Archive for February, 2006

Leave coming to an end

It’s getting to be about time for me to head back to Ft. Benning and go back to work. Leave has been good for the most part – I’ve had the chance to see some good friends, fix my truck, ride my motorcycle, visit with family, and figure some things out. I was thinking I would go back tomorrow, and sign back in from leave to save a few days – I’ve rethought that and I won’t be signing back in until Friday or Saturday. I’m still leaving tomorrow though. Unpacking, and getting my BDUs in order (they need new rank, and combat patches – and my boots haven’t been polished since 2004.) I’d rather have some free time to get that taken care of, than have to do it all in one night, and get up in the morning for PT.

Guitar Photos

Figured I’d take some more pictures of a few guitars @ the house. All are hosted on my flickr.

Some shots from around Houston

All images hosted on my flickr account.

Stars and Stripes over Houston

The 610 Loop

Concrete Hill

Ship Channel Bridge

Texas Cyclone



Refinery at night

Lense differences

I couldn’t really think of anything to photograph last night, so I figured I’d check out the reports that Sigma glass tends to be darker in general than Canon glass. I happen to have two lenses both with 50mm focal lengths and a tripod. The Canon lense in question is their inexpensive 50mm f/1.8, and the Sigma is their “digital” 18-50mm f/3.5-5.6. Given that I can’t go below f/5.6 at 50mm on the Sigma, I set the camera body (Canon Digital Rebel XT, or 350D) to f/5.6 with a shutter speed of 1/3sec.

The photo through the Canon 50mm f/1.8 lense.

The photo through the Sigma 18-50 f/3.5-5.6 lense.

With the Sigma lense being designed for the smaller crop sensor, and the Canon being an EF lense, rather than an EF-S probably makes a difference as to how much light gets through even at the same aperture. Anyway, in my test the Sigma is in fact darker, by about a third of a stop.

First 2500mi Riding Impressions

Well, after a little over a month of total riding time on my 2005 Suzuki SV650S she’s finally got 2500 miles on the clock. You’d think after a solid 2500 miles I’d have something to say about the bike, and you’d be right. The only bad thing I can think of is the lack of visability during the day, without turning on the high-beams. In itself, that isn’t really a huge deal. The adjusters for the headlights, as far as I can tell, don’t actually do anything – left to right will move, but up and down doesn’t do much. If the sun is up, my high-beams are on.

My 2500 mile fuel economy average is 47.83 miles per gallon. All in all, I’ve spent roughly $115 on gas. Total operating costs thus far have been stupidly low. Today I changed the oil, just because I was bored. The filter, a Wix 51359 for whoever is wondering ran me $10, an oil filter wrench was another $5, and a gallon of Shell Rotella T 15w40 was $8. After tax I was staring at about $25. The shifter I broke, cost me $4 to fix, and $60 for a replacement (now I have a spare).

Riding long distances (200+ miles) isn’t a big deal provided I pack something soft in the back of my tankbag to give me something to lay down on. That helps keep the strain off my shoulders and back, and brings my helmet down out of the the wind. On the highway, at about 70mph (indicated 75mph) the SV gets upwards of 50mpg for extended trips, which is pretty awesome. Handling is great, I read a lot of complaints about the factory suspension being mushy and vague – I don’t have any of those complaints. My weight may well be a factor there, I simply don’t put the strain on the forks or rear shock that a 180lb rider does. Of course I was once known to carve up twisty roads in a 1992 Camaro, with stock and worn suspension – so maybe I’m just really used to vague, mushy suspension? I’ve yet to encounter any surprises while upright, or leaned over, so I’m not too worried about it.

In short, I love my bike.


Slik Sprint Mini w/ Ballhead

That’s the official name of my newest piece of equipment. I needed a tripod, but I wanted one that had a ballhead, and would fit in the tank bag for my motorcycle. The Slik Sprint Mini fit the bill (for a bill of $68 shipped.) Anyway, thus far I like the tripod a lot. It doesn’t get very high, but it does get really low. It’s got spikes and non-spikey options for footing as well.

Pics required, obviously.

Tripod raised.

Tripod lowered.

A shot from the tripod.

Another shot from the tripod.

