Thursday, October 28, 2010

Child Custody Update

The reason things have been so quiet here this week, is because Mel has been either readying to travel to, or been in, Canada since Tuesday (while I recover from pneumonia and can't really travel), for the expedited child custody hearing.

Said hearing occurred this morning. We were hoping for a speedy resolution. Unfortunately, we won't be getting that.

Although both parties attorneys were ready to proceed on the filings, the judge decided the case was too complex, and had too many issues to handle in expedited session, and remanded us over for a full hearing, date to be determined; pending the completion of full child welfare and custodial reports on both households.

Those are going to take at least a couple months; perhaps as early as Christmas, which would allow for a court date in February, perhaps a bit later, moving the hearing date a bit later.

This wasn't unexpected. We figured that a full trial was a probability, but we were hoping the judge would return the children to us until then; unfortunately, the judge decided to maintain status quo until the full hearing (although we were able to make visitation arrangements for Thanksgiving and Christmas).

So, it looks like for now, the kids are going to be in Canada at least another three months, maybe a bit more; and we're going to have to go through ANOTHER full hearing, and all that entails.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Don't Sweat the Technique...

I was having a discussion with a musician and music and art teacher friend of mine this weekend, about the state of Hi-Hop today, vs. what we both feel was the "golden age" so to speak, the late 80s and early 90s.

In particular we were lamenting the lack of flow in todays MC's.

The "golden age" begins roughly in '86 with the release of Boogie Down productions first album and Eric B. and Rakims first singles, and ends sometime around '94, after Dre. went multi-platinum with "The Chronic" and Wu-Tang went multi-platinum with "36 chambers".

Not that Dre and Wu-Tang weren't amazing and skillful artists, but they aren't old school or golden age. Dre and Wu Tang flipped the trick, and popularized their separate styles of g-funk and hardcore hip-hop; setting the stage for the "east coast/west coast" battles of the mid 90s through early 2000s.

This stylistic change left most of the golden age MC's relegated to the sidelines of underground and alternative hip-hop; many of them unable to get recording contracts from mainstream record companies, if at all.

Since the golden age, hip-hop has gone through a stylistic, and content revolution in several stages; from gfunk and hardcore, into the "Bad Boy/Rocafella" period, and now into dirty south; but the general complaint has been over time the focus has moved away from lyrical skill, and towards all flash, all style, all bling, all name checks, all "feature", all gimic, all bitches and money, etc... etc...

Thus we come to the the hip-hop dominating todays airwaves...

The top selling hip hop artist right now is Lil' Wayne, who while he does have a certain skill at producing the style of music he epitomizes, simply could not compete on a lyrical basis with the MCs of Old Skool rhyme centric hip-hop.

The same is true of MOST of the current crop of best selling hiphop artists. Right now, and for the last six or seven years, the best selling style is loosely, the "dirty south" style; which is beat heavy, repetitious, catchy, hooky, and focused primarily on partying to gratuitous excess.

Most of the dirty south school of hip hop possess very little of the verbal facility that was prized in east and west coast MC's of the 80s and 90s. They tend to focus on hugely produced wall of sound tracks, with vocal gimmicks like vocoding, and "featuring" other famous artists.

There are a few in todays hip-hop who have real lyrical skills (Outkast, Nelly, Eminem, Common; and god help us because he's a total ASS but he does have skills, Kanye), mostly in alt/underground and heavily old school influenced; but very few who could stand up toe to toe against say, Big Daddy Kane, or KRS-One (or even earlier less sophisticated MC's like Melle Mel, or Kool Moe Dee).

Except for Eminem (who whatever you think of him, is certainly the best rap writer, and probably the best freestyler, with most native lyrical skill of anyone on the last 15 years), the best of "new school" mainstream hip hop, roughly '95 to today, but especially pre 2002-2004 with the utter dominance of bling and crunk crap of the last six years; are either "retired" or dead...

That would be Biggie (dead), Tupac (dead), Nas (retired) and Jay-z (primarily a producer, retired as anything but a "feature" artist)...

Of them, really only Biggie had the chops to play with old school masters (though Nas at his best was close). Nas was maybe one step behind, but that's all it takes.

Tupac was great, but his was a more prepared, produced, and polished style... more published poetry set to rhyme than rap. He was a great writer, but he only had moderate skills on the mic.

Not to diminish Jay-Z's skills on the mic, which were substantial... but to my mind, not nearly as great as people give him credit for.

He is a VERY good writer, but his actual on-mike performance, his style, his rhyme, his delivery, isn't nearly in the class with the master MCs. He's still a great one, because of his writing and his intelligence... just not one of the greatest. Jay-zs real strength was in finding what worked together, and producing that, not in his flow. He created the modern "feature" culture. He created the modern east coast hip-hop sound, and it's culture. I really believe it's because he casts such a big shadow, that people give him to much credit on the mike.

