Thursday, June 30, 2011

Eyeglasses And Frustration

So, my new (newish) glasses fell apart last night, at a weld or braze that I had unintentionally weakened last week, trying to adjust the fit. Woke up in the middle of the night, just picked them up and one leg of the bridge came off the lens ring. Doesn't look like it was ever much of a connection.

...So I'm off to the basement to take them apart, apply Tix flux, and hard-solder them back together. But I may order another set of frames as a backup.

Later: A modicum of success! We'll see how long it lasts -- I need about 36 hours, if the replacement frames arrive on schedule.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Warnings For Medication They Don't Make

Lycanophage: "Warning: while this medicine suppresses the outward signs of lycanthropy, it does not cure the disease. In most cases, minor skeletal deformities, especially in finger length, are permanent. Suddenly stopping this medication can lead to howling, hirsutism/hyperpilosity and hyperactivity. Lycanophage must be a part of a complete treatment plan from your doctor. In clinical tests, some patients suffered headache, twitching, excessive fingernail growth and a desire to rip out the researchers throats. Patients must avoid using or handling silver, due to a probable severe allergic reaction."

Antivampin: "Caution! Medication will reduce but not eliminate photophobia and and extreme susceptibility to sunburn. Mirror-impairment is not consistently controlled, even after long-term use. Many patients suffered a rapid return to normal aging, which has been known to cause death in a small number of cases. You will continue to require hemoglobin supplements in your regular diet. If you suffer unusual tooth growth, sudden urges to bite people on the neck and drink their blood, see your doctor immediately. Some patients appear to have developed adverse reactions to garlic and certain religious symbols. Some studies show a slight increase in accident involving wooden stakes. If you cannot afford Antivampin due to being thousands of years old and lacking the documentation necessary to secure employment or public assistance, Azathoth-VanHelsing may be able to help. "

Haitianbinlurchin: "Persons undergoing treatment must be confined away from others for at least 24 hours after their first dose and may remain carriers for up to 48 hours. This medication does not treat kuru or other diseases transmitted by the consumption of human brains. Note that any other injuries caused during the course of this disease -- loss of extremities or limbs, sloughed flesh, etc. -- will require separate treatment. Relapse, while unlikely, has been known to occur and should be considered life-threatening, especially for persons in close proximity to the patient. Some patients experience migraine headache."

Def-Con Yeti Bait: "Keep away from children. Place in secluded places where Yeti signs have been observed. If infestation is severe or prolonged, contact a professional exterminator. Do not allow pets to consume dead Yetis."

5M Elfbane Spikes: "Install around perimeter of house. Results improved if a saucer of milk is left nightly outside the line of 5M Elfbane Spikes. Do not use for goblins, orcs or kobalds; 5M is not responsible for any damage to persons or property resulting from such misuse of product."

Underbedscare Butylmelamine (homeopathic formulation): "For best results,, take one hour before bedtime. May require 3 - 4 nights to begin effect. Monsters under bed and in closet will disappear within one week. These claims have not been evaluated by the FDA or FDIC."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


...I find myself amused by the reaction to the state of New York recognizing gay marriage; while predictable, it's also instructive. Most people -- yes, even anarcho-capitalists and libertarians -- go with what they're comfortable with rather than what's Constitutional or logical.

This includes the beneficiaries of the new law, seen celebrating in the streets of NYC as though WW II had just ended.* It's pretty difficult to believe that city was especially hostile turf -- or that accepting same-sex marriage applications (and presumably recognizing such unions from the other states and nations that perform them) has made the population of NY and NYC any more accepting than it was before the law passed. Given the general state of heterosexual marriage (vs. living together or friends-with-benefits relationships and in light of the divorce rate), it's difficult to see this as more than incremental. It was nice to see that nobody -- police or celebrant -- tried to replay the Stonewall Riots.

The "it's what I'm used to" crowd also includes the same forces, pro and anti, that argue for or against state's rights on, say, firearms and the opposite way on this issue. Pick a side and stick with it!

Indiana has a law against such marriages; I don't approve of the State's meddling in wedlock (other than treating it the same as any other sort of contract) but the law was passed by the Legislature fair and square and when the time comes, it can be removed just as Jim Crow and eugenics laws were. On the other hand, there's a push on to make same-sex marriages even illegaler, by putting it in the State constitution. This makes it a lot more difficult to adjust and ought to be repugnant to anyone with half a brain; using the State constitution to label any group of law-abiding citizens as having fewer rights than others is and has always been a bad idea.

My favorite bit of paranoia is the assertion that this is all a plot to destroy the churches. In New York (and elsewhere), they specifically exempted churches from being required to solemnize unions at odds with their beliefs; but this has been the fact for as long as the United States have existed. There are a good many religions that won't even marry a couple of their own oppositely-sexed parishioners unless the arrangement's been approved by one of their clerics and as far as the courts are concerned, that's hunky-dory; they can always get someone else to do the job. (Know who can marry you in Indiana? --Anyone[2] you think is qualified; the State issues you the license and as long as it comes back with signatures on it, the deed is done.) --But say it is a plot: cui bono? There's some cult of Cybele lurking in the wings to take over? (Good luck with that. Chick tracts notwithstanding, most people stay with the faith of their parents or that of their spouse).

Now, if New York would only put the same kind of effort into reforming their firearms law. Hey, I know -- they could start with that "full faith and credence" clause and recognize my License To Carry Handgun the same way they'll recognize the marriage of a gay couple from Iowa or New Hampshire.

...I'm waiting....
1. Although the Marylin Monroe impersonator who was front-and-center in one network's footage had somehow not managed to find a sailor to smooch. I guess that calls for a nurse's uniform, really.

2. Any legal adult, that is.

Monday, June 27, 2011

June BlogMeet

A small turnout but a good time: Kerry, The Jack, Shermlock & Mrs. Shomes, Tam and Yr. Crrspndt.

A couple of pork crepes ("delicious," Tam reports), a tender hanger steak and -- of course -- plenty of Brugge's signature frites ("French" fries, if you must) with selections from their dozen-plus list of things-to-dip-them-in.Discussion ranged from grilling to senators (ijits), what's wrong with the world (senators) and how to fix it (elections, trees, rope, in-depth reporting, some of the above), with delightful excursions into matters of more pressing interest, like Shermlock's hibiscus-and-white Hawaiian shirt, made by Mrs. Shomes (who is, as I have remarked in the past, extraordinarily gifted that way).

I snapped a photo of Tam by accident, very high-contrast and arty, which she feels is from an unflattering angle, so I shan't post it. But it was way better than anything I'd've set out to do, which just goes to show.

I Shouldn't Drink

...Alcohol. I had one (1) Strongbow cider -- admittedly, a tall, tall can -- and enjoyed a nice little buzz through the BlogMeet. All faded by the time I bicycled home....where I laid down and fell asleep for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Could not keep my eyes open.

Lost half the day! So I'm thinkin' about goin' Temperance.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Why, yes: I've overslept again. And I'm proud of it. At least it's a feat I can accomplish consistently.

...It's a morning of aches and pains here at Roseholme, probably thanks to the damp. Yesterday was better but s...l...o...w.

However, I just aided in the coining of a word, which heralds an improving trend to the day, doesn't it?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Clever Canadians Fix Junk Mail Problem!

Why didn't anyone tell me? Postal workers in Canada started "rolling strikes" on 2 June; ten days later, Canada Post responded by lockin' 'em out. (The postal workers are citing safety and a scheme under which new hires get significantly less pay and benefits; this, IMO, is a Canadian issue on which my opinion is entirely irrelevant).

