Friday, February 25, 2011

STS-133 Discovery's Final Flight

Discovery is the oldest Shuttle in the fleet, and this marks it's 39th and last flight. Up until now, it's spent 351 days in space, made 5,628 orbits, traveled 142,917,535 miles, and carried 246 crew personnel.
It docked once with the MIR, and 11 times before with the ISS, and was the Shuttle that originally deployed the Hubble Space Telescope.
I've never seen a Shuttle launch, but I've heard it on its way to land at Edwards AFB many times.
If you've never been at a rocket launch, it's something that film and video just can't capture. It's like the difference between seeing a Top Fuel dragster on TV, and being there in person, but much more intense. It's one of those experiences that you feel as much as you hear. For a long time, until I'd actually been to a launch, and I'm up to 16 launches now, I thought the 'crackling' noise you hear from the engines was just the microphones of the recording equipment being overloaded, but it's not. It's one loooong controlled explosion, like billions of firecrackers going off continuously until the rocket is far enough away that the sound just fades out. Truly amazing, and as somebody said once, "It makes you wonder where they find bolts strong enough to hold it all together!".

This is NOT the final Shuttle flight, however. There's one more *funded* mission on the books, STS-134, the last flight of Endeavour. It's been pushed back several times, and is now scheduled NET 19 April 2011. This is considered to be the last "official" Shuttle flight. The next flight, STS-135 would be the last flight of Atlantis, but AFAIK, it hasn't been funded. It's currently being prepped as STS-335, which would be a "Launch On Need" rescue mission for Endeavour, and the NASA managers have told their teams it will fly "regardless" of funding on what they call the "Continuing Resolution".
So, we'll have a Manned Space Program at least until April, and possibly through July.
After that, we're just cargo again, depending on the Russian Space Agency to deliver us to the ISS.
Yes, it's very sad.

God speed, Discovery.......

Thursday, February 24, 2011

You Might Be A Ham If....

With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy.
And yes, I'm guilty of more of these than I care to admit.

1. You have bought black electrical tape in ten packs.

2. You have stripped wire with your teeth.

3. You have told your child, "One day, all this will be yours”, and they didn't respond at all.

4. You would rather help another Ham friend hook up new equipment, or put up a new tower, than to mow your own lawn.

5. You have grabbed the wrong end of a hot soldering iron.

6. You have gotten an RF burn from your own antenna.

7. You have given out RST reports while you were on the telephone.

8. When the microphones or visual aids at a meeting did not work, you rushed up to the front to fix them.

9. You have told the XYL, when she noticed a new rig in the shack, "Why,that's been there for years!”.

10. You have set your watch to UTC only.

11. You have had to patch your roof after an antenna project fell onto it.

12. You have put a GPS tracker in the XYL's car or on the riding mower, just so you could watch it on APRS.

13. You have tapped out "CQ" or "HI" on the car horn in Morse Code to another Ham.

14. Your teenager has refused to ride in your car because it looks like a porcupine.

15. You know the Latitude, Longitude, and Elevation of your home QTH.

16. You have gone into the local Radio Shack store, and the store clerk has asked you where something is and how it works.

17. You have answered the telephone with your call sign, and then finished the conversation with "73" and your call sign.

18. You have looked for antennas, radios, and Morse Code in movies and television shows.

19. When you look at anything made of wire or metal tubing, you wonder if it could be used as an antenna.

20. Your call sign is printed on one or more of your hats, T-shirts, jackets, or other garments.

21. You regularly carry one or more tools in your pockets at any given time.

22. When any kinds of batteries go on sale, you get really excited.

23. When you look at a barbecue grill, it creates ideas about ground plane antennas or microwave reflectors.

24. You have designated all your friends as Hams or Non-Hams.

25. You have referred to your Ham friends by their call sign suffixes instead of their real names.

26. You have intentionally confused Non-Hams by telling them that the only things you talk about on the air are pork products.

