Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Horror! The Horror!

     Caleb (a fellow who does not take his own faith lightly) posted an article on a gun store/range owner deciding to ban all Muslims from her business and why that's not just silly and prejudiced, but highly likely to land her in Federal court on civil rights charges.

     Cue the predictable outrage!  Including that old chestnut, "No member of $RELIGION can ever be a good U. S. citizen, because their first loyalty is to their faith."  That one goes way back to before the founding of the United States -- see, for instance, John Adams' 1765 A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law, or note that John Jay argued that holders of public office should be required to renounce their allegiance to [a foreign religious leader].  He got it, too, though the legislature weaseled by genericizing his highly specific objection.  And that same group remained a target because of their supposed un-American loyalty through at least the early part of the 20th Century.

     Oh, but wait, those presumptively disloyal believers weren't Muslims, they were Catholics.  And we know that Catholics never, ever (cough, IRISH REPUBLICAN ARMY, cough) engage in terrorism to achieve political goals.  What's that?  Just a few?  A disaffected group?  Soooo...nobody in Boston ever passed the hat for the Provos?  What?  That still doesn't count?  Hmm.

     There you have it.  If all Bs are members of set A, does it therefore necessarily follow that all As are members of set B?

     Caleb says no.  I say no.  Logic says no. The Civil Rights Act says our opinions (yours, too) are moot: operators of places of public accommodation don't get to discriminate against people on the basis of their religion.  Dang, didn't I just read some stuff about that in a Constitutional Amendment?  And the Bill of Rights passed in the face of severe doubts about the Americanism of members of a specific religious faith.  How'd that work out? Nation collapse over it yet?

     Some shortsighted jingoist is going to whine, "B-b-but, you're so dumb, Bobbi: they'll just use our freedoms against us!"  So, better to do without, simply rip out that part of the First Amendment, scribble over it, throw it away?  Stop being Americans ourselves?  Miss out on the chance to do what we do best, win over the decent majority with freedom while slapping the provably bad 'uns around, and substitute ruthless repression instead?  --Doesn't sound like my country, but it does remind me of a few, and things didn't go so well for them. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

I, For One, Will Welcome Our New Robot Overlords

     But for now, I have to finish up this mess.

     Doin' the work a robot won't touch.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

In Praise Of Sunday

     I think Sundays are a darned good idea.  A day to think about things you might not otherwise think about?  Brilliant!  A Sabbath to keep seems wise; maybe you don't use Sunday  -- Sautrday Saturday, variously defined, is a popular choice -- but settin' a day aside to not follow the usual routine is good idea even if you're as tone-deaf to religion as I am.

     Tam's "Sabbath" is the political chat shows and Inside Indiana Business, providing a level and slant of punditry (as opposed to raw news) she doesn't get the other six days -- and it keeps her blood pressure up, too.  For me growing up, my family had a nice breakfast, church, a huge big fairly formal "Sunday Dinner" lunch, games and/or outdoor play in the afternoon and no TV (other than Dad's sports) until the very light, leftover-based supper, most unusually served on TV trays, watching the Wonderful World of Disney (tm) or the like.  Other people, other observances, but it's a step off the track of the other days, especially the five work days.

     Me, well, I'm workin' this Sunday, just like last week but with slightly better hours.  This posting is canned, automated.  So you go have a good Sunday for me; I'll have one some other time.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I Got Nothin' For You

     It's been fun and interesting, these last few years, as a kind of semi-sorta-insider to the right wing of the Parties of Treason, but it's starting to turn my stomach, in much the same way that my day job's insight into the glittery media leftthink tends to put me off my feed.

     Sure, the Left is bad and -- at present -- a lot more real-world (as opposed to ideologically or potentially) bothersome, but both sides want to police other people's lives and both sides claim it's for the greater good.

     And the whining--!  My word, the damnable whining about people, lives and parties y'all don't like; I'd almost rather the strident blame-bleatings of the Left than the whining of the Right -- and both parties can't actually stand to look the naked First Amendment in the eye.  Like John Ashcroft trying to drape over the exposed boobies of poor, blind Justice, they keep pleating and folding and pinning, muffling a corporation here, swaddling a dirty book there, trying to make sure the other side's rich guys (and poor ones, too) can't get a word in while trying to make a megaphone for their own men of wealth and prestige (and a few of the huddled masses, brung in for emotional appeal).

     (Oh, and aren't they always 95% men?  Hey, "men's rights" whiners, I might be able to listen to you without giggling if the demographics in the Halls Of Power came anywhere near matching the ones in the hospital nursery.  They don't.  It's so staggeringly uncorrelated in favor of male power and male privilege that only the most self-pitying of adult children could even begin to complain about Teh Menz gettin' pushed around by Teh Wimmenz.  Nope, sorry, here's the issue: you are losers.  You failed as human beings and that's why you are single and still living in Mom and Dad's basement.  Where you will probably reside all the rest of your days.  Unlike most men -- and most women, too -- you won't face up to it.  Sucks to be you.  Srsly, if you're a  men's-righter, go away.  I don't want you around. Go, and take the strident feminists with you.  The grown-ups have work to do and y'all are in the way.)

