Second Thoughts

Posted: 28th March 2018 by Cheap in Cuisine, Television, Uncategorized, Woodworking
  • I’m already having second thoughts about buying the Canon C200. For one thing, I’ve been reading the manual and doing online research, and there are tons of exceptions and weird things the camera won’t do. For example, it records 4K, but it won’t output 4K on the SDI port. It supports free run time code, but there’s no word from Canon about whether it will stay in sync, and the word on the street seems to be no (though it’s a general belief rather than specific knowledge about this camera). The color output isn’t intended to be used without modification, and it’s a whole new level of complication. For another thing, if I buy the camera, there are a bunch of additional things I’ll have to spend money on: expensive batteries and memory cards, and a wider zoom lens, not to mention a production monitor. There’s also the fact that I’ve really been enjoying sound, and if I buy a camera, I’ll feel like I’ve wasted my money if I don’t shoot a bunch of films with it.
  • Wow.  Talk about forgettable characters.  I was just watching an interview with Jeri Ryan, talking about her character Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Voyager, and she mentioned Chakotay.  I had totally forgotten about him.  Looking at the IMDb page, there are several characters I had forgotten about.  Oddly, when I think about Voyager, I really only think about Janeway, Seven, and Tuvok.  And I didn’t even like Tuvok.  Somehow I completely failed to have an emotional connection with any of the other characters, and less than four years later, I didn’t even remember they existed.
  • The season finale of Star Trek: Discovery was thoroughly anti-climactic, not to mention logically implausible.  It was also entirely too soon.  Sixteen episodes.  Only six since the mid-season break.  I feel like I’m not getting my money’s worth for my CBS All Access subscription.  The show needs to get better writers, too.  There are at least five recurring characters on the bridge that no one has bothered to even introduce to us, but Harry Mudd got two whole episodes devoted to him.  I fully appreciate most of the updates they’ve made to the show, but they’re also letting me down in several other ways.  Part of me wishes there won’t be another season.
  • I watched the full first season of Mindhunter, which was pretty good.  As usual, one season didn’t feel like enough, but evidently there’s another one coming.
  • I have developed an addiction to Festool products.  It started with a track saw, which I am very happy with.  Then because Festool uses proprietary connections for their dust extraction system, I started looking for adapters, which led me to learn how amazingly effective Festool products are at handling dust.  So I relented and bought one of their dust extractors.  Of course, then I wanted more tools to use that with.  I had already been eyeing one of Festool’s routers because they can be used with the guide track that came with the track saw, so I got one of those.  And then today, I had some sanding to do, so I went out and got one of their sanders.  The salesman at the store told me to expect the dust collection with the sander to be 97% or 98% effective, and he wasn’t exaggerating.  And the Systainers seem a little silly, especially at the price they charge for them, but they’re actually really useful.  At this point, I’m prepared to believe any claim that Festool cares to make about their products.  I’ll probably get one or two more of their sanders, and then I need to try to cut myself off.
  • I love Smucker’s Mixed Fruit Jelly.  I first encountered it at a restaurant in one of those single-serving packages while I was traveling somewhere.  I was thrilled to discover it later in jars, not at my regular grocery store, but at others.  I bought some now and then for years, and then it disappeared from shelves.  I searched on Amazon, and they had it, but for an unreasonably high price.  I concluded that it had been discontinued.  This was perhaps a year ago.  The other day, I was whining about this fact to a friend of mine, and to illustrate my point, I did a google search.  Boom.  There it was on a Smucker’s online store.  I thought maybe it had come back, but I checked the stores, and it’s still not there.  So I ordered a few jars today.  And, uh, I ordered some Smucker’s Mixed Fruit socks for my friend while I was there.
  • Speaking of silly food purchases, Amazon threw an ad on Facebook for a Johnsonville Sizzling Sausage Grill.  My brother eats a lot of brats, but he doesn’t grill them.  It has been a challenging search for him to find good ways to cook them.  They sputter way too much to broil them in the oven, for example.  So I ordered this thing for him, and it arrived today.  It’s actually pretty well designed.  A package of brats cooked in eleven minutes, tender and juicy on the inside, nicely caramelized on the outside.  I guess we’ll see how difficult it is to clean.

