Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Show Tonight on the Military Channel..."Triggers"

And I've already got our DVR set to record it.

Looks to be pretty good from the previews. Cam & Company were talking about it last night on the Sirius Patriot Channel, and it's one show I don't want to miss!

Military Channel: Triggers

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Super 8", "Frequency", and Ham Radio

We just finished watching "Super 8" tonight, and there's a town meeting scene in it where an old guy tells the Sheriff that there's been a lot of unusual interference caused by military chatter on his Ham Radio. The Sheriff has everybody bring any and all receivers they own in, and they start monitoring all the frequencies the old Ham gave them. In one scene they show a remarkably well preserved Heathkit Seneca, and they all listen to the Air Force talk about "Operation Walking Distance".
Only one problem.....the Seneca is a TRANSMITTER.
In "Frequency", the character played by James Caviezel talks to his dead father on HF (short-wave) using a Heathkit SB-301.
Only one problem....the SB-301 is a RECEIVER.
Now when my son and I saw "Frequency", I spotted it right away and mentioned it to him, and he laughed and said "Dad, only YOU would spot that!".
Tonight when I told my wife the Seneca was a transmitter, she laughed and said "Jim, only YOU would know that!".
Yeah, but if I know it, there's gotta be other people who know it.
Oh, well....what can we expect from Hollyweird.....

Home Owner Stuff.....

And yes, being in our own home, and NOT underwater with the mortgage, is one of the things we gave thanks for this year.
Anywhoo...We repainted the bathroom earlier this year, and the paint just hasn't been holding up. We've had some peeling, and other spots have turned 'grainy' on us. I had to pull the plastic grille off the bathroom ceiling exhaust fan today to clean it, and as long as I had it off, I dropped the motor down to clean it, too.
Then I decided to check how #1 step-son vented it when he installed it a few years ago, and found out it's NOT properly vented.
He just mounted the motor box in the ceiling, and let it vent into the attic........
Double DUH!
He has a tendency to not do things the right way, and this time it's causing some problems. The moist air from the bathroom just goes into the attic, and raises the humidity to the point that the 'button board' (we have plaster walls and ceilings) has absorbed it. It's not "dripping wet", or even "wet" that I could tell or feel, but all that hot, humid air from 4 people taking showers can't be doing any good up there! I don't think it's a problem in the summer time, as we have both a wind-turbine and a powered ventilator on the roof to draw the hot air out, and the moisture along with it. But in the winter time, the powered ventilator is shut off, and the moist air from the bathroom just collects up there.
NOT good!
So, I went to the local Big Box home improvement place, and bought the 3.25"x10" to 6" round transition that screws on to the motor box, 8' of 6" flex duct, and an outlet to go on the side of the house.
Tomorrow I'll mark the stucco and start making the hole to mount the outlet into, and then I'll have to drop the motor box, screw the transition on, and run the flex hose to the outlet. That should vent the moist air to the outside, and after the attic dries back out, we can repaint the bathroom.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I realized I should be a lot more upbeat today than the previous post implied.
I've had a great life so far, and I'm very thankful to still be here after some of the places I've been, things I've seen, and stunts I've pulled.
I'm healthy, happily married, gainfully employed, and have some wonderful friends.
So Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving 2022

One of my friends sent me this, and despite getting almost 200 ( ! ) emails a day, I haven't seen it before.

So, before you sit down on Thursday to give thanks, keep this little story in mind. Kind of a Twilight Zone preview of "First They Came....."

And Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. May God bless you, and keep you safe in the times ahead.

"Winston, come into the dining room, it's time to eat," Julia yelled to her husband.
"In a minute, honey, it's a tie score," he answered.
Actually Winston wasn't very interested in the traditional holiday football game between Detroit and Washington .
Ever since the government passed the Civility in Sports Statute of 2017, outlawing tackle football for its "unseemly violence" and the "bad example it sets for the rest of the world", Winston was far less of a football fan than he used to be.

Two-hand touch wasn't nearly as exciting.Yet it wasn't the game that Winston was uninterested in.

