Friday, December 27, 2013

Note to Self - Thai Food Is Hot

So, when going to a little hole in the wall Thai restaurant where the gentleman behind the to-go buffet at the front and the waitress are clearly Thai, and the appetizers are not being recorded on the notepad in any western script...

Do not accidentally order a dish, with nearly-correct Thai pronunciation, that is a variation not on the menu.

If you do, and realize it when the waitress looks at you in surprise and says "Oh! Yes! We can make that, too!", the first thing to do is hastily apologize, and say no, you'll be pleased to eat whatever the cook wants to make, your apologies.

Realize, the cook is going to bring the dish out, and the main entree, and that when the main entree comes out, the "mild" you asked for is going to be Native-Thai-mild, not American-mild. Smile, eat the dish, try to pick out the shaved slices of thai bird chilis, and declare it perfect. Because it's your fault for absentmindedly letting the very nice waitress assume you know enough about the culture and food to be able to handle the culture and food.

So, remember, self!
Tom Yung Koong is tom yum soup with shrimp. That is what Siam Cafe offers. Tom Yum Gai is with Chicken. Do not order tom yum gai if it's not on the menu, or be prepared to sniffle and sweat through your "mild" Koong Pad Ped! (red curry with shrimp and veggies)

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Bacon Theory of Happiness

There's a nifty little four-square chart I run occasionally, to illuminating experience. I track all the tasks I actually do in a day, and sort them into Critical-Ugent, Critical-Nonurgent, Noncritical-Urgent, Noncritical-Nonurgent.

You don't need to be bored with the minutiae of my day, and I'm sure you can substitute things from your own day. But the reason is to force me to look past all the people wanting things right now, and make sure I get the right things done. Distractions and time-eating tasks will pop up everywhere, and competence means your bosses will want to hand you lots more tasks because you Get Things Done. (It also helps me figure out when I need to start load-shedding tasks on subordinates, and when I need to start load-shedding tasks on coworkers or bosses. Surprisingly, when I come back to my boss with the critical-urgent list and say "Which of these following tasks do you want me to drop in order to do your new Project X?", they're usually pretty good about saying "Oh, I'm going to do that myself", or "I think I'll give that to your coworker, instead."

The second tool I use is a process flowchart - a high-level concept of "what do we actually need in order to get the product to the customer?" This proves very valuable at communicating with other departments when I need to borrow their resources, and with knowing when it's a really, really smart idea to crimp my efficiency and lend the asked-for help. (And when it's a really, really smart idea not to, as well.) However, it also means that when one of my subordinates comes up to me and says "Can we try X process change to make my life easier?", I can respond, "If we do X, it's going to hurt Y, which will affect getting the product to the customer." (I don't say 'out the door' because some of the unpopular process changes I have done were to cut down on damage in transit. If the customer isn't happy with the end product, we failed.)

The most important chart I have, though, is the Bacon Theory of Happiness flowchart.

1. Customer wants something, and they want it by the promised delivery date.
2. We get the right product to the right customer, in the shape they expect, at or before the promised time.
3. The customer is happy, and recommends us to their friends.
4. We grow, and get more money to buy bacon. Life is Happy.
5. If we fail to get the right product, or the right customer, or the right time, the customer is unhappy.
6. If the customer is unhappy, they actively recommend against using us.
7. This means less money, so we get laid off and can't afford bacon.
8. Life without bacon is Sad. We don't want to be sad.
9. So, make the customer happy, and enjoy our bacon!

Everyone from the head of the project to the freshest new employee gets the Bacon Theory of Happiness. They may roll their eyes at it and proclaim it hokey, but it does a good job of introducing the concept of "consider everyone downstream of you when you are doing your job, or you will lack bacon and happiness." Sometimes I provide rewards and encourage happiness; sometimes I unfortunately must point out that their causing unhappy customers despite coaching, counseling, and retraining means they will now be one of the unhappy bacon-less people. Either way, we all have a common bacon ground of understanding.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Oh, shirt...

I own very few offensive t-shirts, no matter who's defining offensive. Most of my shirts are for places I've worked, vendors whose stuff I sold (and liked) at places I worked, in-state Alaskan airlines, and several military units. (Elmendorf Air Force Base hosts an airshow every two years, and all the support groups host the food and swag booths. So as you walk down the row, you get "Hey! Have a hot dog! Support the Paratroopers!" "Ignore him! Have a burger from our maintenance unit! They couldn't fly without us!" "Hey, they only work on airplanes! Get some cotton candy from the helicopter pilots! We're cooler!" And every single beer-and-brats unit morale fund has t-shirts available for sale. The Blue Angel's slick professional booth looks so out of place compared to the firefighters vs. the small marine group vs. the maintenance units vs. the AWACs crew and their sharpie-on-cardboard signs and cheerful rivalry. How could I not support the guys?)

In fact, other than the shirts I buy to help support Operation Migration (who got this year's flock of whooping cranes to Tennessee yesterday! Another year, another eight birds away from extinction!), I rarely buy t-shirts at all. So I rarely think about what I'm wearing to work beyond "short or long sleeve?"

This week, I was waiting for my boss to finish the meeting-after-the-meeting, so I could provide a quick update on some info I'd presented. One of the gaggle of higher-ups gestured at me as I was waiting a polite distance away, and said to several other layers of management, "And I absolutely love her t-shirt."

I quickly looked down to check what I had on, and tried to remain calm as several heads swung around to stare at my chest. "What is it?" Asked someone even higher up the food chain. It's a shirt Oleg gave me after I had a cooking mishap at his house, I thought.

"It's the front sight on an M16." The short-haired, ramrod-straight-spined manager responded, with a grin. "I've spent so much time looking through one of those..."

I looked at all the eyes looking from him to me, and responded to a raised eyebrow of inquiry. "I figured it's amusing to those who know what it is, and completely inoffensive to anyone else, because they won't be offended by what they can't recognize."

"Ah." The bossly heads nodded, and moved on.

And now I'm left wondering - do I wear a shirt that makes a manager upstream grin, or do I remove it for possible offensiveness? In reality, it's now in the dirty clothes bin, and will probably just end up back in the rotation, forgotten until that manager starts grinning when I'm presenting at another meeting.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The little furry socialist

Housecats are consummate socialists.

