Thursday, 14 August 2014

08:01 – I’m covered up with kit orders, but still managing to get kits shipped without delays. At the moment, I have seven outstanding kit orders that came in yesterday evening and overnight.

I’m very careful to comply with all the requirements for shipping hazardous materials, but sometimes I wonder why I bother. Many shippers seem to ignore them completely. For example, yesterday I got a delivery of a bunch of chemicals that included 12 kilos of sodium hydroxide (AKA caustic soda or lye). It was shipped via UPS as ordinary goods, without so much as a warning label on the box.

Then there’s Amazon. One of the AP chemistry labs involves testing various chemicals for suitability in making hand-warmers. Among those chemicals is ammonium nitrate, an explosive fertilizer famous for being used in the Oklahoma City bombing. Our AP chemistry kit will include a 30 gram bottle of the stuff, carefully packaged to meet hazardous chemical shipping regulations. I could use lab-grade or even reagent-grade ammonium nitrate in the kits, but there’s no point to paying the higher price for purer ammonium nitrate. We’re making hand-warmers, after all. But ammonium nitrate is also used in the cold-packs you can buy at the drugstore, so I checked Amazon. Sure enough, they had a 24-pack of ammonium nitrate cold-packs for $15, including free Prime shipping. UPS showed up with the case of cold-packs yesterday, again without so much as a warning label on the box. I’m guessing those 24 cold-packs probably contain at least five kilos of ammonium nitrate. Geez.

59 thoughts on “Thursday, 14 August 2014”

  1. but, but…they’re cold packs, not bombs!

    Dangerous chemicals are everywhere, in all sorts of places people don’t think of. You obviously know this better than any one else on this forum. But Joe Average would just be freaked out if he saw an “Explosive” label on his cold pack, so there isn’t one.

    Which is really odd, when you think about the warning labels frenzy. Have you seen the warnings on a simple, new step ladder? Last time I was in the US, it was 12 or 18 inches long, filled with small print: “do not use in mud”, “do not use in thunder storms”, “do not eat”, do not use as a toothpick”…

  2. “I’m not saying let’s go kill all the stupid people… I’m just saying let’s remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.”

  3. Dangerous chemicals are everywhere, in all sorts of places people don’t think of.

    Ever consider that hung of lithium in your pocket that powers your cell phone?

  4. As I’ve often said, these labels make me think of a Venn diagram and wonder how large (small) the subset is of people who are both smart enough to read the label and stupid enough to need it.

    One of my favorite Roadrunner Acme products was

    “One Dozen Grenades (not recommended for children)”

    Back then, it was a joke. Nowadays, not so much.

    Which in turn reminds me of the change in basic training from a single-trench to a double-trench system for hand grenade practice, motivated by the fact that many women trainees did not have sufficiently large/strong hands to handle a grenade safely and tended to drop them in the trench in which they and other trainees were standing. Obviously, it wasn’t the women’s fault; it was just nature’s way of saying that women aren’t physically equipped to throw hand grenades without endangering themselves and their colleagues.

  5. Heh. I just realized that I made a similar remark back on 20 April 2004:

    “But my favorite moron warning reminds me of the old Roadrunner cartoon. “One Dozen Grenades (not recommended for children)”. My favorite is a real warning, though, reported to me by a reader who saw it on a box of hand grenades:

    Caution: Improper use may cause death or serious injury.

    Which begs the question, doesn’t proper use cause death or serious injury?”

  6. RE: Ferguson

    What exactly is the thinking there? “We’re going to go vandalize, loot, burn, and assault to protest being stereotyped as criminals!” Wow. That’s all I can say. Wow.

    Afterall, kicking in the window of a black-owned liquor store, grabbing a half dozen bottle of hooch, and running off with it will sure show whitey they mean business and they’re not going to tolerate this racist bullshit anymore.

  7. I’m in favor running those kinds of rioters down with mounted cops, polo mallets and German shepherds. But I’m guessing here that the cops out there are massing against unarmed protesters instead, on the low-hanging-fruit theory that they have demonstrated time and again since the days I worked that gig. How many actual violent rioters have they arrested so far? And remember that no matter what they tell us, it’s probably a lie.

    In any case, any violence on the part of protesters and rioters taking advantage of the situation plays right into the hands of cops and enabling politicians who push SWAT and militarization as the answer to all problems. We’ll see more of this.

  8. a double-trench system for hand grenade practice

    Technical term is “grenade sump” in the US Army. I clearly remember my first grenade range. As troops are chucking the pineapples, the rest of us sat behind a reinforced bunker. Blast windows inside allow safety officer to watch the fuckups. I remember after the “whumps”, shrapnel raining down on us. The ground glittered with it. I was nervous throwing my first one after that. Setting my first Claymore was kind of “fun.” I kept checking my pocket every 5 seconds for the firing device. After seeing the results on the silhouettes, you don’t want the “Front Towards Enemy” facing you. Working every position on a 105 crew was quite the experience, also.

