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Archive for March, 2009

Confession of a Christ-Killer

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

I Plead Guilty

I have depressing news about Mish Weiss. Don’t worry; the news about her health is great. What’s depressing is the way she has been treated.

Many people have been praying for Mish. Many of those people are Christians. And Christians want other people to become Christians. I certainly do; I don’t pretend otherwise. But it looks like some people got overexcited and used poor judgment, going overboard in their efforts to expose her to the gospel.

Mish wrote a polite response on her blog, stating that she did not wish to become a Christian. It’s her decision to make. God gives each of us that choice.

Since then, she has been receiving hate mail from people claiming to be Christians. I don’t say “claiming to be Christians” because I don’t think Christians could do this. They certainly could, and I’m sure some of the responsible people are Christians. I say it because it’s possible that some of the vicious morons who sent these emails were just posing as Christians to make trouble. Like the Democrats who call radio shows and use the phrase “lifelong Republican” to describe themselves.

One particularly fine person sent an email accusing Mish of hating Christians. Wasn’t that helpful and loving? She was also called “Christ-killer.” And worse.

I can’t believe there are Christians so stupid, bigoted, and vicious that they would use the term “Christ-killer.” The fact is, every Christian is a Christ-killer. We believe Jesus had to die, and chose to do so, in order to pay for our sins. That means he is our sacrifice. Our sins caused it. So we are the ones who caused the death of Christ. It amazes me that there are people who don’t understand that. Have you sinned? Have you accepted Jesus and asked for forgiveness? If so, you’re a Christ-killer. Get used to it.

A long while back, I got a ridiculous, self-righteous email criticizing me for not pushing Mish to accept Christ. I posted the text here, and I explained why this person was wrong.

Many Christians are unfamiliar with Jews and the Jewish mind. I’m more aware than most. I’ve been living among Jews since I was three. Half of the students at my high school were Jewish. I spent three years at Columbia University, which has a big Jewish population. I lived in Israel for four months. Aaron even got me in to some yeshiva classes.

I know that Jews feel threatened by Christianity. Christians were responsible for the Inquisition, pogroms, and much of what happened in the Holocaust. Hitler was hostile to Christianity, and he persecuted Christians, but many of the people who did the grunt work were Christians, and it was not unusual for them to tell Jews that persecution was justified because Jews killed Christ (I thought it was the Romans!). Some Catholic clerics helped the Nazis. On top of that, Jews believe they cease to be Jews if they accept Jesus, and they are extremely concerned about their dwindling numbers. They are afraid of disappearing as a people.

I am familiar with the sophisticated objections Jews have raised to the divinity of Jesus. I am aware that most Jews do not take proselytizing efforts gracefully; you can’t just give a Jew the same canned speech you would give any Gentile on the street and expect to get anywhere. In all likelihood, you’ll just alienate them and increase their antipathy toward your religion. I know these things. Many ignorant Christians do not. And I will not be judged by the ignorant.

When I got involved in the prayer campaign for Mish, I also knew that the Bible instructs us to look out for the Jews, without any requirement that they become proselytes. No strings attached. That’s the assignment. So I was perfectly content to pray and offer encouragement; I felt no need to badger this poor sick woman.

There is no Biblical precedent for badgering people. Find me an example in the New Testament. There is none. The early evangelists went from place to place, making their case. Those who chose, accepted Jesus. And that was the end of it.

The Bible tells us God calls people to become Christians. He knows who will listen and who will not. If that is the case, then telemarketer-style sales techniques are unscriptural and ultimately serve to harm the church by giving it a bad name.

I believe you pray for people to give in. You try to live a life that makes them jealous of what you have, so they feel moved to try to get it for themselves. You tell them about the benefits you’ve received. And if that doesn’t work, you need to give it a rest, because when you torment people in the name of Jesus, you only drive them farther away.

How stupid do you have to be to think Jesus wants you to call Mish Weiss a Christ-killer? How can a brain as small as yours even manage to coordinate things like breathing? Explain why you think this is likely to make her want to convert. I’m sure whoever wrote that idiotic email or comment reads this blog. Enlighten us all, oh holy one.

Self-righteous imbeciles have probably succeeded in undoing whatever positive work the rest of us managed to do over the last few months. Here’s what I have to say to them: Chabad should hire you to make sure no one ever converts to Christianity again. You are doing things they could never hope to do. I am ashamed to belong to the same religion as you. You are a disgrace. And you are taking God’s name in vain, pretending to serve him by expressing your hatred.

Okay, enough of that. Here is the good news. Mish’s blast cell count has dropped below 30%. That is fantastic. And her blood counts are up. The stronger she gets–I think I have this right–the better she’ll be able to tolerate treatment that could cure her. So the prayers are working. I mean Christian AND Jewish prayers. Nowhere does the Bible say God only hears the prayers of Christians, or that he only hears when you pray in the name of Jesus.

Let’s keep it up. We can’t ask for better results than this.

