Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Are We Havin' Fun Yet?

Spent all day on Serious Skunk Works work. We have now reached that stage of things during which everyone (except the boss -- he's a carrier, naturally immune) gets more white hairs: with completion in sight, suddenly all of those things which could be put off for later, can't. Hilarity ensues, Gordian knots are sliced and everyone suffers diresome attacks of Ausperger's.

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why You Should Not Take A Village To Get Your Child Raised

I did promise it, didn't I? Fair warning: it's not real to me until I see it in print; final editing occurs after blog entries are posted. This is a difficult topic. I plan to get one version done and posted, go do other things, then come back and see if it wants adjusted. It's not fair but that's how it works.

I watched a good portion of Gattaca tonight. I love that film. It's a pretty movie with a marvelous cast (look, having Ethan Hawke as a Christmas present is not really all that much to ask for, it it?) and the soundtrack is exceptional, but that's not why I love it.

See, I'm probably not supposed to be here. And not just the "Midwestern chick with almost no college holding down a seriously tech-y job" thing, either. I had rheumatic fever, a serious case, when I was 4 and 5 years old; spent most of a year in bed, in pain. I was dreadfully nearsighted as far back as I can remember and concealed it (I didn't know any better!) until I was in third grade. Until I was an adult, I got strep every time we vacationed and not just a sore throat: scary high fevers requiring medical intervention. Two serious car accidents in my teens and twenties and another bout of rheumatic fever in between: the odds are that, like Vincent in Gattaca, I should have been dead a few thousand heartbeats back. I'm not. In fact, thanks to luck and hard work, I'm in excellent health. My heart's unharmed.

We are not just our genetics; we are not just the product of what happens to us. We're fixable.

But nobody owes it to us to fix us. I believe that forcing our fellow citizens to carry that burden is immoral.

Let's consider a family with a very ill child. They cannot afford to give this child the help it needs, so they go to the government.

Governments, interestingly enough, do not create wealth. They cannot conjure money from the air; when they try, they make the money they issue worth less and less until eventually, it is worth nothing at all. This functions exactly as a tax does: value which you have earned is taken from you. This is usually too much bother for governments, so they get "their" money more directly, by taxation.

Taxation is most usually universal; everyone, or nearly everyone, gets tapped. It may or may not be progressive, asking a greater percentage of persons with greater wealth, or it may be based on consumption of all or some commodities as a sales or value-added tax. But usually anyone with any money is made to contribute.

This includes the vast bulk of the population, a group which is generally just scraping by. Near the lower end of the fat middle of the bell curve, we have single-parent households of modest income and large families with two wage-earners and at the upper end are the semi-professionals and skilled trades with smaller familes or none at all, but the middle, the biggest group of taxpayers, is a group without much to spare and plenty of problems of their own. They set their own priorites and the vast majority of them do not rely on public assistance; they have probably got very basic insurance coverage for emergencies.

Now our family-with-sick-child comes along (multiplied by their hundreds) and thanks to a Government Program, picks the pockets of, mostly, people who had little if anything to spare. Your Tiny Tim, with a chance of survival even worse than mine as a child, counts for more than the machinist's son with a broken arm? Counts for more than the widow's ability to pay her gas bill? --Maybe to you.

Look, if you'd like to ask the people of your "village" for help, most of them would, as much as they could actually spare. That's not the same as having money -- an amount they have little control over -- taken from them to help you.

Worse yet, your own need will be weighed-- by some panel or board or bureaucrat -- against the needs of others. It may be denied or restricted. They don't care a fig for your child, only for whatever rules or ideals they have been given to follow. In the interest of "fairness," most are given little discretion.

If the help you are freely given by individuals and voluntary associations is not enough, I'm sorry. I am deeply and sincerely sorry. But our world is neither perfect nor is it pefectable. It is not acceptable to harm others to improve things for you and yours. Not even a little harm.

Rumors Of My Exaggeration Are Greatly Dead

....Yes, dear reader -- no, wait! counting the search 'bots, there are three of you! Okay, --readers: I am still blogging, just not much yesterday or a lot today. Maybe tomorrow!

Heap big doings here at the Skunk Works, upon which I would love to dwell in every-polished-bolthead detail, but not even the sleepiest of you need that much sleep. Also -- and here's some kewl "inside dope" on the exciting world of Bigtime Professional Brawdcastering -- we are on the very threshold of "sweeps," which is not the badly-needed stem to stern dusting and vacuuming this place cries out for but The Ratings Period! For you-the-home-viewer, this means plenty of fine and dandy new episodes (All New! In Choler! Er, "Color!") of your favorite shows, plus chat shows with truly attention-grabbingly vile and creepy content; for me, it means All This Junk Gotta Work Right Or Else. Or else we'll get crummy ratings and I won't get a nice raise or even new fun toys. Plus, our competition, evil, conniving slugs that they are (Hi, Tom!), would just love to get even a tiny peek at our Stunning Improvements which are sure to lead to either glory or at least attention, and I'm not gonna be the one t'spill the beans.

