29 February 2020

Sick Joke

It's really a sick joke that not only do election years seem longer than normal years but thanks to leap-year they actually are longer.

Burning Ring Of LED

"Don't I have a ring-light around here someplace?"

I do!

It was entirely unsuitable for use with the SX20 because the SX20 needed to be so close to the subject that the center of the light was gone being occluded by the adapter ring.

Same settings as before, but with the ring light attached.

Just the 14-45mm lens.

f/8.0, 1/125", ISO 100
10mm extender:

f.8.0, 1/125", ISO 100
16mm extender:

f/7.1, 1/100", ISO 100
Both extenders:

f/6.3, 1/80", ISO 125

Is It Macro Daddy Or Daddy Macro

Got a couple of Viltrox brand extenders from Amazon.

All images taken from as close as the auto-focus would bear and as steady as I could make my hands hovering over the target.  Camera was in Program mode and allowed to run as it saw fit.

Admission: I still need better illumination.

No extender:
EOS M50 with EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM at 45mm, f/6.3, 1/80", ISO 200
EF-M 15-45mm with 10mm extender tube at 45mm, f/6.3, 1/80", ISO 320
EF-M 15-45mm with 16mm extender tube at 45mm, f/6.3, 1/100", ISO 500
EF-M 15-45mm with 10mm and 16mm extender tubes at 45mm, f/6.3, 1/80", ISO 640

The old camera is no slouch when it comes to macro...  Set to Super Macro in program mode with ISO locked to 80.

Added a small LED flashlight shining in from about 11 o'clock that ended up illuminating by bounce off the face of the lens because it's damn near touching the coin.

PowerShot SX20 IS at 5mm, f/2.8, 0.5", ISO 80

28 February 2020

Need Better Illumination

EF-M15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM with x0.5 wide angle filter; at 45mm, f/22.0, 1/500", ISO 10000
Crop of above.

I don't have the lights I want to illuminate it, but I think I've begun to grasp what advice I've been given.  I need to get some.  The dedicated Macro lens I'm eyeing has a ring light built in, but it's a few months of saving away.

Thanks SiGraybeard!

Godspeed Professor Dyson

The average IQ on the planet has just dropped measurably.

Freeman Dyson has entered the void.


I just realized that I'm going to have to save that particular nickel for macro photo comparisons now.

On the plus side, I will never be broke as long as I do.

27 February 2020


The old S5 IS had epic super-macro mode.

The SX20 IS was good, but not as good.

The M50's kit 15-45mm lens is NOT a macro lens:

But tonight I remembered that Marv had bought a set of cheap lenses that screwed into the 58mm threads on the hood for the S5.  Standard ø58mm threads...

So I screwed the "wide angle" lens into my 49-58 adapter and then onto my kit lens.

With manual focus, it does OK.

Not as well as the SX20, but...

I'm still going to be getting a dedicated macro lens for my M50.  The 28mm one is well thought of.

Better Glass?

The EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II appears to have clearer glass than the EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM.

EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II f/5.6, 1/25", ISO 100
Same image cropped
EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM f/16, 1/4", ISO 100

Manual Mode Moon

f/16, 1/4", ISO 100

The new sensor is a lot more sensitive, so it needs shorter aperture times than the SX20 and S5 wanted to get the moon.

I kinda misst the digital zoom...  Saves me from cropping:

Finally The Moon

The weather has not cooperated in my attempts to get a picture of the moon with my new camera.

Today things worked out.

Luna and Venus

I've taken better moon shots.  Still practicing.

While I was waiting for the clouds to move, a hapless MD-80 flew past.

Hand held, image stabilization on.

I'm having a blast learning this stuff!

Absolute Reliability

The rifle tucked into the corner, as if ready for home defense, has never failed to lean against that corner.

It's been utterly reliable in this role and has never once walked off and taken a break or broken any law on its own.


You didn't think guns were for shooting things, did you?

26 February 2020

World Design Snippet

The creative gaming juices give glimpses of other worlds.

