Sunday, January 31, 2021

The what, again?

"Libertarian/Communist/Antifa Koch Brothers"? My, that's... um... well, that's certainly a lot of syllables you've strung together there, Mr. Rei.


Aces High!

While I was laid up in the hospital after my big motorcycle wreck back in the summer of 2000 a friend brought me a book to read. It was about fighter aces through history and sometime during the move from Georgia to Tennessee, it got submerged in with my other books in a storage box. When I started looking for it again after the move to Indianapolis, it had vanished.

Over the past few months I've been desultorily packing up boxes full of books in the attic to take to Half Price Books or Goodwill. Basically, anything I'm unlikely to read again for entertainment or use for reference is a likely candidate for passing on. While sorting through stacks, look what I found!

The Complete Fighter Ace is just a really cool book. It's organized chronologically, with sections covering World War One, the interwar conflicts, World War Two, the air war over Korea, and post-Korea jet combat. Each section has lists of the aces from each participant nation, with a short bio of a few of each country's aces, including lots of lesser-known ones. There are descriptions of tactics and techniques as they evolved, with plenty of diagrams and illustrations. Highly recommend. I'm shelving my copy where I can find it more easily in the future.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Automotif CCI...

File this one under "Cars I will definitely circle back around the block to park and photograph." It's an Edsel Ranger!

After the disastrously low sales of the 1958 model, the styling of the 1959 Edsels was dramatically toned down. This '59 Ranger almost looks normal, with the giant chrome toilet seat that dominated the prow of the '58 model shrunk down to a styling highlight in the center of an otherwise normal horizontal chrome grille.
"In a series of money-saving measures, the Teletouch Drive transmission that was originally planned as an option on the 1959 Edsel, was eliminated. Unique design elements were cut, and the Edsel began to lose some of the features that made it distinct. Taillights from the 1958 Continental were used, the chassis was the same as the Fairlane, and the dashboard became almost identical to the Ford. Also, as a result of the public's changing need for a more economical car, the available engine size for 1959 Edsels were significantly smaller than in the 1958 models. The powerful E-475 motor was eliminated, and the E-400 that was once standard was now a high-performance option. ...
None of the changes could turn the marque around, and sales dropped well below the 1958 model year totals. The future of the Edsel was in serious jeopardy."
The Ranger was intended to serve as a step up from Ford, price-wise, without costing Mercury money.

Like the one of the Rambler American in the same parking lot, I felt like the picture of the Edsel needed a little tweaking to make the photo look right...

1959 Edsel Ranger, shot with Sony RX100

Lee Press On Ammo

I must be getting bored, because this is starting to look like an enjoyable project: A Lee Hand Press and a set of 9mm dies. I've got thousands of small pistol primers, freezer bags full of once-fired brass, and I have no idea how many projectiles of various types. Powder's probably my weak link, but I'm pretty sure I've got a few pounds that'll work with nine loads.

I can't really use homemade 9mm stuff for work, and really wouldn't want to load in those kind of volumes anyway. For that I'd need to yank the cover off the turret press and set it up somewhere and I just can't be arsed. But fifty or a hundred rounds a week in my spare time? Sure, that's doable. And it's the sort of attention-focusing touch labor that's relaxing; like putting jigsaw puzzles together, but with a better payoff.

The hand press isn't super efficient, but I've used it to assemble small amounts of rifle ammo before. It's not hard to use.



From the satellite view, it looks like Brookings, South Dakota has something like twenty or twenty-two softball fields. It's tricky keeping track of them all and I kept losing count. Just at a rough guess, that's enough to let something like ten percent of the town's population play softball all at once.

Three baseball diamonds, too. (In general, you can tell them apart because baseball diamonds tend to have grass in the infield.) Bob Shelden Field, home field for Brookings High, is pretty grand. Nicer than the college diamond across town and nicer than some some smaller minor league fields I've seen.

They obviously take their ball games seriously there.

Baseball diamonds and softball fields, like golf courses, are immediately identifiable from the air. Football fields and soccer/rugby pitches less so, in that you have to zoom in to a resolution that shows goalposts and lines to tell a large rectangular field from one used for sport. They're most easily spotted if they're part of a school's athletic complex and surrounded by the distinctive oval of a track. I'm at a loss to tell a cricket field from a random lawn with a rectangular patch in it.


QotD: How It Started, How It's Going Edition...

Friday, January 29, 2021

Has anyone checked tulip bulb prices?

Automotif CC...

I spotted this 1959 or 1960 Rambler American, looking a little down at the heels, parked out in front of a local mechanic's shop.

After the merger of Nash and Hudson created the American Motors Corporation, the "Rambler" name went from a model to a brand. (The president of AMC at the time, George Romney, later went on to run for governor of Michigan.)

The American was the cheap and cheerful compact of the Rambler line, riding on a 100 inch wheelbase, which was tiny in the era of tail-finned Wurlitzer behemoths. By way of comparison, the contemporary Chevy Bel Air stretched 119" between the axles, and a 2018 Honda Accord has a 111" wheelbase. The base motor in the first generation Rambler American was a 196cid flathead six putting out 90 horsepower, SAE gross.

