Bird is the Word

One of the advantages of being retired is you can do whatever you want whenever you want, and wear any clothes you want – or none at all… And so we celebrate Thanksgiving a week early, in order that we may be thankful for leftovers on Thanksgiving day and no work or holiday-hassles to speak of. Raise a toast of Pineapple-Banana-Ginger rum-drink!

Basting every 30-minutes has commenced, now this:



And then…

…the tiny Mossberg safety detent ball-bearing ball rolled off the receiver into space, made a small *ping* sound as it hit the plastic carpet-protector mat, and disappeared into Carpetland… Oh great.

To continue: The Brown Truck of Happiness had arrived and delivered my tacticool Vang-Comp oversize safety button, solid metal instead of plastic – so I set to work examining how this thing comes apart and goes back. I examined for about twenty seconds and then unscrewed the one-way safety top-screw.
And the bottom fell out and rattled around inside the action.
But the tiny spring and the microscopic ball-detent were still with me in Happy-Land. So then I had to remove the trigger group by pusing-out out the trigger-housing retaining pin, and two more pieces fell out. Those would be #11 and #12, the cartridge stop and cartridge interrupter. And also the safety block fell free which is what I needed in the first place. So OK, hitch up the big-boy pants and re-assemble – which is when the tiny ball-bearing took flight.

After tearing out my remaining and non-existent hair, and crawling fruitlessly under the desk with a Surefire light that got too hot to hold, I started searching through the Wise Men of Internet for a Clue and the ball-diameter.

I came across an amazing and hyper-logical suggestion: Magnet+Vacuum. I went out to the garage and got the Craftsman magnetized parts-tray that I SHOULD HAVE BEEN USING IN THE FIRST PLACE, and from the bedroom retrieved the small Dyson bagless mini-vac and started combing the carpet. After a few turns over one area I emptied the canister into the tray. Nothing. So I began a sweep of the next vector and hammered at the carpet some more. EUREKA!

So, re-assembly began again with much more caution (and a magnetized backstop), and it would have been great the first f*ing time but I had the Tacticool Button facing the wrong direction – so just for good measure and practice I did it again. OK, phew, finally. QUIT WHILE YOU’RE AHEAD.

Global Warming Drip by Drip

We’re getting rain and lots of it. The rain-barrels are overflowing and when it dries out, after a day or two, we’ll empty the water onto the trees that have been stressed by the heat and drought. Then we can let them re-fill when the next rain hits, and do it again. Took a while to figure that out, DOH!

Thanksgiving: You didn’t Build That Stress-Monster – did you? No, Work did it for you – yeh thanks a lot Gov. Meanwhile we have been on a bit of a diet. When one decides to go that direction, the other really must follow, and I had a bunch of fat-slack I could afford to lose. Whilst among the doughy and Starbucks-saturated BayAryans I had ballooned to 200+. Paleo works! Now after a summer of hard labor and lifting rocks I’m at 185 – my old HS water-polo fighting weight. SheWhoMustBeObeyed is on track and has lost 16+some in an effort to get off the stress-based BP and cholesterol meds that are directly attributed to the last hellish few years working at the Big-Nasty-Robber-Baron-University finance job. All the dignified and nice-enough Old-School crowd are long gone, pushed-out by the sharp-elbow GSB get-me-mine Administrators-in-Bloat, busy back-stabbing and building their Admin-Empire of the Ants. Good riddance to that. We are both relieved to be out from under that dark cloud of stupidity and selfish misery, and all the enabling that went with it. Still this is a tough time of year to try and avoid all the Holiday Excesses – but we don’t have any Office Parties to attend, nor the sticky temptation of cubicle-candy that abounds in every workplace. The Bird is getting cooked tomorrow, so that we’ll have yummy left-overs for Turkey-day itself.

The meeting/lunch with the Old BFF and her Young Artist Lad went well. The fear of seeing a slow-motion train-wreck was unfounded, and it’s simply a matter of people struggling in this economy. The kid is bright and motivated, so I offered a piece of graphic equipment I was not using that would help in this digital age, an Intuous/Wacom pressure-sensitive cordless graphic tablet. I always struggled with the disconnect between hand and screen when using the device and still prefer the old ways of ink, pencil, and paper – but the kid is Modern and has Skillz to polish – and besides it was his 19th Birthday, so have at it.

