Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Nurse Dilemma and Parenthood

At the family Thanksgiving (last weekend, thanks to the many family members in jobs that don't shut down for holidays), one of my nieces, a NICU nurse on track to become a Nurse-Practitioner, was talking about health care and other topics. (NICU, neonatal intensive care, "preemie" babies, babies born with other severe problems, heartbreak kids, all; hospital stays are long and survival rates are not high -- but most of those those babies had slim chances to none at all thirty years ago)

"We need universal health care," she said, "Like all the other civilized countries."
I made polite noises and lifted an eyebrow quizzically; I don't enjoy arguments. I did point out that government health care doesn't work so very well, to which she responded, "They pay a set amount per procedure, no matter the outcome! And they keep reducing the things they do cover."

She noticed the implied contradiction; she's no fool.

In further conversation, it came out that it tears her up to not be able to help; to send kids back to homes without power, without proper care, without parents who can or will do what it takes to care for them.

The easy, bumper-sticker libertarian question is, how much of my tax money do you want to mitigate your angst? Yeah, simple, neat, isn't it. I'm not asking it.

Here's a more difficult question: neo-natal nursing is high-stress work. The pay's decent money but they're not getting rich. What they are doing is working through tears, working with gut-churning emotional conflict, keeping little vegetables alive while Mums and Daddy dither, putting in endless hours with babies who will make it but whose parents never show up until the day the baby is sent home. They try to save the baby the rich teen-ager gave birth to on the toilet and left there, the baby whose new grandmother, on calling 911 and being told what to do, replied, "I'm not reaching in there after that." They work with utter-jerk surgeons, nasty cold men people hate, unfeeling guys who, on hearing the baby they worked on for eight hours has died after a struggle, drive in from an hour away, walk right to the NICU, tenderly lift the tiny corpse from the nurse's arms, look down and say softly, "We tried, buddy, we tried," hand the baby back and stride savagely out of the hospital, never making eye contact with another human being.

So the question is: what's it worth to keep these people from burning out?

I don't have an answer.

Maybe we're better off leaving the decision to bean-counters -- just as long as we don't run out of nurses who'll take on the job.

One thing we'd better do is get better at prevention. A significant proportion of the babies that end up in NICUs are born to drug-addicted mothers, to mothers who were malnourished, to teenagers who denied and hid their pregnancy. There's no law that'll stop that, no government program that can fix it but it can be slowed, one mother at a time. To the extent any of us can personally lend a hand to help on an individual basis, we should. And for pity's sake, we've got to try to change the trend of people seeing children, their own children, as an inconvenience.

Margaret Sanger, a figure both admired and loathed (and with good reason for both opinions), often stated her goal as trying to "ensure every child was a wanted child." So put, it's a good goal and one that can be just as easily done by helping (even glorifying) parents as by preventing pregnancies or worse yet, terminating them; and since all three are options available in a free society, there's probably at least one of them you can lend a hand to. (Not to pile yet another soapbox on the heap but it usually does more good and more directly affects individuals in a positive way to work for a positive goal. It's a lot easier to get people to try a new thing than to stop them doing something they're already doing).

Politics can be fun but bumper-sticker politics is full of pitfalls. There's no digging out of most of them from an ivory tower or even a blog; if we want a better, more free society, if we hope to roll back the growth of Mommy/Daddy Government, it's up to us to roll up our sleeves, pick up a shovel and use it to dig a path out rather than slinging mud. Sure, you're just one person; maybe you'll only ever be able to help one other person. But you'll have made that much change.

Wave signs, get on the evening news -- or help a scared and lonely girl? Which one will you look back on with the most pride?

Which one will help keep nurses -- nurses whose help we may someday need for our own families -- from burning out?

Which one will do the most to slow the demand for socialized medical care?

[It seems I have been a bit unclear. I'm not talking about "charity," I'm talking about doing what you can, within your own ethical framework, to push the younger critters within your easy reach a bit closer towards civilized behavior anent reproduction. This is rife with self-interest: if we end up with a huge bunch of barbarians and their preventably-hard-started offspring, it's going to make our "golden years" a lot less nice than they'd otherwise be and in a huge number of ways. Among other considerations, I'd as soon not be having to shoot the worst of them on a weekly basis when I'm greyhaired and rocking on the porch. Hollowpoints are expensive! YMMV.]

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Result Of Our Efforts

...Cos it's not just me down t'the Skunk Works, you know; there's a whole bunch of us and we were all happily diligent geeks today. Once we were (nearly) done, we moved the MC boys out of the improvised control-room in a coat closet they've been in for about a month while still doing the things that keep my paycheck from bouncing, and into the result of all our efforts, this serene splendor:

Pretty cool, hey? Of course, my view of most of it was under that console (sans operator, thankyouverymuch), badly lit by glaring worklights, stuck to the carpet-tile glue, fishing around in the computer floor and wiring up various and sundy things. There are times when being the most limber and agile of the techies is not exactly beer and Skittles (nasty-sounding combination, IMO). I'd put up a photograph of that part of the work but A) it's ugly even once it's all neat and tidy and B) the man there is running a TV station or three; it is considered rude to joggle his elbow.

It will be even kewler once it's finished; there's another row of displays below the big three in the background, plus some more flashy lights'n'stuff. A lot of it even has a function, too!

Face it: I work aboard a starship! Or about as close as I'm likely to get this time around, anyway. "Phasers on 'irk mildly' and full warp ahead!"

Monday, November 26, 2007

'm Busy

Things have het up at the Skunk Works yet again. But so you won't get bored in the next 20-some hours, here's a treat: the marvels of Engrish!

