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Atomic Fungus
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in atomic_fungus' LiveJournal:

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Monday, December 17th, 2018
7:09 pm
#6452: You see, this is what happens
This is what communism does. Communism, socialism, leftism, whatever the hell you want to call it.

When you get Bernie Sanders or Alexandra Ocasio-whatever telling you they're going to give you socialism, they are offering you a life of WANT AND SQUALOR, where you will freeze in the dark approximately whenever the elites decide you will, where you have absolutely no recourse whatsoever, and complaints get you sent to the gulag.

This is what they want for you when they talk about "common sense gun control".

* * *

In San Francisco, you don't own property; you rent it from the government. This is in fact true just about everwhere in the US--anywhere you must pay property tax--but especially so in SF, where you have to get government's permission to tear down a house that's too expensive to fix, and if they don't give it, you have to throw good money after bad and pay more than the house is worth to fix it up.

* * *

What are you so worried about, Arse Technica? Aren't the commisars of the Goolag on your side of the aisle?

* * *

So, apparently the Las Vegas real estate market is not doing too well. No idea how that compares to the rest of the country.

* * *

Ooohh a government shutdown is coming ohnoes ...and 75% of the thing will still function as it usually does and with Trump there won't be any "shutdown theater" the way there was with Obama, shutting parks and memorials which cost nothing to keep open.

Trust me--during the time frame they're talking about no one will notice if the government is shut down. No one.

* * *

And now, errands.
Sunday, December 16th, 2018
4:11 pm
#6451: Jeep afterthought
Today I went to get some KFC, and I noticed that the voltmeter is registering 14v. For quite some time it's been below that--still charging, but a bit low. 12v is the nominal voltage; a properly-functioning 12v automotive electrical system should runs around 14v when everything's working and the engine is running.

And the whir/whine my alternator was making has decreased considerably. So, yeah--bad ground, all right.
3:19 pm
#6450: Hoar frost
Got up this morning, early, to hit the can, and it was foggy outside--and the grass was covered in frost, thick frost, so that it looked as if it had snowed.

There's been a lot of that in the past week or ten days or so. A white Christmas is out of the question now, I'm certain, and the weather pattern is shaping up to line up with my predictions for a relatively warm winter. Yesterday and today were in the fifties; it's been consistently above freezing for more than a week (except at night) and it rained overnight Wednesday or Thursday. I'm glad that wasn't snow.


Anyway we went and got our Christmas tree last night, and I had an epic amount of trouble with getting it to stand straight. I don't know if it's because the stand is getting old, or if this particular tree was the problem, but I dug out the big plastic stand we bought several years ago and used it, and the tree stands straight up in it. Festoonery will occur today, later on.


* * *

I actually think this is fair. If citizens cannot have magazines with more than ten rounds in them, why should off-duty police get to? Forget the fact that the default configuration for those guns is greater than ten rounds--that the manufacturer made them to have an unmodified capacity of twelve rounds--why should an off-duty cop get to carry a firearm that a civilian cannot? Why should off-duty cops be exempt from any law on the books?

Hell, why should on-duty cops be exempt? If the state of New Jersey has decided that high-capacity magazines are so freaking dangerous, maybe the entire law enforcement apparatus of New Jersey should also have to give up its high-cap mags.

Besides, we've seen how effective police are at using guns; the stories where police fired hundreds of rounds and struck their target a handful of times are legion. Maybe having fewer bullets per magazine would enforce a little target discipline.

* * *

Not to put too fine a point on it, but those are muslim values, not Republican. Mainstream Republicans actually think women have rights, and also don't think gays should all be hanged.

...but the point is apt: the left excuses actual behavior from muslims that far exceeds the policy preferences of the right. In the islamic world, women are chattel and have no rights at all, and the left loves them. The right would prefer that the legality of abortion-on-demand be left to the states, and they're anti-woman.

The right doesn't want children to be indoctrinated in homosexuality in school and they're awful people; islamists throw gays off buildings and they're peachy keen.

Hypocrisy is a core feature of leftism, of course. You don't need to think about it very deeply to understand the contradiction as long as you bear that in mind. The left doesn't actually give a wet fart about gay rights or womens' rights or anyone's rights; what the left cares about is the bludgeon those issues give it to seize power. And once the left is securely in power, it gets to decide which group is the favored one--and inevitably the favored group is the party, the left itself.

It happens this way every time. And in fact, what usually happens is that once the left has secured power, the very groups it purports to support become "out" groups, persecuted because their willingness to oppose one government could easily carry over to opposing the leftist government. It's pathetically easy to justfy; Gay Activist sees that the new regime isn't doing any better about "gay rights" and protests, and the new regime says, "Well, you're just not a good leftist," and off he goes to the gulag--and anyone with him. Any group that objects to the new order is dealt with, no matter how fervent was their support of revolution. Ask Leon Trotsky.

The Khmer Rouge is the most extreme example. People got shot just for looking like intellectuals, and so-called intellectuals are usually the first people to support marxism. Also artists and academics. People who were members of groups that typically supported socialism were none the less rounded up and executed, wholesale, because the regime decided they were a threat.

The left is vehemently opposed to what America represents; that's why it sides with any group or organization which opposes the traditional US establishment. The left feeds on violence and oppression and death, and cannot stand a place where people are free and prosperous. For the moment, muslims are "fellow travelers"; but if the left were ever to secure power, the concentration camps and mass graves would fill up with muslims.

* * *

There's a comment at this post which makes a great deal of sense. In Star Wars--before it was "A New Hope"--Darth Vader was not really all that important in the Empire. In Empire Strikes Back he was the Emperor's right-hand-man. The two comments made in December of 2016 (this is a repost), taken together, make some interesting points about the untold backstory.

Basically, Vader is more important than he looks in ep 4, and between ep 4 and 5 he's maneuvered himself into a place at the emperor's side.

...which, of course, ignores the fact that in eps 1, 2, and 3, Anakin Skywalker goes from kid to nascent Jedi to the emperor's right-hand-man. But we can forgive that; some eighteen or so years pass between ep 3 and ep 4, and a lot can happen to a man's career in that time. Perhaps Vader had fallen out of favor for some reason?

But I think that ep 4 and ep 5 are actually internally consistent. It's a common thing in movie series; in the first one you establish who the bad guy is, and in the sequel, you reveal the power behind him--it's pretty good storytelling, which only further convinces me that George Lucas can't write his way out of a wet paper bag.

I like the idea of Darth Vader being a figure like Otto Skorzeny; they could have done that and done great things, story-wise. But the depiction of Darth Vader in Star Wars does not preclude his depiction in Empire Strikes Back, and still fits very well.

It's demonstated that the Emperor uses Vader as a kind of troubleshooter, though, and his presence on the Death Star in Star Wars makes sense. Tarkin is in charge of the thing, and to my way of thinking that would seem to indicate that he's also greatly favored by the Emperor--in which case the relationship between Tarkin and Vader becomes clear: they are approximately equal in status and power.

Anyway, the discussion starts by talking about the CGI Tarkin in Rogue One, and I agree wholeheartedly that CGI can't replace real actors, for the reason cited.

Look: animation (of any kind) can evoke all kinds of emotion. I've talked before about how much emotion a good comic artist can pack into a single still frame, esp. someone really talented like Rumiko Takahashi--but the artist must set out specifically to convey those emotions, must actually instill the drawn image with them.

That's what's wrong with the CGI actor: sure, it looks like someone, and it moves convincingly, but it's not that person. Nuance in the performance must be digitally added by an artist, and if the artist doesn't add it, it's not there. So the CGI Tarkin is not the Tarkin we see in Star Wars. It's quite literally a caricature.

* * *

Speaking of caricatures, Starship Troopers, the movie extruded by Paul Verhoeven.

...incidentally WHY THE HELL DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME ABOUT THIS? In the Heinlein story, the main character is "John". In the movie, the main character is the bartender--but it's Heinlein's story!

