Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve Day

     By dint of remarkable luck and a complete absence of planning, I have New Year's Eve off for once.  All day, in fact.  --Some planning was involved, I guess, but not for a holiday.  I was holding back a vacation day in case Mom needed additional surgery, which has been put in hold in favor of less-invasive treatment.  So the left-over day was "use it or lose it," and today was the very last chance to use it.

     So far, I have slept in extravagantly, followed by a breakfast of such stunning decadence that Tamara demurred on one course: she skipped the stuffed cherry pepper omelet (pickled green cherry peppers, with a thin slice of prosciutto wrapped around some kind of hard, light cheese filling each one -- dice with some olives and hot pickle and you've got a fine omelet filling).  Along with that (and her choice), a small stack of Swedish pancakes with blueberry jam between each layer and a little applewood-smoked bacon on the side.  Yum! 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"Well, Here I Am..."

     ...Which is one of the last lines from the Firefly episode, "Objects In Space."  Set during a sleep shift, it has a certain dreamlike or nightmarish quality, which is about how I feel at the two-thirds point of the three days that go from "early" to "earlier" and back to my normal shift, when I pull one of the earlybird fill-ins.  Usually they're just one week in three, but between holidays and vacations, I have been the predawn engineer every other Sunday-Monday for several weeks now and more to follow.

     I'm not complaining -- it's mostly indoors and there's no heavy lifting! -- but between lost sleep and being awake when one usually sleeps and vice-versa, I inevitably get a funny Monday evening stretch of wakefulness, having come home and stayed awake as long as I could manage, then slept deeply and fast and bobbed back to the surface a long way from Tuesday morning.  I'm not usually awake enough to take on anything very challenging, so I just read, watch TV or hang out online for awhile, drifting until the sandman calls once more.


Monday, December 29, 2014

I'm Tired

     ...Tired of running as fast as I can just to not lose ground too quickly.  The bank that holds my home loan keeps pressing me to swap my 30-year, fixed-rate loan for a 15-year one, same payments, fixed and lower interest, but they want $2.5K up front and it all sounds too good to be true.  What's in it for them?  Then there's the little problem of just having bought a car and therefore not having a couple grand to sling around.

     Found a network of deep cracks in the driver's-side front tire of that car, along the sidewall near the rim.  Not sure what that is but it doesn't look promising.  May need new tires before winter is over.   

     I need a new mattress.  The one I have now was old when I moved to this house, seven years ago, and it's hurting my back to sleep on it.  (I don't use box springs, that's way too soft.  I'd sleep on a 3" slab of foam like an RV mattress but it's too much trouble finding the stuff and it's unfriendly to fitted sheets when you do).  Well, there's $500 or more and that's not happening soon.

     There are still funky things with the plumbing and some of the natural gas piping seems iffy to me in terms of support and routing; I've got a plumber coming in to have a look and give me estimates.  I'll do some water plumbing myself but we're short on shutoffs and some of the things I want redone had been plumbed with field-crimped PEX, fine if you're a plumber and use the tools all day every day but impractical for doing one's own work.  Yeah, more expense.

     Meanwhile, my peers and I went without raises from 2008 until, h'mm, a year and a half ago, and that was 1%, with  more of the same to follow.  Not complaining, either: at least a half-dozen of the other technical-type people have been laid off.  Meanwhile the grocer, the mechanic, the utilities and skilled trades all want more.  At least gasoline prices are down.

     But it's tiring.  At the end of it, if I am very lucky, I'll have a house paid for and enough coming in to pay utilities and eat.  And that's if I work until I'm 72.  50 is the new 30, right?

     UPDATE: So, the plumber just added some hangers for the line; he used the good bubbles and found no leaks.   But the "Check Engine" light came on on my way home from work.  Oh, and have I mentioned we haven't had any dial tone since Friday?  Internet service is int rmitt nt, too, which makes Tam exercise her vocabulary in interesting ways.  I just ran the phone tree with AT&T twice; asking for high-speed Internet repair got me to "Your call did not go through."  Asking for phone line repair got me deep enough into the automated process that they sent a big old slightly-hot jolt of ringing voltage down the line, which did make my phone ring (weak ramping to normal) and lo, we now have dial tone -- and the robot proudly told me, "The problem does not appear to be in AT&T's equipment."  This is incorrect: there's a water leak at the neighborhood terminal box (or whatever you call it, honkin' big transition from glass or a fat copper digital multipair cable or wigwaggy-flaggy to the old-fashioned  UTP) and it's messed up our phone service before and been "repaired," I suspect with a wad of chewing gum which has now dried out.

Patrami Hash?

