Friday, July 31, 2015

Flowers That Fly?

     Butterflies are one of the happier things to see.  This great big yellow one landed in the back yard as I walked from the garage to the house.
     Took flight when I tried to sneak up closer, and wandered over to the neighbors.

0444 And Feeling Guilty

     I just polished off the last of the bacon.  There were only three slices left, which is probably one more than I should have had, but who bothers with one slice of bacon?  I could have cooked it and left it for Tam, but by the time she awoke, that lone slice -- or maybe a slice and a half, to split the remainder equally -- would have been keeping warm over the pilot light in the oven for an hour and a half, and would not be all that great.

     Anyway, that's how I justified it when I added the last slice of bacon to my bacon-and-egg-on-toast this morning.  I'll have to put a ten in the Bacon Fund.  The corner market is just a bike ride away, after all--

     But I'm still feeling guilty about eating that last slice of bacon.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Another Early Day

     And I'm for the shower!  One nice thing, it's been cooling off better overnight.  It will still be very hot and humid by afternoon but I get more of the more-comfortable weather.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Up Early

     There's a project getting underway at the North Campus of the Skunk Workings and it involves actual skilled trades other than my own.  Most of those folks like to start before the sun gets too high and I'd just as soon they weren't yawning and/or griping on some oddball shift: we've got electrical work to do, some of it on panels that can't be shut off and when I say "we," I do not mean me.

     That leaves me with the "yawning and griping" department, a job I'm sure I can manage.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


     For those of us who grew up with parents and teachers who had vivid memories of WW II (and lots of newsreel footage to back it up), those of you who are going around in the wake of the Iran nuke deal griping about how Israel is just trying to monger war and get the U.S. to fight it for them sound scarily like the speakers at a late-1930s Bund meeting. --And if you don't know what a "Bund" was in this context, you're part of the problem.

I Keep Putting Off...

      I have a couple of "aloft" projects, one on a huge, flat roof at work where the only drawbacks are A) heat, B) I'm going to need wall-socket juice for a heavy-duty heat-shrink gun and that will mean hauling a hundred-fifty foot (or more) extension cord more up a fifteen-foot ladder and C) heat.

     The other one is here at home, periodic replacement of the farm-type outdoor light that illuminates the back yard -- when it works.  It's all ladder-type work, twelve feet up, and I'll have to shut off breaker number one, which protects one of the four original circuits in the house and includes about three-quarters of the overhead lights.  No real excuse for this one, other than I don't want to do it when I'm tired or dizzy, or it's raining or beastly hot.

     Gonna have to, though, before too long.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Sunday: Range, Public Greens, Fast Asleep By Four

     It was a fun day and it went all too fast (my doctor may be onto something with her theory that I have a sinus infection and haven't noticed).

     Tam and I decided to go over to Eagle Creek Pistol Range -- shotguns are okay there, too, and Tam brought hers...
     ...But only after Rannie checked the shotgun case for fit and comfort.

     I had my .22 Short H&R "Trapper" and 9-shot High-Standard Sentinel (.22 LR and down), plus an old Colt .32-20 that needed to have a couple of cylinders run through it.
  I'm rusty as can be, and wasn't shooting well enough to suit me, two or three outside the 3" center for every ten shots at seven yards.  I had a box of really badly-primed Remington -- three tries in two different spots ought to fire a .22 cartridge -- and did better after I dug into some Federal.  The CCI shorties for the Trapper were reliable as can be, so I can't blame fliers on them.

     But I can take artsy pictures!

    Eagle Creek airport was busy too, and one of the approaches takes airplanes right next to the range -- out from under the roof, you can look westward and see the little planes zooming by as they come in to land.  (Worrywarts can look the geometry of this up on Google Maps -- the planes are quite safe from the partially-roofed range.)

     After our range time, we washed up and headed for the delightful Public Greens, Tam's concession to my limited dining-out time (she was hungry for a charcuterie plate, and who could blame her?)  Instead, she went with chicken fingers and fried green tomatoes, a treat they do as well as I have ever had this side of the Mason-Dixon line (other than at home as child).  I begged a small one from her, which added to a huge sandwich and mixed-greens salad:
     That's yet another take on pork bahn mi, and remarkably flavorful.  It helps that Public Greens grows a lot of their own vegetables right next to the restaurant and what you eat was rooted in the earth not an hour or two before arriving at your plate -- and it helps even more that they have simply outstanding talent in the kitchen.

