Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Overheard in the Inter-Office Chat Line

DaddyBear:  Boss?
Boss:  Yes?
DaddyBear:  I missed the meeting you wanted me to attend because I was working on something at my desk and completely forgot.  Are you in the meeting?
Boss:  It's already over.
DaddyBear:  Well, I guess I'm the idiot for this here village today.
Boss:  Not just today.

It's good to be loved.

Free Ammo

For those of you who read gun blogs, and haven't been under a rock or in a coma these past few weeks, you already know that M.D. Creekmore of The Survivalist Blog is giving away 1000 rounds of 9mm ammunition, which was provided by Lucky Gunner.  Entry requires mention of the sites involved on a blog, so this is my entry.

In all seriousness, I read Survivalist Blog all the time.  It's a great source of good, down-to-earth preparedness information.  I've bought ammunition from Lucky Gunner on a few occasions, and I've been very happy with their prices, shipping times, and customer service.

So, if you're looking for good ammunition or good reading, mosey on over to Lucky Gunner or Survivalist Blog.

From the "No Kidding" File

A Turkish report on the flotilla incident posits that at least 31 rounds were fired in the fight aboard the ships of the "peace" flotilla that was boarded by Israeli commandos.  You remember that, don't you?  That's the one where the peaceful Islamic protesters were trying to peacefully bring peaceful supplies like chocolate puppies and cashmere underwear for peaceful purposes to the peaceful people of Gaza.  These peaceful do-gooders greeted the Israeli commandos who fast-roped down to their deck with a peaceful round of lead pipes and fists and whatever was loose to be used as a peace-club.

Apparently when you physically threaten a highly trained and armed Israeli commando, you might get a little shot.

The Turks are complaining that a lot of the dead peaceful Turkish citizens were shot in the head, showing "show Israeli forces were shooting to kill.".

No fooling?  I'd say the commando was trying to put down a clear and present threat to him and his mission and chose to shoot at the one part of the human body that if targeted properly will stop a threat in its tracks.

Here's a message to the Turkish and Palestinian people who are shocked at this:

Look, skeezix, there is no such thing as shooting to wound, or a warning shot.  Pulling a trigger means you are employing "deadly force".  Deadly, for those of you who need an explanation, means "meant to kill".  If you and a bunch of your khat-chewing, camel-hustling cousins decide to physically assault a commando, his response is going to be to try to kill you. He's not going to try to disable you, he's not going to try to scare you off.  He's going to try to put several small holes in your vital organs and blood pathways in order to make you stop trying to kill or hurt him.

If these "peaceful" protesters were in fact trying to be peaceful and make a political point about the legality of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, then they should take a page from Gandhi and MLK.  When the Israeli helicopters and ships show up to stop your little boats and keep you from getting to Gaza with dual use products, stop your engines, turn on the video cameras and satellite up-links, and sit down on the deck.  Force the Israelis to either let you go on or they can be the bad guys in front of the cameras and the whole world.

Don't meet a boarding party with weapons and fists and then cry that some of y'all got ventilated.

The less excuse you give a man with a gun to shoot you, the less shot you will get.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Overheard at a meeting

Meeting Leader:  So basically, next Tuesday we will re-do the steps on the network and the servers we took yesterday and last night, and see if the problem happens again.
DaddyBear:  So basically, we're going to crash the plane again and see if it bursts into flame again this time.
Guy Next to DaddyBear:  Snort
DaddyBear:  I'm going to go round up another 156 passengers.
Guy Next to DaddyBear:  Dude, that's too dark to say out loud.

Idea for a shooting competition stage

I was listening to a podcast from a history website on my drive back from camp on Sunday, and the narrator discussed U.S. Army Sergeant Alvin York.  For those of you who aren't familiar with Sergeant York, he was an American doughboy in World War I.  He originally attempted to declare himself unfit for combat duty because of his religious beliefs against war, but was eventually convinced that it was OK to fight for your country and was shipped to France as part of the American Expeditionary Force.

During the Meuse-Argonne battle, then Corporal York was sent forward along with 15 other members of his unit.  The squad of American infantry came under attack by German machine guns while trying to secure some prisoners, killing 6 and wounding 3 Americans.  York reacted superbly.  Using his rifle, he started killing off German machine-gunners who were firing from prepared positions on a ridge.  Eventually, he was rushed by a group of 8 German soldiers.  Using his head and his pistol, he shot the group one at a time from back to front so that the soldiers wouldn't know they were taking fire and stop their rush to shoot him.  Eventually York and the rest of his squad of 13 men took 132 prisoners that day, with a loss of 6 dead and 3 wounded.

