Saturday, 23 February 2013

09:14 – Barbara and her dad took Sankie to her psychiatrist yesterday afternoon. She wasn’t in there five minutes, literally, before the doctor said he’d been seeing her for many years but he’d never seen her like this, and that she belonged in the hospital. He has an outpatient clinic here in Winston-Salem, but his home hospital is in Thomasville, about 40 minutes to our southeast. There was a bed available, so Barbara drove her dad and mom to Thomasville and waited while they admitted her mother. By then, it was nearing dinnertime, so they met Frances at a restaurant here in Winston-Salem. Getting out of the car, Dutch shut the car door on his leg and gashed it badly, so it was off to the emergency room again. Frances took their dad to the hospital. Dutch wasn’t badly hurt and it didn’t require both of them to be there, so Barbara came home. When she got home, the first words out of her mouth were, “I have no life.” I am reminded of Dorothy Parker, “What fresh hell can this be?”


11:13 – Barbara is out running errands–supermarket, library, drugstore, etc. She talked to her sister this morning. Frances had stayed last night with their dad because they didn’t arrive home from the hospital until midnight. Bonnie Richardson, one of our astronomy club buddies, called Barbara Friday to let her know that her dad had died. Barbara’s going to visit the funeral home this evening on her way over to stay with her dad tonight. Tomorrow, Frances will take over and Barbara will come home with her parents’ laundry for me to do. Frances stays with her dad tomorrow night. Barbara goes to work as usual on Monday and then goes straight from work to her dad’s. She stays with him Monday night, which makes sense anyway because she has to take him to an 8:00 a.m. doctor appointment Tuesday morning to get the paperwork filled out for Dutch to get one of those battery-powered scooters.

The federal government has apparently clamped down bigtime on paying for those scooters, which is understandable because they cost $2,000 or more. What’s really strange is the scooter becomes Dutch’s property as soon as it’s approved. Once Dutch no longer needs it, the feds don’t take back the scooter. We can sell it on eBay or whatever. Conversely, although one can buy identical products on-line for $600 or so, Dutch’s oxygen apparatus is only rented. It goes back when he no longer needs it.

I ordered only one pack of 500 of the RIA vials and caps, and I wish I’d ordered more. They’re basically 12x75mm hydrophobic polypropylene 5 mL test tubes with snap-fit airtight HDPE caps, and they’re ideal as storage containers for small amounts of chemicals. We’re currently building components for a batch of 60 biology kits, and we’re using eight of those vials per kit to contain materials that we used to package in coin envelopes. Things like gelatin, carrot seeds, and so on. The RIA vials/caps cost a bit more than coin envelopes, but they’re easier to label, fill, and seal and they’re more convenient for users, so we’ve decided to start using them rather than coin envelopes for many items.

30 thoughts on “Saturday, 23 February 2013”

  1. The other end of this is having kids. You have no life when kids are younger than about 10 or 12. The more kids, the less life you have. It is just one thing after another.

  2. What Chuck said. Kids in general, under twelve like he says, and you have zero life. And then when the girls hit their teens, you devoutly and sincerely pray that you will soon have no life for real.

    Exact Parker quote: “What fresh hell is this?”

    Here’s another one:

    ““Tell him I was too fucking busy– or vice versa.”

  3. Actually, I think “What fresh hell is this?” is the name of a biography about Parker. In real life, every time the doorbell or phone rang, Dorothy’s stock response was, “What fresh hell can this be?”

    But, as Emerson said, “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”, and Parker’s mind was anything but little.

  4. I don’t have kids, so I can’t know for sure, but one advantage of caring for kids is that you’re younger and have more energy. Also, you must have some expectation that you’re building something rather than managing crises that are, inevitably, going to end badly.

    Also, having no kids, I’m wondering who will care for me when I’m like this. The bright side is that my wife will likely outlive me 30 years. The down side is that my wife will likely outlive me 30 years.

    Bob, Barb, I hope it gets better sooner rather than later.

  5. I’ve also seen the second quote, as “I’m too fucking busy, and vice versa”. Supposedly, soon after she married, that was her response to an editor who phoned her to complain that she was badly behind her deadline on a manuscript.

    Dorothy Parker is yet another of the women I’ve never met whom I love.