  9. Boy, do I want to move away from Winston-Salem to the Boone area in the North Carolina mountains.

  10. lol MO’s finest caught in the act.

    A news crew, clearly no threat or impediment to the cops, films from a verge in Ferguson, Missouri. A pop and a cloud of white smoke marks the arrival of a tear gas canister at their feet, and the newscrew is forced to flee. Moments later, police pull up in an armored van and hurriedly try to break down the film equipment–until they notice that another crew is still filming them from across the street.

  11. Boy, do I want to move away from Winston-Salem to the Boone area in the North Carolina mountains.

    Living in or near a high minority occupied area in the USA is becoming dangerous. The high unemployment and low expectations are causing serious unrest.

    Moving is a good idea. If unable to move then a large amount of guns and ammo would be nice. You might need to arm your neighbors. Also plans for an extended siege and failure of the local police to maintain order need to be taken into account. Ferguson is very close to requiring the National Guard to be called up.

    How long until Barbara retires? How is UPS / Fedex / USPS service to Boone?

  12. I think Boone is the best we can do anywhere near here. It’s a university town (a major UNC campus), which means it’s much less influenced by the Southern Baptists that dominate most smaller towns in North Carolina. It’s about as cosmopolitan as Winston-Salem, which is to say reasonably so. The demographics are good, as are the health-care facilities. Within Boone and the immediate area around it, municipal water, sewer, and garbage collection are available. Boone is famous for its apples and Christmas trees, but there’s a lot of general agriculture as well. Summers are cool and winters are cold, with lots of sleet and snow, which is fine by me. The overall climate is much like southern New England. Water is plentiful. In fact, areas near Boone are literally rain forests, with upwards of six feet of rain per year.

    Barbara did her undergraduate degree at the university there and likes the town. The only issue is that Barbara says it’s too far away from her friends. This from a woman who was initially enthusiastic about my proposal that we move to one side or another on the border area between Montana and Alberta, Canada.

  13. Oh, yeah. Retirement. Barbara can retire any time she wants to. She said the other night that she’d like to work for at least a couple of more years. She likes her job.

    As far as USPS/UPS/FedEx, Boone is well-served and likely to continue to be.

  14. “The only issue is that Barbara says it’s too far away from her friends.”

    Meaning no disrespect whatsoever, this is a recurring issue with wives and/or the feminine side of the marriage/family relationship matrices; they may initially be quite enthusiastic but then it dawns on them that their siblings, parents, nephews, nieces, cousins and friends won’t be coming along or be anywhere near. That’s a showstopper right there, and it’s what keeps all four of my siblings in the Belly of the Beast down there in Massachusetts, within easy rioting distance of Boston, Woostuh, Springfield, Providence and Hartford. NYC just down the road, so to speak. Good luck with that.

    “Living in or near a high minority occupied area in the USA is becoming dangerous. The high unemployment and low expectations are causing serious unrest.”

    “Moving is a good idea.”

    From your lips to Mr. Lynn’s ears…oh wait…YOU’RE Mr. Lynn!

    “lol MO’s finest caught in the act.”

    All too typical; like F-Troop or the Keystone Cops. When they’re not blowing somebody away who had nuttin’ to do wid nuttin.’ This kind of media attention has always flipped them out; they hate it. And as Balko points out in his book, it’s about the only hopeful caper out there now that may tend to keep them on the straight-and-narrow. Cell phones, iPads, tee-vee crews, etc. And then splashing the stuff all over the internet immediately. Rest assured with any really major events coming down the pike, the smart pols and cops will find a way to blackout all media just before going in. Taking another page from the military’s playbooks.

    “I clearly remember my first grenade range.”

    Me, too. “Throw it like a baseball,” they said. “As far as you can,” they said. Forget wimmenz; there were guys who couldn’t throw it; we had to hit the deck several times and hear that metallic rain falling all around us. I’d been a sub qb on the high skool team so I could whip it out there pretty fah; instructors loved me. Later on, in security police and combat training, they had us working out with all the weapons in the USAF small arms arsenal, which included machine guns, grenade launchers, 90-mm recoilless rifles, and its complement of armored vehicles. Later still, the Vulcan guns and other nifty systems on the aircraft.

    At about 2:50 in the clip below is the only part I really loved about being a gunner back then; seeing them boyz smiling and laughing as they jumped on board.

  15. From Thomas DiLorenzo today on the Rockwell site:

    “Question: How is justice served for the family and friends of the unarmed black teenager who was recently executed on the street by thuggish and murderous Ferguson, Missouri cops by black “protesters” who smash the windows of department stores to steal wide-screen TVs in preparation for the upcoming NFL season? After all, it wasn’t the manager of the local Wal-Mart who did the shooting according to news reports.”

    And was asked here as well; to note: the kid’s father went public and has begged these assholes to stop and also told violent protesters that it was not the way to fix this problem or honor his son.

