Friday, July 31, 2015


"Well, that'll certainly teach Muffy not to get kidnapped by her skeezy dope dealer boyfriend and his buddies."
Over in a great big RTWT sort of post at Mountain Guerrilla, JM wrote:
"More importantly, don’t be deluded into thinking the gun is a magical talisman of protection. Your CCW certification class is NOT a defensive handgun course. Take a practical shooting course with pistols. Here’s the catch though, not all defensive handgun courses are created equal.

It’s cool to take a course that focuses on shooting fast, accurately. In fact, that’s probably the first pistol course you should take. It helps start developing the fundamental skill sets. In the real world though, it’s entirely possible that you’ll end up shooting TOO fast, and TOO accurately.

Too many shooting courses focus any “decision-making” on simple, binary decisions. “Gun or no gun?” is NOT a valid decision-making matrix for shoot-or-no shoot in the real world. It’s more complicated than that. Hell, even “that dude is pointing a gun at me” may not be adequate grounds to drop the hammer.

A solid, practical, real-world shooting course MUST include practical, complex decision-making processes in the course work. You’ve got to learn to SEE and PROCESS information FASTER, so you can shoot SOONER. A sub-one second shot is great…right up until it takes you two seconds to determine that the apparent target is your wife/best friend/father-in-law, coming to help."

Muffy, in the photo above, was a no-shoot* target slightly occluded by the bad guy, in front of and overlapping her. The pair were situated such that you came upon them pretty abruptly on rolling through a doorway, and you can see the result of poor trigger control under surprise. I think only two teams did not put any holes in Muffy, and I'm kinda happy that none of those bullet holes are mine.  I almost tried a body shot on the bad guy by reflex, and only a last-second realization of what that meant made me shoot him in the grape instead.

However, that's just basic marksmanship under pressure, which is not the same as target discrimination and decision-making in the same circumstances.

One early run we went into the shoot house with a briefing that the guy who'd called 911 was in there with his cell phone. A couple of people shot him.

Our most frequent antagonists in these shoot house runs were the hardened terrorists of the Mongolian-Irish Liberation Front. One late-night run had you exit the first room and into a hallway and there, right in front of you, was a guy in a red MILF t-shirt. He got tagged by a couple people, too, despite being unarmed, and despite the briefing mentioning that the MILF leader was in there, probably not packing heat himself, and should be taken into custody if possible.

These were obviously artificial scenarios, structured to induce thinking on your feet, and everybody improved in that respect over the course of the weekend. But...

* I clarified that from "hostage", which is too often used as slang for a no-shoot target placed near a shoot target. I just casually used it that way myself, and it really wasn't correct. In the shoot house we had good guys (yourself and your partner), threats (which you shoot until they stop being threats), and "unknowns", which is everybody else.

Upcoming Gun School Opportunities

Just so I can close more of these open tabs...

*I've said it before and I'll say it again: If my mom told me that she'd decided to carry a gun and was only going to take one gun class ever, I'd send her to MAG-40.

It's a funny ol' world...

I joked about it yesterday, but you really have to wonder what the Venn Diagram  of "Dudes who were saddlin' up to bust caps over the Bundy Ranch thing" and "Dudes with rifles currently being shooed away from their guard posts at recruiting centers" looks like.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

That's a puzzler, and no mistake.


How many lumens?

On the left, some of the lumens. On the right, all of the lumens. Photo courtesy of Pat Rogers/EAG Tactical.
When I got to gun school, I was reminded that EAG Tactical's rules for the pistol shoot house class specified no IWB holsters. Pat probably would have let me run mine, but since I had learned my lesson from June's class and brought the whole range bag, I just did a little bit of swapping around frames and slides to get a more rules-compliant setup...

Since the OWB holster I had was a Raven Phantom for the TLR-1S, I moved the slide from the Tactical Dirt Color gun onto that frame (no backup irons on the DeltaPoint gun yet, and I didn't want to tempt fate). I moved the CTC Lasergrip onto it, too, because I've become a big believer in lasers in the dark. So the gun I used in class was the setup you see in the photo below.

I'm glad I switched.

See, the CTC Lightguard on my day-to-day carry gun is a pretty specialized tool. At ~100 lumens on a fresh CR2 battery, it's not up to much more than illuminating something at which you've already decided you probably need to shoot. And that's fine! It's not for searching dark corners and hunting for bad guys, which are activities I don't plan on doing anyway.

