Sarah Palin will pry your Klondike bar from your cold dead fingers.

calendar   Monday - July 13, 2020

China Is Bugging Me Again

This year’s destructive insect from China in our area

image  image

I’m really getting tired of this. First it was the brown marmorated stinkbug. Then it was the ash borer, which cost our condo park dozens of trees. Now it’s the spotted lanternfly. We’ve got so damn many of them I felt the need to look them up online.

And what a surprise, we’re under lockdown for this bug. Quarantine. Gee, wonderful. And their favorite tree to munch around here is the Eastern Black Walnut, one of which grows right over our patio. I call it the toilet tree, because all it does is drop shit on us all year long. Now there are so many of these bugs, which suck sap and pee out “honeydew” in copious quantities, that it feels like a light misty rain out there. And we’ve got dozens and dozens of the little black ones, dead, all over the patio.

Spotted Lanternflies Land in New Jersey
Invasive Pest Identified in Warren County [ and Hunterdon and half a dozen other counties in NJ ]

Some people may think it is a moth but it’s really the Asian plant hopper known as the spotted lanternfly (SLF), Lycorma deliculata (White) and is a member of the order Hemiptera, family Fulgoridae. In the USA, spotted lanternfly is an invasive species that could be very devastating to some New Jersey crops and hardwood trees.

This insect was accidentally introduced into Pennsylvania and was confirmed in the state in September 2014. At first it was only found in Berks County, however, today it has spread throughout Pennsylvania and to neighboring states, including New Jersey.

New Jersey populations were first detected in 2018 are currently primarily distributed along the state’s border with Pennsylvania. In response, the NJ Department of Agriculture has issued an eight-county quarantine. People and businesses travelling in and out of these counties (Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Salem, Somerset, and Warren) should inspect vehicles for hitchhiking SLF and inspect outdoor items such as packing bins, firewood, paving stones, lawn equipment, etc. for egg masses (see checklist). Quarantine compliance will reduce the spread of SLF to new areas and counties thereby protect New Jersey resources including forests and agriculture.

I tipped off the condo association here, and submitted a report to the Ag Department at Rutgers. Hey, if they want to come and chop down that tree, fine by me. We hate it.

All 3 of these bugs first showed up in eastern PA. I wonder what massive Chinese import center is there?

China is asshoe.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/13/2020 at 06:00 PM   
Filed Under: • CHINA in the newsDaily Life •  
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calendar   Tuesday - June 30, 2020

My Big Digital Day


Asus PCE-AC88 Wifi adapter with remote 4 channel antenna. Oh baby it rocks!

UPDATE: HORRY CLAP what a difference!!!!
Installation was super easy. Put card in slot in PC, close cover, attach antenna, run the install CD. Instant improvement. Take a look at the settings, notice that the PC now has Wifi and Wifi2, turn Wifi off and Wifi2 on, and this sets the ASUS adapter as the default in the 5Ghz bandwidth. Signal is now at maximum strength, and internet speeds are insane. The Win 10 available networks thing is showing me 10 more networks than before; not mine, but that’s how good the antenna is. The graphics heavy blog Feral Irishman loads in an quarter second, FoxNews loads instantly.

I am a happy camper.  LOL  LOL  LOL  LOL  LOL


Ok, all the bits and pieces have finally arrived, so I can attack the WiFi situation here.

It’s not a hard thing to do, but there are several steps that will turn into more effort than I’d like to do.

But first I have to go to the grocery store and get some cat kibble. We ran out last night, and heaven forbid that our two little carpet queens would have no choices for breakfast. They’ve already got some well moistened canned stuff, with some crushed Dr. Marty’s raw dried kibbs mixed in. But no, they want the hard crunchy bits. So they’re wrapping themselves around my legs, giving me the pathetic kitteh stink eye. So I have to hit the store.

