Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day here in the United States.  Lots of people have thanked me for my prior service today, and it's much appreciated.  But today isn't my day.

Today is the day we remember those of us who didn't come home.  The sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters who cashed the check that they sign the day they take the oath of enlistment, good for anything in their life, including the giving of that life.

There are ceremonies going on across the nation and overseas today to honor these dead.  In years past I've quoted poetry or Shakespeare, but today I want to highlight a memorial that isn't spoken of much.

At Fort Meade in Maryland, there is a memorial to those members of the signals intelligence community who have died on duty.  The work of these young men and women was classified at the time of their death, and it wasn't until 2001 that the NSA declassified their files so their sacrifice could be fully known.

I came up in the Army going to buildings named after these warriors and living on streets with their names.  It was only after visiting this memorial that I understood why no-one would tell us why so-and-so had a street named after him.

If you're ever in the DC or Baltimore area, take a drive up to Fort Meade and visit the National Cryptologic Museum and spend a few moments remembering these 161 brave men and women who not only died for us, but did so behind the veil.

Name Date of Loss
CT3 Edward J. Purcell, USN 08 Apr 1950
PFC Jay R. Stoner, USA 11 Jul 1953
SSgt Donald G. Hill, USAF 29 Jul 1953
A2C Earl W. Radlein, Jr., USAF 29 Jul 1953
A2C Archie T. Bourg, Jr., USAF 02 Sep 1958
A2C James E. Ferguson, USAF 02 Sep 1958
A2C Joel H. Fields, USAF 02 Sep 1958
A2C Harold T. Kamps, USAF 02 Sep 1958
A2C Gerald C. Maggiacomo, USAF 02 Sep 1958
A2C Clement O. Mankins, USAF 02 Sep 1958
A2C Gerald H. Medeiros, USAF 02 Sep 1958
1Lt Arthur L. Mello, USAF 02 Sep 1958
A2C Robert H. Moore, USAF 02 Sep 1958
A1C Robert J. Oshinskie, USAF 02 Sep 1958
MSgt George P. Petrochilos, USAF 02 Sep 1958
SP4 James T. Davis, USA 22 Dec 1961
SP4 Arthur W. Glover, USA 09 Feb 1964
PFC Donald R. Taylor, USA 09 Feb 1964
SP5 Timothy F. Powell, Jr., USA 13 May 1965
2LT George P. Samples, USA 13 May 1965
LCPL Richard E. McKown, USMC 24 Sep 1965
Sgt Paul C. Rodrigues, USMC 24 Sep 1965
CTSA Roger W. Alex, USN 24 Sep 1965
CTASA William E. Briley, USN 24 Sep 1965
CTSN Wilfred D. Cordell, USN 24 Sep 1965
CTSN Dennis E. Etzweiler, USN 24 Sep 1965
CT3 Archie R. Garofalo, USN 24 Sep 1965
CTSA John D. House, USN 24 Sep 1965
LTJG Ernest D. Moody, USN 24 Sep 1965
CT3 Wayne E. Tower, USN 24 Sep 1965
CTSN James K. Whitman, USN 24 Sep 1965
CT3 Gregory S. Williams, USN 24 Sep 1965
SFC Robert F. Townsend, USA 04 Nov 1965
SSG Donald D. Daugherty, USA 13 Apr 1966
CPT James D. Stallings, USA 25 Sep 1966
1LT John F. Cochrane, USA 24 Oct 1966
SFC John F. Stirling, USA 08 Mar 1967
A1C Charles D. Land, USAF 09 Mar 1967
TSgt Raymond F. Leftwich, USAF 09 Mar 1967
A1C Daniel C. Reese, USAF 09 Mar 1967
SSgt Alfred T. Dwyer, USMC 26 May 1967
CT3 William B. Allenbaugh, USN 08 Jun 1967
LCDR Philip M. Armstrong, Jr. USN 08 Jun 1967
SN Gary R. Blanchard, USN 08 Jun 1967
SN Francis Brown, USN 08 Jun 1967
CT2 Ronnie J. Campbell, USN 08 Jun 1967
CT3 Jerry L. Converse, USN 08 Jun 1967
CT2 Robert B. Eisenberg, USN 08 Jun 1967
CT3 Jerry L. Goss, USN 08 Jun 1967
CTI Curtis A. Graves, USN 08 Jun 1967
CTSN Lawrence P. Hayden, USN 08 Jun 1967
CTI Warren E. Hersey, USN 08 Jun 1967
CTSN Alan Higgins, USN 08 Jun 1967
SN Carl L. Hoar, USN 08 Jun 1967
CT2 Richard W. Keene, Jr., USN 08 Jun 1967
CTSN James L. Lenau, USN 08 Jun 1967
CTC Raymond E. Linn, USN 08 Jun 1967
CTI James M. Lupton, USN 08 Jun 1967
CT3 Duane R. Marggraf, USN 08 Jun 1967
CTSN David W. Marlborough, USN 08 Jun 1967
CT2 Anthony P. Mendle, USN 08 Jun 1967
CTSN Carl C. Nygren, USN 08 Jun 1967
LT James C. Pierce, USN 08 Jun 1967
ICFN David Skolak, USN 08 Jun 1967
CTI John C. Smith, Jr., USN 08 Jun 1967
CTC Melvin D. Smith, USN 08 Jun 1967
PC2 John C. Spicher, USN 08 Jun 1967
GMG3 Alexander N. Thompson, Jr., USN 08 Jun 1967