And the blessed rain keeps falling. What caliber for rain-drops?

Dear Santa…

…You know I don’t need or wear any NFL gear – ever, or NBA, or even MLB – I buy my own socks – but the Ontario M9 Bayonet is kewl.
Also pretty much any electronic gizmo is worthless to me, even a BORS computer scope, or a long-distance bullet-drop compensation app – because I don’t have a goddam smarty-ass-phone.
And we can skip the tattoo-parlor gift-card.
“Whiskey for my Horses and Ammo for my Mossberg!”

Sunshine! A brief respite

We are enjoying a bit clear sky and warmth this AM between the bands of lashing rain. More wetness is headed this way, but in the meantime the puddles are drying and the birds run around the tanbark under the junipers, pecking at bugs.
Meanwhile the spiky needle-leaf red-flower western drought-tolerant mystery shrub who’s name we don’t know, slowly gives up its thorny secrets. This unassuming plant would make an excellent defensive barricade, the spikey-needle leaves are real pin-prickers and you must wear heavy gloves to resist penetration. The little red flowers are very attractive to the hummingbirds who flit in and out and avoid the sharp needles. Just taking the pictures I received a number of painful jabs.
It grows in a dense, criss-crossing bramble-thicket, that is as close to impenetrable barb-wire as anything. A hedgerow of this stuff would be tough-going and if you fell into it wearing just a t-shirt you’d be in a world of hurt.
And finally we uncovered a nice big rock, yay!
Anybody got a name for this thing?
UPDATE: We have a weiner! Nasty-plant, AKA Devil’s Plant – and it’s no wonder that it comes from Australia where 90% of things living-and-crawling are poisonous or otherwise dangerous to man. It’s a Grevillea Needle-Leaf. “Reasonably resistant to pests & diseases.” Yeh because it’s wicked-NASTY! The deer don’t even try. Much like the thorny, bionic concertina-wire Bougainvillea…

Zombies Everywhere

Zombies, Soviets, Nazi Moon-Zombies, Ebola, Occupy…or an EMP
In the 60′s and 70′s it was common for the snotty Gruber-type elite Über-cognoscenti to dismiss *Zombies* out-of-hand (and write a Literature/Poly-Sci Thesis upon the straw-man argument) as the unnecessary* vapors and over-blown fear of the Soviet Union by small-minded, over-wrought, small-town, xenophobic, bitter-clingers who were afraid of everything outside their small horizon – and that anyhow The Government would save them.
If you notice in the horror classic, Night of The Living Dead, the Government and especially The Media are not depicted at all kindly. In fact they are depicted as many see them: unknowing, bumptious, and incoherent oafs who are utterly incapable of doing anything useful to stem the Zombie outbreak – and it is only the Local Authorities who are finally able to handle the situation.
Lately the Occupy protestors and more recently the Ebola virus have risen to assume the practical shape of “Zombies” – which is essentially an out-of-control situation that Big Gov. fears to deal-with, or uses to its own advantage. “Zombies” today are pretty-much a proxy for any demons that ineffectual and somnambulant Big-Gov. ignores – and Local People still must take their own destiny and protection in hand.
On the horizon are the ISIS Zombies who have an actual, practical-political and deadly dimension. Beheading “non-believers” in large-scale acts of murder indicate very clearly that the naive notion of “co-existence” is really pretty small-minded Ostrich-behavior itself.
The one consistent thing in all this (and in other TEOTWAWKI scenarios like Mars Attacks!) is that Big Gov. and its People have a place to run and hide (and YOU do not), until whatever it is blows over, and only afterwards do they come out of their spider-hole-in-the-ground to regain and re-capture Power in the wasted aftermath.
In the End “Zombies” are also a trigger-warning for people themselves to be prepared when (not if) Gov. fails them.
(* Necessity? You don’t NEED what they don’t think you don’t need…)

