Friday, October 22, 2010

Sometimes, loopholes rock.

Something not everyone knows about me.  I would like to design and build guns.  Weapon design in general is fantastically interesting due to the juxtaposition of mechanical requirements and physiological and psychological requirements.  I could go on and on about this, but maybe later.  For now, I'm just going to say that I've run across a loophole in the Federal Firearms License.  If you intend to manufacture weapons other than destructive devices (grenades, bombs, guns with a barrel larger than .50 inches other than sporting shotguns) and you intend to sell them, but only at gun shows, you do not need a Federal Firearms License.  Which is good, because I've got reason to worry about whether I'm approvable or not.

We are now one step closer to Torvaun being as well known a name as Winchester or Remington.  Or Garand.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I've been pretty busy.

Things I've done recently.  Consolidated all my debt into student loans.  Decided to apply to UW Madison's mechanical engineering school for next fall.  Hours and hours of metalcrafting.  Fewer hours of mechanical drafting.  Some computer work for a friend.  Pricing out my machine shop wishlist (Approx $16,000).  An astonishingly small amount of video-gaming, which has long been a stress-relief mainstay.  Searching for and downloading schematics for a variety of machines, which I'm using to get a head start on understanding the basics of mechanical engineering.  Figuring out what I'll need to do to convince someone to give me money to start a machining business (work in progress).

Monday, October 4, 2010

I am a left wing gun owner.

A magical, mythical beast!  The left-wing gun owner!  Get thee to the fainting couch!

Right.  Got that out of the way.  I think the biggest problem is the NRA.  Back in the day, I've heard they were good people.  Worried about making sure everyone who had a gun was using it safely and properly.  Using their expertise in the field to help draft effective legislation, like the National Firearms Act of 1934.  But now they seem to be taking the position that a heavily armed society is a polite society, pointing to every shooting and saying "this could have been stopped if everyone there was carrying a gun," citing the safety of legal gun owners, and forgetting that we are this safe because we have had safety drilled into our skulls since before we ever touched a firearm by the people who introduced us to them.  Legal ownership does not make someone a safe gun user.

The NRA has turned into nothing more than a lobbying organization playing on the legitimacy it once had.  It has done this at the behest of rich white people who think of guns as toys, and don't want to see the government getting in the way of their fun.  Now, I'll be the first to admit, shooting is fun.  At targets.  On a gun range.  While strictly observing the rules of safety.  I don't imagine myself whipping out a pistol at a mugger.  I don't imagine scenarios where me and a legally concealed handgun (not actually possible in Wisconsin) save the day from nefarious villains.  Well, I do imagine these scenarios, because I'm a prolific planner who believes and hopes that enough planning will prevent random horrors (including car accidents.  Yes, I'm deluded, and yes, cognitive dissonance sucks.)  But I don't fantasize about them.  I do not ever want to be in a situation where I need a gun.  I do not ever want to be in a situation where the best possible action is to end the life of another human being.  But I support gun ownership for people who can demonstrate safe handling and use of a gun, and I support concealed carry permits for the same after background checks and psychological evaluations.  Because if I or someone else encounter that horrible situation, I want the best possible action to be possible.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

It's been a while, I just don't really know what to talk about.

However, I am often hanging out in #teaspoons on the synIRC IRC network.  So if people are interested, you can probably find me there.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The world is now a little more like a Neal Stephenson novel.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20100921/ts_csm/327178

That link describes a new weapon.  The first of its kind.  A massively precise targeted virus attack intended to seize control of a specific industrial facility.  And then, presumably, destroy it.  This must be what people felt like back in the 40s when the atomic bomb was first unveiled.  But even that wasn't this kind of jump.  Atomic weapons were dropped from bombers, same as any other.  It was an incredible new mechanism, capable of letting one bomber destroy most of a city, but it was still a bomb dropped from a plane, impressive for smashing the incremental improvement curve.  This is transcendent.  It is a creation of the mind, something that could theoretically be done by anyone, and then carried in apparently in the pocket of an unknowing contractor until it has very real, very physical effects. 

