Friday, August 29, 2008
I've always thought drunk driving was about as stupid a thing as you could do. Driving under the influence of anything is not a mistake, it's an overt effort to take a large piece of metal, glass, and plastic and run it at high speeds under less than optimal control on the same roads that my family and friends are on.
I lost two friends to drunk driving when I was in language school in Monterey. They had been down at the beach in Carmel partying on a Saturday, and when the party broke up they decided to try to get back to the Presidio rather than just crashing on the beach. One drunk was driving, two drunks were passed out in the back seat. The moron who was driving missed a turn on highway 68, and ended up rolling over down a hill until a tree stopped the car. The two in the back were ejected and died on the scene.
The driver ended up with a court martial. My two friends, Jenny and Greg, ended up with a flag folded for their mothers and a headstone. Greg and I had gone through basic training together, and he and Jenny started dating when they were taking Arabic in the same class.
Please, if you're out this weekend, have someone sober to drive you. I need every friend I have, and I can't stand the thought of losing anyone.
Check out this link for another good read on drunk driving:
Have a good and safe Labor Day weekend.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
- Ma'am, I'm not out to kill you. I don't mind slowing down a bit to let you on, which I tried to communicate by waving you over and flashing my lights. However, having to slam on my brakes because you pulled halfway into my lane and stopped with your blinker on when there was a semi in the lane next to me made it hard to have good Christian thoughts.
To the asshat in the semi who saw the little old lady trying to merge and me trying to let her on:
- Was it too much to ask for you to slow down or speed up a bit so that I could get over to the left and let said grandmother on without killing her, myself, or the people behind me in traffic?
To the school bus full of middle schoolers who were flipping off all of the cars that passed them this morning:
- I have a great memory for faces, and eventually one of you little swine will be coming to me for a job interview.
To the bus driver of said school bus:
- You have my deepest sympathy.
The modern Olympics were meant as a place for amateur athletes to come together in the spirit of international brotherhood and cooperation.
The current Olympics have devolved into nationalistic strutting and bad faith competition. Cheating of all stripes is routinely uncovered. Every athlete has to be cleared not only for steroids, but can be forced to prove they're claiming the correct sex! Governments use their Olympic teams as political pawns. And where Jim Thorpe had his medals stripped because he had been employed at some point as a baseball player, now professional athletes are feted as gods at the Olympics.
And the choice of where the Olympics are held is a joke. The People's Republic of China is a closed, regimented, oppressive, communist tyranny. Why would an event that's supposed to celebrate humanity at its best be held in a place where humanity is cheap and easily discarded? I'll tell you why: Money. The IOC has been exposed time and time again in bribery and corruption when it comes to site selection. If you can show that you have a great place to hold the Olympics, can demonstrate that your infrastructure can handle the load of hundreds of thousands of athletes and spectators, but don't take the IOC members around in limos and make sure their children go to local universities for free, you don't have a chance.
The US government doesn't directly support the USOC, but most governments support their local Olympic committees. China has reportedly set up athlete factories where children are put in training at a ridiculously early age to be molded into Olympians. Even in the US, military personnel are allowed to leave their posts to train for and participate in the Olympics. Your tax dollars at work.
My final take: The US should pull out of the Olympics unless some new rules are put in and enforced. IOC members should be completely unpaid, and should have to pay their own way to go on tours of prospective venues. Olympic meets should only be held in democracies that can be certified by Amnesty International as meeting minimum standards of freedom and openness. And professional athletes should be banned from the games. The 10 months of the NBA is too much Kobe as it is, I don't want to see more of him during the off season.
What's your take?
Sunday, August 24, 2008
So Baby Bear and I had the entire day together!
We played, talked, read, and gibbered at teach other for hours.
Baby Bear likes to dance to "Cat Scratch Fever", and enjoys playing Super Baby in the front yard.
He also enjoys watching football games with his dad, and falling asleep during the commercials.
Seriously, we had a great time. I know this is my last chance to be daddy to a baby, so I'm making the most of it.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Overall, I'm in pretty good health. I've dropped 8 pounds since the last time I went in, and my blood pressure is good. My cholesterol and glycerides are a tad high, but she says that my medication may be the cause of that.
Of course, my diet isn't always the best, so an adjustment to that might help.
