21 August 2014

Thank you Al Gore

For saving the whole motherfucking planet by making me cook in the dark.

II know that you neant well when you thought (and I use the word loosly) that the use of longer life bulbs would make a difference.

Bullshit, What was a $1 4pack of bulds is now a $12 4pack of bulbs, with added mercury, and no added bulb life.

Thank you for saving the water. I must now stay in the head and monitor each bolus to see that it has gone down the tubes, sometimes requiring as many as 5 flushes.

I'd like to thank you personally, but I can't get access to the “general aviation” areas where your personal Gulfstream lands with the USAF escort.

That's ok. I realize that the world is more important, and that your monthly power bill is more than my annual income because you're more important than I am. Cause you were in 'Nam. Chaplain's assistant, then worked up to Photographer's assistant.

28 July 2014

Yard Man Black Hole

I used to live near 43d street and Watonga. (damn it's a neat sound, c.mon and say it with me now: Watonga. Watonga! WATONGA!! Thanks, I feel better now.)

The thing is that so far as I can figure it was the staginging area for evey yard crew in the metroplex, and here was a pothole right in front of my house. Stuff bounced out of the trailers every day. I started making an industrial strength windchime. “Hubcap, shovel, shovel, string trimmer, yard blower, yard blower”. Had to quit when I found a 17 horse John Deere tractor mower on my lawn. It broke the tree.

Things that are over-rated

Walker Percy had a character say “the two most over-rated things in the world are sexual intercourse and Johns Hopkins Medical School”. (Quote from memory)

Let's not limit it to two.

Whole Wheat stuff other than bread. Whole wheat pasta dissolves before it gets to the al dente point, Whole wheat tortillas fall apart at non-trivial times, that is, when the enchilada is on the fork headed toward the mouth.

Applewood smoked anything. It doesn't make the smoked food taste of apple, any more than cherry wood furniture tastes better thatn any other type. The only type of product worth mentioning pecan, but not the wood. is The green husks that surround the nut are treasured by cogniscenti. Mesquite burns too hot, hickery is not native.

Expensive wines. Even in blind taste tests experts have a hard time telling the difference. I now coin a new term: “Wallet-Snobbery”, meaning “you will never know the difference because you can't afford it”. This applies to so many diffferent things (you've never driven a..., you've never tasted a..., you've never fucked a...) that I see the phrase gaining popular use soon.

Heirloom Veggies. Robert Aton Wilson (thought I was gonna cite Heinlein agin, didn't you) wrote “there are two kinds of fools. There are those who say 'this is old therefore this is good', and there are those who say 'This is new, therefore this is better'”. I do like the colorful potatoes, though

Pre-CBS Fenders, pre-Norlin Gibsons, and all that collector bullshit. For me, a guitar is a tool, plain and simple, and if it does the job then I'm happy. This does not mean that I buy lao gai products. OTOH, I also have a few shelves of autograph first editions, so I understand the feeling.

Anything with a lowercase “I” in front of it. Pad, pod, book, tune. Not bad per se, just over-rated.

Well Shit, I Did Not Know This

By way of Weapons Man, I found out that Ovation Guitars is ceasing productin in the States. This doesn't suprise me terribly; The Encore line has been made overseas since its inception, and the fact that the factory was up in, wazzit, Connecticut?, meant that it was doomed by the political climate. The founder, guy names Kaman, started out as a military Helicopter maker. 'Nuff said, for the state that has run native son Samuel Colt the hell out of town.

That being said, I can't say I have any fondness for Ovation guitars. The turtle backs make them difficult to play when sitting or standing – they always want to go strings-up like a BlueGrass Dobro. That's a distraction that gives a pro player problems. The choices are to hunch over to a really uncomfortable degree, or to use a special stand to hold the guitar in place while standing behind it (I remember seeing Rennisance and Yes using this method).

They shine in one application, though. Can't beat 'em as beach guitars. Loud, clangy, brash... The fucking guitar's already 3 beers ahead of me! All man-made materials, nothing to warp. Use it as a fucking canoe paddle, change the strings, and back to normal. OTOH, doesn't burn for shit, and sometimes that's the only way to get rid of folksingers (an abomination and a stench unto the nostrils of the LORD).
Here's the real skinny. The Connecticut line was making just the custom shop Adamas line, which sells for average about $3k. Not worth it. If you're dropping that kind of green on a new axe you can get a better instrument at a better price, with your name in mother of pearl (or at least mother of toilet seat) inlaid into the fretboard. (BTW, a fret job on an Ovation essentially means REPLACING THE FRETBOARD, cause man-made materials).
I wish the company the best of luck. You'll still be able to get the same fiberglas boxes, the same durability, as you have becomed accustomed to because those makers haven't changed. You just don't have Ovation Custom Shop anymore. If you want a real custom, you already know Neal, you know Michael, you know Randy, and these are just off the top of my head in Texas.

Probably the Most Unkindest Words I Ever Uttered

Were to a teenage girl that I had known for years, who asked me “Why don't the boys like me?”

“Darling, you're cute, you're smart. And you have the voice of a crow”.

Seriously, the ONE THING that one can change without surgery or therapy is the speaking voice. For fuck's sake I grew up in what most folks would call East Texas. I don't have the flat nasality of the native accent. I usually explain my accent as being brought upon by a younger brother with a hearing inpedimant, and it being easier to lip-read. Carrying as I do a beard something between Santa Claus and Billy Gibbons, I can no longer use that excuse, but I swear by the dear virgin mary and her seven dwarves that when I was in hospital the nurses called each other in to hear my voice, and when I'vd had to go to government offices I've been held there so that the co-workers could hear my voice. I quit doing radio 35 years ago.

