Friday, April 30, 2021

It's Holden!

Photographed with a Fuji X-T2 & 18-55mm f/2.8-4

QotD: Ouch! Edition

"The only instinct human beings are born with is sucking. A good many never get much past that." -Roberta X

Knowing Your Background

Among the great purging of books I'm doing, the filter for keeping a physical hard copy on the shelf is somewhere between "Am I going to read this again?" and "Is it of enough personal significance that I want the actual dead tree book as opposed to just a file on a device?"

The latest series to fall under scrutiny is Jack Whyte's Camulod Chronicles. I really love the premise and late Classical to early post-Roman Britain is a fascinating historical setting for me. In the early Fifth Century, Britain was a tranquil backwater of empire that had been Roman turf longer than there's been a United States, and within fifty years was dealing with increasing encroachment of Germanic raiders and settlers and the collapse of an urban civilization.

The first few books I really love, and it's probably ironic that they're basically a setup piece for the Arthurian stuff...which I've read through once and don't have any real desire to slog through again. I'm currently re-reading the first four books to decide whether I keep only the first three or hold on to The Saxon Shore as well.

The second book, The Singing Sword, has Merlin's uncle, Arthur's grandpa, forging Excalibur from meteoric iron, and it tickles me the way that Jack Whyte tortures himself to come up with a way to have the character "invent" the hand-and-a-half bastard sword while not realizing that the Roman cavalry already had spathas

He winds up trying to combine the properties of sword and spear to give the new mounted warriors (because we only have a few books to get to knights, right?) something long enough for a mounted man to hit an enemy foot soldier. Fortunately that bit is mercifully quick and doesn't throw me completely out of the story. Migration-period technology had already worked out how to smack a dude with sharp steel from horseback, and a real Excalibur probably would have looked like this, rather than a prop from the 1981 John Boorman film.

Completely gratuitous sword photo

I get that half the fun is trying to work our way to the Arthurian mythos from Romano-British roots and put some flesh on the legend's bones (Minor Spoiler: While waiting for swordly inspiration to strike, our protagonist keeps the metal stored in the form of the statue of a nymph, which statue he names "The Lady of the Lake",) but some more technical military study to accompany the historic stuff probably would have helped keep war nerds like me happy. 

He's got the Roman troops in late-4th Century Britain running around in lorica, with the shields and weapons of late-Republican/early-Imperial legionaries. A dude with a gladius, pilum, and scutum in a Roman legion of 400AD would look as out of place as a guy with a tricorn and a Brown Bess in a military formation today.

Anyway, I'm having fun with the reread, but I had to vent.


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Automotif CCXIII...

Here's something you don't see too often: A 1966 Dodge Charger just out and about in public. Totally coincidentally, a dude I know knows the person who just sold it, and says it's a 440cid 4-speed car.

The dash illumination in these things was wild and was super science fiction-y for the era.

That huge rear window slope caused problems with lift at NASCAR speeds, and so Dodge quickly got a spoiler offered as a factory option to homologate it for racing, making the Charger the first domestic car offered with a decklid spoiler available from the factory.

Car and Driver tested a 1966 Charger back when they were brand new. The test car was a 383cid car with the 3-speed TorqueFlite automatic and a 3.23:1 rear end, with a sticker price of $3,471.83 FOB Detroit. It managed a 7.8 second zero-to-sixty run and a 16.2 second quarter mile at 88mph. Given the final drive ratio and the bias ply tires, that sounds about right, especially since the 4-bbl 383 big block, even with the 10:1 compression ratio, probably made something like 250bhp or less in modern SAE Net terms and had to push nearly two tons of car. C/D estimated top speed at 120mph.

Knowing this car has a 440 and a 4-speed, and looking at those subtly widened rear rims, I'd bet it's a lot quicker than that.



"I have carried a 7.5” Blackhawk in .45 Colt crossdraw in a nylon holster while working at a gun store, and I was only carrying it a little ironically. At least it was one of the more upscale suede lined nylon holsters?

Oh, and it was loaded with Glasers because of course it was. I mean at that point, why not?