It was more the thought of eating another Tofu Turkey . Even though it was the best type of VeggieMeat available after the government revised the American Anti-Obesity Act of 2018, adding fowl to the list of federally-forbidden foods, (which already included potatoes, cranberry sauce, and mincemeat pie), it wasn't anything like real turkey.

And ever since the government officially changed the name of "Thanksgiving Day" to "A National Day of Atonement" in 2020, to officially acknowledge the Pilgrims' historically brutal treatment of Native Americans, the holiday had lost a lot of its luster.

Eating in the dining room was also a bit daunting. The unearthly gleam of government-mandated fluorescent light bulbs made the Tofu Turkey look even weirder than it actually was, and the room was always cold.

Ever since Congress passed the Power Conservation Act of 2016, mandating all thermostats - which were monitored and controlled by the electric company - be kept at 68 degrees, every room on the north side of the house was barely tolerable throughout the entire winter.

Still, it was good getting together with family. Or at least most of the family.

Winston missed his mother, who passed on in October, when she had used up her legal allotment of life-saving medical treatment.

He had had many heated conversations with the Regional Health Consortium, spawned when the private insurance market finally went bankrupt, and everyone was forced into the government health care program.

And though he demanded she be kept on her treatment, it was a futile effort.

"The RHC's resources are limited", explained the government bureaucrat Winston spoke with on the phone. "Your mother received all the benefits to which she was entitled. I'm sorry for your loss."

Ed couldn't make it either. He had forgotten to plug in his electric car last night, the only kind available after the Anti-Fossil Fuel Bill of 2021 outlawed the use of the combustion engines - for everyone but government officials.

The fifty mile round trip was about ten miles too far, and Ed didn't want to spend a frosty night on the road somewhere between here and there.

Thankfully, Winston's brother, John, and his wife were flying in.

Winston made sure that the dining room chairs had extra cushions for the occasion.

No one complained more than John about the pain of sitting down so soon after the government-mandated cavity searches at airports, which severely aggravated his hemorrhoids.

Ever since a terrorist successfully smuggled a cavity bomb onto a jetliner, the TSA told Americans the added "inconvenience" was an "absolute necessity" in order to stay "one step ahead of the terrorists."

Winston's own body had grown accustomed to such probing ever since the government expanded their scope to just about anywhere a crowd gathered, via Anti-Profiling Act of 2022.

That law made it a crime to single out any group or individual for "unequal scrutiny," even when probable cause was involved.

Thus, cavity searches at malls, train stations, bus depots, etc., etc., had become almost routine.


The Supreme Court is reviewing the statute, but most Americans expect a Court composed of six progressives and three conservatives to leave the law intact.

"A living Constitution is extremely flexible", said the Court's eldest member, Elena Kagan. " Europe has had laws like this one for years. We should learn from their example", she added.

Winston's thoughts turned to his own children. He got along fairly well with his 12-year-old daughter, Brittany, mostly because she ignored him. Winston had long ago surrendered to the idea that she could text anyone at any time, even during Atonement Dinner.

Their only real confrontation had occurred when he limited her to 50,000 texts a month, explaining that was all he could afford.

She whined for a week, but got over it.

His 16-year-old son, Jason, was another matter altogether. Perhaps it was the constant bombarding he got in public school that global warming, the bird flu, terrorism, or any of a number of other calamities were "just around the corner", but Jason had developed a kind of nihilistic attitude that ranged between simmering surliness and outright hostility.

It didn't help that Jason had reported his father to the police for smoking a cigarette in the house, an act made criminal by the Smoking Control Statute of 2018, which outlawed smoking anywhere within 500 feet of another human being.

Winston paid the $5,000 fine, which might have been considered excessive before the American dollar became virtually worthless as a result of QE13.

The latest round of quantitative easing the federal government initiated was, once again, to "spur economic growth."

This time, they promised to push unemployment below its years-long rate of 18%, but Winston was not particularly hopeful.

Yet the family had a lot for which to be thankful, Winston thought, before remembering it was a Day of Atonement.

At least, he had his memories.

He felt a twinge of sadness when he realized his children would never know what life was like in the Good Old Days, long before government promises to make life "fair for everyone" realized their full potential.

Winston, like so many of his fellow Americans, never realized how much things could change when they didn't happen all at once, but little by little, so people could get used to them.

