Better And Better

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

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weekend projects

Ventilating the shed.
When we bought this house, one of the attractive features was that there was a garden shed built in the back. It had been custom-made by the previous tenant's ex-husband, who was something of a craftsman. He had made the hinges himself (he was a welder by trade), and had put the shed together very snugly.
Actually, he did TOO good a job at making it snug. He didn't even use trim; the joints are all so close that he just ran a bead of caulk to seal them. The door is good-sized, and I literally had to lean on the door to get it to compress the air inside, so that I could latch it.

While this is good for keeping your lawn tools dry, it also means that it has been death to enter that shed in the summertime. We genuinely have feared for the lives of our cats, should one get caught in there for more than a couple of minutes while exploring a the opened shed and then get locked in when we close it. So, ventilation.

We went to a construction salvage store yesterday, and bought a new back door for the house. While there, I saw some nice used gable vents. I have made gable vents, while I was a carpenter's helper. It was a pain to do, right. These looked pretty good. We bought them, and I put them into the shed.
Modifying the gable by cutting a 12"X18" hole.

First vent installed.


Second vent, installed.
 The difference was immediate. The door swings shut effortlessly, too. Fear not; both vents are screened in the back. Strangely, they were already painted a shade that worked pretty well with the extant shed gables. Yay, me.

Cat Door.
This one, we haven't solved, correctly, yet. We wanted to make it so that only our cats could come and go. We bought a cat door for the garage that would only let in the cat with the magnetic bobbin on his collar. In short order, he lost the collar, and butted his way through, breaking the door.
I've noticed that the neighbor cat has been coming in.
We have a second door through the kitchen door to the garage. Its locking device was broken by our boulder-headed cat, as well, but the flap remains. My wife installed stops (many screws, with their heads sticking up) into the cat passage, to prevent the flap from opening inward. Thus, the cats can exit to crap, but cannot creep back in. They must been ushered in. We'll see if this works.

Looking online, there are auto doors that use the RFID chip in your animal to let them in, which you can program for only one of your animals. Smart. Neither of our cats is chipped. Also, they're made of plastic parts, as well. I'm not spending $150 (before $70 to chip the stupid cats) for another plastic door. That plastic hinge with a flexible poly door is a fatal flaw. Make the whole thing out of sheet steel/aluminum, and I'm there. I might even go higher. I don't dote on those vomiting, shedding, annoying pieces of crap. But they matter to my wife and my daughters, and I'm lazy, so I'd actually go $200 to not have to deal with this anymore.

That neighbor cat has a collar and tags. It would give me only momentary satisfaction to deal with it the way I first was tempted to. Unless there is danger, I'm against killing someone's pet, as a rule, even if it's trespassing. It's not HIS fault that we make the food in our house accessible to him. We need to put a stop to this, though. I don't want opossums or raccoons in here.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

And cheap at twice the price.

The only reason those two women injured in the inappropriate shooting during the manhunt for Dorner are taking the $4.2 million is because attorneys behind closed doors said, "Would you rather take the four point two million now, or wait five years to collect ten million dollars, by which time the attorneys have gotten the bulk of it?"

Yeah, L.A. would like to get that behind them, indeed.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Way to overstate the story.

MSNBC is all aflutter, because a bogus AP Twitter feed reported that the White House had been bombed, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average took a sudden but brief drop, before recovering.

Yeah, it took a little dip. But look:
This looks really bad, until you note the scale on the left.
Pardon my French, but Whoopie Shit.

With the average at over 14,600, the Dow lost 140, briefly. That's less than a 1% drop. If you were watching an analog dial, you would barely have noticed the needle drop.

Mountains.

Mole hills.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday midday.

