Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Television . . .

Call me boring, but I like TV. Escapist TV, that is. I can't do the "slice of life" stuff that normally shows up on Lifetime. I see "life" every day. Extending it into my down time just doesn't work. So, costume dramas, mild science fiction, and adventure is what I look for.
Here on the east coast, TV is an hour later than my Midwestern mind can assimilate - particularly when I have to get up at 0500 every morning. So, thank you, electrical engineers, for cable and DVR.

There are two programs I have been recording lately. The first is a rather unusual extension of the Terminator movies - Terminator, the Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Probably the most interesting character in the series is Cameron (Summer Glau), a re-programmed terminator sent to protect John Connor. Her name is a paean to James Cameron, the director of the first two Terminator movies.

The photo below shows most of her. She previously appeared in "Firefly" and "Serenity." She has a rather odd appearance, but moves like a dancer - which she is. An extremely talented ballet dancer, which was exhibited in Monday's episode.

The other is The Tudors on Showtime. I religiously watched The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Elizabeth R, Elizabeth, Elizabeth - the Golden Years and a few others. I watch them again every time they pop up on TV or cable. English history is intriguing to me, since my g.grandfather and g.grandmother emigrated here from Coseley, Staffordshire. Also, Sir Leonard Halliday, a distant (too many greats to enumerate here) grandfather, was Lord Mayor of London in 1605.

This series begins its second season on 30 March. In spite of many odd twists of history - like Henry FitzRoy dying at the age of three, or Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk marrying Margaret Tudor (after she marries and kills the King of Portugal . . . huh?) - it has very good acting, great costuming and scenery and an interesting story line. Natalie Dormer, whom I had never seen before, is an excellent Anne Boleyn.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sunday odds and ends . . .

Walmart: Unfortunately, we always seem to end up there around noon on Sunday - which appears to be the busiest time of the week. They were stocking shelves in the middle of the rush. Pallets and boxes were stacked everywhere. People were queued up about six deep at every checkout. Oh, and a little more than half of the thirty checkouts were closed. Old Sam must be spinning in his grave. He believed in customer service.

Boobage: Don't the rich and famous actresses at the Oscars own a mirror . . . or have a friend? Ladies, strapless gowns are great. But, they should fit. Little rolls of boobage over the front or under your armpits aren't attractive at all. If you want to know how to wear strapless, look at Jessica Alba.

Reege: How tall was the box you had to stand on in order to see eye-to-eye with Miley Cyrus?

Ryan Seacrest: Same question.

Gary Busey: Are you freakin' insane?

Jennifer Garner: I miss "Alias." Oh, and you need to know that Gary Busey is insane.

Songs: Is there a song nominated that I would buy? Nope. No way.

NASCAR: When the minutes of commercials exceed the miles in the race, it's time to reassess.

Monday: I have to fix a project that someone else hosed up, explain adjustments that I didn't make, and add back parts that a blue-ribbon (?) panel removed.

Friday: That's my day off, but I've been requested to attend a meeting.

Positive Note: Daughter and family intend to visit this summer. Yay!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Insane . . .

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sharia . . .

The Archbishop of Canterbury says the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK "seems unavoidable".

Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4's World at One that the UK has to "face up to the fact" that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system. He says Muslims should not have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty".
I think this guy generally makes more sense . . . .:

Than this guy:

We have a similar situation in the U.S. We call those who do not "relate to the American legal system" convicts.

Move along . . . move along . . . nothing to see here . . . nothing to see . . .

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Where is the freakin cellphone?

I'm very careful with my cellphone, but, on the very rare occasion, I put it down somewhere without thinking. I'm sure no one else does that. I'm alone in my absentmindedness.

Anyhow, a few days ago, I went to pick up my phone, and it was not on the desk where I always, carefully, faithfully, without fail, place it. It was not there. I was a bit worried, because I once had one of those handy little holsters they give us broke, and my phone fell off in the street. Luckily, an honest passerby found it and I was able to retrieve it.

