Thursday, April 24, 2008

Book notes

I've been reading a bunch of books by Tony Hillerman. They are murder mysteries set in the Reservations of New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado. The early books star a Navaho police detective named Joe Leaphorn. Later on a new character is introduced who becomes his crime-solving associate (another Navaho policeman named Jim Chee). These books are great reading. I like them both for being good murder mysteries as well as the setting in what's left of the American West.

But there's one problem. Hillerman must have done just about zero research on firearms. He seems to make at least one bad gun gaff per book. So, I recommend these books for anyone who likes murder mysteries. But be prepared to cringe and shake your head sadly at least once in every book. I might post more details about this when I have more time. Right now it will suffice to say that revolvers don't eject empties and not every gun in the world is a .38.


The bulldozer guy showed up late yesterday and started knocking down trees. My wife said he had trouble taking down the big hickory. I hate having to knock down that tree. I'll have to dig out the chainsaw and start cutting it up for barbecue wood. Probably need to buy a new chain for it. Or sharpen the old one. Or both.

Tomorrow I'm off work for Fiesta Friday. Might barbecue. Right now I thought I'd try to catch on up a blog or two.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Checking in...

I managed to get a little 0nline time today to check email and moderate comments. The old house was pulled out yesterday. Everything is going according to plan, but all of us crammed into my dad's house has it kind of crowded. No satellite TV here, either, so I've been burning time reading the Jim Chee/Joe Leaphorn murder mysteries that my dad has been collecting, authored by Tony Hillerman. Pretty good reading, but I'm feeling starved for online time. Might see if I can find a wifi hotspot to stop by when I finish work early. The dialup connection here is only 26.4. I'm used to connecting at 46 at my house. Makes a huge difference.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The latest word...

We are moving out by Friday. We expect to be out by Thursday night, actually. So the blog is on hiatus until we get moved into the new house. I expect to be gone for at least one month, perhaps longer.

I'm going to sticky this one for Thursday noon in case I make another post or two before then.

Have fun, everyone.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Your friendly neighborhood meth lab

Local news via Wilson County News:
Two men are in custody after police shut down a suspected methamphetamine manufacturing operation in a mobile home on Maldonado Lane southeast of here April 12.

Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. said Wayne Buckley, 36, and Brandon Wade Pierdolla, 24, were arrested and charged with manufacturing a controlled substance. Emergency dispatchers received a call at approximately 8:34 a.m. about suspicious activity. Cpl. Roland Treviño and Deputy Gary Laughlin responded to the home a short time later.

“Deputies did a ‘knock and talk,’ and the people inside allowed them into the mobile home,” Tackitt said. “Inside, they had a lot of ingredients consistent with methamphetamine production. They were not cooking any at the time, but they said they had been cooking the day before.”

According to Tackitt, Buckley was on probation after a conviction on an identical charge in 2007. In addition to the recent manufacturing charge, Buckley was also charged with the theft of a 250-foot roll of steel cable from a neighbor’s house. His total bond is set at $24,000.

Pierdolla, who was also charged with resisting arrest for attempting to flee, is being held on a total bond of $6,000.
"Sure, come on in, Deputy. No, no, we aren't cooking now, but we whipped up a batch yesterday!"


Just finished breaking down the aquarium. I'm glad I never bought a 50-gallon like I always wanted. That would have been way too much work. This one is just a 25-tall that I got for free. Fortunately, I bought a small 5-gallon tank a long time ago that should hold the few remaining fish for now. One 3-inch algae eater, 3 neon tetras and a single and apparently immortal ghost shrimp. That sucker must be at least 18 months old by now. I don't know how it has lived this long. The last of a dozen that I put in that tank when I cleaned it up and started over again many moons ago.

Anyway, with a bio-wheel going they should be okay until I can get the big tank set up again. I contemplated just flushing them all and calling it quits, but the kids weren't too fond of that idea.

And I still have time for a pipe and a glass or two of iced tea before the kids get home.

Tomorrow is going to be a major drag. Everyone has to stay at the office after finishing our routes to attend a sexual harassment seminar. This is going to be a complete waste of time for me. Maybe at least the lady teaching it will...(fill in your own ironic punchline here).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Roman Druids

Current Archaeology has an article with pictures of the recent excavation at Stonehenge, and reports a surprising find:
However the most surprising discoveries so far have been Roman. In a small pit containing a small bluestone in the corner of the trench, itself cut into the main socket of one of the uprights, they found a Roman coin. Even more alarming, was the excavation of the large pit in the centre of the excavation, where right near the bottom they found a very small piece of what was indubitably Roman pottery. Was there a major reordering of the site in the Roman period? As Geoffrey Wainwright said, their small trench looked like an urban excavation, there were so many intercutting pits.

