Friday, April 20, 2018

Spring Cleaning

In order to raise funds for a couple of projects, I'm finally getting around to a little bit of spring cleaning.

The first order of business is making an eBay listing for a little box I've had sitting in a corner for a year now. It's a package deal with a Crimson Trace Lasergrip and Lightguard for a Glock, and a pair of Dark Star Gear kydex IWB holsters that'll fit a Glock 19/23/32 with the CTC Lightguard mounted.


There'll be some Gunbroker listings in the near future, too...
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Thursday, April 19, 2018

4/19/18

Well, Patriot's Day passed without anybody doing anything to add a further anniversary to 4/19, for good or ill.

It was a slow day here at VFTP. I managed to get to the range, though...



Wednesday, April 18, 2018

This project is shaping up...

The zoo's my blues muse.

So, the first time I went to the Indianapolis zoo, we were there for a company picnic with Bobbi's employer. It was late summer of 2011, and I had the Kodak EasyShare V1073 that I'd bought to photograph the LuckyGunner blogger shoot along with me. I had a lot of fun shooting pictures at the zoo.

The next time I was there was again with Bobbi, on a lark on one of her vacation days in 2013. Two years later, I had a more formidable camera. The Canon PowerShot SX500IS was all ate up with megapixels (16!) and zoom-X's (30!) relative to the Kodak, and I did indeed manage to get some better pictures with it.

In the summer of 2014, Kirk and I bicycled down to the zoo, and I schlepped along my then-current camera, a Canon 20D with an 18-135mm travel zoom lens fitted. I was super happy with a few of my shots. I was more patient on the shutter, and had at least some eye toward composition.

Fast forward to yesterday:

The Winter That Won't End has not been kind to my SADS. I've been struggling with enough give-a-damn to get out of the house on plenty of days, and have had too many that saw me stay in pyjamas, sitting at my keyboard until well in the afternoon before I could yank myself out of a mope long enough to run errands.

Tuesday's weather was forecast to be sunny by lunchtime, with a temp that might flirt with fifty degrees in the afternoon. "You know what?" I thought to myself on Monday afternoon, "I'll bet a trip to the zoo tomorrow, just by myself, with no schedule to worry about, would be just the thing to snap me out of my funk. I'll bring good cameras, and it will be awesome."

So I drove down and pulled into the zoo parking lot and the signs were good. I'd tried doing this last Friday only to abort at the last minute when I saw that the parking lot was jammed full and half of it was school buses. Tuesday at lunchtime, though, there were only a half dozen school buses and the parking lot was barely a quarter full.

The weather, though, had probably something to do with it. It was 34°F and gusting as I walked across the parking lot. There were more kids running around screaming than I thought there would be, and my hands were getting a little cold as I stood looking down into the walrus tank...

But, oh what I was seeing through the viewfinder! I had the full-frame Sony A7 with me, fitted with the 24-240mm zoom that my friends had pooled their dough and surprised me with. Oh, you could see the walruses' vibrissae glistening and the water droplets frozen in space as they surfaced and spun and dove... These pictures were going to be great!

After about ten minutes of shooting, I noticed the kids were thinning out, and I decided to duck into the desert biome to warm my hands while I shot pictures of lizards.

There in the indoor display, shooting from an awkward angle, I was composing the shot using the screen on the back of the camera instead of the viewfinder and... what were those orange letters blinking in the top right corner of the screen?
NO CARD
Oh. Fudge. Except, much like that more famous Hoosier, I didn't say "fudge".

I fumbled in the little pocket of the Event Messenger 100 intended to hold spare memory cards. There was no card in there, either.

Oh. Fudge.

Wait, the zoo gift shop! They used to sell film in those back in the day! Maybe they had some cheap SanDisk 8GB cards for three times what they were worth?

I half-ran across the zoo to the gift shop, but no dice. Oh, they had some emergency battery chargers for smart phones, which is how half everyone records images these days. If you were perverse enough to be schlepping actual camera gear around the zoo, you were obviously expected to be squared away enough to have remembered to check your cameras before you left the house.

Walking dejectedly from the gift shop, I took a few deep breaths and centered myself.

I'd learned one lesson from that long ago trip to Tennessee: Anyplace worth bringing one camera is worth bringing two. The camera bag over my shoulder is the one I take with me everywhere. It holds my iPad Mini and its type cover, an Olympus PEN E-P5, and three lenses, with the 14-150mm zoom mounted on the camera. It's a good little rig and the one I used to do almost all my picture-taking at Tac-Con.

Determined not to waste the trip, I decided to just walk it off and shoot the zoo with the PEN.

Meanwhile, the sun came out, the temp rose into the 40's, and along about one o'clock or so, the zoo largely emptied out. I was glad I stayed.

The Olympus did just fine, by the way, and I had a fantastic time.

You know, the zoo is only about a twenty minute drive from the house, and annual memberships aren't terribly expensive. This is some cheap therapy, when you think about it.
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Risk.

In my brief flirtation with drag racing cars back in my misspent youth, I learned about things like "scattershields" and "transmission blankets".

See, in your car, there are rotating parts under and next to your feet that are spinning at high rates of speed. In race cars, they are subjected to sudden, violent forces and the torque of high performance engines. Here are a couple pics I found doing a quick Google search:

That there above is what resulted when a Torqueflite 727, a heavy duty automatic transmission, came apart under the force of a 2,000+ bhp blown Hemi.

That's the side of the car, where the bits of transmission exited through the passenger door.

