Sunday, March 31, 2013

It's an Easter Miracle

I am thrilled to report that Squeaky has reached her goal and all of her medical procedures have been fully funded!  Thank you everyone who contributed and made this possible!

You realize what this means, right?


Now is the time to start sending in suggestions for what kind of lesson you'd like Twilight Sparkle & the girls to learn or to teach. As I said earlier, here are the following restrictions:

  1. It must be a kid-friendly topic. No implied bloodshed, please.
  2. It must involve the ponies and guns I already own. As hysterical as it would be for Fluttershy to review the Barret M82,* I don't own either.
  3. Ammo is expensive and scarce these days. If you want me to actually shoot things for the post -- example, "Twilight Sparkle discusses the differences between 9mm and .380 on watermelons" -- then you'd better be prepared to donate some cash for the cause so I can replenish what I use. 
 * McThag suggested I have her say "It goes," (deep breath), "bang."

To round out tonight's Sunday Pony Sunday, I leave you with Double Rainboom, a full-length, fan-produced MLP episode made by some very smart and talented people -- including friend of this blog Joie Brown!

What does this meeeeeaaaaaaan?  ;)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Squeaky Update

As of this moment, the Squeakster is $110 away from reaching her medical fund goal.

As I said in my last post, if she reaches her goal you will get another Glockenpony from me.

You want to make that happen, right?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Random Blogular Strikes

  • The weather here is completely bipolar. It's near freezing in the morning (mid 30s, low 40s), ramps up quickly once the sun starts shining, and by 6 pm it's bright and sunny and in the low to mid 70s. My parents have lived in Florida for a quarter century and they've never seen anything like it, especially the freezing temps this close to April.
  • But yeah, it's crazy.  This is the second week in a row that started out fine, and by Thursday I was in allergy/sinus hell, with drainage and congestion taking the parts of dueling banjos within my head. The obligatory headache from the pressure change is just a bonus!
  • Speaking of weather...
  • Speaking of health, both Roberta and Tam report that Der Tamschnozz is healing nicely. Thank you to everyone who donated to her surgery!
  • Speaking of donations, Squeaky Wheel is very close to reaching funding for her Lyme uber-blood test. If you haven't donated yet, please do so! Take that money you'd spend on a fast-food meal and give it to her medical fund instead
  • Speaking of speaking of, there is a horrible pun inbound. Brace yourselves.
  • Speaking of puns, I will put my pony where my mouth is:  if Squeaky reaches her goal, I will make another Glockenpony post!  You readers will get to decide what it's about, pursuant to the following restrictions:
  1. It must be a kid-friendly topic. No implied bloodshed, please.
  2. It must involve the ponies and guns I already own. As hysterical as it would be for Fluttershy to review the Barret M82, I don't own either.
  3. Ammo is expensive and scarce these days. If you want me to actually shoot things for the post -- example, "Twilight Sparkle discusses the differences between 9mm and .380 on watermelons" -- then you'd better be prepared to donate some cash for the cause so I can replenish what I use.
  •  Speaking of ammo, this is an excellent rebuttal:

  • Speaking of talking out one's ass, I'm off to meet some friends in St. Augustine for fried gator tail. Have a great weekend, everypony!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Traveller Tuesday: Staterooms

a.k.a. "Just where do those murderhobos sleep, anyway?"

Looking at the map of the Pride of Walston (amazingly, the PCs managed not to wreck it  last game session), you can see that the quarters look rather cozy.

And by cozy I mean cramped. I eliminated the grid in order to make this design prettier (because girl), but those staterooms are roughly 3.5 meter by 2.5 meters (or 11.5 x 8 feet), not counting the bathroom. My rudimentary math tells me this is 92 square feet or 8.75 square meters, which means these staterooms -- which, I admit, are on the small side even for Traveller (because scout ship) -- are smaller than your average dorm room, which I'm told is 12 x 19 feet.

What's interesting about this whole dreary exercise in geometry is this:  Cabins like this exist in real life.

There is an entire selection of images like this to be found at Freighter Voyages. Apparently it's now possible to book passage aboard a cargo ship as if it were a cruise line. I find this endlessly fascinating. Yes, you can rent a suite smaller than a motel bedroom and be stuck in it for days as you cross the ocean between cargo ports!

