Sunday, July 12, 2020

Failure Mode

Locally, here in Eastern Daylight Time, the broadcast network Sunday morning political talking head shows run more or less consecutively.

First is ABC's This Week With George Stephanopoulos at nine, then switch over to NBC for Meet the Press, and then finally cut over to the CBS affiliate at eleven for the last half hour of Face the Nation.

So, this morning the schedule for This Week is pretty typical. Several different interviews make up the first part of the show, then there's a brief data-oriented segment with Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com (apparently added to This Week after ABC bought FiveThirtyEight from ESPN, its crunchy data & graphics an obvious response to the "Data Download" segment Chuck Todd added to MTP after he took over as host.) The final segment of the show is a panel discussion, with four guests and Stephanopoulos.

Today, as they were coming off the commercial break after the FiveThirtyEight segment and into the panel, there was a distinct absence of audio...not even background noise...and George was staring off into the distance.

He fidgeted a bit in dead silence.

"Oh, $#!+," I blurted aloud, "He doesn't know he's on the air!"

Bobbi heard me and hurried into the room.

"Dude, you're on the air," I said again, as though the guy in the TV could hear me, "Don't pick your nose. You're on the air." Thankfully he didn't pick his nose.

Stephanopoulos started looking around more quizzically, then came the sound of audio as his mic was cut on. He blinked into the camera, read off the guest list for the panel somewhat haltingly, then looked off-camera before intoning "We have a technical problem. Sorry, we're going to go to break."

It was 9:39AM.

ABC started showing PSA-type commercials...Red Cross, FEMA disaster preparedness, foster parenting orgs, Foundation for a Better Life "Pass It On" ads...and then it showed them again. And again. And again.

Whatever was dicked up at the studios in Washington must have been bad, because the situation dragged on for five minutes...ten...a dozen...and then suddenly we were seeing local commercials and it was eleven o'clock and This Week's time slot was over without them recovering. The local affiliate went to their own programming and I cut over to NBC for Meet the Press.

With everyone working remotely, there was probably nobody in the studio where ABC was filming other than George and a director, maybe a couple other people. I doubt there was even a live camera person. With production and engineering and everyone working remotely, whatever happened borked the entire back half of the show.

If everyone's working remotely and the problem is one involving phone lines or internet access at the studios, that's gotta be catastrophic.
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Saturday, July 11, 2020

Also Elsewhere...

Detailed progress reports continue on the FN 509 Compact MRDS at the Patreon page.

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Elsewhere...

Been excavating an old blog this morning.
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Friday, July 10, 2020

Pew! Pew! Pew!


Made it to the range again this morning to continue the FN 509 Compact MRD test...
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Something for everyone...

It's an Eighties retro show that's kinda horror, kinda Sci-Fi, kinda high-tech espionage thriller...

Bobbi and I just finished up watching the first season of Stranger Things last night. To commemorate things, I got her a tee shirt that seemed very Bobbi.

This was good TV. Now I see what the fuss was about.
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Automotif CLXXI...

So, here's that photo from the other day of the 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham shot with the Nikon D700. It was shot in RAW, 1/320th @ f/9, ISO 200, using the 24-85mm f/2.8-4D, and just run through a quick automated processing in photoshop, with a light crop and straightening.


And here's the same Cutlass shot with the F5 on Kodak Ektar 100, in Program Mode, using the old 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6D "Streetsweeper".


That's the uncorrected negative scan. I haven't messed with it in P-shop yet. I have no clue what shutter speed and aperture the camera chose because I didn't pull out a notebook and write it down. The F5 was sophisticated enough to record that data...in fact, it did record that data...but retrieving it probably involves RS232 cables or some piece of software that will only run in Windows 95 or something, and I can't be arsed.
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Thursday, July 09, 2020

Speaking of bicycles...

...there are links here to a bunch of made-in-the-USA bike brands.

Most of them are pretty boutique, but there are some interesting finds in there. Many are projecting wait times of up to thirty days on new builds, so business is brisk.
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That's just my flavor of weird...



I'm pretty jaded about gun stuff these days, but this has managed to bend the needle on my novelty meter.

There's a detailed writeup over at TFB explaining the construction of the gizmo, if you prefer text to video.

Of course that gets me to wondering how hard the mechanism would be to translate to one of the semiauto Ruger 44 carbines...
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Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Original Gangsta

Others have noticed, too.

I turns out that Borepatch's co-blogger, ASM826, has been commenting on the bicycle shortage and the offshoring of the old Schwinn brand.

(At least the Schwinn label is still being applied to bicycles, and not Home Depot checkout lane impulse buy garbage the way other hollowed-out old American brand names, like Bell + Howell or RCA, have been.)
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It's alive!

There's a cliche'd little slogan that you can get on the Etsy-tier kitsch that's constantly hawked in the target-marketed background hum of social media:


Which, I'll confess, makes me not much of a photographer. Most of my life is spent in Program mode with occasional forays into Aperture Priority when I need to force more subject separation than the camera's likely to give me without prodding.

So the old Leica IIIb proved something of a challenge, since there was none of that to be found.


