Friday, October 31, 2008

"How Do You Even Know You're Alive?"

I am, as you may have noticed, a monster of arrogance and conceit, or so it sometimes feels.  A friend was trying to share a sense of excitement and joyful anticipation and I took it as chiding:
     "Haven't you ever wanted to hunt Cape Buffalo?"
     "No.  I loathe travel."
     "Even if you could be just teleported there from a luxury hotel?"
     "Even then." 
     ...Which prompted the response that is the title of this post.

     It's entirely unfair of me to use it as a springboard, but hey -- see para. one, first sentence.  Plus, life's unfair.

     It's not that I dislike excitement.  It's not that I especially care for the life of one noble beast in plentiful supply (better if they're tasty, though).  And it's not that I dislike shooting.

     But I feel no need to test myself.  I've been tested.  I get through, albeit with no style and little grace.  I know I can win through if there's a chance -- and I know sometimes there's no winning, just getting through with minimum damage.  I've done both, lots.

     I think it is just plain kewl as all get-out that other folks will  go after dangerous game or undertake a three-day climb up a sheer rock face.  I love reading about it.  I just don't care to go do it.  (Actually, the climb sounds fun but I prefer my plumbing indoors, or at least in a proper Chick Sale). 

     Having been shot at and missed, favored in love and then heartbroken, flush with funds and flat-out broke, hacked through a live 50A/208V circuit with plain cutters (hey, my buddies said it was off and I forgot Rule One), wrecked by the side of the road in Winter with no phone and no help in sight, curled up under the covers with four kittens in an unheated house in January, counted backwards for anesthesiologists more times than I can remember and mostly with nobody waitin' for me to come out on the other side,* in and out of serious debt, hailed as a genius and derided as a flake, I have seen the damn elephant plenty and I know I will again.  I don't have to go in search of it.

     But I'm pleased others do and return to tell the tale.  And I wish I was a better listener.
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* Two words: persistent migraines.  Okay, two more: source unknown.  But they'll just about vanish if you make your mind up they're going to.

There Will Be Blood Bad Writing In The Streets

...If Barack Obama does not win, says washed-up sortafeminist Erica Jong.  (via pdb).  She's hoping/afraid it will be a "second American Civil War."

     Yeah, right.  Because there has never, ever been a hotly-contested Presidential election in the United States before; and the country has a long history of violent uprisings after Presidential races, followed by harsh suppression, especially when they didn't go as the Press expected....

     Except not.  Never.  Not ever.  (The last Civil War?  That pretty much started in Congress.  Just sayin').

     Americans have good sense.  While I will not be surprised at a little "irrational exuberance" come election night no matter who wins and I won't be shocked if there's more of it in the big cities than the small towns, the next day, you know what will happen?  Nothing.  It will be a day just like any other.  Down the road -- again, no matter who wins -- there will be much noise and fury in the media and on placards and whoever's President will be subject to much criticism.

     This here is the United States of America and when we elect a new El Supremo, he gets four years with a chance at another four if he hasn't screwed up too terribly.  By the mid term elections, we often yank control of Congress away from his party (if it had it to begin with).  Liberal, conservative or way out there, we are a fickle lot.  And I love that.  I believe it helps  maintain our freedom

     ...One bit of happy news from Ms. Jong: "Yesterday, Jane Fonda sent me an email to tell me that she cried all night and can't cure her ailing back for all the stress that has reduces (sic) her to a bundle of nerves."  I guess it was a lot less stressful sleeping in Hanoi during a war?  Ooooookay.  

Thursday, October 30, 2008

They're Doing It Again

Caught a Network TV Morning Show piece on the sad machine-gun death of a child in Massechussetts and after some back-and-forth and handwringing, the reporter intoned, "...This tragedy has focused attention in the issue of children and semi-automatic weapons...." (emphasis mine).

    It's the ol' Three-Card Monte once more.  Watch 'em closely -- they walk in talking about "machine guns" and walk out trying to ban or restrict ordinary one shot per trigger press firearms.

     Fully-automatic weapons are not semi-automatic.
     "Automatic weapons" are not semi-automatic.
     Semiautomatic weapons fire once when you apply pressure to the trigger.
     Fully-automatic weapons are not semi-automatic.
     "Automatic weapons" are not semi-automatic.

     Let's help our dear pals in the media understand this, or they'll try to turn a kid's horribly unfortunate death when the Uzi slipped into another try at banning your Ruger rifle, Tam's AR-15 and my SKS.

There's "Socialism" And "socialism"

Senator Obama favors the latter.  The Christian Science Monitor gets it right.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Riddle This

     The Dems tell us the "rich" are payin' almost no tax at all with Republicans in charge* and then they tell us John McCain will give huge tax breaks to those same rich people.  How's that work?

-----

     Why don't medications ever have amusing side effects?   It's always "Serious side effects may occur..."  Never, "You'll turn bright orange with green spots for three days and talk like you're on helium, but it's harmless."  I guess it works like politics: the choice is always between "not real good" and "worse."  

-----

     Tam, fuming over the ill-informed and over-enthusiastic: "It's like walking into the neighborhood garage and exclaiming in delight over the 'stylin', well-engineered Yugo' you just saw." Ow.
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* Except last I looked, the GOP was in the minority in the House and Senate.  You'd think the Democrats would have ushered in an era of peace, prosperity and Two Chickens In Every Garage by now.  They must be doggin' it.  Either that or they've confused the US with Imperial Rome again.

Good Morning!

...I'm still working on recipients for the Superior Scribbler Award, so I can claim mine.  Even after eliminating all the folks who've already received one, the list is too long.  

     Maybe this evening.  It's happy-get-ready-for-work-time now!  Blearrrgh.*  (A term I learned from Tam's cat Random Numbers). 

     Don't take any wooden-headed politicians, okay?
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* Spellcheck suggests "blearier."  Pretty close.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Peek Behind The Mask

     Democrat Vice-Presidential Candidate Joe Biden has been working the satellite interview circuit pretty hard, his tie off and his suit jacket draped over a nearby table with careful informality.  This stuff comes over in the clear and all it takes to see it is a C-band dish and receiver.  You don't get to hear the questions, just his side of it.

     One example you've probably seen by now (with both questions and answers) is the interview in which a typical-looking anchorwoman asks him some very untypical questions (about, for example, what's up comments that sound kinda Marxist from the Dem Presidential candidate) and oh my, how it took him off-guard.

     Saw a bit of such a feed, one collection of softball-questions and sound bites after another, interspersed with breaks while the next interviewer dials in.  I was taken by how worn and wary he looked between takes.  Oh, when the bell rings, the old firehorse is rarin' to go, shiny white teeth bared in a happy smile, eyes twinkling.  He's a pro.   But after one session ends and the next is lined up, you could see the tension build.  

     A newsie from middle-class America held a mirror up to his campaign the other day and he didn't like what he saw; now as every new interview begins, he's wondering behind the smile, "Will she point out where the campaign is sounding socialist?  Will he call me elitist?"  

     Hey, Senator, it can't be softballs all the time.  Your party may have most of the media on your side, but you haven't got all of them.

     It's called Freedom of the Press.  Remember?  Pretty sure you're in favor of that when it's used on your opponents.

     Joe Biden's starting to get that hangdog, Spiro Agnew look in his eyes.  I wonder what kind of polling data he's seeing?

Pre-dawn Thoughts

Not much time for posting this morning, but as I laid in bed, half-awake and the various lurid missteps of sundry politicians were paraded across the television, I muttered, "Lay down with fleas, get up with dogs."

     That is the way it seems to work any more.  Oh, they're bad dudes; I figure anyone much above a first-term City Councilman has got some skeleton in the closet.  Yet somehow it still surprises each of them when it comes out, and there's a flurry of protest akin to a cat headed for a bath.  What, you didn't notice when it happened to your peers?

Monday, October 27, 2008

National Public What?

   Saturday morning, Mr. ------ turned on the radio in his Suburban Assault Vehicle on our way to pin-shooting and with a wicked grin, tuned it to NPR, expecting left-slanted news or classical music.  What we heard instead was...  Well, they were in the middle of a highly subjective and personal discussion about boy's underpants.  He, Tam and I sat there aghast for several minutes; I don't know what they were thinking but the pie chart above sprang fully-formed in my mind's eye.  The proportions are estimates but I'd bet a cookie they're close. 

Another Linguistic Patrol

How can you be more one-of-a-kind than one-of-a-kind?    Sorry, Yahoo, you'll be getting a D on this article. 

You Are A Racist If...

...You believe in the existence of actual "Good" and Evil."  Don't believe me?  Ask those experts at prejudice at the Huffington Post.

     Having led off by, among other items, quoting a Glenn Reynolds from Virginia (not, mind you the Glenn Reynolds and how conveeeenient that the two men should both use an uncommon spelling of their first name), HuffPo proceeds to haughtily lecture us pore ijits:
Some people consciously, most unconsciously, hold on for dear life to the pure and invariant categories of "good" and "bad." Keeping them apart and unambiguously distinct helps us retain a reassuring infantile fantasy of safety, order and certainty.
  Yes, "some people."  You know, the ones right next to "those people."  The ones indulging infantile fantasies of "good" and "evil." The ones who don't cower under the sheets at night knowing if someone breaks in, all they'll be able to do is give 'em what they want. Childlike inferiors, who must be led to the truth by their bett--  Hey!  Dammit, why does this sound so terribly familiar?