If this is your sort of thing, you'll find it addictive. Remember, read a little at a time and be sure to stop to catch your breath.

...And if you start to get a bit puffed up, know this: the host is a linguist and he has links to sites that track equally silly misuses on the other side of the looking glass!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Speaking of Uncles

Or perhaps foster fathers, I've just heard Lazarus Long Robert A. Heinlein speak. And so can you, if you'll follow the link. He sounds even more like his characters than I expected!

(Thanks to Matt G, who posted a link to the website when writing about a recent, wonderful essay by Marko. I didn't link to Marko's article at the time, thinking my readers would have already found it, but if you haven't, you should).

Books, Reality

I've been re-reading Dean Ing's Systemic Shock, which I think is one of the better modern after-the-Bomb novels, though a little dated now. (It's followed by at least two sequels, "Single Combat" and "Wild Country" and he may have used the same background in one or two more novels). Ing's not to everyone's taste; while his characters are well-rounded, he's more gadget-happy than many readers can follow. For me, it's warm and friendly; I come from a long line of gadgeteers and reading Ing is like listening to a favorite Uncle. In Systemic Shock, the essential premise is a limited nuke-and-biological exchange between the West (US and Russia, et al) and a loose alliance of Red China, India and the oil-producing Islamic nations. (I'll probably read the entire trilogy. His hero reminds me of a boy I had a terrible crush on, when I was about that age).

With that novel as a backdrop, I stopped by Carteach0's other blog this morning to find this news item.

I'm reminded Mr. Ing has written a how-to book, as well: The Chernobyl Syndrome It's a survival handbook. Despite the title, he covers everything from camping to child-rearing; but it's the sections on dealing with fallout, improvising air filters and pumps, and similar topics that I'll be reading again. If you don't have a copy of this book, take a look at the reviews and consider adding it to your library

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Everyone Else Did It!

(Go, Lemming, Go?)*
What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for worked on the air in TV and radio.

The South
The West
The Inland North
The Northeast
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

* Though the lemmings really didn't.

Pink Guns

They bother me.

Despite my geekery and arts'n'craftiness -- yes, I do own a table saw and a brace of routers -- I'm plenty girly, floral bedspread strewn with sleeping housecats and plush-toy animals* and so-almost-stereotypically on. But I've always been bothered by pink guns.

Maybe it was the Barbie-bubblegum-pink polymer full-sized EAA Witness that showed up at a local gunshow, looking like a steer in a tutu; it was pretty jarring to encounter without warning! Too, it's always seemed to me that a self-defense tool should be obviously what it is, if it is to have any deterrent effect. I'm all for shootin' the bad guys (don't bother to draw unless you are intending to do so) but life's simpler if they up and run.

Tam has her own take on the topic. Incisive as ever and obvious only after she's pointed it out.

Oleg Volk sums it up, neatly.
* Per the Data Viking: "At Customs, calling them 'stuffed animals' leads to an interesting conversation." I keep havin' a mental image of J. Random Guy being pulled out of the line after so doing; his bags are opened and a big violet teddy bear falls out. "And just where," asks the aggrieved servant-of-the-people, "did you shoot that?" Betting there are no extra points awarded if you answer by pointing at the creature's plush-toy's center of mass.

Everything's Up To Date In Noo Yawk City?

I don't want to imply that gleaming Gotham, Capital Of The World and a major source of disarmed victims (TM) is a nightmare of bureaucratic obstructionism and grandfathered-in inefficiency, but according to 'Murrica's Paper Of Record, it was only last week they turned off the last DC electric service! (Be sure to scroll down the Comments for amusing speculation on whale-oil vendors and Elevator Operators College).

Yes: the Edison system of power delivery lived on in NYC right into the 21st Century; this is the system that was so flawed that Westinghouse and Tesla had it pretty well spanked before the 20th Cent. got parked!

"New York, New York, it's a town of a hell/The juice is wrong and there's quite a strong smell...."

Friday, November 23, 2007

Heller, Amicus, Academics for the Second Amendment

Several gunbloggers have been asking what they can do to help as District of Columbia v. Heller goes before the Supremes, since the attorney on our side isn't accepting donations. One of my friends pointed me to these guys and lacking any negative information, they look like the real deal. Check 'em out and make up your own mind, but if you're itchin' to help, they're asking for scratch.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I Can Has Inevitability...

The Bible translated into lolcat

Look, if you're using this version, please don't tell me.

Offering Thanks

Sure, it's trite. And everyone does it.

They all breathe, too. Should you stop 'cos of that?

I am actually, as happens, thankful; and I am thankful to find myself feeling that way, as I passed many years waking up every morning and thinking, "Oh, rats, I woke up again." Now I wake and think, "Goldfish, ten cent piece, let's go!"*

This morning, I woke to purring, looked over and there were my two cats, father and daughter, aged 18 and 17, curled up on the pillow next to mine, happy as can be. I'm thankful they're still here and still happy.

I'm thankful for friends old and new, for the ones I know in real life, the ones I know online and the ones I've met only through their books. Data Viking, Tam, Robert H., Turk, C. Jay, Handsome Dave, Todd the Believer, The Shaggy Guy (ha! Thought I wouldn't put the Latin and your photo together, dija, C?), Breda, D. Martyn, that Kim dude, Jeff, Jeff, the purple-haired folksinger, Carter of M.A.R.S, Hal West, Bob and Matt and everyone listed over there in the blogroll, Spider, Jax/Julie and all the rest of you, including the Canadian Critic: I'm glad we met. I like hearing/reading what you've got to say.

