Thursday, March 31, 2016


     I spent some time yesterday at a radar site my employer owns.  It's haunted.  Benevolently haunted, but haunted nevertheless.
      Radar, you see, was the special province of my late co-worker Dave B. -- the main source for the character "Handsome Dave" in my Hidden Frontier stories -- and it bears his imprint through and through: notes posted on the equipment, the careful-but-not-fussy way tools and supplies are organized, odds and ends of infrastructure, labels on the less-obvious widgetry.

     I started up the stairs -- a dizzying spiral climb, 100 feet to the top -- and was reminded of the hot day the radar acted up and Dave went to the site alone, charged up the stairs, reached the top (over a hundred degrees, the thing was a chimney with no outlet before we added thermostatic vents), opened the door to the outside walkway and collapsed, only to wake a few minutes later, looking down through the grating deck at concrete and gravel far below while his cellphone buzzed with a call from the office, wondering if he was there yet.  It's a measure of the man that he told the story with a laugh -- and he disliked heights intensely.

     The equipment is crammed into a tiny space inside the base of the radar tower; two people fit but they can't pass one another.  I was taking an RF jumper apart to make a power measurement and reached over to the toolbox for an SMA connector wrench.  The wrench drawer had the usual assortment, with a flat bag of tiny "ignition wrenches." One of them was sitting next to the bag and I picked it up first, confident it would be be 5/16", the standard size for those connectors.  Yep, it was.  Thanks, Dave.

     When my co-worker and I left, we made sure tools were up and the site was in good order.  I'm not quite that organized and neither is he -- but Dave would have razzed us about it if we'd left a mess.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Texas Boob Police?

     It is claimed* that Texas state legislator Debbie Riddle wants to restrict breastfeeding by moms with breasts "larger than a C-cup."  Presumably there'd be breast-size police.  Maybe they can train with the North Carolina Washroom Patrol?

     The critical difference between Texas and North Carolina would be that in the Lone Star state, it's a legislator's notion; NC has got themselves a law.  As nearly as a websearch can tell, there's been exactly one (1) case of a male-looking male showing up in the women's locker room and that instance appears to be attention-grabbing agitation akin to the anti-gunners who circulated a petition to allow open carry at the GOPs national convention.

     Over here in the real world, publicly breastfeeding mothers are in fact feeding their offspring, people using the washroom are there to eliminate waste (with the exception of a subset of gay men who are, at least, not in the wrong loo and who society can now shame for not gettin' married to some fellow and settling down, since it's legal), and the reason you can't carry a gun at a national political convention is not because "guns're bad, mmm-kay?" but because there are plenty of guns there already, in the hands of nervous Secret Service types, who really don't want to have to shoot you when a crazed loner™ goes after a candidate and you try to be helpful.

     There's plenty of real crime and real cruelty in the world; there's no need to go dreaming up new types that are way simpler to enforce (mostly by doing nothing) and then loudly declaring victory.  If people put half as much effort into soup kitchens and job programs...well, if pigs had wings they could hover over the mud, but they wouldn't be happy.  And thus, too, legislators and the shouting mob.
* It's a satire site -- click on "show facts" for the only marginally less goofy reality.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Mouse Babies?

     Semi-realistic stuffed "mice" are a favorite toy of both Huck and Rannie Wu.  For Huck, they're always prey, and get batted about, flipped up into the air, hurled and chased down with great verge.

     Rannie, though, can't make up her mind; sometimes she chases tem.  Sometimes she carries them around ih her mouth, making mournful-sounding cries that actually indicate she's having a fine time -- and sometimes, she collects several of them on the bed or a couch and curls up with them!   There's no reading her mind but it certainly looks as if she's playing dolls with them.

     And even bumptious Huck waits until she's left them to leap in, grab one, and slap it across the room.  We occasionally encounter Rannie looking at one or another of them on the floor, appearing perplexed.  How did that mouse-baby get clear over there after she put it on the bed?

     Rannie kept bringing them to me when I was home sick.  I thought that was nice of her.  Both cats spent a lot of time keeping me company, even as I sneezed and coughed.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Knock Wood?