I pick up the landline in the kitchen and call my cell number, waiting for the ring. Sure enough, I hear the ring in the living room. I walk into the living room, looking for the sound, but no, now it sounds like it's in the bedroom. Into the bedroom. Nothing, and the phone stops ringing. It's waiting for a message.

Hang up. Back to the kitchen. Redial. Ringing in the living room again. Back to the living room. Now I have it figured out. Its in the loft next to my computer. Up the stairs. Nothing on the computer desk. The phone stops ringing. It's waiting for another message. I doubt that a message will do me much good.

Back to the kitchen. Redial. Ringing in the living room. I look under the couch cushions, on the floor, in my coat. Nothing. The phone stops ringing. Disgusted, I sit down.

Segue and cue the television. Have you seen the commercial with the woman holding the baby with the cellphone? Every time she turns around, the phone seems to be behind her.

Yep. When I got out of my car, my cell phone was pushed around behind me. The lump in my back when I sat on the couch gave me the final clue. No wonder it always seemed to be ringing from somwhere else. I guess this is the electronic version of searching for glasses while they're perched on the top of your head.
There's an old joke . . .

. . . about a lady worm in a cotton field. She was being romanced by two male worms. One commanded great territory in the field, but was arrogant and rude. The other had a much smaller wormdom, but was polite and kind. After much thought, naturally, the lady chose the lesser of the two weevils.

Which leads me to:
WASHINGTON, AP 02/20/07 - Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton must win 57 percent of the remaining primary and caucus delegates to erase Barack Obama's
lead, a daunting task requiring landslide-sized victories by a struggling presidential candidate.
How does this relate, you might ask? Well, it places my preferred candidate, John McCain, against the lesser of . . . well, you know. I simply cannot brook another eight years of Clintons in the white house. I just can't.

I fancy myself a centrist, although I'm probably a little right of center. My concern with Obama is that he's inexperienced, is running primarily on words as opposed to platforms, and that his voting record is too socialistic for me.

However, I do believe that he's an honest man who intends to do the right thing. Hillary, on the other hand, carries the rather soiled baggage of the Clinton years. Positions taken by reading the direction of the wind sock. Deploying vicious retribution against any naysayers. I truly believe that the Clintons (and you cannot separate them - they're a package) are in it for the power, and the power alone. I don't believe that Hillary is immoral, but rather that she is amoral, and lacking a guiding compass.

So, although I can't vote for Obama, I hope he becomes the nominee . . . and has the enormous good sense NOT to add Hillary to the ticket.

Your mileage may vary.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Nihanto . . .

. . . or what you would call a "Samurai sword."

My grandfather, John Osborne was an eclectic gentleman. Scoutmaster, Eagle Scout, church deacon, soldier, militaria collector, woodworker, gardner and fisherman. He was also diabetic, and died in 1957 at the age of 66. I was only fourteen.

He had a shed that he jokingly (I hope) called his "doghouse." Presumably for use when he and grandma . . . well, never mind. I remember that the doghouse had a small bunk bed, a gun rack and lots of other stuff. Grandma gave me quite a few items from the doghouse, and I still have them all. But I recently became interested in finding out more about a rather plain-looking sword that appeared to be a Japanese Nihonto.

All I knew about Samurai swords, I learned from the movies - which means that everything I knew was incorrect. Thank heaven for the internet.

I thought that the scabbard was very plain, because I was used to all the movie glitter. I found out that the sword was encased in a storage scabbard (shirasaya). The shirasaya protects the sword when it is not mounted for carry and use.

I learned that the information concerning the maker and dating of the sword was located on the tang (nagako). One side of the nagako usually has the date (nengo) and the other side has the smith's signature (mei).

Are you bored yet? There's more.

I was hoping against hope that this would be an ancient, valuable nihonto, weilded by a famous swordsman. OK, that's not likely, but one can always hope.

When I carefully removed the handle (tsuka), I found the expected inscriptions (kanji). The kanji are read from top to bottom. I rotated the pictures to cut down the length of the post - so if you read Japanese, I apologize for the crick in your neck.

