Monday, March 31, 2008

Sunday . . .

. . . bloody Sunday.

No, not as in the U-2 song, nor the story of Domhnach na Fola, nor as the adjectival form of the noun blood, but rather as the expletive attributive. Our Brit friends will bloody well understand.

It's just that I had Friday through Sunday off, and while Friday was 80F and beautiful, Saturday and Sunday were cold and rainy. Blah. It was very, very dreary for the full 48 hours.

Also, the dishwasher started leaking, and my first, infallible, guaranteed, sure-fire fix didn't work. You'd think six years of engineering school would have made a better impression on the contrary machine. Parts are on order. One more try next weekend, then it's off to the junkman.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

They're baaaaaack . . .

. . . The Tudors, that is. There are some serious factual errors, but the series is quite interesting. Costuming and cinematography are excellent, but also often historically inaccurate.

I'm not used to seeing a skinny Henry with dark brown instead of ginger hair, but the series is still fun, and Jonathan Rhys Myers portrays a very intense Henry. Natalie Dormer is a very interesting Anne Boleyn, although, from the period paintings of Anne, Natalie is much more attractive. But then, it IS entertainment, is it not?

My favorate quote so far . . .

Henry to Anne - "I love your neck!"

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Number one songs . . .

. . . at important dates in my life. Some are picked because they were number one on or near the date. Others were picked because of some odd coincidence.

My birthday: White Christmas - Bing Crosby
Mrs. Bulldog's birthday: In the Blue of the Evening - Tommy Dorsey
When I got my driver's license: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes - The Platters
High school graduation: Hit the Road, Jack - Ray Charles
Wedding day: So much in Love - The Tymes
Daughter's birthday: Baby Love - The Supremes
Son #1 birthday: Yesterday - The Beatles
Bachelors' Degree: I'm a Believer - The Monkees
First "real" job and the big move to Omaha: Hello, Goodbye - The Beatles
Son #2 birthday: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In - The Fifth Dimension
Masters' Degree: I Can See Clearly Now - Johnny Nash
10th wedding anniversary: You are the Sunshine of my Life - Stevie Wonder
20th wedding anniversary: Every Breath I take - The Police
25th wedding anniversary: Need You Tonight - INXS
Mother died: When I See You Smile - Bad English
Son #1 wedding: Justify My Love - Madonna
Father Died: Emotions - Mariah Carey
30th wedding anniversary: I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston
Daughter's wedding: Can't Help Falling in Love - UB40
Our second big move - to Kansas City: A Whole New World - Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle
Son #2 wedding: Honey - Mariah Carey
The day my department was eliminated, and I had to find another job - Fallin' - Alicia Keys
A new job and our third big move - to Virgina Beach: Dilemma - Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland
40th wedding anniversary: Crazy in Love - Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z

This will probably be the end of the list. There hasn't been a #1 song that I give a rat's fuzzy backside about since the new millenium.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Dodging snipers . . .

. . . in Bosnia.

Notice how she has ducked down in order to avoid sniper fire while arriving in Bosnia a few years ago. I assume she was throwing her body in front of the little Bosnian girl to protect her.

Doesn't say much for the quality of Bosnian snipers, though.

"I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."--Hillary Clinton, George Washington University, March 17, 2008.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Feeling guilty . . .

. . . or not

Work was fine today, but getting home was not. I tried bug out and catch an early bus. Unfortunately, the bus driver decided to be early also. So, I sat at the bus stop for about forty minutes, and I ended up on my regular bus. Bummer.

Once I arrived got to the park-and-ride I remembered that Mrs. Bulldog had given me direct marching orders to stop at the grocery to pick up a couple of items.

As I walked up to the store, I was approached by a rather distressed-looking woman. She wasn't a bag lady, but looked a little tired and out of sorts. My first thought was that she was looking for a handout, and I was prepared to hand over a few dollars. That's not what she wanted. She said she had been waiting for an hour, and needed a ride home.

I felt sorry for her, and decided to hear what she had to say. The place she wanted to go was at least five miles back the way I had just come. She gave me a street name, but wasn't very specific about where on the street she lived. I asked her who was supposed to pick her up, and she was a bit evasive - no straight answer, just "a friend." Because the end of my day almost left me stranded too, I was feeling a little guilty, and considered it for a minute or so.

