Uncle Hyena (unclehyena) wrote,
Uncle Hyena
unclehyena

Random Bits from Facebook

December 1
So... I was GOING to get five KM on the rowing machine every day in December. Got the machine set up, logged about 1.5 km, and the main seam on the water tank broke and the machine started spraying water all over the living room. Manufacturer contacted, repair kit on the way, tank drained, all good for now. But I am going to be a LONG way in the hole once things start working again...

December 3:
An elaboration on an old joke:

Let me introduce the Barr brothers:

Eldest brother Remus (goes by Ree) is a fixer; he talks fast, and thinks faster. He's always on the lookout for an angle that other people have missed, and often finds one.

Middle brother Priam (goes by Pry) is a lawyer. He isn't as fast on his feet as Ree, but he's probably smarter, and a lot better at dealing with fine details. His morals are at least as hazy as Ree's, but he's a lot more careful.

Youngest brother Festus (Festus Ulysses, goes by Foo) is much smarter than people give him credit for, but he is also big and tough and has a natural affinity for chaotic solutions. He enjoys getting into situations that make his brothers nervous, but he is also utterly loyal to them.

December 3:
I loved Douglas Adams' "Dirk Gently" books. They were at base Trickster tales, and I am a sucker for such. And I love Adams anyway. Lately I have come across two adaptations of the character - one in comics (bad), the other on BBC television(pretty good) - that seem to based on very different books than the ones I read. I remember Dirk as a con man who yammered about the interconnectedness of everything not because he believed it, but because it was a good scam. He was also highly intelligent and open minded at a questionably sane level, which made him able to deal with REALLY bizarre situations. Both of the recent adaptation portray Dirk as a true believer who is largely out of touch with everything around him. It's baffling, and a little disturbing.

December 4:
Hit the "First Sunday Game Day" up at Lake Geneva Games today, played a two handed version of a recently released mega-game, Scythe. It's a very pretty game, full of interesting bits. I enjoyed playing, but I wonder more and more, with these enormous, well balanced games, if I wouldn't have more fun swapping lies with the other players rather than actually playing the game.

Deceber 5:
Dredged from 2011:
Bad things happen to songs that get stuck in my head when I am in a bad mood (and I realize that I am usually in a bad mood, lately). Still, I am rather proud of the effort it took to make the scansion work on the following bit of idiocy:

God bless the master of this house,
The mistress bless also,
And all the contraceptive errors
That round the table go.

December 5:
Just found out that Ken O., who was my roommate for two years at Wheaton, had a stroke and died on Friday. We had moved apart after I left Wheaton; I attended his wedding in (I think) 1978, and had only seen him a few times since then. He was a few months younger than I am, and we had known each other since infancy.

Silliness: When we were somewhere in the 10 to 12 range, I bet Ken five dollars that he would have a girlfriend before his 16th birthday. I lost by about six weeks, but never got around to paying up until his wedding reception. I had to leave early, so I gave a five dollar bill to the best man and told him to give it to Ken (who, as it happened, married the SECOND girl he ever dated) and say it was in payment of an old gambling dept. I am told Ken got a good laugh out of that.

I can't say I will miss him; he has not been a part of my life for a long time. But he was a good man, and his passing leaves a hole in the world.

December 6:
Firearm geekery: Watching "Timeless", a mediocre time travel drama that we haven't quite given up on. The current episode deals with Bonnie and Clyde, and when the shooting starts, there are plenty of Thompsons in evidence, but Clyde is shooting a BAR. Which WAS Clyde's weapon of choice, but you don't see it that way on film too often.
And a little bit of additional firearm geekery, that I just discovered: The initial production of the Thompson SMG was 15,000 units in 1921, and while they were modified over the years, very few new guns were produced until WWII production began in the late 30s. In contrast, there were over 100,000 BARs loose in the world by the end of 1919...

December 6:
I was bored while waiting in the checkout line. Behind me was a mother-daughter pair; Daughter was 20-ish, Mother likely mid-40s. Daughter was wearing a Fright Fest shirt; I could work with that.

"You worked Fright Fest?" I asked; Daughter said yes. "Ever meet Nox, the Demon Lord?" She replied that, Yes, she had run into him a couple of times, thought he was really cool. "I know him," I said. "He's married to one of my adopted neices." I proceeded to say a few nice things about Mark L,. the man behind Nox, including that he had just posted his acting resume, made up as a D&D character sheet. Daughter thought that was cool, too.

I went on to tell of my experience as a house monster, back in the long ago, and Daughter told me about going through a fast food drive through in full zombie make-up. This led, somehow, to a Harley Quin reference by her, which led to me telling the story of how a sort of accidental radio interview with Mark Hamill turned into forty-five minutes with Harley and Mister J.

Beats hell out of being bored...

December 7:
Yesterday, I spent half an hour listening to a presentation on the value and techniques of professional networking. I did not scream. I did not protest. I did not even express skepticism. It HURT.