     Then there's the tattling, "Senator X said so-and so!  President Y smoked the dope! Mr. Justice Z is a mean ol' poopyhead!"  The media does it.  Opposition politicians do it.  You do it.  Hey, guess what?  They're flawed.  It's no surprise when they have a skeleton or ten in the closet.  Nobody wants those jobs without being deeply flawed -- workaholics, people with so much to hide they figure they'd better help write themselves clear of the laws, attorneys with no knack for wills, contracts or litigation, weirdos who have never really felt loved or secure, philosophical whackos with an ax to grind: our government is mostly made up of people who couldn't function in a real job.  Some of them are plenty bright, plenty useful when kept on task; others help keep the chairs warm. The actually functional ones only do it as a part-time job.

     Nearly all of them think of the Bill of Rights as something to be read closely and weaseled around.  It will not surprise you that most of them have law degrees.

     The dear old Bill of Rights, a cornerstone of the republic.  The First Amendment has always been my favorite. Oh, the Second is nice, too, and there's a lot to be said for the Fourth, the Ninth and even the silly old Third; but if you take away my guns, I'll just sneak up behind you and clonk you over the head with a rock or a hammer or whatever, and if you quarter soldiers in my house, their appointment with Mr. Rock will happen by and by, too.  The State may seize me and search me, but they can't rummage around inside my head and come up with anything more useful than a pint or two of pinkish-gray goo  -- and that's kind of what the First Amendment is about, not just freedom of the press but freedom of belief, not only books and churches and free assemblies of hoi polloi but free thoughts. The First Amendment hasn't got any real friends, just nitwits who want to climb in its lap for a photo op, then knife it in the back when they stand back up.*

     In particular both parties are out to tear it down.  They recognize it for the obstacle it is and want it whittled down.  I haven't any use for them and I have no use for you either, if you are still waving that donkey-and-elephant flag, convinced you can only vote for the least-awful choice of dysfunctional losers and convinced the only good freedom is Party-approved freedom.
* You'll notice that sub-screed didn't address the Ninth Amendment.  There's a reason for that: it and the Tenth have become mere historical footnotes much like this one, tiny, insignificant.  The rot appears to be spreading. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Dead Air!

     Not the kind you'd notice, or not much.  Not that I noticed, either -- I killed a wireless intercom system used for a very critical purpose while relocating a different and even more critical wireless audio system, which acted up and I had to fix it, and then I went to microwave my lunch. 

     The nuking had just reached the point where the machine goes BEEP!  when the paging system came alive: "We need an engineer immediately!"

     Uh-oh.  As soon as I found out what was dead, I figured I had done it and after trying the easy stuff -- cycle the power, look at the front panel (where the little lights are going blinky-blink just like they were happy) and listen to the audio going in (A-OK!) and via the receiver (dead as a snake mashed on the road~~~) -- I got to do Stupid Ladder Tricks, moving an antenna from the far end of the very thin coax back to a transmitter.  Hey, that worked.  My boss was on the scene, too, and when he and I moved three more, they all worked, too; but from page to fixing took from 4:50 to 5:15 p.m. and they needed 'em at 5:00 straight up, so I guess it was a good thing I had moved one already, earlier in the day: it kept working and the users shared that one channel until I had the rest fixed.

     Did I mention the darned things are mounted twelve feet up in the air?
Click to embiggenate
     Yeah, that made it even more fun.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wednesday Dinner

      It's South Bend Gumbo: Kielbasa, some left-over pork roast, about a third of a baked chicken, plus a potato, a red onion and a handful of carrots sauteed in the sausage grease. Pour over a can of diced tomatoes, a can of okra-corn-tomato mix, add the left-over meats (cut up) and enough chicken stock to cover; simmer until it smells good.
     Tastes good, too, which it had better, since it's lunch the next day and dinner the next night as well, possibly over rice.

     (Why "South Bend?"  Look in their phone book -- let's just say you can always find kielbasa and cabbage up there, possibly even at convenience stores. Not sure if they have drive-though take-out pierogis or potato pancakes...but gee, what a great idea if they did!)

Reminder: Wear Your Seat Belt

     Especially in South Carolina.  Yes, the link goes to the sad video of a man shot and injured by a former Trooper Of The Year and now former trooper, in the opening moves of a routine traffic stop over not wearing a seat belt.*  The state policeman is now facing felony charges.

     They fill young cops up with cautionary tales -- real-life cautionary tales.  They make them understand the stakes while skimming over the odds, and then this happens.

     What nobody does is give getting-stopped lessons to those of us who don't wear badges.  If Officer Friendly is your friend, why wouldn't you park your car and get out, empty-handed, to greet him as an equal?   

     Yeah, no.  Officer Friendly may live just down the block but on duty, he's the sharp pointy end of the State (or County or City) and he's been told a hundred times about the LEO one state over who stopped a hopped-up bank robber for a burned-out taillight and stopped a bullet for his troubles.  His heart is pounding and he's got not just a gun but a whole bat-belt of violence, and a radio linked to the full weight of lots more where that came from; behind that, a bulldog prosecutor and judges and juries inclined to listen harder when a cop talks.  You're not meeting as equals, no matter how much both of you might wish it.  There's tremendous tension on your interface and nobody is more aware of it than that solitary officer walking up to your car.

       Sometimes things break under tension.  J. Random Peaceful Citizen -- you and me, or at least me -- is the most fragile component in this transaction.

