Wednesday, January 31, 2007

ANOTHER Quiz and More Interiors

Via blog-buddy Morgan A short (1:37) YouTube video titled “Kitty Washing Machine.” Morgan provides this warning:

Don’t watch with cat lovers in the room. Don’t watch because…you will find yourself surprisingly unable to stop laughing. She’s your girlfriend, isn’t she? She’s known Mister Fluffy longer than you, right? Okay then DON’T CLICK. There will be other evenings you can spend on the couch later on. Sometimes domestic harmony is a good thing.

He’s right. But I don’t worry about domestic harmony any longer. So I watched. And laughed. Several times.

Whoo-eee, is this a trick question?

Choose one.
A one-night stand with a Republican, but marriage to a Democrat
A one-night stand with a Democrat, but marriage to a Republican

Hmm. I simply cannot make up my mind! But anyway…that question was towards the end of this quiz, which I also got from Morgan.

You are a

Social Moderate
(50% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(70% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

We had identical results, by the way. And I agree with the results (where I'm concerned; I can't speak for Morgan), for what that’s worth.

Meaningless Gestures Dept: Via Lileks, Zee Franch zey aour sweeching zee Tour Eiffel oaf…mais pour cinq minutes, seulement.

Even the Eiffel Tower is out to save the planet.

On Thursday evening, as scientists and officials put finishing touches on a long-awaited report about global warming, the Paris landmark will switch off its 20,000 flashing light bulbs that run up and down the tower and illuminate the French capital's skyline.

The Eiffel Tower's lights account for about 9 percent of the monument's total energy consumption of 7,000 megawatt-hours per year.

The five-minute blackout…

Five minutes. Well, that’ll help, won’t it? It’s all about the gesture! Other interesting stuff I learned at the link:

“…a new European energy policy that stresses the need to slash carbon emissions blamed for global warming, U.N. environment program spokesman Nick Nuttall said.”

What a perfect name for a guy filling a perfectly useless position. I’ll bet he’s a Brit. Whattaya think?

Today’s Pics: Just to further impress the women with what a great house I keep, two more interiors from that fabulous apartment in Webster, NY. Someday I may post the counter-point to these pics, which would be interiors of El Casa Móvil De Pennington on a typical day. Quelle horreur!!

January, 1999.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Not Everything Deserves a Title...

Now THIS is really cool: Sunrise Earth. A new layer on Google Earth, and here are the instructions on how to use the feature from within Google Earth. I’ve only watched the sunrise over Stonehenge, but that’s just because my network connection is so danged slow. Broadband. Someday. So I’m told.

Via Lex…some great plane pr0n from the Nellis AFB air show. Absolutely stunning high-res photography; so good, in fact, that I now have new wallpaper. The guy that took these photos is a pro!

Ahhhh! RP is just SO good this morning… Here’s a set that was particularly pleasing (the times are PST):

9:43 am - Pink Floyd - Money
9:40 am - Warren Zevon - Lawyers, Guns And Money
9:34 am - Ry Cooder - The Very Thing That Makes You Rich

Been peeking at my vinyl again, eh, Bill? {sigh} I wish I could take a peek, too…

A week ago today I posted a link to a longish but very thoughtful piece on the British Left by Nick Cohen. Well, The Guardian (UK) got a huge response, and I quote:

Last week, we printed an extract from Nick Cohen's provocative new book, What's Left?, a searing account of how the British liberal-left has lost its way and, in the process, turned a blind eye to Islamic fascism. Cohen's piece sparked a huge response both online and in print.

And they proceed to publish some of that response plus comment in other venues, such as this:

Christopher Hitchens
The Sunday Times

'An exemplary piece of political satire, in which the generally amusing and ironic tone should not lull you into ignoring the deadly seriousness of the argument. It is not necessary to have a personal stake in a discussion like this, but it does help. Cohen started out trying to defend the honour of the left and attempting to appeal to its better traditions. He swiftly found that this made him the target of the most hysterical slander, from people whose hatred of liberal democracy has a long and sordid ancestry. He then lowered his head, clenched his teeth, steered into the storm and embarked on the toughest struggle an old leftist can ever undertake: a confrontation with former comrades who suspect him of "selling out"... Cohen's is an admirable example of self-criticism and self-examination, using intellectual honesty as a means of illuminating a much wider canvas.

