Sunday, November 30, 2014

Tab Clearing...


So, late last night I was nosing around over at the KEH Camera Brokers site, looking at old 35mm Leicas, and musing to myself that cameras that were absolutely unattainable objects of desire in my early 20s were now rather affordable.

Poking around some more and toting up numbers, it was apparent that I could probably put together an early Leica R for not terrible money, if I was willing to accept some ugly. These are the things that make sense at 0130.

But, really, would I ever use the thing? I mean, burning 35mm film is an expensive hobby in its own right, and one I never could afford in the past except when I was actually working in the photography industry. This was a camera I'd buy just to have a piece of gadgetry I'd lusted after once upon a time. I'd shoot maybe a roll or two of film with it, just for kicks, but mostly it would be just to fondle and work the levers, and listen to the little mechanical German gnomes go about their clockwork chores.

I thought to myself "Bobbi would think that was silly, spending money on something I'll probably never use just because I think it's mechanically neat and..."

My eyes fell on the shelves lining the office walls, full of telegraph keys, old microphones, manual typewriters...

"No," I corrected myself, "If there's one person on the planet who would absolutely understand that, it's Bobbi."

I didn't buy a Leica last night... But that doesn't mean I won't.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Beach dreams...

So I dreamed I was staying in a... well, "hotel" would be a grandiose term for the palm-thatch and corrugated sheet metal building on stilts, but it had semi-private rooms for rent. And it was located on an island off the coast of a dream version of South Asia or the Horn of Africa or some other sort of anti-tourist-destination.

And the reason I was staying in this hotel room is so that I could wait for this stuff I'd rubbed all over myself to darken up my skin so I wouldn't fluoresce in the sun. See, they didn't want me to look obvious when I was getting a ride in the open skiff to the mainland from the smuggler/slaver, what with all the pirate boats about, their crews glassing the water looking for business opportunities, which a solitary Westerner certainly would have been. I was supposed to meet with some friendly guerrillas in the hinterlands once I got ashore.

So my "hotel" room had two means of passing the time: A little patio enclosed by corrugated sheet metal but open to the sky, where I spent time during the day trying to catch some rays and even out the blotchy "tan" that had left me with a distinctly chestnut-and-palomino brindle look. The other means of passing the time was an old TV set with a built in DVD player and a buttload of local movies.

My favorite was this low-budget Bollywood Dragnet series, with some Punjabi dude playing the Jack Webb role absolutely straight, down to the hair and the Fifties LAPD detective sergeant attire, except it was set in some modern low-budget action cinema version of Los Angeles.

The best scene in any of the episodes I watched was when Joe Friday had the bad guy cornered in a parking garage, and the bad guy was shooting at him, and Joe hopped on a GSX-R1000 and was riding it right at the bad guy, firing an M4 carbine one handed, with the gun's light and laser, as well as the bike's twin headlights, lancing theatrically through the smoke-filled parking garage.

I thought the scene was so cool that I was trying to rewind it so I could record it to a thumb drive for later, but while I was jumping back trying to find the start, I woke up.

I was sorely bummed.

Friday, November 28, 2014

What you mean "we", Leftie?

This article, which you'll notice was typed several days before the festivities kicked off in Ferguson and its environs, is just a gold mine of projection, self-loathing, and false equivalence.

No, honey, I don't think that property destruction is cool, even when it's those hideous redneck crackers in flyover country who are doing it because their sportsball team won the Kentucky Derby. I also am able to draw a chain of seriousness that starts with drunken frat kids burning their own sofa at one end, moves through some minor property damage in the middle, and winds up with South Central in flames at the other.

There are varying grades of wrong: Some wrong things result in somebody getting sent to their room without supper and some result in somebody getting sat in an electric chair and having the dial turned to Extra Crispy, and it's not because we're "ageist" and there are a whole raft of degrees of wrongness in between. I thought Progressives prided themselves on their grasp of nuance, ferchrissake.

Lastly, I'm sorry you hate yourself so much for being white or upper middle class or whatever reason, but don't assume I share your self loathing. I'm not interested in crawling into your hair shirt with you; work out your angst on your own and don't try and smear it all over me.

"There are two types of tea..."

As Instapundit would say: Heh.

Cyber Black Small Day!

Hi, kids!

Did you ever wonder what the hell this "Cyber Monday" thing some people still go on about is? You know, "Black Friday" is when everybody acts like animals in the lobbies of stores that didn't actually open on Thanksgiving because they're so stuck in 2012. "Small Business Saturday" is when you're supposed to buy a used CD at LUNA so you can feel all whatever the durable goods version of "locavore" is. And "Cyber Monday" is something something whatever.
If this computer doesn't look familiar to you, Cyber Monday likely doesn't make much sense.

Once upon a time, back in the Before Times when years started with "1" and jeggings were on their first go 'round, most people talked to the internet from home with their phone lines. They talked to the internet very slowly and, if their mom was on the phone with Aunt Bessie in Dubuque, they couldn't talk to the internet at all. This wasn't such a terrible hardship, because there wasn't much to do on the internet except look at horribly laid-out Geocities I-Love-Me pages full of blinking text and crude animated .gifs.

