Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What he said

After my earlier discussion of the new flu scare, Roberta X linked to a great article on why this flu isn't that panic worthy over at Atomic Nerds.

Just when you thought you were informed and eloquent, someone else does it better.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Negative Ghostrider, the pattern is full

Some brainiac at the White House thought it would be neato to get some nice photos of Air Force One against the Manhattan skyline. So they fired up the jet, did a fly by, and had a grand time. Of course the Air Force had to send a chase plane or two to guard the Presidents plane.

They forgot one box in their checklist. They forgot to tell anyone else about it. Not the mayor of New York, much less the people of the Big Apple.

One shudders at the idiocy of someone thinking it would be a good freaking idea to have a 747 and some fighter jets buzz Manhattan unannounced. Kinda like parking a Ryder truck in front of the new federal building in Oklahoma City and walking away. Or having a fat girl deliver pizza to the Clinton library. These things tend to make people jumpy.

I hope they televise the butt chewings that this brought about. It would be nice to know who was responsible and watch them walk off the White House grounds with the contents of their desk in a small box on CNN.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Thoughts on the New Flu

Well, a new strain of swine flu is apparently worrying the socks off of the CDC and DHS. Secretary Napolitano has declared a preemptive state of emergency over the outbreak.

Mexico City is apparently shutting down, to include such religious things as Sunday Mass and soccer games.

So, what do we have here?

Hopefully, this is only going to be as bad as the SARS outbreak a few years ago. Yes, it's pretty bad if you get it, but good quarantine methods contain the outbreak.

I really hope it doesn't get as bad as the 1918 "Spanish" flu outbreak. That killed 10's of millions. But that was just as modern medicine was starting to come out. Anti-viral medicine was a dream, a lot of the medical establishment still didn't believe in germs, and not a lot of people had access to good medical support if they needed it. Now, even though we still don't have magic bullets against viruses, we at least have a few widely used drugs like Tamiflu. Doctors are readily available to all Americans, and the doctors are well-trained and certified. I'm sure that work is going on already to develop a vaccine. If one is found, it could be quickly mass-produced and distributed.

BTW, for a really good read about the 1918 Pandemic, check out The Great Influenza. I picked it up a few years ago in an airport book store, and it goes into great detail on how the influenza is believed to have originated and how it spread. BTW, the 1918 flu is also believed to have originated in pigs and crossed the species barrier.

So, what's the worst case scenario? Well, it would be a repeat of 1918. In 1918, the flu spread quickly through soldiers who took it from North America to the fighting in Europe, then spread globally when soldiers returned to every continent in the world. This flu could spread quickly through air travelers. That's probably how it has already spread from Mexico to places like New York and New Zealand.

Doctors in the USA are saying that the cases they've seen so far have been pretty mild, but that follows the pattern of the 1918 influenza. The first outbreak was pretty mild, with a lot of people getting sick, but not a lot of them died. Then the subsequent waves hit later in the year and killed millions.

Things could get pretty ugly for a while, but it won't be the end of the world. Pandemics burn themselves out eventually. Those who are going to sicken and die will do so pretty quickly. Hopefully, those who survive will have at least partial immunity. Society will change temporarily to keep from getting sick. Things like movies and sports will suffer because people will either be prevented from or voluntarily quit going to such things.

What we can do now is to just do what we do every flu season. Wash your hands, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and stay home from work if you feel sick.

I hope this doesn't get too bad. Just in case, please use the Purel at the door as you leave.

Stupid Git of the Year Award

According to Fox News, a British agent in Colombia messed up their entire operation in South America by losing her purse.

How, might you ask, can losing a purse on a bus destroy an entire intelligence network?

Because the idiot was carrying around a thumb drive loaded with the identities of undercover agents and informants.

That's right, a supposedly trained and competent agent of MI-6 was walking around her target area with an easily accessible roster of the agents her agency was using to get at the local drug lords.

My guess was it was totally unencrypted. Our allies in Her Majesty's Secret Service were forced to move a whole bunch of people they had spent years getting in and getting to.

