Monday, April 30, 2012

The Meaning Of A Meaning

Or not -- me, daring to comment at Wondermark, with etymology that may not be true:
It has been forgotten that the word "brunch" began during Prohibition as a slang term used to describe hung-over weekend revellers, arriving on Saturday and Sunday too late for breakfast, too early for lunch and "being raunchy" until some sort of hasty portmanteau meal could be slapped together to feed them. The meal (mostly table scraps from real breakfast, plus things of uncertain hue found in the fridge and dusty cupboard-corners) set before this reeking, bleary-eyed and "be-raunched" crowd was soon named for them, and by the time the Great Depression had caused a great vowel shortfall (FDR's various new TLAs were permitted at most one per acronym -- check me if you doubt) and soon after Repeal caused syllabic loss, "be-raunch" had to be telescoped down to "brunch," where it has stayed ever since, still slightly hung-over, goggling dimly at nearby entries in the modern lexicon.

It's a crime; I intend to write a stern letter forthwith. Possibly Zed, or perhaps W. Maybe N.

As an exercise for the reader, can you identify the other stern letters? Extra credit: List the two letters that are normal, one twice as much as the other.

Update: The normal and double-normal letters have been identified, though no one has gone on to identify the one that is on the square, let alone the one that is both square and normal.

The stern letters (other than Z, W and N) remain unknown. I suppose it is no help to point out that one of them is cross nearly all the time, while another is only rarely cross, almost never so in print. Or that you could win this on points.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

BlogMeet; Also, Want

A nice BlogMeet today -- Kerry, The Jack, Shermlock Shomes and Mrs. Shomes and Don. It was warm enough to be outside (if you dressed for it) and we enjoyed fine beer (coffee for me, thanks), frites, steak and pork crepes.

Much fun talk ensued, ranging from prepping to the changes in CPR procedures to the rise of innumeracy and illiteracy to fiction to firearms and plenty more, including Kerry's Adventures In Chicken-Keeping. (Very productive thus far -- a half-dozen hens produce a bit more eggs than his family can use. ...And chicken stew later, perhaps.)

It was warm enough for me to ride my scooter. My dear old brown "Firefly-ish" jacket needs much TLC; went to look for another online and it appears Icon stopped making them...except in leather. Ooooo, sign me up for the "red" (brown) one, the very first time I have saved up the price. This may not be soon.

BlogMeet Today

3:00 pm, Brugge in Broad Ripple. Not so sure about "outside," 'cos it's still chilly.

I'll probably be on a motorscooter -- look for the gal with bangs, wearing a brown, 1930s-ish cycle jacket.

Steak! Glorious steak! Pommes frites, too. With a zillion sauces to dip them in.

Sunday, Gunday

A plinker and a mystery!

You can blame the NRA for the first; the most recent issue of American Rifleman featured an Iver Johnson Supershot Sealed 8 .22 revolver.

When I found one -- Model 844 -- at the Tri-State Gun Show yesterday (hey -- they're open today, too!), at a price within negotiating distance of reality, could you blame me for being tempted? It is an Iver Johnson, with all that implies, but this example is in decent shape. Best of all? Like the rest of its kin, it's a top-break! (FWIW: Iver Johnson also made bicycles and briefly sponsored Indianapolis-born champion rider Marshall "Major" Taylor.)

...Another fellow at the show's got a long-barreled .22 Colt Police Positive that I really like; priced a bit high, though, and the sights are tiny, old-fashioned, sharp-of-eye-only: it would mostly be a "safe queen" and I have too many of those.

Next up, an antique-shop mystery: Another top-break, with a very S&W-type latch and somewhat British hammer and trigger; I thought maybe it was an older S&W or an H&R (there's a small H&R in an obsolete caliber right next to it). Nope, the topstrap is marked "The Old Firearms Company" and there's a complex logo on the side. Some island-gunsmith special? It looks too good for that, but I'm darned if I know what it is; even the chambering seems odd, something short and .45ish. Presumably not a "gun" as the Feds define them, but what else it is remains to be discovered. --By someone else.

Someone like Tim D:

"After a slight bit of searching I came up with:
ATC is tradename and abbreviation for Armas de Trico y Caza , South America

And a similar piece in 8mm centerfire Adalet."

Check his link: it's a match!

Want? WANT!

The steampunk/dieselpunk Mille Miglia goggle jacket! Alas, spendy. (Also, this is what cars should look like. Automakers, take note; if you won't make flying cars, couldn't they at least look as if they might?)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Asteroid. Mining. Gonna Happen.

The Unwanted Blog channels The Daily Show featuring astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Go. Watch.

Does It Give You Vacuum Wings?

Welcome to 2012, to a world where high-flying energy-drink maker Red Bull has a space program. Advised by none other than man's man -- and astronaut's astronaut -- Joseph Kittinger, they'll be sending a man plummeting to earth from the edge of space, bare-nekkid but for his heated longjohns, a pressure suit and a parachute. It's a bit thin if you're going to break the sound barrier along the way -- which he will.

Holy Yuri Gagarin! (Whose own mission was more exciting than was admitted to at the time.)

Ballooning up as far as possible and then stepping out for a quick drop home sounds modest compared to Branson/Rutan tourist flights, Blue Origin's SSTO or Elon Musk's practical rocketry, but in terms of manned presence it's a big step, one previously undertaken only by entities with names like "USAF" or "USSR."

I wish them every success -- and wonder what'll happen if they stumble onto the Hidden Frontier? (Where there is finally a smidgen of new content.)

Stock Check, Aisle Whatever

...Picked up some nice pickle relish the other day. Color seemed a bit off, but hey, you can trust the neighborhood Yuppie Market, right? No date on it that I could see.

Got the bottle out last night and man, it really doesn't look right. Gone all transparent. And not-quite hidden in the label art, worked right into the design, there it is: "BEST BY 20 OCTOBER 2011." Yick.

Hey, Mister Condiment-man? Bigger print, please. Helps me, helps the kid restacking the shelves at Fresh-O-Mart -- and prevents you losing customers. In one sense or another.

I wonder if the Mayor feels like this? "Gee, it looked kinda okay when I bought it..." WTH, an expired pickle running Public Safety might be an improvement.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Is This The End Of Frankie?

...On a sad note, this city's beloved Public Safety Director, Dr. Frank Straub, resigned today....

Oh, I can't keep it up. Yeah, he was done nudged out, possibly by the prospect of a severe nyaah-nyaahing from the City-County Council.

The news article links to a curiously-written letter in which he spends a paragraph at the beginning resigning, a paragraph at the end thanking the Mayor, Council, etc. and the two pages in between read like a resume entry, .gov style, filled with glowing self-evaluations of improved diversity and slicked-up Homeland Security ops.

Nary a specific word about actual ongoing problems; not one mention of how the man brought in to show us rubes how to run a clean police force managed to let IMPD stumble through what was either the most amazing series of blunders in law-enforcement history or a clumsy array of multiple incidents of police evidence tampering in the Bisard case. Nope. None of that! Just shiny, shiny, shiny.

Man likely shaves blindfolded, he's so averse to facing reality.

Oh--! The Mayor's asking him to make like Diogenes and drum up an honest feller to fill his old job. Sometimes the punishment does fit the crime. You've got to pity the poor philosopher-king who'll fill those shoes next. Whattaya think -- another glib chap with a fancy degree and Big Plans to Uplift The Yokels?

Seems likely.
Post title is a film reference -- but only as a metaphor.