But then Amazon and other online retailers like came along and people could go shopping on their computers. The problem was that, at 28.8kbit/s, it took so long to download a picture of a book cover or a box of dog biscuits to your Packard Bell 486's 14" CRT that you could have just hopped in the car and bought one while you waited for the page to finish loading.


Unlike the antiquated machine at home running a bootleg copy of Windows 3.11, many people had access at work to a Pentium running Win 95 and talking to the internet over a fat pipe. Thus, after the four day weekend, people would use the office machine to surf those sites they couldn't from home. And so was born the idea of "Cyber Monday", which really only made sense until most people got faster home internet connections and is more or less completely inane in a world where the average telephone would crush the workgroup servers of 1999.

Anyhow, here are some gift suggestions from VFTP:

  • If you have an antique gun nerd in your house, one of the sort that owns screwdrivers and isn't afraid to use them, a copy of Antique Firearms Assembly/Disassembly would come in handy. It's a US-centric book, but pretty comprehensive on antique Smiths and Colts especially, including even pre- and interwar Hand Ejector Smiths.

  • I've got lots of knives and flashlights, but my LED Lenser P3 AFS and Spyderco Delica Emerson Opener fit in blue jeans pockets and have stood up to years of daily carry now. (I may switch out from the Spyderco for something else for a few days here or there, but I always come back to it. It's just such a Goldilocks knife...)

  • Range under two feet of snow in the winter? There's always the Crosman M4-177 Air Rifle for basement marksmanship practice. It may not have a compass in the stock or this thing which tells time, but it'll shoot your eye out, kid.

  • Someone wanting to get into DSLRs on the cheap could get a used camera body, like the Canon Digital Rebel XTi I got, and then, if they really enjoyed it, any lenses they bought would work with a brand new Canon. Same thing if they went with a used Nikon. KEH Camera Brokers out of Atlanta is a good reseller who lists their stock on Amazon and stands behind what they sell. (Pretty much all the Blogorado/State Fair/Zoo photography on the blog has been done with this lens: Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS.)

  •  Crimson Trace, Brownells, and KEH are having Black Friday sales here and here and here. (Unlike the Amazon links above, I don't get any dough from purchases made at those three; they're just companies that have always done right by me and make or sell stuff that I like.)

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Just woke up from a vivid tryptophan dream, one in which I'd sold a SF short story to Baen. It was such a vivid dream I almost looked for the check when I woke up. I wish I could remember the story. Something about an asteroid.

This was the proximate the cause of the dream.

Here's hoping your time with relatives was joyous (or at least tolerable) and that your favorite football squadrons prospered on the field of struggle.

Happy Thanksgiving!

One of the photos at the page would only be two-thirds as surreal without the random banner ad that popped up under it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


If someone is trying to take your gun, it's Game On. You're all the way in it, right then. They're not trying to get it so they can trade it for a coupon for sneakers or video games at the next police turn-in.

The Protocols of the Elders of WTF?

Oh, Seattle! You're the best! California used to be the home of looniness in this country, but the Bay Area is now the home of stodgy establishment companies like Apple and Google, while the epicenter of hippie weirdness has obviously migrated north since the Summer of Love.

First you have the mayor pardoning a Tofurky for WASP Imperialism Day, and then you have your own Ferguson protests, where some banner-carryin' Seattleites show they're down for the cause of what is this I can't even:

Jesus, it's like a reflex with these people. I'm kinda surprised they didn't manage to work George Bush in there somehow.

Remember: It's not _______ when we do it!

So the New York Times had a bit up back in June that I just now discovered (it takes a while for the mail coach to get from civilized Manhattan to the old Northwest Frontier) in which they rank the counties of the US in "livability" based on several factors, such as education, median household income, unemployment rate, disability rate, life expectancy, obesity, and distance in kilometers from Central Park.

I made that last one up, actually.

You'll note that it's very cultured and Progressive to say that the best places to live are where there are high household incomes, good education, and a minimum of obesity and folks on disability. Conversely, it would be the height of Conservative bigotry to say that you don't want to live around poor fat dumb crippled malingerers.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Streaming Video...

From FaceBook:
msnbc has live video
15 mins · Like
Two cop cars with all the windows busted out, several dozen bricks thrown at the po-po.
11 mins · Like
Man, the holiday lights make for a surreal riot.
11 mins · Like · 3
ProTip: When the po-po say "Get your ass out of the street and stop throwing things at law enforcement or you will be arrested!" what they're trying to tell you is to "Get your ass out of the street and stop throwing things at law enforcement or you will be arrested!" It's not in code.
6 mins · Like · 4
Hey! Officer Friendly and whoever's playing Center Field for the rioters: Be careful where you lob those pyrotechnic CS grenades. You catch a vehicle or building on fire and shit will get real in a hurry.
EDIT: Cop car on fire. It's like I'm psychic.

Overheard in the Restaurant...

The view from the Bistro's porch. We ate inside because 40mph winds.
Went out for lunch at the Canal Bistro with Bobbi today, because I was nursing a serious saganaki mojo.

She had a Greek salad and a gyro and, having polished off my seared cheese, I ordered a cup of Turkish coffee to sip while she finished her meal. Well, having paid, I was lost in thought nursing my third thimble-full of prescription strength caffeine when she asked if I was ready to go.

