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|Wednesday, August 24th, 2016|
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...)
|Monday, August 22nd, 2016|
|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.
|Monday, August 15th, 2016|
|Falcon, Special, Razor, Moire, Poltergeist, Tyger, Wayfarer, Bristol, Firebird, Sync
Random bits from Facebook:
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.
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.
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...
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."
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.
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...
"Bite the horizon." -- An expression of boundless, sanity optional enthusiasm, from "Going Postal" by Terry Pratchett
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...
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.
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...
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...).
|Monday, August 8th, 2016|
|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.
|Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016|
|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.
|Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016|
|Fingerless, Frankenstein, Bristol, Watership, Haikuy, Jonah, Footprints, Preacher
Random bits from Facebook:
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.'"
(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.
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.
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.)
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.)
(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...
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.)
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|
|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.
|Wednesday, July 27th, 2016|
|PokeBristol, Studio 60, Tattoo, Weight, Bristol, Happiness
Random bits from Facebook:
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...
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...
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).
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.
From a conversaton today: Mowing the lawn is closest most men in this country ever get to meditation.
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...
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|
|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.
|Tuesday, July 19th, 2016|
|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.
|Sunday, July 17th, 2016|
|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.
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.
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...)
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.
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."
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).
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.
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|
|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.
|Saturday, July 9th, 2016|
|Giant, Tarzan, Father, Fourth, Poker, Bristol
Two movies, a party, malaise, a poker game, and the first Bristol outing of the year.
"The BFG" is beautiful, kind of charming, and REALLY boring. The pacing is both soporific and bad, and no effort has been made of give anyone over the age of eight anything to connect to.
"The Legend of Tarzan" is REALLY good. It has its flaws, of course, but it works well in spite of them. In the long history of Tarzan films, this one ranks near the top.
On the 4th, we visited my dad on our way to brother Pete's annual 4th party. Brother Tim (and wife Patti) arrived in my Dad's room shortly after we did, which was fine, since my dad is only good for about 20 minutes of conversation with any given person, anyway. Pete's party was a good time, as always.
The rest of the week vanished into a morass of vague illness, indolence, and neurosis. I did manage to take a look at a possible replacement for the van, a 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser, but it doesn't seem likely to fit the bill.
The July poker game continued to be uneventful; I think my best hand of the night was QJ, off suit. I won ONE hand in two tourneys. The company is still good, though.
On Saturday, after more of less recovering from the previous late night, I meandered up to Bristol, collected my "Friend of the Faire" token, and generally wandered around. It was... pleasant. Also not exactly what I needed to be doing. Though I have no idea at all what it IS that I needed to be doing.
|Starter, Roulette, Trejo, Roulette Again, Boots, Captain Greg
Random bits from Facebook:
Today was going to be a perfect day to row the perimeter of Geneva Lake: Clear, not too hot, with little wind, and on a weekday so no horrible crowds. I got everything together yesterday evening, went to bed early, got up early, loaded the car... And the car wouldn't start. I pulled down the canoe and called for a tow. I have been looking forward to this for over a year, and having to abort the plan at this late stage HURTS. There will be other days, it will happen, but... GRRR.
Disturbing hypotheitcal of the day: What would it take to get you to play a game of Russian Roulette? How much money, up front (assignable to your estate) would it take for you to bet your life, five to one, against death RIGHT NOW?
I asked myself that, a few minutes ago, and was surprised at how concrete and instant the answer was. I will let the gallery ruminate on that for a while before I share my answer.
Watching taped Graham Norton. Salma Hayek told a GREAT story about meeting Danny Trejo for the first time, which led to us looking up Danny Trejo stories on IMDB. Danny Trejo is WONDERFUL...
Russian Roulette, Part 2
(Tagging everyone who commented last time.)
Let's look at a different hypothetical, shall we? Let's say you were stranded on a remote island. You had shelter, and significant but finite and non-renewable supplies. You had zero reasonable chance of rescue. You also had a small, leaky skiff with an outboard motor, a tank of gasoline, and no oars. A ship appears on the horizon. If you fire up the skiff and try to reach the ship, there is chance (50%, plus or minus 40%) that you will be rescued. But if you try and fail, you WILL NOT be able to return to the island, and you will die in the skiff in a few days. What do you do? I will let the commentariat chew on this for a while before I make further comments.
In other news, I managed to get my my nine button Faire boots on without resource to a valet. Dislocated both hips in the process...
Finally caught up on recorded TV for the first time in years. Dementia hit the DVD stack. A few suggestions were made, and then we got to "Studio 60". We just watched the first episode for the first time since it was current. DAMN, that was a good show. Best non-genre show ever, maybe. I seem to recall that it made me cry during EVERY episode. So far the memory is accurate...