So I shan't say much, and that at great length. It's a gift.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I'm hopelessly behind today. The Skunk Workers called up about midnight* with heap Big Trouble; met my boss at the North Skunk-Working Campus, did some in-the-dark-and-cold tower-climbing and infrared camera work and ultimately concluded it was just an unusual glitch. Fog, full moon, cold, I really hope we didn't miss evidence of a jumper. It could well have been a wriggle on the power line or a settling-in thermal adjustment on the recently-replaced sections of transmission line.

But whatever else it was, it was A) Time-consuming and B) Worrisome.

So now, I must dash off and do heavy lifting. The end was in sight on moving out. The finish line tape just got moved. It does that.

* rinnnggg!
Our heroine lifts receiver, says, "Telephone?"
Long, long pause, slight snicker, "What? Umm, it's Hal. At the station? We have some kind of problem with the transmitter..."
Ever feel both happy (Ooo! Overtime!) and annoyed (Aw, overtime) at once?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I Am Wondering

Does it count as "saving the earth" if you are keeping said earth in quart Mason jars in your basement? I mean, if one were maybe so doing....

A Link...

Y'know, they did start out as "web logs," as in "places I have went." While I have Some Thing percolating in my noggin about Why The Village Is Not Obliged To Raise Your Child No Matter How Sick He Is, I don't know if the brew will be fit to post; it will make me look even more heartless than I am, which is sayin' a lot, and won't address the useless tears I have shed over other people's tragedies and things I cannot fix.

So try this, instead: an essay on a different sort of topic (or is it?) by Geek With A .45. An Excruciating Truth/"The Lightning"
I am not entirely comfortable with his angle of attack or his conclusions but I can't find any really big holes in it, either. Well, maybe two: I dunno if keeping America free is an inevitable result of the US of A havin' hold of The Lightning [and neither does The Geek. My apologies, sir] and I believe anarchy is the real state of human affairs; "civilization" is merely a game most of us have agreed to play and power in the hands of the State is most often the opposite of freedom. But granting that, the boy's not makin' stuff up. Read it an' see for yourself.

...While you're at it, go have a look at The Lawdog Files. The link is right over there at the right. He's a genius of the heart -- and no fool in other ways, too. Wish there were more like him.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Now That's Eatin'

There are all manner of awfulnesses 'pon which to comment, including yet another chapter of the modern revival of a custom once common among the pornea of old but I have elected, at least for now, to leave that to others in favor of mentioning something near and dear to me: dinner.

The local Sunflower Market, a sort of hippie capitalist supermarket in the long-ago A&P building where my Dad worked during his High School years, is proud to offer local marvels and their most recent find was a trove of brilliantly-red cherry peppers, the kind usually found only pickled in glass jars.

Fresh cherry peppers offer their own unique heat, slow-building, long-lasting, not as sharp and annoyingly persistent as a jalapeno while both stronger and smoother than pale-green Anaheim peppers. It's a bit much to eat one by itself, though they could work well on an antipasto tray. You could cook with them; properly treated, they'd add a nice bite to home-made chili. Tonight, I cooked nothing. I was lazy. Here's how it works:

Start with:
1 or 2 Cherry peppers, finedly diced
At least a half-dozen kalamata olives, chopped (vary to taste) (I love these and used about a dozen).
2 or 3 slices of Jarlsberg or other light Swiss cheese, chopped
1 can of tuna in olive oil, drained
Mix everything in a bowl, let it sit a spell in the fridge if you have time, and enjoy! It needs no other spice or dressing. You could use tuna in spring water but the oil helps keep the cherry peppers from overpowering the other flavors. A fresh herb salad -- the bagged-up ready-made kind -- makes a nice side.

It won't cure the ills of the Federal Government or make the hostile, backwards rats of the world love you, but for a little while, those things won't matter as much!

Cat Update

Tommy the cat, for those who have wondered, spent two nights in the Animal Hospital, where they found nothing too awful except his teeth. He came home Monday and went to his regular vet Tuesday for dental work. He had one tooth pulled and has been doing very well, happier and more active than he had been in months. What a relief! He's quite elderly and very dear to me.

TEOTWAWKI? Unlikely.

If I seemed to be waxing apocolyptic previously, blame the times. I consider most of the "crash" scenarios to be low-probability. If things do go all wonky, a slow slide is a lot more likely than a sudden fall. This is not to say we might not some day find ourselves in a bad way -- but I expect to have a chance to push back and I expect your shoulder to be against the wheel, too. Modern Civilization offers us too many good and useful things to give it up without a struggle!

Other things, we just get, free for nothing. Leaving the Skunk Works Wednesday evening after a hard day of coping with the sad loss of Something Very Important (see previous entries) and the increasingly-faint hope of that device ever working again, I was greeted with an impossibly pink arch of fluffy clouds against a brilliantly blue sky. Colors so intense that if an artist had painted them, no one would find it realistic! It lasted perhaps ten minutes, tops, and then faded away. By the time I turned down my own alley, neon extravagence had given way to a determinedly inky Autumn evening, punctuated by the same low clouds reflecting the city's lights and the moon trying to peek through them.