I was being fundamentally unserious. In my defense, it was a long time ago. 

Oh, and "Derpeste" = "The derp in me recognizes and acknowledges the derp in you.

We've all been there before and we'll all be there again. Self-betterment in any field of endeavor is a constant process and not a destination.

I'm glad that stuff I wrote on gun forums twenty years ago...heck, stuff I wrote on this blog only five years still out there. Yeah, I cringe a little when reading it, but it keeps me grounded. I've said some dumb stuff in the past and I'll probably say more dumb stuff tomorrow, from the viewpoint of myself five years from now.

Here's one: I really dig this gun, but in retrospect, Mag-Na-Porting on a defensive gun isn't exactly optimal*, and any .41 Mag loads I'd carry for defense would hardly require the porting in a 4" N-frame, anyway.

*And not for the reason the internet told me twenty years ago, which was "You'll blind yourself at night with the flash from the ports." The fact of the matter is that any flash from the ports is going to be swamped by the flash from the muzzle anyway. The real reason is because porting (as opposed to actual expansion chamber compensators) tend to expel jacket or bullet shavings and unburned powder flakes, and if you're shooting from a good thumb-pectoral indexed retention position, you are likely to get tattooed by this ejecta.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021


Yamaha's original Virago from the early Eighties was an unusual cruiser in that it didn't just completely ape Harley Davidson design language. There were no fake rocker boxes on the engine, which instead seemed to emphasize its overhead-camness. Further, since the bike used a backbone frame with the engine as a stressed member, it was just kinda hanging our there for all to see, with no downtubes on the frame to obscure your view of the mechanicals.

As you can see, it makes a great base for turning into a very British-looking cafe racer. It's got kind of a cool retro vibe, enhanced by what looks to be a Bren gun mag pouch for storing tools and incidentals.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Are you being played?

Did that tweet or social media post get you mad? Did it make you feel despair? Did you immediately want to share it because it pushed your buttons so hard?
"There used to be a distinction between Russian and Chinese activities in cyberspace. While China concentrated on cyber-espionage, plundering secrets from Western corporate and government systems, the Russians were the vandals. They launched destructive cyberattacks while engaging in disinformation and hack-and-leak operations, tactics with their roots in the Cold War heyday of ‘active measures’. Their aim was to sow division, doubt and distrust, spotting and exploiting cracks to weaken the target. Those aims have not changed.

Now Russian and Chinese tactics are converging. Both use social media to peddle disinformation and toxic content, amplifying fringe media, obscure ‘experts’ and conspiracy theorists.

The aim of both is not only to obscure facts but to disorient and depress: when Zhao Lijian pumped out tweets after the Manhattan attack, the content was carefully chosen. The posts he shared were not the angriest, but they were full of despair: ‘What the hell is wrong with people?’, ‘This is incredibly difficult to watch’, ‘Oh my God, what is happening to this country?’ ‘This is a state of emergency.’
A timely article, because my friends at the Tactical Tangents podcast were just discussing this very thing.


Monday, April 26, 2021

Automotif CCXII...

Spotted in a parking lot in Martinsville after dinner Sunday evening was this '70 'Vette. Peak 'Murrica here in the heart of American-occupied America:

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Much Learning Occurred.

This was such a well-rounded two-day class. It can be a bit of a drink from the firehose, but there's a lot of material that's not covered by yet another five-round drill from the seven yard line.

Identifying and interacting with suspicious-looking (or -acting) strangers. Deselection, avoiding getting entangled in unwanted conversations. How to carry...and when and how to use...pepper spray.

There's basic trauma self-care stuff, things like telling the difference between arterial and venous bleeding, and applying tourniquets and pressure dressings.

The targets were verbally engaged and early on, visual rather than audible cues for drawing and shooting were incorporated. A lot of emphasis was placed on not robotically drawing and shooting.

Of course there was shooting...

...and coaching...

...and watching skills get validated by having to verbally...and perhaps ballistically...engage three-dimensional, moving, interactive targets.

Concealed Carry: Street Encounter Skills and Tactics remains my default recommendation when someone asks me "Hey, I've taken a basic CCW class, but what should I take next?"