Frankly, Jay-z and Dre, for all that they accomplished on the mike, are FAR more important as producers. People freely acknowledge that with Dre, but for some reason seem reluctant to say so with Jay -Z.

Dead on honest, I don't think anyone in mainstream hip-hop today has the flow, or the skill, to keep up with Rakim or Big Daddy Kane, or KRS-One... Eminem is close, but not close enough.

Only in underground and alternative hip-hop, and mostly with the guys who were around in the golden age like Talib Kweli, Cee lo, Q-tip, MC Gift of Gab etc... ; do you get that combination of lyrics and style and rhyme and rhythm that is "flow".

Oh and anyone with an appreciation for golden age hip-hop will note I left out one really crucial name thus far, Chuck D. It's not because I don't have love for Chuck, but because I don't classify him (or public enemy) with other artists of the golden age.

With the release of 1988s "it takes a nation of millions to hold us back" and even more so with 1990s "Fear of a Black Planet"; Chuck D and Public enemy were REALLY, the first act of the hardcore hip-hop movement that would come to dominate the east coast scene in the mid 90s. In their content and their lyrical attack, they resemble new school much more than old school; even if their sound is firmly rooted in the late 80s styles.

At any rate, that had me feeling a little old skool today, so I made myself a Pandora station of just old school mcs with serious flow.

Not coincidentally, the first artist I populated the station with was Rakim.

Do yourself a favor, and listen to the rap. don't watch the video. The videos are just your standard ridiculous rap videos, and to my mind take away from the raps:

This ladies and gentlmen, is what is known in hip hop as "flow", and Rakim is it's innovator, and master:

And the Mack Daddy of the Golden age, Big Daddy Kane:

And finally, the lyrical professor, KRS-One:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fuel, Air, Heat

Fuel, Air, and Heat, are the "fire triangle".

They are the three elements you need to initiate and sustain the chemical reaction combustion; the rapid oxidation of fuel producing heat and light a.k.a FIRE.

Too much or too little of any of the elements, will tend to overwhelm or starve out the others and kill a fire.

To get a fire going, you have to get enough heat into your fuel, with enough air, that combustion can become self sustaining. Too much air, and the fire blows out. Too little it smothers out. Too much fuel, and you need more air and more heat to ignite it etc... etc...

It's a balancing act, an art, and a science.

As I've mentioned before, the primary heat in our house is a fireplace insert; which is in fact a modern wood burning stove.

It's one of the super-efficient ones the government gives tax credits on, certified green by whoever because it burns completely and emits almost no pollution blah de blah...

Since I know some of my readers are fireplace geeks (yes, there are fireplace geeks, and some of them are SERIOUSLY HARD CORE) the specifics of it are as follows:
Napoleon NZ26 with primary and secondary heat exchanger, secondary combustion chamber, and primary firebox burner bars, 3 chamber flue with six position remote adjustable thermostatically controlled damper, adjustable outside air intake, and under grate air inlet; and a thermostatically controlled forced hot air blower for the heat exchangers.
The setup, with the optional extras, is rated at around 80% efficient with a maximum output of 70,000 btu/hr (continuous maximum fuel burn), or a full firebox rating of 27,000 btu.

What all that means, is that the stove effectively acts like a blast furnace, taking cold outside air, and forcing it up through the bottom of the fire at high velocity to make the wood burn hotter and cleaner (it's actually got a manual downdraft damper you can hold open, and it's like hitting the power blower on a forge. If I burned charcoal in this fireplace I'm pretty sure I could forge metal with it... at least until the flus melted).

The heat of the primary combustion gassifies more wood, then the unburned wood gasses flow up into the secondary combustion chamber where they are ignited by the concentrated heat of the firebox, and the exhaust gasses. The hot burning gas then rushes out through the burner bars back into the primary firebox, burning again, adding more heat to the primary fire, igniting more unburned gasses, and generating even more wood gas..

Finally, when there isn't enough easily combusted fuel energy left to burn in the gasses, they flow back up through the secondary combustion chamber again and out through the heat exchangers; given up much of their heat to air forced across the heat exchangers by blowers.

For those of you NOT stove geeks, all that crap means you end up with a theoretical efficiency of something over 80%... and in the real world you actually recover something like 60-70% of the heat energy of your fuel (if we had remote ducting forced hot air, instead of the free air blower, it would be more like 70-80%, and the fireplace exhaust would barely be hot to the touch with nearly all the heat going into the ducts).