Well, I was shooting my test roll on a bright July day without many clouds in the sky, so the Sunny 16 rule proved handy.

"Let's see... Drug store Fujicolor 400 and f/16, so... 1/500th and pray..." I was hoping that if I'd made an error, the broad exposure latitude of modern C41 process color film would bail me out.

It turns out that I needn't have worried...

Baby robin couldn't quite fly yet, not for more than short hops staying in ground effect.



I just kind of free-handed this one out the passenger side of the Zed Drei on the way to the camera store.
Taking photos with an eighty year old camera is pretty cool. Now I'm perusing FleaBay for screw-mount glass...
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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Everything's Turning Into Tulip Bulbs

First it was hand sanitizer, bleach, cleaning supplies and toilet paper. (And that's not entirely over; good paper towels are still hard to come by.)

Then it was flour and baking powder as everyone decided to try home baking.

Of course guns and ammo have been in short supply since the start of the 'Rona, and that situation is unlikely to resolve itself in time for the now-traditional quadrennial Great American Election Year Panic-Buying Freakout.

Bicycles were a shortage I hadn't foreseen, but should have. With cycling being an excuse for getting out of the house, bike sales skyrocketed. With the supply chain for big bike makers like Trek and Giant going straight to China, it didn't take long for on-hand inventory at most bike shops to dry up. Apparently you can't buy a cheap bike right now for love nor money in a lot of places. A good used bike right now is worth its weight in Charmin.

Most bike shops are apparently running long backlogs for repairs & service, too, as people dusted off disused bikes and needed leaky inner tubes replaced and crusty derailleurs adjusted.

The other day I decided to venture into Meijer to restock seed & suet cakes for the feeders in the back yard, only to find the birdseed shelves looking as picked over as the ammo counters at the local gun shop. Because apparently birdwatching is the new hotness.



WTF?
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Sunday, July 05, 2020

Testing, Testing...

Sleepy Holden
Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro, Nikon 50mm f/1.4D

Trying out a new-but-old camera on a favorite test subject today, I thought the photo looked familiar for some reason.

I realized that it's because it rhymes, sort of, with one that Oleg took of Mittens so many years ago. They could almost be bookends.


Mittens would have loved Holden, because Mittens loved everyone. As long as Holden wasn't too rambunctious with her, that is...and with Holden, that's a pretty big "if".

It's hard to believe she's been gone almost a dozen years now...
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Recipe-esque...

Bobbi has the details of Independence Day's delicious pork roast & veggies dinner here at Roseholme Cottage up on her blog, with step-by-step photos.

It's not a recipe, per se, but it's close enough for government work...


Trolled Again


Look at the background of the header photo! The only way this could be more obvious would be if his Twitter handle were "@lololitrollboomers".

But that didn't stop the usual suspects from falling for it with the charmingly adorable, repeated gullibility of Charlie Brown going after that placekick.
One post showed a poster that advertised a flag-burning, complete with Antifa members doing face painting, of all things. Another post suggested that 30,000 members of Antifa were planning to invade Gettysburg and its suburbs to kill white people and Trump supporters. That post also suggested that Antifa members had been setting off fireworks for weeks leading up to the holiday to inure people to the sound of gunfire so they wouldn’t call the police when Antifa began executing white people.

Both things turned out to be, as the president of the United States would say, fake news.

[snip]

Among them was a guy named Nathan who made the nearly seven-hour drive to Gettysburg from Cuyahoga County in Ohio with three of his buddies to protect the Confederate monument from attack by protesters. He didn’t want to give his last name because his wife was angry with him for spending the holiday in Gettysburg rather than with his family.
At least nobody shot themselves this time.

There's a good story at the WaPo, who quickly realized that the originator of the "LeftBehindUSA" Facebook page was faker than pro wrestling, but it's behind their paywall.

It's profusely illustrated, however, in case you wanted to see lots of pictures of the sort of people who buy those oddly specific shirts marketed on Facebook...


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Saturday, July 04, 2020

Happy Independence Day!

It was a slow one around here. I tried to shovel out from under a backlog of writing and photography projects, while Bobbi did woodworking and grilled an amazing dinner, which we watched over Episode 3 of Stranger Things.

After sunset I wandered out on the front walk and fired off a couple dozen bottle rockets and fountains left over from New Year's Eve.

Happy Birthday, America!
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More Macro

Canon EOS 5DS, EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro
Playing with that inexpensive older Nikon macro lens was the push I needed to finally get off my butt and pick up a macro lens for my work cameras. Well, that and the serendipitous appearance of the minty used 100mm f/2.8L for a price I couldn't pass up at Roberts when I was there to drop off film yesterday morning.
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Tenterhooks...


Despite having had it for years, I'd never actually loaded film into the old Leica IIIb. It's a complex process and the penalty for screwing up means trashing the shutter curtain in an 81-year-old camera.



During World War II and Korea, war correspondents did that at night in shell craters...under artillery fire. Wild. I reckon anything gets easier with practice.

