Thursday, November 15, 2018

Winter's Here

     Oh, not officially -- but onset of Winter weather has announced itself with an overnight ice storm.  So far, Indianapolis/Marion County* has escaped the worst of it but to go one county north and it's not good.  The site I call the "North Campus" is right in the transition area.  I left my phone up there last night and it may have to stay awhile.  Only a little to the north, schools have been closed for the day due to slick roads.

     Out the back door, we appear to have not had a heavy layer of ice; surfaces are pebbled with maybe a two-thirds coverage of eight-inch pebbled ice droplets.  It's more than enough to need scraping, and just enough to make the roads slick.

     From the TV down the hall, I'm hearing reporters not too far afield talking about rain changing to snow.  The temperature's due to climb back up.  By the afternoon, the snow will change to rain.  Temperatures in the 40s on Friday and over the weekend, so we only have to get through today.  (Slow down, please, and stay in your lane.) I'll be staying in the big-city "heat island" today, if I can.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Another Early Day

     Yes, and up at the North Campus, too, where -- weather permitting -- there's some outside work.  My part of it should be fairly light and as long as I remember to dress warmly -- as in, not leave my Winter hat at home like I did yesterday -- I shouldn't get too cold.

     There are tasks left over from Monday, when work expanded to fill the available time and kept right on expanding.  We're hoping to get them done today.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Stan Lee Is Gone

     He wasn't young -- 95?  Few people ever get there -- and I wasn't a huge fan of comicbooks* and yet--  It's surprisingly saddening.  The guy who wrote those funny/snarky things in the back of the better comics and signed off with "Excelsior," gone?  The fellow who put in a cameo in movies featuring characters from magazines he edited, always there in the background, no more?

     It's painful.  I'm going to miss him. A little of my childhood goes with him.  A little of a lot of people's childhoods goes with him.

     Godspeed.
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* His preferred version of the word, according to some sources. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Dinner And A Story

     My early start this morning meant an early departure -- so I met Tam at 20 Tap for dinner...

     ...a Pork Mojo Bowl, which has lots of pork and plenty of mojo...

     ...and a story!
     Still in progress.

Early Day

     In a hurry -- more later, if things go as planned.  Probably even if they don't.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

One Hundred Years Ago

     ...The guns fell silent in Europe.  It had been a horrendous war, a "war to end wars," fought until the very last second at the insistence of the leaders, and surely the Western world had learned a lesson--

     Two months shy of twenty-one years later,* they did it again, for over six years.  And we still haven't put an end to evil -- or even to the conflict of moral equals.

     Never forget this.  And never forget the blood and toil of the men and women whose lives and labor are given to resolve these conflicts, as much as they can ever be resolved.  History isn't markers on a map, it's people.
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* Even earlier in Asia, September 1931 or July 1937. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Sleep, That Knits Up....

     I don't know what sleep really knits up -- I'm told the way we read the Shakespeare quote is slightly askew to the original meaning* -- but it certainly sent me on a journey.

     Sleep and I are not best friends.  Oh, I love sleeping as much as anyone, though it can be fugitive.  It's the laying down that doesn't work for me.  A thin pillow and flat on my back makes for snorking, possible reflux and numb fingers and toes.  No pillow spares the fingers and toes but the reflux risk is worse.  A big wedge fixes all that, but makes my lower back hurt.  Side sleeping can work but the cats complain, and if I don't lay just right, my neck hurts in  the morning.

     Yeah, yeah, life's tough when you're sleeping in a big ol' bed under a heated comforter--  Not complaining, only describing.  I'm used to all that, and making occasional adjustments in the night.

     But last night was long (I went to bed early) and when I awoke at six this morning to feed the cats, my right knee, the bad one, ached like never before, worse with weight on it, one hot, bright spot of pain at the lower left and radiating outward.  I hobbled through cat-feeding and went back to bed, fearing the worst.  Slumber fell on me like a load of gravel.

     Three and a half hours later, sleep ebbed away and I sat up, still worried.  H'mm.  No pain from the knee.  Flipped back the covers, sat up, stood up--  Not hurting.  Took a few steps.  My right knee is fine.  Like it never even hurt.

     Don't know what that was about but I'll take it.
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* A "ravelled sleave" referred not to part of a garment but to a tangled mess of yarn, which needed to be untangled and "knit up" into a ball or skein to be useful.  Or so I read.

