19. September 2012 · Comments Off on I’m Baack · Categories: General

It’s been a long time since I last stopped by, but this is the fortieth anniversary of swearing an oath and becoming an Airman Basic, so what better a way to celebrate than to reconnect with old readers, meet new ones, and remember all the friends that I made here in years past. Sgt. Mom has been gracious enough to give me the keys to the house, and I hope to be a welcome and frequent guest.

Past readers may remember Real Wife (she’s still with me after twenty years now) and Red Haired Girl (now a freshmen at a midwest Catholic university). As to the latter circumstance, I will have a lot to say in future posts as to my observations on how the higher education system is working, and the miserable way in which our public schools have contributed to that.

I have also had a ring side seat to the debacle of how our government has been stifling business and innovation in this country. I promise though that now matter how angry it makes me, I will endeavor to present my arguments with a touch of humor and satire.

I feel better already!

29. August 2009 · Comments Off on Who Really Owns This Country? · Categories: General

I agree with maybe that Glenn Beck at times seems like a marmoset monkey on WAY to much espresso, but as Ace of Spades and others have pointed out, there is very little, if anything, in what he says that is factually indefensible. He has ideas on what to do about it. What say the readers of this august blog? In this request I hope to hear from a certain Kevin Connors and maybe even Sgt. Stryker himself (unless he has become a “contractor” for you know who).


27. August 2009 · Comments Off on The Last Kennedy RIP · Categories: General

I grew up in the thrall of the Kennedy mystique. I remember clearly when it was announced in class when JFK was killed, and when not so many years later that RFK was Killed. History has questioned whether either of these martyrs deserved the accolades. Now the same scrutiny is placed on Ted Kennedy.

Shortly put, I believe that his reckoning with regard to a certain boiler room girl has his entire life been a motivating factor, and that it is now between him and God. I also think that it is proper to respect the fact that few people in our nation’s leadership have lost so many that were close to them. I personally temper my memories of Mary Jo, Robert Bork, and the almost unbelievably dishonest flaming of Gerald Ford when he pardoned Nixon (…Are there two standards of justice…?) with the almost obsessive desire to meet the conservatives somewhere in between. So fine, I will go along with Winston Churchill’s advice; embalm him, cremate him, and then bury him to make sure he is dead. But deep down I will feel sorry for the fact that the events of his life inexorably led him to both the good and the bad behavior that defined it.


09. August 2009 · Comments Off on Long time No Write · Categories: General

It’s been awhile and thanks to either the continued good grace of Sgt. Mom or a lack of website maintenance, I am still able to log on. I have so much to say, but for now I present the mantra for now and the next three years.



28. March 2009 · Comments Off on Small Saturday Morning Pleasures · Categories: General

Kevin Connors wrote a post a few years back extolling the virtues of radioparadise.com and I’ve been hooked ever since. Sure, Bill plays some tracks that leave you wondering WTF, but it’s more than balanced by the old but great ones, and the new little jewels that could only happen with a healthy indie recording industry.

For the most part Real Wife and Red Haired Girl try to ignore the fact that I have it playing through at least two computers pretty much non-stop, although they pretty much dislike the entire play list (they LOVE American Idol – ’nuff said).

Anyway, RP recently played a song – Dance The Night Away – by the Mavericks. I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I went looking for it and found this video on last.fm. The wife and daughter HATE it. I think it’s awesome – you be the judge.

23. March 2009 · Comments Off on I Never Thought It Would Come To This · Categories: General

This past weekend I was letting Red Haired Girl know that I was not happy that she could not find time in her busy social schedule to do the chores that we had asked her to do. After listening to various and sundry excuses such as “some of the clothes in the washing machine AREN’T EVEN MINE or, it’s not MY fault that the stupid dog got the gum from my jacket” (which was left in the kitchen where the allegedly stupid dog is fenced in our absence), etc., I erupted in exasperation, telling her that I expect those kinds of excuses from the President of the United States, not from a fifteen year old.

That sound you hear is me banging my head on the table.

05. March 2009 · Comments Off on What I Want To See · Categories: General

OK class, this one will take a bit of effort, but I promise you will be justly rewarded. First read this, and the update here, from Iowahawk and vote in the comments whether either Kelsey Grammer or David Hyde Pierce should do a monologue, to be widely televised, of course.

Appetizer: “Even Peggy Noonan — the Grand Dame of Gipperism — has succumbed to Obama’s undeniable conservative charms. Just last month I listened to her wax poetic about the Adonis of Chicago between chukkers at the Newport Club polo tournament final. “Why Peggy, you old dowager,” I quipped, “I believe you just had an orgasm.”

02. February 2009 · Comments Off on On Unicorns, Change, and Long Hours · Categories: General

For the past couple of years I’ve been logging about 55-60 hour work weeks and it has been getting to me. Last night when I finally logged off the VPN a half hour into the Big Game, I kind of freaked out because I could actually not remember what I had accomplished on Saturday. I checked my home computer email logs and doc files – nothing. Then I remembered that Saturday was spent in the office all day. Pathetic. Maybe it is my age (going on 55), but I remember working even more hours back in the early eighties designing automotive test electronics and loving it. Maybe it the stress of knowing that you do what you do because you have a wife and daughter that absolutely need you employed with insurance, combined with psychotic management that, in their relative youth, cannot comprehend that some people would rather not rise all the way to the top – instead just be enormously competent two or three levels down. In the past year, in a town of less than 3,000 people, our company has shed more than 500 manufacturing and probably 150 engineering/admin jobs (hable Espanol or Cantonese?). I think we are down to around a hundred souls from what was, ten years ago, about sixteen hundred.

