Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Still Got It. And It's Creepy

I remain firmly in the top ten results for "Canadian Spider-Goats," which is a bit odd -- does no one else recognize the looming threat of maple-syrup-powered, eight-legged, venomous, irritant-hair-shedding caprine invaders from the Dire North? --Well, someone does, but he's more concerned about man-pig hybrids, like we haven't had 'em infesting Congress since pretty much Day One or even earlier.

Fine. Fine. When we're suffering, laboring under Ottawa's yoke and lash, plucking snow geese -- no, aw, geesh, that's plucking, Dan and Andre, c'mon, dignity, guys, dignity, at least try to fake it. No, FAAAAke.... Oh, dear -- plucking snow geese so our snow-bound masters can go clubbing with baby seals in style, don't come whining to me; I tried to warn you and you refused to listen.

A Never-Ending Fount Of Wisdom

Found, yet again, on the editorial page of today's paper:

"...[I]t's hard to think of a more dramatic example of foreign oil dependency than BP and the great Gulf of Mexico disaster."

The tangled words of uber-sinister Leftie Dan Carpenter, of course, the same bold, brave fellow who boasts of mouse-trapping a woman from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: when she decried cap-and-trade for the dire effect it would have on everyone's energy bills, then mentioned nuclear power as a possible alternative to conventional sources were it not for the huge cost of building 'em, clever Dan told her, "Talk about electric bills." Then, he tells us, she changed the subject.

Yeah, bet she did, havin' realized you're an ijit: nuke plants cost like bejeezus because of the regulatory burdens and huge legal expense of dealing with addlepated lawsuits from the freeze-in-mud-huts-in-the-dark crowd. It's a very similar can'o'worms to the one that cap & trade would open up -- and it all exposes your agenda, Dan: you'd love to see everyone freeze in the dark...well, everyone except for you and the rest of the ruling elite of which you believe yourself to be a part.

Don't count on it. There's plenty of room under the bus and they don't even slow down for a local newspaper columnist. When presshack lobbyists from the U. S. Chamber of Commerce have given up on you, you have reached a whole new level of irrelevance.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Besides the taste -- which is dee-lish! -- another nice thing about making your own sweet/tangy coleslaw dressing with cider vinegar, sugar, fresh-ground pepper, some garlic/spice mix, a dash of salt and a splash of cold water is, the stuff costs like ten cents a cup; if you've made too much, oh well, down the drain it goes.

He Makes My Brain Hurt

Researching commentary on Andre Carson's trite op-ed screed in today's paper -- one of those, "our lust for cheap oil caused the Deepwater Horizon oil spill" chidings, I realized I have one of those headaches so bad the only real treatment is to close one's eyes and hope to faint.

...Since that's not gonna happen, let's take a closer look at the The Honorahorrible The Mister Representative Carson's pointette and ask a few questions: Does he ride the bus in DC? Did he take Amtrak from Indy to Our Nation's Capitol? If not, why not? Doesn't he care about the environment?

And while he touts "alternative energy," I wonder what his plan is to replace all the products from ammonia to bras to nylon zippers that account for the 28-some percent of non-fuel uses of crude oil?

But I guess glib Gaia-worship is easier than thinking, especially in the U. S. Congress.

Monday, June 28, 2010

McDonald v. Chicago

In your face, Dick Daley!

The Bradies are spinnin' like mad, retconning like a comic-book franchise with a whole new stable of writers and artists.

We're winnin'. They're losin'. Let's keep it that way.

Repopulating Vermin

In today's Birdcage-Liner: big front page photo of one of 'em over a headline twice the size of the one over the other "news" story ("Have Our Top Generals Failed Us?" --Yes, if you expected a combination of Jesus, Daddy, Santa Claus and Alexander the Great): the endangered Allegheny Wood Rat. I was eatin' breakfast at the time, too.

But there it is, in living color and bold as brass, a middle-sized* member of the rodentia, upon whose species the State Department of Natural Resources is spending a half-million of my money in order to reintroduce. Them. Of which. (Grammer-MEDIC!)

Psst, DNR? It's a RAT. Eats some of your food, fouls the rest. Just like the cute little white-footed mouse the paper tells me they resemble. State bird biologist John Castrale -- who I'd like to think may have more of an eye on hawk and eagle food than he lets on, but that's just me -- is quoted saying, "These species were here for thousands of years...we have an ethical responsibility to maintain...diversity." Wonder how he'd react to an infestation of brown roaches? They've got all kinds of seniority, their species havin' "been here" for millions of years!

Whatever supposedly-valuable niche is filled by a critter whose job it is to ruin my cornflakes, we can do without it. We can especially do without havin' to put rats on Welfare with my tax money. Doggone it, they've failed at the species most iconic behavior and if the little thieves can't manage to breed like, f'pity's sake, rats, we should not be proppin' them up.

Just Say No. To rodents.
*Ignoring the really huge ones because...well, ew.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tamara's Video Wargame

...Overheard while I'm making a salad:

"Am not either getting out of the truck!"
"Okay, I'm getting out but if you guys leave m, I'm gonna shoot somebody."
(Bang-bang, kwha-hoom, bang) guys go on i'll be fine... (bang, bang-bang-bang)
"I did not say that! That's just the video game. I'm gettin' back in the truck!"
(intense battle sounds)
"Aw, they shot me. Daggone it! Grrr...."

Hope And Change What?

And in other news, Gitmo's gonna stay open. Bumpy ride? It's all those hopin' for change voters under the bus, the ones that didn't used to be cynical. Gosh, kids, even I feel bad for ya now.


...Speaking of "race" and similar annoyingly-major trivia:

Got me.
...[T]he haircut-with-bangs is an important symbol that a female has completed her transformation from a nerdy girl to a cool woman. In fact, if you went to high school with a nerdy white girl who moved to a big city, there is a good chance she will show up to your high school reunion with this haircut.

Which I did.

From Stuff White People Like, written by clever alien anthropologists, near as I can discover.

Where Angels Fear To Tread, Even In Pairs

Eric S. Raymond takes on "race" and leads readers on a merry chase. Anything I might say here will prolly be misconstrued -- go read what he's got to say.

Aw, I'll say one thing (and he and I agree on it): when the dust settles, it's individual abilities and accomplishments that matter. IMO, all curves are smoothed -- but human achievement happens in the "noise."

(Also -- is liking soccer innate or learned?)

Sunday Morning, Quckly [sic]

- New chain on my bicycle yesterday: Made of wheee! Srsly. It's like getting my seven-league boots back.

- Working on a huge, complicated edition of Breakfast Hash. Back with a report later.

Dateline, Later (INS) First few forkfuls: I'm likin' it. Tam says, "You have outdone yourself here." 80/20 mix of country and andouille sausage, five strips of bacon, two Yukon Gold tatties, a package of fresh sliced mushrooms, a quarter or less of red onion, half a diced Anaheim pepper and three eggs, garnished with the remaining green pepper, a couple of radishes and Swiss cheese, all diced fine. It is so fine!

Later still: finished a huge soup-plateful of the stuff. Mmm, mmm, mmm! I'm gonna nap now.

Days later: A commenter asks, "'Quckly?'" Hey, I admitted to bein' in a hurry!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I Want The MP3

Dustbury links us to There's A Zombie On Your Lawn, as performed by the composer. Gilbert & Sullivan, eat your hearts out -- unless the zombies already have. (Also here. I am sooo checking iTunes).

...Invited Who To Where?

'Twas overheard At The Skunk Works -- heck, I was a party to the conversation and I'm still tryin' to make peace with it. --Also, you think some of your friends misjudge your taste? You have not seen anything yet!

