Thursday, July 29, 2010

I suspect . . .

. . . that this will not generate sympathy to the cause.

Obviously, this is an attempted protest against the new Arizona immigration law. Attempted, because the brainiac holding it up thirteen stripes with a Buddhist yung drung in the canton instead of the NAZI swastika he thought he created.

This type of unmitigated ignorance is simply unacceptable, and shows how far from a reason this discussion has moved.

This, and the numbingly inane argument that accompanies this mindset, to wit: "We are, after all, a nation of immigrants."

That we are. However, we are not a nation of illegal immigrants. If you can't comprehend that difference, please exit the discussion. You have nothing constructive to add, and I'm tired of your mindless babble.

As of today, our federal government has effectively blocked the Arizona law on the grounds that it usurps federal authority.

Of course it does. When one cannot or will not do one's job, then someone else must step in. The irony of the federal position is mind-numbing.

What, then is the primary driver? To answer a question with a question or two:

1. Which political party receives the majority of votes frim the hispanic community?

2. Which political party stands to gain the most from this position?

3. Which political party is currently in deep doo?

Well, that was three, but draw your own conclusions. I have drawn mine.

Isn't there a law against pandering?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Yankee . . .

. . . ingenuity

Well, that, Linksys and a 20' cable put me back online. Hook a LINKSYS USB wireless adapter to a 20' USB extension cable and set it on the balcony wall close to the neighbors' house, and one just might access their router.

At least one bar's worth.

I'm not a pirate, mind you. They said it was OK.

Ain't technology wunnerful?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dark side . . .

. . . of the moon

We're moving tomorrow, and have not phone line or internet connection. Since this is Italy, where everything has a priority somewhere in the triple digits, and everyone goes on vacation in August, I don't know when we will be back.

However, we will check email regularly on the WIFI service at the library.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Movin' on out . . .

. . . this weekend!

These photos, along with [these] should give a pretty good idea where we're going. Simple fact - we could never manage to find (or afford) a house like this in the States. Anyhow, it would have too many stairs for us to manage in our dotage, but for now, it will work.

Monday, July 12, 2010

2CH3COOH + CaCO3

-----> Ca(CH3COO)2 + H2O + CO2 *


The water in this part of Campania is very heavy in minerals, particularly calcium. When the lawn sprinklers at the base spray the cars, the water leaves white deposits that are very hard to remove. About the only thing that will work is a dilute solution of 25% white vinegar.

The trick is to dip a dish scrubber in the mixture, scour the windshield and wipe it quickly with paper towels.

The vinegar/water mixture takes the calcium right off. The only problem is that after cleaning the car, I smell like I just finished first in the 100 meter douche.

*For those who remember zip about chemistry:
acetic acid + calcium carbonate --> calcium acetatae + water + carbon dioxide.

(Don't feel bad. I had to look it up)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

LT Dan, what are you doing here . . .

. . . I'm here to try out my sea legs

Sorry. I had to. This is a Naval base after all.

I managed a seat in front, dead center, about 50 feet from the stage. Great view, great sound. However, I violated my cardinal concert rule: "DON'T SIT NEAR AN AISLE!" Especially when it's a kid-friendly concert. It was a minor irritation, though.

To anyone who thinks this is just a pick-up band with minor talent, just put together to satisfy some celebrity's ego trip, there's an exit in the rear. Please take it. Posthaste!

The only members of the band who have any degree of fame are Gary Sinese and Kimo Williams. However, this concert proved to me that there are big talents who don't make the big bucks.

They played everything from Purple Haze to Tuxedo Junction. When is the last time you heard those one after another in the same concert?

Random photos below. No captions, because it's a pain in the ass on Blogger.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Lt. Dan . . .

. . . I got you some ice cream.

Gary Sinese and his band put on a terrific show. They played for 2-1/2 hours, and Sinese only left the stage once - to take a walk through the crowd.

Just because he's an actor, don't believe this is all for the publicity. He truly cares about the troops, and he can really rock that bass.

Here's a brief clip.

video

Oh, and a couple of guys did walk up to the stage with ice cream. I suspect that wasn't the first time, but it still got a big smile from Gary.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Gary Sinese . . .

. . . and the Lt. Dan Band

I like these guys. Sinese has been doing this for years, and he raises the money for paying and transporting the band. They're good journeyman musicians, but more importantly, they provide very welcome and much needed entertainment to our troops all over the world.

News flash: they're putting on a free concert just a couple of blocks from our quarters on 10 JUL.



Lieutenant Dan: Have you found Jesus yet, Gump?
Forrest Gump: I didn't know I was supposed to be looking for him, sir.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Muslims . . .

. . . in space


In an interview with Al Jazeera, the new NASA Administrator, said that strengthening ties with the Muslim world was his "foremost" mission.

Barry O tasked Charles Bolden with:
- inspiring children to want to get into science and math,
- expanding our international relationships, and,
- foremost, to reach out and engage with Muslim nations to help them feel good about their contribution to science.

That may be the most inane example of bureaucratic babble I have heard since the Community-organizer-in-chief was elected. It is also a radical departure from what has been NASA's historical raison d'etre.

Mission Statement: To improve life here, to extend life to there, to find life beyond.

The Mission: to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.

The Vision: To explore the Universe and search for life, and to inspire the next generation of explorers... as only NASA can.

That sounds - not so coincidentally - like this more popular mission:

. . . to explore strange, new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before."

As well it should.

That said, when is this ersatz professor going to realize that not every problem is solved by force of rhetoric, that he cannot make everyone like us, and that not every program is a mechanism of social engineering?

