Saturday, July 22, 2017

There's no Terminex for Trolls

I thought in coming over here to post they'd go away.

Apparently not. They've followed me over here.

Today, my latest book, a winner of a major literary award and a best seller here and in the UK got an Amazon one-star review by someone that obviously didn't read it as they talked about using "too much data", to the point they couldn't read it. (to which a retired school teacher called them on that in the comments which was funny).  It's a lyrical, poetic female coming of age story. Data?

The only other review they posted, within 60 seconds of posting MY one-star review and the only books they have ever reviewed was a book written by a friend, also a gun blogger and conservative Christian. They also said that book was written so that they couldn't even read it without providing any real details as to why.

So Virginia - Can we say troll?

But in the weeks prior to it being up for another big award, this seriously dumped its numbers.

I'm open to honest critique and what I got my first two books was valuable.  But this was just a personal attack. I think I'm going to go hide in my cave for a few weeks. For those of you who have read and liked it enough to review, thank you.

Flags and automobiles

There's not just an etiquette involved, there are laws about what you can and can't do.  I hadn't known this, and it seems that the VFW doesn't either.

Now, I'm not arguing that the VFW should get cited, but c'mon.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Summer of the Blade

We returned to the dojo from the annual summer camp in June. All the buildup and preparation for testing is over for a while. It’s vacation time and even the regulars are taking weeks off to travel. Classes are small and often consist of an instructor and two or three yudansha.

Shihan has capitalized on this opportunity. It can start with a non-traditional attack, sometimes a series of yokomen-uchi , shomen-uchi, and mune-tsuki attacks that can only be greeted with parries and blending movements.

Start with empty hand. Hook punches, straight punches, kicks. Get the pattern of attacks and responses you will be working with engrained in nage and uke.

Move to the bokken. Perhaps now it is yokomen-uchis and thrusts.

And then onto the knife. Multiple attacks with a training blade, trying to study not just what the attacker’s next move is, but the move after that, seeking a disarm and an Aikido technique at the finish.

Even the training blade changes the energy of a class. Nage’s focus is the blade. Uke’s focus is the blade. The world outside is forgotten. The universe shrinks down to you and your partner. Over and over, taking turns, it is the blade.

There is no air conditioning. The fans blur any noise from outside.

Shihan watches, stops the practice, makes corrections, demonstrates again, and you resume.

“Parry it this way.”
“Here’s that disarm, lay the flat of the blade on your forearm and strip it.”
“Turn and open your hips, take their balance and control the weapon, then throw.”

It is the summer of the blade.

Terry "Harmonica" Bean - Catfish Blues


Proof that professional environmentalists don't care about the environment

Lead shot kills a handful of eagles each year and so it must be banned.  Windmills kill hundreds a year but must be subsidized:
When worked at Interior, a quarter century ago, I was told that bird deaths due to wind farms were massive, but orders were to do and say nothing, because wind power was fashionable.
General Electric and T. Boone Pickens make money off of windmills, and donate generously to political campaigns.  Eagles do neither.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Fireman's Carnival

The village nestled in the shadow of Castle Borepatch has a volunteer fire department. This week is the annual fund raiser carnival. Infield rides, bingo, and carnival food. It has a delightful small town feel to it.

The band was way better than you'd expect - not one but TWO quite credible guitarists.

Last year I won a big stuffed thing for the Queen Of The World at the shooting gallery. Alas, no infield for us as she's hobbling around on crutches.

But it sure is fun to come out to the local carnival. Fireworks is next.

I'd drink that


Seriously, I'd totally drink that.

The slow death of the carrier Air Wing

An Aircraft Carrier is a delivery platform, it's Air Wing is what it delivers.  The last 25 years has seen a big reduction in the capabilities of the Air Wing:
Carrier aircraft during this time were capable of very long-range missions even when relying only on the fuel they carried. The A-6E could fly 1,000 nautical miles from the carrier without being refueled while carrying up to 18,000 pounds of ordnance, and the F-14 could loiter on a combat air patrol almost 800 miles from the carrier. The S-3 could operate for nearly six hours before needing fuel, as it patrolled the waters surrounding the carrier battle group, identifying surface contacts and searching for submarines.


