Happy Armstrong Day!

It’s sad to admit, but I had to be reminded by Google’s banner, and by a quick look at the calendar, that today is Armstrong Day, the anniversary of the first Moon landing.

Those of us who remember watching the events of that July evening can go back in memory and touch it any time. We remember where we were, and who was in the room, and probably even the TV set itself, and those little black and white pictures, so crummy by modern video standards, that actually came from another world.

We thought it was only the beginning, the first step on the great journey to the planets and beyond, and to the future we thought was inevitable, with its flying cars and power to cheap to meter and a cure for cancer and, yes, cities on the Moon.

What it was, of course, was a high water mark, the peak of the postwar Great Good Years. Whatever genuine promise the events of July 29th, 1969 might have had (and that is debatable), it was lost in the static of history, or overwhelmed by the weight of the world’s real problems, or both. We still may achieve some of those dreams, but my hope of seeing it happen in my lifetime is rather less confident than it was the summer I turned eight, and sat up in the crickety darkness, watching television.

I’m glad we didn’t know then what we know now, and I’m glad I’m old enough to remember.

So many of you are out there are too young to remember the Moon Landing, and I don’t know how much the idea means to you. It’s like Pearl Harbor was to us, or the Kennedy assassination. It’s what 9/11 will be to those who’ve been born recently.  Just the past, which is all compacted into a solid mass: Ancient Rome, the Renaissance, the Constitution, the Civil War, everything that happened before our living memory, all pressed into a single block.  But trust me,  it’s nice to have a milestone to remember that was, at least at the time, a happy one. Let’s hope there are more to come.

Happy Armstrong Day, everyone.


Published in: on July 30, 2008 at 12:09 am  Comments (1)  
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Month’s end roundup, January 2008

It’s the last day of January already, and since one of the things I wanted to do with this new blog was sum up each month as it passes, it’s time to try it for the first time.  A month strikes me as the logical place to pause for an evaluation; not a short enough time that the thought is always breathing down one’s neck, but not long enough to forget all  about it and take one’s eye off the ball.

If one may be permitted to mix a metaphor.

This January has been a long month, and while I feel like I have been treading water, I’ve actually accomplished quite a lot.  I had my eyes examined, ordered new frames, had both pairs of my glasses made, and went through a particularly unpleasant Eyeball Twisting Week as my astigmatism was rather forcibly corrected by my own eye muscles.  It began a week ago yesterday and seems to be pretty much over.  My eyes haven’t watered at all today, and I’ve stopped having to blink to bring things into focus.  Very disconcerting, that.

I picked a new blogging site, and started this nifty new blog.  And, to my delight, a lot of you followed me here and have even posted comments.  Thank you muchly.

I’ve made surprising advances in my on-and-off interest in computers.  Most of this can be attributed to my growing affection for my new ASUS Eee PC,  which was a Christmas gift from Mr. Shark.  I’m using it a lot for writing and editing, and it has inspired in me a vague desire to learn something about Linux.   How weird is that?  I’ve acquired a couple of books and a disk with a core install of Fedora and some basic apps, and Mr. Shark says he will build me a Linux box to mess around with out of spare parts (apparently it doesn’t have to be particularly state of the art) as soon as he has finished building his own new PC.  In the interests of furthering my education he let me install the OS on his new system (under careful supervision, of course) and it was actually pretty cool.  More to come on this, I think.

But the Eee is proving practical right now, since I’m getting a lot of extra writing done in my spare time.  One of the projects that have moved to the new platform is writing “Hopelessly Lost, But Making Good Time”, my monthly column for Sequential Tart.  I’ve started a new series about superhero characters in comics, and the next few installments are already outlined.  Part one is finished and should be out on February first, at www.sequentialtart.com

I finished the script for my next minicomic, very moody and experimental, discovered the seed for an upcoming issue of Kekionga, and finished both covers for  Kekionga #2.  Random pages are partially pencilled, and the whole issue is thumbnailed.  This is where the month kind of fell down–I was hoping to be a little further along with that comic at this point, but part of that can be blamed on the damned Eyeball Twisting. 

