Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Ride . . .

. . . for the new year.

It may be silly to take a brand new vehicle to drive around on the narrow streets of Naples, Italy, but I was concerned about our Explorer's reliability for another three years with no Ford repair shops around.

The Escape is smaller, gets better gas mileage, and will only be used on road trips. We'll be looking for a beater for daily use when we get there. My report date to Italy now looks like about 15 APR.

We pick it up tomorrow.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Myopia . . .

. . . or ignorance?

WASHINGTON – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says investigators did not have enough information to keep a terror suspect from boarding a flight bound for Detroit and that the system worked as it should have.
Janet, sweetie, NOTHING worked.

Not screening, not intel, not databases.


Not even the bomb, which is why you were able to make that completely inane statement.

Ironically, he wasn't a "disgruntled military veteran" or a "right-wing extremist."

This just in:

A day after saying the system worked, Napolitano backtracked, saying her words had been taken out of context.

"Our system did not work in this instance," she said on NBC's "Today" show. "No one is happy or satisfied with that. An extensive review is under way."

Definition of "taken out of context:" I screwed up, but I'm not about to admit it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas dinner . . .

. . . at Bulldog's kennel.

Turkey breast, green beans, mashed potatoes, crescent rolls, cornbread stuffing and frozen salad. We even got out the Spode and the Waterford. I cooked the turkey. Mrs. B did the rest. She did an amazing job.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mission . . .

. . . Accomplished!

By Ian, that is. Whilst visiting Omaha for Lisa's wedding, Ian and I proved to be abject failures at creating one version of a black & tan. That notwithstanding, the failures were truly enjoyable, because a failed black & tan is either a half & half OR, another version of a black & tan. How can one lose?

Nonetheless, we both were determined to make the "real thing." Ian succeeded first - primarily because I sent him a clever little device.

No, not the custom bent spoon. We tried that, and had more failures to drink. The device is made by Bass, is called a "Brolly," and it works perfectly.

I'm not sure that "perfectly" involves a pale ale from New York, but I'm feeling charitable tonight. After all, he did use a proper stout.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tailgating . . .

. . . is not socially acceptable - or safe, for that matter.

(BLOGNOTE: Brokeback Mountain coments will be ignored)

Little missy (hereinafter, THAT BITCH or TB) - who has the age to drive, but not the requisite common sense - is hanging her Mustang about 10 feet off my back bumper. This would not be a problem if we were stopped in a parking lot or sitting at a traffic signal. Unfortunately, that which is acceptable in a parking lot is not as much so on the interstate.

Moving at 65 MPH.

In traffic.

During rush hour.

TB has no place else to go, as all the other lanes were full and moving at the same speed, but somehow she JUST HAS TO GET 10 FEET FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD AT ALL COSTS! After all, at 65 mph, 10 feet will save her a full 105 milliseconds.

That is, unless TB plants her Mustang in my trunk.

What to do, what to do?

Tap the brakes without slowing down. Mild signal. Ignored. Still 10 feet back.

Tap the brakes without slowing down. Gentle wave. Ignored. Still 10 feet back.

Slow down significantly, but safely. A bit startled, TB moves back to about 50 feet.

Solved, I think.

Not so. I'm back to speed. TB is back to 10 feet.

Enough of this game. If I'm going to get rammed, it will be at a slower speed.

Another significant (but safe) slow down, accompanied by a stern wave to move the F**K back.

TB finally has had enough. Zooms into the next lane.

Good move, except that lane slows down, and TB is going losing ground, not gaining.

I am mildly amused.

A couple of miles down the road, TB finally passes me - two lanes over. She has now gained back her 105 milliseconds, and is apparently going insane. Screaming, waving, one-finger salute, pounding on her window.

Me, I'm laughing my ass off.

She doesn't like that either, and goes apoplectic - best I can tell.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Better . . .

. . . and better.

Just trying . . .

. . . to be helpful.

So, I'm walking through Kohls when a woman dropped one of the "unmentionables" she was carrying to checkout.

