Sunday, December 31, 2023


My cousin's dog, Ruby.

Nikon 1 V2 & 1 Nikkor 32mm f/1.2...

Saturday, December 30, 2023

I'm sure you've seen it but...'s still the best music video ever...

Life with old cars...

I see that the Mustang's spit off the little plastic boot from the base of its radio antenna again. Good thing I buy them by the three-pack.


A lot on my plate, all of a sudden...

Normally the last week of the year, between Christmas and New Year's, is the easiest time for blogging. All you gotta do is cue up a few pre-written listicles about your five or ten favorite ____s from the last year, and you're golden.

Alas, the Fates decided that Reality would make a big-ass capital letter appearance in my world here at the end of "2020: III".

Stay tuned! More content is coming! I've posted more frequently this year than any other year since, like, 2014!


Friday, December 29, 2023

Heart Check...

When you park your car and get out and start walking toward the store, do you stop and look back at your ride and feel a little swell of love?

I've been driving this Mustang for four years now and it still gives me big feels.

Mixed Legacy

So, as you have probably heard, Gaston Glock shuffled off his mortal coil a couple days ago.

He probably had more impact on the world of handguns today than any other single individual not named "Sam Colt" or "John Browning".

Not that he was necessarily a design genius or brilliant gunsmith or whatever. He was an engineer who owned a company that hired designers and gunsmiths, but the end result is that he made a pistol that was dirt cheap to manufacture yet adequately reliable, accurate, and durable.

I carried Glocks for years. I likely will again at some point. I was a moderator at the GlockTalk forum twenty-three years ago. I even had a Glock desktop theme on my Win95 computer. (Remember desktop themes? Mine played a .WAV of that Tommy Lee Jones "nickel plated sissy pistol" quote when I shut it down.)

At the same time, there's no denying that Gaston's dirt-cheap-to-manufacture pistol really kicked off the race to the bottom that has consumed the handgun market over the last thirty years.

So my feelings on hearing this week's news are... complex.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Staying Well...

Another good episode from Tactical Tangents:
"Wellness isn’t just a soft and fuzzy term bandied about in the Human Resources department. Healthier, happier employees perform better, and in professions where the rubber meets the road, wellness is tactical. The trite concept of Work/Life balance isn’t so trite when lives are on the line. How do you keep yourself all happy and centered and still put in the grind to do the work? Listen to this episode to hear some ideas."


The internet is made of cat pictures...

The Pentax Q-S1 that debuted in 2014 would turn out to be the final iteration of the Q series. It was basically a Q7 with the outer shell re-sculpted into more "Leica-rangefinder-esque" contours.

I was headed out the door yesterday with the Q-S1 & 8.5mm f/1.9 01 Standard Prime lens in my jacket pocket when I noticed Huck napping in the window seat looking adorable, so I snapped a couple photos.

The upper one is taking the .dng RAW file and running it through Photoshop's RAW convertor, and the lower one is a monochrome .jpeg straight out of the camera.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Photo Cheating...

With the 1.6X crop factor of Canon's APS-C sensor, the EF 50mm f/1.4 lens is transformed from a normal lens into a short telephoto, ideal for portraiture work. It's fast enough for available light work indoors, even on the old EOS 40D!


Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Meme Dump…


I was walking down the sidewalk the other day when a squirrel up ahead of me noticed me coming and bolted for safety. However instead of running into the front yard of the house to my right, she jumped for the tree growing in the devil's strip to my left.

The tree was not very big. My camera, however, was quite large (Canon EOS-1D Mark IV), and I managed to get it up in front of my face before she peeked out around the trunk to see if I was still there.

With the camera in front of my face, instead of being confronted by a pair of forward-facing predator eyes pointing right at her, there was just a blank black rectangle making clicking noises.

Curiosity overpowered caution, and the squirrel sidled toward me along a branch as I shuffled slowly forward with my EF 24-105mm f/4L IS zoomed all the way to its limit (136.5mm equivalent on the 1D's APS-H sensor) until I was practically up in her grille.

Finally her nerve broke and she scampered back down off the tree and across the street to the safety of a larger tree.


Monday, December 25, 2023

Automotif CDLVIII...

The 1988 model year was a jolt for fans of classic Detroit iron. The G-body coupes from General Motors, practically the last bastion of classic midsize front-engine, rear-wheel-drive coupes, got axed and replaced with smaller front wheel drive substitutes.

The G-body Buick Regal and Pontiac Grand Prix, cars that had been the staple of NASCAR were gone. (The Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and Chevy Monte Carlo got a one model year reprieve, with the RWD Olds still being sold for the '88 model year as the Cutlass Supreme Classic alongside its FWD replacement, and the Monte disappearing for '89, replaced by the 1990 Lumina coupe.)