     Dude?  Dude?  Dude!  Don't cry "prejudice, zomg!!!1!!" and then play the same "in-group/out-group/alas, the heathen Chinee" games yourself.

     As for the main overt thrust of the piece, that the Junior Senator from Chicago is disliked 'cos of (o, the tailfins!  O, the Great-Society thinking) his havin' a paleface Ma and an African Pa, this is persecution fantasy of the wildest sort.  It's (checking watch) 2008, Huffy ones, and you'd go mad if'n you grasped just how "miscegnated" us productive-class humans are. 

     I don't dislike your candidate 'cos of his family, skin color or hairstyle.  (Fact is, I think he's a handsome guy).  I disapprove of his political philosophy.  Remember that stuff?  --Or were you indulging in your own "infantile fantasies" of "order?"

     There is good in this world; there is evil in this world.  Security lies in recognizing them when you see 'em -- and that's not always easy: the skin doesn't tell the tale.  As for "order," sortin' out the world into categories, types, styles and kinds is what humans do.  Certainty?  Look, when I cook a meal, I like to be certain I'm puttin' edibles into it, not poison.

     A splinter in my eye?  How can you tell, past the log in your own?

Here's A Puzzler

I've been awarded an award!  Twice!  By two separate bloggers!  It's pretty darned kewl, too.

     In order to claim it, I have to pick five (at least) other deserving bloggers on to whom it will be passed.  Narrowing down that list will call for some thinkin' and take some time, so -- watch this space.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ahh, October Blogmeet

I counted sixteen eighteen, including Mark Philip Alger, who live-blogged it.  In addition to Scotch Eggs, a new delight has shown up at Broad Ripple Brew Pub: Mexican White Wings: nice-sized, boneless lumps of chicken with a mildly hot pepper, wrapped in bacon, broiled, then dipped in excellent barbecue sauce: ooooh, yeahhhh.  An Upland Wheat Beer went well with it, at least for my palate.

     I'd arrived a few minutes late, Tam filled in as hostess.  I'd set out on the scooter in plenty of time...and flooded it not a block from home.  Note to self: an extra two minutes idle would not have hurt.

     The Cup of Turonistan was awarded to the attendee who had travelled the farthest, in this case Loki, from distant, rolling lands to the North and West and then even Wester.  It's a large china mug  with a pattern of three red stripes, the widest marked in silver with the traditional Turnonistani symbols of friendship and hospitality: six "bullet hole" symbols, three each side of a single stalk of wheat. And it contained a wonderful thing: a bag of M & Ms with cat and book symbols, a gift from Turk himself!   Unable to break away from his steelpoint etchings, professional camel-breeding and demolition efforts for long enough to attend, Turk did the next best thing by calling in from the NRA range.  (And a good thing he did, too -- I have been known to get engrossed in Blogmeetish conversation and miss awarding the Cup).

     I'd found some tiny (concealable?) squirt guns as well, and handed them out at random; naturally someone had to go load up and take out a few targets; I wish I'd thought of that before Breda did!

     Meanwhile, outside the Brew Pub, their pumpkin-carving contest was going on: youngsters safely using appropriate sharp pointy things under adult supervision, what's not to like?  Broad Ripple is hippie territory, but it is by-Buddha not all Nerfed up.   (Want more evidence?  Go up to the Art Center -- fire and molten glass, flowing metal and some of the most fussy-precise work you ever saw, all under one roof).

     A photo of Caleb and Breda side-by-side was snapped (and we have copies hidden!), possibly for Gun Nuts: The Next Generation.  Looks like they'll be live-blogging the election -- my advice, run the TV (if you must) with sound down and listen to their internet radio show instead.

     Eighteen bloggers and bloggees in attendance:
     Breda and Mike
     Old Grouch
     Loki
     James Rummel
     Rob D
     Kerry and spouse
     Red
     Brigid
     Tam
     Mr. ------, Tam's shooty pal
     Caleb
     Loki
     Mad Saint Jack
     Roberta X

     Far too soon, the event was winding down and I scootered home in the ever-stronger breeze.  Winds have increased to the "small craft warning" level as I write and one attendee just called to report having to dodge windblown semis on the freeway.  So Godspeed and travel in safety, friends -- and we'll see you all at the next Indy Blogmeet! 

Speaking Of Wood

Saw this new camo pattern at the gun show.  Snopes notwithstanding, I guess it really is every seven seconds, boys?

     ...Well, you'd be no fun if you lost interest....

You'll Need A Respirator, blue Nitrile gloves,

...a Tyvek suit, Silver-Shield overgloves, disposable overbooties and a roll of duct tape: disposing of broken CFLs, tiny bit of mercury and all. Some "authorities" even advocate the removal of carpet upon which the pernicious devices, er, Gaia-saving wonderments have broken.  Sheesh!

     Look, here's what you do: clean it up as you would any other broken light bulb.  Mind the sharp edges!  The plentiful whitish stuff on the inside is a phosphor compound and it's not good for you. In an old lamp, it has taken up most of mercury.  The combination is really not good for you, so don't lick your fingers.  Refrain from the temption to lick the floor, too.  And don't forget to put on your bicycle helmet!

     Geez-o-pete, it's a fluorescent lamp.  We've had 'em for all your life.  They got smaller.  Can I go back the Planet of the Grown-ups now?

I'd've Thought Wood

Admit it, his various and sundry pronouncements have had you always suspecting his head was an inert object, too:Sorry to say the news story itself is nothing unusual, granting the whole wax-head-of-a-Beatle thing: fellow was taking it to auction and left it on the train, from whence it found its way into a dumpster. Bum Panhandler Homeless person Urban outdoorsman finds it, a reward has been offered, it's all-you-can-drink/shoot up/snort night a new chance for a better life for him and -- hey-la, wotta wild stroke of luck -- all maner of media-attention has focused on the Wax Head Of Sir Paul as it heads for the (auction) block (in a wax tumbrel?  Alas, no). What with all the fuss, Forgetful Owner is innocently hopeful it'll bring a better price.

     And only a cold-hearted cynic would mutter "cherchez le lucre."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Synopsis

...I'm fallin' asleep.  So, the high-concept version:

     From bowling pins to the buffet at India Palace!  You take a nice sniff of good Indian food after a chilly mornin' and you will nearly  weep for delight.  My only regret was that I couldn't spend the afternoon there...on the  other hand, they'll be there next Saturday....

     ...While this season's Indy 1500 Gun and Knife Show is just this weekend!  And there's where we went.  One of our party ended up with quite a treasure (and she'll tell you about it, by and by).  Me, I found chocolate-covered blueberries (yayyy!), a couple of books, a new pair of sunglass clip-ons and a nifty blue gun that's not a gun.  Except it is if you ask Uncle Sam; it just doesn't happen to work unless I stick it onto my Ruger Mk. II plinker.  Much walking, lots of good fun.  My legs are about done in: I wore the tallll linesperson's boots for the pin-shooting and never changed out of them.  My toes aren't speaking to me right now.

     INDY BLOGMEET tomorrow.  See you there!

Evening News

Ommywottaday!

Up at 0500, showered and shiny by 0645, warmly garbed, accoutered, armed, coffee-ed and out the door by 0730: it was Bowling Pin Shooting Day at Marion County Fish and Game with Tam and her shooty pal from a semi-distant school district. He drove, as he helms a Suburban Assault Vehickey of unusual size and carboniferousness and this meant I rode in back-seat comfort in fine leather[1] while the hired help host and faithful companion were up front -- just me, a gawrsharooty lot of firearms and a few jillion pounds of ammunition in the back where the elite -- sorry, 1337 -- loiter.

The pin-shooting was fun, though I had in a moment of weakness driven by the quantity of magazines in hand and the loud-kewl-go-boom of it selected my 1911 in .38 SA. Bad plan. I'm a little vision-impaired but that poor device is sight-impaired. I knew it and yet I failed to so much as take white-out to it. Even that might not have helped. Last time, I shot fairishly well using my very first handgun, an old Star BM. Let us compare:[2]The student (count me in that group) will note the ever so much longer sight radius of the 1911 on the right vs. the affordable Spanish import on the left. Way better, no?

No. That's not the view that tells the story. The bowling pins are seven yards away, I could throw rocks and make minor. It's this angle that counts: You can see the front sight of the Star BM, even in my out of focus snapshot (h'mm, kind of a nice kitchen-table white dot job there, if I do say), while the same unknown genius that halved the value of my .38 Super 1911 compounded his crime by taking the same buffing wheel to the front sight. It wasn't much to start with but it had square corners and the nice people at Colt had checkered it. All gone now, or as close as makes no difference.