--I missed getting to go the Fort Worth Main Street Arts Festival this weekend, darn it. Sometimes my wife and I will get a room right on Main Street, overlooking the fest, and enjoy it at our leisure. Being in April, it is sometimes bad weather. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it is 98 degrees. On Friday, the first morning of the fest, it frosted heavily, here. They had some wind, but it was beautiful, as witnessed by the camera phone picture that my elder daughter sent me from Main Street, while I was at work:
Main Street, Fort Worth, Texas, April 20, 2013.  That's the 90 year-Blackstone Hotel on the right, where we usually stay. Some glass and steel wonder to the left. (Click to embiggen.)
Not a bad day to be outside.

--It amuses me that Blogger Spellcheck does not recognize the word "embiggen," as Blogger and Wordpress are most certainly the vehicles which transported that word to its current position as a term of common [Internet] parlance.

--While I was at work, my wife painted the inside of the back door black. (No, it had theretofore been red.) When I got home last night, I kept thinking that the back door was standing open.

--I'm going to miss being with my friends in Houston. I talked with my sergeant. There's no way I can get out of working that weekend.

--I have lost 12 pounds since my hunting trip, minding my carbs. I would step over my own mother for a plate of biscuits and gravy. (Sorry, Mom!)

--I look at a picture that Tamara took of an old F11-F1 in Blue Angels livery on display at the Grissom Air Museum, and I remember watching these F11s perform over me at an air show in 1985, and thinking "this is stupid. Those aren't even current fighter jets anymore. Like anyone would use a thirty year old design for fighters, in this day and age!" The next year they went to the new (10 year old design) Hornet. Which they are still using, and which are still current.

--While flying with my friend Rich a few weeks ago, he had some amazing aps on his iPad, which was suction-cupped to the windscreen of the cockpit, which would take into account current weather conditions and advise his best aircraft settings for optimum efficiency, saving hundreds of dollars per trip. Rich is a great pilot, but he's also a techie, and knows that it's better to measure-and-know than to guess-and-suppose. Seven years ago, I was impressed at the glass cockpit avionics that he had installed in his Baron 58. In this Pilatus 12, there were such ameneties factory installed.  My friend Scott (a computer tech business owner) tells me that, once you get to a certain minimum level of hardware, it's ALL about the software. Apparently, this is very much true in aviation, too, these days.

--Meanwhile, I would dearly, DEARLY love to have a Cessna 180. A 56 year old 182 brings $42,500 asking price, but I'll bet I could wheedle him down to $42,000.

--I should probably get a pilot's license, first. And pay off my student loans. And pay the mortgage.

--Comes now the Internet groups of people who are giving backlash over the Boston bomber apprehension. While I completely agree that the populace should have been armed and were unreasonably prevented from being so, I am frustrated at what I'm seeing. Folks, in an instance where there is an armed bomber in a known small area, who is exchanging gunfire and throwing bombs at cops, the police would be fools not to wear every stitch of armor that they've got while searching HARD for the guy. When people say the police on such a mission then look like military with such weapons and soft armor and helmets on, they sound like the hoplophobes that are scared of weapons that look menacing.

I am a traditionalist cop. I like police patrol uniforms to look like police patrol uniforms. I do not like BDUs on patrol officers. I hate black gloves except when it's cold out. (I like rubber gloves for pat-downs.) I am repeating myself here; I have written before about my views on the militarization of law enforcement. But during a specific special duty like that manhunt, I'm fine with cops dressed like this.

Yes, it was a private citizen who found the bad guy in his boat. But the bomber was hiding in that boat because of the full-court press looking for him. I am a Libertarian. I want limited intrusion in my life by governmental authority. But when there is an emergency, I want the cops to do their jobs. It looks like they did that in Boston. I'm not going to call them heroes, because they were just earning their pay, last week.

We need to think about where we actually stand. This reactionary after-the-fact anarchist point of view frankly looks a bit childish.

--I have seen no violation of the Posse Comitatus Act with regard to the Boston incident of last week. If someone has a verified instant, I would appreciate it if they would put it in my comments here. Pictures of cops in APCs are not valid responses.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Minor Bleg:

If each of y'all could, please take a minute to kick in $5 toward the West disaster. Better make it $10, to cover for that other slacker. I've checked, and this is legit. It took me literally less than 2 minutes (and I'm slow) to donate some cash to a fund that will help that city rebuild.