Here's the deal kids: Thumb drives are really neato for carrying around your term papers and pictures of your kids, but don't put anything you wouldn't want put on the front page of the local newspaper on them. Like your tax return, or your checking account records. Or maybe even the identities of your SECRET AGENTS.

And if you have to do this, try using some kind of encryption to at least make it difficult for the bad guys to get to the information.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Good post about Iraq

Starbuck over at Wings Over Iraq has a great post about the differences between the small outposts and the big bases in Iraq.

One thing that stuck out was his description of amenities at a Forward Operating Base or FOB:

They were isolated cities unto themselves, often boasting coffee houses, fast food restaurants, massage parlors, and massive dining facilities

Now, I've been deployed a couple of times, and I've seen some pretty posh large bases in forward areas. Never did see a massage parlor though. Is that the new Morale, Welfare, and Recreation at work, or is it contracted through KBR?

Just have to wonder.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Whoopty Freaking Doo!

It's Thunder Over Louisville this weekend, and I have never been happier to live on the other end of town.

I've been to three of these collective insanity episodes. What a great idea. Let's get a couple hundred thousand strangers together, throw in sun, liquor, and explosives, and then try to get them out of downtown Louisville at the same time all at the same time. Hopefully a race riot doesn't break out in the middle of it. This year I think they're trying to set a new record for obnoxious twits getting on camera flashing gang signs while some poor reporter tries to put a good spin on the whole thing.

Here's how a day at Thunder goes:

You get up at 6 AM to throw some food down your neck and load the car. The kids are still sleepy, so they move in slow motion. By the time you back out of the driveway, you can feel the throbbing starting in your temporal lobe.

When you get either downtown or across the river to watch it from Indiana, you park about 2 miles away from the event. All of the things that you didn't want to bring but were deemed necessary by your spouse are then strapped to your back and you trudge to the waterfront.

If you're there with family or friends, it's a fun afternoon. The two times we've done it with the Irish Woman's family, the kids have really enjoyed playing with the cousins. The family will usually rent a few camper spaces in a lot over in Indiana, and it makes the day much better if you have a place to relax that's not crowded and actually has a flush toilet.

If, on the other hand, you try to do this alone, you're continually either allowing your kids to run off with strangers or you spend the day trying to not end up on an Amber Alert interview.

While you're enjoying your afternoon, the air show is going on. Sometimes you look up and a neat military or civilian aircraft is going overhead. A lot of times you look up and a bunch of nutballs are flying way too fast, way too close, way too loud, and way too low.

Then you get hungry. You discover that all of the food you brought is gone, so you end up satisfying your hunger with a deep fried Snickers, a funnel cake, and steak on a stick. Wash all of that down with a $5 Pepsi.

Now you're broke. And the nearest port-a-potty is half a mile away, which isn't that bad because that's how long the line for it is.

Then it gets dark. You're shivering because your sunburn is bleeding off of the heat from your body. You and your kids and family watch 20 minutes of fireworks that are pretty impressive. Hopefully the wind is blowing away from you, or you get to inhale the smoke from all of those fireworks to add to your later case of black lung that you get just from living in IndiUcky.

Then you begin the death march back to your car. If you're lucky, you don't get mugged or lose a kid in the crowd. Extra points if your kids are so tired and worn out from running around all day that you end up carrying one or more of them, along with all of the things that your wife wanted taken along, but never got unpacked. Last time, I wondered if it would be better to just strap Little Bear and Girlie Bear to my backpack with bungie cords rather than have to pull them along.

Once you get to your car, you strap the semi-conscious kids and wife in, re-pack the car, and spend an hour getting out of the parking lot. On at least 3 occasions you will be scolded for your language by the wife.

You then spend 2 hours trying to get to the interstate to get home. If you parked in Indiana, welcome to a 4 hour ride home, since it makes no sense to let people just come over the river on the bridge that leads directly to Louisville. No, the powers that be will make you drive 25 miles west, then get on a bypass, then get on the interstate that leads you home.

If you parked in Kentucky, welcome to a road company remake of Road Warrior, in which you get to watch nuns cut people off and then threaten their lives. It still takes 4 hours to get home, but at least you have a show to enjoy on the way. The city always has some Rube Goldberg plan for getting people out of downtown without World War III breaking out, but I'm pretty sure they're actually trying to reduce the population using car accidents, shootings, and starvation.