Cry me an Audience

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Blogger Pays Price for Insulting Lachrymose, Fiber-Starved Cult Leader

It looks like Moxie has shaken the flying monkey cage. She invented a Glenn Beck drinking game. You drink when Beck does any part of his trademarked shtick: becoming hysterical, crying, or describing his highly publicized hemorrhoids as “terminal.” His fans have launched a bizarre campaign of persecution in her blog comments. It’s truly insane. Maybe it’s a Mormon thing; if I were her, I’d check my stats for Utah IPs. People who have lived in Utah claim Mormons actively conspire to promote each other and suffocate everyone else who tries to do business there. I don’t know if that’s what’s happening to Moxie, or if it’s just the embarrassing nuts who hang out at Freak Republik.

Once again, I have to say that I am mystified by the Beck phenomenon. It is not a good thing. Beck is many things a conservative should not be. Whiny. Melodramatic. Paranoid. He seems to be very well informed, and he’s not stupid, but he projects an image not unlike that of Nathan Lane in The Birdcage. He is a silly man, and usually, it’s not intentional.

As I have grown to know him, I have come to find his TV shows hard to watch, so I haven’t seen enough of him to be a Beck expert. But he’s usually on the radio on Tuesday mornings, when my father and I drive to our weekly breakfast. Beck’s whining is incredible. I can’t believe people can stand to listen to it. How can a grown man act like that?

Man, I wish I could still hear Phil Hendrie once in a while. I miss Hendrie, I don’t mind Laura Ingraham and Hannity, and I can put up with Rush because he’s smart. And I love Cigar Dave, although he’s not primarily political. That’s about all I can take.

I see the world in terms of blessings and curses, and the state of the GOP–America’s only political hope–shrieks “curse” to me. We can’t do anything right. We brought the world Pajamas Media and The Half-Hour News Hour. Fox News is turning into a freak show. We picked a poorly vetted Vice Presidential candidate and gave her about half an hour to prepare for a series of difficult debates and interviews. We chose a Presidential candidate who is known for his bad temper, liberalism, and persistent use of the term “gook.” Nothing seems to go right for us. Now we appear to think Glenn Beck has the face we want to project to the world. Why stop there? Can’t we get Art Bell?

Maybe he’s dead.

I used to complain a lot about the right eating its own young. The Zero Sum Gang keeps new talent down, so we are stuck with a few well-known conservative media figures, no matter how incompetent or embarrassing they become. They’re a lot like the Big Three. They know they can do anything they want, so they feel free to indulge their worst faults. So, to choose an example, now we have Ann Coulter using a slang term for “vagina” in her books, to describe liberal politicians. That’s the kind of thing we promote as our public image.

I infuriated a lot of people when I started criticizing Coulter. They thought she was “tough” and had lots of “guts.” I don’t think calling Al Gore “a total fag” on camera indicates bravery per se. I think it indicates that you have some kind of problem, and that people shouldn’t be encouraging and enabling you. At a minimum, they should possess the tiny quantum of brains required to avoid choosing you as a figurehead.

People who aren’t real bright say we should reflexively support any conservative who makes it big. My response is that reflexes are for creatures like worms and frogs. Human beings think before they act. Here’s a nutty question: what if we only supported media figures who are good for the party and good for America?

No, that’s too far-out. That’s limp-wristed fairy talk. Only total liberal fags think like that. Let’s OFFEND. Because the best defense is a best offense. Or something.

We can do better than Beck and Coulter, but we never will. Maybe it’s because conservatism used to be largely about God, and now it’s about excluding God in order to have a “big tent.” The code phrase is “socially liberal but fiscally conservative.” To me, that has always sounded like, “I like smoking dope and sleeping around and having abortions, but my saving virtue is that I am also selfish.”

The GOP used to be God’s party, sort of. Now it seems like he doesn’t have a party. I suppose conservativism is still considerably closer to Christian values, but these days, that seems incidental.

I don’t think Glenn Beck is sincere. Maybe I give him too much credit, but I can’t believe he’s serious about his wacky theories and his free-flowing tears and his maudlin manipulations. His job isn’t to move America to the right. His job is to attract an audience. So he does what works. That’s my opinion. Give Rush credit; he is apparently a somewhat unsavory person, but he seems to mean what he says. He’s pretty good about maintaining his dignity on the air. Beck is more like Norma Desmond. Unfortunately, unlike Norma, he’s getting his closeup.

I hate to see conservative males personified by a weepy Chicken Little who needs to go take a handful of ‘Pirin. I have criticized Ted Nugent for his gross remark about what Hillary Clinton should do with a rifle barrel, but I’d be much happier if he and not Beck had been chosen as our new secular icon.

But I promised myself I wouldn’t cry about it.

Doodads and Gewgaws

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

A Lathe is Like a Cake With no Frosting

Before I chose my lathe, people told me the tooling would be the big expense. What they did not make clear was that it would also cause most of the headaches. It’s hard to figure out what I need.

I have to have measuring equipment. A VFD. Tool post holder set. Cutters. And knowing almost nothing, I am ill-equipped to choose things. Especially before the lathe arrives.

Og is giving me all sorts of advice, and I’m picking the brain of a 5914 owner at Practicalmachinist, and I’m getting good input at The Home Machinist. It looks like I may want to get a Phase 2 tool post set from Enco; they’re running a great monthly special on it. I don’t know which size I need, so I fired a question off to the Practicalmachinist guy.

Clausing gave me a manufacture date for the lathe: 1965. I’m hoping they didn’t work it too hard at the prison.

