Sunday, May 31, 2020

It started out as a peaceful demonstration...

...and then the sun went down.

Well, the monument in the center of Monument know, the one to all the soldiers and sailors who died while ending the institution of chattel vandalized last night, before the rioters went on to trash other institutions of systemic racism, like Five Guys, Tower Liquors, and Fogo de Chao.

So far the festivities have been contained inside the Mile Square, which is several miles south of Broad Ripple. (An Indianapolis block is roughly a tenth of a mile, and we're north of 54th Street, so...about five and a half miles away as the crow flies.)

I bicycled over to Half Liter to pick up dinner, and their beer garden was doing brisk business. Mama Carolla's and Diavola Pizza on 54th were also thronged with al fresco diners, as were Fat Dan's and Moe & Johnny's over on College Avenue. Twenty Tap was still dark, which is worrisome. I fear my favorite SoBro eatery may not have survived the pandemic.

Friday, May 29, 2020


Really Bad Optics

Never pick a fight with a company that streams video by the terabyte.

At least one of the guys in that video is experiencing a potentially career-ending moment, while four are earning gold stars for their resumes.

Minnesota State Patrol needs to put their PIO's on danger pay, because all the walking back they're going to be doing in the near future is likely to cause repetitive stress injuries.

UPDATE: That was fast.
"Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz told CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker that he deeply apologizes for what happened and would work to have the crew released.

Jimenez and the others -- producer Bill Kirkos and photojournalist Leonel Mendez -- were taken to the city's downtown public safety building, but were released after 6 a.m. CT.



The biggest difference in local wildlife between back in Georgia and Tennessee and here was the squirrels.

The local squirrel population in Broad Ripple when I moved here seemed to be entirely made up of humongous red fox squirrels, which hadn't been a common sight in the piney woods on the shores of Fort Loudon Lake.

Sony a7 II, 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS

Lately, though, gray squirrels like this little fella have been moving into the neighborhood. Last year there were only a couple spotted in and around the huge oaks down around the south end of our block, but by this summer they've been spotted foraging as far north as the neighbor's lawn just to our south.

Nikon D5000, 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II


Here's a pretty decent interview with Marko in which he drops some hints about this winter's forthcoming seventh installment in the Frontlines series, Orders of Battle.

Of course I've pre-ordered. Have you?

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


(Tee shirt available here.)

My Adventures With Beef

I make no claims to any talent in the kitchen. I can do rudimentary breakfast cooking, do up a skillet steak, broil fish, and...well, we're rapidly exhausting my cookery repertoire with even this brief list.

So it was with some trepidation that I faced down the task of getting the roast ready for last night's stew. I needn't have fretted, because Bobbi left comprehensive instructions...

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Camera Nerd Humor

My 5D Mark II saw a lot more use than my 1DS Mark II.

Hey, look!

The latest issue of RECOIL: CONCEALMENT is on newsstands! I have a digital subscription on Kindle, but I snagged a dead tree copy from Walgreens yesterday because I have two pieces in this issue.

The first is the regular "Crap Shoot" column, which is a look at guns in the $200-or-less price bracket for personal defense. I think I picked a winner, but you may want to read for yourself...

Ruger P89 shot by available light with a ten-year-old Nikon D700*, using the secret technique of setting it on the clean white lid of a  Rubbermaid tub in indirect light in the garage with the overhead door open on a cloudy day. 
The second is a feature-length review of the Ruger LCP II in .22LR. Is it a plinker? A subcaliber trainer? A CCW gat in its own right? All of the above?

*Yeah, the D700 is "only" 12.1MP. So? We're only printing in a magazine; you can do a two-page spread easily with 10MP.

Books and boomsticks and memories...

Getting my nose out of social media so much by removing the Facebook app from my phone and iPad has definitely upped my reading. Sitting and reading fifty or a hundred pages at a stretch is a task that requires exactly the sort of extended focus that social media does not. (In fact, constant swimming in the fragmented world of social media, a world of short Tweets, Instagram photos with quickie captions, and two-minute YouTube videos may negatively affect the ability to concentrate like that.)

Anyway, I finished The Vampire Lestat on Friday and then plowed through Queen of the Damned over the weekend.

I'd forgotten what a good story the first three books of this series were. Cracking good stuff, back before Anne Rice fell down her own belly button with all the subsequent books. After these three it was just more and more words about less and less story, but I can't blame her for riding the cash cow until its legs give out.

Yesterday evening, I put down Queen of the Damned, and picked up The Dogs of War, by Frederick Forsyth. It will only be my second time reading it, with the first back in 2006.

I opened the book, and something fell out that got me all verklempt right there on the front porch...

Ralph was a kindly old gentleman who was something of a mentor. He always had a few tables at the gun shows in Knoxville and dealt in nicer collectible stuff: Old Smiths & Colts, Brownings, classic sporting arms like pre-'64 Winchesters, Lugers and Mausers, that sort of thing. He was a frequent visitor at the shops where I worked in Knoxville, since Shannon did all his gunsmithing and wherever Shannon wound up working, Ralph's patronage followed.

I've been working in and around the gun biz in one capacity or another since 1993, and literally my proudest moment in all that time was the afternoon when Ralph called me with a question on some bit of Smith & Wesson arcana or another.

Ralph passed away not too long after I moved up to Indianapolis, and I'll always miss chatting with him at gun shows.

Sunday Burgers

If you were to ask me, burgers benefit from grilling over hardwood charcoal more than any other kind of beef. With a sufficiently decent cut of steak and good technique, you can get perfectly cromulent results on a stovetop (especially if you like them rare), but there's no comparison between a burger done in a pan and one done over a charcoal flame.

