Archive | July, 2008

>Eyebleeds, Whatever

31 Jul

>You know what’s worse than having nothing to say? Worse (-ish) than writer’s block? Having things to write but not having the time to write them. Worse still, I ‘spect after I have looked at them for awhile, at least half will turn out to be dross.

Only myself to blame, got into a piffling contest elsewhere, a small debate on the fringes of a large tragedy, and have spent time that would have been better spent tilling my own fields. It should be a lesson to me or something.

Tomorrow’s another day, possibly one with better weather.

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>A Modest Slogan

30 Jul

>India’s Bajaj Auto, the clever folks who made my scooter, offer several motorcycles, including a “cruiser.” The Avenger has an interesting motto.

I’d sure like to know how they manage that; two wheels in traffic makes me feel more like prey!

>The Paranoid Frogs

29 Jul

>I suppose this might be a parable but it’s not.

Up at the Skunk Works North Campus, one of our drainage swales* has decided to become a full-time watercourse, a freshet with a real current’n’everything.

I’ve watched this happen all Spring and Summer. My visits there are short and focused, so I’d not had a chance to take a closer look until very recently; I had to walk the lane a few days ago and in the process, discovered rust-brown is the in paint-job for dragonflies this year, though a few of the old-style periwinkle blue models are still flying. Ah, fashion!

As I got closer to the widest spot in the tiny stream, I heard a brief commotion, a stirring, followed by eep! Splash! Eeep, eep…splash-splash! What on earth–? I thought, just as the last tiny frog turned from a blot to a blur to a splash to a trail of bubbles, so fast I barely had time to register the frog-ness of the critter and I’m still not sure what color they are.

On my return trip five minutes later, nothin’ but crickets (metaphoricaly, that is. Actually, dragonflies). When I left at the end of my day, I stopped and walked down and the earlier performance repeated itself: eeep! Splash! as they ducked for cover. I studied the scene for a few minutes and recognized one folded hind leg at the edge of a mass of algae; taking a long weed stem, I probed and lifted the greenish goo and was rewarded with an annoyed-looking greeny-grey frog swimming madly for deeper cover.

I have never seen frogs quite so timid. On the drive home, I thought about it and realized the wide spot is under a guy wire for the 1000′ tower that graces the site — and is itself often graced by red-tailed hawks. It seems possible that what I’m seeing is the last remnant of a larger population, a corporal’s guard composed of the quickest and most suspicious of the lot, culled by the hawks.

Or maybe they’re just all that shy. Eeep! Splash!

I’m gonna go hide under a rock for a few hours and think about it.
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* Another ordinary word spellcheck wants nothing to do with. Or with which to do. Eep!

>BlogMeet: Successful

28 Jul

>Alas, my day began at 0300, something about an auto race (and it appears I managed to wake Tam as I blundered around making coffee and oatmeal) and the Blogmeet* set sail 1500ish, so what I can coherently tell you is, all eleven attendees were as charming as ever, from the elegant Mr. and Mrs. Red (and their wondrous baby wolf!), to the erudite Mr. and Mrs. Shomes, the cultured Old Grouch and the beneficent Frank W. James (who should really, really write that trilogy!) and Rob K and Feyfern. Oh, and Tam! …Unless I have managed to misidentify anyone? EDIT: which I have. Blogreader Kerry and his wife were there and were as charming conversationlists as ever. >blush<

The door prize — won by all! — was Indiana sweet corn courtesy of Mr. James. I am chastened to admit that while I had the Cup’a Turonistan award on my person, I failed to award it (I’m seriously zorched for lack of rest).

This Will Be Rectified At Our Next! Let’s start planning now: when’s a good weekend in August?
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* I have decided it’s like “ThingMoot,” though it’s no moot thing. And without the high & low justice aspect, just the assembling in a group, drinking beer, eating well an’ listenin’ to the skalds. Geesh, spellcheck hates me.

>This Is How It Works

26 Jul

>You can find this sort of thing in most Media Outlets. There’s always one or two things that need propped up, wiggled, sweet-talked, kept out of drafts or supplied with extra cooling.

