Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wash Update

So it's been 3 1/2 months since we picked up our newest family member.

Tomorrow is Wash's chosen birthday. He's approximately a year old, and the vet assistant and I chose April Fool's Day for his birthday because, well, he ended up being quite the joke on his initial owner.

As far as we can tell, Wash's original owner bred together four of the "toughest" breeds looking for the ultimate fight/guard dog. Evidently he though that the mix of Doberman, Rottweiler, Pitbull, and German Shepherd would yield a tough-as-nails aggressive dog.

Well, Wash is tough - physically. Mentally and emotionally, he's a creampuff. Natural pack status? Beta. Aggression level? Slightly above zilch, as in he only growls when his food is in danger. Oh, and that famous Doberman aloofness - nonexistent. Every human is his friend and more hands to pet him.

Turns out the top guard breeds were all top family breeds at times for a reason.

He is, however, one hell of an alert dog. His hearing is amazing, and so is his alertness. His bark also demands attention, and he doesn't cry wolf.

The timid, wary, scared dog we initially brought home in December is no longer. What Wash needed was a pack, and that is what he got. Between our big boy Jayne and Wash's BFF Zoe (seriously they're inseparable) he's got his doggie life sorted out and he has humans to protect and love.

The flat black coat he arrived with is nice and glossy (my phone actually thinks it's blue) and his coat has grown in so the shotgun scars are no longer visible. He's also gained a good 30lbs and some muscle tone. He is one happy puppy.

He has some rather idiosyncratic traits as well. He will sit at your feet very patiently with his puppy eyes waiting for you to give the go-ahead, then will pop up on his back feet for hugs. Somehow he manages to do this without putting any real weight on his human.

His ears also move a full 90 degrees between fully horizontal and fully vertical. Seriously.

His ears go from here:

To here:

Oh, and he's just a little bit cuddly:

We are very happy with our newest pack member.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ummm... Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Ok, yeah, Gagas schtick is "catchy and kinda fucked up", but... damn...

Diggin the Tarantinisms there though.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Snap Crackle Breathe

Chris has bronchial pneumonia. I.E. both inflamed bronchial tubes, and VERY mild pneumonia.

Chris has both dry and wet coughs, is going snap crackle pop when he breathes deeply, and is coughing up gross crap several times a day.

Chris is not happy about this.

Let me be clear, this is VERY mild, secondary, viral pneumonia. Nothing dangerous. Not bacterial, not serious, just unpleasant (yes, I know some of my family members read this).

It's alright. Nothing life threatening. Just a bit of secondary viral infection from not resting enough while I had an upper respiratory infection; and then pushing too hard when I KNEW I was sick the last two weeks.

Yes, I did it to myself. Yes I rested, but it wasn't enough. The stress of moving while being sick, suppressing how sick I was with OTC medications, combined with not sleeping well for two weeks etc... etc...

Anyway, the primary infection is over and gone, the fever is over with, it's just the coughing up gross stuff phase, and that's probably going to go on another week or so.


In the mean time, we have a lovely wood burning stove/fireplace (it's one of those hybrid models that's kinda both), and I've got a comfy couch, mucinex, a steam inhaler (what comes out after using it is unpleasant, but it makes my lungs feel better for a couple hours afterwards), and an urgent care clinic and ER two and four miles away respectively.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rest In Peace General

General Lew Allen Jr. former chief of staff of the United States Air Force, was laid to rest Monday at Arlington.

Allen was Chief of Staff long before my time in the Air Force, I never served under him, I never knew him... but he was an inspiration to everyone in engineering, ordnance, special weapons, special projects, space, satellites, and intel.

Lew Allen was a scientist, and an intelligence officer... eventually in fact, one of this nations HIGHEST intelligence officers. Unlike most in either the engineering and science career fields, or the intelligence career fields, Allen actually had a pretty damned impressive career.

That's a big deal.

If you haven't served in the Air Force, maybe it doesn't sound like much; but you have to understand, in the AF there's rated personnel (pilots and aircrew), and there's "everybody else". In general, the chances of non-rated officers at major command slots, decent career advancement, or even the ability to get interesting jobs past field grade... You can just about forget it.

