2008-11-30

Computerized sketch pad interfaces

Not that I know much about the topic, I'd like to, know about the topic, that is.

Because bad as my hand-eye coordination is, I'd still do better using some form of pen drawing interface than I do using a trackball for sketching.

In theory, there are a number of products available which allow you to merrily draw on a surface and have it appear on the computer screen, and software packages which then allow you to grab what you've sketched and make it more rigorous, more as if you'd used rulers, compasses, calipers, etc., orienting the sketch and snapping the lines into a grid-assisted format.

I want this. If I felt confident about a product, I'd even be able to convince myself I need this and make the purchase, but finding information is a stone-cold bitch, pardon my Anglo-Saxon, but there ain't no sugar-coating it, information is just scarce as hen's teeth, except that as certain Discovery Channel programs have demonstrated they've engineered chickens with teeth, don't know if they've brought any to maturity, but hen's teeth aren't so scarce any longer, compared to reliable information on computerized sketch pad systems. At least in regard to what I've been able to track down, and I'm not actually the best Internet searcher out there, never had any formal coursework on it, I know searches can be put together than I do and that there have to be better search terms than I've used.

Anyway.

There are systems where you effectively have dopplering radar set up, where you bring your pen into the field and it records all the movements as coordinates and plots that on the screen, you can use a normal pen and paper with this, they have big one's you can set up using chalk/dry erase boards, standard classroom size boards, great for instruction/brainstorm sessions. Probably arcane signals for things like erasing or asking for a clean slate.

Some similar systems, still able to work with regular paper, the impression I have is that the writing implement has a small short-range transmitter embedded into it, so that you set up an tiny localized GPS system, effectively. I think this type allows for erasing via a different signal sent from the eraser end of the stylus.

Then there are the touch pad systems, where you work with a touchscreen-type system, using a stylus to sketch on the screen, kinda like the old pressure sensitive sketch pads from my youth, these are variants on the Tablet PC concept, more focused on the sketch pad end of things so they don't have a full OS but rather are recognized as an input device, generally USB interface, although I suspect that wireless version s are now available. If you could also use them as an ebook reader life would be good, but I don't think they've realized the marketability of such a hybrid, something to sketch with that can also be used for reading standard format documents, hmm, if one could use it for mark-up purposes combining both purposes it could be truly powerful; I'd like it, loads.

While I can find info on these various systems, the one thing I can't find is where I could actually try one out before buying, so I could see if I could use it successfully. Probably some CAD/graphics expo is where I'd have to go, and that just isn't gonna happen, unless something shows up locally and I hear about it, the combination being unlikely.

Why do I want something like this? I get ideas for things, and the ability to draw as I think, and to then manipulate the drawings at a latter date would be wonderful, and scanning drawings in and then struggling with mice or trackballs doesn't cut it. And some of the ideas might actually turn out to be marketable, if I could clean up my sketches without having to hire a graphical artist to do it for me, which also would have the whole problem of getting what I visualize expressed well enough that someone else could do the drawings, at a certain level I need to do the drawings myself.

Now if only I could plug my brain into a hook-up such that what I visualize appears on the screen, I'd be set. Nothing like being able to visualize in three dimensions, rotate and transform mentally, and have hands which won't do what I want them to. I can see the stuff in my mind, but transferring it to media of some sort is the problem, my hands just won't do what I want them to do.

Ties into the whole disability thing, synapses and such just don't work right, and that then triggers frustration which causes things to deteriorate and there you go, damn near comatose at time with systems shutting down on me.

Mental brilliance combined with physical sub-par ability just frustrates the hell out of me. And with the physical sub-parness resulting in mental function ranging between extreme genius and barely able to care for myself because the brain fuzzes up that much, ick.

Boy, I've wandered afield, haven't I?

If you haven't read it, look for the story, Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes, for a long time it showed up in the various best Science Fiction stories of all time collections, he then expanded it into a novel, they made it into a movie, charly (1968)with a backwards r, Flowers for Algernon (2000) I haven't seen the movies so I don't know how badly they butchered it. I feel the short story version is the best, at least it hits harder in some ways. I fear it becomes increasingly difficult for me to reflect upon the story, for it seems too reminiscent of my life, and what I fear in regard to my decline.

OK, I'm going to see if I can cheer myself up somehow, thankfully I do have an innately cheery personality.

2008-11-27

Teach your children well

It's interesting the paths my mind wends down whilst working in the yard.

Some writers of fantasy postulate that deities come to exist because they are believed in, that faith generates divinity. Others that non-corporeal beings exist, and through their interactions with us take on aspects of divinity, that they are shaped to reflect our beliefs; if one imagines electro-magnetic beings, then they could well be changed by their interaction with our own electrical fields, and given our having physical form to anchor our consciousness we would be less influenced then they, unless they be of great size.

