Saturday, May 31, 2008
Now, the word I had in mind was "crocodile" and the precise substance and usage you would not believe; but Tam, perhaps havin' seen too much and too great a cross-section of humanity in her most recent trip to the beer store, interrupted:
R: "The ancient Egyptians used cro-"
T: "-crotch crickets?"
R: "-for pets!" (giggling)
T: "No, for money. That Achmed, he's really loaded-"(snickering)
R: "-just lookit him itch!" Hey, that's where we get the slang for money, y'know, broke: 'Haven't got the scratch...'"
Peals of helpless laughter. We are soooo mature.
And so it did -- but not merely a flood, never so easy as that.
But let me start at the beginning; the sun set Friday with a more than certain chance of thunderstorms, high winds and heavy rains. It being the week between paychecks for me (and the weeks between for Miss Tam, her various ventures paying off less frequently than my fixing of stardrives), I'd made a quick run to Thai Cafe Broadripple for tasty, affordable dinner (btw, go there if you're in town, the food is wondrous and the owner's One Of Us) and got back not too long before the rain.
And what a storm! The sky strobed, lit more often than dark; the rain absolutely roared down in solid walls of water, shaking the ground, the street and then the sidewalk flooded and ran with a visible current; it poured, the lights flicker and steadied, the rain would slacken and resume, the wind sent the trees cage-dancing on their roots, tossed their limbs, the lights dimmed... And eventually, it slowed and we stopped standing on the front porch, gawping at the Nature's Wonders like goldfish.
I thought about the laundry I hadn't done and it ocurred to me to wonder how much water was in the basement. It does leak a bit, especially after heavy rainfall. Clomp through the house, basement door, not smellin' so nice, do I hear water drippin', lightswitch, click-- Oh, my.
A puddle of thick, vile-scented, grey-brown goop fills the center of the floor; over against the wall, the old, square laundry sink is brim-full of nastiness and dripping over, the red wool blanket I'd folded there soaked grey; clear water is running in from at least one far corner. The rain has stopped but the sewer backup isn't stopping.
Tam and I rescued the few things that were in danger of being flooded out and moved others farther away. I looked around for bleach, found none and made An Executive Decision.
Note to self: ease up on the Executive Decisions, especially after a long and stressful day.
"I'll get over the the 24-Hour Supermarket and pick up some bleach'n'stuff so we can at least disinfect this awfulness some," I announce.
"Is that a good idea?" Tam asks; she'll have cause to remind me of this query later but will refrain.
"Sure. Storm's over, it's not that far."
...So I hop into the Hot Needle Of Inquiry II, brolly in hand and a bigger flashlight than usual in my purse, and trundle myself off storewards. H'mm. Lotta limbs down. Out onto the major street -- a way lot of limbs down. Standin' water along the curbs here, better check the radio, tune, fumble... The car slows. And there are splashy noises.
Miss Alert peers out at the vast puddle covering the street, decides she's past the halfway point and keeps goin'. The car staggers a bit and lurches out. This would have been a good place to stop, but did I?
Oh, hells no. Excelsior! I muddle through. And thus another half mile, another deeply flooded section of road upon which I realize about a third of the way in I Am A Gone Goose, downshift, laboriously chug my way forward to a parking lot, out and up among a handful of other cars at an awkward angle, stopped by one of those concrete parking-space stoppers that must have been shifted in a heavy current.
It's high (but not dry) now and I'm blocking any other dizzy optimists seeking relief, so after a quick call home to admit to being stuck ("The lights just went out," Tam reports, "and I have got to get some sleep if I'm going to work the gun show tomorrow."), I hop out, squat inelegantly down, and manage to lug the heavy thing over far enough to get my little car past to a higher spot and leave room for others. It starts to rain again and I end up thoroughly soaked. I grab my umbrella withal and take a quite look around. Strolling towards the back of the building I found myself in front of and past yet another strandee, the driver asks out her open window, "Y'okay?"
"Yep. I'm lookin' to see if there's a way down to the big parkin' lot," I say
"I drove over that way but I couldn't tell, the water is so high."
I walked on over and read a pull-out in the lay of the blacktop. Sure enough, the new waters were lapping along the very edge of the lot. The crown of the street is under water and there's a discernible current. The flashlight reveals at least two feet of very clear water at the lot exit and I'm not eager to check for depth with my hand.
Walked back by the friendly motorist, telling her, "There's an exit but the water's way high." Got back to my car and looked in the direction I'd been headin'. That river part of tthe street runs for at least another block and folks on the patio of a bar across the way are cheerin' at SUVs that attempt the fording; most give up and pull off to higher parking lots on each side, accompanied by derisive laughter. A couple of blocks away, the Steak'N'Shake is all lit up and, soaked as I am, looks inviting. Back the way I'd come, the water over the road is even higher and a couple of sedans are halted right out in it, blinkers on and faint mists of steam rising. Looks like it's going to be a long, wet slog if I'm to sleep in my own bed tonight.
Might as well have a cuppa' first. The rain's been alternating drizzle and serious stuff but lightning flashes to the North and West are promising another go-round. I set my course and slog out, though parking lots and along high grassy berms.
