Saturday, May 23, 2015

Bad Logic, Slanted News

    The lede in the TV news story is, "Lower gas prices are making it harder to repair failing highway bridges."  (Oddly, other reports tell us gas prices are going up!) The story goes on to explain that with Federal gasoline taxes at 21 cents on the gallon, poor old Uncle Sam can't afford to hire repairs.

     That may be true -- but lower gas prices mean people are likely to drive more, and since the tax is per gallon rather than per dollar, the Feds stand to make more. 

     The news story goes on to imply that the Federal gas tax needs to be increased, with various sources calling for increases from smallish to onerous -- but "not as much tax income as the Feds say they need" is not the same as "low gas prices." 

     The end result is a news story sneakily in favor of increasing your gasoline taxes.  Maybe they should go up; the story certainly had plenty of examples of bridges falling apart, and claimed this was due to insufficient funds.  But it was inherently misleading and appallingly ignorant.

     Also, why there aren't more Federal toll roads?  And remind me again why the low-income guy tootling along city streets on a 49cc scooter needs to help pay for my occasional freeway travel?  If we're gonna pay to keep the roads fixed, let's pay to use them, not to burn gasoline and diesel.

Friday, May 22, 2015


Spaceship parts?
     Naw -- not on a block wall.  ...Unless it's in the blockhouse?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Locked Out!

     It happened yesterday morning when I left for work. I knew I'd done it as soon as the back door clicked shut.  I had made a quick bicycle ride to the supermarket the previous evening and had transferred pocketbook, cellphone and keys to a smaller purse for the trip.  The phone, I'd got.  The other two items?  Still in that purse, still on my bedroom desk.

     Ordinarily, it wouldn't be a problem.  Tap on a window 'til Tam came to see what was the matter.  But she'd left on a day-long trip to the Greater Cincinnati area a half-hour before.  The back yard is fully fenced: I was trapped!

     Well, almost trapped.  I had my car key and garage opener.  I'd even packed a nice lunch.  And I work for a living, which means I wear Carhartts or jeans; so I climbed the fence, opened the garage door, and nipped through to the person-sized door that opens into the back yard -- the door which, as it turned out, which Tam had helpfully left unlocked.

     Called our local locksmith on my way to work and arranged for them to call me when they had a guy in the area in the afternoon.

The Uncooperative Locks: A Short Drama

     (Opens in black, fade up on A Locksmith, working on the back door with his picks and muttering--)

     A Locksmith: "The other locks were easy, but this inner one, it's real loose.  The pins won't stay-- Nope.  Keyed alike, is it?  I'll just make up a key to fit the other two." 

     (Fade to black, with sounds of metal being cut; fade up on A Locksmith, trying three very slightly different keys.)

     A Locksmith: "That's funny.  It works the other two locks and the one on the garage.  Aha!  Oh, nope."

     Helpful Homeowner: "We could try the front door, maybe?"

      (Fade to black, fade up to image of a clock with the hands spinning,  fade to shot of A Locksmith and Helpful Homeowner at front door.  A Locksmith is holind four keys in one hand while trying a fifth one on the main door lock.)

     A Locksmith: "It didn't pick any better then the other one, but this key -- I started oversize and I'm taking it down just a tiny bit every time-- Ow!"  (Key turns with a jolt, causing A Locksmith to jab himself with the other four fresh-made and quite sharp keys.)

     Helpful Homeowner: "Don't open it!  I'll go through first.  Otherwise, that yellow cat who's been watching us in the window will be off like a shot.  Oh, by the way, how much do I owe you for this?"

     A Locksmith: [short, bitter laugh.] "Standard charge, sixty bucks."

     The End

     It took an hour and a half.  The locks here at Roseholme are old, but they're not easy to pick.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


     No, sign, the runaway children are not under the transformer!
     Nu-unh, not that one either.

     Had to wait for this big iron to cross the road last week.  Very slowly.  Which I found reassuring.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I Missed The Real Neon-Pink

     But I got a little of last night's sunset:
     It's always a bit of a dice-roll trying to get sunset pictures.  Your eye crops better than any shot can be framed on the lens or trimmed afterwards.

Monday, May 18, 2015

I'm All For Lean Government

     ...But not total lapses: I renewed my amateur radio license recently.  Any more, Uncle Sam doesn't print you up a nice new one on (what once was) anti-counterfeiting paper; you get a PDF file with "Reference Copy" over it in see-through gray, and that's okay.  Amateur licenses haven't had monetary-quality engraving in, like, almost forever, and not always the fancy paper, either.  I'm fine with that.

     But current-issue U.S. amateur radio licenses include a "wallet size" version, which you cut out and fold along a "Fold Here" line -- that is nowhere near the center of the thing!  The end result of following directions results in a size and shape that is not at all wallet-sized.  Folding at the actual center makes it about the right size and doesn't obscure or distort any of the information.  Apparently on some updating, the fold line was moved to clear the form number and last revision date, presently "FCC 660 - May 2007."  No one noticed until it was already Official, and then it was too late.

     Ham operators are, of course, just folding them in the middle at the "wrong" place and moving on -- if they bother with it at all.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Along About Noon Sunday

     I finally got to feeling better.  So there is that.  Got to the grocery and the five-and-dime, and there's my weekend. 

     Could wallow in self-pity, but on the other hand, my saved-up "Dayton money" is all but untouched.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Not Today, Either

     Got up, got to moving around, got to hurting, etc.  Back to bed.  Doc later, if I can nerve up -- last time was around $2K out of pocket and at rates like that, well, "Tincture of Time" looks like a darned attractive medication.

No Hamvention Friday

     Maybe today.  Yesterday, I got halfway, realized I was not going to make it, turned back and slept for fifteen hours, waking a few times for the necessary.

     "Too soon old.  Too late smart."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Dayton Hamvention, I Dunno

     Having carefully got my schedule arranged so I can can go to the Hamvention -- a huge amateur radio swapmeet in Dayton, Ohio this coming weekend -- now I'm not sure if I'll be able to go.  Still hoping, but it depends on what my health does over the next 24-some hours.

     Either way, this may be my last year for driving to and from the day of.  It's been just barely possible for me but it's becoming more difficult.  For years, I have taken along just enough to be able to overnight at the closest available motel (probably Richmond, IN -- there's nothing in Dayton that weekend.  Hams reserve rooms a year or more in advance!).  Having a room and doing most of the driving the day before and the day after is looking better and better.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"The Name Is Moore...Gordon Moore."

     Today, Moore's Law is 33554432 times as large as when it was first formulated.  Eventually, it will be larger than the entire universe. This will be Moore's Dualarity.


     It still counts if you wait until "day of" to pay your Internet bill, right?  Right!  But if it hadn't been a little hinky this morning, I might not have checked.  It's inconvenient for me if the bits stop -- for Tam, it's a disaster.  So in the interest of not bein' hunted down like an animal, I do try to keep it paid.

     Been having kidney-stone-type trouble, the bilateral back pain from last time (and, in hindsight, this is the same thing that had me questioning my mattress some months ago) plus other symptoms best not described.  Much ouch, plus the ticking-bomb wondering if it will ramp up to the same kind of agony that it has reached twice before.  It's...bothersome.