Friday, April 23, 2021

Like Stalin said...

..."Dark humor is like food; not everybody gets it."

Ugh, the internet.

"Why didn't he fire a warning shot?"

Okay, first, because even warning shots land someplace. Whose living room would you like it to land in? Second, because she was in the middle of stabbing someone, so there wasn't a lot of time for warning people.

"Why didn't he shoot her in the leg?"

Oh, man, when are we going to rid people of the damfool notion that it's possible to shoot someone a little bit? A bullet in the knee can leave someone crippled for life, possibly resulting in amputation. A bullet in the thigh (or, like I unbelievably heard someone suggest, the "butt") can sever the femoral artery and cause them to bleed to death right there on the spot. Also, she was in the middle of stabbing somebody, so there wasn't a lot of time to play eeny-meeny-miney-moe with bullet placement.

"Why didn't he deescalate?"

The time to deescalate someone is before they start stabbing people. Once they're actively trying to stick a knife in someone, which is lethal force, it is generally accepted that you may use drastic measures before they can finish killing that person.

I don't know everything that led up to the shooting of that girl. Supposedly she was the one who called the cops. Maybe she got tired of waiting and decided to take matters into her own hands? There's also the phenomenon where people call the police and automatically think that it activates the "I'm the Good Guy" light over their head, that the cops will show up, divine that they are the injured party, and back their play. This is how the occasional homeowner gets shot by responding officers when they wander out looking for the burglar with a gun in their hand.

There's a lot here we don't know, and it sure seems crappy all around, but an LEO shooting Person A to stop them in the act of using clearly visible lethal force against Person B is usually pretty cut and dried.


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Automotif CCXI...

Oh, hey, look! It's the new (G42 series) BMW M440i! Hey, that's a pretty slick-looking ride from the side...

Let's walk around to the front of the car and see what's shakin' up there...

EWW! It looks, to steal a line from my friend TC, like a Mustang had sex with a naked mole rat. That, or some sort of angry cyborg attack beaver. That snout is going to take some getting used to, not gonna lie. I realize that, thanks to Audi and Lexus, great gaping maws of grille up front are the style of the time (the latest iteration of the Genesis sedans look like they might accidentally inhale a Smart or Scion iQ) but BMW's traditional split grille does the look no favors aesthetically. 

I get that all the new BMW's are going to be rolling over to the giant beaver-toothed snout. It's the marque's new design language and will be with us for the next 5-8 model years in some variation or another. But Mercedes finally gave up on even the faintest hint of a faux radiator shell decades ago and Lincoln Continentals lost the vestigial fake spare tire hump about the time they lost rear wheel drive, yet BMW is going to find a way to keep the now meaningless kidney blobs on the front end from now til doomsday.

I'd say I was never going to get used to it, but I also have to acknowledge that I used to say that about the Bangle era and now, with the right wheels, the E60 5-series is among my favorite Bimmers.

Everything Old is New Again...

...or, "There is nothing new under the sun." (Although the opinions seen as publishable in The Atlantic have definitely swung a hundred and eighty degrees.)

From June of 1896: 
"But it is not alone that the presumption regarding the immigrant of today is so widely different from that which existed regarding the immigrant of thirty or fifty years ago. The immigrant of the former time came almost exclusively from western and northern Europe. We have now tapped great reservoirs of population then almost unknown to the passenger lists of our arriving vessels. Only a short time ago, the immigrants from southern Italy, Hungary, Austria, and Russia together made up hardly more than one per cent of our immigration. To-day the proportion has risen to something like forty per cent, and threatens soon to become fifty or sixty per cent, or even more. The entrance into our political, social, and industrial life of such vast masses of peasantry, degraded below our utmost conceptions, is a matter which no intelligent patriot can look upon without the gravest apprehension and alarm. These people have no history behind them which is of a nature to give encouragement. They have none of the inherited instincts and tendencies which made it comparatively easy to deal with the immigration of the olden time. They are beaten men from beaten races; representing the worst failures in the struggle for existence. Centuries are against them, as centuries were on the side of those who formerly came to us. They have none of the ideas and aptitudes which fit men to take up readily and easily the problem of self-care and self-government, such as belong to those who are descended from the tribes that met under the oak-trees of old Germany to make laws and choose chieftains."