In either case, strength of belief would have the most impact in either forming or changing such beings.

Who has the strongest belief in things? Who are they who are most capable of believing, of imagining, of creating with their minds?

Children. Children believe far more strongly than any, even than radical liberals or conservatives. Children, when hearing a tale, can become part of the tale to a greater extent than any adult, for we doubt, at some level we doubt everything, but children can accept and simply be.

And whether there is deity, whether belief creates it or it exists, or it doesn't exist, what we believe as children shapes us as adults, either by being confirmed, or via disillusionment, we are created via our belief.

If presented with a structure of warmth, compassion, a child is more likely to exhibit these characteristics as an adult. If cold, darkness is their lot, then greater the likelihood of being cold and dark as adults.

Teach your children well, for as they are nurtured, so shall they believe, and believing, be.

******
Frustrating it is, that I can never hold to myself the thoughts that come in solitude and present them unchanged, the act of trying to recollect and present changes them, what is written is never what was first thought. The more I strive the more the thoughts end up twisting and turning, like fish in water, elusive, slippery, and escaping, leaving only slime and scales behind and an elusive glimmering of the beauty that was.

And the hope that somehow, despite everything twisting awry, some glimmer of the original thought comes through and sparks a light in the minds and hearts of those who read the febrile words left behind.

2008-11-25

Why clothes never fit, or, I'm a mutant

I get tired of this.

My middle finger is 5/8 of an inch longer than the next longest finger, which makes gloves a problem. My big toe reaches to Alpha Centaurus, OK, so it's only 3/4 of an inch longer than the next toe, which makes shoes a bloody pain; they called me "Ape Toes" at camp [seriously, they did]. My arms are long for my shirt size, so either my wrists hang out for the whole world to see, or my shirt puffs out around my waist like a circus tent. My body is short in the torso, instead of worrying about Plumber's Butt my shirts end up blousing over my belt because they aren't divided for slipping down the legs; I need shirts divided like a Knight's surcoat, able to hang properly when mounted on a horse, that way they'd slip down my pants' legs properly. We won't discuss underwear.

Good thing I can sew. Bad thing the place isn't in shape for sewing. And making shoes is somewhat complicated.

I've complained this way before, haven't I? Pretty sure there's a previous post along this line. And pretty sure they'll be more of them to come.

Grumph grumph grumph

And a curmudgeonly good day to you, too!

Post this Puppy

2008-11-24

Getting cold for outdoors work

Mid-thirties this morning, kinda chill out there.

But it hadn't rained for a couple, so there I was, bundled up a bit and proceeding with turning branches into short stublets of twigs in yard debris containers, good hour and a half, but oh were my hands cold when I finally called it a day at 9ish, none of my gloves for yard work are well lined, need to look into that for the next pair, so I can work through the fall & winter.

Down to just three piles of stuff from this year to process, and then a pile of limbs from the previous pruning needs busting up. So there's the pile of apple pruning, with the remnants of the rosemary pruning now tossed on top to keep off the ground until I continue, and the bin of maple, blackberry and wild peas by the side of the house, and then the pile of maple & blackberry by the fence. No Clematis clippings left to deal with, and only one little sniblet of Clematis spotted these last two weeks; it really does look like I've done a number on that danged vine, given the climate here in the valley [Willamette Valley, that is] it's a year-round growing season for these pestiferous plants, so not seeing them means something when it's mere days til Thanksgiving; guess I'll have something to be grateful for, aside from disability coming through.

Although, it'll seem dull without the challenge of Clematis.

But it's getting to where I can look at the yard and think to myself, "Just what do I want to do with this yard, anyway?" Ya know, not just don't want x to grow, but maybe want y to grow, and perchance a little reading nook or two, for reading books, a few. It even rhymes, too. Boo hoo.

Silly I'm being, yes?

Puppy Posting Time it is!

2008-11-19

Cars, doors, and electricity

So, there I was, all set to go pick up my new glasses, get in the car, glance around, see that one door hadn't been locked, hadn't closed quite properly when I'd taken in groceries last week, shut it properly and locked it, then tried to start the car. Totally dead battery. And my jumpstart power station thingy, hadn't given it a total charge in a while, not quite up to starting the car this time. Bet I'll have to reset the clock, too.

So I'm back inside, charging up my jumpstart power station, and musing on just how loose/ajar doors cause batteries to die.

Oh, sure, I know the official reason, if the door doesn't close all the way the dome light stays on and draws down the battery, but get real! I mean, how wimpy an explanation is that?

Nope, not going to use that explanation.

