Yeah, that there is our house.  Well... what is left of our house.

Fortunately, nobody was home at the time.  I was at work, our two youngest were at school, and the lovely Mrs. Robb and Eldest Daughter were out shopping.  As it was a nice day, even the animals were outside.

Second floor is a total loss.  First floor... well, not a total loss.  Say, 90%.  What the fire left behind, the water took care of.

The pool, on the other hand, is definitely filled.

We'll see what we can salvage come the morrow.  We already know that we have lost a lot of keepsakes that relate to our wedding, my time in the Navy, and the girls' adoptions.  The thought of having lost some of that stuff is emotionally wrenching, but...

Eh.  It's just stuff.  We can live without it... they key word there being "live".  I thank God that we were all on the outside of the fire looking in, instead of the other way around.

Besides - you know, there was this guy 2000 years ago who had a much worse start to this particular weekend than we have had.  All in all, that turned out pretty well not just for Him, but for the whole world.  So, no worries here.  If I can't look at this and think, "Yeah, my house burned down, but I've got the Son of God on my side", there's something wrong with me.

The lovely Mrs. Robb and I are running on fumes right now.  It has been a long day.  The idea of joining a wandering Gypsy caravan is kind of enticing.  (Seriously, though.  When is it never not enticing?  And yes, I do know Gypsies.  Well... I know people who know Gypsies.  Close enough.)  We will have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.

For now, though, we're homeless.


John Stossel on the cargo-cult environmental holiday of Earth Day:
It's possible climate change may become a problem. But even if industrialization brings warming, we've got more important problems. On my TV show this week, statistician Bjorn Lomborg points out that "air pollution kills 4.3 million people each year ... We need to get a sense of priority." That deadly air pollution happens because, to keep warm, poor people burn dung in their huts. 
Yet, time and again, environmentalists oppose the energy production most likely to make the world cleaner and safer. Instead, they persuade politicians to spend billions of your dollars on symbolism like "renewable" energy.
Do environmentalists even care about measuring costs instead of just assuming benefits?
Well, no.  No they don't.  If they really did care about the environment, they would be supporting the development of nuclear power, instead of slaughtering birds with wind turbines.  If they really did care about global warming, they would be supporting natural gas development in the US instead of opposing it.  If they really did care about people dying of easily avoidable malnutrition, they would be supporting the development of golden rice instead of opposing it.

Instead of doing anything to actually solve these problems, what do they do?  Designate a holy day to spend worshiping mother Gaia.  Drive a coal-powered electric car to show how much they care. Carefully separate paper and plastics into the proper recycling bins as an act of penance.  Nothing they do, say or support has any practical, real-world application to solving a problem.  Their actions are no more than a salve to soothe whatever tattered remnants of conscience still inhabits their shriveled, blackened souls.  

They are not visionaries.  They are your so-called betters, who ache for approval and yearn for authority over others more than anything else.

They are racists, bigots, and nihilists who long for death.

"And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder..."

Rugged men rise to stand for one of their own.

The moon turns to blood.

Tax day cometh, shrouded in unseasonal snow.

These are the things that myths are made of.

And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder:
One of the four beasts saying: "Come and see." And I saw.
And behold, a white horse.

Lies, Damned Lies, and School Administrators

From the People's Republic of Cal-i-forn-eye-aye:

Cortines School's Greg Schiller was removed by L.A. Unified after two students' projects were deemed to resemble weapons.
Schiller was ordered to report daily to a district administrative office pending an investigation after two students turned in science-fair projects that were designed to shoot small projectiles. 
One project used compressed air to propel a small object but it was not connected to a source of air pressure, so it could not have been fired. 
L.A. Unified School District administrators have told Schiller that he was removed from his classroom for "supervising the building, research and development of imitation weapons," said union representative Roger Scott.
Eldest Daughter's science project last year was taking a blowtorch to various types of wood to measure the effect of density on combustion.  Based on this article, I can only assume that its mere presence in an LA school would have caused pants-wetting hysteria and an eight hour lockdown.

Of course, there may be more to the story:
Schiller, 43, also was the teachers union representative on the campus and had been dealing with disagreements with administrators over updating the employment agreement under which the faculty works. His suspension, with pay, removed him from those discussions.
Makes me wonder if Mr. Schiller happened to have, you know, any doubleplus ungood ideas.

One White Duck

Apologies for the light blogging lately.  Work has been busy, in a very good way; and I've been very effectively distracted by shadowy organizations and unexplained phenomena.

Must.  Read.  Them.  All!

Mo' better bloggination to resume shortly, I think (easy to promise, as just about anything is better than nothing at all.)  At least until Skin Game comes out, at which point I will probably disappear into a hole muttering something about "my precious".

"Ballistic Monte Carlo Methods"

How Mathematicians Used A Pump-Action Shotgun to Estimate Pi
If you’ve ever wondered how to estimate pi using a Mossberg 500 pump-action shotgun, a sheet of aluminium foil and some clever mathematics, look no further.
Why?  What do you mean, why?  Which part of "... fired 200 shots at the aluminium foil, peppering it with 30,857 holes" didn't you understand?

I think I will start to refer to range time as "ballistic Monte Carlo methods".  Or maybe just "doing some math".

Snark, Industrial Grade, 1 Post Of

Over at ITINIDKWI, Barry hits this one out of the park.
Dear Prospective Vendor,
Thank you for your interest in supplying goods and/or services to me. 
In order to gauge your suitability as a supplier, I’m going to need you to fill out this questionnaire explaining your position on some key political and social wedge issues: abortion, gun control, immigration reform, gay marriage, drug policy, the national surveillance state, and more... 
There is an essay portion, but really, the only thing that’s good for is either a groveling apology or extended Maoist ritual self-criticism in the event that we disagree about something (and clearly, you’d be the person in the wrong there.)
Go.  RTWT.

Life is Good

Solved a memory allocation problem at work today by groveling through hex dumps and tracking down a leak in a third-party security library by deduction.  Came home, put on a suit, and went up to the veteran's center to preach the gospel this evening.  Home now, sitting in my old farmhouse, listening to a Chinese-American goil downstairs strumming on an acoustic guitar, trying to teach herself how to play a Celtic tune written by a Canadian folk/fusion band.

Life is weird... and that is a good thing.

The Kalends of April

Just a reminder that today is April 1st.  As part of the traditional observations of April Fool's Day, Slashdot will be even more unreadable than usual.  Also, there will be a whole lot of... unusual... news stories today.  Take anything downright weird with a grain of salt.

Except for the initial Obamacare enrollment announcements.  Announcing those on April 1st?

Pure.  Comedy.  Gold.

What's even better is the certain knowledge that nobody in the current administration probably even considered the implications of the date.

The blind leading the clueless.