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."