It fell to me (because I volunteered .. because nobody else would do it) to scan and catalog about 1000 photos from various sources taken in the office and plant floor over the past thirty years. At first it was fun; all the guys back then looked like John Holmes wannabees and all the women had big hair. But it got to me by the time the project was finished. We are now all ghosts, some of us actually dead, others just old. I see many of the old ones regularly – as I said its a small town – and even those who were once close friends somehow make me feel as though I betrayed them because I am still there and they are not.

Now we have these asshats that seem to have a problem paying their own taxes telling me that I’ve got to fork over to pay for rubbers, community organizers, and whatever socialist item is on The One’s list of chits that he owes. Okay, but at the same time it is the group of, what – 40% of the population that doesn’t even pay taxes (not counting Democrat politicians; they get Extra Special treatment) – that will be the recipients of my largesse?

My fallback plan was to work at home, maybe even 55-60 hours a week, blogging for Pajamas Media. That is not looking very good (not that it ever did – I can only write well when it is technical and/or dry).

Fuck it, it don’t mean nothin’. I think I need a vacation.

25. January 2009 · Comments Off on A January Sunday Afternoon · Categories: General

My first three years of school (after kindergarten in an old one room building affectionately known as the chicken coop) were at St. Mary’s in Fulton NY. I absolutely hated it. Nothing against the religion, or my parents, but it I recall it to be a terribly traumatic experience. I never could connect with the nuns – the exemplar memory being the time I walked the twelve blocks to first grade circa 1960 (uphill as I recall) in a drenching rain, wearing an old rain slick three sizes too small. My legs got wet – very wet. Sister Mary Lawrence (yes, I’m going to name names here) accused me of deliberately jumping in rain puddles. On one level I am thinking “Lady, it’s f***ing raining out there like a b****, I am cold and wet, and you are f***ing laying this s*** on me?”. On another level (the one that manifested that day) I am beginning to cry, denying that I frolicked or did ANYTHING that would mock the seriousness of the religious predicament that was unfolding more and more each day, and was unique to me as a Catholic (the protestant – or as I understood them to be at the time – public kids seemed oblivious to any of what was really going on).

Over the years I have often expressed that the Catholic school experience was not something to recommend. Invariably the response was “Oh, you must have gone to a Catholic school back ‘in the day’ when nuns did all of the teaching – things are a lot different now”. I’ve also talked to many who recalled an altogether different experience; one that they regret that their children and grandchildren could have never benefit from.

I was in L.A. on 9/11, and on the first flight out, when flights started, my seatmate was a distinguished doctor from Fulton NY who was four years ahead of me at St. Mary’s. He went all the way through the local system, and attributed it to his success. Over the years I started thinking about that, and began to more often remember Sr. Mary Patrice (second grade). She was really OK for a nun. I actually saw some of her hair once – a “call-every-other-second-grade-kid-you-know-moment”. Then I graduated second grade (and completed First Communion – by now I’m really getting in deep), had a not too bad summer, and started third grade with – Sr. Mary Lawrence. Here we go again. By the way, I failed to mention earlier that Mother Superior, I truly believe, made the mold that Sr. Mary Lawrence was cast from. When Sr. Mary Lawrence was done with you, you went to Mother Superior to ensure that you “got your head right”. (I use those quotes because I didn’t really understand the dynamic until, years later, I saw Cool Hand Luke)

My general conclusion is that it probably was me and not them. I’ve noticed as an adult that certain executive officers that I’ve encountered professionally over the years have also put me in the same frame of mind. Substitute the Catechism for Sarbanes Oxley, a nun’s habit for a $2,000 black suit, eternal damnation for unemployment at an unemployable age and you get the picture. Anyway, I digress.

Real Wife asked me last week if I wanted to participate in a community trivia challenge type of fundraiser. It works like this – you recruit about 20 – 30 teams of eight people who sit in a cafegymatorium and compete in about a dozen ten question trivia rounds. I said sure.

Then I found out that the beneficiaries of the charity were children headed for Catholic summer camp. Immediately, I sensed the presence of Sr. Mary Lawrence on one shoulder, and Sr. Mary Patrice on the other. On the one hand, it’s an enjoyable Sunday afternoon which benefits the children. On the other, I might as well be herding them into the cattle cars.

Our team had two no-shows; the high school biology teacher and another teacher who is also the middle school scholastic bowl coach; a fact that was not in our favor. We had Real Wife (a teacher), two other teachers, two affluent farmers and yours truly, a self proclaimed renaissance man with nun love-hate issues.

It was a hoot. The M.C was a young priest who peppered the proceeding with both self deprecating and sharp humor, we had all the popcorn you could eat, and none of it mattered one whit except having fun on a snowy day.

We sucked worse than all but two other teams. As noted above, however, we were short two key members who would have undoubtedly helped our fortunes (damn them). My personal contribution that I am most proud of was knowing that WORM stands for(within the current vernacular of the Catholic church IT group) Write Once Read Many.

