Friday, July 31, 2020

Easy Reader

I mentioned that I'd been doing the cleaning/decluttering thing for a set period of time every afternoon, and one of the things I unearthed was a little of the older ones...that I'd gotten as a hand-me-down from Marko several years ago.

I'd used it for a while, but it kinda got sidelined in favor of using the Kindle app on my iPad. In retrospect, that was a bad idea, and for several reasons:

  • For starters, laying in bed to read with that backlit LCD screen is just terribad for my sleep habits. I'm used to sleeping with a dim incandescent light on, but the light from the LCD screen is a very different quality. Yeah, you can put it in that special night mode, but I remain skeptical.
  • More importantly, an iPad has the entire internet distraction machine built right into it. I uninstalled the Facebook and Twitter apps, but Safari is still right there, just beckoning you to come check out a discussion on a forum or look at a news website. It's like a machine designed to fragment your attention span. This Kindle doesn't have any of that. It's just an e-book reader.

"But, Tamara! You could just read know...regular book!"

Indeed! And I'm doing that more often.

But I'm busily carting books out of the house by the carload and...well, I'd been taking them to Half-Price Books to sell, but the Time of the 'Rona means you can only do that by appointment and ain't nobody got time for that. Lately I've just been dumping them in the donation boxes of the Goodwill on Keystone Avenue by Glendale. Anyway, I've been semi-ruthlessly paring down the physical book library in the interest of reducing clutter. The intent is to get it down to books that have some significance to me, books I know I will want to reread at some point, and actually important-to-me reference material.

For recreational reading, Kindles are the berries. They're slim, light, a battery charge on this old one lasts for yonks because it doesn't have a light and the screen itself is very parsimonious with the electrons.

Anyway, I've tucked into To the Land of the Living and am enjoying it immensely.

O SHI...

[Bill and Ted] WHOAH! [/Bill and Ted]

This definitely brings balance to the Force.


So, I have an alarm set to go off every day at 4:30PM to remind me to do thirty minutes of concentrated de-cluttering/cleaning on one specific part of the house, or sorting and organizing one specific item or item category.

One day that particular task was rounding up scattered ammo boxes lying hither and yon about the house and sorting them into the appropriate storage area. In the process, I actually laid hands and eyeballs on my "in case of emergency, break glass" stash of pistol ammo for the first time in...well, apparently more years than I like to admit.

Up until early 2012, that stash was most of a case of .45ACP "Black Talon by another name" Winchester RA45T, buttressed by a few hundred rounds of Golden Saber and HST.

I know it's been a while since I laid eyes on the stash because it's currently centered on a case of Winchester RA9TA, which is the 127gr +P+ Ranger-T round, and I haven't carried those since...probably 2013?

There's plenty of other 9mm JHP on the shelves, too. I've got lots of war shots. It's the plain old shooting ammo supply that's more sketchy at the moment, simply because I have to have at least some of that on hand just to do my job.

Thursday, July 30, 2020


Nikon D3, 24-120mm f/4G ED VR @ 105mm, ISO 3200, 1/25 @ f/4
Holden will be very appreciative when this 'Rona crap is over and I start getting out of the house more so I'm not all the time all up in his grille with a camera.

I was just tickled with this one because I'm holding the camera one-handed while holding my left hand up in the air and wiggling my fingers to hold his attention while I snapped the shot. Considering the shutter speed was 1/25th at a focal length of 105mm, and I was one-handing a roughly three-pound camera with another pound and a half of lens hanging off the front, that Vibration Reduction is really pretty amazing.

Yummy brisket last night!

Here's a pic of it in the pan waiting to be served up:

Bobbi has the recipe up at her blog if you want to give it a whirl.

(The veggies turned out delicious, BTW, between the chimichurri and the brisket juices.)

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #186...

Another range day of building the round count on the little peanut butter colored FN 509 Compact MRD with the Trijicon SRO and Streamlight TLR-7. I am increasingly enamored of this red dot. This is the sort of HUD I was imagining on guns in sci-fi RPGs back in the Eighties.

(Well, I imagined it as a single frameless sheet of "transparent plasteel" or some such, but close.)

Focus on the target, put the gun in front of your face*, and when the red dot is on the target, pull the trigger normally.

