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Hillary’s Aunt A Problem

Posted by Tony Padegimas on September 21, 2016

It may be that every family has an aunt or a sister or some other Type A female relation whom everyone respects and yet dreads at the same time. In my case, I have two different aunts like this, so I’ll call my composite of them Aunt A.

Aunt A, I am certain, means to come across as nice. Even so, my mother would desperately clean the house in preparation for any visit, and even with all this effort, Aunt A would still be able to passively but distinctly point out some fault. She thinks she’s helping when she does this. It does not occur to her that people can actually be happy with lower standards.

I do not know Hillary Clinton personally, but her public persona is just this: Aunt A. “Would you be interested in knowing how I get tablecloths like this to be actually clean?”*

No, we don’t give a shit. That tablecloth has not been used since the last time you were here. We actually eat on the couch while watching TV, and would be doing so now, except we’re being polite. Thus we have to listen, politely, while  Hillary  Aunt A patiently explains how you can’t just launder tablecloths as if they were bath towels. Because she thinks she’s helping.

And that – right there –  is why HRC can’t climb above 50%.

If Aunt A – either one of them – is one of the six people who read this, she might well be mortified. And while I am less bothered by this than she might hope, that’s not my intent.  I have great respect for both of them. They are both accomplished in their fields, and actually seem to be good at anything they attempt. They’ve both held local elected offices, and they are both active in their churches. I’d be comfortable with either one of them in a position of administrative responsibility, and I am even certain they are totally right about laundering tablecloths.

But everyone who sees it that way, including, I am nearly certain, both Aunt A’s, are going to vote for Hillary anyway.  We vote for the candidate we believe has the best chance at a successful administration. This cohort, added to hardened, partisan Democrats, gets you to about 40%.

And all of this cohort – so we’re clear – have already realized what a ridiculous menace Donald Trump represents. While we can well imagine how easy and fun it is to produce ad after ad damning the Trumpster with his own ignorant outbursts, surely we have squeezed all the juice that this turnip will give. Trump is not an unknown quantity, and his negatives were catastrophically low to begin with. He’s not Hillary’s problem.

What seems to baffle team Hillary is the fact that at least 40% of the country does not seem to care what DJT says or does. They are going to vote for him because he is not Hillary Clinton. Some of these folks won’t vote for Clinton because she’s a Clinton. Even more won’t vote for her because she’s a Democrat. But most of them, or at least a plurality, will not vote for her because of the pronoun “her”.

Not all of them will admit this. They have plenty of other excuses: guns, taxes, immigration, Obamacare, etc. – and there’s no profit in trying to call them out on it. History speaks to this more clearly than polls.

The right to vote was extended to all males, even, at least in theory, black ones, by 1865. Women didn’t have the right to vote in the US until 1920. We are, historically, more sexist than we are racist, and we are a country built by slavery and expanded upon by genocide.

Hillary Clinton is not going to overcome that, or even whittle away at that, by pointing out the absurd antics of her opponent. That 40% is lost to her.

So she’s left with that 20% (really less than that) in the middle, none of whom appreciate her advice on cleaning table linens – especially when it’s obviously wrong.

By table linens I mean e-mails. Yes. That’s right.

This has nothing to do with the Republican talking points about this otherwise paltry scandal. Conflating it with corruption and treason only works with people who will never vote for Her anyway. It gives them some other reason. None of which actually moves the needle.

Hillary can’t just refute the Republican talking points on this (again, both easy and fun) and then go back into her hotel room and think she’s helping because that’s not her actual problem.

Her trouble is that a big portion of that 10-20% up for grabs handle email in a professionally sensitive environment, and would have been disciplined or fired if they had run company e-mail through their private account – and from there let it slip out into public domain.

Now, that’s a gross oversimplification of what actually happened – partially made necessary because no one really knows what happened – but that is the common perception, and therefore absolutely the Problem.

This, of course, feeds into the accusations of dishonesty and corruption that still swarm around her. And the clear fact that Trump is far worse on both traits doesn’t matter, because these accusations are coming from her left; because the DNC e-mail scandal has now made a pattern.

Hillary Clinton is not an inspiring speaker. She has plenty of policy ideas, but she can’t reliably articulate Vision the way Bill or the current President could. This was a large part of how she lost in 2008.  She’s running on competence and competence alone. Aunt A for president.

But these unforced errors with emails make her seem like Aunt B, who you can also find in my family.  Aunt B wants to be Aunt A, but does not have either the discipline or frankly the smarts to pull it off. But she brings plenty of unsolicited judgement, and is correspondingly unpopular. Then, when confronted, she storms out at the first opportunity and stays away for months as if this is some sort of punishment to the rest of us.