A couple of cups of coffee, an investigation of the games I'd never noticed before on my celphone and ninety minutes later, another bit of storm has come and gone, this one with beautifully limned lightning strikes out the diner's big windows. They'd be prettier without the lights and compressors dimmin' an' slowing each time, I think. Paid my bill and headed out. Every few minutes, a fire truck or ambulance or police car goes screaming and blinking up the cross street; I notice it but don't think much of it. These things happen when it storms.
Squishing back to my car, a guy wades over from the bar, retrieves a bicycle leaned against the fence and carries it past me, sayin' "Some weather, lady!" as he goes by. Yeah, some weather all right.
I checked the exit I'd scouted earlier. That street's mostly clear now, maybe a foot of water at the gutters, looks clear down into the big lot and out to the cross street. The way I came in is still flooded, deep. Told my friend, who opts to stay put. Got back into my car and tried.
Made it, car's not too happy, out onto the cross street and it's not got much power; I'm not going to try for the supermarket. Another fire truck clangs by as I get out of the way; up a half-mile, there's a lot of red blue and white lights. Closer still, an IMPD cruiser sits across the road, tired-lookin' officer waving me to turn aside; I pull a U through a scary-deep patch of water and head back. Car's smellin' funny and has even less power. Uh-oh.
Into a different bar's lot, pop the hood. Huh. No smell, nothing too much out of place. Sat and thought, started up and headed back to the street I came across on. Turned onto it, then into the parking lot across from where I had been, parked. Water's a lot lower, still too high, but it looks as if on this side I can bypass it through connected parking lots, braving only one short, shallow bit. There's still the new-made pond farther down the road, but hey, I'd be that much closer to home and the car seems a bit happier. Maybe.
Got back in and tried, made it, bypassed the deeps (which had by then taken a third victim and those cars are gonna need drained out after). My car's still pretty puny and I don't push it. Stop sign. The next puddle. Stopped. Looked. Thought. --Damage, if any, is done; so I chanced and won through (much shallower now) and only had to dodge a cover of fallen limbs the rest of the way home.
Lights still out. Had to park in back and walk around, came in the front door, "Tam, it's me."
"Whazza? Oh, okayyyyyzzezzzzz," and back asleep.
I stumbled off to my own bed and fell like a bat into a cave, stirring not and oblivious until I woke to sounds of sudden motion and a semi-stifled "Shsssst!" from the next room. Looked at the clock, nothing. Power's still off. Checked my wristwatch: Tam had about a half-hour to get civilized and get to the gun show, I thought, and fell back to sleep.
* * * * * * * *
Tam woke me on her way out and together we got the garage door open (easier than we expected). I got cleaned up hastily and headed out to the store (remember the basement? I checked. The yeggggh level is down but what's left behind is.... Shuddersome). Power still out.
And still out around the neighborhood. Including traffic lights. Ah, but my car is running better.
I got honked at and nearly rear-ended by a genius who has figured out that when the stoplights are out, she has the right-of-way. Er, no. A unlit stoplight is a four-way stop. Always. Whenever. And this particular hand-gesture is, I believe, widely known and well-understood here in the States, ya witling.
Funny, she seemed to do the right thing at the next light, perhaps because I managed it somewhat obviously. Yes, what a triumph, I have successfully manipulated an idiot! Well, it's the small things that we cherish, no?
Karma's stone mean: my neighborhood supermarket is also clean out of Mr. Tesla's electric fluid an' has a biggo CLOSED Sorry sign on the door. Onward to the 24-Hour Wondermart, dark lights all the way but -- Wondermart indeed! -- they have not been disAMORCed. (A genny? Yes, says the checker, but it's not running). Bleach, buckets and this and that later, I made my way back home, still dodging downed limbs. Really shoulda bought vinegar, too.
Three hours of sloshing, mopping, carrying, feeling dizzy and goin' for air, over and and over again, the basement floor has been mostly mopped down with 25% bleach water, the semi-solids picked up, its been rinsed and washed down with 10% vinegar water and the power is still out. I can't tell if the pilot's lit on the water heater or not; it shuts off the gas if it goes out. Even with windows, it's dark down there.
Gave up on the gun show and took a nap. The lights came back on once and went out, came back on again an hour later and that was an hour ago. They've gone out once while I was writing, for a minute or so. Power & Light says, "Don't count on havin' power for sure 'til late Monday. " They had 70K users down after the storm went through and have about half of them -- the easy half -- back on. One of my neighbors up the alley has their power drop down with most of a tree on it; that was probably what caused the first up-and-down when P&L got our part of the grid back up but I have not gone back to look. Sirens still wail in the distance every couple of minutes.
P.S.: As I was mopping up, well, let's not think about just what, I found a half-full gallon container of bleach tucked into a dark corner. Oh yeah.
So that's how my weekend's gone. How's yours?
Friday, May 30, 2008
1. Pacing: it is important when speaking. Got a real nice language here, please try t'not mess it up. (Ummm, I might not be th'best of examples in this regard).
2. Look, more than one guy with twice the usual number of arms comes into the bank an' asks to withdraw what's not theirs, I'd be kinda fretful. It seems like more might be afoot than mere asymmetrical entrepreneurial endeavors. Just sayin'.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Could it be that I'm finally growing up? Aw, pshaw!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Update: No, but Jeremy Sisto certainly sounds like him and could pass for a son or younger brother.