  6. Thanks, Paul.

    It’s very frustrating for me to stand by and watch, unable to do anything to help other than just holding the fort at home. I was delighted this morning when I overheard Barbara talking to her sister on the phone and they started discussing getting their parents’ laundry done. I immediately shouted, “I’ll do it.” It’s pathetic that those are the only kinds of things I can do to help.

  7. “It’s pathetic that those are the only kinds of things I can do to help.”

    It’s more help than you might think. It takes a load, literally, off others who are just not in a frame of mind to mess with it and/or are exhausted on several levels. You also help more than you realize when you do the part of a loving husband and try to mend Barbara’s suffering as best you can, little though it might seem at the time. Attempts to ‘jolly someone up’ who’s going through this kind of thing tend to fall flat, but an honest effort at listening more than talking and obviously really caring goes a long, long way.

    I would also like to have met La Parker but I am guessing a little of her went a long way, too. Ditto many other witty and bon vivant raconteurs and boulevardiers, modern versions of the troubadours, jongleurs, and trouveres. I probably got the spelling wrong there but gee, don’t have Mrs. OFD or daughter looking over my shoulder just now for corrections. (I had French back in middle school, taught using the methodologies of Horace Greeley, Dewey, and Nurse Ratchet. Also messed a bit with Old French during my medieval studies capers.)

    We are at 34 here, allegedly, and seeing snow flurries with big flakes. The weather liars are telling us four to six inches tonight, though. Total crap shoot here on the Lake; could be anything from nothing to ice to a blizzard. Gotta go get Mrs. OFD at the Burlap International Airport in a couple of hours; we’ve gotten to know just about every square foot of the place by now. USAF flyboys have a section of it; you may have seen a pic long ago of two of them zooming above the smoking Manhattan towers; the Green Mountain Boys fly F16s and are responsible for the Northeast Quadrant of CONUS; they’re due to get the new jets soon and as might be expected here, this causes a little brouhaha. People who bought houses near the airport, for example, for whom I have less than zero sympathy. IMHO, we don’t need these new jets; WTF for?? We have no enemies other than some hadji ragbag ragheads here and there and if we got the hell out of the Sandbox and the Suck and the other hadji shit-holes over there we wouldn’t even have those buggers.

    No, our enemies are in Mordor, Babylon On the Hudson and Hollyweird/SF. But mostly in Mordor. Where Sauron currently rules, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

    http://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/1.jpg

  8. Ah, yep. I was just reading again about the latest problem with the F-35’s, which has grounded all them. Not that there are that many to ground.

    What the hell do we need a 5th generation fighter for, particularly one that’s projected to cost $1 trillion over its acquisition life? I understand that fighter planes wear out due to metal fatigue and other issues, but what the hell is wrong with just building more F-15’s and F-16’s as we need them? There’s no country on the planet that can contest the US Air Force, and none in prospect.

    This is the same thing I said about the Warthog. Instead of discontinuing it and phasing it out, why not build a bunch of them and continue building them as needed? They’re already designed and relatively cheap to produce, just as the F15/F16/FA18 are. The F22/F35 programs are merely new toys for the armed forces, and very expensive ones at that.

    Use what you have, replace them as they wear out, upgrade engines and avionics and weapon systems. Fine. That’s what the USSR did and it worked well for them. As someone once said, quantity has a quality all its own. If the choice is between spending a trillion dollars to get a few hundred super gee-whiz fighters versus having thousands of upgraded/upgunned/upengined F15/16/18 fighters for a fraction of the cost, I know which I’d choose.

  9. Agreed 100%.

    The armed forces should also have kept the 1911 and the M-14. No better infantry battery that I can think of, mass-produced, and proven over a hundred years in the case of the former. I do note, however, that my alma mater is keeping the B52s into 2050 so they will also have a proven track record of a century, and there seems to be no unholy rush to dump the Spooky and Spectre gunships that OFD served paht of his sentence on.

    http://www.kowabunga.org/images/pictures/military_aviation/ac-130u_specduty_specfor_0008.jpg

  10. Agreed on keeping with existing aircraft and other toys. The US is currently not facing any threat from any organized military force, nor is any likely in the foreseeable future. However, without spending that money, the military bureaucracy would have to be cut way back, as would the entire aerospace industry: contractors, subcontractors, sub-subcontractors. And with them would go a huge pile of political contributions. Nope, better to keep them contracts rolling.

