Saturday, May 30, 2015

Huck Slept In, Too

     But he usually does.

I Slept In.

     Tam slept in, having fallen asleep on her futon in the clothing she'd worn that day.  The cats dozed, having been fed two hours before when I all but sleepwalked through setting out their breakfast.  It was a warm, drowsy morning.  Bees hummed in flowers outside, tickling them for pollen.  In the distance, air brakes squeaked and chuffed, followed by a faint hydraulic whine--

     Which prompted Tam to wake abruptly, saying, "Ohmigawd!"

     Bobbi: [crossly, half-awake if that]: "Wha...?"

     Tam: "The trash!  It's not out!"

     Much bustling about and door-slamming followed.  Tam hauled the trash can around; I gathered up the liners from waste receptacles* in the kitchen, office and so on, and by the time I had them ready, Tam already had the big trash can out front.

     Trash usually runs on Friday, but the Monday holiday had pushed everything back a day.  (Pity the poor trash-hauler: he may get holidays off, but he still works the same number of days that week, no matter what!)

     We haven't (as nearly as we can tell) missed the collection truck.  And, bonus, we're certainly awake.  Better or worse than sleeping 'til noon?  --Probably better.  I keep telling myself it's better.
* We are so high-class these days.  Those used to just be smaller trash cans, back in the Old Times.

Friday, May 29, 2015

When Spokesmodels Go Bad

     "Andy Smith, and all the staff here at Andy Smith ToyoChev, has learned to fear and obey me.  Foolish mortals, the new 2016s are here and you will buy one today!  Or you'll be hunted down like the dogs you are.  Buy now and you won't have to pay an extra twenty percent for being dilatory!  Hahahahahaha!"

     Less pickles and ice cream before nodding off with the TV running, do you think, or more so I'll dream more abstractly?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


     ...There's ignition.  The gantry's dropped away and we're off!

     Congratulations!  You've successfully entered orbit around my breakfast!  (Mind the cats.)

     Excavations were made later.  Yum!
     These are just basic "Swedish pancakes," flour, milk, eggs and a dash of water.  I like them a lot.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015

Not My Day Off

     Instead, I worked an early-early shift on Monday, and without complaint: most of the rest of Engineering worked Saturday and Sunday, long hours, with coverage of the 500 Festival Parade and the pre-Indy 500 activities Sunday, while all I had to do was be on call.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day

     The TV has tried to tell me to "thank a veteran" this holiday.  'Cos they slept through History and Civics, I guess.

     Memorial Day? That's when we thank the veterans -- soldiers, airmen, sailors, Marines -- who aren't here to thank. The fallen. That's what this day is for. Pause for a moment, and remember. Place a flag or flowers on a grave or memorial. Remember them. They served. They fought. They died. Maybe it wasn't in a war you approved of -- maybe some of them didn't approve of it either. There's not a darned thing you can do about it except to remember them.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Bad Logic, Slanted News

    The lede in the TV news story is, "Lower gas prices are making it harder to repair failing highway bridges."  (Oddly, other reports tell us gas prices are going up!) The story goes on to explain that with Federal gasoline taxes at 21 cents on the gallon, poor old Uncle Sam can't afford to hire repairs.

     That may be true -- but lower gas prices mean people are likely to drive more, and since the tax is per gallon rather than per dollar, the Feds stand to make more. 

     The news story goes on to imply that the Federal gas tax needs to be increased, with various sources calling for increases from smallish to onerous -- but "not as much tax income as the Feds say they need" is not the same as "low gas prices." 

     The end result is a news story sneakily in favor of increasing your gasoline taxes.  Maybe they should go up; the story certainly had plenty of examples of bridges falling apart, and claimed this was due to insufficient funds.  But it was inherently misleading and appallingly ignorant.

     Also, why there aren't more Federal toll roads?  And remind me again why the low-income guy tootling along city streets on a 49cc scooter needs to help pay for my occasional freeway travel?  If we're gonna pay to keep the roads fixed, let's pay to use them, not to burn gasoline and diesel.

Friday, May 22, 2015


Spaceship parts?
     Naw -- not on a block wall.  ...Unless it's in the blockhouse?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Locked Out!

     It happened yesterday morning when I left for work. I knew I'd done it as soon as the back door clicked shut.  I had made a quick bicycle ride to the supermarket the previous evening and had transferred pocketbook, cellphone and keys to a smaller purse for the trip.  The phone, I'd got.  The other two items?  Still in that purse, still on my bedroom desk.

