How Much Do Your Mayor Have in Grapes?

If you have not heard what the Major of Jerusalem did concerning the knifer a day or so ago, you live a protected life.

Check out the reports. His Honor, the Mayor (if that’s the appropriate title in Jerusalem) wrestled the knife wielding man to the ground. Yes, his bodyguard was armed and present, but the Mayor was empty handed.

He’s on the ‘free beer’ if he shows up list.

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Reloading – Lessons Learned – New Case Preparation

I’ve been looking for more brass – empty cases for the unjargoned – for my .22 Hornet’. (That is pronounced with the accent on the second syllable to give it a European and therefore classier sound.) To my joy, I found 200 pieces of unfired .22 Hornet’ brass, made by Prvi Partizan of Uzice (the town or city, I don’t know how things are categorized there.) (It was the Kingdom of Yugoslavia at the time – 1927 – in the beginning the country now is Serbia. Same physical place. Borders may have been changed to protect the innocent. Or guilty.) This explains the headstamp of PPU. It is also sometimes in Cyrillic and looks like ‘nny’.

All that aside, new brass is new brass. It is properly formed and reasonably ready for loading.

Unless one suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder or is a reloader seeking ultimate accuracy. But I repeat myself. I pulled out my special equipment and proceeded to trim to length, deburr, uniform and de-flash all the primer holes prior to loading.

Allow me to explain. Cartridge brass is ‘formed’ from metallic brass alloy. Such alloy being a combination of copper and zinc, essentially. The alloy can be varied to achieve certain qualities or results. The special qualities desired for cartridge cases are tensile strength to withstand the internal pressures and malleability for forming the initial shape.

Brass cartridge cases are made by high pressure ‘extrusion’ of the metal. Essentially beating on it with a special machine with specially designed ‘dies’ until it fits the shape required.

However, this process often times leaves the length of the individual piece of brass – the empty cartridge – not precisely square at the mouth – where the bullet fits – and not of exact and uniform length.

So one ‘trims’ the case mouth by use of a device which is in reality a small, hand powered lathe. The device is adjustable for length of cut desired. This process both square the case mouth and makes the cases uniformly long. One desires a square mouth so the bullet is free of the case uniformly and no sideways forces are imparted. The length of case allows for consistent resizing of the case and a consistent crimp if desired.

Then, one employs a ‘chamfering tool’ which removes all the leavings of the cutting from the mouth of the case. Among other things, this process keeps the wire edge developed in the cutting process from snagging on other items, like the bullets inserted later and one’s fingers.

Additionally, the flash hole, the small ‘tunnel’ through which the igniting flame of the primer ‘flashes’ to ignite the gun power is normally ‘punched’ through the typically one-eighth inch of brass between the primer pocket and the main chamber (interior) of the case. The hole itself is not always of uniform size and roundness AND there’s a collection of brass hanging on the interior end of the flash hole.

By using a small tool from the interior of the case, through the case mouth, one can make the flash hole uniform in size and circularity AND trim off the bit of hanging brass in the interior.

So why don’t cases come from the factory already trimmed, chamfered and reamed? Mostly cost. I spend probably eight hours doing all that. So the manufacturer would have to add that much pay for a somewhat trained and conscientious worker to do the job. Also, it isn’t always needed. Most commercially manufactured ammunition does not go through the additional steps of processing and shoots quite well in spite of the lack. Did I mention something about OCD conditions earlier.

Following these processes, done by – in this case – your humble correspondent, the finished cases are then weighed on an electronic scale and sorted by weight.

Why? In the instance of a specific caliber – which in general use is more a description of the brass case than the actual diameter of the bore – all cartridge cases are the same external size. For instance, in the instance of the .22 Hornet’ herein involved, the case must have a rim of a specified thickness and external diameter; the body must be a certain external diameter at the juncture of the rim; it must taper at a specified angle for a certain distance, then taper at a greater – also specified – angle to the neck where it must continue to a specified length. All these external dimensions are needed in order for the cartridge to fit into the chamber, but be snug enough in the chamber not to rattle about and possibly react poorly to the sudden internal pressure of firing.

