Monday, February 29, 2016

The Weather Hurt Yesterday

     It was a windy, lovely day.  It was shockingly warm despite the gusty breezes that shook dead branches from the trees, but I didn't spend much time out in it.

     The barometer was falling, too, you see.  Falling fast and as it fell, I had sharp. staggering pains in the left side of my skull.  Yeah, had it for years and yeah, should have expected it--  But I didn't, and it still  hurts like hell.  I got a few things done around the house (including nice from-scratch oyster & vegetable stew for dinner) but mostly I just endeavored to persevere.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Literary Engineering Critic

     One wonders how much better a book The Difference Engine might have been if Mr. Gibson and Mr. Sterling had a realistic appreciation of the size/power/fuel supply/water supply ratios of condensing and non-condensing steam engines. I love the book, I enjoy their other books, but oh! for the lack of one historically-minded collaborator from Babcock & Wilcox!

     (They do play non-condensing steam engines for a bit of a laugh and I give them much credit for that.  I also need to remember to buy a little tabletop stationary engine to use as a humidifier next winter.)

     At that, they are well ahead of most steampunk in their understanding of steam prime movers, especially external-combustion piston engines.  In such an engineering-based SF byway, why are so few bothering to run the numbers through their Babbage engines?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Why This Presidential Election Makes Me Sad

     My problem is that the Sanders and Trump campaigns are for people who enjoy replacing reason with emotion, rationality with rationalizing -- and the Clinton campaign is for people willing to replace memory with imagination (or perhaps a searing white emptiness).

     If you like any of them (or the other candidates), good for you!  I didn't say you were stupid, just indulging in one form or another or wishful thinking.   Things will surely be better if you're right and I'm wrong.

     ...But the electoriat in general is dumb and steadily getting dumber. I read Cyril Kornbluth's "Marching Morons" stories years ago; I know what it means when "performance" cars have to play engine sounds through the stereo system to keep the driver happy.  The vapid uselessness of popular culture mounts steadily and in more ways than one.  We're well past the Age Of The Common Man and entering the age of the Illiterate Techno-Peasant With A Grudge.  Better buckle in; it's going to be bumpy.  Care for a nice glass of lead-laced water for the ride?

     (And yet-- And yet!  Says right here the Flynn Effect shows we're getting less stupid, though the trend may be leveling off in the most-developed countries.  One wonders if there is a similar metric for common sense -- and if it shows an opposite trend.)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Simple Goal

Today's goal: to not be an asshole. Join me, please. Let's take it one day at a time, no big long-range goals, no thought of reward, just, "Today, I will try to not be an asshole."

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Eight Hours Sleep

     Only woke up five or six times and most of them were very, very short -- up, think, "Hunh, I'm awake and I don't hurt anywhere," fiddle the electric blanket up or down, and right back out.  What a relief.

     Messages from my boss on my home and cell phones must have come in while I was asleep.  I'm sorry, what part of, "I'm going to take a prescription painkiller when I get home," was unclear?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Sleep, Blessed Sleep

      I'm home.  I felt lousy all day, though I got a lot done.  Fell once or twice, don't know why.  Home, hurting, took Vicodin (per prescription) and I hope for a deep and healing sleep.

Unscheduled Overtime? Again?

     Yes.  I worked a fill-in shift early Saturday (on twelve hours notice) and got tapped for a task no one in my department knew needed done as I was leaving at the end of that workday.

     I was on the early shift Sunday and Monday, too, which meant I didn't sleep much; it disrupts my OTC pain meds and I keep waking up with severe headaches.  Woken up by them, in fact, which is not nice.

     Then the long swing back to days -- got home Monday utterly exhausted, fell into bed, woke up about five hours later and was so shaky and spacey I just ordered pizza and sat in front of the TV until I was sleepy enough to go back to bed.  Of course, I kept waking up.

     Tuesday, I was gradually made aware that my department -- me, personally -- had been "volunteered" to do some electrical work for another department (IT), apparently by yet a third one (Building Maintenance, who usually do all small electrical work other than power to the Engineering racks).  And that it needed to be done that day.  And I learned even that much by casual remarks from people who assumed someone else had told me, and much too late to sit down, plan the job, check what parts we had and buy whatever was needed.  I had to hunt down the people placing the equipment and even they were kind of hazy on the details of their power requirements -- but oh, they needed it right now.  Or maybe just some of it...

