Sunday, December 30, 2007

Action Figures!

Marko started it.

The Breda action figure: Arrves in a Kelly-green case with an incised Celtic pattern, inside one finds a cute little doll with deep-red lips, cobalt-blue nails and somewhat-wild hair. (And the faint lingering scent of...Dr. Pepper?) If something in the look in her eyes and the cast of her features reminds you of a bird of prey,'re not alone.

Two standard outfits: primly librararian in the modern manner, and Suburban Tactical for home and range. Accessories include a .38 revolver, IWB holster, one (1) genuine labrys with which to mete out justice to bedazed fantasy-book readers (fresh yet stale-smelling from their apartments in their Mom's basements and one of Our Heroine's natural pests), a Chococat-styled AR-15, a small photograph of Sarah Brady weeping, 35,786 rounds of assorted ammunition and a standing invitation to all of the other action figures, even Barbie, to go shooting at her local range.

The leisure-time package (part of the standard kit; indeed, no Breda will be found without it!) includes fine microbrews, a turtle of uncommon religious persuasion, and an indeterminate number of cats, books, and something large, protective and spoken of in hushed tones called a "husband." It seems to be a lot bigger than the other action figures.

Camo oven mitts and recipe book are available at extra cost.

I'm So Proud

...Though I do wish I had placed higher than #5 in Google's "brain on toast" results. You want fries with that?

This is from HK, so odds are about 50/50 between "lit'ry curiousity" and "jonesin' for a snack."

Saturday, December 29, 2007

That's quite a nice....Airship

It's been weeks an' weeks and you know what? I'm still gettin' Google Image Search hits from my "Five Aircraft" post, mostly from people looking for dirigibles and the like.

Hey, I love ya and airships are just plain kewl, but geesh, get a life! If you can't, check out this. Yeah, yeah, they're claimin' it's all green an' stuff, but still: lighter-than-air! Coolness!

(Are they zepposexuals? Pleeeeeeeeeze don't tell me, okay? I mean that).

Retrospectacles One: One Day

Today was an odd day, a good day. Woke up late-ish, performed the rituals necessary to appease the resident incarnations of Bast and the other rituals that result in the appearance of hot, fresh coffee in the lower portion of the hourglass-shaped ceremonial vessel, coffee so pure it looks red and ruby-sparkling in light shone through it. I knew the clock was ticking and my week-old paycheck was ticking louder still; a visitor was likely due as well, so I blogged rapidly and proceeded to begin with ablutions when --

The Data Viking appeared at the door, bearing not axe nor horn'd helm nor shield, nor even yet a lute, but his usual arms, armor and instrument: a friendly smile. (It serves him well). With perfectly straight face and in non-committal tone, DV proceeded to describe a T-shirt image he'd like to see, one that so perfectly suited him that the only possible response was to curtsy in respect. I'll be asking his permission to share it here!* So after a short chat, I left him near some (I hope!) interesting books and got as ready as possible as fast as possible and we were out the door with thirty minutes to spare. (Who, me, slow?)

Off to the bank,** done in a flash and a day still more than half-full, he opined it was too cold to wander outside (true but unfortunate) so I, ever the hopeful hunter-gatherer, raised an inquisitive eyebrow and pointed across the way at the sole surviving example of the Old Retail Guard looming from the picturesque ruins of this city's oldest mall -- they have torn the concourse stone from stone, plowed asphalt into the ruins, and caused a Target to be erected where once stood the very temple of Moloch Mammon Commerce (though despite the presence of a Library, they have thus far refrained from burning it***) . Yet, incredibly, this one last shining example lingers on. From a distance, it's an inscrutable pile, immaculate above the rubbish-tips and bright yellow bulldozers, odd bits of scaffolding and fast-moving workers. It looks as if it might even be interesting.

Lo, a wonder: he fell for it! Truly the most patient of men, DV ambled along in my wake, while we examined the wonders of Modern Kitchen Items (psst, pot&pan designers: those rassafrassin' metal handles you're so fond of get hot!), fine furniture (some's nice but mostly? Word to the wise: buy used, refinish, re-upholster), Oriental carpets (deeeee-lightful, I want me some), modern carpets (sure, it's Art, but is it a floor covering?), a selection of men's ties I found remarkably repellent in color and pattern but was assured were hardly a patch on the worst of the worst, and, finally, to that most wonderful and dangerous of all departments: Women's Attire.

It is vast and trackless. The stylish render me mute with withering, unvoiced scorn for my all-too-obvious geekdom. There are no drinking fountains and few landmarks. Even DV lost his bearings (though not his marbles). After a few adventures, a side-trip into shoes (I now own A] superkewl retro-Chinesical tennies and B]some Decent Sunday-Go-To-Meetin' Shoes that are not even sinful patent leather or nothin'), five minutes of me looking wistfully at a tiny, nifty sequined number I so could have worn to good effect -- a decade ago and similar adventures, I found some hoodies for work an' Something for New Years and we made our escape.

Sure, it was the equivalent of a walk in the park. --Nevertheless, I challenge any of my male readers to have managed the feat with as much goodwill and grace.

Such sure and steadfast courage is to be rewarded; I suggested "a sushi joint," and drove us off to Naked Tchopstix, which is "sushi" like a SuperTarget is the five and dime. Some nice white tuna sushi with all the trimmings and green tea to start and then...

He had the "spicy vegetable." Hot, still crunchy, in a nice light, hot sauce and with plenty of veggies, I counted at least six different goodies, from celery to mushrooms to broccoli to a number of things I do not know the names of, but they looked good. He spoke highly of it and I endeavored to steal a taste myself: very nice!