While some people died, a LOT of people are horribly injured, or simply  lost their houses and livelihoods. They've got supplies for now. What they need is liquid cash.


http://westdonations.com/donate/



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How it DIDN'T go down.

Just before I went to sleep last night, I checked online from bed, and found that Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been apprehended. I cheered, briefly stirring but slightly my sleeping wife.

Some things which are going to be remembered:
1. Tsarnaev and his brother were from another country known for terrorist attacks, but were not intercepted by the State Department or ICE.

2. The brothers were found on photographs and videos taken by private citizens, not taken by government entities.

3. Laws against making, possessing, placing, or using explosive devices (of which Senator Lautenberg is apparently unaware of the existence) did not catch the bombers. New laws would not have helped.

4. While a brief roadblock for a manhunt DID help catch the final fugitive, it was not a discovery by the police but rather a tip from a homeowner that caught the suspected bomber.*

5. At no point during the 22 hour manhunt did anyone hear a Watertown, MA resident utter the phrase, "Man, I'm glad that the Commonwealth made it so hard for me to have a firearm, right now!"


_______________________________
*In virtually every successful manhunt which I have taken part in, this has been the case.

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Finally, Twitter makes a little bit of sense to me.

http://twitchy.com/2013/04/19/watertown-mass-area-carjacking-related-to-mit-shooting-police-chase-underway-explosions-heard/

That's a searchable crowd-sourced liveblog of what went on last night, in Boston, during the manhunt.

I don't know how to search it and refine such strings, but it's fascinating.

Note: there will be lots of false flags taken from such unverified reports, in which people will declare that one "fact" was known, but now the story is different.

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Let's rise above it.

Probable social media page of Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev:
 http://vk.com/id160300242
While I'm angry at him and want him caught, I'm embarrassed at most of the words of my countrymen, here.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Handshakes. Do it right.


--I shook the hand today of yet another healthy grown man who didn't know how to shake hands. Friends, practice doing this correctly:
1. Open the strong hand (usually one's right) and blade the four fingers together.
2. Stick that blade of fingers straight out, vertically-oriented, with forefinger on top and pinky finger on the bottom. They are pointing in the Z axis, and stacked along the Y axis.  
3. Stick the thumb out at about a 45 degree angle from rest of the hand, looking at the hand from the rear (along the Z axis). If the hand is looked at from the back of the hand (along the X axis), the thumb should be seen to project out at a slightly acute angle from the hand, at say a 75 degree angle.
4. Hold out the hand thusly, and push it toward your target hand-shaker. Do NOT push it out all the way. You MUST retain some tolerance for the push to dock with the target's hand.
5. Glance briefly at the target's hand, and then look him in the eye. He will also attempt to shake your hand at this point, or will create an awkward moment. It is imperative that you believe that he will not leave you hanging.
6. When the target has similarly fixed his hand into shaking position, you push your open hand toward his so that the web between your thumb and forefinger firmly meets the web of his hand. This is mandatory. If this is not performed, start over.
7. Upon pushing hand webs together, ONLY NOW MAY YOU grasp the target's hand firmly, and shake it once or twice.
8. Do NOT try to break the target's hand. But don't just sit there limply like a dead fish, either.
9. It is okay to glance at the hands during docking, but during the shake, one is expected to look the other in the eye.
10. For special affection, gripping the arm of your target during the shake is permitted. This is called The Preacher's Handshake.

I shook the hand of every citizen that I met during traffic stops and calls, today.

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And we're back. Monday.

--My home machine caught a little virus. I fought it, thought that I won, and finally went Slash And Burn, and used the recovery discs to reset my hard drive to factory settings. Man, I wish I'd created the recovery disk when I bought it. For $30, I was able to get the discs sent pretty quickly to me from Acer. Apparently, that's cheap, these days.