     I didn't think I could eat all of it but each bite was better than the one before and in what seemed like no time at all, I was looking at an empty plate and wondering what happened.

     We went home, unpacked and were greeted by The King Of The House.
     I decided to lay down for just a minute and the next time I opened my eyes, it was ten p.m.  I went back to sleep for eight more hours and here I am.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


     You'd think anything this spectacular would make a sound--
     It crept up quiet as ever.

     Some things do make a sound: I got my motorscooter running day before yesterday; once I filled up the gas, it started almost immediately, which is very pleasant considering it'd been stored since late last Fall.  I always add the storage treatment to the the gas at the end of the year but the tank was almost empty.  I was worried there was going to be a great deal to do.  I still have to clean the air filter and change the oil.  It's starting to be time to think about new tires, too.  And I'm going to have to scrub down the cargo racks with something very mild and then wax them: the Indian chrome-plating has thin spots and the thin spots are just beginning to show a haze of red.

     But, once started and running smoothly, the first thing to do was take a few loops around the block and then and a nice long check ride yesterday.  I burbled up back street to to the Indianapolis Art Center (where the Indiana Writer's Center hangs their mills) and return...

     ...With a stop at the incomparable Rene's Bakery along the way!
Rene's always reminds me of the galley on a submarine.  There's a whole lot of bakery in a very small space -- and room for four customers, if three of them are family or very close friends.
     What's in the case?  Deliciousness!
      I brought back an almond croissant and some banana-walnut bread.  I bought a chocolate brownie, too, but I devoured it while reading at the Art Center's park.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


     Did you hear the one about somebody making a film out of Robert A. Heinlein's All You Zombies--?

     I kind of had, and dismissed it: I remember Starship Troopers.  Besides, the short story is a stunt, a joke, not the kind of thing filmmakers could do without getting creepy -- or creepily over-sincere.

     I was wrong.  Way wrong.  Predestination is an excellent movie.  It's not a thriller like a Bond film or the excellent Kingsman;* it's not exactly a time-travel Jenga like the clever, quiet I'll Follow You Down.*  What it is, at the core, is the Heinlein tale, the main narrative quite unapologetically as originally told (barring a little rearrangement in one linear stretch of Jane's timeline), including the setting.  This is then wrapped in even more time-travel complexity that in no wise detracts from the film.

     In terms of pace, soundtrack and photography, it reminds me of Gattaca.  If H. L. Gold's Galaxy magazine had spawned a film division, these are the kinds of movies they'd make.

     See this film.  It's an hour and thirty-eight minutes you won't regret.

     Side note: I picked up an Amazon Fire HDMI dongle for my bedroom TV.  Works great!  There are several similar devices on the market -- Roku was the first and still probably the most common; I have one on the living room TV.  For my viewing habits, they are much better than cable.  With a decent antenna for the local stations, I have more TV than ever and I'm not paying for goofball channels I never watch, nor am I trapped by a schedule. YMMV, especially if you follow sports.
* I recommend both of these.  Kingsman is pure, uncut Fleming-grade fun, with just a little directorial over-indulgence in one sequence; check your bran at the door and fasten your seat belt!  Conversely, I'll Follow You Down is understated puzzle-SF devoid of glitz and glitter and if you'll grant it one McGuffin, it will repay you handsomely.

Friday Lunch

     Corn chowder and a pork bahn mi  sandwich.  Delicious!
     Spent Friday morning at the doctor, after a bad flare-up in my whatever-the-heck-it-is-itis that makes the left side of my face hurt.  Along with the usual howl-at-the-moon headache, spot on my upper left gum (where there used to be a tooth) got real tender and inflamed-feeling, which has happened before and is part of what keeps it from being plain old Trigeminal Neuralgia.  So, new prescriptions and they're going to do some more imaging.  I don't expect anything to result from this -- had my hopes up and dashed too many times.  I'm just a little bit broken and there's no fix.  It happens. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Happy Baby

     I read other people's accounts of happy, idyllic childhoods and I don't believe them.  Often, I can't read much of it: I find the narrative implausible, a collection of braggart confabulations like the kid on my grade-school bus route who claimed his (unprepossessing, middle-class) family home had an indoor pool and an elevator.  I read that kind of thing and I want to call BS on it.