He wondered what might have happened if the public had stood up while there was still time, maybe back around 201
1, when all the real nonsense began.

"Maybe we wouldn't be where we are today if we'd just said 'enough is enough' when we had the chance," he thought.

Maybe so, Winston. Maybe so.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Three Days to Straighten These Clowns Out...

Saw this over at Steven's place, and just had to share it.
Watch and enjoy....

50* and Raining...I'm Playing RADIO All Day!

And working on the antenna article I've been promising.
Got a new headset/mic last week from Arlan Communications. These have to be the MOST comfortable cans I've ever worn! The gel-filled earcups are a joy, and seal any sound9 leaks around my glasses, and the optional cotton cloth covers will wick away any sweat for those times this summer when it's hot here in the shack. When I first ordered them I'd forgotten that I need a stereo set so I can make use of the binaural output of my Flex 5000A, so I had to send them back to be reworked. The set they sell that does stereo has a one-piece boom for the microphone, and I like the "wire mount" ones as I've found them to be more durable. Since they no longer make the set I wanted in stereo with the wire mount (RS22CF), they had to make up a custom set for me.
These things aren't cheap, but the cost less than the David Clark headset/mics I've been using( and having to modify), and are much more comfy to wear.
Back to radio.....

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Few Pictures from The Edwards AFB Museum

I didn't take my "real" camera with me as I didn't know if they'd allow it on the base without some kind of special permission. Seeing as it took us 30 minutes to clear the main gate with our vehicles, it probably wouldn't have been allowed.
BTW...I thanked all the young 'uns doing guard duty, and they all said "You're welcome"!
Some of the pictures were taken at "Century Circle", which is a little park outside the West gate where we waited for our escort. The others were taken outside the museum where they have a small static exhibit of various aircraft. I didn't try to take any pictures inside, as I was too awed at the items in the museum, and just wanted to soak up the experience rather than trying to get some decent pictures with my cellphone camera.
They're taking donations to get a much larger building to house the incredible array of Really Neat Stuff they have in storage, so I dropped $20 into the donation box.
I bought some tee shirts and a nice print called "The Golden Age Of Flight Test" which is numbered and signed by the artist, and six of the test pilots who helped make all this happen.
Enjoy the slide show, meager as it is, and you can learn more about the museum here.
Air Force Flight Test Center Museum

For more information on SR-71A #61-7955, go to SR-71 Online.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

High-Speed *Imaging* Seminar

Well....turns out this seminar covers a whole lot more ground than I was told.
You know that great footage you see on TV showing a bullet coming out of the barrel at, oh, 5000 frames-per-second?
HAH! That stuff is downright SLOW compared to what I saw today, and we're just getting started!
Some of the systems on display here are easily capable of doing ONE-HUNDRED THOUSAND frames-per-second. We set one up and watched a strobe tube fire, and then watched the images. From the initial trigger pulse, to the gas starting to ionize, to the initiation of the main discharge, and this thing didn't even break a sweat.
We also have systems on display here that can do well over ONE MILLION frames-per-second, and one of the companies presenting here has a system that can do ONE BILLION fps!
Astounding stuff, that was "undreamable" just a few short years ago.
And of course, we had footage of APFSDS projectiles coming out of the barrel, the sabot petals peeling back, and the round hitting the target.
And the images are so clear you can read the information printed on the round as it travels downrange.
Kinda makes the 400 fps Milliken camera I brought with me look like a real antique! is still unsurpassed for certain applications, and ours is one of them. We simply don't need the ability to record at a frame rate that's high enough to watch a block of TNT detonate, and accurate color rendition, from a well understood media, is essential for our application.
Still, it's absolutely staggering what these imaging system can do.

