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.