From April of 2021:
"This is utter fantasy. European immigrants at the turn of the century faced nothing like the restrictions that prospective immigrants face today, let alone the immense, militarized deportation machine Americans have come to accept. They were poor, uneducated, and didn’t even need to speak English to enter the country; a minuscule fraction were excluded. The distinction between immigration before and after 1965 is that in that year, the U.S. repealed restrictions based on race and ethnicity that almost entirely prevented immigration from Asian and Africa. The America First Caucus document’s falsehoods about post-1965 immigration echo Anglo-Saxonism’s pseudoscientific presumptions that recent immigrants are somehow qualitatively incapable of “self-care and self-government.”"

Wednesday, April 21, 2021


Yesterday morning's typing was interrupted by a loud sound from down the hall. I couldn't identify it, and assumed one of the cats had knocked over something heavy.

Bobbi, on the other hand, identified it immediately. "Oh, no! Holden jumped in the tub!"

Sure enough, a large fluffy cat came tear-assing out of the bathroom into the dining room, where he hung a u-turn and came barreling back down the hall to launch himself onto the typewriter shelf of Bobbi's desk, chirring and whirring with indignation the whole time.

Bobbi scooped him up and swaddled him in a towel. Only his legs were really wet; he must've practically bounced out of the water. I spent the next few minutes with a handful of paper towels mopping up the dining room floor in between fits of giggles.

We don't know if he'd been standing on the edge of the tub and slipped, or if he just jumped in without looking.

Random Holden photo, because the internet likes cat pictures.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Out of Touch

"Abolish the police" only plays well with the far end of your base, you know. If you're trying to scare the center back toward the GOP, you're going about it the right way. Crime scares people, and while even the most normie suburbanites are mad at the po-po when they get a speeding ticket, they don't call for social workers when someone burglarizes their house.

This is the kind of mindset that comes from living in bubbles of groupthink.


QotD: Applied Skills Edition...

From Chris over at Amplified Being:
"My sub-1.2 second draw to first shot or 0.2 second split times (time between shots) aren’t helpful if I don’t understand when I am legally permitted to use lethal force. If I execute that draw to first shot and split times in a legally and morally unjustifiable manner, I’m just rushing to jail-time. In fact, being ignorant and wrong with lots of speed is probably worse than just being wrong, because it’s a lot harder to get on the brakes in time."
It's a good post and you should go and read the whole thing.


Saturday, April 17, 2021

Friday, April 16, 2021

What she said...

" Whatever else their motives -- mental imbalance, loathing some person or group, wanting to begin war between sexes, races or religions, and so on -- all of these shooters give a credible impression of seeking attention. Of desiring posthumous fame. One strikes and is a three-day sensation in the news online and over the air, and others follow, time and again.

  We've got to stop making these horrible losers famous. Whatever else we do -- and there's a long list of suggestions, from "ban all the guns" to "arm everyone," with stops at "put a policeman on every corner" and various sorts of profiling -- we have got to stop making them famous.

Automotif CCX...

When Alfa Romeo sold their Alfetta 2000 here, they worried that the "Alfetta" name wouldn'd translate well to the American market, so it was called the Alfa Romeo Sport Sedan for the US market. A forty-odd year old Alfa moving under its own power on a public road in the Midwest is the opposite of common.


It doesn't work like that.

So, some dude on the gunternet made the claim that he could draw a .22WMR NAA Mini from his pocket and put all five rounds into a playing card sized target at five feet in less than two seconds, strong hand only.

Pardon my bluntness, but that claim is simply bullshit and is the sort of gun forum nonsense spouted by people who wouldn't know what button to push on a timer to make it go "beep" in the first place.

A fast pocket draw to a relatively wide-open target like a USPSA A-zone or the IDPA eight-inch-diameter "-0" circle can indeed be done by a reasonably decent shooter in less than a second, starting with the hand in the pocket. (Starting with your hand on the gun is the easiest way to a sub-second draw.)