     I hate knuckling under.  I loathe having to bend the knee.  --I like getting shot even less.  One of the best ways to increase the tension in a traffic stop is to proactively get out of your car.  Sure, in the right circumstance, it can seem like a natural thing to do, but it's a really bad idea.  Another bad idea: making any but the slightest motion without checking with the policeman who stopped you.

     The guy that got shot did both.  Does that make the shooting his fault?  I don't think so.  The South Carolina State Police and the local prosecutor don't seem to think so, either.  J. Random Citizen doesn't encounter the police very often; he or she does dumb things.  That's normal.  Officers are supposed to deal with it appropriately.

     Not all of them do.  Stay in your car.  Shut off the engine.  Keep you hands in plain sight and stop fidgeting.  I'm not saying open the window wide, nor volunteer for a search.  Indeed, there's a point where, "Am I free to go?" becomes an appropriate question -- but understand you're facing not only a person (as fallible as yourself) but a system.  Don't provoke it needlessly.  Don't get out of your car unless told to do so. (Where do you stop complying?  I don't know.  Ask your lawyer.)

     (What's the percentage of shootings like this vs. the percentage of policemen shot during what should have been routine traffic stops?  Here's a hint: this made the national news.  "Trooper Shot In Traffic Stop" rarely gets past the state or regional borders.  And for every one of the latter, how many stops that happen without a hitch?  Tens of thousands?  Hundreds of thousands?  Aim to be one of those.  Don't like cops?  Then lend your efforts to Cop Block, share the locations of speed traps, record it when you see police doing dodgy stuff; a traffic ticket isn't a real good time to be pushing back.)

     "Never get out of the boat."  Or at least not while the policeman is walking up to ask for your license and registration.
* In Indiana, you cannot (AFAIK) get pulled over on the sole offense of not wearing a seat belt.  Now, if you have a light out, don't signal, go even a little over the limit, then they can pull you over and add "failure to wear a seat belt" to your other offenses.  So this stop wouldn't even have been a stop. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


     I made my bed (it's sheet-changing day) -- then left the room for just a minute:
     Too slow! Tam's cat called dibs.

     (She did move when I added a quilt.  Came back later to sleep next to me.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Holy, Holy Hole-y

     Unholy, more like, with holes in 'em: my jeans.  Worn clean out between the back pockets at the base of the spine, where there's a funny little bit of spinal column or coccyx or whatever, a bit dished in the center and raised at the edges.  This answers the question, "If we put her in double-front work dungarees with durable knees, now what part wears out first?"

     Rats.  I've got to mend them, Carhartt having discontinued women's double-fronts because they're fools, or maybe too few of us do the kind of work that calls for 'em, and "so there" to all those lady geologists, archeologists, paleontologists, zoologists, botanists, electricians, plumbers and heavy-equipment operators.[1] Sure, us distaff types may only spin up[2] to ten or twenty percent of the total number of "persons who need heavy work trousers,"[3], but let's see, everyone times, oh, 0.2 for number of workers-needing-this-workwear, times 0.2 for female workers: 0.276 billion, subtract ten percent for the "can't wear slacks" wimmens not counterbalanced by fellers who don't wear trews and we're left with, roughly, a quarter of a billion.[4]  You'd think even just the Western Civilization part of that'd be enough of a market but no.

     I'd write more, but I've got to go sew a patch on the seat of  my slacks.
1. I'd include custodiatrice and charwomen, but too many of them are represented by SEIU and I'm sure the limousine-commies in charge will ensure they're all issued proper People's Uniforms, no doubt at taxpayer expense

2. That's a joke, y'see?  Distaff, see?  --And if you thought that was funny, wait'll you find out that when one sort of weasel goes "pop," you're at the end of your thread....
 3. As a contralto, "britches" is one of my three possibilities and perhaps the best, the other two being "witches" and "b!tches."

4.  And thank you, Enrico Fermi.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sunday Lunch

     Or maybe it was dinner -- I went to bed soon after, having worked a super-early shift.  The Mexican Pulled Chicken Sandwich at Twenty Tap, which uses a nice, spicy mole sauce rather than barbecue.
     It was delicious and spicy indeed.  I should have eaten more of my fries -- in an hour or so, the chicken and the mole got together and raised a ruckus that antacid barely quieted.

     Would I have it again?  I would; it just needs a little more buffering. Maybe a bit more guacamole, too.

Reading: Simon Morden

     Some of his novels -- the "Metrozone" books I'm reading right now -- won the Philip K. Dick award and I can see why, but Simon Morden's work reads more like a collaboration between Raymond Chandler and William Gibson. Possibly with the occasional bit of dialog from Yakov Smirnov.

     Set largely in the remains of London ("the Metrozone") in a much-damaged future that can be read as either dystopian or literally post-Apocalyptic, the first book introduces an appallingly determined, incredibly talented Russian refugee in the process of finishing up a Physics Ph.D., collaborating on a Grand Unified Theory of Everything, and, incidentally, saving the city.  Or most of it.  Madcap hijinks do ensue, most of it moving so quickly that you won't have time to wonder at what happened to your disbelief, trussed up and hanging over an abyss.

     While one reviewer complained the themes and plot "would have been more suited to a graphic novel," I doubt any artist could match the pictures Morden paints inside your head.  His action sequences (at least in the nearly two books I've read so far) are as good as any of Larry Correia's and that's not something I say lightly.

