Just A Silly Thing


I’m very busy — car shopping. Our car died. Poor thing was 22 years old. It would probably have been fine, if we’d remembered to check the oil. We needed it to last ONE MORE YEAR, but hey, we’ll deal — and also woke up with an infernal head cold.

DIL says we should take this year back for a refund, and she ain’t wrong.

Anyway, yesterday I was looking for something on Pixabay and came across a couple of images that are SUCH perfect SF/f covers.  So I wrote like paragraphs about it. And I thought I’d share. No, they’re not novels. Maybe some day, but not right now. More likely, honest, they’ll be short stories. So, this is just to amuse you with the situations.

This one is from user Darksouls who has some pretty nifty stuff. I started following him years ago when most of his stuff was obvious photoshop and not very artistic. He’s gotten better.  I’ve NO idea what those creatures are (I’m tragically D & D lore impaired) but I came up with a paragraph I put up on FB with this picture:


“Them?” She looked at me like I was a total idiot. “Don’t be silly. They’re not dangerous. At least not to me. I’ve had them since they were babies. They were too cute to kill, when I shot their mother. They’re fine. Worry about the Other instead. They’re signaling he came this way.”

The bottom one is this, from user Black Dog.


“Are you sure this will get us a human to take back to supreme leader?” Xyzv asked. “Wouldn’t it better for us to just kidnap them by sucking them into our spaceship as usual.”

“No. Shut up. Supreme Leader wants a human male. This will do it.”

“But why? WHY would he come to a back alley to look for a mate? Surely there are better females in–”

Vilia blushed. “Trust me, okay. It’s a human thing.”

“I told Supreme Leader he should not have kept the foundlings and raised them. The only good human is a dissected human.” Xyzv muttered.

Vilia sighed. And she’d thought they were friends.

148 thoughts on “Just A Silly Thing

    1. Oh good lord, did you hear that there’s an unofficial tag on AO3, Humans Are Space Orcs?

      Some really good stories, too; you have to dig through to find only the stories with that tag if you do a search, since it’s unofficial– hope they fix that soon– but TOTALLY worth it. There’s one about Sesame Street helping an alien, and a really really good one that’s getting towards Vathara length– hope she follows the same pattern.

      1. Humans form groups like hives of wasps, only very much larger and very much more well-cemented. Humans in these groups have been known to risk their lives to preserve the existence of another human without knowing of a single blood connection. While this produce some tendency to instability, unlike normal, kin-based social structure, these groups — which may be called “armies” or “navies” or many other terms — can entirely swarm over those who oppose them based on more normal social structures.

        1. Then you have the outliers like me, with the can of gas and book of matches…

          CIVIL ENGINEER: “Look at our fine cities!”
          BOMBARDIER: “We call them ‘targets’.”

            1. Especially when you read those recurring HFY threads about how hard we are to kill, & the we use capsaicin(?) to make our food taste more interesting…

              1. The real problem with such anecdotes is that they are obviously HUMANS thinking of themselves as space orcs. What would a non-human race find so terrifying in us?

                Obviously, what I gave above tells you something about normality in that universe. Here’s another:

                Humans do not need their hives. While many human require daily interaction with other humans to remain normal, some do not, and the interaction may be brief. Humans can spend long periods of time working on tasks without the presence of another human. Wiping out a squad of humans except for one may make that one not give up in despair but grow dangerous in anger. Individual humans may be intentionally tasked with moving against enemy forces either to gain intelligence (they call it spying) or cause damage (they call it sabotage).

                1. Besides, human behavior in the “The Deathworlders Universe”, humans live on a Heavy-Gravity world (compared to the vast majority of alien home worlds) so are stronger & tougher than the majority of aliens.

                  On top of that, compared to other alien home worlds, Earth’s plants & animals are more diverse & deadly. Humans have adapted to them so they aren’t as deadly.

                  Note, in the story that tells how all of mankind learn that there’s “life out there” the Hunters (terrors of the galaxy) interrupt a profession hockey match.

                  The Hunters’ weapons fail to kill the humans and both the teams & the spectators manage to kill the Terrors of the Galaxy with improvised weapons.

                  But yes, human behavior is vastly different from most alien species but we are tough enough to take what they dish out and return it ten-fold. 😈

                  1. Biologists observe that in tropical regions, life tends to compete with other life, while in arctic ones, life tends to compete at being less killable by non-animate nature. So if Earth has an inordinately large amount of arctic regions, the aliens will be astounded at how we cope with inhospitable conditions; tropical, with other competing life forms.

                2. Its funny you should ask that. What if the sheer consciousness it takes for a human to stay alive on this inhospitable mudball Earth is enough to scare the lugnuts off an alien AI? A human just looks at them and they run away, every sin they ever committed burning them.

                  1. “Earth is ‘space Australia'” is hwo that is put.
                    And they get told about Australia… and the general decision is “Let’s not go there.”
                    Then someone mentions sharks…

                    1. In part of the “The Deathworlders” story line, an alien trapped an assassin (also an alien) in a “greenhouse” filled with various Earth plants.

                      The assassin was killed by pollen from the Earth plants. IE “Hay Fever” on a massive scale. 😈

                    2. Space is empty, dark and boring. -Nothing- ever happens out there. Like, ever. If there’s going to be a collision, any competent observer will know years and years in advance.

                      So an AI that dwells in space and on lifeless rocks will be used to that. If something changes, its because they changed it.

                      Then they come here, where even the atmosphere moves on its own…

  1. DIL says we should take this year back for a refund, and she ain’t wrong.

    Nonsense – it’s barely past fifty days and we’ve already had the Trump Impeachment, the Demolition Caucuses, and Liberal outrage over appointment of an openly gay DNI. You’ve got to look at the grander scheme.

    1. Ah 2020 as Farce or Satire. Well given its good odds the Democrats are going to nominate a candidate (doesn’t matter which its merely a matter of degree) that will make McGovern look like a card carrying John Birch Society member I suspect the theme will continue. I suspect we’re going to need LOTS of Popcorn for the Democrat Convention.

