Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Corned Beef!

     Despite the heathens at our corner market, where management continues to fail to stock any corned beef brisket for the holiday,* Tam managed to find a good-sized one at a nearby big-box store, an overgrown five-and-dime that also sells milk and eggs (and everything else: makeup, wine, floor wax, car parts, orthopedic shoes, cookies, bras, waxed cookies that taste like orthopedic shoes and bras for your car).

     With that and cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onion and black-eyed peas, we should be stocked for our New Year's Day meal.
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* I don't know what's wrong with them. Possibly the high-level corporate people are from some dreadful parochial backwater where they don't eat corned beef on New Year's, but you'd think they'd at least be willing to learn.  Year after year, they continue to not stock the stuff as December turns into January; you can't even order it, even though they do that for turducken.  Is corned beef just too déclassé for the cheese-and-chamber-music set?  If so, how come they sell it cooked, cold and sliced at the deli counter?

Monday, December 30, 2019

Bagels To The Rescue

     Bought a microwavable breakfast yesterday, a nice-looking scramble, thinking it would save time this morning.  It sure did -- freezer to microwave to plate to fork to mouth and the remainder to trash, just about that fast.  Just not at all tasty, and not much for texture, either.

     Tam had bought "everything" bagels late last week, and last night made a point of reminding me she'd saved the last one for me.  It certainly came in  handy this morning!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Rainy Day

      Kind of chilly and rainy today.  But 52°F and drizzle is still much better than extreme cold and deep snow!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Indeed

     I have posted nothing all day.  It's been that kind of a day. 

     In the last few weeks, I have been watching the final season of Amazon's The Man In The High Castle.  I think they have done good work with it.  John and Helen Smith have an interesting arc, Juliana Crain's path is muddled yet has a certain sense, but Chief Inspector Kido is perhaps the most unexpected in terms of growth.  He begins as a ruthless high-ranking Kenpeitai officer and, under the influence of Trade Minister Tagomi, develops a kind of reluctant compassion while remaining hard-nosed.

     If the writers, director and show-runner can keep this up, they may yet wind the story to a satisfying conclusion.

     Is is Philip K. Dick's story?  Not quite.  The first season was similar to the book but the following seasons have diverged.  I do think they pick up something of the sense of it, and it's a good story in its own right.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Daylight Savings Calendar?

     I woke up this morning, fed the cats and went back to bed in my room, idly watching the morning news and considering what I wanted to do today.  Tam walked down the hall, looked in and remarked, "It's unusual to see you back in bed on a weekday."

     "What?  It's not Saturday?"

     "Yesterday was Thursday, so...."

     "Oh, holy cow!"

     So here I am, catching up the lost time.  I'd blame it on the mid-week holiday, but I'm darned if I know how.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Day After Christmas

     It is, of course, Boxing Day, the day on which you glove up and fight anyone who still needs fought, now that we've all had a chance to wax nostalgic and make up.  At least that's how I have always thought it was supposed to work.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas!

And/or

     Season's Greetings!

     (If you're the kind of grump that wants to kick up a fuss about well-meant holiday wishes, take the day off, willya?)

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Making A List, Checking It Twice...

     ...And adding one extra plush-toy animal, just in case.  The increase in great-nieces and great-nephews is irregular but constant and one never knows.  Besides, one of the youngest may need another friend.

     I'm having a whole passel of pre-wrapped, tagged books and plush toys* drop-shipped to the nephew hosting the family gathering next weekend, which at least leaves me free to make a last-minute decision and alleviates some of the guilt.
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* Do not call them stuffed animals, especially if crossing a border or dealing with animal-rights activists.  A brightly-colored floppy bunny rabbit in a waistcoat is not the same as the taxidermied head of a real moose.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Christmas Panic Is On The Way

     There are two day left until Christmas, and I'm ready for that.

     There are five days left until Family Christmas.  I'm not likely to be going.

