Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Conversations With A Cat

Rannie is allowed on my desk; after nearly twenty years of various cats napping on or behind the monitor, how could I not. However, I often eat breakfast in front of the screen and Ms. Rannie struggles mightily with her impulses, staring at the plate like a fashion model eying a box of chocolates. Often one stealthy paw will start to reach out, closer, closer, while she darts glances at me to see if I'm paying attention.

Me (putting a hand out to block, which of course she smooths on): "Anh! Rannie, no."

Rannie: "Wuhrmiiiooow!" [Aw, c'mon, you haven't even touched that stuff for the last fifteen seconds!]

Me: "No, Rannie, that's my breakfast. You already had yours."

Rannie (pushing harder against my hand): "Wrmiiieeeeeee!" [It was kibble. Eww. Want yours!]

Me (now pushing hard enough she's about to have to leap off the desk): "No! Curried eggs are not for cats!"

Rannie (as she jumps down and does a 180): "Riaaaow!" [Bird's eggs! It's exactly what cats should eat!]

Me: "Cat, prove me your kind invented even the frying pan, let alone cooking, and you're on."

Rannie (jumping gracefully back onto the desk, attention on my plate): "Mmmmroooo!" [That's your job, monkey-girl. Eggses! WANT!]

Rinse, lather, repeat. I've tried growling at her but she just looks at me like I've gone loopy.

Meanwhile, Huck spent the morning alternating between:

A) Rolling on his back, grabbing at his own tail, which (of course) flips the other way. He follows, looking like a giant woolyworm trying to flip right side up, faster and faster until he springs up, looking surprised.

B) Hunting Rannie as if she was some kind of oversize, pointy-eared tortoiseshell piney squirrel. (The pineys have non-bushy tails; poor things look like one of their parents went and married a rat!) She runs from this, of course, and Huck has to give chase. (If I could train him to go after stag or fox, I'd get rich!)

C) Plopping down in the middle of the floor and gazing regally around at his domain. He is serenely confident that, as the only male in the house, he is In Charge. I've tried explaining to him that it doesn't work that way even for an all-cat population, but he won't believe me.*

If they both hunted my breakfast, I would probably lose out every morning. As it is, I can count on him to help distract her.
*I'm not even sure I do. Based on the behavior of strays in my old neighborhood, while small, matrilocal communities do form, with the Best Mommy in charge -- oldest with the most offspring -- the toms had their own range and hierarchy. A wandering knight would show up, adopt the little cat-community in the back yard and fight off all comers, but they tended to patrol the far marches most of the time. The tom's range might include multiple little households, some of which hunted and played outside the area the tom claimed. This arrangement doesn't have a "boss" of either gender in total control of the whole thing. Complicated, though it does make character motivations in C. J. Cherryh's "Chanur" books easier to follow.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday, Paid Holiday

Sunday was Memorial Day; today's just the semi-official start of summer.
Tam points out that Monday actually was Memorial day; I didn't pay enough attention when I did my homework. This means I did my memorializing on the wrong day, too.

I goofed off: slept in, had a nice bath -- well, semi-nice, the tub at Roseholme is on the short and shallow side (I'd install a big clawfoot tub in the basement if I could figure out how to fit it in).

Then I Actually Got Some Things Done, like trim mowing with the weedwhacker, laundry and replacing the lamps and rectifier/regulator on my motorscooter (more work than you'd think, since the windscreen and top of the "headset" (instrument panel in the handlebars) have to come off to do the headlight and instrument lights -- I seem to have been shipped two less than I needed, so I left off the high beam and fuel gauge lamps -- and swapping out the regulator requires taking out the battery and removing a sturdy bracket, which mounts the starting solenoid and regulator. Installed the new battery strap (hooray! I've had to use little bungee cords instead for years) and a fancy chrome headlight surround for pretty. Also the old one was loose.

Took the scooter around the block and it was okay; ran by Locally Grown Gardens and found the shift linkage (looooong cables, this being a classic scooter: you twist the left grip to shift) felt a little stiff. But not too bad, so I made a run to Kroger for cat litter and other necessities. (Linkage loosened up but I may take the headset apart again and check things are properly arranged.)

Not too bad, though a guy turned in after me at the parking lot and squealed his brakes when I slowed more abruptly than he expected. --My fault, he wasn't signalling and I foolishly took him at his word. I have some relearning to do, all the habits and reflexes that improve the odds on two wheels in a four-wheel world; there are 2152 miles on the Chetak and this year accounts for about two of them.

Returned from the Market and started charcoal for a feast: burgers, roasted corn, salad, chocolate milk. Charbroiled burgers on toasted rye, with coarse Dijon, chili sauce and thin slices of tomato and onion: heaven! The roasted corn-on-the-cob (cleaned, buttered and grilled in its own dampened shuck) was ambrosia and an herb salad with plenty of carrots and red bell pepper capped it off. Ate too much and watched Bill Maher play true to type -- a horse's patoot -- in an old Max Headroom episode.

Not too bad for a day off, even if I did manage to get possibly a bit too much sun on my face: suncreened everywhere but, confident my facial moisturizer had an adequate SPF. It doesn't.

Music: Stu Brown Gets It

Hi. I'm Roberta X and I'm a fan of Raymond Scott.

--So are you, probably, if you ever enjoyed animated shorts (no, no, not that kind, the movies); his work is used so extensively (in everything from Bugs Bunny to The Oblongs) that you can't avoid it. Given his success at doing what his 1930s bosses claimed was impossible, writing music most people liked the first time they heard it, you wouldn't want to. (Even Rush quotes a Scott tune).

The best examples of his pre-electronic work are his own recordings of his band. An awful lot of his compositions* deliberately quote natural sounds -- a ticking clock, seagulls and buoys, an auctioneer, steam engines at least twice -- and it's not an easy feat. Other times, he's creating the sounds of things more fantastical: dancing wooden Indians (yes, cigar-store statues of Native Americans, who certainly ought to get a night off now and then), water bubbling in a cannibal's pot, ghosts celebrating New Years Eve. This stuff is hard to play; you can get all the notes right, be right on the beat, and still miss the sound.

Otherhandedly, the recordings Scott supervised are decades old; most precede magnetic tape. The noise floor is high and the dynamic range limited. Transient response is slow and tends to "grit." Oh, they are excellent work for the day and have been remastered with affection and respect, eminently listenable.

--But there've been few modern recordings that capture the elusive Raymond Scott sound; the man drove his musicians remorselessly, knowing precisely what he was after. Technical excellence will take you a long way but it's not enough alone.

With that for background, I'm very pleased to tell you that Stu Brown's Raymond Scott Project gets there. Maybe it's just Edison's 90%/10% formula or the plain willingness to play it until their eyes bleed. Maybe they're just that much better. But for whatever reason, here's a band that knows what live steam sounds like, that doesn't flinch from dancing mummies, and got it all down in digital storage.

Majorly recommended.
* Composed, according to those who were there, on the the band itself, not on paper. This is a little rough on the musicians but Scott's notion was that, at least until the composition had taken final form, a written score got in the way, causing all involved to defer to the map instead of the territory, the abstract symbols rather than the real sound. When a Julliard grad says that, he's not expressing a mere quirk or whim and the results he got prove him out.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

She's Baaaack!

Have I mentioned Planet Karen has gone active again, with new work that reminds me of Eisner? Forsooth. And she's even dreamed up the most terrifying crossover imaginable!


(Also, if I could pick anyone to illustrate I Work On A Starship? Her. Mind you, I still want Robb Allen to do the cover graphics.) Link

Decoration Day

It's Memorial Day, Dad. My birthday was yesterday; Mom's was a week ago, the same day you died. I drove by your gravesite today, too sleepy to stop, and thought again of you.

You didn't fall in uniform but I think you fell in battle, fighting your balky, unreliable body and a mind gone hazy in patches, so much so you did your best to be affable to visitors, even your kids; hid the worry away for only Mom to see. We knew you were still in there, the agile, quick-witted Dad; still there, looking out, stuck.