Congressional Collectivist Caucusistry

Various assorted bloggers have followed on the heels of Allen West and called out the Congressional Progressive Caucus as a bunch of commies.

They're right, of course, but the supporting links have generally been to right-partisan sources. There's no need for that; take Wikipedia, for example:
The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) was established in 1991 by six members of the United States House of Representatives: Representatives Ron Dellums (D-CA), Lane Evans (D-IL), Thomas Andrews (D-ME), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Then-Representative Bernie Sanders was the convener and first chairman.

You don't have to be much into politics to recognize Bernie Saunders and Maxine Waters as an overt socialist and a semi-covert one, respectively. All but two of the remainder can easily be found expressing admiration for socialist/communist causes, movements and revolutions.*

That's who they are; that's what they are. They can wrap it up in the flag all they want, set Motherhood, bald eagles and apple pie around it, and CPC is still a bunch of shocking-pink to plain Red collectivists, out to tax anyone above the poverty line right back down to it -- except themselves, of course. For the common good.

Days like these, I understand knee-jerk Republican voters -- whatever keeps the lid on Saunders et al's would-be fulfillment of what Garet Garrett tagged a "revolution within the form" can't be that bad, hey?

Bring on the jubilee.
*DeFazio, a bit Teflon-y in a hasty search, was involved in an incident illustrating the degree to which the Presidency is a tool of corporate cronyism and the suckuppancy of pols: "At a closed-door meeting of the House Democratic Caucus in late March 2009, President Obama reportedly upbraided DeFazio for his vote against the stimulus. 'Don't think we're not keeping score, brother,' Obama quipped, according to the Associated Press, while urging DeFazio to support his budget proposal. ... DeFazio, speaking to press after the exchange, professed that he was honored that Obama recognized him and the issues of his constituents." He added he hoped to be used as a footstool again Real Soon Now, too, mmmmmkay? And that's some Presidential "quip." How long can a fellow tread water in Lake Michigan in concrete overshoes?

Bleg: I Broke Firefox!

Don't know how. Closed it normally last night; this morning when it starts, it pops up a tiny little window at one corner of the screen, which promptly blinks out leaving nothing but the taskbar button. That button toggles as usual -- but no Firefox. Aaargh.

Time to remove and reinstall? I have about a zillion links saved, which I don't want to lose. Gee, I miss CP/M. MDM730, where have you gone?

Update: I think I fixed it. In a stupid way, but hey, whatever works -- I jumped on the tiny window and maximized. Hurrah!

But I swear, I didn't close it that way last night. Grrr.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Jon Lovitz Not Impressed By POTUS

All the more bitter for him, as Jon says, "...and I voted for the guy!" NSFW, language. Gotta give him props for calling things as he sees them.

Police Cat

N. B., the black-and-white cat from last night was patrolling the alley this evening, "roaring."

Said to be typical of toms, I have mostly only seen "police cats," the Holstein-patterned guys, wandering and yowping. Kind of like the foot patrolman of yore, rattling doorknobs and shining a light in dark places, though I am pretty sure the tomcats do more spray-marking. (Guess that's one spot the bums won't be sleeping in!)

Rerun: Hayek On Conservatism

From 30 April last year:

"Conservatism is only as good as what it conserves."
--Friedrich August Hayek

Words to ponder in this election year -- especially in the primary. What're your conservatives conserving, and should they? What aren't they conserving that they otta?

Helpful Advice; News Of The Weird

Advice first: Your day -- your life! -- will go much more smoothly if you assume everyone you see (including that suspicious character lurking in the mirror) is a loony. Mad as a March Hare. See, that way the flashes of sanity come as a delightful extra instead of a frustrating glimpse of what should be.

Weird News: which is more strange, that Congress is posturing about siting an anti-Iran missile defense on the East ("give them what they want and you might survive") Coast when Iran hasn't got an ICBM with the reach and may not, ever (saboteurs, remember what you did for their nuke program? More of that, please), or that a Hoosier woman who is making a remarkable recovery from a traumatic brain injury in last year's State Fair Stage collapse was named "Patient of the Year" at the hospital where she is receiving treatment?

Doctors, nurses, I admire your drive (and hers, even more), but it's not a competition; they're all "Patient of the Year," dammit. You mustn't play favorites. Even though we're sure you have them.

Either way, I believe my opening statement is well-supported by the evidence.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


So, I successfully returned to the good old interface at Blogger, hey-ho, back to normal.

Not so fast. Tonight there was a message for me:Okay, then.

I quite dislike the new UI. I'm no good at real HTML and formatting in the new near-WYSIWYG editor baffles me.

When Blogger pulls the rug out from under for good, I am not going to mess with it if it becomes too annoying. I have a WordPress backup -- which I kept updated until Google/Blogger, as is their right, decided to pull the plug on that -- and I'm not happy with WP's UI, either.

Once it stops being fun, I'll stop doing it.

Maybe I'll suck it up and adapt; maybe I won't. This is a hobby, after all, and I have plenty more.

Seen Around Town

This one made me smile. 
Looks like a happy family, pets and all.  Be who you are -- and be proud!

Tam Paradise: Kincaid's. 
It's a classic.

And this house, which used to have a classic pastel-white/black molding paint job, very Deco Future. 
Current owners have gone a bit more South Beach but it's still a favorite.

     (My first post with the  forced switch to the "new" Blogger interface, which stinks.  Change is bad, Google.  It's evil.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Big Fight

It was the best kind of a fight, a lot of posturing and big talk, not a lot of blows landed, and no fancy knifework.

One of the combatants was crouched next to the alley as I drove in, his back to traffic, swearing. As I pulled up about even, he took a wild swing, leaped and closed with his foe, a brief, whirling, spherical tangle of limbs that resolved into the big black cat attacker with his back to wall and the slightly smaller black-and-white patterned cat all puffed up and full of vinegar.
B&W leaned in, ears back, on tiptoe so he'd look taller:

B&W: "Yer mom -- yer mom! -- wears dog collars!"

BBC: "No she don't no she don't no she don't! Your mom!"

B&W: "No huh! Yer mom. Yer mom wears a hundred dog collars! From pit bulls!"

BBC: "Yeah-hunh, your mom. Sissy. Mouse-lover lover loverboy!"

B&W: "Am not! Bite me!"

BBC: "By damn I will!" He leaned in, started to swing. The black & white leaned back, crouched, raising a front paw higher.

B&W: "You lowdown lilylivered lapsitting lackwit litter-missing suckup son-of-a-gun. You, you miserable no-good ratfink!"

On that last yowl, B&W delivered himself of a clean-miss roundhouse paw-swipe. The big black cat took a side jump and lit out through the hole in the fence you see in the photo, with black-and white hard on his heels. There was a commotion shortly after and the cussing continued, fainter and fading. It put me a bit in mind of this famous feline.

I pulled on up and parked, put my stuff in the house, stowed groceries and went out on the front porch. Said hi to Tam just as the black and white cat strolled proudly through the front yard, nose in the air, not a mark on him and as full of himself as a high school senior with his very own car.

Somebody just promoted himself up a step.

Unh, What?!

So, you found my blog by this search string: I don't know about you or the bATFe but I'm mildly fretted. (Geez, I guess I should stop sleeping on guitar necks.)

