Wednesday, November 17, 2010

...overheard in the Cubes...

(Most of these gems are the same guy)

"You know your computers? They aren't really computers - they're different."

"When your ISP (In Store Processor, not Internet service Provider) gets up in the morning, it checks with your POS (Point of Sale) to see what language they're speaking today."

"I'm a former Marine, when I say something's fixed, its damned well fixed." (I thought it was once a marine, always a marine myself...)

"Your POS is speaking in Japanese and your ISP is speaking in Chinese. They don't understand eachother, we have to make them understand eachother."

"Your system didn't open for today because there was too much data clogging up the switch, rebooting it emptied it out."

"I think explosives are the only hope..." (Tech thinks he's on mute, but isn not.) "Uh... no ma'am, I didn't mean that. I'm *sure* we can fix your problem."

"Your registers aren't really computers like you have in your house. They're different. You shouldn't think of them like computers. Think of them as something else." (I'm not exactly sure what else we should think of them as... myself.)

"Its Flawless." (What's flawless? The software we support? *snort* None of us would have jobs if that was true)

***********
Just a few jems from the morning. Our new seating arrangment puts a tech in hearing distance that I could write the techie version of "Shit my Dad Says" with.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Well, there's a little Change for you.

As anyone who reads these words I occasionally throw up on my little corner of the internet is probably aware - I'm a conservative. Libertarian with a small l, perhaps. I like small government, low taxes - and generally to be left alone with my guns and whatever religion I happen to believe in.

This is an ideal that I've never personally witnessed. I've seen shadows of it - and proof it can work. But I've never lived there. I sure would like to someday. The GOP just rolled the House and took away the super majority in the Senate on the auspices that people did *not* like the Hope and Change coming out of Washington. Look, I could wax on for hours about why that is. Other people have said it already.

I could also tell the GOP they need to get their head out of their ass, and actually practice what some of them preached to get elected. Its been done before, in other places.

So instead, I'm going to say this. Representative Earl Pomeroy? You've been handed your traveling papers. It's pretty clear that you haven't really given a damn about this state for a good chunk of my life and you should have been hauled out on your ass years before I could vote. But thats ok, because its been done now, and you can thank Obamacare for it - because lets be honest here - you didn't read it, but you knew what was in it, and the rest of us who did read it hate it. Your crony Dorgan got the hell *out* of Politics when he saw the writing on the wall, and your other Crony Conrad's next. So enjoy your new free life living on the east coast without having to pretend you're actually from here anymore.

We won't miss ya. And you won't miss us. If there was any justice in the world, we'd get rid of the pension plans you folks enjoy.

But I'll settle for this - for now.

-Jon

Monday, November 1, 2010

Stupid work...

It would figure that the first morning of NaNo availible writing would be the freaking busiest day I've had at work in 3 years. But thats alright, even having missed the first couple hours, I'll get some sleep, then knock out some serious writing this afternoon after I get up.

Still - annoying.

Story's coming together nicely in my head. I've got most of the tech all laid out, so I know how it works, its roughly congruent with where science figures current tech will be in that timeframe... and I've got a good political backstory to set up the whole race to mars.

Now, its time to let the drama flow :)

Soon. Bed first.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tales from the Cube

I haven't done a work related post in ages. The primary reason for this is while I have nightly bull sessions with my opposite shift members of 'stupid store' or 'stupid technician' or 'Oh god who designed this' moments - most of them would require too much background into what I do, which would mean I'd lose most audience members by the second paragraph, and if Corp ever stumbled across my little corner of the net they'd probably be none to happy with me for spilling proprietary information...

Or some such.

But, that doesn't mean I can't take a moment to rail about the new crops of technician's my company's been hiring.

First - I'd like to make something utterly clear - for the most part, its not the new people's fault. They're a product of a very flawed idea. It will eventually be rectified, but only after someone really important finally notices its a 'very bad thing'.

