Thursday, December 31, 2009

By Popular Demand?

Be good, or I'll upload more.

New Year's Eve Day

...And here I am with nothing suitable to wear! A hasty try through what used to be L. S. Ayres (later May Co. and now Macy's, shorn of all history, tradition and elegant-esque lunch room, though the latter limps on at the State Museum; and just how sad is that?) found nothing that appealed.

I miss the old Glendale Mall, which had a shop that specialized in formal and sub-formal wear; it didn't take all day to claw together the rudiments of attire suitable for a holiday event. Macy's, by whatever name and even more so in recent years, is determing to be A Destination, in part by so scrambling the clothing collections that unless you're a serious, semi-pro shopper, the process is a chore and you'll be wanting to take notes.

I'm tempted to hit Goodwill first, but at 5' 10", it's a rare day when they have much nice in my size.

...But if that's my only complaint, I should maybe not complain too much! I'm for the shower; then I'll don my pith helment, assemble the bearers and off into deepest Merchantia....

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Morning, Blank Slate, No Time

Well, a little time, but only 'cos I am waiting my turn at the shower.

I'm covered up with year-enders at work, so much so I have not even shopped for Something Suitable to wear for New Year's (goin' to the speakeasy steakhouse, yayy!). I only have to dress like a grown-up one or two times a year, which I consider an advantage of my job. It usually is -- not so much when you want to go someplace where jeans, a hoodie over a knit top and workboots are not considered appropriate. (On the other hand, ooooooo, the food at Morton's! The company's pretty nice, too).

I've been working on a holiday "Starship" yarn, this one set during the short period of open warfare between USSF/NATO allies and the Edgers; I have a neat photo-essay for "Retrotechnologist" planned...but there's a list of awkward, difficult and/or boring tasks to get done at the Skunk Works before the holiday break, none of them so routine that I can do them and noodle plot points or pity comments at the same time.

The good news is, I'll have a week off and hope to make some actual progress. But today, not so much.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Economic Sense

In no little haste this morning (I worked 8 hours on/8 off/8 on Sunday and Monday, a trick that takes an increasingly greater toll, especially since I'm still getting over the flu; came home last night, ate a snack and sailed off to dreamland, debarking with utmost reluctance this a.m.), so it's a linky morning -- and something worth linking to: Markets Fail. That's Why We Need Markets. Complete with a thumbnail sketch of rent-seeking, why it is bad and the role of governments in enabling same, plus the skinny on the useful service markets provide in letting notions that don't work fail before they become too large.

It may be just horse sense to you and me...but the readin' public has yet to internalize it. And good luck tryin' to hammer the least glimpse of it into most congressthing's skulls, even with the very finest hammer.

Monday, December 28, 2009

On Mad Bombers

...The day the Nigerian groin-bomber flamed out, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano fatuously proclaimed, "The system worked." Interviewed by network news this morning, she backed away from that statement, saying she was -- and I paraphrase -- referring to the system of inconveniencing air travelers even more in the interest of security theatre, which kicked in almost immediately. Yay, hooray, air travel will suck even more and even fewer people will bother to fly.

Yet in a way, she was right. A "system" no bureaucrat -- certainly no DHS secret policeman -- would notice did work. While official reaction to the intel stage was weak, it should be noted the nitwit's own father (and, presumably, co-religionist) thought his son was lookin' a little jihadist around the gills and wrote to his government and to ours in warning. (Stop and think about that'n for a moment; it's a good sign). The active-intervention stage worked very well -- seeing something out of the ordinary, Dutch tourist Jasper Schuringa said his first thought wasn't to signal a flight attendant or wait for an air marshal to break cover, but rather, "He's trying to blow up the plane."

"I basically reacted directly," Schuringa said Saturday in an interview with CNN. "I didn't think. I just jumped. I just went over there and tried to save the plane."


Best line I've seen so far: "Aggressive intervention [in commercial air travel] has become the new societal norm." Air Marshals? Ms. Napolitano, we're all Air Marshals now.

The official attempts at protection failed; the amateur efforts, thanks to a very large dollop of luck, succeeded.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Umm, What?

Some of my pals on the Lupine are...lexically unique. I actually know what this is trying to say and it is still a snickerworthy kind of Fail. Also? I will not watch that movie. Oh, so very, very not.

PS: Yet another reason why HAL got so weird about the Pod Bay Doors, revealed

Saturday, December 26, 2009

LED Tree


6 meters tall, 600 Watts and point-addressable: every light is an RGB LED.

...Remember when the psychedeli (gimme a pint of Zen and a couple slices of patchouli) generation adopted g'grandma's beaded curtains, then took 'em Day-glo? Well, me neither, but I saw it on TV so it must've happened. Next go-round, the beaded curtains will be the TV -- or what ever far-out, mind-blowing pattern y'want, maaaan.

Status Code: 4:10 To Gone?

I think that wraps up the codes you're most likely to see. ...I still wanna work up something better for "404."

Friday, December 25, 2009

Avatar

Went to see the film. Plot is straightforward; story is, at times, actively obnoxious (technological man=BAD, BAD, BAD; noble savage=GOOD and let's ignore their technology, mmmKAY?). Review + spot-on snark from Tam.

But damme, the visuals are...stunning. Not just well-realized CGI, but beautiful; a delight to the eye. And the yarn's not poorly told, either.

It is, for a wonder, pretty much mainstream SF and uses familiar notions; there's a huge borrowing from Clifford D. Simak's Desertion, (which I am stunned to be reminded was published in 1944; Simak's SF was well ahead of its time) (Tam points out Poul Anderson's Call Me Joe from 1957 as an even closer parallel), with additional elements reminiscent of Anne MacCaffery's Pern stories, Andre Norton's Janus novels and a few odds and ends from other (M..A..T..R..I..X) SF films. There's also a pervasive detail or two that may have been inspired by Zenna Henderson's The People, but I'll leave that for readers to figure out (bonus points if you notice the botanical "koomatka" connection, at least as the latter was depicted in the ABC TV movie).

I have some tech nits to pick ("unobtanium?" Rilly?) and the conflict and its resolution was trite and formulaic (just damn once, I'd like to see the Noble Savage pull a sharp real-estate deal on The White Man, or at least take him to court and win; you can blame my Cherokee ancestors for that; but would even once be too often?) but it's still a nifty film -- and it bodes very, very well for sbsequent SF.

We have reached the point where They Can Film It. Pern? Done. Heinlein? Not a single novel is unfilmable. Eric Frank Russell's delightfully diverse (and yet nearly anarchist) space-crews? Easy as pie.

The old SF writers are mostly gone; they wrote lot of great yarns, the film rights to which would set their inheritors up nicely. Wouldn't a film of H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy be a treat? (...Speaking of the Noble Savages winning a fair shake without The Usual Villains...)

Avatar is big, lush, and pretty. The 3-D effect works well and they don't milk it (unless you're really acrophobic). Still, for me, one of the best things about this film is what it promises for future SF films.

Status Code: This Is Tech Support!

Merry Christmas!

Nothing much to report this morning, just sending whatever holiday wishes may suit, to you and yours!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Empty Holiday

"The higher, the fewer;" as my years stack up, my world gets smaller. One of the biggest building blocks to be lost was my Dad, always larger than life no matter what else might change. We stopped being close before I was in my teens but he was always there, the steady center.

He was a Christmas baby; for a child born two years before the Great Depression let a lot of the steam out, having one's birthday fall on 25 December was about the worst possible date -- and considering Who Else's birthday it was, it wasn't even anything a kid could hold a grudge about!