This morning on the news, Savannah Guthrie was mouthing something about "...what happened yesterday on a Southwest Airlines jet, and could this happen to the engines of other airliners?" causing me to yell at the TV screen again...

"JESUS, HONEY, DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW JET ENGINES WORK?"


Surely everyone else who has been confronted with this view has spent at least a few seconds idly contemplating what would happen if the compressor section shredded itself under centrifugal forces, right? Then you accept how unlikely it is and what a marvel it is to have this view at all. And you nod off to sleep.

It must be jarring to go through life not realizing the existence of any of the unlikely dangers that surround you every day, only to have one rear its ugly head unexpectedly.

(I thought for a moment that photo might have been taken on a Southwest 737, but on checking my records, that was a Delta bird, IND-ATL. It would have been a freaky coincidence to have a photo of the engine in question, but fortunately I do not.)
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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bad Neighborhoods...

So, I'm reading the news story about a woman who got shot multiple times in a CVS parking lot here in Indy last night. And I get to this part:
Police say the woman was shot multiple times in the parking lot of the CVS Pharmacy at Shadeland Avenue and Pendleton Pike around 8:30 p.m. Monday. An employee heard the shots and called 911. 
The woman reportedly drove herself to the 3900 block of N. Grand Avenue, near 38th & Emerson.
And as God is my witness, the first thought to flash across my consciousness was "Drove to 38th & Emerson? Did she want to get shot again?"

I mean, 38th & Emerson wouldn't be my first choice if I wanted to go get in a shooting...that'd be 42nd & Post...but it's definitely in my top five list of "Areas to Avoid in Order to Remain Un-Shot".
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Flashbacks...

Just like the good ol' days of the Cold War, socialist hellholes that can't feed their own people will still have Kalashnikov factories.
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Monday, April 16, 2018

Slipping down a rabbit hole...

There's a story here I'm wrestling with.

When law enforcement agencies in the US started the mass migration from revolvers to autoloaders in the mid- to late-'80s, Smith & Wesson's classic line of double action autos had the lion's share of that market, thanks in no small part to their crushing dominance in the police revolver business.

SIG-Sauer and Beretta had tiny market shares initially, when that upstart Glock began making ever-bigger inroads.

Yet the P229 and the 92FS are still here, if only barely, while the traditional S&W autoloaders are all but consigned to the dustbin of history.

And therein lies the story...
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Oh, the weather outside is frightful...

A post shared by Tamara Keel (@tamarakeel) on

I just stuck my head out the door to confirm what the noise I was hearing was. It was, in fact, a mower. The Democrat Next Door's landscapers apparently have the same motto as the postal service, because they weren't letting the fact that it was snowing deter them from their appointed rounds.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Clearing a tab...


I've had a tab open to this good report on Tac-Con '18 as a reminder to link to it. Sign up early for Tac-Con '19! Registration is usually full by mid-late summer.

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Duck!

Project underway...


While the classic P-series Sigs and the Beretta 92 cling to ever-thinning market share in an increasingly plastic world, the traditional metal Smith & Wesson autoloaders are no more, and there's a story in there.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Okay, this is Spring.


Sorry 'bout that.

I had a video clip on here yesterday morning of a dude getting a piece of brass down the back of his hoodie at an indoor range and, in the process of doing the hot brass dance trying to extract it, cranking off a pair of ND's to his six o'clock, narrowly missing an RSO.

The video was security camera footage from the range that had been posted to a secret Facebook group by the RSO in question. He had asked that it remain in the group (I don't know which group; I'm not a member) but someone leaked it and it went viral.

Unless I'm contacted by dude saying it's okay to repost, I'm leaving it down. Just because everybody else is violating dude's confidence is no reason I should.
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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Hard Lessons

So, you'll hear me harp a lot about anchoring your support hand during the draw and not "floating" it in space. This guy is an example of why you only collect the gun with your support hand at the "three" count of the draw (and only turn loose of it there during the re-holster.)


But while I was watching this video, I'm not going to lie: My stomach clenched as I thought "Oh, God, he's gonna do it again right here on camera..."

While I appreciate the dude being willing to share his errors so that hopefully others will learn from them, my initial reaction on seeing the video on FB was pretty strong...


Pimp-Slapped by the Invisible Hand?

I'm sad that I no longer have a Bank of America account to close.

If a company is going to insert themselves that proactively into a political fight, it's only fair that they experience whatever consequences will come from it.

They presumably thought that this was a move that would generate more goodwill than lost business. We'll see if the invisible hand pats them on the head or gives them a pimp slap.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Interesting Times

DDH-184 Kaga
The Chrysanthemum Fle...er, "Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force", having already added to its blue-water abilities with a brace of 800+ foot long "helicopter destroyers", has now stood up a brigade-sized marine unit to go with them.

When a Japanese newspaper reported last December that the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force was looking at modifying the carri...er, "helicopter destroyers" to better support F-35B STOVL operations, it drew a strongly-worded response from Beijing.
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Monday, April 09, 2018

Fewer ads...

Project Wonderful ads have gone away on this blog.

Truth be told, I'd been keeping them up mostly for nostalgia the last several years. I don't know what their advertiser policies were, but no small kydex benders or knife makers ever used them to get views on this blog. I was down to seeing maybe ten bucks a month revenue from them and so when they complained that their bot had crawled the site and couldn't find one of the ad boxes, I just deleted them all.

Frankly, these days this blog is more of an outlet for writing I can't sell elsewhere, and a business card for writing I wish I could. Writing it nowadays is a net loss, as every keystroke is one I could be doing for pay elsewhere, and the guns I shoot in 2k round tests here are bought out of my own pocket.