I've been working for my company for nearing the six year mark now. I've been 'round the block and done more with what used to be our primary client and is now our owner (we're a subsidary) then most people with twice the tenure. I can say this because I have two primary things going for me. One - I'm good at this kind of work. I can get into the head of the user who just screwed up, and take a scant amount of symptoms and come back with a reasonable idea of whats 'really' going on, and turn that into a resolved problem. And Two - I'm a bachelor. I've been willing to go 9 times out of 10.

That last is no longer true (the bachelor part still is...) but the first part still is, and I get tagged for a lot of things coming down the chute.

Combine that with a very good memory, and you have someone who can take pretty much any issue that's been seen before in 5 different software releases, and come up with a working solution fairly quickly. I've simply been doing it long neough that I don't reallly have to think about it too hard anymore unless its new.

So when we get a new tech, who's been on the desk nary a week (And these days if he got a week of *real* training before someone dumped him on the phone, he'd be lucky) walk up to me and ask me a question I *know* someone I had trained, once apon a time would know, and then when I give them the concise - boiled down technican to technican answer and they stare at me like I'm speaking greek - it makes me grind my teeth.

I'm not a trainer anymore, but if I have to explain the basics, in a *very* basic manner everytime a newbie comes back, I might as well be doing their job as well as mine, and that drives me bonkers. My job is to fix the crap thats either too assanine, too prone to failure, or simply too likely to cause something to cease to function if done wrong that we can't build it into a basic process for the primary desks.

We used to teach our primary desk technicians how to identify problems, how things *worked* why they worked that way (even if it made no sense) and what all that meant. Now we give them a week, which is enough to get them familar with their notation tools and their worthless knowledgebase and throw them to the sharks.

And they wonder why people keep quitting.

*shakes his head*

Oh well.

It pays the bills.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NaNoWriMo

Ok, its been a while. There are a lot of reasons for that, and its not like I haven't had plenty to talk about. A lot's happened recently. Most of it not so great. Most of it, my fault.

But I'm dealing.

And I'm still here and breathing.

So - lets talk about NaNo. I've known about NaNoWriMo - or National Novel Writing Month for a fairly long time. At least a decade. I've been writing on and off for roughly the same amount of time. I've wanted to do NaNo for at least the last five years, but I also wanted to write a novel tha wasn't fanfiction, or just my own spin on a universe I've read a bunch about.

I wanted something that was mine.

Tonight at work, I finally figured it out. So I've started working on my world history (its set in the relatively near future) And the plot arc.

I've got a lot of prep work to do, and not a lot of time to do it, before NaNo starts... but I'm gonna get it done.

Now, it'll be interesting to see if I finish. I doubt I'll finish the novel, but my goal is 50,000 words in the month.

We'll see.

Its a Goal. The Working Title is "Red"

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

80s Cheese.... where men are men, and everything blows up like a Fuel Air Bomb...

So a few nights ago I needed a good laugh. I lost an uncle on my dad's side last week, and its been a rough six or seven days. We said our final goodbyes yesterday, but I'm sure the real weight won't hit for a while yet.

Anyway. I was flipping through the netflix insta-queue on my xbox and noted that Iron Eagle was on there. I haven't seen that movie in *years* but I remember watching it as a kid and thinking it was so cool.

I knew it was going to be cheese going in. But that didn't stop me. My dad's a pilot by trade, he's been flying since before I was born and is currently the Chief Pilot for a major energy company around here. Manages a team that flys around the bigwigs in a Cessna Encore and a Bravo (if I recall correctly) and my godfather used to restore P-51s and his kids are almost done restoring an F2G Super Corsair - so to say that I've been surrounded by aviation since I was a kid is an understatement.

And there are a LOT of parts of Iron Eagle that make anyone who knows a thing or two about airplanes cringe. Not to mention the reuse of some factory footage for some of the air to air combat (My favorite is that to dodge missles and cannon fire, apparently the most effective manuver is the wingover. Always to the left.)