On Sunday, Bobbi grilled up a mess of beef into about a dozen little slider-sized patties, such that about three of them wedged in between the halves of an onion bun, along with a slice of Swiss, to make for some tasty burgers. My theory is the bunch of little patties in there maximized the area of charcoal-seared edges, or something.

In the background there, to the left of the soda, is my best discovery from The Time of the 'Rona yet. Flatiron Pepper Co. Hatch Valley Green pepper flakes have come to not only substitute for red pepper flakes any place where I would have normally used those, but also substitute for fresh ground black pepper on all but the mildest of dishes. Food I'd normally strafe liberally with the pepper grinder gets just a dash from these instead. Recommend.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Tab Clearing...

Memorial Day 2020


Sunday, May 24, 2020

I'm not much of a pork chop fan...

...but the ones Bobbi cooked the other night were surprisingly good.


Two Sundays in a row!

There is a Sunday Smith post up over at the other blog.

Automotif CLXV...

This 1990's Buick Roadmaster Estate hearse was being used by a landscaper to haul flats of flowers.

The final years of the Roadmaster, they all shipped with the Tuned Port Injection LT1 5.7L V8, detuned somewhat to 260bhp from the 300bhp Corvette spec.

Even so, 260bhp is 260bhp, and the torque peak came in at lower RPM, too. So when combined with the relatively skinny all-season tires, lack of a limited-slip diff, and the aggressive throttle tip-in typical of domestic sedans*, it was hard for grandma or grandpa to get away from a traffic light without accidentally chirping a tire.

*In order to make them feel "peppy", it's common to have the first bit of pedal travel open a disproportionate amount of actual throttle travel.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Low and Slow Across the Ocean

Following a conversation with Marko about X-Plane and sim-flying ferry routes in a Cessna 172RG, a bit of googling turned up this neat BBC Magazine story on the pilots who ferry small planes on transcontinental flights and the dangers they face.

Antisocial Distancing

I pedaled into Broad Ripple Village proper yesterday on an errand, and also to scope out the new temporary layout for "Stage Two Point Five" or whatever we're calling this part of reopening Indianapolis, where restaurants are allowed to be open for on-premises dining, but only for outdoor or patio tables.

Broad Ripple Avenue from College Avenue to the Monon Trail, aka "The Strip", was closed to vehicle traffic to allow the restaurants and pubs to place tables out in the road.

It was pretty quiet for noon on a Friday, but the local news station sent a reporter down to the streets downtown, Georgia Street and Massachusetts Avenue, yesterday evening to see what the environment was like down there.

“Little things like this you take for granted when you can do it anytime, but now it’s like I really appreciate this,” said Eric Platt, seated outside District Tap with Alex Mendicino.

The couple came all the way from a still-shut-down Chicago, just to sit outside in Indianapolis and enjoy the food and fresh air.

“It’s a lot better than being stuck inside and sheltered,” said Platt.

How does that work? Chicago isn't very "shut down" if youse guyz drove all the way down here just to lick our nice clean Hoosier doorknobs with your nasty-ass Windy City germs.

This looks like exactly the sort of block party atmosphere that has kept me off Broad Ripple Avenue on evenings and weekends anyway, only now with the added bonus of possibly contracting an exotic disease.

Oh, well. I'm happy for the local business owners. I'll continue to patronize them on those off-peak weekday daytime hours.

Hot Zone

Northern Italy's nursing homes were hit hard by COVID-19, to the point that people are calling for criminal investigations.
"One of the hardest-hit communities in Lombardy is the town of Nembro, in the foothills of the Alps.

Of the 87 residents in Nembro's main nursing home, the Nembro Nursing Home Foundation, 34 died from the virus.

While law enforcement authorities won't comment on whether the home is under investigation, its director, Barbara Codalli, told CNN there are no allegations of wrongdoing against the home which, she says, never took in any Covid patients.

As soon as staff realized that the virus had spread to the home, Codalli said: "We decided to shut down the structure to families and to close the day care, even if we didn't know at the time what was actually happening, but with the feeling that something out of the ordinary was happening."

"We started using PPE, masks, not easily because finding them was hard, we found them at absurd prices," she adds.

But still, the home was overwhelmed by the virus, which Codalli said badly hit its staff, killing its president and one of its doctors.

Friday, May 22, 2020


Internet was spotty this morning for some reason. Spotty enough that I wound up tethering to my iPhone in order to be able to upload images at all.

What's frustrating is that of late I haven't been able to get more than two bars of signal here at Roseholme Cottage...maybe three if I step out onto the porch...despite the cell tower being a not-particularly-tricky rifle shot away. Seriously, it's like a block and a half away; when the leaves are off the trees, you can't miss it.

Thankfully, Indianapolis is thus far devoid of morons attacking cell towers to halt the spread of the 5G demons that spread ill humours and disease.

What the hell is wrong with people?

Apparently tired of having a job, a soon-to-be-ex-law firm employee in Texas typed a rant on social media, announcing that his Glock 21 and Hornady hollow points gave him more AUTHORITAH! than any rent-a-cop, especially the one who asked him to don a mask before browsing the arugula in Whole Foods.

I'm pretty sure that not even Texas will let you get away with smoke-cheking someone just because they asked you to cover your germhole.

Air-to-Ground, Air-to-Air

This cool article about a professional aviation photographer brought back memories...

So, back when I worked at as an assistant in an aerial photography business, I got to do all the work that involved hanging out the window of a Cessna with a camera because my boss got airsick in small planes. (He did the helicopter shoots, which is fine because I wouldn't get in a little Robinson deathtrap on a bet. If a helicopter doesn't have a turbine, I ain't flyin'.)

Anyway, this would involve going down to the Flying Club at Charlie Brown Airport in Atlanta and hiring a pilot and plane for the morning.