It ain't hard to have a pleasant voice. Just pay attention. Read to your kids, and do the voices. Slow down, and make the feelings come through. The human voice is the most sensitive musical instument, and it'a a shame to see it abused or neglected.

Those Crow Nims

It can get confusing, particularly in the proliferation of acronyms. Some are all purpose:

TL;DR = Too Long; Didn't Read.
YMMV= Your Milage May Vary (used in a metaphorical fashion),
TEOTWAWKI = The End Of The World As We Know It,
YOLO- You Obviously Love Owls (Rice U Version)
IYKWIMAITTYD = If You Know What I Mean And I Think That You Do

and those are just some of the … “more accesible”, commonplace ones.

SciFi: that I read

SMOF= Secret Master Of Fandom
SJW = Social Justice Warrior
GHH = Glittery Hoo-Haa
SMOD = Sweet Meteor Of Death
STFU = Special Task Force Unicorn (Thanks, Larry!) (Shut The Fuck Up is the usual usage)

Some are political:

VWRC = Vast Right Wing Conspiricy
VLWC = (you do get the idea, right?

A lot of them owe a debt to the Military (TL;DR)

Some are carried over from dating and sex sites: (Again, TL;DR, but I'm glad that I was not the one to explain to a good friend and neighbor the acro “MILF”) (Mother I'd Like to Fuck)

But these are new to me:

TWANLOC = Those Who Are No Longer Our Countrymen, and
FYTW = Fuck You, That's Why
Some text is in white font, 'cause I suspect my dear Mother visits from time to time, just to see that the socks are picked up.

Tall and tan and young and lovely

The Girl from Impenema Goes Walking , and when dhe passes each guy she passes goes Ahhhhh

Ah the Bossa Nova. And the beautiful girls.

You want to see a color-blind society? Brasil.

During the times of the slave trade, North America absorbed perhaps 8% of the incoming trade. Brasil took about 50% (it's a big country), and the Carribean area took about 40%. Look it up, this is not rocket surgery.

My point is hybrid vigor: Just watch the World Cup, filtered through Google Images, for Beautiful Girls, Not Blonde

Portugese, Spanish, Indio, African and Asian. The women are stone beautiful and don't you dare call me a liar. Unfortunately, the culinary lines don't seem to have mixed. Black beans and white rice (Cristos y Moros) is not culinary ecuminism, even with platanos.

21 July 2014

Wipe Your Feet When You Come In

close-up picture of an astronaut's footprint in the lunar soil. 

Bless your sole. 

So What Do We Do With A Problem Like Lois?

(Sound of Music Clip Goes here)

So some hard drives crashed. It could happen to anyone, right? I mean, if the data I need to defend myself in an IRS audit just happens to be on that drive vanishes, then I'm OK?

Well, no. Find all your hard copies and then we'll talk. (All government agencies have a policy of considering e-mails to be ephemeral instantuations of REAL documents, therefore ALL e-mails are to be printed out and retained). OOPSIE! That memo must have been on theat same drive...

This leads us to an odd situation. We've got the obvious Mens Rea (guilty mind) executing a well-coordinated ass-covering, but a reasonably plausible one.

Now here's an idea. Abuse of Fiduciary and Failure to Perform Due Diligence. After all, she was/is employed as arbiter of imposts on the whole of the body politic, on behalf of the selfsame body politic, entrusted with carrying out that duty, and turning it to personal benefit. Neglect of routine mandated recordskeeping looks like a Due Diligence matter to me.

Now I realize that these matter are civil court matters, but the remedy is usually the appointment of an independent-to-hostile auditor appointed by the court and not the DOJ, which is what we're looking for anyway.

Run it up the flagpole and see who salutes.

Re: Sandra Fluke

In some cases of uterine and/or breast cancer progesterone is indicated. That's not birth control, that's off label prescription. Hormone threapy is also indicated for early post menstrual syndrlome. That's not the same thing as, e.g. RU486, the “morning after pill”. Never was, never will be. But will forever be confused with. On purpose. 'Cause that's the way they roll. Lying cunt, she knew that when she stood up.

Munchausen fireman

Our GodKing seems to be forever dancing from fire to fire, all of which he has set himself, all of which are blamed on others, and says he can't dance to the music of honkeys.

How about some video of Obama dancing? No hay.

An Open Letter to John Cornyn

To: The Honorable John Cornyn, Senator for the State of Texas

I must admit that I was quite surprised to find you named as a suporter of the incumbent in the Mississippi Senate race. I find it indefensible that you, through your Political Action Committee, contributed $50,000 to the libelous attack on Chris McDaniel , and explicitly supported Thad Cochran, a time-serving, rent-seeking RINO-at-best.

Do not expect my support in your upcoming election bid. I hope that there will be a solid conservative/libertarian to oppose you in the primaries.