York was promoted to Sergeant, and eventually received the Medal of Honor, our nation's highest military award.

As an NCO, I studied Sergeant York's leadership and coolness under fire.  His marksmanship, ability to think and react correctly in a stressful situation, and leadership have made him a legend.

As the narrator was describing the battle, I visualized what Sergeant York was doing.  From the prone unsupported position with a bolt action rifle, he was making head shots at enemy soldiers from distances between 50 and 200 yards.  When he was rushed, probably when his rifle had run dry and needed reloading, he drew his pistol and shot 8 moving targets in such a way that the targets didn't know they were taking accurate fire and stop to shoot him.

Then it occurred to me that this might make a fun and challenging shooting scenario at the range.

Basically, the shooter will be equipped with a World War I era bolt action rifle with open sights, such as a M1903, M1917, Enfield SMLE, Mosin Nagant, or Mauser, and a base-model M1911 .45 caliber pistol with fixed sights.  The shooter is also given 40 rounds of ammunition in 5 round stripper clips for the rifle and 8 rounds of ammunition for the pistol.

Purists will say that York was equipped with a M1917 and a M1911, so a true recreation would have the shooter having only these.  Since M1917 rifles and original 1911's are pretty thin on the ground and are old enough to be collector's pieces, I'll open it up to whatever period rifle the shooter is comfortable with and just use the simplest 1911 that can be found.

The shooter would begin by standing at the firing line, with his weapon loaded and held at the ready.  At the sound of the starting horn, the shooter would drop to the prone unsupported position for the rifle part of the stage. 40 Pop-up targets the size and shape of human heads pop up randomly at 50, 100, 150, and 200 meter distances.  There will be two targets at each distance, for a total of 8 targets.  Each target would pop up 5 times.  This will force the shooter to engage multiple targets at once, and will force the shooter to look at more places for targets.  The targets will pop up for 5 seconds each, with five targets at different ranges popping up at once.  There will be a 5 second pause to reload after every group of five targets. 1 point is scored for each hit on a target

After the rifle targets are finished, there is a 5 to 10 second delay.  At the end of the delay, 8 irregulary spaced man-shaped targets come at the shooter in a staggered formation.  The shooter then draws the 1911.  The shooter must pick out the rearmost target and shoot it with the 1911, then move forward to the next closest target, and so on until all 8 targets are shot in the head or center mass, or a target gets to a predetermined distance from the shooter, probably 2 to 3 feet, bayonet range.  1 point is given for each target that is hit center mass or in the head.

To me it seems pretty challenging, and would be quite a bit of fun to do.

What do you guys think?

Update - I forgot to mention this at first, but thanks to the guys at the GunBlogger Conspiracy for helping me round out this idea!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Support Needed for a Good Cause

If you've ever read or listened to a story done by a reporter embedded with a military unit, then you have Ernie Pyle to thank.  If you're a history buff, and ever want to see how things went at the level of the lowly grunt and the other gang of heroes, then either have already read or should read the collected works of Ernie Pyle.

Ernie Pyle was sent to the front lines to report from the sharp end of the stick.  He did that, in spades.  He was himself killed in combat in the Pacific.

His home in Indiana has been turned into a museum dedicated to this true American hero.  Bayou Renaissance Man has pointed out that even though this truly worthy cause only needs a few thousand dollars a year to operate, it's in financial trouble during these tight times. 

What I'm asking all of you  to do a couple of things:

  1. If you have it, please consider making a small donation to the Ernie Pyle Home in Dana, Indiana.  It won't take but a few dollars from each of us to make a big difference.
  2. Spread the word on this.  If you have a blog, write about it.  Send a letter to the editor of your local paper.  Journalists know who Ernie Pyle is, and if we get their attention, they might get the word of this outside of the blogosphere.
  3. Finally, if you're close to Dana, Indiana, please visit the Ernie Pyle Home.  The more visitors something like this gets, the easier it will be for them to apply for aid from private organizations that provide support to things such as this.

What will they name after him now?

Since West Virginia is already full to the brim of "Robert Byrd Memorial" whatevers, what will the honorable citizens of that state do to actually memorialize their late senator, Robert Byrd

Leave your suggestions in the comments, and I'll pick the best ones tomorrow and post them here.

Say what you will about Byrd, he had a good work ethic, although he mostly didn't work towards something I can support:

Byrd, who never lost an election, cast more than 18,540 roll call votes -- more than any other senator in U.S. history. He had a 98 percent attendance record in his more than five decades of service in the Senate, according to his Web site. 