     As I suspected, thick-cut pastrami makes a very nice hash -- diced potatoes, diced pastrami, a little onion, a little this and that.  Yum!  I scrambled an egg in the middle of mine and splashed on a little hot sauce.  Any of the brisket-based deli meats will do (or you own home-made brisket or roast beef leftovers) for hash -- in my experience, the home-cooked ones are best but it's hard to go too far wrong.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

"Family Christmas" Was Saturday Evening

     And it was nice.  Some years, it's been kind of stressful but this year everyone who could attend was determined to get along.  My great-nephew and his step-brother (ages 5-and-half and 4-and-a-half) went on some kind of sugar-fueled small-boy rampage involving new toys and a game of catch with plastic cars, but even that was relatively pleasant and avoided running into people or furniture.

     My Mom gave new anti-SAD lights to the adults, which will be a welcome addition to the office at Roseholme Cottage.  Look out, short days, Mom's doin' Science back at you! 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Happy Day-After-Boxing-Day To You!

     I do hope the Brits and Canadians aren't too bruised?  --After an entire day devoted to pugilism, I mean.  But they do have so much fun with it.

     Christmas (etc.) traditions around the world are not quite as uniform as you might think, and those socks or that tie may be a much better present than you realized -- at least, if you encounter Iceland's Yule Cat!  (No, not just in the funny pages.)  So I hope you neither cried nor pouted, and that you received a nice new sweater in plenty of time.  (Rannie approves, BTW.  But she would.)

Friday, December 26, 2014

About That Clumsy Anti-gun PSA

     --The one that shows a child taking a handgun from his mother's dresser and bringing it to school so his teacher can "take it away?"  Even the State of California Department of Justice (Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General) "Tips for Gun Owners" page clearly addresses the basic notion, showing it to be dangerous and a violation of state law.  (Yes, California has "safe storage" laws, with the express intent of preventing minors from having unsupervised access to firearms.  Agree or not, there they are).

     ...And the page's "Rules For Kids" section is straight from NRA's "Eddie Eagle" gun safety program: Stop!  Don't touch!  Leave the area.  Tell an adult.  AG Kamala Harris and the NRA, at nearly opposite ends of the political spectrum, agree word-for-word on what a child should do when encountering an unsecured firearm -- and it isn't "take it to school and give it to your teacher."

     I found that out with a fifteen-second web search. The production company could have done the same but instead produced a message so inept that even many anti-gun people are crying foul or "false flag," and just this once, I don't blame them.   Oh, it's fun when one's opponents make mistakes, but this was so over-the top that it's almost sad -- or, if applied in the real world, tragic.

     (The video has been made "private" on YouTube, but the producer's web-page still has a Vimeo version, which shows up in search engines if you search on her name.)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Fink On The Shelf

     Every Day, No Days Off uses the Shelf Elf to wish you a Merry -- and un-surveilled -- Christmas!  Never thought I'd agree with Dick Cheney about this, but in this one instance...well.

Holiday Just In Case

     Internet service at Roseholme Cottage has gone very iffy this Christmas Eve, so I'm posting this (with a timer on it) while I can.

     Merry Christmas to you and yours, or appropriate wishes for whatever midwinterish holiday your family celebrates on or about this day.  Humans have been marking the shortest day of the year since about the time they figured out there was one, and whether by Divine Plan, some careful calendar-nudging and/or chance, quite a few religions have significant dates that fall near it.  Celebrate!  Feast! --And know that the seasons cycle onward, the planet yet spins, and sunlight and warmth will return.  There are a couple of months of heavy slogging to get through, and fortified by this holiday, slog we will. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ferguson, Berkeley...

     I was going to link to the latest news out of Berkeley, MO, which is right next to Ferguson, MO in more ways than the map shows.  Alas, the "major news sites" are so full of adware and tracking bugs that with ad- and script-blocking turned on, most won't even load at all.  You don't need that junk sneaking into your computer, so the best I have is a snippet of live-streamed video in which some idiot lobs a firework at the gas station where the latest mess occurred, while the place is crowded with both police and local citizens.

     Tempting as it might be to just let the whole place burn to the ground  (the dead, after all, get along just fine and treat everyone around them exactly the same), I doubt anyone could throw a lit firework into a gas station from far enough away to be safe if the place did go up.  The act is a microcosm of the greater mess: if the fire catches, neither side is getting out alive.  They're packed in too close and, like the crowd at the gas station, when a new ball of flame arcs in, they're just milling about.

     Not unexpectedly, a nearby convenience store was looted, too, and you can find raw video of that on the web, too.  One of them concentrates more on another amateur photojournalist, stepping over debris and through a shattered door with her smartphone held high, looking around as though expecting a clerk to pop up from behind the jumbled mess of the counter.

