Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

2009 has been a hell of a year. Maybe this is true of every year.

May 2010 be a year in which you fulfill your goals, become a better person, and grow more at peace with yourself and your world. Go forth and do good things, however you define those. Happy New Year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Weight of the Years

This is the day I'm supposed to make sweet holiday wishes. You know, I have placed my birthday second for 30-some years, so screw that. I'm going to talk about my birthday.

Another year has passed, leaving me nothing to show but scars. The annoyingly optimistic are certain to pipe up some happy nonsense about lessons, but, really? In my experience, people rarely have the sense to learn from their experiences.

Some of us seem driven to search for a reason for everything. In the past, I have seen propagation of our most dearly held beliefs as the ultimate logical conclusion to the natural evolutionary drive to procreate: as humans, we can make some conscious decisions about what is worth preserving for future generations. This is the top of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, the pointy tip of the pyramid. Ultimately, though, I can only conclude that mankind's vaunted self-awareness is mere delusion. Humanity's ability to think about his condition seems to have gained him little except being able to understand he is miserable.

Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." This man, supposedly one of the greatest of philosophers, also used his last toast to wish some nonsense about a happy afterlife after he poisoned himself for being such an annoyance to his city. I think any utterance from such a source must be suspect.

Life. It passes. Here's to ignorance.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Movie Review Drive-by

Inglourious Basterds. Little historical content, utter fantasy, not even believable just in common-sense details. Bloody gory escapist fun. 3/5 stars.

Planet 51. Surprisingly juvenile gay humor, but cleverly lampoons many other movies. Good for anyone over 7. 3.5/5 stars.

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra. I should have known better than to watch any movie staring a Wayans brother other than Damon. Horrible. Not even worth watching for nostalgia. Or Sienna Miller. 1/5 stars.

In The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Denzel Washington stretches his acting repertoire by playing an angry and possibly crooked public servant. John Travolta likewise tries something new by playing a maniacal crook. This formula has been followed many times before, but it's a solid performance. 3/5 stars.

The Ugly Truth is a comedic drama about the differences between men and women. It is very, very funny at times, but in general is more drama than comedy- but not a downer in any case, so worth watching. 3/5 stars.

Bruno follows Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat formula of insane scenarios with oblivious people. Some of you will find this worth watching. Most of you will not. Claire cringed many times, and I did a few times, as well. We are both certain that he would literally not have lived if there had not been a camera crew present at all times. Clever at times, but most successful in that a man my age managed to somewhat believably present himself as a 19 year old gay German. I'm going to give an extra half star for acting ability, but this movie is horrible in almost every other regard. You have been warned. 1.5/5 stars.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Death to the Double

Some weeks ago, a friend was relating to me a humorous story that had happened at the ER she was working. A woman with the most incredible body and large, perfect breasts had been brought in, unconscious. Because the nature of the accident, her clothes had to be cut off. While she was unconscious, every male member of the hospital trouped in to gaze in wonder at her beautiful nude, perfectly waxed figure.

I was appalled. Revolted. My friend hadn't even considered the victimization that was happening, the violation of the patient's privacy. It was horrible. I'm sure everyone reading this is appalled, as well.




Well, okay. That's not actually what happened. What really happened, was that a male with an incredibly large sex member (described as "the size of a baby's arm") was brought in, unconscious. While he was unconscious, every female on duty in the hospital trouped in to look at his penis.

Now, imagine- if you haven't already- how horrified everyone would be that men would get to ogle a nude unconscious female. It's hard for me to see a hospital in the U.S. today where such behavior would be tolerated. When it happens to a male, though, no-one even seemed to notice, except Look! Big penis! Funny.

It's revolting and horrible. The double standard doesn't just extend to males being allowed to get away with behaviors that most of society would not accept from females. Equal rights. Equal treatment. Every time. Anything else goes against the very spirit of our country.

Monday, November 23, 2009

From the Dead

Well, not actually, but an update is certainly in order. My unit had attempted to place me in WLC (sergeant's school) twice, but each time, I was bumped because not enough slots were available.

Wednesday afternoon, I got a call from my unit in Augusta. My Unit Administrator said she understood that this was the last minute, but wanted to know if I wanted to go to WLC. I would have to fly out Friday morning.

WLC gives promotion points for enlisted ranks, and is a prerequisite before making E6. I'm also still looking for a job in the DC area, and the work was welcome. I received the packing list and my orders mid-afternoon on Thursday, and flew out early Friday.

I'll have a review of WLC up at Seek Cover soon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Worthy

I need to add two long-overdue additions to my blogroll: my friend Charlotte, one of many very neat people who love me...well, just because, and John at Gun Geeks, a humble, well-spoken, and interesting guy.  (And who *doesn't* love cool airplanes and entertaining movies?!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Free

My divorce was finalized on the 6th of October.

I'm sorry for all the wasted emotion, the frustration, the lost sleep, the anger.

But it's time to let them go.  A new day has come.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Struck Bottom, Digging

I have the dubious pleasure of reviewing Observe and Report.  This is the movie in which Seth Rogen plays his least funny role ever, while paradoxically proving, without a doubt, that he can act.

Rogen plays a bipolar, low intelligence mall security guard who has a crush on a pretty, slutty cosmetics clerk played by Anna Farris.  The problem for enjoyment is twofold: suspension of disbelief when these minimum-wage workers are working out with $30,000 in NFA weaponry, and when multiple violent felonies are committed, only to find the perpetrators back at work shortly afterward (and perhaps carrying concealed firearms, apparently without legal consequence), and the perpetual slow train wreck that is this character's life.  As far as his character, I have met delusional, often fairly stupid wannabes frequently over the years.  He plays his part perfectly.

Observe and Report: well acted, but unfunny.  1 of 5 stars.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Light me Up

There's a new post about one of my favorite pieces of gear on Seek Cover.

1995 was a hard year for me.  My mother's cancer came back, and there were some...issues that hurt me deeply.  I've had some hard times here and there since, but have probably never had a more difficult time, emotionally.  One of the things that helped me through this time was a coworker, Keith, who became good friends with me.

Every now and then, we're fortunate enough to meet people that really want nothing more than to be our friend.  Keith was one of those guys.  Unfortunately, we lost touch when I enlisted in the Army in 2001, and my Hotmail was automatically deleted from no usage while I was going through ITB (basic training for infantry).

Keith found my neglected MySpace account this week, and Davis and I met him in Atlanta today.  It was a great day.


Of my many blessings, good friends are one of the very best.  I love you, guys.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Blowing in the Wind

I was less than 15 miles away from reaching my trip destination in Smallville, NC, to see my lovely Claire.  I have never actually had a speeding ticket (that stuck, anyway!), but I began thinking about getting one, and what I would say, "I haven't seen my girlfriend in MONTHS, and I'm only x miles away...!"

I may have still been thinking these thoughts as I raced by a large gray SUV, noticing too late it was marked "NC State Patrol" on the side.  Oh, geez.  He immediately pulled in behind me, and my foot already off the gas, I pulled over to the right and looked for a good place to pull over.  I was already holding my directions showing I was only 12 miles away when the trooper pulled up next to me.  I sheepishly looked over, and he made a "brake down" gesture with his hand.  I nodded.  He left.

Soon afterward, my heart restarted with a thump, and I made it my last few miles without incident.  To Claire.  Woohoo!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Argh!

