Regional Diversity at OCF

I don’t think I have any regular readers in Hawaii or Alaska.  Every once in a while, someone from the 49th and 50th states show up.  But it’s uncommon.  But in every other region of the United States, I have regular readers.

In the Northeast we have folks from all of the New England States and New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

In the Midwest we’ve got folks from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.  I see readers from Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and, every once in a while, North Dakota.

In the South we’ve got readers in Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and even Washington, D.C.  We have folks in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and once in a while Arkansas.

In the West we’ve got folks in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and less frequently somebody from New Mexico clicks in.  And on the West Coast California and Washington are well represented and Oregon shows up less frequently.

And we have folks from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Brazil, Argentina, the UK, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Hungary, Czechia, Serbia, Poland, Spain, Ukraine, Russia, China, Japan, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Australia and New Zealand.  Although the numbers are much smaller and many of these places are very infrequent readers.

To my knowledge we’ve never had a reader from North Korea even during President Trump’s attempts at détente.  But as long as they can enjoy a joke about Dementia Joe Biden and respect macrophotography as an artform then I see no reason why we couldn’t trade opinions across the interwebs together.

So, I guess you could say that diversity is Orion’s Cold Fire’s strength.  But I suspect that in terms of political diversity we may be a little deficient.  I remember long ago I had a Bernie Bro reader but I’m not sure he’s still with us.  One thing that is interesting I approximate that the ratio of commenters to readers is about 1/30.  I’ve never figured out how to increase that numerator.  When I do it will make things a lot more lively around here.

So, maybe it’s time to put out a poll and tack it to the main page of the site and find out what people consider to be their political stripe.  If I haven’t given you choice that corresponds to your politics feel free to leave it in the comments.  Maybe I’ll come up with a few other topical questions to find out the opinions of the readers.  And if anyone from the places that I say read less frequently disagrees please leave a note and correct my misconception.


What Would You Call Your Politics?

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Where the Hell is photog?

For the last three or four days I’ve been dying.  I guess it’s the latest bout of COVID.  Coughing, congestion, headache, possible heart failure, possible kidney failure, possible dementia; the whole nine yards.  So add that to the arrival of Little Evil Dog and my subsequent abandonment by Camera Girl and you can only imagine the desperate straits I’ve been living through.

I cried out from the wilderness, “Camera Girl, Camera Girl, why hast thou forsaken me?!”

Slowly, slowly, I have stepped back from the very threshold of Death itself.  Today I was able to ingest “hammy eggy” (actually; scrambled eggs, pumpernickel bagel and coffee) and can once again take my rightful place on the cultural firing line.  And my brush with the Grim Reaper has renewed my lust for life.  Everything seems new again.  For me once again Kamala Harris lights up the world with her psychedelic stupidity, her florescent numbskullery.  I long to hear her discuss the space program or quantum entanglement or even school buses.

Give me AOC and Jeffrey Nadler arguing for more homeless migrants in the face of an angry mob of New Yorkers shouting “Build the Wall.”  Give me clips of Joe Biden misreading a teleprompter in front of a crowd of Vietnamese airport baggage handlers.  Let me be serenaded by Mitt Romney providing the Republican case for pedophilia.  It’s all back and it’s all new again.

I feel like George Bailey running down Main Street, Bedford Falls at the end of “It’s Wonderful Life.”  He knows he will be sent to prison for the rest of his life because Uncle Billy is an alcoholic doofus but by golly there’s still that last glass of scotch from Nick at Martini’s.  And where has that Violet Bick gotten to anyway?  That’s a very interesting situation!  Maybe she’s still at the bus station.  Hmmm.

Seriously, I was a little under the weather.  If I had blogged anything yesterday it would have been incoherent at best.  Of course, some might say it wouldn’t have been noticed but I hold myself to a higher standard.  If I can’t remember the laptop password I step away from the keyboard.  It’s as simple as that.

Luckily I didn’t miss anything yesterday.  Our march to Idiocracy continues at its relentless, steady pace.  No more and no fewer than fifty thousand illegal aliens crossed the border.  The requisite number of law suits were filed against Donald Trump and Joe Biden sent another billion dollars to the Ukraine.  God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world.