  11. Sorry to hear that Barbara’s mother is in the mental hospital but it is for the best. I would not be surprised if she had a undiagnosed stroke and is struggling to deal with it. I hope that they can help her.

    I will disagree on the F-22. It was a direct replacement for the F-117 which was a maintenance nightmare. Every time an F-117 went up, every carbon fiber bolt on the carbon fiber skin had to be retorqued. The F-22 just needs more shakeout time (get rid of the LOX system now!).

    The F-35 is a boondoggle. Too many mission types. BTW, we still make four F-16s a month in Fort Worth. We just gave sixteen of them to Egypt. Hope that does not bite us in the butt. BTW, I recommend the book about the F-16 champion in the USAF, John Boyd:
    http://www.amazon.com/Boyd-Fighter-Pilot-Who-Changed/dp/0316796883

  12. “We just gave sixteen of them to Egypt. Hope that does not bite us in the butt. ”

    Well frankly I can’t conceive why it *wouldn’t” bite us in the butt; we just gave those babies to a strident and violent hadji raghead regime that is in nearly total cahoots with its own brutal and savage military and police forces. Someone made a pile of money on the deal and they can sleep at night apparently. Goddamn them to Hell.

  13. We REALLY need national referendums on foreign policy issues like giving away our technology. I think such stuff would go down to resounding defeat, but some magic dust gets into the eyes (or pockets) of legislators in the Beltway and the result is that we are going to be hearing of our own weapons used to kill our own boys.

  14. We just gave sixteen of them to Egypt. Hope that does not bite us in the butt.

    But, who does the maintenance? In most of the smaller Middle Eastern countries, maintenance is done by contractors, mostly from the US, that stop work when a war breaks out. So much of their air forces are good for only a couple of missions. Also, the export versions of the F-16 have old avionics packages on them.

    As for the “need” for the F-22/35 vs. keeping the current planes, there are a couple of issues. The Air Force and Navy are going to be smaller, so to keep the current level of firepower, you need better planes. Making each aircrew more effective may be cheaper than pure numbers.

    Also, the Harriers that the Marines have are nearing the end of service life and there are no spare parts available. Recently, a squadron had a number of planes destroyed or damaged at a base in Afghanistan by a Taliban attack. The squadron is now classed as non-combat ready, the first time since it was wiped out in the attack on Wake Island. the damaged planes will be hangar queens, to be used for spare parts, and the undamaged ones will be dispersed as spares.

    As for the A-10, we have a lot of them in Reserve units, so low rate production is not really needed. (And low rate production is very, very expensive.) Also, the Air Force doesn’t really want them – not as sexy as fighters are – and is continually in a war with the Army over their fate. The last time the AF tried to get rid of them, the Army asked to take them over.

  15. The USAF has always hated having to support the Army. After all, the Air Force can win any war all by itself, so its pilots are the most important people in the military.

    … Except that drones are getting really good and enlisted or even civilian controllers can sit anywhere in the world and control them. And the AI is almost good enough to send them out on autonomous missions. And you can buy a lot of million-dollar drones for the cost of one modern fighter.

    None of which addresses what wars or non-war conflicts the US should be getting into. But if you’re going to wage war, at least do it smart.

  16. Just had a crash of LibreOffice 4 on Windows. Auto-recovery did NOT save my documents, as every one of the auto-recovery files (3 were open) was defined as corrupt during the recovery process. I’m the pioneer, here, and I am getting shot with arrows by updates of both LibreOffice and µTorrent. Cannot recommend updating either at this point.

  17. I don’t see what’s wrong with selling Western technology to people who don’t love us. If they use it against us there’s a pretty simple solution.

    What peeves me is that Australia is lined up to buy the F-35 and the cost keeps going up. Supposedly Air Marshal Houston has a hard on for it and is driving our purchase. The US won’t sell us the F-22… 🙁

  18. “….Once Dutch no longer needs it, the feds don’t take back the scooter.”
    Which reminds me, the top boss of the LA Unified School District now wants to spend millions of dollars for tablets, iPads, for students? Totally believable! What he won’t do is make a public and realistic estimate of how many will be turned back in the following June.

