Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Desertification

Three days in the desert and already my bodyweight is probably sixty percent dry-ass dead skin cells.

This is my third year of covering SHOT for RECOIL, and since they put us up in a hotel right across the street from the convention center, I didn't bother bringing a blaster.

Gasp. Shock.

Look, I know some people...plenty, actually...roll dirty in Vegas, but considering that practically my entire time here is spent either in the hotel or the convention center or walking between them during normal business hours, I'm pretty comfortable with my Vegas odds and a can of pepper spray. Besides, this trip is pretty much the only time I fly without checking guns, so it's interesting to see how normies experience air travel. (Curbside baggage check, for instance, is not normally a thing I get to do.)

Also, I haven't worn a belt in three days, which is really novel for me.

Hotel POTUS at sunrise, as seen from the 28th floor of Treasure Island

Monday, January 20, 2020

Automotif CLVIII...


In the parking lot at Sig's media range day was this cool '00-'02 Z3 3.0i. Manual transmission, the cool M-style secondary gauge panel, and a sweet bronze color with matching top.

Also, it's weird that just walking past a car in a parking lot can make a person homesick.
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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Companion

Canon EOS M6 & 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM
Un-cropped photo, composed on the fly. I only had the time for the one shot. Pure luck.
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Saturday, January 18, 2020

In theory, theory is the same as practice...

Aesop writes to defend the drop-leg holster:
Sit in a car, a delivery van, or a semi rig cab, and show me your IWB or appendix-carry draw, against, say, a robber or carjacker.With your seatbelts on (in observance of the law, natch), and maybe wearing a jacket, just to make it interesting for you.
Okay...



Here's me from strong side under an open-front cover garment...

Well, actually there I was more concerned with getting the muzzle off me then drawing. Because the answer to the problem isn't always "Hey! Quick! Go for the gun!" But even with my seatbelt fastened, my draw from seated isn't terribly slower than standing, and the only difference is I lean forward a little.
We won't even talk about where that IWB is digging into you all shift...
Oh, please, Aesop! I've driven on I don't know how many all-day-long cross-country roadtrips with a strong-side IWB holster. IND-to-ATL, IND-to-MSY, IND-to-OKC, IND-to-ABQ, IND-to-FOE, and that's just in the last couple years, and not counting shorter ones to TN or OH... Make sure you don't buy crappy belts and holsters and that they fit properly.

...or where your appendix carry muzzle is pointed, sitting in a vehicle seat.

If you're carrying AIWB correctly, it should be pointing at the seat. If it's pointing at anything else, you need to fix yourself.

Then he pimps the supposed virtue of the low-rise thigh rig for driving:

Now, sit in a car seat, same conditions, and tell me where your hand falls on your upper leg:
unless you've got gorilla-length arms (which you'd need to get to any ankle rig), that'd be right where this holster sits. Handy. Readily available. Not pointed at your junk.
Five stars.
Uh-huh, Aesop, that is indeed where your hand naturally falls.

Now mime moving your hand backward from the holster like you're trying to draw the pistol. What happens to your elbow? Hits the seat before the muzzle is even clear, doesn't it?

Can you see why dudes who were issued dropleg Safarilands would use vest mounted holsters for mounted patrols?

I don't know how much you carry there in California, vehicularly or not, but you're saying a lot of things that sound really good in theory...until you pressure test this stuff in practice.


Lightweight and small, but powerful...

As a means of sneaking a spare backup body along on travels, I'd sling a crop-sensor DSLR around my neck with a travel zoom on it. It didn't get counted as a "carry on" so I had a backup body along in case one of my work cameras went toes up (since it could use my good lenses), and one that didn't take up space in with the actual camera gear at that.

With an 18-135mm EF-S travel zoom on it, I also used it to snap pictures at the airport or out the plane window.

Thing is, even on a small Canon Rebel body, like the T1i in the picture above, it's a lens the size of a beer can mounted on a single-lens reflex camera.

The camera body has to be a certain minimum size because it needs room for the mirror box and pentamirror that make an SLR an SLR. Further, despite using a "crop" or "APS-C" sized sensor, which is a fraction of the size of a 35mm negative, the flange diameter of the Rebel's EF/EF-S lens mount was dictated by the size of the 35mm film it was meant to work with.

Enter the mirrorless EOS M6, the silver camera on the right in the top photo. By dispensing with the mirror box and its associated eye-level optical finder, the camera is made much smaller.

And despite using a sensor that is the same physical size and resolution as current Canon Rebel DSLR's, the M6 uses the new EF-M (for 'mirrorless') mount, which has a flange diameter optimized for the APS-C size sensor. That's why, despite having the same Image Stabilization feature as the 18-135mm lens on the Rebel, the even longer 18-150mm EF-M mount travel zoom lens is the size of a little V8 juice can instead of a beer can.

