Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Is It Still Racism When Andre Does It?

If you ever leaned even a little towards the Tea Party, U.S. Representative The Mr. The Honorable Andre Carson -- my Rep in the House -- thinks you'd like to see him swing from a tree, on the sole basis of the pigmentation of his integument. He's never met you, but he's certain of it. And he's not the least bit ashamed of his prejudice, either.

Me, I'm hardly a true-red-white-and-blue Tea Partier (it's the social conservatism that puts me off, mainly[1]), but I know plenty and they're not the lynchin' sort; vast majority of 'em would spit at anyone who suggested skin color was a good criteria for judging a person's worth.

Now, sadly, some few do think that's a fine, fine yardstick -- but then, so does the Honorable the Mister Andre Carson. Neither one excuses the other.

And I've got no use for either. Grow up, dammit, and start judging people on the content of their character, much as I have you on yours, at least as demonstrated to date.

(Perhaps the saddest part of this mess is that Andre Carson is an immensely likeable man when he's not waving a bloody shirt; if he'd abjure race-baiting and concentrate on reality-based issues, he'd have much to commend him, even for a Democrat. But don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen).
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You wanna quote from a great orator? Try this one: "A man's rights rest in three boxes. The ballot box, jury box and the cartridge box. Let no man be kept from the ballot box because of his color. Let no woman be kept from the ballot box because of her sex." I'm not sure if that's the first use of the "boxes" formulation but it's one of the earliest. Who said it? Fredrick Douglass. Some darned big shoes there, for any speaker who follows him.

1. This comment led to a nice little Roseholme argument, with Tam pointing out that "the" Tea party is really a plural and that the movement was, at least originally, single-issue: TEA, Taxed Enough Already. She's right, though I maintain that many "Tea" organizations now find themselves flying the banner of social-conservative chat-show hosts. No matter which of us has the most accurate model of the current state of things, one fact remains: they're not a frikkin' mob of cross-burners, no matter how much the CBC would like for them to be.

Water: Still Wet

And you'll be shocked -- shocked, I say -- to learn Our Government may have invoked National Security to hide, not secret stuff, but embarrassing incidents. Oh, and occasionally things that actually ought to be kept secret, if Wikileaks hasn't already leaked 'em (or, bizarrely enough, sometimes even if sneaks or even dear ol' Uncle Sam already published the info. Don't forget your kaleidoscope glasses!)

Victorian Breakfast

I made kedgeree this morning, a bit of Anglo-Indian brekky right out of Sherlock Holmes. Rice, hard-boiled egg, tomato, and fish. Really should have a little onion, which I lacked; but I cheated with chives instead.

Pretty good, though I used smoked salmon and it's plenty strong. Seasoning? Some curry for the rice, plus freeze-dried chives; a pat of butter and a shake of sumac (instead of a lemon wedge) before serving; at table, another Anglo-Indian* standard, Worcestershire sauce.

Next time, more egg and less tomato, I think.
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* Or fill-in-the-blank-Indian: take vindaloo, for instance. That fine, subcontinental-sounding term comes from the Portuguese phrase for garlic wine.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Scout26

We call him "Dave," 'cos that's his name, and he was one of the rarely-seen luminaries gracing the most recent Indy BlogMeet. It seems his docs have decided he's a quart low or a quart over or some such medical thing, and they've got him back in the hospital, where they can keep an eye on him 'til he does better.

Since we can't all crowd in and help watch (it annoys the nurses, especially after the first dozen), you might want to spare him a thought or a prayer, instead.

Stencil-Cutting

Here's why I didn't even think about automating it:All I found of the font were old samples! --Blowing it up and hand-smoothing (most of the divots are trimmed out of the stencil proper, btw, this is just the scrap) makes it almost "original work," right? Right?

...Aw, I sure hope that font didn't get sold to Righthaven....

Arrgh!

Oh, f'pity's sake...!

I stumbled into a multi-way argument in which one of the participants managed to conflate gun rights, his own personal religious beliefs and the huge argument over same-sex marriage.

Given that you can, with remarkably little effort, find plenty of people who confound the easy Left/Right alignments on those issues, pro or con on each of all three in every possible combination, just how darn hard would it be to admit that some issues cannot be resolved -- and resolve therefore when it comes to law to mind one's own business about 'em, leaving the tincture of time to muddle through the mess?

Rick Perry cannot, having recently signed on with the national ban people -- no, not the Brady bunch, the Fed'ral wedlock limitation -- and so he doesn't appear to trust the States individually, nor The People one-by-one. He wants the Feds to step in and instruct us ignernt masses. (Soooooo, what'll they do with all those same-sex married couples in New England and Iowa? Ship 'em to Leavenworth as Federal criminals? Just raise their insurance rates and estate taxes? Pretend they never happened? Too late!).

This action tells me something about candidate Perry, and not what you think. Sure, he may be a bit bigoted -- but pick your issue and you can find one anybody holds a strong opinion about; if a pol is upfront about his biases, I can weigh 'em against his other qualities. Sure, he may be an opportunist, a bit of a weathervane -- now name a politician that isn't; but some of 'em at least look to the law and Constitution to check if it's an ill wind or fair. Nope, not that; it tells me something more subtle, more fundamental: it tells me he won't leave well enough alone.

And for somebody asking for my vote to put him in as the el Supremo Cigarro of a Federal Republic of fifty grotty little experiments in democracy,* that's a career-limiting flaw. Hey, Rick? Just like your peer Barry O and all his predecessors, work on the whole knowing when to sit down and shut up thing. If more Presidents could master that art, we'd all be better off!
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* Sadly, most of them aren't little enough, or, really, grotty enough, and they keep getting less experimental and not especially democratic nor respectin' of inalienable rights. Look, if they're not tryin' stuff in NH or VT, in ND or AK, how're the rest of us spozed to tell if it's worth tryin' where we live? --And vice versa, of course.

Monday, August 29, 2011

I'm Cutting A Stencil

...A middlin' big stencil, as such things go for me, for Roseholme Cottage's street number. The font is about right for a 1924 Arts & Crafts cottage, a bit old-fashioned for '24. I'm not all that great at it and there's one repeated number, soooo-- Wish me luck?

BlogMeet Report, A/K/A Is It "Shortly" Yet?

My "nap" turned into "slept like a log all night," at least until Rannie the Cat started combing my hair over my eyes at about 5:55 a.m. The alarm went off five minutes later, waking me from a strange dream about unwanted hairstyling.

So, you wanna blogmeet report?We have the info on-hand!

In attendance:
Don Gwinn
Longhorn Jeff (of the Wheelbarrows Fulla Money)
Brigid
Mr. B
Midwest Chick
Rich
Roberta (who dat?)
Tam
Old NFO
Dave (Scout26).
Og, and Partner-In-Grime
Peter of Bayou Renaissance Man
and his lovely wife Miss D.
Shermlock Shomes and the talented Mrs. Shomes
The Jack
Old Grouch
Mad Saint Jack
KerryMy snapshots do not begin to do the event justice!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

...Wotta BlogMeet Today!

