Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Monday, April 29, 2019

Overheard in Indianapolis, 2019...

The bicycle cab stopped briefly beside us on the sidewalk, until the synthesized voice from the traffic signal said "WALK NOW. WALK NOW. WALK NOW..."

I said to Bobbi "It's 2019."

She replied "If only it were raining."

Friday, April 26, 2019

Sitting on my hands...

The urge to go type "WE'RE WATCHING" on dude's laptop was nearly overpowering.

Art About Town

If you're in town for the NRA Annual Meeting and dig murals, Indy Arts Guide has compiled a guide to the various murals visible around town.

"My Affair With Kurt Vonnegut"
345 Mass Ave., Indianapolis, IN, 46204
Canon EOS M, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6

I love the quote on the page for the mural above:
“All my jokes are Indianapolis. All my attitudes are Indianapolis. If I ever severed myself from Indianapolis, I would be out of business. What people like about me is Indianapolis.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., 1986.


Hagfish slime is weird stuff:
"Indeed, it’s one of the softest materials ever measured. “Jell-O is between 10,000 and 100,000 times stiffer than hagfish slime,” says Randy Ewoldt from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who had to invent new methods for assessing the substance’s properties after conventional instruments failed to cope with its nature. “When you see it in a bucket, it almost still looks like water. Only when you stick your hand in and pick it up do you find that it’s a coherent thing.”"
But it turns out that hagfish themselves are pretty weird, if you read the whole article.

Let's just say that lying in corpses, absorbing nutrients through your skin (because it's more efficient at doing so than your gut) is no way to go through life, son. But it works for the hagfish, apparently.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Rainy Wednesday

Wednesday morning, after my visit to Indy Arms Co, I headed downtown to pick up some processed film at Roberts Camera.

My order wasn't supposed to be ready until noon, so I figured I'd grab a little lunch on the way down. I stopped at Goose the Market, but the little enoteca in the basement didn't start serving until noon. Down to Mass Ave it was, then. After orbiting the block twice trying to find a parking spot close to The Eagle, I gave up and parked a block north and walked down.

I passed the same homeless dude sitting on the sidewalk near Bru Burger that Bobbi and I had encountered on Saturday. This time he had his cat out of its carrier and napping in his lap. He greeted me as I walked past...

The wait at The Eagle was going to be fifteen minutes, and so I jogged across the street to Louie's Wine Dive instead. When I left the restaurant, it had started to rain and, walking back to the car, dude was still sitting out there with his cat.

As I got back to my car, I made a snap decision and circled the block to the Marathon on the corner of Alabama & Michigan, where I hit the ATM for a twenty. I bought a can of cat food and put it and a five in the bag, then I headed back toward the car, making a stop along the way...

"Hey, what's your friend's name?"

"Her name is Princess."

"I got something for you guys. Mind if I take her picture?"

"Thank you. Say hello, Princess."

QotD: Don't Be A Dick Edition...

"Look, this is the United States of America, where you can peacefully protest any darned thing you want and just as peacefully cheer it on, and when either happens, it's better to look at the issues and the optics than impugn the character and/or the intelligence of the people waving signs."-Bobbi

I can't give up the struggle.

Listening with half an ear to Mary Lou Retton's daughter on the TV in the other room, as she talks about the time in her life when she acknowledged the "enormity" of what her mother did.

I understand that the course of language has shifted in its banks and the meaning of the word is effectively different now, but pedants like me have to sit and wonder for a moment what monstrous evil the spunky medalist had performed.

Strange Times, Stranger Bedfellows

Let's go over some of the greatest hits of former congresswoman Cynthia "Slugger" McKinney (Crazy-GA):
For whatever reason, she'd fallen largely off my personal lolcow radar for a while, but she popped up out of the ground clutter again by, of all things, being a guest on an internet nazi podcast (cue Jake: "I hate internet nazis.") Because if there's one thing that the kookiest fringes of the Left and Right can agree on, it's the jooooooz.

Or, as I wrote in 2008:
The world of the conspiranoiac is a fascinating one, and it proves that the space-time continuum curves back on itself. Head way on out there to the right, on out past Fred, out even past Alex Jones, and you suddenly find yourself in the middle of Rage Against The Machine fans, looking at Cynthia McKinney from the other side.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


While I was picking up film at the downtown Roberts on Saturday, I asked if they had any inexpensive used telephoto zooms in stock that would work on my later Nikon film bodies. The princely sum of $64 netted a 70-300mm f/4-5.6G that would function fine on the N80 and F5*.