I asked for Bibimbap,**** which I'd had before; the menu claims it is:
"Seasoned vegetable and beef served on top of rice with sweet and hot sauce. Fried eggs on top optional." If you count wood-ear fungus as a vegetable and understand the singular noun to be referring to more different sorts of plant life than can be easily listed, sure, it's accurate. If "sweet and hot sauce" accurately conveys that it will make you sneer at your family-recipe barbecue sauce, sure, close enough... Waitress allowed as how that was okay but on a cold day, Dolsot Bibimbab might be even better, since it's the same thing, only served in a hot stone pot! In actual fact, the dish arrived sizzling. Loudly. In a stone bowl about a half-inch thick, large enough to hold an average cantaloupe and radiating forge-like heat. Lovely fried egg on top. Sauce on the side. "Pour it over and stir," she advised, "before the rice starts to stick! I can help..." I was a bit slow to catch on but ultimately followed directions. The menu advises their cuisine is "Korean, Japanese, Chinese " and I have always thought of it as a gloriously successfully Korean colonization of the other two nation's culinary best (and who could begrudge them so delicious a revenge?); I don't know where Dolsot Bibimbab hails from but sitting in the aromatic steam and radiating heat, shoveling in tasty bits of this and that over good rice in a fine sauce as fast as chopsticks could convey them, I became utterly certain it was from a region where they have Winters as chill as any here. That stuff's good. It's comfort food in every sense of term!

And there's a fine way to wind down a day: good food, good company, pleasant surroundings. Here's to friends -- and here's to waitresses who know what entree to suggest!
* A statement which may cause the historically-hip to inquire, "Galambosian?" Thank you, but no; in my youth I appreciated the occasional fine cigar but there comes time to put away such vices.

** So why doesn't a happenin' and modern-type gal of my state-of-the-art ilk do direct-deposit and all that other modern jazz? 'Cos, well, it's more real to me if I put my grubby little hands on it. If you've never been broke, you might not understand
. Even if you have, you might not unless a fair number of your ancestors were Scots, too. Sheep, fooey, theirs is a lust for cash. Ooooo, money that clinks or folds. Oooooooo.

*** Which is how I know 'tis Carthage and not Alexandria, right?

**** Yes, two different spellings. NT's menu is...different. You move to Korea and compile a menu in the the local lingo and we'll see how well you do. Me, I just trust them to serve good food; I'm slowly working my way through the menu and appreciate how few people ever manage to be terse and vague at the same time!

L00k, Knew Content!

...And it's yours, for a low, low price of....FREE! Yayyy!

The cats are enjoying a morning romp and I'm enjoying having had a full night's sleep -- the past week was overflowing, between work (it gets snappish at the Skunk Works over the holidays and we're due a visit from some new brass), family and houseguest. Fun, too, as I'd been something of an anchoress for no short while.

This morning is busy yet. The bank's starting to forget what I look like! Later, I'm considering bucking the trend and becoming retrospeculative. Not in re this cloud-capt' blog, which is barely three months old, but my past year. It's been...exciting. In the sense of the proverbial (and perhaps fabulated) Chinese ill-wish that one "live in exciting times."

And on that dim promise I debark for the mirror and the washbasin -- my hair's become a tad uppity and needs a stern lecture!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Stranger Than Real

...Okay, this might not be real but it is chock-fulla Artistic Truthiness:

The Mayan Calendar predicts civilization will end 17 February, 2009! Believe it or don't.

Incandescent lamps banned in 7 years; longest term of any elected Federal office, 6 years! Believe it or don't.

No Bigfoot reports in the American West while Fred Thompson campaigns West of the Mississippi! Believe it or don't.

Neither Ron Paul nor RuPaul will deny rumors the two are related! Believe it or don't.

No UFO reports whenever Dennis Kucinnich has both eyes fully closed! Believe it.

Happy Boxing Day!

...And me without my gloves. Alas, I must go spar in the service of Mammon or have my ears boxed by my creditors -- y'all be good.

Sure hope the boys weren't up to too much bad at the Skunk Works without adult supervision!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Santa was here! Santa was here!

...And left books! Plus a great big blonde doll (actually from night before last, see previous petroglyph). And now I'm... Tam said it better'n I could.

I'm an alpha geekette, thankyouverymuch. That means I c'n log on an' blog Christmas morn: it's a behavior typical of my species. (Does no one watch Wild Kingdom any more?) Now, if only the range was open, my holiday off would be complete. ::Sigh:: Have to settle for the movies instead. (She said, grinning).

Hope y'all got ever' thing y'wanted!

P.S.: Breda, the doll looks a little like this but even younger.... (And, to be perfectly fair, more tan. It's soooo unfair that Barbie and kin can get better tans than me or anyone I know!)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Hoppy Hallidays

...Cos I dunno which ones yours are; a lot of 'em hit about now, our ancestors having happened to notice there was a solstice about now each and every year and our various and sundry $DEITIES, philosophical sodalities an' marching-and-chowder societies very nicely caused Significant Happenings to occur at the same time. Whatever one(s) you celebrate, I hope they're as joyful as required, an' then some.

(I'm sittin' here killin' a very few while waiting out a half-hour see-if-it-fails on the replacement for last week's Vital Object that showed up broken. So far, so good. Oh, those Farnsworth Fusors! I hate tunin' a stardrive hot but sometimes there's no other way).

My family already did theirs, a fine time (hey, I gotta dolly! And some major B&N gift cardage), though somewhat shortened by my (neutered) tomcat, who, annoyed at my bustling about on a normally-quiet evening while preparing to depart, decided to demonstrate the meaning of "retromingent" on some boxes of books. No harm to the contents, just lost a few boxes -- and time I didn't have to spare. Oh, well.

And my very own Christmas in my very own house is still to come! ...I haven't owned a house in...gee. Never. So I'm lookin' forward! Still have to pick up something for the cats. Do they make feline Depends?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

One Question?

If it's a writer's strike, how come there is writing on their signs?