After that I can get around to doing my own project. We live in a 3 level condo on the ground floor, built on concrete slab foundation. The place was built in the late ‘70s, so it doesn’t have a ton of power outlets, phone outlets, and cable outlets. The Wifi modem thing from Xfinity needs all three, because we have the “triple play” package that provides internet, cable TV, and landline telephone. The only place in the house that has those three outlets close together is the small bedroom upstairs. The only place we can fit the PC desk is downstairs. So the Wifi signal has to pass through 2 concrete slabs and through 4 walls to get to my PC. So it’s no wonder I only get a 1 bar signal strength. Worse, this cheapo new PC I bought has a built=in Wifi that only works on the 2.4Ghz bandwidth, which is the slow narrow one that is totally overburdened in my building. The newer 5Ghz band is much faster, much wider, and is used less here. At least that’s what the Wifi Analyzer app shows me.

So I figured a two prong solution would work best. First, move the modem as close as possible, and get some kind of high end Wifi card for the PC that can use the 5Ghz band. So I got a big long phone wire, an equally long RG6 coax cable with 4 layer shielding, a bunch of cable connectors both straight and 90 degrees. Then I found a top rated high speed adapter that has a remote four phase antenna. This will let me raise the antenna off the floor down here to about the same level as the modem upstairs, giving me a straight signal path that doesn’t have to go through concrete. Plus super strong antennas. Naturally, the wires on the adapter aren’t quite long enough, and they use the rare mini coax cable that’s not commonly available, so I’m SOL for making my own 4 channel extension cord from standard coax cable. Instead, I have to rearrange things so I can get the PC several feet off the floor, so I can put the antenna up on the bookcase here. I only need to get it up to shoulder height, which I think I can do by putting the printer table on the other side of the PC desk, putting my old PC case on that, and then the new PC on top of that. Because I can’t raise it up too far, because the keyboard, monitor, and mouse wires have to reach the desk. So a simple job of laying a couple of wires will turn into a couple hours of moving furniture and everything else around, plus the time spent installing the card and messing about with the setup. Nothing is ever easy, and everything is always an unexpected cascade of other crap you have to do first before you can do what you want.

And if all that doesn’t do it, I also picked up a 50 foot long Cat 8 network cable, so I can temporarily hardwire the PC to the damn modem. That will absolutely give me maximum connectivity speed, but I’ll have a wire running across the floors of the entire condo. Not an elegant solution, or even a particularly safe one with that kind of tripping hazard. Use it when I’m here all alone, and hope the kittehs don’t think it’s some kind of snake toy to play with and chew on.

Or I could just go buy a house with big bedrooms and loads of outlets so I could put the modem right next to my PC. That’ll do it. And I thought this approach was an expensive one!

Right. Must get kibble. Now. Or else. 


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/30/2020 at 08:18 AM   
Filed Under: • Computers and CyberspaceDaily Life •  
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calendar   Friday - June 19, 2020

online again

yay I have internet again, at least for a little while. I don’t know what is going on with that. Whatever.

So today’s loaf has a bit of honey in it. My usual 4 flour sourdough. I fed the starter last night, saw that it was kind of dry so I added a bit extra water. Left it out overnight and it rose up so much it overflowed. And that’s after I disposed of a goodly amount of it. There’s always too much starter, that’s just how it is unless you bake 4 loaves a day. Um, no. I’m good for 1 a week, maybe. But we’re going visiting Sunday, and that means I’ll bring bread, so I always get the starter primed up a few days in advance, and make a test loaf just to make sure everything is proper. So far, so good. Dough came out a bit wet today, so at the 3rd folding I worked in a little extra flour. You get a feel for this stuff after a while, knowing when the dough is right, and not too wet or too dry.

So into the proofer, and let it ferment for 4 hours or so. Sourdough goes slow, but that’s where the flavor comes from.

