Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Actual Violence Reduction Is An Orphan

     Say there was program with an actual track record in reducing big-city violence.  Not a new restriction on firearms, not a "stop and frisk" policy skirting the Fourth Amendment, not a massive increase in police boots on the ground or more midnight basketball--

     You'd think the high-profile "gun violence prevention" groups would be all in favor of it, right?


     "Not our lane," says the Brady Campaign.  At Bloomberg's "Everytown For Gun Safety," home of the big wallet, "We're focused on...how to improve the laws."  The same program was talked about offstage during the most recent series of Executive Branch pushes for gun restrictions...but mention of it never passed Presidential or Vice-Presidential lips.

     Pro Publica -- dependably left-leaning -- covered this last Fall.  Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who has been beating the gun control drum pretty hard, has never breathed a word about it.

     I don't know, maybe it's not much of an idea -- but a program that focuses not on the gun nor punishment after the crime, but on the men mostly likely to become killer or victim, sounds like it might have some merit; given the groups that don't think enough of it to pony up a single thin dime or ten seconds in a speech, it sure seems to me it's worth looking at.

     What if there was a way to reduce the inner-city death rate and nobody cared? Yeah, yeah, Pro Publica, sack'o'pinkos, etc., and no doubt theirs is a very favorable reading of the data; but even a blind sow finds an occasional ear of corn.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Decoration Day

     That's what day this is -- or was.  They call it "Memorial Day" now, a name already adopted as the last vestiges of the armies whose fallen once had their graves decorated and the sacrifices marked on this day: the Grand Army of the Republic and the United Confederate Veterans held their last gatherings in 1949 and 1951, respectively.

     Remembrances for the dead of each side had evolved separate Decoration Days -- pragmatically in the spring, when the first large growth of flowers were available.  The commemorations gradually merged, though you'll find remnants of Confederate Memorial Day still on the calendars of some southern States.  One of the earliest such days was in the South, in May 1865 -- but marked Union dead, as African-American residents cleaned up and landscaped the graves of prisoners of war who had died in the prison at Washington Race Course (now Hampton Park) in Charleston, South Carolina.

     By 1868, the day had attained a degree of official recognition which continued to grow in North and South alike, even as the veterans of the war that inspired it faded away.

     It is a day for remembering the fallen, for remembering the price of war's prizes, a day not for arguing why or how but honoring those who went, did their duty -- and never returned.  Spare them a thought.  Tend their graves this one day, at least.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Then I was A Year Older

   And at work.  Since 0400.  It's that kind of day in Indy.  If this was a starship, the engines would be moaning, the lights would be blinking, and we'd be well outside normal reality.  That last may have genuinely been achieved this morning.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

But I Ain't Dug No Sixteen Tons...?

     Another year older, nevertheless. 

     Yes, gentle friends, it is that time again -- and, for a wonder, my birthday falls on neither 500-Mile Race Day nor Memorial Day!

      I am now about twenty years older than I ever expected to be. And there's still no Lunar settlement and no Orbital Hilton. You people need to get to work on that. I'm too old to learn Mandarin.

Friday, May 27, 2016


     I'm telling you, if zombies have headaches like the kind I've been getting, I totally understand the lurching walk and implacableness.  And if I thought eating brains would help, some of you would be at considerable risk.  --Oh, Senator, not you.  Of course not.

    It's just the usual migraine plus allergies, I think.  They multiply rather than add.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Clown Sugar, How Come You Taste So Funny?

    Oh, "Senior Chamber."  Oh, "world's most deliberative body!"  --If you needed more evidence that government is run by the same cadre of mutual knob-polishers that made student government an exercise in futility, passing resolutions in honor of Homecoming pep rallies while the cafeteria served parboiled toads and half-deranged teachers put students through twisted personal hells, look no further than S.Res.475 - A resolution recognizing the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

     The ol' 500-mile race track has been privately owned since Day One and it still is, right down to a yellow-shirted private army of traffic cops and sidewalk superintendents (backed up by genuine po-lice with guns and arrest powers when necessary -- but the Yellowshirts work en masse and a wise denizen of the track will refrain from incurring their ire).  The 500 needs Senate recognition like they need two more wheels on the cars.

     The positive side is that every second the Senate spends -- and I'll be back to that word in a moment, "spends" -- on frivolity of this sort, National Gardenia-Scent Aftershave Day, Hug A Scorpion Day, whatever, is one less second spent misappropriating funds and sodomizing pages.  If, like me, you figure the fed.gov has all the laws they could possibly need for the next hundred years or more, such wheel-spinners do keep the empty suits from making it more illegal to serve guests milk from your own cow or making lists of approved pronouns (better write your Senator now, you frelks and throons!).