     Good, solid SF, like it seems they don't make so much of.  Equations of Life, Theories of Flight and Degrees of Freedom were all published in 2011, followed by The Curve of the Earth in 2013.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

"I Am Not A Number! I Am A...Dishwasher...?"

     Dishwasher?  Why, yes--  Tam had listed the dishwasher's state as "0," meaning empty.  But I just couldn't leave it alone:

     Then she loaded the thing and started it:

     ...And there's a weekend afternoon at Roseholme Cottage.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Eggs Inferno

     Not quite diabolic (though YMMV):
     Hatch brand enchilada sauce, medium; a half-pound of sweet Italian sausage; a little onion; a half-dozen very small oblong tomatoes (sliced); four eggs; some Manchego BellaVitano cheese on top.

     "Medium," they call it, but here in the Midwest I think it counts as "hot."  Very flavorful nevertheless and tastier over rice. More cheese would not have been remiss and I could have doubled the number of eggs in this batch to good effect, but I would have had to feed the leftovers to the neighbors.

A Word To The Wise

     Electrical Safety...
     ...Whatever that is.

Friday, September 19, 2014


     It's Talk Like a Pirate Day and I failed to point it out until it was nearly over.

     To make it up, what's a pirate's favorite letter?

     Sure, sure, I knows what yer thinkin', young Jim,* it it ain't "R."  No, a pirate's favorite letter would be...the "C."  (Highlight to reveal the answer.)

* What?  Yer not Jim Hawkins?  Well, then, look it up


     I'm not sure why we haven't had complaints about "racist subtext" in the supplies provided by the food vending service already --
     -- But I encourage everyone to stir coffee with their preferred utensil rather than letting some faceless outside corporation dictate the tool you use.  Sheesh!

Tiny Squares

     Very handy for setting up power tools amd laying out small mechanical work:
     Also, just plain nifty.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Healthy Breakfast

     ...Is what I am having this morning: oatmeal. juice, coffee.  Yesterday, I indulged:
     Sweet Italian sausage, a little bit of red onion, a nice Poblano pepper, sliced grape tomatoes and scrambled eggs -- and a touch of hot sauce.  Poblanos are not hot but have a delicate flavor, somehow "wilder" than a bell pepper and a very nice accompaniment to the other ingredients.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Seen In Traffic

A Bodger's Guide To Woodworking

     I've had a few questions about the shelves -- tools, methods, materials.  There are people with a real knack for woodworking; my Dad was one.  He rarely used cutting guides other than a penciled line, rarely questioned a measurement, and drew up sketchy plans if any -- yet the end result was square, straight and true.  He'd had a lifetime of weekends working at it, he'd grown up in a family where slapping up a toolshed or treehouse was a casual activity and he knew what he was doing, how to do it and no tool was a mystery to him.

     Me, not so much.  I work things out on paper, having learned the hard way that it's costly to do so with lumber.  I spend a lot of time setting up for every cut, and always use a guide -- a nice straight piece of 2x2 and a few clamps can spare years (or dollars) of regret.

     Safety glasses and gloves are your friends.  Wood is not kind to your hands and you will find a good pair of gloves will make the work easier and faster -- no matter how tough you are.  (I should not need to lecture about eye protection.  You only have the one set.  Keep them safe.)

     I use power tools:
     - A sliding compound miter saw for most of the cutting, a gift that has made a huge improvement over a circular saw and guide: it is much simpler to get a square cut and a lot simpler to support the work.
     - A router to cut dados and rabbets.  This is possibly the most useful power tool I own.  They're not terribly expensive.  Using them is mostly a matter of measurement and getting to know what the thing can do.  (We're talking about an exposed, sharp cutter whirling at high RPMs: a guide makes the difference between a ruler-straight cut and a meandering trail -- or a chopped-up fingertip.)
     - Cordless drills to make holes and drive screws.  You can use a hand-cranked drill, a Yankee driver or a brace for this, and I often do, but for a big project, a battery drillmotor or two saves time and effort (in an Indiana August, they also reduce sweat).  I like Dewalt; I have one of theirs and a small Makita, plus an electric screwdriver and here's the trick: load each one up with one bit necessary for the job, so you're not constantly changing -- or buy a quick-change drill-driver set.  You need a couple of spare batteries; with a total of three, you'll be be able to have one in use, one charging and one ready to go.

     I use hand tools:
     - Buy good-quality drivers and use the right one.  Phillips drivers come in graded sizes from at least 000 (tiny) to 4 (big) and the rule is "fill it or kill it:" the driver tip should make full contact with the fastener recess.  "Anti-camout" or JAE (Japanese standard) Phillips drivers often work better.  Straight-blade drivers also need to be a good fit -- "hollow-ground" bits are best, and a set of "gunsmith" bits are an inexpensive addition to your tools.
     - Japanese-pattern hand saws cut quickly and cleanly (and on the pull stroke).  For most  work, you can't beat them.  One backsaw and one combination saw (rip and crosscut teeth on opposite sides) are almost essential.
     - You cannot own too many clamps.  Pipe and bar clamps are especially useful.

     I don't push myself: a project takes however long it takes.  When you get into "gotta get this done today" mode, you will try sloppy shortcuts, make mistakes, leave things out.  Don't do it.  Divide the job into a series of smaller jobs, and set achievable benchmarks: cut all the pieces one day, set them up for routing the next, and so on.  Elaborate set-ups that have to be taken down and reset should be avoided: I usually route both uprights in a single pass by clamping them side-by-side but I usually clamp them and then temporarily screw them to pieces of scrap wood, so the clamps can be removed and whole assembly can be stored as a unit if I need to knock off for the day (or even a week or two).

