A mish-mash

Lots of bits. I’m writing and procrastinating about writing by writing something else. This.

I held off saying anything about the Las Vegas shooting until there was some clarity on what happened. There still isn’t any, if anything, it’s got worse.

The shooter was a white man, a Democrat, a Muslim, a lone wolf, part of a terror organisation nobody can identify, a rich man with a girlfriend and everything to live for and no previous indication of any trouble at all, and he shot himself. After he shot around 600 people with an (already illegal in the USA or so I’m told) automatic weapon.

There are reports that there were other guns firing from other hotels. Claims that he didn’t act alone. Claims that someone on the ground was shooting too. Claims that someone set off firecrackers to distract people from the sound of gunshots. I have no idea what to believe now.

Yeah. Pick the truth out of that lot. It’s a mess.

This is, once again, being used as an excuse to take all the guns away from Americans. Well, they took our UK guns away a long time ago and the result? Criminals wave illegal firearms around because they know for sure we law abiding people don’t have any. Their guns were unlicensed and illegal before the ban. It made no difference to them.

I’ve never owned a live round gun. Never wanted one so you could argue the ban made no difference to me. It did though. You see, if a burglar broke into my house before the ban he could not know if I was armed or not. Now he knows I’m not. That makes a big difference. I can’t bluff if the burglar knows for sure I don’t have a gun.

In Scotland you now have to have a licence for an airgun. Sold mine before it happened because it was clearly coming. We had to hand in my son’s BB guns from when he was a child – they fired plastic pellets that could dent paper at 10 yards but they counted as airguns under the new law. So, in Scotland, you can’t even have a BB gun without a licence now.

What I can’t understand is that it is Democrats calling for gun control. So… only the government will have guns, not the people. The Republican government, the one they despise and accuse of corruption, Nazism and white supremacy every minute of every day, will have all the guns. They won’t be allowed to have any, only the Trump government will be armed. Why do they think that’s a good idea?

Well, these are the same people who accuse the police of being racist murderers while insisting only the police should have guns. You can’t expect sense from minds that warped.

It’s also interesting to note than many of the big names claiming that nobody needs a gun for protection are always surrounded by armed security. ‘Hypocrite’ is far too small a word.

And another thing. I doubt that Las Vegas shooter hit with every round. If he hit 600 people from the 35th floor of a hotel then, even giving him a generous 50% hit rate, he must have fired at least 1200 rounds. Surely, someone buying that many rounds – especially for a weapon that the public aren’t allowed to own – would have raised a red flag somewhere? How did he do that?

Anyway, on to cheerier things. The anthology is still on target and after that I have a book by Dirk Vleugels translated from Dutch to French, a resizing of the ‘Han Snel ‘ book (apparently people think it should be bigger), an  abridged version of Hugo Stone’s ‘Cultish’ – all of which should be quick to publish – then I have a novel by Lee Bidgood (who is also in the new anthology) and two of my own, ‘Jessica’s Trap’ and ‘Samuel’s Girl’ which are out of contract with the original publisher and just need new covers and a quick revamp.

Then the Christmas anthology. Busy busy busy.

I’m also back into making little models. I’m thinking of making the van that came with Sparkle Truck  into ‘White Supremacy Van Man’. That should raise a few hackles.

I discovered ‘Metal Earth’ stainless steel kits and have made a few. They’re quick but they take a long time. Even with a magnifier and a good light, they are tiny and shiny and are held together with extremely tiny tags. So I need to stop before it gets to hammer time, and go back to it when the destructive urge has subsided. Total work time is only a few hours but some of them take days to finish.  I’ve made a few, there will be pictures. Also advice if you fancy having a go.

The train obsession has resurfaced. I sold off most of the N gauge stuff when I was broke and have been slowly accumulating OO gauge since. All second hand of course – the older models are basically a motor and contact from the track. Very simple devices. Unless the motor is burned out, a non-runner is either over-oiled or has dirty wheels. Easily fixed, as are missing buffers and couplings. I pick up the non runners on eBay and will sell a few as working engines to make the hobby self funding. Wagons, all I need is the frame and wheels and I can make the rest.

I recently bought two brand new sets. Both have a GWR 0-4-0 tank engine, a few wagons, a basic track oval and a mains-powered controller. One was £60 in Asda, the other was £48 in Toys R Us (half price). The Toys R Us one has repainted the engine blue and given it a probably mythical company name. That’s okay, I can fix that. Excess controllers are easy to sell too.

