Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Truth About Love

No, not over-sharing.  This is the title of Pink's album, which came out in September 2012, shortly before I left Afghanistan. I bought it instantly via download from Amazon.

Pink's last album, Funhouse, was a masterpiece, full of wit and rock, innovative and thorough in exploring themes ranging from rejection by your significant other ("So What" and "I Don't Believe You") to hardcore party-girl wondering how to cope with life without social lubricants ("Sober") to dealing with high-emotion relationships ("Please Don't Leave Me") and wondering at the confusion and crisis of modern life ("Ave Maria").  Even her slow Aerosmith-flavored "Mean" with Steven Tyler backing her up- my least favorite song on the album- isn't bad.  I would call Funhouse a very solid and enjoyable 4/5 stars.

After that last terrific album, I expected The Truth About Love to be, even if not as incredibly good, at least very strong.  I was disappointed.  The Truth About Love has a something of a funky 60-era sound, but the songs don't seem as clever or well-written as previous Pink offerings, and they certainly don't flow as well.  Here's an example comparing the first single from The Truth About Love to "Funhouse".

"Blow Me (One Last Kiss)"

You think I'm just too serious
I think you're full of s*
My head is spinning, so
Blow me one last kiss
Just when it can't get worse, I've had a s* day
Have you had a s* day? We've had a s* day
I think that life's too short for this, I want my ignorance and bliss
I think I've had enough of this, blow me one last kiss.

Compare the writing to that of Funhouse's title track:

Echoes knocking on locked doors
All the laughter from before
I'd rather live out on the street
Than in this haunted memory

I've called the movers
Called the maids
We'll try to exorcise this place
Drag my mattress to the yard
Crumble tumble house of cards

This used to be a funhouse
But now it's full of evil clowns
It's time to start the countdown
I'm gonna burn it down down down
I'm gonna burn it down

The Truth About Love's songs range from okay ("Here Comes the Weekend", "Beam Me Up") to mediocre (""Walk of Shame") to the outright annoying, nails-on-chalkboard "songs" like "Slut Like You" and "Are We All We Are".

If I had to do it again, instead of buying the entire album, I would just download the bluesy, gospel-influenced "The Great Escape", and put it on repeat.  Unless you are an absolute incredible fan of Pink, I would skip the rest.  If you haven't listened to any Pink, I strongly suggest Funhouse, which is what Pink should sound like.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Life is filled with so many things.  In the grand scheme, most of these things really aren't very important at all. Since I've been home, I have occasionally let the minor things annoy me in a major way.  At such times, walks, yoga or other exercise, or just stepping back and realizing that what I've let spin me up is actually pretty damn minor helps.

Happy Holidays, y'all.  I know there are some potential political challenges lawful gun owners face in the near future, but our country has survived worst tragedies.  We'll get through this current crisis as well.  Keep the faith.

Shooting Reviews: Sunglasses

I've been cranking out articles for Shooting Reviews fairly regularly since I've been back from Afghanistan.  The latest reviews 2 kinds of Oakleys sunglasses, and a pair each of Revision and Wiley-X.  If you read something I've written and have suggestions for improvement, please let me know: I'd appreciate the feedback.  If you enjoy something I wrote, do me a favor and take a few seconds to click on any of the advertisements on the page.  And, if there's something you'd like me to write about, drop me a line.  There's a whole lot of stuff out there, and I may not have considered what you have in mind.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Beat the drum slowly

 Four students at the University of Idaho have designed a "robot" that attaches to a drummer, carrying a full drum set that responds to a band drummer's movement. Full story on "Band Beesten" here.

Monday, December 10, 2012


The water was off for a while in the apartment today for pipe maintenance. Two things came to mind. We use a lot of water. It's easy to forget how good we in the US usually have it.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Peachy Canadian

Alcoholic drinks frequently are too sweet, taste too much like industrial cleaner, are packed with calories, or some unholy combination.  Here's a drink that isn't terrifically sweet, tastes good, and is calorically reasonable.  And it uses my "go to" whiskey.  (Amazing how much less expensive decent Canadian whiskey is than decent US whiskey.)

