An Amethyst Quickie

I’m up to my neck in work so I’m not getting around Voidpress as much as I’d like, but I thought it might be fun to share this:

This afternoon when we came out of the Dinkytown market there, parked next to our truck, was a small car occupying two parking spaces and about four feet from the curb. Amethyst pointed at it and said, “Her depth perception must be off from so many years of men lying to her”. I knew where she was going but asked anyway, “Why would you say that?”. She held up her hand with her thumb and index fingers indicating a span of about two inches and said, “She’s probably gone her whole life being told that this is six inches”.

My response: “Or it might be that the space is nowhere near so tight as she believes it to be”.


1279 Words Of Nothing Much

I’m completely ready now for the lottery jackpots. I think I’d make a great retired person. I’d grow lots and lots of fruits, veggies, and nuts, raise some chickens, maybe a few other critters, and avoid the human species as much as possible. You guys are great, but most humans suck and not in a good way.

I might be about to jettison another client. This company has only been with me since May, and things were good at first, but history only counts for just so much and only for just so long. When the history doesn’t count for much any more, well, shucks, it’s time to say so long. I don’t blame the CEO for being scared half to death when his company’s revenue streams get dammed up — I’ve weathered that storm several times myself and dutifully got scared half to death. But I learned from my mistakes, and I can only hope that if I pitch this client over the fence the CEO will learn from it. He probably won’t because most people are incapable of learning from their mistakes and instead choose to maintain an undeserved self-admiration by blaming others for the unpleasant consequences of their own bad decisions. Sometimes others do in fact deserve that blame, but it’s far less often than the average person can accept.

Our eldest rear-ended another car some years ago and blamed the other guy for having no brake lights. Sure, he should have had working brake lights, but if she hadn’t been following too closely she wouldn’t have run her car into his. She still gets all kinds of tweaked if I point that out.

I read an article today about the power of the mind, under the title “What if Age Is Nothing but a Mind-Set?“. A bit of citation:

  • Even smart people fall prey to an “illusion of control” over chance events
  • We aren’t really very rational creatures
  • Our cognitive biases routinely steer us wrong
  • people are trained not to think and are thus extremely vulnerable to right-sounding but actually wrong notions
  • not only are most people led astray by their biases, but they are also spectacularly inattentive to what’s going on around them
  • When you’re not there … you’re very likely to end up where you’re led
  • office workers were far more likely to comply with a ridiculous interdepartmental memo if it looked like other official memos
  • If people could learn to be mindful and always perceive the choices available to them they would fulfill their potential

And so on. That last one is problematic; we all make the best decisions of which we’re capable at the time. Free will is illusory. No second grader ever said when asked what he or she wanted to be when grown up, “I want to be addicted to dangerous chemicals and irrationally committed to an abusive relationship”. But everyone who ever ended up that way was once a second grader who wanted to be a ballerina or an astronaut or a doctor or a fireman or a chemist or something else ostensibly admirable. (Except me, that is. I never expected to live long enough to be “grown up” and don’t know that I ever will.)

So now I’ve got another client who’s not really very rational, whose cognitive biases have regularly steered him wrong, who has been trained not to think (and who shows no proficiency at it when he pretends to be trying), who is spectacularly inattentive, and so on. I suppose I could take my heathen ass out to Memphis with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and sit his spectacularly inattentive ass down for a reality check, but he’s not willing to pay for it and I’ve already given the shithead about six thousand dollars worth of charity so I’m not willing to pay for it, either..

It seems that I’m not as rational as I’d like to believe I am, eh? On the other hand, I’ve other clients to whom I sometimes give freebies and they’re always very thrilled and appreciative. One, in particular, has reduced the number of servers she’s keeping but chooses to pay me every month for the original number — she says that she believes that she takes up more of my time than she pays for and doesn’t wish to be perceived as taking advantage. She actually doesn’t, so I bumped the number of monthly prepaid hours to be appropriate to what she thinks she wants to spend. :)

Once upon a time I read a self-help book, the take-away of which was “give to the givers, take from the takers”. While much of it was the typical psychobabble bullshit, that one sentence has served me quite well.