For the carrier air wing the Hornet was an opportunity to replace the aging A-7 with a more modern, less maintenance intensive aircraft. However, the more modern Hornet would prove during testing that it could not match up with the 608 nautical mile combat range of the A-7, being able to only fly 370 nautical miles with the same weapons load before having to turn back to return to the carrier.

Navy test pilots recognized the Hornet’s short range for what it was: a significant decrease in the ability of the air wing to conduct long-range missions while keeping the carrier far enough away from potential threats.
This is a pretty in-depth article that discusses what happens when shorter range, lack of air tanker capability, and longer range (1000 mile) anti-ship weaponry collide.  Given that a complete carrier Battle Group costs around $20B, this is a big problem.

The Queen Of The World would have gotten around more

But she took an arrow to the knee* had knee surgery and is on crutches for the next few weeks.  Blogging will continue to be off an on.

* For those of you who aren't hip to what the youngsters are up to, the reference is to this.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ten Years of blogging

Not me, but T-Bolt has taken his blog around the sun ten times.  Go leave him some commenty congratulations.

Quote of the Day, Progressives and Trump edition

Great question:
Have the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States and Trump’s first few months in office altered your priors about concentrating power in the federal government?  Do you believe that the only, or the only sensible, response to Trump’s ascendancy is to work harder to ensure that the like of Trump is never again elected to high political office – that is, to work harder to ensure that power is forevermore in the hands only of ‘good’ people?  Or are you now more open to proposals to reduce the reach and the power of at least the national government?  If not the latter, why not?

Narcotics legalization: Comparisons to Gun Control

This is food for thought.  The USA (where there is a War On Drugs under way) has 30 times the overdose death rates per capita as Portugal (which legalized or decriminalized essentially all drugs 15 years ago):

But in Portugal, the numbers paint a different story. The prevalence of past-year and past-month drug use among young adults has fallen since 2001, according to statistics compiled by the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, which advocates on behalf of ending the war on drugs. Overall adult use is down slightly too. And new HIV cases among drug users are way down.
Now, numbers just released from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction paint an even more vivid picture of life under decriminalization: drug overdose deaths in Portugal are the second-lowest in the European Union.
This data are stark.  We have a policy in this Republic that has clearly and utterly failed - the data do not lie.  We have powerful incentives for Government to try ever more controls (the Attorney General's idiotic plan to ramp up civil asset forfeiture is offered as Exhibit A only due to the fact that it is the most recent example).  The people advocating for more control have no new ideas that can plausibly work, and so fall back on "do it again, only harder!"

The comparison to gun control is more than a little uncomfortable: target something that people don't like (drug use/gun possession), make a bunch of ineffective laws that empower the State at the expense of the people without "solving" the "problem", repeat the stupidity for 30 or 40 years.

When you consider the vast amount of money flowing to drug gangs, when you consider Attorney General Sessions - the highest Law Enforcement official in the land, for crying out loud - advocating seizing citizens' property without charge or trial or conviction, when you consider the body count from gang turf battles over drug sales, and when you consider the lack of any sort of effective detox programs (like Portugal seems to run), we're left with the conclusion that the War On Drugs is simply evil.  I don't see how any other word fits.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Time Travel

From one point of view I am scanning old slides.

The reality is that I am time traveling. The pictures take me there. Sometimes I can remember the day, the events surrounding the moment I took the shot, with some others, I see the picture and had no memory of it until that moment, but it comes flooding back. So image by image, I go back to my 20s and 30s, back to the Corps, to the births of the children, to the events that seemed important enough to get a camera and record it, holidays, beach trips and so on.

The ones that seem to really catch me are the pictures taken on ordinary days. Something is there that takes me back vividly to who we were and what our life was.