My Dad, born into a very large and not at all wealthy family, saw the world move from economic depression to global war as he grew to adulthood; he had no idea what prosperity looked like until he attained it himself and he always viewed it with a little suspicion, lest it might evaporate if he didn't keep after it.

Christmases in my childhood home were special times -- as most are! -- and the more so because Dad's birthday would conclude the day; we didn't just have Christmas, we got birthday cake, too. In later years, Dad's day would get bumped forward or back, to fall on the same day as "family Christmas," whatever day near the holiday allowed for the greatest number of us to gather.

The big family holiday's become steadily smaller over the years; there are more of us but more schedule conflict as well, with the youngest generation of adults having vast lists of holiday services and festivities to attend. With my Dad's passing, his birthday has passed, too; one more diminishment of tradition, one more little reminder that the world moves on and takes little notice of us as it does.

Tell somebody y'love 'em this holiday, whichever holiday you're celebrating. We're not here forever.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Status Code, The Movie

....Must...Not...Pun. Too...Weak...

So, a hippie goin' paranoid made you a frothy coffee drink, working the button on the cappuccino machine in a series of Morse-Code dashes? Well, latte-freakin'-dah!
Brugge, 1011 E. Westfield Blvd., 3:00pm until...? (The name links to a nice map on their website, whre you will also find the menu, photos of food and other enticements). RSVP and I'll try to reserve a table(s) Delightful food -- mussels more ways than I can describe, pomme frites with a zillion sauces, steak so rich and tender I'm salivating now, and so yum on and so noms forth, plus excellent beers, etc.

Headlines

Or, "Was It Intentional Or Just Clumsy?" Today's paper greeted me with this, presumably news of the Senate vote:While it is true the Honorable Richard Lugar quite often votes like a Democrat, A) he has not -- at least not yet -- changed parties and B) he's voting with the GOP on healthcare.

Turns out the story was about both House and Senate votes. Oh, to live in less-exciting times!

In Re The Heathcare Bill

(The one we'll all be paying and paying, that is). A "Progressive" columnist in the local paper, observing that the Senate and House versions are both seriously flawed, nevertheless chortles that, "entitlements, once established, are nearly impossible to reverse." Um, yeah, that's how come so many of us are set against it, pal. Naturally, he paints it as the first step in the long road to a single-payer system. It's never just the camel's nose.

Why settle for mere bread and circuses when you can have hypodermics and HDTV, too?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Copenhangover

(This is a work of pair-o-dee. Parody. It is not approved by the organizations whose names you see on the poster. Okay?) One look at the original whining here.

Health Care Bill Hell

...I keep readin' about the Senate monstrosity, all lumps and angles and payoffs and I still can't quite believe any of 'em can look at themselves in the mirror and feel at all good about it. It hasn't got any of the provisions the far-Left wanted, it's hideously unequal in the way it treats the various and assorted states and citizens residing therein -- and let us remember, even the rich, fat-dripping pork it promises the Senators who held out for special-extra is no more than a promise, pork in the sky by and by only if one's own nasty little suckling makes it through the House-Senate negotiation process.

And for this mess, Senate Democrats have mortgaged their souls -- and my future! It's not even what they wanted; it's merely got a few of the same warts, sufficient to throw a cloak over it and claim, lo, concealed below is Everything You Need.

I wouldn't count on it.

I Work On A Starship: Slap-Happy Holidays

I walked into the Engineering Shop to start my shift, only to discover Jonny Zedd was holding forth to Kent Good on the care and feeding of our few remaining multitrack data recorders, using the one Kent had opened up on a service cart as a podium. He went on and on, about how there are no moving parts in the head assembly (wrong), how none of the device-specific mechanical or electronic parts can be had (way wrong; [a major Japanese manufacturer] did grab up the product line long ago but they've continued to support it — and long-time USSF supplier Universal Actives second-sources everything but the front panel.

I listened agog at the depth of misinformation as Johnny wound down and departed on the hour, his shift being over. Kent shook his head, sighed and smiled.

"You're a patient man," I told him; Kent came to us after a couple of decades in Engineering on a smaller ship of the same vintage as the Lupine, which means it would have had the exact same recorders. "Gave you the skinny, did he? Jonny's killed at least a half dozen of those things since I signed aboard."

Kent smiled even more broadly. "I know. I'm into this one after he 'fixed' it. But you stop — Christmas is just next week."

He's right. Merry Christmas to Kent, Handsome Dave, C. Jay, The Chief, all our officers and crew and especially, to Jonny Zed — and f'pity's sake, Jon, don't get too ambitious! Merry Christmas to us all.

Merry Christmas to my readers, too.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Don't Bring A Gun To A Snowball Fight"

Via Balko, q.v.

...But you might also not want to throw snowballs and fightin' words at the fellow with his gun out, especially when the workin' LEOs who show up look to be leanin' towards your side.

Is there no innocently-mean fun left?

Sicker

Darn it. If I don't manage substantial improvement in the next couple of hours....

Update, 1300 hours: Vector is pointing in the opposite direction to my desired course. Innards unhappy. Sinuses worse. Gravity is down to point eight here... Um, belay that last'un, it's from Star Trek (TOS). (FWIW, that ship must have had the cheapest, low-bidder artificial gravity system evar: no matter what misfortune befell, you'd hear a calm Engineering d00d report gravity had dropped to 0.8. C'mon, Scotty, either fix the blame thing or just set it at 0.8 and leave it -- most of the crew would never notice). Aside aside, I'm still a sick kitty. I'm stayin' home.

Sunday!

I really should have something trenchant and topical -- we have a nice debate going on reactions to newspapers publicizing permit-holder data at Tam's and Joanna's, for instance, with thought-provoking points all 'round (and my noisy whining) -- but my pseudo-Captain Tripps is really givin' me fits this morning, between painful sneezing, sinuses filling and refilling with watery ick, temperature up and down (though not as much as last night or two nights ago) and so on.

Still hoping to make the BlogMeet, though I may have to wear a mask!

(BTW, it appears that libertarian writer, rabble-rouser and raconteur Radley Balko will be in town next weekend and might be holdin' a meet-up of his own. Hey, Claire Wolfe had 'im in her blogroll).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Arcanity

Y'know, the only thing more arcane than re-encountering the term "zeugma" (with examples!) -- I have a particular weakness for and delight in syllepsis -- is re-encountering it by way of polysemy. Ah, just when I am feeling old, jaded and still fairly ill with pseudo-Captain Tripps (also known as T1C1 in honor of The Chief, he who brung it among us, his minions hapless, helpless and now all ill) , the beauty, wonder and weirdness of that thing we do with our own software smacks me in the grey matter once more!

...Updates at both Retrotechnologist and I Work On A Starship await. Patience, patients.

OMG, They Stomped Uruguay

Who? Why, giant space robots, of course.

And people wonder why I don't mind the Fermi paradox. Is the Universe calling? Don't answer the phone!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The War On Morons

Soooo... Talking to the Web Editrix of a local old-media operation at lunch today and she remarked they'd been getting a lot of e-mail about the Hanukkah-themed banner the site ran for today -- what with sunset marking the start of the final day of the holiday, it seemed quite apt but lo and behold, no few folks wrote to point out the demographic makeup of the community (at least as they imagine it; one assumes they've never so much as noticed Shapiro's deli, let alone the many synagogues on the far North side) and inquire after a Christmas-themed banner. She found it mostly amusing; the big, loud secular holiday (you know, the one with a jolly fat man named after a bishop and big evergreen trees and decorations and reindeer) has been a recurring theme and a suitably creche-themed religious-type banner's in the wings for the days leading up to the 25th; so unclench, your turn is next.