    But this behavior is what we’ve come to expect, and when you see the comments after the various reports on this story, it’s about 95% rage about the rampaging rioters and how the cops should step up their counterattack, etc. Plays right into the cops’ hands and the militarization people. Almost as though it was a setup, or as the conspiracy types like to call it, a “black flag operation.”

    I’m beginning to suspect that the State is using these various events around the country, whether there in Missouri, or at the Bundy ranch, or at the UC Occupy incident where a campus stooge sprayed sitting kids with pepper liquid like he was just watering the flowers, to test and calibrate their future responses when masses of average citizens finally get pissed off and start rioting in the streets.

  16. “Moving is a good idea.”

    From your lips to Mr. Lynn’s ears…oh wait…YOU’RE Mr. Lynn!

    I am 30 miles away from downtown Houston plus across a wide and deep river. Well, deep banks. It is hard to believe that they ran steamboats with a six foot draft up the Brazos back in the 1800s.

    Plus, the extreme minority area of Fort bend County is 15 miles away from me. If rioters come over here then the general populace will probably shoot them. Actually, all of Fort Bend County is minority but the predominant minority is Orientals of some persuasion.

    I may be in denial but in actuality, all of Texas is fast becoming minority majority. Mostly Hispanic.

  17. I don’t have any problem with “minorities” of whatever skin color, sexual preference, etc. etc. I do have a problem with stupid and/or poor people, from whom I prefer to stay far away.

  18. I don’t mind poor people. Sometimes they are more willing to help than the affluent people.

    I don’t like stupid people, lazy people or people that are assholes with pants around their knees swaggering along. When I see someone coming my way that is dressed like a jerk I know I am not going to like them and will avoid them.

  19. Lynn: “I may be in denial but in actuality, all of Texas is fast becoming minority majority. Mostly Hispanic.”
    Roger that, similarly for my local area. I’ll soon be helping my daughter again in her 2nd grade classroom as a volunteer. (Being her father, I’m actually a draftee.) The school, about a dozen miles from my house, is 99% attended by children characterized as “English Learners.”

    Robert Bruce Thompson says:
    “I don’t have any problem with “minorities” of whatever skin color, sexual preference, etc. etc. I do have a problem with stupid and/or poor people, from whom I prefer to stay far away.”
    I agree in principle. In practice, they are one in the same.
    My grandchildren, prior to kindergarden, are having Dr. Seuss books read to them at bedtime in English by parents and grandparents with university degrees.
    The children at my daughter’s school have parents that can barely read in Spanish and have not the equivalent of a high school diploma.
    No, Arne Duncan’s “Critical Thinking” educational theology (another foolish faith based scheme) will not educate the ineducable.

  20. “I may be in denial but in actuality, all of Texas is fast becoming minority majority. Mostly Hispanic.”

    Part of the future Aztlan, no doubt; habla Espanol, Senor?

    And millions of now-poor people in the wunnerful United States of Amnesia didn’t used to BE poor, and are at present through no fault of their own. We’re not poor here, for example, but what if mine had been the only income for whatever reason? And my UI bennies ran out here the first of the year. What then? With a mortgage, a kid in college, two vehicles at the time, and the usual plethora of bills. Sure, I could work three or four part-time minimum-wage jobs and not sleep, and just about pay for the gas to get to them all. What if I wasn’t too bright, i.e., the sharpest knife in the drawer, and couldn’t get a business going, either on-site or on the net right away? Learn something new, go back to school, get training somewhere, with zero income each week? What if we also had a serious medical condition not covered by the zany patchwork of totally messed-up insurance and “healthcare” in this country now? Then they foreclose on the house. And then I get really sick, too, or I hurt myself hauling bricks at one of the part-time jobs. Or firewood outta the forest.

    Now we’re poor. We didn’t rob anybody; we didn’t steal anything; we didn’t hurt anybody; we played by all the rules; we had retirement accounts but ran through them to pay the bills; I’m an honorably discharged old veteran, etc., etc. But now we’re poor. And this makes us, what? Unlikable? Untouchables? Assholes?

    I remember when I was a verger at my old Episcopal parish, the biggest one in a city of 180,000 back in the 80s; I’d see these rich lawyers and stockbrokers on the Vestry put a dollar bill in the collection plates on Sunday mornings. Then I’d see a struggling single Hispanic mom, having taken a bus downtown from the projects with her kids, put in a fiver or a tenner, believing in tithing, and like the widow’s mite, probably a good chunk of her household budget. Then taking the bus back to the projects after the service. And you could see the disdain, contempt and loathing from the WASP suits in the front rows.

  21. RE: Native Spanish speakers with poor literacy

    I heard that several years ago. While the Mexican/Central/South American immigrants are fluent in SPEAKING Spanish they only READ/WRITE Spanish at about a 3rd or 4th grade level on average. So, translating all these complex documents, contracts, etc. into Spanish has really done much to help them comprehend them. They’re in the USA for a reason. They probably only attended school in their native country until they were old enough to help their family earn money and then they dropped out. Their knowledge of other subject areas (maths, sciences, etc.) is similarly lacking for similar reasons.