Those G-bodies were the cars that much of GenX learned to drive on, borrowing dad's Cutlass 442 or mom's Monte Carlo LS on a Friday night and doing the only performance modification you could do that could be undone without anyone being the wiser: Flip the air cleaner lid upside down so you could hear the weedy little 305 or 307 smog motor sucking air through the Rochester carb for all it was worth while you brake-torqued it at the traffic light in front of the Dairy Queen to annihilate that kid in the Accord coupe.

The replacement for the RWD G-body Pontiac Grand Prix was built on GM's new FWD W-body platform, also known as the GM10 cars.

In addition to going to front wheel drive, the sixth generation Grand Prix offered another change, because starting with the 1990 model year, a 4-door sedan was offered alongside the coupe; a first for the Grand Prix nameplate.

For the 1994 model year, Pontiac gave the Grand Prix a mild styling refresh, with new front and rear fascias. The car in the photo, a Grand Prix SE sedan in Medium Teal Metallic, is from the '94-'96 model years. The steel wheels and plastic wheel covers tell us it doesn't have the GT package, so under the hood you'll find GM's 3.1L 3100 pushrod V-6 rated at 160 SAE net horsepower.

With the port fuel injected engines, there was no flipping the air cleaner lid over for that easy 2hp boost, alas...

Merry Christmas to all y'all!

From all of me here at VFTP to all you imaginary people in my computer, I hope you have a joyous holiday!


Sunday, December 24, 2023

Moving Pictures

The photo editors at the New York Times put together their selections for the year in pictures.

Say what you want about the Gray Lady, when it comes to photojournalistic talent (and writing quality) it's still the big leagues for a reason.


Automotif CDLVII...

The third model year of the fourth generation of Ford Mustangs was a notable one. The 1996 model year saw the absence of the classic Windsor pushrod V-8 that, in one form or another, had always had a home under Mustang hoods ever since the start back in 1964. (Well, except for the cursed year of 1974, about which we do not speak.)

Instead of the classic 302cid "5.0" motor... which was actually 4.9 liters, but that doesn't look as cool on fender badges ...the '96 Mustang GT, like the Pacific Green convertible above, had a SOHC 2V version of Ford's new 4.6L Modular V8, rated at 215 SAE net horsepower.


Saturday, December 23, 2023

Terminal Roles

Here's a fascinating article on the Dungeons & Dragons players on Texas's death row.

It's definitely worth a read.


Automotif CDLVI...

Here's a Chrysler LeBaron convertible from after the mid-cycle refresh. Mopar milked six model years' worth of sales out of the second generation of LeBarons on the front-wheel-drive K-car platform before giving them a light styling update for the 1993 model year.

Gone were the hidden headlamps of the '87-'92 models, replaced with simpler and cheaper flush headlight lenses. The coupe version disappeared after the '93 model year, leaving the cash-cow convertible to soldier on for two more model years, to 1995. Also vanished were the various turbo fours, meaning that this Radiant Red '93-'95 LeBaron GTC ragtop, which unbelievably still has the factory wheel covers, sports the only motor left in the lineup, the 141-horsepower Mitsubishi-sourced 6G72 3.0L SOHC V-6.


Friday, December 22, 2023

Back toward the light...

If you can read this, you've made it.

Oh, it's gonna be cold and miserable for a couple months yet, but we just passed the darkest day of the year. From here on out, the sun spends a bit more time above the horizon every day. 

A Jog Around the Blogs...

  • Gorillafritz has thoughts on flashlight usage. (Departments issuing weapon-mounted lights without adequately training officers in how to use them are a blight upon the land. I've heard horror stories of officers directing traffic with their WML. It's only a matter of time before I hear about one using their TLR-1 to check for horizontal gaze nystagmus.)

  • Bobbi finds ominous rumblings on the international scene.

  • Pragmatic pondering on the problems of pocket poppers.


Thursday, December 21, 2023

Overheard in the Office...

TV [down the hall]: 🎶🎵Merry Merry Merry Christmas🎵🎶 
RX: "Harry Harry Harry Krishna... His brother is Ted Krishna." 
Me: "Their dad is Joe Krishna.
RX: "He sells used cars."


Jihadi or Joker?

An interesting long-form piece on how the FBI and NYPD investigate... and maybe groom ...terrorism suspects.

In this case we have a former USMC reserve NCO who got into Boogaloo groups online and converted to Islam and then, well, read the piece for yourself...
Fong focused his energies on a new meme-oriented Instagram page about Islam, which eventually birthed a new chat group on Signal. Fong, the administrator of this new group, called it “Mujahideen in America.” He wanted the group’s discussions to involve Islam, guns, and training.

“We’re going to go over here to talk about self-defense,” Fong, who went by the username asian_ghazi, said, describing what he viewed as topics for the group chat. “Boogaloo stuff, like kind of guerrilla tactics, but mostly for hypothetical scenarios, mostly self-defense, weapons safety, firearms.”