Dream Kitchen: 1933

Or maybe '27; I can't be sure. While wandering antique malls over the weekend, I chanced on about enough to put together a very nice kitchen that would have been super-modern when Roseholme Cottage (built in 1924) was new, starting with the basics:Nice, clean lines on that fridge, and the range? Wow! That's the original enamelling job, cream and marbleized green:There was an almost-matching GE "monitor-top" fridge, but alas, it's a repaint job.At least they have some documentation!Better get a nice deco-style table:Maybe some health food?("On the alkaline side?" Mommmm, what's in these chips?)

Better wash up --Hey, she's not Nipponese! ("The first...a sign of returning...pores..." worries me. Forget the chips, what's in that soap?)

And if we want some tea, we'll encounter a Milton Caniff character -- I think she was in both Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon.

There'd be a lot of work and expense involved in bringing any of the appliances back to "new" in appearance and function, but it's tempting. And they kind of match the outside paintjob, though not the blue-and-oak kitchen. (The range is, of course, gas, and there are dedicated specialists who restore 'em. If I had one, I'd get me a stand-alone electric oven and have the door customized to match; a gas cooktop and electric oven is the pro ticket anyway.)

A real kitchen redo would have to address the gingerbread on the kitchen cabinets, replacing it with squared-off quartersawn oak trim with dark square pegs and "cloud lift" moldings, plus swapping out all the handles, hinges and countertop. Then I'd be ready to tackle appliances. Don't hold your breath, it'd be a huge job and I hope to redo the euphemism (in Arts & Crafts!) first.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gun Show! BlogMeet?

Tri-State's got another one of their nice gun shows at Stout Field next weekend, filling a large gymnasium and a big double classroom with darned near nothing but guns and gun-related items.

--Okay, last time there was a fellow with a table of half Colt firearms memorabilia and half Colt non-firearm memorabilia; my point is that it is a well-focused show, run by friendly folks, with a good group of vendors.

I'll be going. There's a possibility of having a mini-BlogMeet that Saturday or Sunday, if anyone is interested.

1911-esque .380s: Collect The Whole Set

With my Buy A Gun Day purchase of a Colt Government Model .380 at Roby's in Kokomo (nice shop, nice guys, stop in and tell 'em Roberta X set ya), I'm well on my way:Bottom to top, left to right, Colt Pony, Colt Mustang, Star DK, Colt Government .380, Star SS.The Pony is DAO, of course, functionally just about a "flat revolver." All the rest have substantially identical lockwork -- and the original design for it is (AFAIK) Star's! Slides are a different story, with the Spanish duo carrying their typical external extractors and every one of the Colts faithful to the original JMB (PBUH) internal type.

The Colts were made in a variety of finishes and both steel and the "Pocketlite" versions I own. Some even in stainless or nickle-plated. So I don't quite have the full set. Yet.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day? Page Day!

It's Bettie Page's birthday today. ...I suppose this "Earth Day" stuff is somewhat relevant, as you mustn't let Bettie swim in polluted water. (SFW)

The Guns Of Kokomo

Or maybe the guns of Peru; the place is in between those towns and they sell plants and lawn statuary. The decorations include a kind of "statue" not found on many lawns:It's right next to a divided highway......I believe it (or a similar turret) used to sit South of Kokomo, only that owner wasn't as careful of muzzle direction: that installation was aimed right at passing cars! A form of criticism?

Also up that way, what appears to be a very nice little range -- and probably in no way public, given that it is right outside a correctional facility (note fence and one of several buildings at right).Still, it catches my eye every time I drive past. Three-story backstop!

(All pictures in this post shot from a moving car by just holding the camera up and shooting without looking. I manage to get about 75% of what I'm after as long as I plan for the shot well ahead of time. The main trick is to not worry about composition or even capturing the image at all -- hold it up and snap, you get what you get.)

...Suddenly, I want a cast-concrete copy of a Gatling gun or perhaps a little mountain gun for the front yard. Or maybe a copy of one of those little French tanks. We'll grow ivy on it. What?

For Those Really, Really Bad Hair Days

Blowdryer seen at an "antique mall" yesterday:Oh, yeah, sign me right up. Srsly, WTSH?* I'd've bought it, framed it and hung it up in the euphemism here at Roseholme with the legend [IN EMERGENCY, BREAK GLASS] but...ew. Cooties.
* "Sam Hill." Yum, minced oath! With allspice!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Huck the Cat Somersaulting!

At long last: the acrobatic skills of the Miniature Golden Tiger* of Broad Ripple, captured on video!

How about that!
* Tam: "If that tomcat was half again as big, I would be concerned about having him as a housepet." If it wasn't that he purrs, I'd wonder if he was one of the bigger-type cats and had more growing yet to do.

Automotive Enlightenment

I should never, ever own or even drive a Ford Model T: the controls are...different. In way that will cause the driver, if she is me anyway, to get in a lot of trouble very quickly. Yowza!

...The controls on your car didn't just happen to end up where they are -- it was a slow process, with plenty of weird permutations. (Motorcycles, even more so -- the Indian and Harley "suicide shifter" being merely one of the better-known.)

(Also because this. You realize over half the people you meet have that kind of mental process? And they always have.)Link

Empty Head, Full Schedule

Man, I got nuthin'. Oh, maybe a little bit--

Here's the deal: there's a hamfest (amateur radio swapmeet) up around Peru, Indiana today. I need to leave ASAP, 'cos my new eyeglasses are ready and the optician's is only open until 1300 and round-trip to the semi-North is on the order of three hours.

Look for more content later today.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Reading Comprehension FAIL

Or is it on purpose? I mean, with a headline like "Nugent threatens death if Obama wins in November," you'd've thunk the guy had issued a call to vote from the rooftops. ZOMG!

...The only problem with that analysis is that once you've filtered out the obvious hyperbole and Braveheart references, all you're left with along the line of death threats is Ted predicting, "If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year."

I guess technically that does count, but even the Secret Service, rushing in to investigate this terrifying use of the First Amendment, decided he was no threat to the peace or the person of the President, et. seq.

So I guess we're all so very lucky that the oldstream media is around to try whupping up the hate, hey?

Cripes. I'm expecting a probing look into wicked plans of the cheerleader who swears she will just die if Romney wins this Fall. What? Nothing?

Dang, I have got to make sure there's popcorn and sodas on hand come November. "Western Civ. goes even farther over the edge! You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll end up dead or in jail!" Don't miss it if you can; and you can't. It's Now Playing on every block, every corner, every screen, and it has neither common sense nor a sense of humor, let alone proportion.

To Your TLE On Time Or It's Free

SpaceX is, at last word, still on track for their "demonstration" (non-critical cargo) delivery to the International Space Station, launching 30 April.

If everything goes to plan, it still won't be quite fast enough to send 'em a hot pizza, even starting from the 'za jernt closest to the Cape (anybody got the number?); but it'll mark the first time since the last Shuttle flight that a cargo left the U.S. for delivery to people living in Low Earth Orbit. And on a commercial flight! I dunno if the NORAD Two-line Element Set counts as an address or not; right now, if what SpaceX ships has to be signed for, there's only one address they need to find anyway.

My best wishes for their success.

(PS: I wonder if you could use a satphone on ISS? And how the pizza delivery guy would take the joke if you called in an order?)