I think everything worked out, and after deliberately wasting a roll of Fuji 400 from the local CVS to make sure I was doing it right, I loaded a second roll and shot off a bunch of frames to see if it works. This old camera has no training wheels; not so much as a built-in light meter. If using the all-manual FM2n with a built-in exposure meter is driving stick shift, the IIIb is driving stick without synchromesh.

I dropped the test roll off at Roberts yesterday morning, so we'll see...

Here's an interesting piece on a U.S. military issue camera from WWII, the PH-47, better known on the commercial market as the Speed Graphic.
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Friday, July 03, 2020

Memes for Days...

This Bryco will ride eternal across the memeiverse, shiny and chrome...



Thursday, July 02, 2020

Vimes' Boots Theory Applied to Wastebaskets

Here's my enthusiastic and unpaid product endorsement for our kitchen trash can here at Roseholme Cottage.

Replacing a string of cheapie treadle-operated lidded trash cans, the first Simple Human one made it almost a decade before wearing enough that it needed replacing.

It lasted in kitchen service almost as long as that microwave I bought after moving up here.
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Showing Some Love for the Underdog

My very first real name-brand centerfire autoloading pistol...well, it really wasn't very cool. It was a Ruger KP91DAO.

If you're not hip to Ruger numerology (and why would you be?) that's a stainless Ruger P-series auto in .40 Smith & Wesson with a double-action-only trigger.

In fairly short order I swapped it for a Glock 23 because I believed the standard wisdom that DAOs were some sort of crappy trigger for proles, undertrained cops, and other yahoos who couldn't shoot. That was the gun counter consensus back during the heyday of the DAO duty gun.

In reality, I was a terrible shot who couldn't make hits with a DA trigger to save my life.

I got better, though.

Most people don't like DAO triggers because most people can't shoot.
By the early 2000's, I was using a DAO Beretta 96D as a bedside gun, since it essentially functioned like an eleven shot .40 caliber revolver. My bedside gun these days is a DAO Smith 4046. I'd have preferred a 5946, but I had the 4046 on hand from a blog project, it was cheap, and in the boat anchor all-stainless Third Gen Smiths, there's surprisingly little difference in shooting 9 and .40.

In all honesty, I think a DAO or LEM type gun makes a lot of sense for a pistol for personal or home defense. Yeah, you're not going to have blind splits as fast as you would with a short-travel 3.5# trigger, but if there's a shooting skill measurement that has less relevance to actual personal defense than blind splits, I don't know what it is. In exchange, you get a trigger that is much more resistant to screwups caused by "woobie-checking".

In fact, just for nostalgia's sake, I kinda want to go looking for a KP91DAO...
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Didn't we just leave this party?

Remember when, in a masterful stroke of diplomacy, the president had used his charismatic negotiating skills to talk the Norks into dismantling their nuclear program? Good times...
"In order to eliminate the nuclear threats from the U.S., the DPRK government has made all possible efforts either through dialogue or in resort to the international law, but all ended in a vain effort," North Korean state news wrote in an essay Friday morning about future prospects for peace, using an abbreviation for the country's official name. "The only option left was to counter nuke with nuke."

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

MRDS

Dual-illuminated Trijicon RMR RM08

I've gone from "moderate curiosity" to "grudging acceptance" to "advocate (with qualifications)" on the topic of red dots on pistols over the last decade or so.

I mean, my current carry gun doesn't have a dot on it, but I wouldn't have a problem carrying one at this point. They're definitely easier to get new shooters up to speed with than irons, and are a real aid to accuracy for me out beyond ten yards or so. I can also tell from the way things are going with my vision that within ten years or so, I'll be personally a lot more enthusiastic about them.

Trijicon SRO

My "with qualifications" stems from a couple of things...

  • Thus far, the good ones cost dough. Trijicon is still the school solution, although the current iteration of the Holosun 507C is getting good feedback from people I trust and costs less. "Costs less" is still relative, though. For some people, $300 is an impulse buy and for others it's rather a lot of dough.

  • If you shoot more than a middlin' high round count, even the good ones are wear items. It can be argued that if you have the financial wherewithal to bust ten to twenty thousand caps a year or more, you have the dough to keep a spare MRDS on hand for use while you send the busted one off to Trijicon for warranty work, but that's again an individual choice. We've reached the point, though, where they're rugged and reliable enough to fast rope out of helicopters in Absurdistan, so they're definitely up to the rigors of the mean streets of suburbia.

  • They take a little bit of training to really get the best use out of them, but then again, so does the pistol to which they're bolted. I've taken red-dot-oriented classes from Aaron Cowan and Scott Jedlinski and recommend them both without reservation.


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Over/Under on the rise of the machines in 2020?

From Conversation Elsewhere...

I feel like a broken record having to type this again, for probably the fourth or fifth time in the almost fifteen years now this blog's been going, but...
"Buy it cheap and stack it deep when times are good. Be the ant, not the grasshopper.

If you're just now buying your first gun because of 'Rona and looting, you have an excuse.