But all those dimensions are external. The internal dimensions can vary to some degree. But when the internal dimensions vary, the internal volume varies. The pressure generated by the burning powder increases in a smaller volume. (Look up Boyle’s Law.) By weighing the individual cases, one can determine a uniformity of internal volume.

Uniformity is one of the great goals of the accurate reloader. The ideal is that everything is exactly the same from loaded round to loaded round. The cases all weigh the same, the bullets all weigh the same, powder charges are all the same and primers are all the same. In reality of course, it doesn’t work that way. (No pun intended.) However, cases can be easily with one percent variation. Commercial bullets are remarkably uniform; weighing them cannot hurt, but may not pay off a great deal. Powder charges can easily be held within one percent uniformity. Primers are pretty much beyond the control of reloaders, but are remarkably uniform as far as manufacturers can manage.

So. Back to the cases and what did I learn?

First. The Cabela’s electronic scale I purchased a year or two ago really isn’t up to the task. Probably the greatest problem is repeated weighings of the same item – one case at random – resulted in several different shown weights. In five readings, the particular case weighed 56.2, 56.3, and 56.4 grains. This without moving the scale, without turning the scale off, and without re-calibrating the scale. The Cabela’s scale is also ‘slow’. By this, I mean the scale takes a bit of time to decide the demonstrated weight of the item. Sometimes, it took several tries to determine if the item in question weighed “56.4” or “56.5” or “56.6” grains. It would show one weight as ‘final’ (a signal icon appears indicating the scale is finished) then change the displayed weight, showing that as ‘final’.

I have recently purchased another Dillon D-Terminator scale. I had one, used it for years with excellent results and dropped it at some point. Note: Dropping electronic equipment is NOT recommended. I bought the Cabela’s unit when my dropped Dillon scale failed, and I succumbed to time panic. Time panic is source material for another blog.

Second. The Lee Precision Reloading shell holder wears out quickly. The holder consists of two parts. The base is a steel machined part which is universal. The variable ‘holder’ is an aluminum piece which screws onto the steel base. The holder is the part that actually fits the case in question. Sadly, being aluminum it tends to wear out on the interior of the top portion of the holder. Consequently, the case doesn’t hold well. Which means the user’s fingers has to take up the slack.

This isn’t so bad for the case length trimming function or the chamfering function. But the flash hole cleaning is really problematic. The cutter gets ‘stuck’ and requires some force to trim the excess from the egress end.

My fingers are worn out. And sore.

The good news is the cases are all prepared and sorted – which only needs be done once. Flash holes and weights do not change with use. The case length can change – usually longer with rifles – and may need trimming again in time.

The good news is that from the 200 cases initially, I have two groups of 50 cases (two boxes) which are within .3 grains difference (lightest to heaviest) each. The other 100 rounds are safe and useful for reloading, but are suited more for non-precision loads; which include small game and predator control and general familiarization with the rifle.

Final note: The above process is most effective when the ammunition is to be used in a specially prepared firearm designed for maximum accuracy. For rifles, this usually includes ‘squaring’ the action, carefully bedding the action and barrel into the stock, trigger work, properly mounted sights (iron or optic) and so forth. For an off the shelf rifle, it usually will not dramatically increase accuracy. But it won’t hurt accuracy either.

In some years of pistol shooting in various disciplines I find pistol cartridges do not appear to benefit from the above functions. I do segregate cases by manufacturer for precision shooting. I have a lingering suspicion even that is mostly superstition.

So if the reader is a new reloader or beginning reloader, please do not feel guilty about not performing any of the above.

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So Much for Claims of Income Equality

http://c1355372.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/4e6fada7-2327-4c59-b5c4-f760dcb5b92e/PolicyFocus14_Dec_p2.pdf

Read the article. It is not long and shows a bit of good sense. So much for the ‘progressive’ theory of over-taxing and then paying out funds to unfairly poor people.

The reality is that some folks have more money than others. However, the ‘rich’ change every year. Some folks who were not on the ‘rich’ list get there, and some who were on the ‘rich’ list are no longer. It all depends on how one addresses the problem and work.

