Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Cool Air: $2600

     The A-coil in the air-conditioning system here at Roseholme Cottage has had a slow leak for at least three years now.  Each spring, that has caused it to super-cool, freeze up and it has taken an expensive topping-up to get it running again.

     It happened this Spring.  It also happened yesterday.  This morning, we had the HVAC tech out and he say's it's the A-coil, the one that lives in the ductwork above the furnace and chills the air.  Good news and not: you can still get them.  You can still get the R22 refrigerant this 20-year-old system uses, too -- for another couple of years.  But this whole thing is going to be an unloved orphan in a few years, if the phase-out proceeds as planned.     I could roll the dice, the current Administration isn't friendly to this kind of EPA meddling; but they're unlikely to be in place forever and the companies that make this stuff are mostly giant multi-nationals: R22 -- Freon plus a little of this and a dash of that -- is going away.  It's time to get away from it before everybody is having to and the price goes up.

     Which means Roseholme Cottage needs a new A-coil, a new outdoor unit and some fancy copper line.  And I'll be out $2600.00, American.

     Not fun -- I'm still feeling the pinch from the price of the car I bought a few years ago -- but it was not great sleeping last night and miserable trying to get ready this morning in the heat and humidity, despite open windows and electric fans.  It's got to be done.  What if Tam melted and I had to buy the Internet a replacement?  Way more expensive!  Besides, I've read the H. P. Lovecraft story and I'm not goin' out like that.

     This is actually a pretty good deal compared to the going rate in Indianapolis at this time of year.  They start work tomorrow morning.  Should take about half a day.

Faux-Glazed Pork Chops

     Last night's dinner was a last-minute thing: I was thinking I hadn't had pork chops in a long while.  It turned out the market had some nice shishito peppers, and this and that...  It all came together okay:
Tamara Keel photo
      That "glaze" is just the pan juices.  Started with the pork chops seasoned pretty heavily with chipotle sea salt, alderwood-smoked salt, black pepper, chili-mango mix and smoked Spanish paprika (bittersweet). Started on both sides in a little bacon fat (and I should have seared the edge fat), then just a little Pinot Grigio poured in and covered. Let it go for a least 15-20 minutes over medium-low heat. You want it just barely bubbling. Add wine as needed; you want to keep a little liquid in the bottom of the pan. Turn and give them another 15+ minutes, maintaining liquid level, and then turn up the heat. When it gets hot, add the shishito peppers, turning as needed. You'll be deglazing and adding liquid often. Cook until peppers are done -- they puff up a little and may even "pop." I used a 10" non-stick saucepan with the clear lid, very handy for this kind of cooking.  To serve, the pan juices get poured over the plated chop and peppers, which have added a tiny hint of heat.

     Why Pinot Grigio?  Chance.  Walking toward the checkout, I decided a little wine would help the chops cook.  Looking for white wine, I saw the Pinot Grigio and had vague memories of it being flavorful and having a little "edge." After I'd eaten dinner and was cleaning up the dishes, I chanced to look at the wine label: "Delicate floral aroma...overtones of citrus, pear and apple...."  So let's make that "lucky chance."

     This is actually low-effort cooking: the asparagus has a little olive or sesame oil on it, and is microwaved for 4 minutes plus or minus with some fresh garlic, salt, and a couple of slices of red bell pepper.  The neighborhood grocer's sells it made up, ready to cook.  The tomatoes are just quartered, sprinkled with "Italian seasoning blend" and allowed to sit for five minutes.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Please Bite The Sun

     The way things are going in this country, I'm forced to conclude that it's either Peak Stupid or people have simply lost their flipping minds.  So if you're part of the problem, out raising or meta-raising hell over stuff most people don't even notice over the ringing silence of empty factories and the hot hum of  angry minds all around, go ahead, look right at the eclipse; those stories about it being bad for your eyes are probably just a leftist conspiracy or a capitalist plot.

     ...Or maybe, just maybe, as you start to glance skyward, it'll dawn on you that not everything is the result of some wicked, ill-defined Them, and you'll look away.

     But I doubt it.
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     Title borrowed from a Tanith Lee novel about a character who wants to grow up but can't quite manage to, and modified to fit.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

I'm Burned Out

     This country is rapidly approaching "peak stupid," and I'm sick of all the noise.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Hyperthetical

     So, try this on for size:  You're a dog-fancier.  You have written on the Internet about how much you like dogs.  In fact, you like big, mean bitey dogs, because yours will only bite people you don't like.  There's a city a couple states over that has had a dog park for a long, long time, and the city council has voted to replace it with a cat park.

