Thursday, April 19, 2018


Well, Patriot's Day passed without anybody doing anything to add a further anniversary to 4/19, for good or ill.

It was a slow day here at VFTP. I managed to get to the range, though...

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

This project is shaping up...

The zoo's my blues muse.

So, the first time I went to the Indianapolis zoo, we were there for a company picnic with Bobbi's employer. It was late summer of 2011, and I had the Kodak EasyShare V1073 that I'd bought to photograph the LuckyGunner blogger shoot along with me. I had a lot of fun shooting pictures at the zoo.

The next time I was there was again with Bobbi, on a lark on one of her vacation days in 2013. Two years later, I had a more formidable camera. The Canon PowerShot SX500IS was all ate up with megapixels (16!) and zoom-X's (30!) relative to the Kodak, and I did indeed manage to get some better pictures with it.

In the summer of 2014, Kirk and I bicycled down to the zoo, and I schlepped along my then-current camera, a Canon 20D with an 18-135mm travel zoom lens fitted. I was super happy with a few of my shots. I was more patient on the shutter, and had at least some eye toward composition.

Fast forward to yesterday:

The Winter That Won't End has not been kind to my SADS. I've been struggling with enough give-a-damn to get out of the house on plenty of days, and have had too many that saw me stay in pyjamas, sitting at my keyboard until well in the afternoon before I could yank myself out of a mope long enough to run errands.

Tuesday's weather was forecast to be sunny by lunchtime, with a temp that might flirt with fifty degrees in the afternoon. "You know what?" I thought to myself on Monday afternoon, "I'll bet a trip to the zoo tomorrow, just by myself, with no schedule to worry about, would be just the thing to snap me out of my funk. I'll bring good cameras, and it will be awesome."

So I drove down and pulled into the zoo parking lot and the signs were good. I'd tried doing this last Friday only to abort at the last minute when I saw that the parking lot was jammed full and half of it was school buses. Tuesday at lunchtime, though, there were only a half dozen school buses and the parking lot was barely a quarter full.

The weather, though, had probably something to do with it. It was 34°F and gusting as I walked across the parking lot. There were more kids running around screaming than I thought there would be, and my hands were getting a little cold as I stood looking down into the walrus tank...

But, oh what I was seeing through the viewfinder! I had the full-frame Sony A7 with me, fitted with the 24-240mm zoom that my friends had pooled their dough and surprised me with. Oh, you could see the walruses' vibrissae glistening and the water droplets frozen in space as they surfaced and spun and dove... These pictures were going to be great!

After about ten minutes of shooting, I noticed the kids were thinning out, and I decided to duck into the desert biome to warm my hands while I shot pictures of lizards.

There in the indoor display, shooting from an awkward angle, I was composing the shot using the screen on the back of the camera instead of the viewfinder and... what were those orange letters blinking in the top right corner of the screen?
Oh. Fudge. Except, much like that more famous Hoosier, I didn't say "fudge".

I fumbled in the little pocket of the Event Messenger 100 intended to hold spare memory cards. There was no card in there, either.

Oh. Fudge.

Wait, the zoo gift shop! They used to sell film in those back in the day! Maybe they had some cheap SanDisk 8GB cards for three times what they were worth?

I half-ran across the zoo to the gift shop, but no dice. Oh, they had some emergency battery chargers for smart phones, which is how half everyone records images these days. If you were perverse enough to be schlepping actual camera gear around the zoo, you were obviously expected to be squared away enough to have remembered to check your cameras before you left the house.

Walking dejectedly from the gift shop, I took a few deep breaths and centered myself.

I'd learned one lesson from that long ago trip to Tennessee: Anyplace worth bringing one camera is worth bringing two. The camera bag over my shoulder is the one I take with me everywhere. It holds my iPad Mini and its type cover, an Olympus PEN E-P5, and three lenses, with the 14-150mm zoom mounted on the camera. It's a good little rig and the one I used to do almost all my picture-taking at Tac-Con.

Determined not to waste the trip, I decided to just walk it off and shoot the zoo with the PEN.

Meanwhile, the sun came out, the temp rose into the 40's, and along about one o'clock or so, the zoo largely emptied out. I was glad I stayed.

The Olympus did just fine, by the way, and I had a fantastic time.