     I worked nearly four hours over, getting the "some of it" done using salvaged and leftover parts and it's a funny thing, but those fellows who just had to have that work done that very day (including the manager of the IT department) all left, presumably for dinner, and never came back.

     My trip home was a miracle of (fuzzy) mind over (sleepy) body and I was in bed by midnight.  Only six hours of sleep but I only woke up once, so that's something.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

On Your Hip Or Otherwise Secured

     These are the two (2) answers to "Where should I keep guns when they are not in use?"  I guess we could add "slung," as in "longarm."

     The idea is to prevent access by the irresponsible, ill-intentioned and/or ignorant.  I wish I could tell you that list was only criminals and children but it's not; a local retired police detective tells the story of playing card with some friends and having taken off his (personal) Browning Hi Power, holster and all, because it kept hitting the chair.  As the afternoon wore on, he made a trip to washroom -- and forgot his gun.  When he returned, the pother players had his gun out and were fiddling with it.  "We saw it had gotten cocked," they told him, "and we were trying to fix that."

     Yeah.  No damage done -- that time.  Sometimes the outcome is far worse: recently, an Indianapolis father was shot and killed when his child picked up a revolver he'd laid down.  It wasn't secured.  A safe, a locked case, a trigger lock, a locked room, even a high shelf -- hang it from the ceiling fan for all I care, as long as it is out of reach of anyone but you.  When your gun leaves your immediate control, you need to secure it.

     Safety is a habit that must be cultivated.  Tamara's sidearm is either holstered and on her belt, or securely stored (for Roseholme Cottage values of "secure.")  When not secured, mine is carried off-body due to my work (empty holsters are deemed inappropriate at my workplace) -- and Tam's caught me forgetting it in the washroom when I have been carrying it holstered.  We haven't cultivated the same habit.  In a child-free home where all visitors are vetted, it's not such a big deal -- until it is, during some time (vacation, etc.) when I'm carrying it on my belt and not at home.

     What are your habits?  Are they safe -- or deadly?  According to friends and family, the father who was shot had carried a gun nearly all of his adult life.  Habits are a garden; they must be tended, cultivated and sometimes weeded.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Hagridden?

     Over the last two nights, I have had, I don't know, five hours sleep?  Six?  Not enough.  Headaches, odd noises, sunlight (eventually), backaches, worries and that what-if-I-eat-the-stairs state of mind you reach (well, I do.  YMMV) after enough time without adequate sleep have all contributed to create a particularly abysmal amateur Hell.

     Gotta go into work but I am giving serious thought to knocking off early and taking a nice narcotic pain reliever (for which I have a prescription) to turn things off long enough to try to get my supply of Zzzs back to normal. 

     This tired and yet I still don't want to vote for Donald or Bernie or Hillary.  So much for that serendipitous experiment.

     (Also, the spell-corrector in my Surface has got to go.  The things it does to fix my typos are far worse than the typos themselves.)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday, Sunday, Bad News Day

     By now, you'll have the latest news about the "spree shooter" in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  From early reports, it's another loser with a curdled brain, whose crimes will be used in the attempts to restrict everyone's access to firearms.

     I know, I know -- the proper course of action is to stand with heads bowed, somber and silent: real people with real families have been injured and killed.  Yes, they have, and you can count on the Brady Center and Mr. Bloomberg's shills to make much of it.  Me, I wish some victim or witness had had a chance to stop him but all accounts agree that he struck quickly, unexpectedly and apparently at random.  Nobody is ready for that, not even people who think they are; we expect -- and nearly always find -- that those around us are not ill-inclined, or at least will give a little warning.

     That's why these crimes are wrenching; it's a blow not just at the victims but at the normal functioning of society.  People who will undertake such actions are dangerous with anything, not just guns. 

     This killer ran of of steam when confronted by police, as so many similar malefactors do.  Hours had passed; unlike his victims, the police had some notion what they were up against.

