Friday, December 28, 2012

Yet another week in the hospital...

I might have known there'd be complications after the hydrocele surgery. A week after the surgery, things started swelling. By Friday Dec. 14th I was running a fever near 104 degrees. I hit the ER, got admitted, and spent the next 10 days in the hospital. I lost track of all the antibiotics that got dripped into me, the names of the nursing staff, the uneaten meals.

I didn't sleep much, couldn't focus well enough to read, and barely used my laptop (that's some pretty serious trouble, there).

Then I had to go BACK into surgery to get the infected stuff taken out. More antibiotics, daily dressing changes, and home on the 24th.

So much for the simple outpatient operation, a couple of weeks' worth of recovery. I don't even know where, how or when things started going bad. They just went bad fast--and this is after an in-hospital outpatient surgery with all the precautions. It just cements my attitude that it's stupid to risk an infection with a "do-it-yourself" approach. DO NOT try it at home.

I'll be getting daily IV antibiotics at least through Jan. 10 and daily visits to the Wound Care Clinic to get the dressings changed. Considering that last year's kidney removal took about 2 months in Wound Care, it might be March before I'm done with them this time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Song of the Day: Working Man (Rush)

The guys will finally be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame! Fans have been grumbling and agitating for this since at least the early 1990s.

How better to celebrate than by doing the same song--from different ends of their career?

Here's "Working Man" back in 1974, when it was Alex Lifeson (guitars), Geddy Lee (bass, vocals), and John Rutsey (drums):

...and during their most recent tour, 2011's Time Machine, with Lifeson, Lee, and Neil Peart (drums):

Congratulations, fellas!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Good Times, Bad Times, You Know I Had My Share...

Lots of medical stuff happening, finally.

Ever since I got bumped from Florida's "Medically Needy" program in July of 2011, I've been coasting along on the MediPass program instead. In theory, at least, I've got the same coverage, except that everything has to go through my MediPass doctor, who I only get to see every three months.

If I need to see any of my established doctors (vascular surgeon, urologist, kidney mechanic), I have to call (and call and call and call) the County Clinic and hope that I'll get the Physicians' Assistant--or that she'll reply to my voice mail. So far, I've never gotten a successful referral by phone. I always end up having to wait until the next actual physical face-to-face can't avoid me this time visit with the County Doc.

I'd been trying to get a referral for a urology visit since this past May, but it wasn't until I was in the room with "Dr. County" (or "Dr. Useless") that I finally got two referrals--one for a CT scan to see what my torn aorta has been up to, one for the urologist. I got the CT referral in two days.

The urology referral took more than two months.

CT scan results were bad. My remaining kidney can't handle the iodine contrast required for a vascular CT, so all the CT showed is that my aorta has enlarged significantly from the top of the arch down to the pass-through in the diaphragm. Without the contrast, there's no way to see the dissection.

I had a copy of the report sent to the vascular doc, but I can't go see him without...a referral.

Remember all that horseshit from Republicans screeching about the evils of Obamacare, that it would mean the government getting between you and your doctor?

Well, the reality is that Florida's MediPass system--currently being misadministered by Republicans--is between me and my doctors.

So I have yet to hear back on my calls trying to get someone to write me a referral for this one.

Stuff really started rolling in November, though.

First, Nobel Peace Prize Winner President Obama kicked ass, took names, and humiliated a bunch of billionaires and Mitt Romney. Nothing to do with the medical stuff, but gawddamn it still feels good.

I got a call from the urologist's office, went in, and started the ball (hehehe) rolling to say goodbye to my little friend after a bit more than three humiliating years. Surgery was yesterday. Sore as hell (feels like I took a knee to the groin), can't sleep, walking like a crab, sitting very very carefully. I keep having to reassure myself it's finally gone. For anyone thinking of the do-it-yourself approach, it's just not worth the effort. Aside from the risk of infection, the damn thing will just keep coming back. I've been there, with no medical coverage and unable to pay for much more than a single doctor visit. I was told that the doc's fee alone would be about $1500 for less than an hour's work. Then there's the anesthesia, the hospital fees, and all that. That was in May of 2010, before high blood pressure damaged my aorta and put me onto Disability and Medicaid. Until then, I was making just above minimum wage and couldn't afford my company's medical coverage. Sucks that I had to go through all that to be able to get treated for a hydrocele. Here's hoping that the Affordable Care Act will get everyone at least a start toward medical coverage they can actually pay for.

In the "even better" column, a week ago I got a notification of "Case Action" from the Department of Children and Families advising me that I'm back on the "Medically Needy" program as of January 1, 2013. I'll be able to just go to my regular doctors again, flash my Medicaid card, and that's that. No referrals. I've also gotten a mess of medical insurance paperwork, brochures, booklets, and such that I need to go through. Apparently I'm eligible for Medicare coverage of some sort. I don't think it's Obamacare related, given that the chucklehead governor of Florida is still trying to weasel the state out of participation even after voters killed, killed KILLED a mess of state constitutional amendment proposals, including one that would "override" Obamacare (hahahahaha). Whatever it is, it's a State program. Wouldn't be surprised to find that it's linked financially to Governor Chucklehead, the way the drug-tests-for-State-aid clinics are.

Nice little boondoggle he set up: if you want any State aid (medical, food stamps, etc.) you have to submit to a pee test. You pay for the test yourself. If you pass it, the State--not the clinic you paid, but the State--reimburses you. Chucklehead co-founded a drug-testing company called Solantic back in 2001, then handed it over to his wife just before he took office in Florida. Chucklehead (even indirectly) makes money off you, the taxpayers pay you back.

Good news is, only 2 more years of him. Maybe by the time he's gone I'll have read through all those brochures and such.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Song of the Day: Take Five, RIP Big Dave Brubeck

One day short of 92. Here's the song I most associate with Brubeck, though it was written by Brubeck Quartet member Paul Desmond.

I've heard several interesting variations on this song. There's this reggae-ish version that was used as the theme song for "The Secret Lives of Machines" which morphed the song into 4/4 time instead of its normal 5/4.

The other one I can remember off the top of my head was at a Chinese restaurant, played using Asian instruments.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pic of the Day: Lonely Days Ahead...

Nearly 2 weeks after having his Chair Surface Interface Unit handed to him, the MittBot was seen wandering in the wilds of Suburbia, simulating ordinary people things such as pumping gas.

Keep your distance. He looks there's a body hidden somewhere. Or like Bruce Campbell headed home from a bad day of filming the next "Evil Dead" sequel.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Joseph Farah should Self-Deport

Whiny Wingnut Daily founder and all-around insane Obama-hater Joey "I DESPISE DEMOCRACY!!" Farah is calling for secession. Just can't stand Obama's big, huge, massive Republican-crushing landslide.