So, with a relatively small (and very well insulated) firebox, that can only hold maybe six quarter splits; it puts out a hell of a lot of heat (if I stoke it up to full heat, with a full firebox, with a good lay, and the dampers fully open, I cant stand four feet in front of the thing for more than a few seconds).

That efficient burning, combined with the hot air blower, heat exchangers, and our vaulted ceiling with ceiling fans; warms up the whole house from 50 degrees to 75 degrees in less than an hour.

One completely full firebox load of fuel, starting from a hot coal bed, will burn for about 4 hours with the dampers wide open (high throttle), up to about 7 hours with the dampers closed down; and it'll keep the whole house nice and warm that whole time, even when it's well below freezing outside.

There's just one real problem with the thing, it's tiny.

As I said, the firebox is really small. Technically the firebox is about 20" wide, 18" deep and 20" high at the door; but that doesn't into account the fact that the firebox is trapezoidal (the better to reflect heat out into the room), or the 3" of fire grate, and the thick refractory brick insulation on the thing.

The actual stackable area in the box is basically a 17" cube.

Back to why that's a problem in a minute...

In the U.S we buy wood in cords. The cord is a rough volumetric measure, not a measure of mass or heat energy; as every type of wood, as well as woods of different degrees of seasoning (drying out), will weigh entirely different amounts, and put out entirely different amounts of energy per unit volume.

This can vary from as little as 11,000,000 btu per cord (and about 2000lbs weight) for white cedar seasoned less than a year; up to over 30,000,000 btu for the densest hardwoods, seasoned over two years (and weighing about 4000lbs per cord).

So, as you might assume, different woods command vastly different prices. Wood labeled as "unseasoned mixed firewood", might get as little as $80 per cord this year (and would probably not be usable in the year you bought it); while two year seasoned Tamarack (generally regarded as the best softwood firewood commonly available in our region) might get as much as $180 per cord this year (nobody burns much hardwood up here unless they cut it themselves; there's so much relatively cheap softwood. You occasionally see someone offering birch, but it's rare).

Our "firewood" around here is usually a mix of various fir, with some black birch, hemlock, juniper, cedar, pine and tamarack thrown in. So it's all over the place for heat value, for sparking, for pitching up or creosoting (the intial tendency to give off wet smoke with residues that smell bad, and clog up fireplaces. Creosoting is basically eliminated by complete combustion in a modern wood stove, ONCE you get the fire hot enough) for ease of lighting etc...

At any rate, what you're buying when you buy "a cord of wood" isn't exactly uniform. Not only isn't it uniform in heat, or weight, it's not even really uniform in volume.

By definition, a cord of wood, is a pile of wood 4' high, 4' wide, and 8 foot long; or 128cu feet of wood; however, the actual volume of wood to airspace can vary greatly depending on how the wood was cut and split.

Again, unless you specify otherwise (and pay more for being specific), you're going to get a mix of whole bucked logs, half splits, and quarter splits; of anything between 6", and about 20" in diameter (anything 8" to 16" is almost always half split. Anything bigger than 16" is almost always quarter split)

Unless you get quarter splits, you aren't actually getting anywhere near to 128cuft of wood. If you're getting all 12" rounds, you might get as little as 80cuft of actual wood, in a 4x4x8 pile.

And of course, rounds (unsplit logs) don't season well, nor do they light very easily. Quarterd logs stack best, they season best, and they ignite easier than halves or wholes; but quartering every log takes a lot more time and effort. Most woodcutters only bother quartering the logs over 12"-16" diameter unless you specifically ask. In general, you want your load to be split up in all quarters, or mixed halves and quarters... though it can be nice to have an unsplit round to use as a chopping block, or when you want a long slow overnight burn.

Finally, there's the length issue.

A "cord" unless otherwise specified, can have logs bucked to any length between 12" and 24".

Conventionally, cords are cut and stacked into three "faces"; of 4' high by 8' long by 16" wide logs each. 16" is a pretty good log size, and three faces (to make a 4' stack) are convenient to stack.

Usually, cutters don't bother with 12" unless you specifically request it, because it's a lot more work, and 4 faces is harder to stack, and deal with (for one thing, logs narrower than 14" may fall through standard racks). Some however will offer "stove cuts", with logs cut to 14" to fit smaller stoves and inserts. The downside is, you still only get three faces, which means you're paying the equivalent of 16cuft (1/8th cord) extra, to have them cut short.

Much more common, is that logs are cut oversize, to 18" or 20"; which is small enough for most fireplaces, but will be too long for a lot of stoves, unless inserted at a funny angle.

The upside to that is, you usually still get three faces; so in exchange for the inconvenience of overlength logs, you're getting 1/8 cord for free.

Now, you'll recall above, our firebox has only 17.5" usable width? Yes, it's 19.5" wide at the widest point, but it quickly narrows.