Mom says she made you morels the night before you died. One good thing, one last joy; she says you did enjoy the treat, too, present in the moment.

You slipped away before you left, a little at a time. We'd spoke the week before and you were....distant. Friendly but as if talking into a wind, facing a too-bright sunset, unsure who it was on the other end of the line. I missed you then.

I miss you now. Did I ever really know you? I knew my Dad: bigger than life, looming over the horizon of my life. Maybe that's all of their parents children ever know. By the time we meet as peers, we're not who we were.

But Dad? You are remembered. All of you I ever knew, from the Daddy who guided my steps to the father whose steps I guided: the memories are still there.

That much is left.

Tomorrow, I'll stop by.

(My Dad served in the U.S. Naval Reserve, originally in the gunpowder section of a battleship turret, where he hurt his back pretty badly. Ended up his hitch as ship's librarian and -- as near as I can figure -- studying for radioman. When I was little, he said it was "a powder room accident," and wouldn't explain. I thought he'd slipped in the shower! Of course, he also claimed the job of the USNR was to collect, sort and safely store the nation's reserve supply of bellybuttons and darned near had me convinced, too.)

No, No, NO! Indy 500 Trivia

It is, dag-gone it, the Marmon Wasp, not the "Mormon" Wasp.

While I am entirely sure that the LDS church has found within its ranks a statistically-likely number of race car drivers and designers, that pointy-tailed car was from Marmon. They're still around.

Driver Ray Harroun was the Motor Speedway's first solo entry; all other cars had riding mechanics and to accomodate safety worries (OMG! He has no one to nag him!), he had a rearview mirror installed. Commonly credited as the first user, almost certainly the first race car driver to use one...but idea had been written up in a tech magazine some years before. So he's not the inventor.

I don't so much mind it when they get the latter wong; it's a debatable point. But sheesh, it sure does grate to hear talking heads and J. Random Strangers refer to The Mormon Wasp. (Just exactly how likely is it that any Mormon, ever, would call a yellow-and-black, stinger-tailed car anything but a bee, anyhow? C'mon, people, how hard is this? Have you not seen any Utah iconography?)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dream? Nightmare?

I have got to get more sleep -- otherwise things like this happen when I sit down to write:

It's Too Early For This

When I walked into the control room, John M----, the Star Pilot for this Jump, had a steaming mug sitting on the console in front of him and was methodically dunking what I took to be a teabag. It didn't seem to have a tag on the end of the string but the sodden lump on the other end of the string was about the right size and color.

The Jump Co-ordinator and Preset Tech were staring at him in horror, their eyes following each slow dunk as if hypnotized.

John lifted the teabag a little higher and it twisted at the end of the string, suddenly no teabag at all, curling up towards his hand to reveal bright, mad-looking eyes and a tiny mouth filled with sharp teeth. "Oh, no you don't" he exclaimed, hastily returning it to the hot water. He looked over at the producer. "There's nothing like the smell of a wet mouse in the morning," he said, as if that were explanation enough.

Lifting the creature back out of the mug, he gave it a narrow look. "That ought to learn you," he told it. "Now stay...out...of...my...lunch!" On the last word, he flipped it toward the door, narrowly missing me. It landed in the hallway, bounced once, and tore off down the hall like -- well, like a mouse who'd just been waterboarded and wanted to get as far away as possible, as quickly as possible.

And people wonder why I avoid the early shift!


It's only a nightmare. The mouse problem in the Tech Core has never been that bad.

Plus, you can't have open containers in the Jump Bridge, especially not when Lupine is bumping her way in and out of normal spacetime.

Happy Birthday To Meeee!

So, you search Technorati for blogs dealing with "science of mind" and who's the number one result?

Me, of course:Heh. Some gift!

Friday, May 27, 2011

There's A 2:24 a.m.?

Why yes, yes there is. Plenty to do at home and work this morning, so I'm posting something just to get the day started.

Thanks to Leeanne (and maybe even me), the "chap-hop" meme seems to be spreading. Good! Professor Elemental and arch-rival Mr. B (the other Mr. B!) are good, harmless fun, though one does dread that they may themselves come to fisticuffs if ever they share a stage.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fourth Amendment Protest Lightly Covered

At noon yesterday, Hoosiers rallied on the Statehouse grounds, protesting the recent "no right to resist unlawful police entry" ruling from our State Supreme Court ("60% dimwit by weight!")

AP had a bit about the protest on their wires that most media ran as sent; stories on most media websites weren't even updated for versions timestamped after the event. One local station sent a reporter and a cameraman; the Indy Fishwrap & Steam-Powered News covered it in a little more detail. I'd like to think the others did too, but there's no proving that with a Google search.

I guess it's not real news when Wookies do it? (Yeah, just keep on thinkin' that; this issue has legs way out of proportion to its actual effects).

"Hundreds" reportedly at the rally, not bad for a Facebook flash-crowd on a work day with storms forecast. I was sorry to see they spoke of removing Justice Steven David but seem to have given his fellow Constitutional criminals a pass -- all three need to be replaced with folks who won't attempt to rewrite protected rights.

Even the winning attorney, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, wants the court to think again; he never asked for the ruling and would just as soon the hot potato went back to the hands that baked it.

Buy A Wheelbarrow: Hyperinflation Forecast

Unhappy thoughts:

"The [...] crises of the last four years only have been precursors to the coming Great Collapse: a hyperinflationary great depression. Such will encompass a complete collapse in the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar; a collapse in the normal stream of U.S. commercial and economic activity [...]."

Read Claire Wolf's quick take or the whole article from Shadow Statistics. The indicators do not look good; anyone who's been buying groceries this Spring knows the prices are higher every week, while the Feds and The Fed keep claimin' prosperity is right around the corner.

Yeah, it is, holding a rusty .32 revolver and gettin' ready to ask for whatever's in your pockets.

I'm pretty sure there's no hidin' in the basement until this one's blown over.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Stormy Weather

It's not like Joplin -- at least not so far and I hope it stays that way. But we have had some nasty weather in Indiana and there's a a big line of storms that has just crossed the border with Illinois, very angry-red.

The Weather Channel shows a triple threat for my zip code right now: Tornado Watch, Flash Flood Watch and -- OMG! -- Very High Pollen Level. Hmmm. At least they list it last.

The last batch of storms just missed Roseholme Cottage. Radar shows another line of storms from Joliet, Ill. to about the middle of Louisiana, with the fattest, meanest-looking part running from Joliet to Evansville. We're not gonna dodge this one unless it gives up and lies down to sleep and that seems unlikely.

So I guess I better put my preparedness luggage where my big, advice-givin' mouth has been and stand ready to bravely flee to the basement if circumstances warrant.

Update: Broad Ripple didn't get the worst of it yet again, just a nice, strong, loud storm, heavy rain and a rattle of hail, after which it hammered and slammed away to the next crossroads. Other parts of the state, not so lucky; there are (as a single example from likely many) videos and stills of a genuine tornado out of Bedford, if the damage it left behind wasn't signature enough.


At the Broad Ripple Art Fair On the Hidden Frontier.
How'd you like to have to peel one of these off the hull? Vacuum Mites!"Mites." Yeah. Three feet long. Not common but usually found in (where else?) Linden/Lyndon's planetary system. Supposedly an inert, "preserved" specimen. I don't trust it.

Back on Earth, the propbike!Does it work? Is it dangerous? Two questions with but one answer: "Gee, I sure hope so!"

"Lines I'll Never Live Down" Dep't

See, I own a nice, classic Bud 19" equipment cabinet, but it's seven feet tall and the basement at Rosholme is 6' 10" in the ham shack corner. So when I saw a six-foot version at Dayton, I exclaimed....

Turk tells the tale.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Moosic! Moosic! Mooosic!

Have I mentioned chap-hop? Leeanne found a rich vein of the stuff; if you haven't seen it yet, do have a look.

...Unless you're afraid of what rap might've looked liked if the Victorian Brits had invented it....