How 'bout you and your idiot followers on WND--and the rest of the teabaggers and fundies--just renounce your citizenship and piss off to one of the many theocratic paradises this earth has to offer? I mean, you've already got so much in common with your America-hating Taliban brothers (i.e., you hate America, you America-haters) that you might as well go live with them.

Leave. Leave now, you traitor. We'll be alright without you.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pic of the Day: Too Bad We Can't Clone Sherman...

...and send an army of him out to deal with the sudden influx of stupid people screeching for secession in the wake of Obama's massive landslide ass-whipping victorious crushing beat-down of...uh...that loser. Can't remember his name, but it was last week.

(credit: dengre) You whiny little shits tried secession about 150 years ago. This fellow bulldozed some of your real estate. You lost, but never learned your lesson.

Let's put it this way: you don't get to leave just because you don't get your fucking way. Too many of you idiots live in states that take in more in federal money than they pay out in taxes (and yet YOU leeches bitch about paying too much). This is a democratic republic, not an autocracy, not a kindergarten sandbox.

I'd say we pick one such state and let 'em go, then give all the whiny losers in the remaining ones a few weeks to move there, but more importantly to give the intelligent people who know better time to move out. Build a wall or fence around it, cut all the roads and bridges, cut the power lines and any other infrastructure. No more federal money. Any federal property--especially military bases--gets bombed into uselessness. If an oil pipeline or other resource runs into the former state, reroute it.

Imagine that. A conservative paradise--you could call it Reaganistan (we Americans will call you Dumbfuckistan). No more FEMA, no more taxes to the IRS, no Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, Obamacare, and you can put allll the old white men in office you want. You can set up a "fuck you, I got mine" economy of your own.

Assuming you realize that you fucked up (being wingnuts and all) and beg to be let back in, first thing is that you have to pay back, with interest, all the federal money you've ever glommed on to, all the way back to the LAST time you threw a tantrum in the 1860s. Clean slate.

An alternative would be to go through the list of goobers who signed those pro-secession petitions--some 500,000 goobers across all 50 states--strip them of their citizenship and deport them. Don't know where they'd go, though. I can't imagine a country that would have them. dumbasses could tough it out and grow the hell up. The country doesn't just belong to you.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Song of the Week: Landslide (Smashing Pumpkins)

Dedicated to the losing sore losers who lost (and who are still trying to understand how their wishful thinking and massive piles of cash failed to manipulate reality into a more compliant shape)--and to those who freaked out and made asses of themselves--Victoria "America died" Jackson; Donald "revolt!!" Trump; Ted "crying tears of blood" Nugent; that idiot girl in Georgia who said she's moving to Australia only to be advised that Australia won't have her; the Libertarian dork who's vowed to un-friend, disown, hate and be a dick to any and all Democrats on his Facebook, in his family, and in every social situation from now on; and especially the billionaires who blew metric tons of cash and got...NOTHING!!!! (bwahahahaha)

Not the bittersweet Fleetwood Mac original, but the annoying, grating Billy Corgan's cover.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fifty-One States?

Puerto Ricans voted Tuesday on an important issue of their own: whether to join the United States, go independent, or establish a sovereign free association.

Statehood won, but not without division--the pro-statehood governor was kicked out.

His replacement is planning a constitutional assembly in 2014.

I didn't know how a state joins the union--good thing there's an Internet!

Update: Excellent breakdown of the situation at Daily Kos: Puerto Rico--Statehood and Status.

Florida's Sensible Party Wins!

In Florida, there were some ballot items that were almost as important as the presidential race.

The pissy wingnuts in the Legislature, Governor Scumbag, and their masters the Koch brothers were hoping to oust three FL Supreme Court Justices who ruled against the state's efforts to block Obama's Affordable Care Act.

Governor Scumbag can't fire the justices directly, but he was hoping to use Florida's "merit retention" to get the voters to axe the three so he could appoint some more compliant justices. I hadn't known that this was linked to the Koch scumbags, but it's not surprising.

At any rate, we the voters ruled that the justices get to keep thwarting the Tallahassee dirtbags.

The other good news is that a whole mess of wingnut state constitutional amendments failed--and they failed badly. These were pretty standard teabagger items--exemption from the Affordable Care Act, an attempt to lower the wall separating church and state, capping the state's ability to collect taxes, and the obligatory anti-abortion stuff.

In two years, that hairless teabagger grifting fraudster will be out as governor. Nice to know that at least some of his agenda has been crushed.

His teabagger pals, as expected, are gonna double down. Losing didn't teach them a thing.

Let The WHINING Begin!

Salon has served up a list of the top 20 whiniest, crybabiest, pearl-cluthingest, fainting-couchiest sore losers in the Twitterverse from last night's handing of the asses.

I saw a few bits of Twitterrhea just after NBC called the election for Obama in which MittBot supporters despair for America now. One favorite bit was seeing them crying over the electoral votes vs. popular--at one point, the MittBot was slightly up in the popular vote and the Twitterers were screeching, "HEY! Romney won the popular vote!! The Electoral College should be struck down!! OBAMA LOOOOOST!!!! WAAAAAAAAH!" Then Obama's numbers got updated and *poof* those screechers filled their diapers.

Time to whip out the diapers and pacifiers.

Update: You wanna see an epic freak-out and meltdown of a particularly unpleasant schmuck who's announced that he's going to unfriend/shun/abuse any and all Democrats in his FaceBook/family/friends/environment? I direct your attention to this guy, stamping his little Libertarian feet and screeching like an emo teenager in what Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice calls a "squid cloud of butthurt"; I won't link directly to him, though. He might SHUN me. 9_9   Here's a taste:

I strongly urge all other libertarians to do the same. Are you married to someone who voted for Obama, have a girlfriend who voted ‘O’. Divorce them. Break up with them without haste. Vow not to attend family functions, Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas for example, if there will be any family members in attendance who are Democrats…
If I meet a Democrat in my life from here on out, I will shun them immediately. I will spit on the ground in front of them, being careful not to spit in their general direction so that they can’t charge me with some stupid little nuisance law. Then I’ll tell them in no un-certain terms: “I do not associate with Democrats. You all are communist pigs, and I have nothing but utter disgust for you. Sir/Madam, you are scum of the earth.” Then I’ll turn and walk the other way.
"Squid cloud of butthurt" indeed! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Just felt like writing it again.


...and now 4 more years of teabag tears. Bwahahahaha!

