Sunday, December 30, 2007
The Breda action figure: Arrves in a Kelly-green case with an incised Celtic pattern, inside one finds a cute little doll with deep-red lips, cobalt-blue nails and somewhat-wild hair. (And the faint lingering scent of...Dr. Pepper?) If something in the look in her eyes and the cast of her features reminds you of a bird of prey, well...you're not alone.
Two standard outfits: primly librararian in the modern manner, and Suburban Tactical for home and range. Accessories include a .38 revolver, IWB holster, one (1) genuine labrys with which to mete out justice to bedazed fantasy-book readers (fresh yet stale-smelling from their apartments in their Mom's basements and one of Our Heroine's natural pests), a Chococat-styled AR-15, a small photograph of Sarah Brady weeping, 35,786 rounds of assorted ammunition and a standing invitation to all of the other action figures, even Barbie, to go shooting at her local range.
The leisure-time package (part of the standard kit; indeed, no Breda will be found without it!) includes fine microbrews, a turtle of uncommon religious persuasion, and an indeterminate number of cats, books, and something large, protective and spoken of in hushed tones called a "husband." It seems to be a lot bigger than the other action figures.
Camo oven mitts and recipe book are available at extra cost.
I'm So Proud
This is from HK, so odds are about 50/50 between "lit'ry curiousity" and "jonesin' for a snack."
Saturday, December 29, 2007
That's quite a nice....Airship
Hey, I love ya and airships are just plain kewl, but geesh, get a life! If you can't, check out this. Yeah, yeah, they're claimin' it's all green an' stuff, but still: lighter-than-air! Coolness!
(Are they zepposexuals? Pleeeeeeeeeze don't tell me, okay? I mean that).
Retrospectacles One: One Day
The Data Viking appeared at the door, bearing not axe nor horn'd helm nor shield, nor even yet a lute, but his usual arms, armor and instrument: a friendly smile. (It serves him well). With perfectly straight face and in non-committal tone, DV proceeded to describe a T-shirt image he'd like to see, one that so perfectly suited him that the only possible response was to curtsy in respect. I'll be asking his permission to share it here!* So after a short chat, I left him near some (I hope!) interesting books and got as ready as possible as fast as possible and we were out the door with thirty minutes to spare. (Who, me, slow?)
Off to the bank,** done in a flash and a day still more than half-full, he opined it was too cold to wander outside (true but unfortunate) so I, ever the hopeful hunter-gatherer, raised an inquisitive eyebrow and pointed across the way at the sole surviving example of the Old Retail Guard looming from the picturesque ruins of this city's oldest mall -- they have torn the concourse stone from stone, plowed asphalt into the ruins, and caused a Target to be erected where once stood the very temple of
Lo, a wonder: he fell for it! Truly the most patient of men, DV ambled along in my wake, while we examined the wonders of Modern Kitchen Items (psst, pot&pan designers: those rassafrassin' metal handles you're so fond of get hot!), fine furniture (some's nice but mostly? Word to the wise: buy used, refinish, re-upholster), Oriental carpets (deeeee-lightful, I want me some), modern carpets (sure, it's Art, but is it a floor covering?), a selection of men's ties I found remarkably repellent in color and pattern but was assured were hardly a patch on the worst of the worst, and, finally, to that most wonderful and dangerous of all departments: Women's Attire.
It is vast and trackless. The stylish render me mute with withering, unvoiced scorn for my all-too-obvious geekdom. There are no drinking fountains and few landmarks. Even DV lost his bearings (though not his marbles). After a few adventures, a side-trip into shoes (I now own A] superkewl retro-Chinesical tennies and B]some Decent Sunday-Go-To-Meetin' Shoes that are not even sinful patent leather or nothin'), five minutes of me looking wistfully at a tiny, nifty sequined number I so could have worn to good effect -- a decade ago and similar adventures, I found some hoodies for work an' Something for New Years and we made our escape.
Sure, it was the equivalent of a walk in the park. --Nevertheless, I challenge any of my male readers to have managed the feat with as much goodwill and grace.
Such sure and steadfast courage is to be rewarded; I suggested "a sushi joint," and drove us off to Naked Tchopstix, which is "sushi" like a SuperTarget is the five and dime. Some nice white tuna sushi with all the trimmings and green tea to start and then...
He had the "spicy vegetable." Hot, still crunchy, in a nice light, hot sauce and with plenty of veggies, I counted at least six different goodies, from celery to mushrooms to broccoli to a number of things I do not know the names of, but they looked good. He spoke highly of it and I endeavored to steal a taste myself: very nice!
I asked for Bibimbap,**** which I'd had before; the menu claims it is:
"Seasoned vegetable and beef served on top of rice with sweet and hot sauce. Fried eggs on top optional." If you count wood-ear fungus as a vegetable and understand the singular noun to be referring to more different sorts of plant life than can be easily listed, sure, it's accurate. If "sweet and hot sauce" accurately conveys that it will make you sneer at your family-recipe barbecue sauce, sure, close enough... Waitress allowed as how that was okay but on a cold day, Dolsot Bibimbab might be even better, since it's the same thing, only served in a hot stone pot! In actual fact, the dish arrived sizzling. Loudly. In a stone bowl about a half-inch thick, large enough to hold an average cantaloupe and radiating forge-like heat. Lovely fried egg on top. Sauce on the side. "Pour it over and stir," she advised, "before the rice starts to stick! I can help..." I was a bit slow to catch on but ultimately followed directions. The menu advises their cuisine is "Korean, Japanese, Chinese " and I have always thought of it as a gloriously successfully Korean colonization of the other two nation's culinary best (and who could begrudge them so delicious a revenge?); I don't know where Dolsot Bibimbab hails from but sitting in the aromatic steam and radiating heat, shoveling in tasty bits of this and that over good rice in a fine sauce as fast as chopsticks could convey them, I became utterly certain it was from a region where they have Winters as chill as any here. That stuff's good. It's comfort food in every sense of term!
And there's a fine way to wind down a day: good food, good company, pleasant surroundings. Here's to friends -- and here's to waitresses who know what entree to suggest!
* A statement which may cause the historically-hip to inquire, "Galambosian?" Thank you, but no; in my youth I appreciated the occasional fine cigar but there comes time to put away such vices.
** So why doesn't a happenin' and modern-type gal of my state-of-the-art ilk do direct-deposit and all that other modern jazz? 'Cos, well, it's more real to me if I put my grubby little hands on it. If you've never been broke, you might not understand. Even if you have, you might not unless a fair number of your ancestors were Scots, too. Sheep, fooey, theirs is a lust for cash. Ooooo, money that clinks or folds. Oooooooo.