I'm not going to get too deep into the plot, since if a highschool kid and a washed up airforce Colonel and the highschoolers friends tried it, they'd all end up serving jail time at Levenworth or dead in the desert somewhere Ronny Raygun (yes, they did call him that early on in the movie) being president or not... there is something to be said for a movie thats *FOR AMERICA* and when the .gov wouldn't stand up for an American, well damned if there weren't some Americans who'd do it for them. Why? Because cheesy as it is, it felt good to watch something that wasn't afraid to be proud to be an american, to believe that because you're an american you might *be* better. (I'm not saying we are. But come on, do we have to appologize for being who we are?)

And hey, those backwards towelheads fly airplanes that blow up like wooden models, and everything they have must have a giant oil tank under it so a few 30mm rounds from an F-16's chain gun can blow it up like the Fourth of July... even though I'm punching holes in the air in an aircraft loaded for war, my most effective weapon is my deadly cannon of doom!

It made me laugh when I desperately needed one. And Cheesy as it was, it at least got one thing right.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Journal of a Survivor

So, I've had this idea for a new blog for a while - basically the blog of a survivor of the Zombie Appocolypse - an Alternate Reality story about how he survives, things that happen to him and the people he knows, etc.

I started it up earlier this week. It can be found at www.zombiear.blogspot.com. My hope is to update at least three times a week. If anyone has any questions for the narrator/author (who just happens to also be named Jon so I didn't have to come up with a new blogger handle, but certainly isn't 'me') feel free to leave a comment. It might get answered in the comments, or I might expound on it in a post. We'll see.

Anyway - I know I don't have many readers and I pretty much do this for my own enjoyment - but it is fun knowing *someone* might be reading ;)

-Jon

Monday, June 14, 2010

Projects

I've got a lot of personal projects on my plate (mostly because I keep putting them there.) Because I lack anything else to write about - and have too much time right now at work *not* to write - I'm writing a little blurb on all of them.

Rust Removal: Last winter I got a little snow into one of my toolboxes, but didn't notice. That spring, the snow melted (as expected) and the few of my tools that weren't stainless, started to rust, getting rusty water on a bunch of tools and staining them.

I started a couple weeks back, using my dremel knock off brush attachments to clean up these tools - until I burned through the brushes I had. Once I get new ones I'll get the suckers finished.

.22 Rifle Restoration: My dad has two .22s, one of which I've already cleaned up. The pump action he's bringing to me next he painted as a kid with silver paint on the metal, and black on the stock and forgrip. If I recall correctly the stock and forgrip are wood, so I'm going to take a look at that - and if they are, sand them down and probably re-stain them - then see about getting the metal bead blasted and maybe blued.

Bail Out Box and Bag: I had an idea recently to put together a Bail Out Box (and a bag) using an old pickup tool box I have access to. It would slide into the back of my current pickup nicely - probably right under the roll tarp (I need to test that) and would make for a nice semi secure enclosure to keep a somewhat larger gear prep then a standard bag. I might write a post on the contents I have in mind, when the time comes.

Sell Old Pickup: Since I bought my Ford, my S10 has just been sitting in the garage, I've been intending to sell it, but its been one slowdown after another. I need to finish the little projects on it so I can get that sold and out of my life.

Thats pretty much it. There's technically more - but those are the big things on the top of my list.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Monster Hunter Vendetta....

...is an extremely good book.

I picked up the e-ARC a couple days back and while I'm not a huge fan of electronic copys and will undoubtably buy a dead tree copy when they come out in September - but for now I'm quite content with the fact that I got to read the book *now*.

I have patience issues, what can I say.