Clausing made a milling attachment for this thing, but I’ll bet it’s impossible to find one. It’s some sort of vertical thing you mount on it, and I suppose it moves workpieces across the bed, while you spin cutters mounted in the chuck.

I would imagine that it’s not hard to make a milling attachment. If you have a milling attachment.

If you want to know why they don’t make lathes in the United States any more, here’s a clue. The top brand of lathe tool post is Aloris. Made in the USA. I just found a place that has a new set for sale. Price? Only $625. Price for the Taiwan version mentioned above: $189.

This is why the carmaker bailout is a waste of time. Five years from now, you’ll see Chevy Malibus for $35,000, comparable cars from Taiwan for $25,000, and nearly comparable cars from China for $15,000. That’s when the US automaking industry will cease to exist. UAW members think the bailout is going to get them over a rough spot, so they can keep making several times what they’re worth. They don’t realize the Chinese are about to put an end to them and their gravy train.

Thanks again, Mr. Obama. Shrewd use of all that money. Which, oddly, is also Chinese.

We’re going to be using China-financed dollars to buy Chinese-made cars, while we struggle to earn enough money to pay the sky-high taxes required to pay China the interest on the money they subsidized. I’m assuming we’ll be able to afford cars. Maybe we won’t. We deserve it. We are idiots.

I have a new project. I rented a whole series of machining videos from Smartflix, and I know I’ll forget everything I see. So I got two notebooks and some three-hole pads. I’m going to use one notebook for lathe information and the other for milling. I’m taking notes as I watch the videos.

I could just copy the videos, which is what Smartflix probably expects me to do, but that’s stealing. I copied some awful CLE recordings, but that’s completely different, because I will only hear those ONCE, unless I am kidnapped and forced, at gunpoint, to listen a second time. Even then, I might choose the gun.

Creating these notes is very slow business. If I can manage one DVD per day, it will be a miracle. But at least I won’t be throwing the money down the toilet, which is what would be happening if I didn’t take notes.

Here’s a sad fact. The useful lathe videos won’t be coming my way for quite some time. So I’ll be sitting here collecting milling information while a lathe rots in my garage. Maybe I should break down and buy one video.

My problems could be much worse than these. I can’t wait to get this machine running. It’s going to be a blast, start to finish. Let the rest of the world worry about the Obama Depression. I’ll be in the garage, making chips.

VFD? New Motor? What?

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Next Hurdle

I ended the weeks-long turmoil of trying to choose a metal lathe, and I thought life would be free from puzzles and dilemmas for a while. WRONG. Now I have to figure out what to do about the 3-phase motor, and I have to get a minimal amount of tooling.

I can get a phase converter for $100, but I don’t know much about it. I don’t want something that will harm the motor or cause it to produce less power than it would on a true 3-phase system.

The mechanical speed controls on these old lathes sometimes give up the ghost, and when that happens, I think it’s best to scrap the gears and go VFD all the way. If I had a VFD already, I would not have to worry about ordering a new one, and I would not have to toss a phase converter for which I have no use. A VFD containing a phase converter would work as a phase converter, but a phase converter with no VFD stuff would not control speed. See what I mean?

I’ve asked about this before, but I have the memory of a gerbil who just mistook a sack of coffee beans for sunflower seeds, so every time someone explains it, I forget and have to ask all over again.

People always tell me to build a rotary phase converter, but it seems silly to run one huge motor just to provide juice for another motor.

I’ll figure it out. I think the best thing is to have them ship the lathe as-is, and I can worry about the electrics on my own.

“The electrics” is how we he-man tool people describe motors and starters and so on.

I can get a single-phase motor cheap. That’s probably the easiest thing to do. But I am told they generate less torque than triple-phase, so I’m not sure what size to get. The original is 2 HP.



Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Think of my Garage as a Halfway House

Someone asked for a photo of the new lathe. I’ll show you what I was sent.


It will come with a drill chuck, 3-jaw chuck, dog driver plate (whatever that is), tool post, tool holder, and a manual. The Grizzly would have had two 3-jaw chucks, I think.

I could have had a South Bend 13, but this has a bigger spindle bore, and it’s supposed to be a very popular lathe with gunsmiths.

I’m hoping it’s not too beat-up. It came from a prison, where it was presumably a teaching machine. That sure beats a machine that put in 24-hour days at a factory.

I was sweating the choice up until this afternoon, when I started to feel very calm about it, and I felt I was finally seeing the decision clearly. That’s what I had been waiting for.

I like the fact that it came from a prison. There is a metaphor in there somewhere. I see tools as part of a pattern of liberation in my life. And here I am, buying a tool which has, itself, been liberated. It began in the joylessness, despair, and stale air of a penitentiary, and it will end in a home workshop where there is only pleasure, contentment, peace, and fulfillment.

And not too much cussing, except when I hurt myself or can’t find something.

God has really blessed me when it comes to tools.

By the way, Mish’s fever has gone below 101. “Prayer Answered!”, the latest post begins.

Charm and Class Overcome Newness and Warranty

Thursday, March 26th, 2009


I just got back from the gun range.

Aaron’s trap-shooting exploits made me want to take the Sweet Sixteen, but I had other things to do today, so I let it drop. I focused on two jobs that had to be done. I needed to test the laser with the Vz 58, and I needed to see how well my new Hornady .45 bullets worked.