After several abortive false starts, I finally submitted my security clearance form yesterday. It was only *59* pages, plus three signature pages! But it's done. Now wait for the security police to knock on your door and ask about my activities in preschool. Don't tell them about the coloring book or the lemonade, please.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Washed Out

I wasn't feeling as great as usual (isn't it amazing how good we feel most of the time, but just don't think about it?), a few days in advance, but was not about to miss meeting Claire and co in Holden, NC for a few days of fun at the beach.

So, it wasn't all fun. I didn't sleep well several nights, and that contributed to a quarrelsome and grouchy John. I quite sensibly stayed away from flammables (unless adequately diluted with Diet Coke) and explosives during this period, and no animals were harmed. That we'll talk about.

Despite the handicaps, some really good times were had, too. I was somehow coerced into the ocean at least once, and eventually Claire and I looked around and realized all the other adults were now in the water as well. And it was good. Some great pictures were also taken our last evening at the beach. Claire and I had resolved to just mostly keep doing what we were doing, and the photographer could take pictures of us, if she liked. And a good time was had, and cute pictures were taken.

I was already waking up, so I finally rolled out of bed around 0440 this morning to shave and shower. Claire and I were rolling at 0536, and I think we went opposing directions about three minutes later. Neither of us wanted to go, but it didn't hurt as much as last time. This is a marathon, not a sprint. So, we both made it to our respective residences safely, and will recover from our individuals challenges: in my case, sleep, healthy food, and reasonable exercise is indicated.

Best Thing EVER

This just in: back at Wal-Mart- one of the two best hot sauces.

Back at WalMart! Score! on Twitpic









(Okay, so it's obviously NOT the best thing ever, but it is pretty damn good.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Just Beachin'

I have been with Claire and several of her old college-days friends at the beach since Saturday afternoon. The weather has alternated between cloudy and clear. Since I pretend to be allergic to both sun and ocean, I really don't mind the cloudy days.

Despite an unfortunate shortage of healthy food (and for all of you who want to protest that "It's a vacation! Have a good time!", my body and I begin to feel bad after a day or two of unhealthy food, so eating reasonably is part of having a good time, for me), I've enjoyed much of my time here. Good company certainly helps.

Yesterday I went with the male contingent to race carts in Myrtle Beach. I had a great time, despite being on the field with two engineers that persisted in outracing me the majority of the time.

3...2...e on Twitpic


Today, I actually got in the ocean for a few minutes. And enjoyed it. Good company, again.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Jordian Knot

After about a month and half of frustration, I was finally able to bribe The Other with lunch, and get the marriage agreement signed and notarized on Friday. She isn't in school this semester, and seems to have had lots of "challenges" with, well, life. After the notarization I asked if she was busy, or if we could just go down to the courthouse after lunch and file the divorce request.

And this was done. I was happy to pay the filing fee to ensure that it wasn't more months before Step 2 was done. Now 30 days have to pass before she can call and request the divorce filing be presented to the judge. On 5 October, I will be certain to call and remind her. And then, by golly, I shall be free.

There has to be some sadness anytime a relationship doesn't last. Seeing her again, I was reminded how she could be pleasant and charming in small doses, but was just not suited for a long-term relationship. I have almost completely forgiven myself for staying in a frequently frustrating relationship for so long, and I have most definitely learned. And next time is so very much better.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Take It Like a Champ

Dawn Fraser was born in 1937. She's won 4 Olympic Gold Medals.

A man tried to rob the Australian at her home Monday. So she kicked him in the groin, and grabbed his ear. The cops have him now.

Go, Granny!

(edit)According to some sources, Ms. Fraser was visiting her daughter's house, and there were actually two male home invaders, including one who escaped.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wheels Up?

I have sadly seen an unusual number of CRXs in the last two months, reminding me of my thrashed Furious Bumblebee. I am now putting in resumes and applications for employment, but need a ride to keep a job...and need a job to be able to purchase a really decent ride. A considerable Catch-22.

So, I was looking online. I didn't really expect to have much luck with Acuras after having no luck with Hondas, but I found a high-mileage Integra in North Carolina. If it's in the condition the description and all the pictures indicate, I'll be driving it back tomorrow. It also seems that a B16A engine swap will be easy and reasonably inexpensive, giving me another 30 horses on a 2500 pound vehicle. But, all things in good time.

The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Additions

Welcome to Newbius. Links are to Newbius and 5th Down are growing in the blogpatch to the right.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Joy Comes

The latter half of Psalm 30:5 says "crying may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning."

Last night was bittersweet. I am an incredibly lucky man. Claire cooked New York Strip steak, scalloped potatoes with prosciutto, green beans almondine, scallops, and freshly whipped cream and berries for dessert. At the risk of leaving myself open for all kinds of jokes, I felt very special.










This morning, I was treated to excellent French toast.

I'll be leaving VA in about half an hour. Leaving won't be easy, but I have seen the promised land. I can go until I come back.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday Times

Lunch yesterday was pleasant, Korean bulgogi and mandoo with icy, lemony iced tea on the Mall opposite the Smithsonian Air and Space museum.











After Claire returned to work, I toured the Smithsonian for a couple of hours. I have perhaps been spoiled, due to growing up within reasonable driving range of the Pensacola Naval Air Station's museum. Still, I enjoyed myself as I walked through, looking at the warplanes.

And a spacecraft or two.







Today, Claire made incredible crepes, and Old NFO visited. Good times. Have you ever had banana, Nutella, and toasted hazelnut crepes? HIGHLY recommended.



Friday, August 21, 2009

A Perfect Plan

Yesterday: got a Bialetti stovetop espresso maker and a emulsion mixer.

On today's agenda: visit to Smithsonian Air and Space and picnic.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cheap at the Price

I was prepared to be fairly ticked when I went to retrieve my rental from the towing company. The car had been properly parked, and the visitor parking pass had been placed. When I got to the tow company, I was surprised and angered to find the permit was no longer in the car. What the hell?

It seems the heat had caused my visitor parking decal to shrivel up under the edge of the rear windshield, so I couldn't be angry at the towing company for not seeing it. Not their fault, and if the tow...and my skinned knee and ripped toe are the worst things that happen to me on this trip, I'm well ahead of the game.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Wows and Woes

Yesterday: ripped off half the pad on my left big toe while sucking at volleyball. Also skinned and bruised my right knee before learning that the sand was only an inch and a half deep. ALSO apparently had my rental towed.

Today: black beans and eggs for breakfast. Venturing out to retrieve rental. Casualties may ensue.

Still a good day.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

News Flash

I'm now safely in VA. If you don't hear from me for a while, don't send a search party, because I'll probably not go willingly.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

On the Road

Blogging could be (read: will DEFINITELY be) light for a few days.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

In the Eyes of a Child

We were eating dinner, and little Dublin, who just celebrated his third birthday, grinned over at me with pizza sauce smeared across his face.
"Lie loo loo," he said.

I love you, too, Boy.

I haven't stopped dreaming of a little brood of my own. That dream doesn't seem so very far away any more.



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

With a Vengeance

I had a bit of an annoying and frustrating afternoon on Saturday. I did have a *lovely* morning chatting with a special friend~ aw, hell, my girlfriend on the 'net early in the morning, but a pattern emerged a little later.