One of the more famously buttoned-down[1] managers at The Workings admitted late Friday to havin' an open invite to Burning Man and upon getting quizzical looks from as many as half of my fellow boffins, spoke briefly of the whacked-out techno-art to be found there; he gave me a look and said, "Kind of reminds me of you." True enough, at least along those lines; I'm fascinated by infernal devices like Neverwas Haul, a self-propelled 19th-Century explorer's club (why leave the clubhouse behind?).

He decided not; it'd be a fly-in and that's not a terribly airplane-friendly environment. Still, I can't help but wonder if he was thinking of the same sort of accounts I've read -- this one, f'r'instance (NSFW unless they count body paint as clothing where you work, hippie[2]). The last couple of lines manage to combine everything I find off-putting about travel with everything I find off-putting about outsider art: loos should not be sand trenches and they'd better have walls around 'em and between the stalls. (As for the wild and weird personal lives some attendees live publicly, I go the .mil one better: Don't Know, Don't Care, Ain't Gonna Ask).

Until I gin up my own version of Neverwas Haul -- perhaps a nice airship complete with a handsome pilot to fly it, Senators to keep the gasbags filled and inside plumbing including a bathtub -- I 'spect I'm not goin', either.
1. That's praise from me, or next thing to it; most of what I know, I learned from suit-wearing guys with crewcut hair and hornrimmed glasses. Some of 'em even wore lab or shop coats to keep the solder, swarf, potter's clay or slide-rule oil from ruining yet another necktie.
(Just checked and neither Firefox nor Blogger knows from "swarf," spellcheck-wise. But you do, don'cha? And maybe even the diffo 'tween it and "fraze," I bet).

2. Though it can be argued that Ms. NSFW Body-Painted Physical-Fitness is precisely why some folk are ooo0tay with the primitive amenities. All right, not my cuppa' but it makes sense.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Link Some Of You Will Follow

Edible Panniers. Well, sort of. Plus, stretchy black rubber. And (feh) recycling.

...Heh, heh, heh. Followed it, didn't you?

Among all the other multiform badnesses of late, the back tire on my bike went phlatt just about a week ago to the day. Yeah. Nice touch. I managed to get the wheel removed yesterday and Tam took it to the bike shop today.

She brought it back, of course, with a super-mondo Kevlar-laced tactical combat-tire from Bontrager, same guys that make the grocery carrier linked to above. And not just 'cos she's The Tamara, it was all they had that fit. The 35" wheels on my bike are not totally common, I guess. Total miscue: they're 700 x 35, call it 27 and two-thirds in inches. And common enough.

Put it back together (easy as cake!) and made a run to the store this evening.* Nice! Alas, my chain is still FU.BAR and I found the bad link: roller's shot, forced out of position and locked up. That'll mean a new chain, I think. So back to the bike shop tomorrow, that one JUMP! per go-round when it hits the small drive sprocket is just too nasty to tolerate. I feel silly admitting I either didn't know or had forgotten there's no master link on this kind of roller-link chain but it's true. Only dawned on me after the third time around, looking.
* Got fixin's for and cooked up Swiss Steakburgers on toasted rye, with red onion, dill, coarse mustard and chili sauce: fit for...well, me. And Tam. YMMV.

Carrying A Handgun In The Hoosier State

An early (posted, sigh) version of my gun-in-your-car-at-work piece that omitted the "at work" in the lede prompted a comment wondering aloud at gun-friendly Indiana being so bad about guns in your car.

Such wonderment is not off-base. Indiana is simultaneously very good and kinda bad when it comes to guns. "Sawed-off" shotguns aside,* you can own anything you can afford, as long as you pass a Federal NICS check. If you're not a criminal, the shall-issue License To Carry Handgun does not have difficult qualifications or high fees and you can even get a lifetime version.

However.... You will be really, really wanting that LTCH, for without it, you may only be carrying your handgun outside your own property if it is unloaded, "in a secure wrapper" and for the purposes of sale, trade or service; otherwise, you're in trouble, possibly committing a felony. If the range you frequent includes a gun store or better yet, a gunsmith and the officer's not inclined to press the point, you're in good shape; but you're rolling the dice.

It's an old law; the original "carry permit" dates back to the 1930s, with a number of revisions and improvements through the years. I will not be surprised if there's a lot of semi-hysterical and largely, generally ignorantly, misleading press coverage around the first of July. A little knowledge of the basics might help folks make sense of it all -- and recognize when they're being lied to.
* It's John Dillinger's fault, the rotten so-and-so.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I'm Getting Better

I had not realized how bad I had got; I'd had just about zero energy. A bit more bounce today, though after 8 hours total, that last half hour was uphill all the way.

One of the medications they handed me was a 'scrip I looked at and asked the doc if it was for real: it read "Mary's Magic Potion." (Paging Albert Hoffman?) He grinned and said, "It's something the pharmacist compounds -- topical painkiller, antibiotic, steroid, a little this and that." I asked the nurse when I was checking out if I need to go to one of the specialist pharmacists and she said not to worry.

It was, indeed, not a problem. The resulting goo, a thick liquid, looks dreadful, a sickly pale pink, and it tastes worse (probably thanks to the tetracycline). But it works.

(Here's a PDF of the various versions and their names. "Wiesman's Philadelphia Mouthwash," now wasn't that the label on all those bottles dear old Bill Fields used to keep around...?)

Even The Bad States Aren't....Them

Turk Turon points out a court case in Massachusetts where enforcement of their "safe storage" law went a bit nutty -- owner had his Glock in a portable icebox...locked up in its original box... and the junior jackboots upstanding servants of the people didn't think it was locked enough; appeals court ruled otherwise and Innocent Gunowner is exonerated.

Meanwhile, in that funny place from where the British Empire used to rule the world, the attention of 'er Majesty's various and sundry Governments is turned instead to making George Orwell look like a pathetic little optimist skipping through the flowers: beseems a woman had kept her father's little .32 pistol for the 29 years since his death (out of sentiment, she wasn't pullin' bank jobs on weekends or anything) and police found it while investigating another matter. She, innocent in deed and intent, will be going up the river for five years simply for possessing that underpowered memento.

Some States of this overly-close Union do indeed and verily stink upon the ice for firearm ownership; I shall not mention them by name but IL, NY, CA and the other infringers are well known. But by golly, they're not the United -spit- Kingdom; and that's another reason you should give sincerest thanks to every single American who fought or supported our troops in the American Revolution and the War of 1812.

England, where Blackstone once had writ, "In these several articles consist the rights, or, as they are frequently termed, the liberties of vindicate these rights, when actually violated or attacked, the subjects of England are entitled, in the first place, to the regular administration and free course of justice in the courts of law; next to the right of petitioning the king and parliament for redress of grievances; and lastly to the right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defense." Sadly, he continued, "And all these rights and liberties it is our birthright to enjoy entire; unless where the laws of our country have laid them under necessary restraints. Restraints in themselves so gentle and moderate, as will appear upon farther enquiry, that no man of sense or probity would wish to see them slackened."

So gentle, so moderate, that they will be sending a 53-year-old mother to prison for five years. My heavens, what person of sense or probity could possibly object to that?

The more I see of the world, the more I love the Bill of Rights.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sick Day, Only Not

The last week or more, my throat has been feeling like it was about to close up, right at the back of my mouth. It has been getting steadily worse. With one thing and another (and another, and another), I have been ignoring it. It's my esophagus, not my windpipe and as the ancient Roman advised, either an ailiment will get better or it will kill you and either way, hey, problem solved. There was stuff to get done, after all.