Mediocre, I'm told, but now I have to see it. End digression.

The movie can be summed up most eloquently like this:
Something that vaguely resembled something from the novel would happen on screen but it was like the screen writer had only heard about it third hand from someone who hated the book.
I saw the movie one time, on opening night, in the theater. It was full of glitz and wow, and I left the theater liking it...but after I got home and thought it over, I realized what an unmitigated turd it was.

And never watched it again, let alone any of its sequels.

The update to this repost concludes, speaking of a YouTube review of the movie, with a salient point:
[Reviewer points out that]...in Starship Troopers there is never any effort to reach an understanding with the Bugs.

Of course being good liberals they are making the assumption that the Bugs would have something to say other than, "well you see the reason we are killing all of you is that, we want you all to die. We have no desire to share a universe with you whatsoever."
The main flaw that I find with Heinlein's book is that the Bugs' motivation for war is murky.

It's demonstrated, for example, that they don't need the same kind of real estate we do.

Item: Klendathu has an atmosphere that's poisonous to humans, but the Bugs live underground.

Item: The Skinnies are not Bugs, and they have some kind of agreement with the Bugs, so the Bugs are clearly not simple xenophobes. Further the Skinnies are not enslaved by the Bugs; their relationship is portrayed as voluntary.

Item: The war itself is characterized as being "skirmishes" and "actions" long before it turns into total war. When Rico is in BT, there is no war; the war begins sometime during that period, or shortly afterwards. During this "feeling out" phase, hhe mentions (in passing) that there's some kind of diplomacy involved, though it's confined to a single sentence.

So it's not over territory; it's not because the Bugs hate all other races; it's not because of some casus belli that mandates total war. It's something else.

...and of course because Johnny Rico is "just a grunt" he wouldn't necessarily know anything, and the story makes plain that a soldier's job is to shut up and soldier. It's also clear that the war is only just starting out, approximately at the same time Johnny's career in the Mobile Infantry is.

Anyway, it's a gripe of mine. I'd like to know. Still, there isn't really any need to, I guess.

* * *

Most probably it was a triple conjunction of Regulus and Jupiter. There was a conjunction of Regulus and Jupiter, then a second while Jupiter was in retrograde, and then a third as Jupiter left retrograde. The "star of Bethlehem" was actually a sort of asterism, but according to the tenets of astrology it was a very, very big and important sign.

Regardless of what it actually was, though, it's part of the greatest thing ever.
Saturday, December 15th, 2018
4:06 pm
#6449: You bet your ass I kissed the thing
So, as previously stated, Jeep wasn't running. Wouldn't stay running, would only start with my foot on the gas, etc. Grounds stated as possible cause.

Yeah, just maybe:

That is--or WAS, rather--the location where the battery grounds to the chassis. A bolt went through that hole and through a captive nut on the other side of that panel. That bolt secured the chassis or frame ground from the battery's negative terminal and ensured that everything had a good ground return path to the battery.

The only problem is, THAT'S NOT A FUCKING GROUND ANY LONGER. What that is, is a nut and bolt stuck through a stupid-large hole in the panel, which may or may not actually make some limited electrical connection, but sure as hell doesn't make a good one.

I had to pull the inner fender liner to get a pair of vise grips on the no-longer-captive nut that bolt went through. Having removed the bolt, when I saw that, I thought, "Yeah, that's it, all right."

Had to drill an existing hole a bit bigger to accommodate the bolt; filed away paint to get a good connection, wire-wheeled the bolt, and buttoned it all back up.

Engine kind-of ran. It was missing, but at least it was idling without my foot on the gas. That's what I'd expect from a misfire on one or two cylinders, especially in anything bigger than a 4-cylinder engine.

Shut her off and then dove back in. Pulled the coil bar, intending to get a look at it, but I absolutely could not get the electrical connector to separate, so I decided to try something else first: spark plugs.

You may recall that some months ago (I don't even remember when it was, now) I bought a set of plugs for the old Jeepney intending to replace them; I never got around to it--but with the coil bar off now was a good time, and since I had the new plugs it was a trivial exercise to replace them and eliminate them as a factor.

Pulled the plugs, and YE CATS what a mess they were. Proper gap is 0.035 and these were more like 0.05 or even 0.06. Rounded electrodes, the whole bit.

...which makes sense, considering THEY HAD SEVENTY THOUSAND MILES ON THEM.

Got the new plugs, gapped them, lubed them with anti-seize, stuck 'em in, then replaced the coil bar. Said a quick prayer, then cranked her...and she started, and ran, smooth as you please. Gunned it a few times, and there was no hesitation at all.

Got out, walked to the front of her, and left a kiss on the top of the grille.

I left the Jeep running while I cleaned up my tools, since I couldn't go much farther today in any event; the sun's going down. And it didn't miss a beat, just kept on idling away, nice and smooth. Once everything was cleaned up I shut her down and closed up.

So I do believe I'll call that one "fixed".
1:49 pm
#6448: Antelopastor!
So, Mrs. Fungus is watching a Netflix documentary about the Rajneeshi cult and the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

You can look up the particulars if you're interested, but I recall some of the to-do about the Bhagwan from when I was a teenager; what I remember most was the SNL skit where Randy Quaid was a used-car salesman trying to unload all of the Bhagwan's Rolls Royces. (He had dozens of them.)

Anyway, in one ep of the documentary, there was old video from the 1980s of some guy talking, and it was captioned, "ANTELOPE PASTOR" in a simple yellow Arial font. It looked about like the kind of titling an average consumer could put on a video in around 1996, but in the early 1980s it was state-of-the-art broadcasting technology.

Mrs. Fungus said, "His name is 'Antelope'?"

Me: "No, he's from the town of Antelope, and he's a pastor there, I think."

Then I sang:
Oledanbolt! And Antelope Pastor
Riding forth on an adventure!

Me: ...


Me: I'm not doing anything!

Her: But you're there!

...and so the very next day I created "Antelopastor" in WoW, and he's a human priest. There arent enough letters in the name field to do "AntelopePastor", worse luck. Best I could do (other than "Antelopastor") would be something like "Anteloppstr" or "Antelopepas". "Antelopastor" will do.

Anyway, Antelopastor is 11th level now, and he's the first toon I've started from 1st level since all the zone scaling stuff went live. It makes surviving the low levels a little easier, actually.

And now I really must get after that Jeep.
1:27 pm
#6447: Unconstitutional, but we knew that.
It's a start. A judge has found that the individual mandate in Obamacare is unconstitutional, and further has found that because the law cannot stand without that provision, the whole thing is unconstitutional.

The individual mandate is the requirement that everyone must buy insurance. This was the turning point for the lawsuit appeal that the Supreme Court heard; the infamous case where Justice Roberts was the deciding vote and upheld the law. The court ruled that Obamacare was a tax--a dubious decision in itself--and therefore was not coercing commerce, which would be unconstitutional.

And Karl Denninger says that means it's basically over for Obamacare.

Look: the recent tax cuts included removing the penalty for not being covered by health insurance. Prior to that, if you didn't have health insurance, you paid some amount of money to the IRS, and it was collected with your income taxes. That's what allowed the SC to pretend the individual mandate was a tax, and that's why the law was upheld; but now that the penalty has been eradicated, there's nothing to support the dubious proposition that Obamacare is fundamentally a tax--and without that, it's unconstitutional. And because the law can't work without the invidual mandate, the whole thing comes crashing down.

I like that Denninger thinks Roberts must adhere to his prior ruling on the case; but that sort of thing is for the little people, and doesn't apply in a world where the SC is a secondary legislature and "rule of law" is basically extinct. I expect there to be a lot of pretzel logic employed by the court to keep Obamacare on the books.

This ruling from Texas is a great first step, but it is only the first step; this case will have to go to the SC for it to have any chance at all of actually end up changing anything...but in the end, I doubt it will be that easy.

