Monday, February 27, 2017


Last night, long before the end, they were handing out the award for Animated Short Film and the winner was a cartoon called Piper.

I found it on YouTube. It's lighthearted and well made. Maybe the best thing to come out of the Oscars for me.

Sorry, the password must be a palindrome

R.I.P. Judge Wapner

I never watched it, Back In The Day, but everybody knew about it:
Joseph Wapner, who ushered in reality court shows as the first star of “The People’s Court,” died Sunday after a week of health problems, his son confirmed to multiple media outlets. He was 97.
Rest in peace.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Johann Nepomuk Hummel - Trumpet Concerto in E-flat major

Image source
What do you say about the last composer of the Classical era?  Other than he was the last?

Johann Nepomuk Hummel is almost unknown today, but in his time was one of the most famous composers in Europe.  Mozart's pupil, Beethoven's and Goethe's friend, Schubert's mentor, he was at the very heart of the music world, to the point where Beethoven asked him to perform at his memorial concert.

But he was the last of his school, as the musical taste of the public moved on to the grand romantic composers.  He died famous in 1837 and has slipped into all but complete obscurity.  That's a shame, as his music is from the heart of Classical music's greatest age, and fully reflects that.

Monkey Bar Memories

A playground in Montana. A time long ago. I'm the little-redheaded girl that looks as if she's ready to give someone a little help down the slide. We used to polish them well with waxed paper to get even more speed out of them. I found this photo as I was going through a box of my late brothers things, finding a place for them in our home.

I remember that day.  Big Bro was going to go swing like a monkey from the monkey bars.  He was safe. . . for now.

Have you noticed that some the playground equipment has been seriously lawyered up since you and I were kids?

The slides are now about four feet tall and have bumpers and areas of thick soft mulch to fall in (we had rocks). Monkey bars are getting harder and harder to find, and the ones out there aren't exactly high off the ground (oh no, I might fall 3 feet!)
What happened to that merry go round that was the childhood equivalent of a G Force accelerator. If you got going fast enough with a siblings help, hanging on by one hand, you could get up to about 2 g's. Or come flying off and break a tooth as I did and get banned from the playground for a few days. Then, there was the teeter totter (lever and fulcrum = initiate launch sequence!) Yes, we had discipline, the 9th and 10th amendment were alive in our parents hearts, but Mom and Dad let us get a few bumps and bruises along the way, so we'd learn, not only our limits, but how to take care of ourselves. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Caturday regrets

I wonder how that happened

How does a screw get caught in the garbage disposal?  Fixing that was fun.  It's a bit odd to finish a project and have hardware left over on purpose.

And the motorcycle ride was fun, and finished before the hail storm.  Hail in February?  In Maryland?  Weird.  But it looks like I'll ride every month this year.  Go, me!

Trace Adkins - Ride

It's been a while since I've posted a Saturday Redneck song, and it's in the 60s here at Castle Borepatch.  The Harley awaits.  Let's ride.

Friday, February 24, 2017

No wonder Math is hard



The latest news on the death of Kim Jong Un's half-brother is that he was dosed with VX.

In the long ago and far away, I was tasked to go to Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological warfare school. I graduated first in my class. I also came away with knowledge of the effects of biological and chemical agents that most people have never thought about. This isn't particularly secret.

The news article linked above mentions that North Korea has the world's 3rd largest stockpile of chemical weapons. Couple that with the capability to launch a missile even the 800 miles between North Korea and Tokyo and the nascent nuclear program North Korea has pales by comparison.

VX, in quantities as small as 10mg, is fatal. There's some treatment, but you would have to be quick, and in the event of a mass attack, all facilities would be overwhelmed. This is essentially an organophosphate pesticide that works on mammals.

Here's the CDC factsheet.

We have been warned by the death of Kim Jong Nam. The risk that North Korea represents is now something that China, the U.S., and the Japanese should not continue to ignore.

This is either an edited video or a very high dose exposure, because the response happens very quickly. Taken sometime in the early 1960s, I remember seeing this footage. You might want to skip this, you might not, it's out there on YouTube.