That seems to be the status quo to date; the Canadian Federal government has been making back-to-work sounds but doesn't look to have got anything far enough along to resolve matters. (See above).

--One source claims that pension and assistance cheques are being processed; but past that, it would seem not a wheel is turning in the vast nation's entire mail service. If you want to hear from great-aunt Tillie, it's the phone or the 'net. (Unless she's got an amateur radio license).

Labor issues aside (see "knot, Gordian"), this means one unexpected wonderful thing: an entire modern nation, our friendly neighbors to the North, have freed themselves from the scourge of junk mail!

Congratulatuions, Canadians. This is a painful step but some nation had to have the courage to go first.


'Pears The Supersonic Reflectoscope blog is gone, gone gone. Ave, Jim.



On the other hand, I really needed the sleep; with one thing and another, I didn't get to sleep until well after 2:00 this morning.

Friday, June 24, 2011

June BlogMeet

Yes, there will be an Indy BlogMeet this Sunday at 3:00 pm at Brugge. On the patio if at all possible; order early, as they are usually busy.

I'd like to do a BlogShoot but as it happens, Eagle Creek is hosting a Glock competition this weekend! Marion County Fish and Game is open for members Sunday -- and this Saturday, from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, they're having open-to-all Bowling Pin competition, which IMO is about as much easy fun as you can have in organized shooting.

Limited Time Only!

With the coming of warm weather, the Monon Trial is getting a lot of use, some of it by goblins.

H'mm. Guess the criminally-inclined figure they'd better strike now -- 'cos after the first of July, the city prohibition on handgun license-holders carrying in parks gets pre-empted.

(Other changes in Indiana gun laws are already causing official police bedwetting. Dang, wait'll they get to the part about parks!)

Two notes, readers; no, make that three:
1. The trail is officially closed when it is dark. It is not lit. Use at own risk and remember, if crooks don't rob you, the city will ticket and fine you, pretty much robbery with a receipt.
2. Situational awareness! Yes, even at high noon. A park (linear or otherwise) is not your living room.
3. "Always be sure of your target and what is behind it." The trail runs next to people's back yards, okay?

We May've Dodged A Bomb

Sidebar to my earlier link to Tallini Tales Of (nitrogycerine) Destruction: the sole remaining U.S. manufacturer of the stuff is (looks like it's "was") located in Joplin, Missouri. Y'know, the place tornadoes tried to blow over recently and nearly succeeded?

Could've been loud.

The Wide Universe Of Sports

Fans of Doctor Who may find this screen-capture of interest:Who knew Daleks followed hockey? --I guess it might explain the riots.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"So, Aunt Bobbi, What's A Newspaper?"

Our (formerly) local paper, the Indianapolis Star, continues to staff-slash its way to profitable irrelevance acceptable loss/service ratio inevitable, unstaffed collapse.

The newsroom was already a ghost town five years ago, the last time I saw the place. It's only gotten worse. Earlier this week, the Thing Formerly Known As "The Paper" (previously, "The Morning Paper") announced 81 positions were eliminated, pow, 62 by layoff and the remainder by not filling open slots -- and most of them were not "assistant janitor" or even "junior copyboy."

Y'know those "layers of editorial oversight" that sometimes fall down pretty badly on things techy and/or gunny? You're about to find out what errors they were catching; the Star's eliminated copy editors. --And still the sneering continues from the deck of the sinking ship: money quote, from a purported newspaperperson in comments: "'...copy editors' (that last line of defense which separates us from the animals in the blogosphere)." Um, dood? Your bosses don't care.

Long-time local print media veteran Ruth Halliday* has more and more. And -- aw, just go there and scroll back; it's fascinating and horrible in a kind of slow-motion train wreck way.

Over at Retrotechnologist, on the sidebar I bemoan visiting the newspaper building when they were hacking out the old presses and carting them away as scrap. They'd built a nice, modern, high-speed, full-color printing plant up across the city/county line, ditched a lot of the older pressmen and the building was never, ever going to rumble and shake to the sound of NEWS! It was going to be gleaming, up-to-the-minute and clean. ...And sterile and dull.

They (or, more correctly, their corporate owners) ripped their own heart out; they stepped way, way back from their product and never embraced the new forms (old-media websites almost uniformly suck and newspaper websites tend to suck worst of all); and what did they have left? How could they compete? Sure, taking the presses far, far away was just a symptom (and what the Star was running were, frankly, relics); but I think the same spirit that would've kept 'em close, no matter how awkward, would've worked to keep the paper afloat by coming up with product people would want to read, instead of subscribing out of habit and to have something to wrap garbage in.

They called me after I let the newspaper subscription here at Roseholme lapse and wanted to know why. "My cat died," I told them.

"How's that?"

"See, she would only pee on newsprint, and your paper was cheaper than buying it at the art-supply store--"

"But-- Culture! Sports! Weather! Current events! ...The funny pages. Er, page!"

"Mister, did you ever hear of a thing called the World Wide Web?"

I wish we had a paper that offered in-depth reporting and interesting editorials, that sent reporters and photographers to places no one else would or could go; even near the last, they ran a good series on Indiana's abuses of Asset Forfeiture that was worth reading. But those days are gone, Gannetted quietly to death--. Oh, it's "garroted," isn't it? I keep getting those two confused.

They only had one unique product to offer, in-depth, dependable local news and info, and they're giving up on it.

Will the last newsroom employee out please unplug the coffeepot and turn off the lights? And -- oh, yeah -- us animals would like to welcome you to our jungle.
*Lookie here, Ruth's politics and mine diverge sharply on a number of issues and we're probably both too sentimental about oldstream media; but she's an honest, old-school reporter and strings words together better'n most. And you'll note what her response was, when jettisioned by a panicking media dinosaur: she got herself a blog.

I Work On A Starship: A New Chapter!

To wit:
At the first intersection (I looked it up — Set Street, of course), a tiny car sidled up to curb directly in his path. The passenger door popped open as it stopped and the driver said, "Get in!"

Dave said something conversational about this not being the kind of truck he expected but the driver merely repeated the command, expression unreadable behind huge, dark sunglasses — and pointed a gun at him. He did as he was told

Read the rest of Chapter 11 at I Work On A Starship.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

You're Goin' To The Chapel, Gonna Get Married...

...But not in a lot of U. S. States if you happen to be gay first cousins: Sabra deconstructs a wrong graphic and substitutes her own with accurate data.

(Quick read: first cousins have an easier time of it, which I don't think will surprise anyone on any side of the debate. --I do wonder how that plays if cousins marry in a state where it is legal and then move to one where it isn't? Or is it like standing on the Hoosier side of the IN/IL border holding a gun: you're a felon if you take one step but better not to test it.)

A point most gunnies already know: when you're addressing hot-button issues, get the facts right. Your opponents will still argue what they mean (or that facts are irrelevant) but you've got the high ground.

The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril

It's Paul Malmont's first novel. It's-- It's both familiar and unlike anything I've read.

H'mm. First off, The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril is the good stuff, a rousing and well-written adventure/mystery with interesting protagonists. Second, if you like the pulps, it's as fraught with terror and triumph as any of 'em. And the heroes are a bunch of people you may already know: pulp writers, from Doc Smith to H. P. Lovecraft, not to mention a medically-retired USN officer and a few others you might recognize. At the heart of it, Walter Gibson (who wrote The Shadow) and Lester Dent, the man behind Doc Savage. (Norma Dent, too, and about time). Most of the minor characters are writers, too; I'm not sure I recognized them all, though trying is part of the fun.

Malmont has done his homework and they all ring pretty true to their real-life counterparts; he's done his homework in other ways, too, as he hews fairly close to Dent's "Master Plot" and generally eschews anachronism.

