Sunday, May 31, 2009
"Is your neighbor getting a lot more cards and letters than you? Day after day, is their box bulging while yours is...unfulfilled? Take Placebon! Soon, you'll enjoy larger and wider correspondence. More sensitive and exciting, too, with longer-lasting, multi-page letters...."
Or that's what it sounded like. And all this time I have been under the impression that "mail enhancement" was postcards with hyperlinks. What wonders will Science bring us next? TV is so much better with the pictures off, especially late at night.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
But it's the other kind of "Supremes" getting all the headlines these days. I haven't mentioned it -- you are on th' Intarwebz, after all, with Google an' such -- but I have not been too impressed with the fuss. Either she's got the chops to do the job or not; she's one vote of nine, the guy she may replace wasn't especially a friend to my rights (or yours either) and thus it's pretty much a wash.
She's not the first "Latin" (a term kinda like lumping everyone in or from the U.S., Canada and St. Pierre and Miquelon into one big bag an' callin' em, what, "Frankish") to get close to the high court; Benjamin Cardozo would be that fellow, and he made it, too. In 2005, there was a lot of chatter that President Bush had Hispanic ('nuther too-broad buzzword) candidates on the short list for the Court.
I sure wish someone would point out the part of the Constitution that calls for ethnic representation on the Supreme Court. Is there some minimum percentage and if so, I'm one unofficial Cherokee wonderin': how come Native Americans never had a Justice all their very own? My family's dim claim to tribal membership lapsed long ago but folks in a better position that way have raised the question, too.
It's all just darn silly. Either a Justice is a competent legal mind or not; they all go a bit rogue once it dawns on 'em that they're the last appeal and well-nigh impossible to fire, at which point we start getting a pretty darn good look at what they really think and even a glimpse at how they support it.
Time will tell. Is she kinda scary for a gunnie like me? You betcha! But that's based on her legal opinions, not her ancestry and culture. You know, actual qualifications, like we're supposed to be looking at when deciding if someone can do a job, instead of their race, accent, religion or culture.
I'm thinking with enough of the old films and some mad editing/effects skilz, it would be so do-able.
And so very messed-up.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Dang. Y'can't accuse 'em of thinking small, at least.
PS: A. Links fixed, thanks!
B. Here's the main shut-off point.
A couple of items really made it pop: I added a generous amount of fennel seed to the taters/mushrooms as they were sizzling in the bacon fat. This added an almost-curry edge without the sweetness. The diced chilies went in as soon as the eggs were scrambled, the meat had been added back and the wok was off the fire. Yowza! They're not hot-hot, just a bit of an edge. With crisp-crunchy veggies and fresh leeks (cooked some in with the potatoes, it's good both ways) on top, it was quite a treat.
Wash that down with good hot coffee and you're ready to face the day.
I spent my breakfast watching a Soyuz dock with the International Space Station (didja know they just get the air pressure "close enough," under 100 millibars (!) difference, and pop the hatch by undogging it and giving it a good, hard yank? For true!), which is pretty kewl anytime and even better with good eats. The full crew, first six-person crew aboard ISS (other than short supply/crew swap missions) ever, assembled for congrats from the various Space Agencies* in the Russian-built messroom, which, bless 'em, is not white or some sappy cool neutral like most of the station but a moderately sunny yellow, laid out much like the similar section of Mir. And why not? I'm all for sticking what what we know worked.
* Canada, the EU, Japan, Russia and the US all have spacemen aboard ISS. The international plumber rule applies bigtime: they're all in the same line of work and have a lot more in common with one another than with the politcos and bureaucrats on the ground. Well, plus it's kind of a long walk back home....
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Better, too -- 48 years after first launch and over fifty since the first stardrive equipped spacecraft, designers and engineers have something of a clue about designing for safety.
It started innocently enough. Most of the day watch in Engineering had spent the morning installing a new control/comms/telemetry link for the remotely-operated work drones, this part of it being pulling in new cables for RF and positioning control.
Nice clean hard work, no? --No. The finest, filthiest dust builds up even in well-sealed conduit and, if you're not lucky, condensation does, too. We were not lucky this time and to add to the fun, the combination was enlivened by the remains of decade-old wire-pulling lube. Everything people do creates dust, which settles in out of the way corners, even on a starship. Especially on a starship, no matter how good the air system filtering is. And you can't just open a conduit up to the vacuum, people notice. So, every bit of old cable we pulled out was coated in nasty slime, charcoal-gray muck that smelled worse than it looked, looked absolutely awful, and made getting a firm grip on the wires nearly impossible.
The impossible, we finish shortly after lunch. In this case, we'd put off lunch until we were done and had cleaned up, eaten and were hangin' around the shop discussing he next step when the ship gave a distinctly bad-feeling lurch, everything rattled and the intercom came to life:
"Bobbi? Dave? Jay? Steve in Control. We just lost main power to the 'Drive. Backup came up okay but I dunno what happened."
I reached over and flipped the toggle. "On it. I'll call up Power." Proceeded to do so, to be told by a bored watchstander that A) Nothing was showing tripped B) Nothing was logged as having glitched recently C) They had no crews working on that circuit (Midships Primary, TR-17; not that I would have it memorized or anything) D) Why was I wasting their time, anyway? Meantime, Jay called up the camera in the drive room. Nothing -- blank screen.
