Saturday, July 31, 2021

Asymmetrical Warfare

The Taliban is proving that, contra POTUS's claims, you don't need combat aircraft if you can deprive the other side of the people who fly them. According to Reuters...
At least seven Afghan pilots, including Zamaray, have been assassinated off base in recent months, according to two senior Afghan government officials. This series of targeted killings, which haven't been previously reported, illustrate what U.S. and Afghan officials believe is a deliberate Taliban effort to destroy one of Afghanistan's most valuable military assets: its corps of U.S.- and NATO-trained military pilots.

In so doing, the Taliban -- who have no air force -- are looking to level the playing field as they press major ground offensives.
On top of this, the Afghani Air Force is facing serious logistics problems.
About one-third of the Afghan Air Force’s 160 aircraft can no longer fly because they lack spare parts since the United States withdrew its contractors from the country, Afghan lawmaker Haji Ajmal Rahmani reportedly said during a recent webinar sponsored by the State Department Correspondents Association.

The Afghan Air Force has also run out of laser-guided precision munitions, Rahmani said.
Looks like the embassy in Kabul has a spacious rooftop for when we wrap up this season of That Seventies Show...

Prepper Camp

...and you can take "camp" in both senses of the word, actually. 
In her perky rural drawl, Survivor Jane cheers, “You’re ready, right? For when the SHTF (shit hits the fan)?” This is the first session of Prepper Camp, founded by Jane and Rick who are hoping to save the world one ill prepared soul at a time. Their website promises that Prepper Camp “is a total immersion event in preparedness, survival, camp craft, off-grid living, and homesteading skills.”

A burly man dressed head-to-toe in camouflage sits in the tent’s front row and yells ‘yes!’ Jane high fives him. The rest of us, twenty would-be preppers on folding chairs sinking into the mud, halfheartedly nod.
It's a well-written, humorous piece.


Thursday, July 29, 2021

The front can't get here soon enough.

According to Wunderground, the dew points at all the nearest weather stations are in the 75-78°F range, which is literally miserable.

I checked and that's also the current dew point in Miami Beach and slightly worse than current conditions in Houston or New Orleans. 

Fortunately around here it usually only does this for a few days at a whack before a front comes through and sets things to a more tolerable range. Up here it's a heat wave; down South this weather would be just another day in summer. P.J. O'Rourke described it best in Parliament of Whores:

We've had four days in the low nineties with sticky humidity and dew points in the high sixties, but tomorrow should be only eighty or so and considerably less humid.


An ugly bird.

The marabou stork is not the most fetching of avians.

"I heard that!"

As with most birds with largely featherless noggins, it's adapted for a lifestyle that involves a lot of time spent with its head stuck inside of corpses. Can't get your feathers all covered in clotted nastiness if you don't have any.

Most storks eat fish and frogs and the like and are far more attractive animals. Another thing I'm reminded every time I see them is how enormous marabous are. Wingspans in the 7-9 foot range are apparently the norm.

"Are you still talking about me?"

Apparently they've become common dump pests in sub-Saharan Africa:
"Increasingly, marabous have become dependent on human garbage and hundreds of the huge birds can be found around African dumps or waiting for a hand out in urban areas. Marabous eating human garbage have been seen to devour virtually anything that they can swallow, including shoes and pieces of metal. Marabous conditioned to eating from human sources have been known to lash out when refused food."
That sounds positively unnerving, because these are some big-ass birds.


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Turbo Kitties!

A good camera and lens really makes a huge difference at the zoo. Even the "2x zoom" on most cell cameras is only about the equivalent of a 50mm lens on a full frame camera.

The old style 80-400mm Nikon zoom I was using is available on the used market pretty cheaply for what it is, because it won't autofocus on D3xxx or D5xxx cameras that don't have internal focus motors. But that 400mm focal length will get you right in there with the critters.

I thought about using a crop sensor body, since the narrower field of view would give an effective 1.5x focal length boost. Maybe next time. These were all shot with the D3.

Man, a bad day taking pictures at the zoo is still a pretty good day. I really should spring for a membership.


Just Zoo It

You know what I haven't done in a while? Go to the zoo.

I've got an 80-400mm lens that's just itching for a look at a tiger.


Monday, July 26, 2021

Automotif CCXXXIII...

I'm pretty sure this is a 1938 Chevrolet Master Deluxe, but prewar cars are way out of my wheelhouse. David Burge would know.