Peachy Canadian
12 oz Diet Canadian Club Ginger Ale
1 1/2 oz Canadian Mist Whiskey
1/2 oz Dekuyper Peachtree Schnapps

Pour half the chilled ginger ale into a tall glass.  Add whiskey and schnapps, then top with remainder of ginger ale.  Can be poured over ice, and can be garnished with mint or lime.

140 calories
14 oz at 4.9% alcohol (1.1 "standard" drinks)  

To compare, one of my decent everyday beers is the Dos Equis Amber.  A 12 oz Dos Equis Amber has 146 calories and 4.7% alcohol.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

First Glimpses

I drew up the initial designs for knives I called the Uncontrollable Shivver and the Daily Kiri in January as I sat in the frozen wastes of northern Afghanistan. I'll give a detailed write-up later, but here are some of the first examples of the Temperate Shivver and the Daily Kiri.

Shirley-Owens Temperate Shivver and Daily Kiri

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Early Winter 2012 Movies

or, Silly Movies I Have Watched.  :-)

The Expendables 2 got a recent viewing.  Bigger, sillier, still with Stallone and Dolph Lundgren and with van Damn, Schwartzenegger and Willis with more than cameo roles, and with by-god Chuck Norris.  Lots of bodies blowing apart in bloody but unrealistic splashes.  Good for what it is, which is basically live-action cartoon violence by the folks who brought in most of the male box-office take for about 15 years, plus several current action stars like Jason Statham and Terry Crews, who has been in a variety of less-serious but fun roles.

A very enjoyable 3/5 stars.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil was even sillier than The Expendables 2, but it's meant to be.  A dark comedy filled with cartoonish death, this sometimes surprisingly well-acted comedy stars  Tyler Labine and veteran Alan Tudyk (of Firefly and A Knight's Tale) as hillbillies who are taken as psychotic killers by a group of camping college students.  I'd never seen Tyler Labine in anything previously, but he is superb as a sweet-natured good ole' boy with a eidetic memory, and Tudyk is probably one of the better actors of our time.

I'm not a big fan of the horror satire genre, but this is about as good as a low-budget movie of its type can be.  Another "strong for its grade" 3/5 stars.

eGear for the Holidays

I recently picked up an eGear PICO Zipper Light. I'd heard friends talk about them, and it was an inexpensive light to try- and, hey, I like lights.  A few days later I noticed the eGear Jolt Mini USB Rechargeable Flashlightwhile at L.L. Bean.  These are both inexpensive, neat, and useful little lights for yourself or a friend or family member.  The Jolt also quickly recharges out of USB ports, so no worries about finding batteries.*  There's a quick initial review of both lights up at Shooting Reviews.
Fully charged Jolt
I would probably be remiss if I didn't mention my favorite orange-beam Photon II LED .  I have used probably 40 or more different key-chain lights, and the Photon II is still my overall favorite.  The orange combines good illumination, long battery life (over 120 hours on a single replaceable CR2032  !), and preservation of night vision.  One of these lasted me about half of my deployment (not the same Photon I started with, since I give stuff away to troops who can use them).  The Photon II is still ridiculously cheap for a quality product with a lifetime guarantee.

*The downside to rechargeable lights is that they slowly lose charge, so the Pico would be a better light stashed somewhere to only use if the power suddenly fails.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Halo: Combat Evolvedis an Xbox game that was released in November, 2001.  I saw the original HALO while I was on active duty at Fort Lewis, but wasn't interested at the time.  When an acquaintance of mine persuaded me to play in 2004, I gradually grew to enjoy, and finally, love the game.  Other HALO versions followed, with Halo 2 in 2004, the terrific Halo 3in 2007, the "interim" Halo 3: ODST in 2009, and Halo Reach in 2010.

