Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Glyptodon: Giant Relatives of the Armadillo

I was browsing the news before signing off for the evening when I followed a link to slideshow-esque article about an Argentinian farmer finding a Glyptodon fossil buried in his field. I won't link to the article in question, because I despise articles formatted that way, and only shear fascination got me through that click-fest to learn of the Glyptodon. As soon as I had the name of the creature I closed that window and searched for more, better-formatted, information about it. I'd never heard of the creature before, but it was a genus of large, armored mammals that are like giant armadillos. Unsurprising, they are relatives of the armadillo, and they went extinct thousands of years ago, but likely coexisted with humans for some times. Unsurprisingly, their fate is debated, as with other megafaunal extinction: was it hunting, climate change, or both? Some have speculated on humans of yore using the shells of dead ones as shelters.

By Heinrich Harder (1858-1935) - The Wonderful Paleo Art of Heinrich Harder, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1143767

Apigalypse Now

I'm to tired from day job and working on the trailer to write something intelligent or pithy, so I will simply mention that reports of a Great Texas Pig Apocalypse.  Don't worry, Texas has a plan. Surprisingly, it doesn't involving shooting the feral pigs.  Apparently, that approach can't kill enough of them, quick enough.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Brain Dead

I feel like I'm brain dead at the moment. Too much time staring at the computer screen at work, followed by a couple of mildly-strenuous hours of work on the trailer, and my evening walk, and doing the dishes, have left me in a sorry state tonight.  So I'll just provide this handy link to a pair of cute cat pictures.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Keys - Don't Leave Home Without Them

Keys - don't leave home without them. Seriously. Once you've locked and closed that door behind you, you're not getting back in without them. Maybe you've got a way around that problem. Maybe you stuck an extra in your wallet, which you also left back in the house. Maybe you gave a copy to a friend, but they're inconveniently unavailable. Or maybe you were smart and hid a key someplace - and can even remember where that someplace is. If none of the options pan out, there's always a locksmith - assuming you have a phone available to call them with. Of course, the simplest solution is just don't walk out the door without them.

The locksmith did eventually arrive. The normal tricks failed, leaving him to drill out the lock. If I'd known he was just going to drill out the lock, I'd have grabbed the cordless power drill that was still available in the backyard and saved myself a lot of time - though a trip to the hardware store and a new knob installation would have still taken time and expense. Two hundred fifty dollars later, I have a new door knob. Sigh. It is nice and shiny. That's an improvement, actually - the finish had begun wearing off the old one, and it would sometimes, rarely, act up.

At least I made some more progress on the trailer today. Even there, the ninety minute delay imposed by the lock incident seriously cut into my working time, as by the time that was dealt with daylight had faded and the temperature was soon to dip below the dew point, making any sanding or painting of old steel a problematic proposition. Tomorrow promises to be nice again, so maybe I can get a bit done after work.

Another lesson today reinforced: refit work is far more time consuming than new build. If I wasn't having to work around pieces already in place, or a previous owner's attempts at repairs, this would be a much easier proposition. Or if I'd gone ahead and drilled out hundreds of rivets and done a frame-off restoration - though without a garage trying to protect the floor of a 20 foot long trailer floor while replacing it might have been a messy prospect. Oh, well.  We live, we learn. Each day brings me closer to completion, even if they fall short of the progress I'd really like to be making.  I shouldn't complain much - the weather has been awesome for February.

Okay, enough rambling for now. I'm going to get cleaned up and go to bed. More writing and programming will come again someday when the weather takes a turn for the worse, I need a break, or I get the trailer floor replaced and the overall thing sealed up a bit more.  Have a nice night, everybody.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

All the Live Long Day

I've been working on the trailer,
All the live long day.

Actually, it just seems that way.  I did spend quite a bit of time today and yesterday working on my ancient but decrepit Airstream camper trailer, making it slightly less decrepit. I did other things, as well.  I made trips to the orange big box store, to replace both the drill bit that broke and the second drill bit of the same size that broke 90 seconds later, and to pick up a few other items.