This means any log cut longer than about 16" won't fit, unless it's split into quarters. If it's quartered, we can fit it into the front half of the firebox, or we can slide it in at an angle etc... etc...

Earlier this year, we bought a cord of mixed one year seasoned firewood; mostly fir, some birch, some cedar, some pine; mixed whole, half, and quarter, and cut to between 16" and 20"; for about $100. We've used about 1/3 of it so far, but the 1/3 we've used has been the shorter cut pieces, and the quarters. What we've got left either doesn't fit, or barely fits into our stove without recutting, or resplitting.

Both are serious pains.

We're going to need another 2 cords over the winter most likely; and if the winter ends up longer or colder than typical, maybe another 3. We plan on buying 2, cut to 16" and split in quarters, and they'll run us something like $150 a cord.

Honestly, heating our house the whole winter for under $500, I'm pretty happy with. We've got a couple good local firewood places to deal with, and we should have no problem getting in two cords of well seasoned and properly split wood.

But there's still the irritation of the oversized wood to deal with. And starting fires in general.

Now, I've been lighting fires since I was a little kid. All the houses I grew up in had fireplaces; and my grandparents place in New Hampshire was wood stove heat only. I have no problem getting a good fire going, even with marginal kindling and tinder; presuming properly split and seasoned firewood.

Mel on the other hand... Her very first fire was this past March; and in general her success in firemaking has been.... shall we say, mixed?

Even for me though, dealing with the oversized logs is a pain. If you don't have the room to create a good firelay, you can't get the fire triangle going; and even with good wood, it's difficult to get a fire really cooking. With mediocre wood, you end up with a fire that uses up more and more tinder and kindling, and never really lights off, just smoldering out over time.

Now, there is a solution, splitting the wood into "splints"; which are basically small sticks split out of bigger logs. Splints light easily with little tinder, and burn hot, allowing you to start burning a larger log fairly quickly.

You can buy splints, but they aren't cheap, at around $5 per bundle, each bundle good for maybe 1/2 dozen fires. They aren't ridiculously expensive, but you can also just make your own.

Conventionally you do that with a sharp hatchet, and a hand sledge. It works great, but it's a pain in the ass; and you have to do 20 minutes of splintmaking for one or two fires.

The real solution is to resplit everything down to quarters or smaller. Eights catch a lot better, and are easier to stack into a good firelay than quarters for example.

Of course, resplitting three cords of wood is a LOT of work. More work than I want to do frankly.

So that's why I bought one of these (and the stand for it):

Some people say these little splitters are awful, useless, what have you, but they're wrong. The problem is they're using them for the wrong job.

These small splitters only have 4-5 tons of force, and can only handle a 20"x12" log... and realistically not even that if they're wet, or it's hardwood. So if you're trying to use one as your primary logsplitter, yes you're going to be disappointed.

If you're doing primary splitting, of BIG logs, wet wood, hardwood etc... you want a real gas powered 12 to 20 ton splitter.

But what we're doing here, taking small rounds down to quarters and eigths, splitting already seasoned wood, and splitting splints... it does them in a heartbeat.

Importantly, they're small, and very convenient. Instead of resplitting the entire three cords at a time, you can just resplit what you want for each fire, right outside your door.

We got ours in this afternoon, set it up right outside the front door next to one of the log racks (a convenient outdoor outlet being right there), and I split four 18" or so long 10" or so thick birch logs into eighths and splints, in maybe five minutes, with absolutely zero effort.

Using those eights and splints, Mel was able to set a proper log cabin firelay, and got a fully involved, hot burning fire, within 10 minutes, using just a couple paraffin chip balls for tinder.

I am now fully confident that Mel will be able to lay and light proper fires all winter, using the wood we have without recutting and resplitting it all in advance. That alone is worth the $350.

And come next spring, I'm going to rebuck (it's in six foot lengths right now) and split the wood we cleared off the lot this year. None of it is more than 10", and it's all good black birch. That little splitter should handle it just fine at 16" length. That's a half cord right there, for just a couple hours work.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Woo Hoo, I am various free floating pathogens prison bitch

Primary bacterial upper respiratory infection, with opportunistic secondary fungal infection.

Thankfully I went to the docs before it got worse, or I might have ended up in the hospital for real.

Now I have the joy of two weeks of Septra DS (double strength Trimethoprim and Sulfamethoxazole.It's effective against some fungals as well as various resistant bacteria strains)four times a day, plus tussin with coedine for the cough and to help me sleep.

The good news is, one day on the meds and I'm already starting to feel better. Mr. Snap Crackle Pop is already gone, and I'm fever free all day long.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I had a head cold three weeks ago...