Plus, with an EF-to-EF-M adaptor thrown in my camera bag, it can serve the same backup body function as the Rebel, and be a lot smaller hanging around my neck in the airport.
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Too many containers...

>be me

>go digging through S&W boxes to find the one for the 2" 64 you're taking to the gun shop today for extra SHOT Show shekels

>find box for 3" Model 610 you sold years ago and realize you could have made an extra hundred bucks

>dammit

Also, um... Hey, Shootin' Buddy? I found the box for that nickel Model 38 no-dash I sold you back in two-thousand-aught-nine or whenever.
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Buried Lede

Federal dropped a presser announcing a new line of CCW-oriented ammunition, called "Punch", and marketed as "personal defense ammunition". While LE ammunition such as Federal's HST Tactical is fine for CCW use, the difficulty of performing well on the more difficult portions of the FBI barrier protocols requires solutions that aren't necessarily as important for a CCW bullet.

Engineering a bullet that will hold together, penetrate, and expand after encountering plywood, laminated auto glass or sheet metal requires various methods of locking the jacket to the core that require extra manufacturing steps and extra cost. A bullet that will do well in just the bare gel & heavy clothing parts of the test is easier and cheaper to make.

I mean, I'm still going to carry HST, but I found something interesting in the press release:
“Concealed-carry permit holders, especially new shooters, need an uncomplicated answer to the question ‘What ammo do I need for self-defense’,” said Federal Handgun Ammunition Product Manager Chris Laack. “Things to consider such as function, reliable ignition, barrier performance, terminal performance, ballistics and other considerations are a lot to digest for most people. What some consumers really need to know is it will function in their gun, every time, and that it will be effective stopping a threat as quickly as possible. Punch is our easy answer for them.”

Most concealed carry permit holders are less concerned with factors such as barrier penetration through steel, plywood and auto glass and more concerned about choosing a bullet that is engineered from the ground-up to stop an attacker and work effectively in their chosen firearm. And, as the data shows, Punch bullets perform well in the tests that matter most to the average shooter—penetration and expansion through bare gel and heavy clothing. Federal has made Punch ammunition a natural choice for concealed carry.

What’s more, Punch ammunition features Federal’s smooth-feeding nickel-plated cases, advanced powders, and the sealed reliability of high-quality, sensitive primers. With Punch, self-defenders can be assured its components will do its job when it matters most.

The five new Punch options include a .380 Auto 85-grain offering with a muzzle velocity of 1,000 feet per second, a .38 Special +P 120-grain load at 1,070 fps, a 9mm 147-grain load at 1,150 fps, a .40 S&W 16-grain load at 1,130 fps, and a .45 Auto 230-grain load at 890 fps. What’s more, all these loads will be available immediately, and with MSRPs from $15.95 to $20.95 per box of 20.
Check out the highlighted portions. If the .380 is getting those velocities out of LCP-size guns, that's a big deal. But personally, I'm looking at that claimed velocity for the 147gr nine. If they're getting supersonic velocities out of a 147gr bullet from a 4" barrel, that's a spicy meatball. Then again, it could be a typo like the "16-gr" .40 cal bullet. (It's 165gr, almost certainly.)

Looking forward to getting some and testing it.
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Friday, January 17, 2020

BBF



I've never tried using back-button focus. I should give it a whirl and see how it works for me.
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Dumb Holster #1

Why is your ankle holster connected to your belt?
Your leather-working skills may be aces and the craftsmanship might be superb, but your holster idea is dumber than an acre of fungus, dude.

I was in a conversation elsewhere regarding holsters that caused me to actually go looking for this image, or one like it, on the internet. On purpose.



Drop holsters are some of the most frequently misunderstood and poorly configured holsters out there. Basically, unless you're wearing a plate carrier or LBV or something that interferes with a normal belt mount, you should probably leave the drop-legs to Hollywood space pirates and B&W cowboys.

If you find yourself needing to wear a real one for one of the above reasons, here's how to look like you know what you're doing:

Photography is not a crime!

Well, it's not every day I find myself on the same side of an issue as Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, and yet here we are:
As a matter of fact, still photographers were entirely blocked from covering the historic proceedings yesterday, when the articles were formally presented to the senate:
According to a report from Roll Call, Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael C. Stenger are putting in place restrictions that will allow just a single video camera to be present in the room. No still photographers will be allowed to press the shutter and no audio recordings will be allowed.
...
Unfortunately, these restrictions likely mean photographer David Burnett won't be able to use his now-iconic 4 x 5 film camera to capture the transfer of articles for the third impeachment in U.S. history.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Automotive Dark Ages Late Medieval Period

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Feels Good In The Hand

One of the most trite pieces of advice given to prospective first-time handgun buyers is to "go to a gun store and try holding a bunch of different ones to see which one feels good in your hand".