Walked back to the Chief's cramped office-ette to tell him. He looked over his monitor and frowned. "I've overheard enough already -- get to the Drive compartment." We idle the Drive most of the time; at low level, it reduces the effective realspace mass of the ship and makes the whole constant-acceleration "artificial gravity" trick a lot simpler and more efficient. Plus it's finicky to restart from stone cold. So any odd problem is A Problem, not to be shrugged off.
Off I went. Twenty minutes later I'm at the aft end of the Lupine, looking at...normal operation. Except status panel for the big transfer switch matrix is lit up red, on Portside CT-2 and the normal branch is flagged off, all three phases. Looks like no power to me, you'd thunk the Power Room would notice? Electrical is a maze of sealed compartments opening off corridors to port and starboard of the main Drive room, with the main and third backup feeds to starboard; opened that hatch to find a nice red light over the transformer access for our normal power source...and a faint hint of smoke in the air. Uh-oh.
Trotted down to the panel and it was way too hot. And bulging. Crap. It could get very dead in here--
Fire suppression, as I have mentioned before, is just about free where I work -- as free as the vacuum we have in plentiful supply. I flipped up the safety cover and slapped the big DUMP button, to be rewarded by the clack of valves opening, a short hiss as the seals reseated and a disturbing series of thumps from behind the no longer bulging panel.
Dump air, get noticed; the hardwire phone panel a few feet away lit up, beeped and our emergency center (yet another branch of E&PP) came on with, "Extinguisher activated, what's your emergency?"
A quick chat with what amounts to our version of a 911 operator later, I'd been conferenced with the Power watchstander's boss and electricians and firemen were on their way! E &PP's fire/spill/leak crew was first, looked at the situation and said SOP was (as I knew) to watch it and wait for the electricians.
Fifteen minutes later, they were on the scene; with the FSL techs, they repressurized the transformer and popped the access: a black-on-black sculpture, nothin' but soot; and that's just the low-voltage side (480 VAC, three phases, "low voltage," I laugh). Next panel in, primary side, 13700 Volts, and one of the four connections is, oh how does one put it nicely? Melted in two. There are signs of a flaming arc: pitted tracks on the metal, melted plastic bits, an annoying whistling leaking kind of sound....
It was at that point that FSL started opening their kits, chased me out and dogged the corridor hatch; one of the electricians followed and headed on out to get to the next disconnection point upstream. By the time he got back, the leak was cleared (debris in two sections of the three-section safety-first air-dump valve-- and section three, um, not actually sealing) and the other electrician was pronouncing the transformer a total loss. I called up the Chief, who said he was on his way (this is like getting Nero Wolfe out of his apartment: it happens, but darned rarely) and fielded a call from Dr. Schmid right after; once he had the story, he said he was headed aft, too. This serious and mysterious a failure gets plenty of attention! Despite which, there wasn't much for me to do but watch, so I checked out the camera that should have given us a view from the shop: dead. Power-cycled it and it came up okay. Low bidder, count on it.
More electricians had arrived already and were rearranging vehicles to clear their cargo crawler, already en route with a new transformer. That took no little time and kept me busy, too. New transformer and the Chief showed up one right after the other. While he was quizzing me on the present stat of affairs, the electricians rolled out the old transformer, bagged and on a heavy-duty dolly I didn't remember seeing anyone unload (turns out it's part of the device). Their lead guy came over to us, shaking his head. "HV wiring's shot. We're going to have to pull in new from the disconnects, about two hundred meters. I've got 'em readying replacements now, should be on the way in a couple of hours."
...Two hours later, no wires. Dr. Schmid had come and gone. It was an hour past my usual end of shift. The Chief and I were sitting at the workbench, the electricians were sitting waiting on their supplies and FSL had departed, convinced no further excitement was in store for them. The Chief looked over at me. "I'm going to call in Andy from the Second Watch; he can keep an eye on this while you get some sleep and head back in on sked tomorrow."
I was disinclined to argue. I got.
Next morning, I called down to DQ when I awoke. Still on backup power! The op told me, "Andy says they're almost done. Maybe another couple of hours yet."
...Sixteen hours (and one retransfer lurch) after the initial loss of power, we were back on the normal power feed and the Power gang had departed, leaving only a series of sooty smears on the deck and a few stray handprints on the bulkheads. See? This is how we end up with nasty grime in the conduits!
Never a dull moment. E&PP has the dump valve scheduled for replacement, too. Rust never sleeps and out here, it's got a lot of little helpers.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Steam's not gone (ask the guys at the coal or nuke power plant!), it's only waiting. Just in case. 'Cos internal combustion's fun, but steam? Steam's a lifestyle! Or at least an animated film.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Optimism is lowest in Zimbabwe, Egypt, Haiti and Bulgaria, the new survey found.No, realllllly?
On the other hand, here in the beleaguered U.S. of A., we're middlin' cheerful, though the Boomers may be draggin' our average down; the weird truth is -- oh, try to bear up! -- humans are, in the main, an optimistic bunch.
We'd have to be; otherwise, we'd'a given up long ago.
Monday, May 25, 2009
It's like this: last week or so in May is a moody time for me, with three birthdays (including my own, which I quite dread even if it does beat what's in second place), the anniversary of my father's passing and a somewhat-heavier work schedule thanks to the 500-Mile Race. It leads me to excessive introspection, which may be good for the soul but has me comin' up blank, content-wise.