As I screech like a baby raven in the nest for Camera Girl’s attention to get my fair share of her domestic and medical care I feel renewed purpose in documenting our civilization’s dizzy descent into the maelstrom of voluntary self-annihilation.  I find myself now calm about witnessing the plunge into Charybdis.  After all, it’s a very important story.  The death of a mighty empire like ours only happens once every thousand years or so.  Recording its death throes is a worthy project and I’ll be following in the footsteps of such worthies as Thucydides and St. Augustine.  Of course mine is more of an Aristophanic or Mad magazine version.  Nevertheless, posterity will honor me.

So here we go.

Wise Penelope

Περίφρων Πηνελόπεια – Wise Penelope

Can you read wisdom in that gaze?  I’m not sure.  But Penelope she is.  Or Penny for short.  And her mistress, Camera Girl. possesses the virtues of Odysseus’s celebrated wife in abundance; patience, cleverness and faithfulness.  So Penny it shall be.

Is that the face that launched a thousand ships?  Well no.  But maybe a thousand smiles.

Summer Critters 2023


This summer has been a particularly bad time to get out and take photos around the grounds and in general around Dunwich. It basically rains all the time. And I mostly don’t care to walk around in the rain.  Oh, I’ll do it from time to time just to escape from imprisonment but I’m not one of those people who enjoys “soft weather,” nope.

But we have had a few sightings of the local vertebrate fauna.

Starting with the lower rungs we’ve had the usual frogs and salamanders

And a few snakes

And more than our fair share of turtles

Including an attack on the main dwelling by this evil creature

With respect to birds I got this shot in a week or two ago in the puddle of a Great Blue Heron

And of course Camera Girl’s flock of turkeys show up for the casual photos around the bird feeder area.

As for mammals this year has been sort of barren of the unusual

We’ve had some rabbits breeding in the fields

And a fox or two.

But yesterday something new surfaced.

I was walking in the yard and as I passed the front shore of the puddle I saw vigorous rippling motion in the water and then a long thin outline breaking the water repeatedly.  The impression was of a weasel shaped creature but of a decently large size.  My impression was it was too large to be a mink.  And it was very aquatic in its motions, very graceful.  It was surfacing and diving in a continuous circle.  Every once in a while I could see the yellow color of a fish being dragged up to the surface.

I think it’s a river otter.  I tried to take some photos but they were pretty bad.  I only had a 90mm lens and it was relatively far away from the shore I was on.

I told Camera Girl to be careful about letting Little Evil Dog (LED) chase after anything near the water.  Weasels in general are incredibly fierce and LED is far from a great warrior.  I’d hate to see him become lunch for a large aquatic weasel.  It would be embarrassing for all involved.

Now I understand otters are tremendously able hunters of fish and the puddle is none too large.  I could imagine this creature emptying it of fish in a matter of a few days.  This would probably doom the giant snapper that also resides in the puddle.  A regular disaster for the ecosystem.  Ah, whatever.  We’re Darwinists here in Dunwich.  Survival of the fittest is our motto.  So bring it on otter and I await the outcome.  Let God and the Devil sort out their crews.

10SEP2023 – OCF Update

Up through Tuesday I’ll be scrambling around from chore to chore.  It will all culminate with the arrival of the very important canine that will replace me as monarch of this realm.  But I will do my darnedest to post my photos and quotes and even attempt to express myself in lucid hexameter (or something).  My feelings about the future have shifted into a decidedly more  pragmatic approach.  Fixing the republic is a pipe dream.  Surviving in the belly of the beast is the order of the day.  And who knows, maybe in the long run we’ll make some progress against the monsters.

Today is a family gathering and it should be fun.  Tomorrow is a catch up day at work and Tuesday is a travel day.  I will try to forget the 9/11 memorial.  They’ve poisoned it by using it as a weapon against our own people.  If tomorrow planes were flown into steel towers in Manhattan I’d ask the victims why they were still there?  What’s the difference between jumping out of a hundred story window and being beaten to death by a gang of feral teenagers out for a laugh?  I think I’d prefer the leap.  Less pain.