This act, be it motivated by realpolitic, inside baseball, or just quid pro quo, is abhorrent to my understanding of the duties of the the Senate, which, in the words of Edmund Burke, are :”to stand for what is right, not what is popular”. You, sir, seem to have failed on both points,

Your Friend,

James Collins

(Salutation and closing according to Miss Manners. Official correspondence and all that. The closing “Your Friend” is endorsed for correspondence with equals, and is in fact the approved signing-off for correspondence between elected heads of state and others regal or elected. Correspondence between regal heads of state finishes off with “You loving Cousin”. IIRC, including declarations of war)

19 July 2014

Johnny Winter, he dead

Saw him live at the old Texas Opry House back in the 'whatevers.  I also saw him at the Montose Krogers New Years Eve around '86.  Ugly dood with lots of tats, buying 40 pounds of dry catfood and 4 cases of canned catfood.  He turned toward me and said "nice tee shirt".  A Lone Star Beer Tee, about 12 years old at the time.  Had Johnny Winter on it.  Looked down, and damn if the image on the shirt wasn't the guy with catfood and tabloids in front of me.  This is my brush with greatness.

Central American Immigrants

Just a snapshot here, but in Houston we have a rather large assortment of various South-of-the-Border types from all over. I have one Bolivian SIL and one Chilean SIL for that matter.

The South Americans, by and large are educated professonals. The Argies, the Bolivians, the Chileans and so on tend to get along together reasonably well. Not so much the Venezueleans

We have here scattered throughout the metroplex millions of Mexicans. Southeast side, Spring Branch – there are neighbothoods where you won't see a sign in English for blocks. The Guatamalans are in a small vecino off Westpark. There are corners where the men stand to wait for someone to pick them up for some casual labor. They are not to be confused with the Hondurans 4 blocks up, or the Niicaraugans you passed a few blocks ago. They don't mix. They don't play well amongst themselves, and they all resent the Mexicans.

What we don't have is a bunch of “Hispanics”. We have a bunch of folks from roughly the same area of the world, with all the baggage that comes from being raised in a small, dare I say, Balkanized area. You expect Armenians and Turks to get along? They carry the baggage of dozens of little border wars, tribal conflicts, grudges and animosities. They go to different churches (mostly, but not all, Catholic), venerate different saints, celebrate different holidays. Some are Creole*, some are Mestizo, some are Indio, some are quite Black. This is not a pint of chocolate milk, just now spilled at the border, to be sopped up with a roll and a half of Bounty. This is an invasion of... I dunno. Fire ants? All from different mounds, hostile to each other and to the new enviornment.

The USA can't just dump out a box of SpectraCide, either. We've got to go in with tweeezers, pick up every damn one of them, and return them to the home mounds. The alternative is that they will colonize, they will make new mounds, and then some well-meaning sonofabitch will come along with a shovel and, **, try to mix the mounds.

*partly European and pale

Peer Review

I remember a number of times hearing about “Room temperature superconductivity”, and then, some years later, in small print, a retraction. The retraction never got the headlines the original claim got, but, still, better science than non-science, right? This is something that was, to use the phrase of art, “FALSIFIABLE” , That is to say, it can be demonstrated to be reproducible (which is NOT the same thing as proven), or it can be demonstrated to be FALSE. You know the phrase “the exception proves the rule”?
In this case “proves” means to demonstrate the falsifiability of a hypothesis. In simple English, an exception demonstrates that the “rule” is fucked, and that further thought is needed. The word “Proof” is derived from the Latin for “Test”. (If you're interested, the word in Spanish is “prueba” and means “test”.)

Now let's move down a few doors from the hard disciplines like chemistry, physics, biology, math, geology, and engineering: where the unfriendly instructors expect you to get the math straight, to the lighter, more user friendly area of the model sciences, where the numbers dance to the tune of the designer.

In these rooms we find the economists (the “dismal science”, but it ain't, any more than boxing is the “sweet science”, and that's because neither one is a science), the political scientists, and the climate scientists. But they aren't, really, because SCIENCE has a method. Generate a hypothesis, conduct experiment to verify, make honest assessment, publish. These soft sciences do not have a lab in which to carry out any experiments, they cannot reproduce experiments, all they can do is formulate models to predict future trends. All the attempts at mathematical precision are so much hokum. The only thing that matters in this case is Predictive Value, and in this they uniformly fail.

Back in High School, I was taught that the average of averages was statistically useless. I didn't know then about Standard Deviations, Long Tails, and Strange Attractors. Hell, I didn't even know about the Oxford comma, except that I used it to make things clear.

But back to the topic. It comes as no big surprise to me to find that something on the order of 70% of “peer reviewed” papers in some journals are bieng retracted. Professorial courtesy kinda thing. The bulk of them, so far as I can figure, are in microbiology, which is not a topic that I follow closely, nd is one that requires a certain amout of discrection on the part of the person personing the microscope. (To say “maning” would be sexist). A person tasked with monitoring {x} will look for that. I call it the “green Impala” syndrome, from when in High School the most common mommy-vehicle was a , you guessed it green Impala. Must have been thousands of them. But that's what I was looking for. I'm sure there were more Chevy Novas and Ford Galexy500s. The thing is that you find what you're looking for.

Eeew, Yucky Azaman!

So Amazon is willing to operate a Kindle Library, $10 USD per month subscription fee, for backlist titles of Ebooks.

The mighty JC picks up his ClueBat of Power.

“This is backlist!” he thunders. “This is stuff that you can't get in the bookshops because NOBODY WANTED IT!” “These are the red-headed stepchildrenwho are now found to have macickal powers!


Some stuff you just can't find. Evelyn Waugh's short stroies. Walker Percy's essays. Good shit. And there's stuff you can't give away, like the political memoirs of currently active vote- whores (I am not looking at you, Bill, Hillary and Barry Soetero) who will never ever ever earn back their multi-million dollar advances. We're looking at stuff where you see a label “stop asking for it because nobody wants it, and we're tired of saying so”. The stuff that sold 250 copies to libraries, but you can't check it out, because eery copy has been stolen.