Ya see, it's like this, electricity stored in batteries is a closed system, have to open the system to utilize the juice. That wimpy little dome light couldn't possibly draw enough power to drain down the battery. Nope, it was the door being ajar, see, that made it an open system and the juice was able to spill out the car and down the gutter and into the storm drains, all the way out into the Willamette River, and trust me on this, the Willamette River would be able to drain the car battery. River's got a mighty thirst for power, that it does. Not to mention how close we are to where the Willamette drains into the Columbia, mighty powerful river, that one, bunch of electrical dams on it, so full of power they have to drain it off so it doesn't get rambuncious and leap out of the banks and flood places, like it did Vanport back before the dams were built. Well, that's not quite right, bunch of anthropomorphism there, actually the water builds up this static charge when it flows fast and if they don't drain it off with the dams it just gets pulled up out of the river bed until it finds a good ground and then kind of pools up for a bit, swirling and draining, until the excess charge is all gone, then it drops back into the river bed where it's supposed to be and continues on its way to the sea, adding to the electrical charge the ocean has, which is so great it keeps sliding back and forth looking for good grounds to drain it away, that's what they call tidal action, they say they're caused by the Moon, don't see how that could be unless it's that the Moon is rubbing up against the Earth building up a static charge like a balloon on cat fur [cats aren't too pleased with that experiment, let me tell you, sharp claws and don't like the popping sound either], bet if it wasn't for the charge the rivers supplied that wouldn't be enough to cause the ocean to try and cozy up to the Moon as a good ground, don't you be telling NASA about this, can just see them trying to build the charge up enough to sail to the moon on a big wave.

Much better explanation than some dinky dome light running down the battery, unless the dome light has a real good vocabulary, then I suspect it could run down any battery it chose to. *rimshot*

Yes, it's silly season, right here in River City.

Don't know about anyone else, but my brain feels drained now, sigh.

Post this Puppy!

2008-11-16

Job Descriptions, Evaluation Criteria, and... God?

I had the misfortune, while working at the Chicago Public Library Bibliographic & Interlibrary Loan Center [CPL BILC], to work there while they changed job descriptions and evaluation criteria such that there was no way to score higher than 'satisfactory' on an evaluation.

Where formerly job descriptions had phrases such as 'process x number of requests per day,' which allowed for being more efficient than the norm, and also reflected that the workload in that department varied from day to day in a manner outside the control of the staff or administration, the new descriptions included phrases such as 'complete all requests within 48 hours of receipt,' which would be fine if the same number of requests were received each day, but was clearly insane when requests received varied between 200 and 400+, gave no allowance for staff shortages due to illness or vacation, and because of changes in processing implemented at the same time made it such that while one person was held accountable for seeing that all requests were completed in 48 hours, 2/3 of the support staff now assigned to handle those requests in an assembly-line manner were supervised by someone else, making them responsible for the results of people over whom they had no authority.

And if they succeeded in making it all work out properly, they would receive a 'satisfactory' evaluation.

Not only did merit-based pay increases become an impossibility, doing what had previously been acknowledged as 'satisfactory' could result in no step-increase in pay at all.

About that time is when I started having IBS, amongst other stress-derived ailments. My friends in after years commented that it distressed them to see me slowly falling apart, edging toward a full breakdown only avoided by transferring to a branch library, literally in the nick of time given the partial collapse I had at the end of a vacation just prior to the offer being made, where the very thought of going back into the hell-hole that department had become was more than I could deal with and I broke down crying. Considering that two years previously my perspective was that I could see myself retiring from that department in 40 years, things had changed drastically.

Any wonder that at that time I commenced one of my several ventures into Christianity, where the idea of a loving, compassionate god who cared about each of us was most welcome? Someone, who knowing it was inevitable that we would fall short of the mark, would forgive us this and hold us close and comfort us?

Hold that thought. Inevitable that we would fall short of the mark?

Um, yes. God's criteria is perfection, you cannot do any better than that, so nothing can offset any areas where it just didn't work out right.

So the best you can ever get from God, in an evaluation, is 'satisfactory' if you actually lived a perfect life according to the rules that He, as Creator of All, established. And anything less that an overall ranking of 'satisfactory' damns one eternally, unless we beg His Mercy for failing to meet his impossible standards.

Well, at least He allows groveling to set aside an 'unsatisfactory' evaluation, more than was possible at CPL.

Remember, God made all the rules. He set it up so no one could ever be under par in any area, and par for the course is the only winning score, anything over par puts you in the sand box or water trap or the trees for all eternity, unless we 'humble' ourselves and cast ourselves on His infinite Mercy. As I don't play golf, my apologies if I've reversed the definitions of 'under' and 'over' par.