The car, advertised as the cheapest car made in America, came in two trim levels. Plunking down $1,789 got you into the Deluxe, which was the base model, and $1,874 bumped you up to the Super.
"Super models offered a lot more for the modest $85 price premium including a comfy foam-cushioned front seat, front and rear armrests, two sun visors (in place of the Deluxe's driver's-side-only visor), cigarette lighter, map and glove-box lights, color-coordinated rubber floor covering, a trunk mat, two-tone interior door-panel trim, and an automatic dome light. 
Supers also sported stainless-steel windshield and belt moldings and rear-quarter windows that could be rolled down a few inches, all of which Deluxes lacked. Some folks who bought the Deluxe opted to pay a little more for a factory-installed package that included the armrests, right-side sun visor, and cigarette lighter. Those items could also be installed singly by the dealer."
For some reason, the photo, snapped with my pocket RX100 in the flat, watery light of a cold winter day, just didn't look right in color, so I noodled around with it a bit in Photoshop...

There. That feels more atmospherically correct.


Thursday, January 28, 2021

Automotif CXCIX...

Mercedes-AMG GT 4-door Coupé. This is the 63 4MATIC+, but the ass end had been aggressively de-badged, so the specific variant was beyond my ken. Basically, it's at least 577bhp of twin-turbo V8, maybe more.

I'm just here for the popcorn.

If there's one thing social media has taught me, it's that the vast majority of people are actually polymaths with deep expertise in many unrelated wide-ranging fields, from constitutional law to epidemiology to high finance and market analysis. 

Meanwhile, I'm just over here like...

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

It's funny 'cause it's true!

I was noodling around on Ammoseek the other day and even searches for .32 S&W Long and .38 S&W were coming up empty. That is cray-cray.


Satellite View

Noodling around the satellite view in Google Maps for interesting driving routes to and from the general Philadelphia area, I detoured the camera south for an aerial look at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds just across the state line.

There on the grounds of the proving grounds is Phillips Army Airfield, which has an interesting little boneyard in its southwest corner.

There are a bunch of A-7's, C-12's, U-8's, all manner of helicopters, a lonely C-123, various other stuff, and...hello...what's this?

Pretty sure that's a Mi-24, Mi-2(?), a few MiG-21's, and something pointy-nosed and single engined and about the length of an Mi-24, so maybe a MiG-23?

Pretty cool!


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

"It's my pleasure."

Street, Photography

54th Street Red Line station, Canon EOS M, EF-M 22mm f/2

Walking home from a late lunch/early dinner at Twenty Tap last night, the lighting of the Red Line station caught my eye. Between the wet pavement and the gathering dusk, it was a little island of light. There was one lonely dude waiting for a bus but, even before the Time of the 'Rona, more people would be getting off than on at 54th Street at this hour of the day.

I keep the EOS M in monochrome mode, but it's easier for me to see in B&W under some circumstances than others. Last night it was very easy to see in B&W. Because I want a monochrome JPEG as well as the original sensor capture, I have the camera set to shoot in RAW + JPEG mode. Here's what the sensor actually saw...

Sort of Want...

I need one of those "civilian af" patches.


Monday, January 25, 2021

Overheard on the Radio...

I was driving downtown to shoot some photos and drop off some film last week. Terry Gross was interviewing filmmaker Sam Pollard on Fresh Air for MLK Day...
Pollard: "But to now know that the minister of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Raphael Warnock, is going to be our - the first Black senator from the South is a phenomenal experience."
I nearly swerved up onto the sidewalk on Meridian Street at hearing that. While Warnock is the first Black senator from Georgia, Tim Scott would be surprised to learn that South Carolina isn't in the South.

We'll give Pollard a pass on Senators Revels and Bruce, since most Americans are woefully undereducated on the original civil rights era* of the Reconstruction period and how it was quashed by regressive segregationist peckerwoods following the Compromise of 1877.

*Robert Fox was eighty-four years before Rosa Parks.

Cartridge History

"D.B. Wesson designed a new centerfire cartridge to go with the new gun. Utilizing a .36 caliber (well, .359) bullet that fit snugly enough in the case to minimize the need for crimping by the reloader, the new cartridge was referred to as the .38 S&W, referencing the outside diameter of the case. 

L to R: .32 S&W Long, .38 S&W, .38 S&W Special

Special thanks to History of Smith & Wesson, The Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson, and Cartridges of the World*

*aka "The Big Book of Bullets", one of the best bathroom companions for gun nerds.


*golf clap*

Well, that's the internet for today, folks. Submissions are closed. Thank you for playing.


And So It Goes...

I was driving home from a short work trip to Ohio when I heard the news of Hank Aaron's passing on the radio. It left me unexpectedly verklempt.

A Lack of Comprehension

"If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat." -Sun Tzu
I realize that in the Manichaean environment of modern politics, everybody's somebody's fascist or communist. Surely, however, people who make a point of commenting on politics would have a basic grasp of the viewpoints of those they consider their ideological foes, right?

Not so fast.

Jacobin is an explicitly socialist quarterly that sets itself up as a younger, hipper alternative to traditional, stodgy outlets of the American far Left like The Nation. Think Reason but for beard oil-using craft beer drinkers who prefer Das Kapital to Atlas Shrugged.