CT3 Thomas R. Thornton, USN 08 Jun 1967
CT3 Philippe C. Tiedtke, USN 08 Jun 1967
LT Stephen S. Toth, USN 08 Jun 1967
CTI Frederick J. Walton, USN 08 Jun 1967
Sgt Jack L. Raper, USMC 08 Jun 1967
Cpl Edward E. Rehmeyer, USMC 08 Jun 1967
Allen M. Blue, NSA 08 Jun 1967
Cpl Stephen L. Traughber, USMC 10 Sep 1967
TSgt Frederick T. Sebers, USAF 07 Nov 1967
SP5 Michael P. Brown, USA 26 Nov 1967
SGT Diego Ramirez, Jr., USA 26 Nov 1967
PFC Robert D. Taylor, USA 26 Nov 1967
FN Duane D. Hodges, USN 23 Jan 1968
CPT John M. Casey, USA 25 Mar 1968
SP4 Jeffrey W. Haerle, USA 13 May 1968
SP4 Christopher J. Schramm, USA 13 May 1968
SP5 Samuel C. Martin, USA 17 May 1968
Maj James W. Ayers, USMC 30 Jun 1968
SGT Thomas J. Tomczak, USA 23 Jul 1968
SSgt Louis J. Clever, USAF 05 Feb 1969
SSgt James V. Dorsey, Jr., USAF 05 Feb 1969
SSgt Rodney H. Gott, USAF 05 Feb 1969
Sgt Clarence L. McNeill, USAF 05 Feb 1969
SSgt Hugh L. Sherburn, USAF 05 Feb 1969
Sgt Douglas Arcano, USAF 05 June 1969
TSgt Eugene L. Benevides, USAF 05 June 1969
Sgt Sherman E. Consolver, Jr., USAF 05 June 1969
SSgt Roy L. Lindsey, USAF 05 June 1969
Sgt Lucian A. Rominiecki, USAF 05 June 1969
SSgt Richard J. Steen, Jr., USAF 05 June 1969
SP5 Harold D. Biller, USA 25 Feb 1969
CT3 Gary R. Ducharme, USN 15 Apr 1969
CT3 John A. Miller, USN 15 Apr 1969
CTI John H. Potts, USN 15 Apr 1969
CTC Frederick A. Randall, USN 15 Apr 1969
CTC Richard E. Smith, USN 15 Apr 1969
CT3 Philip D. Sundby, USN 15 Apr 1969
LT Robert F. Taylor, USN 15 Apr 1969
CT2 Stephen J. Tesmer, USN 15 Apr 1969
SSgt Hugh M. Lynch, USMC 15 Apr 1969
SP5 Harry J. Colon, USA 21 Jun 1969
SSgt Elmore L. Hall, USAF 08 Oct 1969
Sgt Michael L. Stiglich, USAF 08 Oct 1969
SP4 Henry N. Heide, II, USA 29 Nov 1969
SP4 James R. Smith, USA 29 Nov 1969
CTC Robert S. Gates, USN 28 Dec 1969
MGySgt Edward R. Storm, USMC 28 Dec 1969
Sgt Larry W. Duke, USMC 10 Mar 1970
A1C Paul W. Anthony, USAF 08 Apr 1970
SSgt Michael R. Conner, USAF 22 Apr 1970
SGT Robert E. Dew, USA 30 Aug 1970
SP5 Carl H. Caccia, USA 21 Feb 1971
SP5 Robert J. Potts, USA 21 Feb 1971
SP5 Michael B. Smith, USA 21 Feb 1971
SP5 Robert J. Thelen, USA 21 Feb 1971
SP5 Gary C. David, USA 01 Mar 1971
SP5 Frank A. Sablan, USA 01 Mar 1971
WOI Harold L. Algaard, USA 04 Mar 1971
SP5 Richard J. Hentz, USA 04 Mar 1971
CPT Michael W. Marker USA 04 Mar 1971
SP5 Rodney D. Osborne, USA 04 Mar 1971
SP6 John T. Straun, USA 04 Mar 1971
Sgt Robert Hrisoulis, USMC 21 Jan 1971
CT03 James M. Coon, USN 12 Dec 1971
CTISN John M. Deremigio, USN 12 Dec 1971
CTO1 Donald E. Dickerson, USN 12 Dec 1971
CTOSN Stephen H. Elliott, USN 12 Dec 1971
CTRI Walter R. Woods, Jr., USN 12 Dec 1971
CTM2 Gregory K. Zeller, USN 12 Dec 1971
SP4 Bruce A. Crosby, Jr., USA 30 Mar 1972
SP5 Gary P. Westcott, USA 30 Mar 1972
MSgt John W. Ryon, USAF 21 Nov 1972
Sgt Dale Brandenburg, USAF 05 Feb 1973
Sgt Peter R. Cressman, USAF 05 Feb 1973
Sgt Joseph A. Matejov, USAF 05 Feb 1973
SSgt Todd M. Melton, USAF 05 Feb 1973
CT01 John R. Ball, USN 03 Dec 1979
RM3 Emil E. White, USN 03 Dec 1979
Sgt Steven C. Balcer, USAF 16 Mar 1981
SSgt Harry L. Parsons, III, USAF 16 Mar 1981
CTI3 Patrick R. Price, USN 25 Jan 1987
CTI3 Craig R. Rudolph, USN 25 Jan 1987
TSgt Ernest R. Parrish, USAF 22 Sep 1995
SSgt Gene A. Vance, USA 19 May 2002
Sgt Joseph M. Nolan, USA 18 Nov 2004
SSG Edwin H. DazaChacon, USA 13 Feb 2006
Sergeant Amanda N. Pinson, USA 16 Mar 2006
SSG Kyu H. Chay, USA 28 Oct 2006
SGT Trista L. Moretti, USA 25 Jun 2007
CTT1(SW) Steven Daugherty, USN 6 Jul 2007
SGT Nicholas A. Robertson, USA 4 Apr 2008
CTM3 Matthew J. O'Bryant, USN 30 Sep 2008

SPOT Report

Size - One
Activity - Target Practice
Location - Knob Creek Gun Range
Unit - Girlie Bear
Time - 9 AM to 12 PM
Equipment - Rossi .22 single shot rifle

Today, I took Girlie Bear out to Knob Creek to teach her about shooting rifles.  She's been practicing with a BB gun for the past year, and today I introduced her to gun powder.  She did well, and seemed to have a really good time.  The sound of high powered rifles spooked her a bit at first, but by the end of the morning, she didn't even flinch when someone was shooting one near us.