Except today, I stated having trouble swallowing. Neti pot helped some in the morning and a steady cuppa tea all day did some good but it was still problematic. Sometimes it would just close right up. Arrived home to discover Tam not feeling too well, either and hied myself off to the doc-in-a-box, only to be diagnosed with a fine case of strep and given an impressive list of prescriptions (history of rheumatic fever, they still get a bit weird when I show up streppy).

I don't know if Roseholme's resident Stoic has the same bug or if coping with a steady stream of conractors and utility guys (along with all the other excitement, our water meter had to be swapped out this week), most of it out in this miserable heat and humidity, has sapped her energy. Time will tell. But if she starts having to clear her throat a lot, I'm gonna try to convince her to talk to the doc.

July Fools!

It's coming, you know: the Big Day! Come 1 July, if you have an Indiana "carry permit"* you can have your gun in your car in the parking lot at your work (with a few Federal-type exemptions). Whoopee!

--Not, mind you, out of your car, not one fraction of an inch. But still, hooray, right?

Kind of.

If you work at a place that's even a little gun-unfriendly, unless you have lawyered up and are ready for a long slog, it might not be too great an idea to stuff that hogleg in the glovebox come the first of next month. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce loathes the notion and they appear to be making sure business-owners know it. I won't be surprised to hear of "voluntary" car searches at some businesses and after that.... Somebody will get to be the test case.

Be ready for it.

As for me? I'm not sayin'. It's nobody's business but mine. True, I know lawyers; on the other hand, I'm not especially well-off and even if they were good, good friends, willin' to work pro bono ab initio ad infinitum, it would be a big burden. Flip side, I haven't been really, really annoying near enough lately. In either instance, what's mine is mine and it stays outta sight. Read the law (Senate Bill here, no time for a better link, sorry) -- you're able to keep in that parking lot but it doesn't offer any protection if you bear. Let's get this run through the courts before we throw a party.
* License To Carry Handgun. I don't know if this law applies to similar permits from other states and nations, all of which Indiana otherwise honors. You should maybe ask your lawyer.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another Day, Another Disaster

By now, You The Reader must be nearly as tired of my unending whining as I have become -- it makes me want to puke -- yet here I are again.

As you may have noticed, it's been raining a lot in the Midwest. And you may remember that the basement here at Roseholme Cottage has proven itself to be less than perfectly water-tight. We'd had a little water ingress of late; not as much as we've had in previous years, which had led to my feeling a bit self-congratulatory about the work I've done with installing gutters and cleaning the older ones, adding nifty extensions to the downspouts and so on and so forth. Pride, 'tis written, goeth before a fall. Or a damp Spring and damper Summer.

I try to be mindful of the odds of water on the basement floor; the shocking shortage of closet space means a lot of my clothes are down there in baskets and on clothes racks, and of course the ham shack, radio workbench and gunsmithing benches are all in the basement, along with a lot of parts and projects storage.

With all the tree problems, I haven't been paying as much attention as I should. There's a lot of "at risk" stuff down there and I've already lost the bet on some of it. How much, I'm still finding out. And mopping up. (Took a break to eat dinner -- I had a long day of hard work, nearly all of it out in the heat and the rest of it, well, this was "all personal stuff out of the North Campus" day and that used to be where my office was: lotta stuff, too many memories).

See, there was more water on the floor down there this morning than last night. Today when I got home there was...a lot. Sixty to seventy percent of the floor is wet. Oh, not very deep water, a sixteenth or in some spots an eighth of an inch, but as much as I mop, there's more. The dehumidifier is running flat-out. And I was fresh out of mops; came home, unloaded useless personal junk from car (Hewlett/Packard AC voltmeter, audio-though-low RF test osicllator, Hallicrafters SX-28 communications receiver: "junk") and walked downstaris to A Problem.

Even some of my woodworking projects were in the basement, like the big "window seat" I keep trying to finish for the library/dining room. I had the base assembled -- a six-foot by two-foot rectangle of 2x8 left over from a flooring project and it was tucked into the hamshack corner, standing on edge. Thought I had it propped up on something waterproof. I did not. It's been soaking up water all day; it's a goner. The other pieces I had cut but not assembled and they're on a 4x8x16 raw concrete block -- tick, tick, tick, unless I get real clever real fast.

My toolbox stand also soaked up water. I made a run to the building-supply store and it's up off the floor on waterproof feet now, for whatever good it will do. I can knock together another one easily my copious free time....

Don't know what else is shot yet. The shipping box for a touchscreen (CRT) all-in-one Windows computer, for sure (but the computer was and is safe upstairs. Not a powerful machine but kewl as all get-out, want it? First hundred and a quarter plus shipping owns it). Tam has some books at risk that I'll have to move. A few other boxes.

Heap big fun, no? --More rain in the forecast, last I knew. Tellya what, much as I loathe the idea, I am ready to get into some middle-sized debt to have my basement actually waterproofed...or at least drained well enough to prevent this sort of problem.

And I was looking forward to a nice, quiet evening, sorting out radio junk and salvage, listening to the ham bands. Fat chance!

New Content At I Work On A Starship

The latest chapter of Frothup: Dropping In:
Attitude jets cut in with a sound like a fire hose, a hard shove as he moved the stick and the squirt-booster rolled in line with our vector and on around until it felt as if we were nearly upside-down. Intent on the display, he made a few more fine adjustments to our attitude, flipped a toggle and then just sat there. Presently, another countdown popped up and marched from :30 to :00 and on the zero, we slammed into bumpy grayness and thudded back out again almost a minute later, "falling up" a little off the projected path. Butch looked at it and decided, "Close enough. Y'like that?"

I kind of hadn't - I prefer my excitement predictable - but it didn't seem polite to admit

Whatever next? Follow the linked text and find out!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tree Update

...Returned home to discover the falling fork all but gone, a neat stack of firewood on the curb; my ham antenna's newest anchorage, lost when half the tree succumbed to gravity, had been relocated to higher on the remaining portion of the tree than I could ever get it and Jim of The Tree Machine was busily cleaning up the chips and sawdust.

The price, about a third of what it cost to clear the fallen tree Saturday.

(Jim, while happy to be in cyberspace, cautions that he only works in three neighborhoods, Broad Ripple being one. The other two, I should have asked. Next time! Meridian-Kessler and Forest Hills --He'll be back next month, taking care of an ailing and much-married pair of elms next door).

Saving Spacecraft Of A Past

Air Shows? Gotta love 'em! Science Fiction? The kind they put on the tube, I can take or leave[1] but the props are often works of art.

What might happen if these the worlds were to collude[2]? There's no need to speculate! The Science Fiction Air Show is a...reality? It does exist. You'll have to make up your own mind about how much or where.
1. Most of them bear the same relation to SF-in-books that Postum does (did? Aw, we can't keep nothin' nice) to coffee: it could be delicious but it wasn't the real thing.

2. Hat tip to Balmer and Wylie.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Another Tree Falls

I don't want to believe it. Tam came in from the porch not twenty minutes ago, saying, "The tree in the front yard is making popping noises."

Went out and listened and it was indeed producing sounds. Quiet ones, pop...rustle...pip. Squirrels setting up housekeeping? A raccoon? Then it went "P-POP skkkkt!" and started to sag. Down it went, breaking -- splitting! -- at the spot where the hollow branch broke off, the one I posted a photograph of this very morning.

Somehow it didn't hit the streetlight or the power drop to it; somehow it missed our neighbor's car. Alas, it is arched right over the sidewalk and the branch* is still slowly splitting lengthwise, high on the trunk. I ran a string and hung warning signs on it to encourage pedestrians to not walk under the hazard. We already have a call into Mr. Tree Guy.