Also seen in SK, the actress who played cheerfully amoral Daisy Adair in the series Dead Like Me.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Like many holidays, the outward expression of this one's become phatic, stylized, cut off from the thought and meaning that should inform the act. Flying your flag at half-mast, setting flowers on soldier and sailor's graves, these are fine ways to show those around you that you can comprehend the fine-print notations on a calendar -- but what did you think about?
A holiday is a day away from work (for many) for a reason and that reason is not only to make the proper Ritual Grimaces; it is a time away, a time to set down your tools and your habits and consider your world and how it got the way it is. Men and women were maimed and died to build it; some willingly, in deeds of classical heroism, some flung from a sound sleep, some weeping.... But they all paid in blood and gave you your chance. Take time to remember and honor them -- and take time to consider what you have done and will do with their gift.
Update: Most bloggers say "Remember" for today. Yes and indeed -- but if remembering is your only thought, if empty gestures (or none at all) your only action, you might as well have slept all day. You're gettin' a day outside the usual for this. Some other citizen got a mouthful of blood and an early ticket out, spare a thought; spare a kind word; stand up for something or somebody, don't throw it away.
1. I shall no doubt be pilloried in print for it but some years ago I chose to fly only the Gadsden flag. If ever Constitutional government is restored in the States, I shall consider re-adopting the Stars and Stripes for display on days of signficance.
2. Ambulance Driver says it so much better than I.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Everyone encounters different items in any hobby or line of work. Wide-ranging experts (Tam) are few and far between.
Sometimes even they have to stop and ponder. That's when it's better to be lucky than smart:
Over at Say Uncle, Unk's linked to a mystery gun. Tam was having one of those it's-right-on-the-tip-of-my-tongue moments, identifying the design antecedents of the gun; I took one look and muttered, "It's a Star, Model F, I have one a lot like it..."
Quick trip to the safe and I've actually got two; one's an FR, (which I suspect is the "mystery" model) and the other, older, is a plain F. Very nice little .22 target pistols from a decent Spanish gunmaker.
Interestingly, while the artwork on the box shows the FR's bell-shaped barrel housing, it omits the slide stop notch.
I'm not sure about Blue Book on these but I paid just over $100 for each.
PS: The Beeb's article seems to imply the gun in their picture is a Kel-Tec. Sloppy, sloppy. It's called Google, Auntie. It's called Wikipedia. Give them a go!
PPS: Commenter-d00d, they are not toys. Kinda cute, true.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Dr. Garen Wintemute, director of the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program, found in observing 28 gun shows in five states that one-third to one-half of the sales at gun shows were by unlicensed dealers who did not have to run criminal background checks on the buyers.How's that again?
Estimates by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., Congress' main gun control advocate, confirm that about one-third of the dealers at gun shows are unlicensed sellers.
Dr. Wintemute's "methodology" -- walking through a gun show and making ill-informed guesses -- has been discredited already and in the next paragraph, we are treated to what must pass for "logic" in J-school: "Estimates...confirm...."
No, dears, you poor, sad creatures, "estimates" confirm nothing. Zilch. Nada-zero.
Measurements, actual hard data, can confirm things; guesses by hostile, ignorant parties cannot.
Also? There ain't no such thing as an "unlicensed dealer" other than the criminal sellin' guns on the sly, not out in the open at a gun show. At gun shows, you will find some individuals selling their own, personally-owned weapons; they are not "gun dealers" and face serious consequences if they try to be.
But, hey, if walkin' around lookin' counts, I'll give it a go. My own gun show cred is deep but not wide. I go to the Indy 1500 shows nearly every time they hit town (there's one coming up! Yayy!). They are, I'm told, among the larger gun shows this side of the Mississip'. Individuals sellin' guns at these shows comprise 10% or less of the total number of sellers and drop to about half that if we exclude the guys walking around with a sign on their back or a rifle on their shoulder, selling a single firearm. Humorless types from the bATFe* are all over the place and should Joe Citizen begin to comport himself as a dealer by their ill-defined standards, at the very best he gets a stern talking to and an unofficial Federal invitation to depart. In terms of number of guns sold at the shows, actual, real gun dealers who do actual, real NICS checks sell enormously more than do individuals. Next time I'm going to try taking notes but the disparity is huge.
The article is rife with fear-mongering, inaccurate bilge. It's stunning how far away from reality some (many?) Authorized Journalists exist.
* Wound my way from one end of a 1500 to the other and there was a fellow pretending to read the paper while peering over it at the attendees. I was putting my purchases in better order and he struck up a conversation, making a number of disparaging remarks about the crowd and how he disliked these events. "So," I ask, all wide blue eyes and innocence, "how long have you been with the Bureau?"
Sheesh. Can't you guys hire people who watch spy movies even a little bit?
I'm no fan of Professional Wrestling (lived with one for way too long) but even at its worst, it's the toughest, roughest form of improvisational theatre in existence. Shouldn't be too shocked when at least a few of the players show signs of intellectual independence.
Still an' all, it's just the least bit distressin' to be Ms. Answer Lady for that eternal burning (or at least chafing) question, "Can the boss make me wear underwear?"
If he can tell you aren't, probably yes but the real question is, Did your parental units not teach you any better? Did you not, at least, pick up on the 11th Commandment?
