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.


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.


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.


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.



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?"


Tuesday, March 23, 2021


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.


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.


Sunday, March 21, 2021


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...


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.


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.



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


Saturday, March 20, 2021


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.



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.


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.


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... 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.


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


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


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."


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.


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 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...
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.


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.


Sunday, March 14, 2021


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?


Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #198...

I've had this Nagant M1895 for years, and maybe fired two cylinders of 7.62x38R through it. You used to be able to pick up these weird seven-shooter lungfish, with their godawful DA triggers and antiquated loading gates, for next to nothing.

Marko got this one for me as a gift years ago, back in '01, at a gun show in Knoxville when I couldn't go because I was working at the gun shop that day. Back then you could rummage through a stack and take your pick, usually for fifty bucks or so, and they'd even throw in a box of ammo sometimes. He picked it because it was the oldest one on a dealer's table, and we'd just watched Enemy at the Gates. I mean, hey, it could have been at Stalingrad, right?

I had a .32ACP conversion cylinder for it, but I gave that to Bobbi because she seems to actually like shooting hers. Mine's more what you'd call a conversation piece, although it does work.


From Elsewhere...

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Automotif CCIV...

Nikon 1 V2, 1 Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8

When you drive over to the local BBQ joint and, while you're waiting on your takeout, you glance in the rearview mirror and notice lighting that makes you glad you brought a camera...

I saw this light and had to hop out of the car to take a shot.

If that's the regular lighting over there, I'll be returning some evening to make use of that building as a backdrop.


Never more anticipated...

Nostalgic Saturday Morning...

MeTV has started playing cartoons on Saturday morning, and when I say "cartoons", I mean the original gangsta Chuck Jones Looney Tunes good stuff. 

The real thing. 

You don't even need to pay for it; it's beamed straight through the air to an antenna on your TV for free, paid for by commercials just like the good ol' days.

They just ran The Scarlet Pumpernickel...

This is what made Saturday mornings the absolute highlight of my week when I was little, the way Meet the Press and This Week With George Stephanopoulos are on Sundays now. Bugs and Daffy and cartoon physics are more believable than most senators, though.

Anyway, the schedule's at MeTV's website, and you can probably find out which broadcast TV channel in your area is running MeTV on one of their "virtual channels".


The Internet Was A Mistake

In the never ending war against dumbass ideas, I was looking for MSDS information on oven cleaner because some yahoo in a grammarily-challenged corner of social media was recommending using it instead of pepper spray for self defense.

Don't. It's a dumb idea for several reasons.

People generally want to use sprays when deadly force is not obviously warranted, or in attempt to avert the necessity of using deadly force. Deadly force is defined as force that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury, and serious bodily injury is defined as "bodily injury which involves substantial risk of death, protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ or mental faculty". 

Blinding someone with oven cleaner definitely counts for that latter bit.

Folks, it's hard to explain to a jury why you felt it was cool to blind someone by turning their eyeballs to soap (that's what you get when you mix lye and lipids) but you didn't think they presented enough danger to shoot. People have a very visceral reaction to blinding; the laws of war will let you shoot people, stab them, and blow them up in horrible ways, but blinding weapons are right out

So when my search took me by Quora and I saw the "Related Questions" that people had asked, well, that was about enough internet for one day.

People are messed up, y'all. The internet was a mistake.


Friday, March 12, 2021

Living and learning...

I went up into the attic to rummage around for a round of .38 Spl Nyclad ammunition to photograph for this post, but came up empty-handed. Sorry about that.

Nyclad ammunition originated as a way to minimize lead contamination on indoor ranges by enclosing .38 Special 158gr lead round nosed bullets in a polymer envelope. So you'd get all the benefits of reduced barrel leading offered by jacketed ammo without the expense.

Somehow, over time...and especially after it was discontinued...the hollow point varieties of Nyclad ammo acquired a mystical reputation with some gun nerds as being a wonderbullet in the expansion department. I'm sure there are plenty of nearly 20-year-old posts at The Firing Line and The High Road where I'm extolling the virtues of the standard pressure 125gr hollow point Nyclad .38 Spl load as some sort of ideal self defense round for snubbies. I probably said things about how it expands easily because it doesn't have a jacket to retard expansion or something.

