Sunday, January 29, 2017


Scrambled all my plans and spent all morning dealing with a 3x1 dichtring and a 0.52 d├╝senscheibe.

(Partial explanation)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tuesday Tool Primitive Pete edition

Today's tool is probably either the first, or the second, tool an anthropoid ever used.  It's a stick.

I guess it's four years now that we've been heating our house with wood.  Got our nice, efficient fireplace insert, got cords and cords of wood from the trees that were crowding the house, and we had piles of kindling from the remodeling and upgrading that we've done--lots of lath and pulled-up floorboards and subflooring.  What we did not have was a fireplace set: a nice poker, an ash shovel, maybe some tongs.  But, you make do with what's at hand, and what was at hand was a one-foot-long section of rough-cut subflooring that had been busted up to make a piece of kindling.  And, because it did, we kept making do--it got more and more charred (or perhaps fire-hardened), the "handle" end became more and more polished, and at one point last year a chunk split off of it.  Still worked, though.

Well, we finally got ourselves a fireplace set.  It's nice, and it actually works significantly better than the stick.  But I haven't had the heart to burn it yet.  It's just sitting by the fireplace, behind the "real" set, and occasionally, when I'm building the fire, I grab it instead of the iron poker, without thinking.  Some primitive, atavistic streak, I guess, "Mmmggggg, Thag poke fire with stick!"

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Friday Fauna Pussy Hat edition

Wedge expresses his solidarity with the hundreds of thousands [edit--millions] of humans who marched all across this country and around the world in protest against pussy grabbing and more.

The news lately has got me down, way down.  I live in an area where many of my neighbors--good people, really good people, as long as you are not too different from them--are giddy about Trump's election.  I am not yet well-enough established in this community that I feel safe outing myself as a person who holds liberal views, but I think I am going to have to find the courage* to do so.

Meantime, I salute the people who marched today, Anne and Angie and Susan and Val and all the others, and so does Wedge.  Their actions give me a glimmer of hope in a dark time.  And now Wedge would like to be fed.

*Yes, I know; I wrote about courage in political expression earlier, and I didn't think too highly of the valor of those who espoused a popular view in front of a supportive, powerful audience.  The folks who marched today had a better quality of courage.  Their cause is popular and they had plenty of internal support, but it is still not accepted by the majority or the powers that be, nor is it truly ingrained in the culture, as evidenced by their need to state the case, again and again and again.  A still stronger degree of courage, which I have heretofore been lacking, is needed here in Douglas County, where 2/3 of my neighbors enthusiastically voted for a racist, sexist, xenophobic charlatan.)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Monday Musical Offering Alla Breve

Not so much about music as the uses thereof; when I started milking the goats, a couple of years ago now, I thought it would be nice to have some music playing.  I started an album, and by the time I had dealt with an inefficient barn set up, a bunch of naive and recalcitrant first-fresheners (and my own inexperience with milking), a not-very-ergonomic milking set-up, and a kludgy cleaning system, I had played two full CD's worth of music and started on a third.  Today, I started a CD, fed all the animals in the barn, milked a dozen goats, cleaned the milking equipment and swept the barn, hanging up the last thing to dry as the last track ended.

So, progress is possible.  I will have to remember this in a couple of months, when I have over 24 goats to milk, and about half of them will be first fresheners.

CD was Bach, transcriptions for piano by Russian composers, played by Hamish Milne.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday Flora small world edition.

To see a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour...

(Blake, of course.)

Hmmm, that didn't work.  Need to figure out how to get pix up here from the eye pad...the blogger interface is ultra-kludgy.

Why I am not feeling optimistic, in two quotes.

Kurt Vonnegut

“And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.”

― Kurt VonnegutA Man Without a Country

TOP STORYDouglas County libraries slated to close April 1 Ten branches with the Douglas County Library system will close on April 1 this year.

The branch closures are part of an overall plan to ramp down library services by the end of the fiscal year in June.
The 10 closures include branches in Canyonville, Drain, Glendale, Myrtle Creek, Oakland, Reedsport, Riddle, Sutherlin, Winston and Yoncalla. The main library in Roseburg will have a tentative closure date of May 30...
...voters turned down a taxing district in November that would have kept the library afloat, the county has been struggling to find a means of funding it.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Monday Musical Offering, Mikado edition

Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, or the Town of Titi-Pu is still one of my favorite things in all the world--for pure, human joy, it's hard to think of anything that comes close to the end of Act I.  That said, there are moments that make me, child of the late 20th century, really very uncomfortable.  

So, as you should know, Mikado is obviously about England, not Japan, but all the same, it is set in Japan and keeps making crude, stereotyped reminders of its setting, as seen from the haughty position of Victorian England.  The racist caricatures are genuinely offensive, and the cringes they induce do detract from the modern listener's enjoyment.  There's a fair bit of that in G&S--just about all of Princess Ida, which mocks the idea of educating women, for example.  So what to do?

Some say, don't perform it.   That's a non-starter.  The music and words, when not tainted by offensive antique attitudes, are priceless.

Some take the approach of ignoring it; you can go to you tube and watch a production by the English National Opera, with Eric Idle as the Lord High Executioner, which sets the events in a 1920's English seaside resort.  Fine as far as it goes, but the lyrics are still there, and it's kind of disorienting to have people singing that they are "gentlemen of Japan" when they are clearly gentlemen of Brixton or Leicester.

I would be interested to see this, New production. It keeps things as G&S intended; but, it frames it by Gilbert getting bonked into delirium, and having the whole production be his personal dream.  A nice way to insulate the audience, and make it clear that the racism really truly belongs to Gilbert, not us.

Perhaps the way is what opera buffs call "regietheater," where the director takes a stiff dose of LSD before deciding on the staging.  So, set it in an insane asylum in Nazi Germany, or make the characters all rats in a behavioral scientist's laboratory.  I don't know what's best, or how to dissolve away the stuff that really is offensive.  I do know that the music and almost all of the words give me so much joy, and that the world would be a much darker place without them.  Oh willow, tit-willow, tit-willow!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future

But I will make one, and here it is: Donald Trump will name Martin Shkreli to be the head of the FDA.  You heard it here first.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Now More Than Ever

History keeps on echoing in the most unpleasant way.  It wasn't too long ago that I saw that some candidate for political office used the slogan "Now more than ever."  I don't know if the candidate was being ironic, or ignorant, but that slogan carries some heavy baggage, perhaps not as heavy as "Ein volk, ein reich, ein fuhrer," but it was used for electing Richard Nixon.

Now Nixon is back, more than ever it seems.  We have a president-elect's spokesperson insisting that if the President does something, it is by definition legal.  And then news came out that Nixon worked to scuttle the 1968 peace talks aimed at ending the war in Vietnam.

In a just world, there should be a line a mile long of people waiting to piss on Nixon's grave.  There should be a similar line waiting to piss on Kissinger, who, unlike the tens of thousands of people who died in Vietnam, is still alive and well and seemingly respected.