Cool Stencil Technique

When we were on our honeymoon, we saw some spray paint artists using a nifty stenciling technique. In order to paint objects with interesting details, they used manila file-folders with the large object cut into one side, and the detail cut into the other. This way, they lined up very neatly, and it was simple business to paint elaborate tropical fishes, things with stylized shadings, etc.

Very fine!

Six things...finally

-Everytime I drive past a semi-truck I have to look and see that someone is actually driving it, thanks to the movie "Maximum Overdrive." -I can only read magazines from back to front. -When I laugh too hard, my eye twitches. On occassion, I snort. -When I go to resteraunts I have to organize the sugar packets by color, size and alphabetically. -If one of my hands or feet gets a drop of water on them I have to get a drop of water on the same spot on the other hand immediately. Same thing if one hand gets completely submersed, I must to the same to it's opposite. -Meat is my favorite food. I am practically a carnivore. Nay, I am a carnivore.

It Might Work.

During various waits in the cleanroom or at my desk during simulations, I've been reading in the final draft of FM3-24, the Army's and Marines' new counterinsurgency manual.

It would seem that General Petraeus and his other authors have a strong sense of the history of insurgent and counterinsurgent operations. There are many historical insurgencies discussed with what reads to be great facility.

The claim (and a reasonable one it is) is that one of the keys to defeating an insurgency is providing security for those who are not participants; the butcher, baker, and candlestick maker need to be able to go about their business and provide for their families.

Clearly, the bombs and murders in Iraq indicate that despite our troops being in Iraq, they may be located in the wrong places. We read in the papers and magazines and hear on CSPAN that most of the troops are currently located in either forward operating bases (FOBs) , or in other secured locations, and they sally forth to conduct tactical operations.

Strangely, this is probably both the safest and the least safe organization for our guys and ladies, depending on the time horizon. They (authors of FM3-24) say that in the short run, the situation is security punctuated by periods of danger, and in the long run, the situation is indefinite exposure to these periodic vulnerable moments--because we can't effectively provide security to the mass of people who are afraid of being exploded at the market or abducted at work and murdered in an alley, and without that security, the population won't turn out their assailants.

Therefore, it seems the plan that is being implemented is to put more troops in more immediate danger, with the idea that by allowing our troops to stay in the areas they secure, making connections with the populace, and building trust and incremental other improvements, the insurgents will lose the power of terror over the populace--the people will be free to collaborate with our forces in achieving their security.

The upshot of this plan is that in the short term, things are likely to get worse for our troops. More injuries and deaths. However, it may work. I don't know--it may be too late for a change tactics to achieve the goal of stability and safety in Iraq. I don't like the idea of more young men (and women; support troops will not be any safer than they have been) being asked to give the "final measure of devotion," but we've started another civil war that may lead to another Rwanda... I worry that with the current civilian leadership in the White House, we can never expect better results. If someone else were there, I might be able to advocate the extra troops and more time... but I can't trust our current Executive; they've been wrong on too many occasions.


A Couple of Things

  1. Thing the first
    1. Megan, you should do the "six things." Dad, Mom, Sis, anyone else, please also join in in comments.
  2. Thing the second
When she was perhaps 6 years old, Megan did a really funnny thing. One summer day, Melissa and Matt were not, for whatever reason, home. Mom and Dad went off early to hit the yard sales, leaving Megan and me at home. I was a teenager and usually spent a goodly portion of Saturday and Sunday sleeping (making up for the lateness of my weekday reading). Megan, not realizing I was home, got a bit worried... and called 911.

I woke up when I sherrif's deputy stuck his head in my bedroom door (hand on gun), and asked if I lived there, and if my parents were around... I explained things, got out of bed, and gave Megan a bit of a hard time for it. I figured that now she's all grown, I should bring it up again, and supply a bit of perspective.

Note: This is not an invitation for any parents to spill stories of my own foibles, many though they be.


6 Weird Things About Me

Susan has "invited" me to participate in this "meme." (I think it's a misuse of the word, but whatevs). Here you go:
  • Clean Messes: I don't mind a certain amount of messiness... so long as edges of objects in the mess are parallel and not askew.
  • Stubbornly Refuse Recommendations: Basically, if more than one person (or the same person more than once) recommends something to me forcefully, I will refuse it. I don't know why, but it seems like badgering, and I hate badgers.
  • Afraid of Heights But Love to Fly, Ride Rollercoasters, Climb Things: Go figure. I'm terrified when I look over high edges, or drive near ravines, cliffs, etc.
  • Life Sized Cardboard Cutouts and People in Animal Suits Disturb Me: I just get the willies!
  • Tremor: I have one. Have had for years.
  • Periodic Teeth-clenching Whilst In Transit: I clench my teeth (gently) whenever I pass between dots on a dotted-line road.
Weird, I know.


We need legislation to stop illegal immigration

Thus read a letter to the editor in Saturday's Daily Courier. Pardon me, but isn't legistlation implied in the fact that it is illegal? This guy just hates Mexicans. Speaking of letters to the editor hating Mexicans-we got a funny one for The Byline. Apparantly there is this crazy man who hangs around the campus in Medford and he wrote a letter regarding the Mexican Cartel in Medford and how they are dealing ''. I am guessing he meant 'pathenogens', but that still doesn't make sense.