        1. I doubt it will be a win of the magnitude of that over McGovern (only got 17 electoral votes) or 1984 over Mondale (Only got 13 3electoral votes). Trump may take a couple marginal blue state (NM NV) and maybe NH. Perhaps Virginia after the issues with the 2nd amendment in addition to his 2016 totals so ~330 Electoral votes. Sadly I don’t think Bernie’s (Whose nomination it now seems to be his to lose) wildly socialist communist positions bother most of the deep blue coastal states. Certainly not more than Trump’s appealing to the middle and blue collar does. And if Bernie can Steal back PA and FLA things might get dicey. I want to say FLA is not loopy enough to go for Bernie, but I can’t. A lot is going to matter on turnout particularly in places like NV and NM.
          Possibly also in PA although Philadelphia is a nightmare of fraud for the D,

          1. I think it’s the fraud that will do the Democrats in. Everything I’ve seen says they STILL haven’t absorbed the simple fact that Trump fights back. They still expect him to roll over and wave his paws in the air like a ‘Good Republican’. Also, they’re getting increasingly sloppy. So, yes, there will be massive, systemic vote fraud…and they will get caught, and Trump will pound them like cheap veal over it. So, Trump wins 300+ electoral votes, and ties the Democrat power structure into knots by prosecuting vote fraud. Instead of letting it go with a few underlings, he keeps unraveling the threads as they reach up into the higher levels.

            It should be epic.

            1. If memory serves, the consent decree which prevented GOP fighting back against Dem Fraud has expired (and how in the [Heck] did it ever get so broadly agreed to in the first place?)

              Even if it hasn’t I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump violates ignores it and challenges Dems to do something about it after the election, particularly in the face of exposed fraud.

            2. Right Trump got 306 electoral votes in 2016. I think he’s unlikely to break 330 looking at the maps. Ronald Reagan got 525 in 1984, Richard Nixon got 520 in 1972. I don’t think we’ll ever see elections like that again. The coastal states have just gone too far into one state rule. Hell Massachusetts voted for Reagan. With the current state of Massachusetts electorate I think it unlikely to see the state give its electoral votes to someone with an R after their name in my lifetime again.

              1. I think it is possible Trump won’t even win the popular vote, as the Dems will have their fraud factories in California, Illinois, Colorado, Washington and Oregon cranked up to eleven. The more certain it becomes that Trump will win the Electoral College the greater the incentive to deny him the popular vote and the lower the likelihood of close attention being paid in the states where vote manufacturing is major industry.

                1. It’s possible. Though I think a Bernie candidacy is NOT going to turn out the cIty voters to the same degree that Obama did. The big question is presuming Bernies folks get the nomination will they figure out where and how to fight Trump? If they spend their GOTV money in CA, IL,OR and Co their idiots. They could NOT run an add AT ALL in CA or IL and probably would still take them.
                  The other fun thing is health, Who gets the Bernie VP nod. I would say NONE of the current candidates. So who then? Because should Bernie shuffle off this mortal coil post the convention things get really interesting in that proverbial Chinese way.

                    1. ERRRR not liking that. I will have to go look at the turnout numbers if somebodies got them that I don’t have to pay for. Sounds like the minorities are shifting from paste eating Joe to Sanders. Be interesting to see if they turned out more or less than 2016 and 2012.

            3. Supposing that it is proved that the Democrats cheated hugely enough to flip the presidency. Does the law allow the election to be set aside and a new one conducted after jailing all the Democrats and putting controls in place to prevent fraud? I doubt it. I give it even odds that the courts will say that they stole the election fair and square and get to keep it. If I am wrong, what does happen?

          2. The electorate’s choice always comes down to a binary set and (Lord knows) anything can happen. I always keep in mind that in 1980 it was Reagan against whom the Carter campaign hoped to run … and Trump was Hillary’s opponent of choice in 2016. OF certain things we can be certain: the MSM will spend countless column inches and airtime explaining how Bernie is nowhere near as radical as he seems (and besides, a Democrat House & Senate will provide the ballast needed) and the rest of the coverage will focus on Trump and his many flaws, with extended thumbsuckers about how he’s stealing credit for achievements he has squat to do with.

            TL:DR version — Bernie isn’t as bad as he seems and Trump is far worse than appearances.

            As the Professor keeps reminding, “Don’t get cocky, kid.”

            1. Of course Carter got slammed by Iran. Basically he got excoriated late night on ABC for over a year because of the hostages. Bush the elder was flying high after the end of the Gulf War until he broke the “no new taxes promise” and got hammered by Slick Willy. And PA and FLA are fickle and have LARGE quotients of unpredictability due to cheating and volatile turnout. We look at the center of the country and say “Look at all those red counties”. Problem is a lot of the western states have 3 -6 electoral votes so all of them together might match TX. CA has 55, NY 29 (it had 40+ when I was a kid), FLA 29, TX 38. I don’t forsee Bernie winning Texas this time, but CA and NY are his to lose and due to Florida man Florida is always in play. Also of interest is of course House and Senate.
              Lotes of R senate seats open this time and that’s tight. Lots of D House members that promised to be reasonable and then fell in with the D party line. Will the constituents remember?

        1. the hue and cry for Chrissy to “resign” for comparing Bern to a nazi has been fun.
          Their case would be helped if Bern hadn’t said he was not really an International Socialist, but more of a Nationalist.

          At this point, the leftoids have gotten so stupid, they no longer surprise me in the least.

          1. But it’s OK for them to compare us to Nazi. [Shakes Head Sadly And Walks Away]

          2. Oh my — this may be less of a contest than I anticipated. Comparing Bernie to a Nazi seems to be somewhat of a best-case scenario when you consider what he utters:

            Bernie Sanders may have just lost Florida to President Trump
            The campaign to re-elect President Trump is going to sleep a little easier tonight.

            Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has cemented his position as the 2020 Democratic primary front-runner, is still defending Fidel Castro, claiming as recently as this weekend that the late communist tyrant was not all that bad. After all, the Vermont senator explained during a Sunday appearance on CBS’s 60 Minutes, the murderous Castro regime had literacy programs.

            And just like that, Sanders has made winning Florida and its 29 electoral votes a whole lot more difficult for the Democratic Party. …

            … The most damaging moment from Sanders’s appearance on 60 Minutes comes when his interviewer, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, brings up the senator’s past praise for Castro. CBS segues into this portion of the interview by playing archival footage of the senator parroting Cuban propaganda. Sanders can be seen and heard in these old tapes arguing that Castro was welcomed and defended by the Cuban people because “he educated their kids, gave them health care, totally transformed the society, you know.”