Um, so I should be worshiping a tyrant who is even more petty than the ones I dealt with at Chicago Public, who at least had the justification that the standards were being handed down from the State and significant State funding of library operations were on the line? They weren't ultimately responsible for the impossible situation I had been in, the Library Administration that didn't have the guts to try to explain why the criteria was impossible and that better guidelines for evaluation needed to be developed were at fault; when you're a special case you have to document this and argue for dispensations, I'd produced, as a new hire straight out of library school, most of what they needed to make the argument, but the fact that the ILL management tried to stand up for their staff got the department labeled a 'problem' department, and replacement by hatchet-persons was the result. Um, yes, 18 years later I'm still bitter when I think about it.

Anyway, God doesn't work with standards set by someone else, at least according to the Christian Scriptures; He created everything, determined how it would all work, and set the criteria for evaluation, and knew, up front, that everyone would fail.

Yes, I've again departed Christianity, and this time I doubt I'll ever be back.

I'm not shut on religion as a whole, mind, I'm not comfortable with thinking everything in this world is a result of chance, that there is no underlying basis for judging right/wrong, good/evil, but I have a new criteria for anyone I'll be willing to follow.

At some level it has to be possible to get better than 'satisfactory' on your evaluation, anyone who sets it up otherwise isn't worth working for.

Post this Puppy

2008-11-15

One man's perspective on modern library funding, ideology and mission

No footnotes, no citations, no documentation, purely my at-this-time flow of consciousness thoughts on this topic; how late 1960s' can you get!

Which is appropriate. Library funding received a massive boost via various entitlement programs starting with the Johnson administration, not ending until the Reagan government-is-the-enemy administration. So starting in the mid-1960s libraries started expanding their services, going from the traditional library-as-repository-of-distilled-knowledge-and-culture to the library-as-liberal-stronghold-for-social-change which we all know and love/loath; this was deliberately encouraged as part of the Civil Rights Movement and the related social movements of the 1960s-70s, a deliberate policy of shaping young minds to further social change.

An entire generation of librarians entered the field believing that part of their mission as librarians was to shape society in a liberal image; those who were not comfortable with this tended to find other work, or at least steered clear of library leadership roles, focusing on the traditional nuts and bolts of library work, traditional reference services and tech services, those areas where ideology was mostly irrelevant. But the high profile positions, collection development and administration, attracted those who had Vision.

All well and good when society as a whole agrees with the vision, and funding is practically being forced upon you for these purposes. But what happens when the initial social change being promoted is complete, and a new ideology of limited Federal involvement results in significant reductions in funding?

Reason, in my mind, would indicate that you reassess your activities based on the central mission of libraries. The problem was, and remains, that an entire generation of librarians rose to power who felt/feel that one of the central purposes of libraries is to nurture social change, something which no one espoused prior to the Civil Rights Movement, and which they have taken further than anyone had intended, and they have no understanding of how funding and services interact in a market economy. When funding is cut service must needs change to reflect decreased means. When anti-taxation sentiment is being fanned by demagogues, you must needs market your services carefully to enlist the widest base of support possible, and above all things be practical in any innovative programs, providing reasons why it is a good thing, economically, to provide typewriters or computers or Internet access, and to set up policies of use which adhere to the arguments made when seeking approval for these services.

Internet access for research, job search related activities, writing papers, these are reasonable to propose and will find support. Internet access for social networking, game playing, pornography, not so; these are not reasonable services for a library to provide, and any arguments for them are inevitably going to be found specious because they are not related to the traditional roles of libraries in our societies. Libraries do not have a mandate to provide services without exercising due judgment about the worth of those services.

Libraries do have a responsibility to their funding constituencies that they provide services of the widest possible benefit, and in the most cost effective manner possible. Core services do not include ideological agendas, and libraries must operate within the law.

Libraries are not supposed to undermine a parent's authority. When I was growing up, it was accepted that certain materials were not provided in the Children's Library, and the Children's Library was isolated from the Adult Library. If parent's desired a child to have access to materials held in the Adult Collections, the parent either checked the materials out themselves, or issued instructions that their child be granted access to these materials, and certain materials would not be covered by such a waiver, the parent would have to check them out if they desired their child to access them. In the regular course of affairs, if proper research for assigned coursework required access to materials held in the Adult Collections, the Children's Librarians would retrieve those materials and make them available in the Children's Library. This was felt to be reasonable, and I knew of no one who had any complaints, and trust me, in that time period if anyone would have had complaints it was my family.

The very idea of restricting access to materials in this manner is currently anathema, and can prevent one from being hired, and can adversely effect your tenure if hired; I know this from personal experience. Never mind that until one reaches the age of majority, being 18 years of age, the child only has those rights and privileges granted to them by their parents, who are held accountable for the actions of their minor children. Nowhere has the parent granted the library the status of in loco parentis, the library has no legal standing for allowing minors access to materials restricted to adults, yet libraries all over the country argue for the children's 1st amendment rights, of which there are none; as the parents are held accountable for their children's actions, there can be no rights of the child which undermine the authority required for the parents to be accountable, otherwise the parents are placed in an impossible situation [which given the modern liberal take on things is the case, but that's for another posting...]

