Thursday, July 31, 2014

News, History, "Journalism"

     Tam is watching Today and chortling, "You've gotta see this!  Savannah [Guthrie] is finger-wagging at the Israeli ambassador about, 'You say you're not targeting civilians...'"

     I spoke directly to the ambassador on the TV screen, "Hit back!  Ask her about drones!"

     Tam: "Drones?  The anniversary of Hiroshima's only a week away!"

     Funny thing: war is Hell.  Tam knows it.  I know it. Polished and perfumed professional network journalist in NYC?  She doesn't know it.  A blue zillion history books and documentaries out there and I doubt she's even seen Hellcats Of The Navy.  In Savannah's world, WW II, concentration camps, aerial firebombings, death marches, atom bombs and all, was a kind of multi-year Boy Scout Jamboree with some spirited disagreements.

     When the next World War comes marchin' in -- as seems more likely with every passing day -- it'll have stunningly white teeth and near-total amnesia.

     (Talking to Tam, I remarked the Palestinians are now into what, the fourth and fifth generation of  "displaced persons/dispossessed refugees," even the ones living behind real walls and under a solid roof; it's soaked into their cultural memes and it's not going away.  And on the other side, with the only cards that'll trump that, a nation with thousands of years of the same general experience.  Anyone who thinks there's a fix for the mess -- on a timeline shorter than centuries -- that'll work happy-good for all involved is either dippy or doped up.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


     They make reproduction antique stoves -- even wood-burning ones as well as clever fakes that look as if they should burn wood instead of coal a hundred miles away.  But nobody makes one that looks like this:
     Perhaps they should.

     (Found here.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Assorted Items

     - This morning's Roseholme Breakfast is Midwest Looks South-by-Southwest Hash, consisting of 2/3 country sausage, 1/3 chorizo, a couple of small potatoes (diced), three huge green onions (sliced), a couple of piced hot petters chopped up and the leftover half of a red bell pepper, likewise, with a couple of eggs scrambled into it.  Dee-lish!

     - This morning's news, mostly the missile mess, has Tam in a state of quivering And Now The News... attentiveness.  It's a morbidly-fascinating soap opera and we're all reluctant extras: Cue William Conrad! "Will Mr. Obama scold Mr. Putin?  Will Mr. Putin stick out his tongue and thumb his nose in reply?  Is there any way we can make them stay after class and write something on the blackboard five thousand times, possibly, 'I will not dance blithely and clumsily around civilization-ruining brinksmanship,' or words to that effect?  And what of the various and assorted whistle-blowers and the various spy-on-everyone programs who are undaunted thereby? [CUE dramatic organ chord] Tune in for our next exciting episode here on CNNBCBSABCFox!" Unless one of the nitwits decides to push too hard in the meantime.  Last word to Sturgeon: "...killed over 7.25 billion people before they got 'em."  H'mm, not quite what he wrote. 

And In The Nation's Capitol, Predictably

     --The District of Colombia's very own (and relatively new*) government has filed to keep their gun-carrying ban in place while they appeal the decision that wiped it out.  Who didn't see that move coming?

     Never you mind that crime in the District has been declining ever since Heller, either.

     It seems the Mayor and Council in D.C. agree with the sentiment I read on F-cebook recently, asserting that "we mustn't let the courts turn society upside down to protect the rights of a tiny minority."  Legal gun-owners in the District of Colombia are still -- alas -- a tiny minority.  Me, well, I'm in favor of the Bill of Rights, even the part that reminds readers the list is by no means comprehensive, that We The People have plenty of rights and the Feds are charged with defending them, not infringing them.

     D. C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan gets QOTD, from here:
“A stay would prevent the Council from having to unduly rush, which could result in a law that is not as considered as it could be, and limit the public’s confusion and other unintended consequences.”
     Emphasis mine.  "Time to feed the pigs," is it?  Tsk, sir, tsk.
* They got home rule in 1973, making D.C.'s about as young a big-city government as you can find in the States. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Someone's Headed For A Hot Time In HR

     Oh, the insensitivity:
     Also, wrong abbreviation.

     (FWIW, these are delicious cookies. Among the best I have ever eaten. Tam -- no fan of sweets -- had a taste and soon after requested an entire cookie.)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Retro-retro Keyboards

     This USB keyboard typewriter conversion looks to be a lot slicker than the earlier versions.