Modern engines cost a lot more because they have, or can be fitted with, DCC (direct cab control) which means you can run two trains on the same track and control them independently. I don’t want that. It’s great for clubs where you can have people running their own trains and someone in charge of signals so they don’t run a train into the back of another one, but for solo use it’s more concentration than I want to apply. It’s supposed to be a relaxing hobby.

It does mean that the old stuff is on sale cheap. That suits me fine. I recently saw a brand new Class 08 in OO gauge (you might have seen them at mainline stations, the square blue shunting engine) on sale for nearly £200! I bought a Class 58 (a BIG freight diesel) for £25 on eBay. In perfect condition but can’t do the DCC thing. Fine with me, I prefer the old stuff.

Another eBay win was the Lima station with signal. I think I paid about £5 for it. The station is continental and the platforms are too low and too far from the train. I’ve already taken the building off the base and fixed the broken signal. I’ll rebuild platforms over it. The building will make a good house somewhere.

The big thing with this bit of kit is that it has an isolating track. When the signal is red, the train is on dead track. When it’s green, the track is live. It doesn’t use LEDs, it uses a single white racist light and a blanking plate that moves up and down with the switch. I’m fine with that. Filament bulbs are easier to replace anyway.

The bugbear with this one is that the signal light takes power from the track. The higher the power, the brighter the light. This means that to have the light on full brightness the train has to be approaching the station at full speed, hit the dead track section and stop dead with all the passengers creamed into the front end of every coach.

It also means that to have the light green to send the train on its way, the power has to be on full before switching on the track, so the new passengers get creamed into the back of each coach when it takes off like a bullet.

The solution is simple, I just have to rewire so the signal light takes power from a constant source instead of the track. The dead section and light switch will work just the same and the train can come in and leave again at a normal slow speed.

I have to make a portable railway. I have an attic big enough for an impressive O gauge setup but I don’t know how long I’m going to live here. So I need something mobile.

I know, I know, you want to call me a geek and I’m fine with that.

If everyone was into models instead of guns and ideology and hate though, what would the world be like?

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The Cleansing.

No, it’s not about work. Although there is news from work. We have a replacement staff member starting next week so we won’t have to all do seven days a week after that. This is excellent news as far as I am concerned but I realise it makes not one jot of difference to the rest of you (aside from those waiting for me to complete models since I can’t work on the tiny ones tired).

I can work on OO gauge at the moment, so Western Gladiator is now in full working order and this one, which stalled over a decade ago because I had no chassis for it, is also now running.

dapoldelticDapol bodyshell, SE Finecast window glazing, Lima class 55 chassis with the sides of the fuel tanks cut off, motor from a spare class 52 chassis. With lights. Rail geeks will note there is still much to do but it’s running so anything else, anything at all, is now worth the effort. I’ll run the decals up when I do the ones for Man with a Van.

So now that everyone is feeling pretty mellow, let’s bring on the darkness. Yesterday I suggested that the ridiculous idea of adding dry ice to anything at all and breathing in the visible fumes was designed to kill off those who are overweight. Because it will.

Smokers and drinkers? Forget about us, we’ve been denormalised to Hell and back, the Righteous don’t regard us as their pets and they don’t see us as any threat. We were never their pets. The obese were, for a little while. It was a disability, remember? Now it isn’t any more. They don’t need you now.

They no longer need Muslims or to be more specific, Islamic fundamentalists. Everyday Muslims have been around the UK for a very long time and have just got on with life. They were not in the slightest offended by any of the things the Righteous claimed would ‘offend Muslims’. But the fundamentalists were and they were willing to shout about it. The Righteous loved those guys.

Not any more. Their child-rape gangs, for so long protected by Righteous ‘anti-racist’ decree, are now being rounded up. Their hate preachers are being silenced. Antjam sees where this is going and is trying to get out of it, but no dice, pal. They don’t need you now.

I have no interest at all in gay marriage. As I have said before, I am neither gay nor religious so the entire issue is of no interest to me. If two guys or two girls want to make vows to each other and live together forever, it does not affect me one bit. It’s not quite true that I have no interest in the subject, even if I have no interest in the mechanics of it.

Cameron pushed very hard to get gay marriage legalised. So did almost every other western government at the same time. As a smoker, that kind of co-ordination piques my interest because it is that old template in action again. While he had a country in recession, an EU sucking the lifeblood out of every member state, wars in other countries, the Argies threatening to start another one, and all the power stations on the verge of going ‘phut’, what was he concentrating on? Gay marriage. So are all the other governments.