Every time I see new coverage of the (yawn) Hollywould(and did) writer's strike, the striker's signs are. not. blank. They're scabbin'! From what I can read, they're not even scabbing competently, it's just the same ol'-same 'ol dull, boring "LU [number] On Strike" stuff. Sheesh.

You'd think, you know, writers an' all, if they were going to be blind to irony, they could at least come up with signage text that was snappy, incisive, maybe even cute, that would tend to raise the sympathy of the onlooker... .

But wait, it's the TV and film writers, isn't it?

It's a wonder they didn't do them in crayon.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

About Them Dim Bulbs Incongruous

...The swine.

I have not fuliminated about the Babysitter-Nation ban on Mr. Edison's incandescent lamp because once I pried myself out of Christmas blues* I've been in too good a mood to be vexilated but for the record: I plan to flaunt the ban. I'm gonna stockpile light bulbs. I'm gonna buy me some g-dd-mn CARBON-FILAMENT bulbs an' burn them, too.

Yep. Past the cut-off date, I'll still be screwin' 100-watters and 75s an' 60s inta' sockets, chortling like an ape with a new way to fling poo. I'll still be runnin' 40s and 25s in my nightlight and by golly, my Arts&Crafts lamps will have loopty-loop, tipped-teardrop carbons in 'em.

Come an' get me. If you dare.

(I've got a sawed-off hurricane lamp, too, an' I'm not afraid to use it!)

Weasels. Retromingent meddlers.

L. Neil Smith is right: when it comes right down to it, these pantywaists are afraid of our race's most basic energy technology: fire. Guns, cigarettes, internal-combustion engines, nuke plants, incandescent light bulbs, they're out to ban fire in any form they can find. --Good luck freezin' in the dark, damn you. I've got some rope to twist and a scaffold to build.
* My Dad was a Christmas baby. He would have been 80 this year; he almost made it. My life story's pretty easy to read between the lines but oh, how I miss him.

Here's Tae Us!

Squeaky adds her own take to the net.human.connectedness meme that's been floating about since Carteach0 caught a prime example, using a dead modem for bait.

It really is true: we gather in small, like-minded groups with niftily Heisenbergian boundries. Follow your friends' links far enough and doors you never even knew were there will open up -- and you've still got your own familiar place and pals as a touchstone. Isn't that pretty much how humans are wired up anyway? The 'net simply makes establishing that group of connections easier and faster and enables the margins to reach ever farther. Gee, who'd'a thunk: when we built a communications network, we modeled our own social networks so well they started mapping right over to it.

I date back to (commercial-access) Usenet, even FidoNet (even used a PLATO terminal a time or two as a child) and they worked in a similar way; cruder, louder, less personal, but still on the same basic model.

Awhile back, I was riffin' on a Cyril Kornbluth short story, "Ms. Found In A Chinese Fortune Cookie," in which he hints at some wonderful and powerful secret in the way our minds work that could be of benefit to all, a secret known to a select few and one that lands the narrator in no end of trouble (it's a yarn worth reading, so I shan't spoil it). The late Mr. Kornbluth was bluffing but we might just be onto something as powerful, though safer to know.

Mars Needs Women Meteor Defenses

Or it would if there was anybody there: Incoming!

...I had done the Happy Dance first and I'm trying to remember if the last time I did one was about when we found out Jupiter was due for a shellacking.... Naw, can't be!

The greybeards set the odds at one in 75 but suspect better data will make a miss more likely. The bolide's about the size of the one that popped over Tunguska. A hit on Mars could be quite interesting -- and might help wake up our own Skywatch efforts for the planet where I keep all my stuff.

There are some darned big rocks out there, moving in orbits that intersect our Earth's. The evidence is good that a big hit is likely to result in an extinction-level event. If there was ever an argument for human presence in space, -- a massive, self-sustaining to the greatest possible extent human presence just as rapidly as we can manage it -- that's it. Our sun's something of an "attractive* nuisance," like a big backyard swimming pool in a bad neighborhood. A bodyguard and a life raft would be pretty good to maintain.
* Pun intended. Consequences?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Well, Hey!

A hat-tip to the crew at Baby Troll Blog ("Visit for the Xenaesque spin-offs, stay for the snark and flooring"), who also enjoyed discovering Planet Karen. I'm reading it often enough to add to the roster of webcomics. Thanx again to the Atomic Vanguard Ferret and the late Paul M. A. Linebarger, spy and SF author!

(Looking at the nicknames I give people or they give themselves, my life is something of a webcomic. And that's not really a bad thing).

Happy Dance

I broke 150 last week.
Free IQ Test Score IQ Tests

It's late in the day and I just found this buried in "junk mail." I'm going to wait until tomorrow to do the actual dance and in any event, You The Home Viewer are just gonna have to take the word for the deed.

He's too modest to admit it but the ever-chivalrous Data Viking offered me his test-results badge several days ago. 160-something!

--Later: Doc Strangegun and Breda also scored better on subsequent tries, which raises a question: I doubt any of us gave much conscious thought to the test between times but I wouldn't be at all surprised if the lazy 14-year-old who runs the filing system in the back of my mind* worried away at the questions that stumped me, since the answers fair lept to hand on a couple and I did the last half of the second test while on the phone with work. My first thought was that perhaps only our first try really counts but in that case, the thing's an "IQ and speed" test. If the raw cleverness-quotient is all that counts, it shouldn't count against you that it takes a handful of days to dredge up the right answer as long as you did it under your own steam!

No matter how you slice it, any IQ test is a limited tool at best. Life is a test of how clever and fast you are -- but also a test of your luck and often of how well you get along with others. It tends to sort by attractiveness and mental stability, too. If you can do well along any three of those axii, you're likely to do okay generally.
* She's actually a metaphor, but don't let on that I told you!


