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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Uncle Hyena's LiveJournal:

[ << Previous 20 ]
Friday, September 23rd, 2016
9:42 pm
Frankenstein, Place, Dog, Michigan, Violin, Chainsaw, Crossroads, Sloop,
September 4 (Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge, from 2015):
Continuing the recent venting about the intellectual bankruptcy of literary academia, and the difference between "literary" and "popular" fiction, we have the following.

Hyena: Name a novel that was actually written during the Regency.

Dementia (who has a degree in literature): The Regency wasn't very long...

Hyena: I guarantee you know one. In fact, pretty much everyone in America knows one.

Dementia: <>

Hyena: It was written by a woman...

Dementia: <> Oh. That.

Yeah, that. 197 years later, never out of print, known by pretty much everyone. The literati occasionally try to claim it, but it has always been popular fiction, and it always will be, probably until civilization collapses if the last two centuries are any indication. Not that there isn't plenty in the book for the literati to play with, but that isn't what has kept it in print. Not too shabby for a ghost story written by the least talented writer at the party...

September 7 (Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge, from 2015):
(Inspired by a story about a Benedictine monk whose tendency to hide out on top of a wind turbine he maintained was discovered by a photo drone.)
Once I had a secret place
Where I could go to be alone;
Then some jerk got in my face
With a stupid flying drone.

Now it's posted on the internet,
As far from secret as a place can get.

But still, with all the drones around
My place is fifteen stories off the ground.

September 12 (Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge, from 2015):
I haven't seen the dog today;
I haven't heard him howl;
But I know he's not too far away,
'Cause I sure can hear him growl.

September 14:
Did a brief foray through Waukegan Harbor, and just sort of tagged Lake Michigan proper. There was a 600 foot long ore carrier (M/V Sam Laurer our of Wilmington, DE) leaving the Gypsum dock, so I skirted the Yacht Club and THEN rowed out the channel, past the breakwater, and decided that today was not a good day to die. BIG lake, SMALL boat. Still, I did it.

September 15:
I found myself alone with a mothballed, mine for the taking violin. I had never attempted to play any bowed or fretless instrument before. I tuned it to itself, plucked out some tolerable scales, and managed to bow one clear note on each string, in spite of more than half of the strands on the bow being broken. Watch this space.

September 18 (Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge, from 2013):
Back in September of 2002, I got stupid with a chainsaw, and tore up my right thumb. It healed nicely, but I still have the scars. Yesterday, for no apparent reason, the old injury started to throb. Eleven years to the days since it happened. Weird as all get out, but I have gotten used to that. Now I just want it to stop.

September 20:
Dementia's ability to fake sincerity is wonderful and terrifying.

September 20:
We had just finished watching the first episode of a new TV series.
Dementia (who owns the remote): OK to erase this?
Hyena: Technically, we should burn it and bury the ashes at a crossroads at midnight, but I guess erasing it is the best we can do.
(For the record: "The Good Place.")

September 22 (Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge, from 2014):
Dementia has tried to learn to play the guitar a few times over the years, but like many of us, lacks the necessary manual dexterity. Recently she has acquired a baritone ukulele, essentially a half-sized guitar with only the four highest pitched strings. She has been practicing it diligently, and making good progress. Last night as I was brushing my teeth she played through a long and melodic series of chords smoothly. When I had finished, I complimented her, and asked her what the song was.

"I don't really know the melody well enough to hear it," she said. "It's 'Sloop John B.'"

I smiled. "Strum the first chord." She did, I listended, found the note, and started to sing. She was working off a words and chords chart, and had no trouble following through the verse and chorus. When we had finished, I said, "That... WORKED." I smiled broadly.

"Yeah," she said with an equally broad smile. "That did."

One takes one's triumphs where one finds them...

Uncle Hyena
9:10 pm
12 Miles on the Chain O' Lakes
Once again, linking to Facebook to make photo transfer easier: https://www.facebook.com/paul.haynie/posts/10157538658240512?notif_t=like¬if_id=1474681275440865

The Chain O' Lakes includes 15 different lakes along the Fox River; the Fox actually flows through three of them; the others are connected by canals and, in one case, questionable nomenclature. (Fox Lake and Nippersink Lakes are the same thing, hydrographically.) This trip took me from Grass Lake through Lake Marie, Bluff Lake, Spring Lake, Petite Lake, Fox Lake, Nippersink Lake, and back to Grass Lake again.

Uncle Hyena
Thursday, September 15th, 2016
1:20 pm
24 Miles on the Fox River
Once again, pointing from LiveJournal to Facebook to make the photo process simpler: My Fox River trip from September 12: https://www.facebook.com/paul.haynie/posts/10157499350110512?notif_t=like¬if_id=1473957236424708
Tuesday, September 13th, 2016
8:45 pm
Hell, Story, Mechanic, Labyrinth, Sully, Row, Row, Row
Five movies and three rowing expeditions, one of them major.

"Hell or High Water" is a caper movie of a sort. The trailers are grim, but the movie is actually a bit more fun and significantly less depressing than advertised. I saw it by Hobson's Choice, and liked it well enough.

"The Neverending Story" is a German-made English language film based on a very popular (but pretentious and depressing) German children's novel. We saw it on original release, and were thoroughly unimpressed; I saw it to see if my opinion had changed in the intervening 32 years, and it hadn't.

"Mechanic: Resurrection" is a Jason Statham movie. It is neither the best or the worst of the breed, but since we are generally fond of most of them, that was fine.

"Labyrinth" is another mid-80s children's epic Dementia and I saw separately (since I was incarcerated in Oklahoma that summer), but loved. 30 years later, it is still flawed but wonderful. It's a bit horrifying to know that it was a failure on original release.

