January 2004 | FEBRUARY 2004 | March 2004

STS-107 Mission PatchSTS-107 Mission Patch 1 February 2003 - STS-107 - OV-102 Columbia
Rick D. Husband - William C. McCool - Michael P. Anderson
David M. Brown - Kalpana Chawla - Laurel B. Clark - Ilan Ramon

297 - Sunday, 1 February 2004: Zzzz.... (Hey, I worked the last three Saturdays! And a Sunday in there somewhere too!)

That other job offer has fallen through but may return later. Eh, I have a job.

Departing for Clark Rifles about 11am, tire chains on board. Taking 25 rounds new Power-Shok and ten rounds old Hi-Shok Federal #8A, 40 rounds Power-Shok remaining for match on 7th.

Nice day, partly cloudy, not as cold, dry roads. Arrived 11:30, no snow. Oh! Forgot ground mat for prone shooting! Eh, I'll just confirm my sight settings from the bench, using hands & elbows as usual instead of artificial supports.

Lower range, lane 2. Shorty AR (plugs & muffs!) on 5, pre-Ban (!) M1A on 9, both packed up while I was waiting for a target break.

Two SR1 at 100 yards. R/O expresses concern about shots on upper target striking berm, starting with newer Power-Shok ammunition which the MojoMauser should still be sighted-in for. Pigskin gloves against the cold. Surplus field jacket tighter than it used to be - across chest and shoulders, ha.

Firing pairs to conserve ammunition, starting on upper target. Of the first pair, one way left, another touching the 10 ring. Fouling shot? Three rounds now at same target - weird. One next to my supposed fouling shot, one enlarging the hole touching the 10, one touching X. Hm.

1 February 2004: MojoMauser, five rounds Federal 8A Power-Shok, 100 yards benchrest

Lower target, burning up the older Hi-Shok to free up the brass, and just to get warmed up. Recalling last session, it should go high and right with my usual center hold. Pairs again - yup, 7 ring high & right, 9 ring high touching. Again - high 7, touching 10. Huh? Again - high 8, less than an inch apart, that's more like it - but why aren't they going right? Another pair in the same neighborhood, 8 and 9. Last pair of the old stuff, mixed in with the rest. Okay, I can group with this beat-up old Mauser.

1 February 2004: MojoMauser, ten rounds Federal 8A Hi-Shok, 100 yards benchrest

About 12:20. Twenty rounds new Power-Shok left, want fresh targets, ten rounds each. Upper target, pairs - left 9, X. Allrightythen.

Continue with pairs. 10 low and left, one in, one touching. Just outside the 9 left, touching 10 left. Hm, a bit of windage? Or a bit of wind?

Another pair. Low 9, left 8, hm. Thumb bopping nose a little, lay it alongside the stock instead of across the tang, like the veterans do with their ‘03 Springfields, which are little more than Mauser patent infringements. Recoil well under control with these weak commercial loads, no cheek-smacking since I took the aftermarket stuff off the butt. Another pair - huh. 7 left and a bit low, 9 about the same.

1 February 2004: MojoMauser, ten rounds Federal 8A Power-Shok, 100 yards benchrest

Dig out hex wrench from wallet, ¼ turn right. Two rounds on lower target - touching 9 high, touching 10 low and right. Two rounds - 9 low & right, 8 left. Getting tired? Impatient? Still want a better trigger. Two rounds - no... I've got a feeling.

Six rounds. Hah! All in the black, mostly 10s, one touching X. The MojoMauser is ready for the match! And so am I. Retrieved targets, left about 1:15.

1 February 2004: MojoMauser, ten rounds Federal 8A Power-Shok, 100 yards benchrest

Well. Better than last trip, but I should have practiced in positions. Must get dry practice in prone, sitting and standing during the week. Had to return the 1935 USMC manual to the library, someone else wanted it - I've still got Cooper's The Art of the Rifle, and Fred's Guide.

398 - Monday, 2 February 2004: Shared my concerns about my putative backup's lack of energy. Supervisor said I shouldn't use myself as a benchmark - used the word "exceptional." Blush.

Now I've got the scanned targets up for yesterday's entry.

While talking with Woodworker Saturday, scheduled a pistol-grip work session for next Sunday. I think I'll have him finish the Dragoon first, so I can try it out.

Bought another gallon of xylene, aka xylol. Fingers crossed.

399 - Tuesday, 3 February 2004: Slightly less than half a tank, dumped another quart of xylene into the car before departing for work.

Had a shouting match today with one of the solderers, who in my opinion is a rude arrogant lazy greedy selfish wasteful person. Supervisor will meet with me about it tomorrow.

I am so tired of stupid lazy worthless people. "They're everywhere you go," I am told. If that's the case, if the majority of people are so stupid, should we bother with representative government and the rule of law? Should we return to rule by force and royal decree, succession by blood? I reject that notion. There's got to be a decent job with decent people out there somewhere.

