Cheap Amusement

I had a serious point to make today, but it got lost somewhere. So instead, I give to you cheap laughs. You may not find this nearly as amusing as I do, but that just means you aren't as much of a geek.



Calculator Advice

A little piece of advice for you non-technical types. If you are desperately wandering around looking for a calculator, don't bother to ask the engineers for one. If you do forget my advice, and you get a device with Hewlett Packard emblazoned on it, politely decline and keep going. Unless you've spent the time to learn RPN, the HP calculators engineers use will do you no good.

This only applies to older engineers with HP calculators, though. The newer generations of engineers seem to use TI and Casio calculators, which may prove more helpful.



Long Strange Trip, Indeed

Saturday, the 22, marked the 20th anniversary of me going on active duty with the U.S. Army. I can honestly say that if you had asked me then where I would be in 20 years, it wouldn’t have been here.

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That Didn't Take

Amongst all the old books I've been going through are some children's books. Some I recall fondly, others not so much. One that doesn't ring any bells is a tome entitle It's Fun to Be Nice.


I don't think that little bit of propaganda did the 'rents much good, either on me or big sis. Somebody should ask for a refund.

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Lawsuit As Absurdist Theatre

So, I’m minding my own business trying to get some work done (torque calculations on hydraulic motor and gearbox sets, if you must know) when J emailed me the news.

Dan Rather is suing CBS, Viacom, and others over the ‘intentional mishandling’ of the aftermath of the original ‘fake but accurate’ news story. He figures that’s worth $20 million in compensatory damages and another $50 mil in punitive. Me, I would counter-sue Rather for the damage he did to the credibility of the CBS News organization.

In any event, this is going to make for some fine absurdist theatre if it goes to trial. I’m betting it won’t get that far, though. In my opinion, aside from Kenneth… err, Dan’s lack of any real basis for the suit, both parties have (or should have) copious quantities of knowledge about the other party. Discovery could produce lots of dirt on both sides. Of course Viacom, et al. has more money and can afford more lawyers, so they can just drag it out until Dan croaks. He’s what, a hundred and twelve? Older than dirt? Anyhow, he’s about due, actuarially speaking.

Anyhow, as Dan once said, if a frog had side pockets, he’d carry a handgun. So take those words to heart and either avoid armed amphibians or learn from Gunga Dan’s eventual defeat and don’t make up bullshit to sue over.

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RIP Robert Jordan

Robert Jordan has died. I express my heartfelt condolences to his friends and family. Unfortunately, he didn’t finish the final volume of the Wheel of Time first. So I, along with every other person reading the series, am sitting around going AAARRRGH! I mean, I only started reading the series during the Gulf War, so it’s not like I have any time invested or anything.

This is another reason why I am trying to not start any more series until the author is finished. Of course, finished is always debatable. I bet everybody thought Stephen Donaldson was finished when they got to the end of The Power That Preserves. HAHA! Another two trilogies (one still in progress) and you’re not done yet.

So I’m waiting on Steven Erikson and George R. R. Martin at the moment. I’ve pretty much given up on everybody else until the sequence is finished. Exceptions are made for series that don’t have a definite endpoint, but in general, I’m through waiting on authors. I don’t have time to go back and re-read the last volume after 2 years to figure out what’s going on. On that note, I am going to wait impatiently until the big brown truck drops off The Bonehunters tomorrow.

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Old Gun Stuff

So the process continues of going through the things my sister has been sending me. She takes all the stuff from my Dad’s house she has no interest in and sends it to me. This is fine, because one of the things my sister has no interest in is old books. Yes, I know, I find it hard to believe she’s related to me, too.

When I say old books here I don’t mean books from 20 years ago, either. I have books published in 1893 and earlier in amongst all of the stuff she’s sending me. Some, obviously, are in better shape than others. What I’ve been doing with most of them is transferring it from the beat up cardboard it was shipped in and putting it in plastic bins and placing it in our climate-controlled storage area. Most of my books are already up there as part of the process to get YPS Manor ready for sale.

