Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Ok, I'll admit it. I had one foot on the pogo stick just now. The little guy on my left shoulder wanted me to go for it. The little guy on my right shoulder reminded me that I'm 45, I have bad knees and it would be incredibly embarrassing for my wife to come home and find me on the floor.

I'm still not ruling it out, but I decided to proceed on the side of caution this time.
And then there are Christmas presents.

Presents on any occasion can be hit or miss. You might pick out that one thing they really wanted, or you might buy them something that's "nice".

So it's always good when you know that you've scored a hit. Snake Eater, Jr. got a knit hat that reminds me of a Tibetan style hat--tassles and so forth, but it's apparently very stylish. He has been wearing it for some 36 straight hours now. He also got a lacrosse stick--the only part of the lacrosse ensemble he had been missing. He already had a helmet, gloves, etc. I've had to throw him and his stick out of the house several times already.

The Bear got a pair of Winnie the Pooh socks that make me laugh every time I see them, and of all things, a pogo stick. She specifically requested the pogo stick. I never had one, but I had friends who had them, and every pogo stick I've ever seen looks cheesy next to this thing. It's one seriously hot pogo stick. Neoprene handles, the business end looks like a Monroe shock absorber...

And then there's the dog. Zephyr got a dog bed from Santa. Part of the fun was when the Bear went downstairs to let Zephyr out of her crate and found that Santa had left Zephyr a bed, the rest of the fun has been in just how much Zephyr enjoys the bed. She's one active dog, but she does come in to get some rest from time to time. She knows the bed now and heads right for it. She definitely enjoys the new bed.

Monday, December 26, 2005

There's a story out that Michael Jackson is in the hospital, having tried to do himself in with alcohol and demerol.

I have an acquaintance with demerol. I had a chronically dislocating shoulder (trashed it while being dragged across a drop zone in Minnesota in February--I was actually headed for the front door of the officers' club when two guys jumped on my parachute and collapsed it). After they surgically fixed the shoulder I was put on demerol for a few days. I was quite the comic act after that. I couldn't sleep on the fixed shoulder, obviously; I couldn't sleep on the other side as the fixed shoulder would flop over, couldn't sleep on my stomach as the shoulder would flop forward—I could only sleep on my back. So they'd come in with this HUGE needle and stick the demerol in my posterior. The needle was, indeed, HUGE. I left blood streaks on the sheets every night. Given that I could only sleep on my back and I'd just been lanced in my buttocks, I'd pace back and forth, pushing my IV bag on a stand, until I was literally staggering around the room. My roommates got a big charge out of it. "Let's watch him stagger around the room again..." Once I was sufficently “under the influence”, I could flop into bed and go to sleep.

It's hard to impart it, but I was quite a comic act for a while.

As far as Michael Jackson...I'm not going to hold my breath.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A doubly special day tomorrow. Not only the 25th of December, but also 25 Kislev.

So to all, a merry Christmas or a joyous Hannukah. If if you celebrate neither, enjoy the warmth and fellowship of the holidays.

Busy week here, but I look forward to ranting to all of my online friends.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I've posted recipes in the past, but I haven't posted one in quite some time.

The recipes I've posted in the past have mostly been “family” recipes, handed down. This one's a bit different. I originally got it from a magazine and it immediately found a place as a holiday staple. After moving back to the US I misplaced the recipe, but just by luck I recalled that it was credited to The Inn at Ormsby Hill. I sent them an email asking for the recipe and they responded that the chef who prepared it was longer with them, but they took the trouble to forward my email to him and he responded and sent me the recipe. So, many thanks to the inn as well as to Chef Don Burd. I don't know where Chef Burd is cooking these days, but I'd definitely recommend it. He's a terrific cook and a great guy. I'd also recommend the inn. Never been there, but after living in New Hampshire, I can tell you that any inn located in New Hampshire or Vermont is worth staying at.

This might well be the ultimate holiday lunch/brunch recipe. You make it up the night before and throw it in the oven the next morning—the perfect answer to a busy Christmas morning or a New Year's day when you're not necessarily up to standing over the stove. Those are the two times each year that we make it. And believe me, we spend the rest of the year waiting to make it again. It's good. Very good.

Without further ado, Vegetable Cheese Strata:


Butter 8" sq. baking pan, Cut bread in cubes and arrange in pan. Top bread
with cheddar. In bowl toss together vegetables and arrange evenly over the
cheese. In bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, mustard, and salt and
pepper and pour over vegetables. Chill strata, covered, overnight.
Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Sprinkle strata with basil. Put strata in pan
in a larger baking pan and add enough hot water to large pan to reach half
way up sides of strata pan. Bake strata in middle oven 1 hour, or until
top is golden, and remove from oven and its "bath"

Cut into 6"squares; serves six.

In way of apology for my "Brokeback Mountain" post, I'll offer up this weird reply to a Blackfive post regarding the Patriot Act. Blackfive prefaces the post by saying that many of the provisions of the now "Patriot Act" were approved under the Clinton administration. As it turns out (and I already knew this), Clinton Official Jamie Gorelick built upon the Frank Church enacted restrictions on the intel community and quite joyfully hobbled us in our ability to predict terroist attacks. But the point remains that Bill Clinton, the Saint of the Left, approved of many of the measures that now exist under the reviled Patriot Act.

It wasn't all Dubya, boys and girls. I know most people agree with the President, but for the tremendously vocal contigent on the left: Billy started it.

Let me know where you want to start from there.

At any rate, here's the reply. I just found it too entertaining and too moronic not to share:

Have you ever noticed that most supporters of George W. Bush have the mental, moral and emotional development of a five year old who suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome? One of the most common "arguments" that Bush supporters offer when their boy, who so many of them are positively queer for (in the Brokeback Mountain sense of the word), screws up and does something illegal, incompetent, corrupt or stupid is "Well, Bill Clinton did it, or something like it, or something that can be construed to be like it in the tiny little mind of a drooling wingnut like me, too!". For those of us who have progressed beyond the developmental level of a retarded five year old this is a lame defense, when I tried this kind of crap as a kid my Mom or Dad would inform me, quite sternly, that two wrongs don't make a right. I guess that most Bush supporters though had lousy parents who never imparted this valuable lesson, or that they were too stupid to understand it.

Posted by: Jamie Jamison | Dec 20, 2005 7:05:09 PM

Notice he takes the "Queer" route. So much for my comments on "Brokeback Mountain". He's positively contemptuous. Sorry, but I'm not the "homophobe" here. And, of course, he calls people too stupid to see everything his way "retards" and then jumps into fetal alchohol syndrome. What a f*cking jerk.

Sorry guys, but this is why the next election will go Republican, too.

Well, mirabile dictu, something finally worked. I suspect the fault was with Blogger, though I still advise against updating to Firefox 1.5 or 5.1 (check with them--you'll find it listed both ways). The upgrade loses all of the neat toolbars. And Opera is still fast, but still can't interface well with Blogger. So, I'm back in action and only slightly more frazzled.

As promised, my email for the week.

I finally got to my non-business email address after a week or so of neglect. I was amazed at all I had accomplished.

I've added eight email addresses to my PayPal account (which I haven't used in four years), I've won four state lotteries with a total winnings of four million dollars, I got a nice note from right wing infiltrator Peace Moonbeam, another nice note from presidential condidate Suldog, some excoriation from Murph, notices from three banks I have don't have accounts with that “unusual activity” has been observed on my accounts and a reminder that “bottom line” is a unique turn of phrase when applied to a homosexual situation.

Not only that, but two 419 Scammers actually took the bait when I replied to their request for personal information that my name is Barney Rubble and I reside at 301 Cobblestone Way, Bedrock, CA 70777.

And best of all, I've been reminded that my nose hairs require trimming while I may be in need of male enhancement.

You just have to love the world of email.

That particular email provider doesn't do a great job in filtering email, but he's a good guy trying to provide a service. I'm not the smartest guy on the planet by a long shot, but for what it's worth, I can spot a bullsh*t email and I take great pleasure in reporting spoofing and phishing schemes to the institutions involved. I take great offense with people who try to take money that simply is not their's by virtue of having earned it.

Here's one moron's followup to my reply identifying myself as Barney Rubble. Oh, and by the way, Mr. Mario, don't hold your breath for a reply:

ATTN: Barney Rubble

Thanks for your mail,

I need you to send me the following information?s as soon as possible For the payment to be send to you, and i will tell you on how you are going to send me the balance as soon as you have collected your 10% out of the total amount sent to you.