Right around twenty (20!) bloggers, spouses and blog-reader in attendance! At least five states represented! Good food! WTMI and the world of "of course" from Og!* Tasty snackies courtesy of Brigid! Tall tales, gossip, innuendo and exuendo galore! Plus True Stories From The Gun Show!

I have photos, I have a list -- and I have a Colt revolver in .32-20. (Why that last item? Why not? My wheelgun wishlist has read, "Colt or Webley" for quite awhile now. With a Smith & Wesson collector occupying the attic, I dassen't look Smithwards, after all.)

All will be posted shortly. Need a bit of a lie-down first.
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* E.g., "...so he stumbles back outside. By then, the raccoon was on fire, of course." Or, "Then there's another 'Boom!' and suddenly, it's snowing again. Of course, this was in Indiana in July...." They make perfect sense in context but a sentence like that, when it skips across one's ears, it tends to fix the attention.

BlogMeet Today!

Remember, Indy BlogMeet, 3:00 this afternoon at Broad Ripple Brew Pub. If you're working the show, not to worry, stop on by after its over.

...The show? The Indy 1500 Gun Show! Tam and I will head out for opening time.

And between then and now, there's a building getting blown up. You could ask for more, but you wouldn't get it. Live screaming video here starting at 7:45 a.m. EDT, they claim. It was -- now you can watch the replay.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday Dinner

Haunted by a migraine (etc.) all day, it finally wore off -- ibuprofen didn't cut it -- and I was pretty hungry when it turned supper time. Tam was amenable to steaks a la Bobbi: grilled over hardwood charcoal with a dab of Irish butter -- plus skin-on mashed tatties and a nice herb salad with radish, carrot and green pepper.

It turned out goooood. I threw a teaspoon of curry powder in the potato water, to see what would happen. The water's discarded but a hint of the flavor remained. Didn't have any fresh milk handy but powdered milk (and some of that butter) worked a treat. The steak came out melt-in-your mouth (it's the charcoal, the covered grill and the butter, plus a dash of sumac. Helps to start with very good beef, which we did.). The salad was good, too.

And there will be mashed-potato cakes for brekky tomorrow!

Trivia: There is no frog -- not even a hint of it! -- in Frogmore Stew. What a relief.

Some Days, I Really, Really Like The Human Race

Shiny government project in East Africa: come up with a better "mogogo" or bread-cooking stove (for tasty injera bread, a sort of chewy sourdough [teff flour] pancake used as plate, eating utensil and foodstuff. I've had it and recommend it.)

So they did the usual kind of thing, but a bit smarter: design new stove, find some volunteers to try 'em, refine 'em, and then start puttin' 'em in any place the village council could sell the idea (sounds like quite a few -- the traditional rural bread oven thereabout is inefficient and smoky). And then, of course, they ran a follow-up survey. It's at this point the general kewlness of people starts showing up:
(6) They first heard about the new stoves when a nearby house did a prototype. When she saw it, she tried to build herself and then the project came
(7) They got the mogogo because first of all there is no smoke, second, it is quite economical, and third, the quality of the injera is even better.
NOTE: Daughter build a stove in her house in her husband's village. She was able to get most of the parts on the market except the grate. For that, she made it out of cement with metal wire re-inforcing and random holes. She made the conical ash trap by using the conical mogogo lid upside-down as guide.
Gee, however you tell when a new notion is reachin' critical mass...? :)

The interviews include a pretty typical amount of complaints, and a deadpan account of a really cute bit when the interviewer happens upon a group of men, farmers having a visit, and asks them one too many questions about farming details. (The reaction of farmers to nosy questions from a guy with a clipboard may, in fact, be a human universal).

I suppose I should be frownin' pretty hard at the "government" nature of the project, particularly in that it happened in Eritrea, a poster-land for one-party totalitarianism with a complex history and plenty to be paranoid about. But y'know what? The evidence suggests the stove-improvement was some goofy college project that got in under the radar and the people running it had the wit to go talk with the intended end-users, then act on their suggestions; it appears to be improving people's lives and it sounds as if it may even be turning into a tiny cottage industry.

Eritreans lack a lot of things you and I take for granted, like widespread mains electricity and a free press, but at least their eyes aren't going to be too smoke-irritated to make use of either, if -- or, IMO, when -- they do reach out and grab 'em.
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PS: Looks like everybody's got some kind of pancake in their local cuisine.

Overheard In The Kitchen

RX: "Why hasn't the President evacuated new York City? Does he hate financiers? Puerto Ricans?"

Tam: "Broadway."

RX: "Oh. That's understandable. I won't give the man any trouble over that."

So Tired. So Busy.

If all goes per plan, I will be attending both the Indiana Historical Radio Society's meet and the Ripley County Hamfest.

On the other hand, I'm exhausted as I type this Friday night for Saturday morning posting. But tomorrow's got to better, right? It's just got to.

Update: Or not. An hour and a half into the morning, the merits of simply staying home and taking care of small chores are becoming ever more appealing. I seem to have piled up an enormous sleep debt, too.

(Posted using Safari, after Firefox irked me by starting up...and bombing right out. Don't know why, don't wanna have to find out, but they're turning to the next Windows Internet Explorer. Meanwhile, they tell me Google Chrome tends to crawl up your Secret Places with a magnifying glass. So what's left? Can't burn it to the waterline and install [SOMETHING]nix, I need frikkin' Word and Q10 for writing. Safari mostly works, though last time it couldn't play nice with Blogger's image-shoving software.)

...And in re writing: I couldn't be more tickled to see someone from a Varian* address reading I Work On A Starship. Plus a lot of MYOB last-digits-are-# sooopersekrit URLs. Oooooooo. :)
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* The Varian brothers -- innovative, hot-shot Theosophist engineers who ran with avant-garde composers, cutting-edge landscape architects and leaned very far to the Left -- found themselves designing atom-bomb ignition systems for the Manhattan Project (both men later expressed regret) and as microwave innovators, they and their company were deeply involved in the Cold War and seriously burn-before-reading, Commie-thwarting projects. And people say Zen is convoluted?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Alternate History Prints: WANT!

Who could forget the LA Zombie-Slaughter Games of 1932? The Defeat of General Frankenstein at Bunker Hill? All that boring stuff from U. S. History class.... Sold at Etsy; seen at BoingBoing. Want. All via Turk Turon's peek at an Elder God bento box lunch.

(Also via BB: The Lovecraftsman!)

Even A Stopped Clock....

OMG! There's a hurrycane a-gonna hit the East Coast! Better issue a bATFe warning to FFLs! Lo and behold, the actual flyer (PDF) is a collection of handy links to applicable Fed agencies and useful, if somewhat generic, advice. I've got to give them points for good-faith effort.

