Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Eyebleeds, Whatever

You know what's worse than having nothing to say? Worse (-ish) than writer's block? Having things to write but not having the time to write them. Worse still, I 'spect after I have looked at them for awhile, at least half will turn out to be dross.

Only myself to blame, got into a piffling contest elsewhere, a small debate on the fringes of a large tragedy, and have spent time that would have been better spent tilling my own fields. It should be a lesson to me or something.

Tomorrow's another day, possibly one with better weather.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Modest Slogan

India's Bajaj Auto, the clever folks who made my scooter, offer several motorcycles, including a "cruiser." The Avenger has an interesting motto.

I'd sure like to know how they manage that; two wheels in traffic makes me feel more like prey!

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Paranoid Frogs

I suppose this might be a parable but it's not.

Up at the Skunk Works North Campus, one of our drainage swales* has decided to become a full-time watercourse, a freshet with a real current'n'everything.

I've watched this happen all Spring and Summer. My visits there are short and focused, so I'd not had a chance to take a closer look until very recently; I had to walk the lane a few days ago and in the process, discovered rust-brown is the in paint-job for dragonflies this year, though a few of the old-style periwinkle blue models are still flying. Ah, fashion!

As I got closer to the widest spot in the tiny stream, I heard a brief commotion, a stirring, followed by eep! Splash! Eeep, eep...splash-splash! What on earth--? I thought, just as the last tiny frog turned from a blot to a blur to a splash to a trail of bubbles, so fast I barely had time to register the frog-ness of the critter and I'm still not sure what color they are.

On my return trip five minutes later, nothin' but crickets (metaphoricaly, that is. Actually, dragonflies). When I left at the end of my day, I stopped and walked down and the earlier performance repeated itself: eeep! Splash! as they ducked for cover. I studied the scene for a few minutes and recognized one folded hind leg at the edge of a mass of algae; taking a long weed stem, I probed and lifted the greenish goo and was rewarded with an annoyed-looking greeny-grey frog swimming madly for deeper cover.

I have never seen frogs quite so timid. On the drive home, I thought about it and realized the wide spot is under a guy wire for the 1000' tower that graces the site -- and is itself often graced by red-tailed hawks. It seems possible that what I'm seeing is the last remnant of a larger population, a corporal's guard composed of the quickest and most suspicious of the lot, culled by the hawks.

Or maybe they're just all that shy. Eeep! Splash!

I'm gonna go hide under a rock for a few hours and think about it.
* Another ordinary word spellcheck wants nothing to do with. Or with which to do. Eep!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

BlogMeet: Successful

Alas, my day began at 0300, something about an auto race (and it appears I managed to wake Tam as I blundered around making coffee and oatmeal) and the Blogmeet* set sail 1500ish, so what I can coherently tell you is, all eleven attendees were as charming as ever, from the elegant Mr. and Mrs. Red (and their wondrous baby wolf!), to the erudite Mr. and Mrs. Shomes, the cultured Old Grouch and the beneficent Frank W. James (who should really, really write that trilogy!) and Rob K and Feyfern. Oh, and Tam! ...Unless I have managed to misidentify anyone? EDIT: which I have. Blogreader Kerry and his wife were there and were as charming conversationlists as ever. >blush<

The door prize -- won by all! -- was Indiana sweet corn courtesy of Mr. James. I am chastened to admit that while I had the Cup'a Turonistan award on my person, I failed to award it (I'm seriously zorched for lack of rest).

This Will Be Rectified At Our Next! Let's start planning now: when's a good weekend in August?
* I have decided it's like "ThingMoot," though it's no moot thing. And without the high & low justice aspect, just the assembling in a group, drinking beer, eating well an' listenin' to the skalds. Geesh, spellcheck hates me.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

This Is How It Works

You can find this sort of thing in most Media Outlets. There's always one or two things that need propped up, wiggled, sweet-talked, kept out of drafts or supplied with extra cooling.

Hey, are we still on the air?

Thanks to the Data Viking for the link!

Eventually The Odds Catch You

Or at least they do for me.

I've been commuting on my scooter, all 150-awesome-cc of it, from the moment the weather warmed up enough and other than the aftermarket rear rack shedding a few parts (gonna hafta buy the Bajaj one), it's been a treat. Sunshine and blue skies, unless I was ridin' before sunup.

Sure, there was the lecture from a guy in a pickup truck one morning at 4:20 am: "You shouldn't be out on these roads on that thing at this hour!," to which I said nothing at all, 'cos, well, you never do know. Even about worried-sounding gents in F150s.

But Friday....

I had to work late, having had a late start after the morning's Plumbing Emergency. Darkness was not yet falling at the end of my day, but it was at least packing its parachute. As I put my toolbag, work gloves and hoodie[1] back in my locker and got the helmet, jacket, riding gloves and boots out, I had a sense, a foreboding a-- sniff?!

Went out the employee exit into sticky thick air with a strong tang of ozone. A whiff of rain. Sure enough, as I was packing my briefcase,[2] street shoes and a box of Assorted Stuff bound for the Skunk Works North Campus on my machine, one single fat drop went PLINK! on my helmet. Still, it was only the one, I thought, whistling past the graveyard the merest little.