     I worked Easter Sunday and I was still in bad shape.  The early-morning weekend shifts are as close to "fireman" coverage as we get and no major items of geekery-for-profit failed, so I kept myself busy in the Engineering shop and muddled through.

     I have higher hopes for today.  I slept more than twelve hours, I'm enjoying a healthy breakfast and I don't feel just awful.  It's enough, right?

     Better be!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Archer Returns!

     In the midst of horror, despair, groundless fears of reanimated New Coke and a Presidential race with less class than a bumfight, you'll be pleased to know the new season of Archer starts soon.

Saturday, March 26, 2016


     Woke to persistent feelings of deep unreality -- this is all an incredibly detailed dream, right? -- and I'm still sneezing, coughing and chilled.  Oh, better, definitely better, at least physically.  I can even taste the coffee a little.  But by no means healed.

     Maybe it will be even better when I wake up for real.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good News, Odd News?

     Good news: slept through the night, feel much better.  Still coughing/stuffy nose/sore throat, but better.

     Odd news: When I chew crunchy toast, there's an internal echo I can feel.  Yeah, that's inner-ear awfuls.

     C'mon, Z-pack,* do your stuff!
* Azithromycin, baby, in the handy hard-to-open individual-pill blisterpack.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

"I was feelin' so bad, I asked my family doctor just what I had...

     I said, "Doctor, (Doctor ) Mr. M.D., (Doctor ) Now can you tell me, tell me, tell me, What's ailin' me?"

     It turns out differently in real life to the song; what I really need is an antibiotic, cough syrup with codiene and three days of bed rest with plenty of fluids.

     Yeah, three days.  They were initially not going to let me go back until Monday but I'm scheduled for a weekend shift, so I had to ask and the answer was that it'd be okay.  I've got the start of a Z-pack down the hatch and so if you'll 'scuse me, I have a date with the sandman -- and I don't mean the guy who sells telcom stuff in Chicago.

"As Long As You Have Your Health--"

     Turns out the converse of the old saw works, too: get into health issues and other considerations drop by the wayside.  This is both good -- I have hardly even thought about the Presidential-election mudfight nor the Cuban clown show -- and bad: I gave the atrocity in Belgium short shrift.  The barbarian is at the gates but in this souped-up world, the "walls" are mere philosophical constructs and those who have no use for the many modern conveniences of 21st-century civilization can attack with impunity.  They need to start to be shot more often, and earlier in the attempts at their crimes.  It probably won't happen in Europe before the lights start going out.

     As for me, I'm off to the doc-in-a-box.  I'm better this morning but not, as it happens, all that much better.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Such A Long Way Back -- And Meanwhile

     Meanwhile, violent fanatics have blown up a whole bunch of innocents in Europe.  Short-term win for them; long-term?  The EU has been something of a self-caricature of European politics but the current wave of islamic terrorism bids fair to transform it into something closer to the warlike empires and alliances of the continent's past.

     I was pretty groggy yesterday morning when TV coverage of the horror hit full, lower-lip-quivering intensity.  It's easy to mistake this glurge for the official response, or to assume the pampered darlings on the screen somehow represent the feelings of an entire people.  Don't count on it.  Western Civilization will fight like a cornered rat once it has to -- and rarely even one second earlier.  The clock is ticking.  The ghosts of battles fought within living memory are stirring.

     (The clock is ticking on my cold, too.  I feel felt much better this morning that yesterday -- which only serves to remind me how far I have yet to go.  One step at a time!  ETA: One step back, maybe. Got in the shower -- and ran out of steam.  Sinuses overflowing, no energy, yeech.) 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Is It Over?

     I'm still not as healthy as I'd like, but after a long night with some fascinating temperature excursions (for which read "fairly miserable," I have not perspired that much from a fever in years), I think I have turned the corner and might as well get myself into work today and share the plague -- er, I mean, "I'm probably not infectious now."

     An unpaid sick day would be fine with me but it doesn't work that way and there is much to do.

    This is a cold to avoid.  The symptoms were severe and unpleasant.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Gosh, Last Night Was Fun...Not

     You've had a cold (unless you're some kinda supder-duper being, in which case no description would suffice), so I won't go into details -- couldn't sleep laying down, barely slept sitting up, awake every few hours, etc. etc.

