Archive | September, 2008

>Too Little Time And Not Enough Me

30 Sep

>….But you know if I was twins, we’d fight.

Old Grouch has a terrific photo-edit and good collection of post-Blogmeet links, including Brigid on starting big radial aircraft engines (as compared to jets). I used to liken my MGB to a small private aircraft, especially in the need to do a proper set of preflight checks[1], but the big planes are a whole ‘nuther world. Like a locomotive (or a big old genset, something I do have a little experience with, including fun failure modes) that flies!

This morning, we’re enjoying Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, snuck past the Customs station along the Monon by Turk (few North American Customs officers are willing to check a camel really closely and the ones from Turonistan are especially ill-tempered. Camels, not Customs officials, although y’know…). Yum! It was way more than worth last night’s quick trip to BigBoxStore for a coffee grinder.

At the Greenfield Hamfest Sunday, I found William Edward Mead’s Elementary Composition and Rhetoric, a high-school text from 1894. It’s a gem! Not nearly as stiff-necked as might be thought: “Some slang is more picturesque and forcible than more dignified phrases; and some terms once regarded as slang are now counted among our most valued words. In serious composition, however, all phrases of doubtful propriety must be avoided, though probably no one but a pedant excludes them entirely from his conversation.” [Mead, op. cit., p. 18] The book has 3- and 4-word summaries of each new thought set along the outside edges of each page and Dr. Mead often includes footnotes inviting the reader to question the word choice and phrasing of the quotes he uses as examples: “Is this the best word?” “Position of this clause?”

With this book atop my collection of swag, an older ham I know approached me as I was digging though a box of hand-wound radio coils — “Does your starship company use those? Have a look at this book–” And he handed me McGuffey’s High School and Literary Reader. I knew what it was, in a general sort of way but a glance at the table of contents — Shakespeare, Poe, Daniel Webster, Defoe, James Fenimore Cooper and Samuel Langhorne Clemens[2] — confirmed that here was indeed The Good Stuff.
“It’s wonderful,” I said, “what do you want for it?”
“Oh, you can have it; it’s yours.”
“Oh, gosh — thank you! Very much!”
These readers were turned out in their millions. It was a sad day when they stopped being standard texts. And this one’s missing most of the cover at the spine and is right before losing the front and back covers, not an easy repair for a very amateur bookbinder. But the pages are all there and the content…. Well, you can’t do much better. You just can’t.

And with that, I’m more than outta time, yet again. More, later.
1. Of course, if you get an MGB up to about 65 mph and pull back gently on the steering wheel, the only exciting thing that might happen is, it would fall off in your hand. Also they don’t travel as far after sudden engine failure; the upside is, you don’t have to land ’em. Usually you don’t…

2. You have to have read Twain’s essay “The Literary Excesses Of James Fenimore Cooper” to fully grasp my amusment at seeing them between the same covers. I think the essay itself is a must for anyone doing descriptive writing. Title is from memory; I’ll link to it later if I can find it online.


>September Success: BlogMeet

29 Sep

>Eleven of the gun-blogosphere attended: nine bloggers, two readers. The Broad Ripple Brew Pub graciously allowed us to sit outside (as long as we didn’t move the tables to make one long one). Thusly:

The discerning eye — or, for that matter, a blind sow — might notice a few bicycles in the foreground (and while none of us rode to the blogmeet, some of the more tactikewt had been riding just before). But this is Broad Ripple; we don’t just have ordinary bikes!

Some children have training wheels. Others, well, Mom and Dad are certainly fit enough to be trainers! It’s a delightful bicycle though, like many another large family vehicle, parking can become something of an issue.

Those who think bloggers and friends are a retiring lot, think again! Thirdpower made it to the Blogmeet, all the way from behind Illinois lines! We were all happy to meet him and all the more so when he handed out the latest (Army green) edition of his famous gunblogger’s patch. Another first-time attendee was longtime blog reader and comment, Rob D, a charming conversationalist in person. Turk Turon’s caravan hit town just in time for bowling pin shooting yesterday and we were able to find a livery stable that’d accomodate the camels; in contrast, the Old Grouch has mastered the art of just appearing, in much the manner of a cat at dinner time. Shermlock Shomes, Brigid, James Rummel, Caleb, Tam’s shootin’ pal, Tam, and Your Correspondent round out the party — and a party it was. We started at three; along about seven, most of us had wandered as far North as The Art Center and made our meandering way from one end of the sculpture “Confluence” (a flat, canoe-shaped slab of limestone near the riverbank) to the other, an arrangment of limestone menhirs comprising a boat cage over a block away (Psssst! Mister Artist? The stone raft escaped):

Let’s see: Zoe, Jayne, Kaylee, Mal, Wash, Inara, Book…? I don’t know, but if you look close, you can see some of our crew are “armed” with telephones and multitools, just in case those standing stones make a threatenin’ move!

