Monday, April 12, 2021

Tab Clearing...



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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Yummy!

Improvised turnip latkes! For details, see Bobbi's blog post here.

Also, Improvised Turnip Latkes is the name of my next band.

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CV, Eh?

You might not have known that as recently as the 1960s, the (then) Royal Canadian Navy operated an aircraft carrier with an embarked squadron of all-weather jet interceptors.


Other than the USN and USMC, the RCN were the only other operators of the McDonnell F2H Banshee, using it to replace piston-engined Hawker Sea Furies.


For those interested in nautical trivia, Canada finished WWII with the world's fifth largest navy in 1945. Part of that is due to its wartime expansion, of course, and the other part is that so much tonnage of formerly-Top-Five fleets was rusting on the bottoms of the world's oceans.

Rolling Legos

Someone sent me an IM this morning wondering if I'd be able to identify a particular Volkswagen. It wasn't a Volkswagen, though, but rather one of the innumerable kit cars based on the Beetle platform.

Like the Beetle, the Citroen 2CV was based on a chassis that was basically a self-contained motive platform and the bodywork can be easily replaced with whatever. This caused me to wonder if the Deux Chevaux is as popular for kit cars as the Beetle. A trip to Google did not leave me empty-handed...


Another popular base for kits is the Fiero, since the entire car is basically a drivable unibody rollcage with attached plastic bodywork.

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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Automotif CCIX...

198(1?) Citroen 2CV Charleston

The deux chevaux is one of the most iconic autos ever, if very rarely spotted on this side of the Atlantic. Like the Volkswagen Beetle, its design originated in the Thirties as a way to democratize automobile ownership in its country of origin.

In the case of the 2CV, the program began as the TPV (Toute Petite Voiture – "Very Small Car") in an attempt to motorize rural French farmers. It was envisaged as an "umbrella on four wheels" that could keep a driver and a passenger or two dry while transporting a reasonable amount of stuff to or from market at a pace faster than walking alongside a farm cart. The convertible top wasn't for breezy motoring, but to accommodate oversize loads (it originally unrolled nearly to the back bumper.) The long-travel suspension was to allow light off-road capability; specifically, to be able to cross plowed fields.

The bare-bones people's car is an entire interesting genre of cars, beginning with the Ford Model T and most recently showing up as the Tata Nano. Few have been as successful as the 2CV, though, which is in the rarefied strata with cars like the Beetle and original Mini, selling millions of largely unchanged cars over a four decade sales run. The pictured car is a "Charleston", a cosmetic special edition introduced in 1980 to eke out nostalgia sales for the (by then) extremely dated model.

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Friday, April 09, 2021

It's not (quite) the Zombie Apocalypse.


The headline is money:
Monkeys were reportedly on the loose in Cincinnati. Police have yet to find them.
Also of note is that the monkeys were spotted in a graveyard. Could this be an alliance between the zombies and the face-eating monkeys? Or, worse, could it it represent an unholy zombie/face-eating monkey hybrid?

If people ask "Why do you need guns?", you just point out the zombie face-eating monkey menace.

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The original meaning of "flash gun".

"Bandit's Roost" by Jacob Riis

Jacob Riis explored the warrens of the Manhattan's Lower East Side, documenting the tenements filled with recent immigrants in the late 19th Century. He became famous from his photographs, which served as the basis for his book How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York. If you have some notion to use your time machine to return to live in the Gilded Age, a few minutes perusing the photographs will probably cool your ardor; you can practically smell some of them.

Bandit's Roost was among the blocks demolished to make way for Columbus Park. It would have been just ahead on the left in this street view.


Flash photography was in its infancy at the time. Flash powder, developed by Germans Adolf Miethe and Johannes Gaedicke, was used by loading a scoop of it into a bowl attached to what was essentially a percussion revolver frame and pulling the trigger. The cap would ignite the charge and, presumably, startle the bejeezus out of the subject. Not wanting to crawl through the most violent corners of the Big Apple pointing a gunlike object at people, Riis would instead heap the magnesium powder in a pan and pop it off manually.

He's simultaneously considered one of the forefathers of photojournalism and flash photography.

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Asking the important questions...

Thriller



One episode away from wrapping up The Night Manager as our dinnertime entertainment. Apparently after two failed movie projects, this six episode series was deemed long enough to give the original 1993 novel by John le Carre a proper treatment.

My quibbles are minor things. Some of the hardware seen on the list of smuggled arms is a little fanciful (I don't care how big and well-connected a billionaire black market arms dealer is; he's not peddling Trident missiles) and the uniforms and equipment on the US troops appearing briefly in episode 5 drew a chuckle, but it's not like I'm expecting a BBC production to get the gun stuff right anyway.

The plot twists and turns satisfactorily. The protagonist is both enigmatic and sympathetic, which is not an easy combo to pull off.

