OK, posting a diary is a good way to procrastinate on writing a paper for a conference.
I bought two new canon camera lenses yesterday, here in Raleigh (at peace camera on Peace Street. I got the 17-87mm with image stabilisation (IS) and also the 50mm f/1.8 portrait lens.
It's interesting to look through the viewfinder of an SLR camera with an image stabilisation lens system: what ou see is the reduced-shake view, so as you move the camera the view seems to jerk slightly or to lag a little, as at first the camera (or lens) corrects for the motion. It's slightly nauseating but I'm getting used to it, and the sharper pictures are definitely worth it.
The 50mm lens supports f/1.8, which means the shutter of the camera can open very wide, letting in a lot of light but at the same time giving a narrow "depth of field", so that someone's face can be in sharp focus but the background be entirely blurred. Makes for good portraits but does not have the IS feature, so you have to hold the camerra very steadily or use a tripod.
I'd been planning on getting the lenses on eBay, but Peace Camera had them used at lower prices than I've generally seen there, I could try them in the store, there was no shipping fee, and of course it was less worrying. The Canon lenses go on ebay like hot cakes. Actually better, as I don't think heated baked goods are suitable for mail order purchase :-)
chalst, introducing or enforcing more strictly any sort of gun control will (of course) almost certainly increase gun-related crime, because anyone with an unregistered gun is now committing a crime, even if they don't fire it. Statistics about crime are awfully hard to compare!