Category Archives: General

re:loading

Over a year ago my in-laws were gracious enough to get me a nice gift certificate to Cabela’s for Christmas.  So I decided to use it towards the purchase of an RCBS rock chucker supreme master reloading kit.   Sounds impressive, I know.

Anyway, I bought the kit…and some additional reloading items, brought it home and it sat in my closet for about a year.  Such is life.  Then, about 4 months ago, I decided to start taking my gun shooting seriously and in order to do that I would need to start reloading.  So, I dusted off the gear….bought a workbench for the garage to mount the press on, and dove headfirst into the Lyman Reloading Handbook.

As a computer programmer by trade, I take pride in being able to solve problems.  And so at first, reading the manual felt like I was reading a completely different language.  Greek would be easy compared to this:  primer pockets, chamfer tools, carbide die sets, OAL’s, powder charges, and flash holes were just the beginning.  The basics seemed simple, but once you get into caliber specific information, a man could literally spend weeks lost in the veritable maze of permutations of casings, powders, bullets and primer options…..and that’s just for a single caliber!

After a couple of days on and off of reading the steps over and over, I realized I honestly still had no clue how to put it all together in practice to make actual ammunition.  So I did what any self respecting man would do in the modern age: I went and found a video of another dude on Youtube fumbling his way through reloading too!!  Actually…I found a really good 4 part intro that really cleared up a lot of confusion.    And so on a cold winter day I ran my first 50 handloads of 9mm through my trusty RCBS single stage press.  

When they came out (believe me, it took a while) I actually took pictures of them (right).  They were like little mini-children that I’d somehow spawned from a mixture of determination, ingenuity, sorta-know-how and a good dose of “I hope I don’t blow myself up” thrown in for good….er….measure.

So the mini-children sat in my gun safe for about a week.  I stared at them daily hoping the next weekend would be nice enough to head to The Playground and see if I came back with all limbs intact.

I think it’s fair to say as a point of note here that while there certainly may be people out there who have reloaded ammunition for the first time who did NOT in any way, shape or form feel the need to take out a second life insurance policy prior to “testing” their first loads.  If so, they have a set that clanks and I applaud their talents at not care much about life nor limb….or perhaps being too stupid to know otherwise.  Be that as it may, I was NOT one of those people.  To be quite honest, I let them sit in the safe longer than I really had to, but just wasn’t sure I had the guts to actually detonate them with anything less than body armor on.  And unfortunately, body armor is not cheap.

Anyway, back to the story.  So I take them out The Playground within a few weeks, along with several other guns and a full can of ammo intending to do bodily harm to some steel targets.   Poor targets.  And I figure I might as well just go ahead and find out if I read the instructions  (or as my Dad would say…the “destructions”) correctly, followed the videos and overall did a good job of making my first batch of explosive devices (yes Mr. NSA…I said explosive devices).

Anyway….I’ll save you the suspense.   Having to learn to type with one hand is a lot harder than I thought it would be.   OK, seriously….I fired all 50 reloads on target at 25 feet.  Sure, I had a big target…but you’re missing the point.  They worked!!  At that moment as I bent down to pick up my 50 cases of spent brass….thinking the whole while about cranking up the charge by another half a grain, getting something other than RNFP’s, or maybe trying some winchester primers on the next load…….I suddenly realized how all these people get addicted to reloading.

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Confession

I must…ahem….confess that going to Confession is not my most favorite thing to do. I’ll allow you to ponder the utter deepness of that statement.

Ok, all joking aside. I say this because as someone who has made it a point to actually understand what I am doing with regards to religion in general, and Catholic religion in specific (which I find most people don’t even attempt to undertake — this is another entire blog, much less an entire post), I find that no matter how many times I frequent the Sacrament, it has never “taken” with me.

The point is that it never gets easier. Sin is sin. It’s ugly. It’s embarassing. Did I mention it’s embarassing? Yes, pity poor me sitting in the confessional looking at Fr. ?? yet AGAIN telling him why I can’t seem to stop ??, even though he told me LAST time to quit it, now. The debased portion of my readership will fill in the ??’s with lord knows what, pretending this is a sicko version of Mad-Libs for the perverted. The angels among you will find it easier to relate.

And yet, as it never gets easier, it never gets more difficult either. In fact I am yet still shocked that, after having divulged who I really and truly am to another human being, they do not simply run from me in horror. It is much like the knowledge one possesses that your spouse really (and I mean REALLY) knows you, and yet still loves you. In fact, the shock and awe I expect from Fr. So-And-So, even though I’ve never actually seen any priest react thusly, not only never materializes, but strangely enough fails to even register in the slightest.