The social trend toward avoiding marriage seems to be detrimental to income. How about that?

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Can a Christian be Happy?

I thank a fellow Christian and blogger for the title and basic thought of this essay. My thanks and blessings to Kristeen Nicole Gillooly at https://kristeennicolegillooly.wordpress.com

She can’t help being good at what she does; she has a Celtic surname.

The title was originally Can You Be Happy if You are Not a Christian? In my mind this brings up other associated questions, like “Is a Christian Happier Than a non-Christian?” or possibly even “Does Christianity Make One Happier?”

My considered answer, after some sixty-five years of life, fifty-four years ‘officially’ a Christian, is “It depends. What do you mean by ‘happy’?”

I must be a philosopher; I answer every question with a question. Either that or an incipient politician. (Lord forgive me!) Or perhaps just a dedicated jerk.

The key to the answer is ‘What is Happiness?’

Your humble correspondent finds that virtually no one (believer or non-believer) is ‘happy’. Everyone (non-believer and believer) is beset with the idea of ‘something is missing’. Everyone thinks they are not quite pretty or handsome enough. No one has quite enough money. People think their butt is too big or too small. I’m not tall enough and she’s too tall. Either I’m too drunk or too sober. I trust the reader gets the point – I’m getting weary of belaboring the concept.

Most people think that the key to happiness is attaining what they think they lack. Oftentimes this comes in the form of bits of special fabric with green lettering and pictures of past Presidents on the front. However, even those with vast quantities of funds do not particularly exhibit the characteristics of ‘happiness’. The late Howard Hughes was rich beyond most of our dreams of avarice; he died a hermit, afraid to venture forth from his apartment.

I recommend the Biblical book of “Ecclesiastes”. Written by Solomon, King of Israel and arguably the richest man in the history of the world. It is a personal account of his search for happiness. I will not fully repeat it here, but he tells of chasing wealth, knowledge, women and fame. In the end, he says it is all ‘vanity'; a King James era English word used as the translation of the Hebrew ‘hebel’ (pronounced ‘heh-VEL’). In Hebrew, the word literally means ‘vapor’. So it’s air. Nothing in the vernacular. One of the meanings of the English word ‘vain’ is useless or without effect.

Gentle readers, no one is really happy. Not as adults, at least. When we were kids we were probably happier. When we were young enough not to know. For most of us, we had a place to live, clothing and enough to eat. Someone else paid the bills. We didn’t get everything we wanted, but we had pretty much what we needed and we played and we were happy. Except maybe for baths and when we broke something.

I once knew an adult who was generally happy. I mean really happy. Everything to him was new and fresh and neat. He had a serious mental deficiency. But he was probably the happiest fellow I ever met. Much happier than me at the least. That strikes me as a high price to pay for happiness, though.

People who are not believers can attain a level of satisfaction in life. However, there is always something ‘not quite there’ remaining. An unseen desire, an unthought thought. C. S. Lewis talks about this and I’m sure correctly diagnoses the problem as a lack of God. Please don’t think this is criticism; it is merely an observation of the human condition. The illustration of the ‘God shaped hole’ keeps returning. We all have a void in our soul – that inner part of us which shapes and becomes our mind in the sense of character, ego and moral fiber. It was made when mankind rebelled against God in the beginning. We are all aware of the lack, even if we don’t know exactly what it is or why it’s there.

Christians also have the void. Except, being with Christ, we have some mitigation of the ‘lack’ awareness. It is not that God has fully entered us and there is no lack, no void awareness; but rather that God partially fills it – AND we have the positive expectation that it will be properly and fully filled when we meet Him in Heaven. Christians know – at least should know – why we have that unsettled feeling of lack or waiting for something.

So, are Christians happy in the sense that ‘anyone in the world’ would recognize? Probably not. However, Christians who understand the relationship (not fully understand, but basically understand) between God and us as individuals have a certain ‘contentment’ that does no attach from conditions. Yes, Christians are happy in the sense of contentment; which may or probably may not be discernible to non-believers. Again, this is not a judgment or nasty comment; it is merely the statement that non-believers judge success or happiness by a different standard. That non-believers do not understand Christian standards is not a slam either, the statement only reflects a non-believer cannot understand that which has never been exposed to them.

