Sunday, June 29, 2008

My Mother . . .

. . . the painter. Later in life, my Mother decided to create a painting for each of her five grandchildren - starting with the oldest first. Each grandchild chose the subject. She was only able to complete two paintings and a partial third before she died in 1989.

This is the one created for Lisa. I think it's an example of Mother's best work.

This landscape with hawk was created for the older of Lisa's two brothers. It's unframed, and has been packed away for more than 10 years. I retrieved it today when I saw the first painting on Lisa's blog. The hazy look is due to my photography - not her painting.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Drag Racing . . .

. . . seems to be uniquely American, although it seems to be spreading to the UK and to Australia. I use do do it a bit myself in this car, which I built myself.

The car burned pure methanol and generated something over 750 horspower. It was a matter of strap your butt into the seat, hit the loud pedal, and hang on for a little less than 9 seconds. Then, at about 175 mph (which is a bit over 281 kph), put it in neutral, hit the kill switch, and pop the parachute.

It's not without risk, though. Having sat in the seat - albeit at a much slower speed - I really understand the tragedy of this:

The driver was Scott Kalitta, 46 years old, and a 2nd generation drag racing veteran. He was the son of Connie Kalitta, one of the early pioneers of of the sport, and the one-time mentor of Shirley Muldowney (Heart Like a Wheel).

This was undoubtedly the worst accident I've seen in almost 50 years of watching and participating in drag racing. The fire en-route was undoubtedly from spilled oil. The huge explosion at the end was due to the load of nitromethane fuel on board. Seems to me that it's short-sighted of the raceway to put a concrete wall at the end of the shut-down area.

Speaking of fly-overs . . .

. . . this one really got to me, since I saw it in person as I was driving by NAS Oceana. In 2006, the Navy retired all of their F-14 Tomcats. The video shows them coming home from the carrier after their last deployment.

Please don't misinterpret. This is just a salute to the folks I work with every day, not a war commentary. I will add, however, that while I don't disagree with taking Saddam off the planet, I do agree that Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et. al. magnificantly cocked up everything the military accomplished.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Call me an old softie . . .

. . . but fly-overs during the National Anthem still bring a tear to my eye.

At the NASCAR race in Sonoma, CA today, the fly-over was was a flight of A-10 Warthogs from the Arkansas National Guard. This video is not from Sonoma, but the fly-over is virtually identical.

I suppose they had to come from Arkansas because of the general anti-military attidude that many cities in California seem to embrace.

Well, THANKS, Arkansas! Oh . . . and F*** you, California.

George Carlin had a great line about California: "What ain't fruits and nuts is flakes."

Can I have an "Amen?"

Friday, June 20, 2008

Brits we like . . .

. . . and some not so much.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

She . . .

. . . may have been bitten by . . .

They say nostalgia . . .

. . . isn't what it used to be.

I disagree. How can one forget the wonder and excitement on the face of a tiny blogger at something so simple as a little doll?

Or, that there are things that we used to be able to do that we would have a hard time doing today?

Or, that those people who were supposed to be around forever . . . are not?

Eat and run . . .

It seems that Mrs B has become the head duck of our flock. They wander up every day and wait for her to hand out the leftover bread. Except, it's not leftover any more. She's buying a loaf or two of the generic cheapo bread every week to help stuff the ducks . . . as it were.

I'm reminded that "TLK" used to call them "ducklies." Yep, that "TLK."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Gas Prices . . .

. . . a brief commentary.

Why are gas prices so high in the U.S.? Obviously, there are several reasons - speculation, high demand in India and China and gas-eating vehicles (urk . . . I own one).

Generally being a capitalist, and not a socialist, I don't buy the nasty old big oil is getting in our shorts argument. Anyone who has an inkling of knowledge about corporate profit margins (that's MARGINS, not total profits) shouldn't buy it either. However, with our generally liberal, anti big enterprise media (who are, in fact, themselves big enterprises) feeding those flames, I understand why it is otherwise.