    Work to acceptable standards of accuracy -- and not beyond them.  Not sure how to explain this, but time spent measuring and setting up pays off in the finished work; time spent fiddling with the work once cut to make it "pretty" is generally wasted.  Get it close, plane it down, don't fret the small stuff.  Only you know how good is good enough for your application -- but stop yourself from chasing decimals.  Clean, square and straight covers a multitude of sins.

     Anyone can build "good enough" utility furniture.  The trick is taking the time to do the job right -- and that includes learning materials, techniques and technology, getting your ideas fully worked out before you head off to the lumberyard with a handful of cash, and not trying to rush the actual work.  There's no trick to it; all you need to do it take one -- and only one! -- step at a time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Office Bookshelves

     I finally nerved myself up to attaching the shallow shelves to the deeper set last night.  "Nerved?"  Well, yes: all but two are fastened with Kreg "pocket holes" and the only jig I have is intended for much wider cabinet sections: it had to be held in place by hand, power drill with the other and mind your fingers, please!.

     All but one went well; the highest shelf with a corresponding shelf in in the other set was unexpectedly tough and the hole got off-course early. The answer to that was to get out a brace and bits -- they drill at whatever angle you start with and don't easily get off-course -- and drill at hole at 45 degree for the screw to hold the two units together. (My skinny "chairmaker's" brace was ideal for this; total swing is around 5 inches.)
     Not too bad.  (Don't mind the broken spring-suspended microphone; it's a modern homebrew and the Brush crystal element, salvaged from a headphone, failed some time back.  The suspension hooks need to be resoldered with proper hard solder).  One of the deeper shelves will hold my scanner at a height reachable without the present necessity of standing on a chair.  There's plenty yet to do but plans are for the next project to be a set of shelves on Tam's side of the office -- a Research Annex for VFTP C3I!
     (The 2001: A Space Odyssey monoltith-style view.)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Political Carousers Who Can't Explain Their Flaming Trousers....

     Ah, the new, revamped Meet The Press, in which yesterday, the President's poor approval rating and Congress's even worse one were discussed, with an eye to the likelihood of a GOP Senate majority after the mid-terms: all in terms of if it would be a good thing [1] or a bad thing [2] for the Democrats.  'Cos remember, the message is, "What's good for the Democrats is good for the country;" I think they picked that up in trade when the .gov bailed out General Motors.

     Me, I dunno; I think the GAO ought to look into determining if we could save money by outsourcing Congress to a private contractor.  At least then we'd know who the Congresscritters were beholden to.

     I'm pretty sure we already know who the Old Media's sugar daddy is.
1. "The Republicans can share the blame as things get even worse, then the Dems can come roaring back and save the day!"
2.  "The GOP is The Devil!"

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Roseholme Mushroom Soup

     Sunday night: mushroom soup!
     Now, Mr. Campbell turns out a nice version but as any practical cook will tell you, it's more of a starter kit, and gets used in jillion different recipes.  It occurred to me one day that it would make a great starter for...itself!

     I just fried one (1) strip of bacon (peppered -- YMMV), then diced a potato and cooked it in the bacon fat until it was starting to brown a little, added a whole package of fresh mushrooms (washed and diced) and once they darkened up and start to smell really good, I added half a small red onion -- also diced.  And a tiny bit of celery seed.

     Once the onion's getting translucent -- you can go farther if you like, but keep an eye on it -- turn the fire down a little, pop open a can of Cream of Mushroom soup and pour it over, following with a soup-can of milk.  From then on, it's pretty much follow label directions: heat slowly until hot, stirring often, do not boil.  I have a big pan with a clear glass lid, so I cover it between stirs and still keep watch -- you can do this but you'll be happier if you don't boil the milk, so be mindful.

     I sliced a couple of green onions for garnish, gave it a touch of paprika when serving and broke the bacon on top of the soup.  The flavors work together wonderfully!  This should serve at least four -- more if you hand out sandwiches and sides, too.  At  Roseholme Cottage, it's dinner for two tonight and my lunch tomorrow, with plenty left over.


     Bought boollitts at the gun show, in addition to the knife.  Elsewhere, I found other items...
     Check out the authors listed on those covers!  Perfectly good ball pein hammer, too.  The little turnscrew is more like paperweight material.  And the Russian-marked Nagant revolver ammo was in the glovebox of my car, probably since the last show.

In Which I Am Successfully Marketed To

    I was still a little discombobbiulated Saturday morning and managed to leave the house without my usual watch and pocketknives.  (Not to worry, I had the Leatherman on my belt!)