Wear it or don't but pleeeeze stop comin' to me for help with this little problem, or swelp me, I'll starting addin' a pinch of itching powder with every reply. And f'pity's sakes, take a shower already.
I really think we could do far worse. And this guy? He's seen the horror and glory of combat, up close'n'personal!
Friday, May 23, 2008
What is it about the Democrat candidates and thinly-veiled threats? Goodness, they sound so, well, violent.
For the record:
"My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right?" Clinton said. "We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don't understand it."
I'm trying to work out how that statement differs from the hoodlum who sneers to a small business owner, "You've got a nice little newstand here, Pops. Be a shame if the same thing what happened to the old newstand on this corner happened ta you, wouldn't it? It's be a shame if anything happened ta you."
I've coined a new word: "Murisocracy:" government by rats.
Is that Soviet nostalgia I smell or just warmed over bull by-product?
(In other news,
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
The darned thing isn't even on cardstock, however, just pink paper, and (like my former one, though it was on the heavier stuff), you have to cut it out yourself. The page says "lamination recommended." Y'think?
My old LTCH expired about a week after I applied. In Indiana, on a renewal you're okay as long as you've got your application paperwork on your person; they figure you had a permit already and if you've been naughty since, they'll get around to you in due course. That means at the NRA BlogBash, I was carryin' with rather sketchier paperwork than most. I am confident LEOs in that border city are more-or-less cognizant of Indiana firearms laws -- and an NRA Annual Meeting would have been a pretty good place to find a gun-friendly lawyer or six if needed.
Hooboy, Lifetime Gun Permit! Why, I'm special -- just like every man, woman and Canadian immigrant in Vermont. And Alaska.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I ask (and answer) this rhetorical question after having been to the NRA convention and having read a thundering essay by one of my favorite writers, denouncing them for being too palsy with the bATFe and (historically) only too happy to kowtow to Congress.
He's got a point; they're not out there at the bleeding edge, they're in there buyin' coffee for the regulators. --But somebody's got to and better NRA than the Bradyites. Way better.
The National Rifle Association's not the totality of the broad, broad base of gun-owners, either; though a significant percentage of gunnies have been, are now or will be NRA members (and even more think they are), at any given time more gun folk are not members of NRA than are.
Neither the pointy end or the fat end, our friends in the NRA are the center: the part that holds it all together. Many of the smaller gun group define themselves by filling a need or taking on a project (or foe!) their members think the NRA has overlooked. Anti-gun groups find a ready-made target for their ire in the NRA.
--The NRA itself? It is the glue. The sticky stuff that holds things together. The calm, personable folks in suits, who bureaucrats will talk to and, more important, listen to. The big boys with the clout to pull together a ginormous, firearm-positive, armed-citizen-positive event like the recently concluded Annual Meeting in Louisville.
NRA's what we've got that everyone knows about. As far as most people are concerned, as far as Uncle Sam is concerned, they're us. They're a Big Tent outfit; you won't find the whole circus under the Big Top but what's not there won't be very far away.
Politics is run by those who show up. If you want to change things -- in Washington, in your State or City, in the NRA, in society, being there is the first step.
And for most gunnies, the NRA is the first step in "showing up."
It makes us all look bad.
Well, except for those of us who also have blogs. We get to look smug.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Links back to this posting, with appropriate notice on your blog, will be gratefully received.
(FWIW, I have a longer NRA post goin' up, but it's still simmering).
OMG! You mean it's not just us rustics in the flyover States of America?
In fact, looks like things are far, far worse in the Townships of S.A. Sure is a pity the peaceable folks -- and count on it, you'll find a majority that just wanna be left alone -- don't have easy access to some simple means of self-defense. What was it that Hindu lawyer who hung out in those parts long ago said about a similar situation back in his home country?
Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.
And, friends? Just in case there's any doubt, ol' Mohandas K. is not talkin' about the hue of anyone's hide there but rather the absence of the light of reason and decency in the souls of some men, 'kay?
Xenophobia is one of the things that's a little hardwired into humans; when normal caution around strangers 'til you get to know them becomes avoidance, fear and attack, the software's gone off the rails a long way back.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Me, I slept last night (as I had Friday night) with a clever gadget* on my knee, a Cryo/Cuff (link is for illustration), which uses an inflatable knee collar, an insulated jug full of ice water and an intermittent aquarium pump to keep one's knee chilled, compressed, and happy. With one (1) hose connecting the cuff and tank! (The trick is that there's just enough air left in the sealed jug that the little air pump can exchange about a quarter of the water in the knee cuff every time it cycles; with water's high thermal conductivity, that's enough to maintain a good chill for at least twelve hours. As a bonus, this make the compression intermittent, too, so there's no risk of cutting off blood circulation). Clever, yes, but after two days of walking and driving, not quite enough. My vacation ends Monday and my job calls for both legs to be workin', so no NRA for me. (Grrrrr).
Still and all, yesterday was wonderful. Next time, I'll have this better-planned. (Hey, FWIW? Every single individual in the Squeaky/Tam/TD/Roberta expedition yesterday was armed to the teeth, sidearms and [by the time we left, congrats to Squeaky on her first real knife!] blades, and yet at no time did the floors run red with blood. You know, I even think one or two other folks there just might have been packin' heat, too. Oooooo. However did we all survive? Could it be the Bradys are wrong? Y'think?)