            Fast-forward to the present, and Sanders is still saying the same things. …

            1. popcorn futures look up

              I do wish all those who just lurve them some Fidel/Hugo/commie dictator flavor of the year would just show us how much better these places are by moving there permanently.

    2. Nah, it’s been good so far. I mean, look at the utter MELTDOWN that they’ve had in Britain because of the TOTAL rejection of Corbyn’s GRANDE VISION, and Brexit. Then there’s the stories of Lefties leaving the DNC because of how insane the DNC elite have gotten, post impeachment acquittal and Pelosi ripping up the speech… and there’s the violence from the Bernie Bros. Not good for the victims, but good for showing ordinary normal folks how insane the Left has gotten.

      It’s a good start to the year.

  2. Xyzv rolled its eyes. “Don’t get all hurt. You don’t count as human. Not really.”
    Vilia didn’t know how to take that. Before she could pursue things further, she saw movement at the mouth of the alley. Ah, human males. So damn predictable.

  3. Re: the car thing, look hard at crew-cab and extra-cab Ford pickup trucks. F-150 6 cylinder is cheap on gas and built to survive an accident. (personal experience) A bed that can carry a sheet of plywood is never a bad thing to have either.

    My $0.02 worth.

    1. I went with a grandma car. 2001 Buick LeSabre, under 80,000 miles and I got it for 3 grand. The 3800 V-6 clinches the deal. You can drive these cheap for a very long time.

      1. Mom and Dad just replaced their Buick with a 3800 after it rolled over 275,000 miles
        Weren’t liking anything newer from Buick (Dad is a Pontiac/Buick car, Ford Truck man) so they went with a 2019 Kia (demo iirc). I tend to dislike GM in general, but yeah, that 3600 is a great one.
        I wonder how hard putting one in my Nissan Frontier 4×4 would be.

    2. Long wheelbase pickups are also very easy to handle on icy roads. I don’t know how Denver’s microclimate compares to Colorado Springs, but Springs gets a lot of ice…

      Maintenance is also easier on pickups. Too many modern cars, you open the hood and it might as well be solid in there, with all the pieces folded in like some kind of mechanical origami.

      One car we had, the procedure to change the starter began with “remove front subframe”, progressed past “remove oil pan”, and concluded with “new front-end alignment.”

      Sadly, that’s not particularly unusual nowadays…

      1. Another vote for a Ford pickup, or at least the more truck-like form of 4WD SUV.

        And only age 22? Geez, that’s vehicular infanticide. Current F350 is 29 (260k miles, got it used for $3000 and promptly put 20k miles on it cross-country towing; still drives like a new truck); previous F100 was retired at age 38 (240k miles) still in good running condition, but at the time I could only move one truck. Presently looking for a 1990s Explorer as a runaround-winter and backroads vehicle.

        And avoid Dodge, unless it’s already had the obligatory transmission rebuild, and you happen to also have a donor vehicle. Older Dodges are very expensive to maintain.

        My very handsome and hardworking truck 😀

        1. That is a beauty. I had a 1986 F-350 dually like yours with the 6.9 diesel in it as my around-town car in AZ for several years. Sadly, it was stolen by the condo association towing scam and sold on to some other guy. I actually found it for sale on the Phoenix Craig’s List a couple years later, but I let it go. 😦

          1. ’85 F150. Creeping up on the two million mile mark. 352 windsor is relatively cheap on gas for an 8. Still going strong.

            I also have a teeny little zippy car for fun rides. But it’s no where near as old or as many miles. Say what you will about old Fords, but if you maintain ’em right, they’ll keep on going.

            1. TWO MILLION, holy crap, gotta be comin’ up on a record there. Do you commute to Argentina or what? 🙂 I remember when it was a big deal when a mail carrier on the High Line hit 1.2M miles in his 1960-something IH, suddenly that seems trivial… But yep, Ford trucks will pretty much keep chugging along so long as you even halfway take care of ’em, and in that era, tons of interchangeable parts available for cheap.

              Only reason I’m on the lookout for a smaller truckish thing is to cover what the F350 can’t… suspension is so stiff that it wants to go sideways off gravel roads (the upside is a comical lack of sag under load) nixing my fave hobby of backroad exploring; it’s not a 4×4 and tho it’s good on ice, chaining up the dual wheels for deep snow is more’n your life is worth; and we shall not discuss parking in town….

              1. Towed a trailer coast to coast about four times I know of before I owned it. This was back when they went New York to California to Washington state then Florida by way of Texas type of “coast to coast.” Toured Canada. Visited Alaska some time later. Regular visits to relatives in other states. Toured with a bluegrass band for a decade or so.

                Was at one time a retirement vehicle for my grandparents. I’ve only put about 400,000 (maybe half a million, may have missed an odometer reset in there the oncet) on it myself, so the others happened while my grandparents were still alive. Engine been replaced once, rebuilt twice. Drivetrain twice. Towing upgrades and such happened a time or two.

                While I was doing my regular route it wasn’t a big thing to rack up nearly 70,000 miles in a year (some years went farther). Oil change every 5,000 miles and regular tune ups. The frame, the hood, the cab, and the dash are all original, as are some suspension and the wheels. Bedsides are getting rusty again, so that’ll be another bodyshop job.

                Yeah, deep snow is a trip in a two wheel drive pickup. I used to have an old, nigh useless smallblock I’d set over the axles to add a bit of weight back when. Front wheel drive is easy mode. *grin* As to the last, “in town” means different things depending on the town. Shiny little BMWs fear the steel box on wheels and tend not to park so close at the grocery store. But I’d rather not negotiate parking in Atlanta, that’s for sure.

            2. I’d also consider Rangers. My longbed ’84 used a couple of 2 x 4s (set in bed pockets) to carry 4 x 8 sheets. Never tried such in my wife’s ’98 extra cab (room for two midgets (or very flexible people) in back).

              Still, I’d pass on early Rangers, but ’98 (or so) onward to the end is good.. The 2.8L V6 was based on the Capri 2.6L, but Ford had trouble with heat killing things in the 2.8 and 2.9s. Fixed in the 4.0L engines. I’m pretty sure those came out in the ’98 model, and those are real cockroaches. AFAIK, there were few substantial changes from the ’98 to the end in ’11, and it’s reasonably reliable. I’m now seeing more F150s (strangely coincidental with the election of the Bad Orange Man), but older Rangers are still common. Depends on just how much you need to carry big stuff and/or a lot of people.