The first of my tall lilies opened this morning in the lower garden. That’s my best plant too; it grows 4 feet tall and this year has a dozen blossoms. The lilies in the upper garden get more sun, so they’re open too, and a nice height, but they aren’t quite as hefty as this one plant. She’s a sturdy girl for sure.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/19/2020 at 12:12 PM   
Filed Under: • BreadDaily Lifegardening •  
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calendar   Saturday - May 30, 2020

And then a miracle occurred

Our condo sits just 20 feet from the edge of a steep ravine. The land falls off almost vertically, and drops 30 feet or so down into a gulley. It’s very naturally wooded down there, with loads of broken sharp branches, downed trees, a soggy slough from the little creek that goes through, etc. And it’s quite remote, even though it’s only a couple dozen yards from the road that runs behind us. If you fall down there and get hurt, you’re going to die, because no one will ever see you or hear your screaming.

This condo park was built in 1979. There’s never been a fence there, or even any significant brush that would keep anyone from falling over the edge. The landscape guys go zooming up and down the narrow bit of grass between our patio and the edge with their giant mowers. The winter before last some little kids were visiting the neighbors, and were out there sledding in the snow on those little round disc sled things. The ones you can’t steer or stop.

I’ve been after the Association to put in a fence since we bought this place almost 9 years ago. With the new manager, someone actually finally came out and took a look, and went “gosh, this is steep and could be dangerous.” No kidding. Anyway ... 6 months later, and I noticed mark-out paint on the grass the other day, and Friday, 3 of the landscape guys came with a truckfull of posts, and spent about 4 hours digging holes and putting it in.

It’s a split rail fence, parts direct from Lowe’s. It runs 7 sections, so it’s got to be at least 70 feet long. It looks a bit raw, but I’m glad it’s finally in. And now we’re buying potted plants to hang from the rails, and climbing flowering vines to cover it over. Just for a bit more privacy. And some more green.


And it might even make the deer take a different path. Assuming they don’t eat the thing.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/30/2020 at 09:54 PM   
Filed Under: • Daily Life •  
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calendar   Thursday - May 28, 2020

yeah I built that


As part of the COVID re-opening paranoia, I have to sanitize the floors at the eye doctor’s offices where I work. Tile, linoleum, vinyl flooring, and carpet. One location is mostly hard vinyl flooring, the other location is more than 1000 sq ft of office carpet.

I bought a potent steam cleaning machine to do the job. This thing will strip paint and degrease engine blocks, clean years worth of soap scum out of your shower, scrub the BBQ until it looks new ... and also steam mop and sanitize hard floors. It comes with a couple dozen attachments including several sizes and styles of mop head. But none of these work on carpet, because the brushes and microfiber mops stick like glue to rugs. Way too much friction. And the 2 piece plastic wand is not built to be used like a shovel handle.

The Haan company sells a line of floor sanitizers, all of which cost at least double what the mcCullogh steamer I got the Doc to buy for me cost, and all their models provide a whole lot less steam, pressure, and run time. But one of their models has a carpet glide plate, and such a thing is not available for the McCullogh steamers. So I built my own.

At first I was going to glue up a few layers of foamboard - plastic cardboard - and hold that in place with some rubber bands. That idea didn’t work out. then I wondered if I could make a glide plate out of 1/4” plywood, but I’d have to find longer versions of the special screws they used that have that open thread to grip plastic parts. So that didn’t work. Then I figured I could make something out of some oak slats I’ve got out in the garage. That seemed about right, but while digging through the lumber pile I found some bullnose pine slats. Already rounded, so no grabbing the rugs. A little work with the saber saw, and a few seconds using my heavy duty craft stapler to attach them to the large brush accessory, and Wah Lah!! At least I hope.

I’ll try it out tonight. Hey, at least I can check the boxes that a floor sanitizing process is in place. I just hope I can do the job without soaking the carpets. This steam machine can throw a tremendous amount of steam. Holy cats.