     In my experience, children are small, weak and powerless, of no great worth; you didn't know the rules and nobody would tell you what they were.  You went where you were told, when you were told and if you offered up any of your own thoughts, you got ignored or belittled.  Siblings were't allies and pals; at best, they were untrustworthy neutral inhabitants of the same house.  Parents?  "Do as we say, or we won't love you."  I tried real hard not to care about that.  Happiness?  "You're not here to be happy."

     I hid in books, in reading. Books were nominally okay, though the kind of books I liked best (science fiction) were held in low regard.  I still have scars on my forearms from reading under the covers with a hot little desk lamp after all my flashlights had been confiscated.

     When I got older, I told my parents I wanted to be a writer.  Oh, no, that was an unacceptable choice.  Didn't I understand how few writers ever succeeded?  I need to go into something practical, something better than my parent's jobs.  That's probably why I wasn't discouraged from tech-y interests: at least they were down-to-earth. 

     I loathed my childhood.  I wanted out as quickly as possible.  Eventually I had my chance and took it, just moved out one day, fearing it was somehow illegal to do so without permission.  I was 19 at the time.

     Sadly, you can physically move away but you take the inside of your head with you.  You carry your history. Or maybe you don't.  I do.  I wonder sometimes just how much of my career path has been driven by old history, by being told over and over that my dreams were wrong, by rebelling no further than I dared.

     Darned if I know.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Ouch, Again

     On second thought, forget it.  Shouldn't you be out playing in traffic or something?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Between The Walls...

     Looking up the alley between Bent Rail Brewery and a building full of techitude (The Speak Easy and Developer Town).
There's a very busy cell tower just across the Monon, behind a storage center.
      Tam and I had dinner at Bent Rail Brewery last night. She had the charcuterie plate, which offers a nice assortment of meats, cheese, crustini and pickled vegetables including bright green Italian olives.  I went with pulled pork with a nice barbecue sauce, served on thick, toasted bread and topped with apple-cabbage coleslaw, a nice combination and just a bit askew to the ordinary.   Good food, friendly staff and a very large space that includes a pinball machine (under repair) and an interesting tabletop shuffleboard game, about 2/3 scale.  It's right along the Monon ex-railroad trail -- and they do have a bent rail.  Is it the eponymous rail of bendage, or just a contractor's pun?  I don't know.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tiny Spider Update

     Thanks to an anonymous commenter, it appears that the critters spreading barely-visible nets in the medium-height grass of the back yard here at Roseholme Cottage are dwarf sheetweb spiders -- and I should be flattered they stick around: "These tiny spiders (usually 3 mm or less) commonly balloon even as adults and may be very numerous in a given area on one day, only to disappear the next."  Yes, they're airship spiders!

Early Shift/Artsy

     There's this about working the stupid-early* shift: normally-busy city streets are nearly deserted:
      Nice as that is -- at least until you have a flat tire in a tough neighborhood -- I prefer days.  It's not always an option, and so in I go, to help resolve the myriad tiny disasters of the Skunk-Workings at full steam and hope to successfully overcome that whatever larger troubles may loom.  Help is only a telephone call away -- and will have had even less sleep than oneself.  Even that has a shiny tinfoil lining: most of us have gotten better about writing down our arcane knowledge and filing it on various shared databases and document servers: the early awakening you save may be your own!

     Too, the early mornings are a chance to play at art, like the images in this post.  They're all snapshot with my smartphone under circumstances where it's struggling to keep up, occasionally when there's no chance at all of fumbling with any control but the simulated shutter release and there's something like a 5:1 ratio between taking photos and getting usable results.  It's a form of cheating but I'm happy enough to get some image instead of nothing at all.

     And, eventually, the sun rises.
* Not just a turn of phrase.  Sleep deprivation and sleep-cycle upset will leave you cognitively impaired to some degree.  It's possible to adapt to it, especially if you start early, something the world's militaries know in depth and detail.  As do their trainees.  Me, well, I'm what you call a civilian.  Especially as regards sleep.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Eggs In Purgatory

     That's what the Italians call it, anyway.  This morning, eggs poached in Rao's Homemade Garden Vegetable Marinara: O...M...G!