     On the other hand, they've got the lights on and the air-conditioning running, coffeemakers gurgling and the vast presses of the Federal Register humming, world-famous Senatorial bean soup* glooping gently in the stewpots and filling every task, even the ones usually automated elsewhere, well-paid workers, hardworking (or heavy-sleeping, but I didn't pay for a first-class flight of fancy ticket just to judge some low-level functionary) and ready to fulfill just about every whim...of the people in the big, fancy room, orating grandiloquently on the anniversary of an automobile race a third of a continent away: they're spending my tax money at a nearly moonshot rate to perform self-important nonsense.

     "Most deliberative body?"  Fat lot of good that does, if they mostly deliberate bulldoodle.  Send 'em home, turn out the lights, set the cooling to the bare minimum needed to keep the place from growing mold and pare the staff down likewise.  The Senators can set up a party line or a BBS if they want to impress one another.

     If I was setting up a "deliberative body," I'd have 'em work standing up, outdoors, skyclad.  They wouldn't muck around.  Especially when the weather was bad.

     Gah.  If you didn't have coulrophobia, a close look at the United States Congress could give you a bad case of the stuff.
* Coals to Newcastle, beans to the legislatively flatulent.  And nary a block of government cheese in sight!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Quick Note

     Maybe, like Mark Twain, because I didn't have time to write an even shorter one?*  Y'got me.  Anyway, it's Wednesday, which means time for the regular meeting with Mom and her caregivers, which means I dash this off while bolting a slice of toast and a cup of coffee.  Well, cinnamon toast, I'm not a total barbarian.

     At last word, Mom was doing better and better, but she's still in the neck near-immobilizer and will be for some months to come. It's exactly as no fun as you might think, if not more so.

     On the good news side, we seem to be building a potted-plant greenhouse on her windowsill.  She's enjoying it.
* The Twain quote, "Sorry for the long letter, I didn't have time to write a short one," which alludes to the time taken by editing, was at the very least not original with him -- if he ever wrote it at all!  Blaise Pascal appears to be the first person who used the line.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Queen Is Dead, Alas

     Bobbi (in a bad imitation of a lower-class British accent): "'Our Mam's bad sick. We keep giving her the good food you set out for us but she just gets worse and worse. I'm worried 'bout her'"

      Tam: "Stop anthropomorphizing the kitchen ants!"

      As of this morning, it looks like the poison ant baits have done the job.  I do feel a little guilty.

Monday, May 23, 2016

A Brand-New Week

     Vacation is over and it's time to get stuck back in.  --I dread it.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


     For whatever reason (sinus pain, mostly), I was hardly able to sleep last night.  Here I am now, but still pretty out of it.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Hello, Hello, I'm Here -- Post-Roadtrip

     I went to the Dayton Hamvention yesterday, where there were plenty of vendors despite the rain -- though the ones without tents or awnings in the flea market did knock off early.  That just gave me a chance to check the inside booths, mostly commercial, charitable or social organizations.

     Many of the regulars were there -- Vibroplex, Doug Hauff's American Morse Equipment, and the blend of artistry and engineering Begali Keys has brought to that part of the hobby.  I don't remember the UK's Kent Keys having attended in the past but they were there this year, in a booth presumably staffed by the Kents themselves, Mrs. Kent calmly knitting amidst the chaos.  On the other hand, I never found G-QRP or the Morse Telegraph Collectors, both of them booths I look forward to visiting.  (For the high-speed operator, AME is building their version of the out-of-production WBL keyer paddles formerly made in Indianapolis, one of the best super-high-speed paddles ever made: good bearings, good design and a whole lot of weight; you cannot outrun them but you'd better be prepared to copy that fast, too!)

     Among other items, I purchased a Kent straight-key kit, a Chinese (YouKit) antenna analyzer I have had my eye on for a couple of years, and passed up a couple of short Bud (or Par-Metal) racks with partial projects in them, which I may regret later.

     I also rejoined the RSGB.  I was a member of the Radio Society of Great Britain for several years running but dropped off when the economy worsened just as I became a new homeowner with a suddenly-increased tax burden.  This year they had a special offer, three months free and payment deferred until September.  One of the RSGB staffers joked that he despaired of explaining to non-radio amateur friends just were he went and what he did on Hamvention weekend -- I didn't have the presence of mind to offer that Dayton was where the Wright Brothers hung out their shingle and took powered flight from a stunt to an art, nor that it was where the initiators for WW II atomic bombs were made.  And much as Brits and Americans like to think of one other as being pretty much the same except for our accents, there are wide cultural gaps -- a plain old ordinary security guard walked by with a full "batbelt" and the young woman who was signing me up locked eyes on his holstered sidearm and had difficulty looking away.  (Yeah, it's easy to be snarky about unarmed cops -- but try walking up to a policeman in the U.S. and saying, "I've had far too much to drink and I'd better not drive," and see if he hails you a cab, as I'm told is SOP in the UK.  Different countries, different ways.) 