Rain Event #5 – Advice to the Young Artist

I had to go outside and furl-in the big deck umbrella that was starting to get whipped around. For those of you in the Pacific Northwet and those East and Southeast of the Rockies, our obsession with precipitation is probably a little weird – but the drought continues and it’s not looking up from here. This rain will get spread-out over a couple days, which is good because our trees that are getting hammered by the drought need a soaking, not a dump. We drained the 60-gal onto the cedar tree on the backside.
Meanwhilel we’re going to lunch with an old and long-unseen BFF of She-Whom-We-Obey – and her young artistic-prone lad. Someone who was back-in-the-day a bit of a “here comes trouble” has for a variety of reason (mainly the usual suspects: divorce, job-changes, economic stagnation) not been enjoying the uplifting aspects of Obamanomics in the 2010′s. I was also asked as a former graphic designer and user-interface pixel-pusher guy to give the aspiring artiste some tips…

At first I was flummoxed that such a request would be made of this old decrepit cast-off, especially in this day and age of “Software Hedonism,” – then I thought about it and came up with a couple things that might contribute:
1.) Drawing, namely Life Drawing. As an artist, anatomy is absolutely crucial. You simply gotta be able to pencil to paper and and shade bodies and textures – human shapes in all varieties of wrinkles and sizes: Plus! Live Nude Girls! (But frequently rotund for more complex surface-modeling, and/but then there’s Live Nude-Dudes! too…)
2.) The Color Wheel – you gotta master Complimentary, Contrasting, and Opposite colors on the big-wheel, so your work translates cleanly and isn’t muddy. Visually speaking, don’t poop on your parade.
3.) Type and Typography – learn kerning so that a word’s visual “color” is clear and concise – the letter spacing that your computer automatically makes happen isn’t always what you want.
4.) Tech Illustration: there’s jobs all over but not all are a lot of fun and zoomie-wowie 3-D crap. Engineering type People still and always will need block-diagrams and pictures of equipment, the backside of an array where the proper plugs go, flow-charts (not automated MSDraw crap), and Real Drafting. This is not CAD drawing but something similar and very-very flat. Enter Flatland, and learning *how* to do a proper block-diagram in Engineeringland will teach you things too, like the importance of clarity.
5.) Draw what you know and do it a lot. Even if it’s just a lamp. Draw a lot of different things and in different styles – and then separate them in your Portfolio so you’re not type-cast. Group things and styles-of-things together, and keep ‘em separated. Managers and hiring-types are not usually visually competent, like an Art Director, and once they see a certain thing they latch onto it and are unable to shift mental-tracks, so an abundance of stylistic differences is only confusing and disorienting to them. For instance: we once made some changes to the UI we were developing, and in order to highlight the subtle differences that we changed, we altered the color of those elements to purple so they would stand apart… But Once the Big-Boss Manager Doofus saw “it,” all he saw was PURPLE – and he loved it! He wanted EVERYTHING PURPLE!! But nooo! We were already on a different track that was well and scientifically established. Still for a month or so we were forced to include PURPLE in stuff that was sent-up for approval, until finally more level heads prevailed. Which leads to…
6.) No Job is Forever, No Job is without Do-Overs – and No-Job is without stupid-retarded time-compressed Turnarounds. Expect that on a Friday afternoon full-scale makeover is DEMANDED using a completely different style, that HAS to be at FedEx by 6:00PM to go to New York – when the FedEx is 7-miles away in rush-hour traffic populated by sleeping drivers who block and pace and generally frustrate Life and cause Mayhem and high blood pressure. Also No Job is Too Small. You get to meet a whole different set of people with small piece-work that the Industrial-Scale Artshop doesn’t accommodate, like Nice People instead of smarmy artsy-fartsy self-important Asshoolians with too many tattoos and piercings and caffeine in their veins. Also Things Change and what you were doing and the Godlike Software you were so adept at using just got bought-up by a competing company who doesn’t care for it, and suddenly your skill-set is obsolete. Things Change and what you were doing that was so vital for the Future of Mankind suddenly got sucked into the Black Hole of a Corporate Merger, and in the blink of an event-horizon you are sitting on a park bench enjoying the sunshine instead of laboring under fluorescent lights – you’re unemployed (again). Get ready for that.