Victor Bock having "Take This Tax and Shove It Day" on his radio program. Some newspaper columnist wrote an article, which Bock read on-air, titled "Democracy has gone too far" or suchlike, bemoaning the fact that we peasants had the opportunity to vote on whether the bloated, wasteful government gets to steal even more of our hard-earned wages. Something about how our valuable legislators should not be "bothered" or "distracted" or "interrupted in their important work" by the people who elected them with things like this referendum - that they should only be held accountable for their performance at election time.

Um... I've never actually read Mein Kämpf, but am familiar with some of its points. Isn't that columnist's notion disturbingly close to the führerprinzip, the Leader Principle, the idea that whoever is in charge should be obeyed unquestioningly until he's no longer in charge? And there's Democrat Governor Kulongoski who stated he did not want the democratic process to be applied. This is why I still vote for the occasional Republican. I know the jackasses are out to get me. I mean, I know the words to MacDonough's Song, but this is not what Kipling meant. Dig the early books in Weber's Honor Harrington series - the Republic of Haven, the Legislaturalists, the Dolists, the People's Republic of Haven....

Failed DEQ again! Maybe I need more xylene, I neglected to add more before departing work. Drove all the way across town before testing so the converter should have been warm enough. Auto parts store website says an EGR valve is ~$85, plus a couple bucks for the associated gasket. There's an economy model for $37, hm. I wonder if one of those from U-Pull-It would work? Or maybe just pull the one I have and clean the heck out of it?

At least I got the rent and bills caught up....

Woodworker says I should have put a bunch of xylene in all at once, on about half a tank of fuel, will do that tomorrow.

400 - Wednesday, 4 February 2004: Not in very much trouble over the shouting match. Also I seem to have really impressed someone with my performance. What? You mean hard work is rare these days?

Um, well, yeah, that's what I've been complaining about, but I didn't think it was that rare....

Measure 30 failed! Declarations of doom and gloom from the bloated bureaucrats, exultation from normal citizens. Sheriff Giusto wailing about having to release prisoners. Socialists wailing about having to cut "services." Of course they won't cut their benefits, their tax-paid cell phones and tax-paid tailored uniforms and tax-paid SUVs.

Brought the fuel up to half a tank, dumped in a whole gallon of xylol - failed DEQ, by about the same margins in the same categories. Stopped by Woodworker's place, the problem is now beyond his expertise, he recommended a mechanic, I'll call tomorrow. Gods know what all that will cost, and with no overtime until further notice, I'm down to under $300 a week.

With a car, I can reach a DMV Express before it closes, got trip permit. It's always sumthin'. Just when I get used to having a car and a little extra money.... No donations to OFF or GOA or JPFO or SAF or the Liberty Committee or the Constitution Society anytime soon.

Argh, haven't been doing dry practice for the match, no time after running around doing car stuff! I believe NRA Sporting Rifle rules preclude the use of a sling when firing standing, I'll look it up again. Wish I had dummy cartridges, the rapid-fire stage is single-loaded, and chargers are excluded besides, as I recall. Do they make drill rounds in 7.92x57mm? Do the Capstick thing, cartridges between the fingers of the support hand - two sighters followed by a four-round string. Or maybe put the cartridge carrier back on the butt, that shouldn't change the stock geometry too much. Maybe around the wrist of the support arm. Actually such things are made for that purpose but I won't buy one until I get my car fixed - and it would probably itch anyway.

Okay, doing a little dry practice, especially standing. The handout from the match director says slings are allowed, nothing about not being allowed in standing. Fingertips on magazine floorplate, thumb against trigger guard, not using sling. Cooper doesn't think so but I find the hasty sling an aid when firing standing. Will have to look up official rules from NRA. Also, somewhere in the hovel is a recent issue of RifleShooter magazine, with an article by David Tubb, currently the Dale Earnhardt of highpower rifle, where he writes about the natural point of aim, which I'm still working on, but at least I know what the heck it is. Will probably use cross-legged sitting position, still haven't stretched myself into the open-legged variety. Cooper's Art of the Rifle goes into detail there, and the 1935 USMC manual had good pictures.

Man, anyone who puts down target shooting as a sport for fat lazy people has never tried it. It's isometrically exhausting, even with NPoA!

A bug going around, slightly sore throat, some nasal congestion. Phooey.

401 - Thursday, 5 February 2004: Busier and busier at work. First time since I've been there that someone had to wait ‘til tomorrow to have a machine set up. Trying to train my backup but I don't think the speed is there.

On talk radio, Washington governor Locke (D, of course) wants to raise that state's sales tax by a penny, which would apparently break 10% and vie for the highest state sales tax in the nation.