     Other times, the gaps are not so wide, though the language diverges.  At the Begali Keys booth, I asked after an extra weight for their marvelous "Intrepid" bug.  I purchased one when they were first offered (and the dollars-to-Euros ratio was a little more favorable) and I have to work up to it; the lower end of the speed range for mine is about 15 wpm and unless I'm on the air a lot, my ability to copy code drops to about 10 to 13 wpm.  Begali had an Intrepid on the table slowed down to 10 wpm with a pair of larger weights.  That intrigued me; did they offer those weights as an accessory?  The first staffer I asked was struggling with the American language (the Begali booth is large and the 25+ feet of keys on display is consistently two or three hams deep, either sending code or asking questions; try ten hours of that in a language you didn't grow up speaking and you can imagine how he felt.)  He passed my question on to the ever-stylish (and quite fluent) Bruna,* who apologized that it wasn't a regular item, but she'd ask -- and proceeded to ask Mr. Begali himself!  Piero thought a bit, produced a weight from somewhere and bustled out into the crowd to show me how to add the weight without damaging the key, holding up their demonstration copy.  There's a step milled into the part that carries the second pivot, and a machine screw and a tiny plate clamp the reed and pendulum assembly into place; of course, just about every word for every action and component is different in the two languages and we were venturing into territory where even conversational fluency rarely treads.  Geekery will find a way, and with the device in hand he conveyed the gist far better than I could have managed.  It would seem that when you purchase a key of this quality, you're also getting a level of customer service akin to that of a bespoke luxury car.  (He's also a naturally nice man.  We usually exchange greetings at the Hamvention.)

     One other "lost in translation:" when I bought the Kent key, I jokingly asked if there was, perhaps, a discount for RSGB members.  He thought about it, and said, "Five dollars, that's the best I can do," and even though I replied I was kidding, five dollars off it was.  Kent Keys are Big Engineering, UK-style, with smooth ball bearings, proper springs, coin-silver contacts and no surprises; they are built to last, keys your great-grandchildren will still be using.

     I don't know how far I walked.  By six p.m., despite buying a rucksack to haul my loot, my back was aching, my feet were sore, the Hamvention was closing and it was raining.  Time to drive home.

     Drove back in the rain, too slow for many drivers (65 is plenty for me when cars are kicking up huge clouds of spray.  It's not that I don't trust my tires, I fret about making a too-sudden move), listening to Welcome To Night Vale.  It's a good way to pass the time on a long drive.
* At Dayton, she is the only person in the entire venue who knows how to properly accessorize a company-logo T-shirt, usually with a harmoniously-patterned scarf and tasteful jewelry.  I find this an enviable talent.

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Lunch And A Birthday

     Tam and I went to Taste Of Havana for lunch yesterday -- Cuban sandwiches, of course, and once you've had the real thing, you'll snicker at the various amateur efforts.  They were outstanding!  The owner is a pleasant, avuncular fellow, larger than life, and his family/staff were just as nice.  Alas, no time for coffee but we'll be back.  At 2:00 p.m. on a work day, they were so busy that Tam peeled off to grab a table and had me order, otherwise we wouldn't have had a table.

     That evening, I went to visit Mom X and my siblings.  It was Mom's birthday and we had (ice cream) cake (I about froze my teeth!) and presents, small things and flowers suitable for the hospital-type room she's still in.  Her aides had outdone us, giving her new pajamas and an easy-on outfit for visits to the doctor; they'd gotten size information from my brother and cleared it with us in advance.  It was a nice visit and Mom is doing better and better with every passing day.  She's hoping to get back to her apartment elsewhere in the retirement complex before too long.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


     Remember the choripán from a few days ago?  The corner grocery has all the ingredients for an American version: chimichurri sauce, crusty French bread, Italian sausage.  So for yesterday's dinner, I fried a couple of 'em, loaded the results into French bread, slathered on the sauce, cut it into handy lengths (which would make them choripanes, no?) and Tam and I dug in.

     Let's just say it's even better than you think.  Probably tastier yet if you grill the sausage.  I used sweet Italian sausages and butterflied them before pan-frying, but you could try the hotter ones and/or leave 'em whole.  Some variations add chopped onion and that would be nice, but even without, it's a real treat, spicy/savory and heavy on the umami.  Served it with a simple salad: grape tomatoes, Anaheim peppers and lovely, buttery mâche lettuce.*
* Thirteen years ago, it was a newcomer to the vegetable aisle and the harvesting was tricky.  It's not too difficult to find now, so they must have got all that worked out.