Not only does "feeling good in your hand" have zero to do with how well you'll be able to shoot the gun, it also has no bearing on whether you have the hand size or grip strength to safely load and unload it.

Claude has a point:
"For those who are helping a prospective purchaser, demonstrate the technique but then place the pistol in a sterile (unloaded with slide forward) condition and let them do their own evaluation without comment or coaching."
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The Fun Loophole

If there were any cool foreign cars you wish they were importing back in 1995, good news! They're cool for individual importation this year, thanks to the Imported Vehicle Safety Compliance Act of 1988!
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Trying something new...

Instead of trying to do everything at the last minute, I think I'm going to start getting stuff ready for SHOT today. Do some laundry and get at least the basics packed, for starters. I've already got to the point where I keep a separate bag of travel toiletries in the suitcase, and I've checked it to make sure it's all good and nothing needs replacing. (Can conditioner go bad? I don't think so?)

I need to pull the MacBook Air out and make sure that it's all updated, not just the OS but Word and P-shop, too. I don't want to run into this scenario I had at NRAAM:


I'm also going to throw all the spare camera batteries on chargers and round up the actual kit I'll be using for the show and make sure it's all packed.


Both those Sony bodies are gone, so I'll be falling back on using Canons for work stuff until I can afford a secondhand Sony a7 III this summer, after the a7 IV's cause the used prices to tumble. I just couldn't face another range day or show floor with a pocket full of batteries, and the a7 III has apparently better than double the battery life of its predecessors. (The a7 II would burn up almost five full FW50's in a busy day's work. It was a marginal power source for their APS-C cameras, and totally overwhelmed in the full-frame bodies. Photogs with the early original gangsta a7's would sometimes take the battery door off to make swapping fresh batteries in faster.)
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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Brick & Mortar Retail in the Crapper, Department Stores Hardest Hit

While big box stores are apparently doing okay, online retail is putting the boot to traditional department stores. This past holiday season was no respite for brands like Macy's and Kohl's...
JCPenney's sales at stores and websites open for a year fell 7.5% during the holidays compared with last year. Kohl's and Macy's sales dropped slightly, and Macy's said it will close 28 stores. Victoria's Secret sales at stores and websites open for at least a year fell 12% and its parent cut its earnings forecast. 
JCPenney's results raise "continued questions about the chain's long-term viability," Neil Saunders, analyst at GlobalData Retail, said in a note to clients Thursday. "Once loyal customers now avoid the chain and shop elsewhere."
Our local Macy's is a goner. The Super Target across the parking lot likely finished them off. What's ironic is that the Macy's was a freestanding stump of what used to be the enclosed Glendale Mall, which began life as an open-air shopping plaza before being turned into a covered mall in the Sixties, then demolished in '07, replaced with Target and its parking lot.

(The mall had a cluster of penguin sculptures which have migrated to a new home at the Indianapolis Zoo.)
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Ran When Parked

When I was a kid, a local landmark was a row of C-130's painted in Libyan air force livery, backed up against the fence of the Lockheed plant by the highway.

Built for Libya in 1972, the Nixon administration nixed the delivery of the planes when Col. Muammar started getting cozy with the Soviets all terrorist-y, so there the planes sat. Eventually, they were moved away from the fence line and...well, out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes.

They surfaced in the news again during the early days of the Libyan civil war. Apparently they were still on the grounds of the Lockheed plant, or at least the complex it shares with Dobbins Air Reserve Base and the former NAS Atlanta (now General Lucius D. Clay National Guard Center), just off in a field you couldn't see from South Cobb Drive.

I was relating this tale to a friend on Facebook this morning and went scrolling around on the Googlesat map and...holy crap, they're STILL THERE, tucked away in a couple fields. Half of them are blocked in by an L1011 and a P3, both of which look like they've had their motors pulled.


You'd think that whoever's running Libya these days would have put them up on Plane Trader or eBay Motors or something by now.
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Monday, January 13, 2020

I used to think I understood it...

“Nie mój cyrk. Nie moje małpy.”

So, some juvenile delinquents were doing juvenile delinquent things in a neighborhood park in Reno, Nevada. A couple of neighborhood residents, one James Upton and another man, took it upon themselves to go and get involved.

Upon contacting the youths, according to the police report:
Upton took video and photos of the four juveniles "appearing to be suspicious to him and his neighbors, but doing nothing criminal."
Whereupon said juveniles piled into a car to leave. At this point, the unnamed neighbor blocked their vehicle in from the front, while Mr. Upton blocked their vehicle in from behind. The juveniles piled back out of the car to confront the neighbor who'd blocked their passage, and Mr. Upton got out of his car and approached to get more video.