The choice of the leads, Hiddleston and Laurie, is brilliant. I had no idea that Hugh Laurie could be so... so... malevolent.

The series is free to watch if you have Amazon Prime. I'm definitely down to read the novel now.



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Thursday, April 08, 2021

79% lowers when?

Well, I just sat through Biden's speech in the Rose Garden so you didn't have to.

Thoughts in a bit.

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"Bobbi, don't look!"

It's mostly just idle daydreaming, but this car has Bobbi written all over it. Heck, I wouldn't kick it out of the garage for leaking electrons, either. The styling is drop-dead gorgeous.



I noticed it via a piece about electric runabouts at CNN. It's probably vaporware, but at least it's good looking vaporware.

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Overheard in the Kitchen...

Me: "...and if someone's lying there in a hospital bed, twenty-four hours away from a certain death from terminal cancer, and someone pops into the room and shoots them, that's still homicide."

RX: "But did they die 'of bullet wound' or 'with bullet wound'?"

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Excuses...

Finishing up some work this morning. In the interim, have a picture of Huck looking surly at having his nap disturbed.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #199...

A couple hundred rounds into the Shield Plus test for Shooting Illustrated now. The Dark Star Gear Hitchhiker for the regular Shield works a treat, as should be no surprise.

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Monday, April 05, 2021

Overheard in the Hallway...

Me: "I could totally live in a neighborhood full of Mormons and Sikhs."

RX: "You say that now, but wait 'til the Great Mormon-Sikh Riots of 2022."

Me: "They'd be polite and orderly riots, and you know they'd pick up their mess afterward."

Overheard in the Kitchen...

Pork Loin

Bobbi had another winner on the grill Saturday night, with a variation on her favorite theme. There are photos.

I'm beginning to think that the capers and some kind of nutty, savory fungus are the keys to the whole thing.




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Sunday, April 04, 2021

Eaters of the Dead

When I headed downtown to drop the TacCon film off at Roberts Camera, Bobbi asked if I'd do her a favor. She said she had a roll of medium format black & white film that she wanted to get developed. When I looked at it, it turned out to be a roll of Ilford XP2.

"You're in luck!" I told her, "This is a special type of B&W that gets developed in color chemistry, and they do color processing on-site in their minilab!"

Downtown Indy, Christmas Eve 2014, Leica R4, Ilford XP2

Only when I got downtown, I learned that they couldn't process it on-site. Oh, they did C41 color processing right there, alright, but the machine they used wouldn't handle film wider than 35mm. The old machine they'd used at their Carmel store would, but when they'd relocated everything to the downtown store, they downsized the machinery.

I mentioned that I'd gotten my hopes up because the Noritsu 901's I'd used back when I worked in a minilab would process medium format rollfilm, even if we couldn't print anything from the negatives there on our machinery. "Noritsu 901's? That's the good ol' days..." was the response. And he was right; it's been thirty years since I've been on the other side of a photo lab counter.

Turns out, nobody's really making automated minilabs these days. They used to be everywhere. Every drug store, every amusement park, every big supermarket or big-box store had a machine in it, mostly made by Noritsu, that would process C41 color process film while-you-wait. They were ubiquitous. You know, like tube testers.

Now the tiny remnant of camera stores and photo labs that are left are basically cannibalizing the vast graveyards of the old "One Hour Photo Processing" industry that entirely collapsed over a decade ago.

While film has seen an explosion in popularity relative to a few years ago, those numbers are entirely relative; it will only ever be a tiny niche hobby. The thing is, the majority of film shooters don't process their film at home, especially C41 color film which requires higher temperatures and is more finicky than traditional B&W chemistry. And the number of people who do process their film at home isn't enough to prop up the manufacture of C41 chemistry. One day the last old Noritsus and their ilk are going to shudder to a stop, uneconomically repairable, and then...?

We're in a similar situation with cameras. Other than a couple semi-disposables and the Veblen goods marketed by Leica, which are priced like a good used car, there's pretty much nothing being made in the way of 35mm cameras right now. We're shooting 35mm in cameras that are, at the newest, at least a decade or more old.


While old mechanical rangefinders are, theoretically, nearly infinitely repairable, most cameras aren't. The Canon EOS-1N I was shooting with last weekend is a beast of a camera; rugged and weather-sealed and as tough as Canon could make it, the better to stand up to the rigors of use by professional photojournalists. But it's eventually going to succumb to something unrepairable, and they aren't making any more.

Oh, well. I'll enjoy it while I can.

Tennessee Tourist Shirt, Summer 2015, Canon EOS-1N, Agfapan 25

Oh, and Bobbi's film? I've got a couple rolls of slide film I'm going to need to send to The Darkroom in California, so I'll put hers in the envelope with them.

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Automotif CCVIII...

