May 4th, 2007

#390: More scribbles from the lead-lined room

I finished up Comic Party this morning. I would have liked it better if there had been just one more episode showing how things went at the 2nd "Comic Party" sale.

I'll be getting the box set soon, though.

O!MG! and YUA! had interesting moments in them--I'm at episode 10 in both series--and I'm starting to wonder, just a little, how long it'll be before Skuld comes to Earth. I never did like Skuld all that much.

I'm starting to wonder if Fujishima ever put a Fiero in YUA. (Or O!MG!, come to think of it.) His tastes seem to extend either to European exotics or Japanese econoboxes with extreme drivetrain upgrades, and the Fiero is neither. It could be interesting if someone told him about V8 Archie, though.

* * *

Today we finally got our lawnmower back from the shop.

The lawnmower is an older "Yard Machines" (Lawn Boy) push mower. I think it must be 4, 5 years old. After I moved out, Mom and Dad bought a self-propelled, electric start lawn mower--go figure. Anyway, the thing was stored outdoors and the battery froze several times, so it needed a new battery; and Dad was never a believer in "preventative maintenance" when it came to things like lawn mowers. I spent time last spring, and the prior one, fixing the thing so that it would run, but it clearly needed more than I could do.

I could have replaced the points if I could have gotten the damned flywheel off. It didn't mind my wheel puller, though. The carb was gunked up with years of dried shellac, and there were other problems. I fixed it as best I could, last year, but it still needed a lot of pull-starting to get it running.

Mom and I decided to take it in for a tune-up and servicing, and a new battery. It took a bit more than two weeks for them to get it done; but this morning we brought it home. I got it out of the car, turned the key, and putt putt putt vrooom.

Getting the old mower fixed was cheaper than getting a new one--self-propelled models start around $200-$250, depending on brand--and since Mom insists on mowing at least some of the lawn, electric start and self-propulsion are a must.

To say that our grass needed cutting is a bit of an understatement, especially the "east 40", the vacant lot we own to the east of our house. The grass there is particularly lush and is hard to cut even when it's not all that long. It took me five minutes to creep across the lot with that mower.

Anyway, Mom wouldn't let me do it all myself; she insisted on doing the "east 40"--and while she was taking a break one of our neighbors volunteered to come and cut the rest of it.


Mom and I have been bantering around the idea of getting a riding mower--but until I can make some kind of progress on the garage we won't have any room for one. A riding mower would make cutting the back yard a snap; it would probably cut the required time in half, if not more--and the front yard is small enough that the push mower is adequate for it.

I also keep thinking that we could get a small snow blade for the lawn tractor, to shovel the driveway in winter....

* * *

Speaking of motorized mayhem, the recent spate of "made in china" small engines has gotten me to thinking about go karts.

Harbor Freight sells a 5-horse engine for less than $190 these days. In all probability you can't get parts for the thing, but at that price, who cares? If it has half the lifespan of an old Briggs & Stratton small engine it'll run long after I lose interest in whatever I put it in. There is a sport called cycle karting in which grown men build go karts with 20" moped wheels, a 6-horsepower engine, two steel frame rails, and a lot of plywood--and then race them--and that sounds like a lot of fun.

Of course, before I do anything like that, I have about 50,000 other projects to complete. Maybe if there's reincarnation I can do that in my next life.

Still, I have had plenty of occasion to be amazed at the durability of small engines. The most incredible example was the go-kart a friend had brought over here. We beat the everloving piss out of that thing. I think I changed the rings twice--now I think it never actually needed them replaced--but never did anything else; the governor had been the first thing to be removed from the engine, so the accelerator was hooked directly to the throttle, letting the motor run at its maximum speed...and whenever we were using it, that was nearly all the time. Still, the motor never had a single problem and was still going strong when I got rid of it.

Older Briggs & Stratton motors were like that, though. They were tanks. They were not very efficient or clean, but they just ran and ran and ran. I think that's one reason my Dad never really took care of his lawn mowers. The first time my parents bought a lawn mower with a Tecumseh engine was also the first time we had a lawn mower throw a rod--and that was about the time that small engines began losing their "tank" status. (Besides, I don't think he ever checked the oil in the thing. I know he never changed it.)

There used to be quite a nice site on cycle karting, but it's been down for years, now. *sigh*

* * *

Among other things, I have found fansubs of the unintentionally short series Blue-Green Years--Mizuiro Jidai is the Japanese, and translations of that name vary. I favor the one given by the fansub group Techno-Girls, which is why I say Blue-Green Years (BGY).

I got the first 5 or 6 episodes on VHS, and then it stopped. Techno-Girls reported that the DVD re-relase of BGY was of such poor quality that they were not planning to sub it, even though they had previously expressed regret that they couldn't get any more of the episodes. (Their release was a sub of episodes that had been copied from someone else, who had taped the episodes as they were broadcast.)

The series follows a young girl as she enters junior high school. It's a "slife-of-life" series and it's pretty good stuff; I really wanted to see the rest of the episodes. It didn't do well in Japan, which is why it ended up being much less than 26 episodes; in fact the production company took what were going to be OVAs and turned them into TV episodes instead, because the series was just not popular at all.

It looks like there are a total of 10 episodes available, and I'm looking forward to watching them once BitTrickle is done downloading them.

* * *

Random thought which occurs to me whenever I happen to see a NASCAR race: if your surname is "Trickle", don't name your son "Richard"--and if you have to, for whatever reason, call him "Rich", not "Dick", because otherwise he'll be "Dick Trickle". I just wonder how many fights that guy had as a kid, in school.