     It's a tragedy.  It's not a blunt instrument to be wielded against the Constitution and yet-- In less than 24 hours, it will be.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Yes, Late Again

     It's a beautiful day -- sunny skies, sixty-oh-my-Heavens-degrees outside.  The wind has mostly died down and by golly, I got my motor scooter started up without too much drama.

     But I'm not riding.  Didn't go to the range, either, and I'm overdue.  About 1630 Friday, the tech who normally works 0500 - 1300 on Saturday called in sick.  There were three of us who could fill in; one was off, thanks to the rotating-overtime we all work that results in an occasional three-day weekend (preceded by a 1-day weekend, so it's no prize).  The next had an appointment.  And the third?  The third was me.

     So I cut out early, and was promised I'd only need to work until 1000.  That'd get me home in time for nice, fresh donuts and a cuppa joe, and leave a little extra to run to the range, possibly on my scooter, even after I went to the supermarket and did a load of laundry.  Yay, me, all that and OT pay, too!

     Yeah, no.  Along about 1001, I'm slouching off towards Babylon with my briefcase and lunchbox, fixin' to ride the rough beast* northward, when the center came unpinned and the falcon† spun out, deaf: a couple of Production people asked me just when I thought I would have the spare set of monitors set up, because they needed to check the lighting and such on the backup stretch of green wall.

     This was all news to me and I admitted as much, which confused them.  Did I not know the main greenscreen wall was being sanded, spackled and painted?  (This in a room with I don't know, nearly a million dollars of sensitive optics and electronics.  "Not my circus. Not my monkeys.") Nope.  I started in on that project, which took right around 2 and a half hours of high-speed motion, fixed it up and arrived home punchy and frazzled.

     But consolation, the donut place is usually open 'til 1400, so I was good, right?  Yum, tasty-- CLOSED.  Sorry, We Sold Out Early.

     Sheesh.  I did laundry while watching TV,‡ then at least started my motorscooter, warmed it up, sat in the saddle and thought happy thoughts.

     Tomorrow is predicted to be as much as twenty degrees colder.
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* This is all a series of skewed poetical references, not random tired Jabberwocky.  Well, it's that, too.

Actually, it's an an older RX300.  Alas, metaphor!  Oops, here come Yeats and he does not look best pleased.

‡ HBO's True Detective, Season One.  This is very much not family fare but it's utterly brilliant TV -- H. P. Lovecraft and Dashiell Hammet, as filmed by the producer and crew of Homicide: Life On The Street and directed by Stanley Kubrick.  Seriously, it's that good.  But you'll need a thick skin.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Gaia Knows Best?

     Some of my friends are wondering if the Zika virus isn't simply Nature's way of adapting humanity to the apparently inevitable choice of Mr. Trump or Sen. Sanders for President of the U.S.  They may be onto something.

     I was thinking of such an election as more along the lines of having the choice of getting your car repainted by punks with rattlecans, or by winos using brooms and house paint, but I guess I was thinking too small.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

No Morning Post?

     I had to get up and go into work early to meet some tower guys.  Their time is scarce and their fees are high, and early was what they had available. 

     But we did fix the problem!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

"I Wouldn't Leave The House In Those Shoes"

     Yeah, well, you wouldn't.  Maybe that guy or gal over there would.  Maybe I would.  The Romans said, "De gustibus non disputandum est," but what they meant was, "There ain't a point to arguing personal style."

     This even applies to style we find distasteful.  You may not like the looks of a person with a face full of piercings, but only the users of large electromagnets have a valid reason to turn them away at the door.  Tattoos, strange attire that hews to local law on what's seen vs obscene, public displays of affection likewise... -- it's a long, long list and a web-wander through The People Of Wal-Mart will curdle your hair.

     So when a blogger I like and respect looked figuratively sideways at OCer's with a full-sized plastic-frame autopistol and a couple of spare mags, I understood he was like my Mom being squicked by excessive tattoos: not sayin' it should be illegal, merely finding it declassé.