Then I decided that she was too evasive - and that the grocery store was just across the street from the county courthouse complex . . . and the city jail. "Sorry, ma'am, I can't help you."

When I came out of the grocery store ten minutes later, she was gone. It still bothers me a bit, but I think I did the right thing.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter . . .

. . . a long way from home.

But first, Easter trivia - and mathematics. In western Christianity, Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox.

It came early this year - on March 23. In fact, it only missed the earliest possible date by one day. March 23, the earliest possible Easter, happened in 1818 and won't repeat until 2285 . The latest possible Easter fell on April 25, 1943, and won't repeat until 2038. A late Easter - April 24 - will occur in 2011.

If you want to witness all the earliest and latest dates, hang around. The Easter cycle repeats every 5,700,000 years.

All that notwithstanding, since 2002, Mrs. Bulldog and I have been somewhere between 1,100 and 1,400 miles from our immediate families (children and grandchildren.) We see them all on the occasional vacation or holiday, but not as often as we would like.

In order to keep things semi-normal - which is about as good as you can reasonably expect with this crew, :o) we always trot out the Royal Doulton china and the Waterford crystal and have a formal holiday dinner. Today, it was sugar-cured ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, grandma's green salad (only the family understands this) and chocolate cake.

Later, there will be Kolache . . . yay - one of the many joys of marrying a Bohunk girl. For those who don't know, that's a bread made with sweet dough, filled like a jelly-roll with a sugary mixture of ground poppy seeds and raisins.

Oh, and before anyone gets insulted by "Bohunk," it's how my Slovak father-in-law referred to himself and his friends. If it was good enough for Andy, it's good enough for me.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Unrest in Tibet . . .

. . . how can you not be on the side of the little guy in the blue hat?

Freaky Friday . . .

. . . or, just another day in American politics.

Item the first:
A few words from that font of wisdom, AKA Harvard-educated Barack Obama (about his granny):

She is a typical white person, who, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know, well there's a reaction that's in our experiences that won't go away and can sometimes come out in the wrong way.

Now, having matriculated from a nice, but decidedly non-ivy league college, I'm not sure what a "typical white person" is, but I'm guessing it's not someone who is likely to hand a ladder down to Mr. Obama to help him out of the hole he's digging with the help of Jeremiah Wright. Notwithstanding the fact that Chris Matthews got all damp in the panties over Obama's speech, I don't think that approach is particularly productive. Throwing your granny under the bus for political gain is slightly south of genteel.

Item the second:
A few words from that paragon of veracity, Mrs. Hillary Clinton:

"I have been a critic of NAFTA from the very beginning."

Hillary, sweetie, you just released your records - under duress, I might add - and it seems you're not being completely truthful. Honestly, "I did not have sex with that treaty" doesn't work for you either.

Item the third:
Released records now indicate that Hillary was home in the Whitehouse when the "stain" appeared on the blue dress. I am quite qualified in the ins and outs of statistics (pun intended), but the permutations and combinations of those three in the same house at the same time are too horrible to comprehend. I believe the current venacular is "ewwwwww!"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pay for performance . . .

. . . is the U. S. Gummint's new mantra. March 2nd, the Department of Defense instituted a new system to set objectives, measure performance and tie raises/bonuses to that performance. Apparently, it's Rumsfeld's legacy - and true to the governmental fettish for complicates systems, the performance evaluation form is fifteen pages long. Yep, fifteen pages. Estimates of the cost of implementation are somewhat north of $200,000,000. Whatever . . .

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Heather Mills . . .

. . . has a big check in the mail.

I am an engineer by education and trade, and I also have a major in math - which leads to this little analysis:


- Four years of marriage, or 208 weeks,
- For a man of Sir Paul's age, say twice per week (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more)
- A payout of $33,000,000

Then $33,000,000 / (208 x 2) = $79,326.92 per . . . well . . . you know.

Oh, calm down people! It's a joke. I'm not making ANY comment about Ms. Mills. I rather like her, and think the check should have been larger.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Obama's minister . . .

. . . of hate, that is. Some of his so-called sermons are rife with racisim and pure hateful speech.