There was a kid in my neighborhood, growing up, one of three brothers. He was seven years my junior, but good friends with my youngest brother, and I saw a lot of him over the years. One night his dog bit my face, and he drove me to the hospital so they could sew my upper lip back together. He was one of three people who joined me in my parent's basement for an Intellivision Baseball tournament the night before I got married. He was kind of goofy and painfully conscientious. He drifted a while after high school, ended up in the Coast Guard...
I saw a video clip of him the other day; he was giving the "everything that can be done, is being done" speech after a boating accident. Same clean cut, athletic strawberry blond he had always been. There were birds on his collar. CAPTAIN Greg Case. Day-amn.
Here's to you, Greg. You done good.
|Thursday, July 7th, 2016|
|Thursday, June 30th, 2016|
|Meanwhile, in the Laboratory...
Apropos of nothing in particular:
I took four years of honors lab sciences in high school, and a year of honors chemistry, with labs, in college. I invariably did very well on the exams, and often lost a letter grade for the poor quality of my labs. I wish once, in all of that time (and we might as well add the lab courses from middle school to this), an instructor had bothered to tell us what the point of the labs was, because I was too hostile and paranoid to figure it out for myself.
See, I had it in my head from day one that school, through high school, existed to keep us busy. It was a bonus if we occasionally learned things, but that wasn't the point. Stay in line, stay out of trouble, turn in your assignments no matter how awful they may be, and next fall you will be someone else's problem.
With labs, I had the same attitude. I had read the textbook; I knew the FACTS, I didn't have to do all of the boring tinker toy stuff so that I would BELIEVE; I was perfectly happy to take the details on faith. And besides (influenced, no doubt, by this attitude), the labs usually didn't go right anyway. And then there were the thrice-damned reports, which always began with the idiotic words, "To prove..." We weren't proving ANYTHING, and we knew it. Sometimes the results matched the textbook, usually they didn't, no one really cared, just give me the damned test, I'll get an "A" on it, and we can stop bothering each other.
There are two things that instructors could have done to help (never solve; I was pretty much beyond that) with my problem. The first was to replace the stupid word "prove" with the much more accurate "demonstrate", because that is what we were actually trying to do, and I had an irrational hang up with verbal honesty in those days. The second was to say (admit) that we were not in the lab to LEARN chemistry, or biology, or physics; we were in the lab to learn lab techniques. Because someday, maybe, we just might find ourselves in a situation where we were dealing with real unknowns (or possibly industrial produciton work) where being able to do the process and get the right answer would matter.
Nobody ever said that.
Life goes on.
|Wednesday, June 29th, 2016|
|Nikki, Happiness, Friends, Doom, Expanse, Amanda, Algebra
Random Bits from Facebook:
Nikki: COMPLIMENT CHALLENGE comment your name and Imma tell you something that I like about you! Best challenge yet! We need positive energy in our lives.
Hyena: Sure, I 'll play. Uncle Hyena.
Nikki: You're one of my favorite people ever-- a rare anchor I trust thoroughly.
A statement from my wife, which is relevant to the "Happiness" thread in this group of a few days ago.
"You can't 'make' me happy; happiness is the mean to which I regress."
Life in my household:
Hyena: So a woman goes to her female friends... a woman who is not you, who HAS female friends...
Dementia: Hey, I talk to Sue two or three times a year... at a party... that she is hosting... with a house full of other people...
Said in my household:
Dementia: What do you think of Dr. Doom?
Hyena: Graphically, pretty cool. Classic Jack Kirby. As a character... If Hans Gruber is a ten, and Snidely Whiplash is a one... Doom is a two or a three.
Catching up on recorded television, finally running "The Expanse" from last winter. The story takes a LONG time to get going, and drags a bit, but it still makes me nostalgic for the old days of planetary science fiction. Case in point: Two characters are under fire and adrift in zero gee. One of them clips a tether to his partner, then kicks her straight into the black. HE sails back to a handhold and snatches it just as the tether comes taut, and holds on tight while his partner rebounds to him. Slicker and more accurate than ANYTHING in "Gravity"...
Amanda W. is one of my more senior adopted nieces, one of several associated with IMSA and Makoto (an odd juxtaposition only if you weren't there). She is an MIT grad, a robotics guru, and generally fierce and terrible. The following is from a post about her path, as a female, to becoming an uber-geek.
"I did not get a boost specifically towards engineering from going to SciFi conventions as a teenager, but I got huge amounts of encouragement and support towards being a self-determined human. Paul Haynie was one of my utterly terrifying Uncles who was a WONDERFUL influence. And he still is, from afar."
Every now and then, apparently, I do something right...
I am very close to being topped out in algebra, and it makes me unhappy. Concepts are still simple enough, but I am rubbish at factoring polynomials, and that weakness is getting in my way more and more as I advance. Unfortunately, to get better at factoring polynomials, I have to memorize a list of complex identities, and I am not sure that I CAN. It isn't just that the memorization is unpleasant and boring (which it very much IS), it is that my mildly dyslexic brain simply is not capable of keeping fiddly, semi-random forty character strings straight. FRUSTRATED.
|Dory, Independence, Shallows, Tampier, Repair, Trees, Frustration
Eight moderately busy days later, three movies, some rowing, and various sort of hard work.