You know, the zoo is only about a twenty minute drive from the house, and annual memberships aren't terribly expensive. This is some cheap therapy, when you think about it.


In my brief flirtation with drag racing cars back in my misspent youth, I learned about things like "scattershields" and "transmission blankets".

See, in your car, there are rotating parts under and next to your feet that are spinning at high rates of speed. In race cars, they are subjected to sudden, violent forces and the torque of high performance engines. Here are a couple pics I found doing a quick Google search:

That there above is what resulted when a Torqueflite 727, a heavy duty automatic transmission, came apart under the force of a 2,000+ bhp blown Hemi.

That's the side of the car, where the bits of transmission exited through the passenger door.

This morning on the news, Savannah Guthrie was mouthing something about "...what happened yesterday on a Southwest Airlines jet, and could this happen to the engines of other airliners?" causing me to yell at the TV screen again...


Surely everyone else who has been confronted with this view has spent at least a few seconds idly contemplating what would happen if the compressor section shredded itself under centrifugal forces, right? Then you accept how unlikely it is and what a marvel it is to have this view at all. And you nod off to sleep.

It must be jarring to go through life not realizing the existence of any of the unlikely dangers that surround you every day, only to have one rear its ugly head unexpectedly.

(I thought for a moment that photo might have been taken on a Southwest 737, but on checking my records, that was a Delta bird, IND-ATL. It would have been a freaky coincidence to have a photo of the engine in question, but fortunately I do not.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bad Neighborhoods...

So, I'm reading the news story about a woman who got shot multiple times in a CVS parking lot here in Indy last night. And I get to this part:
Police say the woman was shot multiple times in the parking lot of the CVS Pharmacy at Shadeland Avenue and Pendleton Pike around 8:30 p.m. Monday. An employee heard the shots and called 911. 
The woman reportedly drove herself to the 3900 block of N. Grand Avenue, near 38th & Emerson.
And as God is my witness, the first thought to flash across my consciousness was "Drove to 38th & Emerson? Did she want to get shot again?"

I mean, 38th & Emerson wouldn't be my first choice if I wanted to go get in a shooting...that'd be 42nd & Post...but it's definitely in my top five list of "Areas to Avoid in Order to Remain Un-Shot".


Just like the good ol' days of the Cold War, socialist hellholes that can't feed their own people will still have Kalashnikov factories.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Slipping down a rabbit hole...

There's a story here I'm wrestling with.

When law enforcement agencies in the US started the mass migration from revolvers to autoloaders in the mid- to late-'80s, Smith & Wesson's classic line of double action autos had the lion's share of that market, thanks in no small part to their crushing dominance in the police revolver business.

SIG-Sauer and Beretta had tiny market shares initially, when that upstart Glock began making ever-bigger inroads.

Yet the P229 and the 92FS are still here, if only barely, while the traditional S&W autoloaders are all but consigned to the dustbin of history.

And therein lies the story...

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...

A post shared by Tamara Keel (@tamarakeel) on

I just stuck my head out the door to confirm what the noise I was hearing was. It was, in fact, a mower. The Democrat Next Door's landscapers apparently have the same motto as the postal service, because they weren't letting the fact that it was snowing deter them from their appointed rounds.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Clearing a tab...

I've had a tab open to this good report on Tac-Con '18 as a reminder to link to it. Sign up early for Tac-Con '19! Registration is usually full by mid-late summer.


Friday, April 13, 2018


Project underway...

While the classic P-series Sigs and the Beretta 92 cling to ever-thinning market share in an increasingly plastic world, the traditional metal Smith & Wesson autoloaders are no more, and there's a story in there.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Okay, this is Spring.

Sorry 'bout that.

I had a video clip on here yesterday morning of a dude getting a piece of brass down the back of his hoodie at an indoor range and, in the process of doing the hot brass dance trying to extract it, cranking off a pair of ND's to his six o'clock, narrowly missing an RSO.

The video was security camera footage from the range that had been posted to a secret Facebook group by the RSO in question. He had asked that it remain in the group (I don't know which group; I'm not a member) but someone leaked it and it went viral.

Unless I'm contacted by dude saying it's okay to repost, I'm leaving it down. Just because everybody else is violating dude's confidence is no reason I should.