Fong had curated the group’s membership. There was Daniel, a Russian speaker Fong first met in the WhatsApp group that had fractured. There was also James, a teenager and recent convert to Islam who shared Fong’s ironic sense of humor. James had brought someone named Moussa into the group.

Moussa, pushy and boisterous, started to bring up terrorist groups in the chat. Daniel joined in, giving his opinions about Islamist movements in Chechnya and other parts of Russia.

“Their talks about this kind of stuff would be here and there,” Fong said.

Fong didn’t know what to do. Should he kick these guys out? He’d already seen one internet group fall apart. But he struggled to tell if this discussion went beyond harmless intellectual curiosity and debate.

Daniel and Moussa weren’t who they claimed to be. Daniel was working undercover for the NYPD. Moussa was an FBI informant, known in the bureau’s parlance as a “confidential human source.” They’d been tasked to find and secretly investigate potential terrorists online.

When does shitposting cross the line from First Amendment protected bantz and become Providing Material Aid to Terrorists?

Take A Picture or Make a Picture?

Jim Grey at Down the Road has a good eye for interesting details on cars. Whereas 99% of my car photographs are simple shots of the entire car from a quartering angle at about sedan-driver's-eye height (designers tend to take pains to make this an attractive view, since it's how you see most cars), Jim gets in close for the neat bits of styling.

I think it's pretty artsy, but he's got a good point in his post yesterday about what makes actual art.

I've noted before that I'm probably hindered in my progress as a photographer by being too much of a camera liker.

I should sit down with my Blackfork Guide again. ("Six things that happen in your photograph whether you want them to or not.")

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Training B.S. Detector Checklist...

It's weird to run across something I wrote syndicated online someplace when I was searching for something unrelated, but here's a piece I did a few years back on separating the wheat from the chaff when seeking handgun training beyond the basic "here's where the bullet comes out" sort:
"There’s lots of good training available, many different schools of “gun-fu” if you will, and the trick is to not get taken in by the bad stuff. Peter Barrett, another gun writer and friend of mine, once came up with a handy checklist for spotting the charlatans out there. I’ve used it for years, and this column is something of an expansion of that list.

First, give his (or her) social media presence, if any, a critical look-over. Are comments disabled on his YouTube videos? Is the only place to interact with him inside of his own forum where any skepticism or doubtful questions get deleted or flooded by hostile comments from his acolytes? That’s a danger sign.

When looking at his résumé — he does have something like a résumé up, right? — is it just a vague list of who he’s trained, with no mention of who he trained under? The best instructors I know are always out attending classes and trying to learn something new or maybe just looking for new tips or tricks for teaching. I don’t care who an instructor has trained. I want to know who trained him.

Does every technique in the school or class come from within the school or class? Did it all spring straight from the guru’s head? The not-invented-here syndrome can turn an instructor into a self-licking ice cream cone in a hurry. Again, the best instructors I know are constantly and cheerfully stealing good ideas from each other...


A reminder...

Openly carrying a sidearm isn't a "deterrent". It's just letting everyone who sees it know that you have a handgun. They get to decide how deterred that makes them feel.

If Sumdood is willing to go hands-on with a young, fit, athletic cop and rip his Glock out of a Level III duty holster with enough force that it breaks the retention device, why is he going to be "deterred" by some guy who looks like 300 pounds of chewed bubble gum and isn't even aware of his surroundings?

Not deterring anybody.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

At this point, sure, why not?

In my email in-box:

Probably because what good is living in a horrible cyberpunk dystopia without people looking like they're living in a horrible cyberpunk dystopia, I guess?



Once upon a time, America had three TV networks. It was a fluke of history that lasted maybe a few decades, from the mid-Fifties to the late Eighties and the rise of cable, but for that period of time, we had something very close to a national monoculture. Show up at work in the morning and everybody would have probably seen the same TV shows last night. Further, there were a handful of big national news magazines... monthlies or weeklies ...that everyone read, and blockbuster movies tended to linger a lot longer in theaters in those pre-cable and VHS days, ensuring that most everyone got a chance to see them.

The era of cable and DVDs and the dawn of the internet caused a certain amount of fragmentation, but some coherence came back with the dawn of the big social media sites.