Y'all better be sayin' "Hi" to Tam and maybe think about standin' her to dinner, pleeze?
* Interesting story behind that word. Sounds like pure 'Murrican slang, donnit? Not so much. Dispute rages but odds are good it used to rhyme with "cachet."
NRA puts on a hella convention. Srsly. Heap plenty bigname outfits in the main hall, nicely set up. Nice folks runnin' 'em. Kewl swag, too -- pins, buttons, T-shirts packed in the shape of a 1911 from a well-known Canadian firm* (so of course I tucked mine in a back pocket). Colt's got some pretty, pretty, functional 1911s, not as many as I'd like to see, and S&W had about a zillion handguns, all shiny-nice. Held a bullpup FN battlerifle-y device, interesting but, ummm, I'm a country gal and they're too newfangled to suit me. Saw, between various booths, a veritable rainbow of AR-15 and kin. Saw yet again a Whitney Wolverine, a .22 plinker that looks like a sci-fi film prop...and which has been just that, so if you've got maybe Martians in your garden? Might be the ticket. Longingly fondled marvelous jewelry-like (jewelry with bite!) NAA custom-shop and stock sidearms and lusted after the pocketable Ruger offering...all in five very much too short hours. Met a master of firearms restoration, Douglas Turnbull, in person, immediately after seeing many examples of his work as close as can be; amazingly, he looks just like an ordinary person. He's not ordinary. He's got The Hands and there were 90-year old 1911s and 100+ year old rifles there to show it, as they did not just look new, they gave every indication of being out-of-the-box brand new and could not possibly be. Time machine? Perhaps. Transcendent skill? Bet on it.
Tam finds my trip prep entirely overdone (multiple maps, water, munchies, et White Knight cetera) and pointed out in the morning, reasonably enough, that the Expo Center is right off the interstate we would be taking all the way from Indy. True and yet I managed a wrong turn at the last second. Whatever you've heard, Tamara K is actually a fount of saintly patience. And snark.
Oddest sign: at the Exposition Center, some bent mind had carefully applied a sticker to cover the "C" of "Baby Changing Station." Ew.
Note to Convention Attendees: Rule Three! If not for me, then do it for Col. Cooper. Sigh.
After the exhibit hall closed at 6, we had a huge moment of panic when we discovered signs posted at the door to media room saying it had closed at 5:00 p.m. Don't recall havin' heard anything about that earlier and, of course, there were two laptops and various other needful things behind the oh so very locked door. Chance favored us in the form of a high-up Security D00d just happening by with his keys in hand and we were soon on our way to a nice chat and quiet dinner with TD and Squeaky (none of us were especially up to The Banquet and my formal is just too big to put in the car and a couple of decades out of date) and then, sadly, had to pass up a chance to meet more bloggers; it was going ten, they were planning on 11:00 p.m. and I was fadin' fast. Four hours hours behind the wheel Friday, another two and a huge lot of walking both days had already about done for my knee. (Grrrr).
It was a good thing we left when we did; back in Indy, our exit was, wholly without warning until almost too late, closed (hey?!) and I ended up going miles out of the way through a bad neighborhood, including about five blocks directly away from home. Any sleepier and we'd've spent the night wandering, Diogenes' maiden aunts with a headlight.
Tam hopes to return Sunday, likely in the Zed Drei urban recon vehicle. I'd like to but I've other responsibilities.
It was a wonderful time. Looking forward to next year!
* See, I'd mention Para-Ordinance but then I'd have to nod in due course to Kimber. In any just and/or sane world, I could not possibly talk about either of them without having given props to Springfield and from there it just snowballs. Para's salesman was as helpful as can be and spent considerable time with us, which I do appreciate.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Met a few old friends -- Key Collector/Enigma Machine expert, Prof. Tom Perera and another key collector, "Neal," (who I suspect is this guy), along with my former boss (ret.) and the former V.P.-Engineering (very ret.), "Tom" from one of the vacuum-tube ham homebrew reflectors I was on some years back and the guy who calls me "Heather," 'cos my phone number on my "Retrotechnologist" and "Airship Privateer" business cards list the exchange as "HEather 2." Plus many folks who found my "Alpha Geekette" T-shirt fetching. --Gotta know your audience!
What'd I buy? Not much. A supposedly-working Ten-Tec Century 21 transceiver at a fire-sale price, a miniature telegraph key (made in France for South Africa's military), a old Readrite meter (the low-cost meter of the 1930s amateur homebrewer and still cheap when found: $1.00), a handful of antenna insulators and a biography of RSGB's wonderful Technical Topics columnist, Pat Hawker, G3VA. (Sadly, he's retired from regular writing but when you consider his first publication was prior to WW II, it's not as if he was a slacker).
Saw a nice Unimat lathe, with the part missing from mine (drill press adaptor. It's not a huge loss, as that's the little device's least-useful function), priced to sell at... $350.00?!?! They don't make 'em any more but it's a low-precision desktop lathe. Also saw -- laid hands on! -- a Mecograph right-angle "bug" key (it's a semiautomatic telegraph key that was designed to get around the Vibroplex patents) and a simply stunning GPO key, a massive piece of British engineering with the works in a cylindrical brass casting with a glass cover. Overbuilt? You bet, but it's a delight to the hand and eye. Alas, I didn't get a chance to learn what rare treasures Tom Perara might've unearthed; he was busy lecturing a rapt audience about WW II cipher machines when I reached his space.
