November 24th, 2017

#5992: Very, very nice

Mrs. Fungus woke me up at 3 PM, and I got started on cooking. Dinner was a bit after 6. Turkey came out perfect and delicious. Mashed potatoes, stuffing, carrots, gravy--all delicious.

When I think about how Mom would get up at 7 AM on Thanksgiving and tend the bird for how many hours--basting and checking and fiddling with it--I feel kind of sorry for her. I took the turkey out of the brine, oiled it, put the aromatics in, and tossed it into the oven; 30 minutes at 500 then the rest of the time at 350, and I didn't need to do squat with it other than insert a meat thermometer. It looked like the cover of a cookbook.

I still find it amazing that I can actually cook a delicious turkey dinner like that.

Besides having dinner, we watched a couple movies--Despicable Me 3 and Valerian. The former was one I'd wanted to see in the theater, but didn't get around to--that's okay. The latter was one Mrs. Fungus really wanted to see in the theater, but now that she's seen it, she's glad we didn't. It has a bad pacing problem--zippy beginning, slow middle, decent end--but it was visually stunning and I rather enjoyed it. DM3 was hilarious.

Managed to get all the leftovers packed into the fridge without too much trouble.

* * *

Friday promises to be something like Wednesday, but hopefully not quite as hectic. Only a couple of phone calls to make and one or two errands to run.

...but on the busiest shopping day of the year. Thrillsville.

#5993: Too much curiosity

The problem with the Internet: it's easy to lose yourself in satisfying your curiosity.

So I started watching a video from a guy who goes to East Chicago and films the train movements around a steel mill. I wonderedif I could see it in Google Earth, so I fired it up and had a gander. Found it after only a few moments, and then realized that the place he's filming from is a stone's throw from the last place my parents docked their sailboat in the 1990s. Then I started looking at the local railroads, to see if there was anything interesting about them, and found myself looking at tracks downstate. Especially the CN line (which used to be ICG). Somewhere near Kankakee there's a wye which connects to a track that goes straight west, and that track has a couple of loops attached where there are grain elevators.

Finally ran out of curiosity and actually watched the video.

Then I saw something that reminded me of something: when I was a kid in the 1970s, I'd seen this toy on TV I really, really wanted: Matchbox-sized cars you charged up and then released, and an electric motor inside them would run them some distance.

Finally, after a birthday, I told my Mom that I wanted to use some birthday money to get a car and charger. She took me to the store (it was an Ace Hardware) to get it. Got home, opened the packages, eagerly went outside and sat on the patio, charging it up, and then off we go!

It went about five feet and stopped.

I remember that it didn't go very far because I thought, "Wait--is that all?" The commercials implied that the thing would go approximately three thousand miles on a charge, and I had expected the reality to be somewhat less--but a few feet? C'mon.

Got the car, plugged it in, charged it...and it wouldn't go. It wouldn't move under its own power. Nothing I did fixed it, and I was following the instructions. It was obvious that I'd gotten a defective one, so I went inside and told Mom what happened.

Mom was mad. (Not at me.) We went right back to Ace with the stuff. I was relieved; I'd get a new one that would work--but to my dismay, Mom simply returned it and didn't get a replacement.

One of those little tragedies everyone has in his childhood--but I couldn't remember the name of the product, until I happened to see a YouTube video about a Hot Wheels Sizzlers track--and then I remembered.

...so I spent I don't know how much time looking at various web sites about the damned cars, trying to remember which one I owned, however briefly. The pictures don't jog my memory, though. That's not really surprising considering that I had the thing for an hour at most. But my memory of that day is still pretty vivid, probably because the disappointment was so sharp.

Such a cool idea, especially to a kid aged--what, 7? 8? Pity it didn't work out better than that.

#5994: Could I get just ONE thing done in a single visit??

Actually, the asbestos counts as that, though of course the job was spread over two days and took three visits from the company to accomplish; but at least we didn't have to correct something and reschedule it.

Roto Rooter, too, now that I think about it. They came and fixed the pipe, one shot.

So, maybe do a little work on that "be grateful" thing, because although getting the pro work done on the house has been annoying, it has not been the nightmare I originally started to characterize it as being.

Still.

Duct cleaning guys came today, looked over the job, and said, "No, we need more room around the vents," and begged off doing the job. So I'm going to reschedule with them as soon as I can clear some of the crap out of the friggin' way.

And I have a ton of things to do today, same as Wednesday. Duct cleaning was the first of them, but that's not happening.

But first, a blog post.

* * *

Colin Kaepernick is a clown in search of a circus. You know, I meant for that to be disdainful and dismissive, but in a way it's actually the literal truth. Professional football is a "circus" in the classic sense, where people go to a stadium to watch athletes do their thing; Romans would have understood the foo-raw surrounding professional sports to a fairly high degree--the Coliseum was not built on a whim.