The Monty Hall problem

One more item for the "we don't know everything we think we do" files.
Here’s how Monty’s deal works, in the math problem, anyway. (On the real show it was a bit messier.) He shows you three closed doors, with a car behind one and a goat behind each of the others. If you open the one with the car, you win it. You start by picking a door, but before it’s opened Monty will always open another door to reveal a goat. Then he’ll let you open either remaining door.

Suppose you start by picking Door 1, and Monty opens Door 3 to reveal a goat. Now what should you do? Stick with Door 1 or switch to Door 2?


This answer goes against our intuition that, with two unopened doors left, the odds are 50-50 that the car is behind one of them. But when you stick with Door 1, you’ll win only if your original choice was correct, which happens only 1 in 3 times on average. If you switch, you’ll win whenever your original choice was wrong, which happens 2 out of 3 times.
What does this have to do with anything? It points out a serious flaw in a 1956 experiment on cognitive dissonance.

I am always interested in these bits of information that show we don't know as much as we think we do.

I'm still waiting for someone to invent alcohol-free Everclear

Hangover-free wine?:
Kebble's company, Surepure, uses technology to purify liquids, including red and white wines, by reducing their sulphur content.

This is reportedly a worldwide first in the wine industry.

"We produce a machine that makes it possible for the winemaker not to add sulphur to the wine," he said.

Sulphur is added to "preserve" the wine by disabling potentially harmful microbes.

It is also responsible, among other things, for the headaches and other side effects associated with wine.
Okay, so how do they explain headaches and other side effects from hangovers due to drinking other alcoholic beverages? I was under the impression that hangover was due to dehydration caused by the alcohol.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Well, that's a bummer

Cowboy Blob tagged me for a coffee mug meme (inspired by this post at Tam's blog). Unfortunately, this is bad timing because all but two of my mugs have been packed away for the impending house change. So I was thinking I could at least use my phone to take a picture of them, but I can't even do that, because I packed up all my USB cables when I put away everything computer-related except for my laptop itself.

The two mugs still out are a regular mug my grandfather-in-law gave me. It has pictures of an eagle and the U.S. flag on it with the words, "FREEDOM IS NOT FREE." He got it through an organization called American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial.

The other mug out right now is a 20-ounce stainless steel travel mug that I bought at the Werner headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska, during my brief stint as a truck driver. I use it every day for my morning coffee on the drive in to work.

I do have quite a few other mugs, and in fact, my wife likes to collect mugs and hang them from display racks in the kitchen and dining room. One of my favorites was purchased for me by my father when he visited Roswell, New Mexico. It has a picture of an alien wearing a cowboy hat and the words, "You don't scare me...I'm from Texas."

Maybe when the move is over and things get unpacked I can post a picture, but for now this is the best that I can do.

Oh yeah, I'm supposed to tag some other bloggers, but I don't like to tag, so if you want to join in, have at it.

Pictures of Matchstick Minas Tirith

At Minas Tirith Matchstick Model. Built by matchstick artist Patrick Acton of Iowa.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


I switched to a third-party free pop email service that I've had as a backup for a long time but never used much. It's actually a better and more sophisticated service than the one that came with my internet service.

So I think I've managed a workaround for all the email being flagged as spam. Still waiting to hear from the ISP's tech support about my complaint. But I think if a comment is left I will get a notification now.

Happy birthday, Thomas Jefferson

Just in time for Jefferson's birthday, the Thomas Jefferson Center has published their 2008 Muzzle Awards.

Read, and "enjoy."

Good grief

I just discovered that my ISP has been trapping almost all of my legitimate email as spam. So I'm now going through it and trying to figure out how to fix it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I once caught a fish thiiiiiis big...

From John Lott:
Not surprisingly, 71% of those surveyed believe that politicians "embellish the truth" when discussing their past exploits. A mere 10% think politicians are routinely truthful. Mr. Rasmussen found the most skeptical subgroup to be men under the age of 40 -- 83% thought politicians exaggerated. By contrast, women under the age of 40 were most prone to accepting the statements of candidates at face value -- only 64% were suspicious of their claims. . . .
Most politicians are men, right? To me this poll simply shows that men understand men better than women understand men.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Recently, on IRC...