There are only so many senior roles that aren't straight up administration and logistics, and for the most part, they go to rated personnel with major flying command experience. They most definitely do NOT go to sparkies, nukees, or intel weenies.

Lew Allen was all three, and he made it to director of the NSA, and then to Chief of Staff (though Allen WAS rated. He was a command pilot, but he never held a flying command). After that, he was the director of JPL for almost 10 years.

Allen had probably the best career as an engineer the Air Force could provide. He did it well, and with honor; at a time when military service in this country had become very difficult.

Blue Skies General.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Not Quite Back yet

We're still unpacking here... Will be for a while I'm sure, but in particular, at the moment we don't have anything but the basics sorted.

Added to that, we're both still sick.

Moving is draining, physically, emotionally, temporally, and financially (ooohhh boy has this been WAY more expensive than planned... several thousand dollars more expensive than planned and we 'aint done yet).

Too draining for blogging to resume quite yet. Lots of stuff to blog about, lots of stuff written or partially formed... just need a couple more days to sort things out before we're ready to really blog again.

So watch this space for content in the near future.

Friday, March 19, 2010


The trailer dug it's own 14" deep rut; but once we got it unloaded (yes, we payed local workmen to do it), it pulled free no problem.

It is now in it's safe, and semi permanent home.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Just one of those weeks

Yes, that's my trailer, sunk down to the frame rails on the passenger side, in the hidden, foot deep soft mud at the edge of my driveway.

Unfortunately, while my truck has the power to pull it out, even with 1000lbs of stuff in the bed; what it doesn't have is enough traction. Putting it into 4 low just dug 4 neat holes in my driveway.

The mud is covered by solid thatch, and to all appearances was good ground; but it dug in immediately the second the wheels went over the verge. I was able to drag it free about two feet before it bogged in and that was it.

It's still fully loaded, so what were going to do, is dig it out enough to unload it, then dig under and board the wheels, and try to drag it free when it's empty.

Otherwise imna have to winch the thing free; and god knows I don't want to do that... Hell, I'm not sure if it CAN be winched free without twisting the frame.

Oh well... Just another moving issue to deal with.

Idaho, We Are Here

Two days late by plan, and after a grand total of 31 hours of driving and/or idling (we spent a fair bit of time idling by the side of the road unfortunately), and 54 hours grand total (the last 18 of which we spent driving and/or idling by the side of the road)... WE HAVE ARRIVED AT OUR NEW HOME.

Because of the heavy, and not necessarily very stable trailer; I did all the driving this time (which is why we only stopped after three hours the first night. After a long day, I was too tired, and in too much pain to continue).

Yesterday... well, I was certainly too much pain, having had to deal with three tires blowing on two occaisons, including two just 3.5 miles from home (still dealing with that one actually), and god knows I was tired; but I was also wired, and we made the full 18 hour haul (including the time spent dealing with the blowouts) in one long go.

In the process we drove through five states; and Idaho twice (leaving Idaho to travel through Montana, and back in to Idaho) because there is no good way to get to Sandpoint from Pocatello by road, without leaving the state.

It was a total of just under 1600 miles, including a few side trips. I havent run the numbers in detail yet, but we burned about 140 gallons of diesel, at an average of right about $3 a gallon.

Amazingly enough, not only did the dogs behave themselves for the most part; but they had a grand old time... and so far they love the new place (there are DUCKS to chase!!!!).

Now, onto the REALLY hard part... Unpacking.

God help us...

So damn close

Were 2.5 miles from home, but we cant get there, because of this:

Yes, seriously, another blowout; and this one took the brand new tire we put on this morning with it.

No joke, were 5 minutes from the new house; but the sherrifs dept. cant find any 24 hour company with the right wheel and tire in stock, or with a wrecker and flatbed that can handle the trailer.

Plus, it's on the main commuter road for the area, sticking halfway into the lane because the shoulder was too soft for me to clear the road safely. So we can't just leave it til morning when we can get a new wheel and tire from an open place.

Were working with the sherrifs deputy now (who has been amazingly helpful, professional, kind, and understanding) to find a solution now.