     Feeling a little better this morning but not much.  Planning to follow my normal workday routine and see how I feel once I'm ready for work.  A nice hot shower can only help!

     ETA: Or not.  Big temperature spike, etc.  I'm going back to bed.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Not A Hundred Percent

     In fact, given the difficulty I just had with the not-so-difficult assembly of a bacon, egg and ham sandwich, not to mention the number of corrected typos you're not seeing, I think it is fair to say I'm well below par with this darned chest cold.

     Cough syrup is helping and I'm only forty minutes away from my next dose, but sheesh, what a way to spend the first day of Spring.

     Upside: I can sound just like a cross between Darth Vader and Colossus (The Forbin Project), only in alto.  Telemarketers, beware!  "I've still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you."  Heheheh.  "Help."  Where's the canned-air horn? 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Different Kind Of Listicle

     I always thought "Listicle" was an icicle made of mouthwash, but it appears not.

     1.  From somewhere, I have picked up a cough.  It's a real doozy, like knives in my chest and throat, but strikes infrequently.  Took some of Tam's OTC "fix it all" cough syrup last night and this morning, I'll get something a little more targeted.

     2. The eye doctor got worried about "floaters" and other symptoms in my left eye yesterday, dilated both eyes hugely to have a better look, then had to put off the very last part of the exam because I had a vast and persistent after-image in the central vision of that eye (funny, that -- shine a bright light into someone's fully-dilated eyes and they get an after-image?  Who knew!), plus rainbows around everything.  I'd ridden the scooter, since I don't usually have to get eye drops.  It made for an...interesting ride home, down the best-shaded streets I could find.  Rainbows.  Sheesh.  (See, kids?  Don't do drugs.  At least not these drugs, they're a PITA.)

     All of which is trumped by 3.: Mom is back in the hospital, this time with a cracked femur.  Somehow, the geniuses in the "full care" area of her retirement home, where she has been recovering from treatment for pneumonia, managed to roll her right out of bed while changing the sheets -- and then loaded her back aboard and failed to mention it until shift change.  Needless to say, my family is greatly displeased.  My brother was in town, which meant I didn't have to carry my cough up there to chew 'em out.  (Need to add "hospital mask" to the list of things to pick up at the drugstore.)  Please keep my Mom in your thoughts.

     Which brings us to 4. It's gun show weekend!  The Indy 1500, no less, so prudence and good practice calls for at least a walk-through today or tomorrow.

Friday, March 18, 2016


     Tam and I spend mid-day yesterday wandering through the vast and wonderful Midland Arts & Antiques Market, located in an old factory just off Downtown:
      Here's a preview of some of the items I found -- I hope to have more of a write-up later, on Retrotechnologist!
     The top photos show an uncommon tool.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


     ...In the same sense as "truant."  I've been off all this week, doing exciting things like clearing away fallen tree limbs from the roof and yard, trying to make headway on the Many Things piled on the dining room table* (I have a new one to put together, if I can only clear this one and store it away) and so on.

     So I haven't much to post, really.  Maybe some pictures of the filled-up gutters?  Oooo, could be!  Look, the Rebublic may be lurching towards a whole new era of authoritarianism, but those twigs and leaves are not going to remove themselves!
* Tamara and I are a positive menace to any open flat surface and in combination, we don't add, we heterodyne.  "Is this your Electric Radio magazine?" "I dunno, is that box of .316 Frikkin Obscure yours?" "Look, a Christmas card from your niece!  Postmarked 2007!"  And so on. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Purgatory With Eggs!

    Uova al Pomodoro is usually known in English as "Eggs in Purgatory."  My version has a bit more pomodoro than uova, and thus the name gets flipped around:

     One whole sweet Italian sausage
     One whole hot Italian sausage (unless you're wary of heat.)
     One small onion or 3 or 4 green onions, chopped
     Maybe some carrot, also chopped (I have some tricolors: white, purple and orange)
     Maybe a pepper, diced.  Try whatever appeals -- hot, sweet, mild
     One large or three small fresh tomatoes
     One can of crushed tomatoes.
     Tomato sauce as needed.
     "Italian" spice mixture (basil and a touch of garlic will do, plus a little thyme and rosemary)
     Olives and chives for garnish if desired.

