"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

New Info

Yahoo, in their infinite wisdom, has made itself unusable for reliable e-mail.
New e-mail:
Of course I still check the Yahoo account. They just suck for the day-to-day stuff.

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov

Brand New Steam Donkey

Brand New Steam Donkey
Tacoma Logging Equipment, hauled by a Kelly Springfield log truck.
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Monday, August 31, 2015

A tale of two 2X6's or - We don't grow 'em like we used to

 In 1987 I bought a house, a dirt-cheap shitbox, 31739 C. G. Lorane Rd. (Folks with a better computer than mine - ie everybody - can probably look at a picture).
Anyway, bought the joint on a land-sales contract for $25,000. I said shitbox.
During the seventeen years that I owned the property, I did much remodeling and ultimately sold it for $125,500 (!!!) in 2004.
These two chunks of wood represent two different generations of Oregon framing lumber as well as two distinct periods of my remodeling.
The top one was original to the house which was built in 1947 or so. The smaller piece dates from some work I'd done circa 1989-ish.
Same species. Douglas Fir, God's most perfect structural lumber. Hell, they may have come from the same hillside although forty years apart.
Let's have a look at the older of the two:
At about the mid-point of this cross-section, the growth rigs represent roughly fifty years of growth - all compressed into an inch-and-a-half.
Contrast that with the newer one which made the same amount of fragile, weak timber all in the space of six years.
Which is the stronger chunk?
Paradoxically, if we were talking about oak, the fast grown one would be the stronger. Doug fir isn't a ring-porous species so it's different and we're not talking about oak anyway.

This is the tree that the entire Pacific Northwest was covered with until we avaricious, industrial humans ("Human" being used loosely) decided that they all needed to be mowed down 'cause Progress.
It wasn't about "the poor little spotted owl" or any such bullshit. It was greed,plain and simple.

The stronger of those two chunks of wood represents, in the eyes of the timber industry, an "over-ripe tree". Read: We could have made money off this two-hundred years ago. WTF?
Thing is: In the '80's these swine were busy cutting down the big trees and sending lots of them to Japan for the construction of tea houses many of them as raw logs ("Colonies are the only ones that export raw materials").
Full marks to the Japanese for recognizing superior timber. You can still get it. It's just called VG fir (Vertical Grain) and has nothing like the densely packed growth rings that this 1947, lumberyard 2x6 had.
In our hall of shame we have to mention Murphy Logging. They were busted in the '80's for selling raw logs overseas beyond their quota.
Fucked up but my favorite thing about them is the bumper sticker I saw on a Murphy crummy a few years back:
"Clear-cut it and burn the damned thing!"
With the Murphy Co. trademark shamrock.
Classy - like Donald Trump.
No need to freak out though. They grow back. It just takes four-hundred years or so.
Americans are nothing if not patient and we can wait.

No - we can't but we weren't always this stupid and short-sighted.
Take those stodgy Brits.
Oxford's New College (Founded 1379) has a dining hall with a roof supported by oak beams two feet square and forty feet long.
In the 1860's it was discovered that the beams were riddled with the burrows of powder-post beetle larva. Not surprising but what could they do?
Turned out that Oxford University had, on property it owned, oak trees of sufficient size to replace the spongy oak beams. They weren't even planted on purpose for the project. They just happened to be there.
I'm ready to rant so I should rein it in now.

To the left, please find: A time line covering the fifty-some years it took for our Truman era board to grow that inch-and-a-half of thickness.
Of course the dates are bogus.
The arc of the rings says that this stick wasn't anywhere near the inner - or outer portion of the log. As opposed to the modern version where the pith of the log is included (which makes it unstable and prone to split but... PROFITS!)
So, in all likelihood my chronology could easily be two-hundred years off but it still represents half a century of growth and a chunk of time that we can't wait because... big house! Toilet paper!
We need this stuff and it's just growing out of the ground.
Be a shame to waste it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Trolling, Trolling Over The Bounding Main

"I'm busting, Jerry. I'm busting"
George Costanza

Got some Facebook buddies dating from my past in Montana that have been waxing stupid re Muslims, the world, reality and of course, the internet.
One re-posted someone's stupid photo of a Muslim institution supposedly wanting to destroy America.
Dumbasses didn't know that it came from this wonderful website.
I went there and made my own to counter it. The result is below.
Well, mistakes were made, time was wasted by someone with too much of it (Buy some knives, Damn it) because it was major fun.
My other trolling efforts follow.
Feel free to rip them off.
Bit 'o arcana there.
Trolling at its best.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Lightening the load.