     If that doesn't suit you, how about a QWERKYWRITER?  Longer lead time, but slick as can be,

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Could Have Swore I Posted Something

     Nooop.  Storm blew through at posting time, lots of lightning; I shut down and cooked breakfast instead.  (Bacon/Swiss cheese omelet.)

Friday, July 25, 2014

And Here's To Not Getting A Decent Night's Sleep

     Did not sleep well.  Did not go to sleep at all happy -- I'm not chatty at the end of the day and I am fighting with a difficult bit of editing -- and woke up less so and with an aching back, which I have capped with barely-adequate French Toast and inexplicably overstrength coffee.  Oh, and a hammering headache to go.  Can I get chips with that?

     Such is life within my narrowed horizons.  One of the reasons I'm not commenting so much on world, national or even state-level happenings is that practically none of it looks good.  Republic stumbles towards Empire and on the main stage, there are no Catos, only would-be Caesars of mildly differing stripe -- and I am told with sincere pride that this is a "choice."  Yeah, no.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Here's To A Decent Night's Sleep

     ...Which I got last night for a change.  In bed by 8:30 p.m.  Awake by five, and that suits me, too, since I'll start next week "in the barrel," working two early-morning shifts as my day-shift peers and I do now, one week in three.  If I can get my hours precessed around sufficiently, it might not be as much of a burden as it usually is. 

     Still ending each day with unhappy knees and cold-packs on 'em.  This may be the new normal.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Unexpected Blocks

     There they were at our neighborhood grocery, looking like some Warsaw Pact version of the famous (and very trademarked) plastic building bricks:
     Thing is, the grocer's in my neighborhood doesn't have a toy section....
     Yes, it says "Candy Blox," and they were right next to the big jars of "penny" candy.  I checked: they do interlock, weakly, and they taste okay, too -- sugar, citric acid, just like the label claims; maybe some fruit flavor.  Just the thing if you're topping a cake for someone in the grip of  Legomania™ -- although it may give Junior Structural Engineers some unrealistic expectations.

     (There's a storm coming through and the power went out -- and stayed out for five minutes! -- right as I went to add photos.  Oh, First World Problems.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Still Ouching

     But sleeping with cold-packs on my knees sure did help!  I'll have to dig out my kneepads the next time I have a project.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Oh, My Aching Knees!

     I have now completed the second set of bookshelves I'd cut and routed while on vacation. Another afternoon spent mostly crouched or kneeling over the shelves while I whittled, cut and sanded has done my knees no favors (most strikingly my "good" knee, which pops, cracks and catches in an alarmingly painful manner).

     They're sitting in one side in the living room now, adjusting to the much lower humidity, quite in the way (though not as in the way as they were in the garage -- even standing up, they featured in a conversation that included the phrase,  "I was barely able to get my car out and I don't know if I can get it back in again!" They had to move).  Having gotten them this far, I'm starting to wonder if there's enough clearance to get them around the corner to the office or stand them up once I get them there.  So it might be there's additional work in my future featuring a saw, dowel centers and drills, plus installing a crossbrace on the top section so it can become a kind of "removable hardtop."

     All this, and before I can even place it, I have to rearrange furniture in the office, empty and remove an existing set of shelves that date back to 1980 (and are slated for rebuilding and re-use elsewhere) and generally clear the decks.  It's likely to take every evening this week. I think I'd better check on that "clearance to stand them up" issue before proceeding.

     ...With that done, Step Two is to measure the wall space between the new shelves and the window frame, in order to build yet another set of shelves to fit there.  (Is there an end to my shelf-building?  Probably when I run out of walls to put them against.  I should've bought a bigger house!)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sore, Sore, Sore

     I'm sore all over from hard work.  Spent all afternoon yesterday assembling the second set of shelves I had cut and routed while on vacation.  Of course one of the uprights had warped -- slightly cupped -- and it took multiple screws per shelf to pull in the center where it (should) get a good glue bond.  Is this wise?  I don't know, but I have done it before with good results.  As long as the glue holds, it doesn't much matter if the vertical piece develops splits, since it's bonded crosswise at every shelf.  Still to come, trimming the bottom from that side with a narrow-kerf saw and move it in about an inch: that side sits in a corner, up against trim molding.  Both uprights will have to be notched for molding-clearance at the back as well.