I hope all is clearly undertsood .

Info needed

1 full names and age.
2 contact house address.
3 personal direct phone and mobile numbers.
4 company name.

Immediately you have send me all the information?s the payment will be sent to you as soon as possible.

I wait to hear from you now.

Mr. Kelvin Mario

Do Not--DO NOT--Upgrade to Firefox 1.5 (or is it 5.1? They don't seem to know). It is horrendous. None of my toolbars work anymore, and I can't type in a word processor and copy the result to Blogger.

By the same token Opera is a nice, fast interface, but it doesn't work well with Blogger at all (the toolbar contains exactly zero tools).

I don't care much at all for Explorer, but I'm back there until Mozilla gets its act together.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I just checked my non-business email for the first time in at least a week. I'll have to describe the contents later, but I apparently had a very busy and profitable week.

In addition to the above, I got this link to a very special news item from Murph. Doubtless someone will find it in pooor taste , but I had to chuckle while reading it.
Twice now Blogger has boned me and lost a post I spent way too much time on. I have to go back to writing them in OpenOffice and saving them until they show up on the blog.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Ben Stein recently wrote his final column for E! Online. It's a great read. Here are a few excerpts:

...I no longer think Hollywood stars are terribly important....How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane luxury really be a star in today's world, if by a "star" we mean someone bright and powerful and attractive as a role model?...A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq. He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

NOTR regularly posts links to blog "carnivals"--roundups of notable posts on particular subjects.

He recently linked to Carnival of Comedy, and two of the posts in particular just about had me on the floor.

First, we have "Suldog's" campaign promises, then Peace Moonbeam infiltrates the religious right.

Sigh--two more blogs that I'm going to have to read on a regular basis.
I want this T-shirt.

Better yet, it should be issued to our military.
I had the most extraordinary happenstance yesterday.

I was working the Boy Scout Christmas tree sale (we make an absolute killing every year) with Dave, a guy with whom I get along well. Dave is a vice-principal at the local high school, but could have had quite the career in sales. To say that he's a “people person” would be an understatement.

Dave talks to everyone as if he's known them for years, and I sometimes forget that. At any rate a couple drove in with a young woman in tow. Presumably their daughter. By “young”, I mean early twenties.

Dave began talking to them like they were old friends and pretty soon they were exchanging details such as where everyone lived, etc.

The young lady got sucked in to the point where she told Dave that she had recently moved to be with her husband in North Carolina. Eventually she said something about Ft. Bragg. At that point I jumped in and said that I was quite familiar with Ft. Bragg.

Now bear in mind that it's a habit of military people to often speak in acronyms that make no sense whatsoever to the general public. They make perfect sense to military people, and since most of your association with is with other military people, it often doesn't even strike you to state things in a “civilian friendly” way.

When I mentioned that I knew Ft. Bragg, she said “He's in the Q-Course. He's going to be a Delta”. Well, who would have figured that selling Christmas trees in a little town I was going to meet someone whose husband is right now in the Special Forces Qualification Course, hoping to become an SF medic?

To make it even better, her dad piped up that she was a veteran of Iraq. I asked about her branch of service, etc. and she's an Army Reserve inelligence analyst.

So it was a neat event.

Friday, December 16, 2005

This one should generate some commentary (and not only from Les who thinks working with my son equals abdicating my authority as a parent).

NOTR at ROFASix comments on a film called “Brokeback Mountain”. Apparently while the critics love the movie, the general public doesn't.

Must be all those ignorant Wal-Mart shopping, NASCAR watching people who reelected President Bush. They just don't recognize a good movie...

I've never even heard of “Brokeback Mountain”, but it's apparently about two (male) cowboys who fall in love.

One thing that the Hollywood elites, who would never deign to mix with the masses at Wal-Mart or a NASCAR race, don't understand is that most of the population is heterosexual. And even the most accepting heterosexual thinks homosexuality is a bit gross. We're just not interested in it, is the bottom line. We know that it exists, but to make a great love story on the scale of “West Side Story” or even “When Harry Met Sally” ain't gonna happen.

We want to be entertained, not preached to by Hollywood fluff.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I can't resist a good play on words. There's a Sunday comic strip called "Frank and Ernest" that deals largely in wordplay, and it's probably my favorite comic (well, maybe just after "Dilbert").

Anyway, FinnCanuck, of the blog Sotamies, inadvertantly led me to a huge linguistic mistake made by a mainstream journalist. The situation is not funny--it involves a murder. But the story title is classic: "Man Accused of Abducting Dead Jogger". Maybe I'm a bit picky with the English language, but the story title quite clearly indicates that someone kidnapped a corpse. I do know what the writer meant to say, but the fact remains that the title indicates that a deceased runner's remains were hijacked.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Sometimes I don't whether to laugh or sigh deeply. Mostly I just find myself bemused to one extent or another.

My son has been plotting his escape from parochial school for two years now. He's looking forward to the extracurricular opportunities such as an expanded sports program as well as courses that just aren't available in parochial schools. He also complains about the uniform (blue slacks and a polo shirt—big deal).

I'm looking forward to public high school as finally a break from tuition costs that amount to a second house payment. The price of the school he wants to go to is staggering. Additionally, all of the parochial high schools are located a good hour's commute away and the logistics of getting kids back and forth intimidates me.

Out of the blue he suddenly decided he wanted to go to parochial high school. It was a last minute panic as admission is competitive and the test was administered last Saturday. In rapid order we discovered he'd never brought home any of the information the students were given, he'd apparently missed a preparatory session for the test (priced at a cool $150), the test was was two days off and we didn't know anything about it. Made some phone calls and managed to find out most of the details, including that there was a $30 test fee. Even managed to find out that his friend down the road was going and his mom would be glad to take him as well. At 6:20AM as we waited for his ride, my wife discovered that she'd misplaced her checkbook. We ransacked the house, but couldn't find it (turns out she hid it and now she can't remember where). I had two dollars in my pocket. Turned the house upside down again and managed to put together $30 just as his ride pulled in.

Meanwhile, the local public high school team was on their way to a professional stadium to play for the state championship in front of some 10,000+ spectators. They lost by one touchdown in double overtime—no shame there whatsoever.

We managed to survive Saturday; and Sunday the local paper appeared at the door with photos from the game and tales of glory.

Today, my son announced to me that he's changed his mind and wants to go to public school after all, so he can play football on that team.

I think I'll just be bemused. Saturday's history, the pain has subsided and I can look forward to finally saving money for the kids' college tuition.

I just saw something that reminded me of a neat trick I used to employ to chase the kids off to bed on Christmas Eve. It's worth passing on.

Some years ago they were antsy and sleepless as usual on Christmas Eve, and for some reason I remembered that a NORAD spokesman used to make an appearance on the news every Christmas Eve and announce that NORAD was tracking a curious object which appeared to be a number of reindeer towing a vehicle driven by a man in a red suit--or something to that effect. (this was back in the 60s, before Al Gore had invented the internet)

I'm sure someone at NORAD started the whole thing as a lark, but it eventually grew into an entire project in its own right. There is now an entire website devoted to "tracking Santa". There's a link from the official NORAD site, but you can also go straight to it at noradsanta.org. It's a nice site, with downloads, games, etc. as well as Christmas music performed by US and Canadian military bands (NORAD is a joint US/Canadian effort).

But the best part of the site is that they "track Santa". Beginning with the Aleutian Islands, there are periodic updates, narrated by various NORAD spokepersons, and "satellite images" are shown of his sleigh as it passes by landmarks. They throw in a little education in as well.

The website worked like a charm. The kids were wound up and didn't want to go to bed, but when NORAD announced that Santa was nearing the east coast of the US, they were off as though shot out of a cannon.

Oh, for what it's worth, the website is available in English, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Japanese.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I stumbled on quite the coincidence.

While I was in Phase One of the SFQC (Special Forces Qualification Course), we had two remarkable guys who used to come up with songs for us to sing to the instructors from time to time.

One was a guy from 20th Group—I think Alabama—whom we called Hollywood. The other guy was a former Ranger by the last name of Joseph who we called (of course) Ranger Joe.

Hollywood and Ranger Joe would huddle together late at night while the rest of us were trying to sleep on the plywood sheets that served as bunk beds and make up songs that served us immeasurably as morale boosters.

