Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Ow, Dammit, Ow

     Some time last week, Tuesday or Wednesday, I "bit" down on a granola-type bar with the toothless gum where my upper left back teeth would be, if I had any.

     That's the approximate place where, almost twenty years ago, a tooth root punched all the way through the bone and not quite into my sinus cavity, setting off years of pain, tooth loss and dental/medical maladventure.  Despite rather a lot of well-intentioned surgical intervention, the bone underneath my gum tissue there is rough and sharp, and when you apply pressure--

     Well, it's a problem.  It tears up the gum tissue from the inside out and that seems to be what has happened now.  It hurts a lot.  I take OTC pain meds but it hasn't stopped hurting; in fact, the tissue in that area is swollen and tender and there's a nasty little spot at the center of the scar that feels like it's a sore.  From past experience, I don't think there's anything much to be done except apply "the tincture of time" and try not to be too uncomfortable, but it sure does hurt.  It sets off the whole ears ringing, ears hurting, eye hurting migraine-like mess and I find myself moving kind of slowly and carefully.hoping to keep it all down to a dull roar.

     There's an engineering conference to get to this morning starting plenty early and miles away from my dentist's, or I'd go bother her.  As it is, I'll hazard a phone call about their opening time today.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Two Sunsets And A Yellow Beauty

     We get some good sunsets in Indiana and this time of year can reward the prepared:

    Same day, a little later:

     Every once in a great while, I have lunch at the former Stutz factory, home to an assortment of business and artists theses days, and one nice eatery (with a bar and a kind of 1920s/30s lunchroom ambiance) called Bearcats.  The building contains many classic cars -- Stutz products and others on display in the corridors and, if you know the right shortcuts, the interesting vehicles driven by tenants and owners:

     Do want!

Sunday, October 04, 2015

HAARP: It's A Student Project Now

     Uncle Sam's .mil had been semi-quietly scuttling HAARP -- causing earthquakes, controlling the weather and susceptible minds either being too much work, or at least not enough of an edge to sway a Senate subcommittee -- when University of Alaska Fairbanks, who'd already built the site's fluxgate magnetometer, admitted they'd like to give it a go.  UAF bein' a big old space-grant university,* they were able to swing some funds for locomotive fuel† and snowplowing, and there it is: HAARP's now a student-staffed project.  And it's back in the transmitting business, or preparing to be.

     So don't you come cryin' to me when Indiana soybeans and Ukraine wheat come up paisley, okay?  And for pete's sake, don't get crosswise of UAF. 
* No, really.

† Still, really.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

0400 And Screaming

     Well, quietly screaming, anyway.  Or not that quietly --  loud enough Tam came to my door asking, in fact.  My phone alarm, for some misbegotten reason, went off at 0400 and when I rolled over and reached for the alarm clock to shut it off (I don't always wake up as the keenest fork in the spoon drawer), then corrected mid-roll to grope for the phone, my right calf knotted up.  Very badly.

     It was at that point that the aformentioned cries of pain occurred, subsiding rapidly to mild swearing interspersed with whimpers and my admission to Tamara, "It's a damn calf cramp.  Ow."

     "You know you can massage those out, right?"

     I tried to sit up to reach my calf.  This set off another, smaller knot. "Maybe not this one."  I scrunched around until I could reach it.  "Aha.  Okay."  I kneaded at the knot.  Tam wandered off, presumably back to Slumberland, and I managed to get the pain down to a dull roar and nodded off for an hour.

     Woke back up hurting a little after five, limped around at morning ablutions, fed the cats and committed a little basic cookery (eggs fried in a holes punched in two slices of rye bread, using Worcestershire sauce butter, plus a little of this and that from the spice cabinet on the eggs -- try it, you might like it), woke up Herself at the appointed hour (she has a Thing to get to, early-early) and here I am, still hurting and limping.  But hey, I am here.

Friday, October 02, 2015

"Looky Here, In The Porlock Observer...."

     Tam and I get along well, but there are days when we take turns being one another's person from Porlock.  Other days, it's the calendar's turn -- this morning during breakfast, I was pondering a fairly light-hearted story from Alaska (for paranoid-theorist values of "light-hearted") as a launching-point for a blog post while Tam watched the news, when she suddenly realized it was trash day and very near the time the trucks start.*  Mad dash ensued, and now I'm back to breakfast.