      Using a large skillet, squeeze the sausages from their casings and brown, mashing it into to small bits as you go.  Drain well when done.  (These are good-sized sausages. A half-pound of meat. +/-, is about enough.  Ground beef can be substituted for a milder version.  Ground turkey and fresh spinach, maybe?  Worth a try!)

     While the sausage is cooking, use another pan to saute the onion and other fresh veggies except tomatoes in a very small amount of light olive oil or butter; add them in after the remainder has heated up well and cook until the onion starts to go translucent.

     Pour the crushed tomatoes over the sausage; add spices and stir, then stir in the sauteed veggies.

     You want enough liquid so the surface is level and the mixture doesn't look dry.  Add tomato sauce if needed.  Cover and bring to a low boil.

     Crack ~4 eggs over the mixture. Grind pepper over them if desired. You can push little "wells" for them into it if you like. Cover again and simmer for 3 minutes of liquid yolks, 6 for soft, longer if you want 'em really firm.  As long as you don't burn the sauce, it'll be fine.  When the egg white is set, it's ready and from there on, you're just getting the yolk the way you want it.

     Serve in bowls. Sprinkle with chopped olives, parsely and/or chives to taste.

     Had it for brunch today.  Yum!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Eagle Creek Park Pistol Range Update

     I called the Mayor's Action  Center, and was read a press release claiming "a 70% drop in attendance..."  I find this doubtful.  The period cited includes the time it was closed and then re-opened with a new operator, which puts a real bobble in the stats.

    Also, dammit, I have a couple of ten-visit passes with only a few punches out.

     I left a complaint, pointing out it was the most affordable range in town and the only public outdoor range in the county (I think in the surrounding ones, as well); all the others are members-only clubs.  Does the city think only wealthy people should receive safety training and adequate practice?

     For now, they have slammed the door and are claiming it's financial.  Mind you, they didn't solicit new bids to find a cheaper operator -- and the current operator was not under the impression negotiations were ended.  There's a year left in their current contract, so who knows.

     It's worth a call.  (317) 327-4622. Ask about Eagle Creek Park Pistol Range and express your hope it will re-open to the public soon.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Elect The Wrong Guy, Lose The Public Pistol Range

     The new Mayor of Indianapolis is making his mark -- by shutting down public access to the Eagle Creek Park Pistol Range.  For vague, nonsensical reasons that appear to boil down to, "'Cos guns're bad, mm-kay?" 

     Might want to call up the Mayor's Action Center and ask them to reconsider. (317) 327-4622. Ask about Eagle Creek Park Pistol Range, and when it will open this Spring.

Dot. Torture.

     Tam had extra "Dot Torture" targets and persuaded me to try it yesterday.
     I'm sold.  Harder than it looks, good practice -- and good fun!  I like my lightweight Ruger with Pac-Light upper for this exercise.  Next thing will be to try a grown-up centerfire.
     Only .22s Sunday, including my silly, accurate 12" barrel "hand rifle" Buntline-esque H&R 676 revolver, with a nice double-action trigger.  Inexpensive when new and carelessly treated in its past, it still runs fine.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Fair's Fair?

     But what's "fair?"

     A TV news segment yesterday covered an oddity: differing prices being charged for the exact same web-delivered service (online SAT tutoring), depending on where customers lived, possibly their ethnic background and possibly -- the reporter made particular mention of this -- "economic class."

     It all seems hinky; if both the Smiths and Ramirezes receive the same web-tutoring, should one pay more and the other less simply because Dr. Ramirez lives in Chillicothe while Mrs. Smith scrubs floors in Elmira?  Unfairness!

     But try this on for unfairness: Smith's Janitorial pulls in a couple million profit a year, while Dr. Ramirez is still finishing his internship at City General and does well to keep the rent paid.  Consequently, Mrs. Smith pays a higher percentage of her income in taxes than Doc does -- so not only does she pay more for the exact same amount of government he gets, they don't even pay the same proportion of their income for it.  --And most people are okay with that; others might argue that a "flat tax" (both pay the same percentage -- ten or fifty percent, whatever) would be "fairer," and yet they'd still be paying different prices for the same service!

