Thursday, January 31, 2008
Last evening, I was reading the novel Hope, from Aaron Zellman and L. Neil Smith, which features a libbytarian Hero of the sort we never see (Barry Goldwater notwithstanding) and it occurred to me to wonder why not. The answer's simple: freedom types tend to be self-actualized and internally validated. We don't respond well to Great Leaders and rarely become them ourselves. Political candidates, on the other hand, crave external validation. It's part of what drives them.
...That explains why Fred dropped out and why he never seemed all that interested in the race: he would have liked the job but he didn't need it and all the attention and stroking that comes with running for it in the way that his competitors in both parties do. And it explains why the LP struggles election cycle after cycle to come up with a Presidential candidate and gives birth instead to mice and/or engaging fringe types.
Of course, it also explains why it is I have driven several bosses into boiling rages when they have asked me what time I plan to end my day and I have innocently replied, "When I'm done." It was a surprise to me yesterday to look at my big ol' starship-engineer wristwatch and realize it was the 30th already!
1. Don't be jealous, o admiring (hah!) minions (hahah!). I'm not his type; he likes 'em blonde, smallish and highly decorative in addition to not being stupid.
2. Or frobnosticating. It's old technoid slang and highly self-deprecating in this context, bein' the lowest form of technological manipulation, beneath "tweak" and "twiddle"
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
The good news: it's not the RF final we fixed last week. That one was back on and at full power along about 0300 Saturday ayem (a time when mere mortals must sleep! Or should, anyway). When a different one of the three took unplanned leave Friday evening, we unshipped the 32 Volt/180 Ampere (!) power supply assembly (a heavy lapful of loose parts and wire harness) from the one that had failed and stuffed it into the previously-failed one, which needed, as nearly as could be determined, only that, and cello , it came up and ran like a champ!
The bad news is, that meant we now had a stardrive with two known problems and probably another; and that's what I've head my head stuck in since Monday.
We're not going to make Rigel 4 in time for the Pork Festival. Which may be a good thing. (Check two posts back).
In Other News: back in the
I cannot await the dawn and thus must bid thee adieu. Or as the French say(?), "happy snails!"
* "AMORC" 'cos we gotta get the lights and power back on, see?
1. Or is that "viola?" Some kinda string instrument.
2. Also shoulders, both arms, upper body, etc.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
(Seriously, I look more like the painting than the actual model. Even more seriously, how are they maintaining the helmet's pressure integrity around a ponytail? This could be important to the cuter spacechix like Tam and me. I'm afraid it may be a clip-on).
The news-ish version is here and here. Kewl stuff!
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Umm... Oh, yes, I deliberately gamed the quiz. My real score is the same as Breda's, 59%. So, really, only the lean ones who are carrying maybe a little garlic or some rosemary should worry.
Gosh, I'm simply vile today. Had another "stardrive" failure last evening; ate, depressurized, went back in about eleven. Worked most of the night and managed to make one good one out of two bad ones, so now we have one majorly malfed device that'll have to be troubleshot from Square Zero. And I'm behind on sleep and housekeeping. Yay.
Mr. Thompson neatly solved that one for me (umm, gee, thanks?), but I'm still a bit iffy on the other fellow; a vote for him would at least put a mild thrill of fear into the Stupid wing of the Party Of Treason . I was even, for awhile, giving thought to registering Evil wing/Party Of Treason this time and voting for Kucinnich, who while being quite evil indeed and of the worst, I-know-what's-best-for-you-ignernt-masses sort, at least seems to be having a little darned fun with it, but he chickened out, too.
Okayfine. Kevin has the perfect candidate:
The happiest day of my life is gonna be when that vast and indescribably hideous, sticky-green, tentacle-faced form stumbles and shudders down Pennsylvania Avenue leaving a trail of powerfully acidic slime and a smell that will shrivel men's minds and souls, squelches up to the platform and eats the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the outgoing Chief Executive and everyone else within reach of those long, rubbery arms and flabby claws. 