There were two pilots we usually wound up with and they both knew I was a plane nerd, and they vied to give me cool photo ops.

"Wanna fly over Dobbins AFB?"

"We did that last flight."

"We did? Oh, that must have been with Scott... Okay, wanna do a touch and go at Dobbins?"

We had to wait on a pair of F-15E Mudhens doing a formation takeoff, which I'd never seen from the air before. I was wishing I had a longer lens on my own AE-1 that I'd brought along on the flight.

I need to find those negatives in the attic.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

That was unexpected...

I'd been idly thinking that maybe I shouldn't have the window open so far while I wasn't there to supervise; the screen is kinda flimsy and it didn't take a lot of imagination to envision Huck or Holden shredding their way through it to try and reach a bird or squirrel.

What I didn't envision was a bounding cat having the inertia to pop the thing right out of its moorings.

Fortunately there was a happy ending, but given the speed of events, it's not ever getting opened that wide again even if I'm sitting right there.

Personal Skill Builder

It's a truism in shooting that we love to practice the stuff we're good at, because success feels good, and we hate to grind reps doing the things we aren't good at in order to get better.

Z3 at the range, Canon T50, FD 28mm f/2.8, Kodak 400 Tri-X

This is true in click-click shooting just like bang-bang shooting, and one thing I'm no good at is using wide-angle lenses. Get much wider than 40mm equivalent field-of-view, and I'm lost at sea.

So that's my next improvement project!

I already had an older Canon EF 17-35mm f/2.8L for my work camera, so I added a Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D for my play camera to the wide-angle battery, and I'm setting out to see how to use them to make good photos.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Pick a side!

Stage Two Point Five? One Point Seven Five?

As an obvious hot spot for COVID-19 in the state of Indiana, Indianapolis is taking a slower path to opening than most suburban and rural counties. We went into what the state government is calling "Stage Two" last week for everything except restaurants.

In the rest of the state, Stage Two means restaurants are open for dining in at fifty percent capacity. Here in Indy they've remained takeout/delivery only until this Friday, when they will be allowed to offer dine-in service...but only outdoors.

To allow restaurants in a few of the busier areas to have adequate outside space, the city is temporarily closing some streets, like Massachusetts Avenue and Broad Ripple Avenue, to traffic.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Personally, I think anyone who planned their commute to include either of those two streets had a screw loose anyway, but loose screws are common these days.

Pretty much...

Flying in Style

Here's a neat little retrospective on what air travel was like on the Concorde.

My favorite factoid in there was the part about Andy Warhol boosting the Raymond Loewy-designed flatware whenever he had the chance, to the point of asking a seatmate if she was going to take hers and, when answered in the negative, scooping it up for himself.

I was kinda hoping someone would offer replicas on Amazon, but no dice. The real deal is crazy expensive on eBay, as one might imagine.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Holden's Big Damp Adventure

Someone put water in Holden cat's favorite hiding spot, the monster!


Monday, May 18, 2020

I did not know that...

Via Brigid, I have learned that local Indy blogger Nathan Brindle has released his first self-published short story on Kindle.

I'll go ahead and buy a copy for review.

No lie was detected.

"Why won't you leave the house more often, hoomin?"

Regaining focus...

While I'm not abandoning Facebook, since it's a primary means of keeping in touch with friends scattered all over the place, I'm definitely throttling back use. Pursuing half a dozen separate slow-motion conversations, checking in every fifteen minutes for that dopamine's done damage to my concentration and attention span. I need to get that back.

Yesterday I went ahead and deleted the app from my iPad and iPhone. I can check in via the browser here in the mornings before I really get my day started, and check back in the evenings after dinner.

Also, while up in the attic on an errand for a future Arms Room post last night, I picked up my tattered paperback copy of The Vampire Lestat on a whim, and tucked into a dead tree novel before bed for the first time in years.

Depressingly, it's looking like I'm nearing that time...


People are losing their tiny little minds.

File under "Things I never thought I'd read in a New York Times op-ed"...
"So much for those resilient checks and balances I lauded to my Colorado neighbor. 
Back then, in the bygone era, he wrote to me: “No wonder Republicans are laughing at us. The billionaire politicians have complete control (besides the military at this point), no oversight, and most of their constituents are armed, some heavily, and ready to defend them. Roll over and die? What the hell? Time to even things up. To save this country. Hopefully, guns will always be a deterrent, but they may be our last hope to save this country. Time to gun up, liberals!”"

It's baaack!

After an annoyingly long hiatus, The Arms Room has a fresh Sunday Smith post up.

Smith & Wesson collecting, before the late 1990s or so, was pretty much confined to 19th Century revolvers, as well as some of the rarer or more exotic prewar 20th century pieces; Triple Locks, Registered Magnums, Bekearts and the like.

That's because for most of the 20th Century, collecting Smith revolvers would have been like collecting Toyota Camrys...or Glocks.

Then the abrupt collapse of the service revolver flooded the secondhand gun market with dirt cheap Model 10's and 13's and 15's and 586's. Not long after this happened, Colt's (who had only nominally been a player anyway by this point) exited the revolver business entirely; Colt's prices had already been high, but that sent the price curve on Prancing Ponies asymptotic.

As a result, during the decade on either side of the turn of the Millennium, Smith & Wesson revolvers were the Poor Person's Gun Collection. For the price of a new Glock, you could pick up three or four various ex-police K-frames.

This isn't the case anymore. With more money chasing fewer guns, I've been priced right out of the Hand Ejector market. Even fairly pedestrian Model 15s and Model 19s are bringing more than I paid for a 3" Lew Horton Model 629 back in 2002...double what I paid for it, in some cases.

