Thursday, February 26, 2009

Like this will surprise anyone.

You are a

Social Conservative
(33% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(80% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Strong Republican




Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also : The OkCupid Dating Persona Test


Well it appears to have posted properly. Interesting test! Some of the questions were hilarious, go take it yourself!

Hat tip to: Breda

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Obamanation...

So, I'm just flabbergasted.

I'm not really surprised, but its pretty painfull anyway. Everyone's favorite Democrats and our 'great' President Mr Messiah Barak Obama have set up a spending bill thats supposed to 'save' us from the recession that spends almost a third of last years entire federal budget.

Of course the truth is that A: What little stimulus is really in the bill isn't going to do a damn thing

And B: Its just full of pork. Oink Oink Oink.

(yes, I realize I'm over a week late on this, but I've been letting it stew for a while, as I thought about it)

From what I understand, if our Republican/Conservative Congressmen can actually win back some seats in 2010 there's a chance they can keep about eighty percent of this spending from happening.

Lets hope. But, for the moment, lets consider something. We've seen the *BIGGEST* spending bill *EVER*.

The total government money borrowed or printed in the last year has been absolutely stunning. And while Obama didn't technically *start* it, he's certainly riding the wave.

And we have four more *YEARS* of this.

YEARS.

Gods. We. Are. Fucked.

*sigh*

If it wasn't for my daily dose of Rush managing to make me *LAUGH* at it, I'd be in the corner crying somewhere.

I think I'm just going to go home and play some Dawn of War II. I wonder if someone could mod the heads of prominent democrats onto the heads of Orcs...

Burn the Heretic, Kill the Mutant, Destroy the Xenos! *racks the slide on his Bolter*

-Jon

Friday, February 20, 2009

I like the Unbending Traditionalist part...


You are The Hierophant


Divine Wisdom. Manifestation. Explanation. Teaching.


All things relating to education, patience, help from superiors.The Hierophant is often considered to be a Guardian Angel.


The Hierophant's purpose is to bring the spiritual down to Earth. Where the High Priestess between her two pillars deals with realms beyond this Earth, the Hierophant (or High Priest) deals with worldly problems. He is well suited to do this because he strives to create harmony and peace in the midst of a crisis. The Hierophant's only problem is that he can be stubborn and hidebound. At his best, he is wise and soothing, at his worst, he is an unbending traditionalist.


What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Another Day, Another Dollar... which tommorrow might be worth about fifty cents.

So I've been pondering writing about the recent shinanagans perpetuated by those idiots some other idiots voted into office. However, there are a lot of people out there (some of them found on my blog roll) that have done a better job lambasting this.

So I'll settle for this - Remember this as we weather the storm, because this was just the opening salvo, the shot across the bow - if you will. It's going to get much, much worse, and it will continue for at least two to four years barring acts of God or angry militia.

(Please note I'm not advocating an armed uprising... yet.)

So instead I'm going to talk about my recent time waster. Europa Universalis III (In Nome update). It is perhaps the epitome of long term grognard games. Or at least, the highest summit I have climbed to date. You'll have to forgive me, but the company who publishes it eludes me, but they also made another gem called Hearts of Iron II which simulates the things that lead up to and through the Second World War, and into the Cold War, along with a lot of spiffy what if scenarios - and that game can suck me in for days on end, and it only covers a brief span of thirty years at the longest.

...EU3 on the other hand starts in 1399 and can last until 1826 or so. Thats a game for the long haul. As with most high level world domination/strategy type games, the trick is an eternal juggling act, praying certain random number generators fall your way as often as possible. (And, when they don't that you've covered as many bases as possible.) There are no less then four sub systems to the economy, two of which are intertwined in a way that makes very little sense, when viewed from a high level, but once you figure out how it works, at least functions in an understanding manner.