     Ordinarily, it wouldn't be a problem.  Tap on a window 'til Tam came to see what was the matter.  But she'd left on a day-long trip to the Greater Cincinnati area a half-hour before.  The back yard is fully fenced: I was trapped!

     Well, almost trapped.  I had my car key and garage opener.  I'd even packed a nice lunch.  And I work for a living, which means I wear Carhartts or jeans; so I climbed the fence, opened the garage door, and nipped through to the person-sized door that opens into the back yard -- the door which, as it turned out, which Tam had helpfully left unlocked.

     Called our local locksmith on my way to work and arranged for them to call me when they had a guy in the area in the afternoon.

The Uncooperative Locks: A Short Drama

     (Opens in black, fade up on A Locksmith, working on the back door with his picks and muttering--)

     A Locksmith: "The other locks were easy, but this inner one, it's real loose.  The pins won't stay-- Nope.  Keyed alike, is it?  I'll just make up a key to fit the other two." 

     (Fade to black, with sounds of metal being cut; fade up on A Locksmith, trying three very slightly different keys.)

     A Locksmith: "That's funny.  It works the other two locks and the one on the garage.  Aha!  Oh, nope."

     Helpful Homeowner: "We could try the front door, maybe?"

      (Fade to black, fade up to image of a clock with the hands spinning,  fade to shot of A Locksmith and Helpful Homeowner at front door.  A Locksmith is holind four keys in one hand while trying a fifth one on the main door lock.)

     A Locksmith: "It didn't pick any better then the other one, but this key -- I started oversize and I'm taking it down just a tiny bit every time-- Ow!"  (Key turns with a jolt, causing A Locksmith to jab himself with the other four fresh-made and quite sharp keys.)

     Helpful Homeowner: "Don't open it!  I'll go through first.  Otherwise, that yellow cat who's been watching us in the window will be off like a shot.  Oh, by the way, how much do I owe you for this?"

     A Locksmith: [short, bitter laugh.] "Standard charge, sixty bucks."

     The End

     It took an hour and a half.  The locks here at Roseholme are old, but they're not easy to pick.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


     No, sign, the runaway children are not under the transformer!
     Nu-unh, not that one either.

     Had to wait for this big iron to cross the road last week.  Very slowly.  Which I found reassuring.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I Missed The Real Neon-Pink

     But I got a little of last night's sunset:
     It's always a bit of a dice-roll trying to get sunset pictures.  Your eye crops better than any shot can be framed on the lens or trimmed afterwards.

Monday, May 18, 2015

I'm All For Lean Government

     ...But not total lapses: I renewed my amateur radio license recently.  Any more, Uncle Sam doesn't print you up a nice new one on (what once was) anti-counterfeiting paper; you get a PDF file with "Reference Copy" over it in see-through gray, and that's okay.  Amateur licenses haven't had monetary-quality engraving in, like, almost forever, and not always the fancy paper, either.  I'm fine with that.

     But current-issue U.S. amateur radio licenses include a "wallet size" version, which you cut out and fold along a "Fold Here" line -- that is nowhere near the center of the thing!  The end result of following directions results in a size and shape that is not at all wallet-sized.  Folding at the actual center makes it about the right size and doesn't obscure or distort any of the information.  Apparently on some updating, the fold line was moved to clear the form number and last revision date, presently "FCC 660 - May 2007."  No one noticed until it was already Official, and then it was too late.

     Ham operators are, of course, just folding them in the middle at the "wrong" place and moving on -- if they bother with it at all.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Along About Noon Sunday

     I finally got to feeling better.  So there is that.  Got to the grocery and the five-and-dime, and there's my weekend. 

     Could wallow in self-pity, but on the other hand, my saved-up "Dayton money" is all but untouched.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Not Today, Either

     Got up, got to moving around, got to hurting, etc.  Back to bed.  Doc later, if I can nerve up -- last time was around $2K out of pocket and at rates like that, well, "Tincture of Time" looks like a darned attractive medication.

No Hamvention Friday

     Maybe today.  Yesterday, I got halfway, realized I was not going to make it, turned back and slept for fifteen hours, waking a few times for the necessary.

     "Too soon old.  Too late smart."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Dayton Hamvention, I Dunno

     Having carefully got my schedule arranged so I can can go to the Hamvention -- a huge amateur radio swapmeet in Dayton, Ohio this coming weekend -- now I'm not sure if I'll be able to go.  Still hoping, but it depends on what my health does over the next 24-some hours.

