Friday, September 23, 2011
Friday, September 16, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Friday, September 2, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
The interesting thing that crops up later is the application of faction and mob mentality to the governing body. The proposed solution is simple. The US is big enough that, in theory, there will be enough factions competing that none of them are rendered effective.
The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States. A religious sect may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the Confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it must secure the national councils against any danger from that source. A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project,** will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire State
The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice.Taxes are indeed by international standard fairly low. This does not change the fact that they are ridiculously high. Increasingly we see a government bleeding it's constituency dry and offering nothing substantive in return. Both parties are guilty.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
I give in to peer pressure.
The NPR's Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy novels with the ones I have read in bold:
1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert (I have read Dune, but none of the others)
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis
23 out of 100 - That's just plain embarrassing. I may have to use this as a required reading list now.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
"This doesn't happen with all arrests -- but, during the "laying on of hands" the talking part is over and done. There is no negotiation, making deals, or asking for co-operation once the talking has failed."
Monday, August 8, 2011
6-7 Large Green Poblano Peppers (technically you only need one per person, but this makes a lot of stuffing. They keep well)
1 Can Sweet Corn
1 Can Black Beans
1 Can Seasoned Tomatoes and Green Chiles
1 Can Salsa Verde
1 Large Onion
1/2 Sweet Potato
1 lb Taco Steak
Meat Seasonings (I recommend Penzey's Arizona Dream)
First, fine chop the onion and sweet potato and begin frying in a large (largest you have) pan. Once the onion is starting to carmelize, and the potato is starting to soften, add in the tomato, drained and rinsed black beans, and drained corn. turn to low heat and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally. In a separate pan, cook the taco meat with seasoning to taste. Add to pan with rest of stuffing, and stir together. Keep on heat until most tomato juice has been absorbed or evaporated.
This sounds more complicated than it is. The peppers must be roasted and peeled. Turn your oven broiler on, and place peppers on a cooking sheet as high as it will go in the oven. Keep turning the peppers. After a short time, the skins will start bubbling and cracking, separating from the flesh of the pepper. Turn them such that the skin is fairly uniformly removed. Remove from sheet and place in a paper bag to cool.
When cool, peel skins off (they will shred easily. it is not necessary to remove it all) and cut a slit into each pepper. Remove the ribs and seeds, and as much of the interior of the stem as possible. Rinse under cool water to remove lingering seeds. Place the peppers alternating directions in a glass baking pan. You will have extra stuffing, which makes a tasty side
Bring it all together:
First lay out a generous layer of your quesadilla cheese in the bottom of each pepper. Then spoon stuffing in, making sure to reach into the corners around the stem. When full, you should be able to close the slit to about 1-2" wide. Coat the entire pan in a thick layer of quesadilla cheese and place in the oven at 325 for about 15 minutes, just to warm the peppers and melt the cheese. Remove pan from oven, drizzle salsa verde over the whole ensemble, and sprinkle with cotija cheese. Serve and enjoy. Pairs well with fruit salads, guacamole and chips, horchata, prickly pear margaritas, and cornbread.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Reentry has been relatively gentle for me, but less so for the actually employed people. Exiting again is proving more problematic. I am decidedly not looking forward to packing my life into boxes to travel a thousand miles.
Shooting apples with a .38 is fun.
Shooting berries with a .22 is rewarding.
My freshwater tank can't come with me to Dallas, which is disappointing, but I am setting up a Marine picotope down there, which is exciting.
I made dinner tonight. Stuffed poblano peppers. Before any readers get the mistaken impression that this means I can cook, I know how to make this recipe, pasta, toast, bacon, and if i'm lucky a sandwich. I've noticed in the last two times i have made this recipe though, the peppers have been unusually hot. I am wondering whether they are sold riper later in the summer, with corresponding increase in heat. In any case, it's still pretty much my signature recipe.
I can't leave well enough alone and follow a recipe. I take after my dad in that, but the poblano stuffing I invented, and i seem to have accidentally reinvented Oaxacan horchata. While at the Mexican market today for ingredients, I found Prickly Pear Cactus fruit, and decided to try it out. After plucking a few dozen tiny needles from my fingers, i skinned them (with the help of the internet) and found the flesh to be sweet, fruity, yet still green tasting, and altogether quite pleasant, if loaded with seeds. Dad juiced the uneaten bits, and made prickly pear margaritas for the alcohol drinkers, and I added some of the juice to the horchata out of curiosity. I thought I had invented something fantastic until the internet told me that it is one of the more common serving styles for horchata.