If I'm pulling my gun out and pointing it at something, it's generally because I've already identified it as a threat. Sure, it's possible to dream up scenarios where a light on a CCW handgun, especially one with a grip-activated switch, could be a detriment ("Suppose you're in a store and terrorists cut the power and you want to pull out your gun but not give away your position? And maybe ninjas!") but most of them are so far outside the likely uses of my CCW gun that I have yet to be persuaded that being able to better see my target is a bad thing.

Proper use of a pistol-mounted light is something very few non-cops (and too few LEOs) ever get taught. I certainly don't have much knowledge of it, and what I have is mostly theoretical, gleaned from keeping my ears open when smarter people are talking.

One thing I do know is that for that application, more lumens are generally better lumens. In the picture at the top of this post, that's my gun light on the left: A TLR-1s with less-than-fresh batteries, and so putting out less than its full rated 300 lumen output.You can imagine how swallowed up the LightGuard would have been, with less than a third the output and a generally more diffuse pattern at that.

That pattern part is important. See the light on the right in that top picture? That's the current industry standard, the "U-Boat", a Surefire X300U . With 500 lumens on tap, it has enough light output for a very bright center and a nice corona that helps illuminate the periphery of your vision. The spill from my partner's light was pretty useful to me a few times, since my light didn't give off near as much.

The picture at the top illustrates another point: How long an "indoors" shot can be. That one looks close to twenty yards right there, and if you look around hallways at work, down the aisles at the store, and corridors at your church or other public buildings, you'll quickly come to realize that "Indoors" does not equal "In the same broom closet."

More on this class to come...


Wednesday, July 29, 2015


...other than these two hackers, did anybody else ever buy the full-on Tracking Point rifles?

While the nerd community on social media is absolutely freaking out over the possibility of "hacking sniper rifles", I can't help but think that being able to hack a Tracking Point rifle is like knowing how to hot-wire a Ferrari Enzo: Fascinating at parties, but not a skill you'll get much chance to ever use.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Public Service Announcements...

  • Helpful hints for being a customer of gunsmithing services, as well as tips for being a good provider of gunsmithing services as a small FFL. I've worked in four retail gun shops: Three had a mill and a lathe and at least one guy with a diploma from a real gunsmithing college in the back room, while the first was a pawn shop that had a part time gun plumber who swung through on Mondays and Thursdays to pick up and drop off work. Don't oversell your shop's abilities, and when it comes to turnaround times, underpromise and overdeliver. Weaponsman has a good post and it's worth reading and digesting in its entirety.

  • At last Saturday's bowling pin match, there was one shooter who brought his teenage son and a sprinkling of guys in their late twenties or early thirties, but I'd say that I was comfortably in the bottom half of the age demographic and I'm dangerously close to having to throw away my first AARP mailer. Some of this is that it's not a cheap hobby and requires time, cash, and personal mobility, which are three things that are often not had at the same time in one's early twenties. I remember long stretches where I had plenty of free time, but no money, while my friends who were making the money had no free time. Still, like Kevin and Caleb are always pointing out, the Call of Duty generation is full of easy converts to the shooting sports. Keep recruiting.


I normally keep three tabs in my browser window dedicated to Wikipedia links for educational reading or future blog post fodder. Somehow I currently have four.
Now I can close one.

Monday, July 27, 2015

QotD: Grilling Bears Edition...

"In the end, regardless of what you think you might have learned via osmosis from TV, if you haven’t actually built a shelter from scratch, gathered wild food, butchered a critter, and drunk water you sanitized yourself, you haven’t yet graduated survival kindergarten."
Word up. I've spent enough time in the woods to know I'm an unhappy camper.

Automotif C...


Hello again...

Heartbeat City...

1970 Dodge Dart Swinger 340.
Seen while walking along the Monon Trail to Public Greens yesterday...

(Yes, I know the car on the Heartbeat City album cover was a Duster. It's still the first thing that came to mind. Work with me here.)


Bobbi and I went to Eagle Creek for a bit of shooty goodness yesterday. I brought the P320 along and fired the last hundred rounds of that lot of WPA 115gr FMJ through it. There were no malfunctions of any kind to report.

This brings the total to 1700 rounds fired with one failure to feed (#978) and three suspect primers (#903, #1323, #1495). The firearm has not been cleaned or lubricated in any way.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Automotif XCIX...