More and better tomorrow!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Dad was a Naval Reservist, having missed WWII service by only a few years. He used to talk about growing up with older brothers serving (Navy), knowing his turn was not far off, that the next step after High School was enlisting. (I always had the impression he was hoping to become a pilot). Didn't happen that way; his next step turned out to be getting married, starting a career and joining the Reserve soon after. As it worked out, my older sister didn't come along until after that obligation was over.
So none of us but Mother have memories of Dad-the-sailor.
There's one citizen-warrior. One of many. One of millions. He didn't do anything especially heroic (unless you count taking on the extra role when he had a new job and a young wife, which I think we'd better) and neither did most of his peers; they went and did their duty. And so did all the guys with medals and the ones without, all the ones who came home injured or hale...or not at all.
The day is for the fallen -- all of 'em, not just the ones they make movies about.
It's not about heroics; it's about service. About going and doing, not sitting home, shirking and taking verbal potshots at those who serve. (Jerks who singled out veterans in the recent DHS report, I'm lookin' at you). Spare 'em a thought this day. Spare 'em some of your time, your words, your actions.
I saw bits of the same speech and I was not impressed. Especially in light of the biography I'm reading; rocket engineering aside, von Braun was pretty typical of many well-off Germans: patriotic, concerned about his country, carried along by the waves of his time, unwilling to look too closely at what his government was up to and ultimately in over his head. Can't happen here? Ha.
I was never very happy about the "detainees" at Guantanamo: if they're bad dudes, shoot 'em and have done with it; if you're not sure, find out. (The West has an interesting tradition about playing "better safe than sorry" with people). But at least it was understood to be an unusual situation, limited in scope and only barely justified. Now, the present rat under the floorboards of the White House proposes comin' up with some airtight, Constitutional (!) legal justification for "indefinite detention." Habeus corpus? Who he? And wanna bet it won't eventually be used on citizens?
Just remember, the first to the camps are the folks nobody likes. Eventually? Eventually nobody's allowed to like members of any group selected for the camps and we're all complicit.
Is this the "change" or the "hope" the voting public expected?
1. And don't miss Professor Volokh's related discourse.
2. To borrow a phrase that got a CBS reporter canned when he used it to refer to Richard Nixon. Me, I think it'd be good to use a few times a year to remind whoever is Prez that we don't vote 'em to be our Gods or King and winning the election doesn't make 'em any more special than the guy who won't shut up at the cinema.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
I went blank. Who do I know who's that young? Names fled me, as they so often do.* I knew her from somewhere....
Between wasabi and panic, my expression gave it away. She looked a bit let down and said, "I'm your niece, remember?"
Right, riiight.... I have two nieces of nearly the proper age except neither one of them is especially light-haired, geeesh, okay, it can't be the one that lives a couple hundred miles away, can it? So that leaves, um, she has an older brother.... I have by now retrieved nearly all the names of relatives in her generation and those of most of their spouses. But she looks much too old to be one of those two; and just who let one of my young nieces out unchaperoned, anyway?
"Sure?" I smiled, "It's good to see you..." Name, name? Nothin', oh, geesh, yes! Got it! She has the same first name as two other cousin's spouses, "K--"
She cut in, "I'm here with some friends and just wanted to say hi!"
About then, a missed bit of wasabi hit the back of my throat, so I simply nodded and she returned to her table. Oh, that went well.
As I returned to my meal, I did a quick mental run-through of ages and....the nieces I remember playing tea-party like, ummm, last week maybe? Wrong. Majorly so: Startin' college. Driving cars. Prolly payin' bills, even.
E-mail from my Mom about not spending enough time around the family arriving in ten, nine, eight.... Wasn't quite that quick showing up but she's right.
They grow up so fast! And they won't wear name badges or even have a consistent hair color, either.
* Sadly, I need to interact with someone fairly regularly over several months before I am able to reliably associate faces and names. This is a lack of aptitude that leads to no end of embarrassment and social awkwardness. And when it comes to the young and growing, I might as well give up and make a crib sheet with recent photos and names.
P.S. Either I can't spell "wasabi" or both spellcheckers available never heard of the stuff. Hmpf. And it's one of the best things about sushi.
Friday, May 22, 2009
I heard him speak and met him briefly, very late in his life and very early in mine. His charm was undeniable even then, even to a small child seeking an autograph.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
You first, d00d.
Da-yum, and I had just put my tinfoil hat up for the season, too.
It's us or them; Farmer Frank and I vote "us." With an AR-15. Bye-bye, gopher!
P.S.: Your Curtisony Questrinitrcavox TV, the old one with the 4:3 CRT? It's gonna turn into a buggywhip next month! Except there won't be any video Amish to still use it.* Better getcha a nice, cheap DTV converter, before the rush is on. Mortgage the kids and get a big, hi-def flatscreen!
Or you could, you know, read a book.
* Not entirely true, low-power TV stations will still be on the air in analog for awhile longer. Not for forever, so watch 'em while you can -- if you can.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Dayton 1: Sunburn. Ow.
Dayton 2: The Meter.
Who can't figure this out? There are even instructions on the back! (See Sand, Boot, stored in). Kinda kewl gadget, no?
Dayton 3: My Begali bug.
And that's it for this morning!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Turk Turon has a photo-essay on our weekend expeditions!
For now: Mains Plugs and Sockets of the World! Ooooo. Then there's that hobbyist fave (outside the U..S), the Belling-Lee coaxial connector. Or RF connectors generally. Enjoy!