A good day's geekery. I could easily have spent more time, but the clock waits for no one and I wasn't about to drive home squinting into the sunset.
The Hot Needle of Inquiry got better than 33 mpg, driving the speed limit both ways. That's some high gear!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I wasn't snickering until I read of the blue whale specimen; at 154 pounds and 1.7 meters, that appendage qualifies to vote in California -- and from what I read in the papers, probably does.
Current plans call for me to drive to the Dayton Hamvention Friday and see as much as possible, driving back that evening. Then head out to Louisville with Tam Saturday morning and come back home that evening to relieve the house-sitter and take care of cats. Sunday, see how everyone feels.
This is a bit more of a challenge than it once was. Guess we'll see how it goes.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Sometimes notions strike me out of an only partly-cloudy sky; the "sky" a couple of days ago was a programme on one of the Discovery/Science/History channel tier about the Stanford Prison Experiment and the general nature of human evil; Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D. was among the experts interviewed (I should note he's got a new book out on the topic) and the production included footage from his experiment at Stanford. --"Pretty standard stuff, really," as Dr. Evil says.
Not so the segments set in a war-torn part of Africa, where private armies do terrible things to civilians; watching that, I had the usual gunnie reaction, "Arm yourself and shoot these rats!" but face it, even the "dirt-cheap AK-47" of documentary and opinion-page fame is well out of the reach of most of these victims -- and they'd need more than one or two.
The juxtaposition of wanting decent normal folks to be armed and the "prison guards" of Stanford fame led me to ponder.
I don't buy all of Dr. Zimbardo's notion, that even the best of us can turn evil in the proper circumstances; but as a general trend, he's not far off the mark. And one of the reasons armies exist, one of the things that makes them work, is group reinforcement of values and behaviors. If the organizing authority happens to be decent and civilized, great effort is made to imbue the troops with a strong sense of civilized, Western ethical behavior but as generations of warlords and bandits have demonstrated, this is not an inherent part of the process.
If the only circumstance in which an individual handles arms is in a military band, if he learns there that "might is right" and the chain of command absolves him of all responsibility, atrocity will follow as night follows day. Even good and decent farm kids, brought up on well water, hard work and fresh air, can -- and most likely will -- end up maiming and raping once they join an organization that normalizes such behavior. This holds true if they volunteer or if they are
Conversely, the armed civilian generally receives no external positive reinforcement of initiated force, and will generally be far more reluctant to commit such outrages. He or she will find
...In practice, as a citizen militia become an underground and then overt resistance, as civil war rages, as the group takes precedence over the individual and the family, as the mob overtakes civil society, the likelihood of atrocity increases; and if the other side is predisposed to commit gruesome acts, the same is more likely to be perpetrated against them.
The armed individual with a vested interest in peace and quiet is a civilization's first line of defense against barbarism. If that line is not there, if response is delayed, the danger is far greater than if evil were to be nipped in the bud; for as conflict escalates, the danger of becoming what one opposes becomes greater.
This is why a cop walking a beat is better for a neighborhood than militarized policemen riding two to a car; and it is why, once that immediacy is lost, it is so terribly difficult to recover. This is why a shopkeeper with a smile and a revolver is better than a clerk in bulletproof Plexiglas box with a deposit-only safe and a squawking intercom; and why, once your neighborhood's gone to the latter, things will likely get worse before they get any better.
Evil takes many forms. A healthy society, a free society, a society in which no one segment has a monopoly on force, can correct itself. It has no rigid chain of command and that is the source of its strength. Decent men, with the means to do what is right and who must look their neighbors in the eye afterward, are the front-line troops of civilization.
(Edited for clarity)
In case you don't know, those clickable ads found at the top of some blogs? They're pay-per-click. No, you can't write a macro and just click the dickens outta the adverts on your faves, they've got some high-zoot cheat detectors. But the occasional click is a few cents in the blogger's account at the cost of seconds of your time. I don't use 'em -- I'd be barred from tellin' ya this if I did.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
When one of these comes along, I find myself thinkin', Now's the time! I'll unleash some post filled with pithy observation an' trenchant wisdom, or at least prime jabberwocky an' verbosity worthy of the most erudite bloviatrices!
Somehow this never comes to pass. I never know when inspiration will strike; notes made in my Commonplace Book last for a few days at most before becoming grist for what passes for a mill here on Telegraph Row.
Thanks for stoppin' by and my thanks to Tam for sendin' you. What y'see is what y'get. If you liked it, come back again.
1. Last, I am told, of the Skeptic Knights. I have my doubts.
2. A multiple reference -- not only the writerly mind as a ceaseless, insatiable mill, but likening my keyboard to the telegrapher's and radio op's typewriter, familiarly known as a "mill." Seeee?
