Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Next Day...

Indy Meetupdate, 23:44:00 later, anyway:

We're doing two. One small gathering this weekend, Sunday afternoon, 3:00 pm, Broadripple Brewpub. All bloggers and blogreaders invited!

The other one will be in June on a date and time TBD.

Indy Meetup, More

How does 11 May sound? Looks like it is either that or the 4th. (There's a faint possibility I could be involved in Big Doings at the Skunk Works 4 May, but it should be am-ish if it happens at all).

Geesh, it's late.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

You Go Grrl!

Barbie dolls are destroying Iran! Hoorray! Hurrah! Man, that'll pull our irons outta the fire.

...Just wait'll we start settin' up underground pork barbeque joints! An' American football games, too.

Indy Meetup

Somehow I have been declared Social Secretary of the Indy Meetup; just ask Tam.

Okay. It'll be on a Sunday afternoon or evening; the Skunk Works has me workin' Saturdays tfn.

Our choices include Broad Ripple Brewpub, Binkleys and The Aristocrat. I'm open to suggestions.

Neti, Neti, Nettttttie

Tam doesn't know it yet but, having awakened this morning to a degree of sinus blockage of which good taste bars further description, I went into the kitchen and semi-quietly used a field-expedient neti pot. (Improvised using a one-person teapot 'cos my real neti pot was packed up neatly last Fall and has not been seen or heard from since).

Guess who's going to be innocently putting that thing in the dishwasher later? --Hey, I rinsed it out with boiling water.

Heh heh heh. Having a sister my own age is way kewl.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Four Rules

There are four rules for safe gun-handling. Four. They all count, all the time.

We are all likely to violate one of them at least once. When ya do so, take yer correction and fly right. Whinging that, "It ain't loaded," does not count; even empty, it's loaded, 'cos you are no more perfect than anyone else. That goes double if someone handed it to ya an' you failed to check.

Hey, I know: let's ask the man who owns a gun store!

1. All guns are always loaded.
2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
3. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
4. Know your target, what's behind it, and what's next to it.

And once you've reached the point where you pick up an electric drillmotor* and your finger goes unthinkingly along the frame instead of onto the trigger? Don't relax; work harder on maintaining conscious awareness of what you are doing.

Hat tip to Say Uncle.
* I do not care how the hoi polloi say it, "drills" are the twisty-pointy things you put in the chuck of a hand drill -- powered or not -- or a drill press or even the tailstock of a lathe. Except when they are straight-flute types, but that's another subject. "Bits" have truncated tetrahedral shanks that fit braces or hexagonal ones that fit drivers/bitholders or cylindrical D-and-notch ones that fit Yankee screwdrivers, except for some antique types that use other tricks. Really. "Drill bit" is a horrid, horrid phrase that should be left out to rust.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Tam and I hit Boogie Burger as a weekend treat, then walked a quarter-mile down the Central Canal Towpath, from the start, past the turtle-threatening statue (I can't find any photos -- I shall snap one and post it, this construction cannot adequately be described), across the bowstring truss footbridge and back up Westfield boulevard to my car; a nice way to settle dinner, a chance for Tam to have a smoke and, well, it is Springtime, an encounter with small flying insects. Quite a few of them in the parking lot, and Tam dashed across to the car.

When I got in, reached over and unlocked the door, she climbed in and slammed it, saying, "I don't want any bugs to get in the car, I already inhaled some buggery!"

Long mutual what-did-I-just-hear/say look followed immediately by my "I call blog!"

Y'know, Broad Ripple's artsy and tolerant, but I really doubt there was any chance of that.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Working and Riding

Working today, thanks to some ongoing super-duper sekrit skunk-workery. Working the next several Saturdays, in fact, primary election week excluded. This is how we can know It Is Important. It's also a nice supplement to my income.

I'll still have a two-day weekend this time 'round thanks to our arcane vacation year. The "year" runs from the first of May to the last of April (something about a 500-mile race of some sort; used to be, none of us Skunk Workers could take any time off in May, ever) and I have about a day left to use up or lose, so it's, "Goodbye blue Monday!" ...After that, the six-day-week grind settles in. Oh well, every other Friday they hand me a nice chunk o'change for it.

I was able to ride every day this week, but got spooked by the forecast Wednesday and drove instead. Nice weather all day, of course. Then lit out for the department store (I was out of Lancome Dual-Finish Powder, which my skin loves) that evening on two wheels just in time to return home in a pouring rain. ...It turns out windscreens are not the best idea when it's raining solid sheets of water, by the way. Now I know!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Thank A Soldier

Thank several. Thank 'em all! Here's how. It's a simple sign gesture -- a word without sound.

As shy mumbler, this appeals to me greatly.

Thanks to Ride Fast!

Happy Birthday, Senatore Marconi

Born to wealth -- ever hear of Jameson's Irish Whiskey? The founder was his great-grandfather -- there was no particular reason for Guglielmo Marconi to ever actually do anything and as a child, he seemed headed for a life of genteel idleness; he wasn't much of a student, apart from a mild interest in physics and science generally.

That changed in 1894, when Heinrich Hertz died young. Hertz had remarked that his work with Maxwell's predicted electromagnetic radiation was "of no use whatsoever."

Young Marconi, not quite 20 years old, read the obits and was of a different opinion. In the later 1890s, it was "steamboat time" for wireless; all the components and basic notions were there for a working system, and somebody was going to be first.

He set to work in his attic and backyard and, eventually, had a working system. So much for the "idle rich!"

Marconi first approached the Italian government, patriotically feeling that the advantage such an advance in communications conferred should go to his own country. They turned him down -- quite flatly, by some accounts. He headed for Britain and the rest, as they say, is history.