...And you people claim agnostic types are nutty?

The Christmas Song Wrong

Sounds of...a season.

December BlogMeet


Artwork Graphic Design by Shermlock

In Other Gun News

Edits in green to respond to criticism.

Guess what other newspaper quietly has a searchable carry-permit holder* database? Oh, the Indy (Red) Star's only looks as deep zip codes plus some demographic data; I rather imagine next, they plan to do the same thing only so tell me, where do you draw the line? A list with "African Americans" as the marked group instead of "permit holders?" That would not be okay-fine, riiiight? Or perhaps they could do one for Likewise, bad and wrong if they list Jews. Or Unitarians; but The Public Has A Right To Know, after all. So, how about a list of habitual parking-ticket offenders? Bad? Check-kiters? People who carry signs? People who talk in the movies? Pet-owners? How much invasion of privacy is too much -- and should there be a distinction drawn between Constitutionally-protetcted activities, "normal stuff" and criminal behavior? Or is privacy dead and we might as well give up? And why isn't this kind of prying sufficient cause for burning editors in effigy, or at least boycotting advertisers?

But for now, it's just two databases: 1. sex offenders 2. those of us legally exercising a right protected by both State and Federal constitutions, after having passed a background check. H'mm, one of those things is not like the other....

(Another Thing Dep't: The Star's database is actually older than the one the paper in Bloomington [which would love to be named and linked; dream on, kids] has and which drills down to street name. It looks to be a case of "I dare you!" in which each iteration by a different old-media zombie offers more detail. It's time they got their hands slapped. Let's stop 'em before they go too far).
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* In Indiana, it's a License To Carry Handgun, period. There is no requirement to conceal, though most instructors suggest you'll have less excitement that way. There's very little provision in State law for transporting a handgun without one.

Indy's New Gun-Grabber Public Safety Director

Hold on to your hats.

When I saw the news yesterday that my home town had a new Public Safety Director, late of White Plains, NY, I was mildly interested; there's a big cultural gap between IN and NY. When I read he'd helped train NYC police after 9/11, I thought maybe he was gonna be okay.

I was wrong: "My own personal perspective is we have way too many guns on the street and way too many people that own guns," Straub said, adding there is no clear national policy dealing with guns."The policy has to start at the federal level and then work its way down to the states and to the local level. Until we control the flow of guns between states . . . you have a problem."

It's for sure we have a problem; it's just that he is the problem. (Also, does he have even a glimmer of how Federal firearms laws regulate "the flow of guns between states" already?)

"The guns taken off the street posed a serious threat to our communities," White Plains Public Safety Commissioner Frank Straub said at a news conference announcing the roundup. Straub was in Washington last month to petition Congress to extend a federal assault weapons ban, which was allowed to expire, and repeated his call for a ban...." (THE JOURNAL NEWS, White Plains, NY: October 8, 2004)

Indiana has preemption and our state-level laws are pretty good but Dr. Straub doesn't look to be likely to fit in.

Hey, Dr. Straub? I own what you'd call "assault weapons." Several of them, depending on definition.* You can't have them.

Update: Tam agrees. Only more so.
Caleb points out the man appears to be...confused.
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* My father's old Remington 941 bolt-action .22, with its 15-round tubular magazine, counts as a sure-'nuff assault weapon in New Jersey. My AR-15 and SKS are even more PSH-inducing in hoplophobes, to whom I say, Molon lave! Also, Oooga-booga! Twits.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Artists Are Not Like You and Me

...They have less reality. Or at least a different one:
Unlike people in a movie theatre, where images are projected onto a screen, television viewers become prey to the television’s own light impulses, they go into an altered state - a transfixed condition where the eyes, the mind, the breathing of the subject is clearly under the control of an outside force. In a poetic sense and without exaggerating one might say that the television technology is eating the subjects who sit before its gaze.
[Italics mine] Ummm, class? Class? Who can point out the total goofiness here? (Also, does this means you'd better avoid theatres employing rear projection? Hint: Oh, hells no). Son, the tale of the Gorgon is just a myth; reflecting light doesn't take the ickiness out.*

Conversely, sometimes that different vision results in wonder, as the Unwanted Blog points out.

Art: The s/n is lousy but the payoff, well... I wouldn't want to do without it.
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* The film is beautiful, haunting and only eight minutes long -- but it's about being a passive consumer rather than a participant, not Teh Ebbil Electron Beam. The subjects could as easily have been watching films or even a very dull puppet show.

Sounds Like... (What've I Got?)

Felt kinda crummy yesterday; went into work with a dry cough, a ticklish throat and a metallic taste in my mouth. It slowly got worse all day, accompanied by exhaustion, muscle aches and chills

Came home and headed for my bed almost immediately. I was dizzy, the chills were worse and I was tired.

Had the worst and oddest sleep I've ever had: shivering under an electric blanket set to max, waking up every few hours to totter down to the loo, and talking in my sleep; I'd wake up saying "Boom!" or "Have you checked the hoist?" and other near-random words and phrases, over and over.

My ex told me years ago that I mutter in my sleep (in addition to tooth-grinding -- it's a wonder he got much sleep, to hear him describe it) but this was clear speech. Unnerving.

This morning, same cough, metallic taste at the back of my throat, tiredness (after eleven hours horizontal!) and loud ringing in my ears. I'm darned if I know what this ailment is but you do not want it!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WANT


SchultzeWORKS: "Philco Computer." Alas, just a concept now but so very fine; the "Predicta"-type computer/monitor is waykewl but the keyboard is exceptionally wantable on its own! Get thee hence and drool.

(You know, that is just how Edger keyboards look.... Coincidence, or does the designer know more than he lets on?)

Huge hat-tip to the reader who pointed out this splendid design!

Apt

It's starting to look like the Senate might not be giving the President nationalsocialized health care by Christmas, despite his hour-long chiding session Tuesday. In that meeting, President Obama is quoted as telling the Senators they were "on the precipice" of history.

H'mm, I thought if you found yourself in that sort of situation, the point was to not jump off?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Scream Saver?

Actually, it was slapped together for a 16x10 desktop:It made perfect sense to me.

It's Bill Of Rights Day!

Talk about mixed feelings: "...Established in 1941 by Franklin D. Roosevelt...." Well, it was the sesquicentennial.

Though many of the provisions of Bill of Rights (and even more so, what the courts infer from them) have been and are contentious [1], I've long been bugged by the lack of provisions for enforcement; it'd be nice if The Gummit was risking something other than a lawsuit [2] when they went stompin' on activities protected under those Amendments.

Then there's the other problem: exactly as some critics predicted back in the 18th Century, the perception has emerged that the Bill of Rights grants rights, rather than protecting them and that the specially listed rights are all a citizen gets. I am well-nigh certain that the flip side was that had those Amendments not existed, the rights they protect would have long ago been eroded to nothing; but I'm pessimistic that way and believe in getting things in writing.

Whatever. Y'still otta celebrate. Me, I think I'll read the 'net and the paper, carry a gun [3] and maybe even make some noise about the way Uncle Same keeps pushin' away at the Fourth Amendment.