Perhaps I could have thought of a better phrase than: "Pardon me, ma'am, but you dropped your panties."

Perhaps not.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ruminations . . .

. . . at random

Moving out
I knew it would take SOME red tape to effect my transfer to Naples, but the sheer volume is mind-boggling. So far, I have completed:

- Offer acceptance
- Transportation agreement
- Overseas suitability statement
- Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act acknowledgement
- Transportation agreement
- Rotation agreement
- Permanent change of station questionnaire
- Certificate of medical examination
- Application for gov't employee passport

Next up: medical exams, passport submittal, receipt of orders, and God knows what else.

Christmas goodies
My elder son (the MD) has, for some time, been mildly obsessed with baking. That may be an understatement, because "mildly" is in neither his vocabulary nor his psyche. That aside, a package arrived to day with a dozen or more types of holiday confections. Fudge, several variations of cookies and cakes, and peanut brittle. The peanut brittle tastes exactly like that my mother made, something no one else has been able to accomplish. Of course, all this comes six weeks into my "lose a bit of weight and get more fit" program. I am greatly tempted, but after shedding 10 lbs, I have made a solemn vow to have no more than one per day - and not necessarily every day.

Black and Tan
Having failed miserably at making a black and tan, I bought a couple of "cheaters" from Bass. I sent one to Ian also.
I'm dying to try it, but then there's the "lose some weight and get fit" program, which is not compatible with mass quantities of stout and ale.
Well, maybe just one . . .

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I can see clearly now . . .

. . . says Mrs. B

At least she will after January. Mrs. Bulldog will be having cataract surgery on one eye on 06 JAN 2010, and the second three weeks later.

Amazingly, it's outpatient surgery. In and out with an eye patch.

I'm saving up comments like: "Arrrrrgh matey, where's me grog?"

If you don't hear from me after January 6, she didn't think it was funny.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

This little item . . .

. . . reminded me of a poet in the family, Alex Sykie, the nom de plume of the new son-in-law.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I find this . . .

. . . strangely comforting.

Official orders . . .

. . . arrived today by email.

There were ONLY fifteen attachments that I need to review, fill out, sign, forward, or otherwise manipulate.

Unless something very strange happens, Mrs. B and I are on the way to the ankle of the boot in a few months.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dr. Strangelove . . .

. . . or, How Ian Learned to Fly a B-52.

Yep, that's Ian, the proper Englishman who recently married my all-American daughter, at the controls of a B-52D Stratofortress. His flight instructor (me) is sitting in the first officer's seat patiently offering hints to prevent us from flying at negative altitude.

Actually, we're sitting in a B-52D training simulator at the Strategic Air and Space Museum near Omaha Nebraska. There are dozens of aircraft in this museum, and ALL of them are inside. If you look at the size of some of them, you can imagine the sheer size of the building.

Amazing. Simply amazing.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Tiger Woods . . .

. . . is now nine over par.

That is all.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Finally . . .

. . . a real offer.

The offer from Italy came through today, complete with a relocation allowance, an acceptable salary, a concession to reevaluate it (upwards) after year-end when I receive my annual raise.

In 30 days, I should receive orders to transfer, then the real work begins - selling the house, medical screening, arranging for housing, obtaining an official passport . . . ad nauseum.

My first purchase is going to be Rosetta Stone (Italian). Although I'm not required to speak Italian, I think it will be very helpful. This may fall into the "old dog/new tricks" category.

I've been told it may take 3-4 months to get relocated. That's OK with me. I would rather move in the spring than the midst of winter.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Civil War reenactors only . . .

Unless you're looking to acquire some leaving-the-hobby bargains, move along, nothing to see here.

I will be embarking on a three-year tour with NAVFAC Europe, and will be based in Naples, Italy. I have already quit campaigning and have sold most of my traps. I had been keeping some items just in case I might weaken - but that won't happen, so the rest goes at pretty low prices.

If you want multiple items, let me know. I may be able to cut shipping costs.

Do not comment here. If you wish to purchase something, email me: First come - first served.


Homespun check from JoAnn Fabrics, French pattern, shoulder straps, wooden buttons, fits 44-46, 18"neck, 35" sleeves, never worn.


Dress shirt, French pattern, heavy tabby-weave cotton body/sleeves, fine cotton insert w/18 pleats, glass buttons, extensive topstitching, size 44-46, 35" sleeves, 18" banded collar, never worn.


Miscellaneous belts.

British snake buckle belt, hand-cut, hand-sewn, fits 34-40, $20+$5 shipping. I've worn this one a couple of times, but it is in excellent shape.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Congratulations . . .

. . . tentative job offer.

That's what the email said, but there was no information about salary. Only a request for the appropriate paperwork to continue with the process.
You have been tentatively selected and are being actively considered for employment for the position of <deleted>. If you are interested and would like further consideration for this position, please provide the following information and documents: <deleted>

I guess there's some deep, underlying reason the government must communicate in this manner, but it escapes me. I would assume that a job offer (even tentative) would include at least an afterthought about salary.

Perhaps not.

More later . . .

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Good news . . .

. . . I hope.

Monday, I am to receive a formal offer and proposed salary for the job in Naples, Italy. It supposedly was emailed to me on Thursday, but there was a glitch somewhere.

The process of applying, selecting, etc., has been going on since 27 JUL. I have found that the wheels of government truly grind slowly.

Film at 11 . . .

School ties . . .

. . . dissolved.

The mascot/team name of the small-town high school I attended in Illinois was the Bulldogs. The Virden (IL) Community High School Bulldogs, that is. Our colors were purple and white.

No longer.

Virden schools have now consolidated with nearby Girard (IL), and now the Bulldogs and our #2 sports rival, the Redbirds are now one.

Of course, neither mascot could survive, as that would cause an inter-village war among the athletic supporters (so to speak). So some sort of referendum was held, and the schools have a new name, new colors and a new mascot.

The school name is North Mac, the colors are black and blue, and the mascot is a panther - showing a complete lack of imagination, I might add.

North Mac comes from North Macoupin County, IL, where the schools are located. However, I suspect a forthcoming lawsuit from McDonalds, as they believe they have full rights to anything starting with Mc or Mac.

Black and blue colors for a football team? Come on. Besides, the new logo is an exact copy of an existing logo for a semi-pro team.

Finally, there are NO panthers in Illinois, panthers have no historical connection to Illinois, and there are already dozens of teams in in the state with the same name.

At least it's an improvement of the name the Pekin, IL teams formerly used. Can you believe the Pekin "Chinks?" Yep, because Pekin sounds kind of like the old pronuncation for China's capital, they were called the "Chinks."

Makes the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians nicknames a bit tame.

Why should I care?

I guess I really don't, but high school years are some of the most formative of our lives, and changing those anchors of who we are just doesn't seem right.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nicknames . . .

. . . for Lisa

Rocky - from my college roommate.

La - from her older brother because he couldn't say Lisa at first.

Ahsa - from her younger brother because he couldn't say Lisa either.

Lucy - from a point in her life when she was younger and rather vociferous. Charles Schultz fans will understand.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Check Lisa's post . . .

. . . "My dad + wiring = fire"

No, not THIS Lisa. Another Lisa.

That post brought back a fond memory.

My dad could do anything BUT wiring. He was a machinist's mate in the Navy. He ran a service station, a grain terminal, a fertilizer depot and a quarry at different times. He built a motorcycle from parts, painted cars, overhauled engines, poured concrete. He jacked up our house and put a basement under it.

He is why I am so mechanically inclined. However, he didn't study electricity, and I did.

My first year in college, he asked me about running 220V wiring for the new clothes dryer. When he showed me what he intended to do, I told him it would cause a direct short and burn out the wiring.

He didn't seem to believe me, so I took a very fine piece of wire, held it in insulated pliers and touched the ends where he thought he should hook up the dryer.

Result? Sparks. Wire burned in half.

After I helped him hook it up, he patted me on the back and said thanks. That was the first time I can remember that my dad asked me for technical advice.

It was a nice, fuzzy, warm feeling - from 47 years ago. I can still see it in my mind's eye.
Have some pride . . .

. . . damn it.

Stop it, and stop it NOW!

You are the president of the United States.

You do not bow to ANY other head of state.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

What we are teaching . . .

. . . our college athletes.

In the Virginian-Pilot this morning:
"I want to apologize to the officiating staff. I kind of lost it a little bit. You guys are just doing your job. I should have just did my job a little better."

- University of Virginia quarterback after losing his temper at the officiating crew.

He's a senior in college. After 15 -1/2 years of schooling, this is the result?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans' Day - 11 NOV 2009

My Father
MM3, USN - 1943 - 1946

Friday, November 06, 2009

Well done . . .

. . . Officer Munley.

This is Kimberly Munley, who faced off Major Nidal Malik Hasan at Ft. Hood. She shot him four times and put him down, despite being wounded herself.

A hero among heroes.

And, what was Barry O up to? Addressing the nation? Well, sort of. He spent the first 2:17 of his "address" commenting on the conference he was attending, including giving a "shout out" to a Native American Medal of Honor recipient.

Then he got around to Ft. Hood.

Tacky, Barry. Tacky.

There's a special place in Hell . . .

. . . for those who kill their brothers-in-arms.

November 5 . . .

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder treason and plot,
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

That's one of too many rhymes stuck in my head.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Staying cool . . .

. . . can save your life.

But panic can kill you.

On 16 SEP, a highway patrolman, his wife, daughter and brother-in-law were killed in a crash because the accelerator pedal on the loner toyota they were driving stuck down.

Actully, the stuck accelerator didn't kill them, the panic did.

If your accelerator pedal stuck, what would you do?

1) Jam on the brakes?
2) Turn off the ignition?
3) Put it in neutral?

If you chose 1 or 2, you're likely dead. Here's why.

1) Wrong! If you jam on the brakes, they probably won't be able to hold against the engine, and will burn out. Then, you have a stuck accelerator AND no brakes.

2) Wrong! That will kill the engine, but most cars today (in the US at least) have that theft-defeating steering wheel lock. Now, you have a stuck accelerator AND no steering.

3) Right! That may blow up the engine, but at least you're not accelerating, and you DO have brakes and steering.

The 911 call is really disturbing to me for two reasons. First, the guy in the car taking way too long to describe the situation. That's understandable because he's in dire stress. Second, the 911 operator has no sense of urgency. What bearing does "where are you?" have on the emergency? Instead of saying "Can't you turn it off?" he needed to say "PUT IT IN NEUTRAL!"

I know that's second guessing, and I wasn't there. But every driver and every 911 operator should be trained on this situation.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The mouths in the bus . . .

. . . go "YAP YAP YAP"

Maybe it's because it's Friday, and everyone is happy to be off work.

Or, maybe they're just clods.

I'm sitting about three-fourths of the way to the rear of the bus. One lady sits in the seat in front of me. One lady sits a row behind me on the other side of the aisle. The guy sits in the front.

This is all nice, except they want to talk to each other for most of the ride. By talk, I mean YELL, because the bus is noisy, and they can't hear each other unless they YELL.

So, they YELL.


And YELL some more.

Which would have been fairly excusable for a pack of teenagers, except all of these people were grown adults.

Clods it is.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Progress . . .

. . . report

I received an email from Naples today. Salary action is complete - although I don't know what the proposed salary is - and my paperwork is at the head shed to be signed.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Barry O . . .

. . . socialist extraordinaire

Exact quotes:

The so-called Founders did not allow for economic freedom. While political freedom is supposedly a cornerstone of the document, the distribution of wealth is not even mentioned.

And one of the I think the tragedies of the Civil Rights movement was because the Civil Rights movement became so court focused I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change and in some ways we still suffer from that."

If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples so that, uh, I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at a lunch counter and -- and order and as long as I could pay for it I'd be okay. But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society.

2008: I think when you spread the wealth around it's good for everybody.

So, if you're having trouble distributing YOUR money to folks who think they need it more, Barry's your guy.

Don't yell at me. YOU elected him. I didn't.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Just Mahvelous . . .

Lisa and Ian know what I'm talkin' about.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How to build . . .

. . . a six hundred forty-dollar toilet seat.

Well, not exactly.

You remember that, of course. Along with the $436 claw hammer.

Examples of government waste in the 1980s.

In that vein, the government have (BrE plural used because this was too big a deal to be singular) stopped that, with the National Security Payroll System - or, as we refer to it, the N.S. f***ing P.S.

Another brainchild from Donald Rumsfeld. You also remember him from his magnificent strategy during . . . well, nevermind. If I have to explain, there's no point.

In essence, this was an attempt to institute a pay-for-performance system in the Department of Defense. Over the last several years, 200,000 DoD personnel have been dragged, kicking and screaming enrolled in this system.

All those people were required to take three days of training. Assuming eight hour days and about $30/hour salary (full salary, including benefits), that was about $144,000,000 in lost time. Add the millions for the computer system, consultant fees, etc., and the total cost must have been somewhat north of a quarter-billion dollars.

What was gained? (He asked, rhetorically)

- An annual performance review that takes about 18 pages to print out.
- An additional $100,000,000 or so each year in time spent completing and discussing the aforesaid form.
- "Measurable" objectives defined by government-speak that nobody can understand.
- A distribution of salary increases that were not measurably different from those paid under the old GS system.

Would anyone have expected less from Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz?

Not I. (He stated, a prescriptivist by nature )

Fortunately, they are gone.

Unfortunately, NSPS is not gone until 2012.

Fortunately, it's on its way out.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday . . .

. . . senses

1) Sight: The picture on our 46" LCD TV (only two years old) went blank last week. $295.00 got it running again, but the picture was terribly dark. The only way we could see anything was to turn the brightness and contrast up to 100%. I talked to the repairman, who kept claiming it was fixed - even after a second trip. I was preparing to call him again, so I ran through the on-screen picture menu and wrote down everything I could to help explain the problem. As I was exiting from the menu, I saw an option called "Energy Saver." Guess what "Energy Saver" does. Yep, it turns down the contrast and brightness to save power. Guess what the repairman set it on. Yep, "Maximum." When I reset it to "Normal," everything was fine.

2) Sound: None of the fighter squadrons from NAS Oceana are deployed, so there are lots of F/A 18 Hornets wandering around our part of the sky. Many around here hate the sound. I do not. Those are the men and women who go in harm's way for us. What's a little noise in exchange for that?

3) Smell: There's a new rider on the afternoon bus, and he always sits at the front. I did too, until a little breeze came my way. This guy smokes so much that he positively reeks. He polluted the entire front half of the bus. I now sit in the back.

4) Touch: I had several hands and an unknown number of tools in my mouth on Thursday. I had to have a wisdom tooth pulled. The DDS had to do a surgical extraction because of the size and tenacity of the roots. He also had to remove a little bone to get it out. Since I have had to rely on small doses of "Mother's Little Helpers," I couldn't go to work today. Without a little C18H21NO3 in my system, it hurts like hell.

5) Taste: Because of #4, I'm not eating much. But a soup and ice cream diet isn't all that bad.

6) Accomplishment: According to an email I received Tuesday, my appointment to a 3-year assignment in Naples, Italy is being typed up. It will still take a couple of months, as the wheels of government grind slowly. (Yeah, I know that's not a bodily sense, but I'm really happy about it.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Pope . . .

. . . named five new saints.

Strangely enough, Obama wasn't one of them.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Nobel Peace Prize . . .

. . . is now officially a joke.

It was bad enough that Al Gore won the prize for making a movie. But now it's given to someone who has accomplished absolutely nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. Well, except for his apology tour.

Ghandi never won, and Barry O does? Who's next? Michael Moore?

Of course, since Algore won for a movie, Peanut Carter won for a bunch of failed peace efforts, and Henry Kissinger won for ending the war in Vietnam - a year or two before the North Vietnamese stormed the south and took over the coutry, why am I surprised?

The Nobel committe has effectively demeaned every past winner with this insane choice.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Saturday night . . .

. . . at the Irish Rover

My jones for a good plate of fish & chips had reached critical mass. Previously we had tried Finn McCool's, which advertises Atlantic cod in a Bass beer batter sauce with chips and tartar sauce.

Tartar sauce?

That should have been a clue.

They did have malt vinegar after all, so I ordered the fish & chips. The fish was undercooked and soggy, and I couldn't get a black and tan.

Scratch off Finn McCools as a bunch of poseurs.

Last week, Mrs. B put on her internet search hat and found Conklin's Irish Rover. Bless her little heart.

She ordered some non-Irish baked fish, and I ordered the fish & chips.

Real fish in Guinness batter. Chips, not potato chips.

"Malt vinegar, or tartar sauce?" says the serving wench.

"Malt vinegar, of course!" says I. "My Riley ancestors would haunt me otherwise"

So, it was fish & chips, a half-and-half (Guinness & Harp) and a fine little slice of Irish soda bread.

Very nice.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

His ass . . .

. . . belongs in jail.

Question: If you drug, rape and sodomize a thirteen year-old girl, should you be able to avoid prosecution? Does it matter that you have been a fugitive for thirty years? Or that you're 76 years old? Or that the victim has forgiven you? Or that filmmakers and actors all over the world think it's unfair?

Since I have a daughter who was once thirteen, and several grand-daughters who eventually will be, I am totally, completely appalled about what I'm hearing:

Jack Lang, a former French culture minister, said that for Europeans the development showed that the American system of justice had run amok. “Sometimes, the American justice system shows an excess of formalism,” Mr. Lang said, “like an infernal machine that advances inexorably and blindly.”

Ronald Harwood, who won an Oscar as screenwriter of “The Pianist,” which Mr. Polanski directed, said: “It’s really disgraceful. Both the Americans and the Swiss have miscalculated.”

Nearly 100 entertainment industry professionals . . . urged in a petition that Mr. Polanski be released, saying: “Filmmakers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision.”

Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, described Mr. Polanski’s arrest as “a bit sinister” and said he and the Polish foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, were jointly writing a letter expressing concern to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Polanski's agent, Jeff Berg, appearing Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show, said he did not understand why such a long-standing case was being pursued now.

Come on, folks. What if it was your daughter?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Remembrance and service ?

December 7 is a day of remembrance.

June 6 is a day of remembrance.

Veterans day is a day of remembrance.

September 11 is a day of remembrance, NOT remembrance and service.

Nothing against anyone who wants to do something positive, but I WILL NOT let that Chicago ward heeler redefine 9/11.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Without comment . . .

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Learning Channel . . .

. . . or creepshow?

I went out to mow the yard and apparently left the TV The Learning Channel . When I came back in, there was a so-called "documentary" on called Toddlers & Tiaras.

I watched for about five minutes, then had to turn it off. How creepy is it to dress five-year-old girls in big hair and makeup and parade them around on stage? Beyond that, how irresponsible are the mothers who allow it?

It seems to me that the mothers are transposing THEIR needs on their children, and need to get a life of their own. This isn't the equivalent of little league football, scouting or soccer. It's exploitation.

Why would any mother think it's appropriate to dress up her toddler daughter like a ten-dollar hooker? Maybe it's because most of these mothers couln't collect $10.00 themselves. These mothers are irresponsible, and he producers of the show are little more than panderers.

Anyone heard of Jon-Benet Ramsey? Yuck!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Odds . . .

. . . and ends

Item the first - part A: At a little over 32,000 miles, the harmonic balancer on our 2004 Ford Explorer failed. The bill was going to be $680, but our auto insurance partially covers mechanical breakdowns. Final bill - $250. I'm a bit disgusted that it would fail at such a low mileage.

Item the first, part B: The service writer at the Ford garage started to explain the function of a harmonic balancer.
- Him: The harmonic balancer failed, and -
- Me: I assume it was the elastomer between the hub and the outer ring.
- Him: Uh . . . exactly.

Item the second: The church up the street has two signs posted in the parking lot.
- Sunday, September 6 - Blessing of the pets.
- Monday, September 7 - Pig roast
(Uncontrollable laughter was heard coming from George Carlin's casket)

Item the third: On the way home today, I saw two signs on a single post.
- Top sign: SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
- Bottom sign: Recycling Center
(What exactly are they recycling. I shudder to think)

Item the fourth: The hiring manager from my location promised to call the hiring manager in Naples and suggest that she get on with it and just hire me. We'll see.

Item the fifth: One of Obama's 32 un-elected czars has resigned. Czar is an odd title for Van Jones, an avowed communist. Didn't the communists overthrow the Czar?

That is all. Have a nice labor day.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Follow up . . .

. . . to the crash.

This is what the driver would have seen as he approached the excavator. It was a bright, clear day. The merge lane is newly and clearly marked.

I can't see how the driver hit this big, yellow/orange piece of equipment.

Seizure? Asleep at the wheel? Who knows. There were no skid marks. He never saw it.

The machine was gone today.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fatal Crash . . .

. . . in our neighborhood.

Mrs. B and I were on the way to Walmart today, northbound on West Neck Road (picture below). The road has been under repair for the last several months, and just opened for traffic on Friday.

Just south of the area in the picture, we saw a police car helping someone who had pulled off the road and sunk to the axles in the fresh mud and sand on the shoulder.

Further north, marked by the red circle, we saw a half-dozen police cars in the road and clustered around a large excavator parked on the shoulder. Since the roadwork was just completed on Friday, I guess the excavator was waiting for pickup.

When we drove by, we saw that a car had crashed into the back of the excavator. The car was so crushed that the large outrigger pads on the back of the machine had penetrated almost to the windshield.

The police had thrown a tarp over the car to cover the windshield and the driver's side window. That's almost always an indication that the crash was fatal and that the police are waiting for the medical crew to extract the body.

That tarp sent chills up my spine - not only because of the fatality, but because Mrs B had gone off the road into a ditch about 100 yards south of this location. The ditch there is almost eight feet deep. The fire department had to use a ladder to get down to her and help her climb out. The car didn't upset, and she wasn't hurt, thank God.

I took this photo a couple of hours later on the way to the grocery store. Notice that there are absolutely no skid marks. The driver never saw it coming.

The excavator didn't move an inch. a 2,500 lbs. car isn't much of a match for a 44,000 lbs. machine. It was obviously the driver's fault, but it seems a bit irresponsible to leave a machine like that parked next to a fairly well-travelled road - especially with no signs, cones or yellow barrels.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mindless wanderings. . .

. . . almost literally

Item the first: So, I'm sitting in the little white chair thinking about answering an email when I leaned back a little to compose my thoughts.

Well, more than a little.

The chair went over backwards, my keyboard went up in the air, and the arc of the back of my skull intersected exactly with the edge of the little green bench.

Prime evidence how a seemingly innocent little action can have serious consequences. Luckily, I either have a hard head - or a little luck, and am no worse for the wear.

Item the second: Mrs. B and I decided to tune up the kitchen a bit, so I took several days over the last two weeks to tile the backsplash over the counters. The tile isn't grouted in these photos, but you get the idea.

Item the third: The naval station in Naples definitely wants to hire me. We're now talking money. Cross your fingers.

Item the fourth: A Steven Wright moment.
A member of my staff: "HQ is sure handing us a lot of crap to do lately."
Me: "Yep, they're making our jobs excrementally harder."

Friday, August 07, 2009

Not very productive . . .

. . . but interesting nonetheless.

Meanwhile, my opportunity in Naples is slowly wandering along. There are some glitches, but I'm still hopeful.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Stellar . . .

. . . Advertising?

A company is proposing to use the Moon as a billboard. Through "shadow shaping" by robots, they would product letters on the Moon that could be viewed for the next billion years or so. All this for a measly $36,000.

That got me to thinking. What types of products could be advertised on the Moon and the other planets? Here's my list. Make sure you read the last one out loud.

The Unification Church on the Moon

Ford autos on Mercury

Cosmetics on Venus

Shoes on Earth

Candy bars on Mars

Musical instruments on Jupiter

GM autos on Saturn

Boats on Neptune

Disney movies on Pluto

Preparation H on Uranus

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Apparently, no one . . .

. . . is dying of curiosity, so here's the deal.

I am applying for a job rotation with the Navy in Naples, Italy.

My mind is currently boggling about all the planning - get the house ready for sale, sell the house, sell a car, store household goods, move household goods, find a place to live, figure out health insurance, drivers' licenses, visas, bank accounts, ad infinitum.

But, I'm a planner by profession, so it's not really that hard.

Anyway, I'm sure someone else has done this, so maybe I can ask.

Besides, I may not get the job.

No guarantees.

Although, I AM the best qualified applicant.

Just ask me.

More later.

Film at eleven.

How did Michael Jackson . . .

. . . have three white kids?

Someone had it in for him, I guess.

Look, it's not all my fault. Brennig made me do it. Yep, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

In memory . . .

. . . of Melissa's father.

High Flight
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor even eagle flew—
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

- by John Gillespie Magee, Jr, 1941

Friday, July 10, 2009

'Scusami, but you see . . .

. . . back in old Napoli . . .

With appropriate apologies to Dean Martin, another interesting opportunity has entered our lives. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not a sure thing, but very possible. Hints abound herein, if you're interested in looking for them.

I'm not sure . . .

. . .this is presidential behavior.

But then, I'm not surprised. Nothing else he does is either. I'm sure he'll apologize for this. He's apologized for just about everything the U.S. has done for the last 100 years.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Bear with me . . .

. . . while I salute my g.g.g.g.g.grandfather.

My 5th great-grandfather, Stephen Wood, was a member of the Montgomery County Maryland Militia.

It took more than a year, but I was able to obtain a veteran's grave marker for him through the U. S. Government Vetrans' Administration. The highlight of that process was explaining to a government clerk that Social Security numbers did not exist in 1735, nor did service numbers (on dog tags) in 1776.

Carrollton Cemetery, Carrollton, IL

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cuisson des beignets . . .

. . . sans pantalon.

Well, I wasn't, of course.

It just looks that way because I'm wearing shorts.

Long shorts - but not as long as the apron.

For fathers' day, Lisa sent me a very nice card and a beignet kit from Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans. I visited Cafe Du Monde the first time with my parents when I was 15 years old. In the six or seven times we've been back since then, Mrs. B and I never fail to stop in at least once.

Think of the lightest, sweetest, tastiest doughnut you've ever had. Beignets are better than that.

If you're ever in New Orleans, do not - repeat, do not - leave without going to the Cafe Du Monde.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The next time I graduate . . .

. . . from ANYTHING

I want this guy to play the march.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Nibbled to death . . .

. . . by ducks.

Every year, we have several nesting pairs of Mallard ducks that wander around the neighborhood looking for handouts.

This year, mama ducky showed up with nine ducklings.

They waddled up on Friday evening, as usual, so I took some bread crumbs outside to feed them.

They have absolutely no fear of humans . . . or me, for that matter. The more I fed, the closer they came.

Closer . . .
. . . and closer . . .

. . . and closer . . .

. . . then the one in the middle nibbled my toe.