The instructors at the SFQC are referred to as TACs (to this day I don't know why), and the TACs came to anticipate our song of the day.

One day we came out with “The Sniper's Song”, sung to the tune of “Winter Wonderland”. I've pulled most of the lyrics out of my head, but I'll have to wrack my brains a bit to provide you with all of the lyrics. So I'll publish it another time.

But much to my surprise, Blackfive links to Uncle Jimbo singing a very, very similar song.

I have to wonder if our SFQC classes weren't close together, time-wise.

Now, Hollywood and Ranger Jo also came up with a parody on “Ballad of the Green Berets” that the TACs thought was very funny, even though it was highly insulting of the TACs. But the “Camp Mackall” song had us doing pushups all day.

I'm not sure of what established tune this follows, but here's the Camp Mackall Song:

Camp Mackall is a h*ll of a place

The organization's a f*cking disgrace

E-6s, E-7s and officers, too, with thumbs up their a**es and nothing to do

They stand on the corners, they scream and they shout

All about things they know nothing about

For all of their knowledge they all ought to be

Shoveling sh*t on the South China Sea

We literally took a break from the training schedule to do PT all day after singing that song to the TACs.

Well, the obituary associated with our mini-adventure the other night finally hit the local paper.

The guy has several living brothers and sisters, and at the ripe old age of 43 has already been predeceased by three brothers. I'd hazard a guess that the males of the family have tended to involve themselves in high-risk entrepreneurial pursuits.

In retrospect, so many facets of that whole incident have become clear. We were used. I've never been a police officer—many years ago when I brought home an application from a big city department my parents and then girlfriend (now wife) had paroxysms. I dropped the matter and have always regretted it. But nonetheless, I did have a job for several years that required me to drive around that same city from 7PM until 7AM every night, opening buildings in the wee hours to check them out as well as escorting lottery money to the bank, and I carried a handgun. I met many a cop in the course of that job, and they were all cynics. Now I know why.

Something went wrong with a drug deal that night (I already just knew that, but it was confirmed by a police contact, albeit with no further details, other than it might have had to do with a delivery that wasn't paid for). Joey, our guy, strode into our meeting so nonchalant that some of us thought he was a new parent. Thinking back, he wanted to blend in. Then he begged for us to lock the door, for obvious reasons.

Joey told us he had just opened the door on the car to talk to his brother when someone stuck a shotgun in his brother's “open” window (it was cold that night, and I suspect neither of them had a great tolerance for cold), yet Joey was uninjured and there was no blood spattered on him. Shotguns at close range tend to be somewhat messy, and Joey should have been directly in the line of the shot—you don't open a rear door to talk to someone in the front seat, you open the opposite door. For an extremely graphic and extremely unsettling look at what shotguns do at close range you can click here, but I don't recommend it. Anyway, methinks Joey sensed it coming down and bolted. He wasn't talking to his brother at the time. He heard and maybe saw the shooting and hauled posterior, looking for safety in a group of people. He then went into the role of the sobbing victim, playing on our sympathies.

He begged us to take him to the police station. We tried waiting for a police car to come by, but he kept badgering us. I finally succumbed and made another call to the police. At that point the dispatcher said they were so tied up that she couldn't tell us when a car would come by. He begged and cried until we took him. Hell, he knew that was the only place he'd be 100% safe. That's why he begged us to take him there. In retrospect, it was also obvious that the detective knew exactly who he was.

I've been trying for some years to not be such a “nice guy”--they really do finish last. This may be a big push in that direction.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Humor is a matter of hitting the right spot at the right time. What was funny ten minutes ago might not hit the right spot just now, and what I find hysterical might fall flat with you. For example, my wife sees nothing funny in The Three Stooges.

Well, I just saw a line at Camarillo Brillo (whatever the hell that means) that cracked me up. The line?---"Adam to Eve: Stand back, I don't know how big this thing is gonna get!"

Unfortunately, I wouldn't have been much of a threat...

This has already been posted and blogged about some eight million times, but I have to add my two cents.

Federal air marshals shot and killed a man at Miami International Airport.

The reason I feel like I have to add my two cents is that the Monday morning quarterbacking is in full force. The marshals should have waited, they should have done this, they should have done that, etc. And, of course, since he was Hispanic, the marshals are racists even though nobody knows what race the marshals involved are.

He said he had a bomb in his backpack, bolted from the marshals, then stopped and reached into his backpack. One or both of the marshals then shot him.

What the hell were they supposed to do? Wait for him to detonate a bomb so they could be absolutely sure that he had one? As it turns out he was mentally unbalanced, but I think that can be said of all bombers. They're all nutty in one way or another or they wouldn't be blowing fellow humans up.

Or, and I love this one: Shoot to wound. A firearm is a deadly weapon. There are fractions of an inch between wounded and dead, and when you're firing a handgun under stress at a moving target there is no way in hell you can say “I'm just going to wound him”. Shoot for the leg, they say, the thigh's a big target. It is, and it also contains the femoral artery. You so much as nick that thing and he'll bleed to death in seconds. A firearm is a weapon of last resort, and when they had every reason to believe that guy was gong to blow things up, they had no other alternative.


JB reports that LTG William P. Yarborough has passed away.General Yarborough was a genuine hero and rennaissance man who was very influential in the early years of Army Special Forces.


Another tough one. On 30 NOV, Marine Corporal Joshua Snyder died as the result of wounds sustained from small arms fire in Fallujah.

Cpl. Snyder graduated from Hereford High School, the same school that Marine LCpl. Norman Anderson graduated from. LCpl. Anderson, the son a fellow 20th Grouper, was killed in action in Iraq on 19 OCT. They were classmates-both graduated in 2002-and team mates on the high school football team.

I've been around the world at least once. Seen a thing or two. But last night trumped everything.

We live in a fairly rural area, though we live minutes from an incorporated city. I call it “the town”. Most east coast people would agree—it's just not big enough to even consider calling it a city. But, true enough to the moniker “city”, it has its problems.

The Boy Scouts meet at a school that doesn't really fall in the city. Technically it's within city limits, but “the city” is main street (the longest in the US) and a few tangental streets. It's not a big city by any measure. The church is way up on a hill and way on the outskirts.

Just as the Scout meeting was ending, a guy strode in and sat at the Scoutmaster's table. Later, the three of us who had the testiclees to deal with the situation all agreed that we at first thought he was a new parent.

Well, after calmly walking in and sitting down, our guest suddenly announced that there'd been shooting and he was afraid that his brother was dead. Everyone pretty much froze—what was this all about? Then he started demanding that we lock the doors. I knew full well things weren't right and dialed 911. The operator confirmed that there had been a shooting and asked me to sit on the guy we had until the police picked him up. Another guy called 911 just after me, and we had concurrent conversations with the operator.

Meanwhile, parents right and left just said “screw it” and bolted. Can't really blame them. It's my nature to insert myself into these situations, so I stayed.

The police never showed up for the guy, so I called again and the dispatcher told me everyone was at the scene and she didn't know when a car would be available. While I was having this conversation the 75-year old Scoutmaster simply shut the place down. I don't know if he was oblivious or cranky and didn't give a hoot. Either is entirely possible. Plans were hastily made that I would drive the guy to the police and another couple would take my son and meet me at the station. While we made those plans the only two other fathers with any nads took the guy and put him in a car. Andy, a mountain of a man, sat behind the guy. I followed them to the station just as extra security.

When we got there, the guy's change in demeanor was astonishing. The guy who had been chewing on his coat and moaning that he thought his brother was dead became downright belligerent. The detective was absolutely unflappable, though. She told him his brother was ok (turns out she lied—he was killed) and got on with taking our information. Then he demanded access to his car (in which his brother was shot) so he could get his cell phone (because his contacts are in it, my wife reminded me). She told him he wasn't getting in his car any time soon. Then he started asking for water. The detective said she'd get him a glass of water and he demanded bottled water. I snapped at that point and started laying into his sorry butt. He'd used us. He was neck-deep in whatever got his brother killed (drugs, undoubtedly), he played on our sympathy even though he probably hated us, and now he was playing games while his brother laid somewhere bleeding. The detective reminded me that I was done, so I sheepishly removed myself from the station.

Someday I'll learn about trying to help people. Meanwhile, I'll shed no tears if the shooter manages to catch up with that guy, too.