              I love my Honda Ridgeline, but doubt they’ve hit an affordable price as used ones.

              1. Agree on the ’98 on Rangers in 4.0L. My old boss drove one of those like a bat out of hell in all weather, never managed to break the thing. Rusted out as heck but took a beating like nothing else.

                I’ve seen more F series in the last three years as well. At first I thought it was just my imagination, but then several truck fleets swapped over to Fords and they got everywhere after that.

                Of course there *was* the rumor of a contest that would fill the bed with your choice of .308 or 7.62 if you won with purchase of a new truck, but I’m sure that *never* happened (any Ford execs ignore this. Lies. All lies!). *grin*

                1. I prefer smaller trucks unless I need to tow big stuff. Mine is a ’98 Nissan 4×4 King Kab, 6 foot bed with a Leer fiberglass top (I got a rack on it for long lumber etc) motored by the stone ax 2.4l 4cyl gutless gas hog (it once got 22mpg . . . once) Not well known for rust resistence, but not as bad as on old Chevy/GMC or a Dodge, but I under coat it every other fall with a mix of Boiled Linseed oil, a lanolin based undercoat, peanut oil, a bit of sump oil, and diesel (dries to a waxy coating) and it has about 175.000 on it. I replaced a few seals, belts, hoses, EGR, front CV shafts and bearings, as well as the power steering pump and hoses, last fall, and it eats catylist matrixes (on its 4th cat). It also suffers from being made in Tennessee, and they used the same company that made dash panels for GM that are known to go bad. It went bad, and the company is dead. No replacements (and they listed for $1000 to $2000!) So, I’m not positive mine has that mileage on it, I guessed . If the gas gauge had still worked I’d ignored it, it was still charging (yeah, the effin charge circuit goes through the printed circuit dash), but found a guy in Canada that fixes them for $200US. Wasn’t my fist pick for a small p/u, but it’s what I got.
                  Of course, when I bought it I was-
                  A: in need of a truck
                  B: too poor to afford a Toyota
                  C: living in Louisiana and moving to DFW Texas so road salt wasn’t a concern
                  D: no Rangers available in decent enough pricing, or in good enough shape (I can rebuild the 4 cyl Ford in my sleep by now)

                  I got it for 2/3 the price of a similar shape 2wd Toyota (about half a 4×4), and it only had 60,000 miles in early ’04 when I got it. Now that I’m back up here in the U.P. I am damned glad all they had was the 4×4. Menominee doesn’t clear the roads well, and even Marinette just worries about the intersections at first, so having it in 4HI is far more common than when it was down south. Sounds like I’ll need it again this week, We are to get close to 12 inches of snow this coming Tuesday or Wednesday.

                  1. $200 is what I had to pay for my Chevy instrument repair in Jan 2015. The place I used was in Salt Lake City or close to it. I had to pay to ship it there, but my $189-ish got it fixed and shipped back to me.

                    1. I paid to get mine to a PO Box in North Dakota near the border (I tried to find the PDF for the repairs but couldn’t). iirc the bill receipt was for $259 Canukistani Kopecks to make the $200 USD, This guy was one of three that seemed to be the best, and was the fastest at turn around. There were several cheaper but shipping was both ways, and the only one who seemed to be decent at it was booked pretty far out so I’d not have a vehicle for a couple of months (this might have been your place) As I was doing house work, that would have been a pain (16 foot lumber fits poorly on a motorcycle), and really it was only a few dollars cheaper. The other place that seemed any good was $250 (this was 2017) plus shipping both ways.

                    2. I was lucky. The cluster failed Dec 26th, and I researched and got it to the outfit a few days later. Got it back maybe 10 days later, so the truck wasn’t out of order all that long. OTOH, there were several outfits doing that job at the time, so I was able to pick one fairly close by.

                      One of the big-rig tractor manufacturers was having a similar problem at that time, too. That Euro-spec tin-silver solder was a huge pain in the ass. (GE appliances also got hit.)

          2. Wow, that’s quite the dreadful way to lose your truck… First one I drove when I started looking for a tow rig was an ’86 F250, — This’un is gas (was looking for diesel, but couldn’t find one in spec otherwise that hadn’t been rode hard and put away wet) … was told by my insurance dude that this model was the #1 stolen vehicle in SoCal, cuz they like ’em across the border, and to definitely never leave it unattended down in L.A.

          1. Nope, I don’t drive much anymore (tho if gas and tired weren’t so expensive, I’d drive as my major recreation! and I *love* driving this truck.) I’m its 7th owner, per Carfax. Until me, it had always been a commercial truck, so no commuter miles. Original owner was a film studio. Funny story about that… I was getting gas in Three Forks, Middle of Nowhere, Montana… guy at the next pump looks over and says, “I’ll bet you bought that truck in California.” I allowed as how that was so, and he said, “I built that rack.” And explained that’s why it’s oddly high — to clear camera equipment.

            1. Ha! The people you meet, eh?

              I was in the Glamis Beach Store in the middle of the Imperial Sand Dunes in California, and the lady at the cash register was from a little one-cow town just outside Marshall Minnesota where I was living at the time.

              Really makes you want to behave yourself in public, doesn’t it? ~:D

              1. Heh… I just met someone at the Billings MT Costco who was a neighbor when I lived in Santa Clarita CA. We didn’t know each other, but lived fairly close together at about the same time (like, just off the same little side road). — All right, who washed the world on HOT ??

      2. New front end alignment???

        I haven’t done anything mechanical to a vehicle since I sold the F-150 to the junkyard. (With 360,000 plus miles on the odometer, I wasn’t fixing the transmission again.) I replaced the serpentine belt on the truck and one pulley and, I think, an alternator and some spark plugs. And yes, you could get your hands on the stuff. Being rear wheel drive, there was room under the hood.

        And I can’t picture going through all that for a starter. It must be like replacing the microphone on a MacBook or the LCD screen, given the relative functionality.