"Sully" gives us Clint Eastwood directing Tom Hanks to tell the story of the US Airways Flight 1549, which swallowed a flock of Canada Geese and did and emergency landing in the Hudson River in January of 2009. Given that the envent itself lasted less than half an hour, a great deal of craft is necessary to create a movie that is adequately dramatic while remaining true to the source material. It works very well, and we enjoyed the film a great deal.

On the 8th I did a short rowing recon trip of the facilities (or lack thereof) in Burlington, WI, and then on the 9th I did a short rowing expedition on Sterling Lake. And then on the 12th...

On the 12th I accomplished another major expedition, 24 miles on the Fox River from Burlington to Grass Lake. Details and photos will be on Facebook soonish.

Uncle Hyena
Tuesday, September 6th, 2016
3:20 pm
Geneva, Ernie, Bristol, Nikki, Ruminations
Thinky thoughts...

So, Thursday I did the Geneva Lake Circuit. Friday I returned to Lake Geneva (Geneva is a city in Switzerland, Lake Geneva is a body of water in Switzerland and a town in Wisconsin, and Geneva Lake is a body of water in Wisconsin, got it?) to help Ernie G. celebrate his birthday. There was a game of "San Juan" in progress when I got there, and eventually a game of "Liar's Dice" after that, and the usual conversation and foolishness.

Saturday Dementia and I returned to Bristol, her second trip of the year, my thirteenth. We wandered, she bought a few things, and eventually she worked up the nerve to climb the castle (a climbing wall), at which she succeeded admirably.

Sunday I put on full Ren Faire drag, but bailed out of the parking queue because I just wasn't up for the crowds. I considered going canoeing at Sterling Lake; it wasn't very crowded, but then realized I didn't have my rowing gloves with me (and my hands were still a bit raw from Thirsday). I went home, checked in at Great America to take advantage of an absurd deal for next year's season pass, and then met the Incomparable Nikki (TM) for dinner and conversation.

Monday was the last day of the season at Bristol, and I was there in full drag for several hours. I listened to some music, heard a few REALLY twisted dark fairy stories, and had a few random conversations. It was all kind of bittersweet. I have had a good time at Bristol this year, but the circumstances were unusual and possibly unique, so this might be a once in a lifetime experience. We will always be back once or twice, but I don't know beyond that. Time will tell.

So... About those thinky thoughts.

Late in the Geneva Circuit, after the sun had gone down, there was a difficult section where I was crossing waves that were large enough to be dangerous, and the thought drifted through my head that I rather doubted one would ever find an honest self-professed atheist who had ever been out in a storm in a small boat (If you haven't heard my rant about the emotional bankruptcy of atheism and actually want to hear it some time, ask.), and THAT led to one of my cranial denizens asking, "So where does that leave YOU?" And I thought about it, and eventually answered, "This lake is my friend. She's playing with me; she doesn't WANT to hurt me. That doesn't mean she CAN'T, of that she WON'T, if I am stupid, but all I need is a little caution, and a little respect, and it will be fine." And of course it was.

Nikki and I go back a LONG way. These days, she is a practicing psychologist, among other things. She is always charming, always pleasant to be around, and Sunday was no exception. We discussed the nature of happiness, and she asked me what I got out of rowing, which evolved to the question of what I get out of being on the water, which I couldn't answer beyond, "It feels right." We talked about her life; I didn't tell her, and should have, that she seems to have a groundedness that I have not seen in her before (which is not to say that I ever felt it was lacking). We talked about my situation, and she said, "You're not really depressed, you're just pathologically pragmatic. And you tend to express yourself darkly." Which made a great deal of sense.

Uncle Hyena
Thursday, September 1st, 2016
9:55 am
Geneva Lake Circuit
I often link things that started in LiveJournal into Facebook. This time, there is a photo essay of sorts on Facebook, and I am linking it back to here. We'll see if it works.

For the record, I rowed the 20.5 mile perimeter of Geneva Lake on September 1, and that is the topic at hand.


Uncle Hyena
Wednesday, August 31st, 2016
8:33 pm
Jeans, Lightning, Lovecraft, Unicorn, Milne, Rackham, Art, Fraser, Computer, Shelley, Lawn
Random bits from Facebook:
August 18:
Stuff that comes up in conversation:
Hyena: One of the sexiest outfits any woman can wear is a tank top, jeans, a leather jacket, and boots. Little or no makeup, plain or black nails. It works for nearly any age, and almost any body type. But you have to have the attitude.

Hyena: Come to think of it, I have only ever dated one woman who was inclined to dress like that, and look how that has turned out. (Dementia, who owns and and has worn THOUSANDS of variations on that outfit, laughed.

Hyena: No amount of Spandex or factory processing can EVER make a pair of jeans as sexy as a pair of 501s that have EARNED their softness...

August 18:
We watched a (pretty lame) movie tonight that had an Ariel in it, and of course I recited the relevant couplet. I have never sat down to memorize "52 Vincent Black Lightning"; I suppose that I should. I know most of it already.
It's a night for it, in any case. My portion of the linked post was written on the heels of my Aunt Mary's sudden death in 2005... http://unclehyena.livejournal.com/89037.html

August 20:
It's H.P. Lovecraft's birthday. Feel free to do something unspeakably horrible.

August 21:
There was a woman I saw a couple of different times at Bristol, yesterday wearing a blue sort-of tie died tee shirt that featured a unicorn head silhouette and the words, "Spirit animal." I resisted the urge to talk to her, and just gnashed my teeth. I understand that unicorns have been transmogrified, over the course of the last century, into fluffy bunnies with hooves, but GODS! There has to be a limit to the stupidity, doesn't there? (Don't answer that...)