It’s fun to get together with friends and neighbors in this sort of format. As a conservative (otherwise introverted) person I highly recommend it as an alternative to say, for example, expecting The One to provide the funds to send the kids to camp.

I really wish I could have hit it off better with Sr. Mary Lawrence. In retrospect, she may have been the factor that got me through boot camp just twelve years later. I’d still like to have seen her hair – I think that I would be psychologically better developed.

24. December 2008 · Comments Off on Merry Christmas · Categories: General

It’s a Wii Christmas this year in our house, after having looked at what accessories and games cost, and their really being no particular need or desire for any other toys. A happy/occupied Red Haired Girl and Real Wife, with a nice prime rib roast in the oven, is all I really want.

Believe what you’ve heard, the Wii can cause injuries. While bringing ours in from the shop to wrap (in the midst of a 3/4 inch ice storm), I twisted my knee and apparently have a something-C-L injury. Oh well, I should be, and am, thankful for being on more familiar terms with orthopedic surgeons than with other specialists (orthopods never tell you how much time you have left). Anyway, I got an Indy 500 game that looks pretty cool so there will be some play time (with leg elevated, of course).

Merry Christmas to all of my fellow contributors, our loyal readers, and your families and loved ones.


30. November 2008 · Comments Off on STATE CHAMPIONS! · Categories: General

What a day Friday was! Real Wife was determined to hit the Walmart Black Friday sale, so we were up at 3:00 a.m., resolved to do our part for the economy. Red Haired Girl had been looking forward for weeks to this important first rite of passage, so off we went. RW has been wanting a Wii since we chaperoned RHG’s middle school graduation party last spring. RHG had already done the math and figured that there were other more important things for her final list, so, much to RW’s chagrine, she was not pushing for that. So, in the spirit of Christmas intrigue, we (RHG and I) have been poo pooing the need for a Wii for a couple of weeks. RW is one of the most selfless people I know, and she has been hiding her disappoint like a real trooper.

To give RHG a sense of Black Friday, I assigned her to stand in line for the Wii’s. She performed admirably, panicking only when told that it had to be paid for at the counter. A quick text message to me got that problem resolved. We are now co-conspiritors anxiously awaiting Real Wife’s Christmas surprise.

Normally we get out of the store early and enjoy a nice leisurely breakfast somewhere, but this year we had another mission. Barely an hour after getting home it was time to meet at the local high school for the charter bus to the state championship (class 3A) game at the University of Illinois stadium in Champaigne. Real Wife and I travelled both as fans and as chaperones for the cheerleading squad – in all we took five buses, with literally hundreds of others driving their own vehicles on the four hour trek.

This is only the second year that our school has played in class 3A (about 500 high school students), having recently merged with two other neighbouring districts. Ironically, the largest bloc in opposition to the merger was comprised of the sports fans who found it beyond the pale that former “enemies” should now be on the same team. In fact, our head coach and assistant coach last met in the playoffs at the 2000 state championship while in class 1A, where our school won handily.

The game was a barn burner. DuQuoin, a long time football powerhouse from southern Illinois, has a NCAA Division 1 quarterback prospect, and it was easy to see why. We went into the half down 7-0, having survived two of their drives to less than the five yard line. The second half was nail biter, with our home team down by 14-13 with under a minute to play. Our guys scored what would be the winning touchdown with 25 seconds on the game clock, succeeding with a two point conversion to bring the score to 21-14. On second down of DuQuoin’s possession one of our backs intercepted their pass with 14 seconds remaining. Chaos ensued.

All of the buses and most of the fans who drove stopped at the Home Style buffet before leaving Champaign. Despite having called ahead (we paid for team, cheerleader and band members in advance), it was a cluster**** of epic proportions. After waiting in line – outside – for an hour, RW and I decided to just head back to the bus, whereupon we were told that the driver had gone somewhere else to eat – with the bus. Anyway, 2 1/2 hours later we were on the road again. (BTW, if you are ever in Chapaigne I recommend that buffet – they even had steak fillets!).

Our buses were met at the edge of town at around 1:30 a.m. by firetrucks, ambulances, police cars, and anything else they could muster with a siren, as well as half the town. Everyone formed up in a parade and drove around for awhile before calling it a day a little after two o’clock.

Nobody was from Dallas City, LaHarpe, or Carthage that night – they were all from Illini West.

One final thought. While downloading pictures I noted one in particular that really caught my attention. I took it as the clock ran out, with focal point on the team. On a 10 megapixel camera at about 10X zoom, the image clearly captured the expressions of the Du Quoin fans – a mixture of horror, disbelief, and disappointment. They, after all, had travelled just as hard and long a journey. Nonetheless, the sportsmanship of both their team and their fans was first class. In that spirit I would like to congratulate both the Chargers and the Indians for a job well done.

22. November 2008 · Comments Off on To State We Go · Categories: General

Our team won today, and they play the state championship game next Friday. What a house rocker!! Rewind to three days ago; the story all over town was that Terry Bradshaw (through a complicated connection that includes a former Bengals player originally from our school district) called our quarterback for a 25 minute chat. This reporter can confirm through reliable sources that said conversation happened.