I have an image of US Cavalry with Krags.

Mages with purple branch colors, piping of the color of the unit they're assigned to.

Gentle rolling grassland.


That's pretty much it.

I could have it ready for players in an afternoon.

There's some stuff that never got used from a couple of other worlds that actually ran which could be used in it.

Lay My Hands On Thee

The emergency, backup, spare laptop has been resurrected!

An ancient Gateway NV57H96U.

Dead keyboard.  Insufficient RAM.  Beyond dead battery.

Since the RAM is doubled, it runs better than new!

Gateway clearly did not expect anyone to change out the keyboard very often.

There's about 25 teeny screws to remove to get the top and bottoms seperated; then 10 more to get the top cover halves apart to remove the keyboard sandwiched betwixt them.

At least they gave the ribbon cables enough slack.

Ah Darn It

Jean-Claude Van Johnson didn't get a second season.

Dammit, that show was hilarious!

25 February 2020

You Make Pick Up

Chant du Départ posted this under "What is a wingman?"

"Are a thousand unreleased prisoners sufficient reason to start or resume a war? Bear in mind that millions of innocent people may die, almost certainly will die, if war is started or resumed?"

I didn't hesitate, "Yes, sir! More than enough reason."

""More than enough.' Very well, is one prisoner, unreleased by the same enemy, enough reason to start or resume a war?"

I hesitated, I knew the M.I. answer - but I didn't think that was the one he wanted.  He said sharply, "Come, come, Mister! We have an upper limit of one thousand; I invited you to consider a lower limit of one.  But you can't pay a promissory note which reads 'somewhere between one and a thousand pounds' - and starting a war is much more serious than paying a trifle of money.  Wouldn't it be criminal to endanger a country - two countries in fact - to save one man?  Especially as he may not deserve it?  Or may die in the meantime?  Thousands of people get killed everyday in accidents...so why hesitate over one man?  Answer!  Answer yes, or answer no - you're holding up the class."

He got my goat.  I gave him the cap trooper's answer.  "Yes sir!"

"Yes' what?"

"It doesn't matter whether it's a thousand - or just one, sir.  You fight."
--R.A. Heinlein.

The French, oddly concise considering the way their language is structured say it differently, "Un pour tous, tous pour un."

The Rangers include it in their creed, "I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy..."

The US Soldier's creed echos the Ranger Creed.

You make pick up, or you die trying.

PS: If you ever wonder why so many people want Bergdahl punished more severely than he's expected to be...  Just look at that picture.

Held Value

My original 4" .45 Colt Anaconda was $612.00.

Apparently they only made 250 of the bastards and someone on Gunbroker thinks $5,500 is in order for one today.

The 6" .45 Colt version is much more common.

$1,500 to $2,000 depending on how much of the original box and accoutrements you have.

According to this inflation calculator that $612 gun should only be worth $1,065.31.

In 2007 I paid $1,090 for it.  The inflation calculator says I overpaid...  I should have insisted on $856.23.

We won't even get into how much my 1916 SMLE MkIII* has increased in value since 1994 when I dropped the princely sum of $70 on it.

And have you seen what Mosin prices have done recently?  OMG.

Common Ground

Where the offensive and defensive sides of the gun control debate come together is the idea of constant vigilance over the professional rat-fuck class known as legislators.

They require constant observation and reminding they are not the masters in our relationship.

They're actually offended that we don't trust them.

That they can be incredulous at our lack of faith after repeatedly stabbing us in the back says just about all you need to know about the character of someone who seeks elected office.

Not Quite Fudd

In our ever eager urge to pre-divide to be conquered, gun owners are entering two camps.

Offensive and defensive.

The offensive camp is actually doing things to raise awareness and expand gun rights.

There are sub-camps but the core idea is that any gun law is an infringement and all gun laws are unconstitutional and should be eliminated.

Working from this assumption they go out and try to get gun laws eliminated.

The defensive side rejects this assumption.