...And it's a splendid book! It would have been terribly easy for him to slide off into a purple pastiche on one side or a dusty bit of in-group scholarship on the other, but instead he drives straight and true for mystery and adventure. If you don't know Thurston the Great or "Otis Drftwood" from the middle of next week, don't fret; you're still in for a heck of a ride.

(He's written another in similar vein, The Astounding, the Amazing and the Unknown. Must read!)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

For Geeks, Proto-Geeks And Those Who Like Explosions offers up a nice webpage introduction to choosing a Volt-Ohm Meter/Digital Multimeter...and another set of pages, The Tallini Tales of Destruction, all about the historical use of nitroglycerin to "shoot" oil wells. Um, what could possibly go wrong...?

"The Company deserves great credit for the energy displayed by them in the erection of their extensive Factory, so soon after it had been demonstrated that nitroglycerine could not be shipped with safety by rail."


In case you were wondering, there are exactly two companies left in that line of work. Sometimes, it seems, you've still got to lower a torpedo.

Fukushima, Nebraska

The Ft. Calhoun (shut down for the duration, with plenty of backup power) and Cooper (percolating away, per the latest news I can find) nuclear power plants in Nebraska are surrounded by floodwater; or, more precisely, surrounded by barriers surrounded by floodwater.

So far, so good; it's an illustration of the difference between a (comparatively) slow, low flood and a tidal wave.

...Not that it's stopped the ninnies from nattering: Eeewwwwww, doom! (Fnord fnord fnord.)

One thing you can say for sure about atomic power: it has given us FUD too cheap to meter.


Recently read:

Vernor Vinge's The Peace War. Interesting idea, sympathetic characters, still reads a little like the middle book of a trilogy. I recommend it nevertheless, an After The Bomb book without any The Bomb.

The Wind's Twelve Quarter's, Ursula K. LeGuin, retrospective collection of short fiction; granted that her politics and philosophy aren't mine, she's a good writer with a wonderful imagination; and I have to give her a lot of credit for dreaming up her "perfect" anarchy, spotting (some of) the flaws and using them to drive a story (in The Dispossessed). Collection ends with The Day Before The Revolution, an afternoon spent with one of the primary drivers of the events the give rise to the circumstances of the formentioned novel and a very fine yarn.

Escape From Loki, Philip Jose Farmer's Doc Savage pre-origin novel. He captured much of Lester Dent's tone and style, though two inconsistencies are the slightly overdescribed ardor of young Doc for a beautiful (and, of course, evil) Russian countess and the use of a "shortwave radio" in WW I: ummm, nope. (Dent, a ham operator and fascinated by the history of invention, wouldn't've made the second error; as for the first, why, Street & Smith policy did not permit such luridness in a science/adventure pulp). Quite good otherwise and shows Farmer's accurate grasp of the personalities.

I'm in the middle of another "modern pulp," this one featuring many pulp writers as characters; report to follow.

Monday, June 20, 2011


TVA decides they should look into little reactors for power generation: compact, modern designs with better safety. An article about it -- a spiffed-up press release -- gets posted over t'Huffington....and the Huffies go mad in comments. "Ewww, noooooo!"

Then freeze in the dark, dammit, and let the rest of us get on with it.

Elsewhere, a bunch of greenpeacers clumb a smokestack in IL and put up an itty-bitty sign that says "QUIT COAL." (They also started to spray-paint the message on the stack, petrochemicals an' ozone-eating propellent an' all, planet-saving coming in second to agitprop.) Another lot decided to rappel off a bridge in the path of a coal barge (sadly, not that close. Um, you do realize barges haven't got brakes, as such). All are now facing felony charges (the latter group also looking at charges for "Performing an aerial exhibition without a net." That'll go on your permanent record, kids). 'Sa pity they can't serve time in a facility without electrical power, all natural. Have another quilt, kid! Sure is a cold winter....

These people won't be happy until we're all locked in, freezing in the dark without any of Mr. Tesla's juice.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I Aten't Ded

...Just Wiki-wandering. Here, put 'em together:

-Simon Stevin (the Dutch as Ur-Atlanteans? Rilly? Otherwise superkewl and he could be right -- the celphone that doesn't do anything (except be a phone) is a Dutch development.)

- Stainless steel. (And Hoosier homeboy Elwood P. Haynes! "Success has a thousand fathers" and stainless steel is certainly a success.)

- Vernor Vinge (Dude, why's there a bent bobble in Chicago?)

- Impossible figures

- The MASER (Oooooo! Aaaahhhh!)

...And that leaves us (or me, anyway) stuck on the far side of Jump space, where Littlest Cat has been still-framed for two and a half days, investigating gravity aboard Spirit of Skiddoo in the first para. of yarn that I haven't even attempted to get chugging. Gravity-check is always the job of the Littlest Cat, you know; since most non-equipment surfaces are padded (those Bells bounce) and most small shipboard objects are mildly velcrotic, ship's cats get into the habit of hanging on...and gently batting at things to see if they'll fall (fun) or be set adrift (more fun!). I'm pretty sure the cat's real name is Sufficient Onion and it's in the ship's Engineer's bunkroom. If that helps.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Sun Never Used To Set On 'Em

I quote:
We still send imperial based tools all over the world,there are still old DeHavilland bi planes flying in New Zealand and Australia,we've sent whitworth and BA sockets or spanners to aviation museums from the UK to USA and railway engine enthusiasts from Darlington to Darjeeling.There are countless examples of British engineering over fifty years old still working or being lovingly restored in the most unlikely places.There once was a 'Great' Britain.
Need a Whitworth spanner? They've got 'em.

(Bumped into this site on a Wiki-wander on the topic of the standard threads for microphone stands. Here in the 'States [and mostly up Canada way], you'll find 5/8"-27 UNS; RCA was fond of 1/2" [or was it 3/4'?] water-pipe or conduit thread. The rest of the world, claims the mob-edited encyclopedia, is like as not to be using 1/4 or 3/8 BSW. Since those Whitworth threads are, except for thread profile and angle, twins to the selfsame size of SAE hardware [1/4-20 and 3/8-16], they seemed a little light to me. And what do the Russians use?)

This Just In: Nation Half-Ready For Obamacare

According to The Christian Science Monitor[1], some fifty percent of all Americans have already made their adjustment to the Federal invasion of healthcare: they're relying on prayer for healing.

Oh, all right, "consider the source;" I certainly don't have any moral right to stand in the way of someone succumbing to appendicitis or rheumatic fever according to the light of the their own religion (or, for that matter, not succumbing; these things weren't a hundred percent fatal before there were effective medical solutions and a postulated Thumb on the scales of fate couldn't hurt). But despite the editorialist's use of the statistic to fuel musings on the impiety of Government[2], I think it may be a little more something else: even now, if you get just a skosh into the paperwork and red tape that almost every interaction with Modern Medicine entails, you're liable to prefer trying simpler solutions; with the Feds driving, it'll only get worse.

Might as well pray. If nothing else, it's a more dignified death than drugged up an' stuffed fulla wires and tubes.

(I am NOT gonna debate the possible efficacy of prayer in healing in comments; start it up and you'll be deleted without mercy. If it works, how it works, that is between you and your $DEITY; it's not the point of this screed. I don't consider it worthy of debate; not because I think it is trivial but because it is a question that, if answered, could easily be used to infringe on the individual freedom of religious belief: when you debate it, you are actually arguing for the right to "prove" your religion and go Convert The Heathen by main force. Do that on your own time, dammit; I am a heathen and I shoot back). _____________________________________________
1. And I guess we should all be grateful someone is monitoring it.
2. In my opinion, it's not nearly impious enough; indeed, whenever any set of beliefs ceases to be questioned and becomes Received Wisdom, the Feds ought to be banned from involvement: lock 'em outta Hinduism an' Global Warming, out of Scient010gy and Protestantism, out of Cold Fusion an' UFOlogy, every last thing, no matter how obscure or widely believed, no matter how much or how little history it's got, if it even smells like religion, Uncle Sam should have to set it down and move slowly away. --Yeah, dream on; we otta all get shiny unicorns to ride, too. Or at least a mule and some land. Don't hold your breath.