  22. Now we’re poor.

    No, you’re not. You’re temporarily inconvenienced. You’re smart, you work hard. You’ll get back to where you want to be.

  23. No, I didn’t mean literally we’re poor now; I meant in terms of the hypothetical narrative I had there, where a family like ours just runs up against a series of bad luck events and let’s be honest, State and corporate malfeasance and felonies, coupled with nationwide financial shenanigans and a major “healthcare” crisis. Of course we’re not actually poor now because Mrs. OFD is still working. And because we’re not seriously ill or injured and I, at least, can get treated at the VA; she’d have to go to the ER currently.

    My point was that it doesn’t take much these days to knock a previously middle-class or working-class family down the skids and then be totally messed up. So there are those kinds of poor, and then there are the poor who won’t or can’t get up out of that and have become beholden and addicted to the State’s endless largess, where they steal from Peter to pay Paul. And then pat themselves on the back for doing that. And they’ll take that money from Peter at gunpoint, being, as the late Murray Rothbard said, no better than “a band of thieves writ large.”

  24. WSJ nooz squirts to my iPhone just now:

    1.) Missouri gov sez state highway patrol will direct security in Ferguson.

    2.) Iraq’s PM, al-Maliki, is stepping down after eight years “in power.”

    So: what if the highway patrol can’t handle the stuff in Ferguson, either? Past historical events strongly suggest that the National Guard would then be called in. Maybe that way they can integrate all the mil-spec hardware lying around out there. Just a little historical note on the side here, for laughs: during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the 1968 Prague Spring events, “protestors,” or “rioters,” depending on who’s calling the names, also threw Molotov cocktails at police, security forces and Red Army tanks. I’m guessing those rioters out there in Missouri aren’t very well organized; what if they were? And knew how to hit security forces with guerrilla tactics?

    And: Now that al-Maliki is going out, and the ISIS maniacs are sweeping through the country with former U.S. mil-spec hardware, and probably defeating both Iraqi security forces and the Kurds, what next? As someone else wondered here; will they chase Kurds into Turkey? That would be interesting. What if Iran gets involved? What will our wonderful Israeli “friends” do? As Libya and Egypt and Syria become “failed states,” like Mexico? Gee, what can we do? Howzabout we watch, break out the snack items and cold beverages and enjoy the show, and otherwise stay the hell out completely.

    But no, our rulers are physiologically incapable of that. Watch them make a terrible situation much worse, as is their biggest talent.

  25. “Part of the future Aztlan, no doubt; habla Espanol, Senor?”

    Por cierto!

  26. Gawker has an article today that basically says the Ferguson cops are just trying to create matching actions to coordinate their snazzy camouflage outfits (Ferguson is a jungle?) and nifty toys dangling from their belts. It is kind of like improvising in a movie without a script. One former Iraq vet claimed a guy in one of the Ferguson pictures had more military stuff on him than that former soldier possessed when he was part of the initial Iraq invasion.

    Multiple separate instances of cops going after journalists and their crews, but the police chief says, “The media is not a target.” Got it chief! Just as truthful as Walter Ulbricht’s famous lie about East Germany in 1961: “We’re not building a wall here. We’re building houses and factories.”

  27. Speaking of Amazon, I am getting ripped off big time by them. With useful brick and mortar stores having left Tiny Town, and now requiring a drive of a good 30 miles, too quickly I got used to just ordering it from Amazon. But Amazon has my number. As I think I mentioned here before, I buy a lot of CD’s. I cannot buy a CD for less than $14.95 from Amazon anymore, whereas I have had my son check on certain CD’s and they will sell the same $14.95 CD to him for $11.95.

    I just bought two items from Amazon during the last couple weeks, and later found that Walmart sold one for $30 less than the cheapest on Amazon, and another that arrived today is $21 cheaper at Costco. Not only that, but the order that arrived today was promised in the order to be delivered next day, but it took 4 business days plus a weekend to get it, and I have Prime.

    That did it. I am headed to Indy tomorrow, and will buy a membership at Costco. Those rapes of me by Amazon will not be happening again. It is no bargain to be paying for a Prime membership, having to wait an average of 3 to 5 days, which is no better than before I had Prime (Prime was always next day during the 30 day trial, but has never been faster than standard delivery since I paid for the membership), PLUS having to pay top dollar for every purchase and then find out I could have gotten it elsewhere significantly cheaper.

    Costco, here I come!

  28. “One former Iraq vet claimed a guy in one of the Ferguson pictures had more military stuff on him than that former soldier possessed when he was part of the initial Iraq invasion.”