     Meanwhile, the news drones on with photos, full name and half-informed speculation about the college shooter in Oregon, press and politicians blithely, blissfully unaware that the more attention they heap on pathetic losers who harm easy victims, the more of them there will be.  They're rewarding the behavior and continuing to fail to harden the target.  Yeah, keep on blaming me and people like me instead -- who'm I after all, who are we all but powerless worker bees in the vast, dull middle of the country who own guns and use them responsibly, not very photogenic, easy to blame, easy to push around.  By the time I retire, we'll probably be accused of poisoning wells and stealing babies.  Accused by persons from Porlock and by their Great Leaders, and taken out with the trash.
* The sadists who run trash pickup vary their starting locations from time to time, which changes their pickup time.  Our truck is usually by about 9:00 a.m. but is occasionally as late as 11:00 or as early as 7:00.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

So, Of Course

     This afternoon in Oregon, some nitwit feeling disempowered or some damn stupid thing decided to punch back -- at random (or nearly random) strangers, who undoubtedly wished him no ill.

     Hey, dammit, I'm real sorry most people don't notice you, but the fact is, most people don't notice very many others, not in any deeply meaningful way and that is how it works and always has.

     People were killed, people were hurt and that is just plain wrong, period.  It shouldn't happen.  The shooter is dead -- much too late.

     Naturally the President got on TV to chide the American public and (indirectly, oh, how softly, softly) the NRA.  He somehow did not chide the mental health provisions Affordable Care Act, the friends and neighbors of the shooter, or college policies that ensured no law-abiding person was going to be able to shoot back.  Nor did he mention, let alone condemn, the possible four ch@n* connection.  I'd say, "Funny, that," except it's not.

     As if to demonstrate how deeply he doesn't get it, the President mentioned the nearly 1:1 correspondence between the number of guns known to be in private hands in the U.S. and the population, and then praised gun-seizure efforts in the United Kingdom and Australia as admirable models, countries with smaller population and an enormously smaller number of privately-owned guns per capita.  Politics, feeling and personal opinion aside, it's not practical to grab 'em all, even if there was no resistance, avoidance and political pushback, all of which there most definitely would be.

     There's a political fight ahead and it's not going to be pretty.  Meanwhile, the UK is "enjoying" a rising tide of crime, most of it not committed with guns (which must be a real comfort to those beaten to death, or half to death for that matter), while public safety officials and politicians are trying to get people to turn in their knives.  Learn to shoot back, or make yourself an even more attractive target?  It's decision time.
* Some things, you don't spell right.  Ever.  I was really hoping this might be a case of Sudden Jihadi Syndrome but present and very preliminary indications are it's another instance of Spoiled Beta Male.  Makes me want to puke.  Little weasels are just the mirror-image of metrosexuals, only without the grooming or brittle Peter Pan charm.

Forget Irony, This Is Lousy

     This city's one hundredth murder was committed yesterday on Centennial St.

     If the present rate continues, Indianapolis will meet or exceed last year's total of 137 murders.  Eleven a month, plus.  In comparison, the towns in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery or Le Guin's The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas don't seem to be getting such a bad deal.

     Wrong.  --There are significant differences, and not merely the worse odds of a one-in-three hundred chance Jackson's townsfolk get.  In both of those stories, everyone's complicit, even those who, in the LeGuin, leave, having done nothing.

     Real life isn't fiction; Indianapolis has a whole array of people doing something, from police trying to solve crimes (and possibly, every so often, catch trouble before it escalates to felony) to the preacher camping out in a hard-hit neighborhood.  A stunt?  Sure; but it gets attention on the problem.  It's better than doing nothing.

     If it were all bad guy-on-bad guy crime (it's not; robberies gone worse, stray shots and mistaken targets account for no few deaths), that might not be so awful -- except bad guys have families, too, families that are bent by the crime.  When killing someone is a legitimate -- or at least very possible -- way to resolve problems other than an imminent threat, don't be surprised when it spreads from generation to generation, brother to brother to friend.  And when the law creates underground markets, don't be surprised to find them run by the lawless.

     There's a theory that police exist not so much to protect society* directly as to protect criminals (including the merely suspected) from the rough justice that they would otherwise face from their fellow-citizens, and thereby protect society from its worst impulses.  It is nowhere more obvious than in those transactional spaces outside the law and the remedies sought by involved parties when goals conflict or deals go bad.  Those "remedies" tend to spill over; the blood gets tracked widely.  Ten dead a month -- how many of the criminal victims who comprise the majority would have "had it coming" in the justice system? 
* They're not there to protect you personally -- ask the Supreme Court! Oh, they may do so in the normal course of their duties, but they are not obliged to.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Another Morning

     I was a little down last night.  Feeling kind of trapped -- I want to write more, but I'm coming home from work just exhausted. 

     Clearly, I need to take more vitamin B or something.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Poached Eggs Plus!

