Monday, May 31, 2021

Faster than a speeding...

Rinus VeeKay, in the Bitcoin-sponsored car, qualified third and started on the front row. He surged ahead and led the race for thirty-some laps before mysteriously collapsing and finishing weaker than he expected, although he's expected to come back strongly later in the season... like some kind of giant 700 horsepower metaphor.



So, it all started with a beautiful photo essay in the NYT on the coconut crab trade on Makatea in French Polynesia. With the phosphate mine closed, it said the population on the atoll has dwindled from over a thousand to about eighty permanent residents. Though there's hope for tourism, a major export right now is coconut crabs.

The crab hunters have to traverse a moonscape of extraction pits, most of them seven and a half feet across and fifty to seventy-five feet deep, at night, to go check the crab traps in the best hunting grounds. You can see this wild terrain from space.

That looks like a pretty sporty walk in the woods.

Anyway, that led me to the Wikipedia article on coconut crabs, which led me to the one on Christmas Island, which led me to virtually browsing the shelves at the Christmas Island Supermarket.

They've got a pretty good selection of Pantene, Oreos, and Knob Creek, if that's your thing. America turns up in the weirdest places.

Wandering around far-flung corners of the world via Googlesat and Street View is a pretty interesting time killer, actually.

One of the more engrossing streetscapes I've found is Iquitos in Peru. It's not connected to the rest of Peru by road or rail and can only be reached by air or by freighter up the Amazon. Because of that, cars and trucks are relatively uncommon, and the city swarms with motorcycles and motorized trikes.

I remember scanning around it by satellite and Street View and chatting with Bobbi...
Me: "Man, the better parts of town I've found all have extensive bars on doors and porches and have a sort of run down look like the scruffier parts of New Orleans. I guess the war against mildew is tough when your city has the climate of a shower stall. The bad parts of town look like Mogadishu without the bullet holes. It's like there's not a nice neighborhood."

RX: "Keep looking. The mayor has to live somewhere."

Memorial Day 2021



Sunday, May 30, 2021

How my day went...

The initial charge into turn one. Pardon the potato photo. I have something like a thousand images to sort through hoping something turned out.

South Vista upper deck with a beautiful view of turn one. I have a ton of pics to process and a report on the day to write, so stay tuned!

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Automotif CCXVII...

As I was exiting Fresh Market with a sack full of dinner fixings, something there in the traffic on College Avenue caught my eye...

Fortunately I had the D5000 wearing the 18-200mm superzoom on it.

It's a McLaren 720S Spider!

Thursday, May 27, 2021

It's Holden!

I couldn't help it. 

Holden was laying there with the light from the window on him, and my Nikon D3000 with the 35mm f/1.8 was right there in arm's reach...


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

More of this, please.

Zoom Hate

I think some of the residual hate toward zoom lenses comes from the fact that some early ones were truly awful, and even the good modern ones are usually slower than their fixed focal length equivalents. An f/2.8 zoom is pretty fast, after all.

But sometimes you need one to get the shot.

It's not like you can hop in the cage with the tiger, after all...

...and nobody wants to schlep a half-dozen different prime lenses around the zoo and swap them out constantly.

Although shooting the zoo with a lone prime lens would be a fun project...


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

It makes me so mad!

“Did you watch the news last night?”

“Yeah, I watched [Tucker Carlson/Rachel Maddow].”

Except that’s not the news. That’s an editorial program where a person gets performatively angry about their opinion of selected bits of news so that you get angry about it along with them...righteously angry enough to sit through an hour’s worth of commercials. 

It’s not news, it’s irritainment.


“Why is movie blurry?”

I'm seeing lots of chatter about the cinematography of Zack Snyder's latest effort. Some people seem confused by the blurry backgrounds...
First and foremost, some scenes have a blurry, dreamlike quality to them because of Zack Snyder’s use of the Canon 50mm f/.0.95 lens, nicknamed the Canon Dream Lens, a relatively obscure piece of equipment developed in Japan in the 1960s and 1970s.

Snyder, who also acted as cinematographer on Army of the Dead, specifically utilized the full-frame Rangefinder lenses...

