Things happen at work...

Buying stainless steel rod oversize, then turning and grinding, is cheaper (even with the labor) than buying the rod already Turned Ground and Polished (TGP).  We're talking small quanitities here, since I work for a small machine shop that does repair work. 

A particular piece of 316 stainless came in at ~2.625" Outside Diameter, as drawn (drawn through a die to make it round, not drawn as in on a a piece of paper).  It was taken to the Machining area and pre-machined to ~2.500" O.D., then routed to the Polishing Department to polish for chrome plating.  We have 0.002" of hard chrome applied to the surface.  They call it "two thousandths per side".  Try arguing with the plating tech about how a cylindrical object only has one side, the outside.  What they mean is that by putting 0.002" onto the outside surface, you add 0.004" to the Outside Diameter (hence "two per side").  So the pre-turned rod had to be ground to 2.5945" to 2.5950" to finish after plating at 2.9990", giving it one thousandth of an inch of slip clearance into the counterbore.  I love writing technical junk! 

If you're still with me, here's the scenario: 

I am looking at the polished-for-plating rod, wrapped in kraft paper and stretch-wrap, on which the grinding technician (We'll call him "Squint") has written in fat black permanent marker:  2.522" .

ME: Hey Squint, didn't this rod get brought to you from Machining?

SQUINT: Yeah.  Boss said take four thousandths off it and then get a final measurement. 

ME: How can it now be bigger than it was when it was taken out of the lathe?


ME: Um, did you use calipers or micrometers?

SQUINT: I mic'd it. 

ME:  Can you please unwrap this and do it again? 

( Resistance interlude, after which Squint sets the mic but hands it to me. The mic reads 2.4960". )

ME (handing the mic back to Squint): What does that mic read?

SQUINT (gradually extends his hands with the micrometer farther and farther from his face, and walking over to right in front of a 500W job light, while making his eponymous facial expression): Um...

ME: Dude, you need glasses! 

SQUINT: No I don't!

ME: You need to have your eyes checked, or at least buy a pair of reading glasses! You can't even read the mics! You're 50 years old!  It happens to everybody!

SQUINT: No, they said I don't need glasses.

ME: You had your eyes checked?

SQUINT: Yeah, they said they were fine and I don't need glasses. 

ME: You went to the eye doctor, and the eye doctor asked you to read something like I just did, and he said you don't need vision correction?! 

SQUINT: Yeah, they said I don't need glasses.

ME: You've been malpracticed, man!  Who did you go to?  We have Kaiser coverage.  You're saying a Kaiser doctor...

SQUINT: Well...

ME: Well?  Where did you have you eyes checked?

SQUINT: At the Department of Motor Vehicles when I renewed my license!

ME (NOT out loud): I am so totally blogging this!

 * * *
This is what we're up against. 


Train for a purpose

Some people log running miles as a build-up to a race -- a 5K, a half-marathon, or longer.

When that's the case, the focus is on time over distance, or heart rate training, or hill climbing, depending on the type of event chosen as the goal. 

Right now, I have no performance goal.

I want to stay relatively healthy.  Happy, too, if I can.

So it is nice to go out and move in the world with the least possible stress.  No camera.  Not paying any attention to the chrono on the watch.  Just trying to move with a modicum of balance and harmony through the world out there. 

Mental health running.  Soul health running.  That's where I'm at as a runner right now.


Now I know how the moon feels

Sunday afternoon was sunny, and it had been a while since the last rain.  I decided to run fire trails in the local hills because once on top of the ridge, there would be lots of sunshine!  Wheee!  Vitamin D!

It was a lovely afternoon.  A pair of white-tailed kites and a young harrier were working the west slopes of the hills, hunting for early gopher activity.  A happy looking ash-throat flycatcher was stationed on a parks department sign at a trail crossing.  The very earliest of the mustard (or is it coming up from last year's?) is starting to bloom.

It was full sunshine at 2:30-ish when I did the out and back miles along the north-south ridge.  Heading south, my right side was toasty warm and my left side was freezing.  Vice versa on the way back.  Being a weather wimp, I admit I had to stop and turn around for a few moments, more than once. 

I wonder what kind of weird autonomic nervous system responses your body goes through when one surface of the body is so much warmer than the other.  Half my brain: "Happy, happy, sunshine, birdies, flowers, run, run, run..."   Other half of my brain:  "Stop or die! Turn around! Twirl in place! Aaaurgh!"


