Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I'm in a military frame of mind again. I had a number of things occur this week that got me headed in that direction.

A reader (I actually have one!!!) expressed an interest in military history. I was in the military and happen to be a history buff as well. Can't get any better than that.

Then my father brought over a CD of photos and films which my brother took in Iraq (more on that later). Last night I watched two C-130s fly over the house, and then tonight when I should have been doing better things I got hooked into a TV show (the kids left the TV on after I chased them to bed) about the efforts to rescue the captured members of the 507th Maintenance Company.

The C-130 flyover wasn't anything out of the ordinary. There's an Air National Guard wing maybe 20 or 30 miles from here and flyovers by C-130s and A-10s used to be frequent. They're much less frequent since the war--in fact I haven't seen an A-10 in several years--but just seeing them isn't remarkable. But these 130s had more lights than I can ever recall seeing. Not enough to be some sort of weird UN C-130 variant like the "black helicopters" (if you actually believe in that stuff), but they were very impressive. 130s have a unique sound, between the roar of the propellers and the whine of the turbo engines, and they have always really impressed me. Combine that with the extra set of lights on the wings and it was a neat display.

C-103s were our primary jump platform when I was in the Army. I've jumped a lot of other aircraft, but it's the sound and sight of a C-130 that always gets my blood pumping.

Yes, my brother is in Iraq. He was an engineer officer and took a buyout some years ago when the Army was downsizing. Thing is, any time the military gives you a payoff to resign your commission, they retain a hook in you. With all of the problems with roadside mines, IEDs and all of that sort of thing, the Army finds itself most in need of engineers. So much so that an overweight 41-year old former engineer captain becomes fair play.

I have his CD and there are just no really compelling images on it to post. Lots of photos of....damned if I know. And lots of videos taken over the hood of a Humvee. They seem to be hauling down the road, but it's too dark to see much. Just a sensation that they are driving quickly.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

After a couple of light-hearted posts, I'm back to the Terri Schiavo case. Strangely enough, this case really bothers me. We have school shootings and I don't even know what else, but the cold bloodedness of this whole thing sticks with me.

Here's an interesting article, via Powerline.

The point everyone makes is that Terri isn't brain dead. She's disabled. Should we unplug everyone who needs a motorized wheelchair with a joystick? I guess she's just so much of a burden on her husband's life, even though her parents have done all of the caring for her while he's pretty much gone off to live his own life which lacks only the legal stamp of "remarried".

He wants the insurance money. That's clear to anyone smarter than Ted Kennedy (i.e. most of us). Can't prove anything, but there is a lot there to make us wonder if he didn't have something to do with her "accident" in the first place. Coupled with allegations that he used to accost caregivers with questions such as "Is the bitch dead yet?" and "When is that bitch going to die?", you just have to wonder.

This case brings ever us closer-no, it brings us right there. It brings us to the point where we presume to be God. We can make the decision that a particular life isn't worth living. Nobody asked Terri. "We", as a represented people, simply made the decision that her life isn't worth prolonging.

What's next?
Couple of sure fire Easter-time recipes for you (Holiday menus being absolute dogma here, Easter always, always means ham). Yes, Easter has passed, but I've always said that I have the world's worst timing.

The dressing recipe works with ham year round, not just at Easter. Probably also works with chicken--anything that a pineapple taste would accompany well. And the mustard sauce works with everything. Ham, cheese, hot dogs--you name it.

This is good stuff-honest. Absolute staples here.

Pineapple Dressing

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained
6 slices day old bread, cubed

Cream butter and sugar together, beat in eggs. Stir in pineapple. Fold in bread cubes. Put into greased 1 1/2 qt. casserole. Bake uncovered at 350 for 45 minutes.

That's the "heirloom" recipe. Actually it's more like eight or so slices of bread. Stir bread in until it's looking sort of dry. It'll come out just fine. Six slices of bread comes out pretty wet. More bread feeds more people, anyway. Seriously, this is good stuff. Try it with chicken in the summer, whatever. People like it a lot.

Mustard Sauce

1/2 cup dry mustard
1/2 cup vinegar

Combine the above, shake well and let them sit overnight.

On top of a double boiler beat one egg, then add 1/3 cup sugar, dash of salt and the mustard mixture. Cook over hot (not boiling) water until it thickens slightly and coats a spoon. Cool. Mix about 50/50 with mayonnaise (I'm a Miracle Whip person).