Out the gate (the vehicle-sensing coil only barely admits my Chetak is there) and across to Northbound Lane (not its real name), which, like most of the North-South streets on the near-Northeast side, makes a series of graceful S-curves every few blocks where various surveyor's work didn't quite line up. What's a half-block between friends? Took the first one at 40 mph and as the scooter and I returned to vertical, cruised right into genuine Midwestern rain. On a nice greasy street.[3]

Okay, okay, steady on, I've done this. For very short distances in the old neighborhood. Okay, I learned about this in the MSF class. Be careful. Slow down. Park for awhile if you can, the worst time is right at the start of a rain--

Yeah, right. No place to stop here but one, it's got nowhere to get my bike (and the, oops, cardboard box on the rear rack) out of the rain plus the day is not going to stop getting darker -- a process somewhat hastened by the nice, thick, woolly layer of rainclouds.

Stay in the tire tracks, take more time to set up for turns, slower, slower.... Luckily, auto traffic was slower, too. As the rain fell harder, I found droplets were getting past the windscreen and even under my glasses. Good news: my helmet's got a fine visor. Bad news: that would then be three layers of plastic though which I would be peering at the world, two of them well-peppered with raindrops.

Three layers of fairly clean plastic. It works. The rain front was a bit diagonal and patchy, so I rode in and out of fresh rain the entire trip home. Uneventfully.

After all, I had done it before, even though only for short rides. And once again, the astonishingly-good MSF instructors[4] had managed to get the information I needed stuck inside my skull, there and waiting.

Oh, yes, one more thing? Motorscooters do have nice floorboards and legshields; mine's got a good-sized windscreen. Withal, my knees get soaked! Small price to pay.
1. Starships run cold in the techie spaces!
2. Yes, toolbox and briefcase, don't you wish you had a light-blue-collar job like mine? Design it, build it, sweep up afterwards. It's rarely dull!
3. This being North of US 40, it was greaSy. South of Washington St., it'd be greaZy. Just as slippery either way. Still, the forms must be observed.
4. The classes are brilliantly designed -- you will learn! -- but the guys who taught the class were outstanding even so.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Don's Gun's Robbed

Hard to say just what they made off with. Last time I was there (some years back), Don's stock ran heavily to Lorcins, Hi-Points and the less-expensive guns, usually with a bit of gold-plating here and there. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Pop Guns, on the other side of town, experienced a similar after-hours smash and grab raid in December of 2007. I think if I owned a gun store, I'd give serious thought to a large, aggressive dog for after-hours duty...though it's probably a death sentence for the poor dog if the raiders come.

Inevitability Calling

...I'm on hold with a plumber's. There's a leaking T fitting in the cold-water line in the basement.

Noticed the water yesterday morning but couldn't find the source and since, as we all know, the basement at Roseholme leaks, I assumed we'd had a short, heavy rain in the night.

Not so. I entered the subterranean realm this morning in search of socks and T-shirt and bethought myself to check on the water. Not much but one odd damp spot. H'mmmm...? Looked around, looked up and... Oh, damme. Drip, driiiiiiii -wait for it!- iiiiiiiplop.

The inevitability? I rang up the home-warranty outfit, believing myself to be -- whew! -- in the very last day of said warranty.

Yeah, you've got it in one. Time ran out at midnight last night.

"Hello? Multidimensional Plumbering?* When can ya be out? They'll be here five minutes ago? Waykewl." Actually, between ten and noon. Y'all be nice to Tam this mornin', please?
* They pioneered the use of thiotimoline in anticipatory valves. We're soooo innovative here in the heartland.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

There Will Be A Door Prize

At the next Indy BlogMeet! Sunday, 27 July 2008, 3:00 pm at Broad Ripple Brewpub. Be there and you may win a fabulous prize! (Be sure you look up all the possible meanings of "fabulous," 'kay?)

Here's Teh K.E.W.L

Two words: Ub Iwerks. He's The Mouse's real Dad, you know.

The Future Will Be Hungrier Stupider

At least, that's what they say. Experts interviewed by LiveScience claim eating less will help you live longer (true) and, somewhat green-righteously, point out that a vegetarian diet is "more energy-efficient."

WTH? Supply-side nutrition? --Managing an all-veggie diet without damaging your health is a tricky business for adults and even more so for growing children. Protein deficiency, anyone? Got calcium?

The human race remained barely more than animals until we started eatin' meat on a regular basis. Even at that, it took the wide use of caffeinated beverages t'give us the Industrial Revolution.

...And there's the rub. Whenever somebody's pushing veganism, there's a mud-hut agenda behind it, opposed to all the benefits of modern life -- or at least opposed to them for unenlightened non-elites like thee and me.

I eat salad for dinner nearly every night and meat and/or cheese is often not included. Most people don't eat near enough fruit and vegetables. But let's not leap right off the deep end, world-savers.

Things only have value if there's people there to value 'em. --It won't do any good to Save The Earth by not eating moo-cows an' cute little piggies if it leaves you lacking energy, dumber and suffering osteoporosis. You can have my bacon when you take it from my cold dead hands!

It's Caught Me

The Happy Flu, that is.
Why? I dunno. Seemed like all the kewl k1dz were doin' it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Big Secret Project: Your Heroine

Shown here next to a local celebrity who is not, in fact, actually in the room. (And who is usually taller).

Interdimensional transmatter warpage? Oh, no no no: it's a high-definition TV display large enough to be one wall of a room!

Big Secret Project: Before

...Photos taken, however, after my department (and others) had done an awful lot of prep work:See that tall object in the corner? It's a "skyscraper" rack, about 15' tall. They don't make that kind. But we do.

Here's a different angle on a (mostly) empty room the size of a small-town High School gymnasium (starships are big!):

Last but so very not least, a close-up of another "skyscraper" rack, a kind of scary jungle-gym for adults. Dont try it at home! (Please note it is bolted to the wall and floor. Here at the Manhattan Engineering District, we're careful. -Ish

Monday, July 21, 2008

It Merits A Link

Jed commented that the Zeusaphone reminded him of the Pyrophone, then blogged about it. If I understand the Wiki article, the human race had an internal-combustion musical instrument before we had internal-combustion engines. Kewllllllll!