And as a preview of what we're going to do Thursday after class concludes, I heard several sonic booms today while I was outside during lunch.

ba-BOOM.....Edwards AFB is only about 20 miles from here, and from the looks of the contrails up there today, our flyboys were out playing.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

High-Speed Camera Seminar Next Week

They popped this on me Thursday morning. The company that services our D.B. Milliken High-Speed film cameras is having a training seminar next week up in Lancaster, CA, and I get to go.
These cameras are mechanical marvels....400 frames-per-second of pin-registered 16mm color film, fully self-contained, except for the lens. I've seen them apart on the bench a few times, and was really impressed with how well they're made.
We have 10 of them running during the launch. Four of them are in two separate blast-proof housings made of 3/8" armor plate covered with ablative coatings, and have a 6" diameter double-pane borosilicate glass window. These are located about six feet from the edge of the flame bucket, and really get hammered during a launch. The windows usually get pitted, broken, melted, or "all of the above", but we have had times where the windows came out unscathed.
Three more are located in an enclosure about thirty feet away, mounted at different angles of elevation. They catch the launch vehicle once it comes up out of the flame bucket and the nozzles start to gimble.
The remainder are located up on the hangar roof and catch the view from a different perspective.
Our partners who build the launch vehicle can tell a lot of things from the flame color, and how the nozzles move during ascent, but that's not my area of expertise. Since I'm in "Operations Support", helping the Range Operations Team includes work with the Photo-Optics guys who document the entire launch process, from integrating the payload, to the launch vehicle going out of sight after liftoff.
It should be an interesting class/seminar, as I enjoy working on this kind of stuff.
And the BEST part is that after we "graduate" Thursday morning, we get a private tour of the Edwards Flight Test Facility!
Should be "just a little" fun to see things that the public doesn't normally get to see.
The embedded video is shot from these cameras, and is a montage of the various views. I think the launch was for the XM-3 mission, or at least that's where I remember the music during that footage.
This video looks like it was ripped from the souvenir "Mission Highlights" DVD that we make for every mission.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Thank you all for serving.
May God bless you and keep you close to Him.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Range Day!

Always good to spend some time at the range!
We had a ball today shooting my Marlin 336/30-30, my son's Savage 17HMR, my "Zombie Zapper MkI", and my son's step-dad's Browning 300 Winchester Magnum.
We also went through about 50 rounds each with our pistols, but that's not why we went.
I finally have a decent bench rest, so I was able to check the zero on my Marlin. Turns out I had it just about spot-on! The picture of the black target was from the first few rounds I fired at 50 yards, and I was pretty happy with it. The picture of the "Shoot-N-See" target was what I fired at 100 yards. I would have liked a closer grouping, but this was around 2pm, and the wind was blowing cross-range pretty hard, about 10~15MPH according to one of the guys there who had a little anemometer. He was shooting a 22-250, and complaining how he was "all over the place" at 100 yards. I looked at his target, and he had around 10 shot is a 2~2-1/2" group! And for the first time, I was also able to hit the steel targets 100% of the time. I think they're about 10" in diameter, and they were at 102 yards, according to my little Bushnell laser rangefinder.
Then we broke out the Browning in 300 Win Mag.
BOOM! It's got quite a kick to it, and my son was right; it just isn't much fun to shoot more than 3 rounds through it. His step-dad has it dialed in at 100 yards (quite a waste), and I was able to hit the 9 ring consistently. It's a beautiful rifle, with a humongous (to me, anyway) Tasco scope on it. I've always heard "Tasco is junk", but it has a beautiful, crisp, clear image, and handles the pounding it gets from the rifle just fine. I don't know how well it would hold up out on a hunt in rough country and bad weather year-after-year, but it seems like a nice scope to me.
As far as my Remington 1100 with the rifled barrel, I was really disappointed with the little Simmons scope I had on it. The images just didn't seem "right", and I felt I would have done much better with ghost-ring sights on it. Really disappointing. We picked up my new Nikon scope on the way back from the range, so after I clean the 1100, I'll put the new scope on it, and we'll head back to the range next month.
The inexpensive slug rounds I bought were quite nice to shoot, and as the first one ejected I was amazed at how light the recoil was. I figured it was the Lead Sled absorbing most of the recoil, so after firing a few more of those, and getting nowhere fast with the Simmons scope, I stepped up to one of the 325 grain, 1800fps Winchester slugs I got the other night.
It roared like a Naval 3-pounder, and knocked the Lead Sled back about 6"!
People turned around and looked every time I fired it. I was missing the steel at 100 yards, but sure raising a huge cloud of dust out of the berm behind the steel!
And then I found out what was going on with the Simmons scope.....
As we were packing up to leave, one of the range officers came over and looked at it. He asked how well I could see with the scope, and I replied not very well, and I wasn't happy at all with it. Then he said "You've got it mounted BACKWARDS. Didn't you notice the image was smaller than one-to-one?".
This little scope has one big lens, and one small lens. I thought the big lens went in the front (gathers more light, you know), and the small lens was the one for your eye.
I don't think I've ever been this embarrassed over something shooting related.
Still, we had a great time, the weather was beautiful, except for the wind, and we met some very nice fellow shooters today.


