Thursday, September 20, 2018

More Huck...

This was shot with the Sony a7 & Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 zoom lens. Zoomed all the way out to 240mm, the f/6.3 max aperture doesn't allow for the dramatic background defocus of faster lenses, but it still takes an okay picture with a well-lit subject.

The Eagle Has Landed...

FedEx showed up at 5:42PM yesterday. No unboxing video, sorry. Here's the end result:

KEH called me and said they'd invoice me for another $200. That seemed fair to me.

It's money I wasn't planning on spending and really don't have to spare, but a week or two on ramen is good for the character. Besides, a couple hundred bucks for a clean conscience is a bargain. Now the camera is mine fair and square and I don’t feel like I’ve put one over on anyone. And $499 for an excellent-in-the-box 1Ds Mark II is still a screaming deal, as a quick perusal of the used ones on Amazon will show.

Here's the comparison I promised with the equivalent field-of-view lens on the Micro Four Thirds OM-D E-M5. One is a walking-around lens, the other...not really for just casual roaming with a camera by your side.

I have a Lowepro Apex 120 camera bag that's a leftover from when my go-to camera was a Canon Rebel XT with an 18-135mm travel zoom, and there's no way it will accommodate a massive pro body like the EOS-1Ds Mark II, no matter what lens you put on it, but it'll swallow the little Olympus, complete with 35-100mm zoom and the battery grip, no problem at all.

By the time the lens got here, it was cat-feeding and dish-washing time. So it was headed for dusk when I threw it on the camera and took it into the back yard where there were squirrels who could serve as models for some test shots...

Hey, little fella! Pose for the camera!

I was impressed by how easily it grabbed focus through that little gap without any hunting or confusion by the tree trunk or vegetation. I am going to have fun with this setup next month!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Back-Saver...

The Online Photographer is spot-on with the observation he makes in this post. I have been extremely impressed with the Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 so far, and its size makes it easy to tote pretty much anywhere.

Here it is with a pint glass for scale...

When the Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L gets here, I'll get pictures of them side-by-side.


My review of the Sig Sauer P365 is up at Shooting Illustrated...

...and so is my review of the Gen5 Glock 26.

I want to buy both review guns, but I can't afford both and only need one. Argh.

The future is surreal...

1,300 rounds.

Yesterday morning saw me back at Indy Arms Company with the Wilson Combat EDC X9 and another two hundred rounds of ammunition.

I'm trying to work up speed again, which is requiring me to try and get some grip strength back into my left hand. On round number 1,279 I got my left thumb in the way of the slide closing fully, so I'm not going to count a user-induced malfunction against the gun.

This makes 1,300 rounds down, 700 to go.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

QotD: I Don't Get It Either Edition...

"“Unboxing Videos” are an internet phenomenon I will never understand. Rank them up there with eating Tide Pods and finding Kardashian women fascinating."
I absolutely don't get the fasincation with sitting there and staring at a box while listening to someone drone on about what's inside it. It's even less explicable than the painfully dull "tabletop review".

Well, that explains it...

Looking at the sticker on the box, the camera somehow got inventoried as a 1Ds and not a 1Ds Mark II. They're probably scratching their heads over why some woman keeps calling and claiming she owes them $300. As a friend of mine noted, once a bar code is on something, to the average employee it might as well be engraved in stone.

I last spoke with customer service yesterday afternoon about 4:30. They said they'll call back.

Even with the thoroughly mediocre EF 35-135mm f/4-5.6 lens I had laying around, this thing does okay. I can't wait to slap some real glass on it.


Monday, September 17, 2018

Doing the Right Thing can be tough...