The home defense was limp the entire first half (ending at 16-6) until the opponents were within the 10 yard line, which each time inspired the best running defense I have ever seen. Offensively things were no better – the constant running pressure typical of past games was ineffective.

I am a comparatively cerebral football fan, so while everyone else was freaking out I was wondering why our guys weren’t passing.

The second half favored the visitors with being the receivers of the kick and they got another score (with conversion) to bring the score at the end of the quarter to 23-6. We then finally scored again (now 23-13, fourth quarter, 10 minutes left). Our guys then played the coolest trick I have ever seen – while seeming to be huddling, they suddenly ran toward and short kicked the ball (no setting up of a formation) and recovered the onside kick. At that point there was a crisis behind us when a bleacher plank failed and about 8 feet worth of fans went down about… eight feet. There were no injuries (thank God, everybody was focused on the game). Our QB finally started passing, a consistent skill that had not thus far been apparent (but was today), and they won 27-23, with the final score made with only seconds to go. Our number 4 looked like Bradshaw.

A word of respect for the other team. They played well and fair, and it always moves me to see the pain in the faces of a team that has worked so hard and so long and to leave the field in defeat.

It turns out that Real Wife, related to her position as teacher, is also a kind of associate assistant cheerleader coach. I don’t completely understand her duties other than the fact that we sit with the coach at the fifty yard line at every game. Anyway, we will be riding as chaperones on the bus with the cheerleaders to Champaign. Another irony alert here; there was a time when I would have traded away my little brother (sorry Mike) for such an honor. Now I am thankful for MP3 and noise canceling headphones for the four hour ride. Red Haired Girl informed me that even though the other girls know who I am, I should pretend that we don’t know each other. Whatever.

22. November 2008 · Comments Off on Open Joke Challenge · Categories: General

I want to try something new. I’ll suggest the first line for a joke and you, Dear Readers, finish it. BTW, I am not involved in screening the comments at this site, so I would ask in the spirit of civility that we all show good taste and decency so as not to unnecessarily rile Sgt. Mom. Here we go:

“Barack Obama, Chuck Norris, and Superman walk into a bar…”

If you don’t have a teenager in your life you may not get the premise. In that case, find one and offer him/her $1.00 to explain (or go out and get a teenager – the former is a lot cheaper)

17. November 2008 · Comments Off on Post Season Humor · Categories: General

Our local high school football team plays a state semifinal game this weekend (class 3A – four or five hundred student enrollment). Victory Saturday takes us to Champaign next week for the championship game.

Our community has been an avid HS football town for many years, but until Red Haired Girl became a cheerleader we never bothered to go to the games. I have to say, the community has developed quite a pagan ritual, but it’s a lot of cheap fun.

The other day I was thinking about a little “thing” that the cheerleaders do; when a player is injured they all assume a crouching position, metaphorically not unlike a bunch of birds with broken wings. Once the player is walked from the field, they all jump and clap and everything is good.

I also made the observation that one of the cheerleaders seems always to be tending some injury or another – usually involving an Ace bandage – and right out if front of the crowd, as though to remind everyone that things aren’t just tough on the field.

On the way home from the last game, I asked RHG a hypothetical – If a cheerleader gets injured while performing a stunt, does protocol require that the football players assume the wounded bird position until said cheerleader is walked from the running track (with a corresponding stop of the clock)?

Having inherited my sense of humor, RHG liked the joke – so much so that she asked her cheerleading coach that very question today. She reports that Mrs. T. responded with a fake laugh and a strange look. I felt it time to warn her that there are two kind of people in this world – those that get your jokes and those that don’t, and that you have to be careful around the latter lest you make them nervous.

05. November 2008 · Comments Off on There’s Always Humor · Categories: General

I’m with Timmer that tonight marks a transition that takes us from the charged atmosphere of an election, with the natural partisan and sometimes raw competitive tendencies that go with such things, to a state where we all, as Americans, must respect the office that President Elect Obama has won through the voice of the people. At the risk of damning with faint praise (which is by no means intended) I sincerely hope that the pragmatism to which he has aspired in his campaign is a hallmark of his administration; that many of his seemingly contradictory convictions can now be laid to rest because there really is no higher office to which he can achieve. He now has only one constituency, and I pray that the gravity of office will so inspire him in both his aspirations and his deeds.

That is my hope tonight. I’ll call it a day with the recognition that his election carries a presumption of good will and respect predicated on the more honorable attributes of the American people, and the prayer of Godspeed to his administration. Note Mr. President elect; any such presumption has a shelf life beyond which it must be earned.

Oh yeah, the title of this post. I have to confess that I truly enjoyed a lot of the humor that was directed at past administrations – all of them – and will continue to do so. It sure beats spending the next four (hopefully not eight) years in the fever swamps that many of my liberal friends have haunted (hint to Keith Olberman et al. – your paradigm just shifted and I can’t wait to see how you evolve over the next couple of years).

