Thursday, March 31, 2011

Comfort Food Meatloaf

This is good, mid-western, stick to your ribs food.  I can't eat like this often, but every so often, you need a meal your grandmother would have made.  I needed a comfort food meal tonight, so I made one of my favorites - meatloaf.


2 pounds moderately lean ground beef, pork, or lamb.  For great taste, use a little of each.  You need a little fat to keep the loaf from drying out.
2 pounds ground turkey or chicken
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup rolled oats or spiced bread crumbs
1 large white onion, chopped fine, or 1/2 cup dried onions
Canadian steak seasoning, to taste (dried garlic, course salt, and course ground black pepper)
Worcestershire Sauce, to taste
Optional - Red pepper flake or Hot sauce to taste.

Wash hands
Mix all ingredients in large mixing bowl.  Best results are gained if done using your hands.
Scoop mix into 9x13 pan.  Pat into uniform thickness in the pan.  I've also seen this done where the mix was put into muffin tins to make little individual loaves.  If you do that, adjust your cook time down a bit.
Wash hands
Place into 375 degree oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.  Center of loaf will be approximately 175 to 180 degrees when done.  Let rest for 10 minutes after removing from the oven.

Yes, wash your hands several times.  You're going to be working your hands through raw meat here.

Serve with your favorite comfort starch, such as mashed potatoes or mac n cheese, and at least one vegetable.

Today's Earworm

March 31st is the opening day of Major League Baseball.  It's been a tradition for the past 100 years for the president to throw out the first ball in each season.  In commemoration of our Fearless Leader's efforts to do this, I present this:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Housewarming Party

This evening Irish Woman and I actually got a babysitter and went to a housewarming party for some new neighbors.  Of course, these neighbors are apex predators, live at the Louisville Zoo, and have claws that look like they could flay a porcupine in one swipe.

Tonight was the opening party for the Glacier Run exhibit at the zoo.  Irish Woman has been working as part of the fundraising board at the zoo for years to help pay for it all.  This was a nice way for her to show me what all of the late nights, weekends, and trips to the store for supplies have bought.

This new exhibit is the replacement exhibit for the zoo's old tiger, polar bear, and seal exhibits.  After tearing down the 1960's era swimming pool exhibits, new habitats that more closely resemble actual terrain were constructed.  The big phase of the exhibit, the bear enclosures, is almost complete, and will be open to the public on April 26.

The zoo lucked out and was able to get a polar bear to replace the one they shipped out several years ago.  The new bear seems to be getting used to her new digs, and is being trained to let the keepers hand feed her so that she can be checked out every day.

In addition to the polar bear, last year a couple members of the zoo staff made a round trip to Montana and retrieved a mother bear and her two cubs that were going to be euthanized as nuisance bears.  The cubs are between six and eight months old now and are between 200 and 300 pounds by the look of them.  They are much more curious than their mother, who for the most part just laid down in the corner and glowered at passersby.  Then again, she is a truly wild bear who has been brought into captivity.  Her one interaction with me was to puff herself up and make a rush at the plexiglass window.   In related news, I now know exactly how fast a grizzly bear can move 20 feet.  I also know that in the event that a bear in the wild wants to run me down and use me as a pinata, I am hosed, armed or not.

This cub was much more gregarious than his mother, and spent the 20 minutes or so I watched him slowly demolishing a fish-cicle.

One of the cubs is a male, and I overheard one of the supervisors at the zoo saying that they hope to use him as a stud to other zoos.  Since he was born in the wild, his DNA isn't present in any of the breeding programs, so as long as he's healthy, he should be very useful in that respect.  The zoo expects to be able to keep the cubs until they are 3 to 5 years old, at which point they will probably be transferred to another zoo.

The bear habitat is modeled after an Alaskan mining town, and the bears have areas on both sides of the main street, as well as an overhead walkway that allows them to be moved from one place to another easily.  There is a large pool for them to swim in, with a HUGE window that will allow visitors to watch how graceful a polar bear can be in the water.  There is also a classroom that will be used to teach visitors and school groups about the bears and other arctic wildlife.  There are rumors of overnight campouts for kids at the bear enclosure.

Next to the bear area is the seal and sea lion exhibit.  The polar bear can actually see the seals swimming around, which to me is like putting me next to an all you can eat pizza buffet and not letting me partake, but the deep and wide dry moat between them should keep seals from becoming snacks.  There is a nice, shady seating area to watch the seals from, as well as another large window so that you can watch them swim underwater.

We are really looking forward to taking Boo and the other kids to see this new exhibit.  We're lucky that Irish Woman's work at the zoo lets us see some things behind the scenes, but just taking the kids and wandering around the zoo is one of my favorite things to do in Louisville.  I think this new exhibit is going to be one of our favorites.

Pittsburgh Bound

Well, I've got my hotel reservation, permission from Irish Woman, and vacation scheduled.

Looks like now all I have to do is make it to the NRA Convention without becoming a Transportation Department statistic.

Anyone else going?

I'm afraid that family business kept me away from the convention when it was in Louisville a couple of years ago, so this will be my first.  Any suggestions on what to definitely see from those who've been to one of these shindigs?

Today's Earworm

This one's been floating around in my head since someone mentioned in #GBC the other night.

I'll always look at not seeing Queen in concert as one of the lost opportunities of my young life. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Today's Earworm

H/T to Radley Balko for this one!

Product Review - Roku XDS Media Player

OK, I'm a geek.  This isn't a gun review, or even a tactical equipment review.  This is a review of a little black electronic box that measures about 2" by 4 " by 4".

For about a year now, we've been using our Nintendo Wii to watch Netflix streaming video, and that has led me to discover a lot of the other streaming services that unfortunately don't mate with the Wii.  So I've been looking for something to either supplement or replace the Wii as a media player. My requirements were:

  • Play Netflix, and Amazon Prime video streams
  • Have the ability to add video streams as I discover them
  • Play videos from my movie collection, either by streaming from one of our computers or by connecting media to it directly
  • Interface with my 2004-purchased non-HD TV without degrading the video signal.  I'm not replacing my TV so I can watch old re-runs of Hawaii 5-0.

I looked at the new AppleTV when I bought the Macbook in December, but the salesman was very clear that it would interface only with an HD TV.  I also looked at some of the network enabled BlueRay players, but had the same issue.   I'm a cheap bastard, and I'm not going to spend money on a new TV until one of my sets dies.

A friend of mine suggested the Roku, and the price was right.  There three models of Roku box, priced from $59 to $99.  I bought the $99 model, since it came out of the box with the non-HD connectors for my "old" TV, had a USB connection to attach removable media and play movies, and had an "enhanced" remote.  I figured for $100, I could try it out, and if I didn't like it, I could put it up on eBay or Craig's List and re-sell it for most of what I paid for it.

Once it arrived, connection and set up took about 30 minutes.  The only wrinkle was getting it to talk to my wireless network, and the issue was more on the router end than on the player.  After that it was just a matter of configuring my Netflix and Amazon accounts to play over it, and then exploring the menus to find content streams that interested me.

In addition to the movies and TV shows on Netflix and Amazon, there are around 100 other channels that provide video and audio for a lot of different tastes.  I've configured a news stream, a children's programming stream, the NASA channel, and the "channel" that allows for playback from removable media.  This feature seems to be early in development, but plays movies from a USB drive pretty easily.  Basically, there is content available for a lot of different interests.  I will eventually add more to my default menu as I have time to explore.  A friend of mine suggests Hulu Plus, which plays a lot more current TV shows than Netflix or Amazon, so I may check that out.  My goal is to eventually cut down on the cable TV packages we have and watch content on the Roku.  That will save me money in the long run, even if I have to pay a few dollars a month to get to some content.  I just have to prove to Irish Woman that the technology works and we will indeed still get to the programming that she enjoys.