I've never been comfortable with The Holiday Season and this year's got some extra spin on it. It'd be very dull reading (trust me, I've burned breakfast twice trying to make it not be), so this is just to assure readers that I haven't burnt any bridges and dived into the Tiber in full armor. (A free "ain't you educated" pat on the back to whoever gets that reference).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I'm Livin' In Your Monitor

A lot of my adult life has been lived online, starting back when "online" was a fast, fast 2400-baud modem and FidoNet was the ticket for mass connectivity. I met my last two boyfriends online, including Mr. Ex, along with just about all of the people I have dated socially and most of my friends.

In meatspace, I'm paralyzingly shy at first acquaintance, only too aware of my checkered past as a 19-year-old runaway, college drop-out, near-loss of amateur status anent alcohol consumption and so on and so forth, my teenaged-self image of being too tall, too plain, geekily unstylish and wearing eyeglasses thick as the bottoms of pop bottles looming over the actual reality of contact lenses and not looking, if I do say so, all that bad. If there's some task at hand -- fixing electronics, learning about anything from sewing to shooting, I'm fine. Otherwise, around new people I tend to say little and stay close to the walls and exits. Oh, I'm better now (I'm all growed up!) but get me far enough out my depth and I still sometimes mumble and fumble after words. Not a pretty thing. Small wonder the first few jobs of my misspent youth were ones in which the interaction was mostly one-way and very well-controlled, jobs where the feedback from customers was mostly positive. Put a keyboard in front of me and I have got words; add a screen and I'm only too happy to read what you've got to say; once I know you, I don't freeze up in RL when we meet, either.

So when Tam posted about the very personal connectedness of people on the 'net, it hit close to home. Carteach0's post and Dr. Helen's aided my understanding.

Times I've lost access, times I've had major e-mail issues, I've felt pretty lost. I have my books and my cats and they're very fine comfort but they're not people!

Without the human-scaled portions of teh.n3t, I'd hardly have a social life at all. So thanks for bein' there. Thanks for wanting to talk about your stuff so much you built a place where others could come chat, too! Um, don't go 'way, please? Okay?


Went to bed pondering some solo-spinster issues and fell into sleep as thick and warm as the pile of quilt and blankets I'm under now Winter has arriven. Peaceful dark inside my head an' quiet. Suddenly it's Oh-Cold-Fifteen and somethin' Not Usual is shrillin'! Not the clock, not the alarum, not my phone's built-in wake-up call....

I lever my eyes open and both cats are givin' me accusing looks, looks that ask, "Why do you make such annoying sounds?"

With dawning consciousness, realization hits. Ohfsckthepagerwhat'sgonewrongattheSkunkWorksnow?

"'Tisn't me, cats," I mutter, pushing back the covers, fumbling after my glasses and reaching for my purse. It takes two tries but I get the message to pop up:


Ratters. But that's an IS issue; the big satellite system at the (unstaffed) North Campus is run over DSL and has been ever since the old software died and vendor just snickered when we went for an update. (As if RS-232, 1200-Baud 4-wire control schemes were, I dunno, obsolete or somethin'!) So I call in and tell 'em, "Call IS, I can't fix this. They need to light a fire under Phone Company."

"The IS czar* is off all this week."

"Then call one of his minions. It's just a loss of connectivity, right?"

"Seems to be. We've got stuff incoming in an hour...!" (A note of irritation creeps into his voice. It mirrors my own so I can't complain).

I do repeat myself: "Call IS, we need to keep the pressure on Phone Company and they're our point of contact." (By explicit directive from the top, which I don't need to remind Ops about).

"Okay, but we have that feed..."

"I'll go up there, see what I can do. I can switch things over but you probably still won't have control."

Forty-five minutes later, I'm up at the North Campus pushing buttons and working on my Anglo-Saxon vocabulary, after a very odd drive (windshield-wiper-smeared gunk on the windshield and my astigmatism resulted in what looks like a single spear of light from every point source to the bottom center of my windshield, probably all thanks to a previous owner's failed RainX experiment that I have yet to completely remove. But for a few minutes there, I was feelin' very sympathetic to victims of schizophrenia). Once we were all set, just for fun I went to IS's little cubby and power-cycled the DSL modem.

Came right back up.

Worked fine when I checked with Ops.

Why is it my nickle-dime DSL connection at home is solid as a lump of Roman concrete, and the high-zoot pro version crashes and flickers and fails like cheap match on a windy patio? I sure do miss that ol' steam-driven 1200 Baud system!

Just to add to the fun, I was a half-hour too early to pick up breakfast pastry at the bakery on the way home, too. Oh, well, maybe another day.
* Not his real title -- he's a Satrap or Panjandrum or something, one of the keen-o titles they hand out in suit'n'tie land.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Or something. Sadly, a day less productive than it might have been, as a large and important item I needed for the day's main task arrived...broken. Subtly so, which makes it even less fun. It's a thingamabob we swap out and send the the old one back to be rebuilt; I don't think they're making any new and there's one place that can rebuild them. Usually.

Happy news, the snow is melting. Is it Spring yet?

...Still reading Dean Ing. (His "Harve Rackham" yarns now. Oh, to have a cheetah and the room for it to run!) Some other authors in the queue. When were our book reports due?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Go Read This

A new Perspectives is up. If you're here, you probably already know that but just in case--
Take a small-town peace officer, an EMT and an ER nurse. Just as a hypothetical, posit that each of them can write rings around the last twenty bloggers novelists you've read and since we're dreaming, dream that each one of them is gifted with his or her own sorts of grit, empathy and plain ordinary horse-sense (which is usually neither plain nor ordinary). Got it?

Good. It's no dream! They're real.

