Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

--The other night,  I watched on Netflix the Miami Vice episode "Bushido" (Season 2, episode 8). Best television that the 1980s ever brought us.

--The star PSR J1748-2446ad spins a thousand times every 1.39595482 seconds. It's outer surface moves at 24% of the speed of light. It orbits another star every 26 hours.

I want a pocket steam engine.

--My wife went to Corpus Christi last Tuesday night, and flew back Thursday morning. She grew up there, but said that it felt nothing like the town that she grew up in.

--Sports Illustrated put out a casting call for people that were at the bombing at the Boston Marathon last year. Here's their cover picture. For some reason, that puts a lump in my throat. I hope that Boston doesn't overreact to their terrorism incident like New York did to theirs.

--I've responded to two structure fires in the past month while doing my police gig. At one, I attached a 5" supply hose to the engine and got water started before digging our my PD thermal imaging camera and helping by telling firefighters where the real heat was on the roof. The other one, I just did a size-up and emptied a 15 pound dry chemical fire extinguisher onto peripherals that were burning, and got people out of the way as the apparatus arrived. In both fires, the most important thing that anyone seems to care that I did was to get initial scene pictures. 

--It's amazing the good that the American Red Cross does when there is a residential structure fire. When one A.R.C. lady arrived in the cold windy night and handed out cups of fresh hot coffee and granola bars, I restrained myself from kissing her (and her crusty male partner) on the mouth. They put the family up for the night, and provided other services. Support the American Red Cross.

--The Red River border dispute yet rages, but this time in the new light of the Bureau of Land Management making claim to private lands along the river. Here you see a news story which pivots on the definition of "accretion" and "avulsion" with regard to erosion and deposits.

--I am attending the NRA convention in Indianapolis on the weekend of the 25th of April. I purchased the tickets to go, before learning that this was also the weekend of the family reunion. The family reunion is always the Sunday following Easter. I never can remember when that is. The  First Council of Nicaea (325 AD) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the March equinox. But there can be disputes. Check out this table of possible dates for Easter. Moveable feasts make little sense to me. Pick a date, and stick to it!

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Dispatches from the front.

Imagine your own descent toward death, and blogging it.

3BoyMom takes us a long way in one single moderate post.

She boils it down, so it's actually not dreary.

But you can taste the copper in her mouth as the blood drains away at the realization that the news is real, as the explanations become very hollow and distant because it all is a sum that equates to death.

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Thursday, March 06, 2014

New rule.

My wife is no longer to keep Kale Chips in the pantry. 
The pantry is where we keep food. 
I thought that there was food in there. 
I don't even know if food will eat kale, more less dehydrated kale chips. Can I get a ruling, Farm Family

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

State Of The Union

I'm relatively sure that no one walks away with a new perspective after having watched the State Of The Union Address, so why bother watching it live? If you hate the President, you'll reiterate that. If you love him, you'll underscore that.

In the meantime, check out this interesting piece that charts that words used by past U.S. presidents in their State Of The Union addresses, entitled "Hindsight Is 20/20." The words that most used certainly indicate what was on the mind of the President at the time.

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Lines Of Departure

So, my friend Marko Kloos today celebrates the release of the second book in his science fiction trilogy. In his first big release, Terms Of Enlistment, Marko introduced us to the not-too-distant future world in which Earth is colonizing as fast as it can, and needs extra-terrestrial Terran military to assist in this (and to quell the riots back home on a rapidly-deteriorating Earth.).

Now, his protagonist is a veteran, who has relationships in the military, and takes the next step in his career as an off-world soldier.

I've read a couple of chapters today, and it's smart writing that reads easily.

I hear that one might should keep an eye out for certain characters that we may know, too.

One of the joys of having a Kindle and an Amazon account is being able to instantly download Lines Of Departure for $4.99.

Marko is a good writer, who can do that magical thing, wherein he conjures up characters out of whole cloth, and keeps them true to their nature. When one questions whether a book is plot-driven or character-driven, the answer ideally should be "both," because the nature of the characters develop the plot. Marko Kloos writes plots, with characters whom you know, after awhile.

In this one, his spacefaring soldiers address 80-foot-tall alien invaders who are taking over planets that Terrain colonists have been terraforming. For starters.

Go read.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Late-January points.

--The guys who built a 30 foot tall bronze statue of Nelson Mandela weren't allowed to sign their work. Whether this was because of unease about having white South Africans be recognized for the work, or just to maintain that the statue was for all is unknown, but they decided to add a signature to the statue. They put a bunny in the ear.