The TLR-7 continues to impress, too. I remember when 500 lumens was a big frickin' deal from a full-size 2-cell WML; now it's a subcompact single CR123 output. According to Amazon, I bought the light on the last day of November and it's been on the gun all the way through the testing for the Shooting Illustrated review plus the shooting I'm doing for my Patreon page, so it's probably been exposed to around 2,500 rounds worth of muzzle blast so far and is still working and hasn't loosened any.

*Or, as Aaron Cowan put it in a very "light bulb" inducing fashion, "Put the slide cover plate in front of your nose." Proprioception works!

Automotif CLXXVI...

Driving home from Marion County Fish & Game yesterday, I decided to take the more scenic route, going up I-465 to 56th Street instead of the more direct route via 38th.

I found myself passing this tasty-looking '64 Pontiac Bonneville convertible...

As we came to the traffic light at Georgetown Road, he drifted into the left lane behind me. He was just moseying along, as one does in a classic droptop like that on a sunny day, and a gap of probably eight or ten car lengths opened between us.

When I caught the yellow at Guion Road and knew he'd have to stop, there was only one thing I could do: Pull off onto the shoulder, unass the Zed Drei with the camera, and wait for the light to turn green.

Aw, yes. That's some choice Detroit iron, right there.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Wait, what?

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #185...

Outtake from yesterday's photo session for an upcoming piece. I'll link it when it goes live...

Sorry for the delay...

Been typing over at the Patreon page and that post took longer than expected.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


Gun Toting Passerby Saves the Day

As Tom Givens is wont to observe, part of the reason that stories of private citizens using firearms to ward off assailants out in public aren't more common than they already are (and they're more common than most people think already) is that such a relatively small percentage of people carry outside the home* regularly.

Recently in Brownsburg, Indiana, a close-in suburb bordering the northwest corner of Indianapolis, there was just one such incident that made the local news, but which didn't seem to garner national attention.

A dude is sitting in his car at a traffic light (I've sat at that traffic light many times on the way to Brigid's old place) when suddenly a bullet punches through his car and he's hit by flying glass.

This is not a "bad neighborhood"; it's a sleepy suburban bedroom community. This must have been as startlingly out of place as an alligator suddenly falling out of the sky and landing on the hood of his car.

It seems that some dude had gone off his nut and started chasing a couple unarmed guys who were doing groundskeeping work in the cemetery there on the corner. He'd killed one and was chasing the other, firing wildly, when a missed shot hit the passerby's car.

Said passerby pulled out his own blaster and saved the life of the second victim by shooting the crazy guy and ending what could have developed into a regular shooting spree in a residential neighborhood, as the crazy dude had most of a 30-round magazine left.

Passerby wishes to remain anonymous, according to his attorney, Guy Relford.

*There are plenty of stories of private citizens using their firearms to thwart assaults and robberies, but in my observation a solid majority happen in the home or workplace and the gun is retrieved rather than drawn because most people who are legally able to carry guns outside the home don't make the effort or only carry when they "think they'll need one".

Monday, July 27, 2020

Hiding my own Easter eggs already...

Sorting out some half-empty boxes in a corner by the front door, I grabbed one that I thought was leftovers from a previous .40S&W project, for which I had ordered several boxes of Federal .40 hollow points in two different flavors:  165gr HST Tactical, which ships in the current Federal Premium packaging, and the XM40HA 135gr JHP, which is in the old blue and silver Federal boxes.

Anyhow, like I said, I'd walked past this box dozens of times over the last several months without really paying it any attention because...well, .40S&W.

But I figured it was time to sort stuff out and take a better inventory, and so I scooped up the six remaining boxes...two silver & blue and four of the new kind...and carted them to some shelves in the basement.

Whereupon I discovered that I had two silver & blue boxes of XM40HA and four boxes of Federal 9mm 147gr HST Tactical. With availability like it is right now, suddenly finding 200rds of premium JHP for work stuff is super handy.

Linky bits...

In keeping with the Nineties autoloader theme over at The Arms Room this morning, here's related linkery for further reading...

I did rather a lot of writing this morning...

...but it's all over at the other blog.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Holden, the Northern Floofloaf

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro, ISO 3200, 1/25 @ f/2.8

How many degrees of separation?