Festool TS 55 REQ Track Saw

Posted: 23rd March 2018 by Cheap in Woodworking
Tags: ,

When I chose a table saw, I considered getting one with a 48″ fence – a fence that could accommodate a 48″ wide work piece.  Thus I’d be able to do just about anything with 48″ wide sheet stock on my table saw.  There were practical reasons I decided to get a smaller table saw, and most of the time I am glad I made the choice that I did.  However, there are times I’ve regretted, and it’s always when I’m working with plywood.

To make cuts with plywood that exceed the width of my table saw fence, I have mostly used a circular saw with some kind of guide.  There are problems with this approach.  For one thing, precision is limited, especially when it comes to squareness.  There’s also an extra bit of math involved, compensating for the distance between the blade and the guide, which is one more opportunity for mistakes.  However, the worst problem is the quality of the cuts.  The cuts are much rougher than my table saw.  The circular saw is a little prone to binding and burning.  And of course the circular saw tends to chip and splinter the work piece rather badly, especially with birch plywood.  Scoring the work piece before making the cut is absolutely mandatory, especially when cutting across the grain of the outer veneer of plywood, but even that is frequently not enough.  And in any case, it leaves an edge that isn’t ideal.

I discovered track saws through an online advertisement for DeWalt’s track saw.  I could see right away the simplicity of using a track, but I didn’t realize what the other advantages were over the circular saw.  It just seemed like an expensive, special-purpose circular saw.  I didn’t think I’d want one.  Then I did another project with plywood.  The plywood I used splintered worse than usual, and I had real problems with pieces being out-of-square.  I was rather frustrated, and as a result, I looked at track saws again.  This time I read some reviews, and the subject of splintering was discussed.  They seemed to be implying that splintering was virtually eliminated with the better track saws, and described results that were even better than I was getting on my table saw.

I chose the Festool TS 55 REQ, mainly because of this review at Woodworker’s Journal.  I got it with the 55″ track, and I also bought the GRS-16 Guide Rail Square from TSO Products, and a pair of Festool’s quick ratcheting clamps.  This has started me down the rabbit hole of Festool products, and I now own one of their routers and a dust extractor, and I am eyeing their line of sanders.

My first use of the TS 55 REQ was on a 1½” yellow pine bench top.  I had jointed together some solid yellow pine, and I was ready to cut the ends square.  For this, I used the 28-tooth “universal” blade.  I didn’t use a chip guard.  For each end, I measured and made a single mark.  Then I laid down the track on the mark, using the GRS-16 guide rail square, and clamped it place.  The cut was effortless, and when I was finished, I had an incredibly smooth, straight cut with nice sharp edges and no splintering at all.

One thing I hadn’t understood from all the reading I had done is that the rail goes right up to the cut.  I assumed there was some gap, so that the blade wouldn’t make contact with the rail, and that gap would need to be offset in my measurements, just like the guides I had used with circular saws.  That isn’t true.  In fact, there is a small gap between the metal of the track and the blade, but the track includes a polyethylene strip that extends beyond the edge of the track.  The saw cuts through this with the first use, which results in the plastic edge of the track corresponding exactly with the cut edge.  This is the edge that you align with your mark.  No math necessary!  Furthermore, this edge is part of the magic that prevents splinters.

The track also has a foam rubber grip surface on the underside.  Though I used clamps, they are probably not necessary most of the time.  The friction of grip surface holds the track firmly in place with just the weight of the track.  The clamps provide only added peace of mind.

I am looking forward to using the saw on some plywood, and also testing the squareness of the square using the five-cut method.