Riding in the passenger seat of Bobbi's car from the range to Public Greens for lunch today, I caught a glimpse of something interesting in a local service station parking lot.

After we got home, I grabbed the D1X, hopped on the bicycle and pedaled back there. It was a 1960 Chevrolet Bel Air. Pretty cool ride.


Friday saw 100 rounds of CCI Blazer 115gr FMJ go downrange through the P320 with no malfunctions of any type.

This brings the total to 1600 rounds fired with one failure to feed (#978) and three suspect primers (#903, #1323, #1495). The firearm has not been cleaned or lubricated in any way.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Bowling Them Over...

These pins have no idea what's about to hit them.
How I spent my Saturday morning...

What appears to be a "pinto" Model 25 Smith: Blued-steel .45ACP N-frame with a stainless cylinder.

Optically-sighted Glock gets an extra pin, for a total of six. Because it's a nine, they're set halfway back on the table. His opponent, shooting a 5-shot J-frame snubbie, only had three pins to clear.

Makin' major with a .45ACP Smith M&P.


"In San Bernardino, plain clothes officers stood on highway off-ramps earlier this week holding cardboard signs that read “I am NOT homeless. SB Police looking for seatbelt/cell phone violations.” Unassuming drivers likely didn’t take notice and kept on texting or playing Candy Crush."
I would absolutely roll my window down and try and give the dude a dollar, just to see what happened.

Automotif XCVIII...

Seen in the same McDonald's parking lot as the Impala...

...a 1964 Chevrolet Corvair coupe.

Such a tidy-looking little car. Well, "little" for a 1960s Detroit value of "little". Still... Eff Nader.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Never sleep with the TV on.

I woke up in the middle of the Today show the other day, surfacing into daylight from an incredibly detailed dream where I'd been picked up from EWR and driven into Manhattan and my cabbie was Al Roker.

I expressed a little surprise at this, and Al assured me that it was just a part time gig he had between TV weatherpersoning hours, because he liked meeting people and liked driving around New York City. Dream Al Roker was a pretty likeable guy. I have no clue about real Al Roker, but he seems to fake it okay.

I made sure to get his autograph on the back of one of my boarding passes because for some reason I was sure that dream Bobbi would want one.

...and that's all I've got to say about that.

The douchebag should have gotten one or two shots off before someone in the row behind him casually plugged him in the back of his grape.

These weirdos are gonna weirdo until it becomes painfully obvious that any attempt to do something like this means nothing but a swift and ignominious dispatching by your intended victims and a footnote in the crime blotter on page twelve.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Dramatic IR photos of the last flying Avro Vulcan strategic bomber, which is headed for the museum for the final time this September.


The guy covering down the hallway (black vest) maintains physical contact with the guy opening the door (blue vest), so that he can feel when his partner opens the door and rolls in...
Standing flat-footed and shooting a target is not really a super-complicated task once you get the hang of it. Sure, being extremely precise can demand a great deal of focus, but just plunking an A-zone or a bowling pin at twenty-one feet is not like performing rocket surgery.

In the action pistol sports, there's a joke that goes "Instant Idiot: Just add timer." Similarly, on the tactical side of things, Pat Rogers likes to say that putting a loaded gun in somebody's hand robs them of ten IQ points.

Part of the reason for practicing shooting and gun handling so that it reaches a certain level of automaticity is that running a stage or going through a shoot house (or having to use your gat for reals) is not just a shooting exercise, it is problem-solving with a gun in your hand. The more conscious mental "processor cycles" you have to put into running the gun, the fewer processor cycles you have to deal with not only the unknown or unexpected, but simply routine tasks like walking from Point A to Point B without setting yourself or anybody else on fire.

...and can then roll in behind him. He needs his brain power for watching which way his partner goes, as well as processing what's in front of his eyes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Compare and contrast...

Canon AE-1 Program, 50mm f/1.8, Kodak BW400CN.

Nikon P7000, in monochrome mode at ISO 400, with the yellow filter effect turned on.

Automotif XCVII...

There was a little car show going down in Alliance, Ohio on Sunday morning, and this dude was on his way there.

Those fins, doe. There're a lot of legends about the amount of rear end lift that particular styling cue caused at high speeds.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


*stretch* *yawn*

Well. That was a full three-day weekend.

Whatever it is I was supposed to do this evening is going to have to keep 'til morning. Don't wake me unless the house is actually on fire.