Delta planes to Atlanta were late. I was a bit annoyed at myself when I realized I had misread my 1:10 PM flight as 11:10 AM, but when the flight before my scheduled flight was over an hour late, I knew it wouldn't be good. And, yay verily, it was not.

When my flight finally hit the Georgia runway, I hurried to my gate (C28, I believe), hoping that somehow other Delta flights had been delayed, and I could make it. The young lady there sent me all the way to D35, where I was greeted by a cold stare by the woman at the counter before she finally deigned to take my ticket.

"Oh, that plane's already left," she said brusquely. I gritted my teeth.
I'm sure it has, since my flight from Dallas/Fort Worth was over an hour late leaving. She obviously could not have cared less.
"You'll have to go see customer care at D24."
Thanks, you useless bitch. At least the customer care representative on the phone after I reached D24 seemed sympathetic.

I was on standby for the next flight out. And on pins, ready to get the hell out of airports for the day. I was given the *last seat* on the airplane, and gratefully made my way on the flight- only to discover someone was sitting in my seat. Ah, man...

But it seemed she had just sat in the wrong seat. Less than an hour later, I was greeted by Davis' happy face, and not much later than that, I was enjoying a home-cooked meal. Big sigh of relief.

Sunday I picked up the title, and looked for the last time on what's left of my poor little car. Furious you were, Bumblebee. I will miss you. I had such dreams for you. And me. And...well, that sounds just wrong. Never mind.

Monday I started my active training with my Reserve unit. Tuesday I showed up at 0630 for PT. And made the mistake of working my legs very heavily. So of course we ran over three miles today. That'll teach me! But at least, I'll get to do some of the working out I had originally planned for Grand Prairie.

Hey, life is good. And by "good", I mean, great.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bye-bye, Birdy

I hate moving. Have I mentioned I hate moving? Really. Leaving a military school is a small move, which means it's not as bad as a big move, but it's a move. And I...HATE...

Well, I left two of my towels because I was already short of room. If I hadn't brought *4* pairs of ACUs, and 2 pair of boots (per the packing list), I would have had plenty of room. Oh, well. 0500 came way, way, painfully early.

My mood wasn't improved by finding that everyone else had started our outprocessing routine early, even though we'd been told we wouldn't be able to...but I still was out in good time.

I was a little happier to be past the huge line at the airport and online. Despite the economic and other challenges we truly live in a golden age.

Ah, Grand Prairie. I barely knew you, and it was more than enough. Buh-bye.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rounds Complete on 2!

All course work for my 42A10 reclass training has been completed. Grand Prairie, TX has some close friends of mine nearby, but that's the only recommendation I can find for her.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Johnny and Holly

I finally have a night during which I don't have to RTB (return to base). Johnny and Holly kindly have picked me up, and are sharing their hospitality with me.

Truly good friends are rare. And immensely valuable.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Harry, Harry Potter

I finally got to hit the local YMCA two evenings ago. I'd forgotten how much I love lifting, and actually still felt the endorphin buzz for several hours afterward.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the latest installment in the movie series. I could talk about the use of light and shadow, the colors, and the acting...but I won't. My roommate had complained that this movie was more about growing up than magic, but surprise! The books really are about the ability to escape a sordid and often taxing existence into magic, so I felt the movie was true enough to the books' intent. My only real complaint is about the end of the movie, which like The Matrix Reloaded, doesn't actually end: it just stops. If you like Harry Potter movies, you'll probably like this one. If you haven't seen any, this probably isn't the one to start with. 3/5 stars.

Set, Match

Pistol match review is up on Seek Cover here.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Texas (Re?)union

Yesterday started early, with a silly, Army-issue DOL at 0600. Less than half an hour later, I found myself headed towards Denton. After a shooting match (I'll discuss on Seek Cover), I was able to meet with Lawdog, Phlegm Fatale, Johnny, Matt, and Holly for lunch. It was the first chance I've had to meet the 'dog and Phlegm in the flesh, and I can say they are at least as impressive- and even more lovable- in person. We had lunch at The Smokehouse, and it was excellent and reasonably priced. I discovered "bottle caps", which are battered and fried jalapeno slices, served with a buttermilk dressing. While they might not be the absolute most healthy food around, OMIGOD are they good. We had to order more.

Johnny rushed me back to base so I could make my pointless 1800 orientation formation (pointless because I've already been here for two weeks). After I was sitting in the auditorium with other soldiers, I noticed there were none of the people from Phase I there. Yup. Our sergeants had finally decided that we didn't actually need to attend...and no-one told me. Insert profanities of choice here.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Texas Times

A welcome cool front blew in yesterday, so the temperature probably didn't go much over 90 today. I was privileged to spend much of the day with good friends.

And I got to meet and hang out with some dogs. I like dogs. These seemed to like me, too.



Friday, July 17, 2009

Tick, tick, tick

State sovereignty movements are exploding across the U.S. While I understand the fear of a runaway Federal government that drives these, the movement should be examined in detail, so expect a much larger post here later. Hell, I might as well go the distance. Expect a general post here, a military-oriented post on Seek Cover, and a purely historical post on The History of US.

http://law.jrank.org/pages/10621/Supremacy-Clause.html

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Transformers II

The previews made this movie look cool. I guess that would be the point of previews, instead of telling you the plot of the movie in two minutes (don't you hate that?). Transformers II: Revenge of the Fallen, has explosions, giant fighting robots, and Megan Fox. It also has a bloated, meandering storyline, gratuitous, over-the-top attempts at humor-including idiotic racial dialog, and the inability to hold focus for more than a second during any given action sequence. I like beautiful things as much or more than the next guy, but it's annoying when a director is willing to substitute pure eye-candy for a more developed (and therefore, potentially exponentially more attractive) character. It's clear that Megan Fox's main mission in this movie is to look HAWT while running from evil bad robots. Yawn. 2/5 stars for flashy lights and pretty colors.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ask Me

Children start out as essentially guileless. They cry, but, when very young, have limited ways to express their needs. As they become a little older, deception first starts.

Deception is based on fear: fear of pain, rejection, or of not gaining something desired. Deceiving is a habit acquired early, and it becomes a way of life for some. I think none of us truly want to know everything about anybody. We've all made mistakes, or less than optimal decisions, and it's rare to find anyone who hasn't done at least a few things that are deeply regretted.

A few people have swung to the opposite pole: they brag about their mistakes and indiscretions, as though daring the reader or listener to judge them. In either case, an emotional connection to any issue discussed still exists, whether it's concealment or exhibitionism. How rare and refreshing, then is a quiet "You can ask me anything."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Salute

Forwarded to me by Snigs. Level 5 tissue alert.

RIP SSG John C. Beale.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Some of us Want

Deep in the Heart

They threatened us with 15-hour work days. The training schedule we were given at the 42A10 class I'm currently taking in Texas was grueling (at least, as grueling as classroom instruction can be- somehow still never as bad as shoveling in the summer). I have been often frustrated with the slow pace of instruction, and my feeling that the instructors aren't teaching very efficiently. Despite that, we were told that our class was ahead of schedule, and so, we were released at lunch Friday. Matt was kind enough to pick me up. I got to meet the family, and I think a good time was had by all.