If human civilization or just Western culture does manage to go belly-up, one with the-glory-that-was-Rome, the sun and sky will keep on producing such shows, each one different. Might as well look up and savor them!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

About 67.6% Dead

I spent today at an all-day series of seminars connected with whatever it is I do -- if you're guessing something along the lines of media engineering, here's a nice gold star! Hang onto it, you'll want comforting later and that's about the best I can do. I am usually happy-silly but even I get whacked in the face by reality every once in awhile.

There is -- always -- something about the EAS system at these gatherings and for all my extreme leeriness of Big Gummint, EAS, warts and all, is a low-cost, workable system. The basic structure is a multiply-interconnected "tree" and it's pretty hard to break. The "Amber Alert" is one of the cheapest, most effective and least-intrusive of the citizen snitch programs and has proven itself remarkably resistant to abuse; and storm warnings are promulgated about as rapidly as possible, either via the National Weather Service tripping EAS alerts, or stations working directly from NWS releases trying to be even faster than EAS. --In the event of an actual emergency, good effing luck: all the system can do is tell you stuff and if you're not ready to react properly to bulletins like, for instance, "The radioactive cloud is over Little Rock, heading North-Northwest at approximately 25 mph," then you're gonna die.

Seriously -- if things really go to pot, the future belongs to that LDS family down the street and the crazy survivalist guy a block over who has a basement shelter stocked with food and water, if it belongs to anyone at all. It would belong to me except I'm either going to be hard at work engineering media, or pitching in at the Red Cross (etc.), a decision I came to a long time ago. I haven't much family and I'd rather go out helping those who do rather than slink away to save my own lonely hide. (So that's why the Objectivists won't have me over for Christmas! Dang!)

One of the speakers was, for want of a better term, a Homeland inSecurity wonk. He seemed like a pretty good guy; like most workin' bureaucrats, he's no strutting brownshirt, just a man trying to do a difficult job. I have serious qualms about some aspects of the job but darned few about the man.

And that, at long last, brings us to today's topic: the National Strategic Stockpile. Do you know what that is? It's big ol' piles of useful meds, prepacked for rapid deployment and stationed so a supply is never more than 12 hours away from any major population center. What's in the boxes now is mostly antibiotics that can hack known forms of what we'll call "weaponized enthrax," plus items to deal with a few other known bio-threats. Sounds pretty good, right?

You bet it is -- for the lucky 324,000 who are first in line, assuming what is politely known as "civil unrest" doesn't break up the calm and orderly distribution. That's how many doses are in one standard package, period. We can hope there's another 324K doses on the way, and if the agent happens to be enthrax, the highest probability is there's a 48-hour treatement window, plenty of time...again assuming people don't become a tad, shall we say, over-excited.

Quick sidebar: I consider this to be a very low-probability event. If you don't think every crop-duster in the States has already been vetted six ways from Sunday (and has become more than a bit watchful him or herself), or that any ijit fool enough to overfly a crowded city, especially during a big event (auto race, rally, whatever) won't get waved off and receive a fighter escort if they don't comply forthwithly, you've been asleep. Restricting airspace during big events was SOP even before 11 Sept. All it takes is one klutz with engine trouble to mess up nice Pan-Am Games.

But fine, let's say it happens; Badguy duJour has a really good day and dusts my population center during something like, oh, a 500-mile automobile race. There's a good chance over a million people will be exposed (or think they have been). 1,000,000. If everything works out really well, 324,000 of them will get treatment likely to save their lives, and perhaps only as many as 15% will die. If people become vexed at the situation, that first 324,000 could well be the only ones to get dosed -- politicians and public-safety workers first.

That leaves over two-thirds on their own. Maybe dead.

That's your government, lookin' out for you, 'cos they care. Sure makes me feel good about where my taxes go!

My advice? Same as it's been for years: avoid targets (I live in one but I'm not all that clever, as described above). Avoid target-rich events. If Bad Stuff happens, move with alacrity away from the area and seek treatment elsewhere. (This last would be a bad idea if you have been exposed to something infectious. Your call). Riots are the biggest danger once the initial exposure is past.

In the discussions at the seminar, the notion of civil unrest in this connection never came up. It's not our job. The speaker did suggest we needed to "avoid producing panic" but offered no suggestion as to how to do it.

I guess not panicking is up to you. Okay?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mondays! Mondaze!

Yeech. Showed up at the Skunk Works this ayem -- fifteen minutes late, thanks to traffic and an innate lack of any time sense -- and discovered Something Very Important had failed. Well, more like "augered in short of the runway with all four engines on fire," probably unrecoverably.

This should not be a problem, as we have had nearly a year of fiddling with Something Very Cool (SVCool), which is to replace Something Very Important (SVI), not to mention most of the other systems that SVI works with. That is, it would replace it, if certain very critical parts of it actually worked. They don't. We bought vaporware. It was not represented as vaporware (what a surprise!) but that's what it was.

So, whilst various other members of the Deportatation of Train-Driving* did A) crash recovery or B) short-term workarounds, I got to string wires and do other hardware-y things to make, maybe, a corner of SVCool that does work be a kind of sort of back up to the workaround that is filling in for SVI.