This is the nengo or dating of the blade. It reads Showa jyu hachi nen san gatsu kichi jitsu, which means: "on a fortunate day in March in the 18th year of the reign of Emperor Hirohito, (March, 1944).

This is the mei or swordsmith's signature. It reads oiete toto hizen no kuni Tadamitsu tsukuru kore, which means: "at Tokyo, Tadamitsu of Hizen Province made this".

Regardless of whether or not this sword is worth any $$$$, it has great sentimental value to me - and I learned something. It's always a good day when you learn something.

Grandpa, I know you're watching from somewhere, and I want you to know that I still eat those salami sandwiches you used to make for me when we went fishing. Oh, and I can't pick a fresh tomato without thinking of your garden between the "doghouse" and the workshop.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


I'm not a big NASCAR fan. My motorsport happens to be drag racing. Legal drag racing, that is. However, I will watch something as huge as the Daytona 500, since it is the kickoff of the season.

Trisha Yearwood sang the National Anthem this year. It was very nice not to be forced to listen to an improvised hip-hoppy "improvement."

Oh, and you louts in the crowd . . . take off your hats. Didn't your momma teach you anything?

But then, why should anyone listen to me? I'm obviously on the low-budget end of the food chain.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Politically incorrect . . .

. . . courtesy of Penn Gillette

“Obama is just creaming Hillary. You know, all these primaries, you know. And Hillary says it’s not fair, because they’re being held in February, and February is Black History Month. And unfortunately for Hillary, there’s no White Bitch Month.”

Friday, February 15, 2008

Her cradle was a rubbish bin, her pillow, construction debris.

Nobody ever claimed the infant girl, who was found dead of abdominal injuries near Norfolk's Campostella neighborhood nearly two years ago by a man who at first didn't trust his eyes.

The baby was ferried to her grave in Roosevelt Memorial Park in Chesapeake on Thursday morning in a Cadillac hearse. Her casket was tiny, white, immaculate. Tulips marked the grave of the child, named "Baby Grace" by police. Nearly 30 people stood at her grave site to pay tribute.

So wrote Matthew Roy in The Virginian Pilot this morning. I remember when "Baby Grace" was found two years ago. There was an intense search for her mother - or anyone who may have known her. No one was ever found.

This article hit me harder than I expected. Maybe it's because I have children of my own, and by now they have children also. Maybe it's because we attended a funeral with a tiny casket for my oldest son's first daughter. Or, maybe it's just the inhumanity . . .

I don't know the mother's situation. Maybe she's in her own personal hell. We're told not to judge. But, in this situation, I can't help it. I can only hope that Grace's mother read the Pilot this morning, and somehow summons the courage to come forward. If not, may her personal hell continue, and eventually become eternal.

The coffin had a teddy bear carved in the top.

I cried . . .

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Berkely . . . STFU! Yep, you heard me. STFU!

In case you have been missing the news over the last couple of weeks, those dregs of pond scum, otherwise known as the Berkely, California city council, voted to tell the Marine recruiters to get out of town.

The city manager was directed to send a letter to the U.S. Marine Corps saying they are "uninvited and unwelcome intruders" in the city. This, while members of the Corps are serving in harm's way.

Now, everyone has the right to free speech. They have a perfect right to oppose the war. I am certainly not a fan of the way the war has been prosecuted. It has been FUBAR since Saddam's statue was toppled. However, directing this childish, ignorant, schoolyard tripe at volunteers serving their contry in time of war is about 5,000 feet left of reprehensible.

Today, we find that the council has reversed itself . . . sort of. They are rescinding their request - without apology, I might add. It seems that two unintended consequences surfaced. First, an uproar of about 8.5 on the Richter scale erupted, and second, it seems that some $3 Million of their state-supplied transportation funds and $2.3 Million in Federal earmarks would be on the same bus out of town.

I'm not sure which had the larger effect, but seven of the nine council members were suddenly opposed to the ordinance they had passed just two weeks earlier. How does the old joke go? We know what you are . . . we're just negotiating the price. Speech may be free, but often, it is not without consequence.

