Sunday, June 20, 2021


Saturday, June 19, 2021

Automotif CCXXII...

1977 Chevy Nova Concours coupe. The traction bars and the orange-painted front drum brakes peeking out through the slots in the mag wheels really tie the piece together.

If I'm betting on my (admittedly very dated) experience, this thing's got a 305 smog motor that's never had the heads off, a dual exhaust done at the local muffler shop, and way too much carb, possibly on the factory manifold. All bark and no bite.

This is the four-wheeled equivalent of a KZ650 with an unpainted fiberglass bikini fairing, factory suspension, a no-name 4-into-1, and intact chicken strips.


Friday, June 18, 2021

U-Turn Charlie, they call him...

Batman, your car is ready.

LED lighting has definitely allowed for some wild headlight and taillight schemes. Also, what's up with 1,850 horsepower? They couldn't find another 150 someplace for a nice round 2k? Somebody was falling down on the job if you ask me.


Wednesday, June 16, 2021


This moment of tranquilo brought to you by Canon and Oh God I Needed This.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Wait, what?

"They're just doing that to trigger people into complaining," he complained, triggeredly.


They made their bed, now they're lying in it.

From a WaPo story on the urban camping epidemic in Portland:
On this Monday, the city sent its contractors a list of 14 sites:

A middle school with two tents and three broken-down RVs blocking access to the student drop-off zone.

A vacant lot near Costco, where some homeless residents had been living for long enough to lay concrete foundations and start building rustic homes.

A highway underpass with at least 20 residents, where the nearby building was charred by fire damage.

A cul-de-sac littered with stolen and disassembled vehicles located next to the DMV.

During the past several years, Portland had systemically eliminated some of its tools for policing life in homeless encampments. Oregon had decriminalized the possession of small amounts of heroin and methamphetamine, which were common in camps. Portland had cut its police budget by $15 million and gutted its neighborhood response team. Increasingly, the city’s homelessness enforcement was left up to teams of contractors armed with nothing but de-escalation training, heavy-duty gloves, Naloxone to treat opioid overdoses, garbage bags and orange buckets to carry away human waste.

How long can stuff like this go on before you scare off the taxpayers who can actually afford the cost of living there?


Automotif CCXXI...

Spotted this Ford Model A Deluxe Tudor while out and about. The Model T may have been the car that put America on wheels, but it was still very much the beta test version of the automobile, with controls that would seem confusing to a modern driver. On the other hand, if you can drive a manual transmission, there's nothing really unusual about a Model A, although the unsynchronized crash gearbox might take some getting used to.


Monday, June 14, 2021

Pulling a 'Crazy Ivan'.

Pep Talk

Marko on writing full-time:
"I sold Terms of Enlistment and its sequel to 47North in the spring of 2013, and I’ve been able to write full-time ever since. It took me until my forties to figure out that I wasn’t really cut out for any other kind of work, so to those of you who are submitting stories and trying to get a foot in the door, I’d say not to worry about being too late to the party. Nothing moves fast in the publishing field anyway."

Won't Get Fooled Again...

Although it happened over a year ago, I remember it like it was yesterday...

I was headed home from Indy Arms Company and pulled up at the traffic light at the intersection of 54th and Keystone. I was westbound, and 54th Street makes a little dogleg across Keystone Avenue, so the two sides of 54th don't get a green light at the same time; westbound gets the green light first, and after it turns red, then eastbound traffic gets to go.

The light was yellow already as I rolled up, so I stopped. Looking at the line of cars on 54th across the intersection, the fourth car back or so caught my eye. It was pretty much obscured by the cars in front of it, but the lines of the C-pillar and rear fender that were visible were the bright green shape of a Dodge Challenger. I thought about reaching for the Sony in my pocket so as to be ready when he rolled through the intersection, but really the novelty's worn off on the Mopar pony car revival for me. Unless it's something wild like a Hellcat or whatever, I rarely pull out the camera...