Want to bet he rarely, if ever, voted "Present", unlike a certain former senator from Illinois we are all familiar with.

Thought for the day

There are few cardio-vascular workouts more effective than chasing down a wet, sudsy two year old who has done a Fosbury Flop out of the bathtub and is running for his life away from finishing his bath.  After that warm up exercise, you must return the toddler to the tub, rinse him off, remove him from the tub, dry him off, and put him into his pajamas.  After all of this you should be at your target heart rate, and can continue other activities to keep it up for the prescribed period of time.  These may include, but are not limited to, trying to read a story to an uncooperative toddler, picking up toys faster than the toddler can remove them from the toy box, and doing a dozen reps of the "put toddler to bed, catch toddler after he escapes, put toddler to bed" exercise.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Camping Update

This weekend was the latest iteration of the yearly Hoosier Hoedown.  Basically, about 50 families from the Indiana branch of Irish Woman's family all meet at a state park in Indiana for three days of food, beer, and catching up / reminiscing.

Irish Woman and I took Friday off and got all of our stuff up to the park early.  We've done too many repititions of the "put the tent up by flashlight" exercise, and have had great success of getting our campsite up without the kids.  After dropping off most of our stuff with Irish Woman and helping her get started, I jumped in her car and headed back to Louisville to get the kids.

Girlie Bear was away at 4H Camp all week, and I picked her up first.  That went pretty smoothly, even though there were about 500 people trying to find their kid, find their kid's stuff, and get their car out of the zoo parking lot at the same time.  We then ran home and got Girlie Bear's stuff for the weekend and picked up BooBoo.  Then it was time to pick up Girlie Bear's friend, who was going to spend the weekend with us.

It was almost 7:30 by the time we got back to the lake, and Irish Woman had been busy getting set up.  Our deal had been for me to leave her there with the beer so she could relax and enjoy the afternoon without kids and husband, but she thought it would be better if she worked herself to death in the heat of the afternoon.  Sigh.  Sometimes, a husband just can't win.  She had also grilled hot dogs and Italian sausage for dinner, which saved time and let us have some fun in the cool of the evening.

Friday evening was spent saying hi to all of the family and seeing all of the new babies.  The Hoosiers are a fertile bunch.  There's always a fresh crop of babies and pregnant women each year.  Two of the cousins are extremely pregnant, so I know they were miserable all weekend in the heat and humidity.

Saturday morning was begun with a hearty breakfast of fried potatoes, store bought muffins, and omelets in a bag:

Omelet in a Bag Instructions:

Crack two fresh eggs into a quart sized zip-lock bag.  Add your favorite omelet fixings, such as bacon, ham, cheese, onions, or whatever.  Close the bag and shake vigorously until the eggs are sufficiently scrambled and the yummy bits are mixed in.  Open the bag and squeeze out ALL of the air.  Once all of the omelets are constructed, place the bags in a large pot of boiling water for 13 minutes.  The bags will not melt, and the eggs will cook very well with all of the  yummy bits melding together into a nice, firm omelet.

The rest of Saturday was spent trying to not burst into flame or collapse from dehydration.  It was sweat-your-nuts-off hot and very muggy.  It was Africa hot.  Tarzan wouldn't have put up with it.   We set up a small wading pool for BooBoo, and admonished Girlie Bear and her friend to drink plenty of water while running around like fools in a hurry.  It was even too hot to drink beer.  I survived on bottled water and sucking on ice cubes from the cooler.  The kids pretty much ran wild all day, with water fights seeming to be the favorite activity.  We eventually took down the pool when the bigger kids figured out it would be a strategic asset to have a reservoir of that much ammunition to refill their water squirters.

I was informed sometime on Saturday that one of the cousins had a new pop-up camper and it was VERY nice, and he got a great price for it, and wouldn't it be nice to have a place to keep all of our camping stuff and an air conditioner?  I took the hint after the 4th time it was casually mentioned to me.  I told Irish Woman that if she could figure out a way to get a nice pop-up camper without putting us into debt and without selling one of my internal organs or children, then it would be seriously considered.  Even if we don't get one by next year, she's already found a place in the area that rents out RV's.

Saturday evening saw a local priest come up to give Mass.  It's nice to see about 150 people from all arms of the family gather for church.  One of the cousins is a nun working with the immigrant population in Boston, and she gave the readings.

After church, there was a large pot-luck supper.  There were 6 picnic tables absolutely stuffed with food, and every morsel was consumed.  Think of all of the great summer food that your grandma used to make for you, and then have your grandma and all of her sisters cook for the family.  Each family in the campout contributed a dish.  Irish Woman made some very yummy semi-homemade macaroni and cheese.