Friday, November 09, 2018

On Mass Shootings And Wall-To-Wall News Coverage

     There's an institutional tropism in news organizations to want lurid news and to linger over it when it happens. I'm not sure there's any conscious individual intent past the cynical awareness that "If it bleeds, it leads." And this unacknowledged, unrecognized hunger may be a far worse problem than deliberate malice could ever be.

     It took about eight hours from the first shot fired until we knew the California mass-murderer's middle name and a thumbnail biography had been promulgated.  Don't think the next frustrated, unhinged, attention-seeking or otherwise borderline types pondering the fame that comes from causing grievous harm to large numbers of people weren't taking note.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

California Mass Shooting

     There's been a mass shooting in California -- eleven people dead, plus the asshole that did it.  Just in time for Nancy Pelksi's re-ascension to the Speaskership, in the state the Gifford Law Center To Prevent A Civil Right  rates literally A1 for its efforts to keep the wrong sort of people from laying hands on the wrong kind of gun.

     As I write, TV networks are gleefully dancing in the blood, reporting with puzzlement that despite law-enforcement efforts to locate an "assault rifle," all they've turned up is a handgun -- possibly with "illegal high-capacity magazines," since California banned the sale of new, normal-capacity magazines some time back and only allows magazines that hold not more ten rounds.*

     Me, I'm disgusted.  There will be mainstream-media punditry pointing an accusing finger at "lax gun laws," and (mostly non-mainstream) counter-punditry pointing out that the strict gun laws of the California Republic pretty much insured no one was equipped to stop the killer shortly after he began shooting.  None of them -- not one! -- will ask what it is that we as a society are doing that makes shooting large numbers of innocents so attractive to the crazed and desperate.  The United States has had crazy people since before there was a United States; we've owned large numbers of personal firearms for that long, too: compared to most other countries, the United States of America has always been "awash in guns" and has always been a welcoming environment for people whose grip on reality was a little bit askew -- and yet the high-profile mass shooting is a relatively recent phenomenon.

     Interestingly, so is 24-hour cable and online news, hungry for sensation and doling out gobbets of cheap, low-grade fame on an hourly basis.  Correlation isn't inevitably causation but maybe this one rates a closer look...at least until the next spin of the news cycle pushes this mass shooting out of the spotlight.
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* It's more complicated than that.  Proposition 63, passed in November 2016, would have banned the sale or transfer of any magazine holding over ten rounds and made it a misdemeanor to own one.  In 2017, a judge blocked enforcement of the latter, and allowed Californians to keep their "grandfathered" pre-2001 normal-capacity magazines.  Oh, if only the state were more like Manzanar!  I'm sure they'll manage that, by and by.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Well, We Had An Election

     With record or near-record turnout for a midterm election, the American people have decided.... (drumroll, please!) ...that they didn't want so much decisiveness.  With Congress split, the Democrats dominating the House (albeit with an interesting coalition of their far-out Left, old party stalwarts and a few Manchinesque mugwumps that their Speaker and Party Whip will be hard-pressed to keep marching in step) and the GOP still in control of the Senate, getting any legislation passed will be a lot more difficult.  Mr. Trump will need his very best sales skills to keep things moving and while the pundits predict spluttering outrage and the Dems have vowed to investigate everything they and their kid's grade school class can think up about him, the man has a history of confounding the wise; I wouldn't count him out just yet.

     Meanwhile, H. L. Mencken counsels us, "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." 

     Of course, he also pointed out, "The state — or, to make the matter more concrete, the government — consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods."

     What was up for auction in your state, and who won it?

     For whatever it's worth, with 88% of the votes counted, Indiana's Libertarian Party candidate for Secretary of State has 3% of the vote.  The party needs for him to get at least 2% to retain ballot access. 

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

The Early Bird Gets....

     I dunno.  Probably the Early Bird at our polling place still gets to stand in line and maybe say Hi to our neighbor, The Democrat, who has a high degree of civic involvement and who, being self-employed and able to free up the time, works every election helping check people in -- in Indiana, you show ID and they (it's a team of two, who check one another) look you up on a big list, put a tick mark next to your name if/when they find you and have crosschecked your address, and hand you a ballot.  She and the other election workers will be at that for most of a very long day, which rates all kinds of extra points with me no matter what one's party affiliation.