Sunday afternoon, on a whim, I noticed that my old Nikon D1X had a pretty good charge on it, so I dragged my Coleman camp chair into the back yard with a tasty beverage and the new-to-me zoom lens mounted. With the D1X's crop sensor giving the lens an effective focal length of 450mm, you could get right up in Mr. Squirrel's grille...

When I sold off the Nikon D200, I had thought that was pretty much it for me and Nikon DSLRs (I still prefer Nikons for film) but I couldn't bear to part with that tank of a D1. Besides, its trade-in value is effectively nil these days...

*The G-series lenses by Nikon lack a manual aperture ring. This means that if used on an older autofocus film body that lacks a command dial, it will only function wide-open. The N80 and F5 both have dials on the body for controlling aperture like a modern Nikon DSLR. (Or, more accurately, modern Nikon DSLRs have a command dial for controlling aperture like an F5.)

Monday, April 22, 2019

Now do it with one hand behind your back!

Remember this when people talk about how important those tests are.

We had a customer who frequented the shops I worked at in Tennessee who had passed his HCP shooting qual and he was blind. And by "blind", I don't mean that he couldn't see so well without his glasses, I mean dog-and-cane blind.

But you know what? He's got civil rights just like someone with 20/20 vision.

Poor Gremlin!

Leica Fable

Oh my lolz.

So, Leica's ad agency in Brazil made a short video commercial touting Leica's past (its *distant* past) as the photojournalist's camera of choice*.

Said commercial featured photogs running around in sweaty Banana Republic safari apparel, snapping those Decisive Moment shots. The final scene has a photojournalist poking the lens of his Leica R6 at a gap in some hotel room drapes in 1989 Beijing, and the camera zooms in to show the famous Tank Man photo reflected in the business end of his Vario-Elmar.

There may be problems linking the video, because Leica pulled it when the Chinese government flipped its $#!+ and blocked everyone in China** from even being able to use the search term "Leica" on their side of the Great Firewall. I guess that cut into the sales of Safari Edition M10 cameras and Noctilux lenses to well-heeled would-be street photographers in Shanghai. It was downloaded and re-uploaded a couple of places, though.

The irony, here? Pretty much every Tank Man pic you're familiar with was shot on one variant or another of Nikon.

*Leica hasn't been relevant as a camera brand for working photojournalists since probably the mid '70s at the latest. Nikon's F-series SLRs more or less completely supplanted them in the latter decades of the last millennium, and Canon owns that market currently. I've joked at SHOT Show that if you see someone shooting with a Nikon or Canon DSLR, they're working press shooting stills. If they're shooting a Sony or Panasonic mirrorless, they're working press shooting video. If they're using a smartphone, they're a YouTube channel or Instagram influencer. If they're shooting a Leica? They're an orthodontist whose buddy has an FFL and got them a badge.

** Interestingly, out on this side of the Great Firewall, there are a number of comments from folks claiming to be patriotic Chinese who are incensed at Leica for glorifying those CIA-promoted terrorists at Tiananmen Square.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Poor Reasoning

"That's different! Seatbelts are for saving people and guns are for shooting people!"

"That's presuming that there's never anyone who needs to be shot."

Eternal Darnation

Saturday, April 20, 2019


Long night last night. Didn't switch to decaf until late and didn't take any melatonin. Went to bed at 11:00 and fell asleep fine, but sprang wide awake at 2AM and couldn't get back to sleep.

I just stayed curled up in bed and finished reading Cocktails From Hell. Good book. I'll try to remember to write a review this week.

Finally dozed back off sometime just before 5 o'clock and back up at seven. This will not do.

Friday, April 19, 2019


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Circular Feline

I LOL'ed and LOL'ed...

...because it's true.

Interesting factoid...

"At the base of the spire was a group of statues: the twelve Apostles, in four groups of three, each group preceded by one the animals symbolizing the four evangelists, and all of them -- all but one -- facing out towards Paris. The lone exception? St. Thomas, patron saint of architects."
Click on the link for the rest of the fascinating story!