     Those of us on the sidelines are milling about just as uselessly as the crowd at the gas station, everyone trotting out their old familiar slogans and attitudes, examining the situation though the lens of our own preconceptions and -- surprise! -- reaching the same old moss-covered conclusions.  In the latest mess, police shot a young man who they say pointed a gun at them -- and indeed, a gun was found at the scene.  There doesn't look to be any video of the event, so it's all down to eyewitness testimony.  Nope, there is surveillance video and it appears to support the officer's version of events.  Will that help?  Time will tell.

     Might be time everyone took a giant step back.  Even if just for one day.  25th of December ought to be a suitable choice.

     If you were looking to me for answers or even well-formulated questions, better keep looking.  I haven't got any.  Things didn't get this bad in St. Louis -- or anywhere else --  overnight and they're unlikely to get better in any greater hurry.  But it sure wouldn't hurt if everyone would stop stirring the pot.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

In Anti-Gun Land....

     .....Every day is Rat-On-Your-Parents Day!

     Yes, go look -- it's a PSA that suggests kids ought to take guns from home and bring them to their teachers at school. (So they can "feel safe.")  Kids, don't do this.  It doesn't end well for you or your family.  It's a Federal crime -- several Federal crimes, in fact.

     Watch it and picture, instead of a gun, a Bible, a Torah or a science textbook that contradicts their account of creation.  Maybe Mom or Dad's copy of National Review or Mother Jones, a union membership card, a Masonic ring....  "Here, Teacher.  I don't feel safe with this in my house."

     This isn't a good trend.  The video shows a clean, orderly home; the adult female, presumably the child's mother, is well-groomed and calm; there is no sign the child's home is anything but a little above-average, or that the child himself is mistreated.  The only "bad" thing in the home is a poorly-secured firearm (and just how well have you childproofed your power outlets and household chemicals?).  But it's A-OK in the PSA producer's view for the child to substitute his own judgement for that of his parent -- or at least it is when the topic is a G-U-N.

     Maybe this PSA just ignorantly well-meant but I figure book-burnings aren't all that far behind.  "Wrongthink!  Ungood!"  And oh, how we will come to love Big Brother.

Monday, December 22, 2014

My Job Description Says "Tech."

     In fact, it says "Engineering Technician."  It does not say "Witch."  When you call me with a minor problem in something I'm not all that familiar with, five minutes before it absolutely, positively needs to be running -- and it's able to do so as-is -- it's probably not going to be changed to suit your desires. 

     Maybe next time, you'll check it well ahead of need?  Probably not.

     The list of co-workers I'd willingly go mountain-climbing with keeps getting shorter.  "Oh, damn, all these carabiners are no good.  And wow, that rope sure is frayed...."  Harrumph.

The Sign On The 50-Caliber Rifle Case:

"In case of alien attack: remove from case, load, point directly at menace and squeeze trigger slowly. There will be a loud sound. Repeat until problem is eliminated.  Hearing protection required." 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

You Know You're Reclusive...

     ...When you dread the human contact of opening your mail.

     Sheesh.  I'm a monster.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

It's Saturday

     Shouldn't you be playing outside, or in traffic, or something?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dead Leader Films: Then vs. Now, Us vs. Them

     2004: Team America: World Police is released.  North Korea's high and mighty whatever for life Kim Jong-Il never commented publicly, though his government did ask the Czech Republic to  ban it.  They refused, somewhat dismissively.

     2006: some Brits produce Death Of A President, a mockumentary about the assassination of George W. Bush.  It wins the Prize of the International Critics at the Toronto Film Festival. Senator Hilary Clinton, no fan of the then-serving President tells the press, "I think it's despicable. I think it's absolutely outrageous. That anyone would even attempt to profit on such a horrible scenario makes me sick."
     The U. S. Federal government does....nothing.  There is no computer hacking of the studio that made it, no drone strike on writer, producer or director, and Senator Clinton's comments are typical of the most violent reaction out of Washington.

     2010: the Red Dawn remake, with Red China cast as the aggressor, is about to be released.  Leaked copies of the script find their way to the People's Republic of China, which complains in state-rune newspapers.  MGM goes through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Studio suddenly decides the film would play a lot better in the PRC if they weren't the bad guys.  At least, that's what MGM says.  Lots of post-production later, the invader is now North Korea.  Released in 2012, film does not do well at the box office.

     2012: Innocence of Muslims, a 14-minute film clip, is released on YouTube and is blamed for widespread rioting in the Middle East by people already much inclined to anti-U.S. rioting.  Murder and misplaced apologizing ensue. 