This is because of two things I believe. The first is simply that most priests have hear more confessions than any one of us laypersons cares to think about. If anything, hearing confessions to a priest is probably more akin to penance for them, rather than our imaginative fantasies of soap opera lore. The second reason is that we must not forget that while Confession is hard, it is a Sacrament, and thus God has seen fit to bestow an abundance of Grace upon those who come, even fearfully, with a truly repentant heart. Believe me, I know.

So while I can’t say I enjoy it when I need to go, I have found that I learn more about what it means to be holy by bringing to the fore exactly what keeps me from it.  It’s not easy to do….but I think that is the point.

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Stock Chart Anomaly?

DJI Linear

This is Friday’s DJIA chart.  I just happened to notice it this weekend as I was poking around the Yahoo Finance area.

Now I’m no financial guru by any means.  I’m no day-trader and I certainly do not claim to be an expert on the machinations of the Wall Street elite.   However, even I look at this chart and wonder how the hell something as volatile and “chaotic” as the minute by minute fluctuations of the world’s largest stock market could produce a near linear growth for nearly 2 hours.

It seems to me that if trading were suspended during that time, one would expect to see a plateau of sorts.   But a perfectly linear progression of millions upon millions of stocks being bought and sold by literally millions upon millions of different people?  Bueller? Bueller? Anyone??

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Poverty Remembered

Piura homeThis week marks two years since I last travelled to Piura, Peru. Having been there several time, and made close friends with many of the staff at Santisimo Sacramento parish, it makes me sad to remember the intense poverty that is rampant in that part of the world.

I am reminded once again when I see pictures being sent back from our friends who are there these next few weeks of what Pope Benedict said concerning charitable giving to such poverty stricken people when he was still a Cardinal in “God and the World”:

You must give more than this. You must come yourselves; you must give of yourselves; and you must help, so that the material gifts you bring are used appropriately, so that they are not just something you pull out of a bag in order to buy your way out of the difficulty we represent, the problem we are for you.

For that is what the poor are to the world, a problem. A problem for us to feed, a problem for us to care for, a problem for us to clothe and to teach, a problem for us to even think about. For doing so would force us out of the luxuries of our daily thinking, which all too often is of mere “things”, rather than people and ultimately God.

There are two things in my life which have drastically altered how I see the world. Piura, Peru was the first. Having children was the second. When you truly value any human life as you value your own child’s…..it makes it easier to empathize with and recognize the intense loss, the intense suffering, the intense shame that comes about in those people who have not the means to help their own children, to care for their own parents, to feed their own families.

We cannot fathom what they wake up to each day, for we have more than they can even imagine. And accordingly we don’t understand how to live on faith, because we have no need of it. But faith does exist. It exists for the elderly man who’s family has all passed and has no way to feed himself….in a city with 70% unemployment among those healthy enough to work, much less those in his position. It exists for the young wife with 3 children whose husband cannot find work, even when travelling dozens upon dozens of miles away from home on foot to seek it. It exists when God sends people like you and I to do the work that they cannot, to be the manna come down from Heaven which truly feeds their children. I’ve seen it….it does exist.

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Filed under Catholicism, General, Peru

Joe’s Wedding

Pete & EdwinMy good friend and colleague Joe A. got married a few weeks ago. My wife Aron and I attended and really had an amazing time.

Josh and Diana (who came down from Minnesota to attend — we miss you guys so much!!), Edwin, Mark & Rebecca and several others were there. It was a great time and we wish Joe & Lydia many blessings in their future together.

Cheers!

Wedding crew at joe and lydia wedding

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Using ConvertAll to Imitate Native Covariance/Contravariance in C# Generics

A recent project at work required that we port a relatively large solution from the 1.1 to the 2.0 .NET framework. Overall the conversion went fairly smoothly, with most conflicts being namespace issues with classes that we had in our codebase which conflicted with new classes in the System API.

Once the conversion was completed, our methodology was to start implementing 2.0 specific language features like generics, anonymous methods, etc on an as-need basis or when we were implementing new code. It was during one of these attempts to utilize generics at a base level of our data access layer where I found a slight problem.

The problem was that in our 1.1 version of the code we heavily utilized a cached mechanism using reflection to determine parameterization values on all of our stored procedures. Basically at a core base level the DAL code could determine which return values in a SqlDataReader matched up with properties of our inner data classes (using a combination of custom attributes and some reflection), thus eliminating the need to ever write explicit code for input or output parameters on SQL calls. That is highly simplifying how this works, but in a nutshell that’s the context of this example.

