Monday, February 28, 2011

Official BlogMeet Report

The multitude (for just a couple of minutes, it looked like we might top out at three) gathered at the appointed place at the appointed hour, and it was goooood.

The Monon Food Company excelled at, how 'bout that, food. Gunblogger recommended!

Clockwise from front left: Don, The Jack, Joanna, Tam, Kerry, Mycroft, Old Grouch, Longhorn Jeff and the space left vacant by The Blogger Usually Known As Me. Note the Wheelbarrows'O'Cash atop the table, too! Jeff handed them out, possibly the reason he looks so happy.

Jeff brought something else along, too, which will be the subject of a future post at Retrotechnologist. (A new link in the top post there, to the Morse Telegraph Club, who put landline telegraphy on the Internet. Try'n top that; you'd need a steam-powered directly steam-operated computer.)


The next time someone gets sniffy about animation, show 'em this.

Thought of You from Ryan J Woodward on Vimeo.

Worked from life but I don't think it's rotoscoped; it appears his eye is just that good. Either way, it is art.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

BlogMeet Report

Photos and details are upcoming here; nine bloggers and blogreaders in attendance, including Don Gwinn (who brought himself) and Jeff (who brought official gunblogger Wheelbarrows Full Of Cash). I got mine now, woo-hoo!

I learned I had missed Old Grouch's fabulous poster for the event. For posterity, a copy is herewith appended, or at least until/unless he hands me a take-it-down notice.

Pretty classy, isn't it? Splendid! I'd've posted sooner had I been alert enough.

Great fun, excellent food and fine conversation was had. (A couple of us had Sun King Cream Ale,* too, which I highly recommend. Mind you, I'm not a beer drinker, but I found it mild, even light without being watery; what big-name lagers claim to be and aren't).

All, as they say, will be revealed in the next episode!
* Sun King also has one of the best and most malleable names for a brewer. They've only started their way down the list of Earthly royalty and ancient deities for beer names and label art; withal, it is symptomatic of a degree of detail-oriented thoroughness that could well harken great things for this local company. Their Osirus Pale Ale (APA, rather than IPA) is especially well reviewed.

My Book: Maybe 15% Off

Sale's over -- but you can still buy the book, or download it for pocket change.

LuLu sent me a coupon for 15% off full price. Being the author, I get 'em for a bit over cost and it doesn't apply then.

So if you'd like to buy my book from the publisher at a discount, click on the LuLu button in the right sidebar under I Work On A Starship: the book and type in SAVE305 at checkout. Offer ends Monday and it might be first-come first-served.

(If you buy from them and want the book autographed, that'll cost you postage both ways; write for details).

Hey, That's Not A Deck Chair

Or is it? (Some) Republicans are trying to stop the upcoming ban on normal incandescent lamps -- and never you mind that the factories that made them are going out, one by one, all across the continent.

We may get 'em back just in time to have to buy all our conventional light bulbs from Red China, too.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

February BlogMeet

It's tomorrow, 3:oo pm, at the Monon Food Companty in Broad Ripple. Link to the map is right over there in the right-hand column at the top. See you there!

Okay, now I gotta go cook breakfast. Photos later, if it is good enough.

Update: Pretty good brekky, picture later, gotta go transport Mom from hospital to heart rehab center.

Update II: So, all this transportng of Mom is in her big, comfy car...which no one has bothered to renew the plates on (due the middle of February). I haven't even seen it in weeks, sister has been driving it. Funny how suddenly, neither of my sibs was available. I'm such a sap.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Hidden Frontier?

I am at a loss to explain it. It showed up in an old Raytheon (PBUT*) ad found here:
The end item does not appear to fit. A closer look seems to show a "flying saucer" type vehicle communicating or trading shots through a cloud with a flame while an armored hand is reflecting or deflecting something at an angle; or maybe it created or is removing the cloud?

I suppose this could be a reference to the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox saint (associated with lightning, artillerymen and others who work with explosives), but that seems pretty unlikely in this context; perhaps instead it is more likely to indicate a project named for the saint, some kind of OHAP/Joint Air (Force) - Navy Electronic Technical Team defense against the "glocke" starships of the Far Edge? Just one more little gap in the not-quite-perfect wall of secrecy about the Hidden Frontier! Tsk, Raytheon, somebody let the Art Department see more than they should!

Update: I am, of course, slightly kidding Raytheon (or did USSF-I and NSA make me claim to be kidding and if they had, would I admit it in order to add another layer of FUD?). Raytheon has a very long history with electronics experimenters and hams, from the first affordable rectifying tubes (the cold gas BH) through innovative multigrid tubes power, mercury-vapor amplifying tubes (!) and the very first affordable "hobby" transistor, the CK722. These days, Raytheon is largely (but not entirely) taken up with .mil and .gov work but at one time, they were building everything from radars to radar ranges to transmitters and mixing consoles for radio stations.

It's a short Wikihop from Raytheon's most famous transistor to Alfred P. Morgan, the man whose books introduced countless youngsters to electronics, chemistry, small engines, electricity and plenty more; about as soon as it became possible, he began including solid-state projects in his books and that meant CK722 transistors and 1N34A diodes. Not too shabby for a man whose first book -- on building your own biplane glider! -- was published in 1909.

(And if you drop down the early-semiconductor rabbit hole, you end up in interesting places, like the guy who built an audio amplifier in which the active devices are rectifier diodes!)
* Every time you microwave popcorn or some other snack, remember Raytheon and Percy Spencer, without whom you would probably not have the device. ...And you might living in a very different world in other ways, too, since he was the man responsible for putting radar tubes into mass production.

But The Groundhog Promised!

You know what happens when you hire large, burrowing rodents as meteorologists? This:That's one night's snowfall, starting around 10:00 pm, much of it horizontal, as you can see. About 3" of snow here in Broad Ripple, worse in the counties to the north. Can zombie Yetis be far behind?

I'm not saying it's a unusual as this: Still, I was hoping for a nice, gradual slide into Spring instead of another chance to slide on the roads. Hey, at least the cats are getting along better. Bath time!

H'mm. Where'd they go?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

February BlogMeet

(Bumped to top) (Again)

How does the 27th sound? --I'd like to go back to Brugge but they have table-space issues during indoor weather. :(

Monon Food Company will be the place, 3:00 pm the time!

