Monday, January 31, 2011

Things that do not surprise me, but are in the news

I guess I'm naive, but I like the 'new' in the 'news' to mean that only things that will surprise me or I will find novel should be included in my news.  Here are a few of the things that were on the news today that my only response was "No kidding?":

  • The head of the TSA is freezing the number of airports who will use contract security instead of TSA screeners because he doesn't see much point in it.  No kidding?  A government bureaucrat is deciding to make sure that the public has no choice but to use the 'services' of his agency? 
  • Egypt's economy is tanking because foreigners are taking their tourist money and getting the heck out of Dodge.  Really?  Tourists don't like going to places where CNN is showing pictures of violent protests and riots? 
  • The mid-west and Plains states are bracing for a rather nasty blizzard which is expected to dump snow and ice over a large part of the country.  No fooling?  It's bleeding January and they're surprised that it's snowing and blowing on the plains?  
  • If a person wants to lose weight or maintain a good body mass ratio, they should eat less and exercise more.  Really?  The magic bullet for weight control is to follow your grandmother's advice of "Eat your vegetables" and "Go outside and play"?
In other news, the ocean is still wet, politicans tend to steal and lie in order to stay in office, and the sun rose this morning.

For the newsies out there, please start reporting things that we don't expect to happen, not things that can be predicted.   The rest can be filtered out and no-one will complain.

A Word of Advice

Mark Kelly, husband of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, is having to make a hard decision.  He's been up in the shuttle before, but has been slated to command the shuttle when it flies later this spring. On the other hand, his wife is recovering from a gunshot wound to the head, so she really needs him.  I'm sure he's agonizing over whether to make history or stay home to support his wife. 

Here's my take on it:

Dude, don't even consider the shuttle option. Here's what commanding the shuttle will give you:

  • A nifty patch
  • A place in the history books
  • Another notch in your badass astronaut coup stick
Here's what you will gain by staying with your wife:
  • Hopefully, her appreciation of you giving up the opportunity of a lifetime to take care of her.
  • The continued possession of half your things and full time access to your children.
  • A reputation of being a stand up guy who puts the needs of his family above his own ambitions.
  • You negate the understood risk of strapping yourself to the top of a rocket and spacecraft design that's been known to catastrophically fail at a time when your wife desperately needs you in her life.
Here's what taking the shuttle mission could cause:
  • Years of "well since I need you to do something for me, I assume you have a space mission that night" remarks
  • Half of the ballooned debt that she runs up in spite
  • Years of seeing your kids part time.
  • Years of paying child support full time
  • Moving into a condo while watching your wife put your house up for sale.
  • Watching half of your worldly possessions disappear overnight
I'm not saying that a wife would divorce her husband because he chose a space shuttle mission over caring for her during a time such as this, but I'm one percent certain that it would be brought up during the inevitable spats every couple has.  And heaven forbid they ever divorce, it's sure to be mentioned at least once or twice.

Dude, tell NASA thanks, but you need to stay home to care for your wife.  You've already been an astronaut, you're already proven to be braver than the average bear, you'll get accolades for being a caring husband, and the likelihood that you'll keep half your stuff and your kids will be improved.

No, I'm not bitter, why do you ask?

Weekend Report

Well, I have to say that this was one of the better weekends I've had lately.

Saturday afternoon, I met BRM and Wing at the Maker's Mark distillery for a tour and lunch.  The tour was really interesting, and the tasting of two different kinds of bourbon at the end was even better.  The weather was unseasonably warm and clear, so we decided to have lunch at the distilleries open air cafe.  One note on Maker's Mark:  it's an itty bitty place in the middle of the country.  If you're going, allow plenty of time for travel, and follow the directions carefully.  If you're not used to driving on little two lane roads, this will be a great way to gain experience.  That being said, the countryside in that part of Kentucky is very pretty, so the drive is pleasant if you're not in a hurry.

That evening Wing and BRM joined us and some other friends for dinner at Case De Oso.  Much good food, great conversation, and good company was enjoyed.  I was introduced to a new temptation, Van Der Hum brandy liqueur.  BRM reports that it's common in his home country of South Africa, but he has been able to find only one importer for it here in the United States.  I'm definitely going to have to ration out the bottle he left with us.

Sunday morning Irish Woman made a country cholesterol breakfast for us, and we talked for a while over coffee.  After saying our goodbyes and promising to not be strangers, Wing and BRM left to head back down south.

The afternoon was spent playing with BooBoo.  He'd been pretty good all weekend with our guests, but needed some individual attention.  I have to say that he had more energy for wrestling than I did, but Irish Woman and I were able to switch off pretty frequently, so we weren't too terribly worn out.

We're expecting some bad weather this week, and our wood bin was looking kind of empty, so I cut up about half a cord of logs and split them.  The bin is now full, so if the power takes a hit, we'll be OK.  I'm definitely going to have to spend a few weekends this spring hunting craig's list for firewood to replenish our supply.

Irish Woman and I really enjoyed having guests, and are already planning a Derby Party for May and a pool party at a friend's subdivision for July or August.  Am I becoming a social creature in my middle age?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Someone Actually Gets It

Admiral James Winnefeld, commander of the U.S. North American Air Defense Command (NORAD), appears to be both clueful and forthright.

He is, to the shock of all who will listen, proclaiming that the suicide bomb attack at Domodedovo Airport in Moscow could just as easily have happened here.  He's pointing out that, at least on the subject of international Islamic terrorism, Russia is closer to us than we all want to believe.  He wants to meet with his Russian counterparts and work with them on as much as possible.

I have to agree with the good Admiral, as much as it pains me to admit that I agree with anyone in the Navy.  We have made it more difficult to get a weapon onto an airplane, so it stands to reason that future attacks will happen on places other than airplanes.  They may go after mass transit as they did in London and Madrid, tourist areas such as Bali or Times Square, or airports like Domodedovo.  And these tactics will eventually become more common in the American homeland.

And guess what?  The Admiral is right in asserting that we have to have perfect security in order to keep nutjobs from strapping on explosives and blowing themselves and a bunch of civilians up.  We can stop most of them, but we will miss some.  Perfect security is impossible.  If they keep throwing the balls at the basket, we will eventually have one go in.  The questions for us are:

  1. How much liberty are we willing to sacrifice in order to have "better" security, knowing that no matter how hard we try, eventually someone will succeed?
  2. How are we going to react when eventually Ahmed bin BadGuy succeeds in blowing up the petting zoo on field trip day?
As to Russia being a partner in the fight against Islamic terrorism, I can't agree more heartily.  Let's agree for a moment that Russia is at best a fledgling democracy, and has a long way to go in the department of freedom and individual rights.  But they have also been absorbing terror attacks for at least as long as we have.  Russia has expertise and the will to use it.  They also have great influence in the central Asian republics, which we depend on for support in our fight in Afghanistan.

It is refreshing for someone in the government to be honest about the real threats that we face, and to be willing to reach beyond the rut we have worked ourselves into to look for new partners in the struggle against Islamic terrorism.  I just hope that those in power who don't want the unspeakable to be spoken don't slap him down.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Your WTF for Today

H/T to Blackfive and Big Peace for this one.

The city of Fayetteville, NC, which is the town next to Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base, is planning a big festival to celebrate veterans of the Vietnam war.  Admirable, if a bit late. The vets,who weren't exactly treated well when they came home, certainly deserve it.

Fort Bragg and Pope AFB, for those not familiar with them, are home to the 82nd Airborne Division, the XVIII Airborne Corps, and the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, as well as several other units.  These units, and Bragg itself, have a long history of being the first into the fire for our country.  Bragg has been 'home' to a lot of soldiers who have gone to fight our wars since the First World War, including Vietnam, so I can see why the town fathers would want to hold a celebration of the Vietnam vets.