One Mowed Yard Equals Two Doctor Visits

     So, after asking myself yesterday if I really, truly needed to see the doctor, I decided to check that I wasn't just being self-indulgent in the wake of allergies and some morning gastrointestinal not-to-be-described. The way to do this check is by applying motion to mass, of course, and to do so until you've worked up a sweat.

     The front yard wanted mowed.  Ms. Tamara, unfamiliar (and generally displeased) as she is with my corded electric lawnmower, now pushing twenty years old (the mower.  Well, Tam, too, but she may have pushed it slightly farther), fights the cord and ends up with a sore back.  Me, I have used the thing for years and wrestling fat, flexible wires is part of my job, so I have an easier time of it.  An hour or two later, I had a mowed lawn, too.

      The back yard beckoned.  Well, the part I had weedwhacked a week or two ago beckoned, and got mowed.  The bulk of the back yard did whatever vest-pocket jungles do -- seethed, festered or hummed with bugs and worms, a nightmare of Creepin' Charlie, wild honeysuckle, wild strawberries, volunteer maples, inkweed/pokeweed and laced through and through with Virginia Creeper, which is bidding fair to win the title "Yankee kudzu" despite its nominal state of origin.  The burdock and dandelions scarcely have a chance! It was a weedwacker and pruning-shears job and that's what it got.

     Came to the end of that (plus side ventures into weed-spraying the small, shaggy no-man's-land between my driveway and my neighbor to the south's garage followed by more of the same down the rarely used path between my garage and privacy fence that serves to illustrate the uselessness of mandated setbacks on narrow urban lots) and by golly, I was perspiring -- and not feeling especially dizzy or lousy.  Oh, soreness lurked, and is kicking me around a little right now, along with some allergy-like sinus, but I don't feel ill.  Or self-indulgent.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho...

     ...It's off to doc-in-a-box I go....

     Tam and I walked over to Twenty Tap for lunch yesterday, after spending the actual noontide at the range -- a work day for her, a vacation for me, and it's still  gratifying to send a couple hundred rounds into the ten-ring at seven yards while a big guy with a big gun in the next lane struggles to keep 'em on the paper at fifteen feet.

     (Hey, d00d?  Slow down; sure, you're not that fast, but it's still too quick for now.  Use the sights.  And your grip, gosh, it was cute when Charlie's Angels held guns that way but, really, they're actresses, not shooting instructors.  As for your flinch, I can tell you all day that a full-sized 9mm hasn't much recoil but you may want to start over with something smaller until you believe so in your heart.) 

     But maybe I should be more humble; my own shooting came to a precipitate stop when one of the bucket'o'22s decided to blow its head clean off, with a more-than-usual bang and a whole lot of smoke trailing out from the gun around the misfed next cartridge.  Too hot?  Out of battery?  Defective brass?  I'm not sure, being as my attention was downrange at the time; I dropped the magazine, cleared the misfeed, laid the gun down and prised out the battered circle of brass, thought a bit and pushed the .22 BoreSnake from my cleaning kit through the barrel with a few drops of BreakFree on it.  The bore was clear and clean enough, so I got back into it for fifty or sixty more.  (Which is the other part.  Shooting is like writing: do it a lot, do it often, do it right, and you may, eventually, not suck at it so much.)

     Then off to lunch and a huge one for me, fries and a Spanish Tartine, a kind of open-faced salad on crusty bread, way more filling that you'd think, thanks to nice heirloom tomatoes and olive tapenade.  I walked back early, leaving Tam working on an article in her office-away-from-the-office, realized I was sleepy and dizzy, and was in bed before she arrived home some time later.  I woke for a bit and she pointed out my hearing was even worse than usual, and by then I was very dizzy and the earache/headache that's been bothering me for days was going full bore.  (Shooting usually clears up my headaches -- maybe it's the earplugs?  The overpressure air?)  After that chat, I slept something over twelve hours and this morning, I think I'd better see what the doc-in-a-box has to say.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016



     There's this about chronic, variable pain: it never gets old.  Because you never really get used to it. 

     That is all.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Sunday's Dinner

     Steaks on the grill!  Delicious steaks, in fact.  --Still the same inexpensive grill we have had at Roseholme Cottage for years, but I know The Secret and I'll share it:

     Hardwood charcoal.