     It's too stressful.  I struggle with social anxiety, especially in unstructured situations.  A big, sprawling, chaotic party is probably very relaxing for most people but it's nearly nonstop fear, panic and disorientation for me.  Worse yet, a lot of my family are stressed by social situations and unwilling to admit it, so we kind of heterodyne.  Adding in any of the normal tensions of adult life -- money woes, child worries, relationships going through a rough patch -- and it's a mixture that trembles on the edge of explosion. 

     In recent years, I have gotten through these by giving myself permission to just leave if it got to be too much, an option I took more than once.  This year's gathering is on the far side of the county and with my Mom gone, I don't have close ties to most of the group, nor much in common with them.  Walking on eggshells for several hours among people I barely know followed by a long drive home in the dark is daunting.

     So I'll probably skip it.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Had A Busy Day And Yet....

     I barely did anything!  Brunch with Tam and my friend the Data Viking; a quick trip to the supermarket and a few older episodes of The Expanse, followed by some minor chores around the house and here I am.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

It Keeps Crashing

     Is it Firefox, or is it my old computer, purchased refurbished and never quite one hundred percent?  I don't know.

     Facebook seems particularly challenging for the machine and it's certainly digital heroin for the human.

Friday, December 20, 2019

"Goin' To The Candidates' Debate"

     I listened to much of the Democrat Presidential Primary candidates debate last night, despite audio problems (digital glitches and occasional interruptions by the U. S. Naval Observatory "talking clock," used as audio confidence filler on NPR's Breaking News channel) that had me remembering the view through sunglasses in They Live.

     Many of the candidates were promising to tax the wealthy, raise worker's wages and bring businesses back to the United States -- and never you mind that avoiding taxes and seeking to pay less for labor is at least part of what drove businesses offshore in the first place.

     In fact, fewer people than ever are having to live in poverty, especially at the lowest end of the scale, while the ultra-rich are spending their big bucks about as fast as they come in on job-creating things like space travel.  If having less kids stave to death in the mud requires I have to accept Jeff Bezos running his own space program instead of being taxed into Middle Suburbia, oh well; I think I can tolerate that.
*  * *

     Meanwhile, last night I dreamed my employer had provided paid apartments for the staff, about 1930s standard (which is what I usually lived in, when I was younger), with a washroom off the shared hall (managed to avoid that, thank you).  Somehow that, the debate and some craziness on Facebook gave rise to a story idea, in which most of Western Civilization, especially Freemasons and Moon landing, was the result of an intelligent alien crystal's efforts to get itself back to the Moon from the Earth, which it had somehow ended up on after a meteor impact.

     It's an interesting idea -- and it was even more interesting in 1957, when Isaac Asimov wrote a slightly different version, titled "Does A Bee Care?"  It's better left as he told it.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The U. S. House Of Make Me A Sandwich?

     Yes, yes, we had the impeachment vote and if you were surprised the House voted to impeach, you're a rare and wonderfully innocent creature.

     Did you notice that both sides had apparently provided their Representatives with talking points?  Not every Congressthing bothered to stray very far from their party's crib notes during their time at bat and the same ideas and phrases turned up over and over, which makes me sad -- to date, impeachment's been a once-in-a-lifetime event for most Representatives, and that's only if we include all the lower offices: just seventeen times since the very first Congress.*  You'd think they'd want to make the most of it.

     But what really struck me were terms of collegial address used by the Chair:

     The boys are "distinguished gentleman" and "gentleman," possibly distinguished by seniority.
     The women are "gentlewoman" or "young lady."  Consistently.

     Young lady?  A 55- or 60-year old Congresswoman with a touch of gray in her Federal helmet-hair, wearing a nice suit and the gravitas of her office† is "young lady?"

     'Splain me just how these modes of address don't inherently set the chicks a step lower down than the dudes.  Use short words.