Index of Leading Indicators

Air temperature above frost level this morning for the first time in about a week and a half.

Work Ethic below sloth level this morning for the first time in about a week and a half.

Amount of work needing to be done is up, reaching new highs for 2013.

Amount of energy available for work is way down, reaching new lows for 2013.

My body says, "Hibernate!"

But I hear whips cracking and wolves howling, and it's getting closer. 


The President's Wish List

Here is the press release, with my comments interspersed after the •bullets•.

Office of the Press Secretary
January 16, 2013

Gun Violence Reduction Executive Actions
Today, the President is announcing that he and the Administration will:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
• Wait, don't they do that already? If not, why not?  After four years of President Obama at the head of the Executive Branch, doesn't an oversight like this look kind of bad?

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
• "Information" -- like confidential patient-doctor disclosures?  I thought these people used to support a right to privacy.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
• "Incentives" sounds like new Federal spending.

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
• "Dangerous people" sounds like more marginalization of veterans, women, elderly...

5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
• It goes like this:  The neighbors call the cops because of a loud argument across the street.  The local Domestic Disturbance unit shows up.  "May I come in?," the officer asks.  Unless you say, "I do not consent to a search," Domestic Officer Babs is going to be followed by Black-and-white Unit Officer Bubba, who will do a thorough search and interrogation and take your property.  Just in case.  This proposal  adds another hurdle to the already lengthy process of reclaiming property seized from innocent people.

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
• I know, how about publishing a letter TO the BATFE letting them know it's not okay to give machine guns to Mexican drug gangs? (ahem*fast-and-furious*ahem)

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
• Good idea.  We should have a national organization that advocates for safe and responsible gun ownership and sportsmanship.  We could call it the American Citizens Rifle, Shotgun, Pistol and Revolver Association -- but that's too long, so let's just call it the National Rifle Association!  Right.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
• This means Japan-style storage laws:  the few who get a firearm must store it disabled, and with its ammunition in a separate secure place.  In other words, it will be permissible as long as it is in a condition that is useless to you.  "Safety" means safe for crime perpetrators and tyrants.

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
• Wait, they don't already do this?  (see note on No. 1, above)

10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
• Children are dying! We haven't a moment to lose! Quick! Write a report! Yeah, that'll work.  And again, make information available to law enforcement? Seriously?  Don't they do that already?  Helpful tip to DOJ:  I hear there's this thing called the internet...

11. Nominate an ATF director.
• Why has it taken this long?  (Better question:  Why do we even HAVE a BATFE?) What's the Chief Executive been doing, golfing?

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
• Another committee, another program, more money, and doesn't do anything.  Besides, in Texas, Utah, and others, "proper training" takes place at the gun range.  It's common sense...

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
• "Preventive enforcement" sounds creepy.  Orwellian creepy.  I can guess who will be on the enemies list. 

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
• Oh for God's sake.  First it's, "Children are dying! Not a moment to lose! We must act without delay!" -- and then it becomes clear that what they mean by act is not what most people mean.  They take it to mean that they can use this opportunity to further their stranglehold on the Republic by shoving crime in under the Health Care apparatus.  Issue a memorandum indeed.  "Active shooter! He's got a gun!" -- "Don't worry, Ma'am, I have here a Presidential Memorandum!"

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.
• "Gun Safety Technologies" is Violence Policy Center jargon for micro stamping, biometric owner-only guns, and other Seussian fairy tales.  They're like zombies, they just keep coming back.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
• Here we are about a millimeter away from "Clarify that the Obamacare requires doctors to document guns in patients' homes". 

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
• And this has to do with school shootings because... WTF?

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
• When I hear "incentives" my brain tells me "more federal spending programs".

19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
• Here we are about a millimeter away from saying that the Federal Government will get to mandate whether teachers can be armed in Utah. 

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
• If the people that are going postal are doing it because of a lack of mental health care, then this might make some sense -- in the long run.  But what is it doing in this list of things-I'm-about-to-wet-my-pants-if-we-don't-do-something-now-to-save-the-children?

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
• See, Pelosi wasn't lying when she said we had to pass it to see what's in it. 

22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
• Did somebody just mention an unfunded mandate?