In my opinion, the most significant reason for the shortage is that one political party promotes conservation as the ONLY option, while the other is willing to embrace both conservation AND expansion of resources.

We cannot survive this mess without a) lowering consumption and b) increasing OUR OWN supplies. We need vehicles that get better mileage - an approach that the U.S. has put off too long. Unfortunately, we have waited too long, and our fleet is too large for an instant change-over.

To augment our position while we convert to better vehicles, we also need more exploration, more drilling, more refining capacity and more nuclear facilities. Not that we will have nuke-powered automobiles, but nukes will take coal, oil and natural gas-fired power plants off line.

As I said in an earlier rant: "Even the FRENCH use nuclear power, for Gawd's sake."

Some surprising statistics:

- There are estimated to be 86 billion barrels of oil in the U. S. outer continental shelf. That's equal to about 30% of the total reserves in Saudi Arabia. The U.S. Government won't allow drilling there - although China and Cuba are drilling just outside our territorial limits.

- The oil-shale fields in the U.S. contain an estimated 1.5 trillion barrels of oil. That's five times the reserves in Saudi Arabia. There are some technology problems with processing, but the U.S. Government won't allow recovery there.

One of our political parties is promoting this approach. One is still hung up on the conservation uber-alles mantra.

To determine who may help us out of this hole, and who may not, I offer the following voting record without further comment.

ANWR Exploration
House Republicans: 91% Supported
House Democrats: 86% Opposed

House Republicans: 97% Supported
House Democrats: 78% Opposed

Oil Shale Exploration
House Republicans: 90% Supported
House Democrats: 86% Opposed

Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Exploration
House Republicans: 81% Supported
House Democrats: 83% Opposed

Refinery Increased Capacity
House Republicans: 97% Supported
House Democrats: 96% Opposed
Purple Haze . . .

. . . all in my eyes. Don't know if it's day or night

Well, not exactly purple. More of a smoky gray. For those of you not following the news, while the midwest is flooding, North Carolina is burning. At least 1,000 acres of the Great Dismal Swamp has been consumed by a wildfire over the last week, and the smoke is wafting through Hampton Roads. The entire area smells like a campfire . . . set inside the tent.

In the long run, this type of fire is supposed to be good for the swamp, which is also designated as a National Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately, it is not very good for those of us who must continue to breathe regularly.

On a sadder note, one of our resident ducks apparently has been injured. We have several ducks show up every day looking for handouts. This female has lost a major part of her upper bill. She struggles to eat the bread and other goodies we leave out for her. I don't have much hope for her survival.

Friday, June 13, 2008

With apologies to . . .

. . . Lynyrd Skynyrd

How can you not love the Leningrad Cowboys in concert with the Red Army Choir?

. . . and the pronunciation. Swee Tome, Alabama, indeed.

Monday, June 09, 2008

HOT . . .

To quote Adrian Cronauer, The weather out there today is hot and shitty with continued hot and shitty in the afternoon. Basically, it's hotter than a snake's ass in a wagon rut.

I'll pardon Robin Williams' mixed simile. The correct version is lower than a snake's ass in a wagon rut. I'm not sure why a wagon rut would make a snake's ass hot, but I guess that's irrelevant. He makes the big movie bucks, and I don't.

Pardon the interlude . . . back to our regularly scheduled program. Yesterday, Virginia Beach set a heat record - 101F. That's 33C and change to our friends across the pond. It's also 3F higher than any recorded temperature in this area . . . ever.

Today, it was a little cooler, so I decided to wander up to the golf club that winds its way through our subdivision. I needed to hit a few practice balls, since it's been at least two forevers since I have played the game. I used to carry a single digit handicap, but those days are gone - age and lack of play for the last 10 years or so. Building my hot rod had a higher priority than chasing little orbs across a pasture into a gopher hole.

I underestimated how hot it was. I was out for an hour, and looked something like this . . . well, no, exactly like this when I came home. Damn, it was hot.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Speaking of bacon slicers . . .