Well, I hope your Sunday goes well and I’ll speak to you soon.

Real Artificial Intelligence

Many people have heard at some point in their educational careers that in 79 A.D. Mount Vesuvius erupted and completely buried the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum that were located at the foot of the volcano.  Vesuvius is located adjacent to the present Italian city Naples.

What most people are unaware of is that during excavations of Herculaneum in 1752 a building was discovered that contained ancient books, or more accurately, papyrus scrolls.  Unfortunately the heat from the lava flow had reduced these scrolls to carbonized lumps.  For the last two hundred years and more scholars have attempted to unroll these carbonized scrolls and read their text.  The painstaking work has only been minimally successful and mostly they’ve managed to find a small amount of text while basically destroying the scrolls.

But now modern medical imaging technology and advanced machine vision and machine learning techniques have combined to produce a possible way to read these ancient books.  Using x-ray tomography images that look through the burned books can help identify layers where ink appears on the papyrus.  Combining this with computer mapping of the ink locations the scroll can be “virtually unrolled” to reveal the text on the ancient remnant.  The proof of concept has now been performed on a small bit of the scan.  The challenge is to do this for the bulk of the document.  It is a daunting task because of the terribly distorted shape of the scrolls.

Now a million dollar prize has been offered for any silicon valley type who is savvy enough to take the scans and turn it into a readable text.

For most people this is meaningless.  Interest in even the books written a few years ago pales in comparison to watching a “TikTok” video of some vapid “influencer” describing her workout routine or grapefruit-papaya diet or other earth-shaking events. These old arcane texts have no bearing on their lives.  And the scrolls currently unearthed are the works of an unimportant Roman philosopher.  But it is believed that the rest of the unexcavated building is the repository of a very large private library that may contain many lost works by the best classical authors of Greece and Rome.  The lost tragedies of Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides and the comedies of Aristophanes and lost histories that we currently only know the names of would be immensely interesting to scholars and also people like me who find remarkable relevance in these testaments from thousands of years ago.

So the fact that finally there seems to be some real progress on this project that has gone on for centuries, I find fascinating.  But my skeptical nature also forbids me from allowing unbounded enthusiasm to blind me to the likely outcome; failure.

So I share this with you, my readers, to let you know what I find to be the real progress that “AI” can provide to the world.  Not ChatGPT which just automates the nitwittery found on TikTok but instead the brute force restoration of books that were burned to a crisp by a volcanic eruption almost two thousand years ago.  A computer program guided by state of the art imaging technology plucking lost works from antiquity out of a pile of ashes.  That’s magic.

The Top of the Swing

Tomorrow is the unofficial end of summer.  My family will gather for one last barbecue and the kids will swim in the pool one last time.  Hot dogs and burgers will be cooked on the grill and everyone will talk about what’s coming up in the fall.  We’ll throw around a baseball and swat mosquitoes.  Good stuff.

But the forecast is recording an oddity.  At least it’s odd for this year.  We have a seven-day forecast where the chance of rain is zero.  So now that it’s September and the kids have to retreat to the schoolroom it’s going to be real summer weather with highs in the nineties, something we rarely saw at all in July and August.  Ah, the weather gods!

Well, it’s very ungracious for the kids but a late blast of heat will be welcomed by me.  It won’t revive my vegetable garden or provide new life to the flowering plants but it will provide a backdrop to enjoy the transition to autumn.  And it will give me a chance to do some of the repairs and the preparation for winter.  I can collect up all the yard and lawn equipment and store it away more carefully than I usually do and fix that gate that’s been hanging crooked for a couple of years.  And this year I’ll bed down some of the more sensitive shrubs so they don’t get frost-burned if the snow cover fails again.

So, the late heat wills serve a purpose.  But more than that it will give me a chance to reflect on 2023.  Most people do their thinking in the winter.  The long evenings and the retreat from the outside are conducive to reflection.  But I like late summer.  I like to walk around after the kids are back in school and think about how the world is shifting.  I like to feel the shift in the cycle.  The days are already shorter but the heat of summer is still there and the growth is about to stall.  It’s like we’re at the top of some kind of pendulum swing.  The forward momentum has died and for just a second, we’re suspended in free fall, just hanging there.  In the next moment gravity will pull us down, but just for that moment we can imagine the whole of creation at perfect equilibrium and with no future or past to consider.  The Garden of Eden before the Fall.