Breakfast Date

...Someone's stopping by for breakfast in less time than it is prolly gonna take me to finish getting ready. So I hope you'll 'scuse me 'til later. Maybe lunchtime?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Look At My Dinner...And Despair

Big ol' green salad with bell peppers. heirloom tomatoes, carrots, sure. But the star of the show? Morels fried in butter, sharing the plate with a slice of panchetta and a small slab of Gruyere cheese: Mmmmmmm!

So good, Tam cleared her plate, asked if I'd bought the delightful fungi nearby, and went and bought another bag. Yeah, they were cooked up and enjoyed in short order.

Even better with good company: Turk Turon, Tamara K and Tam's new Red Vs. Blue DVDs!

"Look Upon My Works, Ye Mighty..."

...And prepare.

Unless you bunkered up and pulled the bunk over to block the door, by now you know that Joplin, Missouri has nearly been wiped off the map; video from the aftermath bears an eerie resemblance to Hiroshima or post-tidal-wave coastal Japan.

Amid the wreckage -- shattered homes, crumpled cars, a hospital turned to instant ruins -- plenty of survivors. Most people made it through.

If you're much minded of what it takes to pull through disaster, this kind of event presents a challenge: how do you prepare for events too sudden to evade, that reduce your transportation to scrap metal and your home to firewood?

Part of dealing with it is to already have some visceral inkling of the plain fact that forces so vast do exist and they can touch you. --Persons of particularly deep and secure faith generally do well with disasters because they've already made their peace with this notion; practitioners of extreme sports come up on the idea from the other side but it's got to be a help.

As a practical matter, this kind of event is a reminder that a "Bug-Out Bag" can just as easily become a Bug-In Bag, grabbed as you head to the basement or root cellar. Too, it's a reminder to ensure your emergency supplies are stored in as safe and secure manner as possible -- and that you should be planning what you'd do if you had to do without.

The survivors of Joplin are up and about, doing what they can for themselves and others because they have to. Our turn may yet come; some version of it will come to each of us and when it does, we've got a choice: face it dazed, with empty hands and an emptier head or with some awareness of what can happen and what we can do afterward.

Your best, most flexible survival tool is between your ears. Everything else you may accumulate is useless without it.

(And the quote is correctly, "Look on my works..." for a proper ten-syllable line).

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Recap: My Weekend

What I Did On My Non-Vacation by little Bobbi X, age...well, never you mind.

Friday: up at 12:30 am.
Work 4:30-9:00 am.
Dayton Hamvention round-trip and return, 9:00am - 9:30 pm, with sunburn.

Saturday: Up at 0600, brekky nineish at Zest (As Seen On [cable] TV, and should be even more so), a nice bike ride up to the Broad Ripple Art Fair (wait'll y'see the art I bought!) where we spent most of the day, home to enjoy hickory-grilled filet mignon, a splendid green salad (with heirloom tomatoes, brimming with flavor and vitamins) and papaya for supper. Nodded off some and fell asleep early.

Today, up at 0600 again, bicycled to Good Morning Mama's (just fruit and an English muffin for me), off to Marion County Fish and Game where we each got in several magazines and then a pouring thunderstorm rolled through, dumping something like a 1/2" of rain in fifteen minutes and rolled right back out; but by then it was time to reclaim my car and prepare for the BlogMeet.

The rain looked like perhaps it was going to hold off, so we bicycled there. A good crowd there: Joanna, Old Grouch, Tam, The Jack, Mad St. Jack, Turk Turon and yr. crspndt. Food was good and the conversation was wide-ranging and excellent! As we sat beneath the awning, it rained again but by the time everyone departed, the sun was back out for our trip home.

Some three days! 'Pon our return, Turk and I investigated The Tewb: still 500 channels of Not So Much, but we found something. I kept nodding off (even in the middle of an alien invasion!) and by golly, I'm gonna toddle off to dreamland about as soon as I finish this post.

Which would be now.

Mitch Bows Out

Governor Daniels has announced he is not running for President. Did the recent Indiana State Supreme Court decision have anything to do with it? Tam says, "I doubt it." Mitch says he doesn't want to put his family through the campaign, never mind the stress and upheavel had he won the job.

It's a point. The campaign's got to be like touring with a rock band (only less dope. Well, maybe less) and sex licit and illicit (ditto) but even more stress. And the reward for winning is, you get the worst job in the world. Sure, you can nap or take days at a time to go play golf; all of it behind a wall of security, none of it more the than seconds away from communication at, as they love to intone, "...the highest levels..." which really means that by the time it reaches you, whatever it is has been well and truly fouled up. So I don't blame him. I don't know why anyone with more sense than a June bug would actually want to be President of the United States.

Which explains quite a lot, really. It certainly accounts for the things found swimming in the candidate pool and what crawls out when the counting is completed.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Trip Down The Monon Trail

Headed south from the Broad Ripple Art Fair, we encounter...a busker!

Pretty nice sound, if you ask me. Video shot hand-held aboard my bicycle.

Good Morning To You, Good Morning To You

Woke up to Tam's cat, Random Numbers ("Rannie Wu") , being all lovey-dovey. This is not her usual attitude to me....unless I am sleeping in a nice warm bed on a coolish morning, in which case The Cat Loves Me.

I like the smoothing and purring but, Rannie being Rannie, she also chews on my hair and grooms the pine headboard, the latter a big, sounding-board slab of wood: "rrrrasssp, rrassp..." Unnerving!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Back From Dayton Hamvention

...Completely wiped out. Gone. I picked up some first-rate geekery, which will show up here and there.

For gunnies: we started out by seeing a guy on a hammed out truck at a rest stop with ARRL, SkyWarn and Indiana State Rifle & Pistol Association stickers on the back window; the Massachussetts-plated one in the parking filed at Hara Arena with ARRL and NRA stickers was hear-warming, as where the two Lee reloading presses we saw for sale; but the icing on the cake was the vehicle with Maryland M16A1 tags.

...And that's without lookin' very hard!

Huge live-as-it happened photoblogging is ready for your viewing pleasure at Turk's place! I'll have more -- after I have slept. Today started around 0100. In the morning.

Odds, Ends And Major Geekitude

- Reports are that hundredsof death threats have been received by the justice who wrote the majority opinion in Indiana's "no right to resist unlawful police entry" decsion (that would be Justice To Be Voted Out In 2012 Steven H. David). This is not unexpected, but both impolite and foolish: we can, should and will vote him out in 2012, sending him home in ignominious defeat to ponder on Third Rails In American Politics. Why waste the effort and collateral risk of dealing with him any other way? Plus, you can only humiliate statist jerks and their addled philosophy if they are alive and fumin'. Still breathing and sent down for idiocy, they are cautionary examples to their would-be overreaching brethren and cistern.

Let us not forget his concurring justices, as well: Randall Shepard and Frank Sullivan, Jr.; when they show up on the "shall [insert idiot's name here] be retained?" ballot, vote 'em out good and hard; make sure all your friends vote them out, too. Signs and bumper stickers wouldn't hurt, either. Your home is your castle; they need to be chastised for trying to make it otherwise.

- Today, Deus volente and high water permittin', Turk Turon and I will embark for the Dayton Hamvention at 0800 or shortly after. I'm goin' into work at cow-yawn and scurrying to do the needful before departure. This is probably going to be the best weather of the weekend -- I'm a-gonna nap on the way there, take my B vitamins and hope for the best!

- I already have a head start on the geekery: after years of dithering, I purchased a very elderly Bird 43 wattmeter from an online seller from whom I have bought things for work. It's not pretty (you can buy really nice ones from the guy but you'll pay more) but guaranteed to be working. This gadget has been the standard workhorse for everyday RF measurement from medium frequencies all the way up through UHF to millimeter waves since about the day after it was introduced; you'll be seeing it written up over at Retrotechnologist, by and by. The basic design is genuinely clever, a particularly clear version of how to turn a pretty band-specific measurement tool into a highly-flexible, wide range instrument.