     Look, I'm a Midwesterner; my ancestry is not drawn from your marinara-producing peoples.  So I grew up on Prego and Ragu and adding some meat and herbs (rosemary, fresh basil if you can get it), and there's your spaghetti sauce.  It's good enough but--  Let's say shelf life and ease of mass-production are concerns.

     Fresh Market, our more-or-less neighborhood market, does not stock common brands; my choice came down to several fairly expensive varieties.  I was sleepy and kind of went by which one had the most appealing label.

     It was a felicitous choice.  Rao's plain marinara gets rave reviews from people who live where fresh marinara is readily found.  The Garden Vegetable version adds peppers, mushrooms, carrots, I don't know what all else and not just a little of them -- it's crowded!  And very, very good.  Poach an egg in this stuff and it's happy to simmer.

     I browned some sausage and added it, which was entirely unnecessary.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

And On The Next Morning...

     Poblano, a little white onion, one egg, just a few pieces of Emmentaler cheese and an individual-sized serving of corned beef hash.
     It's not to everyone's taste but it suits me.  Started the corned beef early, added onions, then followed with egg and poblano after the onion had cooked a bit.  So it was nice and crunchy on the bottom but not burned and the poblano wasn't overcooked. Lifted out on a wide spatula in nearly one whole section. A dash of mild hot sauce and it's ready.

The New Normal

     That doesn't look scary, does it?
     Does it?

Saturday, July 18, 2015


     I'm cooking breakfast: Roseholme Hash!  Potatoes, eggs, bacon, green onions, a poblano... Yum!  I hope.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The La-bor-a-tory

At the doctor's office, getting lab work done, which I have been putting off.  Blood draw, mostly.

     Their equipment is not cooperating. But the tech is good with a needle.

    No food for 12 hours. Bagels beckon!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Spiderettes? Spiderlings? Spetite?

     I don't know what to call them and the moment was fleeting.  I went out to the garage this morning and scattered across the back yard, I saw what looked like tiny, insubstantial patches of fog, nestled in the grass.  If I got too close to any one of them, it vanished.

     From the back door, with the sun at my back, I could see many of them and I took a bearing on one of the thicker-looked.  At medium distance, it appeared to fade away, and even looking start down on it, it was barely perceptible.  Bending down, I finally saw it again at bifocal distance: the thinnest of spderwebs, woven of strands so fine they glimmered like elongated rainbows.  There was no sign at all of the web-spinner, but if it is sized proportionately, the little spider would be about the size of a dust-mote.

     What do they seine from the morning air, do you suppose?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Fone Phixed?

     So it would appear.  There was an AT&T line tech up on the pole when I left for work Wednesday morning and he assured me our service would be fully restored that day.  Along about 11:30 a.m., Tam called me to announce that lo, a miracle had been wrought and we were connected both POTS and Teh Innerwebs.

     Will it last?  I don't know.  But I am cautiously optimistic.

"AT&T, how can we fail you?"

After over a month of no plain old telephone service, Internet service followed it down the tubes yesterday morning.  Attempts to get the level of tech previous AT&T repairpeople have told us is necessary failed yet again; they sent out a data tech, who was kinda surly and quickly found -- yet again! -- that it needed a higher level tech to fix. This would be the same tech who dropped the ball Sunday, marking the issue resolved without actually doing anything. So.... That guy was right on the ball this afternoon: from the evidence, he "checked" the problem from his desk and marked it fixed again.

     AT&T called me to share the good news. I asked them to wait while I confirmed.

     I own two cellphones. Called Tam: nope, phone and Internet still dead. When I shared this news with AT&T, they offered only vague assurances.

     Tam has taken to Twitter. Please pile on.

     Posted from my non-AT&T smart phone.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Weather Makes Time Run Backwards?

     I don't know about that, but time did seem a little askew yesterday.  In evidence, here's downtown Indianapolis at noon yesterday--
My phonecam has auto-iris.  To the naked eye, this looked even darker.