Maybe we should look for someplace we've never gone before. I had a bright idea, Zest,* but they close up shop at 3:00 on Sunday. Suggestions?
* You should go there. You'll be happy.

"Use Live Ammo"

It's got the threepers riled. It's got lefties seein' red. It got the guy who tweeted it fired.

When Indiana Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Cox saw a tweet from a Mother Jones reporter that riot police had been ordered in to clear pro-public union protesters from the Wisconsin statehouse because of safety concerns, he tweeted back, "Use live ammo." His subsequent tweets made it clear he was in favor of meeting deadly force with deadly force.

When it is Teh Gummint vs. People With Signs, this isn't exactly a popular sentiment and thus young Esquire Cox was sent down and those who watch the watchers with askance all across the political spectrum started in, finding new ways to say, "OMG! OMG!"

...Like an Indiana Deputy AG commands anyone in Wisconsin.

But there's a bigger issue here and so halfwits everywhere will have a better chance to see it, I'll use bold print: Riot police did would have used live ammo to remove the protesters in Wisconsin. You think maybe the pistols at their hips are loaded with blanks? However, because those protesters, no matter what I think of their politics (addled), are not all that much dumber than average, the police only had to use the threat of deadly force, plus a few less-lethal helps as needed.[1] (Update: They didn't even have to send the police in, as it turned out. But one does have to wonder if the threat of so doing might have had just the teensiest impact?)

Wake up and smell the reality: every time Officer Friendly deals with you in an official capacity, there's live ammo involved; just because it doesn't go "bang," that doesn't mean it isn't in use.

Jeffrey Cox may or may not actually approve of the brute, brute boot [2] system of crowd control; what we do know about him is twofold:
1. He doesn't always weigh his words.
2. Official reaction to his tweet was swift, sweeping and harsh. Mr. Cox doesn't work here any more.
(Radley Balko has more. IMO, you should play poker for money with Jeff Cox; he seems...expressive).

So reset the panic alarm. His "ruling elite" peers saw the same thing you saw -- and they shot first.
1. "Apply directly to the forehead:" '68 Chicago nightstick motto, innit?
2. Apologies to George Orwell and Slyvia Plath.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Firefly Flanac

(No, I'm not gonna explain the second word).

Someone paid close attention to Nathan Fillion's probably-offhand remark about how, if he had the bucks, he'd buy the rights to Firefly and start cranking out new episodes.

Madcap hijinks, as they say, ensued. Follow the links -- brother, can you spare a $40?

Indiana's Vanishing Democrats

...In a classic example of "Randian villain see, Randian villain do," the Democrat contingent in Indiana's House of Reprentatives has aped their fellows in Wisconsin, fled the state and blocked passage of a "Right To Work" bill.

Of course they went to Illinois.

Without a quorum, the bill died; it might come back as an amendment. I'm sure unions will stand House Dems gas money if it does.

It's not at all a new ploy in U.S. politics. This kind of thing isn't uncommon when one party has a majority insufficient to form a quorum and opposition wants to block legislation, though in recent years, it's become something of a Democrat specialty. (Our Republican governor, who in 2005 referred to a Democrat walkout as a "carbombing" of bills he'd been pushing, pointed out this time it was, "a perfectly legitimate part of the process." I tend to think of as more of a last-ditch but legal move.)

Right To Work would have made for interesting times in Indiana and might have helped balance our relatively high corporate taxes when new industry considered locating here. As the down economy continues, the proposal is likely to come back, sooner or later.

The bill would not have outlawed unions, only "closed shops." It made union membership an option instead of a requirement. If your local wasn't keeping you happy, you'd've been able to vote with your dollars; conversely, if your union can't attract voluntary members by the good it does for them, maybe it's not much of an advocate for the membership. But I guess the concept of getting people to shell out by providing some benefit to them in exchange, which works fine for endeavors from churches and Scouts to cosmetics manufacturers and fast food chains, is just too foreign to the thinking of union bosses.

And that should be a message in and of itself.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On The Virus In My Eee

It proved to be deeply entrenched and intractable; I'm doing a full system recovery. Will that get rid of it? Maybe. Still can't figure how I got it in the first place.

Saved some text files on a thumb drive. If I can figure out how to be sure they're clean -- pipe 'em through a Mac and back out on a fresh USB drive? -- I won't have to start over on the current chapter of "Dropping In" (which was supposed to be posted already!).

Update: Recovery recovered and I have Malwarebytes and Spybot - Search and Destroy loaded, along with AVG. Plus I put Q10 back on it. It just shut down and powered back up okay. Fingers crossed!

A Personal Note On Things Going Smash

If it's bad enough, I'm unlikely to live through it.

You may ask, "Why?" After all, I'm armed, have a tiny amount of training and have plenty of well-armed, disaster-ready friends. I even keep a reserve of food and water on hand!

Yeah, but if things go nasty, my place will be at work. I'm in the communications game; if there's some kind of GENERIC TEOTWAWKI going on, my job is to make sure you (and all those less-ready folks) get as much useful information as can be pumped out to ya. This is what I do.

Ninety percent of time, the stuff I'm paid to help get to your living room or car is slightly less useful than the otherwise similar newspaper, 'cos you can use newsprint for a lot of things but what your TV and radio spit out is more ephemeral than smoke. But that 10%, it's pretty darned useful. I'm single, I don't have kids and other than my Mom, I'm not close to my family. Ayn Rand might not approve but I don't consider it a sacrifice to go do what I get paid to do under circumstances in which it might mean a whole more to the folks at home than mere advice on how to get brighter-whiter teeth and shiny new cars for no money down.

Short, small nasties -- ice storms and such -- I'm ready for. Medium-size and up? I'll take my chances on the job.

The rest of you? Dammit, don't screw up. Grab your spouse and kiddies and go do what needs doing.

(OTOH, all bets are off if this happens. I guess I could semaphore from a high place but I'm kind of rusty -- and who'd read it?)

Another Morning

(Original Post title, ''''', from Rannie. She won't tell me why.)

A morning which I am determined will be better than yesterday, which was generally spent in twilight, being very, very quiet.

Rannie the cat is weaving back and forth in front of the monitor, in a rare "pet me" mood. This morning, she was considering getting under the covers when Huck bounded onto and across my bed in a series of leaps; she suddenly remembered pressing business elsewhere.