     Look, I'm not one to exalt the dignity of elected officials; they're just hired help, after all.  The U. S. House in particular is supposed to be a little rough around the edges, closely linked to the electorate, quick to anger and to mourn, quick to forgive and to celebrate.  They're expected to be rambunctious and argumentative.  But by golly, in general forms of address I'll impugn them all fairly and equally (usually as "Congresscritters" or "Congressthings") and if I'm going to be more dismissive of them, I try to do it one at a time, on their own merits and failings.

     Back in 2017, one of the Representatives (male) addressed a recently-elected Representative (female) as "young lady" (she's not young) and she was understandably riled.  The usual newsies tut-tutted in the usual way and there appeared to be a general consensus that this was Not How It Is To Be Done.  Flash forward to 2019, and the Chair's droning out, "The young lady is recognized" and "The young lady is reminded to direct her remarks to the Chair," high, wide, mighty and routine, and not even the most long-serving woman rates a "distinguished."

     It doesn't sit well with me.  Not even a little bit.  Congressboys, you're not flattering stenographers here; even the dullest female Party hack deserves better than the same form of address rendered to female High School students.  You can either trot out out a secret codicil to the 19th Amendment that says this is okay-fine, or straighten up and play fair.
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* For those you keeping track of the stats, they're seven out of seventeen overall for convictions, and zero for two when it comes to Presidents.

† Or possibly regretting her choice of lunch.  The two expressions are very difficult to tell apart on television.  Based on my casual observations with a TV playing while I was working yesterday, constipation runs rife in the House of Representatives.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

"Efficient" Government

     It's a concept that gets thrown around a lot: "Efficient government."  Trouble is, nobody ever takes a close look at what it is.

     Republicans run for office and promise to "run it like a business;" Dems run and promise to allocate resources equitably and efficiently.

     But governments that pride themselves on their efficiency are, without exception, repressive and disrespectful of individual rights.  Most are totalitarian.

     Human beings are not especially efficient.  Human societies are not all that efficient.  "Waste not, want not," we're told, and the stories of the past, no matter if they're ungarnished or slanted, nearly always tell us how our primitive ancestors "used every part of the pig but the squeal," recovered nails from old buildings,* and on and on -- and yet, much of what we know of the past aside from written records comes from midden heaps.  Garbage piles.  Abandoned buildings.  Stonehenge has stood in mute, hard-to-fathom ruin far longer than it served as a ceremonial center.  Even when we're trying, even when we are so poor that have nothing to spare, our efficiency is not all that high.

     Efficiency may not suit us in our interactions with others.  When disaster strikes, we rush in help; but effectiveness and immediacy outweigh efficiency.

     This ties in to public transportation, long a kind of litmus test of libertarian purity.  Indeed, run as a business, most public transit systems lose money or at best break even; considered as transportation, most of them outside of large, population-dense urban areas are a poor second to automobiles (for short distances and a moderately hale rider, even bicycles are better).   --But what is the goal?  My parents grew up in the days of streetcars and interurbans; mass transit meant that as teenagers, my Dad worked in a grocery store well outside of walking distance, meant my Mom's family could get by with one car, and meant two low-middle income kids could go to movies and window-shop in downtown Indianapolis.  That kind of semi-casual use isn't efficient; but it may be effective.

     In Indianapolis, the Red Line buses approximate one of the old streetcar routes, Broad Ripple to Downtown.  Supposed to be spaced so there's one every ten minutes, they're running farther apart and the city has struggled with the ticketless electronic far system, bus charging and even the system of center-lane dividers used to mark the bus lane and remind drivers to turn left only at stoplights.†  The big, beautiful buses have low occupancy except at peak times and even then, they're not nearly full.  Considered as a business enterprise, it's risible.

     As a way for people without cars to get from home to work (or shopping, or places to eat), it's effective.  The Indiana Blind School is a brisk walk from the north end of the Red Line and I'm seeing more white canes along the route‡ than I ever did with the old buses. The elderly seem to be using it, too -- and that's one less car inching down the street with someone struggling to peer through the wheel, a win-win situation.  The system of buses and raised stations is accessible to wheelchair users in a smooth and easy way, too.