The mayor of Fayetteville, however, seems to have forgotten to take his medicine lately.  He's inviting members of Quaker House, an organization that vigorously protested the Vietnam War, to participate in the festivities.  Quaker House, who I must point out had every right to protest the war itself, but seems to have chosen to include protesting the troops involved in the war, plans to not only attend, but also to show several anti-war films to the crowds.  Just what a group of aging veterans want to see and remember, films of Jane Fonda sitting on anti-aircraft guns that shoot at our planes and consorting with the soldiers that our troops were fighting.


Someone in Fayetteville needs to spend a little time with their mayor and remind him why his little city isn't even more of a jerkwater than it already is.   It's a craphole that was only saved from oblivion because Presidents Wilson and Roosevelt used placement of Army posts as a way to lift up depressed economic areas.  Read "We can't get anything useful out of this area, let's use it to train people to blow stuff up!".

The veterans he's dishonoring by inviting those who questioned their honor kept his little flyspeck of a cesspool from blowing away back in the day. Our currently serving troopers continue to support his little enclave of pawn shops, strip joints, and tattoo parlors by living in what amounts to off post housing and buying their groceries from the good citizens of Fayetteville.    Maybe he ought to show a little more respect and thankfulness to those who pay his salary and keep his children safe at night.

Deep breath.....  OK

If Quaker House has the bad taste to show up, then I hope that the gathered vets and their families give them the treatment the deserve:  a respectful view of their backs as they are completely ignored.  Don't give them even the satisfaction of acknowledging their existence.  And maybe that should go double for Mayor Chavonne.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Overheard in the Living Room

Irish Woman, pointing to the Backyardigans on TV:  What is that they're singing?  Is that a hymn?
DaddyBear, only half listening:  Dear, it's a cartoon hippo.  How am I supposed to know if it's a her or a him?  Does it have nipples?

Mental note, when the wife initiates communications, pay attention!

Thought for the day

Dear Apple Iphone Programmer,

This afternoon, as I was driving home, the following playlist came up while listening to music on 'shuffle' on your device:

  1. Metallica, Enter Sandman (Sweet!)
  2. Guns and Roses, Paradise City (Rock on!)
  3. Pearl Jam, Jeremy (All Right!)
  4. Slash - Something off the new album that made my windows vibrate
  5. Ozzy Osbourne, Crazy Train (AHAHAHAHAHA!)
  6. Jimmi Hendrix, All Along the Watchtower (SWEET!)
  7. AC/DC, Shoot to Thrill (ALL RIGHT!)
  8. Metallica, Wherever I May Roam (GRAAAHHHHH!)

And then just as I was about to start banging my head and smashing my fist against the headliner of the van, the following pieces of 'music' came up:

  1. The Jonas Brothers - Something whiny
  2. Miley Cyrus - Something grating
  3. High School Musical - What the !@#$!@#!@#$?

Luckily, I was able to fast forward through all of that dreck.

OK, children, listen up.  If I am listening to a shuffled music library, and I turn up the volume and don't fast forward through any songs, that means I like what your little piece of electronics is doing.  That does not mean stop playing stuff that rocks to switch to stuff that makes me want to drive into a concrete barrier.  If IOS doesn't handle that kind of logic, then fix it.  Code, monkey, code!


Robb Allen has it.  He also makes a good point.

The ATF is expected to restrict the importation and sale of such guns as the Saiga shotgun today, due to a perceived notion of whether or not it has a "sporting purpose".  While there is an argument that if such firearms are manufactured domestically the ATF won't be able to do this, I still have problems with a government agency capriciously deciding that something becomes illegal because a subjective determination is made without congressional action.  And who's to say that even if someone gets the patent and starts making them domestically, the ATF won't come up with another administrative roadblock to stop them?

The net effect of this action, if it unfolds as expected, will be to make sure that there are no Saiga-like shotguns on the market by the time the ATF steps up to the mike, and all of those who own one will immediately see their value go up.

Personally, I hope that this is a head fake on the part of the ATF, and their announcement is not what is expected.  But then, I'm a starry eyed optimist sometimes.

For the record, I don't own a Saiga.  I like my Mossberg, and will probably continue to buy from that manufacturer.  But those who want to have these firearms, which are legal as I type this and may very well not be by the time I come home from work tonight, have the right to do so without government interference.    If this goes down as expected, then letters to my senators and congressman will be in order, and I suggest you do the same.  Robb uses hyperbole, but I agree with him in that if the government is allowed to infringe on one right by fiat, then they will try to infringe on all of them.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Never Smile at a Crocodile

Or stretch your arm out over its enclosure to take a cell phone picture apparently.

A young woman in Ukraine tried to take a picture of the crocodiles in her local zoo when she accidentally dropped her cell phone into the reptile's pond.  The animals of course swallowed the fool thing, and now doctors are considering how to get it out of the alligator's digestive tract.

This is a good lesson for why you should always back up your data and have a lock on your cell phone.  You never know when it's going to be eaten by a predator, and who knows how many minutes are being eaten up in this situation.

Apparently, the phone is still in working condition, since doctors can still hear it ring occasionally.  Part of me wants to know what brand of phone it was that it can take a dunking in water, being swallowed by a bloody great crocodile, and survive in its stomach for a couple of weeks.  My kids can destroy a cell phone with a wet towel.

Hopefully the phone will work its way out and the vets won't have to take the extraordinary step of doing surgery on a large, carnivorous reptile to get it out.  On the other hand, how many vets can say they've done thoracic surgery on a crocodile?

Chicken Chili Recipe


1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 large white onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled, squished, and diced
Olive oil
2 cups of beef broth, canned or homemade.  A 12 oz bottle of dark beer can be substituted.
2 cans mild chili beans (My brand uses white beans, but whatever kind you like)
2 cans hot chili beans (My brand uses pinto beans, but whatever kind you like)
2 small or one large can tomato paste
2 16 oz cans of diced tomatoes or 4 large fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced.  I used the canned variety that has jalapeno's in it for extra flavor.
2 16 oz cans of tomato sauce
1/4 cup of your favorite chili powder
1/8 cup of crushed red pepper flakes
5 dry Thai hot chilis, stemmed and crushed with the seeds

In a large saute pan, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom until hot.  Add the garlic and onion and saute until the onion is soft and transparent.  Add the chicken and saute until the chicken is browned.

Scoop the chicken and onions into a large crock pot or stew pot.  Pour the broth into the saute pan and deglaze all the crispy bits off of the pan.  Add broth and bits to pot with chicken.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and put on medium heat.  Adjust the type and amount of chilis you use to moderate the heat.

Stir occasionally and allow to cook for 4 to 12 hours, depending on your time budget.

Serve with cornbread, rice, pasta, or whatever floats your boat.  Makes enough to feed a platoon of grown men, or 4 Norwegians and an Irish Woman.  Makes enough leftovers for several lunches.

Adventurous or resourceful cooks will soak the pinto and white beans overnight and cook them the way nature intended, but using canned beans saves a bit of time and the spices in the canned variety add flavor.  Remember to add more spice if you go the old fashioned route.

Thought for the day

A brand new ceramic knife is sharp enough to cut the tip of your left thumb off without it hurting.

Second Thought of the day - Onion juice really hurts in a deep cut.  That's how I knew I'd cut myself.  Once I rinsed it out, it stopped hurting completely.

It's a good thing I know how to do a compression dressing one handed.  On the plus side, that's a good sharp knife.  I'm sold.