(PPS: If you can dial out, you can dial in! New funding stream for NASA: 1-900-###-ISS1, rings up to the space station but no promise you'll get anything but an answering machine or recorded message, $20 minimum. Wanna bet that thing would get calls 24/7/365?)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Indiana Lynching Demographics

Sometimes the history of my state is not quite what you'd expect, but still disquieting: Wikipedia claims back when Hoosier lynch mobs -- White Caps and suchlike -- were running around, 1860 to 1910, they strung up nearly two-and-half times as many citizens of European ancestry as they did citizens whose ancestors were haled here from Africa. (Note, dear friends, that this is demographically askew; but one one-sided).

The common factor? Being accused of murder and/or rape. Not, however, necessarily being guilty of those offenses. It took five years after the Legislature passing an anti-lynching law in 1898 before the state got a Governor who bothered to enforce it -- which is another teensy little problem with "there otta be a law."

Behaving morally yourself, that's a good thing and raising up your kids to do likewise is even better; getting together a few dozen friends and going out to make your neighbor do so by main force, or give him a hemp necktie for failing, that's not so good. This is why we have a justice system and why it is so very ponderous: it's real damn hard to string a man back down if it turns out your little club's judgement was hasty when you strung him up. And even a very shiny justice system still doesn't work if somebody's got their thumb on the scales.

Three's A ...?

If I was Casey Kasem, I'd be worried -- Don Cornelius passed in February of this year, Dick Clark just yesterday; we're running out of classic music-show hosts.

You grow up knowing you'll likely outlive the iconic figures of your youth but it's still sobering.

Golden Boy Dodges Another Spanking

Public Safety Director Frank Straub lucked into another delay in his possible -- probable -- censure at the hands of UniGov's* council last night. After talking (and talking and talking and....), the initial vote was put off until May.

I'm certainly put off by it.

Fire 'em. Fire 'em all, from Dr. Straub down to the meekest, most inoffensive meter maid (meter butler?) and every instructor at the Police Academy, burn it to the ground and start over from scratch with zero tolerance for buddy-buddy back-scratching and a whole lot more foot patrol. If we could limit 'em to mere naughtiness -- the occasional free snack from grocers and restaurants, the occasional mercy on traffic tickets -- and keep 'em down where the rest of us can watch those watchmen right back, maybe they wouldn't get quite as thoroughly rotten (or as willing to look the other for their peers) as they appear to have become. (Okay, that's hyperbole and unfair; most IMPD officers are no worse than most LEOs in comparable cities. But in aggregate, no better, either -- and they could be. They should be and they can start by rooting out the bad apples instead of covering for them.)

One thing's for sure: all Dr. Frank Straub is going to do is talk. The FOP can unclench; his actions proclaim, louder and more clearly than anything he says, that in his heart, he's on their side.
* As I recall, another Dick Lugar project. Make of it what you will -- Unigov, Minitrue, Cheka, whatever.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Playing With My Food

Didja know that if you cut up a boneless, skinless chicken breast, coat it with all-natural pesto and then dredge it in a 3:1 mix of cornmeal and cornstarch before cooking, it stays moist, has a lot of flavor, forms a bit of a nice crust...and is a nice pale green?

Well, it's true. I cooked it up with some stir-fried veggies: asparagus, mushroom, cabbage, carrot, green beans, zucchini (some fresh, some frozen). Tasty!

Did I cook the chicken done enough? I think so. Guess I'll find out.

Update: I did. Cook it properly, that is.

Why Oh Why

Why is it, in this day and age of everyone having a high-zoot camera in their phone and a superduper monitor on their computer, that I cannot find a simple screensaver of spinning/tumbling laundry?

Wash or dry, either one will do.

(This was prompted by an appliance-store ad on TV that showed row upon row of every kind of appliance-with-glass: microwaves, TVs, washers, monitors, dryers, which made me realize the high-definition dryer door was well overdue; and if it is, the opposite -- a monitor that pretends to be a dryer -- is even more so.)

Hunger Games: The Movie

You'd better go see The Hunger Games. Tam and I did this past weekend. It's as good as the book. It's not exactly what I saw while reading -- but it's scary close. This may be the best film version of an SF novel yet made and the story's a good one.

Plus, they were working from a book written first person-present tense, an immediacy the filmmaker managed to convey without any silly tricks.

Highly recommended.


As you read this, I'm probably at my Doc's office, going over blood work -- beseems my thyroid levels are low and there was something funny with my blood sugar. They didn't give me a "hie thee hence, posthaste," but they weren't happy.

I suspect a somewhat late and large supper, just before 12-hour-fast cutoff, didn't help any. But I have to go take my lecture.

Update: Looks like I called it on the blood sugar. Thyroid, just low enough she wants to try treating it. Vitamin D, however -- if it was cash, I wouldn't have bus fare. So I'll be taking supplements for awhile.

Not as bad as I had worried.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Slowest Car Wreck In IMPD History

In August 2011, IMPD Officer David Bisard, on-duty, in his official vehicle, struck a group of motorcyclists, killing one and injuring two others. They were in plain sight at the time and readily avoidable. There are well-founded questions about what his blood-alcohol level might have been when it happened.

Today, he -- or his peers -- took out a police chief, too. Seems two vials of blood were drawn and one of them was to be left untouched by human hands; both were secured in Official IMPD refrigerated storage...only in November 2011, Persons Unrevealed took the untapped vial out of the so-secure IMPD property room,* and stuffed it in a room-temperature room over at the Po-lice Academy. Perhaps as a talisman of just how thick the ol' Thin Blue Line really is -- but I'm speculating.

A few days ago, the prosecutor's office thought it might be sort of instructive to have the nice, secure, untouched blood tested by a fully-accredited lab (with microscopes and everything!). But oopsie, it wasn't where it should have been. Much handwringing and panic ensued. In the aftermath, heads had to roll. Or a head, that of Chief Paul Ciesielski. Mind you, he's not the guy playing lose-the-evidence and nobody thinks he told anyone to, either; but he's out of the office, busted all the way back down to...Captain. I don't know if he had to take a pay cut.

Meanwhile, Officer Bisard (remember him? Fellow who ran over a few motorcyclists, in uniform and possibly in the bag) has been on paid leave since the accident. You or me, we'd've been in jail, or bonded out if we were very very lucky, but members of the new equestrian order, not so much.

Public Safety Director Straub, who's had two years already to make like a new broom, is all of a sudden complaining of police corruption.

Yeah, Frank. Y'think?

PSD Straub: "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here."
IMPD: "Your winnings, sir."
PSD Straub: "Thank you very much." ...

A long, long time ago, I suggested IMPD's rank and file needed to "start snitchin'." They still do. They still won't.

Somehow, Frank Straub remains employed. He's got a City-County Council confidence vote coming up tomorrow but all they can do is recommend.
* Or would that be the "so-so secure property room?"

Smoking Ordnance/Smoking Ordinance

The Indianapolis/Marion County Council has passed another smoking ban and unlike a dog passing a peach pit, once all the shivering, yelping and rump-dragging is over, we'll be stuck with it, unless Mayor Greg "I loves me the right kind of nanny-government" Ballard suddenly comes up for air and vetoes it.
When that happens, the love-child of a pig and Pegasus will take to the air, too.

But this time, proponents have left in a smoking gun: the ban prohibits e-cigarettes, too. Yup. Even the ones that don't deliver nicotine (in fairness, FDA reported in 2009 that some claiming they don't actually do). See, if it looks like a ciggie, it's baaaaaad. Mama take away from baby.

Makes me-ums wanna frow right the hell up.

