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.