Half everybody was on Facebook and/or Twitter. Increasingly, though, people are fleeing to smaller, also siloed, alternatives that are safe spaces for their particular politics; Web 2.0 versions of Web 1.0 titans like FreeRepublic and Democratic Underground. Even if you're still on the big sites, their algorithms are so finely honed that they can let you silo yourself as effectively as if you'd migrated.
"The internet destroyed any idea of a monoculture long ago, but new complications cloud the online ecosystem today: TikTok’s opaque “For You” recommendation system, the ascension of paywalls that limit access to websites such as this one, the collapse of Twitter—now X—under Elon Musk, the waning relevance of news across most social-media sites. The broad effect is an online experience that feels unique to every individual, depending on their ideologies and browsing habits. The very idea of popularity is up for debate: Is that trend really viral? Did everyone see that post, or is it just my little corner of the internet? More than before, it feels like we’re holding a fun-house mirror up to the internet and struggling to make sense of the distorted picture."


The Who-this?

So the US has put together a task force with some of our NATO allies as well as Bahrain and Seychelles to protect shipping in the Red Sea from Houthi attacks. 
"As of Monday, details on what ships will be involved in the force were not available, a Pentagon spokesperson told USNI News Monday following the announcement.

The U.S. Navy has at least three destroyers in the vicinity of the Bab el Mandeb strait between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden – USS Carney (DDG-64), USS Mason (DDG-87) and USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116) have all operated in the region. The U.K. Royal Navy guided-missile destroyer HMS Diamond (D34) and the French Navy guided-missile frigate FS Languedoc (653) have operated in the Red Sea as well.
The Houthis, whose slogan is "God is the Greatest, Death to America, Death to Israel, Cursed be the Jews, Victory to Islam" are obviously Big Mad about the whole Gaza thing and are almost certainly being egged on by Tehran and Moscow, who are eager to put a stick in the spokes of as many western wheels as possible.

Meanwhile, BP has announced that it will be suspending oil shipping through the Red Sea, which will do nothing good for petrol prices.
On Monday, oil giant BP became the latest company to announce it would be pausing its shipments through the Red Sea. Several shipping companies, including MSC, Maersk, Euronav and the Evergreen Group, have said they are also avoiding the Suez Canal as militants target cargo vessels.

Roughly 10 percent of all maritime oil trade goes through the Red Sea — which connects to the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal. Without access to the Red Sea route, many ships will have to take the far longer and costlier journey around Africa to reach their destinations.
So the question is whether the west is going to keep shooting down $20k RPVs from Ali's House of Discount Drones with multi-million dollar SM-2 and Sea Viper missiles, or are we going to try a strike using carrier aircraft and cruise missiles to knock out Houthi launch sites and storage facilities. Because in the latter case it would have to be a large enough strike to get them to knock it off for a bit, without being so large as to widen the shooting war(s) going on in the Middle East right now.


Monday, December 18, 2023

Red (Sea) Alert...

Important line from the latest post at TLP:
"The Biden administration has displayed understandable and otherwise admirable restraint in the face of these continued Houthi provocations. With the war in Gaza still raging, America doesn’t need to see another front opened up in the Middle East. But the Houthis have kept up their attacks on the freedom of the seas—the Navy destroyer USS Carney shot down 14 attack drones just this past weekend, for instance—and transnational container shipping companies Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd, and MSC have announced they will keep their ships out of the Red Sea. The problem has slowly snowballed into a significant crisis, one that could find the United States and close allies like Britain and France taking direct military action against the Houthis in the near future."
Note that bit in bold. A tremendous amount of shipping between Europe and Asia transits the Suez Canal. Twelve percent of all global shipping transits the Red Sea. Remember how jammed up things got when the MV Ever Given blocked the canal a few years back?


Wild & Free

There's a local quasi-feral cat in our 'hood who our neighbor named Copper.

She's been a neighborhood fixture for many years now and had several litters of kittens by numerous feline Lotharios... I remember one notable occasion where I turned the corner on a side street in the neighborhood, only to find Copper and one of her babydaddies, a burly scarred gray & white tom named Thug, taking the advice of McCartney and Lennon right there in the middle of 56th Street and not at all inclined to move for the car.

She's very skittish and it was several years before she was successfully trapped and taken to have her baby-makin' bits deactivated. She still roams the neighborhood, although she's no longer helping populate it.

I was surprised that I was able to get this shot, even with the long 70-200/4L on my 1D Mark III. Normally if you turn and look directly at her, even from several houses down the block, she'll scuttle for cover. I guess having the camera up in front of my face blocked the threatening gaze of a pair of eyeballs.


Turn up the Kawaii!

Pentax’s original Q debuted to reviews that were equal parts enthusiastic and bemused. Back in 2011 nobody was really sure how the new field of mirrorless cameras was going to shake out. What, in effect, were these new cameras for?

The original Q offered a lot of “real camera” functionality, but its sensor size made it seem like a fun “play camera”. Its sturdy magnesium shell and eight hundred dollar price tag had it competing with established DSLR systems, but its lens selection was limited to the 01 Standard Prime and the 02 Standard Zoom and a handful of plasticky novelty lenses: the fixed focal length, fixed-aperture trio of the 03 Toy Fisheye, 04 Toy Lens Wide, and 05 Toy Lens Telephoto.