And I celebrated some friends' birthdays with them. I made a little more progress on reading The Sea & Civilization, and have at least reached medieval times, slightly more than halfway through the book. Venice is a new and growing power. As I'm only reading this book when I grab food out, progress has been understandably slow. It is actually quite an interesting book, covering seafaring across the entire throughout the broad span of human history. I'll write a review when I eventually finish it.

I just finished reading Amanda Green's Nocturnal Lives "boxed" set on my tablet.  The set consists of the novels Nocturnal Origins, Nocturnal Serenade, and Nocturnal Interlude. They're urban fantasy detective novels, a change from my normal reading, but a lot of fun. I would definitely recommend them if you like mysteries and urban fantasy. If you're only a fan of one or the other genre, I'd still suggest giving them a look - you might find you like them.

One of the things I picked up today was battery-powered inflater that uses the same battery packs as my battery-powered power tools.  It worked like a charm, showing the pressure. I had a 12 volt inflater that works OK, but I either need to have it plugged into my car's cigarette lighter/power port, or else run an extension cord and converter, and doesn't have a built-in pressure gauge.  What I bought today does have a built-in pressure gauge, and doesn't need any darn cords.  I love that.

And with that, I shall wish you all a good night.

Book Review: The Undercover Captain

Earlier this week, I purchased and read The Undercover Captain, by Henry Vogel.  It is the second book in his series focusing on the adventures of Captain Nancy Martin, late of the Federation Navy. I'd previously read the first book, The Counterfeit Captain, and enjoyed it, so I was glad but not surprised to find I enjoyed this second book, as well.

The story takes place after the main events of the first book, but before its concluding chapter.  You have no need to have read that first book to enjoy this one, though it is worth a read in its own right.  This book opens to a more Captain Martin drinking herself into a stupor as the dramatization of events play upon the screen in a bar.  The few bits of backstory you need are picked up rapidly enough.

Soon, Nancy Martin is dragged into a more sober pursuit: finding and rescuing an entire class of missing school children, who authorities believe to have been taken by a slave ring.  She goes undercover with a government agent in hopes of rescuing the children and breaking the ring - playing up her storied past when it is most advantageous.

It is filled with tension as the key questions hang over the entire operation.  Will they save the children? Will they stop future kidnappings? Will they bring the criminals to justice? Read it to find out the answers.

The book was free of distracting typographic or formatting issues.  The language is comfortably simple without being childish, so it reads quite easily and quickly.  The fast-paced plot also helps it move.  I read it in one two hour sitting, and enjoyed it quite a bit.  I recommend this novel to anybody interested in mysteries, science fiction, or space operas.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Movie Review: The Lego Batman Movie

Last Friday I went to watch The Lego Batman Movie. As a fan of Batman, Legos, and the original Lego movie, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

As with a number of previous Batman stories, one of the themes of The Lego Batman Movie is Bruce Wayne's struggle to cope with the long-ago loss of his parents. In this particular movie, he's even more out-of-touch with his emotions than in most, to the point of denying any exist. Overcoming this is a central element of the overall story.

Batman's nemesis in the film is the Joker, supported by every Batman villain I can ever recall and more besides, from the 1960's television series through the movies of more recent years. Riddler, Catwoman, the Penguin, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Mister Freeze, and King Tut were among those I recognized. I'm not even sure all of those who appeared were actually in previous Batman works, or if some were added just to be even more over the top. Later in the film, even more villains make their appearance, from beyond the world of DC Comics. I will not offer details to avoid spoilers, but will mention that fans of science fiction and horror should recognize most of them, and they're a scary lot.

I saw the film in traditional format, not in 3D.  I thought it worked quite well in that format. Lego-ized versions of scenes from earlier Batman movies, and an actual clip from the Batman TV series, are part of the movie, and various bits of music and costumes from decades of Batman works make their appearance.  It lacks the infectious "Everything is Awesome" song of the original Lego movie, but is a fun-filled romp nonetheless.

If you like Batman or enjoyed the original Lego movie, you will probably enjoy this movie.  If you like Batman and enjoy the original Lego movie, you should definitely check it out.  I enjoyed the heck out of it. It was a decent way to spend 1:45 minutes on a cold winter day.