Srebrenica's not simply another reminder of man's inhumanity to man, but how intelligent people can always come up with intelligent reasons to do nothing.
--Scott Simon

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Eric Clapton & Joe Bonamassa - Further On Up the Road

"Connected Cars" - buyer beware

I'm skeptical about so-called "connected cars" (cars with built-in Internet access and apps that let their owners do things like unlock doors and the like).  I don't think that much thought has gone into the security design of these systems.  Here's just the latest example:

Why Buying Used Cars Could Put You At Safety Risk:
Charles Henderson sold his car several years ago, but he still knows exactly where it is, and can control it from his phone.

The IBM researcher leading X-Force Red, the firm’s security testing group, wasn’t researching car security when he discovered a major privacy issue. He simply sold his car.

“The car is really smart, but it’s not smart enough to know who its owner is, so it’s not smart enough to know it’s been resold,” Henderson told CNNTech. “There’s nothing on the dashboard that tells you ‘the following people have access to the car.'”

This isn’t an isolated problem. Henderson tested four major auto manufacturers, and found they all have apps that allow previous owners to access them from a mobile device.
You know how you can change your password just about anywhere?  Not on that car you just bought.  Caveat Emptor.

Me?  I think that this is just another reason to buy a Goat ...

Image via InfoGalactic

Wind in the Wires

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
 And a wave broke over the railing
 And every man knew, as the captain did too, 
T'was the witch of November come stealin'
- The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald  - Gordon Lightfoot

The wind is howling outside, though the skies are clear. Watching Partner in Grime's flight come into O'Hare on FlightStalker, I imagined the turbulence they were getting - having been a pilot too many years.

As soon as I saw they were taxiing to the gate I texted him a line from a Monty Python skit that alway makes us both laugh.

"Bouncy Bouncy?"
They call Chicago the windy city but on average, it's not particularly windy up here, the expression referring more to the blather of politics than anything meteorological.

I was in Wichita once on business, and I remember the wind howling outside my room each and every night. I could only imagine settling in that place, listening from one's crude cabin or homestead, to that hollow sound that only enhanced the loneliness as I lay there and wondered why I did not matter, as I mattered once.
There were many more nights like that in my life, perhaps in another hotel room, perhaps at home, lying in the bed with just the dog for company, listening to a loud sigh that could have been the wind, had it not come from my own lips. I'd lay there, listening for something that I couldn't yet hear, as outside, the declining moon crept away as if eroded by the constant touch of the night.

Growing up we went to the coast on most of our vacations, staying in a little rental cabin that was beachfront, only an earth and wooden barrier to protect against storm surge.  We went back there in 2014, one last trip with Dad, as a weather system brought high winds to the coast one night.  I wondered if Dad was sleeping through it or if he was laying awake, knowing this was his last trip here, listening to the wind bring back so many memories of our youth on this land, even if the cabin had been torn down for condominiums that blocked the sun.
Years later, there were the nights in deer camp, laying with my companions around the remains of a fire. This wasn't bear country, nor even cougar country, so we lay under the clear sky to sleep. I would try and stay awake as the sky went from the hazy blue of solitude to a twinkling of a million shining eyes as if heavens angels looked down on us with a gaze that was as inscrutable as the souls that lay softy sleeping around me. From the sound of the snores, I was the only one awake, and I relished the night, the wind, even if it didn't speak to me.

I like the dull roar of the wind, but I'm probably odd in that I prefer stormy weather to calm, unless I'm aloft in it.  There is something about the clash of weather systems, the way the sky changes, the sounds, the colors, I am always the one standing outside like an idiot in the rain, turning my face up to the skies when there's a particularly good lightning storm in the distance, instead of hunkering down in safety.  Put me on a quiet sunny beach somewhere south and I would be bored out of my mind.
But it is NOT fun to pilot a plane in and on the first week of work after I hung up my professional wings, the crash of something outside in the wind waking me up, my first thought was not "I'm really going to miss going flying" but "I am SO glad I don't have to go out in this!" as from outside,the skies let loose like a hot, hissing shower.