Since the setting is Europe, its fair to understand that you're going to be at war with someone neigh on constantly. Early game, there are tons of little 'countrys' scattered about Europe, all of which have interwoven alliances and royal marriages enough to make one's head spin. (And give you a good idea of just how screwed up WWI *could* have been). But being at war is bad for your overall stability as a country, and generally the locals don't like it when you take papa away from them (by drafting him into the army, natch) and then send him off to die on the fields of Normandy with a few thousand of his closest friends).

And of course, you only have so much room in the manpower pool before there's just no more men left to re-enforce your military if you've over extended yourself. (So, for example, its best to try to *not* piss off the French, they just have too many troops early game. But, they're the French, and back then still sorta had Balls and wanted to rough up virtually everyone.)

I find myself playing England most of the time. Probably because I like having a wall of wooden ships keeping the Euro-trash from soiling my front yard. There is a down side though - you have to find a way to deal with Scotland, since the idiots seem to like to ally with France, and then declare war on you. So the French can take your few Europe propper provences early game, while you basically subjigate the Scotts. And you have to put down those rabble rousers, because if you don't, they'll just keep poking at you, usually at the most in-opportune times.

And of course, the computer does like to throw you a serious curve now and again. In my last game, France had off and decided to declare war again because well, they were bored, and I'm England, and still had my (three) European provences, and this obviously annoyed them. So Suddenly I find myself fighting Castile (early Spain), France, and a bunch of tiny French Lapdogs. France has walked into my provences and sat on them and have too many troops for me to dig out.

...So I attacked Castile. Who's troops I could manage, my allys (and willing Vassals, the crazy Irish) joined in with gusto, and I was halfway to trouncing Castile and forcing it to heel when the bulwark that had held the French back (A country called Aragon, whom the French could not march through to aide the Castiles, and my Navy was handling the rest) found out (along with me) that the Burgundy King had willed his throne to me (Henery the IVth, at the time. I wouldn't will my throne to Henery the Fourth, but thats just me) and that ticked Aragon off cause they wanted it... or something. So they went to War with me. They of course couldn't get past my Navy either... but they sure could attack me in Castile.

Where I was having a grand old time, and dispite getting low on manpower, was set to crush the spanish... until 14,000 fresh troops were knocking on my door.

The keys to crushing the French long term were in my fingers... and the King of Burgundy just couldn't hold onto life for another three years while I finished prosecution.

What a mess.

Guess I'll just have to try again :D

Monday, February 2, 2009

Some Fiction for lack of real content.

For lack of real content right now... I dug this piece of fiction out of my old files today. Its the 'opening gambit' off a story called 'Blood and Water' that I wrote as an exemplar for an writing site that never got off the ground - but I like it, so I'll share.

I hope you enjoy. Some folks will recognize the main character's name.

-Jon

Blood and Water - Opening Gambit.

Darkness was always an ally, he’d been taught, years before, but never a friend – because it gave the same advantages to both sides – if they knew how to use them. At the moment it was a mixed blessing, as he continued his attempt to pick the lock of the rooftop entrance to the building. He’d never been particularly adept at the skill, but then, the locks in this city were seldom all that good, either. Good locks cost money, and that was always in short supply.

However – today, this particular lock was beginning to frustrate him. His concentration was suddenly broken by a voice in his ear, “Boss, I’ve seen you pop a lock a hell of a lot faster. You take much more time; you’re going to grow roots.”
The pick he was using snapped and he growled, “Would you like to come down here and do it kid?”

“Um, I’ll pass.” She recognized the edge in his voice, and there was no point twisting the knife.

“Good. Keep the channel clear.” Rising from his crouch he drew his pistol. It was a .45 caliber semi automatic – and as he partner who was across the way would tell you, it was his baby.