Rossi Combi-Rifle - $120
Box of .22  - $8
Range Fees - $15
This Smile - Priceless

Friday, May 28, 2010

My Next Dog

Even though I'm not a dog guy, now that we've had Blue and Shadow for about 10 years, I guess I'll have a dog forever.

For my next dog, I was considering going smaller than the Labradors we have, something the size of a beagle or a full sized dachshund.  Not a yap dog, but not something I need to have shoed twice a year.

But the other night, I came across this breed that I have never seen before:

It's a Caucasian Shepherd.  You take the guard dog part of a German Shepherd, the herding instinct of an English Sheepdog, the temper of a Grizzly Bear, and the coat of a Siberian Huskie.  You mix all of that up, and pack it into a dog that's as tall as me when he stands on his back legs.

The breed's weight range is 102–180 pounds (46–82 kg.), although individuals over 220 pounds (100 kg) are not uncommon, and the height range is 25–29 inches (64–78 cm.)
  Irish Woman doesn't think it's such a good idea, but I've been subjected to her two drool beasts.  Now I want a dog that I can put a saddle on and take BooBoo for a walk.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Death Stare

I've seen British soccer fans square off against each other outside a pub.

I've been stared down by a Kentucky fan in a Walmart parking lot for wearing a Duke tee shirt.

I've seen Serbs and Muslims in Bosnia get ready to restart their civil war over right of way on a mountain road.

I've even heard tell of a certain librarian that can kill a man at 10 yards just by looking at him.

But you've never seen a look of wrath like the one I got when I disturbed 8 toddlers during naptime when I picked BooBoo up this afternoon to take him to a doctor appointment.  If those kids had had their way, I would have burst into flame and melted into the floor.

Best thing I've seen all day

Do I think the freedom movement in Iran has a snowballs chance in hell of success without either the military changing sides or someone outside of Iran supporting them militarily?  Sadly, no.  But that doesn't diminish the respect I have for the bravery to stand up to a brutal dictatorship, even if you only protest in the street.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

And now your WTF moment for the day

A high school teacher in Georgia has the balls to seem surprised that someone might be offended when she walked several students dressed as members of the KKK through the school cafeteria. 

OK, they were doing it for a history class, and like it or not, the Klan is a part of history, especially in the deep South.  So I have no problem with students studying the group and its impact on the South. 

But to let them dress up and walk around the school wearing sheets and hoods takes either a huge amount of arrogance or an enormous amount of stupidity.

What's next?  Having some students dress up in brown shirts and others wear the Star of David when you study World War II and the Holocaust?

Maybe the clean cut kids could dress up in Red Army uniforms and escort the hippie kids to a specially made "gulag" behind the gym.

Or perhaps this twit could have her cranium removed from her nether regions long enough to be handed her disciplinary paperwork and then reassigned to teaching somewhere else.  Better yet, put her in charge of making sure there are no cigarette butts under the bleachers on the football field for every high school in the county.  Once she's got that accomplished, there are a few grease traps in the cafeterias that need her highly educated attention.

Whole lot of buzzing going on

An accident on I-35 in Minnesota released thousands of honey bees out of a cargo of 17 million.  The resulting swarm was described as "a black cloud".

Does it show that I've been a dad to young children when the image I got in my mind when I read  this was the swarm of bees from Winnie the Pooh?

Of course, this means that there will be thousands of bees in that area who weren't there before.  I know it's late spring and most blossoming is over, but it would be interesting to see if there's any correlation between this large influx of pollenators and the size of any crops in the area in the fall.  Just a thought.

Warning for the day

Do not fall asleep listening to Vicious Circle.  The dreams you will have will scar you for life.

Warning, listening to Vicious Circle while awake can also scar you for life. You have been warned. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cherries, lots and lots of Cherries!

The cherry tree in the front yard has been sitting there pretty much dormant for the last 9 years.  It's been a pretty good shade tree, and screened the front of the house well, so we left it alone.

And now comes the payoff:

It's positively drooping from all of the fruit on it.
Girlie Bear and I went out for about half an hour tonight and got all of the low hanging fruit.  We got more than a gallon.

Irish Woman has promised me a cobbler for dessert tomorrow night, and what we don't eat tonight or tomorrow will go in the dryer for snacks.

We love fresh fruit, and this looks like a good year for it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Thought for the day

When trying to convince a two year old that the kitty does not need her teeth brushed, it is better to stand by with the betadyne and let him learn from experience.  No need for first aid, but the cat did move away before he could shove the brush in her mouth.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tonight's Haul

Well, our fruit crop is starting to come in.

We've been getting strawberries in ones and two's, but with the cool wet weather lately, they've really started ripening.

Irish Woman went out for about 10 minutes and gathered a couple of pints:

We have a couple of varieties, some big,
and some not so big
We have a lot still ripening, and some that are still blossoms.  I'm going to preserve everything that doesn't get scarfed up by the wife and kids.  BooBoo has already learned to pick himself a red strawberry on his way out the door every morning.  I'm not complaining.  What parent minds a child who prefers fresh fruit to candy?

Our cherry and peach trees are absolutely loaded.  The cherries are starting to ripen, and Irish Woman predicts we'll be harvesting this weekend if the sun comes out for a couple of days. 

My Friend, You Are Going to Die

A Canadian tourist in New Zealand was bitten in a very sensitive place by the local relative of the Black Widow while he was sleeping. 

Here's the money quote:

"It was a rather nasty, ill-placed bite,” Harrison said. “The man woke to find his penis swollen and painful with a red mark on the shaft suggestive of a bite. He rapidly developed generalized muscle pains, fever, headache, photophobia (light sensitivity) and vomiting."
I'm a pretty heavy sleeper.  Few things that normally happen wake me up, aside from a child crying, glass breaking, or the squeak of one of our exterior doors opening.  But I'm pretty sure that if a spider bit me on my schwanz, I'd wake up before the venom started to take effect.