That turned into a sinus infection last week... that turned into bronchitis this week... that seems to be on the edge of turning into bronchial pneumonia.

I'm going to the hospital in a few hours to get checked out. It's pretty mild, I don't think I need a chest x-ray or anything, just some heavy duty antibiotics.

It's just that ever since I had valley fever a few years ago, my respiratory system seems to be the preferred vacation home for every infectious pathogen that wafts vaguely in this direction.

It's getting kinda tiresome.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

If Only... Again...

Medal of Honor... the short SHORT version

So, after about 8 hours of gameplay, INCLUDING mission restarts etc (and there were plenty of those)... I finished the single player campaign mode of the new Medal of Honor game a couple hours ago and have started playing through "Tier 1 mode"; which is single player, against the clock, with accuracy bonuses and trophies, against the rest of the world. I haven't tried the true multiplayer mode yet.

It's a pretty decent game, but as usual there are some common irritations. Concealment/cover mechanics are crap. Damage modeling is poor (gee theres a shock). Aim modeling is poor (again, all games do this).

That said, overall, I like the gameplay, and the graphics are great.

Also, this has to be the first combat sim I've seen that showed AFSOC (PJ, CCT) personnel deployed as integral team members with other special operations ground forces. Unfortunately, your only playable characters (at least in single player)are a SEAL and a Ranger, but hey, it's a start.

My biggest problem though, is that the single player campaign is stupidly short. For $60 I expect a lot more single player content.

I don't really see tier 1 mode as much of an enhancement to the concept; unless they offer a bunch of DLC later (which I think is likely).

There is a limited selection of weapons, but the ones they do give you are generally useful; and they are VERY well modeled cosmetically.

Unfortunately, they are not well modeled for recoil or other shooting characteristics (they get optics laughably bad for example, though still better than most other games), or for damage.

For example, there are five weapons in the game that fire 7.62x51 (the M-14 EBR, M110, the G3, and the M60-E3). All have similar barrel lengths, and will fire the same NATO spec ammo (though the M-14 is probably firing the 168gr smk load). Ammo is not interchangeable (some justification for that in that you aren't going to unload G3 mags and reload the single rounds into M14 mags in the middle of a firefight), and does WILDLY different damage, even in single shot mode, at the same range, to the same target etc... etc...

The same goes for the two guns that shoot 7.62x54r. The Dragunov is a one shot instant kill, the PKM isn't. Same round, same range, same barrel length...

Apparently, according to this game, 5.56 nato has the same damage characteristics as an undercharged BB gun, unless you use it for head shots when it becomes a death laser. At least ALL the 5.56 weapons damage modeling sucks equally, and they are all relatively accurate.

The MOST irritating damage mechanic to me is that I can hit someone multiple times center chest with a 5.56 or even a 7.62, they'll fall, and then a few seconds later they will get back up and keep fighting. Sometimes I can do this three or four times before they finally decide to die... But amazingly, they don't do this when I take them down with a 9mm pistol (admittedly it takes 4-6 shots to do so).

In this game, the only sure kills (except with the .50 which kills if you hit their toenail), are center head. Eventually, you figure out to only go for headshots, or use snapshot burst fire with the reticle.

Ammo is irritatingly rare for pickup weapons. The whole point of a pickup weapon is that you have unlimited resupply based on your kills. You can walk over to a dozen guys you just killed, and none of them have any ammo (though you can see their G3s with mags RIGHT THERE).

Also, as is almost always the case, there is no weapon malfunction mechanic.

All that said, these are flaws common to most games in the genre. You have to balance gameplay, game mechanics, and fun, with realism.

Overall, not yet having tried multiplayer, I'd say its a good, fun game; but too expensive.

If multi-player proves to be spectacular, great. However, given my past experiences with the majority of people who play multiplayer combat simulations (i.e. Douchebags and 14 year olds)... I'm not exactly optimistic.

If they offer a lot of good DLC, that might also make up for it.

That said, for $60 I got a solid 8 hours of entertainment in the single player campaign, and I'll probably get another 40 out of Tier 1 mode just as stress relief... Better bang for buck than a couple of movies.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Quick memo to designers of "realistic" combat games and scenarios


For those of you not familiar with the terms, let me explain...

This is concealment::

So is this

and this:

When I am CONCEALED behind "concealment" you cannot see me; but if you shoot through my concealment where I happen to be, you WILL hit me, whether you can see me or not.

If I take COVER behind concealment, I will STILL be shot. 

The interior walls and furnishings of most houses are CONCEALMENT not COVER. "The Forest" is concealment, not cover". Curtains, camouflage netting, any other thing which is soft and flexible and obscures view is CONCEALMENT, NOT COVER.