I tease, but this is exactly how most player characters make a living in Traveller: hauling people and cargo between worlds. It's actually quite cool that something like that exists in the here and now (not counting the Navy, of course. I believe this would rate as officer quarters on most ships, and submarine staterooms are little more than walk-in closets).

Those rooms, though. I'm not claustrophobic, but I'd go mental in one of those. And now you know why, in Traveller, half of the displacement of a stateroom is not taken up by the room itself, but by communal areas such as lounges and galleys.

Monday, March 25, 2013

My life in a single picture

Both of these came in the mail today. I think this is an accurate summary of who I am.

I wonder if I could get venture capital for a store that sold both firearms (& ammo) and My Little Pony. According to the Rules of the Internet, it should make a killing despite being a highly specialized store.

Right now I'm torn between calling it "Glock & Pony" or "Nines and Equines."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Grease a Squeaky Wheel

Look, I tried to come up with a catchy title, okay? But when a blogger goes by the name of Squeaky and she is asking for help, the title rather writes itself.

Oh. You probably don't know what I'm blathering about, do you? Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up:

I just recently found out through Jennifer that a sister gunnie, Squeaky, needs funds for several medical procedures as well as for prescriptions, follow-up visits, paying bills while recovering, etc. She needs financial help, and while it embarrasses her to ask, she has humbled herself before us because she needs this done. Since gunnies are good folks who come together for each other, I am certain that my readers will contribute, even if it's just a few bucks, to this worthwhile cause. It's not like you're gonna be buying ammo any time soon, am I right?

A year ago, I was deeply honored by you folks when you generously donated so that I could purchase my carry pistol. This past November, we gunnies came through for Tamara when she was diagnosed with Basal Cell Carcinoma, and we fully funded her procedure. I know that not only will you good folks fund her treatment, you will help her afford that nasty $800 uber-bloodtest for Lyme and whatever else she needs.

I also know that there are many non-gunnies who read my blog. I don't want you guys to feel left out! Any donation by anyone is welcome. It doesn't matter if you're a gamer, a gunnie, a goth or a Brony -- all help is needed and welcome. You're all splendid folks for reading my blog, and both Squeaky and I will love you for helping.
Please donate. Pinkie Pie will give you sad puppy-dog eyes until you do.

WNW: MinusIQ

This video is a lot like some of the articles you read on The Onion -- you know it's satire, but it's uncomfortably close to reality.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Traveller Tuesday: Murderhobo Special

This is the ship that the PCs in my Traveller game currently have (assuming they don't wreck it with atrocious piloting, that is). It's actually named "Pride of Walston" due to the fact that they were given this ship in recognition for acts of heroism on the planet of the same name by the Scout Service (okay, technically it is a prototype lent to the ex-Scout as a Detached Duty loan with the understanding that typical player character hijinks will serve as an excellent test of its abilities and durability), but I like calling it the Murderhobo Special  because that makes me giggle.

Original art and concept by Brook West; I colored and modified this.

Mongoose Traveller stats for Pride of Walston. As this is an experimental ship, I used High Guard "advanced technology" rules to squeeze more room and better performance from the design. For referees who would like a bog-standard TL-12 version, I have stats for that, too.

Stats for "Mighty Midge", the 4-person ship in the cargo bay. Not sure what you'd call a 10-ton small craft that isn't a fighter. A gig, perhaps?

The Modular Scout is an original design of Brook West, and may be found here.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Friday, March 15, 2013


As many of you know, I have been dreading turning 40 since pretty much the beginning of the year. In fact, it was weighing upon me so much that on February 20th I reached out to some friends (some of whom you know),  and I asked them if they would help me through it:
I have a favor to ask you all. It's probably quite a lot of work, and for that I apologize.

On March 11, I turn 40 years old. This is a huge deal for me. Not much "Oh god, I am getting old" so much as "I am now middle aged and have accomplished NOTHING. I still live at home, have no steady relationship, no regular job, and no prospects of fixing any of that."  I feel like I have inherited the mantle of perpetual loser-dom, and it's really depressing me.  As in, more so than usual for my regular birthday depression.

What I would like for you folks to do is to find some way to cheer me up on my birthday. Now, since you all know me pretty well, you should know that the usual well-wishes simply won't work. I need to feel like I am not a massive hole of suck and fail. Basically, help me believe (and that is the key here) that I am not a loser like I feel I am.  