Update: Meanwhile, the Obama Administration is celebrating Bill of Rights Day by pushin' to expand the de facto FedGov immunity from prosecution if the CIA thinks allowing the case to proceed would endanger state secrets. ...Yeah, it sounds almost okay, why give the bad guys a way to learn what our side knows, but geez-o-peet, we'd better find a way proctect sensitive intel, methods and sources that doesn't hand the Feds a free pass. The courts are trying to figure it out; I hate having to bet on the wisdom of judges but we're down to that. (And yes, I fully expect to be lectured about my ignorance by the "but they're our jackboots" crowd; 'cos they'd never Horiuchi your wife and child, right?). The only good side is the way it makes President Obama's former boosters cry.
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1. Be Careful What You Wish For: It's an easy shot to sneer at some of the thinner threads of legal logic but considered as a series of limitations on the government -- originally limiting just the Feds but expanded under the 14th Amendment -- the more broadly the courts construe the rights protected by the Bill of Rights, the better off we are.

2. It's tough to win a court case against an entity that buys attorneys by the barrel; contrarily, if there were some nice language about how violatin' the BoR in an official capacity was a capital offense, Our Public Servants might be moved to think before acting.

3. Some -- the Skunk Works does have some silly rules that way. Sigh.

Monday, December 14, 2009

December BlogMeet?

Who's got a free weekend? I'm giving 3 Jan 2010 serious consideration.

Update: Shermlock's got an excellent notion: A Pre-BlogMeet BlogMeet 20 December at Rock Bottom on 86th St (1500 hours?) and a 3 January BlogMeet. How's Brugge sound for the 3 Jan?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Observation

I should read Phlegmmie's blog more frequently. So should you. I nearly missed the theme from Star Trek on ukulele. It's a sure cure for Winter blues!

Jerks, Idiots, Congress; But I Repeat Myself

So, I'm lookin' for The Very Latest on the verdammpt nationalsocialization of healthcare that the Senate is workin'* on the Sabbath† about and in the process, I stumble across a Leftie blog with an animated barcode thingie, pointing out that if the first three digits are 729," that means the product was made in Israel and urging readers to "boycott Israeli goods." ('Cos, I guess, he figures they don't have enough troubles already?)

Yeah? It works both ways, chum; from now on, I can look for and buy items made in Israel and with the list of country codes, pick others to boycott.

I am, however, a bit miffed to discover Teh Intarwebz goes a bit slow-ish on the weekends, newswise; the TV -- the tellyvision! oh, the shame -- seems to have scooped online sources for the Very Latest hair-curdling news from the Meddlers On The Potomac and it sure looks like the [word omitted] are up to no good.
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* To the extent that thing they do can be called "work."

† Everybody's Sabbath, or very nearly, since they are "working" both weekend days. I always figured the reason Congress got weekends off was to limit the damage they could accomplish in any one week and now it is confirmed.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I Work On A Starship Update

...I went back through and fixed the chapter-to-chapter links for Another Day, which turns out to be a 25,372-word novella and makes about a 100-page paperback; and yes, I'm looking at Lulu.com right now, just for fun. Re-edited some and introduced actual chapters, ten of them.

My intent was to write it as something of a pulp-magazine novel and I think I succeeded.


Still trying to get Foxit's PDF Creator to crank out a .PDF image not pasted into an 11" x 8.5" mat from my properly-sized .doc file. Grrrr.

PS: Editing for continuity is like work. Almost.

Herald-Times Meets NRA

NRA-ILA has a nice article on the Bloomington pornographer's newspaper's searchable sex offender carry-permit holder database. The NRA write-up comes complete with a handy list of BH-T's major advertisers, including contact data.

Might be a good idea to e-mail or write 'em, ask 'em why they spend money at a rag that treats citizens engaging in Constitutionally-protected activities like criminals.

Might be an even better idea to contact your state legislator and ask him or her to take steps to prevent this sort of fishing expedition in future.

(Thanx to Unk, who posted this way earlier)

Hellooo...?

So, it's 0900(ish) and I haven't posted anything....

I will, you know, but first, I've been promising myself French toast and bacon all week and by golly, I'm gonna go cook.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday!

...I really should post something but the icy cold has sapped my brain (anyway, that's my excuse and now you can't use it).

Latest chapter of I Work On A Starship is posted and I think that catches the timeline right up to where Our Heroine, recovered from her Big Adventure (not to mention a couple of minor glitches) is waiting on the bus down to Port of Frothup. Whatever could be next? Stay tuned and find out!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I Work On A Starship: Things That Go Bump

Lupine, a ten-mile-long city in flight Blish never dreamed of, was coasting in zero-g. This is no fun but we'd bounced in a little off-kilter and Navs had so decreed. If you're not susceptible to falling dreams, it's not so bad for sleeping; tuck in the covers and drift off like Little Nemo! I woke up about three-quarters when the alarm sounded and my cabin lights blinked on and then off again. From the phone panel set in the wall next to my bunk: "Final warning! Acceleration in thirty seconds! Take hold!"

It sounded like Navs finally had us lined up for our first inbound course correction.. About time; I was already tired of squeeze-bulb instant coffee. I hoped it was going to be a long burn.

Long it was, but not uneventful....

[Story continues at I Work On A Starship]

When Squirt-Boosters Go Wrong?

It could be a bit of a Stardrive SNAFU. The Russians are claimin' it's a missile, at least to the extent they're admitting responsibility. Absolutely; nothin' to see here, citizens. Go about your affairs

(A)GW Dissemblers: It Would Be Amusing

If there wasn't so much ridin' on it, it would be snickersome, the way the Traditional Media muddies the waters any time climate change comes up.

A good example this morning on NBC -- it started out as a fairly straightforward report on the sniping between Albert Gore and Sarah Palin over human-caused warming; she's skeptical while he, as he has droned on and on and on about, in endless and mind-numbing detail, is convinced right down to his marrow that We Is Killing The Earff (and yet he's never downsized his mansion or swapped his SUV for a bicycle) . Okayfine, good ol' he said/she said, with interview clips and file footage, quotes from Twitter and Facebook screencaps. Then it began to morph; we're told The Sarah "never expressed skepticism about climate change during the campaign," (not, mind you, AGW) and the story proceeds in that vein; suddenly, the "caused by humans" caveat had dropped out of the narrative, replaced by "ain't the skeptics ignernt."

I'm not sure if the reporter or producer even realized it; it seems likely that for them, GW = AGW, no questions asked. Funny, there's pretty good correlation between what the Sun is doing and how hot is gets on this ball of mud -- but what do I know?

Giant fusion reactor in the sky, a few nekkid primates, I know which side I'd bet on in a cage match. But I wouldn't be looking to the old media for coverage of the event.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Book: Monster Hunter International

I finished MHI awhile back -- a very enjoyable book! Larry Correia writes like John D. MacDonald channeling H. P. Lovecraft and the combination improves both. Highly recommended -- if you don't have Monster Hunter International already, hie on over to Tam's Amazon link and buy a copy.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Winter? I Miss Global Warming Already!

They had to go and screw it up. The planet was gettin' warmer and I was good with that; I figured by the time I was ready to retire to someplace warm, I'd be living someplace warm already.