Overheard in the Living Room

DB - No, Boo.  Koshka kitty doesn't want to go outside and play in the snow.  Now put her down before she disembowels you.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Making a Good Impression

A couple of months after Junior Bear was born, I was sent away for training.  During my absence, his mother's mom and aunt came over to Germany for a couple of weeks.  They helped her out with the baby and saw some of the sights in southern Germany.

After I got back, I had a few days off, so we decided to take a train to the Black Forest.  So we all trundled down to the Bahnhof in Augsburg to catch a fast train.  Our fast train led to a semi-fast train, then a slow train, then a train one step up from the kind with two men working a lever to move it along.  Think "The Little Engine That Could" with a crying infant.  I'm pretty sure we rode on an example of each and every kind of train the German train system had to offer that evening.

We got into the little village my ex had decided to visit at about 2 AM.  The bed and breakfast she had reservations at was about a block from the train station, so we walked down.  Imagine a tall man pushing a baby carriage and wearing a humongous backpack, a short woman carrying a diaper bag, and two middle-aged women pulling along their own luggage.   Looking back, we must have looked like refugees looking for a place to flop.

The owner of the B& B had stayed up waiting for us, and made sure we were settled in before going to bed herself.  We got through the night OK, but Junior was over stimulated and cranky, which meant we didn't get a lot of sleep. Since the inn was someone's home, it's a safe assumption that a lot of other people didn't either.

Next morning, after feeding the baby, we went downstairs for a good German breakfast of cheese, bread, pastries, sausage, and tea.  The females, none of whom spoke much German or know a lot about German cuisine, didn't understand that this was a pretty good spread, and wasted much time talking about the food instead of eating it.  I tucked in like it was my last meal.   I'd lived on chow hall food and MRE's for a month.  This was manna from heaven.

The rest of the day was spent pushing the baby around while the ex and the in-laws searched for the cuckoo clocks of their dreams.  I had a good time taking care of Junior.  His mom had been a single parent most of the time I was gone, so no grudge there.  Lunch was at a little restaurant in the tourist area, so the food was good, but not huge.

After acquiring their cuckoo clocks and getting their pictures taken in front of every ornate house we saw, we retired to a restaurant across from our little inn for dinner.  Since our other two meals were on the small side, and we'd trekked up and down the square looking at ornate carved thingamabobs all day, we were all starving.   Junior, having been carted all over heck and back that day and been given a good warm bottle for dinner, was already asleep in the pram, so the adults were able to enjoy our dinner without interruption.

The restaurant was serving neuwein, which is a weakly alcoholic, very sweet wine that goes down like good soda pop.  My lightweight self drank almost an entire caraffe by myself as we had an appetizer and drinks before ordering.  By the time the waitress came around to get our dinner orders, I was feeling pretty warm and happy.  Not drunk, but definitely very relaxed and social.

We looked over the menu, with me providing translation service to the two ladies and my ex-wife.  They all settled on pretty basic German cuisine like schnitzel or chicken dishes, but I wanted something new.  I saw something called "Reh Ragu".  I couldn't remember what a "Reh" was, but deduced that the dish was pieces of "Reh" served in a spiced tomato sauce over spaetzle.  After the women had ordered their dinners, I asked about the "Reh Ragu".  The waitress had limited English, but explained in German that it was a game animal that lived in the forest.  I started down the list of animals I knew from high school German.

"Hase (hare)?"
"Kaninchen (bunny)?"
"Schwein (pig)?"
"Hirsch (deer)?"
"Nein, kleiner, wie Bambi!" (No, smaller, like Bambi!"

Reh, apparently, is one of the names for what we call roe deer.  These diminutive herbivores do indeed live in the Black Forest, and I remembered one of my sergeants talk about hunting them like they were rabbits.  Since I was a little tipsy, and wanted something new, I nodded emphatically and ordered Bambi in a red sauce over noodles.

Turning around, I met six very wide, very shocked eyes.  Apparently, even though they didn't speak much German, they had heard me order Bambi.  I picked up my glass of wine and made a toast to being adventurous.

Conversation continued until our meals came out.   At the sight of a large plate of homemade noodles with a wonderful meaty sauce on them, my dinner companions avoided my glance and concentrated on their own dinner.  I ate with gusto, practically licking the plate clean while I drank neuwein like the antidote was in it.  It was one of the best meals I have ever had.

To this day, I always say that I made the best impression I could have ever made on my ex's family by having the guts to order  a plate of Bambi in front of them.  To this day, my ex-mother-in-law, who I still regard as a wonderful and gracious woman, talks about the night I ate Bambi.

This Could be Sweet

Betelgeuse, a star named after a character in a Michael Keaton movie,* seems to be in its death throes.  Scientists predict that when it blows, it will be a very bright light in our sky, even as bright as a full moon for a period of time.

This could be very sweet.  Imagine being able to walk back to the hunting stand in thick woods without a flashlight if there are no clouds.  Or being able to read the bloody map/owner's manual/treasure map without ruining your night vision.  Don't want to do the yard work during the heat of the day?  Then do it at night by the light of the distant burning star!  Feral hogs gone nocturnal on you?  No problem.  Get some tritium open sights or an illuminated scope, and you're good to go.  No night vision goggles needed!

Yeah, this could have a lot of plusses.

Say it with me now:  Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse......

*Yes, I know, I know, the character was named after the star, not the other way around.  It's a joke.  Feel free to laugh.  I'll wait.

Taking it a bit far

Recently, while trying to give some reality to their studies of the World War II Battle of Britain, administrators of a school in England told the children that London was being bombed, took them to an air raid shelter, and set off fireworks to make the children believe that they were being attacked.

Now, I grew up next to SAC bases.  Bombers flew over my school all the time, and my best friend's farm backed up to the missile fields.  We knew that if the balloon went up, we were all toasted cheese.  We went through regular and frequent "civil defense" drills, some announced, some unannounced.  Basically, they taught us to all get into the basement cafeteria/fallout shelter in the event that the Soviets and the Americans ever came to blows.  Even to an elementary school kid, they were sobering reminders that the world is a dangerous place, and the only way to survive was to go down to the lunchroom and sing "This Little Light of Mine" with the 1st graders until the principal re-opened the 3 foot thick concrete and steel doors and let us out to swing on the monkey bars.

But even the unannounced drills didn't include authority figures telling us that Washington was a smoking hole and that we were under actual attack.

I love history.  I want my children to love it and learn it as much as or more than I do.  But I don't want them to have their wits scared out of them. There are better ways to bring the reality of history to a young person.

If these educators want their students to learn something, why not re-enact the manner in which Londoners sought shelter during the Blitz?  Go to London and sleep in the subway stations.  Trust me, they'll learn more from one night in the Picadilly Square tube station than they will crying softly in the dark thinking that their families are dead.  You might not like what they learn, but trust me, it'll be educational.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

An Open Letter to Kentucky People

Dear Kentucky People,

Let's all take a deep breath here.  In..... and out.  Feel better? Repeat that if you want to.

OK, now that we've all stopped hyperventilating, let's get some perspective here.

It's January, and it's going to snow today.  Qel Surpris!  We're going to get a not insignificant amount, but it's not the end of the world.  No-one is going to drown in the white horror, and glaciers are not pushing their way through Indiana on their way to hit the Ohio River.  If we all keep our heads and look out for those of us who are less fortunate, no-one is going to die.