So which will the teabaggers do first? The circular firing squad, where they turn on each other...

...or the self-destructive, emo approach?

Glad to see that Allen "War Criminal" West lost his bid for reelection. Deadbeat Dad Joe "owes $100,000 in child support" Walsh lost.

Bachmann's only 400-ish votes ahead of her Democratic challenger. [unfortunately, she won. Pity. The funniest thing I read about her was some crying conservative claiming that ol' Crazy Eyes coulda beat Obama. She couldn't even beat ROMNEY.]

The Party of Rape faction didn't do well, either--"Legitimate Rape" Akin lost. "Gawd intended" Mourdock lost. Still waiting to see how the rest of those insane bastards fared.

[UPDATE--speaking of insane bastards, Roy "10 Commandments" Moore got his old job back as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He says he's not bringing the big stone 10C's monument with him.]

[UPDATE--speaking of circular firing squads, the first name has been selected, and it's...Chris Christie!!]

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tell it to the next hurricane...

Bunch of idiots chanting "USA! USA! USA!" shouting down a guy heckling the ShitMitt about climate change....

All that hot air and wishful thinking should deflect the next hurricane or other natural disaster. Just put 'em all right where Jim "The Hurricane Will Hit HERE" Cantore shows up.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pic of the Day: Bee-Essin' MittBot

Obama called it and the professional pearl-clutchers of the wingnutsphere proceeded to the fainting couches, the poor little darlings.

“You know, kids have good instincts,” Obama offered. “They look at the other guy and say, ‘Well, that’s a bullshitter, I can tell.’”...

CRY, wingnuts, CRY.

Bonus Obama bodyslam for the Ayn Rand worshippin' Granny Starver:

Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we’d pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we’re only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we’re considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity – that that’s a pretty narrow vision.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pic of the Day--Romney Gets Pwned

Obama roped this dope at last night's debate.

He kinda looks like a real-life Elmer Fudd.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pic of the Day: Ryan, Intellectual Heavyweight

I've heard people claiming that Granny Starver is the intellectual hero of the Republicans.

Given how much of an empty suit he is, and how his numbers don't add up, this is absolutely correct.

He summarizes the Republican party perfectly.

And turn that goddamn cap around, you douchebag! You look like you've been sitting in the back room at Gumby's Pizza, waiting to go on your next delivery run.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pic of the Day: They sneak up on ya.

If only there were a way to...predict...the behavior of a hurricane, then the scourge of random attacks would end!

I blame Obama.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pic of the Day: Boehner won't cry...

Don't know who to credit it to. Just gloating over the below-8% unemployment numbers and savoring the Orange Man's tears.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Pic of the Day: Republicans!

Brought to you by the various gopper mouthpieces yapping indignantly over the newly-released Unemployment numbers, which went below 8% in horrible defiance of the goppers' insistence that they'd never never never ever EVARRRR!!!!! do that.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pic of the Day: ZingBot! (slight return)

I'm sure mine aren't as zingy as the ZingBot's. I wasn't programmed for the deep humor he's known for.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pic of the Day: ZingBot Unleashed!

All tremble in terror! That Obama guy is toast.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pic of the Day: Zingers!

For the upcoming first debate between President Obama and the abject corporate vulture who wants to acquire the White House, the MittBot has been uploading "zingers" he hopes to employ at strategeric moments.

Gonna snap on Obama, unsettle him, make himself seem cool.


Here's a suggestion for him:

That'll get 'im.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pic of the Day: Weeping Liberty

Screenshot from tonight's "Doctor Who."

Badass--especially in the way this shot is set up, just before the Big Reveal.

Yeah, about that...

It seems like only two days ago that I wrote, "I'm gonna try one Motivational a day till the elections."

Hasn't happened--but I'll just do what a Republican would do, and blame someone else.

Goddammit, Romney, this is your fault!

(so now I'm only one behind.)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Song of the Day: "Oh...Sweet Jesus" (Joe Scarborough)


Warms my cold, black atheist heart, like a litter of newborn kittens, seeing Joe's reaction. Michael Tomasky's got a well-written gloat of his own at The Daily Beast.

Couldn't rMoney dredge up some of his old mad cheerleadin' skilz to whip the crowd up into a *yawn*

I'm gonna try one Motivational a day till the elections. Mitt has become my muse. He'd better not wreck it like a company or his campaign.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pic of the Day: The Mittenberg

Gotta say, I'm loving the explosive decompression that's hit the Romney campaign since he brought Ryan aboard, especially with Ryan getting all the cheers from the audience even as Mittens tries to get the focus back on himself.

On the one hand, DAYUM but that's harsh, happening at your own rally.

On the other, I can't find any sympathy in storage for the Vulture Capitalist who's made his millions wrecking peoples' lives and selling American jobs overseas. I'd love to see him and his fellow scumbags reduced to living in refrigerator boxes--and then see them evicted.

Pretty awesome watching them torching their own.

The Mitt, the Mitt, the Mitt is on fire...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pic of the Day: Romney forget it

Yeah, something stupid, what the hell is his problem, good news for Obama, and like that.

Took me too long in GIMP getting the text tool to work properly, so this better be as funny as I thought it'd be an hour ago. Dammit.

His techs really need to dump MittOS (an obvious resource hog, and unstable as hell) and hack some kind of Linux into him. He'd have to lose his proprietary Priveleged Asshole scripting environment--but he'd have Mah Jongg, which would make him more fun to be around.

They could load him with the Android OS, but that'd be kind of meta--and he'd have to pay George Luca$ royalties every time he said "DROID" at startup. Besides, the App Store really utterly SUCKS now that you have to set up a GMail account.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pic of the Day: For Pedro's Sake!

So the MittBot went on Univision to impress the Hispanic community and to let them know he has acquired empathy for them, and that he is the superior unit for installation in el Casa Blanca come January 20, 2013.

One of his aides claims he was just "sunburned," but it could have been a make-up artist going dark on his face, or the Bot really needs to change his desktop, or he was trying to blend in with the brown folks to show that empathy he's acquired.

I made this to help him. He can thank me by shuffling a stack of $20's my way.

Bonus--made this one because of the "suntanned Mitt":

(...ermahgerd explained here...)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pic of the Day: Bwahahaha!

This is getting to be a daily occurrence as the MittBot's programming proves ever less capable of parsing the real world for him.

Best quote of the day: Lawrence O'Donnell opened his "The Last Word" with "Mitt Romney is drowning in stupid people..."