It turns out that they were pushed to work quickly, and the Afrikaans word for "haste" is "haas," which also translates to "rabbit."  Now they've admitted that it's there, and have been ordered to remove it. This seems odd to me. Would we as a nation have minded if Bartholdi had signed the Statue Of Liberty? (Maybe he did. I don't know.) Did we demand that the little o be fixed when we discovered that the engravers who designed the U.S. penny intentionally wrought "UNITED STATES oF AMERICA" on our 1¢ piece?  Heck, no. We embraced it for over half a century.

--I'm afraid that I'm going to have to buy a Glock 42.

--The new S&W model 69 5-shot L-frame .44 Magnum looks interesting. Now, can they make a 369, with an alloy frame and titanium cylinder? Oh, I wouldn't much want to shoot Magnums through it, but it would be fun for carrying Specials in, with the chance for magnums in bear country.

--But of course, the M396 has taught us that it would probably become a kinetic bullet puller. Question: If you loaded the gun with 5 light-bullet loads (say, 165g or less), and one magnum heavy load for the first shot, would it be more or less likely to make the 4 remaining loads jump their crimp? What if the first round was a Special, and the second shot was a heavy bullet? How did they deal with the problem when they made the 329PD?

--Chief O'Brien had a bad job. This one made me giggle. Well, so did this one.

--I've had the theme song to The Love Boat in my head, for the last three days, now. I'm certain that I've never actually watched a full episode of that show. I will say that my voice bottoms out in the opening words pretty well, though I can't help warbling the word "new" like a lounge singer:
"Love. Exciting and new...."

--If the weather gets warmer this week, I plan a shooting date to try out a carbine, but not a high-dollar one. Stay tuned.

--It's 14 degrees here, but no precip. Down in Houston, they're expecting about .20" accumulations this morning. Big stuff for that southern Gulf Coast Texas city. I know this makes my friends up north giggle.

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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Elvis' birthday.

I don't care about Elvis. 

There. I said it.

The beginning of 2014.

--This day-by-day map depiction of World War II in seven minutes is fascinating. I knew that the Axis started to really begin falling in early 1944, but this map shows how the Allies stopped their forward momentum in November of 1942.

--A friend and hunting buddy this morning announced that it was 6 times warmer than it was yesterday, by virtue of the fact that his thermometer showed 12 degrees Fahrenheit today, and just 2°F yesterday. Thinking that he was joking, I mentioned that his quantities might be off. He asked why. (This guy is VERY smart. He's a paramedic and a computer whiz. So no slamming him.) I responded:
 "Well, degrees Fahrenheit don't actually measure absolute heat. However, degrees Kelvin *DO*. Fahrenheit set "zero" on his scale of temperature as being the lowest temperature that he could achieve, using ice and salt. He set 100 at what he thought was the human body temperature. (Look, it was the late 17th century. Cut him some slack.) Kelvin uses centigrade units above absolute zero. Zero degrees Fahrenheit is actually 255.37K. When it was 2 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday, it was 256.483 Kelvin yesterday. At 12 Fahrenheit today, it is actually 262.039 Kelvin, which is 1.004358... times warmer than yesterday, relative to Absolute Zero."

My buddy made a rude noise.

--It staggered me, the first time that I found out that there was a temperature below which nothing could go.

--And I didn't know until today that the Triple Point of water is used as part of the scientific definition of the Kelvin unit. ("The kelvin is defined as the fraction 1⁄273.16 of the thermodynamic temperature of the triple point of water (exactly 0.01 °C or 32.018 °F).")

--Every year, my wife and I hold off on giving each other Christmas gifts, and then agree together to buy something that we both want in January or February. Well, this year, she broke the agreement, and surprised me by unilaterally purchasing a Rancilio Sylvia espresso machine. I've owned small consumer espresso machines before, but they were the sub-$100 sheet metal stamped variety that turned out indifferent results. This thing is superb.

When you turn it on, it will build up the pressure, and then turn out the light like a waffle iron to tell you that you're good to go. You then punch the switch for espresso, and the double spouts will begin to push out dark rich espresso with a bit of crema atop it. Hit the switch for foam, and open the valve and vigorous foam makes milk magical. Flip the switch to hot water, and you get water perfect for tea or to add to your espresso for an Americano. 

It weighs a young ton. 

It takes up very little counter space. 

There is a bit of a learning curve to pulling a perfect shot. 

It's the nicest thing that I've been given in a long, long time. 

We're going through about a gallon of milk a day in this house, now. 

--I have yet to have built a "Gay Cynic Special": 8 shots of espresso served over ice. Even in Seattle, the barrista's eyes widened at that order. 

--In terms of style and distinctiveness, I think that the other states envy the Texas flag. Well, Arizona, New Mexico, and Alaska don't. And probably not Tennessee.

--What's the deal with the crescent moon on the SC flag? 