     That's it.  Stop buying those compressed-sawdusty things unless you're cooking in a pot over the coals.  Yes, it costs more -- a fraction of the price of the meat, and a bag will last a long time.  It's already something of a special deal to be grilling, so take the next step. 

     (LP gas grill?  You're on you're own; I have no truck with those things.  Kind of like "camping out" under the dining room table, if you ask me.)

     The other "secret" is less of one: if you're grilling something lean, put a dab of good butter on the side you just turned over.  This totally wipes out the health advantages of lean meat (and replaces them with flavor), so you need to be eating healthy otherwise.  It doesn't take much, it's just keeping it from getting all dry and awful.  The more done you like your steak, the more useful this trick is.

     And the final secret is open knowledge: let the meat set out for a little while between taking it out of the fridge and putting it over the fire.  Use that time to apply salt, pepper, and whatever other heathen thing you like.  (I did kebabs with chimichurri* not too long ago, and that's some darned good eating!)

     Do these things and you will produce tasty grilled food.

    --Oh, start that charcoal with some balled-up newspaper.  You don't need lighter fluid, just build a charcoal pyramid around the newspaper with a low opening on the vent side and set it to burning.  Once the charcoal has caught and is burning nicely, spread it out (hot side up!) and add a few more lumps scattered among it.  When you're done cooking, close the grill and close up the vents.  The fire will will go out, saving the unused charcoal for next time.
* Among the uses of chimichurri: the choripán. I must try this. Soon.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Overdrawn At The Sleep Bank

     I spent most of yesterday repaying my sleep debt -- and, short-term, it really does work that way, or so the experts are saying this month.

     Unfortunately, the overdraft fees and interest charges seem to have been applied against my back.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

'Scuse Me While I Kiss The Sky

     Work started about 10:30 yesterday morning.  It ended about 2:00 this morning.  I was a little punchy on the drive home and the ol' RX CCC was burning the BUY GAS NOW light.  In downtown Indy in the wee sma' hours?  Not on a bet!  So I drove home with great care, one eye on the miles-per-gallon display, and if Johnny Law had seen me, he'd'a pulled me over and sniffed for burnin' herb.

     The extra time was to run some wiring to a place it had never been, and yet was "suddenly" needed for something that had been known (to others) far enough in advance to have had posters printed and the room decorated, presumably instead of asking if the necessary technical features were available -- a place that was on the far side of three fire-rated walls  A place to which only one of my peers had ever run any wire; he was on vacation yesterday and the wire in question was a single thin cable-TV coax.  I had a few (ahem) more things in my collection of wires.  Did the whole run single-handed because if you're going to have to make a lot of ill-informed guesses and you're on a deadline, it's better to just have one person guessing. And drilling through the fire-rated walls in the dust and insulation above the suspended ceiling.  And looking around for the pink fire caulk.

     I was in bed by 3:00 a.m.  The cats were fighting by 3:15.  It's been a short night.

Friday, May 13, 2016


     This entire week, it has felt as if I was running in glue.  My days have been shifted a half-hour later, to help cover a vacation-created schedule hole, and I have been working on one of those projects where every step you take finds three other things that need to be fixed first.  Arrrgh!  And earaches all week, too.  Next week, I should have a little time to deal with doc-in-a-box and maybe find out if it's an infection or what.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Another Day, Another Series Of Calculated Insults

     Or, considering the likely-innumerate source, uncalculated.  "Hyuck-hyuck, I never met a female engineer before."  Yes, but now that they have put a gen-yew-ine railroad through your holler, you'll likely meet lots more, and won't that be an education for you?

     Women have been doing technical geekery since long before Lady Ada Lovelace invented the computer program.  Back in the Middle Ages, most of the brewers in England were women and to this very day, there's one room filled with power equipment and specialized tools to be found in nearly every American home.  It's not the garage or the basement and the odds are extremely small Dad is in charge of it: it's the kitchen.

     We're in your computer.  We helped design your car.  We're here, we can solder and even run a slide rule.  Get over it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

No, He's Not. Probably

     For about thirty seconds, it looked as if Indiana Governor Mike Pence was giving serious thought to running as Donald Trump's #2.  (Leaving Chris Christie as, I don't know, a human stepstool?  Oh, those wacky eastern potentates!)

     ...Then he realized he had a fair shot at one more term as Governor, the RFRA mess notwithstanding, and why risk his whole bankroll on a single spin of the wheel?