Man, of all the retro homage pony cars, the Challenger is the most faithful to the original, because what rolled through the intersection, turning north on Keystone to taunt the camera still in my pocket with a lingering broadside shot was an original gangsta 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A in color code FJ5, Sublime.

This was on my mind the other day when I was riding along with Marko and noticed that distinctive roofline... purple this time ...waiting to pull out on a side road. I had my 5DS in my lap with the 24-105mm f/4L, and I hefted it expectantly, but fully prepared to be disappointed by another provocatively-painted current Fiat-Chrysler product.

Only nope.

As we rolled past the side street I was staring straight down the snout of a Plymouth Barracuda.

Marko pulled over and let the guy drive past and we continued along behind him. 

When we took the on-ramp to the interstate and the 'Cuda continued straight, I managed some good shots. I was kinda wishing for a longer lens, but the 50MP sensor in the 5DS gives you plenty of room to crop.

It appears to be a 1970 'Cuda with a 383 in color code FC7, In Violet (the Plymouth name for what Dodge called Plum Crazy).

Nice clean lines, no wings or tape stripes... about as low key as a car with a color named "In Violet" can be. With the standard engine, the 335bhp 383 Super Commando, and a four speed, this must be a pleasant ride in the mountains on a summer day.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Automotif CCXX...

I've been trying to get a shot of this guy for a while. The best I've done so far is this one, which was snapped on the way home from the Indy 500. It's a center crop from a shot taken across 62nd Street, which is five lanes wide at that point, using my RX100 pocket cam, which only has a 105mm equivalent zoom.

El Cutlassino

Yes, I know it's not actually an Oldsmobile, but I'm willing to play along with dude's whimsy.

Now in my headcanon there's an alternate universe with a '70 Hurst/Olds 442 El Cutlassino...


A Dash of Decadence...

In case the idea of a touchscreen LCD in the middle of the elegant wood dash of your Bentley Flying spur is too gauche, you can apparently hide it at the touch of a button...

I mean, you can if you add an option costing around seven grand to a car whose base price is almost every bit of two hundred long.


Thursday, June 10, 2021


I stumbled across an interesting article this morning while looking for pictures of the tailgunner's station in a B-52...
The first American to shoot down five enemy aircraft was Frederick Libby, an ex-cowboy from Colorado who joined the British Royal Flying Corps in 1916 and served as an observer-gunner in FE-2B two-seat pusher aircraft.

FE gunners used two machine guns, including a rear-facing Lewis gun, mounted on a steel pole, which required them to stand up on their seats when firing. “Only your grip on the gun and the sides of the nacelle stood between you and eternity,” said Libby years later.

That sounds like an acrophobe's delight, right there.

The reason I was looking for the photo was because of this photo of the exterior of the gun position, along with one very cool dude:

SSgt Sam Turner is apparently the founding member of a very elite club

The guy in the photo, SSgt Turner, had the first confirmed kill from the tail gunner position of a B-52.

During Operation Linebacker II, one of the last big conventional strategic bombing campaigns...
USAF B-52s flew 729 sorties and dropped 15,000 tons of bombs on 34 targets. Fifteen bombers were shot down, all by North Vietnamese surface-to-air missiles. During this period B-52 gunners claimed five MiG kills. Only two were confirmed. The first was Turner’s aerial victory.
I wondered how many other times a tail gunner in a jet bomber might have scored. I looked around, thinking maybe an Il-28 Beagle gunner might have gotten lucky over the Strait of Taiwan or in one of the various Indo-Pakistani or Egypt v. Libya scuffles, but I'm coming up empty-handed. The number of gun kills from defensive gun positions on jet bombers is truly tiny. More dudes have driven dune buggies on the moon than have scored a confirmed gun kill from a jet bomber.