I'm reminded of that triumph of Roman Engineering, the water organ, thanks to which a day at the Colosseum Flavian Ampitheatre* might well have reminded modern folks of Roller Derby....

* The non-crossed out term being the one by which Iulius Kaisar would'a known it, precisely as he would have not so much recognized "Julius" as being any part of his name. Durn furriners! --Er, credit to Anon in comments: that is he would have, if the blame thing hadn't gone and had itself built long after he was safely dead. Where'd Romans go for a day's entertainment during the late Republic/early Empire, then? Double-durn furriners!

Indy Blogmeet

It's on. Sunday, 27 July 2008. 3:00 pm. We'll meet at Broad Ripple Brew Pub and figure out where to go from there. Kewl barbeque jernt right across the way?

BR may be hoppin', there's a NASCAR race earlier that day. Just sayin'.

The ABC Of Me

Accent: American Midwestern. While this may seem like no accent at all, pity the poor Brits who've had to try decoding it over a transAtlantic telephone connection: compared to most versions, Midwestern has but one vowel sound, the schwa.

Breakfast or no breakfast: Breakfast! Oatmeal and coffee, most days; mad breakfast hash or pancakes as weekend indulgences.

Chore I don’t care for: The litter box.

Dog or Cat: 4 cats in the house -- two mine, two Tam's.

Essential Electronics: Why, yes, a lot of it with toooobes.

Favorite Cologne: A city in Germany? --Mostly I don't do scent. Giorgio during my wild, ill-spent youth. My tomcat disapproves of it, very, very much.

Gold or Silver: Silver. I'm too pale for gold.

Handbag I carry most often: Beat-up carry purse, chosen for maximum number of useful compartments.

Insomnia: Very rarely. This has not always been the case but you'd be amazed what maintaining a high level of physical activity will do for the ability to fall asleep.

Job Title: Chief Operator/Senior RF Technician

Kids: Baby goats are cute! Children, less so.

Living Arrangements: Roomate who is even crazier than me. Of course, she says the same thing.

Naughtiest Childhood Behavior: Disregard for rules. Failure to respect authority. Insolence. Yes, yes, what a su-prise.

Overnight hospital stays: Lots. Most recent after a motorcycle accident. Otherwise, well, you wouldn't want my sinuses.

Phobias: Being alone in the dark. Strange men.

Quote: "There are better way to go through life than to be dragged kicking and screaming."

Reason to Smile: I woke up this morning and I was Still Here!

Siblings: Older sister, younger brother. Funny, there used to be large age gaps between us.

Time I wake up: 5:00 am if I'm on-track, 6 if it's a lazy week.

Unusual Talent or Skill: Define "unusual." Being able to put one's feet behind one's head? Do hand lettering? Slap verse together in a hurry? To have built an X-ray machine as a teenager?

Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: Yams. I still can't believe anyone eats those things.

Worst Habit: Procrastinating.

X-rays: Yep. Wanna see? I have 3-D CAT scans of my skull! (See "sinuses," above). Also radiographs of the steel plates and screws in my right leg. Oh what fun.

Yummy Stuff: Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee with real cream and turbinado sugar. Homemade bean soup with plenty of raw onion and celery and fresh cornbread and margarine. Morels. Chocolate. Fresh popovers. (I need a better kitchen range!)

Zoo Animal I Like Most: Either Golden Lion Tamarinds or Clouded Leopards.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Catching Up

The non-cash wages of excessive OT:

New Jovian Thunderbolt had a Blogiversary and I missed it. :(

Squeaky Wheel Blog* was gettin' Google-whopped by some lefty whiner. Can't have that. Must fix.
* Officially "Squeaky Wheel Seeks Grease." Google-fu, y'know. Did I mention she's a Carry Permit Holder?


Or Thoremin.


That is all.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

It's Got To Be Fixed

But I don't mind:
My results:
You are Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
You are good at fixing things.
You are usually cheerful.
You appreciate being treated with delicacy and specialness.

Click here to take the "Which Serenity character are you?" quiz...


Something about carry permit holders? Better late than never!

One Out Of Four

One in four Victoria's Secret models has her doubts about the other three...

You don't suppose any of them are -- could they be? Fat lot of good it would do them on most campuses -- carry permit holders?

30-Odd Hours Later

...And the successful completion of a migraine later (oh! Aura! Not to mention prodrome), things are lookin' up. The Big Secret Project is (essentially) complete and will be unveiled Monday or Tuesday and even Evil Boss unbent enough to make today's OT optional rather than mandatory. Me, I have thus far passed on it (see opening sentence) but may yet go in to catch up on tasks left undone while the push was on.

I may even be able to post before & after photos of the work.

And, for anyone who needs to run a big 240 Volt appliance on 110, allow me to point you at the nifty big toroids Digi-Key sells. They are definitely in the "assembly required" class but after running a 3000 VA (call it 3 kiloWatts) version for a week, I have been very happy so far. Mind you, that's big enough that it's not a wall-socket application on the primary side -- it takes a 30 Amp breaker and fat #10 wire. --For hobbyists with less heavy-duty applications, I have long been of the opinion that toroidal iron is the best way to go unless low cost is the prime requirement. For only a little more than the price of conventional iron, you get less volume, less stray magnetic field, lower core losses and better inherent regulation with varying loads. What not to like? They're even good for audio -- Western Electric's legendary 111C repeat coil, which offers specs to make audiophiles swoon, is a toroidal transformer. (N.B, WeCo never claimed any better flatness than zero dB change between 30 cycles to 15 kc/s but real-world response far exceeds the spec). Besides: donuts. Mmmmm.