A proud grandmother



A proud father




Matt and moi.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

TX Times




Despite being given a horrendous schedule, my classes have yet to extend past dinner. Today's class managed to waste vast amounts of time, yet we still were out before 1600. This let me get together with my dear friends Johnny and Holly, who I hadn't seen in well over a year. Unfortunately, I didn't manage any good pics of Holly, but here's one of Johnny and me, a while after we ate Indian food.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Worst Thing

It never fails. Every time, I tell myself I'll do better next time. I'll give myself more time; I won't wait until the last minute this time. And then I do it again, coming down to the wire. I'll carefully move and arrange a good deal of stuff, and then end up shoveling some stuff into bags.

Moving is good, in some ways. It helps to clarify how important things really are to you. Batteries or shirts? Movies or random electrical power sources? Moving must be a reminder to not get stagnant, to not let the daily detritus build up and overflow. I'm challenged with that.

So, in this, too...sigh...I suppose I'm thankful. Once more, I have stuff I'll have to dig out of bags and arrange into more orderly fashion at some point. Again I have gear stored at a friend's. But I'm decreasing the number of friends and family holding my stuff. I suppose that's a start.

I'm on my way to TX now. The brief flight from Augusta to Atlanta went almost unnoticed as I put in my ear plugs, donned sunglasses, and went out like a light.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

What cost?

Yes, I know it's the 4th of July. I love the USA...but people make up any nation. Children are almost like people, just smaller.

A few days ago, I was talking to a beautiful little boy of six months of age or so. He was healthily plump, sturdily built, had vivid blue eyes, and smiled at me almost the entire time. I'm a wee bit of a germophobe, but when the little guy put his fist into his mouth, and then used a finger to smear saliva around my face (while laughing his little block-shaped head off), I didn't flinch. It was totally worth it.

Yesterday, I went with a friend to the park, escorting a two-year old girl. The closest park has about five different fountains in one small area, two of them designed just to enable children to swivel and shoot each other with streams of spray. Kay was shy to run into the water with the other, larger children, so I finally sighed, and put a hand down so she could grab my thumb, and I was ready to catch her if she slipped on the wet concrete. Then we ran through the spray together. I hadn't planned on getting wet at all, not generally being a fan of most water-based recreation. When I saw the enormous grin on that little face, though, getting soaked was totally worth it.

You know, we don't really work to protect our freedoms for ourselves as much as we do it for the next generation. We as a nation are not as free as we once were, but we're still much freer than most of the rest of the world. We have to continue to protect our freedoms, and even regain some lost ground- for our children's sake.

I head out to TX tomorrow for training. With any luck, I'll get to see the TX contingent (Phlegm, LawDog, Matt G, et al.) while I'm there. Not sure how much online time I'll have, but don't worry.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Ode to Comcast

What good is a "service" that doesn't actually work most of the time? I thought I'd suggest some more appropriate advertising slogans. Feel free to make your own as you have the inclination.

"Comcast High-speed Internet Access: We Suck Faster".


"Comcast High-speed Internet Access: Don't Get Up, We're Not."


"Comcast High-speed Internet Access: Not Ready When You Are."


"Comcast High-speed Internet Access: Nice Employees, Bad Service."


"Comcast High-speed Internet Access...Sucker!"


"Comcast High-speed Internet Access: All Your Fail Are Belong to Us."


"Comcast High-speed Internet Access: Just Go With Knology."


"Comcast High-speed Internet Access: @#$% You."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Zoo

Imagine a sweet, dreamy, thoughtful movie...about people who have sex with animals. Sound like your cup of tea? Well, Zoo is for you. Honestly, I'm not much of a moralist. I often question or debate whether I'm really that "good" a guy. I'm human, I have faults. I've taken money from the government to kill people before, and I'm likely to do it again. I don't feel bad about this at all. I'm making a point about moral ambiguity. I'm just not that judgmental, especially regarding sexuality.

When it comes to sex, I only have a couple of rules I am perfectly willing to help enforce on anybody. For adults, sexual partners should be of age, and the sex should be consensual (the latter of course indicates that they are capable of giving consent, which must also mean they are a functional instead of just legal adult.) That's about it. The moral problem with having sex with animals is the issue of consent. Does Fido consent? Does Kitty? Does Flicka? In any case, it's icky. It's a frickin' animal, for Pete's sake.

Well, Zoo tells the story of a man who really loved horses, in one sense of the world. And we definitely know that one loved him back. Good and hard. Since the horse was definitely the active participant, this movie revolves around the man's death. The death, apparently, was a tragedy.

Okay, let's stop here. Hold on. Right or wrong, morally incorrect or not, the death of someone who lets himself get bred by an animal five times his size or larger is NOT a tragedy. It's Darwin in action. It's suicide by horse injection. He had it coming.

So, you know, if you want to watch the horse sex movie and listen to the quiet music and earnest dialog ("sometimes we'd have a bean dish, or some kind of meat") about how these nutty fruitcakes just love animals (We're "Zoo"!), feel free. Just be certain to laugh uproariously at the comedy of it all, and lament that the newspapers concealed the man (Kenneth Pinyan)'s name. He should have had "Horse @#$%er"- or, maybe, "Horse @#$%ed" painted on the side of his casket, as a lesson for other abysmally stupid people. 2/5 stars.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sound the "All Clear!"

Everyone has heard that the king is dead. The twisted, sad saga of flight and crash has come to an end.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Homeward Bound?

I drove at reasonable speeds on the way back to Augusta from Mobile. I had a really great time visiting my family. I was able to spend time with my favorite cousins, four of my five siblings, and three aunts and an uncle. I played "42" and "Acquire", and actually won my final game of the latter. I was able to see my little brother almost every day, and spend time with nieces and a nephew. I had the chance to help lend a hand for some moving and house remodeling my aunt and uncle were doing. I got to eat some good Southern Cooking.

Here are some shots from my trip.














Returning from a trip to see those dear to you is such a bittersweet experience. It's nice to return to one's niche, to the familiar and comfortable. It's also a bit sad to leave those you love. I'll be moving on soon, myself. We'll see what the future has in store.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Glockin' Around...

A post about the Hera GCC is up at Seek Cover. LAN World claims units will begin shipping in 6 to 8 weeks.

Delays

I apologize for not posting more: my internet connectivity was down for about a day and a half. I should have a post up later today.



Monday, June 22, 2009

Home

After almost exactly 9 hours of travel, I arrived back in Augusta tonight. I'll write about it later: for now, I'm going to get ready for bed.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nothing Lasts

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a very romantic movie, if by "romantic" you mean magic and perpetually elusive fulfillment. Well done for what it is, and probably just the thing if you want to immerse yourself in the beautiful tragedy of existence. Don't watch it. 3.5/5 stars.

With the fishes

Well, dolphins, actually. Big sis, little bro & co, me & a young friend of big sis went to the beach in Gulf Shores for a couple of days. After we arrived we took a "dolphin cruise".

Our intrepid sailors










What the boats looked like








The technique was pretty neat. The boats would line up parallel to each other, and sail at about 20 knots or so, generating a decent wake. The idea was to attract dolphins, who, like teenage surfers, evidently just love a good wake. Does it work?




















Yep.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Barbecue and brats





I was able to spend Saturday afternoon with my brother Randy, and nephew and niece. I know I'm prejudiced, but I think these two are the most beautiful children I've ever seen. Shirleys make pretty kids. Nessie is almost impossibly sweet, and little Junior...well, he's just like his father was at his age. Karma never forgets.