August 21:
It's Christopher Robin Milne's birthday. Tell a plush toy that you love it. Be sincere.

August 21:
Dementia came with me to Bristol today. We were looking at flags when I noticed a young couple looking at the pirate flags. I pointed to the first one. "This is 20th century junk." Then on to the second one. "This one, on the other hand, is about 300 years old, and pirates fought and died under it. It belonged to a pirate named Jack Rackham." The girl lit up, didn't quite squeal. She said she knew about Rackham from the show "Black Sails." This led to my quickly recounting the details of Rackham, Anne Bonney, and Mary Read. The girl was rapt; her fellow obviously wanted me to die a fast and horrible death. I didn't care. And they bought Rackhams's flag.

August 22:
(Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge, from 2015):
During a stray moment this morning, I came across an old poll that had been done on "Wait but why?". Respondents were asked to make a choice; some super powered being was going to either kill 100 random people, or destroy all of the art in the Louvre. Failing to decide destroyed everything. This didn't take any thought at all for me, and I was surprised that (as far as I could see; I did not have time to read the whole thread) the response was unanimous against me. (Though it is worth mentioning that when I put the question to Dementia, she felt the same way I did.) OF COURSE you save the art; people are just people. And if you are wondering: My answer does not change if I am one of the one hundred. Let's phrase it another way: Which is more valuable: 100 humans, or an irreplaceable piece of humanity's SOUL?

August 23:
A successful writer died, and a few years later, his wife died. After that, his children cleaned out the family home and found a locked safe. Once the safe was professionally cracked, they found that it contained the manuscript of a novel that their father had written more than 50 years earlier, when he was working as a journalist. They showed the manuscript to their father's publisher, and it was decided to publish it.
The writer? George MacDonald Fraser
The novel is called, "Captain in Calico."
Time between knowing it existed and having a copy on the way to me? About three minutes.

August 26:
Dementia's primary computer lives in the TV room, which is not climate controlled. The other day, the keyboard freaked out, though the mouse was still functional. She managed to log in once, and did a lot of limping around, got a backup to run, and then did her normal computer things with the backup travel computer. At my suggestion, the computer was taken to the air conditioned bedroom and allowed to run for several hours, then powered down and put in a sealed bag before it could cool off, and then was taken back out into the world and allowed to acclimate (still in the bag) and THEN it was taken out and fired up. Ambient humidity had fallen in the meantime. All is now well. Proving once again that hairless apes are still occasionally smarter than forces of nature.

August 30:
It's Mary Shelley's birthday. She was 20 when her monster made its lasting mark on world literature, though she didn't get her name on it for another five years. Celebrate by creating an archetypal character (or two) that will be remembered 200 years later. (Alternatively, create life in your basement (or attic) lab. Body snatchers are not required; Shelley's Victor did his thing without raiding the local cemeteries, somehow.)

August 31:
(Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge, from 2015):
It's amazing how little yard work you have to do before Stockholm syndrome sets in, you forget you are being tortured, and it starts to seem like reasonable behavior. It's downright CREEPY. Fortunately, all you have to do to recover is STOP.
8:02 pm
Dragon, Kubo, Dogs, Hur, Canoe
Four movies and a minor odyssey.

"Pete's Dragon" is has a lot of good material, but the elements are clumsily assembled and sugar coated. We don't regret seeing it, but would never see it again.

"Kubo and the Two Strings" is what happens when several Nipponophiles fill a blender with Japanese mythology, and then extrude the resulting mess into a stop motion movie. It's surprisingly good for all of that, and some of it is downright wonderful.

"War Dogs" is a reasonably factual dramatization of a bizarre footnote of the Bush 43 administration. It's a great deal of fun and extremely creepy by turns. I enjoyed it a great deal.

"Ben Hur" is an epic story that should have choked on its own pomposity a hundred years ago. The current version is big and beautiful and more than a little flat, though most of the problems have been legitimately inherited from the hopelessly lame source material.

In other news... This past weekend was the (third) annual Michigan outing of my brother's poker club. We went down on Friday evening, stared at each other while it rained on Saturday morning, and then got on with things. I got the canoe in the water for the first time in more than two months, and did a three mile lap of the lake. We ate steak, played poker, and did lake things. In the morning, I was the first one up, so I did most of my packing, and then pulled the canoe back down the beach for another lap of the lake in the morning mist. THAT was a magical experience. Every now and then, it all comes together...

Uncle Hyena
Wednesday, August 24th, 2016
10:22 am
Unicorn Thoughts
This is a bit of speculative folklore reconstruction. There is a lot of knowlege behind it, but also a lot of intuition and guesswork. Consider yourselves warned.

The pre-Christian European unicorn was fierce, untameable, goatlike, white, beautiful, and REALLY male (pretty much a penis with hooves, an objectification of rape). But it also had healing abilities. The original virgin-as-bait mechanism was a challenge between the girl's purity and the unicorn's lust, and if the girl lost, she climbed on the unicorn's back and was never seen again.

So what happened? Visually, the unicorn didn't lose its beard, cloven hooves, and tufted tail until the second half of the 20th century, but the transmogrification from galloping penis to fluffy bunny seems to go MUCH farther back than that.

The blame probably lies with the medieval Christian church, which REALLY hated ambiguity and shades of gray. While the ancient Greeks had no real conceptual problem with the idea of a healer god who committed the occasional rape, the contrast would have given a medieval clergyman fits, so the beautiful white healing creature had to ALSO be an embodiment of purity. (The medieval church had a vested interest in the idea that you could be holy and still indulge in wholesale slaughter, so the ferocity got to stay).