27. You have intentionally scared Non-Hams with the word "RADIATION"!

28. You have looked at telephone poles and power line towers as potential antenna supports.

29. You have thought you were still hearing CW, SSB, or SSTV tones, even when your radios were off.

30. Your Go-Bag has more clothes in it than your dresser does.

31. You have a SKYWARN, RACES, ARES, ARRL, or local radio club sticker on your back window.

32. Your significant other sits in the back seat, and your radios ride in the front.

33. Your neighbors wonder if you are a Narc, a Spy, or a Federal Agent.

34. The cops pull you over because they want to see the inside of your car.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"As Much As I Hate The Recent Developments In...."

Oh, just HAVE to go check out the comments to a post over at Say Uncle's place.
Best laugh I've had in weeks.
H/T to Breda

Have You Seen Me?

Saw this over my buddy Cap'n Bob's place, and just had to share it.
Kinda says it all, doesn't it?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Silver Bullets, Anyone?

My wife and I started watching "The Wolfman", the 2010 remake of the Lon Chaney classic. Made in 2010, it stars Anthony Hopkins, Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, and Hugo Weaving. She could only watch about 15~20 minutes or so of it, up to when Lawrence goes to the Gypsy camp, and then it got too gory for her, so we turned it off.
But it started me thinking of a project I had considered many years ago when I was learning the basics about reloading from my best buddy Joe.
We joked about making real silver bullets, so me being the 'egghead' of our hot rod, shooting, and general carousing crowd, I started looking into it. When I found out that silver melts at 1760*F, compared to 620*F for lead, we kinda gave it up. I also found out from some jewelery-making girlfriends that silver also shrinks quite a bit when it cools, which would make for a loose-fitting bullet.
Back to the present......
Since we didn't have the Internet back then, I punched "silver bullet" into my favorite search engine, and out popped quite a few hits, along with a recommendation to search for "silver ammunition".
Paydirt! Seems I'm not alone in my curiosity.
The best one I found, by far, are the "Silver Bullet" pages on Patricia Briggs' website. One of the more interesting observations made, is that since it's not exactly easy to cast a a properly sized silver bullet, why not just put silver bits and pieces into a shotshell, and use that? And lo-and-behold, the jewelry people already sell "BB size" silver spheres!
So, whether you want to make up some werewolf killin' shotshells, or go to the trouble of actually casting your own silver bullets, it looks doable.
Now I just have to convince my wife that I need to buy some BB-sized silver pellets.
Maybe I can tell her I decided to start doing some "jewelry making" as a new hobby......

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Am A Radioman

After having a few visitors ask me about the "UMSC" patch on the side of the blog, I explained that although I know how to shoot fairly well, my primary "job" would be as a Radioman. I could have said Signalman, or, actually "Signaller" these days, but I'm rusty on my flags, and ALDIS lights aren't very stealthy without the proper filters.
So, I'll elect to call myself a "Radioman", even though I'm pretty good with most other aspects of communications using a variety of methods, both wired and wireless.
I started looking for The Signalman's Creed, or The Radioman's Creed, but couldn't find anything even remotely suitable.
So I "wrote" my own, which I'll present here to all my Radioman brothers out there to use.
With all due apologies, and the greatest respect to Major General William H. Rupertus, I present "The Radioman's Creed".

I Am A Radioman

This is my radio. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My radio is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My radio, without me, is useless. Without my radio, I am useless. I must tune my antenna true. I must broadcast stealthier than my enemy who is trying to intercept my signals. I must DF him before he DF's me. I will...

My radio and myself know that what counts in this war is not the signal we send, the noise of our keyer, nor the smoke we do not make. We know that it is the traffic that counts. We will send traffic...

My radio is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its tuning and its antenna. I will ever guard it against the ravages of weather and damage as I will ever guard my legs, my arms, my eyes and my heart against damage. I will keep my radio clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will...

Before God, I swear this creed. My radio and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life. So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but peace!

DF= "Direction Finding"

Long Beach Sending Lay Off Notices to ONE THOUSAND School Employees......