--Even if they did forget to mention, "Be sure to order plenty of extra ammo and store it in a stormproof location." Y'know, a good supply of guns & ammo can make a darned big difference after the storm passes.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

FWIW, Starship...

I am tearing my hair out over a mostly-completed chapter in the current arc of I Work On A Starship. Too many puzzle-pieces to fit in! But at least I have all the players on the board. I'm startin' to think Rannie Wu is a little woo-woo. Monomaniacal, anyhow, and not at all pleased with disorder and randomness. You can imagine how Edger culture afflicts her.

Rays!

"I have often ... in the course of the session ... looked at that sun behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now at length I have the happiness to know it is a rising and not a setting sun."

In point of fact, this one is setting. Read into it what you will.

Still Life With Cats


One of them is catnapping. The other one? He's biding his time 'til it's time for the biting!I think it may be almost time now.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Incompleat SF Reader

Everyone else is, so I'm jumpin' off the cliff, too.

But what's up with this list? No R. A. Lafferty collections. No Cordwainer Smith. No Theodore Sturgeon??? Geesh. And Wilmar H. Shiras' In Hiding isn't even mentioned.

But I read some of 'em, in bold. Red, I saw the film but didn't read the book:

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams (loathed it)
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle (I have this, I think, but I don't remember reading it).
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke (Started, got bored)
77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

About 60%. A little more if the movies count.

Best. Lamp. Evar.

I enjoy Claire Wolfe's blog; I liked the previous incarnation and the I was happy when the present one popped up at Backwoods Home, despite the sometimes depressing/horrifying news on the freedom front (for instance, going without a Social Security number is only getting more difficult).

But she found a huge source of both Win and Cake in the home-made Alien Abduction Lamp. I need another little project like a hole in the head but this one is extremely tempting.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tooooooseday

The little dog proved a quiet, if somewhat frightened passenger in the pet (cat!) carrier, carefully expressing his disapproval of unplanned excursions by means of a steaming mound of criticism in the corner of the carrier, which the vet's office was nice enough to remove. (He had a somewhat shorter but similar opinion of the exam table.)

It all went well withal; when it came time to return home, he was happy to climb back in and refrained from further comment in any form.

Dreamlike: that vet's office has two office cats: an orange tabby tomcat and a tortoiseshell calico! The tom's smaller than Huck (and declawed all 'round, poor guy), while the calico lacks Rannie's dark half-mask. Still, quite a coincidence.

...And at the Skunk Works, North Campus, a day that began well enough augered in when a recently-repaired critical device proved to have a communicable failure upon reinstallation. Even after de-installing the darned thing, the problem remains and has stubbornly resisted diagnosis. An hour after the usual quittin' time (and no lunch, either), I fought it to a should-work situation and vowed to address it again in the morning. It could be two bad cables in a row -- but I have my doubts.

Entirely too exciting.

What I'm Doing This Morning

Instead of writing this post -- I did that last night -- I am, if the Fates allow, taking Mom's diabetic doggie to the vet to have his blood sugar checked.

Since the poor, pudgy critter is a "stress pooper" and I am not much of a dog person, it may be interesting. I like the little chickenheart well enough but I don't know if I can keep him calm enough. He may end up traveling in the king-sized cat carrier. He's not too big for it.

More later, maybe. Wish me luck!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Indy BlogMeet Update!

Guess what? This Sunday is the Sixth Blogiversary of View From The Porch!So join us Sunday for a Very Special Indy Blogmeet: Touched By A Snarkle!

Thump.

Last night, about 10:00: Thump. It wasn't very loud but the source was quite definite: someone had thumped the porch window of the Computing Center here at Roseholme Cottage. Thump. There it went again.

Well, Tam was expecting a pizza and I took out the doorbell for the house-painting.... I opened the curtains and looked out. Nothing and nobody any closer than a family across the way, folding up the bouncy castle from their daughter's birthday.

I'd no sooner sat back down than: Thump. This is getting annoying! I ignored it, and the next two, then three in a row -- I had to look.

An enormous cicada was buzzing the porch light, like a demented blimp. Every few orbits (or so), it would blunder into the window, with a good solid Thump.

Made my way through the house to the front door, opened it -- not a sign. So I went out and looked for it. Found it huddled on the porch floor behind Tam's little side table; when I moved the table, the cicada buzzed up, startled, with a loud, "eeeEEEEEEEEEeeeeeEEP!" Way bigger than my thumb and shiny as a new penny.

I left it to whatever it was about. Thump.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Roseholme Redux

I went looking for Tudor Rose artwork with an eye to making a stencil for Roseholme Cottage and found this:
The symbol is now used extensively within countries of the former British Commonwealth, as well as those remaining in it, to denote a professional intelligence organisation.
So, it's black ops and intel all the way down, then?

::sigh::

Good thing I have my cloak and dagger right handy.

A Funny Thing Happened At The Zoo

I went to the Indianapolis Zoo and...


...the animals blacklisted me!

Except for the ones who just plain can't be bothered to care.Tsk. "Can you outrun a cheetah," indeed. A sleeping one, you bet!

So, I was ignored. At least they still have children for the turtles tortoises to look at; I'm pretty sure it goes that way 'round. And so are they. (With no treats to lure them, either. There were two turtles tortoises, cruising around, looking for children to view; when they spotted one, they'd amble over and take a good, long look. They think the Deserts Biome is run to entertain them and they may be right. Well, them and the bust-a-pose bearded lizards, who perk up at the sight of a camera.)

Meta: Tam Shooting Giraffes

Here's what principal photography of "Two by two, tongues of blue" looked like:

What?

...Here so early? Oh, I overslept! Well, there's breakfast to be got, so make yourself comfortable and have a look at a splendid online collection of gas-station signs.

Remember DX? The fancy Red Crown globes on gas pumps? Sunoco's pumps that offered at least a half-dozen choices of octanes and additives? (Funny how it is now we have three or less choices and most everyone puts in the cheapest, low-octane stuff they can -- yeah, boom times, baby, never better). Indiana had plenty of small names -- McClure, Blue and White, Kocolene. All Most are gone now.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

No, They Hate You Because You're Paranoid

There's a certain blog out there -- he'd love a link from me -- that has been whining about being "blacklisted" by gunbloggers.

No such secret blacklist exists. (I would know. I gotta insider in th' Inner Snarkle, lives right up there in my attic. We even share the C3I room here at Roseholme Cottage).

Now the chap in question has a business model: invade a specific blogging interest, rip content improperly (entire posts, or north of 80%, with tiny links) and/or impolitely, start controvery and churn, churn, churn, 'til he's gettin' truly epic eyeballs, whoa! Lookit the traffic!...and then sell it.

Except for the little matter of playing fast and loose with IP rights -- difficult for bloggers to fight, not everyone is related to as many attorneys as I am -- it's just another way of making a living from the gullible.