DC's already a city of unnatural angles found in no Earthly geometry and architectural abominations constructed to no human purpose or scale. The dead and dreaming dread god will feel at home there as if he was settling down upon his ceremonial bier in sunken R'lyeh. After a month or two and a million deaths or so, shoggoths will seem as familiar on the streets as city buses. And by then Cthulhu will have eaten most of the Islamic terrorists and washed 'em down with crude oil steaming-fresh from the well. It'll be a whole new age -- at least for those among the survivors who are quick to adapt.
It'll be a new lease on life, too, for most of the Congresscritters and the Veep, in the most literal manner -- and the publically-visible parts of them will still look mostly human. Well, at least as much as they do now.
Cthulhu fhtagn! Cthulhu fhtagn! Cthulhu fhtagn!
Might as well.
1. You call 'em whatever you want but in my world, we have the Stupid and Evil wings of the Party Of Treason, which works to undermine the Constitution and Bill of Rights while increasing the power of central government and which has controlled this country at least since the Whigs were put down, and then the "other parties:" Klingons (good but ignored) and the Fire-Loathers (evil and not ignored enough). I usually vote Klingon in the real elections and have been known to vote Stupid/Party of Treason in the beauty pageants in a vain attempt to aim their tiny little pointy heads at the light of reason.
2. Readers do understand that this is the "vote for the weakest candidate of party you least like in the primary" trick, right?
3. Basic concept taken from Lewis Black, though his suggestion was to elect Ronald Reagan's corpse to the office. Compared to what's on the table, not an unappealing idea.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Started just as planned and we even bypassed the Seriously Big Voltage Regulator with no actual pantswetting.
Did the warming-up thing, staged so that the three RF Cabinets would not all come up at once. Left the recently-repaired one for last 'cos, well, just 'cos it puts us back underway with the "sure thing" coming online first.
At last it's time, BEAM ON. Step one, Thunk...tic-tic-tick...Snap! Step two complete and we're...at...fulll...? --Holy howlin' heck! Lookit the output meter wiggle! Plus and minus five percent? Erratic? Hey! They're not supposed to do that! STANDBY. H'mm. Not back to normal temp? Try again... Same result. And once more for luck, a longer run, watching as the variation becomes ever more erratic, noting a few other readings, like the grid drive, doing the same thing. H'mm. The driver amp?
Nope, an half-hour later, it's one of the two high-current DC supplies that run the driver amp; and an hour after that, it's for sure that supply and not the primary power or control logic.
Which means, in layman's terms, "The thing is not fixed yet." Turns out they don't make that kind any more, either; there's a whole little kit to install, with two new DC supplies, which can be ours for a price that would buy an okay used car.
So we move onto another item to repair on the stardrive, opening up the box marked "RF processor, QTY 1," and find instead a C and Ku-band digital receiver. Que? Ansible. Factory: "We sent you a what? Oh, so you're the ones who got that. And you need a...? Okay, heh heh heh, sorreee, we'll courier that out to you overnight."
Okay, fine, plenty more to do, the dual redundant system that connects the Control Room to the Drive compartment has been unhappy and there's a spare to install for that, too... One that turns out to be a slightly different model that -- after another call to a different factory -- needs a few extra parts to actually do the things we need it to do. Apologies. Promises of rapid delivery.
And so on, for an entire day. Oh, the glamor just never ever runs out, does it?
1. Just Barely Faster Than Light. Which, as it turns out, is plenty fast enough. Sure, it violates causality, but it does so like Daylight Savings Time, by making causality a tiny bit more inflexible everywhere else. And there's a minimum power level required, not proportional to mass until a certain, middlin' large amount of mass is reached. --This is utter fiction, of course, but I'm thinking seriously of adding another blog for this sort of thing, called "I Work Aboard A Starship." It's about 10 miles long and three wide at the widest point, with the stardrives way out in front at the end of the long boom and the control room (and most of the rest of the ship) at the far end.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
So, there we were, Handsome Dave an' me, stepping our way through Using The Stardrive's 36kV Supply To Locate Its Own Problems. It should be cut'n'dried but somehow it never is. There was, of course, one step not in the manual, and the part it would test was something that just should not be a problem, a thing very overbuilt for the task. And every step takes forty minutes or more. You have to talk about what you're going to do before you get into the very noisy compartment (Hearing Protection Required For Your Safety) where the stardrive is mounted and before that, you have to figure out what it is you'll be doing; there are mandatory cool-down and warm-up times and so on.
