Friday, August 14, 2020

ZZZ? Gnxxzzz?

      I have slept.  And had a light meal, and slept some more.  Rinse, lather, repeat.

     I can't say I'm 100%.  Maybe 80.  And that's going to have to be enough, even if I did kind of gray out a little just now.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Sick Day

      Woke up, felt awful, made a light breakfast, ate it and felt worse.  Ended up working from home, kinda slowly, awkwardly and with frequent breaks.

     Napped for lunch, napped after the end of work, and I'm barely awake now waiting for Tam to bring home dinner, a nice and uncommon treat.  Unfortunately, there is a change she and the Zed Drei have encountered the slow-moving nightmare that is Keystone Avenue between Kessler Boulevard and Broad Ripple Avenue, or, at best, the clogged mess of an intersection at the north end of it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Green Omelette

      No, it's not a forgotten radio-drama superhero (although...).  It's what I'm having for breakfast.

     There were leftover blue corn chips.  I like to use something to give my omelettes a little structural integrity -- smashed saltines, bread crumbs, even broken potato chips or a little cornmeal.

     Blue corn chips result in a mottled green batter, with bits of yellow and blue.  A little tarragon and some Italian herb mix for flavor rounded it out.  (I've been using a heavy juice glass* in a measuring cup as a mortar and pestle to crush whatever cooked-grain product I use.  It works well.)

     I'd fried bacon and then some fresh mushrooms in the bacon grease, poured the grease out (yum, mushroom grease -- worth saving if you're going to pan-cook lean meat within a day or two) and wiped the skillet down; you don't want more than the least film of oil or grease when making an omelette in a non-stick pan.  A finely diced radish and Manchego cheese completed the filling.  The end result looked, well, a bit scary -- should an omelette be that color?  Those colors?

     Yep, it sure could.  It was as good an omelette as any I've made.
* French-made Duralex.  I happened across one years ago (yes, most of my dinner service was thrift-store stuff, used or cheap; the nice Corningware "Bountiful Harvest" pattern plates, bowls and cups were a real point of pride when I got them!)  and used it for over a decade until it got knocked onto a hard floor.   Not long afterward, I was looking for new small glasses,  remembered how nice the Duralex one had been, and went looking.  Couldn't find the exact style but a half-dozen plain ones weren't expensive and have held up well, with just the right balance between delicacy and durability.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The New Blogger Interface?

      Yeah, about that?

      It removes blank lines between paragraphs.  I can't seem to get them back easily.  There may be a way to slap in some HTML, but what an annoying fix.

     It removes or impedes font size commands.  This is annoying to me, since I routinely set footnootes in a smaller font that body text.

     This text should be small and this should be smaller.

     This text should be large and this should be larger.

     ...And suddenly it all works again.  Go figure.

Monday, August 10, 2020

The Ways Of The Wu

      A Wu moves water
      It's a thing that they do.
      It's an essential part
      Of being a Wu.

      I have a small, green bowl of water on the floor in the kitchen, in front of the cabinet to the right of the stove. It's right inside the door from the dining room. There's just enough room to park it out of the way. It's a supplement to the large cat water fountain in the office.

      Holden Wu, our very large young tomcat, will carefully move it out until it is barely inside the doorway, just far enough that an incautious foot can catch it. He moves the water fountain around, too.

      His predecessor, Rannie Wu (no relation), was also a water-mover.

      My yellow tomcat, Huck (also very large), is not interested in relocating water dishes. It seems to be a Wu thing.


Sunday, August 09, 2020

You...Make The Call!

      There's a still from an Indianapolis Black Lives Matter march going around, and on the face of it, it's shocking stuff: two men armed with handguns are standing in the road, in front of a pickup truck they have apparently stopped.  It's usually accompanied by some outrage-inducing text, and on Facebook or blogs, it brings forth a long string of posturing comments about "driving through."

     There are a number of problems with this narrative.  Oh, the photo is real enough; it's from a video, a minute or so in.  The video puts things in better context.

     Everyone involved is in the wrong, including the driver of the truck.  The march appears have been done without a parade permit; the marchers seem to have stopped in front of the studios of at least two local TV stations,* blocking traffic while making statements a bullhorn about a recent police shooting.  While Indianapolis doesn't have a jaywalking ordnance,† they do have one about "obstructing traffic."  It's a misdemeanor.

