Saturday, January 28, 2017

So this is happening.

Never underestimate the power of a competent tech. 

When Annika Danilova arrived at the edge of the colony's crater to install a weather station, she knew the mission had been sabotaged from the start. The powers that be sent the wrong people, underequipped, and antagonized their supporting sometimes-allies. The mission was already slated for unmarked graves and an excuse for war...

But they hadn't counted on Annika allying with the support staff, or the sheer determination of their leader, Captain Restin, to accomplish the mission. Together, they will overcome killing weather above and traitors within to fight for the control of the planet itself.

Friday, January 27, 2017


Defrosting the deep freezer is a dangerous, dangerous thing to do. Yeah, not only does it involve finding things in the depths of the shelves that make you really glad you adopted putting month & year on vacuum sealed food, but also radically revising meal plans. "Huh. Since when do we have 8 pounds of cod? Apparently, since every time I wanted fish, bought frozen fillets, and didn't get around to cooking it."

Unfortunately, the extreme danger didn't come from "clean-the-freezer" inspired meal options, or dropping a rump roast or turkey on my foot (one, I caught before it fell and hit. The other, I dodged.) No, the danger came from the defrosting part. Specifically, the wet tile of the kitchen floor.

Physics is not your friend when the coefficient of friction goes away, and gravity asserts itself.Otherwise known as, I bounced myself off the counter, the stove, and the floor, with a failed attempt to arrest my fall resulting in landing badly.

After uncurling from a fetal ball of profanity, I grabbed an ice pack, woke up my husband, and asked him to drive me to the clinic. He did a brief check on what was and wasn't moving (and what produced high-pitched screams when poked), and took me to the ER instead.

Nothing's broken, as per x-rays. But I have a sling, some heavy duty painkillers, and when an ER nurse says, "Honey, you're going to have some spectacular bruising!" ...she's right. *sigh*

Meanwhile, I'm feeling rather apologetic toward the chaos I just caused the work schedule, and toward my husband, who got to finish the defrosting project. I'm also rather frustrated by the sling. (Not stupid enough to ditch it, though.)

Kili has decided that I'm hurting, so she needs to curl up on my legs and purr for hours. Ashbutt, meanwhile, has decided I'm home, so I must want to PLAY! When 10.8 pounds of kitten crashes into a very bruised shoulder as I'm lying on the bed...

Well, I've gotten a lot of sitting on the couch time in, instead of lying in bed and sleeping. I'd really enjoy all this downtime, if only I felt up to doing something fun with it.Ah, well. At least I'll have a job to get back to, and I have a husband who loves me and is determined to coddle me, and it wasn't worse. Thanks be to God it wasn't worse!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Ashbutt is teething

Did you know that kittens have (and lose) baby teeth, just like humans?

When he started chewing on power cords, we suspected something was seriously wrong with his little fuzzy brain. When I found a tooth embedded in my yoga mat, we realized what the problem was.

Don't ask how I found it, what yoga position I was in, or just exactly with what part of my anatomy I found said embedded tooth. Just... don't ask, okay?


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Pepperoni Pizza Chili, version 2.6

A friend of mine recently discovered she and cumin don't get along at all, digestively. So the question was floated: is it possible to do chili without cumin? Challenge Accepted.

Pepperoni Pizza Chili (feeds 6)

3 pounds ground beef
1/2 bottle of beer (yes, the other half is supposed to go in the cook) or red wine
2 cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained (did you know they pack kidney beans in corn syrup?)
2 cans tomato paste
2 cans diced tomatoes, drained (I used regular & flame-roasted)
1/2 bag frozen diced onion & bell pepper strips, or 1 onion + 2 bell peppers, diced
2 tsp italian seasoning
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper (skip if you use a can of rotel tomatoes)
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp garlic
1 pack pepperoni pieces, cut in thirds
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp smoked salt

Fills my 4-quart slow cooker to the top, so you may want to use a 6-quart slow cooker instead. Also, I like my chili thick enough to hold its shape when scooped out. If you like it thinner, don't drain the tomato juice from the cans, and put the rest of the beer in the crock pot instead of in the cook.

1. In batches small enough for your frying pan, brown the hamburger and fennel, black pepper, and red pepper. If you're not using a frozen stir-fry mix, saute the diced onion. Deglaze the pan with beer or wine (or water, if you don't have/want the alcohol.)