Any time I need a good laugh (which is often, lately), I just think of Clinton scurrying to the bathroom, pants around his ankles, to "finish himself off".

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

If you need see any evidence of how incredibly intolerent the left is of ideas that run counter to their own rhetoric, I have the evidence at hand. I think it was Charles Krauthammer who observed that the difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans think Democrats are wrong, and Democrats think Republicans are evil.

The evidence at hand isn't Republican vs. Democrat, but it's idiological, and fits quite well in the Us vs. Them status that the Democrats have established in Congress. The writer is particularly dangerous as he's a very smart guy and a good writer (and for certain reasons should be toeing the Democrat line). Ergo he has been racking up rude, uninformed comments by the minute. Mostly just rude. And uninformed.

Anyway, it's a good read. Check it out at Michael Williams.

Jack Abu bin Murtha is at it again. And frankly, he's crossed the line into treason. When you give aid and succor to the enemy, you've committed treason. Bin Murtha has for some reason (see Bear Creek Ledger for possible reasons—seems bin Murtha and Li'l Rich Girl Nancy Pelosi may have been caught with their fingers in the cookie jar) found fit to announce that the Army is broken down. That's giving succor to the enemy, plain and simple. He's telling them that the battle is theirs, they need only stick it out—our military is on the verge of collapse. And John bin Kerry (did you know he was in Vietnam?) has called our troops terrorists. I'll say this: You can be a Democrat and a patriot. But you can't agree with those two jackasses and be a patriot. NOTR at ROFASix has a good take on the misconduct of House Democrats as well. Check out the link to the Sacred Cow blog.

Sometimes you get help in unexpected places. I met my most cherished friend when I visited a Yahoo science chat room and my response to the postings of an utterly insane chatter led her to message me. We subsequently became friends in real life.

Every once in a while I go dumpster diving in the waaay out blogs and message boards just out of curiosity, although it's never a fun exercise. The grunts and squeals of the Orcs that inhabit those blogs and message boards usually leave me with dangerously high blood pressure.

But a visit to Kurt Nimmo, a Wal-Mart photo clerk and Commander in Chief of the Tinfoil Beanie Brigade, led me to another neat blog, Dread Pundit. Bluto, the writer at Dread Pundit, has annoyed poor Kurt. Congratulations, and welcome to the club, Bluto.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Wesley Eugene Baker rode the needle into eternity last night.

Even I have reservations about the death penealty, but one thing I can guarantee you is that scumbag, who ambushed a woman in a parking lot and killed her in front of her six-year old grandson for $10, and who spent most of his life in and out of prison for hurting people, will never hurt anyone again.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Fall cleanup at the cabin is something of a family get together. The hunting club goes way back on the distaff side of my family and the roster includes two uncles, a cousin and the husband of a cousin.

The husband of a cousin was active duty Marine Corps for several years and then went into the reserves to pursue what has apparently been an extremely lucrative career in the financial field. He was reactivated as we pursued the war into Iraq and has spent considerable time there over the last two years. I gather that he has been involved in rebuilding Iraq's financial infrastructure. Although an active duty Marine, he spends his days wearing a business suit—but commutes by helicopter. What I didn't know was that he has prior experience in the Middle East, but I didn't get any real specifics. He's not the easiest person to relate to. A good guy, just not much of a conversationalist. But—he can hold forth when a subject comes up that pushes one of his buttons. And he knows the Middle East well.

First, torture. Personally, I'm sick to death of hearing about this. It's in no way officially sanctioned. Hell, it's against the law. And taking silly photos of naked guys with leashes is juvenile and stupid, but it's not torture. I read an article the other day where some bonehead journalist just made the bald assertion that we are torturing prisoners. Period. No maybes, no ifs, just we are. I think better of our armed forces than that, and here's the take from Lieutenant Colonel Cousin's Husband: Most of the bad guys we capture are released pretty quickly. The few that we hold on to are people who don't even communicate on the same level as the rest of us. They are seriously bad guys. They aren't reachable. They are like some movie version of a calloused, psychotic, hard-core murderer. They get sent to Gitmo, etc. For everyone, there is the process of getting caught, processed and questioned. Sometimes our guys catch someone who they know was involved in an explosion yesterday that killed one of their buddies (yes, our HUMINT is that good). Things might get a bit rough for that guy. Can I approve of that on a purely dispassionate, intellectual level? Of course not. Can I understand the human reaction? Absolutely. Would I participate? Probably. And the message for Abdul is if you don't want to get your a$$ kicked, don't blow people up. Cease and desist, and we'll stop kicking the snot out of you. Once the bad guys have been captured and processed, we want to ask them a few questions. According to LTC Cousin's Husband, they might take the bad guys out and make them do exercises until they're tired and then hose them down with water. I know first hand that sucks, because I've been through it. It was called Basic Training.

Next an uncle asked about white phosphorus. I jumped in with my limited understanding—WP is mostly used as a spotting round (it sends up a lot of smoke and marks a target), but there is also a larger ground burst round that is mainly used to generate smoke to obscure troop movements. The fact that it can also create havoc among enemy troops as an incendiary is a plus. I knew that my uncle's question was spurred by recent reports in the European press that we used chemical weapons in Iraq, and that claims were made that we actually burned up bodies without burning the clothes they were wearing.

Before we go any further, let me lay a few things out. First, a chemical weapon is defined by international law as a weapon that kills by its own toxic properties. WP will set your gluteus on fire and burn clean through you, but it's not toxic in its own right. I can make an aerosol of scotch, set it on fire and kill someone, but scotch is not a chemical weapon. Secondly, gruesome as the photos of the alleged bodies are (and no doubt they selected photos very carefully to make us look as bad as possible), they weren't killed by WP. Someone actually noted that some of the bodies were caramelized. I caramelize onions on the stove. Bodies don't get caramelized. And flaming chemicals don't cook people inside their clothing without setting the clothing on fire. The bodies in the photos are bodies that got left out in the sun too long. Pure and simple. Those photos out there which they claim are victims of WP/chemical warfare...wrong. Just plain wrong. Lies, actually, since I'm sure those international journalists are so smart and so experienced that they know better.

Now, for the one part that's true—we did use WP. Gasp. We used a weapon in the conduct of war. Imagine that.

I'd forgotten that LTC Cousin's Husband had once been an artillery officer, but he filled me in on the third type of WP round. There is an airburst round, which is what was used in the “incident” the European press is trying to create. WP is really mainly a smoke round. The airburst round contains some 115 pieces of felt, each soaked with WP. When the round bursts, the pieces float to earth, creating a more effective curtain of smoke than a ground burst. The fire mission was completely planned. There were no civilians whatsoever in the area at the time. What we were facing was dug in enemy troops, so we fired airburst WP. The rounds created a curtain of smoke that prevented them from seeing our troops as they maneuvered, and further the rounds created a psychological effect as the flaming WP streamed to earth, driving the troops from their trenches.

All of this stuff I'm talking is war. Plain and simple. It's not great, it's not fun. It's war. Certain elements have been nipping at us for years, then they finally got our attention one sunny September day. Now we've brought war to them. Too bad guys. AC-130s, WP, Predators, etc. You chose to poke us and wake us up, now you have to deal with it.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Coming soon: Some discussion on the utter bovine feces being propogated regarding "torture" and the use of "chemical weapons" in Iraq; including information gleaned from a long, beer-filled evening with a Marine LTC who has considerable time "in country".

Well, apparently it's officially the Christmas season now. I heard "Crabs for Christmas" on the radio this morning.

The "Crabs" webpage also has a pretty good dictionary of Bawlmorese—a subdialect of the Merlin dialect which is spoken by Baltimorons Baltimorians. Merlin, of course, is the state located between Virginia and Pennsylvania and Bawlmore is its largest city.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Just going to post this once, then I'll get on with trying to be topical. But I'm just so hacked off that I have to vent.

I mentioned a while ago that I was very put off by a conversation at a Girl Scout meeting. To whit, the girls were all entering fourth grade, at which point they can begin learning a musical instrument, and I was put out of joint by a woman who spoke of renting a condominium at the ocean most of the summer, but refused to pay $60/month for music lessons.

I'll put in here that I'm no professional musician by any means, but playing instruments has enriched my life immeasurably. I still play—with my kids at home and with a drum and bugle corps.

