Saturday, December 24, 2011

A 36" Tree




In a This is Spinal Tap moment, I accidentally ordered a 36" tree when I wanted a 36' one. Just as well. I have no idea how I would have gotten a 36-foot tree in here anyway.

Ba-dump.




The big snowflakes are new this year. Also, I added a string of white bulbs hanging from the railing. Like the snowflakes they're LED's so they should last a long time.

I looked around, and I seem to be the only one in the complex who has hung icicle lights. I have them hanging at the edges of the balcony, and over my sliding-glass doors.

Anyway it's not too bad of a decorating job, considering I didn't even start until 4 pm today. (I watched the Bucs lose their ninth straight. Aargh!)

As with last year, I figured I'd post "In Hoc Anno Domini," which the Wall Street Journal has published every Christmas Eve since 1949. It's not exactly cheerful, but it gives a good idea (I think) of what Christmas is all about.


In Hoc Anno Domini

So, I have presents to wrap. Also, like I do every year, I'm going to watch the midnight mass from St. Peter's. (No, I'm not Catholic, but they do this stuff up right.)

So, Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Worst Since '87...



Cowboys @ Bucs


Well, the Bucs are enduring their worst single-season slide since '87. However, if there's something to be learned from the win that the 1-13 Colts got over the Titans, it's that if you hold out long enough, things will turn around. (In a statement of faith, I went and bought a season ticket for next year.)

Anyway, I toyed with the idea of wearing a bag over my head at the game. I'm glad I didn't, as Bucs fans were outnumbered about 2-1 by Cowboys fans. I didn't want to pile-on, especially as many Cowboys fans seem uniquely obnoxious.

That said, some others are wearing bags.

Return of the Bag





It's kind of funny, but with all the Cowboys fans there, I didn't see any of them wearing an actual cowboy hat. It's as if the thought never occurred to them.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Buccaneers Anonymous



"I have wept openly when the Bucs have lost. I have wept openly when the Bucs have won. I have wept openly when the Bucs have had a bye week. I do a lot of weeping, for I am a Bucs fan."


I guess this is as good a time as any to admit to buying a season ticket to the Bucs this year. They're blacked-out again this year (same as last) so it's the only way to see them. (Well, it's either that, or drive down to Fort Meyers, the closest market that's not blacked-out. But seeing as the driving distance is the same, why not just go see the damn game in person?)

By a strange coincidence, one of the HR reps where I work is involved with the "Bucs Bus" pictured above. Though I walk by this bus on the way into every game I haven't seen her at any of them yet. I hear she messed up her knee so that might be the problem; she's been out of work for all this month.

They have a website, with more pics. I don't quite see the point of having such a set-up. When I tailgate, I literally sit on the tailgate of my truck. But to each his own.

Me, I'm wondering if they can even watch the game on their t.v.

http://bucnraysbus.webs.com/

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wrote page 200...considering MFA

Well, I finally wrote page 200 in my novel. I started working on this thing probably five years ago, but had to take a break from it when I was going to school.

Having accomplished this, it has made me seriously think about getting a Master in Fine Arts (MFA) in creative writing. It's not like I'm doing anything else interesting in my life. I've been working the same shitty, waiting-to-get-laid-off factory job for the past twelve years. I know my bachelor's in technical writing is worthless (they promote only young people at work), so I might as well pursue something I'm interested in.

Okay, each course will cost about $1200. Maybe I'll just take one or two courses, see if it's worth the money. But still, at least it's a plan.

There can't be too many 44 year-old machinists looking to get into the MFA program. So maybe I can get in on sheer "diversity" alone. ;-)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Yell for Cadel!

Yell for Cadel

First time I've ever heard the anthem of Australia. I have no idea who the girl is, but she sings it well. She starts in around 2:45.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Yet another surgery



It wasn't a rash after all....



Back on Thursday, I had to get a carcinoma on my cheek removed through Mohs surgery. It's where they take off your skin in layers until they get to clean skin.

Moh's Surgery

Not sure how confident I feel about a procedure titled "Double PacMan" but there you go. At least the stats say this is pretty effective, around 95% plus.

Anyway, the plastic surgeon who reconstructed my face had to take a skin graft from my clavicle to cover the area. So I have a big bandage on the side of my face now, where the carcinoma was, and a long strip of bandage going from below my neck to above my right shoulder, where he took the skin graft.

From what the plastic surgeon said, there are stitches under both of these bandages. Frankly, I'm not looking forward to looking at myself in a mirror. Even after everything is healed up, the grafted skin won't look quite the same as the original.