Porsche 718 Cayman GT4

Flash Bang

When photographing people shooting auto loading pistols, one always hopes to get some dramatic brass-in-the-air shots. With revolvers, getting a chance dramatic range photo is a lot trickier, but it happens sometimes.


That's Chuck Haggard shooting 158gr .38 Special from a Ruger LCR. Lee Weems of First Person Safety was teaching his Revolver Essentials class and saw Chuck walking by and pulled him in to demonstrate the grip he uses on small snubbies for recoil control*. It appears that his recoil control game is on point.


*It's basically a "c-clamp" grip, with the firing hand holding the gun high on the backstrap, and the support hand wrapped around the firing hand, thumb over the top, in a crush grip.
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Saturday, April 03, 2021

Meaningful Moments

As I mentioned earlier, while I was at TacCon, I had a personal side quest...

Massad Ayoob and Chuck Haggard

I had thirty exposures left on my last roll of (now discontinued) Fujicolor Pro 400h, a color negative film meant for portrait work, and I meant to use them to capture images of my friends there. Having a finite number of exposures, and an actual fiscal cost associated with each press of the shutter button, made me think carefully about when and why I pulled the camera out of the bag.

Sarah & Jon Hauptman

It was kind of funny having to be so careful with those last frames, because the the camera with the film in it was an EOS-1N, the penultimate 35mm Canon pro body. With the battery pack "power booster" on it, it'd shoot six frames a second, burning up those last thirty exposures of Fuji 400h in a quick count of "five Mississippi".

John Johnston

When I got home, I couldn't wait to get the film down to Roberts for processing. In the interim, I discovered that I had one last roll of 400h squirreled away that I hadn't seen, back those weeks ago when I'd heard it was being discontinued.

I ain't mad about slowing down and making those thirty exposures count for something. Now I get to do it thirty-six more times.




Friday, April 02, 2021

April Fooled?

Here's a tale about an...er, interesting Craigslist interaction.
Not long ago, I got my old computer back from servicing and put it on Craigslist. Immediately I got a message from a nice woman who said she had researched computers and mine was just what she was looking for. One small problem—she lives in the area, she said, but she's on vacation, and could I please accept a cashier's check, deposit it, and then hold the computer for her movers, who would pick it up for her?

She offered $500, and I accepted. I had paid $177 to the Macintosh specialist to check its functions, physically clean it, wipe the hard drive, and install a fresh operating system. So I won't be getting much in the balance. But then, it's old.

At least it sold quickly. Isn't that nice?

And she followed through! That was a pleasant surprise.

When the check arrived, however, I was surprised to find it was not for $500 as we had agreed upon. She had sent me $1,950...
Mike's handling of the thing was interesting and inspiring and you should go and read the whole thing.

Also, I really should start thinking about a new computer.

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Star Trek convention or Star Wars bar?

Posted here mostly so I can find it easily in the future is a link to a 1996 piece comparing CPAC to a Star Trek con:
In short, Trekkies are to average television fans what Iranian Shiites are to average Muslims -- or what CPAC attendees are to average Republicans. In that spirit, we attempted to boldly cover CPAC as no one has ever covered it before, by attending both a CPAC and a Star Trek convention for a straight-up comparison.

In 1992, W. Hampton Sides wrote a book called Stomping Grounds, a study of subcultures featuring everyone from aging hippies in the Rainbow Gathering to geriatric caravans cruising the country in Airstream trailers. "We've become a land of refined fanaticism," Sides wrote. "We choose our flavor of lifestyle and go deep in."

It's hard to imagine anyone as deep-fried as CPACers, many paying thousands of dollars and travelling hundreds of miles to sit through panel discussions such as "Restoring American Citizenship," "Whither Whitewater?" and "Agenda '97: Holding Government Accountable." Of course, there is the additional puppy treat of meeting the rock stars of the conservative movement, like Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Floyd Brown of Citizens United, and Howard Phillips of the Conservative Caucus.

While interviewing subjects, I made no bones about the analogy I was exploring. I quickly became known as "the Star Trek guy." Said one former conference organizer: "Good, you'll be doing all normal people who attend a valuable service." But Catherine Dawson, who was manning a vending station in Washington's Omni Shoreham Hotel, cautioned me: "I've been to Star Trek conventions," she said. "Sure, at both conferences you get a lot of people that think they are a Klingon or they are Buchanan -- but it's not like CPACers are going around wearing uniforms or anything."

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Saved by the Bag

When we arrived back at John's place at 0mygawd30 in the morning on Tuesday, I went to move my car in the driveway in case anyone needed to go someplace in the morning before I came up for air.

Problem was, the keys to the Zed Drei were in my suitcase in the cargo compartment of the SUV. So we opened the tailgate with the remote switch...

(You know how airline pilots have a canned warning about how the luggage in the overhead bins may have shifted during flight? Yeah, this is going to be like that.)

So, anyway, as I was hopping out of the passenger door, John poked the button to open the tailgate on his Passport.