Irish Woman's Semi-Homemade Mac and Cheese

Boil a large kettle of water with salt.  When it comes to a rolling boil, stir in 5 pounds of dry elbow macaroni and a chopped Vidalia onion.  After the pasta is done, strain in a collander and put into a large electric turkey roaster.  Mix in two bricks of Velveeta cheese-like substance, and a 2 pound bag of shredded cheddar/monterey jack mix.  Once the cheese begins to melt, mix in about half a cup of butter and add pepper and other favorite spices to taste.  Place the roaster in its cradle and cover.  Set the thermostat to 300 degrees and allow to cook for 4 to 5 hours.  Will feed an army and their kids.

For dessert, I made a cherry cobbler in one of our dutch ovens.  I love cooking with a dutch oven.  I did it a lot in the Scouts, and it's an easy way to make a hot meal when we're camping.

Irish Woman took BooBoo home for the evening because of the heat, so it was just me and the girls for Saturday evening.  Just as we were cleaning up from dinner, several pop-up thunderstorms hit us.  Apparently we had forgotten to stake down our screen tent, because it got blown across the site when the first storm hit.  I was a block away getting our now-empty and well-scraped roaster pan from the buffet line when it happened.  Thankfully, my brothers in law caught it, set it back up, and staked it down before I got back.

Just as it was getting dark, a large thunderhead came rolling in.  The kids were preparing to go running around playing flashlight games, but I told Girlie Bear and her friend that the weather looked mean, and to just get cleaned up and get to their tent for the night.  Just as they zipped up their door, a pretty wicked thunderstorm broke.  It rained for quite a while, with lots of lightning and thunder.  I must say that falling asleep in a dry tent during a rainstorm is quite nice.

Sunday morning, I got up to survey the damage, and all we got were some wet things.  Breakfast was left over muffins and cobbler with milk and bananas because I'd already packed the kitchen.  Irish Woman came back up with BooBoo, and helped me finish getting packed up.

It began storming just as the last of our stuff was packed and we were saying our goodbyes.  It wasn't a large storm, but it was quite wet.  Everything in the back of the truck that wasn't enclased in plastic got soaked.  Once we got home, it all got unpacked and laid out in the yard to dry.

We spent this afternoon cleaning and re-organizing the kitchen boxes and re-packing the tents, sleeping bags, and camp chairs.  There's still a few odds and ends to put away, but we're too pooped to pop at the moment.  It can keep until tomorrow.

We're thinking about waiting for the summer heat to be over before our next campout, but BooBoo is big enough that we can tent camp more often.  I'm looking forward to getting to the point where camping is more about sitting and relaxing and less about working hard all weekend.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Expressions of Love

Some express their love for their mate with poetry.
Some express their love by lavishing them with expensive gifts.
Last night, I expressed my love by going to Walmart at 10:30 PM to purchase printer ink and Mountain Dew for the Irish Woman so she could complete a project for the zoo.

Ah, love is a many splendored thing

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

McChrystal Out, Petraeus In

I haven't commented on this yet because I wanted to see the end of it before formulating and expressing an opinion.

Recently, General McChrystal, the commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, did an extended interview with Rolling Stone magazine, during which he and his staff made several disparaging remarks about the civilian leadership team in regards to Afghanistan, principally the president, vice-president, and ambassador to Afghanistan.  General McChrystal was summoned to Washington, and today tendered his resignation before he was fired.

This was not his first time catching flak after criticizing the administration over war policy.  Last fall, he was brought on the carpet when he complained to reporters about a lack of troops.  So no-one can say that he wasn't warned.

Do I agree with what I've heard he said?  Mostly.  I believe that President Obama and his civilian leadership team want the war to just go away, and are willing to make whatever deal with the devil is necessary to make that happen.  I believe that Ambassador Eikenberry has, at least from the stories that I've read, not been a good partner to the military professionals sent to Afghanistan to stabilize and protect the Karzai government.  I believe that Vice President Biden is a buffoon who was added to the ticket so that Obama could disguise his hard left leanings.

But I'm a former sergeant with no military subordinates, and I have no responsibilities to these civilian leaders other than to pay my taxes and vote.  General McChrystal is a flag officer in charge of prosecuting the war in a critical theater.  His attitudes and comments can poison the critical need for the military to respect the office of the president, even if they don't respect the person occupying it.  The recognition that the military is subordinate to, and not separate from or superior to, civilian leadership is a bedrock principle that has kept our republic from becoming a military dictatorship for over 200 years.