From behind her binoculars Silver swore under her breath. The job was supposed to be a silent run – but they hadn’t had enough cred to put together the proper tools, and it was about to get rather loud and personal. The boss, as she often called him though she though of him as more then that, when he wasn’t around – occasionally made rash decisions when he was frustrated. If they were lucky though, they could still pull this off. All he had to do was screw on a silencer…

Aiming at the wood around the door’s bolt, Devin fired three shots in quick succession, waited a moment, and then fired three more. The shots echoed through the night. He hadn’t brought the silencer. It wasn’t that he wanted to be loud; it was that he had no choice. He’d snapped his last good pick in the lock, and now even with a key, he wouldn’t be getting through the door. And – well good quality silencers were hard to find if you didn’t build them into the weapon itself, and Devin hadn’t been able to score any recently with their shortage of cred.

You see, a good silencer for a pistol like a .45 isn't cheap, overly effective, or last very long in many cases. You could make a good one that would last for a good long while to be used with something like a .22, and it wouldn’t make more then a pop for noise if machined correctly. But a big caliber is a different beast. Even if he did have one, it wouldn’t make the gun whisper silent. Though, it would be a far improvement to the noise he was currently making – he simply didn’t have a choice.

Rearing back his foot he slammed it into the door once, then twice, and the third kick, the bolt blew free of the weakened wood frame and the door slammed open. “I’m going in. Watch the street for me.”

“Affirmative,” was all he got in response. Which was just fine, there wasn’t much the girl could do to help him at this point anyway – if they didn’t complete this job, they were going to be in for a hard time. Their intel indicated the building had between five and ten occupants at any one time – three of them were muscle. One was a scientist, and the others were there to see to the scientist’s needs as he worked on… whatever it was he did. The contact hadn’t been overly specific.

Devin’s job was to grab the scientist, make an exit, and deliver him to the welcome arms of a rival gang. In this case the Suits.

In all honesty, Devin hated working for the Suits more than anyone else, even Guiken, but they had cred, and a job – and Devin needed the pay. In all truth, he didn’t really care who ran what, or what gang war was going on. His services, for the most part – went to the highest bidder – and well, if that meant that this week he was shooting the same people he’d helped last week… that was the way the world worked.

That didn’t mean he didn’t have principles, it just meant when a man needed to be paid – sometimes those principles got forgotten…

The first of the goons was at the bottom of the stairway, carrying what looked like a 9mm sub machine gun, one of Guiken’s latest models. Devin didn’t pause a second as he pulled the trigger twice, emptying the last two rounds in the clip into the man’s center mass. The force of the shots slammed the goon up against the back wall of the landing, causing him to lose his grip on his subgun. For half a second, it looked like the man was down. But he started to struggle back up again.

Devin swore, the man was wearing body armour, and he needed to reload. Stupid, he should have popped a fresh mag at the top of the stairs. Now there wasn’t time. Stepping forward he leaped off the top of the landing, his black trench coat fanning out behind him as he drove both feet into the goon’s chest just before he got to his feet, driving the air out of the man’s lungs and slamming him back into the ground. As the man hit the floor, Devin rolled to the side instinctively, and bounced back to his feet, snapped his right wrist and caught the retracted combat baton there with practice ease. Snapping the baton open he brought it down smartly on the goon’s head. He wouldn’t be getting back up, possibly ever.

Pausing before heading down the next flight of stairs, Devin retracted the baton, and slid it back into his sleeve. He only had a few seconds – but what he did with them was going to make all the difference in the world at this point. The building had three stories, but only the ground floor was supposedly occupied. It was where the package did his work for the Syndicate. Chances were that they’d already called in their go card when he’d fired the first shots. That meant he’d have to move quick. But they’d planned for this, more or less.

Flicking the release on his .45 he ejected the spent mag, caught it, and tucked it in his trench pocket in a motion that spoke of long practice, retrieved a fresh one from the magazine bag on his hip, slid it into the weapon with a firm slap of his palm, and then hit the slide release. Sliding the pistol back into his shoulder holster he picked up the fallen goon’s gun, “Silver, talk to me. What have we got?”

“SUV just pulled up in front, standard Syndicate issue. Four goons, package is still inside though. How you want to play it?” Silver answered from her perch

“Kill the truck, clean up any loose ends then get to the van. I’m out in 90 seconds. Don’t be late.” Devin took the stairs down two at a time, subgun up, and ready.