Me: "Huh? Oh, okay..." *slugs down remainder of fincan*

RX: "You're not supposed to chug that!"

Me: "It's okay..."

RX: "What's your heart rate?"

Me: *checks carotid pulse* "About normal."

RX: "And that's...?"

Me: "I dunno. Two-, maybe three-hundred beats per minute?"
"Hang on, updating Facebook status."

Sunday, November 23, 2014

♪♫ Movin' on u-up! ♪♫

♪♫To a de-luxe leather driver's seat in the sky!♪♫

So, as Bobbi has alluded to several times, her Hyundai Accent was reaching that point where the various urgently needed repairs would probably cost a multiple of the vehicle's NADA book value and even were they done, she'd still be left with a rusty '02 Korean penalty box.

The "To-Do" list on the dry erase board in the kitchen had featured "CAR" for quite some time and so, when her friend the Data Viking came down to visit yesterday, we turned "let's go look at cars before the movie" into "we can watch the movie next weekend, let's you go 'head and buy a car and get this done with."

She settled on an older Lexus RX300, with high miles but good service records and super clean & straight. At her average monthly mileage, it's likely got another five to ten years left in it with proper maintenance, and while it's the FWD-only variant, it's got a lot more ground clearance for the snowy alley than the Accent did.

I'm not going to lie that part of what had me show her the RX was the way she insisted that the new vehicle be winter-capable and able to take 8-foot lengths of pine board, but also every time she got to talking about the Jaguar XJ6 she had back in the day, her eyes would get all unfocused and misty as she'd describe the hushed comfort of the leather-lined cockpit. I think that Lexus's crossover ute could probably satisfy both yearnings pretty well. We're getting into winter weather here, and Bobbi deserves the joys of seat heaters in her life.

There's the added bonus that Euro Motor Works, the shop that did such a great job helping me out with the Z3, advertises that they want you to think of them "as the "dealership alternative" for service on your fine European or Lexus vehicle," so she can get it worked on there for projects too big to tackle at home.

(Another Plus: Working on starship engines sometimes requires going out into bad traffic at odd hours or in awful weather, and I'm also not going to lie that I feel better knowing she's doing it in something that gets much more stellar ratings in NHTSA crash tests than the Accent.)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sorry 'bout that...

Been out most of the day today helping Bobbi go car shopping.

Alas, despite leaving behind me a careful trail of grappa and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano leading to Roseholme Cottage, neither one of these beasties followed us home.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fairly Unbalanced

The Pauline Kael Award for the week goes to Sophia McClennan at for this piece, yet another turgid, smug rendition of "Ha-ha, stupid NASCAR-Americans and their talk radio and Fox News!"

The money quote:
"And despite the hype, it is not Stewart, Colbert and Oliver who are stirring up the partisan spin.  Sure they attack Fox News, sure they call out the outrageous positions of many Republicans, but they go after the Democrats too."
That's right! They call out the outrageous positions of Republicans for being too conservative, but they also go after Democrats for not being liberal enough. If that's not bipartisan, I don't know what is!

Isn't he the Decider, though?

I swear to gawd, in order to talk politics in this country, you need to have a spectacular case of selective amnesia.

Let's cast our minds back a few years, okay? Here are a couple visual aids:


Remember? That stuff really happened, right? Other people remember it, too, and I'm not in some strange parallel universe where it didn't happen?

Because this morning I have liberal commentators smugly and self-righteously talking about the virtues of the executive branch taking unilateral action in the face of a balky legislature. Meanwhile, conservatives are engaging in an orgy of pearl-clutching and all but throwing themselves on the floor in a hold-my-breath-until-I-turn-blue hissy fit about how "[w]e have a monarch, not a President, and impeachment is the only viable solution."

Jeeze, looking around, you'd think that this was some kind of unprecedented constitutional crisis and the executive and legislative branches had never been at loggerheads before.

Lucky Gun

I have to agree with this post. If the only reason you're thinking outside the box is because your box is all busted and you fell out one of the holes, you need to get it fixed so it works right before you go thinking outside it.

I mean, I like the idea of a CCW pistol that has an integrated light and laser and is devoid of sharp corners, but...
  • A pistol-mounted flashlight is a pretty specialized tool, and one that Cletus and Lurlene (and Officers Cletus and Lurlene) all too often think turns his or her pistol into a flashlight. No, Cletus, it's for illuminating things you're shooting at while both hands are hanging onto the gun; the flashlight in your pocket is for flashlighting stuff. If you're waving your gun around under your car looking for your dropped keys, it's time to start wondering whether you need to be trusting yourself with a gat in public.

  • An included pocket/belt clip. Because that's what people need more encouragement to do: Carry guns with unprotected trigger guards in poorly-secured ways that allow them to go clattering across the food court floor with sometimes noisy consequences, like that guy in Knoxville with the derringer back in the day.

  • No sights. Don't even get me started about your point-shooting gun-fu. Sure, maybe you'll need the gun to shoot some dude at contact distance... and maybe you'll need to shoot back at some looney tune dressed like a Batman villain halfway across a movie theater, in which case aren't you going to feel a little silly...