* * *

"Nobody wants to take your guns!" ...except everyone who proposes gun control, esp. "common sense" gun control.

Story here is that in the wake of a "common sense" magazine ban, the New Jersey state police have not ruled out going house-to-house to confiscate all magazines which are banned by the new law.

The interesting thing is, magazines are not serialized. There isn't any way to track them. Heck, I've got a couple spare mags for the guns I used to have, which my brother currently has in his possession; there's nothing illegal about me having them because they're not firearms, not in any sense. (Not even the legal sense where an unmachined, cast piece of metal is a "firearm" because it has a serial number on it, and because of what you can attach to it. Like those unfinished AR-15 receivers you can buy.)

So, the police aren't going to have any records of who has what magazines; at best, they're going to have a list of registered gun owners. The state police can visit everyone on that list, stand on their porch, and say, "Sir, we understand you're a registered gun owner. Do you have any magazines that can hold more than ten rounds?"

What they cannot do--absent a warrant--is to coerce access to the guns owned by these citizens. They have absolutely no legal right to enter the house and search it (for anything illegal) without a warrant. No law can supersede this right. A case could be made that they can do so if they have probable cause, but merely having documentation allowing one to own firearms is not itself probable cause.

Now, in fact, the NJ police have simply "not ruled out" doing this; they have certainly not announced any plans to do it...which is really a good thing. Because ultimately, this kind of ban is unenforceable absent any kind of house-to-house search.

And a house-to-house search like that would end very badly for the government that tried to do it.

What do you do, if you have these magazines and they suddenly become illegal? Well, I don't have any (and likely won't for some time to come, as I don't have a FOID card) but it is certainly possible for a person to wrap the magazines in paper towels that are soaked in WD-40--or some other rust preventative--put them into PVC pipes that are sealed on both ends, and bury them in a reasonably secure location, where someone is unlikely to dig for anything. Maybe put in a nice flower bed by the deck, or something, you know. "Oh, no, officer, I have no high-capacity magazines. Just standard ones."

But, hey! We've been promised that nobody wants to take our guns, right? And the people in history who have banned gun ownership by the general populace have always turned out to love freedom and equality for all, certainly. Just look at the list of outstanding people: Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro....

* * *

Chicago specifically and Illinois generally are shitty-ass places for business so it comes as no surprise to me that Apple decided to build a new corporate center elsewhere.

In Illnois, the taxes are too damned high, and any business run by anyone with any sense can look at what the Chicago and state governments are doing, and conclude that this is the worst place to invest. The pension bomb has not been defused; at best Madigan and his cronies have reset the timer. Slightly.

And the closer that bomb gets to going off, the higher the taxes will go. There is a limit to how high the taxes on the populace can go, because the voters will riot if they are raised too much; but for corporations, the sky's the limit, and it really ends up coming down to which costs more, paying the taxes or relocating? You can't take your corporate headquarters and move it, not the way a single family can pack up and go.

But if you make it expensive enough, they will go. Take a look at Detroit.

* * *

The reality of transgenderism. There is a reason that the suicide rates among them are so high.

Look, I get it, as far as that goes; I can understand the desperate yearning to be something else. Believe me, I would love to have been born with an athletic physique, to have had 20/20 vision (at least in my youth) and to be able to reliably catch and throw or hit a ball; but instead I was a scrawny, clumsy kid with glasses that grew increasingly thick as the years went on. I have the brains to have been an astronaut, but not the physique or the eyesight; and even if all that had been there, I have a congenital heart murmur which ensured I would never be allowed to pull Gs by any medical professional involved in high performance flight or space travel. I could never have been an astronaut, as much as I would have liked that, and I knew it from the get-go, which is why I got so heavily into SF as a kid.

I'd love to visit the Moon, or go even farther, but I was born at the wrong time for someone with my physique to do that, and there is absolutely nothing whatsoever that can be done about it.

The only thing that can be done about it is for me to get used to the fact that I'll never be an astronaut, and that as the years go by the chance of me ever getting to take a commercial flight to space--even just to orbit--is waning. And so I read and write SF and imagine how marvelous it would be, and that's got to be enough.

The solution is not for me to decide that I identify as an astronaut, and to insist that everyone start calling me "Captain Rocket" or something, and start wearing jump suits with NASA mission patches, and get offended when someone points out that I'm actually a help desk technician who doesn't even have a private pilot's license. Because that's charitably called "an overactive imagination" and less charitably "delusional". (Or "fucking nuts" if you want to be crude.)

There is no difference between that and a biological man insisting that he's actually a woman. None. The only difference is that there is surgery which can convert a male body into something which superficially resembles a woman's body, but which does not change the immutable biological fact that there are only two sexes, and that sex is determined by your genes and your organs.

* * *

I will point out here, parenthetically, that there are cases where congenital development of a person's body result in androgyny, or hermaphodism. When this happens, the person in question is still biologically one sex or another, but due to circumstances during gestation does not fully develop the characteristics of that biological sex. In these cases only is it appropriate to consider how the individual identifies.

A person may have XY chromosomes yet may not have developed a penis and testicles during gestation. There will be some kind of sex organs present which may look more female than male; in this case, there's no reason for this person to called "male" if he wants to be "female". But if he decides that he is male, there's similarly no reason to contest it. That's because his biological sex is not manifest, and entirely a matter of opinion, particularly since hermaphrodites are usually sterile.

Understand, though, that hermaphodism is fairly uncommon. Most people have a definite biological sex, one that's obvious at birth.

* * *

So: my first week of "work from home" has passed. The first couple of days were a lot more stressful than I expected them to be.

Sure, you get rid of all the driving; you don't have to get up as early and when work is over you're already at home. No dress code. You have your own kitchen and bathroom. It's a dream!

...I think everyone has to make his own accommodation to it, though. I've sat here in PJs with three days' worth of stubble, and I've sat here in work clothes, freshly showered and shaved. I noticed no real difference in how I felt about it, nor in how I did the job. It's still work, it's still tiring, and it's still a relief when I can take the headset off.

I think that's my "switch", right there: to do my job I have to wear a headset, and when I'm not wearing it, I'm obviously not at work. Right now I'm sitting at the same desk in the same chair, in the same clothes I wore yesterday, but I feel relaxed and comfortable and "at home" because I'm not plugged in and I'm not wearing the headset.

When I'm working, I'm a bit tense (as I almost always am when out of the house) and feel like I'm "at work", and conscious of the fact that I'm on the clock.

I'll comment on it later, of course, as time goes on; but I can certainly see myself doing this.

* * *

Now I'm going to go see what I can do about the Jeep. First up is redoing the engine grounds. I hope that works, because I do not fancy digging further into it; if it's a vacuum leak (as was suggested) then I've got a royal pain in the ass ahead of me. Finding a vacuum leak in an engine that won't stay running is pretty much a nightmare.

And so, off I go.
11:18 am
#6446: You need a vacation!
One of the things that always bothered me the most about Amityville Horror is the scene where the priest is talking to his colleagues, and the priest that was also the mayor in Jaws tells Rod Steiger that he just needs a vacation, because of course there's no devil.

I forget exactly what he invokes, but he says that Rod Steiger is either a "novus ordo" or "Vatican II" priest, well-educated, and should be immune to "superstition"; and every time I watch this scene I think, "These guys are priests and they don't believe in the devil?"

And the worst part about it is that, over the years, I've learned enough about the functioning of the "modern" church to feel as if this is not a Hollywood exaggeration, but a reasonable approximation of how it is. Certainly not all priests are like that, but it seems to me that a staggering number of them must be solely because of how the church approaches some things.

Understand that I am born and raised protestant; my knowledge of the Catholic church is limited. But it seems to me that a lot of the scandal we see from the church could (or should, at least) not occur if the upper echelons of the leadership believed there was an adversary, a supernatural power that actively wanted to bring down the church.

