Monday, August 18, 2014

The crap this could start...

So, it was a long, hot afternoon/evening at work, and I had just about finished a tall, cold glass of iced tea as described in the post Mmm-mm, good!, which is to say a mix of 3 parts iced tea/lemonade to one part vodka, when I saw a post on Facepsace in which someone was mocking the fact that the AT-4 rocket launcher, AKA "SMAW", has pictographic instructions on the side that basically says, like the M18 Claymore Mine, "Front Towards Enemy."

The post consisted of a photo of the instruction, with a caption that said, essentially ""This is here because someone somewhere screwed up!"

First off, I disagree.  As I commented on the Facespace thread, the way these weapons are issued (like the claymroe mine, and the AT-4's predecessor M72 LAW rocket) "as a round of ammunition."  What this means to the average soldier is that they might find themselves in the midst of the balloon going up and being handed a weapon that they know exists but never saw before the current "cluster flop", to quote the edited-for-television version of Heartbreak Ridge.1

How do I know?  Well, early one morning the Second Infantry Division had a divisional alert, and my company commander announced that we were going to hit the Ammo Supply Point bunkers --  which were conveniently located on the back 40, so to speak, of our dinky little post2, and actually practice our load-out.

Now, I haven't talked a lot about the systems I dealt with in the Army. Suffice to say, the AN/TSQ-138 Trailblazer did not belong in Korea. It was huge.  The five-ton truck itself was too big to get where it needed to go to operate in the mountains of South Korea, the generator trailer was adding insult to injury. Inspired by an off-the-cuff remark I made one day ("Getting these up the mountains here is like an orca going up a fish ladder") I was about to name the five (count 'em! Five!) systems I had Shamu, Namu, Keiko, Willy, and... I forget.  Wilma, maybe.

These things were HUUUUUGE!!!

We objected to their presence, Big Army said "The Second Infantry Division is a Heavy Division, ergo, you get Heavy Division SIGINT assets." Big Army is a bureaucracy, ergo, doctrinaire, ergo, ignored the fact that most Heavy Divisions do not consist of two mechanized infantry battalion, two armored (tank) battalion, and two light infantry battalions. (Plus, let us not forget, a National Guard Heavy Brigade, and a ROK Army Mechanized/Armored Brigade3.)

Anyway.  Come The Day, Division alert, the CO, the First Sergeant, the Platoon leaders and Platoon Sergeants all go to the ammo bunkers and prepare to walk through loading ammo...

...Holy crap.  Each of my five teams has as much ammo assigned as an infantry platoon.4  Including crates of (IIRC) four (4)5AT-4 rockets, one per team.

And we only have enough soldiers to field three teams.

Anyway, this is how I know that the reason Big Army puts stupid pictographic instructions on some weapons is that Big Army may be bureaucratic and doctrinaire, but it is smart enough to realize that, when Specialist Schmuckatello needs to shoot the Godless Communist Hordes with an AT-4, he may very well have never even have held the frigging thing in his hands before, let alone done a familiarization range with the damned thing, so he might need the instructions to take into account that he might be a little rushed...

Anyhoo, by way of making a short story long, I posted a shorter version of this to the thread on Facespace, and added something about how the girly-girl training NCO of the company also drove the company command track, and held high score for the battalion on the Mk 19 grenade launcher. Except that I had a brain cramp, and had to look up the nomenclature of the damned grenade launcher, which led me to this photo:
Wikipedia photo: "Mexican troops operating in a random checkpoint 2009"
That photo is of Mexican troops on a checkpoint with a Mark 19 grenade launcher mounted in the bed of a Chevy Silverado pick 'em up truck. The Wikipedia article on the Mark 19 grenade launcher says that the Mark 19 Grenade Launcher has been "Used extensively by the (presumably Mexican) army in the Mexican drug war."

And I can't help think that all you'd have to do is Tweet that pic and claim it was Ferguson, MO, or Brownsville,TX...

1. The Marine Corps keeps trying to claim they had a piece of that battle, but a quick check of maps shows that it's a specious claim.  Probably they wee afraid of having the movie makers change it from a Marine movie to an Army one. Like Hollywood would show the Army any love. 

2. Camp Essayons. The cognoscenti will recognize from the name that it was originally a combat engineer post. (Except that, like a lot of the military installation in Korea, it was originally Japanese) During my first three tours in Korea it was an artillery post, then division swapped untis around to more precisely align with wartime missions, which is only surprising when you realize that it didn't happen until the mid-1990s.
3. IIRC, it was the Fifth Mechanized Brigade,  but there is no reference to this in current Tables of Organization., Which is no surprise.
4.  The explanation seems to involve being besieged on a mountaintop, which is not exactly reassuring...

5. A crate might have held five rockets.  I don't remember for sure. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Soup's on!

Mrs Drang and I helped Soldier's Angels serve lunch to vets at the American Lake VA Center south if Tacoma today.