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.
• Nothing like being lectured on mental health by a couple of ultra liberal nutcases.

- - - -
That's all the spur-of-the-moment stream-of-consciousness crowndottery for now.


Whose life is worthless?

This is a newspaper clipping from Germany, "Völkische Beobachter", Nov. 10, 1938.

Jews Forbidden to Possess Weapons
By Order of SS Reichsführer Himmler

Munich, November 10 [1938]

The SS Reichsführer and German Police Chief has issued the following Order:

Persons who, according to the Nürnberg law, are regarded as Jews, are forbidden to possess any weapon. Violators will be condemned to a concentration camp and imprisoned for a period of up to 20 years.

Never forget how that turned out.

So the question is, who gets to say what kind of life preserver you get to have? 


In which we confront reality in a small way

I see stuff like this.  Hippie, you just make me tired.

Let's take about fifty yards of cool-ish fabric out into the woods and hang it with coarse jute twine, light a candle on top of some books, and take an art shot.  It's that whole environment thing. 

Ooh.  Pretty. 

Let me buy you a clue.  This may look romantic.  This may look like, "Oh, I just want to spend an afternoon reading meaningful literature surrounded by beauty in a vaguely middle-eastern mode." 

The reality is this.  Too hot or too cold.  Wind.  Plants with thorns.  Plants that give you a rash.  Plants that smell like rancid garlic (foreground). 

And more than anything else, bugs.  Spiders of many kinds.  Midges.  Gnats.  Flies.  Mosquitoes.  Depending on your position on the globe, ticks, chiggers, noseeums, deer flies, hornets, wasps, centipedes, scorpions. 

Don't say I didn't warn you, hippie. 


Ants. Ents.


A white featureless and shadowless landscape.  A multitude of dark shapes are moving about across a vast plain. 

I move closer to the shapes.  They are the size of human beings, but shaped rather like the Ents in Lord of the Rings.  They are striding about, stomping on something. 

Sounds reach me.  The hoarse breathing and grunts of the tree creatures, and the sound of their root-feet stomping on something. 

I am among them now.  They take no notice of me, but go on stomping.  They are something like a cut-leaf philodendron and something like a magnolia, with faces at the top of their trunks. 

They continue furiously stomping.  Stomping on bugs.  Ants. 


One of the Ents executes a quick series of stomps, then whirls and almost runs into me. 

I catch his eye as he backpedals.  "Hi, 'scuse me.  What's going on?"

His eyes widen, and he breathes a short rasping laugh.  "Ha!  I don't know about you, but this is ONE rubber tree  that's had it up to here, and I'M NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANY MORE!"

What makes that little old Ent think he can exterminate all of those ants?  Whoops, there goes another...


Friday - dark of the moon

New Moon on 11 January 2013 at 11:44 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. 

You know:   Because! Inquiring minds!  Need!  To know!  


Along with Col. Jackson

We call it the War of 1812.

The Johnny Horton song says,

In eighteen fourteen we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip'.
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans,
And we fought the bloody British near the town of New Orleans. 

But it was on this day, 8 January 1815, that the Battle of New Orleans was joined.  And Jackson was Major General at the time.  Details, details.

I think we had the Royal Guardsmen album when I was younger, the one with "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron" on it.  "Long Playing"!  Monaural.  We played it over and over on a phonograph with a heavy tone arm.  Ah, the history brings back the history. 

We fired our guns but the British kept a comin'.
There wasn't nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more and they began a runnin',
Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.


I saw the light, yes...

7 January is a red letter day in my personal cosmo-chronological calendar.  Today is the day (where I live) when not only is the time of sunset later than it was yesterday, but the time of sunrise is also earlier than it was yesterday.  (Confused yet?)

The Days of Darkness are officially ended! 

Bright beautiful days are all lined up out there ready to enjoy in 2013!  Now there is real reason for hope. 


The Three-fold Manifestation


The root of the word is the word for lightEpiphaino, in Greek.  The same root shows up in words like photograph and phenomenon.

An epiphany is a manifestation and an illumination.