     Some background for the video: the segment with the truck happened on Meridian, between 12th and 11th streets, where the elevated portion of the "inner loop" freeway crosses overhead.  The camera points West/Southwest most of the time.  Protesters/marchers appear to have fully blocked the street near the 11th St. intersection.  When we first see it, the truck is moving South -- in a Northbound lane.  So something has already happened.

     I have been driving through this intersection almost every work day for over thirty years; I have lived in this neighborhood and one of my work locations is nearby.  At one point, I was parking in a lot North of 12th and walking a block and a half to work.  I know the area at least as well as I know the street in front of my house.

     There is a man holding a handgun at "low ready" in front of the truck, and he is quickly joined by another person doing the same thing.  Indiana has no "brandishing" law; it's a felony to point a gun at someone but having a gun in your hand is not per se illegal.  (There are many situations in which it's a damn stupid idea, however, and I think this is one of them.)

     As the scene develops, the conflict appears to be that the people with guns (and others near them them) want the truck to turn around and leave, while the driver makes several attempts to go forward and towards the group blocking Meridian Street, including crossing to the Southbound lanes; eventually the driver turns the truck around and heads back North.

     Take the politics out of this -- you or I are driving our nice blue truck, maybe down Meridian, maybe headed West on 12th and turning South, when we realize there are people all across the street, doing something,  We slow down and see they've got the street blocked and people are holding signs.  There we were, on our way to [generic location] and they have the street filled up with some kind of a protest!  They're telling us to turn around.  One of them's got a gun.

     You make the call!  Do we:
     A: Get the hell out of there, pronto,
     B: Keep trying to press forward.

     If you picked B for any reason, you're a fool.  Don't think people ought to be in the street?  Call the police; clearing them out is not something one person in a truck can accomplish. 

     I keep seeing commenters complaining, "But they've got no right..."  Indeed, they almost certainly have no right at all to do what they're doing in the way they are doing it; but there they are, lots of them, and there is one of you.  A couple of them are armed, and you have a truck.  You can certainly both manage to injure or even kill one another, and then what next?  You're definitely not going to get wherever you were going.

     In this kind of encounter -- in any kind of encounter with large groups of people doing unexpected things, or with armed people -- your goal is to survive, as intact as possible.  This is real life, not an action movie, and no matter how badass you are, no matter how justified you think you might be to take action against them, if flight is available then fleeing is the best course of action.  It exposes you to the least immediate risk, and it exposes you to the least short- and long-term risk of negative outcomes from threatening or harming others.

     Look, I get that it's not at all satisfying to your ego -- but neither is getting shot in the face through your own windshield.  For that matter, no matter how much you may loath the other person's politics, if you run someone over with your car, you will be tangling with the criminal justice system over it, and that's costly even if you don't face charges, more costly if you are charged and found not guilty, and life-changingly bad if you are found guilty of even the lightest charge. 

     Even worse, by engaging the crowd in a way that implies your errand is more important than the risk to their lives from your driving through the crowd, you are confirming their narrative: your behavior tells them their lives don't matter to you.  You are, in fact, making things worse for everyone.

     There's a public-safety campaign about avoiding flooded streets that uses a simple slogan, one that applies even when the street is flooded with people: Turn around and live.

     Didn't you have something do that was more important than street theater?
* Good luck with that, kids: due to coronavirus precautions, there are no more than four of five people in those TV station buildings, none of whom is allowed to conduct outside interviews.  Field crews edit on their laptop computers and send in video over the Internet or by cellular-phone links.  Most of them haven't been anywhere in their station's building for months except for the lobby, to swap out broken equipment.
† Typical of Indiana law, it works the other way around: you can cross the street anywhere you like, but the only place where pedestrians are preemptively given the right-of-way is in a marked crosswalk.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Annoying At Best

     I spent a couple of hours fighting with Firefox and my anti-virus software this morning.  Lots of crashing.  Time to replace the anitivirus, I think -- it's getting bad reviews.  What do you use?

Friday, August 07, 2020

Puzzled By Coronavirus?

      If the way this virus behaves puzzles you, take a seat right over there next to the immunologists.

     They've got more of a clue than, say, a random journalist or some person on social media -- it's still a puzzle, but they're filling in the edges and trying to sort out the pieces.  It's complicated.