So, it had been a while since I'd shot a timed FAST in a class environment. Way back in late 2015, as a matter of fact, in a Langdon class, I shot a 7.62 raw time with the M&P I was carrying at the time. A dropped shot on the 3x5 card made it a 9.62, which still squeaked into "Intermediate".

Since then, I had switched to the Glock 19 for carry and gotten to the point where I was pretty comfortable turning in clean mid-to-high sevens, at least by myself or with a friend or two on the range, but performance kinda languished there. I knew what work it would take to get past that, but really couldn't be arsed to do it.

This year I'm trying something different. I want to get good with a DA trigger on that first shot, and so that's what I'm working on. I'm still not to the point that it doesn't eat my lunch on that first shot on a timer, but I was encouraged that I shot my best FAST in a class environment a couple weekends ago with the Langdon Beretta in Murphy's class out in Terre Haute. After an abortion of a first run where both the draw and the reload began with me grabbing big handfuls of my gun burkha, my second run was an 8.10 clean, with really pretty shots on the 3x5, to boot.

Hey, look!

"Other than the mildewed-sweat-socks-soaked-in-ammonia aroma given off by the Russkie powder and primers, the test continued exactly as before. The Smith & Wesson Model 5906 didn’t seem to care about the ammunition change and kept chugging away."
The 5906 writeup! Go check it out!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Automotif CXLXXII...

This 1960 T-bird seems to have been spruced up a bit since last I saw it. A new top and rear window at the least. Maybe a paint job?

Black & White is Photography's Mother Tongue

A post shared by Tamara Keel (@tamarakeel) on

There's just something about the way the Agfapan 25 handled the textures and shadows in this picture that I really love...

Celluloid Swords Into Archaeological Plowshares

Declassified hi-res photo negatives from Lockheed U-2 spy plane flights from the '50s and '60s are helping map out early civilization...
"Interesting archaeological features captured in the images included a canal irrigation system in Northern Iraq and prehistoric stone-wall hunting traps called desert kites, which were used to trap animals like gazelle over 5,000 years ago. The kites were preserved for a very long time because of the dry desert environment, but as modern agriculture expanded into the region, the kites were destroyed. The old U2 plane images captured many when they were still intact, giving Hammer and Ur an excellent birds-eye view of an ancient hunting tool."
The photos of the desert kites, stretching like a comb...or a landlocked drift net...across the xeric landscape, are fascinating. That speaks to a bunch of cooperation before widespread domestication, ranching, and farming.

QotD: Just What I Choose It To Mean Edition...

From Gun Culture 2.0:
"Militarized handgun, like assault weapon, is an elastic concept which can be stretched to encompass all sorts of guns. Which is perhaps the point."
Given the stated goals of the term's originator, I'd say that's exactly the intent.

Remember that GCA's "sporting purposes" clause barred the importation of military surplus bolt-action rifles and double-action revolvers for years, and they only get in now under a C&R exemption.

Tool Fixated

When rolling around in a force-on-force scuffle in a class like ECQC, you can sometimes see people get "tool fixated". You will see, for instance, someone get completely fixated on the task of clearing a malfunction in a Simunitions Glock that choked when they tried firing it with the other person's hand around the slide, or perhaps obsessively trying to wrench a Sims gun away from their opponent.

While they're doing this, they lose awareness of the entirety of the situation and their opponent is now repeatedly "stabbing" them with a training knife, like a monkey with a screwdriver.

The same can happen on a macro level:
If you focus on the weapon, you can miss everything else. Addo told me that knives were involved in only about twenty per cent of the cases he sees at Homerton. “We see all manner of mundane instruments used as weapons, from bricks on the street to poles to bottles in clubs. We have become fixated on knives, but it’s violence,” he said. “It is the desperation that causes you to weaponize anything around you.”
It’s almost like the ability to use our hands to pick something up and use it as an improvised weapon is a defining characteristic of humanity.

To quote a David Drake character from Patriots: "Don't you never hit a man with your bare hand unless your feet are nailed to the floor of an empty room."

Monday, April 15, 2019


"Republican Party politicians and consultants want their voters to think that there is a mob of Ivy League professors, DC economists, Wall Street traders and Hollywood producers waiting outside Cracker Barrel at 2 am to punch small town conservative Christian American in the face and knock all the jobs out of them."
Mencken wept, somewhere in the back row of a chautauqua in the Sahara of the Bozart.