     We have a new polling place, a big Methodist church right on Meridian Street.  Unlike the previous location, there's all kinds of parking.  The lot has entrances and exits right on very busy Meridian Street, and maybe off quiet(er) Illinois Street as well, so traffic arrangements could be interesting.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Or Not Early Voting

     I drove by on my way to a writing class* and there was a pretty good line.  Not to worry, I thought, my class ends an hour before the early voting location closes, I can hurry back and stop by then.

     It was ten 'til closing time when I returned.  The parking lot was full of cars and the line was nearly all the way across the city-block-long row of storefronts.  Looks like I'll be lining up on Election Day.
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* "The Basics of Self-Publishing," not so much writing as what to do after you've written something.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Dutifully Civic

     I'm giving serious thought to voting today.  Tuesday could be quite busy and our voting location is at a school* with just about no on-site parking -- so that means a long, unarmed walk.  The closest early voting location has a large parking lot and they're supposed to be open today.  I have some errands over that direction anyway.
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* Until they moved to be closer to their congregation, our voting location was a synagogue, a lovely building with book-lined hallways; these days it's the gymnasium of a Catholic elementary school.  The election staff are nearly all volunteers, of course.  At the citizen level, election-day voting in America is a wonderfully grassroots, amateur effort.  I've never tried early voting, so I'll see how it compares. 

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Sending Troops To The Border, OMG!

     Yeah, well, the Federal government can send them, but they still cannot do the job of police -- that pesky Posse Comitatus Act doesn't allow it.  It appears the United States Coast Guard is exempt, but they're not being sent in.

     So what, exactly, can the Army do?  Mostly good things, as it turns out, or at least neutral ones:

     1. They can render humanitarian aid.  This is good, since it's rather difficult to sort out refuge-seekers, plain old border sneaks and the skullduggerous if they're dying of thirst.

     2. They can lend logistical support, carrying Border Patrol personnel to where they can do the most good.  This also includes repairing fences and the like.

     3. They can do aerial reconnaissance and similar intel work, keeping track of who's where.

     These are jobs which should help defuse situations and ease worries, not escalate matters.

     Presumably, if the "invasion" turns into an actual invasion, buncha dudes rushing the border waving clubs or something, then the .mil could repel them.  But this seems unlikely.  It's a stunt at worst, a photo-op in the run-up to the mid-term elections, a bloody shirt both big parties can wave over their own slogans and the marchers are being treated as little more than props.  It is likely many of them are fleeing bad conditions at home; it is uncertain if those conditions qualify them for refugee status under UN treaties and U.S. law -- but there is a formal procedure for figuring this out, which the Border Patrol is quite familiar with and the Army troops will be told what the rules are.  I expect this to fizzle out in the usual bureaucratic border morass, with the usual posturing by people with an axe to grind. 

     The little guys -- J. Random "It's-got-to-be-better-elsewhere" and family, J. Random low-ranking soldier and J. Random low-ranking Border Patrolman -- will end up doing all of the sweating and improvising, while nice people in nice suits have nice press conferences and photo ops in nice surroundings.  If that doesn't irk you, perhaps it should.  People get shoved around like pawns in a chess game way too often while the chessplayers walk away fat and happy.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Industry Conference

     Spent all day yesterday at a conference for my line of work.  It's set up in an interesting way -- they used to have a separate awards banquet, atttended by general managers, department heads and creative talent, and then (on different dates for each, spaced over the year) all-day workshops for managers, creative folks and engineers.

     Starting a few years ago, they combined all of them into one slightly long day, with two or three "tracks" of workshops for each group, plenty of time in between sessions for browsing a sales/showcase area for vendors serving our business, and a big awards luncheon where everyone mingles.  This seems to be working well, and helps with some crossover between specialties.

     The food's pretty good, too.  The one drawback for Engineering types?  They went from a nice breakfast buffet -- pastries, coffee, bacon, eggs, potatoes, cereal, milk, juice etc., etc. -- and a modest lunch at the engineering-only workshop to a coffee-and-cakes breakfast and a huge lunch at the all-inclusive event.  I do miss that breakfast. 

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Okay, It's Trivial, But...

     There's an inverse relationship between needing a lint roller and being able to find one.  Tam and I routinely keep on in the kitchen near the paper-towel holder; I found another one over the weekend when I was straightening up my room.

     Today, I need to dress a little more like an adult than usual.  I even brought brand-new black Carhartts (my usual double-front work dungarees) and with two cats in the house, a lint roller would be quite handy.  Naturally I can't locate any of them!