Here are a couple of tips:

  • Slow the hell down.  Yes, you've got four wheel drive, but that means precisely diddly over squat on snow and ice.  
  • Drive courteously.  Yes, I see the big number 8 decal on your back window.  I know that you fantasize about being a NASCAR driver when you grow up. Today is not that day.  Quit tailgating the school bus, cutting off the little old ladies, and driving up the median/shoulder when traffic slows down.
  • Dress properly.  Yes, you're smoking hot in those low-rise jeans and crop top. You have great abs and men have a hard time not looking down your shirt.  But it's not August.  Put on a couple more layers.  You can still look good in boots, jeans, and a sweater.  Trust me.  I lusted after many young ladies in the winter when I lived in North Dakota.
  • Learn how to shovel some darn snow.  Yes, you bought that Acme brand Ultra Snow and Ice Destroyer.  That crackling sound you hear when that stuff gets wet is your $15,000 aggregate driveway dissolving.   Also, that stuff probably melts the ice and snow great when it's 29 degrees out, but won't stop the resulting water from re-freezing when it dips down to 15 degrees at night.  Good luck driving down that hockey rink.  Get yourself a $20 grain shovel and a broom, scrape the snow off your porch, driveway, and sidewalk, then use the broom to brush off what's left.  You may have to do this a couple of times, but you need the exercise.  If you've got a kid living with you that's old enough to push a lawn mower, they can push snow too.  Builds character.  And for heaven's sake, unless we get 3 to 6 feet of snow instead of the 3 to 6 inches we're projected to get, you do not need the Binford 4000 Fuel Injected V8 snow blower. 
  • Check on your neighbors, both old and young.  Times are tough.  People are turning down their thermostats in an effort to save a few dollars.  Sometimes they go too far.  Walk over to the homes near you and see how folks are doing. If it seems chilly in their home, ask them over for dinner or a cup of coffee.  The warm up will do them good and you probably need the company.
  • Either send that teenager over to shovel some snow for the older neighbors or do it yourself.  They lived through the hard times of the Depression, World War II, Woodstock, and the Carter administration.  They deserve better than to die of a heart attack clearing off their driveway.
  • And finally, for the weather and news people on the TV and radio, please stop scaring the hell out of the Kentucky people.  I know, good news or non-dire predictions don't grab eyeballs and ratings, but you're freaking out the herd.  Kroger was Lord of the Flies last night.  Schools are being closed because of a couple of inches of snow.  Stop sensationalizing normal winter weather.  What you people hype as "The Great Blizzard of 1994" is what we called Wednesday back home.  Get some perspective.

Now, if we all stop, think, and act rationally for the next day or so, this is going to be fun.  Please don't make it worse than it needs to be.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Borepatch has a good post up about the controversy over something that TJIC put up on his blog.  TJIC made a joke in poor taste, the local police read it, over-reacted, and took away his license to own a gun.  Glossing over the fact that he needed such a license in the first place, let's examine the free speech angle here:

A citizen of the United States, exercising his constitutionally guaranteed right to say things that other people find objectionable, is penalized by his local government for saying them, and is deprived of his right to keep and bear arms.  Yes, the joke was disrespectful, but the Bill of Rights was put in place to protect our rights, especially when we exercise them in a way that is objected to.

If you make a joke about speeding on I-64 in Louisville, LMPD doesn't come along and impound your car.  If you joke about voting for Mickey Mouse because the slate of candidates you are presented with sucks, they don't take away your right to vote.

But because TJIC said something the locals didn't cotton to, he got his guns taken away.

I'm passing this on because the more hell we raise, the more sunshine we shine on these cockroaches, the better off we all are.

If one of us is attacked, we are all attacked.  If one of us loses our rights, we all lose our rights.

I am TJIC.

Today's Earworm

Presented without comment:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


As you can see from the blog roll on the left, I read a lot of stuff.  Through the magic of Google Reader, my goofing off is very efficient.  I try to add everyone who comments here to my blog roll.  Hey, if you're willing to come here, read my meanderings, and add your own thoughts, you deserve a little free advertising.

If you're reading the blog, follow it, or blog roll me and you're not on the blogroll, drop me a note here and we'll get that corrected.

Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK Day Remembrance

Today we commemorate the birth of Reverand Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr

Since our birthdays are so close together and I'm a history buff, I've always been interested in the life and ideas of MLK and have admired him as a man and leader.  He was no saint. He was not a messiah.  He was a man, broken and flawed, but in a lot of ways a better man than I have become.  I may not agree with everything he said nor every stand he took, but he at least had the courage to stand up for what he believed and take the beating that those beliefs might bring.

I believe that due at least in part to his life's work, even though we still have a long way to go, the racial problem of our country is closer to a solution than it was when he began his work in the early 1950's.  He kept enough of a lid on the parts of the civil rights movement that wanted to break out in armed revolution, and was able to hold enough feet to the fire that major strides were made in our nation's search for equality. 

I listened to several of his speeches today.  Here are two of his more famous speeches, but I urge you to seek out his others, especially the ones you will disagree with, and give them a listen. They are a window on a time where "civil discourse" could still be found with the progressive left and a man who could make an argument without it becoming an attack. He could discuss why he opposed the Vietnam War without making it into an attack on the soldiers fighting it.  He could speak out for the poor without calling for the destruction of the rich.

Why didn't I write this?

Don Surber hits one out of the park, out of the parking lot, and out of the county.

Sometimes you read things that sound so right you just can't imagine why you didn't think to write them yourself.

Today's Thought

The deer bow-hunting season here in Kentucky ends tomorrow.  It runs pretty much non-stop from late September until mid-January.  During the season, when I was able to get out to the woods, I saw precisely three deer, only one of which I could have gotten a legal shot at.  Of course, that doe ran off before I could bring my gun to bear.

Occasionally, I would see small groups of deer here and there as I drove around. Luckily none of them tried to play chicken with my car again.

This morning, the day before bow season closes, and knowing full well that I will not be able to get out to the woods before hunting light ends this afternoon, I saw two groups of no less than 20 does apiece in fields near my home.  While driving the interstate to the office, I saw between 5 and 10 other deer in pairs or singly, including one buck that had a big enough rack to make a grown man stare.

My question is this:  Who gave the deer a bloody calendar so they'd know when it's safe to come out?

Birthday Presents

For my 10th birthday, I got a Flexible Flyer sled.

For my 20th birthday, I got Operation Desert Shield and 100 extra pushups.  (Thanks Uncle George!)

For my 30th birthday, one of my buddies in the 101st Airborne arranged for me to fly as cargo in the co-pilot's seat of an Apache gunship.

I wonder what's going to happen today?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Aw, Hell No!

Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York and noted Toole, has decided to try and get the Army to act as a stooge for the ATF.

"After Jared Loughner was interviewed by the military, he was rejected from the Army because of excessive drug use. Now, by law, by law that's on the books, he should not have been allowed to buy a gun," Schumer told NBC's "Meet the Press."
"But the law doesn't require the military to notify the FBI about that, and in this case they didn't. So I --this morning -- I'm writing the administration and urging that that be done, that the military notify the FBI when someone is rejected from the military for excessive drug use and that be added to the FBI database," Schumer said.
So basically, Chuckie wants military recruiters to inform on prospective recruits if they admit to drug use so that they can be deprived of their constitutional right to keep and bear arms.  This is to be used to feed the list of people who can't have a gun.  In this instance they would be put on it without a trial, adjudication, or whatever.  If a recruiter made the subjective decision to reject someone due to an unacceptable amount of drug use in the past, they would lose a constitutionally protected right.

You see, when someone who wants to join our military talks to a recruiter and they get to the point they're filling out paperwork, a series of questions is asked. When I went in, among a lot of others, were such things as:

Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?
Are you now or have you ever been a homosexual?
Do you now or have you ever used an illegal drug?