Just goes to show that before you put any item of clothing on when outdoors, you should shake it out.  I've been surprised to shake scorpions out of my boots in Arizona, and a really hairy looking spider had taken up residence in my socks one morning in Bosnia.  But I can honestly say I've never had anything get close enough to bite me in my junk.

And now a moment of snark:

If you have an erection for more than 4 hours after being bitten by the deadly katipo spider, consult a physician immediately, because this may indicate a condition called 'death', which can lead to a lack of responsiveness, enjoyment of normal activities, and eventually, bad body odor.

Slippery Slope

Let me start this by saying that sexual predators are one of the few groups that I viscerally hate.  I'm a pretty forgiving guy, but if you violate a woman or a child, then you are no longer human to me.  You deserve all the punishment that you get sentenced for, and while I don't necessarily agree with the death penalty, I'll make an exception for rape or child molestation.  I also understand that pedophilia is something that has never shown much promise as a treatable mental condition.

That being said, I'm disturbed with the announcement today that the Supreme Court is OK with the continued detention of sexual offenders, even after they have finished their sentences.

My take on it is this:  if someone is psychologically unable to be a safe member of society as demonstrated by past bad acts, then hold an inquest, prove to the court that they are dangerous to the community at large because of a mental condition, and have them committed for treatment.  Come back periodically and prove to the court that said person is still not fit to mix with society in general  If you can't prove that and just want them locked up because you're worried they might do something horrible again, then you don't meet my standard for taking away someone's liberty.

One other way we could get around this is to allow for life sentences with no parole for sexual assault or child molestation.  If the government feels that sexual offenders need never walk the streets again, then put them away for life at the beginning.  Then let the courts decide if that punishment is "cruel and unusual".

Giving the government the power to put people away because they are afraid they might offend again is a slippery slope I'm not willing to take the country down.

If they feel that a drug dealer is likely to go back to peddling dope on the streetcorner, thereby harming the community, can they put him away forever?

What about the young man who robs a liquor store as a teenager, but may get his life together after serving his sentence?  Should he be sent to prison forever because a certain percentage of young males who knock over liquor stores as teenagers become habitual criminals?

The government should not be able to look at a person who has committed a crime and decide that, because they may re-offend, they should be locked up indefinitely.  Either follow existing mental inquest procedures, or lock them up for life from the get-go.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Father of the Year

You all know that guy who puts his name on everything he owns using a sharpie?  Cuts out a stencil with his initial and paints them on all of his lawn and garden equipment?  Has an engraving tool and uses it regularly to carve his initials into every metal instrument that crosses the property line?

Well, apparently, he has kids:

A Washington man is on trial for assault for allegedly branding his children like ranch cattle and permanently scarring them, authorities said.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over?

His sons apparently think this is the keenest things since pizza delivery.  That goes a long way towards showing how messed up this guy is as a dad.

Now, there have been times that I've written my name and phone number on my kids in such a way that a policeman would find it, but it's not too obtrusive, such as when we're going somewhere with huge crowds and they might get separated. 
But to brand them like a steer?  That's some world class, grade A dumbassery there.

Congratulations moron.  Hopefully you'll be in the state pound-in-the-ass penitentiary by the time Father's Day rolls around.

My heart bleeds

No, really it does.

UPI is reporting that a fungal infestation is harming the opium poppy crop in Afghanistan.  So the narco-economy of that particular 3rd world craphole is going to suffer, which means that all of Karzai's cronies that can't make it doing something honest for a living will suffer.


Look, I think that the Taliban and their ilk are the wrong answer in Afghanistan due to their record on human rights, especially to women and non-Muslims.  But the one thing they did that I agreed with was to ban the production of opium in Afghanistan and then to ruthlessly enforce that ban.  (Although I guess they've lost that particular conviction now that they have to finance an insurgency.)  Money from the sale of opium and the greed that comes with that money has tainted our 'liberation' of Afghanistan.  Personally, I feel we switched out an Islamist repressive regime for a cleptocracy fueled by U.S. foreign aid and the proceeds from narcotics trafficking.  Wow, what a difference in results.

I personally don't have a beef with someone using heroine if they don't hurt anyone else doing it.  You want to inject poison into your veins and die either very slowly and ugly through chronic opium addiction or go quick and ugly through an OD?  Have at it, as long as you're an adult, and your use and eventual death won't hurt anyone else.

But it should be made legal, and the transportation of the product, from 3rd world fields to the local pharmacy, should be done in the open, where purity can be regulated.  Doing this would take out all of the tin-hat warlords, underworld smugglers, and dirty warehouse labs and cutting operations out of the picture.  Along with this would go all of the attendant crime that goes with illicit use of the drug.

I personally hope that the Afghan warlords and everyone else that moves the poison from the Afghan poppy fields to the dealer on the street hurt so bad financially that they turn on each other and cull our collective herd a bit.  And I hope this particular fungus spreads from Afghanistan to the rest of the opium producing regions.

Requiem for a Baby Elephant

Irish Woman does volunteer work at the Louisville Zoo.  Every year, her fundraising group holds a blacktie shindig at the zoo, and the next morning the kids and I go with her to help clean up and break down.  After we get done, John the zoo director takes all of the volunteers on a behind-the-scenes tour of some new aspect of the zoo.

Several years ago, Mikki, the African elephant, had a little bull calf, who was eventually named Scotty.  After cleaning up that year, John had us all come up to the newly renovated elephant enclosure to meet Scotty. 

Scotty was like almost any human baby at about 6-9 months, even though he was only 6 weeks old.  He was curious, friendly, and gregarious.  In small groups of two or three, we went up to the bars of the enclosure, and patted him on the head and rump while he used his trunk to explore our hair, clothes, and anything hanging off of our belts.  It's amazing how dexterous that trunk was.  I was wearing a ball cap, and Scotty pulled it off of my head so he could smell it better.  He was also fascinated with my cell-phone.  Girlie Bear and Little Bear got to pet him and talk to him, and he was fascinated with the scent of the shampoo in their hair. 