*** Which is how I know 'tis Carthage and not Alexandria, right?
**** Yes, two different spellings. NT's menu is...different. You move to Korea and compile a menu in the the local lingo and we'll see how well you do. Me, I just trust them to serve good food; I'm slowly working my way through the menu and appreciate how few people ever manage to be terse and vague at the same time!
L00k, Knew Content!
The cats are enjoying a morning romp and I'm enjoying having had a full night's sleep -- the past week was overflowing, between work (it gets snappish at the Skunk Works over the holidays and we're due a visit from some new brass), family and houseguest. Fun, too, as I'd been something of an anchoress for no short while.
This morning is busy yet. The bank's starting to forget what I look like! Later, I'm considering bucking the trend and becoming retrospeculative. Not in re this cloud-capt' blog, which is barely three months old, but my past year. It's been...exciting. In the sense of the proverbial (and perhaps fabulated) Chinese ill-wish that one "live in exciting times."
And on that dim promise I debark for the mirror and the washbasin -- my hair's become a tad uppity and needs a stern lecture!
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Stranger Than Real
The Mayan Calendar predicts civilization will end 17 February, 2009! Believe it or don't.
Incandescent lamps banned in 7 years; longest term of any elected Federal office, 6 years! Believe it or don't.
No Bigfoot reports in the American West while Fred Thompson campaigns West of the Mississippi! Believe it or don't.
Neither Ron Paul nor RuPaul will deny rumors the two are related! Believe it or don't.
No UFO reports whenever Dennis Kucinnich has both eyes fully closed! Believe it.
Happy Boxing Day!
Sure hope the boys weren't up to too much bad at the Skunk Works without adult supervision!
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Santa was here! Santa was here!
I'm an alpha geekette, thankyouverymuch. That means I c'n log on an' blog Christmas morn: it's a behavior typical of my species. (Does no one watch Wild Kingdom any more?) Now, if only the range was open, my holiday off would be complete. ::Sigh:: Have to settle for the movies instead. (She said, grinning).
Hope y'all got ever' thing y'wanted!
P.S.: Breda, the doll looks a little like this but even younger.... (And, to be perfectly fair, more tan. It's soooo unfair that Barbie and kin can get better tans than me or anyone I know!)
Monday, December 24, 2007
(I'm sittin' here killin' a very few while waiting out a half-hour see-if-it-fails on the replacement for last week's Vital Object that showed up broken. So far, so good. Oh, those Farnsworth Fusors! I hate tunin' a stardrive hot but sometimes there's no other way).
My family already did theirs, a fine time (hey, I gotta dolly! And some major B&N gift cardage), though somewhat shortened by my (neutered) tomcat, who, annoyed at my bustling about on a normally-quiet evening while preparing to depart, decided to demonstrate the meaning of "retromingent" on some boxes of books. No harm to the contents, just lost a few boxes -- and time I didn't have to spare. Oh, well.
And my very own Christmas in my very own house is still to come! ...I haven't owned a house in...gee. Never. So I'm lookin' forward! Still have to pick up something for the cats. Do they make feline Depends?
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Every time I see new coverage of the (yawn) Hollywould(and did) writer's strike, the striker's signs are. not. blank. They're scabbin'! From what I can read, they're not even scabbing competently, it's just the same ol'-same 'ol dull, boring "LU [number] On Strike" stuff. Sheesh.
You'd think, you know, writers an' all, if they were going to be blind to irony, they could at least come up with signage text that was snappy, incisive, maybe even cute, that would tend to raise the sympathy of the onlooker... .
But wait, it's the TV and film writers, isn't it?
It's a wonder they didn't do them in crayon.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
About Them Dim Bulbs Incongruous
I have not fuliminated about the Babysitter-Nation ban on Mr. Edison's incandescent lamp because once I pried myself out of Christmas blues* I've been in too good a mood to be vexilated but for the record: I plan to flaunt the ban. I'm gonna stockpile light bulbs. I'm gonna buy me some g-dd-mn CARBON-FILAMENT bulbs an' burn them, too.
Yep. Past the cut-off date, I'll still be screwin' 100-watters and 75s an' 60s inta' sockets, chortling like an ape with a new way to fling poo. I'll still be runnin' 40s and 25s in my nightlight and by golly, my Arts&Crafts lamps will have loopty-loop, tipped-teardrop carbons in 'em.
Come an' get me. If you dare.
(I've got a sawed-off hurricane lamp, too, an' I'm not afraid to use it!)
Weasels. Retromingent meddlers.
L. Neil Smith is right: when it comes right down to it, these pantywaists are afraid of our race's most basic energy technology: fire. Guns, cigarettes, internal-combustion engines, nuke plants, incandescent light bulbs, they're out to ban fire in any form they can find. --Good luck freezin' in the dark, damn you. I've got some rope to twist and a scaffold to build.
* My Dad was a Christmas baby. He would have been 80 this year; he almost made it. My life story's pretty easy to read between the lines but oh, how I miss him.
Here's Tae Us!
It really is true: we gather in small, like-minded groups with niftily Heisenbergian boundries. Follow your friends' links far enough and doors you never even knew were there will open up -- and you've still got your own familiar place and pals as a touchstone. Isn't that pretty much how humans are wired up anyway? The 'net simply makes establishing that group of connections easier and faster and enables the margins to reach ever farther. Gee, who'd'a thunk: when we built a communications network, we modeled our own social networks so well they started mapping right over to it.
I date back to (commercial-access) Usenet, even FidoNet (even used a PLATO terminal a time or two as a child) and they worked in a similar way; cruder, louder, less personal, but still on the same basic model.
Awhile back, I was riffin' on a Cyril Kornbluth short story, "Ms. Found In A Chinese Fortune Cookie," in which he hints at some wonderful and powerful secret in the way our minds work that could be of benefit to all, a secret known to a select few and one that lands the narrator in no end of trouble (it's a yarn worth reading, so I shan't spoil it). The late Mr. Kornbluth was bluffing but we might just be onto something as powerful, though safer to know.
Women Meteor Defenses
...I had done the Happy Dance first and I'm trying to remember if the last time I did one was about when we found out Jupiter was due for a shellacking.... Naw, can't be!
The greybeards set the odds at one in 75 but suspect better data will make a miss more likely. The bolide's about the size of the one that popped over Tunguska. A hit on Mars could be quite interesting -- and might help wake up our own Skywatch efforts for the planet where I keep all my stuff.