Half a block away, and six stories up, Silver acknowledged, “Rightio. One less SUV, coming right up,” she said softly as she put her eye to the sniper scope, scanned the area again, then pressed the detonator button she’d taped to the rifle’s stock. The ground beside the SUV exploded, slamming a few hundred pounds of concrete and asphalt into the bottom of the vehicle, doing its share of damage, and with enough force that the heavy vehicle toppled over. Giggling softly, Silver smiled. She’d always enjoyed blowing things up – and she had a particular knack for it.

Inwardly she blew out a sigh of relief. She’d planted the charge under the sewer grate with the last of their plastique almost a week ago. She hadn’t been too sure of the detonator then, and it had rained since. But, so far besides the door, Mr. Murphy seemed to be staying out of their way. She saw one goon from inside stick his nose out for a moment then turn back inside suddenly. None of the goons in the truck were moving. They were either dead or injured enough to put them out of the fight for the moment. And she had thirty seconds or so to get to the van. Picking up the rifle she slung it over her shoulder and hoofed it for the far edge of the building.

Inside, Devin came through the door at the base of the stairs with his purloined subgun up and caught the first goon with a burst to the face, since they were wearing body armour, he didn’t hesitate to aim higher this time around. Blood splattered and he turned taking aim at the third, and what should be final goon that was just stepping in from outside the front door. Devin didn’t have time for a precise shot and stitch him from the groin to his neck. As the man fell Devin slung the subgun over his shoulder, it was empty anyway and drew his .45. One by one he quickly cleared the rooms, there was only four, and finally came across his target. He was cowered down beside a workstation of some sort, along with his assistants. “Hello Doc. You’re coming with me – my employers have a job offer you simply cannot refuse.” Striding forward, he kept his gun trained on the three assistants, “As for you three – the contract doesn’t include you – so I would suggest you get out quick – and run for the nearest safe house, the Syndicate is likely not going to be happy with you.”

Outside Silver got to the edge of the building, grabbed a heavy black coil of rope and tossed it over to edge. Snapping the rope into the rappelling harness she already wore, she jumped head first off the building and started rappelling down. Landing on the roof of the delivery van she’d parked there earlier she hit a second detonator switch, this one clipped to her rappelling gear. Above, a small tie of detcord went off and the heavy rope slid down beside her. It wasn’t easy to get these days, and Devin wouldn’t have wanted to leave it behind. Hopping down off the van she hurried to shove the rope in the back then went around the front and hopped in the driver’s seat.

Reaching down Devin dragged the package up by his collar, “Come along Doc, I don’t want to be late. “ Swinging his gun around, he growled at the other three, “Run. NOW.”

They got the message and bolted for the door.

Pushing the package before him, Devin headed for the door. As typical, the scientist chose now to start protesting, “My work. I can’t leave… if I don’t complete the work the Syndicate will kill me, and my family.”

It was a typical sob story, and Devin wasn’t listening, “Bub the contract is for you – you want to tell my employer about your family, that’s your business. I’m just supposed to make sure your delivered reasonably unharmed, now MOVE.” The package moved, but a bit slower then Devin wanted, so he shoved harder. As they stepped into the buildings foyer they were presented with one of the assistants, who had retrieved one of the dead goon’s subguns, “I can’t let you take the doctor. His work is too important to the Syndicate to interrupt.”

Devin frowned, “I don’t have time for this – and you really don’t want to get shot. So put the gun down, and get the hell out.”

“No.”

“What are you gonna do? Shoot me?” Devin brought his pistol in line with the man’s head, “Cause chances are, you’ll hit the doctor.”

Outside, the squeal of tires could be heard.

“No. She is.”

