January 2016


A Brief Conversation with My Mustache, 1

Me: "Got enough room there, buddy?"

Wyatt: "Ain't my fault your face is shrinking."

Me: "No, seriously, you're a lot bigger than you used to be."

Wyatt: "You're imagining things."

Wyatt: "Oops. 'Scuse me, I gotta take this. Hey there, Lance, my man. What's the word?"

Wyatt: "Dude, you're killin' me. I'm running low. ... Aw, don't give me that shit, man. It ain't like you're competing anymore."

Wyatt: "Who? Seriously? No, I already tried him, got nowhere. Asshole accused me of being from Al Jazeera. Who else do you know that might have some?"

Wyatt: "Uh, hang on a second. ... Dude, do ya mind? This is a private conversation."

Me: "You live on my face."

Wyatt: "Yeah? Well mind your own damn business or I'll rearrange it."

Friday,  January 29, 2016  McGehee

"And Round This Vapid Scrawl I Heard..."

Apropos of this (to perhaps the same extent that I am apropos of Wyatt Earp), over at PW, commenter palaeomerus talks back to the original.

Tuesday,  January 26, 2016  McGehee

Who Needs Bacon?

So Charles Hill posted a link to his weekly Vent, this time about the "six degrees of separation" theory. And of course he mentions the Kevin Bacon variant game, and I got to thinking about that.

Kevin Bacon co-starred with Tom Hanks in Apollo 13.

Hanks was among the vast array of celebrities interviewed by the late Harry Martin, who was for many years the entertainment reporter for Channel 3 in Sacramento (passed away in 2008, aged 81). Harry was also the only person who managed to interview Leonard Nimoy with his Spock ears on.

Among Harry's co-workers at Channel 3 was longtime news anchor Stan Atkinson, whose other duties for the station included hosting the local cutaway breaks during the Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Telethon.

One year when I was in high school I accompanied my dad and some fellow CB radio club members in volunteering behind the scenes at one of these local telethon events; I helped man the refreshment table, and that's how I met Stan. So I've got a Kevin Bacon Number of 4, right?

But according to a story my parents used to tell, during a period when they managed a motel in midtown Sacramento, one of the guests was Slim Pickens. Allegedly I was small enough to sit on his lap.

Pickens, of course, worked with about as many stars as Harry Martin interviewed, including John Wayne, Peter Sellers, Mel Brooks, James Garner, Clint Eastwood, Charlton Heston, Steve McQueen — pretty much everybody but Kevin Bacon.

All those big stars with whom I have just two degrees of separation.

And if anybody Slim knew or worked with ever met Kevin Bacon, that would let me claim a Bacon Number of 3.

But let's face it. I like my John Wayne Number of 2 better.

Update: Just read that John Wayne knew Wyatt Earp. Take that, Bacon.

Monday,  January 25, 2016  McGehee

...in Three Words, 1

Damning indictment of the 17th Amendment, in three words:

Senator Hillary Clinton

Monday,  January 25, 2016  McGehee

All-Purpose 2016 Twitter Campaign Slogan, Applicable Regardless of Candidate

All the other candidates but mine are big poopy-heads, and so are all their supporters!

Following up, hence the altered date.

For all the talk this election cycle about a Republican Establishment, it's become apparent there is also a Conservative Establishment that is no less panicked about Donald Trump than the other one.

National Review's recent "Against Trump" issue, while correct in principle, was ill-timed and ill-toned — and will likely turn out to have undermined efforts to elect an actual conservative to the presidency in a year when we were better positioned to do so than at anytime since 1980.

The entire political system is losing its shit, including the sector that has spent the last several years pleading with voters and elected officials to stop losing theirs.

If Trump ends up winning it will be because of one simple truth about politics: Desperation does not inspire confidence.

If they wanted to stop Trump what they needed to do was cause him to appear desperate.

There are still no committed delegates for the Republican nomination. Political consultants may think they know how things will go, but they're prone to viewing the situation through their own navels (guess from which direction?). A saying about how foolish are those who allow themselves to be led by fools, goes here.

Monday,  January 25, 2016  McGehee

Such a Thoughtful Gift

Sometime between last night and this morning, somebody went to the trouble of setting an intact six-pack of empty Guinness beer bottles on my property — well off the county right-of-way but right next to our entrance drive.

Having recently acquired a 12-gauge shotgun but not having had the opportunity to shoot it, I had an immediate brainstorm.

First, of course, I carried the six-pack farther away from the road and into the sheltered area, backed by a nice upslope, where I've done some occasional shooting in the past — for example, to complete the decommissioning of some failed but then-intact hard drives.