Overall, I'm very happy with the Roku.  I've reached the point in life that 99.99% of programming on cable is crap to me, even on former favorite channels like "Discovery" and "History Channel".  By having easy access to on-demand content streams, I can take the hour or so of TV that I watch a day and make sure it's something I want to watch.  And there is enough family and kids content that when I want to let the kids watch a cartoon or a movie, they aren't watching the same three episodes of Barney the Purple Dinosaur over and over.  And I'm making sure that there is content for Irish Woman.  I live by the credo "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy".

FCC Disclaimer - No money or other material gain on my part here.  Go bug someone else.

Things you don't want to hear

We all have those phrases that we don't want to hear:

"Sweetheart, we need to talk"
"Dad, where's the fire extinguisher and first aid kit?"
"Can you remember the last time I took birth control?"

This afternoon, I heard a new one:

Ring Ring
DaddyBear:  "Hello?"
Girlie Bear:  "Dad?  It's raining in the basement."
DaddyBear: "Wait, what?"

Not "OMFG DAD!  THE BASEMENT IS FLOODING!!!!eleven!!!!".  but "It's raining in the basement."  No emotion, smooth as silk.  Might as well be telling me that she'd finished her homework and was going outside to ride her bike.

Apparently the main drain line out of the bathroom somehow became occluded with debris of some sort, and the overflow from bathroom fixtures was running through the floor and into the thankfully unfinished side of the basement directly below.

This accelerated my drive home.  Luckily, the prodigious application of plunger, drain snake, cussing, and drain cleaner corrected the issue.  Follow-up application of hot bleach water appear to have kept the zombie apocalypse from originating in my home.

I'm proud of her in that she knew not to panic and to call me rather than try to tear apart the plumbing with a wrench.  But that phrase will definitely go into my list of things I never want to hear again.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Why I love my Siamese

Or, "Trying to explain the claw marks on my arm and chest"

I'm currently all splayed out in the armchair in the living room.  Boo is asleep, Irish Woman is in the other room getting ready for bed, and Girlie Bear just came out for her good night hug.  Just doing a little blog reading and syncing the iPhone before heading to bed.  As the saying goes, I wasn't hurting nobody.

Koshka, she of the fire in her eyes, was sitting on the back of the chair, purring into my ear.  I tossed my head a couple of times while reading to get her to knock it off, which eventually she did.  A moment later, I heard a thump and all of the things on the top of the antique oak china hutch shifted as she vaulted from the back of the chair to its top shelf.

Looking up, I exclaimed "Koshka, get your fuzzy self down from there!".

I swear, if a cat could shrug, Koshka shrugged.  After giving me a baleful look, she launched herself off of the top shelf of the hutch, landing with her back paws on my left arm and her front paws on my chest.  Did I mention her nice, long, sharp claws?  She then re-launched herself halfway across the living room while I tried to get my breath back enough that I could grasp her by her neck and wring it.  Luckily for her, her catlike reflexes are quicker than my catlike reflexes, so she lives to pounce another day.

She and I have come to a detente.  I have agreed to not seek vengeance, she agrees to sit under the reading lamp and sun herself until bedtime.  It's a mutually beneficial agreement.

Now where did I put that Bactine?

Job of the Day

Wayward Cobra Catcher - The successful applicant will be placed in a building believed to contain a missing African cobra and charged with the task of re-capturing the serpent and returning it to its enclosure.

Question - Who does the zoo director or head herpetologist send in to catch the cobra?   Does he or she risk injury to a valuable experienced crew member, or do you just line up four or five red-shirted interns and have them take turns at cobra wrangling?

Question The Second - Assuming that the interns are used, what incentive do you give college students to put on the "snake proof" suit and head in?  Do you buy pizza and soda for the post-snake party?  Maybe promise to donate a keg to their end of semester party?  Or do you think "If you survive, I'll make sure to give you a glowing personnel review" would work?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Challenging Reality

What do we want?
Everything we've got coming to us!
What have we earned?
Not much!
When do we want it?

Half a million Britons decided today would be a wonderful day to take a stroll through London and let the government know that they didn't appreciate it lessening its practice of taking money from the productive members of society and redistributing it to those who may or may not work for it.  Along the way, some of them thought it would be fun to vandalize businesses and make a nuisance of themselves.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber told the rally, "We are here to send a message to the government that we are strong and united. We will fight the savage cuts and we will not let them destroy peoples' services, jobs and lives."
While I'm not a British subject, and honestly I have no idea what the traditional role the British government has played in the lives of its subjects, I honestly believe that the amount of social intervention on the part of the government in Great Britain is unprecedented in the history of that ancient country, and cannot be sustained much longer.  My gut tells me that it's not really the government's job to provide services and jobs.  Maybe an argument can be made that the government bears some responsibility for protecting its subjects lives, but probably not in the manner that Mr. Barber means.

Over on our side of the big water, we're also seeing some of these rumblings, as evidenced by the raucous demonstrations in Madison, Wisconsin, and other state capitols where governors are realizing that there just aren't enough drops left in the lemon to keep paying off the masses.  

The reality that there is a finite amount of money in a healthy economy, and even less in an unhealthy economy is starting to sink in.  Middle-class people who are having to tighten their belts in order to make sure the lights stay on and the mortgage gets paid are becoming less and less sympathetic towards those who don't think they should feel the same pain while taking money from the public coffers.  So while the ants try to shrink the public budget as much as they shrink their personal budgets, the grasshoppers will continue to complain shrilly and make a general nuisance of themselves.

My gut feeling is that there will be a lot of these stories over the summer.  Those who do not want to accept reality will continue to make it hard for the rest of us to get on with what must be done.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Aw, Hell No!

For today's Whiskey Tango Foxtrot award, we recognize the Pottawattamie County, Iowa, Emergency Management Agency.  As the background situation for their emergency preparedness exercise, they envisioned a mass-shooting by a teenage gun nut who was opposed to a recent influx of immigrants.  Police and other emergency workers would then react to the situation.  Some people, including me, find this backstory insulting.  

Officials maintain that the scenario is immaterial to the exercise, and was only thrown into the plan so that federal funding could be acquired for it: 

This scenario and supporting suspect profiles are only in the plan in order to define this FICTITIOUS INCIDENT as a domestic terrorism event and to provide simulated intelligence that responding law enforcement would want and/or eventually request during the event,” Reed wrote. “There will be NO role-playing of racist protests, slander or hate crimes during the actual exercise … the only thing being exercised is the RESPONSE to a shooting, we are not exercising events leading up to the shooting.

In order to assist the PCEMA in finding plausible, real-world, situations for their exercises, I submit the following ideas:

All of these scenarios would fit the bill, but the last one is probably the best generic "Get the boys, there's been a shooting at the school" scenario to train and test your emergency response capabilities.  Speaking for  us Caucasian gun-toting anti-illegal immigration males, the "Crazy White Boy With A Gun And A Grudge" premise is wearing a bit thin.

Suicidal Herbivores

Dear Does,

It appears that some mass hysteria has struck your ranks.  In the 5 miles between the highway and my home, three of your number attempted to end their lives by impacting themselves on the front bumper and/or fenders of my minivan.  I also saw large groups of you standing in the fields next to the road, all of which seemed to stare longingly at the cars that were passing them.