There is no lack of controversy; Marconi was not an original researcher, rather a man who could discern what components of the state of the art were useful in a working system and get them to function together. Even the company he went on to found had a reputation for technological conservatism. And when Italy embraced the successful inventor of radio, his enthusiastic response included open support of the Fascists; Benny the Moose was his best man at his second marriage and designed his tomb when he died in 1937.

Still, the man who could put Maxwell's theories to work had admirable qualities as well as faults. His influence on subsequent major players in the radio business -- notably, RCA's David Sarnoff -- set the style and tone of the technology for decades to follow.

So, happy birthday, Senatore.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Yum, Flan!

Homemade, too. That is all.

Book Meme

Blame Squeaky.

The secondary terminal marked G of the transformer is connected to the grid of the first amplifying tube. The other secondary terminal marked F- is connected to the negative three-volt terminal of the "C" battery, so as to operate the tube on the steepest part of its characteristic curve as well as to conserve "B" battery. Note: The correct value of bias voltage for a particular tube is usually furnished by the manufacturer.

--George E. Sterling, The Radio Manual, second ed., 1929
A perfectly delightful book, by the way, chock-full of photos and drawings, with chapters for every phase of the radio art as it was known at the time.

Meme rules:
  1. Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. No cheating!
  2. Find page 123.
  3. Find the first five sentences.
  4. Post the next three sentences.
  5. Tag five people.

Okay, the next five bloggers who read this? Consider yourself tagged. Honor system. Leave a reply (with link or URL) to keep count.

Aw, Rats

I had a nifty post all worked up over a minor party endorsing a major one -- but it just won't gel without comin' off unfairly mean.

Sigh. Scruples can be soooo limiting!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Who Knew He Was Irish?/The Name Game

Stumbled across a supporter of the Hope and Change Senator from Illinois the other day, offering fulsome praise of his hero -- and spelling the gentleman's name "O'Bama" every time. Faith an' begorrah!

On a related topic, it was hardly fifteen minutes after I decrode* twisting candidate's names into more-or-less funny shapes that I came up with my first such. It has been itching at me ever since but didn't become irresistible until I realized they all could work the same way. Now that I can paint 'em all with the same neologistical brush:

It's some choice the major parties offer us for President; add each of their candidate's names to the nation and you've got your pick of "abomination," "raw damnation," or "machination!"

Y'know, some day I'm gonna get hit by a streetcar, tryin' to grab a weak pun somebody's dropped on the tracks....
*Past perfect of "decry," what? No? Drat!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Crime News

I. What's Wrong With This Headline dep't:
"Cops Shoot, Kill Man After Rampage" --Um, who exactly was rampaging? "Man on rampage shot and killed" might have done the trick, especially since the subhead told us, "...Police say man hurt 4 at apartments, then charged officers with knife;" so we would have been clear enough on who shot the man and that he was the rampager.

II. Until today, I was pretty certain all bank robbers were about equally stupid. Today, Joe Nitwit, The Criminal Mastermind Made Of Fail, ran into the bank shooting [UPDATE: nope, worse: he ran in, hopped the counter and shot the teller in the abdomen], wounded a teller pregnant with twins (late word was that she and the babies were expected to recover), got exactly nothing in the way of loot, and last I heard, was still on the lam. I would not give you a dime for this idiot's chances of being taken unhurt and furthermore, I'll feel a bit sorry if he isn't at least roughed up when they catch him.

III. Wonderful Headline dep't:
"Blind Homeowner Subdues Intruder" --This went down exactly as you'd think. It didn't hurt the blind guy's chances that 30 years ago he was a wresting champ and he's kept himself in decent shape; but he made his own luck and you've got to admire his grit. "...I had him pinned in the laundry room and just kept pummeling," is how he described quieting the 25 year old intruder. He kept that up 'til the intruder was under control enough he could grab him by his belt to the telephone. I suppose it would be wrong to tattoo "I was beat up by a blind man twice my age" on his forehead but I suspect the goblin rumor mill will mark him nearly as indelibly.


I swan, I must be low on serotonin or somethin'. A long while back, I was copin' with some intractable, chronic pain and among the various things they tried on me -- in the course of convincing me that our very cleverest medicine for managing long-term pain is about a subtle as a hammer and every bit as effective as a nice placebo -- among the "wonder drugs" was something that diddled with serotonin levels. I took the stuff as directed and after about half a day...I wasn't human any more. And neither were you, any of you. Just effin' machines. Annoying machines. Somewhere way down deep, some tiny little part of me was scared and screaming to get out, terrified I was stuck and lost forever.

It took about a week to stop taking the pills. 'Cos I was programmed to, and I thought if I kept on taking them, I'd stop being not-there and it would all be okay.

It wasn't, not until a couple of days after I finally threw the horrible thing out and swore to never take such a medication again, ever.

...And this evening, my knee is givin' me a lot of backtalk where I broke it, I'm tired and in those last few days before the paycheck hits when you've got bills stacked up but dassen't write a check and, I dunno. I'm just a little bit mechanical. Annoyingly so. And I really hate it.


With the arrival of warmer weather, I have been commuting more and more on my scooter. It calls for a much greater degree of involvement with the process than going to and from work in a car; alone on a very small machine, open to the elements, I become very aware of how thin the dividing line is between a nice ride and a scary one -- or worse. I find myself giving other traffic a wide berth and trying to see everywhere, deeply aware that I cannot.

Still, I would not trade it for anything. The critical difference between commuting on two wheels versus four? I'm outdoors. One gets a touch of this in a convertible as the scents of flower beds, newly-mown lawns and other, less-identifiable smells waft by but only on a scooter or cycle do you get boots on the ground at the stops. There are no walls between the rider and the world.

...And if I don't get in the shower right now, I may not have time to scoot!