It's a basic tenet of leadership.  You don't complain in front of your subordinates, and you don't air out dirty laundry with people outside of your organization.  No matter if you think the boss is an incompetent, glue sniffing, vote buying snake, you don't say it in front of your troops, and for the love of God, you don't say it in front of a reporter.

General McChrystal manned up and resigned, taking responsibility for his conduct and that of his staff.  I'm sad to see him go.  I've monitored reports from Afghanistan, both in the press and through friends who are still in the military, and what I've heard convinced me that he was the right man for the job.  I hope that General Patraeus has one more good campaign in him to see the mission through to conclusion.  I wish both of them luck in the future, because our country needs men like them to contribute enough positives to overcome the negatives heaped upon us by other men and women in positions in power.

By the way, reports are saying that General Patraeus has to be confirmed by Congress to fill the position.  When did the military start needing Congressional approval to fill a personnel need?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Adding my own touch

Took Girlie Bear for a treat at Starbucks a few weeks ago.  While they made her a "Tall double chocolate extra whip hot cocoa with sprinkles of cinnamon powder and fairy dust", I sipped my cup of hot, strong brewed coffee with cream and sugar while I browsed their sale rack of coffee stuff. I've been looking for a ceramic cup with a locking lid to use at work, and I found this one on clearance:

It's basically the same form factor as their normal large coffee cup, but it's made of ceramic instead of paper.  Girlie Bear informs me that the "Red" designation means that Starbucks will donate some of the proceeds to charity.  

On the side, there's the usual list of things that the Barista's put in a coffee, with a cute "Hope' square below it to signify the feeling I should have when drinking from a mug that helps charity. 

Apparently, Starbucks doesn't know me very well:

There,  I think that displays what I want in my coffee every morning.

Ammo Pr0n

Today, I drove over to the FedEx facility in Indiana and picked up two packages that my fairy gun-fathers at the CMP sent to me:

Two cans of 250 rounds each, all nicely linked up in cloth machine gun belts:

The website says it was manufactured during the late Truman / early Eisenhower administration:

M2 Ball, .30-06, belted in 250 rd Ammo web belts, in .30 cal cans. Manufactured by KYNOCH WORKS (British). Corrosive primers. Manufactured 50-53.
Considering its age, it appears to be in pretty good shape.  There's some surface corrosion, but it doesn't appear to be deep.

 I'll unbelt it all one of these weekends and inspect each round before using it.  The price was right.  $75 a can, plus $9.95 for shipping.  That's $170 total, or about $.35 a round.  I'm glad I got it when I did.  It sold out at the CMP a couple of days ago.  The cans can hold it until I shoot it up, then they can be used to store the brass or something else.  The cloth belts I'm not so sure of.  There's a WWII reenactment outfit around here somewhere (they were at the Knob Creek machine gun shoot), so maybe I'll just donate them.  If I can't find them, then they might fetch something at a gun show or something.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

A section of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona has been closed to the public because the government feels it's too dangerous.

Is it too dangerous because of volcanoes?  Maybe unstable land formations that fall over in a stiff wind?  Or perhaps it's full of old mines that kooky old men are using to hide their illicit activities from a group of teenagers and their dog who travel the country in a green van looking for mischief?

Nope, it's been marked off as a denied area because of the violence brought to our territory by drug and human smugglers.

That's right.  Our government has ceded access to a part of our country by citizens to foreigners who are entering the country illegally. They are either bringing poison into the country, or they are bringing in people who have not gotten permission from the American people to enter the country.  Either way, the government is letting go of its responsibility to protect not only the borders of our country, but to protect American citizens from foreigners who are doing them harm.

What is the definition of the "foreign" enemy in "enemies, foreign and domestic" in the oaths they take if it's not a foreign citizen who comes across our border and causes so much grief that a section of our country is considered too dangerous for civilians to enter?

If the government does not want our citizens to be hurt by foreign criminals on American soil, it should remove those criminals who are on our soil, and prevent more from entering.  It should not just give up territory because it's hard to provide the security that is one of its fundamental duties.

If the government won't do it, then someone else in the country should.  I'm not for vigilantism, but if a group of armed Americans wants to stroll through this area and see if anyone threatens or takes a shot at them for being there, then I'm OK with that.  If the government doesn't want that to happen, then they should substitute "U.S. Marshalls" for "armed Americans" and execute.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


According to ITWire, an Italian study shows a correlation between the amount a person drinks and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.

As some of you know, I have arthritis.  I go through some very costly and time intensive treatments to keep it under control, and so far, it's working very well.