Whatever is troubling you, it's not worth dying for.  Life is good.  Spring has sprung, the grass is green and sweet, and the trees are budding.  Soon, there will be a new herd of fawns to take care of, and the trees will be full of fruit before you know it.  Just get through this rough period and you will be fine.

If you still feel this way in November, please feel free to line up in front of my friends and me, and we will ensure that your death goes to a good cause.  Namely, to fill our freezers and jerky dryers.

In the meantime, if you need someone to talk to, or a shoulder to cry on, my dog Shadow spends his afternoon in the yard that backs up to the field with the apple tree and blackberry bushes.  He is a good listener, and is known for giving wonderful hugs.

Yours sincerely,


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Don't Do It

Looks like my junior senator, Rand Paul, may be considering a run for the Oval Office.

I certainly hope not, at least not in 2012.

We're in the middle of the mess that an inexperienced junior senator can make when he looks for the next job before he can do the one he was just elected to.

Barack Obama is already the second coming of Jimmy Carter.  We don't need that again.

Would Rand Paul have a chance of getting elected?  Maybe, maybe not.  But you shouldn't run for President while you're still figuring out how to be a Senator.

Wrong Answer

The U.S. European Command has mandated that service members assigned to Europe shall not wear their uniforms off post.

The directive specifically forbids the wearing of uniforms for travel between duty and domicile, short convenience stops, conduct of physical fitness, travel between installations, and off post messing
This is in response to the shooting earlier this month of several Air Force personnel at Frankfurt Airport.

So, in order to keep Islamic fanatics from harming our service members, we are having them take off their uniform before driving home, usually in an American vehicle, with a license plate that says "U.S." on it.  But at least they won't be wearing their uniform.  No word on a dress code that keeps PFC Snuffy from taking the Strassenbahn home wearing his Chicago Bears sweatshirt while sporting a high and tight haircut. 

Rules like this have been put in place in different places whenever the perceived threat of violence or harassment of military personnel happens.  They're usually worthless.

If a lunatic wants to kill American service members, then he is not going to be inconvenienced by not being able to just find the people in uniform.  American military grooming standards and habits make us stick out in a crowd of any civilians.  American soldiers tend to buy most of their clothing from either the PX or from American mail order companies such as Amazon, not on the local economy.  Picking the American out of a crowd of Germans at the beer fest or at the airport is trivial.

What needs to happen is for the Status of Forces Agreements (SOFA) with our NATO allies need to be re-negotiated to allow American service members to protect themselves.   Our soldiers walk around the world every day, and unless they're in a combat zone, they're usually kept unarmed by force of regulation and law.  If Germany and the other European partners can't guarantee the safety of our soldiers in their countries, which they can't, then our service members deserve the right to carry something better than their European Shoulder Bags to protect themselves.  Maybe not firearms, because why would we expect people trained to be responsible with firearms to actually be responsible with firearms, but at least a knife bigger than something from Victorinox.

Commanders who think that a half-hearted effort to camouflage their subordinates in a civilian population will protect them are worse than fools, and should know better. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

On Manhood

LabRat and BRM have done an excellent job in the past few days discussing perceptions of manhood and the problems with these perceptions.  Read all of their posts, because they put it much better than I could ever hope to.

As for myself, I have some ideas on what makes an adult human male a man:

  • A man will hold the door for women, help an old lady with her groceries, and defend a ladies honor.  He does this not because women cannot do these things for themselves, but because they should never have to.
  • A man will take his turn at the 3 AM feeding and diaper change.
  • A man will overlook a slight against him, but will immediately apologize if he realizes he's been impolite.
  • A man will sometimes act childlike, but should never act childish.
  • A man will wash the grease from working on the truck off of his hands before braiding his daughter's hair.
  • A man means it when he says "This is going to hurt me more than it does you"
  • A man may like it when he comes home to a hot dinner, but is more than willing to cook his wife a hot meal before she comes home
  • A man may be gruff, grumbly, and altogether prickly all day long, but will still be happy to read Dr. Seuss before bedtime
  • A man will come home from a long day of hunting or fishing and be grateful for the healthy salad that's prepared for dinner
  • A man will, without complaint, sell the sports car and the boat, drop all of his expensive bad habits, shut off the cable TV, and work three jobs if that's what it takes to put food on the table and heat in the house.  He will not do this for any reason other than it's what's expected.
  • A man will recognize that his wife is perfectly capable of earning at least as much money as he does, but he will never take it for granted.  
  • A man will always make sure that his wife and children know just how important they are in his life, even if he never heard it from his father.
So there you are. The DaddyBear Guide to Being  a Mensch.  Not as well thought out and articulate as others, but it's mine.

Things I wish I could see again

All of us have things we wish we could do again.  There are places and people we'd like to see one more time.  Some of them are from our childhood, some we experienced as adults.

Every now and then, and for some reason more frequently lately, I will be reminded of something that I cherished, but will probably never see again.

  • Sunrise over the desert in Arizona
  • Sunset in West Texas
  • The night sky over the Great Plains
  • Snow drifting across the prairie
  • The changing of the guard at Buckingham and Red Square
  • A thunderstorm coming down a valley in the Wasatch
  • A lightning storm in the Chiracahuas
What are some of the things in your life you wish you could see one more time?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Citizenship Test

I am extremely lucky in that my citizenship was given to me at my first breath.  Others make the conscious decision to become citizens.*  I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to give up the country of your birth and attempt to make a new life in a new land.  On more than one occasion, I've heard immigrants say that coming to the United States was the best thing they ever did, but that they would never stop thinking it was funny to need a passport to return to the land of their birth.

Becoming a U.S. citizen isn't easy.  Even if you're lucky enough to already speak English, you still have to learn about our government's structure and workings, our history, and our culture.  You have to undergo background and criminal checks, and have to stay out of trouble for years in order to qualify.  You must also undergo an examination of your knowledge of our country.

Someone provided me with a link to a practice exam on-line.  It's instructive, as a citizen, to take it.  We give every person born here citizenship, but unless they go to an old fashioned school that still requires civics courses, we never expect them to be able to defend their knowledge of our country. I know that poll tests are a bad thing, but it might not be a bad idea if everyone prove that they know something about our government before they serve on a jury or vote.  They test us before they give us a driver's license, why not a ballot or jury slip?

Anyway, enjoy.  I got a 94%, and I'm curious how you all did.

*And bless them, every one.  Without the multiple waves of immigrants from around the world, the stew in the American melting pot would be pretty bland. 

Lyrics for today

In light of the air war in Libya, I thought I'd put these up.

Where have all the hippies gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the hippies gone?
Long time ago.
They've gone silent for one of their own.
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Fighting liberals from the sky
These are men who whine and cry
100 missiles will launch today
But Cindy Sheehan has nothing to say

And it's one, two, three
What are we fighting for?
To get oil for France and Italy
Next stop is Tripoli
And it's five six seven
Open up the oily taps
Ain't no time for congressional approval
Whoopie! Let's talk about Quaddafi's removal!

Monday, March 21, 2011

That's one big bunny

Scientists in Spain have found the skeleton of a prehistoric rabbit that got quite big:

The giant rabbit, dubbed Nuralagus rex, weighed 26.4 pounds, about six times the size of the living European rabbit
That is one large hasenpfeffer on the hoof.  A rabbit that big would feed a family of four for a week.  A family of them would provide enough fur to make a fuzzy lingerie for Rosie O'Donnell.