So I was sitting here checking my email, and there was one from Reddit with a list of new threads that some algorithm thought would catch my attention.

One of those threads was announcing that Olivia de Havilland had just passed away at the ripe old age of 104. Curious to see what Ms. de Havilland's later life had been like, I decided to scope out her Wikipedia article.

The only problem was that I had a bowl of Cape Cod Kettle Cooked Sweet & Spicy Jalapeno chips (tasty!) sitting where my keyboard should be and while I had a Wikipedia tab open, it was to the article on the overhead press, which didn't exactly link directly to Olivia's page.

Can't use a keyboard, gotta use hyperlinks, so...

Fortunately, there was a variant of the overhead press called the "Arnold press", named after Schwarzenegger, of course. Clicking through to his page showed that one of his early acting performances had been in a 1979 comedy flick called The Villain, where he appeared alongside Kirk Douglas.

As a young actor, Douglas's big screen debut was in a movie titled The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, where he starred opposite Barbara Stanwyck. Barbara, according to her Wikipedia page, is one of the actresses considered for the role of Scarlett in Gone with the Wind, which of course also featured de Havilland as Melanie.


Put that back where you found it. Right now.

"Scientists and archaeologists now believe, however, that the plague bacteria, which caused the medieval Black Death that killed up to half of Europe’s population, infected humans roughly 5,000 years ago in the Stone Age. The bacteria, after it had entered the bloodstream and likely killed the host, circulated into the pulp chamber of teeth, which kept its DNA insulated from millennia of environmental wear and tear. In the past decade, scientists have been able to extract and analyze that DNA.

The Stone Age plague was, however, an ancestor with a slightly different genetic identity. Tracking how those differences evolve helps infectious-disease biologists better understand what causes disease and how to prepare for current outbreaks. The plague bacteria in the Stone Age, for example, lacked the genes necessary to jump from fleas to humans, which likely spread the Black Death widely. Without the flea gene, the disease probably used another animal transmitter that came into contact with humans. In 2018, a University of Copenhagen team published the first evidence, based on early data three years before, that the ancient plague bacteria, found in a Swedish settlement, had the power to kill and may have threatened life in the age’s “mega-settlements” that could spread diseases quickly.

“It probably was the first pandemic,” said Simon Rasmussen, a genomicist at the university and lead researcher on the plague study. In the Stone Age, also called the Neolithic period, humans made unprecedented moves to gather in large settlements with up to 10,000 people in close quarters with animals and virtually no sanitation. “It’s the textbook place of where you could have a new pathogen,” he said.
Long story short, scientists wondering what could have wiped out some of the earliest large settlements of modern humans are digging up the skulls of neolithic humans to extract the DNA of the ancestor to the bubonic plague that killed them from the inside of their teeth and...Jesus wept, is never having seen a single horror movie a prerequisite for this job?

This reads like the plot of a self-published Crichton-Lovecraft fanfic mashup!

Supply Lines

Assuming the box of ammunition you just bought came from a brick-and-mortar retailer and was new-manufactured ammunition from one of the major domestic major manufacturers, it passed from manufacturer to distributor to retailer.

If it's imported, you can add the importer to that chain. For smaller manufacturers or commercial reloaders, the supply chain is even more complex, because they don't make any of their own components, but have to source those from the various "majors".

A big ammo crunch, like the current one or the ones in '08 or '13, will suck the supply chain dry back past the component level.

In other words, supply of cases and primers and the like starts getting sketchy because, firstly, handloaders scarf up the existing retail supply and, secondly, the majors have to start deciding how they're going to allocate their own supplies of primers, cases, bullets, and the like.

The problem is that when it gets this bad, the bottleneck moves back past the component level to the raw materials. Nosler and CCI and Olin need the raw materials to make more bullet jackets and priming compound and suchlike.

The difference between the Panics of '08 and '13 and the current situation is that right now supply lines use the technical term...all jacked up.

International shipping has been a mess. Truck drivers may have been "essential", but whether or not manufacturing workers or miners were could vary wildly from state to state or country to country.

People making bold predictions of how this is going to play out based on previous situations are talking out their ass, because the current situation is terra incognita.