So the EEEEVUL AZAMON is going to get these books into the hands of readers, for a small fee, and even GIVE MONEY to the authors, which Libraries DON'T do. I blush. I clutch my pearls. This is so horrid

To recap: EEEEVUL Azmon is willing to act as a library for Ebooks, and PAY the authors. This is a bad thing. But REAL libraries, brown-nosed by the publishers, generate exactly Sweet Fanny Adams per eyeball on text. Putting backlist in syndication (as it were) would at least give a good blow to the back of the head with a 2x4 cluebat to some publishers.

Fuckit. Teh stoopid is too strong here young Jedi.

Yay Used Books!

Just got a copy of Sir Pterry Pratchett's semipenulitmate book, Snuff. One penny plus $3.99 shipping and handling. Came with 2 ex libris stickers autographed by Himself. Swoon.

18 July 2014

Living in the USA: On the Cheap'

Look at the budget; yours, not the Fed.Gov.

Cover rent. Iffen you usedtabe rich, that would be called a “mortgage”.

That's job one. After that is Electricity, and you can probably find a better deal unless you're locked into a pre-pay deal, in which case the thing to do is to get out of it. You'll get your deposit back in a year, and could save you about $75 per month.

Lose the cable and your landline Go to Amazon Prime or Netflix, Use the savings to upgrade your ISP, Get more bandwidth. Save about $100 per month. Really. I haven't owned a TV for 30 years, but this is what folks tell me,

Learn to cook: “Bread gets re-defined as “flour” (do you have a sourdough starter? Ok, so keep a yeast culture) Pizza gets redefined as “flour plus water plus tomato plus cheese”. And Beer! Beer's just really thin bread, right? Plus some hops, which are just a plant, and I'm smarter than a plant so I could probably... Then you start thinking about the little garden that you could put on the back porch. Some tomatoes, basil, rosemary, oregano... oooh, and some peppers, they would be neat, and...

Food doesn't come in a box, food doesn't come in a can, food doesn' t come at the end of a phone call. Food is made of stuff, and the more stuff you have on hand the better off you are. And the closer you are to source the cheaper you can live.

And nothing's free. You may love the independent feeling you get from driving your F150 or Chevy Subhuman, but how often do you use that capacity? Buy beers (or bring homebrews) to your friends and neighbors with trucks, own the minimal transport needed for yourself and your family, and call in favors as needed. Save up the GTO (Gas Tires and Oil) bucks and probably insurance premiums.

Hit the resale shops. For those of us who sweat at work, there's no point in getting $45 a pair new Levis. Much less if motor oil, caulk, paint, sewage, or cement are going to get on them. Currently, about $3.50 is about what I pay for a pair of jeans, and if I get a dozen wearings out of them I'm happy, and that's thte point where I've spent more money washing them than the purchase price, Work shirts, tee shirts: same applies. Ladies, you too. This is even better if you're white collar. Men's suits can be found (not JC Penny, Jos A Banks) for less than the price of dry cleaning. I've got half a closet of designer stuff that never cost me more that $12. Women's wear is much the same, but slightly less cheaper. Socks and undies, well, buy new. Shoes are a judgement call (check soles and heels).

Protips on resale: go to the rich neighborhoods and use local charities. A lot of resales are asssociated with local churches, and that's where they get their donations. The Church of the Dollar is going to have better stock than Little Sisters of the Poor. Duh. Most have time/date stamps on the tags, meaning the longer it's been hanging, the cheaper it is.

This is just off the top of my head. A bit more time in the kitchen, well yes. A bit more time shoooing, well yes. But being able to say “It's home-made” is a good thing, and so is “you really won't believe what I paid for this!” should provide some balance.

10 July 2014

Shouldn't need saying, but

ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED. You can't trust the SOB in front of you in the Fun Show.

ALL WIRES ARE ALWAYS HOT, and it doesn't matter who signed the lockout/tagout card. That's why God gave you a VOM.

THERE'S STILL WATER PRESSURE even though you shut it off at the mains, and the minute you disconnect the toilet supply line you'll get all the water from upstairs. This applies especially to blackwater lines.

YOUR MIDDLE NAME IS MURPHY and the law follows you wherever you go

Oh, and the jackhammer doesn't know you big toe from the pea gravel, and that’s why I wear steel toed sandals. And you probably can't bench press your car, so use the damn jack stands. If you say “Hold my beer and watch this” it's probably a bad idea. If you're doing something to post on YouTube, ditto. Likewise anything starting with “Bet you can't”, or “So we started drinking Tequila”.

Damn , that's a good line, I'll have to remember it. “Your Middle Name Is Murphy” and don't you forget it.

Sorry About

But I don't link-hore as much as I should, Living as I do without intertubenetweb access, I draft posts and save 'em up, trade 'rm with my friends, collect the whole set, and then go off elsewhere to shove them down the throat of the internet. (And you all thought I stated at the other end. Naughty, naughty Newt. You must be spanked.)

The GF is in hospital and needs me to help her out. Plus side: I get to use her car (I don't own one) . Minus side: it's a 40 mile round trip optimax, and about 50 if I avoid using the toll roads, which would add another $10 per round trip. But I love her, and she loves me, and dammit getting that sweater was IMPORTANT.

Plus I've been running a fever of about 100.2 degrees F for the past 4 days. Doubleplusunfun. OTOH, I just made a big vat of pozole, so that should help.