The tailgate rose and there was a loud thump as my Think Tank Airport Advantage slid out of the cargo compartment and hit the driveway.

Folks, if you're going to drop your cameras onto concrete from most of five feet in the air, I recommend that they be Canon pro bodies in a Think Tank bag.



Sad But True

Carrying in comfort...

I hear an awful lot about how it's impossible to sit down while carrying a pistol in the appendix position, or to drive while carrying anywhere inside the waistband. This is never not amusing to me because I haven’t taken a roadtrip without wearing a pistol in an IWB holster since Saddam Hussein still had a house to call his own.

This trip to and from TacCon was no exception. Last Wednesday evening I drove the Zed Drei from Indianapolis to the exurbs of Cincinnati, which is a short hop of only a little over two hours, and then Thursday morning John Johnston and I departed for Dallas in his Honda Passport. That’s an interstate slog about fifteen hours long. Then we repeated it in the other direction on Monday.

I was carrying the pistol and holster I’m carrying every day and everywhere this year: the FN 509 Compact MRD with a Trijicon SRO optic and Streamlight TLR-7 light in a Henry Holsters Spark light-bearing rig, strong-side at about the 3:30 position. I was carrying that because I believe that rather than having an array of guns and holsters for special instances, it’s best to find a gun you run well and a holster you can wear in comfort, and use that same combination of gun and holster as much as possible. I don’t have a "Sunday gun" or a "roadtrip holster"; I just have my carry gun and my carry holster, and I carry them.

Meanwhile, John has just spent every bit of thirty hours driving halfway across the country and back with a Glock 45, complete with optic, WML, comp, and a spare 24-round magazine, in a Dark Star Gear Rigel attached to the PHLster light-bearing Enigma AIWB rig. Better than that, he was wearing yoga pants on the way out and sweat pants on the return voyage. 

The Enigma really is something all future-y, like from science fiction, since it divorces the ride height of your AIWB pistol from the waistband height of your pants, which is the single biggest comfort issue with appendix carry.

Visible in this picture: John Johnston
Not visible in this picture: comp'ed G45, Holosun 507, Surefire X300, spare 24-rd magazine

The above photo was, according to my iPhone, snapped somewhere just this side of Texarkana on the return trip, by which point we'd already been on the road several hours.

The Enigma is no barrier to adequate performance on the draw, either, as John's performance in the match proved. In the main match he placed eighth overall in a competitive field that included shooters like Gabe White and Scott "Jedi" Jedlinski, and in the 16-shooter man-on-man finals, he made it into the second round before getting eliminated by the dude who would wind up finishing second. And John was in basketball shorts.

JJRG in the process of winning the first bout


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

But what if it's both?

Saw this on social media today.


It is, of course, nonsense. It's part of the same artificial American pop culture dichotomy that insisted people are "jocks" or "nerds" or "preps" or whatever in high school. 

John Hughes movies are not real life. Erase that nonsense from your mental map and let yourself be a well-rounded human being.


Don't play that divisive game. This ain't high school and it ain't the Eighties. You're as cool as you wanna be.

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Always Be Learning

John and Vicki Farnam at TacCon 2021

John and Vicki are legends in the training industry. Defense Training International was one of the first of the traveling training programs and they're still out there doing their thing.

All weekend at TacCon I saw John and Vicki either on the line in other instructors' classes or standing back and observing. This is a good sign in my book.

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Got the feel for it.

An occasional point of disagreement between my ex and I was whether or not it was possible to discern that one particular tire was low or not. 

I said that of course it was, based on certain handling signals, as well as feedback from bumps that spanned the width of the car's track. He insisted it was not, because he was sure he'd read about some test where NASCAR drivers couldn't.

Driving home from Cincy today, the right-hand tires felt a little soft over bumps and handling was a little greasy in left-hand sweepers at 80MPH or so. "I'll bet those passenger side tires are a little low," I mused.

Pulled off at the next exit, got the gauge and compressor out, and checked. Six pounds down in front and five in back. Left side was fine.

Drive a car for twenty years and you kinda get a feel for it.

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Made it home!

Wheels down safely in Indianapolis. My email inbox is probably a disaster area, my luggage is still in the car, and my office chair feels like it's doing ten over, but all this can be sorted out.

Bobbi and the cats were glad to see me and Holden let me pick him up and cuddle him. I've done a lot of peopleing over the last couple days, and even though it was with my favorite people on the planet, this is still a thing...



Monday, March 29, 2021

Focus and Composition

I've just spent the weekend wandering around at TacCon with a camera... well, not a camera, but rather a pair of cameras. A way to avoid losing time switching lenses and maybe getting dirt on the sensor is to have two bodies ready to go. 

I wanted a camera handy that was set up for whatever shot might pop up by surprise...