Devin cursed and shoved the Doctor, before heading for the floor. Behind him, the second submachine gun ripped off a burst. A few of them caught him low in the back as he fired twice at the first assistant, both bullets catching him in the chest, and dropping him like a bad habit. Unlike the goons, and himself, the assistants weren’t wearing body armour. His ‘leather’ trench coat had a pair of flexible Kevlar layers built into the upper section like a vest, and he was wearing a Kevlar and ceramic vest below that. That didn’t mean it didn’t hurt like hell to get shot though.

Rolling over he aimed at the second assistant, a petite little brunette who’d already dropped the subgun in shock. “Girl, get up and get the fuck out or I will put you on a slab.”

She didn’t need to be told twice. Getting up she ran for the door. Staggering as the pain of what felt like a busted rib hit him; Devin pushed himself up, and collected both subguns, shouldering them both before moving over to the doctor, “Get up.” When the package didn’t move fast enough, Devin grabbed him by the back of his collar and yanked him upwards, “I said UP.”

“I… I’ve been shot.”

Devin glanced down, hit in the upper arm, close to the shoulder, but it didn’t seem to be bleeding too badly, “It’s a flesh wound, now MOVE.”

With a shove they headed out front. Silver already had the van waiting. She shoved open the side door from inside, “What the hell took you boss?”

“Never mind. Get him inside and cover him. He’s been shot, but I’ll see to it in a minute.“ While Silver dragged the package into the van Devin dumped his acquired toys, holstered his pistol, and grabbed a pair of grenades from the back of the van. Jogging back inside despite the pain in his back he pulled the pins on the two canister grenades and tossed them in opposite directions before jogging back out to the van, hopping in the back and slamming the door shut, “Lass, get us the hell out of Syndicate territory.”

“Way ahead of you boss.” Silver replied as she put the truck in gear and floored it.

Behind them the two white phosphorus grenades exploded, setting fire to anything and everything they touched as the sound of private security sirens and squealing tires could be heard. Still, it looked like they’d gotten away clean. Coughing with a wince of pain Devin looked at the package, “Alright Doc let me see what I can do about that arm.”

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Rules of Vehicle Maintenance.

Its been a long day. I'm one hour into my standard eight at work, but I've been up since about 7:30 this morning (which isn't too far off when I'm normally going to bed). But my dad came into town this weekend for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that my poor S-10 has been running on maybe 3.5 cylinders (out of four) for the past month or two - and desperately needed attention. Problem was it's been colder then the Clinton Marriage Bed in Fargo of late, so I've been loath to mess with it, and it certainly wouldn't make the 186 mile trip home to Dad's beautifully heated garage reliably. So it waited.

This weekend was perfect, since today was gorgeous. Warmer then its been since November, Plenty of extra heat from my propane heaters, and relatively little work to be done on the cold concrete.

Now, I'm glad Dad came out to help me. I'm an old Farm kid, and I'm more then mildly mechanically inclined. I can handle basic maintenance on my vehicle (and do) and I've done larger jobs, like replacing brakes, and struts, starters and alternators. But I had no idea where to start with my rough running, not starting quite right pick up, and if dad hadn't come out to help, I'd probably still be in that garage scratching my head. (we admittedly got lucky... more on that in a minute.)

We decided that the first chore would be swapping the muffler which had gone bad. Neither of us thought this would be the answer to the problems, but it was a start - and more importantly would let us gauge how badly the vehicle was sounding once it was running properly muffled. This turned into a bit more of a project then originally envisioned.

And, it brought to mind the very first rule of Vehicle maintenenace - that being "If you go to the store to pick something up, and leave something behind you don't think will be necessary, you will invariably be going back." We stopped at Menards in the Morning to pick up a couple minor things after filling up on propane. While there, we happened across an angle grinder for cheap that Dad mentioned would be handy, but we shouldn't *need* it. (And he'd left both of his own at home.) Two hours of attempting to seperate the tailpipe, muffler and manifold assembly later, we went back to pick up the grinder.