     2014: Sony prepares to release The Interview, a film about the assassination of the North Korea's leader, gets hacked by claimed agents of same, backs down.  Some cinemas attempt to replace The Interview with Team America: World Police, a plan which is nixed by Paramount.

     ...Sudden Spinelessness Syndrome?  Norks tired of being the bad guys?  (Yeah, well -- shoe fits, donnit?)  Film studios continuing their spiral into nebbishy irrelevance?

     Whatever.  This doesn't look like where we came in but the picture is getting terribly dull.  Hey, didja hear the one about the auteur who turned a charming (and relatively short) fantasy novel for children into a film trilogy with huge, bloody battles between orcs, elves, humans, dwarves, hobbits, dragons, wizards and whatever else he could throw into it?  Or the SF film that tossed science out the window in favor of fancy images and the Transforming Power Of Love?

     I'll try to barf quietly.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

THINK, Dammit!

     Most politicans and a sadly-high proportion of leader-type "activists" are scam or con artists of some stripes.  They deserve to be argued with, debated, questioned severely.  But your neighbors -- even that [INSERT NAME OF POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY OR PARTY HERE] you keep running into at the grocery or hairdresser's/barber shop -- are largely sincere.

    I saw an interesting bumper sticker yesterday evening, a U.S. flag-like graphic with the stars in the blue field replaced by the word "Think" and below the stripes, the phase continues, "it's patriotic."

      A quick check online shows it being marketed to the liberal/Democrat folks, but really-- I know it's fun to claim one's political opponent are unthinking, lock-step fools and dupes, but that's utter BS. "The science is clear..." "Anyone with half a brain will realize..." No. There are some smart cookies out there who have -- at least by their lights -- thought things through and yet they came to conclusions utterly at odds with your own.

     We all like to think we're clever, smartest rats in the maze; and if there's a thing or two you're especially good at, you might be, at least with regard to those things. On everything else, you're just like the rest of us nekkid apes: you've got some information and you are making your very best guess.

     Surprise, we don't all guess -- pardon me, reason -- our way to the same place. It's not necessarily due to stupidity, or conformity or lack of trying. It sure doesn't mean you shouldn't think.

     Think -- and realize the other bozos on the bus are thinking too, at least as often as not. Think, and understand that even with the best will in the world and the greatest determination to be guided by fact, we still don't all end up with the same notions on anything more complicated than which way is down. And that's okay; we've got centuries of working out how to get along in a nation and world full of disagreement.

     Think. It really is patriotic. It beats the alternative.

Good In An Omelet

     How about ham, pastrami, BellaVitano and Jarlsberg Swiss cheeses?  Oh, it's fine!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Things Seen In A Photo

     No, Rickn8or, it's not a cat but a bat!  --A plush toy bat, that is:
     The photo was taken in low light, with a cameraphone.  Looks like a chalk drawing.

     NJT and Garrett Lee: well spotted!  The typewriter is indeed a Remington Portable.
     It's my "axe," man. One of them, anyway.

Cats, Books, Christmas

     The holidays are an especially cluttered time at Roseholme Cottage:
     I think we're going to need some larger shelves.  Huck and Rannie are right at home, in new play/scratching structures.

     Yes, the shelving projects are nowhere near done. That far wall around the windows?  Going to be full of bookshelves.  The other side of the archway is about a third done, and the wall behind the couch will eventually get a set of display shelves, most with plexiglass doors.  That was going to be an Ikea hack and may still be, though they discontinued my first choice.  For some of us, it takes years to really "move in" to a new home.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Breakfast Photo Op Lost

     Again.  I made Swedish Pancakes this morning and each one is a different map of another new planet, cratered or covered in shifting hues like Mars.  They're lovely, but they're also better hot than at room temperature and when you are running a batch through the same skillet, there's no time while cooking to go fetch a camera.

     So I got a tasty breakfast, but alas, mapping the uncharted moons of a distant star will have to wait for another time.

     Sidenote 1: I used one of those non-stick green ceramic pans; they sell a pancake-specific flipover version, essentially two frying pans hinged together.  The non-stick performs as advertised, and the close-to-flip arrangement works fine.  Found the gadget at the drugstore with a low, low price and a big "As seen on TV" label, and decided to give it a try.

     Sidenote 2: My sort of crepe-like "Swedish" pancakes are thin and a bit heavy, just flour, milk and egg, roughly one cup of the first two items and two eggs, scaled linearly for however much you want.  Served stacked high, with butter and sugar or jam between layers, it'll cure what ails you on a chilly morning.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Get Me Tired And...