    It’s pretty funny but also kinda scary; I’ve seen SWAT officers with more stuff on them than I had as a machine gunner back in SEA. Of course I traveled as light as I could, due to the damn heat and humidity. Balko describes how they get a lot of their training from both active and otherwise military types, esp. spec ops people. Nice gig for a spec ops guy retiring or just getting out from under Uncle’s thumb and a chance to make some real cash. That and some Blackwater-type gigs and you can keep it going for quite a while.

    “…Just as truthful as Walter Ulbricht’s famous lie…”

    Haha, you know who he was, and I know who he was, and probably most everyone here knows, but damn, can you imagine running that by anyone else in Murka today? Anything at all about the Cold War? Peeps of my kids’ generation think and treat ‘Nam as ancient history, as old as Xerxes and Darius and all those mofos but they got a better movie out of it than we did. They see people of our parents’ generation and they figure WWII was around the same time as Grant taking Vicksburg. (DIL can’t place the War Between the States in the right century and can’t tell you the major combatants in the Good War.)

    On Amazon versus Costo: I have a Prime membership and Costco “Executive” both; I’ve had the former for years and nearly zero complaints; occasionally they’ve been a bit loose with the two-day shipping thing but usually that was because the order went through a third party. We don’t get to Costco much but should be making a trip soon; I’ll be keeping an eye on this up here. We also have the Wall-Mutt superstore, which is huge; frankly I dunno how they stay open; I could play a game of b-ball in there and have some trouble putting two teams together most weekdays that I’ve been. Also never more than two or three registers open, even though they have at least a dozen.

    When I get another truck I’ll be making regular Costco hauls and also heading down to that LDS outlet in MA while visiting family, kill a bunch of birds with one stone. I wanna get our storage capability up to snuff in the basement and attic first, though.

  29. re “habla Espanol”, you know a good way to piss off a south-of-the-borderer? Tell him you never bothered to learn Spanish because it’s a useless language. A dying language. A language with nothing useful written in it since El Cid*. A language whose native speakers seem unable to win Nobel Prizes, except the pity prizes like Literature or Economics.

    * I don’t care for Don Quixote and don’t understand why the misadventures of a deranged fuckhead are considered great literature. Maybe I’m just too simplisme to understand the subtle genius.

  30. I had to look up Ulbricht’s famous lie, and Ulbricht himself. In my defense, his famous lie was two years before I was born and the details of the Communist takeover of half of Europe and most of Asia weren’t ever discussed in great detail in any schooling I had. I did take one course on the USSR in college, as one of ROTC’s requirements, but the two professors (two were needed because no one person could be such a fatuous fuckhead) were of the “the Communists are mostly misunderstood and Russia and the Soviet Union got so big not because they attack their neighbors but because they’re afraid of being attacked” ilk.

  31. In Volkshochschule German classes, they showed us documentaries that included Ulbricht’s famous line. There was a lot more to it, because it was a glorious lying description of how exciting and dynamic East Germany was, with factories and workers busy everyday in a place where life was idyllic.

    All while this big wall was going up, being built by hand — not machines. Jobs for everybody, that’s for sure.

  32. Great minds think alike. And never mind the damn corollary.

    “… it’s a useless language. A dying language. A language with nothing useful written in it since El Cid*.”

    Agreed. And if you dig poetry, you can read Octavio Paz in translation anyway. I am also not big on the Quixote but will manfully try to wend my way through it at some point; just for points of literary comparison, he was a contemporary of the Shakespeare dude. Whose stuff is read and watched now???

    “…the details of the Communist takeover of half of Europe and most of Asia weren’t ever discussed in great detail in any schooling I had.”

    I lucked out in middle and high school classes; I had several WWII veteran teachers, one of whom had been machine-gunned in the legs and wore those old-school leg braces and clanked and limped heavily when he walked. Another one had been a U.S. Army Air Corps POW in German stalags for three years. All of them were violently anti-Communist; a third teacher I had in seventh-grade referred to the hippie protesters as beatniks and Vietniks. They gave out the full scoop on what an evil system Communism was; later, when I had Russian Studies in high school we got the nuts-and-bolts analysis of exactly how their system operated, both “legally” and otherwise.

    It didn’t come up much for me during college and grad skool, for obvious reasons; by then the rotten children of the Glorious Sixties had achieved tenure and taught either from the Lenin-Stalin mode of thought, or Chairman Mao’s. They trashed the capitalist system while raking in all its bennies and still do. Scum. To the wall.

  33. Here’s another anomaly. Or maybe mystery is a better word. I have 12 windows in Tiny House (except for bedrooms, every room has double or triple side-by-side windows). House next door has 10. I just watched out my window as a guy started at 13:30 and replaced all the windows in that house with double-hung replacements (which is what I have and what I want). He left the site, job completed at 16:15. (He was good, and fast.)

    Now after my dad passed, I had quite a bit of work done to Tiny House, because it was looming stuff that my dad had put off and my mom was not capable of dealing with it. I paid the construction guy I used (whole family used him over the years) $15/hr for everything he did, including installing central air located in the attic.