Going Viral

Posted: 8th February 2018 by Cheap in Filmmaking, Television
  • Having just completed two long nights working as a boom operator on a film, I am astonished to discover that my calves, rather than my arms, are complaining.  I guess I haven’t been hiking enough.  I do need to build up the endurance in my arms, though.  There was one long scene for which I eventually used a stand.
  • I need to practice wiring up actors for sound using lavalier mics.  I either forgot something important in what I read, or I did it wrong, because I kept getting significant clothing noise.  I did manage to get great results in one actor’s hair, but her hair happened to be well-suited to it.  I never did get perfect results with the other actor, and I feel like I failed.  I’ve just acquired a second mic and radio set, so I won’t be held back by having only one, but expensive equipment is useless if I don’t know how to use it correctly.
  • I have watched all of GLOW and The End of the F***ing World.  Both were pretty good in their own ways.  I mainly watched GLOW for Alison Brie, who happens to look fantastic in an eighties leotard, but the story and the humor were good too.  The End of the F***ing world was hilarious.  I wonder how much direction Jessica Barden received to make kissing look ridiculous.  I’m back to watching nothing but ST:DIS.
  • Speaking of ST:DIS (no spoilers), last week they actually managed to reveal a plot twist that impressed me.  Up to now, the writing has seemed haphazard and reaching, but now it’s starting to look like they may have had a master plan baked in from the beginning.  It’s difficult to be sure, but I can say I’m more interested than I have been for a while.
  • I have fairly well decided to spend my bonus money on a digital cinema camera, the Canon EOS C200.  Currently, my best camera for filmmaking is still my 5Dmk2, which was the first DSLR to enable video, and which I’ve had for more than seven years.  I was going to get a Panasonic AF100, and then I didn’t.  Later, I was going to get a Blackmagic URSA 4K, and then I didn’t.  The timing of Canon’s offerings, my finances, and my renewed activity in filmmaking appear to have converged.  The C200 will bring my game up to where I want it to be, and I hope I will be happy with it for a while.
  • My YouTube channel, which hasn’t had a new public video posted to it in two years, is blowing up for no reason I know.  Views have been on the climb since the beginning of the year.  I don’t know how far it will go.  I had more than twenty-five thousand views on Monday.  Tuesday, I had more than thirty-thousand.  It seems to be mainly one video, spilling over to views of other videos, but it wasn’t that video when the trend began.  I don’t know what’s going on.  I’ve had brief spikes of a thousand or two thousand views when a video of mine was linked on some high traffic site, but this is something different.

Samson R21

Posted: 15th January 2018 by Cheap in Filmmaking, Technology
Tags: , ,

I have a gig to record sound for a short film.  This one is unusual in that all of the actors will be speaking into visible microphones (a PA system in an auditorium).  I’ve been asked to supply microphones that will be used simultaneously as props and to record the dialog.  I had a few handheld dynamic vocal mics, but none that match.  In an effort to avoid a mishmash of microphones, I figured I would buy a second and perhaps a third Shure SM58.  However, I stumbled across the Samson R21.  After reading and listening to some reviews, I decided to buy some and give them a try.  I will admit, this decision was motivated by cost.

Samson R21, Shure SM58

Samson R21, Shure SM58

When they arrived, I made some recordings for a side-by-side comparison.  I was surprised how similar they sounded.  I’ve compared other handheld dynamic vocal mics, and they have all had very distinguishable personalities.  Even the SM57 sounds different from the SM58, even though internally they are basically the same microphone.  However, the R21 sounds almost identical to the SM58.  Clearly, Samson made an effort to duplicate the sound, and they have succeeded quite brilliantly.  In a side-by-side comparison, I wouldn’t be able to tell you which one is which — with one exception: plosives.

