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, 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

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.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

In Bruges

Colin Farrell is one of the more recognizable of the group of thirty-ish actors in Hollywood. He has fairly wide exposure for someone of his age, ranging from forgettable to mildly entertaining (SWAT, Daredevil) to workmanlike (The Recruit, Minority Report). He might have wanted to show his acting ability when he starred in the 2006 drama Ask the Dust: it was certainly unhappy enough, since the movie killed its most beautiful feature in one of the most depressing ways possible. At the end of his career, Farrell's best piece of work could well be his performance In Bruges.

In Bruges is the second film written and directed by Martin McDonaugh. Like the first film (2004's Six Shooter), it also stars Brendan Gleeson, who could not possibly be more perfect for his role.

Farrell plays his character, a hit man who had really bad luck on his first assignment, with flair. His Ray suffers from some defect, which may be as simple as attention deficit disorder. In any case, he demonstrates a physical genius to balance out his freneticism.
It is often hard to classify In Bruges. The action is usually very deliberate, with the focus on the dialog and scenery. The dialog deserves a special word. In Bruges contains a truly epic amount of cursing and vulgarity, but I do not believe it to be gratuitous, because it sounds very genuine. The Irish accents of the two leads are beautiful, and add to the charm, and this is a charming movie.

And a harsh movie. And a real movie. And a funny movie. This has evidently been billed as a comedy, which I most assuredly do not believe it is. It is instead a very well-rounded movie, with some very funny parts mixed for balance.

Ralph Fiennes plays a major supporting role as a mob boss who is both truly admirable and loathsome. Like the other characters, he is very real in many ways, both simplistic and complicated. If I dreamt of hell, I might see Ralph Fiennes. He is capable of being truly terrifying, while also projecting a knife-edged humor.

In Bruges isn't for anyone who is easily offended. If you can't handle violence, don't watch. For readers looking for a complicated movie outside of the normal pablum, this could be your perfect cup of tea. 3.5/5 stars.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tesla...Down Under?

Link. Crazy Aussies.

Open Minds

I learned today that some politicians are attempting to control the internet. Not only is the restriction of free speech specifically prohibited in the Constitution, attempting to control the internet to any meaningful extent (other than, say, tracking down child porn and such) is an exercise in frustration. It reminds me of part of a poem I wrote years ago:

You cannot make me see
I will not face reality
I'll be happy as can be
In my world of I and me
In my world of I and me

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Of Old Men and Exercise

The 100th Division has been having its Warrior Training Exercise this week. (As an aside, the recent trend to tack the word "warrior" on anything involving service members strikes me as tiresome. To me, a warrior is someone who continually works to hone combat skills, whether that person is employed as a soldier, or not. But now the Army has the "Warrior Leader Course" that every sergeant is expected to attend, whether they may lead troops in combat, or are expected to direct combat dishwashing and food service. I also don't think of people miles from the front who push buttons as warriors, even if the button-pushing results in death to an enemy.) My battalion met at Fort Gordon with other battalions from the 100th Division, and we have done classroom training, medical exams, PT Tests, and weapon qualification over the course of the last three and a half days. During our final formation of the day yesterday, division coins were handed out to soldiers who had excelled in one of several different areas.

The awardees had all marched to the front of the formation together, but after all of them were awarded, someone realized a soldier had been neglected. We are a training command, and so are mostly composed of senior NCOs. When they called the troop's name, the man who stiffly ran out was definitely one of the most senior, in age, if not in rank. He trotted out like a game old dog, and ran to the end of the line of award recipients.

The general was obviously exchanging a few words with each soldier she was awarding, but none of what was said was audible from where I stood in formation. The old sergeant was being awarded for hitting 38 out of 40 popup targets, at distances ranging from 50 to 300 meters. Since the sergeant was at the far left of the line, I could hear just a few words the general said to this old rifle expert, after he had replied to her initial comments.
"Poaching? Poaching people?"

Rock on, sergeant.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


My Army Reserve Unit is having an exercise. It began yesterday afternoon at 1500. I took the PT test today, for the first time since 2006. I seemed to have the onset of a cold just in time for the test, but forced about half a gallon of water after I got home yesterday before I left the house at 3:50 this morning.

I then managed to spend forever wandering around Fort Gordon, starting with the gate guy giving me completely incorrect directions to where I wanted to go. After I finally found the "quarter mile track at Barton Field", I waited for 15 minutes before realizing I must still be at the wrong place, since no-one from my unit was showing up. It seems there are actually three quarter mile tracks.

I hurriedly did my pushups, waited a minute and a half, and did my situps, before the run started about two minutes later.