Friday, July 18, 2008


I'm sick and tired of the Big Secret Project at the Skunk Works. Not only has the technical side been [long, bitter description roughly paralleling ancient Chinese inscriptions about the unrightous being rewarded while the decent folk are stiffed, deleted] something of a cock-up and a bit of a Heath Robinson, the hours have become unseemly long.

Yeah, I get paid. But the time? That, I'll never get back.

Workin' again tomorrow. Bah.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Your House Is Not A Free-Fire Zone

...Even when it kind of is. Sorry, Chollie, but you probably didn't get the Magic Bullet-Eating Wall option, either.

Having lived alone for a goodly portion of my adult life, I am of a differing opinion than many (most?) about shooting at Persons Unknown in my house when I'm the only one there. My vision is pretty awful and in case of emergency, the order in which things get picked up is 1. sidearm, 2. glasses. Should some ill-seen large-ish shadow show up at the bedroom door twixt steps 1 and 2, things are liable to go poorly for it. ("What? You would not identify your target?" Assuming I am living alone at the time, it is identified: In My House, Not Me. Maybe other people fail to lock doors or hand out keys to friends and family, but I do not. And yes, this means I probably would have shot your hypothetical Kindly Stranger Or Policeman who has entered my house uninvited to Do Me Good -- presuming such creatures are any more real than the Tooth Fairy, which they aren't).

I don't live alone right now, which (perversely enough) means I have freely accepted a higher level of risk; once that one extra key is out there and that one other person has free access, a significant degree of control over Who Goes There has been lost and being certain that target is a target requires far more precise identification. It's the price we pay for being a social species.

And between that and the lack of those magical-backstop walls (and windows) is the reason why my house (and yours) isn't a free-fire zone. Drat! Another hallway-ninja fantasy, gone.

I Was Only Auctioning The Seat

...The city of Seattle's trying to sell off entire washroom facilities! It seems their five all-singing, all-dancing, all stainless, self-cleaning, "set and forget" Hering-Bau WCmatic Public Toilets quickly became...nuisances. Nuisances popular with sex workers and IV drug users. Wow, who knew? You make a well-lit, lockable, unattended space available free for the standing in line and people come up with alternative uses for it!

Interestingly, the "vandal-proof, graffiti-resistant" washrooms show signs of various damage attempts -- crumpled doors, scarred air dryers, etc. Humans do so love a challenge.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

July Indy Blog Meet

So far, the voting stands at 5 for 27 July and 2 for 3 August. I'm not opposed to having a couple of gatherings -- these things are deliberately informal, anyway -- but there's always room for your opinion, in a place we like to call "Comments."

Idiots In The News

The March Of Time! Dateline, editorial pages of our local catbox liner.

Item 1. A local physician, incensed -- incensed, I say, or maybe just burning a lot of sandalwood sticks -- about the (Congressionally-averted) scheduled reduction in Medicare payments to doctors as a result of cost goals not having been met, huffs, "...No other business would put up with this!"

Oh, never evar, doc. Why, when the flood of Gummit money that comes to the TV station is throttled back, we-- Oh, wait: there isn't any. Never was. When our clients have to skip meals, we starve. And it's that way for most businesses. Having that nice, shiny "M.D." after your name means you'll starve with a nicer-looking degree on the wall than most folks have got. Shaddup and eat your porridge.

Item 2. In a more recent edition, fluffy-headed primate guest editorialist and doctor Richard Feldman bemoans that "...a strict single-payer system is politically unfeasible," chides us that, "A sustainable system cannot tolerate lavish hospitals that look more like palaces or resort spas," then leaves us with A) "...when our present system collapses we will be compelled to ration care..." and B) "...we will eventually create a blended public/private tiered system...where those who can afford additional insurance will receive more services and go to the head of the line. " Funny, isn't that what we already have -- and isn't the part of it that runs in "strict single-payer" mode the one plagued by inefficiency, cost overruns, and rationed care?

Credit where credit is due; he does point out the built-in problem of a system that makes more money treating disease than in preventing it, though coming right on the heels of a sneer at "competition, consumerism and market forces" as unproven means of cost reduction (never heard of Wal-Mart?), it shines less than it might and leaves me wondering if perhaps he'd be happier were us proles awakened every morning by Physical Jerks on the telescreen and sent off to the impersonal, impartial, egalitarian arms for State Hospital #437 when we fall ill, with euthanasia awaiting those whose course of treatment would overburden the State. But that's just my wild speculation.

Item 3. The award-winner for sheer gall and foolishness leaves the first two in the dust: writing to defend making English the official national language, a local woman points out that "300 hours of free education" would be just the ticket for those dadgum gibbering furriners. Free to whom, madam? Either the immigrants themselves will have to fund your dream, or you and I will be taxed to pay for it; and while you might be happy to ante up, I'm not. Howzabout the Feds stop pandering to those who will not learn the customary language hereabouts, instead? It'd be plenty of incentive to learn.

"Free." Land of effing Nod, does she believe teachers fall from the sky fully-formed, skilled in whatever will be needed next and live on rainwater and sunlight? That school buildings spring from the dust as-needed?

* * * * * *

You get what you pay for. When I get the paper, I'm paying for catbox liner. And I get it. The other entertainment that comes with it, I consider lagniappe.