I wandered TacCon with the Canon 5DS wearing the 24-105mm f/4L and Canon 5D Mark II with the 70-200mm f/2.8L around my neck. I had a couple other lenses in the bag over my shoulder just in case, but also in the bag was my EOS 1N with a roll of Fuji 400h. My last roll of Fuji 400h.

Knowing I only had twenty-something shots left on that roll of film really put the brakes on when and why I pulled it out of the bag.



Thursday, March 25, 2021

Automotif CCVII...

The one time I leave the house without a real camera, I find myself swerving into a parking lot to take cell phone photos of a Renault 4L, which are the opposite of common on American streets...




Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Coming Out Swinging

Internet-friend Chris Cypert's first post at his shiny new blog is a doozy.
"We often encounter people whose self-image is radically divorced from how we see them based on their actions, and we wonder how they could see themselves so differently from how they “really are.” This conflict between self-image (who we think we are “on the inside”) and the image we project to the world through our actions is a common and pernicious problem which keeps people from soberly assessing themselves and their lives. People refuting their failings in conduct or character with “That’s not me, I’m a really nice guy/gal on the inside,” is a cancer on our lives as a destructive as it is common."
It's a long, chewy read and you should go read the whole thing. 



Chris is one of the better thinkers I've run across on social media and I have massive respect for him and have really high hopes for his blog. I'm looking forward to meeting him someday.

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Bottlenecks

When I was down in Georgia last November, I found myself wishing I had a lens longer than the 24-120mm on my camera to get better shots of the MV Golden Ray, lying on her side in St. Simons sound. She wasn't an enormous ship, as ships go, being some 660 feet long. Still, something the length of two football fields just lying there on its side tends to attract the eye.


The big yellow arch is actually the superstructure of a salvage catamaran, the not-very-romantically-named VB-10,000.

Golden Ray is only not very big by current ship standards because current ship standards have to take into account monsters like US Navy carriers, supertankers, and gigantic container ships like the Ever Given...


Ever Given is big. Really, really big. Like, so big that if you nailed an eight foot long two-by-four to the bow, you'd have just made the ship a full quarter mile long. So big that some people have noted that she might be larger than the size class known as "Suezmax". (The Suez Canal doesn't have locks, so overall length isn't as hard a limit as it would be on the Panama Canal... I mean, unless you turn your ship sideways or something.)


The effect on the global shipping trade will depend on how quickly this traffic jam can be cleared.

If the authorities in Egypt are able to free the Ever Given from the channel and move it to the side of the waterway within two to three days, the episode will be a minor inconvenience to the industry. Shipping companies generally build in extra days to their schedules to account for delays en route.

But if the ship’s extraction proves more complex, leaving the Suez blocked for longer, that could pose a substantial risk for an industry that is already overwhelmed. Global maritime trade has taken a hit over the last year because of the pandemic, pushing Egypt’s revenues from the canal down 3 percent to $5.61 billion in 2020.

“If that’s going to be a knock-on delay, then you’ll see piling up and bunching up of ships on their arrival in Europe as well,” said Akhil Nair, vice president of global carrier management at SEKO Logistics in Hong Kong. “It’s just one more factor that we didn’t need.”
The news reports are saying that control was lost during a bad sandstorm, causing the bow to run aground and the ship to slew sideways. "If a butterfly flaps its wings in China and causes a sandstorm in Egypt, how late will Hans's PS5 in Stuttgart be?"

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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

D'awwwww!

Automotif CCVI...

This local T-bird has been photographed a few times by me over the last several years, but it looks like the owner's decided it needs to find a new home.

If you've ever wanted to roll in a 390-powered Sandshell Beige '61 Thunderbird, the phone number's in the photo below:


Monday, March 22, 2021

Secrets of the Internet

Automotif CCV...

Ah, the BMW E30 325i ragtop... Along with the 944, it was the "It Car" for the popped collar crowd in the late Eighties and early Nineties. 

This guy is keeping it period correct, with the white lace BBS alloys and the protective discs behind them to ensure that brake dust doesn't soil his white rims...and cooling air doesn't reach his fading brakes. For some people the goodness of the looks is more important than the lateness of the apex.

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This timeline is weird.

In automotive industry news that would have made almost zero sense to high school aged me, Volkswagen Group has shuffled the corporate org chart and moved Bugatti under the umbrella of Porsche AG.

While the Bugatti name getting revived in the late Eighties was a surprise, watching the boutique maker flounder and collapse was not. But then watching VW buy the name and revive the concept was a surprise again, as is the fact that it's hung around better than twenty years now.

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Sunday, March 21, 2021

Rationing


For the most part, I've always paid for the majority of my ammunition for testing out of pocket, but I do remember when getting a case or two of ammo to show up on the front porch for purposes of an extended test was as easy as an email, or even just an aside in a social media post. Not right now it ain't...

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Analog v. Digital

No, I'm not talking about analog versus digital the way you think.