Too bad the species is gone.  Bunnies that big would make a good emergency protein supply for TEOTWAWKI.  

Catching up

I've been out of the net since last night.  Anything happening?  Mothra climb out of Tokyo Harbor yet?  Did Fearless Leader land on the Charles De Gaul to declare victory?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Today's Earworm

I thought this was appropriate for today, given the fact that the President sent our men and women into harm's way while he was in Rio for the weekend.

Quotes of the Day

Presented without commentary.  I think these speak for themselves

As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm’s way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home. I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.  - Senator Barack Obama  Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008
  "I don't oppose all wars." Obama said, "What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war...." -  Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 36-37 Apr 1, 2008
Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. The world, and the Iraqi people would be better off without him. But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.  - In His Own Words, edited by Lisa Rogak, p.143 Mar 27, 2007
Thanks to On The Issues for compiling these. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

War In Libya

The United States, in concert with European allies, has begun attacking the Libyan government of Qaddafi.

Donald Sensing does a better job than I can expressing reservations about the justification, limits, and goals of this action.

I will only add that if the President doesn't call a joint session of Congress in the next 48 hours and get a congressional resolution authorizing the use of force without a clear and present danger to the country, then he may be in trouble with the War Powers Act. It's possible that he wants a showdown over the Act, which limits his power, but it's also possible that he believes that it's irrelevant.  If he takes the latter position, then the legal and constitutional wrangling could get interesting.

While I question this action by our government, I will be keeping the airmen and sailors of our country and our allies in my thoughts and prayers.  You're not going to see me or people like me standing outside of an air force base or military hospital protesting the bombardment of Libya, even though I disagree with the President.

Today's Earworm

This is extremely appropriate to my day so far.  Enjoy

Overheard in the Gym

Over-pumped 20-something douchebag spotter:  OK MAN!  HOW MUCH YOU GONNA LIFT THIS TIME!?
Over-pumped 20-something douchebag lifter:  ALL OF IT MAN!  ALL OF IT!  UUUNNNNNNGGGGGG!


Spotter Douchebag:  Crap!  OK, put the side with the weights down easy.  You OK, man?

Sometimes, the Lord does indeed answer prayers.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Forget Mike, I wanna be like Akaiwa

I'm a big softie myself.  I'm not a tough guy, or even an especially brave one.  Like the man said, I'm not a hero, but I've served in the company of heroes.  I've known some really hard people in my life: Navy Seals and Green Berets who were going through language training and enjoyed showing privates how to do evil things with piano wire and 550 cord, Finnish truck drivers who regularly drive from Helsinki to Kazakhstan and back with two quarts of vodka and a big pipe under the driver's seat, World War II Marine veterans who told me what it was like to assault an island from an open air boat, and the list goes on and on.

But I've never heard of anyone like Hideaki Akaiwa.  This guy, after surviving the tsunami in Japan, goes into the waters not once, not twice, but every single day since then looking for survivors.  He's not military, nor is he a policeman or fireman.  He's just a normal guy who found courage within himself at a crucial moment and did something outstanding.  The world needs more people like this.

Mal Hombre!

Thought for the day

I just watched "The Lion King" with Boo.  He's absolutely fascinated by the sequence where the main characters eat bugs and worms, which does not bode well for this summer.

Anyway, it occurred to me that Simba was a long haired emo kid until Rafiki dope slapped him and knocked some sense into him.  Just goes to show that a little dopeslap every now and then is good for you.

Good Luck With All That

Last night, the U.N. Security Council declared war on the government of Mohmar Qaddafi.  Oh, they call it a "no-fly zone", and they try to spread the responsibility around by asking member nations to voluntarily participate.  But if an organized group of sovereign nations decides to bomb the anti-aircraft defenses of another sovereign country and then shoot down any of that countries planes that take off, that's an act of war in my book.

So how's it going to happen?  I suppose whoever decides to enforce this could stage aircraft out of western Egypt, or maybe park a series of aircraft carriers off the coast and patrol the entire country.  Or a couple of airfields in Libya proper could be seized and air operations run out of there. 

There are those who think that using long range missiles and drones to crater airstrips to keep the Libyan Air Force on the ground without having to actually shoot down their planes.  One thing that this strategy misses is that Libya has helicopters which are almost as effective and survivable in ground attack roles as fixed wing aircraft, and can be flown out of just about every square inch of the country.  Libya also has quite a few fixed wing aircraft that are designed specifically to take off and land off on short, unimproved runways, which makes any well-packed road a temporary airstrip.

No, disabling the established airfields in Libya will not keep Qaddafi from using his airpower to continue to pound his opposition.  It doesn't take much to hide an MI-24 in a warehouse or a wadi, then trot it out again once the U.N. air patrol has moved on.  A small fixed wing aircraft can land on a patch of desert, be covered up with netting all day long, then be used during the night to bomb fixed rebel positions.  In order to keep the Libyan Air Force out of the fight, the aircraft and/or crews will need to be eliminated.

So the U.N. has committed to bombing, shooting down, and destroying the armed forces of a sovereign nation so that they cannot be used in an entirely internal civil war. 

Will President Obama park a couple of our already overtasked aircraft carriers off the Libyan coast and start flying interdiction missions?  Or maybe he'll park a couple of fighter wings in the Egyptian desert to patrol Libya and be the target of every Jihadi in the neighborhood who hasn't met his quota for the month.  Then there's the option of occupying air bases in Libya and flying out of there, but I can't see becoming an occupier and target for not just the Jihadi's but also both sides of the civil war. 

Maybe he'll choose to just provide logistical support to those who actually do the shootdowns.  Imagine the pride he'll feel when he's pointing at that during the 2012 elections.  "I cared enough about meddling in the affairs of another country that I sent our fighting men and women to tanker fuel, food, and spare parts to the French and Italians!"

It appears that France and Great Britain may already be gearing up to do the initial strikes in the next few days.  Diplomatic horse trading and cajoling is already underway to get members of the Arab League,who have been screaming for someone to do something about Qaddafi since the first shots were fired, to actually put some skin in the game.  Imagine that, Muslim countries putting the lives of their own young men at risk to maintain security in the Mid-East. What a novel idea.

This is an internal Libyan conflict. There is precisely zero chance, if it's left alone, of it spilling over into neighboring countries.  Qaddafi, while a ruthless dictator, has broken no international norms of warfare by using the armed forces at his disposal, either native or freelance, to defeat an armed uprising in his country.  What are we going to do when Saudi Arabia has to use their F-16's and M-1 tanks to put down an insurrection?  Or the government we continue to prop up in Iraq?  Will we let an unelected international body declare war on them?

We are best served by letting the Libyan rebellion either win by its own merits or lose.  If enough of the Libyan people feel their cause is just, then a large part of the armed forces will either turn on Qaddafi or will refuse to attack their own people.  By poking our noses into a conflict that is none of our business, we risk being wrapped up in it for years to come.

Late Saint Patrick's Day Earworm

Sorry this is a bit late.  Enjoy!

Quote of the Day

After knowing my mom, I'm surprised my dad didn't roam the country killing hookers with a spoon.

Christopher Titus

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Helping Out

We all want to help out when a friend has a tragedy in their lives.  Maybe we take over a meal to a grieving family, or we offer to sit with someone in the hospital so the caretakers can have a break.  Sometimes we just go to the grocery store for staples when we know a family is running short on money and their cupboards are getting a little bare, or we do some yard work for the elderly lady who's lost her husband.