If you're lucky, you arrive home in that sweet spot where you've caffeinated yourself enough after a 16 hour day that you make it home without falling asleep and killing your entire family, but you're not so wired that you can't fall asleep for 4 hours after you get home. Good luck on that balancing act.

Congratulations, you smell of old beer, sweat, and SPF 200 sunblock, and you've survived another Thunder over Louisville. OK, your kids will sleep all day Sunday, and you and the wife won't speak to each other for a couple of days, but wasn't it grand to spend quality time together?

No thanks. I'll stay home tomorrow, maybe cook out, but definitely stay away from all things Thundery. If I'm feeling froggy, I might go to the range and make my own Thunder.

At least I'm not the only one

Apparently Phil over at Random Nuclear Strikes is fighting the creeping crud.

I've had that annoying balloon deflating sound in my head too, and it's always a warning to go running for the nearest box of tissues.

I'm feeling marginally better today. Irish Woman self medicated this morning and stayed home from work.

Let's hear it for partying the weekend away while on Sudafed!!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The American Look

As most of you know, I'm not from the South. I'm from about as north as you can go without having to learn to drink Molsen. I didn't really experience any kind of racism until we moved to California, where I learned that my mom was extremely prejudiced. Over the years, I've known some people who lingered in the past when it comes to how they judge people, but I never let those people become an important part of my life.

For the most part, I don't see much racism here in Kentucky. There's still not a lot of love between the "black community" and the "white community", but I see hope for the future when I go to Junior Bear's school and see white and black kids laughing and talking together.

Anyhoo, today I got smacked in the face with racism. I was sitting in my doctor's waiting room, and was watching the news. They were talking about the recent rant that Jamie Foxx made about Miley Cyrus. After a while, the staff changed the channel to a talk show that featured Ben Affleck talking about his new movie.

The other patient waiting for her appointment, a woman about my age, remarked that she was glad to see a clean cut "American looking" guy like Affleck on the TV instead of more pictures and video of Jamie Foxx.

To say that I was shocked would be quite an understatement. I was so gobsmacked that I didn't respond. How could someone as young as she was, in this day, think like that? If she'd been an older lady I'd have chalked it up to habits learned a long time ago, but I never expected to hear something like that from someone my age.

An "American Look" that apparently excludes people who look like Jamie Foxx? If I'd had time and courage to argue with her, I'd have said that there is no "American Look". Instead, I sat and waited for my name to be called and got on with my day.

But it got me thinking.

Martin Luther King looked like an American. Bobby Jindal looks like an American. George Lopez looks like an American. Lucy Liu, David Patterson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and even Jamie Foxx look like an American.

We are all Americans, and we all make up this motley assortment of rugged individualists. We fight, squabble, shout, and hurt. We comfort, befriend, and make peace ever day. We come from all corners of the globe, and if you've been to Santa Monica or Times Square, you might believe that we draw from beyond the globe.

I am going to have to learn to watch for this attitude in my kids as I bring them up in Kentucky. My parents were prejudiced, and I sometimes have to monitor myself to keep from falling into that trap. I want my children to understand that different doesn't mean bad.


Well, my hard-living lifestyle of mini van driving and diaper changing finally caught up with me.

I'm sick as a dog.

I've had a head cold off and on since November, but I've been able to take care of it with OTC meds and lots of fluids.

I've been to the doctor for it a couple of times, which ends with me getting a shot of cortisone in my rump, some decongestants, and an antibiotic of some kind or another.

Irish Woman and I both woke up this morning feeling like dirt. She went to work, and I got the kids off to school and day care. My MD was able to get me in this morning, and of course, it's my cold again. And I've given it to the Irish Woman.

I got another shot in my butt, some more antibiotics, and an appointment at an EENT. My doc thinks that I'll probably have to have my tonsils out, and possibly get some work done on my nose. Apparently having a nose that's been fractured several times can cause problems.

I'm going to go take some green death NyQuil and get some rest. Hopefully I'll be back at it tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Need to alert Snakeeyes

Apparently the Brits are looking for another terrorist cell. This one is apparently planning to attack in London.