One last word to Christians who are not happy and unsure they ever will be.

Full happiness, that knowledge the ‘hole is finally filled’ and the unspoken desire is fulfilled will only come when we receive our final reward and enter eternity. If one is without the ‘contentment’ of blessings to come, do not panic! The contentment part is much like prayer and push-ups. It comes with practicing with God and the effects are not instant, but cumulative.

Don’t Panic! God has you.

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On Prayer (Part Two)

Does God answer prayer?

That’s a loaded question.

The answer is “Of course God answers prayer”. Then the argument begins.

“God didn’t answer MY prayer!” is usually the beginning of the counter-argument.

So… The concept of God answering prayer is rather misunderstood. To begin, God is not a Cosmic Genie (djinn) who is obligated to grant all requests. Far too often, this is a common assumption although not usually spoken aloud.

Consider the djinn. To obtain wishes – be it three or unlimited – one must first locate the djinn bottle or lamp. Then, one is obliged to polish or rub the lamp in order to summon the djinn. In a rather far-stretched analogy, in order to obtain some favor from God, one must first establish a relationship with Him. There’s no point in asking much of anyone unless one has open lines of communication, some sort of relationship.

A standard bit of Christian doctrine is the only prayer a non-believer can submit that will be heard and answered is that of a request for forgiveness of sins. This action includes and cannot be made without a request to God to ‘fix’ one’s life. So an opening prayer without prior communication to win the lottery is probably not going to be answered affirmatively.

In short, nonbelievers should not expect anything material from God; other than what God provides to the world at large. Forgive me if this seems rather curt and dismissive, but that’s how it works. One wouldn’t expect a gift of several thousand dollars from George Soros (who has it to give, by all accounts) without at least being on speaking terms with him. Get real.

In my observation, God gives three answers to any given prayer.

1. “Yes.”

2. “No.”

3. “Stand by, I’ve got a better idea.”

The third answer is the most common. When Christians ask The Lord for something – either knowledge or merchandise – and honestly want an answer, God is most willing to assist.

One should be aware of asking for silly things. Even if one is serious in asking for, say, attached, bird-like wings powered by one’s own muscles; humans do not as a rule have wings. All manner of ‘super powers’ can be safely included in this consideration. Also, consider that if The Lord should grant such powers, He may expect one to use those powers appropriately. Being Batman might become a burden.

As long as I’m on the subject of silliness, I’ll include this idea. Don’t expect God to cover for sloth, negligence or carelessness. A student who has ignored all lectures, homework and studying for the entire course of a class. Praying for a ‘good grade’ is not a good idea. There are all manner of ‘problems’ which are caused by human misconduct for which one cannot reasonably expect God to cover. Driving into a tree by neglect, for instance; then expecting God to fix the damage to the car. Getting liquored up stupid and then expecting God to cure the hangover. Sow wild oats all week and then pray for crop failure.
Or worse. You pick.

As I mentioned in the previous installment, prayer is a two-way communication. Not only that, but as one’s prayer life develops, one understands more of what God expects and desires. So our prayers as Christians become part of the effort to grow in knowledge of God and to serve His will and kingdom. One doesn’t ask a ‘friend’ for a favor which revolts the friend’s sensibilities or morals. One cannot seriously ask God to perform – or fail to perform – an action in total disregard of God’s nature.

Usually, when God answers “No”, there is an obvious explanation – as above – or a specific explanation. God does not, even in ‘normal’ life encourage sloth, covetousness or lack of motivation. Winning the lottery will not – by God’s design – take the place of work and thrift. Or just planning ahead.

The most common answer to prayer is “I’ve got a better idea”. Usually, when Christians pray they have thought through the perceived problem and offer their own solution for God’s action. When The Lord agrees that a problem exists, He already has a plan. Prayer will allow a Christian to understand, agree with and submit to The Lord’s will in the matter. That is part of the feed back God gives us through prayer. This qualifies as a “Yes” answer, but usually in a manner other than one thought. Which is good, when thinking about it.

