Monday, October 31, 2005
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
Don't miss NOTR's photo of Cindy copping a feel of Jesse Jackson, either.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
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
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.
About a month ago the ceiling in the kitchen began leaking water. It became clear it was from the toilet in the master bedroom, and the leak is in the pipe between the bathroom floor and the kitchen ceiling. My wife won't let me cut a hole in the ceiling (even though she wants it repainted yesterday), so we're at loggerheads. The toilet remains out of commission because she won't let me fix it.
In the last week (so help me) we've lost two more toilets, the washer and the dryer. I fixed the toilets. In both cases a bolt holding the bowl to the tank corroded and dropped out. I replaced bolts and wax rings (just because), and all is well. The dryer started making way more noise than usual. I took it apart and found a piece of plastic in the blower fan. Within minutes of having fixed the dryer, my wife announced the washer was acting funny.
The washer's issue seemed to be with the pressure switch (which tells it when it's full of water), but I'm beginning to think it's with the card that tells it when to spin, drain, etc.
So far I'm three for five, but who could have imagined having three toilets, a washer and a dryer all go south in less than four weeks?
Reminds me of an old movie called "Amazon Women on the Moon". A very strange movie, but mostly a parody of what late night TV used to be like. It's made up of vignettes surrounding the eponymous movie. The opening scene, however, has nothing to do with the rest of the movie. It's called "Mondo Condo" and features a guy coming home from work to find that his appliances have all rebelled against him. That's how I feel right now.
Addendum: I'd forgotten, but my run of luck began about three weeks ago when a nipple in the line between the well and the water tank sprang a pinhole leak and the resultant high-velocity aerosol thoroughly soaked my work bench and everything on it. Took me as long to clean up the water as it did to fix the leak.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Went to a deal at the Girl Scout leader's house the other night. All of the girls in the troop go to parochial school with my kids, and I am definitely po' folk in that crowd. (On occasions when my wife makes me go to church I take great delight in pointing out those who double park their BMW SUVs so they don't get scratched, then walk past the poor box without a thought. She usually doesn't bug me about going back for a couple of months...)
Anyway, I'm sitting there amongst a very affluent group (not a beer in sight, $%*& it), listening to them, and I'll take my SF buddies over that group any day.
Got one skinny, undersized guy who has to be heard, no matter what. Probably a salesweasel. Has the obligatory kewpie doll-looking wife. Here he is in somebody else's house and he loses track of his three-year old. Never got off his posterior. He went on at length on how his kid dismantles things, then opines that since it's dark he doesn't think the kid will wander far. Never got off his butt to look for the kid. Kid eventually shows up and starts breaking stuff. The guy and his wife tell the kid to stop two or three times, then go back to dominating conversation. The kid knew they wouldn't do squat, so he never paid one bit of attention to them. I hope I don't have to see them again. Not just because the guy is annoying, but also because I don't want to listen to their whining when said kid grows up to be a sh*thead.
Then the subject of school band came up. The girls are fourth graders, so they've been invited to begin instrumental music this year. One of the joys of parochial school is that band is not covered in tuition. Musical instruction is supplied by a contractor. So I get to spend the kids' college fund on tuition and my beer money on band. It's ok. I call it being a parent.
Well, another kewpie doll wife (with dark roots in her platinum hair) had just been going on at length about how they lease a place at the ocean every summer and spend most of the summer there. That's fine. I drive a 15-year old truck, but I don't much like the beach anyway. Moments later she related that her husband announced that if band was going to cost $60 a month, no way in hell was their daughter going to join. In other words, they spend all summer at the beach, but 60 bucks a month is too much to give their daughter the opportunity to explore instrumental music.
I @$%#*!@ hate people.
Oh, and for the record my son has opted to continue playing tenor saxophone and my daughter has picked up the torch and is playing my old clarinet. I'm still playing baritone bugle in a drum and bugle corps. And the wife...well, she plays on my nerves.