...he has time for all kinds of nonsense like that because he's an unemployed clown. Because of antics like the ones in the article.

When I look at that fool, I don't see a black man. He has the features of a white man; if he looks like any "person of color" it would be someone from the middle east rather than Africa. And so, sporting those cornrows, he looks like a wigger.

He's such a tool.

* * *

5 times bigger than the Mount Palomar telescope. For what seemed like a very long time, the 200-inch telescope at Mount Palomar was the top of the food chain for optical scopes. The Giant Magellan scope will be almost five times bigger--but using a total of seven mirrors.

Each of those mirrors, individually, is 330 inches across. The composite mirror, when assembled, will be 80 feet across. Compare that to the 17 feet of the Mount Palomar scope.

Well, it turns out that the 200-inch Hale Telescope was built in 1948, and wasn't surpassed until USSR built BTR-6 in 1975, which was 238 inches. That record stood for a couple of decades; since then, it seems as if there's been a flurry of new telescopes over 300 inches, all over the place.

Neato!

* * *

John C. Wright reposts his complaint about Glory Road, with an addendum which addresses my own plaint about the book:
One particular unrealistic aspect of the scene in GLORY ROAD is that Star the Sexy Space Babe did not warn or coach Oscar beforehand that he was expected to stud-service the whores and father bastards to be abandoned. Instead, the author makes it clear that having any reservations about performing the mating act with a female with whom one has no intent to mate is so wrongheaded as to need no comment: why OF COURSE Oscar should have known without being told that the rules of biology and romance and ethics were ass-backwards on this planet! It's utterly obvious!
That whole scene left a bad taste in my mouth. Heinlein made no bones about what he thought of sex laws ("Why would anyone rape a statue?") and frequently made plain that he subscribed to a much older definition of "consenting adult" than we do these days. Considering that at the time he was born, most state law put the age of consent at 14, it's not terribly surprising that he regarded the current standard of 18 to be ridiculous.

Heinlein danced around it, but the fact was that Oscar wasn't a pedo, and one of the girls offered to him was obviously, eh, "undeveloped." Though it has been decades since I last read the book, I seem to recall Oscar saying that he might have gone ahead, that first night, had it not been for the presence of the youngest one. (Or "ones".)

I still maintain that the whole episode was Star's fault. She failed to explain to Oscar what he was agreeing to, or even what the customs of the world were.

* * *

Trump's spokeswoman is awesome. Sarah Sanders--I saw her tearing the press a new one last week or so, and thought it was long overdue. Would that we had more like her on our side.

* * *

Last night, I was up far too late due to my own inability to curb my curiosity. Well--no, it wasn't that I couldn't stop so much as that I just lost track of time. It got late all of a sudden as I partook in the miracle of Googe Earth.

Let's face it: that program is a modern miracle. Twenty or thirty years ago, could you have imagined being able to look at satellite images of the Earth whenever you pleased? And to flip back through earlier images of the same terrain to see how it's changed?

On the wall at the Fungal Vale municipal building is a huge mural, an aerial photograph of the town taken in the 1960s or early 1970s. I'd love to get a picture of that mural, because it shows a Fungal Vale which no longer exists.

For one thing, the town once had two railroads passing through it, and at the south end there was a modest switching yard and service center. (One of my brother's friends owns a piece of that land, and in fact he ran a car repair business out of one of the service sheds--the last time I was there, the rails were still embedded in the concrete.) The railroad was torn up in 1981, sadly.

You know--it used to be that, on certain damp autumn nights when the conditions were right, a train going through on the Missouri-Pacific line would sound like it was still running on the...whatever line it was. I don't even remember what line it was, now, but on those nights I'd listen to the train horns and imagine that long-gone line still ran.

For a long time after the tracks were gone, you could still hear cars go batabata over the asphalt patches where the rails had been. The farmer who owned the land on either side of the tracks dug out the roadbed and made the fields contiguous, but north of that parcel the roadbed has been turned into a bike path. You can still follow the line; in fact you can still see where the yard used to be because of how the foliage grows.

That's interesting to me--you can see where railroad tracks used to be. That's what gets me peering at Goolag Earth for hours on end, following train tracks and looking for places that tracks used to be. Any time you see a graceful curve at the corner of a farm field, if there are tracks nearby you can bet there once was a track that lent that curve to the corner.

The other thing I like to do is look for abandoned rail bridges. I found a few last night, but they're all far too distant for me to visit on foot.

...and next thing I know, it's f-ing late and I need to be in bed. *sigh*

Anyway, so I finally crowbarred myself out of my chair and hit the shower, then went to bed...and proceeded to toss and turn for nearly 90 minutes. I did finally get to sleep, but woke up promptly at 8 when Mrs. Fungus' alarm went off, and have been awake since.

Well, I have a few things to take care of today. I'll take care of them, and then maybe take a nap. Eh?