     This is pretty much what the inside of my head sounds like:


Dear BATFE and DHS:

     When you've lost public radio....  (In fairness, Ira Glass is pretty skeptical about, well, just about everything, as close as this generation gets to H. L. Mencken.)

Oh, Darn It!

     Tam just started watching the classic, incredible The X-Files episode, "Jose Chung's From Outer Space," and I don't have time to sit down and watch it.  Truly one of television's finest moments and The X-Files at the top of its form.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday Lunch

     Meatloaf, truffle mashed potatoes (!), Brussels sprouts with bacon -- and chili wings for Tam (plus a taste for me).  Yum!

     You think I've been slaving over a hot stove?  Not hardly!  I had to work the early morning shift.  It's all out of the deli counter at the neighborhood grocer's -- and darned good, too!

     "Lata vita laniatus"

The Illegitimati?

     I've been reading a fascinating book (borrowed from Tam's bookshelves), by John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War: A New History.

     Don't any of you tell me how it comes out -- I'm about three-quarters of the way through.  Gaddis has good things to say about Eisenhower and Truman, Reagan and the second John Paul; Nixon and most of the Soviet leadership, not so much.  A recurring theme in the book is the legitimacy of governments: how it is derived, how it is maintained, how it is lost.  Also the degree to which a government is subject to its own laws.

     It's a worrying perspective.  The Federal government of the United States these days shrugs off domestic violations far more serious than actions that were once shattering revelations -- and it passes with little comment. 

     In 1989, the Soviet Union looked as strong as ever but was, in fact, balanced on the edge.  One more tiny shift and--  It collapsed.  The United States is the last remaining Cold War Superpower -- but is the clock ticking on our own 1989?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

DirecTV Is A Sack Of Bastards

     These days, if you have a decent antenna, there's more on over-the-air TV than ever before, including a nice selection of rerun-and-old-movie channels, multiple streams from PBS, local weather and music videos.  Add one of the video-via-Internet widgets from Google, Amazon or Roku, and what more could you want? 

     Once upon a time it didn't work that way; there was only cable and cable was expensive and not all that great.  But direct-broadcast Ku-band satellite TV was a brand-new thing, with way more channels than cable and sharp, clear video.  My ex and I signed up for it and wow, there were entire channels devoted to History and Science and even Science Fiction!  It was amazing.

     And then, slowly, it stopped being amazing.  Science gave way to empty-headed glitz about "ancient astronauts" and ill-informed cryptozoology.  History slipped by degrees into a fascination with Hitler that would have made Godwin shudder and Science Fiction was replaced by "SyFy," complete with cage-match wresting, movies about shark-storms and a determination to "get away from that narrow focus."

     The death knell for me was the infamous History Channel "no more white hair" memo, aiming to interview younger, more-telegenic experts, even if their expertise was considerably more limited than that of the paunch & wrinkles set.  Time went on, and the satellite-delivery service started charging more and more for content that had less and less of interest to me.  When I moved to Roseholme Cottage, the "free professional installation" guy kicked up a huge fuss over the number of trees, declared the project impossible, and started to get back into his truck until I argued with him.  ("What do you know about it, lady?"  "It's part of what I do for a living.  I know the dish can 'see' the satellite -- you don't have to take my word for it, look at the one in the neighbor's yard!")  He did a sloppy install -- a single pole, indifferently hammered into the ground -- but it worked and I was stuck with it for a year while the contract ran down.  In the meantime, the provider stopped selling channels "ala carte," and when I tried to restructure my service to remove an expensive movie service and control costs, they managed to stick me with fewer channels and higher bill, with no reverting to the previous deal.

     Then the lousy install started acting up and that was the last straw.  When the contract expired, I cancelled.  They argued with me -- how could I possibly not want their service?  I explained (see above), even going so far as to suggest my disinterest more due to the providers, not the delivery service itself and was told no, that was wrong, the channels were better than ever and the lousy installer was "an isolated incident." I insisted, they eventually accepted -- and have been mail-bombing me ever since.   Hey, no problem, if it shows up in the mail and says "DirecTV," it goes right into the trash unopened.

     Yesterday, they sunk to a new low.  When I got home from work, Tam said, "You got a couple cards."  One was a renewal notice from the Antique Wireless Association, bless 'em, and the other--
     --had one of my more-distant cousins married?  How kewl!

      It's an ad.  Inside the card shown was another flyer, offering a fat month's rebate and -- ahem -- "free professional installation," along with low, low rates...for the first year.  After which it would no doubt balloon back to their typical $100+ per month, for channels with nothing on them I want to see.

