Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Why QA A Simple Mail Merge?
Mail merges have been automatic for 20 years, right?



Book Report: Lucky You by Carl Hiaasen (1997)
I didn't care so much for Nature Girl, but this book hearkens back to Hiaasen's strengths. A winning lottery drawing has two ticket holders: a black woman from a small town in Florida and one of a pair of self-styled white supremecist militia wannabees (who belong to the NRA). The black woman wants to buy a stretch of undeveloped land to save it from developers because her turtles are from there. A mob attorney from Chicago wants the land as part of a way of laundering money in a money-losing development. The militia men (who belong to the NRA) want the black woman's lottery ticket because they don't want to share the lottery winnings. So they take it, and the woman and a newspaper reported try to find them and retrieve the ticket. Throw in a dopey convenience store clerk who wants to be in the band--no, the militia, a Hooters waitress that one of the militia men (who happen to belong to the NRA) has his good eye on, an ATF agent smitten, unrequitedly, with the lottery winner who is not in a militia (or the NRA), and a newspaper feature writer who started out with a fluff piece about the lottery winner and a price on his head by a judge whom he cuckolded, and we've got a Hiassen novel. It ends, mostly, on a key with some gun play and violence, in which the heroes (who do not belong to the NRA) use firearms and a well-placed stingray to defeat the enemies.

So it's a pretty good book. Hiaasen, post Murrah, gets in his digs at militias and then stripes the whole NRA as kooks, but several of his characters are responsible gun owners. Some people might take issue with that distinction. Also, he relies a lot on the "newcomers are spoiling Florida" motif that has been popular with Florida writers since the invention of air conditioning. But the book is enjoyable and entertaining, so it's easier to not take the minor polemics as earnest.

So this book is one of Hiaasen's better novels. I can say that having come off of reading one that was not.

Books mentioned in this review:

Honey, I'm Home
At least, I was when the Google satellite passed over our old house:

Honey, I'm Home

I take pride in how clean those gutters are; of course, as you well know, I had to.

Friday, March 02, 2007
Remember, if someone tells you, "You look nice," that person is really saying, "Most of the time, you look like crap."

Thursday, March 01, 2007
Idle Speculation on a One Hit Wonder
It's been ten years since Meredith Brooks charted her only hit song, "Bitch". The song itself was one of those songs celebrating the essence of womanhood, or at least the essence of using being a woman as an excuse for mercurial mood swings and taunting a male if he couldn't handle idiocy from his lover. You know, a retread of Sheryl Crow's "Strong Enough To Be My Man", but without the remorse and with a dirty word as its name. Brooks charted with that song, but that's it for her. Even Alanis Morissette got more than one single from the scthick.

So I was wondering today: Ten years later, who does Meredith Brooks hate to get mixed up with most?

  • Meredith Baxter-Birney?

  • Merril Bainbridge, whose 1994 song "Mouth" also was one word long but was upbeat and fun, something a even a guy could sing without feeling dirty:

  • Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of the book Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women:

  • Burgess Meredith

  • That one waitress at Applebee's.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Mainstream Media Under Fire
AP classes face scrutiny in audit

Oops, guess not.

Don Surber Shouts Out McCain's Problem
McCain’s problem:
    Two words:


    The fundamental difference between McCain 2000 and McCain 2008 is that he put his name on a law that forbids people from speaking out against their congressman within 60 days of an election.
That's what I told the exploratory committee volunteer who called me up; I would absolutely not support McCain for president based on the BCRA.

"Even against Hillary Clinton?" she said BOO!

"What's the difference?" I said.

How does that make you feel, Senator? You engender the same response in a former supporter and a former money donor as Hillary Clinton does.

(Link seen on Instapundit.)

When 101 Years Old You Reach, Look This Good You Will Not
Someone's attempt at planned obsolescence has gone horribly, horribly wrong:
    Six years before the RMS Titanic set sail on its doomed maiden voyage, a Great Lakes steamship was launched, and it's still in operation.

    Now called St. Marys
    [sic] Challenger, it is the oldest ship still in service on the Great Lakes. This winter, the 101-year-old Challenger is docked in South Chicago while a maintenance crew from Milwaukee does minor repairs to get it ready for spring sailing.
No, wait; back in the old days, they built simple things that could run for a long time instead of complicated things that break right away. Because in the distant past, quality was a virtue more important than mere profit to companies and a feature more important than any bell or whistle to customers who had attention spans measured in generations instead of seasons.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Crack St. Louis Post-Dispatch Investigative Team Reports Contents of Hand-Written Sign On Business
Sign says Allen Cab has gone out of business:
    The Allen Cab Co., whose owner was recently found after a seven-day disappearance, appears to have closed.

    A makeshift sign hangs on the front door of the building along 17th Street that once bustled with about 120 drivers and 100 cabs. It reads: "Sorry, we're closed. Contact the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission for further questions. Thank you, #321."
In another breaking report, we find that Nelson's Haberdashery is Out to Lunch - Back at 1:15!