A poor worker blames her tools: had I any mother-wit left, I'd've dealt with the situation by squaring up the slide on the target: when you don't see anything but the tail-end of the gun laid over the target, neither side or top, you're aimed. This trick can be a little counterintuitive but it works perfectly well (it's how I set the rear right of the Star seen above when it fell out on its first post-buy trip to the firing line). Or rather, it works when you remember it. I did not and as a result, I scared several bowling pins very badly, tipped over a few more, and shot a couple off the table in the process of expending about a hundred rounds. Hey, smoke, noise and lead going down-range: I had fun!

...But it's a lesson, too. The rear sights of those two guns are nearly twins. The front sight makes all the difference. They ain't a-kiddin'.

Tam and her buddy, on the other hand... Each was irked to have shot less than their best their first time to the line. From then on, it was pretty much just hand 'em a broom! (Tam says different of her performance. All I know are the times I saw -- and in a second-chance tournament, she shot a lot more often than I did, meanin' not so darned badly). Poor ol' bowlin' pins took quite a beating.

...And so did the range: on a chilly, dampish October morning, there were 24 contestants!

So, where do you go from there? What does one do for an encore? Stay tuned for our next episode...!
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1. You would not believe the number of Corinthians they must have skinned to upholster this thing.
2. Let us also learn that the otherwise admirable Safari browser is not so much at letting me shove pix around. So, I can sip a little IE Kool-Aid.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Morning News

...I have got to stop setting my alarm-clock television to play the network morning news show; this morning they led with Doom (and a smile), followed up with Gloom (with an undercurrent of unholy glee), moved on to Partisan Chortling and followed up with Alan Greenspan's self-crucifixion in the name of New Dealism.  Stock Market's fixin' to tank and those heavyweight economic geniuses in Congress will take any excuse to meddle more, though most of it consists of posing for postcard photos with a burning Rome in the background.

     Also, it's raining.

     Laid there thinking, "Why even get out of bed?" 

     On the other hand:

   ● There's a BlogMeet coming up!  This very weekend.  Sunday, to be exact, 3:00 pm at Broad Ripple Brew Pub.  With The Breda and Her Mike, no less!  The Cup Of Turonistan will be awarded.  (We finally found the cup, rolled under the couch, it had).  Other amazing prizes will be given as well.  Gotta be there to win!

   ● Speakin' of Turonistan: the Venerable Turk sent a huge box of the bestest mood-lifters I have encountered.  Small, brightly colored, bagged, legal.  An' some will be awarded with the Cup!

   ● The Associated-please-let-us-back-on-blogs Press has a recent poll that puts Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain neck and neck; it's just one of many, most of which show a ten-point or greater lead for the Senator from Chicago but it tracks with some of the reports that the Hopey-Changey campaign's own numbers are running closer than what we're seein'.  Even HuffPo ran a thinkpiece.  Not so much on the think but at least they tried. (There are several innocent reasons for poll results to be skewed; a lot of people will play to what they think pollsters want to hear and the Democrats traditionally do better in the demographics most likely to have time and inclination to answer nosey questions).  Withal, please get out there and vote!  McCain, Barr, somebody; just don't stay home and let your neighbor do it.  He'll get it wrong.   The future belongs to those who show up.

   ● The Indy 1500 is in town this weekend! Yayy!  

  ● Tam, her shooty pal and I will be shooting in a  bowlin' pin match this weekend, too.  I'm thinking about trying the old .38 Super 1911 on 'em.   Sights aren't much but hey, that matches my aim.  ;)  Where's my nail file and the flat white nail polish...?

     All right, I'm awake.  Now if only I can remember how to operate the shower...!  No scooter today: rain, icky but no stopper.  Fall leaves, pretty, not without danger but not a stopper.  Add 'em up, it's a different thing.  Wet leaves?  Bzzt!  No-Go.  And I'll be enjoying not sliding, too.  

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sure Enough

I did take the scooter and I did end up (whisper it) taking about a block of sidewalk.  But it wasn't due to the adoring crowds at the Democrat rally, or even throngs of FFA-ers, but simple road construction.  Say what you will, scootering makes the day go better.  Even the ride home in the (warmer -- those morning commutes have an edge!) darkening of evening was interesting.

     All this to spend an entire. blamed. day. working on fixing and/or finding a substitute for Some Small But Critical Equipment that decided to go belly-up overnight and for which -- oopsie!  -- we had no backup.  After pricing state-of-the-art replacements, that little oversight stopped bein' a mystery.  Alas, it left little time for snark.  (Considerable for fretting, bad theories and perspiration and not a little "Your Complex And Critical Device Has Suffered Non-Recoverable Error And Must Be Shut Down."  Yes, and then wrapped in tinfoil an' buried at a crossroads in the dark of the Moon, too, I bet.  You can't hardly get good newt any more).

     ...No time for snark except perhaps this observation, that is: the hippies are enthusiastically voting for a candidate with the shortest hair since Eisenhower while conservatives look pull the lever for a fellow with hair down well over the tops of his ears (and maybe even on his collar in back!).  How'd this happen?  Real Life: way more rich and complex and filled with bulldoodle than any book or film!  

Also In Town

(Remember, no matter what you hear, Hoosiers love chaos; this is the only possible explanation for things like the Indy 500 as a spectator sport).

     Sooo...in addition to the Media's Anointed Junior Senator from Illinois, the FFA's National Convention's in town!  This distinctively-dressed and conservative-lookin' bunch is always an interesting addition to the city scene (and they generally look to be having more fun than most folks ever get) and I can only imagine the looks that will be exchanged between the farther-out of the Senator's fans and many of the young folks in FFA.  Think of it as a broadening experience from both sides, friends.  Also a before-and-after of the good effects of soap and water. A-hem.

     Salient difference: attendees at the FFA gathering won't have to pass through metal detectors and they're not forbidden to carry umbrellas, while the reverse is true at the Hopey-Changey love-in.  If there's a message here, it's, "You can trust the agriculture careerists, but not the Democrats."  Okay, now tell me something I didn't know.   (Why did it have to be -- umbrellas?  Egads, has The Penguin been sendin' threatening notes?  Biff! Pow!  Geesh). 

--------------------------------------- 

    One thing I didn't know is that it's not "Future Farmers of America" any more and hasn't been for quite some time.  In an effort to broaden their scope, they did the RCA trick and changed their name to their initials.  Hey, it's your .org -- but remember, we all gotta eat: farmers are vital!

---------------------------------------

     ...High winds for this afternoon but I still wanna ride the scooter.  Haven't been able to all week and I'm still suspecting nimbleness will be to my advantage in the traffic: people high on politics tend to cluster and form huge snarls of idiocy.  Also they drive stupidly.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Santabama's Comin' To Town

...He'll be right there at American Legion Mall, Senator Obama that is, in front of the Central Library -- and not too far from all the horrrrrible war toys at museum in the World War Memorial. Careful, lefties, you might get some reality on yourselves. Ew, ick!

My reality is, even if it was Senator McCain, Governor Palin and a recently-risen Barry Goldwater,[1] the primary impact it would have on me would be the same: Gonna make my life harder in at least two ways:
A) This is within a mile or so of the Skunk Works, Main Campus. So traffic will reach a degree of wretchedness usually seen only on marching-and-chowder type holidays, though possibly with less nudity or green beer.
B) Us skunkworkers being actually in the bigtime news media biz, with pictures that move (and even talk! Yes, it appears talkies are here to stay),[2] the degree of madhousery inside the building will mirror, if not exceed, that to be found on the streets and all the hewers of video and drawers of microwave links will be up to their elbows in it, leaving members of the leisure set like me to fill in the tasks they'd otherwise be doing. It's better than havin' to hunt up things to do, right?

There's either a thrill runnin' up my leg already or my knee is acting up. Not sure which. I'm giving serious though to riding my scooter to work tomorrow -- it's more nimble in traffic and can, in a pinch, be ridden on sidewalks.
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1. Okay, the last one might intensify the drama, some. But not all that much -- after all, he was only a Republican.
2. Not always in sync. It happened on The Jazz Singer, too. I ended up hand-carryin' a local political spot -- on actual physical media oh the horror of it -- down to High-End Editing so the $$$ boys with rows of Emmys on the wall could move the sound back five frames and make it look less like a Godzilla movie dubbed to English on a budget. It took longer to ingest than to fix and once done, we piped it back over the data network to the video server: half steam, half magic, three-quarters telepathy and one-eighth done by a very small trained mouse yoked to a plow. Clawing our way into the 21st Century, Rube Goldberg wing.

So This Is Hump Day

And what a co-inky-dink: just last night, I learned the IRS lost my tax return. (Gee, so that's why the check never arrived?) As a new homeowner with some large-ish medical bills (scooter wreck stuff) , I'd had a complicated return (for me) and filed late on an extension. Sent in the State tax forms the same day and received a pittance back right on schedule but Great White Father in Washington, him no find treaty 1040-Whichever plus ancillary forms. My tax dollars at work and/or playin' hooky.