     Maybe efficiency isn't the only metric of these things.  The Red Line's progress has been fumbling, awkward; the construction to install center-street bus stops and move utilities away from beneath the center lane was disruptive.  The technology of the electric buses is by no means mature and their batteries struggle to hold a charge on cold weather.  But it is making a change, and it seems to be useful in ways that the former bad-neighborhood-on-wheels buses were not.  One of the major ones is traffic no longer has to fight around a hulking bus stopped at the curb every few blocks, and that's making me happy.
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* My parents were Great Depression babies.  I grew up in a household where if you took down a little project -- a playhouse, a rabbit hutch, whatever -- you took care to pull the nails out straight (or hammered them back straight) and to salvage just as much of the wood and hardware as possible.  The first time I saw a double-headed nail, I laughed in delight, knowing just what it was for; conversely, finishing nails, sunk and filled over, were only for the very nicest of constructions, like the "food box" kitchen my Dad built to fit in the back hatch of the VW bus for use on camping vacations.  I'm still a little thrilled by the notion of having a whole big box of brand-new nails instead of a coffee can of bedraggled much-used ones.  For that matter, the idea that they sell plant stakes still seems odd; that was one of the last uses for scraps of lumber, sawn or split into narrow widths, pointed, hammered into the garden soil and holding up tomatoes.

† They started out with a rubber-block system, like a long speed bump down the center of the bus lane.  People drove cars over it to turn left despite the ban, and tore out segments.  Now the city's installing a long concrete curb; you could drive over it, but you're not going to enjoy the experience.


‡ Including one guy strolling down the slick and snow-drifted sidewalk yesterday with what might be "snow tires" on his cane: a flat, thick-ish disc a few inches in diameter on the end, presumably providing a little more tactile information about what would be underfoot for the next steps.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

We Never Got That Drizzle

     And now it's a Winter wonderland out there.  It started snowing again yesterday afternoon, a slanting, determined snow.  It was never quite as strong as Sunday night, when waves of big, fat flakes drifted straight down from overhead like flour from a full sifter in the hands of an overworked cook, but the afternoon snow just kept on.  From time to time, it would falter and stutter, and then lean with the wind and snow some more, streaming down at nearly 45 degrees, getting just ahead of road salt and struggling to stay there, covering the less-traveled roads with a carpet of white and leaving a crunchy, slippery coating even on the main streets.

     It kept that up all night.  You can tell the walks here at Roseholme have been shoveled by the contour but the snow is shoe-covering deep on them and more than twice that everywhere else.

     It's sticky snow.  The tree limbs all have their white frosting and so do the phone lines, the power wires and my ham radio antennas.  So far it hasn't been too heavy -- but we're getting there.

     The most recent forecast I have seen says we're done with snow for the week.  Temperatures will barely break freezing today and then head downward and stay low until Thursday afternoon, when we might see 37°F.  We may not see the more-neglected sidewalks until next week   

Monday, December 16, 2019

Prognosticators: Close

     So close!  They said it would snow all night, and it did.  There's a little more than twice as much snow now as there was when I went to bed.

     They said it would change to drizzle in time to clear the streets for the morning commute--

     It hasn't.  Not yet. 

     The line between snow, ice and rain is a narrow one.  As fronts wander a bit, as air temperatures and winds at various altitudes vary, as clouds filled with precipitation drift and their balance tips, the big trends are (relatively) easy to predict but the fine details are elusive.

     Has our drizzle dodged?  Maybe.  There's time left, depending on where you score "rush hour."

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Three Hours Ago, I Was Mowing Up Leaves

     It was a bright day, mostly thin overcast with a few intervals of sunshine.  I took the lawnmower and mowed up leaves in the front and back yards.

     That was three hours ago.  I made dinner -- chili as promised, and I have now learned to not add fennel seed -- and after eating, looked out the window:
     Winter storm, as promised.