Those NAA Mini shots on the upper A-zone were from low-ready, SHO, with the assistance of a laser, and I doubt any of them were under a second.

Maybe if you'd practiced a lot, you could reliably and repeatably duplicate that performance with a firearm you had to thumb-cock...maybe, on an A-zone or 8" circle. On a playing card? Even at five feet, reliably and every time? I'm dubious.

And then you have to thumb-cock the firearm and hit that playing card four more times in the remaining second you have before your claimed par time runs out.

If you've got video of yourself shooting .25 splits strong hand only on a playing card with an NAA, I'd really like to see that. Just making the claim is a strong indicator that you're talking out your ass.

NAA Minis and derringers can be shot more accurately than most people think, but that doesn't make them practical choices for self defense in a world where much better choices exist. Having to thumb-cock the firearm on the draw when you've only got a one- or two-finger grip on it at best is a huge downcheck right there.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Gen X Check

A friend posted this video from back in the day...

What's funny is that I was kind of a fan of the Crash Test Dummies. I loved, loved, loved God Shuffled His Feet...almost the whole album, but especially the title track and "Afternoons & Coffeespoons"... except that one track, the one that was their biggest hit, got on my last damn nerve so hard.

Fortunately the cassette deck in my car had auto-FF so you could skip to the next track. I'll bet that, with sophisticated enough measuring devices, that length of the magnetic tape (which is still in the attic somewhere) is measurably thicker than the rest of the ribbon for having hardly been played.

Here, enjoy the much better "Afternoons & Coffeespoons"...

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

What he said...

The LE/professional X26 and X2 Tasers as well as the commercially-marketed Taser Pulse are all gun-shaped, which strikes me as a monumentally bad idea. This is aggressively the opposite of poka-yoke.

The original Tasers looked more like Dustbusters than guns...


Duplication of Effort

The situation in Minnesota the other day, where an officer apparently drew a gun before lethal force was really justified and then seems to have mistaken it for a Taser reminded me of a force-on-force encounter in ECQC a few years ago.

In that encounter, the student with the sims gun, who we'll call "M", was accosted by the instigator, "J". I can't remember what the details of the shouting match were, probably something vehicle-related. ("Why were you speeding down the street?" or "That's my parking space!" are reliable sources of beef.)

Anyway, M was startled enough by the intensity of J's angry yelling and gesticulating that he drew his sims gun...and immediately realized that he had a gun out in a situation where there was no direct threat or cause for lethal force to be employed.

So now M is stuck trying to do several things: Keep talking, to try and calm J down. Stay out of J's reach. Keep his Beretta in snug against his body where it's unlikely to be grabbed, while simultaneously keeping the muzzle averted, because pointing a gun at someone you ain't got any business pointing a gun at is a crime in pretty much every jurisdiction.

At this point the third student, "S", enters the scene in full "WHAT THE F&%$ ARE YOU DOING? WHAT'S WITH THE GUN? YOU GONNA SHOOT HIM OVER A PARKING SPACE?" yelling mode. That's when M had the presence of mind to fish his (inert) OC spray out and give S a faceful of it and, as J stepped in, he gave J a dousing for good measure.

It was a novel solution and backwards from how these things usually work...

Anyway, I wanted to get a picture of it and so I want combing through the hundreds and hundreds of RAW images I had from my Albuquerque ECQC trip of 2018. I found I had a few dozen images of that particular 2-on-1 evolution, and so I sweated my way through all of them, trying to find the one that would serve as the best illustration.

Having picked one, I cropped it to show just the relevant part, adjusted it to get the horizon level, and fiddled with the exposure and color a tiny bit to make me happy...

Then I went to save the processed pic in my "2018-10-29 ABQ ECQC Processed" folder, only to find this photo already there, from where I'd done the same thing three years ago...

I think it's funny that I selected the same image and cropped it almost identically three years apart, although I seem to favor more saturated colors and punchier contrast these days.


Sunday, April 11, 2021


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

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


Asking the important questions...


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.


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.


"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.


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.

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, 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.


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."