Wednesday, April 30, 2008

You never expect the Spanish Inquisition . . .

. . . or a tornado in Hampton Roads.

After all, this is hurricane country, not tornado central. We moved from tornado central (aka the United States' Great Plains) six years ago. We expected to see the odd hurricane or two, but while we were on holiday in Natchez, Mississippi, an errant EF-3 twister struck nearby Suffolk. This photo shows the formed-up funnel cloud that we former flatlanders are so familiar with.

Photos of some of the damage are here. Fortunately, injuries were few, and not too serious. There were no recorded deaths, but properdy damage is significant. Estimates range from $20-40 million.

I can't post actual photos because all of the local media use Adobe Flash to keep me from pirating their stuff. Bastages . . .

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Odd photo . . .

. . . to describe a vacation destination, eh? Mrs. B and I are off on a short bit of R&R in the hometown of this moderately famous lady. Moderately famous, if you read books by Greg Iles. This watchful lady is known as the "Turning Angel" because when you drive by, her gaze seems to follow you. It's also the title of one of Iles' recent books - an excellent read, by the way.

While in the "Angel's" city, we're staying at this hotel, which dates back to 1927. We're also going to a reunion of the descendants of the original settlers of this county who came there in the late 1700's. My 5th great-grandfather was one of those settlers.

We also plan to stop in at this tavern for a bit of their famous prime rib. King's tavern is in the oldest building on the Natchez trace. The original owner was also one of my ancestors.
Legend has it that it's haunted. The bones of two men and a woman were allegedly found bricked in to a wall when the building was renovated in the 1930s.

I will be incommunicado for a while. See y'all when we get back.
Jet noise . . .

. . . we have a lot of it around Virginia Beach.

Virginia Beach is the home of Naval Air Station Oceana, and is the Navy's east coast master jet base. It's been the home of just about every type of aircraft the Navy has flown since WWII, including: SB2C Helldiver, F6F Hellcat, TBF Avenger, F4U Corsair, A-4 Skyhawk, F-4 Phantom II, A-6 Intruder, F-14 Tomcats and finally, the F/A-18 Hornet.

Each new type of aircraft seemed to be louder and louder, and the city expanded closer and closer to the airbase. Now, noise is a huge issue. I don't mind the "sound of freedom," but there are a lot of NIMBYs around.

The latest flap is over the need for an outlying landing field. In order to maintain top-notch pilots, the Navy needs a place for them to practice aircraft carrier landings - among other critical maneuvers. The NIMBYs have arisen again. Every time the Navy suggests a possible location, the pitchforks and torches come out and the locals storm the castle.

Then, a local "genius" decided he had the perfect solution: anchor a retired aircraft carrier offshore and let them practice there. Since carrier landings at night are probably the second scariest things a fighter pilot has to do - perhaps behind dodging a SAM - I could not believe anyone could be that abysmally dense, or that the local rag could be stupid enough to publish his idea.

I submitted a response laced with a bit 'o sarcasm, admittedly rare for me (yeah right) and to my everlasting surprise, they published it this morning:

RE 'CHALLENGES FOR the Navy' (Sunday Forum, April 20): Yet another letter writer suggests the 'smart solution' for an outlying landing field for NAS Oceana is to use a retired carrier? If that's so smart, how about driver's training on I-264 at rush hour, in the rain with bald tires?

I am now a legitimately published smartass.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Virtual flowers . . .

. . . for my girl.

Those that know why, know why. Those that don't maybe never will. Move along y'all, move along, nothing more to see here.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

No vote for Obama . . .

. . . Since Fletch asked, then why not indeed? Before I go further, please understand that my reasons are based on analysis, not simply membership or sympathies with the opposite party. I welcome responses, although I don't expect many, since my blog is essentially fog in the wilderness - noticed by no one.

A caution, though. I consider responses that start out with ". . . but Bush did " to be irrelevant and off point. There are two reasons. First, the discussion is about Obama. Second, even if Bush did <fill in something>, and whatever he did is stupid - a distinct possibility, I'll admit - one wrong is not justified by another. The "but Bobby did it first" excuse didn't work with our mammas, and it won't work with me.

Earlier this year, I posted this:

I fancy myself a centrist, although I'm probably a little right of center - essentially a moderate conservative. 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.
Over the last couple of months, have grown stronger in my feelings about the second sentence, and have completely changed my mind about the last. Before I go further, I will admit that Obama is a gifted speaker, very intelligent and a generally a likable fellow. He has the Bill Clinton ability to light up a room. However, after watching debates and press coverage, this is why I believe it would be a terrible mistake to elect Obama:

1. Experience - or lack thereof: Obama is a one-term senator elected in 2004. He has spent all but about a year of that term running for president. He spent some time as a lawyer, an Illinois legislator and a "community organizer," whatever that is. He has no managerial experience to speak of.

