Is It Monday Again? I Didn’t Get The Memo

I like to get ten items worked on per day. I can figure out the real odd balls, so they give me the odd balls, which then slow me down because they take time to figure out, then test and clean. Today they took too long, and I got FOUR items worked on.

Then I got something on my hands BEFORE I put a pair of gloves on, and when the gloves came off after I finished doing what I was doing, my hands were red and itchy. I noticed this AFTER I rubbed my neck and my neck was red and itchy too. I had 30mg Benadryl tablets so I took one. If you thought I was working slow before . . .

Then it was time for the first-in-years-because-we-finally-got-a-manager-who-cares “semi-annual” performance review. Between some stuff that has improved and some stuff that has since changed, and some stuff you’d have to be me to disagree with, it was strictly a mediocre review.

I got home and my Darling Wife pointed out I was so slow from the Benadryl I shouldn’t be driving, and she was too tired to drive, so we missed church.

I went to take a shower, to get whatever was on me off, before it got on the rest of the family. As I was relaxing in the shower, the [deleted] SHOWERHEAD broke off and left me a 1/4″ tube spitting out a stream of water.

Then #2 wanted to play with my Life-Like HO scale slot cars. Sure, knock yourself out. Turns out today was the day we find out five of my six cars have stripped out ring gears. #3 wanted to play, and #2 wanted to play, and there was only one car, resulting in screaming fights.

Then I called somebody to give them a birthday well-wish, and the [deleted] cat laid into one of the [deleted] dogs while I was on the phone.

It’s been a day for minor irritants. It’s nothing major and I know I’ve got it better than I deserve, but it seems like I’ve been piled-on a little more than usual today. Next thing you know my computer is going to d

Obama: Political Poison This November

President Obama says it’s “Inexcusable” for Democrats to stand on the sidelines on election day. You know what else is inexcusable? Voting for a one-word slogan and getting a marxist into the White House. Democrats feel free to stand on the sidelines. Better yet, sit on your chairs at home and curse your party’s and President’s electoral ambitions.

Rush Limbaugh reports Obama can’t even fill a room in Madison WI. Biden drew 25 OLD people in a line. . . no college students wanted to see him. Russ Feingold won’t be caught dead in the same room when PBO goes to help raise funds for Feingold . . . but this is reported as “not” a sleight against the President.

That’s rough.

“DEY SHOO’IN!” Shots Fired at University of Texas

This has been a huge local story all day. The following are the notes I took from news and call-in shows:

News flash! an incident occurring approximately 08:10-ish In a gun-free zone . . .

  • 08:25: There is word over the radio of a shooting on the University of Texas (Austin) campus. Shooter has a black suit & tie, black rifle, face covered, reports of 5 to at least 10 shots fired. A cabbie called in to the radio news show and said the guy was shooting right in front of his car. I was thinking VRRRRRRMMM-CRASH! Shooter run over, okay, done! Or in the alternative, draw your gun from its concealed hide in the car, and PEW! PEW! PEW! okay, done! Not everyone thinks like me, though, and this driver followed the example of brave, brave Sir Robin. One can hardly blame him.
    They’ll be sending 100% of all the DPS and APD and probably the Sherrif’s department down there. Traffic will be a nightmare. For those unaware, the UT campus is in the heart of downtown Austin. This will be a mess. My prediction: either a yabba dabba jihad, or a disgruntled liberal.
  • 08:50 Reports of more shots fired. Police swarming the area, shooter possibly holed up on 5th floor of the (PCL) library. Roll swat, break out the tactical rifle, PEW! okay, done!
  • 08:52 Shooter on 6th floor, reportedly has killed himself
  • 09:01 Caller wonders why someone would go shooting downtown, seeing as other peoples’ lives are at stake. I LOL’d at the dummy caller: duh, if you are shooting you probably want to take lives, dummy!
  • 09:08 Austin Police Chief Acevedo says there are no known injuries. There was one active shooter, they are looking for a second suspect. First suspect apparently committed suicide
  • 09:11 John Lott was scheduled to speak on campus tonight according to a caller
  • 09:44 police dogs searching the Calhoun building across the street from the library for a possible second gunman
    They are looking for a second shooter because the Police have conflicting reports of the shooter’s description. If you are not sure what you saw, please shut up about what you think you saw. This is a busy area at 08:20 in the morning. Somebody will give a good report. If you called in with a half-remembered thing you heard from somebody who was looking the other way at the time, congratulations. You just cost a day of productivity at the University and several tens of thousands of dollars from the Police budget. They will be sweeping every nearby building, going door-to-door, for HOURS looking for a phantom.
    Gun is called an AK-47. Almost certainly an AK variant, not a true AK. Genuine (machine gun) AKs are hard and expensive to buy in the US because of the first setting on the rifle’s fire controls. “Clip” often used in description . . . AKs don’t use clips, they use magazines.
  • CG says to me with an amused tone of voice: Dave . . . I didn’t expect you to come in today. Funny guy.
  • TT says (when he heard it was an AK) “Stop drop and roll!” I told him, “No, that’s for when you’re on fire, not when you’re fired on.Shooter reportedly tall, skinny, light skinned (white/hispanic?) male
    Walked around, firing left-handed from the hip. Not shouldered, not aimed.
    Police chased him into library ~5 minutes after started shooting. When seconds count . . .
    John Lott WAS actually scheduled to speak on the UT campus on the topic of concealed carry on campus. Everything scheduled for today on campus was cancelled, so the event has been moved. Timing.
    Shooter was a 19 y.o. math major, sophomore at UT, from Austin, lived with family. Updated prediction: drugs or PTSD or ADHD-drugged as a kid.
    Possibly copying a similar scene from a video game