There are some darned big rocks out there, moving in orbits that intersect our Earth's. The evidence is good that a big hit is likely to result in an extinction-level event. If there was ever an argument for human presence in space, -- a massive, self-sustaining to the greatest possible extent human presence just as rapidly as we can manage it -- that's it. Our sun's something of an "attractive* nuisance," like a big backyard swimming pool in a bad neighborhood. A bodyguard and a life raft would be pretty good to maintain.
* Pun intended. Consequences?
Friday, December 21, 2007
(Looking at the nicknames I give people or they give themselves, my life is something of a webcomic. And that's not really a bad thing).
Free-IQTest.net IQ Tests
It's late in the day and I just found this buried in "junk mail." I'm going to wait until tomorrow to do the actual dance and in any event, You The Home Viewer are just gonna have to take the word for the deed.
He's too modest to admit it but the ever-chivalrous Data Viking offered me his test-results badge several days ago. 160-something!
--Later: Doc Strangegun and Breda also scored better on subsequent tries, which raises a question: I doubt any of us gave much conscious thought to the test between times but I wouldn't be at all surprised if the lazy 14-year-old who runs the filing system in the back of my mind* worried away at the questions that stumped me, since the answers fair lept to hand on a couple and I did the last half of the second test while on the phone with work. My first thought was that perhaps only our first try really counts but in that case, the thing's an "IQ and speed" test. If the raw cleverness-quotient is all that counts, it shouldn't count against you that it takes a handful of days to dredge up the right answer as long as you did it under your own steam!
No matter how you slice it, any IQ test is a limited tool at best. Life is a test of how clever and fast you are -- but also a test of your luck and often of how well you get along with others. It tends to sort by attractiveness and mental stability, too. If you can do well along any three of those axii, you're likely to do okay generally.
* She's actually a metaphor, but don't let on that I told you!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I'm Livin' In Your Monitor
In meatspace, I'm paralyzingly shy at first acquaintance, only too aware of my checkered past as a 19-year-old runaway, college drop-out, near-loss of amateur status anent alcohol consumption and so on and so forth, my teenaged-self image of being too tall, too plain, geekily unstylish and wearing eyeglasses thick as the bottoms of pop bottles looming over the actual reality of contact lenses and not looking, if I do say so, all that bad. If there's some task at hand -- fixing electronics, learning about anything from sewing to shooting, I'm fine. Otherwise, around new people I tend to say little and stay close to the walls and exits. Oh, I'm better now (I'm all growed up!) but get me far enough out my depth and I still sometimes mumble and fumble after words. Not a pretty thing. Small wonder the first few jobs of my misspent youth were ones in which the interaction was mostly one-way and very well-controlled, jobs where the feedback from customers was mostly positive. Put a keyboard in front of me and I have got words; add a screen and I'm only too happy to read what you've got to say; once I know you, I don't freeze up in RL when we meet, either.
So when Tam posted about the very personal connectedness of people on the 'net, it hit close to home. Carteach0's post and Dr. Helen's aided my understanding.
Times I've lost access, times I've had major e-mail issues, I've felt pretty lost. I have my books and my cats and they're very fine comfort but they're not people!
Without the human-scaled portions of teh.n3t, I'd hardly have a social life at all. So thanks for bein' there. Thanks for wanting to talk about your stuff so much you built a place where others could come chat, too! Um, don't go 'way, please? Okay?
I lever my eyes open and both cats are givin' me accusing looks, looks that ask, "Why do you make such annoying sounds?"
With dawning consciousness, realization hits. Ohfsckthepagerwhat'sgonewrongattheSkunkWorksnow?
"'Tisn't me, cats," I mutter, pushing back the covers, fumbling after my glasses and reaching for my purse. It takes two tries but I get the message to pop up:
RX CALL OPS. LOST CONTROL SAT DISHES NORTH CAMPUS.
Ratters. But that's an IS issue; the big satellite system at the (unstaffed) North Campus is run over DSL and has been ever since the old software died and vendor just snickered when we went for an update. (As if RS-232, 1200-Baud 4-wire control schemes were, I dunno, obsolete or somethin'!) So I call in and tell 'em, "Call IS, I can't fix this. They need to light a fire under Phone Company."
"The IS czar* is off all this week."
"Then call one of his minions. It's just a loss of connectivity, right?"
"Seems to be. We've got stuff incoming in an hour...!" (A note of irritation creeps into his voice. It mirrors my own so I can't complain).
I do repeat myself: "Call IS, we need to keep the pressure on Phone Company and they're our point of contact." (By explicit directive from the top, which I don't need to remind Ops about).
"Okay, but we have that feed..."
"I'll go up there, see what I can do. I can switch things over but you probably still won't have control."
Forty-five minutes later, I'm up at the North Campus pushing buttons and working on my Anglo-Saxon vocabulary, after a very odd drive (windshield-wiper-smeared gunk on the windshield and my astigmatism resulted in what looks like a single spear of light from every point source to the bottom center of my windshield, probably all thanks to a previous owner's failed RainX experiment that I have yet to completely remove. But for a few minutes there, I was feelin' very sympathetic to victims of schizophrenia). Once we were all set, just for fun I went to IS's little cubby and power-cycled the DSL modem.
Came right back up.
Worked fine when I checked with Ops.
Why is it my nickle-dime DSL connection at home is solid as a lump of Roman concrete, and the high-zoot pro version crashes and flickers and fails like cheap match on a windy patio? I sure do miss that ol' steam-driven 1200 Baud system!
Just to add to the fun, I was a half-hour too early to pick up breakfast pastry at the bakery on the way home, too. Oh, well, maybe another day.
* Not his real title -- he's a Satrap or Panjandrum or something, one of the keen-o titles they hand out in suit'n'tie land.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Happy news, the snow is melting. Is it Spring yet?
...Still reading Dean Ing. (His "Harve Rackham" yarns now. Oh, to have a cheetah and the room for it to run!) Some other authors in the queue. When were our book reports due?
Monday, December 17, 2007
Go Read This
Take a small-town peace officer, an EMT and an ER nurse. Just as a hypothetical, posit that each of them can write rings around the last twenty
Good. It's no dream! They're real.
A quick story of my own: my first real job was reading news nights and weekends at a one-horse radio station, a skinny geekette in thick glasses hiding behind a barely-steady contralto voice, flattering microphones and a knack for sight-reading copy. It was back before encrypted trunking public-safety radios, back when cellphones were a rarity that lived in purse-sized bags or awkward "handheld" cases. The newsroom scanners heard every word the sheriff's department, the city police, the various fire departments and the ambulance crews had to say on their radios. So I heard the middle of a lot of emergent events, the beginnings of several, and the endings of darned few. Unless it was a big event indeed, I never learned the whole story and when I did, it was the press-release version from a call to the relevant agency.