The shotgun is a no-frills pump-action model made by Mossberg, and the first thing that happened after I fired the first shot was that I couldn't get the slide to open. I'm still not sure what the trouble was, but after some fiddling I finally got the spent shell to eject so I could load another (I hadn't loaded the tube magazine, but had carried a handful of shells out with me to load one at a time) and resume shooting.

The second shell ejected easily, the third gave me a little trouble but did come out more easily than the first. I can only hope the action loosens up with practice, or I may, in the instance of a self-defense situation, have to exercise undue care in shot placement (between the eyes, of course) lest I not have the opportunity for a second. That thought is going to keep me awake all afternoon.

These rounds were birdshot; I'm going to be on the lookout for slugs though.

Another thing I've learned is that my pistol — a Beretta with a four-inch barrel — seems to be pulling to one side. This wasn't much of a problem when shooting at hard drives from close range, but I was standing farther back from the bottles and was more likely to knock them over than to break them. I'll need some range time with paper targets to diagnose and adjust accordingly.

Sunday,  January 24, 2016  McGehee


A dusting is what we got, but it’s resumed snowing and the wind is blowing.

Before it got light I heard the sound of a limb giving way somewhere, and returning from a sightseeing drive I saw a number of fresh pine boughs on the ground in the county right-of-way next to the road, so that may have been it.

I’m guessing the moisture feeding this snowfall is from the Gulf or the Atlantic, pulled all the way around the low pressure center and into the cold air being drawn down from Canada. It’s light enough to drive in but the wind persuaded me to head back to the barn.

No idea how much longer it’ll last, considering it wasn’t supposed to last this long in the first place.

No complaints — since I’ve no place to go, I’ll sit here with my coffee and let it snow.

Saturday,  January 23, 2016  McGehee

The Sound of Sirens

In light of the aforementioned alleged chance of wintry precipitation in this weekend’s forecast, a song lyric I wrote six years ago in honor of a similar forecast. Apologies to Simon and Garfunkel and music lovers everywhere.

Hello winter, my old friend
I see you’ve come around again
Tomorrow there will be some rain dripping
And that night so many cars slipping
On these roads, narrow, winding and all too dark
A skating park
And the sound
Of sirens

Will echo through the chilly night
And we will see the flashing lights
Near the fenders that are all wrinkled
Yet so pretty with the snow sprinkled
While the victims stand exchanging insurance cards
In nearby yards
To the sound
Of sirens

If I were you I’d hesitate
To get onto the interstate
Because you know it won’t be heavenly
Going sideways doing seventy
Knowing it will end with a hollow, crashing thud
And spurting blood
And then the sound
Of sirens.

Thursday,  January 21, 2016  McGehee

Ends and Odds

Weather Underground forecasts a middling chance of snow hereabouts on Saturday morning. I will, of course, believe it when I see it.


I've been ambivalent about which of my phones to use, but I think that's over now. My newer one — which runs an outdated version of Android but is supposed to get the latest update sometime this decade — has better battery life (and if the battery dies it can be replaced) but doesn't interface well with in-car Bluetooth for hands-free telephone use. My older phone, which has had the latest Android version for months already, has no trouble with Bluetooth but suffers from its 2014 battery that can't be replaced.

I'm hoping when the new phone does finally get updated the annoyances will go away, but if the Bluetooth bug remains I'm willing to revert to how I used my phone in previous vehicles — by not taking calls while I'm driving.


I've seen at least one argument to the effect that Ted Cruz is not a "natural born" citizen, but is instead an "ordinary" citizen. I can't help but wonder what is the "ordinary" manner of gaining U.S. citizenship, and how it differs from being "natural born."

There are only three ways to become a U.S. citizen. The one that applies most, er, ordinarily is by being born on United States soil. That's how I got mine, and it's how Donald Trump got his. Another is by undergoing a naturalization ceremony. For this you have to apply, take a test, and swear an oath.

The third way is to be born outside the United States but to a parent who is a U.S. citizen. That's how Ted Cruz got his — and also John McCain. And even if Barack Obama had been born in Kenya instead of Hawaii (spoiler: he was born in Hawaii), he too would be a natural born citizen of the United States because his mother was a U.S. citizen.

There are three ways to become a citizen, but there are not three classes of citizenship. If you gained your citizenship at birth and did not have to take an oath, you are a natural born citizen. If you were not natural born to U.S. citizenship, you have to be naturalized. It really is that straightforward.

Many people object to the blanket "born on U.S. soil" path because of the "anchor baby" problem, and argue that even on U.S. soil "natural-born" citizenship should be limited only to cases where at least one parent is already a U.S. citizen, and require a naturalization ceremony otherwise. I am inclined to agree with that. But it wouldn't change this simple fact:

The "ordinary" form of citizenship is natural-born citizenship.