Step by slow step, we approached this one item; and when we got there, lo! Oh, the shock and wonderment! Scarcely a mark on it, yet-- It had failed!
Briefly, there was much rejoicing. Then... Well, you don't stock parts unlikely to fail, do you? H'mmm. Oh, but wait; we'd upgraded every part of the original stardrive except the phantasmajectrode and its so-called "trolley" back in '01 and I had, over the objections of Wiser Heads, removed every part small enough to lift and stashed them away in the structure. Could it be?
Twenty minutes later, it seemed like maybe not, and then I lifted away a very nearly complete Hydrogen Thyratron Crowbar assembly out of a nest of plastic packing, the sharpest-lookin' (but one of the least vain) tech-d00d in the biz reached into the packing to see if any interesting things had fallen off, and put his hand directly on the exact component we needed. The factory techs had called it the "dynamite stick" and it does look like a fat stick of TNT. (It's a custom high-voltage part).
We went back to the stardrive compartment, I wriggled my way into the crowded, awkward innards of the device (poking away at all the high-voltage-while-operating spots with a shorting hook, 'cos all live stuff is always live until tested, in the exact same way all guns are loaded all the time) , unhooked and dismounted the old part (nice little side-trip into "oh, that's a metric fastener, then?"), got the new one all in, clicked the large (and ever so fragile, easy, easy...) isolation resistor back into its brackets, eeled back out, disconnected the shorting hook, we reinstalled the cover plates with most of the proper bolts, kicked all the breakers back on, flipped the big earthing switch, engaged the smaller "isolation" switch that pins it in place and enables everything but the 36kV, went around to the front and started the ten-minute warm-up cycle.
...A dozen minutes later, the "READY" light came on, my erstwhile peer hit the "BEAM" button and our hours of step-by-tedious step were rewarded when the high voltage came up, step one, and a couple ticks later later, the second step kicked in and it was back at full beam voltage... Hoo--
--ray? Click-THUD! The "BIAS OK" led on the status panel goes out and the 'drive shuts all the way back down to "PREHEAT" Won't even go back to "STANDBY" until we kick it to "OFF," at which point we can start over from scratch and it proceeds exactly as before, right up to the point where it shuts itself off. Third try for luck and...same thing. Went back to the workshop, called the factory, hit the books while waiting to hear back, and found nothing at all to explain this behavior. When the factory called us back, they agreed. "Never heard of that," said the tech, "and I've seen about everything these gadgets can do wrong." Ummm, thanks?
Tried a number of things and ran out of time. No joy. But hey, the high voltage does come up; it wasn't doing that at all before! Progress must have been made.
The next day, a bold plan: We'd lie to the status circuit; with the phantasmajectrode out of the circuit (and it had been from the moment high voltage troubleshooting began), there was no need of the bias-checking thingamabob. So we tried it. No dice. BEAM ON. Handsome Dave says "Flame on!" (I flinch and plead, "Pleeeze don't put it that way." He grins ever so slightly). Count about three and..."BIAS OK" goes out ("But it can't go out!" "It just did. Fourth time.") Rats.
Found and cleaned some suspicious-looking spots on the circuit board. Maybe...?
This takes us to lunchtime. Came back from lunch determined.to.recheck.everything.and found, about three hours in, one (1) tiny difference between this particular model and the other two stardrives in the main drive array. Rechecked. Looks wrong.
Made the change, restarted. Success! Now it's back to step-by-step and each step is 40 minutes but each one works!