The deliverer of this payload would pass any polygraph or brain scan.  They would have no suspicious contacts among friends or family.  They could be the most trustworthy employee you have, truly meaning you no ill-will.  And they would carry in a bomb capable of destroying your factory, a bomb that looks exactly like a useful piece of equipment, that has no markers, sets off no chemical sniffers, in the most refined version would be utterly undetectable.

I am a paranoiac.  This was only ever intensified by depression, eventually to the point where I was looking in the ceiling and the walls, and disassembling approximately everything I owned to look for signs of tampering.  And at my worst, I could have been infected by a weapon of this sort.  This could be considered the perfect payload.  Not the perfect weapon, I've got ideas on that that bypass many of the weaknesses this has, but Fat Man wasn't exactly a paragon of its kind either.  This is the first.  It will not be the last.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sometimes, the things you love don't love you back.

In my case, band saws.  Really, this is more a treatise on how no one is so smart they don't need to pay attention to safety, because I could easily have lost part or all of my thumb today if it weren't for shear* dumb luck.  The band saw is something akin to the platonic ideal of saws.  It is of industry.  This one is made to cut through hardened steel, and it will probably hit bone faster than nerve conduction velocity.  As it is, I felt the air blower that keeps the immediate work area clear on my thumb.  Further testing revealed that this is only possible within an inch of the blade.

Fingers are an interesting case as far as stuff getting chopped off.  They are completely controlled through tendons, ligaments, sinews, and all that other stuff I'd know about if I was a medical major of any sort.  No muscles in them.  To my mind, this should mean that they'd be easy as pie to make working prostheses for.  And, geek that I am, those would immediately need to be modded.  Current best ideas are a lighter, a laser pointer, or a thumb drive *rimshot*.  Comments suggesting other stuff to put in a prosthetic thumb or finger are on topic and probably hilariously awesome.


*I'm torn between not pointing out the joke and not having people tell me I did it wrong.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cargo shipping...

Cargo Ship.  It occurs to me I maybe shouldn't start with a TVTropes link, because it'll now take hours for you to get back here.  Regular readers will remember that I'm asexual.  Well.  I have found true beauty.  It is in precision.  In my machine tools program, I am spending basically a part time job worth of time each week shaping metal to my will.  I am using machines that have the ability to be more accurate than any of our tools can measure.  I can create physical objects exactly to theoretical specifications.  There is love, and it is in picking up a knurl so precisely you can't tell where it left off.

Now, despite the trope, no.  There is no having sex with a lathe.  The best possible result isn't all that great, and the worst is absolutely horrific.

Monday, September 6, 2010

It's been almost two weeks. And I don't give a shit.

People, when did you have any idea whatsoever what you wanted to do with your life?  I feel this lack of a goal, lack of a passion, is the most debilitating thing I'm currently dealing with.  Because I am good at planning.  I probably do it too much.  If I had even an iota of an idea what I wanted to do, I could work towards it.  I'd find a way.  But I'm left in this void, where no action seems effective because I don't know what the hell I'm trying to do.

This isn't Half-Life.  I can't just go in the one direction available to me and eventually I'll run into something that looks like plot.  This is Grand Theft Auto without quests.  All there is to do is drive around aimlessly, maybe randomly doing something on a whim.  But nothing lasts, nothing stays.  Where is purpose found?  Are there pills for that?

I think what's going to end up happening is I'm going to end up shackling myself to some charismatic person with a purpose and a goal and the need for people to help.  And there I'll be.  And that sounds like a cult, which bothers me, probably more for the accuracy I see in it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Goddamn, machine tools are awesome.

Well, this semester is looking to be awesome.  Specifically because the machine tools class is looking to be awesome.  Starting today we're doing stuff in the machine shop.  We are making things.  Shaping metal to our will.  Creating.