Here's a little more on the Canon "dream lens".

Army of the Dead is a two and a half hour orgy of violence, dark humor, and acre after acre of dreamy gorgeous ethereal bokeh. Not only was it mostly shot with those old Canon f/0.95 lenses, but he had them jammed WFO the whole time.

If you’re looking for a technical instruction documentary on proper firearms handling and helicopter maintenance in a zombie epidemic, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re looking for a popcorn munching action zombie darkly comedic heist flick with FRICKING GORGEOUS CINEMATOGRAPHY as well as all the bokeh? Your movie is here.


Monday, May 24, 2021

That's a bold move.

"Belarusian authorities scrambled a fighter jet and flagged what turned out to be a false bomb alert to force a Ryanair plane to land on Sunday and then detained an opposition-minded journalist who was on board, drawing condemnation from Europe and the United States.

In what was described by some EU leaders as a hijacking, the passenger plane flying from Athens to Lithuania was suddenly diverted to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, escorted there by a Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jet.

I don't think that describing this as a state-sanctioned hijacking of a foreign-flagged airliner is at all inaccurate, if some of what's being said is true.

The flight originated in Greece and was bound for Lithuania, and was aboard a Polish-registered aircraft operated by a subsidiary of Ireland-based Ryanair. Understandably, rather a large number of nations and organizations are a bit cross with the Byelorussian government at the moment.


Seen it before...

The nation's crazy uncle hasn't updated his new blog in a few days. I've seen it so many times, they always start out with the best intentions and go strong for a few weeks or a month, but gradually it begins to feel like a chore and the updates come fewer and farther between...


Sunday, May 23, 2021

Today's GoogleSat find...

I was steering the GoogleSat view around southern Germany and ran across this oddity parked out front of the Dornier museum...

I wondered what it was...and what was up with those big long wingtip nacelles.

Turns out they're full of lift! That's one of the surviving Dornier Do-31 VTOL transport prototypes.



The adorable little Renault 4L was out and about again today!

It's such an adorable little car, and so very French. This is a very late production one, from long after the car was outdated. Among its more charmingly eccentric features is the fact that the torsion bars for the rear trailing arm suspension are one in front of the other, but the trailing arms themselves are of equal length, so the wheelbase on the driver's side is slightly shorter than on the passenger's side.


Saturday, May 22, 2021


People are worried about being mistaken for one of... them.

"Alas, those who had hoped that the long saga might finally be over were swiftly disappointed, for, as we have should have learned by now, COVID abhors a vacuum. Almost immediately, a new talking point popped up — this one in the form of a question. “Sooo,” Katie S. Phang inquired, “how does one tell the difference between a fully vaccinated person and a not vaccinated person?” On Morning Joe, Dr. Michael Osterholm echoed Phang, suggesting that “The next question is going to be, ‘How will we know if someone has been vaccinated?’ If you’re sitting close to someone at a restaurant or . . . in a theater, how are you going to know that they’re not just kind of fibbing?”

The answer to this, of course, is that you can’t know, but, that if you’re vaccinated, it doesn’t matter whether you know, because unvaccinated people can’t hurt you. Or, at least, that’s the answer if one assumes that the fear is medical in nature. But, of course, it’s not. It’s social. What Phang, Osterholm, and their many fellow travelers are really asking is, “Without masks, how will I know who to disrespect?” Evidently, the final transmutation of the virus has been from epidemiological marker to political totem.

Apparently "Science is Real" is just a slogan for lawn signs.

Lest you think I'm kidding about this fear of being mistaken for one of... them, check this tweet out:

Cultural Literacy

This morning's serving of Saturday morning cartoons on MeTV had some gems: The Coyote & the Roadrunner in Scrambled Aches, the lone Dr. Seuss/Warner Bros collaboration in Horton Hatches the Egg, and probably the best face-off between Bugs and Yosemite Sam, 1949's High Diving Hare.