Hitch knows all about “confrontation with former comrades who suspect him of "selling out".” His whole life has been like that for the past six years or so. I’m somewhat familiar with this phenomenon, as well, but on a much reduced scale, of course. Changing your political stripes can be both painful and exhilarating. I suspect Mr. Cohen is finding that out, too.

After you read the reactions of Cohen’s critics in The Guardian, you might want to go over and read what Norm Geras has to say on the subject. Excerpt:

A final point. One confirmation of the fact that Nick Cohen's target is a real one wider than the SWP, is the intense hostility there has been, way beyond that organization, towards the pro-war left. Dip into any relevant comments thread on the Guardian's Comment is Free for a dose of such poison; note that there is a mini-industry in the blogosphere obsessed (some of its denizens to the point of appearing half-crazed) with those they contemptuously call 'the decents'; give some time, if you can bear it, to re-reading through the comment and opinion pages of the liberal press for the last four years. That you were of the left and supported regime change in Iraq has just been unthinkable, unassimilable, for many - hence the hostility and the anathemas. It could not be that there was a difficult issue and a difficult choice, with weighty reasons on both sides. If, on the other hand, you consider what volume of critical animus and commentary has been directed from the same quarters at the rank apologists in the anti-war movement, you'll find that it pales by comparison.

What he said.

Today’s Pic: Apropos of something… I noticed this small detail in the picture to the right while browsing my photo directories for today’s suitable upload. That song played on RP at 0934 hrs (PST), “The Very Thing…?” Well it just might have been playing when this pic was snapped. That’s the cover of “Bop ‘Til You Drop” propped up on the top shelf of the stereo cabinet. I’m really missing the vinyl today. Really.

Photo: January, 1999. Webster, NY.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Hitch, Lieberman, and Various Idjits

Found during my miscellaneous internet ramblings yesterday:

The Hitchens CV

The Life
Born in Portsmouth 13 April 1949; read philosophy, politics and economics at Balliol College, Oxford. Twice married, and a father of three. Now lives in Washington DC.

The Work
Journalistic career includes New Statesman and Daily Express in London, American correspondent for the Spectator and Times Literary Supplement and Vanity Fair columnist. Prolific writer for many publications. Books include Why Orwell Matters and The Trial of Henry Kissinger. Lists recreations as reading, travel, smoking, drinking and disputation.

No wonder I like the guy—we have the same hobbies!

Yet another reason:

For aficionados of what used so tritely to be called “the New Journalism”, there are only two kinds of people. There are those who have had the experience of a night at Owl Farm, at Woody Creek on the outskirts of Aspen, Colorado, and shared with “Dr” Thompson the cocktail of Chivas Regal, early-hours, high-velocity target-practice, late-night round-the-world telephone calls and associated diversions, and those who have not. I can proudly claim to have done it twice, but for Steadman such soirees were almost an oasis of tranquillity. For him, the really testing and formative experience was that of going on the road with this maniac, to Las Vegas or perhaps to the Congo in 1974 for the Ali-Foreman fight, and enduring the resulting mood swings and clashes with local authorities while learning over a crackling phone line that the magazine that was supposedly underwriting the venture had just declared bankruptcy.

The above is from “Going, going, Gonzo...” a review of Ralph Steadman’s biography of HST, in the book section of The Sunday Times (UK). The referenced book review is less a review of the book Steadman wrote and more of a commentary on/about Hunter, who was once in the “A” rank of my heroes. That was oh-so-long ago, or as Dylan sang “‘Twas in another lifetime; one of toil and blood…” Still and even, I’m more envious of Hitchens now. He partied with HST and lived to tell about it. Twice, even.

Now, I can take or leave Mr. Steadman. Hitchens claims Steadman’s cartoons illustrations are an integral part of the Hunter Thompson experience; I think not. If my appreciation of Hitchens is raised by the fact he partied with HST, then I should respect and admire Steadman, eh? After all, Steadman went on the road with HST. Often. I’ve been on the road with some wild men (and women) too, and I understand crazed behavior far from home. But none of my partners-in-crime even began to approach Thompson’s bad craziness. Not even close. So, OK, Ralph. You have my respect.

Hmmm. Now there’s an object lesson in rambling…Hitchens to Thompson to Steadman. And I haven’t even been drinking! Sorry about that.

THIS is interesting:

WALLACE: Let's look ahead to 2008. Are there any Democrats who appear to be running at this point that you could support for president?