We didn't have any money at the end of the month but we were in love and full of hope and had a trust in the universe that things would work out.

The Gales of Remember - A Brigid Guest Post

October 17, 2015.

There was a lot of stuff at the crash pad packed away in boxes from when I sold the big sprawling home that was Range #1 as well as things I'd shipped back from Dad's after my brother passed away. I finally had a chance to go through it as it found a new home in the Bungalow with my new husband where space is limited and only things most precious are on display.

There was a storm brewing that night, the wind fierce off of the Great Lake, stirring things in the trees, stirring things in me.

In the bottom of one trunk, I found something among things gleaned from my brother's belongings that I had not had much time to go though. And it brought me to tears - because of this photo which is always on display.  Look carefully to the left and right of my brother to the two little creatures, dressed for the winter.
My Mom was 1/2 Swede and 1/2 Norwegian, so although I think they are actually Danish in origin, we always had trolls around.  In the picture, we're playing out in the snow, and Mom had actually made little coats for the trolls to protect their felt clothing.

How little we knew that one day that well-worn photo would be held by a magnet on an ancient refrigerator, there as the snow fell down like the gift of grace on the frozen ground, there in the days of honor and play, before we knew anything of selfishness, greed and the uncaring faces of forgetful men.
There were just our toys of childhood, the toy soldiers, our trains, our collection of matchbook cars and hot wheels.  And the trolls.

We played with them in quiet solitude, not because we thought others would make fun of us for "playing with dolls" but because they were an outlet for imagination.  They weren't "dolls" - they were Vikings, bigger than all of our other toys, even G.I. Joe standing down in their presence.  Their hair was tangled with the imagined salt of the sea, their countenance a grin in the face of any adversity. They were born, not of a woman or the earth, but by magic and myth. Others might not have understood, so they were our solitude, that was also our saving as Mom grew sicker and the waters grew colder.
I wondered what had happened to them, more than once. They were our companions on bike rides deep into the trails that formed as more subdivisions were built, they were the silent watch on deck as we drifted off to sleep at night, the moon outside bending low into our window as if to look onto our face as we dream of fast ships and high seas.

My brother and I were perhaps unusual compared to many siblings as he was genuinely my best friend, and not just my older brother. We'd play in the yard, in the woods, and even better, at the coast where we had a small cabin, running out by the waves until the sun sank round and blazing into the crest of waves as if they eroded that luminous circle with their power, until only darkness and the sound of the ocean remained. When we weren't playing together we were playing with Craig - his best friend for life, who lived next door to us, a brother not in blood, but in spirit.

He and I  rarely squabbled.  He held me on those rare occasions I cried and he protected me from any neighborhood bully, who knew better to invoke the wrath of a tall redhead who would grow up to be a giant of a man, a gentle giant who handled those things he loved as if made of glass.
We played hard and well, even if in adulthood it was sometimes just a game of pool and a beer, laughing as much as we did as children, throwing fates to the wind and taking no prisoners, even if we had a designated driver. On, or in, my dresser is the matchbox cars, rocks. shells, and other things of childhood.

But I  had forgotten what became of those two trolls, there in that photo.   Not long after those days, as we left childhood, I never saw them again.  Like many things of childhood, they just disappeared. The earth takes some - toy soldiers buried in the yard with full honors.  Others are simply cast off as young adults, not yet realizing how precious those little things are until we reach an age where the earth calls its account for all things we hold dear, taking them away before we are ready.
I lift them out of the box, plucking a strand of dust from the hair of the female troll, blinking in the hazy light.  With them is a smaller troll - one my brother gave me when he went off to sea as a submariner. They rest on a piece of wood cut more than a hundred years ago, the same shade of that gate that Dad built some 60 years ago, in the house that my brother and I grew up in.

They were not Vikings or adventurers, they were simply toys from which our adventures sprung forth, daring days of glory in the heat and the cold.  But rather than be tossed out with the rest of the toys, my brother had carefully put them away for me to find someday among his things that were left to me on his passage.