If it's not one thing, it's two things.

I am not unique among gunbloggers for treefall, either! Ouch, Mr. B.
* Branch, trunk, whatever. The tree forks into two separate, yet equally important parts (cue Law'n'Order sound). Call them what you will, but one part has done broke.

Find The Lady

Or, NRA plays three-card monte with Congress -- and guess who steps up?
The gun lobby, however, didn’t count on an uprising among African-Americans in Congress who favor gun control. To the credit of these urban lawmakers in the Congressional Black Caucus – who know that allowing the easy sale of guns in cities is the moral equivalent of yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater – forced the Democratic leadership to withdraw the bill for now. A House vote that was scheduled on the DISCLOSE Act for Friday was quietly canceled.
Well, then.
Suuuuure they didn't count on it. Or something similar.

(Also, what? "...allowing the easy sale of guns in cities is the moral equivalent of yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater...." You read minds, maybe, and have mastered psychohistorical prediction, too? Riddle me this: How is it that Indianapolis, then, is demonstrably and significantly less panicked than Chicago, unlawful-shooting-rate-wise? Not to mention less shot-up -- yet anyone in Indy who can pass a NICS check can own any gun they can afford, while Chicagoans are limited to some types of longarms and even that requires various permits and registrations merely to possess).

Within An Order Of Magnitude Either Way

C'mon, baby, do approximation!
It's kind of almost easy if you sort of know how
It'll getcha maybe close enough kind of somehow
C'mon, c'mon, do approximations with me...

Hey, look, I emerge from the shower singing these things; I have no idea where they come from.

BlogMeet: 20 June, Rock Bottom, 3:00 p.m.

It's official: the next Indy BlogMeet will be at the Rock Bottom Brewery in College Park, on the faaaaar North side! We shall begin our BlogMeet just as the hour turns happy, too. (2801 Lake Circle Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46268).

The Tree Is Gone, Long Live The Tree

Yes, the former Tree #2, a silver maple, has gone on to prepare for a short, bright career as firewood! Thanks to tree removal expert Jim Clark & crew of The Tree Machine, Inc. (317/257-6667, here in Indianapolis) (And I didn't get a price break or other consideration for the mention, either. He was good and his price was great, so I'm happy to get the info out there)
--Photos follow:My first sight of the Tree Guy Himself, above. Followed very shortly by his asking, "You and Tamara had both better watch this -- and be ready to call 911 if things go wrong." (Yes, dears, that's hyperbole -- but if it was easy and safe, anyone could do it). Here's why: Things are in motion in this image and the fallen trunk is headed to whack into a branch of the tree Jim's standing on:...The sound tree (well, sound-ish) stood, thanks to a breakaway branch. Anybody in there?And below, the fallen. Hats off, gentlemen! It gave long and faithful service.In the slicing-up, a good look at what wood turners and carvers call "spalted" wood. A fungus does the work. Very pretty, not so good for the tree.Almost like it was never there....Almost.The famous card:A look at the Tam-famous truck. The other side has a well-designed tool rack, with a small, sturdy work surface that drops down. Everything has a place, without having to move six things to get to any tool. Framework is all aluminum, to maximize payload. The smaller wheelbase makes it well-suited to Broad Ripple's narrow streets, too.By 2100, I had my ham antenna back up and the landscaping timbers staked and deckscrewed back into place. Hooray!

Next, The Search For Stump-Grinders. Are they the ones who live in the woods and wear only metal, or the ones who can't bear the sun and subsist on a steady diet of live bees and honey?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I'm An Outlaw? In-Law?

Whatever. According to the quiz at Moral Politics (ooo! oxymoron!):
"Your [sic] scored 0 on Moral Order and -7.5 on Moral Rules."
The following categories best match your score (multiple responses are possible):
1. System: Conservatism, Liberalism
2. Ideology: Ultra Capitalism, Ultra Liberalism
3. Party: No match.
4. Presidents: Ronald Reagan
5. 04' Election: Michael Badnarik
6. 08' Election: Ron Paul

Of the 617,053 respondents (11,286 on Facebook):
1. 2% are close to you.
2. 1% are more conservative.
3. 1% are more liberal.
4. 60% are more socialist.
5. 28% are more authoritarian.
Rats, only 28 percent? And I am both extreeemely liberal and extreeeeemly conservative?Ooookay. LTHO, I am a veritable sink of moral depravement.

I'm now not even all that sure what they are testing, especially when they tell me "socialism" involves "nonconformance." Tell it to the East Germans!

Try it yourself.

(Found via Traction Control)

Says So Right Here

Found on an auction site:So, not much in it, then?

Inside An Editor's Mind

Watch where you step!

For -- h'mm, for just about as long as I've been alive, the Morning Catbox-Liner Of Pretentiousness* has been running a cheesy one-line feature on the front page called the Daily Chuckle. It vanished unceremoniously awhile back and I didn't notice until a letter to the editor popped up.

Newsmaven Ruth Holliday -- a real journalist even without a paper to call home (look quick, kids, Journalistae Americana is scarce even in captivity. We'll miss them when the last one's gone) -- caught it and rang up her old boss to get the scoop.

Ms. Holliday's plan to mark the sudden death of the Chuckle -- and what you can do to help -- I leave for her and you. 'Tis priceless! Along the way, Mr. Editor-man's comment on some reactions to why he yanked the syndicated feature is illuminating. "Daily Chuckle" had indeed come slightly adrift in time, and sometimes trod a bit upon various sensitive toes (oooo, noes!). Thus, the ax. --He Who Edits declaimed, "[S]ome [readers] tell us we need to lighten up and not be so politically correct, a term I despise because I do think we need to be sensitive."


Remember when newspaper Editors were hard-boiled newshounds, interested in as much of The Truth as they could cram onto the page by press time and Devil take whatever got in the way? --Or at least they were supposed to be and showed no reluctance at all to try livin' up to the stereotype? Toss that on the fire, right next to dial telephones answered by real, genuine human beings paid to be helpful. --I was gonna say "with the cigars all Editors supposedly chomped" but it would be soooooo insensitive to the delicate sensibility of moderns to burn anything as gauche as a cee-gar. Editors these days, a slightly-used antimacassar could whup 'em and they'd prolly apologize to it after.
* Sorry, Star, but the afternoon News was a paper with its sleeves rolled up and the sweat of honest work on its brow, while you sipped tea and essayed arch witticisms about the crudeness of hoi polloi. Had to kill it, didn't you?

Did I Mention Storm?

Oh, yeah, storm -- this photo is light because I happened to snap it just as lightning flashed. And a lot of the fuzziness is raindrops!How much rain did we get? There's water in the basement, water poured over the end of the gutters:I think we've had enough monsoon already.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Made Of Win -- And Storm

In brief: I got the parts and fixed the thing I messed up yesterday. Hooray, me -- better not to have done it in the first place, but....

And there is a mighty storm headin' in, so I will be shutting down. Is our fallen tree all down...? No. But at least it has been streamlined a lot. Sure hope there's no one parked underneath!

Arrgh; or, Made Of Fail

Yesterday was -- with the possible exception of finding a tree service guy with both a clue and affordable* prices -- was an absolutely miserable day. Started with havin' my nose rubbed in the way in which the increasingly irrelevant North Campus of the Skunk Works is no longer anyone's special baliwick, especially mine; true but galling if you happened to be the tech that built it and had (former) Big Wheels tell ya it was your very own to look after. But that's inevitable and one copes by examining one's paycheck. H'mm, not any smaller; okay, then.