Back in the day, when access was circumscribed, exceptions were easy to record and permit; now, where access is open to all, it is impossible for a parent to exercise judgment in restricting access other than being physically at their child's side every second they are in a library, and how to insure the child is never there without them? Prevalent library policy forces responsible parents into the role of being an ogre. Of course, prevalent library policy is to abdicate responsibility in the name of freedom of information, as if the fact that some opinion is held means the library has to make it available, and the irony is that libraries do censor materials, but that their criteria is skewed from mainstream society, demonstrating a decided leftward bent, promoting the personal agendas of staff members instead of truly being factual and impartial.

Um, I've been at this for several hours now, and it's time for lunch, which may be starting to impact my writing.

So before it gets any worse,

Post this Puppy!

2008-11-13

Maple; Rocky Mountain? Similar, at least...

OK, the unknown trees are a bit less unknown now.

While working with web resources and tree identification for the west coast is a chancy venture at best, the USDA NRCS Plants Database leads me to believe they are closely related to the Rocky Mountain Maple; the descriptions are very close, the photos, hmm, variant is a possibility.

First thing you have to realize is that, like people, no two trees are exactly alike; we tend to forget this given that most cultivated trees are actually grafted, where clippings from one tree are spliced onto another, not quite cloning but having something of that effect. This allows one tree, selected for desired characteristics, to seemingly multiply into many trees, kept alive and spread via grafting for decades beyond the normal lifespan of said tree, and leading many to presume that all examples of that species are identical, with no variation.

Not what we have here, this are from wild seed, and many trees, while having both male and female flowers, are not self-fertilizing; they require pollen from a slightly different tree to produce fertile seeds, so by definition they do not breed true. Thus, illustrations and photos of a given species of plant merely provide a basis for comparison, not a strict criteria which must be matched to the last crinkle of their leaves.

Given all of that, our volunteer trees look to be varietals of the Rocky Mountain Maple.

Not a variety noted for it's lumber usage, given that it doesn't have one main trunk but instead has several trunks splitting off near the ground, none reaching terribly large diameters. As a source for twig furniture materials it's not a bad one, especially as it regrows from stumps quite well, and is pleasant to work with, as I already know from making the new handle for the Japanese Root Cutting Knife mentioned several entries past, and the now-mentioned-for-the-first-time walking stick for Mom [hey, she forgot her cane inside, so I handed her a section I'd just trimmed, a little tall for her but it worked, I've since cleaned it up a bit and added it to the collection of canes in our possession]. Turns out this type of Maple has cross-hatched bark, not as deeply striated as Oak, but something of that look not on steroids, as it were. *grin*

And that's the news from SE Portland, Where Men Are Men, Women Are Women, and Trees Are Trees.

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2008-11-09

Parking strips, edgers, weeds, and gloves

Tso, havink done tsome verk ont de parkink streep

erm, OK, ditch that dialect!

So, having done some work on the parking strip, I realized that I desperately needed an edger, and not the type used in woodworking [which I have]; this resulted in a trip to Harbor Freight. Or rather, was taken care of during a trip to Harbor Freight.

Nifty tool, One Stop Gardens' Lawn Edger, Harbor Freight Item 94299, a mere $4.99 [not on sale, normal price!], much better than the edger my parents' had lo these many years agone and which may not have even moved to Portland with us it's been so long since I've seen it and how's this for a run-on sentence? [inhale] Solid steel cutting blade, good haft, OK plastic handle, lousy aluminium rivets holding the blade to the haft. "How lousy?" you ask, so lousy that after maybe fifteen-twenty minutes use they'd worn through and the blade separated from the haft. Fume, not happy camper.

Have no fear, Fix-it-Man is here! First, try using a nail to create a through rivet. Yeah, I said first, implying it didn't work. It didn't, not really, something to do with not having a nail of appropriate diameter to hand. Sleep on it. [Man, no wonder my back is sore!] Come the dawn, use a pin punch to remove the nail rivet, grab Klein Tools Six-in-one tapping tool, item 627-20, a handy tool which has a reversible insert with three taps each end, smallest to largest, so you can easily thread items for use with the most common machine screws. [hey, nice threads, man] Ahem. Turns out that the 1/4-20 tap is just right for the openings in the blade & haft. Wander down to the basement, saying "Hi!" to Mom en route, grab an appropriate length 1/4-20 hex head bolt, crank a ratcheting socket wrench a bit, get it all the way through, and not need an end nut as the tension from the blade trying to get away from the haft is enough to prevent it from vibrating loose; I don't know why the blade is trying to get away from the haft, I mean it knew what it was getting into when it applied for the job, didn't it?