I've taken the MSF Basic Rider Course twice; in Indiana, it's a short path to the motorcycle endorsement on your driver's license. Why twice? I passed first time, but it was the last class of the season and I wasn't able to ride much; so I signed up for the following Spring, as well. If I had taken this class earlier (before I started commuting via scooter), I probably would not have wrecked my scooter (to the tune of about $1K) or my knee (about 10X as expensive). Or maybe I would have, but at least I would have lowsided trying rather than flailing. As it was, I'd been on standby for any last-minute class openings; took the call in the hospital, doped up and with my right leg immobilized:
"Miss Ecks? This is Joe Redacted, from Abate. Can you take the class next weekend?"
"Oh, gosh. Joe, how are you with irony?"
That's not really the most fun you'll ever have.
On the other hand, the class is.
Monday, May 12, 2008
*Try it, you'll like it!
Update: So, early this (next) morning, I hear, "Awwwww, roomie, I wasn't mocking you..." Followed, of course, by mutual snickering. Hullo? International Red Cross? Sheeeeeeesh.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Nevertheless, if you go there and wait, you'll receive a gift.
(Thanx to my co-worker the Feral Lance for the link!)
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Today was a fine day; Tam and I hit Holliday Park, civilized for lo, this past decade at least and dominated by a vast sculpture/garden folly known as "The Ruins" for a stroll down the serpentine trail through the rock garden, along the river and back up the Trail Of A Thousand Steps for a picnic lunch by the Frictionless Sphere Of Destiny. (So, do any of your city parks have a 4' sphere of polished black and gold marble, floating and rotating on a high pressure water column concealed within a huge boulder? Do they let ya play with it? Thought not). We missed the huge ginkgo, somehow. Next time!
That omen alone should have warned me.
The gutters at Roseholme have been shewing certain Signs indicative of excessive leaf, seed and maple-spinner content. A pair of husky, rough men had cleaned them last Fall for a low, low $40 American but they've not been by since. I got out the ladder and a garden trowel and made my way aloft.
The roof is steep! And the gutters? Full to the brims. Standing water, muck, vegetable matter, Contents Unknown and the wrack and ruin of life's great cycle. All of it impressively malodorous, a genuinely Lovecraftian stench. When dead R'yleh hove above the waves? Could not have been any worse. Pickman's model's brown-bag lunch? He'd'a thrown it out eagerly in favor of the reeking muck I dug, shoveled and hosed from those gutters.
There's even a weak denial of Euclid in the corner by the porch: the skilled craftsbeings who performed the most recent gutter-revision (no doubt to the loathsome pipings of a maltuned flute and irregular thumpings of a flaccid toadskin drum, though I'm just guessin') decided it would be fun to slope the gutter away from the downspout and towards a dead end; by the time it reaches the end, the sag is sufficient to leave it almost full. Fixing that is a job for another day. You don't suppose CERN would loan me a teeny-weensy black hole in the meantime? Or -- and I'm just askin' -- perhaps a dragon?
Friday, May 09, 2008
That is what we call A Class Act.
Then I had to go dig out A Device Which Performs The Same Function In A Less-Convenient Way, install it, figure out more or less how to use it in the absence of a manual and wait while the big boss convinced them it was not Happy Unicorn Magic but actually needed to be adjusted using audio from their source.
Ummmm, gee. "See previous post," anyone? Gah.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
I do tech-y work. I'm good with my hands -- a bump of mechanical aptitude, a dollop of artsy-craftsiness, and the sheer good fortune to grow up with parents who figured anything one applied oneself to, one could do; which they both demonstrated on a regular basis and passed on to their offspring like a fish passes on swimming skills: I never realized there was any other approach.
But there most certainly is and it's nothing nice. In my working career, in my adult life, I keep encountering
And that's fine; I like being able to do things and I take a certain pleasure at my job in being able to do just about anything -- some things better than others, but "no, I can't," is rarely in my vocabulary, unlike a few of my nominal peers.
Nevertheless, it's irksome at times to do all the work for half the credit, to be paid the same as the bum who walks away from sloppy, incomplete work; to always be the thrifty ant, never the heedless grasshopper. And I wonder, is it that way for others, too?
* Had to fix that.
Or it would be, if the Old Media Pundits would only look that far.
I was watching Andrea Mitchell (a real trouper, BTW; I dunno about her politics but she is top-notch at her craft) on one of the locals and she was remarking how there was "a racial divide" in voting, and afterwards there was a sense of nudge-nudge, wink-wink on that point among the political wonks. I thought it was bilge; I don't like the policies of either Dem candidate but they do differ and I suspect people made their choices on based on aspects considerably more significant than chomosomes or melanin.
But okay, fine; let's
With me so far?
So, then, we're left with only three possibilities:
- A slim majority of Democrat voters are racists.
- A significant percentage of Republican voters are so non-racist, they're convinced a candidate of color would do better than a white female from an established political family in the upcoming general election. (Look, if they were pure-dee one-drop idiots, they'd be sure the man stood no chance in the main event. Instead, he's seen by Mr. Limbaugh, et al as the most serious challenge Senator McCain faces; and I believe they are correct in that assessment).
- Both A and B are true.
* One can only imagine the masochistic delight among the more punctilious and less-rational on the Left: at the polls, they've had to decide if they're more comfortable being racist or sexist.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Thanks to The Unspeakable Vault (Of Doom), now I know why.
Update: corrected spelling of "spellcheckers." Smooooooth.
"Wow, the cats really hate the scent of this but I can't smell anything," sez I.
Tam: "No, they hate all aerosols, even the air-freshener. Even cooking spray."