So, anyway...no more Project Wonderful ads. Hope the blog loads faster for y'all. Peace! 😎
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April showers...

While I first fell in love with my neighborhood under a light dusting of early winter snow and still think it looks charming that way, this is not the weather I ordered for early Spring.
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Sunday, April 08, 2018

Recycling a ten-year-old post...

On April 8th in 1913, the 17th Amendment to the Constitution went into effect. To anybody concerned with checks and balances and separation of powers who had actually read the Constitution, it's hard to see how this could be considered a good idea. As a matter of fact, it's hard to see how it could not be seen as undermining the very concept of a federal republic.

I know some of you are clicking for Wikipedia right now, muttering to yourselves "Seventeenth? Is that income tax, or when they let y'all chicks vote? No, it's Prohibition, right?" No, the Seventeenth Amendment is the one that calls for direct election of Senators. What's so bad about that, you ask? (Go on, ask.) Well, let me tell you...

Understand this first: I'm not one of those people who think the Constitution is divinely inspired and the perfect governmental document. However, for setting up a limited federal government with strictly enumerated powers rigidly separated among different branches that acted as brakes on each other, it's really pretty clever. There was a lot of thought put into a careful system of counterweights and oversights, and if you change one bit of it, you can throw something completely unexpected out of kilter. And boy howdy, did the Seventeenth Amendment ever do that in spades.

Firstly, our bicameral legislature originally copied one redeeming feature from the English Parliament. The lower house was composed of representatives directly elected, one per every X number of the population. Because of their (relatively) small constituencies and their two-year terms, representatives had to be very aware of the popular sentiment of "John Q. Public" and respond to it, lest they be replaced. In the English system, the upper house was the House of Lords, with noble members who had a lifetime tenure. Although they couldn't permanently shoot down legislation, they could apply a temporary veto which could be overturned by a determined lower house.

Our upper house was the Senate, whose members served terms three times as long as those of the lower house. Since we had no hereditary nobility (and were prohibited one by the Constitution) each state's two senators were elected by the state government itself. Thus insulated from the constant pressure of needing to worry about re-election and the public whim of the moment, the Senate would serve as a brake against the spasms of popular fads, and prevent asshattery like legislation proclaiming the theme song from Friends as the national anthem or Britney Spears being voted Dictator-for-Life.

The second, even more important, function served by senators, was as representatives of their state or commonwealth government to the federal government in Washington. Whereas a representative from Dubuque or Des Moines would be voting the whims of their respective constituencies, the senator from Iowa was expected to represent the sovereign interests of the Hawkeye State. This has very specific effects on the separation of powers in the U.S. Constitution.

One of the most telling effects comes from the fact that the Constitution specifically delegates the power to ratify treaties to the Senate. This is important both in the nature of our federal system of government and in the nature of foreign treaties at the time the Constitution was written. In the late 18th Century there were no treaties designating United Nations World Heritage Sites or allowable levels of CFC emissions. Treaties involved war and peace, mutual defense, and the setting of national boundaries. By giving the Senate the power to ratify treaties, this was implicitly acknowledging the sovereignty of the individual states. A mutual defense pact with Absurdistan could not be entered into without at least a majority of the states feeling that they had sufficient ties to Absurdistan to make it worth defending. Likewise for treaties setting borders or ending wars; approval by the Senate was the de facto shorthand means of gaining the approval of every statehouse in the federation.

Once senators became directly elected, it effectively demolished the reasons for a bicameral legislature and the division of powers enumerated in the Constitution. The senator was now removed from his or her lofty perch and made as much a weathervane of the public whim as the representative. Further, the senator from certain states, those dominated by a single large city, no longer represented the interests of the state, but rather those of the small portion of the state in which the majority of the populace was concentrated. The Senate, originally a legislative buffer against the popular whim of the moment and the inexorable demographics of urban centers that dominate the House of Representatives, now became the very same thing it was meant to counterbalance, but with a six-year term instead of a two-year one.

In the years since 1913, the effect has become all too obvious. Treaties are ratified based on pressure from the media, not their agreeability to the sovereign states that are bound by them. There is no longer a legislative brake on popular fads or the whim of the moment. We've bounced from New Deal to New Frontier to Great Society to everything short of the Great Leap Forward. Commentators can make mouth noises about "We're not a democracy, we're a Federal Republic" all they want, wingnuts and moonbats can natter about wimmen voters and the Electoral College 'til the cows come home, but this nation became a democracy, for good or ill, with the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment. And we all know what the apocryphal quote says about democracies:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.

QotD: Priorities Edition

From Bobbi's post on the AARP:
"There's only so much room in the lifeboat. There are only so many dollars in the Federal Budget. How will you spend it? Who will you save? My goodness, Granny is in dire straits -- and so are the thugs trying to use her as a flotation device."

This is the best headline in the history of ever:


I had no idea that the awful culture war surveillance state corporate oligarch unfireable government bureaucratic mandarin acid rain cyberpunk dystopia would be this darkly hilarious.
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Surreal World

I seem to have woken up in a world with remote control tongue implants and pink haired people with nose rings on Meet the Press.

Is this what flashbacks are like? The people on TV keep talking about "President Trump". I think they mean that reality show guy.
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Saturday, April 07, 2018

Project delayed...

My experiment in converting over to AIWB carry has been postponed until short-sleeve tee shirt weather arrives.