Update: It works just fine.
Smells a bit like hot wet wood after a bit (duh), but it didn’t fall apart, and I was able to quickly steam the carpets. Steaming the hard flooring with the large microfiber mop took me over an hour. Went through nearly a gallon of water; the advertised 120 minute run time per tank must only apply to light use at the lowest setting. Naturally. I was rather pleased to see that very little additional dirt came up. I’ve scrubbed the daylights out of that place since the pandemic started, and their new germaphobic continuous processes are keeping the place quite clean. Don’t tell anybody, but they hardly even need me at this point.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/28/2020 at 03:17 PM   
Filed Under: • Daily Life •  
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calendar   Monday - May 25, 2020

The Dothraki Among Us

2 Dead, >5 Wounded At Giant SC Block Party
It must have been a great time

A South Carolina teenager was among two killed when gunfire erupted late Saturday at a block party that drew about 1,000 people despite the government’s warnings against large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, investigators said.

Jabbrie Brandon, 17, died at a hospital, while 21-year-old Curtis Lamont Bomar died at the scene just outside Jonesville, Fox Carolina reported, citing the county coroner.

At least five others were wounded at the party, the Union County Sheriff’s Office said. The extent of their injuries was not immediately clear.

Witnesses told authorities that the gunfire came from a car driving down the road, and people at the party returned fire, the station reported.

If you watched Game of Thrones you’ll remember the line from Danaerys’ wedding - “A Dothraki wedding without at least three deaths is considered a dull affair”.  Sometimes it seems to me that a certain element in our society feels the same way, and actually looks forward to random acts of murder at so many of their social gatherings. Concerts, sporting events, new sneaker releases, Black Friday sales, weddings, funerals, children’s birthday parties, and the especially ironic shootings at their Stop The Violence candlelight vigils. And now with the warmer weather, and the ending of some of the lock downs, they vent the pressure with firearms. I was a big fan of GoT, but the Dothraki were barbarians.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/25/2020 at 09:38 AM   
Filed Under: • Daily LifeStoopid-People •  
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calendar   Friday - May 22, 2020

Peiper, his wife, and Alderly

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

JRR Tolkien

Vilmar was kind enough to use some of his photographic skills to make good copies of the few pictures I got from their executor some time ago when he settled their estate. They’re gone a long time now, and probably so is the charming but decrepit little English bungalow they lived in on the outskirts of Winchester, out in the quiet farm lands. I always teased him that he was a hobbit living in the Shire, on a cowpath at the edge of the barrow downs. The house had no number, merely a name. Alderly. Their ancient [bronze age] gnarled and pollarded tree lined driveway-width street has been “discovered” and many of the old homes have been bought up and torn down to make way for modern McMansions. And so the past passes.

They never had chidren.

Peiper was my co-blogger here for years. We exchanged letters, emails, books, presents. We were both fascinated by tales of the old pirate days, and our friendship grew from there. We both loved to read, and the esoteric bits of history. I kept her well supplied with fancy chocolates and holiday goodies after he passed away, along with cards and letters on a regular basis.

I’m not sure of when this picture was from, one of their anniversaries I think, but it shows them both in good health and spirits. And that’s how I shall remember them. Peiper, JayD, Jay. His real name was Joel Diamond, and he and his wife Jennifer died a few years ago.

They were my best friends that I never met, and I only talked to her a few times. I don’t think I ever even talked to Jay, although I kept the phone message he left on our machine after hurricaine Sandy for many years. Digital brothers. She was the most charming woman I’ve ever spoken to. Ten minutes on the phone and it felt like we’d known each other our whole lives. I miss them both.

Click on the image of them for a larger version if you’d like.



UPDATE: Wardmama found a couple old emails they’d shared, and one had a picture of Peiper and “his” gold record. He was a country music DJ in Nashville for a good number of years.


It was the late Royce Kendall on the right, who made sure I was given a gold album (the record co. gave me a plaque for the single).  It would never have occurred to me to think I had one coming, altho in all truth I was the one to get the ball rolling and was the first DJ to pull that song off the LP and play it as a single.  Year is 76. Gosh.