Ah? Ah-aaaah! I've been holdin' out on you. Since even before all this happened, there has been another problem, this one in the serious bigtime primary power regulator that provides the juice for the stardrives, and the factory that made it seemed to not be answering their ansible. Until we get it either A) happy or B) bypassed, we can't run all three 'drives at the same time. We can't bypass it hot; we have to power down the entire drive array and if we are extremely lucky, it will take a minimum of 30 minuted to accomplish it and get the drive back on.
So of course we call the bridge and of course the Captain says, "Go black? At this time? D'you realize how many complaints we're going to get? The disruption?"
...It's about the end of another day anyway, so we schedule a better time and knock off. All that work and we're still not at full power! I think we're not gonna be at tau Ceti in time for lunch, kids.
So, how was your day?
1. Hey, does it not sound a zillion times niftier than "Inductive Output Tube?" It does.
2. You're not gonna believe me when I admit that's the real name of the device and subassembly, are you? But it is. And it handles atomic-physics-lab energy levels for a very short time when it's triggered, too.
3. As in, "Oh, that's a metric fastener?" "Earthing" = "grounding." Our stardrives were designed in the UK and built in the US using parts from all over. Most of the fasteners are SAE but the tuned cavities and support assembly for the phantasmajectrode and a few other special items still bolt up British.
4. If it wasn't for the ansible, working on these things would be way worse!
Happy Birthday, John Moses Browning, and thanks for all the guns!
Happy Birthday, Tamara S&W K!*
Please, go out and shoot a target or a tasty food animal or at least a tin can or a varmit, to show that you care.
(For my part, I've been shooting trouble since Sunday!)
* "Smith & Wesson" may not actually be her middle name but you should see her grin when ya say it is.
It all started Sunday, interrupting a fine day of attic-insulation with the Data Viking. So it's still chillier than I'd like in here (though less than it was) and DV had to stare over my shoulder for a couple of hours while I tried things that didn't solve the problem.
Three days later, we've found one thing that was a definite show-stopper but others remain. And each step takes an extra 30 - 40 minutes 'cos the "stardrive" has to cool down, access covers have to be unbolted, one does $WHATEVER, reassembles, and there's a 10-minute warm-up cycle. Are we havin' fun yet?
Meanwhile, Tam tells us the stock market's tanking. Cheerleaders keep claimin' the States have now got an "information economy" as opposed to making, oh, cars, water heaters and kitchen tables, or growin' tasty comestibles. Well, fine, as long as all the plates we like to call Global Civilization are spinnin' and balanced atop the poles, that does generate a lotta bucks but you know what's the real problem with it? When the plates fall, "information" is something you can't eat, drink or sleep in, on, under or with. You can't smoke it and it won't dance with you. It's...nothing. When the barbarians are at the gate, you cannot scare 'em off with software or algebra or ray-tracing. Even Archimedes, the original mad-scientist-with-a-ray-gun, had to have physical artifacts to put his cleverness to use.
So good luck, "information economy." Ghu, steady the hands of those who spin and balance the plates; 'cos it'll stink on ice if it all falls down. Gonna be mighty cold sleepin' on a park bench under a downy layer of information.
Oh, and the next nattering nitwit who tells me about the "free market" here in the States gets to write "Feds Step In, Stabilize Falling Market" on his own forehead 500 times with a fine ballpoint. "Managed" does not equal "free." Idiot.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
You have to wonder -- was a serious coat of dust keeping the gaps plugged for the previous owner? It's not impossible, some of the worst leaks are where I replaced the floor of the room I use as an office and had vacuumed very carefully around the sills when we had the old floor out.
At least I found it. I was starting to think I'd gone poikothermic.
I'm gettin' along with Blogger fine, but I'm not all that ambitious: bright colors and okay fonts and I'm happy.
First, the question:
"What's the safest .45 for concealed carry?"