02. November 2008 · Comments Off on IF YOU ONLY HAVE ONE VOTE, USE IT WISELY · Categories: General

The polls open in two days in what has been, to me, one of the most disheartening election cycles in my lifetime. It’s not because “my guy” is down in the polls. It is because a small radical minority in this nation has finally hit on the right formula to capture the passion of enough useful idiots to even make this election close. I use the term “useful idiots” purposefully. In speaking with people who support Obama, many of whom are very close friends and family, I am struck by their blind adoration that is utterly devoid of any ability to acknowledge the truth of what he believes or the factual history of his ascendance though the Chicago political machine. And here I thought that, after having been able to vote for 36 years and making the transition from liberal to conservative to independent, I could intelligently argue either side of any of these labels. I see now that I was behind the curve, because the arguments on the part of the left are now limited to ad hominem attacks, moral equivalence, and blind recitation of talking points (cf. Alan Colmes) – none of which are based on reason but are nonetheless effective with an electorate that has been conditioned, in a spookily Pavlovian way, to truly believe that the present administration is not humanly flawed but rather a manifestation of true evil.

From the beginning of this election cycle, Obama seemed a little too liberal for my tastes, but McCain’s ideas on how to fix many of the big problems of our day, although well intentioned, seemed always to manifest in unintended consequences (campaign finance reform or general immigration amnesty anyone?). So, in keeping with my belief that the privilege to vote carries an equal responsibility to perform due diligence, I set out on my journey of discovery to find out whether I could live with an Obama administration as I did with the Democrats that preceded him. My first impression was that he was a stereotypical liberal with a thin resume. Boy was I wrong – he is neither of those things. Rather, he is a left wing radical with an impressive resume of association with individuals and organizations who believe that the U.S. Constitution was a low ebb in western civilization and that this great nation must be protected, despite itself, against the center-right instincts that have prevailed from its founding. Stanley Kurtz, who I guarantee will see a wider audience for his work over the next few years, lays out a fairly detailed picture of what I am talking about here.

And, in anticipation of the negative commentary that this post will incite, I would encourage at least an intellectual discourse based on the merits of his thesis – failure to do so will merely prove my next point.

Useful Idiots was a term used by the Soviet propaganda machine to describe Soviet sympathizers in the west who were, in fact, held in contempt by their handlers. I have countless friends and family members who, almost without exception, are voting purely on the basis of hope and willful ignorance. Interestingly, this is an affliction of many notable heretofore conservatives as well (Colin Powell, Christopher Buckley, I’m talking to you).

Barack Obama has masterfully hidden from the American electorate what he stands for and who he stands with. That, in and of itself, should disqualify him not only from the presidency, but even a mid-level security clearance. He has been associated with voter fraud (yes, that’s right VOTER FRAUD – are we expected to believe that Acorn’s purpose was merely to distribute cigarettes and money to the disadvantaged?). He and his campaign have actively promoted censorship. His vision is to take this country to the lowest common denominator – how else to ensure that every single citizen is, by his definition, equally advantaged.

Honorable people can disagree. I can even hold a great deal of respect for those with whom I disagree. But I have no respect for useful idiots. Do your due diligence, and if you truly believe in mainstream liberal beliefs, write in Hillary Clinton. If I am wrong in my premises, provide some thoughtful commentary. BUT DON”T BE A USEFUL IDIOT! Remember, they will eventually come for you when you’ve served your purpose.

And finally, if you want to see this great republic stand for another century as one which embodies the visions and aspirations of our founding fathers, get out and vote. It’s important that you do, because those of us who share those beliefs only get one vote. We need each and every one.

P.S Let me also suggest paying attention to the writings of Bill Whittle and Michael Yon.

26. October 2008 · Comments Off on In Re. LeMay’s Last Laugh · Categories: General

Sorry ’bout the broken link in my previous post – I’ve been playing around with Google Chrome and, although I think it loads pages much faster, it still has some beta issues. Here is the crux of the story:

“The Air Force is creating a new command to manage the nation’s nuclear arsenal better after a series of embarrassing missteps in the handling and oversight of its most sensitive materials.

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told reporters Friday that the service is shifting its nuclear-capable bombers, missiles and staff into a new Global Strike Command. So far officials have spent more than $200 million on the reorganization effort, and expect to spend another $270 million during the budget year that began Oct. 1. Air Force leaders could not provide a total cost or staffing for the new command, which will be led by a lieutenant general, the force’s second-highest rank.

Donley said the latest shuffle would be a “new starting point” that would reinvigorate the service’s nuclear mission. He also said it would help the Air Force focus on the arsenal’s management, no matter how small it might become under future international agreements.”

The last paragraph is interesting. Those of us a little older might remember the humorous story about “What the Captain Meant To Say” which transposed an official Viet Nam era account of a dog fight with what the pilot actually said, F words and all.

I wonder if, in this instance, what the captain really meant to say is that after 4 November 08 the new Commander in Chief will give us just slightly more confidence in the security of our strategic arsenal than what we have in, say, Pakistan’s. Just thinking out loud.

25. October 2008 · Comments Off on LeMay Gets the Last Laugh · Categories: General

Maybe I missed something when I read this, but isn’t that why we had SAC?

04. October 2007 · Comments Off on Astronaut Update · Categories: General

RHG called to let me know that they are dead in the water mear Nashville. In her narrative, a steel bar was dragging from rear of the bus leaving a trail of sparks. Again according to the narrative, a state patrolman followed them for five miles and finally pulled them over with lights and siren and advised the driver that the situation had to be corrected before proceeding. RHG, knowing the protocol, advised that there were three scenarios: driver fixes problem, mechanic is called, or new bus comes from Peoria. Later comm advised that scenario two played out. Advice to RHG – get sleep while you can (earlier advice #1) and enjoy adventure. Comment to Real Wife – by the time RHG is 30 the rear of the bus will have been fully engulged in flames.