This is My Surprised Face

After the end of a moratorium on building, building begins again on disputed land in palestine (note the lack of a capital “P” there). Because zero percent is better than 92% when your goal is to be a political football, this new building means the Palestinian delegation to peace talks is not feeling so very peaceable anymore.

But . . . but . . . The Obama said they should have peace! I thought certainly the sheer power of his awesomeness would make both sides lay down their centuries-old hatred and sing ‘kum ba yah!’ What happened?!

I know, it’s crazy. I mean the man has his own hand salute and a poster with his face on it and everything! Don’t those backwards jews and pawns palestinians know Obama’s legacy is at stake!? Don’t they want some hopeychange?


We Need A New War

We need a war on lack of education in America’s schools. So let’s spend more money on education and warehouse the children for more of the calendar year in failed institutions of “education!” That ought to do it!

Oh, and lip service to getting rid of the bad teachers. Good job, President Obama, it only took you two years of Presidentin’ to come up with that!

So what would YOU do, smartypants?

Disband the Department of Education and work to dissolve the teachers’ unions. Restore control over education to the states (10th Amendment anyone?) and encourage the States to give control to the local municipalities. Abolish national standards. Place emphasis on the responsibility of the student to learn, instead of continuing to throw more money into a school that doesn’t care what the students do. Try generally to not act like the pointy heads in D.C. that don’t know the first thing about your child, know best how to educate your child.

Just because something must be done, doesn’t mean the federal Government is the one who needs to be doing it. Education of the children of the nation is one thing the .gov does badly – so stop trying!

Taliban Calls For Reconciliation Meetings

Terry has decided to act like he wants to play nice, now that it is clear even his muslim brother Obama wants to kick his ass. This is a tactic of a losing combatant. If our goal is defeating the Taliban, we need to crush them into submission.* If we don’t, they will come back and bite us again.

How do you know, warmonger?!

In Japan and Germany, we beat the enemy down until they waved a white flag from the mud under our boot heels. Those nations are now both prosperous allies of ours, with NO militant ambitions. In Vietnam, we stopped at a treaty and the North took over the South. Israel settled for treaties with her neighbors and they are still fighting – and those neighbors are co-religionists with the Taliban!

You don’t stop fighting until the other side is defeated militarily. Peace through victory is the only sort that lasts. If the proposed talks with the Taliban result in a cessation of fighting so Obama can declare “Mission Accomplished” then he is as big a fool as he seems to be – and though we save face we will have lost the long war in Afghanistan.

*Islam is Arabic for ‘submission’ – it’s an islamic joke!

Ancient Instincts Still Lurking

I spent two years working around EP-3E and P-3C aircraft, which have four big propellers each. I was told from day one to the day I left, by instructors, co-workers, and the voices in my head, as well as the safety posters on the walls and the incident reports that came across the wires and in the safety magazines that you do.not.ever. walk through the propeller arc, even if there is a negative 100% chance of the propeller turning. If the engine is MISSING, you don’t go through a prop arc.

Yesterday at the air show, I showed #2 the red line on the side of a B-25 signifying the location of the propeller arc. I told him always to go around the side, because you can’t see a spinning propeller, but if you walk into it, it will be like walking into a blender (which is bad for your health). To demonstrate that it could be done, as the plane was on static display with engines still, I


I am NEVER doing that again. I had never done it before, that I can recall, and that was the last time.