But! Smith & Wesson autos are still underpriced for what they are, and there's a bewildering variety of them, which is the sort of thing that appeals to collectors. Other than the single stack 10mm guns, prices are still very reasonable for what they are. I think this is the next frontier in Smith collecting for the collector of limited means...

Sunday, May 17, 2020


Shot with the Nikon D3 and 24-120mm f/4 combo by available light at ISO 6400 in the office last night. It's routine now, but when the D3 first dropped, being able to shoot at ISO's of 1600 or higher and not have the result come out a noisy mess was a revelation.

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #182...

The Chiefs Special 9, or "CS9", was produced from 1998 to 2006, with the stainless version entering the catalog in '99.

DAO hammer-fired pistols were briefly popular in LE during the Nineties, before striker-fired autos came to dominate. This is because the biggest problem with traditional double-action pistols as duty guns isn't two different trigger pulls, all "crunchenticker" conventional wisdom aside, but rather the fact that undertrained people will not decock the pistol by habit after shooting. Trying to stuff a cocked P226 or 92FS back into a Safariland gun bucket can cause unexpected loud noises.

The pictured pistol is a CS9D, the DAO variant of the CS9. It's uncommon enough that it's not even listed in the Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson, 4th Edition. (Although the CS40D is listed. Perhaps unsurprising since the time this pistol was in the catalog coincided with the years that .40 caliber dominated the LE market.)

Another unusual feature on the DAO Chiefs Specials is that they are DAO by virtue of not having a single-action notch on the hammer. In other words, they are a true DAO, with re-strike capability and a full-weight, full-length trigger pull on each shot. The "DAO" 3rd Gen duty autos Smith sold at the time, like my 4046, had a trigger that was partially cocked by the slide and therefore did not have re-strike capability.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Strange Days Indeed


Primary Jostling

The last GOP Senate primary turned into an ugly three-way mudslinging contest, with each of the candidates and their supporting PACs spending gigabucks on TV ads trying to paint the others as anti-Trump haters of 'Murica.

Now I'm subjected to TV ads for the GOP primary for Indiana's 5th Congressional District, which we got gerrymandered into a few election cycles back. (Thus depriving me of my one electoral joy: voting for whatever Don Quixote the GOP trotted out to run against hereditary Congressman Andre Carson.)

Indiana's 5th District

See the little dingus in the magenta circle? Apparently there are too many Republicans in there to leave it in the 7th District.

Despite an enormously crowded primary field, only three candidates are bombarding me via the televised airwaves.

After that acrimonious Senatorial slog, which was ugly enough to draw national media attention, apparently negative campaign ads aren't focus-grouping well among likely GOP voters in the Hoosier State, because none of the candidates are even mentioning their opponents...

Carl Brizzi is running against the Chinese government.

Beth Henderson is bombarding me with the Hoosierest campaign ads I've ever seen...

And Victoria Spartz is flooding the airwaves, too, but her campaign ads are isolated on the net. They're on her own website or Facebook, but not YouTube, probably because YouTube is socialists or something. Embedding FB videos is a pain.

And that's been it on local network TV that I've seen.


"After running my restaurants for 17 years, including 10 years in New York City and Chicago, I've had a lot of time during these shuttered months to pore through industry and news reports, talk to colleagues and attend Zoom forums about the state of my industry. I have had a bird's-eye view of the crisis through the James Beard Foundation, where I am a trustee.

Though we restaurateurs have faith in our creativity and resilience, the prognosis is dire. Some 1,400 of us responded to a recent survey by the Beard Foundation and the Independent Restaurant Coalition. It predicted that months of closings, mounting debt and diminished capacity will kill perhaps 80% of America's independent restaurants."

Here in Broad Ripple, which is at its heart an "entertainment district" where restaurants and pubs form the backbone, there have been surprisingly few closures so far.

Although I patronized Next Door SoBro at least once a month...probably closer to weekly, actually...the news of their closing doesn't come as a shock. They're at the far southern edge of the gentrified area of Broad Ripple/SoBro and struggled to fill the dining room even when new. Patronage had been sparse the last few times I was there, and the takeout quality via DoorDash had noticeably dipped. The 'Rona likely just threw the first shovelful of dirt into what was already an open grave.

Brugge, while it will be sorely missed, is another that wasn't a total surprise. Rents at the mystical corner of Westfield and Westfield have got to be brutal, and the Basque joint that they opened upstairs cratered in a matter of months, which couldn't have helped the bottom line. This looks like an orderly retreat, though, and they're already hunting for a new location with lower overhead than smack in the middle of the Ripple.

If I had to wager a guess, I'd bet that the building they're in and the little one immediately to their south are owned by the same landlord who'd love to sell out to a developer, who will put in another of the four- or five-story Mixed Use Developments that are springing up like weeds in the neighborhood.

I remember when I moved here a dozen years ago, we jokingly called the teeny little three story professional building across the Monon Trail from the Brewpub the "Broad Ripple skyline". Good times. And so it goes.

It's a small world? Not so fast...

In a free-to-read piece, The Economist looks at the observable (and the projected) effects of COVID-19 on globalism:

"The world has had several epochs of integration, but the trading system that emerged in the 1990s went further than ever before. China became the world’s factory and borders opened to people, goods, capital and information (see Chaguan). After Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008 most banks and some multinational firms pulled back. Trade and foreign investment stagnated relative to gdp, a process this newspaper later called slowbalisation. Then came President Donald Trump’s trade wars, which mixed worries about blue-collar jobs and China’s autocratic capitalism with a broader agenda of chauvinism and contempt for alliances. At the moment when the virus first started to spread in Wuhan last year, America’s tariff rate on imports was back to its highest level since 1993 and both America and China had begun to decouple their technology industries.