  • ...with a 12-ounce .380 sporting a twelve-pound trigger? I mean, yeah, I carry a little .380 with a graunchy DAO trigger... in my coat pocket in winter, just in case I can't get to the real pistol under my coat in time.
Little guns like this are great for backup guns or if your workplace/lifestyle make it absolutely impractical to carry something bigger, but all too often they're used by folks who view them as ballistic lucky rabbit's feet.  This little pistol is aimed squarely at that demographic.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Target Demographic...

On the way down to see Interstellar the other night, I was successfully marketed to. Shootin' Buddy and I stopped for a pint and a snack at the Thirsty Scholar at the corner of 16th & Penn.

Shootin' Buddy noted how much Indy had changed in the last twenty years. Only a decade or two ago, 16th & Penn would have been someplace you'd look to share some Boone's Farm with some hobos around a fire in a trash barrel or look for a burned-out house to dispose of a body, rather than drink craft beer and expensive coffee with painstakingly face-topiaried hipsters and herds of Ugg-wearing grad students.

High-Risibility Security Measures

Years of 'round-the-clock research have paid off as Silicon Valley robotics researchers have found a security measure more likely to be ignored, disrespected, vandalized, or outright pantsed than a 300-lb Mall Cop on a Segway Police Interceptor: I give to you the Knightscope K5, which is a white plastic rendition of a Quaker Vegan's idea of a Dalek.

How long after they're deployed to patrol some Bay Area food court will the first one have its camera disabled by someone putting a Guy Fawkes mask over its shiny egg-like domepiece?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Automotif LIV...

And while we're on the topic of Porsches, check out this roly-poly classic...

O.G. Porsche
The twin grilles in the deck lid and large rear window mark it as a later 356.
Saw this one in the neighborhood while out and about with Shootin' Buddy the weekend before last. I have never driven a 356, but I'd like to.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Automotif LIII...

Porsche's 911 has always occupied the prime parking spot in my daydream garage. Something about the wild-eyed performance combined with day-to-day usability appeals to me, I guess.

Yeah, it's a water-cooled 996. I still wouldn't kick it out of the garage.
And to think I'd looked out at the alley and decided to leave the Z3 garaged and take the Forester to the grocery store today because... eww! ...there might be ice or snow or salt on the roads. I feel like a piker now.

Well, that's done.

Hopefully I made one editor happy today. Now to placate the rest.

Monday, November 17, 2014

But what if it is a day at the office?

Ugh. I have to go to the range today.

Haha. No, seriously.

I have got to get this pistol shot for groups off the bench at 25 yards which, while it's technically "shooting", is possibly the dullest variety thereof, at least to me. Shooting three different loads for five 5-shot groups each is bordering on work in nice weather; when it's 23°F and there's a 15mph wind blowing out of Mordor-on-Lake-Michigan it puts the lie to that old saying about "A bad day at the range beats a good day in the office."

But I said I'd get this thing done by the middle of this week, and it's either shoot today when it's frickin' cold, or tomorrow when it's even frickin' colder.

I wish that the nice, clean, new indoor range down on the south side hadn't had that catastrophic range fire. There's a new-ish indoor range I haven't been to yet 'way hell-and-gone on the north side of town, but I'd hate to drive all the way out there and find that because I'm shooting a pistol, they'll make me use their 50' pistol lanes and not one of their 75' rifle lanes.

There's Don's Guns, but I value my un-shot hide and my self-respect too much to go there. I will go to my grave having never set foot in that sleazeball's facility.

Pop Guns (or whatever their new nom de commerce is) out on the east side of town is a good bunch of folks, but I believe they've only got a 50' range.

Broad Ripple needs an indoor range/gun shop.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A soft, steady hiss...

Guys! You'll never guess what it's doing out there!

Gunsmith Bob warned me this kinda stuff would happen if I moved to far-off frozen cold north Yankee land.

A further thought on Interstellar...

Someone on a forum remarked that they thought it was good, but not great, to which I replied:
That's why I referenced it to 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is one of movie history's nekkidest emperors, a beautiful piece of cinematography with a half dozen memorable scenes buried in hundreds of yards of celluloid Sominex, tied up with an ending that lost much of its impact by climbing into its own navel and dropping a couple hits of windowpane once it was fully in there.

This movie was quite literally the movie 2001 should have been: For all the plot improbabilities and physics gaffes, it got its (broadly similar) philosophical points across and I gave a crap about the characters. Plus, unlike Kubrik's magnum opus, I didn't even go to the bathroom, much less doze off during the last fifteen minutes.

Saw Interstellar in IMAX tonight...

Were Stanley Kubrick and Arthur Clarke still alive, the former would've snapped a pencil in half halfway through the movie and started drunk-dialing the latter every night at 0300, Sri Lanka time, to cuss him out and yell "THIS IS THE MOVIE WE SHOULD HAVE MADE, DAMN YOUR EYES!"

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Giving In To The Inevitable.

This polar vortex thing means that Indianapolis is in for two weeks of unseasonably cold weather. However, the fact that the two weeks in question are at the beginning of November means that, when the vortex goes back to the land of poutine and round bacon, it will be time for seasonably cold weather here in Hoosieropolis.