That Was Refreshing (Also, Moooozik)

Went to bed at, like, 10 pm. Woke up about fifteen minutes ago. I needed that.

Culture mavens will be pleased (???) to know that Weird Al has already written and performed the song "Polka Face." Oh yeah. (The pun seems to be irresistible -- prefer the original, retracked as a polka? Okay.)

I suppose crawling back in bed and pulling the covers over my head won't help, will it?

Friday, June 17, 2011

June BlogMeet!

Halp! Need suggestions.

Looks like 26 June will be our weekend, but the place...? It should be the right kind of weather for the patio at Brugge and I do have a hankerin' for Belgian steak.


Ow ow. Ow ow ow. Ow.

All the lights are too bright and sounds are too loud. Sharp sounds have a dull echo. I suspect some kind of alien is going to come bursting out through my left-side sinuses any minute.

Either that or it's a migraine.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Most Transparent Administration Evar

Except not.

Yeah, I know Mr. the President Obama's presented-in-secret transparency award made the chuckling rounds of our corner of the blogosphere awhile back already; this latest complaint, however, comes from his own pet Left* (as appears to increasingly be the case): one D. Ellsberg, et al, in the frikkin' Guardian.

Think he'll listen?

* Y'know, in a number of ways, I'd be way nicer to the Left if their leaders lived up to their own hyperbole when elected. If, instead of or in addition to merely tellin' me they were gonna End The War (whichever The War happens to be on at the time) an' conduct the Affairs of State in the Clear, Clean Light of Day sans all skulking and skullduggery, eternally eschewing the cloak, the dagger and even fibbing, they actually went and did it, they would find no greater cheerleader than me. But the reality is, all their sneers at their GOPposition's use of sneaking appear to be in reality over the way the Right is not very good at getting away with it. And that's just sad. I'm sure I'll get one of those "But Teh Gummint has just got to have sekrets!" lectures. I'm not so sure that's true; it might inhibit the foreign adventuring but I see that as more of a feature than a problem.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Soft Drink Surprise

Came home last night to be told, "Ron sent you something."

So I'm runnin' through every "Ron" I know (three), trying to figure which one would have have done that, when Tam names the one I had not considered, "Ron at Locally Grown Gardens!"

H'mm, he's a first-rate guy but I try to spend money at his place, figuring if we all do that, he'll stay in business: when you have (within an easy bicycle ride!) a farm market that also serves wonderful prepared food, owned and operated by a genius chef, that's something you want to support.

One of his sidelines -- along with eggs, butter and a selection of remarkable spices, flavorings and condiments that can be found nowhere else -- is soft drinks. Soda pop: a huge selection, all of it good, most of it obscure or brands I'd thought forever gone. One of the very best of the relatively unknown brands is Fentiman's, a British marque over a hundred years old. Their sodas are "botanically brewed," and they are slightly more fanatical about purity of the ingredients than a German brewer; with their preference for very old recipes, the result is a unique line of soft drinks that appeal to adult palates. When the first couple of flavores showed up at Locally Grown Gardens, I was moved to go online and learned there were many more, including Victorian Lemonade and Dandelion and Burdock soda. I happened to mention this to Ron and next I knew-- He'd stocked the entire range!

Dandelion and Burdock is particularly good. It tastes like summer; it tastes like what Bradbury describes in Dandelion Wine (IIRC). But they've come out with another one, so new you can't find it on the North American site yet: Rose Lemonade!

And Ron, knowing my tastes possibly better than I do, made sure to send home a couple of bottles with Tam when she stopped by to pick up some vegetable starts for the garden here at Roseholme Cottage.

...Words do not describe the floral, lemony and pleasantly tart taste, with a hint of ginger under the rose petals. The very thing after a long day!

We will be buying more.

Overheard Instigated In The Home Office

RX (Reading aloud): "Says here the new 'Duke Nukem' game is a 'a festering irrelevance...that could only endear itself to the sociopathic and mentally maladjusted.'"

Tam: "I'm there!"

Me, I am not so much a gamer, having been Baskin-Robbinsed right out of it back when I was a wee tiny critter and spent most of a weekend playing "Star Trek" on some horrible primitive mainframe machine. (That was the version with the torus-shaped universe, thanks to some programmer's glitch, not that any of us knew at the time, this being before there were graphics or even color). But even I know reviews as negative as the ones linked above constitute a kind of seal of approval for many gamers.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

And You Didn't Even Bake It A Cake

Neither did I.

Show of hands -- how many of you remembered today was Flag Day? And not just any, either: It's the sesquicentennial.


(N.B.: I have not flown the Stars and Stripes since the invasion of Iraq; I'm sure I'll be criticized for that [Tam does] but one ambitious tinpot dictator more or less didn't seem worth the U.S. being the aggressor then and it still doesn't now. Am I glad he's gone? Sure. But I'd rather his own people had strung him up from a lamp-post. As for flags, I started flying the Gadsden flag back then; these days, that symbol's been preempted right out from under me but that's okay.)

Republican Debate (Not With One Another)

Well, it was called a debate. More like the Miss America competition -- and the media have already decided Mr. Romney (RINO governor of some East coast hellhole) is the the pretty one. (See?) The first linked article is chuckleworthy in many ways, not least when it sets R0n P4ul on the "fringe" for bringing up way-out topics "like 'Keynesian bubble' and 'monetary policy.'" OMG. Yeah, what would any understanding of the causes of the ever-deepening (mustn't call it a depression) recession do us...?

Ah, J-School Barbie, forever whining, "Math is hard. Economics is hard. History is impossible." Staring at quick and easy histograms and playing an iPod while Western Civ. burns. But flash 'em a Weiner and they're after it like ducks spotting a June bug!

I don't think there was a clear winner in the GOP debate but I know who lost and it wasn't anyone on the stage. It wasn't any office-holder or journalist, either: it was you and me.

Just like always.

Monday, June 13, 2011

In Memoriam

It was unexpected. One of my long-term co-workers, well-liked, good at his job, passed away over the weekend. He was a friend and though it is trite to say, I will miss him and so will everyone else at work.

Schedules had been rearranged and set for weeks in advance, because he was going in for minor surgery -- minor, but it would have kept him off work for well over a month. Something went wrong afterward (we've all signed the release. It's not unknown but it is rare).

He leaves behind a loving family -- wife, children, grandchildren -- and many friends. In a high-pressure business, he brought a kind of steady levelheadedness that is in short supply, calmly dealing with the frequent emergencies and ready for whatever came next.

He was, in short, a good man. He leaves a legacy at work, not only a collection of SOPs that guide operators through all the routine crises but an attitude of dealing with people and events as they are. It is as fine a thing as anyone could hope to leave behind -- and makes for very big shoes to fill.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

ECPR: Range Report Under New Management

Management is new but there were familiar faces among the ROs and we were happy to see them.

Sign-in is more obvious than old system, one stops at the card table and sunshade right at the demarcation between the parking lot and the range proper to pay or present one's pass.

