Saturday, March 31, 2012

Off to Australia

In a few hours we're heading for Australia to spend two weeks with Josh, Gwen, and Gwen's mum. Norfolk to Dallas to Sydney to Melbourne, arriving April 2 at 11:35am Melbourne time (which is 15 hours ahead of US Eastern time).

On April 17, we depart Melbourne at 9:35am Melbourne time, get to Los Angeles at 6:55am California time that same day (yes, "we get there before we leave"), through Charlotte to Norfolk, flight landing at at 9:20pm, probably getting back to the house at 10:30pm or so.

Friday, March 30, 2012


We were looking at Kiribati as a nice halfway point between Australia and the US. Buy a little property there and just chill. Except it turns out that Kiribati may be about to go underwater; their government is negotiating to move the entire population to Fiji, or perhaps Australia.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Home repair

As we're getting ready to make a trip, it is of course a wonderful opportunity for our house to spring little surprises on it. It's not enough that the west and north sides are torn open and being rebuilt; yesterday we discovered that there was water on the floor of the kitchen sink cabinet. A little investigation led to the discovery of a hole in the side of the garbage disposal. This in turn led to me laying on my back, wrapped around a couple of pieces of pipe, trying to wedge my arm into a better position to shove the new machine into place where all three tabs of the lock ring would fit. I seriously considered getting the auto jack to lift the thing into position.

Not the height of fun, but it's done and it works. Yay.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Slave Trade

On this day in 1807 the Slave Trade Act was passed, outlawing the trade in the British Empire.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cleaning the Fridge

We hadn't giving the fridge a good cleaning since before Josh left in October (no speculation on exactly how much before Josh left), and it was getting time to do that. Something glowing red had spilled down the back and collected in a little radioactive pool under the bottom drawer; clearly something had to be done.
So I got out the sponge and spatula and bleach, put the lettuce, eggs and bacon on the counter, and disassembled the inside of the fridge. When I got to the back of the bottom, I discovered the luminescent red stuff had coated a colony of pulsing yellow sludge, mixed with some black threads and a couple of things with tentacles. The evil glup had been feeding on a continuous trickle of forty watts from an empty light socket, which hadn't helped.
But with a white-hilted knife, and a cold chisel, and bergamot-scented napalm (note to self: use mint jelly flavor next time), and a 1872 copy of the secret Admiralty orders for ships on the South Pacific station, and a few other implements and chemicals, I managed to exorcise, purge, scrape, and cleanse the fridge, and reassemble the components. No major injuries, but I don't think I'll ever use that putty knife for eating again.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Droid 3

Got the new phone, got it plugged in, charged, and activated. Got the Kindle application on it, plus some other less important things.


'Tis Spring, and the clouds of pollen are seen across the land. I had to use the wipers on my windshield this morning to clear it off, and again at lunchtime. There's a haze on the water, and the bulwarks and pilings in the river are greenish yellow up to the high water mark.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Droid 3

My Motorola W755 has been getting unreliable--turning itself off when I close it, for instance--so I've ordered a Droid 3 which should be here tomorrow. Picked that one because it is one of the few Android phones available from Verizon which will also work in Australia.

There's an App for That

Related by one of the Canadian Gamer Mob:

Student: "You look pretty tired."
Kevin: "Yeah, I need to get more sleep."
Student: "There's a nap for that."

The Federalist Solution

Jonah Goldberg talks about how the solution isn't to push the Federal government Left or Right, but rather disempowering it in favor of localities:
Pushing government decisions down to the lowest democratic level possible — while protecting basic civil rights — guarantees that more people will have a say in how they live their lives. Not only does that mean more people will be happy, but the moral legitimacy of political decisions will be greater.
hat tip: Volokh Conspiracy

Monday, March 19, 2012


The house is wrapped in Tyvek, everything except the front door. Has Christo been here?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Garnet Wolseley

Field Marshal Sir Garnet Wolseley was "the very model of a modern major general"--the line in HMS Pinafore was a reference to him, and the phrase "all Sir Garnet" meant "everything in proper order". He was commissioned in 1852 and served in:
  • Second Burmese War
  • Crimean War
  • Indian Mutiny
  • Second Opium War
  • Red River Rebellion
  • Third Ashanti War
  • Zulu War
  • Egyptian War
  • Mahdist War
He was noted for careful preparation, followed by quick and successful campaigns.