     On the other hand, this is the man who managed to endorse both Mr. Cruz officially and Mr. Trump backhandedly leading up to the Indiana primary, so don't count him out yet; the wheel is spinning, the dice could be hot and who knows, he may think Lady Luck is winking at him.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

This Morning's Omelette

     Ah, what an omelette it is, put together from odds and ends of this and that: chipotle chicken sausage (spicy-warm, not hot), applewood-smoked bacon, Swiss cheese, and a bright-red, mild chili pepper.  Got al the filling cooking and checked the fridge: only two eggs.  So three saltines and two big tortilla chips got mashed up, then I added enough water to soak 'em and that stretched it far enough.  Spices?  A little cilantro, some chives, just a bit of an accent to the other flavors.

Monday, May 09, 2016

And Now It's Monday

     Went to see Mom X yesterday afternoon.  She's doing much better.  Took her a lovely pink and green hydrangea -- a live one, so it will last.  My sister had brought her an orchid of similar hues, in a tall glass container with no dirt(!) - just add water for half an hour a couple times a week, and pour the water off afterward.

     Tam and I have got a lot done with the yard.  There's plenty more still to do, and a week of off and on rain to keep us from it, but progress has been made and expectations are more-or-less high.

     And now it's Monday:

     Back to the shrug.  It pays well and the toys are wonderful.  And every time the music stops, there are fewer chairs left.

     I have got to get back to writing fiction regularly.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Yard Work...

     It's doin' me in.  I got to bed worn out and achy and wake with the pains redistributed.

     We have yet to weedwhack the back yard but it's got to happen today and sooner rather than later.  I did make one discovery yesterday: pulling Virginia Creeper (like ivy but way more murderous) from an abandoned woodpile, I noticed various interesting fungal growths and among them, one that was kind of shiny-looking.  Gray-green, with darker spots....  I'd uncovered the napping spot of a limax maximus, the Great Gray Slug!  It was a medium-sized example, maybe three or four inches long and over a half-inch in diameter.  I made a little shield around it with some bark -- limax is on the custodial staff of the Great Outdoors, you see.  Mostly carnivorous, they eat dead bugs and may even hunt down the smaller slugs and such, including the ones that eat plants.  I have written about the slugs of Roselhome Cottage before.

     There's one more thing about them: they return home every day.  Yes, they pick a spot and come back.  So I'm going to have to leave that one billet of wood, if I want a big slug to keep the smaller slugs in check.

     I don't know if they hunt snails, too, but the number of empty snail shells I have casually encountered suggests something around here does.  I was collecting the empties on the Plate Of Mystery (it showed up stuck vertically into the soft sod of the back yard after a thunderstorm!) and when I took some recent ones over, one of the previous "empties" had sported foot, head and a pair of eyestalks and was making a crawl for freedom!  I moved it to a more snail-friendly location, figuring it deserved a fighting chance.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Much Done, More To Do

     The entire surface of the delightful back-garden patio is now fully exposed to the sun for the first time in a couple of years.  I'd started stacking fallen tree limbs in one corner quite some time ago and, well....  There certainly were a lot of them!

     Tam and I lifted and hauled, shoveled and hauled, mowed and trimmed the front yard and hauled, picking up more fallen limbs as we went.  There is more yet to do, but the patio, at least, is cleared and a canvas dumpster out front is full.

     Went to bed sore and tired, slept like a log and woke up with a few lingering aches.  On the other hand, I grilled some lovely filet mignon kebabs for dinner last night, which had a wonderfully restorative effect.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Ah, Sleeping In

     I have the day off.  I could do it.  I did.

     Much to do.  Maybe a report about later.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Short Sleep, Bad Worries, Bad Badness

     Last night was the first night this week I had anything like a full night's sleep.  Seven hours: a luxury! 

     Mom's nursing home continues to be a problem; it is clear staff is overworked, underpaid and even the skilled workers are from the middle third of the talent pool at best: paint-by-numbers nurses in a job that's anything but.  One of them tried to double-dose her pain meds last night, on the premise that "she missed her afternoon pill because she was at the doctor's office; she took that one late and I'm just catching her up now."  Not two hours after the first dose.  Hey, maybe that would be okay for an antibiotic or skin ointment, but it's not how narcotic pain relievers work and A) I expect a nurse -- any nurse! -- to know it* plus B) procedures should be in place to prevent it.  You know what happens when you give frail old people too heavy a dose of this kind of pain pills?  They stop breathing.