When was the last time HRC had a real press conference? Yeah.

Aunt A has a chance to overcome the drag of shameful history. Aunt B, though, is a buzz-saw nag who could lose to a shit-throwing orangutan.

Now we know.

  • The tablecloth thing is an illustrative example. I do not know or care how to properly launder tablecloths as opposed to bath towels.

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Lessons from our 2016 vacation

Posted by Tony Padegimas on September 9, 2016

In late July 2016 (about two months ago) my family took what might be our last vacation as a single nuclear family, heading across California and then up the west coast into Oregon. All told we spent 14 days on the road and traveled just shy of 4000 miles.

Here’s some of what we learned, in approximate order of occurrence:

We learned that the Salton Sea is ringed with a layer of dead fish – and all the magic that comes with that.

In Bishop, California we learned that if you’re not in town before 9pm on a Sunday night, your choice for dinner is Denny’s.

We learned that Yosemite National Park is aswarm through July with bugs; that they are more paranoid about bears than Yellowstone (we were asked to put even our toiletries in bear lockers); that by 11 am, Yosemite valley is flooded with tourists, like Las Vegas/Disneyland densities; that stocking the lakes with trout decimated the local frog population – which aggravates the mosquito problem, that the rangers make really strong coffee, that Tuolumne Meadows – where we camped – has one of the few general stores that is less than an hour’s hike from the Pacific Coast Trail – so consequently it was often filled to overflowing with backpackers; and that Glacier Point is totally worth the drive.

We also learned in Yosemite how our 2009 Hyundai Veracruz handles twisty mountain roads (decently, to our fortune). This sort of driving would turn out to be the rule rather than the exception.

We learned we really, really like our Veracruz for this sort of expedition. The only drawback is that there is an electric motor for every damn thing, and when they fail, the thing fails. Our sun-roof is now sealed with duct tape because it locked up without quite closing. We also learned that no one on the internet seems to know anything about the sun-roof on this particular model.

We learned from Penny’s relations in San Jose that it is possible to become just as trapped by high real estate prices as by low real estate prices.

We learned that the John Muir Woods are overrun by local joggers, and you can’t just expect to park there and look around.

We learned that Point Reyes National Seashore is a worthwhile detour, even though your best hop is at least five hours, and that it is riddled with hiking trails and fearless deer.


Bongo (and the rest of the family) at Point Reyes National Seashore

We learned that the California coastal redwood is the tallest tree in North America, but it’s inland relation, the Sequoia, is the largest by mass.

As the highway leaves any small town, and goes down to a single lane, you will find yourself behind the ubiquitous LTDS = Local Truck Driven Slowly.

We learned that you can BBQ oysters, and that you can make them into a hamburger.

The the southern coast of Oregon is beautiful in every direction; and that nothing ever really dries there. Ever.

Ben learned that hammocks are defenseless against mist.

We learned that the ocean is colder than the rivers.

Penny and I discovered that we could be totally happy living in Coos Bay, Oregon – if we could find a way to make a living with our big city skill sets. (More a problem for me than Penny).


Bongo in Empire, OR, which may or may not be a part of Coos Bay.


We learned that you can’t take a bad picture of Crater Lake, but you can spend more in their snack bar than we did in a Lost Coast tourist restaurant and I had oysters and whisky on the Lost Coast.


Bongo at Crater Lake National Park

We learned that by day 10, your teenage kids are totally OK with you leaving them in the hotel for a few hours in order to have a couple drinks in a local bar. Totally OK. “Go on, you guys. Have fun. We’re fine.

We learned that 850 miles is perilously close to the most you can drive in a crowded van without everyone losing their mind.

We learned that you can spend $100 in Farrell’s Ice Cream Shoppe, and still not really enjoy yourself. This has nothing to do with the food quality or the service. It has to do with the over-sized portions of everything, and – yes – the cost.

We learned that even when it’s 100F in LA, our kids still want to go to an amusement park.

We learned that two straight weeks of vacation is long enough.



Posted in Antics of my Children, Bongo, Hammock Camping, Travels | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

It’s cephalopod week.

Posted by Tony Padegimas on June 23, 2016

I think. Maybe that was last week.

Anyway, the Montery Bay Aquarium, like this blog, has an ongoing fascination with all things octopus.


Two more things that amuse me, but do not warrant their own blog entry.

Jack Schafer of Inc explains three easy ways to tell if someone might be lying.