I don't really have any suggestions other than "Help me see that I've accomplished worthwhile things and that my existence has meaning."  I don't specifically want stuff; nor do I want the usual "Oh, you have brightened my life simply by being my friend" because, however true it may be, the sentiment simply won't penetrate my armor of cynicism and self-hate and I'll just go "Yeah, right, whatever." 

I picked you five because you are smart, caring, creating, and know me pretty well. If anyone can come up with a good scheme to break my depression, it will be you.

I thank you in advance for trying, and I will still love you all even if you don't succeed. 

PS:  No pressure or anything.   :P

About a week or two later, I knew I had picked the right friends for the task when one of them let slip that there was an "Erin Birthday Central."  I wasn't sure if I needed to be flattered or alarmed to discover that I rated a War Room.

The package was preceded by an email ominously titled DO NOT OPEN UNTIL THE BOX ARRIVES.

Well, okay then.

I didn't think it would arrive in time for my birthday, but at 8:30pm the Brown Truck of Joy arrived with a much larger box than I had expected -- about the size of an easel or bulletin board. I leaped to my computer and read the email:

This will explain one of the key elements of your birthday surprise.

One of the most popular traditions in the US when a pilot first solos an airplane is the removal of the pilot's shirt tail.

The traditional removal of a new pilot's shirt tail is a sign of the instructor's new confidence in his student after successful completion of the 1st solo flight. In the days of tandem trainers, the student sat in the front seat, with the instructor behind. As there were often no radios in these early days of aviation, (and in some of those old planes still flying) the instructor would tug on the student pilot's shirttail to get his attention, and then yell in his ear. A successful first solo flight is an indication that the student can fly without the instructor (solo). Hence, there is no longer a need for the shirt tail, and it is cut off by the proud instructor, and often displayed as a trophy. When I learned to fly, the tails were pinned to a big bulletin board at the flight school, with a date, or perhaps a congratulations or word of encouragement from the instructor, for all to see.

That shirt tail was a sign of the courage the budding pilot had, to get out there and try, as well as everything that still lay ahead of them to dream of.

So for your birthday, your pony pack cut off their tails and pinned them to this board, so you can remember. Even if we may not be literally sitting in back of you, we're always behind you, with friendship and support.

My first thought was, quite literally, "Oh no. They cut the tails off of MLP toys and pinned them to a board," and that made me sad because deliberately mutilated toys just seem tragic to me.

I needn't have worried.The present I was given was far, FAR cooler.

A few clarifications before I begin with the image dump:
  1. More than the initial 5 contributed to this.
  2. Some of them wished to remain anonymous, so if you wonder why certain things are covered or not seen, that's why. 
  3. Everyone else named is named by express permission. Yes, even the one that will make you gasp "No way!"  Yes way.

The Loot

Clockwise from left: A tin of Apple(Jack) Cider; two sparkle ponies from blind bags; a personalized note from AGirl; the Spa Pony set; Crystal Empire Twilight Sparkle with book and reading glasses. The background is from some kind of MLP sticker set.

An overview

You are probably already gasping at the top left, so let's just start there.

Top Left

Quoting the person who assembled the gift:  Tam was on the phone with me while I made another stop trying to find pink push pins late one night (no one likes pink?) and when I told her about it she said "Oh, send one from me!" and she told me exactly what to write on there for your day.

So there you have it!  Our own Tamara Keel is, at the least, pony-positive.

Top Right

This one comes from AGirl, and the significance of it is explained in her handwritten note (posted with permission):


The most any of us can be is ourself. I think you under-estimate your worth and what you have to offer.

Your gumption has inspired me countless times to stand up and be myself; to not back down.

This shirt is actually a jacket I wore 2 weeks after I was mugged. I wore it to my very first conceal carry class. That day was the beginning of me having the courage to take full responsibility for my life, its safety & joy.  I wish for you the Happiest Birthday!!!

Wow. I feel like I've been entrusted with a piece of Internet History!

 Top Center

A lovely quote from Melville.

 Left and Right, one layer down 

 Center, two layers down

Hey! No fair maiking me fifty!  I'm already insecure about being forty!



A cross between Malcom Reynolds and Pinkie Pie? Terrifying!

This one came a day or two later

It's metal because he's a robot, you see. 