Monday, February 26, 2007
Who Spiked Bill McClellan's Coffee With Truth Serum Again?
Bill McClellan say he's glad the Post-Dispatch sucks, and now he admits:
    Most newspaper reporters are petty. We don't make as much as the TV people make.
Preach it, brother!

Sunday, February 25, 2007
Get Middle Class Slowly Scheme
John Scalzi tracks his annual earnings from writing science fiction.

As if this wasn't encouraging enough.

(Link seen on Instapundit.)

Home Ownership Is Draining
As I age, I concern myself with subtle imperfections that I’ve ignored for the majority of my thirtysomething years. Blithely, throughout much of my youth, I skipped through life without taking care of things, without worrying how that indifference would lead to consequences later. Now that I am older, sadder perhaps, but wiser, I have learned the importance of proper drainage and water control around a domicile.

Some years ago, when I was an impertinent youth of but eight and twenty, my wife and I bought our dream house of the moment. It looked spectacular in the early spring, with the last traces of the winter’s snow decorating the lawn in the picture. When our realtor walked us through the building, we appreciated the vinyl hardwood-looking floors in the kitchen and foyer, the gas fireplace in the basement den, and the affordable lower Bobo price. Of course, our youthful zeal for home ownership and our overappreciation of the possibilities for the fourth bedroom, we didn’t fully appreciate the impact of a below-grade walkout basement at the bottom of a hill whose sliding glass doors were guarded by a single drain beneath two blossoming crab apple trees.

Fast forward and flashflood two years to a dark and stormy night, where a torrent of water tumbling down the concrete steps outside the basement doors made the exterior look like a leaking fish tank from inside that den with the fireplace. I kneeled in ankle-deep water to bail the blossoms and crabapples from the drain almost as fast as they collected at the base of the vortex. I sniffled in the torrenting chill, man against nature, while my wife frantically sopped the inside seepage with towels and blankets.

We weathered that particular storm with only an extremely damp carpet, and I have learned a lesson. I now spend a portion of each afternoon sweeping the deck above and the concrete steps and drain below free of leaves, cut grass, crab apples, and other assorted detritus. My efforts only ensure my comfort in the hour immediately following my sweeping. I’ll fidget and fuss during any heavy rainfall, looking through the doors frequently to scry how much might accumulate around the drain. Often, I will obsessively or compulsively venture into the rain to clear the drain, removing a crab apple or a palmful of leaves to ensure my own unease of mind. Perhaps I would enjoy the romance of a good thunderstorm more if I only worried about the drain at the bottom of the basement steps. I also worry about the gutters.

One morning, circa 2:30 CDT, I awakened from a light slumber to hear the soothing—or so I thought then—prattle of rain through the downspout. As I listened to the gentle cascade of water, I realized that I heard a soothing cascade undimmed by exterior walls. I slapped glasses onto my nose and hastened to the dining room, where I encountered a stream of water pouring from the dining room window onto the vinyl, but hardwood-looking, dining room floor. For some reason, water rolling from the roof ignored the best-designed systems of man which proffered a downspout at the house’s corner. Instead, the water fell directly against the side of the house. The charming but energy-efficient sliding window track offered a handy cup to collect this water, and when the cup overflowed, it runneth over into the dining room. Once again arming my beautiful and sleepy wife with towels, I ventured into the maelstrom.

Climbing onto a stepladder, I discerned through trial and error, using the flashes of lightning for illumination and the crashes of nearby thunder as motivation for quick action, that the gutter had pulled from the house so that the water from the roof was streaming between the roof and the gutter. When I held the gutter up with my hands, the stream against the window abated. When I let go, the stream resumed. I pondered the prospect of holding the gutter against the house all night, but I remembered that I had a single stalk of wood in my personal lumberyard that I could prop against the window sill to hold the gutter in place and…. Success!

Of course, success in this case meant that I could dry off, but that I would spend the rest of a mostly sleepless night checking both the drain and the kludged gutter brace to ensure that most of my house remained dry. I took a personal day from work the next day to clean my gutters, to bolt the loose section to the house with the largest bolts I could muster, and to place gutter screens on the gutters beneath the two crab apple trees just to be thorough or just because I was in that aisle in the hardware store.

So as I age, and as I own a home, I pay greater attention to the weather and the water falling outside of my house. As Mr. Fix-It might have said in his book, water is a friend, but it’s also an enemy. Perhaps he didn’t say that, or perhaps he was talking about the copper piping through which we invite the beast into our home. Still, you can be sure that when my wife and I move to our next dream house, I will inspect the topography to ensure that the entire neighborhood does not funnel its watershed to my basement door. I’ll also resist the temptation to use the basement (if we don’t buy a home on a sweet, sweet slab of concrete) to store our extensive library or electronic equipment.

Until then, though, I will arm myself with brooms, buckets, and two-by-fours to prepare for the inevitable unexpected, which undoubtedly will require something other than brooms, buckets, or two-by-fours. Ultimately, though, I know I can do little but study the skies like a native, looking for signs that I have personally angered the rain gods.

To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."