Otherwise, it was a cold, snowy January.  I walked when I could, and will always remember Toby showing me the hawk.  Chester is doing well, in spite of the cold, which is hard on an old dog.  I worked well enough, making real progress every day, if not always on the “right” projects. 

My goal for next month is to work substantially, every day, on finished pages for Kekionga #2, and to get ready for SPACE,  my first con of the year, at the end of the month.  If I do anything new for the show, it will be produced in my spare time and will not interfere with the first goal. I hope.

And February is the month of the Auto Show, which means NSC will be returning, at long last, to its roots as an occasional car blog.  

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll stick around for the second month of version 2.0.


Published in: on February 1, 2008 at 4:07 am  Comments (1)  
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Somewhat less vexed and ratty.

Hmm.  Things seem to be looking up, as three out of four of yesterday’s rantworthy problems seem to be solved, or are at least showing progress.

UPS arrived at the sterling hour of 7:10 pm yesterday– our neighbor at the wheel of the brown truck, looking like he’d had a long day.  The motherboard, once unfrozen, seemed to actually work.  Mr. Shark reported seeing the BIOS setup screen (or some damn thing that it’s good to see) before he had to stop work for the evening.  He says he will give me all the specs of the new computer when he gets it up and running, and I will share them with you.

Aren’t you lucky?

 I got my newspaper this morning.  Snarky emails containing the word “unacceptable” continue to work their magic, particularly when accompanied by promises to take the problem to the same paper’s editoral staff.  Apparently there is such a thing as bad publicity.   We will file this under pending, since there isn’t really much more they can do to fix it except deliver a paper every morning.  Well, apologies and sucking up might help too.

And, best of all, I have my new glasses– both pairs.  I had substantial changes in all three of my corrections and a large shift in my astigmatism to boot, so it’s going to take some getting used to, but I can tell everything is basically right.  So now I feel like I’m alternately living in HiDef and am about to fall over.  It’ll pass.

A huge shout out to my very favorite eye doctor in the whole world, Dr. F, and her lovely sidekicks P and T, who got my scrip just right, my glasses described so the lab was able to get everything in the right place, and the new specs fitted perfectly, respectively.

And to Vick at the Optometrist Attic, what can I say?  Full sized, traditional frames, not the teeny weeny “fashion” ones?  On the internet?  At a fair price?  You rock.

The last problem was the weather. Still damn cold.  What can you do?

On the work front, both covers of Kekionga #2 are finished!  Now it’s a matter of coloring them, but that’s a huge step forward.  I’m quite happy with them.  The front is a strong but simple portrait of Soup with Josef standing on his shoulders, as he’s seen partway through the issue, and the back is an out-take– full length figures of Bud and Sumac, sharing a moment of conversation that takes place a few minutes after the end of the story.

Maybe we’re getting somewhere.  I sure hope so.


Published in: on January 25, 2008 at 7:27 am  Comments (2)  
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complaints and ranting

Today, I am in a temper.  I am vexed and ratty.

1) It is 3:30 pm and UPS has not come and delivered the motherboard for Mr. Shark’s new PC, which the tracking system claims is scheduled to arrive today.  I have been putting things off waiting for the UPS man, and soon I will not have enough time to finish anything.  Also, if the motherboard does not get here by the time Mr. Shark gets home, there is the risk of another person getting vexed and ratty when he cannot work on his project.

2) It’s damn cold. Grey as a cloud and just as damp and about 10 degrees, so nobody feels like going for a walk. While at the same time, everyone is grumpy as all get out because they have not gone for a walk.  I can ride my exercise bike, but that does nothing for the dogs.

3) Our main newspaper, to which we have subscribed for 23 years without incident, seems to have decided that we do not need to get a complete paper every single day.  This is a famous, major market newspaper that is highly respected nationally, and if they do not get back on the ball, you will see another entry here naming names and providing you, the blogosphere, with all the hot and juicy details of my repeated attempts to get them to deliver my damn newspaper.  I know this is old fashioned, but I think I should get what I pay for.