 These are both soft cover:

Those are a police cruiser, and a stick built homes exterior walls respectively.

They will both conceal my position from the enemy, AND stop or substantially slow down to hopefully non-lethal velocities; low powered handgun rounds, some small caliber rifles, and some low mass secondary projectiles (shell fragments, debris from bombs etc...).

They will not stop rounds from high powered handguns or rifles, most assault rifles, light or medium machine guns, or high velocity high mass shell fragments or secondary projectiles.

Multiple hits to the same location from even light projectiles will get through.

These are all medium cover:

Medium cover will both conceal my position from the enemy, AND stop their incoming fire from hitting me, up to light machine guns, assault rifles, medium sniper rifles, most mortar and grenade fragments, and light to medium shell fragments. 

However, enough concentrated fire from even light machine guns or small caliber rifles, will eventually punch through. Heavy machine guns, antimateriel rifles, RPGs, and cannon will punch through fairly easily, possibly in one or two shots.

That, is why thin stone, brick, or concrete walls are only MEDIUM and not HARD cover. Single layer sandbag walls and double layer straw bale walls are somewhere between light and medium. Double layer sandbag walls, or sandbag over straw bale, are somewhere between medium and heavy.

THIS is hard cover:

Yes, those are respectively a 2+ foot thick stone wall, and an M1 Abrams tank. Both are good "hard cover". Enough water, sand, stone, or steel, makes for good hard cover; but "enough" varies greatly.

Hard cover stops all projectiles fireable by man portable and small crew served weapons. Basically everything smaller than a 25mm cannon, or medium artillery, and you should be good.

Even then however, repeated hits to the same point can chip through.

So, in your "realistic" game, the good guy with the .50 cal sniper rifle? Yeah, he can shoot through the canvas wall of the tent and kill the bad guy. And the good guy hiding behind the turned over kitchen table? Yeah he's toast.

End of lecture...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Unintentionally drinking from a penis

The wife just served me my tea in this...

It used to be this dutch brothers mug:

Chris has similar rules...

For his freelance work (only his rates are about three times that):

As told by an old school film editor, from the days when they actually handled film:
Client: ”What is your rate?”
Me: ”$50 per hour.”
Client: ”Can I come watch you?”
Me: ”Sure, for $100/hour.”
Client: ”What if I help you?”
Me: ”That would be $400 per hour.”
From Clients From Hell

I really don't mind if you sit this one out...

Because I am feeling thick as a brick at the moment... as in my head... as in another god damn sinus infection.

It's been going since Thursday, and was at its worst yesterday; but today sucked. Especially since I spent all day working on two hypercritical issues, neither of which is close to resolved.

Oh and, neither of which I should even be involved in.... But for some reason, I seem to be the only person able to drive the issues to resolution.

Of course both of them make me look better to senior management, which is always good, especially since I'm up for a major promotion (which I almost certainly won't get, but still...).

Friday, October 08, 2010

I want this, simply because it is AWESOME

I want this in a way only a hard core airplane geek can. I don't play any games that could even USE this thing, but I lust after it.

Hell, I don't even think there are any games currently out that I would WANT to use it with. The combat flight sim genre has almost completely died. The last one I particularly enjoyed was about 10 years ago. The space combat game genre is dead too... There aren't even any good mech games to use it with anymore (which is why I bought my LAST Thrustmaster HOTAS controller... about 10 years ago).

It's stupid. It's hilariously overpriced.


Married to a telecommuting executive rant #1,061

It's Friday afternoon, 5:23 Pacific and 8:23 Eastern.  This conference call has already lasted almost an hour and a half.  Why the hell is everyone still on the fucking phone?!?!?!?!

Gamers, Cheaters, and Assholes

This started off as a comment on one of Calebs posts, but got a little long so I decided to move it over here
In my still young IDPA career, I’ve been called a “gamer” a lot. In IDPA circles that usually means someone that treats IDPA as a game to be won, and will work within the full extent of the rules to win. For example, a “gamer” will ask the SO during the walk-through very specific questions about where they’re considered behind cover, if they’re allowed to load on the move in certain areas, etc. The reason for this is that a gamer doesn’t want to cheat – but they certainly want to win.

Cheating is an entirely different concept. A cheater is someone who is aware of the rules and simply doesn’t care – whether they’re the rules on reloading or the rules on magazine capacity, this person simply ignores them. In 3 years of shooting IDPA, I had never encountered a true cheater until recently, and it was a completely flabbergasting experience to me. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen someone openly defy IDPA rules, get a procedural and they say that they “don’t care”.

I'm pretty much with Caleb on this one... though I don't know if this guy was a cheater, or just an asshole.

Either one, I don't want to shoot with.