But that doesn't justify being a horse's rear about it.

And that's why that site has earned an open-conspiracy black list. I am not linking to them. I will not mention them by name. I won't go there again (remember, he's gonna sell based on traffic) and I encourage you to do the same.

'Scroom. It's a free 'net. Play nice or the other boys and girls won't play with you any more.

Aw, To Heck With It

...I'm goin' to the Zoo!

(Sadly, they have nothing quite as kewl as the latest critter in Robb's menagerie).

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fire Swamp, Sewage Treatment Plant

Pretty much the same thing -- especially when both are infested by rodents of unusual size. Yeah, real life ROUS. In California. And here I thought they were just small actors in funny suits!

Trivia: Tam swears that the capybara, a kind of giant aquatic rat, is offically fish for eating-on-Friday purposes. Um, giant rat? I'll just have the scrod, please.

"The Fun And Romance Of Being Abroad"

O...M...G. See, this is why I don't travel:

The famous photo, over which Mike never-been-ogled Krumboltz gushes, "perfectly catches the fun and romance of being abroad," shows a young woman, eyes downcast, being drooled over with scary intensity by over a dozen strange men; had she been alone rather than hangin' with a photog, the next dance-step is one of 'em brushes against her, catches her up and if she draws away, he takes offense, backed up by his peers. At that point, there'd better be a cop or a busy street right around the corner, because it's already too late to get away alone.

Or maybe I'm just a sour old maid. Nevertheless, that image pretty well captures why I started carrying a gun -- and one reason why I despise travel.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

House Painting

Came home night before last to a suddenly-different Roseholme Cottage. Even step-by-step, it's a big change.

Start by knocking off all the loose paint... ...Then prime... ...Paint the trim color......And follow up with the siding color!
I'm liking it. A second coat, some touch-up and the bulk of the painting will be done! Nephew did the front of the house yesterday and the neighbors have been highly complementary of his work and the colors.

I'll be adding the accent color on the windows and some other detailing as time and weather permit.

Toomai-Tam

Tam has not "seen the elephant" (or has she?) but not only has she seen an elephant or twelve, now she has ridden one. I have proof!(What, you never heard of no Toomai of the Elephants?)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Tab Clearing"

Though not literal tabs:

Mom continues to recover from her most recent mishap -- she broke ribs 1, 2 and 3 and was still occasionally dizzy; once the hospital was happy with her progress and medications, she graduated to a rehab facility -- for once, close to home, nice and able to provide her low-sodium diet. She's hoping to be back home in a week.

Mom's dog is diabetic and in all the excitement, his doggy insulin (or not so doggy: they get the good stuff, just like people. Lilly doesn't make "Dogalin") expired. Which was why he was having symptoms. That's been rectified.

Roseholme Cottage is going green! --A soft, woodsy green, with yellow trim. Nephew has the back wall all painted, ready for one more coat of the green but the trim's all done and I'm liking the combination. I'll post a preview as soon as I get the photos uploaded. My nephew has also got a request to bid on another job on the street: it seems good work is its own advertisement.

August Indy BlogMeet

Yes, it's time! It's an Indy 1500 Gun Show weekend, too, just in time for:Broad Ripple Brew Pub, 842 E. 65th St., Indianapolis, IN 46220 (Not all that far from the intersection of Westfield and Westfield.)

Thanks to Tam for getting this one underway.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Work My Fingers To The Bone For You Readers

...And this is the thanks I get?

Update: ;) --Kidding! Must not look as funny as it sounded inside my head.

"Carbon Credit" Scheme Augers In

It happened in Indonesia but it could have been any third-world, oops, developing nation with land suitable for palm-oil production: a plan by outside investors (70 percent, by charter) to engage in a sort of global extortion by selling "carbon credits" guaranteeing a large chunk of carbon-rich rainforest swampland would remain untouched for a specified period of time has stumbled and come to naught in the final step of a long, tortuous government approval process. Turned out the palm-oil company had filed a competing application some years earlier -- or at least found paperwork showing they had.

"Carbon credits." It's just first-world guilt money, fancy extortion. It's got no reality; you can't saw 'em into blocks, sort 'em or weigh 'em. Sure, stock markets and the like work in much the same way -- but they are, you will note, operating in the developed nations, under a shared belief in intangibles. For a country with a surplus of hungry babies and available natural resources, what looks like the better bet, thirty-year shares in untouchable swampland or the outfit promising to grow crops in it, hire locals and turn out heavy barrels of a physical product?

The clever, clever bleeding hearts (or whatever -- hey, I saw the movie Paper Moon when it came on the TV) busy trying to invent a new derivative of an intangible to salve the guilt of latte-sipping iPhoned Europeans and North Americans might be better off figuring out how to synthesize palm oil from garbage using tropical heat and plenty of manpower if they want to keep those carbon-rich rainforests all shiny-green and mucky. In Indonesia, they're not nearly as worried about the next century as they are about today's lunch. (Whether or not "carbon credits" really do anything to improve our future is a whole other topic.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Where's My Tinfoil Hat?

Now that doesn't look ominous at all, right?
--Actually, it's not. I've blogged about it before. As near as I can tell, it's a good-faith effort to start making a somewhat-creaky system work better: it's part of FCC's "countdown" graphic for the first official National EAS Test. If you're like me, you still think of it as the Emergency Broadcast System, bit of a Cold War relic.

It hasn't actually been that for years; mostly behind the scenes, it disseminates severe-weather and abducted-child warnings to broadcasters and cable TV systems. The one thing they've never tried is the thing you see in movies: a nationwide message.

So they're going to test it, coast to coast, with a real alert code and a whole lot of spoken reminders that it is only a test. The guys leading the effort, as far as I can find out, are not FCC but FEMA, specifically a handful of upper-midlevel types of the sort that ends up doing the heavy lifting it takes to keep the wheels in motion in any large enterprise. (Most bureaucracies have 'em; they do all the real work and get little if any credit). They realized they had a useful but dull tool available and are undertaking to sharpen it. While it's my tax money and yours, it's a sunk cost; we're not gonna get a refund if it fails, so why not tune the system up?

This should be...interesting.

(As for the FCC's graphic, it's certainly striking but I kind of wonder if it was done by the same artist who dreamed up the seal for IAO, the TLA that isn't. They might want to scale it back a bit. Just a bit.)

Free Money (For The Government)

Not too long ago, a popular measure passed the legislature: school boards could increase their portion of real-estate taxes only if the voters approved. (It's a little more complicated than that.)

In Franklin Township, the School Board was facing a shortfall after voters rejected a tax increase. Property tax caps had resulted in a nearly 20% decline in school funding. They had to save money somewhere -- and so they decided free bus service had to go.

This resulted in predictable outrage. One parent wondered, "If we're not going to provide even just the basics to try to get them to school then you know, where are we as a society?"--Read the linked article and you'll see one answer: parents are organizing car pools.