My load specifically. To that end I'm having a house-cleaning sale. Everything must go!
Everything on this page that is.
Check  it out. You may find something you can't be without.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Buy one here!  With a trailer! Adorable.
This was a wonder of WW2 engineering that I completely glossed-over in my hit-and-miss diatribe on the Deuce-and-a-half earlier. Sorry.
To make up, this is about every one's dream party-boat, the DUKW.
It'd be nice to imagine that this handy acronym meant something - and, since it also sounded kind of like "Duck" - and that some poor Nobody at the acronym dept. had to come up with a tac/term (tactical terminology. I just made that up) to designate a seagoing truck.
No, this was corporate America's terminology and we'll fall victim to the incredible nomenclature system used by GMC later on.
GMC sent this particular truck on its way designated as follows:
  • "D", designed in 1942
  • "U", "utility"
  • "K", all-wheel drive
  • "W", dual rear axles
That's almost an acronym for "duck". Close enough.
Besides, "duck" rhymes with "truck".
Fuck! It writes itself.
In its simplest terms, it was just a standard, Army 6X6, a GMC, CCKW.  Follow that link to further unravel the GMC code (Hint: It's alphabetical).
The duck was just one of those but with a boat built around it.
And not one of those "Hey look at me, amphibious-convertions that would swamp in a heavy dew - like those D-day "floating Shermans" which were hampered, not only by their weight - 30 ton-ish - but also by the fact they were a tank (Sort of) first and a boat (A poor one) second.
its dubious ability to navigate water was a sorry-ass band-aid.

The duck was the real deal.
Ripped from the pages of Wiki:

"The DUKW was designed by Rod Stephens, Jr. of Sparkman & Stephens, Inc. yacht designers, Dennis Puleston, a British deep-water sailor resident in the U.S., and Frank W. Speir, a Reserve Officers' Training Corps Lieutenant from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[8] Developed by the National Defense Research Committee and the Office of Scientific Research and Development to solve the problem of resupply to units which had just performed an amphibious landing,"

I was just going to say that.
You may recall from the earlier deuce-and-a-half discussion, that the prototype ducks were built on the chassis of the ugly/adorable AFKWX

  Embrace the koan of the GMC acronym system. Therein lies peace.
Regarding the first ducks, it seems no-one in the military was much interested in them. The big-brain thinking was more along the lines of landing craft and all the other related getting-the-stuff-to-the-beach-in-a-big-hurry hardware.
Thing was, the issue that the duck addressed - and that no one else seemed to pay any attention to - was this:  Here was a vehicle that could be loaded directly off a ship - anchored several miles offshore - and could be loaded to the the tune of 5000 pounds-worth ("GMC, We are professional grade"). 
It could then could take said cargo and motor it into shore, over any reefs, seawalls... whatever. Then, without a pause - hereby bypassing the place where guys customarily were blown up transferring shit from ship to shore - continue into the back country as far as you'd want to go because... it's a truck. 
It's a deuce-and-a-half.
The  question of seaworthiness was the big one but it was proved out early in the game and the incident concerned pretty much settled the issue.
A USCG patrol craft had found itself grounded on a sandbar near Provincetown, Massachusetts. 
60 knot winds and heavy surf kept any conventional craft away and rescuing the grounded crew was proving to be a head-scratcher. 
Now, this was a vessel of the saltiest of America's services. Nobody deals with the big ocean in little boats like the Coasties do and they would most certainly have gotten their lads back on land...   It just turned out, they didn't have to.
Apparently this fella, Rod Stephens (mentioned earlier) knew which was the pointy end when he'd undertaken to built a boat/Halloween-costume for the butt-ugly AFKWX.
I seems that one of these early Ducks happened to be tooling around in the same area as our hapless Coasties and... saved the day. 
From then on, the Duck was a go project.
They exist in the here and now. Someone, please buy them and save from the tourists.

Lest any think that the saltiness factor spoken of in the above story may have been an anomaly, go here:
The Ducks, they got around...
Dong their thing, ship to shore.
And sometimes hot-shit personages would avail themselves of the Duck's wonderful versatility.

Visiting the Normandy beachhead are General Marshall, General Eisenhower, and Admiral King (all holding the rail in the DUKW), 12 June 1944.  
Here's a Brit DUKW transporting American troops across a French river a few months past D-Day.
The last big operation in Europe where the Ducks were instrumental was the crossing of the Rhine into Germany at the end of March 1945.
370 DUKWs were used in this operation moving men and supplies.
How about the other side of the world.
Like Burma, here with the Brits again.
We'll close with an action shot - and the question: Why can't we make anything simple, reliable and functional anymore?
Somewhere in the Pacific. A Duck coming in with both fore and aft splash-guards up.
 They call them "surf boards" in this video, which is some Army PR schtick but some good tips if you've got twenty minutes to kill.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Presidents and Pretenders

The man who would be president:
Ted Cruz, Douchebag, Texas.
Now I know that our boy, Raul doesn't really rock that ink - or them pecs. He's never going to be president either but who doesn't see that coming?
In addition I assume that Ted had little to do with this poster but - I don't care.
We'll get back to Ted's bitchin' tats in a minute. First we've got to talk about a real president (That is: One who's actually had the job)
That would be "Big Bill Taft" . You know the guy, 27th president and later Chief Justice. A Republican.
It happened that, in August of 1920 his house in New Haven, Connecticut was broken into.
He lost a whole bunch of jewelry and bonds and - and I have no idea if this next was a big deal to him or not - the ex-prez-and-soon-to-be Chief Justice lost his Colt M1911.
I seem to recall that the pistol had been part of some presentation along with a plaque and other crap.
But I would guess that no one had ever even fired the damned thing. Before this.