Since January a new wave of disruption has spread westward from Asia. Factory, shop and office closures have caused demand to tumble and prevented suppliers from reaching customers. The damage is not universal. Food is still getting through, Apple insists it can still make iPhones and China’s exports have held up so far, buoyed by sales of medical gear. But the overall effect is savage. World goods trade may shrink by 10-30% this year. In the first ten days of May exports from South Korea, a trade powerhouse, fell by 46% year-on-year, probably the worst decline since records began in 1967."

The bellwether will be seeing how much new manufacturing capacity ramps up domestically later this year and early next year. We'll see. People tend to be iron towers of normalcy bias.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Brick & Mortar Chixculub

"U.S. retail sales and factory output registered the steepest declines on record in April, illustrating a recession so deep that it will likely take years to fully recover.

Revenue at retailers and restaurants fell 16.4% from the prior month, almost double the 8.3% drop in March which was previously the worst in data back to 1992, according to a Commerce Department report released Friday. That compared with the median projection for a 12% decline.

A separate report from the Federal Reserve showed industrial production decreased 11.2% last month, the steepest monthly drop in the 101-year history of the series. Manufacturing output plummeted by a record 13.7% amid declines in all major industries, the Fed said."

Retail sales just took an historic month-to-month nosedive. Considering the parlous shape that many malls and big-box outfits were in, this may well be a mortal blow to a big chunk of national retail chains.

Also, those aren't the only brick and mortar institutions poised for an historic reckoning...

Glass Classism

People who get into picture taking with their first DSLR will often go on photography forums looking  for advice on which lens to buy next, after the one(s) that came in the box with their beginner camera.

Most frequently, and especially in Canon-centric groups, the answer will be "Get the Nifty Fifty!"

On its surface, this is solid advice! Canon's EF 50mm f/1.8 is a lot of bang for the buck. Compact and lightweight, but sharp and with a fast maximum aperture, the "Nifty Fifty" would seem to be a no-brainer. Plus the 50mm prime has been a staple in any kit since the dawn of 35mm photography, since its ~40° field of view closely approximates normal human vision.

But when you buy that 50mm lens and you slap it on your beginner DSLR, which has an APS-C sized sensor, commonly referred to as a "crop sensor" since its small size crops off the outer parts of the lens's image circle, you wind up with a field of view that is much narrower.

On an APS-C sensor, a 50mm lens has a field of view equivalent to a 75mm lens (or 80mm on Canon's APS-C sensor, which is slightly smaller than everyone else's). That's closer to a "short telephoto" or "portrait" length. That's why the little look-a-Leica crop-sensor Fuji X-E1 that I use for playing hipster street photographer pretty much permanently wears a 32mm f/1.8 Zeiss Touit, which equals a 48mm in full frame terms.

But that's a middlin' spendy aftermarket lens. I bought it used, but even used, it was "used Glock" money. It doesn't really fill the "Nifty Fifty profile of being cheap & cheerful while delivering bang-for-the-buck.

Some manufacturers remedy this by selling dedicated crop sensor equivalents to the "Nifty Fifty" for their own systems. Fujifilm themselves make a decent little 35mm f/2 that sells for about two hundo, and Nikon (who use "DX" to signify APS-C lenses and cameras) have a crop sensor "Nifty Fifty" equivalent in the excellent AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G.

Canon, sadly, doesn't offer anything like this in their crop-sensor EF-S mount; the closest is the 35mm Macro which is, at $300 and f/2.8, too spendy and too slow to really be a "Nifty Fifty" equivalent.

Since I'm primarily a Canon shooter who only dabbles in Nikon for fun (and mostly old film or FX Nikons at that) I've only played with two Nikon DX lenses, the 35mm f/1.8 and the 18-200mm f/3.5.-5.6 VR II, and I've already come to the conclusion that, compared to Nikon, Canon never really gave much of a toss about crop-sensor glass.

Apparently once their 1Ds and 5D hit the market early in the millennium, with their big 35mm full-frame sensors, Canon was like "APS-C? Pfft. Let them eat cake."

Both EF-S and EF-M have a solid little wide-angle pancake prime, a decent macro and... Well, the EF-S 18-55mm f/2.8 is nice, and there's that new 32mm f/1.4 for EF-M that's almost $500, but otherwise crop-sensor Canonland is an uninspiring plasticky wasteland.

Canon expends a disproportionate amount of effort on their high end L lenses, but since their marketing seems largely designed to funnel people toward them red rings, it makes a certain amount of sense.

Most people who buy a Rebel or EOS M just to take vacation or family pics generally won't know or care, but a certain amount will get bitten by the photography bug and migrate upward. It'd be nice if there were more higher-end EF-S/EF-M lenses for them to go to rather than Canon putting all their glass eggs in the full frame sensor basket.

These times are getting too interesting...

"The US is upping military pressure on China amid increased tensions over the South China Sea and accusing Beijing of seeking to leverage the coronavirus pandemic to extend its sphere of influence in the region.

Over the last few weeks US Navy ships and Air Force B-1 bombers have undertaken missions aimed at sending a very public message that the US military intends to maintain a presence in the region and reassure allies.
Economy in the crapper? People at each other's throats over domestic issues? Pandemic causing havoc on the domestic front?

"What this country needs is a short, victorious war to stem the tide of revolution." -Vyacheslav von Plehve

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Signs of deflation everywhere around us, except...

"The Labor Department reported Tuesday that prices U.S. consumers paid for groceries jumped 2.6% in April, the largest one-month pop since February 1974."
The latest good news on the fiscal front.

Frankly, I preferred the murder hornets.