And an infographic on how to make CreepyPasta. (This is a thing.) Maybe we’ll make one about octopi.

Lastly, over on Fantastical History, I’m quoting my own forthcoming book out of context.


Now we know.


Posted in Natural History, Uncategorized | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Living in an RV links. No reason.

Posted by Tony Padegimas on June 14, 2016

For my reference and mayhaps benefit. If you benefit as well, great.

Becky Schade is not a retired Woopie, but lives full time in an RV anyway, and blogs about it at interstellar orchard:


Which led me to this article:


And we meet her and her rig here:

And the guy interviewing her runs this site:


There are two job-related websites mentioned in the video. Coolworx no longer exists. workcamping.com re-directs to


which is mostly slow-flowing forums.

Again. No reason.

Now you know.



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It all depends upon expectations

Posted by Tony Padegimas on May 24, 2016

Every 18-24 year old male in the United States will likely undergo that time-honored ritual wherein they wreck a car for no good reason. My son has just crashed through that rite of passage, and now we know that the waiting room at an impound yard is, in fact, the fourth circle of Hell.

We also learned that the daily storage fee was $32/day – not $15 a day like the Scottsdale police officer told my son. And getting it towed there – at police insistence – counted as his free tow under our roadside assistance plan.

Vehicular mishaps are excessively burdensome upon the working poor, because you can’t budget for them, and they have no other resources to re-direct. Consequently, the patient if bored folks behind the thick glass have to keep repeating the same sad litany of fines and documentation.

My son is technically working poor, but he has literally no other expense he has to worry about at the moment. So even though he thinks his life is over, this is actually a nuisance for us and not a crisis. Not everyone in that dingy, airless room was so lucky.  There was one party literally wailing.

Another guy, though, was super-stoked that no one at the impound yard stole anything out of his vehicle. “That’s the way to run a business.” he exclaimed loud enough for me to hear him some distance away. It all depends upon expectations, I suppose.

Business Insider reports:

After decades of stagnant wages, 73 million Americans — nearly one quarter of our population — now live in households eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a benefit exclusively available to the working poor.

This is all in argument for raising the minimum wage:

We have been raising the minimum wage for 78 years, and as a new study clearly reveals, 78 years of minimum-wage hikes have produced zero evidence of the “job-killing” consequences these headline writers want us to fear.

A consume driven economy needs a large, viable consumer base or, you know, there’s a crash.

And now our friends the octopi – who are multiplying wildly, and no one knows why.


Which leads to this:


And finally, over on Curious Continuity, Legends of Tomorrow is Breaking My Heart.

Now you know.

Posted in Antics of my Children, Deeply Nerdy Things, Natural History, Supposedly advanced civilization, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

No Ranting – Just Links.

Posted by Tony Padegimas on May 6, 2016

Arizona House Bill 2112, the Technical Production Services exemption, has passed the AZ Senate, and sits on Governor Ducey’s desk. Here’s what I wrote about it for the March 2015 Collaborations – the newsletter of the Desert State USITT

Arizona House Bill 2112, currently awaiting a vote in the Senate, intends to remove the ability of live event technical professionals to collect unemployment. So if it passes, which seems likely, just about anyone reading this newsletter would be unable to collect unemployment compensation from the state of Arizona, even if they otherwise qualify.

The official summary says:

HB 2112 exempts technical event production services personnel from the definition of employee for purposes of the unemployment insurance (UI) program administered by the Department of Economic Security (DES).

That’s one of a long list of stoopid things the Tea & Gun party legislature is doing to our state. But I’m not going to turn this into a rant. This is a list of shorter items.

What I learned at my next-to-last board meeting (I’m currently the Secretary, but will be termed out by September) is that our DS-USITT is a unincorporated non-profit association, which means you can deduct fees or donations given tot hem from your taxes, but they can’t provide you with formal documentation.

Also, we learned that Arizona considers our traditional 50/50 raffle to support a student membership to be gambling – even if you are a lowly  unincorporated non-profit association. Because freedom.

No – not going to rant.

When driving to Tucson, don’t stop at Eloy. When I stopped there, I choked down a Carl’s Jr sandwich while surrounded by overweight white people with guns. I am an undersized, unarmed theater nerd. Ate quickly, Got out. Stop at Pichacho Peak instead. That Dairy Queen/Shell station/gift emporium was stocked by non-threatening, if unhurried old hippies.

Now – Links:

Research to replace my old tent:


What adhesive should you use? http://thistothat.com/

Someone thinks about pterosaurs. A lot.