MHV is definately a step up from MHI - which I really enjoyed but occasionally felt disjointed and certainly was a first published book - which are very seldom an authors best work Vendetta is better plotted, Correia trys (and succeeds though perhaps a little too obviously) at implimenting some foreshadowing - some of which will not be seen until the next Monster Hunter book with everyone's favorite Combat Accountant if not perhaps longer then that - but its clear that while MHI felt almost like a oneshot that had enough popularity to become a franchise MHV is crafting a much longer term story arc.

There's still plenty of action, and in true Correia style it starts at page one, and keeps you running full tilt right up to the end. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed MHI, and anyone who enjoys monster fiction in general.

Besides - its a book with guns, babes, necromancers, Elephant and Bear zombies, and evil giant crustatian overlords from another dimension. Whats not to like?

-Jon

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Roll pins and extractors Part 2 - or working with the right tools makes every job easier.

Well, thanks to a Migraine, I ended up staying home from work today. A trial of Treximet worked pretty well, and FedEx showed up with my roll pins and punches, so today seemed as good a day as any to finally finish the tear down, clean up and reassembly of my XD.

First thing I did was go out to the garage and fabricate the extractor removal tool. I used an old Hex key I found in the rusty tool pile (another project) and with my angle grinder took the end of the body down until it fit between the extractor and the frame, then used a dremel with a cutoff disk to cut in the hook. This actually took too attempts as my first hook was too thin and bent. Here's the finished product below, it worked like a charm.



Pretty its not, but it got the job done. To pull the extractor on an XD, after removing the striker assembly, you need to pull a small pin thats nested behind the rear block. You also need to keep a thumb on the striker block because its spring loaded, and it will go flying. In the pic below you can see the head of the pin to the right of the striker channel



Once you pull the pin and release the striker block, using the proper tool for the job, you simply slide the extractor remover between the extractor and the frame and wiggle back and forth while exerting a bit of up pressure and she comes out pretty easy. Below you can see the fully removed assembly.



Its worth noting that in this picture I displayed the striker block backwards to its normal orientation to display the groove in the side. Before I'd done all that of course, I'd pulled the striker assembly - which I did a few days ago, which is when I realized the roll pin was broke. Here's a shot of the entire assembly.



From left to right you have the buffer spring, the striker itself, roll pin, loaded chamber indicator, striker spring, plastic retaining channel and the retainer block, which sits on the shooter end of the firearm. I can say that with some unexpected practice, removing the assembly, and reassembling the assembly is a hell of a lot easier then it was the first time.

Once the extractor was removed I used one of my new punches to remove the loaded chamber indicator from the top of the slide. Here's a pic below.



(I have no idea why blogger refuses to orient the picture correctly - but you at least get the idea.)

Finally, with all the hardware (except the sights) removed we have two shots of the slide. Top and bottom.



On the top here, you can see the slot for the Loaded chamber indicator, where it and the spring sit - the pin is driven in from the side.



On the underside above, you can see the channels for the extractor, striker block, and the striker channel.

Overall its a pretty simple operation - with the right tools. I did a throughal cleaning using both Hopps 9 and finishing up with alcohol after the hops had dried off - I find rubbing alcohol works pretty well, it doesn't damage the finish, and drys quickly after you've wiped an area clean. As I suspected the loaded chamber indicator and the extractor had a lot of unburnt powder/carbon scoring. Quality time with a scraper, the above cleaners and a lot of patches and cotton swabs got both areas cleaned right up

Before I started putting eveything back, I test fit my new roll pins. As promised I did have to vice them down because they came too wide - and here the 2 is 1 and 1 is none rule came into effect as it took three trys before I got one fitted right that I was comfortable with driving it in place. The new pin seats a lot harder then the origianls and I think is a little heavier. But I think I like the tighter fit (the old one came out with hand pressure the first time, and went back in the same way.)

Once I had the pin driven back out, I lightly oiled everything, and starting with the extractor, and then working back through the block pin and striker assemblys reassembled everything with the loaded chamber indicator being last. After test fit, and then setting the pin, I verified that the indicator now has a much better range of travel.