De Niro nails it:

Sunday, September 2, 2012

CAD Projects: X-11 Decals

In a fit of boredom, I decided to work up a set of decals for a guy in the X-11 Group. Didn't take very long before I'd reproduced the door and spoiler "X-11" and hood "Alta Potencia V6" emblems for his '85 X-11 project:

I'd never seen the Spanish version of the X-11 "High Output V6" emblem before.

It took about an hour to hash out the basics, but I had to go back a few times to fix some things and get the solid color fill worked out in QCAD. I was originally going to export the drawings as Scalable Vector Graphics (.SVG) files and color them in a freebie vector illustration program called InkScape, but I didn't like the results. Did the coloring in QCAD instead.

I was still bored, so I drew up the "X-11" door and spoiler logos for '81-84 models:

Not bad for a weeks' worth of work. I still need to do the English "High Output" drawing and a "Chevrolet" to round out the '85 decal set. Anyone who's subscribed to the X-11 Group can find copies of the drawings there (under Files in the Members Only section). At this point, the sets are in CAD .DXF and .SVG formats; no idea what formats an actual print shop would want, but they should be able to work with what's there.

Gear Review: The Tux, pt. 2

So I've had the FirstAct Overload BB391--or simply "The Tux" because it's fat and black and white like a penguin--for more than a year (see first review here). Plenty of time for the honeymoon phase of Guitar Acquisition Syndrome to fade away and a more analytical frame of mind to set in.

It's still a reasonably comfortable guitar, but the same things that annoyed me about it in May of 2011 are annoying today.

With its very light poplar body and maple neck, the worst issue--balance--probably can't be fixed without adding a lot of weight to the bridge end of the body. With a strap on the stock strap pins, the Tux hangs from its upper horn and wants to stay dead level. The other end of the strap has little effect. You can't shift the guitar around on your shoulder like a Strat or Les Paul to make the neck angle upward, either--all that does is move the whole guitar up.

I tried adding a strap pin to the lower side of the neck heel. While that took care of the balance issue, now the guitar wants to lean out at the top, forcing me to use my forearm to keep it in line. It's not bad enough for me to hate it (yet--but I can see it getting there), but it takes getting used to if I haven't played it in a while.

The other annoyance was much easier to fix. When I first got this guitar, the bridge saddles were set insanely high. Each saddle has a pair of Allen-head screws for setting string height. Turning them out to bring the strings down enough for playability left almost 1/4" of each screw sticking out of the saddle tops. Sharp edges. I popped them out one at a time and cut them down. Problem solved!

All in all, the Overload BB391 isn't a high-end (or even mid-level) instrument, but for sixty bucks you'll get sixty bucks of fun. Based on my sample, it's not a ready-to-play guitar right out of the box, but anyone with a little knowledge of setting one up can get it into playable shape without much effort, assuming they can live with the crappy balance.

Adding (9-11-12): to give experienced players an idea of where the upper strap pin originally sat, it's straight up from the 22nd fret. On a Les Paul Jr., it's above the 16th fret; on the Strat-like Peavey T-15 it's above the 13th (on a 20-fret neck); and on my Lotus Stratocopy it's right around the 12th. The pin I added to the Tux is below the 20th fret, which is still several inches back and down from a good balance point--and there's nowhere else to go, unless I start screwing around with the neck, or add some sort of "outrigger" to the body to extend the pin location forward a few inches. Not really worth all that much effort.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Bookends & Odds & Ends

The Greater Dumbfuckistan County Fair (colloquially known as the Republican National Convention) has finally ended, after shambling like a drunken elephant herd past any wells of honesty in search of more batshit craziness to dig up.

This cavalcade of FAIL was bookended by The Outlaw Jersey Whale (bwahahaha!) at the outset and the doddering wreck that remains of an actor who played The Outlaw Josey Wales, who spent his stage time talking to a pretend Obama (WTF?) cleverly disguised as an empty chair. There's video at that thar link.
There's plenty of snark at Andrew Sullivan's.

Didn't spend a minute watching any of this crap (more fun to read about in the blogosphere, where the snark flows); spent time reading, organizing, and working on an old flood-damaged Zoom 3030 guitar pedal. It's supposed to do this:

...but mine's not in working condition so far. I scrubbed a film of mineral deposits off of the circuit board, resoldered several of the input/output jacks, and hit the jacks' contacts with a file to clean them up. The last time I tried it out, it was getting input and all the buttons seemed functional (so the processor's good), but there was no sound.

It needs to dry out a little longer before the next power up/smoke test; part of the scrubbing was in a bath of hot water and dish soap. About all that accomplished was to make the board wet and soapy. The mineral deposits weren't impressed. The only thing that's worked so far is rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs--and after a few hours of that, the worst of the tacky white glaze is gone.

Of the three flood-rescue projects I inherited, the 3030's in the best condition. The other two  (a Digitech GSP-5 Guitar Processor and a Digitech RDS 1900 Digital Delay) look a lot worse.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Song of the Day: Countdown (Rush)

Instead of a sad song for the passing of Neil Armstrong, I wanted something that expresses the excitement of seeing human ambition paying off.

This is the sort of thing we should be focusing upon--reaching for the stars, walking on the moon, exploring our little corner of the sky.

I'm sad to see Mr. Armstrong go--but what a life he led!

Neil Armstrong, RIP

The man who did the Coolest Thing Ever has died at 82 from complications of a heart-bypass surgery a few weeks ago.

It took a legion of nearly half a million people on the ground and an enormous rocket to put three men into orbit around the moon, a quarter million miles away.

It takes a badass to sit on top of one of those Saturn rockets, feeling it swaying in the winds on the Cape, then riding a column of flame into orbit, coasting in silence to our closest neighbor. I'd settle for being the guy who stays in the Command Module, looping around the moon, but how awesome to be The First to walk on it. Mr. Armstrong's boot prints are still up there, an eternal "I was here."

The Onion's "Moon Landing" describes the utter badassitude of Mr. Armstrong and the 11 guys who followed him (not safe for work, but this is how people should STILL be reacting to walking on the moon).

Of those twelve, only eight are left:

02. Buzz Aldrin

04. Alan Bean

06. Edgar Mitchell
07. David Scott

09. John W. Young
10. Charles Duke
11. Eugene Cernan
12. Harrison Schmitt

01. Neil Armstrong
03. Pete Conrad
05. Alan Shepard
08. James Irwin

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ain't Dead Yet.

I went in for a routine check-in with the Medicaid-approved county doctor Wednesday. Getting there was too much of an adventure.

I hopped in the X-11, all ready to roll. The engine made a few turns, slower and slower...and then nothing. Since I'm not driving the car as much as when I was able to work, the battery tends to lose its charge over several weeks. I was already running late, but I knew what was coming next.