There will be school buses, mind you, they just won't be free; they'll cost $55 a month per student. That's a heck of a blow, but it does mean the cost is borne by (oh shock horror) the user.

...Or, you could try turning the School Board upside down and shaking really hard. That's exactly what State Senator Patricia Miller hopes to do. In her words, "It is important to note that the Franklin Township School Corporation has more than $17 million in its rainy day fund." I'm not seeing any mention of the reduction in tax money collected by the school board in her open letter, nor any of that dull, boring math that might show how much of the shortfall is made up by dropping free buses -- or what the School Board will do after they've depleted their rainy day fund and it happens to start rainin' on 'em.

--We had a fix for this, once: more and smaller schools, within walking distance of the neighborhoods they served. You have to wonder how a referendum on building neighborhood schools might've fared. You have to wonder -- because that idea was never floated. (For that matter, they used to build schools around here close to the streetcar lines and the city bus lines hat replaces them. It's still pay buses but more cost-effective.) In a completely unrelated news item, American kids continue to average chubbier than is good for 'em....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Um, Umm, Omlette!

Last night's dinner: a four-egg omlette. Some folks shy off from these constructions but they're not as difficult as you'd think -- yes, even the folding-over part.

You'll need 4 eggs (well, duh), a little milk, cold water, Worcestershire sauce, curry powder, Gruyere cheese, small peppers (intensity to taste) streaky bacon and black pepper. You could add fresh chives or scallions if you were so minded; I did not.

Start by frying up three or four strips of bacon (cut in half) in a 10" non-stick frying pan. (A dash of black pepper in the skillet first would not be remiss).

While the bacon fries, prepare five or six small, hot red peppers. (My nephew, who provided them, says they're jalapenos; Tam says not. Either way, you'll probably want to wear kitchen gloves): take off the tops, split 'em, seed with a teaspoon* and cut into small sections.

Next, prepare five slices of cheese; I ended up with 4" x 3/4" x 1/16" strips. YMMV. You really want the Gruyere for this, as it has a wonderful flavor and melts perfectly.

Keep an eye on that bacon! If it's done -- it should be just crisp -- set it on paper towel (on a plate! Tsk, were you raised in a barn?) to drain and turn the fire off or almost.

Now mix up the eggs. (I like sending 'em to the intersection of Westfield and Westfield, though the place where Meridian tees from Meridian St. works, too.) Four eggs, quick splash of cold water, 2-3 tablespoons of cold milk, a dash of Worcestershire, a half-teaspoon of curry powder (vary the last two to taste) and beat the whole conglomeration with a fork until it's a mostly consistent lemony hue. (A fork seems to be just right -- wire whisks don't quite do it, a spoon is too slow. You could use a mixer but be sure to get it in cold water right after, egg'll set up like good glue otherwise).

Turn the fire back up (mediumish) and get the bacon grease hot. If you think there's too much, pour some off, carefully -- don't lose all the nice stuff at the bottom! Once the grease is hot, toss in the chopped peppers (and etc., if desired) and saute 'til the color perks up, a minute to so. Fish them out carefully and set on the paper towel next to the bacon.

You'll want a thin, uniform coating of hot grease in the pan. A bit too much isn't a big problem, though you may end up having to blot it later. Pour in the eggs, give the pan a gentle shake to level, and let it cook a bit. After thirty seconds or so, it'll cook faster covered. But keep an eye on it -- this goes fast. When the edges start to look dry, lay the cheese strips to cover half the omlette and cook until they start to melt. Then sprinkle on the peppers and follow with the bacon, torn into small sections. Remember, only put them on half! (Some people prefer to put the filling down the centerline and turn up each edge. This has the advantage of less tricky lifting but it's harder to get a nice sealed edge. Hey, whatever works for you....)

Take a good spatula and lift the edge of the omlette that doesn't have stuff on it. If it seems cohesive and comes up easily, it's time for The Turn. I often end up with a narrow spatula to make a gap for a wide spatula, so the omlette doesn't break (remember, they taste just as good even if they flip funny and you'll know more about the trick next time); the goal is to flip the empty half over the stuffed half and end up with a nice half-moon. Cook a bit longer, turn over and cook until done, i.e., eggs all "set," no runny egg mixture running out. Some people like them more done than others and it's a matter of finding out, but you can cook 'em more after checking a lot easier than you can uncook an overdone omlette.

Serves two -- cut in half, you get two nice wedges of a fluffy, crunchy, fragrant treat!

Concerned about the possible heat, I served ours with the mild canned corn-and-sweet-peppers mixture often sold as "Mexicorn" as a balance. It turned out the sauteed peppers had a slow, low, smoky-spicy heat, not at all burn-y but the corn was still nice on the side.

See how easy that was?
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* Or don't seed them, if you want serious heat. The spoon trick is simple: take each pepper half and scoop out the seeds and white pulp with the tip of a teaspoon. Saves no end of time and trouble.

Stage Collapse At Indiana State Fair

4 5 people are dead, somewhere around 50 43 injured when an overhead stage structure (lighting grid and roof) fell in a wind gust at the State Fair tonight. Local media has the story and video of the collapse.

We had a storm blow into town right before 9 tonight and the gust front was impressive even here at Roseholme Cottage, a few miles north of the State Fairgrounds.

Past the tragic deaths and injures, the other part of the story is that the people at the event mostly dove right in and started trying to help; eyewitness reports and on-scene video show a mix of active bystanders, emergency responders and law enforcement all through the tangled mess, doing whatever they can for their trapped and injured fellows. On amateur video from the scene, there is a row of people lifting the fallen truss and helping to free audience members within seconds of it hitting the crowd. Makes me darned proud of my species.

First windspeed data is from downtown; Lucas Oil Stadium watches windspeed as part of their retractable roof setup and recorded a 53 mph peak about four miles south of the fairgrounds.

Update: Official estimates put the gust at "60 to 70 mph" as it tore through the fair.

Update 2, 15 August: Memorial services at the fairgrounds at 0900 today. The Fair was closed Sunday.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Off On A Tangent

In his description of a truly apt Presidential monument, Og offhandedly mentioned the Congressional cafeteria being filled in and a new one built elsewhere and for whatever reason, I decided to look into that.

Couldn't find a peep.* The top search-engine pages were instead clogged with Dire News of a Horrid Tragedy: when the GOP got control of the House, they tossed out Nancy Pelosi's pet "Green Initiative" mandating compressed cornstarch instead of polystyrene foam -- and never you mind that the "green" utensils tended to break. You might wonder why they did so; after all, they didn't convert the Capitol power plant back to coal from natural gas and if they've unscrewed all the cheap-to-operate CFL bulbs in favor good old Edison type, the media hasn't reported it. --Well, you see, the foam and plastic dinnerware is significantly cheaper than the flimsier Green version. (And they're not gonna make Ms. Pelosi take Amtrack or Grayhound now that she's no longer Speaker; so they've got to save somewhere).

