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Another New Camera Lens

SL1 w/New 250mm LensI posted here before about acquiring a 400mm telephoto lens for my little Canon EOS Rebel SL1 and that lens is worth every dime I spent on it. The only drawback is its size and weight when you want to go out into the desert to capture a few photos of critters. It is a bit clunky lugging it around on a walk up the road or for other events where you might want to get photos of subjects that may be dozens of yards away or perhaps more than that.

Image - Camera with the new EF-S 55-250mm Zoom Lens attached. Click on the image to enlarge.

The SL1, when I purchased it in 2014, shipped with the standard 18-55mm lens and an additional 75-300mm telephoto lens, neither of which were of really decent quality. The latter, after a couple of years, developed an autofocus intermittency and had to be scrapped. Plus, in 2019, we replaced the stock lens with a superior quality 18-135mm lens.

So, the bottom line is that I wanted a lightweight intermediate zoom lens for those times that I mentioned above. So far, since I received the new lens last Thursday, I am pleased with its performance. I took the cactus wren photo today at a range of about 35 feet and the lunar photo last Friday during the full February “Snow Moon.” I cropped both images down from the full-frame size to enhance the subjects. Click on either image to enlarge. I am especially pleased with the sharpness of the mountains and craters on the moon which is not bad for an intermediate telephoto lens.

Cactus Wren on Saguaro Snow Moon

I other news, I renewed my expired AZ Driver’s License yesterday. The expiration was covered by an extension due to the pandemic, but that extension ran out at the end of February, so I drove to the MVD and got my renewal. I should get the new license by mail in a week or two.

In other other news, our COVID-19 vaccines have not yet arrived in our area. There are two venues in town through which we can be vaccinated but neither on-line registration is yet available. We’re both eligible for the vaccines by virtue of age.

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38th Annual Toyz 4 Totz Cruise and Car Show

Damsel and I went to our usual first Sunday of December event which is the Cops Who Care and Remember When Cruise Wickenburg Run for the benefit of local kids at Christmas (see poster below). We packed in a couple of unwrapped toys to donate to the cause even though we didn’t participate in the cruise. We consider it a photo op and an enjoyable trek down memory lane.

As usual, Damsel took a lot of photos but these three caught my eye to post here today. There were several Jeeps (Mfg. Willys) on display at the show. The first two images below are of a very clean (and new-looking) Jeep. I recall driving the Navy version of one of these for the Division I served in at NAS Point Mugu in the early 1960s and this one reminded me of that vehicle.

Clean Jeep Front View Clean Jeep Interior Modified Jeep

Well, as you can see, the third image is of a slightly modified Jeep. I didn’t get to talk to the owner, but the card in the window said it had a “blown big 8 cylinder block” for the engine. I had an urge to ask him to start it up so I could hear the unmuffled sounds of the eight chromed exhaust ports. I resisted and was satisfied to have the photo of the beast. Click on any image above to enlarge.

cops38th.jpg

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Thanksgiving Day 2020

Smoked Turkey BreastDamsel and I wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving. We plan to celebrate with a feast consisting of Smoked Turkey Breast with Gravy, Cornbread Dressing, Cranberry Sauce, Brussels Sprouts, Green Bean Casserole and Pumpkin Parfait Dessert. A feast indeed.

Image: Smoked and Sliced Turkey Breast. Click on the image to enlarge.

The image is from our 2018 Thanksgiving Dinner. We expect the same results today.

Since we are both on low carbohydrate and low-sodium diets, the dishes mentioned above are prepared using reduced salt and Keto® friendly ingredients. The turkey breasts are commercially-available such as Jennie-O™ or Butterball™ brands. They come frozen in a pop-in-the-oven plastic bag. We open the bag and discard the accompanying gravy packet. We rinse off all the coatings on the breast and soak in clear water to remove the brine. After applying our own poultry seasonings, we pop it into the smoker and set it to cook slowly over the next few hours.

As I write this, I can smell the smoker doing its thing out on the patio just behind the office where I sit. We are looking forward to today’s feasting. We will be thanking the Lord and asking Him to bless the feast, our country and all those celebrating this day of thanks. We wish all of you a festive and Happy Thanksgiving Day!

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Cataract Surgery Report

Lens ImplantIn August and then again in October, I had eye surgeries to replace aging lens elements in my eyes with artificial implants designed to eliminate cataracts and to correct visual acuity.

Image: Lens Implant similar to those now in my eyes. Alcon© AcrySof™ Click to enlarge.

My guess is that millions have had their cataracts replaced but this is my story and observations. The surgery is quick and painless with perhaps a small amount of discomfort that quickly abates afterward.

In my case, as I grew older, I became nearsighted and had to wear glasses to fly, drive and do anything that required distance acuity. I removed the glasses to read and work with things close-up. Kind of a pain in the ass without bifocals, and I hated bifocals so I did without. This was before progressive lenses were available.

After a while I wore a contact lens in one eye only so I could see distance, but the uncorrected eye was perfect for reading and working on the computer at home and work. No glasses other than shades were involved. This technique is called “monovision” with one eye corrected for distance and the other used for close work.

Then, about 23 years ago, I had Lasik® surgery to fix my right eye only in order to eliminate the need for a contact lens. Still monovision, but now independent of corrective lenses. I had glasses made for driving where the correction fixed the nearsighted eye and corrected for astigmatism in both eyes. I eventually added progressive corrections so I could seamlessly switch between the distance view and the instrument panel or GPS. That was the status quo up to the surgeries this year.

