Sledgehammer's Cycles

Sledgehammer's Cycles
Sledgehammer's Performance and Custom Cycles

Friday, October 31, 2014

Michael Jackson - Thriller

Happy Halloween with the greatest music video ever made.  With Vincent Price FTW!

Ghosts of Jack O'Lanterns past

I'm not in shape to do my usual pumpkin carving, so here's one of my favorites from the past few years.

Hello Kitty with EYES OF FLAME is about as scary as anything I can think of ...

Where's Your Backup?

When it comes to firearms, there's an old saying, "Two is one and one is none."

If you're reading this, you have a computer. If you have a computer, you need to be doing regular backups. Doesn't matter how much of a pain it is, it's part of owning a computer, same as having the oil changed is part of owning a car. Because there two kinds of hard drives, the ones that have failed already and the ones that are going to fail.

My day job is computer and server support. I see it regularly. I preach it. I preach it to my users well enough that the last couple of major failures the users understood that they had failed to be responsible for their data and that it was gone. Let's consider the possibilities.

1. The hard drive just fails.
2. The laptop gets dropped and the hard drive fails.
3. The laptop has a cup of coffee/tea/water/vodka spilled on it and the hard drive fails.
4. The laptop or computer gets stolen.
5. The computer gets a ransomware virus and every data file gets encrypted.

That last one happened to a user this week and she lost everything.

So, here is some advice. Backup. Here's some detailed advice. Buy a external hard drive large enough to hold three times as much information as all your files. Don't worry about Windows or whatever operating system you are using or the programs. That's easily replaced. It's your files, pictures, and documents you want to save.

The drive you buy may come with backup software, if so and you like it, it may be fine. If not, there is a freeware program called Cobian. I use it. You can set it up to do backups on a schedule, pick what folders and files you want to backup, and pick a location to store them, in this case, your new external drive.

If you want the expanded detailed advice, here it is. Backup once a week, at least once a month, and accept that every day that goes by increases the amount of data you will lose.

If you really care about the data (think photos and video) buy two external drives. Rotate the backups to another location so that if the house burns down you aren't thinking about running in to grab the computer. So that if one of the external drives fails, you still have one backup.

If all of this seems like nonsensical gibberish, it's time to learn more about the technology we all use or pay someone to help you set it up. Because all hard drives fail.

There's an existential question I ask people when I am harping on this topic providing training on backups, "Where does data go when the only copy in the universe is destroyed?"

UPDATE [Borepatch] 31 October 2014 14:31: This is a really, really important post by ASM826. Computers are cheap and easily replaced; data is precious and literally irreplaceable.  He and I were talking on the phone when he brought this up, and I asked him to post about it.  If you do not have a backup plan in place (or heck, even if you do*) run, do not walk to get Cobian or something.  I've never met anyone whose data didn't have any value.  ASM826 does this for a living; I trust him on this.

* The comparison to firearms is apt: two is one, and one is none.  If you only have one backup method, you actually don't have any.

Halloween reminder

No child has ever died from poisoned Halloween candy.

Quick update

I can put socks on all my myself now (just like a big boy!), and I've cut way back on the pain meds: none yesterday, and going to shoot for none today.  Maybe this weekend I'll try driving.

Wolfgang hates it that I can't throw a stick or a ball for him, but he keeps me good company anyway.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Hat tip: Counting Cats in Zanzibar.

The lure of "Sudden Jihaddi Syndrome"

Over at Gormogons, Confucius ponders deeply on the basic failures of the current Western Intellectual "Elites" that are feeding the Jihad mill.  Here's a sample:
First, the secular religion which rules the West is great if you’re at the top of the social pyramid. Not having to worry about the morality or purpose of your life is a manageable problem if you’re vacationing in Vail, drinking really good Cabernet (and getting your legislators to legalize weed for you), and using your new tablet to streaming Cosmos and Bill Maher yukking it up over the rubes back in Des Moines (Like you, Dad! See, I’m in New York now! I’m important!). However, for the folks down the pyramid, a world defined by “lifestyle choices” in which they’re condemned to second- and third-class options—and are acutely conscious thereof—is a cruel, embittering joke.
This is very strong stuff, and you should read the whole thing.

My First Press

When I was first learning to reload, I bought an RCBS RockChucker kit. I still use it for all my single stage reloading. I expect that I could pass it on and generations to follow could use it. It's well built, simple, there's nothing in the press to go wrong. I have loaded thousands of rounds on this press. Everything from 9mm to 8mm Mauser. It's not fast, it's reliable, easy to adjust, and once set up, every case comes out the same.

NotClauswitz left a comment on my Lee 1000 post mentioning an add-on for the RockChucker called a Piggyback II conversion kit. I had never heard of this, but it's an assembly that sisters onto a RockChucker to make it a progressive press. 