I was wrong, and in multiple ways.

First, standard pressure .38 Special bullets just generally don't expand very reliably at snubnose velocities unless you use a light-for-caliber bullet, like 110gr or 125gr, and even then you need to shoot bare gel or water or some other medium that provides no challenges for the bullet. Four-layer denim? Naw, dog. That bullet ain't expanding.

And not expanding is actually fine for these bullets! Because if a light-for-caliber 110- or 125gr .38Spl bullet does expand, you'll wind up looking at marginal penetration, at best.

It doesn't matter if a bullet hole is .312", .357", or .451" in diameter if it doesn't go through something important.

"Well if that's the case, Tamara, why don't you carry a .22?"

Well, because .22LR at handgun velocities has marginal penetration to begin with and doesn't deal with bone well. But, being aware of its limitations, I still do carry a Smith & Wesson 43C loaded with CCI Mini Mags around the house on those days when I don't change out of pyjamas.

At snub velocities, I'm a lot more worried about penetration than expansion, which is a big part of why I went from carrying a five-shot .38 J-frame to a six-shot .32 H&R Magnum J-frame. No .32 H&R JHP load will reliably expand at snub velocities, but that's okay, I'd rather they didn't. In terminal effect, it doesn't much matter which load you put in the .32 H&R, since they all do the same thing: Shoot pretty much right through a 16" gel block, provided the hollow points don't expand, or you use LSWC ammo in the first place.

To quote my friend Al Thompson, who's shot a thing or two:
Out of an Airweight J, there's not much difference in blast and recoil between a 148gr .38 Spl wadcutter and a 95gr .32 H&R Mag lead semiwadcutter. Both have a flat meplat which should minimize glancing off of ribs and such, and aid in penetration. Both have pretty similar terminal ballistics.

There are a lot more misses on this target than the internet originally led me to believe.

Thursday, March 11, 2021


Today was mostly spent wishing my headache would go away. VFTP will return to our regularly scheduled programming in the AM.


Tuesday, March 09, 2021


Jennifer has an amazing eye for photography that makes me envious. If you aren't following her on Instagram, you're wrong and you should fix that.

And So It Goes...


A panorama from east to west, looking southward on the mystical corner of Westfield and Westfield down in the heart of Broad Ripple Village proper.

Off to the left is the vacant spot where once stood Brugge Brasserie, site of blog meets, get-togethers, and who knows how many lunches. They closed early in 2020 for non-‘Rona-related reasons and swear they’ll reopen someplace with less rapacious rents real soon now.

Dead ahead is the vacant lot where the shell of the Broad Ripple Steakhouse stood. First place I went to eat in Indy. Bobbi took me there for dinner when I drove up from Knoxville that one weekend to see the exhibit of Roman art from the Louvre at IMA back in ‘07. I think the last time I was there was a birthday dinner with Shootin’ Buddy in ‘09 or ‘10. It’s been closed and boarded up for quite while.

Slightly right of center is where the teeny building was that was the original home of Boogie Burger, and then La Chinita Poblana.

It all got pushed over in the last few weeks. I don’t know what’s going in. Probably another four- or five-story “mixed use” apartment building. That’s just what the narrow lanes of Broad Ripple need, another hundred  units or so’s worth of commuters. To say nothing of the effects on a creaking old sewer system designed around single-family dwellings and a few businesses.

Monday, March 08, 2021

Deep Dish Delish

Bobbi has a profusely illustrated post up with her recipe for yesterday's dinner, which was...and I am not kidding here...the best food I've had in a long time. 

I stuffed myself until I could barely move and, in an unprecedented move, left most of a slice of corned beef on the plate so I could finish up the vegetables. The oyster mushrooms and big chunks of russet potatoes that had been stewing in the juices in the bottom of the pan were amazing. I nearly floated blissfully up into the air like that cartoon dog after he ate the biscuit.

Blogging has occurred...

...over at the other blog.

It was supposed to be a sort of Sunday Smith-esque piece but dinner last night was something of a distraction, as shall be explained.