Thursday,  January 21, 2016  McGehee

One Year Oga Today...

"Oga" being "ago" spelled backwads, obviously it means the opposite, right? Right?

Anyway, from the moment of this timestamp Barack Hussein Obama has only 366 days left to afflict the country he hates and his supporters ignorantly despise.

Öbamadämmerung has been underway for some time already, but now's when it gets real.

Wednesday,  January 20, 2016  McGehee

As the Fuse Is Lit

The Iowa caucuses are just over two weeks away, and the New Hampshire primary eight days beyond that. They will, as they always do, nuke whatever conventional wisdom will have been established by national polling — mainly because the delegate-selection process for a party's presidential nominating convention is never a national event.

There are those in various camps who even argue that the state-specific polls won't predict outcomes, and in a caucus state that is almost certainly true to some extent. If I were running a polling organization I would have figured out by now some ways to tweak the raw data and come up with something in the ballpark of actual results, but then again the caucuses have been vulnerable to gaming (read, "cheating" to us less sophistic flyover rubes).

I won't get a say in the process until March 1, Super Tuesday. In the past the outcomes in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have tended to leave unappetizing pickings by then. I gambled, though, by putting a campaign sticker on my car a couple of weeks ago. We'll see how long it stays there.

I'm going to try to have nothing to say about the Republican field before Iowa, because anything I could say before then would, like everything else that will be said in that period, be interpretations of events filtered through a partisan bias that won't serve any useful purpose.

"But aren't you a partisan?" you might ask. Yes, but although you probably wouldn't be reading if you didn't agree with me generally on issues, I have no reason to assume you share my particular partisanship on the question of candidacies. Election seasons do enough damage to friendships and alliances over Team Colors differences and I have no interest in getting into fights with people I agree with on almost everything else.

If you see me less on Twitter over the next few weeks, that will be why.

For now, hunker down, cover your ears, and beware of shrapnel.

Saturday,  January 16, 2016  McGehee

Cool runnings

Went to get a shower the other day and had no hot water.

The last time this had happened was in Alaska, on a morning with temps on the nippy side of 50° below zero. I was reasonably sure that wasn't applicable here with the temperature on the balmy side of 20° above zero.

Turned out the electric water heater (we're all-electric here, except for the propane fireplace) had given up. Fortunately we have a good working relationship with an independent local plumber and by day's end we had a new tank, 25% larger than the previous one (which had been adequate for a house with one less full bathroom than we have).

I'm under the impression the previous owners of this house contracted to have the downstairs bathroom added and didn't care to upgrade the water heater because it was still in fair shape at the time. But (I suspect) when they discovered the capacity shortfall they had a supplemental water heater added in the laundry room that, as far as we can tell, only serves the clothes washer's hot water tap.

A few years before we bought the house, they'd had a water heater failure too (this was disclosed at sale), and I think they chose not to upgrade then because with the supplemental heater they didn't need to.

Me, I'm thinking if we've got sufficient capacity now it might be worth looking into having the supplemental tank removed. Its location crowds our laundry equipment and the room could benefit from losing as much clutter as we can extract, just on general principles.

This wasn't the first water heater we've had to replace, but the other one — a gas-powered tank at our previous house — had failed from the bottom, sending a river of water out the garage and down the driveway. This one failed at the top, a far less messy way to go. Apparently the leakage had gone down into the workings and tripped the fuse inside the unit. Without tripping the circuit breaker in the master panel.

Hot showers are something I refuse to do without, even in summer.

Thursday,  January 14, 2016  McGehee

Start the clock

Barring the unexpected, the McGehee real estate empire, which slightly more than doubled four months ago, will be reduced in a few weeks to nearly the size we prefer: we've accepted an offer on the house Mrs. McG's late mother still owned when she passed away.

That'll leave us with the home acres here, and one week's timeshare on a place in Pigeon Forge that we have yet to lay eyes on — for a grand total of ~1.02 pieces of real estate. We've tentatively decided to at least look the place over, maybe get our 2016 membership fee's worth out of it, before deciding what to do. In this economy timeshares are hard to unload.

My father-in-law lives 45 minutes to an hour from Pigeon Forge, which means the one advantage the place might offer — one week a year — is a place to stay we would already be paying for whether we stayed there or not, for visiting. Of course, the place we usually stay when visiting has free breakfast, and is only ten minutes from Vaughn's house.

On the other hand, there is a program we could take part in that would let us use our timeshare week at properties elsewhere. Like, say, Jackson Hole.

But first we need to close on selling the Chattanooga house. And at long last the clock is ticking.

Thursday,  January 7, 2016  McGehee

Happy New Year

New Year's Day,  January 1, 2016  McGehee



January 2016


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