Monday, May 25, 2009

Off the net for a few days

I'll be off the net for the next few days. I'm having minor surgery tomorrow morning, and I can't promise I'll feel like posting while I relax under the influence of pain killers.

Have a good week, and I'll see you later.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Not the wildest thing I've ever seen in a kevlar helmet

but it's close.

A young soldier in Afghanistan responded to a Taliban attack while he was out of uniform by pulling on his kevlar and vest, then running to his fighting position to return fire.

Of course, there was a reporter nearby, and the photo he snapped has circled the globe pretty quickly.

I say bravo. When you hear the stand to, you don't stop to pull on your pants, you grab what you need and lean forward in your foxhole.

The wildest thing I ever saw in kevlar was a young nurse who responded to an emergency medivac flight coming into her hospital wearing her helmet and silk pajamas. Now that's a memory of the military I don't want to lose.

What did she know, and when did she know it?

Well, Nancy Pelosi, AKA The Joker, has officially accused the CIA of misleading her when they briefed her about interrogation techniques. She is refusing to discuss it with the American people via the press, and will only give statements re-asserting her accusation, but will not answer questions about the matter.

The CIA denies this, and asserts that the Congresswoman from Babylon on the Bay was told about these techniques and how they were being used.

Obviously, someone is being less than truthful.

I have given this some thought as it has played out in the press, but I couldn't articulate it very well.

Then I listened to the latest episode of Dan Carlin's excellent Common Sense podcast this morning.

Mr. Carlin definitely gelled my feelings on this issue, and I agree with him that an independent investigation needs to happen.

If the CIA lied to the Speaker, then someone needs to go to jail. If Mrs. Pelosi is lying now, then that needs to come out in the open, and her career needs to be impacted by her actions.

Memorial Day

Well, Memorial Day has come again. I encourage everyone to take a little time this weekend to remember the people in their lives who have served and passed on. For those of you in Louisville, I suggest the ceremonies at Zachary Taylor Cemetary or at the Patton Museum at Fort Knox.

Over the years, I've known several veterans who've passed on. I've lost 5 good friends to either military accidents or combat. And I've served in a lot of units with an institutional memory of loss.

Blackfive has an excellent slideshow of "motivators" that will get you thinking about this day.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Joined the Legion

Well, today I took the plunge and joined the American Legion. It's been a few years since I left the military, and I've considered it several times, but never got around to it.

I guess my motivation for doing it now was the time that Girlie Bear and I spent in Washington last weekend. While we were touring Arlington, it occurred to me that a lot of the privileges I enjoy as a veteran are due to organizations like the Legion. Also, I read an article recently about how hard it is becoming to find honor guards for veterans and troops who have died in the war in some areas. Being in the Legion will let me participate in a good civic organization, and let me give back to those who came both before and after me.

When I was growing up, almost everyone's dad and grandfather belonged to either the American Legion, or the VFW, or both. So I guess I'm following a family tradition.

My heart bleeds

Apparently, Members of Parliament in the UK have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar. They've been billing the UK government for personal expenses such as home repairs and porno.

Now, some of them believe that the stress of the scandal is driving them to suicide.

Cry me a river.

If you can't deal with the stress of the publicity, don't do the dishonorable behavior. I don't advocate suicide under any circumstance. I'd rather that politicians who've stolen money from their constituents suffer public humiliation and finish their careers out cleaning porta-potties.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I swear it wasn't me

OK, I was at the National Archives this week, and I did hang around for while looking at the exhibits, but I didn't steal a hard drive.


Now, if you excuse me, I'm off to buy an outboard disk enclosure.

Random Washington DC thoughts

If your child is going on a trip that has at least one overnight, someone needs to go with him or her. It's not fair to the child or the parents who go along to give up your responsibilities for a weekend. One poor girl burned through the spending money her mom had given her when she dropped her off at the airport, and the other parents chipped in to make sure the poor thing ate on Monday.