Back-up a second:
Back in the day (1907) a fifteen-year-old named Carl had gotten drunk in a saloon in Montana and somehow (?) ended up in the army.
Now Carl was a fuck-up from the start having been sent to reform school at twelve where he was beat all to hell.
Now, three years later he's in the army and by the end of calender year 1908 he's in jail. Leavenworth.
Three years for larceny, a sentence  which happened to have been approved by then Secretary of War, William Howard Taft.
Realistically it was probably one of a stack of identical forms that Bill signed in a day's time so it's probably coincidence but the miscreant who'd made off with Mrs. Taft's gimcracks and Bill's sweet, sweet pistol (NIB!) just happened to have been our same troubled-youth spoken of just above.
Carl was most definitely a fucked-up individual but I doubt he'd singled Taft out in particular since by 1920 he'd have had a whole dossier of former jailers to choose from.
But what a sweet weapon - and he had to have known that it belonged to Taft.
So, he went about "offing" folks with Big Bill's piece for around ten years.
He'd scored pretty well on the rest of the loot as well so he bought a boat and lured folks (guys - not into chicks) onto it to crew for him. Then he would rape them and shoot them with Taft's gun.
What an unpleasant fucker. He was hanged in 1930 and his last request went as follows:

"Yes, hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could kill a dozen men while you're screwing around!"

Some possessed of a morbid sensibility may already know of Carl Panzram.
We're not going to argue Carl's morality of the state of his immortal soul, he's just here so I can draw attention to something.
Our boy, Raul up there was rocking some sick ink that; A. Wasn't real. Sorry, Ted. nobody's buying.
B. Had its precedents in the modren world.
Check out Carl's tats:
Oh yeah.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Stupid Flanges!

