What Is In Brian’s Workbench? Part 1 Of A Continuing Series

So we’ve been in Nogglestead, our new house in the Springfield area, for just over a year now, and I’ve finally gotten the garage mostly unpacked. Hey, I even finally rolled up the tarp I put over the outdoor tools I brought from Old Trees when we moved (I had left it unrolled and spread out to dry, and eventually it got put into the shed spread so that it could dry very well over the last year).

As I’ve been unpacking, I actually have room and shelves and light to spread the gear out and organize it. No longer–well, not for much longer–will I have bunches of unorganized junk boxes with miscellaneous tools, screws, and components in them. As I organize, I keep finding things like this:

Some...thing

I have no idea what that is for.

No doubt it came from some some-assembly-required piece I’ve put together in the last decade, perhaps an optional bit that I didn’t employ but wanted to have on hand in 10 years if I changed my mind. It’s about 4 inches long, sort of screwlike, with a slot screw and hex nut top for easy insertion and tightening. I have no idea what that goes to.

Some people, when confronted with something like this, might throw it out. Not me. I might need that in 2020 for that thing.

I’ll just make a big box for doohickeys.

Book Report: Everything Crafts Easy Projects edited by Courtney Nolan (2005)

This book is part of the Everything Crafts series, and its particular subheading is Step-By-Step Instructions For Creating Everything From Magnificent Mosaics To Beautiful Wreaths. Well, that’s kind of the case. It has multiple projects within three main lines of projects: Concrete-set molded mosaics, wreaths, and papercrafts using stamps and glue.

Sadly, I didn’t really flip through the book before I got it, so I had an idea that “everything” would be broader.

Still, if one of these three strands of creativity fuel you, you’ll find variations on the projects. For example, in the mosaic line, you can make stepping stones, mirrored wall hangings, photo frames, and reptilian designs. For wreaths, you find instructions for vertical hanging wreaths of various types and seasons and some wreaths you can put around candles.

A quick bit of glancery and something to think about trying sometime, I suppose.

Books mentioned in this review:

Good Book Hunting: October 16, 2010

I guess it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these (a year and a half), and I know you’re all clamoring for news about how many books I’m going to try to shoehorn into my library this time. Well, this part of October means it’s time for both the Friends of the Christian County Library and the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library to hold their semiannual book fairs. Today was bag day at the Ozark library for the FOCCL sale. Here’s what I got:


Friends of Christian County Library book fair results, October 2010
Click for full size

Among the highlights:

  • Four bound volumes of old American Heritage magazines. I didn’t already have them. W00t!
  • One, count them, one pulp paperback in the Executioner series. I’ve seen this particular book fair lousy with those old paperbacks, but I’m not sure if it was just a one-time dump of a single person’s collection or that I have been here on bag day the last couple of times.
  • A collection of hour-long documentaries on VHS that chronicles a year. 2 from the 1960s, 3 from the 1970s, and 7 from the 1980s.
  • Two volumes collecting David Drake’s Hammer’s Slammers series.
  • A Douglas Coupland novel JPod. I think he peaked with Shampoo Planet 15 or so years ago. I haven’t read one of his books since before I started blogging.
  • Approaching Zero and Net Crimes and Misdemeanors, books about computer crime. Both are probably old enough that they tell you to protect your America Online password. Or Prodigy. Or in the case of Charles, CompuServe.
  • You Look Nice Today, a novel by Stanley Bing. I loved Lloyd, What Happened?, so I will probably start this one soon.
  • When Men Think Private Thoughts, a guide for women, I think. But I want to see if this book is real intelligence or counter-intelligence.
  • Several self-published books about the Ozarks.
  • A volume of Chaucer that includes Troilus and Criseyde and The Canterbury Tales in both old English and modern English.
  • Yes, that is a book called Sexual Revolution. It’s a book of essays about the same by literary writers of the period.
  • A book about how to make sundials.
  • A book about how to trap animals.
  • A book about fireplace design and how it hasn’t changed in several hundred years.

The swath of books are books my children selected and put into their bag; a two-year-old and a four-year-old are about as eclectic and discriminating as their father. Mrs. Noggle got a stack of magazines and a single (!) book.