They're taking a "this is all we're ever going to get, so don't scare the white people!" approach.

They don't agitate for repeals or court cases because "what if we lose?"

The offensive side asks, "but what if we WIN?"

The defensive side is always doom and gloom and "we're fucked this time for sure!"

A fucking they always predict but doesn't happen.

This is not to say we've never been fucked.  It's just that when we get a good ravishing they're just as surprised as everyone else.

The defensive gun owner lives in terror of what the offensive gun owner will do next.

The actions of the offensive gun owner have, so far, not actually yielded the predicted results the defensive side loudly proclaimed were sure to follow.

I looked it up.

If you read them making the predictions the arguments are circular, examples are cherry picked and the carts are in front of the horses with regards to cause and effect.

Honestly, it reads a lot like anti-gun propaganda.

I wasn't going to call it lying, but self-delusion is lying to yourself and being unaware of it.

The offensive side has, likewise, made many failed predictions...  But at least they have a couple wins under their belts.

I think there'd be more wins if the defensive side spent more time fighting the anti-gunners and less time insulting the offensive side.

No More Tubes

A friend is moving her boyfriend in and they have excess TV's.

The Lovely Harvey took one and handed me down hers.

Gone is the 24" tube TV that I bought way back in...  What year did The Matrix come out on DVD?

24 February 2020

Featureless Disk

Sol is still being quite quiet.

And that pic is hand held!

The 75-300mm USM IS has excellent image stabilization.  Well worth stalking several auctions to save about $75 over the average going price.

Weapons Grade Silliness

My father-in-law, against my advice, bought this... thing.

At least it's the 3" model?

Even more embarrassing, and a fact he tried to hide from me, was he paid full MSRP for it at Daryl's Gun Shop in State Center, Iowa.

He thinks of it as a home defense gun.

We're not so sure.

Happily, we've never had to find out.

Another Reason To Mourn

Tam mentions the demise of Bushmaster, DPMS and Tapco.

Remington's shuttering of Tapco also means the loss of some fairly decent 922r compliant AK triggers.

Not match grade, but definitely not dragging a piano down a gravel road with your finger.

Not The Least Reason

I've got the local sheriff's feed on my Facebook.

They post "help us identify" pictures of suspects who've been shoplifting.

Often there's a description of the crime and the suspect's egress.

Such as, "The suspect fled from the store and was last seen running on the North side of the building and jumping a fence into the wooded area."

Among the many reasons I am not a thief is the inability to make such a dynamic escape.

Mine would read, "The suspect fled from the store seven hours ago and still be seen hobbling on the North side of the building."

Happily, police response time is more than short enough to apprehend slug-a-beds such as me.

Of course, the main reason I'm not a thief is that stealing is wrong.

You don't even have to run when you've paid for what you want with money.

The time cost of theft is prohibitive.

Latches And Locks

Something I've long been sick of with cars, but GM in particular, is the clever little locks for the electrical components.

Thanks to the fuel tank and catch can, I can add emergency brakes, evap lines and PCV line to the list.

I don't mind quick connect.

I actually like having connectors that can't be plugged in wrong.

What I hate is not being given enough slack to see what I'm doing because every single connector has a different latching system.

Do I squeeze the sides?

Do I press down on the top, bottom, front or back?

Is there a locking tab that has to come out?

Can a finger actually press the tab down far enough or do I need a tool?

In my mind quick connect is also quick disconnect.  The connection should go both ways.

Far too often it's easy to connect and near impossible to disconnect.

Or it would be easy to disconnect if someone had made it visible.

Another thing that comes up way too often is there being many connections to get one part free.

The Precious' center console being a prime example.  There is a separate connector for the hazard lights, cigarette lighter, each seat heater, traction control and accessory plug.  I know that GM has larger connectors that can handle all the wires, why don't they ever use them?

Especially considering the number of jobs that require that damn console to come out!

One becomes tempted to buy a bunch of pig-tails and make a single connection harness for it.