        1. My sister had a 79 Honda hatchback. How to replace the front shocks: first, remove the engine…

          1. The water pumps on say an 80 Prelude were much the same, but doing so once you knew, was a few minutes work. Not everything had to be removed, just moved enough to get to things. Honda got better. My 90 Accord was easier to work on than the 80’s models.

            1. And then there’s the computerized crap… when I’d go to my mechanic in Palmdale, my ’78 F100 was by far the elder statesman, and the only purely mechanical vehicle in sight. In every other bay was some newish car hooked to the diagnostic computer, trying to figure out what ailed it (he said sometimes they’d be hooked up for 8 hours, all of it billable time, and STILL couldn’t find the problem, or worse it would spit up the WRONG problem). Meanwhile, I’d point at the obviously leaking or broken thing on my truck, say, “Fix that” and no diagnostics required.

              1. Waybackwhen I was a salesman, one of the mechanics at one of my customer, was brilliant at finding those oddball issues. The GM dealer he once worked for would send cars to his current shop for him to diagnose. Loose ground studs were a good one for intermittent problems that would toss random codes that made no sense and replacing stuff never fixed.
                A buddy of mine got out of being a mechanic when looking at the Mazda Millennia. Had a sensor that turned the fans on to help keep the car cooled in sunny parking, with power coming from the sunroof via a solar charging set up “How the hell am I supposed to fix that?!” so he went to work for a while on vintage stuff, then as a service writer/manager for dealers. “Let someone else pull and replace.”
                In the late 90’s, I had a 73 Dodge Colt GT and until I got fed up looking for a decent voltage regulator, the only solid state thing in it original was the AM radio.
                I wedged a Blaupunkt into the console so I didn’t need to yank the factory radio, then after the reg went 3 times in a row, I upgraded to a later Mitsubishi alternator that was a two wire.
                Wish I still had that car. Been tempted to get another Colt. A 71 recently sold on Bring A Trailer for $4000. I’d take anything,’69-8x rear drive 2door, 4door, Wagon, though the later models would likely get modded a goodly bit.

      3. Yup to change the right fricking headlight in my 2007 yo had to remove the BATTERY to get clearance. I said the heck with that and paid to get it done. Its a shame modern car headlights are better than the old sealed beam I grew up with in the 70’s and 80’s cars, but the highly sloped hoods and tight quarters from improved coefficient of drag (for .5 mpg improvement) makes under the hood a cross bentween oragami and jenga.

      4. And has been that way a while. 1985 Chevette: to change the fuel filter required jacking the engine out of the car.

        Seriously???? A filter?

        1. Gm has lots of things like that, but they are not alone.
          Tried replacing the head lamp bulbs on a G6. Requires removing the headlight housings from the car. Not something you can easily do in a rush in a parking lot. It is lego-style and I wonder what happens if you have to do it in freezing temps when the plastic is brittle. Hammering it back in is fun as well.
          Dodge hid the battery for the LH bodies behind the front wheel. Replacing the battery is: Jack car up, remove wheel, remove in fender, remove battery mount, remove cables, wrestle battery out of hole, reverse process.
          Neons needed the radiator removed to get the starter out, and be careful you don’t hole the ac condenser.

          My Nissan 4×4 has a new clutch and flywheel sitting in the porch waiting for the original to start slipping. after 167,000 miles and started and still often judders, making it look like I never really learned to drive a standard, so I bought a full Luk kit for it. Was going to install it one day (well two, but I used to do a clutch in a day easy, figured this would be a bit more and I’m older, but air tools!) and learned it requires removing the front torsion arms and whatnot to drop the trans. I figure I might either yank the motor when I have to do it due to slipping, or be to the point I’ll have to pay someone to do it.

    3. meanwhile, I say for them to look at subaru outbacks. with reasonable maintenance, they last >200k miles, and 300k miles is common.

      1. Outback is nice for the drive train, if I was building a desert race car I’d go with a four cylinder Subaru with a turbo. Nice and light, good power, super cheap to maintain.

        But for driving down the highway, I want the truck. There’s no replacement for sheer size and mass. The F-150 is the immense Buick station wagon of today.

          1. Yep. Rented one, drove the hell out of it. It is a very small car compared to an F150 pickup truck.

            Lots of guys love their little cars, but I love my monster F-250. I fixed people busted up in car accidents for a living, and I saw some things during that time let me tell you. I want all the mass and metal around me I can get.

            The F-250 is huge, expensive on fuel, hard to park and moves through the city like a ponderous elephant surrounded by race horses. And like an elephant, it’ll take a hit from a skinny-ass race horse.

            I built a VW-based desert race car too. I know all the places where the Subaru is head and shoulders superior, mainly power and maintenance. The one thing the VW has going for it is simplicity. Air cooling means there’s no hoses and radiators to break 50 miles from the nearest water. And the desert hates hoses. You can lose brakes, steering, clutch, tires, frame, suspension, pretty near anything can break and that VW will still get you home. You lose a rad hose and you’re f-ed.

            1. Regarding accidents, my old Ford was the victim of a heinous assault about ten years back. Four car pileup (and one truck).

              One little import failed to apply the brake in time and managed to plow into the back of a late model civic. Crushed like a pop can. Driver survived, but had to be cut out of his former ride. Car in front of that, another Honda, had the trunk about even with the C pillar and the hood reduced in length by about a third. In front of *that* was an Impala. Crumple zones worked, driver was actually able to exit the car under his own power. Hood peeled back and bumper trashed in front, back dished in pretty good.

              And a quarter sized dent in the steel bumper of my truck. Just scooted forward a few feet was all. Didn’t even bend the exhaust.

              It doesn’t have airbags in seventeen places, crumple zones, plastic bumpers, anti-lock brakes or any such thing. It just starts when you turn the key, stops when you push the brakes, and goes when you hit the gas (steering has a bit of a dead spot in the middle, but that’s old trucks for you).

              Probably not the vehicle for a more modern driver. Used to driver aids and such. Suits my down to my boots though. Many’s the time I’ve pulled another vehicle out of a ditch, or given some poor soul a ride to the gas station (before cell phones were as ubiquitous) when their fancy new ride gave up on them. Helped folks move, hauled everything from pigs to home furnishings. Can’t beat a good truck, for the right sort of person.