Here's what caught my eye:

Evidence gleaned from the arrests was revealed to Cobra, Whitehall's emergency committee of intelligence chiefs and ministers.

Apparently, our cousins across the pond are consorting with Cobra Commander and his minions. Luckily, we have GI Joe to help us.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Yet another reason to see the new Star Trek

Like others, I'm really looking forward to seeing the new Star Trek movie, which comes out on May 8.

This article in Big Hollywood gives me yet another reason to see this film, and take the kids with me so it makes even more money.

The director and cast of the new Star Trek film took their little movie to a war zone and screened it for the troops. That's right, they didn't go to a university, or a Star Trek convention, or to Cannes. They went to Kuwait.

People like this deserve every dime I plan on spending to see their film, and I encourage all of y'all to reward them too.

1st Birthday

Well, Baby Bear has turned 1, and we had the customary gathering and feast for him on Saturday.

Much fun was had by all. Way too much food, lots of good friends, lots of toys that require batteries and anti-seizure medicine. Little Bear was cut loose by his mom for the party, and it was great to watch him play with his friends and brother and sister.

Since so many people were coming to the party, a very good friend graciously let us hold the party in her house. Irish Woman and I spent the better part of two days shopping and cooking for the event. Overall, we left her home in as good a condition as we found it. It's almost as much work to prepare for and clean up after a party at someone else's house as it is to have at your own.

Baby Bear got his own chocolate cake, as is customary. He dove in, literally. No need to encourage this kid. By the time he was done, he was covered from head to rump, and the high chair had to be taken out to the driveway and hosed down. When we took him to take a bath, he left a ring.

We definitely have to do something very nice for our friends.

Baby Bear's big present from us was a Radial Flyer all-steel wagon. He can be pulled in it for the time being, and when he gets bigger, he can use it as his own cargo trailer.

I need to think up a new nickname for Baby Bear. He's still a baby, but not for much longer. Once they get teeth and start walking, it's not long before they get toddler status. I'll have to do some thinking about that.

Here's my idea:

Apparently, the Obama Justice Department is trying to figure out what to do with the pirate who was captured this weekend. Apparently this wayward youth was part of the party who decided it would be a good idea to board an American flagged vessel and take the captain of said vessel hostage and thumb their collectives noses at the U.S. Navy.

There are three things being bandied about.

1. Try this guy in either New York or Washington in federal court.
2. Give this putz to the Kenyans, who have agreed to try and punish pirates from that area of the world.
3. Give him to whatever passes for a government in Somalia these days.

#3 is a non-starter. There hasn't been a real government in Somalia since I was in high school. Giving this twerp to whoever calls themself El Jefe in that 3rd world craphole would only get him appointed to the local board of aldermen.

#2 isn't much better. I know that Kenya has been friendly to us for a long time, and they have taken pirates off of our and our allies' hands in the past, but I want this scum tried in a U.S. court.

So, that leaves #1. But I don't think that our over-burdened civilian courts need to be bothered with this.

Here's my plan:

1. Fly several 3 or 4 star admirals out to the USS Bainbridge, which is in the area and was in on the rescue of Captain Phillips. At least one of these should be a lawyer.
2. Provide this idiot with a small group of very competent lawyers from the Navy Judge Advocate General.
3. Hold a military courts martial on the deck of the Bainbridge, with the admirals acting as the judge and jury.
4. If he's found not guilty, then we give him a days worth of bread and water, an inflatable dingy, and let him loose about 40 miles off the coast of Somalia. If he's found guilty, he's hung from a yardarm within site of his village. Extra points for tieing his body to mined buoy and leaving it there for the seagulls.

Yeah, it's harsh, but oh well.

Mood Lighting and Web Surfing Do Not Mix

A sign you will not be having a good day:

H/T to the Fail Blog.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cute and Cuddly, Boys, Cute and Cuddly

The kids and I discovered the new "Penguins of Madagascar" over vacation on Nickelodean.

It's absolutely hilarious to watch, and all of us, the adult, the 16 year old, and the 10 year old all find it fun.