Monday, July 14, 2008

To eBay™ Or Not To eBay™

Ain't that a kick in th'head?

Here's the deal: back when I moved into Roseholme just about a year ago, the loo was, well, "manly," with lots of oak trim and an oak toilet seat with brass hinges.

I am not so much about decorating -- you take 5 - 6000 books and put them in a house in any readily-accessible way and most of your "decorating" is done by the time that task is finished. Likewise, when it comes to the W.C., my primary criteria is that it be easy to clean and I added plenty of bright towels to liven the place up. Still -- oak? Makes for a more-rustic seat than I prefer. And it was wiggly; the hardware needed to be replaced. When that round tuit came up, I decided to splurge and replace the entire seat with a fine, modern, gleaming-white version.

Tam split the cost so we spent the biggo bux for an ultra-hygienic version with some miracle paint (Tam adds "It's an American Standard™, the Mercedes of toilet seats -- you could beat somebody to death with it," though I dunno what's so awful about Universal Rundle, at least for blunt-instrument use). Woohoo!

The Moment Of Truth arrive when we boxed up the old seat and I pointed out we could always sell it on eBay and recover part of the $30.

T: "Ew. No!"
R: "Aww, c'mon, why not? It's not like we've any other use for it."
T: "No. Some sicko will buy it."
R: "So? Besides, it's a nice oak seat...?"
T: "Ew. I dare you to blog about this -- I double-dog dare you!"

Daring me, possibly -- just maybe! -- not the best way to keep me from doin'.

So, here we are. Should I put the thing up for auction or not? Original owner was a Marion County Sheriff's Deputy! Dunno about the total miles on it.
PS: In the course of writing spellchecking this post, I came up with the idea of white HiLighter, which Tam promptly decided was, "The spellcheck marking preferred by b@stard SysOps." Oh, yeah.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Another Reason Why Mass Transit Fails

...Especially among male riders: no floor show allowed! Hard to believe you can drive to Rio from there, no? (Or can you? H'mm, maybe not, could be some rough going, those hills look a bit...tallish....)

Hamfest Report

"Report?" Well, I did find a nifty benchrest thingie for rifles. Didn't buy it but it was kinda kewl and priced to move at $75.00, American.

But I'm ahead of myself. Hey, waiddup!

The night promised rain and the dawn delivered. Buckets of the stuff, as the sun rose, backlighting a sky that looked like the beginning of an old movie with the backstory scrolling past in Egyptian Demotic.

Pretty neat, huh? But not, as we say, hamfest-friendly. It was even making for front-porch weirdness, either that or my camera spent the night at a rave, Tam not at all amused by early morning snapshottery:

Somewhat daunted by off-and-on rain in the sunshine, I did the Internettage and breakfast things and puttered around, hoping the rain would pass. Since I was pretty sure even if it did, the mud would linger, longing (as it does. Oh yes, I'm sure of it!) to find the toes of the unwary and squelch happily among them, I unearthed my hamfest boots, the tallest Carolina Pole Climbers made, touched them up a bit, and made ready. (I loves 'em but OMG, I just saw Wesco Highliners...!)

Naturally, the day became darker and gloomier while I did so, and was looming threateningly as I departed. But with the same luck that makes toast fall butter side down operating in surprised reverse, the sun was glimmering hopefully through fleeing clouds by the time I found my way to the far East side and beyond, to Camp Sertoma. To make up for it, the humidity was choking-thick and the ticket-worker advised me to park along the entrance road, "It's awful muddy out in the field and we wouldn't want to have to tow another one out."

No, indeed not!

Ticket tucked away in my purse, I set off. The tailgate area was off a bit but not much. I passed up an Atomic Engineering VOM -- pure niftiness but I'm pretty well set for meters. Saw a nice Atwater-Kent three-dialer and a Johnson Viking transmitter, with a (matching) VF-122 VFO atop it -- what for, I couldn't tell you, as the rig's got a nearly-identical one internally. Passed up a Harris linesman's test phone ($30.00) and shouldn't've -- my antique version needs a serious rebuild. Reflective letters and numbers were a fun find; I got enough to do my callsign.

I did stumble across other small items -- nice ceramic crystal sockets, an Army FM covering "Field Wiring Methods" for telecomms (hey, y'never know). The shelter building yielded some nice driver bits (#2 and #3 Phillips) at a buck a go and a router bit (roundover) for $6, along with a Harry Turtledove paperback.

In the Commercial Building, I found antenna wire, antenna rope, books (yayy!) including one on vertical antenna homebrewing and a 1920s reprint, "War Toys," including plans for a "machine gun" firing wooden bolts. It was a different time! I also picked up a ballcap with my name and callsign embroidered on the front (I blame Tam for the ballcap thing) plus odds and ends, and then dropped off my ticket for the prize drawing and spent some time with my dear friend Don H. at the hamfest organizer's table. He's always got an interesting tale or three (would you believe his wife recently spent a long vacation looking for hobbits in New Zealand? True -- and she did find their homes. Alas, hobbits had moved out. Still...). And we admired the work of homebrew genius R. A. Meiss, who entered a single-lever keyer/straight key in the competition and came away a winner. (He doesn't appear to have posted a write-up for that key but here's another that will give you a good idea of the quality of his designs and of their construction).

All in all, an excellent hamfest.

And Back Again

Wowsers, yesterday was long. Up 0400ish, bloggage, hamfest (about which, more next: think mud, mud), on to work with some extra hours so Evil Boss won't accuse me of wastin' the Company's eeenvestment (105.25 hours over two weeks, yeah sure right I slept most of the time while conduit bent and hung itself, then stuffed itself full of wires and hooked 'em up, all automagical like, 'cos I just loathe bein' home where all my books'n'toys are) and home again at the stroke of midnight or a little later.