Politix: They've Begun To Eat Eachother Up

Locally, the number of candidates for the U. S. House seat late and formerly ailing Julia Carson is little short of amazing'. I don't know if she made the job look like easy work, inspired others to aspire to high office, or if the Party machines have lost control of their more ambitious kids, but the primary line-up is interesting, from the "anointed" nephew" to a physician-cum-superhero (his most-run TV ad shows presents him as ubiquitous and all-wise, and soon to be all-powerful; he's even going to "clean up George Bush's mess" as a junior member of the junior house, presumably right down to the last grape-juice stain hidden by a table in the Oval Office), at least one pencil-necked geek, another doctor and a number of lesser lights as assorted as anything the comic books ever dreamed up.

In that race, the players will 'fess up which team they're on. The Governor's job is up for grabs, too and the one distinguishing feature all the ads share is, they don't admit to party affiliation. Perhaps there's a higher honesty in that, with one Democrat running on a "new jobs" platform and another boasting how she's never, ever (what, never?) voted to create or raise a tax; I can't but think that the inattentive are gonna be let down when they open up that Republican primary ballot and the no-new-taxes and pal-to-industry ghits aren't on it. Inevitably, these two have started to snipe and snipe mean; seems "Mr. NewJobs" designs schoolhouses and lobbies like mad to get taxes through to pay for 'em, while "Ms. NoTax" has, umm, not done a lot else, either. Or so they tell us of one another.

I haven't got a dog in that fight and happy not to. The more I see of the Representatives of the People, the more I'd like to see 'em chased outta town by dogs.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


...Unday, unday, undae...

Well, no hot-rod races but not so bad a day. Slept late, my own cookin' (bacon and egg sammiches, built on Tam's "everything" bagels), intarw3bbing, an' then...we gardened. Neither Tam nor I happen to be especially gifted that way but we do have high hopes.

We don't have to be all that good -- the front yard is alive with tiny violets and some nifty little while flowers; I shall be sorry to mow it. They appear to have strangled the dandelions, at least so far! (My sister-in-law thinks wild violets are a weed. Perhaps they are but I like 'em. Harmless little critters).

We cleared out the front flower beds, in which I have been keeping even more Autumn leaves and a fine assortment of fallen branches and twigs, broke the wood down to chiminea size, cultivated the dirt and planted Scotch Moss and an assortment of flowers and some catnip. We have a little herb patch in the back yard, with garlic and chives and some dill. Hoping to add cherry peppers, if we can find some starts. And we filled up another bag of dead leaves, hoping to sneak it into the trash.

That done, Tam set to write (see her blog!) and I bicycled over to the auto parts store, to pick up some carb cleaner for the Manco Matrex, a change of oil for the Chetak (1 quart of 15W40) and a quart for the Hot Needle of Inquiry, known to mere mortals as a Hyundai Accent and just the least bit thirsty for oil.

That done, I ran up to the market on the Chetak to warm it up, picked up some this and that (some of which I am enjoying now, boxed herb salad with plenty of dill and orange bell and Anaheim peppers diced in). It seems they are, after at least a dozen years, remodeling our neighborhood supermarket, one of the smallest outlets of a major chain. There's a new competitor slated to open up this June or July where the (greatly missed) Atlas market once stood, so perhaps that's put the fear into 'em. ...And it should; the new guys have built a huge building on a tiny lot, with parking atop the structure! Seems like they're in "take no prisoners" mode. Suits me; grocery competition hereabouts is as much about who can offer the widest variety as it is about prices, so it is us consumers who win whenever they do battle.

The scooter oil change was, well, a scooter oil change: cross lawnmower maintenance with watchmaking and there you are. The Chetak's not too awful to get to -- one pops off a fairing on the right side, unplugs the sparkplug wire, takes out a half-dozen bolts to remove the motor cover, and then carefully (aluminum block!) loosens and removes the drain plug, with a old cake pan to catch the used oil. With most of it drained, another plug-type bolt in the side of engine comes out and the plastic-mesh filter under it is cleaned. Next, the scary part: the oil goes in through a valve cover, a great big aluminum threaded thingie, sealed by an O-ring, that is very easy to crossthread. It comes out, drain plug and filter go back in, in goes a quart of oil (through a long funnel if one is as clumsy as me), the valve cover gets hand-threaded back in, everything gets reassembled and then, if you're me, there's a trip around the block and a check for leakage and oil level before putting the fairing back on. Whew! Looks okay so far. (The used oil goes back into the bottle the new oil came out of, though another funnel reserved for that purpose; it'll end up at a local oil-change joint. They get real irked any more if you use it to keep weeds out of the driveway...).

And that brings us to the supper mentioned above. Yum!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Food, Motorcycles, Delightfulness

I had to get some lab work done this morning, nothing special, just the usual "check the oil" thing. But one must, alas, fast prior to a lipids profile, so 'long about 1100, Yours Truly was feelin' a hankerin'.

Tam had not yet been to Taste (their website does not do the place justice -- read a few of the menus and weep for joy!), so I dragged her away from the keyboard, kicking and screaming ("Food? New place? Good? I'm there.") and off we went. Taste has been around a good many years, has a devoted customer base and has never failed to exceed my expectations -- just your little hole-in-the-wall gourmet breakfast and lunch place, suitable to Valhalla.

Vast cups of java -- free refills, a half-dozen varieties -- and a moderately long wait later (we brought books) , our omlettes arrived, puffed high and filled with Swiss cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, eggplant, mushrooms and bacon; on the side, perfectly seasoned small russet potatoes, cubed and fried, plus a couple strips of applewood-smoked bacon. Now that's how you break a fast! (And the fact that I eat oatmeal for brekky six days a week is why I don't blink at such indulgences, even in the face of laboratory analysis).

