Monday, January 21, 2019

Well, that was exciting...

I turned on the AFC Championship game at halftime yesterday, more out of curiosity than anything else. Mahomes had been so impressive against the Colts that I wanted to see how he'd do against our nemesis.

Ho-hum. Pats up 14-0. The Cinderella Chiefs and their rookie phenom were getting demolished by the Belichick Machine... and then came the second half, and specifically the fourth quarter, featuring something like four or five lead changes. That was some edge-of-the-seat football, and I'm not even much of a fan.
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Good shooters...

Whenever I post a target and mention that I wasn't happy with my performance, I get a bunch of people telling me that I shouldn't be so hard on myself, that it was *good enough*.

Good enough isn't good enough; I want to be better than good enough.

I doubt Lena Miculek goes to the range and thinks "Eh, that was good enough. I don't need to get better."
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Friday, January 18, 2019

Last night...


Fresh home from the vet, having been x-rayed, palpated, had blood and urine samples taken with needles, given subcutaneous fluids, and otherwise had her dignity disrespected, Miss Random Numbers J. Wu got home and hopped into Roberta's desk chair for a well-earned nap...

X-rays showed that she didn't have impacted stool, but she did have a hard, dried ball of poop she was probably having extreme difficulty with. Rehydration and stool softeners were indicated.

I don't look forward to being her age. I imagine I'll have the same method of dealing with doctor's visits:
"This isn't happening. This isn't happening. This isn't happening."

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Sick Kitty

Rannie, who turned seventeen in September, has been dealing with kidney issues that sometimes make it difficult for her to keep food down.

This morning she showed no interest in her breakfast and has been throwing up bile. Unsuccessful litter box attempts make us think it's an intestinal blockage. I'm taking her to the vet and hopefully it's something they can clear up with a kitty enema.


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Failure Mode

Way back when I was still working at the 1-hour photo lab, call it 1989 or 90, we carried a few of the usual cheap blister-pack point & shoot cameras, as well as some more expensive Kodaks and a few Olympus cameras.

The most expensive thing in our department was the Olympus IS-1. It was a single-lens reflex camera, but the 35-135mm power zoom lens was built-in and non-interchangeable. Olympus called it a "zoom lens reflex" and it was yet another attempt by a camera maker to solve the saturated market for SLRs in the last decade or so of the previous millennium. (Basically, everybody who wanted an SLR had one, and now they had to figure out a way to separate people who were scared of knobs and dials from their money.)

Anyhow, the IS-1 was pretty spendy, several hundred dollars, which was more than I'd given for the '75 Ford Granada I was driving at the time.

A few years ago, when I was in the throes of the film camera bug, I spotted one for sale on eBay for next to nothing, and bought it.

When it arrived, I put a piece of tape over the film window on the back (those are almost invariably a source of light leaks), tossed a roll of film in the camera and put it on the shelf, pulling it down every so often to shoot a couple of exposures.

The other day, with fresh snow on the ground, I figured it would be an excellent time to finish off the test roll and see what kind of pictures the camera took.

When I pulled it off the shelf, the flash was in the raised position. I pushed it down, but it wouldn't latch.

The camera rattled a little and so I turned it upside down, with a hand cupped under it to catch whatever fell out...


See that teeny black object atop the lens barrel? That's the hook portion of the latch that retains the flash in the lowered position. The external release is the button along the lower right edge of the photo.

Apparently, over time the constant strain of the spring that raises the flash combined with embrittlement of the latch's plastic until the catch finally failed, just sitting there on the shelf, allowing the flash to *sproing* into the raised position.

It's probably not fixable, and certainly not worth fixing. The time and effort spent trying to bodge a repair would be be more efficiently spent buying a ~$20 replacement camera. (Or not. Olympus glass or no, a 35-135mm f/4.5-5.6 lens just doesn't sound as exciting as it once did.)

I'll finish out the roll that's in it and likely bin the camera, while pondering the disposable nature of consumer commodity goods...
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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Scooters...

That's odd...

So, the decocker levers and spring for the CZ P07 arrived courtesy of a Facebook friend the other day and, in preparation for swapping them in, I watched the YouTube installation video a couple of times.

As a result, I had such a detailed and involved dream about the task last night (including some weird oopsies, like the hammer inexplicably falling out, which is an impossibility during the procedure) that when I woke up this morning I was disappointed to find out that I hadn't actually done the job yet.
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Automotif CXLXIX...