    Cheapest estimate I have gotten for replacing all the windows is $9,800. Okay, I can get the windows custom-made at Menard’s for about $250/each, which includes all the materials to install them. That’s $3000. My workman guy is no longer available, having drunk himself to death about 3 years ago (he was on the wagon when he did all of my work, but had medical issues that made drinking a threat to his life, however, he decided to go back to drinking anyway). Let’s give him a generous wage increase and say he wanted $25/hr nowadays, and it would take 5 hours, instead of less than 3 that the whiz did next door did it in. That’s $125. So my windows should be $3,125. Not $9,800 and up.

    Having seen that guy do the job, I could do it myself, except I would have to be at least 20 years younger and given at least twice the time. That guy obviously was not a beginner and has done that job a few times, if not every day of the week. About 15 minutes per window and he took no breaks until the job was done.

    Even if there were a $1,500 or $2,000 difference, I could accept the expense, but I sure cannot justify $6,000.

  34. Now that is very interesting stuff, Mr. Chuck; because it so happens that we are looking to replace at least half of our windows on this house, all pretty old and beat-up and noisy rattlers in any breeze at all, and a joke in the winter when cold air blasts through here. (we put up that plastic stuff last winter, a royal PITA.)

    We would also probably be getting the windows ourselves and then having a workman put them in; no idea what the going rate is here but we’ll find out. We need eight windows done ASAP; another eight soon after that.

    Meanwhile we’re getting ceiling panels from the Lowe’s up here and looking for a guy (or gal, whatever) to slap those up for us in the living room. (previously damaged when Mrs. OFD put her leg through a heating vent box upstairs and all the way through, knocking said box down onto stuff below and creating quite a mess. If I had fallen through, I would have gone completely, being about seventy pounds heavier.)

    So I guess we’ll be finding out who’s honest, who’s not, who will do us a solid, etc.

  35. For more than a decade here, I have touted that English is the most superior language on the planet. Even simpler tribal languages of Africa are no match, because English is particularly suited to dealing with science.

    One probably does not really grasp this until you teach English to non-speakers as a second language. There is no reason in the world for any language to respect a gender for all things, so that takes out every other Western language except Dutch, which I guess dropped gender in modern times. Not sure whether gender is required for Asian languages — maybe Steve or OFD can comment.

    The other thing that puts English above all others, is that it is both highly descriptive, while being very difficult to be misunderstood. Non-native speakers can butcher a sentence pretty soundly, but still get the meaning across. I see that all the time on the radio automation forum. Probably more than half of those corresponding are foreigners to English and can butcher it pretty well, but no one has any problems dealing with their broken English. However, just misplace the position of a verb or invert direct and indirect object in a German sentence, and the listener will throw up their hands, having not even a remote idea of what you are trying to say. Mix up English and it is still no problem to decipher.

    Studies have also been conducted and found conclusively that English is both the easiest language to learn and the cheapest to teach to a basic communication level. This is why the Chinese are learning English, instead of English-speakers learning Chinese variants. No matter how close we become with the Chinese, English is going to be the language used, because the Chinese can learn a useful level of English far, far faster than an English-speaker can learn Chinese. Back when I was teaching English, we used to get regular information on all of this, and the touchstone was how long it took an adult to achieve a proficiency level good enough to teach the language to others. For English that number was 3 years (if using the language daily while learning it). For learning Chinese it was in the area of 10 to 12 years. European languages were a little longer than English; Slavic languages (including Russian) were about 5 to 6 years (Russian and Polish both have many more cases than even gender-specific languages like German and French). Never saw info on African languages, and I forget what Arabic and Farsi were.

    As far as Spanish goes, young Hispanics around here have no problem with bilingual skills. Studies also consistently show that bilingual people and those who study, play, and listen to music, have higher IQ’s, a higher level of cognitive abilities, and are less susceptible to dementia in old age.

    I only know Europe, but southern Europe lacks English skills. Not so with northern Europe, though. The farther north you go, the better their English is — including Iceland. Danes, Norwegians, Swedish, Dutch can all speak English as well as we can, because they do not dub television shows or movies anymore, so most of their television and films are in English. Powerful incentive to learn.

  36. Not sure whether gender is required for Asian languages — maybe Steve or OFD can comment.

    Chinese and Japanese, no. Korean, I think no. (Moments later: a quick web search confirms this.) Arabic, yes. Russian, yes. I don’t know any other Asian languages. (To clarify, I’m not fluent in any of those. I can get along in Chinese and used to be able to get along in Japanese. The others I learned enough for military purposes and getting directions and such.)

  37. @ Chuck W:

    Back in ’99 I had ten single, single-hung replacement windows installed by one young guy who did 95% of the work plus an older helper whose main function seemed to be fetching and carrying and handing the first guy tools. Elapsed time, including installing new facings and removing and carting off the old windows: approx. eight hours. Total cost $3500. Given inflation, doing it today would probably cost at least double that.

