Better And Better

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

Saturday, May 25, 2013

With frickin' laser beams.

Due to a change in my insurance on June 1st, I had some money in my Flex Spend account that was "Use-It-Or-Lose-It." I decided to get LASIK. Sadly, the way the money falls, I can only get one eye done this week, and in two weeks can get the other one.

Yesterday, my dad drove me to Dallas, where, after a cuppa  and an omelet at Caf√© Brazil, we went to the Cattle Call Eye Center, and they prepped me for eye surgery.

Actually, the prepping involved getting a name tag on the chest (kinda smart, given their volume), paying their marketing person from a Health Savings Account card and from a Flex Spend Account card, and then going into the "Relaxation Room."

In the Relaxation Room, they had a fan for some white noise, and the lights were turned low. There was a decent stereo playing music. An attendant who was not a nurse had me lie down in a leather couch, and put a blanket over me (it was cool in there.). She then gave me two pills and a cup of water. The first pill, I was to swallow. The second pill, I was to let dissolve under my tongue. I knew that they were for anxiety, but because I'm not Anthony Michael Hall, I asked what it was before I took it.

"Oh, it's just Vicodin," she said. I asked her if she was sure about that. (My stomach doesn't much care for Vicodin, and I hadn't read anything about getting scheduled narcotics with the surgery.)  She checked up. "Oh, I mean Valium. To calm you. I knew it was one of those V drugs." Noting that the stereo was now playing Enigma's Chant music with the Gregorian Monks and the heavy thump-thump that makes it a favorite for booty music, I remarked that if she said "Viagra," I was going to have to point out that I am a married man.

They put a silly mesh shower cap thing on me, with gauze over my ears, and walked me into the eye surgery room, where they lay me down, and wedged my head in, and swung a machine over my face. The doctor, an officious guy who had patients to hustle through, was talking to his intern as he struggled to push that machine as close as possible to my eye, cramming it down against my nose and brow: "Note the pronounced brow ridge. It and the significant bridge on the patient's nose cause some difficulty in getting the machine down to the sunken orbital," he said. I informed him that I preferred the term Cro-magnon and that he could commence with the "occulectomy"*.  He laughed, and cranked that mutha down onto my face, asking if I was okay. I admitted that it was uncomfortable, but bade him continue, please.

They used one laser to cut a flap into the cornea, and another to then shape the lens of my right eye so that it was the correct shape to focus light between the lens and the cornea onto the retina, so that I can see without glasses. He then taped a plastic shield onto my face, and sent me on my way.

They had an in-house glasses shop there, where a dude swapped the prescription right lenses in my glasses and sunglasses for zero-correction lenses, for $20, while I waited. Great work at a great price, actually. I gave him cash, and no paperwork was done, so that might have been a side job. Hey, it never hurts to ask. :)

The doc pushed for me to get plugs to hold in extra tears to prevent dry-eye. I just didn't have the cash. I'll probably do it when I go in again in two weeks.

So today, my right eye is good with no correction. I have to put drops of some kind in, every waking hour.

This was what I found, first thing in the morning. My wife assures me that it looks better, now.


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*Forgive me for not having heretofore been conversant with the correct terminology for such a procedure, which I was facetiously suggesting he perform.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

When it hits you.


Usually, I can distance.

"Hey, it sucks to be them. These things happen."

And they do. Happen, I mean. Tornados are pretty low on the list of things that kill us, nationwide.

But I watched this video, and found myself putting myself into the place of the parents looking for their missing child at the school, or of the teachers having to round up kids for a count.

And suddenly I'm in tears. And when I try to discuss the impact with my wife, she refuses to discuss the issue with me. So here you are, Internet: my raw and exposed nerve.

I ask you to watch the very short bit of raw video above, so that you will not do as I was doing last night and this morning, and distance with a flippant dismissal.

Those people are you and me. Their loved ones are yours.