Aesthetically, this thing's just about spot on for my tastes. I might quibble about the wheel pattern, but that's minor.

Also, I shot this with the Fuji X-T2 and XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 that is increasingly my constant companion. I love the controls, the size, the image files it puts out, and the fact that it has a lot of "pro" features like weather sealing, dual card slots, and effectively zero lag on the controls. Plus I love Fuji's retro dials and rings for shutter speed, ISO, and aperture.


Sunday, July 25, 2021

Bucking Bronco

This tasty first generation Bronco Sport was enough to get me to get up from my table with my camera and jog across the street...

It probably looked shabbier on the showroom floor...

Well, I guess it's time...

It's that quadrennial hint to get off my ass and start working out.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

The Good Ol' Days

Alum and plaster of paris in the bread and a bit of Borax to cover the taste of spoiled milk. Really makes you long for a return to the good ol' days, no?

The bit on baby bottles is toe-curling.

Electrifying History

Fascinating stuff about the early days of electricity in England.


Thursday, July 22, 2021

It Can Happen To You

It can happen to you, it can happen to me. As the good Dr. William Aprill was fond of pointing out, nobody needs permission to wreck your life.

The jokes write themselves...

In her commentary on congressional committe shenanigans, Bobbi noted:
"The GOP says they'll make their own committee -- presumably without Bender's "blackjack and hookers,"..."
I would say that it would all depend on whether Rep. Gaetz was named to the committee or not.


Street Seen

So Zeiss has started shipping their compact(ish) full-frame ZV1 camera, which features WiFi and built-in Adobe Lightroom Mobile, allowing you to shoot, edit, and upload to the web all in one device.

Considering that Zeiss has a pretty good stable of full-frame Sony E-mount mirrorless glass in their Batis and Loxia lines, the decision to make this thing a fixed-lens camera is mind-boggling. And the price tag puts it a in the price class of a Leica Q2.

If you're going for a chi-chi boutique fixed-lens street photography camera with a used car price tag, are you going for built-in Lightroom Mobile, or spend about the same and get the red dot? Bucks-up street photography cameras sometimes seem to be as much about signaling that you are A Photographer as they are about actually photographing things, and that red dot has a lot of signaling clout.

The ZV1 is almost twice the price of a Sony RX1R II, which is smaller... although it lacks the built-in Lightroom gimmick ...and the Sony also has a Zeiss 35mm f/2 lens and a higher resolution full-frame sensor, to boot.

Lastly, how much photo editing are you going to want to do with your index finger on a 4"-ish touch screen?

Hey, Zeiss, I already have a fixed-lens camera with true wireless connectivity, a big touchscreen, and Lightroom Mobile loaded on it. It's called my phone.

It's a feature, not a bug.

In a thinkpiece at the New York Times, a writer complains about the frequency of elections in the United States. He's especially mad about the biannual reelection scrum faced by Representatives.
"The two-year House term has profound consequences for how effectively American government can perform — and too many of them are negative. A longer, four-year term would facilitate Congress’s ability to once again effectively address major issues that Americans care most about.

For several decades, party leaders in Congress have come largely to view the first year of a new administration as the narrow window in which to pass big initiatives. In a midterm election year, leaders resist making members in competitive districts take tough votes. In addition, much of “policymaking” discussion in Congress — particularly when control of the House is closely divided — is about parties’ jockeying to capture the House in the next midterms.
He thinks it's hard to enact grand, sweeping structural legislative changes when everybody's got to worry about getting reelected. Thing is, he says this like it's a bad thing.


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

When the Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Yesterday the smoke from the wildfires out west just made the sky a sort of silvery color instead of blue, but didn't have any effect at ground level. Not so much today...

Does not work that way.

HIPAA keeps your medical care providers and insurance company from releasing your health care info without your permission. It doesn't prevent anyone from asking you about it.


Sunny Day

Yesterday's weather was glorious. Low eighties and not too humid. It must have been a great day to be out and about in a 1947 Willys Jeep!

The dude on the little Honda C70 Passport sure seemed to be enjoying the weather.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

QotD: Gray Origin Edition...