Oh, yeah, and it poured down rain all afternoon.

Some fine Monday! The workaround for SVI is going to take up a huge amount of all our time until we either get the broken gadget running again (holding one's breath while waiting for that a very bad idea) or come up with some brilliant and unexpected fix. What we're doing for now is a crude expedient.

...As ever, I'd love to go into great and complicated detail about this stuff, except for two little problems: first, it is staggeringly dull when closely examined and second, this is stuff my paycheck runs though, critical stuff for my employer, and I'll not give up even a tiny detail that might give the competition an edge.

Oh, the excitement and drama and broken fingernails!
* If I have to explain this, it will take all the fun out. Read it slowly, sideways, if it didn't make sense.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Moving -- Or Trying To

I don't mind taking time out to see to my cats; but it was time lost and when the wrecking company called to say they were running late, it was a mixed blessing. I had time to get to the vet, but lost time on the move.

I did make some progress. The MGB is moved and fits well in the garage, which has become a mini-biography: (Ooops! Bit of a cock-up at Blogger, no pix upload today. I have posted the photo in my old blog at

Anyway, it's my life story told in artifacts: my prom dress (still fits. Fear me), my "little black dress" from when the Skunk Works did way-formal holiday parties (dude, they served quail eggs and caviar on the buffet-- and it was good!) and a couple of nice cloaks hanging with the other closet overflow above the MGB, bicycle, scooters and Accent; gun-cleaning stuff and ancient, cool-looking electronic gadgets on shelves along the walls, and a few boxes of books still to get taken into the house. Along with a zillion boxes containing everything else!

The guy that moved my MGB (on a huge flatbed wrecker) had better not be reading this blog: oh, he was handsome! About the right height and build, too -- over 6' and well-muscled. Little grey at the temples, also a Good Thing. Plus, he was very, very good at his work, which -- as I have admitted -- is kind of a toe-tingly thing for me. But I was good, I refrained from bein' forward an' he called me "Ma'am" and was properly respectful. Got a decent price, too, considering the amount of finagling and force it took to get the MG out of where it had been for a decade and into its new home.

There was gonna be a cute picture of me in my "alpha geekette" T-shirt but not today, not on Blogger. (You can find it on my MySpace blog). I'm sure they are hammerin' on the stuck data-pipes this very moment and it will all be better by and by.

(And so it was!)

Another day of moving is in store for me tomorrow, so I'm off! Way off, if that's T-shirt's any indication. Wish me luck, there's a lot left to be hauled out.

My Dear Tommy Cat

Tommy the cat was very unhappy this morning and had to go to the doctor. Acted like his jaw was sore. At his age (18 last month!), I do tend to worry.

The vet says he's dehydrated, which is pretty typical for him, poor guy. They have him on IV fluids and said he was doing fine as of this eveing; waiting on blood work befpre proceeding. No obvious dental issues other than some exposed root (gingivitis), which would be enough to cause touch-sensitivity.

Here's hoping for the best. It's just me and The Slinker for now. She's wondering where her Daddy is.

Tommy's slept in my bed for nearly every night of his life. I'll miss him tonight.

Friday, October 19, 2007

In Excellent Taste, Not As Filling:

Light blogging, of course. (Maybe not this light?) I am, after all, still moving (this is how you can tell I am not dead), not to mention in the process of getting the remainder of My Stuff (TM) from Old House to New House.

It is not easy. But it either build strong bods twelve ways or breaks 'em right down. Maybe both.

Here's the drill: get up. Do coffee (in a Chemex. I'm not a frekkin' barbarian) and oatmeal or whatever. Read blogs. Perform ablutions as indicated. Frown at hair in mirror. (Doesn't help). Attempt to Do Something with hair. Fail. Remember that a striking combination of several colors of ponytail holders is just almost as good as a hairstyle. Pull on V-neck tee-shirt, tights (it's cold in this burg already!) hacked jean shorts, painfully loud sox, Keens, ballcap and a hoodie, grab the usual vade mecumbrances (phone, pocketknife, pilot's watch, sidearm, pocketbook, button that says "Question Authority") and trudge to the garage.

In the garage, I keep the tallest-frame women's bike made, 'cos while I am merely on the high side of average at 5' 9", an awful lot of it is leg. 21 speeds this thing has, of which the top 2 or 3 are useful.

And thus Our Heroine departs to U-Rent-Em at 15-odd mph, despised by drivers who are not ogling her gams, and some who are, too, the decadent sophisticates.

By now, the U-Rent guys have the drill down and don't ask for my SSN or nothin'. They just take my money and excrete a van from hidden storage. Bike goes into van, I go home, and the fun starts.

See, I broke my right leg at the knee in the Spring of '06 and most of the My Stuff (TM) left is A) heavy and B) in the basement. So in order to keep from annoying my well-healed knee, I have to put on a leg brace for the heavy lifting and toting; otherwise, side stress makes the next day less than fun. Even at that, after four hours, I will take a few fun spills. This isn't really a problem; I know how to fall and I usually catch myself, bounce up and am back on my feet before I even think about it. It does scare onlookers, which is often a benefit.