I only dry fired it once after full re-assembly, but the snap sounds right again. It was a fun project, all told, and I learned quite a bit about how this particular firearm functions. Hopefully this weekend I can get it down to the range and run a couple mags through it as a live fire test - but overall I'm quite pleased with the results.

Monday, May 31, 2010

A moment of inspiration

This weekend I spent a lot of time around family - my grandmother turned 98 on Friday and between Friday and Saturday a large amount of memorys were shared between folks. Overall it was a good time.

During the festivitys, someone mentioned that a certain country church up where I grew up is still there (which I probably knew, but hadn't really thought about in ages) and is kept up via donations and a couple of care givers that go out once or twice a month to take care of the lawn and cemetery.

And, in that moment my brain went 'Oh hey!! Problem solved!'

What problem you ask?

Well, thats easy. Ages ago I wrote a post about how I'd survive the zombie appocolypse. Which was somewhat tongue in cheek as a thought experiment, but also a primer for a TEOTWAWKI scenario, if one was looking for one (though it only really applied to *me*). Anyway, my largest problem, in a solo scenario was shelter. I had a couple options, be realistically they all sucked.

Now that small part of the problem might be solved, because that church is at most a mile from the farmyard I'd use in a solo scenario - has a well onsite (although probably not power - one problem at a time) and plenty of space, and a perfectly good furnace and kitchen (at least until the propane runs out.)

Is it perfect? Hell no, I may not be the most religious person on the face of the planet, but the idea of breaking into a church and occupying it isn't exactly my most comfortable thought - but... it'd be warmer then not doing it. And its a perfectly defensible location with at least 3 other nearby locations that may be usable as well...

Just one of those mental moments of clarity.

Now we'll see how I figure out how to solve the rest of the puzzle. ;)

-Jon

On Extractors and Roll pins

So, I should probably be in bed, but I'm rather wired right now - and I've got a topic, so you all get a blog post.

A while back I posted about my rifle, and mentioned I'd be posting a blurb about a new cleaning kit. I got rather side tracked but was working on it this evening. While in the process of cleaning my XD and taking pictures of the cleaning kit (which I will get put up here eventually) I had noted that the loaded chamber indicator is no longer resetting to flush properly. Figuring I'd remove it and clean it up, I decided to take out the striker assembly , and the block and extractor to boot - just because after a thousand rounds or so the whole are was rather heavily carbon scored. And - what the heck, it'd be good practice.

More over, I'd noted that the rollpin holding the striker in place had tended to ride up since I'd put it back in, and that bugged me a bit. After over two hundred rounds since I cleaned the striker channel I didn't think it was going to come flying out - but it was a bit annoying.

Well, turns out I don't have anything small enough to stand in for the punch necessary to remove the loaded chamber indicator. And when I finally managed to work the striker pin, I found out why it kept riding up - it had cracked and bent. Now I dont know if that happened when I put it back in, or because I tend to do dry fire training without snap caps (which forums I've read this evening have noted it will break the roll pin. Note to self I need to get some snap caps) Either way, it had happened, so I went online to http://www.springerprecision.com/ after finding there were a fairly well known after market site for XDs and bought some roll pins (.25 cents a pop, figured I might as well get a few extras) and their punch set for the XD. No more fillins for me.

However, after removing the retaining pin and striker block, I've still been unable to get the extractor to come free. Based on what I've seen in forums there are about four options. One, Beat on the slide til it works its way loose - which, I ain't doing. Scarred up my slide via use quite enough already - and that sounds about as caveman as possible.

Two, use a dental pick to worry it loose, then beat on it til it pops free. Tried using a near dental pick in my new cleaning kit - couldn't get the sucker to budge.