I've just made the phone call to KEH and now I'm waiting on them to call me back, so I suppose I can tell the story in public now...
"So, I had posted on my blog a couple weeks ago about how I wanted a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens for shooting action stuff and indoor sports and such, but they were too expensive. 
Well, one of my blog readers emailed me and said he had an older non-stabilized Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L lens that he'd sell me for $250. Even these old ones are bringing $600 on eBay, so it was very generous. Because lens is more important than camera, I took him up on the deal. 
I stopped shooting Canon several years back. I still had the Canon 20D in the house, but I'd given it to Bobbi, and it's an APS-C camera, and this lens deserves a full-frame sensor.  On a lark, before shopping for a Canon-to-Sony adaptor, I went to go see how much the oldest Canon full-frame bodies were going for used. KEH Camera Brokers had the EOS 1Ds (state of the art in 2002!) for $299. 
"What the hell," I thought, "Blogorado's coming up and PNC has raised the limit on my card. It might be fun to play with out on the range.
The box arrived Saturday, and when I opened it up it was like that scene in True Romance where they open Patricia Arquette's suitcase to find a fortune in cocaine instead of dirty laundry. 
KEH had sent, not an EOS 1Ds, but an EOS 1Ds Mark II. This is the next generation of pro-grade Canon from the one I bought. I checked the invoice and the serial number matched, but this was definitely a Mark II, and according to their catalog should have been $625 instead of $299. 
Now I have to call KEH in the morning and see what they want to do. Even though it's going to be a financial kick in the ribs, I'm tempted to ask if they'll let me just put the difference on my charge card. In the meantime, I'm just enjoying holding what was an $8000 pro-grade top-of-the-line camera in 2007."
I sometimes wish my parents hadn't raised me right.

Travel Hassle

On longer trips, like the ones to New Mexico or New Hampshire, my carry-on bags are stuffed with my MacBook Air for work, my iPad for entertainment and light writing chores, and a heavy Dell gaming laptop. If it's just a short trip for work, I leave the gaming rig at home, but that's still two items I need to drag out of the carry-on at the Security Theater checkpoint.

Yeah, I'm that person who waves you around her as she struggles getting all the crap out of her bag and into the trays.

That's why this was good news:
The next time you fly, your bag may undergo a computed tomography, or CT, scan. 
Indianapolis International Airport is one of 15 airports using technology similar to a medical imaging scan to look inside your luggage.
It would be way more convenient to just toss the bags on the conveyor and scoop them up on the other side without having to unpack and repack them.

I've considered paying for one of those pre-probulating services, but I just don't fly frequently enough to make it worth it. I don't know where the tipping point is, but currently I'm only flying three or four times a year, and that ain't it.

Sunday, September 16, 2018


The nobles and rich people back in the day didn't know what they were missing when they let the kitchen help make off with the shanks and tails and suchlike...

Yesterday's dinner started out with some beef shanks and ox tail browning in the big stew pot. All that marrow and connective tissue was going to make for a super-savory stew.

Here Bobbi has added the stew beef and some diced rutabaga...

After adding white onion, fennel root, carrots, beef stock, crushed tomatoes, and other stuff, the final result looked like the picture above and tasted absolutely delicious. Bobbi has a more detailed recipe up on her blog if you would like to duplicate this repast.

Stay In Your Lane


I really didn't want to go out there and walk this morning, but I guess that's part of it, the doing of things you don't want to do.

I'm debating going to the range today and grinding out more round count on the Wilson EDC X9. I need to finish that up and start writing it up so I can get started on the Autumn of DA/SA.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Lazy Day...

Like last weekend, I slept in on Saturday, which means I'll have to go out and walk tomorrow morning before Meet the Press comes on.

Other than a quick errand to Meijer for sodas and dinner fixings, it's been a lazy day around the house. I got some writing done, but not as much as I wanted to, so tomorrow will be serious catch-up time.

Have a picture of Huck:

Sony a7 II & Sony 24-70mm f/4 Vario-Tessar T FE OSS

Friday, September 14, 2018

Light My Way

Caleb, at the Lone Wolf Distributors blog, wrote back in August about the importance of properly identifying your target before shooting:
"Understanding the role of a WML for home defense is critical to using it – WMLs aren’t for searching, they’re for target ID. Here’s the scenario: there is a person in your home that you believe to be a threat, you point your gun at it that’s equipped with a WML and see that it’s a 6’9 dude with white power tattoos and a machete, so you light him up. Good clean shoot. Same situation, but this time your light reveals your teenage son sneaking in after curfew. Because you had a WML, congratulations you didn’t shoot your jerk kid!"
This, interestingly, brings up the additional possibilities allowed by the newer, brighter weapon-mounted lights, like Surefire's 1,000-lumen XH35 seen here...

There's enough light from those that you can often positively ID targets with spill, with the gun still in a low muzzle-aversion position. Alternatively, an XH35 on a pistol held in a high muzzle-aversion position like temple index will usually reflect enough light off the ceiling of a room to light the room reasonably well.

While the lens on the light is protected by Thyrm Clens, the body of the light can get pretty grody on a short gun like this. I got the masking tape idea watching blog reader rremington shooting at TacCon this year...

Have some flowers...

Here's a pretty flower to look at while I'm sitting here waiting on the little white van of happiness to drop off my latest order from Lucky Gunner. (Thank you, Patreon subscribers!)