Slept a good eight hours; I've been up, rode bikes with Tam and et a delightful brekky with plenty of good coffee* and I am still tending to nod off.

About that most recent meal, more brunch really, after a cuppa' with cold nothin' on the side for our first meal of the day, picture this: my standard "breakfast hash" of pepper bacon, diced (Yukon Gold! Mama like!) taters and scrambled eggs, topped with shredded mozerella, chopped chives and fresh radishes, diced fine. Heaven! Try it, the radishes really work well. And kumquats for dessert. Roman Emperors did not eat this well -- and the record of most of 'em reflects it.
* Fresh Market's "Blue Mountain Blend," less than a quarter of the price of the pure quill -- which you should have before you die, at least once, it's bliss -- and about 75% of the aroma and flavor, which makes it three times better than most coffee.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Up Early

...Yet again, though a bit later than during the regular* work week, and for a happier purpose: fixing to head out to the Indy Hamfest bright and early! (That's geekery, not pork products. Well, mostly not, one hesitates to guess what's in the roller dogs).

Report to follow, possibly with photos.
* As opposed to my work week, which started by working Sunday (after a healthful half-day Saturday prior) and will include working today. Have I mentioned how useful it is to be paid by the hour?

Friday, July 11, 2008


Worked another long day yesterday, though not quite as lookit-the-horse long as the day before, and at the end of it had several small, distracting tasks to get out of the way. Very distracting tasks, it would seem: I packed up the scooter, buzzed home, popped open the garage door, unpacked, and had made it as far as the (well-fenced) back yard when I went looking for my house keys.

404: keys not found.

Not to worry, purse has many compartments, search, search... Nada. Did I lock the garage...? Yep. Back door? Locked. Gate? Padlocked. Prisoner Of The Back Yard! ("You are Number Six"[1]) Oh, poo. Doorbell? No response. Aw, ratters.

Celphone, then, I'll just telephone. Tam's car was in the garage, after all, and so was her bicycle... Dialing. Ringing. Ringing, ringing. Distant door slam, then, "Hellllooh?"
"Tam? RX. Kinda, well, kinda locked in the back yard."
"Hmmm? I'll let you in."

I checked the garage, the various compartments of my scooter, the driveway, took my purse just about apart and came to the conclusion my keys were at work. Called down there, nobody'd seen 'em. (Hot-pink lanyard with a black bead in the form of a tiny skull, they're hard to overlook).

At this point, I'm fallin' asleep but fretful. Bribed Tam ("I'll buy Boogie Burgers!") to take me back to work, where a careful search turned up nothing, at which point I turned up at my locker, big[2] bolt cutters in hand. It took five tries -- I would go and buy a decent padlock -- and when the door was opened, there, next to my coffee cup and spare quad-ruled steno pad[3], were my keys.

I know how I did it; I even know why. What I can't account for is why I never put a spare padlock key on another key ring, as is my usual rule for items[4] I might lock keys in while away from home.

Oh, the excitement! --Still, those Boogie Burgers were good; I had a New York, New York (big wonderful hamburger with lettuce, purple onion, tomato and pastrami and Swiss!) with a vanilla malt while Tam enjoyed grilled Ahi Tuna. And the freshest fries on the planet, arriving almost too hot to eat.
1. I should not have to explain this.
2. No, bigger than that, even. Way bigger.
3. My fave!
4. Automobiles, for example.


TMI: when you've already heard too much but you just can't stop listening! Ask your phrenologist if it's right for you...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

This And...That?

§ 1. The astute observer will have noted I missed my late-afternoon/early-evening posting yesterday. Thereby hangs a tale, in much the same manner as a spider monkey hangs from one. My part of the Big Secret Project has involved a lot of Being An Electrician, which is sort of like havin' a nuke reactor tech fix your Jacuzzi. And it's not quite starting from scratch, the place was wired up once, then later unwired back to the walls; so about half of it is lookin' at what's there and figuring out how to get from that to what the project needs with a minimim of kludges, cheats and bends (especially bends other than 90° -- 3/4" EMT conduit and a gal-powered bender old enough to not have handy angle marks, that much exercise I do not need and want even less). And the other half is actually so doing, plus a little work inside a live panelboard. Projects and deadlines being what they are, yesterday was at least twelve full hours of it and no stop for lunch. I came home, made a quick run to the market with Tam (outta cat food and microwavable girl chow), ate dinner and sailed away to Dreamland, the Sandman tagging after, complaining, "Hey! Not so fast!"

§ 2. This guy has been linkin' to me for awhile now. If you like guns and music, I commend Redboy Blues to your attention.

§ 3. My congratulations to the well-chosen winners of Para Ordnance's weekend at Blackwater! (Including my roomie, who won't quite admit to dancing about, singing, "Made of Win! And Cake!" when the happy news arrived).

§ 4. And now, I'm off! Wish me luck, the bulk of The Project needs to be finished today.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

In The News

Remember back when the Democrats were all het up and pouty over this sort of thing? An excellent example of a prime rule of party politics, the It's Different When It Is Our Scoundrels Doing It rule. Feh. Havin' Uncle Sam hand out Free Money™ to religious instiutions is never a wise idea, if you ask me: next thing you know, he's bought 'em a little car and a nice condo an' he's a-tellin 'em what to wear and sneakin' away from work and home to spend time with 'em.