A select few items get to stay here in the house, though. One of the keepers is a catalog my great-uncle Clay Herbert kept, which was passed to me through the usual circuituous route things take. Uncle Clay died when I was very young. I remember him as the slightly scary old man who lived in my grandparents’ basement. He was always very nice, but also always frightened me a little. He was my grandmother’s uncle, and I now have a lot of his things. I confess some degree of puzzlement as to why, but that’s neither here nor there.

Anyhow, the catalog is from Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Mfg. Co. in Hartford, Conn. USA. The actual catalog itself is undated, but included with it is a price sheet which was revised on March 8, 1917. Apparently, a Govt. Model .45 was going for $22.00 even. Ivory grips would set you back another $5. Engraving would be done for several prices, but the top of the line was $12.50. $39.50 in 1917 would get you a state of the art firearm complete with bling. For the perusal and amusement of the other gun geeks out there, the Flickr set of my scans of the catalog is here.

I also have the 1957 NRA Smallbore Competition rules, but those don’t strike me as being nearly as interesting as the Colt catalog. I may scan those as well, but it’s pretty dry reading. Anyhow, hopefully someone will get some use and enjoyment out of the pics. That way, when I start blegging for answers about WTF these revolvers I have are, somebody will be inclined to help me out.

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Fred is running, Fred is running! I eagerly await the horrible YouTube video about Fred Thompson set to I’m Too Sexy. Or is it already out there? Surely, someone would have let me know about it if it did actually exist. I give two weeks at the outside before someone has made one. Links to the horror are appreciated, by the way.

I, of course, being tuned into the pulse of the nation knew beforehand because the Fred campaign sent J a sticker emblazoned Fred 08. This is why I feel free to refer to him by his first name only, like Cher or Madonna. On that note, imagine Fred Thompson appearing at an awards show in a Bob Mackie dress! An unpleasant mental image, isn’t it? The Emmy awards would be reeling in shock and horror. However, if he did that, he would almost definitely not win the Republican nomination for President. Cross-dressers are limited to positions within the Justice Department.

On a more serious note, I have to say: meh. He’s a mix of the good and the bad. He needs to flesh out the policy positions a tad more substantively. Even if he does, there’s no guarantee he’ll stick to his stated positions once in office. We saw that with the current president. However, so far he’s still ahead of al the leading donk candidates. Even if they change their positions, the positions won’t get any better. Speaking of positions, I hear through the grapevine the positions on display last night at the debate blew. Not having watched the debate, I can only refer you to my source.

Either way it goes, I suppose we’ll be faced with the eternal question in the fall.

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So, Desmond Tutu has been named the patron of National Braai Day in South Africa. A couple of thoughts occur to me. First off, I don’t think we even have a state barbecue day here in Texas and South Africa has a national day? That ain’t right. My elected representatives have wasted enough time and money on other frivolous bullshit. We should have a barbecue day. Second, and I don’t think I mentioned this last time I covered South African braais, boerewors look way too much like an intestine for me to be entirely comfortable with them. However, it probably wouldn’t slow me down too much.

In other barbecue news, over the holiday weekend, I tried smoking some corn while waiting for the ribs to finish. Take corn on the cob, peel the husks off, rub down with butter, salt, and pepper. Place in the smoker and turn about every 8-10 minutes so you get all sides of the corn nice and done. Total time was about 35-40 minutes. The corn came out pretty damn tasty. A nice hint of smoke and good sweetness from the fire, plus it was cooked through but not mushy. They looked like complete crap, because my drip pan ran out of water and started a spectacular grease fire. By the time I got that under control, some of the corn was a little black on the outside. I put the corn under the ribs, so some of the rib fat dripped down on the corn as well. A little bit of pork fat never hurts, right? Some things are quite simple to prepare and this appears to be one of them.

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