A quick story of my own: my first real job was reading news nights and weekends at a one-horse radio station, a skinny geekette in thick glasses hiding behind a barely-steady contralto voice, flattering microphones and a knack for sight-reading copy. It was back before encrypted trunking public-safety radios, back when cellphones were a rarity that lived in purse-sized bags or awkward "handheld" cases. The newsroom scanners heard every word the sheriff's department, the city police, the various fire departments and the ambulance crews had to say on their radios. So I heard the middle of a lot of emergent events, the beginnings of several, and the endings of darned few. Unless it was a big event indeed, I never learned the whole story and when I did, it was the press-release version from a call to the relevant agency.

That's not what you are going to be getting.

Lawdog, Ambulance Driver and Babs RN are going to put you right in the moment. Go, read!


Went out t'get the paper this morning (it's a wonderful source of things to sneer at, not to mention general-purpose packing and garbage wrap!) and was reminded of a gift that made coping all the snow and cold hugely easier, not to mention the typing afterwards: One of my very best friends in the whole world* gave me a pair of super-duper gloves, way better than anything I've ever owned. (Quoth: "Oh, they're extra, I'm not usin' em!") All day yesterday, my hands never even felt a chill. That is a new thing; after doin' Bigtime Media Engineering year-'round, I have spent many too many Winter days working outdoors with bare hands, doing complex things in the chill and playin' Apache about the pain. Having warm hands in the snow is a luxury!

Sometimes I have the heart of an Objectivist (yes, yes, right here on the desk, in a highly-rational ceramic Klein bottle...). Altruisim's stupid. But if you have extra and you choose to share, that's beneficience. I doubt even dear Aunt Ayn would so very much Object to that.

The big-deal holidaze can be a rough time, especially the pair comin' up. Especially as the years roll on. Givin' gifts is often presented as some form of charity, as altruism but more often, there's an intangible quid pro quo: a feeling of connectedness. It can be a comfort to giver and receiver alike.
* Yeah, sometimes I talk like that. Cope.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


My co-worker at the Skunk Works, Fear-De-Lance* sent me a webpointer to SF writer Cordwainer Smith, which in turn sent me to Planet Karen. It's a kewl place!

* Also known as the Atomic Vanguard Ferret, though rarely to his face. These are all puns on his name and/or hobbies and not his personality, thank goodness.

Digging Out

We did get a little sleet but we missed the ice (yayyy!). The snow is heavy and wet, wonderful for snowballs. My snowblower choked on it after getting most of the sidewalks and the gravel drive and alley aren't really machine-friendly anyway. That would leave the Armstrong Method: One girl, one shovel!

Nor am I the only one; my next-door neighbor shoveled her drive and alley section first. We crossed paths when I decided to run the snowblower as far up and down the front walk as the cord would allow. --She was happy to swap some salt for having her front walk cleared, a winning trade all 'round!

Yetiless Wonderland!

However, some sort of furry, furtive creature haunts the snow!

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Having cried, "Snowlf!" twice, my cohorts at Big Darned Media are goin' for a threefer, this time with a better chance of bein' right: it should start with sleet and have progressed (?) to serious snow about the time I will need to be drivin' in it.

I'd complain but there are a few zillion people from Okalahoma to the Northeast who'll point out others have already had it worse. Still, there's a fair chance some time this afternoon I'd be happy to meet a Yeti, zombie or not, though I still draw the line at lettin' 'em carry sci-fi weapons.


Boris Artzybasheff, that is. I mentioned this artist in the "Comments" to the preceding post. Here's an example (click on it for a big view!):

Yeah. Like that. Don't let him loose near a metaphor!

Friday, December 14, 2007

I Blame Ayn Rand For This

Did newspapers even have architecture critics before The Fountainhead was published?

Whatever; it's not really her fault but as an example of "How Not...," this is so egregious that I am minded to extend to the author that blamelessness we accord imbeciles. 9 December, writing on the front page of our local fishwrap newspaper, a "nationally known architecture writer/critic" said that the city's new public library (a vast glass thingie connected to the front part of the old library building by a huge waste of space atrium where the stacks used to be) is "...more than adequately respectful of the 1917 Paul Cret building it kisses on the backside."

Umm, dude, that's a degree of respect best not accorded in a family publication, 'kay? Do editors even bother to read this stuff any more? Or are they, like the rest of us, mostly using the paper to line the bottoms of birdcages?

Impressive. Not.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Concealed Carry: Me And My Sidearm

Sometimes dogpiling on a topic is not such a bad idea, especially if one's blog is getting search-engine hits for the topic.

People new to the idea of carrying a firearm for self-defense deserve good information. I'll put my 2.46x10^-5* of an oz Au in, but first, Matt G has plenty to say, all of it good, and links to even more.

I carry whenever I can. It's a big responsibility and one I did not take on lightly. Though requirements for what my State calls a "Permit To Carry Handgun" are not onerous (no precluding factors, around $25 in money orders, and a trip to police HQ to get printed and do the paperwork), I had already taken taken a basic handgun class and shot a few thousand rounds before applying for it. I'd also thought long and hard about hangin' a thunderbolt on my hip.

I've been stalked. I've been held up at gunpoint twice; the second time, the miscreant fired a shot, miffed that I ran away and threw my bag of groceries at him when he caught up. (He missed. I wet myself anyway). While I dislike sending anyone to an early exit, I'm certainly not going to take one myself for their sake; I happen to like keeping my paycheck and credit cards in my own possession and I take a dim view of being attacked by deranged men, no matter how pure their lust. I will stop 'em. I'll weep for their Mothers later. I won't weep for them; they chose their own path.

If you're thinking about carrying, think it through. If you can't use that shiny object when you must, it's worse than useless.

If you're carrying, practice! If you can't use your sidearm well, it's nearly useless and may even endanger the innocent.