Therefore it is with great regret that this morning I moved the cotton socks to the back of the sock drawer and the wool socks to the front. It may yet be neither Meteorological nor Astronomical Winter, but this is the event that marks the beginning of Tamara Winter.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Good Timing.

Winter Is Coming

Well, that won't work.

So, Bono dropped stuff on Germany and had the plane had a "G-" prefix tail number, I was going to make an RAF joke. You know, ask if it was a night flight or something, and perhaps the plane was operating off some aircraft version of racial memory?

But no, a registration of "D-CGEO" means that the high-altitude suitcase bombing run over Der Vaterland was something of an Own Goal, actually.

I got nothin'.

Yesterday's was a pretty awful morning.
Vet: "You don't have to stay for this."

Me: "Yeah, I kinda think I do."
At least Buddy was warm and had a full tummy and the last thing he knew was someone scratching him behind the ears and telling him reassuring lies.

It was the only choice in the circumstances. It beat dying out in the cold, sick and hungry and alone. And I still feel terrible.

We tried, Buddy.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Far Horizons...

Congratulations, ESA! That's pretty cool.

QotD: The Whole Freaking System's Out Of Order Edition

Tim over at Gun Nuts, in a post that notes how infrequently tough state gun laws are actually applied against violent felons, wrote:
Am I attacking our criminal justice system? You better believe it. We live in an absurd tangle of indefensible nonsense where government entities will move mountains to stop somebody from being able to travel with antique bagpipes his grandfather played for the queen or perform raids to protect society from the dangers posed by insufficiently documented Land Rovers, and yet some of the very same government entities won’t bother to prosecute violent felons who are committing all manner of violent acts with stolen or otherwise illegally obtained weapons.
It breeds cynicism when gun owners hear tale after tale of some otherwise good guy or gal getting jammed up on various arcane provisions of firearms law when gangsters don't. To have to fill out forms and wait for federal approval to buy a gun when a known violent felon could get denied on a background check and never even get so much as a visit from the po-po, let alone a prosecution for violating the law? It's just more security theater.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

ADA for the Antisocial

So, I was at the grocery store with the Atomic Nerds last month, and...

Now, I should preface this with the fact that these people are like family to me. Our interests overlap by enough that I feel comfortable at the Nerd Ranch because all the stuff of life... books, games, magazines, tchotchkes, that sort of thing... could have been transplanted from Roseholme Cottage to New Mexico. The floor plan and the number and size of the critters in the house are the main cues that I'm not still at home.

So anyway, we're at the grocery store and, come checkout time, we head for a human cashier. And this seems weird to me, because I'm a U-Scanner all the way. I expressed my surprise audibly.

Stingray, who is only denied full curmudgeon status on the technicality of age and is therefore a Curmudgeon Webelo or Cadet Curmudgeon or whatever, points out that GroceryCo Inc. hasn't started paying him to be a cashier. As a dues-paying member of the Curmudgeon Ladies' Auxiliary, this is an argument that resonates strongly with me, and demonstrates Stingray's bright future in the Curmudgeon ranks. However, it is outweighed in my personal flow chart by a more significant factor: Introversion.

See, even the most devoted recluse has to eventually leave the house to forage for bacon and toilet paper, and this usually involves going to a grocery store and dealing with people. But now, with the advent of self-checkout, all the excess annoying, itchy human contact can be pared away from the experience, especially if you go early on a weekday when the store's not crowded and there's no line at the self-checkout lanes.

Think of U-Scan as wheelchair ramps for introverts; ADA for the antisocial.

Irrational Pet Peeve #176,599

Dear Old School Gun Guy On The Internet,

A "blog" is a thing on which there are individual tidbits called "posts". When you post something on your blog (say, for example, a rambling five-paragraph discourse on why damned kids need to get off your lawn) you don't say "I wrote a blog today about why you kids need to get off my lawn." The correct usage would be "I wrote a post today about why you kids need to get off my lawn."

If you wrote a review piece on the Blastomatic 2000 for Guns & Ammo, you wouldn't tell everybody you wrote a magazine, would you? No, you'd tell everyone you wrote an article. Same thing.

To do it the first way makes you sound like Joe Biden and, really, who wants that?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Via email, this fascinating piece on what it takes to pass the test to be a taxi driver in London. I had an inkling, but the reality is just unbelievable.

I made it out to the range this morning. It was pleasant, sunny and in the high fifties when I got there, but it was clouding up by the time I left about forty-five minutes later. Three hours after that, pedaling home from lunch, it was about 45°F and spitting rain.

Incidentally, I ran some of Federal's 115gr "Range, Target, Practice" ammo through the same test gun that was having issues with the Fiocchi the other day. That Federal RTP stuff is normally pretty weak tea, but even it was averaging ~60fps over the Fiocchi ball.

Armistice Day

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns fell silent.
After four years of running three shifts around the clock, the awful corpse factory in western Europe finally shuddered to a halt on this day in 1918. Western civilization wasted little time in proving we'd learned nothing from the experience.

The Odious Wilson stuck his oar in the peace process and mucked things up, as was his wont, and the eventual Treaty of Versailles has mostly gone down in history as an example of how not to treat a defeated foe. Either plow the ground with salt and sell the population into bondage, or give them a magnanimous hand up, but don't leave a beaten enemy to nurse grudges while inflicting gratuitous and punitive punishments on them.