Next, the stunning answer:
The one you are familiar with, have trained with, can and will carry each and every day and are prepared to use when the need arises. It would be the one you do not play with or treat casually. It would be the .45 that you keep your lunch hook off the bang switch of until you are intending to shoot. It would be the .45 the muzzle of which you do not allow to cover anything you're not okay with putting a hole at least a half-inch in diameter through. It would be the .45 that's in your hand when you are sure of your target and what's behind it. It would be the .45 you keep out of the reach of irresponsible children -- and train your responsible children to operate properly, safely and only under adult supervision, okay?
Like the apocryphal Russian Army sergeant said, "Is gun. Is not safe." No weapon is inherently safe. That's your job.
My carry .45's a Star model PD. It's small, light, torque-y and has Star's usual arrangement for their 1911-looking letter-series models, a "safety" that locks the hammer, with the control lever in the usual 1911 position operating in the usual way. The primary safety device for this gun, as for all guns, would be the operator's limited good sense. How's yours?
Friday, January 18, 2008
A messed-up week, though, including a split shift followed by a quick turnaround, which allowed me to change of the frame of the delightful and highly critical digital television device over which I have been fretting, the end result being, so far, made of win! Plus I made myself a perfectly marvelous breakfast during the quick turnaround.
The HDTV thingie is of a degree of complexity and dullness you would not want to hear, plus it's Big Media Company Secret Skunk Works Stuff, so I wouldn't anyway. Ahh, but the breakfast...! That's another story.
Start with about four strips of peppered bacon (if they don't stock this in your markets, you are Beyond The Borders Of Civilization; buy some bacon and apply about three pinches of coarse black pepper). Cut 'em in half and fry crisp (but not burned! Just barely crisp, okay?) in a large skillet or wok (best). While they are frying up, take a
When the bacon is done, set it aside on some paper toweling to drain. You should have "about enough" grease in the pan, enough to cover the bottom but not deep. Pour off as needed but keep it handy, in case. Pour carefully -- all the really good stuff is down at the bottom.
Toss in the mushrooms and fry, turning as need be. You can add a shake of Cajun seasoning if you'd like. (It's good!) While this is going on, take two or three eggs (two if you buy Jumbos*, three otherwise) and stir them up well in a small container using a fork or chopstick.
When the mushrooms are not quite done, push them to the outer edges of the skillet or wok, turn up the heat, pour in the eggs and scramble them like the Furies, using a chopstick (or fork, if you don't have to worry about scratching the pan -- but chopsticks work better). You'll have to pick your own level of done-ness for the eggs, preferences vary.
Once the eggs suit you, take the skillet or wok off the heat, crumble the bacon in, and stir it up well.
Serve as is (should serve two people or one if she's hungry enough). Refinements include topping with chopped fresh chives, cheese and/or hot sauce (try Cholula or Vietnamese "Rooster" sauce).
It'll get you through a long day!
* I keep trying to hatch the extra ones 'cos it would be chou-kawaii to hatch out a baby elephant but it never happens. It's sooooo unfair!!!
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Snarky Bites did a nice one
Breda's is made of win!
Go have a look!
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Other than that, work, work: went 'round and round with The Phone Company about some video issues, fretted more over the thingie I was fretting over last week, had a disturbing report from the North Campus and finished up some odds and ends...and came home to a decent book (Elizabeth Moon) and a fine dinner of
So I'm not complaining. At least the snow mostly melted and tomorrow should be warmish (40!). Way colder by the weekend, wouldn't you know.
Like they're skidding
Rain to ice, now it's glist'ning
Don't want to know
If it's turned to snow
Looks like it is Winter in the land..."
Rained and snowed overnight. Snowed this morning. Stopped while I worked. Started up again prior to my drive home, came down pretty well while I bought dinner, stopped so I could sweep the walks (cold enough that it's powder, at least), then started up again. I haven't looked for awhile, iis it.... Nope. Whew! Just colder'n, ahem, than it should be.
And on that note, dear friends, I shall check the dryer (warm nightgown, oooooo!), flip the quilt back and turn in. "Turn down, turn in, doze off." Right?