My little '92 Tracker isn't doing so well. It starts right up, but the front brakes freeze up for lack of exercise. I tore them down and greased them a couple of years ago, but keep forgetting to do it again--until I need to drive the damn thing.

I hopped in the Tracker. The front brakes took a few seconds to let go, but they were still dragging as I got on the road. After a few miles of that--and me having to keep it in third gear so the engine could overwhelm the dragging brakes--the brakes suddenly freed up. I was still seeing wisps of smoke rising from the front wheels at every red light.

I really, really need to get working on that. There's a lot of stuff I need to do, both on the Tracker and on the X-11. I used to be Johnny On the Spot with this shit, before all the medical crap got in the way. Now I don't even know where my goddamn tools are and can't exert myself. Don't want to zip that aorta further open.

I was relieved, though. I'd been imagining crawling the whole way--halfway across town--at 35 mph, in third gear, and missing my appointment. Now I was cruising along in 5th. Still running late.

Got to the clinic. There was a big banner covering the entrance, directing patients to an alternate location a few blocks away (though I didn't know it was that close). The clinic was heavily flooded a few months ago. Took maybe 10 minutes to find the new location.

My left shoe decided that it was time to lose its sole while I was looking for the right doors to go through (I picked the wrong ones and went all the way through the wrong building looking for the admissions desk).

Finally found the right place, did all the signing in and waiting. As it turns out, all the crap I went through to get there was worth it.

My cholesterol and blood sugar are good, liver's good, remaining kidney's working fine. I'm supposedly going to be getting referrals from this doctor (everything has to go through him) for a CAT scan (to check how my aorta's healing up) and for a visit to the urologist (to finally--FINALLY!--get rid of that humiliating hydrocele I've had for three years).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pic of the Day: Legitimate Idiot

Why, yes, fundamentalist religion is involved; this nut-dipper is linked to fundie fuckwit D. James Kennedy, who called rape victims who get abortions "hysterical."

I think maybe the "D" stood for "Dumbass." No wonder he abbreviated.

Once you remember that conservatism is a mental defect, this shit makes sense. How insane is too insane to be allowed to hold public office?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Song of the Day: This guy loves his car.

REALLY loves his car.

I like my car a lot...I've even been known to say, "Oh I love this car--it's awesome!" and stuff like that. But it stops with a platonic pat on the fender.

Here's a guy who takes things to an entirely different level:

What this clip doesn't show is him TOTALLY CHEATING on the Volkswagen with that (younger!) red Ford Ranger in the background (he's got his own segment in an episode of "Oddities").

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Job-Killing Romney's Bain Kills More Jobs

The vulture stands to make quite a profit now that an auto-parts plant formerly in Freeport, Illionois has been uprooted and sent to the Job Gulag somewhere in China.

As a bonus rogering to the plant's American employees, they're training their replacements before being rendered jobless.

This ratfucking of American workers is treason. Strong word, yes, but I feel pretty damn strongly about it.

How much further will this outsourcing go before it's unsustainable? Think of it this way: if American jobs are sent elsewhere, and those workers can't find replacement jobs, then they can't buy the crap that's being outsourced and the company loses money.

The outsource-happy politicians and company dirtbags--including Romney--need to be treated like criminals. Prison's a good place for them, especially if they're in amongst the general population, but I'd settle for shutting down those companies, freezing all their assets, stripping the execs of their citizenship, and shipping the whole thing to China where they can operate their companies in person. Tax the living shit out of their products and give tax breaks to competing companies that stay here and hire Americans.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Song of the Day: The Closing Song

In honor of the Olympics finally pissing off.

Not safe for work. My favorite part is when he says "Get the f*ck outta here."

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Pic of the Day: The Vulture Picks the Granny Starver

The MittBot has picked Paul "Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver" Ryan as his running mate for his 2012 presidential campaign.

With that in mind, we've selected yesterday's Pic of the Day and its companion video, since rMoney couldn't really have picked a better way to hand Obama another four years without picking Sarah Palin.

Ryan is the guy whose "budget" would gut Social Security and Medicare--and the National Park Service, among other things. rMoney's the guy whose company guts smaller companies and feeds off the corpses. They're perfect together!


A huge thankyouthankyouthankyou!! to Charlie Pierce for starting the "Zombie-eyed granny starver" nickname.

Bonus snark: WereBear coined the campaign name: "Dunning/Kruger 2012." Here's why that's funny.

Bonus bonus snark: rMoney's such a shit that he outsourced notifying the runner-up VP candidates to one of his offspring units: "Dad says you're not it."

Super Extra Bonus Snark from The Thin Black Duke: "And if Romney reminds people of the asshole boss who fires you on Christmas Eve, Ryan is the ratfuck snitch in the office who tells lies to the boss behind your back."

Ryan is the S.S. Mittanic's iceberg. It's all over but the sinking.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pic of the Day: For the Lulz

It's always entertaining when those pearl-clutching Republican drama queens head for their fainting couches. This usually happens when their kindergarten tantrums don't work.

It's been a rough month for pearl strings and couch upholstery amongst the Romney supporters, what with Harry Reid's claiming that rMoney hasn't paid taxes in a decade and a pro-Obama ad in which a man tells how losing his job killed his family's medical insurance coverage. The howler monkeys on the right are claiming the ad blames rMoney for the man's wife dying of cancer.

No, sorry, she died because she didn't have medical insurance--but that coverage was lost because the vultures at rMoney's Bain Capital killed the company where Joe Soptic worked. Weak sauce, Goppers.

Now poor little Mitty, tears glistening in his photoreceptors, comes cranial-covering-in-hand begging his evil nemesis Lord Obama to stop talking about the one thing the MittBot has been running as his campaign program: rMoney's business record!

Obama should do what I just did: go to Google's Image Search page, type in "Obama Laughing," and grab screenshots like this:

...then send them to rMoney with tags like "lolol pwned rotflmfao" and "bwahahahahaha!!!" and "I iz in ur head laffin at ur d00dz"

Someone less polite--like me :)--would send him this:

“We have reached an agreement with the Republicans. They will stop lying about us, and we will stop telling the truth about them.” --Adlai Stevenson.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Song of the Day: The Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing (Joe Satriani, live)

A few months after I started learning to play guitar, I started reading guitar magazines--and all of them were abuzz about Joe Satriani's "Flying in a Blue Dream" album and his amazing guitar pyrotechnics.

I found a used tape of the album and was blown away by it. I'd never dreamed that a guitar could be made to do the seemingly impossible things Satch makes look simple.