I read Ann Barnhardt's discussions on the corruption at the highest levels of it, and while I prefer to believe that it's not quite as dire as she depicts it, there's enough smoke coming from that level that there has to be some fire there--maybe not the raging inferno she describes, but certainly some kind of blaze.

The picture is all too common: the priest who no longer believes, who goes through the motions, who does what he wants behind closed doors because he thinks that only appearances matter, but cynically thinks that the actual religion part is for the rubes--it's a stereotype, but stereotypes don't exist in a vacuum.

My biggest fear is that Barnhardt is correct.

There was a prophecy, some time ago, about the Papacy, about how many Popes there would be. The prophecy told us what the Popes would be named; and at its end, the church is no more. We are now perilously close to the end of that list; only a few remain on it.

They say that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world that he doesn't exist. I don't know how far that goes, but I worry that it's gone too far.
Friday, December 14th, 2018
5:15 pm
#6445: Well, that's simply brilliant.
Sure, put the casino in a "disadvantaged" area. On the lovely theory that people will gladly travel through five miles of "shit city", where all the crime and squalor is, to get to a shiny casino.


The problem with that is, of course, that it's bloody idiotic. Putting the nice shiny new casino in the middle of the ghetto will only ensure that the only people using it are people from that area--people who are not well-known for having scads of disposable income, but are known for having poor impulse control and a very short time preference.

Second City Cop says it best:
Why bother having it near the downtown or convention areas where tourists looking for dinner and a show might head over and spend a little money - Chicago can build it near an EPA Superfund site AND the second most homicide prone area of the city and reap the benefits!
The benefits will be dubious.

* * *

"Gentlemen, we must find something new to tax." California's leading the way, wanting to tax text messages.

It looks as if California wants to tax text messaging plans, so users would pay some tax atop their regular talk-and-text plan charges and existing taxes. It's not clear how much it would amount to. There's no estimate as to how much revenue the tax would be expected to generate. But there are about 30 million cell phone users in California, and a single dollar in taxes would mean $30 million.
The proposal argues that the state's Public Purpose Program budget has increased from $670 million in 2011 to $998 million in 2016, while revenues funding the program from the telecommunications industry saw a "steady decline" from $16.5 billion in 2011 to $11.3 billion in 2017.
...so because revenues for a program fell by $5.2 billion while the budget rose to nearly $1 billion, California wants to raise taxes on everyone.


Fortunately, however, the FCC nixed that dumbassery. Text messages aren't voice communication.

* * *

The NPCs are really up in arms over "Baby, It's Cold Outside". Because they quite simply can't stand anyone having fun in ways they don't approve.

I don't like that song--I don't think of it as a Christmas song, certainly--but it's harmless.

I love that William Shatner is at the point where he doesn't give a rat's ass about public approval, and fights this kind of nonsense.

* * *

"But this...this is grooming, straight-out." That's certainly what it sounds like to me.

"Grooming" is what a pedophile does to get a child interested in sex. Children aren't particularly interested in it on their own, but their curiosity can be piqued, and once the peophile has that hook, the rest is abhorrent. And when you have people going around and telling children all about sex, some of them will be curious about it, and then--well, there you go.

They will tell you it's not about recruitment, but as the article makes plain, this woman is all about recruitment.

* * *

Hit by a meteorite. It is not very common.

* * *

That scene is the climactic moment of the entire show, and without it, the story is utterly meaningless.

In the late 1980s they made another Charlie Brown Christmas special, and that one is terrible. It's an animated hodgepodge of comic strips, with no underlying story connecting them. That's what A Charlie Brown Christmas would have been like without Linus' monologue.

* * *

Weekly Standard is out of business.
Measured criticism of Candidate Trump was certainly permissible.

Indeed and truly, his presidency at the outset, looked like it was an impossibility. Pushing hard against a man who didn't look like he could take the party to victory was one thing.

Continuing to hysterically oppose him year after he won the election was something else entirely.
Can't say I'm sad, either. They deserved it.

Look: once we select a candidate, stop opposing him. You don't have to like him or support him; just stop getting in the way. That's a pretty simple formula to follow regardless of which side you're on; Democrats do this without thinking. When there's something shady or wrong with a Democrat, you notice that they get reeeeally quiet about that.

Of course they have absolutely zero problem with being hypocritical, since hypocrisy is a primary feature of being a Democrat, so they can scream and point at Republicans for X even though their own guys do X-plus, but what they never do is to denigrate, attack, or attempt to destroy people on their side. Even when they're found guilty.

Weekly Standard vehemently opposed Trump throughout the election cycle and even after he was President...and the right wing in this country was already sick to death of RINOs and country club Republicans and failure theater and-and-and. Which, not to put too fine a point on it, is why Trump won in the first place.

So it's really not surprising that a magazine which was vehemently anti-Trump would no longer be supported by a right wing which is enthusiastically pro-Trump. But, hey! At least Weekly Standards was true to their principles, right?

* * *

Global warming, brought to you by adjusting the data until it appears!

* * *

Gah! 250-odd password resets this week. I'm tired!
Thursday, December 13th, 2018
5:17 pm
#6444: This is pretty nifty, actually
It's still taking some getting used to, but yesterday I was home from work 1 minute after I clocked out, and that was marvelous. I'm having some trouble adjusting to the time difference; I'm too used to needing to be in bed by 10 now and I get nervous if I feel like I'm up too late--until I remember my start time etc. Then I can relax a bit.

* * *

Tried starting the Jeep today. It's doing what it did on our trip to Wisconsin: won't start, won't stay running, unless I've got my foot on the gas; and it won't idle. On the plus side, this means it's neither the coil bar nor the crank position sensor, but probably either a grounding issue (that I never did actually correct) or something with the idle air control solenoid and/or the throttle position sensor.

Either way, I'm glad it waited until I was "work from home" to do this. I can fix it approximately at my leisure.

* * *

Leftists are beginning to show their true colors. Of course leftists always want to quash any speech which dissents from their views. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot--those guys executed collectively over a hundred million people for being politically incorrect. If you think this douchebag is any different, just because he's American, I have some bad news for you.

* * *

And that's just about it for the Boy Scouts. Bankruptcy, because of "escalating legal costs related to lawsuits over how it handled allegations of sex abuse". Yeah.

Vox says, "It didn't take a rocket science to grasp that permitting gays to go camping with young boys was going to lead to sexual abuse...." There were reasons openly gay men were formerly not permitted to be scoutmasters, and one of them was that the incidence of pedophilia among homosexuals is greatly higher than it is among the general population.

But of course if you're a commonly accepted Victim Group (TM), statistics and facts pale in comparison to your group's HURTFEELZ.

Get woke, go broke. Allowing girls in did not help matters.

* * *

Guy shoves sword into stone, now it can't be removed, and he's a saint.

All the facts match up; the sword, its materials and construction, all date correctly. Dude stuck a sword into a stone in the 12th century. Cool.

* * *

Some people are not happy about the Amazon deal for siting one of their headquarters in NYC. Three billion dollars is a lot of money.

* * *

An exceptional story by John C. Wright. This is an excellent way to portray an angel.

* * *

Man, it's Thursday. Tomorrow I must be at the computer early, for training. I'm hoping we're coming to an end of the training for new clients, because I now support six, and tomorrow's will make seven. So far, #4 has turned out to be the big one, making 95% of my calls on Monday and Tuesday.

It is pretty confusing, and the confusion is not eased by the fact that the training for a client consists of showing you how to create a ticket in whatever system they use. Today I floundered around trying to figure out how to do a password reset on the client I was trained on yesterday. *sigh*

Tomorrow's training will mean three new clients this week. It's a bit much. But, glad to have a job, especially one that has a commute measured in feet rather than miles.

I've saved about $40 in gas this week so far. Not to mention tolls.
Wednesday, December 12th, 2018
6:34 pm
#6443: Blogging while at work!
Today's calls seem to be taking longer to resolve than normal. I don't know why that is.