Location:U.S. 95,Blanchard-Glengary,United States

Update: As of 1:45 am pacific, we made it to our new home; exhausted, irritated, overtired and wired, unable to sleep.

The Sherrifs Department (oh and if y'all end up reading this, thank you deputy - I won't identify his name unless he shows up and says OK, but he's very definitely one of the good guys) couldn't find a company with a wrecker big enough, or the right tires; but the deputy did have a suggestion:

The post office was maybe 100 yards away, and they had a layby parking lot that was out of the way. Since the wheels were trashed anyway, we checked the frame and axles for clearance (all good), then we VERY SLOWLY (in fact I shifted into 4 wheel low, since the road was wet, and I wanted low grunt for this job) pulled the trailer into the layby.

The deputy said that he would fix it with the post office so we weren't cited or towed in the morning; so we could get a new jack and two new wheels and tires out there.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Just lost 3 hours to this:

Location:Blackfoot,United States

I brought THREE jacks with me: a 12 ton high lift bottle jack, a 4.5 ton low profile high lift floor jack, and the normal screw jack that stows under the seat of the truck.

The bottle jack decided that it wouldn't take any load at all. Seems like a bad seal.

The floor jack work fine, until it was about 2/3 up to its full extension; when suddenly it wouldn't lift any more.

That's usually a symptom of a jack over its weight limit, but there is no way a 4.5 ton jack should be overloaded by a max 5 ton trailer (ok, lets say it's overloaded, and it's 6 tons instead of five... STILL).

The one that actually did the job, was the little screw jack that comes with my truck. In fact it worked perfectly, quickly, and easier than the floor jack... It weighs about 2 pounds, the floor jack weighs over 100...

The reasons it took 3 hours were threefold:
  1. I tried the floor and bottle jacks first, and NEITHER decided to work

  2. I didn't think the jack that came with my truck would WORK for something like this, so didn't try it until I had already workd a dozen different angles on the other two jacks

  3. I refuse to run without a spare, so we stopped by a tire shop off the next exit, and got one (which took about 45 minutes, including the time for the detour. The tire shop took 20 minutes to mount and balance the tire on our existing (and thankfully still good) rim.
I made a half joke after remounting the new spare on the trailer tongue "Now we're good, so long as we don't lose two at once"...

Idaho welcomes you

Location:50 N,Malad City,United States

862 Miles down, 694 Miles to go, and some numbers to run alongside

So, as of 2230 pacific time (we're running the trip on Pacific, since we are starting and ending on it) last night, we've made 862 miles, in 15.5 driving hours plus 2.5 hours of meal and gas stops.

Our driving average is 55mph; and excluding overnights, we're making a real average of about 49mph.

It's not so much that we're "taking our time", it's really a combination of three things:

1. the trailer prefers to be driven between 63 and 72mph. Below that and we're a gear low to keep in powerband (and yes, you need to keep in powerband when you're towing a heavy trailer) and the fuel economy goes to hell. Above that, and the trailer sways more than is prudent, and the fuel economy goes to hell.

2. We've transited several major urban areas, across Arizona, Nevada, and Utah; in ALL of which was extensive construction. Also, we were on a 55mph piece of road the entire time we were in CA (us 95), and it actually IS a 55mph road, with lots of tight curves, whoopdedos etc... (it would be nice on a motorcycle, at a leisurely pace).

3. We spent a lot of time on long and steep uphill grades. We've basically been climbing the entire time since we left Phoenix; climbing from Phoenixes 1200 or so feet, to Ogens 4300 or so feet, summiting around 6500 somewhere in south central Utah.

Once we hit the plateau in between the big passes in central Utah, we were able to maintain an almost 70mph average; and our fuel economy went up to 12.8mpg, our best at 70mph for the trip. Our best overall for the trip was 14.8, but that was on a flat, smooth stretch of highway with no stop and go, but traffic restricted to 60mph for about 100miles.

Our worst mileage for the trip so far is 8.4mpg, on several of the long, steep grades; where we were lucky if we could maintain 3rd gear.