That's not what you are going to be getting.
Lawdog, Ambulance Driver and Babs RN are going to put you right in the moment. Go, read!
Sometimes I have the heart of an Objectivist (yes, yes, right here on the desk, in a highly-rational ceramic Klein bottle...). Altruisim's stupid. But if you have extra and you choose to share, that's beneficience. I doubt even dear Aunt Ayn would so very much Object to that.
The big-deal holidaze can be a rough time, especially the pair comin' up. Especially as the years roll on. Givin' gifts is often presented as some form of charity, as altruism but more often, there's an intangible quid pro quo: a feeling of connectedness. It can be a comfort to giver and receiver alike.
* Yeah, sometimes I talk like that. Cope.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
My co-worker at the Skunk Works, Fear-De-Lance* sent me a webpointer to SF writer Cordwainer Smith, which in turn sent me to Planet Karen. It's a kewl place!
* Also known as the Atomic Vanguard Ferret, though rarely to his face. These are all puns on his name and/or hobbies and not his personality, thank goodness.
Nor am I the only one; my next-door neighbor shoveled her drive and alley section first. We crossed paths when I decided to run the snowblower as far up and down the front walk as the cord would allow. --She was happy to swap some salt for having her front walk cleared, a winning trade all 'round!
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I'd complain but there are a few zillion people from Okalahoma to the Northeast who'll point out others have already had it worse. Still, there's a fair chance some time this afternoon I'd be happy to meet a Yeti, zombie or not, though I still draw the line at lettin' 'em carry sci-fi weapons.
Yeah. Like that. Don't let him loose near a metaphor!
Friday, December 14, 2007
I Blame Ayn Rand For This
Whatever; it's not really her fault but as an example of "How Not...," this is so egregious that I am minded to extend to the author that blamelessness we accord imbeciles. 9 December, writing on the front page of our local
Umm, dude, that's a degree of respect best not accorded in a family publication, 'kay? Do editors even bother to read this stuff any more? Or are they, like the rest of us, mostly using the paper to line the bottoms of birdcages?
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Concealed Carry: Me And My Sidearm
People new to the idea of carrying a firearm for self-defense deserve good information. I'll put my 2.46x10^-5* of an oz Au in, but first, Matt G has plenty to say, all of it good, and links to even more.
I carry whenever I can. It's a big responsibility and one I did not take on lightly. Though requirements for what my State calls a "Permit To Carry Handgun" are not onerous (no precluding factors, around $25 in money orders, and a trip to police HQ to get printed and do the paperwork), I had already taken taken a basic handgun class and shot a few thousand rounds before applying for it. I'd also thought long and hard about hangin' a thunderbolt on my hip.
I've been stalked. I've been held up at gunpoint twice; the second time, the miscreant fired a shot, miffed that I ran away and threw my bag of groceries at him when he caught up. (He missed. I wet myself anyway). While I dislike sending anyone to an early exit, I'm certainly not going to take one myself for their sake; I happen to like keeping my paycheck and credit cards in my own possession and I take a dim view of being attacked by deranged men, no matter how pure their lust. I will stop 'em. I'll weep for their Mothers later. I won't weep for them; they chose their own path.
If you're thinking about carrying, think it through. If you can't use that shiny object when you must, it's worse than useless.
If you're carrying, practice! If you can't use your sidearm well, it's nearly useless and may even endanger the innocent.
What should you carry, how should you carry it? Depends. The laws of your State or city may restrict what you may carry and how you may carry it -- find out. (Don't make assumptions -- the rules in wild'n'wooly Texas require one to carry concealed without fail, while long-civilized Virginia allows open carry without any sort of permit!) Something too large, too heavy, too awkward: don't fool yourself; if it's a real bother, you'll stop bothering with it. Many gun ranges offer rentals -- ask for suggestions about carry guns, rent them, take them to the firing line and find out. Investigate holsters and other systems designed for concealed carry; the shoulder holster of Hollywood fame is one of the least easy.
The short version is, "learn, learn, learn." Not just with your eyes and your mind, find out with your hands. Train your reflexes, so you never touch the trigger unless you're ready to fire, so you never point until you are sure of your target, so the most automatic actions you make with a firearm are safe ones. As you train, so you will react. You'll shoot plenty, you'll learn that practicing at the shooting range; it's fun to line up on a bullseye and make a hole right where you wanted it and it's more difficult than TV shows make it appear. Make sure you also learn how to handle your weapon in the time between drawing and firing. Make sure you learn how to handle it when you're not on the firing line.
When trouble comes -- and it comes but rarely; it may never come your way -- you will be your own (and civilization's, but you won't notice at the time) first line of defense. Running away and screaming rarely stops malefactors and calling 9-1-1 ( If you have the chance: "Hold it right there, Mr. Armed Robber! I must place a telephone call!") won't stop a bad guy right now. If you are armed and trained, you will have the best chance to make a difference.
It beats running away and throwing a bag of groceries at them. Alas, it won't make you any braver. ...That's actually a good thing; if an awareness of the responsibility that comes with carrying a sidearm makes you think twice about dangerous places and iffy situations, that's all the better for you.
(Plain facts: I carry small semi-automatics, aluminum-framed, in .380, 9mm or .45 ACP. All of them are very similar, so I don't have to remember different actions for each gun. They suit me. I don't know if they'll suit you. I bought them all used; this can be quite a savings but please have the gun checked out by a reputable gunsmith if you're buying a used one! Like cars, there are some lemons out there).
* Sign corrected per Dr. Strangegun. Though I set uncommonly high value on my own opinions, there's a limit to even my self-appreciation!
...So I thought, "How Humbling Could It Be?"
My blog is worth $7,903.56.
How much is your blog worth?
Now if I could just find someone whose blog was worth $2K and had a car worth $7.9K and trade!
PS: Yes, I managed to escape, met a real cool guy named "Cyril" who has The Answer but I'm not tellin' nobody, fat lot of good it did him! Adventures included crossing the border stark naked, packed into a small suitcase. I didn't really have to do that but it seemed like so much fun! (Kinda not. But now I know).
Found In A Fortune Cookie
"Pls post 2 my blog, info on back: dr rdrs, I'm sri nw for my joke abt intel org. They have odd snse of humor, I hv bin trapped at cookie fact. last 20 hrs, thk I can esc. today. Msgs in last doz. cookies give details. Stole pen f/guard. No net.access hr! Back soon. Yrs, RX"
I'm almost sure it is some kind of a hoax.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Okay, that was good: the logic and bravery that as long as the bad guy can't really whup you, it's okay to beat him up. I was all set to snark about it.
