Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Brown Dwarf planet

Astronomers have announced the discovery, through gravity lensing, of a planet in orbit around a brown dwarf about 6000 light years away. The planet is about twice the mass of Jupiter; the dwarf is about twenty Jovian mass.

Monday, July 29, 2013


We put grout on the backsplash tonight. The "grouting" stage is where you find that half the tile wasn't really straight, and the other half wasn't really attached to the wall.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Celebrity Visit Round 2

Jon Davis had another free afternoon between bouts of bringing a nuclear reactor online (for sub West Virginia), so we taught him Close Action, with Josh taking a couple of D quality French 74s while Jon and I each took a B quality British 64 and wandered around the map.  Jon's ship quickly suffered a Wheel Shot Away critical but he still managed to hold his own quite well. He encouraged me to run a Close Action event at the next East Coast Con.
Afterwards was Carcassonne, in which Jon took the lead early and just kept increasing it. Josh and I need to get the hang of completing cities.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Doobie Brothers

The Doobie Brothers will be in Virginia Beach on October 11; we got tickets for them today. This will be my first concert in 30 years or so. Should be interesting.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Celebrity visit

Jon Davis, renowned among GZG circles, is also a nuclear engineer, and came to Norfolk Naval Shipyard to get a submarine's reactor up and running. He was able to stop in and visit us tonight, and we were able to initiate our copy of Carcassonne. I came in last by a convincing margin...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Home work

Finished putting the aquamarine and bronze tile up on the kitchen backsplash. Next step will be grouting but that can wait a bit, and in the meantime, it looks better than I'd expected. Also painted the kitchen trim, installed the shade in the office, cleaned this, scrubbed that, fixed the other, and generally scrambled around getting things ready for Gwen to arrive at the house tomorrow.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Huzzah! Gwen arrived safely in DC, where Josh (and roses) met her.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


The City of Detroit filed for bankruptcy today--not the first municipal bankruptcy lately, but the largest one.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tiling the Backsplash

Over the past few days I've been chipping the eggshell and brown tiles off the kitchen walls. We've received three boxes of aquamarine-and-bronze glass mosaic tile, and we've gotten mastic and a special order of grout and a trowel with 3/16" vee notches. Diana painted the wall white, so the brown and grey drywall doesn't show through anywhere, and then I sanded it to rough it up a little so the mastic would grab better.

So, all preparations being complete, tonight I started putting up the sheets of tiles. Drag the stove out of the way. Lift off the counter tops. Get out a level and draw vertical lines and horizontal lines for guides. Spread white goo over the wall, making neat lines with the trowel because the tiles are transparent and I don't know if you'll be able see the ridges and furrows in the mastic after I squish the tiles on. The first three sheets go on reasonably well, and I can slide them across the mastic well enough to get them lined up evenly with each other. Number four is a problem, as I have to cut out some tiles to fit over an electrical socket, and when I try to slide the sheet to adjust the position, individual tiles start coming off. It's intensely frustraing, but I eventually get the sheet more or less into place. Then to finish off that size I need a third of a sheet; fortunately these sheets are fifteen tiles across, so it's easy to cut. I stick that on the wall, press everything down, put the stove and countertop  back into place, and call it "done" for the night. It only took about two hours although it was more laborious than I expected.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Gwen likes Carcassonne, so we got a copy in preparation for her coming to the US. Oddly, I've played it with Canadians and Australians, but never with a group which is primarily Americans.

As it happens, we also received a copy of Trireme. When it arrived in the mail, the conversation went thus:

"Son, I got you something."
"It's A BOX!"
"And you know what's inside it?"
"Wait, there's something INSIDE it?"
"Yes -- another box!"

Later, Josh posted: "Got a copy of Trireme in the mail today...SOON THE WORLD WILL BE SHATTERED BENEATH THE CORVII OF ROME!...I mean, uh, "thanks Dad".

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Murat's Charge

Among the other stuff happening today, Josh and I got an interesting game of Command and Colors Napoleonic in today, using the Murat's Charge scenario. It was notable because, as Josh observed, I played the Russians as if they were French, and he played the French as if they were Russians.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

More books

Picked up Neal Stephenson's Reamde, which reminds me rather more of Snow Crash and particularly Cryptonomicon than of Anathem or the Baroque Cycle, which is good.

Also got Orson Scott Card's Empire, just to support him.

Monday, July 8, 2013


Argentina has announced that they will be jailing hoarders, as bread prices skyrocket. They need 6 million tons of wheat, they produced nearly 10 million, and yet they still have a shortage.

Note also that the real inflation rate is more than twice the officially admitted rate--although saying the true inflation rate can also get you jailed.

Fortunately, That Could Never Happen Here.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Battle of Sybota

Ryan hosted a game of Trireme, playing the Battle of Sybota. It was disappointing not to have Josh there, but he understandably didn't want to give up a day's work; and we did get eight guys and a fun battle. AAR at the link.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day

Spent much of the morning and early afternoon chipping tile off the backsplash, preparatory to putting new tile on--hopefully before Gwen arrives from Australia ! Diana and I took both kayaks out for an hour in the afternoon, then the three of us went to the beach for fireworks. Josh and I finished the day with a game of Command & Colors: Napoleonics, with his French defeating my Russians in a hard-fought battle of Eylau.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tonto and What's-His-Name

We went to the Beach Movie Bistro for opening night of The Lone Ranger, starring Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the masked man. I had high hopes, but it was weak. Too violent to be fun--one of the bad guys cuts out someone's heart, with lots of blood--but later on it's almost cartoonish, with the Spirit Horse casually standing on a roof, the madame with the ivory leg, and infinite-six-shooters. Tonto is eccentric-to-crazy, which is fine--eccentric people are more memorable than normal people--but he outshines the supposed main character.
The Ranger starts off bland and clueless, and never really gets a clue. When he tracks down a villain, he insists on "bringing them back to justice", but when he finds out that   the local political boss is in cahoots with the villain and no justice will be done, he doesn't really even think through the situation, much less come to any decision on what to do about it. He doesn't want to carry a gun. When he's persuaded to carry one anyway, he then doesn't want to shoot anyone; but when his first shot ricochets and kills two bad guys, he doesn't have any misgivings about it, nor does he rationalize why violence is sometimes necessary.  Overall, a wimpy character. There was no chemistry with the Love Interest.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Someone at work has a musical symbol tattoo'd on the back of her leg. It's a treble calf.