From where they're sitting, you can't slide a sheet of paper between the political positions of Joe Biden and, say, George H.W. Bush, so they greeted the recent inauguration with a cover spoofing the incoming administration and the general Democratic reaction to it with a bit of tongue-in-cheek Byzantine iconography. 

You'd think that if depicting Obama and the Clintons as seraphim weren't enough of a giveaway that it was satirical mockery, the RQ-4 Global Hawk drones flanking them would be, but no. Plenty of commentators have spent so much time huffing their own side's farts in hermetically-sealed political bubbles that they seemed to think it was serious.
(Including some I'd have thought would know better.)


Sunday, January 24, 2021

A little good, a little bad, a little happy, a little sad.

I saved up from some writing projects to buy a birthday present for myself. I'd mentioned earlier that I wanted to do a project this year where I did a bunch of photography with the little Nikon 1 system.

So I scared up a used Nikon 1 V2 body from KEH and, since candid portraiture of my friends is my favorite kind of photography, I rolled the dice on a low-priced 1 Nikkor 32mm f/1.2 on eBay. The 32mm/1.2 is a very well-reviewed portrait lens and the best piece of glass for the Nikon 1 system.

The camera body arrived from KEH and was exactly what I'd hoped for: Basically functioning like a 5/8ths scale Nikon DSLR. Unlike the original V1, the V2 has a control and menu layout that's instantly recognizable to a DSLR shooter.

The lens though...I should have known better. I knew I was rolling the dice buying a lens from a private individual at that price, especially a dude whose reviews on FB made it clear he wasn't really a photographer. 

The 32mm/1.2 had a known issue where the aperture blades would get stuck stopped way down and this one has it. The aperture wouldn't open wider than about f/11, and sometimes f/16. Sometimes it would stick completely closed. I should have bought one from a shop that knew how to fully test it or listed it as factory refurbished, having had the aperture blades replaced. This lens was discontinued several years ago and repair parts are next to non-existent. As it is, I basically set a handful of Benjamins on fire. Whee.

Oh, well. "We get too soon old and too late smart", as the saying goes.

I'm going to get one of the (much cheaper) white 10-100mm zooms and go to the zoo as soon as the weather turns warmer.


Sunday Smithery has occurred.

There's a new Sunday Smith up at The Arms Room blog: a 1948-production .38/.32 Terrier.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Opening the Window

Smith & Wesson's current small frame size, the "J-frame", is best known in its 5-shot .38 Special variation, the Model 36 Chiefs Special.

Originally, though, the small-framed hand ejectors were designed for...actually, developed hand-in-hand with...the .32 S&W Long cartridge. The .32 S&W Long wasn't actually all that long, unless you compared it with the original .32 S&W centerfire cartridge (now sometimes erroneously referred to as .32 S&W "Short".)

When Colt's released a snub-nosed version of their D-frame .38 Special revolver, the Detective Special, Smith originally responded with a 2"-barreled version of their .38 Regulation Police. Because these short-barreled .38 S&W revolvers were on frames originally intended for the .32 cartridge, they were referred to as the .38/.32 Terrier. The bottom revolver in the photo below is a very early postwar Terrier.

From top to bottom: J Magnum frame, J-frame, I-frame

When Smith & Wesson started making small-framed .38 Special revolvers in the early Fifties, the cylinder window of the then-current Improved I-frame* was too small. To fix this, a new frame size was introduced: The J-frame. Essentially, the J was an Improved I-frame with a lengthened frame window to allow a longer cylinder to be fitted. They made J-frames and Improved I-frames side by side until the early Seventies when the Improved I was discontinued and all small-frame Smiths, regardless of the chambering, were made on J-frames. The middle revolver above is a Model 37 Chiefs Special Airweight from the mid-1970s.

Starting in 1996, Smith introduced yet another iteration of its small frame. Taurus had released its 5-shot small framed Model 605 in .357 Magnum in 1995 and S&W returned fire by offering .357 Magnum versions of its small frame. The existing cylinder window was again too small, and so the regular J-frame was supplanted by the "J Magnum" frame. The top revolver is a Model 432PD in .32H&R Magnum from the early 2000s, showing the longer cylinder window of the J Magnum frame.

*The difference between the I-frame and the Improved I-frame is that the latter used a coil mainspring like the later J-frame, rather than a flat leaf mainspring. The easiest way to tell them apart at a glance is to check the frontstrap for the presence of a strain screw. The coil mainspring guns won't have one.


Places to Go...

This looks like it might be an interesting creative nudge!


Places to See...

Huh. Apparently there's a small motorcycle museum up in Winnemac that has lots of very early motorcycles.

That might make a pretty cool day trip!

In the meantime, here's a picture of an old SOHC Honda CB750.


Frozen Fingers

Behold the Kodak S1100 XL, a repackaged Chinon 3001. I had one of these back in the early Nineties when they were still shiny and new and fairly expensive.

Unlike cheaper point and shoots, the S1100XL has a fast 35mm f/2.8 lens and relatively sophisticated autofocus for the era. The way the flash pops up puts it far enough off the centerline of the lens to avoid the worst of red-eye and I used to put a piece of frosted Scotch tape over the flash itself to serve as a diffuser.