For what's left of my family and the support we give one another, I am thankful. We've reached the age where new faces outnumber the old ones, more so with every year; and yet in the new are the echoes of those who went before, a better memorial than any stone.

I'm thankful for my work. It's frustrating, sometimes scary and we operate under immense pressure. Wouldn't trade it for the world.

I'm thankful to have been born in a country where the citizens are deeply skeptical of their government and have considerable power to affect it. I hope to do what I can to keep that trend going. --Yes, the States have problems; but we're a seething pool of solutions, too, and have the liberty to try 'em out.

Mostly, I'm thankful to still be here. We all live in a very thin region of a very small planet in a very large universe. Our lives are less likely than starlight, as fragile as soap bubbles, tiny. Yet every day, we go out there and push back at entropy; every day, we seek our joy. We've done right well for ambitious pond scum or Divinely-sparked clay; we've done right well.

Pondering the enormousness of the Universe, I'm thankful -- I'm filled with wonder! -- that I'm pondering at all. That there's any me or you to be a-pondering.

It is full of stars.

* You got that, right? Carp. Dime. Unh.... Oh, Pete's sake. Yes, it's that weak.

Dialtone Brain/My Christmas List

...Tam, like, adds me to her Wonderful List of Links, and suddenly traffic doubles triples (whooo, I should'a dusted! No, hon, don't eat that, I think it's an old cat-toy....). And there's something akin to dialtone in my head if I think about it too much.

'Cos see, geekgrrls didn't used to be kewl. Now we are! Yayyyy!

Debating posting my semi-facetous holiday giftage list, both for me an' others. For sure at the top of mine is an affordable motorcycle of medium size, something in the conventional to cruiser range of styles, as I'm a traditional gal. But so far one has not fallen out of the trees, drippin' with chromium plating. This may indicate an atomic-powered airship is right out of the question at any price. And havin' the Republicans run an actual Republican for the '08 Leader Of The Free World Contest...? Santa? Santa, please don't cry!

May have to get back to y'all on this.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

King, 1; Commie Autocrat, 0; People, hugely more!

The original incident was good but I'm liking the spin-off even more!

Why is it commies have no manners? And why (oh, thank you, whatever $DEITY decided this) do they get so steamed when you laugh at them?

Welcome to the future, chubby!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Naming Sidearms

Marko's got a nice article posted on the naming of weapons. (And links to yet another, carefully-reasoned article). I see his point. I even agree, mostly; but I can also see the romantic who, intoxicated by Arthurian tales of chivalry and derrring-do, just can't not name his personal means of defending of All That Is Good. We need practical men (in droves!) but we need some starry-eyed dreamers, too.

Me, I'm pragmatic but there's something awry with my humor. I don't name guns. Nope, nohow, never.

Well, hardly ever. I did name one.

It's a Ballester-Molina. The Argentine who owned it appears to have used it to pound tent stakes in rocky soil. In the rain. Nicely balanced and the local gunsmith did his best but it's still a little bit of a jammomatic except with the one magazine it trusts. It's been ill-used.

It's named "Tatiana."


So the Data Viking (my best guy friend from High School, who I had not seen in decades until our class reunion last summer; a splendid fellow, who reads SF and sneers at adversity) was wanting to see a touring collection of Roman art at IMA. Sunday, he dropped by from his far-off home, ten-ish, and off we went.

The Viking had mentioned it but I'd breezed past: the museum grounds open early but the museum itself doesn't wake until noon! He likes the grounds and extensive gardens (so do I!) and had planned a nice stroll.

There's a reason for the 'nym I've given him: he's blond, sturdy, innovative, cheerfully bloody-minded and built to conserve heat. I'm not a Viking. I am, oh how difficult to admit, vain: I'd worn a light hoody instead of a bulky coat. It was chilly. (And yes, DV's supremely good at crafting software that sits up and begs, or making other people's software do so, or making it play nice with hardware -- scary hardware, in some instances Reardon-scary if'n y'know what I'm Shruggin' at. That's the "Data" part).

...But clever people are prepared: "I've an Army jacket in my trunk," quoth he, "it'll fit you about twice!". So we spent 90 minutes, me warm as warm, finding the old interurban path through the grounds (impressive river-rock walls and a fine Late-Victorian iron bridge above it), admiring huge elephant-trees, fountains, bravely green and still-growing plants of vast variety, fatly insolent squirrels, the original well house along the canal, vistas from the back terrace of Oldfields and then back up to the old gates leading to the recently envastened Museum Of Art.

Art they've got and in profusion, free for the looking; but the Roman art on loan from the Louvre takes intensive looking-after and costs to see. Someone's got to pay the guards and guides, and it's the people who want to see the stuff who do so. Isn't that how it's supposed to work?

What a sight it is! I'd never been so close to original mosaic floors, the tesserae still vibrant after centuries; looking so new and polished that guards kept having to remind patrons not to touch, please, as all that comes between you and the elevated, angled, cleverly-indicated scenes is your own good sense, which some appeared to have left at home. You may look as closely as you like and I did. Television and photographs don't do justice.