Our normal unladen fuel economy is 16-18mpg around town, and through the mountains, and 21-24mpg highway (depending on how much we put the boot to it). So yeah, it's a big drop, but it's actually a lot better than most trucks would be (a gas truck hauling this same load would likely be 5-7mpg), and it's about what we figured on.

We're going to be on the road again shortly... After checking the load, the lugs on the trailer and the truck, tire pressures and topping fuel and fluids (which we do at every fuel stop. You don't mess around when towing heavy loads).

We've got 694 miles to go, no more major urban area (Pocatello, Idaho Falls, Butte, Missoula, and Couer D'Alene, none of which count as major) to transit, and only a couple major grades to deal with (coming out of dubois up to Butte, then into and out of Missoula, and through lookout pass over to Coeur D'Alene) we should be able to up the average quite a lot. I think we can maintain 70mph most of the way, and average 60mph including stops for today.

We plan on making it to the house late tonight, with 12 driving hours, and 14-15 total hours (which is about what we did yesterday) under the tires.

Should be pretty.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Callin out in transit

We're on the road to Idaho... or rather we will be BACK on the road to idaho again shortly.

We ended up leaving 36 hours late, for various reasons, and ended up only making a few hours last night because of how sore and exhausted we both were.

Now we're fresh, rested, and heading for Ogden before a major stop (should be around 8pm or so). If we feel good in Ogden we'll keep going another few hours, maybe to Pocatello, or idaho falls.

Trailer is working fine, truck is handling it no sweat (once I got the weight distributing hitch adjusted properly), and all is well.

Report from Idaho later.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

Rapid Obsolescence

It's amazing how far we've come, how fast, when it comes to computing power, just in personal computers, never mind the large servers we run our world with.

Moores law has proven to be true (with a few little hiccups) for an outrageous amount of time.

We've gone from the first real personal computer (the Apple II) in 1977, running at 1 megahertz, and 4kb of ram (up to 48kb with boards) for around $3,000 (with disk drive, monitor, printer, and ram); to the cheapest $300 computer you can buy today running at around 2 GIGAhertz (2000 times as fast), with 2 GIGAbytes of memory (21,000 times the memory)... or for $3,000, a computer with 8 processors, all running at 3 gigahertz, and 8gigabytes of memory (plus monitor, printer etc...).

I've got a lot of history here... I've been involved in personal computing from almost the very beginning (I got my first computer in 1981). Plus, I am a computer collector and rescuer. So I've got a pretty large and varied history as it were.

The first computer I ever had was a Tandy TRS80 model 1, with two 8" floppies; though I managed to snag a Commodore PET soon after.

The trash-80 was based on the Zilog Z80, running at 1.8mhz, and had been upgraded to a whole 32kb of RAM.

I then had a vic 20, a c64, a c128 and an amiga 500 (two of which we actually paid for, the 64 and the 128. The vic and the Amiga were handmedowns).

My first connectivity was through a 300, than a 2400 baud modem (a Hayes) for the C64.

In between there somewhere I snagged an Atart ST, and an Apple IIe. After that, the final Apple I had for a few years was a II-gs; which ran on a 2.8mhz cpu, with 1mb of ram.

When it was new, it cost $6,000 (including the upgraded memory, extra disk drive, monitor, and printer). I still had a 2400 baud modem for it, though there WERE 9600 baud modems becoming available at the time, there wasn't anywhere to use them.

I didn't get my first X86 pc until 1989; and it was the very first commercially available x86 laptop, the kaypro 2000. Unfortunately when I got it, it was already four years old, and beyond obsolete, but it was still very cool.

Oh and I still had a 2400 baud modem... actually, two: One Hayes external, and one built in to the Kaypro.

That was a seriously cool computer by the way. It presaged the docking station/laptop combo by years; and the construction quality on the thing was amazing (it was also HEAVY as hell, having a lead acid battery good for all of 45 minutes).

Of all the above, I got most of them second or third hand (though not all of them), from friends, relatives, school, work etc... The only ones I got brand new were the c64, the 128, the Amiga, and the IIe.