Randy made some of God's food, often known as barbecue, both ribs and chicken. It was a good day.


Star Trek

Star Trek is big. Big spectacle, big sound, big cast, big budget.

And it doesn't make a damn bit o' sense.

Let's say- for instance- that a character renowned for his logic makes an emotional, illogical, and almost certainly illegal decision and sends another crew member down to a zombie glacial planet, where he will (of course) meet Simon Pegg. Only the zombies, this time, will not be the Shaun of the Dead traditional zombies, but Resident Evil abominations. And, um, let's further say that a meganormous wolf-baboon is hard on the heels of this crewman- but a mutant blend of spider, dragon, and venus fly-trap kills the wolf-baboon. But instead of eating the larger baboon, which it has already killed, it instead chases the much smaller crewman.

Let's also say there exists a substance which will create black holes. A minute amount- a drop- of this substance is all that is required. Instead of taking this substance in a pre-packaged, ready to use platform, this super-advanced civilization instead takes an enormous amount of this substance on ship, necessitating an overly-complicated, long preparation process that seems more at home in the early 20th century. Let's say that all bad guys are handily identified with villain-y tattoos, and that any evil ships look like they're made of rusty razors and bad attitude. Let's say that anyone involved in a fight will automatically get into a fight utilizing their strengths, no matter how unlikely those skills are...well, you get the point.

2.5/5 stars.

Birthdays

I attended the birthday of one of Russell's brood, about a week ago. Here's the birthday girl in action.















While waiting for everyone else to finish eating, little Dublin and I went for a walk.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dreams

As I drove to Alabama, I listened to Van Halen and other cds. Ironically enough, I had a very concrete daydream about this. I thought perhaps it would make a good first dance wedding song- which might perhaps prove I am, despite my educational level and inclinations, ultimately a white-trash 'neck...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Oh, the Humanity

Blindness looks like a catastrophe or science fiction flick. Watching a couple of previews gave me the impression that some form of plot was at work. I'm not going to give many spoilers here, but focusing on apocalyptic scenarios or science fiction paranoia is not at all the point of this movie.

Blindness is about what it means to be human, with all the good and bad that implies, and how people may act when the society we know ceases to function. This is a gritty movie, and if you're very sensitive to language, violence, or sexual situations, this is definitely not the movie for you. This is NOT a kids' movie by any stretch: not that many teenagers would enjoy it, in any case. It is a movie worth watching, though: I'm just not sure how many times I could take it. 3.5/5 stars.

Defiance is another movie about being alive, but with a different message. Based on a true story, Defiance stars typecast tough guys Liev Schreiber and Daniel Craig as Jewish brothers who almost accidentally end up leading a huge community of Jews in the wilderness during World War II. While not certain how Schreiber first came to be cast into bad-ass roles, it is certain that he plays them well. When he comes against Craig, though, there is an obvious winner, as Craig manages to exude a very real menace while still seeming three-dimensional. (As a side note, Craig would be the obvious choice to play Patricio Carrera if Tom Kratman's A Desert Called Peace is made into a movie in the next few years.)

Craig is a superb actor, though his accent at times seems better suited to an Irishman than a Polish Jew. Schreiber does his usual fine job, with a better accent than Craig. Like Blindness, there is a good deal of grim in this movie, but it is an inspiring lesson, and I think will hold up well to repeated watching. 3.5/5 stars.

SPAT(G)

A post describing the M50 Ontos, M56 Scorpion, and M551 Sherridan is up at Seek Cover.

It is sad but probably to be expected that what was almost certainly the best system of the three may have seen the least use.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Teaching Talent

A New York charter school, The Equity Project, is seeking to get the best teachers available by an insidious and never previously explored scheme- paying for them. TEP plans to lure the best teachers available by offering salaries of up to $150,000.

More power to 'em.

Big Brother...For Your Hands?

A new system designed by University of Florida professors will sniff health workers' (or potentially others) hands for soap fumes. HyGreen would be installed near sinks, and workers would pass their hands underneath the detector after washing.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cut...Me

So, since I have the means- and Matt told me to do it- here's a pic of the new 'do. Since I'm often so somber, I thought I'd show one of me smiling.








What do you think? Is it too festive? Be honest. I can always take another with my usual scowl.

Here, kitty-kitty!

Today I gave up on finding my card reader and bought another one while I was at Wal-Mart. Since they're both made in China, I'm not really sure why the one from Wal-Mart was twice as much as my last one (which was a swoopy green, too)! I have noticed a tendency recently for Wal-Mart to frequently not have the lowest prices on an item. I'm going to say that's because they undercut the competition enough for them to go out of business, and now Wally World can raise their prices.

Anyway, here are pictures of Big Momma and Baby. Big Momma's picture looks odd, but then, so does Big Momma.


















Baby is lying atop her favorite toy. She'll bring it to you in case you forgot she has a toy you should be sharing with her!











Reason #228 dogs are better than cats: a good dog who is given reasonable potty breaks will not pee on your carpet. I *know* even a cat should be able to tell the difference between carpet and cat litter. These are some of the coolest cats I've met, and they still are down around the level of the worst dogs, when it comes to likability. Except for Chihuahuas and Chows. They, like almost all cats, are pure spawn of the fallen one, or something.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Haircut

I went to what I used to call a "ranger flat-top" cut on Saturday. I have been advised by the barber it's actually a "high and tight flat-top". Maybe pics, sometime...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Promo?

I did double duty today. First, I did "Army training, sir!" for most of the day, and then finished out the afternoon and evening with last-minute work at Buttress.

I had my military ID renewed today at the base. The young lady at DEERS looked over at my uniform, and back at her screen, and said, "It says here, 'E6'." I assured here I was NOT an E6, but was just working in an E6 slot.

"Well, I have to put in what it says."

"I'm okay with that."

My ID says E6. Now, if they would just give me E6 pay...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sweet 'N Sour

Paul Blart: Mall Cop is very like Dickens, in some ways. You sympathize with the main character, sweet, bumbling security guard Paul Blart (Kevin James), while cringing at the many indignities and misfortunes he encounters. Like Dickens' novels, the viewer is certain that eventually good things will happen, but if you have some empathy, it's really painful getting to that point.

Blart is a mall cop whose mall is invaded by what are obviously X Games athletes. The familiar bumbler-beats-expert criminals routine follows. Kevin James is an extremely agile actor, and is well suited to the role. Whether the role is worth watching...that's a different story. 2.5/5 stars.

Monsters vs. Aliens is an almost unalloyed joy. It's big, it's fun, and it's written so that both adults and children can find reasons to laugh at the same time. The exceptionally funny Seth Rogen lends his vocal talents, as does movie cutie (and longtime crush of mine) Reese Witherspoon. If you had to make any human 50 feet tall, Reese Witherspoon, who can't seem to help embodying sweetness and light, would be the only real choice. I may be underselling this one at 3.5/5 stars.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mini Blogmeet

I had the pleasure of getting together with Old NFO and Snigs and her family for an early lunch at the Cracker Barrel. I found Snig's children to be a delightful change from the amateur criminals I have been most recently dealing with, and I think a good time was had by all.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Parting Shots

Yesterday was my last day teaching high school, perhaps ever. I will miss a few students, especially those that came to the book club because they enjoyed books. I will miss the moments when I felt I created an excellent learning opportunity.