Total cost: $6 for six bags of books. Three bags of magazines were free. I gave them a $20 and enrolled in the Friends of the Christian County Library ($5 a year, for cry eye).

And they fit in the collection remarkably well once I started putting books atop the bookshelves themselves.

The Raiments Of My Ancestors

Whenever someone in the family passes away, I seem to get some collection of clothing to wear. I have shirts from my father-in-law who passed away a decade ago (in retrospect, he was my father-in-law for a very short time). When my wife’s uncle passed away a couple years ago, I got a number of his shirts, too. Although he had shorter arms than I do, I tend to wear them rolled up, so no problem. Heck, even when my mother passed away a year and a half ago, I found some t-shirts and flannel shirts that she’d bought at garage sales that were large enough for me to wear. So I haven’t bought a casual button up shirt in about a decade.

That said, there are several articles I’ve received from my ancestors that I own but will not wear.
Continue reading “The Raiments Of My Ancestors”

Killer Whale Lobby: We Need $15 Million Food Assistance Program

Hubristic man, and by “hubristic man,” I mean government with too much revolving credit, considers tampering with nature:

A report by government scientists identifies killer whales as the No. 1 reason there are so few sea otters in southwest Alaska.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed five-year, $15 million recovery plan for sea otters in the Aleutian Islands considered a slew of possible reasons for the perilously low numbers found in some areas.

So is the government thinking about not spending the money? Perish the thought!

The report said there may be “few actions that can be taken” to mitigate predation by killer whales. “But the sea otter recovery program should search for solutions and be open to novel ideas,” the report said.

Why should humans be the only higher order mammal on food stamps? No Orca left behind!

Book Report: Star Trek: The Eugenics Wars Volume I by Greg Cox (2001)

I bought this book sometime at a book fair, alone, without its two companions. Will I pick up the others? I suppose if I find them at a book fair. Why do I do that sort of thing (see also the report on Star Trek: Dark Victory, where I pick up the second book in a trilogy by itself)? Because they’re something wrong with me.

This book begins the story about the rise of Khan from “Space Seed” and The Wrath of Khan in the last century and at least one trilogy in this new one. It’s told with a wrapper story of the original Enterprise crew going to a colony of genetic engineered folk who want to join the Federation to avoid a Klingon threat. Within that story, Kirk reviews the rise of Khan from his birth ca 1970 to somewhere near his 20th birthday (1989) where he’s putting together his group to take over the world, or at least to get launched into space.

Meanwhile, although we know that Khan will rise, we’re treated to the story of Gary Seven (!) and his team breaking up a genetic engineering ring in India and doing other things to stave off humanity’s self-extinction. However, at the root of it, this is a book about Gary Seven. I’m old school enough to know who Gary Seven is without hitting a wiki. The bulk of the novel centers on a minor character from the original series and weaves in actual historic and Star Trek historic events.

All that geek love can only make up so much for a novel whose pacing is just a bit off. The narrative didn’t really pull me along, so it’s not a series I’m particularly compelled to continue. If I find them for a buck a throw, maybe I’ll pick the others up. But I’m not ordering them from Amazon or anything.

Special Noggle Fun Fact: I noted to my wife when we watched Star Wars this week that I’ve read a pile of Star Trek books, but I’m not sure I’ve read any Star Wars books except for the Star Wars Storybook when I was like eight.

Books mentioned in this review:

Protect Their Phony Baloney Jobs?

They can’t find them in the first place.

With the nation investing billions of dollars in clean energy, it stands to reason that tiny Crowder College should be quite popular these days.

After all, this is a place that has been educating students about alternative energy for more than three decades. The school offers degree tracks in solar, wind and biofuels. It offers courses both locally and through its online program.

Yet fewer than 60 students are pursuing green degrees from the school. That’s not terribly surprising, considering that jobs in this sector have been slow to materialize. It’s a market, instructors say, that depends heavily on using government incentives to get companies to invest in green endeavors. And that’s just not happening right now.

Of course, Crowder is a junior college, so when kids come out of it with an Associate’s Degree that includes such education as 3 hours of Ethanol production and 3 hours of math classes, it’s hard to guess what sort of role they would fill in a phony baloney job that a high school graduate could not.