"Finding Dory" is a significantly inferior sequel to an upper mediocre talking fish movie. It sort of almost developed a soul by the end. Almost. Sort of.
"Independence Day: Resurgence" is terrible science fiction; it even manages to be embarrassing by the standards of space opera. But it is also about courage and loyalty and friendship, and manages to work at an emotional level even if it is painfully stupid.
"The Shallows" is a mediocre horror movie that features Blake Lively in a bikini in nearly every scene. Depending on your tastes, this may be worth the price of admission.
On the 21st I went down to visit my father, and the headed over to Tampier Lake to wait out the traffic. Along the way, I found the source of the awful cracking noise from the previous Friday at Busse Lake: I had managed to break one of the gunwales. I limped the boat through more than three miles anyway. The next day I stripped off the outriggers, added reinforcements to both gunwales, and put it all back together. We shall see.
Fresh off an afternoon of boat repair, I spent the following afternoon cutting down two trees that REALLY needed to come down, disposed of a dead tree that I haven't gotten to in about two years, and cleared away more of a brush pile that has been building for years.
One of my goals for this year is to row the perimeter of Geneva Lake in one day. I need low winds, no precipitation, and NOT a weekend. This doesn't happen very often. The forecast for the 29th looked perfect, and kept looking perfect. On the 28th, I packed up everything I needed and went to bed early. On the 29th, I got up early, did the last minute prep, and then whimpered and wailed when the car wouldn't start. The car had to be towed away. Still don't know what the butcher's bill on THAT is going to be...
|Tuesday, June 21st, 2016|
|Intelligence, Busse, Ernie
One movie, various misadventures.
"Central Intelligence" is a comedy with an odd twist: The comedian (Kevin Hart) is the straight man, and the other guy (Dwayne Johnson) is the goofball. It works surprisingly well, and this coming from someone who fundamentally does not LIKE comedies. The pacing was uneven, and the characters were in some cases broken (from a literary standpoint; broken people oftem make great characters), but in the end, it WORKED. It also played a bit with the Mary McCarthy quote, "We are the hero of our own story." More of that in another post.
So... Friday, after much dithering, I managed to get out of the house, en route to Palos to visit my father. The idea was that, after he went to supper, I would head over to Tampier Lake and go rowing to wait out the traffic. Except the traffic messed things up; by the time I got to O'Hare it was obvious that I wouldn't even get to Palos before my dad went to supper, so I aborted the journey and went rowing at Busse Lake instead. I haven't been there since 2007, with Valkyrie, so this was the first time under oars. It's a cool place.
Saturday disappeared into mist, mostly. Sunday, I was supposed to visit Ernie G. for gaming and barbecue. Except... The couple from Sheboygan who proposed the gathering never showed, nor did anyone else. Ernie and I sat around and told lies for a while, then headed to Lake Geneva Games, found little, then went up to the Elkhorn Pizza Ranch for the monthly SLAG gathering. Ended up playing two games: "Mogul", a mostly abstract bidding game with a REALLY thin layer of railroad trappings, and "Evolution", a 2014 release that would seem to have a good chance of being the next "Settlers". The game is simple to learn, deep, of a reasonable length, and amusing. Good times.
|Thursday, June 16th, 2016|
|See, Warcraft, Rend, Paul
Ten days. Two movies, a messabout, a conversational meal, and general carrying on.
"Now You See Me 2" is about half the movie its predecessor was, and the predecessor wasn't that great in the first place. This movie assumes that the audience is REALLY familiar with the earlier film, as in, "Watched it in the last week in preparation" familiar. I understand that audiences don't like infodumps, but audiences like repeatedly wondering what is going on even less. The one bright spot was the addition of the ever-entertaining Lizzy Caplan to make up for the departure of Isla Fisher. I like Fisher a great deal, but I like Caplan better in pretty much any case.
"Warcraft: The Beginning" is a first rate fantasy movie, and also a paradox. If it weren't for the video game, this movie would never have been made, but the very video game roots that made the movie possible also limit it. The movie strives (successfully) to be faithful to the visual style of the game, but that same distinctive visual style adds an aura of unreality that hampers the audience's ability to suspend its disbelief. Yes, the plot is busy and convoluted, and relies heavily on cliche and stereotype of get its story told, but in the end, the story DOES get told. And anytime a story about courage and honor and loyalty and friendship gets told well, we all win.
Went down to Rend Lake over the weekend for the annual Michalak Messabout, did about five miles in the canoe, and swapped lies around a campfire. Good times.
Got together with pseudo-nephew Paul G. for a conversational meal on Wednesday night, and usual madness transpired. I am amused (if that is the word) that, though he is not quite half my age, he is more cynical about the fate of the planet than I am. (By the way: If you are reading this, I would love to have a conversation meal with you, too. Contact me; we'll work something out.)