Me: This is my third pipe today.

Other guy: Three out of how many?

Me: 20 or so in my main rotation, another dozen or so total.

OG: Why do you have more pipes than you smoke?

I ask you, readers, does that last question sound familiar?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Zombie Killing Music

Seen this everywhere. My take:

Load up everything by Skinny Puppy. Keep playing it until all the zombies are dead.

Once they're all dead, follow up with Husker Du's "New Day Rising."

The Olympic torch relay has doomed us all

ABC News: Olympic Torch Inflicts Environmental Toll:
So when the torch isn't being marched through city streets and/or extinguished by protesters, how is it getting around? You guessed it, by plane -- an Air China A330 custom painted with the Olympic logo and color scheme. The A330 burns 5.4 gallons of fuel per mile. That translates into 462,400 gallons for the entire trip. With Earthlab estimating that every gallon of jet fuel burned produces 23.88 pounds of CO2, the Olympic Torch Relay is adding about 11 million pounds of carbon to the atmosphere. That's 5,500 tons.

"That's not the torch"

This is how to run a protest.
Then someone whispered in the mayor’s ear, “That’s not the torch.” Suddenly the mayor realized what he was holding. Held proudly in his hand was not the majestic Olympic flame. Instead he was gripping a wooden chair leg topped by a plum pudding can inside of which a pair of kerosene-soaked underwear was burning with a greasy flame. The mayor looked around for the runner, but the man had already disappeared, melting away into the surrounding crowd.
Read all about it at Museum of Hoaxes' Olympic Underwear Relay.


One of the things I'm looking forward to when this move is over is getting my own little Sanctum Sanctorum where I can set up my radio station again.

My only multi-band HF rig* at this time is an old Kenwood TS-140S. It has a problem, but it's been so long I don't remember exactly what the problem is. I do know that it needs repair before it's air-worthy again, and I will have it repaired, then probably keep as a backup or maybe sell it. I want to get a new rig that has some features that the old Kenwood doesn't.

No BAG Day at the Blogonomicon household this year, because I'm hoping to have enough money saved up for a new radio or two. My wife renewed her ticket* recently, which kicked the mailing lists into active mode again and she received an AES catalog just in time for me to start salivating over new rigs. Right now the Yaesu FT-450 is looking really nice. All the HF bands plus 6 meters, which is cool because it would finally put me on 6 meters. Never been there before. Has a manual notch filter plus DSP passband filters, which is a big step up from the old Kenwood. Has a dedicated data jack so I won't have to plug my TNC into the microphone jack. Also has a built-in electronic keyer but I probably won't use that much. When I do go CW, I prefer a straight key, although I'll need to get my fist* back in shape. All for only $650. Not bad.

We're all set up for 2m/70cm FM mobile rigs, I won't need to look at those, but I would like to get a new HT* for myself to carry while I'm working. It doesn't necessarily need to be submersible, but at least rain-proof, and it also needs to be able to receive FM broadcast. Dual-band on 2m/70cm is a must for an HT, and the smaller the better. Still looking at those.

UPDATE: Looks like the Yaesu VX6R is the best price for my specs at $250. Actually a tri-bander with 220MHz capability. I don't really have any use for 220, but then again, I've never had a radio that did 220 before.

P.S. I also have one of the old Radio Shack 10-meter rigs. Not the newer one they sold in the 90s, but the much older model from the 80s. Still works like a champ. Sometimes I use it on it's own antenna (most recently, just a homebrewed dipole) to monitor 10 meters for band openings while I'm doing something else on the lower bands. Sometimes I take it mobile. My mobile antenna is a Carolina bugcatcher that does 40-10 meters, and I have a 75-meter Hamstick. I've used the Kenwood mobile a few times, also, but it's kind of big for that. I also have a 20-meter Hamstick that's still in the box--never got a chance to use it because the Kenwood went funky on me. For 10-meter mobile I've also used a CB mag-mount that I retuned by cutting off bits of the whip until it came into tune at 28.500MHz. Worked very well.

CQ -- a general call to all hams
rig -- radio
ticket -- amateur radio license
fist -- a ham's method or style of sending Morse Code
HT -- handheld radio (handie-talkie)

They have a history?