(That postwar DWM .30-caliber Luger I've been playing with? That's an artifact of the Versailles Treaty. So are short-barreled "Bolo" Mauser pistols. See, if they had 4" or longer barrels and were chambered in 9mm, they'd have been "arms" and Germany would have been forbidden to manufacture or export them. But with a 3.99" or shorter barrel and chambered in .30 Luger or .30 Mauser? Well, those aren't "arms" and go 'head and knock yourself out, Germany.)


According to the weather dude, the rain should hold off long enough that I should be able to squeeze in a range trip this morning. Cool beans. Because I look at that weather forecast for the rest of the week, and it looks grim. I'll be shooting in some frickin' cold weather tomorrow, but at least I won't have to be fiddling with the chronograph while I'm doing it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Tab Clearing...

Party like it's 1989...

It was a weeknight, but that didn't mean much to a bunch of slackers in their early twenties whose lives resembled an early Kevin Smith screenplay.

It was the kind of night when there were probably a half dozen people over, and the lights were out and the only illumination in the apartment came from cigarette coals and flickering candles and glowing pinpricks of incense punk and the Nature Channel program on the TV with the volume muted while Dark Side Of The Moon played on the stereo and people were having conversations that included heavy use of the word "dude".

And when the Nature Channel documentary (something about African wildlife, IIRC, but my memory's a little shaky for obvious reasons) was over, someone picked up the remote and began to surf around looking for something else to watch until we ran out of Floyd cassette and decided to go for a walk down by the river or whatever.

This was early November, and the annual college football matchup between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Florida Gators, sometimes called "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party", was in a couple days. One of the Atlanta TV stations had a news crew already down there, covering the hardcore tailgaters and fans who were already congregating in Jacksonville. There were people in the dark, and large concrete walls of the stadium or whatever, lit by flood lights and camera lights in the background...

...and the channel clicked again...

...and those people in the dark night, lit by floodlights, were smashing those concrete walls with hammers and there weren't any cops doing anything about it and I said "They're getting a little out of hand down there in Jacksonv... HOLY SHIT! THAT'S THE BERLIN WALL!"

And that's how I remember it.


So, I had planned on a range visit today, because I've got deadlines fast approaching on a couple reviews and I wanted to get one of them as cleared up as possible before the weather turned. I needed to chrono two more loadings and, if I hopped to it and got out the door early enough, maybe I could shoot it for groups today, too.

I woke up with my head pounding like the soundtrack to Zulu Dawn and every time I'd roll from one side to the other, the bones of my skull would creak and groan like a submarine changing depth. Oh, I didn't want to get out of bed at all...

I finally dragged my carcass upright at 1000 and threw clothes on. If I had to postpone shooting for groups 'til Wednesday morning, I could at least knock out the remaining chrono testing. The range bag, 9mm ammo can, chrono, and target stand were all already secured in the trunk. I was so prepped to roll that my gate card was already in the door pocket of the car and ear pro was in the passenger seat so I could hit the ground running when I got there.

I drove across town, dodging inattentive cell-phone users and suicidal pedestrians down High School Road like some kind of bass-ackwards game of Frogger, and got to the range, signed in at the club house, pulled up to the bay, and...

Anybody notice the item that wasn't on that list?

Yeah, the actual, you know, gun.


Well, I'd left the Glock 19 and the PPX in the range bag, so the trip wasn't a complete wash.

Walther PPX in a "Shaggy" AIWB holster from Custom Carry Concepts.
It looks like I'll be out in the cold come Wednesday AM, unless they're wrong about the rain tomorrow.

Happy Birthday, Devil Dogs!

239 already? You don't look a day over 225.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Sad Pandas.

While I'm sure that somebody's trying to make lemonade out of it at 30 Rock, here we are on a brisk early November Saturday afternoon smack dab in the middle of college football season...

...and NBC is showing the Queen's Park Rangers and Manchester City playing a soccer game.

I wonder what 30 seconds of ad space during the currently-running UGA-Kentucky game on ESPN is going for right now, versus this Barclays Premier League match on NBC? Hmmm... Checking around, there'll be Auburn vs. Texas A&M on CBS, Notre Dame vs. Arizona State on ABC later.

Meanwhile, after the limeys are done with their footie, NBC will have the Major League Soccer teams from Washington, DC and New York City squaring off in a giant metaphor in front of fewer people than there are in the marching bands at Neyland Stadium on the Third Saturday in October.

I'd hate to compare those Nielsen ratings.

Friday, November 07, 2014


He was so asleep that he didn't even twitch when the camera made its little power-up blingle noise.

I've been doing it wrong, apparently.


Wednesday Range Notes, Part One...

A day at the office.
So, there I was at the range with the test gun, and I was fixin' to record some chronograph data. Now, mind you, I've just taken the thing out of the box, and the ten shots of Fiocchi 115gr FMJ through the skyscreens are going to be my first ten shots with the gun.

As you can see, I set the chrono on that plastic drum and, because I'm tall and don't have a chair in the pistol bay, I bend over from the waist and rest my elbows on my range bag. This is not the firmest of grips, so...