     If I'm unhappy, my siblings are even more so; one was on the scene and the other is presently driving back from a road trip, seething with anger.  He's the level-headed one and has been point-of-contact with the retirement home from the beginning. He'll be here today to, in his word, "sort 'em out."  Alas, I fear that harvest is mostly chaff.
* I expect candy-stripers to know this.  I expect staffers at the levels that are the reason such pills are (supposedly) under lock and key, dispensation and dispensor (supposedly) tracked by logbook to know this.  For that matter, I expect pill-popping bums from Rush Limbaugh down to toothless box-dwellers in the the alleyways to know this: take too many of these kinds of pills in too short a period of time and your lungs stop pushing air.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Indiana Primaries

     My fellow Hoosiers have voted and they gave the tree quite a shake.  Senator Ted "Let Me At 'Im" Cruz* has retired his campaign in favor of Donald Trump -- the same guy he was decrying as an amoral Danger To The Republic a day or two earlier.  On the other team, Senator Sanders, having squeaked past Secretary Clinton on a 52/48 percent split, is calling his a "great victory."

     Looks like we want to see Hugo Chavez vs. Mussolini in Indiana, no?  Pundits are pointing in awe and wonder at the "deep divide" in American politics.

     As usual, they're full of it.  Here's how it works: Secretary Clinton and Senator Cruz are seen as Washington Insiders, part of The Establishment.  (This is a bit unfair to Ted Cruz, but the perception is there).  Mr. Trump and Senator Sanders are seen as outsiders, mavericks, men who'll take The System by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shaking.  (This view, too, is a bit askew from reality but nevertheless real.)  The ends of the bell curve won in Indiana based on something the voters have in common.

     Take my state as a rough microcosm for the nation (we're a bit to the right of center, but we're that way on the map, too.)  Americans are tired of "business as usual," of "same old same old."  King Stork looks way more interesting the King Log.

     ...There's that old saw about "interesting times," but here we are.  And the times certainly are becoming interesting.
* I will note that "scary weirdos in the washrooms" did not appear to be nearly as effective an election ploy as "scary border-sneaks."  This may be in part because, panic aside, most people understand that criminal deviant conduct is as illegal in California's la-la land as it is in North Carolina; this was the case before NC decided to police the bathrooms exactly as much as it is afterwards.  On the other hand, ill-intentioned foreigners who want to kill U.S. citizens and blow stuff up is a much more evening-news-featured story, with plenty of examples from 2001 to present.  You know what the actual danger hiding behind theses drastically oversimplified and over-inflated issue have in common?  Armed citizens serve as at least something of a deterrent.  Pervs and jihadis fear citizen response.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

News "Media"

     Interesting headline-link seen at the L.  A. Times website:

     "Gov." Bloomberg, is it?  Nope.  Never happened.  Y'know, when Hoosier spinsters from "a cornfield with lights" fact-check your damnable rag, that's a sign you should maybe hire yourself journalists who actually, you know, journalize.  Or get all the way out of the news business and just sell litterbox and birdcage liner with ads printed on it.

     Remember when we had newspapers?  Newspapers that even when their politics were contemptible, got the facts right and didn't confuse they're, there and their?  Newspapers that maintained a "morgue" of back issues with an index, and kept current copies of an Unabridged Dictionary and at least one fat, multivolume encyclopedia?  And later on, used the actual Worldwide Web as a backup to that?

     Yeah, well, reporters once stuck their press card into their hatband, and you used to able to set the choke and start your car with a crank, too.  Kiss 'em goodbye, just like the dodo and the passenger pigeon.  Buh-bye, newspapers!  Buh-bye!

Retirement Home Goat-Rope

     The nameless technician whose work product gave us Major Edward A. Murphy Jr. (formulator)* and Colonel John P. Stapp M.D., Ph.D.'s (popularizer) "Murphy's Law" could not have created a greater screw-up.  Then again, he was just wiring up four-wire strain gauges; yesterday's mess involved several levels of administrators, nurses and aides.

     Late yesterday afternoon, in an appointment made last week, Mom needed to go from the retirment home's hospital-lite† to a surgical oblast of the hospital, specializing in oculofacial work.  It had been arranged she would travel on a gurney, via ambulance.  So I showed at the appointed hour and lo, a bus driver appeared rather than an ambulance.  He was a bit skeptical of getting her in a wheelchair, what with the neck collar and all, so he asked for help moving her to it, which is where Mom's aide (from, let us note, an outside agency, not retirement center staff) and I realized the metaphorical wheels had done come off.  I corralled one of the administrative types from our conference last week and received somewhat snippy assurances that "doctors don's make that decision, we do," and "It's a perfectly safe way for her to travel."  Him not being an M.D or a Nurse-Practitioner, I asked him to confirm with her chart and the top nurse on duty.  Oddly enough, he returned shortly (still snippy) to say the ambulance was delayed but would be there in "about fifteen minutes."  H'mm, so much for "perfectly safe way...to travel," ey? Fricking stonewalled by a shitheel?  Sonny, I have to take that at work; from you, not so much.