Regarding the dueling space programs of billionaires, Roberta X points out that all of this has happened before, and it will all happen again:
"I wonder, when William Kissam Vanderbilt II (with help from a few of his wealthy and powerful friends) built the exclusive, private Long Island Motor Parkway in 1908, did critics gripe that he and his rich friends were going to use their motorcars to flee the city on that limited-access ribbon of smooth concrete and leave the poor trapped in urban squalor?"

Bang, Zoom, Straight to the Moon... what I was thinking while watching the Blue Origin launch on network TV this morning. The network color common-taters couldn't keep their pieholes shut and felt compelled to tell us what was going on. Never mind that I could see what was going on and they were talking over the mission control and capsule audio in the background.
"Yes, Armstrong appears to be stepping off the ladder now and he's saying something. Craig?"

"He's definitely talking, Tom. What would you be saying at a moment like this?"

"Well, it's pretty significant, so I'd try to say something important. Oh, it looks like he's completely off the ladder and walking around on the lunar surface now."

Here's the straight Blue Origin stuff with no network common-taters, starting at the good part.

Difficult Shot

Shooting nickeled guns is hard.

I mean firing them isn't any harder than blued guns, and the cleanup's easier, but shooting them with a camera is a pain.

Here's the first try with the Model 59, from back when I first got it in October of 2019.

I was using the EOS 40D with the EF 50mm f/1.4, shooting wide open like an idiot. That caused its own problem because the depth of field is so shallow with an aperture that big, even on an APS-C sensor. Notice how the hammer spur is out of focus? Yeah...

Anyway, with where the pistol was sitting on the patio pavers, the colors of the house are visibly reflected in the slide.

A few months later in May of Cursed 2020, I took another crack at it, this time with the Nikon D3000 and Nikon 35mm f/1.8 combination.

Mindful of the issues with the previous shot, I was more careful to get enough depth of field and carefully positioned the pistol on the patio so it wouldn't be reflecting the house... and instead managed to capture my own reflection in the slide.

Yesterday morning's attempt was with the 5DS and EF 24-105mm f/4L. This time I stood well back and shot at 105mm, from an angle that showed no reflections in the pistol, and I had a high, thin overcast providing a soft and even light since the morning sun hadn't burned it off yet. I think this is about as good as I'm going to get with available light and no reflectors or other aids.


Monday, July 19, 2021

Black belt in BJJ, but a white belt in Logic.

So, granny's gotta win three bouts before she can shoot a prowler? GTFO of here with that idiocy.

This is so poorly reasoned that I'm wondering if it is an example of where getting punched in the head for a hobby can lead. I think he might have been choked out a couple times too many.


BRB, watching a video...

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #202...

I gotta say, it's a sharp-looking blaster in nickel, even if it's a pain to photograph. The small parts are nicely blued, with a blue-black sheen that's hard to capture. It's almost too pretty to shoot. Looking at the muzzle end of the barrel, it hasn't been fired much; the bluing on it is pretty much unmarred.

I mean, if I just gotta shoot a double stack Smif nine, I have that 5906.

This nickel 59 is just so Generic Seventies Cop Show Chic. It makes me want to find a period belt holster, and... Ooh! This one was made in 1978, and I have that nickeled Model 37 Chiefs Special Airweight that was made in '76. 

I should get a period correct ankle rig for that to match! Then I could get someone to yell at me "You're a loose cannon! You're off the case!" and then I'd try and find the bad guy on my own before the credits roll and everything goes back to status quo ante at the end of the episode.


The things you don't think about...

I was reading an article that had been linked in a blog post and this bit caught me up short:
"First, some background. I started my watch reporting career just before Hayek arrived on the Swiss watch scene in the early 1980s."
Somehow I had never realized the "wristwatch journalism" was an actual career field. Then I felt silly, because I basically earn my daily bread from reporting on a niche hobby. I'll bet "fountain pen journalism" is a thing.

Incidentally, Swatch Hayek doesn't appear to be any sort of close kin to "Road to Serfdom" Hayek.


Tab Clearing...

  • Here is a listicle of pet photography tips.

  • "We're number two!" I find it interesting that the city fathers of Vienna were pleased to announce that their metropolis was no longer the European espionage capital.

  • I am somehow unsurprised to learn that noted neurotic mess Margaret Atwood had issues with learning to drive.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Pharmacological Dreams

I hadn't seen this 1936-vintage Happy Harmonies cartoon before. This was obviously long before cartoons were considered strictly kiddie fare.

It has an article at Wikipedia, which makes a good jumping off point for a vintage animation wikiwander.