And what do they do when they get it? A few days ago, the Mail reported on a lesbian Muslim couple in the UK getting married. With full names, location and photos. Today they report on two guys in France getting married. With full names, location and photos. In both cases they delight in pointing out that the couples face death threats, and not just internet-troll threats made by a sweaty fat man in a Norwich basement. Islamic extremists really do kill gay people and the French anti-gay-marriage protests have been pretty nasty too.

These people are targets now. They have been set up. Just like the Muslims and the overweight, the Righteous don’t need you any more.

The Righteous are cleansing their pet stores. They don’t need them now. They are moving into a new phase.

A new way to wipe out those who will not conform.

It might not even exist. Probably doesn’t. None of the other scares did. The drones will show symptoms anyway.

For those who still believe the Righteous will look after them as long as they hate who they are told to hate, here’s a little video. You might want to learn the words, ready for when it’s your turn.

And it will, one day, be your turn.

The Wriggly Diet.

Parents are visiting for a week, starting tomorrow, so I have been urgently… fitting directional lighting into a Class 25. Well, the place is already clean. I’m a professional cleaner now, you know. I’ve learned some speed-cleaning tricks in this new job that I wish I’d learned thirty years ago.

Fitting directional lighting (lights come on only in the direction the train is moving) is a doddle with these new LEDs. We used to have to fiddle with diodes and filament bulbs but the bulbs are the diodes now. One resistor and two LEDs wired back to back, and it’s done. Then re-seat them the right way round and it’s finally done.

Tonight I achieved this on a diet of vegetable pakora (I had five, so I’m sticking to the rules here, and the chilli sauce also counts as a vegetable so that is six a day) followed by a lamb bhoona with poppadoms. I wonder how well I’d do on a diet of spiders and scorpions? Neither of those are insects but they are also, apparently, edible. I would have to wipe out my garden’s entire supply of spiders for one curry and I’d rather not do that. Spiders don’t eat my plants, they eat some of the things that eat my plants. So I won’t harm a spider. Besides, they have such sweet little faces with all those big round eyes and that fat moustache with teeth on the end.

Insects are made of chitin, and chitin is poly-N-acetyl-glucosamine. The same glucosamine you buy as a health food. Incidentally, fungi are largely made of chitosan, a deacetylated form of chitin, so it’s just a long chain of glucosamine. Eat Danish Blue or Stilton cheese and you get all the glucosamine you need. (I once did a three-year project on chitin degradation in estuarine sediments so I didn’t need to look it up, which is good because I picked up a Ben Bracken tonight. Might as well make the most of the small amount extra I get from the overtime).

Aside from the toxic ones, the ones that bite and/or sting, the ones that burrow into your skin and live there, the ones that insist on hovering in front of your face when you’re trying to concentrate on something, insects are perfectly edible. Their insides are protein and their outsides are sugar. Whoops, now the drones will try to get them banned on the basis of their sugar content.

Locusts are actually not unlike prawns except you don’t have to peel off the shell, and might make a pretty good curry. Reptile-keeping people tell me they aren’t all that hard to breed either. I wonder if I could breed enough for a plague? It would be a short-lived plague, here in Scotland, but the drones are likely to panic in most entertaining ways.

Also from the reptile-keepers, the way they get vitamins and minerals into their non-vegetable-eating lizards is to feed the veg to the insects and then feed the insects to the lizards. The veg is wrapped in insect so it’s sort of sneaked into the lizard’s digestion. Rather like getting a recalcitrant Scot to consume a healthy boiled egg by wrapping it in sausage meat, rolling it in breadcrumbs and deep-frying it.

The downside of eating insects, as I see it, is that you have to eat a hell of a lot of them. They are very small, even those regarded as ‘big’. You aren’t going to be cutting steaks off any of them.  Okay, there are a hell of a lot of them out there but even so, it’s much easier to catch and kill one wild pig that will last you for weeks than to catch and munch a hundred or a thousand (depending on size) greasy little larvae every single day. I mean, it’s okay for a gecko that weighs about fifty grams but a full size human needs a lot more. We eat the thing that eats the gecko because we are much larger animals and geckos are very small and very fast indeed.

That is the basis of the food chain. Little things are eaten by slightly larger things which are eaten by slightly larger things until you get to the low cunning of the larger animals who will gang up on something bigger than themselves and share it. Lions do this, crocodiles do it, and of course humans. It is not unnatural, it is how a tribal creature lives. A fox can manage quite well on rabbits but a pack of wolves needs a sheep now and then.