I guess I'm lucky, because if the cancer had gone deep enough in my face then it could have caused nerve damage, affecting my ability to smile. (It didn't, so I'm cool that way.) Also, the area is back on the side of my face, just in front of my ear, so it might not be all that noticeable anyway.

Also, not to be facetious about this, but I am a guy. If I were a woman, I'd think this would pose more of a problem.

After all, does anyone really think Guy Boucher is ugly?

Lightning Head Coach

Still though, this whole thing scared me. Hell, I just thought I had a rash.

So, the moral of the story is to look out for yourselves...

Friday, May 6, 2011

STS-134...Not! Also, other stuff.



Outside...





Inside...




A closer-view of my World War Two era M-1. The Marlin is no slouch either; it's a .44 mag. They're both fun to shoot.



So, you can see I finally bought a gun safe. After reading up as much as I could on the subject I settled on this one, a 10-gun Sentry. At less than $300 it's what some articles on safes call an "entry-level" safe, but I figure it'll do. It was the only safe at any of the local stores that was light enough for me to get up the stairs to my apartment. Also, it's light enough I don't have to worry about it falling through the floor. (The modular, $1200 Zanotti I considered buying weighs over two and a half times as much as this one.)

Though a lot of safes now have digital locks instead of mechanical dials, I don't see the point of those. They seem to be a solution in search of a problem. This one works fine.

In other news, I did not make the trip to see the launch of STS-134. Just as well as it got scrubbed, but also there were supposedly 750,000 people in attendance. When I saw the last launch there were "only" half as many people in the area yet traffic coming back was still horrible. Unless I could possibly get a room over there for a launch I won't be going back for any more; it's just too much of a hassle.

As for why I missed the launch...in addition to having reservations about traffic and whatnot, I ended up getting some minor (outpatient) surgery done. Around five years ago I had either a horrible case of stomach flu, or maybe food poisoning. Regardless of the cause it gave me such bad stomach cramps that I actually gave myself a small muscle tear. For years I didn't notice anything except a small bump near my bellybutton. Well, it got worse so I finally went to a doctor.

I had an "umbilical hernia". Turns out that's a weak spot in the stomach muscles, and it tore. My bowels were trying to go out through the hole. So, they put a piece of mesh in there. It's about 2.5 inches across. (Now that I think about it, you can repair holes in wallboard the same way.) They did it back on April 29th. It's an outpatient thing, so I was home the same day. And after the Percocet started working, I was feeling no pain. (I stopped taking the stuff two days later. By that time the pain had diminished greatly, and I was getting a bit tired of being stoned all the time.)

Anyway,I'm out on disability until the 23rd of May. Other than the fact that I can't lift anything heavy until that time I'm fully functional, yet because my job entails heavy lifting I can't do it. Oh, well.

Until that time I'm trying to stay busy working on my novel. I'm also spending time making some ammo, though I'm limiting myself to tasks that require no lifting, like cutting already-sized cases to length and re-priming them. By the time I'm well, I should have about 200 .45 ACP cases ready to be completed.





100 cases, ready to be primed. I have another 100 that need some work before they get to this point.







Without a primer in the pocket you can see all the way through the case. They call this the "flash hole." This will be how the primer ignites the gunpowder. Fascinating, no?

Anyway, my enemy now is boredom. I'm not used to sitting around on my butt so much. Yesterday, I drove 30 miles just to buy two pounds of coffee. With the launch of STS-134 scheduled for the 16th, maybe I will drive over there after all....

Sunday, February 27, 2011

STS-133



I saw Discovery's launch for maybe twenty seconds, then it disappeared into some clouds. I did, however, get to see it through my 20x spotting scope. It looked pretty good, for the short period of time that I could see it.

For the most part though, the trip wasn't really worth it. Traffic was so bad it took me five-and-a-half hours to get back. (It took only four to get there.) Honestly, if I'd had any sense I would have just gotten a motel room in Cocoa Beach and stayed the night. There are, after all, other things to do there.

All the way back I told myself I'm not going to the next launch, but I probably will. There won't be any shuttle launches after that, so I'd hate to miss the last one. I'll just get a room.

Also, there are other launches, as satellites and whatnot are always being sent up. Many are so unpublicized that you have to search the web to see when they're being launched. (More than once I've turned on NASA TV and been surprised at seeing a rocket going up.)

So anyway, here's the video. I was looking through the scope, which is why the camera is just pointed in the vaguest of directions.

video

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

RIP, Glass Shelf









I came home at 1am to find this. It took me until about 3am to clean it up. I still feel like a dumb-ass for putting too much on that shelf. And I still get a chuckle out of looking at these pics.