I have the feeling I'd do terribly as a philosophy major.  The act of creation is too important for me.  Right now my great hope is that at some point I'll have the opportunity to design and create something of my choosing.  I have numerous ideas on that point.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

School. Again.

So, I'm going back to school.  This is for a more practical reason than you might think.  In the past couple months, I've broken my elbow and suffered pneumonia.  This has led to five hospital visits and x-rays every time.  If I'm not a student, I don't have health insurance.  Paying for this semester of school is cheaper than paying for these medical bills.  Hopefully, this will work out, because if the insurance says that I can go to hell, I'm going to have to pay for both.

I'm going to be at the tech college.  Specifically, I'm in the Machine Tools Technician program.  This is for becoming someone who uses machine tools, not someone who services them.  Lathes and CNC machines and what not.  This interests me, I've wanted to know how to do this stuff for a while.  The ability to create what I need is almost an imperative in the psychological gestalt I've built.  I know how to cook, how to do carpentry, how to solder, how to understand what's wrong with many things, especially electronics, and I'm working on how to sew.  Machining metal objects is a logical progression.  At some point, I'd like to become more effective artistically as well, if for no other reason than to improve my ability to create sketches and designs and schematics.

I acquire.  Eventually maybe I'll find purpose, or at least use.

Monday, August 16, 2010

On love.

Here's two quotes.
"A man has both a penis and a brain, but only enough blood to use one at a time."
"It's the story of life.  Boy meets girl, boy gets stupid, boy and girl live stupidly ever after."

Now, I'm not fond of the first because it's cis-centric.  That is to say, not all men have a penis.  The second one is misogynistic in its implication that girl is already stupid.  So they aren't the greatest quotes in the world, but they point to something that I agree with.  Love/lust turns people into morons.  I read a few medical blogs, and the one thing they all have in common is at least one story about a guy who went into the ER with a story like "My girlfriend had never been with a guy who wasn't circumsized, and there was a steak knife..."  And now everyone cringes.  It also seems to lower inhibitions.  People in love do some seriously embarrassing stuff that they wouldn't dream of if they were in their right minds.  They permanently alter their body with tattoos with their partner's name.  And then they break up.  And now they can only ever date people with that name ever again.

I am an aromantic asexual.  I have never in my life felt erotic love (platonic, yes.  familial, yes.)  I go through life being astonished by the shockingly bad decisions people make while under the influence of that stupidest part of the brain.  But sometimes, I think it must be nice to be able to feel emotion so strong it shuts down everything else.  To trust another person so much that you'll allow yourself to be lured into extremely compromising positions that will then require the swift use of shitty excuses when you get caught by a parent coming home early or a child who couldn't sleep.  Then I realize that I don't even feel love, and it's still trying to con me into being a moron.  A powerful force indeed.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Is this a thing?

The thing in question: becoming a complete idiot during periods of physical exertion.

Backstory!  Today I was helping a friend move down in Madison.  She's kind of a hoarder, and so there was a lot of stuff, and it was a hot and humid day.  Also relevant to this story: I am an Eagle scout, and therefore have had to demonstrate my knowledge of common ailments that can suddenly come on while out in the boonies.  Like heat stroke and dehydration.  Also, not even two weeks ago when I was in the hospital getting diagnosed with pneumonia, I was so low on fluids that they were about 50/50 on using an IV to get me back up to par.  If you think this foreshadowing is about as subtle as a Pangalactic Gargle Blaster, you're absolutely right.  So yeah.  Didn't drink nearly enough fluids, did heavy lifting with my fractured elbow that I was under no circumstances supposed to do heavy lifting with, didn't stay out of the sun nearly enough.  And also failed to consider the effects of heavy physical labor in the hot sun, i.e. tiredness, especially in juxtaposition with a 2 hour drive home.  I was not a safe driver on this occasion, especially not in a piece of shit car that pulls to the right.  At least I realized it in time to pop a couple caffeine pills from the glove compartment before I ran off the road or something.