--Today is the birthday Leonhard Euler, who among other things came up with the most simple equation to utilize the mathematical constants e, i, pi, 1, and zero. A trig professor I had once offered a free A for the semester to anyone who could write a proof for that identity. I checked out 3 books on the subject, and went to work. A week later, I got tired-head, and quit. I got a C in that class.
--As our greatest generation fades away, I cannot stress enough how important it is that we view such pieces as this amazing video, and realize that Granddad and Great Granddad were young, once.
Also, to help us remember what it was like to see an end to a war.


--A company called Myriad is arguing that a patent should be issued for its isolation of the BRCA1 gene. I'm a fan of patents for medical discovery and processes, because that creates the profit motive which stimulates new R&D. But you can't patent nature. Myriad did not create this gene-- they simply discovered its bounds. This is akin to patenting a star which one found in a telescope. Name it, sure. But it ain't yours to charge usage fees for me looking at it, after you point it out.

--High of 87 degrees here today. Humid.

--I heard a "Welfare Concern" call go out over the radio, of a topless woman walking down the highway before dawn. I'll bet that got some response from the cops in her area. But  what were they going to do? It's not illegal to be topless in public in Texas. Maybe they were going to call her a traffic hazard. Or use the tired threat of Disorderly Conduct. (Behavior others might find to be offensive.)

--The Eleven Year-Old In The House had a birthday sleepover this weekend, and invited 5 other 11 year-olds to the house. As a buffer, The Fourteen Year-Old In The House invited her best friend over for a sleepover, as well. We had 5 pizzas, lots of soda, a birthday pie, some spooky kid movies, and Just Dance 4. There may or may not be an MP4 extant which documents my own entry into the dance-off that occurred in my living room. The Nentendo Wii declared me to be the loser of that event. There was also a stationary bicycle sprint race, which I won (I had to redeem myself somehow.).  The girls then held (I'm not kidding, here) a spelling bee and a geo trivia quiz tournament. Then they played "Slender Man." I didn't know what this was, and one of the girls whipped out an iPad to show me the creepy first-person game derived from the apparently ancient (by Internet standards) meme. How did I miss this? The girls played a version that involved notes left around the house, as they played hide and seek.

--I fell off the wagon with regard to my little diet, this weekend. Before that, I was losing about a pound a day. I'm back, though.

--Tax day. We had some complications, but filed about a month ago. We got $1000 back, which went directly into debt abatement. My wife is irritated that the refund isn't bigger. I'm irritated that we made a no-interest loan to the federal government for so long.

--That $150 riding mower that I bought a couple of months ago is working like a house afire. The guy that I bought it from said that he felt that it cut too rough. He must be picky; it is made of win, from what I can see.

--Due to work conflicts, I may have to miss the NRA convention this year, and it's in Houston. I has a sad. I mostly want to see my friends.


--Flirting with the statewide Child Protective Services intake lady over the phone is just another little service that I perform for people with soul-crushing-yet necessary jobs. I'm afraid that I do discriminate based on gender, though. Sorry.

--I talked to a CPS investigator today who said that her job was way better than teaching, for her. I told her about my friend who told me that he found combat in Afghanistan to be less stressful than teaching urban high school kids. But then I've got friends who should always be teachers. It takes all kinds.

--I've been watching my carbs. I can't express how much I want a PBJ and a bag of Cheetos, right now.





 

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Monday, April 01, 2013

Success!

We took off in a Pilatus PC-12/45.


And we hunted in the southern part of the Texas Panhandle.

We saw some weather, but got little.
We hiked through some country.
What you can only get a hint of is that there are some steep canyons all through that area.
And Dad killed a good-sized hog (~200 to 225 lbs), finally blooding the new .45-70 Guide Gun that I'd given him for his 60th birthday,  a decade ago.
I have pork on ice to tend to. A good time, with good camaraderie.

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