Another article I read online this week but didn’t bookmark so can’t directly cite said, in essence, that cats are generally assholes. They don’t like to be petted, they don’t love us back, and they don’t enjoy our company, basically. The researchers who were referenced in the article never met Miss Awesome. She loves to be petted, and most days she ends up here in my office vocalizing just how much she wants some pitty pat lubbens right damn now. She hangs out with us most of the time, follows me around like a puppy, and always sleeps with me. Here we are, three animals in a four bedroom two story house, and she’s almost always near the two-legs. Quite often she’s right smack in the middle between us — if I’m in the living room or kitchen while Amethyst is in the game room, Autumn will be found at the halfway point at the top of the stairs or in the hallway. While Amethyst sleeps and I’m working, Autumn is usually either in the office with me or in the family room between the office door and the stairs Amethyst might descend if she’s not sleeping well.

So much for modrun seance, huh? Those preconceived notions and biases turn up even when we try to factor them out. Well, not we, really. Some of us are a mite smarter’n ‘at.

Now where was I? I was interrupted by a pitty pat who needed some lubbens.

We’ll be bringing home a new member of the family in a month or so, a wee little chihuahua puppy. We’re hopeful that Miss Autumn will be his big sister/adopted momma. We’re also hopeful that he understands a wee bit o’ English, as he’s been born into the home of Johnny the guy who owns the Chinese takeout joint. The pup will be among the last of his paternal lineage because some random transplanted Texican shitheads stole his father and before the cops found him the Texican shitheads had already had him neutered. Is their being Texicans and shitheads relevant or merely redundant? :D

Ennyhoo, the pup will probably grow up to look something like this, I think:

Kinda like a wingless bat, huh? At the moment he looks like about a tablespoon of animated black fur.

In udder nooze:

  • I got the new garbage disposer installed
  • Ditto the stove repairs
  • So we’re kinda sorta something like middle class/non-rednecks now
  • The bluetooth car kit is on its way back to the manufacturer…
  • … but I might have forgot to put the RMA number on the package so it might come back
  • Some fleabay seller from whom I ordered stinkjet ink catridges never got around to shipping them…
  • … so I got a refund and ordered some from another vendor…
  • … who might also be a Chinese company with US warehousing…
  • … but who would therefor be pretty much just like an American company anyway
  • It’s time to burn flowers.

Be well, friends and neighbors!

International Day Of The Nacho, October 21st.

I find that I have a lot to say but none of it I’d want to read if someone else wrote it, so I’m letting you all off of the hook. All gifts of cash and/or negotiable bearer instruments welcome! :D

Tomorrow, October 21st, is the International Day Of The Nacho. Now that’s something worth talking about. We will, of course, be having some nachos to celebrate. And now I’m all talked about about nachos.

One Thousand Words Of Nothing Much

It’s been a week since I blogged so it must be time to write a new one.

I might have finally got the manufacturer of the bluetooth car kit up to the point of replacing the cute little shiny metal box. The tex port drone finally ran out of arguments against replacing the thing, long after running out of logical arguments. I probably shouldn’t bitch, though, because all indications are that they’re going to replace the thing even though I bought it from some random shithead on fleabay. If the thing will work all the time the way it now works most of the time I’ll be a happy technophile.

Technophile sounds like too haughty a term, but I’ve never identified myself as a geek or nerd. The only things I have in common with that subspecies are a big brain and a strong aversion to stupidity. It’s not a superiority thing; it’s like having good hygiene and so wishing to avoid those who don’t. A person can be perfectly wonderful and not at all objectionable in any other way, but when his aroma is reminiscent of sweaty horse rectum few will wish to be close to him.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do know what the ass of a sweaty horse smells like. The rectum in particular, well, maybe not. I’ve never stuck my beak right up in there to discover whether or not the rectum itself smells like the overall ass. I can’t see myself ever doing it, really.

The first time our daughter said of a dish she disliked at a restaurant that it “tasted like ass”, my response was “I’ll have to take your word for that”. She hasn’t used that phrase around me ever since. :D

I’ve probably mentioned that our rent is relatively low because our landlady isn’t in a position to make repairs so I have to do so myself… And that the house was suffering a pretty severe case of single-mom-itis. She’s certainly not a hillbilly, she was simply doing the best she could with the resources available to her. The shingles on the roof are pretty new, but the garbage disposer was replaced with pipe. The fan limit switch in the furnace was sticky so sometimes you had to whack it with a short wooden tool handle that was kept nearby for the purpose of getting the fan to shut off. That kind of thing. Lots and lots of that kind of thing.