I have been running into this a great deal, lately. It ALWAYS hurts. It isn't just that I find professional networking distasteful; I do all sorts of things I find distasteful every day. The problem is that I find the concept fundamentally immoral.

As I see it, cultivating a relationship with another person for the sole purpose of furthering your career is morally identical to cultivating a relationship with another person for the sole purpose of getting that person into bed.

I understand that my attitude is far from universal, and that this behavior is considered acceptable in our society. It is even close to being necessary. But that doesn't change my moral structure, or make me any less unhappy.

December 8:
Can anybody tell me how or where the current (moronic, he said, telegraphing his attitude on the subject) war against adverbs got started? There is no question that excessive use of adverbs will cripple a piece, but excessive use of anything (even parentheticals!) will cripple a piece. ADVERBS HAVE THEIR PLACE.

Consider the following:

1) "You shall not pass!" Gandalf said adamantly.

2) "You shall not pass!" Gandalf said, adamant.

3) "You shall not pass!" Gandalf said adamant.

Now, it can certainly be argued that the sentence would be better if it simply ended with "said", but this will not ALWAYS be true. Given that some modifier is wanted, though, there is no question that the first choice is better written than the second, UNLESS the writer is subject to an irrational compulstion to avoid adverbs at all costs. The third, of course, is just WRONG, but writers who are sufficiently confused to produce the second sometimes slide right on into the third.

I have been seeing option two in fiction far too often, lately, and it has become clear that someone of influence has declared war on adverbs, and is teaching this idiocy. Does anyone in the gallery know who or why?

December 8:
So... The WaterRower started leaking on December 1, frustrating my plan to get in 5 km (about 25 minutes) of rowing every day this month. Drained the tank and called the manufacturer immediately, got the repair kit on Tuesday, repaired the tank yesterday, filled it this morning, and just finished doing 8 km in a little over 40 minutes, so the original goal of 155 km for the month is still in reach. Go me.

For the record, 4 km in 20 minutes on the machine is somewhat more strenuous than 1 mile in 20 minutes in the real world. I think. I am a bit out of shape since the summer.

December 9:
And today's historical trivia: England created its first baronets during the reign of Edward III, per Wikipedia. It is a hereditary non-noble title between knight and baron. Wikipedia does not infer that it is a derivative/ evolution/ corruption of "bannerette", which was the highest order of knighthood, just short of being a baron, which existed at about the same time. Hmmm.

December 12:
I am always kinda-sorta on the lookout for new canoe expeditions, and I think I have just found one. It turns out that about two miles downstream of the I275 bridge across the Ohio River, just west of Cincinnati, there is a rusting hulk in Taylor Creek on the Kentucky side of the river. The local kyakers call her "The Ghost Ship."

She was beautiful once. She came into the world as "Celt", a 186 foot clipper bowed fantail steam yacht. She changed hands and was renamed "Sachem", was pulled into the US Navy and hunted submaries during WWI, then went back into private hands after the war; she was refitted for diesel and did a stint as a gamefishing boat. Back into the Navy as "USS Phenakite" in WWII, first as a sub chaser, then as a sonar lab. Back into private hands and a stint as a New York Harbor tour boat, first as the "Sightseer", and later as "Circle Line V". She left active service in 1983.

In 1986 she was partially refitted and sailed through the Great Lakes to the Mississippi (which must have included Chicago along the way), then up the Ohio to her current resting place and dereliction.

There are a fair number of small to medium logisical challenges involved in actually meeting this particular lady in person, but as of now I really WANT to meet her...

December 13:
My friend Jack S. had a stroke on November 26. He made it through a high risk surgery, was doing well, was expected to make a full recovery. And now he is dead, from pneumonia that developed as a complication of the stroke and its treatment.

He was a great guy; quirky, quick to laugh, generous to a fault. Recently married, happy. The world is diminished by his passing.

(Yeah, this is the second friend in ten days.)

December 15:
Once upon a time, about 45 years ago, I went over to my friend Tony E's house and found him working on a puzzle called "Plato's Plight". It seemed that his younger brother had seen the puzzle and had torn it apart, and then couldn't get it back together again. A search of the trash turned up a part of the package which held a photograph of part of the completed puzzle. Tony was trying to figure out what it was, and how it went pack together. I spent some time with it, determined that it must be a dodecahedron (and this was before D&D made dodecahedrons common geek currency, remember), and was able to reassemble the thing. Along the way I also solved the Lesser Puzzle, which involved getting the caged ball out without disconnecting any of the elements. It was a good night.

I later bought a copy of my own, which was destroyed by someone trying to use brute force to solve the Lesser Puzzle. And a while after that, I bought ANOTHER copy, which I still have. Got it down the other night and dismantled it, gave it the cleaning it needed, and reassembled it.

This is the kind of stuff that goes on in my brain...
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