Now, here is a simplified call from a DAL class which is specific to a particular class called “DerivedClass”. This business entity object contains an instance of another class called DerivedClassData whose sole purpose is as a transport for the actual data of that class.


        public ArrayList GetDerivedClasses(params object[] a_params)
        {
            return base.ReadMultipleRecords(
                "STORED_PROC", //SP
                typeof(DerivedClassData), //Type to return
                a_params);
        }

        public ArrayList ReadMultipleRecords(string spName,Type type, params object[] parameters)...

Basically the call passes in the SP name, the type of inner data class expected back from the query and a list of search parameters to give to the SP to limit the results. Inside the ReadMultipleRecords are a series of shared base methods which hammer out the details of how to call the SP, with the parameters given, create instances of the type passed in for returning the results and make sure the columns of the results match with the expected properties of the return type.

The downside to this method is the use of an ArrayList to return data. It was selected because it can be ordered, and it doesn’t care what “type” you fill it with. Inside the BuildRead method the instances are created at runtime based on the type passed in, so the code can literally return any number of hundreds if not thousands of types of data class objects in the ArrayList. As most are aware, this is possible by boxing and unboxing the reference types to the variant object type, which incurs a performance penalty. So let’s look at how we can use generics to speed this up a bit.


        public List<DerivedClass> GetDerivedClasses(params object[] a_params)
        {
            return base.ReadMultipleRecords(
            "STORED_PROC", //SP
            typeof(DerivedClassData), //Type to return
            a_params);
        }

While nice looking, unfortunately it isn’t quite as easy as changing the return type to a strongly typed generic implementation of ArrayList in the List<T> class. The problem lies in that we have to have a return type on the ReadMultipleRecords of type List<BaseData>. This is a strongly typed class, however the inner type T is parent class of our return class DerivedClass. Generics don’t allow covariance and contravariance, thus eliminating our ability to have an implicit conversion between the two in this case.

So, in order to solve this issue there is a dandy method which is implemented as part of the List<T> implementation called ConvertAll which will help us out. All we have to do is create a new instance of the Converter generic class, giving it the base and derived types to convert from and to respectively….as well as the address of a method which will actually perform the explicit cast.


        public List<DerivedClass> GetDerivedClasses(params object[] a_params)
        {
             return base.ReadMultipleRecords(
                  “STORED_PROC”, //SP
                  typeof(DerivedClassData), //Type to return
                  a_params).ConvertAll(new Converter<BaseData, DerivedClassData>(FromBase));
        }

        private static DerivedClassData FromBase(BaseData data)
        {
             return data as DerivedClassData;
        }

        public List<BaseData> ReadMultipleRecords(string spName, Type type, params object[] parameters)...

I’d much rather have generics support contra/co-variance inherently, however this work around isn’t all that bad and basically accomplishes the same thing. In this example any number of method calls to differing stored procedures which return the same type can reuse the same static method for casting, however one converter class will be needed per derived type.

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Filed under ASP.NET, C#, General, Programming

Power Outage in Queens

100,000 residents of Queens, NY have gone without power for 6 days now. Apparently the company whose network failed and caused the blackout, Con Ed, is busily fighting off livid local officials who are basically responding to the livid 1/10 of a million constituents mentioned.

So needless to say that during this heat wave in North America, being in Queens in the middle of July without any A/C, fans, refrigeration, etc is probably pretty miserable. However, in this article a school teacher by the name of Lucio Iorfida of Astoria, responding to question concerning the response from Con Ed and in particular CEO Kevin Burke, says, “…he should give us at least half a year of free electricity.”

Now certainly we can forgive those like Iorfida for being angry and upset. But I think this simple “guy on the street” response shows an underlying current in our society which I find highly troubling.

Since when are you “entitled” to public utilities? True it is in the best interest of government officials and public utility companies to see to it that you have them as options. But since when did it become a basic human right to have electricity? It’s not like these people’s meters are still running and they’re paying for a service they aren’t receiving. No, they aren’t being charged a dime. There is no injustice, no misconduct on the part of Con Ed. There is a series of highly challenging technical problems in their grid and they are working to fix the problem.

But I suspect that Mr. Iorfida and many more like him have this notion that not only have they been “cheated” in some way by this blackout, but that they actually deserve reparations from the utility company for the inconvenience. Yes, reparations that by my calculation come to roughly a little over 30 TIMES the equal time lost without power. But that isn’t what I find most disturbing.

I find even more disturbing that Mr. Iorfida thinks that this proposition is not only “just”, but economically feasible. The problem stems from Mr. Iorfida thinking only of himself getting “free electricity” for 6 months, he has no concept, nor the ability to accurately project the actual cost to Con Ed (or any other utility company for that matter) of providing 6 months worth of flat out free electricity to all of Queens.

In the words of the new Red Stripe television spots…..”hooooray stupidity”.

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