LIEBERMAN: Are there any Democrats who don't appear to be running at this point? Look, I've had a very political couple of years in Connecticut, and I'm stepping back for a while to concentrate on being the best senator I can be for my state and my country.

I'm also an Independent-Democrat now, and I'm going to do what most Independents and a lot of Democrats and Republicans in America do, which is to take a look at all the candidates and then in the end, regardless of party, decide who I think will be best for the future of our country.

So I'm open to supporting a Democrat, Republican or even an Independent, if there's a strong one. Stay tuned.

WALLACE: But looking at the three frontrunners -- Clinton, Obama, Edwards -- all of them in varying degrees expressing their opposition to the war and wanting to end our involvement there -- could you support any presidential candidate who you didn't feel was committed to victory in Iraq?

LIEBERMAN: Well, you make a decision based on a whole range of issues. But obviously, the positions that some candidates have taken in Iraq troubles me. Obviously, I will be looking at what positions they take in the larger war against Islamist terrorism.

Here's where I am and maybe why it's -- I am genuinely an Independent. I agree more often than not with Democrats on domestic policy. I agree more often than not with Republicans on foreign and defense policy. I'm an Independent.

He doesn’t come right out and say it, as in “I cannot support any of the three candidates you’ve named,” yet there’s no doubt in the minds of any viewer that’s exactly what he means. Earlier in the interview Lieberman described himself as a “Truman, JFK, Scoop Jackson, and Clinton Democrat.” Well, three out of four ain’t bad, I suppose. I really do like Lieberman, and I sincerely wish there were more congresscritters like him.

The conversation took place yesterday, on Fox News Sunday.

Pictures of Saturday’s demonstration in D.C. Here. “Oh, Ladies and Gentlemen! The HUMANITY!” Sheesh. (h/t: Greyhawk at Milblogs)

I neglected to post about this event last week, even though it caught my eye, and even though I watched the organization’s debut press briefing on C-SPAN. What event, you ask? The announcement of the formation of the Climate Action Partnership:

USCAP is a new alliance of major businesses and leading climate and environmental groups that have come together to call on the federal government to enact legislation requiring significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

After a year of dialogue and collaboration, the group produced a set of principles and recommendations to guide the formulation of a regulated economy-wide, market-driven approach to climate protection.

This unique alliance includes a number of major corporations: Alcoa, BP America, Caterpillar Inc., Duke Energy, DuPont, FPL Group, General Electric, Lehman Brothers, PG&E Corporation and PNM Resources — and four non-governmental organizations including: Environmental Defense, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pew Center on Global Climate Change and World Resources Institute.

The group believes that swift legislative action on the USCAP solutions-based proposal, entitled A Call for Action, would encourage innovation, enhance America's energy security, foster economic growth, improve our balance of trade and provide critically needed U.S. leadership on this vital global challenge.

Leave it to the WSJ to uncover the reality behind the propaganda blitz:

Democrats want to flog the global warming theme through 2008 and they'll take what help they can get, even if it means cozying up to executives whose goal is to enrich their firms. Right now, the corporate giants calling for a mandatory carbon cap serve too useful a political purpose for anyone to delve into their baser motives.

The Climate Action Partnership, a group of 10 major companies that made headlines this week with its call for a national limit on carbon dioxide emissions, would surely feign shock at such an accusation. After all, their plea was carefully timed to coincide with President Bush's State of the Union capitulation on global warming, and it had the desired PR effect. The media dutifully declared that "even" business now recognized the climate threat. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who begins marathon hearings on warming next week, lauded the corporate angels for thinking of the "common good."


Four of the affiliates--Duke, PG&E, FPL and PNM Resources--are utilities that have made big bets on wind, hydroelectric and nuclear power. So a Kyoto program would reward them for simply enacting their business plan, and simultaneously sock it to their competitors. Duke also owns Cinergy, which relies heavily on dirty, CO2-emitting coal plants. But Cinergy will soon have to replace those plants with cleaner equipment. Under a Kyoto, it'll get paid for its trouble.


Finally, there's General Electric, whose CEO Jeffrey Immelt these days spends as much time in Washington as Connecticut. GE makes all the solar equipment and wind turbines (at $2 million a pop) that utilities would have to buy under a climate regime. GE's revenue from environmental products long ago passed the $10 billion mark, and it doesn't take much "ecomagination" to see why Mr. Immelt is leading the pack of climate profiteers.