     And at 7:30 p.m.--
Might be dragons.
     That little sputtery-exhaust trail of cloud was the only cloud in the sky.  It didn't last; thunderheads were boiling out of the northwestern sky by the time I got home.  By nine last night, we had lightning, thunder and pouring rain.  I woke at midnight to more of the same, and again a 3:30 this morning to, yes, even more of the same plus flickering lights.  Ugly power hits -- off, half-bright (air-conditioner groaning), too bright, off -- and so on.

     It's looking calmer this morning but I'm not inclined to trust appearances.

Monday, July 13, 2015


     Yes, I took a class yesterday: "Introduction to the Short Story" at the Indianapolis Writer's Center.  It was exhausting!  Three hours, including a couple of writing-and-reading-aloud exercises. No critiqueing, just read your piece and listen to the other three students and hear how they took a different approach to the than material you -- or didn't.

     The instructor was very good, a writer (with a day job) with both an MFA and real-world experience and the discernment to see and share the value (and limitations)* of both.  Very heavy emphasis on craft, which may surprise people who don't have much contact with the creative arts.   Sure, there are plenty of posers out there, but where it counts, you'll find a whole lot of artisanship -- as in dirty-hands trades -- in art.  Writing, well, your hands may be clean at the end of the day but the folks who are serious about it have typist's calluses and worry about carpal tunnel.  (Except, it's said, Henry James; trivia from class claims he dictated final-craft copy on the first pass.  Yep, type it up and send if off...!  Like Shakespeare's boast to have "never blotted a word [he] wrote," count on some rather heavy thought and muttering-aloud beforehand.)

     There's much to digest.  Hoping this will help me get a bit more done over at I Work On A Starship than I've been doing.
* I strongly suspect from what I hear and read that an MFA is mildly wasted on the young.  A little time in the trenches -- or at least working at the [whatever it is] and out in the big loud world -- seems in nearly all cases to produce a better-rounded and better-grounded scholar. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Indy Hamfest 2015

     I had to go solo this year, while Tam stayed home to meet the AT&T tech.  This meant, of course, that I lacked even the modicum of restraint she sometimes adds--
     The two large devices are a 1940s Meissner Analyst, which is a kind of "test bench in a box" for receiver servicing, and a 1950s Harvey-Wells Bandmaster, a 25 to 30 Watt AM/CW amateur radio transmitter.  Both appear to be pretty clean; the transmitter needs an external power supply, 400 V at 200 mA.

     Other neat stuff: a pair of vintage binoculars in good shape -- didn't have anything but toy versions, so for $35, why not? -- a very good push drill with (hard-to-find) straight bits and a "Handyman" Yankee screwdriver' a full set of Birnbach ceramic antenna insulators, chassis-mount octal plugs (good for power supply connections), three General Radio mixer knobs, a couple of Dakaware knobs, a National tube socket and 100 pF variable cap, another 100 pF dual variable capacitor, an SW-3 coil form, a 6F7 tube (possibly for a project) and a pair of 6L7s (used in my microphone mixer).  Plus four 1940s/50s QST magazines, three quartz crystals and and assortment of other nice small parts.  Not shown, a short (10'?) desktop rack and a large toroid core to wind a balun on (you want 'em big -- magnetic saturation is lossy and can produce a lot of heat!).

     I met my dear old friend Don H., and several other people I know slightly, including the talented Jim Borgioli,whose ham work includes building very nice AM transmitters that run at or near the legal power limit. And one ham who knew me!  A young man who'd gone looking for info on the Stancor 10-P transmitter and found my postings about it on Retrotechnologist walked up to in the flea market area, asked, "Are you Roberta?" and introduced himself.

     Found but missed a nice balanced antenna tuner.  I should have purchased it at first sight!  But it's a cloneable design and I think I have the parts.

     A fun time!  When I returned home, the phone tech was there -- and pointed out a very large broken limb on the roof and my ham antenna and still loosely attached to the tree.  I climbed up and had a look, but it's too big and too precarious for me.  We've called the singing tree hippie, who does great work at a fair price.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


     I woke up around 3:30 this morning, with a headache about as bad as any I've had -- only to discover Huck the cat curled up companionably at the foot of my bed, purring in his sleep.

     That goes a very long way towards making a headache bearable, let me tell you.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Ah, Yes: Another Day...