I'd write more but it's shower time. Back to the salt mines!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Real Coffee, A Dollar A Day

Y'know the "buy in bulk and save" enticers you ignore? Sometimes it's true. I received a huge bag of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee (IMO, the best there is) about five months ago, came to the end of it and looked for more from the source. For an eight-cup pot every morning (and two on Sundays), it works out to about a buck a day! Fresh-ground. Brewed in a proper Chemex.*

And how much are you paying for one cup at Famous Name Coffee Shop? Heh!

I take mine with cream(er) and sugar -- the latter, the real thing. (One of the bigger brands makes their own cola!)
*Or, sometimes, a vacuumatic. Why? 'Cos either one makes great coffee, fast.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hahahaha! Tam Didn't Know!

Tonight, Turk and I returned from a delightful Yat's dinner to find Tam ruefully shaking her head: "We'll have to change the BlogMeet! The Rapture is that Saturday!"

I thought she was already aware of that -- and never you mind that the same guy has already predicted dates for the event that have come and gone.

Carl Bussjaeger's running a poll on people's plans for 21 May. I may go to the Broad Ripple Art Fair; there should be no shortage of artists and attendees either way.

The BlogMeet is still on for the 22nd. If you have to miss it 'cos of bein' Raptured, well, I'm going to look on that, in my terrible, terrible way, as another splendid exercise of the freedom protected by the Bill of Rights. I'm hardly equipped to make such a prediction, after all, and I'm not going to schedule around it. I'm sure not gonna argue about it with short-timers.

Mis-directed Person Of The Gun

(Update: 19 May 2011 5:31 a.m. Ammo-Net fixed their People of the Gun link to me sometime overnight; I've fixed my link to them. Hurrah!)

(Update: 10:19 p.m. Still wrong. They tell me they're trying. Is it that much harder to edit than changing links on a blog? But I want this to work. I don't bear them any ill-will, I just want the quid pro quo.)

Some time after an online ammunition seller picked up Alphecca's "People of the Gun" website -- and good on 'em for the effort -- I discovered they'd reverted to an older link for me, one that goes to an out-of-date MySpace page.

I don't know why, it had been changed long before at the original page. But there it was. Mentioned it the last time they gigged me about my link to their PotG page, which actually points at the old site and gets redirected. Last time I checked prior to yesterday, it hadn't been changed.

Yesterday, I received another letter from their hard-working marketing type[1] requesting I fix the link, kind of paraphrasing my morning's post, blithely ignoring that they do not link to my present blog. I checked to see if they'd fixed their link to me, nope, and snarked back, proposing if they'd fix their link, I'd fix mine.

Haven't heard a word. As of this morning, the link is still wrong.

The offer stands, but looky here, I generally do not link to products I neither use nor long for. I don't know if the online ammunition retailers are good or not, 'cos I usually buy in bulk at gun shows from known-reliable low-overhead outfits and if I run low between times, I hit Gander Mountain in person or a local gun store. So these guys are using my face, figure and Star BKS barbeque gun[2] to promote a product and service I know nothing about, doing it without an actual link to my actual blog and then bugging me to clean up my link to them.

I have not heard any complaint about the product; their website is well laid-out and the prices look good. They did good when they kept PotG online and I don't begrudge 'em banner ads on that page to pay for it. I've let the whole thing just pass without comment because of that -- until yesterday's friendly reminder.

Okay, because We Are Such Pals, since you read this blog you don't link to, I'll make you a new offer: Fix the link or lose it. Fair?
1. In fairness, I should point out that salesmen generally affect me like a red flag does a bull. The "sales engineers" I often deal with are to blame, as most of them are useless as engineers and completely unable to grasp that the kind of hardware and software I deal with is readily evaluated on a price/performance basis, not by shininess, buttons and lights or how charming the sales engineer might be. It is endlessly frustrating. Alas, my learned reaction does a disservice to the rare few who are genuinely friendly and knowledgeable,

On the Web, we are very often trading intangibles for intangibles, eyeballs-on-ads for eyeballs-on-a-blog or selling for pennies on the mouse-click and that's fine as long as everyone involved is okay with the swap. I'm not okay trading ammo ads for a dead MySpace page.

2. More of a formal-events gun, as it isn't engraved but has a lovely pearl-gray anodized frame and shiny, chrome-plated slide and small parts.

Decisions, Decisions

Rush out the door to pick up a sealed motorcycle battery and charge it in a hurry so I can ride the Yamaha to work and not have to contend with parking a block away 'cos of some client event? Or beg Tam for a lift to/from, or just grit my teeth and do the difficult thing like a grown-up?

(Plan D: ride my bicycle! But that would be teh suxxor if it rains, also calls for tripping through a bad neighborhood, "unarmed." So to speak. Plus if it's a tough day, it'd be a super tough ride home, uphillish all the way.)

But geesh, I hate the long walk from the temp lot. It's not that great an area, which is why Skunk Works Main Campus has a high, bobwired (as we say) security fence and cardreader gates with cryptic warnings. ("AVISO: SHOGGOTH IN USE!" "PORTAL MAY OPEN RANDOMLY. STAND CLEAR" "THAT WAS MY LUNCH, DARN YOU." Heck, it looked like axle grease to me.)...Which randomness reminds me, if the fast food industry only exists to tempt us with the sugar and fat we crave, how come my chilled mixture of brown sugar and butter has never taken off as a snack food? Heat it up, stir it up, cool and enjoy. Everything you long for and no annoying healthy extras! Oh, well. Maybe it needs lard.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hello? Is The Caller There?

Ever have one of those mornings? Can't pull any of the threads together?

This one's mine. So, hey, life gives you lint, make dust bunnies, right?

"Dust bunnies" is the word of the day: Turk Turon is rumored to be arriving tonight and Roseholme Cottage is in its usual state, looking something like a post-apocalyptic library. I'm tellin' ya, if Civilization does go "Thud" all of a sudden? Tam and I will have plenty to read between fighting off the hordes and/or trying to contact other survivors via radio. And we'll be able to knit warm, comfy sweaters from dust bunnies for the winter. Simulating any degree of organization is...a struggle.

Steven Hawking's latest pronouncement on The Afterlife has riled some folks. I'm not sure why -- it's right up there with the Pope's opinions about particle physics: interesting but not Expert Opinion. (This is Fame Syndrome: just 'cos someone is well-known for something, even if it is major cleverness, they're still only qualified to make sweeping statements in a few areas -- if even that many; anything else they comment on, it's just another unwashed opinion. But their public tends to forget. In many cases, so does the Famous Person).

Scooter repair parts have begun to arrive. Two of the best sources have proven to be Pride of Cleveland and Javacycles; with Bajaj out of the motor scooter business, these (and other) former dealers, along with the former importer, still provide parts support. (Java is still selling Bajaj Scooters, even!) Highly recommended. I doubt I'll have time to fix my scooter this week -- planning on it for next week.

Y'know that "image enhancement" trick in crime shows, where grainy, low-rez security footage is "enhanced" into readability via Cheap Storytelling Shortcut Tricks? It's mostly nonsense; video doesn't work that way. You can only read things a little past the smallest-original-pixel level and doing that takes the human eye and human guesswork. --Except astronomers now have a version of this kind of enhancement that really works! "Lucky imaging" lets them back out atmospheric scattering and "stack the deck" to extract information buried below the noise. There are still pixel-size limits but it's an interesting technique and has probably already come home to roost in ways we won't soon be hearing about (other than in heavily-redacted responses to FOIA requests).

Those are only the loose ends I had time for. Y'all be good, now. No pogroms against the infidel without you followin' WWE rules, okay? And no foreign objects; if it's not U.S.-made, you can't hit one another with it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

May BlogMeet!

Yes! It's aw-feeeesh-ull! --Cos there's, like, a poster an' stuff, see?You may be wondering where is the Brew Pub? Follow the link!

Free typo included -- ask for it by name.

Not To Keep Flogging A Judicial Horse

Or even the back half of one, but for sheer irony and/or outright deceit, video of the announcement of Justice Steven David's appointment is hard to beat.