    Keeping in mind that this was 15 years ago in the (relatively cheaper) deep south, factoring in the number and type of windows you plan to replace and your geographic location, $9,800 may not be out of line.

  38. Dutch and Frisian are probably the closest Euro languages to English.

    As for amount of time necessary to learn a language and teach it others, I believe Mr. Chuck has the ballpark figures, Arabic also taking a very long time in that regard. But someone like Princess comes along and throws all that into whack. She’s 22 and has seven or eight languages fluently, including Brazilian Portuguese, German, Russian, Chinese and Italian. Throw in French, Greek and Spanish. She’s thinking of “picking up” some Urdu soon. Tell her she has to learn Swahili or Thai next week and she will. It’s insane. Can also play a variety of musical instruments and sing.

    We won’t get into her behavior; I’ve covered that item before here.

    I had Latin and French in high school and grad school but don’t use them much, so you know what happens then, amirite? Also had some Vietnamese but lost most of that long ago, ditto Khmer and Laotian. I went to three months of language school for Thai during my time with Uncle in SEA so I remember more of that, and used it daily for a year, often exclusively, out in the boonies.

    But having read Mr. Chuck’s latest post on English, boy am I glad I majored in it and went to grad school for it, too. The Master Language of the Universe. God speaks English; it says so in the KJV.

    I’m now reading Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales for bedtime these nights, in Middle English, with facing-page modern English “translation.” More of a glossary, actually. It’s been a while; my main reading in that era back in school was with the minor poets and what they call “Lallans Scots,” as exemplified, for instance, in Gavin Douglas’s version of the Aeneid. (“Aeneados”) And his “Palice of Honor.”

    I had Old English in grad school, too; the prof made us translate back and forth with modern English and also back and forth with Latin. He kicked our asses. Spoken it sounds a lot like German.

    I have a whole library here of all this medieval stuff still. I sometimes riffle through it and wonder at what might have been.

  39. “…factoring in the number and type of windows you plan to replace and your geographic location, $9,800 may not be out of line.”

    Damn, not what I wanted to hear.

    I was told, however, that when MIL sells her house down in Montpeculiar up here, she’ll spring for us to replace our windows. (she may end up living her last years here anyway, and then we’ll need a downstairs bathroom, too).

  40. Upper left corner of Drudge right now has several stories on the militarization of police in this country; it’s long been outta control.

    I said twenty years ago online that our cops were becoming soldiers and our soldiers were becoming cops.

    I had a close-up and personal view of that forty years ago going from military police and spec ops to cop shops back here, in the days when we all still carried revolvers and billy clubs and often walked foot beats alone with shitty radios and long times waiting for backups.

  41. “Which is that in the worst case that ISIS succeeds in establishing a sprawling caliphate, they will never be able to govern it successfully, only preside over an awesome episode of bloodletting and social collapse. This is especially true in what is now called Saudi Arabia, with its sclerotic ruling elite clinging to power. If and when the ISIS maniacs come rolling in on a cavalcade of You-Tube beheading videos, what are the chances that the technicians running the oil infrastructure there will stick around on the job? And could ISIS run all that machinery themselves? I wouldn’t count on it. And I wouldn’t count on global oil supply lines continuing to function in the way the world requires them to. If you’re looking for the near-future spark of World War Three, start there.”

  42. Whoa! Hot night. I’m just about to hit the sack and find out there are demonstrations mounting all over the US, including in Times Square.

    Lotta good old Mr. Vacation-off-the-Cape did today. Made things worse.

  43. My youngest niece was born in China, and spoke only Mandarin until she was just past five, when she was adopted and brought to the US. It took her ~ 2 years to get ‘comfortably fluent’ in US English. But having done so, she refuses to speak any Chinese, and when she got out of eighth grade she won the prize for best Spanish. I agree that English is fast becoming the (pardon the pun) Lingua Franca for the 21st Century, but also acknowledge that if a person speaks both English & Spanish well, he or she has covered almost all of the Western Hemisphere.

    [snip] God speaks English; it says so in the KJV. [snip]
    One really good way to offend many Baptists is to remind them that Jesus didn’t speak with the diction and vocabulary of early 17th Century England. But be warned, you’ll often get the ‘You’re going to Hell’ finger shake move when you do this.

  44. “Lotta good old Mr. Vacation-off-the-Cape did today. Made things worse.”

    I believe he was actually on the Vineyard; that’s where the upper crust types vacation, esp. the ones of his ethnicity, usually in the town of Oak Bluffs, where they congregate. And there is perception versus reality: sure, it looks bad for the President to be playing golf and swimming in that oh-so-icy ocean wottuh while bad chit happens at home and around the world, but OTOH, he could only make things MUCH worse by being in Mordor and “directing” events and shooting his yap off. He and Holder have already done some damage along those lines in their comments.