     Either way, this may be my last year for driving to and from the day of.  It's been just barely possible for me but it's becoming more difficult.  For years, I have taken along just enough to be able to overnight at the closest available motel (probably Richmond, IN -- there's nothing in Dayton that weekend.  Hams reserve rooms a year or more in advance!).  Having a room and doing most of the driving the day before and the day after is looking better and better.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"The Name Is Moore...Gordon Moore."

     Today, Moore's Law is 33554432 times as large as when it was first formulated.  Eventually, it will be larger than the entire universe. This will be Moore's Dualarity.


     It still counts if you wait until "day of" to pay your Internet bill, right?  Right!  But if it hadn't been a little hinky this morning, I might not have checked.  It's inconvenient for me if the bits stop -- for Tam, it's a disaster.  So in the interest of not bein' hunted down like an animal, I do try to keep it paid.

     Been having kidney-stone-type trouble, the bilateral back pain from last time (and, in hindsight, this is the same thing that had me questioning my mattress some months ago) plus other symptoms best not described.  Much ouch, plus the ticking-bomb wondering if it will ramp up to the same kind of agony that it has reached twice before.  It's...bothersome. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

FWIW, It's Facebook

     I should never have got on that thing.  Once I did, I should have been way more selective about "friend" requests.

     Made me just sad.  It may be awhile before I feel like saying much.  It clearly doesn't do much good.

Friday, May 08, 2015


     When you find a number of your friends are jerks, it's time to take a good, close look at yourself and ask, "What am I doing that attracts jerks?"  Then stop doing that thing.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

As Heard

     Tam, watching television in my room (as is her wont in the morning), let out a prolonged, ululating yawn,  while I wrangled pancakes several rooms away.  Rannie Wu the cat had been circulating around my ankles, hoping for Whatever and quick-trotted Tamwards when the The Yawn rang out, as though rushing to the rescue.

     Bobbi: "Holy cow!  Rannie just went tearing off your way!"

     (I heard) Tam: "What? 'Ready for the Redford picture, f*rry?'"

     Bobbi:  "Did you say, 'Ready for the Rexford puncture f*rry?'"

     (I heard) Tam: [snickering] "No, 'the sphincter fury.'"

     As she spoke, I'd followed the cat as far as the hallway and when I repeated what I thought she'd said, the snickers became uncontrollable guffaws.

     Ah, hearing.  How did it work?

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Busy, Busy In The Basement

     A little ham radio project underway, and Tam with her camera.
       Shot with available light in a not-so-well-lit area.

A Face In The Crowd

     A Face In The Crowd is a film from 1957 about fame, populism, and the media.  If the insights ring a bit trite these days, they ring no less true.  The star is a familiar face with a distinctly unfamiliar personality.

     It take about five seconds -- if that -- for Andy Griffith to drive all thoughts of amiable Sheriff Taylor out of the room, probably with a black eye.  I was impressed with cast, story and sets.  Technique is interesting, halfway between earlier Hollywood conventions and modern realism.  Well lit, well shot and well staged.

     Highly recommended!

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Back To Days

     Or is it "daze?"  --I sure missed me.


I. Lines

     Picture a line stretching down the block.  Oh, not a totally grim line -- the weather's good, near seventy, and the people are brightly dressed, contrasting with the concrete and block of the buildings, the gravel and concrete of the streets -- but a serious one.  Picture more lines, many more, a world of lines, a place where if you didn't work for one of the big outfits, or on a robot farm, or at the "School," an occasional missed meal was just how things went.  But how can you begin to know what it was like if you don't know why and how?

     The world was called Ryall.  It wasn't good for much -- halfway through a glaciation, which meant the temperate zone was a belt around the Equator a little over five hundred miles wide.  But it was warm enough to crow crops and raise animal, it had metals and fuel, and best of all, it was well behind the straggling, uncertain "front" between the Far Edge refuseniks and the Earth-based NATO forces searching for them.

     Once the Edgers realized they hadn't fled far enough and Earth wasn't willing to let them be, the University of Ryall, until then an otherwise struggling institution that by chance had an excellent 'Drive physics program, was cultivated as a major research institution by grants directly from the Federation of Concerned Spacemen (the shadowy Edger non-government) and its various military contractors, most notably "General" Filiaggi's Mil/Space.

     The population swelled as the War years dragged on, with people looking for a safer place (especially after the disastrous attempt to reclaim "Peace-And-Prosperity," the planet better known as Linden and, later, Lyndon, various professions and trades following work and farmers, administrators, manufacturers and large.  Agriculture struggled to keep up.  Distance made luxuries (smuggled from Earth or P&P, built or grown on Trinity or Frothup) expensive and uncommon and by the time the War idled to a stop in 1989, Ryall was a distinctly difficult place.  Government was small, hard-pressed, and inadvertently oppressive.  mMil/Space and defense contractors dominated employment.  Thirty-plus years of war and rumors of war had left more than a mere mark; FCS was reportedly considering intervention.