Also, the TV news anchor read it as "the largest jump in prices since 1974, nearly half a century ago." Y'all, I am not ready to hear years that I actually remember being described in those terms.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Automotif CLXIV...

The urethane snout and chrome rear bumper say "1973" but the badge on the hood says "LT1".


Currently off the Shelf...

After Relentless Strike, which covered the history of Joint Special Operations Command, and Killer Elite, which focused on "The Activity" (JSOC's in-house intel/clandestine unit), it seemed natural to continue the theme with Surprise, Kill, Vanish.

Published just last year, Surprise, Kill, Vanish is a history of the CIA's paramilitary and direct action work that starts off back at its WWII roots and specifically traces the use, "preemptive self defense against individual threats to America's national security" up through very recent history in Afghanistan.

There are a couple of typos/editing goofs that have the "ACKSHYUALLY" crowd in the Amazon reviews triggered (President Kennedy, a Navy Lieutenant, is at one point referred to as a former "Lieutenant Colonel") and claiming that therefore the rest of the book must be fiction, but people well read on the Phoenix Program or Billy Waugh's autobiography Hunting the Jackal, will find little shocking in this book.

It's well-written and a broad narrative that ties together stories usually read in more detailed chunks. Recommend.

Tab Clearing...

Imagine my surprise...

What kind of people gun up and jump in the truck to go make a "citizen's arrest" on a dude because he might be a burglar?

The same kind of people who leave pistols in unlocked cars overnight.
"But no string of break-ins was reported in more than seven weeks prior to Arbery's death and there was only a burglary report after a gun was stolen from an unlocked vehicle in front of the McMichaels' home, police said."
Even if you discount the prejudice angle, which I do not, these guys are just models of bad judgment.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

"...and they told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on..."

Here's an interesting and detailed story from The Philadelphia Inquirer on how community spread works:
"A spokesperson for CHOP said the doctor wasn’t required to self-quarantine after his trip abroad because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had not designated the country he visited as “Level 3,” or high alert, for the virus. The McCrearys would later find a Facebook photo of the cardiologist in Egypt. CHOP has refused to confirm the physician’s identity; a letter left by The Inquirer at his home was not answered.

Now, with thousands infected or dead, and many more afraid to leave their homes, the disease is imprinted in every corner of our minds. But when the McCrearys took their infant to CHOP, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania.

They had no idea they could become infected, much less spend five days in intensive care — or that they would unwittingly spread the virus to at least 20 of their friends and family members across communities and counties."
The reporter who wrote this did a great job of digging into the details and sticking to the facts. This is model journalism.

I feel awful.

Maybe you remember that YouTube video where the dude saw a double rainbow and got pretty excited about it?

When it came out, I made some comments that, at the time, I thought were cute and snarky, but in retrospect were terrible and shitty.

I never saw the followup interviews, showing this dude and his happy life, just doing his own thing out in the mountains and sharing his world online so other people could see the things that brought him joy.

How I found out about his life was that he passed away the other day.

Farewell, Double Rainbow Dude. I'm sincerely sorry for what I wrote about you. The world would be a better place with more people like you and fewer like me.

Truth in Advertising

I was doing some research on the Sony RX line of "luxury compact" digital point & shoot cameras and came across this dude's blog (which is a gold mine of film camera stuff, BTW).

I found that he reported the sensor size this way:
 "13.2 x 8.8, deceptive marketers (including Sony) call it a 1″ inch sensor, it’s actually 1/2″ wide or 0.52″ according to Sony."
Sensor size nomenclature can be confusing when you get away from the more photographically-oriented "Full Frame/35mm", which is the size of a 35mm negative (well, sort of...more on that later), and "APS-C", which is the size of an APS-C film exposure.

Smaller sensors are described with measurements like '1/2.5"' (in an iPhone XS), '1/2.3"' (most cheap P&S cameras), or '1/1.7"' (nicer P&S cameras). Most people ignore that as technical data buried in the instruction manual. If you ask someone what the size of the sensor was in the Android phone in their pocket or the Nikon CoolPix in their purse, they'd give you an answer measured in megapixels, not inches.

The disconnect comes when you run into the "luxury" or "enthusiast" end of the compact camera market, where the physical size of the 1" sensor in cameras like Sony's RX100 line or the Canon PowerShot G7/G9 is touted as a selling point.

Because the sensor itself is not physically an inch in any dimension. For that matter, a tiny 1/2.5" sensor isn't two fifths of an inch in any dimension either.

Small CCD/CMOS video sensors are labeled based on the size of video tube they replace. These tubes had a rectilinear imaging surface inside the cylindrical glass vacuum tube. Inside a 1" tube would be an imaging surface measuring 16mm diagonally, or a little less. When solid state sensors started replacing tubes forty years ago, they were labeled according to the tube they'd replace.

So to this day, a sensor 16mm (or a bit less) diagonally is still called a 1" sensor.

For that matter, "35mm" film is only 35mm if you measure from edge-to-edge, sprocket holes and all. "Full Frame/35mm" sensors are only about 29mm diagonally; there aren't any digital sprocket holes.

Just like we still "dial" and "hang up" our cell phones, even though phones with dials and handsets that you hang on the wall are a vanishing memory, digital imaging technology is still named after the analog technologies it supplanted.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Classical Nerdery

Interesting Twitter thread if you're into Ancient Rome or Victorian art...or both.

By Jove!

While we're on the subject of space, there are some really amazeballs photos of Jupiter here. By combining imagery from Earthbound telescopes, the Hubble up in orbit, and the Juno probe, they're finding a lot of neat stuff.

For instance, check out that ring of cyclones around the planet's south pole, and the amazing Hubble shot of the Jovian aurora borealis.