There’s plenty more to relate from the weekend but, alas, not time enough this morning. Still to come: Pinshooting with a Spanish bargain, a 19th-Century Rhetoric and Composition text at a hamfest (and what came of it) and why everyone should eat breakfast at Taste at least once. Also, fine coffee, smuggled in on camelback!

>Who Is Will Eisner?

28 Sep

>Why, he’s the man who blazed the trail through howling wilderness that today’s graphic novelists follow. Wherever they go, the find the initials “W. E.” emblazoned on the trees or discreetly hacked into marble columns.

The Spirit, an antiheroish hero who’s been around longer than most — having debuted in ’40, he gets a table with Supe and Batsy at the club — is probably Will Eisner’s best-known character and last night at the cinema, I learned The Spirit Movie is due out this holiday season! Way kewl (I hope). Directed by Frank Miller, which is a good sign.

…I also learned my moviegoing companions had never heard of The Spirit and were hazy on Mr. Eisner, though Tam remembers a Will-Eisner-drawn rifle manual from the 1960s. So this post is for you — and all my other friends, too!

>What I Did Today

28 Sep

>- Shot the ever-lovin’ heck outta innocent bowling pins what never did me no harm nohow and then, to cap it off, shot at (more than directly on, sigh) their severed heads and did so alongside the redoubtable Turk Turon, Tam K and Her Kewl Shooting Buddy.

– Enjoyed a delightful Mexican lunch with some of the pin-shooters (who are a swell bunch of folks, even if most of ’em do shoot better’n me!).

– Went and hung out at the Art Museum and showed Turk some etchings. (Ooooooo).

– Showed off the Fresh Market. Shared the wonder that is Moxie!

– And then saw a wonderous strange, tragic, twisted and funny Coen Brothers film with Tam, Turk, and Tam’s Pal, “Burn After Reading.” Not for kids but do see; if you like my sense of humor and drama, this’ll do.

Thassallllfernow: sleep, a hamfest and the September BlogMeet (tomorrow, 1500 hours, Broad Ripple Brew Pub, sync watches and Get There) await ‘pon the morrow!

>The Left Loves Everyone Except Those People

28 Sep

>In support of my title, I offer this comment made to my “I’m voting for Palin” post:

I can’t stand you or your simple minded, right wing complying kind, thank god you live in Indiana and as such your vote dosen’t mean a thing.

Die quietly you ignorant hoosier.

Now there, friends, speaks the Left. The people who lecture you about compassion; the people who tell you how everybody matters. Well, everyone except anyone who doesn’t agree with them. They’ll lecture you about the need to tolerate differing viewpoints — unless you differ in ways they disdain.

…And let me point out that in the post that got me called “simple minded, right wing complying,” I admitted that in most races, I vote Libertarian; I offered my opinion that Senator McCain is guilty (along with Sen. Feingold) of conspiracy to violate the Constitutionally-protected rights of the entire U. S. citizenry; wrote in support of homosexual and polyamorous marriage (or whatever arrangements they wanna make, as long as they stay outta my yard and refrain, as I expect of my heterosexual friends, from sharing intimate details) and the right of morons to use whatever drugs they can afford (and my right to call ’em morons, which they are) — and this, ladies and gentlemen, this counts as simple-minded wingnuttery and lockstep compliance with teh Eeeee-vill GOP; so you can just imagine how those of you who prefer wedlock be kept conventional and dope illegal must look to Our Friend On The Left.

…And the way most Right-wing people I know differ from the ones I know on the Left is, the Right-wingers don’t think my wild and crazy ideas — or even those of the moonbats — “don’t mean a thing” and they don’t tell me to go off and die; meanwhile the Left is hateful and intolerant.

I don’t care who y’all vote for but please vote against Mr. Obama and the mean-spirited, narrow-minded people who support him. Their approach to political discourse is shockingly unAmerican and unworthy of serious attention.

Thanks for visiting and commenting, Mr. or Ms. or ungendered Anonymous; thanks for being so brave as to sign your name and give us a link to your blog. Oh, wait, you didn’t, did you? It’s a trifecta: hateful, unAmerican and cowardly! Great $DEITY, your Mom must be so proud.

>Meanwhile, Back At The Launch

27 Sep

>…China’s gone spacewalking. One suspects them of picking up an extra little zot of glee at doing so while Wall Street burns and never mind that of the two spacesuits, only one was Chinese made. (The other was of well-tested Russian make. Just in case? They’re not saying). I’m tellin’ ya, keep an eye on the Moon, the Red Chinese will claim it if nobody’s watchin’.