2. Senate record: Probably since he's spent most of his time on the presidential trail, he has a thin record in the Senate. His initiation and/or sponsorship of significant legislation is practically non-existent. He espouses bipartisanism, but his reaches across the aisle have been as hard to find as Osama (an obtuse paen to Ted Kennedy for those who notice).

3. Character: Obama dismisses his connections with Tony Rezko, Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers as "Fox News soundbites." But, ponder this. Rezko was under active federal investigation when Obama sought his advice, and Obama continued to take political donations from him. He paid $300,000 less for his house than the asking price, and the deal was sealed by Rezko's wife buying the adjacent lot. That was the only way for the purchase to succeed since the seller wanted to sell the both pieces of real estate.

His discussion of Jeremiah Wright morphed daily. First, "I never heard it." Next, "I disagree with what he said, but I can't disassociate from him." Next, "If he hadn't retired, I would have left the church." His "Typical white woman" comment about his own grandmother revealed a little more about his true colors - pun intended, I think. The truth of the matter is that Obama hung with Wright for 20 years, then tried to justify Wright's race-baiting, anti-semetic hate speech as "what goes on in a black church." Even Juan Williams blanched at that one. Consider the impact if John McCain spent 20 years in a church headed by David Duke and made a speech about the "typical white woman."

The Ayers connection is admittedly more tenuous. However, Obama's statement that the Weather Underground bombing happened when he was "8 years old" doesn't hold water - or if it does hold water, it's pretty leaky. It's true that the bombings happened when Obama was eight. However, he continued to serve on a board of directors with Ayers well into this century.

The significant problem with all this is that Obama's first response is always to minimize - a response that is, at the very least, untruth by omission.

4. Political stance: Obama is one of the most liberal members of the Senate. His politics indicate that he believes government is the best solution for all problems. I believe, as Ronald Reagan did, and as John Kennedy also proved, that lower taxes encourage growth. Although he has vowed that he will not raise taxes on anyone with an income less than $200,000 (or $250,000 - he didn't seem sure of the exact number) he is a strong advocate of letting the recent tax cuts expire. He keeps harping on the "tax cuts for the rich" theme, which has been thoroughly debunked. The top 5% of earners in the U.S. pay 60% of the taxes. He doesn't realize that the government has NO money to spend. What they do spend, they take from someone to give to someone else. I simply do not believe in advancing socialism in this country.

5. His position on national defense: There was a movie made about his position on national defense. Alicia Silverstone played the lead. I freely admit that the war in Iraq has been ill planned and badly executed. Unfortunately, that's OBE. I believe his "withdraw now" approach is untenable, detrimental to further progress, and likely to cause a complete meltdown in the area if realized. I would say more, but I don't want to turn this into an analysis of the war in Iraq.

That's my analysis. Your mileage may vary.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Guess who . . .

. . . is not getting my vote.

I'm an Avengers Fan . . .

. . . This is one reason

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Music, music, music . . .

. . . take two.

I watched an Amy Winehouse special last night. That soulful voice is not what I expected. I loved it. But Amy, here's a thought. With that HAIR! and those random tattoos, you not only look like you just fell out of the ugly tree - you hit every branch on the way down. Girl, look in the mirror. Just sayin'.
Music, music, music . . .

. . . all kinds of it. I like it. From Robert Johnson to AC/DC. Ladysmith Black Mombazzo and South African township music. I have four Gregorian chant albums. Mountain music via the Stonemans. Flatt & Scruggs, Allison Krauss, Ralph Stanley and the Cox Family bluegrass. Anything Clapton. Satriani's Surfing with the Alien to Pachelbel's Canon in D major. Ludwig's Piano Sonato No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor (especially the Adagio Sostenuto) to Dark Side with Floyd at The Wall. (Can anyone play more music with fewer notes than Gilmour?)

Waiting for Wilson Pickett with The Committments. Unemployment and Red, Red Wine with UB40. From Winds of Change with the Scorpions to Dust in the Wind by Kansas. Crazy Patsy Kline, Crazy Fine Young Cannibals and Crazy Gnarls Barkley. Guns 'n Roses was One in a Million, but there was that Appetite for Destruction. Offset by Mancini and Days of Wine and Roses and Middler's . . . razor, that leaves the soul to bleed.