Both microphones have a built-in windscreen / pop filter.  The one on the SM58 works reasonably well.  The one on the R21 does not.  The R21 picks up an enormous amount of plosive, and it rumbles quite a bit just from breathing.  And this was an in-studio speaking test; imagine a heavy-breathing performer on stage.  I assume the difference is mainly caused by the distance from the inside of the windscreen to the front of the microphone element.  The R21’s element is right up inside the windscreen, while the SM58’s is set low, in basically the middle of the cage.  I was able to record with the microphone offset to the side, out of line with my plosives, and produced much better results.  However, I can’t rely on this technique for my application.  For me, this one difference is a deal-breaker.

It seems that most people don’t realize that the Samson R21S is a different model of the same microphone, but with an On/Off switch.  A switch may sound like a good idea, but in practice it only creates trouble.  Users are always switching it off, which then confounds the next person to pick up the microphone.  In such situations, the audio engineer is helpless to assist, except to gesticulate in an attention-grabbing but somehow non-insulting manner that communicates the necessity of having the mic switched on.  The only handheld microphone I own with a switch is the Sennheiser MD 431 II, which can be mechanically disabled.

Aside from all that, the existing reviews seem to be fairly complete.  The R21 weighs much less than an SM58.  You shouldn’t expect the R21 to survive being used as a hammer or dropped for effect.

Dead Electronics

Posted: 14th January 2018 by Cheap in Camping, Fiction, Filmmaking, Hiking, Technology
  • I have driven the highway through Great Smoky Mountains National Park again.  This last time, the trees on the mountains were frosted white, and there was a smoky cloud hanging over the mountains.  This has reaffirmed my goal of backpacking this park, which I plan to do during the summer of 2019.  That means this year I need to get some solid backpacking experience during weekends in Missouri, and I need to be maintaining and improving my physical fitness for basically the next eighteen months.
  • I managed to finish Oathbringer on the last day of the year.  It was really very good, but of course long.
  • Now that my workload has lightened up, I’m finding opportunities to get back into filmmaking.  I’ve agreed to two nights of recording sound for a film next weekend.  I’m skeptical of the production for a variety of reasons, but even a bad gig will be good for me, if for no other reason than that I have equipment I haven’t used on a film yet.  I’m also in talks with another producer who is aiming for late February.  That one is unusual because all of the dialogue will be spoken into visible prop mics, and he wants to take all of the audio directly from them.  I also have half an idea for a short film script, and I’m rolling it around in my head trying to make something of it.
  • Ugh.  The curse of bad fiction.  I tried, briefly, to read The Aeronaut’s Windless, by Jim Butcher.  It’s like he’s writing for tweens.  His characters are cliché and one-dimensional, and his dialogue is stunningly obvious.  And I assume he ripped off all the airship and steampunk business.  I tried to keep going, but I just can’t do it.  His work is popular, but interesting concepts are evidently just not enough for me.
  • To take a break from that, I started reading Night Watch, by Sergei Lukyanekno.  It is the first in a series of urban fantasy novels set in Moscow from twenty years ago.  I’m not ready to call this bad fiction, but the author’s style is unsettling.  It is all action and no repose.  There is no internal reflection and little of the protagonist’s thoughts.  The character launches into explanation and action with no hesitation or deliberation.  Maybe Russians are like that, but I think not.  I guess we’ll see how long I can take that.
  • I have fairly well decided where I’m going for my next two vacations.  A beach vacation on the Padre Island National Seashore this spring, and summer camping roadtrip east to West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware.  I’m planning the specifics, but neither one of them should be too challenging.
  • My computer was dead this morning (which turned out to be a failed motherboard), and in the process of troubleshooting I discovered that my digital multimeter was also dead.  It’s time to finally get myself a good one.  The one that just died was a fairly basic Radio Shack model that I bought about 23 years ago to replace the one before it that got crushed by a terminal server that fell off a rack (after bouncing off my head).  I have worked with several electronics people who all swore by their Fluke meters, and I have considered upgrading, and now I have a good excuse.  I’ve been researching them online, and I’m glad I did, because I’m fairly certain I have chosen just the right one (the Fluke 177).  This process has made me realize that I have been working in the dark with the electronics gadgets with which I’ve been experimenting because of the limitations of my meter.