Background for my work in progress:


Curious Continuity looks at the barely forseeable future:


And finally, SciShow Space starts out talking about tin whisklers and ends with talking about one of this blogs regular obsessions – strange toilets.


Which leads us to the ESA telling you more than you might have wanted to know about that.

You’re welcome.

Now you know.

Posted in Deeply Nerdy Things, Jack the Giant Killer, Random facts, Rigging and stagecraft, Toilets around the world, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

An Irish Link Dump

Posted by Tony Padegimas on April 28, 2016

For  book research and an ongoing quest for  wakeful drunkenness, I researched some Irish things over the past few months, and collect my learning for you here.

History Ireland has a good summary of how beloved old St Patrick was quite likely a crank who is preserved in history because he wrote stuff down.

Patrick—to his fellow bishops, probably in Ireland, who would have seen his activity at close quarters—had gone completely ‘off message’ with his unique vision of himself as the apocalyptic preacher. Yet by answering these anonymous level-headed pastors, the real founders of Irish Christianity, Patrick became the only one who left a name and any account of evangelising in Ireland!



Which, according to The Guardian leads naturally to Irish Coffee:


Wide awake, I kept looking into this.

Christopher Null in Drinkhacker answers What’s the best whiskey for Irish Coffee?

Good question. I sampled all the Irish I had on hand in coffee and it was a tossup between the standard bottlings of Bushmills and Jameson. The only Irish that didn’t work well was Black Bush, which just didn’t play right with the bitterness of the coffee.



Finally, Jim Slaughter of ineedcoffee claims to make the Best Irish Coffee in the World.



For myself, I replaced sugar with honey – as I often do, and was melting in the microwave when I had an realization: coffee, especially fresh coffee, is hot enough to do the job. This worked well enough for me. I use heavy whipping cream when I have it – if not whole milk.

Oh – and honey is bee puke.


Last harps.

In Beanstalk and Beyond, there is, of course, a magic Harp. I fancied I might find something in folklore from which to draw inspiration – or at least some accurate technical detail.

There was something called the Harp of Dahgda, but that wasn’t quite right.


The harp of our story may be inspired by this artifact though.


For some actual facts, I relied upon Harp.com and The Harp Foundation, whose site plays such soothing music that you might pass out no matter how much coffee, Irish or otherwise, you might have had.



Now you know.


Posted in Deeply Nerdy Things, Fantastical History, Jack the Giant Killer, Random facts | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Marketing ME! ME! ME!

Posted by Tony Padegimas on April 26, 2016


Actually, I’m not going to market myself here – this very post. This is about marketing in general. And marketing via Blogs in particular.

OK, it is about me, and tonight’s Big, Stupid Question: do I need all these silly blogs that I rarely update anyway? If you care about those blogs, I’ll list them at the end, but first, what other people think – because that’s really kinda the point of the internet.

Julie Neidlinger of the The Coschedule Blog has this advice:

Multiple blogs, in the right circumstances, are a powerful tool that can energize your writing and your blogging success. But multiple blogs, in the wrong circumstances, are devastating to your blogging efforts.

CoscheduleBlog basically exists to sell an app, but they have put an admirable amount of thought into the content.



Darren Rowse of Problogger makes me feel like a nose-picking amatuer with his talk of diversification strategies and workflow optimization.

While you do need to be careful of spreading yourself too thinly (more on this below) multiple blogs has been very beneficial for me and have been one of the main reasons for my own growth of income over the past three years.


Blog Tyrant is more blunt:

Well, to me it seems like the most successful bloggers are ones that focus in on a very specific niche and approach that niche in a way that is really distinctive. {emphasis his}


Blog Tyrant is secretive about his identity – except that he’s not. But it takes four clicks and counting to get to it, and I can’t be bothered. If you want your name cited, use a by-line.

Elegant Themes lists their favorite WordPress management apps.


It’s old (2014) and I don’t use any of these, but I might. So there it is.


5 years ago, Jennifer Mattern was where I’d like to be five years from now. AllIndieWriters is one of several sites she runs (ran? UPDATE: she still has a lot of them).

It sounds like a lot, but when you’re highly organized you can make it work in the long run.



Of more general interest:

Entrepreneur  reposted a good infographic  on optimizing social media:


And Digital World reposted another good infograpic  on the psychology of color.



For my reference as much as anyone else’s – these are my blogs that currently exist:

This one.

Are We Lost Yet


A blog about hiking and writing hiking guides, focusing on the Arizona hikes I have written about in my guidebooks and elsewhere.