Our kids go to parochial school. It's at my wife's insistence, but I go along because I have to. Instrumental music is not covered by tuition—it's provided by a contractor. It's apparently an across the board thing as the contractor holds a band competition each year and while most of the participants are parochial schools, secular private schools participate as well.

Last week we were watching the sister-in-law's spoiled brat daughter so that the sister-in-law could work her upwardly mobile job as a liquor store clerk while her husband worked a 12-8 shift as a Sheriff's Deputy. Sap that I am, I actually suggested that since the sister-in-law would pick her brat daughter up around 5:30 and her husband wouldn't get off work until after 8:00, maybe my wife could invite her sister and even her mother for dinner. Wasn't something I wanted by any means, but I thought it was a nice gesture.

Well, they accepted.

I should mention at this point that the sister-in-law goes on a Disney cruise every year, and other than her school uniforms, Princess wears only clothing purchased at the Disney Store.

Fed them well—pork chops, etc., and then the Bear decided to entertain everyone with her new-found skills on the clarinet. The Bear has been playing the clarinet for maybe four weeks now, but she can make it wail. (Yes, I know I'm biased, but she's good. Very good.)

In the ensuing conversation I began to mention how vexed I was with the couple who spend thousands of dollars on a condo in Ocean City each summer (a trashy resort if there ever was one) yet won't spring for a few bucks each month on their daughter's education.

At that point the sister-in-law blew a gasket and said I was describing her. I told her it was no such thing, I was simply relating my annoyance at a conversation I'd had back in September. She insisted I was talking about her. She said “You know we like big vacations”. She went on to say that she'd be d*mned if she'd pay for instrumental education simply because public school students don't have to. I passed on the opportunity to remind her that her kid isn't in public school.

Well, I should have struck back and said “Yeah, I know you value Disney more than your own daughter's education”, but I knew that would only set the wife off.

As it was, I sat there and took it because the wife ALWAYS sides with her idiots relatives, and to carry it any further would have ignited a bomb.

Well, minutes later Princess was laying out some toys and sister-in-law, who at age 44 has topped out as a cashier at a liquor store, told Princess she was stupid. At that point I simply got up and went downstairs.

They began to leave and I actually went up and bade all a fond (and hopefully permanent) goodbye. Then I turned to the wife and informed her that her sister was way out of line and owed me an apology. Her response?-----I should have seen it coming. I'm the bad guy.

I'm saddled with a moronic sister-in-law who would rather go on Disney cruises with her prissy husband than spend a few extra bucks to enhance her daughter's education, and I'm the bad guy?

We have given up a lot over the years, from my sister-in-law's perspective: Four grand to fund our son's trip to New Zealand and Australia as a Student Ambassador, two and a half grand so far invested in instrumental music and another grand + in musical instruments, countless dollars in sports fees and sports equipment...Hell, I can't count it all, because I don't. It's part and parcel of being a parent. I suppose I've given things up—I drive a 15-year old truck and the wife just informed me (in a less-than-understanding-fashion) that her vehicle just passed 280,000 miles. Funny thing is the wife is the one who insists on Parochial school (at over $1000/month), yet she's the one who complains about driving an older vehicle. At any rate, while I can cost out some things, such as Student Ambassador and music lessons, I don't make it a practice. I'm a dad and I want the best for my kids. From sister-in-law's point of view, I've given a lot up. From my point of view, I feel good that I've tried to provide the best for my kids. And I honestly don't mind driving an old truck. In a way it reminds me of where I've placed my priorities.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The three days preceding Thanksgiving are bear season up at the cabin. I went up, but didn't hunt bear. Some of the guys do, and one pair of brothers gets bears every year. I've just never bothered for several reasons: I don't feel like dragging a 300-lb carcass out of terrain that rough, bear meat is nasty and greasy and bears are related to pigs, so you get the same trichinosis issues. (some of the guys are so into bear that they once hauled a dead horse up to the cabin)

After reading this article (scroll down to “Hunter Injured”), I've discovered another reason not to hunt bear—it's nice sticking to situations in which you're the apex predator.

Had to do a bit of research after reading the article. The guy shot the bear four times and it still lived long enough to maul him, yet my recollection was that the .444 Marlin is a seriously potent round. I dragged out one of my reloading manuals and indeed, the .444 makes a hole nearly a half inch in diameter and delivers 2000+ foot pounds of energy at less than 150 yards. The guy was a seriously bad shot.

Another possibility is that he used the wrong bullet. Turns out there is a frangible bullet for the .444 which would pretty near turn a deer inside out, but would not penetrate a bear nearly enough. Really bad choice.

The third possibility (and it happens more than I'd like to see) is that he made stupid shots, either on a running target, a mostly concealed target, etc. Even with a round like the .444 you're only going to annoy the bear if you don't make good, clean shots.

I've blown many an opportunity because I'm fastidious about making a single, clean shot.

So I feel badly for the guy, but he screwed up.

A good read.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I've been away for a bit. Thanksgiving and all that, but I also went up to the cabin for a couple of days. The wife and the Bear rarely go up with me, but Snake Eater, Jr., enjoys it there as much as I do and always goes.

The cabin was built in 1924 by the hunting and fishing club of which I'm a fifth-generation member (the familial connection may go back further, but the documentation I have covers four generations prior to me). They built the cabin after years of hauling tents onto the mountain by horse team. It's all a bit quaint--the club is limited to 25 members because that's the maximum party the state will allow in a deer drive. It's also said that the cabin sleeps 25, but I've never counted beds. The second floor is just an open bay with beds, but in truth, a lot of guys sleep draped over couches on the first floor as well, so just how many can sleep there would be open to considerable debate.

Last weekend was our annual fall cleanup. The ground the cabin occupies is on a 99-year lease from the state, but the lease is subject to annual review. In the course of the review we can be gigged for poor maintenance of the cabin and the surrounding 100 feet as well as whether the outhouse meets aesthetic standards. A few years ago the state required that all of the cabins replace their old outhouses, which had cinderblock cisterns which leached into the soil (hey, bears do it, too) with impermeable fiberglass holding tanks. Fortunately we have several contractors and their employees in the club--no problem. Well, they replaced the old outhouse with a commercial-type fiberglass "Port-a-Pot". Turns out the Port-a-Pot wasn't aesthetically pleasing, so we had to build a new outhouse as well as take down a tree the ranger had marked for us.

Most of the guys in the club live 20-30 minutes away, so they rarely spend the night there. I live about 3 1/2 hours away (more if I head up on a Friday evening), but what's remarkable is that they feel the same level of stewardship that I do. I'm fifth-generation, few of them can approach that, and I come from far away and it's in their back yards. Yet they feel as strongly about it as I do. I'm very confident in the future for the club.

Given all of that, not many guys sleep in the cabin these days, yet the few who do offer endless entertainment. If I haven't been slamming adult beverages I tend to be an extremely light sleeper. Well, I slept little at the cabin. At least two of the guys are going to die of sleep apnea. Another guy has an occasional wheeze that sounds exactly like my daughter crying. Brought me to a sitting position three times in one night. The remainder just saw wood like Paul Bunyan. Brought me to the point of drinking in self-defense.

Cabin Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Congressman John Murtha is a moron. Sorry.

Murtha wants the US out of Iraq yesterday, and like John McCain, he thinks the fact that he's a military vet lends him credence. Sorry, guys. I admire your service like only a fellow vet can, but the fact that you served only goes so far. McCain played fast and loose with his wives, then went on to a less-than-exlempary senate career. McCain says some seriously stupid things, and I don't give a damn whether he was shot down (he also nearly sank the USS Forrestal), he spouts stupidity. Being a former fighter pilotgives him weight with me, but only so much.(actually he flew an A-4, technically an attack aircraft--I have more respect for attack guys, actually, but I grow weary of hearing him called a "fighter" pilot, as though there's more cachet to being a fighter jockey. I was a ground pounder. I'll take an attack pilot over a fighter pilot any day of the week) I've called fellow SF guys a$$holes, and I'll call McCain the same right here.

As far as Murtha--I don't know. McCain's an a$$hole. Maybe even a moron. Murtha is a step below. What's lower than a moron? A cretin? How about this: An utterly clueless piece of public sh*t. I think that might cover it.

Let's take Murtha's thesis: We need to withdraw from Iraq yesterday.