"Not God bless America . . . God damn America" for "killing innocent people"

That 9/11 was a case of "America's chickens coming home to roost."

"AIDS was designed to kill black people."

I never was an Obama fan, primarily because of his socialist policies. Now, I'm more concerned than ever. He has been running on a platform of change, understanding and judgement. Now, his judgement has been called to question.

He has recently disavowed Wright's bile, but it's too little, too late, and smacks of CYA. Obama has been a member of this church for 17 years. Wright is his spiritual advisor. He sought Wright's counsel and advice when deciding when to run for president. Wright married the Obamas and baptised their child. His excuse is that he missed the sermons on those days?

Even Juan Williams, NPR's generally liberal democrat pundit, wondered whether or not Obama joined that particular church to strengthen his "street creds" enough to be electable in Chicago - whether he was trying to prove that "he was black enough". (Williams' words, not mine.)

This is not a race issue. It's not a religion issue. It's a judgement issue, and Obama has come up wanting.

If you believe this is a non-issue, think on what would be in the press if John McCain had spent the last 17 years in a white supremacist church.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

National pride . . .

. . . or not?

"I think in this day and age of a global world, I would find it very hard to swear allegiance to one country," said Clarissa Williams, vice president of the National Assn. of Head Teachers, who said she was not certain her students would want to take the pledge." I honestly feel we are citizens of the world, not just one country," she said.

Maybe it's just me, but I find that statement kind of sad. No one should be forced to take a pledge, but shouldn't one have a bit of allegiance buried somewhere inside? I guess Guy Fawkes' Day doesn't do it for her.

I'm glad we have Independence Day . . .
Spitzer-isms . . .

. . . or, comments on the downfall.

Notwithstanding Gemmak's thoughts on judgement, it's hard not to take a shot or two at the sheer arrogance and hypocracy of the ex-governor of New York.

“Hillary Clinton is now only the second-angriest wife in the state of New York” – Jay Leno

“It’s sad. Spitzer said there is so much he left undone: Amber, Ashley, Rhonda” – Letterman

“The governor-erect” – New York Post

“He thought Bill Clinton legalized this years ago” – Letterman

"Gov. Spitzer responded just a few hours ago. He said, quote, 'I violated my obligations to my family and I violated my sense of what is right and wrong.' Spitzer also admitted violating someone named Amber." - Conan O'Brien

"Do you know what the highest paid government position in this country is? Anybody know? ... It is working under New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. It pays like $5,000 an hour." - Jay Leno

"The really ironic thing about this case -- today, the hooker said Spitzer was done in a New York minute." - Jay Leno

Bill Clinton dropped by . . . just to exchange war . . . er . . . whore stories - Anon

When asked to resign, Spitzer said, "couldn't you just spank me instead?" - Anon

I can't wait for Saturday Night Live.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The wild life . . .

. . . in Virginia Beach. Well, maybe not the kind of wildlife you expected.

Our subdivision was built under green guidlines. For example, there are capture ponds scattered throughout the neighborhoods. The ponds are installed to keep stormwater from flooding the storm sewers, and to provide irrigation for the common areas around the main streets and boulevards. The ponds also supply water - and traps for errant shots - for the surrounding golf course.

Since there are many wildlife refuges in the area, the neighborhood ponds become magnets for waterfowl. The population is also increased because we're only about 25 miles from the boundary of the Great Dismal Swamp and the Back Bay wildlife refuge.

Every year for the past five years, we have had a mating pair of Mallard ducks show up in our back yard. They wander in during the morning or afternoon and camp out by the patio. They're not particularly wary. Mrs. Bulldog was working around the patio while Ms. Mallard took the opportunity for a short nap.
This may look like a photo from the zoo or from somewhere in the country. In fact, it was taken just outside the Virginia Beach post office, a block from the city/county government complex. The geese were a little shy today, but after the chicks hatch, they will charge with much honking and flapping of wings.
This little pond is also next to the post office. It is usually full of waterfowl of various types. In the evenings, the bullfrogs start singing . . . well croaking loudly. It's quite a little oasis in the middle of civilization.

Mississippi roots . . .