The first x86 system I actually bought new, wasn't until 1995; a pentium 166mmx, with 64mb ram (I ended up upgrading it to 256mb eventually). I tri-booted slackware, win '95, and NT on it.

It cost me $3400 (after a hard drive upgrade, RAM upgrade, monitor etc...) and my connectivity was a 28.8kbit modem, running cslip at 9600 through my university network.

I actually owned a UNIX workstation before I ever bought myself an X86 box; an IBM PowerPC workstation, that ran AIX and CDE. If I remember correctly, it had 256mb of ram, a 4gb hard drive, had a PPC604 that ran at 133mhz, and it cost me $3,000 after a HEAVY educational discount (the school had a purchase program that gave us 60% off retail). It also ran that same 9600 cslip.

Around the same time I got my first mac, a Quadra 800. I later got a PowerMac 8500. Both were around $6,000 new, when loaded up with memory (I got them for free).

I got my first UNIX ACCOUNT (vs. UNIX computer) in 1985; through a local college, as part of the ACE program (accelerated cognitive education). If I remember correctly it was on a HIGHLY hacked and upgraded PDP-11; but it was replaced shortly thereafter by a highly hacked and upgraded VAX 11/780. It was on a smart terminal on what I think was a 2400 baud serial line, but I don't remember.

I bought my first Sun box for personal use in the late 90s; a 4 cpu 200mhz hypersparc setup I bought in I THINK 1999 (after it was offically obsolete for like 4 years). I later upgraded to an ultra 10 (only nominally an upgrade. In reality less powerful than the Sparc20, but it ran newer software that wasn't supported on the 20), then an ultra 60.

At one point I even had a pair of e250s and a pair of e450s... but I didn't use them as computers, I used them as furniture. They made SPECTACULAR table legs when paired with a glass tabletop (yes, seriously I really did that).

I bought my first DEC alpha around 1996, a PWS 200. I only got rid of my last Alpha about two years ago (a workgroup server 800).

I bought my first SGI in 1996 or 1997, an Indy that I bought after it was obsoleted. I later upgraded to an O2 (I actually had four of them at once at one point, doing video work), and then an Octane.

Almost all of these high end systems ran from $5,000 to $20,000 when new... My Octane was $25,000 in 1998. I bought it in 2001 for less than $3,000. You can get them fully loaded with the R14000 (the last generations of MIPS chips used in SGI machines) for $2,000 today if you want one for some reason (they're still very good for video work).

Other than for that specialized video work though, an $800 laptop has more power.

Amazingly enough though, as of getting rid of my last Alpha two years ago, every computer I actually OWN is x86 (vs. the ones I work with, which are about 40% x86, the remainder of which are PA-RISC - or itanium running HP-UX... technically the itanium is x86 though... Sparc, and POWER).

Honestly, for workstation tasks, there's just no point to using anything else. I can (and do. I run OSX, Solaris, multiple Linux distros, and multiple windows versions) run just about any OS I want on the same architecture; and I get great power, great bandwidth, great memory handling, at such a low price, it just isn't worth buying anything else anymore.

Last month, I switched my primary PC from a high end desktop, to a LAPTOP.

The LAPTOP has four times the computing power the high end desktop did. It runs a quad core processor at 3 ghz, with 8gbs of ram and two 500gb hard drives....


Hell... My PHONE has more computing power than any computer I owned before 2001.

Aint it grand?

One of the most basic questions of Science Fiction Geekdom

Star Wars, or Star Trek...

I can't believe I've never blogged this one. It's one of the biggest geek jihads there is.

Well... it really depends on what you consider canon. How much of the "universe" of each you allow into your evaluation.

If we go just on the movies and TV shows, Star Trek by a country mile... even with the soft and squishy pseudosocialism crap.

The writing, the acting, the cinematography, and the direction of Star Trek are in general far superior to Star Wars; as is the general body of work (one great, one good, two bad, one mediocre and two AWFUL movies, and one good and one bad TV show on the Star Wars side. Three great, three good, three bad and two AWFUL movies, and three good, one mediocre, and two bad TV shows for Star Trek).

As SciFi as a whole... that's more difficult. Star Trek is really post golden age science fiction, whereas Star Wars is classic golden age Space Opera. They're really different genres, and are difficult to compare directly.