The third shot from the pistol was a classic failure to feed. I snapped pictures, then slapped the bottom of the mag and the slide dropped into battery. The third shot: Stovepipe. Failure to eject.

Now, this is round-nosed full metal jacket ammo in a brand of handgun that is not generally known for being unreliable. Was it dry, maybe? I field-stripped it and it seemed to have a light film of lube everywhere it was supposed to, but I gave it a squirt of Strike Hold from the can in my range bag because what the heck, right?

Fifth shot, another stovepipe, and then one more feedway stoppage before finishing out the ten round string. It was at this point that my hindbrain drew my attention to the fact that the pattern of ejected brass from the pistol was pretty erratic, with five of the ten rounds fired thus far having dribbled the spent brass back towards my hat, to land on the table between my elbows.

This explained the problem, which was confirmed by the chrono data:
LO: 982.7
HI: 1087
AV: 1035
ES: 104.2
SD: 33.09
Subsonic 115gr bullets aren't going to impart anywhere near enough momentum to the slide of a recoil-operated pistol for it to operate reliably, especially if the gun is held loosely. (Although the fifteen rounds I fired from a normal grip and standing on my hind legs also had two more malfs.)

Still, somebody who didn't know how to diagnose malfunctions could unfairly judge their pistol's reliability by its refusal to work with this stuff, when that would be like judging your gasoline-engine car as unreliable for not running on diesel.

The lot number on the Fiocchi in question, which was purchased at the local Gander Mountain, is 5406188. I'll be contacting Fiocchi and letting them know that they've got some underpowered ammo floating around out there.

Incidentally, the gun ran like a top on the Winchester 124gr Q4318 "NATO" FMJ I had with me.

Talked to Frank James the other day.

He's busting ass at rehabbing; says he's working as hard at it as anything he's ever worked at (which, coming from a farmer, is not a phrase that gets tossed around lightly.)

I was at the range with a test gun for a forthcoming magazine review, and it seemed very meet and right to get a call from Farmer Frank while I was there.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

If I were a cat...

...I'd have slunk off and spent the day under the front porch.

Just not feeling it today. Sorry, y'all.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014


Probably should have taken the Subie to the range after all...

In my excitement, I appear to have fat-fingered "feels".

They meant the bad kind of supermajorities.

Waiting to hear Harry Reid's calls for restraint and bipartisanship.


An Ohio woman found, like, a dozen rounds of precious, precious .22 Long Rifle ammunition in her preschool-age child's Halloween candy and, instead of rejoicing and sending the kid back to see if he could get more, she freaked and called the police.

Makes you wonder what she'd do if she bit into a doubloon that had been cooked into her Big Mac?

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Snout counting...

I don't know about all that, but I heard some people were voting at me, so I figured I'd vote back at them.
 So, the Marion County races left us with some dismal choices. Terry Curry, incumbent prosecutor, rammed the case of drunken (ex)IMPD Officer Bisard through like he said he would and, despite making all the typical big city Democrat anti-gun mouth noises, followed the law in declaring there was no basis for any charges in a high-profile self-defense shooting.

The Republican challenger is also on record as lamenting the lack of tougher gun laws, and so I voted for the Democrat incumbent, since he at least has a track record of doing the right thing. As an armed citizen, should you be forced to exercise your right to self-defense, your local prosecutor is going to have an enormous influence on your future; it's not an election to take lightly.

As for sheriff, I don't know many who've had much bad to say about the Democrat incumbent, even when his name's brought up in gun stores, while his GOP challenger is a 25-year veteran of the BATFE. If the wookie party had stood somebody up for sheriff, I'd have voted for them, but as it was I ticked the box for Layton.

I pretty much voted a straight Libertarian ticket otherwise, made easier now that our Congressional district has been jiggered around so that I can no longer vote for whoever the GOP was throwing at hereditary Congressman Andre Carson. Now that we're part of the 5th District, which comprises the northern Indianapolis 'burbs and is redder than the Alabama football team all suited up for a home game and driving a pack of Ferraris through a Brezhnev-era May Day parade, I can vote for whoever the Tax-Free Guns'n'Dope party is running without having to worry that I'm not Machiavelling right.

This may sound funny having just voted for a couple tepid incumbents over their likely worse challengers, but I voted "no" on all judicial retention questions. Because any time a ballot straight up asks you "Should we fire this incumbent?" without tacking on the qualifier "...and give his job to this other wrong lizard right here," it should be a no-brainer. I don't care how good a job he's doing; I'm all for dragging Cincinattus back to his plow kicking and screaming if he doesn't have the grace to do it himself.

Note all the signs and glad-handers right outside the doors. If you haven't figured out who you're voting for by the time you're out front of the building, then you're one of those "low-information voters" everyone keeps going on about.
Once again had to unstrap in the car. Were comments turned on, this is where I'd get a half dozen people saying "Well in the state of East Dakota, WE can carry in a polling place!" It's not against the law to carry in polling places in Indiana, either, but it is illegal for me to carry into my polling place in Indiana. Smart people can look at the picture and probably puzzle that out for themselves.

Monday, November 03, 2014

We're punchy...

...because they've had Bobbi working that weird super-early shift these last couple days, so everybody's all sleep dep'ed, our schedules are out of synch, and everything's a lot funnier than it should be.