One of our closest allies is struggling to provide for their people, and a lot of good NGO's are helping out.  I'm putting a link to this page, which makes it easier to make donations to reputable charities that are assisting the Japanese people, on my sidebar for the foreseeable future. 

Our family is keeping the Japanese people in our prayers every night, and if you're the praying sort, please consider sending a couple up for them as well.

Now this is what I call "Common Sense"

"Common Sense Gun Laws" is a term that's used by the anti-gun groups to describe their latest attempt to curtail our right to keep and bear arms.  Usually, they're some permutation of "I don't like it, so you can't do it".  Not very common sense to me.

This morning, I got an alert from the NRA that shows the Commonwealth of Kentucky does indeed have some common sense:
Today, Governor Steve Beshear signed into law two pro-gun bills. House Bill 308, with an NRA-supported amendment, will provide a pathway to restoring gun rights.  House Bill 313 will allow for concealed carry in a vehicle’s installed compartment. 

Bill 308 provides a method by which someone who's lost their right to arms can get them back by applying to the courts for an exception.  Like Alan over at Snarky Bytes says, if they're safe enough to be out roaming the streets, they're safe enough to be able to own a gun.

Bill 313 allows me to put a gun in the Irish Woman's car without having to put it in the glove compartment, which is impossible because the glove compartment is too small to put a pair of gloves in, much less a 1911.

Next time someone wants to talk to you about "common sense" gun regulations, point them this way. 

Funny thing is, these bills didn't get any play in the local news, and Beshear is a relatively middle of the road Democrat.  Both facts may lead me to believe that, at least here in Kentucky, guns, even guns owned by ex-cons or kept in the console of a minivan, aren't that big a deal.

Happy Stereotype Day!

This is the day where all of the people of Irish descent, people who are married to people of Irish descent, people who have heard of Ireland, and just plain alcoholics put on their green "Kiss me I'm Irish!" tee shirt, and bend a few elbows in salute to the great Irish tradition of mixing politics, religion, and alcohol.  Since I live in Kentucky, I can tell you that these traditions run strong through the American spirit.

I'm of a pretty mixed mixed ethnic heritage, but have more than a few drops of Irish blood in me.  As a kid, I found it interesting to learn about the national holidays of my ancestors:

Irish - March 17 - St. Patrick's Day - A day to look back at an island nation that most of our ancestors couldn't wait to leave.  A religious holiday in Ireland, but Americans make up for that by debauching themselves in ways that would make Sodom and Gemorrah blush.  Seriously, the Brazilians during Carnival have nothing on a a bunch of "Irishmen" in Boston or Chicago.
Norwegian - July 29 - St. Olaf's Day - Celebrated with a hearty meal of pickled beets, pickled onions, pickled fish, and potatoes.  Quietly wash all of this down with about half a bottle of Akavit and a few cans of PBR, then stare morosely at the great plains out your back door, which still seem cold in late July.

German - Late September - Oktoberfest - A rollicking good time to taste all the beers of the world, eat wonderful sausages and roast chicken, fling heavy glass beer mugs at strangers during a brawl, and remember the good old days when invading Poland and France was the national pastime.

French Canadian - June 24 - National Holiday of Quebec - A great day to drink a little wine, make a few political speeches about an occupation that's been happening since the 1760's, and in general get mad because your country has the audacity to allow English to be spoken.

Scottish - December 31 - Hogmanay - While the rest of the world celebrates the year that's passing and the year yet to come, the Scots are cleaning out their houses, singing Robert Burns songs badly, drinking the sludge from the bottom of the whiskey barrel, and lighting their torches.  On the other hand, those last two might just be what you do for fun on a Saturday night in Glasgow.

In all seriousness, I feel more than a little blessed that my ancestors, no matter where they came from, had the courage to decide that the place where their ancestors had lived for centuries wasn't good enough.  It takes real guts to get on a boat with what little you can carry and head off to another continent where few speak your language and you have no promise of prosperity.

So when you're drowning the shamrock this evening, remember that our immigrant ancestors gave up a lot to come here and make a better life for themselves and their descendents. 


Quote of the day

For the sake of the diversity committee, I would like to point out that Captain Donna Buono is a woman, and a helicopter pilot, so the US Army is doing it's best to ensure that women get their chance to grind the Taliban to dust and hammer the ashes into oblivion.  Never let it be said that Deebow is not in support of hot Army chicks of any color using state of the art ordnance to poophammer the beJesus out of those that would keep their fine forms in a burkha...  You go Captain Buono...

Deebow, over at Blackfive, discussing the use of close air support in Afghanistan.

I heartily agree. I love a woman in uniform.  If she can look good in BDU's, then she'll melt the sidewalk in a dress.  And a woman who can rain death and destruction from the sky gets extra hawtness points.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


At what point did a drug addict or alcoholic stop checking into the hospital to dry out and begin entering a treatment facility for rehab?

When did raising kids become parenting?

When did a teacher become an educator, or a garbageman become a sanitation worker, or public servants become public employees?

When did cop shows, doctor shows, westerns, and sitcoms get overtaken by white trash programming like reality TV and talk shows?

When did tattoos go from being something that Marines get in Singapore to what any 18 year old twit could get at the local strip mall?

When did working hard, saving money, and being responsible go out of fashion?

I don't have the answers to any of these, but my gut tells me it's somehow the fault of the hippies.

Requiescat in Pace

Today, the last of an extraordinary generation of American patriots was laid to rest near the grave of his commanding general.  Both the President and Vice-President took the time to attend his memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery.

Corporal Frank Buckles and his comrades were the first examples of Americans who went to war to protect and liberate others, not because the country itself had been attacked or was in danger.  They answered the call to fight to make other men free, and they did so with a vigor and conviction that I have never seen in my own life.  They got no G.I. Bill or signing bonuses, or even what we would consider basic medical care in exchange for the best years of their young lives.  They provided the backbone that the Allies had lost over years of trench warfare, and gave the Allies the edge needed to break the stalemate and end the war.

These men came home to build the great factories and cities that rose up in our country in the first half of the 20th century.  They raised their sons and daughters through good times, bad times, and the worst bad time in our nation's history.  Those who didn't find a way to re-up in 1941 kept the country running while the greatest conflagration the world has ever seen raged, and provided an arsenal of democracy for the rest of the free world.  They didn't do these things for glory, and they rarely became rich.  They did it because it was the right thing to do.

Now the last of their number has joined the ranks at Fiddler's Green, and is probably forming up to pass in review for the Almighty with the rest of a proud and worthy generation.  It is to the generation of our grandfathers and great grandfathers that we say goodbye today.  We will not see their like again.  They were an integral part of our history, and they will be sorely missed.

Qel Surpris!

The Russian space agency has hiked the amount NASA will have to pay them to ferry astronauts up to the International Space Station.  Beginning in 2014, the cost of moving one American butt from Baikonur to the ISS will go from $56 million to $63 million dollars per person.

The contract extension with the Russian Space Agency totals $753 million, which covers trips for a dozen astronauts from 2014 through 2016.

NASA blames the price increase on "inflation".


Let me explain this to you, Sparky the NASA Spokesperson, and I'll try to use small words.

Inflation?  Really?  Either you're as dumb as a bag of hammers or you think we all are.  This is extortion, nothing more or less.  Either we pay them through the nose to get into space or we don't go.