I’ve already got most of the deferred maintenance corrected and with any kind of luck will be powering through the last of it that I’m willing to do this weekend. There’s a new 3/4 horsepower garbage disposer on the way and UPS predicts that it will be here on Thursday, along with some range parts for the nearly too old to repair electric range that was installed when the house was built back in 1979. It’ll be nice to have all four burners working again. One of the small ones was toast when we moved in, and the only large one punked out recently and motivated me to get up off of my lazy ass to fix it.

If you are or have known well one who was the scapegoat child in a family of at least one pathologically narcissistic parent you know that “get up off of my lazy ass” is a joke. If you’re not: That was a joke. I’ve never been and wouldn’t ever have been allowed to be lazy. Now ya know.

There are a couple of power outlets that don’t work and are fire hazards, and I’m finally thinking about getting up off of my lazy ass to fix those, too. If the weather gods aren’t full of shit again it’ll be in the mid-60’s and dry this weekend, which is nice for that kind of work since the junction box and one of those two outlets are outdoors. Amethyst will be working this weekend so hopefully I don’t forget my manners and get corrected by the unforgiving tron gods. I’d feel pretty stupid getting killed by 120 volts AC after spending so many years working with high voltage as I did. On the up side, I’ve historically been infinitely safer working alone on high voltage electronics than when working with others. I just have to keep that streak alive.

On the other hand, I might get around to procrastinating on that job.

Unless we land a big lottery jackpot, the carpets and a couple of compromised thermal windows are going to remain as they are. Our resources are not so limited as our landlady’s were and may still be, but there’s only so much I’m willing to pay for in a rental. Last weekend Amethyst was looking at a new electric range… she might be willing to buy new carpet, and if she is then more power to her, but I’m not going to do it myself.

Now you know why I don’t post photos of Miss Autumn all the time. The carpet sucked even in 1979 when it was new and it’s not improved at all with age. I wasn’t so fond of that whole “Earth tones” thing even in 1979 when my dear Amethyst was picking out our furniture — I was just perfectly happy to know that her sweet ass would sit on it. Not that it ever did.

I sure do have a thrilling weekend planned! On Saturday I’ll repair the range, install the garbage disposer, fix the burnt electrical bits, and maybe even get around to preparing the garage to contain The Doat all winter. The Doat is our old pickup truck. Maybe my old pickup truck. The one with the busticated bluetooth car kit still in it, for the time being. The one that’ll get its oil changed on the last weekend of the month, if I manage to get up off of my lazy ass to change it. :D

Boy, now, that’s one exciting life I’ve got, ain’t it?

Every Now And Then

I’m still dealing with the manufacturer’s tech support drone about my wacky bluetooth car kit. The guy I’m contending with just ain’t all that bright, but he apparently believes that because he’s the tech support guy and I’m not, I must be just some stupid consumer. Which is a real hoot and a half because it compels him to say things like:

Vehicles are a very different environment and have quite a few more variables than other circuits you may be used to dealing with.

I suspect that the guy thinks an electrical engineer is a guy who tells electricians how to wire buildings. The really funny part is that the device in question is literally smaller than a cigarette pack. Here’s the cute little plastic insert in which the thing was nestled inside its box:tranzit_box

Here’s the same thing with a pack of cigarettes over the hole where the device lived before it came out of the box:

But, since tobacco is bad for humans, maybe this photo is more better:


‘Scuse me, can’t type and light my pipe at the same time. Be right back.

Ah, that’s more like it. Now, why was I? Oh, yeah, the cute little toy that came out of that plastic thing and the support drone who doesn’t get that it’s poor form to assume ignorance.

If you’ve ever been exposed to the most basic of basic electronics instruction, you’ll remember Ohm’s Law and Kirchoff’s Laws. If you haven’t been so exposed, they’re pretty simple little things and Kirchoff’s two laws are really just derivatives of Ohm’s one and only law. Our friend the tex port thought it best to explain some stuff at me, so he wrote what one might expect if a student were given an essay question on Kirchoff’s second law. Well, that and some fantastic bullshit, but mostly Kirchoff’s second, and delivered in a manner indicating an air of superiority. Which he punctuated by saying on a new line but not a new paragraph:

Simple Ohm’s Law principles.