Late add: A Brief History Of Professional Microphone Connectors. Focused on the XLR and ancestors; locking DIN types, etc. are not covered.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Speaking of sand in one's drawers, more whining from the print media. Or their attorneys. Looks to me like they just wanna be government's little lapdog. Awwww. It's so cute you could just barf. (Found via Radly Balko)
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Plus, go read the Boing Boing article, which describes a neatly snarky a welcome-to-the-Intarweb-Age yuck foo for EMI.
(Update: here's a little treat for those who were hoping it was the animated Danger Mouse. In this episode, oh noes! Britain's got no government! C'mon, Danger Mouse, that's a feature, not a problem).
A bit of chill but nothing a sweatshirt didn't solve; Turk had his fightin' .45 and .38SA, I had my trusty Ruger/PacLite .22, an EAA Witness Compact in .38SA and -- of course! -- the Sistema 1911A1 .45 (ummm, who has any to spare? I'm plumb out!). Tam had an assortment of centenarian semiautos and wheelguns and SB had -- well, what he always has: everything. Lovely clear skies, good light, and we turned time and money into smoke and noise with a certain flair and elan -- to be joined by none other than Nathan, with his shooty wonders!
From there to the Broad Ripple Art Fair, with a stop by the cottage to scrub and and return irons to the safes and lockboxes. Art, she is not dead, nor do practitioners thereof insist on it's being obscure or inaccessible. --Look, many, maybe even most artists are tryin' to give you a glimpse through their mind's eye and in my brief blitz through the fair, I saw many who more than succeeded. (One of the photographer's work was especially striking for me -- wonderfully lit cityscapes of abandoned buildings and neighborhoods left to scrawl and ruin, lit and photographed almost as though they were flowers).
...And from there to the BlogMeet! --Y'all missed food. Food so good that it defies adequate description. Salmon, asparagii, pork barbecue, tomato salad, coleslaw: all of gourmet caliber. Enjoyed alfresco under a sky as clear and burnished blue as a fine ceramic bowl. Exotic soft drinks plus apple, rhubarb and sugar cream pie. And y'missed excellent conversation -- Joanna, Shermlock Sr. and Jr. (Hagbard Celine), Old Grouch, Turk, Shootin' Buddy, Tam, Mad Saint Jack...and a visiting blogreader from Milwaukee who was visiting in town and suddenly realized he was mere blocks away from the BlogMeet!
I have photographs to move from camera to computer. Lots of them!
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Remember Ruger's recent, cryptic teasers about "rebooting a classic?" Maybe they should take lessons from the Star Trek franchise. I'm not sayin' it's a must-see-asap but it gets the job done; there are plenty of nits for the hardcore Trekker to pick and the usual disregard of physics, economics and common sense, not to mention command discipline and the promotion process within a military service; but it's a movie, f'pity's sake, and it does a pretty good job of tellin' a big, shiny story, which is what movies do. Go see it. Set your phaser on "fun." And meet the original crew all over again.
More coverage elsewhere from the other bloggers attending -- Kevin has a roundup o'linkage.
* This bugs me on many levels. I helped set up equipment for news coverage of Hillary Clinton's stop at a factory here in Indianapolis, making multiple trips through a very high, dead-serious level of security, local police plus Secret Service and y'know what? It was invasive but they were decent about it. They didn't treat anyone like a pail of slops -- not me, not the janitorial staff, not the reporters, nobody. They didn't joke around or play at bein' your pal but they looked folks in the eyes and said hello and explained what was goin' on. But TSA with a tiny librarian? Oh hell no. They can't be bothered, even when she bursts into tears.
...You know, I was gonna add on about how I think our current President is way more wrongheaded (in the Edwin H. Armstrong, "What he thinks he knows that isn't actually so," sense) than idiotic, but then Tam linked to this. It's either idiocy or effrontery. Possibly both.
The bigger danger in this new "mind hacking" is that it furthers the idea that people are material machines that can be altered like robots to perform ever-greater mental feats. The notion of life being more than molecules fades like a beautiful sunset behind a storm cloud.Awww. Isn't that pretty? Kind of hides the way it ducks the reality.
Looky here, either we are meat machines and drugs work -- and the evidence appears to bear that out -- or not. Yeah, I'd like to think there's a ghost in the machine, too, but I haven't seen one. Which doesn't mean it's not there.
If somebody's abilities can be significantly boosted by a pill, how is that different to another person who can only function if they take a pill? Why is it okay for the latter to have 'em but not the former?
The CSM isn't sure but they're heap fretted. In their anguish, they muse, "...At some point this drug taking may no longer be a matter of free will." Well now, that'd be a whole different question with a whole other set of answers. How's that "nationalized medical coverage" look to you now?
Friday, May 15, 2009
So, driven by the redoubtable Turk Turon in a twenny-frikkin'-ten, howlin' red Camaro* (and yeah, heads turn), he and I went to the Hamvention.
...We walked the entire flea market; this is the rough equivalent to walking the parking lots of a good-sized mall. Up and down every lane. All of them filled with ....stuff! Ham gear. More ham gear. optics. Ham gear. Telegraph keys. A 12-ga blank cannon. Jewelry made from radio parts. Ham gear from the 1940s (I wanna Radio Manufacturing Engineers model 46 receiver!). Ham gear from The Future. Books. Tom Perera, Gil S., Doug Hauff. Ham gear. A Mecograph bug, working. An air pistol. And so on...all day!