"The Marines ought to have better sense than to come here."
- Councilmember Betty Olds

Bitch, I hope you never need them . . .

Oh. Look who showed up at the protest.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Biting and kicking . . .

No, it's not violent, but you have to click to see.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Smarter than a 5th grader?

Not bloody likely. A young lady pursuing a PhD in neuroscience was doing pretty well. She answered the initial 10 questions correctly, and hit the $500,000 mark. Through the first 10 questions you can stop stop if you don't know the answer, and take all your winnings to that point.

Danger, Will Robinson . . .

The last question has a catch, though. If you decide to see the question, you must answer or you lose everything but $25,000.

You can see where this is going . . .

The final question was American history. She said she was very good at American history, and it was only a 5th grade question. She decided to answer it. She asked her mother and father, and they told her to make her own decision.

There are times when the father of even a PhD candidate should impart some common sense to his daughter . . .

The question was: Who was the first person to break the sound barrier in an airplane?

Do you know? I did. She didn't. Do you? No fair Googling!

Kiss $475,000 goodbye . .
The economic aid plan.

So the government is giving almost everyone a check to stimulate the economy. Well, actually, it's not the government's money. It's money that they took from someone and are giving it back to them - or to someone else.

What many people don't understand is that the government doesn't really spend money . . . they just re-distribute it.

Don't get me wrong - I'll take the check. However, the whole dust-up is a bit like taking a bucket of water from the deep end of the pool and pouring it in the shallow end. Lots of action, but not much effect.

When this guy asks a question, you just have to look him square in the eye and . . . .

. . . well, maybe not.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Celtic music

I have eclectic music taste - Celtic folk songs (Celtic Woman), South African township music (Ladysmith Black Mombazo), Bluegrass, Metal (AC/DC, Metallica, Ozzie, Scorpions, et. al), big band (Glen Miller, Sy Zentner, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey), classic rock (Zeplin, Clapton, Seeger, Tom Petty, Pink Floyd).

Today, I was listening to Aideen O'Brien singing "A Bunch of Thyme." If you listen very closely to the lyrics and think about their meaning, you may find a message that mothers and fathers should impress on their daughters. :o) What do you think?

A Bunch of Thyme.

Come all ye maidens young and fair.
And you that are blooming in your prime.
Always beware and keep your garden fair.
Let no man steal away your thyme.

Chorus: For thyme it is a precious thing,
And thyme brings all things to my mind.
Thyme with all its flavours, along with all its joys,
thyme, brings all things to my mind.

Once I and a bunch of thyme.
I thought it never would decay.
Then came a lusty sailor,
who chanced to pass my way.
And stole my bunch of thyme away.


The sailor gave to me a rose.
A rose that never would decay.
He gave it to me,
to keep me reminded,
of when he stole my thyme away.


Come all ye maidens young and fair.
And you that are blooming in your prime.
Always beware and keep your garden fair.
Let no man steal away your thyme.
Britney . . .

I think Ms. Spears is an unbalanced young lady who needs help. Granted, she's made a spectacle of herself for the better part of a year or two, but no one deserves the constant hounding by those so-called paparazzi who jump in her face 24-7.

Can you imagine what it would be like to have 20 people flashing cameras in your face every time you went outside? It would drive me absolutely crazy.

When she was released from the hospital today, they descended on her like locusts every time her car stopped in traffic. They're not only causing problems for her, they're endangering everyone else in traffic. Perhaps if those assholes were arrested for blocking traffic when they ran out in the street, some sanity would prevail. Either that, or she should be given free rein to run over anyone in her way.

I'm not sure why I posted this, except that the TV coverage just tweaked me the wrong way. I really, really was wishing to see one of those guys run over by a passing semi. Punishment unbefitting the crime? Maybe, but it would have been entertaining.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

I came across this video of the 160th SOAR (160th SPECIAL OPERATIONS AVIATION REGIMENT) delivering the pace car to Atlanta Speedway, and demonstrating a SOF insert with MH6 Killer Eggs. (those little helicopters) Impressive.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

WTF do I do now?