What this does for me is give me yet another avenue for possibly keeping arthritis at bay, and enhancing my life.  Heck, if I drink enough to keep the aches out of my fingers, I'll also be a heck of a nice guy to live with.  I can now explain why I had no symptoms of Arthritis until I was 28.  I was partying and drinking like a fish until about 3 years prior to that.

But I have to run.  I need to go to the 'pharmacy' for my 'arthritis medicine'. Maybe I could get some whole-grain supplements to go with it.  Got to have my vitamins!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How my day is going

I can't give any details because I don't talk about the job here, but this graphic will tell you how my day started:

This is how I wish it would end:

Get the picture?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Movie Review - Shrek Forever After

Girlie Bear and I were planning on going to do something outdoorsy this weekend, but it was too darned hot and muggy to do anything that wasn't necessary.

So, we went to the movies instead.  Hey, sitting in an air conditioned theater drinking cold Coca-Cola beats sweating to death any day.

We decided on the new Shrek movie.  I'm not going to give any spoilers, but suffice it to say that the movie is about what happens when a male has a mid-life crisis in a world where it's not hard to get a wish fulfilled, whether you understand the consequences or not.  Hilarity ensues, adventure happens, and romance blossoms.  I laughed, I cried, I came away feeling better as a person.

Of the four Shrek movies, this one probably goes about in the middle quality wise.  It was definitely an enjoyable movie, and Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy definitely gave it their all to make it funny.  There were a lot of good belly laughs throughout the movie, and a lot of snark directed at pop culture in general.

Girlie Bear enjoyed it, and I enjoyed it, which is saying a lot in movies these days.  Most movies either appeal to little kids, tweens, teenagers, or adults.  Not many can cross those demographic barriers, so Shrek Forever After gets extra points for this.

If you liked the first three movies, this one is worth a matinee or rental.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ear Worm

Last night, we let BooBoo watch "Shrek" after he had read two books and colored.  There's a scene in the movie where the titular character and his annoying sidekick enter the city of Duloc, which is a heavy handed allusion to DisneyLand.  There's even an annoying song that is sung by puppets as they enter. 

I've had the following song running through my head all night and all day ever since, and I thought I'd share.


Welcome to Duloc, such a perfect town
Here we have some rules, let us lay them down
Don't make waves, stay in line
And we'll get along fine
Duloc is a perfect place
Please do not walk on the grass
Shine your shoes, wipe your... face.
Duloc is, Duloc is, Duloc is a perfect... place!

Dinner tonight

Crockpot Roast

Put 1 medium sized chuck roast in the crock pot.  Chop up 1 large vidalia onion and add to crock pot.  Peel and chop 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, add to pot.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, rosemary, worcestershire sauce.   If you're not going to be feeding a toddler, consider adding some dried chilis.  Pour in one bottle Smithwicks beer.  Cover and set to medium heat.  Let cook for 8 to 10 hours.

Serve with either egg noodles or rice.

I'm looking forward to some tasty noms when I get home tonight.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Am I a racist for being surprised that Martha Stewart had Al Roker making watermelon margaritas today?

Or do I just need coffee?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Clams on the half shell, spiced with mustard gas

A crew of fishermen off the coast of Massachusetts caught more than they expected while dredging for clams.  The pulled up three canisters of what is believed to be mustard gas. When one of them was found to be leaking, they threw them overboard, but apparently not before they were exposed enough to have some respiratory distress and skin irritation.

They got lucky.   Those old agents are no joke.  People who complain about a little tear gas at the Up With People rally should try being exposed to a real chemical weapon.

When I was a Boy Scout, we met with a group of World War I and II veterans about the meaning of Memorial Day and Veteran's Day.  They were explaining to us about Buddy Poppies, and what we as scouts could do to help disabled veterans.  One of the gentlemen wore long sleeves and gloves, even though it was extremely hot and muggy.  One of the younger scouts asked him about it, and he said he'd been wounded in the war, and didn't want to scare anyone with the scars.  Seems his unit had been hit with mustard gas and he didn't get covered up quickly enough.  He never did show us those scars, but if a grown man is cautious about covering up his battle scars because they'd scare children, they were probably pretty horrendous.

Later, when I was the assistant Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological NCO for my company, I got to watch a lot of training film about how different chemical weapons worked and what they did to test animals.  None of it was something I really want to think about again.  Suffice it to say that the threat of someone using chemical weapons against a city gives me a cold shiver down my back.

