From the Dredge. Sharing mostly because I didn't start archiving Facebook posts until 2017, and this one deserves to be archived.
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...
So yesterday I proved experimentally that the 2020 Six Flags season pass that I never used because of the Plague is still good through the 2021 season. I would have ridden the carousel if it hadn't been in a temporary time out when I was standing there considering it. So now I have somewhere to go when my feet get itchy. Except that that usually happens at about 1:00 AM. Ah, well.
Gobbledygook, Part Two:
So the idea of doing a Icosa-Dodeca-Triacontal Tensegrity Sculpture is kind of stuck in my head. This time around, I am thinking of something about half the size of the previous one, so it would fit in a room with a normal ceiling. Design thoughts continue.
The image shows the Skeletal Steel Sphere, itself a study for the previous, larger sculpture, with the struts for the Icosahedral Tensegrity indicated with rubber bands. It's not obvious, but it's really wonderfully symmetrical: Three pairs of parallels. I still haven't determined if it could be built with only six pieces of edge rope; that's probably the next puzzle.
From the Dredge. A good story, but also not heretofore in my archive.
Yesterday was the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, so this story is a day late. Sort of.
Many years ago, I was visiting Clueless Tom in Indianapolis, and we went to a gaming night at Ball State in Muncie. The game of the night was an SPI mega-game called "Wellington's Victory" which recreated Waterloo at some absurd scale; the game covered a ping pong table and had thousands of counters. My late friend Kurt Lortz was the French leader; his opposite number was a fellow named Bob whose normal gaming tactic was to play the historical winner and try to duplicate the historical tactics.
Kurt picked me out as the most saavy of the non-participants and handed me the rules. "Read the victory conditions," he said. "Tell me what you see." I read, blinked, re-read, and said, "There is nothing here that rewards French aggression. It assumes that the French will attack, and the English will defend, but doesn't reward that." Kurt smiled broadly. "Exactly."
When Kurt didn't charge into the English position, Bob was flustered, and then charged the French. It that particular alternate reality, they are speaking French in London these days...
Here's to you, Kurt. Mucko Hee!
This was in the Facebook Dredge this morning, but I didn't want to just share it, since it contained a spelling error. But I DID want to get it properly archived.
Garbage etymology of the day:
Ap- prefix meaning "farthest", as in apogee or aphelion.
-logos, root meaning "word", as in all sorts of things.
Therefore, an "apology" is actually the furthest thing from what you really WANT to say...
Once more, with feeling:
Once upon a long ago, there was a Christian rock group called "Love Song" that was hugely popular on the appropriate circuit. They cut two albums, and then the front man went solo. During my incarceration at Wheaton College, "Love Song Minus Chuck" did a concert. They called themselves, "A Wing and a Prayer".
The guy who opened for them played the piano and sang, and one of the songs he did, with appropriate introduction, was the ORIGINAL "Wing and a Prayer" from 1943. He gave it the lonely, forlorn performance the song deserves. The chorus STAYED with me; at any time since then, I have ALWAYS been able to reproduce it, and my voice almost always breaks. The image is just that haunting: A twin-engined bomber, homeward bound and hurt badly, crossing the English channel and reporting that they were going to be just a LITTLE bit late.
I don't know if that performer rewrote the lyrics, or if my brain just refused to hold onto the rest of the song, because it was kind of offensively dumb. The lyric I remember, and that bit of melody, are definitely part of the original song. But the song as a whole is happy and bouncy and overproduced and, well, dumb. But it was also very typical of the sort of morale booster that was popular at that point in time.
It turns out that the first documented use of the phrase is in a John Wayne movie, "Flying Tigers." But it is used idiomatically, and was certainly in use before that. (And then there is the context in which I have heard the phrase most often, as part of the theme song to "Greatest American Hero.")
None of that matters. *I* still hear that B-25 radio operator letting his base know that they are hurt bad, but they're still flying, and they are still doing everything they can to make it home.
"Coming in on a wing and a prayer; coming in on a wing and a prayer. We've got one engine gone, but we'll still carry on; coming in on a wing and a prayer."
Esoterica of the Oars:
Something that has rattled around in my head for years now, and never seems to get out, and should be SOMEWHERE.
I have spent several dozen hours rowing a fixed seat canoe, and at least as many on a rowing machine, experimenting between fixed seat and sliding seat modes, and I have done a fair amount of research. Here is stuff that I have learned.
The BIG difference between fixed and sliding seat is NOT that sliding seat is more efficient; it's not. It does have a much wider effective power band, though. The human engine has a nominal sustained output of about 75 watts, and a maximum burst output of over a thousand watts. The length of the burst varies a great deal with condition; I have sustained 1100 watts for 15 seconds within the last decade; a cyclist named Eddie Meryx once sustained 750 watts for a full hour. Fixed seat and sliding seat have pretty much the same efficiencies through at least 100 watts, and then fixed seat starts to fall behind.
What this means is that in the standard 2000 meter race, sliding seat wins hands down. If you are doing an expedition, though, where your energy reserves have to be maintained for hours at a time, there is no real difference. The same goes for race oriented practices like feathering your oars and crossing your hands; they give you small energy efficiencies in the short term, and in the long term they amount to next to nothing.
I am really happy with my fixed seat, non-feathering, forward-facing rig. It lets me relax my hands on every single recovery stroke (which my moderately defective hands NEED), and use odd seating positions (my favorite is with one foot in the center of the footboard, and the other tucked underneath me, which has no drawbacks for expedition rowing).
(Written because a young woman, Ellen Falterman, completed this year's Texas 200 in a 17 foot rowing canoe, and I REALLY want to get out on the water and roll Suchia's odometer past the 300 mile mark (it's stuck at 295), and I am not sure I will be able to get the canoe on and off the van this year.)
We are not big fans of TV comedy. We hear about "must watch" new shows starring people we like, and we watch two or three episodes, and then quit. There are a few exceptions, but mostly we don't even bother. Tonight, though, we hunted down a new BBC show called "We are Lady Parts" about five London-based Muslim women who make up a punk band. It is every bit as deranged as that sounds. The two central characters are also as real as anyone who has ever been on TV, and the show is FUNNY. There are only six episodes, so we watched the whole thing tonight, and I have not laughed this much at the box in... years, probably. Highly recommended.
This morning I filled a hole in my education by finishing Abbott's "Flatland", something I should have read long ago but never got around to. It was published in 1884, and it is written in painfully excessive late Victorian prose. It also flogs the skin right off its local dead horse. Having said that, though, there is amazing cleverness at the core of the book, and it deserves its place in the pantheon.
Some books are simply better in summary than in experience, and this is definitely one of them. But the summary is absolutely worth reading.
I have been dragging my feet about buying a season pass to the Ren Faire this year. It's a fairly large piece of change, and money is tight. I look around my intra-cranial landscape, and I read my journal entries from 2016 and 2019, and I tell myself that I NEED this-- and then another voice starts reminding me about trivial things like food, clothing, and shelter.
I am definitely something of a hoarder. It's kind of inevitable when the pleasure of acquiring a kind-of-wonderful thing exceeds the pain of getting rid of it. But last week, I learned that a small stack of books that I manifestly do not want had a bit of collectability, and yesterday I sold them. And now I have most of the price of the Ren Faire ticket in my pocket. This is a VERY good thing...
It just hurts...
Watching "The Irregulars", an oddball Sherlock Holmes adjacent paranormal show. Mycroft Holmes just said, "magus" with a soft "G". Several times. It is possible that this is a Britishism of which I was unaware. By the end of the scene I was writhing on the floor...