Today we drove up to the Mountain of Geese when she got home from work because I needed some plastic-friendly Gun Scrubber to give one last try at blasting the PPX's firing pin channel and drop safety plunger free of cack before throwing my hands up and giving Walther a call.

I'd gone to the local Wally World looking for some the other day, but despite carrying ammo, the Walmart up around the 7300 block of Keystone Ave doesn't carry any gun cleaning supplies of any sort. They'll sell you the stuff to dirty your gun up, but you're on your own for cleaning. (They've got live bait, though.)

Anyhow, errands complete, we stopped at the new Chipotle in Broad Ripple, since neither of us had ever eaten at that particular chain before, and then dashed into the grocery store before meandering home on the side streets of SoBro.

Whereupon we saw a woman walking a large, white...
RX: "Look! A... regular poodle? Large poodle?"

Me: "Standard poodle."

RX: "Is there a Non-standard poodle? A Sub-standard poodle? The Sub-standard poodle is made by children in Third World sweatshops and it has those puffs of fur in the wrong places, like on its neck or at odd intervals on its legs..."

Me: "...and it goes 'fooW!'"
This was, for some reason, absolutely pants-wettingly hilarious.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Once upon a time...

...a long long long long long time ago, some people were sitting around outside of a cave one evening. Probably H. erectus or H. ergaster, they likely weren't composing any sonnets, but they were chilling out however it was they did back then of a Saturday night, when all of a sudden...


...lightning hit a nearby tree. And all of the early people gathered around and marveled at the fire, and began thinking of all the cool things they could do with it, like cook steak and invent cigarettes, except for one pair of hominids who ran hooting into the cave in terror of the fire.

They had babies, too, and Bobbi found a TIME article written by one of their great^1000 grandchildren.

It deserves a proper fisking, and I mean to give it one, but feel free to go marvel in its puling, craven rabbit-souled ignorance while I finish getting a mad on over here.

Veneration and Desecration

I'm a big fan of the US Rifle, Cal. .30, M1 as an historical artifact. The only way that *BANG!*BANG!*BANG!*BANG!*BANG!*BANG!*BANG!*BANG!*PING!* could be more 'Murrican is if Mom fired it off the back of a giant bald eagle while she was making apple pie. It's got attractive lines, was machined from steel forgings, and was the best general-issue battle rifle of WWII...

Of course, that latter is largely because it was the only general issue battle rifle of WWII that wasn't manually operated; everybody else had bolt-action guns for the most part. So we won the Cool General Issue Rifle horse race with a Stanley Steamer, not because the Stanley Steamer was a great car, but because it was the only car at the track. From a purely practical standpoint as a rifle, I'm actually not that much of a Garand fan at all.

The Garand has great sights and holds eight rounds of a potent chambering, but that's about the extent of its good features, if you ask me. It's heavy; it's annoying to clean and reassemble; it has an external reciprocating, dog-legged op-rod that likes to cause problems; the safety is a negligent discharge waiting to happen; and it uses magazines charged with en bloc clips, a system originating with Ferdinand von Mannlicher that was obsoleted before the end of the 19th Century by James Paris Lee and Paul Mauser.

Its replacement, the M14, solved the magazine thing by going to interchangeable box magazines (something that other U.S. infantry longarms had been using since, oh, 1918 or thereabouts) but added a full auto feature that, for the average user of a 7.62 NATO rifle, is about as useful as a kickstand on a tank.
$15,000 collectible...?
Still, the M14 is an object of veneration in the American shooting community, perhaps even more than its forebear. Being the last steel-and-walnut traditional rifle-type-rifle before an era of plastic-and-aluminum guns with suspiciously small holes in the end, it enjoys a mystique unrivaled by most any other postwar issue arm. Shooters would pay dearly to get their hands on a by-God-for-real M14

...or $15 paperweight?
Which makes their destruction not just unconscionable from an historic aspect, but pig-headedly obtuse from a fiscal one. This was cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. Just because "Ew! Icky guns!" roughly a half-million perfectly serviceable weapons met their fate under the gas axe, with hundreds of thousands more dumped overseas.

Granted, there would have had to have been some legislative end run around the BATFEIEIO's silly "Once a machine gun, always a machine gun" interpretation of GCA '68. But this was potentially half a billion dollars (in comparatively fat mid-'90s dollars) left sitting on the table for fear that criminals might somehow find a ten-and-a-half pound gun that was most all of four feet long a handy device for sticking up Kwik-E-Marts. They could have welded the caps on the selector axles, or cut them off entirely, and sold them, but noooooo!

So that's the story behind my paperweight, which it made more sense to the government to chop up and sell as scrap than to actually use to turn a profit...

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Automotif LII...

Seen out in Brownsburg: Your father's Oldsmobile.

How very Rube Golbergian...

To modern eyes, the Luger is such an extravagantly complex way to go about the task of launching 9mm projectiles. There are likely far, far more machining steps in the toggle subassembly alone than there are in an entire HK P30. For each Luger made, there were probably another one or two on the factory floor in the form of steel chips.

And imagine the design process... the sheer amount of model-making and trial-and-error... that this entailed before CAD and computer modeling was a thing?