The Army uses these questions to weed out recruits who, in the eyes of military leadership, shouldn't be in uniform.  The Communist question went away a few years after the Berlin Wall went away.  I imagine that if the homosexual question is still asked its days are numbered.

If Congress and the ATF pressure DOD to inform on their own recruits, then I say they stop asking the drug question.  Anyone who has been using in the months prior to recruitment will be caught out when they take a drug test anyway.  

Chuckles, I'm going to explain this to you, and I'll try to use small words, but I'll provide links to any advanced concepts:

Two words:  Posse Comitatis.  The United States Military is not now, nor has it been for a century and a half, a police force charged with enforcing the laws of the land on the civilian population.  If Congress and the courts want to exclude drug users from buying a gun from a licensed gun dealer, so be it. But soldiers are not policemen.  The job of a military recruiter is to find young people who have the potential to make good service members and convince them to join up.  They are not there to watch out for people who use drugs and inform a law enforcement agency.  If they start doing this, I expect that even kids who are squeaky clean will stop walking down to the recruiter office.

Senator Schumer, I suggest that before you start using the blood of American citizens to further your agenda, you figure out if what you want to do is legal, and whether it actually makes sense.  Is it worth making every recruiter who comes to a high school into a narcotics officer in order to keep people from buying a gun?

An Apology

To the nice, deeply Christian family that sat next to us at the McDonald's playland today, I am so deeply sorry for scaring the wits out of you during your post-church McNuggets.

You see, my son, the young, brash, and loving BooBoo, had crawled behind the video game system that McDonalds had put in the play area and was fiddling with the electrical outlet.  He has been repeatedly warned to not mess with these things, but for some reason is still fascinated with the domesticated lightning receptacles.

I do not like to use my command voice to address him, but since he was outside of my immediate reach and doing something dangerous, I was forced to.  As a semi-experienced father, I felt it was necessary to project my displeasure with his behavior in a way that not only stopped him from either electrocuting himself or destroying the video game, but also did so instantaneously. Please note that as I was vocalizing, I was rising from my seat and was headed over to physically interact with him.

I appreciate that you accepted my immediate apology once I returned to our table, but I want to point out that I did not actually shout.  What I did was to contract the bottom of my diaphragm in order to provide a short, focused burst of air through my windpipe, manipulate the muscles in my throat to bring my voice down about an octave and a half, and engaged the language center of my brain to select the proper monosyllabic commands that a two-year-old would understand to mean "Stop trying to kill yourself and destroy property".  The result of all of these preparations was a short, sharp, well-aimed command that my son responded to very quickly.  A shout is a general exclamation, usually emotional, that I have found to be ineffective.

Again, please accept my apologies.  If either of you should ever want to learn how to project your voice without it being a whining keen, please feel free to contact me.  I give the first few lessons in command voice and "The Look" for free.

A little light reading

If you're looking for something to fill up your reading list this weekend, might I suggest "Tanya:  Princess of the Elves" by Larry Correia?  It's a tale of growing up, pushing boundaries, and shooting things.

Here's a sample:

There was a knock on the back door of the van. There were many humans present not worthy to witness urkperfection, so Edward reached for his mask and goggles. He didn’t get to them in time before the door was flung open.
It was a girl. She saw his face and screamed. He saw her pointy ears and bellowed in surprise.
The elf regained her composure first. “Orc! Your Hunter masters need you. I summon you to battle!” Confused, Edward lifted his ax and pointed at himself, then at her. “No!” the elf shrieked. “Not me! The monster. Go battle the monster!”
His first inclination was to just lop off her peroxide-colored head. The clan ancestors had always taught that the only good elf was a dead elf (and also, coincidently, that dead elves made great holiday decorations), but Edward hesitated, because he did not want to upset the Harb Anger. Edward had never actually seen an elf before. He didn't know if any of his clan had. This one was kind of scrawny. Not very impressive at all, really.
“Come on, what are you waiting for?” She moved her hands about like she was trying to shoo him out of the van. “You guys are supposed to go berserk with blood lust. You call that berserk? You’re just sitting there. Are you going to go into a killing frenzy or not?”
That was the idea before you showed up. He put on his mask and reluctantly got out of the van.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Today's Earworm

Mega H/T to Robert over at BlackFork for this one!  Enjoy!

Low and Slow

LabRat has a wonderful post about how the parts of the chicken that most people don't want to eat, the skin, bones, and thigh meat, make the best food.

I couldn't agree more.  The best food in our collective menu here in the U.S., such as chili, barbecue, chicken soup, are best made with the lowest cuts of meat.  What all of these have in common is that they started out as the food that poorer members of society made, and they are all cooked slowly.

A lot of people I know are hooked on food that is either processed until it's no longer directly related to its base ingredients, restaurant carryout or fast food, or things that can be whipped up in a few minutes.  Of the three, the last tastes the best, but foods that cook quickly tend to dry out unless loaded down with added fats or heavy sauces.

That's one of the reasons I love my crockpot.  I can take inexpensive meat, spices, and liquid and make a delicious, nutritious, moist meal while I'm at work.  The best food is cooked slow.

  • Take picked over chicken, turkey, duck, or whatever-poultry-hits-the-pot bones and spiced water, simmer for 8 hours in a crock pot, add some vegetables and you've got the best soup you've ever had.
  • Take some hamburger made from the least edible parts of the cow the government will allow on the market, add some spices, chilis, tomatoes, and beans (yes, I know, this is a religious statement), leave in the crockpot for a day, and you've got chili
  • Take the above, leave out the beans and change some of your spice combination, and you've got the best spaghetti sauce you've ever had.
  • Take the cheap parts of a cow or a pig, soak in a brine for a day or so, rub with a collection of your favorite spices, then smoke them for-freaking-ever with hardwood and your favorite honey, mustard, or tomato based sauce and you've got the food of the gods.
  • Put an inexpensive beef or pork roast in a crockpot with carrots, onions, garlic, and potatoes, add some liquid, and your dinner is waiting for when you get home.

All of this food is the same kind of cuisine your grandmothers made way back when.  Labor saving devices like ready made food, microwaves, and steamer bags are a heck of a lot more work than chopping up your favorite ingredients, throwing them in a pot with a bay leaf and some salt, and letting them simmer all day long while you do something else.

Many thanks to LabRat, Stingray, and everyone else who posts recipes for making good food on their sites!

Thought for the day

If you normally drink at most two beers a week, drinking three glasses of good wine with dinner and two glasses of limoncello with dessert is probably not a smart idea.  Damn, I'm a lightweight.  Where's the Tylenol?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Quote of the Day

It was the proudest moment of my life, second only to the birth of one of my twins - Adam Corolla, In Fifty Years, We'll All Be Chicks

I'm about halfway through this book of giggles and snorts, and I'll be doing a full review when I'm done.

One warning - If you're not offended by at least one thing in this book, read it again.  You missed something.


OK, if you're doing the horizontal mambo with a lady and you don't realize she's dead, you're doing it wrong.

One of three things is going on here:

  1. This guy is a sick bastard who shouldn't be allowed out among normal people.
  2. This guy doesn't know that your partner should at least occasionally move, make noise, or at least breathe.
  3. This guys was too drunk/stoned/stupid to tell the difference between a living breathing woman and a corpse.

Good gravy, I hope this bluntskull hasn't procreated.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I Triple Dog Dare You!

If putting crosshairs over states on a poster promotes political violence, then this story can be used to accuse Ted Turner of promoting harm to children with his "24 Hours of Christmas Story".