If we include the full universe of each, including the novels and in canon video games... It's a wash. Two entirely different philosophies, two entirely different universes, two entirely different sets of writing styles etc... and lots of great writers/authors for both (witness Mike Stackpole, and Vonda McIntyre).

My general personal preference is for Star Trek; because I like the characters and character oriented writing, more than the archetypal mythological arc oriented writing of the Star Wars franchise.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Trailers Here...

...And it's a big bastard.

So am I, and you can see the scale thereof. It's a 28'x8.5' haulmark, optioned up the wazoo. Most importantly, extra internal D-Rings, upgraded wheels and tires (and most importantly, upgraded sealed permanent bearings), and upgraded electric brakes.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Facebook - it Ain't for College Students Anymore

So I woke up this morning and I check my email on my phone before I even get out of bed.

Yes, it's incredibly geeky, I know.

So one of my cousins spent some time on Facebook last night sending me friend recommendations so I've got several emails from Facebook in my inbox. I'm scrolling though them, going "cousin, cousin, cousin, holy crap Grandpa?!?!"

My 93-year-old grandfather just joined Facebook.

This is the same man who learned to use a computer at 88 so he could get pictures and email from his grandkids (and great-grandkids, and great-great-grandkids). He was so new to computers that my aunt had to explain the concept of the backspace key because his typing was bad and he was used to typewriters (his emails arrived with the typos at the bottom of the page).

Grandpa is officially internet savvy.

This is awesome though. He just became completely deaf after years of hearing loss so he can't talk on the phone anymore, but he can still read and write. Facebook will help him immensely.

He's just somewhat older than the original group of users.


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

102 hours, 102 degrees

We move in 102 hours; and I'm sick. Not just a little sick. Not just feeling bad...

Alternating 102 degree fever and shakes, with ice cold chills and shakes; and my hands and feet are always freezing. Nothing stays down, or stays up. Every joint in my body is swolen and in pain.

If I dont get substantially better in the morning, I'm going to the hospital.

but wait, it gets better...

We don't have our trailer yet; because my company screwed up my payroll, and accidentally deposited my bonus in a closed account (even though my paycheck has been direct depositing in a different account for several months).

So we can't load up, or take some of the big stuff to other people as planned; and it wont be fixed until at least Thursday, maybe not til Friday.

This is what happens when you tempt god by making plans.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

In Just 7 Days

We'll be on the road on our way to our new home.

We're changing houses, cities, states, regions. We're packing up 2 adults, 2 kids, and 3 dogs and transferring the whole family 1400 miles due north.

This plan has been in the works for months (since August actually) but sped up due to our rental house in Scottsdale going into default and going up for short sale. Total notice: 2 1/2 weeks.

Luckily for us we'd already laid the foundation for moving, just not that quickly.

So next Sunday we'll be leaving for our new house near Sandpoint, ID.

Content will be very sparse and emails responded to very slowly.

Chris will be writing a more detailed post about this tomorrow.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Why we don't let our kids watch Nickelodeon or Disney

"Zach and Cody" is even creepier, never mind the Nick Teen lineup.

Basically, if it's live action "kids" programming; you can bet it's creepy and age inappropriate.

We stick with nick jr (they used to love noggin, but they've outgrown it), and various science and nature programming.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

More than a Century

My great grandmother died yesterday.

She was just over 102 years old. Agnes Doherty 2/20/1908 - 3/3/2010

This is one of those times, when one is relieved by a death, rather than saddened. My great grandmother has been in major decline for some time, and had to be put into full time care two years ago.

Of course, what's really amazing, is that it was only two years ago; and more incredible still, she still had all her faculties (though not for so many hours a day) up until a few months ago.

In her lifetime, she saw two great hot wars, innumerable small ones, and one giant cold one...

She was born in Ireland, and came to America in 1926. When she was Born, Ireland was not it's own country. When she left, it was. In between she lived through a bloody civil war.

When she was born, women could not vote in the US, and blacks generally weren't allowed in hotels and restaurants with whites... even in the north.