If you owned a firearm at any time from November 2016 or earlier, and you're not sitting on at least a six month stockpile at your normal rate of consumption,
over and above whatever you deem necessary for a "Break Glass In Case Of Emergency" stash, you have no excuse. You've seen this before.

The American gun owner is (collectively speaking) a panicky, easily-spooked herd animal. Any random headline could cause the throngs to descend on the local ammo shelves like locusts, and then they talk about it online and the online retailers get cleared out by the case lot.

The domestic commercial ammo supply is predicated on the average gun owner buying a box of pistol ammo every month or two to shoot up at the range and a box of long gun ammo once or twice a year for ditto. It's not geared for everyone who owns a gun to run out and buy three cases at once.
"

"In Boston, we have our hats..."

I've explained the story before, but for the new people, here it is again:

I was in my local gun shop to use the indoor range for the first time since...*checks iPhone photo library*...March 5th, and the first time in the shop since late March or early April.

The place was cleaned out. I didn't go look at the handgun showcases, but it looked like it was down to a handful of high-dollar 1911s and collector revolvers. The walls were nearly bare. A guy came in to buy some ammo and was told that, for the moment, the stocks were so low that they were only selling ammunition for use on the range or along with the purchase of a firearm.

Fortunately, this ain't my first panic, and I've got months of normal shooting with normal calibers to go before I gotta bust into the ammo cans that look like this...


Monday, June 29, 2020

Busy Little Bee

"Making Catnip Honey"
Nikon D3, 105mm f/2.8 AF-D
1/160th @ f/6.3, ISO 400

My photography group's photo assignment for the week was "Macro, or close-up photographs of small scenes."

I'd never done macro photography of live bugs before...heck, I haven't done much macro photography at all...but when I saw the bees on the catnip plant out front, I put my new-to-me 105mm f/2.8D AF Micro-Nikkor lens on the D3 and went out to try my hand at it. I think I managed a couple decent shots for a first try, and it was fun!

The only hard part was that the dew point out there on the porch was 76 degrees* and I had to worry about the lens trying to fog.

I'd seen a lot of reviews talking about how sharp this lens was and, since they were discontinued way back in '06, they're available pretty reasonably.




*71-75 degrees is "Oppressive". 76+ is "Miserable". It was miserable.

Go shoot something you love.

Your Morning Boost!

Another Vanished Landmark

Apparently the iconic John Jovino Gun Shop in New York City went under last month, with the 'Rona being the straw that broke the camel's already-nearly-broken back.
"The rent, he said, is the number one reason for closing. And then the coronavirus, shutting down business. There's also the trouble with regulations, the slow-down in shipments of ammunition, and people buying on the Internet instead of from their local shop. Finally, Charlie said, “I’m old, I’m 74 years old, I was born in 1946, I am old.”

He'll be retiring after this. He hopes to travel, once the restrictions are lifted, and he's getting offers to teach and advise for security firms in Asia. He's considering it. But saying goodbye hasn't been easy.
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From Elsewhere...

"Almost no municipal (and damned few state) LE agencies have the resources or wherewithal to actually *test* gear, whether guns or cruisers or whatever. They all either piggyback off testing done by teh feds or one of a handful of large agencies, or else they buy whatever the chief thinks is cool or saw on the cover of Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement in the checkout line at the Piggly Wiggly."
Once the gun companies have your email in their files as "media", you get inundated with email with inane stuff like "Blastomatic is pleased to announce that the Ass Bend, Missouri Police Department has announced that they are adopting the Blastomatic 2000 as their duty sidearm..."

...for all fifteen sworn officers, because the big gun dealer in the next county over is a Blastomatic LE dealer and goes fishing with the ABPD chief on the weekends. Or maybe the chief thought it looked cool when John Wick used one in John Wick Kills Everybody Again, Part VII.

But that's okay, because on BlastomaticFanForum.com there will be a thread cheering the latest conquest by their favorite marque.
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Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Sunday Smith is up!

Go check it out at the other blog!
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The internet was a mistake...

Okay, this is the weirdest, most cyberpunk dystopian plot twist to 2020 yet: Apparently the Instagram Influencer/Mommy Blogger/Wellness Coach* world is being swept by a wave of Q-Anon and COVID/5G conspiracy nonsense.

I'm waiting for the first Instagram shots of someone on the beach in Phuket wearing a sponsored bikini and matching anti-5G tinfoil hat ensemble: "Remember to buy Lululemon and fight the harvesting of adrenochrome from innocent babies!"

*throws cards down, pulls chips off table*

That's it. I'm out. This game has officially gotten too dumb to play.


*Well, frankly I'm not surprised when woo breaks out in the "wellness" world.
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Sale!

If you've wanted to try a "Gadget" Striker Control Device on your Glock pistol, Tau Development Group is having their annual Tau Day Sale.

Just use the discount code "TAUDAY2020" at checkout for 20% off and free shipping!

Hard to believe I've been using them for better than half a decade now. I've grown so accustomed to using the Gadget on Glocks that I get decidedly skittish when holstering a 509, P320, or other striker gun without one.
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Saturday, June 27, 2020

Old bike, old imaging tech...