    “…Jesus didn’t speak with the diction and vocabulary of early 17th Century England. But be warned, you’ll often get the ‘You’re going to Hell’ finger shake move when you do this.”

    Any Christians who actually believe Jesus spoke like Queen Elizabeth (rather than King James himself, who had a nearly unintelligible Scots accent) are either willfully stupid or illiterate. Do they also believe King David and Adam spoke like that? I have yet to run into someone like this, but then I live in the enlightened Northeast of the country which is rife with Catholics and educated Protestants.

    We had us some strong winds here last night and temps in the low 50s; overcast so fah this morning; off to get Mrs. OFD and our cah. Have a nice day, y’all!

  45. Window quality makes a big difference in price. We just had 14 windows replaced. Triple glazing, security glass, metal outsides so that they will never need the exterior painted. Stainless steel spacers, because aluminum conducts heat too well and can cause condensation problems. All this makes them probably 2-3 times as expensive as low-end, double-glazed windows. FWIW, we could’t afford to replace all our windows at once, so we’ve done them a few at a time over the years. The really rotten ones went first; this was the last batch.

    This doesn’t make sense for Chuck: he’s not planning on staying there, and he wouldn’t get the money back out of top-end windows. Anything halfway decent will still look “new” when he sells.

    But OFD, planning to be in his house indefinitely? It’s worth paying more for better…

  46. Chuck probably won’t get back the cost of even cheap windows when he sells. Better to sell as-is.

  47. I’ve been saying for years that Chuck’s been throwing good money after bad.

  48. Looks like that kid in Ferguson was not as nice as they say:

    “A police report indicates that Brown was a “primary suspect” in the robbery that took place the day he was fatally shot. According to the report, Brown got physical with the convenience story employee over a box of cigars worth $48.99 he was trying to steal.”

    I would say that they are trying to make him look bad but there are pictures. Big, big kid. Little clerk.

    Doesn’t look like Obummer was his father.

  49. Damn health profession. Largely thanks to Obama and his disaster health plan.

    My wife has a kidney stone and is needing lithotripsy to help solve the issue. Now hospitals want their money up front before they will allow the procedure to proceed. No pay, no stay. Before you could have the services rendered, be billed, and pay over time. Not anymore. With a $4,000 deductible and $8,000 maximum out of pocket it is tough to come with that kind of money on fairly short notice.

    Not only does the hospital want their money before they will allow the procedure, they called on a Friday night, about 7:30 PM and demanded payment. Who in the hell calls at that time of the evening to demand payment for a procedure that has not even occurred?

    All of this because of Obamacare and people getting all sort of things done because they think that someone else will pay. Hospitals were getting stiffed by these losers and have now adjusted their procedures. Some more “Change” that did not work out so well. Thanks Obama. You are a clueless idiot with not enough intelligence to wipe your own ass.

  50. Doesn’t look like Obummer was his father.


    I watched an interview with the family’s “lawyer”, supposedly the same guy Trayvon’s family used. No wonder they lost. The guy could barley put two words together. Maybe he needs a teleprompter.

  51. Not only does the hospital want their money before they will allow the procedure, they called on a Friday night, about 7:30 PM and demanded payment. Who in the hell calls at that time of the evening to demand payment for a procedure that has not even occurred?

    She could go in through the ER?

    Funding hospitals in definitely becoming a nightmare. My only solution here is to put the entire citizenry on Medicare and sort the entire mess out. It will take years, maybe a decade.

    My father-in-law’s in hospital care medicare has run out and the VA refuses to pay for the nursing home. So, he is paying the $3,000 every two weeks himself for the nursing home. It is expensive to get old!

  52. VA refuses to pay for the nursing home

    He should still get some assistance, about $1K a month, for self paid care. My aunt did for assisted living which is self paid and not much different than a nursing home. You need to have a talk with the VA again. Something is not right.

  53. “But OFD, planning to be in his house indefinitely? It’s worth paying more for better…”

    Yes. And yes.

    I try to explain this regularly to Mrs. OFD, who likes to get out of stuff as cheaply as possible; this has burned us in the past, which I will remind her of, naturally.

    Sorry to hear of the hassle down in TN, Ray; I hope there is some way to resolve that; can she get anything done through your VA account?

  54. My FIL gets a monthly payment from the VA since he is 100% disabled. That has been going on for almost 50 years now. The wife is going to see if he gets any additional payments when she gets some free time.

  55. Having been a window-washer for many years, I strongly recommend the best windows you can afford. Quality of workmanship is correlated to price. Pella and Anderson stick out.

    But whatever brand you purchase, get an iron clad replacement guarantee, labor included, in the event condensation forms between the panes.

  56. Thanks, Jim, and to the others here who’ve chimed in with good info/intel on window replacement.

    Now if only we could get a decent Windows Replacement! Linux got a lotta servers but nearly zip on the desktops so fah. And it got a buncha phones and embedded stuff, I guess.

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