While we were sitting on the terrace, munchin' and readin' and playin' keepaway with the Vietnamese rooster sauce, another diner pulled up on a nice old BMW "Airhead" motorcycle. Not some resto' job, either, a well-loved bike in good workin' order, makin' the nice purry-rumbly sounds. Life's good!

Habig Garden Supply (home of the giant trowel) is right across College and had some interesting-looking plants. The store cat is another generation since my last visit but remains small, friendly and tri-colored. We picked up a gardener's claw,* a trowel and some plants and bulbs -- Scotch Moss and garlic, among others. (Count on it: Tam, given a chance to garden, will grow garlic. Can hot peppers be far behind?)

Well fed, supplied with green-thumbage, we decided to hit the market (Tam's still comin' to terms with Indiana's blue laws, which sharply limit the sales of beer, wine and the real stuff on Sunday) and found our way to Preston Safeway over by Butler University. Tam had never been there, either. It's a quirky place, aisles stacked 15' high, stocking every legume known to mankind, pickled anything, and a rather vast array of this and that, including various imported goodies. 'Twas there we found, at long last, caperberries! (The beer selection, a bit small and we'd've been better served checking out the liquor store across the way; but they do stock Tam's current "fallback" IPA and thus was tragedy averted).

On the way in, we spotted another classic-looking motorcycle, a Boxer of some sort with a nifty sidecar and on the back of the sidecar, a spare tire below an odd-lookin' rack. While circling this marvel and mystery at a respectful distance ("Look, it's got a hand shifter!" "H''mm, this is one of those Russian clones...."), the owner showed up, stowed his groceries, and beamed at us and his baby. "It's a real beauty!" We asked after the sidecar and he spoke of the very different feel of a sidecar rig, adding, " dog can ride along; my wife and I take it camping. We can even," and here, he pointed at the rack, "carry our bicycles." And so the riddle was solved. What a wonderful arrangement! (PS: WANT). A bit like this or these or this.

Recipe for a happy morning. It takes nothing at all away from it that I came home and promptly dozed off on the livin'-room futon.
* "Not the craw, the craw." Oh, never mind, ya bedarned sassenachae.

Strip-Mining The Sky

In a move sure to give the mud-hut contingent a near-fatal case of PSH's, a group at Los Alamos has issued a modest proposal to sieve CO2 from the sky, stir in a dollop of water, add electricity and hey-presto, complex hydrocarbons: fuel.* Fuel you can burn in your internal-combustion engine. No huge retooling of vehicles and infrastructure required. Your BMW airhead will lurve it.

The process does take rather copious amounts of electricity, for which a (booga-booga scarybad, PSHers. Ya wimps) dedicated fission plant is the ideal solution, especially since the cooling towers can incorporate the carbon dioxide scavenging system. And the fringe benefit is the whole thing is carbon-neutral at worst.

Ya wanna stop payin' neolithic goat-herders with a medieval social structure and a bad attitude towards Western Civilization for black goo to run your car? Here's how. And it beats the heck out of takin' my corn chips away, too.
* If you read Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars novels, you've already encountered a version of this neat trick. Here, Mars, pretty much all same either way.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Scooter Trash?

Tam tells the tale (go read it now) but I'll add my two cents: by dint of inspired whining ("Awww, I'll get it running! It'll be fun!") along with our mutual wanting to check out an interesting barbecue joint, I persuaded her to ride the tiny, modern-looking Manco Matrex scooter. 49cc of, well, like a chainsaw with wheels. A small chainsaw. A small chainsaw that came out of the Winter not idling and only barely starting.

Much fiddling with carburettor* adjustments later, it sort of runs but still won't idle and we set off -- me in jeans, jump boots, my 1930s-lookin' riding jacket and open-faced helmet on the large-ish Bajaj Chetak, a very classic-Vespa-looking 150cc machine with a big windscreen and her on the teeny psuedo-speedster in racing-type leathers -- at the top speed on the Matrex, about 30. I barely had the Chetak out of third the whole way, but considering the amount of foot traffic in Broad Ripple, perhaps that was just as well.

We were quite a sight! I'm gonna either have to get Teh Matrex running properly or wait 'til Tam finds a motorcycle she likes before we try it again.
* Almost everything I know about engines, I learned from British Leyland

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I mentioned Gerstner toolboxes awhile back and it was opined by others that they are too pricey and easily-harmed for a modern machine shop. Could be. New, they cost like unobtaniam, hen's-tooth grade.

Used, on auction sites, they're a bit more affordable. Mine even arrived with Machinery's Handbook in the special drawer at the center, for less than the cost of a new all-metal chest of like size:

The Gerstner is the fancy one at upper center, a generic import occupies the lower shelf. The perceptive observer will note my tool selection skews retro, including a set of late-19th century Jennings auger bits in the top section of the lower toolbox (wooden case at the left). They work as good as new!

The Bees Are Lazy

...I'm busier! Work work work, as some of the last parts of the more than a year long revamping of the warp core central switching, video storage and playback agglomeration at the Skunk Works click into place. Only it more like pushing shyly reluctant elephants uphill than "clicking into place." Either way, it is the home stretch and no time to yawn. Yah, Jumbo!

One Good Thing is the better weather, which let me ride my scooter to work yesterday and as long as I keep on sked this morning, I shall do so today, too. Even with our delightful (potholed) streets, two wheels are better than four.