1. Earrings made from vacuum tubes.2. A vari-speed device for a LaHiff-designed Vibroplex bug -- $2 worth of brass, $20 worth of know-how and $7 of machining time. Vibroplex stopped making them...but there was another fellow there who hasn't!
3. Variable Condensers
4. A Begali semiautomatic telegraph key of unique design, the "Intrepid" and a handshake from Pietro Begali with it. (Think "high-end 1911;" think "Ferrari." Now combine them. It's like that. Ooooo) .
5. A nifty little benchtop meter -- I was lookin' it over and the seller said, "You should have that." Free. "'Cos you know what it is."
6. A replacement 1011B telephone lineman's buttset. (Scroll down for pix) (Which I just realized is still in the Camaro with Turk. I hope). This is a good find 'cos my old one is kind of dead and they have a medium-high "unknown sproing" factor. And yes, it is a rude-sounding name, short for "butt-in set," a test telephone that can be patched in to check phone lines. This is an older type.
7. Sunburn. Also free. Treated with white vinegar, which sounds painful but isn't and usually works. When will I learn to take sunscreen to the Dayton Hamvention?
* He swears the word means "shrimp." As in "delicious boiled, chilled and served with cocktail sauce," but can that possibly be right? Holy cow!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
What's the Douglas Adams line? Oh, yes: Don't Panic! Easier said than done but words to live by.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Heck, I've gotta basement and a garage; the city and I would both frown on .22s there but an air gun, maybe not so bad.
I want something that closely mimics a 1911A1 in size, heft, control placement and performance; I have a spring-powered Beretta service pistol copy that is none of these things. Any suggestions? The one in the link above looks interesting but I don't know much about these critters.
Same plan, totally informal, Iggle Crick opens at 10 ack emma and bloggers & readers just show up as suits them. Hoping we can get Tam to shoot a little -- you know how shy and retiring she is. Ahem.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The skinny on this is, we'll get food at LGG and depending on crowd size, may wander a half-block North up the Monon to a nearby pocket park to hang out and talk. Locally Grown Garden's prepared food is really good (visit their website!) but they don't have a huge kitchen and you order at the same counter they ring up their wonderous assortment of veggies, eggs and other fine items. The owner/chef is usually there; he and a very few handpicked assistants are the entire staff.
I do not yet have a line on how many folks we'll have in attendance; Indy BlogMeets average about a dozen.
Monday, May 11, 2009
At least breakfast hadn't had time to cool down.
The Chief had arrived at Engineering with the first shift earlybirds. He was in a mood and sharing it all 'round when I showed up. Like most of his humors, not without reason; we're still inbound on the long slowdown to our next port of call. As always happens once another Jump's well along, the Engineering Shop has become quite sloppy — things piled atop things. Random unrepairables-for-salvage litter the work benches along with parts, tools, printouts and bits of wire, metal and plastic. While the clutter is considerably less than would be found in other venues where electronic devices come to be healed and is usually not so bad that a bumpy exit from or entry to normal space does much damage, it's A) against the Starship Company's rules and B) plenty dangerous when we're going from the standard .75G to nil and back again while making planetary orbit.
The Chief being the Chief, he leans to invoking a combination of item A and incredulous outrage that any group of tekkies, anywhere, could ever produce a mess so tangled and dire; nor does he spare any of us, no matter how careful we've been. His approach stings, though he believes he's making a concession to our pride by soft-pedaling the safety aspects. Me, I'm all too aware the debris doesn't care if you left any of it out personally when it slams into you. The injury you prevent by cleaning up after the other guy may be your own!
Big Tom was in, along with Terry (another USSF legacy tech); C. Jay, and Jonny Zedd were there too, having been the lucky earlybirds met by the Chief. Handsome Dave was still checking out escape pods (more properly "points of refuge," since they do not themselves escape to anywhere: they allow crew and passengers to escape depressurization, hazmat and such), safely distant in a squirt-booster bay. Some guys have all the luck.
Aw, who needs 'im; we had enough hands to get the job done in short order and sure enough, by mid-shift, we'd sorted and stowed and produced two piles, one of saleable scrap (you'd be surprised what some of the worlds we visit will buy) and another, smaller, for the jettison drum. The Chief had harrumpfed a few of our choices to save (this is a man with a large, professionally-framed photo of a helicopter being pushed off an aircraft carrier posted on a bulkhead in his office), so off they went, too.
Jay had put off lunch (he and Tom have been lunching together since before I signed aboard) and I tagged along. Terry and the Chief were enough to cover, especially since we were only going down the passageway to the palatial breakroom that serves Engineering, Ops, the Bridge, Navs and anyone else with the right access card. 'Cos it's a hot ticket.
Perhaps I'm too sarcastic; the Hospitality gang loads our sandwich machine with decent stuff and depending on our last few ports of call, the candy and crisps selection is pretty outstanding. On the other hand, the beverage selection is the same rotgut coffee you get out of vending machines everywhere, reconstituted juices and the sodas, well, let us merely refer to wildly variable takes on "OpenCola" and let it lie.*
But dish--! That, we've got. Tom had the latest and shared it in a disapproving tone. "'Dija hear we picked up one of those, um, glovers on our last stop? People think they're hearin' from God?"