I will post recipes for both horchata and peppers tomorrow, hopefully.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Toast is one of those weird things that can be bad, but never seems to have the other side of the bell curve. Yet, somehow, the toast at breakfast was far tastier than any other toast I have ever had, and a fair sight better than most french toasts. Despite the absolute jaw-dropping nature of the club, I still noticed the toast.
The club is, in the most literal, true sense of the word, awesome. I had, throughout the entire day, a feeling of awe. The club has between 24000 and 26000 acres, depending on who you ask, and those acres are the most beautiful, healthy forests i may have ever seen. For all that it is a hunting club, the deer and other wildlife are visible, healthy, and plentiful. I was impressed.
Once dad and I managed to pluck our jaws out of our shoes, we took a looong drive out to the thousand yard range. Dad and I started on the Mosins at 100 yards. My uncle decided that iron sight accuracy was simply insufficient, and so brought out his Sako .308 with Nightforce Scope and proceeded to show that it is indeed worth its $7500 price tag. Dad and I took turns with the rifle, ringing plates at 300, 400, 500, 700, and finally, 1000 yards. Both dad and I managed to put shots onto a 2'x2' plate at over half a mile, which I found satisfactory. And exhilarating.
After the shooting finished, I got a chance to see just how far these shots were. I had to go out and paint the plates out to the 700. (The thousand was inaccessible due to a marsh.) Walking out there, I couldn't avoid stepping in deer tracks. I also came across two sets of bear tracks and what looked like bobcat. Passing the 400 mark, the thousand target still seemed rather farther away than was reasonable. By the time I got to the 700, I couldn't understand a word my dad said as he was trying to talk to me.
Having policed the range and gotten everything back together, we drove around the property for a while before coming to the short range, which only goes out to 300 yards. (Only being a very relative thing.) My uncle fetched out his crossbow, which provided an entertaining few minutes, before Dad and I started running a few pistol drills. Turns out we both are relatively good at it.
Having a few minutes before lunch, we headed out on the lake, with the understanding that we would only have about 20 minutes of fishing. Despite the time strangulation, I managed to catch three decent bass. In a typically irritating moment, my first cast resulted in a beautiful birds nest (I'm still getting used to my baitcast,) which was complicated slightly by a bass on the end of the line. Both dad and I caught bass on the first cast. Back in the boathouse I caught a mess of panfish just dipping my lure in the water, as well as a nice rock bass.
Lunch was quite tasty, though I was impatient to get back on the lake.
Heading back out, I caught another four bass, including a 16-17 inch smallmouth. Dad caught the biggest fish of the day, an almost 18 inch largemouth. At the end of the day, we had 4 15"+ fish in the live well for my uncle's upcoming game dinner. We only fished for a grand total of about an hour and a half.
It was actually very useful for me to be able to catch fish like that. I rarely get the chance to fish on good lakes, so I have never been sure what lures, presentations, and styles are most effective. I got the chance there to experiment with different retrieves and lures, and really nail down a better technique. Case in point, this morning (now two days after I started writing this post) I managed to get a fairly vigorous strike on Burt Lake where I am staying, which is highly unusual, as it has been fished too heavily. I also managed to catch two monsters, being probably the two largest crawdads I have ever seen.
I need to find more places I can fish like that. I need to find a good range. I need a nice, accurate rifle.
While I'm at it, can I have a unicorn too?
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Monday, July 4, 2011
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
"For the layperson, this correction is a non-issue and certainly not newsworthy… [The] effect is tiny -- only 1 inch over 100 years, whereas we expect sea level to rise 2-4 feet."
The first thing that comes to mind with this statement is an incongruity. Here they are attempting to compensate in fractional millimeters, which they can say with certainty will result in an increase of about one inch over a century, yet they can't give a more specific prediction than 2-4 feet? That seems like a figure derived from very un-scientific methods.
That then leads me to my second complaint. He uses the word 'expect.' He is supposed to be a scientist, and from what I've been able to find on their website, the group is involved solely in collecting data, not making projections. Where then is he getting his expectations? It does not seem to be from the center's own work. He has preconceived notions of what is going to happen. I find that rather antithetical to good scientific thinking. Sure, everyone has things they are expecting to happen in an experiment, but that should not cloud your judgement and should not be used in support of your data.