Never learned to play like that--but at least now I can see HOW he does it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Song of the Day: Bach's Toccata in Dm...

...on a 1,000-watt tube amp driving a smaller amp as a load:

Same amp, with a 25Hz signal running through it to show how the tubes react:

Update: Here are the specs for the EL6471 amp. The 6 mercury-vapor rectifiers are there to handle some pretty hefty juice flow in the power supply--a 3-phase (220/380V) AC supply that gets kicked up to a 3,200 V anode voltage to feed the two big output tubes up top.

The two smaller tubes in front of and to the right of the big rectifiers are part of the power supply for the amp's third stage tubes.

The amp was intended for stadium sound. The 1kW model is the baby: Philips also listed 2kW, 10kW and 20kW amps.

Here's some glorious electronics porn of the amp in case the videos aren't enough.

And a link to the service manual...and one to the data sheet on the output tubes.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

They just get uglier.

When Fratboy Bush left the White House on January 1, 2009, I really thought I'd seen the worst of the Republicans. Even hoped things would get better, now that that slack-jawed idiot and his pack of wingnuts were out of power.

Sarah Palin and the Teabaggers quickly showed me that there was a new bottom, and that they had brought digging tools and were eagerly exploring new lows in stupidity and evil-mindedness.

The Losing Party quickly coagulated around the new mission of derailing the black man in the White House. They sent out a few whiny celebrities and other talking heads early on to complain about being called "racist" for criticizing Obama. Angie Harmon went on Fox barely 2 months after he took office, seeking emotional support in this vulnerable time of her life. The man hadn't even been in office more than 2 months at that point.

The Teabagger set dug ever deeper, out-screeching and out-dumbing even Palin, which is pretty damn impressive, and offered up Christine "Wouldn't Lie to Nazis" O'Donnell, Sharron "Second Amendment Remedies" Angle, Joe "Armed Guards" Miller, and Rand "America's Dumbest Senator" Paul.

And still they kept digging, those industrious Republicans, always on the lookout for some new ugliness to spew.

When Whitney Houston died, seemingly every racist dirtbag in the country jumped on the opportunity to show their quality.

When Rick "Governor Goodhair" Perry oozed onto the stage to brag about how many executions Texas has performed, he got cheered like a game-winning quarterback.

When Ron Paul was asked about letting an uninsured patient die, an embarrassment of teabagger fans in the debate audience shouted "Let him die!" And yes, that's the proper collective term--an embarrassment of Teabaggers, no matter what anyone else tells you.

Trayvon Martin was shot dead. Republicans, twisting around like mating eels, went out of their way to justify the killing, demonizing a dead high school kid, lionizing the murderer, and blaming Obama.

Sandra Fluke spoke out on behalf of women's reproductive rights. Pigboy Limbaugh lost his shit and lambasted her for three days--and that was only the beginning of the shitstorm as the wingnuts went into full asshole mode and dug themselves deeper with the screeching intensity of a thousand masturbating Viagra-dosed chimpanzees.

They're still digging. The new bottom was reached by some wingnut named James Taranto. In the wake of the Aurora, Colorado theater shootings in which four guys died to protect their girlfriends, Taranto weighed in with "I hope the girls whose boyfriends died to save them were worthy of the sacrifice."

"I hope the girls whose boyfriends died to save them were worthy of the sacrifice."

What a piece of utter psychotic, sociopathic crap. When he was called on it, the fucker doubled down, trying to make his critics out to be the stupid and evil ones.

I'm not a great guy, myself, not even close to perfect. Socially inept in a lot of ways, bad at small talk, don't like authority figures, and don't care to be tactful when it comes to some things, especially my contempt for and dislike of what passes for conservatives these days. They're not doing anything to change my mind and Taranto isn't helping them at all.

"I hope the girls whose boyfriends died to save them were worthy of the sacrifice."

How in the ever-loving fuck can someone seriously ask such a question? Each one of those women has a family whose daughter came home. Look them in the eye and ask them if their daughter is worth it, you raging asshole.

Twelve other people--including a 6 year old girl--never got that chance. Were they unworthy? That little girl was a freeloader, not a job creator, I guess. The Paultards' chorus in the background: "Let 'em die!"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pic of the Day: Eat Less Chicken.

Chick-fil-A sucks. The company's always been a proud bastion of fundie ugliness. No surprise that they've taken a stance against gay marriage. When the Jim Henson Company decided that his Creature Shop Muppets (not the Disney-owned Muppets, who aren't involved) were bouncing the chicken chain over its stance, those classy bird-cookers replied with this:
(pic via anibundel at Angry Black Lady Chronicles) It'll be cool if Jim Henson busts 'em up in court for claiming there's a "possible safety issue." Predictably, the wingnuts are up in arms over the poor, defenseless corporation being punished by the evul liberals for holding to its values and taking a stand. The same wingnuts who condemned J.C. Penney for holding to its values and taking a stand in favor of gay rights!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Song of the Day: Afterimage (Rush)

This song plays in my head at times like this, after a death. The song's about the loss of Robbie Whelan, an assistant engineer on some early Rush albums and close friend of the bandmates. It made Song of the Day almost 3 years to the day ago to commemorate the murders of Jim Barrett and Dr. John Britton; now it's dedicated to the victims of the Colorado shootings. No snark tonight.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pic of the Day: Ben Kenobi, for Obama 2012

Actually, it was Mark "Luke Skywalker" Hamill who endorsed Obama:
“And if you don’t vote for Barack Obama, you’re insane,” he added. ”Cause without him, I think the middle class will completely disappear. And you look at Romney and I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but I think he’s like The Thing – he only imitates human behavior. He’s not actually human himself.”

Beats the hell out of washed-out hack and C-Creepio supporter Scott "making racial comments isn't racist" Baio. (credit for "C-Creepio" goes to "WhatTheHeck" in the comments...wish I'd thought of that :p~~~)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

London Olympics can Bite My Shiny Metal Ass.

Not a fan of the Olympic$ a$ it i$, e$pecially $ince I reali$ed it wa$ all about corporate money and not about excellence in $port$.

I hadn't paid attention to previou$ citie$' behavior in their attempt$ to attract the Olympic$ to their town--tax break$, $pecial new building$ being con$tructed, inconvenient local people being bru$hed out of view, but the $tupid $tuff London ha$ pulled thi$ time around ju$t pi$$e$ me off.