Then it got better: Our Friends In The Old Countries suddenly remembered the Yew-Natted States does not have a stellar rep for intel sneakiness and began to wonder aloud if maybe, just maybe, Iran is fixin' to build war-type nukes in the basement after all.
Thing is, they've got a point -- our sooper-seckrit spookiest of all agency (there is No Such Agency, okay?) has, for pity's sake, a museum with a cute little gift shoppe right across the street from their big, menacing no-you-don't-even-look-directly-at-it headquarters. Most of the big intelligence triumphs the US pulled off during the Cold War (remember that? Don'cha just miss those palmy daze?) owed more to the ethics of the Boy Scouts than those of Machiavelli. Traditionally, we just don't do "sneaky-tricky" all that well.
...So I can see the EU spymasters, serene in their sophistication, saying, "Well, if the States say it's all tickety-boo in Iran, then it cannot possibly be true."
So here's the fifty-Euro question: Our guys aren't always sure which wine to order with doughnuts, but they're not actually dim; could they, might they have come smilin' out, wavin' the "All Clear" notes, in order to get that reaction for our nominal Western allies and pals?
Darnedifino. I'm about six "They know that we don't know that they know..." deep and I'm no longer sure of anything. Man, I'll bet if I could type, there'd be a heck of a future awaitin' me in some basement under a black-budget buildin' in Maryland.
...One way or another.
Oooo, lookit! Official "there is no mug here" coffee mugs! Kewl.
Hit the "spellcheck" icon and for just a second, smoke poured out of Blogger. Um, oops.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Yeah, Yeah, Whatever
Free-IQTest.net - Free I.Q. Test Online
(Watch the fine print on this thing -- they ask for a lot of info you don't need to give them).
Link found at The Expert Witness. Thanks, JPG!
I've commented on these things before but in case you missed it, all they test is your skill at taking tests!
--But wait, there's more! That "genius" tag? It's meaningless, at least in the sense that most people think of "genius." Nils Bohr, Bowie, Salvador Dali or Raymond Scott, those folks are geniuses, no matter what they score on some test. People who manage to get IQ test scores that plot pretty far over to the right on the bell-shaped curve of test results are probably better at solving crossword puzzles than Joe Average in the middle -- but they're still not that much more likely to write Space Oddity or paint "The Madonna of Port Lligat." Sorr-eee. Maybe next life I can invent transdimensional spacewarps. Or you can, if you've got the time.
I'm still workin' on remembering to use the spellchecker.
For the record, I wasn't very happy with where the movie took the story; not just the killin' off main characters (and everyone they ever knew in the TV series, oh yes the man did) part, but appearing to drop the "Blue Sun" connections in favor of a simplistic "Eeeeeeevilll Gummint" background. Well, fine; governments are all evil, despite the best of 'em being less evil than anything else our species has tried. For story-telling purposes, complicated evil is way more interesting than simple evil.
That said, it's still the best movin'-pictures SF ever, especially the television series. Kirk's a mewling kitten compared to Mal. (And just for fun I might add he could whup R-- P---, too, except I don't want to start the debate).
Nice! This (IMO) is an unusual topic and angle for pop music: fulfillable longing and contentment. (Back to that whole notion of Western Civilization being a majorly fine idea -- and some of the core Victorian values, like fidelity, not being quite so trite as the Boomers liked to believe).
Matt G's original post went in a very different direction to his original intent and fascinatingly so. I'm headed over there now!
* As in, starting in the 1950s. The secretive Mr. Scott is one of the unsung heros of electronic music, in part because he made a good living from producing sounds no one else could duplicate. If he'd shared the details of his inventions, he'd've lost his competitive advantage.
Friday, December 07, 2007
A Weturn To The Gwory
The Guest and I, after a perfectly delightful breakfast (I humbly admit), headed off to what is still one of the bestest things in town: the Roman exhibit at the Art Museum.
Even second time around, even with Philistines whispering*, the impact is not lessened. There's something about being right-the-dickens-there, the wonderful objects and the faces and bodies of the past just as close as your coffee cup, that cannot be conveyed in any other way. And to see it once again with another friend who has a working knowledge of the Republic and Empire that greatly exceeds my own makes it all the better! ...I'd go on and on but I've already enthused about this collection. It's a marvel!
(Here's a tip: Cultivate intelligent, well-read friends; if you do nothing else to improve your mind, you'll still end up way ahead of folks who stand around gossiping about the celeb of the moment or the horrawful thing that Joe at the barbershop did at Bubba-Sue's wedding.** What, you knew that already? Then why didn't you tell me long ago?)
Another marvel on this visit was a scattering of "uniformed" teens from some school, their preppy attire distinct but hardly military, each with his or her artist's pad and producing very fine pencil sketches of the various pieces in the exhibit. One young man with the look of an athlete stumbled a bit as he stood from a tailor's squat before a large candelabrum. "Sorry, I sat too long," he grinned to the adults and his classmates, his well-rendered drawing flashing for a moment as he made his apologies. Y'know, the Western Civilization thing, it's really a pretty good idea.
We were able to take a few extra minutes to watch a conservator at work on a priceless 16th-Century painting, and none of this "through glass," stuff, either; there's a string on posts to remind you to stay out of the way and a nice young man to answer the questions you'd best not be bothering the conservator with, but that's all that's between you and all that history and skill. If you wait long enough, the conservator herself is pleased to speak with visitors during her breaks. --Now that's how you get folks connected to Art!
The entire museum, always a gem, has become a lot more playful since the most recent renovation: the collections form a maze with sightlines varying as you walk, distant and interesting things appearing, being hidden and reappearing as you get closer. There's no telling what will be around the next corner; before you know it, you're deep into the labyrinth and the only minotaur who haunts it is your own delight.
Time's remorseless and we were fair famished, so 'twas back to my neighborhood and Yats: "Cajun. Creole. Crazy." Two people can eat like royalty and get change back from a couple of sawbucks. Chili-Cheese Etoufee, Ropa Veijia, the good rice, crisp garlic bread, exotic soft drinks and coffee as good as anything they pour in Naw'lins -- I should go back for seconds! Okay, you do eat like royalty with overly-familiar servants; when I walk in, whoever's behind the counter sings out, "Hi, RX! Here or to go?" I like that! Yats has streamlined the process of ordering: you belly up to the counter, have a look at the blackboard to see what's in the kitchen tonight, name your pleasure and pay. By the time you sit down, there's a young man with a smile and steaming plates of goodness waiting for you.