If you do go on a trip with your kids, then please act like a parent. I had to correct a lot of kids who acted inappropriately over the weekend. Not the kids who got loud in the park. I mean the kids who tried to climb up on the lap of President Roosevelt's statue in his memorial for a cute picture. Or the boys who thought it would be fun to stare at and take flash pictures of the homeless people sleeping on a grate near Union Station. If you don't like me correcting your kid, then you act like a parent.

When you're on a mass trip like we just did, teach your kids to be polite. We were moving through crowds at the various museums and memorials, and I was never prouder of Girlie Bear than when she kept excusing herself and making way for other people. A lot of the kids acted like they were the only ones using the stairs, escalators, elevators, and sidewalks.

Don't let your child take a Gameboy or whatever when you're out and about at the sites. One kid had his parents spend hundreds of dollars for him and his mother to go to Washington, and never stopped playing his Nintendo DS, including during the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns and at the Kennedy gravesite in Arlington Cemetary. Something tells me this trip isn't going to go into his autobiography.

On a more positive note, I owe a lot to Girlie Bear's teachers for all of the work they did to put the trip together and make it happen on the ground. Good teachers deserve a heck of a lot more money and respect for what they do.

A shout out to the nice young lady who was riding in the car we got on at the Metro Center subway station on Saturday. That pole dance you were doing at the front of the car was quite entertaining. While I'm sure your boyfriend liked it, I had a heck of a time getting myself and other dad between you and the kids so we wouldn't have to explain what you were doing.

Another shout out to anyone who flew on Southwest between Baltimore and Louisville on Friday and Monday. I'm so very sorry. I know it was only an hour or so in the air, but it was probably the longest hour of your week.

Same shout out to the people who rode the Blue or Yellow lines in the Washington DC metro this weekend. We tried to keep the kids down to a dull roar, but we know our large, noisy, and energetic group disturbed you.

When visiting our nation's capital, please remember that security is up. Don't get snitty with the security guard at the museum when she wants you to open your bag for her. It's not personal, it's her job.

Every 16 year old boy and girl should be forced to accompany and participate in a 5th grade class trip. It would be the best birth control known to man.

Washington DC Day 2 and 3

Sorry I didn't get this out sooner. I was just plumb exhausted on Sunday night, and it's been crazy since Monday morning.

Sunday we went to the American History museum, and it was awesome. Girlie Bear and her friends really enjoyed going through the military history display. We were in there for almost 2 hours. They also spent a lot of time in the Abraham Lincoln exhibit. Of course we went to see the original Star Spangled Banner. The Smithsonian just finished a renovation of both the museum and the flag, and both were worth the expense and time. The museum was able to grab and hold the attention of 10 year old girls for hours on end, and we could have spent all weekend at that museum alone.

We went to the National Archives on Sunday afternoon to see the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. That was the one thing that Girlie Bear insisted that she had to do while we were in Washington. The security there was the tightest we had to go through, including the airport.

Sunday evening, the teachers took all of the kids to the ESPN Zone restaurant for a few hours to give the parents a break. Bless them. I've said it before: They aren't paid enough to put up with those animals. I had plans to stroll down to a book store to get something for the flight home, but I passed out for 3 hours on my bed until it was time to retrieve Girlie Bear. Apparently a fun time was had by all.

Monday was our last day. We spent the morning and part of the afternoon at the Air and Space museum. Again, it was wonderful. The kids really enjoyed all of the interactive displays, and I got an appreciation for early aviation that I didn't have before. They even had a display of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, which took me back to my days at Fort Huachuca.

Our flight back was pretty uneventful. We got back to Louisville at about 9 PM on Monday, and were home and in bed by 10. I haven't slept that soundly in a long time.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Washingtton DC Day 2

Well made it through day2. In the mornng we went to Arlington. Amazingly the children were very well behaved. We got to see the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknowns.

After that we went to the natural history museum. That was nice because I was able to sit down in the main area and send Girlie Bear off to see different exhibits. There is some benefit to your daughter getting older.