I don't smoke. I did smoke for many, many years,* fought to quit for, oh, seven years, and I know if I have even one -- and some days I'd like to -- I'll have the whole pack. And the next pack, and.... Tempting as the act is, the smell of old smoke really gets to me. (A regular cold-weather rite around Roseholme is me reminding Tam to wash her porch-smoking jacket 'cos I can smell it from orbit.) It's bad for you, too.

But that doesn't mean it otta be banned.

Geesh. We learned nothing from Prohibition -- rolled it back and rolled out a nice, shiny dope-ban to take its place and keep the Mob (and competitors) in business. We learned nothing from segregation, either. Now we wanna take folk with compromised lungs already and tell business-owners (who already had to run employees who smoke out into the drizzle and snow unroofed) to stick 'em outside in the cold -- and keep 'em away from the door, too, 'cos nice folks might want to stop by, and you don't want 'em to have to run a gauntlet of That Sort.

Humans: we're programmed to breed, rear our young and then die around age 40, gray-haired and (mostly) wise. We've learned how to cheat death but there's something in us that longs to cheat on the cheat, too. We invent war, we distill spirits, we seek transcendence (or relief, or just a magic vacation) in intoxication; we dig up asbestos, refine corrosive chemicals, travel great distances to share our own regional viruses and bacteria...and some of us smoke. Think of it as a check against overpopulation. We've stamped out most of our predators, or pushed them into places we don't much want -- so what's our species supposed to do? (Other than not upgrade the ventilation systems in bars, that is.)

Try to legislate our way to perfection? Ah, high aims and noble intentions, what paving-stones they make; or railroad ties, for that matter.
* Why yes, I was one of those Jr. High Jr. Toughgirls who snuck out and smoked. Swore, too. But no black fingernail polish, that was Right Out.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Word To The Would-Be Wise, Blonder-Tongue Division

I was going to quote from it, but engineer Ben H. Tongue would rather I not do so without his permission; still, the wording of the "For The Man In A Hurry" section, advising careful study of the entire document before proceeding, struck me as especially apt--

I'm not quite saying it might be a nice pre-preamble for the U. S. Constitution -- but, much like the lads at Blonder-Tongue figured about the instructions for their clever UHF converter (PDF!), it couldn't hurt.*

(The eternal struggle between engineers and lawyers: the one strives for clarity while the other seeks loopholes. And every once in awhile -- ask DeForest or better still, Armstrong -- it's the other way around. But not this time!)
* While I take it as a given that a preponderance, probably a huge majority of our elected, appointed and wandered-in-from-the-rain Federal officials are likely, upon reading the document, to draw quite differing conclusions from mine, at least they will have read the thing. Anymore, I doubt most of 'em even really grasp the loopholes they so blithely invoke -- "Commerce Clause!" "General Welfare!" "Them guys over there said so and here's a big bag of cash to prove it!" Oh, dear. Where did I put Mr. Mencken's black flag?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

One Day At The Used-Elephant Lot...

...A little boy asked the senior mahout what became of saddle elephants who rolled on their passengers, crushing the fancy carrier and riders alike.

"Why, we have to put them to death, kid. It's very sad."

The lad wanted to know what happened next -- would the elephant be reborn as something repulsive, or be punished in the afterlife? He had a guess about it, he told the mahout, who replied.... (Wait for it, wait for it....)

"Howdah hell, did you guess?"

Thank you, thank you -- try the veal. Or the elephant!

When Dyslexics Run Moka Amok

--Never bring a knifegun to a fight?

(At that price, certainly not!)

Goodbye, Old Brand

I don't know what they've done to it. I grew up enjoying Armour Corned Beef Hash as an occasional treat; my Mom would bake it with eggs on top for a light Sunday supper (family of five, one can of the stuff). In later life, I kept it as a kind of standby food -- I like it, it stays good on the shelf and it lends itself to various additions -- onion and scrambled egg, perhaps?

Over the years, I'd gravitated to other brands; the Other Guys put up corned beef hash in smaller cans, more suited to feeding one or two people.

Yesterday, Tam made a "mercy mission" run to the store and picked up a couple of cans of the stuff; being a wise shopper, she studied unit costs and which brands were offering loyalty-card discounts and came home with a couple of cans of Armour brand Corned Beef Hash. It looked like the best choice.

I'm disappointed. Maybe it's just the can I opened. I hope so but I certainly don't know what they have done to this classic. Instead of the solid chunk of stuff found in various competing versions, it flowed sluggishly out of the can, turning quite liquidish when heated and emitting a funny, sweet smell in addition to the usual corned beef hash aroma. It didn't cook down much, becoming a kind of meat paste with cubes of potato embedded in it, and it didn't brown at all.

Couldn't tell you about taste or mouth feel. I didn't eat it. Just couldn't bring myself to try. I'm confident it's okay to eat but it wasn't anything I cared to consume.

Dear Armour, if this represents what you are selling as CBH these days, you might want to rethink it. I love the stuff and I used to love your brand of it; after this morning, you've lost me.

Sic transit glorioski mundi.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cancer Vaccine?

Looks like it might be. Via The Unwanted Blog. (By Mr. Aerospace Projects Review himself!)

Mister Inevitable

Now that Mitt Romney is gonna be The Elephant's Man -- short of a disgruntled bolide or suchlike, at least -- I'm seein' a lot of the GOP faithful wringing a change on Barry Goldwater's campaign slogan to come up with, "In our hearts, we hope he's Right."

Hope real hard; if the polls show that'd work for him, I'm sure he will be....just as long as it gets him what he wants.

Meanwhile, across the aisle and several rows closer to the Statist core, Christopher Hayes is sullyin' the 40-Acre Wood with an Empty Man Theory: Presidents are wholly at the mercy of their Party's chessmasters. He even offered bipartisan examples -- the most recent President Bush calling for America, as the last superpower, to be "humble" prior to declaring War On Terror and candidate (as opposed to President) Obama sneering down the idea of a "health insurance mandate." So by his notion, no matter how much triangulating Mr. Romney might do, it is trumped by Eeeeeevil Republican Leaders, who will inevitably do horribly "regressive" things.

...Mind you, he's happy enough seeing Presidents as puppets of the Inner Party, just so long as it's the right Party; which tells me everything I need to know about him.

And possibly as much as I need to know about Mr. Romney, too.

I'm still votin' for Ron Paul in the primary. That smoke-free-room cabal running his party keeps puttin' up guys I don't even want picking up my trash, let alone trying to manage the Executive Branch, and bedamned if I'll reward them.

Sure, everyone splutters about the Supreme Court, and how much less crap is in the crap sandwich on the Right-side plate as opposed to the one on the Left, but just as long as you continue to accept a choice between two different kinds of crap, do you know what you're gonna keep getting?

--I don't think you do; even if you do, a lot of voters seem to think it will magically turn into pumpkin pie once they pick. No. It's still crap. It's always going to be a choice of crap unless we start refusing it.

There are other parties out there. The GOP keeps going for mediocrity and the Dems are pushing class warfare. Are those really the options you want?

Update: over at Reason, I read, "Libertarians need to stop going along with a feckless GOP that takes limited-government partisans for granted," in an article about primary challenges to Senate fixture Orrin Hatch. Honest, we didn't compare notes before class.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Job Opening

Not where I work, but one of several contractors we use for work in Very High Places:
[REDACTED], Inc. is seeking a tower climber for one or more of the following open positions:

1.) Pool position. This can be an independent contractor who strictly meets the IRS definition of "independent contractor" who will be in our "qualified supplier pool" to be on call during times of spike demand or for specialized missions.

