Saturday, May 31, 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

This came to me via a slideshow in an email from a buddy.  The caption was in French. I don't read French but I could tell the date was December 21, 1945.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Scholastic Update - Endeavouring to Persevere

Its been a few weeks since I started helping my friend's kindergartner get caught up in school and a progress report is in order.

We have a number of obstacles to overcome but we are making progress.

His parents recently divorced.  His dad's an alcoholic.  Now instead of an alcoholic dad, the kid has an alcoholic deadbeat dad.  Dad can't pay his child support but just bought a $45,000 diesel truck and was already behind on his child support when he did that.   The kid shuffles between two homes depending on who has custody on what day.  Can't help much there.

I'm scheduled to work with him on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  That usually works out on Tuesdays but Thursdays have been hit or miss.

The kid has a short attention span.   Think Calvin right after a double bowl of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs.    

Fortunately, I was about the same at his age so we work a little and goof off a little and work some more and goof off some more until homework is done.  I am officially authorized to use the dreaded fly-swatter on him but have not needed to do so. 

Spelling and writing have improved but are nowhere near where he should be.  We still have problems with some of the fundamentals like the difference between a lower case b and a lower case d.   We conquered the backwards S pretty easily but the backwards 5 has been more stubborn.   School will be over for the summer in a couple of weeks and he needs so many of the fundamentals that I don't see him getting up to snuff by the end of the year.  The teacher says he won't fail kindergarten so we will have the summer to get him straightened out.

The kid got a 61 on a spelling test that he could have aced.  He aced it three times with me.   In school, where it counted, he got a 61.  He said he did "OK."  It was an improvement.    He showed me a test with three questions on it.  He had to say what day it was, what day tomorrow was and what day yesterday was.  That was the whole test.  He showed it to me because he was proud of how well he did and then asked me what the -2 and the frowny face on it meant.   He didn't realize that he missed two of the three questions.   In a perfect world, someone should have taught him the days of the week before now and someone should have been involved enough with him to tell him how he is really doing.  The teacher left that up to me.  (I saw the test right after he took it and before the parents had a chance to see it).

He is doing better at spelling and putting sentences together.  He is making really good progress with reading comprehension.  Its a long row to hoe but he's moving in the right direction.

Math, on the other hand, is really impressive.  His homework isn't much of anything to an adult but they give the whole week's homework assignment to him on Monday.  We did the whole week's Math homework in half an hour. 

Half an hour!  That included a break to explain how fluorescent lights work because he noticed that one that was malfunctioning and looked like it was moving and a few minutes making a goofy picture of an old man with one tooth and a big nose out of his backwards #5.   Half an hour.  The kid ain't dumb. 

He doesn't resist doing his homework as much as he used to.  I think that's because he knows he won't get yelled at (momma's a little high-strung right now what with the divorce and all) and he has had some victories to build upon.

He's interested in tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes and lightening. 

He really liked the book I got him and has read it at least twice.

Momma is thinking about buying him a BB Gun.  I'm all for something like that but I think he's still a little impulsive for something that can put out an eye.   They live in town and have a small back yard so its not like he will be able to go on a BB Gun Safari in the back yard.   That could lead to trouble.  "Hey look, a bird; a cat; how'd it hit that window?"  (No, I'm not going to insert a picture of Ralphy).  I think something in an air-soft would be a better fit at his age.   Pending parental approval, I hope to get him set up with something in a 1911-ish style air-soft gun; just a plastic, spring type one; and a reactive target system this week.  

Show me a public school that will motivate a kid like that.

It Don't Take Long

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Its Real

But where are the rodents of unusual size?

The Good Old Days

Friday, May 16, 2014

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

On The Bright Side...

They Didn't Shoot the Dog.

My Mother is in her mid-eighties, has pretty advanced macular degeneration and uses a walker to get around.  She pays the cat lady next door to help out around the house.

The cat lady is the neighborhood mental case.  Besides having three or four dozen cats (after a certain point you just can't keep track) she's in her mid-40s, doesn't drive and doesn't work.  Doesn't cut her hair.  Doesn't go to the dentist. 

Its only been during the last ten years or so that she's actually left the confines of her house and walked around the block.

The cat lady comes over in the morning to feed and walk the dog, watches TV until my Mother gets up and then does whatever it is that she does all day for her $200 a week plus meals.  What ever it is, it ain't much.

Sometime on Monday, Mother decided to throw away an old smoke detector.  It was chirping as smoke detectors are inclined to do when their batteries get low.  I don't know if that's why she tossed it but she put it in the trash can that sits out by the service alley.

Cat lady comes over Tuesday Morning and takes the dog for his morning  walk.  The dog hears something in the trash can go "CHIRP!" and starts barking at the trash can.  The dog barks at everything.  That's why Mother has him.  Cat lady heard it go "CHIRP!" too but she didn't bark.  She is the cat lady, after all.   No, she studied on it for a second and reached the only conclusion a rational adult could reach when they hear something that sounds like a smoke detector chirping away in a trash can.  She grabbed the dog, retreated into the house and called 911 to tell them there was a bomb in the trash can.