I doubt any one person even has a faint global picture of the state of the industry right now. Everybody's feeling their way around an elephant: "Oh, Georgia Arms had plenty of remanufatured 5.56 in stock!" or "My local Bass Pro is sold out of 9mm!" or (my favorite) "My neighborhood FFL said..."

FWIW, here is a piece of news that affects ammo price and supply concerns at this point: "Workers at Antofagasta Plc’s Zaldivar copper mine in Chile accepted a revised wage offer, averting a strike that threatened to add to supply concerns in the metal’s top-producing nation..."

Saturday, July 25, 2020

How bad is it out there?

To put the shortages in perspective...

  • A friend who works for an online ammo seller noted in a conversation a couple weeks ago that they were pretty much completely out of 12ga ammo. All 12ga ammo.

  • A gun writer friend told me he'd hit up the site of an ammo seller he works with last week, and they didn't have a single SKU of 9mm in stock, and only one or two each of .40S&W and .45ACP.

  • Commander Zero checked RSR recently and, out of the nearly 2,800 handgun SKUs in their current catalog, only 55 had any inventory actually in stock.
I've been picking up the pace of shooting for work recently and that requires ammo. In the past couple weeks I've paid $0.40/rd for a case of S&B 115gr FMJ, and $0.30/rd for Tula steel cased 115gr ball. If you don't normally buy ammo by the case, these are case prices more typically associated with premium defensive ammunition from Speer or Federal, not budget imported ball loaded with funny-smelling floor sweepings.

Beggars Can't Be Choosers...

...but they should still be a little choosy.

Palmetto State Armory appears to have a sizable inventory of Mannlicher-Carcano M91/24 TS carbines in stock. In this time of ammo panics and gun shortages, someone caught out without a long gun might think that's a viable choice. After all, it's a former military-issue longarm, right? And what could be more rugged and reliable than a military surplus bolt-action rifle?

As a bonus, 6.5x52mm Carcano ammo may be expensive, but a quick check at shows that there's plenty of Prvi Partizan and Norma ammo out there to be had, unlike 5.56 or 7.62x39 right now.

There's something to be said for a short, fast-handling carbine in an intermediate military caliber like 6.5 Carcano, but there are rather a lot of flies in this ointment. For starters, the Carcano action is clunky and awkward; there's a reason you don't see it serving as a popular basis for sporters the way the Mauser and its derivatives are.

Secondly (and a lot more importantly) the rifle uses the Mannlicher system of feeding from en bloc clips. Each clip holds six rounds, and the whole assembly is fed into the open action, with the spent clip dropping out the bottom of the receiver after it's empty. Like the Garand, the rifle is a single-shot without the clip. Unlike the Garand, the world is not knee-deep in Carcano clips.

Even as a battlefield pickup, this would be a gray loot drop.

Baltimore Aeronautics and Space Association

"Condit dreamed the rocket, and the Uhler brothers helped build it. They used angle iron ribs, perhaps supplied by the same mill that contributed to the Capitol. They wrapped the rocket in sailcloth from another mill and shellacked it in varnish to create a hard shell. An air compressor was installed to spray liquid fuel into eight steel pipes that they had outfitted with a spark plug and a battery to ignite the gas. There was room inside for one man, with access through the removable nose of the rocket. They lined the interior with 1½-inch pipes meant to supply water for the journey and to help insulate Condit from the black chill of space. There were two glass portholes to see out. Condit had everything he believed he needed: flashlight, first aid kit, and a bow and arrows, which would come in handy for “procuring small game for food,” he wrote in notes uncovered by the filmmakers. There was no radio to communicate with Earth. He would try to build one from parts of the rocket when he landed on Venus."
An absolutely fascinating article on rediscovering an early American private space venture, one that predated SpaceX by almost eight decades!

Friday, July 24, 2020

Automotif CLXXV...

So, yesterday morning I was on my way down to Roberts Camera. I had a hundred bucks in store credit to burn and they had a used Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens for just under five bills. I have a non-IS 70-200mm f/2.8L, thanks to a reader who made me a deal on a well-loved but quite functional example, but it's a big chunk of glass to haul around the zoo or the range. The f/4 version is noticeably more svelte and I thought it might be a worthwhile club to add to the bag, especially since the price was so right and I had that trade-in credit burning a hole in my account.