Today is the air and space museum.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Washington DC - Day 1

Well, I'm in DC for a few days with Girlie Bear. We're taking part in a class trip. The experience so far reminds me of the opening scenes of the Muppet Movie, where the cast tears up the theater. We went on a tour of all the memorials this evening. It's always good to see them every once in a while. I saw the FDR memorial for the first time. It's nice, but I didn't care for it as much as Lincoln or Jefferson. Call me a traditionalist, but I'll take neo-roman over modern any day.

Tomorrow morning we go to Arlington. I'm looking forward to that. Afterwards we will probably start working our way through the Smithsonian.

One note: we don't pay our teachers enough to put up with these animals day in, day out. Most of the kids are ok, but some seem to require sseem to require some wall to wall counseling to give them some manners. Like the two yard apes I had to rather curtly remind to show some respect at the Vietnam memorial. I think I hurt heir mom's feelings, but if she was doing her job, I wouldn't have to.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Didn't think I'd hear that on the 6 o'clock news

Was listening to the 6 o'clock news while I got dinner together tonight, and a report came on as a teaser for an investigative report they debuted last night. It deals with an X rated theater and book store in Indiana. Apparently, the local NBC affiliate sent in a hidden camera to catch people doing things that were against the law. Then one of the reporters cornered local law enforcement and politicians as to why they didn't shut the place down.

That's all good. I wouldn't have talked about it during the dinner hour, but hey, freedom of the press and all that.

But I didn't need nor did I expect to hear the term "glory hole" spoken on the TV tonight. Especially since Girlie Bear was in the living room typing something up on the computer.

Had to play the old "I'll tell you when you're older" card.

Got to love it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Well, it's been a very full weekend.

Saturday, Junior Bear had his junior prom. Had to do all the last minute things like pick up the tux and flowers, etc. He had a good time with his lady, and I got him and her home last night in one piece. Got to bed at about 1 AM.

Today, of course, is Mother's Day. Treated the family to a Cracker Barrel breakfast (Mmmmm, Cracker Barrel). After we slept off the carbs a bit, we went to the zoo to see the new giraffe. We're glad to see that he's doing fine. He was born with a deformity of his lower legs that didn't allow him to stand up, which is death to a baby giraffe. They have to stand in order to nurse. The mother can't kneel down to feed them.

Irish Woman really enjoys her work with the zoo, so we spent almost 4 hours just wandering around. Baby Bear got to see the lorikeets for the first time today, and he was entranced. These are small parrot-like birds from Australia and Indonesia. They feed on nectar, so we bought a small cup of sugar water to feed them. Baby Bear was very firm in wanting to grab one, but we were able to keep them away. Didn't want to end up on the evening news as a story of a toddler squeezing a tropical bird to death.

Girlie Bear spent the afternoon learning how to use my digital camera. She'll be using it on our big field trip next weekend.

After all that, had to do the regular weekend work and errands, but compressed into the couple of hours left to do them on a Sunday afternoon.

I'm bushed, and I have a 5 AM change control to do tomorrow. Think I'm going to goof off for a few more minutes and then go catch a few hours of sleep.

Hope all of you enjoyed your mother's day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Excellent article on the interrogation controversy

Saw this over at Blackfive. Gregory Kane at the Washington Examiner was at the World Trade Center the morning of September 10, 2001, and apparently shares my lack of empathy for those who have been interrogated.

I've been listening to people CBS (Cry and Blow Snot) over the interrogation methods that have been made public over the past few years with a bit of a cynical view. To be perfectly honest, I'm absolutely apathetic of the plight of people who have been captured while actively planning or executing plans to hurt me or those like me. I went through training as the subject of interrogation by Army interrogators, both newbies and guys who'd been around the block. I wasn't being trained, I was the training aide. kinda like being the guinea pig used to do biology class experiments, only by very motivated students. It sucked, and I'm not ashamed to say that after a while it got really tempting to just give in and tell them my "secret" just to get it to stop. But it didn't cause me actual harm, it didn't make my want to roll into a ball and suck my thumb, and it didn't make me want to call my congressman and the New York Times to complain.