Friday, March 16, 2012


“The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

F A Hayek

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pi Day

Happy Pi Day!

Also First Bikini Day, over a month earlier than last year. Of course, it was 77° and supposed to be 82° tomorrow.


Today I sold a deal in which I get credited for making more profit than the total amount of the sale. So, $3100 sale for $3300 profit.

Yes, that sounds odd to me too, but due to the vagaries of our accounting system, sometimes that's the way it works. And of course it's a coup for any salescreature...

Monday, March 12, 2012


The work crew started tearing the siding off my condo today. Yay!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

John Carter of Mars

I was very pleasantly surprised by this movie. It stuck reasonably close to A Princess of Mars (plus bits from some of the following books), and was done by people who took it seriously. And they managed to make it a complete movie, while still making it clear that there's more to come. Sab Than, the Zodanga jeddak, wasn't just a scoundrel, he was also fearless; Dejah Thoris wasn't just eye candy, standing around helplessly and waiting to be kidnapped, she could also fight and scheme (and in that sense reminded me of the princess in the Prince of Persia film).

Favorite secondary character: Kantos Kan, the Helium lieutenant who is "taken hostage". Generally a character in a movie is just a character in a movie, but Kantos Kan is someone I'd like to know.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Man from Snowy River

The back-of-the-box blurb said "Kirk Douglas stars in as an ambitious rancher who's trying to find a fortune in unmined gold in the Highlands, while a young cowboy steals his daughter's heart." Clearly someone read a synopsis and assumed that Kirk Douglas was the hero, instead of the young cowboy who was raised in the Highlands.
My moment of enlightenment was realizing "ah, that's why the horse in the The Last Continent was capable of trotting up and down vertical cliffsides with aplomb."

Friday, March 9, 2012

New Mexico

Mom and Dad have gone to the Mescalero Apache reservation in New Mexico for a couple of months; Dad will be working in the clinic there.
They flew into Texas and drove to New Mexico. They were stopped at the border--the Texas-New Mexico border--and the car inspected and Dad was asked if he was a citizen. Nice welcome. Then part of the Interstate was closed due to 70mph winds. And the next day there was a sandstorm, except instead of sand it was gypsum dust, blowing in from the direction of Roswell. And the day after that, several inches of snow.

Terry Pratchett and the Delusion of Expertise

The Delusion of Expertise:

Something I ran across on Eric S Raymond's blog, Armed and Dangerous, from when he met Terry Pratchett.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Got our visas today for our upcoming trip to Australia. It's done online and you get authorization back as soon as you fill out the form and pay your $20 per person. I was going to say "this shows they don't remember the first time I came", but it occurred to me that the visa only lets me in; it doesn't say anything about letting me back out....

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wargamers: GZG ECC XV

This is a short video from the Ground Zero Games East Coast Convention XV. I've attended about half of these conventions, and had a great time.

That line at the end, that "no sheep were harmed"? I had nothing to do with that.

Monday, March 5, 2012


There's really only one male fantasy... that the woman is into it.
--Athol Kay

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Suddenly, stars

Today was cold and grey, with a steady rain all day. We finally got a band of clear sky this evening before the next line of clouds came in. When I went out walking the mutt, at first all you could see overhead was Venus shining bright, with Jupiter beside her. And then five minutes later, as I was coming back, there was Orion surging over the housetops, and Taurus with the misty Pleiades, and more.

Happy Military Day!

March fourth!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Funds March 1

Values per share from Jan 3 and now. I'm putting this in because "paying attention to funds" is one of my goals for the year.
  • Akre Focus (AKREX): 13.45 > 14.59 = +8%
  • Artisan International: 20.33 > 22.75 = +12%
  • Cullen High Dividend Equity: 12.99 > 13.24 = +2%
  • American Funds Europac R5: 35.95 > 39.78 = +11%
  • UMB Scout International (UMBWX): 28.77 > 31.68 = +10%