Outraged Greenies fumed online (you can find multiple versions of the same malinformed rant), "How dare they! Foamed plastic is a menace! It's not even recyclable!"

Wrong; polystyrene recycles like nothing you've ever seen: it's a thermoplastic, not a thermosetting one, so just heat it up, it melts and you can make new stuff. Electronic hobbyists and model makers dissolve old coffee cups or foam packing "peanuts" in a strong solvent -- typically acetone or tolulene -- and end up with a liquid plastic, suitable for painting onto things or even simple molding. (It's a wonderful RF insulator.) There hasn't been a lot of pressure at the Green end to recycle the stuff; they seem to prefer bewailing how it will never, ever break down in a landfill, not in a million years. --Then let's keep it out of landfills and if you don't like making new CD cases or park benches (et 10^6 cetera) out of it, why not exploit its stability and use it to make building materials?

But the outrage and guilt trips were never about actual solutions; it's about dictating people's choices and burning up tax dollars on a feel-good pyre of self-inflated sanctimony.

I wonder if Congressthings are allowed to bring their own coffee cups to their cafeteria? Not that they would, of course; that would be too much like actual physical labor. Perhaps Ms. Pelosi could get herself a jet-powered coffee cup carrier? (Crew of six, burns a gallon a minute).
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* Update: Because it didn't happen! I misunderstood what Og wrote. Which only goes to show.

Friday, August 12, 2011

"The Dispossessed"

....Or not. Certainly not the LeGuin novel. The Narrative plays it like her The Day Before The Revolution, with Britain's rioters and looters as the losers in a rigid class system, stuck and despairing schmucks with zero upward mobility.

The arrests are telling a different story, with everyone from the lowest of the low to youngsters with bright prospects among the nouveau ruina et iaculis set ("smash and grab." I hear all the kewl kids are doin' it).

Yeah. They're not doin' it 'cos they haven't got, they're doin' it because it is there. This, of course, occasions another handy excuse: "Many of these criminals are no different from [liberal politician] Nick Clegg, who at the age of 16 narrowly escaped a conviction in Germany for setting fire to a professor's cactus collection for a 'drunken lark.'" -- That sophistry comes from the young-looking Daniel Knowles, who says we hadn't ought to call the sweet young Visigoths "feral scum," asking piously, "What do we do to “feral” animals? Oh yes, we exterminate them." Darn straight, sir, and about damn time. Civil society had 18, 19, 20 or more years to civilise these young Britons and it has failed. Perhaps you will take more care when you bring up the next crop and will be more minded of where the blame belongs when a child misbehaves, when a person reaches adulthood with so little regard for the discipline that makes us more than mere animals that they will burn and loot on impulse, that they'll throw rocks at shop windows and their fellowmen with no more concern than if they were skipping stones across a lake. British parents -- inheritors of the proud traditions of a nation that once bragged of having civilized the world -- failed a significant percentage of their children.

And sadly, too few of their savage offspring will get what feral dogs get -- and they will deserve it more. I doubt most of them can be salvaged. If you think they have made a mess of things now, just wait until more of them start voting!

WANT

The Well-Armed Garden Gnome (Gnomus Correiaus).

Unk linked, Tam likes. Me like, too.

Your Dollars At Work?

I don't know how much of it is tax money and how much of it is dimes from schoolchildren and grants from gazillionaires, but I'm sure you'll be, as the late Hubert Horatio Humphrey was wont to say, "as pleased as punch" that the FDR Memorial is nearing completion at the southern tip of -- where else -- Roosevelt Island in the East River off Manhattan. Or perhaps you'll find it annoying.

Like so many of these all-modern, grandiose pieces of fluff, this one will feature a big, empty nothing, a vast and roofless room of stone lapped 'round by the swirling river; a place where, one supposes, "a traveller from an antique land might" lean upon his shovel -- and despair. "Round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, the lone and level waters stretch far away."

--Maybe it's just me, but I'm starting to get a little sick of the fad for empty spots in the landscape with some cryptic and psuedosophisticated allusions to something happening or some famous dead person, bereft of context and chosen, as nearly as I can tell, on the basis of Nazi war criminal Albert Speer's esthetic of "ruin value." (I am reminded that Gutzon Borglum's plans for Mt. Rushmore included a well-protected artificial cavern explaining who was portrayed and why -- yeah, that didn't get built as planned, either, though some effort was made in '98 to leave the future a hint). We can do better than this; we will leave our distant descendants unintentional enigmas enough without going out of our way to create them.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Step By Step

First, they disarm you and chide you when thugs attack at will. Then they track you and then? Why, it must be that pesky freedom to communicate that's at fault: "British Prime Minister David Cameron said the government, police and intelligence services were looking at whether there should be limits on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook that have been used to spread disorder."

I realize the UK has tradition and law different to the U.S. Bill of Rights, but this seems a grave step even in that light. C'mon, guys, Orwell was writing a warning, not a blueprint!

Update: looks as if there's a UK mask ban in the works, too. It's shaved heads and grey coveralls for the lot of you, then. Up, now, up and in front of the telescreen for Physical Jerks! (or Yoga on BBC4).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

British Riots

We still share large chunks of language with the UK but there's been a lot of cultural drift. It is difficult to comprehend the reactions -- official and otherwise -- to the rioting there. After three days of violence and no end in sight, police are "considering" shooting with less-lethal* bullets and/or using some version of water cannon. Or not; 9 August produced this gem from Home Secretary Theresa May: "The way we police in Britain is not through use of water cannon. The way we police in Britain is through consent of communities." How's that working so far, Ma'am?

It's not that we don't have riots in the U.S.; consider the 1992 LA riots. The LA riots are also an example of the response of decent citizens, from armed Korean shopowners defending their businesses (sometimes while police fled!) to individual heroes like Bobby Green Jr., who saw live coverage of truck driver Reginald Denny getting beat up, ran into the mess and got Denny to the hospital in the truck the mob had pulled him from -- or Rev. Bennie Newton, who got between rioters and another victim and stood them off, saying, "Kill him and you have to kill me, too."

In community-consent, gun-controlled Britain, online sales of baseball bats are way, way up; one can only hope they arrive in time -- and that the police and courts are not too tough on persons who use same in self-defense. (I was surprised that cricket bats were not preferred but they are less suited to the application). Bobby Green and Reverend Newton's counterparts are, thus far, conspicuous by their absence.

An armed individual is a citizen. A disarmed individual is a victim. I do not believe there is any moral imperative for the peaceable to bow to aggressors; quite the reverse. I'm considerably more comfortable with lethal force used against persons in the act of harming others than when it is applied long after the fact.
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* U.S. media, forgetting their own previous reporting of the ill effects of rubber and plastic bullets at close range, keeps saying "non-lethal." I do hope the British police know better.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

State Fair! State Fair!