This also covers things like ‘world peace’, ‘hunger’ and ‘violence’. God has already given humanity the knowledge and instructions to take care of all those issues. The problem is humans tend to ignore God and do what suits them – and usually just for the moment. God chooses not to ‘fix’ everything right now. That would entail changing everyone and they way everyone thinks against their will. That doesn’t seem to be way God operates. He wants humanity to willingly accept Him, and follow the already disclosed directions. Then all those horrid things in world history will end.

Learning to pray as a mature Christian is a learned task. And like most learned tasks, or skills, it requires practice and paying attention to why it didn’t go as one expected – the first time.

One more item. Nearly every Christian has prayed for God to reveal His will to them. He will, but only when the Christian is already doing what God wants them to be doing now. If one refuses to follow God in the simple things, He isn’t likely to trust one in the advanced things.

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On Prayer (Part One)

Okay, I’m not mad at anyone or anything particularly. Truthfully, I’m probably mad about something – I typically am. My anger is one of the things I would dearly like to control, to mitigate, to suppress in the sense of controlling it, not just stuff it down and allow it to fester. But right now, I feel the need, the impulse, the direction by Almighty God to discuss prayer.

Prayer in the proper sense is communication with God. Communication suggests a dialog, not a monologue. If one prays in the proper way, one also hears from God, as well as directing thoughts merely to God.

This essay is primarily directed to Christians, but non-Christians are encouraged to read it as well. Perhaps not all the concepts herein will be fully clear to non-Christians; it is my expectation that some degree of clarity will transmit to all. In any event, the Lord has made it clear I should write this.

Why do Christians pray?

One obvious answer is that Christians are directed to pray. The words of Jesus and the writers of the New Testament rather expected followers of Jesus Christ – therefore, of God – to pray. However, that simple answer, as technically correct as it is, can be misleading. Christians are not to pray simply to check off one of God’s commands.

When we were children, or perhaps adults in a new and rather strange to us relationship with God, most of us prayed simple prayers of requests. Something on the order of “Forgive me for [fill in the blank yourself]; Bless Mom and Dad and so on and so forth”. Then usually follows (or proceeds) the list of ‘godgimmes’. “God, give me a new bicycle; God, give me new shoes; God, gimme the answers to the test at school” and such things. At meals, as ‘young’ (in some sense) we are taught to thank God for the food.

Allow me to point out all these things are valid in some sense. We are to pray and express remorse and contrition for sinful behavior. We are to pray ‘intercessory’ prayers for others. We are to express our needs and hopes and goals, and seek Divine assistance in these things. We are to be thankful.

But comes the question as we gain maturity, both as a person and as a Christian, why is this needful? God is omniscient, and therefore knows all these things before we do. What is the point of telling God what He already knows? Why does God command us to pray? What’s the point?

I suggest the point is that God wants us to be aware of these things ourselves, and to allow His feedback to appreciate all of life and our relationship to Him more fully.

As an example, when I pray over a meal and savor the thoughts, I realize many things I tend to skip in the normal course of the day. I provide my own meals in the sense I pay for them. However, to pay for a meal (either at home or ‘out’) I have to have money in my account (or pocket). That means I have to have a source of income. Neither food nor money falls from the sky to feed me.

My income these days comes from the retirement annuity from the years I worked. My annuity is based on roughly twenty-two years of working at a job I generally liked, but sometimes loathed. I dealt with idiotic supervisors and managers, idiotic co-workers and idiotic ‘customers’ while bound to enforce sometimes idiotic laws and regulations. Not all of them, of course. But enough to have regularly considered telling them all to shove it and walk out the door. I didn’t. But in retrospect, I didn’t because of the Grace of God who strengthened me to do the job. Not just to perform the appointed tasks and duties, but also to avoid insubordination, rebellion, physical violence and probably hardest of all, my rather sarcastic and vengeful mouth.

Thank you, My Lord. Thank you for keeping me from destroying myself in terms of career and earning power. Thinking back, this effort of the Lord was NOT a single occurrence. My dear Lord intervened in my life many times a day; probably more while at work.