1. What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine, too.
2. Yes, I know you provide free food. But it's filthy swill! Give me better free food!
3. Work? Oh, yes, that's what you do. Get to it.
4. I love you. Wait, no, I kill you. Wait, I love you! So I just bit you - pet me now!
5. My catbox, it is filthy. But we know it isn't mine, because my excrement doesn't stink. So clean up your own excrement, human.
6. It's 3am, and I've decided I'm not getting enough handouts. Snap to it!
7. Shiny! Shiny! Shiny! Shiny! .... what? Stop looking at me like that!
8. I meant to do that. That so totally was my idea in the first place. Ahem. If I look perfect, right after this shoulder gets groomed, then of course everything is the way it should be.
9. What? My claws needed sharpening. What do I care if I'm trashing the accomodations and the sofa? You can always provide another one for me.
10. You expect me to do tricks? I don't work for food.
11. Why are you trying to take my fur off your business suit? It's the perfect fashion accessory! Are you daring to criticize my fashion, slave of the state? Death by twenty claws on your hose-covered legs!

12. So you're interrupting my nap by mopping, eh? Well, I could stay on this nice warm blanket, or I could hop down onto the freshly mopped floor. Hmmm. YAAAUGH!! It's WET!! How disgusting! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING! HOW COULD YOU MAKE THE FLOOR WET?!?

13. I'll forgive you if you give me more catnip, toys, and heavy whipping cream. Ahem. This is a claw. I said, I'll forgive you if...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pumpkin Rolling

It's time to remove hoofed rats from the road to the freezer with .50 & .54 cal - no, not BFG deer season, muzzleloading season. I have a muzzleloader, and I have a sore shoulder and a sincere desire to sleep in, so I loaned it to a friend with a promise of cooking whatever venison dish he wants if he brings the gun and some venison back.

Then I went to a spot much, much closer to the suburbs, and met up with Oleg Volk and a friend for much smaller targets. Oleg brought a suppressed .22 pistol with subsonic rounds, a .22 revolver with rounds that were only primer and bullet, no powder, and a suppressed .22 rifle on a bipod - so almost all shooting could be done without hearing protection at all, as the shots were about as loud as an air rifle. We defined a safe window of opportunity, and then one person carried pumpkins to the top of the hill, and set them rolling off at an angle down the sloping path in the side of the hill. As soon as the pumpkin was far enough away horizontally from the roller, and far enough below the skyline that there was a good backstop, the shooting commenced - hit it on the move as it bounces, rolls, and caroms off small trees!

Leaves flew. Dirt sprayed. Every now and then, a small hole appeared, or a chip of pumpkin flew off. Every now and then, a pumpkin met a solid tree, and split. I discovered that, despite all the walking I do every day for work, ten miles on flat concrete does not mean I'm in good shape for hustling up a steep hill. Also, I only got four or five hits out of a ten-round magazine on the pumpkin. Clearly, I need to practice more!

Its a better day than I hoped, though - I got home to find an exhausted young boy with a grin bigger than his head wrapped up in blankets and watching tv, while the friend was out doing stuff. I may have killed a few pumpkins, but the kid got a six-point buck! Seventy five pounds dressed weight after a clean heart shot - time to break out the venison recipes!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Making Friends and Influencing People

Warning: mentions politics. Do not respond with regurgitated political talking points and thoughtless one-liners, even if you know I like you as a person.

So, Virginia just had a very close race, and the Republicans lost. The immediate, and inevitable result happened - the Republicans turn around and say "You Stupid Libertarians! If you'd only done the smart thing and voted for our person, we would have won! It's all your fault we lost!"

Let's deconstruct this message for a minute, and maybe some of you will understand why this neither makes friends nor influences voters the way you want them to.

1. Libertarians are not Republicans. They don't have the same goals, the same ideals, the same aims, or the same parties. In fact, if you look into the mass of libertarians, you'll soon realize that while they have a lot of differences, they're often less divisive in aggregate than the republican party - and they are far, far away from the "RINO" Republicans that hold the elected seats and are the face and power of that party.

2. If, after every election, you shout and scream at someone "It's All Your Fault, You Expletive!", people don't forget these insults. They remember, and it makes them even less likely to vote for your candidate even if there's overlap with their ideals at the next election.

3. The non-participation of registered voters always far outweighs the percentage of registered voters who went third party. Even if you assume that all the votes were true (very unlikely; we know there's fraud), 20% of the registered voters didn't turn out for this "close" race.

4. People who haven't got a majority party will take any funding they can to use to their end. Look, in South Africa, the apartheid government refused to educate blacks. The western world turned its back on 'em and basically said "You're no longer a colony, so it's not our problem." The only people who would take the desperate and the disaffected and give them education and training were... China and the USSR. In the end, the communist guerrillas they trained, in the form of the "African National Congress", essentially brought down the government and won the civil war. (See who's in power today.) Yes, they've now made a bloody mess of a once-vibrant economy, because that's what communists do, but the point is - if a Democrat-affiliated donor offers a lot of money to a third party, they're neither stupid nor slow, and they're not blindly suckered by a conspiracy theory. Nor will they turn it down and remain poor just to satisfy the Other Main Party's wish for 'ideological purity.'

Put these four points together, and consider how, after several elections worth of finger-pointing and blaming, the message is loud and clear: "I'm not even going to check into what you want, or who your guy is, you have to vote for mine because I think he's right, even if he doesn't want what you do, and I'm going to point the finger and blame you again anyway if we lose... no matter how many of my people didn't think he was worth voting for and sat this one out."

That is NOT the way to get the libertarian vote on your side. I don't care if your candidate is the second coming of Thomas Jefferson, if your party has a history of treating swing voters like that, they're not going to vote for your guy. Add in the long-established Republican tradition of making some noises to the right virtues, and then acting like.. well, John McCain and Chris Christie, Scott Brown and Mitch McConnell... and no, you're not going to woo a lot of badly burned and thoroughly disgusted voters of an entirely different party by a last ditch effort of "But this one's Tea Party! He's Awesome! You've got to ditch your candidate and support ours because he's making all our right noises!" Even if it's true.

Look to your non-participation rate within your own party before you start casting about for a third-party scapegoat, guys, because a dog may lick the boot that kicked it, but swing voters, and voters that belong to another party with different aims and goals than yours, sure won't. All you're doing is ensuring they won't vote for your guy in the next election.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Independent Spirits

We have a major front blowing through this afternoon and evening, and it's been raining and gusting up to 35mph all day. (For those Alaskan giggling at the idea of that as bad weather, remember we have big rigid trees with horizontal limbs down here, and termites. What passes for mild blusteriness in the land of aspens and birch instead makes for falling widowmakers taking out powerlines, the odd roof, cars both parked and moving... and with the massive leaf dump they call fall here, the streets are slick with wet windblown leaves. Kinda like wet ice, in a weird patchy way, to drive on.