In 2012, Pentax leaned into the fun kawaii aspect of the tiny camera and replaced the Q with the Q10.

Pentax Q10, with Nikon D2X for scale.

While it also sports a 12MP 1/2.3" backside-illuminated CMOS sensor like its predecessor's, Pentax claims some hand-wave-y improvements, as well as faster autofocus. The most important change between the original Q and the Q10 was the price drop. Whereas the earlier camera had been $800 with a fixed-focal length prime lens, the new one was two hundred bucks cheaper and came with the 02 Standard Zoom in the kit.

It accomplished this by replacing the magnesium body of the Q with an entirely polymer outer shell. The new body had a slightly more sculpted top plate and a deeper finger grip that somehow gave it more SLR-like lines.

If you read my earlier review on the Q, all the buttons and controls are in the same place on the newer camera. However you could now get your kawaii little mirrorless Pentax with a hundred different combinations of body and grip colors. It's what attracted me to the camera in the first place; I thought it would be neat if Tamara Keel could get a camera, teal.

The other improvement to the Q lineup in 2012 was the addition of the 06 Telephoto Zoom, a 15-45mm f/2.8 zoom lens that had a field of view on the 1/2.3" sensor equivalent to an 83-249mm lens on a full frame camera...and yet it was about the size of a shot glass.

The Q10 is a fun little camera, and with the addition of the longer zoom, you could now have a reasonable three-lens kit: a standard zoom, a long zoom, and a fast standard prime. Within the limitations of the smaller sensor, the Q series had become a viable, if quirky, alternative to more normal entry-level DSLRs and mirrorless cams.

Q10 with 02 Standard Zoom

Q10 with 02 Standard Zoom, using "blur control" mode to simulate background blur

Q10 with 02 Standard Zoom


Sunday, December 17, 2023

I was there, Gandalf…

It’s true. All of it.


All God's Children Got the A-Bomb

"The Pentagon's recent report on China's expanding nuclear arsenal highlights growing American concerns about the changing global nuclear landscape. Against the backdrop of increasing Chinese aggression against India, worsening U.S.-China ties, and a longstanding India-Pakistan rivalry, a series of interlocking contests involving multiple nuclear actors has emerged—presenting the United States with a much more challenging nuclear equation than it faced during the Cold War."
The multipolar nuclear world of today is a lot more complicated than the good ol' days of NATO versus the Warsaw Pact.


Automotif CDLV...

I know that aesthetics are entirely subjective, but to my eyes, the current RZ34 reboot is easily the best-looking Nissan Z-car since the Z32 of the Nineties.

This Black Diamond Metallic '23-'24 was absolutely arresting as it rolled up College Avenue.

The 350Z and 370Z were capable cars, but always struck me as kinda paunchy-looking. This one is nice and taut-looking, yet has just enough stylistic throwbacks to the original gangsta 240Z to give a whiff of nostalgia.


Photographed with a Canon EOS-1D Mark III & EF 70-200mm f/4L IS.


Saturday, December 16, 2023

Saturday Morning Surfing...


Sex On Wheels

I'm busy writing something, so y'all go ahead and ogle this Ferrari F458 for a bit...

Pentax Q10, 12MP

Nikon D800, 36MP

Friday, December 15, 2023

Automotif CDLIV...

It was only this year that I discovered the meaning behind the numbered Oldsmobile models. 

Way back in the Thirties, Olds made two basic series of cars, the F-Series and the L-Series. The former were smaller and had an inline six engine, while the latter were larger and had a straight eight. By the early Forties, these were replaced by three models: the 60 Series, 70 Series, and 90 Series. The first digit would be the series number while the second signified the number of cylinders, so a 76 would be the middle series car with a six cylinder, while a 98 was the king of Oldsmobile hill, packed with every luxo feature they had plus an eight cylinder engine.

The car in the picture is from the eighth generation of the Olds 98, being a 1966 convertible in Nocturne Mist. Power would come from the 425 cubic inch version of Oldsmobile's famed Rocket V-8 producing either 360 or 375 SAE gross horsepower, depending on the compression ratio.


I normally like to keep a bag of those Tennessee Pride mini sausage biscuits in the freezer. So few foods from my adolescence and early twenties have remained palatable in my Pretentious Hipster Foodie Douchebag adulthood, but the little nuclear sausage biscuits still have.

The serving size is just right, and it's easy to pull out a two-pack, toss them on a paper plate, stick 'em in the microwave for 45 seconds, and it's a quick brekkie at my desk while blogging or doing the morning crossword with zero cleanup afterward. Just toss the plate and napkin in the lidded trash can in the corner of the office and get back to writing.