     Well, friends, this is a great big world and if we edited out everything everyone finds distasteful, pretty soon there wouldn't be anything left, not even cheese or pencils.  Yeah, yeah, carrying a gun at people (as Tamara says) is frikkin' rude, but picking your nose standing in line at the grocery story is way more so and yet that hasn't stopped some people.  It's possible (I'm told) to set up a legal framework that leaves people free, but you can't make 'em classy.  Let 'em out of the house and some are going to shop in their PJs.  Others are going to skip the toothbrush.  Freedom includes the freedom to offend -- so long as you do not assault.  It's not always comfortable or nice; that's not how it works.

     If you can't understand that, perhaps you should consider running for public office.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What To Write, What To Write....

     I'm at a loss.  This year's primaries/R. Crum cartoon (could even he have dreamed it up?) depress me and leave me longing for the statesmanship and class of Johnson (L.B., not Andrew) and Nixon in their most unguarded moments.  We've lost a Supreme Court Justice and I don't trust the current President or any of the candidates to pick a replacement who won't be some kind of disaster.* The economy is still nasty and a large HVAC manufacturer here in Indianapolis has, after lavish grants, tax breaks, a personal massage† from at least one Governor and other enticements, decided to absquatulate for Mexico, where the bribes are cheaper, nobody minds a little lead or carbon tet, you can beat up the workforce and pee right in the river.  The United States has priced itself out of the manufacturing business; this is not a new story.

     There's much to lampoon in all that (and I just did) but none of it really moves me.  The United States is on the way down.  Oh, it's a long, slow slide.  Oh, some Cato -- possibly Cato, a name they did not choose lightly -- can stand up and decry it.  But what are Mr. Trump, Sen. Sanders, Ms. Clinton, Sens. Cruz, Rubio and the rest‡ if not prospective Caesars, all of them seemingly unaware of the limits on Presidential powers, painting rosy pictures of a new Golden Age of Greatness, Fairness, Moral Values, Sharing, Inclusion and Strong Fences?

     The peak has passed.  It was a great peak, and the decline will have its times of greatness, too, but it is nevertheless a decline.  Roman civilization took centuries to fade away; Empire outlasted Republic by up to a thousand years, depending on how you score it. We can expect similar and there is no shame in fighting a valiant delaying action.  Just don't kid yourself.  In the glory days, this country had no need to question its greatness (whatever that word means to you), and neither did its politicians.  It was self-evident.  Now they're kinda having to hunt.  To qualify.  To bluster.  Don't be fooled; Caesar lusts for a throne, and after him, there are plenty more. 
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* I will take sides in the "Don't confirm!" debate, though: the Senate has the right and obligation to not consent to a choice they deem inadvisable.  It's right there in the job description, just as it was in 2007, when the Dems didn't want a Republican President on the way out to pick a new Supreme Court Justice.  Don't like it?  Here's the amendment process, there's a pencil.  Shaddup and start writing.  Or just shut up.
 
†  That's what they're calling it.  Polite people do not inquire.
 
‡ "...here on Gilligan's Isle!"  You know, Gilligan's Island is most people's mental model for the Federal Government, if you think about it.  The President/Skipper, Veep/Gilligan, Thurston P. Howell/Senate, Lovey Howell/Supreme Court, Ginger and Mary Ann/House and The Professor is every Cabinet Bureau and Agency.  And the Feds are every bit as mature, organized and effective as those seven stranded castaways, too -- except they command real guns.    

Monday, February 15, 2016

Streamlined McElroys

     T. R. McElroy was a blazing fast telegrapher -- any code, any time.  He worked both landline and radiotelegraphy, and set speed records.

     But he was ambitious, too.  In the 1930s, he started manufacturing semiautomatic telegraph keys of his own design, massive, heavy bugs that suited his sending -- and which appealed to plenty of others, too.

     The original Mac bugs were heavy, rectilinear keys with their own style, a little "Arts & Crafts meet heavy industrial" look.  But the times --and the styles -- were changing and shortly before WW II, Mac introduced a series of streamlined telegraph keys unlike any any other, culminating in the S-600 Super Streamspeed semiautomatic key, possibly the most graceful "bug" ever made.