Those fishermen are extremely lucky that only got minimal exposure to agents that were old and probably very cold from being in the water.  Here's hoping that they heal and that their boat gets de-conned properly so they can get back to their business.  By the way, someone should tell the local firechief that mustard gas is a blistering agent, not a nerve agent.  If that had been VX instead of mustard, none of those guys would have made it off the boat alive.

Sayings From a Previous Life

I came up with these shortly after I left the military.  I was thinking recently about how much I've changed since I joined up, and since I left the Army.  But these still hold true for me.  Enjoy.

  • Even when you rest, scan the horizon.
  • You only truly appreciate sunrise if you've endured the cold night.
  • It only takes a few grains of carbon to turn a sophisticated weapon system into a club.
  • It doesn't matter how good the truck looks if it breaks down constantly.
  • You are never given a promotion or award that matters. You earn the ones that count.
  • No job operates independently. The Intel weenie doesn't directly engage the enemy, but the infantryman can't be utilized effectively if he doesn't know where the enemy is.
  • A march is only long if you haven't done it before.
  • Sometimes it's a blast, sometimes it's just a paycheck. If you can't remember the last time it was a blast, get another job.
  • It doesn't matter how heavy a load you carry at the beginning of the march.
  • Any moron can shoot. It takes skill to hit.
  • If you're not willing to maintain and fix it, you don't get to drive it.
  • Take pleasure from the small things. They may be all you get.
  • Leadership is more than giving orders.
  • Sometimes you have to be at the bottom of a well to see the light.
  • Genetics doesn't make a family.
  • Say hello as if you haven't seen them in years.
  • Say good-bye as if you'll never see them again.
  • Cherish the ones that are there, honor the ones that came before, and train the ones that are new.

Overheard at the office

Co-worker who caused an outage:  Are you doing OK?  Do you need anything from me?

DaddyBear, in a low growl - Just finishing up.  All but one of the servers has been shocked and given atropine directly to the coronary muscle.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Update in my Automotive Drama

Over the weekend, I replaced a leaking power steering hose on my truck.  This is conceptually a simple operation.  Disconnect two hex connectors, put in the new hose, and tighten two identical hex connectors.  However, when trying to get my meathooks and 3/4" open wrench down the side of the engine to disconnect it, I found that the only way I could get enough leverage to break the connector open was to get my wrist to bend almost 90 degrees in the wrong direction and lock my elbow into a really unnatural position.  I was then able to use my body's weight to push against these joints and break the hose loose. 

Luckily I was smart enough to do this before I ran the engine up, so I didn't brand my forearms with the Dodge symbol from the side of the engine block.  I did not, however, think to power wash the engine before attempting this.  Did you know that power steering fluid that has been scorched on a hot engine block is more of a lubricant than graphite and will eat its way into any cracks in your skin, tattooing your hands and fingers with a series of black lines?

But eventually I was able to get the hose off and put the new one on.  It was during the installation of the new hose that I found that I had placed my drip bucket under the wrong part of the engine, and about a quart of power steering fluid was running down the driveway.  I grabbed a handful of paper towels and mopped up what I could. 

I then changed the oil, which thankfully was quick, easy, and only as messy as expected. 

I took the truck for a quick spin to check it out, and the steering was smooth as glass.  I was very overdue for changing the oil, so the engine ran noticably smoother.  

Got back and gave the section of driveway I had gotten power steering fluid and oil on, then parked the truck.  Overall, I'm quite happy with how my 2001 Ram is driving.  It's not perfect, but it's also 10 years old. 

I also wanted to change out the serpentine belt, because it looks like the truck has the one that was installed at the factory 100k miles ago.  But the guy at Autozone was unable to figure out exactly which of the 3 belts that are marked for my truck and it's engine I would need, so I'm going to try somewhere else.  The dealer wants $60 for a Mopar belt, so I'll see if I can do better at another parts store.

For those who are curious about the van, it still sits unmoving in my carport.  I got another starter motor for it, but even with a brand new starter it won't crank.  Which means I need to get it to a mechanic to have the flywheel checked out.   When I found out how much that would cost, I had about a reaction pretty much like this one:

So I'll continue to just drive the truck for now.  If I don't have it fixed by Christmas, I'll have it towed to my Ford dealer, ask him how much he wants to give me in trade, and get rid of it.  If it's running reliably by then, I may hold off for a while and enjoy not having a car payment.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Well, summer is pretty much here.  For the past week and a half the temperature has hovered at around 90 degrees, with high humidity.  Today it cooled off quite a bit, and there's a breeze.  But that's temporary.  It'll be hot and muggy again very soon.