And that’s the payoff of the year for me.  If I can have those few golden days at the end, I’m reconciled to the reality of a New England winter.  After all we’ll have Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas to break up the dreariness and I’ll be busy with work and snow removal and chores and I should be busy with writing so the time will pass.  And Camera Girl will have her new puppy to keep her busy.  So, the world will take care of itself.

But for just a short time every year I try to shake loose from the day-to-day thoughts and just try to feel the Earth turning under my feet, try to hear the cicadas running out of sap and watch the mechanical dragonflies winding down to a stop.  At play in the fields of the Lord for at least one more year.


Meet the Breeder

I am a profoundly lazy man.  Disrupting my routine for onerous activities is highly disagreeable to me.  But Camera Girl possesses super powers that no one else in the world has.  At the utterance of a word, I will move heaven and Earth to keep her happy.  So as promised today I crossed beyond the reasonable boundaries of time and space so that she could meet with the breeder of her new puppy.  And there was much joy and rejoicing for Camera Girl and for me, the wailing and gnashing of teeth, because I know what lies before me.  But as a veteran husband in good standing, I know that a happy wife makes for a happy life.  Well, at least if the wife is a good one.

But I fully realize that this new addition to the household will wreak havoc with my peace of mind.  It’s bound to do many things that will irk me.  It will chew and destroy many of my possessions.  It will inevitably decide that my feet are the chew toys that it will choose to embed its pin sharp baby teeth in.  And without a doubt it will pee on anything I leave around within its sphere of control.  This will not be easy.  But it must be done.  So off we went to the breeder’s.

Now all dog breeders are crazy people.  This is indisputable fact.  But the level and type of insanity varies greatly within the group.  And the breeder we met with today was a very benign case and also a very nice woman to boot.  She had kids and grandkids and even sounded like a conservative based on her statements about crime and punishment that came out incidentally while we conversed.  I guess whenever I speak to someone some of my preferred topics bleed into the conversation unintentionally.  But hearing it did make the conversation more pleasant.

And when we met the little whelp, it would have taken a heart of stone not to smile at the sight of this floppy eared furball cradled on Camera Girl’s lap while she petted and crooned at the diminutive canine.  She smiled and carried on with the breeder about all their opinions about this type of dog and all the qualities real and imaginary that they imbued them with.  She was ecstatic.

Now this is directly linked to our granddaughter’s entry into kindergarten yesterday.  Camera Girl has been in a period of mourning over the loss of her time with this little girl.  Her maternal instinct was crying out for something to mother.  Well, in my book a puppy isn’t a child.  But it is a surrogate for one.  It is small, helpless and needs mothering so if this creature can transition her through the maturing of her grandchildren from babies to school children, then so be it.  I’m on board.

And it’s definitely better than the Belgian Giant rabbit that she was earlier proposing.  That would have seen me trundling all winter out in the snow to feed, clean and water said rabbit.  And when all is said and done a dog is a hundred times better than a rabbit.  And a Belgian one at that!

So, I spent all of today travelling back and forth to wilds of northern New England on this quest and a return journey will be necessary in the next week or so to pick up the little refugee not to mention the thousands of dollars needed to purchase, medicate, vaccinate and equip it for life at the Compound.

But it’s short money.  The good will I’ve already purchased is priceless.  Suddenly I’m the conquering hero.  I’ve made all her dreams come true.  Of course, it won’t last forever but for at least the next year she’s got a project that will energize and satisfy her feminine instincts.

And I won’t have to deal with some stupid Belgian rabbit.  Take that Brussels!


I’ve looked over my output for the last year.  It’s all the same thing.  It’s all been said.  I can’t say it again.

At this point talking about what needs to be done has very little value.  So, I’ll talk about things that I find interesting.  Maybe it’ll be technology or science or photography or science fiction or maybe it’ll be some current event that I think is noteworthy.  I’ll try to keep the outrage over Biden’s atrocities to a minimum since we all know they’re coming and talking about them doesn’t really accomplish anything.