Incidentally, Wikipedia is home to a level of Looney Tunes scholarship that is otaku-level obsessively detailed:
"[C]artoonist Jeff Smith writes, "Written by Ted Pierce, High Diving Hare is a one-gag cartoon. Seriously — there is only one joke in this cartoon. Yosemite Sam falls 500 feet into a barrel of water, over and over again. And it gets funnier and funnier with each whistling plunge... The timing of Sam's high diving is all the more remarkable when you think about the fact that Warner's directors had no budget for editing after the film was finished. All the timing for action and gags was set in stone before a single frame was drawn. All Looney Tunes are fast, pared-down affairs that never waste a frame, but even by these standards, High Diving Hare is a precision masterpiece.""

Friday, May 21, 2021

Automotif CCXVI...


Nothing particularly special about it, just a Land Rover Discovery with some off-road kit. (I have not the first notion about off-roading, and so I don't know what's good stuff and what's poseur fluff.)

What caught my eye was the lighting, which was late afternoon sun starting to peek out from under leaden storm clouds. The gold SUV was almost luminous in that light and I was wondering if the camera would catch it or not.


Wednesday, May 19, 2021


Bitcoin is currently doing one of those things Bitcoin occasionally does.

This is resulting in normal people scratching their heads and business journalists to quickly churn out thinkpieces:

"But sometimes things go down because they are going down. Investors who bought early are looking to lock in gains, while recent arrivals to the crypto game are panicking. Selling begets selling.

When stock bubbles pop, the selling usually stops when shares drop well below intrinsic value and become attractive to a new class of value investors who didn’t partake in the market froth.

Cryptocurrencies are different. They have no intrinsic value, which means there’s no telling when the selling might stop.
Events like this are practically a jobs program for tech journalists willing to try and explain blockchain.

Still, it's worth looking at the overall arc of these things.

Personally, I like to believe that somewhere there's a fedora-wearing neckbeard who had to move home with Mom & Dad when his game store assistant manager job went away during the height of the 'Rona. Then he put all of his TrumpBucks into Dogecoin because he was stoned and thought it was funny. He cashed out sometime in the last month and is currently living in a 20-room mansion built entirely of rare boxed Funko Pops and has a vape pen powered by a twin-turbo Lamborghini V-10.

The Window-Licker Defense

Declaring that your client is a gullible paste-eater as a mitigating factor is an amusing twist on the Twinkie defense.

Monday, May 17, 2021


When I got back into film photography back at the end of 2013, it was mostly by accident; the result of buying a Leica R4 on a lark just because it was so cheap that I could afford what was once an unattainable object of desire just to put on my desk as a fidget spinner.

Seriously, it was something like ninety bucks at KEH, a tenth of what it had cost new in the Eighties.

Film cameras... even Leicas, other than the rarer variants of the classic M-series... had fallen into the Trough of No Value.

Yet these days, the prices of film cameras are soaring, thanks to the constraints of supply and demand.

Supply is, of course, pretty much fixed. Other than the Veblen goods from Leica and semi-disposable plastic toys, nobody is making any more. Actually, the supply is shrinking, since film cameras that break often can't be repaired, especially if they're later electronic ones. 

That shrinking supply is being pursued by increasing demand, and the demand isn't coming from where you'd think it would. Among my photographer friends, I'm an oddity in that most folks I know who were around in the days of emulsion and developer are glad to have abandoned film and have no desire to return to it, even recreationally. Oleg, Kevin, and Yamil all look at me like I'm a little touched in the head when I get excited about a new-to-me film camera.

It's not the nostalgia of Boomers and GenX, but rather interest from younger Millennials and Zoomers that is driving this resurgence in analog photography. This dude made a video summary of his bachelor's thesis on the film renaissance, and it's quite nicely done, artificial film artifacts and all:

As a result, I've probably missed the boat on a few things. 

Back when I was first nosing around film camera prices eight years ago, the less desirable Leica M models were expensive, but not prohibitively so. There were a few you could even pick up for five bills or less. Now you can't touch a Leica M-anything for under a grand, and that's just more than I'm willing to plop down on what is, ultimately, a toy for me.

Nikon F3's and F100's aren't prohibitively expensive, but they've reached a price point where I'm not going to buy one just to fill a space on a collection shelf. Anything I could do with the F100, I could do with the F5 or N80 I already have, likewise the F3 basically being a duplication of effort with my FM2.