I have some of the best friends in the world. Thank you, everypony!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

WNW: Pork Jokes Galore

This was sent in by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous due to embarrassment.  I, however, have no sense of shame and therefore am quite happy to post this:

Yes, that's right. Baconlube is bacon-flavored personal lubricant. 

I'd make a joke that "You shouldn't bring your hog into the Holy of Holies," but that wouldn't be kosher.

Everypony do the Flop

This is me after several hectic days:

I was all set to to a Tuesday Traveller post about fusion power plants when, during the course of my proofreading, I discovered I had made a significant error in my logic. Significant enough that I was inadvertently saying "In order to create the wheel, we must first develop ball bearings."  So, yeah, that will need to wait while I revise my logic and rearrange my post into something sensible.

Today was chore day, and I am pooped. I hope to get you pictures of my awesome birthday present by tomorrow (hold my hooves to the fire if I don't!)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Thank you...

... and a big hoofbump to everyone who wished me a Happy 10mm yesterday, or who voiced support for me in my "Struggling" post. This simple act means more to me than I think you realize.


 I received a wonderful present from all my pony friends, and I planned to take a picture of it today but right now it is overcast and gloomy and raining, and my camera sucks at taking indoor pictures. So as soon as I have a sunny day I am going to take pictures and then post the heck out of them!

So thank you again, everyone. You are truly high-caliber friends.

You will want to embiggen this.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Phrase of the Day

I'm not 40,  I'm 10mm!

Hello, I Am Old

You know what?  Fuck it. I'm 40.

Thank you to everyone who has wished me a happy birthday, but special thanks to AGirl who not only gave me a much-needed compliment, but also sent her readers here. Love ya, girlfriend!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Birthday dinner!

When someone in our family has a birthday, they are allowed to ask for a special birthday dinner. My father always asks for steak & lobster, while my mother always asks to be taken out for dinner. I, however, always ask for a special dish called Rouladen.  You could almost consider it a "German haggis," only with better ingredients (beef and bacon instead of porridge and stomach).  Mom says it's easy to make, just time consuming.

Here is our family recipe.


8 slices bacon
4 pieces top round steak
4 t. mustard
1 medium onion, chopped-1/2 cup (may use onion flakes instead)
4 medium dill pickles, finely chopped-1/2 cup (may use sweet relish instead)
½ cup finely chopped celery
½ cup finely chopped carrot
1 cup dry red wine
1 envelope or t. instant beef broth
1 ½ cups boiling water
½ t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
3 sprigs parsley
1 T. butter
1 T. flour

1) Cook bacon; drain; chop coarsely. Save 2 T. bacon fat in skillet.

2) Pound steak to 1/4". Spread with mustard; sprinkle with bacon, onion & pickle; roll up and tie with string.

3) Brown rolls in bacon fat. Remove from pan.

4) Saute celery & carrot in same pan; add red wine. Dissolve beef broth in boiling water; stir into wine mixture with salt, pepper & parsley. Return rolls to pan; cover. Bring to boiling; lower heat & simmer 1 ½ - 2 hours, until tender. Remove rolls to serving platter & keep warm.

5) Pour liquid into blender & puree. In same pan melt butter; add flour & lightly brown; add liquid until mixture thickens.

6) Remove strings from rolls; slice into pieces, if desired.

Serve with mashed potatoes (gravy works equally well over both meat & potatoes) and either beets or red cabbage.

Guten appetit!

Friday, March 8, 2013


I am having a truly bad day right now.

Hello depression my old friend
Come to mindfuck me again

I'm not really sure why I'm having a bad day. Nothing specifically terrible has happened lately.  I just feel like.. honestly, I feel like the fat chick all the popular girls keep around so that they look prettier, and now they've left with all their dates and I'm still sitting alone at the bar. No, I will not go into details on this, but if you are thinking "Is it X?" then the answer is probably yes.

It frustrates me no end the way some people can effortlessly make friends. It pisses me off when those people are, themselves, not friendly. Meanwhile here I am, trying to be fun and insightful, and being ignored in favor of the big-boobed cheerleader. Friendship, dating, my relationship with God -- they're all the same, in the end: exercises in how long I can tolerate being ignore and neglected before I finally snap and tell everyone to go fuck themselves, and then - ONLY THEN - do people talk to me. Of course, by then it's usually cutting comments like "Get over yourself" or "Overreact much?"