Sports Reporter, Moral Equivalenciator

Bryan Burwell, writing about the sudden, terse disenrollment of two basketball players after allegations of some sort of sexual misconduct, penneth:

Or is it closer to resembling the botched investigation and rush-to-judgment mess in the Duke lacrosse scandal, where no one involved was exactly a pure innocent, but assigning absolute guilt was a convoluted riddle?

Ah, yes, the lacrosse players who hired strippers for a party, and one of the strippers accused the players of raping her, but those charges were proven to be untrue (see Duke University’s own statement exonerating the three charged).

Indeed, assigning complex guilt was tough in the Duke case because everyone in the media was trying to convict and punish the innocent.

I’d applaud Burwell’s call to avoid a rush for judgment if his own judgment were not questionable in his characterization of the Duke case.

Also, I’d be remiss if I did not mention that the SLU students, who are part of “another unclear and uncomfortable, but extremely complicated, sexually charged, he-said, she-said mess in the world of sports”, are black as is Burwell. The Duke lacrosse players, those not innocent guys who were, in fact, innocent of the charges against them, are not. I hate to bring it up, since I might be called a racist for noticing.

Democrat Sets Standard for Professionalism

A professional adolescent, maybe:

A [Wisconsin] state Democratic Party official was kicked out of a speech by Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker Wednesday, after organizers feared he would cause a scene.

Just before Walker addressed about 15 members of the women’s leadership organization TEMPO Milwaukee, Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski shook the hand of Walker campaign worker Michael Brickman but recoiled halfway through it, saying “Ew.’ He then told a woman Brickman is a racist because of a recent tweet Brickman posted concerning President Barack Obama.

Swell. They really are a party of ill-tempered children, aren’t they? No wonder they want it done for the children!. They mean themselves.

Boots and Sabers had the story and notes that the fellow is a former reporter for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Book Report: The New Roadside America by Mike Wilkins, Ken Smith, and Doug Kirby (1992)

As Tam predicted when I bought the book two and a half years ago, I enjoyed this collection of roadside attractions, cut-rate museums, and silly tourist traps you find on the edges of US and state highways.

It’s interesting to read about the obsessions people of previous generations have had, with things from nuts to, well, other things and how they tried to cash in on car-mad America in the middle of the 20th century. Sadly, the things were dying when the book was written almost 20 years ago. You know most of the colorful characters depicted within and their creations are dead now, gone but for this book and memories sandwiched between the sense of boredom on long trips.

My total, by the way? I’ve been to one, the old Noah’s Ark restaurant in St. Charles. Interesting tidbits about it: I was there when I was in middle school since it was where the Republican Pachyderm meetings were held, and the parking lot where I met my wife in person for the first time is right across Fifth Street from where it stood. She remembers it was still there when we met, but a new interchange for Interstate 70 spelled its doom in the early part of the 21st century.

Books mentioned in this review:

Playing God with Geoffrey Grasshopper

This is Geoffrey Grasshopper:

Presenting Geoffrey Grasshopper, but not for long

My children were thrilled to see Geoffrey climbing up the window screen in the dining room where earlier they had seen a praying mantis do the same thing. Geoffrey, however, to their added delight, was inside. They thought he was a cricket, though, thanks to multiple readings of Mouse Soup.

He crawled to the top of the window, as depicted, and hung out for a day. As the Father, I had to take some action.

There is no grass in the house for Geoffrey to eat. Therefore, if left in the house, he would starve to death slowly in front of my children’s eyes. If it were summer, this would pose no problem, as I’d toss him outside and let him live his life as a grasshopper. But now the nights were dipping to freezing, and Geoffrey would probably not last the night.

To live longer, but suffering, or to die quickly but as a grasshopper. This was the dilemma that Geoffrey faced, although he did not know it. I would make the decision, I would determine the manner of Geoffrey’s death.

I know, you’re saying that it’s just a damn bug and I’m making too much of it. You don’t understand: My boys had seen this bug. I would have to explain the decision to them in moral and practical terms.

It is only a bug, so killing it is not exactly a mortal sin, but I’m trying to teach my children to respect life, even bugs (if possible, although flies, fruit flies, and anything in the house is fair game because…. well, I haven’t articulated that very well). Although dogs are nice and alive, it’s okay to kill them if they threaten your life, for example. But this grasshopper (or the bugs in the house) don’t really threaten your life directly….