Far worse is spending half the day on a project that results in a giant pile of fail and suckage: fought and fought with the position indicator on a servomechanism, attempting to calibrate and set limits, one of those deals where the controls are hundreds of feet away from the thing controlled with no way to see what's happening and at the end of the day, what progress? Why, the total destruction of a $43.01 ten-turn potentiometer mounted in a difficult-to-access location, is what, and without a spare in hand. Now there's a baaaaaad feeling. Overnighted in a pair of 'em and will be standing atop a ladder, muttering imprecations of a dire and icky sort as soon as I can this morning. Only bright side is, the other option for that part sells for $289.99 American, per each.

Naturally, my "alarm clock" this morning was a migraine and a backache. Whine, whine, whine: I figure enough sunshine an' honest labor will fix those things, or at least distract me from 'em. Right? Darn skippy right. (I'm gonna draft me a pair of sharp eyes to watch that 10-turn pot and call out the turns, too. 'Sa pity the folks that made the gadget it's part of didn't believe in hard-limit stops of any kind).
* As such things go. Tree service outfits after a storm are like the guys who put out burning oil rigs: the work is dangerous, requires well-developed skills and the proper tools, and the clock's tickin' -- the hazard must be dealt with before it gets worse. You are not only paying for the work, you're paying what it takes to have all the workers and widgets available when needed.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

If You're Gonna Come Here And Work, Learn The Lingo

...Amazin' how fast that notion springs to to the Lefty/mediabot mind when the non-native speaker didn't sneak in from that worker's paradise South Of The Border; the instant example being the shrill indignation over BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg's well-meant but inept assertion that "I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don’t care, but that is not the case with BP. We care about the small people."

Looky here, it stung, but the man is clearly struggling with synonym-laden English, which he speaks clearly enough but without idiom. The tenor and tone of the entire statement make his intentions clear. And you can hear the sound-bitten press slaver when he steps on his own drill, too.

Meanwhile, in Congress, they're calling for BP CEO Lamar McKay to resign -- or even eviscerate himself. What, right there on the beach, adding a bitta biohazard to the oil-globs? You keep it classy, Congress.

The oil spill is a big problem. The flood of BS from politicians and reporters may, in the long term, be an even bigger one.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

This Is An Ex-Tree

Here's a better idea of the magnitude of the problem: There's some height on those trees!

I did snip this tonight: Did it despite dire, half-serious warnings from Tam, too. It worked out; I just sat a stepladder close, climbed up and took diagonal cutters to the poly line that connected the insulator to the stainless eyebolt* in the tree -- possibly not the safest thing I've ever done. You can't see it in the first photo but the wire was headed up across the roof peak, with room to spare.
* Recommended practice per tree experts. Supposedly less bothersome to the tree than having an earlobe pierced is to you, and much better than tying a rope around it. The tree, not your earlobe.

June BlogMeet

Show of hands, 20th or 27th? --Here's the deal: if we BlogMeet on the 20th, gunwriter and novelist Frank W. James can attend, as well as much-missed Nathan Brindle.

So...which of those two dates can you make?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Roseholme Cottage Under Seige!

Or, "Why, Yes, It Is A Bleg"
Power went out about 7:45 this evening and was off for half an hour. (Back now but it keeps flickering off and back on). About fifteen minutes after we lost power, a major storm front blew through; Tam and I had been outside and barely made it in ahead of falling limbs pursued by a wall of fat raindrops (a neighbor across the alley had a tree down over their neighbor's power drop and workers had been removing it; they loaded up their truck and lit out when the lights went out!).

The winds got stronger once we were inside. After rounding up flashlights and candles, Tam adjourned herself to the porch.

She was no more than out the door when I heard, "Uh-oh."

...There are two trees in the front yard at Roseholme. Tree number one stands square in the middle and sends a limb out to menace the streetlight. Tree number two's had a hard life. Mostly hollow, it lurks back nearer the cottage, just inside the property line, as though it was unsure whether to flee or try to get under the house to hide. It's got a job, holding up one end of my ham antenna (a G5RV, guys).

That is, it used to do those things. The wind took hold of it, popped it free of what was left of its roots, and leaned it right into tree number one. The leaves are still green but that tree has shuffled off its mortal coil; it has collapsed into the arms of its brother-in-branches. It hasn't taken down my antenna, it didn't fall that far (yet?), but it's going to need to be taken down and hauled off to the tree morgue.

The porch --The Porch where Tam muses -- is not presently safe. And I'm kinda worried for our mailman, too.

I had not really planned on this and will therefore, somewhat abashed, remind concerned readers of Tam's tip jar. The unfortunate tree's gotta gotta go and payday's awhile off yet.

June BlogMeet

As Shermlock and Old Grouch point out, June's sands are sinkin' in the glass; time to pick a day and place for the June Indy Blogmeet!


Shooty Goodness

At least one commenter noticed Tam and I missed the morning events at the Indy Air Show. (Next, year, we'll do better -- and wear better sunblock). Alas, we did; but we had a reason.

Some skills are perishable. Shooting, for instance; if your sidearm is to be more than decoration, you've got to practice. Frequently.

Me, I'm no great shot, but I try. (Plus, the .38 Super 1911 was just back from the gunsmith's after a $2.98 repair: main cause of wobbularity, the old barrel link!) Seven-yard paper, no great respecter of "try:" Yes, that's what it looks like, the hangiest of hanging chads, despite a mix of .38 and .45 hits, not to mention Flyers of Frustration. Grrr. Success!

Tam's target already had the center neatly chewed out by the time I arrived at the range. Hey, head start. --Years, not minutes.

My thanks to Indy Parks and the hard-working volunteers who keep it running -- yes, Eagle Creek Park Pistol Range is a city park (when it's not a police range).

Monday, June 14, 2010

Seven Years On The Ultimate Sea

It came back yesterday, landing in Australia: Japan's asteroid lander Hayabusa. It may sound like the title of a drive-in midnight movie (the linked video in the previous line is pretty amazing!) but it's the real deal; most of the vehicle shreddded and roasted on the return through Earth's atmosphere, as it was designed to, but -- Holy Andromeda Strain! -- the payload was protected, popped out ahead of the main ball'o'flame right on the mark, and slammed down to Australia's Woomera Range, plaintive beacon beeping out "here I am!"

Seven years to go there and back, "there" being Itokawa asteroid, where it touched down in 2005 (remember? Me neither; well, dimly).

It's humanity's first tiny bit of asteroid mining! Here's hopin' we'll do plenty more, and soon.

"He's Down, Kick Him Again!"

...Or so says a letter-writer in the local NewsPulp, addressing BP's refinery along Indiana's Lake Michigan shore. --And never you mind that they've sunk millions into ongoing modernization projects, nor that Indian's own IDEM isn't affected by the ongoing mess in the Gulf of Mexico.

Next up (linklessly, they wanna sell ya newsprint; it's their content, after all): Fran "Tax Me Harder" Quigley on the property tax "cap" some most of us are hoping to get added to Indiana's State constitution. Our resident anti-gun bedwetter loathes the idea; after all, he asserts, "property taxes are actually fair to most citizens," though he offers nothing to back that up. That'd be unfair to some, Fran -- I thought you were all about fairness, or are some tax-bearing animals less equal than other? He omits that school boards are not bound by the cap; he shudders to think the state might charge user fees or raise sales taxes. Nope, he wants to tax something you can't easily change, something you may, in fact, not be able to escape at all unless you're willin' to sleep rough and live light: the roof over your head. ...Or the former roof over your head, if you can't bear the increasing property-tax burden. It got out of control, Fran, and now it's being (partially) limited. And what vexes you most is, now it can't be used to enact your cripple-the-successful version of "social justice." Awwww.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

So, They Showed Us Air

Exciting and very, very busy in the air.Should they be doing that? Even the golf-cart guy is wondering. (Yes, and if I had a faster camera, I'd've caught the nifty close encounter).