     You're not happy about this, and when a rally of dog-fanciers who oppose it is announced, you're interested, especially when the artwork shows plenty of big, bitey dogs.  Those are your kind of people!

     Cat-lovers are unhappy.  The most vocal of them are way over the top -- they own tigers and lions, and been heard to wish they could set their big cats to wiping out dogs.  A lot of them have been saying dog-lovers should be slapped, and lot of them have done just that.  The cat-lovers are going to protest the rally.  The dog-lovers aren't nice and the cat-lovers aren't either.   There don't seem to be many fans of lapdogs or housecats at the event or counter-protest.

     You go anyway.  You find yourself, for whatever reason, walking into a big crowd of cat-lovers, but you keep on walking.  One of them shoves you, hard, and your reaction is to start running and shooting into the crowd ahead of you.  Your shots kill one person and injure others.

     Do you think that shooting is justified?

*  *  *
     I've spent a couple of hours over the last two days arguing on Facebook with people who think I am being unfair to the Charlottesville killer, or siding with antifa when I call him a murderer, or that I, as a private citizen, am somehow obliged to refrain from expressing an opinion until the courts have ruled.

     Nonsense.  The killer is known to be an admirer of Nazism at the very least, and not in the "they sure had kewl planes and tanks!" way, but the "they sure had kewl ideas!" way.  I have watched all the video of the event I can find and it looks to me like a deliberate act.  At the very best, it is manslaughter, and would be if the driver was a blameless nun, Stalin or von Ribbentrop.  It would be if the crowd were innocent schoolkids or hardened felons.  You don't go smashing cars into people.  Especially when backing out before anyone gets hurt is an available option.

     Decent people aren't obliged to be nice to Nazis, or to "antifa," either.  We are obliged to refrain from punching (or otherwise aggressing against) people who are not offering a direct physical threat, despite what antifa would prefer.  But not punching them doesn't mean you approve of them.

     When I started carrying a gun, I learned to avoid situations in which I might have to use it.  If you have a choice to go or not go someplace with a high probability of needing to shoot in self defense and you don't have to go, you shouldn't go there.  A car is a deadly weapon, too -- and can be even by mischance.  If you have a choice to not drive into a crowd, even at well under five miles an hour with a lot of smiles and waves all around, you should avoid the crowd.  The killer in Charlottesville did not -- and he was moving considerably faster than 5 mph.  There's no justification for it.

     There was a lot of low-level violence in Charlottesville (and it's only "low-level" if it's not you on the pavement) .  That doesn't excuse vehicular attack.

     A lot of people on both sides want this to be a "Democrats vs. Republican" thing.  It isn't.  Don't fool yourself; the conventional two big parties aren't in this fight.  The principals explicitly reject their philosophies.  The LP isn't in this fight.

     Comments are closed, go defend Nazis on your own blog if you are so inclined.  Comments to this post made in the comments sections of other posts will be deleted with prejudice: this isn't the public square, this is my blog.  Nazis, KKK, those types are not welcome here.*
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* And neither is antifa or other "direct action" lefists.  They're all jerks.  In terms of, "Would I care to sit next to these people on the bus," I say no to both sides. Give me a stolid, silent car thief to sit next to instead.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Overheard While In "The Chair"

     "H'mm, gosh.  We'll be working that tooth -- there's a new spot of decay on the outside, and more decay around an old filling on the inside, so that one will have to come out and get redone.   But the tooth in front of it, the filling it it doesn't look great...."

     (A minor infinity of awkwardness, drilling, vibration both shrill and coarse, rinsing, suctioning, "Turn just a little toward my assistant, okay" and so on.)

     "So, we've got the old filling out -- my, wasn't it a big one! -- and I can get a really good look at the teeth on each side and their fillings.*  That one filling looks really loose.  Let me just see if I can..."  And she picked and prodded at it with various instruments.  Nope. Filling remained stubbornly in place.   "I guess it's okay.  It just looks like it's in there funny."