The Vz seems to be working out. I didn’t shoot much, but with the iron sights and no rest, I made a group as big as a baseball at 75 feet. Good enough. Sooner or later I have to get proficient with iron sights, but this is not the gun to do it with, since it’s very hard to use a rest. At burglar distances, you can’t miss with this gun, so I’m not worried.

The laser was worthless. Two reasons. First, in bright sun, it takes a while to pick it up at 75 feet. If you’re shooting from ambush (not too likely in a self-defense situation) I suppose that’s okay, but when you’re popping a bad guy in a hurry, it’s no good. At dusk or later, however, it would be fantastic. The other reason it was a waste of time today is that the mount loosened while I shot. Looks like another job for Loc-Tite. When I realized the mount was sliding around, I put the gun away and moved to the pistol side of the range.

The Hornady XTC bullets gave me great results. Tighter than Laser-Cast, but that’s almost certainly because I shot last week and benefitted from the practice. The recoil seems a bit sharp. Maybe that’s the additional powder. Anyway, nothing blew up, and the bullets fed perfectly, so I guess the bullets are fine.

I did have one failure to fire. However, I think I can rule out the bullets as the cause. Because it happened after took the magazine out, reloaded it, and began shooting…without reinserting the magazine. A bullet is very unlikely to fire when it’s two feet from the firing pin.

I’m considering making up 50 bullets, all with powder charges that are identical to within 0.1 grains. Right now, even with the pistol micrometer thing on the press, the charges vary within about a 0.2-grain range. I’m sure some charges are even farther out of spec. Maybe Unique’s coarseness makes it hard to meter. Whatever the story is, I suspect it is stupid to expect the Lock-N-Load to give you really accurate charges. You probably have to size the cartridges, prime them, take them out, fill them in a tray, and then run them through again to seat the bullets.

I’d like to take the XTC bullets and make up 50 “perfect” rounds and see if it makes any difference. I would estimate that apart from a couple of flyers, I shot within a 5/8″-3/4″ radius at 7 yards today, and I know my trigger pull and sight picture are far from perfect, so I very much doubt that uniform charges will matter at all. But it would still be fun, and fun is crucial.

I am not quite totally done dithering about the lathe. Today for a few minutes I seriously considered getting a 7 x 12 Grizzly lathe so I could learn how to use it and then approach big-lathe shopping with some degree of knowledge.

I wish I could justify getting the Clausing. It may be in wonderful shape, and however good a Grizzly may be, getting a used Clausing in good shape is like getting a used Rolls-Royce in good shape. I think that’s literally true. The quality of older American machine tools is so far above the quality of new Chicoms, it’s probably fair to say it’s like comparing a Rolls to a Ford. Even if the performance is the same, the love and care that went into the assembly of the old production lathe will surely show. And the Clausing already has variable speed, which would be a $300 upgrade to the Grizzly.

Insert One-Hour Pause Here

Okay, call me crazy, but I decided to try the Clausing. I kept thinking about it, and I finally decided that the pluses were too big to ignore. I lose the gap bed. But I get variable speed, lower RPMs on the bottom, higher RPMs on the top, better potential for precision, all-around better parts and construction, and a much cooler machine.

Now let’s pray it doesn’t fall off a truck.

Cockroach Pride

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

I Only Like Religions Endorsed by Major Celebrities

I’ll tell you what. I am fed up with congestion.

I don’t know if it’s pollen or what, but I am having all sorts of sleep problems due to nasal congestion. I was getting up at 5:30 every morning, and I really enjoyed it. Now even if I go to bed early, I tend to feel crummy when I get up, so I add two hours to the alarm setting, and I go back to sleep. Today when I woke up I was so out of it I got up and made coffee in order to help me make it to the shower. Have you ever awakened in such a state that you had a hard time keeping your balance during your first steps? That’s me today.

I probably need to sterilize my bedroom. Wash the mattress cover and dust ruffle, mop under the bed, dust everything in sight, and get more of that Clorox allergy spray. I may also get a memory foam pillow. When I was a kid, a doctor told my mother I couldn’t have feather pillows, and at the time, he was wrong. Maybe he’s right now.

I still haven’t recovered from the time change. That’s weird. Usually it doesn’t bother me at all. I tried melatonin, but the results were not great. I tended to wake up in the middle of the night. I don’t know if that’s the melatonin or something else.

I strongly suspect that when you have a good prayer life, and there are people that need your help, God will literally wake you up so you can pray. Maybe that’s what’s happening now. I am determined to be thankful for the opportunity, but I think you know how that works. “Thanks for giving me this chance to pray, and boy would I thank you even more if you gave someone else the chance tomorrow. That would be just great, because I hate to hog the righteousness.”

Here’s a good question for everyone. Have you ever been shaken up by an answer to prayer? I’ll explain. Usually when I pray for things, I find myself praying for things that are likely to happen regardless of whether I pray. “Keep me safe.” “Help me find the car keys.” But sometimes I pray for things that are extremely unlikely to happen without divine intervention. One example: I pray that people I know will become Christians. That’s a tough one, because it involves manipulating beings who have free will, and it also involves a decision that is subject to tremendous cultural bias.