     We're not okay with that when it's a business doing it.  Why is it okay when a government puts a thumb on the scales?

Friday, March 11, 2016

Late, Late, Late

Had a nice "speedy" oil change this morning. For an hour and fifteen minutes! Content later. Honest.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


     How did this happen?  I cleared and reloaded the dishwasher while making breakfast, sat down to enjoy my oatmeal, read the Web a bit and suddelnly it's after eight?

     Whups!  Gotta git. 

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Well, Well...

     They surprised me today; one of the meetings turned out to be implementing some structural changes intended to help with the reactive/proactive balance in my department.  We'll see how it works out; the meeting did include non-technical management speaking of "improved efficiencies," which frequently means there may be one less chair when the music stops.  But I can hope for better times, right?

Okay, Shoot Me Now

     Looking at my e-mail, I see my afternoon will be solid meetings, all of them in the "people around a table at the far end of the building from actual stuff" mold.

     This is not what you might call one of my strengths.  Or interests.  Or can-stay-awake-durings. We're short-handed; most of last week and all but a couple of hours of this week, my efforts have been purely reactive, "CRISIS --> TROUBLESHOOT --> SOLVE."  In my line of work when you are doing mostly that, it means you've messed up on maintenance, operator training, infrastructure* and/or staffing† and if you don't fix those fundamental issues, it will only get worse.

     Pretty sure I'd have to set up my own little skunkworkings to make a stab at fixing that -- and I'd go broke in the process, too.
* Do not even get me started about the undocumented spatchcock ad-hockery of our LANs, a poorly-controlled mess with responsibility divided between two departments that share a deep aversion to removing no-longer-needed connections.  It gets worse from there.
† Not enough people, wrong or insufficient skill sets, poor management/worker balance, etc. A certain amount of this is unavoidable: normal play in the working parts of the machine, without which it could not move.  Too much, though, spells doom. 

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

...All In Good Fun (Ex Post Facto)

     Passive Aggressive Notes (dot com) collects 'em from all over for your delectation!

     Might as well.

     (Or not.  Like you would ever follow my links the way civilized people do?)  ;)

Monday, March 07, 2016


     Toasters and I have had a long, unhappy relationship ever since I decided to put my simple, solid Sunbeam out to pasture nearly thirty years ago.

     What replaced it was "the toaster with a brain."  It must have had one; the level of malevolence it exhibited would have been impossible otherwise.  Several others followed, all unsatisfactory to some degree.

     But the current one--!  Like most modern appliances, it was probably made in China or Mexico, but the way it treats bagels has me wondering about a certain European country and a time machine.  It's been cooking along, doing an adequate job with English Muffins and even pumpernickel.  Yesterday, Tam picked up a package of "Everything" bagels, a treat I cannot resist.  Popped one in the toaster this morning while I vulcanized an egg* and about flipover time, it occurred to me that I should have heard clicksproing!  I had not and a quick look showed the bagel halves were commencing to begin to burn.  Caught it in time and a little knife work over the wastebasket took care of the damage -- but this was the exact same setting I'd used through two packages of the aforementioned (just plain old muffins in the UK) muffins plus a whole loaf of dark bread and the start of another.  Suddenly, it wasn't just wrong, it was way wrong.

     I thought I had reconciled with the Toaster Lares and/or Penates.†  Now I'm starting to wonder if I even should.
* I like the yolk broken and fried hard, a kind of "unscrambled" egg.  And I wonder why they seat me below the salt?

† Penates seem to be the likeliest to be in charge of toasters per se, with the Lares making sure I check on the infernal machine in time.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

What Was That?

     Yesterday, after a morning at the Indiana Historical Radio Society winter meeting and a delicious lunch at Twenty Tap, I found myself feeling kind of tired.  Out of sorts.  A nap, I decided, would be just the thing.