Four hours of why-did-I-buy-that later, the van will be fullish of heavy, fragile things, most of them electronic, obscure, and of no real value; take to the new place, unload randomly, stack tightly and repeat. Over and over and over.

Tomorrow, more of the same, minus bike trip. But I will be getting the MGB moved; maybe someday it will be able to move under its own power! Perhaps I'll photograph it, poor ol' B.

And thus, light blogging.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Big Old Blank Spaces, Part Deux

...And who can resist deux? We've got 'em all along the Central Canal here in Broadripple, in dizzying variet-- What?

It's not pronounced that way? Darn those French! So much for that brilliant pun! And the deux so often go about in pairs, too -- that's what misled me, those sneaque deu ducks.

H'mm, I could talk about politics, except I just don't want to. They will pass nitwitty laws and take your money. It's what they do. It's pretty much all they do. On average, the party on the Left will try to take your guns; the party on the Right will snoop into your sex life. Hint: it is more difficult to hide guns; there's zillions of generations of human experience in sneaking around about Ess-Eee-Eks encoded in your genes and culture. Me, I vote Klingon (thank you, Mr. duToit!) more often than not but it's not to everyone's taste. Just as long as you get out there and vote, I'm happy -- you're probably not stupid and we have way too many stupid people voting. I'd tell you who to vote for but I figure you're a grown-up and can dazzle your own mind with the choices.

At the dear old Skunk Works Engineering Deportment* today, the phrase "Indiana University Engineer" came up. This afflicted me like sand in cornbread. The Hoosier state, in addition to being within sight of a nearly 30% adult literacy rate and bathtubs in over 25% of all homes** has several fine engineering schools which produce all sorts of train drivers: Purdue, Rose-Hulman and many lesser lights. IU, not so much an engineering school. Pre-law, pre-med, music, party, they say it's a great school for those majors. But in my unbiased opinion, "IU Engineer" is an oxymoron. It developed the topic was a TV engineer working at IU. I'm bettin' a Purdue grad, the R-H types are too clever.

Whew! More blank space filled! An' ever-so usefully, too.

I have released the handbrake on Comments. I'm livin' large!
* We have excellent deportment, just like wolverines. Ask anyone.
** I may have not read those figures correctly. It's a new skill for me....

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

From Below, It Looks Like This:

At least one (1) question came into the ol' Questionomatic 4000 (beta) about how the Alcoves Of Delight and RF on the (former) Banc One tower look. "Cool," that's how. Or more to the point --

The balcony or alcove I was on day before yesterday is that large dark rectangle. It's at least 15 feet tall.

The right-hand mast is rigged and there may be a tower guy on it. It's difficult to tell. I know there's work (not ours) going on; the Great Father of Riggers and I were sparring over weekend work and he offered me a free dinner (G------'s pizza, one slice) if I'd help on that project instead of trying to get his guys to help on my project. I agreed and countered, asking 200% of my hourly rate for geekery, he came back with two slices of downtown's second-finest 'za, and I suggested 175%. We stopped there - it would have taken us three days to reach a price!

About this, I can say but little. It was part of our "quick fix" the other day. Readers are invited to assume it's got the Weyland-Yutani logo on it and right after I snapped the image, a browncoat scurried into view, ripped the cover off, powered the thing up and used it to blast an Alliance fighter right out of the sky. I'm certain that's what would have happened in a better world!

...We've got gadgets at the SkunkWorks that do have the Weyland-Yutani logo on them. I have not got the Least Possible Idea (TM) how this could be.

(Pix snapped quickly while undoing and/or doing something that may or may not be related to the Adventure -- and you thought the images were hazy!)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

You Might Be A Gunnie If...

...If you happen to have a crate like this:

As it happens, it's very empty. Picked it up years ago from a roadside stand selling used crates near a Navy proving ground and it's just Too Kewl to part with!

Tell you what, if ever my place gets searched and they haul that crate out very gingerly and blow it up, the poor boys are going to be so very vexed to discover they've exploded my old working-the-pole shoes!

What? You want to see those? Sometimes I don't think you boys get out much, if any.

Here ya go:

What? They're Carolina Pole Climbers, some of the best lineswoman's boots ever made. Triple-reinforeced toes, nice supple leather, and made all the softer by many years of Sno-Seal and good black polish! Almost knee-high, too.

Just the thing for doing outside work of a vaguely-describable sort in bad weather for my bosses at the Skunk Works. (Not to be confused with The Skunk Works, by the way, or the Skonk Works, either). I came by them honestly; when I bought them, I was climbing poles for a cable TV company.

After a whole Summer of that and part of the Autumn, I came to the conclusion, reluctantly, that there is a limit to how far I'll go to prove a point and better ways to earn a living. Some jobs really are "man's work" as far as I'm concerned, and y'all can have them. It wasn't the poles, that part's fun. It's the mud. In the better districts, all those horriawful unsightly wires an' things are buried and it never fails -- when you have to get at said nasty ol' wirings, it's either raining, been raining, or somebody's broken a water pipe. And the householders want their MTV (and HBO and high-speed Internet and telephone and on and on) right the devil now! The only consolation is that once it's all fixed and everyone has their pr0n cable TV back, you get to go walk on their carpets in your muddy, muddy boots. Heheheheh.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Yes, a real one. And fun, too. See this?