Here's all the history you need to know: they suck.

The Lorcin is not an affordable means of self defense. It is an affordable way to get yourself killed because you will be betting your life on something that does not work.

So no matter how cheap you find one in a pawn shop, do not purchase it. Unless you have a thing for extremely ugly doorstops.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Oddee, which is updated even less frequently than yours truly but which is always worth linking to, has posted a collection of 10 Incredible Old Magazine Covers like the one above, from 1949, featuring a radio helmet that used only two tubes!

Follow the link for a 1942 Cosmopolitan cover featuring Gerald Ford back when he was working as a model, and some other notable bits of history.

What's that old proverb?

Once is an accident, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action...five times is an alien attack:
A Bosnian man whose home has been hit an incredible five times by meteorites believes he is being targeted by aliens.

Experts at Belgrade University have confirmed that all the rocks Radivoje Lajic has handed over were meteorites.

They are now investigating local magnetic fields to try and work out what makes the property so attractive to the heavenly bodies.

But Mr Lajic, who has had a steel girder reinforced roof put on the house he owns in the northern village of Gornja Lamovite, has an alternative explanation.

He said: "I am obviously being targeted by extraterrestrials. I don't know what I have done to annoy them but there is no other explanation that makes sense. The chance of being hit by a meteorite is so small that getting hit five times has to be deliberate."
A wacky explanation, to be sure, but if my home had been hit by 5 meteorites in the last six months I'd probably be getting a little squirrely, too.

A lesson on the 17th Amendment

Tam has written it. Go read it at Decline of the Republic Day.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Offered without comment

I bet her name was Joo-Dee

Jon Downes comments on the media with It was easy, it was cheap, go and do it...
Two minutes later he phoned back. "Everybody wants to be on television" he insisted in an increasingly hysterical voice. "Don't be so bloody stupid" I said, and turned my telephone off.

Two hours later, the crew who had driven like madmen from Manchester turned up completely uninvited, and once again insisted on viewing our health and safety procedures. Half an hour later an enormous truck festooned with satellite dishes turned up, and then a sports car containing a blonde bimbette who was planning to make amusing comments about our activities for the studio audience.

"But I don't want to do an interview" I said. "Before we start, can I see your health and safety procedures", she said. "I am not interested in appearing on your programme" I said. "But everyone wants to be on television", she said with what she fondly imagined was a winning smile. I will draw a discreet veil over what happened next. But like Rottweilers on an inner-city housing estate, they got most of what they wanted. With the worst possible grace I gave them an interview.
I'm sure many who read this blog with how the MSM handles the topic of firearms, but as I've said before: It isn't just guns. Journalists, especially television journalists, are becoming increasingly stupid and useless.

Downes is the director of The Centre for Fortean Zoology, a webcaster and film-maker.

I might explain the title later, if I feel like it.

Hi guys!

Monday, April 07, 2008

DYI Enigma

Downloadable plans for building your own Paper Enigma Machine.

Three shall be number of the count, and the number of the count shall be three...

Now I'm in trouble

Click to enlarge, of course.

Looks like Disney caught me using what is probably a copyrighted phrase from one of their old movies (Blackbeard's Ghost, fyi), followed by a direct visit from U.S. Army Information Systems Command.

ALSO: Ye gads.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

New Carnival!

I'm a little late on this since I've been busy with other things, but The Line Is Here has started a Carnival of the Libertarians. Check it out.

Who's missing?

The Observer writes a mostly fawning article on someone's opinion of The world's 50 most powerful blogs. Skip the boot-licking details of the first couple of items and just scroll down the list.

Someone who should obviously be in this list isn't. Someone at the Observer is a clueless git.

UPDATE: From comments, I think El Capitan knows who's missing.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Every 11 years

From Wired:
Every 11 years or so, the sun gets a little pissy. It breaks out in a rash of planet-sized sunspots that spew superhot gas, hurling clouds of electrons, protons, and heavier ions toward Earth at nearly the speed of light. These solar windstorms have been known to knock out power grids and TV broadcasts, and our growing reliance on space-based technology makes us more vulnerable than ever to their effects. On January 3, scientists discovered a reverse-polarity sunspot, signaling the start of a new cycle — and some are predicting that at its peak (in about four years) things are gonna get nasty.
See you on 10 meters.