And then...
"Upon doing so, one of the juveniles approached the defendant in an aggressive manner with his hands clearly visible and nothing in them," the report said. "At that time the defendant drew a concealed handgun and did willfully and unlawfully use force against the juvenile."
Upton fired three to five shots, hitting the sixteen year old in the leg twice.

Upton, formerly a Captain in the Nevada Air National Guard before his experiment in neighborhood policing, was arrested and booked on the charge of Battery with a deadly weapon. He was found guilty this past October and was just sentenced to up to six years in prison.

Dude lost his commission, is now a felon and a prohibited person, is out probably middlin' six figures in legal fees, and is staring at up to six years in the big house, all because he thought his carry permit was a Batman badge.

The part that gets me is that even after the kids got in their car to go, Batman and Robin decided to pass up an easy exit to the whole affair, and instead chose to escalate by blocking the car. In what universe was that a good idea?
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Surreal World

Yesterday morning on This Week With George Stephanopolopolopolous, Nancy Pelosi was sounding like she'd chewed up a copy of The Federalist Papers* and was regurgitating them all over the microphone. Suddenly the Democratic Party is all about the original intent of the founders and preserving the Constitution. When did San Fran Nan become a strict constructionist?

Jonah Goldberg had the same observation of this phenomenon as I did:
"Okay, now, here’s the point. Because of all of this, the only time either party talks about restraining the president’s war powers—or the deficit, or the debt, or federalism, or transparency, or a thousand other things—is when that party doesn’t hold the White House. In short, they are foul weather constitutionalists and statesmen. (It’s like so much of our political culture: Standards and principles are things you hold the other team to.)

When the other party holds the White House, legislators take to the floor of the House and Senate and wax prolix on the need to restore the constitutional balance, restrain the imperial presidency, check runaway spending, etc. But when their guy is in the Oval Office, Katie bar the door, let’s go for transformational change, baby.
"

*Next thing to free on Kindle, so you can harangue people with your favorite passages by reading them off your phone. Sure to be a hit at dinner parties!
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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Glug.

Sony RX100 in Program mode, 1/50th @ f/3.2, ISO 2500
I realized yesterday while running errands that the Mustang was still driving around on the remainder of the gas I'd bought in Terre Haute on the way back from New Mexico before Thanksgiving, so I went and filled the tank last night.

It was raining, so I huddled in the meager shelter offered by the station's tiny canopy...really just a small sunshade directly over the pump...on the opposite side of the pump from my car, so as to be in the lee of the wind and rain, and waited for the ka-chunk! of the automatic fuel shutoff.

Instead of a ka-chunk!, I got a glug-glug-glug as the fuel shutoff failed and gasoline gurgled from the filler neck and onto the ground. FML.
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Saturday, January 11, 2020

You can't displease all the people all the time...

...but you can get some of them butthurt pretty much every time.


A few months back, I had a review of the Sccy CPX-3 .380ACP pistol published in RECOIL Concealment. Long story short, Sccy sent a pistol and Hornady sent a bunch of .380 Critical Defense and I was going to do a 2k test on it.

The gun showed up with ten extra mags for a total of thirteen, was well-lubed right out of the box, and...didn't live up to expectations. There was no time to send the gun back before the deadline and so I had to write up what I had*. Sccy fans were not happy. I sent the pistol back to Sccy and forgot about it for a while.


After a bit, Sccy sent the pistol back, and I went back to shooting it with the remainder of the same batch of Critical Defense, as well as assorted other .380 ammo, and this time the gun ran fine for nearly seven hundred rounds. So I wrote that report, too. This time all the people who don't like Sccy were assmad.


Plus there were the usual weird comments...

Area of concern circled in magenta.
So no matter what, someone is gonna be mad. That's just the way it is.



*That's only the first third of the article at that link. The full piece in the print issue ended with the line "As delivered, the CPX-3 was unable to deliver," or something like that.
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Change in the Weather

The week started off a little warmer than usual for this time of year, with highs in the forties and clear skies letting overnight lows dip into the high twenties.

Cloud cover from the south-southwest started blowing up Thursday afternoon, and we've finished the week unusually warm and wet, with record rainfall in Indy yesterday. This morning we woke to more rain and 62°F temperatures. Before Sunrise. In January in Indianapolis. This is downright unseasonable.

The long-range forecast claims we won't be seeing normal winter weather again until week after next.
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Friday, January 10, 2020

...But Change Is...



Neil Peart has passed away. And so it goes.
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Overheard in the Living Room...