Short-sleeve tee shirt weather has apparently been postponed until Memorial Day or some nonsense like that. They're calling for more frickin' snow tomorrow night. I just want to pull the covers over my head until it's seventy degrees and sunny out.

Go home, Mother Nature, you're drunk.
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Friday, April 06, 2018

Registration Leads to Confiscation

Back during the days of the 1994-2004 federal ban on scary-looking guns, I encountered an interesting phenomenon on internet gun fora.

This pair of pre-ban rifles cost decent used car money in 2001.
One of our members from Norway would occasionally post pictures of his rifles, with their folding stocks, bayonet lugs, flash hiders and other features that were tantalizingly verboten to new-production firearms in the U.S. at the time. Some of our stateside members would swoon and say things like "Man, I wish we had Norway's gun laws!"

That's where I'd get into the arguments, because I'd point out that, thanks to the firearms permitting system over there, the government in Oslo knew exactly how many of those rifles there were, who had them, and where they were. That, I would argue, didn't make for much of a Second Amendment-style deterrent.

Well, looks like they won't be having those rifles anymore.
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Thursday, April 05, 2018

Things on which you will be graded.

Gabe White delivers a comprehensive and thorough safety & medical briefing.
If you're a firearms instructor and I am taking your class, one of the first things on which I will be basing my impression of you & your class is your medical briefing on the morning of day one.

Before the first bullet goes downrange, I want to know who are the primary and secondary medics, the primary and secondary phone contact people, where the main class medical kit is, and which vehicle (if any) is staged and ready should we have to evacuate someone.
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Same planet, different worlds...

So, this morning I'm idly perusing Facebook on my iPad. A bunch of my conservative friends...the ones who frequently go on at length about how they distrust (and therefore never watch) Mainstream Media...are going on at length about "Oh, see how quickly the YouTube shooter has just dropped off the radar of the MSM? She doesn't fit their narrative, so she's not even news anymore!"

So I snapped a pic of the TV screen so I could transmit the news from Planet Earth to the denizens of Planet Limbaugh:


Folks, on my planet, if you're the third story of the morning on national network news, before the first commercial break, that's the equivalent of being above the fold on the front page of the newspaper. That is most definitely "in the news".

If you're going to talk about what is and isn't "in the news", you gotta watch the news. Don't wait for Rush to tell you what is or isn't "in the news".

Now, I will say that the only reason this shooting made the news at all was because of when and where it occurred. "Three wounded in shooting" wouldn't necessarily have been the top local news story if it had happened at 3AM at 30th & Ruckle. It would hardly rate a mention if it had occurred in a laundromat on the south side of Chicago.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Focal Length Simulator

There's a neat toy at Nikon's website that lets you get an idea of the field of view at various focal lengths, from 14mm all the way to 800mm. You can even plug in specific Nikon bodies and lenses.
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While we're talking about revolvers...

...have a couple gun pr0n pics from Claude Werner's snubbie clinic at Tac-Con this year:



Real Talk

Spring in the Midwest alright...

Yesterday it was 68 degrees and tornado-y out there, and this morning it's 34°F with fifty mph wind gusts and snow flurries.

Oy vey.


Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Rain, rain, go away...

It's raining too hard to even think about the outdoor range.

It's raining hard enough that I've abandoned my plans to drive to the indoor range. We are braced for what is likely a one-day record rainfall here in Indy. The previous one-day record for precipitation in April was 3.06", and we were over 2" while I was still in bed this morning.

Lotta low-lying streets between here and Indy Arms Company, and there's nothing I was planning on doing there that I can't do tomorrow.

I think I'll order some Indian takeout from DoorDash and stay home and write. I'm keeping a weather eye out regarding the advisability of trying to drive to the monthly member's meeting at Marion County Fish & Game tonight as well. The club driveway's pretty high above the banks of Eagle Creek...normally.
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Monday, April 02, 2018

The times, are they a-changin'?

My friend Tiffany Johnson relates her trepidation regarding the upcoming NRAAM:

And it's an understandable trepidation. After all, this is the sort of thing still seen as a HYUCK HYUCK! knee-slapper in a wide swathe of the crowd there:


Hey, let's joke about one of the demographics most in need of a CCW permit and most harmed by waiting periods because that's hilarious, amirite?

Still, Tiffany has a point:
But here’s my bet for the time being: if there are aspects of the NRA that I want to blow up, I stand a better chance of doing so from the ballot-casting inside than from the sign-wielding, social-media-saturating, external periphery. I can look to folks like Adam Kraut to help get things done rather than just idly simmering in my distant discontent. Like dude from Armageddon said, out on the sidelines, all you can hope to do is inflict a minor, temporary burn. And right now, I just don’t think that’s enough to right the ship on Waples Mill. Don’t worry; I have no desire to blow up the NRA completely. But there are some wormy parts that ache for metamorphosis. And I never saw a butterfly emerge from outside the cocoon.
I can either sit up in the wagon and gripe about where it's headed or I can hop out, grab the rope, and help pull. Only one of those gives me any real input in its direction.
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Sunday, April 01, 2018

Maximum Range

In last weekend's FPF Training class, all the students got a Sabre Mk6 trainer and a chance to do some hands-on work with it, both static and in impromptu scenarios.

I go on at length about people keeping a gun in the sock drawer as a lucky rabbit's foot to ward off crime, but that's nothing compared to how many people are running around with expired canisters of off-brand pepper spray on their keychains who have no idea how far the stuff will spray.
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Wait, what?