Timmer, right now I am listening to Billy the Kid by Aaron Copeland. Try it, you’ll like it (well, maybe not all of it).


03. October 2007 · Comments Off on Space Camp · Categories: General

Red Haired Girl departs at 09:30 hours tomorrow via motor coach to Space Camp in Huntsville, AL. Actually, it is an abbreviated version called Pathfinder, facilitated by the local 4H chapter. She will be gone for four days, with two days actually “training” for the astronaut corps. While I’m very excited for her, Real Wife and I face the next few days with much trepidation with this being the longest (other than church camp, which is only 8 miles away) and furthest that she has been away from home without us. Her primary concern seems to be availability of electricity to charge her iPod, with my primary concern being…everything else. I emphasized a number of points: 1) sleep when she can, 2) she is there to learn and experience – on topic. I do NOT, repeat NOT, want her to feel compelled to ride her bicycle three counties over wearing a diaper and carrying mace, etc., to avenge a love affair gone wrong, 3) before she does anything not closely supervised by instructors/adults-in-charge, to ask herself what I would say. If she imagines that I would freak out, then it’s probably a bad idea, and 4) enjoy an experience of a lifetime that most kids will never have. The closest I ever came was physiological flight training at Pease AFB and I loved every minute of it (other than laying awake all night after the first altitude chamber flight absolutely convinced that I had the bends).

A friend of mine, retired USMC colonel, just had a new engine installed in his rather old Cessna 170, so we will also be doing some local VFR flying in the next couple of weeks. He’s offered RHG some flight time if she successfully completes her Space Camp regimen. He’s a very cool guy, having flown both prop and jet fighters (WWII and Korea) and one of the few great representatives left in this area from the Greatest Generation. I don’t think RHG is headed for a career as an Airman or an astronaut, but whatever she ends up doing, I think all of this will stay with her in a positive reinforcement way, and maybe as a lifetime reminder of one of the true passions her dad had.

Lastly, a hat tip to our departed cyberspace friend Joe Comer, who I am sure would have shared my excitement.


19. September 2007 · Comments Off on A Lifetime Ago · Categories: General

We acquired a company earlier this year and I have been spending a lot of time on the road trying to integrate all things legal, hence limited blogging time. It’s kind of interesting because they are a tech company with a lot of the stereotypical traits, as in attire consisting of bermuda shorts and sandals. The parent company is quite the opposite – think IBM in the fifties. My “home” division is more business casual, but I still feel a little out of place when I wear jeans. I just love walking into the office there and announcing that “I’m from Corporate – I’m here to help”. At first everyone just rolled their eyes and thought the days of free espresso were numbered, but everyone now seems to understand that I HATE corporate crap. I’ve even been told by the Gen. Mgr. that I am welcome to come up just to “hang out”.

Throughout all of these road trips Real Wife has soldiered through her chemo treatments in followup to the lumpectamy back in June. The last one was two weeks ago, but she’s still pretty beat down. They have had a cumulative effect, with the “good” days fewer and further apart. After each treatment she received a single shot that, by itself, costs $5,000 (its for pumping up white blood cells and made by a cloning process using recombinant DNA). Thank God for passably decent insurance. How she has been able to teach school each day amazes me, but I think she should start feeling better soon. Next week the radiation treatments start – every weekday for six weeks. According to the docs, the side effects will be very minimal. We are hoping that the worst part will be the 45 mile drive each way. All in all a pretty crappy summer for all.

As to the title to this post, I took my oath for the USAF thirty-five years ago today. I was sitting on the patio in the dark last night thinking about how long ago it seems and all of the ups and downs since then. It has been unseasonably warm here, but there was a nice cool gentle breeze that brought me back to Lackland. I somehow had the good fortune of being assigned the duty of emptying the squadron trash into the dumpster each night. I say good fortune because it was an opportunity, however brief, to enjoy solitude under the starry skies – away from the TIs and the rest of the squadron. San Antonio was hot during much of my boot camp, but each night there was that same cool breeze I felt last night. It’s funny the things you remember most.

04. July 2007 · Comments Off on Another Independence Day Message · Categories: Domestic, General, History, Local

Independence Day celebrations in small towns haven’t changed all that much over the years, and the one here is no exception. Our town is the county seat, with a large lawn on the town square that is perfectly suited for such festivities. Of historical significance, in 1858, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas spoke on the courthouse lawn on October 11th and 22nd respectively.

Earlier that year, on July 10th, Lincoln gave a speech that rings with relevance even today, although framed in the notoriously contentious debate with Douglas about slavery. He said, in part:

“If they (the immigrants that arrived in the U.S. after its independence) look back through this history to trace their connection with those days by blood, they find they have none, they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us, but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration, and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.”