The Russians do not like us, never have and never will.  They spent most of the 1960's and 1970's watching us build shiny moon rockets while they perfected the art of putting cosmonauts in orbit on the cheap.  They will partner with us when it is profitable to do so, but don't expect any "family pricing" from them for anything.  Since the Bush and Obama administrations decided to cut out our only way of getting real live American scientists into low earth orbit, the Russians are pretty much the only game in town.  Like any other large single-source monopoly, they're going to charge as much as the market can bear with no worries as to what a competitive solution might cost.  Anyone who expresses surprise at this needs to come talk to me about some beach front property in the Ozarks.

The only thing I'm surprised about is that the Russians didn't wait until we'd officially decommissioned the space shuttle fleet later this year before announcing their little price hike.  They're usually much better extortionists than this.

Here's an idea:  Why doesn't the government cut all NASA ISS launch costs out of the budget, use the saved money to create tax incentives for private space launch businesses, and work towards cutting the Russians out of our business altogether?  I'd rather pay Richard Branson a few million dollars a seat than give Putin a red kopek.

And you guys who are trying to re-invent the re-usable space vehicle wheel?  How about you license the proven workhorse Soyuz capsule from the Russians or revamp the Gemini capsules for a few million dollars, team up with United Launch Alliance, and use Delta IV rockets to put a few people or a few tons of cargo into orbit on the cheap.  Use the profits from that to fund your "space tourism" research.  Something tells me it wouldn't be that hard to mate a proven space capsule to a proven rocket design.

"Inflation" my eye.

Good For Him

A University of Cincinnati student staged a little bit of civil disobedience at a TSA checkpoint in Richmond by writing the 4th Amendment on his chest and stripping off his shirt before being groped by the blue-gloved TSA agents.  He was detained, questioned, and charged with "disorderly conduct".  These charges were eventually dropped, and he even made his flight.

I'm just hoping that he refused to cooperate in the questioning by standing on his 5th Amendment right to silence. 

He's since filed a lawsuit against the government for the detention and questioning, and I hope he wins, even though my tax dollars will be going to pay him.  I sincerely hope that he takes it to court rather than settle.  The judiciary needs to weigh in on the constitutionality of not only the TSA checkpoint procedures in general, but also the way in which the government trumps up some BS charge against anyone who dares to stand up to them and make it difficult to walk all over us.

Good luck, Aaron Tobey.  When you're old enough for a beer, the first one's on me.

Thought for the Day

Using the term "pigs briss" in a status report will get you a lot of individual attention from your supervisor.  It is, however, quite descriptive and accurate to several given situations.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Is it Convention Time Already?

"Clowns gather for New York convention"

Nope, just a gathering of painted entertainers.  Never mind.

Service Review - Lucky Gunner Ammo

Since I mentioned Lucky Gunner earlier, I thought I'd do a quick review of their service during a recent purchase.

Most of you have probably heard of Lucky Gunner, and I'd bet that a large percentage of you have done business with them.  For those of you who haven't, Lucky Gunner is an on-line ammunition dealer.  Their claim to fame is that if it's listed on their website, it's in stock, so there are no back orders.  If you can't find it on their site, they don't have it.

A couple of Friday nights ago, I took a look at my ammunition supply and found myself wanting in .38 Special target ammunition and .270 hunting ammunition.  I have a few boxes of each, but not enough that I would feel comfortable going to the range and going through a box or two of either without severely depleting my on-hand storage.

I went up to Lucky Gunner and pretty quickly found what I was looking for.  Two boxes each of both kinds off ammunition, both made by Sellier and Bellot.  I've had good luck with other S&B ammunition, so I thought I'd stock up a little.  After adding two 50 round boxes of .38 and two 20 round boxes of .270 to my cart, the cost came to $68.  The price was better than any of the other on-line retailers I looked at.

Checking out was easy and pretty quick, even allowing for going through their registration process.  Shipping charges and taxes came to $12, for a grand total of $80 for all of them.

I received a confirmation email on my purchase almost immediately, and a shipping notification was in my inbox the following Monday afternoon.  The Big Brown Truck of Happiness left the box on my doorstep on Wednesday.

What made my experience a bit better than other on-line ammo retailers I've used is the follow-up that Lucky Gunner did after the sale.  I got my receipt and shipping confirmation in the mail, as expected.  But this evening I received an email from their customer service department asking if my order had come in as expected and if I had any concerns.  Yes, it's a form letter, but this is the first time I've ever had a gun related business reach out to me after successful completion of a transaction to check on how satisfied I was without it being a marketing survey.

So, the experience I had at Lucky Gunner was quite good.  The price of their ammunition is as good as or better than local gun stores or even Walmart in some cases.  Their website and customer service is top notch, and I got my order quickly and without problems.

FTC notification - I have no connection to Lucky Gunner other than being a satisfied customer.  They provided me with nothing that I didn't pay for.

Thought for the Day

March is the time of year when we are reminded that the predominant religions of Kentucky are Baptist, Catholic, and Basketball.  There appears to be a schism in the Basketball sect, though.  The wearers of the Red and the wearers of the Blue continually debate and argue over the fine details of their chosen faith.

For the next few weeks, what productive behavior that I encounter at work will happen in the break room, where Basketball devotees congregate to attend services each afternoon.

After this most holy of times for Basketball people, behavior will return to almost normal until next fall.  Luckily, once the universities of Louisville and Kentucky lose in the tournament, their fans will come to their senses and return to work.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Breakfast This Morning


5 to 6 potatoes, clean and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 onion, coursely diced
Olive oil or melted butter, whichever you prefer
Chile Powder
Ham, Bacon, and or Sausage, cooked and diced
8 eggs
Black Pepper

The night before, place the potatoes, onions and chile powder in a 9x13 inch baking pan and toss together with enough olive oil or melted butter to barely coat the potatoes.  Bake at 375 for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.  Cool, cover and refrigerate.

Whisk the eggs until the whites and yolks are thoroughly combined.  Add the cheese and meat.  Mix thoroughly.   Add black pepper to taste.  Pour mixture over the potatoes and place in a 375 degree oven for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the eggs have set up and the cheese is melted.

Serve with fresh fruit, toast or biscuit, and the beverage of your choice.  This recipe fed two adults, two teenagers, and a toddler with enough for leftovers.

Weekend Report

This has been one of the fullest weekends I've had in a long time, and I thought I'd share.

Friday night found me at home playing with BooBoo.  Irish Woman and Girlie Bear had gone out for the evening to attend a program at her school.  It was fun to play with Boo and watch a new-to-him Disney movie, A Bugs Life.

Saturday morning we got up and out the door early so that Girlie Bear could attend a fitness class at the Y while Irish Woman and I worked out.  BooBoo went to the Y's play area for the first time, and seemed to enjoy himself.  I repeated my workout of the other night by doing an upper body weight circuit and walking on the treadmill for 40 minutes.  Irish Woman did a quick warm up and did a much longer walk.   Girlie Bear enjoyed her class, and we all agreed that that was a great way to start the weekend.

After getting home, having a late breakfast, and cleaning up, BooBoo went down for a nap, Girlie Bear stayed home to monitor him and read a book, Irish Woman went over to a friend's house to help her prepare for a party, and I ran over to pick up Little Bear from his mom's house.  I was pleasantly surprised when he said he wanted to stay the night instead of just visit until the late evening.  It's been a very long time since he stayed over, so I was overjoyed to think that we would get even more time than normal with him.

Upon getting home, it was time to do a bit of housework and laundry.  Just the normal stuff that doesn't get taken care of during the week.  I must say, though, that the third time in an hour that I pick the same toy up in the living room and transport it to the toy box in Boo's room I start to consider whether or not the toys are actually alive.