Interestingly, the B-58 Hustler originally had a tail gun, too, and one that spawned an amusing urban legend, claiming that the bomber was so fast that the rounds fired from the tail gun would actually move backwards relative to the ground when fired. A little math will show that the Hustler's maximum airspeed was about 1,900 feet per second, while the muzzle velocity of the Vulcan in the rear was something close to 3,500fps, so that's a myth busted.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Worth keeping an eye on...

Supposedly Senator Cornyn of Texas is negotiating a bill that would tweak who is required to perform a NICS check when disposing of their own personal property. 

This is almost certainly yet another attempt to close that non-existent loophole, and will be framed as one of those "compromises" where one party gives up something and gets nothing in return. Normally that's considered strongarm robbery, not a "compromise".


Messy Used Plane Lot?

It's like some giant kid in Bolivia forgot to pick up his toy airplanes...

There are a bunch of areas at Jorge Wilstermann airport in Cochabamba where the planes look like they've just been shoved into a corner. There are a few clusters and singletons parked in weird places at the La Paz airport, too. This might be the aftermath of the demise of Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano.


Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Automotif CCXIX...

A super-straight BMW 535i that caught my eye... and by "caught my eye", I mean I pulled a u-turn and detoured down a side street to snap the pics when I saw it out of the corner of my eye as I was driving along.

It's dolled up with an air dam and spoiler like a 535is, but badged like a 535i. If the driver would have been standing around, I'd have offered to swap titles for the Zed Drei, because this thing really does it for me. I could definitely walk the earf in a 3.5L E28.


Monday, June 07, 2021

Ah, the Hanyang 88...

I still remember buying mine...
"...a crude Chinese copy of the Steyr copy of the German original. The wood was pretty beat up and it was missing a bottom metal screw, the buttplate, and a stock fitting out by the nosecap. The exterior was surprisingly un-rusted with no real pits and a smooth brown patina, while the action was caked with a sludgelike mix of old WD-40 varnish and dust.

I asked him what he wanted for it, more out of curiosity than anything else, and he said something about how he'd wanted $100, but these guys were telling him it wasn't worth that, so he'd take $75. I thanked him for his time and walked on.

I stopped at a table run by some crufflers I knew and asked them if they'd seen the abomination. They had. They asked if I'd looked down the bore. "No, why?" I replied

"Because the last person to stick a bore brush down it pulled what was left of the rifling out in a cloud of orange dust," they laughed.

It turned out they'd offered him $35 or $40 for it, which it was probably worth in spare parts, and he'd left in something of a huff. I smiled at the story and continued my stroll.

A couple of hours later, I ran into him again, still dragging the gun-shaped tomato stake with him. "No luck?" I inquired, sympathetically.

"Nah," he said, dejectedly, "They all say it's worthless 'cept maybe for spare parts."

I need this thing like I need a hole in my head... but I am such a sucker for a poor, neglected military rifle.

I rummaged through my pocket... A twenty, a five, and four ones.

"Will you take $29 for it?" He would and did.

Things I knew that ain't so...

Working in a gun store, I got to hear a lot of truisms that got blindly repeated, from both sides of the counter. I repeated them myself, often, blindly assuming these things to be true because everybody just knew they were. It was common knowledge!

A lot of it didn't hold up to practical observation, though. Shotguns and pistol caliber carbines do shoot through residential walls, oftentimes a lot of them. Revolvers can malfunction. Et cetera.

One was the utility of a little pocket gun, often an NAA Mini or a derringer, whose owner would refer to it as a "get off me" gun, with the implication that if they were ever caught in a physical scuffle, they could use it to shoot their assailant off of them.

While pocket carry can be useful, especially by allowing one to unassumingly have a hand already on a firearm before a potential attacker realizes it, the idea of pulling it out of a pocket in mid-scuffle is based more on hope than good planning.

One of these was actually designed with in-fight weapon access in mind.

