That’s Just The Way It Is Baby

Ah, Colorado! It snowed a couple of days ago, today I mowed the lawn. I had to empty the grass catcher eight times on the main part of the front lawn where it’s usually just twice — the first mowing of the season is always like that because I’m not one to rake Fall leaves like everyone else. I want the nutrients they contain to leech in the melting snow to do the grass some good. That’s my excuse and I’m stickin’ to it. I also did the horrible deed of spraying Miracle Gro on the lawn to make it green up nice. I would prefer good old fashioned cow shit, but I don’t really feel like loading up the truck with the free manure from the fairgrounds, then pulverizing and screening it. It’s a shitty job.

While I was finishing up the chemical attack, a couple in a Dodge Durango pulled up, the man got out, and asked, “Is this apartments or a house?”. No one’s ever asked that before, at least not of me. It’s just not that big a house; four bedrooms, three upstairs and one (my office) downstairs, living room up, family room down. Not tiny, but not a Yuppie Habitrail (AKA “McMansion”) either. The guy said he was looking for the blue apartments on our street — there ain’t any. The nearest blue apartment building is a block and a half southwest. I told him about them, but apparently they weren’t what they were looking for as I saw them again a few minutes later coming from that direction. I hope they’ve found the place they were looking for; there are no vacancies at the hotels and motels in town this weekend. There’s something going on involving a cartoon character, I think I heard. Why anyone would come to Dinkytown for such a thing, I don’t know.

The mowing showed me a little bit about what it’s like getting older, and I didn’t like it all that much. Okay, so I was mostly sedentary all winter… It’s never been a problem before, dammit. It’s not supposed to ever be a problem. Just lie around for months doing nothing, then hit the ground running and never know the difference, right? Mowing the lawn isn’t supposed to be painful, not even on the side of a mountain where it’s all slope and no level. I’m left thinking that if I die tonight I avoid the unpleasantness of decay and decrepitude, and never mind that I’ve been dealing with some of both since I was a ripe old 35.

Once upon a time I figured it was worth it, tramping around above timberline (meaning: on solid fucking rock) with a heavy pack on my back, beating hell out of hips, knees, and ankles… Just think how precious those memories will be, I thought, never considering that I wouldn’t think of them so often anyway. I’m still too busy and yet too young to spend my time sitting around reminiscing about a lost and intentionally misspent youth.

I never thought that I might blow my back out picking up the front end of a riding mower with a whiny old man perched on the seat of it, either. That’s my major complaint, really, that persistent pain that makes getting out of bed unpleasant as hell every morning, and which is terribly distracting for several days after I do something silly like work on my truck, or carry heavy things, or run the chainsaw for more than a few minutes… Intelligent design my heathen ass! Ain’t nothing deserving of the title intelligent thought this fragile shit up.

So it goes. Time for a blast of whiskey and a hot shower to mitigate the pain I’ll experience in the morning. Be well but not too good, friends and neighbors!

Sometimes I Astound Me. Just Not Now.

The Gods Of Machinery And Entropy have apparently decided that this is the perfect time for my truck to yield to their capricious whims. I don’t believe it’s the truck they’re after. It’s hours of my life they want, and they very carefully selected just the right hours to maximize my displeasure with the whole affair. The money I’m spending was earned by dealing with my least favored current client and the unnecessary emergencies he creates, and the repair is going to eat a few hundred bucks out of my wallet and a long, full day out of my life. The rotten bastards. They were waiting for this. I know they were.

The failure is one of those that doesn’t disable the vehicle. Instead, it would just leave someone who doesn’t know any better thinking that it’s normal enough for older vehicles to demand a quart of oil every thousand miles and so dutifully pouring it in at about that rate. That someone who doesn’t know any better, though, would learn a very expensive lesson about cascading failures. This particular failure that can be fixed with just a relatively inexpensive gasket set when caught early can destroy the catalytic converter and at least one cylinder head if not addressed early. Left to go even longer it would eventually disable the engine.

The inexplicable part of it is that I’ve succumbed to superstition despite having argued against this particular stupid-stition for years. Some folks with just enough knowledge to be dangerous have given rise to the myth that this specific failure is due to the different thermal expansion rates of dissimilar metals, between which is a gasket — the idiot theory is that the different rates of expansion place stress upon that gasket which is clamped between them and that stress eventually breaks it. It just ain’t so. What’s really happening is that the bolts that hold those dissimilar metals and the gasket all together are just about as long as the holes into which they’re threaded, and though the bolts are all pretty damn close to equal in length there’s some greater deviation in the depths of the holes. Where the bolts bottom in the holes they fail to provide sufficient clamping force to prevent the gasket from moving in response to the pressure differential across it, creating a tearing force between the points where the gasket cannot move and where it does move. The fix, the only fix necessary, is to install slightly shorter bolts when replacing that gasket. I know this. I sat down and did the math to disprove the dissimilar expansion rate bullshit. (Fortunately it’s pretty simple math that doesn’t get beyond my limited ability.)