And then we have News For Sophisticated Europeoples from Reuters (or did they only use it in the version fed to the States?) with this lead* para:
Police have detained two custodians who were about to harvest their first crop of cannabis, a source of drugs like hashish and marijuana, from a cemetery in Vietnam's capital, a state-run newspaper reported on Monday.
(emphasis mine) Hully gee, I guess I didn't know that! You mean hemp isn't just for T-shirts, paper, and snarky comments about famous d00ds who grew it? A-mazin'.
* Or possibly leaden.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Here Be Tygers

Or, as is often the case, not.

Here's the picture, see? Our Young (-ish? Aw, c'mon, gimme that much...?) Heroine, armed only with a Scout knife -- her employer having certain regressive notions anent firearms[1] -- climbs aboard her trusty scooter along about 0400 (a.m., mind you) and sets off down somewhat mean & scary streets.

These are by no measure the meanest or scariest in town but parts of the neighborhoods my journey passes through are hardscrabble poor; and it's a sad truth that the poor are the favored victims and frequent refuge of your blue-collar criminal. Along this route, we find (at the intersection of College Ave and Easy Escape) the high-zoot coffee shop that got held up a little while back. That said, some folks hereabouts might be poor but the the overwhelming majority keep their lawns mowed, the shrubbery trimmed and while the paint might not be as shiny-bright as where you live, it's not neglected, either.

Me, I'm a small-town girl and we lived some miles outside even that town; my notions of "dangerous neighborhood" owe more to Hollywood than real life. Go look up the stats: outside of some very small areas, usually ones where storefrontless entrepreneurs of various sorts are found offering their wares to passers-by, most places in cities are not significantly less safe than the countryside. Oh, the hazards differ but "tore up by a combine" or "hit by a tricked-out Chevy" differ very little when it happens to you, nor is the subtle distinction between a crackhead and a meth brewer hopped up on his product all that clear when either one gets in your face. Likewise, the wee sma' hours are not the most dangerous time of day, crime-wise: I'll take "dusk to midnight" for the win, Alex.

Still with me? Okay. Three paragraphs of setup out of the way, an' here I am in the dark an' gloom, waitin' on the light at the intersection of Poor and Proud, when, suddenly-- out of the corner of my eye, I see movement! Oh, noes! Whatever can it be?

[CUE dramatic organ music]

Undaunted and gauntleted, I turn my helmeted head toward the motion as the Dire Threat moves closer and into the streetlight: it's a-- a-- A Mom and two teeny-tiny, just-old-enough-to-be-skipping children. Which they are, under her watchful gaze. She and I both realize we're givin' each other the "who's that stranger?" look at the same time and grin at one another. As the happy family crosses the street, I say, "Howdy"[2] and she says, "Good mornin'!" and her kids wave and wave.

Yessirree, ya gotta look out while on the roads in the dark of night, cos y'might meet ordinary people. Oooooooo. 'Cos there's about a zillion of them per bad'un. I'm not sayin' there aren't bad guys or even just severely whimsical Urban Outdoorsmen wandering loose and I'm not sayin' it's bad to be wary (quite the reverse); but there really is more good than evil in the world, and way more friends out there you haven't yet met than people who will hate you on sight. Be as ready to smile as you are to fight or flee. It's more way likely to happen and a lot more fun.
1. Of which I have blogged before. Short version: while it would be handy to be armed to and from, fat lot of good a sidearm would do in the starship anyhow, there is no safe direction: too many people, too much expensive gear, all in too little space. If badness happens, my plan is what it has always been: be elsewhere, rapidly. Bein' in Engineering, I know all the Elsewheres and have keys to most of them. Alas, I'm not good at carrying this out; last looney in the lobby with explosive claims (he lied. As usual), I joined the other electron-pushers in just happening to find reason to saunter out: if we get blowed up, it won't be for lack of trying to stop it.

2. 'Cos I learned my greeting methodology from Clint Eastwood's spaghetti Westerns? Dunno. Habit.

The July Indy Blog Meet

Yes, it's time again! Time to pick a day for the next Indy Blog Meet. (And a place. Barbecue, anyone?)

Are there any weekends near the end of the month that potential attendees find especially suited (or unsuited)?

Lemme know!

(And now, I'm off to be the Good Witch of the North. Or something. A scooter counts as a broomstick, right?)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Now, This Message...

What's darker than oh-dark-thirty? I dunno but it's my new breakfast spot for awhile.

But friends, that's not what I came here to share. More or less Endless Weekend Sports yesterday was brought to us by... TMI!

Do you need TMI? Do you have that listless, run-down, dribbly sort of feeling more than a third of the time? Do other people pass you on the freeway, snickering? Possibly you wake up feeling short on calcium every Whitsunday? TMI may be the the answer.

TMI is only for a very special sort of person, not just anybody. Only your doctor can say if TMI is right for you but you know that quack isn't going to bestir him or herself to get you any unless you call 'em up right now and ask for it by name! Demand TMI!

(Please note that overuse of TMI can result in blurting out symptoms to strangers and/or public discussion of awkward bodily functions. When first taking TMI, avoid operating lightweight machinery and never, ever sing or attempt to sing Grand Opera while you are on TMI. TMI may cause priapism and/or irregular menses. Mice exposed to TMI either developed or feigned migraines in a futile effort to get away. Use only as directed. Really. Please.)

Sunday, July 06, 2008


It's oh-frickin'-dark-thirty an' here I am, about which you may be wonderin'.

The explanation is quite simple, really: we're on another huge project at the Big Old-Media company, at the peak of the vacation season and with a couple of the techies out sick or on limited duty. Me bein' so duty-minded an' all, when we hit the holiday weekend an' came up short, I offered to help out.