Cows, sheep and goats can live on grass. Humans, no matter how tatty the beard nor how unwashed the Che Guevara T-shirt, cannot. Those animals are ruminants and could even, at a pinch, survive on a diet of pissed-on newspaper. Urea and cellulose is all they need for basic survival. They won’t like it and they’ll run out of minerals but they are capable of doing it for some time. We are not, not even for an hour. Ruminants get very little from their diet. The bacteria and protozoa in their rumens convert things mammals can’t eat into easily digestible microbial protein. No problem getting particular amino acids in their diet, the bugs can make them all.

Ruminants get almost zero sugar from their diet because the microbes get it first and turn it into fatty acids. The animal converts fatty acids into sugars in its liver. It is an enviable digestive system – they can live on the most useless materials, stuff that is simply free for the taking because nobody else wants it.

However, humans are not ruminants. Some things we cannot make for ourselves. Certain amino acids, certain fats that are essential for cell wall construction, and much more. We have to get those things in our diets. We have to eat them.

Insects are actually a pretty good addition to the human diet. Well, the non-stinging, non-toxic ones at least. And not bot-fly larvae. Eating those is a very bad idea.

The UK site Firebox.com sells many things, none of which are necessary to anyone’s life. It’s a fun site to visit. Some years back I bought lollipops containing scorpions and ants to give to squeamish people for Christmas. The scorpion is edible, as are the ants, and they did a third one I’ve forgotten now. I think it was some kind of worm. They also did a small bottle of vodka with a scorpion in the bottom. Last one to drink gets to eat the scorpion. Like that Mexican drink with the insect larva in the bottle. So the idea of eating insects/arthropods has been sneaking into Western public consciousness for some years already.

There is a big push at the moment to get us all munching on house-flies and woodlice. In a horror writer’s mind, this kind of thinking hits odd links.

If people start to eat insects by the truckload, someone is going to have to farm them. There will be a production line of insects rather than some back-of-the-market stall run by two brothers who rake the woods for them and sell them fried and kebabed on cocktail sticks. The availability of insects as food will become a simple matter of visiting the supermarket.

Many reptiles eat insects. Human-sized reptiles would need a hell of a lot of them and would want to set up a good supply chain.

The name ‘David Icke’ keeps floating into my head…

Plastered.

The beer festival was a bust. Mostly because we made the terrible mistake of trying it on Saturday night when it was packed and also because the live band volume was set at a level that was best heard outside and across the street and even there, the bass came up through the ground. Inside was like being inside the speakers. You’d get a headache in the morning if you were on Earl Grey all night.

So we decanted to a Smoky-Drinky with a few Co-Op bottles instead. I will consider trying again on the way home from work tomorrow. The beeriness has one more day to go.

Anyway, I am not reading the news because I am now too merrily drunk to care about any new smoker-hatred. Haters gonna hate, me, I’m gonna laugh and torment their drones.

That eBay Class 52 arrived at 12 noon, and as the seller said it was ‘spares or repair’ but the body was in good nick and it was running again before I started work at 3. Needs buffers and trivial cosmetic work and then it’s perfect. One of the first N gauge engines I sold off was a Class 52 so it’s appropriate than one of the first I get back in OO is the same.

Now I have to try out this sleep thing. Early start at work tomorrow, I have to be there at the horrible time of noon. It’s not natural to even be awake at that time but then, it’s only once a week.

 

Holiday good mood day.

Okay, not much of a holiday since Local Shop is open every day over the Mayday holiday so I don’t have a day off but…

I picked up a Class 52 (Western) diesel on eBay for under £20. I had one of these in N gauge, it was one of the first to be sold off so it’s fitting that it should be among the first to be replaced in OO. It’s a ‘spares or repair’ but if it doesn’t run, I have a good motor that’ll fit. Anything else is cosmetic.

It has been a fine day, I was at work for half of it but in the garden for the other half. Raspberries are tied in, gooseberries are trimmed, plums and apples show signs of life and the greenhouse is actually warm enough to put tobacco seedlings in it. This year I didn’t bother with tomatoes, chillis etc. from seed. I’ll buy the plants half-grown. Most of the garden is coming alive apart from the cursed ground under the bird feeder which I have sprinkled with lime. The crocus pentacle was disappointing this year, can’t win them all.