But nooooooo. Turns out they cooked the books and now we've got this:
.DISCUSSION...
IR SATELLITE IS SHOWING THE STRONG LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM THAT
WILL BRING BLIZZARD CONDITIONS TO PORTIONS OF THE PLAINS AND
MIDWEST IS CURRENTLY CENTERED OVER THE DESERT SOUTHWEST.
AHEAD OF IT...SNOW IS FALLING OVER MOST OF THE CENTRAL PLAINS.
That's from NWS's "Discussion" page. The forecast? Cold, wet and windy today. Tomorrow, the fun starts:
.WEDNESDAY...WINDY...CLOUDY. CHANCE OF RAIN UNTIL MIDDAY...THEN
CHANCE OF SNOW IN THE AFTERNOON. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 40S.
SOUTHWEST WINDS 20 TO 30 MPH SHIFTING TO THE WEST 30 TO 35 MPH IN
THE AFTERNOON. GUSTS UP TO 50 MPH. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION
50 PERCENT.
.WEDNESDAY NIGHT...WINDY. MUCH COLDER. MOSTLY CLOUDY THEN
BECOMING PARTLY CLOUDY. LOWS AROUND 15. WEST WINDS 20 TO 30 MPH.
GUSTS UP TO 45 MPH DECREASING TO 35 MPH AFTER MIDNIGHT.
From the 40s to the teens in under 12 hours. Rain changing to snow, which (IMO) makes ice a good possibility. Some of the other models are calling for winds well over 50 mph but NWS's meteorologists are cautious gamblers. Most of the Midwest is gettin' this, so it's not like it's just me -- but is it really coincidence this happens right after the wheels fall off some of the strongest supposed evidence for anthropogenic global warming?

I think not! (She says with crazed self-assurance).

...You fetch the pitchforks; I'll warm up some tar and make torches, too. This can only be those AGW guys tryin' to retaliate from their hilltop castle labs and we don't have to stand for it! ;) *
________________________
* For the humor-impaired: go watch Frankenstein. Or not. Yes, yes, of course, I truly am a mindless peasant, whippin' up a mob. Suuuuuure. Wanna cookie?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Sunday Dinner

We had corned beef and cabbage! And microwave-baked potatoes.

The corned beef was corned beef; if you start with the good stuff and can manage to simmer rather than boil, it's mahvelous! The taters were taters. Mmmmm, spuds.

But the cabbage...! I didn't want to boil it. Boiled cabbage suits me fine but the aroma tends to linger. Fried, on the other hand, that's kinda good.

Stared with bacon; I had one big strip, so that's what I used. Fry it up, set aside, examine pan. Bit shy on grease, so I added a dollop of olive oil, got the pan good and hot, added a pinch of red pepper flakes and dropped in about half a head of cabbage, cut into medium-sized hunks, over which I had sprinkled a couple big pinches (call it half a teaspoon) of sugar; I used turbinado sugar but whatever. Stir-fried it until it was gettin' bright-colored, then added a leek (cut in quartered discs), five of those pre-peeled snack carrots (julienned) and half a red bell pepper, chopped up; tossed a healthy sprinkle of sesame oil (ymmv) and a dash of black pepper and another pinch of sugar on it, fried a bit, decided it wanted a splash or two of cider vinegar, and stir-fried 'til the leek was translucent and the cabbage was just browning a little in spots. Took it off the fire, crumbled the bacon back in and mixed well.

This made a wok-ful of the stuff. Is it good? I went back for seconds. Tam finished hers and asked for seconds with a slice of corned beef still on her plate! Yeah. It's pretty good. Not bad for starting with a head of cabbage and whatever else was in the fridge.

Winter Comes To Roseholme Cottage

It snowed. Tam got the first snow photo posted; then again, she still treats the stuff as a delightful novelty. One of us doesn't commute. Guess who!

(Those aren't chimeneii, they're open-air atomic reactors. As far as you know. Actually, they are planters-to-be, or so I am told).

A Housewife Could Practically Use It

"The MAC-10 was designed so that a housewife could practically use it!" Um, yeah, well, if the rate of fire were lower and the blame thing was a bit easier to hold, she could actually use it, and so could soldiers, too.

Found on a nifty site selling nifty Lego™ guns, the "housewife" line is in all likelihood one of those lost-in-translation glitches.

A real bad glitch that could have been worse: gettin' SWATted for havin' a Lego™ gun. Ooopsie?

(Uncle already linked to the Lego™ SWAT™ incident but, enh, too good to pass up).

Sunday, December 06, 2009

More Moronic!

It must be Henry H. Goddard's birthday or something:

How about a FedGov workshop on openness...that's closed to the public!

It really is true: to work in Washington is to bugger logic and the higher up you are, the buggier it gets. The current Administration, then, is something like those giant dragonflies from the Time Of The Dinosaurs, dipped in rosin and administered* sideways.
____________________
* Hunh! So that's why we use that word to refer to a particular set of Executive Branch chessmen!

Morons: How Not To Sew Leather, Despite Expert Advice

Look, leatherwork is just plain slow. If you're good at it, especially if you have your patterns already and a proper machine for sewing, it's only a bit slow. If you don't do it very often, your workshop is a shambles and you're hand-sewing, it's unbelievably slow.

I'm slower than that but I can do it. I like to do it, when I can find the whacking great chunks of time even a slipshod job requires. And I have, by gosh, studied up.

Here's a tip from the pros:* You don't sew across the width of a load-bearing strap. It's like the perforations in a postage stamp: rrrrip! Plus, the load's on the thread; the more loops of thread between the two parts, the stronger the connection will be. The fix is to do a long, converging pattern, pointing away from the stress point. Yep, those shield-shaped terminations on the straps for your saddlebag buckles are not that shape just for decoration and if they are also sewn straight across, you didn't get what you paid for. Properly done, there are more stitches to carry the load and the grain of the leather isn't as stressed.

I have owned all manner of purses, from fashion items to serious carry-purses made by well-respected holster companies. Most have been leather and every last one of them had the straps sewn right across. Many have failed at just that point, too. You can go shop fancy-name bags and 99.99% of them will have the straps sewn right across. Hey, here's a wild idea: charge me a buck more and do it right for flippin' once!

In my closet, I have all or nearly of the parts for Al Stohlman's "Super Gadget Bag," a pocket-laden purse of the sort that appeals to me, all cut out and ready to sew. It's about time I did some more with that.
__________________
*Al Stohlman, a born teacher and skilled leatherworker. Between the linked book (The Art of Sewing Leather, you should go to Tam's Amazon link and buy a copy already) and both volumes of The Art of Making Leather Cases, if you don't end up learning a little, you're either unteachable or you're Al Stohlman. He and his wife and occasional co-author Ann ought to have statues to them someplace, or at least carved-leather portraits. It turns out the Universe may be just a tiny bit more just or fair than you have suspected: you'll find the Stohlman Leather Museum and Gallery in Fort Worth, Texas!

Finally, A Solution!

(Found via Mike Flynn) The Dutch are worried: it seems euthanasia's not being offered to the mentally ill nearly often enough or easily enough and that's just wrong.

Gee, remember when The Netherlands was overrun by cruel, horrible fascists who, among other hideous injustices, euthanized the mentally ill and the handicapped, 'cos some lives were not worth living?

"Lebensunwertes Leben," horror to public policy in three generations -- Action T4 for the 21st Century!

One generation learns the hard way, the next forgets and the third reboots with minor changes, over and over.

10 KILL "UNWORTHY"
20 STOP KILLERS
30 VOW NEVER AGAIN 'this will fix it!
40 GOTO 10

D00d, I think there might be a bug in your code. And for once, it's not just that frikkin' GOTO statements are never good idea.