Me: "Oh! They think it's swearing at them!"
Tam: "Cusswords In A Can!™"
Remember, you saw it here first.
*Yes, it is true: I have an almost pathological aversion to foot-fungus, having had a nasty bout of it as a tennie-wearing teen and having seen my Dad fight the stuff every day of his working life. What, you haven't any quirks?
Monday, May 05, 2008
Um, hello? Let's look at this objectively, shall we? Winning elections is all about numbers; you get bigger numbers of votes then your opponent(s), you win. Population demographics is all about numbers too, and household income vs. percentage of the population is a good fit to a bell curve. QED: the greatest number of voters are middle class.
If a candidate spends most of his or her time schmoozin' the wealthy for donations an' preachin' smug class hatred to the (supposedly) downtrodden, I spose it would be easy to lose sight of that simple fact; but gosh, Wally, surely the Dem frontrunners wouldn't do that....
Except, y'know, when they are.
Tam just mentioned the last commercial break had three (out of four) commercials for one or the other. That would explain why the coffee machines are now free at the Big Media Outfit where I work. If this keeps up, we might just get new carpeting, too. Qui Bono? Now you know!
Sunday, May 04, 2008
And it was great. With such a collection of widely-travelled storytellers, there was no dearth of conversational give and take, the kind of "round table" one can only hope for.
Bloggers and spouses, clockwise starting at lower left: Old Grouch, Roberta X, Tamara K, Ogwife, This Space Intentionally Not Og, Caleb, Mark Alger. Not shown, Frank W. James and a delightful blog-reading couple.
Conversation was wide-ranging, from Frank W. James' insights about gunny publishing (alas, much like SF publishing, though with fewer lawsuits) to Classical music to the best place to bury concrete stairs, with detours through choice items like what happens if one drinks a lava lamp. You should have been there!
Other highlights? Look closely at Ogwife's place-setting: that's a sample of all the in-house brews! Not a free education in comparative beer but an excellent start. (She advises against the porter unless you're really into such things, but found their wheat beer and Del Sol enjoyable). (Update: Caleb liked the porter. See, this is why trade works). I'm deep into my second hard cider, which is way plenty for a country gal. Scotch eggs were shared around, a treat I try not to miss, but not even following them with a buffalo burger and pub chips kept me fully anchored. The male half of our blogreading couple wore a wonderful kilt, one of the heavy-duty types (a real
Utilikilt! Neokilt*) that are showing up; sported a belt fully 3" wide with a well-anchored utility compartment for a multi-tool and flashlight.
The weather was sparkling, the conversation scintillating and the staff at BRB was only moderately flustered by our impromptu seating rearrangements. Looking forward to next time!
Beemer's-eye-view of the trip to BRB:
We're There!Look: Broadripple's only skyscraper!
* Edited per Kerry's comment.
Imagine my relief to learn that "Hillary [was helped] to access an 'Eleanor Roosevelt-like consciousness' from within her own psyche (not 'from beyond'), from her own imagination."
Yeah, that's so much better.
I've done that sort of exercise myself, except I was "accessing the consciousness" of a nurse or an astronaut -- and I was seven years old at the time.
So that's why they say "you'll go blind!"
D'ya suppose we could slow down Washington's lust for legislation if we gave 'em all access to "adult" sites? It's not like the halls of power could get any grodier.
Feh. "Gazing." Hello? Euphemisms, Inc.? Do you offer bulk rates?
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Bloggers and blogreaders are all invited! Of the local blogbunch, Tamara and I will be there; we're hoping Red and Ahab will, too. (Scully? Please?)
Broadripple's streets are a little, er, "quirky." BRB has a page with Mapquest and Google Maps links. You will enjoy using them. Really and truely.
There is no plan of events; it's just show up, have somethin' to sip, maybe a bite ta eat, and meet and talk!
Friday, May 02, 2008
Oh, the excitement! Oh, the glamor! Oh... Oh, the kvetching. Every two weeks, they write me a check, a process which must gall terribly. Feh. Still on the six-day weeks, so tomorrow I will at least be unfairly chided at time and a half.
Update: as predicted. Y'know, it's becoming routiine.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Those attending the mini-blogbash starting 3:00 pm this Sunday will be able to enjoy the wonderfulness of it in person! The artwork is barely two blocks away from our venue, the Broadripple Brewpub. If that's not enough, the Art Center, two or three blocks in the other direction, has even more Big Public Art cookin', including a tesserect of some sort. See, we're culturally upliftin'. More or less.
* Not the actual name of the piece, though wouldn't it be grand if it was?
He's going to "roll back the Geo. Bush Tax cut that benefits the rich," meanin' rich people like me and the bills I am keeping only barely ahead of -- bills for extravagant stuff like heat, light, water and $30-a-pair denim dungarees. His wife informs me she's takin' a slice of my pie in the name of the soi-disant Greater Good and that under an Obama regime, I can kiss my comfort goodbye. But you know what's the worst? McCain -- that fearless foe of the First Amendment -- is startin' to look better and better all the time.
Y'know, I wept that I only had hot mud to eat...until they handed me a bowl of cold mud.
...Then there's Mrs. Clinton and the Iron Rice Bowl she's promisin'. Lady, it didn't work so well in Mao's China.