While game play is enjoyable (except that earlier game versions gave no navigational clues, and players could waste hours wandering before finding the next exit point or objective),  the biggest draw of the series has been multi-player games.  Players can play other players on the same system, can connect two systems, or, beginning with HALO 2, can play others online through the Xbox LIVEportal.  Halo 4 does have a storyline to play through, but it seems shorter than previous games such as HALO 3 and Reach.  While graphics are very good, and sometimes excellent, HALO 4 has more of the feel of the "3 D" cartoons that have come out in recent years than HALO 3 and Reach.  The really big draw in 4 are the weapons for multiplayer use.

Most of the HALO traditional weapons such as the plasma pistol, needler, magnum, sniper rifle, and assault rifle are present.  The magnum isn't as powerful as it was in HALO CE or Reach, though it is faster now.  The assault rifle is more effective than in Reach, though it is still a short-range proposition.  HALO 4 has managed to have three different UNSC standard rifles.  The DMR is a semi-automatic scoped medium-range rifle.  It's a terrific intermediate weapon, and if you're quick and accurate, can even be used effectively at very close range.

The battle rifle is exactly as powerful as the DMR, but fires 3-shot bursts.  It is slightly less accurate than the DMR, and I find the faster rate of fire more useful against dodging enemy players.  It is a fine short to medium distance weapon.

UNSC Battle Rifle
In addition to the alien ("Covenant") weapons available in every HALO variant, there are "Forerunner" weapons that are similar to weapons in both UNSC and Covenant armories: the Suppressor is a short-range bullet hose, the Boltshot is very similar to the Covenant plasma pistol, the Light Rifle is an intermediate-range weapon with burst or single-shot abilities, the Scattershot is almost identical to the UNSC shotgun in performance and capacity, and the Binary Rifle is a long distance/anti-materiel rifle with effectiveness similar to the UNSC sniper rifle.  All of these are fairly standard.  The really fun weapons, though, are new.

The UNSC has the Railgun, a short-range thumper, the Sticky Detonator, and the SAW (one of my two favorite weapons).  The Railgun has a charge-up time like the Spartan Laser, which has returned again.  Along with the multitude of weapon options, the ability to choose different "load outs" has been brought over from Halo Reach.  Unlike Reach, which gives standard load outs to choose from, HALO 4 lets players build their own load outs.  Playing previous HALO versions online let players earn credits that were used for vanity cosmetic changes, like armor appearance.  HALO 4 does allow vanity changes, but the credits earned  from playing through various games are used for weapons and abilities.  If you have no credits, you're stuck with a basic load out, and until you earn some, will probably be pretty easy meat for players who have invested more time, and who have tailored their gear and abilities for their playing style.  Some online games also allow players to earn additional weapons and abilities in-game.  Here's a demonstration of the Railgun, Saw, and weapon drops.

There are other changes in HALO 4.  Sounds for most weapons are now extremely realistic, though I don't agree with some choices- the fuel rod cannon, a high-speed plasma launcher, sounds like a cannon when it fires, and some Covenent energy weapons sound like typewriters with 50 monkeys hitting keys at the same time (which logically makes no sense for something that shoots bolts of energy, right?).   Players can also be dropped into games that are already in progress, which  is definitely jarring to the inserted player, but this does help prevent players abandoning one side and leaving a large disparity of force.  When voting on which map to play with other players, a vote is final: your vote is locked once it's cast.  This prevents the annoyance of watching some player skip rapidly back and forth between maps until time runs out.  343 also seems to be rolling out additional scenarios to play on a weekly basis.

I like some things about HALO 4, while some changes I don't like as much.  There does appear to be less freedom given to players in some options, while there are definitely many more weapons, though many of them are very similar in function.  Any potential negatives could be forgiven, though, for a new weapon, which also is my favorite: the Incineration Cannon.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Post-Thanksgiving Thoughts

The first Thanksgiving I've had in years in my own place was pleasant, and surprisingly healthy.  Turkey breast, chipotle cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, and sweet potato casserole were enjoyed, with pumpkin rice pudding following later in the evening.  It was a good day.