In the interest of complicating things, I will offer the following bit of speculation: Maybe the unicorn gets its healing abilities from CONSUMING purity (which Dementia points out makes the gray REALLY dark...)

Uncle Hyena
Monday, August 22nd, 2016
9:34 pm
Squad, Florence, Van Troubles
Two weeks since the last real entry. Shame on me.

"Suicide Squad" is the fifth major superhero movie this year, and the second best. Margot Robie's Harley Quinn steals every scene she is in, but she was expected to. It has many flaws, but in the end it works.

"Florence Foster Jenkins" tells a bizarre true story with a great deal of humor. It is excellent in all ways, but parts of it are REALLY painful to watch (or rather, to listen to).

The van continues to suck down money, but I think the lid is finally on straight, and we can get on with life. (For the record: Catalytic converters, power steering actuator rack, rear coil springs, and all four tires have been replaced.) And the thing now has a trailer hitch. I have fabricated most of the fiddly bits necessary to mount the canoe (and there are a surprising number of them), and life may now return to some semblance of normal.

I continue to spend my weekends at Bristol, occasionally play PokeGo at Great America, and spend a lot of time wondering what I want to do with myself when I grow up.

Uncle Hyena
Monday, August 15th, 2016
7:57 pm
Falcon, Special, Razor, Moire, Poltergeist, Tyger, Wayfarer, Bristol, Firebird, Sync
Random bits from Facebook:

August 3:
Long ago, Dementia and I attended a panel at a con where the project was to map the characters of Star Wars (only three movies, at that time) onto the Major Arcana. I was the only male in the room. There was general lamentation at the dearth of female characters. "You're forgetting one," I offered, "The Millennium Falcon." This was met with consternation and general resistance, which ruined the credibility of moderator for me.

Ships are feminine, always and forever, from the Argo to the Enterprise, from the Nautilus to the Serenity, from the Black Pearl to the Millennium Falcon. And if you don't understand that, you don't know what a ship IS.

August 3:
I was on a bench with my back to the Great America Carousel, playing PokeGo. I looked up and saw five teenagers on a bench across the midway from me, a boy in the middle and two girls on either side. I grinned, waited for a break in the traffic, and walked straight toward them; I was four or five paces away when they noticed me. I pointed at the boy. "You," I said, "Must be doing something right," and spread my hands to indicate his companions. The boy grinned broadly, and they all laughed.

August 5:
Shaving with a new razor blade after about a year is kind of a religious experience. My beard is pale (even thirds dark brown, ash blond, and red, before it all went gray) and grows slowly; I have never had to shave more than every other day, and only every third since the color went. And I have thick hide that tolerates a LOT of scraping with a dull razor, so I just don't bother to change the blade often. But the contrast between a 100-plus shave blade and a new one is kind of a shock...

August 7:
Apropos of nothing...

A few years ago at an SF convention, I fell into conversation with a friend and a young woman I didn't know. It was night; we were high up in a dimly lit hotel atrium; they were leaning against the railing against the abyss, and I was facing them, leaning against a wall between two room doors. The woman was wearing a black top with a vee front that ran from her shoulders to her navel, the structural improbability of this solved by a panel of fishnet fabric. The main local light was from a small lamp near each of the doors, and this created an interference pattern of shadows through the fishnet onto her substantial cleavage that fascinated me. I was engaged in the conversation, but I could NOT look away.

Eventually this earned me a, "My eyes are up here," comment, and I sheepishly explained what it was that I had been looking at. The woman expressed her skepticism.

My friend bailed me out. "He's telling the truth," he said. "I've known him for years, and it's not the tits, it's the math."

August 8:
It wasn't where is was supposed to be. Retrace steps, look in all the places it MIGHT be, spiral outward with increasing franticness, lather, rinse, repeat, each time expanding the pattern. And then, on the fifth (or was it the sixth?) return to the starting point, there it was, exactly where it was supposed to be all along. There are two possible explanations. I am inclined to prefer poltergeisen to insanity; your mileage may vary.

August 9:
Before the movie today, there was an ad for the new Infiniti Q60. Kit Harrington (of "Game of Thrones") climbs into the sexy red car, starts the engines, and procedes to drive it hard while reciting William Blake's "The Tyger". It's a cool ad anyway, but I LOVE the idea of selling modern tech with a poem that is over 220 years old...

August 10:
"Bite the horizon." -- An expression of boundless, sanity optional enthusiasm, from "Going Postal" by Terry Pratchett

August 11:
Dementia was practicing "Wayfaring Stranger" on her ukelele. She asked, "Where does the word 'wayfarer' come from?"

Hyena looked up. "Where does the word 'seafarer' come from?"

Dementia replied, "Oh. So he fares on the Way. He's a Taoist."

Hyena rolled his eyes.

I love my wife...

August 13:
Good day at Bristol. Saw Bounding Main three times, the first time I have seen them live since I have become familiar with their music. Let a pretty barmaid talk me into singing the first half of "Spacers Home", and she DANCED.

August 13:
The old Firebird filk album "Carmen Miranda's Ghost", that I once had nearly memorized, is long out of print, and our only copies were long dead cassette tapes. I found a (wildly inaccurate) set of lyrics on line (as well as most of the songs in mediocre condition on YouTube), and was surprised to find a title I didn't recognize at all in the song list. I read the lyrics for the missing song, and realized I HAD heard it before, but had no idea of the tune. 18 hours later, I was crossing the bridge at Bristol, and found myself humming a tune; I pushed a little, and the lyrics came in. My brain had rebuilt the melody from the lyrics. And it IS the original melody...