I love the convenience, because if I order before 3PM Mon-Thu, the ammo usually hits my porch before the range opens at 10AM.

Thursday, September 13, 2018


I am thankful for the pretty decent built-in speakers on the iPhone 7 plus, because the last couple days I've been able to listen to Ballistic Radio while doing my morning walk, and I refuse to use earbuds (also known as "target indicators") while out walking in the middle of a large settlement of apex predators.

Besides, if I got jacked while out walking while listening to Ballistic Radio on earbuds, I would never ever be able to live that down.

Not to mention being able to hear cars and stuff like that. I'm always amazed to see people jogging or bicycling in the street with earbuds or even headsets. It seems like the texting driver and the Bose-wearing cyclist are just a match made in insurance heaven.

Actually, about the only time I use earbuds is when I'm on airplanes. I just don't like being deprived of a sense like that.

When I'm playing World of Warcraft here at home, I almost never get the full stereo effect from my Logitech G930's, because I usually leave one ear uncovered so I can hear Bobbi and the cats.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Your House Isn't a Free-Fire Zone...

So, one time back in the day, when I lived in Cookie Cutter Courts apartment complex, I stayed up for most of a weekend playing...I can't remember, but it was probably Diablo a LAN party. And then because I had errands to run on Monday, I only got a couple hours of half-assed sleep Sunday night. I ran errands during the day and then sleep-rode my motorcycle to the airport for work, clocked out at about 0100 and rode home so tired I was practically hallucinating.

I stopped one flight short and stuck my key in the door of 213 instead of 313 before realizing my error.

So that much of soon-to-be-former Officer Guyger's statement to authorities rings true.

However, she states she found the door ajar, that she issued the shadowy figure she encountered commands to stop, and only shot him when he did not comply.

In other words, her statement ticks all the boxes for an unfortunate shoot that will likely result in a plea deal on manslaughter charges and the end of a career in law enforcement. Especially if her claim that she didn't turn on the lights and realize she was in the wrong apartment until she was already on the phone with 911 is borne out by the recording of the call.

The angry public is clamoring for murder charges, however, and if soon-to-be-former Officer Guyger fudged any part of her statement in order to make her case look better, it will bite her in the ass.

So, back to my oft-repeated mantra of "Your house is not a free-fire zone," with the newly added codicil: "...especially if it turns out it's not your house."

For fifty bucks, you can use this:

For 9.06¢ per kWh, you can use this:

And for free, you can use this:

Maybe so...

It's certainly helped me through a rough year.

Because it's just a hobby, I know it does for me a lot of what shooting used to do. With shooting, unfortunately, I have learned the lesson that adult film actors do: You can turn anything into work.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #173...

After 3,785 I suppose I owe you guys a teardown, some macro photos of a filthy gun, and a writeup. And I owe this poor gun a bath. Reliability has been stellar, BTW. Go figure.

A tentative feeling of accomplishment...

See all that snot on the picture? That was stuff on the sensor of my Sony a7 II. The vibrating self-cleaning process didn't dislodge it, and it didn't blow off with an air bulb, and so that meant cleaning the sensor. (Actually the glass protector on the sensor.)

I ordered up some swabs and solvent and pondered my options. There was nothing like a clean-room sort of environment inside Roseholme Cottage, but it was 68 degrees and humid, with dead calm air outside. If I was going to have the body cap off long enough to swab something, sitting in the corner on the front porch was as good a place as any.

Once finished, I shot the clouds at f16, and the spots seemed to be gone. I'll take it out for a spin later today.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Overheard in the Hallway...

TV Announcer: "...the new book about beloved First Lady, Betty Ford."
RX: "Who ever writes a book about a First Lady the people hated?" 
Me: "Hillary Clinton's ghost writer?"

Riddle Solved...

So I'd thought I'd tracked down the mystery of the automagically imported files on Lightroom CC. I went into the settings of the app on my phone and turned off the feature that auto-imported photos from the camera into my Lightroom catalog.

Then I came home from lunch with Shootin' Buddy yesterday afternoon, sat on the front porch finishing up a column on my iPad, and came inside to futz around on the desktop computer. I opened Lightroom, and there were the phone snapshots of lunch! Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Strausberg chili dog with a side of cauliflower salad at Liter House.
So this morning I hit the Googles to see what was up. The answer was simple enough that I felt a little silly. Since all the Apple devices share photos to the same pool, the Mac desktop computer and iPhone had been commanded to stop uploading grocery lists and screen caps to Lightroom, but the iPad was dutifully chugging away. Fixed that now.