Buddy of mine drives old cars

and has trouble keeping them running. Called me yesterday, though, saying he now has just the guy to keep his 1958 Chrysler on the road. Actually what he told me was “I just found a great Mexicanic”.
(Drumroll, and cymbal splash).

About the newest flow across the border

The executive orders were written to allow OTM (other than Mexican) and OTC (Other than Canadian) invaders to bypass some standard protocol.

How many utes are showing up with (e.g.) Guatemalan papers? Or is it simply that the claim to be OTM ,is enough? After all, it's an intolerable demand to show proof of identity to vote, why should it be otherwise for these “new Americans”?

Here's an idea: allow 6 months to get a green card. Don't get it you go home.

Here's another idea: Give la Migra its teeth back. Fuck Carlos Santana and his ubiquitous Che teeshirt. Viva la Chinga Migra!

Oh and repeal the Family Reunification Act. Dear sweet jezuz the folks I know who just “happened to be” here in the States when little Juanita popped out of the oven. I was just as surprised as you were!

There can be only one reason for the influx of “children” coming over the border: To import the families. Anyone remember the “Peter Pan” children in the early 60s? Didn't think so. Some of them are my dear friends. Anybody remember the MarilitosEver watched an episode of Miami Vice? That's the difference.
Let's bear in mind that “children “ in the FedSpeak means essentially anyone under the age of 25. The photos I've seen show mainly daily shavers. This is not an invasion of 8 year old Disney Princesses. This is a Muriel Boatlift, clearing the jails, supplying (in many cases) false documentation, and a few bucks to become SEP. Somebody Else's Problem.

That's what we engineers call “Proven Technology” - it has worked in the past and should work forever, or until the laws of physics get repealed

Electrons, Ain't they Fun?

Got a call the other day from a Minion of a Prominent Businessman (I used to work there, and my business card said ”minion” on it. Really) “JC, what do you know about 320v 3 phase power supplies?”

A bit of rigging and the judicious use of a block and tackle got my jaw off the floor. I know he loves to find the good deals on Ebay, but...”What kind of equipment is this?” “RTU #5”, which means Roof Top Unit, which means HVAC, which means Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning, which means package unit air conditioner, but you knew that. But 320v 3 phase?

“Email me a pic of the data plate, and I'll get back to you.” Yeppers, the data plate says “208/230 wye”, There's a thing in 3 phase electron wrangling that distinguishes between “Y” (wye) and Delta. TL;DR.

Go out on site to check what's there. There's a fab shop and a design shop, a couple of miles apart. It used to be a unitary locations, and as power was needed I installed more circuits , transformers, all that stuff, plus research, documentations, electrical and mechanical fab...damn I loved that job even though I was not paid anything near what I was worth. Anyway:

Wow! Mains feed for the 480v 3 phase has a disconnect, and another disconnect from the mains feed to the 115vac transformer. I can shut this puppy down without going to the pole! Yay!! Problem still exists, though. 480 is not 230, even if you whittle down the conductors. And adding up 115 1 phase cannot magically transform it to 3 ph (catch the electrical joke there? Shocking, I tell you). But I can still disconnect the 480 without disturbing the 115 that runs the outlets supplying the computers and such Double yay!

I shudder to imagine what the old premis looked like after the firm moved out. I knew that all the industrial shelving, all the old cubicle partitions, all the old light fixtures had been moved out. Used drywall stacked and ready for reuse. Nails and screws all recycled and boxed for re-use. Unused electrons stored in Bell jars. Leftover conditioned air compressed and stored in cylinders. So had all the transformers and load centers I had installed. Palletized, shrinkwrapped, and ready to go.

Now when the average person thinks of a transformer, the image is of something plugged into the wall to charge the cell phone, or, in more industrial settings, the thing that you use to charge car batteries. Big fucker, right? Size of a cinder block! So go into your back yard. See the wires? See that big cylindrical thing with fins on? THAT'S a transformer. If you live in a big apartment complex, it's that big hulking ominously humming mysterious thing near your electrical circuit breaker box. You do know where your breaker box is, don't you?

Sombitch weighs about 500 pounds. About 2 foot deep by 3 foot wide by 3 foot tall. Electrical closet is near the center of the building, and you just can't get a fucking forklift through the hallways. Good thing I'm still up on Pharonic Tech. Even better that someone else took care of that before I showed up, so now I can source a 3phase load center and breakers. After hours of research (shopping) on the intertubenetwebs, I find a decent price 10 minutes drive away. Price is about $400, so I did backup to show Ebay and Amazon prices, mentioned shipping charges and returns policies. Purchase ok'd, zooming off at 16:55 h (having notified the supplier that I was in motion, swoop into the lot at 17:04, tap on employee door AND ARE SERVED. God bless all you dudes at Crawford Electric (CESPO), and I'll bring beer next time. Promise.

Rules of Engagement with a non-National Force

We're not at war. No, no, no. We haven;t been since VJ Day. Our country has been involved in “Police Actons” “Counterinsurgent Activities”, “Military Arvisories” and so on.

This is just so much bullshit, and why? We have not ben (ahem) exchanging hostilities with recognized nation-states.

In Korea at least the two sides wore uniforms. The wheels fell off that in the 'Nam, unless you consider ninja-jamas to be a uniform. In the sandbox it is a matter of course to wear civvies to combat, and even to wear the traditional “puptent” women's garb in retreat.