August 15:
So Very Not a Musician (Weird Neurological Stuff):
I realized this weekend that I can't clap in time to music if my eyes are closed, but I CAN if I sync the image of a leader clapping with the sensation of my hands impacting each other. With my eyes closed, I can hear that I am out of sync, but I can never fix it. Also, apparently, I can't sing and clap in time at the same time (though I have never had trouble singing in time...).

Uncle Hyena
Monday, August 8th, 2016
8:13 pm
Road Trip: Sullivan and GenCon
So... Time for our occasional Sunday GenCon flyby. Sort of.

We left home on Friday, checked into a hotel in Champaign, IL, checked out in the morning, and drove to Sullivan, IL, where we had lunch with Dementia's Aunt Donna, which went quite well. Then we dropped Donna off, and headed to Anderson, IN (because Indianapolis is always sold out during GenCon), and things started to get difficult. A warning light came on; it looked a great deal like a highball glass holding a cocktail onion. Cocktail hour? Time to get drunk? We stopped, and closer examination revealed it to be a low tire pressure warning. (The Toyota didn't come with an owner's manual, and I my internal symbology is NOT in any way standard.) Given that repair after 6:00 PM on a Saturday is impossible, we limped along on frequent gas station air refills until we got to our hotel, then limped furtner to WalMart and a repair in the morning. This meant we didn't actually get to GenCon until about 1:15, and the con shut down at 4:00...

We managed to make contact with the Bowman/Weaver contingent at Union Station, and saw Rick, Ken, and Steve at the Flying Buffalo booth, where we demoed the new T&T Solo app (which happened to be the first time Dementia has EVER actually played a game at GenCon). We wondered around for a while, bought a game, and then headed up to Broad Ripple for pizza at the Union Jack. And THEN we went back to meet with Bowman & Weaver for ice cream in Monument Circle, and then back to Anderson. And then today we came home.

As usual, Dementia swears she is never leaving home again. For once, I am not swearing off GenCon forever, but then, it's REALLY hard to burn out in the tiny amount of time we were at the con.

Uncle Hyena
Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016
10:22 pm
Busters, Trek, Bourne, Bristol, Van
Three movies and the usual foolishness.

"Ghostbusters" is better than its predecessor on nearly every point. The script is better, the pacing is better, the cast is on a par, but the current cast takes direction better. I'm still not sure this movie needed to be made at all, but we enjoyed it.

"Star Trek Beyond" is better than the last entry in this series by a fair margin. It also points out how lucky the TV shows were to NOT have movie sized effects budgets; it saved them from the visual absurdity of the current movie's space station. Star Trek's strength has always been the characters, and when the characters are allowed to shine here, this is a wonderful movie. When the plot gets tangled up in idiotic pseudo-tech, the movie suffers. We enjoyed it anyway.

"Jason Bourne" may be one movie too many in this series. Damon's Bourne is still solid, but the world is increasingly silly. (Did you know that the CIA has ten man black ops go teams available on two minutes notice in every major city in the world? This movie implies it...) It still works, mostly, and (third time in a row, if you're counting) we enjoyed it, mostly.

Along the way... I have now been to Bristol six times, finally did full Ren Faire Drag on Saturday. It went over well enough (and I got asked to pose for a picture for the first time in my life; not sure what I think of that). Finally got the van back after driving a loaner for a week. Still haven't got the intracacies of mounting the canoe figured out.

Life goes on.

Uncle Hyena
Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016
7:26 pm
Fingerless, Frankenstein, Bristol, Watership, Haikuy, Jonah, Footprints, Preacher
Random bits from Facebook:
July 28:
Life in my household:

Dementia: During "Ghostbusters", yesterday, I thought, 'Oooohhh, she's wearing fingerless leather gloves. I should get a pair of fingerless leather gloves. Oh, wait... I HAVE a pair of fingerless leather gloves... with me, in my bag, right now.'"

July 29:
(Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge):
Neologism of the day:

This comes to me from the "Paranoia" RPG, but it fills a niche, and it charms me, and deserves to be propagated. It has come up recently from two different sources (a comics mini series called "Alex and Ada", and the new TV show "Humans"), but the idea is out there whenever one starts to talk about machine intelligencs. When you encourage a computer to develop sentience, either as an original designer, or by removing deliberate blocks, you cause it "to go Frankenstein." Likewise, a computer that spontaneously develops sentience "goes Frankenstein". There is currently no other term for this in the language, and there should be, and I think that this should be it.

July 30:
Bristol stuff:
Ran into a couple of guys who had just bought a costume flintlock. Talked flintlocks for a bit, which sequed into, "Three Duels in One Morning". Haven't told that one in a while.
Talked to a couple in freelance costumes; the female was doing a raven, which included a black stocking (or similar) over her eyes. This led to me talking of my experiences wearing a Grendel mask, and they were aware of Grendel, which led to my Fork, which lead to Mage and, "It's a 1959 Corsair model Edsel, but god-damned car ever made. You got a problem with that?" I sent them off to the library in search of Mage.
On the heels of that, a woman walked up to me and asked if she could pose for a picture with me. I said yes, and then asked why while it was happening. She said she liked my costume (?!?) and since she was at a Ren Faire, she wanted a picture with someone in costume. (For purposes of my own memory: She was an attractive redhead, not young, but much younger than me). Weird.

July 31:
Life in my household:
Dementia mentally counted the rabbits in our plush menagerie, and got four. I shook my head, and said there were five; she thought for a moment, then agreed with me. "Maybe I am turning into a rabbit myself," she said; I blinked, and then started to laugh. (It's a "Watership Down" reference: According to that book, rabbits can only count to four.)