Governor Daniels -- make that "former Presidential hopeful Daniels" -- covers himself with FAIL as he praises the man to the high heavens and assures the public the new Justice "...will interpret, rather than invent, our laws."

Not exactly.

I Work On A Starship, Mildly Updated

...Added another "Easter egg" link to the current chapter of I Work On A Starship and cleaned up some of the dialog -- it's really difficult to capture Edger dialect, even when you've listened to as many of 'em as I have.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"You Can't Flush A Call!"

Ah, but if only...

I laughed aloud.


The Indy 500 season is upon us here in...well, Indianapolis, what'd you think? The track (much larger than most such venues) becomes a kind of temporary city with a population density tighter than Hong Kong and the independent town of Speedway around it doubles in size; hotels are filled throughout the metro and a good time is had by nearly all.

If you're a bad guy, it's a target-rich environment. (Me, I just start hating the traffic and longing for the month to be over, but I'm not all that sociable)

So what's the Department of Homeland inSecurity doing? Glad you asked! They're running a simulated earthquake drill. Sixty miles away, drawing in first responders and second-guessers from two-thirds of Indiana's counties plus their peers from several nearby states. In the middle of nowhere, all deeply involved and very busy for the entire week. ...I guess we'll know where they are if we need 'em....

The White House is running this clambake. That's some plannin'!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Vote Out Justice Steven H. David!

Hoosiers, your chance is coming!

Quick read: These esteemed legal lights -- shining or dim as they may actually be -- are appointed for ten-year terms and are required to bail at age 75; but they have one more hurdle to slither under: in the first General Election after completion of the Justice's second year takin' up space in office, he's up for a retention vote.

Our Boy was elevated 18 October 2010: unless I missed count, he's on the bubble in 2012. Please vote to dump him.

(I nearly always vote to remove Justices. Why keep 'em around? Give some other poor sod with a law degree a chance to make a mess of things.)

Update: Bad cases make bad law. There's also some noise that this will be a huge negative for the presidential aspirations of Mitch Daniels; while he's not accountable for the pool of judges he has to pick from, thanks to the elitist "Missouri Plan" used here, a bill was passed prior to his latest appointment to the Court that would have changed that. Mitch vetoed it. Not exactly good evidence for any ability see how all the pieces interact, if you ask me.

Frikkin' State Supreme Court

...Argument over the recent decision continues here at Roseholme. This is another reason Justice Steven David must be impeached, 'cos I want to eat breakfast in peace and harmony.

The debate is not over what the ruling said or that it needs to be overturned ASAP; it's over how much to read into it:
"Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer's entry.

"'We believe ... a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence,' David said. 'We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest
Emphasis mine. Yes, please note that ancient, inescapable wisdom: if the police have to come for you, they're bringin' a whuppin'. And it's not because they're thugs -- most aren't -- or that they like it -- most don't; it's because their job is to get control of the situation and get the principals off to where things can be resolved without swapping fisticuffs or hot lead (etc.). In that statement, the judge is simply indulging in a bit of realpolitik.

What got under my skin like scabies was this: "David said a person arrested following an unlawful entry by police still can be released on bail and has plenty of opportunities to protest the illegal entry through the court system." Which means while the judge recognizes some right to be free inside your own skull, your person may indeed be hauled off; and as for your property, why, Mr. Impeach Justice Steven David appears to be no less than a follower of Proudhon. And heavens forfend you should not be able to hire a sharp lawyer!

Professor Ivan Bodensteiner, Valparaiso University School of Law: "...[I]f the police act wrongfully in entering your house your remedy is under law, to bring a civil action against the officer." Help me out here: "...your remedy...is to bring a civil action...." means it's on your dime, doesn't it? Or the ICLU/ACLU, if you smell interesting enough to them; and otherwise, well, tough, sucker, buy yourself a new door, a new dog, a new cat, and replacements for all the things folks removed while you were locked up and your house wasn't, plus hire yourself a lawyer to sue the Local Police all the way up the appeals process -- if you can. Pretty thin damn' shield for your "right [...] to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures," isn't it?

(Though I do wonder if Mr. Impeach Justice Steven David doesn't take the ellipsis "of the people" from my Fourth Amendment quote as meaning a collective rather than an individual right and thus reads it as protecting the "persons, houses, papers and effects" of the State from the like of you and me? That would be consistent with what I've seen of what the man fobs off as "legal thinking.")

The good news is, I don't think the ruling will ever be read this broadly until tested, if then; and the dissenting Justices didn't disappoint, to wit: Justice Robert Rucker: "In my view the majority sweeps with far too broad a brush by essentially telling Indiana citizens that government agents may now enter their homes illegally -- that is, without the necessity of a warrant, consent or exigent circumstances;" Justice Brent Dickson: "The wholesale abrogation of the historic right of a person to reasonably resist unlawful police entry into his dwelling is unwarranted and unnecessarily broad." (See how kewl they are when they agree with me?)

But I do regret coming home irked and griping that the ruling spits in the face of the Fourth Amendment and that it is Time To Do Something. Tam's point -- and she's right -- is that it has been that time our whole lives and long before; and wottinhell had we been doing? Whatever it was, if it'll push the culture out of this mudpit, do it even more.

And beg Tam to keep doing it, too, please:
"Tam said...
Thanks for the legal advice.
You're right. 1984 has come to Broad Ripple, and so this is the end of VFTP.
See ya.

8:24 PM, May 13, 2011
Dammit. I'm almost sure that's hyperbole, but....

PS: Impeach Justice Steven David! And Justices Randall Shepard and Frank Sullivan, Jr. right beside him!

PPS: Relatedly, our Hoosier Supremes ruled police may do no-knock executions of warrants at their own discretion, no need to convince a judge. --And this is supposed to increase officer safety? Not likely! Criminals have little to lose and innocents at the wrong address have no way to tell. Please knock first at my house. Please.

Ha! Nerds Rule

So Stingray posts about a smoking-mandatory bar and harkens back to his "Angry Hour" concept, perhaps the best idea for a bar that I have ever read (unless you have to pay the insurance). Of course all the tables have to be bolted down, leading one commenter to suggest using left-hand-threaded hardware with handy adjustable wrenches for attempted unbolting and/or vigorous exercise, and another to add, "....make them metric wrenches, and whitworth fasteners."

I have bad news for you. And that's why geeks and nerds rule!

I Should Post Something

--The Indiana Supreme Court has given me a headache; anyway, I'm blaming them by default.

Let's see: my birthday's coming up, and I'd like one of these. Or even this. And a cargo carrier and saddlebags for it.

But what I'm gonna actually get is some cards and a whole lotta OT. Well, a little OT and darned few days off. Beats not workin'!

Elsewhere: Carl Bussjaeger links to the "Florida Outlaws Sex (only not)" reports but points out that the Sunshine State has recognized some Constitutional rights for pigs, which does give one to wonder just exactly with whom -- or what -- the Legislature has made sex not-illegal? (And here I thought thought the hip, modern bents for Our Elected Officials were pederasty and pedophilia; I guess there's always a traditionalist or two in the crowd? Certainly it is not a notion of which most of them have never been accused). It's for sure pig-rights are yet another reason why bacon (the real staff of life) is so darned expensive. (Y'know, there wasn't even any civilization as such before there was bacon. I'm just sayin').

Friday, May 13, 2011

Miserable, No Good Legal Ruling

All right, fine, the Legal Eagles tell me it's not actually as bad as it sounds; but it still stinks and sounds dreadful: our State Supreme Court, in a mentally inferior 3-2 decision (in extra innings after rain delays on a moonless night, maybe -- look, you run your courts your way and we'll... See, we're Hoosiers), decided a long-standing common-law right to resist unlawful entry (et sequelae) by the po-leece needed to be swept away.

As a practical matter, it's kinda pointless; if Johnny Law comes knockin' unwarranted nor in hot pursuit and you bar the door, you're gonna get your hinder parts handed to you no matter what; after this ruling, if in the said process of rump-handing he happens to notice any Laetrile or prostitution, De Law is now on firmer ground if/when you're brung up on charges....