     No thanks, DirecTV, and a big ol' Bronx cheer to you for trying to sneak in under the radar.  Your lack of couth is fractal: it's weasels all the way down.  DirecTV is a deceptive sack of bastards -- and they think they're being clever.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Untruth In Advertising

     How can they call it "Chili con carne" when forensic tests show there's not a single speck of circus-roustabout meat in it?

The Earworm Turneth

"It's about that secret base,
 Secret base -- no Martians!"

     (Et interminably cetera.)

Here we go:

Because it’s all about that Secret Base.
Secret Base, no Martians
It’s  all ‘bout that Base, Secret Base, no Martians
It’s  all ‘bout that Base, Secret Base, flyin’ saucers
It’s  Secret  Base, Secret Base.

Yeah we got it then, during World War Two
We made them better, better just like we wanted to
 See, we got that zoom, zoom all the pilots want
Just the right ride in case  you are gonna  confront
I see the spies working  pro-propaganda
We know that pic ain’t real
Y’all drop that agenda
If you got science science just raise ‘em up.
‘Cos the technology ain't perfect
And our research sure won’t stop.
See, our Congress they told us don’t worry about the price
They say the Air Force wants a silent  spaceship in which to fight.
It sure no fake-U-FO photo, Photoshopped up shiny-bright
So if that’s what you’re thinking
Then you best just move along

Because it’s all about that Secret Base.
Secret Base, no Martians
It’s  all ‘bout that Base, Secret Base, no Martians
It’s  all ‘bout that Base, Secret Base, flyin’ saucers
It’s  Secret  Base, Secret Base.

I’m flyin’ a saucer back
Go ahead and tell them scoffers No
Hey, I’m not playing, I know they think they’re tough
But I’m not believing that.
No matter what they try to do, they won’t be tough enough
See, our Congress they told us don’t worry about the price
They say the Air Force wants a silent  spaceship in which to fight.
It sure no fake-U-FO photo, Photoshopped up shiny-bright
So if that’s what you’re thinking
Then you best just move along

Because it’s all about that Secret Base.
Secret Base, no Martians
It’s  all ‘bout that Base, Secret Base, no Martians
It’s  all ‘bout that Base, Secret Base, flyin’ saucers
It’s  Secret  Base, Secret Base.

Because it’s all about that Secret Base.
Secret Base, flyin’ saucers.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Of Course

     Having mused aloud about why I blog and gotten folks worried I might stop (your concern is touching.  I'm not planning on it), naturally this morning I come up blank.

     Some of it is due to the time of year.  I'd kind of like to hide under the bed until after New Year's.

     The holidays are not easy.  I was never much of a holiday person -- more of a "grit my teeth and get through it" type -- I try to get through it with minimum drama rather than ducking out and besides, it was such great fun for the kids.  My family has reached the point where my nieces and nephews have kids of their own and I have trouble keeping track of names and ages.  When they get a little older, it'll be easy ("Amazon gift certificates for everybody!") but at this point, there's still plenty of magic for 'em and I feel obliged to pride a little of it.  Shopping is nearly eighty percent done...and now it's time to check the lists twice.  Oh, oldest two nieces, I'm gonna need your relative-tracking expertise!  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why Do I Do This?

     Blogging is essentially dead, outstripped by platforms that are more succinct (Twitter), more visual (Instagram) or aggressively social (Facebook), stabbed in the back by adware (the gradual perversion of Sitemeter is one example and the flip side would be Technorati's death-by-unprofitability) and generally, by 2014 standatds, sluggish.  Readership has dropped off; I was running a good, steady 500 per day at one point and it has faded and faded; if the trend continues, it'll be back to me and the 'bots like it was when I started.

     Possibly for the best -- there was less pressure then.  As a loner and introvert, anymore I feel kind of hemmed in and elbowed no matter where I am or what I'm doing and yet I find myself complicit in it; in particular Facebook's social feedback is as addicting as it is bad for me.

     Oh, I'm not quitting, but one of the intangibles was looking at the S---meter count and seeing if I'd broken 500.  No more; all things change.

     Hey, ho, another day in the future.  I suspect I'd better enjoy it while it lasts.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

I'm Back! Problem Fixed!

     Sitemeter went rogue, bought up by some kind of adware outfit; they were doing redirects, if you didn't have pop-up blockers, and were especially exploiting Explorer vulnerabilities.  So they're gone now.  So long, Sitemeter, it was good while it lasted, and then it wasn't.

     I fixed my other two blogs, too.

     Later: For the record, I pulled the plug on the stats service at 1,251,010 visits and 1,808,077 page views.

Warring Calibers

     Oh, to heck with it -- I'm gonna invent the .39 Gored Ox, which will actually be 9.9 mm and have terminal ballistics at the mean value for all the rounds between .38 Special and .45 ACP.*  Just 'cos.  And so there can be even more moaning and whizzing in the wind.