I'm told by both Fred Schoeneman and Jen Martinez that the "propaganda poster" I linked to on Fred's site is the work of a lefty who thinks his reworked posters are some form of high satire.
Anti-war I can live with. You can be against the war and still make sense, but go to this guy's web site and you see the usual lefty nonsense: the name of our country spelled "AmeriKKKa", garbage like that. Most of his reworked posters are pretty far out, too.
The guy's name is Micah, of all things. Most of the time I'm above making fun of somebody's name, and I have a kind of funny name, too. But "Micah" fer chrissake? Obviously his mom did some heavy drugs while pregnant, which might explain a few things...
Thursday, October 06, 2005
At first look I thought the aircraft is a C-7 Caribou, but the sponson-like things on the fuselage aren't right.
I have sort of a soft spot for Caribous as I made what has to have been one of the last ever US military parachute drops from a Caribou. The Air Force had completely eliminated them from its inventory and someone got the idea to transfer a few to Reserve Componant Special Forces units. 20th Group HQ in Alabama got one or two of them. I have no idea where they were able to scare up pilots and crew for them, but at least one got off the ground and made it to Maryland and we jumped into Edgewood Arsenal.
It was quite the experience. The C-7 has piston engines, just like those in a car, vice the turbine engines on a C-130 or the jets on a C-141 or C-17. It was a blast from the past, as they say. And sloooow. We took off trailing dense plumes of smoke behind us. There was a 55-gallon drum strapped to the forward bulkhead with a hand pump on top. Every so often the loadmaster would look at his watch, head for the drum and pump the handle several times. Don't know if it was engine oil or hydraulic fluid, but obviously something was leaking or burning at quite a rate on that bird.
There are no jump doors on a C-7, just the ramp. Ramp jumps on a C-130 are easy--get to the end of the ramp, hop a foot into the air, and by the time you come back down the aircraft is no longer underneath you. CH-47s are ramp jumps, too, and a lot slower than a 130, but I dislike them so much I usually flung myself out with great zeal. Never helped them in my opinion that you exit right into the exhaust stream from two tubines, so you get to suck kerosene fumes on the way.
Anyway, we crossed the DZ nice and slow in the Caribou and out we went. Some of the guys actually banged their packing trays on the ramp, being as they were anticipating a normal (i.e. fast) pass since it was a fixed wing aircraft. Minor stuff, really. What I liked was the lack of turbulance and the nice, easy slow speed exit.
It was also the absolute only jump I ever made where was so little wind that the canopy dropped right down on top of me. Loved it.
Years later I met a guy who had married a woman whose maiden name was Caribou. Not thinking things through, I told him that I had once jumped a Caribou. To this day I remember his expression.
Just for grins, you can find some photos of C-7s here. I should warn you that the gallery contains one of the most searing photos of the Vietnam War as well. This photo is of a C-7 which had just lifted off after a resupply mission to a firebase when it was hit by an outgoing artillery shell from the firebase.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Tonight "Top Gear" had a special treat for me. They tested a TVR.
At this point I'll have to come clean and admit that I seem to be attracted to quirky things, both automotive and human.
TVRs are about as quirky as any automobiles ever were. To make it worse, while I certainly like the new TVRs, my favorites are those produced in the 60s. I covet one of those even more than I covet a Ferrari. The odd name comes from the name of the company's founder, Trevor Wilkinson.
How odd are they? Check out this beautiful 1965 Griffith. By the way, I watched a Griffith absolutely thump a big ol' Corvette at a vintage auto race near Salzburg. Here's a side view of a Griffith.
Here's some more eye candy: a 2500M and a Taimar.
And finally, a Vixen. Some salesguy at a store in Nashua, which is where I lived when I was stationed at Ft. Devens, had a Griffith. I saw it in the parking lot one day and went straight into the store, found him and asked him what he wanted. So much for my poker face. It was beat up and he obviously didn't give a hoot about it, but when he saw my enthusiasm, things changed. Didn't get the car.