  19. In regard to our selling various armaments around the world; no matter how advanced or not they are or if our patriotic contractor techs will stop work on them during a war, etc. We simply should not be selling them to entities who, for example, hate our guts and burn our flag and torture and murder their own citizens, and whose “religion” is total anathema to all of human civilization.

    We should get rid of the Air Force and parcel out its weapons and personnel to the other branches. And bring all the troops home and close most if not all of our overseas and domestic bases. Cut DOD by a third to two-thirds over the next decade. Keep National Guard troops in their own states. Etc., etc.

    Let’s face it; if we had been truly serious and rational about revenge for 9/11 and preventing another one we’d have pulled outta the Sandbox and the Suck, run an international police/spec ops effort to track down and eliminate the various perps, and concentrated most of our violent force on our friendly Saudi princes and their rotten stinking shit-hole of a country. But we weren’t, were we? It’s all been utter bullshit; from the initial “responses” to the TSA crap at all the airline terminals and to the airbrushing of much reportage and photos since the events of that day.

    @Chuck in Tiny Town; thanks for pioneering; won’t be upgrading anytime soon.

  20. So, four candidates for the Darwin award showed up in Houston today.

    A woman and 3 men, apparently trying to self-Darwinate, decided to break into cars in a parking lot outside a store. Two were lookouts, two were breaking into cars. The store? Carter’s Country, one of the biggest gun dealers in Texas, open since 1961.

    A patron caught one in his car, got into a fight. When a suspect ran away, a bystander pursued him, got into a fight. The bystander, in fear of his life, pulled knife and stabbed the robber. One of the lookouts started hitting the bystander with a gun, but was subdued by other bystanders. All 4 were arrested. One is in the county hospital.

    Really? Try to rob cars at a gun store? One that has a pistol range, rifle range, and a skeet range? How fucking stooooopid.

  21. I love the USA! Jumped in my truck this afternoon and drove almost 500 miles north in about 9 hours. Even got 18 mpg in my brick, also known as a 2005 Expedition. Left the Land of Sugar at 75 F and arrived at the Land of Norman at 34 F.

    BTW, I am going to a conference on natural gas conditioning with 400 other engineers. I have a feeling that many of us would score highly on that autism quotient test.

  22. On the F-16s, the minimum production that Lockheed can make is 4 per month. So the USA is giving them away to keep the production line going. Meanwhile the F-16 base in Houston just got converted to drones. One just shakes one’s head and goes what?

    Robbing patrons at Carter’s Country? Wow, I am amazed that any of the robbers are still alive.

    BTW, The Marine Corps wants the A10s and F-16s real bad from the USAF. My son watched the A-10s perform at 29 Palms. As a infantry grunt, he loved them. He said they looked like a floating tank with that rapid fire cannon.

  23. Well, as I’ve said before, there’s no reason for the Air Force to exist as a separate organization. The Army and Navy should each have their own aircraft. It makes as much sense to have a separate Air Force as it would to have a separate Tank Force.

  24. If the A-10 was put back into production as it’s own entity, you could have a separate Air-Tank Force.

  25. Yeah, I’d imagine you would have. Every groundpounder I’ve ever talked to about it, from WWII vets through current vets, has said bring on the Warthogs. Lots and lots of Warthogs.

    Any time we have forces on the ground in harms way, there should be Warthogs lurking. Hell, battalion or even company commanders ought to be able to call in air support from them.

  26. Agreed; guys on the ground also dug the Spectre gunships, “make it rain,” indeed. But I hope we see that all this business should be a genuine rarity in the future and I fear that it will become more commonplace, between the existing armaments and the new drone scenarios developing.

  27. Lynn wrote:

    “I have a feeling that many of us would score highly on that autism quotient test.”

    I worked with a chap once whose behaviour was very strange. I’d walk up to him and ask him a question. Even though he’d obviously heard me he often would keep taping away on his keyboard, completely ignoring me. Other times he’d answer my question in excruciating detail. When I’d heard what I needed I’d walk back to my desk, but he’d usually keep talking, at the same volume, as though I was still standing there.

    But he will one of the most technically brilliant IT people I’ve ever met. He never forgot anything, could do anything. One of our cow-orkers, who had an autistic son, said our colleague was probably autistic. That made it difficult for him to find work when we were outsourced, standardised tests would fail him on psychological grounds. I would have hired him in an instant.

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