People who are not Christians are often very contemptuous of Christianity; praying for them to change is a little like praying that I will give up Christianity and become a Scientologist or a Mormon. Many people see Christianity as beneath their level of sophistication, and they may see Christians as rubes and suckers. The thought of having their cool friends look down on them is too much to bear. Often, the barrier is pride. It feels great, thinking you’re more clever than people who picked the wrong religion. That’s something I need to watch, as a matter of fact.

Why is it that American Buddhists are so stuck up? Can someone explain that to me? Buddhists can’t wait to tell you they’re Buddhists; it’s as if they think they won the Nobel Prize. The real message, much of the time isn’t “I’m a Buddhist.” It’s “I am smarter and more moral than you.” Isn’t bragging about your morality and humility sort of oxymoronic?

Was Buddha stuck up? Isn’t that bad karma? And why do so many Westerners assume Asians have deep wisdom? One look at Asia is all you need to realize how kooky that idea is. Life in Asia is pretty awful, and it always has been. How come the deep wisdom isn’t kicking in and fixing things? Also, if human beings are recycled, how come there are six billion of us now? Where did all the new souls come from? Maybe a lot of us are recently promoted ants and cockroaches.

If you were a cockroach not too long ago, what do you have to be arrogant about? You must have been a mighty impressive cockroach. And if you insist on being arrogant, why be arrogant toward other human beings? The appropriate thing would be to lord it over all the folks who are still cockroaches.

I often think one big draw of Buddhism is that it enables you to work on yourself without having to oppose or even acknowledge sin. That’s pleasant, because it means you never have to take a stand, and you never have to give anything up because it’s sinful. This is probably why gays love Buddhism. You can be gay and be a full-blown, hardcore Buddhist. In order to be a gay Christian or Jew, you have to mangle the Bible pretty badly.

Some non-Christians feel brave and strong because they don’t need the “crutch” of an “imaginary” God. Unlike those weak Christians who chose to be torn apart in the Coliseum rather than deny God. Wow, what crutch-dependent weaklings. That isn’t courage. Real courage is standing up in a room full of your fellow unbelievers, saying you believe exactly what they do. I guess.

It takes real bravery to do things that make your life easier. That must be how it works.

I have never understood how anyone could feel smug about thinking for himself, while espousing beliefs that tend to bring him approval and acceptance. I think the funniest examples are on college campuses. Kids who rebel by doing and saying exactly what their teachers tell them to. Tenured professors who pretend it’s brave to spout rhetoric their bosses agree with. How is it brave to speak out, when you can’t be fired for it? You can’t “Question Authority” by agreeing with everyone who has power over you. The proper term for that is “toadying.”

I’m off on a tangent. All I’m saying is, it’s a big deal when a prayer involving changing another person’s mind is answered. I was using prayers regarding religious choices as examples.

Not long ago, I had a prayer granted, and it had seemed so unlikely, I literally looked up and thanked God in a state of confusion and amazement. I always try to believe God will grant my requests, but the human mind is a funny place where a belief and its opposite can exist at the same time; when you say you believe something, you usually mean you have less doubt than belief. So when God comes along and crushes the remaining doubt, it wakes you right up. Are all believers like me? Maybe Moses was startled when God parted the Red Sea.

It’s funny; faith is not constant in a given person. It varies in degree. I suppose it would be impossible, on my worst day, to convince me that God doesn’t exist. On the other hand, it can be a big shock when he does something really bold that forces me to realize he’s really there.

Let me know if it has ever happened to you. Meanwhile I better suck it up and clean that bedroom.

…The Deranged Semi-Automatic Weapon Owner Cackled as he Added to his Home Arsenal…

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Cured Press Runs Well

Reloading went so well today I ran out of .45 brass.

Or so I thought.

I have something like 400 rounds ready to go. I finished filling an empty Sellier & Bellot box, and I figured that was the end of the brass. I looked around and found a few cases, but I couldn’t find any boxes to put them in. Last time this happened, I put loose ammunition into a Laser-Cast box and scooped it out as needed, but I didn’t feel like it this time, so I took the .45 things off the press and put the .38 Super things on. I have a new box of Starline brass I want to fill.

Horror of horrors; I was out of the small pistol primers required for .38 Super. But while I was looking I found a bunch of ammunition boxes full of empty cases. So I had taken the .45 stuff off the press for nothing, when I could have kept on reloading.

Bright side of the situation: last time I went to the nearest gun dealer, they had Winchester primers. That just happens to be the brand I use for .38 Super. So I think I’ll roll by tomorrow and buy three thousand or so. That should keep me in .38 Super and .357 for quite some time.

It’s extremely important to load up on primers and powder locally whenever possible, because you avoid the obscene hazmat fees they charge when you order online. Also, primers have been hard to find lately, so you should probably grab them while you can.

I still have almost 100 .357 rounds I have to take apart. Last year I tried to shoot them, and some of them were so weak the bullets literally fell on the ground before hitting the targets. I can’t figure out what caused that. The recipe said to use small pistol primers, not magnum primers, so I don’t think that was the problem.

I really have to get a gun safe. I’m not really worried that people will steal my milsurps or my .22 or my Sweet Sixteen and start holding up liquor stores; these are weapons only desperate and unfashionable criminals would use. But the pistols would definitely be useful to a crook, and maybe the Saiga and the Vz 58 would be, too.