Alas, after dinner it was time for The Guest to pack up and head out. "All good things...." 'tis said. And today was definitely good!
* Best one: looking at a marvelously carved stone sarcophagus, girlfriend to boyfriend in serious, dimwitted awe: "Isn't it uh-mazing how they could start at one end and do each section and finish at the other end without running over or leaving space?" D'ya know how darned difficult it is to not snicker when you're trading OMG-she-means-it looks with your traveling companion?
** Bubba-Sue is the generic double-wide ijit; when sufficiently frustrated by such persons in traffic, I have been known to improvise lyrics about her to the tune of Buddy Holly's Peggy Sue. This is terribly unfair and yet ever so much nicer than simply ramming them while cackling with demented glee. Umm, not that there's, like, anything wrong with being two axe-handles wide and twice as solid through the skull.
SNOWMAGEDDON II: This time, it's more!
We did, however, get more snow, a brightish grey day perfect for what I did today and are now receiving the beneficience of sleet. This is scheduled to turn to rain, followed by warm, which should begin to clear up that whole Zombiated Yeti thing, as they keel over from heat stroke and their brain leeches crawl off into the gutters to be hunted down by brave troupers of the Free People's Liberation Army and Escargot-Festival, stalwart worthies armed with salt shakers and pails of garlic butter....
(Note to self: no more chili-fortified olives right before bedtime).
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Masque Of The White Death
--But there's more crispy Winter goodness on the way. The weathercritters have been happily lamenting our impending doom. Does my heart good to see them so filled with innocent joy; they're like a small boy with a magnifier finding ants on a sunny day.
Y'know, the more I look at that title, the more I wonder about just what sort of fiction Edgar Rice Poe might have turned out. "The Ape-man and the Pedulum?" "The Tell-Tale Thoat?" "A Princess of Usher?" And they think snowfall is scary!
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
...Or so you'd think to have watched the tube last night -- any of the local channels, including the one where I hang my head.
Pleased to say that now that the snow is here, the on-air panic level is zero and my team, at least, is doing a good job covering what would be a routine snowfall if it didn't happen to be the Winter's first.
The TV business loves snow: it's an easy story to cover and everyone's interested. Love us or hate us, you will watch us (or visit our website), if for no other reason than to find out what's been cancelled.
It's a hoot at the studios. Those of us who (probably) won't be out in the stuff all day have come up with an increasingly-silly series of titles for the disproportionate sense of determination, not to mention sheer sturm und drang that settles over the place as any significant snowfall looms.
There's one benefit: we often get a catered meal, to help the crews stay fueled up and keep the rest of us close to the barn. It's snarkily referred to as "The Feast Of The Snowocalypse," of course.
...I, for one, welcome our Zombified Yeti Snowverlords!
Monday, December 03, 2007
'Tis The Season
--H'mmm, iron the guest towels with or without starch? Oh dear oh dear!
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Yeah, right. ...As Harry Ugol famously wrote,* "You're not the only one." Reading original lettercols at The 86th Floor fansite, there are a couple of letters from girls in just about every issue of the pulp!** We might not've been the target demographic but it sure looks as if good ol' Lester Dent (who invented the characters and wrote the majority of the yarns) wrote fine tales of derring-do that appeal to anyone with a yen for vicarious adventure, even using a trite plot*** and characters who prefigure the better comic book stars.
* Under circumstances far different to where I first saw Ugol's Law cited. Once I did the research (it's spelt "G-O-O-G-L-E"), I could see why it is not more widely known. He seems to have invented a general natural-law-of-teh-n3t despite himself; Harry's natural habitat was the "alt.sex" section of Usenet. And the best roses grow in lion dung. Go figure.
** Which those of us who read the Bantam paperback reprints didn't get to see. :(
***Yes, there seems to be just the one. The fun's in seeing how he spins it. A fair case could be made for the entire series forming an unintentional "metanovel" about an emotionally-suppressed ubermensch coming to terms with his feelings, forming deep friendships and learning the fultility of altruism but there's a point at which it gets too deep to even try wading through. This stuff is chewing gum for your brain.
Last weekend, I raked up ten huge heaps of crunchy brown/grey/gold leaves, ran out of daylight and left them. The week that followed was, of course, windy. And a bit rainy, so yesterday, I had ten medium-sized piles of leaves with damp centers and a nicely(?) leaf-carpeted lawn.
...I now have five medium-sized piles of leaves and a cleared front yard. The side yard and back yard remain. (Yes, I am a miracle of personal industry and efficiency). I've also got a nice set of sore shoulder muscles, some very annoyed squirrels (who knew it was their lawn and their leaves?) and a fine collection of bagged leaves.
Alas, no open burning here in the city (don't miss the fire hazard but the scent of the smoke, that's a sad loss), so I relearned the ancient art of squishing leaves in the manner of traditional wine-making. I'm not sure which is more odd: climbing in a trashcan and dancing about, or the 8-to-1 reduction in volume that results!
The trees are all bare now; Broadripple is in Winter dress, grey and severe, trees witchy against the cloudy sky. Holiday lights stand out all the more against such a backdrop, pushing back at the dark.
That's us; that's civilization: a few colorful lights, brave against the night.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Gotta go rake leaves, laters!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
The Nurse Dilemma and Parenthood
"We need universal health care," she said, "Like all the other civilized countries."
I made polite noises and lifted an eyebrow quizzically; I don't enjoy arguments. I did point out that government health care doesn't work so very well, to which she responded, "They pay a set amount per procedure, no matter the outcome! And they keep reducing the things they do cover."
She noticed the implied contradiction; she's no fool.
In further conversation, it came out that it tears her up to not be able to help; to send kids back to homes without power, without proper care, without parents who can or will do what it takes to care for them.
The easy, bumper-sticker libertarian question is, how much of my tax money do you want to mitigate your angst? Yeah, simple, neat, isn't it. I'm not asking it.
Here's a more difficult question: neo-natal nursing is high-stress work. The pay's decent money but they're not getting rich. What they are doing is working through tears, working with gut-churning emotional conflict, keeping little vegetables alive while Mums and Daddy dither, putting in endless hours with babies who will make it but whose parents never show up until the day the baby is sent home. They try to save the baby the rich teen-ager gave birth to on the toilet and left there, the baby whose new grandmother, on calling 911 and being told what to do, replied, "I'm not reaching in there after that." They work with utter-jerk surgeons, nasty cold men people hate, unfeeling guys who, on hearing the baby they worked on for eight hours has died after a struggle, drive in from an hour away, walk right to the NICU, tenderly lift the tiny corpse from the nurse's arms, look down and say softly, "We tried, buddy, we tried," hand the baby back and stride savagely out of the hospital, never making eye contact with another human being.