[offscreen sound of soft thump on front porch]
Me: "Are you expecting a package?
RX: "Actually, I don't know." 
Me: "Me either."
[sound of front door opening and closing]
Me: "Goddammit.
RX: "What?" 
Me: "Someone left a vermiform appendix lying on our front porch.
RX: "Is that the real Yellow Pages?" 
Me: "It's going right in the trash. When's the last time you looked something up in a paper phone book?" [mimes Robin Williams in Jumanji] "WHAT YEAR IS IT?!?
RX: "I'll bet if you called someone in the real Yellow Pages, they could tell you."


via GIPHY
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Automotif CLVII...

The Mustang on film: Canon EOS Elan II & Kodak Ektar 100, which Kodak claims is "(t)he world's finest grain color negative film!" (Exclamation point in original.)

When this car was new, the EOS Elan II, made from 1995 to 2000, was still a year in the future. Canon was still two years out from the half-a-megapixel PowerShot 600, its first consumer digital camera, and six years away from launching the D30, its first entirely in-house DSLR.
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Thursday, January 09, 2020

Sick burn!

Well that's pretty lulzy...


"Hello I am from the Microsoft Windows security services and you are having the problem!"

Imagine falling for that so publicly. MY. SIDES. No wonder he deleted the tweet.

Hey, Krugman! Let's play the "What's your stripper name game!" To find out your stripper name, just add your mother's maiden name, the name of your first pet, and the last four of your social security number. I'm Smith Fido 3725! Now you go...


EDIT: "I am from the Windows security service and your IP has been hacked and is being used to download kiddie porn" is *literally* the script of a hoary social engineering hack to get grandma and grandpa to hand over their passwords or otherwise get pwnt.

I know a bunch of internet-Right B-list pundits are falling all over themselves to claim that this was Krugman blurting out a CP confession, but it just makes them sound as technologically clueless as he made himself sound yesterday.

Okay, Q-boomer.
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Filters.

I need to go filter shopping. Colored filters are an anachronism in the digital age, but when shooting black & white film, they're important if, say, you don't want your sky to be an undifferentiated sheet of gray.

A photo I shot on, of all things, color film provided a handy illustration of this the other day.

I was heading back up to Broad Ripple from the downtown Roberts Camera store, sitting at the traffic light at College & 38th, when something about the light and composition of the view out the driver's side window caught my eye. So I rolled down the window and popped off a shot with the Elan II.

Here's the negative as scanned:


Straightened and cropped and minor fiddling with levels in Photoshop resulted in what I saw that made me take the photo.:


Although in this case, it was the light and texture and shapes that drew my eye, not the colors, so lets get those out of the picture and see what it looks like with just light and shadow and shape and texture...


And now we run into the undifferentiated sky problem (although not quite as bad as it would have been on black & white film).

This is where the filters come in handy in B&W photography. From yellow to orange to red, they'll add more pop to the sky (red makes vegetation look funky, too, and will make a blue sky look black and an overcast sky look apocalyptic.) Generally a yellow filter will give a result that looks natural to the eye. In this case, though, a simulated red filter had an additional side effect...


I can't put my finger on why, but I like this shot.

Note that this was only doable in Photoshop because the color film, like a color sensor, had all the necessary info encoded. You can't retroactively employ a yellow or red filter in P-shop to a B&W negative and get the same result because the film itself had "seen" the sky as an undifferentiated sheet of white or gray unless you interpose the filter in the shot itself.

I need to shop for some 77mm filters if I'm going to be doing B&W shooting with the Canon EOS-1N and L glass...
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Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Is that Dancer or Blitzen?

Whale, watching.

Mural in downtown Indy, shot with a Canon EOS Elan II and EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM on Kodak Ektar 100
Downtown Indy has some pretty cool murals.

I'm trying to get back into the habit of shooting film in an effort to try and develop something like an eye for this stuff.
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Confusion...


Some of the morning anchors *coughSavannahGuthriecough* look like they've been burning the midnight oil in anticipation of a great big shooting war that thus far fails to have materialized. Puzzlement is the order of the day.
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No Taps Back?

So, the current status of our game of missile tag with the Islamic republic seems a little lopsided to me, since in response to us blowing up one of their generals, they blew up some dirt near runways we've been using.

Iran's news agency is reporting a different story for domestic consumption, of course:
"Early estimates indicate heavy US casualties in Iran's missile attack," an informed IRGC Intelligence Department told FNA Wednesday morning.

"According to the reports sent by our sources in the region to this moment, at least 80 US arm personnel have been killed and around 200 others wounded," he said, adding that the wounded have been evacuated from Ein Al-Assad on choppers.

He further underlined the strategic importance of Ein Al-Assad airbase to the US, and mentioned that the military center provided backup for US army drones.

"Some 20 sensitive points of this base were struck by 15 missiles, resulting in the destruction of a considerable number of drones and helicopters," the source added, explaining that some of the targets have been destroyed in a single strike resulted from the high-explosive power of the warheads and serial explosions.