Even the older Barnack Leicas have doubled or tripled in price since I started paying attention, and hipster street photographers have driven the prices of the more popular high-end point-and-shoot cameras into the stratosphere.

I should have grabbed an M3 back when they were just spendy and not ridiculous.

Oh, well.


Saturday, May 15, 2021

Automotif CCXV...

BRICS, the ice cream shop on the Monon Trail in the heart of Broad Ripple Village, has the most incredibly twee ice cream truck: A Citroen H Van.

The H Van was a commercial cargo van offered by Citroen in the early postwar period. Debuting in 1947, it remained in production largely unchanged until 1981.

Unusual for a van, it was of unit-body construction, with no underlying ladder frame. This fact and the fact that it was front-wheel drive allowed it to have a long, low, unobstructed cargo floor, barely above axle-height. Supposedly the floor structure was strong enough to support a horse. The driveline was a longitudinal inline 4-cylinder above and ahead of the transaxle; basically a Traction Avant's powertrain rotated through 180 degrees. 

The somewhat faired-in front turn signal lamps and the squared rear fenders make this a 1970 or later. Almost certainly a gray-market import, since we'd enacted the Chicken Tax* by then.

*The Chicken Tax is why you can't get any of the cool little commercial vehicles manufactured in foreign countries. It's also why the Subaru BRAT had those weird plastic seats in the bed.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Welcome Back, Carter

Gas lines, inflation fears, problems with Iran, Roger Stone... all we need now is a helicopter evacuation off the rooftop of the embassy in Kabul and we'll have the whole 1970s vibe down cold.

Considering that he got his start in politics back in the Seventies, when probably the two biggest issues that didn't involve the Cold War were Crime and Inflation, Biden seems pretty unconcerned about either issue, at least publicly.

On inflation...
“A specter is haunting the Biden administration—the specter of inflation,” writes Matthew Continetti at the conservative Washington Free Beacon. “[F]or a politician who came to Washington in 1973, Joe Biden has a lackadaisical attitude toward inflationary fiscal and monetary policy. Was he paying attention? It was the great inflation of the ’60s and ’70s, caused in part by high spending, the Arab oil embargo, and spiraling wages and prices in a heavily regulated and unionized economy, that helped ruin the presidencies of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.”
...and crime...
Looking at it from today’s relatively safe world, you might be tempted to think concerns about crime were overwrought, but as criminal justice professor Barry Latzer observed, “Starting in the late 1960s, when the Great Crime Tsunami rolled over the nation, the [New York City’s] murder rates soared above 10 per 100,000 for a sustained period, skyrocketing to a terrifying 30.1 in 1990. Memories of those years haunt us still...”'s getting to feel like That Seventies Show.


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

"Would You Like To Know More?"

Tested some off-brand, light-for-caliber JHP .45 ammo yesterday and wrote up the results at the Patreon blog. 


Gun Fight

Back in the early Nineties, the legal slapfight between Glock and Smith & Wesson got so acrimonious that you couldn't buy their products from the same wholesalers, and Glock changed the rollmark on their model 22 and 23 pistols from ".40S&W" to just plain ".40".

Now it looks like Sig Sauer is going after Springfield Armory, claiming that the magazines for the latter's Hellcat infringe on two patents that the former filed for the P365's sticks. No telling if this will get as involved as Glock v. S&W, but certain corners of the gunternet are getting out their fanboy flags.


Photo Phreakout

By now you've no doubt seen the photo of the Bidens and the Carters that was Tweeted by the Carter Center:

Well, like everything else, people felt compelled to talk out their asses on the internet about it, and I've heard everything from "green screen" to "deepfake" to "Photoshop", most of which made me laugh.

I was going to use my 17-35mm zoom to illustrate wide-angle distortion, since it covers a good range of focal lengths from the wide end of "normal" all the way out to ultrawide. But I am lazy, and The Online Photographer beat me to it, anyway.

He's got a good breakdown of what you're looking at, but the teal deer* is that if you look at Jimmy, who is leaning back in his chair (and what photographer is going to tell a nonagenarian ex-president to sit up straight?), you'll notice that his feet look much larger than they should, relative to his head. The optical illusion is heightened by the wizened Rosalynn, who was 5'5" in her prime, sitting slightly abaft six-footer Joe.