The Want Has Faded

In the way back days...

I bought a brand new Colt Anaconda 4" in .45 Colt for the lofty sum of... I don't remember.

I sold it for about half.

I regretted that sale for years and I've bought two Anacondas to replace it.

The 4" .44 I didn't keep for long.

The 6" .45 I still have.

The silly reason I bought  the first one and have kept the second was from gaming in Pugsly's "play yourself" wild west campaign.

It meant that anything you could cart through the door of his house, you could have in game.

Not realizing that .44 Russian can be used in a .44 Magnum, I looked for a modern gun in a round that was available in 1876.  .45 Colt won the day and the Anaconda in 3e terms is WAY better than a Peacemaker.

That 6" .45 has languished in the back of the security cabinet for... a long time.  The want has worn off.

It's very photogenic though:

23 February 2020

They're Real!

I finally found a magazine-clip like Nancy and Dianne keep talking about!

It's all suddenly so clear...

22 February 2020

There Go My NCRS Points

I mounted an Elite Engineering PCV catch can on The Precious this afternoon.

These instructions and these instructions are merely guides.

You will have to figure it out on your own based on what your engine compartment looks like.

I couldn't use the first set because the outlet hits the air-box silencer.

I couldn't use the second set because my heater hoses are in the way.

I ended up having to cut the corner of my coil covers to let it sit where I've put it.

Now I get to see how much oil I'm blowing overboard through the PCV valve.

By the way:  The soda straw looking line that the car came with was no longer even remotely flexible.

Playing With Fire

Mr Sloth, someone who keeps The Boy calm and happy, sometimes comes drinking with us.

I played with the settings in manual mode with a fire for lighting.

M50 on the tripod with the 15-45mm lens.

f/5.6, 13", ISO 100
f/5.6, 10", ISO 100
f/5.6, 30", ISO 100

It's interesting that 10 seconds gave the best focus.

21 February 2020

Plunging New Depth

Isn't listening to someone discovering a new hobby fun?

More depth of field stuff in aperture priority mode with the new lens.

f/5.6, 1/640", ISO 160
f/45.0, 1/400", ISO 6400
That's neat stuff right there!  I was totally unaware of it until today.

That's not quite right.  Marv and FuzzyGeff have both tried to explain this stuff to me, but I didn't understand it until today.

The Risk Of Changing Settings

For the pictures of my 640' stop sign target I'd been letting the camera pic the focus points.

Today I forced it to look at the stop sign...

without stab
with stab
Compare with JT's lens on my camera from this post.  It was also brighter on Monday.


Aperture priority.

That's telling the camera to open the aperture a set amount and automatically adjusting everything else for you.

Lower f/ stop, bigger aperture, more light.

That's all I knew.

Bigger aperture also means a shallower depth of field.  I didn't know what that meant.

So I set up the tripod, told the camera to track the wrought iron column for focus and took four pics.  Two zoomed in, two zoomed out with each at the opposite end of the aperture range.

f/6.3, 1/250", ISO 100
f/40.0, 1/80", ISO 1600

This is kind of an epiphany moment for me and depth of field.

The effect is much less pronounced with the lens zoomed out.

f/3.5, 1/1000", ISO 100
f/22.0, 1/60", ISO 250

Must Be Doing It Wrong

I have a friend who makes almost exactly the same amount of money every year as a US Senator.

Shockingly, they are not a millionaire.

They live well, of course, that salary is a decent wage; but they're not accumulating millions upon millions.

They only have the one house, in one state.

It's almost as if senators have sources of money beyond their salaries which are not available to someone who isn't a senator.

In a simpler time we'd call them bribes.

Upheaval And Chaos

I wake up to, "DINGUS!" cried by The Lovely Harvey and, "dammit!"

Our fuzzy gray asshole knocked her phone off the night stand where it hit the corner of a slightly ajar drawer and put a nice spiderweb into the screen of her mostly beloved LG K20 V.