     But notice the construction of my shelves is such that splits along the grain are not usually a problem.  That's not how world politics work.  There is no engineering against even predictable failure and there are a lot of stress points built in.  Even as I write, Putin's bully-boys and/or "Russian-oriented separatists" (depending on who you believe -- and a third option, that he primed the pump but they are barely under control, is hardly whispered) in the Ukraine are refusing to hand over the bodies from the airliner they shot down.  Most of them were from NATO-member nations and more of that group were Dutch.  A large number of them were HIV/AIDS researchers, on their way to a conference.  ...The Netherlands may well be the single least-aggressive member nation in NATO but they pride themselves on being civilized; acting like barbarians to 'em is one of the better ways of raising ire.  And when the skinny, quiet kid who sits in the back at NATO club gets riled, what will the bigger, tougher kids in the front row do to help their pal out?  

     Maybe we're about to find out.  1914, here we come -- and without even a dead Archduke to show for it.  Likely to be some aches come of it.

Friday, July 18, 2014


     There ya go:

     Okay, the sub-rosa (for very small values of "rose") Russians in Ukraine are shooting down civilian jetliners, there's war an' politics an' destruction an' mayhem an' general unhappiness.  But I can't fix any of it; barbarians, like the poor (but way nastier) will always be with us.

     I can't fix it.  About all I can do is be decent to other folks and hope it's contagious.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bizarrely Symmetrical -- Symmetrically Bizarre

     Those are the only words that fit.  So...  I'm a fan of of Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner, and when Danger Man (released on U. S. TV as Secret Agent) popped up on Amazon's streaming service, I watched an episode, since it's (somewhat -- McGoohan maintained that "John Drake" and "Number Six" were not the same man)  backstory for The Prisoner.

     Alas, at that time the release started with the second series, which ran two years after the first, and I wanted to get in at the beginning.  Last night, I discovered that the first series was now available, and in handy 25-minutes doses.

     So I watched the pilot.  Set in Italy, a bit of a gimme but not at all bad for a half-hour spy drama.  As the credits rolled, I caught the name of the location that had doubled for Italy in the various outdoors scenes: Portmeirion.

     Yes, the very same folly-built-large where the entire series of The Prisoner was set; there's only the one.  Patrick McGoohan's career as a TV spy began and ended in the very same place.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

And On And On And On

     Towards what or in service of what, I dunno; it just keeps rollin'.

     "Shots fired on the East Side" took on a slightly different meaning last night, after a rebuffed masher in a car struck and injured the young woman he was pestering when she ignored him: as the hit-and-run creep drove off, a bystander took a couple of shots at him.  While it's generally not legal to shoot at a malefactor who is leaving, police were remarkably silent on the topic, focusing instead on the lowlife scum who injured a young woman. There's a moral here about the wages of criminal creepitude, and I can't help but hope this serves as an instructive example to creeps everywhere.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"It Don't Look Good, Slim"

     And it wasn't.
     Though it wasn't as bad as it could have been, either.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Oh, Broad Ripple...

     One the one hand, this:
     (Admittedly, outside the village proper.)

     On the other hand, in response to a crime wave, this:
     Oooooookay.  What could go wrong?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Slept In? You Bet!

     Tam and I I went to the Indianapols Hamfest yesterday, walked and walked -- and bought some neat stuff --
     And then on to 317 Burger for lunch.  I ordered an appetizer called "Bacon" on the menu -- just the one word.  They offer a staggering variety of bacons as a burger topping, so I  was curious what this might be.  It's more of an entree:
     Yes, that's bacon lightly breaded and deep-fried, with a nicely-spiced sausage gravy to dip it in!  Way too much for me; I shared it with the Tam and she countered with half of a ruben egg roll (with Thousand Island dressing to dip it in!).  Okay, you shouldn't have this every day -- or every week, even -- but it certainly is tasty!  (Generally speaking, cornmeal bacon [etc.] is milder-tasting than plain bacon.  This is not; it's loaded with bacon-ness, while the batter it was dipped in sings harmony.  I don't know how they do it.)

     I had to take a nap when we got home, then woke late and stayed up too late before making breakfast (open-face fired egg sandwich on toast -- egg  fried in olive oil with a few drops of chili oil added, then topped with a small slice of Swiss cheese.  When the cheese is melty, you flip the egg onto the toast cheese side down, season to taste and enjoy!).