And then there are The Horsemen, the only P-51 aerobatic team presently around. On the ground, oh so pretty:In the air? Breathtaking!There were other things besides airplanes, too. For instance, we can be certain that the big anti-tankish kind of rifle at the front of this collection of British WW II weaponry is a Boys rifle:...Seeing as how it's already attracted a boy!

There was also a Warthog doing interesting things. They don't make a whole lot of noise -- they're designed not to -- but the sound they do make? Chill your blood! It didn't just fly around, either:The smoke (and delightful explosions preceding it) were effects; seems FAA and other such outfits, not so fond of even smoke-bombing audiences. Still, the message is clear: if you have one of those, you can make as many smoke rings as you want!

One last photo for now, snapped out the car window as we made a 5 mph exit; I just matched the attitude and tripped the shutter without looking. It's not the clearest but that's an A-10 being escorted by P-51s. Y'don't see that every day!There may be still more photos, later, like the devilishly-handsome "German tank commander" and his tank, a kind of kit-car version of WW II weaponry...but it's hardly on a VW chassis! Or snapshots of Yankee Lady and Hot Stuff (WW II bombers, as if you didn't know). Tam and I had quite a fine time, despite fit-to-melt'cha heat with a big side order of humidity. Well worth it! (SB, ol' pal, you shouldna had a flat tire. You missed out -- even your old branch of service was well-represented there).

Air Show Report Coming

...I have to duck offline and finish editing photos. I have some nice ones, nothing magazine-covery-y but hey, fun. BRB.

Sticking Point

Even a blind sow -- as they say -- drags home the occasional worn-out tire; and so it is with Our Local Fishwrap (and Post-Literate Gazetteer). They may not quite grasp it, but they've dug up a story at the intersection of small-government libertarian/conservatism and flat-out libertarian anarchism.

See, it's magnets. Magnets of the sort used in military hardware. Since Anderson, Indiana's Magnaquench was purchased by "Chinese investors" (and we're not talkin' Taiwan) , Uncle Sam has had to import every last neodymium magnet in every last missile, servomotor and so on and so forth -- and so has the guy that makes your headphones (maybe these folks? [I'll take the SR60i model, John]) and the sole-and-only nation from which they are imported? Yep. Our pals in Red China.

On the one hand, every business that starts up over there is another bunch of folks earnin' actual foldin' money and getting a better notion of the bigger world; I still hold to the same opinion I did when the Brits handed over Hong Kong, that it was just a matter of time before the dynamic go-getterism of the tiny former colony infected the rest of China and transformed it.

--On the other hand, that's not likely to be a fast or painless process and it won't surprise me if China manages to come to blows with some other nation or nations in the process. So what're the odds suppliers to our .mil folks might need magnets in a hurry and find there are none to be had? Should we roll those dice?

On the other other hand (or is it a foot?), about the only way to bootstrap the industry back up is for Congress to start requirin' in-country sources for all such componentry, which is plain meddling.

Balanced on the remaining foot? Lemme put on my Wookiee slipper an' point out that in Libertaria, the military are all private firms and not very large ones at that. Where they buy their arms, armor and CCC gear is their own lookout. (Where is Libertaria anyhow, and why can't I buy a bus ticket there?)

Meanwhile, back where I live, the skilled magnetizers at Thomas & Skinner point out that the guys who know how are not gettin' any younger -- and they are getting jobs in places other than the magnet biz. If we want to keep on -- if we even want to keep up -- now's the time to start.
P.S. See previous post. Magnetic Springs dries up and then -- not quite a generation later -- the magnet biz starts departing. H'mm.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

See A Weather Forecast, Find A Drama

Storms -- severe storms -- rolled into central Indiana this evening, bringing yet more rain and ominous, near-continuous thunderings to Roseholme Cottage.

Popped on the ijit box to see what might be what and the local outstanding news station* had interrupted their regularly scheduled with wall-to-wall radar and rain-related rambling. They put up one of those nifty predictive wedgies over the Live! Radar! and rattled off who was gonna get it next: "Mt. Pilot at 8:13! 8:15, Danville! And the storm will reach Magnetic Springs at 8:16!"

I nearly had my second-best stopwatch out when the name hit me: Magnetic Springs? Never heard that one before.

Turns out there are a couple reasons for that, starting with the way those springs came unsprung a long time ago -- plus when they were a goin' concern, they went by their married name, Cartersburg-Crystal Springs, Inc., and hung out in bottles at all the tonier hotels and homes hereabouts. But that's their prosperous middle age; the beginning and the end of the beginning are very nearly movie material.
* We know this by the number of times in a single newscast there is a yet another live in-the-field reporter on the screen, saying, "I'm standing outside the location where..."

Inja, Don'cha Know

This morning it rained in a way I rarely see hereabouts. It was National Geographic rain, Impressionist painter rain -- monsoon rain.

Woke up to the steady drumming, punctuated by an occasional heavy PLOP! as the larger tree branches above the roof would release heavy droplets of accumulated rain. As the intensity grew, the latter were lost in the onrush. Looked out the window and found the world transformed, the air suffused with water.

The only difference between outdoors and an aquarium was the density. Every fat drop that hit -- and they were nearly having to shove each other out of the way in their mad devotion to gravitation -- every drop exploded into a dozen droplets. It was like a coarse-mesh fog or very thin water, the early-morning light percolating through, slow as syrup and loaded with color, the assorted green of growing things exulting in the wet, charcoal-dark tree trunks, jewel-bright flowers, swaths of flatter color from nearby buildings....

I made my way to the front porch, where Tam was having a morning smoko, book ignored in her hand, gazing out at the water sparkling off roofs, sidewalks, the street. Lawns on the far side seemed distant through the haze; closer, the front yard glowed deep, textured green.

Halfway down the walk, the morning paper waited, wrapped in orange plastic. I thought about it, dry on the porch, then danced down the steps, splashed down the walk, grabbed, turned and ran back, already soaking wet.

As I came to light on the porch, Tam gave me a narrow look. "You'll hurt yourself."

"Didn't this time."

Besides, weather's not a photograph. It's not really raining if you never touched it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

"Tick-Tock, Ms. X, Tick-Tock"

It's just goin' eight and here I am, sittin' down to compose yet another glorious screed (hey, better that than scrofulous gore!).

There is not time for it: The Water Company, having decided our remote water meter gadget (a magic target on the side of the house that the meterman zaps data from with a watermetergun, honest) is dead-ish, they want me to schhedule an appointment with them N-O-W, and I've gotta do that.

So, for your delectation, here's a link to Deroy Murdock's opinion column, a piece that might well be called Adventures In Prejudice. I'm no big fan of Rush Limbaugh (signal-to-hot-air ratio doesn't suit my ear, YMMV) and Elton John I can take or leave -- but what happens when their paths cross might surprise you.

...Wish me luck with the water-wizards at Vieola, or whatever they call themselves this week....

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Conan The Objectivist

"What, O finest of all men, is best in life? Is it not a sunny day, a following wind and a heady, honest profit?"

Conan The Objectivist
"Nay, to outwit your enemies, to see them fall at your feet -- to purchase their horses and goods at low, low prices, hear the lamentation of their women and to deliver a six-hour speech, exposing the shortcomings of their philosophy and worldview and establishing a sane and logical framework in its place. That is best."

Soon to be a major motion picture!

(Admit it -- you'd watch).

Update: I'm thinking seriously about doing an entire short story in this vein. Interested? Let me know.