So the question is: what's it worth to keep these people from burning out?
I don't have an answer.
Maybe we're better off leaving the decision to bean-counters -- just as long as we don't run out of nurses who'll take on the job.
One thing we'd better do is get better at prevention. A significant proportion of the babies that end up in NICUs are born to drug-addicted mothers, to mothers who were malnourished, to teenagers who denied and hid their pregnancy. There's no law that'll stop that, no government program that can fix it but it can be slowed, one mother at a time. To the extent any of us can personally lend a hand to help on an individual basis, we should. And for pity's sake, we've got to try to change the trend of people seeing children, their own children, as an inconvenience.
Margaret Sanger, a figure both admired and loathed (and with good reason for both opinions), often stated her goal as trying to "ensure every child was a wanted child." So put, it's a good goal and one that can be just as easily done by helping (even glorifying) parents as by preventing pregnancies or worse yet, terminating them; and since all three are options available in a free society, there's probably at least one of them you can lend a hand to. (Not to pile yet another soapbox on the heap but it usually does more good and more directly affects individuals in a positive way to work for a positive goal. It's a lot easier to get people to try a new thing than to stop them doing something they're already doing).
Politics can be fun but bumper-sticker politics is full of pitfalls. There's no digging out of most of them from an ivory tower or even a blog; if we want a better, more free society, if we hope to roll back the growth of Mommy/Daddy Government, it's up to us to roll up our sleeves, pick up a shovel and use it to dig a path out rather than slinging mud. Sure, you're just one person; maybe you'll only ever be able to help one other person. But you'll have made that much change.
Wave signs, get on the evening news -- or help a scared and lonely girl? Which one will you look back on with the most pride?
Which one will help keep nurses -- nurses whose help we may someday need for our own families -- from burning out?
Which one will do the most to slow the demand for socialized medical care?
[It seems I have been a bit unclear. I'm not talking about "charity," I'm talking about doing what you can, within your own ethical framework, to push the younger critters within your easy reach a bit closer towards civilized behavior anent reproduction. This is rife with self-interest: if we end up with a huge bunch of barbarians and their preventably-hard-started offspring, it's going to make our "golden years" a lot less nice than they'd otherwise be and in a huge number of ways. Among other considerations, I'd as soon not be having to shoot the worst of them on a weekly basis when I'm greyhaired and rocking on the porch. Hollowpoints are expensive! YMMV.]
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The Result Of Our Efforts
Pretty cool, hey? Of course, my view of most of it was under that console (sans operator, thankyouverymuch), badly lit by glaring worklights, stuck to the carpet-tile glue, fishing around in the computer floor and wiring up various and sundy things. There are times when being the most limber and agile of the techies is not exactly beer and Skittles (nasty-sounding combination, IMO). I'd put up a photograph of that part of the work but A) it's ugly even once it's all neat and tidy and B) the man there is running a TV station or three; it is considered rude to joggle his elbow.
It will be even kewler once it's finished; there's another row of displays below the big three in the background, plus some more flashy lights'n'stuff. A lot of it even has a function, too!
Face it: I work aboard a starship! Or about as close as I'm likely to get this time around, anyway. "Phasers on 'irk mildly' and full warp ahead!"
Monday, November 26, 2007
If this is your sort of thing, you'll find it addictive. Remember, read a little at a time and be sure to stop to catch your breath.
...And if you start to get a bit puffed up, know this: the host is a linguist and he has links to sites that track equally silly misuses on the other side of the looking glass!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Speaking of Uncles
(Thanks to Matt G, who posted a link to the website when writing about a recent, wonderful essay by Marko. I didn't link to Marko's article at the time, thinking my readers would have already found it, but if you haven't, you should).
With that novel as a backdrop, I stopped by Carteach0's other blog this morning to find this news item.
I'm reminded Mr. Ing has written a how-to book, as well: The Chernobyl Syndrome It's a survival handbook. Despite the title, he covers everything from camping to child-rearing; but it's the sections on dealing with fallout, improvising air filters and pumps, and similar topics that I'll be reading again. If you don't have a copy of this book, take a look at the reviews and consider adding it to your library
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Everyone Else Did It!
|What American accent do you have? |
Your Result: The Midland
"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have
|The Inland North|
|What American accent do you have?|
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz
* Though the lemmings really didn't.
Despite my geekery and arts'n'craftiness -- yes, I do own a table saw and a brace of routers -- I'm plenty girly, floral bedspread strewn with sleeping housecats and plush-toy animals* and so-almost-stereotypically on. But I've always been bothered by pink guns.
Maybe it was the Barbie-bubblegum-pink polymer full-sized EAA Witness that showed up at a local gunshow, looking like a steer in a tutu; it was pretty jarring to encounter without warning! Too, it's always seemed to me that a self-defense tool should be obviously what it is, if it is to have any deterrent effect. I'm all for shootin' the bad guys (don't bother to draw unless you are intending to do so) but life's simpler if they up and run.
Tam has her own take on the topic. Incisive as ever and obvious only after she's pointed it out.
Oleg Volk sums it up, neatly.
* Per the Data Viking: "At Customs, calling them 'stuffed animals' leads to an interesting conversation." I keep havin' a mental image of J. Random Guy being pulled out of the line after so doing; his bags are opened and a big violet teddy bear falls out. "And just where," asks the aggrieved servant-of-the-people, "did you shoot that?" Betting there are no extra points awarded if you answer by pointing at the
Everything's Up To Date In Noo Yawk City?
Yes: the Edison system of power delivery lived on in NYC right into the 21st Century; this is the system that was so flawed that Westinghouse and Tesla had it pretty well spanked before the 20th Cent. got parked!
"New York, New York, it's a town of a hell/The juice is wrong and there's quite a strong smell...."
Friday, November 23, 2007
Heller, Amicus, Academics for the Second Amendment
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I Can Has Inevitability...
Look, if you're using this version, please don't tell me.
They all breathe, too. Should you stop 'cos of that?
I am actually, as happens, thankful; and I am thankful to find myself feeling that way, as I passed many years waking up every morning and thinking, "Oh, rats, I woke up again." Now I wake and think, "Goldfish, ten cent piece, let's go!"*
This morning, I woke to purring, looked over and there were my two cats, father and daughter, aged 18 and 17, curled up on the pillow next to mine, happy as can be. I'm thankful they're still here and still happy.