Anyhow, last time I was at the grocery store I saw these Jimmie Dean biscuit rollups (with sausage, egg, and cheese!) on sale and thought "Well, heck, let's give those a try. How bad can they be?"

For starters, they're not individually wrapped, nor are they in little two-sammich pouches like the Tennessee Pride fare. Instead there's just a big plastic envelope with a dozen frozen nutrient pucks sliding around loose in there.

I gotta say, when I slid a couple out onto a plate, they did not look like the picture on the box.

I definitely felt like I was in some dystopian sci-fi future, about to put two "RATION BARS, FROZEN, BREAKFAST, SOUTHERN STYLE" into the food reheater.

Taste report? Well, they weren't awful, but they're no Tennessee Pride comfort food, either. The idea seemed sound: Take breakfast burrito fixins and wrap them in biscuit dough rather than a tortilla. The execution was a little weaksauce, though.

Don't think I'll be repeating this particular purchase.


Truly an Age of Wonders

RX: "...and the box even had a picture of a clown on the front."

Me: "Yeah, I remember that box. It was a lot of kids first introduction to c... clownophobia."

RX: "There's actually a word for that: 'coulrophobia'."

Me: "Oh, I know the word, but I suddenly realized I had no idea how to pronounce it."
Before the internet, I would have had to go to the bookshelf with the big dictionary, look this up, and decipher what the the good people of Oxford meant by "kälrəˈfōbēə".

Now I can turn to Google...

...or just say out loud "Alexa, how do you pronounce the word for a fear of clowns?"


Thursday, December 14, 2023

I have been kilt onna streets yet again.

A couple of common taters objected to my post about speed strips, because there are several speedloaders which are much faster.

I replied:
"In general, with a revolver carried for personal defense (as with any handgun carried for personal defense) you're going to solve the problem with the ammunition in the weapon or you aren't going to solve the problem.

Reloads, whether for a Glock 34 or a J-frame, are mostly woobies, as well as a way to save you the embarrassment of having to hand a half-empty gun to responding officers.

If you're playing some game where you're reloading revolvers on the clock, a speedloader is definitely the way to go. But the fastest ones, like the SL, are useless for CCW because of the ease with which they will disgorge their contents. The only speedloader that holds its rounds sturdily enough that I'd recommend it for carry is the old HKS, which is only marginally faster than strips.

Plus speedloaders are bulky AF to carry, and most people won't bother.

But you do you.
(True Story: I had an HKS CA-44 loaded with five .44 Spl 200gr Silvertips rolling around loose in the bottom of a purse for close to a decade without dropping a round.)


A Jog Around the Blogs...


Automotif CDLIII..

By its fourth generation, the Honda Accord was all grown up, in more ways than one. 

Road & Track had already done a comparison test of the third generation sedan with the Mercedes-Benz 190E and the Honda more than held its own, such that the photo spread to open the article was a closeup of the car's snouts with their hood emblems switched.

The 1990 fourth generation sedan, like this Frost White example, was ten inches longer and seven hundred pounds heavier than the first Accord sedans to hit these shores in our bicentennial year as 1977 models. Back in the mid-Seventies "made in Japan" was still synonymous with cheap and shoddy, and the Accord did as much as anything to turn that rep on its head.

Those first Accords had 72 horsepower 1.8L CVCC carbureted four cylinders, while the 1990 sedan here would have either a 125- or 130-horse 2.2L 16V SOHC motor, depending on the trim level.

While rumpled around the edges and showing some hints of rust, this thirty-year-old Honda is still plugging along.


Wednesday, December 13, 2023

The Shape of Things to Come

No adaptor plates or suppressor-height sights are required on this FN Reflex micro-nine with an enclosed Holosun EPS Carry and a Streamlight TLR-7 Sub.



The leaves are off the trees and the squirrels are plump and active, foraging for acorns to bulk up for winter. It's too cold to sit outside at Fat Dan's and wait for neat cars to drive by, but primo squirrel-spotting season, and that means it's time for longer zoom lenses on my walkabout cameras.

The upper photo was shot with a ten year old Nikon D7100, wearing a 16-80mm f/2.8-4E VR zoom. (The best all-round DX Nikon zoom, period.) The 120mm equivalent long end on this lens makes it a little short for optimum squirrel spotting. The little dude upside down on the tree trunk was only a dozen or so feet away, but only the 24MP resolution of the D7100's sensor allowed me to crop it down to something useful.

The photo below was shot with the 2004-vintage Nikon D2X & 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II combo. That extra focal length helps, as this photo didn't need near as much cropping, even though the squirrel was twice as far away.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

A Hotter Way to Strip

I can't remember where I first read about carrying just four rounds in a speed strip. I was thinking it was something Massad Ayoob wrote, since that's the first place I first heard about a lot of stuff, especially back in the day, but Mas is a fan of five rounds in a six round strip. 