     This resulted in my looking at knives at the Tri-State Gun Show and lo, the Kershaw "SelectFire" #1920 caught my eye.  Somewhat silly name aside, you could hardly find a pocketknife more suited to the geeky/tech-y set:
      Nice blade -- of course -- and a flip-out 1/4 hex diver that accepts standard bits, four of them already on board in spring-loaded holders, two straight blade...
     ...and two Philips.  Along with inch and metric rules and a bottle opener.  (The bottle-opened cutout allows the bit holder to fit flush when stowed -- it has very positive detents at open, closed and 90 degrees.)  At the normal 10% off, I could hardly pass it up.  It is made overseas, so that may be an issue for some buyers.  It's a good knife, I have found Kershaw's product support to be outstanding and that added up to me buying one. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Four From Spain

     Tam's latest tests had me digging into my mostly-Star collection of Spanish-made handguns to come up with a short-barrelled .45.  If my Star PD didn't need a new buffer, that would have been the best choice, since it's a scaled-down 1911 in appearance (lockwork is quite different, though largely Browning-inspired).  But between that and her decision to add +P loadings to the test, my choice was clear: Star's rugged little "Firestar."

     The entire Firestar series is overbuilt and heavy for their size, by no means a "purse gun" but pleasant to shoot.  Since I had the case out, here's the lineup:
     That's a 9 mm Firestar Plus with a double-stack magazine that creates a boxy and (unusually for Star, who generally had good ergonomics) awkward grip, followed by the much nicer .45  Firestar and the sleek 9 mm version.  For a little balance, an Astra A-75 in .45, a lovely piece of '70s Deco that runs like a champ.  They are my newest Spanish-made guns except for the polymer-frame Ultrastar, a clever Glockier-than-thou design that was supposed to save the company...but, sadly, didn't.

Starting To Feel Human Again

     Got a proper night's sleep and woke up in the morning, just like a real diurnal animal, even.  Finished my Raymond Chandler book, too.

     When people say a Robert A. Heinlein or H. Beam Piper character is too competent, too confident?  If they snicker at the way John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee always comes up fighting, or Correia's O. Z. Pitts never gives up?  You point 'em at Chandler's tough-guy heroes, who are quite often right even when they're wrong, and are usually three moves ahead of the reader -- and four moves ahead of everyone else in the story.

     Which reminds me: if you haven't yet seen the BBC four-part miniseries about Ian Fleming, The Man Who Would Be Bond, and you liked the books or the movies about that fictional spy, or you ever wondered what a real-life Sterling Archer might be like, you should be watching it.  (I've read several fairly savage reviews, all of which seem to miss the point that, like a Bond film, this fiction-spun-from-life is meant to be fun, the cinematic equivalent of a box of chocolates.) As lushly shot as any of the Bond movies, well-cast and nicely acted, it's got an excellent score and none of the usual Beeb cheesiness of sets.  He's a hometown boy* who made good, after all -- and a very bad boy, at that.  It's Fleming's biography as he probably would have liked it. He had a good eye for drama.
* For a given value of "hometown:" the Flemings were Scots!

Friday, September 12, 2014

...But I Have To Make a Food Post!

     Corned beef hash with red onion (cooked with a few drops of chili oil) and a Hatch chili, paired with scrambled eggs helped out by some crunched-up blue corn chips:
     It'll do. 

I Slept For Twelve Hours

     Other than waking to do as one does over the course of a long night.

     Alas, no photos of the Big Breakfast Bowl at Zest I had for dinner: double-sausage gravy (a spicy, sausage-laden amber concoction) poured over homemade biscuits and scrambled eggs, washed down by big mugs of cafĂ© au lait. It was wondrous.

     I'll probably need most of this day to recover from my week-plus of early mornings.  So not liking that shift.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


     So, you're President of the U.S. and your poll numbers have been falling; the domestic situation isn't good and things don't look any better internationally.  And Muslim fundamentalists are once again feelin' feisty and backing it up with deeds.

     11 September rolls around.  Are you worried some entity is going to try to strike directly at the United States -- or are you hoping for it?

     Nothing gets the Gen. Pop. -- and Congress -- pulling together like simple, obvious adversity.  If you're a Chief Executive with a hankering for an FDR moment, a chance to mark down a day that "lives in infamy" has got to be tempting.

     If nothing happens today, the fuse keeps burning.  If something starts to happen and is nipped in the bud, hooray for those who thwart it.  But if -- heavens forfend! -- a strike gets through, there will always be that nagging little worry: did the barbarians make it happen, or did our guys let it happen?

     There's always extra room on the grassy knoll.

Wednesday: My Dinner, Most People's Lunchtime

     Belgian hanger steak, eggs, frites.  The green stuff is a pesto-based dipping sauce, very nice.  The red, home-made catsup, well-made but a bit sweet for me.
     There is a large, thick, flavorful steak hiding under the eggs.  It needed no additional seasoning.  All this at Brugge, Broad Ripple's delightful Belgian restaurant.

Sure This Isn't Monday?

     There's water in the basement from the downpour. Additionally, it appears the floor drain is either backed up or has valved itself shut (the latter greatly preferable to the former).  Either way, I've got water entering from unusual corners as well as the usual, so there's gutter and downspout work in my future.  And the milk has turned.

     I was looking forward to possibly doing a little laundry and enjoying a light breakfast of coffee and Cheerios.  Nix on the laundry.  The coffee's okay but ix-nay on the ereal-say, and that pretty well takes the enjoyment part with it.

     What's the old expression, "That'll be the sunny Friday?"  This is my Friday and it ain't.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tuesday Lunch

     Pork Bahn Mi, fries and -- very unusually for me -- a Sun King "Sunlight" cream ale.
     Managed to drink three-quarters of the beer.  It was very good (and kept me from over-caffeinating before bedtime) but I think I will go back to iced tea next time.  Since I went home and mowed the lawn before bed, I'm pretty sure that's a net wash on calories.  Right?  Right.