The Star Trek Mirror Universe Trope

Posted: 9th January 2018 by Cheap in Fiction, Television

[Warning: Contains Spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery]

It is an old philosophical concept, and later a theory in quantum mechanics, that every choice creates another universe in which the alternative possibility is true.  Not a very practical idea, but it does tend to let the imagination loose.  This was relatively new science in 1967 when TOS episode Mirror, Mirror aired.  In it, Kirk and others find themselves trapped in an alternate reality, where the Federation is replaced by a totalitarian regime known as the Terran Empire driven by individuals with murderous ambition.

Evil Spock in the Mirror Universe

Evil Spock in the Mirror Universe

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted: 20th December 2017 by Cheap in Camping, Fiction, Hunting, Technology
  • My hunting trip was successful.  On my fifth day out there, I found a spot that was so ideal for attracting deer, it was like shooting fish in a barrel.  I took a doe, shot through the heart, leaving a Quintin Tarantino blood trail.  Next year, if I hunt that spot, I think I will wait for a buck.  I dropped off my deer at the processor on a Monday morning, and they called me the following afternoon to tell me it was ready.  It’s in my freezer, and I haven’t tried any yet.  Oh, and I was finally able to take some game with my custom .358 WSSM.
  • I definitely like my new Eureka K-2 XT tent.  As intended, there was plenty of room for me and all my gear.  There was some strange weather resulting in some strong, gusty winds, and the tent just laughed at it.  Some light rain, which was not a problem.  Who knows if I will ever get to experience snow on the thing.  Ventilation was good so condensation was easy to control.  I’m very happy with it, and it was well worth the money I spent.  The ground cover I made worked great, too.
  • This Thanksgiving was the first with just my brother and me.  When it had occurred to me months ago, I had planned to set some new traditions, but really the dinner wasn’t far from what we have traditionally done.  I smoked a bone-in turkey breast on the grill.  I tried a stuffing recipe, and it wasn’t great, but I know how to make it better next time.  The pie was pretty good.  I’ll get the timing of the whole preparation down better next year.
  • The sixth and final season of Longmire came out, and I blitzed through it on three different evenings.  It was worth the wait, and the tying up of loose ends was satisfying.
  • Thinking more about robotics and unmanned underwater vehicles, I went out and bought a Raspberry Pi and a book.  I actually bought two: a Pi 3 Model B in a starter kit, and a Pi Zero W.  I can’t believe how easy it is.  It’s a fully contained computer, and the Raspbian operating system is well-integrated and apparently quite solid.  This will take all the difficulty out of building a computing platform for robotics projects.  I need to learn about the GPIO and get a development platform set up.  I think I’ll probably use Java, mostly because it will be good for me.
  • My big, big project at work, shutting down a data center, has finally reached the point of completion.  There are still plenty of loose ends to deal with, but the urgency and the risk are over.  I’ve been trying to take it easy, and trying to use up my vacation.  I haven’t really adjusted to a new pattern of work.  I’m going to have to work on organizing myself, because now I will be responsible for myriad details without the aid of five project managers.  My A.D.D. tendencies will be a problem if I don’t make an effort to counter them.
  • I binge-watched all the way through Stranger Things.
  • I’ve been reading Oathbringer for more than a month.  It came out on the day I left for deer camp, so I was reading it in my tent, I was reading it on the plane and in my hotel room during my subsequent business trip, and I’ve been reading it when I can since then.  It’s a big book, and I’ve been busy.  I will probably still be reading it before the year is up.
  • I read The Paladin, by C. J. Cherryh.  I generally liked it, but it certainly wasn’t her best work.  It was published in 1988, and it is 2017 now, so her idea of a love interest just came off as harassment to me.  Maybe I’m not like other guys, but when a girl repeatedly says no to me, I stop asking, and I certainly don’t try to logic her into it.  On the other hand, this novel was interesting from the beginning, which is not always the case with C. J. Cherryh novels.  I found the cover art to be a little humorous.  The story is evidently supposed to be set in China or perhaps Japan, and Taizu is supposed to be a peasant, but the girl on the cover is clearly an auburn haired caucasian with kohl black eye makeup.  The other covers that have been used for this book in the past have been awful.