The Political Commentary continues to write itself. An editorialist (Connie Schultz, Cleveland Plain Dealer) in today's paper quotes a small-town Ohio preacher on his parishioners: "...they wish there was a box on the ballot that said 'none of the above.' It's like walking into Baskin-Robbins and finding 31 flavors of vanilla." See? The People get it. Sadly, their leaders often don't; the preacher continues, "I try to get them to stop asking why.... I tell them the right question is, 'Who can provide the help?" Though he then goes on the question the validity of that answer, sighing, "We don't seem to have a lot of help these days." Umm, preacherman? Aside from, gee, I dunno, maybe your faith, there never was any "help;" that's not how it works in America. Perhaps you've confused our nation with some socialist backwater?

Somewhere In There is a posting on the growth of The Leader Principle in this country and why we ought to reject it with the contempt it deserves; that will be for another time. The shower beckons!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Dollar's Not Worth What It Was

...But it makes a fine canvas.

No, Obama

No one has yet bothered fisking the Obama quote. Too much like shooting fish in a punchbowl? Having already been gigged by a co-worker over it ("Well, isn't it the truth?" Um, no, but hey, enjoy the Kool-aide), I spose I might try:

...And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

"And it's not surprising then they get bitter,..." referring to the response of small-town American factory workers to hard times. So the Hope guy thinks "bitterness" rather than, I don't know, "hard work" or "moving on" is a proper response to hard times? --Look, when The Plant shuts down, you find other work. Or, hey, you starve. BTDT, lived on ramen and hot dogs, found another job.

"...they cling to..." Fascinating turn of phrase from a member of the board of the Joyce Foundation to disarm Americans; "Cling to" carries a very definite connotation of "just barely hanging on" and generally implies that loss of that which is being clung to is nearly inevitable and just about imminent. (Don't take my word, Google it and see) . So the list that follows are things he figures ought to be taken away:

"...cling to guns..." Funny, that: I always thought the Second Amendment was there telling Government to back off so I would not have to "cling" to my guns. Who would be trying to take them away? --Oh, right: Senator Obama's peers and pals at the Joyce Foundation. Them. While normally here in The Heartland we regard firearms as being high on the list of things you can reliably pawn when the rent comes due, as long as the Joyces are on the job, I'll be clingin'. Not 'cos times are bad but because they are a-grabbin'.

"...or religion..." First Amendment, Senator? Remember? It's part of those funny, musty old papers, the thoughts recorded upon which you swore an oath to "support and defend." Did you read them, sir? Do you believe it applies to any church other than the one to which you belong? Or have you simply internalized Marxist hostility to religion without stopping to apply it to your own life as well? --I'm pretty tone-deaf to religious sentiments but even I can appreciate their importance; one might think a U. S. Senator and proud church-goer would have an even better grasp. ...And about that church you attend:

"...or antipathy toward people who aren't like them..." Pot. Kettle. Goin' to services at a church where the preacher thunders out his loathing for "white America" and calls down the curses of his G-d on this nation (while the Senator pretends, with blinking innocence, not to have noticed) and you've got the gall to accuse small-town America of racism? It's 2008, Senator; we may not have stopped being suspicious of one another over skin color but the vast majority of people are willin' to make an effort as long as the other person is, too; and by and large, that's what we're all doin'. A quick smile and a "how do" goes a long way -- a lot farther than bloviating from the pulpit on what a horrrrrrible place the States are, especially if you are a person of color. (Quick, gang, here's a pop quiz: standard of living in the US vs. standard of living in Africa for persons of African descent in both places, which one is higher? Don't forget to include the better-off countries). There may be a log in my eye, Senator, but you'll have to get the one out of yours before you can go after it. At least I'm tryin'.

"...or anti-immigrant sentiment..." Orly? Srsly? Like my German g'grandparents faced? 'Cos they came into the country legally. That's what immigrants do. I do b'lieve you're using a codeword and actually referring to illegal entrants to the United States. See, those people in small towns, the mostly pale ones at whom you have sneered, their ancestors are not from here. They are the descendants of immigrants. Legal immigrants. Who learned the language of their adopted country. And they're kind of wondering why people who want to be called "immigrants" now can't be bothered to follow the law or learn the lingo. They're a bit resentful of that. Y'know, in sort of the same way as your preacher?

"...anti-trade sentiment..." You mean, like when they buy imported Chinese goods at the five and dime, or were you referring to the Japanese, Korean and European cars many of them buy? Or might you have meant the wholesale export of their jobs to other countries, thanks in large part to the excessive regulation and extraordinary empowerment of unions pushed by the Left? Karma's a stone beeyotch, ain't it?

Thanks for the blog-fodder, Senator, and thanks for unfurling your true flag: the politics of resentment and class-war. The politics of sneering elitism.

Y'know, the Democrats used to at least pretend to be in touch. It's not so much that the gloves are off as the mask has slipped.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Al, You Promised

How 'bout that global warming?
Hunh? How about it? Please? Soon?
Or at least localized warming, anyway.

"It" Again?

Not only is my choice of coffee service "mocked" ;) (fine, so I am that girly, Tam -- and when did you buy your Unimat and load your better small hand-tools into your Gerstner Machinist's Chest?), I've also been tagged with a meme.

Since it was from Plegmmie, one of the kewlest gurrls in the entire school (see photo for a few of the Gifts of the Phlegm-i), I'm goin' along, mostly.

Link meme rules:

1. Must be clean, no R rated material.
2. Tell 5 people.

If you have read this, consider yourself told. The judges will also accept "pwned."
3. Only 5 links allowed. You can link to business, favorite, affiliate sites, etc.
  1. SpaceX Delos D. Harriman, eat your heart out. These kids are goin' to orbit for money. Carryin' passengers.
  2. Guy Lautard, the real reason we keep Canada around. I want "The Machinist's Bedside Companion" for my birthday! ...At least one volume.
  3. Nixie tubes, baby!. They're kewl!
  4. Two words: Emma Clarke. Go. Listen. The London Subway gonifs fired her over this.
  5. I'm torn! Old radios or neat-o toolstore? H'mmm. Radios later, a recurring theme; for now, look around Lee Valley for tools, incredibly wonderful hardware -- Tansu blivits! Repro Victorian hardware! Yankee screwdrivers (made by Japan's Vessel tools and yet some claim irony is dead)! -- and gardening niftiness, too.
4. Link back to the person who tagged you.