Here's that 1951 BSA again, this time on Kodak TMax 400, shot with the Nikon F4.
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"So...can we have your liver, then?"



NOTE: Best viewed in full screen. Soundtrack's pretty good, too.

Highlight for Spoiler: In the long run, entropy wins.
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Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #183...


FN 509 Compact MRD in Tactical Dirt Color with a Trijicon SRO and a Streamlight TLR-7 that is fixing to get shot a whole lot to see how it does. (I mean, it's done fine so far, but I'm looking for an excuse to do a bunch more shooting, and here it is.)
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All the Megapixels?

Only a dozen megapixels there.
Many years ago, when the talk of the town was the D810, I remember several of my Nikon-shooting friends at first excited to grab one, and then a few months later lamenting their choice. For example, a friend of mine works for Getty and is responsible for shooting celebrities and events in New York. At 36 megapixels in 2013, he found himself with way too many images that were far too large, which complicated his media storage and seriously slowed down his workflow.

These days, 36 megapixels is less of a burden thanks to evolving computer technology, and maybe someday the same can be said for 61 megapixels. But anyone trying to shoot burst images in 61 megapixels today—a touted feature of the a7R IV—will quickly find themselves inundated with a great number of images that are several times larger than their previous camera and require that much more horsepower when it comes to editing them in a program like Lightroom.

All for what? Posting on Instagram?

Don’t make that face, you know it’s true: nearly every image that is taken is posted to social media or put on a website, then tossed into a hard drive never to be seen again. If you’re telling me you are going to print all these images you’re shooting, pardon me, but you know that’s not true. Knowing that, why do you want 61 megapixels?

Given that I do my photo editing on an old 2014 Mac mini at home and a similarly-spec'ed MacBook Air on the road, I've noticed this with the files from the 50MP 5DS, where RAW images can exceed 70MB. ("Hey, Mr. Editor, can we open a shared Dropbox? These images are too big to attach to an email.")

Regarding printed images, I have only a handful of actual physical prints from the last several years' worth of photography, pretty much all 8x10s. Most were 16MP shots with the 1Ds MkII or the OM-D E-M5. They're fine. The linked article's absolutely right in that we normally view photographs on a screen these days, and most frequently on a screen in your hand. You'd need four current 10.2" iPad screens to display a full resolution image from even those old 16MP cameras.

I've used that aforementioned 16MP 1Ds2 for some full-page glossy shots in Concealment magazine, too, but actually my last several photos in there were with the old 12MP Nikon D700, which I intend to use until the shutter falls out. Given that the shutter on mine has less than 50k shutter activations, and there are D700s still chugging along with over a million, it might be a bit before entropy catches up with it. The electronics will likely get wonky first.
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Friday, June 26, 2020

Ten Years in an Hour



Time lapse footage of a decade's worth of images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. At the speed of the video, every second is a day.

You can see by the end that we've entered an extremely quiet period for solar activity.

In other news, our planet's magnetic field is acting wonky, but this is 2020, so nothing's really surprising.
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Seems Buggy

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Been hittin' this bottle heavily...


The second in Bobbi's "Home Remedies" art project, shot with an old Nikon D3000 and the inexpensive-yet-excellent 35mm f/1.8mm DX lens.
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Wait, what?



The Free-Fall Continues...

After a year spent walking back vague statements made by their CEO hinting that Olympus was thinking about exiting the commercial camera business, Olympus announced that they are, in fact, exiting the commercial camera business.
Olympus said it improved cost structure, focused on high-profit cameras and lenses and took other steps to “cope with the extremely severe digital camera market.” Despite those efforts, however, the company said it “recorded operating losses for three consecutive fiscal years up to the term ended in March 2020.”


Olympus had been struggling even before the jump to digital; while their pocket line of 35mm P&S cameras were well regarded, the move to autofocus SLRs in the '90s left the OM line an increasingly niche product: All manual cameras that still appealed to some for their compact size and high-quality M. Zuiko lenses.

They were fast to get into digital, and it looked to give the company a second wind, but they struggled to find a niche in the digital camera world. With the collapse of the point-'n'-shoot market they were left with their bread and butter: compact, retro-styled mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras.


Unfortunately, it seems that the benefits offered by the little Micro Four Thirds sensor, namely a small, lightweight camera with compact lenses, aren't outweighing the desires of the dwindling market, which is lusting after bigger sensors. Full-frame is the future and in the camera market's game of musical chairs, it appears there's only one chair for "retro-styled hobbyist mirrorless cameras with smaller-than-35mm sensors", and Fuji's sitting in it.
[T]hey targeted their later range of mirrorless cameras at a middle market - "people who weren't serious photographers - they wanted something better than a point-and-shoot camera, but they didn't want a DSLR camera".

"That market very very quickly got swallowed up by smartphones, and turned out not to exist."

The market for standalone cameras has fallen dramatically - by one estimate, it dropped by 84% between 2010 and 2018.
The company to which they're selling the camera division swears up and down that they're going to streamline the business and continue to advance and support it. But they said that when they bought Sony's VAIO computer division, too, and when's the last time you saw one of those at Best Buy?
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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Historical Reference

Take As Needed

From Elsewhere...