A slap on the wrist to Steve Merem. Be a scientist please, not a shill.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Monday, May 2, 2011
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
My dad sent me a rather interesting little thing today.
Biting the bullet - cutting expenses. I HOPE YOU WILL PARTICIPATE AND DO YOUR PART.
The President ordered the cabinet to cut $100 million from the $3.5 trillion federal budget.
I'm so impressed by this sacrifice that I have decided to do the same thing with my personal budget. I spend about $2000 a month on groceries, household expenses, medicine, utilities, etc, but it's time to get out the budget cutting axe, go through my expenses, and cut back.
I'm going to cut my spending at exactly the same ratio, 1/35,000 of my total budget. After doing the math, it looks like instead of spending $2000 a month; I'm going to have to cut that number by six cents. Yes, I'm going to have to get by with $1999.94, but that's what sacrifice is all about. I'll just have to do without some things, that are, frankly, luxuries.
(Did the president actually think no one would do the math?)
John Q. Taxpayer
On the one hand, we're spending less, which is always good to see. On the other... 1/35,000? Completely insignificant. 2.8x10^-3% is not the sort of cut to be really celebrating.
Far too often, I hear the argument that I couldn't balance the budget if I were in charge, by merit of the sheer difficulty of the problems faced. People have tried to tell me that I can complain all I want about the government spending, but would I really cut social security benefits? Would I really cut education spending? Well, yes, actually.
The New York Times put together the "Budget Puzzle: You Fix the Budget" back in November. It's language and setup seems to be arguing that it simply can't be done well without at least some tax increases. Somehow, I managed to overcome the shortfalls without one single new tax. My method for this was simple. I had my copy of the Constitution open on the desk. For each point, I attempted to find justification in the Constitution. If I could not find it, I cut as much as possible from it. If I could find justification, I looked at effectiveness, cost-benefit relationship, and strength of justification. Only if all three were strong did I keep it. Lo and behold, by the time I reached the taxes section, I had overcome the shortcomings.
I have one complaint about this app beyond the biased language at places. It didn't allow me to cut enough. It allowed me to raise eligible ages for Medicare and Social Security, when I would prefer to remove them both entirely. It offered reduction of the Federal Workforce by 10%. I can't say for certain, but I get the feeling that justified cuts are more along the order of 70%.
Making this government effective again is really pretty simple. 223 years ago, some of the smartest men of the time sat down together for a convention, and figured out how to do all this. Additionally, by their actions, they rendered anything else illegal. This confuses me then. We figured this out already. Why are we still having these kinds of problems?
I don't care about "wouldn't it be nice if..." I don't care about "We just have to do...." I care about what will work, and what is allowed and mandated by the Constitution. We as a nation failed when we tried to ignore the constitution. It was the only thing standing between us and total collapse. We chose this. If we don't see dramatic reform in the next few years, returning us to the Constitution, we will fail. What then are the odds of those changes happening?
I despair for the future of this country. I really do.
Apologies for the unusual style, blogger seems to be petulant today.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
The funny thing about it is that it simply didn't feel that cold today. As such, I spent a good portion of the day outside. I don't really have anything to say here, but it's blog-a-day, even when I miss one here and there.
OH one thing I do have to say, welcome to the readers from MArooned, where JayG was so kind as to add me to his blogroll. Come on in, pull up a chair and stay a while.
Friday, February 11, 2011
One of my more unusual purchases was a Pygmy Pufferfish. This little fish is the most fascinating hunter I have ever seen, which is odd when one considers that he is less than an inch long. Considering he is a molluskivore, I stocked his tank with snails and let them run for a couple weeks. He has already dramatically thinned the population.
As I write this, I am watching him try to work his way into a particularly obstinate ramshorn. This snail is quite literally the size of his head, and not inclined towards being eaten. It is honestly as fierce a battle as a snail can be engaged in, at least until he gives up and wanders away in search of easier prey. (I actually rather appreciate this, as that snail is one of three breeding size)
I will see if I can get a video of his hunting style at some point. It's really quite fascinating.
The shrimp are most interesting after the light goes out. All three are slowly working their way across the back wall of the tank carefully picking off bits of algae that a scrubber didn't touch. They also seem to be able to stick to anything, in this case, sheet glass.