Still, "I wept that I had lousy cards, until I met a man that couldn't join the game,"* as we don't say: in France, they're sellin' voodoo dolls of Nicolas Sarkozky, with instructions for the unimaginative, and he's not even a little amused. Hey, Prez: ooga-booga! And in the real world, where grown-ups work with real things, India's sent an (unmanned) mapping mission to the moon. Press is playing that one as part of the China-India "space race" but I'm not so sure -- I think they're planning to make detailed maps, staff up a call center and sell lease real-time support services to China's manned missions: "Now at the next little crater, Cmdr. Chen, you will be wanting to turn right and look for the beacon of the supply module...." Meanwhile back in the land of make-believe, Japanese climbers in Nepal think they've found Yeti tracks. Pull the other one, it's got bells on: if it was real, they'd've tracked it down, taken a zillion photographs of each other standing next to it, then served it up sashimi style.
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* Euchre with matchsticks as the stakes, most likely. Oh, it's a wild, wild life.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We'll All Be Happy After The Pulse

The FDA has approved Transcranial Electromagnetic Stimulation to treat depression.

Yes, after all those years of "I've bulk-erased my mind" jokes in my line of work, there may be something to it. --Or it could be a big fat placebo; I'm pretty sure some Big Outfit would do a study of the effectiveness of whacking depressed people with cricket bats if there was a hint of help there and if it did prove to work even a little, some supplier would be making and marketing an official treatment version.

Either way, I'm looking forward to the TV ads: "Zap your unhappiness away!" (Even if it does work, I'd as soon not have Habeeb and Billy-Bob try treatin' the whole nation. That would suck; also, Fox would cancel it).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Beer Question

...I'd ask Tam but she'd injure herself laughing....*

The Data Viking and I made the rounds of the "healthy and/or gourmet food" stores Sunday: Fresh Market, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods and it bein' Sunday and alcohol sales bein' verboten here in Hoosierland ('cos $DEITY punches a nearsighted kid every time you get drunk on Sunday and you, well, you, pal, there is no way any adult beverage in your house lasts more than a day, right? Perfectly logical!) --Where was I? Oh, yes, the two of us not quite teetotallers found ourselves walkin' around great vast heaps, stacks and shelves of beer and wine we could not buy (due that aforementioned law to protect nearsighted kids from the Fist of Fate). Naturally, we were intrigued. (Hey, there's a light beer called "Edison" after the inventor of [electric] light; and you thought my puns were groaners...).

But -- yes, question, comin' to that, I did not either forget and you can't prove otherwise -- neither of us are big fans of hops. IPAs are hoppy indeed, so what's the opposite? Are there any decent beer-like beverages that are not especially bitter? Endless opportunities for cheap shots at American lagers here, I know, but it's a serious question. Or ought I stick to cider and he to mead?
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* In Tamland, it's alll about the hops.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wrong Joe!

Congresswoman Tells Media "Do Your Job;" They Cry "McCarthyism"

The Lefty blogosphere is peeing itself with glee and chanting "McCarthyism." Seems Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann went on a talking-head news program and spoke of a certain Presidential candidate's known associates and their "liberal, left-wing, anti-American" views.

Somehow (and that would mean, "at the insistence of the host") it morphed into his claims that she was accusing some members of Congress (besides the candidate earlier alluded to) of harboring anti-American sentiments. Her response, at least twice, was to say the media ought to look into the backgrounds and beliefs of all members of Congress (a series I, for one, would be delighted to watch -- and at one bio a night, it'd be a long-running show).

This suggestion was treated with horror and contempt; it is the basis for the Left's charges of "McCarthyism" against her. "The darkest impulses of the Right," they moan. (Hey, that's racist!)

Ooopsie. No, you perniciously ignorant pontificators, "lookin' into the background of Congressmen" was one of the things the media did that curbed Tailgunner Joe's excesses; and unlike Congress, the Press can't charge somebody with "contempt" or even treason and have 'em hauled off.

(Which reminds me, how many citizens were internally exiled based on McCarthy's hearings? Zilch. How many put to death? Zero. How many did Congress blacklist? None. And were there actual Communists in government and media? Yes. Was the CP-USA under the control of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union? Yes. McCarthy's methods stank and his use of a bad situation to advance himself was detestable -- but he did not make it all up. BTW, Alger Hiss actually was a spy).

Have a look at the link -- and remember, when the Left try to bend and control debate, they are innocent lightworkers, while askin' if maybe the press would like to start diggin' into the political leanings and background of politicians is exactly the same as trying to begin a pogrom. --See, that's where the Left goes for the wrong guy; they're accusin' the Right of wantin' to reanimate one Joe while their pet Press channels a different Joe.

Hey, legacy media? Do your job. Or keep right on sinking amid the failures of the past.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Gettin' Along

This has been percolating in what passes for my brain for awhile. I don't know that it's brewed up to much but I want to put it on media outside my own skull before the mood passes.

People have opinions, evaluations, judgements, and most of us try our level best to get it right, at least according to our own lights. We're in the middle of a contentious election season and folks are worked up.

That's normal. It's okay.

Readers here will see me speak harshly of politicians and political schools of thought; I am not especially even-handed because, as I see it, the Left does more harm than the Right, but I have criticized both of the major parties and will continue to do so. (The only thing that got me voting for John McCain was the press's bizarre reaction to his VP pick; anyone they loathe that much starts out well ahead of the pack with me). I'm also unsparing of folks who take me to task for my politics in comments here; you can see two choice examples (along with a stunned reaction I'm proud of having caused) skewered on the sidebar.

However... I don't force my opinions on anyone and as long as they extend the same courtesy to me, we get along fine. Tam writes occasionally of our neighbor, as nice a person as anyone could hope to meet, and I am pretty sure she and I come close to cancelling each other right out at the voting booth. So what? We still get along fine. Our vastly differing politics don't make us enemies. They do mean we vote for politicians who are enemies and guess what? It's those yabbos' job to fight it out.

I've read a few reports of more-than-rudeness -- people hit over the head with signs. Vandalism. Y'know, a nice shouting match between a couple of folks in the mood for it is one thing but bear in mind, when the dust clears? We'll all still be there. Buying groceries, runnin' the register, pumping gas, playin' cards against one another and stuffin' our lunches side-by-side in the same fridge.

It's okay to think some (most?) of the people around you are misguided or just plain wrong but no matter which side you're on, no matter if your guy wins or loses, there's no excuse to initiate force against people who are not doing so to you.

And that holds true no matter if you believe in ant-heap socialism, old-school good-manners conservatism, or everything's-a-transaction anarchocapitalism: we do all have to cope with one another. "Please" and "thanks" and "how are you?" are there for a reason, as is small talk about the weather; smile and use 'em.

When you just can't keep your pearls of wisdom to yourself? Then you get yourself a blog!

Oh, Yeah!

I wasn't able to go shoot this morning. I was nursing a sick tomcat. He improved steadily (it's surprising the good a little olive oil can accomplish) and when the assorted crew rolled up, I was ready and able to get over to the wondrous hog roast.

Lemme just say -- one moment, have to stop myself droolin' -- if there's a better meal than farm-fresh roast hog with home-made barbecue sauce on freshly-baked real bread* and washed down with cold cider, I don't know what it is.

We shopped a bit, then went back to Roseholme and sat on the porch, chattin'. The grown-ups had locally-brewed Gnawbone IPA which I am assured is world-class, whilst I enjoyed a Jarritos tamarind soda. (I only barely drink beer; it's nice with a grilled steak sometimes but otherwise, I do not seek it out. So sue me. I'm a retired binge drinker: beer was never on my radar).

It was a grand time. Eventually (this means after a nap), it was time to rake leaves and then time to scooter over to the big-box building supply store for leaf bags.

On the way back, I stopped by Locally Grown Gardens to score an apple pie and had a gander at the salmon waiting to be grilled. Yum!

Not such a bad place to be, ol' Broad Ripple.
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* Not that squishy stuff they sell in stores. I'm sure it's nutritious and fillin' but I'm talkin' about actual bread, with taste and texture.

A Quick History Of Envy

...From Joe the Plumber to Mr. Lincoln's war with stops at (the odious) Wilson[1] and Bryan, a blogger (!) editorializing[2] in the Christian Science Monitor discusses the past and present of the Progressive's progressive taxation, pointing out links to an ages-old weakness of popular democracy. (Bonus: Progressive scorn for the "outmoded" Constitution from nearly a hundred years ago. Sheesh).

More on the topic, here. Not sure I agree with the conclusion of point one, which smacks entirely too much of "economic justice."
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1. It's a title he earned quite fairly, over and over and over.
2. Scott Johnson at Powerline, a "blog" in about the same way an aircraft carrier is a "ship:" yes but way bigger. Gee, no oarlocks?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Misogyny

The media have told us for years how America is so horrrrribly prejudiced against women, especially when it comes to achieving high positions. They've pointed out and bemoaned the "glass ceiling" while dismissing the exceptions as too few to matter. (I guess it only counts if we get there via quota?)

Now along comes Sarah Palin.