A friend wrote:
I don't like the term virtue signaling either, and for the same reason. What's even more hilarious are people who use the term liberally against their political opponents, but who themselves are epic virtue signalers to their own peers. I do notice a lot of actual virtue signaling, especially in the past six months, but I think that's mostly because social media turns some types of people into awful people. Or maybe just provides a powerful avenue for awful people to self-identify. Not sure which.
In this case, the medium definitely shapes the outcome. I replied...
Basically, social media allows people to divide themselves into tribes based on opinions and shared values. Social capital in those tribes is then accumulated by espousing those values more extremely than one's peers and being the first and most vocal proponent to shun those who deviate.

It's like watching the history of the Christian church for the first five or six hundred years played at 1000X fast forward, and on an endless loop. 
(With pagan Vandal & Sassanid infiltrators cheering on every divisive opinion.)
If you're in a virtual community defined by concern for social justice, then the person with the most concern for social justice will have the most social capital. If you're in a community defined by being edgy, then the edgiest edgelord is at the top of the heap. You think (Black/Blue) lives matter? Well someone thinks they matter even more than you, you quisling.

*looks around*

How about we give nuclear weapons to the unborn?
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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Oops.

What's the most humiliating moment you've had at a camera store? I ask, because I just experienced mine.

The other day I popped the finished roll of Ilford HP5 in its green & white canister out of the Nikon N80, where I'd been using it to experiment with the red filter, and a roll of Kodak T-Max out of the F4 where I'd been ditto with a yellow filter.

As I'm getting ready to head out the door, I see another green & white canister with no leader sticking out, sitting there on the shelf. It had been behind a camera, and I thought "Huh, another roll of Ilford," and tossed all three canisters in the bag to take to the store.

I hand them to the dude at the lab counter at Roberts on Friday morning, and he tosses them into the envelope, saying "The two black and white rolls will be ready next Friday, and the color will be ready Monday."

"Wait, color?"

"Yeah, this one's Fuji 200 color film."

Ah. The green and white canister I grabbed off the shelf must have been the Fuji. I could have sworn it was Ilford HP5. "I don't even know what's on that color roll, dude. I only use those for test rolls and I can't remember what camera I would have shot that in. It's a mystery roll."

Monday afternoon Roberts sent me the scans off the roll of color film...

D'OH!

I was almost too embarrassed to show my face in the store this morning.


Yes, I'd gone to Holliday Park and shot up most of a roll of color film through a red filter, trying to get dramatic sky behind the ersatz ruins. Because I'm an idiot and didn't keep better track of what film I'd put in the N80.

The funny part is that this isn't even an old 1980's vintage camera with electrical tape over the film window on the back to make up for light leaks caused by dodgy old seals around the window.

I got this camera from a friend who'd used it less than twenty years ago for work stuff, and the film window is uncovered because it doesn't leak. I'd just glanced at the window, saw "green & white", and thought "HP5"...because surely I wouldn't have Fujicolor 200 in a camera for anything other than a test roll.
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Ridiculous.

I hate to use the term "virtue signaling" because it's one of those words and phrases, like "privilege" or "feminism" or "racism", that's been divorced from its original meaning and is swung blindly as a cudgel by low-information ignoramii in online culture wars, but it's entirely appropriate in this case.

As you've no-doubt heard by now from various enraged kulturkampfers, a re-boot of Warner Brothers' classic Looney Toons is going to strip Elmer Fudd, hapless wabbit hunter, of his shotgun and Yosemite Sam, the rootin'-est tootin'-est pistolero in the West, of said pistols.

Instead, Yosemite Sam will roam the Old West with sickles and Elmer will hunt wabbits with that traditional hunting implement, the scythe.
"The show will stay true to the spirit of the original, while reflecting modern sensibilities, the EP said. What does that mean exactly? Maaaaany sticks of dynamite, elaborate booby traps and cannons-at-close range will very much be in play, in addition to the requisite anvils, bank safes and pianos that famously fall on unsuspecting heads."
Strictly speaking, the bit about reflecting modern sensibilities is true. Leaving the "maaaaany sticks of dynamite" in is accurate, since the target audience's mommies and daddies are way more likely to have been blown up with IEDs than shot with small arms fire.

I also note that, while we are apparently trying to protect children from seeing images of Elmer wielding Joe Biden's approved home defense weapon in a cartoonish or comedic fashion, Mr. Fudd's speech impediment is still treated as hilarious. How retrograde.

(EDIT: To clarify, it's not about the guns being essential to the funny; it's the big, virtue-signaling deal being made of it that's hilarious.
I mean, the funniest, most epic Bugs v. Elmer cartoon ever had Elmer wielding a spear to 🎶 kill the wabbit, KILL THE WABBIT! 🎶)
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Automotif CLXX...

A 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396 spotted over at 56th & Illinois. Just enough patina to suggest a well-cared for (but not pampered) original that sees frequent use, but not in winter.