Even more amazing were the statues. As close as you'd stand at a bus stop, they're real: muscles, veins and tendons under the skin, knucklebones of a hand seemingly frozen in mid-movement, the texture of the marble imitating skin and a toga's cloth. I had no real idea of the skill of this work from textbook photographs. Imagine the effect on a late Middle Ages/Early Renaissance artist, seeing work of such quality, as surviving Roman work began to be more closely examined and sought out! It is stunning, with the impact of color television or moving pictures.
With the statuary right out among the audience, it is possible to look the Emperors in the eye and an education to do so. --Augustus looks worried in every depiction, a decent-seeming man deeply bothered by his responsibilities. Caligula, charming at first sight head-on, grows cunning and dissolute as you walk around to see his face in profile. And young Nero is as self-satisfied a little snot as can be imagined! --Most of the Julio-Claudians are a weak-chinned lot, the stamp of idle wealth cruel in their expressions. These were supposed to be flattering portrayals, too. Another bust caught my eye from a distance and I walked towards it, a young man in Egyptian headdress, movie-star handsome, really-seriously handsome, lunchy, just almost too -- Oh. Well of course. Patly of course: Antinous. Hadrian's boyfriend.

The exhibit included sections of trompe-l'œil wall decoration. Photos of this work often look crude and garish. In person, it's another matter. The technique is similar to Impressionism: up close, fuzzy; from six feet away, it looks real as your perception fills in the detail and sharpens the lines.

This exhibit was particularly enjoyable to see with the Data Viking. His eye catches what mine misses, he knows things I've not encountered and is happy to share them. Many men are a bit shy of Art; he's a confident fellow who grasps that knowledge always beats ignorance.

While the touring exhibit is not especially large, it is overwhelming nevertheless. I do not think I had really grasped the height of Rome's achievements until seeing these things with my own eyes. VR, books, visual media, they're good for many things but there's a level of understanding that, at least so far, one only manages though experience in real life.

Sometimes you do have to be there.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Need t'work on those social skills. When's that gunblogger gathering in Louisville?

The Rogers Indicator of Multiple Intelligences
created with
You scored as Verbal/Linguistic

You have highly developed auditory skills, enjoy reading and writing and telling stories, and are good at getting your point across. You learn best by saying and hearing words. People like you include poets, authors, speakers, attorneys, politicians, lecturers and teachers.















Go Have A Look, Then Come Back For The Rant

...Have a look at Blognomicon's response to an especially yammerheaded statement from a willing victim who wants everyone else to be just like him: Force.
Credit for this link to the clever and readable Sister of the Gun Squeaky Wheel, via the handsome and charming D. Martyn Lloyd-Morgan . You do read 'em, don't you?

The Rant:
A little something Squeaky and D. Martyn get, Ladd Everitt does not, something which happens to be one of my main ideals, is that while it is perfectly okay* to hold whatever nitwit notion one cares to, it is not okay to require that others share it.

I preach rather less than many libby gunbloggers; it's not that I don't want to, but on the way to the keyboard, my attention is taken by something shiny an' motorized on two wheels, or a nice plate of fried 'taters, mushrooms, scrambled eggs and bacon with fresh hot coffee and pastries from Rene's on the side,** and I blog about that instead; or a Farnsworth Fusor goes a bit wonky at the Skunk Works and I craft some vaguely-worded commentary on it; or some other wonder happens by and either way, a nice sermon on freedom of conscience or whatever is left by the wayside. There are, after all, plenty of freedom bloggers who will say it better.

But get this: I'm not out to convert nor am I here to utter platitudes everyone will agree with and feel reassured in our shared beliefs; I'm here to tell you it is a very large world indeed, one in which plenty of people find plenty of workable ways to accomplish their peaceable goals in a peaceable manner and every single one of them is okay as long as they're not messin' with you. It's very easy to see evil in things that are really no more than a matter of taste. Now, some people have very good taste and others favor the tacky, and the latter is indeed unfortunate; but the lighted, inflatable, unnaturally-neon-orange pumpkin in their front yard does me no harm at all. I may mock it -- indeed, I just have -- but I'm not going to insist it be taken down as a menace to all that is good and holy.

Try to identify the reality of things; try to see what matters and what is simply decoration. It can be difficult to do. I struggle with it. The noise-to-signal ratio of a free and creative culture is very high! But that's a healthy thing.

Yammerheads who insist we should all be disarmed "for the common good?" Not healthy at all. Yammerheads who disarm themselves? That's their worry!
* Possibly counter-survival but as long as you're not hauling along the unwilling, bye-bye! Bon vo-ah-geey!
** Today's brunch! Hot American coffee properly made, country bacon with black pepper, cajun seasoning on the potatoes and portabellas as they fried, fresh brown eggs from the Organo-Mart scrambled, diced Swiss cheese and Cholula hot sauce to top the finished creation, V8 on the side; dessert was a fresh orange-hazelnut pinwheel from the best and tinest bakery in town. It'll either wake you up or do you in.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Work, Work, Work

Good progress at the Skunk Works, for a wonder. We have turned the corner on unmitigated disaster and are into the creative destruction phase, which is always fun.

Best quote of the day was from my peer C. Jay, sitting on the floor, tangled in wires, having just dumped his refreshing beverage: "My pants are soaked with coffee and I'm still optimistic!"

Yes, it was that kind of day.

To give a rough idea of what we're juggling at the Works, imagine we have jury-rigged a small research reactor and are now cleaning out the old one it replaced, preparatory to final installation of the new one; the physical risk is not so high but the financial risk is huge and so's the complexity of the task.

Came home and fell asleep watching a Firefly episode, "Out Of Gas." It's a brilliant example of non-linear storytelling, one of the best episodes of one of the best science-fiction series ever put on the tube. (It was cancelled by a short-sighted philistine, of course). My thanks to Bob G for reminding me that I'm still and always a Browncoat.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mood Escalator

The one marked "up!"

Today, the Skunk Working was a glaze of unavailing effort, simply trying to get back to the level of functionality we had prior to the latest round of "improvements." As ever, much as I might like to detail every little bit of the joy and de-light, that would be tellin'.