     I own a few Mac keys and recently bought an accessory:
     There's an uncommon Bakelite-based Streamkey at far left, followed by a Telegraph Apparatus Co. (not Inc.) copy* of the wrinkle-finished metal-base Streamkey (you can tell by the bulge in the lever arm at the contact area) and a pair of chrome-plated McElroys.  The Streamkey is at far left, and it handles just as fast and sleek as it looks.  At the very back, the accessory and its box: an Oscillatone code-practice oscillator.  They are not especially rare and this one was offered at a very low price -- how could I pass it up?

     Restoration will be interesting.  The Bakelite is likely to be very brittle.

     There are still McElroys in the electronics business.  They're not making telegraph keys any more, but the name lives on.
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* TACo was a co-venture between McElroy and Hallicrafters.  They built copies of Mac Streamkeys and their own interesting semiautomatic key, sometimes known as the "hole-in-the-wall" bug.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Scanning, Hamfest

     Yesterday, I gave my desktop problems a "lick and a prayer," and went to the Brownsburg Hamfest in the morning, then visited my Mom in the afternoon.

     Mom is well; she needed a longer cord on her telephone to get it where she wanted it, and I was able to provide one.  Her new apartment is laid out just like her old one, but includes better response from the nursing staff.  "Not that much better," she tells me, though they checked in with her while I was there.  If they're at least a little more on the qui vive, that will be a help.

     The hamfest was nice.  It's a small one but there are usually interesting antique items, plus a couple of the traveling/online suppliers are there regularly -- Debco, who stock a nice line of coax connectors (among many other things of use to the electronics hobbyist), and a fellow from Illinois who always has a good selection of books, modern keys, coax and antennas and related hardware.  I bought connectors and coax (RG-8X: most of the benefits of RG-8 but the size of RG-59), plus a homebrew antenna switch, a small stack of late-1940s and early-1950s QST and CQ magazines, and a WW II-era McElroy "Oscillatone" code-practice oscillator in the original box, as nice-looking a streamlined Bakelite item as you could imagine.  (Photos later at "Retrotechnologist" and possibly here.)

     This morning, it's back to the desktop computer.  I downloaded Spybot: Search and Destroy and MalwareBytes on my Surface, carried them over to the (offline) desktop on a thumb drive and I'm in the process of running them now.  This in addition to the somewhat-nannying McAfee antivirus that runs n the background all the time.  We'll see what, if anything, turns up. 

     It has been very cold and my time outdoors has made my right knee and left ear/migraine/trigeminal whatever both act up.  Hotpad helps and I am hoping a nice hot bath will help more.

     (I'm composing this on my Surface.  It's a fine machine but the spellcheck is aggressive and has tried to turn "hamfest" into "Hamlet" -- and just now "Hammett" -- and "hombrew" into "Hebrew" and "hombres." No doubt there are Jewish cowboy hams* and probably more than you'd think, but I have no idea about the provenance of that antenna selector.)
__________________________
* Does Kinky Friedman have an amateur radio license?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Friday, February 12, 2016

Nope, No Better

     In fact, I feel worse, though at least not physically.  Yesterday, I found out my department head apparently and without telling anyone threw out our one (1) end-of-year test equipment request, a portable high-definition videoscope that my immediate supervisor and I had put considerable work into finding the best price/performance and then leaned hard on multiple vendors to push the quoted price down. Oh, joy.

     Always good to know your leaders trust your ability to select and make good use of the proper tools.  Or so I hear.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Outsiders Inside

     The HuffPo has gone schizty:

     Yeppers, those socialistic, xenophobic New Hamsters are a-gonna break out into decidedly uncivil war any day now.

     Or not.

     You'll probably hate me for saying this, but those Donald and Bernie voters are, in many ways, voting for the same thing: they want the "Washington insiders" out.  What wafts from D.C. these days is anything but inspirational and no matter which totemic animal you follow, waddling pachyderm or braying jackass, it doesn't have your best interests at heart.  We've got, mostly, King Hog rather than King Log and its troughs are overflowing.  Mr. Sanders and Mr. Trump are both very much King Stork -- and in the end, the voters may well get what the froggies got.*  Nevertheless, they're darned sure they don't like what they have now, so promises of more of the same with a different arrangement of deck chairs and going-under music† don't hold much appeal at the ballot box.