He reiterated that the US army was on high alert, but failed to show proper reaction.
There was also the typical death-to-America rhetoric from their maximum leader, telling the people that they had successfully slapped America's face and crushed our bones and the usual et cetera. I'd take this with the usual giant-sized salt lick.

Dude, if there were eighty fresh flag-draped coffins, wild horses wouldn't be able to keep NBC and CNN from reporting on that stuff, but if you want to call it even Steven at this point, I'm good if you're good.
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Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Training

I had a reader enquire after training opportunities in the Indy area, and I responded with a list of some places to look...and realized that I might as well put that list up where everyone can see it:
"My local gun store, Indy Arms Co., has a good training calendar.

Boone County Sheriff's Office has frequent open-enrollment training classes scheduled.

Also, if you go to the Massad Ayoob Group website or Rangemaster website and check their training calendars, they both swing through Indiana somewhere pretty much every year, as well as offer classes nearby in Ohio or Illinois.

Hope this helps!"
It looks like FPF Training will be in Terre Haute again this year, and Citizens Defense Research usually has a few classes a short drive away in Ohio. Most years see a Shivworks class inside a day's drive from Naptown, too.
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Endurance

"In September this year, the US swimmer Sarah Thomas (already holder of the world record for the longest open-water swim) completed another breathtaking feat of endurance. The Channel Swimming Association records 1,652 solo, observed, unassisted swims (no neoprene wetsuits or flotation devices) of the Channel since 1875. Thirty-four people have swum it there and back without stopping. Four people have swum it three times in a row (two men, two women). But only one – Thomas – has swum it four times. It took her 54 hours and 10 minutes, and though the crossing at its narrowest point is 20 miles, because of the strong tides pushing against her, she actually swam not 80 but close to 130 miles."
Ultra-endurance athletes are a whole different species. Interestingly, it's one athletic endeavor where women do extremely well relative to the guys, and researchers are studying why that is. It might be psychological.
"Paris tells me about another infamous ultra race she ran in 2015, the Dragon’s Back: five days, 315km and 15,500m of ascent in the Welsh mountains. “One of my role models is Helene Diamantides, one of the pioneers of women’s fell running. She said to us at the start of the race: look around the room. If you are a man, you have a 50% chance of finishing the race. If you’re a woman, you have a 90% chance. But then, there were far fewer women in the room. Because they have less ego, they wouldn’t turn up unless they were well-prepared. Whereas men can be a bit like, how hard can this be?”"

A Good Deal...

Paul Howe's book, Leadership and Training for the Fight, is on sale for two bucks in Kindle format. I have the dead tree version, but I added this to my go-anywhere library, too.
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Monday, January 06, 2020

Days of Future Past



"Catch and Release" it's being called. It's one of a suite of reforms that started in NYC and is now spreading to the rest of the state.

For all the criticism of the succession of mayors from Koch, to Dinkins, to Giuliani, to Bloomberg, there's no doubt that they made the trains run on time. Mayor de Blasio seems intent on enacting policies to return New York City to the years before Koch, when movies like Escape From New York and the cabbie vignette in Heavy Metal seemed like reasonable extrapolations from the then-current state of the metropolis.
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Sunday (With) Smiths

I got myself to the range again Sunday morning after Meet the Press, this time with a few .22LR revolvers.

PHLster Flatpack TQ holder, De Santis Clip Grip, and an older Dark Star Gear Apollo
I'd forgotten to scrub the chambers on the Model 34 Kit Gun and inserting the rounds was difficult, while extraction was nearly impossible. I had to pull the Spyderco out of my pocket and give the end of the extractor rod a few sharp raps to eject the shells. After a couple cylinders, I gave up and proceeded to the 43C. Even though the rounds were easy to load in the newer Smith 8-shooter, which was both much cleaner and had looser chambers to begin with, extraction was still super sticky.

Moving to the .22 Combat Masterpiece and the .22/32 I-frame was no relief. The Aguila was just super sticky on extraction. Nearly every cylinder required banging on the ejector rod with the flat of the knife handle. I think I'm going to set aside the remainder of this stuff as semiauto-only ammunition.
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Sunday, January 05, 2020

Plink, Plank, Plunk

Coincidence and Karma

A couple weeks ago I was driving to the gun store, listening to NPR, like ya do. I'd turned on the car in the middle of an interview on All IN, and it was quickly apparent that the interviewee was a veteran JSOC dude, and it sounded like he was pitching a book.

The interview was interesting enough that I wound up sitting there in the parking lot at Indy Arms for five minutes or so, waiting for the commercial break so I could hear the announcer give the old  "...we have to go to break, but we'll be back with more from..." because I wanted to read this dude's book, whoever he was.