A goose walked over my grave. I got the creeping willies all up and down from the hair on top of my head to the hair between my toes. I have NEVER been as creeped-out as when I walked between the blades of that propeller.

For those who don’t know about propeller-driven airplanes, this is a common way for a man to die a nasty death. You never touch a propeller unless you have made it safe by doing the appropriate things you were trained to do – if you were not trained to work on that aircraft, you don’t touch the propeller. You never, never, ever, but NEVER should even come close to walking through the space through which a propeller would spin, if it were spinning. EVAR. I did it and I am sorry I did.

Sure it was “safe” to do. So is playing russian roulette with an unloaded revolver. Maybe you’d have to have been an “airedale” to understand.


On a related note, it was a bit surreal to look at that plane from a distance. It has a bomb bay for raining death from above, and something like a dozen machine guns from front to back, and there was a stroller parking lot under the starboard wing and a bunch of people milling around just gawking at it.

New Technology: Wait For It . . .

What I’ve been waiting for: OLED light source plugs into mains without auxiliary circuitry.

What we’re still waiting for: Car gets 119MPG on diesel . . . that is, a car produced in 1984, and got 100MPG 26 years ago. Current fleet on the road in America averages something like 24MPG for all the new cars.

Of course, if the new drugs turn out to help you live an extra hundred years or so, you’ll be able to see a 100MPG production car hit the street . . .

But by then, it just might be powered by poop.

Slow Shutter Speed Camera Hold Holding Techniques

A few techniques for photographers to use shutter speeds up to 1/4 second with a little practice.

Where I work, from a photographer’s perspective, it is dark. This would be fine by me, except that I am required to take photographs of product all day. Mine is a decent enough camera, but it has its limitations. Due to graininess at higher settings, I almost always shoot at ISO 200. I would love to use 100 or 50, but because it is so dark in the shop, there is just too much motion-induced blur, even when the below techniques are used. The solution to a dim area is usually the use of a flash, but this one does bad things with glare and white balance.

So I have to use a slow shutter and a wide aperture. This lens gets to f2.8, which is better than some point-and-shoots, but sometimes I wish I could break into the low f1 range with the lighting I have to deal with. By “slow shutter,” I mean I regularly take 1/13sec. exposures. Sometimes I have to go to 1/8sec or slower . . . at f2.8! This my friends is a recipie for disaster blurry photographs.

We had a rifle in the shop one day and MM (a former Marine) and I were fondling examining it. I adopted my standard offhand, stance similar to this, which is appropriate for a rifle with no sling, which is long and front-heavy:

MM said there was a better way to shoot offhand, as he was taught by Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children – and as he used against Bad Guys in the jungle. This one can be better used with a rifle with better balance:

(image from

Note the supporting arm elbow is cranked way over in front of the torso, and the weight of the rifle is borne on the ribs. If a gun is not so muzzle-heavy as to tip down when held so, and the recoil won’t tear it off the support hand, this can be a good method to practice with, for a shot that can’t wait for a supported firing position. Note that the girl is leaning backward for more stable support, and the man is leaning forward. She has a light-recoiling rifle and spare time, but he is in a hurry with his .30-06. If you will be needing rapid follow-up shots and/or have some recoil to deal with, you might want to lean forward a little to absorb recoil down through your back leg.

Cameras VFD, we’re here for cameras!

Right, right, cameras. Without really thinking about it, I have found that rifle firing skills cross over to camera shooting fairly well. The problems with these holding techniques are familiar to rifle shooters: your pulse makes your hands jump, and your breath is pushing your hands all over the place. Plus your arms don’t weigh nothing and (especially with a heavy camera) they can get tired holding your camera up in front of you. Shutter/pulse timing and breath control are CRITICAL when using these camera holding techniques with a slow camera shutter. Below, you can see how to minimize camera shake as much as I have found possible without so much as a $0 monopod.



You have a huge source of jitter in your brachial artery. If you jam your upper arm sideways against your torso for support, it will make your sights and viewfinder jump big-time. You do not want to put ribs against arteries. You want ribs against the soft artery-free flesh of your arm. Your goal with these first two techniques is to put your supporting arm against your ribs in a way that the ribs are not pushed against by the arteries in your arm. Note how the raidal and ulnar arteries are smaller and spaced away from the middle of the forearm.