This children thing is very complicated. And I’m supposed to be some kind of moral philosopher who can explain these things.

So I chose to turn Geoffrey out of doors. I drew some rationalization from a different telling of Aesop’s Fable #3 that ended with the moral “Half a meal in freedom is better than a whole meal in chains.” A day of living like a grasshopper is better than several days of living like a starving insect out of its element.

So I captured him in my hands and my wife held the door while I tossed him out onto the deck in the afternoon sunshine. He landed, dazed, and one of our outdoor cats pounced on him and ate him.

Well, not really that last part, as two of our outdoor cats started out as indoor cats and have lost even their bug-hunting prowess. Geoffrey must have hopped off as he’s gone from the spot now and has probably passed away from the autumn evening temperatures.

As a father of two who must know right from wrong in all circumstances, I bear the burden of Godhood to insects pretty heavily. The big moral things are easy. The minutiae can be tricky when it has to exemplify larger lessons.

From The Brian J. Noggle Independent, Non-Partisan Institute For Ceaseless Government Expansion

Our new study indicates that, when intoxicated, 83.4% of Americans (MOE 3.2%) would accept someone else getting hit on the head and them (the Americans surveyed) receiving $1,000,000.

We conclude that government could have an important role in this and should buy the beer, get out its cartoon mallet, and start writing its cartoon checks.

Book Report: Napkin Decoupage by Deborah Morbin and Tracy Boomer (2003)

Decoupage is like papier-mâché for adults. Basically, you take a pretty picture from something like a magazine and paste it onto something else. You can also use napkins, as this book shows, to get really fine, thin images that look almost as though they’re painted onto the object.

Of course, the title of the book is Napkin Decoupage, but throughout the book the authors talk about serviettes. That’s because the book is for an American audience, and the authors wrote it in the Queen’s dialect, wherein nappies are a different thing altogether, although probably not without their artistic possibilities.

It’s a good book for ideas since the book shows a large number of surfaces you can decoupage images onto, such as chairs, shoes, baskets, boxes, frames, and so on. However, the techiques within are for experience decoupagers as napkin paper is very thin and hard to work with. Personally, I’m starting with manilla folders on two-by-fours to get a real flavor for the possibilities in pasting paper onto something hard.

Books mentioned in this review:

After 16 Years, He Should Be All Wet

Democrat Dave Coonrod has served as Greene County’s Presiding Commissioner for 16 years. I don’t know who thought this was a good idea:

Dave Coonrod: He's Learning The Ropes

He’s still not afraid to learn the job? After your first decade in a job, maybe you ought to know it a little. By the end of your fourth term, perhaps you should know it pretty well indeed.

And, jeez, does his wife know he’s making a mess of his slacks like that? I hate to think of what kind of shoes he’s got in there. I’d have to come home barefoot and in my undershorts with some story about how I got accosted by a naked man with a gun on the run or something after a photoshoot like that.

Government Growth: A Case Study

This story made a pretty big splash last week as the national media got a sensational bit of shockery and allowed everyone to get into high dudgeon: No pay, no spray: Firefighters let home burn.

The splashy details:

Firefighters in rural Tennessee let a home burn to the ground last week because the homeowner hadn’t paid a $75 fee.

Gene Cranick of Obion County and his family lost all of their possessions in the Sept. 29 fire, along with three dogs and a cat.

A number of people have tried to turn this into a stunning indictment of capitalism. A for-profit fire department? That’s ludicrous!

But it’s an uninformed reading of the situation. Whether willfully or out of ignorance, those who try to indict this particular system don’t get it, but that’s not necessary for sacred ceremony of High Dudgeon of the Statist Order.

Let’s look again:

The fire started when the Cranicks’ grandson was burning trash near the family home. As it grew out of control, the Cranicks called 911, but the fire department from the nearby city of South Fulton would not respond.

“We wasn’t on their list,” he said the operators told him.

Cranick, who lives outside the city limits, admits he “forgot” to pay the annual $75 fee. The county does not have a county-wide firefighting service, but South Fulton offers fire coverage to rural residents for a fee.

Cranick says he told the operator he would pay whatever is necessary to have the fire put out.

His offer wasn’t accepted, he said.

The fire fee policy dates back 20 or so years.