Saturday, July 12, 2014


     I've started watching HBO's Rome (free on the Roku via Amazon Prime) and Tam joined me when she returned from New Hampshire.  There's a certain trainwreck fascination in watching the Republic go off the rails (any resemblance to modern politics is purely coincidental -- right?), along with a certain trainwreck fascination in the things the show producers get wrong, from details (a wooden "anvil" does not ring!) to omitted personages to elided incidents.  --And, both amusingly and horrifyingly, the actress who plays the immoral and licentious Atia (a combination of at least two historical Roman women and more lurid than either) is a near-twin of a friend who I know to be of sterling moral character, a contrast which is its own sort of trainwreck.

     Of course, the outcome is inevitable; but the process of getting there is a plot better than any soap-opera.

Friday, July 11, 2014

You Know What's Good?

     French Toast, bacon, juice and coffee, on a morning when I don't have to go into work.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

You Can Scratch "Drinking The Crazy Water" As A Figure Of Speech--

     Because it's a very real thing.  And they have T-shirts!

     But here's the crux of the matter: I have been all over that website and nowhere on it -- nowhere! --  does it say, "Exclusive water supplier to the national conventions of all major political parties."  Why do you suppose they'd want to hide an important distinction like that?

     (And yes, that paragraph's satire.  Crazy Water most certainly is not, having been a fine product out of Mineral Wells, Texas since the Nineteenth Century.  As you might except, that's where the name of the town comes from, and I am assured by those who can obtain it that it's very fine mineral water indeed.)

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Now It Can Be Told

     Tam is back, after two weeks plus in the cold frozen Northwoods of New Hampshire, replete with chickens and short-legged dogs and the second-highest beer consumption per capita of any other state.  --Only second-highest?  Tsk. Tsk.

     With two cats full of mischief, I worry what they will get up to without adult supervision.  Huck did manage to get the basement door open twice, but he was good about coming back upstairs when found out, and it was on the weekend when I was mostly home anyway.

Monday, July 07, 2014

If I Like Jeans? They Stop Making Them

     I wore bootcut Levis for years.  One particular style fit me well, held up well and wasn't too expensive.  Levis decided jeans that reach one's waist were passe and discontinued them.

     Hey, that's okay -- Galyan's Sporting Goods sold good hiking jeans!  --Then Galyan's was bought by Dick's and their clothing lines were no more.

     So I started shopping at Western tack & saddle stores, farm-supply outlets, and discovered the old traditional (non-Levis) brands still sold jeans that fit well and I liked...until, one by one, they didn't and Carhartt was all that was left.

     But hey -- Carhartt.  Good stuff.  Workwear, right?  Not too likely to go chasing fashion?  ...Then they dropped the heavy carpenter's jeans I liked.  So I discovered their Double-Fronts.  Not my blue denim but tough canvas twill in dark brown and tan.  And that's serious workwear, they won't stop making those, will they?

     They have.  I should have become suspicious when the dark brown color stopped being available; it's a little more popular. (I've got a couple of pairs in the mending, which has now become a priority.)

     You can still get women's Double-Fronts -- in a "slim," low-rise style.  Yes, "skinny jeans" workwear, which might work for me if I was twenty years younger and as many pounds lighter.

     Carhartt still -- so far -- sells some plain "easy-fit" jeans that should do.  Maybe I'd better stock up

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Serrano Peppers, I Love You, But...

     I should not have put an entire one in my breakfast. Alas, I had to dig it back out.  Tasty, but too hot for my breakfast of egg, good link sausage, sauteed Anaheim and Poblano peppers and rice.  Maybe if I'd used potatoes instead of rice, maybe if I'd deseeded it first instead of merely slicing it into rounds. 

     Removed, it left behind flavor and just enough heat.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Fireworks From Inside

     Wonderful Drone Tricks:

     Found at model-maker and aerospace historian Scott Lowther's Unwanted Blog, with gratitude.  He notes this is undoubtedly in violation of numerous FAA and other regulations and laws.  It's also a good way to lose a quadcopter and a camera -- and the results are worth it.

Cable: It Still Sucks

     Not me, I haven't got cable.  Threw them out long ago.  This guy, he's stuck with Comcast.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Independance Day

     Here it is again, that day with all the fireworks.  But what is it, really?  What was wrought this day?  From before 4 July 1776 through the first government seated under our present Constitution, what was going on, anyway?

     From September of 1774 through March of 1789 (when Congress as we know it first started up), the States went through three Congresses and various interim forms of federal government, generally with plenty of power to incur debts and wage war but not a whole lot else; they could print money (and did, in profusion) but had nothing with which to back it. These bad habits were passed on to subsequent Congresses -- despite an honest effort by the Framers to apply some limits.