  • It seems like I’ve just begun watching Star Trek: Discovery, and they’re already talking about a “midseason finale” and taking a break until January.  What’s that about?  On the other hand, I guess it means I won’t miss an episode while I’m on my hunting trip.
  • I’ve been preparing meals for my hunting/camping trip, and I’m actually feeling good about what I’m preparing.  The experience I gained this summer, last fall, and last summer have taught me a few things about what works and what doesn’t.  One unique factor is that I am cooking for one.  The kinds of prepared meals I would buy to cook while camping don’t work very well because I’d end up throwing away much of the food.  Left-overs don’t work well in a camp situation.  So, I am dividing them and repackaging them into smaller units.
  • I bought a bigger tent for cold weather camping, the Eureka K-2 XT.  It is much roomier than the tent I used last November, which felt a little claustrophobic with my mattress and my sleeping bag and everything in it.  This one will let me have quite a bit of gear in the tent, move around, and just generally be more spread out.  It also has a vestibule large enough to be worthy of the name.  This tent is heavier, but I won’t take it backpacking.
  • I have a bit of a flashlight fetish.  I don’t really think of Bushnell as a flashlight company, but nevertheless they have been making some interesting lights, of high quality and innovative design.  They look great, and the build quality is excellent.  I just bought TRKR T150L on impulse, a little 150 lumen light that runs on a single AA battery.  In addition to the 150 lumen white light and the 13 lumen red light, it has a blood tracking mode.  The blood tracking mode uses red + blue LED lights that give the impression of a sort of violet-white light, but which makes red (and blue) objects stand out very brightly.  This is different from the other blood tracking light I own, which has red and green lights that shine in different spots and requires you to pass the light back and forth, making red objects alternate between bright and dark.  If I have a chance, I will try to compare the effectiveness of both these lights when I go hunting this month.
  • After I bought that, I did a little more research on the visibility of red versus green lights by deer.  I read this article.  I had previously believed that deer could see red and green light about equally well, but the conjecture was that green light is perhaps less alarming to deer.  I had been using a green light.  However, this has caused me to flip my position and decide that red lights are better.  So I went back to the store and bought the Bushnell H75L hat light, which has a 75 lumen white light and a 1 lumen red light and runs on a single AAA battery.  I don’t expect to use the white light often, especially since it can only run for 45 minutes (as opposed to the red light which runs for four hours), but it might come in handy.
  • On the subject of lights and deer, I used to have a light for hanging inside my deer blind.  It could shine red or green.  However, it died last year.  That one is no longer made.  Downward-facing blind lights are rather few and far between.  Ameristep makes one, but it’s clunky and uses green light.  Bushnell makes something that would work, but it has a rechargeable internal battery.  Rechargeable lights are a lot of hassle unless you use the light all the time, and when the battery ages to a point where it can’t take a charge, the light becomes useless.  In this case, it also makes the light very expensive.  I’ll keep looking around.
  • Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson is to be released on November 14.  I have pre-ordered it for my Kindle, which will make it just in time to take on my hunting trip so I’ll have something to read in my tent at night.  The first two books in this series, beginning with The Way of Kings, was weird, but excellent.  And in typical Brandon Sanderson fashion, the thing is more than 1100 pages, so I’m sure it will last the whole trip.

Book Trailers

Posted: 31st October 2017 by Cheap in Fiction, Filmmaking

Book trailers are short videos intended to market a novel in much the same way that movie trailers market a film. They seem to have been a short-lived fad, but the idea still intrigues me.