H'mm, probably good advice, time to git. Elsewhere in the world, Colonel Gaddafi seems unwilling to discover pressing business elsewhere, possibly because he's got nowhere to go. --Even though he's a loose cannon practically out of a James Bond film, I have my doubts that what comes after him will be any less crazy.

Entropy seems stronger in the Middle East. Do you suppose all those years of civilization in ancient times have depleted the area of some critical nutrient? Something in the soil? I can just picture the Romans sieving up the last few bushels of common sense and works-and-plays-well-with-others and hauling it off to Rome to be sprinkled over the homes and country estates of the select few....

Found In The Spam Trap

...A nice selection of computer-security links and methods from the Data Viking! Don't know why I missed it for so long.

Monday, February 21, 2011

What If It All Goes Smash? --The Short Answer

You're going to die.

Joe addresses it in more detail but the 30-second read is, if technological civilization went belly-up tomorrow, unless you're Amish or a very serious survivalist, you're going to die (and they're going to be on short rations and will face lifestyle changes; note all the "low-tech" factory-made goods!). If you're a Prepper or a good LDS member (etc.) and relatively lucky, it might not be for a long time -- a year, maybe two. Most of us less-ready types will be toast within six months and the remainder will go like mayflies in the first Winter.

Thoreau in his cabin was dependent on technological civilization -- his axe, his clothing, the means to make fire. Even assuming you are as clever and resourceful (not to mention fictional) as the boy in My Side Of The Mountain, he wasn't competing with several thousand other hungry survivors. (Short-term advantage goes to the meanest.)

Most of the human race lives in climates that will kill us if we lack adequate protection from them and we do so at population densities that are insanely unsustainable for hunter-gatherers. And the really low-level skills that will keep you housed and clothed, fed a sufficiently-balanced diet to prevent malnutrition are not widespread. Depending on how things go -- how bad the die-off is -- there's a fair chance the second year will start with a better availability of salvaged goods; but I wouldn't count on it, as there are a lot of ways for a few fools to destroy a city, starting by being foolish with fire.

--Of course, that's not especially realistic, barring EMP from natural or man-made sources or something similarly unforseen; most of the really big TEOTWAWKI events result in widespread death along with the destruction, which takes us back to "See first paragraph" land.

So what's realistic to plan for?

-Economic Collapse. Something like what happened in Russia, only without the localized booms. Or we're all in Cuba, only the "classic car" you're gonna have to keep running forever is a Prius. Good luck! This calls for Depression-era coping skills and starting with a very full larder will help (in fact, it's never not a help, unless persons inclined to take it from you find out about it). Personally, I rate this the most likely and figure I'm likely to spend my retirement in a third-world country without having to move to one. Slow collapse is probably better than sudden and, horribly enough, may actually be what the market-regulators are really aiming for. (I'm lookin' at you, Ben Bernanke).

-Terrorist Activity. From "dirty" bombs to chemical or biological agents or just exploding bus stations, this would be horrible but also tends -- mostly! -- to draw people together. Coping skills would be more like the Home Front skill set for the U.S. or Canada in WW II. OTOH, regional/political violence would be differently polarizing and, Tom Leherer being too good a prophet, what do you do if the Crips or Bloods have The Bomb -- or weaponized smallpox? I guess we might as well lump "civil unrest" at the low end of this category; a good-sized riot can have very much the same effect, only on a smaller scale; and that's the most probable one you'll encounter.

-Natural Disaster. New Madrid Earthquake, anyone? Aw, why stop there -- Yellowstone? Okay, those get close to the "high probability of death" level but they're outliers; smaller quakes and eruptions, flood, hurricane, tornado, big fires and so on are a lot more common.

Dean Ing talks about the need to consider all the higher-probability events and map out what you'd do -- including literal maps, marked for the likelier scenarios. If things get bad enough you need them, don't count on your ISP or smartphone to be able to dig 'em out -- and you may want to be discreet about that GPS.

The big, flashy possibilities are the "sexiest" to plan for (sheesh, lookit even my "smaller" examples) but they're outliers; the littler ones are more likely to be the ones you'll face. And by a happy coincidence, they're also the ones with the best return on investment, too. If it goes Mad Max, you may be better off with a colander than canned goods; but if it goes LA riots or blizzard of the century and you need to hole up for a week or three, that stack of MREs will come in handy.


Did not sleep well this weekend, though waking up Saturday with both cats snoozing on my bed was noteworthy even though they were at diagonally opposite corners. I have the occasional anxiety-driven "white night," with both fretfulness and sleepiness growing as the night wears on; I don't recommend them.


One of Huck the cat's behaviors really amuses me; he has a stuffed toy, a little cow, that is scaled to him about as a largish goat would be to a medium-sized tiger. If I throw or slide it, he happily pounces, picks it up by the throat, and waddles off with it to his scratching post, where he sets it down, grabs with front paws and "disembowels" it with his back paws, quite often by reaching around the post. I'm starting to think he believes himself to be a miniature tiger


Tamara's cat Random Numbers -- "Rannie Wu" -- dislikes sharing a water bowl with Huck; she'd rather lick water from a sink or bathtub spout and I'd rather she did not. I poured her a bowl of water in the kitchen this morning and Huck was so very interested in pestering her as she drank that I ended up as the cat-lady version of an old cliche, cooking while holding a cat (instead of a child) at my hip. Huck put up with it, too. For a wonder -- it could have been a real mess.


And that had better be it for this morning. Some kind of visual migraine is trying to lay hold of me and I need to head it off before it makes any more progress.

Later: Ibuprofen didn't work. Great.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Who Makes The Coal Roll?

...SJRPP does, is who. (Catch the reference? Clues follow.)

Wiki-wandering, I was struck by the extensive water access in and around Jacksonville, Florida and points South; the First Coast has all manner of coast to it. My attention was drawn to a big freight-type terminal on an island and I idly followed the roads and rails and -- hey, what's that thing? Light rail? Not exactly.

It runs from NW to SE in the linked view, paralleling roads and rails; zoom out and have a look. I even had a Street View look where it crossed a road and wasn't entirely sure. (Bear with, I don't know if that'll work.)

Followed to the end, it was pretty obvious what it was carrying and further searching brought up a nice flyer about the installation it serves, and how: it's a 3.2-mile, fully-enclosed (what do the neighborhoods say?) conveyor belt for coal. Reading it is a reminder that we are still, on a fundamental level, living in the Age of Steam, the Age of Coal.