They found her.
From The Oklahoman. Retrieved 21 May 2013.  
So, I'm texting some money. It's all I know to do. They are up there. I am down here.
Maybe you could text some, too. *


_____________________________
*"This has been a major disaster, and the Red Cross will be there for the people in this state and this community. People who wish to make a donation can support American Red Cross Disaster Relief, which helps provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters like the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma and Texas as well as disasters big and small throughout the United States by visiting redcross.org, dialing 1-800-REDCROSS or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation."

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Grimy.

Theo Cottle is a photographer who documents the less glamorous sides of places like Thailand and Germany and the UK. His work is not pornographic, but it's unsavory, and some of it might not be safe for work.

Looking at his documentation of skinheads in the street, I am struck by the common traits among trash in different modern cultures, spanning different races that disdain each other.

Some of these people have less in common with me than the African bushmen, or the Dani of New Guinea.

I am a little defensive of the redneck, at times. There is a popular misconception that the term "redneck" is synonymous with "white trash." That's simply not true. While the terms are not mutually exclusive and there can be some overlap, that's just like saying "plumber" and "Catholic" can overlap.

White trash is world-wide, and even redneck white trash can span continents. Just ask the dwanky zef Boer trash that is Die Antwoord. (Don't watch that. Well, okay, you can watch that, but DON'T watch this. Seriously.)

Trash is universal. Why isn't distaste for it universal?

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday morning thoughts.

--Supply and Demand: Remington is reportedly expanding production of ammunition. They'd be fools not to.**

--In a more perfect world, a real-live astronaut who plays guitar and sings Space Oddity while in the International Space Station would be a bigger rock star than any of the current rock stars out there on the airways. I watched this yesterday, and thought: 1. That guitar sounds a little tinny. Too bad they couldn't get a bigger one up with some more bass tones. 2. But they sent a guitar up to outer frickin' space. 3. What's it cost to boost a properly-padded or cased small acoustic guitar to the ISS?
--Oh, look-- Homeland Security is using pin traps and wire taps on the Associated Press. Way to wake a sleeping giant, guys. Ambulance Driver calls this statement by Miguel Gonzales the
Quote of the Day:
"So what's the big deal about the Justice Department secretly viewing AP reporters' phone records? The Obama administration has every right to know what its employees are doing on the phone during working hours."

--The docs are trying to claim that firearms are a legitimate health concern, again. If they can show that pathogens are being passed by firearms in the home, then they've got my support. Otherwise, they can butt out.

--This weekend, my dad had a birthday. I arranged for him and his wife to come over to my house for burgers, but on the sly invited other friends and family. Given that it was Mother's Day, we had spotty attendance... thank heavens. We had lots that did show, and I grilled 3 pounds of bratwursts, 5 pounds of hamburger, and a pound of wienies. My wife made a pot of beans. We had a big pan of iced brownies, a locally-produced* cake, potato salad, chips galore, and lots of fixings. We were left with one brat, one wienie, and half a pound of potato salad. The rest was consumed.

Rabbit came, and brought Dad a Molon Labe coffee cup, and brought one for me, too. It's on my desk at work, now. I know other people brought gifts, but I didn't pay a lot of attention, because it's all about me, and I'm self-centered like that.

My gift to Dad was a 100 Federal shotshells, with a card explaining that he'd best get to the skeet range to practice, because in November, I've bought him and me a space on a weekend of guided duck hunting. This is a danged selfish gift that I bought him, because it means that I get to go hunting with my dad.

The cousins arrived, and we agreed that we should do this again.

--Reportedly, LBJ turned off a scathing indictment of the US involvement in Vietnam, and said "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."
See now how Obama has got to be saying, "If I've lost Jon Stewart..."

This may well be the funniest piece that I've ever seen Jon Stewart and the Daily Show ever do.

________________________
*We picked the peaches last summer, and picked the pecans out of our yard this past fall. It was kind of like a cake/cobbler thing. Fit to eat.
**I suppose. I just want to see more a bigger supply.

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Go home, Frank C Barnes. You're drunk!