There's just something about a 911 Turbo, the daily-driver supercar...

The camera I happened to have in the car, an EOS 5D MkII & 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, was probably a bit overkill for parking lot snapshots, but the subject was worth it, I guess.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Pocket camera...

This morning when I went out to dig out Bobbi's car and shovel the neighbor's walks, I had the little Fuji XF1 in my coat pocket...


That's no fun.

Shoveled the neighbor's walks this morning. She was worried about the mailman or delivery people busting ass on her front walk or porch steps.

The snow had started out pretty heavy, and landing on warmish ground, plus the sidewalks had seen foot traffic yesterday, so there was a pretty good base layer of ice under the powder.

Fortunately the sun will be out today and, while we won't get above freezing, we'll likely see 28°F, so hopefully I exposed enough dark concrete for solar heating to do its work. I'll go check after lunch and see if it needs some salty assistance.
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The worst thing...

...about being mired in the middle of the Great American Kulturkampf of This Current Year, and having friends across all points of the political spectrum, is that everyone... and I do mean everyone ...feels free to walk up and dump their current political gripe right in your lap.
"Oh, my God! Can you believe what that [harpy/moron], [Pelosi/Trump] just did? [She/He] wants to [raise your taxes to 100% to send crackheads to college/kill all the brown people]!"
Because surely every right-thinking person is as worked into a total lather over this issue as they are.

Look, if you can't even talk about politics without sounding even more distraught than [Alex Jones/the average NPR call-in listener], it's time for a complete news fast. I prescribe three weeks without FaceTwitter, talk radio (either AM or NPR flavored), and TV news.

Unclench. The world won't stop spinning while you're gone.
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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Well, no sense putting it off longer...

I'mma finish a Mello Yello Zero and then suit up to shovel the walks.

After that, I'll toddle off to see what's open at 54th & College. Hopefully I'll be able to get ribs for lunch at Fat Dan's and then stop at Fresh Market on the way home and pick up stew fixings for dinner.

Last night we watched the third episode of Patriot, which is a fantastic show that Bobbi turned me on to.
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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Winter is Coming Here

Coming down at an inch an hour some places in the 'burbs, but the urban heat island seems to be mitigating it a bit here in Broad Ripple.
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Friday, January 11, 2019

Unsympathetic Magic

It's funny about the snow, because even before it was in the forecast, I'd been musing that a moderate snowfall... about 3", just enough to cover the grass properly ...would be nice. Not enough to really impede commutes and enough for me to wander around and get some photos.

So the initial prediction of 2"-4" made me happy, like it had been sent to order.

Ensuing predictions are getting less amusing.
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Squirrel!

Sony a7 II and an old Leica Vario-Elmar-R 75-200mm f/4.5 with a K&F adapter.
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Winter is Coming



We haven't really had much in the way of winter weather so far this season (over 9" short on seasonal snow totals), so Ma Nature looks like she's fixin' to make up for that.

The only upside to getting over five inches of snowfall at once is that it triggers the city into calling out the private contractors to plow the side streets. Anything less than that, and you're on your own to slither your way to the nearest thoroughfare.
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Thursday, January 10, 2019

An even Rebel-er Rebel...

When Canon introduced an inexpensive version of their EOS (Electro-Optical System) autofocus, auto-wind, auto-everything SLR cameras in North America back in 1990, they branded it the "Rebel" line. These are the ones that are marketed to Joe and Jane Consumer as a step up from point & shoot cameras.

Wonders are promised if you will just step up to the SLR, with pictures of mom snapping beautiful pics of dance recitals and dad catching dramatic shots of birthday candles being blown out. (Of course these are both super tricky lighting situations, and the slow zoom lens that ships with the Rebel kits is wholly incapable of achieving these results.)

In the early digital era came the first digital Rebel, notable for being the first DSLR with a price tag under a grand.

The Rebel had several cost-saving features, some more obvious than others, when compared to the contemporary semipro EOS 10D, which stickered for twice the dough. The body was plastic rather than magnesium, the LCD readout on the top was deleted, and the viewfinder used a pentamirror rather than a pentaprism.

Since then, the constant race between Canon and Nikon to get people into mass-market DSLRs has resulted in ever-increasing ways to de-content entry level models and drive the price through the floor.