An hour after that, it was off to O'Rielys to look into a muffler. They had two different models that were supposed to fit my truck, neither of which matched what was currently ON my truck - but since that particular exaughst job was something of a frankenstien's monster my brother had cobbled together, we weren't sure how much was 'stock.'

So, we took both. And since my engine wasn't running right, 4 new plugs, wires, a distributor cap and rotor, and on a whim because my dad had noticed my valve cover was leaking, a new gasket for that (the last will be key, later.)

Which, is virtually everything you could possibly believe you might need. You'd be wrong, and rule One was initiated again once we got back and determined that the tail pipe off my pick up would in no way fit to the muffler without a fair amount of reshapping (thank you Mark's Monster of a exaughst...)

A couple calls to O'Riely's around town netted us a tail pipe. So we ran out and picked that up, finding out that O'Riely's is open til 9 PM (this will be important later as well)

So we got the new tail pipe and the largest of the mufflers hung after that will very little trouble. Score one for the home team. Time to tackle the not firing right engine. (The New Muffler, btw sounds absolutely beautiful.)

We decided to start by pulling the valve cover and replacing the gasket. (We knew that wouldn't fix the problem... but it would be the most intensive part of the tear down and rebuild we had planned, so it made sense to do first. (We were also wrong, in my estimation. My dad prefers to think what happened was somehow caused by pulling the Valve cover off, but I just can't believe it)) Then we'd swap the plugs and see if that helped. If it didn't, we'd swap the wires, etc all the way back through the parts we had.

So after locating all 7! studs, one of which was hiding under a diaphram valve who's job I still don't know (and removing that valve was a reminder in Rule 3, that being - no matter how many tools you may own, in any given job, there will be one tool you wished you had, but can not find, or do not own.) Anyway, we managed to get the valve cover off with relatively little fuss, and then stepped back to eyeball things.

One thing stood out like a sore thumb. One of the little rockers (in this case, it appeared to be for the intake valve on what I'll call cylinder one) was not seated correctly.

For those of you who've never seen the intake/exaughst valves for an internal combustion engine, the system has a push rod on one side of a lever (sorta looks like a see-saw) when the rod goes up, it closes the valve, and when the rod goes down, it opens. The intake valve on my truck was stuck about 3/4s or so open, and the little see saw was perpendicular to the rest of the valve assemblys. (thusly, when the push rod went up and down, the valve didn't move.)

Now. I will qualify this by saying that my dad prefers to beleive we somehow did this while removing the valve cover. And he does this because neither of us have any CLUE what kind of forces could cause this to happen in the engine and still allow it to function, and because if it happened once, it very well could happen again. The problem with his theory is that that rocker's bolt was as tight as any of the others, and we sure didn't beat on the cover to get it off.

So, we fixed that major issue, replaced the valve cover gasket (the original reason we pulled the cover) and re-assembled things. Then... just because we said we would, we swapped out the spark plugs.

In doing so, we managed to break one of the wires. Remeber above, where we bought new wires just in case?

Yah. When that wire broke, it was 9:30 on the dot. If we hadn't bought the wires, we'd have been up shit's creek. (Back to Rule 1)

It was an adventure (as it always is with my truck) but she run's beautifully now.

And, for people who've been paying attention... I've neglected to bring up Rule 2 of Vehicle Maintenance.

Rule 2 is one of the most important. However long you think it might take you to do something? Always give yourself time and a half at least... just in case. We started on my truck at 8 am, give or take. We finished re-assembly just before 10 PM. Except for a 2 hour interuption to meet my Grandmother for lunch, we spent the whole day on my truck - and only $Diety and Lady Luck's smile got us done in time to get me to work.

Oh, and the best part?

Muffler: $35
Tailpipe: $16
Wires: $11
4 Sparkplugs: $10
Total Parts cost: $72

Tool cost(angle grinder): $21 dollars.

At $93 dollars, this is the cheapest major repair I've ever had to do to this pickup.

Its gonna feel so damn good getting to bed this morning.

-Jon