Good grief, how many do they have?
The local newspaper says it will be "777.5" (HALF a teacher??), but my inside source says it will be more like one thousand, including teachers and "other" positions.
Considering it can take a WEEK to get some light bulbs or fluorescent lamps changed, I wonder how many union "jobs" will be cut?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

To any and all female readers of this little blog.

It's also my first wedding anniversary to the wonderful gal I married after being divorced and on my own for 16 years.

Took a long time to find her, but she's a keeper! something NICE for your wife or girlfriend today, please?
It's not being a wimp, a wussy, or showing you're pwocked.
It's called being a gentleman, an appellation that really used to mean something in the old days.
I know so because I read it in a Jeff Cooper book, OK?
Flowers, candy, a card, whatever. Just do something for her that you wouldn't ordinarily do, even if it's the dishes, a load of laundry, or vacuuming the house.
Trust me, she'll appreciate it!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Belt Sander Racing!!

Yeah, I know it's not a "real" sport, but then I've always told people "If it doesn't have wheels or wings, and at least ONE motor, I 'aint interested".
Lots more info here.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Arrrrgh....Brain Lock.......

Ever have one of those times when you know what you want to say, and can't figure out how to say it?
Yep, that's me tonight. I volunteered to give a presentation on "Software Defined Radio" for my Amateur Radio club on the 18th, and although I have all my "Charts and Graphs" made up, I'm kinda stuck coming up with the verbage to go along with them. I know the subject very well, and I even gave my YF an off-the-cuff presentation on it the other night, but just can't seem to get those same words to flow out through the keyboard. I thought back about what I told her and generated an outline, but now I'm kicking myself I didn't have my little digital recorder running.
Oh, well....I still have 9 days to finish writing it, so maybe tomorrow I'll run my spiel past the dogs with the recorder running and transcribe it later....

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cabela's IK-227687 Gun Vise

Well, I finally had the time today to a) clean both of my Marlin rifles, and b) use the Cabela's Gun Vise I bought a few months ago.
I don't mind just plunking my pistols down on a bench top when I clean them, but cleaning a long gun can get unwieldy when it comes to pushing the patch and bush through the barrel, so it's better to support them some way.
Enter my Cabela's IK-227687 Gun Vise. The vise is made from some kind of plastic, has a padded clamp on one end, a movable support in the center, and V-type holder on the far end. It has lots of molded-in nooks and crannies to store small parts, and so far appears to be solvent-resistant. It normally goes for $49.99, but the night I bought it it was on sale, so I paid $39.95 for it.
Seeing as today was gorgeous outside (sorry, people back East!)I took all my stuff outside, and clamped my Marlin 336 in it to check the fit. It fits great, so then I took the rifle back out, and removed the lever, bolt, and ejector spring so I could get my cleaning rod down the bore. Yes, I pulled the scope off so it wouldn't get sprayed with Hoppe's N0. 9!
Since I didn't have a "30 cal" cleaning rod, I started to use my shotgun rod. OOOPS! It doesn't fit down the bore! The I remembered I bought a "30 cal" Hoppe's BoreSnake a couple of weeks ago, so I got that out. So much for using the gun vise on my 336! Now maybe I'm old fashioned, but I like to run a soaked patch down the bore, let it sit a while, then push a bronze brush down the bore, followed by another soaked patch. I repeat this until the patch comes out clean. Using the BoreSnake sure is fast, though, and until I get a proper sized rod, I guess it'll have to do. I soaked the first 6" inches or so with No.9, and pulled the snake through 5 or 6 times, then put the 336 together, wiped it down with a "Barricade" cloth, and put it back in the gun case. It will be interesting to see if the patch/brush combination reveals any crud left in the bore from using the snake.
Cleaning my Marlin 1894CB in 357 went fine using the "shotgun sized" rod while the rifle was clamped in the gun vise.
All in all, I think this thing is a worthwhile investment, especially considering I bought it on sale. It has numerous warnings to NOT use it for a shooting rest, but it comes in handy for resting the rifle in while cleaning it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Gun Cleaning Day