What should you carry, how should you carry it? Depends. The laws of your State or city may restrict what you may carry and how you may carry it -- find out. (Don't make assumptions -- the rules in wild'n'wooly Texas require one to carry concealed without fail, while long-civilized Virginia allows open carry without any sort of permit!) Something too large, too heavy, too awkward: don't fool yourself; if it's a real bother, you'll stop bothering with it. Many gun ranges offer rentals -- ask for suggestions about carry guns, rent them, take them to the firing line and find out. Investigate holsters and other systems designed for concealed carry; the shoulder holster of Hollywood fame is one of the least easy.

The short version is, "learn, learn, learn." Not just with your eyes and your mind, find out with your hands. Train your reflexes, so you never touch the trigger unless you're ready to fire, so you never point until you are sure of your target, so the most automatic actions you make with a firearm are safe ones. As you train, so you will react. You'll shoot plenty, you'll learn that practicing at the shooting range; it's fun to line up on a bullseye and make a hole right where you wanted it and it's more difficult than TV shows make it appear. Make sure you also learn how to handle your weapon in the time between drawing and firing. Make sure you learn how to handle it when you're not on the firing line.

When trouble comes -- and it comes but rarely; it may never come your way -- you will be your own (and civilization's, but you won't notice at the time) first line of defense. Running away and screaming rarely stops malefactors and calling 9-1-1 ( If you have the chance: "Hold it right there, Mr. Armed Robber! I must place a telephone call!") won't stop a bad guy right now. If you are armed and trained, you will have the best chance to make a difference.

It beats running away and throwing a bag of groceries at them. Alas, it won't make you any braver. ...That's actually a good thing; if an awareness of the responsibility that comes with carrying a sidearm makes you think twice about dangerous places and iffy situations, that's all the better for you.

(Plain facts: I carry small semi-automatics, aluminum-framed, in .380, 9mm or .45 ACP. All of them are very similar, so I don't have to remember different actions for each gun. They suit me. I don't know if they'll suit you. I bought them all used; this can be quite a savings but please have the gun checked out by a reputable gunsmith if you're buying a used one! Like cars, there are some lemons out there).

* Sign corrected per Dr. Strangegun. Though I set uncommonly high value on my own opinions, there's a limit to even my self-appreciation!

...So I thought, "How Humbling Could It Be?"

A lot.

My blog is worth $7,903.56.
How much is your blog worth?

Now if I could just find someone whose blog was worth $2K and had a car worth $7.9K and trade!

PS: Yes, I managed to escape, met a real cool guy named "Cyril" who has The Answer but I'm not tellin' nobody, fat lot of good it did him! Adventures included crossing the border stark naked, packed into a small suitcase. I didn't really have to do that but it seemed like so much fun! (Kinda not. But now I know).

Found In A Fortune Cookie

Hello. My name is Susan Garcia-Siggurdsdottar and I found the following message instead of a fortune in my cookie last night at Chen's House of Chow in Ottowa:

"Pls post 2 my blog, info on back: dr rdrs, I'm sri nw for my joke abt intel org. They have odd snse of humor, I hv bin trapped at cookie fact. last 20 hrs, thk I can esc. today. Msgs in last doz. cookies give details. Stole pen f/guard. No net.access hr! Back soon. Yrs, RX"

I'm almost sure it is some kind of a hoax.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Whirled Poly-ticks

...tic tic tic tic... So, how did it go? 1. US intel sez Iran ain't buildin' teh B0mb; 2. Several Euro nations suddenly say, "Hey, we don't like those mean ol' Iranies, either. Let's trade-sanction 'em."
Okay, that was good: the logic and bravery that as long as the bad guy can't really whup you, it's okay to beat him up. I was all set to snark about it.

Then it got better: Our Friends In The Old Countries suddenly remembered the Yew-Natted States does not have a stellar rep for intel sneakiness and began to wonder aloud if maybe, just maybe, Iran is fixin' to build war-type nukes in the basement after all.
Thing is, they've got a point -- our sooper-seckrit spookiest of all agency (there is No Such Agency, okay?) has, for pity's sake, a museum with a cute little gift shoppe right across the street from their big, menacing no-you-don't-even-look-directly-at-it headquarters. Most of the big intelligence triumphs the US pulled off during the Cold War (remember that? Don'cha just miss those palmy daze?) owed more to the ethics of the Boy Scouts than those of Machiavelli. Traditionally, we just don't do "sneaky-tricky" all that well.

...So I can see the EU spymasters, serene in their sophistication, saying, "Well, if the States say it's all tickety-boo in Iran, then it cannot possibly be true."

So here's the fifty-Euro question: Our guys aren't always sure which wine to order with doughnuts, but they're not actually dim; could they, might they have come smilin' out, wavin' the "All Clear" notes, in order to get that reaction for our nominal Western allies and pals?

D'ya think?

Darnedifino. I'm about six "They know that we don't know that they know..." deep and I'm no longer sure of anything. Man, I'll bet if I could type, there'd be a heck of a future awaitin' me in some basement under a black-budget buildin' in Maryland.

...One way or another.

Oooo, lookit! Official "there is no mug here" coffee mugs! Kewl.

Hit the "spellcheck" icon and for just a second, smoke poured out of Blogger. Um, oops.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Yeah, Yeah, Whatever

It's another of those darn tests. Yeppers, jean-ee-yus level. I'd do the happy dance if I could break 150:
Free IQ Test Score - Free I.Q. Test Online

(Watch the fine print on this thing -- they ask for a lot of info you don't need to give them).

Link found at The Expert Witness. Thanks, JPG!

I've commented on these things before but in case you missed it, all they test is your skill at taking tests!