* * *

The bathroom wall looks great with the primer on it. To my surprise, the long seam between sheets of drywall came out very, very nice indeed. The rough part is the inside corners; they're...rough. They need more work.

There are some voids and such that came from me being less than professional-grade at this, but overall the spackling I'll have to do looks fairly minimal, so I'm calling this one a "big win".

* * *

Couldn't agree more. With the commentary, not the linked article.
I gotta grumble a little here: this list is a bit heavy on the more modern stuff to suit me. Sorry, but I do NOT want to hear John Cougar Mellonhead groaning about working-class Christmas in Indiana. Nor am I interested in having Springsteen bellow at me about how Santa Claus is coming to New Jersey. When it comes to Christmas music, I want Mel Torme. I want Nat King Cole. I want Sinatra and Dino. I want Der Bingle. God help me, I want Andy Williams.

I sure don't want Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, or Peabo Bryson doing that warbling-wandering contemporary-R&B singer thing of meandering all over the scale in contempt of the actual damned melody, trying to "make it their own," along the lines of those gut-curdling sportsball Star Spangled Banner butcherings we're all way too familiar with by now. JUST SING THE DAMNED SONG ALREADY, DAMMIT. It ain't "your own," and it ain’t ever gonna be. Christmas music belongs to everyone, and if you can’t just leave a beloved traditional Christmas classic alone and sing it more or less straight, then write one of your own and sing it any damned way you like.
Exactly. Exactly.

It's why I don't listen to the local stations which play Christmas music at this time of year; they play something classic and decent and then the next five songs are R&B ululation-a-thons, one of the "craptastic four", or some modern thing that ain't Christmas music.

The "craptastic four" are, in no particular order, John Lennon's "So Now It's Christmas", Paul McCarthy's "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas", Mariah Carey's "All I Want for CHristmas is You", and WHAM!s "Last Christmas".

There are others, but those four I simply hate HATE HATE.

...and I don't want any of the songs on the list in the linked article, either. Give me the classics.

* * *

Why is Michael Bloomberg not being denounced as a hard-core racist? Disarming "minorities" was the entire reason for the formation of the KKK, for crying out loud. Barring blacks from owning guns was part and parcel of Jim Crow. Now Michael Bloomberg is saying he wants to take guns away from "minorities" because that way they'll be safer, which is some of the most bigoted, paternalistic garbage I've heard in a very long time.

* * *

$50,000? You lunatics are high! You are not American citizens and you're not even in America, so you can take your "list of demands", fold it until it's all corners, and shove it up your rectal orofice just as far as you can.

* * *

Another example of how lucky I am:

Today I decided I'd go out to get some bread before work started. Got into the Jeep, and it was cranking slowly. Put it on the charger and let it trickle-charge all day. (Used Mrs. Fungus' car to get the bread.)

Went out about 4:45pm and tried to start it, and it cranked faster but still wouldn't kick over. It simply will not start.

...and it started doing this after I moved to "work at home", not before.

I don't know what's wrong with it, and probably won't know before this weekend at the earliest, but that's okay because I don't need to drive to work.

Current suspect is, of course, the coil bar, because it had that "missing" problem; but we'll see. Just, I can't go anywhere until my wife comes home, I guess.

* * *

Just a little while to go, and then I can take off my work clothes and relax, with the knowledge that I have again put in a full day's work for a full day's wage, the way it ought to be.
Tuesday, December 11th, 2018
9:31 pm
#6442: How very interesting
So, working from home, day 2--

Day 1 was a hectic, triphammer day. There was always a queue, and the only break I got was when I went to the can--more infrequently than I do at the office--and lunch time. Then they wanted me to do some training afterwards, and that left me exhausted.

Day 2 was easier. I find that I took exactly four fewer calls today than yesterday, and yet I did not feel exhausted afterwards, but rather pretty decent. It was certainly nice to have my commute home consist of the following:
1) Get out of my chair
2) go to bedroom, take off work clothes, and put on PJs
I say "PJs" but in fact they're just my normal house clothes, a short-sleeve henley and sleep pants.

Today feels less oppressive and hectic than yesterday, but it's proving a bit difficult to establish a routine.

* * *

This seems entertaining. The problem with wrecking people for having once said something you don't like is that sooner or later people get wise to it and stop playing your game.

Would you want to host the Oscars if everything you ever said or did was going to be part of the interview, and if anything turned up that the SJW/NPC crowd doesn't like, you would be ruined both personally and professionally?

Somehow I doubt it.

* * *

And I just primed the bathroom wall, too. It's going to take plenty of spackling yet, but it's ready for that, and the final surface should look acceptably smooth.

So, I've got that going for me.
Sunday, December 9th, 2018
5:17 pm
#6441: Well, that's a result.
So, after covering every horizontal surface (and some vertical ones) in the bathroom with joint compound dust, I can say with authority that the wall is ready to be primed.

Once it's primed I will, of course, need to break out the spackle and fill approximately 30,000 voids and gaps with it. Only some were pre-existing. My drywall mudding skills are sub-professional, as long as you accentuate the "sub".

It will, however, look good when complete.

We selected a color called "Rochester Grey" for the bathroom. Ceiling will, of course, be Ultra White. I am still mulling the LED idea, placing a strip of RGB LEDs behind a wooden trim strip on the soffet over the shower. It would be very nice, but I have no idea how long it would survive. Probably not long.

Anyway, the loud-noises-and-dust part of my Sunday evening is complete. I'm making Ultimate Tuna Salad for dinner; that'll also provide a handy lunch tomorrow, because even though I'm at home I still only get half an hour to eat.

I'm looking forward to it, but I'm also a little scared of it. But as far as work challenges go this should not be in the "difficult" column.

So: bathroom is on schedule to be primed before Wednesday. Ideally I'd like to throw up a coat of primer tomorrow, but we'll see how we do. Note to self: buy roller covers....
3:12 pm
#6440: Oh, wow
Slept in like the biggest slug ever. But I don't have to be to work tomorrow until 2.5 hours after I had to be at work on Friday, and furthermore my commute will be measured in feet rather than miles.

All this means I won't have to get up early for work; this also means I don't need to go to bed before 10 PM as I have been. So sleeping in on my day off is perfectly fine.

* * *

Today's crop of "interesting":

OPEC is making some deep production cuts. However, Iran is not beholden to them, and the biggest non-US consumers of oil (such as China) will buy from them. The oil that gets bought from Iran takes the place of oil bought from elsewhere, thus reducing demand for it, thus keeping the price of oil lower than it otherwise would be.

Besides that, though, the US is the biggest producer of oil in the world, and the US is not part of OPEC.

A sensible energy policy would include encouraging our oil companies to modernize their refinement infrastructure and equip themselves for processing the kind of crude oil we produce. If we really wanted to, as the politicians say, "reduce our dependence on foreign oil", that would be the way to do it, and would be vastly more effective than all the biofuel initiatives in history. As it stands now, for the most part our refineries can't handle the kind of oil we're producing.

But US energy policy over the past thirty, forty years has been anything but sensible.

* * *

Fred on feminism. Feminism makes absolutely no sense whatsoever until you realize that the pro-female stuff is a thin veneer of purpose over a bloated sack of communism.

Fred begins by asking whatever became of lefism:
In my capacity of shade-tree anthropologist at large, I am trying to make sense of the far Left. It is tough sledding. Most of it makes as much sense as lug nuts on a birthday cake. Help me. I am really confused.

I can't see that the Left actually is Left, I mean. The Left in its more practical embodiments used to be the champion of the working man. It fought for unions, good pay, benefits and job security. Conditions were horrible in America's mines and factories. Things were ugly, and Leftists often got hurt or, occasionally, killed trying to remedy them.

Today's "Left" is the party of Bill and Hill, of George Soros and the half-educated narcissists of Hollywood rolling in dough, of excessively comfortable academics and the media, all of whom use ethnic minorities as voting fodder but want nothing to do with them. When do you think was the last time Hillary or Megyn Kelly was in a truck stop or Legion hall, or had dinner in a restaurant where most of the diners were black?