I suppose it’s conceivable that a real loser would saw up a Sweet Sixteen for a holdup gun, but I think it’s extremely unlikely. I can just picture some 65-IQ street doofus trying to shove 12 gauge shells into the magazine.

The Hornady is nearly problem-free now, but I have realized that its chief design defect exacerbates my own errors. When the eject wire pins a round against the shell plate and obstructs the press (completely Hornady’s fault, as their redesign shows), I sometimes fail to push the lever firmly after I clear the round (my fault). That means the primer doesn’t seat, so I end up with a bad round that has to be taken apart. Happened four times today.

Maybe I should go ahead and order the redesigned parts.

Garage TV Shelf

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

It’s Happening

Is it depraved to put a TV shelf in your garage?

I hope so, because I’m working on it. When my dad’s tenant ran off, he left some very nice furniture-quality plywood, and I just cut it up and made a platform to mount in a corner of the garage, about seven feet off the ground. How cool will that be? Watching tool videos while sitting on my Craftsman backrest stool. Too much.

The plywood was half-inch, and one side was beaten up, because the tenants were slobs. That worked out fine. I cut two pieces and Titebonded them together with the bad sides against each other. Now I have a one-inch piece that won’t bend with the weight of the TV. One brace should be all it needs. It’s clamped up right now, and I’ll finish after it has time to dry.

Here’s something really irritating. Even with a giant table saw at my disposal, I am not set up well to make half a three-foot square, cut on the diagonal. I can make the square, but after that, it’s a pain. Maybe I could have set it up against a miter gauge. Instead I clamped a drywall square to the wood and used it as a guide for a circular saw.

This will be fantastic. TV off the floor, scrap plywood out of the way, DVD capability established.

Oops, I need to add a second shelf for the DVD player.

The Mate was a Mighty Sailin’ Man

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

“Professor, Can You Make me Some Botox?”

It’s amazing how the cracks in the bizarre Obama infallibility facade are beginning to appear. They’re coming one by one, from different directions. It is gradually becoming obvious that everything the critics said about this man is true. His ego is disproportionate to his abilities. He is immature and inexperienced. And he has no idea what he’s doing.

I honestly thought the Gilligan analogy was my own invention, but I just looked, and it turns out other people have seen the resemblance.

For what it’s worth:


I think I captured the botox particularly well.

When Paul Krugman manages to be honest enough to criticize a liberal President, you know things have gone south. I think he has gone after Obama twice. That is just plain bad news for Obama. It indicates a substantial scrape in the Teflon.

The market is up this week, but the simple fact is, we are trying to buy our way out of a recession, with money we don’t have, and which Obama’s policies will probably prevent the next generation from being able to repay. What Obama is doing is like buying shoes from yourself and trying to live on the commissions. I’m starting to agree with Rush. If this SEEMS to work in the short term, it could be very bad for America, because it will convince non-bright people that socialism and overwhelming debt are good ideas.

George Santayana will then have his pound of flesh.

As for me, I’m fairly sure I’m going to get a Chicom lathe. I think the dealer with the Clausing in Vermont is honest, and I am sure he’ll send me something that is a good deal. What scares me is that a good deal may be an older machine that won’t do what a new Chicom will do.

Maybe I’m wrong. Still have to think.

One nice thing about tools is that because they are not money, it will be hard for a future socialist government to take them away or destroy their value. I may be wrong, but I think it’s a lot easier for socialist thieves to go after real estate and liquid assets. And if I have good tools and a little skill, and the Obama Depression gets so bad I can’t earn a living with my writing or my education, I’ll be able to provide useful services in exchange for money. Or Soylent Green.

I have to make a shelf so I can put my old TV up in the garage. This is a must. There are too many tool videos to ignore. They could be very useful out there. Also, TV in the garage is cool. Which is weird, because TV in the house is decadent and almost trashy.

Guess I better get to it.



Loc-Tite Solves Indexing Problem

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009


Today I blue-Loc-tited the left pawl screw on the Hornady LNL, and then I pounded out a couple of hundred rounds of .45 ACP. I had maybe eight bad rounds, none of which were related to the left pawl problem. My own stupidity was clearly the cause of maybe four, and it was a strong suspect in a couple of others. This is acceptable performance. From the press, I mean.

You really have to shove the lever hard to make sure the primers go into the cases. I had several rounds that ended up without primers (I am not including the ones I tried to prime after the primer tube emptied), and I suspect that I either forgot to shove the lever, or I didn’t shove it hard enough. Also, I have gotten lazy about cleaning cases, and I have taken the advice of people who say not to bother with lube, so it’s possible that dirty primer pockets have caused a problem or two.

In case anyone is Googling “Hornady Lock-N-Load AP” and trying to solve an indexing problem, I’ll spell the name of the product out.

I put Loc-tite on the left pawl screw, screwed it in, and ran the press in order to adjust it before the Loc-tite cured. Unbelievably, it was dead-on. I don’t know if you realize how weird that is. You can throw the indexing off with an eighth of a turn of that screw. I would say the odds of hitting the right spot by blind luck are something like 1:50. Maybe six full turns to set the screw. That’s roughly 50 eighths of a turn. In practice, maybe that estimate is high, since you can narrow it down to fewer turns before trying the press.