What in the name of the Virgin Mary and Her 7 Dwarves are we doing there? This is a dogfight featuring a pack of rabid pitbulls, and the likely result of entering the ring is to have all of them turn on us. GTFO, and let 'em kill themselves.

Yard Man Black Hole

I used to live near 43d street and Watonga. (damn it's a neat sound, c.mon and say it with me now: Watonga. Watonga! WATONGA!! Thanks, I feel better now.)

The thing is that so far as I can figure it was the staginging area for evey yard crew in the metroplex, and here was a pothole right in front of my house. Stuff bounced out of the trailers every day. I started making an industrial strength windchime. “Hubcap, shovel, shovel, string trimmer, yard blower, yard blower”. Had to quit when I found a 17 horse John Deere tractor mower on my lawn. It broke the tree

30 June 2014

On Publishing

I recently ran across an article warning that CEOs who write business advice books trend to be heading for a fall. (I have misplaced the link and lack the desire to find it again).

I have also been following the indie/e-publishing versus legacy (Big 5) fights, whereby authors generally get royalties of about the level of sales tax on the product. Also, the average advance is now about $2500, and, due to small print runs, very few authors “make back the advance”.

The publishers themselves, though, snack high on the food chain in NYC, and claim huge operating expenses.
What's funny, though, is that they can come up with multi-million dollar advances for political candidates. Only the right ones, of course. Oops, I mean “only the good ones”, who are axiomatically Not the right ones but the left ones.

One would be tempted to suspect groupthink, or some kind of systematiic bias. Let's restrict it to the the last three Presidencies: Clinton, G. W. Bush, and Obama.

Bill Clinton book advance: 2001 - $10 million advance

Hillary Clinton , 2000: $8 Million advance

Hillary Clinton 2014 $18 Million advance

George Bush $3 mil

Laura Bush $0.3 mil
Presidential Dog ?

Obama First Autobiography $18n mil
“, condensed version $0.5 million

Obama Second Autobiography $16 mil
Michelle O $12 mil
Presidential dog. $3 Mil

So, the Clinton Family gets something like 32 million dollars. The Current President of the United States has received something like $40 million before he even gets the job.

But, you see (ignorant peon), this is payment for value received, not a blatant bribe. So none of them ever make back the advance? Well, we all make mistakes. Cunts. They pay extra for the sttoopid. The Hildabeast's book is already marked down 60%, and it's becoming a bit of a causus something even in Manhattan, where lunches are expensive and judgement is cheap.

Value received by shiny white ass.

So the Bill's and the Hill'z and the current President have sold over $100 million dollars US?

I don't think so 


(photo requests for images of my shiny white ass are handled through the Comments.)

Notes on Eric Cantor

This is just, like crazy, man. Second most powerful Republican in the House stomped in the primaries? This can't be happening. Must have been a bad hot dog at the ball game....But how?

Must have been huge amounts of TEA Party money coming in. Nope, the national groups spent exactly (lemme double check the numbers). FUCKALL. Not one shiny penny.

Well then, huge amounts of out-of -state money must have tilted the playing field. Damn, 0 – for – 2.

There must have been like HUGE sacks of money spent, right? Foul tip keeps the batter in the box. Yes, big bucks. Brat spent $200k. Cantor spent $5.4 m The winner was outspent 27 to 1. The loser had been assured of a walkaway landslide. Polls showed him leading by 37 to 45 percentage points. That's why candidate funding control is so goddam important, right?

Count's still 0 – and – 2. Pitchout to catch the Rino's runner on first leaning: This was all an anti-Semitic thing because Joooo. Runner holds, count's now 1 – and – 2.

Fake to hold the lead Donkey at third. The crowd grows anxious.

Fastball down the middle: Give the voters what they want! Swing and a miss and you're out.

And it's really that simple. Cantor gave up his voter base by becoming a D.C, insider. Realpolitik. Go along to get along. Root for the Redskins and the Orioles, and not the home team. Try to play long ball and forget about protecting home plate. There were countless opportunities to play little ball. Yogi Berra was a master of that – Foul off a grounder. High tip. Foul out of play. Occasionally knock the hide off the sucker. But you, Eric, just stood there at the plate and went down on called strikes, with your bat on your shoulder, hoping for a compromise with the umpire.

You played in the Big Leagues. That's enough to get you a job a a coach in the Minors, maybe. Get a gig doing color commentary. Do some radio ads for used car dealerships. If you're lucky you might get a beer distributorship, or schill for Personal Injury ambulance chasers.

And, to tell you the truth, Brats sell well at ballgames.

Houston's a BIG city. (1)

A buddy of mine called me up to get directions from Point A (where he was, about one mile from my palatial abode, roughly two miles from the Astrodome) to Point B (way out in fucking nowhere (Westheimer Rd and the Beltway, about 25 miles straight line). Driving Fred Sanford's truck, without getting on freeways, avoiding traffic, and not passing in front of police substations.

Time to dial in some precision: “So, dood, where perzactly are you?”

“I just passed a Starbucks”. Zero information content. He's on a cell phone, therefore he is within three blocks of a Starbucks. (Axiom. Plot out locations of Starbucks versus cell phone coverage. I dare you. Some Starbucks will have curb service for crack cocaine, some caviar food trucks, just depends on the neighborhood)

“OK, just slide my place and we'll look at a map, and draw it out”. I've found the map (not the good one, but that one's old. 1952), marked origin and destination, optimax solution already drawn with a Hi-Liter.