--One of our cats two went missing 6 days ago. We've since had several sub-20 degree nights. I suspect that the neighbor shot it. I have not approached him; I cannot be objective. He told my colleagues that he threw out a firecracker to make the cats stop fighting at night. Semi-outdoor cats run a risk, and we knew that.  My younger daughter, who had a serious cat crush on that animal, wakes up crying and saying that she dreamt that he was on her bed. I've had offers of a new cat. I can't. I don't need another creature in my heart, or in my daughter's heart. I need a break.  

--One of these days, some boy will make my daughter this sad. And I'll have to deal with my initial reaction there, too. 

--Here's a well-rendered map of the contiguous continental United States yesterday, showing that the average temperature was 14 degrees Fahrenheit. I like how they put clear delineations at the freezing point of water and at zero degrees F. 

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Random thoughts in mid-December.

--It's finally bright and sunny today. The last of the ice has crept back into the darkest northern shadows, 10 days after our big ice storm. Someone brought up on the radio that this is the coldest stretch of weather for this past 20-something days for this area since 1899. Water still drips from the melting ice in the trough on my roof. I know you northern types giggle at my amazement, but I many times was not dressed inappropriately when I went out to play with my Christmas toys in a T shirt and jeans. Heavy ice lingering from early December is unusual for us in North Texas.

--Speaking of heavy ice, I have again been reminded that I was born and reared in the wrong period. I wish I had been born in, and had the means to take part in, the Heroic Age Of Antarctic Exploration. Just to think that such an era was named (and is Wikipedia official!) is something. Like the Golden Age Of Flight (Which apparently is NOT Wikipedia official.) (What are your favorite "Golden Age Of _____" eras?)

--I started thinking about the HAOAE when I came across these amazing color photos taken by Frank Hurley whilst aboard (and cast away from) the Endurance when it became icebound in on the Weddell Sea of the Antarctic coast in January of 1915. The ship wash crushed in October and sank the next month, and the crew weren't rescued until August, yet none of the party under the leadership of Sir Ernest Shackleford perished. I believe that I shall be purchasing the story right now. Why hasn't a movie been made of this?

--I spent 5 hours this morning early working on paperwork at the office, off-duty, trying to meet my goal of catching up completely by Christmas. 90 minutes of that was on the phone with Tech Support over a computer issue, finally deciding that I needed a new optical drive. When's the last time you had one of those crap out on you? Strange.

--I was just now trying to figure out why I felt tired and kind of sick. Then it hit me: Coffee. I hadn't had any all day. To the French press! I ground some Community Coffee beans (hey, when the sealed pack of whole bean is marked down for $1.99 a 12 oz pack, you'll buy five pounds, too.), and filled that chambourd right up. I'm feeling much better now.

--While getting my dopamine back in shape with caffeine, I thought of when I recently invited my dad to join me for a cuppa at a coffee shop run by a privately-run religious-based self-enrolled halfway house. The coffee there is excellent, and I shot this picture of my pot of French Press with my camera phone while I waited for Dad to join me. When he arrived, Dad took a puff of his vapor cigarette, and was told by one of the staff there that there were no drugs or addicting substance allowed. I had just ordered my second pot of French press for us to enjoy. They didn't seem to see the irony in this.

--I'm ordering on Amazon as fast as I can. I know that I've put stuff off a bit too long, now.

--Man, the caffeine is really kicking in. I'm typing faster than I was at the beginning of this post by a factor 1 : 1.5.

--Apparently, I'm going to take part in a CO chili cook-off next year. I seriously need to step up my game over what I brought this year. Sure, 25+ lbs (or was it 30lbs?) of chili all sold, but it wasn't the right texture, and frankly, it was a tad bland this year. I was experimenting with pork and a new kind of red chili paste (way better than powder, BTW). Foolish. Go with what you know. Dad contributed the pork for that, BTW, with that big sow he shot this April with his .45-70.

--Funny thing: when Dad and I were picking up some items at WalMart during our duck hunt this November, a lady saw Dad wearing that same British smock jacket, and asked about where she could get something like it for her husband, whom she was shopping for a gift for. We were in Weatherford, TX, which isn't too far out in the wilds or anything, but Dad and I laughed and responded that the only other one like that for 50 miles or more (most likely) was being worn by our friend Stephen, who had just flown it in with him from London for the purpose of hunting, and he wasn't selling it, as he needed it the next morning.  (You can also see Dad wearing it here, just before I sniped a passing Gadwall that was about to leave us for good after having passed by three times without landing, despite what a certain Ambulance Driver may say about premature shooting.:) )

--I give my friend A.D. a lot of hell, both here and to his face. But he's one of my dearest and trusted friends.

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