The interviewee turned out to be CSM(R) Tom Satterly, touring to promote his book, All Secure: A Special Operations Soldier's Fight to Survive on the Battlefield and the Homefront. I purchased it the next day on Kindle and finished it in three sittings. Definitely a recommended read.

The coincidence part comes from a Facebook message I got from a friend just a couple days after finishing the book, leading me to this post, and this fundraiser:
Giving Back, LLC is a veteran-founded organization dedicated to providing top quality hunting and outdoor recreational opportunities for our heroes in uniform and their families. I have negotiated a lease for approximately 1000 acres in SW Virginia, however, in the process of getting everything to this point, it has depleted all of my available financial resources. Now it is up to me to provide equipment and management services for the property, and this is where the GoFundMe campaign comes in. I’ve been able to fund everything to date on my own, but this last little hurdle is standing in my way, and one we need to get over in order to make this dream a reality. 
In order for this lease to provide the type of outdoor recreational activities worthwhile for the therapeutic and cognitive rehabilitation we desire to provide, it will require equipment and substantial work to create an atmosphere conducive to supporting such important mental health therapies. These are not simple “feel good” things, or “fun activities” for our heroes, but merely the vessel by which meaningful healing can and does take place. We pride ourselves in being able to accommodate any disability, in conjunction with our partner organizations, in order to include every member of every family participating in an event. 
This property and project will be self-sustaining in terms of funding, if we can get through this next critical phase. This isn’t just a feel good thing to do, but something with real results that we have seen work firsthand, which is why we have partnered with veterans groups and nonprofit organizations to bring all of these resources to our men and women in uniform. After years of dealing with the horrors most of us never have to see, we help our heroes return to a sense of normalcy using proven therapeutic modalities, and by incorporating licensed mental health professionals at every opportunity. 
I am always happy to discuss the details of my plan with donors or potential donors so you understand exactly where each and every penny will be spent. Thank you.
Sean is legit and so is his cause. If you can help a friend, please do.
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Cats and lenses and stability...

Last year, when I was doing some experimenting with older DSLRs, I snapped this picture of Huck perched on his tree in the living room, using a Canon 40D. The only illumination was some sun filtering through cracks in the drapes behind my right-hand shoulder and a 60W-ish incandescent bulb in the floor lamp behind my left shoulder.

It popped up in my Facebook memories yesterday and a friend asked "Ooh, what lens did you use for this? Great subject isolation without doing it in post."

So I dug around and found the EXIF data: EF 50mm f/1.4 USM, shot wide open, 1/30th @ ISO 800.

The 50mm f/1.4 tends to be a little soft when shot wide open, and the lack of image stabilization contributes here, since hand-holding at 50mm lens at 1/30th of a second violates the old rule of thumb about not letting your exposure time be longer than your focal length. This all shows, here. You can't pixel-peep and count the whiskers even on the parts of Huck that are in focus...

But I still like this picture of him. And the f/1.4 aperture made it a picture of just him, and vanished the drapes just a few feet behind him into a smooth blur.
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Saturday, January 04, 2020

No, seriously, this timeline is weird...

It's complicated...

Paraphrasing from a discussion with a Facebook friend who is nearing retirement yet whose MOS puts him in the likely-to-be-deployed category yesterday, regarding the Soleimani takedown:
Him: "From a moral standpoint I’m dancing a jig, but from a policy and prudence standpoint I’m concerned." 
Me: "Sums up my feelings. The dude was the next thing to a walking, talking Bond villain. But he was also a very senior official in a sovereign state and playing these kind of tit-for-tat games gets dicey. 
Your average social media common-tater (thanks, Claude!) doesn't seem to realize that this is the de facto equivalent of some country deciding we'd messed with them too much and icing our VP. Are we going to sit on our hands and say "Gosh, we're deterred. Sorry!"?"
On the other hand...



I wonder how far the nearest historical EFP ambush site is from his smoking crater?

Live by the shaped charge, die by the shaped charge?
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This timeline is weird...

Imagine trying to explain this to someone in the Eighties...or the Fifties...
Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq early Friday, wasn’t just an infamous terrorist organizer and one of the regime’s most powerful officials — he was also one of President Trump’s social media antagonists. 
International experts have long known of Soleimani as the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force and the shadow commander of proxy conflicts across the Middle East, but many Americans first heard of the general in 2018, when he started arguing with Trump via memes on Instagram.

Friday, January 03, 2020

Hang Up and Drive



(Also, don't video yourself while getting your crime on.)

I was frankly surprised it wasn't a Mustang or Camaro.

EDIT: LOL. It was an '09 Nissan Versa SL, and he topped it out at a buck oh two, which probably took every one of the little 1.8 liter motor's 122 ponies.