Yeah, alla that. But IMO, it's not the fiddling technical details, of which you've got to be an Esq. and plugged into the local legal loop to parse in full and proper, it's the spirit of the thing; especially in that policebeings don't get a weekly mental download from the Courts and are often operating without a whole lot more information on the fiddly details than you and me. (They've got handbooks...written, mostly, by lawyers in Law French or whatever they call the jargon nowadaze. You can image the utility of this to the working Peace Officer). So there are a lot of cops out there who just heard the same news story you saw and are thinking, in the backs of their minds, that the State Supreme Court is okay with possibly a little door-kicking and/or some preemptive home visits to the hinky. Most of 'em still won't (I suspect the degree of personal restraint exercised by most sworn officers is altogether surprising, were we to learn of it) but no population is entirely free from those who Do Not Quite Get It.

And for their sake as well as ours (but mostly for ours, mine especially), this ruling needs fought. When I find out who's standing up to it, I'll let you know and we can pass the hat or have a bake sale or something. Wave signs. Go on a hunger strike and chain ourselves to the polling place door! (Look, it kind of worked for the suffragettes and all they were after was a chance to pick their oppressors). Something. ("Fetch the Gura!" Or does he only do guns? Fine, we'll have to go ACLU on 'em).

--And I want to know who sang lead in this ruling: he needs impeached. Or at least unlawfully entered upon by a policeman or two.
Claire, quit hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock!

Blogger's Back!

The posts that they lost are back! Yayy, hooray!

However, your comments to those posts are still MIA. I've a good mind to ask for a refund of my....

Wait, something.... Right on the edge of memory....

Oh, yeah. I'm gettin' this for free. Okay, then.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

I Work On A Starship: About Time!

There's a new chapter posted. Oh, noes! What danger lurks?

At about that same time, Lupine's first passenger squirt-booster drop was finally cleared and moving toward the boarding locks. T, Handsome Dave and Rannie Wu had first-available clearance, none of that "standby" flying for them. I got the story later, mostly from T. I've filled in the details as best I could.

Dr. Schmid was Acting Captain; in conference with his and the late Captain James' off-shift alternates — high-level Navs boffins to a man but command-skilled, an uncommon combination — along with the Chief, E&PP's Airframe supervisor, the lead squirt-booster pilot (Butch, teleconferenced from Aberstwyth Port HQ) and assortment of Port officials plus the Mayor of Aberstwyth himself (advised by my new friend Raub from Innovative, sitting beside him) had decided to run a full watch of cargo-only squirt—boosters. This despite every last one of them having been gone over by Engineering and Airframe multiple times, all sabotage found and removed and in pristine condition.

I'd've done it, too.

Read it all at I Work On A Starship!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Prefection In Dining

'Cos it comes in ahead of perfection, see?

Tam scrubbed the grill proper down this afternoon and we grilled a couple of steaks tonight, filet mignon, over the fancy hand-blown charcoal from Fresh Market ('cos we had plenty left from last year). I didn't do anything much with them, just a slathering of Irish butter (why? Because I can) plus pepper and a little salt. Butterflied mine and left Tam's a big thick slab'o'beef.

They were wonderful. Spot-on in done-ness, mine medium and hers rare, with that fine grilled taste and melt-in-your-mouth tender. A good green salad and Indian spiced rice on the side: yum!

The grill at Roseholme is nothing special, one of those inexpensive, rounded-cube things; but my, oh my, $32.98 American was never better spent on cooking equipment.

Collectible Heinlein

Via Turk Turon: Partial Farnham's Freehold manuscript for sale at Amazon. --For more than I pay for cars.

Time are tough. --Submitted in evidence: high-pressure auto salesmanship hits Claire Wolfe's small town. (I'm no fun for car salesbeings any more; I hit the lot, ask to see the three cheapest used cars -- having already found them online, if possible -- and if any of them pass muster on the test drive, refuse to talk anything but price. The most recent car was even simpler, a classified ad that was already well within my target range, sold by a "semi-pro" working out of his own driveway. Hey, car salescritters have to eat, too, but too many of 'em are smarmy about earnin' the wherewithal; you've got to game them right back to get anywhere. Oooo, the slime; it's a good thing I saved back some Boraxo).

I Haz A Ladder!

Big Giant Home Improvement (& Indoor Hiking) delivered my new 25' extension ladder yesterday. Wahoo! (Paid $60 to get it drug here -- I so totally need a junker truck).

This means I can get to some previously-inaccessible places on the outside walls and get on the roof to clean the gutters a little more safely. It also meant I could finally move my ham antenna higher on the big hackberry tree in the back yard and out of the way of the swing the tree guy installed ropes for last year. Not sayin' I was eager to get that done (note the past tense) but I finished that up after sundown last night. (Not quite as brave as it sounds, since there are streetlight-type lights on the back of the house and at the pole outside the garage). Next step, varnishing and hanging the oak seat for the swing!

Antenna still works, too. Listened to Morse-code chatter on the hambands for about an hour on my "modern" solid-state rig (old enough it's considered "vintage"), then checked out one of the homebrew receivers I unpacked last week. I'll have to write that one up at Retrotechnologist: with only two tubes, it plays shortwave broadcasters and even hams at loudspeaker volume. Stability is a little touchy but it can even be made to demodulate SSB signals; that's a big test for a home-made regenerative receiver.

Pity political comment will resume later; I was having too much fun to fret!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Talking To The TV

Reporter (struggling to ad lib a breaking story live on the scene, someone's house blazing away in the background): "Firefighters say everyone in the house got out in time. Paramedics are still treating four people in the fire."

Me: "They should get 'em out of the fire, first! 'Lady, there's your problem' Sheesh!"

It really is harder than it looks -- but not as difficult as they make it look sometimes. (And the treated people were, in fact, well away from the burning building).

The Scooter Electrics Saga

So, having installed not-quite-exact replacement tail/brake and rear turn signal bulbs, I took the scooter on a little 2-mile ride last night: the new bulbs (and low beam headlight) all survived! Hooray, at least so far.

The former importer (Bajaj doesn't make scooters any more) reports they haven't got any rectifier/regulator units in stock and didn't sound hopeful of getting more, so that could get interesting. Hoping a Stella (LML, another India-built scooter) or Vespa replacement will do if needed. Trying to reverse-engineer one could get interesting, despite it being a straightforward-looking four-terminal device: vehicular electrics tend to be very specifically engineered for the application and "generic electronics" approaches can run the unwary into some interesting gotchas.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Book Reviews

I have a big stack of books-recently-read, of which a few stand out:

Jeanette Walls, Half Broke Horses, a somewhat-fictionalized account of the life of the author's grandmother ("A True-Life Novel") written in the first person. It's a ground-level, front-row seat in the American West as the 20th Century blooms and blossoms. Highly recommended!

Larry Corriea's Hard Magic, splendid storytelling in the writer's trademark nonstop style. Film Noir by H.P. Lovecraft and Lester Dent might come close, maybe. This could have run as a serial in Unknown and would have been a reader's favorite if it had. Instead, we get it shiny-new -- use the Amazon link at Tam's for your copy. Set in a 1930s with just one small difference. (Some first-rate worldbuilding in this one, too).

Sherlock Holmes's War Of The Worlds, by Manley W. and Wade Wellman: the visions of H. G. Wells and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle intersect to remarkably good effect. I much prefer the eminent detective's approach to the Martian invaders, too.

Terry Pratchett's "Tiffany Aching/Wee Free Men" novels: The Wee Free Men, Hat Full Of Sky, Wintersmith and I Shall Wear Midnight. If you have been avoiding these because of the "young adult" tag, don't! Wonderful Discworld stories all, with cameos from Esme Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg -- and wait until you meet the Pictsies, a right bunch of tiny ruffians. I knew the Wee Folk were like that; I just didn't know that I knew until Pratchett pointed it out.

There are many more but alas, I'm out of time.