The local municipalities took one look at the forecast and promptly cancelled Halloween, moving it to Friday night. I shook my head, put on the porch light, and filled the candy bowl. And they came. Not in as great a number as last year, and the young ones ran from the shelter of the car to the house and back, while the free-roaming clumps inevitably had an older brother or two herding the little ones around with a wary eye to any cars coming - and lots of costumes were looking rather the worse for wind and rain - but they came. No governmental edict or foul weather will keep an American kid from hitting up the neighbors for Halloween candy!

Tomorrow I suspect I'll see a lot less soaked costumes, and more watchful parents approving the events... and tomorrow, I'll ration the candy. Tonight, fortune favors the bold, and they can get what they want for thumbing their nose at those who would cancel trick or treat "for the children's safety."

I love America!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

flying and driving

I got one of those looks from a physician's assistant today, when she read my paperwork and saw I'd put "human" down for my race. But hey, it's true - and I don't believe for a second that assorting and dividing myself and everyone around me into neat checkboxes by skin color or proclaimed fractions of ancestry is going to promote anything but racism. So, human.

When pulling out of the parking lot, I had a revelation that will make awkwardly big pickup trucks much easier to park in the future... trucks that are front wheel drive have the back end follow the front end almost exactly when you pull out. I'd been trying to drive and park the oversized thing like it was a taildragger, or a five-ton order picker, or a double-walkie, or a tugger with a long chain of cages behind it. It's a whole lot easier to pull out of a parking bay when you're not trying to watch for the back end kicking out into a the parked car next to you. *facepalm*

Tells you what I've been driving a lot lately, doesn't it? Not really, there's been a fair bit of work on a reach truck, too, and loading semis with a clamp truck. (Not fun, but it's what I had, we needed to get things moved, and I'm a certified warm body.)

Last weekend I flew in a Cessna 172, with lots of bells and whistles and the new-leather smell of a shiny young airplane. It responds to rudder inputs with all the speed and agility of a drunk three sheets to the wind, but man, are her ailerons snappy! And flaps! Wow, flaps! How cool are flaps! I miss flaps. I was way behind the airplane - even as muscle memory finally caught up, the situational awareness wasn't quite there. The CFI in the left seat seemed to think (or at least he said) I was doing just fine on the landing - but I wasn't. I mean, a nosewheel is so forgiving that I didn't even bounce on the landings, but on my T-crate, some of those would have been tuck-your-tail-between-your-legs-and-crawl-off-the-runway landings. The Cessna? Man, it probably wouldn't even have noticed if I'd landed cross-controlled and with the ailerons the wrong way for a crosswind gust. I'm used to thinking of the Taylorcraft as forgiving - compared to the squirrel-on-crack roll rate and lack of climb of a Grumman yankee, or the sheer throttle and p-factor of a properly modded supercub, she is. But a Cessna 172 - she's as friendly and forgiving, and as willing to play, as a black lab (though with much less underpants-stealing than Barkley.)

This, of course, brings my mind back to landings I made when learning to fly in a 172, and I want to tuck my tail between my legs and crawl off the internets. I've gotten better before, I'll get better yet!

(And I'm taking the CFI for a spin in my old girl this weekend, weather permitting. I wonder if it'll be as interesting for him as the Cessna was for me? He sounds so excited I better haul my butt out to the airport and wash her before then, make her as pretty as I can so he's not too disappointed when he sees a functional but far from show-piece plane.)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mass migration

I know I now live in one of the major migration flyways. I know I'm not too far from where the whooping cranes come through on their way to Florida (I have got to see that, one of these years.) But knowing and getting distracted on the way to work by thousands of small birds rising in a cloud like candle smoke in a breeze, like sparks when a fresh log is thrown on the bonfire... wow. There's something quite comical about watching a thousand birds all try to land on the same stretch of telephone wire... I'm really surprised there weren't a lot of mid-air collisions and fallout of feathers. Nobody got into a tailspin, or crashed. Born flyers, that lot!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Life is Good

Yesterday, due to a variety of things, I got a chance to take the day off work. It wasn't as straightforward as that, and "the day off work" only occurred after a meeting with my boss to plan some future projects, and then touching base with a few coworkers and staff in different sections. On the way out the door, I got ambushed by two subordinates on their first week here, who wanted to know "How are we really doing?"

A good question, that. They didn't want to hear "fine". In a society that's giving participation awards to everyone who shows up, (and then not able to explain away business cutting everyone who doesn't make the grade) I don't blame them for being jittery at being told "You're doing fine."

So I stopped short of the glorious sunlight beckoning me outdoors, and looked each of them in the eye. You're doing good, I told them. None of your mistakes are catastrophic, they're all well within what I expect from people in their first week, and you both are making fewer mistakes as you get everything down. You've caused me no headaches, and you've helped get the job done. Y'all are doing good, and I expect you're going to only get better and faster from here, as you get mentally and physically used to the job.

My new subordinates surprised me, then. The older one nodded, and thanked me, and then stuck out his hand. I gave him a good shake, because I don't do weak or limp handshakes, and shook the hand of the younger one that followed his lead. I'm used to handshakes on sealing deals, and on greetings and sometimes farewells after get-togethers or church (but I'm a lady; I usually hug friends instead.) I'm not sure if that was a farewell shake, or if we sealed something there. But, hey, they seemed happy with the honest (if not particularly carefully phrased) answer.

On the way home, I rolled down the windows to some cool August air, cranked up the Cruxshadows, and then burst out laughing. See, when I was a teen, I once wanted to play hooky. But after cutting the class, I realized there was nowhere to go when you don't have a car, nothing to do if you don't have money, no one to do it with, and it would all be soured by a fear of getting caught anyway. So I went back to class, pulled the next Baen book out of my bag, stuck it in the textbook, and escaped into another world.

I'm mumble years old now, three inches taller and mumble pounds heavier, with some pretty scarred up joints to mark the adventures along the way - but now I can take a day off in the bright sunshine, with a car and a plane to go anywhere, cash in the wallet and credit card to finance any whim, and a husband to get into adventures with me. It took a while, but I have everything my teenage self wanted so badly. (Except for being an astronaut, but, well, give me a few more decades of living and accumulating cash, and Virgin Galactic / Space X moving forward with space tourism, and we'll see!)

Life's pretty good, y'know?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

going nova

Hey, wanna see something cool? For the first time in years, there's a brand new nova in the night sky that's bright enough to see with the naked eye! (Or with the glasses-covered eye, for those of us who are nearsighted.)