Plus, this morning my cats were having some elderly-cat issues of a frustrating sort. I was late to work from dealing with said issues, not a clever plan in light of the above. And I worked over the preceding evening with a transmitter problem.

Yeah. Oh Woe Is Me: I slept warm and had an adequate breakfast and lunch. Still, I was in a rotten little mood most of the day.

Got home, looked at the scooter, realized I need to pick up groceries anyway; did my chores, then geared up* and just about froze my wrists -- I need better cold-weather gloves! -- getting up to the Organo-Mart where I picked up Purina Girl Chow, a/k/a salad-in-a-bag plus some goodies to add to it. By the time I got back home, I was smiling.

It's tiny, not very fast and a bit of a challenge to operate, an old-fashioned 150 cc Vespa clone with a slightly clunky manual transmission but it's a joy machine nevertheless. Adding a windscreen so I could ride in colder weather was the best mod I've ever made to a vehicle!
* My cold-weather jacket looks like a prop from a bad Sci-Fi movie, "The Last Star Fidgiter" or maybe "Galaxy Kogyaru." I love it! Add the fringed leather chaps, black gloves with faux lepoard-fur trim and jump boots and all I need is a space ship. one?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Change Seasons, Change Guns

It's just about bundling-up weather, which means my dear little .380 (Colt Pony Pocketlite, one of the best guns I ever paid too much for) probably should be set to pasture in favor of a pocket gun with more oomph.

The question is, which one? I have a slim 9mm (8 rounds) and a nifty .45 (6 rounds), both classics and lightweight, the model BKM and PD, respectively, made by Star. Not modern super-duper wondergunz, but it's not like they get tons of use; I can't carry to work (it's considered rude by the owners) and I try to avoid gunfights anyway.

My preference varies -- having 2 more rounds of loud noise and muzzle flash is a good thing. On the other hand, a .45 makes really impressive "eye contact." On the other other hand, I tend to shoot better with a 9mm.

(And I didn't say "stopping power" even once! Oh, ooops.)

Don't have to decide right now. Looks like a warmish week.

Upcomin' Eeeeee-Vents

My dear search 'bots -- and you three self-aware protoplasms, too -- I feel a whine in the air, a temptation to which I shall not yield; feel free to imagine the vastness of the bathos you are thereby spared.

Instead, I'll mention some notions I've been kicking around, ideas that have yet to jell but show evidence of sufficient pectin:

"On soft-hearted economists and the short-sighted lenders that made 'em that way:" one of my better -- aw, shux, one of my darn few -- friends thinks the government ought to keep ripoff credit outfits from reelin' in the easy marks. I disagree, but not because fools are born to be fooled.

"The tragedy of the common roads:" this is a topic I promised Our Canadian Cousin;* the other way to handle roads is something I have experienced on a small scale, so it won't be all theory and high-minded blather. Look for a special guest appearance from a famous canard, the free-rider "problem." In this context, it might not be much of a problem.

And who knows, maybe other stuff. Or I might just chuck it all an' go hang out at the used bookstores, hopin' to find a nice geek who bathes occasionally an' all, a real charmer.

The last two days at the Skunk Works have been a good approximation of Hell, only without Samuel Clemens, Oscar Wilde and Ayn Rand jockeying for attention in the seats nearest the fire. I'd love to explain that, but it would be both a whine and tellin' tales that are not mine to tell, so you will just have to imagine. Antacids have nutritional value, right?
* Please don't take this whimsical tag as criticism of Canada per se or Canadians collectively or individually; it's just a handy way of referring to my pal and critic whose initials are text-message shorthand. He's right, you know: I'm not human. Or not hardly.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Oh, my.

There's probably "something wrong" with my "sense of humor," but this gal makes me laugh until tears are rolling down my cheeks and I can't take a decent breath or see straight.

Thanks to "Xavier," who has the "link" posted.

Five Airplanes Aircraft

All the other kids are doing it! I kind of have my own take on the topic....

5. Any of the Goodyear blimps (Spirit of Goodyear shown). They're regular vistors to the city, wallow like a walrus on land in a strong wind, and are still majorly kewl. Slow but it takes a real pi-lut t' fly these softies.

4. von Braun's 1950s "space shuttle." Attention, NASA: This is how it was supposed to look and work.

3. SpaceShip One. Beautiful, simply beautiful. (Ooooo, space ships. Space pilots. :swoon:). (NASA: see?)

2. LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin. I don't know where I'd keep it but I gotta get me one of these!

1. Beechcraft Staggerwing. I'd marry one of these. Even an airship privateer has to have something sporty for recon, right? (If you're flyin' a Staggerwing, call me. We'll talk).

As planned, I have replaced the pictures with links.

Officially, It's Today

Memorial Day, that is, and I hope you have a chance to thank a warrior. If you are a warrior, my heartfelt appreciation to you.

Being a little old-fashioned, I stopped for moment yesterday at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month and reflected on the nature of honor, duty, being willing to go stand up for modern civilization and the men and women who demonstrate those qualities in abundance.

As happens, I don't have a very high opinion of President Woodrow Wilson or his nasty foray into European wars. If you ask me the man was a short-sighted racist and those are merely his least-obnoxious qualities; but his likeness to the proverbial toad does not detract at all from the valor of those who, when the call came, took up arms and did the job. --If there's some parallel there to current events, well, how about that. Now, go thank a soldier, sailor, flyboy, Coastie or Marine, okay?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

P.S. to "Moved Out!"

So, fifteen bags of trash, five old, beat-up wastebaskets, a 3'-cube wooden crate and assorted dead mops and battered window-blinds later, that minor "bagging up the trash" is done. Hully gee, I had no idea!