              Other folks have other opinions. That’s a fine thing indeed. Don’t look down on anybody who drives a Prius. I saw one the other day with a bumper sticker I enjoyed. Said something very like, “Laugh it up. I’m using the money I save on gas to buy more scary black guns.” Buddy of mine drives some little Euro econobox that probably gets eighty miles to the gallon or something. Probably be fueling them with air and sunshine before long, to hear some folks tell it.

              When folks like that need some work done, to move, to move a fridge or a bed, or suchlike, well, that takes a truck, though. *grin*

              1. LOL on the bumper sticker 😀

                Yeah, one day I was stopped at a corner and first I realised my truck had been rear-ended by some micro-shoebox was the panicked face at my window. Er, no, actually I didn’t notice; why is your bumper stove in??

                Lots of folks pooh-pooh folks who drive trucks, but once you’ve set up high and can SEE around you that well, and had the feel of solid power under you that no car can match, it’s really hard to go back to driving at dirt level inside a shoebox. Not to mention the cargo space.

                And my F350 will do 0-60 under 7 seconds, which a whole lot of little cars can’t match. And it’ll panic-stop 10,000 pounds in just over its own length, as I discovered when some jerk in Boise tried to get himself T-boned, and me towing the stock trailer… good thing it was a 25mph zone or he’da been a grease spot.

                1. “Yeah, one day I was stopped at a corner and first I realised my truck had been rear-ended by some micro-shoebox was the panicked face at my window. Er, no, actually I didn’t notice; why is your bumper stove in??”


                  ’82 Chevy k1500 4×4 single cab, automatic, long box. ’87 downtown Eugene headed home in 5 PM bail traffic, which meant essentially riding the brakes from the time I merged onto the one way street because traffic crawling at about 10 MPH, vs posted speed of 25 MPH, & truck didn’t have a no-go if foot not on petal, so slow speeds it was ride the breaks. All of a sudden the back of the truck acted like it had hit a pot hole in the back, only it went up, then down. Kind of hard to run over something in the back with out the front running over it first. Had canopy on truck so hard to see out back through rear view mirror. Couldn’t see anything on the side mirrors. So full stop. Turned on blinkers & climbed out to see what the heck. Turns out even if I could have seen out the back, would have barely seen top of the white corvette whose hood had been (clearly) jammed under the truck. Got accused of “stopping” suddenly by the occupants. Driver behind them just laughed at them. 1) Not responsible for what is behind me when driving forward. 2) Had been riding breaks for the last 4 blocks. Corvette left some tattle tale white paint on the heavy duty hitch portion, other than that, nada, not even a dent, or bend. Gas mileage with that truck was about 8 MPG, towing or not. But when you asked it for power, it was “yes, ma’am! Is this enough?” response.

                  1. Yep, one more reason to love a real truck. 😀

                    My F350 (7.5l gas engine, 6000 pounds empty) maxes out at 14mpg, tho around town gets more like 10. Worst ever was towing 10,000 pounds of trailer over multiple mountain passes — about 8mpg that trip. If yer towin’ L.A. to Boise, do NOT take Hwy 6 out of Bishop. Take the back road from Lee Vining to Hawthorne NV. Trust me on this.

                    Okay, I didn’t actually tow =all= of L.A. to Boise, but that long slope up Hwy 6 sure felt like it. Only time I’ve ever gotten this engine warm enough to notice.

              2. But a Ford Flex seats seven and it doesn’t rain on the groceries if the family is all in the car. You have to cut a sheet of plywood in half to get it in the back seat and the ground clearance is less than an Explorer. And I get 19+ mpg running to work and taking the kids to school in the morning; on long trips better.

                1. All good points, especially when hauling family. I’m single, so the single cab leaves me room for groceries in the passenger seat. *grin*

            2. most people really don’t need giant trucks. Any truck that has a step to get into it is too much more than most people need.

              1. $SPOUSE$ is barely five and a half feet – and hates anything that she doesn’t have to climb up into.

                Back when some Russian army people were having their unofficial fire sales, we used to joke about getting a T-80. She was fine with that – so long as I drove and she was up in the command hatch looking down at everything.

                1. Sounds like my mother. Five-two and wants to drive anything that is as much bigger than anything else on the road as she is smaller. *chuckle*

          2. I *sat* in a 2016 Outback, and bought a 16 Forester. Headroom is curiously missing, and the Forester lets you load it up like the Joad family when necessary. Just did such today for a Costco run.

            FWIW, the ’12 has a flat back when the seats are down, but the 16 has a ramp. Mildly annoying, but the CV transmission and the Eyesight (and advanced cruise control) make the latter one my favorite Subie.

            A friend from church had to replace the sparkplugs on his Subie. Only 350K miles on the plugs. 🙂

            1. My darling husband, who is not very familair with Subies, informed me that we had better start looking at a replacement car, as we were closing in on 200K on the Subie. He was puzzled when I laughed.

    4. I liked my ’97 F-150, most of the time, but it wasn’t good on gas. Note well the year; later models have to be better. Also, when the last president had his cash for clunkers, the F-150 was the most popular replacement vehicle. I got it for a song; well, the income tax refund check anyway. And I missed the 8-foot bed; it was good for plywood and watching fireworks.

        1. This is what used trucks are for…. let someone else eat the depreciation. ALL vehicles run on used parts. Bought mine off Craigslist, couldn’t be happier with it.

          So what one caught your eye (and tried to drag it down the street) ??

          1. We were looking at used. We never buy new. I’m a writer, he’s a mathematician. We ain’t made of money.
            I’ll have to ask Dan. It’s in the notes. We drove so many cars….
            But it was 38k USED with decent mileage. We can’t afford that.

  4. “Take a good look, boys. They aren’t fielding women like me because we women are so much stronger or tougher than you are. They are fielding us because we don’t turn into that.

    “Yeah, you’ll keep your mind, which is why they are here — they want to get them like nothing else in the world — but in their down time, they have no notion of what they will do once they get revenge.”

  5. >> “I’ve NO idea what those creatures are (I’m tragically D & D lore impaired)”

    Assuming those are D&D-inspired, my guess would be goblins.

