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17 Jun

>Ow ow. Ow ow ow. Ow.

All the lights are too bright and sounds are too loud. Sharp sounds have a dull echo. I suspect some kind of alien is going to come bursting out through my left-side sinuses any minute.

Either that or it’s a migraine.


Classic Book Review

11 Jun

I do not read “classics” as a rule; I don’t even read popular books. My literary tastes are more or less lowbrow, mostly Science Fiction and old pulps.

But Heinlein gives it a mildly left-handed recommendation* and, finding myself a bit stale on what I’d been reading, I looked for, found and have now read Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing Of The Dog).

It’s a remarkable little book; a bit uneven but charmingly so, a comically mishap-laden vacation trip up the Thames leavened with the author’s musings on history of the passing towns and islands. (It was supposed to be the other way ’round, but that’s how things often go). Published in 1889, the style and tone are remarkably modern and if you admire P. J. O’Rourke’s smooth snark, you’ll find Jerome’s a familiar voice. The setting is just about the peak of civilization in Britain (IMO), which may be food for thought.

As Wikipedia points out, all the pubs and inns are still around, and I believe most of the weirs and locks as well (to say nothing of the islands). With only a little ingenuity, one can recreate the entire river voyage on the ‘net.

I should not have the least doubt the book can be had from Amazon, via the link at Tam’s.
* In Have Space Suit — Will Travel. No, the young hero’s first name is not “Wire.”

Dangerous Wildlife

11 Jun

The Feather Boa Constrictor: The most brightly colored of all snakes. Soft, too. Found in the dressing rooms of strip clubs, etc. Smells faintly of expensive perfume and stale cigarette smoke, with sweaty undertones. Deadly to its prey, which it strikes near closing time, when exhaustion and/or alcohol (etc.) leaves them most vulnerable.

>Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days Of….Tree Swings?

6 Jun

Last Fall, the Painless Tree Surgeon (we call him “Jim”) left us a pair of ropes, installed on a substantial (though stubby) limb of the big old hackberry tree behind Roseholme Cottage. Over the Winter, I put together a swing seat; polyurethaned it in the last few weeks and installed it yesterday.

Those big, globby knots are actually a bowline-on-a-bight, with the free end sloppily hitched around it several times; I hate running out of rope.

More details to follow at Retrotechnologist.

>Stormy Weather

26 May

>It’s not like Joplin — at least not so far and I hope it stays that way. But we have had some nasty weather in Indiana and there’s a a big line of storms that has just crossed the border with Illinois, very angry-red.

The Weather Channel shows a triple threat for my zip code right now: Tornado Watch, Flash Flood Watch and — OMG! — Very High Pollen Level. Hmmm. At least they list it last.

The last batch of storms just missed Roseholme Cottage. Radar shows another line of storms from Joliet, Ill. to about the middle of Louisiana, with the fattest, meanest-looking part running from Joliet to Evansville. We’re not gonna dodge this one unless it gives up and lies down to sleep and that seems unlikely.

So I guess I better put my preparedness luggage where my big, advice-givin’ mouth has been and stand ready to bravely flee to the basement if circumstances warrant.

Update: Broad Ripple didn’t get the worst of it yet again, just a nice, strong, loud storm, heavy rain and a rattle of hail, after which it hammered and slammed away to the next crossroads. Other parts of the state, not so lucky; there are (as a single example from likely many) videos and stills of a genuine tornado out of Bedford, if the damage it left behind wasn’t signature enough.


25 May

>At the Broad Ripple Art Fair On the Hidden Frontier.
How’d you like to have to peel one of these off the hull? Vacuum Mites!“Mites.” Yeah. Three feet long. Not common but usually found in (where else?) Linden/Lyndon’s planetary system. Supposedly an inert, “preserved” specimen. I don’t trust it.

Back on Earth, the propbike!Does it work? Is it dangerous? Two questions with but one answer: “Gee, I sure hope so!”

>"Look Upon My Works, Ye Mighty…"

23 May

>…And prepare.

Unless you bunkered up and pulled the bunk over to block the door, by now you know that Joplin, Missouri has nearly been wiped off the map; video from the aftermath bears an eerie resemblance to Hiroshima or post-tidal-wave coastal Japan.

Amid the wreckage — shattered homes, crumpled cars, a hospital turned to instant ruins — plenty of survivors. Most people made it through.

If you’re much minded of what it takes to pull through disaster, this kind of event presents a challenge: how do you prepare for events too sudden to evade, that reduce your transportation to scrap metal and your home to firewood?

Part of dealing with it is to already have some visceral inkling of the plain fact that forces so vast do exist and they can touch you. –Persons of particularly deep and secure faith generally do well with disasters because they’ve already made their peace with this notion; practitioners of extreme sports come up on the idea from the other side but it’s got to be a help.

As a practical matter, this kind of event is a reminder that a “Bug-Out Bag” can just as easily become a Bug-In Bag, grabbed as you head to the basement or root cellar. Too, it’s a reminder to ensure your emergency supplies are stored in as safe and secure manner as possible — and that you should be planning what you’d do if you had to do without.

The survivors of Joplin are up and about, doing what they can for themselves and others because they have to. Our turn may yet come; some version of it will come to each of us and when it does, we’ve got a choice: face it dazed, with empty hands and an emptier head or with some awareness of what can happen and what we can do afterward.

Your best, most flexible survival tool is between your ears. Everything else you may accumulate is useless without it.

(And the quote is correctly, “Look on my works…” for a proper ten-syllable line).