Sunday, September 09, 2018


So, sometimes I take a photo with my phone that is intended as an actual photo and process it with Adobe Lightroom CC, right there on my phone, because it's handy as dammit.

Far more often, though, the photos I take with my phone are notional things, meant to share a picture my friends of a tasty meal or a cool t-shirt I saw. (Because that's what social media is for, in my opinion. I'm just having conversations with friends that, because these conversations are on the internet, are observable by other people to a greater or lesser degree.)

Even more notional than a picture of a meal or funny t-shirt are the countless images in my phone's photo album of shopping lists, screen shots, silly memes, and such. The phone dutifully saves these, too.

And the problem is that I haven't figured out a way to make Lightroom able to tell the difference between an actual photograph and the "Why football man don't stand up?" So it automatically tries to synch everything in the iPhone's photo library with my online Lightroom storage.

There has to be a way to fix this that I'm just missing...

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #172...

This Langdon Tactical 92 Elite LTT is fixin' to get the 2k round treatment. So far I am really liking the grips. I'm finding the sights to be very usable, and the trigger has to be felt to be believed. The DA pull is amazing.

Not in the game...

With the front moving through, I spent yesterday in rather a lot of pain. This morning I repeated last Saturday's day off from walking, which means I'll be out for a morning stroll before Meet the Press tomorrow morning. Hopefully without an umbrella; it's been raining pretty steadily for two days straight here.

My head has been muzzy today, which is making writing hard.

Friday, September 07, 2018


That's funny right there, I don't care who you are...

Terribly sorry...

Got out for a leisurely amble this morning. My 17.03/mile pace was due more to laziness than the fact that I was carrying an umbrella.

Then a discussion on Facebook wound up in me falling down the rabbit hole of Googling ballista plans on the internet. Turns out there are rather a lot of them. For instance, behold "Mista Ballista"!

Thursday, September 06, 2018

That felt good...

I got a good walk in this morning right at sunrise. A little over a mile at what Siri says was a 15.33/mile pace. It left me pleasantly winded. I should do that more.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

I'm not alone... my love of State Fairs. Aaron has pics and video from Michigan's State Fair. Go check it out!

Fast Glass

The 70-200mm constant-aperture zoom lens is a staple in camera bags. It's such a staple that, well...
"’s a lens that so many pros rely on for a considerable portion of their photography that the leading manufacturers of camera bags design their wares around it. We’ve seen countless demos by the bag makers who describe a pro-level case as being able to hold a DSLR with a 70-200mm."
I like "travel zooms" (like the Sony 24-240mm that's on my a7 right now) as the walking-around lens on my camera, but while they add the versatility of going from wide-angle to long telephoto, they are too slow to use for anything other than brightly-lit outdoor work.

Even with extensive work in Lightroom, trying to shoot derby with a typical f/3.5-5.6 travel zoom results in a hot mess.
I'd been pondering getting a constant aperture 70-200mm to better be able to shoot things like roller derby. There was no way I was going to be able to swing a lens like that before Blogorado time rolled around again, though.

A full-frame Sony E-mount 70-200mm f/4 is about a grand used, and the one I really wanted, the 70-200mm f/2.8, is double that money or more.

This is where the magic of Micro Four-Thirds comes to the rescue. Since the MFT sensor is half the size of the one on a full-frame camera, a 35-100mm zoom would give the same field of view as a 70-200mm on the Sony. And Panasonic happens to make a very well-regarded 35-100mm f/2.8 zoom lens.
Due to the smaller glass, it's a lot more affordable, too. Sure, because of the crop factor you also lose some of the tight depth-of-field control you get with a full-frame f/2.8, so if portraiture is your jam it's not really a substitute. But is it capable of shooting roller derby? It would appear so.

Speaking of the magic of crop factor, the tiny 1/1.7" sensor on the Pentax Q7 and Q-S1 means that the 70-200mm equivalent on those cameras is a 15-45mm lens that costs a hundred bucks and fits in a teacup.

Surly...or, well, surlier than usual.

The constant low-level pain makes me a downright unpleasant person to be around, and I don't much like that. I'm irritable and find myself answering even long-time friends snippily and shortly.

If I've done this to you recently (and it was in a manner you thought out of character for me) that's why, and I apologize. Hopefully things will be back to my normal levels of snarky hostility in another month or two.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Nike's ad agency...