  6. Sympathies on having the car go out on you. It’s always something.

    I just had one of my computers go out on me — one that runs some legacy software that supports an old handheld and an old scanner. It was working when I shut it down and moved it into another room so we could clear my office to be worked on. When I set it up last night, it wouldn’t start. Not just wouldn’t boot up, wouldn’t even turn on. Pushed the power button and nothing happened. If we’re lucky, it’s just the PRAM battery, which is easy to replace. Just a trip up to Fry’s to snag one, then put it in. Next step is going to be replacing the power supply, which means buying one on eBay. If that doesn’t work, I may be down to swapping the motherboard from the other machine of that generation and seeing if that will work. Last recourse is going to be trying to find another machine on eBay and swapping out the hard drive.

    An the old ones are expensive. Apparently everybody thinks that their being old makes them collectable, and charge accordingly.

    1. I have a large collection of Socket 7 through a bit beyond 440BX … I call it my retirement fund 😀 They started getting pricey when retro-gaming became a thing. What exactly is your old one? I might have something to fit… IDE HDs can be dealt with via adapters, but ISA slots are typically the problem that can’t be worked around. FIC makes an i7 board with ISA slots… will probably buy one when the iBase MB800 finally kicks off, but even direct they’re $300. And no, my Tyan boards are not for sale. 😀

      If you need an AT power supply, TOPower still makes ’em, and they’re GOOD.
      Dunno about now but they used to sell direct (and repair their own) at a discount.

      I’ve had a TOP-300SS-CE (killed at age 15 by a lightning strike that fried through 2 layers of protection) and a TOP-400SS-CE (identical plus more capacity). Much heavier-duty than any other AT PSU you’ll ever find. The 400W cost me something like $60 in 2010, brand new. Mine were in my everyday box, running redlined 24/7/365, with zero problems. [Weight is a good quick way to evaluate PSUs. My TOP-400SS-CE weighs a bit over 5 pounds. Your average cheapie weighs as little as 12oz, and dies proportionately sooner.]

    2. Don’t yell at me, I suggest checking to see if the wall-socket is live before you do anything.

      After that, check all the cables including the power cable. Check it first.

      Because if something that was working dies so dead the fan doesn’t even come on, 90% it is the cables. 9% some dust bunny in a connection, 1% it popped a capacitor or something -right- when you moved it. Most unlikely.

      1. I vote for dust bunny somewhere, but not necessarily in a connection. I had a hair cause a computer to not boot one time because it was touching the underside of the motherboard.

      2. Yeah, with the really old PCs, it’s typically something loose or shorted; if they’ve made it this long, they’re unlikely to just die. Tho I’ve noticed the late 90s Socket7 are now starting to get their own version of the Capacitor Plague, just from old age. Had several come up dead last time I uncovered another boxful and set to testing ’em. Also, older AMD boards and CPUs will often Just Die For No Reason (or get stupid about voltage regulation and cook themselves). Intels almost never do that.

        When you’ve got a bad trace somewhere, sometimes it’ll be fine so long as it’s powered on 24/7, but power off and let it cool and then you’re SOL.

        Dead CMOS battery shouldn’t prevent it from starting, tho … it’s only used to retain settings; normal when it’s dead is to just reset to defaults every time it’s powered off. Since my systems run 24/7, I seldom bother replacing ’em unless I already have it dysmangled for some other reason.

        1. A dead PRAM battery preventing starting is a known problem with a number of different older Macs. So replacing it is usually the first response when a Mac just ceases to start and the outlet, cords, etc are known good, especially if the PRAM battery has been in it for some time or the computer has been unplugged for an extended period of time.

          1. My understanding is that’s a common way to not-start a Dell. The business models have power supplies with a self-test, but not the Inspiron consumer grade.

          2. Ah. I don’t do Macs if I can avoid it (well, technically I own a G4, and a Hackintosh) but leave it to Apple to break something no one else does… when I have to stick my hands in Apple hardware, I remember to swear first, it saves time. 😛

        2. Perhaps the electrolytic caps in a 1990 machine might be getting leaky as they approach final failure 30 years is a LONG time for one of those. The other thing that was causing nightmares in Milspec stuff was tin whiskers. The old tin/lead/silver solder will grow very fine tin crystals. These can short together legs of IC’s or pin grid array chips. Tin comes out of solder in the 2000’s

        3. No, but if the CMOS gets corrupted the motherboard can do a pretty good “I’m stone dead” imitation. CPU fan spins up, spins down, some blinky lights flash, and then it just sits there. I’ve rescued a couple of “dead” motherboards by leaving the reset shorting plug on for a while.

      3. Checking that I had power was the first thing I did. I’ve also swapped cables, no dice. I don’t see any obvious dust in any electrical connections, although I suppose i could go through with the can of air. However, this is a G4 machine from around 2002, so the power supply is a likely candidate, considering that it had been acting flaky. It would spontaneously shut off now and then. I’d zapped the PRAM and it seemed to correct the problem, but evidently I was wrong.

        1. Yeah, that sounds like power supply all right. — I’d have to check the pinouts, but the PSU in my G4 looks like bog-standard ATX, and uses a wholly standard ATX connector. In fact, everything else in there IS a standard off-the-shelf PC component, with the sole exceptions of motherboard and CPU. I’ve swapped out everything else:

          …borrowed the vidcard for some PC, gave it back another of same model but unknown source; traded the gawdawful slow HD for an SSD and the worthless DVD-RAM for a proper DVD-RW so it can read burned disks (not supposed to support a real DVD-RW, but a LiteOn and a different cable fooled it into working). And it cheerfully accepted 1GB of standard PC100 SDRAM, taken from a retired PC, improved its personality 100%. Standard USB PC keyboard and mouse work fine too.

          I’m not sure why I bothered, other than a fetish for maxing out old hardware. Been too cheap to cough up for the CPU upgrade, tho.

        2. I believe what I have sitting in a closet is a g4 Mac, I’m unsure what it would cost to ship it out of Florida to wherever you are, but it’s doing me no good here. at big G dot com if you want me to dig the thing out.

        3. I’ve got two G4s taking up space; I was going to play A-10 on the older one, but I haven’t gotten it to boot. Older one is Gigabit ethernet (400 MHz); the newer one is Mirror Drive Doors (1.4 or so GHz). Older one boots OS 9 to 10.4 (I think); faster one won’t boot OS 9. Let me know if I can pull the power supply from one or ship the unit to you: at quixnet dot net.