     ...Another whatever.  I have got to get elements of my life back under control -- various shelf and storage projects have just about stalled, and need to be restarted, my desk is once again covered in piles of junk mail and (mostly paid) bills and while my various electronic projects are in motion, it is mostly at a glacial pace.

     Less time online and more time in RL!  --And more sleep; I have a nasty habit of becoming hypnotized by the positive feedback F@©ebook provides and staying up an hour or more longer than I should.  It's embarrassing to be so cheaply bought but I don't get many "attagirls" elsewhere, so I'm a sap for 'em when they're available.

     Indianapolis Hamfest is this Saturday and barring something awful, I plan on attending.  While I may add to the clutter, it's a fun event and I have missed way too many this year.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

"Your Stock Exchange has performed an illegal operation, and must be shut down."

     It "glitched."  The New York Stock Exchange's computer system...freaked out.  Froze.  And on the same day as an airline's system choked, too.

     ...Instant OMG, with everyone from the Russians to the President to blame.  "Vast right-wing conspiracy" -- ey, Mrs. Clinton? -- didn't get drug in, but give the fringes time; the Chinese certainly did, 'cos what's more fun than to cripple the number one market for your mass-produced junk?

    While I have come to approve of the long-standing American tradition (it starts with POTUS #1) of suspecting the Chief Executive of being a sinister spider at the center of a vast and nefarious web of conspiratorial intrigue, I suspect we generally tend to over-estimate the competence of Presidents.  Oh, they may well all be just as wicked as their opponents claim, especially the last half-dozen -- it's ability they lack, or they'd all be living like Bond villains long before they got offered the apartment over the shop at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

     Other actors -- Anonymous would have signed their work (anonymously, of course), 4chan only wish they could manage such a stunt and the various sousveillance troupes would have had a lot more fun with it.  Mr. Putin's government?  Maybe -- maybe -- they could, but what's in it for them? Follow the money, and-- Nobody profited.  "Trial run," some mutter, but with cyberweaponry, you don't tip your hand that way: revealing an exploitable vulnerability is the exact equivalent to putting in a request to have it fixed, only with a higher priority.*

     Nope, I think what we have here are plain old "oops" type failures, writ large -- ill-considered software updates, hardware failures, whatever.  When you have very complex systems, which is where we're at, the potential for crashes goes up; and every so often, you get a black swan event -- or, worse, a blue moon: a cascading failure or an unexpected single point of failure takes a linked system right down.

     Boilers still sometimes explode, even with all the safety valves and cut-outs and overpressure alarms.  You don't notice it; there aren't so many around, the technology is very mature so booms are less and less frequent and there is plenty of redundancy.  Computers and computer networks are considerably more common than and about as advanced as steam boilers were a century ago -- and sometimes, despite all efforts to prevent it happening, they crash.
* Those of us with enough gray in our hair remember when That's How It Was Done: when computers were big time-shared mainframes slightly dumber than the smartphone in your pocket, crashing the system was sometimes the only way to get problems fixed and a clever console op would offer forgiveness for confessors.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015


     Tam, heading out on an emergency* pistachio gelato run: "Don't wait your dinner on me -- I'll be back any second!"

     RX:  "Better hurry, then.  You don't want to meet yourself coming back in!"

     Yeah, had to say it -- but you know if it happened, they'd fight.

     Dinner was hot dogs and an heirloom tomato garnish plate with hot pickled veggies and a caperberry.  The tomato was sliced, sprinkled with "Italian" seasoning (basil, a hint of garlic, etc.), pepper and a little salt and allowed to sit.  De-lish!  And I'm trying bruschetta in lieu of chili on my hot dog.  It's pretty good.  Black-cherry soda with a hint of black walnut extract, too.
* Don't judge us by this.  It made perfect sense at the time.

Welcome To Indiana

     How long can you tread water?  --We dodged the worst of the deluge at Rosholme Cottage yesterday but the ground is soaked and the more it rains, the more I worry.

     Naturally, it's supposed to keep raining off and on through Friday.  Some people in Indy are already flooded out and the question is, will it rain more quickly that the water can drain away, or not?

Tuesday, July 07, 2015


     Half-awake, I think I heard one of those strange people inside my TV chirp, "...and it's very muggy outside this morning, so don't carry any more cash than you can afford to lose..."