     I have had the same dentist for over twenty-five years; she took a few years off to look after her parents but other than that, if I have a filling,† she did the work.  She proceeded to fill in the other two fillings with silver (et heavy metal cetera) amalgam,‡ which I didn't know was still used much; turns out it is still stronger and does a better job inhibiting decay than the nice tooth-color stuff.  Finally, she got to the smoothing-out and sculpting stage of the filling:

     "Okay, I'll just run some floss down each side and make sure you'll be able to get between them," which she then did, a little.  I felt an odd sensation and she interrupted herself with, "Hunh, that's funny..."  Long pause.  "It fell out!  That filling I was working at earlier?  It just fell out." She took the lump of metal off my tongue and spent some time peering at the void.  "Doesn't look real good in there--"

     There was another small eternity of drilling and clearing and rinsing and drying and medicating and filling and smoothing and--  She got it done.  I was late to work.

     Ahh, dentistry!  Those were my two best chewing teeth -- yes, when it comes to molars, I'm down to that -- so it's been an interesting and slow-eating 22 hours since.
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* Other than my two upper front teeth and one of the lower, all of the teeth I have left have fillings.  My dental hygiene as a child wasn't any better than any of my peers -- but I inherited teeth of problematic durability from both sides.   

† Or a band around a tooth, which I had for awhile, in an attempt to save a molar.  She applied that in a hurry, shortly before her time away, and somehow it didn't get noted on my chart.  My first checkup with the dentist who was filling (haha!) in for her, he came to that tooth and exclaimed, "A ring!  How did that get on there?"  I didn't remember; it was an 0700 appointment and I was half-awake.  "It got married?" I ventured.  He had to ponder that for a second.
 
‡ Yes, there is still some mercury in there.  Hey, I shoot, I solder electronic things; the mercury from a few fillings, it's way too late to fret over.  My dentist hasn't gone mad yet, and she not only works with the stuff every day, she's got as many fillings as I do.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dentist Today

     I've been dodging the dentist for weeks.  She wants to do fillings in a couple of teeth that aren't bothering me and I would just as soon not.

     We've reached the point where I can either get these teeth drilled and filled, or go hunting for a new dentist -- who will probably find even more work to do.   So off I will go today.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Problem, In One Headline

(With subheads)
Illegal Immigrant Kills Regional Administrator
--Victim was active in Wiccan church, ran home for winged primates
--Dorothy Gale of Kansas subject of intense manhunt; alleged to have dropped house on victim--

     See, if you don't control the medium, you don't control your message -- so it had better be as unambiguous as possible.  Sometimes, not even freeing all the Munchkins from under the ruby-slippered heel of their oppressor is enough.  (And that, if you were wondering, is one of my concerns about punching Nazis: the video people see is just some guy getting surprise-punched.  It makes him look sympathetic.  And the puncher gets into the legal system as "the accused."  Far better to be "witness for the prosecution," after the bad guy has done something aggressive, though more difficult to arrange.)

     --And you, everybody, might occasionally look down at your uniform, and around at your compatriots, and ask yourself, "Are we the bad guys?"  Commies, Nazis, Democrats, Libertarians, Republicans, independent voters, Greens, don't just drift along. Make sure of where you are and what you're doing.  They're not all the same.  Some ideas are bad ideas; some people are bad people.  Bad people often try to sell bad ideas as good ideas.  Don't play along; don't get played.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Not Today

     Not up to anything too blamed fancy this morning.  The extent to which people are willing to carry water for utterly odious ideas, groups and systems of governance that have already been tried and found to result in pain, misery and death, often directly at the hands of what passes for government, depresses me.

     Look, Churchill was right.  "Democracy" in its various forms as seen around the world today sucks; but it sucks far less for more people than any other system.  "Freedom" is messy, ugly, undisciplined; the only thing worse is government control of the press, of what you can do or say in public.  "Capitalism" is a huge mess -- people often wind up working for lousy wages, employers often end up with lousy workers, distribution of material goods is uneven and it only too easily corrupts or becomes corrupt itself -- yet it has improved the lot in life of more people, more rapidly, than any other system of economics that has been tried.

     Democracy, freedom, capitalism: all deeply imperfect.  Sloppy.  Messy.  Inelegant. But they're better than any of the alternatives, by direct and bloody experiment.

     People died finding this stuff out.  They died in droves, desperately.  They didn't volunteer to be a part of the experiment.  They died of wars and autocrats and needless shortages, they died of prejudice and superstition and because it was easier to ignore them to death.  They're still dying of it and you can read about it in the news any day of the week.

     And yet we're still having to argue -- and worse! -- with dewy-eyed idealists and cold-eyed haters about ideas that were shown to be horrible nonsense when their grandparents were in diapers.