The current bargain basement offering from Canon, sold as the 4000D overseas and referred to as the Rebel T100 in North America (where it's not officially available yet, so if you get one, it's gray market), takes the previous bargain-grade Rebel, and finds novel ways to cut production costs even further. The color LCD display on the back is shrunk from a 3" 640x480 to a 2.7" 320x240 unit, which is lower resolution than my Series 1 Apple Watch. The separate on-off switch is eliminated in favor of "OFF" just being another position on the mode dial.

The Near Field Connectivity that is common on current Canon DSLRs is also deleted, and a cost-cutting feature from the days of the old film Rebels makes its return: A plastic lens mount. It also uses an upgraded version of the old DIGIC 4 image processor, which was state of the art a decade ago, but hasn't been used in more expensive Canons for six or seven years.

One cost-saving measure I found interesting is the markings on the back of the camera. The more expensive 2000D has each button stenciled with its function, while on the 4000D, the buttons are all black and the back of the camera is stenciled in one pass.
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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Penetrating Facts


.45 Colt 250gr LFP
.45 Colt 225gr STHP
.44 Spl 200gr GDHP
.44 Spl 200gr LSWC-HP
.38 Spl 148gr Gold Medal Match HBWC
9mm 124gr +P GDHP

All were stopped by the first layer of denim on the far side of the block. All but one look like they could be reloaded.


Incidentally, I'm really falling out of love with the Federal .38 Spl +P 130gr HST...

There's a bunch more stuff, photos, thoughts, observations, and even discussion at my Patreon page. (As well there should be, since it was Patreon funds that paid for the jello.)
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Monday, January 07, 2019

Meet the Contenders...

So the auditions for the polymer-frame DA/SA carry gun project have started.

When DA/SA guns meant "frames machined from aluminum forgings" and striker guns meant "the well-amortized Gen3 Glock design" there were huge differences in cost and weight that weighed on the pistol-buying decision.

However a trip to Gunbroker today shows that whether your choice of pistol is a Gen4/5 Glock, a Smith & Wesson M&P9 2.0, or one of the polymer traditional double-action pistols below, the street price is going to be in a narrow band in the low-$500-to-low-$600 range.

Let's look at the contenders...

I'm not going to lie, this is the tournament's top seed going in. I already have over 2,000 rounds through it, have the grip panels set up the way I want, and it's fresh back from a spa visit getting upGrayded with a Reduced Reset Carry Perfection Package.

Further, I can't ignore the effect of all the times Todd told me that this was probably the best carry pistol on the market today. Its downsides are the cost of magazines and replacement parts should anything break. Its upside is that, while all four of these pistols are snowflake-y to a greater or lesser degree, the P30 probably has the best aftermarket support of them all.

Further, much to the chagrin of all those wannabe-ballers who bought a P30 to flex on the poors, HK's re-juggling of its MSRPs means that the current street price of a P30 is actually less that quite a few models in the Glock catalog.

Probably the number two choice is the PX4 Storm full-size. It has the highest capacity and an easy upgrade path via Langdon Tactical. If I add the low profile safety and slide stop levers and the "trigger job in a bag", I'll have the rough equivalent to the gun I loved so much at SHOT last year.

It's a little snowflake-y, but some of that is offset by the availability of holsters and such from Langdon.

Another upGrayded piece, this is my second run at an SP2022. This one has had trigger work at Grayguns, and I've had five years of trigger work on myself since then, so we'll see how this plays out.

Thanks to production being locked in by a huge foreign contract, this is probably the most thoroughly-debugged Sig in your local showcase right now. They may up and decide to outsource P-226 decocker levers to a soup can factory in Malaysia tomorrow to save .0004¢/gun, but they can't do that with the SP2022.

The dark horse: The P07 is unabashedly the snowflakiest gun here. There are good online sources like Cajun Gun Works and CZ Custom, but you're unlikely to find much in the way of holsters, magazines, or accessories at your local shop.

Its one advantage is that it's the most Glock 19 sized of the bunch, a fluke since the local gun store had a used P07 on the shelf and no used P09's when I was shopping.

The P07 has the "Omega" lockwork, which can easily be swapped between safety-only and decock-only. Someone had switched it to safety-only and I have parts on the way to switch it back.

So those are the contestants. Let the games begin!
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Automotif CXLXIII...

This murdered out restomod 1983 Buick Regal T-Type was in the lot at Fresh Market when Bobbi and I went grocery shopping yesterday afternoon. (My involuntary gasp as we rounded the corner caused Bobbi to mash the brake, thinking that I saw someone about to hit us. Mea culpa!)