Automotif CCXXXI...

Standing on the street corner, minding my own business, when all of a sudden...

Hello! What's this, then?

It's a '42-'47 Packard Super Clipper Club Sedan!

The "PACKARD" vanity plate is to help out the people who didn't see the glorious swan hood ornament or the "Super Clipper" badges. There's a listing at Sotheby's for one that sold back in 2019 that has some detailed interior photos. The dashboard on these is quite grand; they were quite top-o'-the line in their day. In fact, early postwar Soviet government limos were fairly obvious Packardskis.


Friday, July 16, 2021

Comrade Carlson!


#duet with @road_rage_actual

♬ original sound - Chris


This is some straight-up horseshoe theory wack stuff right here. This guy's gone so far right he fell off the edge and landed in Marx's lap. And the absolute best part is that there are beer-swilling illiterati wearing "I ♣︎ COMMIES" t-shirts that are cheering along to this rhetoric.


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Back to the Future

The Nikon F5 shooting 35mm film at eight frames a second means you could burn up an entire roll in barely more than a quick count to "four Mississippi". It also means you can use a still film camera to shoot artsy movies...

This one shot on Fomapan 100 looks especially old-timey thanks to the very vintage look of the film stock and the jerkiness of the slow frame rate.


In the weeds...

Driving down to visit Henry Holsters' new production facility yesterday, I noticed something red and old in the grass alongside U.S. 231, so on the way back I pulled over and snapped a photo.

I didn't get out of the car because I didn't want to go tromping around in some dude's yard, but I did have the 24-120mm f/4 VR on the D700 and it had adequate reach.

That's a 1949 Chrysler New Yorker sedan. Chrysler was the last of the Big Three to tool up fresh designs after World War Two; the '48 New Yorker was basically a warmed-over 1942 model. The '49 had all new sheet metal, although the 323.5cid straight-eight and four-speed "Presto-Matic" semiautomatic transmission carried over from the '48 model. 

Despite the tall grass, the car was in great shape, including fresh-looking rubber, and showed every sign of being maintained and driven regularly.

It was a gorgeous day and US 231 was perfect for a bit of top-down cruising in the Zed Drei...

Bonus Sighting: A 1979 W72 Trans Am, last hurrah for the 400 cubic inch Pontiac pony car...

Migrant Invasion

If you're in to dawn-of-civilization type history, this find from Spain is pretty interesting.
"Beginning in the Bronze Age, the genetic makeup of the area changed dramatically. Starting in about 2,500 B.C., genes associated with people from the steppes near the Black and Caspian seas, in what is now Russia, can be detected in the Iberin gene pool. And from about 2,500 B.C. much of the population’s DNA was replaced with that of steppe people.

The “Steppe Hypothesis” holds that this group spread east into Asia and west into Europe at around the same time—and the current study shows that they made it to Iberia, too. Though 60 percent of the region’s total DNA remained the same, the Y chromosomes of the inhabitants were almost entirely replaced by 2,000 B.C. That suggests a massive influx of men from the steppes, since Y chromosomes are carried only by men.

“It looks like the influence was very male dominated,” says Miguel Vilar, a genetic anthropologist who serves as senior program officer for the National Geographic Society.

Who were these men—and did they come in peace? Vilar, who was not involved with the study, speculates that the steppe men may have come on horses bearing bronze weapons, hence ushering in the Bronze Age to the area.
More Western Steppe Herder evidence, apparently.

I'm fascinated with this period in history. Now I want to go reread Wolves of the Dawn.


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Automotif CCXXX...

Maserati Ghibli, Nikon D3, Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF

A foolish consistency...

As Bobbi just remarked, the essence of current party politics seems to be "I don't care what it says on the knobs, just twist the one that gives me what I want right now."

Tuesday, July 13, 2021


It's Holden! He seems grumpy that clumsy human footfalls have awakened him from his nap.

The 1 Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8 is easily my favorite lens I've used in Nikon's CX format. Even with the little 1" sensor it can still manage to deliver some subject isolation via background blur when shot wide open. (The crop factor of the CX format makes the 18.5mm focal length the rough equivalent of 50mm on a full frame camera, so this is the "Nifty Fifty" of the Nikon 1 line.)


Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #201...

What's a 5" all-steel, single-action, single-stack .45ACP pistol with a crisp factory three-and-a-half pound trigger pull that's not a 1911? A Smith & Wesson Model 745, that's what. 