I'm thankful for friends old and new, for the ones I know in real life, the ones I know online and the ones I've met only through their books. Data Viking, Tam, Robert H., Turk, C. Jay, Handsome Dave, Todd the Believer, The Shaggy Guy (ha! Thought I wouldn't put the Latin and your photo together, dija, C?), Breda, D. Martyn, that Kim dude, Jeff, Jeff, the purple-haired folksinger, Carter of M.A.R.S, Hal West, Bob and Matt and everyone listed over there in the blogroll, Spider, Jax/Julie and all the rest of you, including the Canadian Critic: I'm glad we met. I like hearing/reading what you've got to say.
For what's left of my family and the support we give one another, I am thankful. We've reached the age where new faces outnumber the old ones, more so with every year; and yet in the new are the echoes of those who went before, a better memorial than any stone.
I'm thankful for my work. It's frustrating, sometimes scary and we operate under immense pressure. Wouldn't trade it for the world.
I'm thankful to have been born in a country where the citizens are deeply skeptical of their government and have considerable power to affect it. I hope to do what I can to keep that trend going. --Yes, the States have problems; but we're a seething pool of solutions, too, and have the liberty to try 'em out.
Mostly, I'm thankful to still be here. We all live in a very thin region of a very small planet in a very large universe. Our lives are less likely than starlight, as fragile as soap bubbles, tiny. Yet every day, we go out there and push back at entropy; every day, we seek our joy. We've done right well for ambitious pond scum or Divinely-sparked clay; we've done right well.
Pondering the enormousness of the Universe, I'm thankful -- I'm filled with wonder! -- that I'm pondering at all. That there's any me or you to be a-pondering.
It is full of stars.
* You got that, right? Carp. Dime. Unh.... Oh, Pete's sake. Yes, it's that weak.
Dialtone Brain/My Christmas List
'Cos see, geekgrrls didn't used to be kewl. Now we are! Yayyyy!
Debating posting my semi-facetous holiday giftage list, both for me an' others. For sure at the top of mine is an affordable motorcycle of medium size, something in the conventional to cruiser range of styles, as I'm a traditional gal. But so far one has not fallen out of the trees, drippin' with chromium plating. This may indicate an atomic-powered airship is right out of the question at any price. And havin' the Republicans run an actual Republican for the '08 Leader Of The Free World Contest...? Santa? Santa, please don't cry!
May have to get back to y'all on this.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
King, 1; Commie Autocrat, 0; People, hugely more!
Why is it commies have no manners? And why (oh, thank you, whatever $DEITY decided this) do they get so steamed when you laugh at them?
Welcome to the future, chubby!
Monday, November 19, 2007
Me, I'm pragmatic but there's something awry with my humor. I don't name guns. Nope, nohow, never.
Well, hardly ever. I did name one.
It's a Ballester-Molina. The Argentine who owned it appears to have used it to pound tent stakes in rocky soil. In the rain. Nicely balanced and the local gunsmith did his best but it's still a little bit of a jammomatic except with the one magazine it trusts. It's been ill-used.
It's named "Tatiana."
The Viking had mentioned it but I'd breezed past: the museum grounds open early but the museum itself doesn't wake until noon! He likes the grounds and extensive gardens (so do I!) and had planned a nice stroll.
There's a reason for the 'nym I've given him: he's blond, sturdy, innovative, cheerfully bloody-minded and built to conserve heat. I'm not a Viking. I am, oh how difficult to admit, vain: I'd worn a light hoody instead of a bulky coat. It was chilly. (And yes, DV's supremely good at crafting software that sits up and begs, or making other people's software do so, or making it play nice with hardware -- scary hardware, in some instances Reardon-scary if'n y'know what I'm Shruggin' at. That's the "Data" part).
...But clever people are prepared: "I've an Army jacket in my trunk," quoth he, "it'll fit you about twice!". So we spent 90 minutes, me warm as warm, finding the old interurban path through the grounds (impressive river-rock walls and a fine Late-Victorian iron bridge above it), admiring huge elephant-trees, fountains, bravely green and still-growing plants of vast variety, fatly insolent squirrels, the original well house along the canal, vistas from the back terrace of Oldfields and then back up to the old gates leading to the recently envastened Museum Of Art.
Art they've got and in profusion, free for the looking; but the Roman art on loan from the Louvre takes intensive looking-after and costs to see. Someone's got to pay the guards and guides, and it's the people who want to see the stuff who do so. Isn't that how it's supposed to work?
What a sight it is! I'd never been so close to original mosaic floors, the tesserae still vibrant after centuries; looking so new and polished that guards kept having to remind patrons not to touch, please, as all that comes between you and the elevated, angled, cleverly-indicated scenes is your own good sense, which some appeared to have left at home. You may look as closely as you like and I did. Television and photographs don't do justice.
Even more amazing were the statues. As close as you'd stand at a bus stop, they're real: muscles, veins and tendons under the skin, knucklebones of a hand seemingly frozen in mid-movement, the texture of the marble imitating skin and a toga's cloth. I had no real idea of the skill of this work from textbook photographs. Imagine the effect on a late Middle Ages/Early Renaissance artist, seeing work of such quality, as surviving Roman work began to be more closely examined and sought out! It is stunning, with the impact of color television or moving pictures.
With the statuary right out among the audience, it is possible to look the Emperors in the eye and an education to do so. --Augustus looks worried in every depiction, a decent-seeming man deeply bothered by his responsibilities. Caligula, charming at first sight head-on, grows cunning and dissolute as you walk around to see his face in profile. And young Nero is as self-satisfied a little snot as can be imagined! --Most of the Julio-Claudians are a weak-chinned lot, the stamp of idle wealth cruel in their expressions. These were supposed to be flattering portrayals, too. Another bust caught my eye from a distance and I walked towards it, a young man in Egyptian headdress, movie-star handsome, really-seriously handsome, lunchy, just almost too -- Oh. Well of course. Patly of course: Antinous. Hadrian's boyfriend.
The exhibit included sections of trompe-l'œil wall decoration. Photos of this work often look crude and garish. In person, it's another matter. The technique is similar to Impressionism: up close, fuzzy; from six feet away, it looks real as your perception fills in the detail and sharpens the lines.
This exhibit was particularly enjoyable to see with the Data Viking. His eye catches what mine misses, he knows things I've not encountered and is happy to share them. Many men are a bit shy of Art; he's a confident fellow who grasps that knowledge always beats ignorance.
While the touring exhibit is not especially large, it is overwhelming nevertheless. I do not think I had really grasped the height of Rome's achievements until seeing these things with my own eyes. VR, books, visual media, they're good for many things but there's a level of understanding that, at least so far, one only manages though experience in real life.
Sometimes you do have to be there.