Some days, I don't even know why I bother trying to make friends. They're all virtual anyway. All of the friends I have are in different parts of the country, on other sides of computer screens. I haven't had a real, local, friend since 2009, when jealousy and stupid girl drama caused the other female in my social group to make up some bullshit story and turn the rest of the group against me. Never mind that they had known me years longer than they knew her -- she was prettier, and everyone wanted to sleep with her. She wanted to be alpha female, and she got it.

Fuckers. I hope they all burn for their perfidy.

I said once before that I like persons but hate people. That's mostly self-defense, because generally people hate me, too, and usually on sight, like one of the cast of those 1980s Nerds movies. So I've given up. I've stopped trying. I'd be bitter and cynical, but as a long-time goth I know that full-blown cynicism requires a reservoir of emotional strength that I just don't have any more. The best I can do these days is adopt a low-drag "Fuck everyone and watch the world burn" attitude. I like to call it "lazy nihilism."

So yeah. I'll never be loved like the popular girls. Fine, whatever. And because I'm an artist at heart, I will continue to be your online dancing monkey, because I have a need to create and a need to have that creation be seen. So yes, as much as I hate to admit it, I need you more than you need me.

But my days of trying to make friends are over. I've extended my hand only to get it get slapped away enough times that I've finally learned not to try.  Those folks who reached out to me, or took my hand when I offered it:  I love you all deeply, and you have my loyalty for as long as you care to keep it. The rest of you, however, will have to actually make an effort. Which, ironically, describes exactly why I don't have many friends to begin with.

Oh, and for that one special someone in the gun community who thinks it's cool to single me out for criticism and ridicule, I'd like to point out that:
  • You are exactly what is wrong with our culture today. If I had encountered you and your shitty attitude when I started gunblogging, you would likely have driven from the hobby completely. Think about that the next time gun control is being marketed to women.
  • No matter how much you hate me, you will never be a better writer than I am. You may think I am completely unqualified, or that I've sold out, but the fact remains that people are seeking me out for reviews. How's it feel, actually being less popular than the moody unpopular goth girl?
  • In conclusion, 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

WNW: Terrible and Perfect

I have to inflict this on everyone.

After I heard it the first time, I was like this:

This song perfectly summarizes the core of my being, and if that doesn't scare the crap out of you, something is seriously wrong with your brain and you are my kind of person and you can download it here.

After the third or fourth listen, my mother came to investigate why I was bouncing and giggling hysterically. Since she didn't know who either NIN or Carly Rae Jephson were,  I finally had to give up and say "It is beautifully obscene, like an angel made of shit."

I cannot get over how perfectly these tracks synch up. Previous to this, my go-to for "just plain wrong" was a Rickroll mashed to the tune of Smells Like Teen Spirit, but this one surpasses it. Terrible and perfect indeed.  The only way this could be more perfect is, possibly, if someone made the inverse and put CRJ's lyrics to NIN's music.

Fun fact:  After Johnny Cash did his cover of Hurt, Reznor saw the video and said the following:
I pop the video in, and wow... Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps... Wow. [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn't mine anymore...

I wonder how Reznor will feel about this mash-up. 

A joke I just wrote

So, the new Pope (work with me here, it's a joke) is flying to the Vatican when his plane crashes in an isolated forest. Fortunately, he and his retinue are all right, but they have to hike through the woods in order to reach rescue.

Not long after the crash, the Pope is overcome with a sudden bout of intestinal distress and goes off to find a secluded place to relieve himself. Unfortunately for him, no sooner has he "dropped trou" when a massive bear, thinking it has found dinner, rears up on its hind legs and roars. Literally caught with his pants down, the Pope does the only thing he can think of: he holds up his hands in the sign of blessing and says "Pax vobiscum!" (Peace be with you.)

To his astonishment, the bear makes the sign of the Cross with its paw and wanders off. The Pope, quite naturally, pulls up his pants and rejoins his group, where he tells them of the miracle he just witnessed.

As they resume their hike, one of the cardinals quips "Well, we know the bear is Catholic, but we may never find out if the Pope shits in the woods."

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Traveller Tuesday: How Drives Work

I've been running an online game of Traveller using the Mongoose ruleset since December, and I have found myself writing a fair amount of stuff for it. Since this was already written, it was a busy day today, and "Traveller Tuesday" makes for a nifty bit of alliteration, I figured I'd just post it.

Besides, I think the folks over at RPGBA are getting annoyed at me for talking about guns & ponies all the time.