View Larger Map
That's the top of the (former) Banc One tower in Indianapolis. At about the 600-foot level, there are four balconies. The roofs over them form the four different-looking portions of the top of the building. They have a sort of notional railing at the open side but the ceiling is at least 15' high and the space is just plain open at the outside wall.

I spent about 45 minutes on the North one this afternoon. The view is utterly stunning. From the straight-down peek at the post office and park to the distant, hazy horizon punctuated by towers, there's nothing to compare it to that isn't also a good viewing platform at a great height

I was up there (and out there!) on a semi-secret task for my employer. I'd describe that in detail but to be fair to them (and protect my own livelihood), I'd have to leave out so many details the story wouldn't make any sense!

What makes the vista even more striking is that the area inside the top of that building has the general ambiance of a basement. It's a dingy machinery space with some room set aside for the sorts of techie toys I herd: all unpainted concrete, I-beams and huge, whirring pumps; then you open a nondescript door... and all the sky and half the city's on the other side! Amazing. Would that I had brought a camera; perhaps next time.

A side note is that the issue that resulted in this particular task was entirely unexpected but thanks to an excellent collaborative effort by my department, it was resolved in very short order. Sometimes I complain about The Skunk Works but when we're good -- oh, man, are we good!

Sunday, October 14, 2007


There are many skills one must aquire early in life to ever achieve high standing. Sure, a very few adults find unexpected skills -- but that's rare.

Thinking about who I might list over there on the right hand side of your screen, I was musing over the blogs I most often read and pondering other greats whose performances I admire: H. L. Mencken, Groucho Marx, W. C. Fields, L. Neil Smith, Mark Twain.... Struck me (ow!) they all have something in common. They've all got snark.

Each in their own way, from a fencer's speed and precision to a storytelling Uncle with a flair for twisted plots, from a step-by-step fisking to pure annoyed venom; but they've all got it.

I shall never be able to snark well; I will rarely snark in public and I promise that any snarking I do wil be done only for good. It's time I paid closer heed to the champions of the art. It's a high and pure calling: I wanna study Snark-Fu!

(I may prove to be a danger with it only to myself!)

Too Biz' To Buzz!

Ever so much to writhe about (thanks, Matthew D) and no time to even faint in coils. Still doin' the Big Darn Move. Full van and no time to even return it!

Tune in later for our ongoing coverage of How I Decided To Study A Verbal Martial Art Late: some skills have to be learned early if one is ever to compete publically. There's still much to be learned from The Greats for the amateur rest of us!

...And This Is Your Brain On Toast

...Without hot sauce, darn the luck. Even a little Cajun seasoning...? Hmpf. No.

I'm zonked. Spent all day at The Old Place, boxing up books, dishes and you-would-not-believe (Think 807. Think 6L6. Think 9-gamma-ni-- Ooops, upside down!). Then I loaded the boxes into a van. Now the van is at new place and you know what? I'm gonna sleep. I've got a dozen oddball telegraph keys to box up tomorrow just for a start and I only rented the van for one day 'cos I'm like, you know: clever. (This is why I have not yet invented the calculus: poor sense of time).

Go read The Lawdog Files. He's got new kittens. Come back here later!

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Trip To The Wal- Heartless Exploit- Benefac- A Trip To The Five And Dime

I don't much like the place. It's not 'cos they "exploit the downtrod" -- who doesn't, and us exploitees get heap big mucho bux we did not otherwise have.

Nor is it the way, at times, said used & abased go out of their way to be unhelpful, though I don't like it but would probably be tempted to do some myself in their shoes. Nope, it's that a lot of what the outfit sells is too dern fragile and the crowds just drive me whackier: it's like being caught inside the machinery of a bad Dinsneyworld* ride, hoping none of them malf like Yul Brinner in Westworld. (Yes, it's true: I think a gunfight at Housewares would be rude. Sorry. Next life, I plan on bein' bloodthirstier!)

Liking has very little to do with it when they have the one thing you need three of and cannot find anywhere else for less than $47.95 and too small at that price; I bound on arms and armor and bounded thru the doors, alert to the hazardous Senior Citizen smiling at us sad, sad dupes, out to buy what we needed at prices we could afford.

The rare & exotic freestanding clothes rack, $9.95 American. How like them, to reel me in with their flashy goods!

For a wonder, the checker was A) having a nice day and B) not on the phone to anyone.

Got my stuff and left, suffering temporary deafness at the door lest the Grey Guard stop me to pore, item by slowly-read-with-lips-moving item, over my receipt vs. the priceless gems of offshore manufacturing in my cart.

Escaped intact.

It's a wonder!

I even bought an I (heart) ME button. Oooo.