But in our last exciting episode, the presidential candidates were each lookin’, in their own way, for a quiet spot to slip into their Savior Of The Economy And/Or Nation superhero longjohns while the White House plowed pragmatically onward and Congressthings* from the far ends of both parties set up a huge fuss. Each and every one of them screeching about “free markets”and/or “capitalism” all the while.

Here is a hint, O tax-sucking, “campaign contribution”-snaffling scum-in-office: If you are talking about what you would or should do to it, the market is not free. Nor has it been for some time. The mess was created in large part by meddling, by artificially forcing down the standards for lending, home loans especially, pushed down by the Congressionally-created socialist entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, yadda-yadda. We haven’t got a “free market” in the ‘States, have not had for a very, very long while; when it fails, that’s the hand of the Federal government driving it over the cliff and when it soars, it’s one of two things: either it’s found a way around some FedGov chokepoint or found a way to subvert one for short-term gain. Increasingly, the latter is more popular, followed in due course by senators tsk-tsking over the greedy awfulness of it all while covering up the tracks of the money that’s come their way from those mean ol’ profiteers — who would have had to resort to less-subtle scams were the Feds not involved.

Whatever kind of deal is worked out, we — the citizenry in general, from the guy pushin’ a shopping cart full of salvaged cans to the fattest of fat cats — will lose and the U. S. Congress will win. Some of us will lose more than others but we’ll all lose: prop the mess up and we get a whopping addition to the deficit which will have to paid some day (and payment in blood and privation seems with every passing day more likely than cash on the barrelhead), or the market goes smash and we endure a lasting, painful recession probably followed by a nice little war, the traditional fix of meddling governments everywhere. Senators, Representatives and their respective deliberative bodies will become more powerful, as will the Executive branch and future historians will point to it all as just another step in the transformation from Republic to Whatever. And our much-vaunted free market will continue becoming more and more controlled.

I wish I had some really good advice; I wish there was a candidate or a party I could point to and say, “These folks can sort this thing out,” but any bunch who could do that have got too much power and no person or group has sufficient knowledge and understanding to fix it. Wishing any of them could it like countin’ on Santa to bring you what you need: not gonna happen. The “fix” is to get the Feds the hell out of the business of business — and they have been propping it up, cropping the ears and breeding for a puppyish disposition for so long that were they to do so, the resulting readjustment would make a mess it would take a generation to sort out.

Maybe it should happen anyway. But I don’t see the real world playing out like the last few chapters of Atlas Shrugged. We’re a bit short of Galts and Gulches an’ Midas Mulligan’s been in a Federal pen for a good long while now, accused of “redlining.”

I’m gonna go shoot bowling pins. I hope nobody minds me callin’ ’em by the names of Congressbeings!

Have a nice day?
* Not for nothing is “congress” in English a clinical synonym for a sexual act between two or more individuals.

>Good Morning, Please Excuse The Speed Lines

26 Sep

>You know, the lines comic book — pardon, graphic novel[1] artists draw trailing from moving objects along the direction it’s come from? That’s me this ack emma: too much to do and not enough time. So of course I am blogging.

There’s something in the air and it’s given me delightful[2] headaches for the last couple of days. Luckily one of the better treatments for this is motorscootering, which I have been able to do the last couple of days, including (fanfare!) a trip yesterday afternoon from Skunk Works HQ to North Campus, where we keep and test the starship engines. This included a nice twisty hill climb up Spring Mill from Kessler, ‘cos I was not interested in racing cars on the wide part of Meridian St. (Hwy 31). (The narrow part, four lanes in about three lanes width, is nervous-making even on a motorscooter but not, generally, scary-fast).

Tomorrow, up early and Healthy Outdoor Activity, or some such thing. And I have to remember to gas up my car, prolly.

In re the economy: I’m sympathetic to all the folks chanting “Let them burn!” Only problem is, the Them on Wall Street built the fire from a lot of our money and I’m nae so sure I will enjoy the smoke of that particular pyre. I hate bailin’ em out, I loathe seein’ that much power accrue toi the Feds — and I am fresh out of fixes. If the markets crash, we’ll all feel it.

I am not sure what Uncle John McCain is up to in re the debate but demurring will, I think, hurt him: looks like he’s chickening out. I don’t believe he is — but getting elected is a marketing game and this is way too spinnable.

And now, to the showers and away! (Superman has his phone booth, Batgirl her Secret Room in Gotham Library; me, I’m a clean superheroine!)
1. When I was a child, comic books were Suspicious Objects in the home but a nice Tintin book? That was ooh-tay. It’s all a matter of marketing.

2. “Delightful?” Yeah, ‘cos there are no bad words strong enough.