There are plenty of real worrisome things happening in the world without inventing flat-earth, fake-moon-landing, chemtrails-tier nonsense about a photo that doesn't even look weird if you know anything about lenses.

*That's tl;dr†, for the unhip
†tl;dr means "too long; didn't read", for the extremely unhip

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

"Honey, we have Smith & Wesson at home." No.3

Of all the production changes made over the years to Smith revolvers to simplify production, the one I miss the most is the cylinder stop tensioner screw. That's the one you can see in profile in the frame just in front of the trigger guard. You used to just be able to stick the cylinder stop spring in through that hole, and now you have to stick it in from the side and kinda smoosh it down into its recess. I always feel like I'm going to bend it wrong when I do that.

Below is the sideplate fitment of the paltik. I've seen commercially mass-produced revolvers with sloppier sideplate fit, to be honest.

The trigger is to the rear because the trigger return spring is no longer functioning. The firearm can still be thumb-cocked and the cylinder rotates, but I haven't yet been arsed to pull the sideplate off to see what's going on in there, especially because I wouldn't fire this thing on a dare.

Incidentally, the paltik has a cylinder stop tensioner screw, too, but you can't see it in the profile shot because the head is countersunk in the hole.


Tab Clearing...

Monday, May 10, 2021

Then again, this is pretty cyberpunk...

"Hey, 1990 Tamara! It's me, your future self from 2021. Let me get a couple things out of the way: No, we don't have flying cars yet, and also you should bet way more than twenty bucks on the Coalition ground forces when we invade Iraq next January. They're going to beat the point spread, and by a lot.

Anyway, that's not what I'm here to tell you about. What I'm here to tell you about is that a billionaire telling jokes on Saturday Night Live is going to affect the exchange rate of a virtual currency in real time. Not even William Gibson saw this coming."

From CNN Money:

Tiny Tank

I need to go searching for some cool tutorials on photographing miniatures, like this 1:72 scale T-72 tank.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Size Matters

I was having lunch yesterday when the 1953 Chevrolet 210 two-door sedan rolled by again...

I say "again", because I snagged a picture of this same car last November...

Now, it's really not fair comparing the two photos directly. They were taken at about the same time of day and with similar lighting conditions, yes, but the older one was taken from further away and cropped out of a shot taken with the long kit zoom on a Nikon 1 J4 at an equivalent focal length of about 270mm.

The next two photos, however, I think are illustrative of differences in sensor size and lens quality. Both were shot with the camera in Program mode, letting it pick aperture and shutter speed.

Here's the one from the 18MP Nikon 1 J4. I'm shooting from across the street at a focal length of 36.1mm which, with the 2.7X crop factor of the 1" sensor, is about a 98mm equivalent. The camera was set at ISO 160, and picked 1/1000th of a second exposure time at f/4.

The Nikon 1 J4 could do some neat tricks, and its 18MP sensor had lots of megapickles for a 1" sensor in 2014. The full resolution images are 5232 x 3488 pixels, and your monitor is probably not set to display that resolution. I know mine isn't.

Yesterday's pic was shot with the Nikon D700 and the 24-120mm f/4 lens at a focal length of 100mm. This camera's 12MP full-frame sensor dates to the middle of 2008. It only has two thirds as many photo sites as the 1 J4, but they're spread over a physical area seven and a half times larger.

This was ISO 400, 1/400th at f/11, and the one takeaway looking at both is that even with a few years development between them, the full frame sensor was less noisy at ISO 400 than the 1" sensor was at its base ISO of 160.

Physical size of the sensor has an effect; there's more to a sensor than its megapickles.


Camelot Followup

So, having worked through the first three of Jack Whyte's Camulod Chronicles, I've realized that they contain all the parts of the story that have any re-read potential for me. 

I could sit through the tales of the legate Caius Britannicus and his buddy, the senior centurion Publius Varrus, and how they got out of the army and founded the colony of Camulod against the coming dark age any number of times. But after that...?