Nova Delphini 2013 - read about it here!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Paleo is for cats

Calmer Half grew up with a dog and three cats; I grew up with a cat. This means Calmer Half is quite used to the dog making leftovers disappear, and grazing on the grapes in the arbor. I am quite used to a cat requesting ingredients in the cooking process, but having nothing to do with leftovers. (It was quite funny the first time I realized the cat was starting her squeak with a yawn because she was trying to imitate an "h" sound. To wit: yawn-squeak was "hhham" and yawn-squeak-squeak-squeak was "hhham-bur-ger". Tuna was a high chirp, quickly followed by a low chirp. I miss that cat.)

We're on a rather low carb diet, trying to force weight loss when Calmer Half's body just won't let him do extended exercise. This means everything we eat is either meat, vegetables, or dairy... and have you seen cat food lately? "tuna and green peas", "turkey and squash", "wild salmon florentine" are not uncommon.

Heck, wild salmon florentine sounds like a recipe I could bash together for dinner tonight.

Yes, this means the cat is constantly underfoot in the kitchen, and watching the slow cooker when it's full of pulled pork, and requesting some dinner. (She's starving, she tells you!) However, it also means that if I can't finish dinner, or there's a mixing bowl or serving platter that needs licked clean, the cat is perfectly happy to fill the usual household role of a dog.


There's something wrong with this picture. But hey, the cat's happy, the people are happy, and all the dishes go in the dishwasher afterward anyway, so why not?

Saturday, August 3, 2013


We are now owned by a cat. This is a right and proper state of affairs, and we had been informed by several neighborhood strays that it was a crime to be catless. However, instead of housing them, we got a cat from a shelter. Not having the energy for a kitten, we got a full-grown cat. She is patterned like a cerval shrunk to tabby size, several years old and very self-assured.

The cat-shaped hole in my heart has been filled.

However, I had forgotten in the years since the last cat how difficult some things could get with feline inquiry and assistance. For example, making egg drop soup with a few wontons - first you boil the wontons, then remove them to add the beaten egg. As I was putting the wontons back into the soup, a small paw nailed me in the back of my right knee. I yelped, fumbled, and splat a wonton stuffed with pork hit the floor.

You know, a wonton is about the rough shape as a mouse, and the size of a large mouse, and after being boiled in chicken broth... Kitty batted it around the kitchen like a freshly killed mouse, pausing now and then to nibble on one end as it cooled off from boiling hot, and finally eating the pork stuffing "guts" out.

You'd think I would have learned from this. Unfortunately, this was followed by yet another learning experience:

Feline assistance. Yoga.

Not a good mix.

Life is about to get interesting...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Aim High

You know when it's coming time for soccer matches by the sound of shotguns. Nobody knows who actually released the first breeding pairs of kindergeier on American shores. The surviving urban left blames it on some fringe right-wing "get off my lawn" types, and the right blames it on the left's "we need to return to mother gaia" types (given they were behind the wolf reintroduction and effectively banned wolf hunting until it was irrefutable that the Northern Dire Wolf was indeed neither natural nor sticking to their mad scientist's lair far away from jogging trails.) I personally suspect it was some mad scientist who either didn't live long enough to take the credit, or was too ashamed of the real results of releasing fifteen-foot flying predators on American suburbia and rural habitats.

You see, they were beautiful and scary predators when in Africa (and who was the very drunk Afrikaner who confused one with a lammergeier, anyway? They're clearly mostly pterodacytl.) Once the average suburban mom realized their child was in danger... well, now we hold combined soccer and sporting clays, and every mom encouraging little Johnny or Susie on has a shotgun loaded with depleted uranium. Sure, they're shooting small clay disks - but the real competition is to see which team can bring down a kindergeier attracted by the sound and sight of a lot of children running around an open field. According to the records, soccer games these days are a whole lot more civilized, now that every audience member has a shotgun. I'm not so certain about that - because the ladies don't put their shotguns down when they go indoors for the PTA meetings, under the certainty that "predators are always out there." And you should see some of the, ah, more aggressively run meetings when a new educator or teacher imported from the concrete jungles and their liberal arts schools tries to bring the Old Progressive ideals of Re-Education up...

(We've also lost a couple teachers in our district, over the years, who didn't realize that the juveniles go after children, but the adults will just as happily go after a full-sized human. Lost a lot of ATF agents, too, but not many moonshiners - city folks never look up.)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Leafing out

Kudzu may have been the most successful plant in terms of fast growth that an evil overlord has released on the world, but it is eventually doomed to failure since nobody likes it. His mentor's evil abomination that will take over the world, mint, is far more successful - although the old man, if he hadn't been killed by some vigilantes with torches and pitchforks, would have objected to me calling all his strains by one single "mint."

Sadly, those evil geniuses working on the plant-based domination have to contend with smaller successes than the ones bent on hydrogen bombs or earthquakes tearing California off the continent (even if the latter seems to have a large number of sympathizers who keep smuggling his research notes out to satellite minion labs.) However, they are much longer lasting - while the ability to control the Vile Felines that stalk men didn't quite work out, we're all pretty pleased at "catnip" anyway, as the flowers will draw the 180-pound predators mindlessly into even the most obvious trap, and leave the wooded suburbs and exurban prairies safer for our children to play. (If the city dwellers are too afraid of guns to plant the traps, well, they're welcome to be hunted in their concrete jungles.)

Yeah, that one will work out for generations to come, a positive and lasting legacy for Dr. Menthe. Though personally, I'm even fonder of the chocolate mint - made, I'm told, to try to keep his Chief Assistant happier once a month. Whatever the actual reason (though I'm pretty sure a woman was involved in there somewhere), it's made the supply of something chocolate much steadier, and the female half of the population much easier to get along with - even when the kraken disrupt the flow of coffee and cacao northward.

Still wish he'd gotten a good coffee mint growing before he met his untimely end.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Fuzzy Pictures and bribes - good news!

If Teddy Roosevelt had been a crane wrangler instead of a Rough Rider and later President of the United States, he would have modified his famous philosophy of foreign policy with the statement, “Walk softly and carry a big worm”… mealworm, that is because there’s just nothing in this big bad world that compares with the magical persuasive power of a mealworm when you want to coax a crane chick into doing something unnatural like following the trike.

It's that time of year again - whooping crane chicks are hatching, and learning to move their fuzzy little butts to follow a trike around and around!

They're kinda reverse-malamutes: they start brown and grow up to be white, where malamutes start white with cinnamon color and grow up to get nice dark top coats. Both puppies and chicks are very, very cute.