This one came off eBay for next to nothing early last year and it's sat on a shelf waiting for me to throw a roll of film in it and check it for light leaks. Earlier this week I had a couple other rolls to drop off, so I put a roll of Kodak Gold in the S1100XL and drove downtown. Parking on Vermont Street out in front of the World War Memorial was free, since MLK Day is a city holiday. 

The park across Vermont to the south of the World War Memorial has a lovely fountain in it, but the fountain is down for renovations...

On opposite sides of the fountain are sculptures of Pan and Syrinx...

By this time, the snow flurries had picked up and my fingers were getting numb. I went back to the car and drove over to Roberts to drop off the test rolls and headed home.

Looking over the finished product, it seems the Kodak is functioning properly. No signs of light leaks and the focus and exposure look good. I reckon it's good to go.

How things work.

At this link, you can find a neat site that explains how camera sensors and lens optics work together to make pictures. It's very informative, starting from first principles, and there are lots of sliders to manipulate for a very hands-on learning experience. Like a quality children's museum except for grownups and you don't have to worry about snotty little fingers having been all over everything.

Definitely some first rate edutainment.


Multiple Presidentiality Disorder...

In what looks to be evolving into a tradition, the period following the inauguration of a new president is turning into a festival of wish fulfillment via Executive Order. International agreements will be left or re-entered, massive projects canceled or inaugurated, via Oval Office fiat.

Any group of foreign powers who thinks they can count on the US to stay the course for more than four-eight years is looking increasingly delusional. Any large corporation that wants to engage in a big infrastructure project that can't be finished inside a single presidential term is going to have an ever more difficult time attracting investors.


Thursday, January 21, 2021

Tribal Media

Street Machine?

The cool kid street photography cameras all seem to be super compact things with APS-C sensors (big for a pocket camera; the same as in DSLR's) and fixed wide-ish angle lenses in the 28-35mm range. This guy is using a Nikon Coolpix A, this dude used a Ricoh GR II, and this cat's a fan of Fuji's X100 series.

Thing is, those are all pretty spendy entrance ramps into a type of photography I don't know if I'm any good at or not. A used Coolpix A is gonna be at least $400 and the Ricoh GR series or one of the various Fuji X100 variants is going to be at least half again that for a tatty older one. They do tickle the wantsies but...a fixed lens?

Luckily I can simulate this with gear I have on hand! The original Canon EOS M body (available used for less than two bills) is small and smooth like a bar of soap and easily goes in a coat pocket while wearing Canon's well-regarded 22mm f/2 EF-M pancake, which gives an equivalent focal length of 35mm and can be found used for well under $200 as well.

So my EF-M, which had been gathering dust on a shelf as something of a failed experiment on my way to buying the M6, has a new lease on life for the nonce.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Tangentially related...

I've always been low-key fascinated by Albania. Any place with Roman ruins, centuries-old hillbilly feuds, and the Accursed Mountains can't help but hold my interest.

There's the distinctive-looking Albanian SKS which is, second only to the East German one, the crown jewel of the insular and lowbrow world of SKS collecting.

In fiction, young Lieutenant Otto Prohaska stumbles into a plot by Serbian anarchists and has to flee homeward across Albania on foot to warn the Archduke. It's one of the most memorable parts of the entire series of books.

For a more factual view, albeit just as darkly humorous, P.J. O'Rourke spends a chapter of Eat the Rich looking at the Albania of the early 21st Century, recovering from a 1997 civil war triggered by an economy that collapsed under a tottering pile of pyramid schemes.

Finally, the Wikipedia entry on "Hoxha's Mushrooms" is a heck of a jumping-off point for a wikiwander in its own right.


The Tale of the Vanishing Air Force

Albania's story during the Cold War era is an interesting one. Occupied by Italy immediately before World War Two, it spent the war like the rest of the Balkans, a swirl of guerrilla warfare where bands of partisans, both communist and anti-communist, chased each other and the fascist occupiers up and down hill and dale.

After the war, the Albanian communists came out on top and the country was effectively a satellite of the Soviet Union. Or at least they were until after Stalin died and Hoxha gradually decided he was more communist than the Soviets. After the breakup with the USSR, Albania was cozy with the Chinese for a while until that relationship, too, boarded the last train for Splitsville in the Seventies when Mao kicked off.

Albanian J-7 (Chinese MiG-21 clone)

This left Albania, a lightly industrialized country, smaller geographically than Maryland and with fewer people than Kansas, to try and support a fleet of over a hundred jet fighters on its own. The results were sadly predictable...

Due to the collapse of relations between Albania and the Chinese, maintenance became extremely difficult and the number of deadly incidents involving Mikoyan fighters increased. Despite Albanian efforts and some initial success in repairing the engines of the MiGs, the lack of specific jet fuel forced authorities to start production locally, resulting in low-quality production (the first attempt was in 1961, when the Kuçova factory produced the special jet kerosene called TSI). The fuel shortened the lifespan of the jet engines and was often blamed as the main reason for several deadly incidents. 35 Albanian pilots lost their lives from 1955 to 2005, mainly due to MiG mechanical failures.