Scooter Updates, Updated

Managed to find some bulbs that should work -- checked the brake light and it does. Changed the rear signals but have yet to test them, since I have had those covers off.

That leaves me with the instrument lights and headlight to find and the front signals to change, all of which require fairly major disassembly to get to. It will be street-legal again as soon as I get the front directionals working, at which point I'll do some test-rides to make sure the rectifier/regulator doesn't get wonky at cruising speeds.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Scooter Update

So, new battery, starts right up, horn works, gas gauge works...h'mm, no brake light. No turn signals or nasty beeper. No headlight -- wait, low beam works. What the dickens?

Got out the schematic, scratched my head, measured battery voltage with engine running and engine off, a mystery. No common point of failure... It's impossible!

Remember what Sherlock Homes said? "Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth." Or what the late Patrick S. Finnegan* told me about troubleshooting, years ago: "Start with the simple stuff and beware of pet theories!"

Checked the rear turn signals, easiest to get to: both burned out! Yep, I fried all the lights that were on, probably as the rectifier/regulator was trying to dump charge into the bad battery. And who knows if the rect/reg failed shorted -- I'll have to hang a meter on the battery and rev the engine to see.

Some of the lights are awkward to get to -- the instrument lights and headlight will require removing the windscreen and disassembling the "headset"to reach.


Update: On a rough check, the rectifier/regulator seems to be regulating with varying engine speed. So that's something.
* The best broadcast engineer I have worked for; and I have worked for some sharp guys. Pat was a no-wasted-motion man and that included his thought processes.

What's For Brunch?

Why, this:Corned beef hash (with this'n'that added) and an omlette with a touch of Worcestershire and Dijon mustard. English muffin on the side.

'Murrican Political Practices: The Reality

Found at Wikipedia:
"...[Y]ears later libertarians argued that Hoover's economics were statist. Franklin D. Roosevelt blasted the Republican incumbent for spending and taxing too much, increasing national debt, raising tariffs and blocking trade, as well as placing millions on the dole of the government. Roosevelt attacked Hoover for "reckless and extravagant" spending, of thinking "that we ought to center control of everything in Washington as rapidly as possible."[54] Roosevelt's running mate, John Nance Garner, accused the Republican of "leading the country down the path of socialism."[55]

And that's even before they get to the Bonus Army.

But that's not my point. Once the second Mr. Roosevelt was elected, he found himself spending and taxing, increasing the national debt and putting millions of citizens on various government assistance programs. Oh, he tried to keep his promises at first -- reducing Federal spending by slashing military budgets and "...cuts on veterans' benefits. He removed 500,000 veterans and widows from the pension rolls and reduced benefits for the remainder. He cut the salaries of federal employees and reduced spending on research and education." But it didn't hold; in the Second new Deal, he began to really throw money at the problem, in the manner of Mr. Hoover but even more so. His critics compared him to Marx and Lenin -- and there we are, right at the point where we came in.[1]

That's my point: it has become pretty much standard far in the Presidencey to campaign against what the incumbent was doing -- then get elected and do the same thing. Mr. Obama has presently got himself one more war than Mr. Bush, for example, and he's planning on keeping the Gitmo detainees detained right where they are....

I'm not necessarily demonizing or lionizing[2] any of these guys. I think the Presidency is an impossible job and that Presidents end up holding the hot potato for a lot of things Congress and the bureaucracy do; an awful lot of the power of the office, aside from missile launches and the occasional pest control effort (Mr. bin Laden, etc.) consists of making speeches and appearing to be leading the way.

But I do think we'd be better off if the power wielded by the Legislative and Executive branches were scaled way back. At the very least, there'd be a lot less reason for partisan rewriting of history and we wouldn't see one President excoriated and another lauded for doing the exact same thing, with the names switched around according to the affiliation and predilections of the commentator.
1. I don't know how many people get that movie-going reference any more. Tsk.

2. Although, depending on how you interpret the term, "lionization" could make sorting out the primaries much simpler: one lion, one Flavianesque Ampitheatre, x candidates. Run, Mr. P@ul, run! Oh, gee, Mr. Dean, I'm sure they can stitch that right back on....

Surreal? Hyper-Real!

Life has its moments -- I dreamed a tiny tiger was gnawing on my bed and when I woke up, I realized it was true! He was chewing on a lower corner of the headboard, which, being a very large flat piece of wood, was acting as a soundboard.

That Huck is the bitingest cat I've ever seen.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Borromean Rings

Fascinating topology, especially the things that look similar but don't share the essential property.

...And here I thought it was an old Church symbol or just a beer logo!

Ow! (Scooter Battery, Continued)

So today, with goggles and gloves and no little trepidation, I undertook filling up the new motorscooter battery.

I was interested to learn they ship with their very own bottle of acid and I didn't spill more than few drops. Nearly panicked when, with about half the bottle poured in, it did not appear to be filling up, but it just takes awhile. Nonplussed that there's maybe a third of a cup left over, along with instructions to take it to the local hazmat disposal center.

But I got it done. And after letting it sit and settle for over an hour, it was charging time, which the good ol' trickle/float charger did, humming along tickety-boo.

Yeah. Tickety-freaking-boo. Tam and I were heading out to Big Giant Home Improvement (it's 25' ladder day! Hooray!) and, noticing the charger had flipped over from "charge" "storage," I shut it down, disconnected the leads and used my explod-o-meter (cheap small analog VOM that one doesn't mind if it gets exploded) to check. 13V, spot-on for a tiny meter. Knelt down for a closer look at the electrolyte level and OW!

There was a sudden, stabbing pain in the meat of my left shin at the outside front, next to the bone. One of the kawaii little test probes had come to rest pointy end up when I set the VOM down and I managed to come in for a landing on it with my shin -- stabby, stabby!

Poked in right through my jeans. As soon as I figure out what it was (kinda easy, what with a test probe stuck in my leg and all), I yanked it out and took a look at the damage: just a puncture and a muscle ache.

So we went to Big Home Improvement and I limped around 'til it felt a bit better. Tam kept giggling, though: "You're like a robot that only functions to unplug itself!" Yeah, sometimes.

Who Let The Prawns Out?

Who? Who?

--Ya big ol' shrimp.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Actual eBay Happening

I bid on an interesting ham transceiver and won -- I was looking for spare parts for a nearly-identical one I own (TenTec 540, a/k/a Triton IV, for the hams reading) but it may be fixable.

Noticed the item was located here in Indy, so when I paid online, I dropped the guy a note suggesting I might be able to pick it up if he wasn't on the far side of town, and signed with my ham callsign.

Reply: "I work about two miles from your home address. I brought the transceiver with me today, to ship on my way home. Do you want to stop by or shall I?"

I motorscootered* over and picked it up a couple hours later. He refunded the shipping.
* And it conked out on me as I rounded the second-to-last last corner for home: the battery has died and with a funky battery, low rpms and the brake and turn blinker going, it ran out of juice. Started right up when I shut the extras down but I bought a new battery and it's on tomorrow's agenda. Shame on me, I knew it wasn't taking much of a charge but assumed it was because I hadn't ridden much.

Ever-Changing Panorama Of Life

...Now above the kitchen door at Roseholme Cottage!
Um, I may have added some steps at each end....

P.S., that's not all that's above the door -- "Shiras, Wilmar" through "Simak, Clifford" is up there, too.

Went Shooting At MCF&G

Yesterday -- big fun! But I'm realllly rusty. Some photos to follow.