And there you have it. Try it, if you'd like.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

"Hello? Safety Committee?"

Does that seem right to you?

At least it's not a table saw.

I'm So Proud?

Yes. It was the Carpetbagger Senator from New York. Who was very much herself: late to arrive, polished, professional, strident, and puffed full of The Wonders of Big Government and What It Can Do To For You.

This is a message that plays very well indeed at a plant making tank transmissions. Especially one that almost got closed 'cos, you know, the Cold War was over an' The Experts were all sayin' the nation didn't need tanks so very much. (Ooops. Who knew?). To her credit, Senator Clinton delivered her message well and comes off much more likable in person. If one happens to be the sort of person that looks on a speech about restraint of trade and the creation of jobs by the Federal Government in the very same way that Garet Garret regarded the New Deal, perhaps not such a success; but that individual was a part of the journalistic machinery and not the intended audience.

Security at these events would make fascinating reading -- if I were to write about it. I will not. Suffice to say that my "sanitized" purse worked fine and that by the time the candidate arrived, they had the place buttoned up; once things start, you may leave the venue but you're not gettin' back in 'til it is all over.

In another city, the Other Socialist Candidate was speaking. If the Fairness Doctrine were in place, I'd mention him by State, too. Television coverage picked up the remarks of a local politico introducing him to the crowd of mainly college students, something along the lines of, "...and the values this man practices away from publicity are the values he would bring to the White House...." Er, Mister? That's what I feared.

All-in-all, were it not for the time-and-a-half, I would just as soon have stood in bed. But hey -- it paid for my income-tax accountant's fees in one day. (H'mm, and if we had less government, I might not need his services... See what happens when Gummit becomes overly large?)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Just A Hewer Of Wood And A Drawer Of Video Cable

...I am half-autistic from long hours and scant sleep (not to mention a hasty trip to Mr. Tax Expert, CPA that left my head buzzin'. $2K in medical, $5K in real-estate tax, $4K this and that and he still isn't sure I won't end up owing? ) but I just gotta share it: assuming the giggling geniuses in the Newsroom can figure out what time I have to be where, I will have the perfectly awesome experience of being the technoid-on-the-scene for coverage of the appearance of A Presidential Candidate here in the Circle City. And by "perfectly awesome," I mean of course, utterly sucky except for the overtime and totally lacking in potty breaks. You'll have to guess which candidate it'll be; we'll have two in town.

One of the best parts of this is, well, gee, kids, while I have sworn a solemn oath to not violate Company policy by carryin' a sidearm to work, not ever, and won't even say the word in a company vehicle, I do in fact routinely carry all manner of sharp, pointy and/or unwelcome-in-some-venues instruments on my person, from a 4" Kershaw one-hand opener to a Japanese carpenter's knife to tiny folding scissors and something they found when last I visited the City-County Building, a handcuff key. (unh, "oopsie?" Gift from an old friend; it's not current issue). These things would be no-nos when stringing wires or even only gawking where a Presidential Candidate will be and the deal is, it would take a very long time to dig the last mini-Leatherman, hair clippie, "green tweaker" screwdriver and nail-file out of my purse; even though I am myself as innocent of ill intent as a baby and as harmless to the merely loudmouthed as a kitten (who'd want to stop the Parade of Pandering to the Masses when it's this idiotically snickersome?), I'm just gonna have to gin up a "sanitized" purse with darn-all in it save phone, basic keys, a hankie and pocketbook and lock my real one up back at the shop. Sheeeeeesh.

Still, it beats bein' tackled to the ground by humorless Secret Service d00ds. On duty, they get noids by the dozen rather than the pair.

Oh, yeah: welcome t'th Free World. Same as th' Old World. Just about. Happy voting!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ooooh, Noes!

Is the North doomed? A chance mention of Virginia Tech's status as one of only six "Senior Military Colleges" in the United States led me to the discovery the only one of them is North of the Mason-Dixon line.

The four service academies are all North of the line, however, the U. S. Coast Guard doesn't have an ROTC program (only JROTC), so perhaps the balance is better than it looks at first glance.

...Of course, if there's ever an East/West split, the West's only going to have Texas A&M and the USAF Academy....

Food for thought or the random musings of a late night?

(PS: Remember, Bill Gates might not have The Bomb, but he can afford to rent one any time he likes).

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

This Just In

Please note the highlighted text as well as the story itself:

The following exchange between atheist activist Rob Sherman of Buffalo Grove and Ill. Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) took place Wednesday afternoon in the General Assembly as Sherman testified before the House State Government Administration Committee.
[...C]onsider what the outcry would have been if a lawmaker had launched a similar attack on the beliefs of a religious person.

Davis: I don’t know what you have against God, but some of us don’t have much against him. We look forward to him and his blessings. And it’s really a tragedy -- it’s tragic -- when a person who is engaged in anything related to God, they want to fight. They want to fight prayer in school. I don’t see you (Sherman) fighting guns in school. You know? I’m trying to understand the philosophy that you want to spread in the state of Illinois. This is the Land of Lincoln. This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God, where people believe in protecting their children.… What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous, it’s dangerous--

Sherman: What’s dangerous, ma’am?

Davis: It’s dangerous to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! Now you will go to court to fight kids to have the opportunity to be quiet for a minute. But damn if you’ll go to [court] to fight for them to keep guns out of their hands. I am fed up! Get out of that seat!