Sure wish I could have my hair back if nothin’ else.

Peiper’s memory might be off a little bit. Looking into the discography of The Kendalls, a father and daughter singing duo, their big hit, was Heaven’s Just a Sin Away, gold record, Grammy winner, #1 on Billboard country tunes ... which came out in 1977.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/22/2020 at 08:27 AM   
Filed Under: • Blog StuffDaily LifePassing on, Death and Disaster •  
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A Month Late And A Trillion Short

President Trump Orders US Flags To Half Mast For 3 Days For COVID Deaths

President Donald Trump on Thursday announced that he would order flags to fly at half-staff to memorialize Americans lost to the coronavirus.

“I will be lowering the flags on all Federal Buildings and National Monuments to half-staff over the next three days in memory of the Americans we have lost to the CoronaVirus,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The president announced his decision after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) asked Trump to mark the day when America reached the milestone of 100,000 deaths from the virus.

Pelosi and Schumer wrote in a letter to President Trump:

We will always carry their memory in our hearts. As we pay our respects to them, sadly, our country mourns the deaths of nearly 100,000 Americans from COVID-19. Our hearts are broken over this great loss and our prayers are with their families.

Currently the number of coronavirus deaths in the United States stands at 94,591 according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University.

The president said that the flags would fly at half-staff on Memorial Day to honor Americans who died serving in the U.S. military.

“On Monday, the flags will be at half-staff in honor of the men and women in our Military who have made the Ultimate Sacrifice for our Nation,” he wrote.

On the one hand, this is a fine, temporary gesture, coming just before Memorial Day when all the flags would be dipped in remembrance anyway.

On the other hand, while it may appear that he is making a bi-partisan gesture, he is being manipulated by Pelosi and Schumer, essentially admitting defeat. That’s not what he’s doing, but that’s how the MSM and millions of people will see it.

On the third hand, this is all “a day late and a dollar short” to me, as all the states around me have been flying the flag low for so long now. For a day or two, it’s a fine thing. For more than a month, it’s defeatism. yes, there has been the days set aside for police memorial, but most of this has been for coronavirus deaths. And that bugs me. All the other deaths from all the other illnesses, accidents, old age, etc, far outstrip the somewhat nebulous numbers of “covid caused, covid related, covid suspected” victims. It begins to feel like a con. Defeatism. Keep the sheep sad and they stay in line longer. And I’m getting damn sick and tired of that.

[ May 15 ] In Connecticut, state and U.S. flags are half staff indefinitely in recognition of all those whose lives were lost or affected by COVID-19.
Illinois has joined the states who are lowering their flags for the victims of COVID-19.
In Massachusetts, flags at soldiers’ home facilities and veteran cemeteries began flying half-staff on April 19 until a date to be determined in respect of veterans and Soldiers’ Home residents who died from COVID-19.
In Michigan, state and U.S. flags are flying half staff indefinitely, according to a proclamation that went into place on April 10.
In New Jersey, all state flags and U.S. flags are being flown at half-staff indefinitely in memory of the people who have lost their lives to the coronavirus outbreak. The proclamation was placed by Gov. Philip D. Murphy on April 3 and is still ongoing
In New York, all flags on state government buildings will fly at half-staff indefinitely while the state is “on pause” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on April 8.
In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered that all commonwealth flags on commonwealth facilities, public buildings, and public grounds fly at half staff indefinitely in honor of the victims of the 2019 novel coronavirus. The proclamation was put into place on April 8.

A gesture overused loses meaning, impact, and importance. This extended “act of mourning” is no more than empty virtue signalling. This offends me, as a significant tradition is being besmirched. Watered down to nothing. And every one of the states doing it is run by Democrats.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/22/2020 at 07:54 AM   
Filed Under: • CULTURE IN DECLINEDaily LifeDemocrats-Liberals-Moonbat LeftistsPassing on, Death and DisasterPandemic Pandemonium •  
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calendar   Tuesday - April 28, 2020

just another day

Not too much to say. I didn’t follow the news much today other than that NYT Daily Briefing that shows up on my phone.