Ok, no problem. Couple of dozen C-140 flights and we're out of there. Then what?

Yes, we've made major strides (and by "we", I mean the US working arm in arm with Iraqi leaders). There is a constitution in place, there is an Iraqi police force and an Iraqi Army. But the infrastructure is fragile at best. Fragile because anti-Western terrorists lurk around every possible corner.

As I've pointed out in the past, we can certainly pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan (morons like Murtha forget that we're still engaged in Afghanistan). But then what? Both countries will collapse into lawless vacuums that incourage anti-western zealots to head there, train and launch missions. Afghanistan was already such a country. Should we forget everything we did there, everyone who died there and just say f*ck it?

As long as we, the west, retain our resolve, we can keep the anti-western zealots at bay. Unfortunately a lot of western nations have lost their resolve. We're not standing alone by any means, but weekly we lose stand-up allies. The rest will be there when the chips come down, but it would be nice to have them here with us, showing a huge, united front against a terrorism-based way of dealing with issues. Spain, Italy, et al--Don't lose backbone now. Get it back up and let's show a unified HUGE OVERWHELMING western reaction to terror.

I know that there are other flavors of terror than Islamist. There's Irish, Basque and others. But Islamists have taken it to levels nobody else even considered. We have got to crush them. If they have a message, I'll listen to it. But I won't see any more old men pushed off of cruise ships (your mighty warriors must be SO proud of that one) or stewardesses gutted with boxcutters (another proud moment in Islamic history) and aircraft flown into buildings. I've had it, and so has most of America. Stand up with us, ignore cretins like Murtha, and let's crush terrorism once and for all.

The price of pulling back is very simple to quantify: One day your wife/husband/CHILD might become a victim of terrorism.


Friday, November 18, 2005

Caught a bit of a TV show tonight in which they were logging stores that will or won't say "Merry Christmas".

Sheesh. Why do people have to pretend to be offended by other peoples' expressions of faith? (other than the fact that they can make money by filing bull$hit lawsuits claiming that they were somehow "injured" by hearing those expressions of faith).

Hell, "Merry Christmas" isn't even an expression of a particular faith. It's simply a greeting. A well wishing, if you will. It's an expression of positive thoughts. If you're so pathetically sensitive (and law suit money-grubbing) that someone saying "Merry Christmas" offends you, I'd suggest that you simply stay inside until you die. If need be, contact me. I'll help.
The kids have been after me for a very long time to take them to a high school football game. Things came together this evening and so off we went.

I think I've mentioned it here before, but to reiterate, one of the few ways in which I think I'm pretty well adjusted is that I like women my age. No if, ands or buts. Other than my wife, I think the most beautiful woman on the planet is a 46-year old writer who lives in upstate New York. I'd have to follow that with Angie Everhart, who must be nearing 40 and Laura Prepon, who is at least in her late twenties. Point is, I'm not into young girls at all.

But, going to my first high school football game in 27 years was eye-opening to say the least. My friend, Dave, is a vice-principal at the school. I caught him and mentioned the eye-catching sights. "Jim," he said "Now you know what I've been dealing with for 30 years". Then he went on to say that they found a 38D bra in a pile of clothing after the homecoming dance.

I'm speechless.
Toni, who has two of the finest legs in all of bloggerdom and, more importantly, one of the sharpest minds, has changed the address of her blog. She's now at Bearcreekledger.com.

Highly recommended reading.
My wife often likes to make the point that there is still a war on in Afghanistan. Iraq tends to take center stage, but we shouldn't forget that we're still engaged with murderous zealots in Afghanistan as well.

Jennifer Martinez reports on another SF death in Afghanistan.

Give serious thought to donating to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Those guys are "the pointy end of the spear". Eric Arthur Blair (who wrote under the pseudonym George Orwell) is attributed as saying "We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us". The quote is probably apocryphal, but it stands. We sleep at night because those guys are out there, doing the hard work, the bleeding and the dying for us.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ok, here's a post completely out of left field. Non-political, non-topical, just purely personal.

I've played woodwinds--principally clarinet--pretty much all of my life. I don't even know why I picked clarinet. My father often had "ideas" and he pushed me into picking a musical intrument when I was in second grade. To this day I can remember telling him I wanted to play the long black thing. Didn't even know what it was. Just picked it because he decided I should play an instrument. Incredibly the whole thing led to a continuing relationship with music and performance. I've played all through high school and college as well as with community bands and the Baltimore Colts band (if that doesn't date me I don't know what will). The relationship between woodwinds is pretty fluid: I can also play saxophone and flute although I've never really been able to master the embouchure to truly play the flute well. I played woodwind for musical plays in high school and college that required that I switch off between clarinet and tenor sax and loved every minute of it. In high school I discovered another love, still musical--drum and bugle corps. I ended up playing the bass baritone bugle and I play with a drum and bugle corps to this day--we're talking some 30 years now.

I guess it was a given that the kids would take up instrumental music in school, though I never pushed it. Snake Eater Junior opted for the saxophone. I was a bit disappointed at the time, but merely because I had to buy a sax as opposed to simply giving him the clarinet I had at home. I bought an alto sax, and by the end of the first year he decided he wanted to play tenor sax. I certainly had no problems with that--I always played tenor and I think it sounds so, so much better than an alto. So I bought a tenor sax.

I didn't mind buying the second (tenor) saxophone one bit because as it turns out, he's one talented musician. According to his band teacher, he's also a leader in band, something that is echoed by his other teachers.

The Bear was talking flute for the longest time, then suddenly decided on clarinet. Fortunately I had a clarinet for her. Well, she's taken to clarinet like a duck takes to water. She's phenomenal--And I have the basis to know. Been there, done that, all that stuff. She's good.

Which leads us to family jam sessions. I never imagined that. But we have two saxes, two clarinets (and two bugles, but we're no quite there yet). I'm almost overwhelmed, but what an absolute blast. It's been great, and I can only anticipate more of the same.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Drove past the high school this morning and I noticed a police car lurking in the parking lot. Got me to thinking about the state of society and the need for police to be patrolling school parking lots.

I'm not a television watcher, but I'm not unaware. There are at least two TV programs that basically glorify absolutely incredible levels of misbehavior. Not just being a dumbass, but criminally antisocial behavior. I've seen a bit of some show called "Viva la Bam" (or something like that). I immediately shut it down. It's most certainly "play acted" as opposed to being real, but nonetheless its message is quite simple: Mayhem, disobedience, destruction of others' property, flaunting authority, causing harm to people...that's all fun. Wow. And there's some show called "Jackass", which I've never seen, but from what I've heard it's offensiveness only begins with its name.

There are dozens of web sites that host video clips. It takes little to no time to realize just how many of these clips are of punks in action. Things like some kid buying an ice cream and then shoving it in the vendor's face. Or ordering things at a drive-through and throwing the milkshake back through the window. Or just haranguing people on the street for no reason other than videotaping themselves and recording it as some sort of "accomplishment".

Unfortunately, should any of these stunts be pulled on me, I'll be the one who goes to jail. Not the punk who defies society's rules, but the old man who breaks his jaw and renders him incapable of procreation.

The "hip" TV channels need to be held to account for this. They're most certainly not the only or even most prolific transmitters or justifyers of this sort of behavior, but they're most certainly in the forefront. Some channel (MTV) is actually profiting by broadcasting what amounts to incredibly antisocial behavior and glorifying it.

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm tired to death of the rudeness and the punks, and I'm beyond patience with the fact that I'LL be the one to go to jail when I finally shatter some punk's jaw and kick his testiclees deep into his abdominal cavity.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I'm working on it, guys. This layout is horrible. I don't know Jack about HTML and Blogger templates. Everything I accomplish on here I accomplish by hammering at it until I find the right answer. I'm still hammering.
Now here's a post out of the blue, but I was spurred on by something I read at another blog. I'm going to get a little bit preachy, but it's a point that I think a lot of people who haven't been there might miss. Part of the point is that military life is far more difficult than most people realize--it's not just blood and sweat, it's big on tears. And ennui.

Murf wrote of her disappointment in MilBloggers--that they suck her in with their tales of adventure in Afghanistan and Iraq, then disappoint her by tapering off when they return home and posting on the mundane, if they continue to post at all.

The dynamics of the return home are more complicated than most people realize, particularly for the married people. I'll address this from the male perspective since that covers the vast majority, but feel free to switch the roles--it works both ways.