Sherman: Thank you for sharing your perspective with me, and I’m sure that if this matter does go to court---

Davis: You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.

Sherman didn't budge, continued his testimony related to Gov. Rod Blagojevich's oddly misdirected $1 million grant intended for Pilgrim Baptist Church, (story) and later told me he "felt like Rosa Parks."

Funny thing, most places that mentioned this story didn't mention about those eeeeevil g-u-n-s. 'Cos religion, hey, that's fair game; but guns? Ew.

I have always figured freedom of religion included those folks who have none at all. The issue can be pushed too far on either side and it frequently is; but lawmakers telling citizens their views ought to be quashed is plain wrong.

Story found here via some gunblogger links. I was only going to comment on the high-handedness of lawmakers, until I got to the transcript and found Authorized Journalists enabling hoplophobia (or at least sweeping it under the rug) yet again.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

And He'll Cure Yaws, Too*

A local candidate for Congress, who has clearly taken his Superman Underroos too much to heart, is running ads promising the sun and moon in his freshman term -- he'll bring back jobs, "Roll back the economic policies of the Bush Adminstration," (tax us harder and longer, I think he meant to say) and best of all, to "Bring home the troops from Iraq and stop the violence on our streets." Umm, d00d? It don't work that way. Have you read the Constitution of the United States of America as amended along with some basic Federal law? Did you pay attention in Civics class or did you just skim the Cliffs Notes version?

The fellow is an M.D., to boot. How long is it been since our medical schools started handing out G.O.D. degrees to the really brightest graduates?
Y'don't say.

"Posse Comitatus Act." Geez-o-pete.
* G'wan, ask.


Oh, wait -- they spell it "Sucketh," don't they?

This 4:30 ayem - early peeyem stuff is wretched. Sure will be glad when it is over. That is all.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Pyrophobia, PSH and "Eww, We Don't Know Enough."

They're at it again. Y'know why you can't lease a hunting-lodge on Mars* right now? 'Cos of scary, terribilifyin' cosmic rays. See, they're like radioactive an' stuff, and accordin' to space biologists, space biology has not been given enough money to understand why and how. Why, we're relyin' on studies of atom-bomb victims, they complain. Besides: radiation. Ewww!

I'm not sure exactly how they plan to fix this by tossin' money at it. Hire winos to get irradiated? And we have a well-documented pool of experimental animals that have been out where the van Allens chill out; you may remember them as Lunar Astronauts. Surely they'd volunteer to have their medical records peeked at? A good many are former .mil, so odds are good Uncle Sam has already got their records, for no additional cost.

So-called "Cosmic Rays" are spooky: energetic particles that go zipping along and will crash right through you, leaving a tiny path of destruction, but they're not fundamentally different from the Earthbound versions. We know what they do; we know what the risks are. Spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt in a lunge for more slops from the public trough is reprehensible. Waving the "Ew, radiation" flag over it is yet another example of the fear of fire L. Neil Smith points out is a common thread in foes of firearms, internal combustion, nuclear power and smoking.

Dang, what're they gonna do when they learn the Russians have had guns, nuke plants and smoking areas on their space stations?

Much more of this and I'm gonna suggest learning Mandarin if you hope to ever visit Mars. Oh, and getting realllll comfy with Maoism and Great Leaps Forward. Or maybe Russian; they seem to understand that with progress comes risk and if they can figure out the funding, they'll give it a try.

The only way "we" are ever going to "know enough" is by going and doing. Trying to Nerf the universe is a prescription for failure.

Dark thoughts on a dark night. I've got to pull an early morning shift at the Skunk Works and it's got me simply thrilled.

* The planet's likely lifeless, you say? My fave sort of hunting: tramping about in the rough with a gun an' not havin' to dress and clean nothin'. Besides, what if there's rocklizards?

Charlton Heston (October 4, 1924 – April 5, 2008)

Born John Charles Carter, well after the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel that forever associated "John Carter" with derring-do, Charlton Heston might have been born to play heroic roles -- and at 6' 3", with rugged features and a marvelous physique, he certainly grew up to play them.

The Wikipedia biography covers his complex and fascinating life in greater detail than I could manage. He left no doubt where he stood; his opinions clearly changed over time but he was never secretive or coy about them. He stood by his friends. And unlike many actors away from script and set, he was well-spoken and thoughtful.

He will be missed.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


Yes! Today's the first day in a long while that we've had the weather and I've had the time -- fired up the bicycle: two wheels, human-powered, farthest-from-the-pavement seat of any vehicle I own 'cos a way lot of me is leg an' legs gotta have room t'work! (Seriously, my bike is green and silver -- yes, Squeaky, lime-green -- and has the biggest wheels on the largest women's frame made. This keeps my knees from endangering my chin and allows me to not exceed the handlebar and seat-post height limit, which I had to on my old one).

And work my legs did.

...Up to a blistering 13.5 em-pee-aitch on the nicely-paved Monon Trail. First ride of the year (and the second, too, after lunch. Even met and petted a little playful longhaired tiger cat named Sophie at 61st St.), the front wheel's all wobbly, et-excuses-cetera.

Still, I got out and rode. Makes me feel all healthful an' virtuous and better yet, it does seem to get the circulation going.

Motorcycling tomorrow!


Or maybe Der Tag, a term the use of which Tam assures me will magnetimagically snarf up all the whackjobs of a certain bent. (One is reminded of Rowan Atkinson as the Devil welcoming new arrivals to Hell: "...The French -- are the French here? Good, good. And are the neo-N--" Well, he doesn't say that, he's British and looking to history; but I'm sure they'd be there too, probably grouped with the lawyers.