One of my favorite books to kill a few minutes with is the great work by (the late) Frank C. Barnes: Cartridges Of The World. Barnes started the project in the mid-century, and periodically updated it with new editions. I finally threw away my old and yellowed worn-out 2nd Edition copy without a cover, which was missing pages. That old copy referenced .25-06 and .35 Whelen as "wildcats," and which didn't have 10 mm, .40 S&W, or .357 Sig in it. It talked about how the .257 Roberts was being pushed out by the "new 6mms," and talked about how the .45-70 was almost 100 years old!! 

Barnes passed away in the early '90s, and Richard A. Mann picked up the task of updating the mandatory reference manual; it is in its 13th Edition now.  He left in some of Barnes' original descriptions about different cartridges, and put in his own. By and large, he's done a pretty good job, of a pretty good job that Barnes had done. Keep doing a pretty good job for long enough, over a field as broad as this, and you end up with a real work of value. While everyone reads the historical notes and general descriptions of the cartridges, there is also a very valuable specifications section at the back, which gives gross measurements of each cartridge. Most of the rounds have descriptive loads in each section, but I will caution you NOT to use those for hand loading reference. But if you're a shooter, or a collector, or any kind of aficionado of firearms, this is a necessary household reference book.

At any rate, this morning while awaiting my coffee to perk, I let the book fall open where it may, and noticed something odd, for the first time, about the illustration for the classic old black powder cartridge, the .38-40 WCF:
This most certainly is NOT the .38-40 WCF. Perhaps it's the .38-40 WTF?
Without a scale, it's hard to know what caliber is portrayed there. It's obviously a belted magnum, likely of .38 caliber. It has a fairly sharp shoulder, and a long neck. It is most certainly NOT the .38-40 Winchester.
Hey, accidents happen.

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Maps.



Check out this amazing, zoomable map of all of the roads in the United States, and nothing else. No borders. No topographical features.

No, no. Click on the BIG one.

And supposedly, half the people live in this circle, most of which is water.

And bad research yields poor maps. When you assume that racists are located where words that you call pejoratives are tweeted from, you get a map like this. Note also that in south Texas, for many, the term "wetback" is not used as a pejorative, but rather as a descriptor of a person who illegally migrated across the Rio Grande. I have the utmost respect for Latinos, and of immigrants, but I used the term in a non-derogatory way for years, before being informed that it was being perceived as pejorative.

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Interesting story developing.

On April 17th, a fertilizer plant blew up in West, Texas.
At least 15 people were killed, mostly first responders.
Hundreds were injured. Hundreds of homes were obliterated, destroyed, or damaged.

There were two very newsworthy types of fertilizer there at the plant: anhydrous ammonia, and ammonia nitrate.

--Anhydrous ammonia is scary stuff. It is highly reactive to oxidizers, and gives off a caustic gas. It is stored as a liquid, in tanks. It is used in the production of methamphetamine.
--Ammonia nitrate is a plastic solid, and was used in the Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City. It's highly explosive, but is more stable than Anhydrous.

News people cast around, talking to people who didn't know what they were talking about. I saw news stories early speculating that the firefighters had sprayed water onto reactive substances, causing the fire and explosion. I saw references to them responding to a re-kindle.

At this point, they still aren't exactly sure what caused the fire.

Blame came, as it always does. Someone HAS to be to blame.
If Texas governor Rick Perry hadn't realized that his political aspirations for the national stage were ended in 2012, I hope that he realizes now that it's over. Political cartoonists and pundits in California, Illinois, and the east coast all tore into Perry, for his recent attempts to woo investors to Texas with his quite correct claim that Texas is booming. In his radio spots, Perry cited no income tax, and less interference by regulations for Texas' success. His critics seized on this as Exhibit A in the case of why half a Texas town was blown off the face of the earth.

The truth is, that West is a hub community, in the midst of farmland. A fertilizer plant and seed company would certainly have been an economic engine there, 60 years ago. The town grew around it. These things happen.

But now, we find that BATFE[IEIO] and the Texas Rangers have an open case of Possession Of A Destructive Device against one of the paramedics who was a first responder with the West Volunteer Fire Department, and who lost friends in the blast. You can see the newsies champing at the bit to connect this with the cause of the blast. And I'll admit that it would make a helluva story. Haven't we all heard the tale of the firefighter who is a secret arsonist, and been amazed? What better story than to find out that this small-town medic wanted to be a Walter Mitty with M√ľnchausen syndrome-by-bombing?