I listened with interest; Big Tom possesses the kind of quiet, certain faith one associates with monks, while his long-time friend is resolutely certain there is Nobody Up There. It suits them but you don't want to be caught in between.
"Glovers," said C. Jay. "You mean someone with Hawkins-F Dysplasia? How is he even managing to travel? That's a serious downcheck for starships. The way I hear it, even zero-G is too much for some of 'em, flashbacks or something."
"Word is the Edgers've got some new drugs. With those and tranks, some of 'em can hold up, though I don't know why they'd want to."
I hadn't known about the passenger or the drugs. H'mm. I said,"Tom, you are a fount of knowledge. Where's he headed?"
"I haven't heard but I do know he's got a whole passel of admirers up in passenger country."
Jay snorted. "Figures."
"No, really. He got on at Lyndon with a bunch of them. Well, six or seven. Just average folks. Paid cash."
Jay whistled; I looked piously at the overhead and quoted, "'...Yea, though I walk though the valley of the Shadow of Death...' That's seriously weird. Most of the Hopkins-F types say the experience is ineffable: can't be meaningfully described, only experienced first hand; and the rest of 'em don't say anything. Does that sound like 'Linden' or 'paid cash' to you?"
Jay just grinned but I never know when to shut up. "Tom, you've gotta admit, not many get to leave there who can't put 'ex-Big Cheese' or 'former El Supremo' after their name and they're usually chased by a warrant. Or worse."
"That's not true, what about the Francises?"
Third-generation farming family, big family; saved and scrimped and did without starting as soon as they realized the problem with Lyndon/Linden until the whole family could Get Out, or gens 2 and 3 anyway, the first generation having paid the price of their misjudgement. It's all-round unusual, as farmers are about the only bunch most of the various failed governments have left alone; mostly, anywat. The Francis family was a three-day wonder in the Far Edge media five years back, with a lot of pointed commentary that made things a little hot along the hazy border for awhile. "An exception, Tom, and that's the only reason any of us heard about it. Or remember."
"Yeah but it wasn't just them—"
"And it got a lot harder to leave after that, too, right up until the last government there crashed over it and took their banks down with it. They haven't had anything big enough to even pretend to be a government since, either."
"Well, that's where he got on. And he's picked up twice as many people since, too."
* The flip side is that a small vial of neroli oil is better than gold; even the systems where the genuine article is easy to come by have no shortage of patriotic entrepreneurs turning out their own version. Make mine Moxie — if I can't get it reliably, I might as while be missing something unique.
(TO BE CONTINUED)
Contrarily, as a child, I was terrified when an adult told me, "If you do not use your brain, it will rot in your skull!" Thing is, he was (essentially) correct. On the other hand, the "trashy" science fiction I was reading instead of doing my homework is pretty good brain exercise; on the other other hand, passing Trig on my first attempt would've been better.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Neither does my Mom, the difference being, Mom X would be loathe to admit it. I'll give her a call by and by, since it seems unlikely I'll be actually visiting.
(Typo count is still just ghastly high, a good measure of how I'm doing. Back to horizontalness!)
Saturday, May 09, 2009
This morning, aches are coalescing into an uncomfortable total, from toe-knuckles to sinuses and points between. I don't know what this is -- head-cold of the apocalypso (the dance-craze that's sweepin' the nation!), piggie flu or merely the worst allergy attack of my life -- and I do not actually care. I just want it to stop.
Big Project Of The Day: get cleaned up and visit MedCheck. Also, check the hovercraft for eels.
Update: Dx, Sinusitus; Rx, Z-pack (Zithromax). Also I picked up Sudafed and cough drops. And ate a nice, hot Korean meal (Dolsot Bibimbap). Now once more to bed, 'cos I am dogtired.
PS: No eels in hovercraft. We checked twice, 'cos, you know, eels. Yum!
Friday, May 08, 2009
Update, 1618 EDT: I'm pretty sure uncontrollable giggling and faint rainbow circles around lights are not among the symptoms of swine flu. They are way better than the muscle aches that accompany them. On that note, I return to bed.
2000: burning up; Tam returns from a day Elsewhere
2030: attempt, for the second time, to burn up kitchen using toaster. Fail. Whew!
2100: chills. Also dinner.
2200: burning up
Am I having fun yet?
Bonus: Looking at this map, there appears to be a correlation between Type A H1N1 cases per capita (yes, you have to extrapolate from the ratio of raw number of cases to total pop. per state) and hostility to the carriage of loaded firearms, especially open carry. Then again, I am still feverish; but hey, if open carry is what it takes to stop this stuff, I'm game! Do it for the children.
Military Rank, Note 2
In the United States, especially, public force was supposed to be exercised by the Militia, which was unconstitutionally abolished and replaced with the "National Guard" by the Dick Act of 1903 -- probably so that free Blacks could be disarmed as part of the institution of Segregation in the Southern States. The National Guard may be a useful institution, but it is not the real Militia and is no substitute for it. The Militia being mentioned many times in the Constitution, Congress has a positive duty to provide for a "well regulated Militia," which now it has not done for a century -- even as federal, state, and local officials have worked tirelessly to "infringe" the right of Americans to keep and bear arms. This is being done supposedly to fight crime; but it is now obvious that Britain became one of the most non-violent of nations when it had no restrictive gun laws, while violent crime has exploded there (beyond the United States in every category except, so far, murder) since lawful gun ownership has been all but eliminated. An American State with very nearly the lowest crime and murder rate, Vermont, actually has no restrictions on honest citizens even carrying concealed weapons (aptly called "Vermont carry"). Other States which have adopted "shall issue" conceal carry permits (like Texas) have seen greater reductions in crime than States that have not (like California).