* It's a fictional place I just made up. Any resemblance to any real place with, like, real lawyers is entirely within your own mind. Got it?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Toweri- Look, It's Done, Okay?

Back to the happy tower story:

In our last episode, Tower Guys and Elevator Guys were sort of squaring off. Each had stuff (thousands of feet and/or pounds of stuff!) in the other's way and there was a bit of bluster!

(Cue exciting, tension-filled the movies).

This isn't the movies. I asked some intentionally somewhat-stupid questions and left them alone to commiserate over the sad fate of good men havin' to answer to a dizzy chick who thinks she knows...! When I came back five minutes later, they had a plan and were best of friends. By mid-afternoon, the tower was unrigged, the elevator worked better than ever, and all was well in the ranks.

That's the good news. The bad is, a lot of non-critical steel parts on the ground end of the elevating works have rusted to flinders and will want replacing. They write my paycheck out of those same accounts some of which will now go to skilled work by outside contractors! So sad.
It does, however, beat combing pieces of elevator out of my hair.

If You Were Wondering

HTML's easy to edit, so here's a screencap. A quicker clicker could push those decimals up....

P.S., I am a genius. Big deal. They picked a spot on the bell curve and decided if you scored over that point, you were in! Whee! I'm thinkin' the real genius is in inventing calculus or writing the March from "For the Love of three Oranges." Or in writing that opera to begin with. IQ scores are fun. "Genius" lies in what you do with that sharp, sharp tool.
(For extra points, give names to go with those examples. For extra extra points, give three names!)

Dumber Than Some?

Not very many.

How smart are you? - Intelligence Test

This thing can be gamed; there's a time penalty. Take it three times!
Lesson: victory might not always go to the swiftest but it doesn't hurt any.
Application: This. Is. Why. You. Train. Any skill gets better with practice. Part of the "intelligence" test is measuring how rapidly you read, comprehend, and go slidey-click with a mouse. Gunnies can see how this one ports over to other skills.

Found here.

An aside:
Gunblog traffic is going to be horribly disrupted for awhile and it won't be my fault. Further, deponent sayeth not. You'll find it.

A Towering Maybe

Found today myself at Skunk Works North, not my choice of vacation hotspots but my employer's tower is festooned with steel cable that is Not Ours and the people to whom it does belong, they would be wanting it back, along with their fancy hoist engine.*

Adding to the fun, our own elevator (from several episodes back [at the old blog], the motor about the size of the common washing machine, with gentle eddies of white smoke issuing from each end) has died, been fixed, but not tested! (It took three days, too. For whatever that's worth). The elevator car is still stuck about 900 feet up in the air. It's a long walk down and it's cold up there today.

So I mediate between Tower Dudes and Elevator Dudes, each group proud and independant professionals with their own specific vocabulary and understanding of safety. Big fun! About which, more later. Gads. This is why I never babysat much. Lookin' at each other like tomcats from different school districts, I kept expecting them to puff up twice normal size and hiss.

To Be Continued. Much else to to do.
* The heart of which is great big diesel engine spinning a shoebox-sized pump from which pipes bigger around than my forearm emerge; the scale of every part seems askew to the things it's connected to, which is the way of hydraulics to the eye of the uninitiated.

It's A Big Blogiverse, But *That* Big Seemed Unlikely

At least one other person does Get It. --The bizarre way I write that is. The man droppped me a note, even. (Oh, I am so fine. Fine-ish. Oh, I'm adequate. Ha-ha ha haaaah hah, some one will reeeead this).

So there! Search 'bots, scoot over. More germanium, anyone?

[Sources of my style: A) Mostly and foremost, the noise inside my head; my internal monologue is sort of a frog in a blender, swimming like mad to keep out of the blades. Crossed with the nightly news as read by H. L. Mencken. B) Spider Robinson at his most. C) John (OMG, that's... people do that? Willingly? But the boy can write) Rechy's City of Night. My old apartment, some years back, was right on the edge of that city and at least I read the guidebook. The rents are cheap, the bars all get one star or less. Earplugs are mandatory and it pays to not look into shadows. D) Sylvia Plath. E) Precisely three of Samuel R. Delany's short stories: mostly Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones, plus Driftglass and We, in Some Strange Power's Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line. D) Howard Philips Lovecraft, the man did not write turgidly all the time. Don't like that list? Not my problem!]

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Towering No

So after agreeing to work the middle day of my vacation, overseeing Daring Young Men some hundreds of feet in the air on a spindly tower, it's too windy! Nothing doing. Nix. They object to possibly being sailed off the tower, even with proper restraints. H'mm. They're not that daring, are they? That's a relief!

Risks must be managed. Please notice there is no State Board of Excessive Windiness* issuing guidelines. Those who will be taking the risk scoped it out and made their call. Consider it an easy lesson.
* Perhaps all them are, but not in the same sense of the term.

Linked up, with wheels

The link's in from the old place. Will this work? Like a spider tapdances!