When I shot IDPA, I shot what I carried, with the rig I carried in. At times, what I was carrying didn't fit within IDPA rules at the time (especially when there was still a limited holster list). If that meant I didn't score for that day, that was fine with me; it was still good practice.

...BUT everyone knew what I was doing BEFORE I did it.

I've also discussed with SOs BEFORE my run, that I wasn't going to use the stage reload rules; that I was running it for trigger time under pressure, and didn't want to play the game rules, because I didn't think it was sound practice (sometimes the stage designers liked to get cute with partial mag reloads, retains, and then using the retained mag etc...).

Frankly, if the SO is expecting you to conform to a pattern and you don't, that could be a safety hazard; never mind it just being common courtesy. 

I have always viewed IDPA primarily as a good exercise in training under pressure; and cared a lot more about doing what I felt was tactically correct, rather than what the stage designer wanted.

BUT I ALWAYS talked with the SO before the run, and let them know beforehand. In fact, I usually talked with the other shooters and the SOs at the briefing. If anybody had a problem with it (which only happened a couple of times) then I ran the stage by the rules, or I didn't run it at all. 

That said, that's what I'M there for, personally; not necessarily what everyone else is there for. They don't need to accomodate me in my preferences, I'm playing on their range, with their time, and I need to make sure that I'm playing by their rules, or at the least with their permission.

I have no problem with someone who is playing the game. That's the point of the rules. Thats why they time and score and publish the results. It's a competition, with structure and rules. Faulting someone for competing to the rules, because you don't like the rules, is asinine.

The idiots who act like anyone playing the game is "just a gamer" and not worth respecting... Well, I have a few less polite words for them.

Fine. You don't want to "play games", and you're always tactically correct etc... Great for you... but why on earth do you think you have the right to screw with anyone elses fun, or training, or competition, or for that matter any other damn thing they please?

But those people, are just assholes, not cheaters.

Sadly, there are a lot of assholes out there.

Now... for those who purport to be playing the game, and then don't follow the rules, to gain advantage? THOSE are cheaters, and they are beneath contempt.

There's an old saying, "If you didn't win, you didn't cheat hard enough"... and under certain circumstances I'm an ardent practitioner of that policy; but when you AGREE to play a GAME, you agree to follow the rules.

If he can pull it off...

Ridley Scott is turning Philip K. Dicks masterwork, one of the greatest SF novels of all time, "The Man in the High Castle", into a miniseries for the BBC.

If he can pull it off, it will almost certainly go down as the best science fiction film ever (yes I know, it's a miniseries, its still a film), and will be nominated for every award there is.

Scott is one of the few producers who COULD pull it off.... MAYBE.

I just don't think any studio, even the BBC, is going to allow Scott to make the movie that it needs to be; especially since he is producing, but not directing.

It's a HARSH story. A dark story. It's NOT happy. It's not "TV friendly". It's not possible to convey visually...

I just don't see how they can do it.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Exactly what it says on the tin...

Satire is generally bust when it is so subtle as to be barely noticed, or so blatant as to be impossible to miss (unless one is deliberately ignoring it).

After four years together on the Florida metal club scene, Marilyn Manson came onto the world stage when I was in college ; and he (and the eponymous band as a whole) shocked and offended a lot of people with his music, his persona, his public behavior... everything public about him in fact.

The members of the band chose to name themselves after pop culture icons, and serial killers: Marilyn Manson, Twiggy Ramirez, Madonna Wayne Gacy, Daisy Berkowitz... Marilyn sang about the most shocking, offensive, controversial things...

But really, if you understood what he was (and still is) doing, I don't think that at core, it was controversial at all... and that's where he was brilliant (though frankly, after 20 years, the schtick aint getting old... it ought to be dead and buried). He spread a relatively uncontroversial but much ignored premise, by being as controversial and offensive as he possibly could be.

I'm not a huge fan of Marilyn Mansons music in general, though there are some really brilliant pieces of what I will call "social art" that he has released as music... and there are just some solid industrial metal tunes too (and in a couple of really great cases, both simultaneously. Especially "Beautiful People", which is why I chose it for this piece).


I actually have a lot of respect for the guy, because he has always been up front about his schtick. What he is, and what he does. He's never hid it, he's never had an alternate agenda, he's never been anything but straightforward in what he was doing (screwed up, yes, but nothing hidden there).

From the minute he chose his stage name, he has always been exactly what it says on the tin.

Marilyn Manson, the band, the performer, the public persona, is the most financially and culturally successful act of social satire in history.