Called Woodworker-recommended mechanic - did not get the people Woodworker named, was told "early next week" and advised to drop it off for diagnosis, which is not practical with work and my aversion to icky bus people. (Am I going to end up paying $500 to fix a $400 car?) That mechanic suggested another mechanic on the westside, will call or stop by later for estimates. First trip permit expires on the 25th.

402 - Saturday, 7 February 2004: Match day! Get my mind off all that other stuff for a few hours.

Arrived about 8:40am. Lane 16, far right end of the line for this match, eight lanes being used for eleven shooters, the other three will be in another relay. Intermittent rain, firing line covered including the paved area forward of the benches for prone shooting.

The elderly gentleman to my left has patches on the back of his jacket. One reads "Camp Perry 1939". Eek.

Stage One: Slow-fire Prone, 2 sighters in 2 minutes and 8 for record in 10 minutes. My score: 73/1X, 91.25%! But the SR-1 is not as challenging a target as the MR series, and wind is seldom a factor at only 100 yards.

Stage Two: Slow-fire Standing, 2 sighters in 2 minutes and 8 for record in 10 minutes. Sling not allowed as shooting aid! (Later received, from that old rifleman, tips to remove the sling, or remove the slack from it, or just hold it against the foreend with the support hand, so it won't pendulum beneath the rifle and disturb the sight picture.) My score, a disappointing, but not unexpected, 53/0X, 66.25%. Without the hasty sling I usually use, my sight picture was jumping all the heck over the target.

Now we go forward to score. The old man with the Camp Perry patch next to me only got 54 in standing, but shot 79/1X, under 2MOA, with a scoped Ruger .243 in slow-prone. The group center was high and left; if he'd been centered he'd have shot a perfect 80 for that stage, with probably three or four Xs if he needed a tiebreaker.

Take a rest while the three shooters in the second relay fire the first and second stages. Rifles seen: mainly bolt-action sporters, Ruger M77s, Remington M700s, a sporterized Mauser. A Remington 7400 semiautomatic, a stubby handgun-caliber (!) Winchester 1894 lever-action (!), one pre- and one post-ban M1A. The ‘94, the M1As and my MojoMauser were the only rifles without scopes, and those with scopes had no other sights.

Chatting, soaking up tips. Federal brass said to be softer and not preferred for extended reloading, hadn't heard that. Winchester brass considered best, had heard that.

Stage Three: Rapid-fire Sitting, 2 sighters in 2 minutes, two strings of 4 for record in 30 seconds each. Using cross-legged position, cannot stretch myself into the crossed-ankles or open-legged positions shown in Cooper's Art of the Rifle or the old USMC manual, need to work on that. My score 62/0X, 77.5%.

Stage Four: Rapid-fire Prone, I should do better here - and I did, a little, 68/0X, 85.0%. Forward again for scoring. The old Rifleman to my left shot a 79/2X, not much over 2MOA, in rapid-prone. (And a 75 in rapid-sitting.) Yipe. I later learned this man is 84 years old and is one of the charter members of the club, founded in 1960.

He placed fourth overall in the match. My total score 256/1X of a possible 320, 80.0%. Stuck around for final results and awards, not expecting anything. Overall winner is a consistently high scorer, winning the service rifle category in the P.I.G., my first match, in July, and taking third prize in the Allied category, placing just above me (1st place Axis), in the Axis vs. Allies match in November.

And... I won again! 1st of 3 in the Unclassified (as opposed to Master, etc., under NRA rules) category, 7th of 11 overall! My prize, a gift certificate from a Vancouver-area gun shop for a set of rifle reloading dies! Not as shiny as the others but I'm not complaining.

Objectively I cannot count this as an improvement - my standing is lower overall, in a smaller field, than my last match, even though the scoring rings were bigger and the distance was shorter. Also I need more work on shooting positions. Anyway I'm not using this score to figure my qualification level.

But still... three matches, three prizes. I'm starting to like this rifle-shootin' stuff.

So now I need a reloading press!

Started Tammy Bruce's The Death of Right and Wrong a couple days ago. Much of it, the (too-)thoroughly documented examples of leftist sickness, depravity, hypocrisy and malice, is so distasteful I'm actually skimming over it - but it needs to be read by anyone who feels there is something not right about America today, and purchased and kept on-hand as a useful weapon by anyone regularly contesting leftists. For example:

"There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs - partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays."

Now who do you think said that, and when? David Duke, the last time he ran for office? John Ashcroft, last week maybe?


403 - Sunday, 8 February 2004: Zzzz....

Finished (skimming through) Bruce's The Death of Right and Wrong. Eewww. That woman must have a strong stomach to have researched that book. Anybody who thinks "liberals" are caring, compassionate, tolerant and open-minded must read it - and the endnotes which back it all up, many of them with URLs for the intellectually lazy.