"Right-wing media have used the same predictable playbook for decades to downplay the frequent role that high-power, semi-automatic rifles often play in mass shootings, while at the same time working to advance legislation that makes such weapons easier for people to acquire.
What legislation have we been working to advance that makes garden-variety long guns "easier to acquire"? I mean, I'd be all about supporting it if there were some, but I sure haven't heard of any.
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Panic

Olympus's M Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens is a fantastic constant-aperture zoom that covers wide-angle to portrait focal lengths with a fairly fast maximum aperture and is good for all but the dimmest indoor settings. I've had good luck with it in the classroom at last weekend's FPF Training class in Terre Haute as well as shooting "grips & grins" type shots at the Tac-Con presenter's dinner the weekend before.

It uses a pretty slick selector to switch back and forth between auto and manual focusing: Slide the manual focus ring to the rear (there's a slight detent) and it exposes the focus range numbers on the lens barrel. Now you're in manual mode.

The downside is that if you do slide this ring back inadvertently, it can take you a good fifteen minutes of panicked digging through the camera's menus and turning it off and on again, all while thinking you've somehow bricked your very expensive lens, before you realize what's up.

Random musing...

I am beginning to drift around to the opinion that "Actually, we're a republic, not a democracy" is the libertarian/constitutionalist equivalent to the gun nuts' "Actually, it's a magazine, not a clip."

It's technically correct, but is likely to put off more people with its pedantry than it persuades with its precision. Some points of doctrine are best expounded once they've already converted to the faith.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Doctor, Doctor

Well, actually a Nurse Practitioner...

Bobbi dragged me off to the Kwik-E-Clinic at the local drug store, where I got poked and prodded and handed scrips for antibiotics and an inhaler.

I made whining noises about wanting chicken wings and, I guess because I'd been good and hadn't tried to bite the doc or put up a fuss getting into the carrier, Bobbi acquiesced to a lunch stop at Buffalo Wild Wings.

This was a triumph of optimism over experience. My palate is so spoiled by living in foodie paradise that when confronted with Casual American Dining fare, I wind up poking at it and making disappointed whining noises.

We got home and Bobbi made a call to the vet to set up an appointment for Huck. Maybe if he's good, he can go to Buffalo Wild Wings, too.
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Vermont Airlift...

In response to the passage of a gun control bill in Vermont that would, among other things, institute magazine capacity limits, RECOIL and Magpul have teamed up to airlift some emergency freedom supplies to the Green Mountain State:
RECOIL and MAGPUL invite the citizens of Vermont to the Statehouse at 2:30pm on Saturday March 31st to receive a free 30-round PMAG standard capacity rifle magazine and show their support for the Second Amendment of the United States. A representative from the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs will be on hand to accept donations that will fuel the legal challenge to the new restrictions.
I am pleased to work with RECOIL, largely because of stuff like this.
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Friday, March 30, 2018

Sitrep...

I think Sebastian's layout of the weaknesses in the RKBA movement's political and cultural game is pretty cogent. You should go read it.
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It caught up with me...

I didn't get SHOT crud this year, maintaining my perfect track record, but in retrospect, something was up. By the end of February, I'd developed a low, productive cough that lingered. I was otherwise asymptomatic and told myself it would just go away.

No fever, no aches, and March was so busy, what with Tac-Con and then the FPF Training class in Terre Haute...

My luck ran out yesterday morning, as my lungs felt clearer but affairs had obviously moved into my upper respiratory tract. Now my immune system has finally taken note of affairs, and the tender palate, fever, dripping sinuses, and sore lymph nodes of what is no doubt some variety of flu are in full effect.

Fortunately, I think this morning was probably Peak Awful. I stayed in bed 'til after noon, and it seems to have paid off somewhat. If it stays on this arc, I'll just avoid the pill-roller at the Walgreens. But if I feel like this tomorrow afternoon? Probably time to go get my humors checked.
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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Growth!

Shooting Illustrated magazine, of which I am pleased to be the Handgun Editor, has apparently grown its print circulation to 500,000 readers. No mean feat in the beleaguered dead tree field these days.

Of course, I happen to think it's the coolest and most "Gun Culture 2.0" of the NRA's mags, and that's not just because they print my stuff. Ed and Jay and the rest of the editorial crew over there are pretty much on the same page in the hymnal, and a pleasure to work with.

If you read this blog, are an NRA member, and aren't getting SI, you're wrong. Fix that.
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Philosophically Sloppy

Apparently calling to amend the Constitution is considered a violation of the oath taken to uphold and defend said document by some of my compatriots. I wonder if that line of thinking extends to, say, those who called for the 13th Amendment?
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At least the sky was blue with puffy clouds?

Classes where you do all your shooting from concealment take on a whole different feel when it's 37°F out. Bulky winter coat with a pocket full of loaded Glock mags added about .3 seconds to my draw.
I moved the mags to the weak-side pocket, and that mostly fixed the problem. (I'd been trying to keep the load balanced with two or three loaded mags on each side.)

Just wish the guns into the corn field.

"Fiat is a device for philosophy. Not for improving the nation that you have now." -Matt G

Overheard in the Hallway...

"Arming Teachers"

This phrasing keeps popping up, as though there's some nefarious NRA plan to order teachers to form ranks in the gymnasiums (gymnasia?) of America, where they will each be issued a brace of sixguns in a buscadero rig and a GOP party registration form.

The reality of things is that we already have plenty of armed teachers in America, it's just that in all but a few enlightened states, they can only be armed at the grocery store and the mall and the gas station, not at work. In most states, they're not even protected by "gun in parking lot" laws that shelter employees of private employers, since the entirety of school grounds is usually verboten terrain for firearms.