Fir$t there wa$ the announcement of criminal $anction$ to protect the corporate $pon$or$ from competition. Thi$ would allow "brand police" to roam the area and $hake down pub$ adverti$ing the wrong beer (take the $ign down or cover it up, Citizen) or other non-$pon$ored product$ and order YouTube and Facebook to take down video$ and picture$ po$ted by attendee$. You're re$i$tricted in how you may u$e combination$ of certain word$, like London and 2012 and probably LOCOG WANKER$. Then ju$t a few day$ ago, I learned that McDonald'$ ha$ a pretty cu$hy gig at the Olympic$, with a huge-a$$ exclu$ive re$taurant planted like a fat American right in the middle of everything--and a monopoly on french fry $ale$. A$ long a$ you call them "chip$" and $ell them with fi$h, you're okay, but Olympu$ help you if you're $elling burger$.

Then we learned that Team U$A'$ going to be wearing Ralph Lauren'$ reimagining of Mitt Romney'$ family uniform (which they $tole from Thur$ton Howell III)--and al$o borrowing from hi$ bu$ine$$ model of out$ourcing the work to China. Wait, didn't use the word "London" in this paragraph. Took care of that. So anyway, $2,000 per Romney $uit and American labor wa$ $till too expen$ive. $hould have charged $2012 each.

Now, tho$e $niffy corporate a$$-ki$$er$ at the London Organi$ing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Game$ don't want anyone linking to them unle$$ they're $aying nice thing$:

"a. Links to the Site. You may create your own link to the Site, provided that your link is in a text-only format. You may not use any link to the Site as a method of creating an unauthorised association between an organisation, business, goods or services and London 2012, and agree that no such link shall portray us or any other official London 2012 organisations (or our or their activities, products or services) in a false, misleading, derogatory or otherwise objectionable manner."
 (no dollar $ign$ in their copy).

Don't mind me, just $tirring the pot.

Update: Bonu$ Commentary from a Corporate Wea$el: Donald Trump weighed in via Twitter, opining that Team U$A'$ Chine$e-made uniform$ $hould be burned. Hi$ outrage ha$ obviou$ly made him forget that hi$ own clothing line i$...made in China. Becau$e it's cheaper.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Anniversary Time Again...

Made it to another July 12, my second since the big Aorta Meltdown of 2010.

I started out with a 40% chance of making it 10 years with the dissection; wonder what the numbers are for the next 8 years?

I do feel a lot better than I did in the months after it happened. Still have the mobility issues, high blood pressure, swollen feet and lower legs, sensitivity to heat, and fatigue. Still got some memory and cognitive stuff that makes me wonder whether the high BP did some damage.

I'm 14 months past having a carcinogenic kidney removed--the culprit in most of my problems, since it was driving the high blood pressure that popped my artery.

Good thing I'm not dependent on Republican scum like Dave Dreier and his buddies in the house who voted for the 33rd useless time to "repeal" the Affordable Care Act. Dreier the Death-Panel Dirtbag apparently thinks "let them die" is a good approach to health care:
“While I don’t think that someone who is diagnosed with a massive tumor should the next day be able to have millions and millions and millions of dollars of health care provided, I do believe there can be a structure to deal with the issue of pre-existing conditions.”
All my treatments have totaled much less than millions of dollars. Maybe $200,000, maybe a little more. Maybe I should apologize to Dreier for the imposition; it took a lot of nerve for me to grow that tumor in my kidney without thinking of people like him and their desire to save medical expenses at any cost, even that of a life. I fed the damn thing, cultivated it. Should have named it David.

I've made it two years IN SPITE of fucking Republicans and their psychotic desire to kill off any sort of health assistance for people who can't afford it. The hospital was a huge help, with its Compensated Care program that handled most of my bills for the first 7 or 8 months. I made it into Florida's  Medically Needy Medicaid program only to have it jerked out from under me within 3 months (Governor Scumbag doesn't think kidney cancer and a torn aorta make me sick enough; but then, he doesn't think a huge tuberculosis outbreak rates keeping the state's only TB hospital open). For the last year, I've been on MediPass, going to a county clinic as needed.

Not much of a believer in karma, but I sincerely hope that every one of those useless, evil wingnuts has their fortunes reversed and they end up worse off than I am right now. They need to learn some humanity and some humility.

All in all, I'm doing well enough. I won't be running (or walking) marathons or much of anything physical (no lifting more than 30 pounds, no stress, and like that), but I've got busy stuff I can do. I'm surprised that I haven't spent much time being depressed (those few times have been when my knees or feet keep me trapped in bed...very dark thoughts, then). I can still pay my own bills and (most importantly) I can drive the X-11. I'd be in a really bad place, for lack of that one bright spot to focus on when shit gets dark.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Riff of the Day: Tom Sawyer synth "growl" (Rush)

I'd been wondering for a few days how Geddy Lee got what he calls the "growl" in Tom Sawyer--the first thing you hear after the drum hit:

Andy Skuse has a writeup of his attempts to figure out the growl, a set of .WAV files of his results, and a demo of the Digital Men playing "Tom Sawyer" with the resulting growl:

Not too shabby. Singer sounds more like Rik Emmett of Triumph than he does Geddy Lee--but Geddy Lee doesn't even sound like his 1981 self anymore.

As a bonus sound, Keyboard Magazine has the info for programming the "lead synth" sound for the song using a MiniMoog.

Song of the Day: Tom Sawyer (Rush)

It's been SOTD before, but not like this. I stumbled on vids a few days ago of the song with the synth, guitar, bass and drums isolated. Just rips from Rock Band or Guitar Hero's tracks, but still pretty cool to be able to hear the song like this.





There are some other isolated tracks--I've found a guitar-only "2112," guitar and bass for "Limelight" and "YYZ," and a guitar track for "Subdivisions" so far.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

CANCER CURED!!!! says one Chris Collins, a noted medical expert genius moron running for Congress in New York.

Indeed, he says that because of all the amazing and expensive medical  breakthroughs in the last 10 years, "People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things."

Because of implantable defibrillators! Stents! Neural stimulators! Tricorders!

So he wants to kill off Obamacare. No one needs it, you see. Like me, 2 years ago this month. I had no idea that there was a bad-type carcinoma growing in my kidney, just waiting to metastasize and infect the rest of me with killer cancers.

If I'd had an implantable defibrillator, I NEVER WOULD HAVE CAUGHT CANCER! It's all my fault for not thinking ahead, you know.

So...why do I hate Republicans?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pic of the Day: 24 Views of Fort Pickens

You need to hit this link. Jeff Waldorff's showcasing a set of 24 eye-popping photos of Fort Pickens on his site.

These are impressive enough, but the site also features his other work in nature, landscape and people. He's got an excellent eye for the perfect shot and brings colors alive whether he's shooting 200 year old brick or a tiny frog. Well worth spending an evening clicking through and drooling.