. . . of my family. Although I was raised in the Land of Lincoln, I also have Southern roots - kind of. In 1773, my 5th great-grandfather moved, with the rest of his Swayze clan, from the New York/New Jersey area to Western Florida - now called Mississippi. The Swayzes settled on a land grant called the Ogden Mandamus, on the Homochitto river just east of modern-day Natchez, in a town they named Kingston.

I learned of my connections to the Swayze family by accident, while looking for information on my great-great-grandmother. I posted an inquiry on a genealogy forum, and a single response from a distant cousin filled in a couple hundred years of my family history. Every year since 1940, the descendants of the Swayzes and other related familes, known as The Descendants of the Jersey Settlers have held a reunion in Natchez, MS.

We haven't been able to attend since 2002 for various reasons, but we're going back in April. Both Mrs. Bulldog and I are very excited about the trip. I have loved Natchez for a long time - even before I knew about the family history. About 50 years ago, my parents, my brother and I visited Natchez on the way to see my dad's sister in Baton Rouge. Forty years later, Mrs. Bulldog and I were on our way to New Orleans, and I drove - without a map - to the very same restuarant my folks took us to back in 1957. Spooky.

We're staying at the historic Eola hotel in downtown Natchez.

Oh . . . and yes, it's THOSE Swayzes. Patrick Swayze is my 7th cousin, once removed. Really.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wingnuts . . .

. . . with French fries. Having seen this on on another blog, I couldn't resist. It seems Oscar winner Marion Cotillard is a bit of a conspiracy theorist. By conspiracy theorist, I mean a full blown, the-US-took-down-the-WTC, no-one-landed-on-the-moon, black-helicopter-riding, tin-foil-hat-wearing wingnut.

She also has a loony apologist who haunts all of the blogs, explaining that Cotillard was actually misquoted - and even if she wasn't misquoted, it was all true anyhow.

Here's your chance again, Kit . . . once more into the breech. How 'bout those swiftboats, eh?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hoist with his own petard . . .

. . . or hypocrites in high places. New York's erstwhile John Profumo, Eliot Spitzer, has been named in a federal prostition investigation. What makes this so ironic is Spitzer's relentless prosecution and relentless pursuit of those offenders participating in the very "activity" he so fervently embraced on the side.

Seems Spitzer was dipping his wick in the same swamp he was trying to drain.

For 'tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petard; and 't shall go hard
. . .

- Shakespeare: Hamlet, act III, scene 4

The quote usually stops at the semicolon, but I just could not cut the last phrase. I just couldn't.
The difference between Democrats and Republicans . . .

A Republican comes in for a haircut, and when he goes to pay his bill the barber replies: "I'm sorry, I cannot accept money from you; I'm doing community service this week." The Republican is very happy and leaves the shop. The next morning when the barber goes to open, there is a thank you card and a dozen different books such as "How to Improve YourBusiness" and "Becoming More Successful."

Then a Democrat comes in for a haircut, and when he goes to pay his bill the barber again replies: "I'm sorry, I cannot accept money from you; I'm doing community service this week." The Democrat is very happy and leaves the shop. The next morning when the barber goes to open up, there are a dozen Democrats lined up waiting for a free haircut.

Unfair? Maybe, maybe not. More to come.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

MEME . . .

I stole this from Gemmak, and don't feel bad about it because she purloined it first. One word answers only.

1. Where is your cell phone? Desk

2. Your significant other? Very

3. Your hair? Silver

4. Your mother? Beautiful

5. Your father? Strong

6. Your favorite thing? Today

7. Your dream last night? Weird

8. Your favorite drink? Fuki

9. Your dream/goal? Retirement

10. The room you’re in? Sun room

11. Your ex? None

12. Your fear? Claustrophobia

13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Texas

14. Where were you last night? Home

15. What you’re not? Democrat

16. Muffin? Blueberry

17. One of your wish list items? Travel

18. Where you grew up? Virden

19. The last thing you ate? Stir-fry

20. What are you wearing? Sweatpants

21. Your TV? LCD

22. Your pet? None

23. Your computer? Home-built

24. Your life? Satisfied

25. Your mood? Amused

26. Missing someone? Grandkids

27 Your car? Corvette

28. Something you’re not wearing? Shoes

29. Favorite Store? SummitRacing

30. Your summer will be? Busy

31. Ever dressed as Mama Cass with your partner as a ham sandwich? Huh?

32. Your favorite color? Red.

33. Last time you cried? When they buried Baby Grace in Norfolk. (Not one word, but I don't care)

34. What are you working on? Hotrod.

35. What last made you laugh really hard? TwoandaHalfMen.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A sign of faith . . .