State unfair. Not the event, mind you -- the circumstances.

Tam and I went to the Indiana State Fair yesterday. A hot, dry morning, it started out pretty well, though, alas, the heffalumps were on break. But we wandered through the tractors and nifty old-timey things from steam engines to button-hooks and a twivel. (I bought a cookbook with images of kerosene stoves every few pages; I had to go look 'em up. You can still buy them, though current production is smaller than the grand kitchen ranges of old. When I'm rich and build myself a 1920s/30s style camping trailer? Bookmarked!).

We enjoyed buffaloburgers and a "bloomin' potato" (marvelous!), I had some soft-serve and Tam desserted on a free sample of tasty fried catfish, stopped by the DNR building and saw huge, shy paddlefish (they'll come right to the edge of their pond but deftly demur when children reach in to pet them) and were about to round the curve to the midway when it spattered rain, then quit.

Off in the distance, we could see rain pouring over the edges of clouds like water running over an open palm -- but it was going away from us and the sun was peeping out overhead. Undaunted, we pressed on until my (rebuilt) knee lit up like pinball machine.

I started limping. It started to get dark. Tam was hoping to get to the Ferris wheel, I had serious doubts; she could see how gimped-up I was getting and agreed to retreat.

We planned to stop on the way back at the catfish booth but the skies suddenly-- Well, look here:This is from inside the FFA building, where I took refuge while Tam got her catfish dinner (I had a piece -- it was good). Poured down rain like that for twenty minutes, paused for a quick break, and started up again, only harder!

Snack et, we waited for what looked like another break in the deluge, ran off, and got soaked. Stopped at another shelter (literally, an open-sided picnic shelter across from the elephant riding area) for another especially heavy bout. By that point, I was laughing. My knee still hurt, I was soaked to the skin and I looked like a drowned rat. Tam was doing a little better thanks to her always-worn baseball cap (I'm fair but she's fairer; under conditions where I tan, she burns) but still soaked and we were starting to worry about our cameras and cell phones, too.

At the next slackening of the rain, we made a dash for the car and reached it just in time for the rain to pick up while I got the car unlocked. But at least there wasn't much traffic when we got underway!

--This was because most of the time, it was raining too hard to see the lines on the street. I cleverly decided to take Keystone north; it's a main road, well-lit, well-marked and well-drained, after all; it would be best.

Oh, yeah. "Best:"Did I mention the famous Fair Train rails cross Keystone? They do. The crossing signals and gates had malfunctioned. IMPD had a couple of officers there, who, after a half an hour and all manner of traffic idiocy, managed to get sufficiently co-ordinated with the train to open the gates. (I can't blame them for that; there are layers and layers of organization between a patrolman and the Transportation Museum conductor and engineer on the train). You can just about tell where the police car and overhead warning flasher are, a half-block-plus ahead. The street is firmly divided by a high median for the entire block: there's no turning back, though that didn't stop a 4WD pickup truck from so doing, cutting across a lane with barely enough room and clearing the concrete by inches.

--We made our way north, only to encounter even more traffic foolishness occasioned by a foot of water at the intersection of Keystone and Kessler Avenue. It came up over 4 or five blocks, so the hasty and foolhardy would peel out of the far left lane and squishing up the middle or right lane, throwing a huge rooster-tail, until they'd realize their car was starting to run funny from you know, an awash tailpipe or sopping-wet fanbelt, and then try to push back into the slightly higher left lane, leaving a nice wake as they did so. Waves were washing across the sidewalk -- and the curbs are very high in that spot.

Eventually, we cleared the intersection, made a quick shopping stop, returned to Roseholme Cottage and dried off, chilled and chatter-toothed. I was so worn out (from a five-hour adventure!) that I fell asleep shortly afterwards.

On the good news side, I'm pretty sure our drought is over.

PS: Next time, if the weather is bad, I wanna drive one of these:Oooooo, I gotcher "high water." I gotcher "uncrossable median." Yep. Right dang here: Minneapolis Moline, baby!

Blind To History

It must be true: I saw it on CNN with my own eyes. Had I not, I would have taken it for a crude attempt at irony.

The topic was the upcoming recall elections (and preceding turmoil over public employee unions) in Wisconsin. The news network had dredged up a couple of (dimmish) leading lights pro and con and was grilling them about the expressed will of the people or some such thing. The pro-recall/pro-public union side was represented by (surprise, surprise) a local SEIU officer, who shared this gem: "Things were settled here, then these outsiders came and and stirred them up, made things disruptive."

The SEIU officer happened to be African-American and I'd guess her at my age or more. It's hard to suppose she doesn't remember the last time troubles in one city or state were blamed on "disruptive outsiders," but you'd've thought she would have at least read about it in U.S. History class?

Monday, August 08, 2011

Oh, There's Tough History A-Comin'

Yessireee, where's your breadlines? I do fear they're coming. --Though it was pretty amusing watching television pundits and Fed.gov flacks chiding Standard & Poor's this morning. Why, how dare S&P downgrade the Federal credit rating!

(Mind you, if you or I or S&P's top dog in Sovereign Ratings ran our personal finances the way the Federal Gummint does, we'd have creditors camping outside the gates of our palatial estate, waiting to repossess our Lamborghini, our Caddy and the Isetta used to drive to the mailbox -- and we'd be making minimum wage. What d'ye suppose our credit rating would be?)

But I was going to talk about The Poor. Various pols and pundits bemoan the "heartless" United States and the horrible, horrible manner in which the poor are treated here; these experts (or is it "poverty pimps?" It's so hard to tell them apart) say we need to be more like Europe. Oh, yeah? Here's frikkin' factiod: "The poverty level in the United States, with 12.65%, is comparable to the one in France, where 14% of the population live with less than 880 euros per month." All right, almost-poor folk, line up -- we've got to kick a few thousand of you back below the line so's our government can be as compassionate as the French Republic.Link

Here's a clue, Washington: as long as you are paying people to be poor, you'll have no dearth of them; as long as you hamstring (or outbid!) the small businesses that would employ them, you'll have unemployed people and you'll be helping to jack up what the poor have to pay for basic necessities. The latter is something that is often overlooked but there's a thumb on the scales every time anyone buys groceries (or anything else): government "help" means you pay more, from the price supports on sugar -- you wanna know why there is HFCS in your soda? -- to food stamps, it all gets rolled back into the price paid by everyone or sliced from their pay. There's no free money from the government, it's all wages, prices...and taxes.

And y'know who's hardest hit? Strictly speaking (and assuming they've signed up for all the goodies), it's not the poorest; it's the hardworkin' schmoes who are barely outta (official) poverty. Step over that politically-set line and blam! No more cheese for you!