Starting Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World by Adrienne Mayor, which leapt off the library's New Books shelf at me. Covers 1770BC to 1300AD. Have archaeo-scientists rediscovered the formula for Greek Fire? Does it work with fresh water, or only salt water? Might be just the thing for those freeway tailgaters in soggy Oregon....

You ever wonder where Olympic events like the shotput came from? Thumbing through the book - illustrations of naphtha grenades. They weren't games, they were training. Yesterday's rifle match was, to me, rather more than a game. The prizes are nice enough by themselves - my two medals are hanging from the wall next to the blackpowder handguns, and I scanned the gift certificate for posterity before redeeming it - but I'm at least as interested in what they mean: I am developing measurable skill with a rifle. I'm afraid that's going to matter.

Put the USMC manual back on hold. It also covers handguns, which will help when I start plate matches in April. According to Clark Rifles' site they have one the last Sunday of every month but I want to at least try to practice up to speed before diving in - and I want the weather to improve too. Maybe I'll watch the one in March, or even this month if I don't have to worry about the car by then.

Stopped by Woodworker's expecting to have more work done on the Dragoon's and GP100's grips, but his thumb had an argument with a tablesaw and he's out of action for a while. Chatted about car, will stop by the place he recommended tomorrow after work. Do not want to leave car and return to icky bus people. Will make appointment for diagnosis, may do repairs myself with Haynes manual. Must get this over with.

404 - Monday, 9 February 2004: Sigh. Made appointment to drop off car Thursday after work to be worked on Friday. Bus people ick! Estimated "not over $200" for diagnosis and "if it's simple" they may fix it within that same amount. Self-described cheap bastard Cruffler suggests I get the $37 EGR valve and see what happens, but no.

Maybe I'll dig out the mountain bike to help with the commute - will keep an eye on weather forecast. Lovely weather today, temperature approaching 50°F, sunshine. That won't last.

At library, picked up Ring of Fire, a franchise anthology in the universe of 1632. Cool cover art....

Match results document in email - huh. Lost three points from what I thought I had in slow-fire prone, picked up two in rapid-prone, my score now 255/1X of 320, but my placement in the field is the same. The document also includes the NRA Sporting Rifles classification scale, based on this standard 320-point match:

Master: 300+/93.75%
Expert: 284-299/88.75%
Sharpshooter: 268-283/83.75%
Marksman: Below 268

Also it appears that after another such match, to average against, I will have an official NRA classification! Meanwhile my temporary NRA standing is "Marksman," which will be my category in the next match on March 6th. Thereafter my standing will be figured from my last 96 shot average, or three such matches not counting sighters, so if I do well in March and April.... Hm, hope my car gets fixed soon and cheaply, I want a Timney or similar aftermarket trigger for this scruffy old Mauser. -And if anyone tells you these beat-up old WWII-surplus pieces can't shoot, smack ‘em. The only thing I've changed so far is the sights, and a shim to eliminate the first stage of the original military trigger.

Nobody broke 300 in this match, though the winner did have a 291/5X. The senior Rifleman, about three times the age of the winner, had a 287/6X for fourth place - very stiff competition in the top four; if he'd had a better offhand stage he'd probably have taken first and might have broken 300. Fifth place was fourteen points down from there. First and second place shooters, according to the email, were using iron sights (one of the M1As, and probably the other one), not scopes, and were only one point apart not counting Xs. My 7th place finish was followed by three and four points (at least one of those with a scope), with the last two shooters having had a bad day. I saw one of them flinching....

Meanwhile, more of the car's rear defogger is working - so much that the multimeter is now useless and I just have to stare at every inch of every line in daylight to find and paint the breaks.

Which means the wheels will probably fall off in a couple days.

405 - Tuesday, 10 February 2004: Did taxes. Phooey.

Huh - grossed nearly $20,000 this year. Record, I think.

"Owe" $171 in Multnomah County income tax. Gonna have to save it up, but at least now I have a number.

406 - Thursday, 12 February 2004: Extremely busy at work.

You can't get good help these days. I don't wanna talk about it. [face in hands]

Dropped off car at mechanic, we'll see how good they are. Might be done tomorrow - "We try for same-day service." They have my work number.

Icky bus people. Argh.

407 - Friday, 13 February 2004: So I'm wondering why nobody told me the mechanic called. -It's because the phone system at work went down around noon. Called the mechanic on a co-worker's cell phone about 3pm.

Retrieved car from mechanic. Paid $200 diagnosis fee to learn they want to perform $1,200 of repairs to a $400 car, all to get through the official government extortion known as DEQ. "Vehicle is not in fuel control... EGR system malfunction... black debris coming out of DPFE sensor... oxygen sensor stuck at low voltage... catalytic converter failing... injector pulse low, problem with fuel delivery...."