A similar myth surrounds ankle carry. While it is useful and offers many benefits, such as an easy draw when seated and one which can be done relatively unobtrusively under a desk or table, the idea that it's going to be useful for retrieving a weapon in a grounded scuffle seems to be more optimistic myth than fact, as Cecil demonstrates.


Sunday, June 06, 2021

Continuous Lines

"Wouldn't you really rather have a Buick?"

Harley Earl's design for the 1942 Buick Super and Roadmaster was longer, lower, and wider than its predecessor. It also had memorable styling. Due to the production interruptions in Detroit caused by the war effort, the basic body style was still used through the 1948 model.

Called "Airfoil" fenders, the line of the front fenders swooped in a downward curve along the car's flanks until it met the rear fenders, creating a continuous styling swoop along the side of a Buick that was quite distinctive.

It was so distinctive that, even after the era of separate fenders had ended, it lingered on as a chrome styling line, known as the "Sweepspear" as seen on this 1957 Buick Special.

With the two-tone paint schemes popular in the Fifties, the Sweepspear was the dividing line between the different paint colors.

Buicks didn't get much longer, lower, and wider than this 1967 Buick Wildcat, and the general shape of the Sweepspear is still visible in its body lines.

The 1967 Wildcat featured the new 430cid Buick big-block V8, replacing the old 425, which was the largest-displacement variant of the "Nailhead" Buick. The 430 would eventually get a displacement increase to become the legendary 455.

Even after the swoopy space-age styling of the late Sixties and early Seventies devolved into the dull formal angularity of the late Seventies and early Eighties, the Sweepspear clung on, albeit in the most vestigial of forms. Check out the shape of the pinstripe accent line running along the top of the fenders on this 1985 Riviera convertible...

Saturday, June 05, 2021

Automotif CCXVIII...

It's not just another rat rod with a Small Block Chevy. Instead, it's a rat rod with three quarters* of a Small Block Chevy.

(*Ish. I'm fairly certain that's a Buick V6. The Buick V6 isn't actually an SBC missing a quarter of its pistons, but it's close enough for government work.)


Range day yesterday...

I took the .38/32 Terrier to Indy Arms Co yesterday. It was my first time shooting indoors there since probably April of last year. Bobbi had spotted me a couple boxes of .38 S&W out of her stash of Enfield fodder (one Magtech and one PPU) and Chris at Lucky Gunner found a box of Fiocchi that had, I don't know, fallen down in the sofa cushions or been used to prop up a wobbly table leg. I also had eight rounds of Winchester LRN left in a box in the attic.

I'd already done some chrono testing, and that'll go up at the Patreon site today or tomorrow. Yesterday I wound up limiting myself to using up the last of the Winchester and the PPU, all in double-action work at five yards.

This may have been the first time anyone's ever shot a Modern Samurai Project target with a .38/32 Terrier. (I'd just got the targets in from an order the other day, so it's what was handy.)

With the original "splinter" stocks and nothing filling in the sinus behind the trigger guard*, fast double-action work is hard and will challenge your skills. You can see that I'm tending to shade to the left and a bit low even at only five yards. 

I could put a more modern set of stocks on this, but I think I'll go with a grip adaptor. If I can't scare up a Tyler T-grip in the attic, I'll have to be off to the internet.

*Chris has a good explanation in this piece.


Friday, June 04, 2021

Bobbi and the Bat

Our neighbor requested aid from Bobbi in evicting another bat...

Negative Outcomes

Claude Werner, the Tactical Professor, has a couple more unfortunate lessons for his collection of serious mistakes gun owners make:
Deadly Conduct and Attempted Murder
Those are the charges in two incidents where Negative Outcomes resulted from gunfire. Both situations occurred when people thought they were making good decisions about employing a firearm for Personal Protection but the legal system doesn’t agree.
In one case, we have a person whose sole and only plan for trouble seems to have been going to guns, without a serious assessment of its appropriateness or her own personal abilities. In the other, an off duty LEO seems to forget that his duty is to break contact, not teach someone a lesson in manners. Carrying a gun in public is serious business, and screwing up with it can wreck or end your life or the lives of others. Use your head for something other than a hat rack.