Three, Send it to SA - Since it ain't broke, no real reason to do that (Well the pistol is non-functional til I get a new roll pin... but thats no one's fault)

Four - Fabricate an extractor removal tool. Based on the pictures I've seen, and the forums I've read, I think a couple hours and some quality time with my dremel knockoff and I should beable to get this done tomorrow. Well today now I guess. Can't make the pistol go bang til I get the new roll pins anyway - so I'll have some time to figure it all out.

Over all, while I can't say I enjoy the fact that I currently have a pistol that doesn't go bang - I am enjoying the learning. I wonder if any schools around here offer gunsmithing courses....

~Jon

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A bit of Blather about My things that go Bang

So I've been neglecting my blog of late, and there are all sorts of reasons for that, but those things are past and I've been pondering a series of posts like this for a while - and since I've had some time this weekend I figured I'd start.

Disclaimer: I only own two firearms, and am the current custodian of three. I am by no means an expert, but I'm able to handle tools just fine, and I'm a decent shot. Most of whats below are thoughts, opinions, and observations after a fair amount of range time.

So first off, the dreaded Arsenal:



The above is a Colt AR-15 Tactical Carbine (LEO Marked) with a flattop reciever and removable carry handle with adjustable forward and rear sights, and an aftermarket ambi saftey (I'm a lefty), and my Springfield Armory XD .45 Tactical, with optional ambi saftey. Compared to most of the shooters on my blogroll, my personal stash of firearms isn't particularly impressive, but its mine. :)

I've owned the XD for almost a year and a half now, and I've been extremely pleased with it - and written about it a few times. Its an excellent - and inexpensive handgun and I have no problem recommending the XD line to anyone looking to buy a handgun for the first time. Maintenance is simple, and you really have to screw up to get this gun to malf, or fail to fire (which, the latter I have done. Talk about that later this weekend).

The AR is my new aquisition, which has been in the works for almost nine months. The Outdoorsman in Fargo is the last place in town with a layaway plan, and I am not afraid to admit that in the scheme of things I overpaid for this AR by a bit - but it was one of the few ARs left in town at the time... and the layaway program was painless. And hey - now its mine. I always wanted to own a Colt AR platform, and now I do (No, I have no particularly important reasons - its just one of those personal things).



And hey, the Colt Defense symbol is pretty dang cool looking. The above shot is a close up of the 'righthanded' controls. I've found that as a lefty, I can operate the bolt release - which is not nearly as tight as some - with my trigger finger quite easily.



Here we have the 'lefthanded controls' - note the Ambi Safety and the lack of etching of Fire/Safe. While its not particularly important (learning the default positions is dang easy, there are only two) I think I'll eventually find someone to etch them in properly. In the shot above the dust cover is closed, and you can make out the Windage and Elevation knobs for the rear sight adjust. And of course there's the LEO markings. For any wonderers - the State I live in has no laws against the sale of LEO marked firarms to civilians. And to be honest, I'm not aware of any state that does (which isn't to say there aren't a few.) Dealer claims it'll help the rifle hold value. Hell if I know - I didn't buy it because it was LEO marked, though it does admittedly make me smile.

You might also notice that the ejector redirect has a bit of brass on it. I've put only about a hundred rounds through the rifle so far, and reports from my friends note that the brass clears my face by very, very little - however with a good cheek weld I've only been grazed once. Might be another incentive to lose a few pounds though...

Since I'm lefthanded, to activate the mag release I have to shift my grip back from my usual fireing position to activate the release with my thumb. I may end up adopting the 'Grip the Forward reciever' position as I get more comfortable, but for now I find having my hand farther forward on the stock as more comfortable, and accurate.

With the rifle, I recieved two steel GI 20 rounds mags, a very basic cleaning kit (rod, bore brush, chamber brush), a well written field/owners manual and a basic sling. I've never run a round through the GI mags, instead I went out and bought 3 thirty rounds PMAGs from MagPul - which I've been horrendously happy with. They feed well, and the covers provided should help keep the feedlips from breaking when left loaded. (Though I have noticed that fully loaded mag that has had a cover on it for a while frequently needs a good slap to the bottom of the mag after loading to get the first round to feed propely.)