There was a For Sale sign in the back window. I got the number in case anybody was wanting an Eighties retro traffic cop magnet.
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Friday, January 04, 2019

Unhappy New Year...

Sebastian's pretty dour regarding the RKBA prospects in the near future:
"I’ll offer some observations for 2019, because I think this is going to be a challenging year for us. In my mind gun people are suffering from a number of maladies..."
I don't disagree with him. You should RTWT.
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A new year brings a new blaster.

From December 2015 until the first day of January 2018, I was carrying Glocks. First a Gen3 19 that was pretty quickly supplanted by a Gen4 19, and that gun remained my carry gun until replaced by a 19X for the last few month or so.

The Year(ish) of TDA is finally off the ground, however, and I'm carrying the long-term test Langdon Tactical 92 Elite LTT until I determine my preference among the plastic fantastic below:

Off to the range this morning to get this party started...
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Wow.

The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there,” he said breaking with the stance taken by past U.S. administrations that the invasion was an illegitimate power play against a neighboring nation. “The problem is, it was a tough fight. And literally they went bankrupt; they went into being called Russia again, as opposed to the Soviet Union. You know, a lot of these places you’re reading about now are no longer part of Russia, because of Afghanistan.
That's, uh, that's not how that happened, there, Don. The communist government that had taken control of Afghanistan in a coup repeatedly invited the Soviets in to help them in a blossoming civil war. The Soviets kept refusing until the president, Taraki, was murdered and replaced by one of his cabinet ministers. Then Brezhnev launched the invasion.

Jesus, it's like the guy's knowledge of Afghanistan begins and ends with Rambo III. I do not envy Pompeo his job.
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Thursday, January 03, 2019

Well, crap...

It's below freezing outside and barely supposed to make 40°F out there today. Tomorrow afternoon is gonna be a lot better for outdoors jello shooting. (Worst case scenario, I pester IAC to let me stay a little after closing on the weekend.)
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Going the distance (for a given value of distance.)

The U.S. military has a gun cleaning fetish that is a holdover from the days of corrosive primers (and black powder before that.) Boiling water cleaning and "white glove" intolerance for carbon have probably resulted in more guns being cleaned to death than shot to death.

In reality, most modern firearms just need lubricant, and even that's to a varying degree. Current polymer-framed guns like the Glock, where the "frame rails" are tiny little tabs with hardly any bearing surface that mostly exist to keep the slide flying in close formation with the frame, are tolerant of running pretty dry.

Occasional attempts to dispel these myths, like Uncle Pat's efforts with Filthy 14, manage to change a few minds, but the culture of squeaky clean remains well-entrenched.

Me running Filthy 14 in a class in '15, photo by Pat Rogers
I mean, you want to go into game day with a gun that's going to run, which means well-lubed and not terribly caked with residue.

Thus comes the widely misunderstood "2,000 Round Challenge" started by Todd Green. When logging in the results with the Ruger at pistol-forum, I read back a few pages and found this laugher:
"This is like driving your car 50,000 miles without any maintenance just to see if it would operate without maintenance. At the least you'll cause accelerated wear due to dirt and grime buildup."
This shows a stunning lack of the realities of lubricant, pistol wear & tear, the actual life expectancy of a modern quality firearm, how often people who shoot a lot actually shoot, and a host of other factors. This is unsurprising when you realize that the average pistol gets a box of ammo fired through it and then gets thrown in the safe until it's traded in on the next shiny thing on the cover of G&A.

The origins of the 2k challenge came about way back when Todd was still doing his year-long, high-round-count tests. When you're at the range every day (or even every other day) chewing through rounds, you'd spend as much time cleaning as you did shooting if you adhered to the traditional white glove standard, and Todd was known for his lackadaisical cleaning habits on these guns, which he carried.

In response, he pointed out that...
"It's really pretty arbitrary. The Challenge was begun after so many people balked at my, shall we say, "less stringent" maintenance habits. In my experience, just about any serious modern handgun, using something like Miltec, should be able to reach 2k without cleaning, without needing more lube, and without stoppages. 
The thing many people "forget" is that the 2,000 Round Challenge included absolutely no adding lubrication to the gun during the whole 2,000 round cycle. You clean & lube before you start, and then do nothing but shoot the gun until you hit 2,000. If you add some oil or grease during the 2,000 rounds, it's disqualified."
And he's absolutely right, as has been proven on these pages over and over again. (To say nothing of the results dozens of people have logged at pistol-forum.)