In the Eighties, digital dashboards were all the rage in cars. In a Cadillac Allanté or Aston Martin Lagonda, the digital dash let you know it was sophisticated and modern. In a Chevy Corvette or Dodge Daytona Turbo Z, the digital dash let you know it was on the technological cutting edge and performance-oriented. In a Toyota Cressida or Subaru XT, the digital dash let you know it was Japanese.

It was about this time that Minolta launched the Maxxum 7000, the first interchangeable lens SLR with built-in autofocus and automatic film transport. While the lens aperture and focus were controlled via a mechanical linkage to motors in the camera body, adjustments were performed via electronic buttons. 

Shortly after, Canon's new Electro Optical System cameras severed all mechanical connection between the lens and the body. Focus and aperture adjustments on EOS cameras were (and still are) controlled by motors and electromagnets in the lens itself, with commands relayed via electrical contacts to the camera body. 

The current setting for shutter speed and aperture is displayed on an LCD screen on the camera and adjusted by twiddling a dial or dials. Cheaper cameras make do with a lone dial. In Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority, the dial adjusts the user-selected variable. In manual mode, one would need to rely on a button to serve as a sort of shift key to allow the single dial to switch between shutter speed and aperture.

LCD display and single control wheel of a Canon EOS Rebel S, which was Canon's entry level 35mm camera in 1991

This will be familiar to modern DSLR shooters since it's basically the same control layout used on most interchangeable lens cameras to this day. Even Canon and Nikon's pro bodies were dual-dial setups by the Nineties and, with good ergonomics, these can be super-efficient. Values for aperture or shutter speed can be manipulated with finger or thumb without taking one's eye away from the viewfinder, with the values indicated in the finder itself.

Thing is, if you pick up a powered-down camera, there's usually no way to tell, at a glance, what the settings are. 

Which brings me to Fujifilm's digital offerings, like this X-T2. They buck the trend with manual, analog, click detent knobs. They've got locking buttons to keep you from inadvertently jostling settings, and the knurled texturing and positive detents make them a joy to use.

Fujifilm X-T2 with Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8

When I was using the Sony NEX-5T, a7, and a7 II for work, my biggest complaint about them...well, other than the dismal battery life...was that their physical controls and internal menus systems felt like they'd been designed and laid out by some guy who was transferred to Sony's camera arm from the stereo controls or medical imaging printer division the week before; there was no... no... no camera-ness to them. 

They're slowly getting better with each iteration, but it's an uphill slog for them; Sony basically bought their way into the serious camera biz by acquiring the remains of Minolta's camera operations from Konica Minolta. Their photographic lineage is about as deep as the roots of Birnam Wood; their heritage is video and consumer point & shoots, and it shows.

Fuji's offerings are the opposite of that. The hardware and software feels like it was done by camera nerds who've lived photography all their lives. They know their target market.

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Miami Beach is not amused.

Apparently the street party situation in Miami Beach has gotten a bit out of hand of late, what with people traveling there to get their ya-yas out. The city's mayor has taken to CNN to vent:
"If you're coming here because you've been pent up and you want to let loose, you think anything goes, please don't come here," Gelber told CNN. "We have extra police everywhere, we're going to arrest people, and we have been. We're going to keep order."

"If you're coming here to go crazy, go somewhere else. We don't want you," Gelber said.
People have been talking about a replay of the Roaring Twenties. Let's hope it's just the good parts, and not the parts with Prohibition and rampant organized crime, and then the Thirties, with depressions and civil wars and then world war and such.

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Preview

Hmmm? What could be under that foil? It sure did smell (and taste) good... Hopefully Bobbi will tell us all about it!

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Saturday, March 20, 2021

Vintage

The Bugs Bunny & Friends hour on MeTV this morning had some primo vintage Warner Brothers stuff, which Bobbi and I enjoyed immensely. Among the highlights: 
  • The Wabbit Who Came to Supper, an early 1942-vintage piece from the "Fat Elmer" period
  • Haredevil Hare, Marvin the Martian's debut from 1948, which introduced us all to the dangers of the Uranium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator
  • Birdy and the Beast, also from 1948, which was Tweety's second cartoon short, back when he was still pink
...and finally, the Coyote and the Road Runner in Gee Whiz-z-z-z-z-z-z and the enduring classic, Baseball Bugs

Even when I was watching this stuff as a child, I could tell the difference between the '40s and '50s classics and the newer cartoons.

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Equinox

The TeeWee weatherpeople have been talking about "meteorological spring" since the first of the month, but real actual spring begins today, with the vernal equinox.

Today, the sun will be in the sky for exactly...well, a little more than half the day, actually. 


What with Indy being about as far west as you can go in the Eastern Time Zone, the sun sets at around 8PM now, and sunset just gets later and later from here, to my delight and Bobbi's chagrin.