The Left is now hostile to working men, called "deplorables" in an unwise moment of honesty by Hillary. Can you imagine Saul Alinsky or Leon Trotsky worrying about transgender bathrooms or cultural appropriation? And it is a weirdly teenage Left in which most seem ten or fiftten years younger that their chronologic age. Oh good.
I understand Fred's confusion, because I know the basic error that he's making in his consideration of this.

The left was never about supporting the little guy. Fred bought the sales pitch, that leftism is all about saving the proletariat, but like a shifty used car salesman the left uses a sales pitch which is entirely propagandistic: half-truths and technicalities are the best you get, and most of the time it's pure falsehood.

The left did fight for unions and good pay and so forth for the workers. Of course they did; think about it--you need a lot of people on your side, to pay the bills. You unionize the workers wiht the promise of better pay etc, which gets them to vote for unionizing. Once unionized, you can make the capitalists pay the workers more (in benefits and so forth) and you take a tithe from each worker in the union. You, as the union boss, now have a pool of money to use to start buying politicians, and of course you pay yourself a nice salary for your troubles.

Of course you end up being the union boss. The workers believe in you once you've gotten them all that good stuff, so naturally they vote you in as the head of the union. The leftists that got hurt or killed? "Omelettes, eggs." Martyrs for a cause.

Look at who organized the protests and financed them. Their names had things in them like "Communist" or "Socialist", nearly all of them, one way or another. All were informed by Marx. All had as their goal--overt or not--smashing the "capitalist system".

The goal of leftism is not some nebulous good for the common man. The goal of leftism is control of the common man--perfect, total, unending control. The goal of leftists is to be the ones in charge of the common man, and to become extremly wealthy in the process.

It has always been thus. It will not change.

* * *

You have to ask how this was done. So some climatologists have analyzed the records of Greenland's ice melt, and have concluded that it's a hockey stick exactly like Mann's hockey stick, because Reasons.

The records prior to 1960 are entirely "reconstructed", though, meaning that they used some kind of proxy data. Understand, that's exactly what Mann did with his hockey stick; the level part of the graph was reconstructed from data cherry-picked to give the desired result.

This graph for Greenland's ice melt does not tally with anything but Mann's discredited graph. It does not tally with the satellite temperature data, nor does it tally with the raw temperature data we've seen from other sources. It doesn't match anything but a fraudulent piece of trash.

So, no, I don't believe it.

If there were observable and definite warming anywhere else--if the warming didn't require that the data be "normalized" before it showed up--then I might consider the possibility that the planet might be warming. But it doesn't; none of the other data shows that, at least not until it's been fiddlated and adjustered out of reality.

None of the other data shows that.

And all of this presumes that warmer temperatures are a problem, which is another thing that hasn't even been successfully argued let alone disproven. The only thing climatologists could do about the medieval warm period was to wish it away, to eradicate it from the data.

Whatever those guys are doing, it isn't science, not by a long shot.

* * *

Well, that bathroom wall is not going to sand itself, as much as I wish it would. *sigh*
Saturday, December 8th, 2018
7:44 pm
#6439: The Saturday that was versus the planned one
Original plan had been to do some errands during the day, then go to the town's annual Christmas parade. Well, we managed the errands, anyway.

Alarm was set for 9, which--for me--approximated "sleeping in", after the past several weeks at work. The alarm went off, and Mrs. Fungus shut it off rather than hit "snooze", for some reason...with the result that we got up two hours later than intended.

While she got ready to go, I went to the post office to get a couple of registered letters for which a sticky had been left in our mailbox. That turned out to be some bank business I had already attended to on the first, so the letters were redundant, having been mailed on the 30th. Fine. Got home, and then we hied ourselves to yonder emissions testing station to get Mrs. Fungus' car smogged. That done, we went out for lunch at one of our favorite places--so much so that the waiter knew what she wanted to drink when he came to get our order. Heh.

Stuffed ourselves, then went to Menards. We bought LED Christmas lights, paint for the bathroom, and some other needed sundries; then we came home.

...and collapsed.

Next thing I knew, clock was ringing 7 PM, which means we missed the parade--but she'd been making noises about not going to it, and we've seen it before, so I'm ambivalent about that. I think we needed the rest more than we needed to stand outside in 17° weather, to be honest.

Pending "to-do" list items for this weekend are to finish mudding the bathroom wall--needs one more coat--and then sanding it. I want primer on that wall before Wednesday, which is when a guy from the company that installed the bath surround comes out to re-caulk part of it. "Lifetime warranty" and the caulk is not supposed to get moldy, yet somehow it did in one spot, and we can't get it clean.

I am nearly done with the mud, but I need to sand, and so I got some dust masks when we were at the hardware store.

The joint between the two sheets I installed is fine as it is, nice and smooth and needing only to be sanded. The corner joints look awful but should clean up all right once I can sand them. The join between the moisture-resistant drywall and the stuff I installed, however, is going to be challenging. I think I can make it look decent, though. That's where I need to put on the last coat, in fact; I believe it's almost level but it's kind of spotty, having some voids and uneven places.

Do the best I can with it, prime it, and then spackle to get it totally level. That's my plan.

The other major item is, of course, "set up workstation" so I can be ready to field calls Monday morning. That's going to involve clearing off the desk, bringing out another monitor, and so forth. Shouldn't be too difficult.

I've got my work laptop at home, with mouse and headset. It has to be plugged into a wired connection, which is why I'm not setting up elsewhere in the house, but if I really need to, I can always run a cable and set up wherever I'd like. Once the spare bedroom is cleared out I have this fantasy about setting up a workstation in there; or perhaps in the basement. All it takes is running some CAT-5 and putting ends on it.

But that's later. Right now, I want to throw some mud on the wall, and then maybe play some WoW.
12:45 am
#6438: Well, that's some nice news
So, today I was told that instead of having to wait until January, I could start working from home Monday. And so come the 10th I will be starting my day some 4 hours later, and my commute will consist of walking into the computer room. So, yeah--not unhappy about this at all.

The client with the bewildering array of apps--turns out that 99% of the calls I get are for password resets, which end up being 3-4 minute calls. But they are also 99% of the calls I've been getting, and they keep me busy. I don't see how any of the other clients will get a call in edgewise around all the calls I get from these folks.

Not really a problem with that, either.

I won't be on second shift before January, but that's okay--this will do fine for now.

* * *

Anyway, it's past my bedtime.
Thursday, December 6th, 2018
7:31 pm
#6437: Well, that worked
Today I took a different way home. Went right down 355 to 80 and then took 80 east.

It took me 1h40m to get home.

Understand, I've been averaging between 1h50m and 2h to get home from work every day. I left work about 20 min later than usual, but got home a couple of hours after quitting time, which is about the same time I got home last night.

Just like that, an extra 20 minutes. Not bad. I'll have to leave at the usual time tomorrow and try it again, and see how it goes.

* * *

I realize what I'm saying here but seems to me that the astronauts aboard ISS ought to be able to go out and clean that stuff.

Get people experience in doing EVAs that aren't preplanned down to the nanosecond.

* * *

Busy today--mostly password resets. Plus side, those don't take much time, and that'll help hold down my average call time.

More tomorrow, of course, and going forward. Whee!
Wednesday, December 5th, 2018
9:10 pm
#6436: It won't always go perfectly
After 26 successful booster recoveries, #27 went awry. Looks like one of the grid fins jammed, and that made the booster spin uncontrollably; so instead of landing where it was supposed to, it landed in water.

The interesting thing is, it landed as if it were landing on a landing pad--so it basically settled onto the water, then fell over. This means it's likely that they'll recover it mostly intact, if not entirely so, and can determine what caused the failure.

Which, not to put too fine a point on it, makes it that much less likely to recur, because they can adjust the design to make this kind of failure less likely.

Even their failures are impressive.