Today the little guy and I planned a trip to the gun range.  We went to the WalMart in Landover Hills, MD, only to discover they had no targets, ammunition, scope bases, or even ear plugs!  We braved the Black Friday crowds for nothing.  When I tried to leave, I found the idiots at this (6210 Annapolis Road) WalMart had also closed off the end of the one-way lane, which led to shoppers laboriously threading their way through oncoming  traffic as they tried to leave the parking lot.

Fortunately, wee man and I stopped at the international foods market next door and picked up 5 kinds of hot sauce and Thai and habanero peppers.  After we made it home, we made hot sauce.  The first batch (lime juice, vinegar, Thai peppers, habanero, ginger garlic paste, and brown sugar) I let the little guy guinea pig.  I dipped a multigrain Tostito in the sauce and handed it to him.  He bit, nodded definite approval, and then darted for his water, followed immediately by more water and milk.  He's a bit of a drama queen, so I dipped my own chip in, got a hefty coating, and ate.

Wow, this is good- holy ****, that's hot!  Despite the worst WalMart ever, it was still a good day.  Maybe we can find targets and such tomorrow.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Meet Harvey

I've been back in the US for a month now.  While there are still some things I haven't figured out yet, it's great to be back.  Just a couple of days after I made it back to MD, a local friend had me over for dinner.

A week later, that friend found out he had a rapid form of cancer that was well past any point of fighting.  He lasted about 10 days.  Life is short.

I went to Georgia for a week to see friends.  There was a LOT of driving done, but it was completely worth it.  Here are a few pictures from the trip.

This is Harvey, the most sweetly stupid dog I've ever met.  He doesn't seem to know his own name.

This is my good buddy Davis, with Roger.

This is a picture of an oak that has grown around an iron fence at the University of Georgia, in Athens.  I just thought it was odd enough to take a picture.

We used our last day in Georgia to take a quick hike up Stone Mountain.  The walk brought back a lot of memories, fortunately, mostly good ones.

The trip included a visit to Statesboro.  I hadn't been to Statesboro for a while, since before Star died.  It's amazing how much a part of our lives dogs can become, but we are pack.  As independent as some of us would like to believe we are, the truth is that we are social creatures, and our lives are ultimately much more enriched by good friends and family.  I'm lucky to have some of both.

Friday, September 28, 2012

More Dust Under My Feet

I am preparing to leave Camp Dwyer tomorrow after about three months here.  It's a bittersweet feeling.  Here I had my most rewarding work experiences in Afghanistan, having a defined mission that I could attack, and see measurable progress.  It was a pleasant change to the political nonsense, ambiguous directives, and complete lack of organizational support I've experienced most of this deployment.  I've also had the pleasure of working with Master Sergeant Hall, an industrious, polite, thorough senior NCO.  Her sense of humor and  innovative ideas have really enlivened the last two months, especially.

MSG Hall and me.  Yes, I'm standing on something.

At the same time, Camp Dwyer also has had its downsides, with bullying camp leadership that regularly overstepped their boundaries, and did their best to avoid taking responsibility for what happened on their base.  I also had to deal with the issues that followed from having a, shall we say, reality challenged team member on the ground here for a while.

Whether I loved it or hated it, seasons change.  The mornings have been pleasantly cool, and the days have been growing shorter.  Soon I will be back in the United States, a year older and hopefully at least a little wiser- but definitely thankful to be home.

ODSY, July 2012
ODSY, Sept 2012

Thursday, August 9, 2012

You are now connected to Anurag C from

In retrospect, I'm wondering if giving the initial rep who chatted with me a quick summary of the root cause of the problem was the best choice...