Well, I managed to get all three of the pistols swabbed, scrubbed, cleaned, lubed, and did my general after-shooting check out.
Glad I did, because I found some little flecks of.....RUST.....on the case-hardened parts of the wife's revolver.
They cleaned right off with just a coarse shop towel and some oil, but it's the first time I've ever seen any signs of rust on any of my guns.
Disgusting stuff, rust, and I had it hammered into me years ago that signs of rust were signs of neglect.
Maybe they were "tears of neglect" from the poor gun because my wife hasn't gone to the range with me lately, and the S&W TRR8 is basically her gun.
The good news is that one of her friends dropped by last night, and she's very interested in going to the range with us.
Time to get out my "NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor" hat, and teach her all the things one needs to know before going to the range for the first time.
Sunday will be "Rifle Cleaning Day", and I'll take some pix when I'm using my new Cabela's gun vise, and do a mini-review of it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ahhhhh.....An Afternoon at the Range

Had a very relaxing three hours at the range today with my son. I haven't been there in about six months, and I was NOT up to my usual form! I wasn't all-over-the-place-off-the-paper bad, but not shooting at anywhere near what I'm capable of. We took my Sig P226 in 40S&W, and my Kimber Custom TLE-II 1911.
And we took a Cabela's "Dry Box" box full of ammo, a stack of "Official 25 Yd Slow Fire Pistol" targets, and a several packs of Shoot-N-C stick-on targets.
The thing that I found most interesting, was that for not having shot in so long, I was better with my Sig than my Kimber.
A LOT better!
I've always liked the way the Sig fits my hand, the way it's balanced, the grips, etc, and since I hadn't fired it in over a year, it's what I started off with. Target at 10 yards, full magazine, all in the black.
Then while my son was loading mags for his turn with the Sig, I transitioned to my Kimber.
Wow, out of 8 shots, only 4 were in the black, with the rest pretty close, but a real eye-opener for me!
OK, grab another mag, concentrate a bit more, relax, surprise trigger break, and I started to get them all in the black again. By the third or fourth magazine, I realized my grip wasn't correct, I was flinching a bit, and wasn't "feeling" how the trigger reset, all contributing to my poor (for me) performance.
My son was doing very well with the Sig, considering it was the first time he'd ever fired one. He picked up the Kimber and ran a mag through it, and was all over the place! He stayed on the target, but the recoil surprised him, and his second shot was typical 45 ACP, "Up And To The Left". After I coached him a bit about the proper grip and stance, he got into the rhythm, and was nailing the target 8-ring or better.
We had a great time just goofing off, honing our skills, talking with the staff at the range, and learning a few things.
He learned he really does prefer the Sig over a 1911, and is planning on buying one with his income tax refund.
I learned I have to get to the range at least once a month!
All in all, a great day.
Friday will be cleaning day here, and since I'm scheduling a whole day, I'll clean both pistols, my wife's 357 revolver, and both my Marlin rifles. I'll take some pictures using my "Cabela's Gun Vise, IK-227687" and write a short review about it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Going to the Range Thursday

My son wants to buy his first pistol, and has his eye on a Sig P226. Since Dear Old Dad owns one, we're headed out to the range so he can see if he likes it.
I'd prefer he learn to use a 1911, and I have a brand-new Kimber Eclipse Custom II that I bought a couple of years ago with him in mind, but he's got his heart set on the Sig, I think.
Me? I'll be dragging along my trusty old Kimber Custom TLE II. Over 5,000 rounds through it, and I'll I've ever done is clean it, and put some Esmeralda grips on it when it was new. I recently replaced the recoil spring, and did a full "detail strip and clean", but otherwise that pistol is like the Energizer Bunny.

Knock-Out Video from Alvie Over at "The Cliffs Of Insanity"

You GOTTA go see this.
Alvie should get an award for this video.

College Student Explains Obama's Budget "Cuts"

This is pretty good, and explains in a very visual manner about the budget "cuts" Teh One wants to make.

YouTube's embedding code isn't working right now, so here's a link.
I'll check later and edit "As Required".

Budget Cuts

Meet Luna!

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