OK, so before I begin, I'm sure some of you are asking "Just what the heck is Traveller?"   The long version may be found here.  The shorter version is "It's a science-fiction role-playing game that came out in the 1970s, roughly at the same time as D&D. It does not have nearly magical technology a la Star Trek, but neither is it space opera like Star Wars. It's a lot like the Firefly TV show, where a motley crew of murder hoboes in a small starship tramp about a chunk of space, looking for jobs and getting into trouble."

So anyway, here is the first in an irregular series of articles whereupon I expound with most profundity on background details most of my players likely don't care about.

How Drives Work in Traveller

Ship design in Traveller is based upon the Displacement Ton. I do not know why this is so, but it is. Everything, from fighters to dreadnaughts, has a hull measured in how many volumetric tons of liquid hydrogen it displaces.

Obviously, this means that cargo is likewise based on dtons. This has the curious effect of creating ships where a cargo hold full of feathers and a cargo hold full of uranium require exactly the same thrust to move at the same speed. If I were to try to make sense of this, it would
  1. result in far more math than I find enjoyable, and 
  2. require a complete refit of the starship rules. 
I am a lazy writer who hates math. Therefore, I Made Stuff Up. 

Since a ship with 2G acceleration moves at that speed regardless of what's in its hold, clearly this means that some kind of field is being generated by the maneuver engines to move a select volume through space. It doesn't matter how much that volume weighs; what matters is if things fit inside that volume or not. Since so much of Traveller tech is based upon manipulation of gravity, this seems like the way to go if I am to reasonably fake it. 

I posit that the maneuver drive is tied to the gravity plates and to the intertial dampeners, such that the field actually absorbs the kinetic energy that a mass would exert upon on the rest of the ship. In other words: You can walk around all you want and that's fine, but if the kinetic energy differential between you and the ship's movement would result in you becoming chunky salsa spread across a bulkhead, that energy is absorbed by the field through those grav plates. This also means that if momentum is applied to the ship by anything other than the maneuver drive, like something striking the hull, the crew is going to be tossed around a bit as the inertial dampeners have to compensate for something outside the grav envelope.

Where does this energy go? you may ask.  This is an excellent question, and it ties into another oddity about Traveller (which, I should point out, is something I Do Not Like): their engines somehow create thrust without using reaction mass. If this were Star Trek or Star Wars it would not bother me, but since Traveller at least tries to be relatively non-soft Sci-Fi, this sort of magical thrust does not suit the genre.

I decided to fix this using my skill at technobabble*, and posited that the kinetic energy absorbed from inertia/momentum is directed outward from the grav envelope around the ship. This is how an air/raft works, and it's what Star Wars called repulsorlift. It's great for atmospheric maneuvering, takeoffs, and landings, because it manipulates the gravity field of a planet in the same way that airfoils manipulate an atmosphere in order to achieve flight. However, while this is suitable for low-speed applications, it doesn't give a lot of thrust for reaching orbit in a reasonable amount of time, and it definitely is not optimal for interplanetary travel. 

Edit: This was sent to me via email by a helpful reader and I thought I'd include it. I'm clearly no engineer, but it seems to compliment what I said, only with more tech jargon:
Why the Displacement Ton? 
Theoretically, the possibly recently discovered Higgs Boson is what gives matter mass. Mass is apparently where inertia comes from. If you can change the boson's characteristics, you can change your vessel's mass and inertia. So... Posit a gadget (like a high energy particle accelerator) that creates a field that alters the Higgs Boson spin. Crank it up, and your ship's mass drops. Crank it enough, and you go to zero mass. Very handy when you want to accelerate a ship. 

Now assume that matter shows some resistance to the spin altering field. Low density matter (hydrogen) has high permeability. High density (uranium) has low permeability. A field of a given strength can cover a larger volume of hydrogen than it can a volume of uranium. So the displacement ton becomes shorthand for how much mass you can shift for a given energy input to your boson spin modulator. 

Nitpickers may wonder what happens to matter in the field when the mass goes away. Doc Smith rather blithely blew that off in the Lensman books. You can, too. Tell them that since all matter within the field takes on the same boson spin condition, then RELATIVE to everything else IN THE FIELD it acts normally. You only go "massless" relative to the external universe beyond the field.