Here's the set-up instructions in PDF. Here's what it looks like sitting on the press.

I don't know how easy this would be to set up and use. But NotClauswitz is offering to give me the one he has, so that might be a clue. RCBS has stopped making them, that might be another. 

Anyone else using one of these? Is it trouble or a great way to make ammo?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Looking In Every Case

Steven Kupillas left a comment about preferring a single stage press because, among other things, he's loading one at a time and looking in every case.

I agree with the looking in every case part. You can never just believe powder came out of the hopper. Never. Not with any powder delivery system.

If there were 4 Rules for Reloading,  one of them would be said, "Every case is always empty."

If Moses had gotten the 10 Commandments of Reloading on the mountain, it would be enshrined, "Thou shall look at the powder in every case, least thou have a squib."

I have a small LED lamp with a flexible gooseneck. Whatever press I am using, I set that light to shine in the case where I look into it just before setting a bullet on it. I do this on every case.

If I'm using the single stage and throwing powder into rows of cases in a loading block, I pass them all under a light and look in each one before I set the bullets on them.

To do other is to invite Murphy to go to the range.

Lee 1000 Replies

Your replies were just about what I expected. I have a turret press, currently set up for 5.56NATO and on that I do just what Dave H. suggests. Priming is done away from from the press with an RCBS priming tool like this one. I really like this tool, it's reliable and quick.
I do a coffee can's worth of brass at a time, doing all them one step, then all of the next. Throwing powder and seating bullets done together, of course. This works well and I keep that press set up for that caliber.

Decapping and priming could certainly be done separately and primed cases fed into the Lee 1000 to be sized with no decapping pin in the die. It means handling them 2 extra times, so I'm not sure if that would be faster. I may keep on fiddling with the priming system. Maybe I'll be the guy that comes up with a fix.

Europe craters

Remember how people used to say that at least the Germans would make communism work?  Seems they can't make capitalism work, either:
Third, wholly botched energy reforms, wherein Germany abruptly turned away from nuclear power without putting anything economically sustainable in its place (instead touting that some day, somehow wind and solar will make economic sense) has left the country at a permanent, seemingly long-term economic disadvantage that simply cannot be overcome. German energy prices are fully three times as high industrially as those of their American competitors. As I say to my somewhat nervous German colleagues, "You are all talented, but you are not three times more talented than the Americans".
The punch line?  All the other countries in the Eurozone are worse off than Germany.

Via Al Fin, who has some other interesting thoughts.

Link dump

Can you "hunker down" until the police arrive, or outrun an active shooter?  No.

European Union agrees to cut carbon emissions by 40% in 15 years.  Expect more European companies to build factories here in the USA.

UK police overestimate number of firearms lost or stolen:
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has claimed that more legally owned firearms were lost or stolen over the last few years than appears to be the case, according to an exclusive analysis by The Register.

The discrepancy casts doubt on a new initiative pillorying gun owners for being careless about gun security.
Security is so bad on "keyless entry" automobiles that they are uninsurable in the UK.  Oops.

Lee 1000

If you reload Because you reload, you know about presses. Whether you have ever used a Lee 1000 or not, you probably know what a Lee 1000 looks like. It's red, lightweight, and generally made up of plastic and aluminum, with a bit of steel to hold it together. It is not a press for someone who wants to just pull the lever and make ammo. It's a cheap press designed for a tinkerer. I am that guy.

I can tolerate it. I keep spares of the plastic gears and cams. I have set one Lee 1000 up to do .45ACP and I don't change it. It stays in .45 with adjustments for different bullets or powder changes being the only planned changes to the configuration. Even so, it is not without it's quirks. It was old when I got it and came to me in pieces in a box.

The biggest issue, the ongoing issue, is feeding primers. If I ever get it where it just feeds primers, doesn't tip them over, tip them sideways, fail to feed them, or jam them up under the shellplate, I will be able to double my production rate. I read the tips in the forums, I watch the videos on YouTube, I keep it clean, I keep it lubed. What I mostly do is load at a slow deliberate pace, and as I see the next case go by the plastic tab that releases the next primer, I pause, seeing the primers move in the feeder before I complete the cycle.

Ideas are welcome. Suggesting that I splash the press off a pier and buy a Dillon is an idea. Paying for a Dillon is another idea. Let's pretend I am keeping the Lee for sentimental reasons and would just like it to feed primers. Any of you have a Lee 1000? That you use regularly? Does it just feed primers and give you no problems?

Here's an interesting video. One of the things I liked was when he turned the camera to show one of the mods and you can see the cases of food he has stored in the background.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Oh, crap

Now what do I do?

The thought for today: sunshine and kittens

Because everyone loves sunshine:

And kittens:

UPDATE: more kittens here.

9,650 days

I got married that many days ago.  Today our divorce decree gets finalized.  9,650 becomes the final tally.