In the first situation, a little canister of POM in the pocket or waistband might have been a more appropriate solution, assuming one was needed. In the latter one, if the agent had resisted the urge to make a parting remark, he might still have a career and his interlocutor might still be alive.

The "TPH" in "Walther TPH" does not stand for Tactical Professor Handgun

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Spinning Discs and Submarines

This was Kodak's top-of-the-line Disc camera in 1982. The 8000 added a few features over its cheaper stablemates...

Yes, I know it's an Akula. I didn't have a tiny Typhoon.
The cheaper Disc cameras could shoot pretty quickly, at least in a world where motor drive was kind of a novelty. A quick shooter could probably get two shutter presses a second just by poking the button. The 8000 added a selector switch on the front. Leave it in semiauto "●" mode and it worked like a regular shutter button. Slide it into burst "●●●" mode and it'd shoot three frames a second for as long as you held the button down... or at least for the five seconds it took to use up a 15-frame disc.

It has a sliding switch that moves a converter in front of the fixed-focus 12.5mm f/2.8 lens, for head-and-shoulders portraits & closeups. I don't know what that does to the focal length, but given that the basic lens had a field of view roughly equivalent to a 40mm lens on a 35mm camera, it was probably something in the 80mm range. The distance info on the inside of the camera's folding cover says it's to be used for shooting anything from one-and-a-half to four feet; anything farther uses the regular lens. It's spring loaded and poking a little button will retract it. If you close the cover, a little nubbin on the inside of the cover will trip the button and retract the lens automatically. On this old camera, deploying the closeup lens sounded like opening a creaky screen door.

The Disc 8000 also had a very modern looking digital display in the lid. That's an LCD travel alarm clock. That's right, the LCD display does not involve any camera functions. It's not a a frame counter or anything; it's not even connected to the camera proper. It's just an LCD travel alarm clock in the folding plastic cover. LCD clocks were very modern in 1982.

Normally in the camera world, the more money you spend, the more "professional" features you get and the more manual control you have over camera functions, but not with the Disc line. The 8000 retailed for $142.95... nearly four hundred bucks in today's money ...but you had zero manual control over the camera. The camera decided whether or not you needed flash, picked an aperture, and chose between 1/100th or 1/200th shutter speeds, and it did this on the el-cheapo Disc 4000 the same as the top of the line 8000. All you got for better than double the MSRP was a full-auto button, a sliding plastic closeup lens, a travel alarm clock, and a brushed gold tone finish.

The film discs dropped in the back. Close the camera back, lock the latch down, and it whirred to the first frame, ready to go.

While the thicker Disc film was more likely to lie flat in the focal plane than the film in contemporary 110-format, and could theoretically deliver sharper photos than the 110, getting good prints out of it depended on your local minilab having bought new, more expensive printers, and most of them didn't. Printed with existing equipment, Disc photos looked like grainy ass, even at 3"x5" size. Printing bigger from the tiny negatives was hopeless.

All that above makes this passage from The Hunt for Red October especially lulzy.

Spy writers were briefly enamored with the Discs, because the cameras were so flat, plus the negatives were almost exactly the same size as the 16mm ones used in the classic Minox spy cameras.

Still, the passage as described by Clancy above is kinda implausible. For starters, there's no easy way for MI6 to have processed just part of a disc and leave a couple negatives for the CIA to process. I mean, you could cut the disc apart in a dark bag, but how do you know what's on what frame at that point? Hoping for a lot of detail from these images, especially blown up to 10"x10" (?) prints as described later in the book is bordering on wishful thinking.

The LCD travel alarm clock is how you know it's high-tech. The brushed gold-tone finish is how you know it's high-end.