Riding the City of New Orleans with Guthrie and Dylan or the big waves with Dick Dale and the Deltones or with Wagner, Robert Duvall and Die Walkure. Standing before the Great Gate of Kiev or the front door of Hotel California or The Hall of the Mountain King. One with Metallica and One For My Baby with Sinatra.

I have tapes or CDs of all of this stuff. The music I don't have is from these guys. That's my dad on the left, a cousin in the center and my grandfather on the right. The photo was taken in 1928 when my dad was 14. I still have the banjo and the guitar. When I was trying to learn to play the guitar when I was in college, I played one song with my grandfather. You Are My Sunshine. I never played a song with my father . . .

Monday, April 14, 2008

This Weekend . . .

. . . in random order.

It's what's for dinner. Stir fried beef, green peppers, carrots, mushrooms and onions in a Mandarin orange sauce of my own invention. Korean-style sticky rice and Fuki on the side. Don't jump to conclusions on the Fuki until you check the last image below.

The idea for this dish did NOT come from that new Chinese cookbook entitled "50 ways to wok your dog."

I have no idea about the species of these birds. They have long necks and long bills, and look like waterfowl. But, I'm not aware of a waterfowl like this that hangs out in trees. This time of year, they congregate by the dozens in the tall trees around our neighborhood.

I won the battle with the evil dishwasher. In fact, I kicked its ass. I pulled it out for the fifth time, pulled the pump apart, installed a new seal and fired it up. No leaks. Zero, zip, nada.

Fu-Ki is the best plum wine on this planet. Bar none.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

This Blogger . . .

. . . possibly under the influence, asked me for my Korean marinade recipe. It's used on barbecued ribs, sliced beef or chicken legs. The request isn't so odd, except that she asked in a comment on my blog entry concerning my 9th great-grandfather instead of an email. Well, maybe it's in my email . . . I haven't looked lately.

Anyhoo, here it is.

6 chicken legs, skin on.

4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup soy sauce
2 stalks green onions, finely chopped
3 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs toasted sesame seeds
1 tbs sesame oil
½ tsp Accent
½ tsp black pepper

- Blast all the marinade ingredients in a blender.
- With a sharp knife, score the chicken legs to the bone in five or six places.
- Marinate the chicken legs overnight in the refrigerator.
- Cook quickly on a grill or under a broiler, turning frequently so the sugared marinade doesn't burn.

The same marinade can be used on beef short ribs . . .

- Butterfly the short ribs.
- Beat the bejesus out of the meat with a meat tenderizer or the back of a cleaver.
- Marinate overnight in the fridge.
- Cook on a grill.

. . . or on strips of sirloin or other prime cut of beef.

- Cut the flank steak across the grain into thin strips about a half inch wide.
- Marinate overnight in the fridge.
- Cook on a skewer on a grill, or in a very hot wok.
- If you use a wok, add a few more chopped green onions when the beef is about done.

Any of these dishes must, and I repeat MUST be accompanied with kimchi!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Speaking of . . .

. . . Sir Leonard Halliday, this is a painting (author unknown, at least to me). His family crest is in the upper left corner.

I am not herald enough to blazon accurately, but I think this arms is blazoned as:

Sable, three helmets visored or in profile argent, within a bordure or

The translation, I believe, is: on a black shield with a gold border, three silver helmets with the gold visors closed, viewed in profile.

This blogger . . .

. . . who happens to be a much better wordsmith than I, reminded me of a strange branch on our family tree. Only one of several strange branches, that is.

My 9th great-grandfather, Sir Leonard Halliday, was Lord Mayor of London in the year 1605, during the reign of James I.

1605 was also the year of the "Gunpowder Plot." Few Americans know much about this plot beyond the connection to the movie "V for Vendetta," and I doubt they made the connection to the November 5 premiere. For some reason, however, I have never forgotten this little poem from when I was a child. I suspect my grandmother or aunt taught it to me:

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

I know there's another verse or two, but I don't remember, remember them. Is that failure treasonous?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mrs. Bulldog . . .

. . . got fixed today. No, not THAT. She has had carpal tunnel syndrome, predominately in her right front paw. She had to go through some non-invasive treatment first (our insurance company's requirement), which mostly involved wrist braces. That didn't work, and before she was cleared for surgery, it became quite a bit worse - including some deterioration of muscles in her hand.

We showed up at a new, and very nicely run ambulatory surgery center at 0600 this morning, and she was out by 0730. The surgeon said it was a simple surgery, and that it went quite well. Although, he would have liked to have taken care of it quite a bit sooner. As it is, it may take six months to get most of the strength back in her hand.

She doesn't seem to have much pain, although I suspect Tylox has a role in that.