There was a neat story there about some lab in UK that’s going to start human trials for a COVID vaccine next month. Because, hey, they’ve got lots of financial backing right now, and it worked on a couple dozen monkeys. So let’s find 6000 uninfected people to dose and see what happens. Course, this place has not had success with their style of vaccines with malaria or MERS, but maybe the third time’s the charm. The Times worried that it might be hard for them to test if the pandemic has petered out by then. Gee thanks NYT.

The other interesting story there was the “great mystery” of why so few people have died from this disease in India. Let’s see ... lower life expectancy means there are fewer old folks around to start, almost nobody in India is well fed enough to be overweight, the place is a tropical Petri dish with almost as many endemic horrible diseases as Africa, at least half the country lives on chloroquine because of the malaria, few people go to hospitals and stay there long enough to die (they die at home), doctors and medical examiners keep lousy records, and immediate public cremation means there aren’t any bodies in morgues to study. Plus they don’t have money for all the test kits. So yeah, it’s a huge mystery.

I worked all day long, finishing up one office and getting mostly done with the second office. Patching and painting takes a long time. But today was my 5th trip in 9 days, and I’m getting tired of it. I’ll go back tomorrow or the day after to screw a chair rail to the wall and paint the other side of the lab door. Then it’s all done. Takes me longer to drive there and back than I have work to do, but you can’t rush spackle or paint.

And that’s another day in lockdown.

Oh yeah; we’re bing watching True Blood, a deep south vampire series. 70 episodes to go through. It was pretty good when we watched it when it was new. Here’s the video of the minor them music from the show. It’s kind of church music. A simple sad tune asking God for help and solace. Which the characters in the show really need as they go from one dark, gory, supernatural adventure to the next.

Nope, haven’t figured out how to do embedded videos yet either. Sorry.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/28/2020 at 10:19 PM   
Filed Under: • Daily LifeMiscellaneouspandemic and epidemic diseases •  
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calendar   Saturday - April 18, 2020

Money, yay!!

I have day or two of work! Doc needs his office repainted, floors polished, windows done. So I get to play Handy Andy for a bit, freshening the place up. Maybe he’s found a buyer for the franchise, or is trying to get another doctor involved now that he’s retired. Cool.

I don’t know if it’s a full 2 days of effort, but I should be able to get a couple hundred bucks out of it. Not that I really need the cash; but it’s nice to get out of this place and feel like a normal working stiff again, even if it’s just for a short while.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/18/2020 at 02:56 PM   
Filed Under: • Daily Life •  
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calendar   Wednesday - April 15, 2020

another day, plus a fox

It’s been a bit challenging getting online here on the PC. We are itching to remodel this place a bit and have been drawing up designs left and right. And then going online to look at washers, dryers, refrigerators, kitchen cabinets, wooden flooring, tiles, paint colors and on and on and on. Sometimes it’s fun, and interesting to play “what if” as we hash out the ideas. Sometimes it gets a bit much, as in “could we hold off on this until I’ve had my first coffee or two this morning?” But it beats reading about you-know-what endlessly.

I think it’s about time to take another trip to the grocery store. I made up a pot of yellow curry tonight, which is a great way to get rid of leftovers. A bit of leftover pork chop, a bit of leftover steak, an onion, half a bag of frozen green beans, a carrot. And plenty of curry paste and a can of coconut milk. Turns out we were out of rice, but with all this remodeling daydreaming we’ve been doing we’ve also moved everything around from this cabinet to that cabinet in the kitchen. And found a couple pounds of sushi rice in one of those airtight containers. I’m sure it’s 7 years old or more. But it cooked up just fine. And we ate well, and I didn’t have to grill.