You really had to see the press conference to appreciate the irony of it all. I’m no business-basher, and I consider government over-regulation and intervention in the market to be a major problem in American society. On the other hand, a bald and cynical attempt to manipulate the legislative process to your benefit and your competitors’ detriment irritates the Hell out of me. Especially when said cynical manipulation involves embracing disputed science, and most especially when it means pandering to, and collaborating with, the eco-nuts. And those eco-nuts at Environmental Defense, et al, are just as bad, if not worse. They’ve spent the last ten years or more bashing corporate America for its greed, rapine business practices, yadda, yadda, yadda, and now they’re partnering with the same folks they bashed just last month (or so). Ah, but I guess the end justifies the means, eh?

For shame.

Today’s Pic: Already posted in the update to yesterday’s post.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Chilly Overcast Sort of Sunday...

So. Didja watch any of the anti-war stuff on C-SPAN? The demonstration, that is. I didn’t. I did switch channels and went there, but only briefly. Some idjit in a kaffiya was haranguing the crowd, and I mean haranguing… yelling, waving his hands in the air … and I thought “No. Not today.” The Weather Channel was much more appealing. More useful, too.

Here’s Scott Ott’s take on the event:

D.C Rally Demands Iraq War End, Better Celebrities

(2007-01-27) — Tens of thousands of protesters will rally today on the mall in Washington D.C. to call on President George Bush to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq, and to demand better celebrity spokesmen for their cause.

Celebrities slated to speak at the rally include Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, Danny Glover and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Three of them have made careers out of pretending to be someone they’re not, while Ms. Fonda is best known as the daughter of actor Henry Fonda.

Organizers said the biggest challenge facing the anti-war movement today is how to hold together a loose coalition of groups with divergent agendas using celebrities who peaked in popularity 10 to 30 years ago.

Of course there’s more!

And while we’re on about people who were mildly famous 30 years ago: She’s baaack! And hanging with the same sort of folks she used to, back in the day:

Before the march, Fonda spoke briefly to a few hundred people at the Navy Memorial. The event was sponsored by Code Pink, an antiwar group started by women.


She was one of the last people to speak at the midday rally. As she waited for her cue, she chatted with Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). She shook hands with the Raging Grannies, a group of senior citizens who sang onstage, while the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sean Penn and actor-couple Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins milled about nearby.

Some people never learn…

John Hinderaker at Powerline posts one of his reader’s comments about these demonstrations and their impact on the “Arab street:”

A reader who is training as an intelligence analyst writes:

[A]s a spook-in-training, I am studying Arabic, inter alia, and spend more time than I would like watching Arabic TV, and this protest -- and good ole Jane Fonda, sans the AA artillery prop -- are all over the news. Expectations of American withdrawal from, and thus defeat in Iraq, are running high, and I cannot say I blame the Arabs for thinking retreat is imminent. Many Americans, including Republicans, are talking and acting as if surrender is near, and that an American loss in Iraq is a good and honorable thing. I fear that it will not be long before we do retreat and all the sacrifices will be for naught. Jane Fonda has the dubious distinction, along with the media and many Democrats, of giving aid and comfort to our enemies and bringing about American defeat in two wars.

Not yet, though. Not yet.

John also links to a first-hand account of the demonstration from someone who was there. The account is very well-written and features excellent observations.

This is good news…if it’s true. From The Observer (UK)

Iran's efforts to produce highly enriched uranium, the material used to make nuclear bombs, are in chaos and the country is still years from mastering the required technology.

Iran's uranium enrichment programme has been plagued by constant technical problems, lack of access to outside technology and knowhow, and a failure to master the complex production-engineering processes involved.


Despite Iran being presented as an urgent threat to nuclear non-proliferation and regional and world peace - in particular by an increasingly bellicose Israel and its closest ally, the US - a number of Western diplomats and technical experts close to the Iranian programme have told The Observer it is archaic, prone to breakdown and lacks the materials for industrial-scale production.

There are “a number of Western diplomats and technical experts close to the Iranian programme?” Really? This statement flies in the face of received wisdom, which is: we don’t know what the Hell is going on there. We’re not even sure where all the facilities are located, let alone know of any “technical experts” close to the program.