7 1/2 Rules for Making Scary Aliens

At Horrorhead. But they forgot the most important one: Don't be too explicit. Let it be unknown enough that human imagination has to fill in the blanks. Nothing is scarier than that.

Another update

I thought I would be gone by this time, but things are a little more delayed than they thought. The deal is expected to close sometime next week.

We took the kids to the house place so they could check out the model home and see what it's going to look like. As I expected, they loved it and are very excited. I just want it all over with so things can get back to normal and we can quit living out of boxes.

Foolproof biometrics

Proof against fools, perhaps, but not against someone with a few smarts.

Members of the Chaos Computer Club of Germany managed to acquire the fingerprint of German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schauble and published it in their club magazine The Datenschleuder.

Their point? That biometric data is not a safe means of identification because it can be easily stolen when used in public applications such as Germany's E-Pass.

They point out that it would be easy to steal fingerprints by simply, oh, say following someone around in a supermarket and snatching things that person has touched and then put back on the shelf, particularly items in glass packaging.

That's the gist of it. The linked article is a Google translation so it's a little rough. The original article in German can be found here.

via EFF

Friday, April 04, 2008

Maybe global warming will put a stop to this senseless loss of life

I don't know why, but one thing that always interests me is falling things. Things that fall, sometimes with an explanation, sometimes not, but things that somehow affect people. Here is a tragic one:

Falling icicles kill six
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Six people have been killed in three days by icicles falling from buildings in a central Russian region, ITAR-TASS news agency reported Tuesday.

Plummeting chunks of ice is an annual hazard for pedestrians in Russia during the spring when the sun finally melts thick layers of ice and snow which build up on roofs over months of freezing temperatures and darkness.

Medical authorities in the region of Samara told ITAR-TASS that five people died in the city of Samara and another person died in the nearby town of Otradny between February 23 and February 25.
It seems that if this is an "annual hazard" people would have learned to avoid large chunks of overhanging ice by now. Still, "impaled by an icicle" would be an unusual way to die. Unless you live in Russia, I suppose.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Important scientific research

From the No **** Sherlock Files at ESRC:
"From children's perspectives," the researchers explain, "the babyish feel of hospital décor is something that child patients between seven and 16 tolerated, rather than appreciated." Interestingly, all children disliked the use of clowns in the décor, with even the oldest children seeing them as scary. "Given that children and young people do not find hospitals frightening per se - and only express fear about those spaces associated with needles and associated procedures ­ this finding is somewhat ironic," Dr Curtis points out.
Well, duh. Some of us know true evil when we see it.

Aim for the nose. It's the only way to kill them.

Gratuitous Gunime

I haven't done much gun stuff lately, so here's some GitS wallpaper for you. Click for the big one.


I thought I would get an email notice when I had a comment in moderation. Apparently, I don't. So I just checked and noticed 10 comments needed to be approved. Did it. So, sorry for the delay.

Someone tell Frank Marino

Decomposing composers:
Ghost investigators who rid the borough of unwanted guests are inviting the public to an in-depth speech on music and the paranormal next week.

Musician Dr Melvyn Willin will offer his latest research into para-musicological phenomena including telepathy, musical healing, the use of music in witchcraft and investigations of people who claim to have received music from dead composers.
Beethoven's gone but his music lives on,
And Mozart don't go shoppin' no more,
You'll never meet Liszt or Brahms again,
And Elgar doesn't answer the door.
Schübert and Chopin used to chuckle and laugh,
Whilst composing a long symphony,
But one hundred and fifty years later,
There's very little of them left to see.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Or a 12-gauge

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has said it backs the plan by Queensland state lawmaker Shane Knuth to launch "Toad Day Out," but only if the creatures are killed in a humane way, such as euthanizing them in a freezer.

"Obviously we're not idiots. We understand a lot people will be highly reluctant to fill their fridges and freezers with dying cane toads, but at the moment that is the only humane way that we can recommend," said Michael Beatty, the society's spokesman.

So let me get this straight. People are first supposed to catch these disgusting things. With their bare hands. And then stick them in the freezer--the same freezer where they need to keep food.

The RSPCA is collective insane. Stark, staring, ravingly insane.

I bet if you hit one those suckers with a 230-grain hollowpoint it would pop like a rancid canteloupe.

via Armed Canadian

Skewing the results

This post has been deleted because the link may have been to a Trojan. It was stupid, anyway.