Carry Me Back To Old Vergina

Vergina? It's where the ancient Macedonians buried kings and their kin. And -- oh, here's a shocker! -- it's where a symbol was dug up that became quite the hot potato betwixt F. Y. R. Macedona and Greece. (Turns out if you're a king, it matters a lot what you put on your larnax; but I'm sure you knew that already).

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Incidental Idiocy

In an op-ed today by Indiana State Teachers Association Thug-in-chief President Nate Schnellenberger that decries de-unionizing teachers while flogging all the traditional dead horses (those unsupportive parents, the need for smaller classes, a wider assortment of course offerings -- for students who cannot read or do math! -- and of course and forever, more money) he avers the following:

"Hoosiers believe that a living wage, access to health insurance and protection from arbitrary firings are basic rights that most employees should have."

This is, in fact, demonstrably wrong in nearly every respect, not to mention two-faced -- if something is "a basic right" why should only "most" have it?

"Access to health insurance:" No evidence that Hoosiers all -- or even in a majority -- think you ought to have health insurance automatically handed to you, either as a required consequence of being employed or by some other means.

"Protection from arbitrary firing:" No. Wrong. All salaried employment in Indiana is "at risk" unless you've got a contract that says otherwise. I haven't seen any big movement to change that, either. --Say, Nate, do teachers punch a timeclock? Things are a little diffo if you're hourly, but not so much so that you should lean any too heavily upon it.

"A living wage?" Nope. Minimum wage in Indiana follows the Fed numbers and AFAIK, there's no promise that it'll be enough to live on.

--Ol' buddy, ol' pal, minimum wage laws are what keep a lot of your students from havin' part-time jobs: a loving and benevolent government has priced them out of the market. Add in the skills your members are failing to teach them and it's a recipe for...

Why, my goodness me, it's a recipe for making ignorant and unfounded assertions. Well, at least they won't be able to express them with sufficient fluency t'get published in the paper -- but I don't think even you would be willin' to count that as a win.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

You Thought Zoning Fights Were Bad Here?

In China, a farmer is firing home-made weapons to discourage government eviction teams out to run him from his farm!

Yet another crack in the wall. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

Helen Thomas Bigotry Timeline

18 May: Awarded the "Sarah Brady Visionary Award" by the venomously anti-gun Brady Center at a gala dinner in Washington, D.C. (If they've killed that link, Joe saved the page!)

28 May: Venomously opines Israel's Jews should "...go back home to Poland and Germany. And America..." Including the ones whose families've lived in Israel for centuries, I guess.

7 June: "Retires." Venomously. Well, semi-venomously.

Quite a monument. To something. The mindset that herds disarmed, innocent civilians into cattle-cars for "the greater good," if you ask me.

I hadn't commented on this -- everyone had links to the horrific video -- but a post from Lyle at Joe Huffman's blog and another from Joe himself moved me to do so. A mere ten days...! The leopard does not fall far from the tree, hey? The apple does not change its spots.

Update: the self-described "anti-war Left" bemoans her departure. Mr. Godwin? Your limo is waiting and Move On is pickin' up the tab. And there's a Tom Leher song playin' already!

It's A Better Morning

...'Cos I have darned well decided it's gonna be. Yesterday (and no small part of Sunday) was wretched with a capital retch: exhausted, hurtin' and with my equilibrium shot. Why this might be, I don't know. Bizarre allergies? Back trouble? (Wrong symptoms to be the one I know about) A minor flu-type bug?

Whatever. It had its two days, which is at least a day and a half too long. Already had iso-butyl-propanoic-phenolic acid (! ibuprophen); I'm'a takin' me a Vitamin B, too, and gettin' out and actually doin' something today.

Starting with folding laundry, the dryer having just buzzed at me. Later!

Monday, June 07, 2010

What To Do Next Weekend

Do you like airplanes? The Indianapolis Air Show is next weekend! One of the biggest around, pretty much everything from hot air balloons and ultralights to a B-2 fly-by. (Among the better-known planes to be found there, a B-25, a B-17 and a gorgeous P-51). Check it out!

Gun Show P.S.

...I would be remiss, not to mention uncharacteristically modest, if I failed to mention the gentleman who walked up to me at the gun show, asking, "Miss? Miss? Would you be Roberta X?"

Fingers crossed that he wasn't a process server, I admitted as much.

"I just wanted to tell you I'm a fan!"

Made my day, it did.


Blogger's back. For now, anyway.

...Pardon me if I am a little bummed; it's not like I'm payin' 'em for it. Mainly, I have been in bed sick all day: the room does not seem to want to stop spinning.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Is That A Little Giant On My Television?

It's Top Shot. You better go watch. History Channel to-night, 10/9 Central.

Um, Hullo? Plus, Gun Show Report

...Woke up with a world-class migraine today, which seems hardly fair. (Perhaps I should write the DNC and/or Congress?) 'Tis the weather, I believe -- for instance, the wobbling 30mph-average breeze that greeted sunrise, fraying flags at the minor-league ballpark downtown. (I saw it on TellyVision, so it must be for true).

The Data Viking visited yesterday and we joined Tam and Shootin' Buddy at the gun show. He was in search of mags for an obscure rifle -- and found them, too, at a price that made me feel faint.

Not only is the ammo drought over, a number of the smaller firms are becoming more of a presence; Indiana's own Precision Cartridge and Acme Ammunition were both well-represented with bounteous tables of shooty goodness (both had ample supplies of .380 at good prices, a huge relief to those of us who carry the small stuff and are light on range time with it).

I-shoulda-but-I-dinna': found a nice Colt Police Positive at $349 asked and foolishly passed it up. Given the prices normally wanted for wheelguns with ponies on them, that wasn't wise. --Why a revolver? Why a Colt? 'Tis simple: if you can master the long DA pull of a quality revolver, holdin' a semi-auto steady becomes all the easier; and a Colt 'cos if I have a Smith & Wesson, it'll get all mixed up with Tam's. Plus it creeps her out that the cylinder turns the opposite direction. --Mind you, if I could afford to feed a Webley (not, thank you, a .455 with a haircut for .45 ACP, as the latter runs higher chamber pressures than MoD spec'ed for), I would be seriously tempted.

Did buy: some ammo, T-shirts ("Got Bullets?" and "WARNING: contents may cause lead poisoning," the latter with appropriate graphics, six chances in the Friends of USMC raffle and a .22 magazine for my AR-15 conversion ('cos a scary black rifle that shoots a squirrel-and-gallery cartridge is kewl -- also affordable and darned practical, with the closest three ranges all lacking full-power-rifle facilities).

Afterwards, we all went out for Ethiopian food. If ever you get the chance, check it out. Distinctive, tasty -- and bring your best pair of hands. As the kindly folks at Abyssinia Restaurant explain,"'Injera' is placed on the plate with variety of dishes decoratively arranged around it. A small portion of 'Injera' is torn off and wrapped around a mouthful of the selected dish." So, you might ask, what's Injera? The link'll take you to Wikipedia, a good article with photos and even news of a locally-developed, highly efficient cooker for it; my personal description is that it's a delicious, soft, mild-sourdough bread of precisely the right strength for the job and a wonderful texture. It is like unto no other flatbread, anywhere. And the delights you're picking up with it--! Oh, my. Some things may remind you of Indian or even Tex-Mex but it's distinctive; generally familiar ingredients put together in tasty ways. (And the tea! Slightly smoky, with cardamom; not as overpowering as chai, very fine).

So, a very good day. And if I can just get this headache to subside, today'll be pretty good, too.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Tickets, Please! Azuza, Caneveral And Low Earth Orbit!