The Disc cameras were only in production for some six years at Kodak. Disc's role in the photo ecosystem was largely usurped by the almost equally short-lived APS format, which was in turn replaced by digital photography.

As a final indignity for loyal disc shooters, the Kodak cameras as sold on the US market, even the expensive 8000, do not have user-replaceable batteries. These days they're mostly just curiosities, an excuse to order one as a photo prop when you find yourself chortling over a passage in a Clancy novel you hadn't read in a long time...


Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Get to the choppah!

Here comes the IU LifeLine helicopter!

Starting back in 2013, something of an event has been made of the delivery of the green flag by helicopter.

It's been done by local professional athletes on the LifeLine helicopter as well as by fast-roping troops.

This year it was Hoosier health care heroes.

Following the little ceremony, the helicopter lifted right back off...

But it didn't fly far, setting down maybe a couple hundred yards away.

N195LL has a job to do at the track, being ready should someone need transport to the hospital. As a matter of fact, according to AviationDB, the 2008 MBB-BK 117 is registered at 109 Gasoline Alley.

Of course, the IMS is only a couple miles down the road from a Level One trauma center, so unless the helicopter's already on station it can be quicker to just throw a badly-injured driver in an ambulance and gun it for the ER, as happened to James Hinchcliffe when he took a piece of the car's suspension through his femoral artery during practice in 2015...
"What’s so fortunate about the whole situation was Indy is the closest track to a Level 1 trauma center of anywhere we that we run. Its four miles down the road on the same street. So they put me in the ambulance, they skip the infield medical center and just bee-lined it straight for the trauma center. In about five minutes I was there. Police escort, they shut the roads down in front and ambulance driver just gunned it. At this point they’re trying to get fluids through, because I’m bleeding profusely. They get me into the ER. They thought they kind of had the bleeding under control but my surgeon tells this story where he takes a step back from the bed and realizes that, he looks down, and under the bed was a pool of blood. I had bled through the gurney. So they bee-line me into one of the ORs and got in there and that’s when they found the artery and were able to stitch it up."

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

That was difficult.

I did most of my shooting with the 5D Mark II wearing the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L, with the 2X extender... me, effectively, a 140-400mm f/5.6 lens. I opted to use the older 5D Mark II instead of my 5DS because the 50MP sensor on the newer camera was going to expose every wobble. As it was, I was shooting at ISO 250 and fairly wide open, in order to keep shutter speeds as high as possible. I'm a total rookie at this kind of shooting.

The camera body weighs about 28.5 ounces, the lens about 46.25, and the extender adds about another half pound, for an all-up weight of nearly five and a quarter pounds. I felt the after-effects of swinging it around all day. Panning was hard and pretty hit-or-miss.

Palou, in the blue and white #10 car, and Castroneves in the black and pink #06, swapped the lead seemingly every other lap over the last few dozen, making an exciting first Indy 500 experience. With an average speed of 190.69mph, it was the fastest ever, too.


Hostile Takeover

So yesterday morning I was chilling out and watching the morning news when a commercial I had not seen before came on the televisor.

Everybody's sitting around with these snorkel masks on at the CPAP support group except this one dude who's just waving his remote control for... well, for what is not exactly made clear.

Now, I have a fair number of friends whose lives have been improved by CPAP machines, so I was curious as to what this new gizmo was, exactly. I pulled my iPad out and hit the Googles...

What the hell? Seriously?

Look if there's anything I don't want connected to the Internet of Things, it's my body's internal organs. Just keep my innards off the web, okay? I don't need my chitlins to be Bluetooth-enabled. There's a line, and that's on the wrong side of it. The last thing I need is some hacker in Kiev pwning my tongue and holding it ransom for a grand in Bitcoin.

While having a remote control for the tongue muscle does have, er, interesting boudoir implications beyond those of a mere peaceful snore-less night, the downsides are just... ick.
"Hey, why are you walking around with your tongue stuck out?"

"Got hacked. Thtupid thcript kiddieth."