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Sunday remained and we were off to the big gun show! This was interesting -- I'm pretty much a handgunner and DV...well, he likes rifles. He knows rifles pretty well, too, though he points out that it's been years. So we made interesting and varied progress, parting and catching up as out interests pulled us hither and yon!
We're in agreement on a number of things, like Para's Warthog is a bit too much a handful despite looking kewl, and while semi-auto adaptations of big machine guns are superneat they are just not really the Thing Of Choice for a zombie apocolypticycle and are expensive to feed, to boot.
I saw a Colt Combat Commander, shiny-plated and with modest engraving rather than the Baroque floridity usually seen and really liked it. Oh, some day? Said Hi to Famous SF Writer (also blogger and all-round okay guy with a wonderful family and so on) M. Z. Williamson, wandered on to look at a pair of marvelous Broomhandle Mausers and then a nice fellow showed me a very convenient sort of pocket knife; which is when I discovered I had brought no checks with me, none at all. Nevertheless, a very full and busy day.
...And not yet done. After all that, good ol' DV helped me put up new insulation in the bare spots of my semi-finished attic! That's been wanting done for a long while and should help lots with the heat bills. I still need to do the end walls but the roof was just about impossible to attempt alone. Well, the hard parts are done now -- Thanks, DV! You're the best!
He's on the road home in the snow and sleet.
And it's past my bedtime now, early though it is.
I'm thinkin' some kind of lite jazz. Hey, maybe Brazilian?!
Saturday, January 12, 2008
I wouldn't know. Smoking cigarettes took me almost as much effort to start as it did fifteen years later to stop and I had the advantages(?) of youth, incipient juvenile delinquency and having grown up around smokers.
The effect of any such drug is as nothing, a sigh in a windstorm, compared to impact of the wondrous world Terry Pratchett has created!
It took about six pages into one (1) book (Going Postal) and I was aitch-oh-oh-kay-ee-dee addicted.
If you haven't read any of the Discworld books, you've missed one of the finer treats. Cross Cyril Kornbluth's take on fantasy with Heinlein's politics and toss in a generous spoonful of "Monty Python" and "Red Dwarf" and you're starting to approximate it. What I've read so far (One Entire Book, With Blurbs) would have been right at home in the long-gone and much-missed fantasy mag Unknown but would have outshone anything ever printed in it, up to and perhaps including "Magic, Inc."*
My thanks to the many friends who recommended this author!
* A citation from memory that took fifteen minutes to verify, including an enjoyable digression into a magazine article about RAH's self-designed home in Colorado Springs. Alas, I've yet to see one as complete about his circular house in Bonny Doon, CA, which is instantly familiar as a smaller version of Jubal Harshaw's home in Stranger In A Strange Land.
Friday, January 11, 2008
No, I'm enjoying (?) a spot of bother with Digital Television. Cross the dependability of Windows with the user-friendliness of Unix and throw in the physical reliability of a 15-year-old PC, and you're close to the the device with which I am wrestling.
So far, it's ahead, two falls for two.
Can't touch it right now so I am borrowing a few minutes.
I'm saving up for a really big sledgehammer. Want in?
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
I may have to go back and get a better photo. Here, it seems to be a disenframed portal, floating magically vertical in the darkness; it's actually up against a tree and in daylight, looks as if it might be a door in. --You knock, I read about wood sprites as a child and I am not gonna bother one!
I'll point out that's a main line sounder and Vibroplex's very latest bug, with the factory's own Vari-Speed, too. While the Royal mill does happen to be second-hand, it has their very newest "fingertip-friendly" keycap. "Not modern." Foo!
On a related note, I became disconcertingly amused at the Skunk Works yesterday when the phrase, "I'm as happy as a chimp eating a brand-new telephone" occurred to me. In my defense (and that of fans of Magrite and Dali everywhere), it had been a long day and we'd found several examples of how we keep buying books and buying books and they just keep eating the covers.
