Saturday, November 28, 2009

Josh's weekend

Took Josh to buy a suit ("You work out, don't you?" asked the tailor. "I could tell. Your pecs are big enough to throw off the shape of the jacket.") and then across the street to Bob's gun shop, where Josh got his first session with a pistol. He took a Glock 9mm and did a commendable job of punching holes in paper. Today we went to a local art gallery; it came out in conversation that Josh is taking an Art degree, so we showed some photos of his work that he happened to have on his phone, and the gallery owner was quite complementary.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Josh came home from Tuesday night, so we had him and one of his friends (whereupon he and friend went to the friend's house for a second dinner), but no one else at the table this year. One brother is in Tennessee, one in Georgia, one sister with Mom and Dad in Africa, the other in North Carolina. Friends are a few miles away, or a couple of hours, or a thousand miles. It's less stressful not to have a herd of people here, but also less satisfying.
Turkey, heretical green bean casserole (made with cream of chicken rather than the orthodox cream of mushroom), scalloped potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, cider. Sherry cake and ice cream and candied pecans and a few more candied pecans and just hand me the bowl, please. Followed by plotting Josh's 21st birthday party and plans for the weekend.
The trees in the back have gone from green to yellow to mostly bare in the last two weeks.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Word count


Christmas presents

Someone asked me what I'd like for Christmas, and the answer is necessarily "I don't know." Why? Because if there was something that was reasonably priced that I particularly wanted, I'd have already gotten it myself. Therefore the choices are something I feel is too expensive, or something I don't want. Included in the "don't want" group is "things that I don't want only because I don't know about them"--but of course, I can't very well tell anyone what those things are!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sudden Threat

I attempted to read Sudden Threat by A.J. Tata, but I can't recommend it. This is supposed to be a military / espionage thriller by quote the new Tom Clancy unquote. According to the author's bio, Tata is a brigadier general with experience in the 101st and the 82nd and combat experience from hither to yon. He's got the credentials and I have no doubt that he knows what he's talking about, when he's talking about what an Army officer does. The problem is that his main character is a strong jawed CIA agent who's determined to carry out his mission, and ... that's it. He doesn't initiate his own unauthorized plans; he doesn't go against his orders; he isn't caught in a dilemma between "I want to do this but I really ought to do that" or "My job is important but I really want to be home " or "My mission is important but I have absolutely got to score a fix and keep anyone from finding out." Since there's no internal conflict, he comes across as cardboard rather than someone we could care about. I got about 75 pages and called it a day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Classical Values blog

Where were you when wood became a felony? It's amazing what our government does when no one's looking. I've said before: our elected officials are like three year olds. If you don't keep an eye on them every minute, they will get into trouble.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Writing challenge

Tom Barclay, Derek McQuay and I are doing our own version of National Novel Writing Month. Instead of cranking out 1700 words a day, to get a 50K word novel done in a month, we're aiming for 300 words a day over a couple of months.
No, I'm not posting the text here. I will, however, give a word count: 2869 today.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Andrew Napolitano

On the government's powers--what it's authorized to do vs what it actually does.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The poverty trap

Greg Mankiw, economics professor at Harvard, has a chart showing that earning more money doesn't mean that you actually have more money. The specifics depend on things like how many kids you have and whether Section 8 housing is interchangable with housing you'd choose otherwise and so forth, looks like making $19K per year plus benefits is better than earning $39k per year. Anything seem wrong with that?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tropical Storm and Open Back Door

We're having a tropical storm, or a nor'easter, or something. Lots of wind and continuous rain. When last I heard, there's supposed to be 4 inches of rain this morning, water levels possibly 6-8 feet higher than normal, power outages, and so on. However, we won't be flooded unless the river gets at least six feet higher than it already is (rather than "six feet higher than normal"). I don't see the water getting that high--as it gets higher, it'll flood lower lying places first, which means it'll cover more area, which means it'll need a lot more volume of water to raise the level from 6ft to 6ft 1inch than it did to raise it from normal to normal-plus-one inch. That'll be rough on some of our neighbors--one of the houses on the other side of the river looked like it might flood if the level rises another foot--but we should still stay dry.

Except for the fact that my wife's dog (called "Zoe" or "Mutt!", depending) has recently learned to open the sliding glass door onto the back deck. We leave the deck door open fairly often so we weren't sure about that till now; but I latched the door this morning before I left for work, and when my wife got home an hour later, the door was open and the mutt was eagerly pacing on the deck in the rain and wind.

edit Friday morning: water was about a foot higher at this morning's high tide. Looks like the guy across the river has his foundation wet, and CNN has a posting from someone kayaking through the streets in Portsmouth, but we're fine.

Friday, November 6, 2009


I went to Brunswick Georgia this past weekend to visit my grandparents. They're moving a bit slowly, look a bit frail, and his short term memory isn't always up to par, but generally they're in good shape. They both beat me at cards about five games out of seven, and I wasn't worried about him driving us through Old Towne Brunswick on Sunday afternoon. Mostly we just talked.

The downtown / historical part of Brunswick has a bookstore called Hattie's Books, and it was inevitable that I visit. I got A Terrible Love of War, A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World, and Ecology of a Cracker Childhood. Haven't read any of them, though; I read most of Dudley Pope's Life in Nelson's Navy on the trip.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Van Gogh

What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?
--Vinnie "The Ear" Van Gogh

Sunday, November 1, 2009


A classic film, in the sense that it follows the classic story structure. We see the protagonist in his normal world; something happens which forces him to go adventuring; he meets a mentor who can help him on his journey; and so forth and so on. It was a bit strange, because while you're intended to identify with the cautious nerd Columbus, what really makes the movie is the gung ho zombie killer Tallahassee. (The same thing happened in Pirates of the Caribbean. Can you remember the protagonist's name without looking it up? Probably not, but you do remember Captain Jack Sparrow). Woody Harrelson was clearly having fun in his role, and I've heard he's looking forward to a chance to do a sequel.
Maybe the lesson for us is that we should be less cautious and more gung ho. Rule 17: Be a hero.