Monthly Archives: May 2012

RIP, Leo Dillon

Leo Dillon has passed away. He was one half of the famous illustrator duo of Leo and Diane Dillon.

You’ve seen their work, and there’s no mistaking it for other people’s stuff. Many people tried to imitate their colors and their alternately bulgy, monumental, and ethereal people, but other people didn’t know how to draw like them. It was an eccentric, surreal style that came out of mastery of technique and something like super-realism. (Whereas many of the wannabes couldn’t draw any better than I can. And I’m baaaaaad.) They weren’t my super-favorite artists; but any book illustrated or given a cover by the Dillons was bound to have quality to it. Many of my favorite books did have Dillon covers, so I think fondly of them.

I hope that Diane Dillon will continue working, though. I don’t want to talk like she’s dead, too.

Here’s a tribute at Tor Books.

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The Laptop Display Died

I’m going to have my little brother look at it, but it seems to have that dead as doornail feel to it. You’ll recall that I’ve been expecting it since last summer or so, when the thing started having mysterious ailments. Still, I just bought the new computer and thought the old one would do okay for quite a while, what with less wear and tear. Then again, it could just be that the video card connector worked loose, or something else that’s an easy fix. Shrug. I guess we’ll find out.

On the bright side, this laptop makes it pretty easy to remove the hard drive, so I can put that into one of those portable hard drive cases if I need to.

The annoying bit is that I was making a lot of progress with the translation, and now I have to get back in the groove. Sigh.

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How to Get Off Hold Instantly

1. Stay on hold for over an hour, listening to the hold music until you are ready to go insane.

2. Get hungry. Go get something to eat.

3. Take a really big bite.

Seriously, there was about a millisecond between my mouth being totally full of granola and unable to respond, and the nice lady saying hello. Gotta love Murphy’s Law.

(And yes, this is why God gave us the ability to spit stuff back out into the wrapper. Quietly.)

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City Engineer

I happened to turn on the public access channel this morning, and they had a little mini-documentary going with the one of the local towns’ city engineer. It was pretty interesting. He was driving around on the roads, looking at various problems, and bitching to the cameras about the joy of getting various corporate contractors to cooperate with the city, on things like moving wires to new poles. 🙂 It also turns out that this city engineer does some free eyeball-consulting for city property owners having problems with things like subsidence. They don’t do any work, but he does diagnose the problem. (This is a benefit for the city too, because subsidence problems or pipe breaks will eventually affect the roads.) They also talked about various traffic flow problems, and what fixes are being implemented and why.

Anyway, it was interesting to get some context for stuff I’ve seen happening out on the roads around here.

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Udmurtia: Land of Grannies and Redheads

I’ve never heard of Udmurtia, but they have a famous Russian pop/folk group called the Budnovo Babushkas. All grannies, as per the name, and all over 70. They’ve gotten to the final round of the Eurovision song contest, representing Russia et al.

Read all about it, and watch the song video, at Language Log.

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In Which Japan and Hollywood Apologize to Robert A. Heinlein

A trailer for Starship Troopers: Invasion. Anime directed by the Appleseed guy. English script by American guys who obviously paid attention in Heinlein class. Might be good. It’s a new story, though. You can tell because the guy in command is identified (in katakana) as Johnny Rico, and because they’re reenacting Alien at some parts.

And nah, Rico doesn’t look super-Hispanic, but more Hispanic than Doogie. (Which isn’t to say that there aren’t some very blond people in Hispanic countries. Lots of immigrants, too.)

As we all know, Japan has had a lot of power-suit animes which were vaguely based on Heinlein’s work and concepts, but I think this is the first one that actually licensed out Starship Troopers.

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Everybody Blog about Brett Kimberlin Day

Back in 2011, somebody called the cops claiming to be Patterico, and “confessing” to just having shot his wife and kids. This is the kind of “prank” that could easily have led to Patterico or one of his family getting shot by accident by nervous SWAT team members, and is scary even if nothing worse than a knock on the door by the friendly neighborhood SWAT team happens. Evidence connects the prank caller to Kimberlin and his associates.

It is my opinion that Brett Kimberlin and his little friends are a clear and present danger to public order and decency, not to mention free speech and freedom of the press. He is obviously starting to become more “disorganized” in his harassment of others. This is a pattern which often leads to explosions of violence from such a person.

Brett Kimberlin, the Speedway Bomber, is a convicted domestic terrorist, drug dealer, and perjurer. He seems to be working hard on getting his next conviction.

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Neil Armstrong Does 4-Part Interview – for Australian CPA Org!

Neil Armstrong doesn’t have much time for reporters or interviews. He’s not a recluse — he spent his post-lunar days as an aerospace engineering prof in Cincinnati — but he just doesn’t need publicity. So he only talks to reporters who give him a good reason.

So this is probably why the journalistic coup of interviewing Armstrong this year has fallen to an accounting news guy from Australia. Armstrong’s dad was a CPA, so it’s topical. 🙂

But what’s really nice is how relaxed, rested, open, and comfortable the interview subject is. He smiles and enjoys telling his story! I begin to suspect they shipped him over to Australia in the dead of winter and hung out at the beach first, because he’s got that kind of look. A really good lunch may also have been involved. 🙂

It’s a four-part video series with really nice production values, filmed in Australia as part of a video series interviewing various leaders in their fields. Needless to say, greenscreened space backgrounds are used. Check it out.

We all know accountants have magical math powers, but I had no idea this includes the power to make Barbara Walters insanely jealous. Of course, it perhaps helps if you’re willing to pay for plane tickets to Australia!