     Week before last, I bought a couple of clever egg poachers made of silicone rubber at Agrarian.  (Like this, though better via the "Stuff you need" link at Tam's)

     They work like nobody's business when it comes to poaching eggs -- and even better at one of my favorite tricks: take thin slice of ham, salami or the like and line the poaching cup with it (sometimes you have to make some radial cuts in the meat), then break an egg into it.  This morning I tried it with some paper-thin Jamon Serrano, Spanish "mountain-cured ham," which is a rare and wonderful treat.  I put a little Colby Jack on the eggs in the last couple of minutes and the combination was remarkably tasty.

     The result looks fancy, too, despite being about as close to zero-effort as cooking gets.  The eggs pop right out of the poachers; a quick swipe of paper towel and the poachers are ready for the dishwasher.

      Relatedly: sliced brioche looks like bread but is tricky to toast.  It's so rich it tends to burn.  Worth the effort, though.  This is the stuff Marie Antoinette was talking about when she said, of peasants rioting over the lack of bread, "...then let them eat cake."  Pretty sure they would'a if they could, Queenie.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Saturday, Shootyday

     I took my H&R Model 999 to the range at Indy Arms Company, with the just-installed new rear sight the Data Viking had located on eBay, and shot a scary ghost face in the target at 21 feet:

     This is about a hundred rounds of .22, and "dialing in" the sights consisted of me working out if they were set for point of aim atop the front sight or covered by it.  I set the rear sight at home by lining it up with the barrel.  I don't know about long guns, but if your pistol sights aren't lined up with the point of impact when centered on the barrel or slide, it may be time to reevaluate your shooting technique; the manufacturers do go to great lengths to align the bore with the gun.

     Here's what I brung:

     L-R, Sistema Colt, H&R 999, Astra "Constable" (thank you, MK!) and an Iver Johnson TP-22. (On the latter two, "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to use a .22 clone.")  Alas, the little Iver Johnson wasn't happy, but the rest of them ran fine.  My .45 ACP shooting is not so good, with six or seven rounds in the 9-ring at 21 feet.  The gun does hammer-bite a little and that's not helping -- I don't want to put a modern beavertail on this nice old gun, so it is what it is.

"Shut This Off. Shut All Of These Off."

     Ever notice that when there is a "government shutdown" in the United States, Congress and the Internal Revenue Service appear to be exempt? And somehow there's always plenty of money to pay the people who fence off the various monuments and memorials, and padlock the National Parks....

Sunday, September 27, 2015

No Good Deed Goes Unthreatened?

     Indianapolis has a violence problem.  Oh, Chicago has a murder rate well ahead of ours, but the city's record is far from admirable; about the best you can say is that the past couple of years have not been worse than the previous worst year.

     Most of the killing seems to be drug/gang related; true in the 1920s, still true today, and for much the same reason, laws that create a lucrative underground market.*  A few years ago, group of local ministers and concerned citizens decided to step up and do something by forming the Ten Point Coalition.  Both proactive and reactive, Ten Point members patrol high-profile events like the Indiana Black Expo/Summer Celebration and this weekend's Circle City Classic and show up at crime scenes, talking with young people, trying to head off trouble before it starts and generally being visible and involved.  I don't know how you'd measure results, but violence at public events does seem to be down since they started making their rounds.  At least they're trying something.

     It may have some bad guys bothered, though the evidence is far from reassuring: Friday night, Coalition members showed up at a murder scene IMPD was working and were threatened by some angry young men.  It appears to have been a credible threat, not idle talk.

     ...And Saturday, Ten Point Coalition members, in their distinctive bright-yellow safety vests bearing the group's name, were walking among the crowds downtown for the Circle City Classic.  Undaunted.

     I rail about "do-gooders" from time to time but I make an exception for people who contribute sweat equity, who put that hands and backs where their words are.  The Ten Point Coalition has way more of that than most groups.  I suspect we'd disagree on many fine points of religion and politics but I agree with them on the general goal of making this city a better place.

     Want to do good?  Then be good.  Even in the face of threats.
* Don't like the killing?  Then don't buy drugs.  Not even pot.  Sheesh, you can take a bus to states where that stuff is as legal as church on the Sabbath if you choose to indulge.  Yes, I'm an anarcho-capitalist and I think whatever you wanna put in your body is your choice, but actions do have consequences.  When you do business with criminals, you're underwriting their crimes, malum in se as well as malum prohibitum.  Moral behavior requires a road trip, gardening skills and/or home chemistry.†
     † As a chronic pain sufferer, let me remind readers that spinning a really convincing tale of woe to an M.D. does not count as moral behavior, and just makes it more difficult for people who actually need painkillers to get them.