After dinner I was out on the patio in the dark, checking out the tulips in our side garden, and they’re just starting to open. And I saw a bit of yellowish movement on the hill. I figured it was Ginger our outdoor cat, but it was a fox. Big bushy tail, and her little legs going a mile a minute as she trotted along. Went down the bank behind the tree, but for a second she wasn’t 9 feet away from me. Pretty cool. Yet another member of the menagerie here in the friggin jungle.

Yes, I’ve been watching the news. Best story I’ve seen all day is those protesters arrested in Raleigh. Because exercising your First Amendment rights of peaceable assembly to redress your grievances is now considered a “non-essential” activity by the neo-Gestapo.

Oh, to have a modern Patrick Henry or a Tom Paine with rhetorical skills in the courtroom with them.

Godspeed protesters, sic semper tyrannis!



Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/15/2020 at 08:41 PM   
Filed Under: • Daily LifeFREEDOM •  
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calendar   Sunday - April 05, 2020

all this and the kitchen sink

Life goes on during lock down. The kitchen sink clogged up again so I had to take care of that today. The sink drain has a 12 foot horizontal pipe section under the floor, so it’s kind of prone to clogs. Not enough velocity in the water flow I guess. So I did the usual: go get a bottle of drain opener and pour it in. And nothing happened. Instead of the recommended 15 minute, I left it in overnight. And still nothing. Get out the plastic bellows plunger. That one works great on the toilet and the tub, but it doesn’t fit the kitchen sink. So it’s out to the garage to find the old suction cup plunger. And then I plunged away at it. And nothing happened. Oh joy. So find a bucket, get everything out from under the sink, find my big grip Vise Grips, and open the P-trap. Went in there with a coat hanger wire, couldn’t find anything. Back to the garage to find my hand auger and the power drill. Tried the auger manually first, and found the clog about 8 feet down the line. Spin the handle, work the spring wire back and forth. Got it clear, then went another 4 or 5 feet more. Nothing. Got it out, put everything back together, and it’s cleared. Woo hoo. And my reward for that is getting to do all the dishes that accumulated while the sink was clogged. Joy. But it was kind of nice to do something normal again. Even if we’re still stuck in the house.

image  image

It costs about $300 to have the plumber come and rout out the drain. The auger goes for about $25. The large jaw locking pliers have a million uses, but are perfect for working on 1 1/2” pipes. No home should be without both.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/05/2020 at 01:05 PM   
Filed Under: • Daily Life •  
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calendar   Wednesday - March 25, 2020

Best Thing To Ever Happen To TV

We have Comcast Xfinity cable TV. In the past year or three it has been upgraded to a voice actuated remote, which is pretty awesome. The package comes with a huge DVR built into the cable box. It also has On Demand, a service that lets you watch whatever show you want whenever you want it, simply by speaking the name into the remote. Pretty awesomer. Recently they have added “Smart Resume” to some of the shows. And this is the bee’s knees. Awesome-ist! Smart Resume lets you skip over the commercials with the 4X Fast Forward, and comes back to your show at the exact proper spot. So a 4 minute block of ads burns by in just 1 minute. This really helps the continuity of the shows you are watching. Beyond excellent; this is how TV should have been since the beginning. On the other hand, you quickly become really aware of just how big a chunk of your 1 hour show is dedicated to commercials. Something like a quarter or a third. Crivens.

Stuck in lockdown, we’ve been binge watching the show Manifest. It’s a bit far fetched, a bit beta-squishy; another one of these “a bunch of lost people miraculously show up and have unknown powers that they use to help people, but the evil government is after them” kind of shows. Like Lost, or the 4400, or Continuum, and so on. We watched the first season in real time, then sort of forgot about it. Season 2 has been broadcast since January, but we just got back to it yesterday. This year, the wife character has been rewritten to be much more involved and supportive. She was far too “Skyler” last year. (Skyler was the annoying wife of Walter White in Breaking Bad, and nearly everyone hated her.) Manifest is a sci-fi soap opera, but it’s something to watch. At least it’s not another doctors/firemen/cops/beautiful evil rich people drama show like all the rest of them are.