But it runs dammit! Starts instantly when warm and in two seconds on a cold morning! If I conserve enough momentum I can climb Hwy 26 westbound, or the I-205 bridge northbound, in fourth gear!

I may just save up for another car. There, $75 set aside for DEQ, $20 of that for the next trip permit, which would let me drive through March 17th, there's $55 already and I'm netting $290-something a week without overtime. There, $70 now. Every time I return to the hovel with a $5 or bigger note in my wallet, there it goes.

May skip the next Foul Weather Match though I really don't want to. Would need at least $30 - two boxes - of ammunition the way the Mauser is sighted-in now, preferably one or two boxes more for practice, in addition to the $10 match/range fee. Ideally would spend one box practicing sitting and another offhand, prone can take care of itself, relatively speaking, for now.

408 - Saturday, 14 February 2004: Zzzz....

Was going to meet Woodworker and Blacksmith at their usual morning coffee thing to discuss the car but just couldn't get out of bed. Likewise the Barberton show would be packed up and gone by the time I got there.

Phoned Blacksmith, he and Woodworker discussed the list of ailments over coffee. Blacksmith recommends replacing the two sensors, oxygen and DPFE, first, then trying DEQ again - which, by the time I get those parts replaced, will have to be Tuesday. But I'll head out to Schuck's presently and see how much those cost.

Meanwhile, Cruffler exhorting me in email to take up the wrench like I shoulda done. All right already. -$40 for an oxygen sensor, can't find the "DPFE" sensor in the Haynes manual or the auto-parts chain's website.

Now how is this going to work? I still have a $171 "liability" to the county income tax, I've blown $200 in mechanic's fees, I've still got rent and car insurance and phone and electric bills and fuel for the car I have - should I be spending $50 here, $60 there, replacing stuff on this car or just saving up for another ~$400 car?

Still haven't gone up to Brightwater Ventures in Vancouver to redeem that gift certificate....

Found the oxygen sensor anyway. I'll try it.

Meanwhile, reading Ring of Fire. It seems most of the stories are at least neutral, and some are actually pro-gun. Refreshing. I don't read S.M. Stirling anymore....

409 - Sunday, 15 February 2004: Zz-snrk!

Staggered out of bed, met Woodworker and Blacksmith at their favorite coffee house, consulted. Went back to Woodworker's place, replaced oxygen sensor, noticed a Change in engine sound, received Sage Advice and Wise Counsel. Will try DEQ again Tuesday.

410 - Tuesday, 17 February 2004: The idea was to change the oxygen sensor and see if it made a change in the DEQ results. There was a change all right - now the car is failing even worse. Sigh.

411 - Wednesday, 18 February 2004: New poster!

Dry-firing, offhand, that 53 in the last match bugs me. Fix one thing at a time. The match winner had a 70 in offhand - if I can break 60 at the next Foul Weather match I'll be pleased with myself, and then I'll work on my sitting stage. Aiming at a speck on the wall, had what felt like a couple good shots, still really like the Mojo sight picture. Intend to build up a tolerance for suspending that beefy old Mauser over empty space, trying to take more dry shots every night. Bayonet fixed for extra weight and extra tolerance - and there's a standing stage in the PIG this summer besides.

Still have that Redfield sight I found at the Barberton show, must have that installed someday, holding it against the rifle and looking indicates it will work as-is with the existing Mojo front aperture, though I may want a different insert for the Redfield, I dunno. A Timney or comparable trigger is also high on the list.

412 - Thursday, 19 February 2004:

Or, if you have money:



413 - Friday, 20 February 2004: More dry-firing. I have been flinching in live-fire, especially offhand, a better trigger should help there. Learning more than I expected from dry-firing; thanks to Cooper, Tubb, Fred, USMC, et.al., I know better what to look - er, feel - for.

Paid car insurance the other day, bought new EGR valve last night, installed after work today, drove around some, will try DEQ again tomorrow. Rent under control, phone and electric bills paid. Trying to budget that $140 for a new catalytic converter from Woodworker's relative - if I pass DEQ, I'll spend it on ammunition and Mongolian grill dammit.

Supervisor says they're trying to get me hired permanently (still a temp). There'd better be a Significant Raise - I'm getting run ragged juggling a dozen projects on a half-dozen machines while wrasslin' some Crappy SoftwareTM, and my backup... (sigh) just doesn't get the finer points. (What the hell has happened to this country? Can't people even spell or use punctuation anymore? And how hard is it to learn Windows fer cryin' out loud? Doesn't anybody think about and understand what they're doing anymore? Is everyone but me just blindly going through the motions?) Considering who (what?) "trained" me and how much stuff I've got figured out despite that shortcoming, yes, I think I'm justified in demanding a higher level of performance. Part of the problem is I haven't had time to train the backup, since I'm too busy doing everything because it all has to be done right now, but in truth I just don't think the capacity is there.