It's a funny thing about any candidate who is a member of a party the media dislike: it gives us a magic window into how they really feel (and/or think, though "thinking" is increasingly rare in journalism) about whatever other categories to which the candidate may be deemed to fit. Thus was Ron Paul portrayed as a mere clueless geek, Mitt Romney as -- oh shock awfulness -- a Mormon (probably with an extra wife or two in the basement) and John McCain as a ranting dodderer, and they were and are, as far as the legacy media are concerned, fair game. Old people, members of religions seen as non-mainstream and people who read and attempt to apply the fine print? Big Media thinks you're a joke. At best.

So their reaction to Governor Palin gives us a peek behind the facade at how they view women and their place in the world, and what they're saying between every line is simple: "Get your dim little self back in the kitchen, sweetie, and leave the Real Work to the menfolk."

The Washington Post's recent endorsement of the junior (and still very green) Senator from Illinois coupled with an attack on Sarah Palin as "inexperienced and not ready to lead" is one of the clearest and most recent examples: the Democrats run an inexperienced man for the top spot? Okayfine with the Post! It's hunky and dory, filled with glory! The GOP runs a female newcomer to the national stage for the number two position? Oh, noes!!!!! Post says Do Not Want, grimacing in revulsion.

We should probably thank our lucky stars the Republicans didn't run Condoleezza Rice. I'd just as soon not find out the dinosaur media's real feelings about race.

Vote against prejudice (and give the Irish bookie who already paid out on U. S. Presidential bets a very bad day). Remember, your Mom's watchin'!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Arrrgh!

Kind of late, isn't it? One of the three power units for the stardrive array is on the fritz (no offense) again. It's a middlin' mysterious failure; it will run at reduced power and I am fair wore out, so I tweaked it to a level that I am moderately confident it can hold and bailed out for bed. There's no playin' with high voltage when you're not a hundred percent.

Fun, fun. This stuff never breaks at the start of the day, when you''re all bright and chipper and the factory techs who know all the gotchas are easily available. Nope -- it's the evening you're hopin' for a decent dinner and have laundry an' mending to do.

Well, it pays, anyhow.

Why I Shoot

Update: Your responses to the question have been delightful! One blogger suggested "Why I shoot" should become a meme. I think maybe it has.

...I'm way short of time (trying to get caught up at work), so this won't be as introspective as I'd like. Perhaps that's for the best.

Though I was exposed to firearms -- rifle and shotgun -- at a very early age, and enjoyed rifle-shooting off and on in our backyard (the 1950s-vintage bombshelter, which we used during tornadoes, made a fine backstop) as I was growing up, as an adult it was a bit over a decade before I shot again.

What started me shooting was not so much being robbed at gunpoint twice or even my fascination with small complicated devices. It was politics.

Plenty of shooters become political after realizing their interest is threatened by legislators. I don't know how common it is to move from conservatism to anarchism to small-l libertarianism, slowly working out along the way that self-defense is a basic human right and starting from there, resolve to become adequately proficient with firearms, especially ones suited to defending oneself.

I'm not a hunter -- never really had the knack. I'm not driven to make long-distance bullseyes or even to become a Seven-Gun Combat Ninjamaster (or whatever it is) . Just wanted to be good enough to be able to say NO! to bad guys in a language they could understand.

How about you? Why do you shoot? Why do you carry, if you carry at all?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Common Sense: Long Dead And Reeking

Front page of this morning's Indianapolis Fishwrap, headline "A Lane Of Their Own:"
Bill [Redacted] was pedaling along the Central Canal Towpath and crossing Meridian Street in April when an SUV turned right on a red light and left him with a broken leg.
...
A specially designated lane for cyclists could have helped him avoid being hit.
(Story continues, detailing plans for some 200 miles of bike lanes, an idea I kind of like if we can afford it).
How would a special lane have helped here? --And how would it be any more special than the marked lane (and "safety island") that already exists where the CC Towpath, along with Westfield Boulevard, crosses Merdian Street?

No question in my mind that Bill got a very bad deal; he had the right of way and thanks to an inattentive driver, suffered injuries and had a long, painful recovery. (Almost the same kind of damage I took -- so I don't have to guess, I know it's teh sux). --But in any confrontation between two wheels and four, the four wheeler wins. Every time. Ask the guys on big Harleys if you won't take my word for it.

There is no special lane that could have prevented this accident. If we don't want cars and bikes to clash, then having them cross on the same level isn't an option; but it's expensive and not always possible.

More specialness would not have prevented the accident the Star cites. A little more attention paid to where they were going on the part of all involved might have helped; it's an angled intersection with sub-optimal visibility and tootling along with one's head in some other game and/or -- drivers, I'm looking at you here! -- a celphone stuck to one's ear is a recipe for collision.
Whatever you are driving/riding, when you are at the controls of a vehicle on the roads, that's your task. Yakking on the phone, pondering the day ahead or just past or (as I watched someone do as she turned left in front of me the other day) applying mascara is not a good idea. About the only way to fix the problem by means of a bike lane is to pave the lane with inattentive drivers: attractive notion but not, alas, a practical option.

Believe It Or Don't

.....Rumor tells of a centuries-old orphanage in Japan, run by an order of Zen monks who, in order to instill balance, have always included strength training and flower-pressing lessons in the education of their charges.

Through a complex and rigorous program of exercise and the interleaving of flowers in the pages of books, they have graduated a huge number of Mighty Orphan Flower Pagers!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dear Yahoo

Dear Mr. (or Ms.) Yahoo:

Thanks for the busy start page, filled with a summary of my e-mail, newsy links, weather and...opinion. Oh, gee: no thanks for the opinion section.

You're a smart, semi-hip ISP and able to provide tailored content, so why is it that I can either get Lefty opinion from you or none at all? Today's a typical morning and I see two slash pieces from The Nation (hard Left), one from HuffPo (ditto), one from RealClearPolitics (centrist to very slightly Right; they call it "ideological diversity" and it's not a bad goal) and one from The Christian Science Monitor (centrist, more-or-less). That would leave Yahoo, day after day after day, Left of center on average. And every single one of these sources takes a massive, invasive Federal, State and City government as a given.

This tracks closely with the same editorial stance that the legacy media are riding over the cliff. It might be time to review -- and to consider offering a wider array of choices under "opinion."

Yrs,
Roberta X

(Readers: Tam keeps tellin' me "the fix is in" for this Fall's election. Could be).

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ideas: Good, Bad

Good Idea: Bruce Lee Kung Fu movies
Bad Idea: Robert E. Lee Kung Fu movies
Badder Idea: Brenda Lee Kung Fu movies
Worse Idea: Geddy Lee Kung Fu movies

Good Idea: Batman
Bad Idea: Ballman

Good Idea: The Lone Ranger
Bad Idea: The Strange Loner

Good Idea: Spiderman
Bad Idea: Centipedeman. Earthwormman is even worse. ("We'll drive him to the surface -- with electricity!" gloated the Fisherman, his arch-nemesis).

...It's probably a good thing I don't write scenarios for comic books. (It did occur to me today that soap operas and anime have much the same scripts and themes; one could take audio recordings of "Days Of The Young And Restless Guiding Light," animate to them, and make a mint sellin' em to fans! ...Or not).

How Divisive! How Hateful!

Found this morning. As near as I can figure out, Mr. Orwell, it's "Admiration is Hate" over at that mag. OMG, what'll the Eeeee-vil GOP do next? Shake hands? Smile? The horror. The horror!

Dear Left: Please try to grow up. (And John Lewis, what have you been smoking? Pigweed?)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Corrupt Congressthings?

Who would have thunk members of Congress would be described as "corrupt?" (Encountered while doing a search on "crazy Socialists Congress." I won't tell you what name it was I couldn't remember).

Vote 'em out. Vote 'em all out.

Grounded

This was earlier in the week.

Sunday

Did not go to the Battle: I was still dog-tired this mornin'. :(

Did get a visit from a shooty pal in the afternoon. She and Tam and I all went to Taste, a very fine place for wondrous food. It's what happens when a couple of very high-end chefs find themselves with some spare cash and the hankering to prove it really is about the food. Um, it is.

...And on the way home, stopped at this place:

Where we enjoyed Indiana Honey-Crisp apples and apple cider! --And then noticed this happy news: H.O.G. R.O.A.S.T. Barbecue: home-made sauce, home made bread. Dished out by the farmer that raised it. Please don't let the little piggie have been sacrificed in vain: show up. Eat. Eat!

The Policeman's Lot: Happy? Perplexing?

Pick one (1).

Most folks like motorcycles, at least to look at; and who doesn't appove of bathing, especially by others? Combining the two, however, that can be problematic, especially on the street. From Russia, via BoingBoing.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I Keep Nodding Off

Saturday was a very busy day. No old radios for me at the Indiana Historical Radio Society meeting but I did pick up a bigtime hand-powered drill of the sort sometimes called a "chest drill," 'cos one leans into it with the body. It's a Miller's Falls with a nifty built-in level and an odd aftermarket chuck. (Pix later). And I renewed my membership.