2.) Permanent part time. This is a W-2 employment position under our liability and workers compensation policies

3.) Summer intern. This is an employment position for college or trade school students. Especially seeking students in electrical engineering or broadcasting who are interested in gaining experience in the broadcast infrastructure segment of the broadcast industry, as well as complementary exposure in wireless Internet, 2-way business radio and radio paging systems.


a.) have a valid drivers license without impediments.
b.) be willing to agree to random drug testing.
c.) have an attitude of safety 100% of the time, total professionalism and a commitment to ongoing improvement.

If you know of anyone who might be interested, please feel welcome to forward this e-mail or contact me at your convenience.

Vice President
It cannot be overstated that this is very hard work and carries more risk than flying a desk or working an assembly line; the pay is adequate -- it has to be: people rarely work on towers for a lark -- but not huge.

On the other hand, it's an honest trade and one for which there is a constant or slightly rising demand: those smartphone towers don't build themselves! Nor is any such structure maintenance-free. That's the good news. The bad news? This could be a summer job but you make it a career, the work goes on year-round. I've watched this particular crew take down 900 vertical feet of 6"-diameter rigid coaxial falling January.

On the other other hand, companies tend to be small and crews are smaller yet, an increasingly uncommon work environment; for the right guy, it can be a job of a lifetime. (Tower crews are almost exclusively male -- which is not prejudice; most men aren't up to the physical demands, either. "The higher, the fewer," as Lewis Carroll wrote. Or did he?)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tried, Convicted And Sentenced In The Press

...and in Public Opinion. Sure, George Zimmerman has yet to have a trial in the usual justice-system sense but no matter the outcome, he will wear Trayvon Martin's death 'round his neck like an albatross. There are neighborhoods where he can never have a flat tire and he'll never write a check or use a credit card in his own name without a flash of dread. It's just short of a medieval sentence of outlawry.

...Now tell me about "justice."

This is yet another reason why shooting is a last resort -- and why trouble is better avoided than sought. Win or lose, you're liable to lose. Especially if it makes it into the news.

What A Relief

...To eat a real breakfast and wash it down with Actual Coffee. I had to fast for twelve hours going into yesterday morning (yeah, blood work, my doc had a loooong list of things she wanted to check) and it was worse than usual -- there's no taking ibuprofen on an empty stomach and we were fresh out of acetaminophen (paracetamol, for those using the Queen's English) . Stumbled into work and into a minor crisis before I was able to even think about a candy bar or a hot caffeinated beverage.

So a simple sausage/egg/potato/onion scramble and a cuppa' joe is a plan treat. --Come to think, last night's canned chicken and dumplings (revved up to corn chowder with the addition of canned tomatoes, beans and corn -- cook it up on the side and you can fine-tune your own soup plate.) was pretty darned ambrosial, too.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Senatorial Odds

Senator Richard Lugar is being challenged in Indiana's GOP primary by Richard Mourdock. Polls say if Mr. Lugar gets the nod, he's a shoo-in to win, while Mr. Mourdock's chances are close to even. In both cases, that's against Democrat Joseph Donnelly.

So if you're going for the quick and easy answer, it's a no-brainer, right? Vote LP in the Fall and let the incumbent Mr. Lugar return, or go with the trend and vote for him yourself, starting with the primary.

Yeah, no. You see, Senator Lugar is unique among Republicans with an "F" rating from the NRA; he rolled right over for the President's Supreme Court picks. On the other hand, Mr. Mourdock and Mr. Donnelly* both enjoy NRA "A" ratings. It appears to me that either man would be a better pick than Richard-doesn't-live-here-any-more Lugar.

Makes me wonder what other primary contests need a closer look before thinking about voting.
* I'm not sayin' his party won't try'n get him more in line, but his history in the House is instructive: "Donnelly also helped to restore self-defense rights in our nation’s capital by cosponsoring and voting for the D.C. Personal Protection Act and the Second Amendment Enforcement Act. He sent a signed letter to Attorney General Eric Holder stating his opposition to reinstating the failed bans on semi-automatic firearms and ammunition magazines. And he signed two pro-gun congressional amicus briefs to the Supreme Court, supporting the individual right to keep and bear arms in the Heller case and arguing that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right that protects all Americans in the McDonald case."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


This fascinates me: gallery of UK broadcast transmission sites. I don't know why; maybe it's the "so different, so similar" factor.

[various random vile words]

Chronic pain. O how I loathe thee. Sadly, when it hits, I don't have room for much else in my head and this is an oldie-but-no-goodie.

See, in 1996, I bit onto an overdone hamburger while visiting the West Baden Springs Hotel (before it got casinoed), and one or more of the roots of an upper left molar punched through the bone. I didn't know it at the time; all I knew was it hurt like the dickens.

I'd set the stage by trying a dentist-prescribed bite guard to control nocturnal bruxism. Yep, I'm a tooth-grinder, reasons obscure (could you please vote better?). All it did was to allow Sleeping Me to get a really good grip and annoy my teeth, so I'd stopped, but too late. The bone was already weakened.

Had my first migraine on the trip back home and spent years following a path through multiple root canals, extraction, a big battle back and forth with dental professionals about there being a hole in the bone (there was, at a lousy angle for conventional x-ray shots to find) and multiple surgeries to attempt to fix it. (Not too successful.) Back and forth between M.D.s and D.D.S.s, who are remarkably careful of one another's turf and on and on. I'm out three very useful teeth and there's not really enough bone left to do anything about it -- but I can live with that. Done so for years.

What I don't like is that every so often, that much-abused section of gum will up in a raw little sore. And hurt like hell. It did so over the weekend and it has been getting steadily worse ever since. Woke me up this morning. Naturally, it brings an uptick in migraine intensity when it happens.

Ah, well, I was off to the the M.D. this morning anyhow; maybe I can swing by the dentist, too, and make a party of it.

No comments to this one -- I'm just complaining. Trust me, there's no angle to this mess that hasn't been explored.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Breakfast Omelet

4 eggs, kesari cheese, two caperberries, a radish, a couple of baby carrots, a tiny bit of hot pickled cauliflower and a tablespoon or so of crushed blue-corn chips. Mix the first and last ingredients, cook until half-done, dice the rest and load 'em onto it, fold in half and cook until done.

Surprisingly firm and very tasty! --And it's a "what's left in the fridge?" omelet. Who'd plan that combination?

The Sign Says...?

Maybe it doesn't; still, I persist in suspecting that whatever pay-TV channel it is that specializes in those Japanese young-women-and-slavering-monsters anime, they have a special slide for those times when the server crashes, the film breaks or the tape jams: "TENTACLE DIFFICULTIES."

I suppose the Susan G. Koman foundation -- facing a lean year after the Planned Parenthood muddle -- wouldn't want to have a charity breakfast called "Koman Get It?"

It's childish, but I giggle at the auto-electric shop sign consisting of an actual upside-down compact car under the neon-outlined question, "Will Your Battery Turn Your Car Over?" --No, but if it's a Volt, it might make toast of the contents!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Welcome To The New Future™

Takimag seems to be down. Cut off. I never paid any heed to it before today but I was looking for an article so I could see for myself. Can't do it; the whole site is pffft! Nae canna connect. (Google cache here.)

See, there's this writer, John Derbyshire (apparently not a pseudonym) who delights in pushing people's buttons and, in response to "The Talk" decided to come up with his own, paleface version for Taki's Magazine.