Encountered during a Wikiwander.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Okay, enough. The actual issue is one to which there is no safe response from the Oval Office; whatever he does, if he addresses the specific incident at all, a lot of people will be outraged. Anybody wanna bet on the lapdog White House Press Corps asking about it? Thought not.
Eric Alterman (and his English teacher) have discovered conservative, constructionist Justices rule against our Dear leaders in the Oval Office and Congress waaaaaay more often than their liberal, activist colleagues and they are shocked, just shocked at the hypocrisy of calling judges who obediently drop trou and bend over for least whim of the Executive and Legislative branches "activist." Oh, heavens no, they shrill, it's those horrid, horrid robed creatures who go look up what the founding documents actually say and apply that standard to the matter at hand who are the "activists."
Yeah, well, I s'pose so. Whatever. 'Cos that is their job, you nitwits. The structure of the Federal government was supposed to restrain Our Leaders from bending things all around to suit their moods; the Courts, among other things, exist to slow 'em down.
Naturally, the Progressives don't so much favor that, since it impedes their "progress." Towards what? The perfection of Man and/or Society, perhaps -- and they don't care who they have to impoverish or kill to get there. How many times has that worked out? Gotta long, Marxist-Red list of the times it has not, from New Harmony to Russia to Cambodia and beyond and I am (in the words of the famous IMPD officer) Not Impressed.
...If I'm an anarchist, you ask, how come I generally favor conservatives? This's why: there's only one side that will, at least sometimes, stand up and say STOP! in an effective way to our elected beaters, er, "leaders" and it ain't the Left; all the sinister side is good for is whiny protests that accomplish exactly nothing. Oh, and being horrified when The Fed'ral Gummint works in the manner the Framers intended.
Our President, he wants a Supreme Court Justice with "empathy." I guess reading comprehension and a firm grasp of the country's history and founding documents is too much to ask when what you're really after is somebody biddable. Hey, Eric? It is a codeword. For "spineless."
I've thought for years that using NASA as a cover for re-entry research originally and then as a huge distraction from the actual existence of FTL travel and a network of settled worlds was going to backfire. Now the facade is startin' to crack.
Or it could be me gaslighting you. I'm not sayin'.
Conan the Objectivist has been hacking, coughing and sneezing around the shop since Monday and it appears his virus's mission was successful: I've got it, too. Raw throat, bit of a temperature, sinus unhappiness, oh yay.
On top of the knee issues, it does not make for a fun time and I have caught myself on the verge of making bone-headed mistakes three times now. I do believe I had better call in sick -- not to avoid sharing, it's too late for that (thanks, buddy. No, not really) -- but because it is pretty easy to spend more than a day's pay by cutting one wrong wire. That wouldn't be good.
Piggie flu or just a cold? Dunno. Hoping for the latter!
What it reminds me of, far more than his earlier works (though you can see it even there) is H. Beam Piper, especially when Piper was looking more closely at character -- yarns like the Little Fuzzy novels. Plus we get a little more insight into the dynamics of Freehold society, one of the more complex takes on what a free society might look like.
If you like Heinlein and Piper, give Mad Mike a try. The boy can write.
(How To Buy: go to Tam's blog and click on the Amazon link at her site).
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Bad News: Ed's got a posting with links addressing the Executive's attempted strong-arming of Chrysler creditors. When it comes to government bullying, Ayn Rand was a starry-eyed optimist, as innocent as Dorothy Gale.
...And people wonder why I list my politics as "anarchist." Theodore Roosevelt's "bully pulpit" leads all too directly to bullying in the more commonly-used sense of the word. Hand a man -- any man -- a cudgel the size of the Presidency and he's going to use it. Ditto Congresscritters and so on all the way down to dogcatchers and metermaids. The only way to even begin to contain it is to push back just as hard as you can. And at that, I believe it may only be a delaying action.
Machiavelli (and H. Beam Piper) probably had it right: individual freedom is a temporary state between one form of coercive rule and another. That's no reason to not try making it last as long as possible.
1. Of course, there is a rather large body of preexisting evidence that Ed's not just another handsome guy in an airplane. Ahem.
2. I always found him appealing in Alien Nation reruns and thanks to Chris Muir, I've learned he's not the usual Hollywood whiner, either. Color me fangirl.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
If you're Obama administration, the answer is, "Whack the big corporations good and hard! Tax 'em even more than they already are and make being a U. S. corporation a liability!" Clever.
Where Smoot-Hawley was ostensibly protectionist and hurt U.S. exports indirectly, by inciting retaliatory tariff increases by other nations, the proposal from the White House bypasses that folderol by simply attacking U. S. firms that do business overseas. That'll show 'em! --Show 'em the desirability of incorporating elsewhere, that is.
When government -- any government! -- drives the economy, we're on the bus to failure. It is all the more galling in that every time this sort of thing happens (and it happens all the time), we handed them the keys.
Will this one be a debatable footnote, a catastrophe or a mere fizzle on the news cycle? I don't know. The assumptions behind it, though, they're corrosive; if they don't eat through in this instance, they'll do so somewhere else. Count on it.