And the Hot Needle of Inquiry III is back, minus a few of the more-disturbing sounds it was making. Now I won't have to turn the radio up so loud! It will need still more ruffles and flourishes (that's artsy talk for "battery cables and a new radiator") by Winter's end. I'm saving up for the rear treads/front skis option.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007


(If you say it three times fast, a magic elf appears -- unless you have ever thunk Evil Thoughts!)

...Yeah, it doesn't work for me, either.

Much is good. The rest isn't terrible. The Hot Needle of Inquiry III* -- known to mere mortals as an effed-up howling-lipstick-red '02 Accent L, on the road coming towards you which you would so very much not want to see (and to judge from the frequency with which my various Accents have been hit, many people do not see) -- is supposedly all better, so I shall return the fine loaner (yes, another XM-equipped Santa Fe, this one with with the dumbgirl version of the climate controls instead of the sobriety/intelligence test the previous loaner had, who knew they read my [old] blog and will somebody kindly remind me to hide my Mensa card?) and pick it up before the traffic becomes perverse and twisted.

Which it does in that end of town.

All them fine young upright an' moral yuppifiers (not to condemn an entire group) having been crammed into cubicles all day, at going-home time the idiotic among them turn to scaring the very dickens out of the rest of us on the roads of this here metrapolitan wonder, 'cos getting one fat carlength ahead apparently assures one of chewy karmic love forever and ever, selah. Or maybe they wanna get home fast to watch the next episode of "Gurlz Gone Stupid" on their T1V0; I don't know and I don't want to know. I just, dear Lord, want them to not be too stupid or rude, just this one day, okay? Please?

There's something about stress. It adversely affects my language skills.

There's something about XM, too. I could not have it in my car. I'd wreck. I'd listen to the comedy channel addictively and take out a phone pole. Or a phone Hungarian, and they certainly don't rate that; it's not Sadie Hawkins day. Great Ghu, it's trippy! Worth the price? That's your call. My decision was made for me by the Property Tax Board of this here Center Of Urban Delight and they say "no extras." (They say, "Gimme that," but it translates to the other).

Went to range today and you'll all be very pleased (it's required of you) to know I shoot right well, for a girl who has shot nothing but photos in at least eight months. I could stop a bad guy. ...However, if competitive shooting were a dining establishment, I'd be sat near the kitchen and told to eat fast. Sigh. I knew this would be the case. On the other hand, I'm not as bad as I feared I would be.

Times are tough. The ol' range has no magazine rack any more! Where'n the name of John Moses Browning's diary am I supposed to buy gun pr0n now? (I really only buy SWAT and Concealed Carry for articles -- hey, if you can claim it, I can claim it.)

Wrapped my hot little hands around a bobbed carry .45 of 1911A lineage by one of the big names, about the size of an old Star PD but all fancy and nice. I know what I'd swap for one but this is a family kind of place. They really are almost enough to tempt one to throw virtue to the winds. I guess my main gun, the laundry gun (Don't be fooled, socks are dangerous!) and the .22 will have to do for now.

But that empty magazine rack and the thinned-out book section bother me.

Seriously, the signs are we're facing an economic readjustment. The politicos say things are booming but when I drive by mothers holding up "Please help. Will work for food" signs at the onramps in the middle of the day, there's more than mere alcoholism or a good scam going on even if that's what they're doing. Change may be inevitable but it's often no fun (maybe I had ought to have bought that mule. They're difficult to cook, though).** Might be a good idea to ponder your favorite charities, if you can.

* The first one was The Hot Needle of Inquiry, followed by The Even Hotter Needle of Inquiry and now THNoI III. They're every bit as much fun as a hot needle under the fingernails, too. Highly affordable and that was what counted.

** Mom tells me once you've got the pot lid dogged down properly, they can't get back out. Coolness! I so should not have skipped Home Ec to go smoke cigarettes with the hoody boys.



Now, isn't that attractive? Spang new blog and she stands there wonderin' what to say.

Well, it's a long day, there is much to do, and the Muses can hide more places than a cat. There's more to come.

I still ain't skeered. Dumbfounded, yes.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Great Big Old Rectangular Blank Spaces

They don't much scare me, you know.

A lifetime ago, I made a habit of getting up early every morning and staring at a blank sheet of cheap paper loaded into an IBM "Electromatic" until my eyes bled and/or I had produced at least a page of semi-useful copy. There were better ways even then, but a used industrial-strength electric typewriter was the hot app for an aspiring writer on a budget.

I ain't skeered. I papered the walls with rejection slips, and then with nice notes from editors and then... Stopped.

I had a day job already.

I can write it. I don't know if you will read it. That part's your lookout, me bucko.

But I'm here now. Maybe later on I'll see about porting over an entry or two from the old place.

It's going to be about Whatever. My mind's a Notions counter in a forgotten hardware store, wrapped in an enigma (or at least an Enigma Machine ) and shrouded in live steam, Victorian hair ribbons and cordite smoke, so don't expect consistency in the subject matter.

And No Spitting! Geesh, guys...!

I'm going to do this. Adulation is unlikely.

There will be (she says with strident charm) no links to no bloggers nohow for the first few, other than one to/from the old place. I want to make my mistakes more-or-less quietly.


Sunday, October 07, 2007