The left eye surgery was a standard lens replacement while the right eye was a bit more complex, which I will describe below. After the left eye was fixed, one of the first things I noticed was a rather pronounced difference in color perception between the fixed eye and the unfixed eye. With the left eye, white looked white and with the right eye, white looked yellow-ish. Blues were vivid in the left eye and dull with the right eye. I guess I underestimated how big an effect that cataracts have on your vision.

I mentioned that the replacement surgery in the right eye was more complex. When I had Lasik® in that eye I had no idea that it would affect the cataract surgery in that the cornea became distorted. To correct the cornea problem, a second procedure was needed. Before the lens replacement process, they put me under a machine that made contact with the cornea and fired several laser blasts to reshape it. Immediately after that the lens replacement took place with an additional measurement to determine which lens power to use. The surgeon then selected the proper power and completed the surgery.

All the follow up appointments with the ophthalmologist went well. I was now seeing 20/20 with the right eye and the left eye was suitable for close work and reading. This month, I ordered two pairs of prescription glasses - one pair of shades with progressive lenses for driving and daytime outdoor use and another single-vision clear pair for watching TV and other night time use.

Damsel and I were out the last couple of evenings watching the ISS fly over. As a bonus, the crescent Moon, Jupiter and Saturn were gathering together in the southwestern sky in a gorgeous asterism. And Stars! So many Stars all now brightly focused and brilliant. I can SEE!

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Accessorizing the ARs - Red Dot Optics

at3-leos.pngLast week on a whim, I ordered a couple of AT3™ LEOS® Red Dot Sights with Integrated Lasers for both of our rifles. Yesterday, I mounted them on the upper receiver rails of the rifles and tested them out - both units seem to work just fine.

I have to mention that I am a little disappointed that these were manufactured in China. We generally avoid buying products from communist countries if we can help it, but the items are here and we’ll try to make the best of it, I guess.

The next step is to take them to the range and boresight them to the rifles. AT3 Tactical supplied a procedure for this, but we are going to consult some videos on YouTube™ and other sources to get a feel for how we’re going to go about it.

The image below is of my rifle with the new optic mounted with both dust covers flipped up. The laser on/off button is on the little control panel (forward) and the three red dot controls are brightness up, brightness down and on/off. Click on the image to enlarge.

at3leos-red-dot-sight-with-laser.jpg

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Eleventh Retirement Anniversary

eleven-red-rocks.pngThe last year seems to have gone by in a whirlwind despite the social and biological plagues of 2020. Since our Retirement Post Last Year, we have been busy with our everyday routines accompanied by some occasional deviations from the norm. We find things to keep us busy, I guess, as most retirees do, and that seems to make the time pass quickly.

Because of the overblown COVID-19 pandemic (or should I say DEM panic?), we have postponed any excursions in the RV to next spring and/or fall. We had planed a couple of trips for 2020, but stuff happened.

IMAGE: Numeral Eleven textured by the red rock gravel around our house where many people would have a lawn. We have to pull weeds once in a while, but no mowing in retirement!

During the past year, on two occasions, we have entertained overnight visitors in our home. The first visit was from a couple that we have known since the early 1960’s. They stayed a couple of nights with us and had a reunion dinner at our place with another couple who, like us, relocated to Arizona from Kalifornistan. The second visitor, also an old friend and former workplace associate, stayed with us a couple of nights in August while on his way from Colorado Springs back home to the Los Angeles area. Those were both nice visits that we enjoyed immensely.

October is going to be an eventful month. I have my second cataract surgery scheduled mid-month with pre- and post-surgery visits with the ophthalmologist plus visit scheduled with the proctologist for an exam and to schedule the next colonoscopy. I also have some more dermatology work to be done sometime in October. I also plan on seeing the orthopedic surgeon next week regarding knees, shoulders and hips. There’s nothing drastically wrong with those (I hope) but I have a recommendation from the family doctor to go to the ortho for x-rays and follow-ups.

So, here we go into our twelfth year of retirement. We’re praying that the widespread insanity diminishes enough for us to get back to normal and maybe hit the road to relieve our wanderlust.

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Arms Collection - Addition and Mods

Two weeks ago, we added a new AR style firearm to our inventory. We now have two of these. Our local arms dealership is going out of business due to poor health of the proprietor and we got the latest AR at a 10 percent discount from their posted price. We also acquired some spare 30 round magazines for 5.56×45 and a couple of other accessories.

Now that the smoke has settled from the acquisitions, we decided to upgrade our stock hand guards to a quad rail system. The units we bought are Leapers UTG PRO AR-15 MTU001 Drop-in Carbine-Length Quad Rail System. Our main motivation for this is to be able to install forward vertical grip handles on the rifles as well as addition of illuminators or other goodies on the rails.

I installed the first Quad Rail on the new rifle this afternoon. It went quite well as I followed the instructions from their You-Tube Video. I then installed the vertical grip on the lower rail of the new unit. Before and after images below. Click on either image to enlarge.

Before After

I tried to install the second Quad Rail on our older AR and had a problem with it. I think it may be due to a slight misalignment of the barrel nut (looks like a gear with teeth). If you watch the video, they mention that an “armorer’s wrench” may be necessary to correct the misalignment. Well, we ain’t got one of those and they are too $$ for a one-time use. I am going to go to the shop where we bought the gun and see if they can fix the problem. I’ll mosey on over to the shop tomorrow and see if they can help.

Meanwhile, the new rifle looks sorta cool with the rails and the vertical grip. We’ll get to the range soon and see how it feels with the grip.

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