All in all, I will be aquiring more PMAGs.

There are a couple things I'm *not* happy with, however, though they're not the rifles fault by any means. First, I'm fairly certain this is not the original rifle I put away. As I remember that one, it had the grenade launcher detent, and a 1/7 barrel. This one has the Colt HBAR 1/9 barrel. The whole detent bit really isn't a big deal, I don't own an M203 nore do I ever expect to, but I had wanted a 1/7 twist barrel. But, 9 months later thats impossible to prove, and I may indeed be wrong and had not paid as much attention as I thought I had. And if its *really* important to me down the road I can swap the barrel easily enough.

Also, this rifle literally swims in oil, from the adjustable rear sight to the bolt carrier group, there is a LOT of excess oil slipping around. This weekend I'm going to settle in and try out a new cleaning kit a friend of mine got for me (which I'll post about, its quite the compact field kit and extremely well apointed) and clean up all the excess oil and relube. If my XD taught me anything, its that while lubrication is important - overlubrication is a bad, bad thing.

So, coming up later this weekend or early next week, expect to see a post about my new cleaning kit, and how I fixed my gunked up striker assembly on my XD (which was an adventure, but not nearly as bothersome as I was afraid it was going to be)

-Jon

Friday, March 19, 2010

Water, Water everywhere....

Yep. Its spring. River be flooding again.

Expected to crest at 38 feet sometime sunday, its certainly less serious then last year, and this year we were far better prepared.

Since I haven't settled in and written here for a while I figured I'd see if I could do so this morning while I sit on my least favorite conference call. (Yes, I can multi-task, and yes it is that useless)

I think I mentioned it earlier in my blogging, but I'm lazying and not looking back - so - back in late december of last year I bought myself a new truck. 2001 Ford Ranger, which at the time had only 61000 miles on it. Red isn't normally a color I'd be after, but it was availible, and Rangers in my price range (this one exceeded my comfort zone slightly) are stupidly hard to find, so I pulled the trigger on the largest single purchase I have ever made...

And made the Ford Business office do a doubletake when I said - no, I would not need financing, and no, there would not be a lien on my truck.

That was horrendously fun. Since then my new Ranger and myself have made a trip to Mordor and back, wandered the Dakotas a bit, and helped move my grandmother into assisted living. Four Thousand miles later... I'm pretty dang happy with my purchase. I need to adjust the parking brake tension, as it has a tendancy to engage with the slightest bit of accidental pressure, and she needs an oil change - but beyond that, I have nothing but good things to say.

Outside of that, I'm trying to get *off* the contract my employers have me on, but as of yet, I haven't been very successful. I've been in Burnout since December, and they canceled my ski vacation on me when the contract client wouldn't approve the time off - so the sooner that goes away, the better.

Other then that, there's a new Dresden book a couple weeks out, and I've been chewing through the Honor Harrington series - which is mostly the fault of Tam and Tam's readers I think. Good stuff there for the most part.

Anyway - I haven't floated away, or been buried under the snow. I'm still here, still kicking.

~Jon

Monday, January 11, 2010

Failure to Fire, or when things DON'T go Bang.

Over the New Year weekend, I took my brother, a bunch of his friends and my small collection of firearms to the range.

It was a good time. But while there, I had two failures to fire, neither of which were ammunition related. One I repaired at the range, one I had to wait until I got home. I had brought my dad's .22 rifle, a Westernfield M830 bolt action - which is a nice little gun, built back in the late fiftys and which I had spent a couple days cleaning up, and my .45 XD with the 5 inch barrel. One of Mark's friends also owned a XD(M) in 9mm so that came along as well. (He didn't bring nearly as much ammunition as I did...)

