Monday, April 1, 2013

Don't Bug Out, Bug In

Guess you can't trust them foreigners after all:
The Cayman Islands are poised to break with decades of secrecy by opening thousands of companies and hedge funds domiciled on the offshore Caribbean territory to greater scrutiny. The British overseas territory, which wants to shed its reputation for clandestine financial activity, is introducing sweeping reforms that will make public the names of thousands of previously hidden companies and their directors. 
So will Switzerland, Uruguay, Lichtenstein, and any other "haven" that has what big nations want. Which is always what cracks me up whenever I read the writings of groups like the Sovereign Society or guys like Doug Casey, American ex-pats who are sure that if the USA should become a totalitarian hell-hole, they will be able to live as they do today* among the good people of exotic lands, and that you should plan to join them, after paying your annual subscription, of course.  I suspect it's not going to work that way at all.

Just as the Caymans will give up just about the only thing it has going for it economically** other than the ability to sell overpriced, imported lobsters to fat, sunburned Americans and skinny, sunburned everyone else getting off boats only to eat, gawk and get back on, so will every other nation change how it does business when such is 'recommended' by Uncle Sam and his first-world fellow travelers.  Do those well-to-do Americans, the envy of their new neighbors for many reasons, really think that, should the American government put a bounty on them for tax evasion, real or imagined, the governments of these tiny nations won't turn them over, in chains, at the embassy gates?  As Shakespeare never said, "Thou foolest none but thineself, Bro."

It reminds me of the fellow, whose writing long ago I lost, who boasted in all earnest that should TSHTF in the US of A, he was going to cruise the California coast in a small boat, his hull filled with canned goods, enjoying sunrises enhanced by the residue of distant burning.  Try it off the coast of Somalia*** for a year and let me know how that goes. Pirates are likely faster and better armed than you.

No, should the last best hope on earth become a totalitarian hellhole, I suspect the best place to bug to will be the middle of the US of A.  With 2/3 of Americans living in cities, most of those living within 100 miles of the coast, the government will need less manpower to control 19 million people in the 6720 square miles of the NYC metro area than it will to control 2.5 million Kansans covering 86,000 square miles, and will therefore focus its nefarious efforts back east. Population density**** is a wonderful thing.

Should EMP or whatever the Preppers' fear du jure actually materialize, an American will be far safer surrounded by other Americans, especially armed ones he knows well, than he would be far from America, surrounded by people who don't like Americans and who will have lost perhaps their last reason to fear them.

* Wisely, agreeably, and well, as Dr. Keynes once suggested.

**No direct taxation and financial secrecy have resulted in the registration of 1.7694063 companies for each resident of the island. Change those two things, and there becomes exactly zero reason to do business there except to write off timeshares.
*** It would have to be sunsets there, I suppose.
**** Or its lack.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Oooh, that smell

The  smell of BHN 8-16 is around you.

Day 1* was, as might be expected, something of a learning experience. This is shorthand for, "even though I didn't accomplish as much as I'd hoped, I learned a lot and no one got poisoned or blown up." So, being in a generous mood, I'd call it a qualified success.

But the setup that I had originally expected to use really didn't work: we had just enough wind - and it kept switching directions -  that the cook stove got off to a very rough start. I actually got frustrated enough at one point to do a melt of some ingots in my Big Dipper and then add wheel weights directly to that, which didn't get me very far, either.  But once I moved the camp stove inside the barn,** I was able at long last to build up a little processing speed.

Things I learned:

  1. a 15,000 BTU cook stove is just barely enough to melt lead, so long as it's out of the wind. 35,000 would have been much better.
  2. All the utensils you think you'll use are too big. What you need are small utensils with long, preferably wooden, handles.
  3. It is better to let the lead cool too much in the pans than too little.
  4. While the idea of a light-adjusting welding helmet sounds cool in theory, a clear plastic mask would have worked much better. Every time I fluxed I went blind.
  5. 10# of lead is an amazingly small volume, surely not enough to be able to stir metal clips to the top of.

No accusations of consistency here.
So all that said, what I ended up with was about 40# worth of ingots after about 4 hours of work.  Many of them have impurities in them and look like silver swiss cheese.*** They took too long to make and I would be embarrassed to sell them.  But they represent a completion of Step 1, which is "Turn wheel weights into lead ingots."

Step 2, of course, is "Cast lead ingots into boolits."  Because my bullet-swaging press does not have a heater, Step 3 ("Swage and lube boolits") might have to wait for the heat of summer. But in all likelihood, Step 1 will be repeated several times in the short term as I process the buckets of wheel weights I managed to accumulate over the winter.  Once the steel footlocker in my barn is filled with however-poorly processed lead, then I can stop annoying the great guys at Wiseman's Discount Tires for more.  I think they're getting tired of seeing me anyway.

* Meaning today is the first Sunday in more than a month that it hasn't rained or snowed here.
** With both doors open and industrial-strength 3M breathing apparatus firmly in place, of course. I just hope I did not poison the dozen or so pullets in there.
*** For fear of zinc I poured them immediately once they reached melt temperature.  I discovered no zinc that I had missed in the sorting process.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The BHN 8-16 Project

1. Dollar store muffin tins. Check.
2. Dollar store slotted spoon. Check.
3. Heavy duty steel ladle. Check.
4. Votive candles and sawdust. Check.
5. Sn/Pb (50/50) solder. Check.
6. Outdoor propane stove w/fuel. Check.

So it seems that all I need is a stainless or cast iron pot* and I'm ready to process the 150+ pounds of mixed wheel weights I picked up on Thursday.**  I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Or at least the mephitis of burning plastic, oil, dog urine, and whatever other fetors a wheel weight accumulates in its short, grasping life.

UPDATE: I now find myself in possession of a nearly limitless number of 1/4 and 1/2 ounce steel ingots. I threw 150 or so into the brass tumbler and they came out looking pretty sweet.  I'm sure a few of them are going to start appearing in geocaches around this area.***  Any other ideas for what kinds of arts/crafts/science projects they might prove useful?

UPDATE II: The first sort is complete except for a dinner plate-sized pile of tiny weights.  Better than 75% (by weight)  of the subjects thus far have turned out to be lead, with a surprisingly small proportion (2% maybe) being made of zinc. The rest were steel.****  I ended up with a few pounds of soft lead (stick-on type) that the muzzleloader guys want, but not really enough to work with, so I'll box them up for now.  Next step: how much do we have to wash (and with what) to ensure that our melt does not smell like a meth lab on the edge of hell?

* "Don't even think about it.  In fact, don't even think about thinking about it." - Rogue
** I still need couple dozen donuts for the guys at the tire store whose continuing generosity is necessary to make the 8-16 BHN Project a success. There are a number of underhanded ways to make them want to sell primarily to me in this tight market.
*** I can see dropping a dozen or so into a felt marble bag for those who already have enough Las Vegas refrigerator magnets.
**** Or cleverly-disguised wheel stems, nails, and candy bar wrappers.