I hear Homeland is still running. We watched the first 3 seasons until the Marine guy Brody apparently got killed. It’s now in season 8. So many shows have had a great first season or two, then run on inertia for the next bunch of years. It’s hard to stay a fan when that happens. 


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/25/2020 at 11:13 AM   
Filed Under: • Daily Life •  
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calendar   Friday - March 20, 2020

Things Have Changed

I could have written this short post pretty much at any time over the past 5 years, but I’m doing it now because today was the worst of it I’ve ever seen.

We have one grocery store in town. We used to have 2, but the A&P went out of business.

I had my first real job, actually my first real career path, in the grocery industry. I started out as a cashier, eventually went full time, became a manager, and spent 13 years there.  But when I was a cashier, way back in 1977, we had to be fast. And I was the fastest. There were no scanners; you pretty much learned the prices of everything, even though in those Carter days of wild inflation they changed constantly.

Now there seems to be a rule that whoever is the slowest, most dimwitted, most nearly dead employee they can find becomes the Express cashier. WTH?


We raced in to the grocery store to get a card because her sister is getting married this afternoon. That’s another FUBAR I don’t want to go into, but there have been tears, yelling, phone calls, constantly changing plans and venues ... and the bottom line is, that wedding will take place on the deck in their backyard with just a couple guests, because you can’t have even a small crowd not even in a church, the Justice of the Peace is closed over at Town Hall, and the preacher they did manage to get at the last second is having and Abundance Of Caution and won’t even go in their house. And us, the other 2 guests, but with my wife’s coworker out sick and waiting for EIGHT DAYS now on her coronavirus test results from CDC, neither of us knows if we were exposed. And her dad will be there and he’s in his 80s with various medical conditions. Oh yeah, it’s been so much fun here. A regular stress factory for over a week, with the dial turned up to 11 24-7.

So we’re in the grocery store, got a card and a few things while we’re there, and we go to get on line. But there’s a line director (!!!) who shunts us off to the back of the remote line. Which starts in the dairy aisle, wraps across the frozen food zone, down the far side, across the back, up the other side, back out of the dairy zone, and then all the way down the nearly empty bread and toilet paper aisle. Had to be at least 100 customers, all doing Social Distancing. We’d be there for hours. And the front end has just 3 registers going and no baggers. Because it’s 1:30 in the afternoon and that’s the slack time usually.

To Hell with this.

So I was a good former grocery store boy and put the meat back. We left the rest in the cart and went across the lot to Walmart. Which wasn’t very busy because 1) they have almost no food in their mini-grocery area, and 2) while they had NO cashiers on duty, they’ve converted the front end to have about 16 Self Check stations. She got the exact same card and was out in 3 minutes.

And now the rumor is that NJ is going to shut down the liquor stores like PA did yesterday. What fun!!

At least I have time to grab a shower and get my clothes through the dryer. Then we can drive an hour, go watch the ceremony while wearing masks and gloves, toast the bride and groom from a distance, and then drive home. In rush hour.

[ hours later ] And we’re back. Actually we were there for 4 hours. It was very nice. The sun came out and the weather was perfect. We had a couple of pizzas delivered for the wedding feast and washed it down with champagne. It was just the 5 of us, and we had a great time talking - well, nearly yelling - as we all stayed a good distance apart on their large deck. And J and G are now happily married, so three cheers for them. We got back, changed clothes, and took a nap.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/20/2020 at 01:12 PM   
Filed Under: • Daily LifePandemic Pandemonium •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
  1. Keep a firm grasp of Right and Wrong
  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
  3. Use every legal means to defend yourself in the event of real internal trouble, and, most importantly:
  4. Keep talking to each other, whether here or elsewhere
It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.


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