I scored a 237. Not super, but not the worst I've done.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring Break, Terminate

Spring Break has ended for me. A time in which I did very little of the schoolwork I had planned, and a lot of things I enjoy. Like ironing lots of laundry. Even undershirts. And vacuuming every other day. Okay, maybe it was every day, but just the high-traffic areas. Most of the time. And having a friend or two over at night to share a walk or a cigar on the porch and talk.
As much as the spawn of Satan I teach must surely dread coming back, I am sure I dread it more.

זה יהיה גם לעבור

Sunday, April 12, 2009

MeMeMeMeMe Films

Here's a quick meme for you on a favorite subject of mine. On another day, answers would probably be different. Play if you like, and kudos if you can figure out which actor stars in three of these movies.

Action: The Replacement Killers
Comedy: Role Models
Crime: We Own the Night
Drama: Inside Man
Football: Varsity Blues
Historical Fiction: Braveheart
Horror: The Orphanage
Romance: Music and Lyrics
Science Fiction: Deja Vu
Super Hero: Iron Man
Tactical Fantasy*: Underworld
Western: The Outlaw Josey Wales

Bonus (will fit into at least one previously mentioned category, but it's just one of my favorite movies): Man on Fire

*Tactical Fantasy is what I call the genre that has horrific characters, but in which the focus is on the ability of the protagonists to combat and perhaps successfully defeat the threat. It is different than pure horror in that the there is at least a decent chance that the good (or better) guys win, and on weapons and tactics. Examples include Underworld , Blade, and The Mummy. Any movie in which there is no chance the good guys can ultimately win (Event Horizon, Silent Hill) does not fall into this category.

Friday, April 10, 2009

On the Death of Common Courtesy

I called into customer care a few days ago, and promptly gave my first and last names. Now, I could only call my CCR by his first name, since that's all he gave me. One thing that gets me steamed, though, is being called by my first name by someone who has just begun interacting with me on a business level. Frickin' boor.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

U.S. vs. Pirates

The Maersk Alabama, a U.S.-flagged merchant vessel, was seized by pirates off Somalia today. According to a U.S. official, the crew has retaken the vessel.

One pirate is reportedly being held, and the rest are in the water. If so~ good for Maersk.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More Lies and Damned Lies

Fox News tends to be rather strident, but using a high-school level of rigor in their research*, they find that about 83% of weapons seized in Mexico do not originate in the U.S.

Here's why: of the weapons seized by Mexican authorities, the information of only about 1/3 of the weapons seized are submitted to the U.S. for tracing. ALL U.S. firearms are clearly marked and have a serial number. If there are no markings, there is no point submitting the weapon for tracing, since it obviously did not come from the U.S. Of the information submitted to the U.S. less than half could be traced. Of the ones successfully traced, 90% came from the U.S.- but the total amount of guns seized traced to the U.S. is only about 17% of the total amount of weapons.

Story here.

*meaning U.S. political mouthpieces either can't do 8th-grader research or are deliberately lying.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Seek Cover

Seek Cover will be a blog with a strict focus on military arms, tactics, and history. Readers can expect link-heavy posts that will let them find more information instantly, or just get my summary. The first post, about the Alvis FV 601 Saladin, is up.


The first day of spring break is here.
The day has dawned slightly cool, gloriously bright, and clear.

Thurber illustration of the Longfellow poem, graciously found by Claire:

Thursday, April 2, 2009


It does not matter how good our conversation or how much I'm enjoying the evening: I do not want a second cigar.

I Roux the Day

Yesterday I spent a seemingly interminable time at a local Super Wal-Mart. When did Wal-Mart stop having the lowest prices on things? It seems that many food items (especially those with generics available) can now be bought for less at Kroger. In any case, I bought some food items in addition to kitty litter and other dry goods.

After I finally reached the house, I cooked three bean soup with black, kidney, and navy beans, bacon, onion, and jalapenos. To the large crock pot, I added:

five cups water
two pounds of chicken
1 pound sausage
ten jalapenos
1 1/2 onion
1 bell pepper
2 cans of tomatoes (1 can cubed, 1 can stewed)
six chicken bullion cubes

after several hours on high heat, I added two cups of rice, and spices. I turned all the way down to warm before getting my three hours of sleep.

I just had some stew for breakfast. Mmm, mmm! Good.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Summer Glau and I

I feel like a bit of a geek for finding humor in this. But still...

Auto Response On

Google has built a new functionality to reduce the amount of interaction required to respond intelligently to emails. Stay in touch, less and more often.