"Nike Loses $3.75 Billion in Market Cap After Colin Kaepernick Named Face of ‘Just Do It’ Ads"

Quote mining old posts...

I did not know that.

I mean, I knew that the Canuck-made rifle optic was called the "Elcan", presumably after its manufacturer, and I knew that Leica had long had a presence in Canada. But I had never made the obvious connection...
"KE-7As were fitted with modified shutters to operate in temperatures to -20 degrees Fahrenheit, were dust sealed for military field conditions and made to withstand explosive concussion (i.e. bomb blast). The 460 military versions were engraved to indicate that they were standard issue US Army property ( specifically, each with FSN (Federal Stock Number), Cont. (contract designation), and U.S. (United States) markings) and came supplied with a Leitz Midland made 50mm f2 “Elcan”. The Elcan 50mm f2 (“Elcan” being a contraction of “Ernst Leitz Canada”) was constructed of 4 elements for minimum size for military use. Where the “KE-7A” designation comes from is anyone’s guess."
Optics are, after all, optics. It's a rare camera company that's not hip-deep into scopes and rangefinders and microscopes and such.

It's too bad the C79 is such an expensive optic. They're generally not preferred by anybody who can get their hands on alternatives from Trijicon, Aimpoint, or any of several quality makers of low-power variables, but it would be neat to have one in the collection just because of the Leica connection. There's a used one on Gunbroker right now, but it's the US M145 variant, which is intended for use on SAWs and 240s. And $600 for a "meh" scope I'd never put on a working gun, just because it has a cool camera connection is not the sort of thing I can do.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Labor Day

I did my mile walk around the block this morning and returned home feeling like I'd gone for a swim. According to Siri, the dew point outside was 71° (Siri knows the dew point and barometric pressure; Alexa is stumped by those two.)

I walked over to Sam's Gyros for lunch and tipped extra because Sam was in there by hisself on Labor Day and it was hotter than dammit in that kitchen. Heat index was over 100 today in weather that was more Floridian than Hoosier.

I had a lager because lower in carbs, but then I had a Hoppopotamus IPA from Metazoa Brewing because Labor Day.
Sat at the counter at Fat Dan's for a couple pints and pecked away at the Glock 19X review while keeping half an eyeball on the Braves playing the Red Sox on the overhead TV screen.

The Logitech keyboard case I got bundled with the new iPad while I was up in New Hampshire has been super handy. Since I have Word on the iPad, I don't even bother dragging the MacBook Air with me around town now. The notebook is strictly a roadtrip productivity machine so that I can work on stuff in hotel rooms at gun school and such without dragging the beastly heavy Dell gaming laptop and its power brick (more like a power cinder block) along with me.

On the way home I spotted these beasties parked up in front of Moe & Johnny's, and so I crossed the street for a closer look.

Mmm-hmm. I could live with that Duc. I was sad I hadn't brought more camera; I just had the little Samsung TL350 with its twee little steam gauges in my shirt pocket. It acquitted itself okay, I guess.

The sidewalk in front of The Jazz Kitchen and a couple shops next to it was host to an outdoor jazz concert and al fresco dining.

I love my neighborhood!

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Out of Touch

I watched some of McCain's funeral service yesterday, and watched Meet the Press this morning. The latter could not stop talking about the former.

There were many commentators yesterday talking about how they hoped this was going to be some sort of bridge between the Left and the Right, and noting the bipartisan nature of the affair.

I had to laugh when I heard that, and rather thought Chuck had the right of it when he asked Senator Senator Sullivan (R-AK) if this hadn't been the funeral of bipartisanship itself. I guessed ahead of time what I was going to find when I went out and made my daily rounds of the net, and I wasn't wrong.

Sure, the Center Left and Center Right just made a big show of bemoaning the divisiveness of the current political scene, but out on the the internets both the Progressive Left and Reactionary Right were dancing jigs on his flag-draped coffin. Whether they called it the Establishment or the Swamp, they saw McCain as the problem.

The reactionary culture warriors? They only pine for the Good Ol' Days of white folk hat-tipping and ma'am-ing and sir-ing each other. They don't actually practice that "culture" stuff. They're too busy making frog may-mays.

To the progressive culture warriors, meanwhile, almost everyone deserves a safe space where they won't get triggered, but McCain just joined the least protected class of all: Dead White European Males. Apparently the grave's not even a safe space for those guys.

Saturday, September 01, 2018