In response to a Facebook friend's statement that "douche troll vs. triggerd snowflake is our current version of Buckley vs. Vidal", Bobbi quipped "Short bus to short bus in two generations."

Smith M&P 48...

If there's a segment of the handgun market with more ferocious competition right now than the subcompact skinny 9mm segment, I don't know what it is.

In apparent response to the Glock 48, now S&W has a 4" version of the Shield, which is apparently available in plain vanilla, as well as versions with a Brand X red dot, and with the red dot and barrel porting.

Not a huge fan of porting anymore, as it doesn't provide anywhere near the recoil reduction of a true expansion chamber comp, while being a lot more likely to shave jacket material and pepper the shooter with ejecta while shooting from retention. I'm also curious about the footprint of the MRDS the slide is machined to accept. The industry needs to standardize on a footprint, probably that of the Trij RMR.

Captain Sunshine

Apparently, if you enjoyed Rust Cohle's nihilism in the first season of True Detective, you can go get it straight from the source: The Conspiracy Against the Human Race.

I discovered that here.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Too cool!

Less muss & fuss than my black powder keychain cannon, albeit without the satisfaction of actual gunpowder smoke.

Friday, April 12, 2019

The tail end of winter...

EOS Elan II, Fujicolor 400
I shot this one walking home from lunch a few weeks ago, on the same walk where I snapped this photo of our neighborhood dinosaur...


Recently I scored a Canon EOS Elan II body from KEH for, like, $29 during one or another of their recent sales. This was Canon's "prosumer" film body from '95 until it was superseded by the Elan 7 in last half of 2000.

Since they still sell Fujicolor 400 at the local Meijer, as well as CVS & Wallgreens, that's what I use for testing cameras for light-tightness.

I just got the photos back from Roberts yesterday. I'd say the camera still works great!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Strong Side vs. Other Strong Side OC Carry

In the photo above, you'll notice that the shooter still has the OC canister in her support hand. Thanks to our arboreal antecedents, one of the things we do when we're startled is grab on to things really tightly. (Tree-dwelling critters who let go of things when startled tend to plummet to their deaths before they can have many offspring.)

In her case, she'd verbally engaged the moving target, which kept coming at her. She sprayed it with (inert) OC, and when that didn't work, she drew and fired, still with the OC compromising her grip.

 Dude here is fixin' to have the exact same thing happen to him.

The different-colored lasers from the SIRT guns are being used, along with dialogue, to indicate whether the target is hostile or not. 
She had the presence of mind to dump the pepper spray when she went to guns, but she's the exception that proves the rule.

Now, an argument can be made that when you jettison the pepper spray, you're leaving a potential weapon on the field for your attacker to pick up and use against you, and it would be better to retain it and shoot one-handed (and if your assailant is close enough to spray, he's close enough to shoot strong-hand-only.) Personally, if dude wants to bend over to try and retrieve it while I'm busy shooting him, that's okay with me.

For myself, I keep my flashlight in my left pocket and my pepper spray in my right pocket for three reasons:
  1. I know I'm going to drop the spray when going for my gun, because my gun hand has been given an overlearned task to perform that supersedes the reflexive "Hold tight!" response.

  2. I carry a stream-type OC dispenser, and I'm going to be more accurate using my shooting hand if I have to spray some dude.

  3. My light is in my support hand pocket. I can see situations where I may need to light and spray simultaneously, and I can see situations where I might need to light and shoot simultaneously, but I can't envision a ton of situations where I need to spray and shoot simultaneously.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

The Day Our Planet Took A Bullet

The Tanis site, in short, did not span the first day of the impact: it probably recorded the first hour or so. This fact, if true, renders the site even more fabulous than previously thought. It is almost beyond credibility that a precise geological transcript of the most important sixty minutes of Earth’s history could still exist millions of years later—a sort of high-speed, high-resolution video of the event recorded in fine layers of stone. DePalma said, “It’s like finding the Holy Grail clutched in the bony fingers of Jimmy Hoffa, sitting on top of the Lost Ark.” If Tanis had been closer to or farther from the impact point, this beautiful coincidence of timing could not have happened. “There’s nothing in the world that’s ever been seen like this,” Richards told me.
It's a fascinating article.