But because the myth exists there are enterprising souls about who manufacture and sell an aluminum piece to replace the steel piece that does not in fact cause any problem at all if the bolts are not bottomed in their holes. And I just bought one of them despite knowing that I do not need it.

The Gods Of Machinery And Entropy are surely laughing their intangible asses off right now.

I suppose I could make up some bullshit about how the thick aluminum replacement piece, being much more rigid than the steel it replaces, will more evenly distribute that wonderful clamping force and so presumably will increase the lifetime of the gasket. I actually like that idea — being a lazy bastard I’ll put in 150% of the money and effort this time if it’ll save me from doing it a second time. But I’ve no reason to suspect that just using shorter bolts alone wouldn’t leave me with a gasket very likely to outlive the rest of the engine so I’m kinda back in the realm of supposition, if not superstition. Maybe I could say that if I ever indulge the fantasy of installing a supercharger I won’t have to install the new piece then, which fits my lazy bastard way of being just fine. But I know that doubling the horsepower would just expose the next weak link, then the next one, then the next one, so I’m pretty unlikely to spend several thousand dollars just so I can be silly in between spending more money upgrading weak links. Never mind that I’ve already got the most expensive piece of it, the transmission, in place. I know I am given to occasional fits of irrational self indulgence so it made sense to just do it.

Hmmm… That’s it. I know I’m given to occasional fits of irrational self indulgence and might one day get around to supercharging the thing, so I just autopiloted the decision because it actually makes a certain kind of sense. The pilot just napped through the flight until the autopilot shut off and had to ask, “Hey, which airport are we landing at?”.

And now the Gods Of Machinery And Entropy are begging me to stop because their intangible ribs hurt from laughing so hard. They haven’t seen anything this funny since George W tried to ride a Segway.

Barnacles

Mr. R. We Theryet is going to shit out a supertanker when he reads his email to find that his database server crashed after six days of data restoration. The barnacles may be a mite unpleasant as they pass.

I’ve never before liked barnacles, but in this case I think they’re absolutely grand.

It Ain’t News

I probably shouldn’t look at the stuff they call news. I probably shouldn’t repeat that sentiment periodically, either.

Some hard core imperialists, also known as Republican Congressmen, are apparently frothing at the mouth to attack Iran and just can’t wait to get one of their own in the big chair so they can get their next war on. Gotta wonder about that. Some of them even say stupid things along the lines of “We need crippling, killing sanctions against Iran. Look at North Korea, who developed a nuclear arsenal in spite of crippling sanctions!”. Duh. Does it really take a genius to figure out that North Korea developed a nuclear arsenal because of the sanctions? It certainly does take a moron to fall into the obvious mental trap of believing that one’s chosen ideology has failed because one did not execute it wholeheartedly enough.

Hillary Clinton has trouble now because she used a personal mail server, exclusively, for the conduct of official business while she was Secretary of State. As far as I’m concerned, fuck her. She’s been in law, politics, and power long enough to know that she was in that very dark grey area where future political ambitions were put at risk by her actions. Assuming that she’s at least that smart, it follows that she must have had some compelling reason to hide her email messages — and that she doesn’t want that reason known. Thus, fuck her. Just not with my dick.

I saw something interesting on factcheck.org, More Keystone Spin: “Based only on EIA statistics, we can say that no more than 50.4 percent of the oil would be destined for export as refined product under today’s conditions, though the figure would likely grow over time assuming that the current boom in fuel exports continues”. They say they’ve based their conclusion on 2014 data which shows that 50.4% of the products of refining were exported. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that in 2014, without the Keystone XL pipeline, there was no shortage of petroleum products in the United States and all domestic demand was supplied. So, with no increased domestic demand to absorb the increased supply, that additional supply necessarily must be exported.

I can draw a useful analogy: Suppose Amethyst and I were in the egg business, and with 8,000 laying hens we were supplying all of the Dinkytown market with half of our production, and selling the rest in surrounding communities. Now, though, we’ve just added another 4,000 hens to increase our production. How many of those additional eggs might we sell in Dinkytown? None. The local market is already fully satisfied by our existing production. If we’re to sell any of those additional eggs, we must sell them outside of Dinkytown. Every last one of ’em.

Shame on FactCheck for getting something so easy so terribly wrong. Shame on me for stupidly looking at the news again. I know better than to do that.