Over the next few years, we always made a point to go to the elephant area to watch him play when we went to the zoo.  We got to pet him a couple of times more as we did things with the zoo, including letting Scotty check out BooBoo when he was only a few days old.

Even though Scotty rarely left the elephant enclosure, he had a lot of room to move around, and was forever exploring.  He enjoyed doing "elephant aerobics" every day with the keepers and his mother and aunt Ponch, the Indian elephant.  He also loved to jump in the elephant pond with his mom for a cool dip.  Every person I know who works or volunteers at the zoo loved him as if he was a favored nephew.  Every year for his birthday he would get a big birthday cake made out of fresh fruit, and seemed to enjoy rolling a watermelon around with his feet and trunk as much as he enjoyed eating it.

Countless visitors to the zoo were entranced by this little guy, and since elephants mature almost as slowly as humans, we thought we would get a decade of time with him before he was transferred to another zoo.

Unfortunately, that is not going to happen.

Wednesday evening, Irish Woman came home from a meeting at the zoo in tears.  John had come to the meeting and had tearfully informed her group that Scotty was gravely ill, and it was going to be touch and go to see if he survived.    We learned later from the news that Scotty had been euthenized when the veterinarians and keepers felt that continued efforts to save him would only prolong his suffering.

A light in the world of my family and especially my children went out when that little elephant died.  No matter how tired or cross the kids were at the zoo, they always perked up when they saw Scotty.  The family of people who work at, support, and visit the Louisville Zoo lost a precious member that night.

In memory of Scotty the Elephant, March 18, 2007 to May 12, 2010

Oh Wonderful

Girlie Bear was positively giddy this morning when she was getting ready for school.  She's a morning person, but this morning she was a bit over the top.  I was wondering if she'd discovered boys (shudder), when I remembered that today is her 'educational' field trip to King's Island.  Yes, her teachers expect me to believe that she's going to learn something at an amusement park.

Anyway, as I was getting ready, I flipped on the local morning news, and guess what they have as a top story? 

Today is the 22nd anniversary of the Carrolton bus crash.  Yes, a group going returning from King's Island was hit by a drunk driver, and 27 people, mostly students, died.

Guess which route her bus has to use to get from Louisville to  King's Island and back?  I'll give you a hint:  If they hold a roadside memorial at the site of the crash, Girlie Bear will see it coming and going.

Look, I'm not superstitious.  I don't read the omens.  I don't really believe in lightning striking twice.  I'm sure everything will be OK, and the only injury she'll have to contend with is sunburn.

But it's just a spooky enough of a coincidence to make me ask Girlie Bear to sit near an exit on the bus. 

I'm not paranoid, I'm just a dad.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dinner Tonight

Following in the footsteps of LabRat and FarmMom, I thought I'd share my recipe for tonight's dinner.

Take the frozen bones from two roast chickens and the turkey I smoked on Sunday.  Place in a large turkey roaster with garlic, chives, rosemary, Old Bay Seasoning, chopped onion, red pepper flake, and Worcestershire sauce.  Fill the pan of the roaster with water until the bones are covered.  Turn the roaster to 375 degrees and leave to simmer all day while you go to work.

Upon returning home, breathe in the succulent smell of the broth that you've created.  About 1/3 of the water will have boiled off, but all of the collagen in the bones and connective tissue will have dissolved into the water, making a very rich broth.

After washing up, use a slotted spoon to remove as much of the meat and bones as you can from the broth, and then use a large collendar to strain out the juice into your largest stock pot. Let the broth settle, and then spoon off the top layer of grease.

At this point, you can stop and let the broth cool enough to pour into either several containers or ice cube trays and freeze for later use.  I went forward and made soup.

After letting the bones and meat cool for a moment, use a fork to remove the larger pieces of intact meat and put into the broth.  Make sure you wash your hands well first, and yes you will burn your fingers.  Try to fend off the felines who will suddenly be your best friend.

Add about a pound of frozen mixed vegetables and a handful of fresh or dried sliced mushrooms to the broth and bring to a boil.  Salt to taste.

Once the broth boils, add a few handfuls of your favorite pasta. I used the country style egg noodles from Sam's Club, but whatever you want to use will work.  The pasta will thicken the soup as it cooks.

Serve hot with warm whole wheat baguette, or whatever crusty bread floats your boat.

Makes enough to feed a small army.

Time to cook - 8 hours
My time to make dinner - less than an hour


Dear Technology Packrats

This morning, I met a member of our team at the computer room, and we went through another round of "Let's clean out the storage room".

The following things were found and summarily marked for disposal:

  • DEC networking gear that hasn't been needed in our environment since before I was hired almost 10 years ago
  • SCSI cables that have more dust on them than a pharoah's tomb
  • Thermal paper for an unknown printing technology
  • Serial and parallel cables for printers we don't have anymore, and no-one can remember ever owning
  • DLT tape drives that are either still in the wrappers or are so old they remind me of the Clinton administration
  • Outboard serial modems, which no-one wants to admit ever having used

This time, thankfully, the DEC Alpha system, rack included, that sat in the storage room for at least 8 years was gone, so I did not throw my back out moving the bleeding thing so I could see what was behind it.

I did, however, leave spare parts for server models that I can prove we still use.  But why we need three spare power supplies for the SUN server that has never had a problem with its power supply is beyond me.

In the future, I would appreciate it if you could proactively get rid of spares for server models we retire.

Nothing says nostalgia like taking a few minutes to look at parts for systems you don't even remember.  And nothing is better for my allergies than plodding through all of the accumulated dust, pollen, and mold and mildew that has accumulated in our little storage room.  I'm going home to take another shower and change my clothes.  Hopefully my nose will stop running in the very near future.