(Reminds me of the first time I used a BASIC Stamp on a project: no line numbers! Had to call up subroutines by name, utter heresy).

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Saturday

...And I've been in to work once and will be returning later. Little electrical power issue.

Tam mentioned my typewriter collection in passing and the reason I started it. I already owned typewriters -- a nice Royal seen here eons ago, a Corona 3 portable and a newer Olympia -- but when I realized "keysnippers" were real and they were trashin' entire machines for some play-pretties, I decided I'd better look for and buy any typewriter I really wanted; there are a lot more more craft-types out there than typewriter fans.

And likewise my collection of tools, telephones and radio items, even books: it's the stuff I really wanted. 'Cos you can't really count on somebody else preserving it for you. If you want to keep an item around, if you want to preserve a skill or an art or a technology, then you better do it. Nobody's gonna do it for you, even if you manage to get a law passed mandating it.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Happy, Happy Morning

Woke up with a killer one-sided headache/earache. I have these all the time; I have had since 1996 and the cause is...dunno. Possibly triggered by some dental/sinus issues long since resolved but after spending years and tens of thousands of dollars on highly qualified specialists, high-zoot imaging, multiple surgeries and the Very Best drugs, I'm over hunting it; it just is. It's a part of my universe as dependable as sunrise.

But dang, some mornings are unbearably bright. I've taken three ibuprofen (an hour ago) and the sound of typing is still like being jabbed with a knitting needle. Several fine bouts of vertigo, too, which I try to experience as bonus freefall time without the bother and expense of chartering a big airplane.

And to add to the joy? Why, I've got to go get my teeth cleaned this very morning.

Won't. that. be. fun.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

I Am Deeply Suspicious

...Of this bunch of fear-mongers. They've been running ads on the local TV stations, ads that look like trailers for Soylent Green, warning of horror an' violence if we don't all turn off the fridge, the furnace, the TV (?!!!), give up clean water an' go live in mud huts, eating only what we can grow usin' our own excrement as fertilizer. Otherwise, they warn, after Glow-ball Warmening, we'll all be livin' in a Third-World hellhole!

H'mmm. Not seein' the difference, except maybe in one of the latter I could lay hands on an AK-47 more easily, which might help when the colander-wearing hordes try'n take the last of the bacon.

Tracking back, they're an arm of ASP, an acronym that sounds like baddies right straight out of a James Bond movie -- no, make that Matt Helm.

And at ASP HQ, who do we find on the Board? Why, look, it's Gary Hart (former Democrat Senator from Extramarital Dating), John Kerry (D-Mass, "The Deerstalker"), Richard L. "Security Leak" Armitage (nominally Republican), Nelson Cunningham (of the Clinton Administration Cunningham), Brigadier General Stephen Cheney of the Marine Military Academy (a Marine?! Another Clinton-era Washington guy), Lieutenant General Daniel Christman (former director of the Kimsey Foundation) and so on and mostly-Left so forth.

If I don't sound impressed, it's because I'm not. I haven't found the Joyce Foundation connection yet but I wouldn't be surprised if there is one. ASP is another partisan effort, using fear to sell ever-growing government encroachment upon people's lives and freedom. By linking the spectres of terrorism and "global warming" (Heloooo, Medieval Warm Period anyone? Bueller?), it looks to me that they hope to create fear all across the political spectrum and use it to manipulate public opinion. They are the New Carpetbaggers, demagogues of the most despiciable stripe. I hope you're not falling for their miserable fnords.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It. Does. Not. Work. That. Way.

GPS: I keep stumbling over this in books, films and on The TV and not only is it jarring, it's gonna get some tenderfoot killed dead if they don't knock it off.

A GPS device knows where it is (if it can receive signals from enough of the satellites). It cannot tell others where you are. Can not.

There is no transmitter in your handheld or dash-mounted GPS. It's not talking to the Global Positioning System Satellites; all it does is listen to them and then do some math. (As far as I know, the only people talking to GPS birds would be DoD and last I knew, that was in the form of admin-type stuff not in-the-field position info).

That said, there are ways to hang additional hardware on the GPS device and use that to send the GPS position to others; hams have been doing it for years. But it takes a transmitter and most of 'em are power-hungry. It is limited to the range the combination of frequency, power, antenna system and propagation conditions permit.

Your cellular telephone can be tracked back to the particular cell it is in and if your phone includes a GPS receiver, it can send that info, too. This is smaller and more power-efficient than the APRS alluded to in the previous paragraph but if you're in an area where there is no cellular coverage, oopsie! She no work.

(Update: Joe Huffman on phone tracking, privacy and how caution and even paranoia can't stop stupidity).

And again, the first thing is the GPS receiver has to have a lock on enough of the GPS satellites to be able to figure out where it is; in tunnels or between tall buildings, it may not work so well. Or at all.

So, writers, will you please, pleeeeeeeze stop breezily tossing "GPS tracking" into your work in the form of Character holding up GPS Receiver and remarking, "They can track us with this," 'cos they can't. Now, that iPhone you've been taking for granted, on the other hand....

(Side note: the slick way to write this for most adventure-type apps is to use a transponder, something that is polled and spits out the current or last-known-good GPS position, suitably flagged. This is economical of batteries, plausible, and darned hard for anyone who doesn't know how to poll it to locate using normal bug-hunting tools. For extra credit, use some form of decent data encryption and/or spread-spectrum; it can easily be about celphone-sized).

(P.S. GPS receivers can be spoofed. It's a neat trick. Uncle Sam knows how and he's not talkin').

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

News Salad

- Tiger Woods: The Accident: Day Whatever. Holy howling hell, give it up. If this had been a middle-class couple in Sandusky, OH, it would have not even made the papers.

- Anthropogenic Global Warming Fraud Revealed: Keep at 'em! The other side is not giving up and their agenda is clear. At this point, AGW is repeating the "cold fusion" mania, from the rush to replicate shaky results through the point at which the wheels start to fall off while True Believers yet cheer. Never forget, bad science is bad enough but bad policy based on bad science is far, far worse. "Wrong" isn't so terrible a thing in the Mechanik Arts when all that comes of it is you learn a lot of ways not to make a light bulb; "wrong" stinks on ice when you use it to make everybody use crummy light bulbs.

- They Snuck Into The White House: Big effing deal. They also went through a metal detector; once in they refrained from pulling glass knives and turnin' the joint into an abattoir. And they found a nasty hole in the security setup. Personally, I think The Gummint should give them both medals and then have 'em shot at dawn, but I'm sentimental like that.

- Obama Ramps Up The War In Afganistan: Yeah, like that's a surprise to anyone not on the far Left of his own party? The older I get, the more I'm liking Green Glass Diplomacy: bomb 'em flat or stay home, pick one. They tell me it's not practical. (And so what if the last guy to conquer the place was Alexander the Great, while later and with better weapons the British Empire and the USSR foundered in the attempt -- did they have the Audacity Of Hope? I think not! "Most hopeful quagmire evar!" Feh).

Monday, November 30, 2009

Prejudiced People With Newspapers

The Bloomington Herald-Times is not only publishing a negative story about Hoosiers with gun permits, they've decided to provide a target list for burglars searchable database. Caleb has details.

Supposedly, the list will not include names, full addresses or telephone numbers. At least for now; it'll only hit on city/county/street name. What's next? A list of gay or Jewish neighborhoods? Perhaps they could list the locations of communists, smokers, Catholics and atheists! Or, wait, I know, I know, what could be more scary than veterans and Libertarians? Better warn the citizenry (who apparently consist only of those who think thoughts of which the newspaper approves) where such dire and dreadful types hang out.