I'm trying to figure out how to vote for. I've only voted "D" for president once in my life, and that was for Jimmy Carter - an act which I'm sure will earn me a permanent place in the 6th ring of Hell. That doesn't mean I would never put an X by a Democrat. There just hasn't been anyone on the left side of the ballot that I could stomach since then.

That pretty much sums it up for this year.

Obama is trying to paint himself as JFK redux. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have anywhere close to the experience JFK had. The only JFK-esque vibe he has is his magnetic personality. He’s a first-term senator who has spent most of his time in office running for another office. His inexperience has shown up in the debates. He's flowery and a great speaker. He's just smooched the pooch too many times on questions of substance. Besides that, he's so far left that he's coming back around the other side.

I agree with many of the analyses on Hillary. She is smart, driven and competent. However, doesn’t she give you a feeling of amorality? I see her as I saw Bill - chosing direction by the drift of the polls. She won’t compromise ALL of her values, but she sure is willing go which way the wind blows. That is amplified by her position (positions?) on Iraq.

Besides, I just can't see Bubba back at 1600 PA Ave. We had a Bush dynasty, and I don’t believe we need a Clinton dynasty. It wasn’t just the Republicans that put a negative tint on Bill’s tenure. He did plenty of that by himself . . . well, not exactly by himself :o).

I assume you have guessed by now that I’m a Republican - and you’re right. However, I’m not hard right. In fact, I’m incensed that GWB has squandered - almost singlehandedly - any gains made by the Republican party over the last 10-20 years, and he didn't need to do it. Think about it. Your taxes are lower. Interest rates are more affordable than the they were in the first thirty years of my life. The economy has some temporary problems now, but jobs have grown pretty significantly in the last five or six years. There’s been a bump in the stock market, but the trend is positive. Yet, he's probably the most hated president since Tricky Dick.

GWB threw away any positives the Republican party may have gained, in three significant ways - the first through his total inability to communicate with anyone (most of all the American people), the second through a mis-applied, mis-planned war on terrorism, and third, his sometimes lousy choice of advisers. Those three cluster bleeps took a party that was clearly making progress totally out of the picture.

We needed a strike back after 9/11. We couldn’t continue to sit back and take it on the chin after Kobar Towers, Mogadishu, the USS Cole, the first WTC bombing, and the embassy attacks. Iraq was the wrong choice, and Rummy, et. al. were the wrong choices to pursue the response. That being said, should we just have “dialoged” them into submission? It hadn’t worked for 20 years. Why now?

By the same token, I’m not hard left either, and that’s my primary worry about both Obama and Clinton. Obama seems to want the government to run everything. Handouts for everyone. Can we afford that? I work for the federal government, and the federal government should be the last choice to run just about any program.

I won’t be voting “D” for that reason. Both HRC and Obama are just too far to the left. My problem is that there isn’t anyone available for EITHER ticket that I’m comfortable with. I’m looking for a moderate, and I can’t find one.

I’m for change too. However, change for change’s sake scares me.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Hampton Roads Traffic Authority

Hampton Roads (the Tidewater area of Virginia) is the state's largest population center. Actually, it's not a state, but rather a Commonwealth. I'm not sure why that's the case. The state is neither common nor wealthy - except for the politicians, of course. Listen up, Virginians . . . you were the 10th state in the union. STATE, not commonwealth. Not only that, you tried to get out once. How did that work for you?

Anyhow, they highway system here sucks. A few years ago, the state started transferring money from the highway construction fund to the maintenance fund, so no new roads were built. Now, rush hour is a nightmare, the interstates are obsolete, and everything is falling apart.

Since most of the state is rural, the politicians from West Nowhere, VA will not raise the gas tax to pay for the roads. Why should they? They only have six streets, one rural highway and possibly a traffic signal to worry about.