We discussed adjusting my medication a bit, and then I got a bill of good health.
Overall, I feel OK, but not great. The soreness in the joints is a bit rough sometimes. I take some over the counter pain meds every morning, but it takes an hour or so for it to kick in. The 1/2 mile walk from the car to the desk is done pretty much clean, and sometimes I'm limping by the time I get to the computer.
Not that I'm complaining. There are people I work with who use a cane, or are on crutches because of injuries. One of my co-workers just returned from a successful fight with cancer, and she's still weak as a kitten. But she still makes the trudge in from the parking lot. I can't complain because because my joints are sore.
Tradeoffs, and I think I got a good deal on this one.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
OK, it's a cheezy title, but I've been thinking about the conflict between Russia and Georgia a lot lately.
Basically, the Caucasus is a mess created by centuries of migrations, both voluntary and otherwise, and Russification of the people in the area.
When Georgia split from the Soviet Union, it unfortunately also got clumped in with the areas of south Ossetia and Abkhazia. These two areas didn't think being part of Georgia was such a hot idea, so they've been a thorn in the side of Georgian leaders since day one. Russia has been supporting the separatist movements in one way or another since the early 1990's.
Russia hasn't been entirely happy with losing Georgia and especially hated the fact that the Georgian leadership wants to align itself with NATO and the west. Georgia was a prize in the Russia/Soviet crown for a long time. It's a crossroads in the Trans-Caucasus. In the past, it's sat on several trade routes between the Far East and Europe. Now, it's a great place to put an oil pipeline.
The pipeline has been an extremely sharp pain for Russia. Russia makes a lot of money from petroleum and natural gas, especially when it's sold to Europe. It also gives it a lot of clout with the EU and other nations. Russia has played games with supplies of oil and gas to Ukraine when Kiev hasn't toed the line for Russia. There's not much to keep them from doing the same thing to Poland, Germany, and France. When people can get petroleum from the Georgian pipeline, they can to some extent ignore Russian displeasure.
So Georgia is a bother to Russia. Georgia has become an ally of the United States and has asked to enter NATO. We've been sending aid to Georgia for several years, and their military has gotten training from us and other allies.
Russia has warned Georgia several times to stay hands off militarily in South Ossetia. Maybe Russia wanted the situation to be settled peacefully, or maybe they didn't want their proxy/client to be crushed.
Georgia started feeling froggy a few weeks ago and decided to take a poke at the South Ossetian separatists. Russia reacted and reacted but good.
Basically, Russia sent in enough tanks, artillery, missiles, and infantry to totally overwhelm the Georgians. No matter how well supplied and trained they might have been, the Georgians were overrun in a few days. The Russians stopped by choice, not because they were forced to by a Georgian defense.
Not to say that the Georgians didn't put up a good fight. Apparently their anti-tank teams were really effective against the Russian armor, and they knocked down several Russian aircraft.
So today the situation is that Russian troops are occupying about half of Georgia, with a vague promise to withdraw from Russian president Medvedev. The West is demanding that Russia get out of Georgia immediately, but I won't hold my breath.
Here's my take on this whole sad situation:
- Noone should be surprised that Russia went after Georgia. Putin and Medvedev have been making lots of noise about re-establishing some semblence of the old Soviet empire for years. Georgia was just the first public example of the new imperial ambition.
- While Georgia put up a good fight, some strategic mistakes were made. Georgia is a very mountainous region. Bridges, tunnels, and roads should have been destroyed every chance they got. This would have slowed down the Russians quite a bit, and funneled their forces into areas where Georgian forces could have fought them with some level of equality.
- The West should punish Russia severely for this incident. Ideas? How about not selling them food this year? How about not buying oil from them for a while? Maybe not giving the Russian navy port priveleges anywhere in Western Europe, Japan, Korea, North America, or Australia? Telling Aeroflot they can't fly in these areas? And last but not least, get Russia the heck out of the Group of 8 and make it the Group of 7 again?
- Georgia should be welcomed with open arms into NATO. NATO troops from countries that benefit from the pipelines should be stationed there, even if they're only trainers and logistics troops. Sure, they're a tripwire, but it might be enough of a deterrent to Medvedev.