I quasi-legally procured some quasi-legal marijuana yesterday to replenish my supply which ran out night before last. It’s a wonderful strain, very happy and uplifting. Amethyst hadn’t sniffed at it while we were at the store, and though she doesn’t partake she like the smell of the flowers so I handed her the bottle. She said something indicating that she liked it, and held the bottle out to Starr Pupper to sniff. Starr, before we got her, was known as Stony to the folks we got her from because she was mellow, at least by Chihuahua standards… The Starr formerly known as Stony took a whiff and began licking her chops. Hmmm…

NO, I am not one of those who thinks it funny to blow pot smoke into a pet’s face. I’ve never done it, and never will. I just thought that her licking her chops was funny, especially so given the name she was called before we got her.

I guess that’s nature’s way of telling me that I should smoke a bowl and watch Encino Man.

The idiot client’s response when I informed him via email a little bit ago that his monstrous database is backed up so I’m now working on cleaning up the messes my predecessor left behind: “Thank you Jesus”.

Jesus is not the one who’s given up his weekend to do this shit, but he’s been thanked and I haven’t. Guess whose bill just got asshole taxes added. (Hint: Jesus doesn’t have a credit card.)

The client I wrote about yesterday who seems unlikely to ever get his shit together is freaking out today because a problem I called to his attention weeks ago is now biting his ass and making it bleed. One might wonder why a guy would pay my hourly rate just to disregard my advice time and time again. It’s getting frustrating because his damned perpetual crisis interferes with my ability to stick to my schedule. It seems to be one of those cases of a guy not knowing that he’s being a jerk.

Him, that is. Not me.

I Impressed A Bureaucrat

I managed to impress a government bureaucrat yesterday with the high quality of my paperwork. She said that the documents I drafted were the best of their kind she’d ever seen. Never thought that’d happen. Wasn’t even aiming for it. Didn’t know it was possible.

The net result of my super duper documentation is that one of my clients gets to bring in a subsidized employee — and I get to be his mentor. He’s got zero relevant education, experience, or prior knowledge, so it’ll all come down to whether or not he’s got the native talent for the field. If he does, nothing can stop him from succeeding. If he doesn’t, nothing can enable him to succeed. Either way I get paid, and hopefully get to have some fun along the way.

Though it’s not an officially acknowledged thing, and doesn’t need to be, I’ve been mentoring the CEO of the client company for just shy of two years now so the new guy will be in good company. I’m really thrilled with the progress the CEO has made — it wasn’t that long ago that she decided to just turn off the lights and go home, but I talked her into going back to the office on Monday and giving it another shot. She spent much of last year solving the problems that had driven her to that point, and this year is working her plan to expand existing markets and move into new ones. She’s really great in the protégé role and makes it very easy for me. She listens well, asks questions, and then runs with what I give her. I hope the new guy has the native talent to succeed, not only for his own sake, but because I don’t want her to be forced to manage (him) when she should be executing (her plans). Time will tell.

Another client who’s teetering on the edge of shutting down a huge chunk of his business ain’t quite that smart. I don’t see him ever getting his shit in order, but I also don’t see him ever pulling the trigger on shutting down, either. He’ll talk about it, but then those credit card payments will roll in on the first of the month and he’ll get to thinking…

Just because I finally got around to looking for and bookmarking it: The Chicago Sunday Tribune of August 19, 1945. It includes the article “Bare Peace Bid U.S. Rebuffed 7 Months Ago”. The article speaks of the 40 page document that MacArthur relayed to the White House two days before FDR left for Yalta (in early February, 1945), in which the Japanese offered full surrender of all Japanese forces around the world, full surrender of all arms and munitions, occupation of the Japanese mainland by allied forces under the command of the United States, relinquishment of all territory seized during the war, regulation of Japanese industry to halt and prevent production of implements of war, turning over any/all Japanese citizens the US might wish to prosecute for war crimes, and release of all POW’s and “internees” held by the Japanese. In other words, exactly the same terms of surrender that were perfectly acceptable after we nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki. MacArthur had urged FDR to negotiate, but FDR flatly rejected the offer and, after a cursory reading, remarked that “MacArthur is our greatest general and our poorest politician”. According to the article, “Officials said Mr. Roosevelt felt that… peace could not come until the Japs suffered more”.

I threw that in because sometimes it’s fun to do things like that to Americans, the clueless fucks. Not that people anywhere else are any better informed about the shit their leaders do in secret, but we’re claiming to be democratic — not that we are, or ever have been, or were ever intended to be. Our Constitution established, as it was designed to, a plutocracy, and it functioned as such until that same FDR’s New Deal. Now that the New Deal has been dismantled and we of modern times can see all around us what’s wrong with our Constitution, it’s time to change the thing so it works for those of us who didn’t have sense enough to be born rich.

Enough babbling. Be well, friends and neighbors!