This is how they do it, although I don't believe her incision is that severe. We will find out Saturday when the dressing comes off.

In any case, I have KP duty for a while - not that I mind. She would do the same for me . . . and has.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Stolen . . . .

. . . meme

4 movies I'd watch again: Blade Runner (director's cut), Saving Private Ryan, Ran, Frankenstein (the original)

4 places I’ve lived: (39.50N, -89.77W), (41.26N, -95.99W), (38.93N, -94.67W), (36.85N, -75.97W)

4 TV shows I watch: The Tudors, Bones, Battlestar Galactica, CSI Miami

4 people I email: Lisa, John, Chris, and about half the people in the US Navy

4 things I eat: popcorn, bulgogi, mortadella (which I think translates to "death by sausage"), farina (named after the Little Rascal, I'll wager) Not all at the same time, mind you.

4 places I’d rather be: London, Prague, Scottish highlands, most anywhere in Ireland

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Dishwasher . . .

. . . no, not Mrs. B. The mechanical one under the kitchen counter.

I found out that it was leaking between the pump housing and the tub. The first attempt was to remove the gasket, put some clear silicone on the surfaces, reassemble and reinstall. Strike one. It leaked on the first load.

Second attempt. A week ago, I ordered a new gasket and several related small parts from Sears Direct. The parts arrived on Friday. I installed the new parts on Saturday, and we ran the first load today. Success! No leak. No water on the floor. I was patting myself on the back until Mrs. B pointed out that none of the soap dissolved. Diagnosis - the washer didn't leak because, and only because I didn't turn the water back on. Turn water on. Observe. Strike two. A bigger leak. Apparently when I replaced the gasket between the pump housing and the tub, I messed up the seal between the motor shaft and the pump housing.

Back to Sears Parts Direct for the requisite parts for third attempt. The parts won't be here for a week or so.

This machine shall not win. . .

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Another dreary weekend . . .

. . . so all I have is a tour of the doghouse.

It's rained on and off all week. What is this? Bloody Seattle? I haven't been able to mow the grass for two weeks. I'm going to need a custom baler.

My computer room is up there.

I built the computer desk and hutch in my woodshop. The drapes came from my sewing room, and cosist of fabric from Hancock and welding rod from Northern tool.

My birds-eye view of the downstairs. The drapes also came from my sewing room. All the bears belong to Mrs. B.

While taking photos, I ran into Mrs. B in the kitchen. She said her feet were cold.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Great Plains weather . . .

. . . can be very interesting.

Mrs. Bulldog and I - and another very clever blogger that I know - spent most of our lives in the Great Plains area. The weather on the Nebraska/Iowa border and on the Missouri/Kansas border can be . . . well, extreme.

While Mrs. B and I lived in Omaha, we saw two tornados. One F2 storm hit less than a half-mile from our house. The other was an F4, and blasted across town four miles away.

Mike Hollingshead is a storm chaser from Blair, NE. His storm photos are simply amazing. Give his website a look. Here's a Nebraska example.

Now this may look fierce, and it is. However, compared to hurricanes, tornadoes are generally much smaller, last a much shorter time and cause less overall damage.

I would rather live in tornado country than hurricane country. Call it the Wildebeest effect. In tornado country, you have only one lion chasing you, he gets tired very quickly, and there are lots of other Wildebeests milling around. Chances of getting eaten are pretty small. On the other hand, a hurricane is a whole pride of lions, backed up by reserves, and they don't tire out for days. Chances of getting eaten are much greater.

. . . All of which may cause you to ask why Mrs. B and I now live in Virginia. The answer is that we DON'T live in Virginia during hurricanes. We go inland.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Island of Dr. Moreau . . .

. . . or, what are our Brit friends up to?

Embryos containing human and animal material have been created in Britain for the first time, a month before the House of Commons votes on new laws to regulate the research.

A team at Newcastle University announced yesterday that it had successfully generated “admixed embryos” by adding human DNA to empty cow eggs in the first experiment of its kind in Britain.

Full story here.

The intent is to develop a method to produce very strong stem cells, and the DNA content of the "cybrid" (cytoplasmic hybrid) is 99% human.

Odd thoughts that occurred to me as I read the article . . .

- Will Victoria's Secret need to develop a line of cybrid bras, and if so, will it have one cup or four?

- Can you now call that ex-wife / ex-girlfriend / obnoxious co-worker an "old cow" and be 99% correct?

- Is this a step in a program to develop self-milking cows?

- By extension, does this explain Wolfman Jack?

I suspect Pope Benedict is having a cow over this.

That is all . . . feel free to comment.