     Votors often prefer "outsider" candidates for President, especially if they're not too outside.  And there's nothing they'd like more than to see the waters turn in the nation's capitol.  As a cautionary note for both sides, I will note the last times voters went for a new face at the helm, we got Presidents Carter, Reagan -- and Obama, sweeping in with "hope" and "change."   How are you liking those odds?

     Alas, the odds are odder and lower-grade than ever this time.  Those three had their flaws (pick your least fave and there's plenty to loathe!) but none of them was Mussolini with no style or Lenin with no brain.  Brace for King Stork!
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* Aesop told the tale -- and please note he lists not two but three kinds of rule.  Alas, once you've opted for kings, you lose the first and best option: self-rule.
 
Your choice of "Autumn" or "Nearer My God To Thee."

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Cold-Weather Food

     There's maybe a half-inch of fine, powder snow on the ground -- and the streets and sidewalks, the kind of stuff any self-respecting skiing outfit longs for.  Here on the flatlands, it does us no earthly good.  It turns the streets as slick as a greased weasel.  It's too thin to plow and too cold for road salt to do much.  Traffic slows to a crawl, except for the occasional optimist with a 4WD, fancy tires, and a soon-to-be-updated appreciation of classical physics, not to mention insurance.

     Weather like this, you need food that goes the distance -- hydration, fuel and maybe a little comfort.  I made leftover-chicken stew last night and here it is:

     1 medium onion
     3 or 4 carrots (or twice as many of those bagged-up washed & tumbled carrot sections)
     3 or 4 stalks of celery
     1 tomato or a little left-over chili.  You could try a small can of tomato sauce if you have neither.
     1 package of fresh mushrooms, rinsed
     About a pound of leftover chicken (I bought a couple of precooked chicken breast halves from the deli.  Leave the skin on or not, as suits you.)
     32 ounces of chicken broth or stock, home-made or store-bought (the low-sodium kind tastes just as good and allows you to salt you bowl to taste.  The low-fat versions are usually good, too, though some are too salty -- check the label.)

     In a good-sized pot over medium heat, put a little olive oil and butter, maybe a teaspoon each.  Have the onion chopped (about 3/8", you want spoon-sized chunks) and ready to go in as soon as the butter is melted and before it browns. Stir occasionally.   Mind the heat through this, you just want to gently saute the veggies. Chop up the carrot to similar size, and toss it in.  Stir that up and then chop the celery and add it.  If you went with a tomato, cut it up and add it now.  Cut up the chicken while watching/stirring the vegetables and when their colors start to get intense, add the mushrooms.  Finish cutting up the chicken (bribing cats if necessary) and stir it in.  A minute or two will get the chicken heated up, at which point you pour in the broth.  If you are using leftover chili or tomato paste or sauce, add it now.  (I had a cup or less of three-meat, no-beans chili from yesterday).  Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally -- 20 minutes is about the minimum, an hour would be fine.  The broth will be a rich, deep red-gold.  The steam carries the distinct aromas of the main ingredients and should call diners to the table all by itself.  Salt and pepper to taste.

     You can add spices to this, though my version picked up all it needed from the chili.  Fresh garlic would be good if you don't mind it; paprika (hot or sweet) and/or thyme would work, as would some basil.  If you're anticipating a busy day of snow-shoveling and the like, you might want to add noodles, either good old egg noodles or some kind of pasta (rotini?  Elbow macaroni? Broken spaghetti?).  This will thicken the broth a little, too.  Just get the broth near boiling and add the pasta to cook for seven minutes or so.  You may need to punch up the spices a bit if you do this.

     Serves four easily -- or two people for a couple of days.  Frozen and reheated, it's even better.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Happy Monday!

     ...It's as easy to be happy about it as not.  So why not pick the better option?

     Man, with all this evidence of one, there has got to be a pony in here somewhere.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

The Horrible-Awful Whatever-It-Is

     No, no, not the Presidential candidate pool -- the cold or flu Tam is fighting.  If I have it, it's a mild case and has mainly triggered my headaches to flip from "dull" to "sharp"* along with sinus congestion and drainage.