After that, much driving about -- went out to Eagle Creek hoping to catch up to Tam and her shooting buddy, but the range had closed. (At 1:00 p.m.; looked like the po-lice had decided to go shootin'; it is already their range Mon-Fri and weekends are often taken. What to do? Well, one needs to shoot fairly often to stay competent and Pop Guns is only way the heck the other side of town... Renewed my membership there, too and had my Indiana lifetime (ooo, yeh) LTCH* laminated as well. 150 rounds later, I was at least assured that I was not shooting any worse.

Ran a couple errands and returned home in time to join Tam & Co. for dinner at Sam's Gyros after a brisk walk. Came back home and dozed off with Random Numbers The Tactical Cat on me.

(PS: Ham antenna work is done for now and the ground rod has been in for a couple of days, finished with the sledge, no fancy tools or techniques needed, just wham, wham, gravity and applied force and a dribble of water from the garden hose -- pictures of that installation later, too).
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* License To Carry Handgun, please note it says nothing about concealed or otherwise though just this very morning and not five blocks away, another permit-holder met up with an LEO who seemed a bit hazy about that...and also about having to set the safety of a 1911A1 to "fire" before one can rack the slide. Y'know, firearms are not actually the main thing an officer needs to know about but at the same time there are some kinda basic skills that a body might think the Academy might be wanting to instill and "clearing common weapons" would be among them. All's well that ends well, and this one did. Other than a lotta not-so-comfy "painting" by certain parties -- I'd add the Four Rules to the curriculum, and ask what witling ever left them out?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Potpourri

● Is "insolvent" the new "insurgent?" Ow.

Linguistic Patrol: At&T (I love you guys, O Providers of my Internet, POTS and Celphone, please don't pull the plug, 'kay? Call me?) keeps stickin' Post-Its™ to the newspaper that read "When you need more than 411, call the new 411." No, dammit, "411" was the number for the old 411. Or is black the new black? "When you need a number more than five, use five." Look, that only works with Aleph-null (et seq...) and I am not sittin' here with my steam-powered desk phone waiting for the dial to scroll back, flipping the pulse contacts a transfinite number of times, okay?

● Overheard: "I would not poke that even with your umbrella." And they said Bowlder[1] was dead! Seems like an open-and-shut case, no?

● Congress -- and most everyone else -- thinks government creates the economy. Which one was there first? Which provided the original impetus for which?

● Speakin of -- ptoo -- Congress, during the great peristaltic gush of bipartisanship that led to passage of the bucket-with-a-big-hole-in-it bailout bill, was lovey-dovey with fellership while the electorate is quite sharply divided between the Big O and the ol' GOP. I was reminded of nothing so much as the scene in Animal House FARM (So that's why I couldn't find my copy? Oh, that Belushi! can you tell I have slept very poorly all week?[2] Does it show?) where the pigs are laughin' it up in the farmhouse while it's biz worse than usual for the other critters. With the added benefit -- for the pigs -- that they've got us too busy against one another to do anything to bring them to heel.

● One more: Congress is a Them everyone can agree on. Greedy excess? Socialism run amok? Exploiters of the downtrod' and destructive class warriors? Baby, there's only one place you'll find all that in one reekin' package and it's under the big dome. This whole Presidential race is just a flappin' red cape we're supposed to charge at. Do so, says I, and enjoy every minute of it -- but on the way, vote out every incumbent legislator on your ballot. At the very least, judge them harshly before you decide. As a general rule and assuming he keeps his booger-hook off the big bang switch, Presidents can only ruin your week; Congress can ruin your life.

● On a lighter note, if ever I compose a dance number for whales, I'll call it the Beluga-Blue Boogaloo!

● Last but not least: you thought ordinary army ants, a million on the march, were creepy? Step it up by a factor of ten or more: say OMG to Siafu.
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1. Bowlder is pictured now as a mealy-mouthed prude. At the time, his Family Shakespeare received a lot of praise for being as true to the Bard as one could manage while making it suitable for a proper Victorian child; nowadays, cultural and language drift has gone far enough that a very little in the plays is considered grownups-only fare: it's either as nothing compared to the evening news or flatly incomprehensible. Back then, not so much.

2. Tam has been house-sitting all this week. I've been on vacation and it turns out that after the decade-plus I was with my ex, if I am alone in a house, I cannot sleep unless I am exhausted. Literally can't -- I nod off and wake up at the least sound. Last time I was home alone and not working every day, I was recovering from a broken femur; I had the challenge of navigating a three-floor house on crutches to occupy my time and plenty of Vicodin. What's worse, several times now I've awakened about halfway and got stuck: can't move, can't think straight, just barely enough wits to fight my way back across an infinity trapped in my own skull.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

An American Carol

Went to see it. Very funny. Nicely done; more "there" there than I expected, with a good many of The Usual Suspects parodied. Unexpected: a hat-tip to George Romero. Oh, and Kelsey Grammer plays George S. Patton marvelously!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Connected To The Planet

Clang! Clang! The sledge rings against a black-iron pipe cap and the copperclad steel rod sinks another quarter-inch. There's a trick to it, just letting the hammer fall; if you hit too hard, the rod bends instead of being driven. If you don't strike squarely, the force mostly just wiggles the rod. The project is best begun shortly after a rain...

I've heard all my life that tech-geeks like me aren't "in touch with the Earth," that we have no "connection to Nature." It is, of course, utter bilge and what I am doing now smacks not at all faintly of some pagan ritual from the mists of Time -- the iron, the hammer, the copper and water, the TOCK! of hammerblows in groups of 16 (about what I can manage in a steady rhythm, then change hands and start over) slowly changing pitch as the rod sinks home. The iron pipe cap saves the end of the rod from getting too mushroomed while giving me a bigger target for hammering.

It isn't a rite of Fall -- or if it is, only by the wildest happenstance. Nor have I daubed myself in cabalistic[1] symbols with blue mud.[2] I'm literally connecting to the Earth and to earth as well, setting an eight-foot ground rod for my amateur radio station. Some hams use shorter ones but that's countin' on damp soil or possibly magic. A lot of folks don't bond to the Power & Light ground, either, which is both wishful thinking and unapproved by the National Electrical Code. Me, I'll find where the electricians connected to the plumbing and link up there: good enough for them, good enough for me. (YMMV -- ask an expert).

What one does in establishing a ground is both wonderful and mundane: establishing an equal-potential surface, or as close to it as can be practically managed, one of very much the same potential as the vast majority of other things -- not, as it happens, lightning strikes or the "hot" side of wall-socket juice. It's important to make sure one's own little puddle of groundedness has a whole lot in common with the one set up for the electrical system! Nor is ground some infinite great sink or sewer that will suck down all noise and wickedness, down, down, down to a nepenthe of darkness and oblivion; sometimes electronics hobbyists and EE students alike think perhaps it might be, but most eventually learn better. That's the mundane side and it's important.

But the wonderful portion, now... Picture a vast, mirror-still pool of salt water. That -- in rather dilute form -- is what that 8-foot ground rod is seeking. It's everywhere, invisible, under the surface. It reflects an image of my antenna above and together like the two wings of a bird, they loft my signal to far-distant lands. Or some guy down the block; as may be. Another way to look at what's happening is to picture ripples in that silv'ry pool, tiny ripples, spreading, widening to embrace the Earth, to tickle other ears a huge distance away: I've chatted with a Cuban hobbyist with 4 Watts into the antenna at my end and not much more at his, each of us using transmitters cobbled together from obsolete vacuum tubes and scrap; past our common humanity, all we had in common was this strange miracle of electrons and nothingness, of brass and the brazen nerve to challenge the Universe with barely enough power to light up the pages of book -- but it was more than adequate to illuminate our shared language of abbreviations and radio slang.

Yeah, it's a hobby for indoor geeks, for shut-ins, for nobodies; people with no connection to other folks, no feel for nature. Sure it is.

I've got the rod about two-thirds driven and it's gone dark. I started on a stepladder and now I'm standing on the ground. Time to put my tools away in anticipation of another dawn. Time to treat the blister forming at the heel of my hand. Below in the basement, my ham gear waits, sleeping. Dreaming. Remembering the vast and friendly darkness, alive with piping signals, words from other souls, other places, other dawns....
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1. Spellcheck options, since it's never heard tell of no cabalistic: "ballistic, cannibalistic, journalistic, Bialystok." Hunh? Helloooo? Bialystok? Max Bialystok?

2. It's called eye line-er. And not that much of it, not really.

Blogtober Octmeet, er, BLOGMEET

It's official!I'm still fiddling with the artwork. The concept was so clear -- the execution, so not.

Hello, Young Bloggers

Or new, anyway. Tam posted links to her first but Julie is a welcome addition to the gunblogosphere, especially since she hails from where it's summer when we're shivering in snow. Along about January, I'll be hoping for reports of sunshine from Perth. Um, okay, begging.