New screen is $30 and some delicate surgery.

New phone is more, but available in bite sized payments that are below the "what the hell, why not" threshold.

The K20 is a cheap phone.  The screen was not impact resistant.  Thus... the break from a short fall.

I've got her aimed at a Motorola Moto G7 Power or Z4.

The real clincher was discovering there are Ouija board printed shockproof cases for both phones to ease her transition from USB Micro to USB-C.

20 February 2020



I Forgot Star Wars

Role playing in the Star Wars universe has been difficult.

You have just one person who wants to play a Jedi and the other players end up playing their entourage.

If nobody wants to be a Jedi they rapidly began complaining that there wasn't much going on unless they got involved with the rebellion, and then they complained that they got killed a lot.  "Let's just play Traveller," got said more than once when nobody was a Jedi.

If everyone wants to be a Jedi you end up with them getting bored because it's too easy or complaining that it's too hard.

Never mind that Star Wars isn't really science fiction.

It's a fantasy world with a technology looking shell.

I will grant that I have not played since the expanded universe became populated and well before the prequels hit theaters.

There's more there there now.

What If

I think we can admit that the M1903 rifle was a copy of the best ideas Mauser and others brought to the table in the "we must replace the Krag-Jorgenson" rush after the end of the Spanish-American war.

The M1903 is a Kragified 1893 Spanish Mauser kinda-sorta.

But what if they'd gone a step further in their admiration and gone with 7x57mm too?

Probably wouldn't have had to change the chamber in 1906 to accommodate the development of spitzer rounds.

We coulda had Cartidge, Ball, Caliber .28, Model of 1903.

Twenty-eight aught tree just doesn't have the same ring to it.

But I wonder if, by the end of WW2, it would have made adoption of something like .280 British easier because we'd already accepted sub-thirty caliber rounds and won a war with them.

Less Material More Happy

I have not been feeding my muse.

She is on a diet, I am denied her some vital nutrients by just deleting a couple of blogs from the sidebar and dropping off several forums.

Stabbing block on Facebook helped a ton as well.

While I'm happier, there's less to write about because there's less pissing me off.

A new muse is flirting with me and she's far less negative.

It's An Opera

While my first love is Traveller, I've gamed many science fiction settings.

Star Frontiers was TSR's competitor.  The tech was crunchy without explanation and it introduced the idea of aft=down to me.  The tech was a bit more grounded than the super-science space opera of Traveller.

Traveller's tech, while being operatic and super-science, was self consistent with most of the implications of that tech being allowed and accounted for.  This is why it stands out and keeps on trucking as a setting 43 years later.

I've played a few iterations of Star Trek as a role playing game.  Some more enjoyable than others.

The problem with Star Trek is the canon television and movies just flat ignores many of the implications of the technology they demonstrate on screen.

David Brin mentioned something like this when he was asked to provide background for his Uplift universe to Steve Jackson Games for their GURPS supplement.  Paraphrasing, "in the novel it's enough to tell the reader there are mountains on the horizon; in a game you not only have to know how far those mountains are from the group, but what's beyond them.  The characters, literally, have minds of their own and aren't bound by you narrative."

Ironically, it was Gene Roddenberry himself who did the tech best by not explaining a gorram thing.  Next Generation is the most guilty about showing tech, giving contradictory technobabble and then ignoring it thereafter.

Because original Star Trek has no continuity, it doesn't really matter; but no world changing tech is ever displayed.

Next Generation displayed the fountain of youth.  Yes, it was accidental, but so many discoveries are.  That they were able to understand it well enough to reverse it tells us that it's not an insurmountable engineering problem and forever-young would be available in time to prevent Star Trek: Picard.

Star Trek ultimately fails at being science fiction because the science part is tossed.  Niven defined it best, make your assumptions and follow them wherever they lead, not matter how far.

Known Space has stories like "Safe at any speed" which demonstrate the implications of the tech taken all the way.  Niven has stated that the end-game of the implications are why he stopped writing in that setting, he was having trouble coming up with situations that couldn't be quickly and neatly solved by technology he'd created and presented as canon.