- The reaction to the war was pretty uneven in the US. Most people barely noticed the headlines or reports on TV. Michael Phelps got more ink than the invasion of a sovereign country by its large neighbor. The political candidates of course commented, and McCain came out as strong and Obama wanted to get everyone together for a group hug and smores.
For the future, I see the Russians slowly withdrawing out of most of Georgia, but staying in South Ossetia. I wouldn't be surprised if some land in Georgia proper was kept in order to keep Russian missiles and artillery in close proximity to critical infrastructure such as ports, pipelines, and airports. Georgia will hopefully re-build her military with effective equipment and train them to fight a much bigger foe and inflict maximum damage. The Georgian Navy and Air Force will need complete re-building, as well as their armored forces. We will hopefully support them and provide as much aid as Georgia can accept.
Friday, August 15, 2008
I love going out to Fort Knox to hunt because it's some of the prettiest land in the area. The areas we've been assigned to are basically woods and hills that haven't been disturbed in any meaningful manner since the 1940's. We're talking oaks as tall as 5 story building, gently rolling hills, and clear cold streams.
So far, I haven't gotten a deer out there. I know they're in the area, because we see their bedding down areas and tracks, but no luck so far. Lots of other critters show their faces. We've encountered foxes, a coyote or two, and squirrels the size of small dogs.
Mostly, I go out to get away from the noise. It's always perfectly quiet in our area. No traffic, no phones, nothing.
So, here's hoping we get drawn for the hunt. We normally get drawn to go in late November or early December, so it's kinda frosty.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
You see, I have what most people would consider an unconventional family. When Irish Woman and I described it to our pastor, he called it "biblical", because noone in the Bible had 2.5 children and a nuclear family.
I'm married to the Irish woman, but she's not my first wife.
I got married to Junior Bear's mother when I was young and foolish. We stuck it out for a few years, but it didn't work. I did however, get a great son and a taste for Asian food out of that.
I married Little Bear and Girlie Bear's mom when I was getting over Junior Bear's mother. Here's a hint: Never get married on the rebound.
That being said, I don't regret marrying either of these two women because they gave me three wonderful children.
Little Bear was in utero when I met his mom, but I've raised him as a son since he was born, and he is my son in every way except biology. I never asked about how he was made, and when he found out about the situation, it didn't change a thing between us.
I don't differentiate at all between the kids as to who comes from whom, or who's related to who in which way. We're all family, they're all my sons and daughter, and they're all brothers and sisters. For the most part, the kids don't make any distinctions either way.
Of course, the ex-wives love their children. But the Irish Woman loves the whole brood.
I am the oldest of 5 brothers and sisters. I'm only in contact with one of my brothers at the moment.
My mother gave me an ultimatum over the first wife, either she goes or the rest of the family goes. I stuck with my wife and child, for good or bad.
When my mother died, I got back in touch with my brothers and sisters, but made it very clear that I wasn't interested in a continuing role in the family drama. Unfortunately, my two sisters and one of my brothers chose for some reason to not accept that. So, I keep my distance, but I'm not hiding. It's not hard to get in touch with me if you want to, and the rules for being a part of my life are pretty clear: play nice, or take your ball and go home.
Moving beyond all of that, I have a really large extended family made up of people who have touched my life throughout the years.
My oldest friend is as close to me as my brother, and she keeps me honest by dancing around and pointing out hypocracy or muddled thinking.
I have brothers and sisters around the world from my time in the military, and although we don't talk all that often sometimes, they're always in my thoughts and prayers.
My kids, wife, and I have been adopted by several other families as one of their own, and we have a great time with them at every step.
There's the Hoosiers, of course. Hoosier Mom and Dad adopted the Irish Woman when she was a teenager, and have always been there for her. I met them and their family at the yearly Hoosier Roundup, and Little Bear and Girlie Bear were calling them Grandma and Grandpa by the end of the first day. The rest of the Hoosiers are the big, noisy, loving family that I remember from my family in North Dakota when I was very young, and they just threw us into the mix with the rest of the kids and their kids. Everyone is Aunt that or Uncle this.
We also have another set of adopted grandparents that the kids call Mammaw and Papaw. They are the parents of Little Bear and Girlie Bear's godmother, and they consider us as much family as we consider them.
So, the point of this rambling is:
- No relationship, including blood, is worth your sanity. If they can't treat you right, they don't deserve the privelege of being a part of your life.
