The Cat Sat on the Mat – Aw Drat! – July 2018 Update

The beginning of Redquarters own Occupy:Toilet Mat!

It was a dark and not too stormy night. Nature called and would not take “try again later” for answer, so I got up and made my half-awake way around the corner to take care of things. Continue reading

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Competent Gentlemen

“Why do you hang out with these guys?” The question was asked in jest as I was lurking in the smokers’ corner at LibertyCon.

“Because I like being around gentlemen.”

Laughter and, “These are not gentlemen.”

I beg to differ. They were not necessarily all gentle men. But they were gentlemen. Competent, polite, mature, gentlemen who treat ladies like ladies. You just do not want to get on their bad side, individually or collectively. I like that. Continue reading

Ode to the Card Catalog

Those of you ripe enough in years and wisdom to have used a card catalog, a real one, raise your hands, please. That’s what I thought. Those of you too young to have had the pleasure – I’m not being sarcastic – of the original card catalog won’t miss the institution, but some of us feel the loss rather keenly. There are some things the card system did better than all the electronic cataloguing software packages I’ve worked with thus far.

Olde School search system. From an article entitled “The Card Catalog is officially dead.”

Continue reading

A Charlemagne what?!?

Look carefully at the picture below:

Charlemagne, A. Dürer, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg

Keep that image in mind.

Back in June, my folks and I stopped at an Autohof on one of the Autobahns. These are combination restaurants, convenience stores, coffee-shops, sometimes gas stations, news-stands, play-grounds, and always, places to use the restrooms. Continue reading

Looking at Streams: When Poetry Hits Engineering

A re-print, since Rosgen classification got mentioned yesterday…

A lovely stream dances and sparkles down the side of a mountain meadow. Sunlight glints off the wet rocks in the cold water, and in a few still, tree-shadowed pools, the flash of a shadow hints at the presence of trout. A few water striders scoot over the surface. Farther downstream, the little brook slows and spreads gaining the title of River and picking up a little silt, no longer cold and diamond clear but a touch muddy, especially after rain. It winds slowly, starting to meander across the plateau that sits between the mountains to the west and the broken, mesa-capped plains to the east.

Or I could say that the stream went from a Rosgen Aa2+ in a Type II valley to an A/II and then a G4/VIII.

Which description is better? It depends: are you a poet or an engineer? Because both paragraphs mean the same thing. Continue reading

Riffle, Pool, Riffle, Water bottle, Pool…

Um, yeah, so I was doing stream classification on a gutter the other morning. Why? Because I was. For reasons known only to water and whoever laid this section of gutter, there’s a fifty foot or so section that has a very nice riffle-pool sequence much like an ideal stream reach, complete with knickpoint and thalweg.

Screech.

OK. Rewind a bit. When hydrology-types describe streams, creeks, brooks, rivers, bayous to each other, we use some in-field jargon and a numerical classification system developed by a gent named Dave Rosgen (who studied under Luna Leopold, the son of Aldo Leopold.). Streams [bodies of flowing water of any size] have certain characteristics no matter what the stream looks like. There are shallow areas with obstructions called riffles, deeper areas where the water flows more smoothly called pools, and a center of the active channel called the thalweg. Places where bedrock controls erosion (often marked by a waterfall of some kind) are knickpoints. Continue reading

Friday Excerpt: Imperial Magic

The book is fighting me. Ewoud Gaalnar Rhonarida is a challenging character to write.

Why did he have to work the crane? Ewoud panted, legs aching. That’s why they’d brought apprentices. Probably because Maarsdam frowned on something Ewoud had done, and so was punishing him. “Stop!” Ewoud and the three other men slowed their steps, grabbing the beams of the crane wheel for balance as the enormous machine slowed and stopped. Bits of sunlight darted through a few gaps in the roof and walls, but the heavy wood muffled the sounds of unloading. Ewoud heard wood creak and took a tighter grip as men outside the crane grunted with effort, pushing the beam that turned the crane. The four inside reversed directions. Ewoud wiped sweat off his face and tried to pant more quietly. “Forward!” He started walking, driving the wheel with his feet. It was too bad they couldn’t use water power for the cranes like they did for mills.

Ewoud and the others staggered out of the crane some time later. The sun had moved and was within three hand-spans of the western horizon. “Over here,” Meester Hajo called. Tears of pain burned Ewoud’s eyes as he teetered over to the wagons. “Lucky you, you get to ride this afternoon. We’re leaving to get outside the walls by sundown. Get in.” Ewoud started to ask if he could have some water, then changed his mind and clambered into the wagon. Instead of great-haulers, something that looked like giant schaef but with heavier legs and stubby horns pulled the wagons. The beasts had short-clipped white hair, like the wild schaef of the wastes and mountains. Did they smell as bad wet as schaef did? Ewoud decided that he’d rather not find out. Continue reading