I discovered this when I happened to chance across the Wikipedia page for the Albanian air force and noted it currently consisted of nothing but a handful of helicopters these days. A few years ago they basically took all their remaining high performance jet fighters (the ones that hadn't made like Texas lawn darts or been left on blocks after being stripped by black marketeers during the civil war) and put them on eBay.


Monday, January 18, 2021

But what color are the elephants?

"Pablo Escobar’s hippos are taking over the marshlands of Colombia — and need to face the same fate as their late owner before they become impossible to control, scientists have warned."
As an aside, I saw Pablo Escobar's Hippos open for Nine Inch Nails back in '95.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Space Cam

I thought it would be fun to finish out the winter doing a bunch of work with the Nikon 1 system, just for fun. Even though it's officially dead, gone, and buried by Nikon, who would probably prefer people forget its oddball initial misstep into the world of mirrorless cameras, I find they have a certain quirky charm.

The 1" sensor, which is the same size as the one in my usual RX100 shirt-pocket camera, means that not only are even quality lenses extremely compact, but the camera bodies are, too. The J4 in the picture above is wearing the 1 Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8 which is, given the crop factor of the small sensor, the equivalent of a 50mm/1.8 on this thing. It gets good reviews and takes sharp photos, especially with the aperture set in the f/2.8 to f/4 range.

The 18.4MP J4's body (at least the front, top, and bottom) is aluminum and the whole thing is noticeable smaller than the original plastic-hulled 10.1 megapickle J1 pictured below. It's less than 2.5" high and not quite 4" wide; about the size of a deck of cards. I really dig the white aesthetic, too. It looks like something the crew of the Discovery would have brought along in Kubrik's 2001.

The cool thing is that the body and a full panoply of lenses will go in a small camera bag that would normally hold a DSLR and a single lens.

The first warm-ish week, I'm taking it to the zoo. Also, I'm thinking about trying to shoot some magazine photos with it. I'll bet it's more than capable!


Now Screening...

At the suggestion of a blog reader, the next item on the binge viewing list here at Roseholme Cottage is Matt Groening's latest effort, Disenchantment. We watched the first two episodes over dinner tonight and it did not disappoint.

Automotif CXCVIII...

Behold the nadir of the Ford Thunderbird, the Eighth-Generation version from the 1980-1982 model years.

This was the second round of downsizing for Ford's personal luxury coupe, which entered the '72 model year as a nearly five thousand pound boulevard barge built on the same platform as its sister ship, the Lincoln Continental Mark IV. The first round of downsizing saw the '77 T-bird moved to the Panther platform shared with the Torino, Cougar, and LTD II. That downsizing shaved nearly ten inches of length and a thousand pounds of weight off the '72-'76 cars.

For the Eight Generation, the Thunderbird was moved to the Fox platform, also used by the Fairmont and Mustang. This whacked another foot and 700 pounds off the bill of lading.

Styling-wise, the car kept a lot of the baroque cues from the bigger Seventh Generation version, which looked weird all crammed together on the smaller body.

Under the hood, the base motor was a 255 cubic inch version of the Windsor V8 making a weaksauce 115bhp, with an upgrade to a 131 horsepower 302 available on the option sheet. Performance was...less than stellar.

Sic Transit Discourse

Oh boy, I made the mistake of using Twitter for something other than telling dumb jokes and got a glimpse into the minds of normies and it was scary. People are absolutely *obsessed* with the idea of a Living Wage. Putting aside the point that the real minimum wage is zero, I was interested to take the pulse of the Living Wage crowd, so I replied to a discussion...
"Even grocery baggers?

"Do you know what grocery baggers do?!?!?" 

"Uh, yeah. It was my first W2 job. But the steady rise in wages and regulation means that I'm my own grocery bagger now, and so are you. Pretty soon we'll get to greet ourselves at Walmart, too.
I've been called names, been told I was brow-beaten by the system, sneered at. I'm like "Uh, I'm open to having my mind changed here, but not by insults. I was just curious if you don't see any jobs that might be performed by someone who did not need to make a living wage, like a dependent teen who might need work experience and pocket money, or a pensioner who just wants some socialization and routine.

"Just pay them fairly and cut their hours!" 

"So instead of hiring 10 teens at $8/hr, I hire 20 at $16/hr and give each half as many hours? HR is gonna love you. And have you ever had to make a schedule?"

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #196...

Click to Embiggenate. Dramatically.

A Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P 9 Shield with the Trijicon RMRcc. Putting it on the Shield gives a good idea of its size. Also, unlike previous red dots intended for subcompacts and single stacks, the RMRcc isn't any less rugged or resistant to the elements than the full-size RMR.

Friday, January 15, 2021

At loose (video) ends...

Bobbi and I tend to watch something over dinner and, for most of the past couple years at least, it's been binge-watching various shows or miniseries (miniserieses?). Anyway, we're done with The Queen's Gambit and, unfortunately, we're caught up with the current season of The Expanse, which means it will be trickling out on Wednesdays for us now.

I'm currently nosing through shows with 30-min or 1-hr episodes and at least two or three seasons in the can, looking for the next bit of dinner theater while we wait for the next seasons of Stranger Things, The Boys, and The Umbrella Academy to drop*.