When I pray over a meal, the Lord reminds me none of it came from chance or luck. All manner of food, meat, vegetables, fruits, cereal grains, coffee, water, beer and apple pie is the result of other people’s work. A normal breakfast for me involves a farmer – probably farmerS – who planted, watered, fertilized, weeded, harvested and transported potatoes and wheat grain to those who further process such things. My normal breakfast also demands some grower who put up with chickens, and the sacrifice of those chickens of their eggs. And a rather ultimate demand upon a pig or two.

Then there are the people who turn raw products into foodstuffs. Bakers come to mind. The people who grind coffee for brewing. Not to mention the staff at a restaurant who serve it. Even the many people who make sure the grocery store functions properly.

That’s just from giving thanks over a meal. (I’ve probably missed something in this. Forgive me.)

When I ask for ‘blessings’ on those I love, if I’m paying attention to what I’m saying, God reminds me of my responsibility for ‘blessing’ those I mention. What can I do for my children? They’re all grown up, but I still have a responsibility to encourage, comfort and assist them at need. My Lord reminds me I cannot merely mouth a ‘blessing’ and not seek out manners of assistance for them.

The same goes for ‘starving children in [fill in the blank]’. How can I say words of blessing for them and not be concerned about their needs? The Lord reminds me of this. How much can I send to reliable charitable organizations for the purpose? Are there children in my town – neighborhood? – in need? I must act in some manner, or my prayers are just self-righteous murmurings. If nothing else, God reminds me I ought to be about the business of helping others in need.

This same phenomenon occurs when I consider and pray for all those who do not know, who do not have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. I understand there are far too many people who do not have such. I can help feed children and adults who lack sustenance. However, they will eventually all die at some point – then what? As a Christian, I am aware the Grace of God extended to me as a sinner is not a corporate affair. Christianity, the following of Christ unto eternal relationship with Almighty God is an individual matter. Those are the rules set by God; everyone must acknowledge dependence on The Lord individually.

From Paul’s letter to the Romans (chapter 10) How are they to call on one they have not believed in? And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of? And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them

It’s not like specific directions ‘just occur’ to non-believers. Christians are directed by Jesus Himself to Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

When I pray with attention to God, He reminds me. I need reminding, it seems.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, Obamanomics!

As if there were any doubt, the current President wants to tax everyone in the country with any sort of income. With the familiar coded message of ‘tax the rich’, the President now seeks to increase income taxes on every person in these United States with any sort of financial gain at all. Make no mistake, the catch phrase ‘tax the rich’ is understood as ‘anyone not on government support’.

If anyone has any ‘income’ from working, or from a pension or earned Social Security, or investments, or capital gains – any possible excuse – they will see a tax increase. Where will the money go? To pay for the progressive left’s dream of paying off those who voted for the leftist agenda of crippling the economy of the United States. All those who depend on the Democrat Collective to feed and house them.

The agenda of the progressive left is clearly and without doubt that of ‘class warfare'; depending on the idle, indolent and gullible to riot, demand and vote – perhaps often – for socialism.

If there were any doubt, I reject Obamanomics and the socialist dream.

Please understand, the taxation of ‘the rich’ – a nebulous phrase indeed – will undertake to destroy the ability of private industry to generate jobs. Not the ‘minimum wage’ jobs so beloved of the progressive left, but real jobs that pay actual living wages, thereby impoverishing all those who seek to earn a living.

Presumably, the Republican controlled Congress will not allow these tax increases to occur. One hopes. However, no person should be in doubt as to the real goal and agenda of the progressive left. More taxes, less actual jobs, a weakened national defense and a total dependency on the Federal Government for shelter, food, clothing and anything to make life more palatable.

The left derided President Reagan’s vision for a strong United States. A United States that had a strong industrial and business basis that employed a majority of working people and ensured a strong national defense. The progressive left called his plan ‘Reaganomics’ and ‘trickle-down’ prosperity.

The progressive left promotes Obamanomics and trickle up destitution.

Take your pick.

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