4) Finally, and worst, please let my new glasses be finished soon.  My astigmatism has changed again and I’m starting to get headaches from my old glasses. Plus I’m too cheap to buy a second pair of new frames for my studio glasses, the ones with the special correction I need to work at the computer and the drawing board for prolonged periods, so I don’t have those at all.  The Sharkipede is so tired of peering and squinting!

There.  Four things that have me ticked off to various degrees.  Thanks for letting me vent; I will come back when I am in a better mood.  Or later, whichever comes first.


Published in: on January 24, 2008 at 3:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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Shining flashlights on expensive TVs in public places

I know this sounds rather pointless, but if you have any idea at all of buying an HDTV sometime, please read! 

If you were in our local big box electronics store yesterday (well, not our local BBES, but the bigger one in the next county where they have the premium stuff) you would have seen Mr. Shark shining his Streamlight pocket flashlight at a series of moderately pricey HDTVs while I squinted at them.

Performance art project? Momentary insanity? Impulsive act of silliness?

Nope.  Serious product evaluation going on here. 

I’m including this here because I’m pretty sure a lot of you out there in the blogosphere are in the same boat as the Sharkipede household, where we are thinking about upgrading our AV entertainment setup in anticipation of the coming digitization.

Yes, we watch TV here, and we enjoy it.

So, anyway, we are shopping for an HDTV. Not a cheap crummy one, though not a top of the line one either, pretty though they are.  (I am not going to pay more for a TV than I paid for my car.  Sorry, but that’s how I feel.)  We are not ready to buy yet, but we are steadily narrowing things down.  We know we want an LCD, and are getting an idea what tech specs yield the kind of picture results we are looking for. 

Mr. Shark is the primary person on this project and will probably make the final choice.  He’s certainly doing most of the research, since reading TV specs on the Internet in teeny tiny print is major MEGO for the Sharkipede.  I mostly go along to look at the sets and complain about how the stores tune, or fail to tune, the color.

But this week Mr. Shark latched onto an idea that had never occured to us before: the issue of screen reflectivity.  Some LCD screens have incredibly shiny surfaces that reflect light sources in the surrounding room in a very distracting way, others have a kind of matte surface that diffuses light sources into vague clouds. 

If you intend to use your HDTV setup as a screening room,  strictly for watching movies in the dark, then this may not matter.  But if you want to watch TV in the usual way, in a lighted room while doing other things,  a highly reflective screen could be extremely distracting.

Hence the flashlight bit.  This turned out to be a real brainwave on Mr. Shark’s part, as we discovered that a set we were strongly considering was horribly reflective, while several other brands had excellent diffusion.

So if you are a regular watcher who integrates TV into everyday living, take a little flashlight with you when you go shopping for a new set.  (An LED penlight that makes a tight, bright white point gives the most dramatic results. ) It’s only good sense to spend your limited “meaningless entertainment” budget wisely. 


Published in: on January 12, 2008 at 10:30 pm  Comments (4)  
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Welcome to version 2.0

This is the first post in version 2.0 of my blog, No Silver Cars.  I hope that all my readers will eventually find their way here, and enjoy more of what brought you to LJ for the original NSC.

I can promise cartooning comments and updates, neighborhood adventures, and of course, more car spotting and  my characteristic rants about the state of the auto industry.  All your favorite characters will continue to appear: Mr. Shark, the corgis, and Junior the Buick, plus friends in various stages of disguise to protect everyone’s privacy.

I will not promise daily updates, but I hope to post at least twice a week.  The various problems, with LJ and “real life” that lead to the demise of the previous version have been more or less solved, I hope, so things should go more smoothly this time around.

The last hours of 2007 are ticking away, and I hope everyone is ready for an interesting 2008.  And that you’ll spend some of it reading the new No Silver Cars.


Published in: on January 1, 2008 at 4:44 am  Comments (4)  
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