Monday, January 21, 2008

I can stop anytime I want

There's a local hardware chain I like to shop at here in the soggy Pacific Northwest. It has *real* hardware, not Home Depot plastic do-it-yerselfer-type junk. Plus, it employs many Old Coots (male and female) who love nothing better than discussing arcane solutions to peculiar repair problems. Owning an old home, plus remodeling of same, means I spend quite a bit of quality time there. Exactly how much was recently illustrated when my checkout person commented a) I was in there frequently and b) this was a comparatively small purchase for me. I'm already on a first-name basis with the tool department guy. He worries when he doesn't see me for a while. I had to assure him I just wasn't needing tools for this phase of the project. It is really sad when the entire store seems to know who I am. At least they aren't all shouting "Welcome!" when I come in the door. I'm not addicted, I'm not!

I do expect an engraved invitation for Customer Appreciation Day, though ...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Time for the Killer Joke

Given all the brouhaha over the Iranian Precision Speedboat and Littering Drill Team giving an impromptu performance for the entertainment of the US Navy recently, it occurred to your Humble Snarkatron that there is a distinct need for a new category of military deterrence -- namely, mockery and humiliation. Since it isn't always possible to just blow up people who are annoying you (usually with the *intent* of making you blow them up so they can claim to be unjustly attacked), and the only remaining option appears to be "do nothing and encourage more of the same." If we can't kill them yet still want to persuade them that mucking with us is a Bad Idea, what could we possibly use?

Some suggestions:

- The Mk I high-pressure Olefactory Offensive Watergun. Uses seawater with an additive tank containing really, really bad perfume and a non-toxic dye. Remember that ghastly Giorgio perfume department store employees were always trying to spritz you with if you didn't deck them first with a flying judo kick? My sources tell me there are giant tanks of the stuff still available (well, nobody bought it did they?). Plus, in the course of my scientific career I have encountered dyes that will permanently mark the skin--can't be washed off, and you have to wait for the skin to grow out to get rid of it. Coumarin was one of the best. Nice bright orangy-red color.

- Aquatic Silly String. Biodegradable over a period of a day or so, these long-chain polymers preferentially attach to high-speed motor propellers and intakes. No permanent damage to equipment if motor is not run while goop prevents movement. (We'll have filters and counteractive treatments for our ships, if necessary) I'm thinking pink is a nice color for this.

- mini-mines. Limpet-like attachments for boat surfaces, or engine intakes. Only detonate if target is "painted" with narrow-beam frequency, and so small that minimal damage is done -- but enough to immobilize the boat. Then the US Navy will, *of course*, come to the aid of the poor stricken jellyfish farmers, rescuing them, providing them with nice comfy "Hello Kitty" footy-PJs to replace their wet clothes, and maybe even a pink, flower-encrusted goody bag to take home with them! We'd even take pictures of the event to share with them, their friends, their government, the AP wire, Nigerian spammers, Martians ....

- Floaters. Think barrage balloons, but floating on the surface of the water. Sure, you can pop them, but then you get coated in that obnoxious powder that they stuff airbags with. Or itching powder. Every fifth one will be filled with Nair. Bald, beadless Iranian nutjobs ... that would be very funny. To us.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


That, dear readers, is a camellia. Blooming in January. Beside it are some ambitious irises. Yeah, we only get two hours of daylight per day right now and it rains 25 hours out of 24, but we have *flowers*. I think I saw some early flowering cherry around too. See what happens when you don't have snow? If global warming pans out, this could be YOU! (And if the solar cycle people are correct, I still have my snow shovel...)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Attention all anti-war loons with no manners

We know you hate the war. You can shut up now. You can *especially* shut up when I'm in a movie theater, waiting to see the highly anticipated Golden Compass, and horror of horrors, an ad for the National Guard comes up. I don't care if it gives you the vapors. Did you have to announce to the entire theater in a loud voice that you "didn't come here to see war propaganda"? And when nobody else seemed to care, you had to come back a minute later and say it again?

That was me in the audience inviting you to leave, by the way. I was polite in deference to the children present. If you hadn't stomped out in a snit to demand your money back you would have seen a movie that brought up the ugly little fact that sometimes bad people want to do bad things to you, and the only way to stop them is to fight back.

And "Citizen Soldier" isn't war propaganda, you overcooked noodles. THIS is war propaganda.