Feckwits. These are the folks who arrange the logs, then pretend innocent surprise when others light the fire.

You've got to pay these weasels to read the articles and I wouldn't flip 'em a red-hot dime on a muggy summer afternoon, myself; here's a link to the perfervid headlines -- note how these breathless ijits put us on the "Crimes, Fires and Emergencies" page. Classy!

Sure would be a darned pity if we lobbied the state legislature make the carry-permit database off-limits.

HEY BLOOMINGTON HERALD-TIMES: I GOTTA GUN. YOU CAN'T HAVE IT. I hafta go wash now.

Top O'The Mornin'

...It must be the top; I crawled too far to get here for it to reasonably be anythng else.

Yeech. Something's laid holt of me, possibly just too much Irish butter on too many sesame lavosh crackers.

Whatever it was, I made an early exit from Family Thanksgiving* with a queasy tummy; felt a little better when I reached Broad Ripple, so I dropped in at the BlogMeet and no sooner had I sat down there than my innards went adrift again.

So I made the trek to Roseholme Cottage, said Hi to Tam, did what needed doing, picked up a book and feel asleep on the couch. 1700ish by then. I was awakened about 2000 by Tam, who suggested I might wanna head off to my own room; stumbled in there and promptly zonked out again, totally out 'til the alarms screamed me most reluctantly awake at 0600 this fine morning and I clawed my way though blear and blankets into what passes for day, though not yet light.

I'm gonna go take a vitamin. It might help!
________________
* Of all the things I regret, having been estranged from my family for the better part of a decade is up at the top. Long dull story that includes trite tidbits like dropping out of college, pursuing unsuitable career in unstable biz (radio), etc.; details don't matter. Once you've been away long enough, no matter how much you love 'em, the skein of shared understanding, custom and habit is broken and it's not ever comin' back; you're always half a step behind, lacking context, never quite connected. Try'n avoid that if it ever comes up in your life. It's no damn fun.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Content?

Oh, yeah, that -- um, I'm in a bit of a rush, as happens; I have Family Thanksgiving today, followed by a BlogMeet (at which I will show up late). Of course I have done Nothing Contributory To Getting There so far, having been distracted by housecleaning. (Really!) And by Monster Hunter International -- gee, that's a good book! (It's an uncommon subgenre. Marion Zimmer Brady did a few that were similar, maybe a bit more hippieish and a larger admixture of the Cthulhu Mythos; think Hellboy without Hellboy. And then there's F. Paul Wilson on one side and some of K. W. Jeter's work on the other, shading off into Tim Powers' later novels, but that's still not a whole lot and none of the others have put that Travis McGee spin on it).

A little freaked out right now: I went to look up an interesting book, Agnew H. Bahnson, Jr.'s The Stars Are Too High, only to discover Mr. Bahnson worked on -- held patents in! -- electrodynamic propulsion and died under unusual circumstances a few years after the book was written. However, said book describes an attempt by quite human engineers to use a working "flying saucer" they've built to the trick the world's governments into getting along. The effort, as I recall, fails; and as none of it ever happened (AFAIK), it'll have to be chalked up to wishful thinking, probably along with any "electrogravatic" effects of his experiments.

...Probably. Or maybe there's more to this Hidden Frontier stuff than I'll admit to.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

BlogMeet!

(Artwork by Shermlock Shomes!)

Dining Library?

Here's where we had Thanksgiving dinner -- the ancient table and behind it: Library, AAA - FAR. I have got a lot more shelves to build; there's one custom and three reused old bookshelves of similar size on the other walls and I'm up to about the letter "R."

Not That I'm Like, Slow

...But I just saw Watchmen for the first time last night. Astonishingly well-done; would that any other kind of SF were as well-treated. Sure, this is a comic book graphic novel, so it's a little easier for Hollywood illiterates to puzzle out; I was still impressed. The characters are considerably more three-dimensional than most in the genre and (like Tam) I was singularly impressed by Rorschach, created in homage to the characters of Objectivist comic book artist Steve Ditko.

Next on the slow list? I just started Monster Hunter International. Not very far in but already, well, I sure hope Correia keeps on writing -- and it appears he is.

Friday, November 27, 2009

November BlogMeet!

There will be a BlogMeet on the 29th (that's this Sunday), 3:00 p.m. at Broad Ripple Brew Pub.

There will be a very fine prize for the winner of the coveted Cup of Turonistan.

A good time will be had by all!

Seeya there!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Another Day, Part 18

For all my glib jokes about it bein' a long walk home, for all the times I have been in bad situations a long way from help, not until now had I really been convinced of my own mortality.

Irene was going to kill me and I wasn't even sure why.
Maybe silence wasn't the best policy. "Irene--" I squeaked, started over, geesh,
think, "Irene, how can I make things better?" It sounded fake even to me.

"Oh, do shut up."
It hadn't gone over well with her, either. "You grubby people, with your grubby ships and your miserable, uncivilized planets. There is
dirt everywhere! You have no idea; Wiitherspoon Processing was clean. It was orderly. Things made sense. This is all chaos and barbarism." She emphasized the important parts by yanking on the lanyard attached to my wrists."It's a good thing I kept up my militia training. Those contractors--" She meant Mil/Space. The Federation of Concerned Spacemen is as close to a real government as the Edgers get but it's not that close. "--They are good enough for routine but I have always known it was just a matter of time before you people attacked us again."

Right over the edge.
I
am dead, just as dead as Katrina. "They should have just let your 'Federation of Concerned Spacemen' kite off with an entire Moonbase?" She snorted and gave the lanyard another painful jerk. Geez, I'm so good at this. Gotta calm her down. It was hard to think what to say. "Irene, they pretty much did. All that was over a long time ago. We're all friends now."

"Friends?
Friends? You're helping take our Founders back to the dirt and carrying Nazis right beside them, too!"

[CONTINUES HERE]

Thanksgiving Dinner

Turducken: ++++! Maybe we lucked out but it was dee-lish.

Mushroom-Bacon gravy: +++, needs more bacon fat (had to pad with olive oil and some Crisco). Next time, I'll either start with more bacon or fry the mushrooms in something else. This uses FarmMom's good ol' pan gravy recipe.

My skin-on mashed potatoes: with Irish butter! ++++!

...The succotash worked out well and Shootin' Buddy brought a fine wine. Pie is next, with coffee.

Bonus: the wisdom of keeping powdered milk on the shelf is proven once again. Ran out of fresh making gravy and taters.

Behind The Scenes: there was a point about a half-hour before dinner when I had bird(s) in the oven, taters simmering and fungi sizzling and had the dining room table stood on end, sinking 3" deck screws through the glue blocks on the apron and into the tops of two of the legs. It was doweled & hide glued together sometime in the late 19th or very early 20th Cent. and then repaired by a hatchet, woodscrew and Elmer's-glue wielding barbarian in the the mid-20th and the glue bonds are all starting to surrender. Lucky me, you can about see the stove in my galley-type kitchen from the table. Luckier still, Tam found one of the batteries for my cordless drill/driver. They'd been AWOL for weeks.

I Did Not Know That

The grease zerk is named for....Oscar U. Zerk! So it's a good thing he invented them. Held at least 299 other patents and lived well as a result of his inventiveness.