Note, too that the building is open! Tactical Firearms Training was running a class; I didn't think to ask if this meant that, maybe, range customers might have access to modern plumbing if we asked nice but I have my hopes!
There are new range rules and an additional clearing barrel (at left in photo). IMO, the one to the right of the entrance to the brick training building is better-located, with thick walls on each side and set to point you away from, well, people and (most) property. --And you will be using one or the other, as that rule has not changed: no loaded firearms anywhere but at the firing line. --Most of the rules are essentially the same but everyone gets a refresher, their very own copy and signs for it on their first visit of the season.

The range itself is to the left of the photo, a large, concrete block structure hidden by the classroom trailer; if you look very closely near the truck and green dumpster, you'll see one of the entrance walls.

Inside it's pretty nice: two huge bays of 8 lanes each; the "far" bay is generally for classes or overflow, the "near" bay for plain ol' shooters. Targets are at the seven yard line; you can move them but I figure they should be far enough to make my mistakes show up and close enough that I can see those mistakes from the line.Tam and I set up near the entrance end. That's her "Zombie Terrorist" target, which sparked spirited discussion among onlookers if it was more apt or less apt in light of recent SEAL pest-control actions. The consensus seemed to be "more," with a minority holding out for adding gills and fishscales.Here are some of my toys -- yes, with Nagant revolver ammo prices down to only mildly painful ("Save that brass!"), I took it along. Y'know, for those people concerned they might shoot someone, the Nagant is about perfect: odds are pretty good you won't even if you wanted to. Still, if you can keep shots on paper with that long, hard, stack-y trigger pull, you can probably shoot adequately with any DA revolver. --I admit it, I gave up and did about half of 'em single-action, in which mode the Nagant is a soft-shooting revolver with a merely lousy trigger.

Also pictured, my overpolished-but-faithful .38SA 1911 and my Ruger Mk. II .22 with the Pac-Lite upper, both a pleasure to shoot.

It was a pleasant way to pass a morning. The Jack was shooting a few lanes down and after we'd all adjourned a couple hours later, joined us at India Palace for their lunch buffet. Delightful, as ever -- and if you have wanted to try Indian food, there is no better way. (First time? Try tandoori chicken, so good The Colonel would steal the recipe if he could. Cold chickpea salad, some naan and/or rice and there you are, a lunch even the most timid palate can enjoy) .

A splendid meal in nice surroundings, especially at the $10.00 per price! --India Palace and Shalimar are owned by Dave Samra and are very much a family business; the food is remarkable, the venue spotless, the service remarkable for both speed and unobtrusiveness.

We Ate Root Vegetables, Okay?

We ate 'em and we liked 'em: Breakfast at Roseholme today consisted of what's-in-the-fridge: a half-dozen slices of bacon, for starters, fried up and resting on a paper towel, followed by:

(Most of) a Rutabaga, in tiny cubes;

A Turnip, likewise;

Three New Potatoes, ditto.

Cook until starting to brown (sprinkle with Cajun seasoning if desired) and add

Sufficient Onion (this depends on the onion; the one I had was a mean, old one and it took less than a quarter);

One Large Carrot (diced)

One Poblano pepper (same)

Stir in, ponder, stir again and push to the sides; turn the heat up to High, grab a chopstick or wooden skewer and add

Egg. !?!?!!! Thought I had three but two were cracked and unhappy. So it goes.

Bacon is mixed back in, shredded, right before you turn off the fire. End result was better than it had any right to be; those who-buys-them root veggies fry up in flavorsome fashion. Season to taste -- we're using Tapatio hot sauce this time 'round and it works well.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hey, You Guys: I'm Goin' To The Range

Yep, off to the range! Today is the Grand Re (but first time this year) Opening of Eagle Creek Park Pistol Range.

Tempted to bring my slingshot and the blackpowder ball ammo for it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Classic Book Review

I do not read "classics" as a rule; I don't even read popular books. My literary tastes are more or less lowbrow, mostly Science Fiction and old pulps.

But Heinlein gives it a mildly left-handed recommendation* and, finding myself a bit stale on what I'd been reading, I looked for, found and have now read Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing Of The Dog).

It's a remarkable little book; a bit uneven but charmingly so, a comically mishap-laden vacation trip up the Thames leavened with the author's musings on history of the passing towns and islands. (It was supposed to be the other way 'round, but that's how things often go). Published in 1889, the style and tone are remarkably modern and if you admire P. J. O'Rourke's smooth snark, you'll find Jerome's a familiar voice. The setting is just about the peak of civilization in Britain (IMO), which may be food for thought.

As Wikipedia points out, all the pubs and inns are still around, and I believe most of the weirs and locks as well (to say nothing of the islands). With only a little ingenuity, one can recreate the entire river voyage on the 'net.

I should not have the least doubt the book can be had from Amazon, via the link at Tam's.
* In Have Space Suit -- Will Travel. No, the young hero's first name is not "Wire."

Dangerous Wildlife

The Feather Boa Constrictor: The most brightly colored of all snakes. Soft, too. Found in the dressing rooms of strip clubs, etc. Smells faintly of expensive perfume and stale cigarette smoke, with sweaty undertones. Deadly to its prey, which it strikes near closing time, when exhaustion and/or alcohol (etc.) leaves them most vulnerable.

N. B.: Dinner

Even a pie-sized chicken pot pie from the fancy corner market (nearly as good as scratch-made) can be improved if you quickly saute one each Poblano and Anaheim peppers (with a little sugar, wine vinegar and red pepper) and add them to the plateful of goodness. Vary to suit your taste.

(In other news, I skipped lunch today).

Me & Guns: How'd I Become A Gunnie?

A lot of the gunbloggers are doin' it. It's Jennifer's fault.

...I grew up in a house with guns, exactly two of them: a Remington 941 .22 (a very nice bolt-action rifle my Dad had bought used when he was a teenager) and a shotgun (Remington's 870 -- hey, he'd liked the rifle!).

When I was very young, The Guns were Do Not Touch items that lived in their cases at the back of the big closet; Dad kept the ammunition locked up in the master bedroom. About the time each of us kids were big enough, we each learned to shoot, starting with a toy BB gun and graduating to the .22 (adult supervision required!). We were fortunate in having a big old "bomb shelter"/tornado shelter in a berm in the back yard with a mile-plus of cornfield beyond and we still got my Dad's Socratic version of the Four Rules. Merely memorizing them wasn't a passing grade -- you had to demonstrate understanding of them in word and deed, starting with the BB gun.

A little older, a little bigger, each of us went deer hunting (a shotgun-only sport in Indiana) with Dad. To my knowledge, he only took two deer in all his married life, but he hunted them every year. With a child along, this took the form of tramping about in the woods, quiet advice as to how, where and why (and how to cross fences), and at the close of the day, a shot or three at a dead tree. Visiting one of the family friends about that time (a farmer in downstate Illinois, there's irony for ya) , I was handed a .22 revolver, a target and a box of ammo, directed to the farthest outbuilding and told, "Have fun!" Pity no one explained about sight alignment or that it was okay to use two hands: I genuinely could barely hit the side of a barn. (It was, to be fair, the narrow side).

And that was it. Guns were a non-issue in my house: you had 'em, you used them carefully, they were not given any more emotional weight than a BB gun or lawn darts, fun but to be handled with care.

Leap forward: as a young adult on my own, primed by Heinlein, I found L. Neil Smith and learned there are a lot of people with political notions similar to my own. Very kewl, but I still did't buy any guns. (Mind you, I have always carried a knife or two). I didn't know anyone who shot, I didn't know where one could shoot and all I knew about gun stores what what I saw on TV (D0n's Gun's ads and cop-show stereotypes; but I repeat myself). LNS's firearms philosophy made good sense to me but I didn't feel I could apply it in the real world.