Check out Operation Migration for good news of the fuzzy and peeping variety. Operation Migration - In The Field

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Taking the Star Road

Calmer Half published his first fiction book last week, Take The Star Road, and it's been the strangest feeling to watch it spread its wings and fly up the Amazon bestseller list. On the one hand, it's fascinating from a watching-data point of view to watch the interplay of quantity and velocity of sales with listings, and to see how readers react and review, on blog and on amazon. It's like watching a slow-motion unfolding of a flower, to see the way that reviews spread from a few sites to, one book-reading length of time later, spreading across the blogs.

Please understand, I am very grateful to all the readers who have taken a chance on an unknown author and tried him, whether they finished the book or not, much less left a review or told a friend about it. The willingness to try and unknown first-book author is a gift I do not hold lightly! I am also fascinated by how they see it; after going 'round and 'round with revisions and reviews, watching my Calmer Half learning techniques and trying them out, I have long since become unable to see the story for the ghosts of the past five versions between the words on the page and myself. To watch people seeing the final product with fresh eyes is like playing tourist with visiting friends; it makes the old home city exciting and new again.

I've also found myself laughing at the disconnect between information addiction and reality. We all know reality doesn't move at internet speed (except when it does), and the volume of information out there doesn't mean that things are happening quickly. There is no useful data to be gained by checking sales more than once a day, because sales happen at the rate they happen, and in books, you're dealing with a product that will take consumers anywhere from a night to two weeks to find the time to read and react to (longer, if they're busy and there's another book ahead in the queue. Perhaps we shouldn't have released so close to Larry Correia's release of Warbound, but Take The Star Road was ready to launch.) I can't hurry reality, no matter how much I want to know if this bird will dive or fly. The smartest thing to do, all authors agree, is to not read reviews (as they're for readers by readers, not for authors by readers), not check sales, and concentrate on the next book. I know this. I react to this sage advice about as well as I do to a low-carb diet; by sneaking emergency chocolate out of the chocolate cache after dinner, and peeking at sales and reviews anyway.

Ah, well. Due to waiting too long and then not doing well at emergency planting when I was still in a brace, (the plants were getting rootbound,) everything but the eggplant, asparagus, and mint has died or failed to thrive, and the eggplant is iffy. On the other hand, the basil, thyme, dill, and rosemary indoors are leaning toward the sun from the window and doing just fine. That will have to do for things growing this year, and at least we'll have herbs and a book. The time I save gardening,(other than contemplating whether I should mow the mint with the yard as a precautionary measure; it's the mad scientist of herbs, out for world domination) I can spend lining up words with all the care of a Rube Goldberg contraption. The description of the next book won't write itself, and I still need to choose cover art and buckle down on getting the print version of the first out. It's going to be an adventure, both across the stars in the story and from day to day in the writer's household.

Friday, April 19, 2013


For the first time in weeks, I can hold a broom or a mop handle. This is awesome, and sorely needed. Unfortunately, released to "brace as needed" is not the same as fully healed, and the floors, well, they're so dirty you'd think they hadn't been swept or mopped in weeks.

Solution: for every room I sweep, and every room I mop, I get a glass of mead and some internet time. This encourages me to finish each room, and to take a rest break afterward. On the downside, this means after a few rooms, I've really lost all motivation to get up out of this chair and go do another. On the other hand, I think the injured limb is about done for the day anyway.

Now for a very weird fact: did you know down here in the south, land of 8 inch long pine needles, they bundle those pine needles together and sell them as "pine straw bales"? My mind, it is well and truly blown. According to the gent who showed them to me, as well as gave me prices for renting a tiller, "They're mostly used on flowerbeds, ma'am. The birds will also steal more of the wheat straw for building their nests."

It's a whole different world down here. I'll think I've got a handle on the culture, and then I stumble onto something like that, where "everybody knows" but a transplanted Alaskan.

P.S. J. R. Shirley - Lydia Bailey is on the way. Thanks for the recommendation!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Good Day

The plane has passed her annual, and is waiting at the hangar, ready to fly.

The doc released me from the splint, provisionally, dependent on good behavior and progress in physical therapy.

A Ladies Love Taildraggers volunteer called, reminding me of their annual fly-in coming up.

After work, I found a bag of chocolates waiting all gooshy-warm in the car from a day in the sunshine. (I love my husband.)

It's a good day.

Hope you're all having a good day, too!

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Few Good Men - Good Read

I realized I've been selfishly keeping a book all to myself that I oughta share with y'all, because you'll like it. It has explosions, and political machinations, hilarious one-liners and jailbreaks, aerial battles, a pig in a dress, a dog named Goldie (the blonde of the dog world if ever there was one), misguided idealists, subversives on the side of right, central planning's consequences, unhappy merchants, confusion, chaos, and glorious fun. A Few Good Men, by Sarah Hoyt.

If John Ringo's March Upcountry was a retelling of Xenophon's Anabasis, then this? This is America, 1774-1778... From the initial inevitable (now that we look back) first clashes to the troops on the move. We don't get all the way to the end of the revolution. Although, given it starts with a jailbreak, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was the French Revolution there for a few chapters - pretty dicey on which way it'd fall on human nature versus human planning and reaching for something better. (I'll have to ask Jenny, of Cradle of Liberty, what she thinks - because the more of our revolution I learn, the more messy it becomes, full of humans and political pressures and cultures of the day, and the more nods to it I see in this book.)

This is a book that takes the idea that "the one right farm boy turned hero will automatically rule the kingdom well", and blows it into flaming chunks. It centers around a tyrant's son who stumbles out of solitary as an almost unintended aside to someone else's jailbreak, to find his father dead, his brother recently assassinated, and himself now the heir to a city-state. His household, the only people he can trust not to want him dead, needs him to take the reigns of power to keep the place from being carved up by the ruling cabal. Even they, though, aren't what they seem; they're riddled with rebels who are looking for a time and place to start a glorious new republic.

Luce's inability to be the tyrant his father was creates a power vacuum, and there are many, many forces and factions rushing to break the stasis and the status quo to seize it. Even his allies may prove as dangerous as his enemies... and his enemies are very dangerous indeed.

That only covers the first few chapters, and doesn't even start to get to the pig in a dress. You'll have to figure that one out yourself, by reading it. But beware - woven in with all the action, there are a couple places where she should have put Class IV beverage alerts in there!

Ebook option at Amazon (linked above), and all formats at Baen Webscriptions. First 10 chapters free here. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Due Up

Down here in the Lower 48, it's easy to forget that people die. Death is an abstract, a mention in the news, a statistic of car crashes and hysterical-sounding news articles trying to score cheap political points.