I'm currently accepting TVR donations...
Monday, October 03, 2005
It was like nothing I have ever experienced. The guy literally would not let me cancel the account. I must have said "That's fine, but I simply want to cancel my account. NOW" ten times. I actually backed down because I woke up everyone in the house after five minutes on the line with this guy. I told him I was sick to death of my connectivity issues with AOL. He asked me to explain my problem as he is a floor supervisor in Tech Support. Oh? Then why are you answering phones on the "cancel" line? I know everyone at AOL reads from a script, but does that script include lying about your job there? Apparently.
Anyway, after some time I had woken everyone up and needed to back off. He extended my account for free and promised to email me details of the half-dozen offers he threw at me too fast for anyone to comprehend.
Did I get the details emailed to me? What do you think...
Sunday, October 02, 2005
I'm not sure what to say except we seem to be one step closer to the precipice. Tolerance appears to be a one-way street.
Workers in the benefits department at Dudley Council, West Midlands, were told to remove or cover up all pig-related items, including toys, porcelain figures, calendars and even a tissue box featuring Winnie the Pooh and Piglet.
Muslims can't even tolerate Piglet? If alarm bells aren't going off big time in your head right now, there is no hope for you. Islamist elements are bending our culture to be acceptable to them, and we're going along with it, lest we offend them. A Muslim coming to the west should expect to see pigs. He/she (should I write "she" in a smaller font so I don't offend male Muslims?) doesn't have to eat them, but needs to accept that we have them. Don't like it? Too bad.
Now here's "tolerance" for you:
Councilor Mahbubur Rahman, a practising Muslim, backed the ban. He said: ?It's a tolerance of people's beliefs.
By that logic, banning Islamic symbols would be a tolerance of my beliefs. It's the exact same thing. Good thing I'm one hell of a lot more tolerant than Rahman and his ilk.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
Recently HUD chief Alphonso Jackson predicted that the "new" New Orleans will no longer be a majority black city. Immediately the Black Congressional Congress and luminaries such as Jesse Jackson, et al, jumped on the statement.
Now, as far as I can tell, it's a fairly neutral statement, but even I know it's the kind of thing that will just get you in trouble, and I'm not even smart enough to head a federal agency such as HUD. Race is an incredibly touchy issue and unless you're saying something positive (as opposed to merely neutral), it's best just to leave it unsaid. I do have some non-racial thoughts about the "new" New Orleans, which I'll post later. I stumbled on a premise I find rather interesting.
Lesson two involves Halloween costumes, which is why I put "speech" in quotes. Apparently visual things such as flag burning and photographs of crucifixes in urine are "speech", so here we go.
There's a new shop up in town which is selling Halloween-related items. They only have 30 days to make money, so they're going full court press to publicize themselves. When I drove by early this morning they had several people standing along the road, wearing costumes and holding signs. I saw Darth Vader and a clown, albeit a very creepy clown. Now I'm not real wild about the clown--Halloween was once witches and goblins, but now it has to be edgy. I can live without the clown. But I can live with him, too. He was merely creepy, not offensive.
Later in the day there had been a shift change and right in the middle of the biggest intersection in town I beheld the obligatory offensive costumes. A pregnant nun accompanied by a priest sporting an enormous woody.
The question is Why? They could have been vampires, ghosts or Porky Pig. But they had to be something that a lot of people would find offensive. Right there, just like Mr. Jackson, they simply weren't thinking.
But just like Mr. Jackson's unthinking statement, this one is going to bite them in the posterior like a pit bull (I was tempted to say "Like a tiger biting a certain effeminate magician", but I know better than to say things like that...). Because as they stood at that intersection, the vast majority of the traffic was emanating from an event a quarter of a mile away---A flea market at the largest Catholic parish in the entire state had just shut down.