The years passed. Eventually, one fine day my ex-to-be got in an online argument and used the "a firearm is like a fire extinguisher...." line. I pointed out we had neither an' he dug out a nice Colt Diamondback. So, ask I, why have we not shot it? --And let's pick up an extinguisher, too. (He had no idea I had ever shot and had automatically assumed I'd be anti. Yeah, should'a been a message to both of us there, hey?)

Lo and behold, there were places to shoot not far away, they even rented guns, and I wasn't half bad with some instruction. Within a year, I had a carry permit (pretty much needed to carry a gun even to the range in Indiana; our laws are good otherwise and that one's up for change), owned a firearm or two and shot regularly.

Things have developed from there; while Tam takes mild amusement at my collection of Spanish semi-autos (mostly Star, honestly-made little guns, IMO built to a price but built well for that price), my normal range fodder is a Ruger Mk II .22 and a pair of 1911s in .38SA and .45 (the latter a nice Sistema Colt with C&S lockwork).

I'm a gunnie. It's L. Neil Smith's fault but my Dad paved the way.

Thursday, June 09, 2011


See that? It's cabbage and kielbasa and it's for dinner as soon as I finish this post. With egg noodles cooked in chicken stock on the side!

Update: Not half bad, though next time I'll cook the cabbage -- bagged "coleslaw mix" -- about half as long. Maybe a minute or two at high-ish heat with red wine or cider vinegar and a dabba sugar, then add in the kielbasa for about as long, reduce heat, cover and ignore for 10 - 15 minutes.

Start for this was a couple slices of bacon, well-peppered; cook, set aside. Add some olive oil to the bacon fat, heat and add the cabbage with sliced onion. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar and enough tasty vinegar; stir 'round and add some garlic (Mrs. Dash -- I cheated), caraway seed, red pepper flakes, paprika and a dash of Worcestershire sauce -- seasoned salt if you like -- followed, in due course, by the kielbasa and there you are.

Blamed if I'll tell you how to cook noodles in chicken stock; you can pour sand out of a boot, right? ;)

Rat Overboard!

Y'know, when a Democrat President loses the Washington Post...well.

Beseems the Post has found a wee bit of fudging in Mr. Obama's rousing speech on his administration's salvation of the auto industry -- and they're citin' facts and figures.

When your spin is so blatant even you own side can't bring itself to remain quiet about it, it might be time to give it up. Why, heck, even The Wiener managed to do that much after he was taken to task.

The President, though? He's convinced his phonily-rosy claims of having stiffened Detroit's "recovery" with a diamond-shaped blue pill of no-cost assistance are Just Fine.*

Facts: why face them when you can just give a nice-sounding speech instead? It's the D.C. way.
* I have this vision of U.S. auto industry execs receiving spammy e-mail from the Feds: "MAKE your business LAST and LAST! Quicker RECOVERY! Customers will faint from PLEASURE!" Etc. And, of course, 2/3 of them actually bought into it.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Scratch Lunch

I found the ScratchTruck for lunch today. They had plenty food -- nearly a week of operation has helped them fine-tune how much to carry. "Modern mobile comfort food," their slogan sets the bar high--

[Drumroll, please]

--And they clear it easily! Quite a few items on the menu. (Click to embiggen.) I had the burger (good-tasting beef, flame-grilled, with Gorgonzola and bacon marmalade, on a nice Cibatta-esque bun), fries (skin on, twice-fried, excellent taste; not much salt and didn't need it) and their outstanding watermelon-jalapeno lemonade. The latter is refreshing and not at all hot; the peppers are only singing harmony.
Just a A few photos will follow. I was hungry, so I didn't snap many before digging in. Service was friendly and fast, especially for cooked-to-order food.

Scratch: food from a truck. First-rate food. Roberta X approved!

Just In Time

The Congressman Weiner idiocy has been unfolding in about the same span as my finding out Joanna Russ had passed away and as he has gone from flat denial (" internet hoax...I am the victim....") to tearful (bragging!) admission of chatting women up and sending icky piccies -- to many women, over several years -- to that last refuge of the sexist jerk, I-can't-help-it-the-little-Weiner-took-over-it's-just-too-easy-nowadays, I can only ask myself what she might've thought about the situation.

It's a generalization, but if any boy was gonna be foursquare for treatin' women as something other than toys, I'd've thunk a liberal Dem from the greater NYC area, married to a successful high-level political operative, would be the guy. (An' prolly humorlessly sincere about it, too -- but noooooo, he's a Grade A Clueless Tool. My new rule: whatever any Congressbeing presents itself as, it is instead the exact opposite. That would explain the drugged-up, sex-fiend, contemptuous of the common man spendthrifts we seem have elected, wouldn't it?)

I would've been wrong and not just a little; the tone, tenor and story arc of his reaction to being caught out has been straight out of a (supposedly) long-outdated playbook, right down to his winking undertone that it wasn't all that wrong, after all it was just (over18 but under 30!) girls. Frekkin' pig.*

Russ likely would've had something pointed and poignant to say and perhaps -- with the wisdom of age -- she would not have been much surprised. As it is, she got out just in time.

Gun culture, conservative as it is, has more than once been accused of sexism. Maybe it is; I doubt there's been a whole darned lot of consciousness-raising, at least not without well-deserved snickering, but speaking as a woman who shoots, I have never been treated as shabbily therein as Congressthing Weiner has treated his Twitettes. There's some sort of a moral in there but I'll leave it for the reader to winkle out.

Update: Carl B. offers his own take. Man's got a point; I'll point out that though it takes two to tango, it only takes one to stop the dance. Or is that his point?
* I don't mind the cheating-spouse aspect of this -- that's between him and the missus (I'll loan her a rolling pin or a cast-iron skillet if she's not had time to get one) -- nearly so much as his trivialization of it. Sheesh, Tony, get a pinup calendar or subscribe to a men's magazine: they're intended to be disposable media. Real women in real time are not toys and your offense was not the sending of the crotch shot, the flirting or the getting caught, it was when you confused "woman" with "candy bar," something sweet and forgettable to refresh your idle moments.
Come to think of it, that was my beef with Mr. the President Clinton, too.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Another Writer Gone

Someone who could hardly have been less like me in background and politics and yet, I've read and enjoyed many of her books and short fiction-- Joanna Russ was a brilliant writer. She passed away at the end of April, aged 74, either too early (74 is not that old!) or, given that she suffered serious, chronic back problems and had a Do Not Resuscitate order on file for nearly as long, too lingeringly.

The boys used to describe her as "strident;" I read it more as annoyed impatience, sometimes even with the less-clear thinkers on her own side.* (Though she would have poked fun at simplifying things down to merely two "sides"). Russ, a self-described "lesbian socialist," saw all of humanity very clearly, their individual strengths and their flaws, and was fair boggled that others did not. Her characters were generally competent, sometimes introspective, and perhaps more aware of civilization's ridiculousness than is comfortable. (At one point, the abbess of a convent besieged by Viking raiders, the leader of whom demands the gates be thrown open, complaining they have have been "long at sea without release" acidly comments how sad it must be that an entire crew should have lost the use of their hands...).

As an essayist, at least from what I have read, Russ was incisive, clear; if you disagreed with her (and many did), you had not the least doubt over the points of disagreement.

Perhaps that's why I enjoy her work. In a world of muddled thinkers, she saw to the heart of things. Not unemotional but always rational.