Go Home, Dishwasher, You're Drunk

     A recent up-to-the-minute high-tech addition to the galley kitchen of Roseholme Cottage is a dry-erase board, upon which Tam and I make grocery lists and leave messages to one another.  Of course, when you have a channel of communications with any fuzziness to it, that ambiguity must be exploited:
     Which reminds me of the book I'm currently reading (on the recommendation of Sydney Padua), James Gleick's The Information.  I'm barely ten percent in and thoroughly engrossed; it is as if Henry Petroski had turned his talent to looking at how we look at language and, well, information.  He starts with "talking drums," about which, it turns out, nearly everything I thought I knew was wrong.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

My Campaign Poster

     Shepard who?

     I promise to run on a strong platform of "Nope."  ...That  is, unless I start early, and say "Nope!" to the nomination as well.  Decisons, decisions....

Tam's Back!

     ...In case you hadn't noticed yet.  (Wattaya, live under a rock?) View From The Porch, link is over there on the right.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Wasabi Treats!

     Can't stop eating them....

One Dozen Eggs: Bonus (Part 2)

     The full Roseholme breakfast:
     Steak (best pan steak ever!), egg, mushrooms, a large cherry tomato divided in twain and briefly roasted on basil leaves...plus one (1) slice of bacon as garnish.

     The steak was cooked in the same pan as the bacon, once it was out of the way: the cheapest filet Fresh Market sells, cut into two 5/8" steaks and treated with a god good spice rub plus a little of the seasoning from their smoked mixed nuts (there's always way extra in the container and I sift it out so it doesn't get overpowering).  Remarkably tasty.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Water Bomb!

     I recently had occasion to look up how to fold an origami cube, at which point I learned another name for the single-sheet, small opening at one end cube is "water bomb."
     Maybe it's just me but my heart is warmed by the thought of little Japanese children patiently folding up a few dozen paper cubes...to fill with water and use like water balloons on the unwary.  Heads up, Mr. Salaryman!

One Dozen Eggs: Bonus

     Used up the last of the eggs the gift-dozen supplanted, along with the last thick-cut bacon and some lamb bacon Tam bought.

     Lambs on the left, piggies on the right:
     It's a B&E sandwich!  Plus some tomato.
     ...Because tomato.  Bacon likes tomato!

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Tam And Bobbi At Roseholme Cottage

     Tam's night when I'm on the early-early shift:

"0115-0430 Dozing
"0430-0500 Take out trash, see Bobbi off to work
"0500-0600 Dozing with TV on
"0600-0620 Cat feeding routine
"0620-0900 Dozing with TV on and intermittent 'wake up and fiddle with iPad' moments
"It's most of a night's sleep, sewn up from pieces and parts."

     Guilty I feel.  Work the hours, I must.   Sleep, I just sleep all afternoon and evening, hoping not to wake too early or too late.  It's past my bedtime now.  Laters!

How's Tamara?

     Asleep in front of the TV.

One Dozen Eggs, Parts 11 and 12

     Two eggs, a little bacon, the remaining tiny hickory-smoked sausage, onion, tomato, crunched-up blue corn chips, a little hot-pickled cauliflower, carrot, pepperoncini and olives stuffed with provolene and a large Poblano pepper, topped with mild salsa:
     Nice mix. I could have used another couple of eggs and bits of a regular tortilla.

     The only tricks are to not overcook the corn chips and especially not the Poblano.  They should be the last ingredients in except for the eggs: fry bacon, remove, fry diced onion and sausage (also diced), drain, add tomatoes, cook, add the hot stuff (or not), cook awhile, add chips, stir a bit and see what you think, add Poblano, stir once, turn up the heat, push all the stuff to the sides of the wok and scramble in the eggs.  Crumble bacon back in right after you turn off the burner.  Need I remind readers that more than one of the little Italian hot peppers will make the steam "interesting" to inhale as it cooks?

Friday, September 05, 2014

Dude, What?

     No, see, the whole point of calling the electrician is so you won't be...  Oh, never mind.
Names and numbers have been changed to protect the innocent.
     I'd say "Only in Broad Ripple" but there's probably an outfit within a day's drive of you that also thinks this is cute.

Tam Report

     Crabby, is how.

     At least partially my fault, I fear: more vacation-relief shifts mean my hours have been precessing from normal days to, as of this morning, a nasty super-early shift that has me asleep afternoons and evenings and leaves her having to tiptoe around and wear headphones.  Not fun.

     Irritants aside, the patient remains generally cheerful and spent some time yesterday afternoon plying the laser-mouse for the cats.  They enjoyed it; Huck does amazing leaps at it on the wall and can touch the red dot at amazing heights.

One Dozen Eggs: Part 9 and 10

     I'm on the early-morning shift for awhile again, so this "morning" breakfast was at 11:00 p.m.  Corned beef hash (one of the single-serving cans they sell at Wal-Mart) with a sauteed Hatch chili and a little onion, topped with two eggs scrambled.

     Part A:
     Part B:
     Layer Part A on plate, top with Part B and garnish to suit:
     Ahh, food!
     That should hold me for awhile.

It's Funny, But...