     Maybe that flu shot helped.
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* Because "agonizing" sounds whiny.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

We Aten't Ded

     Tam has a really awful cold and I'm playing nursemaid while trying not to catch it.  Just fed her chicken soup, rye toast and a blood orange.  (Plus a strip of bacon and an olive, as a treat.)

     Looks like she's gonna make it.

     Edited-To-Add, much later: I'm probably coming down with it, too.  Well, that was inevitable.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Nightmare In Glue

     Most of the past week has been a nightmare of swimming in glue, everything going ...tooooo....slooooowly... while the world lept by like lightning.  The completion of tasks receded at at crawl only barely faster than the glacial pace I was moving at, yet slipping farther and farther away the harder I tried.

     Why?  I don't know.  Swing shift weeks have always suffered from this and I try to go into them with plenty of sleep.  Maybe my "big excitement" of walking a small gun show last Saturday was too much exertion.  Sunday went well enough and I was in bed in time to get up rested Monday -- but I fought to stay awake Monday and the transition from an 0300 start Monday to my usual midmorning-start was hard.  I didn't sleep well until last night and at that, I am only just now out of bed.


     But hey, I am out of bed now.  Might as well get to doing something.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Low Blow

     Rick Santorum has dropped out of the Presidential race -- and here I'd forgotten he'd dropped in this time around.  He's given his support to Marco Rubio.

     Sheesh, Mr. S, what'd the kid ever do to you?  

Swing Shifts

     The older I get, the more difficult working a swing shift becomes.  I only have to do so one week in three, but even that takes a toll.  There's a seven hour swing for me, with the fist day starting five hours earlier than normal, the second seven hours earlier, and three on my usual day shift.  You'd think it would be easy, one slightly short night, one very long night, then back to normal--

     It's not.  Somehow, "normal" never quite returns.  I have trouble sleeping all week and trouble staying awake.  The weekend comes and I'm wiped out; things often aren't back to normal until Sunday or Monday.

     Whine, whine -- there are starving children in Africa who don't even have jobs.  But my sleep suffers and so do my moods.  Cue the tiny violins!

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Manh(A)ttan: A Smallerizing Mirror

     Watched the last episode of the TV series Manh(A)ttan last night.  As TV drama goes, especially as night time soaps go, it was good.  Despite a few weak episodes, at times it was great.

     But it fails to give a clear or consistent sense of the scope of the Manhattan Project; it glosses over the chasm between theoretical science and nuts-and-bolts engineering and misses the vast sweep of the thousands who turned wet-behind-the-ears science into best-guess engineering not once but over and over again, in an interlocking network of efforts that ultimately worked out like a Fermi Estimate: a series of best guesses that staggered their way to a working end product.

     In place of a huge group of brilliant minds and distinctly different personalities, the TV series gave viewers a handful of Physics Gods and a few dozen platoons of presumably Ph.D. spear-carriers.  Facing down one of the most fascinating stories of desperate science, they blinked.

     It's good entertainment; it's just not how science works, it's not how engineering works and it is most assuredly not how the Manhattan Project worked.  The science parts of the TV series are too small, and too concentrated in too few individuals. 

     I'll give them a B+ nevertheless.  If the series had been dreamed up in a world where the A-bomb had never been developed, it would have been first-rate drama.  Alas, it was a mere flashbulb against the glare of Trinity.  A good flashbulb, a well-made one, but still--

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Caucus Results

     On the Right, Elmer Gantry edged out Mussolini and the handsome guy from Sears & Roebuck menswear catalogs ran a close third.

     For the Left, Beria squeaked past Trotsky but Nikolai Yezhov sank without a ripple.

     Yessirree, any color of future you want -- as long as you wanted "bleak."  But at least they're narrowing down the choices, right?

     Today's vocabulary word: "sharashka." Remember, that's what you want, not the regular gulag, so be sure and eat all your calculus!

Monday, February 01, 2016

Information Matters

     'Cos this is funnier if you only have one meaning for "groin:"
By Clem Rutter, Rochester Kent - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, $3
     Words to live by, no matter how you read them.  Well, unless invited, of course.