*For whatever reason, the old Roku on the living room televisor will not find Disney+, so that's only viewable on the TV in Bobbi's room or the computer monitor in my office. Sure, my desktop monitor is only a 25" screen, but I was in high school before the living room TV was that big. It's true, kids! Ask your parents. The living room TV can do Prime Video and Netflix.


As the ship continues to spring new leaks...

...the new leaks keep getting funnier.

New Year's Resolution

From a "year in review, year in preview" piece at Luminous Landscape came this interesting digression on the rumored imminent ultra high resolution sensors: 
"It is difficult to tell a really good 24-26 MP print from a 45-60 MP print at 16×24” – it’s possible, but under close inspection – even an experienced observer would have a hard time on the wall. A 24×36” print from a really good 24-26 MP sensor and lens looks good on the wall, even in a gallery – but put it next to a 45-60 MP version and the difference is obvious from close up. I’ll happily print 40×60” from a Z7 or an A7r IV, which I won’t from a good 24-26 MP sensor – like a 24×36” from 24-26 MP, the print works very well, but if you put your nose right up to it, you might wish you’d used a GFX 100 or stitched. A 90-100 MP sensor will really show its stuff at a print size of 40×60” or above – the native print size of the GFX 100 sensor is 29×39” at 300 dpi, and a beautiful print that big can be made from a 200 dpi or even 150 dpi file with careful resizing. How much of your work ends up that size? Do you have room for a printer the size of a piano? If you are thinking about digital display, what 12K display device are you planning on using? Even at 8K, it has no advantage over a 45-60 MP camera, since both will outresolve the display. 

What lenses do you own that will resolve 100 MP? What will even look different between 60 MP and 100 MP? An Otus, sure… Some of the best Sigma Art lenses, like the newish 85mm f1.4, are likely to. A few other excellent lenses – think the best of the Sony G-Master, Canon L and Nikon S lines, mostly primes. Any exotic long telephoto prime from Canon, Nikon, Sony or Sigma. If any zoom that good exists at all, there are VERY few of them. The closest possibility I’ve handled is Nikon’s 24-70mm f2.8 for the Z bodies – it resolves right up to the limits of the Z7 and seems to be begging for more. I’m pretty sure it has at least something more to give on a higher-resolution sensor. I haven’t used the latest Canon or Sony zooms at the top of their lines, nor have I used either of the $10,000 telephoto zooms – but they all seem to be good candidates as well. That’s about it – a bunch of $1000+ primes, mostly $2000+ other than the Sigma Art lenses, and a very tiny list of $2000+ zooms. 

How good is your technique for 100 MP? Even the best lens is only that good at optimum aperture – diffraction is going to set in quickly with pixels that small. Handholding will require faster shutter speeds than you’re used to, even with image stabilization, and any subject motion at all is going to show up. Depth of field? What depth of field? The 45-60 MP cameras are already difficult to focus correctly, since any tiny focus error eliminates their resolution advantage. If you’re doing huge prints of architecture or motionless landscape, using a Series 3 or larger tripod (think 6-7 lbs of tripod and head, even in carbon fiber) or have enough light for very high shutter speeds (any noise at all will kill the resolution advantage, so a very high resolution camera will be best at ISO 64-200, maybe ISO 400 at most to see the difference), you might see a gain. 
Speaking as someone who sold her 5D Mark II to partly fund a mega-super-high-res 5DS and then wound up buying another used 5D Mark II to supplement it, all I can say is...ouch. 

Sure, the 5D Mark II is about a dozen years old now and sports a 21MP sensor, less than half the resolution of the 5DS, but it'll turn out a photo that can be splashed across a full two-page spread eleven inches high and eighteen inches wide, with plenty of room for the art director to crop...

Shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and an old EF 28-70mm f/2.8L lens

The 50MP sensor on the 5DS will let you know a lot of things: If your lens sucks, if you missed focus, if you should have used a stabilized lens or a faster shutter speed or more light. Cramming that many photosites on a full-frame sensor is noisy at higher ISOs, at least in Canon's 2015 effort.

From a gee-whiz point of view, I get the attraction of a squillion megapickle camera. But from a gearhead point of view, I have to acknowledge that its downsides currently outweigh its upsides for the kind of shooting I do.



I needed to get that film dropped off at Roberts, and I also needed to get out of the house and get some exercise. It was an unseasonably balmy forty-something degrees, so I slung my Leica R4 around my neck, grabbed the pre-packed bag with my Nikon D700, and headed out.

I fed a few quarters to the meter on North Street by the Scottish Rite Cathedral and started walking south on Illinois, heading generally toward the state capitol building.

Foot & vehicle traffic was light. Some store windows, like on the CVS and the Thai restaurant on Market by the Capitol, were still boarded up from the summer's events. I walked over to the east steps of the Capitol, shot some film, and headed back east up Market toward the Circle. On the Circle, workmen were busy boarding up windows. It was about this point that I'd used up the roll of Ilford XP2 in the Leica, so I bagged it and pulled out the Nikon for the remainder of my stroll.

The Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument was right there where I'd left it...

The bottom photo is, I believe, why bears generally stay away from Indiana.