Anyway, tool fixed, better than new; well, since new had lousy aluminium rivets, yes, better than new is correct.

They's weeds in the parking strip. Lots of them, make you think it hasn't been weeded in decades weeds; funny thing, it hasn't been weeded in decades. Gotta do something about that...

The weeds that really need taking out, the dandelions, Queen Anne's Lace, and them Wild Peas, they all have two things in common; they sprawl, and they have deep, thick, taproots which they will re-grow from if just broken off at the surface. Nasty buggers.


Enter Grandpa's Weeder, Garrett Wade product 65P01.01, $27.50; a nifty tool, very good for this purpose, pulling taproots, and which I have no need of purchasing; you see, I actually have Granddad's weeder, pre-WWII production line, been in the family and well used for 60+ years, a quality tool which I recently replaced the handle on. Lot of that happening around here recently, yes? Anyway, when the soil is damp, as is common in the Pacific Northwest in the Fall, this tool makes them narsty taproots come out of the ground smooth as silk; there's a reason Garrett Wade brought it back into production, it is ideally suited to it's purpose, no tool developed since supplants it for ease of use and simplicity of design. Center it over the root, stab it into the ground, plant you foot on the footpad lever thingy to sink the tool as far into the soil as it will go, remove you foot and lean the handle toward the footpad, easy smooth pressure, and watch the root come out of the ground. In an ideal world, that is, some roots are nastier than others, soil conditions vary, as does dampness of soil. In my case, the soil and dampness are just right. But if it didn't cooperate entirely, there is a secondary use for the footpad thingy, it has a slot at the end which can be used to pull roots out akin to the claw on a hammer pulling nails out of a board, given sufficiently thick taproots, such as young Oaks and Walnuts, a use I put it to growing up in Salem.

And finally, gloves. The Rose Gloves I got in August, I've worn out the fingers using them to protect my fingers while grubbing in the dirt, and they're a bit expensive for that purpose. Not quite so well fitting, but still some sturdy and supple, Harbor Freight sells what they call Leather Roping Gloves, although I suspect they aren't the strongest roping gloves around, but $4.99 on sale sure beats what I paid for the Rose Gloves! Regular price of $6.99 isn't bad either. Only real problem is that they only sell them in large, and I take an extra-large due to my long fingers. But it gives me an idea of what type of glove to look for in the future, might need to visit a farming & ranching supply shop to check out their gloves to find a proper fit combined with supple strength...

Lunch time, so I'm out of here!

Post this Puppy!

2008-11-06

Raking sidewalks, gutters, storm drains... and Clematis?

No bleep, there I was...

It's Fall, no question about it.

Leaves are falling, and as Property Owners, we're responsible for the leaves on "our" sidewalks, regardless of origin...

So I'd just spent probably 30-45 minutes raking leaves; hey, they're small leaves, don't cooperate that much, and its been raining, OK?

Then I'd turned to the street gutters, cleaning out leaves before they turned into dams.

Then to check the storm drain at the bus stop.

Clematis. Growing in the storm drain. A foot to eighteen inches down. Roots into a crack in the wall. Real healthy looking, large shiny leaves, dangling down several feet to the storm sewer.

This one will be interesting, currently... no, I take that back, the pruning saw that screws onto standard thread handles, I can stick that down and cut through the vine, can't do anything about the root but I can get the vine.

But not today.

My hands are cold.

I should change afore I catch a chill, damp cloths and cold body do no one any good.

Post this cold, dry-nosed Puppy

BookletCreator: Son of Nifty Online Resources

BookletCreator is a truly nifty resource.

So you've written the next great novel, photo album, whatever, and you want to print it out and bind it in signatures.

"What's a signature?" I hear you ask? Maybe not you, but that person on the next computer to the right, yes, that one. He wants to know.

Hardcover books, thick ones tend to be made of many bundles of folded pages bound together. Each bundle is comprised of a number of pages printed such that when folded in half down the middle all the pages are in proper order within that bundle, and those bundles, when placed in proper order, are bound together to form the body of the book. Some books have an even edge, some have a wavy edge. Even edged books have been trimmed after binding, as the inner pages of each bundle project out from the outer pages. Each bundle is referred to as a signature; beats me where that term came from, and I'm not looking it up.

Printing a signature requires ordering pages in a very weird manner, so that when printed and folded everything is as it should be. Printing a set of signatures for binding into a book is trickier still if you want to keep the page numbering constant between signatures; signature one ending on page 16, for instance, signature two starting on page 17, signature three starting on page 33, and so on. And then, if you want all the signatures the same size no matter what, you often find that you need to pad the last signature with some blank pages at the end.

BookletCreator will do this for you, the ordering of pages for printing in signatures, when you provide it with a PDF document and answer certain questions, such as how many pages per signature, Left-to-Right or Right-to-Left, etc.