"Well, what will keep some disturbed kid from snatching the teacher's gun?" The same thing that keeps them from snatching the teacher's gun at the grocery store and the mall and the gas station: they don't know it's there because that's how concealed carry works. The same thing that saves me from having long, dull conversations about the best brand of JHP with every gun otaku with whom I'm stuck in a checkout line will prevent the hypothetical gun grabs the antis are conjuring.

"Teachers should be teaching, not the last line of defense for their students!" Hey, guess what? They're already the last line of defense for their students. That's not a decision you or I or even they get to make; the asshole who decided he wanted to grab some headlines makes that decision. Their only decision is how effectively they want to do it. If you want to be an ineffective ablative meat shield, that's on you, honey. I've already decided that I ain't goin' out like that.

Here's the thing: As long as there are guns, there are going to be a certain amount of shootings, just like as long as there are booze and cars, a certain percentage of people are going to drive drunk.

The guns aren't going away. There are more of them in this country than there are people. States that have passed draconian restrictions on the scariest-looking guns report single digit compliance rates. The sort of creative little doucherockets that think the Columbine shooters were role models are gonna be able to get their hands on guns for decades to come no matter what improbable legislation you ram through today.

The single most viable thing we could do to stop school shootings (and most public mass shootings in general) is as unlikely as wishing all the guns into the corn field, and that's to have a near total media blackout on them. But as long as shooting a bunch of classmates remains the easiest way to get to the top of the news cycle, get your own Wikipedia page, and ensure more people know your middle name than the president's, we're going to continue to incentivize these little shits.

That leaves one really effective solution: Eliminating victim disarmament zones. Nothing takes the cachet off your trenchcoat massacre more than being shot in the ear by the pink Kel-Tec .380 of Mrs. Perkins, your remedial grammar/comp teacher.

And that's the thing! There's no need to force teachers to play hunter/killer SWAT commando. The training requirements outlined in Florida's hasty-ass legislation are ridiculous, and I say this as someone with a reasonably extensive firearms training resume.

The shooting problem here is the easiest possible one there is. There's no need to go in search of anybody; just get all the kids out of sight of the locked classroom door, post yourself up in the blind spot against the wall between the doorway and your young charges, and wait. If the disturbed youth somehow manages to force the door, you send him to the respawn point like a proper camperfag.
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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Random thoughts after submitting an article...

It's my observation that people don't dig ambiguity in firearms reviews. They want to hear either that it's the greatest thing since sliced bread and they ought to run right out and buy it, or that it's a total dog.

The truth is that most guns are, to a greater or lesser degree, pretty much "meh". The ones that aren't are either scarily expensive or the actual total dogs that nobody in their right mind would send to an honest reviewer.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

From school this weekend...

Overheard in the Office...


"I saw Commies With a Dildo open for Jane's Addiction at the Roxy in '91."
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Monday, March 26, 2018

Markets

Back at the hotel in Terre Haute, I turned the TV on to the Today show as I was packing my stuff for the drive back to Roseholme Cottage.

This meant that I got some exposure to news programming from the local NBC affiliate, WTWO.

Wow.

I'm kinda spoiled because, not only is Indy a Top 25* broadcasting market, but the quality of newscasts is driven by competition in the city. There are affiliates of all four networks plus one independent that each run a newsroom and compete for the local news eyeballs. As a result, the better stations here have news production values as good as I've seen from some stations in much bigger markets, like Atlanta or DFW.

By contrast, WTWO this morning looked like it was being broadcast by a particularly on-the-ball high school A/V club.

Among the most pathos-ridden figures at the tiny market stations are the Silver-Haired Newsreaders With Gravitas who realize that they've reached the Silver-Haired Newsreader With Gravitas phase of their careers without ever being called up to the show. They're like the "Crash" Davises of broadcast journalism.

*Actually, 2016-2017 Nielsen data has us at #27.

Fortunate...

For some reason I thought Terre Haute was about fifteen or twenty minutes farther away than it is.

It's only about an hour and twenty minutes from Roseholme Cottage to the facility where this weekend's class was held, and if I'd known that, I might have tried to commute. Instead, I booked a hotel room for the weekend.

Which turned out to be fortunate because, while Terre Haute got some awful freezing rain on Saturday, midtown Indy got about eight inches of snow.
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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Self-Defense Argument Evolution

Tired: 9x19mm versus .45 ACP.

Wired: SFA versus TDA.

Inspired: OC dispenser in the strong side or weak side front pocket?

Friday, March 23, 2018

In the Tank

The morning news, both local and national, was full of coverage of the planned Children's Crusade tomorrow.

Reporters were interviewing children, apparently exempt from school on a weekday, boarding planes for the flight to DC. No doubt they had purchased their airline tickets with their newspaper route and babysitting earnings.

Earlier this year these same fawning reporters had been making fun of these same wide-eyed naifs for eating laundry detergent.

I won't be able to watch the festivities on the tube tomorrow because I'm going to out on the range, apparently in the snow, learning how to run a pistol better from John Murphy of FPF Training.


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It's Back!

Brigid has turned the lights back on at Home on the Range
Go read!


If it's you, shoot me an email or IM.

Departure From Controlled Flight

So, the stock market pretty much shit the bed yesterday. Global markets are doing likewise, because investors love them some trade war rumors.