For shooting an object below eye-level at a significant downward angle, I tend to go with something like this:

My right (firing/shutter button) arm is not touching my body. If you were shooting at your feet, I suppose it would be alright to put both arms at your side. To get the camera up and still be able to use the LCD viewfinder*, one arm has to be off the body. The forearm of the supporting arm is pushing gently on the side of the chest so that the arteries in the forearm are not pushing on a rib.

That hold is for shooting down. Unless you lean ‘way over backwards, the hold for shooting horizontally or up has to change a bit. Do not be tempted to just raise the arm and push sideways against your ribcage with the upper arm. The brachial artery will fight you, and you will get motion blur. DO NOT DO THIS:

Scroll up and look at that girl’s supporting arm again. See how she’s all twisted-up looking? That brachial artery is pushing against open air. Put your elbow in front of your chest so the back of the arm (with no major arteries in it) is against the chest. Some people will find that they can rest their elbows on their hip bones. If there is some padding (clothing) between them, this may be alright. If there is insufficient padding, you may find that bone-on-bone resting is a good way to induce wobble. If so, reposition yourself! Others will find that they have slightly more-rounded front sides, and that a belly is as good as a rib cage for supporting the back of the supporting arm. Translated to holding a camera, it looks something like this:

The arm is completely in front of the body.

You will find both these postures somewhat awkward to use. They are not intended for the photographer’s comfort, they are intended to reduce the potential for motion-induced blur when the shutter is open for a significant fraction of a second. It shouldn’t hurt to shoot this way unless you have bad joints in your carcass, but don’t be surprised that it takes some getting used to.

That’s what I do for standing photographs. It’s fast and easy once you get your body used to holding itself just-so. Those are variations of off-hand rifle shooting technique. Here are a couple of variations of the ‘rice paddy prone’ position. For those who do not know, Prone is the most stable unsupported rifle firing position. Very few things are more rock-steady than the ground itself!

(image from Hobby Bunker)

But if the ground is a few inches underwater, as in a rice paddy:

(image from Global Education)

Then the next-most stable position from which to shoot rifles (without getting soaked/muddy and/or drowning) is the “rice paddy prone”

(image from Tire Iron at

Again, this translates well to use with a camera. If you can assume this position it is fairly stable. Some people can’t bend their legs this far. Some can’t get their heels flat on the floor. It is critical to do both. You want your heels firmly on the floor, and you want to SIT on the backs of your feet. With a smaller-than-a-rifle camera, you can keep your hands close in to your body. It is important to remember, however, hands-near or hands-far, with a rice paddy prone camera (or rifle) hold, NEVER put the bones of your elbows on the bones of your knees. They will turn your camera into a weeble. You CAN NOT hold a camera still with your elbow on the knee!

You want your elbow to rest on your thigh, or in the alternative rest your triceps on your knee. Soft-on-hard or hard-on-soft, never hard-on-hard!

If you are so inclined, or if the terrain or high winds at your photo shoot demand it, you can stick a leg out in front, but be absolutely certain that your heels are planted!

No, my toes are not curled up off the floor in the above images – the toes are flat, but my grubby $8 work shoes are too big. Think curly-toed elf shoes here.

These photos show my hands in various positions on the camera. Reach around the far side for more stability if your camera allows you to. Play with this for a few minutes and you’ll probably see what I mean. If you must, for control manipulation or personal preference, you can of course keep your support hand on the same side as the supporting arm. Remember that even your fingers have camera-moving arteries in them. You might support the camera on a fist, even. Whatever works for you.

There is no set-in-stone best practice. Terrain, weather, equipment type, and phase of the moon all may dictate slight variations on these holding techniques. The point is holding your camera still, not perfect form. Like any photographic technique, you will have to experiment a bit before realizing optimal results.

*If you don’t have a real-time LCD viewfinder (looking at you, SLR/DSLR users) you will have to adapt these techniques to that fact. It shouldn’t be too hard.

This article started at Les Jones’ Blog, where I told him I’d get back with him about what I do for slow shooting. For the next couple of days at work I paid attention to what I was doing, and made some photographs of it. I mentioned at his site that my camera has some sort of anti-shake stuff ostensibly going on inside. I turned it off and found that, using these holds, the anti-shake only gives me either a few fewer exposures or one timing setting gain (say 3 vs 8 shots for a decent picture, or 1/6 vs. 1/8 sec.) and the benefit was surprisingly small. I can’t really blame the camera though. This is really tripod-range timing. Good luck.