Obviously, once made it goes a long way. Keep the base mixture in a container and spoon it out, mixing it 50/50 (or so) with your favorite poison (mayonnaise or salad dressing) as needed. Taste it and adjust it as you go--a bit more mayo, a bit more mustard...Cooking the egg in the double broiler requires some restraint--keep the heat a bit low so that you don't end up with scrambled egg. Don't sweat the cooking of the egg. It's probably cooked just fine, and anyway the vinegar reduces the pH to the point where bad bacteria die anyway. If you accidentally end up with some scrambled egg, just put the mixture through a sieve (this is the voice of experience). Good stuff, I promise. Works well with ham, very good with cheese, summer sausage, chicken, hot name it. It's a year-round recipe.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Easter. Another holiday passes beneath the bridge, carried on the confluence of the many rivers that constitute our life experiences.

As I was growing up we traded holidays around--Thanksgiving at my aunt's, Christmas at the grandparent's, Easter at my parents' place. And some times a New Year's Day thrown in. Then a new order was agreed upon for the next year.

For whatever reason, it's holidays at my grandparents' place that I remember the most. We'd wake up and open Christmas presents or Easter baskets, hit church and then embark on the two-hour drive to their place. For a kid, a two-hour drive is very nearly interminable. I hated it. Passionately. And when we got there, there was very little to do but read my grandfather's collection of Pennsylvania Game News magazines and play a few board games which they kept for the grandchildren. Yet, somehow, those visits are most firmly embedded n my mind. Even more so than the holidays we hosted at our house.

Food was of paramount importance at my grandparents'. They were both of sturdy Pennsylvania Dutch stock, the descendants of farmers, and hard work breeds imposing appetites. My grandfather was a civilian airframe and powerplant mechanic for the Army Air Forces-later the US Air Force--following a brief stint as a bomber pilot flying a biplane bomber which I believe was called a "Liberty", and my grandmother was a social worker in an era when few women held college degrees and worked.

My parents were somewhat older when I was born (a tradition I carried on), so all of my memories of my grandparents are post-retirement. I mentioned food...

Entering their house between breakfast and lunch was the beginning of a day-long sensory experience. The kitchen had the atmosphere of a rain forest as water vapor rose off of the pots of boiling potatoes and carrots. Meanwhile, the whole house was redolent of coffee and bacon from breakfast, carried further by the vapors from the yet-to-come dinner. Better yet was to arrive the night before and have breakfast there as well.

Dinner was the high point of the day. The food was very nearly unending. Thinking back to those days, I have no idea how we consumed so much food. A proper Pennsylvania Dutch dinner consists of seven sweets and seven sours, so there was always a relish plate with sour onions, sweet onions, sour pickles, sweet pickles, etc. Not to mention ham, vegetables, pineapple stuffing and mustard sauce (ask me for the recipes) and dessert. These days I could pretty much fill up on the relish plate alone.

And Pennsylvania Game News magazine is a pretty interesting read. The best part is "Field Notes", where game wardens report some of their more interesting experiences.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Via Little Green Footballs, a case that makes the Terri Schiavo situation that much more troubling.

Friday, March 25, 2005

The Terri Schiavo case has me all balled up. As someone who has lived a life which involved weapons and killing a commie for mommy, you would think that I would have a sort of throwaway view of life.

I don't.

Killing terrorists, commies, whatever in the heat of battle is one thing. But I honestly have no idea how anyone can cold bloodedly order that an apparently responsive person be condemned to a painful death by starvation/dehydration.

I looked for links, briefly. There is so much blogging going on about this (and rightly so) that it takes a bit of digging to find a link to a supposedly neutral news source. I found lot of links with information that appeared legitimate to me, but I wanted to link to a known news source so that I couldn't be accused of linking to biased sources (as though the mainstream news isn't).

Couldn't find any in the brief walkabout I took, but I found information aplenty. Things such as--and I don't doubt this for a second--a plan written for the first time Terri was supposed to be starved to death. Whether or not the memo is genuine, I think, as a scientist, that the information is. Basically, it prescibes a regimine of naprosyn suppositories to reduce pain and emollients to hide the effects of dehydration.

If she's brain dead as some claim (and the videos put the lie to it), why the naprosyn?

This case should be haunting people. Something happened to her in the first place, and there is a lot of reason to think that her husband had something to do with it. There are affidavits that he asked caregivers in her facility things like "Is the bitch dead yet?" and "Is she ever going to die?"

It's not a question of dying with dignity (and as one who has seen many deaths I can assure you that there is no such thing). He wants her dead. He may have tried to kill her in the first place--I don't know, but it sure seems possible--but at any rate it's without question that he wants her dead now.

As I write this, she may have already passed away. If she hasn't, she's going to. Nobody except her "loving" husband can change that. He won't, so I truly hope that as I write this she's dead. It's clear from the videos that she's alert and can feel, so I hope that she passes quickly without prolonged hunger and thirst pangs.

I'm not a religious man, at all. But Godspeed, Terri. And if there really is a God, I hope He rips you a new one Micheal Schiavo, you selfish bastard.