Anyway, I'm rolling down Central Avenue to Roberts, since it's a straight shot from Broad Ripple, rather than going down College Ave and having to jog over to Central anyway somewhere between Fall Creek and 16th Street. It's a pleasant, tree-shaded avenue that runs through fairly tony neighborhoods north of 38th, but it's decidedly sketchier turf south of 38th, with more boarded-up houses and vacant lots, until you cross the bridge at Fall Creek and get into the largely-gentrified Fall Creek Place neighborhood.

And right there, just south of 34th, I see something that causes me to pull the Zed around and park and get out with the camera.

Buicks of this vintage are not my specialty at all, but this is looking like an early postwar Super or Roadmaster.

Just a stunningly eye-catching auto; a Harley Earl classic that is heavily influenced by the lines of the original "Y Job" concept car.

Anyway, after exchanging waves with the lucky owner, I got back in the Z3 and continued to Roberts. They'd sold the lens by the time I got there, but I didn't consider the trip a waste.

The times continue to get more interesting.

"The first signs something unusual may be happening at the Houston consulate emerged on Tuesday, when people overlooking the building's courtyard noticed several bins on fire.

Footage shows people throwing what appears to be paper into the bins. It is not known who they were. People were later filmed appearing to pour water on the bins."
I mean, when that's happening at a consulate or embassy, it's hard to interpret it as anything other than the burn barrels being used to destroy sensitive materials.

Both Beijing and Washington seem pretty eager to have outside threats to distract from internal failings. Hopefully it just remains at the level of angry posturing.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Automotif CLXXIV...

This 1964 1/2 Mustang convertible was parked out for sale locally, and eye-catching enough to cause me to park and dodge across traffic with the camera. Once again glad I keep the little RX100 in my pocket.

A 260 V8, automatic transmission car with less than sixty thousand original miles...and a $39,995 price tag. Yikes. I really haven't been paying attention to the prices on these.

The tl;dr version...

Just now finishing up a curiosity reading of Bolton's alleged tell-all, The Room Where it Happened. Unless all your political news consumption comes from a single-viewpoint source...and a shallow one at that...the book contains very little in the way of surprises.

Bolton writes coherently and understandably, but he's no author. The book is organized, such as it is, more by issue than chronologically. So you start off with the activities that led to Bolton's appointment to his gig, and then you follow a single topic chronologically...say, North Korea or Iran...from Bolton's arrival until resignation, before picking up another thread.

This is not how you write an engrossing page-turner. As a matter of fact, it's a bit of a slog.

Like most people who feel compelled to write a memoir, Bolton's the hero of his own story. He's distinctly not a fan of Mattis, personally or politically, and can't resist being snide any time their agendas crossed, which was frequently.

His opinions on Pompeo are more ambiguous; ideologically they were on the same side of most issues, but career bureaucrat Bolton occasionally feels the need to dunk on Pompeo, who he sees as a politician with ambitions and who views the Sec State gig as a stepping stone to further offices.

Trump, in Bolton's view, is portrayed as a dude completely in over his head on matters of national security and foreign policy.

While Bolton is definitely a hawkish interventionist on security matters, with no qualms about a little regime change if he thinks it will further American security and interests, he's not a fan of nation building. In the book he calls it out for being based on a flawed and fundamentally Marxist proposition: The idea that if a people have stable lives and jobs, they will be too happy and busy to be mean ol' terr'rists and hate America.

I think if one wants a complete library of the current political era, it's definitely worthy of a place in it, but if you're expecting a spicy and titillating page turner of a tell-all, shop elsewhere.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Sizing Error

Monday's range trip, I decided to do a bit of "just for fun" shooting in addition to the monotonous pew-pew-pew of trying to build up the round count on a test gun. And few things are as "just for fun" as the little Vz.61 Skorpion in 7.65 Browning, aka .32ACP.

Had a couple of interesting malfunctions before it was noticed that somehow some 9mm Browning (aka .380) ball had found its way into my .32 Auto ammo can. The two rounds have identical case head dimensions, with the semi-rimmed .32 having a smaller diameter case, and so are easier to confuse than most.