I suppose it could be an L78, but it's most likely the more pedestrian L34.
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Monday, June 22, 2020

Front Porch Safari

Lightly cropped from the original

I've been wanting to get shots of a chipmunk for a while, but the little critters are so wary and so fast. Normally just the act of turning your head to look at one will send it streaking into the nearest concealment at top speed. They're like quantum squirrels: The act of observing them alters their velocity and position.

Yesterday's front porch safari with the 5DS and 100-400 glass finally paid off. It was raining and one settled in on the neighbor's front porch to enjoy a snack. I brought the camera to my eye slowly while looking away from it then turned my head. As I suspected, it didn't panic over a camera lens the way it would over a pair of eyeballs. The minute I lowered the camera, it scarpered.

Screen grab off a 100% crop in p-shop.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Books Report

Last week I sat down and tore through Marko's latest novel, Ballistic, mostly in two marathon sessions.

The story is moving along, Aden is integrating well with the crew of the Zephyr and wondering if he should come clean with his ersatz family, and at the same time finally sees his sister and we get some backstory about the origins of his bad blood with his Captain of Industry dad. (Now we know why there aren't many Fathers Day cards sent in the Ragnar household.)

There's a bit intrigue and shady dealings for our happy-go-lucky smugglin' crew, and the tough sergeant character we'd been following in the Gretian occupation forces gets some uncomfortable revelations. All in all, there's the sense of pieces being moved into place for some major denouements in book three, Citadel, due out next year.

That's the source of the only real complaint, if you can call it that, in the reviews of the Palladium Wars series.

These aren't standalone novels, in the tradition of Weber's Honor Harrington books or David Drake's adventures of Leary & Mundy.  The atmosphere of Marko's series feels heavily influenced by modern TV sci-fi, and it's best to think of each of the novels so far as being a piece of a story arc equivalent to about three-to-five episodes of The Expanse, rather than a self-contained "monster of the week" episode of Firefly.

Having finished Ballistic, I'm now settling down to finish off 1493.
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Fraktured Fairy Tales



How had I not seen the official video of Rammstein's "Sonne" before? It's so...German.
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Saturday, June 20, 2020

Automotif CLXIX...

Pulled the Zed Drei over to the shoulder of Illinois St. to grab a pic of this 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham. This was the last year before they were downsized to the 108-in. wheelbase G-bodies that were the final hurrah of V8 rear wheel drive Cutlasses.

1976 and '77 Cutlasses are distinguishable from the '73-'75 models by the rectangular headlights, which were actually illegal on vehicles in the US from 1940 until the mid 1970s.

The clean white Cutlass being half in shadow and half in sun proved a bit of a dynamic range challenge for the sensor in the old D700. I had the F5 loaded with Ektar 100 along as well and took a couple nearly identically composed shots. It'll be interesting to see how the film turns out.
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Way to take one for the team, Amy.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Fight Club

Now this is pretty hardcore:
"She awoke to the sound of a bear approaching her," Foy said. "It immediately attacked."

The bear scratched the young woman's arms and legs, but then it began to bite her leg. Her wounds were not life-threatening.

"The only weapon she had was her laptop. She hit the bear with it and stunned it long enough to escape inside the house," Foy said.

"She fought back vigorously, which is what you should do with any wildlife in California.
"
What laptop for bear? This is where you'd want a good, solid 15"-17" gaming laptop with a hefty battery, and not some flimsy little 13" airweight glorified tablet with a keyboard.

[p'''''''-=]

(Sorry, about the above string of nonsense characters. Holden leapt onto the keyboard while I'd stepped away for a moment. Although I note he closed his brackets, which makes him a more fastidious typist than the average denizen of social media these days.)

Controlling the money supply...

The Wikipedia article on Yapese rai stones is fascinating:
"Although the ownership of a particular stone might change, the stone itself is rarely moved due to its weight and risk of damage. The names of previous owners are passed down to the new one. In one instance, a large rai being transported by canoe and outrigger was accidentally dropped and sank to the sea floor. Although it was never seen again, everyone agreed that the rai must still be there, so it continued to be transacted as genuine currency. What is important is that ownership of the rai is clear to everyone, not that the rai is physically transferred or even physically accessible to either party in the transfer. In this, the rai stone monetary system can be thought as an early example of a distributed ledger, similar to those used in modern days blockchain technology. 
... 
In 1871, the Irish-American David Dean O'Keefe was shipwrecked near Yap and was helped by the natives. Later, he assisted the Yapese in acquiring rai and in return received copra and trepang, which were valuable exports in the Far East. O'Keefe provided the Yapese with iron tools. As a result, a form of inflation set in and rai stones acquired with his help were less valuable than more ancient ones."

Thursday, June 18, 2020

"Cocking the hammer on her Glock with a click!..."



That's some sexy Nikon F5 product placement in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. When the movie came out in May of 1997, the F5 had been on the market for a year and was still the $3,000+ king of the camera hill. 3D color matrix metering, five autofocus points, built-in motor drive that could shoot at eight frames per second; the marketing slogan was "Imported From the Future".