    3. I feel the pain. (Got that t-shirt)

      My 2012 Inspiron had been powered up continually for several years. When I got a used Dell 990 (4 cores, 16G ram and 1T disc, vs 2 cores, 6G and 500 Gb), I left it off for a week before taking it out to the barn. At which point, it refused to come on. Put a new battery in for the CMOS Ram, but no luck. Said fuggitol and got a machine similar to the 990. It has a 2T drive, but the machine is staying in the shop/barn because a bit of the grill vibrates when it’s on. I don’t need the extra speed and chasing down the vibration isn’t a priority.

      FWIW, each of the boxes was about $220. One came with Win 7, the other with Win 10. Both are running Slackware Linux now.

      What vintage do you need?

      I still have my Y2K vintage Sony Vaio (Pentium 4, Via chipset, 500 Mb RAM, about 400G drive space). It always got powered down when I wasn’t using it, and I was planning on putting in a new CMOS battery. I can’t eat the cost to ship it, but if you want it and would pay shipping and packing (our drop handles UPS, FedEx and USPS), it could work. I’d either do a diskectomy or wipe the drives. (One 80G, close to original vintage, the other 320G, unknown vintage.) It has a read-only DVD drive and a read-write CD. Had to swap out the DVD; cold temperatures and DVD drives don’t mix. Medium sized tower, some ISA slots and some PCI. Might be a modem card in there, too. 🙂

      If this could work, let me know.

      1. Thanks but no. I’m looking for a PowerMac G4, since I’d be able to just pull the HD’s and put them in the replacement machine. I’m looking at a few on eBay, and I’ve discovered a couple more things I can try to revive the existing one (although it’s probably only a matter of time now before it dies the final death, even if I can revive it). I’ve also got a watch on a place that rebuilds power supplies good as new, which may be another alternative.

        1. Ah, Old Mac syndrome. I have a MIDI interface that worked with a Mac Classic II, until the C2 died of capacitorial plague. And, the sequences I’d done died along with it.

          1. Fortunately, I don’t have any irreplaceable data on that machine, and I do have some fallbacks if I can’t get another G4 tower to move the hard drives into. But it’s definitely dead — all my efforts to revive it have failed, including the CUDO and power button trick and pulling the RAM and reseating it. So I’m going to be looking around the second-hand market and seeing what’s possible.

            1. If what you’re needing to use will work with early OSX…. you can Hackintosh a Dell Optiplex of the 7000-9000 series with no hoop jumping at all, and they’re common and cheap/free as business discards. I installed Niresh’s edition of Mountain Lion (ie. whatever version was handy) on a 9010, and everything but the NIC worked right out of the box.

  7. Yeah, Vilia’s definitely rolling her eyes.

    Now how’s she going to feel when [male stereotype of preference] ducks down the alley with [fill in pursuit of choice] hot on his heels just as . . .

    Xyzv gets a message that the ship’s fuel tank has sprung a leak and they’re going to pop out to the Oort cloud so fuel will be close to hand when they find and fix the leak, back in ten days, max. Promise.

  8. Question I don’t really have the spoons to ask elsewhere: What are the odds?

    I’ve been following corona virus some, various places. Convinced myself that the PRC numbers probably cannot be trusted in any way.

    Now we have some infections outside of China to gather data from. So we have samples we might be able to trust, and can estimate population parameters from. Some of the models from those are interpreted as indicating that a) everyone will get the disease b) current lethalities with good and bad medical support would be a little bad over the whole world population. So, there are obvious questions about uncertainties, and what kinds of distributions are involved, but that isn’t my key interest.

    What about the mutation rate in the disease as it spreads? Infecting the whole world is a lot of replications, and it would seem that non-zero mutations are likely. Obviously, without knowing more about the virus, and perhaps about viruses, we can’t build a perfect model of likelihood of weakening mutations, versus likelihood of strengthening mutations.

    My intuition is that there is a good chance that there is or will be a mutation that makes it spread better but less lethal, and we won’t see max fatalities. If this is so, it would be safe enough for me to concentrate on my own business right now.

    I’ve been producing enough nutty thinking lately that I am inclined to distrust this. What say ye all?

  9. I’m getting ready to reach the final phase of this first (BEEP)-ing book. Get a cover done. Do the last editing pass, print out fliers, do the KDP formatting, and get KDP running.

  10. About two months back, my folks drove 2 hours to the nearest “big” town to shop at costco.

    My mom being her usual “quiet” self (grew up with half her family deaf, she’s half deaf, and they’re very Irish) and chatting with a salesman, when she hears someone walk up and say “(NAME)! I knew it was you!”

    It was my dad’s first cousin’s granddaughter, who’d married an Air Force guy and happened to be stationed in that town.
    Kicker, hadn’t seen my mom in 15 years, and they were both at least a thousand miles from where they “should” be, still recognized her. 😀
    Another time, my math teacher and her husband pulled into a little place in southern Nevada, struck up a conversation with the Indian setting next to them, the gal mentioned how much he reminded her of a student, (my bother’s really odd name)…. it was the cousin that my brother went to school with until we moved to Washington. Also about two thousand miles from where we last saw him.

    There’s also the time I got seated on a plane to Japan… next to my mom’s third cousin. (figured it out later, after we both went “you know? Don’t need to know how closely related, that’s trouble.) Who was heading over to be a chief in my future husband’s department.

    I think folks don’t realize how many connections they walk right past because they don’t talk enough.

    1. Chuckle Chuckle

      A few years back before Mom had to go into the Nursing Home, her & I went to one of these big charity pancake day things here in Danville, IL.

      This woman (around my age) came up and spoke to Mom.

      She was one of Mom’s students from the Tilton Illinois school (very near Danville) where Mom had taught sometime in the 1960’s.

      For various reasons, Mom didn’t recognize her but she sure did remember Mom. 😀

      1. As my mom pointed out– a kid that has 25 teachers the entire time he’s in school has had a lot of teachers.

        A teacher that only has 25 kids a year doesn’t have very many students…..

        1. Plus, in this case the woman had Mom in Fourth Grade.

          There’s plenty of differences between a Fourth Grader and the adult she became.

          Of course, while Mom was obviously older than she was when she taught the “girl”, Mom had aged well. 😀

      2. My mom runs into her former 4th grade students all the time. Most of them recognize her voice first. 😎

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