- Genetics doesn't make a family. I love Little Bear no matter who his biological father is. I'm his dad. Hoosier Mom and Dad have loved and cared for Irish Woman for decades, and didn't bat an eye when we asked Hoosier Dad to walk her down the aisle.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Did the normal weekend house cleaning while Irish Woman did the lawn and worked on the smaller pond again. The leak she patched was apparently not the only one, so she decided to put down another entire liner.
Sunday was spent doing more house work and going to the movies. Girlie Bear was with her mom this weekend, and I retrieved her last night only to find that she had a bruised/squashed toe on her foot. I splinted it against her big toe last night, and we'll be going to the doctor this afternoon to find out how bad it really is. I suspect it's just a bad bruising, but want to be sure nothing's actually broken.
I got broadheads for hunting the other week, so I think I might try them out tonight or tomorrow night. Got to get zeroed in with them. Only 3 weeks to bowhunting season!
And of course, I watched my fair share of football.
If you've not seen the movie, there are a couple of spoilers in the following!!!!
I was really proud of Junior Bear to pick up on how the director spent the entire moving contrasting Harvey Dent with Batman. He specifically commented how in the beginning of the movie, Dent took the fall for Batman, and in the end, Batman took the fall to protect Dent's reputation. Dent was continually depicted as a "white knight" and Batman as the "dark knight".
Overall, I'd recommend this movie to any adult, but leave the young kids at home. Junior Bear is 16, and that's about as young as someone can be and still understand how the violence is part of the plot, and not just revel in the violence for its own sake.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Apparently not everyone follows the same advice.
A convoy of tourists in southern Utah were trying to get to the Grand Canyon using the back roads. By back roads, I mean the semi-paved goat trails that criss cross that area. It's not a place where I would travel without a lot of extra food and water if I was camping with my buddies, much less with children along.
Apparently some fool had a GPS, noone had a good map or compass, and they drove aimlessly out in the desert for hours, with children, in vehicles that couldn't handle the terrain properly.
Thankfully someone saw the cliff before they drove over it.
A GPS is only good at telling you where you are, and possibly what direction you are moving in. The maps on the best commercial GPS are outdated and not very detailed. The route they choose from point A to point B is usually not the best route to take. Abd they don't take into account weather or light conditions.
Only a fool blindly follows a GPS in terrain he's not familiar with. If you follow the directions on a GPS without taking into account road conditions, weather, and your vehicles' ability to actually get over the terrain, you are surrendering that precious 10 percent to a very dumb machine.
Okay people, here's the deal:
You don't drive through the open desert or any other wild terrain in vehicles that can't handle the worst possible terrain and can't get themselves out of being stuck.
You always bring along enough food and water to keep everyone alive for at least a couple of days.
You don't go trekking over the back country with small children and babies. If you've got kids with you, you stick to well-marked, driveable roads, preferably ones made of concrete or blacktop.
And finally, you always have maps of the area you're in, mark your route on them, and have a compass with you so you can figure out where the heck you are if you get lost
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
I have a fix:
- Hand this waste of protein a shovel and put him to work digging his own grave. Have him guarded by the meanest set of guards known to man armed with tasers and shotguns. Give them a couple of guard dogs just for the newspaper pictures too. Bonus points if they all have buzz-cuts, wear Smokey-the-Bear hats and mirrored sunglasses.
- Feed him on bread and water with one vitamin pill a day. Can't let his nutrition suffer. He gets all the hardtack and well water he can eat and drink.
- Work him from sun-up to sun-down, with one meal break during the day. Work him 6 days a week. Let him have Sunday to sit and think about what he's done and try to make amends with his Maker. No exceptions for illness, holidays, or weather.
- When the grave is dug, make him fill it in, move 6 feet to the right, and start digging again.
- Every Saturday evening, have a doctor examine him and assess the state of his weight and the viability of his veins.
- Once he's lost enough weight to make it easy to find a vein, give him triple the dose of the chemical that his medication supposedly interferes with and execute the bastard.
Let me be clear, I don't support the death penalty for most crimes. I have problems with how the sentence is arrived at in our court system. I don't believe that it's given out in a fair fashion, and that too many people who have had the death penalty sentence have been exonerated for me to support an irrevocable punishment.