If I see something happening that is progress, that’ll be discussed.  For instance, the red state governors sending illegal aliens to sanctuary cities worked!  It struck a nerve, it discombobulated them.  It was successful and that is newsworthy and worth discussion.  And if someone has some original and thought-provoking theory on how the world will be changing in the future and I think it’s worth discussing I might link to it and put in my two cents.

As I get a chance to make some progress on my sf book, I’ll probably put a few chunks of it up for comment.  And I’ll start doing more reviews of movies and books.  But banging on the “something must be done” drum has gotten too dull.  I’m preaching to the choir and the choir will start heading for the doors soon.

Things will be changing but hopefully folks will still find stuff here that they find interesting and worthwhile.  So, my daily announcement that the sky is falling has been cancelled and instead I’ll leave something entertaining.


22AUG2023 – Scenes from a Family Gathering

Christmas Cooking, Sony A7 III, Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens

Driving from a rural area toward a megalopolis is almost always a frustrating experience.  The closer you get to the heart of darkness, the worse the traffic becomes and the more likely it is that you will accidentally cross the event horizon and be sucked in, never to break free of the bumper-to-bumper traffic of the black hole collapse.  Or so it seems to me.

By comparison driving in the reverse direction, away from the beast, feels like a continuously increasing sense of relief as the road and the entrances become less and less congested and the craziest of the homicidal drivers are left behind or at least no longer have the traffic density needed to ensure maximum mayhem.

Now all of that was true yesterday as I arrived and departed from the party that I travelled to.  But despite the tension of defying the human density gradient around the suburbs of Gotham City I was sorry that the party couldn’t have been extended indefinitely.

Everything about the gathering was congenial.  It was almost the entire family.  And that’s no mean feat.  We are many and we are scattered much more than in the past.  And Sunday is a tough day for travelling.  Saturday being the optimal day to allow for recovery before work resumes.

And everyone there was splendidly sociable.  The talk was the usual mixture of family events, politics, current events and reminiscing about crazier things and planning for crazier things.  And I learned things that I had never known about people I know very well.  And I saw what the youngest generation is starting to look like when they socialize.  And despite all the dire warnings and predictions they seemed quite healthy and normal.

Of course, food is always a highly important component of one of these shindigs and the hostess was extremely wise in her choices and provisioning.  There were several completely different themes with respect to the menu and there was never any danger of running out of the favorites which is always comforting.  I will admit that I no longer make the impact on the buffet table that I used to.  And that is necessary.  I wouldn’t have survived my former exploits as a trencherman.  But I still grazed high and low and tried a bit of everything.  Wonderful.

But the highlight is when the old bulls stagger into a corner, collapse into a circle of chairs and start pontificating about what’s wrong with the world and what we should do about it.  And eventually we come to agreement that things are going to go to hell no matter what we say or do and then we come to agreement that at least the world has us in it to make it a world worth living in.  Now this was what I remember when the old bulls were my father’s and my grandfather’s generations laying down the law and telling us what was wrong with my generation.  And now, heaven help me, I’m at my grandfather’s age and making my last speeches before shuffling off the stage permanently.  What a strange thing time is.

And just in time the cake and coffee are served and we lapse into a warm glow of caffeine and pastry ingredients.  And all too soon it’s time to go.  We need to leave before it’s too late to make the drive back.  But of course, there is at least a half hour of goodbyes, to each and every one.  Back slapping and hugs and hand shakes for one and all and then last-minute details remembered and plans for the next gathering.  And then we’re on the road and headed home.  But the glow from the party is still with us.  We talk about what we’ve heard and seen.  We talk about those who couldn’t make it and those who are gone.  But it’s all a happy feeling.  A good feeling.

The country and the world have gone straight to hell.  There’s no denying it.  But good things still exist.  And the best of those things is family, is the humanness of family.  The ties that bind and the hope for a future and the precious, priceless treasure of the young in our midst.

The world is not all ruin and depravity.  There is hope.  And I can see it when we get together.