You are now connected to Anurag C from
Me:Your website is automatically blocking my purchase of Pelican Products 1055CC HardBack Case with Computer Liner (1055-003-110) because it has the word "computer" in it.
Even though I am attempting to purchase a _case_ which is in no way a restricted item.
Anurag C:Hello, my name is Anurag. I'll be happy to help you today.
Anurag C:Could you please let me know the error message being displayed?
Me:The error is that I cannot send this *case* to an APO/FPO because it has the word "computer" in the description, and Amazon has not specifically set limitations on the appropriate items.
Anurag C:Most items can be shipped to APO, FPO, and DPO addresses, with a few exceptions. The restrictions for these addresses are listed in our Help pages:
Me:In other words, Amazon has automatically set an product description that includes the word "computer" to automatically not allow shipping to military addresses.
Anurag C:If we're unable to ship an item to the address selected, you'll see a message about that while placing the order.
Me:I **know** what the exceptions are.
Again, I know this.
You *are* able to ship. Amazon has incorrectly configured their website.
There are no restrictions on cases, which is what the product I am attempting to purchase is.
Anurag C:John, shipping of an item to a particular destination depends on Warranty and legal restrictions.
Me:Mr. C, I know this.
Don't waste my time.
I told you what the problem is.
You don't understand my description of the problem, so now you're babbling.
Anurag C:I apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced as a result of our policy that restricts the shipment of certain items to APO/FPO addresses.
Me:That is not why I have experienced a problem.
Anurag C:We hold all U.S. military personnel in high regard. Many employees are former military or dependents ourselves, and we personally know how difficult it can be to be stationed away from home.
Me:I have experienced a problem as a result of incorrect coding on the website.
The problem is your website.
Anurag C:Unfortunately, we are not able to ship all products offered at to APO/FPO addresses.
Me:You're repeating yourself, and not listening.
The reason is not letting me ship to my FPO, is that it is reading what I am attempting to purchase as a computer part.
I am NOT purchasing a computer part.
Anurag C:No, John. That isn't the case.
Me:Stop calling me by my first name. I don't know you. You're not family, and you're definitely not my friend.
I, in fact, am trying to purchase a case.
The site thinks I am trying to purchase a computer part, which *would* be a restricted item.
(as would lithium batteries, etc, etc)
Anurag C:I'm so sorry, but we can't offer any additional insight or action on this matter.
Is there anything else I can help you with?
Me:Yes. You can advise Amazon that the hard case I am attempting to purchase is coded as a computer part, which it is not.
Further, you can have your supervisor contact me soonest.
Anurag C:Please allow me a minute while I transfer this chat to my supervisor.
Me:Thank you.
A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.
You are now connected to Akhil from
Akhil:Hello I'm Akhil, the floor supervisor.
Me:Good evening, sir.
Akhil:Good evening, sir.
Could you please be on hold for a minute or two while I look into your previous conversation with us.
Me:Sure, or I could quickly bring you up to speed.
I am attempting to purchase a hard case.
Me:It seems the website is configured so anything with the word "computer" in the description is automatically not allowed to ship to APO/FPO addresses.
What I am attempting to purchase is a hard case to HOLD a computer, but being no part of a computer, and not electronic in any way, it is not a controlled item.
This is an error on the website programmer's part.
Akhil:Please allow me minute or two while I look into this.
Me:Sure, thank you.
Akhil:Thank you for being on hold. I understand that you were trying place an order for the Pelican Hardback Case. I see that you are trying to ship it to an FPO address. I'm really sorry that the our system isn't allowing you to place this order to the FPO address.

Me:Can you help?

Akhil:Currently, the only thing that I can do is to report this to our specialist team and see if this item can be shipped to FPO addresses.

Me:Okay, that would be a start.
It could be a mistake on just how this item is coded, but I'm afraid it's a system-wide error on Amazon's site.

Akhil:If that is the case, I'm sure we will be definitely make the necessary changes if a glitch is found. But for that it takes some time for the specialist team to look into this. So, I will definitely report this to our team and follow up. I will send you a mail once they get back to me.
Me:I appreciate it. Thanks for listening better than "Mr. C" and have a pleasant evening.

Akhil:You're welcome. Thank you for contacting Amazon. We look forward to see you again soon.