We got ourselves cleaned up and headed over to the pool house at our friend's development for their party.  Imagine my surprise when I ran into my shooting buddy in the parking lot of the pool house.  I assumed that he knew our friends from some other association, and we walked in.  I was then shocked to see 30 to 40 of our closest friends and family there, all of them yelling "Surprise!".  Irish Woman, being the devious woman that she is, had put my birthday party off from January to March so that I would suspect nothing, and her plan worked perfectly.  A good time was had by all, and I received many good wishes on my birthday, even if it was in January.  It was touching to see all of the people who turned out to celebrate with us.  A good feed was also had by all, and if anyone left that party hungry, it was their own fault.  Irish Woman, as usual, made enough to feed an army.  Even after sending a huge amount of food home with family and friends, I'll be eating leftovers for days.

Side note - several incriminating pictures of me were taken wearing a viking helmet at this shindig, and re-publication of them will be considered an invitation for mayhem.  Also, I have several years to plan Irish Woman's 50th birthday party, and it's going to be a doozy.  Think hairy Lebanese belly dancers.  More on that later.

This morning, I got up and made a breakfast casserole using for the most part leftovers from the party (recipe to follow in another post).  We got ourselves together, and took the kids to the park so that BooBoo could work off some energy and the older kids could get some sun and fresh air.  Boo got his mother's heart rate up by repeatedly attempting to go down the fire-pole type conveyance on the play set, but once I taught him to wrap both his hands and legs around it and kept one hand on him at all times, her blood pressure returned to normal.  We then went down to the lake/pond in the park to feed the ducks.  The geese, for the most part, were disinterested, but the ducks were more than happy to eat their share too.  Either the ducks at our park are overfed, or they're getting ready to lay a few clutches of eggs.  I haven't seen ducks that wide in quite some time.

After returning from the park, it was time to take Little Bear home.  He and I talked on the way, and we decided that the next time he came over we would take his sister to go see Rango.

Upon my return, BooBoo was down for his nap and Girlie Bear was nose deep in a book.  Irish Woman went out to start digging holes for our new fruit trees.  We're putting in an additional two cherries, two peaches, and an apple.  We love our fresh fruit around here, and nothing tastes better than fruit that hasn't had time to realize it's not attached to the plant or tree again. In no time, Gopher Girl had used her mystic powers of earth moving to dig the holes for the two peach trees and the apple tree next to our driveway and the little trees seem to like their new homes.

While Gopher Girl, aka Irish Woman, did her digging, I got out a new air intake control valve that I bought a few weeks ago for the truck and installed it.  For once, Chrysler engineering didn't make it as difficult as possible to remove and replace a component, and the work took less than 30 minutes.  No longer will I have to simultaneously hold down the brake, clutch, and gas when I come to a stop in the truck.  The old valve was stuck in the closed position and covered in carbon build up, which kept the engine from getting the correct amount of air.

The rest of the day and evening was spent doing the stuff we always do to get ready for the week.  Irish Woman is coming off of her latest primary support rotation at work, and I roll onto mine tomorrow.  At the moment, everyone but me is either in bed or preparing for bed.  The dogs are snoring in their crates, the cats are snoring on the couch, Boo should be asleep, but by the sounds coming from his room he doesn't appear to be, and Girlie Bear is either reading or sleeping.

I hope everyone had as good a weekend as I did, and many thanks to everyone who came out to remind me that I do indeed have friends in Louisville!

Response to the President's Op-Ed

I just finished reading President Obama's editorial piece in the Arizona Daily Star on gun control.  I will try to list the high points of his article, and I'd like to share my thoughts on it and would love to hear your "reasoned discourse" as well.

  1. First, the President discusses the Tucson shooting suspect, and opines on how unfortunate that a man that was judged too psychologically unstable to serve in the military and to study at university was able to purchase a gun from a dealer.
  2. He then goes on to make the assertion that over 2000 gun related deaths have occurred in the United States since that shooting, and expresses his sorrow that "Every single day, America is robbed of more futures.".
  3. President Obama goes on to acknowledge that private gun ownership is a long tradition in our country, for "hunting or target shooting, collection or protection".
  4. The President expresses his belief that there is a middle ground in the gun control debate and that the majority of gun owners would not object to 'common sense' regulation of their right to keep and bear arms.
  5. The president makes three proposals:

  • Strengthen NICS data checks by getting better data from the states.  
  • Reward states that already provide this data to NICS
  • Make the NICS system faster.

My thoughts:

  1. The criminal who shot Congresswoman Jeffords in Tucson lied on the NICS form by stating that he was not a regular user of drugs.  Also, the Army recruiter and university officials who decided they didn't want to do business with him aren't qualified to adjudicate someone as mentally defective. A court of law does that in our society, and rightly requires a heavy burden of proof to say that someone is not responsible for themselves.  Under current law, if the Arizona courts had judged him unfit, he would not have been able to purchase a gun through a dealer.  But they didn't, and I don't believe that a constitutionally guaranteed right should be taken from a citizen without due process of law.  In other words, I would not want my rights taken from me because someone who is unqualified to make a psychological diagnosis thought that I was too unstable to own a gun.
  2. Unless the President is willing to point to the source of his number of firearms related deaths, I'm going to assume that it's a composite of all deaths in which the instrument of death was a gun.  I want to know if it includes only murders and accidental deaths caused by either negligence or defective firearms.  My guess is that once you take away criminals shooting criminals for whatever reason, citizens shooting criminals to defend themselves, and suicides, the number is quite lower.  While every death is a tragedy to the family of those who die, I refuse to accept suicides and the deaths of criminals being used as a reason to make it harder for me to exercise my rights.
  3. I'd like to thank the President for coming to the same conclusion that our Founding Fathers did over 200 years ago in that citizens of our country have a right to keep and bear arms.  One would think that a Constitutional scholar would have come to this epiphany earlier, but I'll give him credit for coming to it at all.  One little quibble - the Second Amendment says nothing about hunting or target shooting.  It is there for no other reason than the fact that citizens need arms to defend themselves and the nation.
  4. The President's assertion of a need to enforce existing laws is OK with me.  No protests here.  I'm assuming he means getting better data on people who have been adjudicated as being psychologically unfit to own firearms, since criminal background information is already readily available to NICS.  The law of the land says that the states are mandated to report this information, so I have no problem with the chief law enforcement officer of the country wanting the law enforced.  Also, if he wants to reward states that already comply with the law, then I see no harm, although I've always seen complying with the law to be its own reward. As to making NICS faster and more responsive, I fail to see a problem with the current system.  I fill out the form, my dealer makes a phone call, and in 10 minutes or less I'm handing him my debit card.  Could he be talking about speeding up NICS determinations on those who for some reason have a "hold" placed on their purchase?  Or is he indicating that he wants to speed up the manner in which information is put into NICS, such as data on the mentally unfit or criminals?   I think before I comment on this one the Rhetorician in Chief needs to define his terms.

The President ended his piece with an appeal to the emotions of his audience, so I will do so as well.

My rights as a citizen to keep and bear arms are well, if not over, regulated:

  • I already have to acquire a license from the government if I wish to make my living manufacturing or selling firearms.  
  • I may not buy a handgun from anyone in another state unless I pay extra fees to have the gun shipped to a licensed dealer in my home state.   
  • I have to pass a background check if I purchase a gun from a dealer.  
  • In most states, I may not carry a gun under my coat without a license.  
  • With very few exceptions, I may not enter federal property while armed.  