(On reflection, in her afterwords and forwards, Russ has more than a little of what I enjoy about Vidal and Buckley: she treats the language as the precise tool it can be and ought to be, and uses the right word, assuming if you don't know it, you'll have the mother-wit to look it up. --And if you can't keep up? Tsk, any of them would say, and move on.)
* "Every role in life has its advantages and disadvantages, of course; a fiery feminist student here at Cornell recently told an audience that a man who acquires a wife acquires a "lifelong slave" (fierce look) while the audience justifiably giggled and I wondered how I'd ever been inveigled into speaking on a program with such a lackwit." From the Afterword to When It Changed.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days Of....Tree Swings?

Last Fall, the Painless Tree Surgeon (we call him "Jim") left us a pair of ropes, installed on a substantial (though stubby) limb of the big old hackberry tree behind Roseholme Cottage. Over the Winter, I put together a swing seat; polyurethaned it in the last few weeks and installed it yesterday.

Those big, globby knots are actually a bowline-on-a-bight, with the free end sloppily hitched around it several times; I hate running out of rope.

More details to follow at Retrotechnologist.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Eagle Creek Pistol Range Returns!

Got the word at the Indy 1500 Gun Show this afternoon. Grand (Re)Opening,* next weekend: Tactical Firearms Training is the new contractor; supposedly they have slightly better terms from the city on things like keeping the range available. Hours are definitely better -- 9 to 5 instead of 10 to 4!

This is a good sign. Tam and I plan to attend the Grand (Re)Opening -- see you there?

(There's a first-rate Indian restaurant not too far away that sets a fine buffet on Saturday. Anyone up for a BlogShoot + Lunch?)
* I suppose it is, indeed, a reopening; but as they've not been open yet this year and the place will be Under New Management....

Small Family World

So, we celebrated Mom X's 80th yesterday (and many happy returns!). A lot of friends and family stopped by, good food was enjoyed by all (I do okay in the kitchen but believe me when I say I'm the least-skilled from a family of gifted cooks) and, in the festivities, some of Mom's extensive collection of photo albums were out to be looked through.

When I was growing up, these snapshots (and the occasional professional photograph) were scattered through many boxes; I don't suppose I ever saw them all. One of the albums had pictures from about the time my parents got married, mostly the years right afterward. I leafed idly through, marveling at how young they looked (and how much their faces are reflected in those of their children and grandchildren), when the settings and background of one series of images caught my eye: it all looked hauntingly familiar, despite being decades before I was born. Turned the page and there, in a bumper sticker and a sign, was the answer: they were at the House of David's very own amusement park and resort!

I've blogged about them before, a fascinating bunch; if you want to think of them as sort of a fun version of the Shakers, you won't miss by much: the same traits of self-reliance and inventiveness, but with a flair for showmanship and entertainment as well. Their Eden Springs Park was a popular Midwest tourist destination from early in the 20th Century through 1971. But I never knew my parents had been there.

Looks like it was a lot of fun.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

"Ammo Girls?"

I have refrained from commenting in my blog -- I wasn't there, after all -- but there's been talk of the young women Lucky Gunner had running ammunition (and water!) to the firing line, more-or-less comparing them to Hooters waitresses (wait, isn't that place about owls? Never been).

...This is to forget it was a hot-as-Hades weekend and they were young and fit -- when I was younger and fit (fitter? More fit? I'm not very fit, now) and either rode a bicycle or drove an unairconditioned car to and from work, rarely a summer passed without my employer havin' to remind me that maybe short-shorts and a tank top, even with a big open shirt over it, was not considered proper for the workplace.

A promotional event isn't the office. One blogger asked the woman Lucky Gunner had runnin' the thing about it, and here's what she had to say.
Like it or not, given sunscreen, most people will bare skin outdoors when the weather is hot; younger folk can get away with more, especially if they're in good shape. That's just the way it works.

While I have yet to meet a man who doesn't respond well to a smile and most of 'em will make eye contact at chest level if one is sufficiently buxom (tsk!), not every gal dressed for the heat is out to tickle the baser instincts. Heyyy, maybe not even most!

If you've got gunbloggers at a big ol' shooty event and you are handing out live rounds free for nothing, that lily is already gilded to the saturation point. (And if they were out to entice, why didn't they promote cute cartridge-waitresses ahead of time, right next to the free ammo?)

Sometimes things aren't any more than what they appear to be. Unclench, dammit, and try to have some fun.

PS: about this "shooting as a boy's club" thingie: there's at least one dealer, maybe two ,who set up at the Indy 1500 who won't even acknowledge I'm at their booth. (Tough, lads -- your loss!) Most times I first visit a gun store, I have to do a little bitta provin' myself. This does not bother me; I've been a radio ham since I was very, very young and that's still mostly a boy's club. My line of work? You could hold statewide women's-only Starship Tech meetings in a business-sized broom closet! So I deal with boyspace all the blame time. Ya gotta step up -- and here's the kewl thing: 99.99% of them will be Your Pals once you have. Heck, you don't even have to know all that much, as long as you show sincere interest.

Will you, sometimes, have to overlook cigar smoke, bikini calendars an' suchlike? Yes. Yes, you will. And you'll overhear the occasional crude joke, too. But very rarely will it be at your expense. Want their respect? Earn it. Same way they have to earn it from their peers.

All this faffing around about gun-culture not being women-welcoming enough strikes me as mere pandering to the timid. You know what? There's no right to be hand-carried though the world. You wanna mess with radio, you wanna shoot? --Or fix your own car, or ride a motorcycle or do any of those traditionally "boy's club" things? -Then step up and do it. You can even carve out your own space (for a nice, traditional example, see YLRL, the "Young Ladies' Radio League," a serious club for female, licensed and generally active radio amateurs, a goin' concern since 1939). --What you can't do is show up and expect the lads to abandon their long-held habits and practices just so's you can feel all comfy. Guess what, right now we are 20% of their market; that dusty stuffed moose is there 'cos the boys like it, and so's the tool-company calendar.

If a male showed up a quilting bee and demanded a place, he'd darned well better be able to sew -- or be majorly willing to learn. And if he complained about the amount of chatter or choice of topics, I think most of us would consider him a jerk. --Male privilege, a real cultural bent, means menfolk have a slightly easier time at most avocations and professions; their preferences are often considered by default, but there is a limit. And there's a limit the other way, too.

Women shooters I know who are serious about getting more women into the sport do a lot of one-on-one, taking friends to the range, reaching out to interested acquaintances, etc.; Breda is an excellent example of this approach.

You don't build a road all at once, you do it one brick, cobble or hunk of asphalt at a time. Right now, shooting is mostly a boy's club -- but it doesn't have "NO GURLZ ALLOWED" spray-painted on the door. You want more of us wimmins in it? Call yourself up a couple of friends and get them to the range!


Unk posted about Apple's remote camera disable patent, to general complaint about jackboot-enablers.

It reminded me of an especially cute hardware hack, the keychan dongle that shuts off all nearby TV sets at the touch of a button. How long do you suppose it would be after the introduction of the camera-censoring tech that a nosy-cam version of TV-B-GONE showed up?

Busy, Busy

No gun show for me yesterday; I spent the morning at North Campus of the Skunk Works, installing a loaner (some "loan:" $1k/month!) replacement for Critical Equipment, along with the mandatory calibration, glitches and flourishes such efforts demand, then went to the Main Campus and worked until midnight. But hey, welcome to vacation season. It was only a 12.5-hour day!

In the course of the morning's work, a conversation with the factory:

Me: "All the hardware is okay but there are still two alarms from the software that I cannot clear."

Factory Tech: "Sometimes that happens. You just reboot the control computer."

Me: "Um, won't that shut the whole thing down? For a pretty long time?"

FT, jauntily: "Only sometimes! No fun when it does, though."

Me: "Then we'll live with the alarms."