Where was I? Oh, yes, the tag! That.

Less tagged me with this:
1. Write your own six word memoire.
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you want.
3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere.
4. Tag at least five more blogs with links.
5. Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play....

1. Hyperactive radiowoman shoots, writes, vexes ijits.

2. Here. (Not sure what blood oranges, hot sauce, a cellphone and an Elizabeth Moon novel have to do with it but hey, "vivid" I got),

3. A) See above, B) Farthest-back link I can find is here.

4. Tam (her second), Carteach0, BobG, Phlegmmie, Earth-Bound Misfit.

5. As time permits.

Friday, April 04, 2008


...I have been tagged with a meme. As happens, I am right now a little over halfway through working 2.5 shifts in two days with insufficient sleep, and as satisifying the geas* requires tagging several others (hide now. You have been warned), I've not had a chance to do so. Startin' ta itch me.
* Look it up!

I'm Pretty Sure Someone's Being Insulted Here

It's the anniversary of MLK's assassination. While most of his political views were worlds away from my own -- at least I agree on the importance of judging people on their own merits and not their genetic heritage -- no one bein' peaceably political, indeed, no one not presenting an immediate physical threat to others, deserves to be shot down. Dr. King was the victim but a degree of civility was lost as well.

On that very day, Robert Kennedy spoke in Indianapolis, and addressed the news. Local media delights in pointin' out how, on that day, Indianapolis had no riots. Peace was maintained. --Probably barely but it was. Okay; that's a good thing. And there were riots in some other cities. Not all, but some.

On the other hand, I'm not so sure we should hand quite so much glory to any politician. It seems to me that level-headed individuals of every color were the folks who made the difference that day. To assume that lacking the blandishments of one of our Great Leaders the streets would have run red with blood is to give ordinary people far too little credit. It is an essentially racist belief based in speculation.

Choose your myths carefully.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Cutting Off Your Wings To Spite Your Culture?

Indianapolis-based ATA Airlines has gone belly-up. Parked the planes and sent everyone home. News reports cite record fuel prices and loss of military charter business but I’m wondering, too, at the additional ongoing impact of TSA’s let’s-make-air-travel-inconvenient policies security theatre. Certainly it has made me far less likely to take commercial flights.

Well, that’s one way to fix the highjacking problem we’re not having: run all the airlines outta business. That’ll show those evildoers!

Won’t it?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Social Whirl

Yesterday noon, Tam and I enjoyed a delightful lunch with Alan of Snarky Bytes (The father of the Annotated Future -- optics + GPS = informational popups!). He's a fascinating conversationalist with an interesting career and hobbies. I was sorry not to have more time to spend.

It's been a busy couple of days -- we'd met a reader of both our blogs at Broadripple Brewpub the evening before and he, too, was an intelligent gentleman with a unique perspective on world events.

I've noticed a number of shared interests and habits in many gunbloggers/readers. We tend to self-select, so it's not unexpected but it is interesting.
Partial list:
- Fond of spicy food
- coffee/caffiene
- chocolate
- Science Fiction
- Military History (and related historical fiction)
- Own an unsual amount of books in the previous two categories and many more; will pretty much read everything within reach.
- "They all carry knives" IMO, that's just practical good sense, though as a group, we seem to tend to unusual and/or high-quality steel.
- Eclectic taste in music
- motorcycling (et vehicular cetera)
- a tendency to "do the homework:" read manuals, get training, learn from others.

Could be my results are skewed by sample size.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Like An ATM For Lowlives*

A few years back, they put in a Starbucks at College Ave. and Fall Creek Parkway. It's a hardscrabble kind of neighborhood, caught between gentrification a couple blocks South side of Fall Creek and the slow, inexorable growth of Broad Ripple (Actually, SoBro, the Southern boundary of Broad Ripple being either Kessler or 54th St., depending on who you ask).

Fine, fine, there was a lot of blather about revitalization, nobody forced Starbucks to open up at that location, there's plenty of traffic and it's got a drive-through so commuting yuppies can feel all nice about helpin' the poooor without having to so much as set foot on the ground. Good for them and no bother to me, since I won't drink Starbucks brew. (I drink coffee, not bizarre concoctions frothed up in a machine, flavored with heaven-only-knows and served hot enough to parboil a mouse).

As inevitably happens when you go to a tough neighborhood and put up a nice shiny whatever patronized by yuppies and other outsiders, the place got robbed last night. Local television news is expressing great outrage of the "how dare they" sort, cloaked in a thin veil of suburban we-tried-to-help-them amazement.

...Grow up, vid-kids. Most of the people in that neighborhood are nice, law-abiding folks; perhaps reticent with outsiders but having lived in like areas, I know it's not without reason: the suit'n'tie on a Lexus is like as not to be shoppin' for dope or what is politely referred to (listen up, politicians) as a "date," quotes and all.

Most people everywhere are good and decent. And some are not. When a nice, shiny business shows up amidst the downtrodden, not everyone there will react to the opportunity thus offered in quite the same way; not everyone will welcome it with open arms and some few will look on it in the same manner that a small boy looks at a cookie jar. And with the same end result.

What's surprising is that this surprises anyone.

Thanks for linky-love! ...Seems a blog about "neighborliness" (as defined, established and policed by large committees in our metropoli, well-known havens of the open hand, friendly smile and cheerful lending of a cup'a sugar) has cited the media coverage as an example of reactionary badness. Initially I took umbrage, thinkin' my (snarky) take was being looked down upon; the blog's owner says au contraire, 'twas not the case. Okay; thanks for taking the time to explain.
* Tam's title. I offered to not use it but she threatened to cry have the cats throttle me in my sleep. Gonna hafta get her to take her own temperature -- I fear she's come over all altruistic or somethin'.