* * *

I'm pretty sure that a lot of people who actually read this already also read Unix_Jedi but in case you don't, have a look at his latest entries, about voter registration in Florida, and a stupid female Canadian social work student being arrested for being stupid in an automobile, and then being stupid about it.

* * *

This is 2007, 17 years after 1990. 1990 was the last time the 17-year cicadas came out.

They first came out in 1973, when I was 5. It seemed like an eternity between 1973 and 1990. It did not seem like an eternity between 1990 and 2007.

Cicadas are disgusting. They're even worse when there's a billion of them in one tree. They're among the largest insects in North America and they are freakin' ugly critters.

They spend a lot of time pupate, underground, attached to tree roots. Once breeding season comes around, they dig their way out of the soil, crawl up something, moult, and enter breeding phase.

I moved a tarp the other day and saw something that resembled one, except that it was a bit too small. I have no idea what it was, but it was ugly enough to be a cicada. There were tunnels in the dirt where the tarp had lain, with the tarp as their roofs. This thing slowly crept out of the sunlight. It was pretty nauseating.

Why a cicada would have come up already is beyond me. We had some warm spells but we've also had bitter cold spells. I think the tarp may have something to do with it; the blue material absorbs sunlight and warms the ground underneath.

But Thursday morning, as I was mowing the grass on the north side of the house, I saw all sorts of mounds that looked like worm castings--except these worms would have had to be about 1/2" in diameter. It looked like cicadas had come out there--a lot of them--but there was no other evidence of them anywhere.

Why would they have come up there? That patch sees very little direct sunlight, so it can't be warmer there than elsewhere on the property. It has good drainage so they couldn't have come out to escape drowning in all the rain we've been having. I'm at a loss.

* * *

With the end of Comic Party my playlist is down to three titles: O!MG!, YUA!, and Binchou-tan. Soon it'll be two; and once Binchou-tan is done I'll statlooking at some other things.

O-tanoshiimi ni!

#391: Headlines

CNN calls Reagan "insane". But they changed it once people protested.

Amnesty International opposes amnesty for unwanted children. They want to keep this policy a secret "for now". (Too late. Ha ha.)

Trouble in Castro's "worker's paradise".

This article demonstrates why it's wise to adhere to Niven's Other Law: "Never throw shit at an armed man. Do not stand next to someone who is throwing shit at an armed man." Kent State happened in 1970; can we get over it now? (And I wonder what the Left will say if the voice analysis proves that the order to fire did not come from any of the Guardsmen?)

This pizza delivery guy is defending himself with a wonderful legal theory. He defended him twice from would-be robbers with an illegally-carried handgun. But although I agree with his defense on principle, I'm not sure where I fall on his violation of the law.

*SIGH* Can we please try to retain some basic facts about carbon dioxide? Doubling the heat contribution of man-made carbon dioxide in our atmosphere from where it is now would require elevating atmospheric carbon dioxide to fatal levels--something which we couldn't do even if we set the entire face of the planet on fire.

I think I missed this article, last year so here it is this year.
As of mid-2005, fewer than 50 deaths were attributed to radiation from the accident – that’s according to a report, entitled “Chernobyl’s Legacy: Health Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts,” produced by an international team of 100 scientists working under the auspices of the United Nations. Almost all of those 50 deaths were rescue workers who were highly exposed to radiation and died within months of the accident.

So far, there have been about 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer, mainly in children. But except for nine deaths, all of those with thyroid cancer have recovered, according to the report.

Hugo Chavez moves to nationalize banks of Venezuela. Big surprise there. "...It is better that they turn over the banks to me...." [emphasis mine] Another big surprise.

* * *

The entire issue of Kent State really annoys me. What do people think is going to happen if they start throwing things at people who have guns? What do they think the people with guns will do if they begin to feel as if their lives are in serious danger? What do they think the guns are for?

A bunch of stupid peaceniks protested Nixon's decision to attack Cambodia by throwing a riot. They thought that they were protected by some kind of magic shield and threw stuff at armed men who were there to keep the riot under control. The armed men ended up shooting back, and four people died.

Guess what? That is what happens when you take "civil disobedience" too far. That is what happens when you engage in violent protest, and I have no sympathy for them. (I do have sympathy for the people who were just trying to go to class and who were injured. Not for the ones who were skipping classes to "protest".) I'm sorry that they thought they could throw things at armed men with impunity, but if they were that goddamned stupid they did the human race a favor by getting killed before breeding. They deserve a "Darwin Award".

And ultimately, the responsibility for the injuries and deaths lies with the protestors, not the National Guard. They wouldn't have fired on a peaceful protest.

I'm getting utterly sick and tired of idiots who break the laws and then complain about being punished for it. I'm getting utterly sick and tired of morons who think that they can do whatever the hell they want without negative consequences.

And the fact that the asshats were protesting attacks on Communists just makes me sympathize even less with them. Cambodian Communism was so brutal even lovers of Lenin, Stalin, and Mao won't have anything to do with it. Communism in its various forms has killed ten times the number of people that Hitler's Germany did--the commonly bandied-about figure is 100,000,000 dead due to communism in the 20th century.

Four people taking part in a riot against attacks against a brutal regime on the other side of ther planet died becuase they were throwing stuff at people who were there to keep their riot from getting any farther out of control--and now I should feel sorry for them?

Screw that.