--But wait, there's more! That "genius" tag? It's meaningless, at least in the sense that most people think of "genius." Nils Bohr, Bowie, Salvador Dali or Raymond Scott, those folks are geniuses, no matter what they score on some test. People who manage to get IQ test scores that plot pretty far over to the right on the bell-shaped curve of test results are probably better at solving crossword puzzles than Joe Average in the middle -- but they're still not that much more likely to write Space Oddity or paint "The Madonna of Port Lligat." Sorr-eee. Maybe next life I can invent transdimensional spacewarps. Or you can, if you've got the time.

I'm still workin' on remembering to use the spellchecker.


Maybe I'm not always the last to know: there's more Firefly in the works, a comic book graphic novel and some neatola lunchboxes, anyway.

For the record, I wasn't very happy with where the movie took the story; not just the killin' off main characters (and everyone they ever knew in the TV series, oh yes the man did) part, but appearing to drop the "Blue Sun" connections in favor of a simplistic "Eeeeeeevilll Gummint" background. Well, fine; governments are all evil, despite the best of 'em being less evil than anything else our species has tried. For story-telling purposes, complicated evil is way more interesting than simple evil.

That said, it's still the best movin'-pictures SF ever, especially the television series. Kirk's a mewling kitten compared to Mal. (And just for fun I might add he could whup R-- P---, too, except I don't want to start the debate).

Kewl Stuff!

Matt G's blog has put me onto an interesting group, Zero 7. Nice sounds, at least for a fan of The Ditty Bops and Raymond Scott's early* synth work. He linked to one video; another one caught my eye: it's surely rotoscoped, and brilliantly so:

Nice! This (IMO) is an unusual topic and angle for pop music: fulfillable longing and contentment. (Back to that whole notion of Western Civilization being a majorly fine idea -- and some of the core Victorian values, like fidelity, not being quite so trite as the Boomers liked to believe).

Matt G's original post went in a very different direction to his original intent and fascinatingly so. I'm headed over there now!

* As in, starting in the 1950s. The secretive Mr. Scott is one of the unsung heros of electronic music, in part because he made a good living from producing sounds no one else could duplicate. If he'd shared the details of his inventions, he'd've lost his competitive advantage.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Weturn To The Gwory

Recipe for a grand day:

The Guest and I, after a perfectly delightful breakfast (I humbly admit), headed off to what is still one of the bestest things in town: the Roman exhibit at the Art Museum.

Even second time around, even with Philistines whispering*, the impact is not lessened. There's something about being right-the-dickens-there, the wonderful objects and the faces and bodies of the past just as close as your coffee cup, that cannot be conveyed in any other way. And to see it once again with another friend who has a working knowledge of the Republic and Empire that greatly exceeds my own makes it all the better! ...I'd go on and on but I've already enthused about this collection. It's a marvel!

(Here's a tip: Cultivate intelligent, well-read friends; if you do nothing else to improve your mind, you'll still end up way ahead of folks who stand around gossiping about the celeb of the moment or the horrawful thing that Joe at the barbershop did at Bubba-Sue's wedding.** What, you knew that already? Then why didn't you tell me long ago?)

Another marvel on this visit was a scattering of "uniformed" teens from some school, their preppy attire distinct but hardly military, each with his or her artist's pad and producing very fine pencil sketches of the various pieces in the exhibit. One young man with the look of an athlete stumbled a bit as he stood from a tailor's squat before a large candelabrum. "Sorry, I sat too long," he grinned to the adults and his classmates, his well-rendered drawing flashing for a moment as he made his apologies. Y'know, the Western Civilization thing, it's really a pretty good idea.

We were able to take a few extra minutes to watch a conservator at work on a priceless 16th-Century painting, and none of this "through glass," stuff, either; there's a string on posts to remind you to stay out of the way and a nice young man to answer the questions you'd best not be bothering the conservator with, but that's all that's between you and all that history and skill. If you wait long enough, the conservator herself is pleased to speak with visitors during her breaks. --Now that's how you get folks connected to Art!

The entire museum, always a gem, has become a lot more playful since the most recent renovation: the collections form a maze with sightlines varying as you walk, distant and interesting things appearing, being hidden and reappearing as you get closer. There's no telling what will be around the next corner; before you know it, you're deep into the labyrinth and the only minotaur who haunts it is your own delight.

Time's remorseless and we were fair famished, so 'twas back to my neighborhood and Yats: "Cajun. Creole. Crazy." Two people can eat like royalty and get change back from a couple of sawbucks. Chili-Cheese Etoufee, Ropa Veijia, the good rice, crisp garlic bread, exotic soft drinks and coffee as good as anything they pour in Naw'lins -- I should go back for seconds! Okay, you do eat like royalty with overly-familiar servants; when I walk in, whoever's behind the counter sings out, "Hi, RX! Here or to go?" I like that! Yats has streamlined the process of ordering: you belly up to the counter, have a look at the blackboard to see what's in the kitchen tonight, name your pleasure and pay. By the time you sit down, there's a young man with a smile and steaming plates of goodness waiting for you.

Alas, after dinner it was time for The Guest to pack up and head out. "All good things...." 'tis said. And today was definitely good!

* Best one: looking at a marvelously carved stone sarcophagus, girlfriend to boyfriend in serious, dimwitted awe: "Isn't it uh-mazing how they could start at one end and do each section and finish at the other end without running over or leaving space?" D'ya know how darned difficult it is to not snicker when you're trading OMG-she-means-it looks with your traveling companion?

** Bubba-Sue is the generic double-wide ijit; when sufficiently frustrated by such persons in traffic, I have been known to improvise lyrics about her to the tune of Buddy Holly's Peggy Sue. This is terribly unfair and yet ever so much nicer than simply ramming them while cackling with demented glee. Umm, not that there's, like, anything wrong with being two axe-handles wide and twice as solid through the skull.

SNOWMAGEDDON II: This time, it's more!