Donnie Darko

Susan seemed to like the movie quite a bit--at least that is what she claims--but I did not really care that much for it. I couldn't really say why...

We can explore my reaction to Susan's points.
  1. Beautifully shot: First off, I do agree that it was beautifully shot. The visuals were quite striking. I didn't really notice the score at all, but then I rarely do. Unless it is like one of those movies from the "Golden Age of Cinema," full of orchestral music recorded at much, much too high a level.
  2. Paranoid schitzophrenic: This may well have been the thing that made me not like the movie. It was disturbing. Note that I won't say that it was a bad movie. Just that I didn't like it.
  3. The pseudoreality concept: I'm not generally against pseudoreality in film or print. I didn't like Owl Creek, either, though.
I don't know... de gustibus, I guess.


I am the Picture of Health

Contra my recent post, eh? Leaving aside my many sicknesses of late, I've recently had (most of) a "guerrilla physical.*"

My heart and lungs are in good health: bp 110/75, resting heart rate 68, no untoward lung-sounds, total cholesterol level 128mg/dL, with approximately equal HDL and LDL levels. My kidneys and liver are functioning just fine: kidney and liver enzyme levels nominal. My blood is healthy: electrolyte levels are nominal, hematocrit, hemoglobin, red- and white-blood cell count and volume all fine. My ears, nose, throat, and eyeballs are all okay: all normal and healthy, though I'm now getting a very minor astigmatism (for which I'll be getting some glasses).

* The student health center at school doesn't give physicals, so I had to make several visits and request a variety of examinations to make up my "guerrilla physical."


She says...

We watched Donnie Darko last night (first time for me, second time for Tom). I am not going to deny that it is an exceedingly strange and messed up movie. It is most definitely that. Disturbing, too. However, I liked it. I liked it for the following reasons:
1) It was beautifully shot.
I have to say that this was one of the prettier films I've seen in a while. In the opening sequence, we're swept along a mountain road, panning out over the valley as the sun rises. The musical score was affecting without being overbearing, I think, which added some level of intensity to the images.

2) I haven't seen too many movies that tell the story from the point of view of a paranoid schizophrenic.
And A Beautiful Mind this ain't. Not that I have any first-hand experience with schizophrenia, so I cannot attest to the validity of this portrayal, but it was interesting to watch "reality" unfold as the main character perceives it. At times he even knows what he is seeing and interacting with isn't real, but you can understand how he gets sucked into believing it anyway.

3) It seems that I dig the whole "pseudoreality" concept.
I enjoyed Ambrose Bierce's short story Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge when I read it in high school. This movie was very similar in its basic structure. It may not be the most meaningful or intellectually stimulating of plot types, but whatever. I like it, even if that makes me some kind of dolt. ;)
Perhaps now Tom might weigh in on why he didn't/doesn't like this movie...



Books read over the honeymoon:


A Fun Idea

For some time, I've liked the idea of a "network" based on "syndicating" TV shows that were canceled before their times. For example, they might run Freeks and Geeks, Firefly, Undeclared, Sports Night, Arrested Development, and My So Called Life . Unfortunately, it would seem that most cancelled shows are quite terrible.


Sick Tour

Since about New Year's Eve, I've been, one way or another, ill. A list of symptoms I have experienced
  • GI distress
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Aches
  • Sensitive skin
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Fatigue
I think I even had a little bit of hysterical pregnancy yesterday.

It's interesting because I generally only have one or two symptoms, not all in a row. Oh- did I fail to mention that these were kind of all "lined-up," and not simultaneous?


Life, Art, Etc.

There are too many monkeyfarmin' scorpions on this monkeyfarmin' plane!


Sublime and Not

First, the sublime: I heart the iPhone. Just look at it! It's like a space-ship! That you use as a phone!

Now, the not: At CES, Bill Gates had a very important announcement.
Our ambition is to give you connected experiences 24 hours a day.... And in thinking about that broadly, one area that comes up that clearly demand [sic] special work, and that is thinking about connecting to the car...

But the car is special. You've got to have things that are simple. (like a computer)

And so we've been investing in this, and we've had a very key partner who's been willing to pioneer this with us, and we're just making a significant announcement in that overall vision today. And so to help me with that, I'd like to welcome Mark Fields, the president of the Americas for Ford Motor Company, to join me on stage. (Applause.)


BILL GATES: Welcome, Mark.


MARK FIELDS: The new thing is a fully integrated, voice activated, in-car communications and entertainment system for mobile phones and digital music players...

So what Synch does is it totally integrates like never before all of your electronic devices, like your cell phones, Zunes, iPods, all the things that are in your pockets when you get in your car, right into the vehicle, and seamlessly...

Yes, what a good idea. We should let Microsoft get its tentacles into our cars. It won't be long before the following joke doesn't make the software guy look bad:

Four engineers were driving a car. There was a chemical engineer, a mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer, and a software engineer. Suddenly, the engine died and it coasted to a stop on the shoulder.

"Must be vapor lock", said the chemical engineer.

"The distributor's probably shot", said the electrical engineer.

"The timing belt broke", opined the mechanical engineer.

Then the software engineer spoke up. "Look, everyone calm down. Let's just get out of the car, then get back in and start it back up."