2. After dumping the ground beef in the crockpot (or inbetween batches), drain and rinse kidney beans. Add to crockpot.

3. Drain & add diced tomatoes. If you like it soupy, add without draining.

4. Add tomato paste, italian seasoning, oregano, garlic, and basil.

5. Add Worcestershire sauce and smoked salt. If you're using the frozen pepper & onion, add it now - if not, add diced green bell peppers.

6. Cut the pepperoni pieces into thirds, add.

7. Turn slow cooker on low for 4-6 hours. At some point, wander by and stir the dish, so the pepperoni pieces get broken up and everything is evenly distributed.

Serve with a salad or coleslaw or something, and garlic bread if you can stand the carbs. Goes great with a cabernet sauvignon, and the company of good friends.

Friday, January 20, 2017

the little moments

So, my darling husband took me to a late breakfast this morning. It wasn't planned; we'd just gotten out to pick up plywood for some shelving, and sandpaper. When he offered breakfast since we were in town, I thought that sounded wonderful.

The place only had one TV on, and it was (thankfully) muted, placed high up over the kitchen area. I realized, after the waitress brought coffee (yay coffee!), that the TV was showing the inauguration. So I started adding commentary, like "Wait, they're doing the second verse of America the Beautiful? Oooh, burn!" My husband gave me an odd look, and I had to explain, "It's 'Confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law'... and since when did the last administration ever believe in self-control, liberty, or following the law?"

He shook his head with a smile, and told me, "Let me know when they're swearing in Trump, so I can turn around and watch."

And when they finally started, Peter stood up and put a hand on the back of the booth, to watch the swearing in. Interestingly enough, other than the chefs busy cooking and the waitress who was taking an order, in the space of about three seconds, the rest of the kitchen and wait staff also all appeared to watch the TV. Nobody bothered putting the sound on; we just watched the closed-caption scroll past, and the oath take place. Then the speechifying started, and everybody turned their back on the bloviating and went back to work (or eating.)

Not that it wasn't a fine speech, but words are worthless. We'll see what this president does.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

farm cats are hardy critters

So, Ashbutt went off to the vet to get tutored.

When I picked him up, the surgery discharge instruction sheet had combine spaying and neutering, canines and felines. So the instructions included "If you let your pet outside to eliminate, keep them on a short leash" and "no energetic activity. No climbing or jumping. No running." etc.

The mental image of Ashbutt outside on a short leash was hilarious. But no climbing or jumping? I looked down into the wide, stoned eyes of anesthia-recoving kitten, and went, "Yeah, right."

The next day, the vet tech called to check on him. "How is Ashbottom doing?" (There's a nice older lady who works there who just can't bring herself to say "butt", so he's Ashbottom in their files. Eh, doesn't worry me, makes them happy, whatever.)

"Well, so far he woke me up by attacking the feet under covers, has chased springs all over the house, ambushed all ankles and the older cat multiple times, swarmed up the cat tree and knocked everything off the mantel, attacked any reachable hand, pounced on the older cat from the back of the couch, and that yowl and hiss you hear is the very cranky older cat up on the guest bed, trying to beat the stuffing out of him as he keeps reaching up and batting at her."

The vet tech finally stopped laughing, and said, "So he's doing fine."

"I'm pretty sure he... Ashbutt! Feet are for walking, not chewing on! Get off!" A pause, as I shook him off. "Go find a spring or something!"

"Yep, he's fine."

Sunday, January 15, 2017

There, not here

Writing on the myth that indies can only be successful writers if they're fast over at Mad Genius Club today.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Yay for the Hearing Protection Act!

In general, I'm not a fan of legislation. Every new law removes a piece of freedom for the law abiding, and generally does nothing to stop the law-breakers, as well as hitting us with unpleasant secondary side effects. 

In specific, there's one bill now being introduced that is almost 100 years overdue. The Hearing Protection Act, which will allow gun owners to buy mufflers for their guns without massive federal "we didn't ban this, we just made it almost impossible to get." Seriously, I know calling 'em "silencers" is the movie-logic thing to do, and calling 'em "suppressors" is the technically correct term, but what are they really? They're mufflers, just like on your car, your lawnmower, your neighbor's car... (except that one annoying kid who thinks that the louder it is, the cooler it is. He'll be seeing the audiologist by the time he's 30.)  

I've had the great fun of playing with guns that have mufflers. (C'mon, pedantic people. When I'm hanging out with a lady friend at the range, and we're giggling about boys, and airplanes, and planning whether to go hiking in the mountains next week or split cocktails and tapas depending on the weather forecast, it's playing. You can hold forth on "deadly weapon" all you want, but yeah, yeah, so's a butcher knife and I play with new recipes that require chopping all the time!)