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Friday, March 19, 2021

Cannon Constructors

Via NJT, a cool old "eduganda" film about the Naval Gun Factory (better known as the Washington Navy Yard) in the District of Columbia. Industry doesn't come much heavier.

Do Not Look Into Laser With Remaining Eye

The TODAY show in the next room was just prattling away about the wonders of self-driving automobiles.

These will almost certainly be a thing in my lifetime... Well, actually they're kind of a thing right now, it's just they're at that really awkward stage of development, where they're almost there but not quite ready for prime time. (Google has you selecting traffic lights and buses and bicycles in Capchas as fast as they can, though!)

I can't see a self-driving car without thinking of that poor dude who had his A7R II's sensor cooked by a Bimmer's LIDAR in Vegas, though. That happened right before SHOT in 2019, and you'd better cool believe I had my head on a swivel looking for those taxis while shooting pics on the Strip that year. Just because a laser is eye-safe doesn't mean it's sensor-safe.

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Constitutional Carry Update

Indiana's had numerous Constitutional Carry bills die in committee in the Hoosier House of Representatives over the last decade.

With Speaker Bosma retired, it looked like the 2021 session was going to be the one where we finally pushed Constitutional Carry through, and H.B.1369 has indeed sailed through the House. 

However it's encountered a bit of a slowdown in the Senate Judiciary Committee, so please contact your state senator, Hoosiers, and remind them that we want this thing done this year. Bad guys are going to carry guns without a permit anyway, so why shouldn't law-abiding Hoosiers be able to do likewise?

NRA-ILA has a "Contact Judiciary Committee Members" link up here, but that's a bare minimum. An email, letter, or polite phone call carries a lot more weight.

Let's get our public servants to stop leaning on their shovels and pass this bill.



Wednesday, March 17, 2021

In case you needed a smile...

...here are some carpet sharks playing in packing peanuts. Guaranteed to make you smile.


The Why Behind the How...

My friend John wrote something that I think it would be worth your while to read if you carry...or are thinking about carrying...a firearm.
"Reading some comments on various posts around the internet, as well as some private and public conversations I’ve had lately have had me reflecting on what *I* think are some things to consider if you’re interested in the study, instruction, or practice of applied violence..."
Please do and go read the whole thing. There's way too much glibness and too many mindless catchphrases thrown around about these topics, and I'm as guilty as anyone. This is not that. It's chewy and worth your time.

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Because I can't resist a dumb joke...

I ran both battery packs for the D1X through the full "refresh" cycle on the charger and took it down to the canal in Broad Ripple proper yesterday morning.

It's pretty cool that it still runs like a top, since digital cameras are a lot more ephemeral by nature than a purely mechanical old film camera. The D1X debuted twenty years ago with serial number 5100000, and the serial on mine is just inside the first five hundred made, so it's probably seen some stuff in its day.

The old 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D VR lens has an equivalent focal length of 120-600mm on this old DX body, so you can get right up in nature's grille with it. Being an old screw-drive lens, it was a crazy good deal; if you've got a crop sensor Nikon with an in-body focus motor, it's a lot of bang for the buck.

Duck

Duck, duck, duck

Goose!

Oh, surely you could see the dust cloud from this one approaching in the distance...

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I was wrong. I learned something!

The Gun Control Act of 1968, by introducing the requirement that a firearm "be generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes" in order to be legally imported, effectively stifled the hobby of collecting military surplus firearms. After all, be it semiautomatic, bolt action, or revolver, if it had been designed and issued as a weapon of war, it was not a "sporting arm".

Because gun owners love conspiracies, there's a widely-held one in Fuddlore that the "sporting purposes" clause was thrown in as a sop to the gun manufacturers of the Northeast, who were having a hard time selling new Remchester deer rifles at high retail prices in a market where it was easy to buy and Bubba-ize a Mauser. Regardless of the factuality of this origin myth, the outcome was that formerly cheap guns became expensive collectibles in relatively short order, making a domestic hunting rifle seem a more economically viable purchase.

In the Eighties, the import floodgates were opened again because an exemption had been added to the "sporting purposes clause" for firearms that were designated as Curios & Relics, either directly by name or via age.

Someone once told me that this had been part of the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 and I'd just taken that assertion at face value. I'd never been able to find the language in FOPA '86 myself, but I'd always assumed that was because I wasn't a lawyer and it was hidden in the emanations of some penumbra or another.

The other day I was reading through David Hardy's classic scholarly piece on FOPA '86, and came across a footnote referencing "the Act of Oct. 30, 1984, Pub. L. No. 98-573, 98 Stat. 2991-92, which allowed importation of most military surplus arms that qualified as curios and relics."

Hmmm...

Plugging "Act of Oct. 30, 1984, Pub. L. No. 98-573, 98 Stat. 2991-92" into Google took me to a typical dull piece of legislation (big PDF) that fiddled with and adjusted trade regulations and tariffs on everything from "fresh asparagus" and "steel pipes and tubes used in lampposts" to "unwrought lead" and "hogs and pork products from Canada".