. . . maybe. Read it closely, please.

Friday, March 07, 2008

A car guy . . .

. . . that's me. If it turns money into noise or speed, I'm there. I've been that way since I was sixteen and hot-rodded a 1952 Chevy. The last car I owned in high school was as 1956 Oldsmobile "Super 88" that I repainted Cadillac red and cream.

My first "real car" when I got a "real job" was a 1968 Pontiac GTO in "arrest me red." I wore out the engine, then I rebuilt it to about 450 HP. Gas was cheap. Luckily for me, I guess. The car got about six miles per gallon. When the salt and sand in Omaha ate up the paint, I repainted it in my garage.

I eventually had to sell the GTO. It was worn out again, and it wasn't the ideal family car. When I think about our cross country trips with the kids - in the days before seat belts - I get cold chills.

In the early 80's, I was out looking for another vintage GTO when I stumbled across a 1930 Ford Tudor sedan. When I hauled it into my garage, it looked like this.

After I built a new frame and suspension, swapped in modern running gear, chopped the top and painted it, it looked like this. After it was finished, a man from Harrisburg, PA saw it in a car show. Even though I told him it WAS NOT FOR SALE, he kept upping the offer until I caved. I regret it to this day.

After living without a hot rod for a few years, I just had to find another. A friend of mine did most of the work on this 1972 Chevy Pickup. It had louvers everywhere, a custom paint job, a motor with an obscene amount of horsepower, and was totally impractical. Of course, I bought it. I drove it until I wore it out, then sold it for exactly what I paid for it.

There's a story behind this race car. I was visiting a friend who owned a body shop. An acquaintance of ours had a race car to sell, and needed to sell it in a hurry. It seems he had taken out a loan on a title to a wrecked car. He missed the payments, and the bank was threatening repossession, and he was looking a fraud charges.

I made an offer that he apparently thought was too low, and he started cursing and screaming into the phone, then hung up. About 10 minutes later, he called back and said he would accept the offer. Of course, I immediately lowered my offer, and he went postal again. Fifteen minutes, he called back, but before he could say a word, I lowered the offer again - and bought the car.

When we picked up the car, it looked worse than this. It was a bare frame, with only the rear half of the body shown here. I chopped the chassis in two just ahead of the firewall, rebuilt the front end and designed the aluminum body.

When we were done, it looked like this. It had about 700 horsepower - for racing only of course. It would accelerate from 0 to 174 MPH in about 8.75 seconds. Eventually racing became way too expensive, and my partner and I sold the racing team.

I didn't have a true hot rod for a long time, then In 2003, we moved to Virginia, and I caught the bug yet again. This photo was taken a few months into the project.

A little more than three years later, after much welding, fitting, assembly, cursing, disassembly, reassembly, sanding, cursing and painting, it looks like this.

The last photo (I'm sure you're bored senseless by now) is my daily driver. Twelve years ago, I wandered into a Chevy dealer's lot in Kansas City looking to replace a pickup that just went off lease. I didn't see a pickup I liked, but I had always - as long as I can remember - wanted a red Corvette. I drove it home, and I still have it.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Radiation Hazard . . .

. . . or why the tree-hugging, sandals-with-socks, environment uber alles crowd sometimes irritates the hell out of me. Not that protecting the environment is a bad thing. Occasionally, however, some modicum of logic is required - and often is missing.

On one of my project sites, there is supposedly a buried pipe containing some radium residue. Supposedly, the location was marked, but no one can find it, and it's not on a map.

Simple to find, you say? Just get a Geiger counter and follow the clicks. Not so. It seems the decaying granite in the surrounding earth gives out more radiation than the little bit of radium in the pipe. Right now, George Carlin would be saying "hmmmmmm."

I am therefore lead, fairly willingly, to the obvious question. If there's more radiation eminating from the granite, why am I looking for the radium? Maybe I should bury more radium in the ground to mask the granite? If the ground is more radioactive than the radium, should I rub dirt on my watch dial?