For wind in an airplane is a whole other matter.When flying a plane, wind is the essence of your day. You want enough headwind to give you some good lift on takeoff, and not so much crosswind to cartwheel you when you come back. It seems that only those that love the sky, sea or outdoors, those truly in sync with nature seem to pick up on the inertial energy in the wind.So many things get blown away in a stiff breeze, so many things swept out of your mind with the wind in your face in an open cockpit. Repressed longings, fruitless desire, ghosts of sad reflection, a hundred thoughts never formed and a thousand words never uttered. Wind in your face, sweeping your head of any emotion other than the moment, until all is blown past you to tumble to the earth below. In that moment nothing matters but breathing.
So on those early storm tossed days, when  I was a rookie pilot and it was too rough to go out, in any airplane, we simply sat in the hangar with a cup of coffee and our flying study guides, watching the clouds build and the thunder roll. Watching the atmosphere of the heavens, contemplating the atmosphere of our lives, as the surface of the earth, the surface of our skin heats, particles of warm air rising with breath. Watching the storm build, a rich offering calling for some bolder hearts than ours.

In later years, when flying was not just something I'd signed on to do, but my paycheck, sitting on the ground was NOT an option short of severe icing, freezing rain, zero visibility at the landing airport and typhoons (and spiders, don't ask about the time the airplane got infested with spiders). No, on those days when the wind was blowing, when it was not unsafe, just uncomfortable, off you'd go. You'd spend a few hours getting bounced around like you were in a paint shaker, sometimes dodging thunderstorms as well, only to land, the back of your shirt wet from sweat, knowing "gee - I get to go out and do that again!" And you would, looking at the sky on such flights as an adversary, much as the Knights of old did, gauging the aim of your foe and how hard and from what direction the thrust would come.
One night the thunderstorms were bad, not in a long  defined line between point A and Point B which usually means a cancelled flight, but just popping up quickly around the valleys like whack a mole. With them came furious winds that even 20 miles from the nearest thunderstorm cell were buffeting our craft. The rain, the lightning, those were foes that made us work as a team, adjusting cockpit lighting, ensuring the engine ignitions were on, all those subtly complex tasks we did as words flowed as we plotted, and planned, and parried.

But the wind was something else. When the wind broke hard against the windscreen like a Molotov cocktail, the cockpit went totally silent and stayed that way. Wind has a way of isolating, it's battle against you - one that is personal, one that separates you from your companion in spirit as it ties to wrest something away from you that you do not wish to give up. Give me a landing in heavy rain any day over one where the airport is overrun by the treachery of shifting winds. (especially in the Sherpa which was not known as the "flying billboard" for nothing).
On that night of thunderstorms, were were on our last leg, on downwind, with the airport in sight, when a large transport ahead on final approach went around (aborted the landing at low altitude) and fled south, citing wind shear, those sudden changes in speed and direction which can be deadly. We delayed by extending our flight path south where there was rain but no thunderstorms our only moral support, the feeble gleam of the Starboard navigation light, bobbing in the spray like a buoy. Just as we were ready to call to ask to go to our alternate airport a couple planes landed safely, that particular cell having moved away from the airport, but I was REALLY happy to get on the ground. We thought we were done for the night, when we got orders to do ONE more flight. Fortunately while I was trying to explain to operations just WHY that wasn't the greatest idea as a fresh line of weather rolled in, lightning hit the control tower, catching it on fire.

No, I don't miss nights like that.
So tonight, as the wind roars, I'm happy to be home, in our house among the trees  - to write, my husband safely on the ground, the house warm and snug. Outside every so often there is a "thump" as someone's garbage can goes tumbling. The wind is not forecast to abate any time soon, so as we lay in bed tonight, just before drifting off to sleep, I'll listen to it some more.

For the wind is not a silent threat any longer, it's a comfort - a familiar sound in a discord of voices. It's the sound that drives me closer to the form that lays beside me, the one that is the rock that shields me from future pain. It's the awareness that I am alive, more alive then all those days I was almost NOT alive.  It's the fury and grace of Heaven, which doesn't promise us calm skies, but will hold us up, no matter what life throws our way
I snuggle down into the crook of my husbands' neck, Abby the Rescue Labrador snoring from her second bed in the closet where she hides when it thunders. Outside the wind is no longer voiceless - on it I hear the sound of the sea, the hush of the forest, and the muffled whoosh of a jet engine. I hear it like the strong and invulnerable sound that carries on it an infinity of hope and heart, the wind that will pronounce unafraid words of faith on my last days when heavens fall and redemption is at hand.

