Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Harry Turtledove

So about a year ago I was in a bookstore, searching for a quick read for a flight. I saw on the end cap a paperback with Robert E. Lee holding an AK-47 on the cover.

Being a student of history, I picked it up.
Turtledove is the master of the "alternative history" genre, as I found out. The plot of this book was that during the Civil War, some men appear, and approach Lee. They have a new weapon, the AK-47 (called "repeaters" in the book), and they offer them to the Confederates. They also train them how to use them.

The result, of course, is a Confederate victory, but with a price, for the men are actually South African Afrikaners from the 20th century who traveled through a time portal, wishing to alter history and ensure a South victory. Why? Because in the 20th century, they are in desperate need of an ally to save apartheid.
Lee gets elected President of the South, and decides to free the slaves, pissing off the Afrikaners.

An interesting concept, and story, enough to keep my attention.

So I go back to the bookstore sometime later, and find another book by Turtledove, with yet another interesting cover.

I read the back cover for my usual brief synopsis (I also, sometimes, read the ending of a book while in the middle. Never know when you're gonna die, and I'd hate to not know the end). Looked pretty interesting.
Turtledove creates an alternative timeline. In this one, George McClellan never receives General Lee's invasion plans, and is defeated by the Army of Northern Virginia. The Civil War drags on, until France and England recognize the Confederacy as a sovereign nation, and successfully negotiate a peace.

After the war, the South beats the US again in another war.

The North, still smarting from the two defeats, aligns with the German Empire in the early 1900's, and thus takes Germany's side in the Great War when the Archduke Ferdinand is assassinated. The new Alternative Axis defeats England, France and The C.S.A.
After the war, the South dips into a depression.

Great book, but the ending was open-ended. For good reason, as I check online, and the book is the beginning of a trilogy, which is a middle trilogy of 3 trilogy's. Well, 2 trill's and a 4 book series.
Anyway, 10 books in all.

So now I'm nearing the last, last book. It's the second great war, the South is reeling...They dropped an atomic bomb on Philly (no great loss in any timeline) and the North has wiped out Charleston and Newport News...

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Questions for the 2008 election

I'm tired, as I am during every election year, of all the commercials.

Ask yourself this....

Where is Osama bin Laden?

When will the war in Iraq end? And what is defined as 'victory'?

How come the gas prices came down by a buck right before the elections (duh), and why are we ecstatic about it, even though they're still much higher than last year at this time?

How did McCain become the Republican darling? And how did Obama become darling, period?

Why do we think that either one knows what it means to pay for and pump gas, to shop for groceries, to pay a mortgage?

Yikes. Four more years, indeed.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


TV and the movies really have it wrong when they represent someone in a coma.
See, in the movies, or on a TV show, when someone is in a coma, they're always dreaming. Sometimes the dream takes them to faraway places, or sometimes the dream is like a near-death, where they meet those in the afterlife.
Or, their dream takes place in the room where they're in this coma. They flit around the room, listening to everyone in the room as they attempt to "communicate" with them.
And the coma-patients are always, always looking good. Like a deep sleep, resting with their eyes closed, breathing normally, their skin fresh.

In real life, it's not like that at all. For one, the eyes are open. It's very disturbing, because when you look into the eyes, you're not sure they're looking back at you, or if they are seeing anything at all. The eyes are open, yes, but they are empty.
And the body is not at rest. The mind may be in the coma, but the body isn't. The arms are contorted, twisting, grasping involuntarily, with nothing to guide or command them. Or control them. Each breath can be a struggle as the body gasps and expands, desperately pulling in oxygen. It's frightening to watch, because you don't know if the breath will be the last.

The mouth remains open, too. This is the creepiest, because it's as if they're trying to speak, but only a guttural sound comes out. And because of the dry air, the lips are chapped.

You see, the body is but a shell, albeit a shell that's alive, but a shell nonetheless. Without the life and soul, the body doesn't know how to react. So like a plant, it shifts and moves, perhaps looking for the sun, or just maybe some comfort.

And at the end, when it's over, when the person dies, you can see the life leave the body. Literally. You watch as the life and soul just exit, and the body truly becomes the shell. It stops moving. The limbs fold down. The mouth just sort of collapses. The body sags, and just folds into a limp. But the eyes stay open, until someone gently pushes their fingers ovevr them, closing them for the last time.

So much different than the movies.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Another classic clip from the '70s

I'vev had this freakin' tune in my head for 30 years...the commercial would come on after "Jabberwacky", and before "Leave it to Beaver" reruns.
It amazes me that they actually sold Levi's after this commercial.

Although, I must admit that this kid looks something like me at that time....

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Is Rachael Ray a terrorist?

Is she? Apparently, some folks think so.

But is this the face of a terrorist?:

Or is this?:

Yeah, I didn't think so. But some right-wing fanatics think so. So much that they forced Dunkin' D's to pull her ad.
Of course, these are the same guys who mislead the American public into supporting a war, one that is still going on 5 years later.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


I knew it was a bunch of crap. Hell, most Pats fans knew it, too. But the tapes have finally been released, and as expected, they reveal nothing more, nothing extra, nada.

Here's the original article. Written by Tomase, who's really a glorified fan.

Here's what Mike Reiss has to say.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Changing a pickguard for a Strat

I wanted to change the look, to customize my Strat, so I found a torise-shell pick guard on eBay for about $10. I checked out some instructions online, and decided it would be easy enough to do myself.

The MIM Strat, before:

First, I had to remove the strings, and then unscrew the 11 small screws holding the pick guard to the body.

Using a small ratchet, I removed the nuts from the tone and volume potentiometers:

Lift the pick guard, and slide a piece of paper underneath to capture any springs or screws that may drop.

I had to unscrew the screws that hold the pickups in place, and remove the pickups. This is the tricky part, because the pickups, potentiometers, toggle switch are all connected via wires and a small drop of solder. So I didn't want to pull anything loose, anything that could affect the sound of the guitar.
I relaced the parts into the new pick guard, and replaced the pick guard back on the Strat.

However, th new pick guard didn't line up perfectly. So I had to drill out about 6 more holes in the body to secure the guard.

The result is a Tex-Mex like-look:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tommy Lasorda?

I hate Tommy Lasorda!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wow, it's the new year

And I just noticed it's been 6 months since the last post.

So I hear someone mention an old cartoon commercial, a PSA type, and decided to search it on here it is:
Remember, it's Time for Timer!!