Sorry. Former physics grad student thinking out loud. I can’t help doing things like that.

I let it set up for about half an hour. I figured it didn’t need an all-night cure for a problem this undemanding, and I guess I was right, because I didn’t have to touch it after that.

Someone said I should not put a weight on top of the primers in the feed tube. I researched this a year or so ago, and I came to the conclusion that it was not a problem. Some guy on a forum responded to the same suggestion, and he seemed to know what he was talking about. He discussed what it takes to set a primer off, and how little that resembled the weight of a light iron rod. I think he was right. You can put a huge amount of pressure on a primer by stupidly trying to prime a primed case (not that I would know this from first-hand knowledge), and it doesn’t even begin to crush the primer.

If I blow up, you will have the satisfaction of saying you told me so.

Whenever you end up with powder in an unprimed cartridge, the powder spills onto the press. Eventually it may accumulate in the slide thing that feeds primers, and although I don’t think it caused me any problems today, it could conceivably stop the press by making a primer obstruct the little primer ram deal that pushes primers into cases. I don’t know; maybe it depends on how low the ram goes. Probably not. Anyway, I went in with a Q-Tip soaked in Hornady One Shot after a while, to make sure no gummy crud was in there.

I need to make a little alarm to tell me when I’m out of primers, especially since my primers and bullets are out of phase. I use 100-round boxes of bullets, and primers come in 100-round trays, but for one reason and another, I am starting every 100-round box of bullets with a primer tray that is already down to 80. That means there’s a pretty good chance that I won’t notice when I’m on bullet #81 and there are no primers left in the tube.

The design of a buzzer alarm would be simple. Put a contact on top of the tube. Put another one on the rod that sits on the primers. When the primers are gone, the rod drops and puts the contacts together. BZZZZZ.

I have the dumbest goals and dreams. I really do. A lot of men dream of riches and Ferraris and power and endless sex. I’m pretty excited because I have this:


I guess I should be pleased that I am capable of being satisfied. A lot of men are not.

Laid-Back Machining

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Sometimes a Hundredth is Good Enough

Smartflix sent me a very interesting product this week. It’s a DVD by a clockmaker named W.R. Smith, and the title is Tooling the Workshop for Clockmakers & Modelmakers. You can find this gentleman’s website here.

I don’t know too much about W.R. Smith, but he’s pretty clearly a Southerner. I know he has been doing what he does for a very long time, because in the video, he presents a tool he made at the age of 14. He takes small machine tools and modifies and adapts them to do all sorts of things.

So far, I’ve only seen him use two machine tools: a Sherline lathe and a small Myford lathe. He’s extremely creative. He uses them in ways you would not expect. For example, he does milling operations on both lathes, using the chucks as indexing tables. If that sounds hard to understand, maybe I can give an example that makes it clearer. He placed a board across the ways of his Myford. He mounted a motor on the board, and he connected it to a spindle mounted on the ways, close to the Myford’s chuck. He mounted a brass disk behind the Myford’s chuck, and the disk had regularly spaced holes in it. He put a part in the chuck and rotated it by hand, using a catch and the disk holes for indexing. Each time he moved the part, he used a tool mounted in the spindle to cut a gap in the part. In this way, he was able to make a clock gear.

I guess you’d have to see it to get a clear picture. I’m pretty sure I’m describing it correctly.

It was a neat thing to watch, because it reminded me that not all machining is about anal retention and 0.00001″ tolerances. In the kind of work he was doing, a hundredth of an inch one way or the other probably made little difference. It’s like the difference between technical drawing and oil painting. Any artist knows that a soft brush is better for your creativity than a sharp pencil.

I have to wonder if a person who has a nice 12 x 36 lathe can get by without something small, like a Taig or Sherline. I would assume so; people make a lot of small parts with big lathes.

I’ve been re-reading one of my favorite books, Machining Fundamentals by John R. Walker. If you have any tools to speak of, this book is a great investment. He begins with things like hammers and files and works his way up to CNC milling and so on. Believe it or not, simple tools like hammers and files are not as simple as you think. You don’t just pick them up and start whacking, if you want the best results. You would be surprised.

The lathe chapters are packed with information.

I have been trying to understand why people were telling me I don’t need an extremely precise lathe to do good work. I just found a forum comment that seems to explain it.

All rotating bodies have an axial center which is theoreticaly true and if you remove material from the rotating circumference of that body with a STATIONARY tool the surface that you generate will be theoreticaly circular and centered with the axis of rotation.

The money in high precision lathes is spent in ensuring that the bearings are capable of absorbing the axial forces of cutting without allowing excess deflection, and in ensuring that the tool travels along the bed and across the saddle in a geometricaly precise relationship to the axis of rotation when under load.

Forums are funny. You can go to a forum where there are supposed to be a lot of experts, and you can get 40 answers to what should be an easy question, none of which make sense. Then some guy who actually knows what he’s talking about drops in, and he ends the confusion in a hurry. Maybe that’s what happened, above.

I thought runout was a big deal because it meant the work as whole, while rotating, would also travel in a circle around an imaginary ideal axis, and the diameter of the circle would be two times the runout. My head hurts when I try to picture it, but I believe that would mean sloppy results. If the axis of rotation is actually nearly fixed, and the cutting tool is mounted firmly, I would assume good work is possible with less-than-spectacular machine specs.