Hey, look!

RECOIL has put the entirety of my Girsan Regard review on the web, free to read. I hope it's as fun to read as it was to write!

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Variations on a Theme

While preparing last Sunday's delicious dinner, Bobbi was already musing aloud about plans for today. I have to say, it smells and looks delicious.

Trying to not enquire about the timer every five minutes is difficult.


"Rangefinder Style"

So, in my attempts to get better at street photography, I've been messing with what are called "rangefinder style" mirrorless cameras. Basically, mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras have sorted themselves out into two major types: "SLR style", which have an electronic viewfinder mounted in a hump at the top, where the prism housing of a single-lens reflex camera would be, and "rangefinder style", which either put the electronic viewfinder in the upper corner of the flat-topped camera body, like old rangefinder film cameras, or dispense with it altogether and just have you compose using the main screen like a point & shoot digicam.

Now, neither variety has the market cornered on retro styling. Sony's cameras, both the "SLR" a7 family and the "rangefinder" NEX/a6xxx cameras, aren't likely to be mistaken for film cameras. Similarly, Canon's EOS M family has both styles, but other than the M6, they are decidedly unretro. The M6, on the other hand... 

"Is that a film camera?" is a common question when carrying the M6. The other key to street photography is a lens generally in the 28mm to 50mm range (in full-frame 35mm terms), with 35mm being a common compromise length. Canon's EF-M line sports a compact 22mm f/2 pancake that is lightweight, sharp, sports an aluminum barrel and manual focus ring, and is very reasonably priced for its performance. It focuses as close as six inches and I used it for a lot of my photography in the dungeon-like basement at SHOT '20.

With the 1.6x crop factor of Canon's APS-C sensor, the lens has an equivalent field of view to 35.2mm in full-frame terms, which puts it right in the sweet spot for street photography.

While only one of Canon's EOS M cameras can be described as retro, pretty much all of Fuji's X-mount cameras echo the lines of film cameras of yore.

While Fujis are heavy on the aesthetic, there is a certain practicality to them as well. The better X-mount lenses, the XF line, have actual rings to turn to adjust aperture, and shutter speed is adjusted via a dial on the top plate. This defies the convention established by Canon's EOS film cameras and since followed by just about everyone else, which has these functions controlled by twiddling multipurpose dials to change numbers on a screen or in the viewfinder.

To get your street photography on, Fuji offers the XF 23mm f/2, which is a fast-focusing lens with rugged weather-resistant construction, outstanding Fuji optics, and a price tag to match, being a full two hundred dollars more than Canon's EF-M pancake. And it's the cheaper of Fuji's two 23mm offerings, with Fuji's XF 23mm f/1.4 giving you another full stop of aperture for almost double the price...oh, and you lose the weather sealing.

If you really want to get dissed for affordable 35mm equivalent lenses, though, you have to go to Sony.

 The Hasselblad Lunar is just a Sony NEX-7 in designer clothing. This isn't entirely a bad thing, as the NEX-7 was a Very Big Deal when it dropped. It's got a 24MP APS-C sensor, which was about as many megapickles as you could get in a crop sensor back in 2011. Along with the Olympus OM-D E-M5, the NEX-7 was the first mirrorless camera to start luring pros away from DSLRs.

Because it's an NEX-7 under the titanium and carbon fiber skin, the Lunar uses the Sony E-mount lens library, and the closest thing you can get to a 35mm equivalent crop-sensor lens from Sony is the Zeiss Sonnar T* 24mm f/1.8, which is only a third of a stop brighter than the 22mm Canon or 23mm Fuji, and comes with an eye-watering $1000+ price tag.

This whole thing with the rangefinder-style cameras to learn some street photography skills is just a fun side project for me, and the Lunar is essentially a toy and not something I use for work, so there's no way I'm dropping a grand on a lens for it. Fortunately Tamron makes a well-regarded 24mm f/2.8 for a fifth of the money. Unfortunately it's intended for full-frame cameras, so it's a little on the chonky side since it has to throw a bigger image circle, but it's still small and light compared to the bazooka-like superzooms common on DSLRs these days.