Bullets, bats and sharks.

My son’s baseball team learned that if you don’t listen to the coach in practice – you get shelled – and I mean shelled – in your first game. Now, the other team had some higher skill levels (where my son’s team is still working on basic base running, they were working on steals), but the athletic talent was about even. The lopsided score was the difference between working on your game and making excuses.

There’s an ammo shortage in the United States. Between wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and – ahem – Mexico, plus the 30-50% increase in sales since O’Bama took office (the gun-lovers are a fearin’ new laws and/or taxes) both gun shops and police departments are struggling to stay fully loaded, as it were.

I sent a version of the query letter for Jack (the title is The Beanstalk and Beyond) to Query Shark. The letter was sufficiently off main sequence that I felt some more objective eyes might be useful. My letter isn’t up at this writing and there is no timetable for it (the agent who writes QS does this in her “spare” time). We’ll see what comes of it.

What’s the value of Facebook? My 20+ hit day (24 March) came after announcing my blog update on FB.

Now you know.


Baseball and straight lines learned later in life than one would suppose

My son, who has somehow reached the age of 11 without playing so much as an inning of organized baseball, decides he wants to join Little League. At 6th grade, you’re supposed to be automatically placed in the upper division (which they call the “majors”) but there exists a by-law that allows them to put a 6th grader in the “minors” if everyone signs off on it.

6-8th grade pitching really maxes out at 70mph, which is fast enough from a 60′ mound, but Little League pitches from a 42′ mound (distance from home plate – for the non-sporting), which reduces the decision-making window to the equivalent of a major league fastball. It s simply unsafe to put a raw beginner in the batter box under thosee conditions.

Ben was bummed, but he’s better off learning the basic-basics with other kids who are the same situation. They spent a lot of time in the first practices just figuring out the rules of base running.

I can’t stress enough how kind and cool everyone in our local league has turned out to be.

My daughter, who turned 10 last week, somehow got to that milestone without learning how to draw a straight line using a ruler.

Now they know.

The zombie corpse of Orpheus drifts farther away every year. 1/1/09

Twelve years ago I made a New Year’s Resolution that I would never make New Year’s Resolutions. I kept it ever since. The Holidays will be over soon, and honestly, I’m ready to get back to the Real Struggle without the artificial stress and expense that we create for ourselves every year.

You can develop tennis elbow from playing Wii. I know this because Santa brought that for Christmas. (If consumer spending is down – don’t blame us!)

The Wii baseball that comes with it frustrates me because its like grade-school kickball. No double plays, no sacrifices – runner only advance on real hits. Ah well, I still spned too much time on it.

Dark Roasted Blend interviewed Kenneth C Davis, who write the Don’t Know Much About ______ books, basically encyclopedias of random facts.

Current astrophysics holds that our moon was formed when the semi-mythical planet “Orpheus”, probably the original resident of the Sun’s 5th, but now vacant orbital slot between Mars and Jupiter, slammed into our planet billions of years ago. Bernard Foing writes about that in Astrobiology.

Good leaders – who know its not their turn – make great followers. Most of them are happy to only have to worry about the job in front of them for once.

Now you know

What suspends everything above our heads [9/22/08]

Today’s gig was going into a new church, and straightening out some lighting pipes that had been hung crookedly. Now, when we got into lifts and ladders and lifted the drop ceiling panels, we saw stupid things. But, you have to realize, these were hung several months ago, before there was a drop ceiling, or AC ducts, or even interior walls.

That meant a lot of guessing as to what would be level and/or straight, and they guessed wrong. It wasn’t crooked because the hardware was mounted improperly (although that didn’t help). It was crooked because the floor, the surface they must’ve measured from, was not level.

Correcting the height is no big deal, but there was one pipe we had to move, and to do that we needed to create a new place to hang it, where there was otherwise only AC duct. So we ordered some all-thread.

All-thread, to a certain but real extent, is what keeps western civilization – or at least its casula architecture – from falling down upon our heads. Look up in the ceiling in some large, public building,sometime. Anything heavier than you are is likely suspended by all-thread.

(It’s more properly called threaded rod, but everyone calls it all-thread.)

All thread is nothing more than a contnuously threaded metal rod, usually coming in 10′ lengths (in the US). Like a 10′ long bolt. That’s a bit too long for what we usually do, so we cut it. The trick is, cutting it almost always boogers the threads, so you can’t thread the nut – which defeats the purpose of getting all thread in the first place.

What I learned today is that you simply cannot make a clean cut through all-thread with a hand-held reciprocating saw. I’ve tried everything. Long ago I learned that carefully leveling and securing the rod before cutting it merely means it takes longer to booger the treads with the saw. And today, I dispelled (for myself at least) the myth that laboriously running to bolts to either side of the cut will help preserve the thread. It won’t. And your co-worker will merely sigh.

The only thing for it is to de-booger the threads with a metal file (the one on my Leatherman works great for this). Make sure you get this step done before you go in the ceiling. I can usually clean the thread enough to force a nut on within five minutes, even after my own hasty, sloppy saw cut.

Speaking of things held up with more faith than the skill involved probably merits, Cramer – yeah that Cramer – went on for the better part of his show about how you need to sell stocks and buy gold because the sky’s about to fall. You, in the late innings of a close game, Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa will change pitchers for almost every different batter. So there are a lot of commercials. So I watch whichever cable news show isn’t running a commercial right at that moment, and tonight it was Cramer. And he said the same thing every time. If the bail-out doen’t pass, it will be Great Depression II. Buy gold before it gets to $1000/oz.

Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon Lyon had two Cardinals in scoring position with no outs, and got a double play and a pop up to leave the inning with a 4-2 lead intact. Almost gives a man hope for the future.

Banking is like rigging. It’s gonna get fixed because it has to get fixed. The only questions are how long and how much.

Tomorrow, I’m getting up in the morning and going to work as if the paper economy is going to sort itself out, and walk under the ceiling as if the all-thread is rigged correctly. The Diamondbacks are back in the pennant race whether the banks seize up or not. So now its up to the lawyers and bankers to fix their mistakes.