Well, it's not like this part was unforeseen. Protectionism was baked into the core of the Trump platform, inasmuch as you can call an inchoate middle finger a "platform". We're gonna bring back all them jobs and you'll be able to buy $49 cell phones, $19 blue jeans, and 99 cent shower shoes made with good American union labor craftsmanship like your grandparents did. You can pay for them in the soybeans you can't sell in China anymore.

Yeah, this is hyperbole and everything's probably going to be fine. It just gets me nervous when people start yanking levers and spinning dials on machines as complicated as the global economy, because nobody's entirely sure how it all works (although plenty of folks think they are.)

Well, at least along with the protectionism comes isolationism, and frankly that was the most attractive part of the whole Trump movement. We've had enough foreign adventures in the last seventeen years. We need to take a less hawkish, less meddlesome foreign policy stance and...

Fantastic. That's exactly the kind of guy we need giving POTUS national security advice. Wonderful.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Prancing Pony or Dead Horse?

Got an press release in my inbox the other day announcing that the Presenting Sponsor of the 2018 NRA World Action Pistol Championship and the NRA Bianchi Cup this year was going to be Colt.

Now, at SHOT this year, Colt had a display half the size of the one they had last year, or the one they had at the last NRAAM. Floorspace in the main hall at SHOT ain't cheap, and that's not a good sign for a company that's been fighting off bankruptcy nearly as long as I've been in the gun biz.

On the other hand, they threw enough dough at NRA to be the Presenting Sponsor for Bianchi Cup, so who knows what's going on?
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The Culture War Heats Up


Some of those magazines represent my livelihood.

My words, my name, are on their pages.

My first real job was bagging groceries in a Kroger. I rode my bicycle to the local Kroger to earn the money I used to buy my first car. I’ve retained a nostalgic fondness for the chain ever since. I have written often on this blog of our tiny neighborhood Kroger here in Broad Ripple and its convenience and friendly employees. I ride my bicycle there frequently in the nicer months to get groceries.

Forget abstractions like natural rights and constitutional protections, this is an outright attack by them on my livelihood. They are drawing a bead right on my wallet.

Kroger is dead to me. They’ll never again see one red cent of my money.

They probably wouldn’t want it anyway, since it came from those abhorrent gun magazines.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Guns & Pr0n...

"InRange TV, another channel devoted to firearms, wrote on its Facebook page that it would begin uploading videos to PornHub, an adult content website.

“YouTube’s newly released released vague and one-sided firearms policy makes it abundantly clear that YouTube cannot be counted upon to be a safe harbor for a wide variety of views and subject matter,” InRange TV wrote. “PornHub has a history of being a proactive voice in the online community, as well as operating a resilient and robust video streaming platform.” PornHub didn’t immediately return a request for comment on the matter."
Karl and Ian have hit on a creative solution. If you have a fetish for elderly French veterans like Ian does, you might want to check them out.
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QotD: Enough Room In The Toes Edition

From PDB in a Facebook discussion:
"Why are we even expected to listen to kids? They're all idiots. Five years ago they were watching the Backyardigans with their fingers up their noses, and now we expect them to have meaningful opinions on natural rights, constitutional law, and criminology? They know less than nothing about the world and bear no costs for interpreting it incorrectly.

Using kids as political puppets is grotesque emotional manipulation and should be called out as dishonest bullshit at every opportunity.
"
Indeed.

Florence King's quote bears repeating:

Cards on the Table

MSNBC had not been shy about having a leftward editorial slant in the past, implicitly since '07 and explicitly since the "Lean Forward" campaign of 2010. It was their schtick to pass CNN and go after FOX News, by basically setting themselves up as the "AntiFOX".

By 2014 it was costing them viewership, as they'd pushed too far past the center-Left, and they were losing viewers in the crucial "Crackers in their prime spending years" demographic. They officially tried to steer a course back towards hard news back in 2015, but it's obvious that there's still an agenda, as is witnessed by the lavish promo spots for the Children's Crusade:



So, yeah, basically a straight-up commercial for gun control. Such evenhanded, very journalism, wow.

Of course, if you are a journalist working the Acela corridor, gun control is a very Centrist idea! Everyone knows that the NRA is funded by giant shadowy arms companies and nobody is actually opposed to "Assault Weapons Bans" and "Universal Background Checks" except a handful of camo-wearing kooks in Idaho. All our polling data tells us that!

Please let the Democrats make November 2018 a referendum on Gun Control rather than on Donald Trump.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

As it turns out...

...there are rather a lot of photographs here to sort through.


And that's just off the Pen. I still have to offload the pics on the OM-D.
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Monday, March 19, 2018

Unplugged...

The best part about Tactical Conference 2018 was that it was three days of being more or less entirely  unplugged.

We were leaving the hotel at 6:30 so as to arrive at the range before 7:00, in time to get signed up for some of the more in-demand classes. Lunch was on-site and we didn't head back to the hotel until after five, and then all three nights I had dinner with friends and colleagues (some of whom I hadn't seen face-to-face since last year) until late.

While I did my usual motel room habit of letting the TV drone softly with cable news while I slept, I didn't pay it a ton of attention. I'm also now three days behind on work and email, but it was worth it.

My batteries are pretty charged, and I added at least one more class to my training roster for the year (Gabe White in Missouri in June). Plus I have more stuff to write about. I may even try the novel tactic of pitching it to editors instead of waiting for them to come to me.
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This was a good weekend...









Can't wait to start going through all the pics...

Look for write-ups on stuff I saw, both here on the blog and elsewhere.
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Saturday, March 17, 2018

At gun school...

Students taking Claude Werner's Snubby Skills block of instruction at Tactical Conference 2018.
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Friday, March 16, 2018

It's the lens, not the camera...