For every musician there's a player who makes them want to either give up or try harder. It works that way with photography, too.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pic of the Day: Fort Pickens CAD pt. 4

I'm mostly finished with the horizontal section view (see Pt. 2); just a lot of little detail work. I got tired of looking at this part of the project (had to go back and re-do some sections several times because something was off) and started doing the top plan instead.

QCAD has turned out to be a pleasant bit of code. It doesn't have all the features of AutoCAD, but the price is much friendlier ($40 vs. $1500 or more) and I don't really need more than what it offers. There are some annoying issues, though:

--Architectural measurements could allow for American-style measurement (feet, inch, fraction). At the very least the manual should explain that QCAD is expecting everything to be in inches. Working in feet and inches this way requires you to type "12*" first (converting feet to inches), so 12' 6 1/2" is typed as "12*12+6 1/2". I had to hunt online for this piece of information. (RibbonSoft is in Switzerland, so it's understandable that they don't normally work in feet and inches like us Stateside dinosaurs)
--The manual should be fleshed out with examples of each command and better descriptions. As written, the description for the command to draw a line at a given angle wasn't very clear. Another online search for that.
--Some of the more frequently-used tools on the Modify menu could be echoed in the Lines menu to make work flow a little quicker.
--No support for graphics tablet input (at least in version Mouse only.
None of these is a deal-killer. I survived the learning curve.

--Main tools are Point, Line, Arc, Circle, Ellipse, Text, Dimensioning, Edit (Modify), Measure, Hatch, Insert Image, Selection, Blocks, Isometric Projection. Each tool button has its own set of sub-buttons.
--You can enter commands from a command line, from the Menus toolbar, or from the button bar.
--Layers. Parts of a drawing can be drawn on different layers, each with its own color, line weight, and line style.
--Absolute and Relative angles and coordinates.
--Works in DXF format (supposedly also works in AutoCAD's DWG format, but I haven't found how to make that happen).
--Export Bitmap, SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), PDF.
--Support for a parts library for frequently-used items like doors, fasteners, bathroom fixtures, and such. None are included with the program, but a small set of parts can be downloaded from the RibbonSoft website.

There's a slight learning curve, mostly because of the too-sparse manual, but once I figured out the worst issues everything else came easily. Installation is as simple as unzipping the files into a convenient folder. QCAD runs right from there.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Gopper "Patriotism"

I've been trying for years to describe the difference between actual patriotism and what Republicans actually practice.

I think I figured it out: Republicans are to patriotism what pimps are to feminism.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pic of the Day (bonus): Helo Kitty

So this Dutch guy's cat gets run over by a car.

He has it stuffed and the frame of a radio-controlled quad copter.

This calls for a Motivational poster.

The video at the above link is disappointing--just a couple of short lifts a few inches off the floor.

The video you WANT to see is here:

...and here's the FARK thread, with some awesome comments and pics (and where I swiped the "Helo Kitty" idea).

Pic of the Day (again): Fort Pickens CAD--Bastion B

The awesome continues. The single biggest pain in the can in all of Fort Pickens' architecture has been Bastion B, the southwest bastion. The three main rooms are at odd angles to one another, parallel only to their outer walls. There are smaller galleries leading between them and to adjacent rooms in the curtain walls. Lining all that up on paper was maddening, since I didn't have accurate angles for most of it.

I haven't roughed-in the cistern yet (time for a break, after almost 10 hours getting things to this point), but that'll be easy, given how painlessly everything else lined up.

And--as always--the "NCIS" Gibbs-slap montage for taking so damn long to get a cheap CAD program and build the damn fort drawing.

Pic of the Day: Fort Pickens CAD, 2

Making massive progress. So far, I've gotten the inner structures of the eastern half--the north and south walls and the northeast and southeast bastions.

Once the sectional layer is done, I'll have a clean version of the 1869 "Section Through Embrasures" plan that made me want to draw the fort more than a decade ago:

From there, it'll be the roofing structure (the first pic in the June 3rd post) and my first clear look at the cisterns and stairs at the northwest and southwest corners, both of which suffered heavy damage in separate explosions.

The entire northwest corner was destroyed in 1899 when 8,000 pounds of gunpowder went up during an out-of-control fire. Engineers cleared the rubble and left a gaping hole in the fort--the bastion, cistern, and sections of the adjacent walls are gone.

The southwest wall, cistern, and bastion and part of the south wall were heavily damaged in 1916 when engineers dynamited parts of the fort that were in the way of the big guns of Battery Pensacola. Part of the south wall collapsed, the bastion lost its roof, and the cistern lost its front wall. This corner was a mirror image of the other, so there's no complete example bastion or cistern or some of the structures directly adjacent to them.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Pic of the Day: Fort Pickens in CAD

It's about damn time. For about 13 years I've been thrashing around trying to make an accurate drawing of Fort Pickens. I could have bought reproductions of some of the plans--but where's the fun in that? No, you don't get to explore the place if you're just copying someone else's drawing.

I spent a lot of time at the fort with a tape measure and some other improvised measuring tools, sketching and scrawling and crawling all over the place inside and out. For something like individual rooms (casemates), drawing the layout is simple: kind of hard to mess up a rectangular room.

But when all five of the curtain walls and all five bastions are brought into it, things get tricky. At this scale, I'm dealing with 25 brick walls, each at a non-square angle to its neighbors. Because they're brick, you can't really get a true reading on those angles because no given brick is aligned precisely. Measure at different heights in a corner and the difference can be several degrees--and even a small error can become several feet when you're drawing a 350-foot long wall.

I made several attempts over the years and each one came out wrong, so I just put it all aside and stopped messing with it for awhile.

A week ago, I shelled out for an inexpensive 2D CAD program called QCad, finally ready to throw down and get the Fort Pickens project going again, if only for something to do other than reading news blogs and sleeping.

The first draft came out almost perfect! I changed my approach, using a blown-up printout of an 1831 sketch to get those aggravating angles and just plugging in wall lengths from the sketches...

...and the resulting CAD drawing came out only 2'9" off (the corner lines at top above didn't quite meet). So damn close, and so much better than any previous attempt. After a few more hours of troubleshooting the measurements and tweaking the drawing, it's close enough to perfect that I'm just going to stop polishing and get on to adding the innards.

This is pretty much the key to getting all the other views of the fort, from sectionals and cutaways to simple elevations, because everything else depends on this top plan being right. As a bonus, once I've gotten some of the main layers drawn (top plan, horizontal section) I can run it over to Blender for 3D modeling and scenery building.