Firefighters poured water over his tongue to help free the boy. Apparently, the boy had risen to the challenge from his older brother while they were waiting for the school bus.
OK, Sherman, set the wayback machine to North Hill Elementary in Minot North Dakota, any school day in January, 1978.  At any given moment during recess, there was a kid with a tongue stuck to the metal piping that made up the swingset, the monkey bars, or the merry-go-round.  Minot got  brass monkey cold that winter, and we pretty much used the opportunity to prove we were tougher than the other members of our Lord of the Flies society.  Such challenges as walking barefoot across the playground, giving your coat to the fastest kid in class and chasing him to get it back, or sticking your tongue to exposed metal were common.  Of course, touching a wet tongue to bare metal in -20F weather instantly seals the mouth to the monkey bars.  Normal children would take off their mittens and use their fingers to slowly melt/pry their tongues loose.  Of course, real men, also known as dumbasses, would just tear their head loose.  Yeah, you'd bleed like a stuck pig, but for the rest of recess, you'd be The Man.

Needless to say, a DNA sample of the tissue frozen to these metal bars would show that a young Norwegian kid who would grow up to be DaddyBear was The Man more often than most.  Additionally, I walked barefoot through the snow often enough that whenever it gets well and truly cold my feet instantly go numb.  I never said I was smart. 

Remember of course, that Christmas Story didn't come out until 1983.  Children, especially boys, will do stupid crap no matter what.  It's part of growing up.  I'm sure that in Kenya there are groups of boys right now playing "Rochambeau the Lion".  Kids in India must have something close to "Smack the Cobra".   Those who survive make the species stronger.

Good For Him

Ted Williams, the homeless man who has become a semi-sensation after a reporter recorded him using his 'radio voice', has decided to enter rehab for alcohol and drugs. 

Good for him.

From some of the articles I've read about him and the family he left behind for his life as a drug and alcohol addict, he needs it.  Hopefully he will be able to find ways to deal with both his addiction and his reasons for turning to drugs and alcohol in the first place.

I've seen a lot of people, both in my personal life and in the news, who have gone into treatment after being caught out of bounds while under the influence.  It is exceedingly rare for someone to seek out treatment when things are going as well as they are for Mr. Williams.  Yes, his adult life up this point has been a trainwreck, but if he takes the assistance that is being offered and stays clean, he may be able to make a better life for himself and possibly help others.

Good luck to him.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thought for the day

Going to bed with a slight tension headache, waking up with a bad tension headache, and having a full blown, lay-down-before-you-fall-down headache by the time you're out of the shower does not tend to make a good Wednesday.

I'm just now starting to feel human again.  How people who have migraines all the time stay functional is beyond me.  Thank the Lord for aspirin, caffeine, and rest.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Someone Bring Me The Clue Wrench

One of our Kentucky legislators has apparently run out of things to do.  She wants parents whose children will be visiting the Capitol Building on school trips to sign slips acknowledging that there may be guns there.  She's worried that a shooting like the one in Tucson may happen around all of the politicians in Frankfort, and she wants parents to worry even more about their children.

I've got news for Representative Marzian:  Children from Kentucky are in places that have guns in them all the time.  Every time they see a police officer, he has a gun.  Every time they go to the mall, there are CCW holders or open carriers there too.  I'd bet that everywhere in the Commonwealth that isn't specifically spelled out in law as being off limits to firearms has someone, sometime, carrying a gun in it.

Here's a clue:  All of the children at the mall in Louisville, specifically the Apple Store, The Disney Store, Dicks Sporting Goods, and Panera Bread, last Friday afternoon were around a a gun.  At least one of the people carrying a gun made goo-goo eyes at a cute baby, chatted with a store clerk about the Toy Story franchise, and looked at workout clothes without negatively impacting the little children.  That evil revolver just sat in its holster and didn't jump out and run amuck, and neither did the gun's owner.

So before Representative Marzian tries to freak out the sheep in Kentucky, she should apply just a tad of common sense.  Children are safely exposed to guns, both concealed and openly carried, every day and their little psyches aren't bruised.  And all of those people carrying guns seem to have acted like grown-ups up until now.  Don't add one more reason for non-gun people to fear hand-crafted lumps of metal.

Snow Day Tuesday Update

Well, they called school in Louisville three hours prior to the first snowflake falling, but we got about 3 inches of snow this morning.  Guess I'll give the school administration a pass on this one.

I've been indulging Girlie Bear and BooBoo with movies and TV today.  Girlie Bear did have some homework, so she's doing that now that Boo's down for his nap.  Guess I'm not indulgoDad after all.

I've spent the morning drafting a PERL script over our VPN in vi.  Haven't done that in a while.  I didn't realize how spoiled I've become with graphical editors.

The wind is picking up, so I'll probably see some actual drifting of the snow.  It's cold enough that it's breaking up into sugar snow as the wind drives it.  Good sledding snow if we get enough of it.  Not so good for snowmen or snow balls.  If school is called again tomorrow, I may just take a personal day, bundle up the kinder and take them sledding at the park.

Dinner tonight will be another whooped together pot roast.  Beef roast, chopped onion, half a bag of russet potatoes, one Sam Adams Winter Porter, a can of beef broth, and a two pound bag of baby carrots in the crock pot on high for 8 hours.  Just what the doctor ordered on a cold and snowy day.

Tonight's entertainment will be a cheery fire, a cup of cocoa, and watching the cable guy come out to replace the digital cable box that got fried when we had our power issue last week.  What a rocking, swinging life I lead!

If you're snowed in, rained in, or flooding, stay safe.  I'm gonna go cuss at my xterm emulator some more.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Impressions on the Tucson Shooting

I've had a hard time with the way the Tucson shooting is being used in the media, both conservative and liberal, to wave the bloody shirt at the other side.  The shooter seems to have been an equal opportunity whack job.

Tam does a good job dressing down those who immediately assume that the perpetrator is someone from the opposite side of any issue.

Deebow over at Blackfive does excellent work in arguing that political speech didn't make the troglodyte who shot a Congresswoman in the head and then spray a crowd.

As for me, I want to see the wounded healed, the dead buried and mourned, the families comforted, and the monster who did this prosecuted.  If there was a larger conspiracy, I want it tracked down and obliterated.  But I refuse to blame anyone other than the man who pulled the trigger for the death and suffering he caused.

Part of the responsibility entailed in adulthood is taking responsibility for your actions, and holding others responsible for theirs.  Nowhere in there does it say you get to blame a third party in order to score political points.

An open letter to Andrew Wakefield

Dear Intellectually Dishonest Jackhole,

I would like to thank you for the last decade of self doubt and recrimination.

My oldest son was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome in 2001.  Like parents everywhere who are faced with an autistic child, even one who is as high functioning as Junior Bear, his mother and I looked for a cause of the issue, partly to try to prevent it from happening to the other children, but also to examine our own actions.  I have walked around for the better part of a decade blaming myself for insisting that Junior get each and every inoculation that is recommended for children.  When he was born in 1992, I followed the directions of our pediatrician, and let her give him four and six shots in one day in order to keep current with all of his vaccinations.

When Junior was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder his mother, my ex-wife, immediately deflected all blame onto me, and I accepted it.  I put up with a lot of behavior from Junior that may or not be related to Asperger's at least in part because I blamed myself.  If vaccinations were to blame for at least some cases of autism, then I had to take that hit.

When my other children needed vaccinations, I spaced them out, and limited them to those shots that are required by law.  While we were never behind on vaccinations, this spacing out put gaps in the protection that vaccinations were designed to give.  This added a small risk of preventable disease to our children.  I was not wholly convinced that vaccines would cause autism, but I was being cautious to a fault in order to minimize any risk of autism.  Luckily, my children were not afflicted by the preventable childhood diseases, but thousands of other children were not so lucky.