Hey, are we still on the air?

Thanks to the Data Viking for the link!

>Eventually The Odds Catch You

26 Jul

>Or at least they do for me.

I’ve been commuting on my scooter, all 150-awesome-cc of it, from the moment the weather warmed up enough and other than the aftermarket rear rack shedding a few parts (gonna hafta buy the Bajaj one), it’s been a treat. Sunshine and blue skies, unless I was ridin’ before sunup.

Sure, there was the lecture from a guy in a pickup truck one morning at 4:20 am: “You shouldn’t be out on these roads on that thing at this hour!,” to which I said nothing at all, ‘cos, well, you never do know. Even about worried-sounding gents in F150s.

But Friday….

I had to work late, having had a late start after the morning’s Plumbing Emergency. Darkness was not yet falling at the end of my day, but it was at least packing its parachute. As I put my toolbag, work gloves and hoodie[1] back in my locker and got the helmet, jacket, riding gloves and boots out, I had a sense, a foreboding a– sniff?!

Went out the employee exit into sticky thick air with a strong tang of ozone. A whiff of rain. Sure enough, as I was packing my briefcase,[2] street shoes and a box of Assorted Stuff bound for the Skunk Works North Campus on my machine, one single fat drop went PLINK! on my helmet. Still, it was only the one, I thought, whistling past the graveyard the merest little.

Out the gate (the vehicle-sensing coil only barely admits my Chetak is there) and across to Northbound Lane (not its real name), which, like most of the North-South streets on the near-Northeast side, makes a series of graceful S-curves every few blocks where various surveyor’s work didn’t quite line up. What’s a half-block between friends? Took the first one at 40 mph and as the scooter and I returned to vertical, cruised right into genuine Midwestern rain. On a nice greasy street.[3]

Okay, okay, steady on, I’ve done this. For very short distances in the old neighborhood. Okay, I learned about this in the MSF class. Be careful. Slow down. Park for awhile if you can, the worst time is right at the start of a rain–

Yeah, right. No place to stop here but one, it’s got nowhere to get my bike (and the, oops, cardboard box on the rear rack) out of the rain plus the day is not going to stop getting darker — a process somewhat hastened by the nice, thick, woolly layer of rainclouds.

Stay in the tire tracks, take more time to set up for turns, slower, slower…. Luckily, auto traffic was slower, too. As the rain fell harder, I found droplets were getting past the windscreen and even under my glasses. Good news: my helmet’s got a fine visor. Bad news: that would then be three layers of plastic though which I would be peering at the world, two of them well-peppered with raindrops.

Three layers of fairly clean plastic. It works. The rain front was a bit diagonal and patchy, so I rode in and out of fresh rain the entire trip home. Uneventfully.

After all, I had done it before, even though only for short rides. And once again, the astonishingly-good MSF instructors[4] had managed to get the information I needed stuck inside my skull, there and waiting.

Oh, yes, one more thing? Motorscooters do have nice floorboards and legshields; mine’s got a good-sized windscreen. Withal, my knees get soaked! Small price to pay.
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1. Starships run cold in the techie spaces!
2. Yes, toolbox and briefcase, don’t you wish you had a light-blue-collar job like mine? Design it, build it, sweep up afterwards. It’s rarely dull!
3. This being North of US 40, it was greaSy. South of Washington St., it’d be greaZy. Just as slippery either way. Still, the forms must be observed.
4. The classes are brilliantly designed — you will learn! — but the guys who taught the class were outstanding even so.

>Don’s Gun’s Robbed

26 Jul

>Hard to say just what they made off with. Last time I was there (some years back), Don’s stock ran heavily to Lorcins, Hi-Points and the less-expensive guns, usually with a bit of gold-plating here and there. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Pop Guns, on the other side of town, experienced a similar after-hours smash and grab raid in December of 2007. I think if I owned a gun store, I’d give serious thought to a large, aggressive dog for after-hours duty…though it’s probably a death sentence for the poor dog if the raiders come.