Sleep for Safety

Class this weekend was in Terre Haute, which is barely over an hour away. I took MAG-40 at Sand Burr Gun Ranch up in Rochester, which is about an hour and a half's worth of driving.

I know there are people who will commute those kinds of distances, but I'm a big fan of getting a hotel room close to the range.

I do this for two different safety-oriented reasons:

First, I'd like to point out that statistically speaking, the most dangerous firearms related activity any of us do is driving to and from the range. I'd like to do as little of that driving either half-awake in the morning, barely caffeinated, or hanging on my chin strap with exhaustion after two to four days on the range.

Secondly, a reasonably intensive pistol class is a massive window of opportunity for an accident to happen, simply because you are in and out of a holster so many times with a loaded handgun. If I can help my concentration by being rested and alert by getting that extra hour's sleep in a nearby motel room rather than driving, I will take that.

Pat Rogers once pointed out to me that the HIX is rarely in the worst part of town, and I've been an assiduous collector of IHG points since then.

(One habit I used to have that I need to get back into was that when staying in motels on the road, I'd only use the elevator to get my gear to and from the room for check-in and check-out, and take the stairs for everything else.)

Friday, April 05, 2019


I keep hearing "When you make a sandwich with Smucker's and Jif" as "When you make a sandwich with Smucker's and gin" and I think "Yeah, I've had days like that."

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

The First-Worldest Problems

Bobbi's working the weird shift this week, which generally means we eat lunch together, but then she goes to bed and I shift for myself for dinner.

Having put on pounds again during The Year Without A Summer, I'm back to watching carbs and tracking calories and stuff like that. Also, I've generally stopped drinking for a bit, since there are low-carb ways to drink, but those are all super calorie dense.

(Another change this triggered is going to caffeine-free sodas after about 6PM and some melatonin right before bed.)

Anyway, last night after the cats got their 6PM feeding I toddled over to Fresh Market on foot for some nigiri and those tasty coconut snacks. It had gotten warm enough that I was a little leery of walking home with the nigiri, but I figured I'd just buy an Amy's cheese enchilada frozen dinner and toss that in the bag to keep the fish cold for the eight-minute walk home.

Fortunately, I didn't have to worry about that, since the sushi counter was all out of nigiri, and they were sold out of both the coconut snacks and the Amy's cheese enchiladas.

"Jesus, I live in a food desert!" I muttered, as I bought some manchego cheese and a bag of organic sprouted pizza flavor almonds as a consolation prize and trudged home.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Bipartisan Do-Goodership

Driving to Kinko's, or FedEx/Kinko's, or FedEx Office, or whatever they're calling themselves this week, I was listening to 1A on the local NPR station. During the first half (about the impact of flooding in the Midwest), they played a blurb pimping the second half of the show, which was going to be about the impact of legalized sports gambling.

They played a sound bite from one of the show's guests, saying "If you legalize it, you might as well legalize cocaine or methamphetamine," causing me to yell "or cigarettes, or alcohol, or video games!" at the radio.

Seemingly this is something that the Puritan Right and the Uplifter Left can agree on. However, just because something can be addictive is not sufficient reason to arrest people for doing it.

Monday, April 01, 2019

The next 2,000 round test gun!

The Steyr Pieper 1908 in 6.35mm Browning! Tip-up barrel for easy chamber checks! (A good thing, since there's no extractor.) The barrel and front sight are fixed in place while the separate breechblock reciprocates!

Passive noise cancellation?

A hollow tube textured to prevent sound waves from passing through it.

Imagine a wall made up of these stacked donuts. You can see through them, but you can't make out conversations happening on the other side.

Imagine what this could do for suppressors!


The bird feeder in the back yard has squirrels scavenging under it for dropped seeds nearly constantly now.

In other news, while I thought I'd gotten all snug in my Full-Frame snobbery, the old crop sensor EOS 7D body has kinda grown on me, partially for the focal length bump it gives the 24-105mm f/4L IS lens.

I've been madly catching up on deadlines. I'll probably wind up submitting over 6,000 words this week, which is a lot for me. I'm used to knocking off a few paragraphs at a time.