Thanks much,

Daddy Bear

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Things you need, but can't get

I'm an amateur prepper.  By that I mean that I keep a small supply of extra food, water, shelter, and guns around the house.  I haven't dug a fall out shelter, bought land far, far away from civilization to run to, or convinced my wife and neighbors to start combat training.I'm more worried about a week long power outage or flooding in this area than I am about The End of the World As We Know It. 

But for a thought experiment, let's assume that all long-distance trade is brought to a standstill.  Maybe it's a war, or a plague, or whatever that causes this.  No more plentiful imports from overseas, and very little commerce with people more than a day or two's wagon ride away. 

You have a vegetable garden and some skills that you trade for the staple grains you and your family need, or you have enough land and labor to raise the corn, wheat, and potatoes yourself.   Luckily you have enough woods in your area to keep the house warm and repaired for a few years.  A good local source of clean water is available, and you can get to it safely on a daily basis to refill your supply at home.

But you can't make or grow everything that you need and want.  What things will run out quickly, and what things can you live without but could use for barter?

First thing I would imagine that would run out is gasoline.  Most folks, me included, only keep the tankful in their cars and maybe a couple of gas cans in the garage for the yard tools.  Let's assume that you're smart and see that the gas in your gas tank is better used to work gardening implements and chain saws than driving around the neighborhood to talk to your friends.  Do you have a few extra bottles of two-stroke oil laying around so you can run the chainsaw and tiller?  

Do you have hand tools that could be used in combination with brute labor to do such things as till and weed the garden or bring wood in?  How many people even own an axe anymore, or know how to use it?

As for food, I see spices as being the first thing to go missing. Of course, all perishable food would be gone in a day or so after power goes out.  So you have the dry and canned food that you have stored, supplemented by any food you can grow, catch or find.  Meals would get pretty monotonous when that little spice rack you bought at Kitchen Kaboodle runs dry.  Yes, you can live without paprika, curry powder, and all that, but flavorless food will drive you to the edge of violence pretty quickly.  Herb gardens are common enough now-a-days that you probably can grow your own or barter for them easily.  But what do you do for those spices and herbs that just don't grow in your area?  You can't grow cinnamon, nutmeg, or black pepper.  These have to be imported from more tropical climates, and if you can get them, they're probably hideously expensive.   Salt could also be an issue if you don't live near a natural salt mine or the ocean.  You have to have salt for your own health and to cure and dry meat properly.  Also, if spices are rare, any surplus you have would make a great barter item.

Speaking of barter items and morale, don't forget the luxuries and vices category.  In that area, I guess I'm lucky to live in Kentucky, where growing tobacco and making whiskey are considered a cultural heritage.  But if you live in a place that isn't as blessed with a heritage of Jim Beam and Jack Daniels (Peace Be Upon Them), it might not hurt to have a small supply of these things put aside either for your own self-regulated use or for barter.

Things like chocolate, coffee, and white sugar can't easily be grown or processed in the United States.  Having a few pounds of Starbucks, some Hershey bars, and buckets of sugar squirreled away will allow you to have treats for you and your family or as a tempting barter item for something you really really need.   We all love our smokes, booze, sugar, chocolate and coffee.  The family you're bargaining with for a cow might move off their final offer if a candy bar or a pound of coffee are thrown in to sweeten the deal.

Next come clothes.  As an adult, we tend to have the same core of clothing that we wear until it wears out over a space of years.  If you have kids, you know its a safe bet that the sweater that you put away in April will not fit them come November.  Used clothing is something you can barter with and for, but what do you do for good shoes?  Shoes usually wear out before the user outgrows them, and how many of us know how to make them?  Also, does anyone in your household know how to make cloth, knit, and sew, especially by hand?

So, now that I've rambled on, here's what I'm either doing now, or will be doing soon:

  • Gasoline - Keep several 5 gallon cans of gasoline in the garage, with stabilizing agents added to keep them from deteriorating too fast.  Rotate them through the vehicles and lawnmowers every few months.  Keep enough two-stroke oil on-hand to use half of the stored gasoline in chainsaws and the like.
  • Buy spices in bulk and follow a "own 3, use 1" rotation schedule.  Keep lots of salt on hand due to its importance as a nutrient and preservative.
  • Keep an herb garden. 
  • Keep a couple boxes of cigars and small bottles of drinking alcohol around for entertainment and trading.
  • Keep some luxury goods like chocolate and coffee around for the same reason.
  • Buy and store white sugar in bulk.  Use honey and other sweeteners as much as possible.
  • Have clothing around for the kids for the next few sizes they will wear, especially several pairs of shoes.  Have a couple pairs of work boots around for the adults.
  • Learn some skills that have a real-world application beyond being a guy with a gun or a field hand.  Premium should be given to learning things that you can market, such as knitting, sewing, or alcohol production. Hey, you could get farther as a beer peddler than you could selling socks.
Anyhow, those are my thoughts.  I don't touch on security, because I believe it's a given that even in the world as it is, your security is your responsibility.  What are your thoughts?

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Haven't done these in a while.  It's a good way to blow off steam.

To the 19 year old wearing the "Class of 2009" tee shirt who was pissed that I was in 'her' parking spot in front of Starbucks this morning, I'm sorry you had to walk around my "nasty old truck" as you so succinctly put it to whoever you were annoying at 7:30 AM on your cell phone.  As for Mummsy and Daddsy's BMW that you were driving, either learn to park wiithout taking up two spaces, or learn to walk, you self absorbed neauveau riche white trash drama queen.

To the marketing guy who thought to let Starbucks customers make a Frapuccino out of everything including the Barista's tears, you are a business genius.  But if I ever find you, I'm going to gut you like a trout using a dull spork and hang your carcass to age in front of Kroger as a warning to other twits who might do something that will cause me to have to wait in a line 17 deep for coffee.  This line was populated by 15 young people like the young lady above, and two adults who just wanted a cup of hot bean juice.