The third book, The Eagles' Brood, sees us through to the maturity of Merlyn and Uther, the endings of the last the original Roman viewpoint characters, and it finishes up with the birth of Arthur. The rest of the story just doesn't have a bunch of interest again once I've read it through for the second time. All but the first three books got carted to Goodwill yesterday.

I've started rereading The Hunt for Red October for the first time in a long time now. Some authors get better over time, and some never again repeat the magic fire of their first work. Clancy is somewhere between the two; he had several solid efforts in his early going and Clear and Present Danger may have been his peak, but he hit the "too big to edit" wall pretty hard after that one.

My copy of Clancy's breakout debut thriller is an original 1985 Berkley Books paperback printing and I was distressed to realize that, while I can sit on the porch and read it easily, it's a headache-inducing exercise in blurriness to try and read it by the 15W incandescent reading lamp over the headboard. Nobody warned me about this.



I LOL'ed, then resized the embedded video to 420 pixels wide.

Automotif CCXIV...

I'd seen it go flashing by before. Last autumn, I was out in front of Yat's, locking up my bike so I could go in and pick up dinner when it came rolling southbound on College Avenue. I barely fumbled the Sony RX100 out of my pocket and got it powered up in time to get a half-fast snapshot...

The downside of even a good pocket camera is that it takes a second for it to turn on and extrude its lens into the ready position. There's also generally more shutter lag than with a "real" camera.

Yesterday I was sitting out on the patio at Twenty Tap, enjoying a late lunch, when I spotted it again. This time I had the D700 wearing the 24-120mm f/4 sitting on the table in front of me.

I think it's a Studebaker Commander DeLuxe Starlight Coupe. Someone on the Bookface said it's a '53; I don't know enough to tell a '53 from a '55 and it's hard to find info on the 'nets.

The model designators on these coupes can be confusing. Basically it's something like this:
  • Champion or Commander? Champions have flathead inline sixes, Commanders have the new 232cid overhead valve V8. This one's dual exhausts suggest V8.

  • Custom, Regal, or DeLuxe? Custom was the base trim level. DeLuxe was, paradoxically, the lower optional trim level and was only available on Starlights. Regal had more bling and plushness and could be had on either the Starlight or Starliner. This one's been altered enough that it's hard to tell, especially without a look at the interior, so "DeLuxe" is basically just spitballing.

  • Starlight or Starliner? The Starlight was the conventional coupe, with framed door glass and a B-pillar. The Starliner was the hardtop coupe, with frameless door glass and no B-pillar.
This is hard-to-find info, as the typical Studebaker enthusiast site is still very... let's just say they tend to be quite "dial-up friendly".

The restyle of the coupes for the '53 model year is absolutely a classic design and way ahead of its time. While the design did come out of Raymond Loewy's studio* in South Bend, the actual lines were the work of Robert Bourke. 

Loewy poached lots of design talent for Studebaker, and while I knew Buehrig and Exner (what car buff or industrial design aficionado doesn't?), Bourke was a name with which I was not familiar. There's a 1985 interview with him at the University of Michigan-Dearborn site, if you click here.

*If there's a book I wish would come out in Kindle format, it's Loewy's Never Leave Well Enough Alone. I kind of keep an eye out for it at used book stores, but copies tend to be stupid expensive.


Saturday, May 08, 2021

The Future's So Bright, I Have To Wear Mirrorshades

The first half of this video made me cringe so hard that I think I need to see a chiropractor.

The second part just made me wistful.

Man, remember when cyberspace was going to be full of the distant, glittering spires of AI's behind shifting walls of killer black ICE?  Instead, it's full of your goofy relatives spouting outlandish conspiracy theories and coworkers who can't figure out what the REPLY ALL button does. The future is a lot lamer than the one I was promised.

In other notes, I had no idea that Shadowrun was still a thing.


Friday, May 07, 2021

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #200...

Almost twenty years I've had this thing now. Carried it for a bunch of them. It was a lot shinier back then.

It came with the "idiot mark" and a flattened spot in the checkering where the original owner had shot it while wearing a ring, but it was to see a lot more wear than that.