     Is gun.  Is not safe.  All of those rounds hurt.  None of them is a sure, 100% one-shot stopper, so, you know -- try to avoid having to do that.  And train well and thoroughly in how, when and why, so if you have to use it, you'll do it right.

     There's a reason for that little cluster of handgun calibers and ballistics from around 3/8" to a bit over 7/16" and it mostly has to do with controllability, not "stopping power."  Might be a lesson in that.
* Possibly not the .44 Magnum, 'cos I have been hit on the palm with a softball bat already.  Ow.  

Monday, December 08, 2014

Another Gun Store Robbed

     Last night, L. E. Firearms got the standard smash-and-grab, this time with a stolen van though the storefront.  But -- for once! -- the bad guys didn't get far.  The criminals managed to wreck a second vehicle, used for their getaway.  Five men were arrested and it appears many of the guns were recovered. 

     I don't know if this is the same bunch who've hit other gun stores over the past year or so, but one can hope.  The trick of running a stolen vehicle through the front of the store is a common method.

     (In other news, sales of heavy duty bollards have shown a surprising uptick....)

Top Of The Workweek

     ...And right now, we're at the point where it's going and up and up.  Fun, right?  So they tell me.

     The TV is running down the hall,* too low for me to easily hear (which, distressingly, is not all that low) and as a result, the back of my mind is sticking together any meaning it can from what filters through.  So far, the stalwart young male anchor has invited viewers to, "Enjoy a World's Fair foot-long, or just become a Maraschino businessman," followed by a an automobile dealer touting their "weatherproof sackbomb."  H'mm, it's not the right world but it seems to be an interesting one.  Oh, be right back; the network news report just told me, "Commenting on Obama's toes, the Toenail Party said to trim them."  Politics has taken a sudden turn and not for the better!
* Oh, dear.  We'd better catch it, then, before the cat does.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Pommy Eggs, What?

     Sunday brunch started out as Eggs Pomodoro, but what I had for meat was a nice Surry Sausage and the cheese topping was Swiss.  So the nice Italian dish went a bit Brittuncular* and there you go:

     From the pan to the plate:
     It picked up some cheese, paprika and mixed pepper along the way.  Tasty!
* From the pen of an irked Roman commentator: Brittunculi, "wretched little Britons." Yeah, well, they outlasted Rome, didn't they?

Sunday? Sunny?

     Why yes.  Yes, to both.  And me with leaves in the yard, too; so there's a plan.

     Breakfast first, and high hopes for it (watch this space!), then a soak in the tub while the day warms as much as it's going to.  And then, then?  Some form of more-or-less useful labor outdoors, and laundry as well. 

Saturday, December 06, 2014

A WENN Christmas

     An outstanding Christmas episode of the AMC gem, "Remember WENN," a series set at a small radio station in Pittsburgh the 1940s.  Video quality is nothing much, but the clever writing and wonderful audio make up for it:

     I thought it was one of the best shows on television -- and it vanished with barely a trace after a few seasons.

     (Cynics will point out that I may be a wee bit prejudiced towards liking this series; after all, the young heroine is a writer, she's from Indiana, and she's working in radio during the Golden Age.  They're probably right.)

Friday, December 05, 2014

It's 1965 All Over Again

     If you ask me, the staff of NASA's Orion program owes Elon Musk a drink.  Once all but shelved, the closer SpaceX's Dragon capsule comes to man rating, the more interest NASA's brass has had in Orion. 

     NASA has launched an unmanned Orion spacecraft, successfully so far, and though it is often compared to the Apollo capsule, the thing is at least as much a "Big Gemini," and NASA's manned space program has reset the clocks to the 1965-66 time frame.  

     Maybe this time they can arrange to stay where they go.

     N.B.: Tam thinks I'm three years off.  She's got a point.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

The More I See Of People, The More I Love My Cats

    Or did I want the Mencken line about how, "Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats," maybe?

     The latest series of jabs in the mutual strawman-wrestling match among leftie "Social Justice Warriors" on one side and a loose association of right-wing/"Men's Rights" types on the other has reached truly elementary-school levels of behavior.  Not content with doxxing and (at least threatened) SWATting, which, while despicable, are at least mostly in the category "things grown-ups do," the contestants have moved on to name-calling (the boys have gleefully and predictably adopted the SJW appellation for them, "shitlord") and a string of crude rape jokes on Facebook, starting with, "What's the difference between jam and jelly?" and proceeding downhill from there.  What's next?  --Probably a careful campaign of writing calumnies on washroom walls, followed by hair-pulling, the passing of mean notes and possibly even tactical spitballs.