The danios have an interesting temperament change with the lights out. During the lights on, they all scatter about the tank, generally having a good time and not schooling even remotely. Lights out, and they are all arranged around the biggest one, moving in perfect unison around the tank.
The ram is just fun. Little skittish for the moment, but quickly realizing she's the biggest thing in the tank, and enjoying the associated immunities.
The cories are all three determinedly trying to get underneath one of the fake plants. I must only assume there's some tasty morsel down there. It is odd behavior for cats, and I will be curious to see how it ends.
It's 5 minutes to midnight, but I blogged today. Acclimating fish kinda sucks. Especially with 14 fish across four tanks in two different buildings. Geh. I don't wanna do that again. This week at least.
I need a bigger tank.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
The difference in service between a dissatisfied customer and a satisfied one can be very small. One email in the right place, or one hold that didn't last very long, can turn an experience around. The service with the first company wasn't bad. It was lacking in a couple small areas, like having everyone on staff able to answer some basic questions, and not requiring lengthy holds between tries at finding someone who could help.
This new company didn't have those troubles. The customer testimonials both on their site and elsewhere speak not only of very healthy fish, but of good customer service. It is such a little thing, but can really turn a company around. I am sure that the product from both these companies is essentially equivalent. The new company ended up being somewhat more expensive. Yet, in future, I'm going to go to this new company first, because that extra money is worth not having to go through that customer service experience again.
In the assorted jobs I have held, three have been customer service. I have been a gem salesman, a receptionist, and I have cleared snowy sidewalks. In each, making sure the customer is happy and satisfied tends to be difficult. There are so many little factors at play. It's a very difficult job. As such, I really appreciate it when a company has good customer service. It's not an easy thing to do, and the effort is appreciated.
In other news, Laser Tag was much fun, though I tend to try to aim with guns without sights across a big room. Note to self, when there is no punishment for spraying lasers everywhere there might be an enemy, just do it.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
I honestly appreciate that the company's marine biologists delayed the order. I would have hated to open up a package of fishcicles. The problem comes from the fact that they didn't bother to tell me they had delayed my order. I made extensive arrangements to receive fish today, and wasted no small bit of time making said arrangements. This wasted the time of a few other people as well, as a friend had offered to help with getting the fish settled, the receiving department was expecting them, and started making inquiries when they didn't turn up, and the science office, who were supposed to receive the package, did much the same.
This is a forgivable lapse. The company is high output, and keeping track of that many notices can be difficult, especially as this was the second weather delay. The real problem is that when I called up to reschedule delivery (because of classes, receiving can be rather difficult for me) the livestock representative mentioned that a few of my fish were actually out of stock, and would probably be so for some time. If it was a single danio, or cory, or other fish I could get anywhere, i wouldn't have minded terribly, and removed them from the order. Even if one of the more specialty fish wasn't in, I would probably have the order go through anyway.
As is, all three specialty fish on the order, being the bolivian ram, bristlenose pleco, and dwarf puffer, were out of stock. Everything else on the order was essentially a case of "eh, I'm already paying shipping, I might as well get these while I'm at it." That's all that was left of the order. I canceled the order.
I don't quite understand how this makes sense. Every fish I ordered was listed as in stock when I put the order in. At the moment I submitted the order, I had purchased fish. Yet, the company is telling me that they do not have the fish that I bought. To me, this is either a case of them selling me a fish they did not have, or selling someone else my fish, which is another case of them selling a fish they did not have.
Everything I have heard about this company's fish is excellent. They seem to treat their livestock very well, and ship carefully. Their prices are fantastic. My problem is in the way they are running their business. I will probably not order from them again.
This may be an irrational response, as the recent ill weather has probably put them at a disadvantage, and hurt some of their organization. However, on a visceral level, I am dissatisfied with their service. It may come to be in future that comparatively, their service is acceptable, (there are very few online live fish distributors I have found) but until that time, I will not order again. I placed an order at a rival company, at a 40% cost increase, by merit of bad customer service. That's not a good result by either my or their standards. It is merely better than waiting weeks for fish to come available.
In other news, I am going Laser Tagging with my wing tonight. Should be a fun time.
P.S. I specifically have not included the name of this company. I don't want my dissatisfaction to reflect on the company as a whole. This is just reflections on a bad customer service experience.