When you deploy, your family life enters a sort of stasis. You go on to experience life-changing events, yes, but you expect to return home to the family you left 12 months ago. Meanwhile, your wife has 100% of the home responsibilities--paying bills, doing laundry, changing light bulbs, homework, diapers, mowing, changing oil, you name it. Not to mention the children are a year older, a significant period of time for a child. They grow in your absence. They change. You come home expecting to return to the family that you left, but in so many ways you don't. You and your family have both changed significantly.

This is what the guys are working with when they return home. The single guys may not have the wife/children issues, but they also struggle--with family, friends and society at large. The transition is intensely difficult.

Garrison life is rote and boring. You rotate through various "cycles". There's training cycle, during which you do soldierly things, school cycle during which you sit in classrooms trying not to fall asleep, and the much-loved post support cycle, during which you mow grass, whack weeds and rake straight lines into sand. Other than jumping out of airplanes (for the chosen few), there's not much excitement.

Civil War soldiers referred to going into combat as "seeing the elephant". Given that garrison life isn't particularly exciting at the best of times, imagine trying to find something interesting to convey to your readers once you've seen the elephant.

So sorry to those who've been disappointed by returning MilBloggers, but they have bigger issues than pleasing your vicarious interests.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Just a quick post--Balding, grey-haired guys with ponytails are just plain sad. Sorry.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A day early for Veterans' Day, but my wife is off tomorrow and I'll get no peace.

Just wanted to post two things for the day. A poem by Kipling (The Soldier's Poet) and an essay by a Marine Chaplain.

I'm mostly preaching to the choir here--fellow current and former military--but maybe just one person somewhere will read this and think for a moment. By the way, Thomas Atkins was a hero in the British Army and his name has become a symbolic name for British troops, often referred to as "Tommys".


I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!

Rudyard Kipling

This essay will be posted 10,000 times tomorrow, and it's a bit corny, but like Kipling's poem it's solid food for thought.

What is a Veteran?

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye.

Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg - or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul's ally forged in the refinery of adversity.

Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem.

You can't tell a vet just by looking.

What is a vet?

He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel.

He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.

She - or he - is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.

He is the POW who went away one person and came back another - or didn't come back AT ALL.

He is the Quantico drill instructor that has never seen combat - but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other's backs.

He is the parade - riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket - palsied now and aggravatingly slow - who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.

He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being, a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.

So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say Thank You. That's all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.

Two little words that mean a lot, "THANK YOU".

Remember November 11th is Veterans Day

"It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier, Who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, Who allows the protestor to burn the flag."

Father Denis Edward O'Brien, USMC

To everyone who has served: Thanks.
Another link.

I was reading Barbette and she has posted a number of links to Marine bloggers in honor of the 230th birthday of the Marine Corps. I picked one at random and liked it a great deal. So I add Daisy Cutter to my list of links.

I particularly like Daisy Cutter's post on what it's like to be a part of something bigger than yourself. I also like the fact that he also doesn't think John McCain's military service automatically means us veterans have to like him.

Daisy cutters, by the way, are bombs fused to explode above ground level. Very nice weapons to be on the delivering end of. The BLU-82 and the MOAB are two examples.

Oh, and Happy Birthday to the Corps.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I've been reading JB's Sanctuary for some time now, but just now managed to see his link to a history of the 10th Special Forces Group.

It was a walk down memory lane. I actually saw some names I knew and I definitely remember the Nigerian MTT. I was later assigned to that company, though I was languishing in Signal Company at the time of the MTT.

Recommended reading.
Blackfive has some comments on how the Left Coast--San Francisco in particular--exposed the utter lack of critical thought that seems to be endemic to that area.

The denizens of San Fran have voted to ban firearms and an even more dangerous weapon--military recruiters--from Frisco.

You know, if we dealt properly with the human factor, firearms wouldn't be a problem. But in places like Frisco humans aren't a factor. It's the guns, dammit...

And military recruiters certainly pose a hazard--can't have them offering career potential to the locals...
Didn't check email yesterday as I had a lot of other things going on, so I'm a bit late posting this, but it's worth a shot.

From Barb:

Chuck Ziegenfuss, our inspiration for Project Valour-IT (Soldiers' Angels / http://soldiersangels.org/valour/index.html) has announced that his lovely wife Carren will be interviewed on MSNBC's "Connected - Coast to Coast" tomorrow at noon Eastern time. His post is here : http://tcoverride.blogspot.com/2005/11/publicity-stunt.html
Please share this news far and wide, if you are a blogger - post it and cross-post it! Watch the show, record it, blog about it. This is excellent coverage for this wonderful project!

Congratulations to Barb, the Ziegenfusses and all of the others who have worked so hard on this project.

TOO LATE UPDATE: "Tommorow" is today.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The "blogosphere" is quite a place. It contains giants, both good and bad, as well as gems. The giants are out there for everyone to see. On the "good" side we have such blogs as Powerline and Michelle Malkin (one of the smartest people to ever live, I think). On the "bad" side we have things like Daily Kos and Democratic Underground (not technically a 'blog'), which both serve to prove that there are statistically significant numbers of people who are so consumed with hate that they will literally crawl through sewers to express their hate.

Then there are the gems. I'm trying to link to as many of them as I can. I'm waaay behind on the task, and I realize that it's an impossible quest. Nonetheless, I'm adding new links when I get the chance. If I haven't linked to your site, don't be offended. I just haven't "gotten to it". And really, a link from this blog won't suddenly put you in the top ten, so don't stand on your head waiting.

Anyway, I've added a few new links. When you get a chance check out Mauser Girl (I have a Mauser, too, by the way), Gunn Nutt, The Gun Line, Texas Music, Grouchy Old Cripple and Chin Music.

And yes, I give preference to military people. It's an incredibly powerful bond.

On the down side, FinnCanuck at Sotamies has stopped posting--hopefully it's temporary as he's become busy working, and SFAlphageek has disappeared--most likely a military deployment. I emailed SFAlphageek questioning his disappearence, but my questions bordered on OPSEC violation so I don't know if he didn't get the email or chose to ignore it.

More links and more of my own insanity to come.
I see someone from Australia was able to hold his or her breath long enough to suffer this blog. In honor of the event, here's a photo of Snake Eater, jr. from his trip to Australia and New Zealand two summers ago as a Student Ambassador. I think the Koala was named Jack.

Koala Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The ACLU is made up of vampires.


As Michelle Malkin reports, they can't tolerate the sight of a cross. A symptom of vampirehood, as I recall. I'd just love to break into their headquarters and spray them with holy water--I can only imagine the mayhem that would cause.

I'm not the most religious person in the world, but I've never been "offended" by a religious symbol--not even a crescent.

Some people just have axes to grind and don't mind being a$$holes as they grind them.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Ah, Halloween.

In 12 years at this house we've never had a single trick-or-treater. We've always taken the kids to the sister-in-law's place, which is in a neighborhood. This year, however, I'm staying behind "just in case". Since the kids started riding the bus last spring, the kids out on the main road are aware there are houses back here, so there's a chance, albeit a small one, that someone may show up at the door.

Didn't get to carving pumpkins until this evening, so I went for expediency, much to the wife's chagrin. I took the romance out of pumpkin carving according to her. Didn't know there was any romance in it, but what the hey. Anyway, got the reciprocating saw. One minute, two pumpkins beheaded. "What shape eyes to you want?" "Round". Gooood. Grabbed a Forstner bit--instant eyes. Back to the saw--noses, mouths...jiffy jack o'lanterns.

Well, I'll be damned. I didn't stay home for nought. Just had some kids stop by. Their parents (two families, I think) loaded them in a trailor and pulled them about half a mile up the road with a garden tractor. Figured they'll be the only ones, so I loaded them up with Smarties, Dracula erasers and Crayons. The kids were impressed and assured me they'd be back next year.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

I mentioned the other day that I suspect Cindy Sheehan pops a woody every time they announce another US death in Iraq. Fred Schoeneman links to photos of people doing just that at a 2000th death "celebration".

Don't miss NOTR's photo of Cindy copping a feel of Jesse Jackson, either.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Another video, but this one is a must-see. It's a street entertainer with a skeleton marionette. The guy's skill and sense of humor are both superb. I like it when the skeleton takes notice of passing women...