I need to make some time to weed it all out.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Where do people get these ideas?

Someone on Quora, the internet's current arguing hotspot, asked the following question:
Can a neighbor legally point a security camera at my property, land, garage or home? If so, how can I stop it?
To which the answer should be "Duh."

If I can see your house from a public street or my own property, I can stare at it until my eyes fall out or I get bored. If I get bored staring at it, then I can park a camera there to stare at it for me.

If you don't like that, move somewhere where people can't see your house from their property or the street. Or build a privacy fence or something. But the idea that it's illegal to look at you is some preschool-tier nonsense. Deal with it.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Post up at The Arms Room...

Hark, a wild Sunday Smith appears!

Musical Interlude

A Different Flavor of Panic

The firearms industry is currently in the throes of a second wave of panic buying. The first was kicked off by the early days of the 'Rona, when people decided that an extra AR15 and a case or three of ammo was necessary to defend their stash of hand sanitizer and toilet paper.

The second wave was kicked off during the protests and riots following the killing of George Floyd. It still seems to be going strong and at this point it's highly unlikely that supplies will return to anything like normal before it's time for the Great American Quadrennial Election Year Gun-Buying Freakout.

This current panic has a different flavor to it than most, though. Available evidence shows that there are a large number of first-time buyers looking for something to defend home and hearth, rather than existing gun hobbyists adding a twelfth or thirteenth AR15 to an existing collection.

Exhibit A would be that, while budget AR15's have disappeared from dealer shelves, there's no real shortage of lowers, lower receiver parts kits, or completed uppers at most of the vendors I've checked. You may not be able to buy a Ruger AR-556 or Smith M&P15 at your local gun store right now, but you can go to Palmetto State Armory or CDNN and buy the parts to build all the ARs you want.

That was not the case during the '08 or '13 panics, where stripped lowers were rationed and you couldn't find a LRPK or BCG for love nor money.

What this tells me is that the current wave of buyers is not largely made up of hobbyists fearing bans, but non-gun-owners wanting to buy a firearm for home defense. Those people don't know about buying a Poverty Pony lower from CDNN and a blem upper from PSA and rolling their own; they just know about going to the gun store and buying a gun.

The other signal is that the quintessential American Normie Home Defense Long Gun, the 12 gauge pump action, is selling like hotcakes and sometimes at crazy prices...

If you're looking at those prices and thinking "Hey, I've got that old Fuddblaster 28" Wingmaster I bought when I thought I might take up bird hunting. I should put a shorter barrel on that thing and Gunbroker it!" then I've got bad news for you, because it looks like you weren't the only person with that idea...

This reminds me that I need to change the batteries in the light on my own 870...

Saturday, July 18, 2020

I should be dry-firing more.

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #184...

I haven't worked with my carry gun from the holster in a depressingly long time, which also means that the 124gr +P HST's in the magazine have been in there for about six months. So before dumping more rounds through the 509 Compact at the range yesterday morning, I did some "draw-and-fire-three-shot" strings on steel at about 17 yards. The results were depressing.

Best first shot was 2.30, and the slowest involved grabbing a handful of gun burkha on the way to a glacial 2.89 first shot.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Automotif CLXXIII...

Pretty sure this is a 1966 Cadillac Calais, which is essentially a De Ville with a lower level of trim and amenities. Even this relatively downmarket Caddy still cost >$5,000 in 1966 dollars.

Under the hood is a 429c.i.d. V-8 rated at 340 SAE gross horsepower. Next thing to nineteen feet long and weighing over two and a quarter tons, this is a whole lotta car.

Range Day Yesterday

Deets are at the Patreon page.

Weather was cloudy and not too hot, but unbelievably sticky. Eye pro was fogging up just standing there.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Automotif CLXXII...

A post shared by Tamara Keel (@tamarakeel) on

Looks like a '75, last year of the convertible 'Vette for just over a decade.

Here it is without the Prisma filter, from the other side.


They sent up everything but smoke signals.

We're now two-thirds of the way done with Season Two of Stranger Things.