* Named after the family grant of arms, which features a "naturally-colored rose on an argent field." Lancaster or York? You've got me there. Oooo, is that a touch-tone? Pass the salt!
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
(Per Mom: "We looked and looked for one with your hair color!" They don't make that kind; hair the color of enamelled copper wire has never been all that popular. Meanwhile, blondes continue to claim to have more fun. Wanna bet?)
I'm keeping this one away from the cats, they tend to become jealous.
* Sold here. I am merely a satisified customer and receive no remuneration.
Monday, January 07, 2008
First showed up when The Great Property Tax Debacle throttled to full shakedown, just after my first house payment. Mine went from "I can manage this" to "I'm not going to buy any new toys for a long, long time -- and how 'bout that ramen?"
We did get a shiny new mayor and a mostly-new City-County Council out of the deal but it was the State government that "fixed" the real-estate tax assessment methodology. Their ride in the tumbrels won't be for awhile yet. I do so very much hope folks stay irked!
...On the general notion of house payments, I have about made my mind up to look for a boarder of good moral character and compatible interests. Sorry, gents, no boys -- People Would Talk (plus, I'm still gettin' over the last one). Liable to take awhile to even locate suitable candidates but it would make it a lot easier to stay ahead while waiting for my property tax exemptions (for living in my own house and having a mortgage) to take effect.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
(Thanks to the handsome and courageous Turk Turon for the link!)
Are you doing the right thing? Please don't tell me. My dreams are quite vivid enough already. (Actually true, last night I dreamed I was punched in the nose -- for cause! Wow, and it was something I'd never have said in that context, either)
Whatever. I like visitors; I adore my friends and it's fun to go and to do. But though I wouldn't miss that for all the world, I have a very keen appreciation of keeping my own company and weathering my own tempers.
Woke this morning in a fairly foul mood: you wake to find a cat has yakked on your quilt for the third day -- and third quilt -- in a row. And yet, until I brush up against the world in the form of my alarm clock going off long after I am vertical or my grrrdammit cellphone once again tripping into "camera" mode from the lightest of touches on the ill-located shutter button, I have only the slightest awareness of my own irritability. Unbothered, with my book, coffee and oatmeal ready to hand, I'm as a serene as a mandarin contemplating the jewel in the lotus. I like my own company. I enjoy being able to spend the whole morning in a robe doing simple household chores, pausing to read when it suits me.
I've had way too much experience with loneliness to discount the virtues of friendship but I'm finding great comfort in having time to myself, too. I don't have to simulate a good (or at least civil) mood. I can mutter, "Howlin' ijts," or far, far worse at the toob when it goes off to wake me and say bad words about the various trivial obnoxii that characterize a weekend mornin' here in the shirker's paradise without being drawn into a bogus discussion of "what's wrong." Nothin's wrong; I'm unwinding.
One of the worst effects the do-gooder Left has had on civil discourse is the damfool notion that there's something wrong with being a bit of a curmudgeon from time to time; we're all expected to reflect the spaced-out bliss of a minor starlet (made up, coiffed and dressed to the nines in artificial materials and synthetic fabrics) expressing her deep love'n'respect for The Earth on an afternoon chat show and if we can't or won't, we're supposed to trot off to have our square heads hammered into the Socially Approved round hole. Well, forget that. Gruff and annoyed behavior was once the prerogative of adults and it still should be. In that tiny part of the world I run, it is. Some mornings, I am the great mother of all dogs and if poked at, I will growl.
It doesn't mean I am discontented. I rather doubt my ire will outlast the dawn but it's mine and I'm gonna enjoy it all by myself!
1. He's ill. I know what the problem is and he's being treated. It does not make dealing with the effects any nicer and neither does his choice of, "Look, Ma, I'm sick," locations.
2. I don't care how cheap or easy it is do do, I don't want a g-dd-mn camera in my telephone. Try and buy one without; all of the cheap ones have A) no way to turn the stupid thing off and B) a shutter button in an easily-bumped place. I'm about ready to open up the phone and yank the sonuva' right out.