(Minor editing applied, primarily to layout.)
Chow donated by the Olive Garden restaurant of Tacoma.  (And picked up by us*.)
Tray pack spaghetti! :-p

*As a follow-up to my previous post, it took us half an hour to get to Tacoma to pick up the chow! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thoughts on the Commute

In which I grouse about my commute, Mrs. Drang's commute, your commute... Or just plain driving around...
The most common make and model of car in Pugetopolis today seems to be the Kia Soul. I have no problem with this, it seems to be a practical car, not particularly attractive but not ugly, not huge but a large enough cargo area for grocery shopping, not so low that drivers of a certain age will have trouble getting in or out...
The drivers seem to be largely of Mrs. Drang's and my demographic, as the last point might indicate.  So why does Kia advertise the thing with animated hip-hop dancers hamsters? Beats me.
Mind you, the most common type of car on the road is the "crossover", the domesticated SUV that has largely replaced the minivan. Note that they are largely identical across manufacturers. This is what happens when everyone uses the same software to design vehicles to meet government safety and economy regulations.
If you're driving under the speed limit on the interstate stay in lane one.
  • And turn on your hazard lights.
  • And you'd better be having a medical or mechanical emergency.
Speaking of Lane One, a new one on me:
Today, as I was going to work I spotted a truck towing an Oversize Load.  The banner on the rear of the flatbed trailer identified it as such.
As I got closer, I realized the load itself was a crate.  As large wooden crate.  A huge wooden crate, it looked big enough to hold an M1 Abrams tank, or two, in fact, one on top of the other.
You could say the crate was sizeable.
So, if you're driving a semi rig hauling a flatbed with an oversize load, which overhangs the edges of your flatbed three feet on each side and is so tall it won't fit under most overpasses, the only reasons you should not be in Lane One would be
  • Lane One is marked "Must Exit", and it isn't your exit
  • There's an accident or construction or other blocking "mess"
  • The vagaries of highway design have you merging from the left
Swerving from Lane One to Lane Four and then immediately back since Lane One is your exit is a sign that you shouldn't be trusted with a license to operate a tricycle on a playground, let alone a semi rig on the Interstate.
  • Someone's lucky I couldn't see a "How's My Driving?" sign...
It is a little known fact that the Seattle area doesn't actually get as much rain as, say, New York. It rains frequently, but not usually heavily. Furthermore, July and August are usually bereft of precipitation, leading to obscure bloggers making jokes about the Yellow Sky Demon...
Also, it is common around here to complain that four or five days without rain causes everyone around here to forget how to drive once it starts again...
  • So, it is noteworthy that yesterday we got more rain in one day than we usually do in the entire months of July and August combined, and I saw no signs of jackassery behind the wheel. 
  • Good job!  (The fool above was spotted today, when it was overcast but not rainy.)
Meanwhile, Seattle's answer to Boston's Big Dig has been delayed even more.  Tunneling machine Big Bertha ran into a 9" pipe, you see, that was one no charts, and it broke her tooth.  So they have to drill down to perform dental surgery.  Which will apparently take until sometime next spring.
  • I don't want to say "I Told You So"... Oh, who am I kidding?  Of course I told them so!
  • Much of the Seattle waterfront is fill, which is why it's of such concern seismically.  Why they think drilling a tunnel is a better idea than building a new viaduct is beyond me...
  • Oh, who am I kidding? They hate cars.  They hate drivers. They hate the idea that individuals have that much control over their personal movement. 
  • Who is "they"?  Collectivists in general, the Powers That Be in Seattle, specifically, who love to encourage the development of housing, as long as it doesn't include any place to park a privately owned car.
  • Jackasses...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Saturday, August 9, 2014


Mt Hood, with Hawk
Taken from the Mt. Angel Abbey, Silverton, Oregon
Copyright D.W. Drang, 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

Who's Denying What Now?

This has been all over the Gunternet, at least locally, but Phil has a pretty good recap at Outrage is their only option | Random Nuclear Strikes

Basically, one of the Good Guys (NRA Rep Brian Judy) made a statement comparing Washington State Ballot Initiative 594, which calls for "universal background checks", to Nazi Germany era gun control laws.  Specifically, Mr. Judy said
“Now [individual who has written of his family escaping Nazi Germany]..., he’s put half a million dollars, toward this policy, the same policy that led to his family getting run out of Germany by the Nazis. You know, it’s staggering to me, it’s just, you can’t make this stuff up. That these people, it’s like any Jewish people I meet who are anti-gun, I think, ‘Are you serious? Do you not remember what happened?’ And why did that happen? Because they registered guns and then they took them.”
So, apparently, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle has decided to apply the common misinterpretation of Godwin's law to political discourse.  Because, as anyone who has read Stephen Halbrook's Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and "Enemies of the State" (reviewed here) knows, it is a fact that strict gun control laws were passed by the Wiemar Republic, and that Nazi Germany took full advantage of them to disarm anyone who was regarded as an undesirable.

Whether this really made the Holocaust possible or not may be a matter for writers of speculative fiction, I suppose, but to claim that "it didn't happen"is just...

...Living in Denial.  Which is not, apparently, just a river in Egypt, but a state of mind among Progressives.

What do you call it when Jews deny a factor in the Holocaust, anyway...?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Mmm-mm, good!