Who makes the coal roll? Techs and engineers, boilermen and steamfitters. Not the Technocrats, outside of fiction.

Gotta keep the lights on; gotta keep those air conditioners spinning! --Oh, and your electric (coal and steam powered) car charged up, too.

"We Interrupt This Broadcast--"

Update: As predicted in comments, it's still infected. Ordered an external optical drive and I guess I will have to mindwipe the poor thing and start over. (Salvaged a bunch of IWOAS text files but that thumb drive needs looked at now, just in case. Malwarebytes claims it is clean).

Or this blog; last night, I started my "Top Shot" post on my little Eee but had to finish it on my desktop, and that after running spyware/malware scans: the Eee had a trojan, an especially annoying and nasty one, and I am not sure how I got it.

Initially, it wouldn't boot up at all and I supposed the hard drive had died; but the hidden reset button got it to boot up, my browser launched okay but then opened another tab and once I'd closed that -- chaos! Screen after screen of nearly-plausible warnings; the giveaway was their persistence and the long list of supposed risks, threats and "stealth intrusions" reported.

Removing the trojan took some time and effort and I am giving serious thought to keeping the wireless LAN off; my main use for the Eee netbook is to write fiction and I darned near lost tens of thousands of words I hadn't backed up. Had to change a bunch of passwords, too.

...And today will be "install more protection day." Oh, the fun.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Top Shot: Fail

Watching the first two episodes of the new season of Top Shot and hey, it's supercool -- a shooting game/reality show, what's not to like?

This: They run a nice disclaimer, "Expert marksmen on a closed course. Do not try this at home."

On that, I'm callin' BS on two counts:

1. Other than the rare Hollywood moving chair/falling shooter/ hugely reactive target setup, it's just various forms of competition-type shooting in fancy dress; not all that unusual or dangerous.

2. If they're so all-fired safe, why do I keep seeing hand-held camera work from the "hot" side of the firing line while competitors or the host are handling live weapons? Why does the camera keep getting muzzled?

Srsly, you knock that stuff off -- or stop telling Me The Home Viewer, "Don't try this at home." Bilge. If I had a home range, I'd be trying a lot of the more-fun setups; and when I am at the range -- any range! -- I don't handle firearms while folks are on the wrong side of the line. I don't care what kind of hot-shot Joe Dangerous Cameraman you are, stay back of the line! If you've just gotta have that looking-at-'em shot, you go place a mirror when the range is clear, or you set up the camera and leave it.

It's a cute show. I just wish they'd figure out that cameramen and focus pullers aren't expendable.

Gah, Clowns

Never trust clowns. At Leeann's

The Magic Number Is "12"

See, 13 states can drop out of earlier associations and form their own country, but if 11 try the same thing, it's a no-no.

(Hideously uncomfortable historical note: somebody's gonna wonder if slavery might be a limiting factor, too. The short, sad answer is no; it was legal in all 13 colonies at the time of Revolution and only Vermont and Massachusetts had put an end to the practice before the 18th Century ended. What's the Oscar Wilde quote about "We're all standing in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars?" Gotta do more than just watch, sir).

Tasty Goodness

I had eggrolls from the deli at Fresh Market last; it was fast and easy and I was tired. But I didn't have any hot mustard and couldn't find any in the store. Aw, drat!

...Never fear; it turns out that a mixture of 80% good coarse country-style dijon and 20% wasabi (adjust to taste!) makes a hot mustard so good, I slightly burned the roof of my mouth gobbling the eggrolls before they'd cooled down.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Firefly: Almost Back

Anyway, the original episodes of Firefly will be back on basic cable. Claire Wolfe has more.

Which reminds me, I don't remember linking to the fan-spoof, Mosquito. All in good fun.

Go, Belgium!

In addition to having invented "French" fries,* not to mention claims that the country doesn't even exist, Belgium now has a new and perfectly delightful accomplishment: they haven't had a government for over 249 days, beating the previous record-holder (Iran, which has been without a sane government for... Aw, gee. Divide by secret police, add the Ayatollah, carry the Shah: pretty much forever).

Belgium's legislature(s) has got so tied up in knots that there's nobody in charge; it's a remarkably complicated federal system with a (mostly) parliamentary structure; at the Federal level, the representative body is bicameral and that's a simple as it gets -- indeed, Belgians are having trouble working it out, so don't expect me to explain it in a blog post. A hasty read suggests a great deal of decentralization; add in a King as Head Of State and I've got to wonder if Belgians even need the top layer of government they've been doing without for 250 days already?

...That's a question only they can answer and whoever does it had better be convincing in three languages. In the meantime? Here's to you, Belgium, for proving that civilization can work even without high-level meddlers!

(Meanwhile in Brazil, they've elected a clown to Congress. Hey, we've got dozens of 'em in ours here in the States!)
* So back when people were callin' 'em "freedom fries?" A perfect chance to put things right, had anyone bothered. But noooooo.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Obituary Of A Stranger

Fact, fiction, a very full life? I don't know. But whatever, read it.

Lovely Weather, Empty Head

Haven't a thing to blog about, really. Or at least no one big thing.


I went to see Mom last night and she looked and acted hugely better, very much her old self. One of her meds seems to have been most of the trouble; recovering from heart surgery is tough enough already without that! Looks like she'll be in hospital for a day or two, then back to rehab and able to really rehabilitate this time!

Tam drove, with her new GPS navagating. Or nagging, with Tam telling it to give proper directions or shut up. (It was occasionally determined to make her drive directly away from our destination and kept calling for a 180 on the freeway.)


The TV is still milking the Tucson outrage for sobs, concentrating on victims relatives who will parrot the "guns're baaaad" meme. --Yes, so bad that they'd give anything for there to had been a policeman, security guard or other armed, skilled individual on the scene from the get-go; the only problem these ninnies have is that they don't trust their fellow-citizens to go armed unless they are creatures of the State -- or least wearing a spiffy uniform.


Locally, it appears a fellow out to steal copper tried to steal a live power drop about 3:30 this morning. I guess if I was truly soft-hearted I'd feel bad for him but sheesh: say Hi to Mr. Darwin for me! Bonus: most power drops (at least around here) use aluminum wire.