A couple of years ago, your theory about the link between vaccinations and autism was called into question, but it was more of a methods and conclusion quibble.  I was still careful due to my fear of making the same mistake twice and possibly condemning another child to autism of any kind.

Now I find that it wasn't your methods and conclusions that were faulty.  Your entire endeavor was a fraud from the beginning.  You started your research with a conclusion and constructed 'evidence' to support that that conclusion, even if you had to fabricate it out of whole cloth.

Thanks to you, an entire generation of parents and their children have been tempted to either delay or totally skip out on vaccinations under cover of 'science'.  Illnesses such as measles, whooping cough, and mumps, which were extremely rare when I was growing up, are back with a vengeance.  Some have been so convinced by your snake-oil that they still tilt at windmills to keep children from getting the vaccinations that they need to prevent horrible diseases.

You are a fraud, and a cheat.  Your 'research' has led directly to suffering and death for children, and for that I condemn you.  I hope that for the rest of your life, you reflect on the suffering you have caused to families across the globe.  I hope that some day you wake up from your self-centered stupor and realize just how much damage you have done.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Snow Gophering

Since our "dusting" turned into almost two inches of drifted snow this morning, we set the dogs and kids loose in the back yard to play for a while.  Irish Woman took some really great pics and here are my favorites:
Boo and Girlie Bear sweep snow off the deck of the slide.  Notice the cunning hats.

Boo realizes he should have put on chains before taking the car out of the garage this morning

From left to right, Girlie Bear, Shadow, Bluegrass, and Little Bear

Boo feeds Shadow one of many handfuls of snow

Congresswoman Shot

Congresswoman Gifford from Tucson, along with other victims, has been shot by what appears to be a lone loony. Our thoughts and prayers to those who were shot and their families.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Another Coal Powered Car

Ford is coming out with a new electric Focus, which they claim will be competitive with the Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf in both range and cost.  So we're looking at $32k+ for a compact car that can go 50 to 100 miles before requiring charging.  Add to that the $1500 cost of having a 240 volt charging station at your home, and we're looking at about $34k for what most people consider a starter or commuter car.

There are places and people for whom I can see that this technology will work.  These are primarily young people or couples without kids, as long as they don't live in an apartment where there isn't a place to put the charging station.  Having raised a kid with a small car, I can tell you that putting a backwards facing car seat in a car as small as a Focus is less than fun.   My expectation is that small families will not tend to buy small electric Focuses, and that demographic is a huge portion of the American auto market.

In addition, paying almost twice the price of a conventional Focus for an electric model doesn't make economic sense.  The cost of the vehicle is not made up by savings on fuel. Let's assume that the owner will drive the car enough that it requires at least some recharging every day.  Let's say that it costs $2 a day on average to charge the car.  That's $14 a week, or about $580 a year for electricity.  Let's assume $200 a year in maintenance after the first year, which is a complete SWAG for that cost.  I have no real idea how much it will cost to maintain and repair this new battery technology at a dealership.  If a consumer drives the car for 5 years, that comes to $2900 for electricity, and $800 for maintenance.  So, in 5 years, the driver of an electric Focus will spend  $3700 above and beyond the initial cost of $34000 for his Focus, for a grand total of about $38000 for the privilege of driving an electric starter car.

Now let's look at someone one who purchases a conventional Focus.  The MSRP for such a vehicle is between $16,600 and $19,600, so we'll split the difference and say our consumer spends $18,100 for his brand spanking new 2011 Ford Focus.  The Ford Focus has a 13 gallon gas tank, which for the sake of the argument we'll say the owner runs almost dry before filling once per week.  If gas averages $3 a gallon for regular gas, that's $39 a week for fuel, or $2028 a year for fuel.  Over the course of our 5 year ownership, that comes to $10,140 for fuel.  We'll average $200 a year for maintenance on our vehicle, for an additional $1000 in costs over the life of the vehicle.  We include it in the first year because the consumer is going to have to change oil and filters and such during the first year, while I expect that the electric model won't require much maintenance in the first year.  So we pay $18,1000 for the car to begin with, $10,140 for fuel, and $1000 for upkeep, for a grand total of $29,240 for a conventional Focus.

The difference in our back of the hand calculations, which don't take into account licensing and depreciation, is $8760.  It costs almost $9000 dollars above and beyond the cost of a conventional Focus to drive an electric Focus.

What our electric Focus driving consumer is paying for is for being an early adaptor.  Early adaptors always pay through the nose for their designation of being ahead of the power curve.  Be it people who bought Pentiums when 486 was all the rage, had cell phones in 1993, or buy electric vehicles before the technology is mature and can be produced as cheaply as internal combustion vehicles, they're going to pay and pay handsomely.

Eventually, when enough early adopters have bought their electric vehicles, enough manufacturers may begin cranking out electric vehicles in enough numbers that prices will begin coming down due to competition and economy of scale.  But that time is still to come, and may be a way off.  There are several competing technologies, all of which are less than a decade old at best.  There is much revolution to come in electric vehicles before the demographic of small families can afford to own one as easily as they can afford to own a conventionally powered vehicle.

As someone who would like nothing more than to cut the automotive market out of the imported petroleum equation so we can tell the 3rd world pushers who sell us our black smack to kiss off, and someone who realizes that no matter how many doodads the EPA has us bolt onto our exhaust systems, our cars are a significant creator of air pollution, I look forward to a time when electric vehicles are economically viable and are as common as internal combustion cars.  But that time is not now, and until the technology matures and becomes much cheaper, it won't be for a while.

Saturday Morning Earworm

If you've got little kids, good luck getting this one out of your head:

Friday, January 7, 2011

Quote of the day

What wine goes with Captain Crunch? - George Carlin

Thought for the day

The FDA has as part of its mission a responsibility to promote U.S. agriculture
The FAA has a similar responsibility to  promote the U.S. aerospace industry.

Why doesn't the ATF have a responsibility to promote the U.S. booze, tobacco, and guns industries?

Corollary to DaddyBear's Law

There is a direct inverse relationship between the temperature and amount of ambient outdoor light and the chance of an electrical problem in my home.
Ah, the joys of living in a 65 year old house.  You never know what's going to break, and there are so many things that can go wrong that troubleshooting can be an endless chain of trial and error.

Last night, about an hour after dark and as the temperature was headed south of freezing, most of the lights in the house flickered, died, and then came back on very dimly.  Checking and flipping circuit breakers did nothing to alleviate the situation.  Based on a hunch, I switched out each of the breakers in the box (yes, I have a lot of spares), but nothing seemed to work.  After a  while, we noticed that the house was getting chilly.  The gas fire in the furnace was coming up due to the thermocouple, but the blower motor wasn't getting enough juice to run.

After a few hours of fruitless effort, I figured out that if I pulled several of the circuit breakers, the circuits that ran the lights in the main part of the house and the refrigerators would come up at 100%.  After that we decided to wait until morning and call an electrician.   We built a fire, made sure the kids were in their warmest pajamas, and broke out the extra blankets.  Over the night it got quite chilly but the fire kept the the house livable.   Irish Woman and I took turns staying awake as a fire watch.

This morning, a quick call to my brother-in-law to get the name of a good electrician pointed me to calling the power company.  LG&E came out and diagnosed the issue with one look at the connection to the house.  The coupling where the line from the pole attached to the house were corroded, loose, and burned black.   A quick trip up the ladder and the lineman had replaced them.  After putting the breakers back in and and flipping them back on, everything came up, including the furnace.

So we got lucky.  Hopefully our electrical service will be more reliable.  Heaven knows how long those connectors had been up there.  It's just dumb luck that the problem was fixed before they burned through and a live wire was dancing across my roof.