     So we got our Declaration, and a nice Revolution followed by the Treaty of Paris, and thirteen years of a piffling sort of Union, so weak that, "New York and South Carolina repeatedly prosecuted Loyalists for wartime activity and redistributed their lands over the protests of both Great Britain and the Confederation Congress." among other things.  (New York was a troubled state; if you think their state government is bad now, consider that around the same post-Treaty time as they were yanking the ground out from under Loyalists, "A rumor had it that a 'seditious party' of New York legislators had opened a conversation with the Viceroy of Canada.")  Vermont sat the whole federal thing out as an independent country from 1777 through 1791! It was a mess -- but not nearly as big a mess as most post-Revolutionary nations.

     We are practically the only direct inheritors of the revolutions of the late 18th and early 19th Century.  No other nation created in revolt has endured as long.  (I'd like to tell you why -- the pre-existing tradition of self-government in the Colonies?  The foundation laid by English government?  Remarkably well-informed theory, brilliantly modified by practice? Divine Providence?  Sheer luck? -- but no one really knows.) While it can be argued the American Revolution faltered badly in 1861-65, even the ultimately-thwarted secession of so many States did not end the country it brought into being.

     What came from the Declaration of Independence has been so astoundingly successful that, indeed, "It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."  True, John Adams was writing about the second of July, the date the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration instead of the date of its signing, but he was right nevertheless.
     I'll be excoriated for this, but the inhabitants of U.S. and Canada ought to celebrate July 2 and 3, the days between Canada Day and Independence Day,  as "Co-dependence Days," in which we consider all that we love and loathe about our neighbor.  We share the longest border in the world without armies watching one another over it, about 2/3 of a common language and all manner of customs, habits and entertainments -- and we share them about the same way fraternal twins between the ages of seven and  twelve share the back seat of a car over the course of a day-long excursion.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Tools Of The Trade

     I'm still adding bookshelves -- this one wraps through the arch between the living room and library/dining room:

     Closer look at installation tools: Stanley hand drill, some hex-shank drills, a short-throw "chairmaker's" brace and countersink bit, "Yankee"-type screwdriver, little wood block to help mark holes in the right place, knife-sharpened pencil (a classic Mirado Black Warrior, no less!) and a big pile of clamps to hold it all in place while attaching the new bookshelf to the shelves on each side of the arch.

     This is first of two or three for this batch, I hope.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

...And My Printer Is Unhappy

     Or is it the driver?  The printer will print out a report of status and setting nice as can be, but the computer can't get it to print.  It's not the cable, tried that this morning.  Out of time to mess with it for now, other than a quick websearch.

Monster Hunter: Nemesis

     Larry Correia's latest offers a little more insight into one of his more interesting characters: Franks.  That said, the early going also delivers a little political commentary in something of a mirror-image of Stross's "Family Trade" series, though at least without the naming of names (a practice that dates a book rather badly).  It doesn't distract that much and readers can make their own minds up if the scene is really necessary.

     Amusingly, a common theme between Correia and Stross is the risk posed by inter-office wrangling for power in government agencies and other groups involved in the supernatural.  Despite their differences in political philosophy, both men recognize the more-immediate risk to their protagonists created by inappropriately-ambitious peers and bosses.  Office politics are a universal source of trouble -- and rather more than the usual amount when eldritch horrors from other dimensions are rung in.  Politicians of the Left or Right may indeed be wicked, masterminds and/or spineless but it's that unethical bureaucrat just down the hall who'll get you killed in his effort to get promoted a couple of pay grades.

     Correia's gift for "recipe not quite as before" keeps things interesting in the by-now-familiar world of the Monster Hunter books.  I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

It's Summer, Y'see?

     Still, you don't expect a storm to barrel through in the middle of the night; thunderstorms are solar powered and after sundown, things tend to start quieting down.

     Not last night.  About 2:30 a.m., a huge wind (71 at the airport, which cuaght as it came whipping into town, 40-50 though the city) driving rain before it can slamming through.  It woke me up, though so far I don't see any trees down around the house.  There are trees down through the city, and traffic lights out.  IP&L was reporting 20,000 customers without electricity by sunrise.

     And now the sidewalks are dry.  The air isn't, humidity is right at 100%.  Meteorologists are promising drier and cooler over the next few days.  I'm hoping they're right.