This has been quite an odd journey, and looks to continue odd for some time.  But as one door closes another opens.  Possibilities emerge where there were none.  The road whispers*, even if it's just on a Honda ...

* Err, once the bones are done healing ...

Kids these days ...

Abstruse Goose delivers.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ebola Question

I have a question. If ebola doesn't live more than a few days outside the body, why don't they just seal up the houses and apartment and wait a week? Why do they need to rip everything out to the sheetrock and put it in barrels? Hmmmm.

I would be posting a lot more on this topic, but Aesop over at Raconteur Report has been banging on ebola, the response to ebola, and teh stupid being exhibited by all and sundry. He has weeks worth of posts and I don't think he's missed a stroke. One of his latest is worth perusing, he called it "the Daily Beatdown of Reality." Then work your way back and think about it.

Fish for dinner

Seen on vacation.  The heron was like a statue, then lightening fast.

ISIS and the failure of the Western Left

The number of young westerners (especially young western girls) who join ISIS demonstrates the failure of today's left:
I would argue that, even if young people in Europe feel a void, they still wouldn’t run off to join ISIS if leftist rhetoric were different. If our society was still heavily Christian, the predominant view would be that it would be sinful to join such a group. If it were Buddhist, it would be that joining such a group would produce bad karma. Under communism with religion regarded as the opiate of the people, it is hard to imagine anyone joining ISIS. A leftism purged of the nonsense of cultural relativism, multiculturalism, and Islamophilia would also be strongly against a group like ISIS. Moreover, with its general support for underdogs, the left would strongly propel people toward helping the Kurds and not ISIS. It is because the left has the particular character it does these days that young people think that joining ISIS is a reasonable thing to do.
Fortunately this will bite Europe sooner and harder than it will bite us.  Thanks, Euros!

Travel broadens your horizons

Err, or not.

As someone who's relatively very well traveled, all I can say is screw the rest of the world.

Philosopher Kings

House of Lords Drone committee chairwoman is shocked to discover that Google Maps shows a picture of her rose garden.

We can expect the highest quality, well thought out public policy with these fine people in charge ...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Picture of the year

White gun nut unrepentant after shooting down minority youth.  #StopTheHate:

Damn Canadian racists ...

Camille Saint-Saëns - Danse Macabre

The Dance of Death
Halloween is later this week, which means we need classical music with a spooky edge.  Fortunately, that's not hard to come by - you just have to get a little more adventurous with composer selection.  And quite frankly, it's hard to gt more adventurous than Camille Saint-Saëns, the late romantic French composer.  He was a child prodigy, possessed perfect pitch, and more importantly had the mind of a polymath: in addition to his many musical compositions he published scientific papers on the acoustics of ancient Roman amphitheaters, wrote the first score for a motion picture, and sailed through the newly completed Panama Canal to conduct an orchestra in San Francisco.

This piece is based on a poem by Henri Cazalis, from a very old French superstition.  Each year Death appears at midnight on Halloween and summons the dead to rise and dance while he plays his fiddle.  The piece opens with a harp playing a single note, repeated twelve times: the clock striking midnight.  The E Flat and A violin chords that follow are sometimes called the "Devil's chords".  The piece is spooky and vigorous all the way through until the end, when the music quietens to a pianissimo as the dead return to their tombs as dawn breaks.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Allison Kraus and Union Station - Ghost In This House

This is the weekend before Halloween, and so music calls for ghostly and supernatural.  Fortunately this is pretty easy since country music has a ton of great songs on the subject.  This is an old Shenandoah song redone in the usual amazing way by Allison Kraus and Union Station.

Ghost In This House (Songwriter: Hugh Prestwood)
I don't pick up the mail
I don't pick up the phone
I don't answer the door
I'd just as soon be alone
I don't keep this place up
I just keep the lights down
I don't live in these rooms
I just rattle around

I'm just a ghost in this house
I'm just a shadow upon these walls
As quietly as a mouse, I haunt these halls
I'm just a whisper of smoke
I'm all that's left of two hearts on fire
That once burned out of control
And took my body and soul
I'm just a ghost in this house

I don't mind if it rains
I don't care if it's clear
I don't mind staying in
There's another ghost here
She sits down in your chair
And she shines with your light
And she lays down her head
On your pillow at night

I'm just a ghost in the house
I'm just a shell of the man I was
A living proof of the damage heartbreak does
I'm just a whisper of smoke
I'm all that's left of two hearts on fire
That once burned out of control
And took my body and soul
I'm just a ghost in this house

I'm just a ghost in this house
I'm just a shadow upon these walls
As quietly as a mouse, I haunt these halls
I'm just a whisper of smoke
I'm all that's left of two hearts on fire
That once burned out of control
And took my body and soul
I'm just a ghost in this house