But all's well that ends well.  On a plus side, just in case LG&E or an electrician couldn't fix it today, I spent half the morning splitting firewood, so we have enough for several days all stacked up and ready to go.

The rest of my day is going to be spent in front of a warm fire, watching Netflix movies, drinking cold beer, and watching the cats and dogs snore.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

DaddyBear's Law

The probability that you will have car trouble when trying to leave for work is directly related to the temperature outside.  This phenomenon is enhanced with a direct relationship between how dirty your engine block is and how nicely you dressed for work.

When the time comes for me to finally get rid of this mini-van, I'm not going to trade it in.  I'm taking it out to the range, filling it with tannerite targets, and shooting at it with my 91/30 until it is a puddle of burning metal.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thought for the Day

There are few feelings better than when a bureaucrat admits that you are more stubborn than they are and quits resisting your efforts at efficiency.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Today's Larf Material

H/T to Merlin on this one:

Lesson 6
Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that.  Do the following:

  1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment.
  2. Leave it there.
  3. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player.
  4. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Sprinkle cheerios all over the floor, then smash them with your foot.
  5. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Substitute BMW for F-150, and you've got my take on it.   Of course, he forgot the mention the twelfth lesson:  Look forward to the day you look in the mirror while shaving and realize you have as much gray hair as you remember your father having.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Say It Loud!

I'm armed and I'm proud!

Finished listening to the latest BB & Guns podcast.  The lovely Breda and JayG discussed how they approach letting people know that they are gunnies.  The callers added in their own two cents, and I have to say that I agreed with everyone for the most part.

I'm not a gun nut.  I'm certainly not a collector.  I can count the number of guns I own on both hands, barely.  I stack the ammunition deep because I'm a cheap bastard and buy in bulk as much as I can, not because I'm getting ready for the revolution.  I don't lust after the newest hotness from Ruger, KelTec, or the sundry AR-15 vendors.  I do admire the craftsmanship of a well turned out firearm, especially antiques, but I doubt I'll ever have enough disposable income to invest in collector grade firearms.

But I am a shooter.  Luckily for me, my work environment has a lot of shooters in it.  One of my shooting buddies is my manager, and there are at least 10 hunters and recreational shooters within a stones throw of my cubicle.  Kentucky in general seems to be pretty OK with people owning and legally carrying guns.  One of the benefits of living in fly-over country, I guess.

Outside of work, Irish Woman's Indiana family is definitely pro-gun.  At the annual Hoosier Roundup, almost all of the campers and trucks have at least one NRA sticker on them.  We spend the late summer talking about prospects for hunting, and the Christmas party is heavily leavened with hunting stories from the deer season.  One brother-in-law in particular has introduced me to several of the gun stores in Indiana, and when he can make the long drive down he joins us at Knob Creek.

The other side of Irish Woman's family, on the other hand, is much more mixed when it comes to guns.  With the exception of one brother, the rest of the family is thoroughly steeped in the left-wing doctrine of the "Only Ones," where only the police and military need access to firearms.  When Irish Woman let slip that I had purchased a shotgun, there were actually members of her family who advised her to get out of our home for her own safety.  Amazingly enough, I've never told these relatives that I have, on occasion, come to their homes either with a gun in my pocket, or at least a gun in the glove compartment.  Heaven forfend that they should learn that I am taking my daughter to the range so she can learn to be a responsible gun owner and shooter.

I guess the point of all of this boils down to situational awareness and discretion.  When I'm among friends, we openly talk about guns, including what each of us is carrying if it's an environment where we can carry.  When I'm not among other gunnies, I try very hard to not be "The Guy with the GUN".  I've heard this called "Don't scare the white people".  Even though it's perfectly legal in Kentucky, I have only open carried a couple of times in Kentucky, and then only when I'm away from Louisville.

If someone asks me my hobbies, I'm honest and list shooting and hunting along with reading.  If I'm carrying and someone I know isn't very cool with firearms asks me, I'm honest and tell them that that I'm carrying.  I've put out a general invitation to my friends to go to the range with me, and a couple have made soft commitments to go once the weather gets better.   I just don't make it an issue that will cause problems in a social or work environment.

But I don't hide my hobby.  I don't lie when asked about it, and if someone wants to honestly discuss guns, hunting, or gun rights with me, even if they are diametrically opposed to it, I engage with them.  I probably won't convince them, but I will at least give them something to think about.  Who knows, if I keep talking to them, they may take me up on the range trip, and if they enjoy themselves they may become shooters themselves.

So what do y'all do?  I'm especially curious how people in countries that are definitely anti-gun tell people about the hobby, or how people who travel to a lot of different anti-gun areas discuss it with the locals.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Man volunteers to become cat food

A gentleman who runs a center for wayward animals has decided the best way to raise awareness of his facility and to possibly raise money is to live for 30 days with two lions in their enclosure.

He plans to eat with them and sleep near them.

I hope everything works out for him.  Nothing can go wrong here, right?

He's just going to be unconscious next to two apex predators, and try to eat the same food they do for a month.  Of course, he fails to recognize the fact that he himself is made of meat.  But come on, he knows these animals.  They'd never decide that he might make a good appetizer or late night snack.  He's never seen the Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom film of lions pimp slapping each other over a zebra carcass, has he?

Good luck.  For the sake of the lions, I hope nothing happens.  I'd hate for an animal to be destroyed because some jackass decided to forget that they're not German Shepherds with a weird haircut and got himself eaten.

That's why I can never understand people who have animals that are normally wild predators as pets.  They are trying to impose a standard of conduct we place on animals that are a product of thousands of generations of breeding towards suitability for being a pet on animals that are maybe two generations away from "Nature, red of tooth and claw".

Yes, that wolf or coyote cub you found out in the wild makes a wonderful lap dog, until it realizes that it doesn't have 10,000 years of selective breeding for docility and subservience and decides your neighbor's kid tastes like chicken. 

I'm really impressed by the folks who put a lion or Bengal tiger on a leash and take them for walks.  Nothing says Mal Hombre like a guy whose pet considers him an emergency food supply that can't run very fast and doesn't have sharp teeth or claws.

Don't even get me started on the guy who has the 12 foot python in the bathtub and feeds them whole rabbits in an effort to keep Fluffy from dining on his wife's Labradoodle. 

Look people, your pet is for companionship, labor, or burglar alarm.  You want a canine that impresses me?  Get one that will take itself outside and not snore while sleeping in the middle of my living room.  Think a big cat will improve my opinion of you?  How about you figure out how to make a housecat fetch?  And the snake guy?  Just have a couple of hits of NyQuil and climb in the cage with Scaly the WonderBoa.  Consider it a present to me. 

Og has Blog

Og, of Neanderpundit fame, has opened a new blog, Made in America.  He plans to review and promote products that are made here, as opposed to a Chinese slave labor prison.

I've added him to my ever-growing list-o-stuff in the RSS reader, and it's on the blog roll.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Your safety is your own responsibility

Raindogblue illustrates why the safety of you and your family is primarily your responsibility.

Due to budget cuts, the sheriff has eliminated all shifts, but one. Starting January 1st, the ten remaining road deputies with be working  3 PM to 3 AM, seven days a week. There will be no coverage in the county from 3 AM to 3 PM.

Police are dedicated, self-sacrificing individuals.  The good ones could be working a lot less for a lot more money if they chose to.  But they can't work for free, and they can't be everywhere at once.

It would  be interesting to find out what besides police coverage the county he's talking about cut to save money.  It would be fascinating to see what they chose to not cut in favor of the sheriff's budget.
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