For higher thrust applications, such as reaching escape velocity or interplanetary travel, I figure the engines can just vent hydrogen onto (or pipe it near) the plasma created from the fusion engine, and the resulting explosion is channeled along gravitically-shaped nozzles. While it would be possible to get propulsion from just venting the plasma fusion directly aft, the combination of "low thrust" and "radioactive output" makes this a non-optimal choice. Contrast this with burning hydrogen exhaust in an oxygen environment: 2H2 + O2 --> 2H2O. It's eco-friendly!

More math from engineer friend:
Stripped to basics, you simply inject reaction mass (hydrogen or what ever; my own spacecraft ran on anything from H2 to methane to water) into the reactor plasma exhaust, which is VERY hot. More thrust. A nice thing about this is that the heat distributes through all the reaction mass, so the overall temperature drops enough that you can direct this exhaust with fairly conventional venturis (rocket nozzles) instead of electromagnetic focusing.
For jump drives, large amounts of boiling hydrogen are gravitically held in the shape of a plasmatic cocoon while a wormhole or miniature singularity is generated to pull the ship out of N-space and into J-space. If you've plotted your course right, your hydrogen envelope evaporates when you've reached the proper coordinates, and you're dumped into N-space with the last of the jump energy (this has the useful side-effect of killing all momentum of the ship relative to the solar gravity well, so no coming out of jump at an effective speed of several thousand gees). 

If you've done it wrong, well, things go badly. Your field collapses before you reach your coordinates, and your ship disintegrates as the harsh reality of jump space interacts poorly with matter. Or maybe you miss the coordinates, and you all starve to death. Or you come out of jump thousands of parsecs in a random direction. Or time passed at a different rate, so maybe your week in jump was a hundred years, and everyone you know is dead. 

So far, no misjump has ever resulted in a crew travelling backwards in time. 

That you know of. 

A misjump is a Bad Thing, is what I'm saying. 

* Also known as handwavium bullshittium.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A quick Monday Gunday thought

I just don't understand people who feel the need to wear seatbelts or motorcycle helmets. It must be an awful existence, constantly being afraid for your life when you go out on the road. What do you have to be afraid of? Why are you so paranoid?

We have posted speed limit signs for a reason. They are there so that people won't drive too fast and get into accidents, but paranoiacs like you see danger everywhere, even where there isn't any, and want everyone else to be as afraid as you are so that you can push your agenda. Besides,  if anything does go wrong, you can always call 911 for a rescue. 

What are you, a NASCAR wannabe? Do you drive fast because you have a small penis?  Do the seatbelts make you feel like a professional driver? I bet you're just looking for a reason to drive recklessly and get into a crash, and then you can say you were justified in your fear. If you're that worried about getting into a crash, maybe you should move to a neighborhood where people drive slower. 

Seriously, go get therapy before it's too late. Only professional race car drivers and rescue personnel need safety gear like this. They're trained to drive fast, you aren't.

TL;DR for the sarcasm impaired: Trusting gun free zones to keep you safe from criminals is like trusting traffic laws to protect you from accidents. But you don't, do you?  You drive defensively and use proper safety gear, because you realize that keeping yourself safe is primarily your responsibility.

Friday, March 1, 2013

PPR: Some old friends revisited

One of the first product reviews I did as an actual reviewer -- as in, I asked people to give me stuff to test, and to my surprise they did just that -- was for a quartet of camping stoves.  I am still a fan of the two with the highest ratings, the Solo Stove and the Folding Firebox, and I occasionally check in with them to see if they have anything new to sell.  It turns out that they do!

The first is fairly quick & dirty:  the Folding Firebox now sells two bags specifically designed to hold the stove in the folded state. One of them is a Heavy Duty Cordura D-ring Bag ($15.99, free shipping) which not only holds the Firebox but also has sleeves/pockets for the accessories.  This bag was previously sold only as part of an expensive deluxe kit, and so I am thrilled that the manufacturer listened when I suggested that he sell it separately.

Also available for the Firebox is the Ugly Bag ($9.99, free shipping), a homely but tough case made of vinyl-coated polyester. It doesn't have any of the frills that the D-ring bag has, but it gets the job done. This is the bag I own (I bought it myself! Like a grown-up! With my own money and everything!) and while it ain't pretty, it definitely does the job of keeping the Firebox and all its accessories together in a case that will protect the rest of your stuff from ash, cooking residue, and metal corners.