“No, I wanna take Pissonit (I can never remember how to spell the street)out to the Beltway and then come over on the feeder.” I draw his attention to his skin color (he's a rich mahogany. Me? I'm fishbelly). “That runs you through West University Place and the rich parts of Bella ire. You really want to drive Fred's truck through those? Stops for “Suspicion”? Plus it sends you about 12 miles south of where you're going?”

Phone call one hour later: “Kinda near where I'm going, should be there in thirty minutes or so. Stuck in traffic right now, but I'll be there soon.”

Scarybit: I used to be a Boy Scout. So did my friend. Which one do YOU trust with a map and a compass?

(1) The Houston Metroplex is really fucking huge. Call it about six thousand square miles, bigger than El Lay. Take an arc based in Galveston. Run it East to Baytown, run it South about to Victoria, give it that as a radius. Run it North to Conroe... I underestimated.

Common Core

So far as I can tell, thte idea behind this is to teach dukk children the tricks the bright children use.

Doesn't work. The bright kids don't learn the tricks, by and large they work them out themselves. No-body told me that 1 over 7 was 0.14. Worked it out for myself, and the fact that one seventh was twice seven was just lagniappe. And that word there, “lagniappe”. It means (in the words of Mark Twain) the thirteenth donut in a baker's dozen. And one half of one over three is repeating sixteens.

You know where you learn this shit?

Well, actually, fuck you, I learned it in Baseball. Learned to make the numbers dance, and learned that the numbers lie, because even with a .446 average aagainst left handed pitching and thte fact that he hasn't hit a leftie in his last 5 at bats, his odds are still ledd than 50% over the entire at-bat.

Common Core assumes that the shortcuts that I use can be used by everyone. Don't work that way, and it shouldn't. I memorized 3.141596283 and I'll stop there, bcause it was expected of me. The standar mnemonics are: May I Have A Small Container Of Coffee (31415626) and (Man I Need A Drink Alcoholic of Course). Commn Core also assumes that the students give a fuck. They don't.

Now here's another: I go and catch up with sone buddies, and because I'm really famous and shit it's at the Brown Derby in LA. You had the smoked salmon, but your girlfriend had the oysters, and you had two orders of oysters, but you had the lobster with truffles...(this is where I show up, nibble a breadcrust and adopt an abandonded water glass).
Oh, it's just too difficult. Math's so hard. There's me and Siffany, you and Tiffany, and you and Viffany, plus you JC, so let's just divide it by 7 ! Makes it easy, right! Lord help them when they try to figure the tip, but knowing the folks I do in “high-class” places in LA, the table service dude will get fucked. Valet parking guy may get $20 to $100 each, cause every one of those fuckwads knows what he paid for his car. ME, I just pisssed on all the radiators. Heh, heh.

See, that's what happens when you don't learn math. Let's look at averages. Did you know that there are 3 different kinds?

Add 'em all up and divide - that's called the MEAN

Chart 'em all up and find where there's more above and below, that's called the MEDIAN

List 'em all and find the most common number, that's called the MODE

I learned this in 5th grade. But that was around the middle of the end of the War in VietNam (which started in 1939, with the East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere going after the French colony in VN. Please, don't get me started), and numbers started to take on a numinous sparkle all their own.

Bluenose Nation

Gun Control

cause look how good it works! Pretty fucked up.

Dame Agatha Christie, 1941: “Of course he might have ownes a pistol, for carrying when abroad, y'know” (quote from menory)

Likewise Mark Twain on visiting the Holy Land (it wasn't broken up into countries per se at the time).

Likewise Graham Green visiting Mexico.

Ditto Evelyn Waugh visiting Africa (specificly Abyssinia, a law abiding Italian colony). Great line from the Sword of Honour Trilogy: “Darling I've been called up. Can you find my service pistol?” “Oh, here it is. Found it in the toybox in the nursery.” We all remember the epidemic of accidental shootings in the UK , right?

You Drink Too Much!

Can you say “bias error”? Wanna know who's responsible for the increase in DWI? Two groups: Ford Motor Company, who brought the automobile into the price range of the working stiff; and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who keep moving the goalposts. Deaths due to auto accidents were actually higher when the roads were shared with such eco-friendly vehicles as mules and horse drawn wagons, not to mention the damn pedistrians. Now fuck near everybody's covered in armor, except me on my bicycle, and I'm damn well aware of that. Starting to get the nickname “coyote” - grey haired and paranoid. Fuckin A Tweety. But they're wrong. I realize that the drivers and the roads aren't trying to kill me, they just don't give a damn.

Blood alcohol concentration as measured by Breath-O-Lyzer used to be 1.2%. Pretty fucked up on most scales. Then dropped to 1.0%. Then 0.80%.. The current move is to 0.60%, which is “I may have driven near a brewery”. That's what I mean when I say “moving the goalposts”.

But it doesn't stop there. If I (being a good Christian boy, and not wanting to offend) brush my teeth after enjoying a double garlic with gyro and jalapeno pizza, the assumption is made that I brushed my teeth to cover up the SMELL OF LIKKER. Contrariwise, if I don't, I'm accused of poor hygeine. Got me coming and going. No win.

Look at the liquor bills for the first Continental Congress. Those dudes were consuming at a rate of 2.5 Kennedys per day. And the handwriting was much better than mine.