Accurate and comprehensive intelligence is critical for the development of good policy. There is a great deal about Iran that we do not know. It would be irresponsible to list the specific intelligence gaps in an unclassified paper, as identifying our specific shortcomings would provide critical insights to the Iranian government. Suffice it to say, however, that the United States lacks critical information needed for analysts to make many of their judgments with confidence about Iran and there are many significant information gaps. A special concern is major gaps in our knowledge of Iranian nuclear, biological, and chemical programs. US policymakers and intelligence officials believe, without exception, that the United States must collect more and better intelligence on a wide range of Iranian issues –its political dynamics, economic health, support for terrorism, the nature of its involvement in Iraq, the status of its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons efforts, and many more topics of interest. The national security community must dedicate the personnel and resources necessary to better assess Iran's plans, capabilities and intentions, and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) must identify, establish, and report on intelligence goals and performance metrics to measure progress on critical fronts.

That’s from an unclassified report drafted by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last August. And The Observer can identify “technical experts” the House Intelligence Committee can’t? Uh, OK.

And then there’s this:

VIENNA (Reuters) -

Iran has demanded the removal of the U.N. official overseeing nuclear inspections in the country, accusing him of breach of trust, and barred all inspectors from nations behind sanctions, diplomats said on Friday.

Tehran's moves, following a ban on 38 inspectors from four major Western nations announced on Monday, appeared aimed at testing Western resolve over its disputed nuclear activity while stopping short of violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Hmmm. Tehran is “inspector shopping” and delaying IAEA inspections. Perhaps the Iranians don’t want the West to know their program is in disarray and is failing. On the other hand, perhaps they have something much more insidious to hide. I want to believe the Iranian nuclear program is in disarray. But somehow I just can’t.

Today’s Pic: A family picture, of sorts. SN1’s Commissioning Day, whereby his brother swore him in as an officer in the United States Air Force. I don’t have a good picture of SN2 administering the oath to SN1…one had to preserve the dignity of the ceremony. And that means the dais can’t be overrun by proud moms and dads wanting to get a “good shot.” From left to right: SN2, The First Mrs. Pennington, SN1, and grandson Sean. May 6, 2000. Omaha, NE

Update, 01/29/2007: Bec, in the comments, said she wished there was a pic of me at this celebration. Well, since we're all about customer service here at EIP...

Living proof about that guy not in uniform: "you can dress 'em up, but you can't ____." (you fill in the blank).

Saturday, January 27, 2007

It's the Weekend! Again!