However, don't go to jail, gain a truckload of weight, and then try to weasel your way out due to the size of your ass.
No slack for murdering rapists with a 10 twinkie a day habit.
I've been a fan of Mr. Freeman since I was eating Cheerios and watching the Electric Company in grade school. I've enjoyed just about every movie he's been in during his career.
I'm guessing last night in the hospital was the longest night of his life.
Prayers and best wishes go out to Mr. Freeman and his family.
Good for him.
I've always maintained that if you own land, if you're not causing actual harm to the neighbors, then you should be able to do what you want with your land. By harm, I mean that you are destroying or damaging something physical on the neighbors land or are endangering the living things that inhabit the neighbors land.
That's why I will never live in a subdivision that requires a covenant. If I want to paint my house purple with paisley shutters, then I will. If I want to park an old car under my tree so that I can work on it, I will. I don't need some neo-fascist homeowners association telling me what to do on property that I've worked hard to buy and use.
This situation reminds me of a local situation that happened a few years ago. Apparently the owner of a large farm near Louisville wanted to develop his land into a large subdivision, take the money he made, and retire. His neighbors didn't think that was such a great idea, so they fought him on re-zoning the land and won. So, in a fit of pique, he fenced off a few acres of his land near the main road and his nearest neighbor and put goats and pigs inside the fence. As expected, the smell was kind of bad if you didn't grow up on a farm. It was bad enough that the neighbors complained to the authorities and the local news stations, but since it was zoned for farmland, they couldn't do anything.
Over time, the situation has died down, and luckily for the farmer, he didn't try to start a development a couple of years before the market dropped out. He still keeps a few pigs and goats on the land, and allows construction companies to park their equipment next to the hogpen. The neighbors still don't have a development next to their small farms/country homes, but I'm not sure that soccer moms in minivans are worse than sows with piglets in the next yard over.
So, I'll stay living in the few neighborhoods that don't require a contract to live in them, or will be moving out to the country myself. And if my neighbor wants to run an actual farm on his land, so much the better. I'll be the neighbor with a large house in the center of my property and clear fields of fire out to the main road.
Now, get off'n the property!
Monday, August 4, 2008
Let's get something clear here:
The strategic petroleum reserve was created so that there would be oil for our military and necessary services in the event that there was no oil on on the market for them. Causes could be a natural disaster, a war, or another embargo.
It is not there to artifically bring down the price of a commodity in the open market when there is no actual shortage of oil on our market.
It is not there to make voters feel better about politicians of either party.
It is not there to be used as a political tool by anyone.
Using the reserve would only add a little oil to the current market. If Obama thinks that tapping this reserve will drop gas prices dramatically, then he's stupid. And we'll find out just how stupid he is when Iran shuts down the Strait of Hormuz or Chavez tries to show his manhood for his domestic audience by shutting off the taps. In those and other situations, we'll run out of oil on the open market pretty quickly, and what's there will be very expensive. If we've tapped the strategic petroleum reserve, then we're hosed. No fuel for defense. No fuel for ambulances, trains, or police cars. No emergency reserve of heating oil for the Great White North.
The only thing that's going to bring down the price of gas in either the short term or long term is to cut demand. Supply side economics won't work in the short term, and by the time the long term comes around, our economy will be in a wreck. Demand is falling as our economy cools, and the price of oil on the market has fallen over $20 over the past few weeks.
What we need to do is figure out how to cut demand over the long run while new sources of petroleum and new forms of energy come on-line. What that means is open to debate. Personally, I'm not against a national speed limit that's actually enforced. Tax breaks for consumers who purchase an efficient car and spend money on their home to make it more energy efficient might do in the short term.
He actually turned 16 last week, but was in California with his mom. We celebrated last night.
Girlie Bear had gotten him a tee shirt with his school logo on it.
His other small gifts from all of us included some books and a couple of bad attitude tee shirts from thinkgeek.
His big present was a full sized guitar for him to learn to play on. He wanted to learn to play, and has been using a smaller guitar we got for Girlie Bear a couple of Christmas's ago. He also got a teach-yourself-guitar DVD and songbook. Hopefully he'll be able to channel his music into this.
Curiously, Baby Bear was for the most part still the smiling happy baby that he always is. I do hope that stays as the normal situation with him.
He's doing better, and is still the apple of his mom's eye.