Just three blocks from where Lincoln spoke, and fourteen years earlier, Joseph Smith (founder of the Mormon Church) and his brother Hyrum were killed by a mob that had shown much animosity toward the Mormons settled in nearby Nauvoo Illinois since there arrival from Missouri. This led to the Mormon migration west into present day Utah. When I moved to this community (into a house just a block from the jail where the killings took place) twenty-nine years ago, there still was considerable animosity toward the Mormons; not for any particular reason that I could discern, but rather traditional distrust passed down through the generations and the typical blather we hear today when referring to concerns about Mitt Romney (which, by the way, does not at all fit my own experiences with members of the LDS church with whom I work and do business) and, in 1960, John Kennedy.

Since that time the LDS church rebuilt their temple in Nauvoo that had been burned soon after the exodus to Utah, and they purchased the entire block where the old jail is located and built a very nice visitor center. None of it came easy, for either the Mormons or the local inhabitants. Over the years, however, I have noticed a sea change on both sides. Individual members of the Mormon Church have moved to, and become assimilated into, our community. The discovery that we all share the same fundamental values, as Lincoln so eloquently expressed in his 1858 speech, has I think finally started healing the poison that spread some one hundred sixty years ago.

Today was a landmark occasion, however. A small troupe of Mormon singers, accompanied by a bagpiper and pianist, traveled from Utah and took to the stage during the activities on the square to perform patriotic and traditional American music for an audience of several hundred people. The concert, lasting a couple of hours, left not a dry eye in the house. Between musical pieces, various of the performers spoke of defining moments in our history and memorialized the true heroes comprising our national identity, from the founding fathers to the men and women who have worn the uniform since those early days, to the every day Americans who understand and appreciate the gift of liberty and equality bestowed upon us. While not wanting to sound like an apologist for either side of the events that led to such a terrible schism, these performers gave what I consider to be the ultimate offering of friendship, that being a poignant reminder that all of us who hold the truth to be self evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are, as one, Americans. How ironic that such an event should take place literally yards from where Abraham Lincoln likely delivered the same message, albeit in a different context, so many years ago.

Happy Independence Day

03. July 2007 · Comments Off on Can anyone spell decorum? · Categories: General

“This decision to commute the sentence of a man who compromised our national security cements the legacy of an administration characterized by a politics of cynicism and division, one that has consistently placed itself and its ideology above the law,” Barack Obama

“Today’s decision is yet another example that this administration simply considers itself above the law,” said Clinton of Bush’s decision to commute Libby’s sentence. “This case arose from the administration’s politicization of national security intelligence and its efforts to punish those who spoke out against its policies.” Hillary Clinton

“I have nothing to say to Scooter Libby,” Wilson said. “I don’t owe this administration. They owe my wife and my family an apology for having betrayed her. Scooter Libby is a traitor.” Joe Wilson (husband of Valerie Plame Wilson)

I don’t think I can recall a time when such deceit and hypocrisy was so prevalent across so wide a swath of our political leadership. Senator Obama, a law professor, practices the very cynicism and diversion that he decries, and the last I knew, commuting a sentence, particularly one as egregious as that handed down to Scooter Libby, is not above the law.

Senator Clinton, my message to you is simple – do you remember Marc Rich?

And Joe Wilson, look in the mirror before you start throwing out names such as traitor. You have shown yourself throughout this entire affair to be beneath contempt. Your fifteen minutes of fame has passed, so I sincerely hope that you shut up and enjoy your book royalties.

Finally, I hear that Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has called for George Bush to be impeached over this. You guys just can’t get over Clinton’s impeachment can you?

I have no love for politicians in general, but the current crop absolutely sickens me.

Update: Powerline blog informs us that the House Judiciary Committee plans to hold hearings next week on the sentence commutation. Would that Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington et al. could be with us on this two hundred thirty-first birthday of our country to comment on this. They would most definitely be far more eloquent than I could ever be. On the other hand, they may have taken these left wing zealots to the woodshed for a proper flogging.

03. July 2007 · Comments Off on Try to get this one out of your head · Categories: General

My favorite part of our house is a twenty by twenty five foot patio, screened floor to ceiling. I have a decent stereo, and a fairly extensive collection of music that is well suited to watching the summer go by. This year, I have designated the Official Summer Patio Song as (drumroll) Sleepwalk, by Joe Satriani. It is a remake of the original recorded by Santo and Johnny in 1959. I liked the original, but this version is juiced up nicely with a strong drumbeat and bass. I even got a slow dance from Real Wife:-)

03. July 2007 · Comments Off on Update · Categories: General

Well, I think Real Wife is through the scariest part – the part of the journey where the immediate future is unknown. She underwent surgery Friday to remove the lump in her breast, as well as a so-called sentinal lymph node. The procedure as I understand it that they inject a dye into the tissue adjacent the tumor, and then remove the first lymph node that shows an uptake of the dye – the idea being that if the cancer has spread, that would be the first location. The tests came back last night that the margins of tissue around the tumor were clean (they got the whole thing), and the lymph node was negative for cancer. She is now scheduled for a consultation with doctors for both chemo and radiation therapy. While not an insignificant set of procedures, she feels that they are tribulations minor in comparison to waiting for the surgery and subsequent pathology reports.

Everyone in her family is hypersensitive to anesthesia, and she is no exception in terms of nausea and slowness to become alert. An interesting twist was that she exhibited a rare side effect of the dye injection in which her complexion turned green. Really green. She was later shocked to learn that her urine was bright blue – think Windex. Everything is normal now, and it did provide needed comic relief in what was a very long and stressful day.