In Alaska, death is like the bad weather - always potent, always possible, leaving traces all around you. Death is the remains of an airplane you fly over in a marsh, the warnings of bear activity, the history of a used car you're looking to buy. ("It was his car, when he went up the mountain and didn't come back." The woman said, facing north toward a spot unseen but known by heart. Her arms, folded across her chest, tightening for a moment until her knuckles stood taut against the skin. "I haven't started it... it hasn't been run in three years.") It's in the smoke you breath from the forest fires in July, in the hair-raising powdery dry and sulfurous scent of volcanic ash pelting on your windscreen as you coast the last hundred feet toward the shelter of home, too late to outrun the blast wave by two blocks. It's in the friends who were there, and are no longer, the stories that try so hard to fill in the holes left by the people now gone. The flat tone a man uses when he says "That pass is aluminum coated."

But the distance is an illusion, and no amount of distance can protect from the way you hear the wobble in a tightly-controlled voice when they say "I don't know if you heard..." And then reality, no longer protected by your ignorance, cuts all the cross-connections, the complex web of community and friendship, the possibilities and the we'll-talk-later, the email not yet answered, the might have been, should have done, and the sheer brutal finality that steals your breath away and leaves you falling, stunned, sitting down like a dropped marionette.

Damn, I miss Ted. I miss them all, gone before me now. Too many friends lost, too many wakes held and ashes spread, too many searches ending in an accident report, and worse the ones where it was a sudden illness, a driver who didn't look before turning. (Damnit Ook, who's going to make the waitresses at Sushi Sushi laugh until they're leaking tears at your wasabi face now?)

Worse, still, with the way that death seems to be ignored right out of the culture here, is the lack of a that time and space to grieve, and to be able to share the person, to make them come alive in memories. It's like we should never mention them, for fear that death could come alive. Let me share with you some of the amazing beauty, the wildness, the breath-stealing beauty of a land that will kill you, taken by a man who I barely got to know before he, too, was gone.

Due Up, the website of Shaun Lunt

Because you should know such men lived, that they may live on after their death.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Blue Skies and Tailwinds, Ted

Rainy Pass, Mystic Pass, and Lake Clark Pass always scared me, somewhere deep in my backbrain. Lark Clark, especially, as I'd seen the weather go from severe clear when we decided to turn around to packed solid with cloud before we made the turn north. And now Rainy Pass has one more patch on her aluminum coat, and three more lives to her tally. Because sometimes, even the best, brightest, most skilled, and luckiest men can't make it out.

And Ted Smith was among the best, filled with love and laughter, mischief and wisdom, in a giant teddy bear of a man with a feral grin. He requested assignment as a patrol officer to the worst part of town, because he loved to be down where he could make a difference. If he wasn't volunteering for the Department of Natural Resources' gun quals (he loved driving the four-wheeler towing the bear target. What, you thought you got to shoot a stationary bullseye when the reason you carry guns is for a kill-defending grizzly or mad momma moose?) or teaching anyone and everyone with the slightest interest how to defend themselves, he was working on his plane or a motorcycle, sharing long breakfasts with the airport, military, and police communities (he knew everyone, it seemed, and never met someone who wasn't immediately either a friend or sent off with their oversize ego quite deflated), and plotting how to get back into a helicopter. (He loved airplanes, but his heart really belonged to rotaries, not seized-wing.)

My IA has never been a man to settle for "good enough for government work", and when Ted brought his plane in for wind damage, it turned into one of those annuals that goes on and on, disassembling and inspecting until all evidence of shoddy prior repairs by others were removed and all was repaired to better than factory for structural and safety standards (with an upgrade or two as long as we're in there.) So in the background of my photos, as my plane came together piece by piece, so too did his plane. He used to tell me that I needed to update more often, and gave the most hilarious send up of an innocent expression, claiming "It's so I can check on my plane, you know."

In the meantime, he'd show up with a motorcycle and a second helmet, and an infectious grin. "Could you help me by testing the back seat, to see if it's comfortable enough for my wife?" And off we'd go. (The first motorcycle seat made me hobble after getting off 50-odd miles later; that one was promptly rejected as no-good for the love of his life.) As the snow fell, he'd insist on giving me a ride home from the shop, and on the way, we'd chat about life, the universe, his hopes and dreams for his kids, the adventures he and his wife had gone through, and the way they had coped with deployments and different shifts, raising kids and surviving hardships.

Not that we could get away with much; my personal torturer, ahem, physical therapist, worked with his wife. Which led to the occasional description of hilarity we'd been up to (punctuated with grunts of pain), followed by a crack of laughter and knowing looks between women, and sometimes valuable advice I could carry back. "No, no, we really ought to skedaddle this weekend, and stay clear; she wants to contemplate remodeling..."

When my fiance came up to see me, I promptly introduced him to the two most important men in Alaska - Ted and my IA were like surrogate fathers, greeting my Calmer Half with friendly grins and a thoughtful, weighing eye as to whether we'd be a good fit. I was highly amused that, through the gun community, they'd already corresponded... and they were highly amused, in that way of men who see a delightful irony coming long before I did, that after all the years of growing up to be a civilian, I was going to marry a vet.

When I headed down, Ted would not stand to see me go on the long journey without a gun (neither could my fiance, but he wasn't there to give me looks over a coffee mug), and ganged up with my IA to make it gentle, persuasive, thoughtful, and utterly unable to refuse... and so we ended up at the range, test-firing his M6 to make sure I could fire it well should I need to use it.

The last time I saw him, was a hug after he and J had escorted me up the Alcan to just shy of the border. He waggled his wings and called godspeed on the radio, as they headed back to Anchorage and I to Canada, headed to the Lower 48. We kept in touch, but the emails were sparser - he was always busy, always finding something to fill his days with more laughter, mischief, delight, and adventure, and I was learning to settle into married life, a new job, a new state, and put into practice advice on marriage he'd given.

Blue skies and tailwinds, Ted, and may we yet meet again when I head west...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dragon Leatherworks Gunbelt, Take 1

Calmer Half was graciously sent a Dragon Leatherworks gunbelt to wear and review. He made approving noises and tugging motions, trying to bend the thick leather, and set about getting a buckle on it for review. He'll come up with something thoughtful, profound, and accurate later, I'm sure.

I, on the other hand, after pulling it out of the box, handled it a bit, examined the fasteners of much sturdiness, and finally summed up my initial impression as follows:

"This thing has more leather than my last miniskirt!"

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A plush life

I can be as dense as granite, especially when exhausted and out of caffeine. However, when my brother calls me about half an hour after the last meeting of the day, and mentions in a Very Urgent manner that one of his little spawn is having a birthday in three days, I get the hint. This is the man who knows I barely remember my own birthday, and presents are a sporadic if ever sort of thing from sheer lack of memory. Something, somewhere, probably went wrong, and a little reminding means Aunt Wing can fill in the gap with presents. "What does she want for her birthday, brother mine?"