Without bragging I can say that place would be screwed without me.

The SCA circle is having this get-together tomorrow and one of the Household Elders, as it were, wonders if I'm coming. This is the same person who voted to raise my taxes by giving more money to a pack of bureaucrats who've demonstrated they only know how to waste it; and who doesn't see the big deal about gun owners' privacy being violated by making handgun-license records public (despite being self-labeled as "anti-snoop"). I've got less insulting ways to spend my time.

With the car trouble, I've asked Cruffler to once again postpone the Portland Pawnblitz. Sigh.

-Actually I posted that "drove around some" a little prematurely. The EGR valve is giving so much trouble that, after hiking to the hardware store for a Large Wrench to get it off, then wrasslin' a small pipe fitting off the old one to put on the new, after cleaning it out with a stick, then wrasslin' the pipe to get it line up again, I gave up ‘til daylight returned. But I did get the bills paid and hope to get to DEQ tomorrow before they close.

414 - Saturday, 21 February 2004: Resumed working on car at 8am. ...About an hour later, after removing the air cleaner and some... throttle-like thing... to make more room to work, finally got two bolts and one threaded pipe collar all properly engaged in their threads, with the gasket in place even. Took a break before tightening everything down and putting things back together. About 9:30, it runs but... sounds rougher. Hmm.

Clean up, breakfast, see how it drives - up to Brightwater Ventures in Vancouver to claim my reloading dies. Nice little hole-in-the-wall place, nice old guy behind the counter. Secured my "8mm Mauser" die set, sniffed over the selection - lots and lots of shotguns, I may find something for that 3-Gun project later. Lots of Glocks (phooey), several recent Walthers (S&W, phooey). Kahr Lady K9, about $550. A couple Desert Eagles, four figures or near enough, shrug. Kimber and other 1911s, didn't look too close. No GP35s or clones, or CZ75s or clones, seen. Proprietor wrote "VOID" on the gift certificate so I could add it to my trophy wall. :)

Back down the freeway to DEQ. ...Failed again, even worse yet. Emailed Woodworker and Blacksmith with details. Sigh.

Went for a drive. Ended up at Sportsman's Warehouse. Intended to buy two boxes of Federal Power-Shok for the next Foul Weather match, but they were having a Customer Appreciation Sale, 10% off through tomorrow! Got all four they had left for $54, money I shouldn't have spent.... Now I've got enough for the next two matches, if I don't use any for live-fire practice. Picked up flyer for handgun silhouette shooting at Douglas Ridge Rifle Club, don't have anything suitable at the moment, I don't think my 4" .357 will cut it.

I could practice with a different rifle, like the Stevens .22, in offhand and sitting positions. With my stockpile of cheap .22LR ammunition I could practice a lot.... Yes, that's a good idea, any practice is better than none. And more dry practice with the Mauser. The biggest problem I'm having is the offhand stage, I need to get steadier. Also I need to find a more comfortable sitting position, my pulse was walloping the sights all over last time.

Message waiting when I get back, Woodworker inviting me to the SCA-folk get-together - he and Mechanic, that demonstrably-leftist Household Elder, live together - suggesting that he might get some work done on the Dragoon's and GP100's grips while I'm there.

I dunno. Some other folks in that crowd are anti-freedom too. Of course they don't see it that way....

Went. Arrived too late to get anything done on the grips, too early to avoid political insult. Structural Engineer was there, pleased with her belated Christmas gift of a spare magazine and loading tool for her pistol (one of those deliciously-engineered Kahrs) and an SCA-heraldic Zippo - but even she has disturbing Democratic (and I don't mean democratic) tendencies. Recommended she read Tammy Bruce and Bernard Goldberg.

Sigh. Again, I gotta get a new crowd. New Hampshire, sigh... someone's introduced a bill in the NH legislature for "Vermont Carry", i.e. no permit required to bear arms. Alaska passed it just a couple-few months ago, even the activist lists didn't see it coming.

415 - Monday, 23 February 2004: So I'm at the library picking up the USMC manual again, and a couple John Wayne flicks, and on the new books shelf there's this book with a cheetah on the cover and "DEAN ING" across the top. The Rackham Files. Naturally I added it to the stack. This is, obviously, a compilation of the Harve Rackham stories, with the pet cheetah and the Porsche hovercar and so on. I've read some of these stories before, in other collections, but here they all are, and probably some stuff I haven't seen, in a tidy package.

Meanwhile slogging through The Ascent of Wonder: The Evolution of Hard SF, a not-quite-thousand-page collection of shorts and novellettes or novellas or whatever you call them. Kipling and Poe are in there too. Next in the stack is David Drake's The Reaches.

416 - Tuesday, 24 February 2004: Failed DEQ for the nth time. Numbers have dropped some but still higher than since the oxygen sensor was replaced.