From the Circle, I strolled back up Meridian to where I'd parked the car and drove over to Roberts to drop off film. I think I need to do this more often.


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Five by Five

Just finishing up a piece for RECOIL...

Granted, it's only five yards, but I was shooting offhand at a reasonable pace and those sights aren't the easiest to use. That trigger's no basket of kittens and rainbows, either...


Random Updates:

  • Finished the last episode of The Queen's Gambit last night. This series was nearly perfectly-executed television in my book: very well-acted and shot, and the sets and soundtrack both helped set the mood and tell the story. It was also another excellent demonstration that the only real way to do justice to a novel-length presentation is in a miniseries.

  • Took the Leicaflex SL for a walk yesterday afternoon. I was shooting from the hip, exposure-wise, but double-checking my guesses with the myLightMeter Pro app on my phone. Everything was going swimmingly until I took a shot at 1/125th at f/5.6 and the mirror hung in the up position. I'd shot about eight frames at that point, so I rewound the film and I'll take it to Roberts today. Went home and dry-fired the camera fifty or sixty times, both with the lens off and on, at 1/2000th to see if it loosens anything up. Lesson learned: Go back to using a 24 exposure roll of the absolute cheapest Fuji or Kodak from the drug store for test rolls, rather than a 36-exposure roll of Ilford.
Below, see a video about the light meter app I use!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

*hot take*

*spit take*


My first digital camera was a 1.3MP Mavica FD88 that I hung on to for a year or two after it was obsolete (I mean, cameras got obsoleted every three months back then) because memory stick/card standards were totally non-standardized but every computer would always have a 3.5" floppy for emergency booting, right? 

Memory card standards in DSLRs more or less shook out in the early Aughties. Compact Flash was the initial winner, although it gradually started getting supplanted by SD cards about ten years ago, starting in smaller consumer-level bodies.

In fact, many pro bodies, up until last week or so, still had CF slots simply because photojournalists had so much CF infrastructure. It's only been in the last year or so that I've had a hard time finding CF cards small enough for older cameras like my D1x and D200 to use. 

Interestingly, you can still get really big CF cards easily, and there are a lot of companies still selling the tiny sub-1GB CF cards that are needed by old CNC machinery on Amazon...but cards in the 2-8GB range that are usable by older cameras are getting scarcer by the year. If I walk into Roberts camera right now, I can buy film for my 80-y.o. Leica, but I might not be able to get a CF card small enough for my 18-y.o. Nikon D1x to recognize.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Future Imperfect, Tense

Let's see if it works...

Behold the "Diesel Leica", so called because of its bulk, Brutalist styling, and baroque mechanicals. It's the camera that almost bankrupted Leitz!

I have it loaded with Ilford XP2, an ISO 400 black & white film that's developed using the C-41 color process. This means I can have it done on-site at Roberts downtown. Or, I guess, if you didn't mind not getting your negatives back, you could drop it off at a CVS or Walgreens. Of course, getting the negatives back is kinda the whole point of shooting film in 2021.

I haven't bothered trying to put a battery in it to see if the meter works. I have a light meter app on my iPhone if I need it, but C41 negative film has pretty decent exposure latitude and as long as I stick with the "Sunny 16" rule and don't try any really tricky shots, I probably won't need it. Since the camera itself is entirely mechanical, all the battery does is power the meter, anyway.


Monday, January 11, 2021

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #195...

Here's a larger photo of the 509 LS Edge with my Trijicon RM08G mounted:

FN has a video up with, in amongst the expected advertising fluff & superlatives, a good look at the basic features of the pistol.

Because Racegun

My initial look at the FN 509 LS Edge is up at RECOILweb:
"Developed with input from demanding shooters like Dave Sevigny and Tim Kennedy, the FN 509 LS Edge has a host of details to help it deliver the results. For instance, the suppressor-height irons, solid black in the rear and fiber optic with a bright green light pipe up front, line up for a lower-third co-witness on most miniature red-dot sights.

The magazine release, while still ambidextrous, has the right-hand button heavily beveled, almost flush with the frame. This keeps an aggressive high grip from inadvertently dislodging the mag. 

The lightening cuts in the slide of the FN 509 LS Edge aren’t just there to look oh-so-2020; they reduce the mass of the slide, helping to both keep the gun shooting flat and to remain compatible with the recoil spring assembly of its duty-size kin."
Dave Sevigny with the LS Edge

I was proud of the "you might say that a whole legion of Edge variants will follow this one in subsequent years" line. Especially because I first said it during the initial presentation.


Let's get this done.

Indiana's state legislature went into session last week, and saw the introduction of House Bill 1369, which is our latest run at Constitutional Carry. 

This bill does not affect the availability of concealed carry permits for Hoosiers who want one for the purposes of interstate reciprocity or the amended Gun-Free School Zones Act. (This was the error of our first meaningful attempt at Constitutional Carry years ago, which just tore out all permitting language, root and branch.)

We've run this play in the legislature a few times in recent sessions but the former Speaker of the House, despite being a Republican who called himself "Indiana's Conservative Leader" but was mostly in the hip pockets of the State Chambers of Commerce, was a problem. Since the Chambers of Commerce were still buttsore over our expanded preemption law, he dutifully allowed Constitutional Carry to die in committee, session after session.