And that's something I'm thankful for. To live in a time when good ideas are rewarded and widely used, that's a wonder we take for granted. It wasn't always that way.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Done Inside The Camera

So I'm drivin' home tonight and I think the scene is interesting, in an Edward Hopper kind of way. Having my camera handy, I grab it at the next stoplight and (bein' a good citizen an' all, plus not wanting to have my lights punched out) shut off the flash, then proceed to snap whenever it seems like a good idea.

Results are...not entirely expected....I'm likin' it. This is one of about five that mostly worked.

Four-Oh-Four

Tray Not Found?Yes, that really is what it says. Why? I have no idea. They've got maybe four tray-rack carts total in the whole place. Possibly a bad URL.

Day Before Turkey

We're all sitting on the long benches that run fore and aft, bent over by the weight and arrangement of our gear, shivering, anticipating the drop. Towards the forward bulkhead, there's a flare of light as the drop leader pops the hatch. All along the overhead, indicator lights blink from blue to amber as she waves a turkey baster at us and shouts over our commo channel, "Stand up and hook on!" The ovens are preheated and this is it! We're goin' in--

It feels kinda like that. It's been years since I did a full Thanksgiving; the usual drill was my family's off-day "bring a dish of whatever" holiday feats and my ex's on-the-day family outing to a restaurant (my own mother was scandalized by this practice when first she heard of it).

Let's see, I still need coffee, fresh mushrooms and a little bit of good bacon. (The latter two are for a foolish attempt at mushroom-bacon gravy). That, with luck, should be it; I have everything else we'll need for a meal.

It will sure be a change from my last several working days, mostly spent standing on scaffolding at the focal point of a 5-meter earth station dish, rebuilding the motorized, adjustable feed assembly, an odd combination of delicacy (the drive uses a tiny bicycle chain, with links about 1/8" long) and strength (the fixed part of the mount uses a pair of 1/2" thick circular aluminum plates about 2 feet across, holding a big waveguide assembly almost as big around and half again as long with widgetry sticking out at angles all over). Doesn't make any difference how long you cook that!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday Already?

Let's see, I picked up taters, salad fixings and a Honeycrisp apple pie; already have the fowl... Oh, that's right: content!

Um, gee. Is this thing on?

The November Indy BlogMeet will be the 29th. 3:00 pm at the Broad Ripple Brew Pub! The usual deal, all (all, y'hear me?) bloggers, family and fans are invited.

At Marko's, people actually complain the 1911 is too difficult to take apart! (Sheesh) Tam says everything I would, only she's nicer about it. My first handgun was a Star model "BM," a kind of a 1911 riff with another layer of quirks. C'mon, these are simple little machines; field-stripping does not involve that many parts. John Moses Browning did a lot of thinking to give you a simple sidearm and you're still griping? Guess the big jigsaw puzzles are off your gift list, then.

Meanwhile, this: Hope to follow up that photo at Retrotechnologist later.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Did Jeff Cooper Preach To The Unhearing?

...A local man ignored the Four Rules and killed his wife. He was trying out a new magazine for his handgun and forgot at least three of the rules. He put a bullet through an interior wall and his wife was on the other side. He's widower now. It's been ruled an accident and he won't be facing charges from anyone but himself.

Because the Other Side will exploit it, some gunnies don't like mentioning this kind of situation. I think we shouldn't look away and we darned well ought not leave it to the blood-dancers. It is a tragedy. All the more so in that there is a succinct guide to avoiding this exact situation:

1. All guns are always loaded. (All the time.)
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are on the target. (Or, "until you are ready to shoot.")
4. Be sure of your target and what's behind it.

You will have a negligent discharge some day. Col. Cooper went to a lot of trouble to figure out how to limit the damage. Please pay attention.

Tamara points out that any -- any -- autoloader can discharge when you drop the slide on a live round. It doesn't happen very often; designers work to prevent it; but it does happen. (This is how come they have sand barrels in places where you've got to reload and there's no proper range and backstop). When it does, you'd better be pointed in a safe direction.

With the Four Rules, a hole in the floor and ringing ears; maybe a hole in something in the basement. Without 'em, a life lost.

"Tea, Earl Grey, Hot."

I was going to ask if anyone, anywhere, ever drank Early Grey tea cold on purpose; it stuck me as wildly unlikely. The people at Snapple, however, seem to have thought it was a perfectly reasonable idea.

Still, that's a drop in the rainbarrel compared to all those who have been drinkin' the pure quill piping hot since 1830 or so and I think I can still say the preferred, indeed, default mode of "Tea, Earl Grey" would be "hot."

That stipulated, why does a certain smooth-headed starship captain inevitably tell the food synthesizer, "Tea, Early Grey, hot?" You'd think "hot" would be understood and it would be "cold" you'd have to specify.

OTOH, I spent over five minutes last week convincing a vending machine at work that A) I had given it money, B) that it was real money and not, say, a good photocopy and C) that it was enough money. Merely having to spell out obvious options of refreshment delivery would be a huge improvement!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Last Night's Dinner

Ended Saturday with home-made "cowboy beef and beans" (which we are not to call "chili") and double-egg* cornbread muffins with chives and a hint of red pepper, served on the patio in front of a fire with a blacklight kerosene lantern. Ummm-hmm!


"Blacklight kerosene lantern?" It sure looks like one: the globe is dark blue! The flame, however, is more violet than ultraviolet. Pretty kewl!


(More pictures later -- mostly foooood.)

Update: So, how do we end up with that meal? It starts with a little cumin, some Cajun seasoning, a dash of black pepper and maybe a little red pepper (YMMV) but mostly, a big ol' lump of ground round:

(Note muffin tin balanced atop oatmeal boxes. We'll get to that later) I'd've done stew meat but I didn't feel like taking the extra fifteen minutes to cut it properly -- nor the extra twenty to get it tender.
Once the beef is browned, add some Ro-Tel and Red Gold "chili-ready" tomatoes, some hippie organic three-bean mixture (it was what we had) and a nice little can of diced green chilis (not so spicy-hot themselves -- but the Ro-Tel diced tomatoes we had were Here For Business, with lime!) and simmer while commiting acts of cornbread. (In three acts). If you were wondering, the green bits would be chives and I used olive oil instead of plain vegetable oil -- I like the flavor better. Brand-new muffin pan, nice and heavy. Worked well. Taa-daa! Ready to haul out by the fire and consume with the three best seasonings there are: "outdoors" "cool-ish" and "hungry!"
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* Do you eschew cornbread because it falls apart? Add another egg! It works with any of the box mixes -- used "Miracle Maize" last night, the grocer's stock of ol' reliable Jiffy mix having been totally sold out for Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Zenna Henderson

I'm not sure how I arrived there -- I know I was looking at Wikipedia articles about Heinlein novels, though how I ended up doing that is a mystery, it's not like I haven't read them all, most several times over -- but I found myself reading about another of my favorite authors, Zenna Henderson.

Her stories of "The People," very human-looking aliens fleeing disaster who crash-landed in lifeboats scattered all over North America in the early part of the 20th Century, offer a nearly unique take on one of the genre's more uncommon ideas and her work outside that series is at least as strong. Widely enjoyed -- L. Neil Smith speaks highly of her and he is hardly alone -- her work is anything but conventional SF, despite straightforward narrative and a deft touch at setting scenes and establishing characters.

Somehow, she makes mindreading aliens as real and as homey as Aunt Bea. Well worth checking out if you never have; despite a lack of rayguns or futuristic appurtenances, Zenna Henderson's worlds are wonderful places to visit.