So far, though, I've not gamed much in a science fiction setting that's all that hard-science.

Albedo (Erma Felna) comes closest.  The only physics destroying tech is the jump drive and their fusion drive appears to be way too efficient.  The problem with Albedo is the cartoon animals as cast problem.  That and since it was based on a comic book...  And the author never finished the story!

FuzzyGeff tried to get me interested in GURPS: Transhuman Space.  It's very hard science; but it used concepts that I wasn't ready for at the time.  Thanks to The Expanse and Ghost in the Shell, I think I could do it now.

Not that I get to game all that much.  It's hard to find your own time let alone coordinate with people with their own varying schedules.

19 February 2020

No Rational Way To Say Some Things

There's things you can't say without sounding sexist, even if it's arguably true.

There's things you can't say without sounding racist, even if it's arguably true.

There's things you can't say without sounding homophobic, even if it's arguably true.

There's things you can't say without sounding antisemitic, even if it's arguably true.

There's things you can't say without sounding like a pederast, even if it's arguably true.

It's that last one that's going to be sticking under my skin.

I've got... not really friends... but more than acquaintances who have been raging about some 19 year old in a sexual relationship with a 13 year old.  It made the local news... or Facebook...  I don't know where they heard about it and I've only heard about this particular case from them.

But a 19 year old having sex with a 13 year old is WRONG!


Then their 13 year old daughter comes home with her 13 year old boyfriend.

"Is it OK for him to fuck her?" I ask.

The kids have a BUSTED look now and the not-friend replies, "why wouldn't it be OK?  They're the same age."  Kids now look relieved.

So, your objection isn't that she's not old enough to fuck, it's that the 19 year old is too old for her?


You're OK with 13 year olds fucking, we've established that.  Why is a zero year age difference OK and a six year age difference wrong?

Is it OK for a 60 year old to be banging a 19 year old?  That's an even bigger difference.

"Well, those are both adults!"

OK, so it's it's fine for kids to fuck as long as they only fuck other kids?

"That's not what I mean!"

That's because you're not even examining the assumptions.

"So you want to fuck my daughter?"  (I have no idea where that one came from).

In five years, sure; not now.

"Why not now?  Isn't she pretty enough?"

She's very pretty.  But our society has deemed her a child and I am a member of that society, therefore, no screwing children.

(Note, in 1850 she'd be fair game and prime marrying age.)
(Also note: in several dalliances while in my late 20's with 18 and 19 year old college girls I discovered that I want some mileage on the person I share a bed, sooner or later you're going to have to talk to them and youngin's just don't have anything worth saying most of the time!)

Back to my original point.  Her fucking him is OK.  What if he's 14? (He turns 14 in a couple weeks.)

"That's fine..."

What about 15?  Sixteen?  Seventeen?

What's the magic number?

She's still a child until 18 and he's going to turn 18 before her.  Is child of 17 OK to get it on with man of 18?

"Uh..." (kids look nervous again).

The truth be told, Western Civ is WAY too hung up on sex.

We're also fucked in the head about the transition from child to adult.

We puritanically forbid children to make a slow entry into adulthood then slam them into it at a magical chronological date; ready or not!

At the same time we don't keep our adolescents from seeing anything and everything about being an adult, we just say, "forbidden!  Wait until you're 18 (or 21)!"

We refuse to account for sexual maturity not conforming to our chronological mile-markers.

Likewise we refuse to admit that many people who've passed those marks aren't really ready to be adults yet.

No wonder they're confused when the teacher hits on them.

We're not preparing them, and in many ways we're not allowed to teach them.

18 February 2020

The Internet Is All About Cat Pictures

Something I think is neat about modern cameras is the digital filters you can apply as you're taking the picture.

Dingus, grudgingly, agreed to model.

Grainy b/w:

Regular b/w:

Soft focus:

"Toy" camera: