Wednesday, October 19, 2011 Filed in: Rifles
This actually happened: last night I had a dream that I was living in my grandfather's beach residence. This was unusual inasmuch as I haven't seen that place since I was about five or six years old (my grandfather sold it shortly thereafter) and have only vague recollections of what it looked like.
Oddly, I remember his neighbors and their house more than his. My dream had me in my grandfather’s garage, engaged in firefight with a group of invaders who had seized the neighbor’s house. There were four of them - a man, woman, and two teenage boys - shooting at me as I vainly tried to get the police on the phone.
At one point I ran out of ammunition for my AR-15 and frantically searched the garage for more. I found one of those reddish brown bakelite magazines for an AK-74 (did they ever make them for the AK-47?), fully loaded, which I shoved into the magazine well of my AR. Strangely I got it in and it worked, and I resumed the imaginary firefight. The dream ended with my wife calling my cel phone, wondering why I was making so much noise!
Normally I wouldn't bore you with such a story, but this whole melding of the AK and AR came immediately to mind when I opened my RSS reader this morning. There I found The Firearm Blog reporting that Russian arms maker Molot - a subsidiary of Izhmash, home of the AK rifle - is going to be making AR-15 rifles!
A number of job shops in this country have been building AK rifles for some time, though no major manufacturer has seen fit to do so. I suppose it's only fair that if we're building their guns, they should build some of ours. I doubt, however, that my magazine fantasy will be a part of their plans.
What's next - Rossi building double rifles in .416 Rigby??
-=[ Grant ]=-
Friday, February 04, 2011 Filed in: Friday Surprise!
My buddy Hunter Dan sent this to me - a video about the phenomenon of 'frazil ice' in Yosemite National Park. This is so cool (pardon the pun.) Yet another thing to add to my list of places to go and things to see. Have a good weekend!
-=[ Grant ]=-
Last week I linked to an article about an eery graveyard behind a sanitarium, and fellow gunsmith Todd Koonce wrote to remind me of the Library of Dust here in Oregon. It’s something we all know about, but sadly tend to ignore.
The Oregon State Hospital, the current 'PC' name for what was once the Oregon Asylum For The Insane, once boasted a cemetery of their own where unclaimed patient remains were buried. Around 1913 the hospital, occupying property close to downtown Salem, decided that they needed the real estate being taken up by those graves. They had the bodies exhumed, cremated, and stored in copper urns bearing a distinct resemblance to paint cans.
These urns were put on shelves in the hospital's basement, added to over the years, but largely forgotten until the mid-1970s. That's when public outcry resulted in the urns being properly buried in a special crypt on hospital grounds. This is Oregon, though, where it's tough to find a dry basement; water infiltrated the crypt, destroying hundreds of paper labels and corroding many of the cans. The patient's remains - some 5,000 of them - were exhumed again, and the corroded and sometimes dented copper cylinders were put back on shelves in a small room in the hospital.
BoxVox has a great story and many of the best pictures of these morbidly fascinating objects.
-=[ Grant ]=-
In 1791, the French Assembly decided that the purpose of capital punishment was to end a miscreant's life, not to cause him unbearable pain. A committee was formed for the purpose of devising a pain-free method of execution that was suitable for both upper and lower class undesirables. How egalitarian of them!
One of the committee members was a Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin. While he was opposed to the death penalty, he believed that making it more humane would lead to its abolition. (The logic behind this escapes me, but apparently doctors often have this failing: one Dr. Richard J. Gatling, inventor of the gun that bears his name, believed that the creation of a terrible weapon would inspire people to no longer entertain the idea of war. Didn't work for him, either.)
The French committee eventually came up with a beheading machine, and because of the good doctor's promotion of the new "humane" method his name was associated forever with the contraption.
But just how humane is the guillotine? This article at Damn Interesting raises all kinds of questions about just what happens at the instant one's head is separated from its support mechanisms. Personally, I hope to never find out!
-=[ Grant ]=-
I'm recovering from a BUSY weekend.
On Friday and Saturday I did my annual duty at a local high school's all-night graduation party. For several years I've volunteered as part of their security detail, making sure the kids stay safe from both internal and external threats. (This, despite having no children of my own! How did I get talked into this?) It starts every year at about 10:pm and goes until breakfast the next morning.
I usually get a long nap Friday afternoon before the event, but this year I couldn't do it. Not in the sense that I didn't have time, but because I just couldn't fall asleep in the middle of the day! The net result is that I ended up going 24+ hours without sleep, and I'm just not used to that kind of thing! After it was over I crawled into bed and dropped right off to sleep. Saturday was essentially toast.
Sunday I worked my way up to The English Pit range in Vancouver USA to help out at a Combat Focus Shooting/Advanced Pistol Handling class with Rob Pincus. Jeff Varner, one of my fellow Combat Focus instructors, hosted the course at what is his home range. Great class.
After class Randy, the club's owner, brought out his Mateba Unica 6. Rob thought the Unica to be mythical, but here is a picture of him shooting the .44 Magnum beast as Randy looks on in amusement:
(I have another pic of Rob which is far more embarrassing. I'm keeping that one in my files as "insurance"!)
Non-related note: the best arrangement of the tune "It Might As Well Be Spring" is on the 1961 Stan Kenton "Adventures in Jazz" album. I don't have the liner notes handy, but I believe it's a Gene Roland arrangement.
-=[ Grant ]=-
I get lots of strange emails, and sometimes a patten emerges in the subject matter. A year or so ago, I was getting frequent inquiries as to the cost of custom making a top-break revolver in .44 Magnum or .454 Casull. My stock answer was a) you don't have the kind of money it would take, and b) I'm not the guy to be asking. After a while even that became tedious, and I round-filed every subsequent one that came in.
Those emails finally stopped, but they've been replaced by emails asking if I can modify a S&W to have a gas seal mechanism like a Nagant. They invariably mention that they would like to be able to suppress such a gun.
The first couple I answered in the negative; after they started coming in every week or so (yes, from different people), I decided to go into “ignore” mode. There’s just something odd about such a request, particularly coming in quantity, and I rather not encourage continued dialogue.
Why the sudden interest? The only explanation I can come up with is that some video game or movie features such a gun, prompting the impressionable to send emails to the first few hits that Google gives them. (I should be checking my referral logs...)
Since I'm not of the sort that often goes to the movies, let alone plays video games, perhaps someone out there could tell me if they've seen such a thing in either of those venues?
-=[ Grant ]=-
Sadly, my dog's fleas aren't terribly talented, unlike the fleas chronicled in Dark Roasted Blend's entry on Victorian flea circuses.
That, however, isn't the end of the story. In the aforementioned article I learned of a blog devoted to flea circus research. No, I'm not kidding.
There are some really odd blogs out there. As I always say, though, “everyone needs a hobby!”
-=[ Grant ]=-
P.S.: It just occurred to me that there may be even odder blogs floating around the intertubes. Post your strangest blog finds in the comments. (No extremely profane sites or anything dealing with sexual fetishes. We want to see odd, not disgusting.)