It will take your PDF, your criteria, and automagically reorder the pages so that when printed on a duplex printer all you need to do is count off x number of pages, fold in half, and voila, a signature! x is the number of pages to a signature divided by 4, given four pages per individual sheet of paper.

Then you get to go into more advanced bookbinding matters, but the pages are ready to go.

And the really nifty snazzy thing about BookletCreator? It's free, absolutely free.

Now if anyone knows of a program which would reorder pages for printing three to a side on 8.5 x 14, so that slicing in three produced 8.5 by 4.66 pages, and which would do this for n number of pages, reordering everything for duplex printing, I'd love to hear about it. It would be great for producing slightly off-size paperbacks.

But until then, and in all cases where I want to make hand-bound hardcovers, BookletCreator is The Bomb.

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2008-11-04

A pivotal moment in US history

I know, every blog in the US is talking about the election just completed. So be it.

While parts of John McCain's campaign upset me, his concession speech was one of the most gracious and positive speeches I've heard in some time; if his campaign had reflected this speech the result would have been much closer.

It was a clean election, in regard to the vote. No hanging chads, no voting machine problems in strongly Democratic precincts, clean, clear, unequivocal. This election did not hang on a series of unfortunate events throwing it one way rather than another.

African-American. Generally, when we think of African-American, we think of descendants of slaves, not someone who's father was Kenyan by birth; Barack Obama, far from being the traditional African-American, appears to have a cosmopolitan background that should be envied by all, which should give him the least parochial, provincial outlook of anyone who has served as President within my lifetime, if not since the founding of this country.

The first time I heard of Sen. Obama was when he spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, and my reaction at that time was that I'd be much happier voting for him than any of the candidates involved in that election. That was the same election I really wished McCain was the Republican nominee, as I preferred him to Bush and the Democratic candidates. That in four years he went from being a Chicago Senator in the Illinois Legislature to first being a US Senator from Illinois to now being the President-Elect from "The Land of Lincoln" is an incredible accomplishment.

Having paused to listen to Sen. Obama's acceptance speech, I remain impressed by this man, and hope that his, and Sen. McCain's, sentiments bear healthful fruit.

One thing I should note: Sen. Obama is a punk kid, nine months younger than I am, and we overlap our Chicago residency by a couple of years, his commencing in 1991, and my leaving to return home to Oregon in 1994. Mind, I never heard of him prior to the 2004 speech, but what the hey. And the entire time they were panning the camera around in Grant Park I was watching to see if anyone I knew showed up. Given 14 years since I moved back from Chicago, I'm not surprised that I didn't recognize anyone, but it was nice seeing pictures from my old stomping grounds.

Anyway, this is enough for now.

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Cost of items

It would be easier if I had a copy of the Stat. Ab. handy, or just did some research, but when I hear Mom mentioning how expensive things are my fingers twitch and I want to drag out real-number comparisons.

When Mom was first driving, back when she was 17, that would be 1625+17= 1642, no, wait, 1925+17=1942, she recollects paying 17¢ per gallon for gasoline. I recollect, back in the day of three gas stations at the corner of wherever-it-was, three blocks from Bush Elementary in Salem, OR, 4th grade, would be around 1969, gasoline at 25¢ per gallon. And I think it was still well under $1.00/gallon back when I started driving in 1987; yes, I got my driver's license when I was 26, ya got a problem with that?

Anyway, comparative buying power, what things cost in relation to each other at different times.

1969, 25¢/gallon for gas, Frank Herbert's Dune, one of the largest SF novels published to that time, was selling for either 75¢ or 95¢ in paperback, my memory isn't precise on that and my copy is in storage.

Currently, as in yesterday, I saw a gallon of regular for $2.53, a price I never expected to see again. Last I purchased one new, comparably sized paperback SF was selling for $7.99.

3 x 25¢ = 75¢
3 x $2.53 = $7.59
95/25=3.8
2.53 x 3.8 = 9.61

So, if the price in 1969 for Dune was 75¢, then the price of gasoline today is lower than it was in 1969 in real dollars, as the gasoline costs less, in relation to the cost of paperback SF, now than then.

1942 15¢/gallon, Mom thinks her Piano teacher was making maybe 50¢ per lesson, I suspect that's a bit high for 1942. 15/50= 0.3
2008 $2.53/gallon, my sister makes something like $35.00/lesson, I think. 2.53/35= .07

If the initial numbers are correct, by this calculation gasoline costs a fraction of what it did in 1942; it would be more reliable if I was comparing the cost of milk or apples in season or things like that, non-luxury items... except that in 1942 an automobile was a luxury item, Mom doesn't realize just how privileged she was to be driving a car at that time. There was a reason that the various stores in downtown Portland would deliver purchases for no charge, that the various grocers did the same; people didn't have the means of carrying very much when shopping, the merchants had deliverymen running regular routes as a matter of course. And then after the war, when the Interstate freeway system was built, as a military expense, and the GI Bill created a greatly enlarged educated workforce, changing the economic picture, the Suburbs came into existence, strip malls and shopping centers with monster parking lots began to compete with lower prices as they weren't providing free delivery as a matter of course, the whole economic structure of our society changed.