The good news is that his approval ratio (strongly approve to strongly disapprove) is now 43 to 26. Maybe he will be Carter redux, and we will be done with him in two years.

One can only hope.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Monte Cassino Abbey . . .

. . . Peace and war

PAX

In Dialogues, Pope Gregory I documented miracles, healings and other signs, and has some commentary on St. Benedict and St. Scholastica.

In Book II, 34.1, Gregory briefly writes of the last few days of St. Scholastica's life:

While praying in his tower cell and looking out the small window three days after Scholastica has left, Benedict "raised his eyes to the skies and saw the soul of his sister leaving her body and penetrating the secret places of heaven under the form of a dove"

I took this photo of a small window above the Cloister of Bramante. Immediately after I snapped the photo, the dove took to wing, and disappeared into the heavens. Having read the story before our visit, I found the experience to be very moving.


BELLUM

During the Allies' 1944 push through the Liri Valley towards Rome, they were stymied by the Gustav Line. Because of its prominent position on the peak, the Allied commander, General Sir Harold Alexander, was convinced that the Abbey was being used as an observation post for German artillery.

Alexander was unaware (or, to be more charitable, did not believe) that Field Marshall Albert Kesselring had ordered the German troops NOT to use the Abbey for strategic purposes. In February 1944, U.S. General Mark Clark, on orders from Alexander, ordered a devastating raid on the Abbey. It was reduced to a smoking heap of rubble.

Fortunately, two months earlier, Lt.Col. Julius Schlegel and Capt. Maximilian Becker recognized the historical value of the Abbey's extensive collections, and had them removed to the Vatican. This was apparently done on Schlegel's own volition, without clearance or orders from his command.

Many historians now believe that the Germans did not occupy the Abbey before the bombing, and judge the Allies very harshly for their action. Perhaps that is true. However, the Germans DID build heavily fortified emplacements and observation posts near the Abbey walls and all across the mountain. Was their purpose in doing this to protect the Abbey - or to take advantage of the Allies' reluctance to attack a target of such historic importance? That is a question I am not qualified to answer.

Monte Cassino today.


Monte Cassino - February 1944

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Road trip . . .

. . . to Monte Cassino Abbey

We have been so busy trying to get organized and move to permanent quarters that we haven't taken much time to travel. We were scheduled for a trip to the Vatican three weeks ago, but too many people backed out, and the tour was cancelled.

On 04 JUL, we decided to visit the Abbey at Monte Cassino - the location of one of the fiercest (and most misguided) battles of WWII. I had read Ed Smith's "The Battles for Cassino" years ago, and decided that the Abbey would be near the top of our must-visit list.

The Abbey, founded by St. Benedict of Nursia in 529, is only about 70 km from our quarters, just a few km off the Autostrada del Sole (The A1). The drive is tricky, because the Abbey is 520 m (1706.04 ft) above sea level. The road is well-maintained and fairly wide, so the "pucker factor" is minimal. But, there are 6% grades, seven 180 degree switchbacks and VERY low stone walls along some of the cliffs. Toss in another bit of misdirection by Garmin, though, and it is a bit of an adventure - and some "white knuckle" time for Mrs. B.

If you fancy a view from the road, Google coordinates 41.486825, 13.814074 and invoke the street view.

We were simply amazed by the construction. It looks as if it has been here for a thousand years. In fact, the Abbey was almost totally destroyed in 1944, and was totally reconstructed according to the original plans. It was rededicated by Pope Paul VI in 1964. With all of it's ancient, classical look, it's less than 60 years old.


We drove from here . . . to THERE!


One of the least scary parts of the drive.


Entrance to the Abbey. The inscription is "PAX" or peace. It's an appropriate wish, because the Abbey was destroyed in 577 by the Lombards, in 883 by the Saracens, in 1349 by an earthquake, and in 1944 by the Allied armies.


The entrance cloister and the statue of St. Benedict.


The Cloister of Bramante and the steps to the Basilica.


The Cloister of Bramante from the Basilica steps.


The Benefactors' Cloister with statues of the Popes and Kings who supported the Abbey, and the entrance to the Basilica Cathedral .


The altar.


The Cathedra at the left of the main altar.


The reliquary of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica.
Scholastica was St. Benedict's twin sister.


The Liri River valley to the west of the abbey.


Grape arbors to the southwest of the abbey.


Touristi.
(Being blessed by St. Benedict)

No comment required . . .

. . . but I wish a larger share of our population shared this little one's enthusiasm.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Hypocracy depends . . .

. . . on your political party.

Bill Clinton on Senator Robert Byrd:
"He once had a fleeting association with the Ku Klux Klan, what does that mean? I'll tell you what it means. He was a country boy from the hills and hollows from West Virginia. He was trying to get elected,"
None of the mainstream media will give two hoots about this comment, and yet they were all up in arms about similar comments Trent Lott made about Senator Strom Thurmond.

Of course, none of this holds a candle to the machinations of our Hypocrite-in-chief.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Minor Bitch . . .


. . . No, not Lindsay Lohan.

Automatic: largely or wholly involuntary, acting or done spontaneously or unconsciously, done or produced as if by machine.

Our car has Bluetooth. So do our cell phones. When we turn on the ignition, the phone automatically connects to the car's sound system so we can dial and talk hands-free, using only voice commands. It's so Captain Kirk.

Almost.

When I turn on the ignition, my cell beeps. And beeps. And beeps. When I dig it out of the pouch, there is text on the screen that says: "Automatically connect to Sync?"

Bulletin to the dolts who develop the software for Samsung:

IF YOU HAVE TO ASK, IT ISN'T AUTOMATIC