The traditional understanding of the feast of Epiphany is a triple manifestation of the person of Jesus in the gospels:  at the nativity, at the baptism in the Jordan, and at the wedding at Cana.  I tend to think of it only as Three Kings Day because it closely follows Christmas, but the Roman Catholic readings for the feast take turns going through the stories of the three manifestations through the three year cycle of readings.   At the nativity, the child Jesus is made manifest to the shepherds and the magi.  When he submits to the baptism of John, Jesus is made manifest as he starts his active teaching ministry.  At the wedding at Cana, Jesus is made manifest through the miracle of the water turned to wine --  "This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory." (John 2:11, ESV)

"Three mysteries mark this holy day:  today the star leads the Magi to the infant Christ:  today water is changed into wine for the wedding feast: today Christ wills to be baptized by John in the river Jordan to bring us salvation."
(Antiphon for the Magnificat, Evening Prayer II for the feast of the Epiphany, Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours, Daughters of St. Paul, 1976)
The season of Christmas / Epiphany is great time for Births, Baptisms and Weddings!

[P.S., for extra credit:  As a meme, hipsters don't understand "epiphany" any more than they do "irony".]


Become one every day

What Do I Want To Become - Every Day?

“It was in Antioch that the disciples were called Christians for the first time” (Act. 11, 26) ...
To be a Christian means to go up to the mountain to which Christ leads us. To enter into the temple of the living God that is formed in us and in our midst by the Holy Spirit. To be Christian means to continue to become Christian, learning from Christ the ways of the Lord so as to be able "to walk in his paths" (cf. Is. 2, 3). To be a Christian means to become one every day, ascending spiritually towards Christ and following him. In fact, as we recall, when Christ first called those who were to become his disciples, he said to them: "Follow me".

I can still hear these words the way Pope John Paul II pronounced them, in his steady and careful way.

 The quote is from the address he gave at the Mass at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, September 18, 1987

This dialectic of being and becoming is central to every aspect of our identity.  For example, a license and a ceremony can turn a single man into a husband (in a way), but being  a husband requires taking up the task of becoming a husband  every day.  A biological juxtaposition can turn a childless man into a father (in a way), but to really be a father in a meaningful way, the man must enter into the character of fatherhood, walk the walk of fatherhood, and be  a father by becoming a father  every day. 

Aristotle uses the term "actualization". Potentially being can turn into actually being.  How?  By doing the impossible: by actually being what you are not.  The example I remember is playing a musical instrument.  Say someone doesn't know how to play the piano. (Well, how could he play the piano?  He doesn't know how!)  In order to learn he must practice, which involves -- actually playing the piano.  If to play and to not-play were somehow radically exclusive, all learning would be impossible.  In the real world, however, people do learn to play the piano. They practice, and little by little they play more and better.  Actualization.

"To be a Christian means to become one every day."

To be a ____________  means to become one every day. 

What do I want to become?


Okay! Everybody back on your heads!

Bleeping computers. 

Bleeping automobiles.

They give you fits.  And the older and more sophisticated the inhabitants of Casa Crowndot become, the more computers and automobiles we have.  Which can be a good thing.  But not when they break. 

I just don't seem to have as much enthusiasm for this car stuff as I did when I was 16.  Or as much enthusiasm for the computer stuff as I did in, say, 1984 ("But!  Guys!  Computers!!!1!").

Which is prelude to an excuse for not tacking new notes to the ethertubes for a while.  Well, first things first, which this is not.  


At the gate of a new year

Janus, the god who sees both directions, is where we get the name "January".  Looking into and out from, or looking backward and forward.  Perhaps the idea of the Janus speaks to the heart's desire to integrate the past and the present/future -- the actual and the potential.


But even the deity Janus could not see through the infinite possibilities of the future.  We come to a fork in the road: which way will we go?

Prudence is a gift of the Holy Spirit that aids us in finding and weighing possibilities of action in the real world.  The Christian believes in free action.  We are becoming who we will become, all the time, every day.  The God that Christians worship is a God that values freedom.  He loves freedom so much he gives us the power to screw up royally.

And He loves us so much he gives us the freedom to change.

I think this is where the tradition of the "New Year's Resolutions" list comes from.  It can be a tool for progress.  Progress in the way we want  to go, not where we feel forced  to go. It is a kind of yearly examination of material conscience.

I used to not make resolutions.  Now I make a list, keep it in a little text file, review it from time to time.  How did I do in 2012?  Some ignored.  Some successfully accomplished.  Remember:  "Any job worth doing is worth doing poorly," as I always say.  Really.  I do.  I get more done that way.  Otherwise I would never start.