Range Report: Kel-Tec P11

Initial impressions are quite good – in fact, I’m fully prepared to carry my P11. The trigger is long, the trigger is heavy, but the trigger is consistent and that’s a good thing. Today’s trip to the range covered two missions at once – breaking in the P11, and teaching my parents how to shoot pistols. Both went very well.

The diet for the P11 today consisted of one box of American Eagle 115gr FMJ, one box of MAGTECH 115gr FMJ, and 10rds of Cor-Bon 90gr +p JHPs. The P11 failed to eject (or complete extraction rather) three times in 60 rounds, and none in the final 50. The first two FTEs occured while I was shooting, and I’m fairly confident limp-wristing was not a factor, they were both in the first 15 rounds though – so I’m not bothered by this at all. The final FTE occured while my Dad was shooting it, and from my point of observation it appeared as though he did limp wrist that shot. None of the FTEs required more than a quick jerk of the slide to clear and resume firing. Remember kids, malfunction drills are you friends.

Accuracy was actually better than I expected from such a small package. After two magazines worth of “familiarization” fire, I commenced my “record” fire and was pleasently surprised. At a realistic self-defense range of 7m the P11 in my hands was at least minute of fist – and I have small hands. In short, the X-ring was not happy. Both parents were also able to make consistent hits in the vital zone of the target their first times shooting pistols.

The only negative I can think of is the feeling in my trigger finger after firing off a magazine from the P11. The recoil itself it neither unpleasent nor unmanagable – even with the +p load. My trigger finger however does get sore shooting this pistol. I look at that as a problem easily fixed by bringing my Nighthawk Custom Enforcer along and shooting a few magazines through it!

Pics, of course required as usual.

Battle of the Helmets

Well not really a battle, but a contest if you will. My first helmet was an HJC AC-11, and it fit decently, but was pretty loud, and not all that comfortable. I figured that was a sacrifice one made when paying less than $200 for a helmet. The prospect of potential passengers drove me to buy another helmet, for passenger use, but given that it wouldn’t be used often, I wasn’t willing to spend much – so I went w/ HJC again, in the form of their CL-15.

I figured I’d try the CL-15 on, just to see if the sub-$100 helmet fit the same as the AC-11 – it doesn’t. The CL-15 fits me better than the AC-11 does. Color me surprised. As far as noise goes, the CL-15 isn’t any louder than the AC-11, though it does flow more air through the bottom of the helmet. Where fit is concerned, the ear area is the most significantly different. The AC-11 smashes the tops of my ears into the earpieces of my glasses, making for some pretty steady pain after only a few miles. On the CL-15 I can actually comfortably wear my glasses and have no issues w/ my ears being smashed.

Looks to me like the CL-15 is now my helmet, and the AC-11 is the passenger helmet. Go figure.

Kel-Tec P11

For quite a while now I’ve been looking into getting a 9mm. I have two 1911s in .45ACP, a Smith & Wesson snub nosed revolver in .38SPL, but I had no 9mm. Well now I do. I was actually looking for a Makarov in 9x18mm if I could find one on the cheap. I couldn’t find a single Makarov in Houston – so I went looking at pistols. In all honesty, I figured I’d end up w/ a Glock 19.

Enter the Kel-Tec P11. First and foremost, it’s inexpensive. Secondly, it’s solidly built as far as I can tell – and in the USA at that. This pistol is actually smaller than the Glock, in every dimension I can think of. There’s no funky trigger mojo, it’s just one long heavy DAO trigger.

Tomorrow I’ll have a range report. Pics will have to do for now.

Holy Headset Batman!!!11one

So today, I needed some blank CDs to burn Damn Small Linux, and I had a gift cert. to Target, so off I went. I saw a headset for cheap, so I bought it – only because it claimed to be compatible with Linux!!!!! Now, imagine my shock to learn that we’re finally mainstream enough to have compatible headsets. Eat THAT Microsoft.

Really though, the coolest thing I’ve done today was setup DSL to boot from my thumbdrive, and to run from within Windows. The big reason that’s cool is it’s just automagic, and I can use a real terminal that doesn’t make me suicidal and I even get the standard payload of normal linux tools. Quite nifty indeed. Read this for more details.

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