Spending eight hours in the house where we put undersized filters in the furnace for years and years (and I let it happen by being lazy, I don't think I changed one ever), scrubbing and throwing away, really does wonders to alleviate nostalgia.

Moved Out!

That's done. It's an odd feeling; I lived in Thunderbolt House for fourteen years, all but one with Mr. Ex. His nice cat Neko and my devoted Janie (who played together, quietly, at night, when the other two cats were asleep) both died there. It was there, over a decade ago, that I answered the phone about eight at night, already in my nightgown, to be told, "We have a working fire at the transmitter;" the following seven days, I took eight hours off to sleep, period. (It could well be that little things like that are why Ex X'ed out. At times, my job demands total attention).

That's the place he came to me, worried and angry, when our 10-year-old Jag was totalled while he was waiting at a stoplight; it's the house where I burned my first set of popovers* and where the call came from Mom that Dad was unexpectedly in the hospital and probably not going to wake again.

It was most of my adult life.

That's also where I found BBSs and teh intraw3b, using a '286 box and a (fast!) 2400 Baud modem, first logging onto Delphi, then a local outfit (who turned out to be a guy selling access "borrowed" from his employers!) and then a little neighborhood provider...which, a few years after AOL tapped into the 'net (it was a big deal then, invasion of the Visigoths!) got snapped up by a big provider, and there went shell access and my by-then antique computer -- and, once I'd replaced that with a modern laptop and a real ISP, there came the Web!

Which is most of the rest of my not-so-adult life.

And now my old home is empty. Dusty. I've got to go back over and bag up trash and then it will be entirely done. Someone else will call the place home, creaking floors, peeling paint, scary electrical wiring and all.

It's an odd feeling. This isn't exactly what I had planned.

Had to drop off the moving van at dawn's first light in the middle of a cold autumn thunderstorm. Aha, no problem, I'll dress in layers, I have my poncho, all set. Ha! Soaked jeans and shoes, nice fat drops of near-ice gave me a facial, and the best part was when, riding on rough pavement with a good coating of wet leaves, the poncho blew over my face. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than smart; it all worked out. Brrrrr!

* Simplest receipe imaginable, yet easy to get wrong. Sheer heaven when properly prepared!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Constitution, Voting, and Idiots

Covering the recent election here in the City of the Big O, the local litter box liner newspaper trotted out voter turnout stats for the last few mayoral elections.

Back when Mayor Voted-Out last won, we had a whopping 26% turnout, which the paper routinely decried, yawn. Ex-Mayor-To-Be won that go-round with 60% of the vote. 15.6% of the potental voters, unless my flaky math gene is on the blink. ...This is winning by getting the left-handers to vote for you, or all of [name any smallish minority]. More people bought new cars than voted (which is probably an indication of which activity is more directly rewarding; no argument from me there).

Sure, the paper's right, more citizens ought to vote. --But prior to that, it'd be a real help if more citizens were citizens.

Many of my fellow libertarian gunbloggers speak very highly of the Constitution of the United States of America. It's certainly a magnificent effort, but let's be realistic: it is beta-level software at best, running with over two dozen major patches (some of them crufty indeed, like direct election of Senators and Income Tax) and uncounted minor ones. It's old software and like all early efforts, it is extremely hardware-dependant.

Not so much the "hardware" of buildings or even of institutions; no, the hardware in question is us, or what we were presumed to be by the Framers: a largely aware, informed and engaged electorate.

I do not so very much mind a 26% turnout if most of them have done their homework and the other nearly three-quarters have not; it keeps the idiots from pushing the rest of us around by their whims and makes my vote count all the more!

But do you really want me deciding who'll sit in the seats of power? My most conventional notions are shockingly radical when compared to the popular wisdom! They might even be far-out compared to many of the ideals you hold dear.

And I am probably one of the least inimical voters out there. If you've been sitting out elections, either to protest or avoid empowering a coercive system or simply because you believe it doesn't matter, it might be time to think again.

The software's old and flawed but it's running. It's probably fixable. If you want to keep it running, if you'd like to have a chance at making things better, maintain that portion of the hardware you control: yourself, your awareness and your vote.

Because They Care

Naturally, the Great Nose Adventure was the topic at the Skunk Works and much joshing ensued. --In the course of the work-like endeavors I undertake, I do all manner of dangerous-appearing things, low tower work, high voltages, difficult spaces, power tools and get nary a scratch, then managed to injure myself working alone, with only pencil and paper, in a safe and comfy operational area. Okay; I had major kidding coming.

I did not, however, expect to return from lunch to find this.

The boys carefully explained that they were "watching out for me," how nice!

And then they explained, with even greater care, how the English phrase "to watch out for [someone]" was, in fact, highly ambiguous and if I was going to attempt a matched set, they wanted to ensure they were nowhere near the scene. That they would be watching out for it.

Y'know, if I wasn't so proud of 'em, I'd slap 'em all silly. Or sillier, at least :)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

More Of A De-Election

I was relieved at having (just barely) time to vote Tuesday; I was afraid I wasn't going to have a chance to vote against the Mayor!

For once, I wasn't the only one. Poll workers said many voters asked who the incumbents were, so they could vote for their opponents! Local news reports concur.

Someone -- and I'm pretty sure his initials are L. Neil Smith -- has been pushing the "never vote for an incumbent" meme and I'd like to think it's had some effect here. The fact that city government has made a number of missteps recently, along with voter outrage over some State-level tax idiocy, was undoubtedly the prime mover.