Here is a video of both bags, so you may make an informed decision.

The second item on the list is the Solo Pot 900 ($34.99).  What I like about this product is that the Solo Stove fits inside of it, so the usefulness of your cooking kit is doubled without any appreciable increase in volume -- and because it's made out of lightweight steel (seriously, I thought it was aluminum at first) there's no appreciable increase in weight, either.

It has volume markings in both metric and imperial, and they go as high as 30 ounces (although I think the total volume of it is closer to 35oz.). It also has a pour spout, two handles that fold out to make a roomy and comfortable grip, and a removable lid with a rubberized ring on top, making it essentially a combination mug and pot.

For consistency's sake, I took the Solo Pot into the back yard and heated 25oz water in it on the Solo Stove, so I could compare its performance to the previous test where I boiled 24oz in an aluminum pot.  Since the first time I tested these I did not cover the pot  (I was told later by my mother that I should have covered it, as that would have improved cooking time), all further tests have been uncovered, so keep this in mind when you consider the following times:
  • At 1:30, bubbles had already begun to form along the bottom. 
  • The water was clearly starting to boil at the 5 minute mark. 
  • It was obviously boiling by 7 minutes, although it had not achieved a rolling boil. 
  • At around the 11 minute mark I knocked the pot off the stove (oops!) and ended the test in a flurry of "Oh shits" as I barely avoided getting scalded. 
  • Considering that test was with the lid off, and that the first Solo Stove test achieved rolling boil by 12 minutes, I think this is a reasonable extrapolation to make for the Solo Pot as well.
My only real complaint, and it's a minor one, is that given the size of the pot it can be difficult to feed the stove effectively, and it's possible to knock it off (like I did) if you feed it too aggressively.  On the plus side, despite being made of metal it cooled off very quickly, and I had no trouble with taking it off the fire with the in-built metal handles.

That said, this is an excellent product. It turns your stove into a complete cook system that is only 4.5 inches high and 4.7 inches in diameter.  That's a stove and a mug/pot in a space smaller than a coffee can, and there's still room in the pot for fuel tabs and a lighter.
 My Rating:  A+

And to round off this post, I am pleased to announce that the Extended Cocking Handle for the Sub-2000, which I reviewed last month, is now available for sale by Twisted Industries. They are calling it the Double Finger Operating Handle and are selling it for $44.99.  Trust me, it's worth it.

UPDATE 11/08/2013:  I just noticed that the operating handle has been reduced to $24.99.  This is a much better price, and if you own a Subbie you now have no reason NOT to get this. The upgrade in comfort is easily worth 25 bucks. Get it -- you won't be sorry.

Photo courtesy Oleg Volk.

If you buy any of these, tell them Palette sent you!

Still Alive

Yes, I'm still here. Between helping my mom, doing all the household chores, giving attention to two needy dogs, fighting off some kind of crud, and dealing with the inevitable pre-birthday depression made worse by the fact that the one coming up is a milestone year with a FOUR in it, I just haven't had the right combination of time, ability, and desire to write.

I'm feeling relatively good today, though, so I thought I'd let you all know how I was doing (Hi!) and make another to-do list of Crap What Needs Blogging:

  1. I still have to write my review of the Timney Trigger for my Mosin. I swear, guys, I'll get this done just as soon as I have a free afternoon where I can hear myself think. 
  2. I need to finish my play-by-play of "Bad Seed" for Unknown Ponies. It's halfway done; I just need to be left alone so I can finish it. 
  3. I have two new products to test!  One of them is the Readi Mask, which is an emergency smoke/airborne contaminant mask that can be kept in a coat pocket, bug-out bag or purse. I immediately took a liking to this because, in addition to being light, flat, and inexpensive, it has eye protection that works with glasses.  My only concern is that since this mask is adhesive in nature, there might be a problem getting it to work for people with beards -- which sometimes seems to be 90% of the gunnie population.
  4.  A very nice lady over at LaserMax saw my review of the Crimson Trace Lasergrip and wanted to know if I was interested in doing a head-to-head comparison. Of course I said yes, and so I was sent the LaserMax Guide Rod Laser for Glock 26.  As soon as I can find the time (as well as a free box of 9mm) I plan to go to the range and test this baby out!
Hopefully I will be able to put out another blog post later today, wherein we shall visit a few old friends. 

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