     There was way more confusion and back-and-forth than I have time to describe, none of it in any way demonstrating concern for the patient, let alone effectiveness or organization.  Eventually, Mom's aide recognized the 'bolance livery though an outside door, went to check with them, and discovered they'd been waiting for several minutes at least.

    Have I mentioned Tam took time off from her writing and online work to drive me, as I'd been up since the previous evening for work?  Mom, aide and a pair'a paramendices took Mom to the doc in the big ambulance while Tam drove me. Tam waited in the car, so it was only Mom-plus-four waiting and waiting in the doctor's office (overscheduled as usual and you can't really blame the M.D.s: anymore, they just work there, same as the janitor).  Once the doctor got around to us, he was great, and Mom won't need additional surgery for the other (small) broken bone.  He even took out the complex stitches the ER had used on her forehead.

     We got Mom back a bit after dinner-time, some three hours or more after everyone (except the transport!) had showed up to move her.  Mom was feeling pretty good.  I was barely coherent.  After a short chat, I went home and slept, forgetting to reset my alarms and sleeping right through them until my normal waking time. 

     This would have been kind of difficult but not that bad had it gone as planned.  As it was, there were several occasions when I was pondering planting myself in the center of the nurses's station/office area and commencing to scream as a mildest-possible response.

     I'm not impressed with this place -- and I know from grim experience that as such places go, it's above-average. 

     The New Deal promised Mom's generation certain things and I feel obligated to help deliver.  My generation?  Let's just say my expectations are lower and I have planned accordingly.
* "Murphy was said by his son to have regarded the many jocular versions of the law as 'ridiculous, trivial and erroneous.' His attempts to have the law taken more seriously were unsuccessful."  --Wikipedia.  Maj. Murphy was a proponent of "defensive design," which examines worst-case scenarios and their probability, then redesigns around them as needed.
†  Hospital very light, if you ask me, and not all of it their own fault.  Turns out bed rails are all but illegal now, partially because of their use as a restraint device, partially because they're not a very good restraint -- high-side a bed rail and your injuries are worse than they would have been had you only fallen from the bed -- and partially because patients were getting tangled up in them and being injured or killed.  Much of that could be solved by, ahem, defensive design (and the rest at least addressed by regulations), but we're woefully short on Edward Murphys these days.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Stormy Weather!

     Thunderstorms and a tornado rumbled through later Sunday, passing barely to the soouth of Broad Ripple.  I can't say I miss the chance of what was reported as egg-sized hail.

     Yeah, ponder that: egg-sized.  An umbrella's not gonna help.

     Not saying the weather around here spins trees, but...

     At least we get some good sunsets and sunrises from our storms:

     Not to mention scenes with a bit of Magritte to them! 
     Off to work now.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Mayday! Mayday!

     (It's not a real distress call unless you say it three times.  Still Felony Stupid over the radio, though.)

     I'm looking at this election, which appears to be boiling itself down to Senator Clinton vs. Mr. Trump, and damned if I don't wonder if we should send up flares and start screamin' for help in French, which is what "Mayday!" really is.

     No, it's not the prospect of The Donald or Miz Hillary per se that frets me; we've had worse.

     It's the ignorance of the electorate, abetted by grinning, vapid, cocksure jackanapes of whatever remains of the press.  "Clinton will take away our guns!" "Trump will expel all the Muslims!"  Bull -- pardon my French yet again -- crap.

     Presidents don't have that power.  Congress kind of does; anyway, that's where the attempt will be made.  And the balance of power in the Senate (you would not know this from The News) is kind of precarious this go-round.  The House, not so much.  Hey, does anyone know which chamber it is that confirms Supreme Court Justices?  (Presidents nominate -- and I'd like better nominees -- but the Senate says yea or nay).  And who remembers how a bill becomes law?

     You see this same thing at the state level. There are yard signs all over Indy bearing versions of "PENCE MUST GO," and that's about Indiana's "Restoration of Religious Freedom Act." Love it or hate it, Governor Mike Pence only cheerleadered for it and failed to veto it -- that baby was bred and raised in the State Legislature.  That's where the blame or praise should be directed. Which is not happening.

     The older I get, the more I suspect the real winner of WWII was Fuhrerprinzip.  Oh, the Allies stomped the Fascists, but their damnable notions have got the last laugh (aided in no small measure by the Great -- for which read "autocratic" -- Leaders of the Allied side). Voters think when they pick a Chief Executive, he or she will rule by decree; or they fear if the Other Party's creature wins, she or he will rule likewise.  That ain't their job! But when we keep treating them as if it was, that's what we're going to get, by and by.

     Dammit, this is how you get Caesars.  Do you want a Caesar?

     Don't answer.  History's gonna do that for you.  I don't think it will be pretty.