Curious Continuity


This is the support blog/website for Curious Continuity, which covers the time travel, time travel fiction, and how the past and the future inform each other.

Fantastical History


Fantastical History covers the intersection of history and myth, and how this informs popular fiction and role-playing games (including my own).

Go Action Fun Time


Not a blog, but a wki-style draft of rules and background material for the RPG of the same name. Probably going to get it’s own WP blog eventually.

Notes from the Meeting


My masthead blog on Tumblr.

Also includes echo blogs of

The 64


A blog about my WIP of the same title.



Now you know.

Posted in Deeply Nerdy Things, writing biz | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by Tony Padegimas on April 5, 2016

So at long last, I took and passed my long threatened ETCP theatrical rigging certification.

My score was 126 out of 150. Passing was 104. It was all graded on some weird sliding weight scale that I was going to write about – but I don’t care now. I passed. Rejoice and settle wagers accordingly.

All of those standardized tests I took in school turned out to be of some value. (That’s right millennials, standardized testing is not a curse aimed specifically at your generation.) Over 165 questions (of which only 150 are graded – but they’ll never say which) I got to use every one of those sneaky little strategies I learned in grade school.

But what really, really helps, and there is no avoiding this, is knowing what you are doing. Here experience in installing as well as operating systems in multiple venues was invaluable.

Also, I studied.

These were indeed the textbooks I relied on – in order of value:

  • Stage Rigging Handbook (3rd Edition) by Jay O. Glerum. This is THE textbook for operating fly system as an adult who gets paid for it.
  • Rigging Math Made Simple by Delbert L Hall. The link is to the 3rd edition, but the copy I have is the second edition.
  • Entertainment Rigging by Harry Donovan. This is more aimed at arena rigging, but the approach to working load limits is more detailed.

There were a LOT of questions about components of counterweight rigging systems and their use – as one would expect. There were also a LOT of questions about Working Load Limit, as related to Ultimate Breaking Strength and how to calculate one from the other. It is further crucial to understand what resultant force is and how to calculate it.

If in doubt, the weak part in the system is the cable clips. Somebody writing questions had a grudge against cable clips.

Other useful tidbits from my notes:

A useful,  basic math tutorial we found while researching the electrician side:


I like this advice in particular:

When working with any mathematical calculation, don’t just blindly do the calculation and assume it’s correct. When you perform a mathematical calculation, you need to know if the answer is greater than or less than the values given in the problem. Always do a “reality check” to be certain that your answer isn’t nonsense. Even the best of us make mistakes at times, so always examine your answer to make sure it makes sense!


A good, concise (if dry) guide to wire rope and things attached to it:


Breaking strength

The measured force required to actually break the thing. This can only be properly measured by testing, eg applying force until it actually breaks, and writing that number down.

The best source for this information is the manufacturer.   Manufacturers of actual rigging equipment will test a large sample of their items to determine a breaking strength (which is most cases is really a bell curve; the number given is in the center of that curve), and provide that number to the customers – somehow.

That number is the basis for all the other load limit calculations, and why we prefer – nay insist upon – manufactured gear with known breaking strengths to rig with.


Breaking strength is an average for most components, and only applies to new equipment. You must assume used equipment to have a lower BS and downgrade accordingly.


Working Load Limit is the fraction of the known breaking strength used in determining how much we will say the equipment is rated for. We then treat that like it’s a real limit and not a number that we derived from a much higher number that is actually an average of measured results. The specific point of a professional rigger is that WLL’s are rational and enforced.

When riggers say a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, they are not speaking metaphorically. That is the literal truth with rigging systems: the lowest WLL of any component (which could literally be chain) in a system determines the WLLL for that entire system.

and one more:

Fleet angle

In a perfect world, all of the lift lines would run true from their head-block and across the loft blocks in a perfect, straight line. The difference between that and what is actually installed is called the fleet angle. It is measured from the center of the sheeves.

The maximum allowable fleet angle for theatrical rigging is 1.5 d.

Fleet angle can be determined by finding the Tangent of the offset distance divided by the distance between shivs. (Be sure to use the same units of measure). [Glerum 102]

As a quick gauge, an offset/distance ration of 1:40 or greater is going to pass. An offset of 1:30 or less is going to fail. Between 30 and 40, you’ll have to do the math.

For those who got this far, I admire your dedication. Do the work – that’s what we learned.

Posted in Rigging and stagecraft | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Fifty Facts about here

Posted by Tony Padegimas on February 20, 2016

A You Tube Video:



Now we know.

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