So let's dispense with the fallacy that 'common sense' gun laws aren't already on the books and enforced.  I think Law Dog expressed how I feel about new laws to keep me from exercising my rights best:
Let's say I have this cake. It is a very nice cake, with "GUN RIGHTS" written across the top in lovely floral icing. Along you come and say, "Give me that cake."
I say, "No, it's my cake."
You say, "Let's compromise. Give me half." I respond by asking what I get out of this compromise, and you reply that I get to keep half of my cake.
Okay, we compromise. Let us call this compromise The National Firearms Act of 1934.
There I am with my half of the cake, and you walk back up and say, "Give me that cake."
I say, "No, it's my cake."
You say, "Let's compromise." What do I get out of this compromise? Why, I get to keep half of what's left of the cake I already own.
So, we have your compromise -- let us call this one the Gun Control Act of 1968 -- and I'm left holding what is now just a quarter of my cake.
And I'm sitting in the corner with my quarter piece of cake, and here you come again. You want my cake. Again.
This time you take several bites -- we'll call this compromise the Clinton Executive Orders -- and I'm left with about a tenth of what has always been MY DAMN CAKE and you've got nine-tenths of it.
Then we compromised with the Lautenberg Act (nibble, nibble), the HUD/Smith and Wesson agreement (nibble, nibble), the Brady Law (NOM NOM NOM), the School Safety and Law Enforcement Improvement Act (sweet tap-dancing Freyja, my finger!)
I'm left holding crumbs of what was once a large and satisfying cake, and you're standing there with most of MY CAKE, making anime eyes and whining about being "reasonable", and wondering "why we won't compromise".

No-one has to show that they are not mentally defective or a criminal before they can make a political speech or join a church in accordance with the 1st Amendment.  Descendants of African slaves do not have to acquire a license before asserting that they are not slaves or that they wish to vote, as protected by the 13th and 15th Amendments.  A suspect in a crime does not have to fill out a government form and undergo a background check before asserting his rights against illegal searches of his property, his right to not incriminate himself, or his right to confront witnesses against him, as laid out in the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments.

Only those of us who assert our rights under the 2nd Amendment have been told for almost a century that we need to go along with 'common sense' regulation of those rights. When the President or any other citizen is required to pass a background check in order to express an opinion in a newspaper, I will listen to his opinions on gun control.

Dumbass of the Day

A man in Orlando, Florida, decided to protest the service at a local Denny's restaurant by touching off three rounds from his Ruger .22 handgun. While arresting this rocket scientist, police found marijuana in his Escalade.

Just how wrong can you be?

  • First, a gun is not the tool used to protest bad service at the restaurant.  Your cell phone or computer will do a much better job.  
  • Second, possession of a firearm by someone who uses marijuana is illegal as day old sin.  
  • Third, who carries a .22 pistol in their car?  I can see carrying a .22 rifle  if the Escalade in question is a farm truck, which I sincerely doubt, but a .22 pistol?  What's the guy doing, going to the local landfill to shoot rats?

I'd like to thank this waste of of a  good blastocyst for tarring those of us who responsibly own, carry, and utilize firearms with the same brush as will be used on his ignorant self.  There's nothing like having crap like this thrown in your face when you're trying to explain why private ownership and carriage of guns isn't a bad thing.

In an editorial note, kudos to the UPI for correctly identifying the gun part as a "magazine" rather than as a "clip".  Maybe we're getting through to the press on at least using the correct terms.

I Am So Disappointed

The headline on Fox News read "Star Wars School for Kids".   The story discusses a martial arts academy in Chile that is cashing in on Star Wars fandom.

But what ran through my mind in the moment it took for the page to load was a Star Wars themed boarding school.  In my mind's eye I saw a glittering Jedi Temple for the school house and the Ewok village for dormitories.  J.K. Rowling meets George Lucas.

Imagine the faculty:

Principal - Yoda, who else?
Vice-Principal - Darth Vader.  Seriously, who's going to act up in class when your school enforcer eschews the "Board of Education" for the "Force Choke of Education"?
History and Civics Teacher - ObiWan Kenobi, paired with Padme Amidala
Philosophy and Ethics Teacher - Quai Gon Jin
Math and Technology Teacher - Han Solo.  He's the only character in the entire series who took the time to calculate his FTL jumps and has more than enough experience in the care and feeding of very fallible technology.
General Physical Education - Chewbacca.  He won't make you do laps, he'll just tear your arms off.  You will climb that rope when a 7 foot tall hairy carnivore is roaring at you from the bottom.  Also, he could be the Shop Teacher
Swim Coach - Admiral "It's a Trap!" Akbar
Math Teacher - Mace Windu.  "Say "Square root of negative 3" one more time and I will Force Push you through a wall!"
School Security - Boba Fett.  He could use that wrist rocket/lanyard thingie to catch rule breakers before they can run away.
Languages teacher - C3P0
Janitor - Jar Jar Binks
Maintenance - R2D2

Can you see the cover of the brochure?  "Give us your three year old, and we'll give you a highly trained 18 year old ready to apply to any Ivy League university while choking out the competition"

What other things do thing such an institute of learning would have?

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Since I appear to be the last guy on these here Interwebs who hasn't done this, and Snarky asked nicely, here we go:

  1. My last name isn't my real last name.  When my mother remarried, she told me to start using my step-father's name, thinking that if the oldest kid did it, the others would fall in line.  So I did.  One school move later, and my real name was a memory.  No adoption or anything like that.  We couldn't have the money flow of child support messed up, after all.  I traded my original name, which was so Scandinavian that other Norwegians had to ask how to spell it, for something so bland you can't tell what part of the old world it comes from.  By the time I was an adult and had figured out how screwed up telling a kid to stop using his real name is, I had a wife, a kid, and a security clearance with the new name, so I never traded it back.  Lawyers tell me that there's nothing illegal about it as long as I don't lie if ever asked about it and stick with the name on all of my documentation except for my birth certificate.  Ironic thing is that I'm the only kid who used my step-dad's name, and I'm the only one who has nothing to do with him these days.
  2. I love to travel, but I don't want to go to any country where I don't speak at least a bit of their language.  I hate going overseas and seeing English speakers, both American and British, getting mad at the locals for not speaking English.  Irish Woman said it was funny watching me talk to the people in Ireland and fall into their accent after a few sentences.
  3. My special talent appears to be taking work from someone else that's completely messed up, giving it a good look over, and straightening it out.  I've been doing that in one form or another for my entire adult life.
  4. I used to go to a rock shelf up in a canyon in Arizona to read for a few hours every time I could get away.  Stretching out on a hot rock in the sun was the most luxurious thing I ever did for myself.  It was light colored limestone, so I was basically would have to slather myself in SPF 50000 before climbing out there or I would roast like a hot dog on a roller.  My final bucket list item is to go back there someday just to sit and listen to the wind.
  5.  I got a reputation during language school of being a really good babysitter because I would volunteer to watch people's kids on Sunday afternoons and take them to the beach.  To be honest, I did enjoy playing with the kids, but my ulterior motive was to meet girls who noticed me because I "liked children". It was a winning strategy.
  6. My guilty pleasure is watching Clint Eastwood westerns.  I'll re-schedule a lot of stuff to sit and watch "High Plains Drifter".
  7. When I lived in a German neighborhood in Augsburg, we had beer delivery in the same way we used to have milk delivery.  I would leave a few marks and the rack of empties on the steps at bedtime, and be rewarded when I woke up with a rack of 24 1 liter bottles of beer just in time for breakfast.

So there you go.  Hope nothing there's nothing to shocking in all of this.
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