallery here) leave some questions unanswered. 

Why is this important?  Well, I already have an M1A, so an affordable bolt-action that feeds from the pile of magazines I also already have?  That screams “Boomershoot rifle” to me.  But with the next Boomershoot coming up on 02MAY14, the .308 variant of the MVP I want not being released yet, and me still being unemployed, I think it is immaterial for this year’s event. 

And just so I do not forget it when I get around to acquiring a steady stream of income again, I will probably mount one of these on top of the MVP if it turns out it can accept M1A magazines.  I was very impressed with the Nikon optic Better Half used at our Appleseed, and this one has a parallax adjuster, which is my only real complaint regarding their .22 model.  Combined with a 4-16x range of magnification, a bullet-drop compensating reticle calibrated out to 800 yards on the 167 grain .308 round, and a Picatinny mount with a built-in 20MOA slope?  Again, it is almost like they built it exactly for what I wanted.  Sure, it is no IOR Valada, but it costs a quarter as much. 

Anywise, time to go back to enjoying the Pacific Northwet… where it is so damp that no only does moss grow on lichen, moss also grows on pavement.  It is almost a driving hazard… 

(Images borrowed from Brownells.com.) 



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