When you combine electronic ear muffs with mufflers on guns, you get two amazing things: one, you don't have to deal with the concussive punch off some of the hand cannons, which makes them a lot more fun to shoot for a lot longer. Second, like many ladies, I find screaming stressful - even if I'm not angry. So if we don't have to scream in order to be heard for basic conversation, we're a lot more relaxed and happier. (And yes, chattier. See: Ladies.) 

Besides, have you seen my new Ruger Mark IV? It came with a threaded barrel, and really needs a muffler to balance out the whole black and bronze and steampunky design!

Fairfax, Va.— The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) applauded Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo on Wednesday for introducing the Hearing Protection Act, an important bill that eases restrictions on tools that help gun owners and sportsmen protect their hearing. Similar legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House (H.R. 367).
“The Hearing Protection Act would make it easier for sportsmen to purchase the tools necessary to protect their hearing,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA-ILA. “Many gun owners and sportsmen suffer severe hearing loss, and yet sound suppressors – a tool that can reduce such loss – are overly regulated and taxed.” 
The Hearing Protection Act, S. 59, would remove suppressors from regulation under the National Firearms Act, replacing the current process with a National Instant Criminal Background Check. In addition, the bill would reduce the cost of purchasing a suppressor by removing the $200 transfer tax.
 Suppressors are often mischaracterized. Unlike in the movies, they do not “silence” the sound of a firearm.  By reducing the decibel level made by a firearm to a safe range, suppressors reduce hearing damage for those who shoot and hunt.
S. 59 would make it easier for gun owners and sportsmen to purchase suppressors in the 42 states where they are currently legal. Purchasers would have to pass a background check prior to a sale.
“Gun owners and sportsmen should be able to enjoy their outdoor heritage with the tools necessary to do so safely. This bill makes it easier for them to do that,” concluded Cox.
Source: NRA Media
Hat tip to Old NFO!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Thinning the Library

Step one: put out crates on couch.
Step two: remove cat from crate.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Basic Income's basic failures

My darling husband and I have quite a few points of disagreement, many of which come from having such different life experiences. Today, we ran into one of those, when the topic of Basic Income popped up. My husband noted it was an elegant solution, provided the governments involved did actually cut all agencies, bureaucracies, bureaucrats, and programs that currently are failing at the solution of providing for the lowest income.

I made a rather rude noise, and declared it an extremely stupid idea. He protested that it was an elegant one, when taken in isolation from all other considerations.

So is communism. Elegant, pretty, completely stupid and really deadly when you try to run it with real humans instead of angels... yeah, basic income is just as flawed in the concieving, because it fails to account for the fact that humans are human. My husband focused on the danger of an all-powerful governmental state, but I see that as looking past the fundamental problems, baked in from the beginning.

There are two fatal flaws for basic income - two is overkill, really, but it has both.

The first is economic reality: you cannot have welfare for all, and open borders. If you're handing out apartments and cars and cash to anyone who shows up, you get... well, the "refugee crisis" in Europe, where the third world is showing up for all the benefits, while demanding that it gets to keep the culture and beliefs that have kept the third world being the sewage-mud streets and failing kleptocracies that they are. Even with a bloody great ocean in the way, you get the same thing in the USA: tell people that we'll make illegal aliens citizens for free as long as they're under 18, and we get a flood of children sent by their parents from all over central and south America, to get citizenship and then bring them to the good life. Converting layers of bureaucracy to straight cash will only make this even more of an incentive for the rest of the world to move to the good life.

Given the sort of political affiliation that would drive through a basic income, please, try to tell me with a straight face that said party would implement basic income and harshly closed borders, with deportation of all illegals. Can you get through that sentence without breaking into eye-rolling or laughter?

The second is human reality: there are a great number of people who will only work just barely as hard as they have to, in order to get by. For all the people who've fallen on hard times, taken welfare, and then promptly gotten off when they've gotten their feet back under them, there are plenty more who've become a permanent drain on the system, now in their third and fourth generation of never having held a job.

Before you take that deep breath to call me a raciss and shut off your mind, let me show you a subset of them that transcends race, colour, creed, or religion: stoners.

Yeah, you tell your average stoner that they're gonna get a basic income, a flat, and a car... explain to me exactly what makes you think said stoner is ever going to decide (and carry through) becoming a productive member of society? Dude. That's whacked, man. Like, seriously! What are you smoking, and are you gonna share?