As I drift off to sleep, the winds from heaven blow unabated as the city sleeps, across the quiet streets, between the mute and remembering dwellings.
- Brigid

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

They say that there's no such thing as bad PR

This toy maker is going to find out.  German government tells parents who bought this doll to destroy it because it is a security hazard.

I posted about this (and other) toys that listen to your kid back before Christmas.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Belated President's Day - Best and Worst Presidents

I've been running this every year for the last five years.  I was busy bringing the Queen Of The World home from the hospital yesterday, and the day got away from me.  But the topic deserves repeating.

It's not a real President's birthday (Lincoln was the 12th, Washington is the 22nd), but everyone wants a day off, so sorry Abe and George, but we're taking it today.  But in the spirit intended for the holiday, let me offer up Borepatch's bestest and worstest lists for Presidents.

Top Five:

#5: Calvin Coolidge

Nothing To Report is a fine epitaph for a President, in this day of unbridled expansion of Leviathan.

#4. Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson is perhaps the last (and first) President who exercised extra-Constitutional power in a manner that was unambiguously beneficial for the Republic (the Louisiana Purchase).  He repealed Adam's noxious Alien and Sedition Acts and pardoned those convicted under them.

#3. Grover Cleveland. 

He didn't like the pomp and circumstance of the office, and he hated the payoffs so common then and now.  He continually vetoed pork spending (including for veterans of the War Between the States), so much so that he was defeated for re-election, but unusually won a second term later.  This quote is priceless (would that Latter Day Presidents rise so high), on vetoing a farm relief bill: "Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character." 

#2. Ronald Reagan

He at least tried to slow down the growth of Leviathan, the first President to do so in over half a century (see entry #5, above).  He would have reduced it further, except that his opposition to the Soviet fascist state and determination to end it cost boatloads of cash.  It also caused outrage among the home grown fascists in the Media and Universities, but was wildly popular among the general population which was (and hopefully still remains) sane.

#1. George Washington

Could have been King.  Wasn't.  Q.E.D. 

Bottom Five:

#5. John Adams.

There's no way to read the Alien and Sedition Acts as anything other than a blatant violation of the First Amendment.  It's a sad statement that the first violation of a Presidential Oath of Office was with President #2. 

#4. Woodrow Wilson.

Not only did he revive the spirit of Adams' Sedition Acts, he caused a Presidential opponent to be imprisoned under the terms of his grotesque Sedition Act of 1918.  He was Progressivism incarnate: he lied us into war, he jailed the anti-war opposition, he instituted a draft, and he was entirely soft-headed when it came to foreign policy.  The fact that Progressives love him (and hate Donald Trump) says all you need to know about them.

#3 Lyndon Johnson.

An able legislator who was able to get bills passed without having any real idea what they would do once enacted, he is responsible for more Americans living in poverty and despair than any occupant of the White House, and that says a lot.

#2. Franklin Roosevelt.

America's Mussolini - ruling extra-Constitutionally fixing wages and prices, sending Americans off en masse to concentration camps, packing the Supreme Court, and transforming the country into a bunch of takers who would sell their votes for a trifle.  You don't get a better example of fascist than FDR.  At least Mussolini met an honorable end.

#1. Abraham Lincoln.

There's no doubt that the Constitution never would have been ratified if the States hadn't thought they could leave if they needed to.  Lincoln saw to it that 10% of the military-age male population was killed or wounded preventing that in an extra-Constitutional debacle unequaled in the Republic's history.  Along the way, he suspended Habeas Corpus, instituted the first ever draft on these shores, and jailed political opponents as he saw fit.  Needless to say, Progressives adore him.

So happy President's Day.  Thankfully, the recent occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue haven't gotten this bad.  Yet.