"She wants legos. And an alligator." He paused a moment, and added reflectively, "My wife won't let me get alligator steaks." Clearly, that discussion had not gone well for him.

"Legos. Got it."

So on to the internet, to the Great South American River of 2-day shipping. And because I'd said legos, being contrary, the first thing I looked for was alligators.

Did you know you can buy a 41" stuffed plushie alligator, with 2-day shipping, for under thirty bucks? It was a hard decision; legos not only encourage budding engineers, but also would be mines underfoot for soft arches of bare feet in the dark. Revenge!

But no, no, over a yard of stuffed animal would be overkill enough, and not inflict collateral damage on my sister in law or other feet. Maybe G-d has a point in this leaving vengeance in his hands.

His name is Swampy.

He has become a bone of contention between the battling bright little things, and I think I may have set the bar for expected amounts of overkill when the next one marks another year of growth. *facepalm* Ah, well. I expect he'll call to remind me in time.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Long Road Home

Several months ago, Zercool put up a post, stating "It can't hurt to ask..." for a guy looking for a specific M1. The one issued to the gent's father in the service, and turned back in going on fifty years ago. Like many a marine, his father still had the serial number memorized.

That was a long shot, I thought, though we checked the safe just in case. No joy, and I'm afraid I didn't really give it much thought. There are lots of long shots in this world, and the odds on this one were insane.

But not hopeless.

edited to add: Sorry, thought it was Zercool's dad. But no, he just passed the request on for a gent. Still does not impact the awesomeness one tiny bit. Go! See!

A little too much honesty in Science

"The compound exploded in solution, it exploded on any attempts to touch or move the solid, and (most interestingly) it exploded when they were trying to get an infrared spectrum of it."


Stirring speeds varied wildly depending on ambient music. Tech with dubstep predisposition banned after 4th breakage. #OverlyhonestMethods (@BadPhysics)

I really can't do justice to the latest post at Teddy's Rat Lab. Seriously, just Go Read The Whole Thing.

But save your keyboard! Put down your coffee before you go.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Life isn't antiseptic

My housemate recently had the kids for an extended time, and while The Boy thought this was awesome, The Teen Girl appeared to have mixed feelings. Mainly, she thinks our bathroom is unutterably grossly dirty.

Fine, I'll grant you, I only clean the toilet and mop the floor every other week, and the war vs. the soap scum in the shower is a "every other shower, tackle another section", not "spend all day scrubbing once a week" sort of deal. There gets to be a light layer of dust every now and then, and when there does, I clean the sink and counters. A little dust never killed anyone, and if I'm too damned tired after a week of working over fifty hours, I'm going to spend time reading blogs and with my husband, not kneeling on rebuilt knees and scrubbing tiles. If a little mold comes up on the shower curtain, it gets bleached and left until I get to scrubbing that section of the shower.

Now, I was born and raised before the fad of hand-sterilizer gels and anti-biotic everything really found its legs and started to run. My chickenpox vaccination was playing with a friend with chicken pox, and a week of misery and chicken soup. I've run barefoot most of the summer, out in the woods, and swum in ponds and lakes where you couldn't see six inches down. My mother is an ex-pat of a place where you whitewash the house once a year to cover the latest layer of mold, and saw nothing at all abnormal about messy, muddy, and slightly bloody children turn up starving twice a day all glorious summer. (Once I discovered the adult side of the library, I often turned up a lot cleaner and slightly less ravenous from sitting cramped at the base of the library shelves, reading everything that I was "too young" to check out.)

Calmer Half is from Africa, and has been all over that continent.

The Teen Girl, though, is of a generation that thinks "anti-bacterial facial tissues" are normal, and everyone should carry a bottle of hand sanitizer with them at all times, like some pagan charm against all illness.

The week before, when she knew she'd be subjected to this duress, she took a swab of the bathroom and used it for an example for biology class. When she brought the petri dish home from school and whipped it out with great ceremonial unwrapping from the plastic, she gave many warnings of the container wasn't to be opened, for it would smell a stink so foul as to make the heavens cry. I smiled. "Of course. Biology is messy."

She presented the evidence of my misdeeds to me, in petri form. I raised an eyebrow, then grinned. "Hey, cool! It's a monoculture mold!" I was completely unsurprised at the mold - after all, I fight it on the shower curtain pretty regularly. I was surprised that it was such a consistent monoculture, no hint of anything else there.

"But..but... it colonized the control side of the dish!"

"Yeah, that's pretty interesting - you can see how it grew on radial lines."

"But... It's disgusting! I showed it to the whole class and they were disgusted by the bathroom being so gross! The boys even went eeew!"

"Heh. Why don't you go show it to Calmer Half?"

"I don't think he'd take it as well as you did."

"Oh, I find it pretty amusing. Go on, go show him." I chivvied her down the stairs, and leaned back with a grin. She returned, pouting, crestfallen, and completely floundering at the lack of adult reaction (amusement does NOT count) to the repellant drama of the mold culture. Then she stormed off to go "properly clean the bathroom" with all proper drama and bleach. I know the biology teacher was amused; she sent the girl home with lab goggles, an apron, and rubber gloves. I didn't argue because hey, clean bathroom.

Calmer Half came up the stairs, to get another cuppa. The man who knows all too well what gangrene looks like, and what cholera smells like, cocked an ear to the teenage sturm und drang coming from the bathroom, and smiled at me. I shrugged and grinned, and he grinned back. Then he made a fresh mug of tea for me, as well as one for himself. Life is good, but not antiseptic.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Giving parts of myself away

The topic of blood donation is going 'round the blogs, and Calmer Half has already noted that he's had to stop at over a hundred units, because the American Red Cross is scared of African blood cooties.

I'm afraid I'm not even sitting on the fence on this one, I'm on the other side and leaving a dust cloud as I peel rubber in a retreat. When I was younger, I thought I'd try anything twice - the first time for adventure, the second to confirm if it was an isolated incident or how that normally is.

The first time I donated blood, after stabbing me three times in the left arm, the nurse stabbed me in the right arm and said "Oh, I can't get the needle in. It's on top of the vein. Hold still and I'll go get somebody else." That hurt like... well, later, I'd find out it was about like a shoulder right after you reset the dislocated joint. But I was young and didn't know that yet, nor had a vocabulary foul enough to properly express it yet. I got out of there before the juice kicked in, because I fainted about two hundred feet away.