Well, Bosma's gone now, so let's git 'er done this session. Hoosiers can contact their state reps via link here, although actual letters or phone calls are always more effective at the state legislative level.


Saturday, January 09, 2021

That's a lotta guns...

People don't generally line up like this to buy guns with the intention of turning around and immediately turning them in. Just thought I'd throw that out there.


Friday, January 08, 2021

Not How This Works

The headline on the latest Washington Post opinion page piece on the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha reads:
I understand that the writer is very upset at what they seem to think is a miscarriage of justice, based on their legal training from old Law & Order reruns,'ve got some bad news for them. Neither the number of shots nor the range they were delivered at have any bearing at all on the legality of the shooting.

The question is not how many times the shooter shoots or what range he shoots at, it's:


Thursday, January 07, 2021

The good ol' days...

Man, we were so young and innocent and hopeful then, way back in the salad days of last Friday...

This aged well, too.

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Don't look down, little goat!

Watching them just chill out halfway up the dam is wild, but there are definitely some high pucker factor moments in there, at least if you're cheering for the goats and not gravity.


That's certainly very carefully worded.

The WaPo notes this morning:

Which is technically true, I guess, since the African American senator from formerly Confederate South Carolina, Tim Scott, is not a Democrat.


Tuesday, January 05, 2021

2020 Strikes From Beyond the Grave

It was a lot easier to hoard ammunition when I didn't shoot as much.

2020 was a slow year, and I still burned up a little over six thousand rounds of my own 9x19mm, not counting the couple of times I was lucky enough to get a class with Other People's Ammunition. These days it's a situation of "Beggars Can't Be Choosers" and so my favorite brand of range ammo has been whatever's in stock. For test guns, I only shoot factory ammo for a number of reasons. If I pull components out of storage and set up the reloading press, it's going to be for recreational use only. Or because zombies are in the wire.

Anyway, this year has seen me buying steel-cased TulAmmo at prices that would have been a little high for premium jacketed hollow points in 2019. I've found myself shooting Scorpio, from the Czech Republic, which is a brand I'd never even heard of in the Before Times. (My friends in the EU assure me it's good stuff and a number said it was their preferred brand of range fodder.) And just before Christmas, on December 20th, I ordered some Sarsilmaz 124gr FMJ from at near sixty cents a round.

It shipped from Findlay, Ohio on the 22nd. A couple days after Christmas, I got an email from UPS letting me know that there were weather conditions causing my ground shipment to be delayed in Minneapolis, which seems rather a roundabout way of driving to Indianapolis from north-central Ohio, but okay.

The package finally arrived yesterday morning with a corner of the box stove in. The resulting hole was enough to have let one of the rounds get away, so my 250-round order turned into a 249-round one.

Gotta say I'm not super-impressed with Sarsilmaz's packaging. The material of the boxes is closer to construction paper than cardboard, and the plastic cartridge trays are brittle and flimsy. We'll see how it does when I get to the range with a chrono today or tomorrow.

Monday, January 04, 2021

Changing of the Guard

The Year of Carrying Double-Action didn't work out the way I wanted it to. Initially I was going to tote the Langdon Beretta for a month or two at the beginning of 2019 while I sorted out which plastic double action I'd finish out the year with. One thing led to another and I wound up toting the LTT for the whole year and doing all my schooling and gaming that year with the Spaghetta. I didn't settle into carrying the Grayguns Sig SP2022 until the start of 2020...and then 2020 happened.

What little gun school I managed to get in this year was incidental to various product launches and therefore used whatever guns were provided there. While I toted the Sig for the whole year, between ammo shortages and 'Rona, it just didn't see much work. After Thanksgiving I just put the SP2022 away and finished out the year carrying a 1911 in a Milt Sparks VM-2, waiting for the calendar page to flip...

And now it's 2021 and time for my next CCW gun project. Like I said, I didn't get to much gun school last year, but what little I did all involved shooting dot-sighted guns. Plus, early last year I wrapped up a 2,000 round test on the FN 509 Compact MRD with the Trijicon SRO. I was intrigued by the little gun, only slightly larger than a Glock 26, but with an optic, a usefully-sized accessory rail, and a 12+1 round capacity (15+1 with the 'stendo).

So the plan is for 2021's carry gun to be the little peanut butter colored FN with a mounted Trijicon SRO and a Streamlight TLR-7. I'm initially carrying it in a Spark holster generously provided by Henry Holsters. For now it's strong-side IWB until I shed the COVID nineteen (probably closer to COVID twenty-five, but the bathroom scale's on the fritz).

Whatever classes I manage to enroll in or matches I manage to shoot this year will be with the little FN. The idea of a subcompact pistol with a reasonable mag capacity and a usefully-bright WML is intriguing. I'm not a believer in the necessity of a WML on a carry gun, but I think they're very useful on a firearm used for home defense. Traditionally, this meant either carrying a bulky light you didn't need, or using separate pistols for carry & home, or mounting and removing a WML on your carry gun every morning and evening...none of which are what I'd call optimal solutions. So this is kind of a workaround for all that, a "have your cake and eat it, too" thing.

We'll see.