It was bloody cold that day, and while neither firearm spent much time out in it - when its -25 or so on the old mercury, it don't take long to freeze things up. Ask the Russians and Germans around Stalingrad in WWII.

I pulled out the .22 first when we got to the range, because I had tons of ammo for that, and its an easy rifle to use, and hell, its .22 so its not exactly a 'scary' caliber either. I only have the one mag for it, which I need to correct - but I loaded it up, slide the bolt forward with and pointed down range and pulled the trigger. And got an anemic 'click'.

Since I was dealing with bulk rimfire my first assumption was bad ammo, so I ejected the shell, rammed a new one home and tried again. Same thing. Tried a third time, and got the same result so I eyeballed the bolt when firing. The firing 'pin' (More of a bar on this 22) is noticable along a top grove of the bolt, and it was clear that in a test fire, it wasn't moving at all. When I'd cleaned up the gun, the only thing I hadn't torn apart was the bolt, because I'd never pulled a bolt apart, I couldn't find a diagram for it exploded online, and honestly, it wasn't my gun. But now it was clear I was going to need to.

So with a failure on that end I brought out the XD. Slapped in a fresh mag, racked the slide and pulled the trigger. Click. No bang. What. The. Hell. I racked the slide and tried another round (I was firing Blazer, non-reloadable ammo for the first time, my brother had bought it and I didn't know much about the quality) Three times, three failures. And I noticed there was no dimple on the attempted rounds. on the primer. So my firing pin was stuck... again.

I field stripped the XD and rammed the striker forward manually about ten times, reassembled and that time she went bang.

So things were back on. My brother and his friends had a good time. They all learned a bit about guns, and they all did rather well with firing, in some cases, thier first rounds through hand guns.

Once I got home I stripped the .22 and after some initial trepedation disassembled the bolt, which was coated, especially internally with a lot of field grit and heavy grease. After a twenty minute soak in some rubbing alcohol, and some liberal cleaning and drying I greased it lightly with the rifle grease I prefer and reassembled. Took it to the range the next day and it went bang.

My XD I have not done a detail strip on, and since I never have, I'm a little hesitant to do so, but I think a bit of the grease I use on the rails has migrated to the striker assembly so the parts probably need to be degreased and cleaned up to avoid future failures to fire.

I'm still doing research on that, and while from what I've seen its within my technical knowhow to handle, I don't have the right tools for the job. We'll see. I might just take it to a gunsmith, if for no other reason then to have a little makee learnee time.

If anyone's got any pointers, I'd love to hear it.

-Jon

Friday, January 1, 2010

Another Year...

So the year turned last night, for me, with a wimper rather then a bang. Which isn't to say this hasn't been a good new years. It has. I have a new job opportunity I'm waiting to hear about next week, I just bought a new truck yesterday (whoohoo!), and my Christmas haul included cash and ammo.

Ammo is good. Recoil therapy is a beautiful thing.

But I didn't party last night. I grabbed a bite to eat after work with a friend... then ate more later that evening with some family... then went home and did some laundry to ring in the new year.

Not exactly mindblowing.

But necessary. This year I'm hoping I get a change of job, which would complete a series of changes I've needed for a while, and hopefully push me on to a few more. The new Truck, a 2001 Ford Ranger, which only has 60,000 miles on it and looks like it was driven like it was made out of crystal glass for nine years is a huge improvement over my previous ride, 12 years newer and a hundred thousand miles younger, with almost no rust and great paint.

Oh, and four wheel drive. I am not longer one of two people who own a pickup but do not have four wheel drive in the state ;) Sorry Dad. *chuckle*

More importantly, I paid for it out of pocket... so its mine, free and clear.

Overall, this new year is looking up, and despite the fact that it is well and truely fragging cold outside... its looking to be a good day, and with luck, a good year.

Happy Holiday's folks, and may they find you surrounded by family and friends, with good things to look forward to, and most importantly - warm.

-Jon