When she was born, there were barely any cars, or airplanes on the roads or in the sky... No Electricity through much of the country. Only a few private telephones.

By the time she was a teenager, the world had already been through "the war to end all wars" that, of course wasn't.

By the time she was 21, the world was in depression. By 30, she'd had half her 9 children (her first was at 22), and another world war was visible on the horizon. By 39 she'd had all her 9 (she herself was 1 of 10), the war was over, and America was getting ready to boom.

My great grandmother was already 45, and a grandmother, before Elvis appeared on the scene. 55 before the Beatles.

She was 19 when Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic. 39 when Yeager broke the sound barrier. 44 when the first jet airliner flew. 53 when man first rocketed into space. 61 when we walked on the moon.

I knew my great grandmother better than most men of my generation and background would know theirs; which is to say, not very well at all. She was old when I was born, and older still by the time I really became aware of what being "very old" meant.

But I've got a big Irish family, and she was always visiting with, or living with, one of my great aunts or second cousins etc... So I saw her throughout my childhood.

I don't think I've seen her at all since my Grandfather died... I'm pretty sure the last time I saw her, I was somewhere between 13 and 17 (my grandfather died when I was 19).

Frankly, she was a mean, hard woman. She outlived 2 of her children, and was estranged to some degree or another, from most of the rest, for most of the last twenty years... Perhaps she was too mean to die. I know that for my entire life, and my mothers entire life, she was always considered a mean and hard woman, it wasn't old age that made her that way (as sometimes happens). It was a hard, hard life.

She was born on a farm, in what was at the time a third world country, in the dark, in crushing poverty; and escaped to the United States just to end up in the middle of the greatest economic and social turmoil the U.S. had seen since the civil war.

All of this, made her hard.

I say this not to speak ill of the dead, but to help understand this womans life. Frankly, she shaped my grandmother, who is also a VERY hard woman. I still love her; and my grandmother still loved her mother...

I cannot imagine what the sweep of my great grandmothers life experience was like. What the mass of that experience and knowledge meant, or how it felt.

But, as I say, this isn't a time for grief. Agnes Doherty had a rich, full, and long life; and we should celebrate it.

Acknowledging and Warning - Low Content Zone

We're INSANELY busy, between work, and prepping for the move. Content has been light here for a while, and will continue to be so for another couple weeks.

More detail later.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Just a LITTLE Adultery...

A month or so back, I mentioned I felt a bit like cheating.
"I'm a strat man. I've alway had strats, and strat clones, and superstrats... hell I even had a strat shaped acoustic once. My very first guitar was a strat clone (appropriately enough for this post though, it was an Epiphone). I own a superstrat now (a Jackson Dinky)...

...and I'm kinda having a bit of guitar lust over a Les Paul.

Maybe a flame maple bookmatched top, with that deep cherry sunburst... blocks and bindings,, and no pick guard...

...Most importantly, is there any way to get a decent one without being raped (and god knows, you can't buy a new one in the style I'd like for less than the price of a used car...

As it happens, yesterday, I snagged a new Les Paul... for $300.

Well... not new, and not a Gibson; but honestly, it's such a nice guitar I don't give a damn.

Actually, it's a used Japanese Epiphone Les Paul classic custom, in chambered mahogany, and no pick guard (which I prefer); customized with Gibson USA pickups and electronics (BurstBuckers); black Gibson knobs, switchgear, and surrounds; chrome Grover tuners, a graphite string nut, and chrome straplocks (with a really nice paded and quilted leather strap).

The important part though is the wood... a carved, AAAA grade (some would grade this as AAA instead), highly figured, bookmatched quilted maple top; in translucent black smoke, with full antique bindings on body, fingerboard, and headstock, and real mother of pearl fretboard and headstock inlays.

Which funny enough, is the same finish on my Jackson superstrat, and my Ovation electricoustic (though they are flame maple, not quilted... and neither are nearly so highly figured). So I've got a matched set on my triple guitar stand (that's not it above, obviously).

Honestly, the pic doesn't do the wood justice... and it plays, just as good as it looks... and it matches the other two guitars... For $300 I just couldn't let it pass by.