Floating in a Most Peculiar Way

Normally I'm not a huge fan of the "self portrait in a mirror" photography genre. It may have been gritty and cool on Tri-X with a Leica M3 back in the day, but by the time everyone was doing it in their bathroom mirror with a cell phone, it had gotten trite.

Still, I have to admit that this is some next-level selfie game...

Of course, the smooth-brained flat earthers immidiately showed up to display their lack of understanding of...well...everything.

She's shooting her reflection in a shiny surface, you dolt. Do you think that might bounce some fill light back at her? I know I frequently use that effect with poster board in the back yard.

Well, there goes my ability to even for the day.

Overheard in the Hallway...

If you suddenly blurt "Whoa! Blue dragons eat Portuguese man-o-wars and store their stinging cells in a sac to use for their own defense!" your roommate will be afraid that you've started dropping acid.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Airbase Peeping...

Thanks to the way air forces work, the ramps of most airbases are pretty dull to peep at from orbit. Take, for example, Barksdale AFB in Louisiana. It's the HQ of Global Strike Command and hosts the 2nd Bomb Wing. A B-52 is impressive, but scrolling past rows of identical ones parked on the ramp gets old.

However, if you look off the northeast corner of the base, you'll spot the Global Power Museum, which has some cool aircraft. All the usual bomber suspects from the USAAF & USAF, plus an Avro Vulcan, an SR-71, and a few interesting birds.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Plane Crazy

I tell you what, browsing around the ramps at Edwards AFB in Google satellite view today has been the most interesting thing I've done all week. Look! I found one of the old F16XL test planes just collecting dust in a back corner!

I wonder what those two things on the other side of the ramp are? They look familiar but I can't put my finger on it.

If you go down to the South Base you can see what looks to be one of NASA's Canberras and this Rutan-esque oddity I'm trying to identify.

EDIT: Putting on my google-fu, I searched lists of X-planes and came up with the Orbital Sciences X-34. Then I did an image search on "tandem wing" and found the Scaled Composites ATTT.

Friday, May 08, 2020

I needed this LOL...

The Hits Just Keep on Coming...

B&H Photo, which not only does online sales but also has an enormous retail store in Manhattan, announced that they were furloughing a fifth of their workforce.
"The 47-year-old electronics seller — whose Manhattan flagship is known for its Orthodox Jewish staff and the elaborate conveyor-belt system that moves merchandise around the shop — furloughed about 400 of its 2,000 employees on Wednesday, sources close to the company said."
I knew they were big, but I had no idea that they were two thousand employees big.

So, This is a Thing That Happened...

I'm trying to imagine explaining to 1994 me that someday the internet would be a place where Axl Rose gets into social media slap fights with the Secretary of the Treasury.
"It's official! Whatever anyone may have previously thought of Steve Mnuchin he's officially an [a**hole,]" Rose tweeted Wednesday night.

Less than two hours later, Mnuchin hit back at Rose, with a now-deleted tweet "What have you done for the country lately?" that some pointed out included an emoji of the flag of Liberia. Mnuchin tweeted the snarky response again and included an emoji of the American flag.

Rose took a jab at Mnuchin's flag mixup and responded, "unlike this admin I'm not responsible for 70k+ deaths."

"My bad I didn't get we're hoping 2 emulate Liberia's economic model but on the real unlike this admin I'm not responsible for 70k+ deaths n' unlike u I don't hold a fed gov position of responsibility 2 the American people n' go on TV tellin them 2 travel the US during a pandemic," he tweeted, apparently referencing Mnuchin's comments during an interview with Fox Business Network on Monday.
This is not the grim, acid rain washed cyberpunk dystopia I was promised. This is more like something written by a coked-up Stephen King channeling the ghost of Hunter S. Thompson with a ouija board.

Automotif CLXIII...

Pretty cool looking 197...8? Chevy Malibu coupe. Cool-looking enough that, although I got caught by the red light at 57th & College behind him, I noted which way he turned and drove that way to see if I could spot it when the light went green. Sure enough, there he was, parked just off 57th on Carrollton.

I circled the block while fishing the RX100 out of my shirt pocket, so as to have a good view out the driver's window. Dude was sitting in the driver's seat enjoying a burger and I gave him a smile and a thumbs-up, then made motions like I was taking a picture. He nodded and rolled his driver's side window up, I composed my shot, gave him another wave and thumbs-up, and drove on.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Acting Out

Remember what I wrote the other day about everyone being seemingly torqued down about three minutes of a degree from total thread strip?

Well, the examples are flowing freely now:

  • A dude in Holly, Michigan was shopping in a Dollar Tree, sans mask, and when an employee informed him that he needed to be wearing a mask to shop in the store, he said "Here, I'll just use this as a mask," and walked over and wiped his nose on her shirt, living a big ol' smear of snot. I would have pepper sprayed the bejeezus out of that jackass.

  • In Santee, California some dude decided that the best way to trigger them librul snowflakes was to use a Klan hood for a mask in the grocery store.

  • Back in Michigan*, the security guard at a Family Dollar in Flint told a shopper that her daughter needed to wear a mask or they'd have to leave the store. She flipped out, spit on him, and they were ejected. Her husband and her adult son drove over to the store and, while her husband confronted the guard about disrespecting his wife, the son shot the guard in the back of the head, killing him. The security guard left behind nine kids. Nine kids without a dad because some chucklehead got bent about being told to cover their kid's germhole.

*Seriously, Michiganders, this isn't a good look on y'all right now. Y'all be trippin' up there.

Monday, May 04, 2020

Stage 2

Today, Indiana enters "Stage 2" of reopening. Among other things, retail businesses can be open, but at half capacity, including malls (although the seating area in mall food courts will still be closed). Social distancing & masks are still recommended.