The animation is at least as good as in the Madagascar films, and the writing is excellent.

Another way to waste your time. Go, Enjoy!


Saw this over at the fail blog, and it made me smile:

Also recently read "World War Z" by Max Brooks. An excellent read. If you're looking for something that makes for a good night in front of the fire after the kids are in bed, give it a look.

Basically, it's an oral history of a global zombie outbreak that happens in the very near future. Humanity of course has its head taken off, literally, by the undead hordes, and then has to fight its way back from the brink.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Kinda Creepy

OK, so Saturday evening, Baby Bear and I went to the local SuperMegaMart to look at new car seats and pick up a couple of things.

As we're checking out, I notice the guy next to us. He's dressed from head to toe in blue denim. Denim hat, denim shirt, jacket, jeans, and denim sneakers. That's what I noticed first. Guy was kinda jumpy, but didn't bother anyone. However, he's only got one kind of thing in his shopping cart. Pigs feet. Not jars of pickled pigs feet. Fresh pigs feet. About 20 packages of it. In the same kind of packaging that hamburger would come in.

Now, I don't judge what other people eat. You like pigs feet, eat pigs feet. Not for me, but if you want it, go ahead. But what are you going to do with 20 packages? Is there some Kentucky dish that calls for flavoring from pigs feet, and this guy was going to host a cookoff?

Also, when did SuperMegaMart begin selling fresh pigs feet? I mean this is the South, so I allow for some items that you just don't normally get in the northern regions of the country, like pickled ring bologna or instant grits. But fresh pigs feet?

Good Weekend

This weekend it was just Baby Bear, Irish Woman, and me.

Saturday we took Baby to the park and he got to swing and go down the slide for the first time. We also went down to the "lake" and fed the ducks and geese. Baby was absolutely fascinated by these creatures. I had to move a bit to keep the ducks from getting too close to Baby. He tried to grab a couple by the neck, and that would have turned into a bad scene pretty quickly. Needless to say, the event was recorded in depth by the Irish Woman on her camera.

Irish Woman left us at the park to go shoot a wedding, so Baby Bear and I took a walk around the lake. He has really started going for walks in his stroller.

We spent the rest of the afternoon just playing. I've finally found someone who plays at my level. Baby's walking has really improved over the past week or so. He's definitely not as wobbly has he was before, and he's getting the hang of turning.

Sunday we just kinda relaxed. We got his new car seat and he was really jazzed about it. He immediately noticed that he was in a different seat, and noted the cup/snack holder almost immediately.

Junior Bear returned from out west last night, and made the trip in one piece.

Overall, a nice relaxing weekend, and now back to the grind.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

No comment

I think the picture speaks for itself.

An iPod?

You have got to be kidding me!

You meet with the Queen of England, the head of state for our oldest and closest ally, and you give her an iPod full of photographs of her trip to the US and show tunes?

What, did his kids run out of macaroni to create pictures with or something?

Has our president finally lost his ever loving mind? I know he's not this dumb, so it must be a psychological issue with the British.

It was bad enough he gave the British Prime Minister a bunch of DVD's that he couldn't watch, but to give the Queen an iPod is showing a great lack of tact and judgement.

If you wanted to give her photos of her visits to the US, then do it with some class and give her a nicely bound album that's done professionally. At least that way she can look at them in a couple of years when the JPEG standard changes to the point that today's digital pics don't work.

And to give her show tunes like she was some sophomore from Wellesley who takes the train down to the city to see Rent is insulting at the very least.

I hope our cousins in Albion overlook this latest slight the next time we come to them for support on some important issue.

I'm back

Well, I didn't mean to not post for the past week, but I was having such a good time on vacation that I just didn't have the gumption to get on here.

I spent the past 6 days doing precisely diddly over squat. Had some high expectations on what I wanted to do around the house, but none of them got done. And I had a wonderful time.

Junior Bear is out west visiting with his mother. Girlie Bear and Little Bear are at their mother's for the rest of spring break. We spent the week just relaxing and having fun.

Weather here has been as erratic as it ever is, so some days we would go out and do stuff, and others we stayed home and had fun.
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