     I don't how that works, but this summer is making someone at Power & Light very happy -- or very worried about the price of coal.

Monday, July 06, 2015


     I suppose I should have something for the start of the week, but this is all I've got:

      Juncture, the gap that keeps oronyms from rubbin' together, preventing "a nice day" from turning into "an ice day."  Think about it the next time some puffed-up politician intones, "At this historic juncture..."  Breaker-breaker!

     Also, Four Candles.  No, for-  Well, you'll see.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Fourth Of July?

     I didn't mark the holiday with an essay yesterday -- many of my friends did, no few of them using the occasion to point out the vast and intrusive nature of the current Federal government.

     It's accurate enough but perhaps misplaced; what we have squatting in Washington D. C. with an ear to every phone call and and eye to every e-mail is an outgrowth of events long after the Treaty of Paris; the Constitution itself is over a decade younger than the Declaration of Independence.

     The Declaration was not the first document our would-be nation's government sent to the Crown, nor did it start the Revolutionary War.  Indeed, a year earlier on 5 July 1775, the Continental Congress had sent King George the "Olive Branch Petition," professing loyalty to the Crown and trying for reconciliation in the war already raging.

     A substantial majority of the Congress were already there was no going back, and they weren't reticent about it.  Indeed, the very next day, the Congress drew up and sent off the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms, which still flinches from declaring independence while endorsing the war.

     Near the end of August, the Crown fired back with A Proclamation for Suppressing Rebellion and Sedition, following it up with a speech in October blaming a "desperate conspiracy" for the American war.  Congress responded in December, still professing loyalty while repeating their grievances -- yes, including excessive taxation and lack of representation in Parliament.

     The new country was still hoping to remain a part of the British Empire, not as a collection of colonies but an extension of the nation.  Independence was inevitable -- but many still didn't want to face it.

     In January 1776, Thomas Paine saw the publication of little pamphlet he had written: Common Sense.  It was a mind-bomb.  It was a best-seller.  It was printed in newspapers.  It was pirated.  Paine quarreled with his publisher ("quarreled" probably should have been his middle name). It was read out loud at civic gatherings.  It was everywhere.

     And the slim majority in the Continental Congress pining wistfully for reconciliation...shifted.  It was never very strong; aside from that whole "loyalty to the Crown" thing, both sides wanted the troops and taxes gone and a voice in their own government.  After Paine, the inevitability and desirability of independence were impossible to deny. 

     In July of that year, the Declaration of Independence officially took the next step.  The United States Of America announced itself: these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown[...].

     So we don't mark sixth July of 1775, or 23 August; we don't celebrate the first day of the Revolutionary war (19 April 1775), the surrender at Yorktown (19 October 1781) or the date of the signing of the Treaty of Paris (look it up) as this nation's birthday.  Not blood or bullets, not  Royal decree or solemn treaty: the United States of America was born on the day it stood up on its hind legs and proclaimed itself.

     The men who signed that document held a wide variety of views about what form the government of the new nation ought to take; not all of them were convinced of the necessity of war; they were of different faiths and different degrees of faith -- but they found common ground when they had to.

     And that's pretty much my takeaway: face the inevitable.  Seek common ground.  Stand by your principles -- and understand them. And don't take any guff from Kings or would-be Kings!

Saturday, July 04, 2015

InConJunction XXXV

     So we went to the 'con -- wandered into the huckster room five minutes early and got chased right back out, despite my reflexive mutter of, "...Press...."

     Withal, early arrival is still early five minutes later -- and not in the vanguard.

      The two photos are a sort of a blink test, and I doubt my phone camera runs fast enough to have got the second shot; that child was a blur -- a polite and pleasant blur -- in real life.

     Meanwhile, up at the registration desk, a very nice old cat, Sir William, was both summerized and summarized: Sir William, 13 years old, brought to the shelter when his owner moved in with her boyfriend.  He made eye contact with me and had much to say while enjoying the attentions of small children.
     The "lion cut" suits him, I think.  That puffball tail!