I think the four-round strip idea originated with Michael De Bethencourt, but I probably learned about it secondhand from Chuck Haggard, Gorillafritz, or Claude Werner. The theory behind it is that it's a lot faster to get rounds into the chambers two at a time, and it's sometimes better to get the gun up and shooting quickly than it is to fumble that fifth round into the cylinder.

Anyhow, for quite a while, I always saw that as a sort of secret sign. If I saw a picture of someone's carry revolver and they had a speed strip with two pairs of rounds separated by a gap in the middle, I'd think "There's a dude who knows what time it is."

The first time I saw Caleb Giddings post a pic of a strip loaded with two rounds and a space, and two more rounds and a space, and then two more rounds, I was gobsmacked. What kind of voodoo, cool guy, go-fast esoterica was this? What revolver accessory manufacturing company was so switched on that they were offering such a clever  gadget, which would let you load quickly in pairs anything from just two rounds to a whole cylinder full, (assuming you had the time.)

I PM'ed Caleb.

He wrote back "They're just eight-round Tuff Strips. Duh."


They come in 8-shot .32 size, as well!

Incidentally, you'll note that the reloads in these things are Hornady Critical Defense. I'm not a huge fan of Critical Defense, especially in .32 Mag, since it's light-for-caliber and will underpenetrate if it does expand (never a given out of a snubbie).

But that conical bullet shape makes it a breeze to reload in a revolver. You can practically chuck those things into the charge holes from across the room.


I've come to really dread Decembers. Thanks to industry contractions, I've lost a couple of regular work outlets and of my three biggest remaining customers, one's bimonthly and another publishes ten times a year, and so as I discovered last year, my income takes a serious ding in the last month of the year.

I should have anticipated this and gotten a seasonal retail gig. I sure will next year.

I'm not in any danger of going hungry or not paying bills, and everything goes back to normal in January, but it does make for a pretty lame Christmas season. If anyone's feeling motivated to hit the tip jar in the next week or two, it wouldn't be taken amiss.

And God bless us, every one! Ho ho ho!


Packing the Dot

One of the things I wrote about regarding the optics-ready Taurus 856 TORO when it came out was that the idea of a small-to-medium CCW revolver with a miniature red dot sight was so novel that nobody had really figured out how to holster it yet.

The first holster I tried was a prototype from Dark Star Gear, who basically took their classic Apollo compact revolver holster and cut away a slit to clear the optic. I've used the regular Apollo plenty in the past and it's a great holster for small wheelguns.

Problems arose from the optic-ready prototype, though. It worked fine for carry in the appendix position, well forward of the hip (and the flatter your tummy, the better it worked) but if you tried to carry anywhere over on the strong side, your belt would apply torque directly to the optic. Further, once you drew the revolver, you belt would collapse the area where the optic sat and make reholstering a tricky proposition.

The solution, as my friends at PHLster discovered, was to add a little garage for the optic...

I've been carrying this setup strong side at 3 o'clock for several weeks now. It's comfortable, your belt doesn't foul the optic, and reholstering is a breeze since if basically acts like a funnel for the muzzle.

For the best in comfort and concealment, it's even available assembled on an Enigma Express rig from PHLster, ready to put on and go.

I need to get this setup into a class and really put it through the wringer, but after almost a month of carry and a fair bit of dry practice, I haven't had an issue with it yet.


These Times Keep Getting More Interesting

The number of intrusions into U.S. infrastructure-linked networks by hackers traceable to the Chinese government is on the rise, apparently.
"Hackers affiliated with China’s People’s Liberation Army have burrowed into the computer systems of about two dozen critical entities over the past year, these experts said.

The intrusions are part of a broader effort to develop ways to sow panic and chaos or snarl logistics in the event of a U.S.-China conflict in the Pacific, they said.

Among the victims are a water utility in Hawaii, a major West Coast port and at least one oil and gas pipeline, people familiar with the incidents told The Washington Post. The hackers also attempted to break into the operator of Texas’s power grid, which operates independently from electrical systems in the rest of the country.
Being able to mess with a rival nation's utilities would be a potent force multiplier. It's a new feature of warfare and one that hasn't really been thoroughly explored; it's like if the Lufwaffe could have preceded Adlertag by shutting off the power to the London tube and the Chain Home radar stations.


Monday, December 11, 2023

We Live in a World of Miracles & Wonders

This is a headline that describes an actual thing that really happened:
Tomato lost in space by history-making astronaut has been found
H/T to Kevin D. Williamson

And so it goes...

Via Facebook I learned that David Drake passed away yesterday. His website confirms the sad news.

The sheer number of times I referenced him on this blog should tell you what a loss this is. Other than a few fantasy series and some of his "co-authored" stuff (meaning Drake sketched the outline and the junior author did the grunt work of writing), I have pretty much nearly everything he wrote.