So. Big protest anti-war demonstration on The Mall in D.C. today. Curiously enough, there’s nothing on the WaPo’s web page this morning about the demonstration, and only a small article in the NYT. Could it be that both of these august institutions want to avoid being associated with the usual suspects?
Confirmed speakers: Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Jane Fonda, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Reps. Kucinich, Waters, and Woolsey, Bob Watada, and more… (from the “United for Peace and Justice” web site)
Kucinich, Waters, and Woolsey…the Three Stooges of the House. And speaking of Kucinich, didn’t I see him “on the aisle” at the SotU? Smiling and shaking Dubya’s hand, vigorously? Why yes, I think I did! (even though I looked for, but can’t find, photographic proof) The rest of the usual suspects need no comment…their résumés speak for themselves. If you really must, C-SPAN will cover the demonstration, beginning at 1100 hrs, EST. I might drop in for a bit…and I might not. Depends on what my moonbat tolerance level is at that time.
Speaking of C-SPAN… The public affairs channel is also broadcasting parts of the “Conservative Summit” being hosted by National Review in Washington this weekend. I watched a panel discussion between Kate O'Beirne, Kathryn Lopez, Michelle Malkin, Mona Charen, and Laura Ingraham last evening. Here’s Paul Mirengoff on a small portion of this panel discussion:
Michelle reported that her trip to Iraq had failed to confirm the pessimism she was starting to feel. She found strong support for the war among the troops she met who, she said, are not ready to come home yet. Everyone agreed that President Bush has done a very poor job of explaining and defending the war. Lopez asked Michelle what the new media can do on this front. Michelle responded, pay more attention to military bloggers.
Emphasis mine, and to that I’ll say: Ah, but we’ve known all of that all along, haven’t we? “We” being those of us who read milblogs.
Very interesting, to say the least… especially the Q&A session following the discussion. There appears to be quite a few dissatisfied conservatives out there, and their dissatisfaction runs the gamut from “too soft on immigration” to a perceived lack of leadership in the congress and all points in between. Ragnar Danneskjold is attending the event and blogging about it at The Jawa Report. And there’s more at The Corner, of course.
Here’s an interesting (and contrarian) point of view about saving for retirement: “Save Less, Retire with Enough.” I’m not sure I buy into the points being made in this article, but one quote struck me as reasonable:
The economists answer that people would get more out of their money by using it when they are younger. “There is risk in saving too much,” Mr. Kotlikoff said. “You could end up squandering your youth rather than your money.”
The whole key is saving enough. Save too little and you wind up saying “Welcome to Wal-Mart!” 45 times an hour to perfect strangers who don’t even see you. Or worse. On the other hand, advice like this is silly:
The starting point for most retirement plans is the so-called replacement rate. It says an American needs an annual income in retirement equal to 75 percent to 86 percent of what he or she earned in the final year of employment. Someone making $100,000 would typically plan for about $85,000 a year in retirement.
Coupling that with a second industry rule of thumb that says retirees should spend no more than about 4 percent of their assets each year to make them last, a typical couple with that level of income should enter retirement with at least $2.1 million in assets, including 401(k)s, I.R.A.’s, stocks and bonds, real estate, cash value life insurance, pensions and Social Security benefits.
Show me an “average” American who goes into retirement with $2.1 million in assets, the key word being “average,” of course. It’s not impossible, especially given the appreciation in real estate values we’ve seen of late, but I submit it’s highly improbable. And as for needing $85K annually in retirement if you made $100K while you were working? I was fortunate enough to be in that income bracket while I was working, yet I’m surviving quite nicely on $24K annually in pensions, plus 401K withdrawals. And a significant portion of that income goes to child-support and alimony. I won’t say how much I withdraw from my 401K annually, but it’s much less than my combined pension income. Then again, I ain’t living in a condo in Miami, either, but I am content.
I’ve had my moments of angst about having “enough,” especially after watching my father get totally wiped out during his three-year, end-of-life, losing war with cancer. That sort of thing makes one think. I’m fond of saying I’d take the 9 mm cure if push came to shove, but that just might be so much hot air. The will to live is strong.
I’m loath to mention this, lest I fall off the wagon. {sigh} But…here goes: I’ve been cigarette-free for three days now, and I haven’t broken into the cigar stash, either. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve tried to quit; my personal best is abstaining for three months back in the late ‘80s. The acid test, and one that I failed at the end of that three-month run, is spending a night at the bar without smoking. Beer and cigarettes: like love and marriage. One could say that about coffee and cigarettes, too, but so far I’ve beaten that one back. And I don’t even feel like killing anyone. Yet.
Blogroll additions… Dunno why I took so long to add frequent commenter Mike to the blogroll, but I finally got around to it. There are two more additions, as well, and both are from the “Senior Service.” Steeljaw Scribe, a retired naval aviator, writes some great stuff. His regular Friday attraction, “Flightdeck Friday,” features wonderful, extremely well-researched historical articles about naval aviation. The other addition is Chapomatic, who writes some very interesting pieces on things naval and military…most often concerning strategy.
Today’s Pic: This, my friends, is the tiny little two-bedroom house I rented during my stay in Westby, Montana*. By tiny, I mean less than 1,000 square feet, and more like 800. My landlord offered to sell me this house for the princely sum of $5,000.00 US, in 1978. I’ve often regretted not taking him up on his offer. Believe you me, there were LOTS of great good times that went down in that house!! On the other hand, who on God’s Green Earth wants to retire in Westby? The photo was taken during the cross country trip SN2 and family and I took between Washington state and New York in June of 2000. We made a short detour off US 2 up to the Montana - Saskatchewan border. I just had to show him Westby…
* Wikipedia: As of the census of 2000, there were 172 people, 88 households, and 52 families residing in the town. Rumor had it there were 250 people living there in 1977-78, but I never counted. I could have, though.

Friday, January 26, 2007

More of the Usual Stuff...

Let's begin on a light note: purloined from Cassandra’s comments:

An old prospector walks his tired old mule into a western town one day. He'd been out in the desert for about six months without a drop of whiskey. He walked up to the first saloon he came to and tied his old mule to the hitch rail.

As he stood there brushing some of the dust from his face and clothes, a gunslinger walked out of the saloon with a gun in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other. The gunslinger looked at the old man and laughed, saying, "Hey old man, have you ever danced?"

The old man looked up at the gunslinger and said, "No, I never did dance. I just never wanted to."

A crowd had gathered by then and the gunslinger said, "Well, you old fool, you're gonna' dance now," and started shooting at the old man's feet.

The old prospector was hopping around and everybody was laughing.