It's not that I am so terribly devoted; it isn't even (entirely) the time and a half plus brownie points[1], though that certainly helps. But even though the really heavy lifting of our current effort[2] was contracted out to Arcane Experts, if my department doesn't stay in step with them, our part of the task will get hugely more difficult. A little extra now to save a whole lot of shrieking panic and superlong days later is well worth it!
1. The latter already redeemed to get time to attend the Indy Hamfest next weekend; this is not a feast consisting of tasty well-cured pork but rather an amateur radio swapmeet.
2. About which I would love to expound but it's the usual deal: there's a significant competitive advantage to my employer in keeping mum on the project until it is unveiled and it turns out (who would'a thunk?) my paycheck is paid out of their net profits; so nothin' doin' 'til later!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day!


...We celebrate it on the wrong day (there may be no single right one: the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress 2 July 1776 and signed, mostly, by 2 August) and often with an unclear understanding of what it meant, though most folks get the basics well enough: the birth of the United States. The glorious notion that claiming to have been handed a Crown by $DEITY or blood-right was nonsense, that men were clever enough to rule themselves and the sure knowledge -- stemming from a long period of benign neglect -- that the less obtrusive the government, the better off the people.

But though they were soon to be calling themselves "States," i.e, Nations, the former colonies were not all that "united" in the Summer of '76, acting instead in a loose confederation later codified by the Continental Congress passing the Articles of Confederation in November of 1777, Articles not ratified by a majority of the former colonies 'til March 1781. (It should be noted that the Second Continental Congress was the American Congress that began the custom, honored by all successor bodies, of kiting checks or equivalent paper. This provides yet another reason to keep government small).

The day our Founders told the Crown to take a hike is not the same thing as the day the United States became a nation: on that day, the 13 colonies became 13 nations. The "one nation, indivisible" guff took nearly a hundred years to gel and a far greater death-toll than than was paid in the War of Independence. (And even at that, it took a concerted PR pitch in the form of a nearly-compulsory oath to completely sell it -- see Francis Bellamy). What we share as U. S. citizens is more than a mere patch of land or a required oath to a symbol. We share a dream, a shared ideal, a solemn promise redeemed in blood. Don't lose sight of it in the celebration.

When was the most recent bit of revolutionary zeal exercised in the U.S.? Possibly 1961! (We'll ignore the cabals of secessionist plotters in Yreka and Key West and their occasional overt acts for now). The 13 colonies did it first and best.

On this day (or near enough) in 1776, brave, clear-thinking men put their fortunes, lives and sacred honor on the line for an idea: the wild, unproven notion that adult humans could govern themselves. 232 years later, it's worked out pretty well but our would-be Kings and petty nobles cry out more loudly every year that they know what's best for us and should dictate our lives and our fate. Green or to the Purple born, they're not to be trusted. Tell 'em what the Colonies told the King!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Linguistic Patrol: The Chickens, Home To Roost.

Looking up "enormity," I encountered "fortuitous." Oh, lucky me? Fortuitous, hey? Wrong!

Turns out I have been misusing the word for years. It means "by chance," period. It contains nothing of "good luck" or "serendipity."


What She Said

In a footnote to this post, Tam writes, "If I haven't answered your email, it's because either I really love you or I thought your question rated a very thoughtful serious answer," then expands on the notion.

So true. RTWT!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Linguistic Patrol: Day Two

(Going after the low-hanging-fruit).

Improper use of "enormity" may result in having one's skull stomped flat by a venomous T-Rex ridden by an overmuscled, baby-eating Nazi in a silver lamé uniform, playing disco at high volume on a bad boombox.

If something is hugely ginormous, it possessed possesses the quality of enormousness.
If some thing or act or entity is boundlessly or outrageously wicked, it may well be an enormity.

Don't confuse 'em. Little Rolfie and his thunder lizard, they tend to jump the gun. Oh, the enormity!
Thanks to Charles Pergiel for the correction!

Oh, No

Phlegmmie's beloved little doglet Valentine has gone on to the eternal fields, where "Fetch" can be played at will and the tiny legs of elderly dogs never let them down.

Services are now, at Fatale Abstraction. Stop by and say something.

FDA To Asthmatics: Stifle Yourself

Perhaps that's a little strong, but FDA is banning the "Primatine Mist™"-style rescue inhalers -- including, as nearly as I can find, some prescription types -- over concerns that CFCs in the propellant will destroy the ozone layer and kill Mother Earth. Considering the palm-able size of these gadgets and the quick shot of the stuff it takes to bail sufferers out of a bad asthma attack, the message is clear: the FDA would rather bask in the smug glow of a largely symbolic act than let little Jimmy take a breath. Yes, there is a replacement but it's more costly, harder to find, not as forceful and tastes awful.

My ex suffered from asthma controlled, as is most often the case now, by medication that kept attacks from happening -- mostly. He'd still have the occasional one and he kept a (prescription) rescue inhaler of the to-be-banned sort. Since his attacks were few and far between, he sometimes failed to carry it, so ready availability of over-the-counter relief was important. There is little love lost between us, but you don't have to be all that fond of a person to not want them to suffer asphyxiation. Especially not as a result of green-brained nonsense.

Wears-his-rump-for-a-hat money quote:
Dennis Acha of Breathe California said,” We have to look at the big picture. People with asthma depend on a good environment."
Mebbeso, Kemo Sabe, but when you can't depend on your next breath, high-minded abstractions are just the teensiest bit awkward to entertain.

But hey, forget those ickily gasping asthmatics, how 'bout them snail darters?