Monday, May 04, 2009
It is a very great incentive to using your mirrors and keeping your eyes moving; this city never quite sleeps but in the wee small hours of a Monday, it's pretty somnolent. Weather was still nice, the least edge of a chill and scarcely a breeze.
With sleep cometh dreams and in a city hovering on the very edge of sleep, some of the dreams are anything but dreamy -- approaching 38th St. on Meridian (a major intersection). I noticed a car parked at a funny angle in a lot just off the street, headlights and interior lights on and movement in front of it. Car trouble? A wreck? A car-jacking?
Um, no. My first clue was the flash of metallic silver hotpants: either a very drunk partygirl or a lady of leasable virtue, dancing in front of the headlights and waving at passing traffic. I was a little ahead of a car in the lane between me and the scene and as we approached and she realized neither of us was in her target demographic -- the driver next to me being a gal deeply involved with her cellphone -- she abruptly sat back down on the hood.
You'd think IMPD might notice that sort of thing. Interestingly, though I see a lot of police cars during the day, none were in evidence along my entire midnight commute. Luck of the draw or a change in patrol patterns? I don't know. In the days of IPD, I saw about as many in the middle of the night as in the middle of the day; with most of the city asleep, that might not have been the most rational allocation of manpower.
The trip was uneventful from there on; even Broad Ripple settles down once Sunday's been tucked in.
Sunday, May 03, 2009
The delightful Paul Cret-designed Central Library in downtown Indianapolis, despite having had the stacks gutted right out of it and now serving as an entry hall to the swooping modernist aberration where the books (and other, newer, more common media) are now found, nevertheless retains a great deal of its neoclassical charm. Of course the intellects who dreamed up the glittering money sink that now hovers ominously behind it, sinking slowly into hollowly echoing void of its underground garages, could not allow such simple beauty to stand unchallenged.
Two large pedestals on either side of the grand entrance had stood empty since the building was completed in 1917; they were supposed to have held sculpture in keeping with the nature of the building but funding ran out and with Hoosier practicality, they have remained unoccupied, perhaps challenging visitors to dream what might occupy that space.
No more. Thanks to a review in Nuvo, I've discovered there's a nightmare there now. (Have a look by clicking here or on the images in the article). Of course the reviewer is all aflutter. Comments are presently running about 50/50 -- and that's in a very alt/artsy paper. Sheesh.
Present plans are a bit up in the air, it being 500-Mile-Race* month and all. The Brew Pub may be full up. On the other hand, the Speedway itself tends to draw folk to it as long as the gates are open.
UPDATE: In order to dodge the race and other festivities, let's have the BlogMeet 17 May. This is the same weekend as the NRA convention but perhaps we can get Breda or another of the Midwestern attendees to give us a quick telephone report!
On the other other hand...Locally Grown Gardens has pulled pork barbecue, salmon, asparagus, coleslaw, home made bread, pies, ice cream and I dunno what all else, and that's even before we get 'round to the produce that is their mainstay; they have a few tables and there's a pocket park a short walk up the Monon Trail. We could all hang out, talk and enjoy first-rate eats from a rilly rilly kewl, unpretentious small biz run by a top chef! Whattaya think?
Poster to follow.
* Something to do with automobiles and a huge oval on the West Side. I always thought it was a zeppelin aerodrome but nooooo.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
I wonder how close it is to the WLW site at Mason?
Friday, May 01, 2009
You'll need a wok or frying pan, a half-dozen slices of bacon (peppered or applewood smoked preferred), 2 or 3 eggs and a bag of Uncle Ben's Ready Rice, Cajun Style (this is the rice-in-a-bag that's nuke & eat, except we're not doing it that way). Plus some chopped chives, green onions or leeks and whatever else looks good.
Start by frying the bacon til it is golden-crisp (I added a very tiny amount of crushed red pepper flakes), then setting it aside to drain. Leave the bacon grease in the pan; you can vary the amount to suit yourself but you'll want a little more than you think. Now dump the rice in and fry it up -- you'll want high heat and it will go pretty fast, 2-3 minutes ought to do it. Push the rice to the sides of the pan, crack the eggs into the center, and scramble them, stirring constantly (I use a chopstick or bamboo skewer, which works well). Add the chives (or whatever -- the leeks or green onions, you might want to add to the rice before you scramble the eggs), crumble the bacon back in, season to taste and enjoy!
Had it tonight. I think adding a dollop of Worcestershire Sauce to the eggs might've improved it but it was pretty good already. Hot, quick and tasty!
Yesterday afternoon, three days of work on one of the Stardrive power amplifiers finally resulted in what so far appears to be success, when I installed the last "floating" power supply we had aboard ship. What it "floats" on is the 36,000 Volt power supply rail, to which all the lesser phantsmajector voltages are referenced: 3 kV for the ion pump, a few hundred Volts to bias the grid and a mere five to seven volts (at some hundred Amperes!) just to light the tube up. It passed all the preliminary tests, so we slapped both high voltage and RF drive to it and whattaya know, there was both output and a distinct lack of overload conditions, a condition that persisted through the end of my shift.
Called Drive Control this morn, still a little asleep, and the DQ op on duty responded with a smile in his voice, "All three finals are clean and green!"
First time I've heard that news in a good long while. Let's hope it lasts us 'til the upcoming refit -- word is there's something Way Better TM in the works!