I'm not surprised that it went inverted when he overcooked the offramp. Between the tall and narrow proportions and the skinny tires, it looks like could tip over while standing still in a parking lot.
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Security Theater

The first couple times I flew with guns, I borrowed a Pelican and some locks from Shootin' Buddy, but along about 2012 or so, I got off my butt and dug out my SKB pistol cases and bought a couple of Master Lock padlocks.

I made sure they were bright pink, so you could see them and so the ticket counter folks would know they weren't TSA locks. (You're not supposed to use TSA locks because any rando with a TSA key can get in.)

Then I took that lockpicking class from Uncensored Tactical... I sat up late on New Year's Eve, surfing the net and idly fiddling with my practice locks to keep my hands busy. When I got bored with my practice locks, I went and grabbed the locks I'd been using to secure thousands of dollars of pistols, carbines, and optics while traveling...


I mean, I knew that was going to happen, but I was still dismayed at the ease of it... Your basic Master Lock padlocks are pathetically easy to pick. I single-pin picked them on my first three attempts, totaling barely two minutes.

Now, realistically speaking, getting the locks picked on a case being transported by an airline is winning-the-lotto levels of unlikely. Even if someone was going to try and get into your stuff, they're not going to James Bond it; they're going to brute force their way in with bolt cutters or the like.

Still, I happened to have this set of Master Lock Magnums lying around unused. On the r/lockpicking chart, they're only one step up, difficulty-wise, from the little 136's I was using, but even that's a reassurance. I was able to get one to pop with a few minutes of diligent picking and a couple frustrating false starts; by comparison, I could pick the pink locks almost accidentally.
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SHOT Show on the horizon...

I'm megadosing vitamin C, stocking up on hand sanitizer, and have ordered comfy insoles and some extra memory cards for the cameras. I'm also watching the classic Manny Mansfield video to get in the mood:



Like most trade shows, when you register for a media pass, all the companies and their PR flacks get your email address, which means I've been cleaning the email inbox out with a snow shovel for the past month.

The worst part is that it's not specialized, so I'm getting notices for all kinds of stuff I could care less about. Precision Rifle accessories? Look, not only am I too poor to care about Precision Rifle, even if I had that kind of dough, I suck at math and my attention span is way too short. Also, while I could be talked into going and sitting in a tree stand for a few hours, there is a ton of esoteric Fudd stuff that holds no fascination for me. I dig that some people can get into knock-down drag-out fights over camo patterns and different brands of bottled deer piss, but that ain't my jam.

The weirdest emails are because at least one PR dude is not only in the gun biz but also reps in the music industry, apparently, and I get spammed with those emails, too. This just hit the inbox last night:

"DON McLEAN JOINS STYX, BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, WARRANT, LITA FORD, WALTER TROUT, FRANK MARINO & MAHOGANY RUSH AND MORE FOR ROCK LEGENDS CRUISE IX SAILING FEBRUARY 18–22, 2021"

Sponsored by Geritol!

Man, you know you're on the final glide slope of a career when you're playing the cruise ship circuit with whoever's calling themselves "Styx" these days.
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Thursday, January 02, 2020

Tab Clearing...


  • Is your brain just making magenta up?

  • "Epistemic Crisis": From my hotel room hobby of alternating nights watching Fox News and MSNBC, I agree that it is obvious that Americans don't agree on basic facts any more. It's like watching news reporting from alternate timelines. That's troubling.

  • The original DOS version of Accolade's game Test Drive is playable in your browser. That's a lot cheaper than this vintage, unopened copy on eBay, and you don't even need a 5.25" floppy drive to play it!

  • Buying guns in London with Bitcoin via Snapchat...

  • This is the article on Jane Jacobs that made me want to read her book Dark Age Ahead.

Servants of the Party

Chinese media has been issued a new code of journalistic ethics:
According to the code, journalists must "serve the people wholeheartedly" and be loyal to "the Party, the motherland, and the people." 
Reporters must ensure they have the correct mindset when covering issues relating to domestic affairs, with the code requesting that they "persist in arming the mind with Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era."
For some reason, "arming the mind with Xi Jinping thought" kicks my gigglebox right over.
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It's that time again!

Now is the time for all good pedants to point out that there was no year zero and hence this is the last year of the previous decade and not the first year of a new one.

While this may be technically correct (and for a pedant, that's the best kind of correct) most normal humans refer to decades by the digit in the tens column of the year.

So, here at VFTP Command Central, I'm going to milk that fact for some easy blogfodder for the next few days, in a desultory and intermittent fashion.
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Wednesday, January 01, 2020

QotD: Smith & Wesson Rules Edition


It's like the Jets and the Sharks out here today...
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