My son sent me the video he took with his iPhone.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Headed Out To The Range!

My son and I are headed out to Angeles Shooting Range Wednesday morning. I got the barrel swapped out on my Remington 1100, the scope mounted and 'rough zeroed', and a LimbSaver recoil pad added.
I also checked my Marlin 336 out, and re-centered the reticle in the scope on that one. Since I now have a Lead Sled and some shot-filled bags, I'm going to re-zero the scope on that one, too.
The scope on the 1100 is a cheapie Simmons 2.5x20, identical to the one I gave wirecutter to use on his air rifle, but it's called a "Shotgun Scope", so we'll see how well it holds up to the battering an 1100 shooting slugs gives it. When I went to install it Monday afternoon, I realized I had the wrong mounting rings for it. ARRRRGH! I fired off a quick order to Cabela's, and also ordered a 2-7x32 Nikon ProStaff 'Shotgun Hunter' scope, as I have my doubts about the Simmons lasting very long!
Well, like a dummy I ordered it shipped overnite, and right after I clicked "Submit Order", I realized it couldn't possibly be here Tuesday (today), as I ordered it after 11:30 CST, which is Cabela's cut-off time!
SO.....I hopped in the car, and drove over to Turner's Outdoorsman, and picked up a set of Leupold rings for it.
Now this, of course, means another trip up to the outdoor range (Oh, DARN!) to sight in the new scope after it gets here and I swap out the Simmons.
And I picked up a couple of boxes of Winchester "Supreme Elite" (kinda sounds like the current government, eh?) Sabot slugs so I can compare them to the Remington "Premier Copper Solid" Sabot slugs I already have.
The Winchester's have a 375 grain slug, and an "On-The-Box" muzzle velocity of 1800 fps!
I'll bet they kick like a mad mule.
A real MAD mule.
So, looking forward to a nice, pleasant, relaxing ( ! ) day at the range on Wednesday sighting in the Marlin (Thanks OldNFO!!) and seeing if I can even control the slugs out of "Zombie Zapper MkI".
I have a funny feeling my right shoulder is going to be screaming at me all the way home......

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Minor PC Upgrade

Spent a little time this morning giving my PC a minor upgrade. I was running an Intel Core2 Duo E8400 @3GHz, and upgraded it to an Intel Core2 Quad @2.83GHz. The individual cores are about 6% "slower", but now I've got 4 of them.
Should make multiprocessing tasks run a bit quicker, and I got it at a price that was too good to pass up.
Back to work on the antenna article......

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Expedient Antennas for HF (Shortwave) Use

Sometime ago, our good friends over at the Western Rifle Shooters Association had an article on "Anti-Materiel" shooting, and one of the commenters had in his post the necessity of "proven capability to construct field expedient antennaes (sic) and use a HF radio and get out long distance comms".

Well, me being a "Radio Guy", and a proud member of the Unorganized Militia Signal Corps, replied back words to the effect that although I didn't know much about that type of shooting, I was a fairly competent and experienced radio guy.

So, I promised to write something up and submit it to them.

I'm trying my best to write down the things I know work, their advantages and pitfalls, and keep it non-technical enough so that an average guy could implement it. I've got the outline, and some fleshed out sections, and I'll be presenting it here in sections, as well as sending the complete article over to the WRSA, over the next few weeks.

It's a simple matter to make an antenna, but getting one that radiates well, and is repeatable, and usable without a lot of technical knowledge, takes some thought, and is somewhat dependent on what type of radio you'll be using. There are a ton of excellent quality portable antennas on the market (and some real JUNK, too!), so I'll go over those, too, along with some easy, cheap, and reliable ones you can construct for next-to-nothing.