I think I'll re-read With the Lightnings in memorium.


When things go rodeo...

Bodycam footage of the IMPD officer successfully deploying his backup gun and shooting the dude who'd just snatched his service weapon and shot him in the leg with it is available online now.

The fight goes to the ground and the officer has to access and deploy his BUG with his support hand while on his back and entangled in a melee. It's times like that when having made a bunch of deposits in the training bank pays off, because that's a heck of a big withdrawal.



There's a certain attractive quality to rugged, reliable gear. Think of the adulation heaped on Glocks for their durability:

A saying I remember from being in camera stores where my dad worked when I was a child was "If you have a Leica and a Nikon and have to take a photograph over a wall, stand on the Nikon and shoot with the Leica, because it won't hurt the Nikon."*

Jim Grey was just out and about with a new-to-him 1963-vintage Nikon F, which was the company's first pro-grade single lens reflex camera:
"The F is nigh onto indestructible. It would surely survive a drop from your hands to the ground, it would probably survive a drop off the roof of your house, and it might just survive a drop from an airplane."
It still works great for a sixty-year-old tool! No wonder survivors are bringing good money.

Do you know what else a Nikon will survive? Fifty years of being buried in a mountaintop glacier near the summit of Aconcagua, with twenty four frames of potential evidence of foul play sitting exposed inside it, waiting to be developed...
"FOR NEARLY 50 years, a Nikomat camera, carried by an American woman, sat frozen in a high-altitude time capsule. But it was not frozen in place.

Where the camera was dropped may not be where it was found. The Polish Glacier has been shrinking and shifting, cracking and moving downhill by the pull of gravity and with the change of seasons.

And on a sunny day in February 2020, the heart of the Argentine summer, the camera sat on a stocky penitente, like a museum piece on a pedestal.


The camera was intact; the only crack was inside the lens. The mechanisms worked. The leather holster screwed to the camera bottom had probably protected it from leaks.

*The only exception might be if your Leica is a Leicaflex, aka "The Diesel Leica", which was their baroquely overbuilt attempt at an SLR. One survived plummeting to the floor of the Mojave Desert from a crashing F4 Phantom II.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

It's got aliens, German Shepherds, and a very important knife.

Alex, the protagonist of Marko's latest novel, Scorpio, was born in Pennsylvania but doesn't remember it because her parents relocated to the colony world orbiting 18 Scorpii when she was only two.

Unfortunately, when she was still a tween, the giant extraterrestrials known as Lankies got there, too.

Alex and a couple hundred other colonists were near enough to the underground shelter known as The Vault to barricade themselves in semi-safety as the Lankies set about systematically destroying the colony and setting up their own atmosphere processors. Alas, her parents were not among the ones that made it to shelter.

We learn all this retrospectively, because the novel opens with Alex spending her twenty-first birthday riding in the back of an armored personnel carrier with some of the surviving troops of the colonial garrison, who she assists by working as a dog handler. 

That's an important gig because Ash, the squad's military working K9, can sense approaching hostile aliens through the humid, unbreathable soup of the Lankyformed atmosphere better than any human.

The little group is on a salvage mission, hoping to scavenge something usable from the colony's wreckage to keep the little group in The Vault alive and thriving as best they can.

And then the dog starts growling...

Read the book! I just finished Scorpio and really enjoyed it.


We tied the record high temp for December 9th here in Indy yesterday, with temps hitting the low-to-mid sixties around the metro area, which was nice except for the whole pissing-down-rain thing in the middle of the day.

But we're back to much more seasonal temps today, with the predicted high only being 36ºF, and that occurring at 10AM with the temperature dropping from there.

Still cloudy, though.


Saturday, December 09, 2023

Meme Dump

Automotif CDLII...

The funky compound rear window and the pattern of the grille mark this Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe, painted an eye-catching shade of Earl Scheib Blue, as a 1979 model.

New in 1977, the sixth generation of the Impala was shorter, taller, and narrower than the previous generation, as well as being lighter and more thrifty at the pumps. This was a good thing, because the Second Fuel Crisis hit not long after they came out.

For 1979, Impala Sport Coupes featured the 250 cubic inch "Turbo-Thrift" 115bhp inline six as the base motor, with a choice of optional V-8s. You could get either a 2-bbl 305 rated at 130bhp or a 170 horsepower 4-bbl 350. (Unless you lived in California, where the 6-cyl made 90hp, and the V-8s were reduced to 125 and 165 horsepower, respectively.) All of them had the ubiquitous 3-speed Turbo Hydramatic slushbox.

Though they were just a shadow of the Muscle Car Era's horsepower glory, the Malaise Era rarely looked better than the bubble-window Impala coupes.