With a little luck and even a smattering of good sense, our new Republican Mayor and City/County Council will take the message to hert: they have not received a mandate, they're the player called in to replace a failed team. ...And there's plenty more where they came from, so, new guys? Better give it your best effort! I wish I could tell you I'm holding my breath.


I'm tryin' to sign up with this thing. H'mm, it don't seem t'run on steam. Paraffin oil, maybe? Petrol?
How 'bout this?
Technorati Profile

I still don't hear anything. Oh, wait, there it is, ticking over ever so quietly....

Soft Snark

...Concerning a troublesome item we've been wrestling with at the Skunk Works for months, I fumed to the Boss's Boss: "They ought to be paying us for beta-testing!"

Boss's Boss is the most positive and gentlemanly of men and I expected a mild rebuke. Instead, he looked thoughtfully off into space awhile and quietly said, "That would be presuming the software was up to beta level functionality...."

Damn, he's good.

They Have Sewn Up My Nose


So I was in the process of kneeling down in front of a rack to get the dimensions of the button array on an 8 x 8 SDI/AES routing matrix (don't worry, it's Greek to most people) and the lads had left a keyboard-in-a-drawer pulled out and the two little thumbscrews that secure it pulled out farther still and -- I don't know. It came outta nowhere! I was too close. One of the furschlugginger knurled ends of a thumbscrew got caught in my delicate, tiny left nostril and I was off-balance: rriip!

Invoking the name of a Deity while condemning the situation in heartfelt tones, I clutched at my nose and fell gracefully over on my back, just missing the cold, hard steel of the next row of racks. "Help," said I, "unh, help?" Bleeding profusely -- a talent of mine -- I waited for said help and after five minutes of highly-skilled bleeding, help did appear in the form of a concerned member of the Traffic department. I requested some paper toweling.

This arrived in due course, along with responsible authority, who pronounced sentence: "Blood has been spilled. You must go to Occupational Health!"

Ninety minutes, one tetanus shot, three Lidocaine beestings and two stitches later, here I am, telling you. Don't try this at home! Really, don't.

The doc promises there will not be a scar. Better not!

"Reading Your Blog Makes Me Want To Drink Heavily"

In a world of illiterates, the woman with half an Unabridged rules! Boo-yeah.

(Thanks to Hal West -- not his real name but he'll know himself -- at the Skunk Works for the title, which was his first comment to me after finding the Adventures. AFAIK, he's a teetotaler, too!)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

No Foolin'

You are a

Social Liberal
(81% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(90% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Libertarian (90e/81s)

Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

A Community Effect?

It's all Breda's fault: I spent, oh, geesh, an hour and a half last night bein' domestic, clearing kitchen countertops (so that's where the pocket blowtorch got to! An' the Red Army messkits and my orange hair-ribbon and the old light fixture and...), hand washing stemware and the delicate and pretty Japanese tea set that showed up at a yard sale up the road two weeks ago, etc. etc..

I don't know just how it works. I can sit in awesome squalor watching "Trading Spaces" or almost any decorating-and-home-ec show, and never feel the least twinge; but let my Mom, a co-worker or even one of the bloggers I read regularly start speaking of domesticity and the itch to redd up* the place becomes overwhelming.

This is an example of custom (or something akin to it) being better and stronger than law or rules. I'm quite sure I've had kitchens the Board Of Health would've shut down, especially when I was younger and poorer; I have studied all manner of rules and strictures covering husekeeping and still, it's knowin' that other people who are real to me are doing the housewife thing that sets me to work.

Fortunately, if you do a just little housework, the urge goes away.
* See for an explanation. My dialect bears a striking resemblence to this'n. Oh, those are dulcet tones!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

H.P. Lovecraft Was Right; or, Libertarian Do-Gooding

.....I have always believed that if you wanted to go Do Some Good with your own money, that was fine; and I have long been a fan (in much the same way that small children stare in helpless fascination at very large snakes) of the writings of the late Howard Philips Lovecraft.

To suppose those things might intersect seems wildly unlikely.

It's an unlikely sort of world. Lady and Gentleman, search 'bots of all ages, for your delectation: Williamson's Tunnels!

The nickle read of this dime novel: beneath Liverpool (yes, the one in the UK) there exists a somewhat-lost and vast -- indeed, Cyclopean -- series of tunnels, excavated in the 19th Century by men working for tobacco magnate Joseph Williamson. They've never been entirely lost but many were filled in over the years by builders dumping dirt from excavations.

A small band of Liverpudlians began digging them out some years back, with no end in sight!

The most plausible explanation for this is that Williamson, who had grown up in poverty, was keeping men employed through a very deep recession; but clearly he was fascinated by tunneling as well. It's possible he was a member of some Millennealist sect and was building a refuge, or smuggling tobacco or other goods; the man's dead and he didn't leave a lot of notes.

But whatever else it is, it's amazing stuff. Go have a look. And while looking, consider the number of men kept gainfully employed and the families fed by the eccentricities (whatever they were) of a single wealthy man.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Or, How To Break The Rules.

Big city, dark night. Low clouds. They glow! Photograph with bargain camera, crunch with bundled software: ersatz Parrish!

Anyway, I liked it. YMMV.


Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

Not that I'm competitive. Na-na na naaah na!

This one seems to have a time component, too.

Any Artists?

Having a mind that moves in tangents can be fun, if you can hang on. About fell off this morning and when the smoke had cleared, there it was:

A Stunning Concept in Webcomix!

Atomic Lawyers!
The year is 2099 and an elite, tripartisan group of high-minded attorneys has got the Bomb -- rather a lot of Bombs, in fact. Armed with this irrefutable means of persuasion, they have set out to Do Good To Their Fellow Man.