Hang in there, guys, and I'll get something up here over the weekend.

As they say in the broadcasting industry, "Stay Tuned"!

****** UPDATE ******

I've got the intro written, and I'm well along on the "Resources" section. If I get real ambitious on Sunday, I'll get the "Introduction" posted. One of my friends is going over it for me, and he'll give me some feedback on it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Top 10 Mall Ninja Guns

I saw a post over at Tam's place that really cracked me up. It's a piece that includes a link over to the LonelyMachines site where the origins of the term "Mall Ninja" are explained. It cracked me up so hard, that I checked Wikipedia for the term, and *surprise*, they had no listing for it. I knew what it meant from hanging around various forums and blogs, but thought Wikipedia might have a listing.
A Google Search fared much better, and led me to this page with the "Top 10 Mall Ninja Guns".

Now in Days of Old, I did some security consulting for people that thought their offices were being bugged, and as a result of that, I got hooked up with a PPO who wanted me to be his "Tactical Stealth Electronics" operations guy. The owner of this place had this brilliant idea to have a one-stop "Security Mall" where you could hire a Private Investigator (an active-duty LAPD guy, no less!), go to school and get your Guard Card (LONG story on that!), hire his security officers, and pretty much "Take Care of ALL Your Security Needs Under One Roof!". Well, I hung around for a while, made some decent bucks sweeping offices, and got to know a bunch of security guards. Back then, they weren't called "Mall Ninjas", but rather "Cowboys", which considering who the term was applied to, I thought insulted real cowboys!
Some of these guys were freakin' NUTS! There are VERY strict rules for running a PPO (Private Patrol Operator) in Kalifornia, and they cover vehicle types and paint schemes, officer uniforms and badging, and a host of other rules and regulations. To make a long story short, the PPO MUST ensure that his patrol officers CANNOT be mistaken for a Duly-Sworn Peace Officer, a.k.a., a REAL Cop.
This is where the "Cowboy" part comes in. Some of these guys went out of their way to look, and act, like real police. One guy bought a used Kawasaki "Police Special" from the CHP, and bought the correct style pants, boots, shirts, and helmet. He looked scary good, and after being told THREE times by the owner of the place to "Knock it off, or we'll BOTH get in trouble!", he got fired.
Same thing with a "Motor Unit" guy who'd bought himself a used Crown Victoria from the CHP, and outfitted it with all the gear the CHP had, except for the light bar. He had all yellow lenses in his, but again, same thing happened. Repeatedly warned, then canned.
Anyway, I heard one of the line managers mutter something one day, and I asked him what he said. "Goddamn COWBOYS!", and then explained the whole situation to me.
It's funny, but a lot of people seem to want to be police, but either can't or won't make the effort to actually do what it takes to be one.
I see the same thing among Amateur Radio operators who get involved with EMCOMMS, too. Some of these guys just have to have the same style vest, pants and shirt that the real first responders wear, and when they get told they can't, get all hissy about it. Some of these guys even have official looking badges, fer Pete's sake!
Maybe someday the term "Radio Ninja" will enter the popular lexicon, but for now all we have is Mall Ninja.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pouring Lead Shot

Into my Lead Sled shot bags, that is.

Some things I learned, that I *should* have known.

1) #9 lead shot is tiny!
It came streaming out of the 25lb sack like sugar on steroids.
I couldn't control it, and wound up with 10 pounds in the Caldwell bag before I could stop it, and wound up with a handful scattered all over the place.

2) It doesn't pour back out of the Caldwell sack as easily as it went in.
Another handful or two all over the place.

3) If you do this, make sure you have a BIG pan underneath to catch all the shot you will spill.
I tried using the big styrofoam box our latest order from Omaha Steaks came in, and it was barely big enough.

4) Even if you use a scale to weigh the bags as you pour the shot in, the first bag will be heavier than the last (see #1).

5) Next time, buy "BB" size shot as it's much easier to handle!

Supras and Stereos.....

 The repairs on the Fisher RS-2010 are proceeding, but a bit slower than I expected. The failed transistor is an obsolete part number, so I ...