The second time, I warned them that the most luscious-looking spots for the vampires, on both arms, have valves in that exact spot. The nurse, even when warned, nodded, smiled, and stuck me through the valve. And then wiggled the needle around when the blood didn't flow, while I found myself mentally cataloging her ancestry, present worth, and future prospects over the screaming bone-deep pain radiating up my arm. Then she decided it wasn't working, tossed the half-full bag, and took a full pint out of the other arm. Through the other valve. The juice that time was guava, and my body wasn't having any of this placating: it rejected everything out of every orifice about five minutes after I stood up. I still avoid guava juice, though not as strenuously as I avoid blood drives.

Which is why I signed up for organ donation when I got a driver's license, and signed up today for bone marrow donation. You can't pay me enough to get me to donate blood a third time, so I'll focus on the ones I can do, and leave the rest to you.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Flat Tires and Thinking ahead

Yesterday, picked up a nail in the tire (and it predictably went flat.) Calmer Half, who was driving, quickly decided that we were pulling over and searching for the source of that oh-so-familiar thup-thup-thup noise despite the lack of any tactile feedback you expect from a flat. (Note: I was most emphatically not arguing with his decision. You might even call it enthusiastic agreement.)

I am creaky, and disinclined to do more work on the side of a road with no shoulder and cars whizzing by mere feet away than necessary - but I've learned to work around this (it isn't the first time I've had flat tires since getting banged up.) Calmer Half, on the other hand, had a sudden stark look on his face when he realized that he hasn't had a flat tire since being crippled. He suddenly didn't know if he could physically do something that used to be routine. (Driving in Africa, including the bush. I think his youth probably had more tire changes than some mechanics...)

I hate that feeling. I hate seeing it on his face even more. No matter how used to being in constant low-level pain you get, no matter how much life settles into a new normal and you just recalibrate "fine" so life goes on, sometimes reality cuts you wide open with the realization that it's not all good, you're not fine, and what used to be a minor annoyance could now be a major complication. As inured to the slings and arrows of everyday life as I can be, seeing that look on his face cut me to the heart. But I had a plan...

When I was young and full of ignorance and energy, I thought that old folks (like my father) were crafty, devious, treacherous, cunning, and wise because they'd lived long enough to learn all the tricks. Now I realize that it's not age; it's learning to overcome problems with cunning, thinking around the problem, replaying it until you can see where to divert it before it even becomes a problem. It comes because you learn to work around limitations, and complications, small children and second lieutenants, bad nights with little rest and screaming joints from a change in the weather. Some people can grow old without growing wise because nothing ever radically changes their life. Other grow old without growing wise because they give up and let others dictate their limitations. But watch out for old sergeants, officers with gray hair, and mothers of teenagers!

I opened the trunk, and pointed out that I stashed in there not only the spare tire, but also two different cans of fix-a-flat (who plans for the spare tire not being bad?), and an air compressor powered off the cigarette lighter (mostly used for filling the airplane tires.)

Since mechanics hate working on tires with the slime from fix-a-flat on the inside, we started with the air compressor. The tire filled - and if it was slow, well, neither of us had to be kneeling on the January asphalt and fumbling with lug nuts. We could hear the air hissing out, but filled to near-max pressure (not all the way), it was plenty to get the car a mile to the mechanics, and for them to drive it around to the shop's lift.

While the mechanic behind the desk protested that "Oh, it'd have been fine if you needed to use fix-a-flat, ma'am"... The mechanic who actually drove the car around got a grin as wide as his ponytail was long when I told him we'd just hit it with the compressor so he didn't have to deal with the slime. And when they handed the keys back, he told me it was indeed a nail, and there was no charge.

I *heart* Gateway Tire & Auto. And having three different methods of backup. But most of all, I *heart* the look on Calmer Half's face when he realizes that it doesn't matter if he no longer can do something with youth, enthusiasm, and brute force: we already have old age, cunning, and technology laid in to make it even easier than it originally was.

Sets my little heart at ease, that look does...

Friday, January 4, 2013


You know, I wonder whether most of these myths get started because writers feel squeamish about not having control–that they clutch at whatever they can to give them the illusion of control, or at whatever explanation gives them that illusion.


Another way to deal with the lack of control is to cling to someone who will save you. Hence all the agent myths. If you can’t control your own destiny, then find someone who can and hand over everything to them.

-Joe Vasicek

Suddenly, after decades of dealing with people of the most outlandish beliefs and far-left politics, slavish adherence to gun-control and environmental myths, and blind eyes to the misbehavior of their "elites"...

It makes sense now.

If you can’t control your own destiny, then find someone who can and hand over everything to them. And if someone else crosses your path who is completely outside your world, who exists in the self-assured belief that they control their own destiny... either they must be an elite that you can hand your destiny over to, or they are a threat to your entire world, because they challenge your deepest beliefs, your basest fears, and your ego.

And if the person you've handed control over to is a little crazy, and greedy, corrupt, misogynist, inclined to party on the nation's dime... well, they're still the one who will save you, so you turn a blind eye to their shortcomings and still trust in them - because there's no one else, and you believe you can't do it.

So when that vet, or that neighbor, or that other economist, or that immigrant from a country where they've already tried socialism and seen its murderous logic at its fullest, tells you that you and you alone are responsible for your own destiny, and you have failed yourself, your community, your family, and your nation by handing that control over - when they mock your belief in your betters, and point out how the people you trust to make it all better never will, just by existing, then they become a threat to your ego, your worldview, your sanity, your culture, and your religion.

It's not baseless hatred for the NRA - it's fear. It's fear that strikes at their root of who they are, and they respond to that fear with the same hatred self-assured people who protect and defend their own destiny reserve for terrorists who blow up skyscrapers and insane, evil beings who choose to slaughter their schoolmates for revenge, glory, and power.

That's why we are "the domestic terrorists." Because we terrify them with our freedom, our independence. We shame them. We mock them, just by existing. We defy all the myths, do not follow any of the rules, pay no attention to our betters, and nothing bad happens to us.

Worse yet, we win. And we keep winning. And no matter how much they try to get their elite to punish us, to force us to capitulate, we keep on existing, unashamedly, and pushing back. So hold your head high, my friends, and when you run across not just a neighbor who disagrees with you politically, but one who screams "you have blood on your hands because you own a gun / don't believe in global warming / are a capitalist pig"... look at them as the small and terrified soul that they are, and pity them. They're screaming out of fear, because we shatter their myths with the casual arrogance of Godzilla rampaging across Tokyo merely by living our own lives.

You are responsible for yourself, and your destiny is in your own hands. Own it, in all the glory and all the pain that will come - it is only one life, but it is yours, and it is up to you to live it.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

by William Ernest Henley