On the bright side, all of this heat and sunshine has done wonders for the plant life in our little suburban jungle out there. 

The wildflowers across the road from us are almost as tall as I am.

The yucca are beautiful this time of year.

Irish Woman's day lilies are doing really well.  There are about 100 like this scattered around the front yard.

And of course, there are the tiger lilies.  I see these everywhere here.  I guess they grow wild.  Irish Woman has used them to create a low screen in a few places.

And the plants aren't the only thing that's being fruitful and multiplying.  We thought our small pond didn't have any fish in it after we left the hose on all night and the fish we've been raising for years all died.  Then, to our surprise, there are 100 or so small black and gold minnows swimming around.  Something must have left eggs behind.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Dr. Grumpy has a good example of people who weren't raised right.  Another doctor noticed him cleaning up a mess caused by an exploding can of soda, and said that he should leave that for "drudges".

People who think that their education, position, breeding, or income exempts them from good manners or remembering the need to treat all people with equal respect get under my skin.

I came from pretty low on the socio-economic scale.  My family skipped right across the bottom of the lower-middle class scale during good times, and dipped lower multiple times while I was growing up.  I've done some really ugly things to earn my daily bread and to provide for my family.  I don't even blink when I have to mow, paint, wash, mop, or build something.  I don't enjoy it, but I don't think of it as something beneath me.

It was only in the last year that as a systems administrator I acquiesced and let technicians install or deinstall hardware for me.  Not that I don't think the techs can do it well (they do it better and faster than I do), but that I didn't think it was necessary for someone else to do the job for me.

Several people I know who came up like I did have the opposite reaction.  Kind of an "I don't have to do that anymore, so I refuse to".  If that's your attitude, so be it.  Most of them who are like that at least show respect for the guy cleaning the men's room. 

Some of the people I know, as my grandmother used to say, came from the lace-curtain side of town.  They were fortunate enough to grow up with money, attended really good schools, and came into the work force with the skills and background that kept them out of the drudge-work market entirely.  Nothing against them, they just come from a different socio-economic viewpoint than I do.

A lot of them grew up with manners.  Even though they have never had to mow their own yard or clean their own house, they aren't above doing the dishes or running a lawnmower when it's necessary.  Even if they pay a house keeper or lawn service, they don't look down on the people they pay to do it.

It's the people, no matter how they grew up, who not only refuse to do their own chores, but look down upon those who do it for them that make my teeth itch.  These people need to be issued a Mark I Shit Shovel and pointed towards a cow barn for a couple of months to learn some skills and humility. 

I don't care if you came up from the street or were to the manor born, no work is beneath you, and no-one who works for their living is worthy of your contempt. 

Get the Truck!

It's National Doughnut Day, and both Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme are giving away free donuts.

We're packing our crew van with people and heading out. If I don't post again today, it's because I'm sitting in a corner humming from the sugar and coffee.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

1 Down, 3 To Go

Junior Bear graduated from high school yesterday, and I took him to his dorm at university this morning.

It's been a long row to how with him, but he made it.  We were extremely lucky in that we got him into a good school.  Out of a graduating class of almost 450, there were 27 students who finished with a 4.0 GPA.  Junior wasn't one of those, but he graduated. 

His grandparents came down from Minnesota to see the ceremony and spend some time with him.  I was worried that seeing my ex-inlaws after so many years would be uncomfortable, but we kept the small talk light and I enjoyed seeing them.  Junior's mom couldn't make it, so I was sure to take pictures and send them along to her.

His university is close, so we packed up the truck this morning and had a pleasant drive up to Indiana.  He will be sharing an apartment in the dorm with 3 other young men this summer, but he has his own room.  I was worried that he would out-slob any roommates, but after seeing the state of the room, I have no worries that he will be even more of a slob than them.  The dorms are brand new, so they're very up-to-date and nice.   After unloading all of his boxes and bags into his room, we headed up the street for groceries.  I stocked him up for a month or so, and I'll go back up and refill him in July.  Hopefully by then he'll have a job and can provide for himself outside of the occasional boost from his mother and me.

I don't feel any of the emotions that people have reported to me about his moving on.  I'm just glad he graduated and has a plan to get a good education.  I suppose the first time I try to do something I enjoyed doing with him or when I clean out his room to start it's re-purposing as a man cave it'll hit me.

So, good luck Junior Bear.  You're finally free from The Man.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Thought for the day

If you put trays of cherries and strawberries in the food dryer overnight, you will wake up to a house that smells absolutely, sinfully delicious.  You will also wake up with an insatiable craving to go to IHOP.
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