The one mistake that President Bush made was not getting a formal declaration of war in the aftermath of September 11th. With that, a lot of the things that have been blared across the CNN screens would have been covered by the governments war powers, and some reporters would have gone to jail for discussing classified programs such as NSA wiretapping of foreigners who happen to reside in the US.

Mr. Kane makes the point that our foreign policy should boil down to "Don't start nothing, won't be nothing". I like "No better friend, no worse enemy". Even better is "We Americans are a peaceful people, but if you raise a hand to us, we'll cut off your arm".

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Good short story

If you've got 15 minutes, check out this short story over at Tor.

Apple and Twitter?

It's being rumored that Apple is discussing purchasing Twitter.

For what, I have no idea.

Apple doesn't have any business that Twitter would compliment, and I don't think that Twitter has any technology that Apple needs.

I'm throwing the flag on this one for 10 yards.


Monday, May 4, 2009

New Comic

I just stumbled across Private Murphy, a comic about a regular guy in the Army. For anyone who's ever been in the military, it'll touch a nerve. Hopefully one that makes you laugh.

Here are a few of my favorites so far:

Had a guy in my unit in Germany who could do this with his NBC mask on.

Since I used to teach a few classes at Fort Huachuca, I won't comment on this one.

Had this happen to me once. Took almost 2 hours to get the entire platoon extricated.

Anyway, this one goes on my list of everyday links. Enjoy.

Our collective nightmare is over

Well, the month long craziness that is the Kentucky Derby festival is finally over.

The traffic disruptions, lack of good news coverage in favor of reporting on bed races, and worrying if it will rain on a certain Friday or Saturday are all over.

I watched the Derby on Saturday, and I have to admit it was a good race. I'm not one for horse racing that much, although I enjoy going to the track with friends. But that's more to enjoy time with my friends than it is to bet on the ponies.

A few years ago, a friend of ours got us tickets to Churchill Downs on a Sunday for brunch on Millionaires Row. For those of you who don't live around Louisville, Millionaires Row is the area where celebrities and politicians go to watch the Derby and Oaks. We didn't go on a special day, so it was mostly regular people who paid extra to have a great breakfast, an air conditioned table to sit at, and a great perch in a tall building to watch the races from. We had all of the kids with us, and I allowed each of them to pick a horse from one of the races, and I put a $2 bet down for them. Junior Bear suddenly turned into Jimmy the Greek. He asked about track conditions, what the records of each of the horses was, and so on. Little Bear picked a horse at random as he was more interested in the buffet. Girlie Bear picked, and I quote, "the brown one".

Needless to say, Girlie Bear won on a 25 to 1 shot. I let her spend her $50 any way she wanted.

After the Derby this year, we went over to a friend's house to make dinner for the crew of friends who were working security at the Derby. They are parents and teenagers who are involved in the band program at Junior Bear's school. The money they raise working security at these events goes towards paying for the band. These poor souls had been on their feet for 14 hours a day for the past two days, so we made them a good spaghetti and salad dinner. Irish Woman went to the store and got a flat of cupcakes and an apple pie for dessert.

When the crew got in at about 9, we got to hear about all the celebrities they'd seen as some of them had worked the limousine entrance and some had worked on Millionaires Row. Apparently, Kim Kardashian is as pretty in person as she is on the Internet. Or at least she is to the eyes of an 18 year old high school senior.

So, until next year, we can get back to just being a city in the South/Midwest.

Football scare

Over the weekend, while I was at home watching the Kentucky Derby, members of the Dallas Cowboys were at a rookie mini-camp. During a violent storm, the facility they were in collapsed, injuring several of them.

One of the injured will be paralyzed below the waist for the rest of his waist. Another broke his back, but has no paralysis.

My thoughts and prayers go out to these men, their families, and the Cowboys in general. During the season, on the field, they are the evil empire. When stuff like this happens we let all that go and help each other any way we can.

Looks like Jerry Jones is going to do the right thing and support these employees in any way he can. Good on him. Mr. Jones sometimes has a bad reputation, but if he's going to do right by his people when they get hurt on the job, he goes up a notch or two in my estimation.
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