     Lots of people think science works like storybook wizardry: you look up the magic formula or incantation, you consult a seer or a computer, perhaps inspiration strikes, and voila!  It's all laid out, neatly and in full detail.

     The reality is quite a bit more raggedy, a piece here and a chunk there, filled up like a junk-picker's shopping cart and maybe, eventually, assembled into a more-or-less coherent whole.  --And then reassembled, over and over, old bits taken off and now ones added, because that's how discovery works.  Science rarely gets to see the whole elephant all at once; they've got to stick the parts together.

     They're trying.  They're highly motivated; they have parents and families, too.  They miss movies and crowded restaurants and swapmeets and working side-by-side with people whose faces they can see and  all the rest of it just as much as you do.


Thursday, August 06, 2020

Breakfast And

     I enjoyed a nice omelette for breakfast -- bacon, fresh mushrooms, Iberico cheese, a couple of Castlevetrano olives and a little grated Parmesan, with some Italian spice mix and tarragon in the batter.

     And I have been "enjoying" a nasty headache all morning.  They're certainly not getting any better.

     Blogger has kicked me over to the new interface -- which is like a large-print-with-pictures version of the old interface.  That should tell us something, which I will leave as an exercise for the reader.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Shelves, Some Pictures

     A reader asked for "in the works" pictures of my current shelf project.  In the crowded garage, some fuzzy smartphone photos are are the best I can do right now, but they show some of the work.

     The first is a view of most of it, seen from the back,  The cross pieces that help keep it stable and (mostly) square are a little clearer than the flat drawing, as well as the bracing piece that should help keep the top shelf from sagging without losing any depth.  The wood's only slightly wider than the fabric storage cubes that will fill most of the space, and losing three-quarters of an inch to a cross-piece won't do.

     The second picture shows my rough joinery, a bit of a stencil and a couple of pencil lines, one to locate the guide for routing the shelf dado and another that carries the line of that dado to the opposite side of the board.  There's a slight difference in width between the shelf and the vertical: some of the wood was bought new and some is salvage.  When working with dimensional lumber at full size, you run the risk of this.  The front edges are aligned, planing will even out the back a little and past that, I'm willing to accept a sixteenth of an inch error in a mostly-hidden place.  A real cabinetmaker, working with something fancier than pine, buys oversize and uses a planer and jointer to get the wood to the necessary dimensions. This wood has a lot of "character," but you have to accept the irregularities that come with that or spend hours trying to pretty it up.

     There is exactly one non-mortised joint in this entire project, where the short vertical supporting the three small shelves meets the full-width shelf above it.  I thought about it, but the complexity of ensuring everything would fit was already pretty high and it didn't seem necessary.  The short shelves may get a triangular brace under the lowest shelf, to carry downard force over to the main vertical on that side and provide some additional lateral stability.

     The next step will be to wipe it down with methylated spirits to remove the pencil marks and mute some of the stencil markings on the wood.  That calls for having the doors and windows open -- and Tam's car farther away!  It's nosed right up to the shelves

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Two Screens?

     Sometimes a metaphor takes on a life of its own, and becomes a badge.  Sometimes it even gets in the way of thinking more deeply.

     I think both of those have happened with "One screen, two movies," attributed to Scott Adams as a description of current U. S. politics.

     It's compelling image, but it shuts off discussion.  When alluded to in a conversation, it's generally used as to indicate the speaker is on Team Red, but that's not such a big deal -- most people pick Red or Blue and few of them are shy about sharing their choice.

     The big deal is, if people aren't seeing the same movie, they have no common ground.  The metaphor implies the two main parties have no common ground.

     We need them to have common ground.  Sure, the President is just one person, so he (or, eventually, she) is going to be from one party or another.  But Congress is supposed to do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to making laws and setting up the various Bureaus, Departments and Commissions that comprise the Federal Government, and that's a whole lot of of people -- a whole lot of people who need to find compromises they (and, I hope, we) can live with.  To do that, they need common ground.

     It'd better be "One movie, two interpretations."  Sometimes those interpretations are deeply, fundamentally different -- but we'd all better hope they're seeing the same movie, or what's the point?


Monday, August 03, 2020

Cardinal Bribery?