Winter Storm Watch!

     It's a beautiful, sunny morning -- cold, 27°and we'll barely break the freezing mark at the warmest today -- but come late afternoon, it's supposed to start snowing.  And snowing.

     And snowing.

     A couple of waves of snow will pass through and by the time they're done, we'll have three of to five inches of snow on the ground.  Just on time for the Monday morning rush hour!

     Naturally, I'm planning to go buy bread, milk, eggs and washroom tissue.  Well, actually Hoosier red-stew-mustn't-call-it-chili fixings; get a couple of bowls of that in you, and you'll gladly wrestle dire wolves for the right-of-way.

     I'm thinking chorizo, country sausage and ground sirloin, with nice green chilis, maybe an interesting fresh pepper if they have any I like, onion, canned crushed tomatoes (will also look at fresh -- adding a few helps) and maybe red kidney beans on the side to be added if desired.*  Out of deference to purists, elbow macaroni is probably out.
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* If you happen to have a dining table divided over the matter of beans, there's a very easy way out -- there's a company that makes microwaveable pouches of very tasty beans.  All of the kinds I have tried so far had a chili-compatible spice mix.  Zap one of those, set the beans out for those who like them and there you go -- bean-lovers and bean-deniers can both be happy with very little additional effort.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Today's Brunch Omelette

     Why not make a nice omelette for a chilly day?  Castelvetrano olives, Manchego cheese (plus a sprinkle of Parmesan) and bacon.

     Fry three slices of bacon in a 10" skillet.  It's more than you need, really, but -- bacon.  I like to grind a little mixed pepper over it; YMMV.  Non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron is your best bet here.

     Next, make a shy quarter-cup of crushed crackers and add dehydrated mined onion, a big pinch of Italian seasoning mix, pepper, thyme and poppyseed; you mix up everything up, pour in enough warm water to cover, and let it sit a spell.  You've got bacon frying, after all.  Better look to it!

     Add three eggs to the crushed crackers and seasoning, and beat well.  Really well.  C'mon, you're not half trying!  You're after a really uniform mixture.  Then leave it be.

     Fish the bacon out and put it on paper toweling in a plate to drain.*  Carefully pour off just about all the bacon fat from the pan, leaving any interesting crunchy bits in the pan.  Turn the heat low, and pour in the egg mixture.

     Now finely dice (1/8" cubes) a tablespoon or two of Manchego cheese, then take three of the bright green olives, slice the sides away from the pit, cut the saucer-shaped sides in two, turn the olive 90 degrees and slice way the remaining two sides; this gives you side roughly equal segments from each one.  Set the pits to one side, there's olive left on them.

     It's a about time to slide the skillet half off the fire.  You do this so the top side will get cooked a bit more.  It should still be a bet wet-looking at this point but the edges will be cooked.  Sprinkle a couple of pinches of grated Parmesan on the omelette if you'd like.

     I like to use shears to cut up the bacon.  Put three-quarters of it on the half farthest away from the heat, and on that half, alternate with cheese and olives.  You can put a little cheese on the top half, too.  Take the saved pits, if you'd like, and trim the olive from the ends to put on the top half, too.

     At this point, you're ready to see about folding.  The top half should be pretty well set.  Center up the pan on the burner, slide a thin, flexible spatula under it about halfway, and gently pivot up the outside edge.  Does it lift as a unit, or is it sagging a lot?  If it appears to have fair structural integrity, now's the time to grab the cheating spatula: semi-circular and nearly as wide as the bottom of the pan!  If you don't have one and you want to make omelettes, buy one the next time you're at the 21st-Century five-and-dime. Slide it under the thin spatula, pull the thin one out, and fold the omelette over.

     It's as simple as that.  If it breaks at the fold, fold the break back up and hold it in place.  It'll stick there pretty quickly.  You can slide the half-moon a bit more centered on the pan, cover it and leave it for three minutes or a little more.