(And let’s not forget that Woomera‘s Joint Tracking Facility was a big part of the Moon effort.)

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How I Can Afford My Palatial Lifestyle

Forbes admits that our metropolitan area is pretty darned affordable.

Well, I don’t live on the palatial end… but it’s amazing how much more expensive other metropolitan areas can be, with nothing to show for it.

It helps to be in a highway crossroads area. And there are plenty of nice houses around, as well as farmland, woods, meadows, etc.

My brother’s house isn’t huge, but the various generations of add-ons by previous owners resulted in four attics, a two-story garage with a mezzanine, and eleven rooms. (Unless I missed a few.) And he didn’t spend a fortune on it, either.

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Reporter Stacy McCain’s Wife Harassed by Domestic Terrorist Brett Kimberlin

Stacy McCain has been writing about it on his blog in a humorous vein for the last few days, but it’s not funny.

Stacy McCain is an independent blogger, reporter, and humorist who works hard and makes the world better.

Who is Brett Kimberlin?

Brett Kimberlin is a multiply-convicted criminal who was finally convicted as the infamous Speedway Bomber, after terrorizing the Indianapolis area. He has dedicated his new life on the outside to harassment, lies, and getting stupid people to give him money. But his daddy was a rich lawyer and he knows all the right people, so all that’s okay.


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Elizabeth Moon Gets Used and Abused by the BBC Website

Elizabeth Moon, a well-known science fiction and fantasy writer, got invited as a guest on a BBC radio show called The Forum. Mostly it’s a discussion show, but there’s also a feature where each guest should come up with some crazy, wacky idea and talk about it for 60 seconds. This portion of the show is “The Sixty Second Idea.”

So yeah, in typical geeky style, because she was thinking about the identification of dead and unconscious persons, probably because she works with horses tattooed with numbers in the mouth to prevent theft and fraud, and probably because the story of a lost and unidentified child is at the heart of her first and current fantasy novel series, she picked the crazy idea of a universal ID system for humans, with the ID applied at birth.

What she didn’t realize was that The Sixty Second Idea is also a promotional feature on the BBC radio websites. On the webpage, these are presented not as crazy theoreticals shot out there for fun and funniness, but as things seriously advocated and pushed by the person. And of course they picked a scary graphic and so forth.

So now, the sensible and libertarianish Ms. Moon is being presented on Slashdot as some kind of totalitarian wannabe. And of course someone has quoted Revelation. Of course they have.

Argh argh argh argh argh. I hate this kind of thing. And I especially hate it when fellow geeks can’t detect when a geek has been put in a bad situation by not sussing out what the mundanes want to do. I’m a different brand of geek. I’m pretty socially oblivious, but this is one of the few areas when I can tell what’s going on with people. Sort of Murphy’s Law vision. I’m Epimetheus for certain categories of fan kerfuffle.

Oh, well. What can’t be cured must be endured.

One of the ironclad social laws of all humanity, geek or not, is that nobody really wants to hear you throw out a really wild idea, and they will always blame you for it and assign ownership of it to you, and they will come up with a worse version in their own head and still assign ownership to you. Anything that happens that is vaguely connected to the idea will also be your fault. Forever.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t come up with wild ideas or throw them out into the world. But it does mean that you should always expect to be attacked for them. Even more, if it turns out to be a good idea.

But if it’s a profitable, moral idea with no bad consequences, which becomes widely accepted, it will never be your idea ever again. 🙂

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Scottish Honey-Glazed Chicken

Man, this recipe sounds good. They call it “Chicken in the Heather”.


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St. Hildegarde — Maker of Oat Groat Beer?

I picked up some licorice (candy) and fennel (bulb and leaves) at the store, which of course made me go read some more of St. Hildegarde of Bingen’s Physica again. (Yup, ran across even more home remedies full of licorice and fennel.)

Anyway, under the entry for ash trees, the eclectic St. Hildegarde notes:

“If you want to prepare beer from oats, without hops, cook it only with groats [whole oats with the hulls off], and with many ash leaves added. When drunk, the beer will purge the stomach and make the chest light and pleasant.” (Apparently, sometimes “purge” means it makes you sick, but other times it just means it makes the pipes run faster or unclog. This seems to be about the latter.)

(However, European ash trees have a lot more edible parts, but US ones have toxic leaves and other parts; so probably this isn’t a flavoring for US homebrewers to try.)

It turns out that oat beer can include a fair amount of fiber, though probably not enough to lower your cholesterol.

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Free Kids’ Movies at Rave Motion Pictures Theaters

I don’t know how long it’s been going, or how long it’s going on, or which of your local theaters is participating, or whether you’ll like the selections. I think it just started this week, and will keep going for nine weeks. It looks like they’re shipping the prints to different theaters each week, so some theaters don’t start for a few weeks yet.

But they’re having free movies.

Obviously they’re going to run those commercials for the charity, but they also want to teach your kids how to go to the movies. (And to want to go, so they’ll have another generation of patrons.)

And honestly, going to the movies in the middle of the day with a bunch of other kids — that’s not the worst way to learn. Takes a lot of pressure off, if you do it that way instead of waiting for some party with people you know.

A lot of movie chains run various “free” or “discount” events during the weekdays, to fill empty theaters. Many have discount days as well as the traditional matinee pricing. Some libraries, universities, etc. also run movie stuff during the summer, and some parks do “picnic-in” night movies on big screens or convenient building walls. So if your A/C breaks down or you need a cheap daytrip, consider going to the movies cheap.

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