(Update: I've read it and I'm not impressed; most of his "avoid this..." situations are guidelines that should be applied universally without regard to race, and failure to do so results in greater personal risk; a few are either BS or unsupported assertion. Discussion at Eric S. Raymond's blog is instructive, though ESR and I come to differing conclusions.)

Yeah. Just about as uncouth as you might think, possibly more so. I still haven't found the whole thing but it doesn't look good. --Mr. Derbyshire also used to write for National Review and National Review Online. Used to. Not so much any more.

While I think it plain sucks that (allegedly) African-American parents have to give their kids a lecture on the hazards of white people (except it isn't -- it's about the hazards of the police and the importance of not giving them an excuse to mess you up. Cogent advice these days for everyone), or that several of Derbyshire's bullet points reflect the actual behavior of people (f'rinstance, I don't go downtown for Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration -- OTOH, I don't go downtown for major sporting events or Stonewall Day, either, and for much the same reason: I'd only get in the way).

This is the world we've got, and some of the people in it will loath you for your pigmentation; you're living in a paranoid dreamworld if you think that is the only reason, or that there aren't folk who look just like you -- however you may look -- who will rob you, hurt you or worse. Me, I tend to give any group of young male humans a wide berth, at least until I see the Boy Scout uniforms and maybe even then.

...But that's not what I broached the subject to write about; plenty of people are looking to the article and writer in disgust and -- this being the Internet -- you will no doubt find defenders, too.

Nope, it's this taking down a whole website over one article. C'mon; stinkin' thinkin' reveals itself. You're better off pointing it out and making well-deserved mock. It doesn't need censors. Crashin' a website over words you don't like? How's that any different from any other kind of mob "justice?"

It isn't. Forget the tar and feathers, the hempen rope, the brickbats and torches, it's so last century -- these days, what you want is a botnet and some 1337 H4ck20R skills.

I suppose it's an improvement -- less death and property damage so far -- but it ain't much of one.

(Speaking of racism, I am irked by the flap over Mary J. Blige touting fried chicken for a fast-foot franchiser. Look, dammit, most Americans think properly fried chicken tastes good; watermelon has nearly as many fans and the extent to which outdated stereotypes make various groups of people unwilling to eat either, or at least be seen eating them in non-monochromatic company, is the extent to which they are ruled by foolishness. It's food, not some sociopolitical pose. Food! Shaddup and eat, or order a pizza.)

Slugabed, Slugabed, Snoozing Away

Yep, that's me. Just plain tuckered out -- I went to bed early yesterday and slept late today, with an especially nasty headache.

I blame the government. Might as well.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Fans Of Rupert For Governor

Yes, reality star Rupert Bonham is running for Governor of Indiana on the Libertarian ticket. Can't stand Mitch and don't like the next GOP guy in line* for his job? Loathe the Dems? Rupert's your man!

Even the People's Daily Star's reliably philosophically-bedwetting liberal Matthew Tully has been charmed by the tie-dyed, shaggy political newcomer.

What the heck -- I'll vote for him. Especially considering the other options.
* Mike Pence, more traditionally conservative than the incumbent, especially on social issues. Not a wicked fellow but not my first choice.


I have recently read the entire Hunger Games trilogy. It really is as good as you've heard, an original take on a post-apocalyptic North America and a teenager's reactions to being subject to some of the worst excesses of it. Heroes, villains and regular folks are genuinely three-dimensional characters; I enjoyed the books and hope to catch the film soon! Recommended, please buy 'em via the big bookstore link at Tam's.

Also recommended, Philip Mulivor's Proclaiming Liberty, a carefully researched collection of (mostly) pro-Second Amendment quotes from influential thinkers throughout U.S. history. Every quote is backed up with full provenance: who, where and when is fully given, and with the exception of living persons he contacted directly, you could go to the source material and verify it yourself.

And anyone who has found themselves in an argument over "what the Founders said" about guns,* this is of immense value -- and can keep you from using one of the only-too-convenient phony quotes that do drift about the Intarwebs. This is a bargain at any price -- the Kindle version, even more so. It goes on the shelf right next to Bartlett's but you'll probably use it more. (As ever, please buy via Tam so she can buy bacon!)

UPDATE: In keeping with my review policy, I paid full price for Proclaiming Liberty and Mockingjay, the third Hunger Games book. I borrowed Tam's trade paperback of The Hunger Games and used the Amazon "borrow" function to read Catching Fire.
* Or religion, on which their opinions are generally quite favorable but vary widely in details. --And a topic rich with fake quotes, pro and con.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Confuse The Enthused

...With your new bumper sticker:

What does it mean? Nothing -- but wanna bet you won't get some "Right on, man!" responses?

Visiting Cats

A new family moved into the house at the very North end of the alley that runs behind Roseholme Cottage. They brought at least three cats, of the outdoors-sometimes variety, who have been camped out in the fenced back yard and, occasionally, outside it: a longhaired tortie (marked a bit like Rannie, but with bigger patches of white), a sleek all-back shorthair, and a very pretty gray-and-white longhair.

They seem to be fitting in well with the other neighborhood cats. Last night, after retuning from an appointment to get my taxes done (my withholding was pretty close, I don't owe the Feds or State and will get a little back), I walked up to meet them.

All three exhibited the behavior that I'm told made cats domestic: skittish, but determined to find out if this stranger might have something of interest. They started to bolt as I walked up, then the bravest (gray-and-white) came up to the fence while the other two watched nearby. All three are "talkers" and eventually, they were all mewing at me while the lead cat smoothed on the fence. Nice kitties!

I'm told housecats can do something a lot of critters can't: calm themselves. Supposedly, that's how they ended up hanging around with us as pets instead of simple mousecatchers: some adults were able to stand being around us giant bipeds long enough to have kittens and from there, well, who doesn't like playing with kittens? Next thing you know, the little critters have associated you with their mommy and you've got a genuine housecat. True or not (LabRat has likely got the skinny on it), it's interesting to see 'em make up their mind about someone -- and flattering when they decide you might be trustworthy.

Thursday, April 05, 2012


Have I admitted doctor's offices and -- interestingly, to a lesser extent -- hospitals give me the willies? Well, they do, and I even know why, a particularly vicious, opinionated and very young M.D. who was one of the "other" docs in my old G.P.'s office who saw me after the G.P. himself had the misfortune to die.

The details don't matter; suffice to say that she found the then-thirty-year-old me, single, childless, a total non-contributor to the human race, only beginning to come to terms with near-constant migraines and starting to complain of some of the aches and pains of age (I was having spinal trouble at the time, touch of the ol' cervical radiculopathy) and trying to sort out the dental/sinus issue that got a lot worse before it got any better) to be whiny, annoying and in need of being told at length and with malice how useless I was and how little I deserved to be treated at all. I burst into tears; she wrote in her notes that I had been "abusive and hostile" (because crying and asking why is so evil?) and guess what, that's a part of your permanent record. HIPAA, HIPAA, hoo-- hooey. There's no expunging it, even when the head boss doc admits they've had a lot of complaints and (by the time, months later, I had worked my way through the system to end up hearing from him) the doc in question has flaked out and left the profession.

I haven't had a decent blood pressure reading in a doctor's office since. I struggle to get my pulse slowed down. I've changed doctors four times and for things like sinus trouble or minor injuries, usually prefer to just go to Doc-In-A-Box, get it done and GTHO.