I will not miss seeing those opportunities squandered.

20 May 2009. 3rd period.


"What are you going to do after this?"

Me: "Shoot targets for the Army and think of you."

I leave you with a list of names third period, especially, called me.

Names that left me livid: Brittney, Shirls, Casper.

Names that were disrespectful but I still found flattering: John Cena, jarhead, Goldberg, UFC.



Hasta la bye-bye, students. I'll see you in the Crime Blotter. You may count yourselves very fortunate.

Blake



William Blake - Auguries of Innocence

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage.

A dove-house fill'd with doves and pigeons
Shudders hell thro' all its regions.
A dog starv'd at his master's gate
Predicts the ruin of the state.

A horse misused upon the road
Calls to heaven for human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted hare
A fibre from the brain does tear.

A skylark wounded in the wing,
A cherubim does cease to sing.
The game-cock clipt and arm'd for fight
Does the rising sun affright.

Every wolf's and lion's howl
Raises from hell a human soul.

The wild deer, wand'ring here and there,
Keeps the human soul from care.
The lamb misus'd breeds public strife,
And yet forgives the butcher's knife.

The bat that flits at close of eve
Has left the brain that won't believe.
The owl that calls upon the night
Speaks the unbeliever's fright.

He who shall hurt the little wren
Shall never be belov'd by men.
He who the ox to wrath has mov'd
Shall never be by woman lov'd.

The wanton boy that kills the fly
Shall feel the spider's enmity.
He who torments the chafer's sprite
Weaves a bower in endless night.

The caterpillar on the leaf
Repeats to thee thy mother's grief.
Kill not the moth nor butterfly,
For the last judgement draweth nigh.

He who shall train the horse to war
Shall never pass the polar bar.
The beggar's dog and widow's cat,
Feed them and thou wilt grow fat.

The gnat that sings his summer's song
Poison gets from slander's tongue.
The poison of the snake and newt
Is the sweat of envy's foot.

The poison of the honey bee
Is the artist's jealousy.

The prince's robes and beggar's rags
Are toadstools on the miser's bags.
A truth that's told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.

It is right it should be so;
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Thro' the world we safely go.

Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.

The babe is more than swaddling bands;
Every farmer understands.
Every tear from every eye
Becomes a babe in eternity;

This is caught by females bright,
And return'd to its own delight.
The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar,
Are waves that beat on heaven's shore.

The babe that weeps the rod beneath
Writes revenge in realms of death.
The beggar's rags, fluttering in air,
Does to rags the heavens tear.

The soldier, arm'd with sword and gun,
Palsied strikes the summer's sun.
The poor man's farthing is worth more
Than all the gold on Afric's shore.

One mite wrung from the lab'rer's hands
Shall buy and sell the miser's lands;
Or, if protected from on high,
Does that whole nation sell and buy.

He who mocks the infant's faith
Shall be mock'd in age and death.
He who shall teach the child to doubt
The rotting grave shall ne'er get out.

He who respects the infant's faith
Triumphs over hell and death.
The child's toys and the old man's reasons
Are the fruits of the two seasons.

The questioner, who sits so sly,
Shall never know how to reply.
He who replies to words of doubt
Doth put the light of knowledge out.

The strongest poison ever known
Came from Caesar's laurel crown.
Nought can deform the human race
Like to the armour's iron brace.

When gold and gems adorn the plow,
To peaceful arts shall envy bow.
A riddle, or the cricket's cry,
Is to doubt a fit reply.

The emmet's inch and eagle's mile
Make lame philosophy to smile.
He who doubts from what he sees
Will ne'er believe, do what you please.

If the sun and moon should doubt,
They'd immediately go out.
To be in a passion you good may do,
But no good if a passion is in you.

The whore and gambler, by the state
Licensed, build that nation's fate.
The harlot's cry from street to street
Shall weave old England's winding-sheet.

The winner's shout, the loser's curse,
Dance before dead England's hearse.

Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born,
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.

Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.

We are led to believe a lie
When we see not thro' the eye,
Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in beams of light.

God appears, and God is light,
To those poor souls who dwell in night;
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.


It's poetry. Everything is NOT everything. A rat is not a pig, is not a dog, and not a boy. BUT- there is a way to be, and we all should find it.

A Note to my friends

There seems to be some concern, in some parts. Let me point out that a realistic assessment of the near-term prospects is considerably different than being caught in a funk.

Last night, I had dinner with Davis and some friends. I spent a pleasant couple of hours, and excused myself. I was in bed quite early, especially for a Friday night.

This morning, I arose at a reasonable hour, and walked five miles with a friend.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thunder, Thunder, Thunderheart!

I might have had a drink or three more than was prudent after a stressful day with my worst class. Buttress is going through finals week, which means my day was divided between only two classes today. Fortunately, I spotted my absolute worst student hanging out in the hall before the class started, and advised an assistant principal. (This student is suspended after screaming at me to "Shut up!" several times Monday, and then walking away when I was finally able to get him out of the classroom. I'm not sure why he was at school, considering I called his mother Monday afternoon and told her he would have to take the final next week.)

Anyway, I tossed some marinated drumsticks, some light hot dogs, and a pound of bacon on the grill, chopped some jalapenos and 3/4 of a bell pepper into the crockpot, along with various spices and some diced tomatoes and beans, and grabbed my student work. I put on Thunderheart (free On-Demand!), the 1992 Val Kilmer-discovers-his-NDN-roots crime drama.

At the end of the movie, an old medicine man laughs. And I suddenly missed my Grandpa very much.

Interesting fact: a Shirley is currently president of an Indian Nation. Though I'm not aware of having any Navajo blood.

So Sad it's Funny

If a student only shows up perhaps 1/3 of the time, and is usually late on those days- and isn't a very good student to start out with- their test results can be "interesting". Observe.

GA Standards 22-25 Test

1.President Roe v. Wade integrated the U.S. military and the federal government.
2. Jimmy Carter was the award-winning first black baseball player to play on one of the previous all-white U.S. professional baseball teams.
3. Gerald Ford was the Supreme Court decision that forced schools to racially integrate.
4. Martin Luther King, Jr wrote “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” & made a speech called “I have a dream".
5. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were attempts to restore freedoms lost by Watergate.
6. The 1966 Cesar Chavez required arresting police officers to read citizens their rights.
7. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
8. Lyndon Johnson was vice president until 1963. His social program was called the Freedom rides(9.). popular support (10.)was established while he was in office.
11. In 1968 politician Bakke decision, a presidential hopeful, as well as civil rights great Robert Kennedy (12.) were assassinated.
13. Some of the tactics of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) included EPA(a), and _________________ (b).
14. The NOW was created to help women achieve equal rights with men.
15. Lack of African Americans for the Vietnam War was the most important reason the U.S. withdrew troops.
16. Bill Clinton led the United Farm Workers’ movement.
17. Marin biologist Rachel Carson’s fight against pesticides helped lead to the creation of the Richard M. Nixon, and the modern environmentalist movement.
18. The rise of the conservative movement can be seen in the presidential candidacy of Harry Truman in 1964 and the election of Brown v. Board of Education (19.) in 1968.
20. President Clinton opened relations with China, but was forced to resign due to the Miranda decision (21.) scandal. He was pardoned by his former vice president, Barry Goldwater(22.).
23. The 1973 Supreme Court decision Jackie Robinson protected a woman’s right to abort.
24. The 1978 Martin Luther King, Jr. protected white applicants for positions from discrimination.
25. President Robert Kennedy faced the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and the Iranian hostage crisis.
26. President presidential election was very influential; during his two terms, he faced the Iran-contra scandal, and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
27. President Medicare was impeached but acquitted.
28. The 2000 Ronald Reagan was extremely close, and caused many Americans to reconsider the electoral college.
29. The attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, led to the “war against terrorism”, and the subsequent American interventions in Afghanistan (30.) and Iraq.