PDB points us to coverage of the very successful SpaceX Falcon launch. Congratulations to SpaceX! This is their commercial-freight/passenger hauler, already lined up to carry the mail, fresh oranges and MREs (or whatever) to ISS as the Shuttle winds down.

Elsewhere, the Usual-type Ijits are criticizing; I especially enjoyed this exchange:
Commenter 1: Impressive debut performance, Falcon 9.

Commenter 2: Hmmm. Uh, no. As promised is more apt. Capital investors expect a return on their investments.‘Impressive’ would be appropriate if it delivered a higher v yield than promised.

Commenter 3: No, that would indicate a serious error in math.

Not to gossip but I was recently made aware (here) that Elon Musk, the principal of SpaceX and the Tesla Roadster, is in the middle of a middlin' ugly divorce. I dunno enough to take sides and might not even if I did (what, divorces need cheering sections composed of uninformed bystanders? I think not), but on a tech level, please note Ms. Ex-Musk-To-Be has included a Tesla in her list of What I Want From You. Me, I might hold out for passenger tickets on his other vehicle. OTOH, you can't commute in a rocket.

Mutually Hahaha's Mild Kingdom

MARLIN: (In a somewhat childlike voice): "Today on Mild Kingdom, baby ducks, hedgehogs and tiny little piglets. I was talking during naptime, so I have to stay here in the van, while Jimmy plays with the fuzzy ducklings down at the pond..."

JIM: (infectiously happy giggling)

* * *
Sure, you might find it a little dull -- but it's about as much excitement as most British coppers can stand. It now looks like they were "in pursuit" as the Cumbria idiot shot his final victims. Why protect and serve when you can follow from a safe distance and write it all down after? Sheesh.

* * *
MARLIN: "Next week, brand-new kittens and a baby giraffe you can feed with a real bottle!"

Indy 1500

...Only had time to see half the show: there was a line across the parking lot and half the width of the building. On a Friday afternoon. Twenty-some minutes after the opening time.

Pretty impressive.

There was plenty of ammunition available and prices have even fallen a little.

Also, why does the guy with a tableful of Nazi T-shirts and banners even bother? He was getting the usual It Is Repulsive And Radioactive treatment: people would see nifty drawing of tanks on T-shirts from a distance, get closer an' realize they alllll had busted crosses or doofy lightning bolt runes on them, and veer off in revulsion. The right to free speech does not, as it happens, include any guarantee of an appreciative audience. Heh.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Burning Fiddles Whilst I Roam

Or summat like. See, here's the deal: I have been unduly distractable all week, often with almost-good excuses, like needin' to flood-rig the basement in a hurry, 'cos mucho rain was predicted; but, still....

So this ayem, bright an' early, I must be back at the dentist's (cleaning, checkup). I was careful to sked it well before work...and then work decided I need to fill in for an evening-shift technogeek who is on vacation that very same day. This would be leaving a large hole in the middle of my day, which is not such a bad thing when looked at in the proper light.

If I play my cards right, don't dawdle and the weather holds, I can ride my bike to the dentist's and still be home in plenty of time for A Fine Breakfast, possibly not even havin' to cook for myself, and a quick trip by the Indy 1500. (Two best times to attend: Day One when the gates open and the last half of Day Three. You see all the kewl stuff at the start and look for bargains at the end).

To do all that -- and maybe drop off my car to be looked at, too, as it is currently suffering from Disturbing Hyundai Accent Scraping Noise Syndrome, almost certainly the rear brakes -- I need to get up and just leap into the shower, pausing only for coffee.

That means this little message is pre-recorded. See ya after the dentist's done!

Update: Dentist gives me a clean bill of health. My ride up was more than merely brisk -- 15 mph, uphill! I was doing over 18 on the way back. Pretty sure I reached my target heart rate.

On to the gun show next.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

When Sauce For The Goose Is On The Other Foot...?

So Wolf Blitzer sits down with Mexico's President Calderon -- no, wait, it's not a joke. Despite having a punchline:

BLITZER: Immigration is not a crime, you're saying?

CALDERON: It's not a crime.

BLITZER: So in other words, if somebody sneaks in from Nicaragua or some other country in Central America, through the southern border of Mexico, they wind up in Mexico, they can go get a job...


BLITZER: They can work.

CALDERON: If -- if somebody do that without permission, we send back -- we send back them.

BLITZER: You find them and you send them back?

[...caveats, equivocation and hand-waving follow...].

H'mmm. So if Arizona did everything State law mandates doing -- which doesn't include random stops for lookin' illegal, by the way, you need to be jaywalking, moping with intent or running down little old ladies in a flatbed truck with no plates (etc.) before they can ask -- and simply didn't call it a crime, that'd be okay with our good, good pal Presidente Calderon, who treats his excess population like Dennis the Menace, with our border states in the Mr. Wilson role. Suuuuure it would.

Y'know, when you've lost Ed Koch (to whose article the linked quote will lead you), you're losin' a big chunk right there in the more-or-less middle of the political dial with him.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Here's a tip: carpenter's braces (as in the sort that hold bits, not the kind that hold his dungarees up) come in various sizes, with the radius from chuck to handle being the pertinent datum. Twice that distance gives us the diameter of the circle it describes, known as "swing." The single most common radius is 5" (10" swing). Nifty little 3"-radius versions are not uncommon and for more torque, they made 12"-swing braces.

Made. Y'can't get 'em new. 'Sa pity, 'cos the extra leverage makes up for, say, a lack of upper-body strength

Naturally, this means every single old-tool seller on eBay (and most other places) not only fails to give the dimension, they don't bother to put anything in the photo to give you any idea of scale, either.

I guess the darned things are merely decorative for most folks.

...But why this post is here is another decorative eediot, Indiana's very own Honorable Andre Carson, Muslim Congressthing, who is now frothing at the mouth over the Israeli naval raid that stopped blockade runners. Gee, Mr. Congressbeing, let's see: the Israelis said what they'd do; they provided an alternative and even promised to send any humanitarian-type aid on to the intended recipients. ...Interestingly, the Israelis are reporting some of the blockade-running "activists" they've laid hold of are carrying weapons and large amounts of cash. H'mmm. Sure seems to me that somebody's Big Picture is lacking any sense of scale.... But then again, Congresscritters are merely decoration, right? ...Right...?


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

I Can Has Surface Mount Electronics?

(It's goin' here 'cos it is state-of-the art. If I come up with vintage-type packaging, the finished item will be featured at Retrotechnologist).

At the Dayton Hamvention, I picked up a little kit, a "digital dial" frequency display for receivers, transcievers or transmitters. It was tiny, not terribly expensive and looked like fun.

Took a closer look at it when I got home and -- oh, horrors! -- it was mostly teeny-tiny surface-mount parts.

But why not try? Sunday afternoon, I took a deep breath, got out my second-smallest soldering iron* and the good solder, and set to. I ended up using a mechanical pencil to hold the parts in place, which makes it a three-handed operation. Next time, I'll try eutectic solder (63/37, it melts superfast), as even the small-gauge silver-bearing stuff tends to be overly gummy, and wanted to carry parts away on the soldering iron tip:

The working side.

Scale? The holes in the corners are about 1/8" diameter. The leads on the ICs are on 0.05" centers. On my monitor, the full-size image is about twice life-size.

The solder is kind of globby, I need to deflux it and some of the parts are a bit askew -- but it works!
* I own (but cannot find) a miniature Wahl/Iso-Tip, one of the best, tiniest controlled-temperature soldering irons ever made. Unlike all other Iso-Tips, it's not cordless. They're not made any more; I don't think even Wahl remembers them.