. . . this is my Nihonto katana. I received it after my grandfather died in 1957. It was a prominent feature in his "doghouse" out back by his workshop.

Information on the origin of a true Nihonto is recorded on the tang (nagako). One side of the nagako usually has the date (nengo) and the other side has the smith's signature (mei).

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".

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, 1943).

. . . and yes, it will cut bacon. Not a good idea, though. Legend says that a Nihonto, once drawn in anger, cannot be sheathed without drawing blood.

I must go and sheath it now. Done. OUCH! Wait. I wasn't angry.
Nihontos and Bacon . . .

. . . at least, that's what's on Ian's mind, I guess. To make any sense of this, you have to read here first. Even then, no guarantees.

Bacon Samurai

Click here to play this game

Friday, June 06, 2008

To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld . . .

. . . sometimes, we don't know what we know.

I'm not a believer in the paranormal, but sometimes things happen that seem to be out of the realm of logic. I started thinking about this again during our recent trip back to Natchez, MS. Two events within several days of each other came to mind.

First event: My second cousin, Daniel Farrar, of Adams County, MS, was a Captain in the Adams Troop, Jeff Davis Legion, Mississippi Cavalry during the civil war. On our previous trip to Natchez, I decided to drive to Fayette, MS to find his tombstone.

I assumed that the Fayette cemetery would be relatively small, but I was wrong. It was a massive graveyard built over a couple of centuries. I had no plot number or location for his grave. There was no sexton at the cemetery and no index. I had no idea how to find his grave marker.

So, Mrs. B and I drove around the outskirts for about a half-hour looking for clues. Finding none, we were ready to give up, when I said "I need to stop here." I got out of the car, walked up the hill about 20 paces, turned right about 10 paces, and was standing in front of the Farrar family gravesite. Lucky guess . . . or unknown guidance? I have no idea.

Second event: Several days later, we decided to take a tour of the Civil War battlefield at Vicksburg, MS. My cousin, Presley Rice was a sergeant in Company G of the 61st Illinois Infantry. My great-grand uncle, Napoleon Trimble, was a private in the same company.

We drove around the park, and saw monument after monument, but could not find the 61st Illinois. About 3/4ths of the way around the park, I told Mrs. B to stop the car. I got out, walked up to the next monument, and it was the 61st Illinois. Coincidence? I still have no idea.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Queen is dead . . .

. . . long live the queen.

Last night was the season two finale of "The Tudors." Anne's speech given on the gallows seemed to be word-for-word from the historical record, and Natalie Dormer delivered it very nicely.

Whatever blows your skirt up . . .

. . . or, how is your logic IQ? How are these photos related? OK, that was a cheap intro. I admit it, but it was the first thought to come to my mind.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Random Sunday irritants . . .
The latest commercial has four or five full-on gee-tar playin', cowboy hat wearin', country singin' good ol' boys singing "VIVA Viagra!" Yeah. Like that's going to happen
Is there anyone more irritating than this guy?
I don't get it. In fact, I never did. I guess it's a chick thing. Also, I've noticed that all of Sarah Jessica Parker's magazine covers are photographed straight on. No profiles. I think I nose why.

On "The Tudors," Anne is in deep doo. Who could have predicted that? Not really irritating, but I hate to see her go off all headless.

Finally, an open letter to several folks I was stuck in traffic with yesterday: Hey! It's possible I could like you. We could even be friends. You're driving a nice car, and seem to be a nice person. There's even a chance I could learn to like your music. If I could hear it, that is. But . . . I don't hear a cotton-picking thing except that gawd-awful thumping bass woofer you've got stuck in your trunk, and turned up to 8.6 on the Richter scale. Like I said, you may be a really nice person, but at this exact moment, I really, really wish that the wires to your woofer would short out to , say, about 1200 volts, and generate a pressure wave that would completely implode your worthless fu**ing skull.