The bottom pic was shot with an old Sony Mavica on a floppy disc, on the range top of the first apartment I lived in in Knoxville. It doesn't feel that long ago. 

The camera I shot the top pic with, an EOS 5D Mark II, had 21 megapickles, compared to the lone megapixel of the Mavica's sensor. It wouldn't be released for another seven years at the time the bottom photo was shot, and now it's been discontinued for nearly a decade.


Wednesday, May 05, 2021

GenX Check

"Honey, we have Smith & Wesson at home." No.2

The .38 Regulation Police is just the I-frame .32 Hand Ejector with a five shot .38 S&W cylinder instead of a six shot .32 S&W Long cylinder.

I get a kick out of the fact that the Lorem Ipsum Arms Corporation apparently decided it was important to throw a little facsimile of Smith & Wesson's characteristic "lazy ampersand" in the middle, here.

The Bravest Spam

On this day in 1961, Alan Shepherd strapped himself atop a giant cylinder containing tons of flammable liquid and accelerant, essentially a repurposed intercontinental ballistic missile, and they bolted the hatch shut behind him. After a three hour delay, during which he had to piss himself in his suit because nobody had thought to include a relief tube for what was planned to be a twenty minute flight profile, he was blasted off the surface of the planet to become the second man in space and the first American astronaut to slip the surly bonds, for reals, yo.

The short mission basically launched him into space along a ballistic arc, and he splashed down in the north Atlantic fifteen minutes and twenty-two seconds later.

February of the following year, after another suborbital mission by "Gus" Grissom, John Glenn would ride a similar capsule to become the first American astronaut to orbit the planet.

Shepherd's capsule wasn't at Udvar-Hazy when I visited back in 2015, but Glenn's Friendship 7 was visible down on the floor of the restoration hangar.

(The post title, of course, is drawn from the Chuck Yeager line in The Right Stuff where he describes astronauts as "spam in a can", as opposed to pilots.)


Tuesday, May 04, 2021

"Honey, we have Smith & Wesson at home." No.1

The barrel of the Regulation Police has the typical Smith rollmark of the period. Traditional sans serif font and "lazy" ampersand.

The markings on the barrel of the paltik don't resemble any alphabet I can find, and may be "greeking". There's a fascinating...and fairly recent...piece on the underground gun industry in Cebu here at the NYT. (It may be paywalled. I trust you're savvy enough to find your way around that via an archive if necessary.)

If dudes in the jungle in the 1920s or 1930s could do this, probably with hand tools, imagine what could be done in a CNC-equipped home workshop in 21st Century America.


"But it's factory ammo!"

"Factory" ammo may not mean the same thing, depending on which factory we're talking about. Some of the most disappointing ammo I'd tried thus far was from a factory. The 124gr Sumbro FMJ ammunition I ran through my M&P9 back in 2015 or so had an extreme spread of 89.2 feet per second. In other words, out of ten rounds that were, not just from the same lot number, but the same box, the slowest round was doing 1,069fps while the fastest was almost a hundred feet per second faster, at 1,158.

The Macedonian ammo maker may not have covered themselves with glory, there, but last Friday I had a box of Turkish Sarsilmaz 124gr FMJ that effectively said "biramı tut".

This is obviously some definition of "professional performance" with which I was previously unfamiliar.

No, you are not misreading terrible handwriting. A ten round string fired from a single magazine in a Shield Plus had a velocity spread only a hair less than 180fps.

Yikes. I think they are having issues with their kalite kontrolü.


A return to the range...

Would you like to know more?

Last winter was a bad one. I barely kept ahead of my writing for work. Output at the blog suffered, and patron-only content at the Patreon blog went entirely dormant.

With the sun having returned to the sky and the ability to get out and about more, it's time to crawl out of my blanket fort and get more writing done. The first of a series has gone up at the Patreon, to kick things off. Gelatin was shot...for science!


Sunday, May 02, 2021

Project underway...

One of these is a regular S&W .38 Regulation Police. One was cobbled together with hand tools in a Filipino village.

Real macro photos forthcoming...


Saturday, May 01, 2021

Excitable Boy

You can be pretty sure your ride is cool when it gets this sort of reaction from little boys.