Of course the entire thing is a one-trick pony, since every last case and situation they take on ends up with 'em nuking all involved. Still, it could be good clean fun getting there. Move over, Judge Bean, for social justice that glows in the dark!

Umm, I'm not being too sarcastic or anything, right?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Dear Ex:

(Sorry, readers)

A) It's cool if you read my blog but you might want to cover your tracks better.

B) E-mail if you want the BB pistol, I'm pretty sure it's not mine. And/or the Ruger mag, if you even still have that rifle.

(We now return to our regular programming)

How 'Bout Dat

Your Language Arts Grade: 97%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

...But they'd take it back if they saw how I write...

Blog Soup

...Right in The Rules, it sayeth: "Thou Shalt Post something each and every day, lest thy three faithful readers abandon thou and depart in favor of the funny pages," and I'm tryin'.

Themeless today, however, so we must muddle through an' nevvah, nevvah surrendah!

The Great Move continues and completion suddenly seems possible. I even found my spare car keys! But, grrr-dern-it, there is a gun show in town today and I have the itch bad. Maturity, do I really need it, or can I spare a couple of hours?
-- I've been spending some time fussing over the Cat-Mother on every trip to the old place. She's a sweet, feral, little yellow tabby I've been feeding for six years. After a year of free food, she decided to make up to me and we've been pals ever since. She wouldn't be a problem to relocate, but her offspring and constant companion, a white-and-yellow tom, trusts no one. He was pretty wary before he got neutered and became more so afterwards, which is understandable. (The Mama cat, on the other hand, seemed a bit relieved after she was spayed; she earned her name fair and square, you see).
-- As for the moving, in a box in a far back corner of the basement I found my ex's HS graduation cap and gown! Also a loaded Ruger .22 rifle mag and a semi-cool BB pistol. I called him about the cap'n'gown, which he picked up (and I never even saw him -- left it on the porch, next time I looked it was gone). Left the Ruger mag next to it but he ignored it. Somehow the "Marksman Repeater" skipped my mind entirely. Tsk, tsk.

I've got a quarter here that says John Moses Browning's favorite great-granddaughter woke up on the move this mornin' yet again -- but you didn't hear it from me!

Since I had a van anyway, I picked up some insulation to replace the fragile, tattered stuff well-meaning family members took down in my attic during the pre-move clean-up. I love 'em dearly and free help is always nice, but that's work I'd hoped to skip for a year. I need to get that stuff up. It's chilly.

Did Saturday morning's errands on the scooter, quite a treat! Almost didn't make it at the bank, thanks to someone renegotiating a loan at the drive-up window. (Please, if it's a complex transaction, go inside! The drive-up is for those of us who finished our homework already). The city's repaved Keystone so I was above 50 mph on those 10" wheels -- laugh all you like, it'll still curdle your hair. Turned up my road and there was a maple in full golden color against the turquoise sky, having already totally carpeted the yard it shades. This is why I love Broadripple. (See photo. Colors not to scale. All leaves over 18...weeks).

It has occurred to me that I have some pre-diced potatoes in the fridge, along with bacon and eggs. It has been some time since I indulged in Breakfast Hash, a treat you poor mortals may be missing. And you'll miss out on it this morning, too, unless you make your own. Wish me luck, those store-bought taters are time-savers but not always as good as starting with whole ones.

Friday, November 02, 2007

State Quarters

Oh, here's a fine bit of Gumm'it workin' for the Common Good! (Don't mind me, I'm middlin' irked).

State Quarters. An Idaho fell into my hands this last week and my first thought was the simple Latin phrase: "Post hawk ergo propter hawk." But it turns out that's a peregine falcon. It's the thought that counts?

On the other hand, Kansas may have gone for snark. I think they're underestimating the effects of inflation but I know my Dad would have snickered at the "Buffalo Quarter" and tossed his lucky nickel to whoever was near for them to check out. "One of those bought a candy bar when I was a boy!" he'd've said. How I miss him; the man had no respect at all for ijits.

...We won't even discuss the thing my state picked. I'd say I'm ashamed of it but the fact is, I'm ashamed of the whole program. It's just play-money trash and has been since before I was voting age, but do they have to rub it in?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Why The Village Took You

This is sort of Part Two to "Why You Should Not Take A Village..." and it's the one that may get me in hot water. Ahhh! Perfect weather for it.

I left you on a note of bared-teeth libertarian purity. Okay; we live in a decidedly impure world. Let's say it was my kid, or one of my nephew's kids and insurance and savings didn't suffice. Let's say private charity came up dry.

Am I going to sigh and let little Timmy die 'cos It Is Right? What would you think of an adult who let a child she was responsible for die when help was available?

...Thought so. You'd do what it took, and look down on anyone who would not.

And there's the most pernicious thing about such assistance: no matter how high and grand your philosophical ideals, they're pretty much newsprint in a rainstorm when it's your family at stake. (Some have more steel than others -- I believe Marko would do just as he writes, if it came to that). (Thanks for the link, bro!)

The desperation of good men and women is how such Rob-A-Village-To-Raise-A-Child programs persist. A significant number of those who have had to rely on such assistance will become vocal supporters. Many of the beneficiaries who don't go that far will fall silent.

Why crush dissent when it will stifle itself?

I Am Not Either Blushing

...Guess it was a slow news day over at The View From The Porch, either that or the kindest mean girl I know decided to divert some traffic. Either way, it gives me the excuse I was lookin' for to add a link to her blog. I can't imagine who doesn't read it, but if you haven't, you should. Snarkier and snappier!