There, buried way down in section 233 was an adjustment for "certain curios and relics". Scrolling laboriously through the text took me to section 233, which stated the following:


So it wasn't in FOPA at all, but in some dull bit of trade & tariff legislation. Huh. Learn something new every day.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Poverty Arms

The Nineties and early Aughties were the Second Golden Age of milsurps. Between a footnote inserted in a trade and tariff bill making the importation of military surplus legal again, and the ending of the Cold War throwing the dusty arsenals of the East open to American firearms importers, you could pick up reasonably decent blasters for next to nothing.

When you were living in the sort of paycheck-to-paycheck circumstances that had you viewing a twenty dollar bill as an entire weekend's worth of mad money, these deals made a certain practical amount of sense. A Mosin 91/30 for forty bucks, an M1895 Nagant for fifty, a Yugo SKS for ninety, or a Makarov for a c-note were affordable for some folks in a way that a gun that cost five hundred or a thousand dollars simply wasn't. Five hundred or a thousand bucks was what you paid for the hooptie to get you to and from work, not the pistol in the nightstand.


If my choice in home defense firearms were between an M1895 Nagant or TT33 Tokarev loaded with some corrosive surplus that the guy at the gun show had thrown in for free, and nothing...? Yo, dude, toss me the Russian burner.

But the days of the forty dollar Mosin and hundred dollar CZ-52 are long behind us. Tokarevs and Polish P64s are bringing multiples of their old price tags. Finnish Mosins are, for the most part, legit collectibles. M1895 revolvers are selling on auction sites for prices that could get you a new Taurus G3 with money left over for ammo or training.

At a price of three or four hundred dollars, a clunky Russian revolver with lousy sights and an awful trigger pull that fires exotic, hard to find ammunition in a marginally effective chambering is a fundamentally unserious choice of personal protection arm. It's not a weapon so much as an affectation; the M'lady of home defense firearms. For god's sake just go...and here's something I thought I'd never type...buy a Sccy or something. Leave the esoterica to the collectors and slavaboo reenactors.



Monday, March 15, 2021

Hey, look!

"If you look at a picture of a car and it has tail fins, you know it was from the 1950s. If you look at a picture of home interiors and they’re full of shag carpet and avocado-hued appliances, you know they’re from the 1970s. Nowadays, if you look at a photo of a pistol and it looks like the slide lost a fight with a CNC machine, you know it’s from the end of the Twenty-Teens.

I’m not exactly sure who actually originated this fad, so I’ll blame Glock.

It didn’t actually start with Glock, mind you. IPSC and USPSA open shooters, in a never-ending quest for flatter-shooting guns and wanting to shave every possible picosecond off cycle time, were lightening the slides on raceguns since way back in the day.

But, it was Glock that brought lightening cuts in slides to the masses at the gun counter via its G17L and the later “practical tactical” G34 and G35. While these pistols were developed with competition in mind, the primary rationale behind the ovoid windows in the top of their slides was more prosaic than that...
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Go and RTWT!

The entirety of the great outdoors, surely trying to get in through the hole on a G34 slide.

Daylight Savings Time...

  1. Set the clocks forward one hour
  2. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors
  3. Put fresh batteries in any lights or powered optics on work guns

That last one is easy to forget or put aside these days when the batteries in a modern optic have service lives measured in years, but it's cheap insurance.

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I LOL'ed...


Huck is settling into the gravitas of a senior tomcat, but Holden is ably picking up his rambunctious slack. Come to think of it, Huck was always fairly reserved and self-contained when compared to the extremely extroverted and attention-hungry floof lion.

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Sunday, March 14, 2021

Vintage...

I had some issues today, trying to accept a challenge from longtime blog friend Gewehr98. He'd mentioned that an old Nikon D1X still took great photos, and wouldn't it be cool to take one out for a spin with a good fast zoom?

Okay, the old Nikkor AF 35-70mm f/2.8 D is a fast zoom, and is about a 52-105mm equivalent on the crop sensor D1X, which is right in the range where I do most of my shooting. I mounted it on the D1X, popped a Peak Design Slide strap on it, and pedaled off to lunch...


Thing is, the D1X is old enough that it has some serious quirks, relative to modern DSLRs. One of those is that they use old nickel-metal hydride battery packs rather than more modern lithium ion rechargeables. One of the two for my camera is extremely elderly and probably needs replacing. Throw it in the camera and it shows okay, but after about two shots, it ceased functioning. I'm diagnosing the problem as the battery and not the camera, because the newer aftermarket NiMH cell functions it fine.

Another interesting thing is the weird rectangular layout of the pixels on the sensor:

Anyway, long story short, I brought the wrong battery in the camera. I guess I'll try again tomorrow?

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