     A decade earlier, it had already been a hard, gray place for a long time, a place more than a world, and one with a job to do and little time or resources to spare for nonsense--

 II. 1979

     He recognized her as they both stood on one of the endless lines that had come to dominate life in Landingport, lined up for a chance to purchase onions or cheese, lined up to register or reregister for a work permit or a housing permit or a travel permit, lined up for inoculation or delousing, lined up because you saw a line and didn't want to miss out -- or face arrest for not lining up.

      Even though she was an unperson these last seven years, her poetry deemed wasteful, unnecessary, he recognized her. "Aren't you Sara-the-bard," he asked, but it wasn't a question. Students had called her that, back in the hopeful beginning, before walls had gone up around the School, before passes and air-raid drills and Security. "You're her, you are," he exclaimed, incredulous, delighted.

     She never made eye contact. "I was," she said, almost whispering, and turned away.

III. A Gap In Space

    Mathematics and poetry sound like an odd combination of talents to most people.  Yet they're often found co-exsting, happily or not, in the same mind.  Oppenheimer translated Hindu epics; Ada Lovelace struggled to subdue her "poetical nature," and Dodgson, well, you already know him as Lewis Carroll.

     Sara-the-former-Bard was one, or perhaps two, celebrated for poetry, valued for insights into multidimensional physics too abstruse to explain, insights she'd loved for the beauty they revealed, insights applied physics and engineering had turned into windows into terror.  Or so she feared; compartmentalism had slammed down and all she knew of the most recent developments was rumor.

Monday, May 04, 2015

When You Read This...

      ...I will already have left for work, some time before 0330 0300.  In the morning, none of your slugabed fifteen-thirty hundred hours, oh no.  It's early to rise and nothing but virtue, coffee and bloodshot eyes.  Or a reasonable approximation thereof of the first and second items, and if I am very, very lucky, someone in one of the other early-at-it departments will have brought in donuts.  (ETA: They did not.  And the breakroom's honor system supply of cellophane-packaged bite-sized donuttage is a nasty-tasting off brand.)

     Gah.  If we were supposed to be active at this time of day, it wouldn't be so difficult to accomplish.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Working This Shift In The Springtime

     I'm coming to terms with the thought that I may actually have allergies.  Sinus pain woke me up considerably earlier than planned and, try as I might, I could not get back to sleep, even after aspirin and applying the neti pot.  Ever had pain so bad it made you queasy? 

Yeah, Riots

     I haven't said anything about Baltimore because everyone is saying what they always say:

     "Yadda-yadda race,"
     "Yadda-yadda liberals,"
     "Yadda-yadda culture,"
     "Yadda-yadda conservatives,"
     "Yadda-yadda inequality..."

    All it really tells me "Yadda-yadda," which I already knew.  We've apparently got ourselves a generation with a statistically-significant number of folks in it for whom "tomorrow" is a meaningless abstraction, along with "property" and "hope."  Why?  Who knows; it's too late to fix it anyway.  Rounding them all up and tossin' 'em into jail just confirms their dismal lack of expectations. 

     Historically, one "solution" that usually emerges organically is to hold a nice little war.  As the planet is all out of Wogs and the French (traditional foes of all right-thinking Anglophones, recent historical aberrations notwithstanding) are off the table, that leaves only bloody-handed bastards in the Middle East with a brand of insanity that makes our homegrown nihilists look like Girl Scouts -- and who they are as likely to join up with as to oppose.

     "Yadda-yadda interesting times."  Sheesh.

Tolerable Corned-Beef Hash And Eggs To Start A Long Day

     A slice of bacon and coarse black pepper under it all helps quite a bit, as does frequent draining of the grease.

     I'm in the middle of three days of early-morning shifts, almost 12 hours out of phase with Tam:  my supper is a late lunch for her, my breakfast is her midnight snack.

     An uneventful shift would be nice, but yesterday they ran the gear hell-for-leather for a special event and I expect this morning will be filled with popped seams, loose rivets and mysterious glitches.  ...Maybe they found 'em all last night but I'll bet not.

Friday, May 01, 2015

On The Barrelhead

     But not at all for sale:
     From left to right (or L-R): Astra Constable in .22, H&R long-barrel .22 -- double-action, gate-loading, with old-timey ejector rod -- and my Enfield No. 2 Mk I (no star) .380/200.

     That's from a nice morning at Eagle Creek last weekend.