Called Blacksmith, suggested I reset on-board computer. Haynes manual useless, search web. New, and last for the year, trip permit tomorrow. Probably going for a catalytic convertor soon.

Disconnected car's negative battery terminal, hoping that will reset the engine-control computer. Reconnected terminal, tightened the nut - and the lead terminal broke, leaving a sort of shuffleboard-stick-shaped prong wrapped two-thirds around the battery lug. Started engine, may have detected Different Sound possibly indicating a reset computer. Duct-taped the battery cable to the chassis in the hope it won't flop off. Guess I'm stopping at the auto-parts store after getting the new trip permit tomorrow. Fifty-odd bucks left in checking, guess I could dip into the rent cash if I have to.

I do not want to go ‘way the heck out to Beaverton and back every day on mass-transit with icky bus people and losing another half-hour of sleep - I'm already getting up before six.

So, tomorrow, trip permit, battery terminal, and maybe DEQ again since they're open ‘til 9 Wednesdays. Will have to squeeze some fuel in there too.

While duct-taping battery cable, noticed sticker on chassis: catalytic convertor recall, 1993.

417 - Wednesday, 25 February 2004: Drove to work with damaged negative cable without (electrical) incident (traffic, ugh). After, located and used a westside DMV, new trip permit begins tomorrow, valid through the 17th. Stopped at westside auto parts store, secured replacement negative cable, the whole thing, $8. Drove back without incident.

Earlier rearranged porch light to illuminate car, parked nose-in for a change. Popped hood, started removing stuff to get at the cable. Removed old cable without incident - it too had been replaced before, judging by the excess length reefed up with electrical tape - installed new cable easily enough. Open driver's door to see the friendly glow of the dome light.


Use battery terminal brush - nothing. Get the multimeter. Continuity from one end of the cable to the other. Continuity from the battery end of the cable to the chassis. Continuity from one probe of the multimeter to the other! 12+VDC across the battery!! What the heck is this?

Call Blacksmith, no answer. Call Woodworker, suggests spritzing the junction with WD40. Now continuity between battery lug and cable, but still no lights! Get in, insert key, turn - ENGINE and BATTERY lights come on, no dome light, no outer lights, no ignition.

Call woodworker again, suggested I doublecheck the chassis end of the negative terminal for a good connection, also clean positive terminal. -Still nothing. Check fuse panel, all good. 12VDC from the positive lug on the battery to the engine, where the far end of the negative cable is bolted on.

Call Woodworker again. Check the other end of the positive cable, continuity. Check voltage from far end of positive to far end of negative cable, 12VDC. Argh!

Thought: Put the old cable back on. No, can't do that, the odd small wire coming off the side of the battery clamp, with its ring terminal bolted to the sheetmetal, had to be cut to accomodate the new butt splice connection on the new cable.

Thought: Strip a window in the insulation of the little side wire on the new cable, chop the corresponding wire from the old cable, strip it appropriately, splice it in, attach that to the sheetmetal.

It works.

But it's wrong! Electrically that does not make sense! MY CAR IS PERFORMING AN ELECTRICALLY UNNATURAL ACT!

But at least she runs now....

Adding weirdness to weirdness, it started raining just as I was putting the tools away, after fixing the car. Talk about being driven to drink. DEQ tomorrow.

418 - Thursday, 26 February 2004: Downturn at work, some layoffs - my job remains secure as they don't dare let anyone else do it.

DEQ again, after hopefully resetting the engine computer by disconnecting and fussing with the battery - failed, worst yet. Violating DEQ policy, the driver-inspector (who complimented my DIE TAILGATER SCUM sign, but said it should be bigger) offered advice. First he asked if I had a new catalytic convertor because "it smells like it." Then he suggested I check spark plugs and ignition wires, which I haven't yet. Will try to schedule work session with Blacksmith and/or Woodworker this weekend.

Blacksmith says convertor is probably the next step but plugs and such can't hurt.

419 - Friday, 27 February 2004: Filled up on fuel for the first time in... I dunno. Been doing the five bucks, three bucks thing for a couple weeks at least. Reserve can refilled too, finally. $1.71 is now a good price.

About $43 for new plugs, wires, distributor cap and rotor. Weather too icky and I'm too disgusted with the universe to do anything with them tonight, which means I won't have the car ready for DEQ again ‘til at least Tuesday, when they reopen, as they close at 1pm tomorrow and I'm getting some sleep dammit.

420 - Saturday, 28 February 2004: Exhorted in email by Cruffler last night, crawled out of bed this morning, replaced plugs, wires, cap and rotor. Engine runs, sounds like it's hitting all four cylinders in the correct order.

Clean up, breakfast. About 11am, depart for DEQ - on the west side, to break in the new components and get the engine up to temperature. Failed again. Numbers down a little but still higher than the trip before last.