Click to Embiggenate
This doesn't apply to Lake County (Gary & southeast Chicago 'burbs) or Marion County (Indianapolis)*, which won't roll into it until next Monday**, or poor, hammered little Cass County, which remains shut-in until the 18th.

People have definitely started exhibiting pressure signs. Take this hot mess in Oklahoma, for example:
An emergency proclamation issued Thursday in Stillwater, Oklahoma, requiring the use of face masks in stores and restaurants was amended Friday after threats of violence.

"In the short time beginning on May 1, 2020, that face coverings have been required for entry into stores/restaurants, store employees have been threatened with physical violence and showered with verbal abuse," Stillwater City Manager Norman McNickle said in a statement.

"In addition, there has been one threat of violence using a firearm."
Oh, boy, how does that work?
Clerk: "Sir, the sign on the door says 'must be masked to enter'."

Customer: [pulls gun] "F$#k you this is 'Murrica, I know mUh rIgHts!"

Clerk: "Uh, the other sign on the door says 'no guns'."
"I'll put on a shirt and shoes to go into Waffle House, but asking me to wear a cool bandanna like a western outlaw to pick up drywall mud from Home Depot in the middle of some godawful plague is just a bridge too far!" This is Tiger King country, after all, I guess.

These days I've been giving J. Random Shopper the same wary wide berth that I'd give Mr. Angry Motorist.

I'm fairly avoidant under normal circumstances, but with everyone seemingly torqued down about three minutes of a degree from total thread strip, I'm the very soul of conciliation and ceding the space in the checkout line.

These are the last circumstances under which I want to get into a completely frickin' avoidable Use-of-Force incident.

*There will be a weird side effect to Marion County remaining locked down for another week while Hamilton to the north is allowed to open retail shopping to 50% capacity. Namely, businesses along the north side of the busy commercial corridor of 96th Street will be allowed to open, since they're in Hamilton, while the south side of the street, in Marion, will remain shuttered for another week.

**Bobbi points out that while the state's "Back On Track" plan may say May 11th for Marion County, Mayor Hogswatch has said that Marion County will remain closed down through the 15th, at least.

Sunday, May 03, 2020


Late afternoon Holden was much more chilled out.

Canon rumors...

A Canon rumor site claims that a new "high-end" EF-M camera is going to be announced.

I mean, if Canon really is planning to stick with the M as its crop-sensor mirrorless platform going forward this would make sense.

I think a four- or five-tier M-lineup is probably overly dense, given the parlous state of even the pre-Covid market. A return to an equivalent of the early three-tier digital days of the "1D/10D/300D" might be more prudent. So are they going to release a mirrorless equivalent of the 7D? We'll know by what lenses get announced; the current EF-M lineup is heavily biased toward sluggish-but-reasonably-priced zooms with only a couple decent primes, and no nicer zooms to act as the EF-M equivalent of the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8.

Related: I think the days of the extreme entry-level interchangeable lens camera market are only slightly less numbered than those of the fixed lens market.

Fixed-lens cameras, sometimes called "compacts" or "point-and-shoots", have mostly been reduced to specialty items like superzooms and ruggedized waterproof models, or boutique large-sensor/fast lens cameras that appeal to people who actually consider photography as a hobby. Most anybody who was going to balk at paying >$400 for a camera is probably going to be content with their phone.

I'm getting the feeling that the extreme budget end of the ILC market is fixing to go the same way; the Rebel SL and Nikon D3xxx sets you'd see at Target and Walmart may just go away.

People are rarely buying cameras...especially interchangeable lens ones...just to document family moments anymore. If they're setting out to buy a specialized ILC, it's because they want to take up photography as a hobby, avocation, or profession. When people do that, they start nosing around on the internet, where they'll see nothing but camera forum posters and photography blog contributors bagging on entry-level cameras and kit zooms as unworthy garbage for unserious people.

It's not necessarily true, but that's the perception.

Fight the brush!

Nikon D3 & 24-120mm f/4 @ ISO 3200...and look at the size of those feets!

Holden was being brushed. Sometimes the brush has to be attacked a little bit. Just before this photo was snapped, he'd actually succeeded in snatching the brush away from Roberta Ecks and was giving it a good kicking. By the time I got back with the camera, Bobbi had retreived the brush.

Soon Bobbi will undertake the quarantine project of knitting another cat from Holden's sheddings.

Saturday, May 02, 2020


The 122nd Fighter Wing (Blacksnakes) of the Indiana Air National Guard did a flyover today of most of the major health care institutions in the center of the state.

I messed up my timing and didn't get the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS lens on the camera in time, and so had to use the non-stabilized 70-200mm f/2.8L that was on the camera. The 50.6MP sensor on the 5DS is pretty unforgiving so the images aren't as sharp as I'd like if you zoom in.

They've got some stores on the racks; looks like a representative sample, with a Maverick and a Sidewinder and some other stuff.


So I'm looking at the county map of confirmed Covid-19 case rates per 100k population and it is, for the most part, a population heat map...except the darkest county in Indiana is not Marion, but...Cass county? Three thousand something cases per hundred thousand people? I'm scratching my head and thinking "The biggest city in Cass county is Logansport; I doubt there are a hundred thousand people there."

So I hit the Google and discovered the reason:
"Pork processing is labor intensive and conducted in a close-quarter environment that doesn’t afford much personal space. The virus has infected 890 of the 2,200 people in the Logansport plant in less than a week.

Serenity Alter is the Cass County Health Department administrator and she is expecting the numbers of positive cases to continue to climb."
Cass county's population is under forty thousand and they have over a thousand confirmed cases. And Logansport Memorial has only eighty some-odd total beds.