There's something about this pistol for everyone to hate on, as well as a lot that's pretty cool.

The trigger is probably way too light for toting purposes, and I'd definitely want a holster that was designed to pin the safety in place.

(I'd posted this one before in Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #160, but that photo was poorly lit and taken with the somewhat disappointing Leica D-Lux 3, to boot. This time around, with better natural lighting and the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 lens on the old 40D, it has a bit more pop.)


Important safety tips...

Greg Ellefritz has an article worth reading if you think you are likely to ever intervene to stop an active shooter:
"I’ve written about the danger of being shot by responding officers after intervening in an active killer attack many times, but I’ve never given precise guidelines about how to handle the post-shooting procedures in order to reduce the chance of being mistakenly killed. This article describes exactly what you should consider doing to keep from being killed by other first responders during an active killer attack..."
Greg is a smart dude and has put a lot of thought into this scenario. You should go and read the whole thing.

This is a big factor in why, unless an incident jumps off literally right in front of me, that my preplanned course of action is going to be to head toward the nearest exit away from the gunfire. 

Not only might there be arriving officers, but some unknown number of fellow CCW carriers might also have decided to get involved. I don't want to be running around with a gun in my hand while a bunch of people are running around looking to shoot people who are running around with guns in their hands.


Monday, July 12, 2021

Trippy Triplane

In the course of trying to chase down info on the Supermarine Nighthawk the other day, I stumbled across this oddity:

That's the Lloyd 40.08 Luftkreuzer ("Air Cruiser"), a three-motored triplane intended as a long range strategic bomber to more effectively hit back at the Italians, whose own Caproni trimotors were bombing the Habsburg Empire almost at will. Some madman has scratchbuilt one in 1/72nd scale.

To get a feel for the nature of the Austro-Hungarian air campaign against Italy, I recommend the adventures of the fictional Otto Prohaska in The Two-Headed Eagle: In Which Otto Prohaska Takes a Break as the Habsburg Empire's Leading U-boat Ace and Does Something Even More Thanklessly Dangerous.

Basically, the Luftfahrtruppen were a hot mess, facing an uphill fight against their own military culture as well as production limitations caused by the relatively backwards nature of the empire's industrial base.
Wartime production totaled 5,180 airplanes for four years of war; by comparison, Austria-Hungary's major foe, Italy, built about 18,000 in three years.

Automotif CCXXIX...

1970 Buick LeSabre, Canon EOS Rebel T1i, EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6  IS STM

Bobbi and I were having a late lunch at Twenty Tap when this '70 Buick ragtop rolled past. Fortunately I was able to stand up and grab a shot before the light turned green. The 18-135mm travel zoom let me take a shot that didn't require trying to Photoshop a bunch of diners out of the picture.

The LeSabre nameplate denoted the most basic of Buick's full-size cars, originally beneath the Invicta and Electra. The Invicta eventually got subsumed by the Wildcat (which was in turn replaced in '71 by the Centurion.) Now that I know to look for the "Sweepspear" on Buicks, I can't not see it.

Also note the three vestigial chrome "Ventiports" on the fender behind the front wheel well. If it were the more upmarket Electra, it would have had four. 

The base engine would have been a 260bhp 350 with a 2bbl carburetor. There were two optional 4bbl 350s; a low-compression one that would run on regular gas that was rated at 280 SAE gross horsepower, and a premium-fuel-only 10.25:1 compression version rated at 315. Top of the line was the then-new 370bhp Buick 455cid V-8, which was also a high-compression engine that required premium gas.


Non Canonical? (Or: The Bugs Bunny Apocrypha.)

As I've mentioned, the first hour of the Saturday morning cartoons on Me-TV is "Popeye, Pink Panther and Friends", with the first half hour being old Fleischer Studios material and the second being the Freleng/UA Pink Panther and associated shorts. 

This past Saturday there was a pre-Production Code episode of Betty Boop. In fact it was the last pre-Code Betty Boop, Betty Boop's Rise to Fame, which was released on May 18th of 1934. Enforcement of the National League of Decency-inspired Hays Code began in June of that year.

That's actual vocals by Cab Calloway and Maurice Chevalier. As Bobbi pointed out, in the early days of animation Fleischer Studios had an advantage over the West Coast studios in being located in NYC, which at the time gave them access to a much larger local talent pool for music and vocals.