It's impossible to make comparisons between pre-WWII and post-WWII pricing which have any validity unless you somehow factor in the change in economic structure produced by the military subsidy of the interstate automotive infrastructure; pre-war the railroads ruled, post-war there was a paradigm shift to the interstates due to Federal subsidies, and the impact that had on everything. And it is still with us. There is no rational economic system which would make it more economical to utilize trucks over railroads for long-haul transportation of goods. It requires an artificial subsidy, and every time the market tries to correct this we interfere. The very people who rant and rave about government interference in the marketplace prosper only because of government interference in the marketplace.

OK, I'm not going down this path any further, we're talking Ph.D. Thesis work to document just how various changes in the legal code have influenced corporate business practice as well as the impact of government subsidy of the Automotive transportation network upon the marketplace, etc., etc., etc.

All I know is that if I ever sat down and got the research done, no one would like what I had to say about our current economic and social structure in relation to a true market environment.

I have a far darker vision than Marx & Engels; I do not see Communism, I see Fascism as the result of unregulated Capitalism, either that or a collapse via anarchy to a new feudalism, with a die-off of at least 50% of the population.

Right, said I wasn't going down that path any further, then went even further down the path to post economic collapse prophetics.

Gah.

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Vision, function, and, of course, more yard stuff

Yesterday I came to realise just why I can't seem to focus on things; I really do need to order new glasses now that I have a current prescription, I can't focus because my eye correction is that far off. How plebeianly mundane.

The inability to properly focus does have a decided impact upon my ability to function, the mind strives to make sense of that which is senseless due to it being fuzzy, draining much needed CPU cycles to use a computer metaphor. Having, as a result of a shopping trip yesterday, replenished my potassium levels [bananas, gotta love them!][ditto blackstrap molasses, chock full of lovely nutrients to a remarkable degree], my next mission should be eyeglasses.

After that, time to take over the world! ["Pinky, are you thinking what I'm thinking?" "why yes Brain, but how do we get the Boston Philharmonic into leiderhosen for the Macy's Day Parade?"]

Riiight.

And to Yard Debris: Pile 1, as described in the October 31, 2008 posting, is considerably diminished, to the tune of two yard debris containers; Thursday is Yard Debris pickup, lots of lovely stuff to go away again. Speaking of which, they've finally gotten around to charging us for all the extra containers I've been placing out, to the tune of $47.50 for the last three months, a mere pittance considering just how much stuff I've been putting out every two weeks! I mean, $2.50 per each additional container, um, that's less than a decent cup of coffee or glass of beer each, not to mention the comparison to a haircut or movie... or more appropriately in my case, the cost of a book, any book. No question about it, at the rate I'm going I'll have all the yard debris piles eliminated by the end of the year.

Then I'll have to find something else which grabs my interest in similar fashion.

Hopefully, organizing the shop will grab my interest, and then organizing storage, and moving things into said storage, and determining what stuff we have that can Go Away, and making it go away, and making it possible to do stuff, like sewing and leathercraft and woodworking and oh just lots of Neat Stuff which will utilise materials I've accumulated over the years, and setting up an electronics lab, and trying to repair dead circular saws and such ilk, and basically wanting to get myself doing stuff that continues to give me a sense of accomplishment.

And it wouldn't hurt if the fancy caught me to finish getting Apt 4 ready for renting again, and got it rented, this time to reasonable folks.

And seeing about having contact with people locally, like actually seeing people in person, not just Internet stuff. Although reasons of vanity and self esteem puts that off until after I've gotten a ton of work done on my teeth. See, I discovered that Whole Grains are bad for you, if not cooked properly, which is tricky, bad for you as in wearing off the outer layer of the teeth bad, which is then followed by wearing down the teeth; if I was a Gift Horse, you'd sure better look me in the mouth! So I'm very selfconcious about my teeth right now, and given that when I'm happy I beam a lot, great big smile, lots of teeth, nice enough expression that it alone garnered me one girlfriend, well, being around others is and is not something I want right now, but I've an appointment with the OHSU Dental School on December 4th, 8:30 AM, to have an initial evaluation; I think the dental school will find my mouth a useful teaching environment, which given no dental insurance other than whatever Medicare A&B provides is a good thing.

And don't let any English Majors see that last paragraph... Oh, Hi Missy!

busted

Anyway, getting on toward when eyeglass shops would be opening, so time for me to think about vamoosing, as in time to

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