     Climbed into bed around 2:00 p.m. and other than necessity, I stayed in bed, asleep or almost so, until after 8:00 a.m. today.

     I have not the least idea why.  I might be nursing a kind of low-grade sinus or inner-ear infection; they sneak up on me and the difference in tone from the usual headache, etc. is difficult to perceive. 

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Preemptive Cat

     Made myself a nice breakfast -- hardboiled egg and hard salami on pumpernickel toast -- and took it into the office, planning to set it down on the right-side typewriter shelf of my big oak desk.

     Nope!  Rannie the cat is already there, giving me an expectant look.  You can almost see the cat wheels going around in her brain: "Put that sammich down right here, Mommy! It will be safe.  Safe as can be.  And yummy."

     Sorry, Rannie.  I put my plate on the left-side pull-out shelf instead.  My desk looks like WWII-era or earlier government issue, a common-enough design that one of our neighbors across the alley threw out a near copy (in very bad shape) a few years ago, and wasn't that startling to come home to.  I don't know who spec'ed the dual shelves but I am once again grateful they did.

     And as for that sandwich?  It is yummy. Her plans thwarted, Miss Rannie has held her station to my right, pleased to be petted a little from time to time with my non-sandwich-holding hand.

Friday, March 04, 2016

I Didn't Watch The GOP Debate

     What's the point?  If you watched the Republican debate and you've got someone to hiss at or, better yet, root for, good for you!

     I don't.  Sure, I dislike some of them more than others, but it's a matter of degree, not of kind.  Barry Goldwater's gone, William F. Buckley's gone, and any lip service their party gave to intelligence died not long afterward.  The Dems went populist -- and smug -- at least a generation earlier and I will bedammed if I'll settle for choice of idiots.  Sure, many of them -- probably most of them -- are only playing the fool for votes, but they can't stop playing and in the end, they are all effectively cynical, hypocritical morons, driven by polls or other indicators of mass opinion rather than some inner compass.

     A choice of crude thugs is not really a choice. 

     No, I don't want to watch it blow up.  Why does anyone?  All my stuff is here.  I like having the gas laid on, indoor plumbing and hot and cold running electricity.  Too many people fail to understand that those amenities are not a given.  We may yet learn the hard way.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Mom Update

     Went to see Mom last night.  Her mood is good and the doc says she has "turned the corner," thanks to plenty of antibiotics and supplied oxygen, but it's plainly a fight.  Pneumonia's a nasty thing.  Mom can stomp it but it's hard work.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Super? Tuesday

     It has come and gone and two of the most divisive figures in modern American politics are in the lead for their respective parties.

     In my opinion, a vote for either one of them is a wasted vote even if they win.  Come November, I will happily vote for the Libertarian candidate for the Presidency -- mind you, I would vote just as happily for any of the orangutans at the Indianapolis Zoo, who, unlike the front-runners, strike me as humane and decent creatures.

     "B-but SCOTUS!" some of you will say.  Yeah, what about it?  One of the two will indeed nominate a partisan ideologue to the High Court -- and the other one doesn't much care for the rule of law, to the point of already arrogating powers to the office of the President specifically assigned to the other two branches of government. Disaster, meet disaster.

     If it's any relief to you those of you who have chosen sides -- and, really, I'm happy for you, that you've found something in which to believe, no matter how dire or asinine I find the thing itself -- I'm millimeters from returning to my previous policy of not voting at all and just leaving the electoriocracy to picking their very bestest fave-on-horseback while I tend to my knitting and deal with encroachments up close and personal if and when it becomes necessary.

     Sure, "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down," but it's the nail he doesn't see that goes clean through the hammerer's shoe sole and into his foot.  Be that nail.  At least don't help hammer your own self down.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

My Mom's In The Hospital

     Looks like pneumonia.  Please keep her in your thoughts.  They've got her on oxygen and the good antibiotics.

Went To The Range Friday

     It was a day off.  I did all right.
Mk. II, Mk. II

My target is in the center.  This is after about a hundred rounds.
     Ended with some one-handed work, which is the scatter to the right and high.
      Not dreadful at 21 feet.  Several magazines right-handed, one left-handed.

     Tam took a picture of me on the line.