Not only that, but the legislature is violently anti-tax. Except for property taxes, that is. The cities eat those like candy. Mine went up 50% last year. Sorry for the digression.

In order to avoid taxes, they decided to use fees and set up local Road Authorities (read more gummint.) Among the "solutions" the legislature and authorities pulled from their collective arses are:

Abusive driver fees. $3,000 fines for certain nasty traffic offenses. The only problem is that a guy on a bicycle received a $1,000 fine for crossing a street on his bicycle at night without proper lights/reflectors. Oh - and out of state drivers don't have to pay them. This one was solidly defended by the legislature . . . until this year. Now it's on the immediate repeal list, and no one can figure out why it passed. You dolts! We warned you!

Tolls. Now bear in mind that the state has spent years removing tolls because they slow down traffic and cause accidents. Now, since the highways are totally jammed, tolls make sense?

The irony here is that they avoided raising taxes by . . . adding fees? How is a fee raised by a gummint body not a tax?
Tax: A charge usually of money imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.
My solution: move back to Kansas where the state is a state, the legislature has a modicum of sense, and the roads are usable
Thursday thoughts. (Some are mine . . . some are not.)

There are 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand binary and those who do not.

I've been here too long. I said y'all to someone today.

I work nine-hour days so that I can take a Friday off every other week. With vacation and holidays, that gives me 56 days off every year - and many three and four-day weekends. This is good.

Techno-thrillers are great. However, if you're going to write them, a little research is necessary. DO YOU HEAR ME, PATRICK ROBINSON? The U. S. Army does NOT have Master Chiefs. The U.S. Air Force does NOT fly from aircraft carriers. The U.S. Navy does NOT have a rank called Ensign, junior grade. The F-15 is NOT a Tomcat. A Harpoon is not an air-to-air missle. Captains do not command guided missle frigates - that's a Commander's billet. If your course is 070, you CANNOT turn right to 360. Patriot missles do not "approach the speed of light." Readers of techno-thrillers read them for both "techno" and "thrill." Authors of same should realize that. Patrick, fire your proofreader, your technical experts and your editor. Should anyone trip over this blog - and almost no one does - do not buy this book. Please.

The U.S.S. Enterprise has been in port for a while. No, not that Enterprise . . . this one:

You have NO idea how huge this ship is until you pass within a hundred feet of it. She's 1123 feet long, 257 feet wide, and the flight deck is 4-1/2 acres. There are almost 5,000 souls on board, including ship's company and the air wing.

Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. You'll be a mile away - and you'll have their shoes.

We had our home inspected today by the local police to get advice on protecting our home from "those who don't live here but want our stuff." We live in a very low crime are, but it's free, so why not? The officer was professional, helpful and impressive. She installed a peephole in our front door - for free. Oh, did I mention that SHE was a bit over 6'-4" tall? We're mostly OK, but I will be making some minor improvements - in addition to those already made by Col. Colt.

The U.S. gummint is switching from the standard civil service pay system to a pay-for-performance system. I had to attend approximately four days of training to learn how to do this. It caused my performance this week to suffer. Irony?

The husband of the trainer for the above-mentioned system is a direct descendant of General Lewis Addison "Lo" Armistead. General Armistead had the misfortune to command a Brigade during Pickett's charge at Gettysburg on 02 July 1864. He died two days later of three gunshot wounds.

I completed our tax return today. It only took a couple of hours. Although I believe that H & R Block, as a corporation, is lower than whale shit, their Tax Cut program works pretty well.

Considering the dearth of TV programs available because of the writers' strike, I decided to watch Lost this evening. I haven't watched it for a year or so, and frankly, I'm lost.

One of the cities in Hampton Roads is Norfolk. Here, it's usually pronounced Norf'k. True locals pronounce it Nahf'k. Many of the TV talking heads try to get it right, but being northeners, and afraid of remotely implying a profanity, they pronounce it Nor-fick. Oddly, there's a town with the same name in Nebraska. It's pronounced Nor-fork.

The problem with doing nothing is that it's hard to tell when you're done.

I'm done . . .