I swear, sometimes it seems like they believe we just have this junk in the corporation president's garage for him to watch the pretty, blinking lights instead of it being one of the major money-earning parts of the business!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Aggh! Morning!

Somehow still trading sibling text snipes consequent to my frustration last night -- is this trip really neccessary? I should'a knowed better but I had promised to make the offer. :(

Did find a kewl comic strip: Mythtickle. Hey, anyone who gets Ra, Set and Horus on the funny pages and draws the latter as a hulking, annoyed budgie is worth a look!

Thursday, June 02, 2011


I've got myself in a fine kettle of fish. Or maybe porcupines; yeah, with cactus.

One of my siblings was incredibly helpful when Mom X had heart surgery and during her long, difficult convalescence. My other sib travels on business a lot -- routinely -- and I work awkward hours. So a lot of it fell to her: taking care of Mom's devoted doggie, hospital visits, evaluating and checking up on nursing home staff, transportation and so on and on.

In the course of this, my sibling's car went wonky in an expensive way (my siblings and I share some traits; one of them is, we're not especially car-proud and are like as not to be driving near-clunkers. We're no great shakes with money, either; and we're effective and devoted procrastinators). But that was no problem, since most of the transportation duties involved Mom's larger sedan anyway. The broken car was parked, to be dealt with later.

So later came and sib had been whacked hard with heating bills (Um, renting a place with an ancient thermal/gravity furnace? Not a good idea. At 65F, it can't move enough air; at 72, you'll go broke. Live and learn). So it had to wait; then a lump-sum check was late.... Hey, I've been there, maybe not as bad or as long.

And after a month or so of this, with Mom home now but generally carless, I had to go and suggest sib and I meet up at a nearby car-repair jernt and I'd pay for it -- no-interest loan, however long it took. (Yeah, even forever. Remember, none of us are all that good with money). Given the other loans, etc., probably a good idea if no extra funds passed through my sibling's accounts.

The reaction was...less than positive. As in, there was no way sib would ever wanna be beholden to me, didn't want me to be in a position where I could dictate her activities, yadda-yadda-yadda. --Some of that's on me: we're not close, I have refused to loan money (when I didn't have it -- I don't have it now, either but I'd've paid credit-card rates to resolve the car tangle).

All I wanted was to remove one of the impediments to Mom's getting into physical therapy. I've had to do PT and it's hard to make yourself do it, very easy to find reasons not to.

But all I managed to do was make the mess a little bigger. That'll learn me.

Gun Show This Weekend!

The Indy 1500 Gun & Knife Show is back in town. I should've mentioned it sooner. Hoping to attend Friday and Sunday.

On Politics, Activism And Blog Content

I've been mostly talkin' about small, personal things of late and there's a reason for it. No, I haven't given up, quite the reverse.

I think there's a tsunami coming. While Claire is talking hyperinflation in the linked post, I wouldn't bet against a long, slow downhill slide instead of an abrupt change of slope. I don't see much recognition of the problem from the or the leading and lesser lights of either party (except, perhaps, R0n P4u1) and no grasp whatsoever of the magnitude of the current and likely future problem.

There's not much I can do about it. Help keep Roseholme stocked with long-term storable foods and drygoods, assist in gardening as much as I can (we are woefully behind; though Tam claims to not have much of a green thumb, she's a veritable Mother Nature compared to me: I've got more of a brass thumb).

I don't think sign-waving or writing to Congresscritters will help. Nor is it the kind of issue that could be fixed by a few strategic "rooftop vetoes." Can't fix it at the ballot box, either; while I'd like to think a healthy outcome of Bad Times would be a greater diversity of choices for voters, that won't happen until (unless) things have already gone bad -- at which point any Huey Long promising a new car in every pot plus two chickens in the garage is liable to drown out opponents with notions for a long-term solution.

So I'm keeping the knives sharp, the pantry stocked and ammunition on hand; I've got my sewing machine and leatherworking kit, electronics workshop and vehicle repair tools (I'm stocking scooter parts as I can. With gas over $4.00 a gallon again, it's a better choice than any car). I hope to get by. I stopped thinking about retirement a long time ago; the dirty, class-war commies of AARP have started sending me their nasty little invites (pathetically early: "Give me the middle-aged adult and I'll own the senior citizen," perhaps?) but for my generation there is unlikely to be any easy dozing on the porch; Social Security will be bankrupt or its dollars valueless, other retirement funds eaten away by inflation; marketable skills are the only thing I know to hold real value -- and many of those become less relevant as technology shifts (when was the last time you saw a TV repair shop?) .

Thus I talk about things closer to home, down to earth. Simple joys like the antics of a cat. When the politicians are on something of interest, like firearm laws or other Constitutionally-protected activities, I comment. I'm not going to try to tell you how to get out of this mess, 'cos I have no idea.

Water runs downhill and the two big parties sweat over diverting it a few degrees to the left or right, both hotly denying it'll ever reach bottom. They're dreaming but the nightmare will be ours. No Congressman will miss a meal, no bureaucrat, nobody in the Executive or Judicial branches is gonna have to choose between the gas bill and the electric bill. I strongly suspect for the rest of us, if that's as bad as it ever gets, that'll be a good outcome.


Huck the cat: Srsly, lookit all the stripes on me. I'm Nature's senior noncom! How could I not be in charge?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Lunch: Plans

Update: So I went. Couldn't get away until 1:40 but hey, they do the lunch thing from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.... Except the serving windows were closed! Undaunted, I tapped on the door and the owner-operator opened it. "All done?" I asked.
"Yep -- I ran out of food!"
"Busy, then?"
He gave me a rueful-but-happy look. "And how. Too much success, I guess--" He indicated the little courtyear area the truck was parked next to, where most of the sittable areas were occupied with people happily eating.

That's a pretty good review, right there. It's a brand-new venture and you have to figure things very closely with a food truck; I can hardly fault him for doing so better than expected. Told him I'd try again another day.

You can count on it. If he sticks close to this week's route, he's pretty close to the Skunk Works at least two days; maybe I can swap lunch times with another tech and show up earlier. Especially if I brought another lunch back!

Original Posting:
I don't know if I'll be able to but there's a new thing roaming about that I'd like to try tomorrow: ScratchTruck. It's a gourmet food van, or so they say. The menu looks...intriguing. (Watermelon-jalapeno lemonade? What?) There's at least one good review already.

(We've had West Coast Tacos roving Indy for a year now -- mmm-good).

The past, re-imagined! Can newstands and soda fountains be far behind? Reminds me of "Little Sandwich Wagon" (the Memphis Nighthawks, back before WW II). You can hear a snippet here but alas! --No lyrics.

Our Power Company: Exploding With Pride

Once more, Indianapolis Power & Light had a wee little explosion in a Downtown transformer vault, this time chasing staffers out of the Statehouse.

This has happened again and again. Y'know, if it was my electric company an' I had, oh, clients like Eli Lilly, the and bank headquarters as customers there in the Mile Square, I'd be thinkin' about transformer replacement on some basis other than as-they-explode. As it is, it makes me worry about where to park downtown. They've never hurt anyone yet but it's still no fun.

Gee, I wonder where the closest transformer vault to the Skunk Works main campus can be found? We don't so much care; lose power and a big ol' Caterpillar Megawatt genset lurches to life, carrying the entire building. The transfer switches occupy structures the size of storage sheds! Our lights blink and we dance the Reset Tango for those few things not on one UPS or another. The neighbors, though, they're liable to have sweat in the dark as they fish people out of elevators and go home early.

Y'know, if it was you and/or me plus some M-80s or flashbangs creating sound and fury (let alone power outages) downtown, we'd face all manner of inquiry. The power company? Not so much.

Infrastructure: gotta have it.