I'm brand new to cable internet, so I'm fully aware of just how painful it would be to download this on a dialup connection, but it's completely safe for work (where you have that wonderful T1 connection). Just turn your speakers down.

The dancing skeleton.
The memories brought back by yesterday were topped off with a light note when my daughter brought a honeybun home from school.

I know it sounds odd, but every time I see a honeybun my mind goes back to SF school at Camp Mackall. We mostly ate C-rations, but periodically we got hot meals brought from Ft. Bragg in mermite cans. On the occasions that we had a hot breakfast, we always got a honeybun. Somehow they become a fixation with everyone. When we went for morning runs we left the compound by one gate and returned through the other which was preceded by a long, steep hill which became known as "Honeybun Hill" after a few honeybuns were deposited there on post-breakfast runs.

Which leads me to another memory. The winter of 80-81 was bitter cold, and the C-rations were stored in an unheated metal shed. We were regularly issued frozen rations, which led to what might be the only case in history of someone breaking a tooth while eating applesauce.
Cindy Sheehan can drop the grieving mother act any time. We all know better. Instead, she's a cynical narcissist who is using the deaths of her betters to draw attention to herself. I have no doubt that she pops a woody every time another death is announced.

Sure, we could withdraw tomorrow, but then Iraq would collapse and every death--her son's, Norman's, all of them--would have been for absolutely nought. Iraq would live on as a festering bastion of Islamist hate . That being the case, we would have nothing to do but wait for the next attack, which would make 9/11 pale in comparison.

As it is, we're on the road to creating a nation state with the ability ensure its security and turn back the murder crazed Islamists who are flocking to the country.

And turn them back, it will. The people of Iraq are tired of the bombs. They're tired of children being killed. They want peace and security just like we do. This is the word from the people there, on the ground. The people who know. I know this is all news to Michael "Cargo Drop" Moore, Phil "I Boned 'That Girl'" Donahue, Teddy "I Got Away With It" Kennedy, Cindy "Look At Me" Sheehan and others of that ilk, but they just don't know.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Lance Cpl. Norman W. Anderson III was killed by a car bomb in Iraq. He was patrolling the Syrian border, preventing foreign murder crazed Islamic fascists from entering Iraq for the sole purpose of killing westerners.

LCPL Anderson's dad served on the same A-Team as I did back in the '80s. I had a good rant planned for today, but I'm off to visit instead.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Since I'm in an airborne frame of mind, some more paratrooper porn for you.

Some interesting exits--a couple of guys look like they'll still be bicycling out twists when they hit the ground.
This guy is good. Really good.

If you've ever been a paratrooper you'll get it. If not, just enjoy the dance.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I don't watch a lot of television, fortunately. When I do it's generally History Channel, things like that. Well, Sci Fi channel, but I'll deny it if asked...

Anyway, I caught the Fox News Channel for the first time in a very long time last night. Watched the Bill O'Reilly show. I run hot and cold on O'Reilly--I might watch him three or four times over a year, so I'm no slavish fan, and while I often agree with him, I also often see him as sort of overwhelming, almost bullyish.

Last night O'Reilly interviewed a guy who calls himself Malik Zulu Shabazz. Right off the bat, the guy gets zero points for originality. Way back when, a guy named Malcolm Little changed his name to Malcolm X, and then eventually to Malik Shabazz. They historic figure we know as Malcolm X was Malik Shabazz before the snot in question was even born.

Originality aside, the new Malik Shabazz has been something of a gadfly since his days at what is euphemistically called an "Historically Black University". In other words, he went to a school at which whites are as welcome as a randy dog at a Miss Lovely Legs contest. Shabazz is an acolyte of Screwy Louie Farrakhan and refuses to refute anything Farrakhan has said--not even Farrakhan's assertions that he was once beamed into an alien spacecraft.

Shabazz continues in the Farrakhan tradition: he's clad in a very expensive looking suit, and just like Louie--and I'm damned if I know why this is such a priority--he's wearing very expensive glasses. It's a fetish the two share. Nonetheless, both of them are living very expansive lives, funded by people who hardly know where their next meal is coming from.

I wasn't paying much attention, so I don't know how the interview started, but eventually O'Reilly got to the the people who used the neo-Nazi march in Ohio as an excuse to go wilding. O'Reilly asked Shabazz point blank if he understood that the rioters handed the skinheads a victory. Shabazz refused to acknowledge the point, but I couldn't agree more with O'Reilly on that issue. A bunch of ignorant whites exercised their freedom of speech to broadcast their message that blacks are animals, and a small group of blacks did their level best to prove the point. They certainly don't represent all or even most blacks. The rioters were an infinitesimal portion of the black population (just as the skinheads are an infinitesimal part of the white population), but they made the news. Not only did they show themselves to be contemptible, but they stole they spotlight from the skinheads. Rather than concentrate on the ignorance and hate of the skinheads, we ended up focusing on the behavior of the rioters. And Shabazz, who has become somewhat influential despite the fact that he's a jerk and doesn't amount to a pimple on a paratrooper's a$$, utterly missed his opportunity to say that. I have no problems pointing out whites who are ignorant jerks, but Shabazz is so wrapped up in race he can't even condemn other blacks who behave like savages.

Saw a car yesterday sporting at least a dozen bumper stickers, nearly all relating to vegetarianism. Most of the stickers indicated a disdain for meat eaters. Subtle digs like "Meat Eaters Suck".

As it drove off I noticed one more sticker, proclaiming "I'm Straight, but not Narrow".

I'd have to argue that.

Friday, October 14, 2005

A house about a mile up on the main road is advertising "Labradoodle" puppies for sale.

I'm thinking they must have gotten the labrador retriever drunk, since no self-respecting lab would ever make it with a poodle.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Toni at MyView reports on a documentary being made about a Marine Corps Reserve platoon deployed to Iraq. You can follow the link from her site to some more information and two trailers.

There are some good lines in the trailers. A young guy, probably the platoon leader, instructs his men to shot to kill when engaged. "We need to establish a reputation". Good advice, I think. People are far less inclined to mess with you if you have a track record of greasing those who do. Another good line comes from an older officer--didn't catch his rank, but maybe the battalion commander. He says, "How much ass needs to be kicked?...We'll let the enemy decide that".

Another thing I noted was that their flak vests now have a groin flap. I've never noticed that in an infantryman's vest before. Up until very close to the end of my time in the Army I had the old vest that was front and back and laced together on the sides. Toward the end I got a vest that went completely around and zipped in the front. I suspect that a groin flap might have made me just a bit braver...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Sunday was a day for the worst and best of professional sports.

I'm not really a big pro sports fan. I'd rather watch college ball, or even high school or Little League. There you see kids trying their hearts out (for the most part). And minor league baseball is pro baseball at a bargain price. Sure, they drop catches sometimes, but it's a good game, anyway--they're trying their hearts out to make "the show". No slackers there. And they're not yet above the rest of us. They'll give a kid an autograph, a batting glove, you name it. They're still tickled to death to be somebody's hero.

Well, yesterday I turned on a football game (at my son's urging, for the record), and what we saw wasn't football. It was brawling in the tradition of the Ravens, a thuggish team in a league known for thugs. If I were an announcer looking for a cute turn of phrase with which to gain notoriety, I'd have pronounced it "footbrawl". The Ravens tied the all time NFL record for most penalties in a game and in the process had two players ejected and several serious penalties which resulted in the ball being moved halfway (no set number of yards) to the other team's goal line. The ejections were inexcusible. I know not all NFL players are literate, but at least they can be trained. At least two Ravens were never trained that you never, NEVER, shove an official. Another one got into a tiff with and official and expressed his anger by throwing the football into the sideline crowd at a distance of 10 feet. He got called for unsportsmanlike conduct and actually argued that call. What a maroon. Sheesh.

Then, for the best of sports. Another pro game, but a good pro game. Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves. Wow. Possibly the best pro game ever played. They fought each other until the bottom of the 18th inning. No punches, no beanballs, just good baseball. For a while it looked like Atlanta had it in the bag. Then Houston came back and they went toe-to toe, pitcher-to-batter, for the equivalent of two straight baseball games. You could see that the players were tired, and the umpires had to be absolutely smoked, but it went on and it was good baseball. Finally, at the right time, a young slugger from Houston fired one down the third base line that made it over the fence. Game over.

Check out Guidons, Guidons, Guidons for a similar take.