Almost home...

By the time this posts, I should be almost home. Ready to get there, too, after a weekend of sleeping in motels and twelve-hour days of drinking from the fire hose 'til midnight.

Pat Rogers briefing the next run using the model. Muffy has probably gone missing again. Some of the hallways in the shoot house could provide eye-opening reminders of just how long an "indoors" shot can be.

I've got a head full of stuff to unpack over the next few days, so I'll probably be bouncing it off you guys to help me process and remember it.

Check out the class schedule for Alliance Police Training* here; they've got every kind of class you could think of, from beginner handgun classes to pretty cool force-on-force carbine stuff, and it's within an honest day's drive of most places east of the Mississippi.

*Dig this: "Open Enrollment - citizens that are not law enforcement or military can participate in training. We believe that the good citizens that support us should have a training outlet and we are one of only a few agencies in the country where that is possible."

Monday, July 20, 2015

Test Pattern

Having a bit of a busy weekend. I'll have the free ice cream machine up and running again tomorrow.

More complicated than it looks, as it turns out.
Note To Self:
Adding a second person makes things complicated in more ways than one. In addition to doubling the number of people you don't want to set on fire, you have to be able to convey information your eyeballs are taking in to the other person. I find that it's easy to use way too many words on things that aren't that important while not using enough words on things that are important.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

High Speed

Got the results from the roll of film I shot at the IMA Dream Cars exhibit, a roll of Ilford Delta 3200 in the Canon EOS 10S with the EF 50mm f/1.8 lens:

Friday, July 17, 2015

Overheard in Front of the Television...

Chattanooga was in the headlines this morning, as was a certain amount of dullardness and general lack of clue...
Savannah Guthrie: "We're gonna start with NBC's Gabe Gutierrez, there at the scene. Gabe, good morning to you."

Gabe Gutierrez: "Savannah, good morning. Today the search for a motive intensifies..."

Me: *waves raised hand frantically* "Ooh! Ooh! I know the motive! Pick me! Pick me!"


Deep Dream explained.

There's a lot of chattering about Google's Deep Dream and deep learning in general. There's also a lot of wondering why Skynet seems obsessed with the images it does. Here is a simple visual explanation:

When you take this:

And you do this to it:

With an endless stream of this:

It's going to look at this:

And see this:


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Still more proof that speciation is well underway.

OMG! You guys! That whole "Eloi and Morlocks" thing? It's coming true! If you know how to work a screwdriver, your descendents really are doomed to an underground life, eating the descendents of telephone sanitizers and TV news anchors.

As evidence, I present the following snippet of dialogue from a TODAY® show segment where investigative reporter Jeff Rossen learns how to deal with a kitchen fire. (I seem to recall this being covered in second grade by a cartoon dalmatian, but that's neither here nor there.)

I am including in the dialogue the parts where I was yelling at the television.
Savannah Guthrie: "A lot of us are intimidated though, like, by the idea of turning it on..." *makes gestures and facial expressions as though she's holding a well-greased and annoyed cobra at arms length*

Me: "Wut?" *tilts head on side like RCA Victor mascot*

Jeff Rossen: "I... I will tell you, I actually never used a fire extinguisher before and I thought there would be a kickback and I was afraid to use it..."

Me: (yelling) "OH. MY. GOD! It's a fire extinguisher, you sackless herbivore! What are you afraid of, you big girl's blouse?"
It had honestly never crossed my mind that a grown human being could feel an ounce of trepidation about a fire extinguisher. That's like... I don't know, being scared of pillows, or footstools, or filing cabinets. And whatever you call this bizarre phobia, two out of five Manhattanites on my TV screen just admitted to suffering from it!

Automotif XCVI...

Running errands today on the bicycle, I saw this thing waft down Illinois, turn onto 56th, and pull into the CVS lot. I dropped what I was doing and ran over with the camera.

It was so big, it was hard to frame well.

 1972 Cadillac Eldorado.

Cadillac apparently wanted the nearly-19-foot long, two-and-a-half ton car to somehow seem exotic and European, and so that's how you spell "five hundred cubic inches" in places that have never put a man on the moon.
Between the HVAC vents there, on the passenger dash? That's a mechanical digital clock. Pretty 2001: A Space Odyssey stuff on an auto dash in 1972.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Summertime in SoBro, 2015 Edition...