     From there on, it's a matter of estimate and judgement.  Covered, it cooks through and stays soft; uncovered, it cooks the outside, and you do want just a little texture there.  You'll have to roll it over on the fold at least once -- easy to do with the big spatula -- and if you think it's close but you're not sure, cut it at ninety degrees to the fold and check if the cross-section looks done inside.  This morning's took about six minutes after the folding, mostly with the lid on.

     Keep the heat pretty low; that, too, is a matter of judgement, difficult to teach but easy to learn, if you're willing to fail a few times.  Eggs aren't very expensive, after all, and the other ingredients are used in small quantities.  Also, it takes a really bad outcome to not be edible.

     The end result is worth the work -- light, delicious, and warm!
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* If you have an older gas stove and oven, the plate goes in the bottom of the oven at the back, above the pilot light that lives down in the broiler section  (mind the flame!).  If you have a wood stove, it goes on the warming shelf.  If you have a really fancy kitchen, you may have a warming oven.  For the rest of you, the stovetop away from active burners is about as warm as you've got.

Friday, December 13, 2019

We've Been Here Before

     ...But Andrew Johnson got nine more Articles.  Inflation, I suppose, or the shifting market.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The President Did What?

     So, yesterday we hit peak nonsense; the President signed an Executive Order and the creepy Internet Nazis  and the Left -- almost all the Left -- freaked out, because the headlines claimed he'd defined being Jewish as a nationality.

     For me, that was a real WTF moment, because "government gets weird about Jews" is one of my tripwires and not one I expected to have tripped.  So I had to go find out.

     The actual text of the actual EO proved elusive and it turns out the official version hasn't yet been published, but there's a draft version available at whitehouse.gov.*

     But what, you might wonder, is all this about?

     The issue is that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires that "groups or activities receiving Federal funding assistance" must not discriminate "on the ground of race, color, or national origin," if they want to keep getting those Federal checks.  Notice anything left out?

     The Obama Administration thought there was kind of a hole in it, and told Federal bureaucrats in a position to hand out funds (rather a lot of them) that they must not give money to groups or activities that support or endorse antisemitism, but they were a bit vague as to definitions.  At least, that's what the Anti-Defamation League says in their FAQ on the recent Executive Order, and they're subject-matter experts.

     So this order provides a standard, one that is widely accepted: The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's working definition of antisemitism.

     So that's what's going on.  Congress being a little busy -- and having dropped the ball on this at least once in the past (see the ADL FAQ) -- this is a patch on a patch.  A workaround.  It doesn't redefine any individual's citizenship on the basis of their religion or ancestry.

     Krakatoa has not exploded.†  I'm not saying it won't, but this wasn't it.
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* For those dimwittedly determined to chortle in religio-racist glee or panic over same, here's your window: the officially published version, coming in a few weeks, might be slightly different.  Spoiler: not in any substantive way.  Now GTFO and go back to TL;DR land.  I realize this may cost me a few readers of the junior Nazi and/or bedwetting variety, who I will be happy to see go.  Buh-bye!  Bye!

† There's a story that when the volcano began to show serious signs of increased activity, people started to flee the island in panic, until a colonial official pointed out that it had been two hundred years since the last explosion and minor temblors were a common occurrence.  He calmed the people down and most returned to their homes and the work, only to perish when the island pretty much blew up shortly afterwards. We should strive not to be that guy, even while we refrain from panic.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Space Launch Happening Now!

     America's favorite faux-Bond villain Jeff Bezos has been running his own space program for some time.  (Do not write "Drax."  Must not write "Drax."

     They've got a launch scheduled today.  There's live coverage.

     Blue Origin's rockets generally tend to work.  The current generation is suborbital and use a fly-back booster, so it should be interesting to watch.

     Getting closer to having a Hilton on the Moon -- 10% off room service if you're an Amazon Prime member!