There's one problem with the scene above, where the camera reaches the end of the roll of film and suddenly starts rewinding, startling the baby dinosaur by making the whirring mechanical buzz everyone in the theater would have been familiar with as "camera rewinding film".

Well, two problems, actually.

The first is that the F5 didn't automatically rewind its film at the end of a roll. You needed to tell it when you wanted it to rewind. As a matter of fact, since inadvertently bumping a rewind button at the wrong time could be an expensive disaster for a pro photographer, it required a complicated hand jive involving a shielded button and a locked lever at opposite sides of the camera's back. (This survives in the two-button setup to format cards in Nikon's pro digital bodies.)

The second is the noise the camera makes as it rewinds. Like I said above, everyone in the theater would know what it was because it was the sound Uncle Fred's Kodak made when he was done with a roll of film at cousin Suzy's birthday party. That's why the foley artist put it in there; it's the stock "camera rewinding" noise.

The Nikon F5, on the other hand, has a film transport so silent that unless you're in a very quiet room, you won't hear the camera rewinding at all. Other than the faint vibration in your hand, there will be no clue that the camera is silently whirring the film back into the canister for processing.
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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Overheard in the Kitchen...

Me: "Dammit!
RX: "What's wrong?" 
Me: "There's not a cloud in the sky.
RX: "That's the first time I've heard someone say that in a disappointed tone."
See, I had plans to go to Holliday Park this morning fairly early with a wide-angle lens, a red filter, and a Nikon full of black & white film to take pictures of the ruins with a dramatic sky for a background. Looks like that's getting put off until tomorrow morning.


Showing up with lube would be inappropriate and awkward.

Automotif CLXVIII...

Sunbeam Alpine, Nikon F5, Ilford Pan F Plus
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Annoying Terminology...

Two phrases often used in journalism get under my skin because of the ignorance in which they are rooted.

The first is when it's intoned that someone shot "an unarmed man". There's no requirement that someone be armed or not to use lethal force. You may reasonably believe they are armed. You may reasonably believe they are trying to become armed. You may know they are are unarmed and yet still have a reasonable belief that they still present an immediate, otherwise unavoidable, threat of death or grievous bodily harm to yourself or another innocent individual.

Actually, that latter part is the whole nut of whether deadly force is legal or not: Do you have a reasonable belief that they present an immediate, otherwise unavoidable, threat of death or grievous bodily harm to yourself or another innocent individual? If so, their actual status of being armed or not is immaterial.

The other annoyance is when the newsreader breathlessly intones that "the death has been ruled a homicide." Well, no duh, Sherlock. We all saw him shoot the guy right there on video, and he was delivered to the coroner full of bullet holes, so we didn't need to wait on the official ruling from the medical examiner to know this; that was just a formality.

All "homicide" means is that a dude was killed by another dude, as opposed to dying of natural causes or being hit by a mysterious piano falling out of a cloudless sky. It's not a criminal ruling. It's up to the legal system to determine if the homicide was a justified one or not.
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Monday, June 15, 2020

A glimpse of the past...

Now and again The Onion shows a little spark of the wit that used to make it consistently fire back in the Web 1.0 days...
"While Sheila does enjoy our extended line of breakfast foods, that is only one small facet of her rich and complex identity as a human being: Sheila also speaks fluent Italian, likes U2, is bisexual, and enjoys cross-country skiing. Let us make it clear that Sheila never serves the pancakes herself, but now and then goes to a diner near the courthouse where waitresses and waiters of a variety of races serve them to her.”"
Maybe someday it will ascend back to its former glory and not leave the Babylon Bee and Duffleblog to carry the load. Satire is getting increasingly hard in this ever more ridiculous cyberpunk dystopia.
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Mo'cycle!

There's a dude in the neighborhood who's been here at least as long as I have, and on nice days over these last dozen years the curb in front of his house has been graced by a succession of cool and eclectic bikes, mostly British or Italian.

Yesterday I stopped and parked my bicycle to get shots of this 1951 BSA with the RX100 in my shirt pocket...



I had the Nikon F4 along as well, loaded with Ilford HP5 black & white film, but it'll be a while before we can see those...
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The latest battle in the hashtag wars...

Apparently the K-Pop division flanked the QBoomer corps and pushed them into the sea in the battle of the hashtags...
"For some reason, K-Pop fans decided to start tweeting popular QAnon hashtags like “#QAnon” and “#WWG1WGA,” shorthand for the conspiracy theory’s slogan “Where we go one, we go all.” Understandably, this was more than a little frustrating for the Q-obsessed conspiracy theorists. Hilariously, this resulted in even more conspiracy theories involving George Soros and antifa to explain the surge in K-pop tweets including the QAnon hashtags."
Imagine trying to explain any of this to your 1999 self.
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Sunday, June 14, 2020

Hey, look!

There's a new Sunday Smith post up at the poor, oft-neglected other blog!

This post brought to you with the assistance of History of Smith & Wesson and Smith & Wesson Hand Guns. (The latter work, by the way, is a delightful period piece originally published in 1945 and an absolute steal in the Kindle version at a dollar ninety-nine.)
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