To the Kentucky Revenue Cabinet, mad props for sending us our refund check in less than a month.  When I saw the envelope, I was half expecting a "well, we done spent all the money on bourbon and strippers, so here's some coupons for a free Squishy at the gas station instead".

To Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, who thinks that citizens should be denied their civil rights because some bureaucrat put them on a list, I hope they find your bloated carcass tied up in a bondage leather bar in Greenwich Village.

That's about all I've got for now.  Just needed to vent my spleen a bit.  We'll return to our normal ray-of-sunshine posting soon.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Thought for the day

There are few things in life nicer than watching a Disney movie and cuddling with your youngest child.


Just saw that a member of the production crew for Deadliest Catch has been arrested on suspicion of dealing cocaine in Alaska.  No comment on that.  There's an idiot in any given population sample, and apparently this company is no exception.

Irish Woman is fascinated by the show, and watches pretty much every week when new episodes air.  But I grew up watching Norwegians fish.  Why would I spend an hour of my adult life doing it some more?  My grandfather left a life as a fisherman in Norway to shovel horse manure and never looked back. That's how hard a life being a deep sea fisherman is.  It's better to clean out horse stalls for a living than to go out on a little boat in a big ocean and try to find fish.

Don't get me wrong.  Those fishermen risk their life to make a living doing dangerous and dirty work in horrific conditions.  Looking at what these guys go through for crab makes me appreciate my seafood dinner more.  They are some of the last true hunters left in our food chain.  All of the other meat that we eat is raised specifically for meat production.  These guys have to find, fix, and fetch just like our ancestors used to, with no guarantee of success.

When I was not much older than BooBoo is now, my father put a pole in my hand, put a worm on a hook, and threw my red and white bobber out into Lake Darling.  I would catch perch, and he would sit on the bank, drink PBR, and smoke Camels while pulling northern and walleye pike out of the lake. 

As I got older, the trips became less and less frequent, mostly due to his never being home due to work on the railroad and a hobby that included women that weren't genetically related to me.  My uncles and older cousins took up a lot of the slack and took me and my brothers fishing quite regularly.  I eventually graduated from bobber to a Red-Devil spoon for northern, which meant I was growing up. 

Catching a pike is kinda like catching a log.  They don't fight and thrash like a bass or crappie.  They just basically pull back with their head and refuse to cooperate.  The line has to be ended with a steel leader so the fish doesn't bite through it.  No mono filament or nylon braid is proof against a pike's teeth.  No finger is for that matter.  If I didn't have a net to pull them up to the bank, I usually just walked backwards the last few feet to pull them up to land and then put them on my stringer.

Once my mom and dad split up I started taking myself down to the river to fish with my friends.  I was old enough, and mom was off doing other things and what she didn't know wouldn't hurt me.

My step-dad fancied himself a sportsman.  He had lots and lots of fishing gear, and lots and lots of rifles and pistols.  Mom followed him to Utah, and I tried to learn how to catch trout.  I never tried fly fishing, but learned to float a salmon egg on a small hook down a stream.  Never did catch a trout, but walking a mile up or down stream from the family campout was a rare moment of peace.

When I grew up, I stopped fishing for the most part.  I had no time early in my career, and fishing in Germany was hard to do and expensive.  As much game as there was in Arizona, fishing in the desert is kinda the definition of insanity.

Once I moved back east, I started fishing again.  It was mostly to have something inexpensive to do since money was tight, and to have some quiet.   The kids started coming along pretty soon.  I learned quickly that if I took the kids, there was no use in taking my own pole.  I spend most of my time baiting and setting their lines, then getting them unsnagged, and then putting their lines back out when they bring them back in for no discernible reason.  I'm not complaining.  I always have a ball when we go, and everyone seems to enjoy themselves, even if it's because of the picnic of sandwiches, junk food, and soda that we bring.

The incident that convinced me to stop worrying about getting my pole in the water happened the first summer I was here in Kentucky.  I picked Girlie Bear and Little Bear up from their mom, and headed to the local flood control lake to try to catch some bluegill.  They had recently gotten their Tasmanian Devil and Tweety Bird fishing poles, and thought it was the best thing since sliced bread to see me put a worm on a hook. Girlie Bear was about 2, and Little Bear was almost 4.    We went to a place that looked promising, which was a rock outcropping that jutted out into deep water.  I put their lines in the water for them, then started setting up my pole to try to catch a bass.  After a few minutes, Girlie Bear lost interest in sitting still and started looking at the little minnows that were coming up to eat her cookie crumbs. 

All I heard was "fishie fishie" and splash.  My darling girl had leaned over the DEEP water and tried to catch a minnow by hand.  She then lost her toddler balance and plopped in head first.  She of course sunk like a rock.  I moved faster than the speed of fright and pulled her out by the only thing that was still in reach, her diapered back end.

She came up coughing, sputtering, and crying.  After making sure she was OK, I rocked her and myself back to coherency.  That was pretty much the end of our day fishing, and Little Bear was well and roundly pissed when I gathered up our stuff and we hiked back to the car.  I made up for it with ice cream, so it evened up for him.

So, since then, I never stop paying attention to the kids when we're fishing.  I thought as Little Bear and Girlie Bear got older I'd get to do more fishing myself, but now that BooBoo is here the cycle is starting again.  No worries though.  I sneak away alone enough that I don't miss fishing when I take the kids.  Either way, it's my favorite way to spend a day during the summer.


Sorry about not posting for the past couple of days. Most of my free time has been spent taking care of a sick BooBoo, who is doing better now, or attending things for Mike's funeral.

The visitation and funeral were very nice.  All of Mike's family came in, and all of us 'adopted' kids were fully involved.  The ex brought Little Bear to the visitation, and I brought Girlie Bear to the visitation and funeral.  Girlie Bear was very tearful, but I'd rather she let it out than tried to be strong and didn't deal with how she felt.