July 31:
Cleansing water runs
Into fresh and gaping wounds.
Screaming has no point.

(Grossly exaggerated. The heel blister that formed at Bristol yesterday and broke on the way home didn't enjoy the shower this morning.)

August 1:
(Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge):
"Look, God," said Jonah. "I know what's gonna happen. You have this character flaw called, 'Forgiveness'..." ---From Uncle Hyena's Freely Adapted Version of a well known story...

August 1:
Dear Pokemon Go Community:

Speaking to you as one of your own (Blue, Level 16), you should be aware that Niantic pulled the footprints out of the game because we, as a community, were stupid. You do not NEED to walk into traffic, tresspass, or disrupt memorial sites to play the game, and without the footprints, you will no longer have incentive to do so. Niantic made the assumption that we would be able to play the game in a safe and sane fashion without breaking laws, risking our lives, or disrupting the community. We have proven them wrong, and they have taken steps to correct the matter.

Live with it.

(This is in response to general internet kvetching, not to any statements made by ANYONE on my friends list. Given how sanity optional we are in general, I am kind of proud of you all on this point.)

August 1:
Just finished watching the finale of "Preacher"... Garth Ennis is one of my favorite writers, and I LOVED the "Preacher" comics series. But the TV show... "Preacher" was 13 year old Seth Rogen's favorite comic, and the show (all of it, not just this episode) was pretty much written with the sensibilities of a 13 year old. It's been a train wreck from the start. We rode through the whole season out of loyalty to Ennis, but REALLY glad its over.
Thursday, July 28th, 2016
12:22 pm
Over the Horizon
The epiphany of the week (and maybe the decade; it is about 40 years overdue) is that I am NOT fundamentally depressive. Sure, I feel emotional pain; everyone does. For the most part I deal with it better than most people. But I have finally come to grips with the fact that the despair and depression that have haunted me for forty years are not intrinsic to my personality. It turns out that the Black Dog wears a diamond studded collar, and that it is ALL about money.

Long term money worries drove me to the edge of the abyss in February of 1976, and money has been the root of the problem EVERY TIME I have looked over the edge since then. EVERY TIME. I have been REALLY unhappy at various times in my life, but the only thing that has EVER triggered the depression is money.

This clarifies my current situation a great deal. To recap: I am unemployed, 60 years old, and have no credentials or provable job skills.

Option One: Throw myself into the job market, and take a job I don't like for a small fraction of what I used to make. Reduce expenses to balance income, cutting out nearly all sources of joy and meaning in my life in the process. This living death will continue for many years, until I am too sick to work, and then I will either die or my life will transition to something even more horrible.

Option Two: Continue living as I am now until the money is gone, and then kill myself. (Or, alternatively transition to Option One at this point, which is pretty much the same thing, anyway.)

This does not look like a difficult choice to me: Five to twenty years of general misery, against two years of being authentically happy. I end up dead at the end either way. So Option Two is pretty attractive, except that the other person who holds voting stock on the issue probably won't go for it. Quite. (Sorry, if you aren't married to me, you don't get a vote.)

This brings up Option Three, otherwise known as, "The Quest for an Escape Hatch". Which looks a LOT like Option Two, except it postulates the possibility of an alternative ending, and both requires and allows a certain dedication of resources to finding such a thing. I have a couple of ideas in mind. The odds are poor, but that's OK; I get to enjoy life for at least two years along the way.

Uncle Hyena
Wednesday, July 27th, 2016
9:58 pm
PokeBristol, Studio 60, Tattoo, Weight, Bristol, Happiness
Random bits from Facebook:

July 17:
I was wandering the midway at Bristol when I heard the following:

Rube: "And if you join Instinct, you will have a chance at a new Incubator every time you level up, not just at specific levels like the other teams."

I stared at the fellow and said, "I doubt that. What's your source?"

Rube: "Some internet site. I forget which one."

Hyena: "Really. It might be true; I can't be certain, but I very much doubt it. I have been playing Ingress for nearly two years, and I know the ONLY differences between the two teams are cosmetic, so there is history against you. I know that they would want very much to make the teams balanced, and the simplest and easiest way to do that is to make them identicle. Also, TENS OF MILLIONS of people have already committed to teams without knowing anything of the sort, and if this is true, Niantic is opening themsevles to a LOT of complaints."

"But the philosophies of the various teams..."

Hyena: "Purely cosmetic. I might be wrong, you might be right. But I know how I'd bet."

I walked away. The rube didn't like me very much...

July 20:
So maybe Studio 60 doesn't make me cry during EVERY episode, unless you remember that the last five episodes are all one long story, 210 minutes of television that take place over only about 10 hours of story time.
In other news, the Check Engine light came on in the Toyota 26 hours after I signed the papers...

July 21:
Interesting Dredgings. I followed that practive for about two months, and then gave it up. Still not sure. The problem is that during the period when I was contemplating the tattoo, I realized that it had shifted from an "I have been there," symbol to an "I sympathize with those who have been there," symbol, and that wasn't really what I wanted.
From the Dredge, dated July 21 2015:
I've been wearing a trial tattoo for a few days now; I draw it on when I get out of the shower (in permanent marker, which on me lasts about 36 hours), and get on with my life. I want it to be there while I think about it, and I want to see if anyone notices and how they react. In the meantime, I am also working on an essay that will attempt to convey my convoluted feelings about tattoos in general, and tattoos on me in particular. We shall see. The chance of this tattoo becoming permanent is somewhat better than even; the chance of there ever being a second one are minuscule (but, of course, never say never).