Essay (31-33.): write what you consider to be the most important event of the 20th Century (1900s), and why it was so important! (not attempted)

I'm not sure whether to laugh through the tears, or cry through the laughter. One week, and it's bye-bye, Buttress!

Monday, May 18, 2009

In the Time of the Rain

Yet another phase of my life is drawing to a close.

I've had some very stressful times during this past year. Teaching at an extremely tough high school, combined with the dissolution of my marriage, has not been a joyride. At the same time, for the past couple of months, I've lived in an extremely nice townhouse, with a jillion cable channels, and- best of all- a screened-in back porch.
I've greatly enjoyed being able to spend some relaxing hours out there, with Byron or Davis and sometimes other friends, smoking cigars and enjoying the night air and good music or the soft whisper of the rain. I have to laugh at myself, but I like to light candles to provide some gentle atmospheric lighting. I switched out one of the kitchen lights with an amber LED, so I can leave a light on so things can be found in the kitchen, without a lot of harsh light bleeding out onto the porch. But change is coming.

Soon I'll be moving again. I don't know which Shirley will emerge, but it may be time yet again for the ascetic warrior, the driven John Shirley who spends hours every week training his body and mind. The guy who needs almost nothing material, sits on the floor, and readily sleeps there, too. I have become soft, too soft and self-indulgent, and despite my sometimes fervent yearning for certain things- a hearth and home, a soft and willowy-strong partner, a little brood to love fervently and protect fiercely- it may not be time for these things.

I just don't know what time it is. But there have been bright and lovely moments in these nights.

I call it "karma"

Friday, 15 May: Room 134, Buttress High School, 4th period.

"Mr. Shirley, do you ever go to Wal-Mart?"

"Well, not that often, Ms. Purcell. Why do you ask?"

"Petey says if he sees you, you better watch out."

"Oh- does he?"

Despronte' "Petey" Blinkey was shot in the leg this weekend at a local Econo Lodge. Another student was not so lucky. He was shot in the head.

Friday, May 15, 2009

FYI

I don't care how energetically you yell, or if you struggle enough while I'm holding you back to knock over desks- if you wait until the other party has been removed from the classroom, and they are in secure custody to decide you're ready to throw down, you will lose "street cred" with me.

I may also think you're an idiot, too. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Holiday

Mother's Day came and went, and I didn't know what to say.

Shades of Me


Dr. Nugget had an adorable cartoon of herself on Facebook. She advised it came from Be Funky. Unfortunately, it seems this program doesn't cartoon me well. What does look cool are sunbursts and ink blots. Huh.

Scenes From an Italian Restaurant

The classic William Martin Joel song, paired with scenes from the horrible Phantom of the Opera movie by some deranged fan.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Slightly Mixed Feelings



Sigh. You know, I've heard people say, "If you can only reach one, it's worth it."


Unfortunately, that's just not true. I've had several people tell me that it's just the particular school I'm in that's the problem, and to not let it discourage me. Too late. It's just not worth dealing with the 10 apathetic and the 3 outright demonic students I have for every decent student. I'm sorry for the few good students I have, and I really feel for the (mostly) great students that show up for the book club, but I don't think I'll ever teach again below the college level.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Twisted Truths and Let Freedom Ring

I know there are subjects that are serious, and I am at least as likely as anyone else to be serious about them...but I really laughed over this.




Not funny, from the same individual:

Funny again: oh, those silly Brits!

And one more, and then I'll video y'all no more for quite a while. Let me state my firm belief that we must be first to laugh out ourselves. This is perhaps the most alarming trait of the politicians that seem most powerful in these United States these days. Lighten up, Francis!

The Stranger

After listening to this song for over twenty years, I'm still not sure exactly what it means, or if it's even meant to be anything more than a statement about the impenetrability of the human condition.

If the latter, I disagree, but it's a good song.

Love

I like the Model of 1917 rifle. A lot. One common question posted by those with too much time on internet gun boards is, "If you could only have one rifle for..."

Now, sometimes it's a specific set of circumstances, such as "in Zimbabwe during the wet season", or "in Los Angeles on August 13, 1965". More commonly, the question is something like "If you could only have one rifle, what would it be?"

Well, if I could only have one rifle for hunting, defense against human predators, and protection from large dangerous game, a U.S. Model of 1917 rifle should be a great choice. Incredibly tough, very fast for a bolt-action, with good sights and not prone to malfunctions caused by grit and mud, the 1917 was the rifle that most U.S. troops carried into WWI. Its .30-06 cartridge is ideal for most deer-sized game, and sufficient to take almost anything, with practice and care, while recoiling gently enough that almost any healthy adult can handle it.

Here is an ideal example for most folks, in a handy carbine version. While we are living in a golden age of firearms development, some things aren't significantly improving over time.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Rise of the Nanny State

Proposed bill H.R. 1966 would make it a Federal crime to be Not Nice on the 'Net, with offensive speech described so broadly as to totally abrogate our First Amendment rights.

It's 1984 all over again.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tipping Point

Submitted yesterday:

5/1/2009

J.R. Shirley
Evans GA

Mr. George Thomas, Principal

Buttress High School

Dear Mr. Thomas:

I have appreciated the chance to work with the History Department here at Butress. I have learned many invaluable lessons, for which I am thankful. However, I have decided to continue my education by pursuing a Ph.D. in History. Conscious of the many demands upon a teacher’s time, I know I will be unable to dedicate myself to my Ph.D. program and also give enough to my students. I must therefore regretfully inform you that I am hereby tendering my resignation effective May 28, 2009.

Best Regards,

J.R. Shirley

Monday, May 4, 2009

Attack of the Bs

I feel that Keanu Reeves and Nicholas Cage share a certain wooden delivery. The difference, career-wise, between the two seems to be that Reeves usually manages to pick a vehicle in which appearing to be brain-damaged or "disconnected" just seems to fit. The remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still and Bangkok Dangerous are no exceptions to the tendencies of the two actors.

In Day, Reeves plays an alien. Pretty well, since he doesn't seem wholly human. The FX are pretty good, and Jennifer Connelly does her usual fine job, soulful eyes and all. What was tiresome in 50s and 60s monster films, however, is still tiresome today. And whining about how horrible-but-beautiful mankind is really seems rather- well, stupid. You know? 2.5/5 stars.

Bangkok Dangerous
shows some signs of promise. It begins almost properly moody, for a film of this type, but it stars someone who can't act, doing things that are not admirable, and ends badly. 1.5/5 stars.

Babylon A.D. Vin Diesel is usually entertaining, so even though this looked like it might be a B movie, it was entertaining. Despite occasional clinched elements of apocalyptic flicks, it gets 3/5 stars.