But it's not necessarily the case. The BATFE boys are in town. The Rangers are in town. They're looking under every rock for ANY clue as to what might possibly has caused that fire. So if Mr. Reed was into making homemade firecrackers in his garage, this is not a good time for him. If he's fulfilling a lifelong dream to make his own recoiless rifle in his basement, these guys might get a bit twitchedy, and put a case together on him, out of something to do.

But time will tell.

**EDIT**
Looks like it was components for a pipe bomb which Reed had. Ruh roh.

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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Music and shoes.

I'm fairly sure than even our fellow-Texan and shoe-obsessed blogger friend wouldn't even give up all practicality for this fashion.

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Wednesday evening this and that.

--Steampunk Lego sets? Why had this not happened before. Unless they are fools, this will be made of win.

--Nancy Grace has always irritated me, even before I happened to be stuck in a doctor's office or something, and saw her try to corner Elizabeth Smart in a bullying manner. (Note Smart's semi-eye roll at 1:21, to a rather stupid question put up by Grace.)
But she's especially irritating as a commentator, when she does a split-screen interview with a woman who is in the same parking lot as herself. On-scene stand-ups are over-used in the news. There is NO POINT in sending a reporter out to stand in front of City Hall at 07:00, to tell you about the agenda that they're going to talk about, later that day. So now CNN is using three tools that irritate me at the same time: unnecessary stand-up remote broadcasts, unnecessary split-screen interviews to attempt to show that they're ALL OVER on the coverage of this salacious story, and of course, Nancy Grace.

--On a side note, that Jodi Arias chick is so bat-feces crazy guilty (she took the stand, for 18 days!!!), she'll be extremely lucky if she doesn't get the needle.

--I like that now-defunct Nickel Creek band.

--From F. Scott Fitzgerald's entry in Wikipedia:
"Among the attendants at a visitation held at a funeral home was Dorothy Parker, who reportedly cried and murmured 'the poor son-of-a-bitch,' a line from Jay Gatsby's funeral in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby."

I would have expected more out of Dorothy Parker. But I'm planning on collecting crude statements by Marko Kloos, Cranky Professor, PhlegmFatale, and Larry Correia, so that I'll look literary when I cuss. Larry says that he can write me up a good funeral scene. I look forward to reading that. I'm thinking along the lines of a Valhalla send-off, delivered in the style of John Cleese at Graham Chapman's funeral.

--Phillip, a fine historian of firearms was giving a presentation of a Teddy Roosevelt double rifle at the end of the NRA Convention in Houston this weekend. This is something that they will do for accredited news media, to educate about some of the noteworthy pieces in the amazing NRA firearms collection. I went to the one last year in St. Louis. This time, just like last time, a security flunky came up to these officers of the National Rifle Association (the group that just spent million$ to lease the space), and tried to give them and the media the bum's rush. Phil politely let her have it with, uh, both barrels. (Figuratively speaking, of course.)  He took a breath, and continued with the demonstration. Well done, sir. One of my colleague web correspondents caught the action on video, here. Hopefully next year in Indy, we'll have this issue worked out.

--I didn't get to go to the NRA Convention. I'm still kinda pouty about that. But Dad got to go, and I'm glad about that.

--Lots of graduation notices, this May. Pricey.

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

When loads shift.

Along with the pilot, the loadmaster is the most important person in the safety of a cargo airplane. Here's why.

When a heavy load such as 5 military vehicles totaling 70,000 lbs, shifts to the tail end of the plane during ascent, the nose pitches up. A stall occurs. This is a good time to deploy a parachute, if you have one. If you don't, then it's a good time to spend the remaining 5 seconds of your life remembering the good times. I don't think that there's any way out of this.

The dashcam video was caught next to an airport in Afghanistan. The driver sounds British, when he cusses briefly. Interestingly, he seems to have a dog with him in the cab of the truck that he's driving.

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