So, today I was a complete idiot.  My hypothesis is that it was related to physical exertion.  Provide supporting/dissenting anecdotes in comments, as well as whatever else you feel like responding to from this post.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Things I am doing.

Last night, I started a blog.  I also went digging through old game CDs for stuff to install that was fun.  Specifically, I was looking to scratch an itch by playing some RTS games, and I can't afford (and am unwilling to pirate) Starcraft 2.  First thing I pulled out, the Starcraft Battle Chest!  Which only had the Starcraft CD.  Brood War was MIA, and it's been at least three years since I've known where it is.  I did some looking, but no dice.

Next out of the box of old games was Age of Empires III.  After checking to make sure I had all the discs, I put the first CD in to install it.  And promptly ran into a warning stating that there were known compatibility issues between this game published by Microsoft Game Studios and Windows 7.  Am I the only one who thinks that that's bullshit?  Because it is.  This game was released in 2005.  Windows 7 was released 4 years later.  This is not like me trying to get multiplayer working on Baldur's Gate.  5 years, and, if not the same people, people working for the same company.  They should know how to make software that works together.

Something I noticed when playing.  Like their real-life counterparts, the Seminole tribe is hardcore.  They are my warriors of choice for almost everything, when I can get them.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Well, I guess this is the beginning, isn't it?

Hi.  I suppose I ought to say hello to anyone reading this, so there you go.

I'm Adam.  I'm also Torvaun.  Adam's the name I was given.  My Christian name, in some circles.  I've long since started considering it to be the name of my meat.  Non-euphemistically speaking.  Torvaun is a name I chose years ago.  It's the name of my mind.  I've got other names in other places, but here only those two matter.

I'm a genius, technically speaking.  Mensa says so, and who am I to disagree with a bunch of smart guys like them?  I also suffer from depression, which is kinda being treated.  I live in the US, and am mostly unemployed, so things like doctors and prescriptions get skimped on.  This plus some other things combines to make me into something I don't know that they've got a word for.  I'm very smart, able to pick up concepts and ideas quickly, and work through their ramifications.  But I do very little.  This blog is an attempt to change that.  To make one part of my life where I'm being held accountable to someone else.  To you.  A place where it doesn't matter if I'm sick or tired or busy, there's someone else expecting their blog fix for the day.

Maybe this will help me.  Maybe I'll pick up some focus.  Or the act of creating something will help mitigate my depression.  Maybe it'll be nothing more than a little writing practice.  But it will be something, even if every reader I'm talking to right now consists entirely of me.

Honestly, I don't know what's going to show up on this blog.  I've skipped around a lot, academically speaking.  First was math.  I liked math, I was good at it.  It made sense.  But eventually I hit a wall, where I couldn't go any further without some serious work, work I wasn't willing to put in.  Programming!  It's kinda like math, right?  And there were all these visions of being a 'leet haxxor.'  Electronics then.  I've always enjoyed making stuff with my hands.  I played with Legos and K'nex when I was a kid.  I understood electricity.  Natural development!  I ended up getting an AS in computer electronics.  If you're not familiar with AS, it means Associate of Science.  It's a two year degree, as opposed to the four year Bachelor's programs.  I'm not sure how common it is in other parts of the world, for me, it basically meant I couldn't get shit as a job.  Electronics are disposable these days, no one fixes them, and no one needs to.  It might be useful for design work, but not only an AS.  It's been a while since I've done much with electronics.  I picked up chemistry as a hobby.  Incendiaries, explosives, acids, bases, solvents.  Hard to get a lot of stuff.  Apparently only terrorists and huge corporations are supposed to care about chemistry.

So, that's me.  A smattering of education across the hard sciences.  Unused to hard work, which I hate, and want to change.  Unemployed for two years and twenty-six days, other than some tech work I do sometimes for friends of the family.  And I'm starting a blog.