As I gathered the box to place them back into safekeeping, I blink in the diffused light, as shadows ebb and flow outside the window.  I look out to the East, to the lake and in my mind's eye see a shadowed vessel manned by a redheaded shade, there beyond the horizon, who sends me a wave of greeting as he disappears into a soundless gale.
Someday I will join him, when the splash of the ocean bites into the Sun, when the end of all things earthly comes without furor or whisper, that moment we release ourself to the water and our hearts cease to beat as if an engine stilled.  In that moment, in that perfect moment of immobility, there will be a new adventure awaiting in glory.

But not for now, now is for living and remembering.

The trolls almost seemed to stir there in the play of light, as if remembering all of those days of joy and freedom.  So many memories there - the laughter of a young girl, and the brave shout of a boy, running his plastic warrior up to the top of the hill, where we are stronger than the oceans, Vikings rule, and imagination never dies.

I  carefully put them away, as I raise my hand into the gales of the east and wave goodbye.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Explaining the security in the "Internet of Things"

But hey, there's a gate, amirite?

The Scanner

A couple of comments asked what I was using to scan my pictures and slides. A good question because it is a fairly new purchase and I am very happy with it.

It's a Epson V600. Cost about $200.00 online. This is the first scanner I've owned that managed slides in any usable way. This is doing a much better job than my previous scanner and here's an example. The top image is a scan I did in 2009, the bottom image is one I did this weekend. It is the same slide. Even on the older one, the full image doesn't look that bad, but when I zoomed in, you can see the posterization and muddiness in the older image.

It does an equally nice job on prints and significantly faster because I am scanning the prints at 600 dpi. They require a bit more attention because there is no set size or tray to put them in like the slides.

One of the things I like about it is the software package. Used in the pro mode, it provides a great deal of flexibility. It comes with a backlight in the lid and a tray for slides and negatives. I am scanning the slides at 3200 dpi and having them saved automatically in a temp folder. This lets me do other things and then every five minutes or so I can put in 4 more and hit the button.

I could not justify a dedicated slide scanner for this size project. If I had 20,000 slides or more, I might have spent the money for a auto feeding slide scanner that I could have put 50 slides at a time in and walked away.

And just in case, here's a disclaimer. I bought the scanner. Paid on-line retail price. Epson doesn't know me, doesn't care about me, and has not compensated me in any way for saying nice things about their product.

What do you get when it's the "Hottest Year Ever"?

Skiing in the middle of summer:
Summer Shredding
With over 600″ of snowfall this winter the 2016/2017 ski season is still going strong and we’ll be skiing and riding into August.
That's some righteous Global Warming, right there.  Skiing until August in California.

So: when it's hot, that's a sign of Global Warming.  When there are record snowfalls, what is that a sign of?  And if there's no possibility of an incorrect prediction, can we even call it "science"?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

One Carousel

Looking down on my desk right now. The scanner does 4 at a time, with the setting I am doing it takes about 5 minutes.


So what do you do with a couple of thousand slides? Thousands of prints? It's tempting to decide that no one will ever look at them and have a bonfire.

It absolutely true that in 2017 no one is going to drag out an old manual Sawyer projector and spend hours looking at slides. But maybe, someday, if I only keep the good ones, the kids would look at the digital images. Maybe.

So I realized something a couple of weeks ago. I took them as a hobby. I can scan and organize them as a hobby. I'm no longer doing for anyone but myself. This is the last time I will handle these slides. Scanned or rejected, all of them will be tossed when I finish. It is a trip down memory lane to a life I lived.

There's everything, my pictures from Japan and the Philippines, births, birthdays, beach trips, playing in the yard. I'm about 500 slides in, maybe 1500 to go. Then I will finish the prints and make a digital archive for the family.

And yes, it's backed up. More than once. Off-site. I would never do this twice.

Here's a few I scanned this week. The first two are only edited to remove dust and age issues.The last one I edited in Gimp to force it into a silhouette.