“Anybody that’s not inside the city limits of South Fulton, it’s a service we offer. Either they accept it or they don’t,” said South Fulton Mayor David Crocker.

This house lies outside the fire department’s jurisdiction. It offered residents who did not pay taxes to support the fire department an option for firefighting response for a mere $75 annual fee. This fellow opted out, whether through ignorance, oversight, or just feeling lucky, and when he needed the service, he was not entitled to it.

He said he would pay anything while his house was on fire, but at that point, he would promise anything. Whether he would eventually pay anything, indeed whether he, a rural Tennesseean who cannot pay $75 a year, could pay anything. Expecting the fire department to run a credit check or to accept credit cards on the scene is foolish, and to be honest, it’s almost as big of a public relations hit.

If the fire department did put out the fire of this nonsubscriber to their service who does not pay taxes to support the fire department, it would create a pricing incentive for other rural residents to not pay the annual fee with the expectation that the fire department would come and put out their fires at absolutely no monetary cost to them. When subscriptions dropped enough, the fire department would probably cancel the service at all and let the houses in the county burn.

Of course, the county officials in Obion County are probably preparing dramatic action at this time. “Fellows, we’ve been spotlighted in the national media as a backward county. We must do something to improve our standing in the eyes of the nation! We need expensive Wayfinder signs immediately! Or, barring that, we need professional firefighters paid for by county taxes to cover the county!”

I don’t know how it is all across Missouri, but in the regions where I have lived (the St. Louis area and Springfield), I have been covered either by the local city fire department (in Webster Groves, a suburb of St. Louis) or by a special fire district covering multiple municipalities (as in Maryland Heights, Missouri, in the suburbs of St. Louis and in unincorporated Greene County near Springfield where the Battlefield Fire District covers the town of Battlefield and nearby environs). Let’s use the home I own in Webster Groves as an example. In 2009, I paid $3,139 in tax on it. The portion that goes to the city of Webster Groves is 10.8%. That’s $314. Of that $314, $42 goes to public safety pensions alone. The remainder comes from the general obligations portion of the property tax, capital improvements sales tax, and other city revenue. All in all, it’s more than $75 a year. My home is a pretty modest house for Webster Groves, where the homes can run over $1,000,000. So the tax burden is greater on other people.

As a result of one man’s decision of whether he was at risk for fire and his relative’s risky fire behavior (the grandson was burning garbage near the home, remember), the public will welcome the growth of government in this regard. A professional fire department covering Olbion County will come with its ongoing annual expenses of salaries, pensions, maintenance, training, equipment upgrades, and whatnot. Only the government can provide.

Although municpally funded and district-funded fire departments are prevalent, they are not the only models. Others include subscription-only fire departments, more prevalent historically than contemporarily, but before the government assumed this power, citizens had to provide for themselves and subscription services allowed them to pool resources to buy equipment. Volunteer fire departments still exist; when I was growing up in Jefferson County, Missouri, the High Ridge area was covered by a volunteer corps (although it has since gone to the district model). Pasadena, Texas, covers a city of over 150,000 with a volunteer fire department. And the subscription to nearby fire department model that did not fail in this case.

Discuss the efficacy of different models, particularly as related to regional needs and citizen freedom, though, and opponents will paint you as a pro-fire extremist. Discussion over. Heart-wrenching anecdote, even anecdotes that feature free citizens living with the consequences of their decisions, + Media Outrage = More Government.

And many citizens, who normally would rankle at government, reflexively applaud its growth.

Book Report: Rough Country by John Sandford (2009)

This is a Virgil Flowers book, so it differs from the Davenport series as it’s more focused on a single guy out there trying to solve a mystery. In this particular case, it’s an advertising agency woman visiting a resort in the northern part of Minnesota who gets shot in the face while canoeing. The resort is women-only, kind of as a retreat from men, and draws a lot of lesbians. And some of them interact with the locals, including a lesbian folk singer with a menacing father and mentally different brother. As a result, Flowers plods along for 200 or so pages as Sandford lays it out and then starts to solving it in the next couple hundred pages.

The later Sandford books seem to take on this sort of pattern. Complications for 200 pages, starting to make progress for 150 pages, then resolution. As it’s a Flowers book, it also features a wide collection of band t-shirts that Flowers wears and sexual escapades or, in this book, tension.