Tortured myself with a trip to The Powder Horn in Forest Grove, staffed by a couple-three old gun-geezers, lots of blackpowder and used stuff, overflowing table of ancient clearance items. Percussion revolvers overpriced compared to Cabela's. Uberti 3rd Dragoon, $295, didn't look close enough to compare its quality to mine, the box was different. G43 sighted, a couple four-figure Lugers. 1911s, Charles Daly $505, Norinco $400. Possibly-Belgian Browning Hi-Power, $500. Marlin M39M (straight stock) .22LR lever-action, NRA Centennial model with 1871-1971 medallion on receiver, "Article II" stamped on barrel, $250; M39A, longer barrel and pistol-grip stock, something over $300.

Hopped across I-5 bridge for Washington lottery tickets, returned to hovel. Started calling muffler shops for pricing. First place, recommended by Woodworker at $140, "No one's here ‘til Monday to look it up." Next, recommended by co-worker, "that's an integrated manifold convertor, you're looking at about four and a quarter." Huh? That's not what PartsAmerica.com says.

To the phone book. "We're not doing service work now, we'll be closed for about 30 days." "$208.20 for the convertor, $75 for labor." Other places closed by now according to the yellow pages ads, make more calls Monday. Won't be enough daylight today, but maybe tomorrow experiment with removing the convertor to see if I can replace it myself.

Ugh, laundry. Do it today, maybe get some kind of rifle practice tomorrow for the next Foul Weather Match on the 6th. Might try the Yugoslav-surplus ammunition in the MojoMauser - naw, I don't want to change the sight settings, besides it's probably corrosive and... with non-corrosive Federal factory loads, I haven't cleaned the MojoMauser since before practicing for the match in February. (This way I shouldn't need that fouling shot I suspect it wants. As a bolt-action, there is very little fouling anywhere but the bore; as a Czech copy of the German ‘98 Mauser, it will shoot a long, long time before needing cleaning. Some match shooters never clean their bores. I suppose I should give the chamber some attention....) Try to install a sling on the Stevens .22 tonight, maybe do 25-yard practice on a black circle reduced to represent the SR-1 at 100. Lots of .22 on hand, try to get lots of practice. -The black of an SR-1 target is 6¼ inches; reducing for 25 yards would be just over 1½. Heck with it, I'll just use the one-inch square practice targets I already have, and/or those five-place Palma targets so I don't have to change them as often.

421 - Sunday, 29 February 2004: Departing about 10:15 for Clark Rifles. Taking only the Stevens - sling studs installed with Dremel last night, sling borrowed from the Marlin - and 200 rounds Federal Champion 36-grain copper-plated hollowpoint, "Load No. 745", from the 525-round value pack. Plan to fire at least 50 rounds standing and the same sitting. Four-round strings like in the match, five-place Palma targets, got plenty.

Arrived about 10:45. Upper range, lane 2, not too bad. Decent weather, partly cloudy, no rain. Wearing pigskin gloves for warmth but don't need jacket, just a flannel.

What followed was a tedious three-hour session where I spent 182 of those 200 rounds, starting from the bench but ending with more than half offhand, not making any tremendous improvement but at least learning better how to call my flyers. Furthermore I wonder how much help this will be in the match with the Mauser, a much heavier rifle, with higher recoil, different sights, different trigger, and different stock geometry. But at least I got some practice. No scanned targets, they all look about the same, mostly 6-8MOA.

The Stevens' front bead is about 10 MOA across, largely obscuring the aiming points. Should look for yet another front sight, preferably a blade and of course much thinner. The crescent buttplate is not comfortable - recoil is not an issue but geometry is. Trigger has improved some, but should probably address the butt if I want to use this for seducing people into the Gun Culture. Meanwhile, as for the sights, a 16MOA flourescent orange clay pigeon at 25 yards, or a similarly-sized steel spinner, should provide enough gratification.

Got no practice sitting, but I'm over 75% there already, some dry-practice should be sufficient there for now. Will try to get twenty dry shots offhand, and at least half as many sitting, with the Mauser, every evening until the match.

Learned there is a Cowboy match at Clark Rifles the day after the next Foul Weather Match. Library has a couple books on CAS - hm, lots of rules, I dunno. Range Officer says one of the Cowboy match prizes is a Cowboy firearm. Actually he said "door prize." But I still don't have a handgun-caliber Cowboy rifle. R/O said there are usually loaners available but I don't like using other people's stuff. Don't have enough garb (as they say in the SCA, which CAS resembles in many ways) either - although a pair of boots may be all I need, with the hat, jeans and a flannel shirt. Oh, need gunbelt and (better) holsters too. Maybe I'll spectate.

Raining upon return, so much for the convertor experiment. Maybe tomorrow after work.

January 2004 | FEBRUARY 2004 | March 2004
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