Those damned flanges.
You'll recall; last time I mentioned that Dr. Konrad Spindler described the sides of Otzi's axe as having been worked into "three facets"...
Pictured above is how I interpreted that.
No, the vise is only for the photo-op. That's not how the flanges were raised. I did that by tap-tap-tapping with a light hammer while moving the piece about on the horn of the anvil until I got the amount of overhang I thought sufficient.
I think that's maybe what the old boy was after.
Otzi is interesting because he met his untimely end at an odd point in history. Copper had been exploited and worked with extreme sophistication for some time prior but a pure copper axe bit would be too soft to be useful - except in the land of the warm-butter-trees.
However, Otzi's chunk of copper was worked by people who seemed to know what they were doing so apparently they'd been making these taffy axes for some time. By then they must have worked most of the bugs out. 
My wild-ass conjecture (WAC) vis-a-vis the origin of those - oh so useful - flanges is that they may have just been a happy accident.
Pictured above: A "flat copper axe" from the "early bronze-age".
Hey, that's where Otzi was located (roughly) on the time line.
WAC to the rescue: The above axe would not only shift around in its bindings and then ultimately work loose, it would also suffer some bending action, if it were to be used with alacrity.
These guys had to have been clued-up by now that copper gets harder the more you pound it which can make the hardness and therefore usefulness of the metal (At the edge - For instance) actually functional in everyday life, not just in the toast-infested, soft-butter forests.
The limb I've chosen to go out on - and no, you can't come along - is this:
An effort to stiffen the neck of the axe by hammering it from the sides would have, not only necked-down the profile, it would have raised-up flanges as well - inadvertently.
Which - it seems reasonable to assume - were found to go a good distance toward keeping the bit of the axe from wandering about in its hafting. Or they beat the sides down just to raise these handy flanges and, hey - presto - the whole blade is stiffer. It's a chicken/egg thing.
Okay, our Bro Otzi, we can see was no caveman - and probably carried the shit that was the state-of-the-art five-thousand years ago. It's just that his period, the Chalcolithic  - which means: Kinda like bronze-age but still in the stone-age.
Most of Otzi's stuff - in the tool department - was stone - or bone. The only exception was the axe. Anyway, points to ponder.
Moving on; Otzi's particular "stone-metal-age" didn't last long. Someone soon found out that you can mix different metals into the copper and make it... different.
Bronze, Otzi's metal, with just the addition of a tiny bit of tin or zinc, would not only pour and cast much more readily, it would do so at a (slightly) lower temperature and, when all is said and done, be harder than pure copper. And it could be work-hardened further to boot.
So once folks caught on to the idea that certain other metals can improve the whole operation, copper axes were a thing of the past and the idea of pounding on the metal of your axehead to change its shape??
Totally chalcolithic.
But check out the brandy-new (comparatively) bronze axeheads that followed.
See them - picture above? Flanges. Cast-in-place flanges. You don't leave an idea behind that works.
This latest photo is of a middle-bronze-age axe from England.
In time, it's about as close to Otzi as - we are to Charlemagne nowadays so lotsa' know-how had accumulated by that time.
The hafting flanges get more and more elaborate as time goes on. You'll notice there's a stop that's been cast in the area between to prevent splitting the haft if it's driven down too far.
This thing is a piece of work. You can see it was obsessively put together regarding the working of the head back into the handle.
We've still got our flanges and they join together to form a little stirrup for the forked bits of the handle to lodge securely WITHOUT RUNNING THE RISK OF SPLITTING OUT THE FORK!
Was I shouting? I hadn't realized.
They had the impact thing pretty well wired but retention went south - or west... It would have depended on whichever way you were facing when your high-dollar axehead took off into the brush.
It would have/must have happened because of the sad development that accompanied it.
Pictured next: the same axe as before but with the embarrassing truth revealed. Here's my question:   Otzi didn't invent his axe. It was a product of centuries of experimentation - as was every axe that's come along since.  So, if this concept has been so thoroughly tweaked during the fifteen centuries or so between Otzi's axe and this one, why do we find a sophisticated axe - "state of the art" you could say - the latest thing...  and it's got that little loop cast into it? So you can tether it like a dog??
Okay, here's where I sputter incoherently:
"Flying off the handle". Clear to everyone - and apparently clear to our predecessors as well. Otzi must have been worried that the precious, copper raison d'etre of his axe could just fly away, anytime, on some random backswing. A real worry. So why, fifteen-hundred years later, when the bronze age is winding down, do they come up with this sorry-ass fix when the problem is something else altogether.
Have you noticed that, up to now, all the axes we've looked at had a straight head and and depended on a right-angle limb-trunk connection?
Wiki provides no date for the above but it was excavated in Scotland and I'm assuming that it and Otzi are roughly concurrent wouldn't be too great a stretch.
So, why do they keep hamstringing themselves with this need to find something so fiddly when you could just put a hole through the head - of the axe of course.
That's why we won't be revisiting Otzi's axe for a time as I've got to look around in the woods for the perfect piece of vine maple or dogwood or something else stout - anything with the all-important, ninety-degree bend but we shall reconvene.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Iceman Choppeth

Okay, phase two. After the fortuitous events leading to my melting contaminated (Tin and antimony) copper and the resultant, resounding success I chose to accept my sorry luck and pursued the idea.
Pictured above: two that you've seen and two you haven't. On the far left, my original wooden pattern that you last saw keeping my beer company. Second from the right is the copper casting seen at the close of the post previous after having been cleaned-up and "worked".
And work it I did. See, my man Konrad reckoned, and I think correctly, that the maker of Otzi's axe had peened in the two, long sides which not only gave it a sexy shape but also raised the two flanges you see on the surface. Told you last time to remember the flanges.
See, the layout was as pictured. The butt-end of the blade is glued into a cleft cut into the wood and the whole mess is then wrapped in rawhide.
Being that this is a striking tool, there's no brain-strain in seeing how handy those flanges were in the finished product. We'll talk about flanges again.
Back to the top picture; you'll notice my first pattern, far left, was made with a certain amount of the sexy curve down both sides already in place. Mistake. It made the entire thing too skinny as you can see, so...
Second from the left; my new pattern. Everything is beefed-up a bit to allow for metal shrinkage and, most importantly, other than the slight curve on the cutting edge, the shape is a straight-sided trapezoid.
The end result is the little spud you see both at the end of the line-up above - and below.
I melted some more wire to up my purity level so I was blessed with a casting flaw. It appears to be a slag inclusion. Nothing to make a song about.
So, I took the chunk pictured above (Weighs just under half a pound) and worked down the two sides.
Now, there she is above. On the original, Konrad wrote the two sides had been worked down into three "facets" which I take to mean; the flat surface of the side with a slope hammered into it along each edge. The beauty part is that it raises the flanges even more.
Notice above, post hammering the surface seems to have hives. Those appear to be blisters (bubbles?) which I assume means some impurity in the metal showing up as a plane of weakness when the copper was compressed. Still naught to make a song about.
Gratuitous, hot-metal shot.
I'd been worried that my beating had over-hardened it so I annealed it and beat on it some more.
One more glam shot of Otzi's axe, just after quenching.
More about the flanges later.

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