And it’s not a Sandford book without the occasional clangs of wrongness. This book has two that stick with me: one where a couple bring in a small gadget and explain it’s an intercom that alerts them if their baby awakens. That’s called a baby monitor perhaps everywhere but Minneapolis. Secondly, when the sinister father talks about his daughter getting caught up in musical dreams, he refers to CMTV. Whereas it is Country Music Television, the tag and call signs are CMT. Maybe Sandford wants to show he’s out of touch. Given Sandford’s history of these sorts of boners, though, he should probably keep from that sort of subtlety.

It’s a pretty good book, a bit long, and it doesn’t drop in too many things from the killer’s perspective, although he does rely on it once. It’s a laziness in writing as are hitting the common series tropes. He’s not devolved too much here.

Oh, and he’s also laid off the Republicans for the most part, maybe because the book was written in that golden period between the election and the effects of the administration. He can’t lay off of Fox News entirely, though, but it’s easily bypassed since it doesn’t crop up every thirty pages like in Wicked Prey.

Books mentioned in this review:

Federal Government Touts Success at Killing Jobs

With many more successes like this, we won’t have any environment-killing commerce at all!

Doe Run Resources Corp. has agreed to spend about $65 million to correct violations of several environmental laws at 10 of its lead mining, milling and smelting facilities in southeast Missouri, according to an announcement Friday.

Also Friday, the company said it will end operations at its Herculaneum lead smelter by the end of 2013, rather than 2016 as required by state regulations for sulfur dioxide emissions.

The Environmental Protection Agency said the company “made a business decision” to shut down the smelter instead of installing pollution control technologies needed to reduce sulfur dioxide and lead emissions as required by the Clean Air Act.

Note how the regulations are state regulations and the decision is the business’s, but the act? All Federal government, baby. And it looks like the plant is closing down just 3 years earlier than planned, but that original plan is due to state regulations designed to comply with Federal law.

I love the little end zone dance here. It’s good for our team, the environment, woo! Those of you on the other side, who have to put food on your families’ tables, IN YOUR FACE!

Meanwhile, China is locking up natural resources and doesn’t give a damn about how many die to produce them because when you’re one in a million in China, there are a thousand just like you.

Certainly, the EPA is doing its job here. It’s job is to thrash businesses who violate regulations and then to create new regulations whose violations will require a thrashing of businesses. Certainly, we could collectively balance commerce with good stewardship, but those entrenched in our Federal ranks just want a good score for their performance reviews.

Since I’m already on the record as being an EXTREMIST! who wants to DISENFRANCHISE VOTERS!, I’d like to add EXTREMIST! who wants to feed LEAD CANDY BARS TO CHILDREN AND TO ACE ALL ON FAWNS by asking if the EPA is doing a job the majority of the population really wants.

I Told You So

Back in August, I said:

Over at The Missouri Record, David Linton argues in favor of repealing the 17th Amendment which allows the direct election of Senators.

I agree, but I think this is going to be a hard sell to the American public which has come to believe that the key to an open government is more and more transparency and direct accountability of officials, where more and more citizen votes means better and better government. Of course, this more accountable system allows incumbents to go to Washington, vote for government expansion for five years, and return home just before the election to claim they’re independent and fiscally conservative. Thusly, the ruling class can fool the inattentive, and the whole More Accountability benefit falls by the wayside.

Democrat Scott Eckersley is not only the attempted nemesis of Ed Martin in the 3rd District, but he’s running for Congress in the 7th District. In the course of a debate with Billy Long yesterday, Eckersley opposed states’ rights and hit the same tropes I mentioned in August:

Then Eckersley pointed out that Long actually has advocated repealing the 17th Amendment, the amendment that allows people to vote directly for U.S. Senators. “If we were to go ahead and do what you had advocated none of us would have a vote for United States Senate in this room.”

The Democrats will oversimplify and play upon the ignorance foisted upon the populace by the Dem-symp educational system to try to convince voters that the Republicans want to take away their rights to vote.

That’s not to say that the 17th Amendment repeal effort is not worth consideration; however, it will take a lot of educational groundwork on our parts to explain the original intentions of the Founding Fathers and why that is a better idea.

(Cross posted at 24th State.)