So many common customer care problems in a nutshell: assuming you understand the problem, assuming the customer doesn't, not bothering to pay enough attention, trying to dump the customer without actually making a real effort to resolve the problem,  patronizing the customer...if "Anurag C" had directly insulted me and then disconnected, he would have succeeded in actually doing pretty much everything wrong.  As it is, Amazon is set to lose quite a bit of money needlessly if they don't pay attention to customers like me.  I'm fairly sure Amazon set up a system default to not allow anything that includes the word "computer" in the description to ship to APO/FPO addresses.  Hey, it's their money to lose, right?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Take a Little Trip, Take a Little Trip

I have not been much of a fan of the V-22 Osprey.  You can read more about why here.  At first, I did not want to ride the tilt-rotor craft, wanting instead to ride the powerful, sturdy CH-53.  After giving it some thought, I realized that, despite the design being an invitation for Murphy to meddle, the Ospreys in RC South didn't seem to be dropping out of the skies with any regularity.

Whether I chose to deliberately ride the V-22 or not, if I want to travel "rotary", which is the only way to get to certain FOBs, the V-22 might be what's available, especially in this Regional Command, controlled as it is by Marines.  I thought a walk-through of the process might be interesting for all my readers inconvenienced by being comfortably home in the US, instead of traipsing around the CJOA*.

Unless a reservation has been entered for you several days previously, you're flying Space A.  There are challenges to moving around Afghanistan, including, frequently, no flights headed to where you want to go, fully booked flights, delays due to weather and mechanical failure, and acts of Shaitan.  Finding an available flight might make the military traveler happy enough to ask for the corporal at the rotary desk to add a smiley face to the high-tech "ticket" issued.

Service members learn being in the military involves lots of waiting followed by a few minutes of things that MUST be done immediately, usually followed by more waiting.  Waiting for a flight is almost always like this.

A book or Kindle application on your phone or tablet helps to pass the time if you want to do something besides nap or watch flights.

The V-22 ride is...interesting.  You rise mostly vertically, and then shoot forward and up very quickly.  

The light coming in from the open tail end of the Osprey really does look like that, blindingly bright.  Most of the flight that harsh light is all that can really be seen of the world outside.

Passengers are the typical mix of Marines and Soldiers, with the occasional contractor or DA civilian.  The ride is less jarring than most helicopters, but still more like riding in a blender than almost any true airplane.

You might land at a FOB or two, and the gunner provides security behind his woefully inadequate M240 7.62mm MG.  

If the fates are kind, you arrive at your destination without serious incident, grab your 150 lbs of gear, and deplane.  

I hope you're enjoyed this brief taste of riding a V-22 in theater, and thanks for flying Marine Air.

*Code for this hellhole of a country, Afghanistan.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


The weather has warmed dramatically in the last two months.  The days are hot, but the nights are often pleasant.  Between the warmer weather, and sharing with lots of new friends, I've actually gone through quite a few cigars lately.  Enough that I ordered some yesterday.

JRCigar has what they (probably honestly) claim is the largest selection of cigars in the world.  Many of them are very reasonably priced, and even nicer, they automatically deduct 10% off the price of a cigar order if it's being shipped to an APO or FPO.  I like to recognize the good guys, when I can, so I'm going to describe three cigars, ranging from really cheap to not-too-expensive, with links to those cigars at JR.

If you're looking for some good but inexpensive cigars, Maria Mancinis are a good bet.  The Magic Mountain can be had for as little as $2.40 a cigar, for an attractive, quality 6"x54 ring cigar. If you want to gift some, I have used the 8-count sampler for birthdays and special occasions for a few friends.  It's a whopping $.10 more a stick, but the cedar box makes a nice presentation. 

Moving up to an incredible cigar (my favorite, actually, though I don't smoke them often), the Romeo y Julietta Churchill is still only $3.50 a stick in the 4-pack.  This is a large, well-constructed cigar, and it's good for a nice long chat on the patio with friends on a weekend or holiday.  It's possible to pay more for a cigar, but I really don't think cigars get much better. 