If you don't know what the flags signify, go here and decode.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Wildlife . . .

I saw this little guy sitting on our front sidewalk, right in front of the door. I was a bit worried because he didn't seem to want to move. He was OK, though. When I walked out to take a better photo, he flew off.

On another note, we have a very nice sunrooom on the back of the house. Unfortunately, there's no place to sit. The bears have taken over.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Rude UK . . . From Wikipedia.

Further evdence that we're two peoples separated by a common language?

1. Cocks, Cornwall
2. Twatt, Shetland (note, there is another Twatt in Orkney)
3. Sandy Balls, a long-established holiday centre in New Forest, Hampshire, England with a name dating back to Henry VIII
4. Shitterton, Dorset, England

Of course, Canada is not exempt.

And neither is the U.S.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Civil War . . .

The American Civil War, that is. Alternately known as "The War Between the States" or "The War of Northern Aggression" or officially "The War of the Rebellion." That's the official name because the winner writes the records, and the winner, if there really was one, was the United States of America.

I became interested in the civil war for a several reasons. First, I have a great interest in history in general. Next, during research of my family history, I found that my great-great-grandfather, George Levi Palmer, was a private in the 7th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. The following text is part of a summary I made of George's experience in the Civil War:

George Levi Palmer enlisted at Carlinville, Macoupin County, Illinois on the 19th day of July, 1861, joining Company "K" of the 7th Illinois Volunteers as a private. He was described as having "brown eyes, brown hair, dark complexion, height 5 ft 10 in." This was George's eighteenth birthday, and he celebrated it by taking a giant step into history. I suppose he thought he was starting a great adventure. If only he knew . . .

George Levi Palmer served the full length of the war and met with many misfortunes. At the battle of Corinth, Mississippi on October 3 and 4, 1862, George was first listed as missing in action, then as killed in battle. In fact, he was taken prisoner on October 4, then paroled near Vicksburg, Mississippi on October 18, 1862. In this furious battle, Union forces held the day, but casualties were terrible. The Union forces suffered 315 Killed, 1812 Wounded, while the C.S.A. lost 1423 Killed, 5692 Wounded and 2248 Missing or Captured.

October, 1864, found George Palmer's luck still running badly. On or about the 5th of this month, he was reported missing at the battle of Allatoona, Georgia. He was captured and held a prisoner of war at Andersonville, Georgia until April 14, 1865, when he escaped and reported to General Wilson at Macon, Georgia on April 22, 1865. In this battle the Union lost 142 Killed, 352 Wounded and 212 Missing or Captured. The C.S.A. suffered 231 Killed, 500 Wounded and 411 Missing or captured.

George Palmer was honorably discharged from the 7th Illinois on July 9, 1865 and was mustered out on that day in Louisville, Kentucky. He returned home to western Illinois, where he became a lumber merchant until his death on December 6, 1897, from a robber's bullet.

I became so interested in the lives of the Civil War soldiers that I joined a reenacting group in Olathe, KS. Our company became what some of the less enthusiastic reenactors called Hardcore." That means we tried to live in the field just as they had. No modern conveniences and no anachronisms such as cast iron pots, camp cots, or stainless steel canteens.

Uniforms and other accoutrements were made from period-accurate patterns and authentic cloth, using period accurate sewing techniques. We carried and ate only the types of food they had - hardtack, salt pork and locally grown vegetables . We slept like they slept - on the ground with a blanket and an oilcloth. If they had no tents during a particular campaign, we had no tents.

After I spent about ten years in the reenactment community, I quit. I simply got tired of the "Farb" wing of the reenacting community. In our parlance, a "Farb" is someone who wants to go camping in a civil war uniform, but doesn't give a rat's furry backside about authenticity. Legend is that the word "Farb" comes from "FAR Be it from me to try to do it right."

I was weary of listening to people in polyester uniforms sitting on folding chairs around a cast iron cooking grill telling the spectators about how hard the soldier's life was. And, no matter how hard we tried, we were still inundated with Farbs of all size, shape and description. They wore "Deputy Dawg" hillbilly hats, hauled beds, tables, chairs, cots and coolers into their camps. Worse, while they were doing this, they were lecturing folks about how they were doing it to "honor their ancestors." The bullshit finally got to me. I quit and sold all my uniforms, weapons and accoutrements.