One of the local FMs went off the air on a hot afternoon last summer and when staffers arrived at the site, all of the air-conditioner plumbing had been hacked out and stolen. Meanwhile, the fat, plastic-jacketed Heliax copper coax, 3" or 4" OD? Intact! Almost a pity, as there are a number of ways to check out trying to steal that stuff, none of them nice.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Save The World, Ten Cents A Bag

(Title singable to a semi-familiar tune). Indiana's House, having re-rearranged the gay marriage deck chairs (now, even illegaler! That'll stop 'em, you betcha), has set their sights on another Dire Scourge of Decency: plastic grocery bags!

They want you to pay a dime per each. Oh, it's a "deposit," you get your dime back when you bring them back (no word if there's extra money if you add bonus organic chemicals by using the bags to pick up after Spot or Rover before returning them) but the primary result of that would be that bums urban outdoorsmen would have a new way to earn drinking money by picking up trash. For the rest of us it will now cost more and take that much longer to check out at the grocer's and the five-and-dime as Jane Checker counts each bag she fills and adds the "deposit" to the total.

Yeah, good plan. And why shouldn't everyone who didn't bring a bag (or choose paper? No mention of good old traditional brown paper bags carrying penalties) have to pay more? Evil planet-killers! Headline you won't see: "Grocery Bag Tax: Poor, Retired And Unemployed Hardest Hit."

I haven't got a personal dog in this fight; I dislike plastic bags and take the traditional choice anywhere it is offered. But this is just another ill-considered do-good, feel-good bill; the opponents of gay marriage can muster more coherent arguments in support of their prejudice than the save-the-Earth antibaggers can find, even with all day and a hot Internet connection.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Just For The Record

It's cardioversion.

Not "cardio aversion." (Srsly, lolwhut?)

Not "cardio eversion." That's what they did in Central America to ensure the rains would arrive on time. They don't do that any more. Don't let the sharp blades fool ya: it's not actually a medical procedure.

I guess this should be a Linguistic Patrol post but I was aghast people could be so far off and so unaware.

Television Gone Wrong

A CBS station's reporter covering the Grammy awards suffered something a lot worse than the stumble or malapropism that is the bane of anyone who has to be on the air live and it's all over the TV and this here Innarweb.

Speculation leans heavily towards some kind of mini stroke or TIA-like event, right there in real time on people's TVs. Much as I am prone to make fun of The Media (which I can 'cos I kinda work there), the wonder is this kind of thing doesn't happen more often, especially at high-profile events.

Sure, it looks glamorous (or at least professional) but the reality is long hours with lousy food, worse hydration and little -- if any -- access to a washroom. By the time Ms. or Mr. Reporter has assembled the minute-and-a-half of news-like content you and I will sneer at, odds are good she or he is already physically stressed. Then, like a racehorse at the gate, there's a wait of uncertain length as the newscast proceeds and stories are shuffled around. Finally, the cue is thrown and they're off! There are no do-overs.

Look, the quality and depth of the content can be pretty variable; there are often slants and biases at work, both deliberate and unconscious; but the physical/emotional side of the job is challenging enough that, while it's not digging ditches, live field reporting is nowhere near as easy as most of them manage to make it look. (It's not like the movies; the usual field crew consists of A) Reporter and B)News Camera Guy, who is also Sound Guy and drives the microwave truck. One or the other or both of them edit any of the recorded parts and there's your entire crew).

You can criticize 'em on a lot of grounds but they're not lazy.

Oh, and the CBS reporter? They're still not sure what happened; word is she's back to normal now.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Quiet Night With Mom X

I'm sitting here in Room [redacted] of [redacted] Heart Hospital, to which Mom has returned from the rehab center. Seems her cardiologist thought her heart should have a more danceable rhythm and he wanted (additional) professional help. Plus he wanted to do some fancy imaging of the kind they keep the big machines for in hospitals

Naturally, by the time he reached this conclusion, the sun was over the yardarm and by the time Mom had been transported over and every last form had been filled out (in ink! In triplicate! Sign here, and let's see your card again...) , it was late afternoon. All the imaging pixies and cardioversionologolites had already packed it in for the day.

Probably just as well; these things go better after a good night's sleep. Which I hope she's getting. She's a light sleeper and is drifting in and out of dreamland now. I'll stay as late as I can and perhaps she'll get some decent zzz's.

She snores way better than I do. (I occasionally receive nasty notes from seismologists).

Free Wireless For Every--

--Whattaya mean, "it's not that free?" Whattaya mean, "They have to take that space in the RF spectrum from somebody else?"

As the above-linked Atlantic Wire piece notes, the White House push to hand you broadband free for nothing on the streetcorners, exactly as they now dole out air,* has a teensy li'l problem: they need 500 MHz of bandwidth to do it and the radiofrequency spectrum is a zero-sum game. How big a chunk is this? If they started from DC, 500 MHz would run up past the whole AM band, all the shortwave bands, all of FM and aircraft radio, take TV channels 2 through 13 and keep on for another 230-odd MHz, wiping out the Family Radio Service Band (462 - 468MHz, roughly) before the grab stops. All of it, gone.

Of course, that's not how they'll do it; most of those frequencies are lousy for hooking your laptop up to Teh Innerwebz, so you can keep 'em. But UHF television, now, that's another story! Heck, there's nothing up there but that horrible over-the-air TV and you can get that stuff on cable. Or satellite. Or from The Phone Company--

That's right. To get you that "free" wireless (you'll still probably have to pay somebody), Uncle Sugar will be taking away some of the free TV you already have. Oh, not entirely; they want to take those sparkly-shiny super clear High-Definition TV pictures (the one you bought a new TV to see) and smash them back down to what's called "standard-definition," like old-time TV with a hint of YouTube, then spit out several channels in a slice of RF the same size as one full HD channel: the same lousy TV you had before the analog shut-down, only now on a great big screen so every flaw is that much bigger! Hooray!

...And which stations will be doing this? Hint: FCC is offering Big! Cash! Rewards! Your local high-dollar network affiliates, they don't need the bucks. But the little independent stations, the guys that run old movies and oddball syndicated shows? Times is, as they say, tough. Your local PBS station may want some more green from the Fed'ral trough, too; you didn't want to see Nova in HD anyway, right?

...Oh, and meanwhile? It turns out 98 percent of the population in the States are already in the coverage area for wireless broadband service.

Government: It giveth what you already have and taketh away what you already enjoy. And gets even that wrong.
* What? The .gov doesn't provide that service? Oooooo, I'm gonna hafta write Maxine Waters and Bernie Saunders about that right now!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Question Of The Day

Why would you name a pinniped "Goodyear?"

So Sweet: Huffies All Huffy Over Atlas Shrugged

It's almost as good as seeing the film: the Usual Suspects, villains, moochers and looters at The Huffington Post are incensed -- vexed! Waxing wroth, even -- that anyone would even dare to turn Rand's best-selling bestseller into a movie.

Heh. I'm already receiving good value and I haven't even bought a ticket yet. It's beneficence, not charity, though inadvertent withal.

Progressivism And The Aristocracy Of Incompetence

I woke up from half-remembered dreams to the TV playing news and a realization that several things that annoy me are actually different aspects of the same thing.

(And I just published that first para. as a teaser.)

What I'm connecting is Progressivism, with its bureaucratization (administrative control bias), long-standing trait of meddling in people's lives to produce so-called "social justice" through progressive taxation and draconian regulation, and that insane kind of "aristocracy" in which people who have only a few skills pride themselves on how little else they are capable of.

It results in a system in which achievement is punished, in which the best return on effort comes from finding the bracket or niche providing the greatest return with the least "bite" from taxation and regulation. It favors narrow specialization and utter incompetence outside it; the "winners" are those with the highest-paid specialties with the best tax breaks and and the fewest skills outside them -- city managers, some attorneys, union officials, lobbyists and similar jobs. The most "progressive" cities have no shortage of meddling, publicly-funded "community activists," winners of the Progressive game.

And those people -- many of them quite innocent, creatures who have grown into the pre-existing niches they have found -- are the natural foe of any libertarian or small-government conservative. And way too many of them are the same blithe boobs who proclaim, "I don't know anything about changing a tire/basic plumbing/my computer," and remark at work that if they do poorly enough at a task they dislike, eventually they won't have to do it. They've found their spot in the ecosystem, their role in the hive; they've dug their rut and will only hate anyone who expects them step out of it.

There ya go: that's what Progressivism encourages.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Florida Carry

Bless the Sunshine State for getting the modern respect for the Second Amendment moving; but being an early adopter means missing some subsequent advances and it's time to fine-tune Florida's laws.

Good folks are working on those laws and they could use your help. That link takes you to Robb Allen's summary and sample letter-to-legislators.

First and worst, Floridians are, like Texans, required to maintain concealment: no open carry. That's not just an issue for them, it's a problem for every CCWer from states with better laws, too, since we're not as used to having to fret about "printing" or the occasional firearm revealed by a sweater riding up or while searching through one's purse.

There's plenty more on the counter -- reforming the laws for colleges and universities, bringing Florida's out of state long-gun purchase limits in line with Federal law, among other items.

Florida Carry is carrying the ball on this one. Help 'em out -- at least pass along these links! Florida's CCW experience showed the antis for the self-panicking dissemblers they are and started the modern armed citizen movement. Let's ensure they aren't left behind.

Atlas Hoists A Film Camera?

Found at Joe's: the trailer for Atlas Shrugged. Holy cow, it looks like they're really doing it. I have to admit, I laughed out loud when I saw the release date. Oh, yeah. Hollywood: they don't all lean left, you know. From what I see in the trailer, some of 'em may've bent over backwards to do this one properly.

...Oh, and for those muttering, "...You could never do that entire book as one movies...," this is only Part One. Hey, it worked for The Lord Of The Rings, didn't it?

Some folks are gonna be finding out who John Galt might be, by and by.

Speaking Of Pink Guns

Bersa actually did it right. It's a "pink" Thunder 380, possibly the the most common of the PPK-inspired handguns and generally good value for money if you're after a small carry piece.

First, they have a reason for the pink gun: breast cancer awareness.

Second, they ship the gun with black grips and pink grips -- if the photo is accurate, the first are what's on it as shipped. (One review says the gun arrived with three sets of grips -- and pink-dot sights).

Third, the gun itself is gun-colored (black). The case it ships in is pink, and just old Barbie pink, not SHOCKING OMG THE GLARE pink or funky-bubblegum pink. Whew!

Still not quite to my taste but a lot more tasteful than the usual frikkin' pink gun.

USSF Lander?

Interesting tidbit from the Hidden Frontier: the old USSF lander design has surfaced, with a plausible cover story.

That's all I've time for this morning! Off to the Skunk Works.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Up Early -- Again

About one week in five, I get to work two early shifts, one of them a half-day of overtime. Poor timing, as tomorrow is the year's first (of four) meets for the Indiana Historical Radio Society and I'm going to be a couple of hours late. But it beats missing the whole thing.

Not a lot of original content for you but a gem of a link, the Abandoned Places photocommunity at LiveJournal. Fascinating, haunting, frequently updated. There are some very talented urban explorers/photographers posting there. One member posted a link to news stories about the Las Vegas Neon Museum -- not quite officially open and barely advertised, they are still getting as much traffic as they can handle!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

On The Road Again

I went to see Mom X yesterday afternoon. After a week back in the hospital, she's in a (different and far better) rehab facility, this one in Noblesville, the next County seat to the North. It's a long drive from the Skunk Works' downtown main campus, but I don't mind long drives.

She's doing much better, despite some annoying and unexpected side-effects. Still pretty weak but definitely getting stronger and starting to feel a bit less weighed down by events. 18 hours in a lousy rehab center was a real mood-breaker but it appears time spent in a good one has a very positive effect.

...And while I don't mind long drives, I do mind freeway drivers, very much. I hang in the right lane with the slow drivers, bumbling along at a mere 5 mph over the limit; the idiots who come charging up behind me at 25 to 30 mph relative, talking on the phone, and slam on their brakes at the last minute scare me silly and the witling who came to a stop -- on the freeway! -- a few cars ahead darned near managed to work synergistically with his blithe-speedster counterpart to accordion a half-dozen cars. I find the freeway terrifying and avoid it whenever possible.

Alas, my night vision isn't what it should be, either. Spending most of my night driving under city streetlights, I'd missed that my car's headlights are aimed too far down; so my trip home, while a little less nerve-wracking, could've been a lot better. At least now I know to get 'em touched up.

And it was a good visit with Mom. Worth the flashes of fear going to and from. Next time, I'll plan my time and route better.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Ever Remembered, Long Forgot

No-one now can tell you much about George Ethan Loughenby, known as one of Britain's finest sculptors in the early 19th Century; his works, often carved in situ on natural rock outcroppings, were so highly regarded that when he began a huge outdoor piece, crowds gathered from the very start and proved so distracting he had to have a high board fence built to keep them at bay.

There was much dismay at this barrier and in a showing of the finest sort of public spirit, the great sculptor relented to the extent of allowing a number of peepholes to be drilled, though which his great work could be glimpsed without his being distracted.

...And it is for that, rather than his wonderful art, that we remember his name; for any time a great wonder is presented, we remember those tiny views, so charitably bored in the fence; and thus we say, "Loughenby Hole."
You'll thank me later. Or not.

Zen Moment

Awake, more-or-less standing and coffee brewing,* I went to the front door to sniff firsthand this single-digit-temperature air the strange people inside my TV were so excited about.

Whoa. Brisk.

From the North, I heard a strange grinding, crunching sound. It was a bit like the icefall several days ago and it was moving closer, growing louder--

A single, small bright light speared the darkness, pursued by a tiny red light: someone on a bicycle zoomed by, crunching on the thin skin of ice in the (mostly) cleared center of the street in front of Roseholme, flashing into view under the streetlight and gone again, a silhouette in the predawn. An Ice Rider.

It's 4° F.


* Jamaican Blue Mountain. In the Chemex. Ooooo, my Mr. Valentine, he is So Fine!

Chaos Becomes Chaotic

It isn't funny. A fire has destroyed floats and thousands of costumes for Rio's Carnival and many of the "schools" will be scrambling like made, trying to replace in a month what took almost a year to make. --I don't know about you, but I look forward to the color and craziness of Mardi Gras and Carnival showing up in the news as a sign we made it through another Winter.

Still, I had to look twice at the Reuters lede, which described the fire as "throwing preparations for Brazil's annual festival of hedonism into chaos." Like it wasn't chaotic already?

Best of luck to the folks in Rio -- and Reuters, too.

Also, "Hedonism into Chaos" might make a darned fine motto for some people I know.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

New Door Handle

In my car -- installed it the other day at lunch. I had broken the inside driver's side door handle one day when the door was frozen and I...tried to push it from the inside. The lock still worked but not the door-unlatching part.

The new one is a Taiwanese copy ($20.00 from Amazon!), shiny black where the old one was matte gray (both mostly plastic). Installation took all of ten minutes and it works like a champ.

Oooo, I'm livin' like the rich folk now! Don't even have to roll down the window to open my car door.


An interesting link or two, new at Retrotechnologist.

He's My Hero

Happy Birthday to Jules Verne, the man who invented the future! (As well as the kind of supervillians James Bond would later fight).

Some of the less-read novels are even more 'stonishing than titles most folks know, including far-out, impossible things like helicopter-flying Middle East terrorists, which we all know could never, ever happen. Er.... (City in the Sahara, so maybe not "Middle East" exactly.)

Monday, February 07, 2011

AOL Is Buying HuffPo!

....Those of us who remember The End Of The Internet As We Knew It, when AOL opened the floodgates and a zillion AOL users came tumbling onto Usenet, e-mail and ftping, may view this as an example of birds of a feather flocking together.

Closer examination finds a quickly-sinking AOL grasping at any lifeline. Swim, Arianna, swim! --Or not.

I'll pop popcorn.

South Secedes Peacefully

Civil War Ends In Compromise
Northern President says "No" to dual citizenship

...No, not here, silly. Sudan.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

The Headline: "MSNBC Now #3 Behind CNN"

Not until the third paragraph did I learn that for the 7 pm time slot, Fox news was leading with 570,000 viewers* to CNN's 275,000 and MSNBC's 190,000: Fox News has more viewers than MSNBC and CNN combined.

And the headline read, "MSNBC audience share shrinking, CNN now second most watched news network."

Gee, I wonder why people find Authorized Journalists a bit...shifty.

(Mind you, I don't watch any of them on on a regular basis: too much commentary, too little news).
* Aged 25 - 54.

A "Dusting" Of Snow

....Is 3 to 7 inches. Broad Ripple received about half a foot of snow, most of it after I managed to miss the bank but get to the Post Office (which means the first group of books has been mailed!)

Speaking of books, I recently read The Windup Girl. Interesting book, though I question one of the underlying assumptions. Very well written.

Saturday, February 05, 2011


See, the French have style. Even for radio transmitter sites! Pretty sure I saw this in a James Bond movie. Or was it Buck Rogers?

(More here, here and here [a monsterpower AM with 6-wire "open" coax to the towers] This is the "transmitter row" for Marseille, which slightly resembles Southern Indiana. An "aha" moment in terms of our local wineries.)

"Don't Tempt The Fates"

When I cleared the walk last night, I was hoping to stay ahead of the predicted snow -- a "dusting" today and plenty more by tomorrow night.

I tempted the fates. What did I get? This:A "dusting" of a couple of inches of snow!

And more on the way. Followed by several days of unusually cold weather.

...But at least I realized the deck was stacked against me. Network news reports from Egypt suggest a deep lack of getting it, as Authorized Journalists continue to cozy up to whatever scraps of the government they can find...and then send back shocked reports when the crowds rough 'em up. I wonder what will happen to the last few when the tide turns and their Official and/or hired guards melt away into the mob? (Tam disagrees with this and tells me Mubarik's agitators are the ones beating up journalists. She's citing sources, even. My comments were based on a single NBC report. --So, "not getting it" may be not realizing when it is time to get most assets out).

Friday, February 04, 2011

Book Update

Between Mom's surgery and the extreme weather, the stack of books I had ready to ship...never made it to the Post Office. The plan is to take them there tomorrow. I apologize for the delay.

Ice Station Roseholme

Tam hacked away at foot-thick ice a bit before mid-day to free up the tree-shaded the side gate; me, I was lazy, and waited until this evening to challenge the front walk. It had been salted before the ice fell and was salted on top today. I took a cheap hatchet and chopped outside the width of the walk to create a fault line, then attacked it with a shovel:("Before" photo here.) Took about a half-hour. How thick is that ice? Oh, 3 to 4 inches.... Whew! Most of the really big slabs shattered when heaved off to the side.