On the other end of the spectrum, if you just want a cheap but pretty decent cigar for everyday smoking (or for friends who won't be able to tell the difference between good and excellent), a bundle of nicely sized Consuegras from the Dominical Republic can be had for about $1.30 a stick.  When you consider that this cigar is probably good for a minimum of 45 minutes, that's quite a bargain.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Giving Thanks

Temperature control is sometimes difficult in Afghanistan.  An air conditioning setting that may just barely keep a tent below swelteringly hot during the day may drop the tent to chillingly cool at night.  While I was staying in the huge transient tents here on Camp Marmal, I saw a few soldiers who obviously had not prepared for cold nights, and loaned them blankets.

I don't profess to be a stellar guy or anything, but I hate to see people uncomfortable, if I can reasonably help them.  If someone loaned me a blanket or sheet, I would fold it and return it with thanks, when done.  I had one soldier that not only didn't thank me, he didn't even bother to return the blanket!  He just left it crumpled on the bed when he left.  I am sorry to be associated even professionally with such people.

I now stay in a smaller tent.  About two weeks ago, there were a couple civilians who spent two or three nights there.  I walked into the tent as they were bedding down, and having just gotten some blankets back from the laundry, offered them. 

I wasn't around when these guys left, but not only were the blankets neatly folded, they left a nice note, offering their help if I'm ever in Bagram and need it.  I'd like to do things just because they're the right thing to do, but just a simple, heartfelt thanks certainly goes a long way in being happy to help.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

RIP, Adam Yauch

The Beastie Boys were misunderstood.  They played a part, and got stuck playing it for years, even though it was just a stage personna.  But it sold.

Most of us never saw the thoughtful, intelligent people behind the loud, rude boys on stage.  But they were there.  After they'd been around a while, they began to feel free to come out a little bit and be themselves.  Here's an interview with Adam Yauch from January, 1995.

Adam Yauch died yesterday, after a several-year battle with cancer.

Here are their greatest hits

This second link is the type of music many people wouldn't associate with the Beastie Boys.  If you only heard the swaggering white party boys, you should listen to this before you judge their ultimate ability- or influence.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Acts of Kindness

I like an occasional cigar, and brought a few with me from the US.  I didn't smoke any for quite a while, because I was busy during the day, and it was too cold at night.  Lately, however, the nights have been about perfect.

I returned about two weeks ago from a much-needed R&R visit to Ireland.  When I finally made it out to DDII with COL W and a DLA visitor, I found I had 3 huge boxes waiting on me.  Two were from a friend in Pennsylvania, with nice mugs and monogrammed t-shirts for the guys, as well as water bottles, stress balls, and great snacks.  The third box was a travel humidor the size of a small suitcase!

The suitcase was packed to the gills with Trader Joe's excellent dried fruits, nuts, and snacks, as well as many terrific cigars, a very nice cigar cutter, cigar accessories like travel packs to keep cigars hydrated, and a really neat Swiss Army Knife with a built-in cigar cutter.  It was an amazing collection.  And a little humbling.

I started trying to "spread the love" before I left that day, giving some cigars to two majors I know on DDII who smoke them, and also giving cigars to a sergeant and civilian who I chatted with as I waited on the chopper pad for pick up. I've also encouraged some DA (Department of the Army) civilians who are there supporting us to come by the DS "hooch" to share some good cigars with us. 

 I want to thank Five Points Bottle Shop, The Cigar Shop, Boda Pipes and Cigars, Etienne Brassiere, Franklin Gun Shop, Drew Estate / Joya De Nicaragua rep Jeff Tinnell, and several kind citizens.  Thanks also to the Athens branch of Trader Joe's.  Your kindness means a hell of a lot.

Something about the camera that took this picture makes everyone look fat- my sailor closest to the camera weighs at least 40 pounds less than he appears in the picture!  It should be obvious, though, that we're pretty darn happy.  Thanks.