Smoking Is Yuckie And You Suck!3

This is a real piece of shit dating back to the days of Braniff Airlines (ask your GrandParents, kids). Back in the early days of jet flight, stewerdesses were considered desirable sex partners by those lucky few who could afford to fly in the big ol' jet airliners. Like, exotic. Also, fish in a barrel. Unlike cocktail waitresses, they had a steady supply of wealthy prey. Having to go to the (free, supplied by the airline) hotel and clean up, take a shower, and wash their hair interfered with their desire to lay with wealthy travelers on expense accounts, who were quite likely stauying in the same hotel. This gave an unfair advantage to the (obviously inferior) cocktail waitresses, who were already scantily clad and waiting to take advantage of those pooor fools.

The iconic Shamrock Hilton in Houston (grew up near there) was the designated hotel for all of the international airlines. The stews and pilots had assigned rooms, keys already issued. The victims (pardon me) grateful passangers had to check in and get to the rooms before hanging by the pool. But that little bit of time to get the smoke out of the hair was enough that some poor stews didn't get the man previously targeted. The only thing to do is to ban smoking on airplanes. It was never a health matter.

How did we get here?

Fuck if I know. There's a lot of what folks call “Victorianism”, but if you study the period it's neither obvious nor true, Exemplum Gratia : Ben Franklin and the Hellfire Club. He owned a newspaper, too, but so did a lot of other folks at the time. :Last I checked the newspapers were down to 3 major owners. But for years “Times Features Syndicate”, “AP Syndicate”... thte camoflauge was thin even then. What happened? Well, Claire Booth Luce died , for one, and Universities started giving degrees in “Journalism”.

The certification of “journalists” (as opposed to writers) probably rang the bell for the end of newspapers. noted that one ttime he went through a checkpoint and was asked wht he meant by “reportage”. He swiftly corrected that to “newspaperman” and was allowed through the checkpoint.

Bicycle Pump

OK. I'm a bit user hostile to most things. Let's look at the standard bicycle pump... It uses a standard Schraeder type stem. I have n the past 2 weeks thrown out 3 bike pmps because the little pin that engages the pin in the Schraeder stem.

Fucking pins are made of play-doh. And when they break off, they leave bits of crap that foul the otherwise good Schraeder valves.

The stoopid, it's in the broth.

My Home Town

It's Houston Texas. Best motherfucking place on Earth to live.

Wadda you need to live? Air, water, food, shelter.
Here in Houston, the air all but invites itself int your alvaeoli. The air pressure here is standard sea level. I've had asthma. I've had TB. I like sea level air pressure. Keeps me alive, kinda.

Water: It's considered good enough to brew with by about a dozen breweries locally. Slightly soft, not high in lime.

Food. Houston has more Vietnamese citizens than Saigon. Really. Check the stats. Now think: If Chinese food is good, and French food is good, then Chinese French food should be good too?

Ding! Wrong! Vietnamese food is better than that. A humble Bahn Mi from a humble Vietnamese sammich shop has probably had more time spent on the choice of bakery than you spent on with or without mayo, and most make their own mayo n premises.

C'mon. I dare ya. Name an ethnic cuisine (with the possible exception of live monkey brain from Borneo, and I’m not sure that I couldn't find one here in town) (and I'm NOT going to look, although I do know where to start).

For some reason the Czechs tend to BBQ, but the Poles prefer table service. Find great ones, and they're not throwing stones.

Shelter: If you're willing to move out to the suburbs with the good schools and shit you can get a swankienda at a little over $100 per square foot. That means a new construction house of call it 3ksqft for $300k. Just try to find that anywhere else other than perhaps Detroit where you will be paid to knock it down. My rent is 1/20 of what it might be in NYC or SF. (Why are y'all still allowing Woodrow Wilson to set your rents?)

I’ll admit to some problems here. Public transit sucks, but, Lord be Praised!!! there's a new system being posited, that loses most of the maid's routes (routes going though colored neighborhoods on serpentine paths, but debouching at the rich folks area. “I'll pick you up at the bus stop”).

Bevvie Tip

I drink iced tea. By the pint, by the quart, by the gallon. Really

Okay, gallon and a half per deim during summer, unless it's really hot and I'm doing really sweaty labor. Then I might drink more.

This is not terribly strong tea: 2 bags to the quart (Do Not Squeeze The Last Bit Of Brown Out Of The Bag It Will Make The Whole Thing Taste Nasty), and (sprinkle magic pixie dust) each half gallon is flavored with a 1 quart … thingie (Straw? Packet? Individual portion container?) of generic sugar-free lemonade powdered drink mix substitute product stuff. I'm informed that someone has trademarked this nectar as “Arnold Palmer”. I have no idea who he is, other than the fact that someone once told me that his wife once told Johnny Carson that she kissed his balls for luck. This is a sick, sick society in which we live.

*** The Aforementioned Product Is Not To Be Used As A Substitute For Real Lemonade Especially If You're Expecting To Get Your Lawn Mowed***

This resulting bevvie (RESULTING, you morons, not REVOLTING) being low in caffeine (cold brewing, i.e. tap water on the counter), and containing things that I am informed are useful, such as vitamins and minerals and electrolytes (they think I'm a battery, eh! Light them up, I will I will) is more useful for re-hydration than Co-Cola, lacks the fizzy byproducts, and is very, very cheap. Which makes it close to my heart.

Here's the ProTip. I use stolen pint mugs from a local pub that went tits up so they don't want them back. Keep the mugs in the freezer with about an inch of liquid. Top 'em up with the lemon tea. No ice, no dilution, leaves the ice for x – and – tonic. As a matter of fact, the tea rings lend a certain essence to the vodka and grapefruit soda too.