Yes.  Those terrorists are getting so sneaky that they are disguising their bombs to sound like smoke detectors with bad batteries.  Fortunately, there's no pulling one over on cat lady.  Not even with the old bomb disguised as a smoke detector trick.   She was way ahead of them.   They should have stuck with the old iron ball with a fuse.

Seriously, we all know what a high value target a half crippled, mostly blind retired piano teacher is on most any terrorist's to-do list so what was she supposed to think?

When the Police came, the dog started barking at them because that's what he's there for.   That woke Mother up (evidently, cat lady didn't think that the bomb that was certainly in the trash can was a good enough reason to wake Mother up) and Mother got to the kitchen just in time to hear the "all clear."

The danged thing turned out to just be a smoke detector.   Talk about a close call.  Who could have foreseen that?

No one was arrested and the dog didn't get shot so I suppose the morning could have started out worse.    I'm just thankful the cat lady doesn't vote.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Jake & Miller's Big Adventure

I saw this over at   The Lonely Libertarian   a few days ago and thought it might be something that would interest the kid that I'm tutoring.  I ordered a copy from  Amazon  and it arrived over the weekend.

Its a cute little book that's probably suitable for kids from about kindergarten to maybe 3rd grade.  The illustrations will make it interesting for the younger ones.  The text isn't exactly kindergarten level but its not so challenging that it would discourage a little kid.

The story is good, the message about thinking ahead and being prepared is clear but not overdone and it has a cute ending.   I dropped it off with my student's mom this afternoon and she thought it was perfect.  I'm really looking forward to hearing the kid read it tomorrow.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

It was Square and it was a Deal

Probably close to twenty years ago, I bought a Dillon Square Deal press.

I had dies for 45 ACP, 9mm, .32 ACP and one other cartridge that I honestly can't remember.   Somehow, in moving my reloading stuff into storage several years ago and then back out of storage maybe three or four years ago, the 9mm and the forgotten die set got lost.

Not having the 9mm die was OK because I don't shoot much 9mm anyway but, now that my brother in law has a 9mm, I've been thinking that I ought to find the danged dies so I could load for him without it taking all day.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from my old buddy Dave.  He's the one that I call Mr. Haney because he's always looking for some kind of a way to turn a buck. 

His plans usually involve tractors (guess where I got mine), guns, loading equipment or powder.   He doesn't need the money.  He just enjoys wheeling and dealing.  

This time he had a small pickup truck full of loading equipment, powder, bullets, lead etc.  In among all of it were a Dillon 550 and two Square Deal presses.  One of the Square Deal presses was set up for 9mm.

Hmmmmm.   $200 for a Square Deal press from Mr. Haney or $98.00 plus shipping from Dillon for just the 9mm quick change kit.   It takes maybe two minutes for me to take one press off the reloading bench and put another one in its place.  Even with the quick change kit I'd have to change the tool head, the shell plate and the primer feed.  That can easily take ten minutes.   In my mind, the superior utility of having a 2nd Square Deal already dedicated to 9mm offset most of the price difference between the used press and the new quick change kit.  Having a new toy to play with offset the rest so I bought the press.   Besides, I'm doing this so I can load for The Lovely Bride's brother so its not like I'm actually buying anything for myself. 

My loading bench has several spaces with a uniform, three bolt pattern for mounting presses.  Whatever kind of press it is, it gets bolted to a piece of 2 x 6.  The 2 x 6 is cut to whatever length will put the press where it needs to be in relation to the edge of the bench and holes are bored to match the bolt pattern on the bench.  Blind nuts on the underside of the bench make mounting a press just a matter of putting three 5/16" bolts through the holes in the 2 x 6 and snugging them up.

I didn't feel like loading a bunch of ammo but a couple of days ago, I decided I'd go ahead and get the new-to-me press mounted to its 2 x 6 and then to the bench.  That didn't take long so I decided to adjust the dies to seat the bullets that I cast a couple of weeks ago.  That was easy so I got to looking at my powder shelf.  I had a partial can of 800X in there that had maybe a cup of powder in it and I had a partial tray of small pistol primers on the bench so I decided it wouldn't take much time to look up a recipe and set the powder measure.  A buddy had given me about ten gallons of range brass a few years ago and a lot of it was 9mm so I had plenty of brass.  I loaded the primers into the press and pretty soon I had the measure throwing the right charge.

Now I had two primed cases and one of them had powder in it too.  Might as well run them around the press so they'd be finished.

That was so effortless I decided I'd go ahead and use up the primers in the magazine so I wound up loading sixty-five of the little Europellets before the primers ran out.

It all happened almost before I realized it.

They look better than the ones my old 9mm Square Deal dies used to load.  I always suspected that the sizing die in my old 9mm set might have been made for .380.  It sized the body of the 9mm cases a lot more than the new to me press/die does.  These look good and they all go through my 9mm cartridge gauge perfectly.  I think I got my money's worth; seein' as how its for the family and all.