Commander Zero sussed this out and noted it in a post at his blog:
"As I was looking through her blog at all the other 2,000-rd tests one thing becomes clear: virtually any handgun from a reputable large manufacturer, using quality ammo, is darn near 100% reliable. Many of the failures that do occur in the tests that she writes about involve Wolf ammo, or bargain ammo of questionable pedigree. Not all, but enough to let me form an opinion about the ammo. The point being that if you buy a new, modern manufactured handgun in 9mm (that isn’t a Remington R51) and feed it quality (not high grade, just ‘quality’) ammo, you will probably achieve monotonous reliability."
With quality modern pistol and factory magazines, the "2,000 Round Challenge" is a test of lubricant and ammo more than anything else. If you've got visible lube weeping from the rails, you're probably still good to go. The idea that two cases of ammo dramatically accelerates wear on a pistol that should be good for, at a minimum, fifty or sixty cases of ammo (and which .0001 percent of users will ever see) is hilarious.

And even if it did, allow me to quote member JAD at p-f:
"Oh no. I would hate to wear out a gun."

It is finished...

Pistol: Ruger P-89
Caliber: 9x19mm
Ammunition: 800 rounds of MagTech 124gr FMJ, 550 124gr Blazer Brass FMJ, assorted other FML to include Remington, Federal, Sig Elite, S&B. Also some Sig V-Crown
Dates of testing: 13 November 2018 - 2 January 2019
Total rounds fired: 2000
Stoppages: 0
Malfunctions: 0
Breakages: 0

Comments: Lubed with FP-10 before starting. Visible FP-10 still weeping from rails today. Awkward to shoot. Crazy reach to trigger for DA first shot. Vague single-action trigger. Massive slide reciprocating that far above where your grip stops on the light aluminum frame makes it like shooting a Shake Weight. Vague sights, with a tiny front that dirtied fast.

Initial range trips produced laughable attempts at "speed"...

Three and four round strings struggling to dip much below .5 splits and spraying bullets everywhere...

Two months later, big goofy mag dumps dipping into the low .3 range show that, even with a difficult pistol to shoot well, one of the easiest performance modifications is two cases of ammo...



Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Danger Signals

Here's a bump for a fantastic piece Kathy Jackson wrote a while back that lays out a pretty good toolkit for identifying dangerous products in the CCW firearms industry.

Number seven on her checklist is one of my personal top "DANGER WILL ROBINSON" red flags:
"If the company founder begins their pitch by explaining that they designed the product just a few weeks after they bought their first firearm because they “couldn’t find any other way” to carry the gun, they might be a nice person – but they didn’t know what they were doing when they designed that product. Be extremely cautious and skeptical of this purchase, and be at least three times more cautious than that if you yourself just began carrying a gun."
Go and read the whole piece. It's not terribly long, but has an excellent industry insider viewpoint.

Plans afoot!

Just got some Clear Ballistics gel blocks in. While I have other plans for two of them, tomorrow is supposed to be a nice day for a range trip, and so I'm probably going to try something out...

I haven't shipped the Charter Arms Bulldog XL back yet, and so I'm going to take it, my 296, and maybe my 629, along with a 2" .38 Special and my 9mm CCW gun and shoot some jello for shade-tree science.

I have some of the popular self-defense loads for each and, while I'm pretty sure of the results, it'll be fun to get some photos. Hypothesis: I'd probably rather use 9mm 124gr +P Gold Dots than, say .45 Colt 225gr Silvertips or .44 Spl 200gr LSWC. See, while the popular self defense loads for these things are heavy, they're also slow and lack sectional density. (Fortunately they don't often expand through heavy clothing, because if they do, it robs them of what penetration they do have.)


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Tuesday, January 01, 2019

"$5 says that's not an AOW..."

Apocalypse Now!

Helping a friend...

A friend of mine lost his brother over the holidays. His brother, a decorated USMC scout sniper veteran of Fallujah, left behind a wife and child. They're in agriculture in Wyoming and funds are tight at the best of times, so my friend has started a GoFundMe to help them out. You can donate here: Link. Thanks for anything you can do.
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2019





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Happy New Year!

Another year to get better at stuff than you were last year!
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