Finally, yesterday afternoon, a hole in the clouds appeared...

We get signal. Main screen turn on.

After pedaling up to the tiny Broad Ripple Kroger for necessaries, I bicycled back into the alley toward the garage to find my path blocked by an AT&T engineering truck and a guy just heading up in the boom. I resisted the urge to smile and wave and say "Oh, hi! I was fixin' to email your CEO!" For all I knew, this was the last dude battling entropy at the Death Star and, besides, one should always be nice to anyone who is in a position to spit in one's food.

We are now pulling pages on the Uverse intertubes connection and have successfully transacted incoming and outgoing phone calls on the POTS line. Cautious optimism prevails in the halls of Roseholme Cottage.

Things that make you go "Hmmm"...

Customer Disservice.

Roseholme Cottage held hostage, day thirty-one.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Seeing red.

Still no intertubes. Fantastic stream of excuses from AT&T.

Further, POTS has been down since this time last month. The problem is the line from the pole to the house. AT&T has known this since the guy who set us up with the faster intertubes last year slapped some bubble gum on the line and promised to send a fixit notice upstream.

Obviously he never did, and so the line tech who was out on Saturday said he'd send a lineman to fix things. The lineman claims he was here on Sunday, but he must have been wearing his cloak of invisibility. So then they send out a data guy today who can't fix anything. He says he's put in for a lineman who'll be here tomorrow. I hope it's not the invisible guy from Sunday.

EDIT: Oh, bonus! Mister Super Second Level Tech, the one who was invisible on Sunday, apparently came back today invisibly again, and marked our problem as resolved. We found this out when AT&T called Bobbi on her cell phone and asked her to rate her service. I guess they had to reach her on the cellie because the land line kept ringing busy... since, you know, it was never actually #$&@ing FIXED.

This is insane. You call some script drone in a cubicle who knows nothing. They dispatch some guy who is capable of doing diddly little fixes around the house. He can't fix it so he calls the bigger guy. The bigger guy just %^&#ing blows you off and marks the problem solved and when you call to complain, who do you call? The same script drone in a cubicle who knows nothing who was in on step one of the whole mess which just starts the vicious circle again.

I need to rattle the biggest cage I can find there. When AT&T can't successfully get an analog signal from a pole across some twisted pair to a telephone handset a hundred feet away, they have completely failed at their core competency. They knew how to do this stuff in Eighteen hundred and blankety-bleeping eighty-five, for bleedin' Alexander Graham Bell's sake!

Overheard in the Office...

Me: "Dammit!"

RX: "What?"

Me: "The internet just $#!+ the bed again. DSL's totally hosed."

RX: "Well, you did just tweet to Netanyahu. Mossad never sleeps."
(Thing is, that was her joke, in response to my initial "If you like your terrorist nuclear weapon, you can keep your terrorist nuclear weapon." I just stole it and put it on Twitter.)

Overheard in the Office...

Somebody or another on NPR recently casually used a throwaway line about how the Greek bailout deal negotiations were putting... I believe the phrase was "unprecedented strains" or something close ...on relations between the countries. I nearly drove into a ditch at the mind-boggling ahistoricity of such a statement.  
"Ve are chust here to see ze tourist sights, ja."

Round Two

The line of storms that rolled through at lunch yesterday was just the warmup act, as it turned out. The main attraction didn't roll through until late last night. I was playing World of Warcrack when the phone rang.
Shootin' Buddy: "I'm okay. I didn't get hit by the tornado."

Me: "By the what, now?"
Lafayette being about an hour as the derecho blows from Indy, that was the cue for the sound effects to start up outside Roseholme Cottage. Not five minutes after I was off the phone with Shootin' Buddy, it sounded like we were taking shellfire outside, complete with flickering lights.

Local TeeWee news reports:
Power Outages: IPL 35,871; Duke: 19,953; South Central REMC: 5,567
TOTAL: 61,391
So that was a pretty good wallop we took. Indy is quite well tree-covered for a major city, which means there's a lot of stuff to fall on power lines.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Thunderbolts and lightning, very very frightening

As Bobbi left for work today, she reminded me to be on the lookout for the DSL tech and the tree guy.

Just before noon, it got dark outside. Then the sky lightened some, but to an ugly shade of green. The sky dumped an inch of standing water on the sidewalk in the back yard, pretty much all at once.

I don't think we'll be seeing the tree guy today. Not a good day to be up in trees.