Me, I'm harsh; I'd fix that by not givin' away cheese to nobody, nohow. There is an inflationary spiral caused by government siphoning off money at every transaction (money of which well less than a third is by any stretch used for "compassionate" programs and most of that goes for the nice offices and nice salaries of the people who administer the help) that has pushed up prices and (dare I say it?) wages, creating a difficult gap for anyone on their way up from the bottom.

What would the talking heads on TV do to "fix" it? "Tax the big corporations more," a couple of 'em clamored on CNN this morning, and never you mind that every dime that corporation takes in comes from you and me; tax them harder and they raise the price I pay. Me and you and the poverty-level family down the way, that is. Some fix.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Patches

Patches you don't even have to jump in the river for, in fact. There are plenty of super-kewl gunbloggy patches out there, with (IMO) Thirdpower's "Unorganized Militia" patches being the best. Tam's fond of her Gadsden flag Navy Jack and INGO hat patches, too.

But there's a new patch option that may win more than a little love: bacon patches! Yep. Bacon. And don't thank me -- I'd'a never found 'em without a pointer from Matt at Jerking the Trigger.

Mom's Back In Hospital

She must have fallen about mid-day -- no memory of it; woke up on the floor with a bad bump on her noggin and three broken ribs. This time, she called my baby brother. (I think she's running the list in reverse alphabetical order: Roberta, M------, B-----).

Of course this was cause for another ambulance trip to St. Nearby, where my sibs and my Nurse-Practitioner niece and I visited. Current best guess is, too good a job at keeping her sodium intake down: nobody told her that there is a lower limit, too. Looks like she'll be be in the hospital until they're sure her chemistry is okay and that the bump on the head didn't do more than minor damage.

Wanna guess who's getting one of those "medical alert" help-summoning thingamabobs for a present?

A Decayed Institution

Claire Wolfe titled her post "Copitude." I think she's being too nice, considering the comment she quotes, in which John Barnes, a police union president in Michigan, says of legislators (supposedly all Republican) who want the police to pay into their own retirement and insurance, "If we cannot earn their respect we will do what we have always done; hit it with a flashlight until we gain compliance."

I still like to think there are plenty of good, decent LEOs out there, men and women for whom "hitting...with a flashlight" is well down on the list of ways to gain compliance and who don't equate the workings of a legislature with a resisting suspect, but I'm reminded of Gresham's Law, "Bad money drives out good," and wonder if it doesn't apply to police as well.*

Certainly Mr. Barnes' comments don't do anything at all to allay my concerns. Quite some while back, I wondered if police were not turning into a sort of new Equestrian Order, just as the office of President of the United States seems to be accreting power and authority in a way similar to the evolution of the office of Emperor did for Rome. Oh, it's slow, slow; but the policeperson of today is a very different figure to the Officer Friendly of my youth, even as he was not quite the same as the beat-walking neighborhood policeman of my Dad's childhood, known to adults by his first name.

Everyone loses; policing is a lot harder when the citizenry view the police as an occupying army -- especially when that's a largely accurate assessment.

Try beating that into submission with your flashlight, John Barnes.
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* The preferred version is "Bad money drives out good when the rate of exchange is set by law," for instance when the silver content of U.S. half-dollars was substantially reduced in the 1960s and the old, mostly-silver ones rapidly vanished from circulation. In the case of police, a sworn officer is a sworn officer is a sworn officer and you're required to comply with the lawful orders of Matt G, Lawdog or the mad dogs of Canton, OH all the same, though I'd bet only the first two know who Robert Peel was or what he had to say about LEO ethics.

Yes, I Overslept Again

I think it is the poison ivy.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

I'd Like To Thank The Hugo Nominating Committee

...Except that's not a Hugo rocketship, it's a V-2. Solid steel and plenty nice, however.

They told me if Germany reunited, it would only be a matter of time before they started making V-2s again. They didn't tell me I'd be able to buy them from Amazon! (But use Tam's link; it costs you nothing and puts a little money in her pocket).

Weltraumladen makes these in varying degrees of detail, right up to a US$90.00 version that looks almost ready for launch. Nor are they blind to history; among the books they offer is Planet Dora, written by a survivor of the concentration-camp factory where the rockets were built.

SFX: A Gentle Snore

::snork!:: ::splutter::

WhaddizzthisIdon'even.... Oh.
Mornin'.
Um, I seem to have oversleeped, which is both good and bad:

A) Good: I rilly, rilly needed the sleep.

B) Bad: Have I mentioned that I walked through a patch of poison ivy, breaking into Mom's with the EMT's? I did. I did not notice it. I was wearing short sleeves. No one in my family is highly reactive to the stuff (which is good) but I'm not at the center of that bell curve.

Seems that I picked it up mostly on my left hand (where the urushiol only got through my hardworkin' thick skin at one point), transferred it to my right elbow and forearm, right knee, and right hand (thus far unaffected and thus we realize The Blessings Of Manual Labor), and thus back to the left elbow and knee, plus a little blob on my face, right across my lips at the left.

I did not realize what was going on until about 18 hours later, which was a little late. Fortunately, that "low-reactive" dealio means it's just well-scattered itchies in the affected areas and two kinds of itch cream help a lot. Generic once-a-day OTC antihistamine helps even more -- when I take it on time. I was about four hours late today. This is, as I suggested, somewhat suboptimal.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Link Wray

Was he from the future or outer space? --For sure not outta this school district.

It's Got That Glow...

Lamp. Kind of overpriced. Still, WANT.

What Did She Say?

TV Reportrix, yesterday morning: "It was the hottest July on record and August hasn't cooled down. Here at [Name] High School, student athletes are taking a toll on the heat...."

I was aghast. Sure, I snickered -- but on what strange planet does that construction even begin to make sense? It's not even good Pennsy Dutch of the "Throw me down from the hayloft my hat," variety!

Which is a pity, 'cos you could probably fix that by tattooing a hex sign on the offender's forehead.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

National Moto+Cycle Website

By golly, Broad Ripple's own National Moto+Cycle is on the air -- or the Web, actually. These are the folks building a classic bicycle with modern materials and offering motorized versions reminiscent of very early motorcycles. They're also a dealer for other fine bicycles, including some electric-assist types.

I'll be keeping an eye on them -- and saving up.

House Painting, Continued

At this point, it's more like house scraping, continued; my nephew, Dauntless Ben, continues undeterred. The whole thing has been done with a heat gun (!!!) and a hand scraper, except for a few spots where it took judicious application of a torch. The last couple of layers were a thick, decent-quality latex, indifferently applied; it stuck to whatever was under it (peeling paint, bare wood, whatever) and comes off, reluctantly, in long strips. --For over two weeks! (He tried multiple methods for the first week. All of them were s-l-o-w. This one worked best.)

Right around half a wall (and a little replacing/repairing) left and then it's on to the painting, starting with a good primer.

I have got to take out five old screens and redd 'em up -- that'll be my big fix/paint contribution to the project. Already have the primer (Killz2). It's about time I went and bought the paint. Probably Saturday.