Okay, they are. But the stuff he wrote was Kirchoff’s second as explained by a first semester EE student who is failing English, with no reference to Kirchoff’s first. Ohm’s encompasses both so is typically referred to when addressing more than just one of Kirchoff’s derivative. It’s like a kid is standing on the beach pointing at the ocean asking “what’s that?” and you say “Earth”. It’s funny if the kid is of legal age to consume marijuana in a state where it is legal and you’re the same age and in fact you’ve both just done so, but it’s not really the thing to do if you’re trying to talk down to an electrical engineer about basic electronic theories.

‘Cuz I’m a-fuckin’ bag you on that shit every god damned time. In a jovial manner, though, because I’m amused rather than offended by his arrogant assumptions of my ignorance and unwitting exposure of his own. That kind of thing happens pretty regularly with young people, and I actually have fun with it. I just do my incognito thing, let them talk themselves to the limits of their knowledge, and then right when they hit that limit I’ll ask a question that they’ll follow right past that limit like a child chasing a ball out into the street. Then, well, I’m a-fuckin’ bag you on that shit every god damned time. In a jovial manner, though, because…

Looky there. I wrote a circular paragraph. In programming that would be a tail recursion if you’ve got sense enough to stop reading it at some point, an infinite loop otherwise. Check me out on my geek side here. :D

Now we know why I don’t often blog while high.

‘Scuse me, can’t type and light my pipe at the same time. Be right back.

Ah, that’s more like it. Now, why was I? Oh, yeah… tail recursion.

Don’t feel bad if you don’t get that joke. I don’t get it either, which is why I probably screwed up the telling of it. I figure I’ve got maybe two readers who might get that joke and they’re so seldom seen that neither of them will ever read it. So I’m off the hook! No one will ever know. I done chased that damn ball right out into the street and didn’t get hit by a car or yelled at by an adult. Found a quarter in the gutter, too. Happy days.

I actually did flash back to my childhood there. Boy, finding a quarter was great luck in those days. And, come to think of it, my mother never did yell at me about chasing balls into the street. It must’ve bothered her, though, because I always saw a pained look on her face when I turned around to run back to the sidewalk. But she got over it quickly enough and was always smiling by the time she got around to explaining that one day I was going to get run over and killed.

Oh, hey! You know what I find really cool and exciting about turning 53 here in a few weeks? Oh, wow, you’re way too quick for me. You’re right. Not a damned thing.

53 is like 35, really, only you’re not married to a psycho any more. And most of the statutes of limitation have run out, as have those no account friends who made such things as statutes of limitation important to you in the first place. Or so they tell me. I wouldn’t know about such things. For a few weeks yet.

Now we know why I don’t often blog while high.

Mouthpiece Of The Establishment

I did my best to avoid it but ended up reading a particularly wrong-headed article in the Washington Post anyway: Compromise needed on smartphone encryption. In it, the editors of that mouthpiece of the establishment argue that citizens protecting their data from all who would steal it are somehow interfering with the ostensibly legitimate aims of law enforcement. Here’s the most curious bit:

How to resolve this? A police “back door” for all smartphones is undesirable — a back door can and will be exploited by bad guys, too. However, with all their wizardry, perhaps Apple and Google could invent a kind of secure golden key they would retain and use only when a court has approved a search warrant.

It’s a nice bit of sleight of mouth, that. How could a “secure golden key” be anything but a back door? It would be a secret means by which certain entities could take control of a computing device against the will of that device’s lawful owner, and that is the definition of a back door. But WaPo jiggered the words to make the notion palatable to those they consider the unthinking masses, and there surely are those who are sufficiently unthinking to swallow it.

We could debate the trustworthiness of governments and law enforcement agencies until we’re blue in our faces, but in the end the fact remains that there is absolutely no technical distinction between “back door” and “secure golden key”. If there’s a backdoor it will be discovered by parties who did not install it, just as unintentional security vulnerabilities like Heartbleed and Shellshock and thousands more have been and will continue to be discovered.

I’m going to leave this topic now and without discussing why I believe my absolute distrust of law enforcement is the only rational approach. Surprising, isn’t it?

Be well, friends and neighbors. Encrypt everything.