     I don't have a dog in this fight.  Both sides lost me early on -- well, the "Nerf the world for everyone except the pale males" SJWs never had me, 'cos I know what a NO DOGS OR IRISH sign looks like and they aren't any prettier when applied to whatever the current $DESPISED_CLASS happens to be, Jews or African-Americans or crudely-caricatured "Japs" or white men -- and their childish rudeness to one another (and all us bystanders) has sealed the deal.  If it was a real dogfight, I'd happily turn a firehose on 'em or spray them down with pepper spray and count it a good deed.  Instead, I have some people to unfriend, a few of them with genuine regret.  Let me know when you're ready to sit at the grownup table again, okay?

     After WW I's* "Christmas Truce" of 1914, the commands on both sides issued orders to try to keep it from ever happening again, including holiday artillery barrages.  It wasn't entirely successful until poison gas came into use and convinced soldiers on both sides that the other lot were inhuman monsters.  Drop the present-day "shitlords" and SJWs into the same 1914 Christmas Eve and they'd've happily machine-gunned one another and then slit the throats of any survivors while humming "Silent Night" in smug satisfaction, probably harmonizing with their own lice.

     Via Claire Wolfe:

     Stuff that in your pipe.  Or wherever.
* In my darker moments, I'm convinced that war actually marked the end of Western Civilization.  It was a civilization with a lot of warts but it was, largely, civil, and great strides were being made (a few of them, like Prohibition, in reverse).  We've been messing about in the ruins ever since, pretending things were going to be okay again, fiddling around with treating our fellow humans as if they were, at least, human and tinkering up high tech, but something important and brave died in the trenches and on the battlefields of WW I, coughing its lungs out, eyes ruined, broken, hurt and wondering why.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

I Do Work On A Starship

     There's a new story up at I Work On A Starship:

     It was only a drill.  It felt all too real.  The starship didn't buck and shudder but it certainly sounded as if we were returning to what we still try to claim is "normal space."  To judge from the pops, groans and subsonics, it was a middling-rough transition, something like a high-speed elevator rumbling to a stop while a troupe of luggage-testing primates hammered brand-name suitcases into the sides.

     Want to know what happens next?  Read on!

Come On, Ibuprofen!

     Woke up and fed the cats with a slowly dawning realization that it was a darned good day...for my left ear and surroundings to hurt like hell.

     You don't want to take the good OTC pain meds -- any of them* -- on an empty stomach, so I hurried through breakfast listing to port, got a bite of my bacon & egg sandwich down and gulped Vitamin I, followed by the rest of breakfast.  Now it's just tick-tick-tick until it kicks in, which it had darned well better.

     There's aspirin for afters, if needed.  The third choice, we're out of.  I need to fix that.
* Acetaminophen/paracetamol is about the gentlest but you still probably shouldn't, even though many of us do.

Monday, December 01, 2014

To Not Be A Slug

     I've been spending way too much non-productive time at the computer.  Fun though the Book of Face can be, I've got to cut down -- and if I haven't friended you, it's because most of my interest there is interaction with people in jobs like mine: we're a small group and getting smaller.

     Managed to rake up the leaves from the front yard yesterday afternoon and bag all but two piles; they were on the dark side of the house by the time I finished and there was only one bag left.  Weather permitting, I'll start in on the back yard this week.  Until it gets too cold for my bargain-priced farmhouse light to run, there's plenty of illumination over most of the back yard.

     There's lots to do in the house as well, this being prime shedding season for the cats, Huck especially; he's got fairly long fur for a shorthair and appears to be growing in a winter coat.  And there are plenty of books to shelve.

     At the computer, I need to spend more time writing fiction and less time looking at cute or sad videos, and way less time on politics: most of the time, all the political stuff does is get you riled up with nothing to do about it.  My conservative and liberal friends spend a fair amount of time being deeply irked by various "them" and sundry issues of supposedly worldshaking import and what good does it do?  What good to they do?  --Not much, if any.  That's no way to live; better to do what you can to make the world more like the way you'd have it and let the rest of that stuff go hang.  If you're not going to write your Congressthing, go wave signs, raise money, make a speech or live in a commune of occupation (etc.), unclench and go do something you will put some sweat into. 

     I'm also gonna rip some new music into my iPod, darn it!  I hadn't done so for a long time even before I misplaced it.  In fact, I think I'll do that now.

     --Oh, I should have another short story posted soon, too.  Held it back thinking to sell it but I was convinced by reviewers that the cast of character is too big for the length.  I can't help it -- the USAS Lupine is a very large starship and it takes a lot of hands to keep it running.