At the funeral, Girlie Bear was asked to sit with Mike's wife and daughter.  She was given the place of granddaughter specifically.  She did her weeping, but was also there to give hugs to the family as they came by.  It really touched me how much Mamaw and Aunt Jenny loved and took care of her.

The service was given by a local preacher, who did an excellent job.  His choices of readings and what to say were spot on.  After he had spoken he opened the floor to anyone who had anything to say about Mike.  The time for the testimonials about what a great man Mike was took longer than the time the preacher spoke.  Everyone in the room had been touched by Mike, and it was evident that he left this world better than he found it.

Thanks to everyone who's sent their good thoughts and prayers for our family, here and elsewhere.  It's much appreciated and touching.

Like I said, BooBoo was ill with a stomach bug in the middle of the week, but he is feeling much better.  Fortunately, I didn't catch it taking care of him at night, mostly due to obsessive hand washing and prophylactic use of Pepto-Bismol to kill anything in my gut that might go wonky.  Unfortunately, Irish Woman took care of BooBoo while I was at work, and now she's down with it.  She should be better tomorrow as long as she drinks the Gatorade that I left with her this morning and doesn't get dehydrated, but she's pretty miserable at the moment.

Junior Bear is rapidly dwindling down his days in high school.  Senior slide has hit in a major way, but I'm pretty confident he'll graduate with no problems.  He's scheduled to move into the dorm immediately thereafter at his university so he can take summer classes.

Girlie Bear is doing very well in school, but now that standardized testing is over, so is most learning.  She has a couple of projects to do, but it's mostly fun stuff and field trips for the rest of the year.

Little Bear is also doing very well in school.  I ran into his principal at Girlie Bear's chorus recital the other night, and she had nothing but praise for him.  He's turning into quite the little man, and I'm excited to see how he turns out in a few years.

The fence project has been on hold all week, but I expect to be about 80% done by the time this weekend is over.  Once it's done, I'll post pictures of before, during, and after.

Hope everyone is doing well.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tribute to a Friend

Mike is the 'adopted' grandfather to my kids.  During a life of caring about everyone around him, he collected lots of kids beyond the two he brought into the world.  Luckily for us, Little Bear and Girlie Bear's mom was one of them.  She grew up with his daughter, and Mike and his wife Barb took her under their wing.

After we divorced and she returned to Louisville, they were a godsend to her and the kids.  That's when I met Mike.  Even though I was the 'ex', he and his family took me in too.  During family emergencies and day to day life, they helped out the kids' mom and I.   I tried to reciprocate, but that was a debt that I never could repay, and repayment was never expected.

When Irish Woman and I got together, they took her into the family with no questions asked.  When BooBoo came along, their entire family was with me as I waited for Irish Woman and BooBoo to come up from recovery. 

Mike worked hard all his life.  He raised two wonderful kids, and added to the raising of Lord knows how many more.  30+ years ago, he got sick, and his kidneys died.  Luckily, a close family member donated one, and he got one of the earliest kidney transplants from a living donor.  I've been told he's been a beacon of hope to other transplant patients because of his longevity. 

He returned to his job stringing phone lines.  The massive amounts of drugs necessary to prevent rejection of his new kidney drastically decreased his ability to fight the sun, and eventually he came down with very bad skin cancer.  His quality of life went down, but his attitude never did.  Mike never met a stranger, and his own problems never did anything to reduce his love of life or the smile on his face.

Over the past few years, his health has slowly drained him.  He has fought long and hard with the sickness so that he could be there for his wife, children, and extended family.   Even when you could tell that he felt really bad, he wanted to go out for a ride in the boat or play with the kids.  He was content to have a house full of people, or just a couple of friends over for a movie.  He never greeted anyone with less than a smile and a good handshake, and you never wanted to leave his house unless you absolutely had to.

This morning, my family lost a very important piece to our puzzle.  Mike has been in the hospital for several weeks, and he passed away today.  My family will be praying for him and Barb and Jenny and Jason.

Mike, Irish Woman and I will always be there for your wife and family.  Jenny will always be Aunt Jenny, and Barb will always be Mamaw to our kids.  When we talk about our family, you will always be Papaw.  You are our father not because we were born to you, but because your heart was too big to not reach out to pick up the strays and love them. 

We all love you, and we will miss you until we join you.  May the Lord bless you and Barb, and hold you in the palm of his hand.

What I will remember of Kentucky Derby 2010

No, not the celebrities, not the bad weather, not the great win by an accomplished jockey.  A drunk redneck running across the top of portapotties.  That's what I will remember.

H/T to the Courier Journal

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Coffee for a good cause

Just saw this at From My Position, On The WayGreen Beans Coffee has opened a program to let those of us back here in the States to send a cup of coffee or three to a deployed soldier.

I remember the small, anonymous "Any Soldier" packages, cards, and letters I got in Bosnia, and they are a great attitude booster.  I was going through the first stages of a divorce at the time, so mail from home was pretty much non-existent.  Getting something small from someone who didn't have to give it made a dark time in my life a lot better.  Heck, my platoon got 'adopted' by a church in Texas and we all got HUGE Easter baskets, which caused a lot of bad Beavis and Butthead impressions.  It also made about 60 men and women feel better for days.

Because of security concerns, Any Soldier packages and letters aren't allowed anymore.  Organizations like the USO let you buy a CARE package as a substitute. 

If you're so inclined, please wander over to Green Beans Send a Cup of Joe and send the gift of coffee and a message of encouragement to someone who needs it. 

I swear, I've been home all day

H/T to Van Helsing at MoonBattery.

Anyway, I may have some gray at the temples, but I'm not all white, at least not yet.

And I thought we had a soggy day

Donald Sensing over at Sense of Events has posted some pictures of the flooding in the Nashville/Clarksville area in Tennessee.  We've gotten about 3 inches here in Louisville, which made for a very sloppy Kentucky Derby today.  But at least the interstate isn't underwater.

Here's hoping that no further casualties occur.
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