     There was a remarkably well-stocked bookseller (all new) at the back of the hall, and Indy's own The Starship Cat, with T-shirts and a wide array of used books (and et very c, from japonaiserie to all-composite tactikewt knives just like the CIA doesn't use) about half-way down.  (If you hunt obscure SF titles on Amazon and buy used, you may have bought from them).  The new-books guy had pre-release copies of Charles Stross's latest "Laundry Files" book, The Annihilation Score, which I could not pass up.  It appears that Baen has reissued the A. Bertram Chandler "John Grimes" novels in a set of fat paperbacks, too, which is at the top of my list; I picked the originals up catch-as-can and missed a few.*  The other item I had to buy on the spot was a collection of Terry Pratchett's short fiction -- there's another of his non-fiction I may purchase yet.

     Did not see Musical GoH Marian Call, but she had a table set up in the huckster's room with an Hermes portable typewriter at the center -- Instant poetry?  Lyrics on demand?  I dunno but trust a musician  to have chosen an excellent instrument.

     The pleasant and prolific Tim Zahn was set up right inside the door; he was a bit busy stringing up signs and making nice with fans.

     Didn't attend any fora; there were a couple of some interest to me but neither Tam nor I had eaten more than toast and coffee all day and my back/shoulder were starting to trouble me.  Headed home by way of Indy Tacos, which turns out to be straight-up good Mexican-ish fast food, tacos with a nice variety of fillings, burritos and the like, in a clean, no-frills setting.  They get rave reviews -- and with good reason.

     I do get stressed in social situations, especially in places and around people with which and with whom I am not familiar: I was in bed by seven and slept for thirteen and a half hours.
* The series started out emulating C. S. Forester's "Horatio Hornblower" books but became very much his own thing.  Chandler was better-qualified to describe life aboard a starship than many SF writers: he was a merchant marine captain, mostly on Australian vessels. 

Friday, July 03, 2015

Stop Me If You've Heard This One...

    "Not this morning -- I have a headache."  Which would be funnier if it wasn't true.  I'm positively bilious in both senses of the word.  Toast and coffee is just about too much. My temper has a fuse about an eighth of an inch long and I think there's an M-80 on the far side.

     ...However, as the holiday and its hazards approach, I am reminded of Ms. Diaz, the nice Hispanic lady who knows which chemicals will hurt or kill you, and all the signs and symptoms.  Oh, she's in your workplace, too, by Federal mandate: MSDS.  Don't eat fireworks, mmmkay, not even to hide 'em from the Fire Marshal, and don't be holding them in your hand or aiming the aimable ones at people or critters.  Ya heathens.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

A Barber/Gunshop

     In Greensburg, Indiana, you'll find that very combination -- and no, there's no truth to the rumor that BreakFree CLP and Vitalis are the same product with different packaging,


     I'm not going to do better than last night's post about fireflies this morning, so read that, please.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Touching, With Notes Of Sadness

     It's July in Indiana and the fireflies are out.

     I went out to the garage to replenish my bottled water supply a few minutes ago.  It wasn't dark yet, barely twilight, but I looked down and saw an airborne firefly flash from behind, a little outline glow, blurred by the cloak of his busy wings.

     I anthropomorphize.  I admit it: I said, "Good luck, buddy.  Hope you find true love."

     He flashed again.  Another lightning bug, a bit bigger, swooped in, just a little higher and slightly behind, and flashed as well.  They were both idling slowly forward and down.  I projected their path and there, on a broad, heart-shaped leaf, was another firefly.  It -- she -- flashed twice.

     The smaller flier landed and sidled up next to her.  She moved away.  The bigger one landed and with all three on the leaf, I could see he was bigger than I'd thought, a real Hercules of light-up bugs.  She moved towards him and they proceeded to...well.  It's what comes naturally to fireflies this time of year.  It's impolite to stare.

     The little guy moved to the edge of the leaf, gathered himself with a quick shake, and took to the air.  I told him, "Better luck next time.  I'm sure you'll find your match."

     He flashed his light, pivoted and cruised slowly off, all attention on the ground, hoping for a reply.

     Good luck, fireflies.  Good luck to all of you and best wishes for even more wonderful evening glowing.

     Those little bugs, hovering and shining their signals on a summer's night, are about as magical as it gets in this world.

So, This Is Happening

     I have lived in Indianapolis since 1981.  In all that time, I have never -- not even once -- attended our local Science Fiction Convention.

     Thinking maybe this time, I will.  Tam's even offered to come along for moral support.