I’m learning a whole lot, even though my closest scrape with machining to date has been cutting a piece of aluminum on a table saw.

More Bullets!

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Hollow Points

I finally got started on my free Hornady .45 ammunition. And the press is getting on my nerves again.

You can do about 40 rounds before the left pawl goes out of alignment. So you have to stare at the shell plate while you run the press and make sure it lines up, and when it doesn’t, you have to compensate by hand and run through the shells already on the plate. That empties it so you can adjust the pawl without screwing up any cartridges.

On top of that, the slide that feeds the primers stopped on me, so I had to knock it loose and hit it with dry lube. I don’t think the dry lube makes any difference at all. The slide is either out of spec or not designed well, because it has never been reliable. It’s clean and undamaged, and so are the parts around it, and it still stops up every so often. I added a steel rod that sits on top of the primers in the primer tube. That presses them down into the slide and makes it less likely to jam, and I put a little mark on the rod that tells me when I’m out of primers.

Irritating, but probably a whole lot faster than a basic press that does one cartridge at a time.

I’m going to have to Loc-Tite the pawl screw. That will solve one problem. Of course, I have no Loc-Tite on hand. Going to the store kills half an hour of loading time.

If you got 230-grain XTC .45 bullets free from Hornady (#45160) and you like Unique, here’s a recipe from the Hornady manual.

LOA: 1.230″
WLP primer
5.1-6.1 grains Unique

I’m using 5.8. That is supposed to give 800 fps, I think.

I can’t believe how many .45 cases I have. If you go to the range and let people know you reload, they’ll actually bring them to you. Aren’t gun people nice? Proves what they say about an armed society. Hippies, on the other hand, are among the nastiest creatures imaginable.

One nice thing about jacketed bullets is that they don’t have grease or wax or whatever it is all over them. That stuff probably doesn’t make the press run any better.

How the Organized Mind Approaches Tool Buys

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Eeny, Meeny…

I am seriously considering drawing a lathe-purchase flow chart. In fact, I think I’ll do it. I am too stupid to work a spreadsheet.

Maybe I can do it in text.

I have three…damn…four possibilities. Let’s examine them.

1. Clausing 5914 in Vermont
2. Clausing 5914 in Hialeah
3. Grizzly G4003G
4. South Bend 13 in Vermont

Cost is roughly the same in all three cases. That’s a wash.

1. Clausing in Vt.: Seller has great reputation, so I probably won’t get screwed. If machine is in very good shape, it will do better work than the Grizzly. If something goes wrong, I have to fix it with no Clausing support, because it is OLD. Excellent gunsmithing lathe, in case I decide to try that some day. Came from men’s prison, so may be infested with interesting bacteria and/or coated with dried fluids of indeterminate nature. Probable loss on resale: $1000.

2. Clausing in Hialeah: Seller’s reputation unknown, but they’re local so I can always sue in small claims court if they stick me with a bad lathe. However, that is a pain in the butt, and they will probably sell the machine as-is. Not likely to be damaged in shipping, as this consists of paying a guy named Enrique to bring it over on a flatbed. Other than that, same as Clausing in Vermont. Except for VD germs.

3. South Bend in Vt.: Excellent lathe, but smaller spindle hole than Grizzly and Clausing. Better than Grizzly, if in good shape. Has external threads on spindle, which is bad. Parts easy to find. Bigger swing than Grizzly or Clausing. Probable loss on resale similar to Clausing.

4. Grizzly G4003G. Has a gap, which is supposedly a great thing, because you can open it up and turn very big parts. Factory tolerances not quite as good as old US lathes. Big spindle hole. Better bearings than other Grizzlies. Good reviews from gunsmiths. Has very tall stand which puts work too high for comfort; one operator used a plasma cutter to chop the stand several inches. Great customer support. Warranty. Parts easily available. Comes with egg rolls. Probable loss on resale (my guess) $1500-$2000. Way less cool than US lathes.

If condition is good, the US lathes will do better work. Will I ever notice the difference while farting around in the garage? Questionable.

If the US lathes stink, I get hammered on resale when I dump them. If the Grizzly stinks, I get hammered even worse.

Okay, let’s bail on the South Bend. That spindle bothers me. I wonder why you can’t put a new one on. I guess you would have to gut the lathe.

Maybe the extreme confusion I’m experiencing is God’s way of saying, “Do not get a lathe. Go back to barbecue.”

Maybe I’ll run up to Hialeah.

Excuses and Photos

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

You Missed Me

I forgot to blog yesterday. Unbelievable. Maybe it’s a healthy sign. Also, the lathe search is driving me nuts. I keep asking experienced lathe users about the Grizzly G4003G versus an old Clausing 5914, and one day, they say, “The Grizzly is the most amazing tool yet created by the hand of man,” and the next day they say, “Chinese lathes are made from pot metal, plus they cause cancer.”

Mike says his brother wants to see the Hoginator, so here are photos.


That’s before I created the Teletubby smoke box, which can be seen below.


Apparently Mike got a good result on his angiogram, and his wife is annoyed. I think she was hoping for something she could use to persuade him to quit eating 9,000 calories per day.