I find myself wondering what makes a good book trailer.  I’ve watched several, and they vary widely.  (One of my favorite was simply a reader with a great voice reading some of the choice bits of prose, with the visual being nothing more than a tastefully flashy motion graphic of the words being read.)  I feel like writing book trailer scripts.  Should it be a reenactment of the best parts of the novel?  What are the best parts?  How are the “best” parts selected for a movie trailer?

One serious drawback of book trailers is production quality.  In a movie trailer, one of the things being shown is the production quality of the film.  In a book trailer, this does not apply.  However, if the production value of the book trailer is low (and by “low”, I mean lower than Hollywood standards), then the trailer will actually detract from the book.

Another problem facing book trailers is costume and set design.  Most of my favorite novels are set in the future or in the past.  In either case, wardrobe and sets will not be easy to come by.  The effort and expense of creating costumes and sets is worthwhile when making a film, but if it’s only for a short trailer, then it’s certainly an uphill battle.

I guess if I want to be serious about this, then I need to understand more about the art behind making film trailers, and then I need to be able to reach a level of production quality that can more or less match Hollywood.

My October

Posted: 27th October 2017 by Cheap in Fiction, Firearms, Hunting
  • While casting about for other television series to watch, I’ve been reminded that I own both seasons of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but I have only watched the first.  It has been a while, so I should probably re-watch the last couple of episodes of the first season before starting the second season.  Also, this is possibly Lena Headey’s sexiest role, and looking at her in a tank top will be good for me.  Not to mention Summer Glau.
  • I have finished The Stone Sky, by N. K. Jemisin, which was of course quite good, with a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.  This is just in time to start Provenance, by Ann Leckie, a new novel set in the same universe as her Imperial Radch trilogy.  It won’t be long before Oathbringer is released, and then early next year Emergence will be released.  That’s a bunch of new releases among my favorite authors.
  • I’ve planted a tree, theoretically to replace the Bradford Pear that fell last year.  It is a Ginko biloba, and it is quite small.  Unfortunately, it is a slow-growing tree, and I won’t enjoy any shade benefits from this tree unless I end up living here for a decade or two.  Nevertheless, it will be nice to have a tree in the yard instead of a barren field.  I’ve been watering and caring for it properly, and so far it doesn’t seem dead.  It will lose its leaves soon, and I will just have to hope through the winter.
  • I’ve managed to get some grass growing in some places where it is needed.  In the inside corner of the house where it is shaded by the Japanese Maple, and in the northern corner of the property where it is shaded by everything.  In both cases, I’ve used my favorite shade grass, creeping red fescue.  If I can keep it watered, maybe it won’t die next year.
  • All Systems Red by Martha Wells was pretty good, though disappointingly short.  This is the first in a series, and I expect that I will continue to the next one.
  • I also read Provenance by Ann Leckie as soon as it came out.  It was good, and it takes place in her Imperial Radch universe, however it was not quite as amazing as her Ancillary Justice series.
  • A Little Yellow Dog by Walter Mosley was also good, though maybe not as gripping on matters of race as the other novels in this series.
  • I am finally building out my Encore pistol.  I’ve had the custom .405 Winchester barrel for two and a half years, but I only just now bought the frame.  Both are in stainless steel.  I have a Leupold FX-II 4x28mm handgun scope on order.  I plan to order a custom grip and forend from Tony Gettel.  After that will be load development and practice.  I haven’t fired it yet, and I’m a little concerned about the recoil.  It also remains to be seen what kind of accuracy I can achieve from a pistol, which will ultimately determine the range at which I can hunt with it.
  • I may not get to go deer hunting in Missouri this year, due to conflicts with poorly planned activities at work.  I’m not happy about it, but I am resigned to it.  A cut-over has been rescheduled to occur on opening weekend.  I wasn’t planning to go hunting opening weekend, because I hunt on public land, but I don’t feel good about being unavailable Monday morning.  I can probably shift my hunting plan by a couple of days, but if something else happens (the probability of which seems high), they will probably want to take the other weekend as well, in which case I probably just won’t go at all.