It is now a matter of continued vigilance, but we are thankful to the excellent medical staff and all those who sent their kind prayers and support, not the least of whom were friends and readers at The Daily Brief.

18. June 2007 · Comments Off on CALLING ANNIE OAKLEY · Categories: General

On a happier note than my previous post, Red Haired Girl has finally hung up her dance shoes. The first one or two recitals were fun to attend, and we videotaped everything. Six years into it I was to the point where gouging my eye out with a dull spoon was preferred to sitting for 2 – 3 hours watching group after group with little or no talent. The last two years she and Real Wife have taken pity and allowed me to forego the experience. She has now decided to take lessons from a voice coach, and the results are nothing short of amazing. This kid can make people take to their feet and clap now. Last weekend she brought home a trophy from a local “Star Search” contest, performing Mr. Cellophane from the musical Chicago. It was an outdoor show performed on the courthouse square, with absolutely perfect weather and an audience of a couple hundred or so locals.

The next day, she was going through the typical thirteen year old angst of being bored because there was nothing to do. Her best friend called and asked her if she wanted to ride along with their family to an old fashioned tin can shoot at the local gun club. Real Wife was kind of down on the idea (there were never guns in her household while growing up, so she most associates them with the all-too-often sensational news stories seen these days). I pointed out that the kids would be well supervised, so she relented and off went RHG. She returned home about five hour later, and I’ll be damned if she wasn’t toting a rather large trophy for having won second place in the age 11 – 17 class. She’s never held a gun in her life, much less fired one. I think the sweetest part of the victory was the fact that, of the other twenty or so kids in her class, most were boys, and first place also went to a girl.

She now wants me to join the gun club so we can shoot on a regular basis, which I am inclined to do. I have a 1938 Walther PPK, a 1940 Walther P38, and a 1937 (I believe) Mauser Hsr, all semiautomatic pistols that I bought as collector items but have never fired. I did present to her (albeit with a lot of restrictions relating to its usage and availability) to my first rifle, an Ithaca model 49 lever action single shot .22 that my dad gave me for my twelfth birthday ($25 from Sears and Roebuck). I think that I’ll watch the local gun auctions for a single action .22 revolver to teach her pistol shooting – I’m very against the idea of handing a semi to a kid.

There may be readers out there who rail against teaching kids to shoot guns, but in these parts, and where I grew up in rural upstate New York, it is a perfectly natural thing to do (my 15 year old niece shot three turkeys and two deer last year). Our local high school is consolidating, and one of the benefits will be more diverse activities, which to her excitement will include trap shooting. It looks like I need to find a decent shotgun too. She’s a little worried about the kick, but we have a year to work on it.

I am now wondering what other hidden talents she has…

18. June 2007 · Comments Off on ANOTHER OF LIFE’S ADVENTURES · Categories: General

Real Wife and I met with the specialist this morning to discuss treatment options and prognosis for her breast cancer, and I must say it was quite revealing. Our initial reaction on hearing the news was based largely on the norms of twenty to thirty years ago, i.e., that such a diagnosis meant at best radical and life-changing surgical procedures, extensive radiation, and chemotherapy and, at worst, the unthinkable. While I have suffered loss in my life, I cannot recall ever feeling such intense fear and hopelessness, compounded by the need to not let it show in front of Real Wife and Red Haired Girl, both of whom were likewise caught in their own personal hell. In retrospect, we erred in convincing the primary doctor to apprise us of the results as soon as they were known but before meeting with the specialist to determine what they really meant.

In this instance, we were told that it is the most common form of breast cancer, with both the treatment regime and typical outcomes well understood. Also working in our favor is the fact that it was caught relatively early, with the lump at slightly less than one centimeter. The plan at this stage is to remove the lump and inject a dye for the purpose of checking the lymph glands – both procedures done, surprisingly, on an outpatient basis. Followed up with several localized radiation treatments to catch any stray cells floating around, the hope is for a complete cure. I thought it significant that the doctor chose the word cure and not remission. If they fail to get all of it this round, another surgical procedure may be indicated, along with possible chemotherapy. While we both realize that nothing is certain, and things could take an unexpected turn for the worse, our attitude will be optimism unless hard facts tell us otherwise.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch we received a phone call yesterday at 6:00 a.m. from Real Wife’s eighty-eight year old mother asking us to come immediately. She had fallen in the night and broke her hip, and it took about two hours for her to crawl to the phone (she is now more receptive to the use of those Lifeline alert systems!). We flew over and met an ambulance, which transported her forty miles to the nearest hospital with an orthopedic surgeon. After about ten hours of waiting they finally performed surgery to replace the femoral head, which was snapped off at the base. Coincidentally, I had an identical injury some twenty-two years ago, so I was expecting the worst in terms of the trauma associated with the surgery and the difficult recovery. In my case, because I was just a little over thirty, they elected to save the head, so I was put back together with pins, rods and plates. That led to over three hours of surgery and several months of recovery. Yesterday they had her on the table for about forty-five minutes replacing the head with a prosthetic, and had her up on her feet today. Simply amazing.

All in all a pretty crappy Father’s Day, particularly for someone who really, really hates hospitals. The only good thing I can associate them with is – becoming a father 🙂