Seriously though, that shelf was supposed to be able to handle 25 pounds. I don't think I had anywhere near that on there. (The only heavy unit is the stereo, and that's on the bottom shelf.)

The glass was heavy, tempered stuff. I'm still surprised that it cut loose like this.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

RUGBY! (or, Wait...what?)



Wait...what?

I just watched my first Rugby match. BBC America is carrying it every Saturday over the next month or so. Times start around 11:30am eastern time, 8:30am pacific.

I'm hooked.

BBC America Six Nations Rugby

I didn't quite get all the rules, but that didn't stop me from enjoying it. It's a lot like our football, but tackling doesn't seem to do much as the person tackled can still toss the ball to the nearest teammate (though I guess if you hold his legs still, the ball becomes dead at that point.) And though I don't quite get the point of a "scrum" (one commenter said it looks like a cross between a tug-of-war and an orgy) I'm guessing it's something like a face-off in hockey.

A few neat things: they don't stop play for much of anything. Except for maybe the halftime, I don't think there were even any commercial breaks. Even injuries are tended to while play is still in session, with the game sometimes going right over injured players and medical staff on the field.

I actually enjoyed it more than the Super Bowl, which was sort of left me cold. (It's just another football game. Why all the hype? And I'm glad I'm not the only one who was underwhelmed by the Black Eyed Peas. Then again though, don't all halftime shows suck?)




BBC America has some neat hosts. Here they are with some American football player. (I can't remember his name.)

And somehow, he got seated in front of an athletic supporter and a cup! Very nice. He was a good sport about it.



Anyway, Rugby has no pads, no real breaks, no commercials, and unlike soccer, no one fakes injuries because it doesn't do one any good to do so. If you haven't tried watching a game, give it a shot.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Old vs. New, pt. 2



Home-made fireworks. I make a good-looking round, don't I?


I went shooting the other day. I shot .45 ACP and .38 Special, 100 rounds of each. In terms of caliber, the .45 ACP has been around since 1905, the .38 Special since 1902. There have been no significant changes in their designs in a century, yet they work fine. I was certainly able to hit the target with both.




(I actually shot four guns, two of each caliber. It took three hours to clean them. Ugh. I gotta stop shooting so many guns at once.)


Anyway, I don't totally want to bust on new things. For example, my 1911-type .45 is a classic design, yet has more parts than my .45 Ruger. This is because the 1911 hasn't been changed significantly since the 30's, while the Ruger is a more modern design.



Ruger P-97, stripped. Ain't much to it, is there?






Para 1911-type, stripped. Ain't a whole lot more, but I count two more parts to it than the Ruger has. Also, it's harder to strip as you pretty much need a tool to get it to this point.


So, not all modern things are crap. Still though, the improvement(s) of the Ruger over the 1911 are pretty slight; some people might even prefer the 1911. Also, the Ruger is based on the 1911 (almost all pistols today are).

So, one could say that the Ruger is an old design. Though that's debatable, there's one thing that's not: barring natural disaster, both guns will be working long after both my t.v.'s have crapped out.

Old vs. New, pt. 1




My 19" RCA still works. I bought it around '92, and until '07 or '08 it was my only t.v. That's at least fifteen years of daily duty, and it's still trucking.

Meanwhile, my 42" Vizio crapped out after about 18 months. So, while I'm waiting for it to get fixed (they apparently take their time on warranty work) I'm back watching my little t.v.

I can't believe this was my only t.v.--for fifteen years. Good God, it seems tiny now.

Anyway, is there something about new technology that causes it to become worthless quickly? Why is it that hardcore bikers can roar around on 50's era Harleys while cars made today won't last even twenty years? Is it due to an overbearing urge to make things work better today, even at the expense of longevity?

I recently had to rent a car for a week. It was a 2011 Nissan something or other, with almost no miles on it. First off, I was blown-away at all the controls the thing had. Its dashboard looked like the Space Shuttle's, and even more functions were on one of two turn-signal type levers that required the dexterity of a brain-surgeon to use correctly. It took me almost the entire week to find out how to open the rear hatchback. (It this wonderful futureland, there will be no mechanical button or latch to open your trunk. Oh no, it's a hidden electronic-type button that only works if you first push the "unlock" button twice on your keyfob.) Opening the gas-cap required serious study (that button is down near the driver's knees), and, well...the entire car was nice but overly-complex.

So, how long before all that crap breaks? Does anyone care? I'm guessing not. After all, isn't the name of the game to sell people even more crap that they don't really need?