* * *

Illinois is so boned it's not even remotely humorous. Not just the pension time bomb, but health benefits for retired state employees have gone underfunded for too long.

* * *

I'm in a pretty bad mood today. Today was a craptastic day.

As expected, I'm going to have to work on the holiday, but--also as expected--I'll be working from home. I am told that call volume on Christmas Day is vanishingly small. Christmas Eve is more like a typical day, I am told, but not as busy. Then on the 26th I'll be working from home, as well, which will be a regular day with regular call volume. So, the first three days of that week, no getting up at 5 AM--just work my regular (training) hours, and from the comfort of my desk here at home.

I'm going to need to make a space on my desk for the laptop and a spare monitor, but that shouldn't be too hard. Connecting via WiFi is verboten, so there has to be a cable connecting my laptop with the Internet. That means sitting in the computer room--but that's fine, because then I can also have my main machine going and--between calls--do as I please.

As a bonus the headset is wireless, so one of the first things I'll do will be to check the range on the thing. I'd bet money I could sit in the family room with it on one ear and watch TV with my wife, and then get up and go to the computer when (if) the phone rings.

Learning about the Christmas schedule wasn't why today was craptastic. That was a bright spot. Not only do I get to be home on Christmas, but I get paid for it, and can enjoy my holiday around calls; and when work is done there isn't a two-hour drive before I'm home! I've always loved Christmas Eve the most, and I don't mind working until usual quitting time on that day since I won't be making that drive.

And I can sleep a couple extra hours to boot. No, that's great news, and I'm happy.

No, this is all about the "state of the company" meeting that was held today.

Days ago--last week, I think, or Monday at the latest--I got a "schedule reminder" thing in Outlook telling me that there was a required company-wide meeting on Wednesday the 5th. I dutifully said I'd attend, and forgot all about it until 9 AM rolled around today and the reminder popped up on my screen.

I was taking calls--I had several in a row, bam bam bam--and as I was working on the last one my supervisor was kind of hovering around behind me, the way call center supervisors do when you're supposed to be somewhere but your call is running long. He disappeared after I made it obvious that I was wrapping things up; and once it was done I went into "training" (thinking it was a training session for the big new client starting tomorrow) and grabbed my laptop and headed for the conference room. One of the supervisors told me I didn't need it, though, so I put it back, then went into the conference room and sat down.

This was when I realized it was the "state of the company" meeting, not training--but the three guys who started this past Monday were in the meeting, and they're phone grunts like me, so I figured this was part of the induction process or something.

Problem is, I did not sleep well last night, and after the first half-hour I was fighting sleep. I'm in a conference room, in a comfortable chair, the lights are off, and people are droning about P&L this and BTIC and EIEIO, and I got googly-eyed. I actually dozed off a couple of times, for a few seconds. It was not for lack of trying to remain awake, but when you're that tired sleep will get you. And being in a meeting, I couldn't do what I do in the Jeep to stay awake when the googly-eyes hit me while driving home, which is to slap myself across the face or turn on loud music and sing along with it or open the window and let the cold air in.

So: after the meeting, my sup came over to my desk, wanting to check a couple things. Was I getting the "team chat" messages? Yes, I was. See, one of the team leads sent out a message on the chat app telling reps they didn't need to attend. Not in one of the regular channels, mind you, but as a "team chat" message. This message went out when I was in the middle of handling a call, so I didn't see it before the meeting. I didn't even know one had been sent. When I clicked on the "recent activity" thing, there was the announcement, which he explained to me.

Spiffy. The fact that he came over to me and verified that I'd seen the message meant that management was unhappy about me being in the meeting instead of on the phones. They were already unhappy about that, and then for me to doze off in the middle of the damned thing--

So I got taken to the little room so my supervisor could "discuss" it with me, of course, and that pretty much ruined my fucking day entirely.

The thing that really pisses me off about it is the complete lack of communication. The email invite went out days ago, and all that the management had to do was to send an email in its wake to the call center saying, "Hey, only team leads and managers need attend!" I would have been fine with that; I had no real desire to attend the meeting because I knew it would be boring crap, but the invite said "required". And the new guys were all in it! What would you think? I think you'd think what I thought.

You know, sending an actual email to everyone, days before the meeting--instead of a chat message in a nonstandard channel minutes before--that would have ensured that people got the message, you know? It's called communication!

That's what I'm angry about. I'm not angry about the talking-to; I did fall asleep. I'm just angry about being put in the situation because the higher-ups couldn't be fucked to send an email about it and make sure everyone knew what the scoop was.

The one saving grace is that I did actually get trained on the new client this afternoon. Supporting them requires a bewildering maze of applications and web sites, of course, and total training for this was an hour and a half of a team lead showing us (me and one other guy) the applications we'll be using. I can only hope it's not as complicated as it looks.


* * *

AMD's 3600G intrigues me. Eight cores plus twenty GPU cores, base clock speed of 3.2 GHz, and it's going to be $200.

In general I am still skeptical of CPUs that include graphics cores, but at the same time it's also true that the memory bus is a great deal faster than the PCI bus is, and putting the graphics chips on the same IC as the processor means very fast crossloading from CPU to GPU. Certainly this means that one could build a system without a dedicated video card which would nonetheless display video as well as one with a video card would.

Let's face it: such a system would not perform as well as one with a GtX-2070, but it would not be a slouch in the graphics department, either.

* * *

Off to kill some monsters in Azeroth for the fifteen minutes I have before bedtime.
Monday, December 3rd, 2018
8:23 pm
#6435: Finally, a workday I could enjoy
And on a Monday, no less.

Drive in was not too bad. Left a little later than I liked but got to work at about the usual time, so that was fine, and arrived feeling relaxed and ready for the day.

The day was...a day. Did what I had to do, was not overworked--had some epic slowness, but the day seemed to pass pretty quickly for all of that. The drive home, to my surprise, was equally as fast as the drive in, which simply does not happen. Ordinarily, the drive home is two hours, plus or minus perhaps eight to ten minutes.

This time, I left work at 15 after quitting time, and arrived home an hour and forty-five minutes later...with a stop at the store to get orange juice, bread, and my wife's pills.

Used up the last of the mud on the bathroom wall; I'll need to get another pail of it to finish the job, of course, but it's getting there. I'm aiming to have primer on the wall no later than Dec 11, if possible.

Just finished cooking a pot of chili, and that'll be dinner, and lunch tomorrow, and probably lunch on Wednesday as well.

So: 7:40 PM, everything that I needed to do today is done, and I'm on to what I want to do.

Oh! And I learned what my schedule will be like after I'm done with training. As I expected my training period will be over in January, and at that point I will transition to working from home...1:30-10PM, M-F.


...because I won't have to get up obscenely early to go to work, I'll have weekends off, and I'll be home when my wife is off; even if I can't spend a lot of time with her, at least I'll be in the same building as she is.

The only thing wrong with this schedule--the only thing--is that it is such a late one. I would have preferred maybe 11:30 to 8 PM. But that's okay! I mean, it's not like I have to commute or anything, and it gives me a couple hours after my wife gets home to spend with her before we go to bed.

I cannot complain.

* * *

So, I learned a little bit about what's going on in France, vis a vis the fuel tax.

So: it's a tax on diesel, which is something the government there promoted as being better for the environment than gasoline, because diesel engines are more efficient. People were urged by their government to make the switch to diesel cars. And now, atop every other thing they've done to automobile owners, they're raising taxes on fuel. France, being a socialist country, already taxes fuel out the wazoo; it's something like $6.25 per gallon for diesel fuel in France.

The new tax raises the price by TWENTY-FOUR PERCENT over a few years, to $7.73 a gallon. That assumes that the price of fuel does not go up for any other reason, of course.

Of course they're rioting. Holy shit.

* * *

Today SpaceX flew a booster for its third time and successfully recovered it. Win.

I watched it here.