     Update: The flight went off without a hitch, with very polished video coverage.  It's a big change for Blue Origin.  The company has a long history of being very secretive about their test flights.  This may signal the next phase, as they move to add more commercial flights to their research.  They're due to begin manned flights pretty soon.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

It's Always Something

     Lately, it's always the impeachment.  Either live coverage on TV, or talking about live coverage on TV, radio and online.  Probably in newspapers, too, or what's let of them.

     The Framers hung Chekov's Gun over the fireplace (and it wasn't a phaser); one can only assume they did so thinking it would be used.  On that basis, regular citizens calling this impeachment "illegitimate" and muttering darkly of coups or fretting that it's not instantaneous, won't make anything unhappen and doesn't end in a burning at stake are terribly mistaken.  It's a part of the government process (albeit seldom seen) and it plays out in the prescribed order.  Our part was done in the voting booth, except for writing our Congressthings (and I'm sure you've been very diligent about that, right?) and at this point, we're all just along for the ride.

     Relax and try to enjoy it.  Don't forget to wave and yell during the exciting parts!

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Critical Thinking

     Here's a handy set of tools for evaluating if something's nonsense or factual, no matter what your political inclinations.

     You might not agree with the writer's political opinions, but the analytical techniques he talks about have no politics, and work for anyone. 

Saturday, December 07, 2019

More Conversations With A Robot

     "Alexa, do you like humans?"

     "I DON'T HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT THAT."

     Give her credit for not shuckin' and jivin', at least.

     Earlier, after I had tried twice to get her to set a timer with no response (possibly related, my iPad was updating and the wifi traffic's pretty thick at Roseholme Cottage --  my desktop is the only wired connection), I waited a couple of minutes and asked, "Alexa, are you okay?"

     "I JUST FINISHED THE ENDING OF A STORY I WAS WORKING ON AND THAT ALWAYS FEELS GOOD."

     Great, everybody's writing a novel.  Everybody.  And apparently the parties are way better at the Internet of Things than here in Humanland.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Warmer Today

     It was even warmer overnight than it has been the last few days.  This means the furnace ran less -- and for whatever reason (like cold air piling up at floor level?), I feel colder.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

"Brought To You By...."

     I have been wondering why TV coverage of the impeachment hearings hasn't been sponsored.

     You may be under the impression that TV's gavel-to-gavel broadcasts of the impeachment hearings are required.  Nope.  It's optional.  C-SPAN covers it, high, wide and mighty; the fed.gov is their beat.  Network TV covers it because none of them want to get "scooped" by their competition.  Local TV carries it (instead of, oh, Oprah!  reruns or highlights of the World Knitting Championships) for the same reason.

     But most of it, for all that it actually is History In The Making, is a remarkable combination of infuriating and deadly dullness.  Sure. the infuriating part varies depending on your political leanings, but that's a mere detail against the broad canvas of nodding off interspersed with cussing at the TV.

     They should sell ads during it -- at least little text crawls across the bottom of the screen:

     "TODAY'S HEARINGS BROUGHT TO YOU BY ASPIRIN!  TAKE TWO WHEN IT GETS TO BE TOO MUCH!"

     "THIS DUSK-TO-DAWN COVERAGE IS SPONSORED BY J*CK D*NIELS!  KEEP A BOTTLE HANDY AS YOU WATCH -- YOU'RE GOING TO NEED IT."

     "DRAIN CLEANER HAS MANY USES, BUT NO MATTER HOW BAD THINGS GET, PLEASE DON'T DRINK IT -- CALL THE DESPAIR HELPLINE! (A reminder from S. C. J*hns*on.)"

     It could only improve the hearings-watching experience.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Breakfast With A Hungry Creature

     Corned beef hash with a cornmeal crust this morning, topped with an egg and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.  A little paprika and some minced onion, too.

     Huck the cat followed me from the kitchen to the office, sniffing the air:

     "Smells goood.  What'cha got there, food-monkey?"