So, I really like my Sony a7. It's two generations out of date, sure, but that makes it pretty much the cheapest way to get into a full-featured pro-grade 24 megapixel full-frame camera.

I would have loved to use it at Tac-Con '18, but the longest full-frame E-mount lens I have is the Zeiss f/4 24-70mm, and that's just not long enough to hack it for outdoor shooting class photography. I need to start rolling my pennies for a Sony f/3.5-6.3 24-240mm lens before Blogorado gets here. (The fast 24-70 will make a fine walking-around lens for NRAAM.)

In the meantime, I'll be using my hipster street photography Micro 4/3 gear for Tac-Con. The OM-D E-M5 and Pen E-P5 are both solid bodies, and most importantly I have a good "walking around" zoom in Micro 4/3 format.

It's not the fastest lens in the world, but the 28-300mm equivalency makes it a super-useful outdoors 10X walking-around zoom.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Florida, man...

I have some thoughts I need to unpack on that goofy Florida armed teacher thing, and some of the idiotic commentary I've heard on the topic, but it's going to take more pondering in my head.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Like diet tips from Jabba the Hutt...

Apparently China tut-tutted the U.S. about gun control saying that we had a gun violence problem that violated our citizens' civil rights:
The US has no other choice but to adopt gun control,” [the Chinese propaganda organ] said. “The right of life is the most fundamental human rights. The right to bear arms cannot overpower the individual’s right to live.” 
Funnily enough, Xi Jinping, we don't have a real big problem with protesting citizens getting run over by tanks in this country. Nobody's set themselves up as President for Life here, either, like you have.

I'm not saying correlation equals causation, but I'm not saying it doesn't either. Come to think of it, dudes like Xi are why we have a Second Amendment in the first place. Deer hunting is just a side-effect.

Overheard in the Office...

*ring* *ring*

"Hello?"

"Hello! My name's Jenny McSomething, and I'm a volunteer calling on behalf of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Can I speak with Roberta, please?"

"She's not available. Also, I work for the NRA. Have a nice day!"

*click*

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

#allthelumens


The EDCL2-T is same size as the E2D Ultra I used to carry, with over double the output. You can light up a critter half a block away, no kidding. The low-beam is a lot better integrated, too. No separate button pushing is required. You gently press the button for five lumens, push harder for all twelve hundred.

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Monday, March 12, 2018

Automotif CXLVI...


This is the first time a car...well, a truck...has really made me feel old.

I saw this thing waiting at the traffic light at 54th & College and was interested enough to snap a picture. The shortbed GMT400 was a clean-looking truck and my thought as I was deploying the camera was "Cool that someone is still running one of those old things and keeping it nice and straight..."

And then I realized that when young, fresh-faced 20-year-old me got a job at a Chevy store back in 1988, these things were brand spanking new and were for pickup truck styling what the Ford Taurus was for domestic sedan styling. And then I felt old.

I'd still drive a short-bed GMT400. A C1500 Silverado, preferably, with an L05 5.7L V-8, a five-speed, and a gnarly short rear end.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Atomization?

The other day was supposed to be some sort of "unplug from sundown to sundown" event, where people were going to put aside the tablets and smart phones and walk away from the keyboards and commune with real human beings.

There's kind of a problem with that, though. The power of social media means that for a lot of us, the people we want to commune with are inside those devices from which we were supposed to unplug.

Of the people I consider friends who I know well enough to like to unplug and spend time with, there's one in this house, another in the north 'burbs, and then it's an hour or more's drive to get to the next closest ones.

I need more tribe close-by.
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Friday, March 09, 2018

That's a change...

When last I left Mac OS to go back to Windows machines for my day-to-day work, I lamented leaving the easy integration of Image files behind. I guess I was running Win98SE at the time?

Anyhow, fast forward to today and going from Win10 to High Sierra was the exact same feel.  Scrolling through usefully-magnified image files in a folder just doesn't happen in Mac OS...well, I'm sure there's a way to do it, but I haven't figured out the right combination of Shift-Command-Clicks. Ironically, I didn't need to seek any tutorials in Windows to learn to "Open" -> "Scroll Arrow".

#noplebgunstoday

No pleb holsters, neither!

After some extremely frustrating writing time, I made an emergency schedule change and decided that this morning's range visit was just some me time, some sanity shooting, a little recoil therapy. I set aside the work guns and pulled some old favorites out. They're still dirty, and the Wilson in particular still needs to be field-stripped, photographed, cleaned, and lubed, but I was just going to shoot for fun.

I almost packed up and went home with that third shot on Dot 8, the one that's clean off the paper. I'm glad I stuck around, though, because Dots 9 and 10 are pretty solid. This was three yards, untimed, 47/50. I should have cleaned it. Oh well.

The Springfield Pro was drier than a popcorn fart, and I can't remember the last time I fired it, but it has to have been at least a year or more ago. That Black T finish has rather a lot of lubricity, though, and the slide still feels almost like it's had an Acc-U-Rail job done.

The Wilson is so filthy that the slide is noticeably sluggish. It still ran fine though. Apparently it is unaware of expert opinion.

The Springer was at seven yards and the Wilson at fifteen. I was pushing just a little bit with the seven yard shots, and shooting like I was on the clock at fifteen yards. Pushed a little too fast on a couple of those. They're still within the generous USPSA A-zone, but I see four where I'd let my grip come all apart and that high one I hadn't let my sights really settle yet but my trigger finger had already made up its mind.