3. Is it wrong that this sounds like a euphemism to me? Sheesh, dude, get a date!
4. I'm often stinting myself on sleep, which makes for a real battle to wake up. The television goes off first, followed ten minutes later by the cellphone, followed by the bedside alarm clock ten minutes after that, followed by the cellphone twice, one almost the same time as the clock and the next fifteen minutes later. Some mornings even that is barely enough, especially late in a week of several short nights. Clever? No.
5. I made it up but if ever there was a word that deserved to be, that's it.
Friday, January 04, 2008
Still to come, the year-plus retrospective. It's been a busy year; I've got a lot of ground to cover. Three cars, knee surgery, a major death in the family, buying a house-- Not to mention starting the blog and meeting many new friends!
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
What am I thinking here? H'mmm, maybe: "Do they hunt those giant shrimp with guns? Ooo, wouldn't it be embarrassing if some fisherman got attacked by the giant shrimp? Is that a camera? Look where? Ooops, hahahahahaha."
Oh, Champagne, where is thy -- ow! Oh, there it is.
Tough, I had a great time. Carrie Nation bedarned.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
I would like to give you an honest report on the size of the shrimp in Morton's* but A) you would not believe me even if I'd not just admitted to havin' a wee dram and B) apparently they've hired an agent, who must approve all detailed mention. My dining companion suggested the creatures each had their own ZIP code. And unlike the usual over-fed suburbanite crustacea, these beasts were by no means devoid of taste. Yum!
And that was just the appetizer. The remainder of the trip to 2008's threshold was buoyed upon a chopped salad (the usual stuff but diced fine and with plenty of pickled artichoke), asparagus that had been crept up upon by tiny folk with blowtorches and given just enough heat to lock the flavor, and delightful slabs of beef from cattle that had been slaughtered painlessly in the middle of happy, happy dreams and prepared by cheerful butchers and dazzlingly upbeat chefs. ...Who thoughtfully tucked a little Bearnaise sauce on the side to help maintain the mood. I'm not sure I can mention molten-center double-chocolate cake ala mode with hot fresh coffee without a dreadfully jaded note of crazed lust creeping into my tone even before I get round to describing the dusting of confectioner's sugar and ripe berries that topped the creation.... Oh! Oh! (Be right back, I just have to swoon quickly.... Ahhhhhh).
I'd not wrung in the New Year by wringing out every last bit of enjoyment from a good meal in a nice establishment with convivial companionship for many years; it was very nearly overwhelming, no matter how ordinary it may sound to readers.
Rolled outta bed right at the crack of...10:30!?!? One of those mornings where I first see the clock about eight, think OMG-I-am-late, realize it's a day off, resolve to arise nevertheless, stop to plan my day and suddenly it's 8:45. Repeat process until the cats decide they've had enough and begin patting my face: "Laaaa-deee? Wake up, lady... We neeeeed yooooo, lady. You have the can-opening thumbs, lady... Hey! Lady!" After awhile, feather-touches become the lightest of pinpricks and my guilt sharper still, so much so that as soon as I'm shod** and on my feet, cat-feeding immediately follows.
And so here I am, expressing the hope your own celebrations were as enjoyable and wishing you and yours the very best 2008. Sure, it's like cheering when the odometer ticks over a nice round number but so what: these man-made markers and rituals are how we add more meaning to our lives. They're part of what differentiates us from the ants!
* If I'd had a better idea of how like a good basement speakeasy the place was, I'd'a marcelled my hair an' worn a flapper dress! They do a right fine job of it, too, with a maitre'd of nearly military bearing and a delightfully exotic stock of drinkables. Or has the vast vat of pressed pineapple soaking into vodka become a staple of the American bar?
** Bare-minimum sandals with serious soles, Tevas maybe? I'd wear 'em most of the time if I could: it's like having wings on my feet! Not always the best choice and banned at work by virtue of having open toes, ::sigh::. Y'know, I almost think those boys are bent or something, they're pretty cynical about safety in other ways.