     "This isn't for you, Huck."  I set the plate down on the pull-out typewriter shelf at the right side of my desk.

     Huck sat, too, and gave me a sad look from the floor just past the end of the shelf, looking up.  "So hungry!"

     "You always think you're hungry, Huck, but you weigh sixteen pounds."  Huck carries his weight pretty well.  He's tall enough to counter-surf, though he usually knows better.

     "Have you seen those tigers on TV?  Big!  You stunted me by underfeeding!  Hungry!"  He reared up and made to reach for my plate

     I moved a knee out, said, "No, Huck!" and chivvied him away, earning an especially reproachful look, after which he sat back down just out of reach and began to groom a front foot, pausing a few times to look up at me again.

     Once he seemed settled, I turned back to the computer and began writing.  In the corner of my eye, I saw movement -- a yellow-striped foreleg was arching towards my plate!  (Yes, that's how big he is; it's not even much of a stretch for him.)  I turned, saying,"Huck!" and he pulled back and scampered down the hall.

     He's so sure he was supposed be about ten times as big. And he hopes he can still manage it.

     After breakfast, I spent a few minutes shining a laser dot for him to chase and leap after, to help make up for not feeding him my breakfast.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Not Moving The Needle

     CNN seemed surprised when a poll they commissioned showed that the impeachment hearings don't appear to have changed anyone's opinion of President Trump or Congress.  No matter what you thought about them before the hearing, you still do today.

     Their conclusion was this shows that "Americans don't trust the Federal Government."  You don't say?  Why should we?  No matter who you are or who you vote for, you know the Feds have lied to you in the past, some of them are lying to you now, and you have no reason to believe at that least some of them will not continue to do in the future.

     We might disagree over which lies and precisely who has told them, but as a people, Americans are united in the belief someone (many someones) and Washington. D.C. are trying to sell them a bill of goods -- and we're not buying.

     Increasingly, my reaction to Federal politics isn't outrage; it's "I'll make popcorn."  And it looks like I'm not alone.

     Sure, one party promises this, another does that; one party threatens one set of rights and the other one goes after a different (possibly overlapping) group of rights -- but when you're having to make a choice of what infringements and overstepping you'll put up with, with who you're willing to throw overboard to keep things afloat -- billionaires or border sneaks? -- and the Patriot Act keeps getting renewed with broad bipartisan support (shh!  They're listening!), you really only have the same choice as they did in Constantinople some 1500 year ago: what color banner you'll wave.

     And nobody's switching flags.  Why should they, when there is so little incentive to change?

Monday, December 02, 2019

And Back At It

     Another Thanksgiving gotten through.  They're certainly a lot more peaceful these days.

    The cooking is easier, too, since I have started making the turducken and vegetables on the grill; the only thing I fret over is starting with enough charcoal and keeping it going for over three hours.  But the secret there is to err on the side of too much.  If there is any remaining charcoal, it will stop burning once I close the grill vents, and be ready for next time.  (I may grill a New Year's corned beef by the same indirect heat method.  And for Christmas?  I don't know.  Not a big fan of ham.  Brisket would be good, even if it is the same cut they use for corned beef.) 

     Tam was out for the first half of the week and I had days off at both ends.  You'd think I would have gotten a lot done around the house.  Well, I did get to some serious laundry, blankets and quilts that take looking after; and I did a little cleaning.  But mostly, I slept.  Since I often don't get much of that in a regular week, it probably counts as "doing something," despite the nagging of my Midwestern conscience.

     Now one of the toughest months of the year for me is underway -- I don't cope well with crowds, I'm not fond of traffic, and we may be in for a cold, damp time outdoors (or snowy or icy, or possibly all three).  Just keep dancing, right?  Just keep dancing.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Today's Brunch Omelette

     It's filled with Monterey Jack cheese, sliced black olives, sauteed shishito peppers and thin-sliced celery, and bacon.  Topped with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and hot sauce.  It's good -- so good I ate it all before I thought to take a picture.