After that comes an hour of MGM cartoons, billed as "Tom & Jerry and Friends" and finally the main event of Saturday morning, an hour of Warner Brothers, which is all classic material. 

Well, mostly. 

I read the title card of the first WB cartoon Saturday and was like "MCMXCII? What kind of non-canon Jar-Jar Binks shit is this?" and left to go do other stuff for five minutes until they cued up the next one. As it turns out, I probably should have watched it. I mean, it was from the same era that Animaniacs was in peak form, so...


Sunday, July 11, 2021

...and in the darkness, bind them.

 Here's a cool piece that's a retrospective from the vantage point of twenty years after Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring dropped into the middle of nerddom like a strafing run by an ancient giant red dragon.

I still remember being at my ex's house back in April of 2000, taking a break from a Diablo LAN party to do a bit of surfing, and stumbling across this video at The One Ring...

...and by "remember", I mean I was drinking a Sweetwater 420 and, when the video loaded over the shiny new DSL line, I blurted "Ohhhh, shit! They're really going to do it and it looks like it's gonna be good!"

At the time, I'd thought that our chance at seeing a good live action LotR adaptation was blown for a decade by the Lucas/ILM vehicle Willow turning in a less-blockbusterish-than-expected performance in theaters despite the most intensive marketing campaign I can remember for a fantasy flick up to that time. 

Back in 1988, I watched Willow in its first run and was actually upset. They obviously had the technology to do a Tolkien movie if they wanted to, and instead they squandered it on this project, which wasn't funny enough to be Time Bandits, wasn't serious enough to be Dragonslayer, and wasn't self-aware enough to be The Princess Bride. I'd thought that the chances of a good live-action adaptation of The Lord of the Rings were toast for for the foreseeable future, but Peter Jackson managed to secure studio interest by the mid-late Nineties.



Kind of a salty tweet from Bezos and crew, but I guess when you're competing to sell quarter of a million dollar thrill rides to the ultrarich, you gotta expect some shade-throwing in the ad campaigns...
Similarly, the Virgin Galactic engineer narrating the launch today kept dropping subtle hints about how reassuring it must be for the passengers to know they have crew alongside them for the whole ride. (Blue Origin sightseeing flights will be entirely spam-in-a-can autopilot rides. I guess Bezos trusts his robots since he has warehouses full of them.)

Well, that was pretty cool...

Branson's rocket plane ride went off without a hitch. Obviously their pilots and engineers are more competent than the sound crew for their ridiculous "postgame concert".


Saturday, July 10, 2021

Skynet bags my groceries.

Some people complain that they don't want to use "U-scan" self-checkout services because they aren't being paid to act as a cashier. On the flip side, you could go all in and let Cyberdyne bag your groceries...

(H/T to Chuck Pergiel.)

Automotif CCXXVIII...

Friday afternoon I was sitting in Fat Dan's in SoBro, finishing up lunch. The weather was clement and so the garage doors that front the sidewalk were raised. I'd already received my check and was sipping the last of my drink when the corner of my eye caught the distinctive contours of a Shelby Cobra making an (illegal) left turn from the southbound lanes of College Avenue into the Fresh Market parking lot.

Damn! I had the Rebel T1i, but wearing the 24mm f/2.8 pancake lens. Nowhere near the length I needed to shoot across the street. I shoved my half-finished drink, check, and iPad at my friendly bartender, imploring "Watch these for a sec, please!" and jogged out the door and down to the corner, intending to cross and get pics of the car parked in the grocery lot. Except that before I reached the corner, here came the Cobra again, now motoring westbound on 54th, having used the Fresh Market lot to turn around.

Dejected, I returned to Fat Dan's, finished up my drink, and paid my bill. Before I headed back home to Roseholme Cottage, however, I decided to circle the block via the alley behind the restaurant...


These things still get me right in the feels, kit car or no. Hnnf.

Friday, July 09, 2021

Habit Forming

Someone left this comment on YouTube, apparently, to which Caleb Giddings replied on his Bookface page:
"This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered this dumb opinion, and it’s still super dumb.

The entire point of blue guns (and all clearly inert trainers) is so that we can do things with gun-shaped objects that would be unsafe to do with a live gun. This can include force on force, weapons based grappling, instructor demos in the classroom or pointing towards students for better visibility, and a whole other mess of things.