...And yet, still no squadroons of electrolash-wielding Yeti Zombies, at the mercy of the cruel and capricious whims of their alien brain leeches, patrolling the streets and rounding up our fatter citizens for the cookpot. Dang. No snowplows or salt trucks on the tertiary streets, either, double-dang!

We did, however, get more snow, a brightish grey day perfect for what I did today and are now receiving the beneficience of sleet. This is scheduled to turn to rain, followed by warm, which should begin to clear up that whole Zombiated Yeti thing, as they keel over from heat stroke and their brain leeches crawl off into the gutters to be hunted down by brave troupers of the Free People's Liberation Army and Escargot-Festival, stalwart worthies armed with salt shakers and pails of garlic butter....

(Note to self: no more chili-fortified olives right before bedtime).

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Masque Of The White Death

(That Poe, he is such a cheery guy). So, White Death arrived, sans death. Heap plenty car crash but Civilization once again failed to end.

--But there's more crispy Winter goodness on the way. The weathercritters have been happily lamenting our impending doom. Does my heart good to see them so filled with innocent joy; they're like a small boy with a magnifier finding ants on a sunny day.

Y'know, the more I look at that title, the more I wonder about just what sort of fiction Edgar Rice Poe might have turned out. "The Ape-man and the Pedulum?" "The Tell-Tale Thoat?" "A Princess of Usher?" And they think snowfall is scary!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Quick, run to the market and buy up all the milk and bread! White Death is here!

...Or so you'd think to have watched the tube last night -- any of the local channels, including the one where I hang my head.

Pleased to say that now that the snow is here, the on-air panic level is zero and my team, at least, is doing a good job covering what would be a routine snowfall if it didn't happen to be the Winter's first.

The TV business loves snow: it's an easy story to cover and everyone's interested. Love us or hate us, you will watch us (or visit our website), if for no other reason than to find out what's been cancelled.

It's a hoot at the studios. Those of us who (probably) won't be out in the stuff all day have come up with an increasingly-silly series of titles for the disproportionate sense of determination, not to mention sheer sturm und drang that settles over the place as any significant snowfall looms.

There's one benefit: we often get a catered meal, to help the crews stay fueled up and keep the rest of us close to the barn. It's snarkily referred to as "The Feast Of The Snowocalypse," of course.

...I, for one, welcome our Zombified Yeti Snowverlords!

"HDTV" Defined

I've figured it out: what "HDTV" means in Middle-Class Geek (and the poorer dialects) is "Go read a book." There are some beautiful HD displays out there and they're getting better all the time. I'd still rather spend $4.00 on a Dean Ing paperback.

Monday, December 03, 2007

'Tis The Season

(Or is that "Sleazeon?" I always get them confused). Whichever, I have, unusually enough, guests slated for Soon and a lot to do; so I'll be witty some tomorrow, okay?

--H'mmm, iron the guest towels with or without starch? Oh dear oh dear!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Doc Savage

It's true: I've been a fan of 1930s pulp superhero Doc Savage (and his associates: Monk, Ham, Johnny, Renny, Long Tom and Patricia) since seventh grade. I've always thought it was one of a the zillion-and-one ways in which I am atypical.

Yeah, right. ...As Harry Ugol famously wrote,* "You're not the only one." Reading original lettercols at The 86th Floor fansite, there are a couple of letters from girls in just about every issue of the pulp!** We might not've been the target demographic but it sure looks as if good ol' Lester Dent (who invented the characters and wrote the majority of the yarns) wrote fine tales of derring-do that appeal to anyone with a yen for vicarious adventure, even using a trite plot*** and characters who prefigure the better comic book stars.

* Under circumstances far different to where I first saw Ugol's Law cited. Once I did the research (it's spelt "G-O-O-G-L-E"), I could see why it is not more widely known. He seems to have invented a general natural-law-of-teh-n3t despite himself; Harry's natural habitat was the "" section of Usenet. And the best roses grow in lion dung. Go figure.
** Which those of us who read the Bantam paperback reprints didn't get to see. :(
***Yes, there seems to be just the one. The fun's in seeing how he spins it. A fair case could be made for the entire series forming an unintentional "metanovel" about an emotionally-suppressed ubermensch coming to terms with his feelings, forming deep friendships and learning the fultility of altruism but there's a point at which it gets too deep to even try wading through. This stuff is chewing gum for your brain.

Arrgh: Leaf-Raking

It has been awhile -- okay, never -- since I had a yard as tree-covered as the one at the new place. If one has trees, one will have leaves; and I had left mine mostly alone after disposing of the initial batch.

Last weekend, I raked up ten huge heaps of crunchy brown/grey/gold leaves, ran out of daylight and left them. The week that followed was, of course, windy. And a bit rainy, so yesterday, I had ten medium-sized piles of leaves with damp centers and a nicely(?) leaf-carpeted lawn.

...I now have five medium-sized piles of leaves and a cleared front yard. The side yard and back yard remain. (Yes, I am a miracle of personal industry and efficiency). I've also got a nice set of sore shoulder muscles, some very annoyed squirrels (who knew it was their lawn and their leaves?) and a fine collection of bagged leaves.

Alas, no open burning here in the city (don't miss the fire hazard but the scent of the smoke, that's a sad loss), so I relearned the ancient art of squishing leaves in the manner of traditional wine-making. I'm not sure which is more odd: climbing in a trashcan and dancing about, or the 8-to-1 reduction in volume that results!

The trees are all bare now; Broadripple is in Winter dress, grey and severe, trees witchy against the cloudy sky. Holiday lights stand out all the more against such a backdrop, pushing back at the dark.

That's us; that's civilization: a few colorful lights, brave against the night.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Today's Word

Is "Synthesneezer." I just made it up but I'll bet a nickle somebody at Blue Man Group is already tryin' to figure out how to make one.

Gotta go rake leaves, laters!