A fine day is a cider day. Cider is ideal for a warm sunny evening outdoors and when it gets dark, I am working my way through three seasons of ‘Supernatural’, a jolly tale of two brothers bonding over the corpses of demons. Awwww, cute.

Therefore it’s a good mood night. Tomorrow I will look in on the news and return to blind fury but for tonight, I’m giving the blood pressure a rest.

Normal service will resume tomorrow.

 

Model building update.

Bunni  auction.

I have obtained 45 new sitting figures so Man with a Van will have a companion. There is no passenger seat but I have some little crates. One labelled ‘baccy’ will make a seat. The second truck is started and the decals are in the meddling stage. That second truck has an enclosed cab and two seats so no problem.

Sub

Several attempts at making a 1/1200 sailor have produced gradually improving results. It doesn’t matter how many I have to scrap because it uses such a tiny amount of thin brass wire each time that even if it takes a dozen goes, I will make no detectable impact on my thin brass wire supply. Soldering is impossible unless sailors are allowed to have a gut like Orson Welles these days. I have switched to glue.

Smoking passengers (OO scale)

I have dismantled one Hornby and one Lima coach to see what can be done. The Lima has a special problem in that the roof and window glazing are one unit and they are also swines to take apart. The roof is made of clear plastic and painted, but one scratch or chip and light will show through. I have lined the inside of the roof with aluminium tape which solves the leakage and is such an efficient reflector that two LEDs can light a 7-compartment coach. There is no point going overboard with interior detail because the glazing is 1 mm thick. To scale, that is like having 3-inch-thick windows and it is far from crystal clear. Might not bother with smokers in Lima coaches, it’s a pain to go to all that trouble if nobody can see them.

Hornby coaches are easier to dismantle and have much thinner glazing – and the roof is opaque. I’ll put aluminium tape in anyway because it cuts down on the white LED use and evens out the spread of lighting. The visibility through the windows is good, so they’ll get smokers. Best place to hide the red LED for the fibre-fags is inside a plastic tube in the toilet, because the toilet window is whited out and the interior moulding makes it a separate compartment. Less of a problem in a brake end because I have the whole guard’s van to play with.

I picked up a load of LEDs and 45 OO scale people on eBay so I have stocks of both. The vans will run on 3V button cells and I can include a pack of eight in the Bunni sale because the pound shop sells me a pack for a pound. There will be no switches, it’ll be a matter of ‘slip the cell between the contacts and horrify antismokers until the battery runs out or you take it out’. It’s 12.5p a battery so it’s cheap fun.

That GWR Bristol Castle bodyshell must go on eBay soon. I saw a set of etched brass nameplates and numbers for Powderham Castle and was sore tempted… but I have no chassis or wheels and I have a whitemetal 94xx GWR Pannier (with sprung buffers, now with real rust) which I do have a chassis for at last, although I have had the bodyshell for decades. If I try to keep that Castle body it’s going to be another thirty years before I do anything with it. There is also a BR 0-6-2 tank diecast bodyshell that I must get rid of before it infects me with the wish to do something about it. It’s numbered 69550 and that’s all I know. Probably for the best if I know no more.

The 1/24th Rolls and the Jag XJ220 projects both stalled when work became intense. I am still on a 7-day week. There was also the question of the developing witch-hunt over Saliva’s naughty ways which has now led to the arrest of Freaky Fred who apparently did something naughty in a school many, many years ago. If he was a real paedo he would not have stopped. Real ones don’t. They can’t. Accusations from decades back with nothing in between do not, to me, suggest ‘paedo’. This is looking more like a pogrom than a paedo-hunt every day.

So I decided against having Jimmy Dribble in the Rolls after all, but the driver will have a smoking skull for sure. I’ve also drilled the eyes. Might be a Hell Car for next Halloween, bringing the smokers back from the deepest depths of the fiery place (sponsored by Zippo) to spread the deadliness of SHS among the lost minds of the useless and the insane. Yes, yes, I mean mainly politicians, who could doubt it?

The Jag might have a woman driver, which will make Jeremy Clarkson explode. I wonder how much he’d pay me not to do that? I won’t put his dormouse friend nor his March Hare in there either but if I could get a 1/24th scale model of the mad hatter himself, that would do. It wouldn’t cost him much, relatively.

The Bunni Auction has priority. That one has to be first.

If only I wasn’t so knackered all the time. Then again, the only way to have more time is to work less and working less means less money so I just have to work around it for now.

It’ll work out. It always does.