     With Tam having got herself into the hobby of bird-feeding, we are both in the habit of glancing out the kitchen window to see what's happening at the feeder

     One of the better sights is a squirrel sliding down the feeder pole backwards from the anti-rodent device with a disappointed expression.  It's the most effective stop I have seen: a large-diameter tube concentric with the feeder support pole, closed at the top and open at the bottom.  Just large enough to fit a squirrel, too long to get around, too fat to climb, and far enough off the ground that they can't leap onto it.  They're welcome to glean fallen seeds under the feeder, which they do, along with the shy and speedy chipmunks.  Usually all I see of the latter is a flash of red-brown and an excited, "Chip!" when I open the back door.

     We found some small holes dug under the fence, into the neighbor's yard and the pile of maple stump-grindings in the side yard. Tam thought they were chipmunk burrows; I thought they were a bit large, but we weren't sure until the morning last week when a common or Norway rat was seen to slide out of the bird feeder's squirrel-thwarter.  We spotted at least two different individuals over the next few days and called an exterminator, who has already set out the usual solution.  (We may lose a few chipmunks; since one of the rat sightings was one of the bastards eating a mostly-dead chipmunk, we're going to call it collateral damage.  Chipmunks are widespread and they will repopulate.)  It's a city; there are rats.  They're usually not in back yards and it may be that the decline in dining out and the richly-filled dumpsters that result has driven some of them to look elsewhere.

     A more attractive and interesting sight are the cardinals.  We've had a lot of them this year, the bright-red males and drabber females.  They have raised quite a crop of youngsters this summer, and they're starting to arrive at the feeder, too.  They're a motley-looking lot, feathers coming in every which way, the boys in a kind of junior version of their adult plumage, bits of red and brown.  Accompanied by an adult, they flutter clumsily to perch on the arms of our feeder stand, looking like sulky teenagers hauled out to a grown-up restaurant.   The adults gather at the feeder, winkling out choice seeds -- and then they take the seeds over to their fledglings and feed them, beak-to-beak! 

     The young birds haven't fully mastered flight; landing on a swinging feeder has got to be tricky, and then digging out goodies from the seedcake, well, it's a lot to ask.  So Mom and Pop chivvy 'em over the feeder and bring them tasty treats, probably hoping the kid will eventually take a hint and start to figure out how to feed themselves.

     I can imagine the conversation:
     Ma Cardinal:  "C'mon, Junior, let's fly over to Tamara's feeder and we'll bring you your favorites.  Just hold onto the crossbar, you'll be safe enough..."
     Fledgling: "Aww, Mooom!  It's soo far!  Can't I just hang out in the nest?
     Pa Cardinal: "Nothing doing!  And don't argue with your mother.  You don't want to be a student pilot forever, do you?
     Fledgling: "Awwww. ...Well,  okay...."

     It sure looks like that's how it goes!

Sunday, August 02, 2020


     I finally completed assembly of the somewhat-complicated set of shelves that will, if all goes as planned, wrap around my dressing table and add more storage in my room.
     The design is something I have been fiddling with for over a year.  I started measuring and cutting wood over a month ago.  Dodging rain and working in terrible heat and humidity, progess has been slow.  Eventually I had everything cut, and this last week I routed grooves for the shelves and cross pieces, and yesterday, I started assembly.

     Had to recut a couple of cross pieces; I changed the plan on  the fly, messed up the new measurements, and had to revert to the original design (shallow dados in the verticals rather than full-thickness notches where the cross pieces connect.  But it worked out.

     It still needs to have the offset added at lower left, and both of the verticals need to be cut to clear the baseboard.  Then it will get cleaned (pencil marks mostly wash off with methylated spirits), planed, sanded, finished (probably linseed oil again) and then taken apart into a few subassemblies so I can bring it in and put it together in place.  Maybe another month of spare time in all that.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Mushroom Season

      They've shown up in small numbers a few times after rain, but this week had just enough rainfall to make the mushrooms happy, especially on the mound of stump-grindings where the hackberry tree once stood.  Interestingly, the clusters have sprung up mostly over places where I had dug into it and added hardwood charcoal ash from my grill.
     They look like tiny Fae barrios
     They are very short-lived; some colonies were already falling into disrepair.

     The smaller groupings can be very attractive.

     By evening, most were folding down, like tiny umbrellas. Maybe they'll be back tomorrow.  I doubt these are edible -- usually the more interesting a mushroom looks, the more likely it is to be dangerous to eat.  But they're nice to look at.