     Rannie Wu the cat will haunt the kitchen while I am cooking, getting herself underfoot and swearing at me.  She wants a sample, or better yet, a little saucer with some olive oil in it, and other than distracting her with tasties, the only way to get her to leave is to ignore her begging, sidestepping so deftly that she never gets an excuse to say crabby little cat-utterances or take a swipe at your ankles.  If she gets any attention at all, no matter how negative, she will stick around.

     The situation gives me the darnedest tip-of-the-tongue sensation.  It just seems so familiar....

Thursday, September 04, 2014

One Dozen Eggs: Part 7 and 8

     Today, it's cold cereal and maybe a grapefruit half.  Oh, but yesterday's breakfast: Andouille sausage, BellaVita cheese, a little bacon and a sauteed Hatch chili in an omelet!

     Turning, oops!
     Not a disaster: One plate:
     Another plate:
     It was very fine.  And notice that trouble turning doesn't ruin an omelet.  Just go after it gently and get it unstuck from the pan a little at a time.  So it's not as perfect as it could be?  So what, it tastes just as good.  Perseverance!

Tam News

     Tam was happy to bring VFTP's archive back and is deeply appreciative of all the supportive comments here and elsewhere, as am I.

     She remains as snarky as ever and has been far less stressed.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Savages Three!

     I had a Savage before Tam did.  They're interesting little guns, a "near miss" that enjoyed no small success before WW I.
     Here are mine, three of the four main variations, a wide-grip "1917" model (none released until 1920 as far as I know) and a pair of 1907s. The older 1907 has wide serrations on the slide and a solid cocking lever -- that's not a hammer, these are striker-fired guns.  The newer one has fine serrations and a spur-type cocking lever.  All three of these are .32; Savage made them in .380 but the larger caliber is considerably less common.

     They are pleasant to shoot when in good condition.  An unknown Savage automatic should be carefully cleaned and inspected and, like all used autos, shot multiple times with only one cartridge in it to check function before moving on to two in the magazine, etc.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Tamara Update

     The patient is resting comfortably, indulging in her various hobbies, and seems in fair spirits.

     (I should add that her silence has lent an unexpected increase of visits to my blog.  You're welcome, but like you, I'd a lot rather have her blogging.  I'll go back to my 350 to 400 per day if it'd get her back blogging.)

Tomato Flowers

     For a very light dinner tonight, a treat for taste buds and eyes, Tomato Flowers:
     Cherry tomatoes, cut into four or six segments left attached at the bottom, sprinkled with "Italian" seasoning plus a little salt and pepper, and let sit for at least fifteen minutes, then good cheese -- we had a slice of BellaVita that wanted used up -- is crumbled over them.  To eat, you scoop them up so they close up again and pop into your mouth.  The bigger ones go better by halves.  Amazingly good!

One Dozen Eggs, Part 4

    Huge picture, still learning Surface's image editing options, but the guy who guessed, "Some version of 'Pomodoro,'" was right.  Behold Cajun Pomodoro:
     Last night's chicken and Andouille sausage jambalaya-ish dinner, with an egg poached in it to tame the heat a bit, and very tasty it is, too.

One Dozen Eggs: Parts 5 And 6

     Pan-fried this morning and I was clumsier than usual -- I like the yolks broken, Tam doesn't, my hand slipped.  That's a nice amount of genuine bacon grease (and a few droplets of chili oil), which is why the eggs will move from the skillet to a paper-toweling covered plate and have all the excess carefully dabbed away.
     And here is number five or six, with some shadowy and very tasty thick-sliced bacon:
      Where's number four, you ask?  Ah, there lies a story: prepared, waiting, in hiding.  Ready for lunchtime and you'll have to wait until afterwards

Monday, September 01, 2014

Don't Ask Me, I Don't Know.

     Rest assured she is okay.

One Dozen Eggs: Parts 1, 2 and 3

     Blog reader (and all-round nice guy) Kerry brought a dozen eggs to the BlogMeet and gave them to me as a gift.  "But," he said, "I want pictures."

     The first three went over the top this morning, along with about a cup and a quarter of flour, a cup and a half of milk, and a generous splash or two of water: Swedish Pancakes!

     I love 'em, Tam finds them a little heavy.  They don't rise, really, though they bubble and you end up with significantly different sides; the first downside is smoothish:
      The top, when flipped, not so much:
     Really bubbly! (I should maybe call them "Moon Cakes?  Umm, no.)
     Stacked, buttered, waiting a sprinkle of sugar:
There are three round ones in this stack -- they are very thin.
     I like 'em best about six high (a three-stack cut in two and re-stacked).  This is the first time I tried making them in the 10" not-really-a-crepe pan, which works wonderfully well.  The odd-shaped pancake is the last little batch of batter.

     The base recipe is (correcting an earlier sleepy mistake!) "two-one-one"* for 2 eggs, 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of flour, which you should adjust to get a batter that suits you; it should be quite thin.  Scales up linearly.  Beat the egg very well first and if you want a bit more frothy result, you can separate the white(s) and beat 'em up 'til they start to stand, then beat in the yolk(s), milk and flour.  Adding a few teaspoons of water was an experiment that worked out okay.  Some versions include a splash of vanilla and a little cinnamon; you could try a touch of nutmeg or walnut extract, and so on.  The original way to eat them is with butter and lingonberry jelly between the layers but various jams, jellies, syrup or a little ordinary sugar works, too.
* Or "couple'a, cupp'a, cupp'a," which is how I should've written it.