July 22:
The Dredge reminds me that on this day in 2014 I weighed in at 280 pounds, the extreme low point of that particular cycle. I was 291 this morning, and trending down (again). BUT... I have managed to stay under 300 pounds continuously for TWO YEARS (and more, before that). One takes one's triumphs where one finds them.

July 22:
From a conversaton today: Mowing the lawn is closest most men in this country ever get to meditation.

July 24:
GOOD day at Bristol.

Yes, the heat convinced me not to do garb, again, which is always a little sad. Along the way I sang "New Sins for Old" and "When the Tall Man Speaks", and recited "Silver Lady", all to good effect. I also told the "Undead Carnie" story, and it went over like a lead balloon. Oh, well.

The event of the day, though...

I was approaching the tavern in the southwest corner of the compound when I encountered two young women. They were both attractive and wearing grade B garb. One was in (I think) blue and white with a black corset; the other was in warm earth tones, plus a russet fedora and an E-cig in a wooden holder that gave everything an Art Deco twist that I found brain melting. I told her so, and she was obviously flattered. They bought their beer and were carded; I bought my Dr. Pepper, and did the, "Don't ring the bell," thing. Russet Hat asked me why, and I told her: The full Ballad of Hob Gaedling with full orchestration and four part harmony. Russet Hat and her friend were rapt. This sequed into the Keys of Hell Dinner Party, which went over just as well, and THAT sequed into the Helm Quest, still with full orchestration and four part harmony.

"You may be right,' Morpheus said. "I may have no power here. But Dreams? Where is the horror of Hell if the condemned can not dream of Heaven?" And demonic horde parted, and Morpheus went free.

Russet Hat and her friend were mopped up and carried away in buckets.

It was a GOOD day...

July 27:
I have been thinking more and more lately that the biggest single lie I have ever encountered is the aphorism, "Money can't buy happiness." It's true that not all sources of unhappiness can be bought off, and it is also true that there is no amount of money that will GUARANTEE happiness. But still, the vast majority of unhappiness in the world BEGINS with a lack of money. The actual fact of the matter is that money CAN buy happiness most of them time, and even when it can't, it can almost always mitigate the unhappiness.
Sunday, July 24th, 2016
9:08 am
Van, Jorie, Cloudburst
So... I bought a "new" vehicle, because the old one had become unacceptably unreliable, and... 26 hours after signing the papers, the "Check Engine" light came on. Took it to my usual mechanic, was told that the codes indicated a catalytic converter problem, and that I should talk to the dealer. Learned that, in Illinois, when a used car is purchased "without warranty" that is IT; the buyer has zero rights once the car is driven off the lot. Called the dealer anyway, they agreed to pay for half of the repair, and gave me a loaner: A 2015 Chevy Cruze, black with black leather interior and all sorts of silly bells and whistles (a two way power sun roof?) but no audio input port. Also, REALLY small. That ate most of the week. Still waiting for the van back.

Friday afternoon I went to Great America and played PokeGo. If the heat is inescapable, I would rather deal with it while walking than just sitting, and unlimited quantities of root beer over ice make life much nicer.

Saturday morning I had a conversational meal with former TinselTown denizen Jorie H, whom I have know for six years and with whom I have had many minuscule but interesting conversations. We talked for two and a half hours on the usual hyperbolic topics. Much fun.

Saturday morning, I went back to Bristol and made no effort AT ALL to do Ren Faire Drag. Had a few minor conversations, did a few hawks, and got caught in a cloudburst. At least one lightning strike was nearly on top of me (simulaneous flash and sound) though I was indoors for that one. Exciting. Also, REALLY soggy.

Uncle Hyena
Tuesday, July 19th, 2016
10:27 pm
Bristol, Pokego, Ingress, New Van
Ten days since the last general update.

I have visited Bristol on three of them, made a couple of new friends there.

Planned to attempt the Geneva perimeter in my canoe on the 15th, woke up early feeling awful, and aborted the plan. Ended up going to Great America in the afternoon and playing Ingress and Pokego simultaneously, and did pretty well with both.

I have had no luck at all playing Pokemon at Bristol; there is just too much interference. On the other hand, I finally managed to finish the second Bristol Ingress mission, AND managed to make level 10 in Ingress after 13 months at level 9.

On the 12th I drove out to Elgin to see a 2008 Toyota Sienna, and today (7/19) I bought it, trading in my 2000 Dodge van in the process. My dad bought the Dodge new in 2000, and sold it to me cheap in 2010. It is certainly the last car my mother ever rode in, probably the last car she ever drove. I intended to make it last something like ten years and/or 180,000 miles (to the quarter million point). I have taken GOOD care of it, and have become very fond of it. In mid-April I was told that the engine was going to need rings, and there were a number of other incipient issues. We discussed options, and decided that it was time to replace the van. I was, and am, REALLY unhappy about this. Leaving the Dodge behind HURT. Life goes on.

Uncle Hyena
Sunday, July 17th, 2016
10:32 pm
Innumeracy, Bristol, Croptogram, Hippos, More Bristol, Batrachian, Still More Bristol, Polycephalia
Random bits from Facebook:

July 8, 2015 (Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge):
From the "Innumeracy Will Destroy Us" file:

A little while ago, I came across a story to the extent that a fifteen year old student had discovered a fifty year old error in a mathematics display at the Boston Museum of Science. Specifically, he found that minus signs had been substituted for plus signs in three places in an explanation of the Golden Ratio. I looked a bit, but couldn't find an actual statement of the equations, and I became suspicious. I was willing to bet that the display was fine, but the museum employee who confirmed the error was an idiot. Sure enough, someone with a few more brain cells looked the situation over, and determined that there was no error. For those who don't know: "X is to one as one is to X plus one" and "X is to one as one is to X minus one" are both valid (if reciprocal) statements of the Golden Ratio.