* * *

Anyway, once I've eaten this bowl of chili, I'm going to have another gander at the console stereo. Mainly I want to try to identify what model it is, and what the TO-3 devices are that are mounted to the chassis. I'm thinking they're the main transistors for the power amplifier, but it'd be nice to be sure.

After that, I'll relax.


The stereo is a Teledyne Packard Bell RPC485CL. I actually found a picture of one someone is selling in Newport News, VA, for $150 in working condition.

That's the first time I've seen a picture of one anywhere but in the old photo albums.

...still trying to find a schematic. I may be out of luck on that one. Still, just looking at the thing, I'm pretty sure I've identified the rectifier diodes in the power supply, and the big TO-3 transistors that are bolted to the chassis are 2N301, good for 50w each. So, probably 50w per channel?

Anyway, that's what I can do for tonight. Have to wash dishes before bed.
Sunday, December 2nd, 2018
6:52 pm
#6434: So, a question....
Neil DeGrasse Tyson is accused of sexual harassment etc. I have to wonder: did he at the time of the confirmation hearings think that Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh should not be confirmed because "it's the seriousness of the charge"?

I'm going to withhold judgement, opinion, etc until and unless I get an answer to that question.

* * *

So my weekend ended up being a total bust. I didn't get anything done; I didn't even cook any dinner last night as Mrs. Fungus wasn't hungry when she got home from work.

That's not exactly true. Put some more mud up in the bathroom and got the joints taped. It now needs one more coat and it'll be ready to sand, prime, and paint. But that wasn't on my to-do list going into the weekend; now it's not-quite 6 PM on Sunday night and I need to get out of bed in eleven hours to go to work. *sigh*

Tonight's dinner is a pork tenderloin. 2 lbs, it cost a whopping $5. Au gratin potatoes, corn, and the last roll of crescent rolls we bought for Thanksgiving--ought to be quite a nice meal, and there ought to be plenty of leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Friday I went out to Wendy's for lunch, and because my lunch break is half an hour I ended up eating in the car on the way back. Much rather just get up from my desk and go to the breakroom than go out for it. Oh well.

Still, when I got home Friday evening I was totally wiped out; I think I needed to rest more than I needed to do any of that other stuff. And it was a pretty relaxing weekend all told.

But I do look forward to no longer having to make that drive. Once I'm "work from home" it will be easier.

* * *

Gah--news that oil futures have risen. Gas dropped to $2.33 here in the Fungal Vale, but now it'll go up. I should have filled up when I was out yesterday. *sigh*

That said, it won't be quite this bad. The article doesn't say how big the French government's tax increase on fuel is, but it's got to be pretty sizable to prompt several days' worth of rioting.

Well, of course the situation is more complex than that; it's actually a case of the straw that broke the camel's back.

* * *

It's not quite 7 now. We've eaten dinner. The tenderloin came out perfect: well-seasoned, tender, and juicy.

They'll be on sale until Tuesday night; I might just go back and buy one or two more and stick 'em in the freezer.

* * *

Probably going to be a bad commute tomorrow--they're saying "rain" tonight and "snow" tomorrow. Nothing listed for accumulation, though, and there aren't the high winds we had a week ago. Guess that'll have to do.
Saturday, December 1st, 2018
7:13 pm
#6433: Very good, but in order to find out, I'll have to clear it off and remove the chassis.
I should have snapped pics. Enough time for that later. Anyway:

...had a gander at the guts of the console stereo. As mentioned in a prior post, my theory is that at least one diode blew in the power supply, and all I should have to do to restore the thing to full function is to replace the blown diode(s) and all the electrolytic capacitors, and it should work beautifully.

"Should" being the operant word. There may be something else wrong with it; but in order to find out I need access to the appropriate circuits.

The thing is a bunch of boards, each subassembly constructed with 99.9% discrete components, which--believe me!--will make this easier rather than harder. With a modern component stereo, which is 90% ICs with a handful of SMD components for good measure, well--you don't use a soldering iron on one of those; you use a solder reflow oven. If, that is, you cannot simply replace the entire assembly.

I have a soldering iron; I don't have that other thing.

Anyway, the circuitry should be fairly simple to suss out, and that's good, because there is no circuit diagram provided. If I can find a model number I might be able to look one up on-line, but I wouldn't bet on it. Regardless, I know enough about amplifiers etc that I should be able to figure out what's not working, and replace it.

So: moved it away from the wall and looked at it. Power socket here, where the circuit breaker is also located. Wires go up to...oh. Well, it looks as if the power supply board is on the side that faces front, and the only way to get at it is to remove the entire chassis from the thing. And the chassis goes out through the top of the stereo, which is covered in boxes. *sigh*

Digging through it, though, I figured out a couple of little things. The turntable and 8-track are AC-powered--not a surprise for a stereo of this vintage--and they did build the chassis so you could take it out of the box without a lot of unsoldering.


Three-way speakers; the woofer is 15 inches. Suspension rotted on the left-hand one, and it's an easy bet that the right hand one isn't much better off. I made that determination in 1991.

But it's relatively easy to find places that re-suspend and re-cone speakers. Or I could just buy new ones. In 1991, I could have gone to Radio Shack and paid $30 apiece for reasonable quality 15" woofers, but Radio Shack is gone. Even if they weren't, inflation--so they're closer to $90 now, at least from the one place I really looked at.

Those speakers from Radio Shack were actually pretty good--I put them in the Blue Bomb for its stereo; as long as you didn't abuse them, they worked and sounded great. And they didn't cost an arm and a leg, either; I think I paid $30 for the pair I put in the car, and even with a 20w/channel booster, there was never any distortion or clipping from them. The 15" woofers they sold for $30 apiece would have been fine for this system.


...anyway, that's a way off. First thing is to clean off the top of the thing and get the chassis out; once it is, I can have a gander at the power supply board and see what needs attention. I can count up electrolytics and get a BOM put together for the repair, too.

After dinner.

* * *

Looking over some old Radio Shack catalogs on-line....

The speakers I put in the Blue Bomb were, in fact, $12 apiece at the time. 30w speakers, $11.95, plus tax. So, not even $30 for the pair, and sounded fine.

The 15" woofer was $60 in 1991; it was $40 in 1986. Looking at that now I remember that's what drove me just to go buy new speakers.

You see, for Christmas in 1990 I'd gotten a new stereo--just the amp, because it was a bit spendy. Anyway, I reasoned, I work and go to school so I should be able to get speakers, right? But in the meantime, I pulled the back off the old console and connected its speakers to my amp, and it worked well--until the left side started distorting, and I pulled it apart to find that the foam suspension had perished. I never even turned it up that loud; just bear in mind that by then the stereo had sat unused in that basement for most of a decade...and the basement had flooded a couple of times, so conditions down there had been "damp".

Anyway, the woofer died, and I assessed my options. 1) Buy new woofers from Radio Shack, $60 apiece, or 2) Go to Sears and buy a new set of speakers for about $75 apiece. That was an easy choice.

I wanted this lovely set of Fisher 3-way speakers which had massive woofers and looked really nice--and a friend's mother had a set and they sounded great--but Sears would not honor my Visa card. At the time they only took Discover and the Sears charge card. I had neither and couldn't get approved for Discover, so I went to Ward's, where I bought a set of speakers that were not my first choice, but at least they cost less because of Dad's employee discount.

I somehow managed to cram them into my 1977 Impala, got them home, hooked them up, and was happy. I still have those speakers and they still work fine.

* * *

That '77 Impala--it was a 2-door, blue, and it had some miles on it. My cousin's husband had bought it from my uncle, his father-in-law, and then sold it to me. I drove it on that commute to school and work for most of a year.

It had GM's fantastic Metric 200 transmission, which was--charitably--a piece of shit. It could not handle the torque of the car's 4.3 liter V-8, 1970s Emissions Version, which had the approximate power and torque of a wound-up rubber band. A few months after I bought it, $400 went to repair the transmission. Whee!

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