Excellent cheat: I ordered (Amazon next-day delivery: try it via Tam's link) "Yaktrax" slip-over-shoe traction thingies and they really, really work! Not spikes but steel coil springs wound around a stretchy plastic webbing.

Roseholme's Newest Resident

Isn't he a wonder?I put him next to the phone so he can take calls for us -- even the "rocketship" he's holding is actually a pen (a gift from Turk Turon!).

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Ha! Find One Of These At Mal-Wart! sells a genuine UFO detector.* Bit rich for my blood, I'll have to stick to the ol' "calibrated WTFWT?" method or naked eyes and the teeny hairs that stand up on the back of the neck.
* How do we know? 'Cos it doesn't go off for fake ones!

The Missouri Underground

No, not a resistance movement, not strike forces from the Hollow Earth: Subtropolis, an enormous underground business complex. 'Cos there are lot of things better kept under climate-controlled conditions.

...Besides, some place needs to be on the front lines in the fight against invasions from Pellucidar. Might as well be in Missouri: we'll have 'em surrounded in advance!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Oldstream Media: Getting No Respect, Plenty Of Lumps

TV news crews and newspaper reporters used to go just about anywhere at any time, secure in the knowledge that They Were The Media and no one, nohow would mess with them.

It's a different world. The kid that grew up getting news (if any) off the Web and busting gumball machines for spare change, he's grown up. The Media doesn't mean a darned thing to him.

...And a couple of 'em robbed a KGO (TV) news crew the other day, beating the reporter and photographer and getting away with an expensive (and traceable) Panasonic P2 news camera. (How expensive? Think new car prices, a nice new car, especially with a good lens. And you don't even want to know what they get for the proprietary little P2 removable-recording-medium cards.)

Last week in Memphis, TN, another news crew was held up and the cameraman ended up in the hospital. Newsies? You're a pinata now!

In the olden days, "I'm with The News" was a golden key, a magic pass. These days? It's like flashing a roll of high-denomination bills in the wrong bar.

If You Are Reading This

This post originally said:

"(If You Are Reading this:) Roseholme Cottage lost power overnight. I have got to buy a genset big enough to run the furnace and fridge.
"I woke up, had to dig the car out of a huge big icedrift and didn't have time to post anything
"I was just lazy."

I'm certainly lazy enough to leave it. The front and back yards are littered with small, ice-broken limbs and the wind has howled off and on all night. My car looks okay out the window -- it might not even be too iced over.

I may try to get to the store, even. On the other hand, I have a winter storm-sized headache already.

Adventures Of Mom X

My phone started making the text-message "ding!" about 0500: Inattentive Rehab, Inc. had sent Mom to the nearest hospital (about a block away).

Nope, she hadn't slugged her roommate or arranged to have the TV go out the window; her heart rate had gone way up!

So they get her to St. Nearby, where the docs check her out and decide A) she will be staying until the weather is better and B) elevated heart rate was anxiety. Slowed right down once she was in a place with sufficient staff -- or at least staff sufficiently involved in the job.

You'd've been anxious, too. The issues I mentioned earlier and called the place about? They'd just shined me on and done nothing at all. Just as they did when my sister called before me and my brother called after. You don't do this; you do not ignore a patient who cannot even get out of bed unaided. That's way past the loud TV or too-hot room.

When my brother arrived at St. Nearby Hospital, Mom's asked him to find a different place for rehab.

There is another inpatient rehab place not too far away and my siblings and I will be checking it out very carefully. We may have to take shifts being there, just to keep 'em honest.

For now, Mom's in good hands.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Ice Storm & So On

I managed to drive home, 25 mph max through ice pellets like sand. No, more like kitty litter. Which beats freezing rain or even wet snow, but it's strange and treacherous, heaped and drifted, slowly solidifying on the side roads. Still, so much better than a coating of ice -- of which we did get a little earlier in the day. As long as it stays good and cold overnight, things might not be too bad. Might. Of course, the meteorologists of DOOM! DOOM! DOOM! promise a bit more of the same tomorrow.

They moved Mom to a rehab hospital today; I was stuck at work, a dozen miles away. :( Gonna call her next; she may be asleep. It was a lot of effort for her.

Update: So I call her. Mom X is not what you'd call a complainer; oh, given the right circumstances, she'll sigh and barely-tolerate annoying things in a way the clearly indicates This Is Wrong, but that's pretty typical Mom-ing. When it counts, she's a trouper.

...She picks up and there is a TV blaring; Mom asks, "Can you hear that?"
"I can't turn it down. I can't get my roommate to turn it down. I think she's asleep. The nurses are no help."
That's lousy, Mom.
"And it's like 85 in here. Plus I've been waiting for over a half-hour to get someone to answer the call button..."
(Bear in mind that at this point, she's still not walking without major help; so they really had ought not be ignoring that little help-me light unless there's huge major badness elsewhere).
You want me to come up there? No? Well, I'm callin' 'em.

I called 'em. Got the Chief Nurse in charge, who implied Mom's roomie was...problematic. She promised to Take Action and said she'd try to get one or other moved.

I'll be following up. Do they really want me riled at 'em? I can think of a whole lot of reasons why they shouldn't. I'm real persistent. Oh yeah. Plus I'll sic Tam on them.

Things That Should Not Be In Your Bug-Out Bag

The topic is on my mind; we all got the "Bring everything you'll need for two days away from home" memo this afternoon and, unusually, my Bug-Out Bag isn't packed.

(If you are seeing this, I either lost power overnight [Not yet! RJB, 7:02 am] or decided to go in early. Possibly even both).

So, what ought you not have in your bug-out bag?

Hand grenades
A jar of live eels
A live squid in a wicker basket
Hydrofluoric acid
Low-melting-point chocolate
A brown paper bag full of ice cubes
A grass skirt*
A shotgun in 10-ga or greater with barrel(s) 6" or shorter. There's just too much explaining when you have to get the broken wrist set.
Bar solder (2 lbs. or more)
Glass bottles of anything
A can of mercury
Raw meat
Socks with holes in them
Rodents of any sort (make 'em walk!)
Campaign literature
A lit candle

YMMV, but remember, pack safe! And pack light. It can be a long walk to the next bus stop.
Feel free to make your own suggestions for the list.
* Unless bugging out in Hawaii, especially near tourists.