July 9:
Respect the drive-by: Best Bristol moment of the day: She was sitting by herself in the Friends of Faire garden. I walked by, and said, "It has been my experience that pretty girls who are sitting by themselves prefer to remain that way, " and smiled. Her face lit up, and I walked away.

July 9:
Just solved a gawd-awful cryptogram I have been hacking at for several days. BANANA+LEMON+PEAR=ORANGE. Each letter is a different single digit number, and none of the leading letters (B, L, P, O) are equal to zero. First glace is 10! combinations, ablut 3.5 million. A little bit of messing around gets it down to about a quarter million; I managed to get it down under 150, then ground through the possibilites until I found it. It's supposed to be a logic puzzle, and using a brute force computer solution is supposed to be cheating, but that is the only solution offered. I feel pretty good about my 150 case approach (the one that worked was in the 130s; I was beginning to think I had missed something...)

July 10:
Carryover from the new Tarzan movie: There is an odd pseudo-fact that gets trotted out every now and then: Hippos are the most dangerous animals in Africa. And it is sort of true: Hippos kill more people every year than any other African macro-fauna. But this its really a matter of numbers more than any particular property of hippos. Hippos are BIG, and fiercely territorial, and NUMEROUS. And they look kind of cuddly. So every year, a certain number of stupid people make a hippo angry, and die as a result. But they aren't nearly as dangerous, or as aggressive, pound for pound, as elephants or rhinos or buffalo. They are just COMMON.

July 10:
Bristol doings:

Damsel in Distress, #1: I had just shut off the engine and opened the door when a woman walked past the front bumper with a violin on her back. I did a double take, said, "Michi?", there was brief conversation, and then I drove the Incomparable Michi around the parking lot until we found her car.

Damsel in Distress #2 (and 3): I was approaching the south end of the Lake Elizabeth bridge; there was HEAVY southbound traffic. I was vaguely aware of a woman's voice to my right saying maybe they would be better off going around, and then, "Oh, he's going through, let's follow him." So, being large and ugly, I plowed my way across the bridge, and the mother and daughter followed me. We talked a bit at the far side of the bridge.

Matthew Walker Lives!: There is a woman making homemade rope out of acrylic yarn this year. I stopped and spoke to her for while; she had an antique cast iron rope making machine that fascinated me. And THEN we started talking about knots, and I ended up showing her how to tie a Matthew Walker, which just pleased my soul.

The only hawk I have heard so far was from a pretty blonde at an archery booth. I commented on that, talked hawks for a while, and ended up doing one for them. And THEN the gave me a handful of arrows and a free go.

So, much fun and silliness.

July 14, 2015 (Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge):
Odd stuff that dribbles out of my head, apropos of nothing:

"Track?" the clerk asked. "Where does that come from?"

Track smiled. "It's cut down from 'Batrachius'. It means, 'froglike'". The clerk goggled, and Track smiled again. "My mother had had a classical education, and FAR too many mushrooms."

July 14:
Obscure and grim tee shirt concept: "Norwegian Sled Dog." (It's a Roald Amundsen reference...)

July 16, 2015 (Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge):
It's Roald Amundsen's birthday. Celebrate by doing something no one has ever done before (or alternatively, eating a dog).

July 16:
Good day at Bristol:

The girl was standing in the midway with an 18 x 30 placard, hawking her heart out, within the limits of being 20 years old and not much more than 100 pounds. I walked up to her, smiled, and said, "May I?" She was confused. I repeated myself, she gave bewilded permission, and I did. An extra two hundred pounds and a half century of evil is a BIG difference; the girl smiled brilliantly, and then began to laugh.

I told the Undead Carnie story FOUR times, and the Ballad of Hob Gaedling once, all to good effect.

I started a rumor that wind chimes attract zombies.

And I made Level 10 in Ingress after more than a year.

July 17, 2015 (Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge):
Apropos of nothing:
If you don't know the difference between trepidation and trepanation (a group which apparently includes the Facebook spell check), you should probably stay away from sharp objects.

July 17:
Life in My Household:

Dementia: I haven't been wearing necklaces much lately. I only have one head. Maybe if I had more heads... I could go without on one neck, and a bunch of necklaces on the next one, and maybe a choker on the third one...

Hyena: That was weird, even for you.

I love my wife...
Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
10:22 pm
Hyena's Guide to Third Party Voting
No, you will not be throwing your vote away if you vote for a third party candidate this November. You might, however, be shooting yourself in the foot, and you need to take a few precautions to prevent that.

First, realize that your candidate WILL NOT win. Major party candidates win. Third party votes are about forcing the major parties to mutate and adapt (and they DO mutate and adapt, which is why they have been in power for so long).

Second, make sure you can actually afford to vote third party. Watch the polls for your state. If victory is a foregone conclusion for a particular candidate (which is the case in more than half of the country), vote your conscience. Third party votes matter a great deal in the long run, because they force ideas into the public consciousness. On the other hand, if you live in a state where the outcome of the election is in doubt, hold your nose and pick a major party candidate, because doing anything else is effectively voting for the candidate you don't want. You may hate them both, but you CAN NOT hate them equally; humans don't do ANYTHING in that kind of balance. If one of the candidates makes you sick to your stomach and the other gives you screaming nightmares, vote the nausea. Really.

Third, if you are planning to vote major party, and you live in a state where the victor is a foregone conclusion, consider voting third party, just to shake the tree. Because the tree REALLY needs to be shaken, and third party votes DO count in the long run.
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