In retrospect, and given the overall themes and settings of the second season, once Paul Reiser showed up I should have seen the straight-up Aliens homage scene looming inevitably in the distance. I twigged to what was about to happen just soon enough to let out a little whoop, which must have confused Bobbi, because it's not exactly a happy sequence or anything.

I ain't even mad. That was perfectly done.

Like Cheating...

Even on a nice summer day where the relative humidity in Indianapolis is low, the pistol bays at MCF&G can be a little sticky. You've got a beaver pond about a hundred yards to your left and Eagle Creek a dozen yards to your right. On a day that's both humid and sunny? Some shade can make a huge difference. I eagerly voted for those shelters during my time on the board.

Of course, this time of year, if you didn't bring your own target stands, it means you'll be shooting the steel from ~20 yards out if you want to be in the shade while doing it.

When shooting a bitty little compact like the 509C, sticking a good red dot like the Trijicon SRO on it can make this a lot more easy. I need to see if I can buy this test unit. Thus far I'm liking it in use more than the regular RMR. I know they're less rugged, but I'm not fast-roping out of helicopters with a knife in my teeth somewhere in the outback of Absurdistan with it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Late Bloomer

The last daylily bloom in the neighbor's bed just north of the porch catches the late afternoon light...

It looks kind of lonely, what with most of the plants around it being all done blooming for the season.

Canon EOS 7D, EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM

It looks like a couple of the plants around it have a bloom or two left to go, but this was the only one blossoming yesterday.

I am informed via Facebook that the about-to-blossom buds are edible and are an ingredient in hot and sour soup, among other dishes.

Stumbling Down the Road

I've been doing a pretty good job of getting out of bed with the alarm, drinking water first thing, eating at least something for breakfast, taking my multivitamins, and getting in a timed seven minutes of exercise before starting my day.

Yesterday I didn't, and I definitely noticed the lack.

Today I did. Tomorrow I will, too.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Tick Tock

Monday, July 13, 2020

I'm sure it indicates something.

I don't really track precious metals pricing intently. I keep a very small stash, mostly as a pro forma thing. Adolescent me who read doomsday stuff, fictional and otherwise, knows you're supposed to have some for TEOTWAWKI.

So I keep my inner kid happy with a small stash even though I know that canned food and a few cases of 7.62x39 or 5.56 would be far better barter goods in any situation where I'd have to swap things for stuff in a post-apocalyptic flea market.

At any rate, I idly wandered by the online precious metals vendor I occasionally patronize and noted that silver is still generally tracking along that price plateau it's been riding since mid last year, up a few bucks from the trough it had been in earlier last year. Huh. Wonder what gold looks like. Let's click over and and...yowza!

Gold is up $400/oz since this time last year, and $300/oz since the first of January. It's at near-historic highs, over $1,800/oz. Doubleyew-tee-eff?

Quick, to the Googles!

There's a problem with "going to the Googles" to find news on gold price trends, and that's that the first three pages of search results...even on a news search...go to the blog sections of various precious metals sales sites or day trader sites that are tagged as news and then SEO optimized to-hell-and-gone. I'm looking for WSJ OpEd-style thinkpieces and not thinly-veiled ads for e-gold.

I got five or six pages of search results in before finally giving it up as a bad idea and settling for a couple fairly lightweight pieces from Forbes and CNN Business that will at least give me links and keywords to come back and search better this afternoon. At least they're not disguised gold commercials like you'd get at KitCo or directly selling investing advice like Seeking Alpha.


It's aways interesting to write something and then see how other people read it.

I figured I was writing a piece on how SEO has wrecked easy-breezy news searches in certain specific .biz-intensive areas. (I can only imagine trying to find solid news pieces on vitamin research.)
The internet seems to have read it as me writing "What do gold prices?"

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Failure Mode

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

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

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

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

He fidgeted a bit in dead silence.

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

Bobbi heard me and hurried into the room.

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

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

It was 9:39AM.

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 10, 2020

Pew! Pew! Pew!

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

Something for everyone...

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

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

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

Automotif CLXXI...

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

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

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

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Speaking of bicycles...

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

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

That's just my flavor of weird...

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Original Gangsta

Others have noticed, too.

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

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

It's alive!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Everything's Turning Into Tulip Bulbs

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, July 05, 2020

Testing, Testing...

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

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

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

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

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