Got Powder?

Steven was kind enough to send me a questioning email ….

“After the bombing in Boston, reports are that the bombs were probably
based on gunpowder. Some speculation was that the bomber tore open
cartridges to get the powder, and that’s not impossible. (Expensive
and slow, though.)

“But it occurred to me that it must be possible to buy powder in
quantity, to be used in reloading your own brass. I know you do that,
don’t you?

“Where do you get your powder? How hard is it to come by? How big of
packages do they sell, and how much do they cost? Do they keep records
of who is buying powder, and how much?”

Lots of interesting questions!  But before we go any further, there is one I would like to ask.  Has there ever been anyone who used common firearm propellent to construct terrorist bombs here in the United States?  The answer to that one is Yes!

The name of the criminal was George P. Metesky, otherwise known as the New York Bomber.  His devices were lengths of common plumbing pipe, filled with gunpowder and capped at both ends in order to concentrate the explosion.  Detonation was achieved using flashlight batteries and cheap pocket watches.

Hmm.  That sounds very similar to the methods mentioned in this news article, except without the pocket watches.

But enough history.  Let us get back to the questions Steven wants answered.  Let us take them one at a time.  The first is; Did I ever reload?  The answer is Yes.


(Click pic for largest version, and Wikipedia is the original source.)

Buy components on bulk, and one can reduce the per-cartridge cost of target practice by 60% or more.  I saw reloading as necessary for my charity work, since I had a limited budget and wanted to help as many people as possible with the cash I could spare.  I’d clock out at my night job, spend most of the day conducting self defense classes or beefing up security around the home of my student, and then go home to reload as much as I could before exhaustion forced me to sleep.  After an hour or two, the alarm would wake me so I could go to work and start it all over again.

There are many, many people who reload because they are looking to get the most out of their guns.  They are experts in the effects that different powders have when pushing various weights of bullets down various lengths of barrels.  Their knowledge is vast, their dedication unwavering.  When it comes to reloading, they are the experts that have all the answers.

I’m not one of those people.  My only motivation for reloading was to reduce costs.  To this end, I experimented briefly until finding a satisfactory powder that was heavily stocked at my local gun store.

reloading powder one pound can

Continue reading

Uncomfortable With The Term

I was reading this post at a political blog, which concerns a letter signed by several veterans of the US armed forces.

“This letter was signed by hundreds of special ops vets including 20 Generals, over 60 colonels, over 60 Lt Colonels and two Medal of Honor winners.”

(Emphasis mine.)

Excuse me, but don’t people earn a Medal of Honor?

medal of honor designs

The author of the linked essay is always careful to show the proper respect to the members of our military.  I am positive that he didn’t mean anything by his remark, except to acknowledge the well deserved honors bestowed upon the two individuals he mentions.  In fact, stating that someone won a MoH is a very common expression here in the US.

But I still am not very comfortable with the term.  After all, I doubt very many of my readers from the UK would say that people awarded the Victoria Cross were lucky enough to win that award.

Can We Call Them “Tunnel Rats”?

During the Vietnam War, the Communists had to go to great lengths to avoid lavishly equipped and supported US troops.  One way was to eschew above ground bases and facilities in favor of elaborate tunnel complexes.


As you can see, the tunnels were very professional in construction.  They were dug at depths of 25 feet or more in order to provide shelter from US airstrikes.

This news article details how the police in Kansas City found an elaborate tunnel complex.  Instead of Communist soldiers in a far off country, they were dug by homeless people looking to expand their living space.  The author notes that some of the tunnels reached a depth of 25 feet.

kansas city homeless tunnel

Look familiar?

The picture on top was taken over 40 years ago in Southeast Asia, the one further down was taken a few days ago in Kansas City.


It Is A Small World

I discovered that my local grocery store stocks Jammie Dodgers.

jammie dodger biscuit

Two shortbread cookies with jam in the middle.  Or, as the people in the United Kingdom might say, “Two shortbread biscuits with jam in the middle.”

Baked in Wales, shipped across the Atlantic, and then trucked across the United States to Columbus, Ohio.  Two bucks a box, which seems more than fair considering how far the little guys have come.

The latest incarnation of Dr. Who keeps mentioning these snacks, so I figured I’d buy a box and see what all the fuss is about.

dr who with jammie dodger

They are very good!  Worth eating.

I’ll have to go buy more in a few days.

Just Like The Cold War

One of the reasons Communist countries lock down their borders with minefields, barbed wire, and guards with shoot-to-kill authorization is because no sane person who wasn’t an apparatchika government official who enjoyed benefits handed down from their Politburo masters, could bear to live under the terrible conditions that always arise when Communists take over.  The threat of death and torture was the only way to keep virtually every single member of the general population from making a mass scramble to get over the nearest border.

barbed wire fence with watchtower

(Click on the picture for the largest version.)

But, no matter how much they try, the Communists keep losing people.  Some really high profile defections from the USSR way back when were ballet stars, as the Soviets would sometimes allow their performers to travel to other countries.  These trips were always very heavy on security, but people still managed to find a way to give their KGB handlers the slip.

Looks like it happened again.  The only difference is that the ballet dancers were from Cuba instead of Russia.

ballet dancer on a tank

(Click picture for largest version.)

That Didn’t Take Long

My hosting company tells me last week they are going to pull the plug.  Too much bandwidth.

Let's pull out the standby power supply.

(Click on the picture for the largest version.)

Since I’ve already bloviated on every aspect of self defense/home security where I knew what I was talking about, I figured what the hell.  Time to let this thing die a quiet death.  After all, I hadn’t been posting much anyway.  Who would even notice except for a few die hard readers who wouldn’t give up the old ways?

univac 642b computer in the NASA computer room

(Picture source.)

(Click on the picture for the largest version.)

I was wrong about that, as the number of comments left on my good-bye post proved.  About the same amount of supportive emails were also received.  Looks like there are more of you than I thought.

It wouldn’t have happened without the very kind support of Mr. Daniel Scott at, my new host and a fellow blogger.  I’ve deleted all but two posts in order to close off bandwidth drain due to spambots.  Looks like I’ll have to start all over from scratch so far as content is concerned.  I have no idea how interesting you will find it when I go over old tired ground, but we’ll find out.

Now if you will all excuse me, I have to go write about a bajillion emails so all of you will know I’m back in the game.

PS   I was asked what the bandwidth draw my old host was experiencing which caused all the trouble.  They told me that this blog generated something close to 45 GB of traffic a month, which was over eleven times the activity of the next most popular site on the server.  It was such a chore to keep up with it all that there was noticeable performance slowdown, which cause them to declare a violation of the terms of service.

It seems most of it was due to spambots from China bouncing off my filters.  One thing a glance at the old logs shows me I’m in the wrong profession.  I had no idea that counterfeit designer handbags were such big business!

counterfiet designer handbag