Applause for a cleaner

Way back when I got a stainless steel hot tray for Christmas. I tried my hardest to keep it clean, but it got stained pretty badly from all the bottoms of thousands of pans and Pyrex microwave dishes and platters and stuff that have rested on it.

I tried Comet, I tried liquid soaps, I tried brushes. Nothing really worked. Then today I ran across a Facebook post from a friend who said he’d used something called Bar Keepers Friend to clean up a big hunk of steel he wanted to use in his oven to cook pizza on. Rod told me it worked like a charm, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I went down to Bed Bath and Beyond and found a can of the powdered stuff for $4.49. I followed the instructions and scrubbed and scrubbed. Then I made a paste and let that sit on the tray for a few minutes before scrubbing some more. I did that four times.


From Events

Veterans Day 2014

I know this is a serious day and date. You can find many solemn remembrances of Armistice Day all over the web. One of the most spectacular is the sea of poppies placed in the grassy moat which surrounds the Tower of London.

My purpose here today is to show you what a veteran looked like before he was placed on active service in a real job. Behold the boot camp sailor!

Linkmeister official photo, Company 132, RTC San Diego, June 1972

Linkmeister official photo, Company 132, RTC San Diego, June 1972

This was the official company photo, taken from a hardbound album given to each recruit upon successful completion of 9 weeks of basic training before heading out to either the Fleet or to specialized training school (in my case Radioman Class “A” school, about two blocks from the recruit areas on the same base in San Diego).

Science! Spacecraft! Comets!

Is everyone aware that the European Space Agency has a spacecraft orbiting a comet at the moment? And that the day after tomorrow the Agency is going to try to land a robot on one of the larger chunks of said comet?

That’s one hell of a plan.

Here’s the landing site.

Much of the surface of the comet is covered in boulders – some larger than houses – as well as steep slopes, deep pits and towering cliffs. In the lower part of this image, the narrowness of the neck region connecting the two lobes is emphasised, with the rugged terrain of the larger lobe in the background.

On 12 November, Rosetta will release Philae from an altitude of 22.5 km from the comet centre at 08:35 GMT/09:35 CET, with signals confirming deployment arriving at Earth 28 minutes later.

Philae will take about seven hours to descend to the surface, with the signal confirming a successful touchdown expected to arrive on Earth in a one-hour window centred on 16:02 GMT/17:02 CET.

You can follow Philae at this website, starting at 9:00 AM HST on Tuesday, Nov. 11. That will be 11:00 AM PST and 2:00 PM EST.

Pricey Sunday

Our home water pressure has been a little above normal for quite a while now, although I didn’t know that that’s what was causing me to hear water running anywhere in the house at a specific corner of the playroom. Over the past few days, though it got really really loud. So I called a plumber we’ve used before.

Well, he came out yesterday and tested the pressure, and what should normally be around 75 PSI was 125 PSI rising to 150. He said, “your pressure regulator is broken, and as long as I’m replacing that why don’t I change the valve for the yard sprinklers and the main residential one, since they’re equally as old as the regulator.” That made some sense, so we said okay.

Then he got into it, and it involved 4 hours of labor, two new valves, a new regulator and a whole bunch of digging to get at the old pipe in order to replace it with new PVC and copper so everything will be more easily accessible in the future.

From Events

The yellow lever is the new main shutoff valve and the bell-like object is the new pressure regulator.

Suffice to say it cost a lot more than anticipated, but we’re happy with the results, so I guess it’s worth it.

College Football Saturday

Hmm. 9th-ranked Arizona State is up 34-17 over 10th-ranked Notre Dame in the third quarter. Unranked Texas A&M is up 35-24 on 3rd-ranked Auburn with 4:41 left in the third quarter, but Auburn just scored to get within 11 points. 11th-ranked Old Miss destroyed Presybterian 48-0, a shocker. 12-ranked Baylor whupped 15th-ranked Oklahoma 48-14. Top-ranked Mississippi State is about to kick off against UT-Martin, a school no one outside the state of Tennessee can locate on a map. Fifth-ranked Alabama is about to take the field against 16th-ranked LSU, which might be the best game left on today’s schedule, although 4th-ranked Oregon against 17th-ranked Utah might be pretty good as well.

I haven’t watched a full game of football yet this fall, be it NFL or college. I think I’ll veg out the rest of the day in front of the tube.

A “Blizzard” of vetoes?

I’m with Kevin Drum, who quotes Ramesh Ponnuru:

Senate Democrats will have the power to subject almost all legislation to filibuster (a word that does not appear in Will’s column [whence came the “blizzard” phrase]). Overcoming a filibuster takes 60 votes. So Republicans, who will probably end up with 54 seats, would have to win over Democrats to get legislation through the Senate to the president’s desk. If they can do that, the legislation is unlikely to draw a veto.

Uh, yeah. The Democrats have the filibuster. Kevin asks

Is there some kind of unspoken assumption among pundits that Democrats aren’t going to routinely insist on a 60-vote threshold for Republican legislation?

Do the pundits think the Democrats are going to wimp out and not use it as a weapon against legislation they don’t like? There may be slightly fewer instances of its use; I think the House is going to send over tons of legislation that addresses the ids of its loonier members, but I doubt that McConnell and his pals in the Senate will agree with a lot of it and bring it to the floor for votes.

It makes no sense

All three of those policies are Democratic issues, so it makes all the sense in the world to vote for the Republicans to implement them.

My fellow Americans, what were you thinking?

Now THIS is tough

I can’t recall a time when I saw a headline as forceful as this one directed toward a state’s governor in a major newspaper:

The relentless lies of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback

The author, Barbara Shelly, enumerates countless instances of what she calls lies on the part of the former Senator and now Governor Brownback.

There’s the $876-in-the-bank lie, which Brownback has repeated in three state-of-the-state addresses, on national broadcasts, in multiple interviews and as recently as a September campaign debate. That’s the one where he inherited a measly $876 in the treasury and through his amazing governance converted it into a $500 million surplus in two years.

Complete hokum. Money was flowing into the state treasury when Brownback took office in January 2011 because his predecessor, Democrat Mark Parkinson, signed into law a one-cent sales tax increase to rescue Kansas from the devastating effects of the 2008 recession. The state had $251 million in its bank account when Brownback was sworn in, and the revenue flow was strong until his income tax cuts kicked in.

There was the “I shrunk government spending by $2 billion” lie, which Brownback enshrined into a power point presentation. The claim was debunked

There’s more, plenty more. If you live in Kansas or have friends or family who do, you might want to forward this column to them before they vote tomorrow. Ms. Shelly pulls no punches at all in her takedown of what she considers Brownback’s failed policies, from supply-side economics to defunding education.