Bedtime Stories. Wow. This one had a few minutes of outright hilarity (usually provided by outre' Russell Brand), but when it wasn't good, it was horrible. Stories is not one of the "smart" movies for kids that adults can also enjoy. I like Adam Sandler in general, but this movie illustrates everything potentially wrong with a Sandler movie. Even giving half a star for the presence of beautiful Teresa Palmer in a bikini only gives this 1.5/5 stars. I watched this with a couple of 7-year-olds, and they liked it, but I was glad I didn't pay full price.

Lakeview Terrace stars Samuel L. Jackson as a sometimes well-meaning but ultimately sociopathic police officer. He disagrees with the relationship of his new mixed-race neighbors and goes to every length to get them out of the neighborhood. While I was happy to see a brief appearance by Ron Glass, there's really not much to recommend this film. It's predictable and silly at the same time. 2/5 stars.

The Love Guru. I didn't have high hopes for this one, and I was right. Justin Timberlake (as an amazingly endowed Canadian) is practically the only funny thing in the movie. Myers seems stuck on midget jokes he's already worn out using Vern Troyer in the Austin Powers flicks. It does have humorous moments, but even awarding an extra half-star for Jessica Alba, and cameos by Mariska Hargitay and beautiful Indian dancers only nets it 1.5/5 stars.

Punisher: War Zone looked like it probably would be pretty bad, but that's an understatement. The story itself was adapted pretty closely from some of the Punisher comics, but the script, at times, was abysmal. Ray Stevenson actually played a good, and sometimes great, Frank Castle, but no-one alive could be good enough to balance out Dominic West and Doug Hutchison playing deranged brothers. These two make Nick Cage look like Oscar material. If you want explosions, this movie has them, but otherwise, don't waste your time. 1 of 5 stars.

The Spirit. I was pretty sure this would be horrible. I was right. Head villain Samuel L. Jackson loses respect from me for agreeing to be in this turkey. The title character is a complete cad, with a physiology that allows him no physical consequences for his promiscuity, and the women in his life shake their heads in mild reproof or laugh at his philandering. Director Frank Miller seemingly couldn't decide whether he wanted to make a comedy or a drama, so he tried to both, and failed at each. He even squanders the talents of funnyman Louis Lombardi. I'm giving this failure 1/5 stars for beautiful and tasteful partial nudity from Eva Mendes. And that's it. I would almost pay to not see this movie.

, for Once

Most eloquent use of vulgarity I think I've seen. Seriously.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Perfect Rum and Coke

There are many kinds of perfect. Here is just one. It's a good choice if you want a light flavor without overpowering rum or alcohol flavors. Pyrat is a high-end rum made by Patron. It's not cheap, but if used as a flavoring, will last longer than one might expect.

Ice
6 oz Coke
3/4 oz Pyrat XO Reserve Rum
3/4 oz Bacardi 151

Pour ice into cup. Fill a shot glass with half Pyrat and half Bacardi 151. Pour about 2 oz of Coke into cup. Follow with half of shot glass contents. Pour another 2 oz Coke, and empty shot glass. Add last 2 oz of Coke. Stir and garnish with cherry or lime slice, if desired.




A historical note on the bottle decoration: Karl Greenberg describes the buddha ("Hoti") on the bottle as being a "fictive patron saint". This is not accurate, since Happy Hotei is indeed the Laughing Buddha. He could well be described as the patron saint of bartenders (as well as restaurateurs and fortune tellers). Do your homework, Mr. Greenberg!

A perfect cup

Some good ways to go.

Irish-American
4 parts strong coffee
1 part Irish cream
1/2 part rum or whiskey
Top with whipped cream and sprinkled cinnamon or chocolate syrup, if desired.

Italian-American
4 parts strong coffee
1 part cream or milk
1 1/2 part Amaretto*
Dash whiskey

Powerful Virgin
6 oz skim milk, heated to just below boiling
4 oz extremely strong coffee (about 3x normal strength)
1 spoonful Hershey's Cocoa Powder
1 packet Splenda (or Equal or 1 spoonful sugar, if preferred)



*I prefer Lazzaroni Amaretto for value and quality.

Hello, hello?

Ring, ring.

Well, I don't recognize the number, but it's local.

"Hello?"

(Woman speaks.)

"Hey, how are you?"

"I'm good. How are you?"

"I'm good. I'm running a little behind. I'm still putting on my makeup, but if you want to head on over-"

"I'm sorry to interrupt. I think you have the wrong number."

"OH! I'm sorry!"

"No, I'm sorry. You sound very nice and pleasant."

"Thank you."

"No problem. You called 399-1234."

"Thanks, have a nice day."

"You, too."

Sigh.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bears vs. Pirates

A Russian frigate has captured a pirate vessel.

The Good Die Young

Saturday morning, the husband of my cousin Ada suffered a fatal heart attack while in the shower. Her two children, 11 and 9, had to help get their father out of the shower so Ada could perform CPR. Despite CPR, neither Ada or EMS could bring him back.

Jeff Holyfield was 44, and had been married to my cousin for 17 years. Obituary. He was a good man, father, and husband.

If you're a praying sort, please keep Ada, Logan, and John in your prayers.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sweet and Sad



I find this truly endearing.


Also, despite my sub-par higher math skills, I fear I'm a nerd.

Defining the Terrorist Threat

(aka Vigilance my Eagle)

The Obama administration has squarely stepped into the poo as the story has finally broken that recent returning U.S. veterans have been targeted for especial investigative attention. It's not like they're paying for the U.S. to stay free with their blood and sweat, or anything. No reason to get upset.

Vampire 6 at Afghanistan Shrugged shares a communique regarding other groups of interest, and Don Gwinn helpfully posts a threat/no-threat id chart.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Marinade

Marinade, Tasty morsels on parade
Marinade. Soon no-one will ever find you
...


Byron is visiting again, and I asked him to grill a couple of chicken breasts for us. He was almost done when he asked me if I remembered how I made the marinade.

"Could you make it again?"

Yeah...is it okay?

"Oh, my god."

So, anyway, the chicken turned out really well. The marinade ingredients were (in descending order of proportion):

dark cane vinegar
(sukang iloko)
soy sauce
chili garlic sauce
fish sauce
garlic powder
ginger
sage

nước mắm is a useful ingredient, especially for cooking Asian or Asian-influenced dishes. It is a powerful flavoring that is essential for Thai or Vietnamese cooking. Every fish sauce I've tried has worked fine, and it is incredibly inexpensive. I think I paid $1.69 for a 24-oz bottle that will take me months to go through, if I use it weekly. Be aware that fish sauce usually has a good bit of sodium, so don't add any extra salt if you're using fish sauce in a dish.

I have used several brands of fish sauce, including Tra Chang, Tiparos, and Three Crabs. (These are all Thai sauces.) Of the three, Tiparos is probably the easiest to find. I would be least likely to use Three Crabs, because of the hydrolyzed wheat protein. I've had good luck with fish sauce. Every brand I've tried has worked fine in my recipes (I've used it most often in Thai curries), so if all you can find locally is a brand in Kroger or Publix, don't worry. Also, unless you do something silly like ordering it through the mail or you live in Alaska, fish sauce is inexpensive. Unless you do a lot of Asian cooking, you may be able to find a small bottle of fish sauce for $.99 that will be excellent for your cooking needs, so don't be afraid to not spend much on it.


HallowE09