20 years, millions of albums, and tens of millions of dollars later, it's the same message as day one:
Pop culture, and mass media, are screwed up and wrong. They are shallow, and sensationalist, and exploitative.
They elevate and glorify everything that is worst in our natures; and suppress and in some ways destroy, that which is best in our natures... all in the service of the pop culture industry.
They are vain, and superficial, and entirely NOT REAL.
It's about money, plain and simple; and it doesn't matter what it glorifies, or what it destroys. If it makes the industry money, they'll do it. 
Mass media runs much of the world, and has a major effect on all of it. They do so for the money, and in many ways they ruin it as they do.
That's it. And it's in large part true. And I respect that.

It's not even an original message. People have been saying it for as long as there has BEEN a pop culture industry. He just came up with a way of saying it that made him very rich, very famous, and very hated.

A lot of people don't like his music, don't like his style, don't like the way he presents his message... But most of them aren't actually paying attention to what his message is.

If you listen, and get it, and decide you don't like the message fine. If you listen and are OK with the message and just don't care for the image and the histrionics, fine.

But if you don't even know what the guy is saying and doing, and you condemn him... all you're doing is proving his point.

And if you're a "fan" of his, and you don't get that point; by literally buying into that image, that satire, you're proving his point even more.

If in fact you're one of the religious whackjobs.. or just the poor deluded folks who listen to such asses... Who think that somehow Manson is evil, or satanic, or a force against god or whatever other screwed up imagining you may have... Guess what? He's actually saying the same things about pop culture that YOU are. He's just doing it in a very different way, AND YOU'RE PROVING HIS POINT.

Is Marilyn Manson offensive? Absolutely. That's the point. He's screwed up. He's probably bi-polar. He's creepy and weird... But he's honest, and for 20 years, he's really been trying to say something that I think is important to say.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Pain, Exhaustion, and Irritation...

Conspiring to take away my will and ability to write.

I'm working 12+ hour days at the moment... probably will be til the mid-December freeze.

I'm still getting used to the new therapy, and it's bloating me up, and making my arthritis a bit worse. All expected side effects.

Also, the positive effects of the T shot have worn off. I'mna need to go up to 2cc every 2 weeks for this to work.

Yet another reason I love Trace Adkins

As if "Honky Tonk Badonk-a-Donk" (or "Chrome", or "Hot Mama", or "Rough and Ready", or "Swing", or "I got my game on", or AlaFreakinBama, or...) wasn't enough...

Every now and then ya gotta take it on the chin
Gotta turn the other cheek
But then there’s times your old stubborn pride
Don’t back down so easily
And you got no choice but to let your voice
Be heard and hold your ground
And that’s the point that he’ll get the point
And he’ll probably back down
But if he bows up and steps across that line
Ya gotta whoop a man’s ass sometimes


{Man, I’ll be the first one here to call you crazy
If you let me catch you cussin’ out a kid or roughin’ up a lady
And God forbid that anybody mess with mine
Ya gotta whoop a man’s ass sometimes}

Yeah I let it slide when that liquored up guy
Asked me, “Boy, what you lookin’ at?”
And I kept my cool when the reckless fool
Put a dent in my Cadillac
And I don’t care that my long hair
Draws stares the way it does
Long as you aint’ throwin’ stick
And stones you’ll probably be all right ‘cause
I’ll take the high road if I can out of a bind
But you gotta whoop a man’s ass sometimes


Man, I’ll be th first one here to call you crazy
If you let me catch you cussin’ out a kid or roughin’ up a lady
And God forbid that anybody mess with that little girl of mine
Ya gotta whoop a man’s ass sometimes
Ya gotta whoop a man’s ass sometimes
Yeah, ya gotta whoop a man’s ass sometimes

Monday, October 04, 2010

41-14 .... S'all I got to say...

Well, that and TWO turnovers, TWO touchdowns, TWO minutes...

 Offense, Defense, Special Teams... Don't matter... All scoring, no waiting...

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Exactly as good as you'd think it was from the description...

French vanilla and fresh pecan pie milkshake.

QOTD - Learn From My Fail Edition

From :

Ladies, if your first date is ever at a shooting range, don't wear a low cut shirt. Very hot shell casings will land in your bra and burn you. There is no dignified way to get them out quickly either. #LFMF

But that's not the quote of the day, that comes from the comments:

caratt says:

my husband is also a gun fanatic, and has never fired at a living thing. he doesn’t like hunting, he just likes his guns.

AnonMan says:

Then why does he like guns?

I know some guys use guns to compensate for certain things.

MacFall says:

Because it’s fun to send pieces of metal flying through the air at high velocity into inanimate objects.

And you’re right. A lot of guys use guns to compensate for the fact that they cannot use their unaided muscle power to cause objects to break the sound barrier.

MacFall FTW.

If you want to see just how far the normalization of gun rights in this country has come, just read the rest of the comments.