And via her, a link to some RJ-45 based interestingly-geeky jewelry at Artful Articulations. I think one could do more a delicate version (in size, anyway) with male and female SMA connectors, typically gold-plated and about 1/4" OD; they'd need to be pared down to the minimum for jewelry but that's exactly the kind already made for direct circuit-board interface.
For a more Victorian take, 7mm connectors would be ideal, but they'd have to be lockets: as UHF-and-up connectors go, they're huge. But they refrain from doing anything so coarse as actual mating: when they hook up, they chastely kiss. Downside: these high-precision connectors cost like jewelry already! Very cool but a little creepy. (Creepier still when you look at 'em with test equipment: on the frequencies where I play, they do. not. show. up. There's no discontinuity at the interface as far as the costs-more-than-a-Tesla-roadster test gear can see. They're stealth connectors!)

Sure, It's Mean, But

As much as I love to ride, every time I get into heavy traffic, I think if I ever buy a big motorcycle (or maybe even if I repaint my scooter) I'll go with bright yellow, black trim and perhaps a stylized bird in flight, 'cos then I could call it "The Shortest Bus."

It's a fun hobby. It's a challenging hobby. --In a world filled with drivers chattering on celphones, it is inherently unsafe. Best so far? A guy on one of those 49.999 cc no-license-needed scooters weaving in and out of heavy traffic, helmetless, ungloved, T-shirt and slacks, cellular phone to his ear. I trailed about half a block back, getting dirty looks from drivers still recovering from his wake of chaos. If that's the 1% of motorscooterists who give the rest of us a bad name, I realllly hope he gets crosswise of the 1% of motorcyclists...when they're not having a happy-fun rainbow-filled day. Srsly, d00d, your ambition to become a hood-ornament is an act of aggression in need of correction.

--Mysteries of (human) Nature: two groups most likely to be wearin' safety gear on motorcycles/scooters: commuters and mean, gnarly-lookin' bikers. Least likely: kids of all ages on 50 cc toys and credit-card road warrior/yuppies on shiny-shiny Big Name motorcycles -- and members of the last group are also the most likely to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. (Tam pointed out the Bicycle Paradox; I think it's 'cos Mom or Wifey often rides along when bicycling and Sonny/Hubby dunno "manly" from "stupid.")

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

High Weekend Hopes, Busy Day

Indiana Historical Radio Society meet Saturday (I must renew my membership!), Battle of Mississinewa Sunday (I'm pretty sure we'll defeat the Crown forces yet again), maybe some range time somewhere later Saturday -- Eagle Creek, if the IMPDs aren't still usin' it for training. Or Atterbury if I haven't been able to get down there any sooner.

Went down to Beech Grove Firearms with Tam today; they're doing the transfer for her "Gun Blog 9" from Para Ordnance. Right across from the Amtrak repair yards -- or, if your ballon is tinfoil-covered, Teh NWO Death Camp Of Eeeevil. Hmpf! Look, say the wildest-eyed of our fellow citizens are right: if that's the best the Feds can do death-campwise, we can all relax; County jails are hundreds of times tougher. The place is just about secure enough to be...a train yard.

Couple of things caught my eyes at BGF: a nice-lookin' Star PD and a nickelled Colt 1911A1 (call me weak: shi-ny. Besides, it would make a set with my deep-reblued 1911 .38SA). ...Tam's antsy to get me over to [another local gun shop] to see a pair of Savage pistols. Marvelous ergonomics, nice-looking in a Steampunk/Deco way, unusual in design and function and -- thanks to design that reacts poorly to dirt -- not especially practical to carry. But you've got to admire a striker-fired pistol with what appears to be an external hammer! They are the most natural-pointing pistols I have ever held; I own one in .32 and it is easy to shoot accurately.

I was hankering for Yats (spicy food over rice? Ohboy!) but Tam hauled me over to Northside News Cafe instead, an offshoot of the nifty newstand. Turns out their sammiches are first-rate! Plus they have some of the better small brands of soda pop. Natcherly I bought several magazines, including Make and a similar one for home furnishings, Ready Made.

Got home, failed to clear the gutters (um, it was, like, raining, d00d!) and watched a little of the debate off and on. Is it just me or are both these guys a bit...mediocre at the public-speaking thing?

October Blogmeet And Party-O-Matic Date?

It's suggestion time! What weekends are good for you? It appears I'll have other plans next Sunday but all the rest are fair game.

Happy Unbirthday Tooo Meeee!

This blog is a year old today!

--Never thought I'd have the patience. Or that folks would read it. But that, as I pointed out in my second blog entry, is your worry; me, I just write the stuff.

I believe "eyebleeds" was my first label or tag. It comes from, "staring at a blank sheet of paper or screen until your eyes bleed," a process which is, of course, the foundation of all true art.

Mmm-mmm Good!

Or not too bad and they make smoke come out the ears of ├╝ber-sofizztickated posers, which is a whole 'nother level of good: gummi candies shaped like tractors and farm animals!

Best line in the review: "With the John Deere branding on the box, it could just as well have contained sparkplugs..." Oh, yeah. They stick to my dental work, but sign me up.

So, when do we get the version shaped like tiny AR-15s, mooseheads, tiaras, eyeglasses and maps of Alaska?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Big Plans

I'm on vacation this week, doing things like major house work, running radio antenna lines into the basement (and planning out at least one more antenna), building bookshelves and so on. But sometime this week, I wanna go here: Atterbury Range! I have not been there since the last big revamping. The place looks plush (especially the clubhouse, compared to the decrepit trailer rangemasters previously used; looks like the pistol range is much improved, too) and it's in a pretty portion of the State. Likely to be Shotgun Heaven this time of year.

Amusingly enough, you can see the range as I saw it last, here: beseems that because the place is right by Camp Atterbury (and within the WW II-era boundaries), updates to satellite pix of the area are a bit slow. (I'm having difficulty coming up with numbers but Indiana's Guard and Reserve troops are and have been deployed in a very big way and an awful lot of them pass through Atterbury).

My baby bro the reservist chaplain (no, really) points out that Indiana is bombed regularly by the USAF, mostly flying out of Virginia, hitting the South section of Camp Atterbury. Daggone it, I thought the War Between The States was over already!

Tabloid Headlines

In a supermarket checkout line the other day, I read the following three headlines on the front of the same scandal-sheet:

"OCTOBER 2008: EVERY END-OF-THE-WORLD PROPHECY COMES DUE!!!"

"TWO EGGS A DAY REDUCE CHOLESTEROL!"

"New! PHOTOS OF SARAH WITH SECRET LOVER!"

If the first one is true, why should anyone care at all about the other two? If the end of the world is arrivin' on the next bus, I'm havin' bacon and eggs for breakfast every darn day -- and I'll tar'n'feather some Congressthings after lunch!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Aha!

...She'll bend my ear about this one but it's just too good a fit: J-List sells a Tam action figure!

(Note: links go to innocuous image pages from J-List, work-safe. Past that, angels do not tread an' I left blushing).

Maybe Sunday?

I should have gone to the range Saturday morning -- I even woke up in time to meet friends there. But I didn't.

Blogging about things that are too personal is said to be unmannerly. Not done. OTOH, my readership is not large and I have no class,* so....

What I did instead was vacuum Mittens's favorite chair and put it in the basement. I just couldn't stand to walk by it, expect to see the cat and then remember. Random Numbers wasn't using it -- she has her own bed, a folded blanket on a crate in the dining room where I'm hoping to build a window seat that should be a cat-friendly spot.

I spent my teen and pre-teen years peeling my pet kitties up off the road, dead, with distressing regularity. (An "indoor cat" was a pretty rare thing back then). My own two cats are off-the-charts elderly and spend most of their time dozing on the very desk at which I am blogging. The sudden departure of a cat, epecially one so nice, is painful.

Spent the rest of the day scootering and working on various house projects. I did manage to visit Sakura Mart and remembered to pass the money using both hands; it's not so much they notice as it is they notice when you do not. (It's a perfectly wonderful Japanese grocery store -- at 5' 9" and a hundred-something pounds, I am about 1.25X overscale for the place and work at not being a cow in a china shop). Restocked my supply of Black Black gum: mint-eucalyptus strong, caffinated and spiked with niacin, what's not to like? (Update: Link goes to Black Black gum search results at J-Box, the wholesome side of J-List, which I'm told imports a vast and rather -- ahem -- wide array of items from Japan. J-Box is work-safe; past there, you're on your own. If you live in a city of much size, a trip through the Yellow Pages is likely to put you in touch with a much closer source of Japanese snacks, as little .jp grocery stores are increasingly widespread. IMO, Japan's got some of the best junk food on the planet).

...Blogging, it seems to me, is an invasion of privacy one commits on one's self.
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* Update: Technicically incorrect, as the preceding blogoglyph reports test results giving me 19% class, though it fails to specify if that is by weight or volume.

So That's Me, Then?

Your result for The Classic Dames Test...

Katharine Hepburn

You scored 14% grit, 38% wit, 38% flair, and 19% class!