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Basement-Dwelling Loser

     It's looking like the man being held for ramming a a car into a crowd of people in Charlottesville, VA killing one and injuring many is -- oh, surprise -- a sad-sack loser who may have lived with his Mom after washing out of Army basic training.  And it appears he was some kind of armchair Nazi, which jibes with his intended victims.

     While I'm careful to use the appropriate sort of hypothetical language -- innocence is presumed until guilt is proven in court -- there's little doubt he was the man behind the wheel.

     I'm only incidentally interested in the "thoughtcrime" aspect of his crime, since the embrace of a half-baked philosophy for losers that got slapped down hard the only time it ever managed to get much of a foothold* is, in fact, legal under the First Amendment.  You don't go plowing into a crowd of people -- or even only one person -- with an automobile, period.†

     The ability to peacefully assemble for whatever reason is an inherent right.  Not all reasons are especially nice or noble and letting it happen does not constitute approval: society doesn't operate under Robert's Rules of Order and silence should not be mistaken for consent.

     For that matter, counter-protesting shouldn't be mistaken for assault -- and vice-versa; punching someone might be sincere criticism but it is not protected speech.  But you know what even the commies didn't do?  --None of them committed vehicular mayhem and murder.

     Wave signs and shout all you like, for whatever bullshit you want to get before the public; being able to do so is a feature -- not a bug! -- of a free society.  But initiating force is a crime, initiating deadly force a particularly odious crime, especially against your fellow-citizens engaged in the free expression of their own views.

     I've noticed some of my Facebook friends being careful to condemn both sides.  Yeah well--  Most people's political views and philosophies offend me, since they generally come down to ways in which the person expressing them thinks other people ought to be pushed around for some supposed greater good.  I hate that idea.  So what?  I'm not the boss of the inside of their head, or of the crap they scribble on a placard, post on social media or shout from streetcorners.  I'm not a hall monitor, this is adult life.  You don't go beating up people who aren't a physical threat; you don't go ramming into them with a car, or shooting at them or--  That is obvious, basic stuff; there's no need to be "even-handed" about it, it's immoral; it's a crime.

     Here's to a fair and speedy trial and a quick, clean end; or at least a couple of lifetimes in prison.  There were a lot of people in Charlotteville, VA.  One of them has unequivocally demonstrated he can't be trusted around others.
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* It does amaze me to see anything past the "...But they sure had kewl tanks," level of appreciation.  Communism has the excuse of high-sounding ideals and over a century of good PR from the credulous.  But Nazism has stunk on ice from the outset, profoundly and expressly incompatible with American culture, the U. S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  It's an either/or, public libraries on one side and book-burnings on the other.
 
† This is, of course, going to prompt one of those supposedly-awkward hypotheticals about "What if it's Pol Pot, Stalin and Jack the Ripper with flamethrowers and they're running towards a group of kindergartners?"  Tellya what, when that happens, you can call me up collect and I'll advise you. Until then, please don't go wandering around without a minder, since you plainly have trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Donald Vs. Mr. Top Nork

     It was days ago now, and the newsies and comedians -- but I repeat myself -- are still all over it: the prospect of "...thermonuclear war.  Toe-to-toe with the Russkis North Korea..."

     Yeah, "This is it, boys."  Maybe.  North Korea screams threats, POTUS blusters back -- and suddenly, he's the bad guy.  Or perhaps just a Nixionian pseudo-madman, inadvertently or not.

     The thing is, for all his flaws, what better sort of background than President Trump's ought a fellow to have in order to understand the mind of a pampered, overfed autocrat with demonstrably bad taste?  This may be the one thing about which he is outstandingly a subject matter expert -- but don't expect him to get any credit for it.

     It's another "crisis" the world will muddle though, probably with far more ink, paper and whizzing electrons than any splash of nuclear fire.  Kim Jong-un's military is remarkable for poor marksmanship and the DPRK is unlikely to be able to bluff their way out of a live-fire miss as a "warning shot."  Therefore, I don't expect them to shoot at all.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Missing The Point

     A recent New Yorker online cartoon -- quite longform for them -- suggests that since our civilization is doomed (presumably by some combination of President Trump and global warming), we ought to leave not merely time capsules, but deliberately confusing ones, for Reasons.

     But that's all we can leave; it's all our forebears have left us, and what we make of them is, at best, a guess.  We're often wrong.  The fine details of people's lives are generally lost or at best distorted.

     We will leave puzzles.  This is brilliantly spoofed in David Macaulay's Motel of the Mysteries but it's a fact.  There's no need to work at it.