A few months ago Mrs. Drang picked up a pair of these drink maker/infuser pitchers at membership warehouse. In case you don't want to click the link, the set is two half-gallon pitchers, plus one "tea infuser" and one "fruit infuser."  The infusers screw into the lid; the idea is that you fill the tea infuser with loose tea, make tea, then swap it for the other infuser full of sliced fruit and herbs and whatnot and infuse your tea with other flavors.

Of course, you could fill the pitcher with wine and use the fruit infuser to make sangria.  Or fill the pitcher with water -- or vodka -- and make another kind of infusion.

I decided I wanted some "grown-up iced tea", what with temperatures holding in the 80's.  (Hey, in Western Washington that's grueling!)

The first batch I used the bags of "Tropical Medley" tea that came with the pitchers.  (They want you to use their tea, of course, but I'm not sure how economical that would be. OTOH, our local grocery store doesn't carry loose tea!.)(!) I made too much tea, and had to pour some off. Then I added bourbon, and put a sliced lemon and some mint in the infuser. This was more-or-less their recipe, except for the fact that I didn't exactly measure anything...

Not bad.

For the next batch -- effectively simultaneous, I had two pitchers to work with -- I made a batch of raspberry iced tea using Keurig K-Cups, added Chambord liqueur and vodka, and in the infuser I put some chopped up raspberries.

This one was a little more to Mrs. Drag's liking, although based on how long the pitcher lasted it might be sort of "situational".  Plus, I was winging it...

When Mrs. Drang was shopping for loose tea, as I mentioned above, she couldn't find any; instead, she bought some Lipton Cold Brew tea bags.  Each of these are supposed to make a quart of iced tea, and, as the name implies, don't need hot water to do so. I'm sure purists will object, but it tastes like iced tea, and is easier, so until they prove there's a health impact, I'm fine with this.

Anyway, current recipe is more-or-less:
  • 1.5 Quarts Tea (I've been brewing it strong, but, you know, to taste...)
  • Lemonade mix, suitable for making two quarts of lemonade (I.e., tub of Crystal Lite, scoops of Country Time, etc.)
  • 2 cups booze of your choice. 
  • Infuse fruit and herbs to taste.
The first batch of this I used vodka.  The second used gold rum. I haven't used any fruit, just some mint from the garden "muddled" with a bit of agave nectar, which may give it a little more sweetness. Although I keep eying the jar of "nuclear cherries" that was put up a couple of years ago and pondering the possibilities...

It's pretty simple.  It's pretty tasty.  It's pretty.... Damn it! My glass is empty!

Okay, now that disaster has been averted (mmmm!) you obviously don't need a "Drinks Maker 4-piece Pitcher Set" to do this.  Herbs can be put in a tea ball to infuse.  Fruits (or vegetables, I guess, if that floats your boat, so to speak) could be floated freely, or put in cheese cloth, to facilitate retrieval.  After all, sangria is usually served with free-floating fruit, like we did last year at Gun Blogger Rendezvous.

But it sure is refreshing after a hard, hot summer's day in The Salt Mines.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Unicorn Sightings

(Edited to add links.  Corrections and additions are in italics.) 
At the WAC gun show. Fairly low turnout, not uncommon in summer, which is why they run a reduced schedule. Dropped a double sawbuck in the I-591 bucket at the SAF table.

Chatted with the K Rounds holster folks and with Dave of South Ridge Arms. Was also talking with a guy from the Washougal River Cartridge Company selling 80% AR lowers and jigs; half-joking I asked what it would cost to rent a jig...
(In the course if that conversation it developed that Dave does they anodizing for them.)

Saw a Keltec Shotgun (KSG)  for sale -- thus the post title -- only $1100. Got to handle it, if they were going for the originally announced MSRP I'd consider one.

Another table had  a 2" (+/-) DA revolver that was read on the hang-tag "Colt New Service .45, with clips". I was intrigued, but the only markings were serial number and itty-bitty* proof marks -- including what appeared to be a Broad Arrow ... .45 ACP? Or .455, or...? Seller didn't know, so I passed. (I suppose I could be mistaken about the proof mark being a Broad Arrow, or it indicating a pistol that was in British Service. Could this be a Fitz Special without chopped trigger guard?  I dunno, maybe if it's still at future gun shows I'll investigate further...)

Magazines for Mrs Drang's Star BKM are running $40 each, so I'll hold off until she decides she needs more.
Saw a Colt 1903 in .32ACP, looked to be in decent condition, but I'm not collecting today.  Also saw a S&W Model 69, which I have an irrational desire for.  Maybe two, have one shortened...

Only .22 LR was Armscor, which is decent ammo but does not cycle my Ruger* 22/45 reliably.
And with that, I'm headed home, I need to stop and pick up some canning jar lids.
(This post will be has been edited to add links and any corrections as needed.)

*Damn you autocorrect!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Seen in instant messages

(Mrs. Drang's office uses an instant messaging app to communicate instead of yelling across the office or using the phone to call upstairs, so we've used it for years to communicate when I was off or on a different continent.) 

Me: Ran to the mail box.  Starting to rain.

Mrs. Drang: It can't rain, I'm wearing a sun dress!