If you treat a blue gun like a real gun, you remove any training value that a blue gun has."

I'll agree with Caleb, albeit with one caveat: I will turn into Judgy McJudgerson if I see you waving a blue gun around like it's a generic chunk of plastic.

I won't SAY anything to you because it's not an actual safety hazard, but you are telling me volumes about how important you consider building good gun handling habits. Whether it's a real gun, SIRT gun, blue gun, whatever, it should never be waved around like it's a can of soup. It should be aimed intentionally, held in a muzzle-aversion ready or carry position, or in a holster or case.

Doing anything else is just rehearsing for an eventual screwup. You're essentially getting reps in for a potentially disastrous mistake.

(Also, if you're an instructor, I'd say that it's probably "Industry Best Practices" to ask a student before you go pointing blue guns at them. Some people get nervous about that for various reasons, so make sure you and your paying customer are on the same page before pointing fake guns at them. You are supposed to be a professional offering a service to clients, not larping your R. Lee Ermey fantasies.)


Rebel, Rebel

I had intended to start a project describing the various tiers of DSLR cameras. There's a lot of misinformation and confusion around what separates the different models in a maker's lineup. At the height of things, there were nearly a dozen different DSLR models in Canon's catalog, ranging in price from less than four hundred dollars to more than six grand. This isn't made any less confusing to the neophyte when they learn that the cheapest camera has an 18MP sensor and spending ten times the money gets them... a 20MP sensor.

Using older models that were much cheaper to acquire, I figured I'd highlight the differences at each price point of Canon and Nikon... then the project got shelved and by the time I got back around to it, the DSLR market had more or less completely collapsed.

Oh, well, let's finish this thing. We'll start at what was, originally, the bottom of the Canon barrel. Canon model designations are harder to decode in the US, where the inexpensive consumer models use the "Rebel" name, followed by an alphanumeric designator. In overseas markets, the fewer digits in a Canon's model number, the farther up the totem pole it is, with the professional grade bodies only having a single digit: 1D, 5D, 7D, et al. This camera is sold in Europe as the 1100D, but here it's the Rebel T3.

The Rebel T3 was sold as an even cheaper alternative to the T3i, Canon having settled somewhere around 2010 on the T# and T#i naming convention for their entry-level and upper-entry cameras. Generally these would be the two tiers of DSLRs that you would run into on the shelves of big box stores, and they were marketed basically head-to-head against Nikon's D3xxx and D5xxx bodies.

Because I am a glutton for punishment, I've been running around with the Rebel T3 wearing an old EF 28-80mm kit lens.

This lens was the kit lens for Rebel film cameras in the Nineties, and it is exceedingly janky. It has a plastic mount. It doesn't use nice fast quiet ultrasonic ring motors to focus, and the little micro motor it uses instead has developed a hideous squealing noise... or maybe that's just how it sounded when it was new in 1996 and I've just been spoiled by whisper-quiet USM.

The T3 body itself feels very bargain basement, too. It actually creaks and flexes minutely when gripped tightly. It's amazing that Canon was able to cost-cut even more to carve out one additional tier *beneath* the T3/1100D before the collapse of the DSLR market.

The inexpensive body is paired with a pentamirror viewfinder that feels dim and cramped if you're used to the big bright pentaprisms on pro bodies, but Canon assumed that the person fondling cameras at Target or Best Buy was unlikely to realize that. It also only shows 95% of the actual image area, which is something to be aware of when composing.

Not only is the plastic of the body thinner than the T3i, but the T3 also disposes of the textured faux leatherette and is notably slipperier in the hand. Fortunately the grip is amply-sized, even on this relatively tiny DSLR. Another cost savings versus the T3i is achieved by doing away with the separate SD card door on the side of the camera; on the T3, the SD card slot is in the battery compartment on the bottom, which isn't a big deal if you don't need to change memory cards while the camera's on a tripod.

Still, the basic guts of the camera are competent. It's got a 12MP sensor and DIGIC 4 image processor looted from the corporate parts bin and previously used on higher-end camera, and it also brought 720p video recording to the bargain basement end of the DSLR market.

With decent glass on it, it does just fine...

With the old kit zoom, it was still possible to get usable photos. It's not for pixel-peeping, that's for sure. But in a world where most photos are viewed on cell phones or tablet screens, it's adequate.