I haven't seen my nominal "family doctor" since 2008. And I'm good with that. They can poke at me and judge me when I'm dead, injured or gravely ill and the rest of the time, I don't care to deal with the profession in person. Nobody is getting the chance to get me alone in a room, screwing with my head and lying about it ever again, if I can avoid it. (One of the best things about Doc-In-A-Box: it's small; the exam rooms open off a short corridor that leads directly to the exit. Ten steps from freedom the whole time.)

So, I'm needin' to go see a specialist in [none of your business] for a semi-routine sort of test and doctor-time being what it is, they won't even talk to you without a referral. And since I kind of haven't seen my own doc in approximately forever, getting a referral is none too easy, either.

Which is to say if I am a little short or don't post as wittily as you would like for the next few, don't take it personally. I have to deal with these people and they -- largely innocent and kindly -- scare me silly.

The Next Big Real-Estate Investment Opportunity: Outer Space

Anyway, that's what Wired claims -- and, hooray, it turns out the U.S. never ratified the Moon treaty that sought to make that body something of an international park. Neither did Russia or China -- and until a real-life Duchy of Grand Fenwick shows up, those are all the spacefaring countries that really count.

So, you can dream of saving up for that hard-vacuum retirement home.

The bad news? If Musk, Branson, Bezos et al don't get a move on, you may need to learn Mandarin to read the loan agreement.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

"Dear [BLOG WRITER], I Have Such A Deal For You..."

I get them at the rate of one or two a month. Some are semi-polished, one-size-fits-none form letters, others seem to be a little more personal. Some are mass e-mailed, some aren't.

They all start out offering me some wonderful opportunity:

"Link to the site that does X" (in which "X" is usually something you can get Bing or Google or Wolfram|Alpha to do if you tickle them correctly. So why bother?).

"Get a free review copy of my book!" (No. Tell me where I can buy it and if the price is within my budget, I will review it; I think getting a freebie instead of paying for it affects my ability to give a fair review. I've done so once and I lucked out, it was a good book, but I'm not chancing it again. If you shy away from that, then maybe you need to sit down and do some editing.)

"Slip in links to our cheap crap valued advertisers and we'll toss you a nickel." (Oh, hells no. If ever I get that desperate, I'll cut out the middleman and go yell at cars -- it pays better and at least you're not screwing your friends.)

"Let me write for your blog and slip in links to cheap crap valued advertisers." (The best was the one who wanted to do that for I Work On A Starship; I keep meaning to write back and ask about how strong her grasp is of calculus, astronomy, Alcubierre's FTL metric and Heim-Dröscher theory, not to mention who Gobau was, what the Glocke supposedly did, and the real reason Byrd went back to the South Pole so soon after WW II, but I suppose it would be wasted. A pity; I really should do a Writer's Guide for the Hidden Frontier one of these days, though I fear my maths aren't up to it.)

Gosh, I miss Burma-Shave signs and ciggie ads jammed in the middle of paperback books; this new way of advertising is like havin' snakes wanting to get all snuggly.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The War On Everything: We All Lose

Trayvon Martin is only one of the more recent casualties; George Zimmerman is likely to follow, dead or in prison because the electorate is foolish and the politicians we elect are even more so.

I can't flip through the channels without tripping over some race-baiting pundit or pol reframing the case to suit the grind of his particular axe. It's easy to blame them for the opportunistic bloodweasels that they are, but that's too facile.

They operate in the world we all made. The world of zero-sum handouts, where every man's your competitor and your "team" is whatever racioethnic special-needs subgroup genetics and your putative peers have hammered you into, no matter how bad a fit square-peg you may be to that round hole. Less for you is more for the other guy -- and it's the other guy who's keeping you down/attacking your young women/holding you up/taxing you broke/whatever badness du jour is happening, and to you and yours more than most.

Swim in that sea long enough -- and we all do, tune in USA Today or pick up CNN and you're up to you neck in it; watch C-SPAN and it's over your head -- and it sinks into your soul, permeates your brain and before you know it, you start to talk the same crap as those around you.

FACT: I wasn't at that apartment complex and neither were you.

FACT: I'm neither $DIETY or Dick Tracy: I didn't see what happened and I can't reconstruct it from what I read in the papers (etc.). Maybe you are one of those entities, in which case there are sick to be healed and a missing aviatrix to locate -- what're you waitin' for?

FACT: Florida has a criminal justice system. They have civil courts. There's exactly one (1) suspect in the shooting of Treyvon Martin and nobody is patting him on the back or slipping him a wink and a nod. He's standing at the entrance to the meat-grinder now and there's no going back. What will come out at the far end of the process will be -- at best -- as much truth as can be wrung from the available evidence and testimony. It's all we'll get. It's all anyone gets.

FACT: There's a whole Federal justice system too, and their dander is up. If there's a prosecutable offense to be found, they are going to winkle it out. Count on it; good or ill, it will happen.

But here's the deal: our governments have spent the last what, sixty years waging a War On Poverty, which turned out to be a war on poor people; they've been waging various phases of a War On Drugs for even longer, which turned out to be a war on the drugs poor people use. And they've been waging plain ol' War-type Wars, which turn out to be places where some of the best and brightest of the poor go, learn new skills and come home with limbs shot off.

The poor are disproportionately African-American and thanks in large part to Wars On A Noun, so's the population of this country's prisons. I'm not gonna play the dozens about who has it worse or how many (screw that game, see above) but I will point out that it's a short damn step from seeing those around you end up on the losing end to assuming anyone who isn't like you and yours will, in any conflict, get breaks you wouldn't -- even without the Very Reverend Al Sharpton doing his best to whip up that good ol' hatin' feeling. 'Cos more for them is less for you; if you've been getting less justice, what'll you figure the other guy is getting?

Oh, dammit.

Welcome to the world. The one we built. The one we begged politicians to build. Ooops.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Why Lawnmowing Makes Me Sad (Plus, A Bleg!)

The front lawn at Roseholme (and the other neighbor's house):I don't know what they are (probably some kind of weed) but we have way more of these little white flowers than anyone else, a carpet on the lawn. Do any of you know what they are?I'm mystified -- but I like 'em. (So it's probably deadly nightshade or suchlike.)

Lost In Wikipedia

The three tabs still open read "Alexamenos graffito," "Moroccan tea culture" and "Bracteate." --And in getting there, I learned about Kilroy-was-here's older brothers, "Foo" and "Texino."

Man, that thing's addictive.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Office Inflation Pool

How long before the $100,000 Bar actually costs a hundred grand?* Pick a date!

...But read the fine print carefully: parent multinat Nestlé, with a yearly income comparable to that of Brunei and roots going back to the late 1860s, is no stranger to the effects of hyperinflation and some years back, carefully renamed the candy "100 GRAND." ...By the time the price matches the old name, they'll either have re-renamed it 100 TRILLION, or be pointing out they no longer claim any particular monetary unit for it to be as good as a hundred grand of.
* TV goof Stephen Colbert asked much the same thing in 2011 -- but we hasn't he wasn't† the first by a long chalk, so I don't feel bad about finding out after having asked myself the question.
† And This Is Your Brain On Lack Of Sleep: the Spoonerization passed entirely outside my notice, despite multiple edits to correct other problems. (Mike James found it, thanks!) I was trying to wrest my days back around after working an earlybird shift Sunday. How well did it work? It's 0433 Monday as I type. I've read 7/8 of The Hunger Games since waking up at 0315. Yeah, gonna be a loooong day.