Since I had ancestors on both sides during the Civil War, I had no reservations about portraying either side. I was not there to re-fight the Civil War, but to show how it was - to portray some of the history that students are not taught in the schools today.

This photo was taken at Athens, MO in 2005. Many folks think that the Civil War started at Ft. Sumpter. Wrong! The seeds of the Civil War were planted along the Kansas/Nebraska border, and were the direct result of the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska act. John Brown was killing people in Kansas and Missouri long before he tried to take Harpers Ferry.

Athens was an obscure battle, in early August, 1861. The southern sympathizing Missouri State Guard, using mostly civilian weapons, met the Missouri Home Guard. That's me, with my 10 ga. shotgun, stealing a quick rest in front of the Captain's camp.

This is a photo of our company - Company "C" of the Scotland County Missouri State Guard. Note the lack of uniforms, and the varying ages of the soldiers. We were armed with shotguns, flintlocks, fowling pieces, pitchforks and clubs. We did not fare well against the much better equipped Union volunteers.

In 2001, our company spent a weekend at Ft. Larned, Kansas. Although the fort is slightly post-Civil War, it is only three years out of period - 1868. We stayed in the enlisted barracks, cooked our food in the fort's kitchen, and generally lived our lives in 1868 for about 2-1/2 days. Ft. Larned was - and still is - in the middle of nowhere. No noise, no lights, no cars (meaning no thumping rap). The photo below is the parade grounds.

Three of our company members malingering in the enlisted barracks. The bunk beds are exact reproductions of those that were in the barracks in 1868. I wondered why the beds were so wide, then I was told that they slept two soldiers per bunk - facing opposite directions.

The barracks looked like the original company had just left. All the uniforms, accoutrements, muskets and other gear was hanging on the walls. All the bunks were outfitted with straw mattresses and authentic reproductions of Army blankets. I"m on the right.

My passion to the hobby extended past reenacting. Because of the expense of authentic clothing and other gear, I started making my own. I made shirts, blouses, trowsers, jackets, coats, overcoats, belts, tents and ground cloths. Several items are shown below.

This red check shirt is made from an authentic pattern, and from reproduced small-loom woven cloth. It's an overshirt, sometimes called a battleshirt. This type of shirt was more often seen on Southern troops.

This is a standard Union Army foot soldier's greatcoat or overcoat. It is made from an exact reproduction 100% wool cloth, and sewn according to the original quartermaster's instructions. Making this was quite an exercise.

This is a Confederate army jacket. It is a reproduction - in both cloth and sewing techniques of an existing original.

These are fatigue blouses - the most commonly worn jacket by the Union army. Again, the cloth is an exact reproduction - in weave and color - of the original uniform.

Actually, I'm a bit sorry my reenacting career is over. I'm not sure I can remain "quit." Maybe I'll get the urge to pick up the musket - and the needle again.

Life at the beach . . .

We moved to Hampton Roads in 2002. We had to. The management of last company I worked for decided they didn't need any corporate staff. So, I became - in their words - a part of a "profit improvement program." I wish they had just "manned up" and said "we're cutting staff." But no, they needed some corporate-speak to put in their fancy little financial reports. They needed reports and I needed a job. Job hunting is not fun when you'r a shade under six decades.

Anyhow, that's old news. In some ways, I'm glad it happened. For the last six years, I've worked for the Department of Defense, and it's great. I'm actually doing something to support our troops beyond hanging a magnetic ribbon on my car. I can't tell you what I'm doing. Well, I could, but then, I'd have to kill you . . . ;o) They pay me a good salary, and I will leave many things behind that I can point to and say: "Hey! I did that!" And, they're physical things - not just reports and papers and drawings. They are real and visible and useful, and they will outlive me by many years. Footprints in the sands of time, as it were. I like that.

Hmmm . . . I wandered away from what I was going to say, but that's OK. I'll just leave it here.

What I started out to say is that we don't live ON the beach. We live four or five miles away, but we can get there in just a few minutes. Since a lot of the area is rural, when we go to the beach, we have the opportunity to see many interesting things. Like this: