Saturday, January 31, 2009

I've been tagged . . .

. . . by Lisa

I was surprised, because pretty much no one reads my blog - so, I figured why not?

Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave acomment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

So, here are my six random things – although, at my age, randomness is pretty much a given.

1. I married my high school sweetheart. Mrs. B and I attended the same schools from the 6th grade forward and hardly knew each other. Then, in the winter of our sophomore year, I noticed her standing on the steps, and asked a friend, “who is THAT?” I asked her to the winter dance, and we’ve been together ever since. Four days ago, we celebrated our 46th anniversary.

2. For some reason, I have an attraction to sewing. I guess it’s the challenge of figuring it out. I made almost all the drapes for our last two homes, a complete U. S. Civil War uniform with all the accoutrements and a bridesmaid dress for one of our daughters-in-law. I was once given a sewing machine as a present. I still suspect ulterior motives on the part of the giver.

3. You could call me an old softie and I wouldn’t complain. It’s especially true when our military is concerned. I get a lump in my throat every time there’s a flyover at a football game, NASCAR race or a memorial ceremony. The last flight of about 20 F-14 Tomcats flying home after their last mission before decommissioning had tears running down my face. I was on a harbor tour boat when the USS Cole was returned to service at Naval Station Norfolk. It was emotional.

4. I’m a car freak. I know it’s irrational, but I grew up in the years just before the musclecar boom. The first car I bought when I got a real job was a 1968 GTO. It’s never stopped. Give me some major parts, a bunch of steel stock, nuts and bolts, the right machinery and adequate time in the garage, and I can build one. I also have the go-fast gene in my DNA – although it’s generally under control on the highway. On the racetrack, my top speed ever was 173 mph. Adrenalin city, that was.

5. Patrick Swayze is a distant cousin, as are Daniel Boone, and the late actor William Holden. Also somewhere in the attic is Sir Leonard Holliday, a founder of the East India Company, and a Lord Mayor of London.

6. I am fully, totally addicted to “The Avengers” – that 1960’s Brit spy/adventure series with Patrick Macnee, Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg and Linda Thorson. I got hooked on it during it’s 1967-69 showing on ABC, and the later repeats on A&E. Since it’s no longer shown on U.S. TV, I have managed to obtain the entire collection – some 161 episodes on about 40 DVDs. I’m working my way through the first season now.

Sorry, but Lisa, Gemmak, Jannie, Punctuation, Dave and Pinkjellybaby . . . you've been tagged.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tunnel vision . . .

. . . or, "Why I sat in traffic for almost an hour today.

We have tunnels here. More tunnels than bridges because of the large amount of military and commercial ship traffic. Tunnels are less of a bother to ships than bridges.

And that's all OK, except people do funny things at tunnels.

Some folks get halfway through and stop. Frozen and unable to continue. Then traffic stops while a tender clears the jam behind them and takes them out.

People slow down at the tunnel's mouth. I guess because the dark entrance looks like a portal to Old Scratch's anteroom.

Trucks too tall for the tunnels drive in and wedge themselves. Nevermind that there are warning signs with the exact clearance for miles before.

Today was a new experience.

As I approached the downtown Norfolk tunnel, all traffic came to a halt. A car in the leftmost lane appeared to have a flat tire. The car was stopped next to a wide apron between the two tunnels. No problem, says I. They can pull it over there and we're on our way.

Wrong. I tend to be logical, but often logic does not govern. The tunnel minders proceeded to bring up a service truck, jack up the car, and change the tire RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FREAKING INTERSTATE.

Two lanes of freeway traffic were held up for almost an hour while the car owner and lots of guys-in-yellow-jumpsuits first had a cabinet meeting to determine strategy, then became shade-tree mechanics while hundreds of not-so-amused drivers sat and watched.

Ron White is correct. You just can't fix stupid.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Is it an inaguration . . .

. . . or a corination?

. . . or an ordination?

. . . or a beatification?

. . . or a canonization?

And will communion be served?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Practice . . .

. . . makes perfect.

Well, not quite perfect. There's more than one hole, and the head shot is a bit off center. But, it'll do for an old guy out of practice.

I haven't done much pistol shooting in the last few years, so I've begun to practice a bit. My hand isn't as steady as it used to be, but for rapid fire at 7-1/2 yards, this target wasn't too bad. That's eight shots in the "X" ring, and one tossed upstairs just for the heck of it.

To our European and U. S. liberal firends . . . sorry, but we do that kind of stuff over here. And, luckily, our armed forces men and women don't need to be shown which end of a weapon is the business end.

Shot with: Custom M1911 Colt . 45 ACP

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dumb luck . . .

. . . or amazing skill.

I'm guessing it's a little of both. According to the news, there has NEVER, repeat NEVER, EVER been a crash like this where everone walked away. 155 out of 155. 100%. Perfect score. Amazing!

Then there was the talking head on Fox news opining that it was easier to land a plane on cold water than on warm water. The cold, according to Mr. Journalism Major Perfect Hairdo, made the water much more dense, allowing the plane to slide rather than grab the water and break up.

Considering that water at 30F is only 0.19% more dense than water at 72F. That's 19-hundreths of a percent, folks. I'm sure that made a lot of difference . . . not!

Stick to journalism, my friend. Science ain't your domain. Really.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Open Mouth . . .

. . . . insert foot.

True story. I checked it on Snopes.

The complaint:
Question of the day for Luke Air Force Base: Whom do we thank for the morning air show? Last Wednesday, at precisely 9:11 A.M, a tight formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall, continuing west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet. Imagine our good fortune! Do the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying to impress the cashiers at Mervyns early bird special? Any response would be appreciated.

Tom MacRae, Peoria

The Squadron commander's response:
Regarding "A wake-up call from Luke's jets" (Letters, Thursday): On June 15, at precisely 9:12 a.m., a perfectly timed four-ship fly by of F-16s from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base flew over the grave of Capt. Jeremy Fresques. Capt. Fresques was an Air Force officer who was previously stationed at Luke Air Force Base and was killed in Iraq on May 30, Memorial Day. At 9 a.m. on June 15, his family and friends gathered at Sunland Memorial Park in Sun City to mourn the loss of a husband, son and friend.

Based on the letter writer's recount of the flyby, and because of the jet noise, I'm sure you didn't hear the 21-gun salute, the playing of taps, or my words to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques as I gave them their son's flag on behalf of the President of the United States and all those veterans and servicemen and women who understand the sacrifices they have endured.

A four-ship fly by is a display of respect the Air Force gives to those who give their lives in defense of freedom. We are professional aviators and take our jobs seriously, and on June 15 what the letter writer witnessed was four officers lining up to pay their ultimate respects. The letter writer asks, 'Whom do we thank for the morning airshow? The 56th Fighter Wing will make the call for you, and forward your thanks to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques, and thank them for you, for it was in their honor that my pilots flew the most honorable formation of their lives.

Lt. Col. Scott Pleus
Luke Air Force Base

Somewhat to his credit Mr. MacRae humbly ate a large portion of crow, and responded. Unfortunately, he just couldn't resist the opportunity to make an excuse or two. If you're going to apologize, just do it. I've heard this several times from military personnel: The net effective range of an excuse is zero meters. I think the lesson here is: do a little checking before you try to be really cute and get published in the local paper. Bottom line: MacRae was trying to be a smartass, and it didn't work out like he thought it would.

Here's MacRae's response:

I read with increasing embarassment and humility the response to my unfortunate letter to The Republic concerning an Air Force flyby.

I had no idea of the significance of the flyby, and would never have insulted such a fine and respectful display had I known.

I have received many calls from the fine airmen who are serving or have served at Luke, and I have attempted to explain my side and apologized for any discomfort my letter has caused.

This was simply an uninformed citizen complaining about noise.

I have been made aware in both written and verbal communications of the four-ship flyby, and my heart goes out to each and every lost serviceman and woman in this war in which we are engaged.

I have been called un-American by an unknown caller and I feel that I must address that. I served in the U.S. Navy and am a Vietnam veteran. I love my country and respect the jobs that the service organizations are doing.

Please acccept my heartfelt apologies.

Tom McRae, Peoria

Nice try, Tom, but your apology was a little lame also.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Traditions . . .

. . . of the sea.

The U. S. Navy's newest aircraft carrier, the George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) was commissioned today at Norfolk Naval Station. It was done in the same tradition as all Navy ships since the Navy was formed. Quite an impressive ceremony, don't you think?

Since I work at the Naval Station, I wanted to be there, but the ceremony was by invitation only.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Weighty matters . . .

. . . or, surviving in the herd.

Mass transit.

I love it, and I hate it.

I love it because it cuts my commuting gasoline costs in half. I hate it because I am not a herd animal. I do not like being in the pack.

I don’t know the bus driver, except he or she shows up at the wheel, and is the Corgi of our herd.

Yesterday, there were only two of us in the cattle car on the bus. That is, until the third stop.

The bus stopped. I swear it tilted to the right as five nearly identical women boarded.

The smallest of the lot was a full axe-handle across the beam, and (charitably) somewhat north of 19 stone. That is rather robust for someone no more than 13 hands high at the withers.

Sitting in the aisle row, I was battered by handbags, backpacks and anatomical parts that I care not to mention in polite company.

I survived.

Until the woman taking the seat in front of me launched herself - and I say launched, because even a modicum of grace was not evident - into the window seat (and about half of the aisle seat, truth be told.)

Do you know how far the seat back on a modern bus can be displaced backwards when sufficient force is applied?

I do.

My kneecap does.

I am not trying to be unkind. I could stand to lose 20 pounds myself. However, regardless of bulk - or lack of it - folks need to be aware of those around them. It's not a ME world.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

I don't know . . .

. . . if talent is made or born.

However, there are two young singers who make a case for the former. Mrs. B and I watched a repeat of "Hit Man: David Foster and Friends" over the holidays. Foster has produced an amazing number of hits, and he had a star-studded guest list for this special.

One of the guests was a young lady named Charise Pempengco from the Philippines who was discovered on You Tube. She's now sixteen, and you WILL NOT believe her voice.

While searching for other videos of Charise on YouTube, I came across Bianca Ryan. Bianca is now fourteen, and came to fame when she won America's Got Talent a month before her TWELVTH birthday.

If these young women don't give you chills, you have a tin ear.