One arrives at Marion County Fish & Game,* pulling off a divided state highway onto a gravel road that immediately forks; the most unlikely-looking side vanishes into the woods. That is the driveway to the range, winding down a small hill next to Eagle Creek, under what I think is a railroad bridge, through a surprising card-reader security gate and a nice drive on back to the parking lot. The two new bays are the first things you see but one's first stop is at the clubhouse, to sign in. It's tucked in between the bays (you can just see the big backstop berm at right) and the big range (the shooting line shelter is barely visible at left).A quick peek at a tiny portion of the main range, a hundred yards deep and at least as wide, all shooting positions roofed. The far right corner is where bowling pin shoots are held.Back to the bays, looking a little like something the Mound Builders might have left us:With a shooter, for scale.On the way back out, the antique truss bridge.I don't think there are railroad tracks leading to or from it any more and it looks too narrow to have been an automobile bridge but it's pretty.The perceptive reader will notice there are no photos of my target; while I wasn't dreadful (by my admittedly-lax standards) and kept most of 'em in an area no bigger than a sheet of typing paper shooting from 30 yards =blush= 30 feet, it was not the satisfying center-shredding I had worked up to last Fall. Prescription: more shooting!
* You can fish there, in both Eagle Creek and their very own pond, but it is a State-listed game preserve! This makes good sense, it's not really big enough or far enough away from houses to hunt and there's plenty of woodland back of the main range for critters.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Comments Are Back

...But moderated. Sorry, still just a few ants at the picnic.

Brady Campaign Sets You Up

Noodling around at the Br@dy website, having followed Sebastian's link to the massive fail there, I happened upon a statement that will get you in serious trouble if taken as fact:Yep, that's right: someone at the Br@dy Campa!gn thinks IL and WI are the two (two??) Constitutional Carry states. Ghu alone know where that hoplophobic nitwit thinks concealed carry is banned -- Vermont and Alaska, maybe?

This is so wrong it is as if they're hoping fools will fall for it and run afoul of Johnny Law.

(The piece misses on smaller details as well, like shall-issue/may-issue numbers.)

But -- speaking of "Illinois carry," that state's CCW bill is up for a vote in the House today. Keep those calls ringin' in, neighbors!


Just to make it worse, I haven't got a thing to say this morning. Got a pretty good headache, though.

Sorry, Folks

No more commenting for awhile. Spot of bother. Hope to have it cleared up before you can say "Heath Robinson."

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Um, "Ooops"

I didn't figure it out until Tuesday: I took my May vacation the wrong week. This puzzles me, as I was quite sure I had looked up the pertinent date (the big Dayton Hamvention) and asked for that week, but I'm not sure that where I looked it up was right.

And to add to my woes, the actual Hamvention weekend I've got the one-week-in-five early-morning shift plus mandatory weekend overtime. Trying to adjust that but given a number of factors (techs on extra duty for the big race and the usual conflicts), I am having to talk fast...while being off work and unable to do any talking face-to-face.

Since that trip -- made, in recent years, with my pal Turk Turon -- is one of the big deals of my year, I'm feeling quite vexed. Should have double-checked. Didn't. Grr.

Ah, forget it. I'm done whinin'. (I'm about ten percent convinced my mind is going. This a fear of mine; my paternal grandmother went that way shortly before I was born and I've mentioned my Dad did a sort of long, slow fade that was painful to watch, especially since there was nothing that could be done. Oh, the noncommittal, friendly guy he became was pleasant to talk to, especially for me, since my career goals* and lack of education had been a terrible disappointment to him and there had long been considerable, h'mm, strain and reserve in our relationship; but he wasn't quite my Dad anymore. Swelp me, if I start goin' that way, I'll be doin' it all alone.)
* Parents: "Have you really thought about what you want to do for a living? This radio business isn't very stable and it doesn't seem to pay well." Me, age 19: "Well, I'd really like to be a science-fiction writer!" Parents: Long, stunned silence, followed by guffaws, "Hehehahaha.... No, a real job, something that actually pays money. At least enough so you can go back to school." Me: "Um, radio?" I moved out within a few months of that conversation, half-convinced I had no legal right to do so.

Shootin' Club!

It's official, Tam and I have joined up at Marion County Fish & Game!

They have made a number of improvements since last we shot bowling pins, like two (2!) brand-new bays with nice high berms and a (controlled-access) washroom you don't need a clubhouse key to get to.

(Snicker all you like - I considered the dire port-o-lets at Eagle Creek a huge negative, especially compared to IMPD's nice inside plumbing, off-limits to unbadged taxpayers).

Sadly, the fishing pond has shrunk, thanks to a nearby apartment complex: they made themselves a lovely catchment pond at a lower level and the two...equalized. I was never much for fishing -- childhood expeditions with Dad were an excuse to drink otherwise-forbidden coffee and annoy crawdads, who tended to annoy right back.

The best thing of all is that MCF&G has a nice schedule of activities -- and with Indiana's "guns locked in your car" law, I have half a chance of even getting to attend evening events.

Ancient Myths For Modern Times

(I blame Larry Correia for this'n, as I am about halfway through Hard Magic, a wonderful yarn you should buy and read right now. Use Tam's "Stuff You Need" Amazon link and she gets, like, a quarter at no cost to you).

Whattaya call a race of one-eyed giants, who triumph over their enemies by a clever campaign of battlefield deception and morale-destroying rumors and publications?

--PsyOps Cyclops!

(This is as nothing beyond the failed post-WW II proposed ordinance to keep post-modernishm out of a college town in Utah; of course the measure wasn't going to work, but having Ted Ono sponsor it only made things worse: Ono's Po-Mo No Go Provo never made it through the first reading, due to excessive giggling.)

PS: In researching for this post, I stumbled across a very fine type foundry out West, PSY/OPS. Have a look!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Idiot Of The Day

Random person, commenting on a Vanity Fair bit Claire Wolfe linked to:

"I believe the government and the media are owned outright by Corporate America..."

I'm not so sure about the first -- I think they believe they own one another, in a kind of twisted, Rand-villain way -- but as for the second, what did he think all those big, moribund newspapers, TV networks and broadcast-station groups were? Amphictionies? Sodalities? Heck yes, "Corpoarate Ameica" owns the media; built a lot of it from the ground up and wrote a check for the rest. To whom is this a surprise?

Jeepers, RCA and AT&T, Giant Soulless Corporations to the core, invented the radio network; they didn't even need Roswell UFO technology or the Trilateral Commission to do it. Good? Bad? It means they all tend to shovel out a certain level of mediocre dreck; it means they will lie to you out of laziness. But conspiring? I am even less likely to to believe it of 'em than I am of Uncle Sam, mostly 'cos they would sell one another out in a heartbeat.

Miss The Royal Wedding?

Fear not; though this years official dates have yet to be announced, you've plenty of time to plan ahead for the Swan Upping during the third week of July. And it's far more useful to the general population, really; swans will brighten the day of a lot more people (or chase them in the manner of geese) than a Royal Prince and his bride, though I'll admit they're a lot less likely to save you after your boat sinks or your drilling platform goes wonky.

Alas, the Queen and her lot no longer eat swan; haven't for years and years, though the fowl were at one time held to be delicious. But they're still keeping count, so you'd better not, either.

Eagle Creek Park Pistol (& Archery) Range Update

From Indy Parks, via the Mayor's Action Center:
"Thank you for your interest in the Eagle Creek Shooting Range. We are in transition currently and are eager to have it open to the public again as soon as possible. That will most likely be in the next couple of weeks. Please check the Pistol Range voicemail at 327-7296 for updated information about a specific timeline once one is confirmed."

At this writing, the message is still, "Closed until further notice due to unforeseen* circumstances but we're going to re-open soon."

* "Unforeseen" as in, "Oops, somehow we forgot to budget for the staff." Yeah, who saw that coming?

Time will tell if the promised re-opening is genuine or merely honeyed words while Mayor Ballard's administration tries to squirm out of re-opening the range to the public. --Even though public access was part of the deal that got outside funding for the range, which functions as an IMPD range the rest of the time.

The topic is under discussion at INGO's forum; the rumor mill runs hot and cold, with some guys saying Indy Parks is unofficially not going to open it, others hearing the Park Director talking informally about wanting to open the range back up ASAP.

I think it's time the City started hearing from polite, interested, concerned gun-owners. Here's the home page for the Mayor's Action Center; ask them why Eagle Creek Park Pistol Range isn't open to the public. Here's a contact page where you can ask Mayor Ballard why Eagle Creek Park Pistol Range is closed. Please use the links. Please share these links!