You are the fabulously quirky and independent woman of character. You go your own way, follow your own drummer, take your own lead. You stand head and shoulders next to your partner, but you are perfectly willing and able to stand alone. Others might be more classically beautiful or conventionally woman-like, but you possess a more fundamental common sense and off-kilter charm, making interesting men fall at your feet. You can pick them up or leave them there as you see fit. You share the screen with the likes of Spencer Tracy and Cary Grant, thinking men who like strong women.


Take The Classic Dames Test at HelloQuizzy

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Um, Wrong, D00d

I wonder how this guy feels now that Senator Obama's got his own satellite TV channel?

Makes Bill Ayers best pal look like Pat Boone, doesn't it? No, wait, that's not fair to Pat; it makes him look more like Lawrence Welk. Yessiree, a well-spoken and telegenic Great Leader in a clean shirt, one who won't scare the populace until it's too late, that's the ticket. Decent haircut. And gosh-darn it, none of that poetry stuff, either, it makes the ignert flyovers all uncomfy.

Y'know what? All things considered, I like Gil Scott-Heron a lot better than the Senator from Chicago. Man looks you in the eye, unequivocally tells you where he stands -- and still packages it better than anyone running for office. Politically, he and I are poles apart on everything except perhaps the lack of content in rap lyrics. Musically, a guy who can get me to sit through a fretful song about a power reactor that acted up (but didn't go kaboom and has nevertheless been a focal point of freeze-in-the-dark PSH ever since) near Detroit is doing very well indeed.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Rubicon Again?

We cross here, so head for the water, boys, greaves[1] off an' who's got the dice?

...It seems to me that "Rubicon crossing" has become a regular feature. The last big one was the Congressional shirking of declaring war on Iraq, mostly so later they could say, "Nuuuh-unh, it wasn't us, it was those meanies in the Executive Branch," and who gave a darn if it wasn't the way the Federal Gummit was supposed to work as long as they got some wiggle room? Constitution? A meaningless piece of paper from men too male, too white and altogether dead, a thing to be cast aside by a simple vote.

Now comes Friday's Great Pork Festival, in which a bill that was wayyyyy too bloated for the House earlier has come back, crammed to the bursting point with goodies, a camel stuffed with a goat stuffed with a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a hen and the whole thing stuffed right up our tax bill, dry and sideways. Oh, yum: the biggest bit of meddling since the National Recovery Administration opened shop and Garret Garet opened up his typewriter to fire salvos at it. Yessir, Mr. Garet, that Revolution Within The Form you saw is well more than half-baked now![2]

Conversely, a good many of the House members -- and I use the term with deliberate punning malice -- are as half-baked as ever. Struttin' an' preenin' afore the cameras all afternoon, as though they'd personally solved the problem forever, instead of en masse and badly for about, oh, I give it half a year, 12 months at the outside.

Congress. Rope. Big damn scaffold on the Capitol steps: some assembly required.

I don't know how much it would help, besides perhaps the hemp and jute industries. There are plenty more where they came from, most with no grasp of where the value of money is created or who Adam Smith was. Or even the sense to pour sand out of a boot, for all that many of them graduated law school. Or do I repeat myself?[3] But they look all shiny an' sincere; they smile and hand out candy, telling us we'll march into the future shoulder-to-shoulder under their benevolent guidance (except for the fat cats and/or lazy or otherwise unlikable. You gotta have a Those People, just wait and see -- and sooner or later, it's me or thee).

Yeah, you betcha. United in chum(p)ship. Then it's shearing time and a lucky few get picked to be mutton stew!
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1. Yes, this is another word Blogger's spellcheck is plain stunned to find is a part of English as she is writ. Jeepers, what did they feed it with, the smallest dictionary they could find? ("Typing is hard," says keypunch Barbie). Shin armor, blast you for a hunk of impure code running on less-pure silicon and shiny metals.

2. His novel The Driver is available online; some (and by that phrase I mean "Justin Raimondo") see foreshadowing of Atlas Shrugged in it but me, I'm intrigued by a book written in 1921 or '22 with a chapter titled "The Funk Idol" and that includes the phrase "PEACE ON EARTH: GOOD WILL TO MEN BUT DEATH TO INTEREST BEARING BONDS" in the opening paragraphs. (Also? Block caps are a PITA). Garet has a nice ear for the language and I dl'ed a copy.

3. Many years ago, I expressed my wonderment at this freak of Nature to one of the several competent attorneys whose paths I have crossed. He pointed out that even a lawyer of only moderate talent has a pretty good thing going, a steady income at least, and only an unskilled or overly-ambituous one would look to make a career of elective office. Interestin' notion -- not that I would be endorsin' it myself, mind you, not in light of the litigous nature of modern American culture; 'tis just a thing I heard a man say, once upon a while.

Tick, Tick, Tick...Tic, Tic

No time as usual and too much to say -- this week has fair given me a twitch and since my efforts to make it move faster yesterday failed (people, people, we have to all agree it's Friday to make it stick: consensus is reality, just ask the global warming "experts"), I've just got to tough it out.

Spin-doctoring the debate is running full force but even the smarmy weasels that infest the morning tube have had to admit Governor Palin did all right. Faint praise but even that much is something.

Meanwhile, as y'all already know, yet another House vote on the "bailout" is likely to come up today, with both the majority leader and the minority whip sayin' they'll not bring it to vote until they are sure they will win -- making the vote itself no more than a rubberstamp. This is "unity" and "bipartisanship" in action. Count me unamused; at this point, I'm ready for it to fail. I don't want to see a recession or depression -- revenues are already down at the starship company when a month ago, we didn't have room for one more crate or bale in the holds, and that means clients are cancelling -- but the cure looks to be worse than the disease. It's time to cowboy up and take our medicine: one way or another, there's economic adjustment ahead.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Cue Twilight Zone Music

...I just heard Democrat (and former V. P. candidate) Geraldine Ferraro speak approvingly of Sarah Palin! She was careful to point out that as a Democrat, she favored Senator Biden (okay, fair enough) -- but she was nevertheless pleased that Governor Palin "had gone toe-to-toe with a man of Joe Biden's experience and held her own."

Seems some on the Left can see past their own squick and ideology. We have at least one political type who still remembers where the high road runs.

Elsewhere on the political front, I snickered to see Obama commercials about his fascist approach to health care running during the Outdoor Channel's all-gun Wednesday. Yeah, good luck with that, bud. Us ignorant, bitter louts will never tumble to your hopes to disarm us. (Me, not so much for the high road). And on over-the-air legacy-media TV, it's all attack ads, all the time: the political advertising business-as-usual.

And, with sincere apologies to the LGB folks who read my blog, I swear the next time someone uses the old trope about gay men havin' a super-duper sense of style, I will make them go watch Congressbeing Barney Frank, a man with the class and elegance of an unmade bed. I don't care who he sleeps with but is it too much to hope for that someone in his household could learn how to iron clothes? Or at least run stuff through the dry cleaners? Perhaps he's too worried his role in making the financial mess in the first place will become more widely known to deal with such minutia but I'm pretty sure even members of the House have people for the fiddlin' details. Remember, Representative Frank, as this bollixed-up knot unravels, you're the fellow who chides, "There's no right to hypocrisy." Prolly even less so where other people's money is concerned. Also, and this may come as a shock to you, C-Span archives just hours and hours of stuff from the House and Senate.... Rose Mary Woods is gone and she wasn't on your side of the aisle anyhow.

Friday Follies

Update: This just in: today was not Friday! So much for that theory. I blame the Large Hadron Collider for this, if they have it working again.

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Did you know that, "Leaders of our city should be beyond reproach," according to Marion County GOP chairbeing Tom John? He was referring to his suggestion about resigning to the Democrat councilwoman accused of hitting police officers, calling them racists and claiming because she was on the City-County Council, she would not be charged. (Meanwhile, the head honcho of her party remains unavailable for comment -- difficult to put a positive spin on abusive arrogance, I suppose).

"Beyond reproach?" Finely-honed phrase; the meter usually has "above reproach" at the Full end and "beneath contempt" down at the Empty side with the You're In Trouble shading. I'd guess "beyond reproach" is around mid scale: a low-hanging ethical target and yet one our Councilcritters are missing regularly.

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The big Veep debate is tonight and I'm short on popcorn! The sonorously-dull Senator Biden is given the top mark in gravitas while Governor Palin wins kudos for her Reagan-like charm. (Does this seem strangely quarky?) Me, I'll be bearing in mind John Nance Garner's evaluation of the office -- not only the questionable one, "Not worth a pitcher of warm spit," (or a similar word) but the one we can directly attribute: "...four years [of] counting the buttons on another man's coat tails."

Sounds thrillin'. And compared to that image, even Windy Joe might appear dynamic. I think we can expect another Lefty-gal "Ew, ew, ick, ick" treatment of Sarah Palin from the moderator. At best, she'll manage to conceal her disdain. Yeah, keep sneerin' at the Gov of Alaska, all it does is motivate people like me who'd be otherwise inclined to sit this one out.

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I still owe readers some few words about (among other things) what it's like flyin' a Star model BM in a pin match and the joys and wonderment of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, a freshly-brewed cup of which I am presently sipping. Soon, soon. I hope!