When the gunslinger fired his last bullet, he holstered his gun and turned around to go back into the saloon. The old man reached up on the mule, drew his shotgun, and pulled both hammers back making a double clicking sound. The gunslinger heard the sound and everything got quiet. The crowd watched as the gunslinger slowly turned around looking down both barrels of the shotgun.

The old man asked, "Did you ever kiss a mule's rear end?"

The gunslinger swallowed hard and said, "No. But I've always wanted to."

H/T: Joatmoaf, who posted that… And there are more, most of which are pretty danged good!

Well, it’s about time… The WaPo reports “Troops Authorized to Kill Iranian Operatives in Iraq.” Buried on the third page of a three-page article are these juicy quotes:

"We were making no traction" with "catch and release," a senior counterterrorism official said in a recent interview, explaining that it had failed to halt Iranian activities in Iraq or worry the Tehran leadership. "Our goal is to change the dynamic with the Iranians, to change the way the Iranians perceive us and perceive themselves. They need to understand that they cannot be a party to endangering U.S. soldiers' lives and American interests, as they have before. That is going to end."

A senior intelligence officer was more wary of the ambitions of the strategy.

"This has little to do with Iraq. It's all about pushing Iran's buttons. It is purely political," the official said. The official expressed similar views about other new efforts aimed at Iran, suggesting that the United States is escalating toward an unnecessary conflict to shift attention away from Iraq and to blame Iran for the United States' increasing inability to stanch the violence there.

There’s a thread running through the entire article that killing and/or capturing Iranians operating in Iraq is “provocative” or “dangerous” or “ill-advised.” (Those are my words, by the way.) Really, now. Are we to believe that a “catch and release” policy, which has been ineffective, at best, would somehow deter the Iranians from further direct support of Shiite militias? Or that ignoring the Iranians would make them go away? How frickin’ stupid can we get? (Don’t answer that…)

I was going to quote some Lefty reactions to this development…but I just cannot subject you to meaningless rants and raves from those who suffer from BDS. I will, however, point you to Captain Ed once again. Here’s one paragraph of his take on the new policy:

That realization has given the impetus to the more aggressive strategy. The US intended on sending a message with catch-and-release, but the Iranians took a different lesson from it. They knew we knew they were running their own operations in Iraq, and saw us as unwilling to take the kinds of tough action needed to stop it. At the same time, they also saw the amount of pushback we got when pursuing a tough sanctions regime against Teheran at the UN, which resulted in a watered-down resolution with "smart" sanctions that will cost Iran little in the short run. Our subtlety in handling their agents was seen as a further sign of weakness.

There’s more, of course, including the Good Captain’s evaluation of the risks associated with killing Iranian agents…such as the Iranian mullahs losing their collective sensibilities and igniting a wider regional war. I agree with Mr. Morrissey: that’s not likely to happen.

Oh, wow! In today’s Times On-line (UK): “The Vaulting Ambition of America's Lady Macbeth.”

There are many reasons people think Mrs Clinton will not be elected president. She lacks warmth; she is too polarising a figure; the American people don’t want to relive the psychodrama of the eight years of the Clinton presidency.

But they all miss this essential counterpoint. As you consider her career this past 15 years or so in the public spotlight, it is impossible not to be struck, and even impressed, by the sheer ruthless, unapologetic, unshameable way in which she has pursued this ambition, and confirmed that there is literally nothing she will not do, say, think or feel to achieve it. Here, finally, is someone who has taken the black arts of the politician’s trade, the dissembling, the trimming, the pandering, all the way to their logical conclusion.

Fifteen years ago there was once a principled, if somewhat rebarbative and unelectable politician called Hillary Rodham Clinton. A woman who aggressively preached abortion on demand and the right of children to sue their own parents, a committed believer in the power of government who tried to create a healthcare system of such bureaucratic complexity it would have made the Soviets blush; a militant feminist who scorned mothers who take time out from work to rear their children as “women who stay home and bake cookies”.

Today we have a different Hillary Rodham Clinton, all soft focus and expensively coiffed, exuding moderation and tolerance.


Now, you might say, hold on. Aren’t all politicians veined with an opportunistic streak? Why is she any different? The difference is that Mrs Clinton has raised that opportunism to an animating philosophy, a P. T. Barnum approach to the political marketplace.

And to think there are those who have likened Her Hillaryness to Lady Thatcher. It is to laugh, eh? But, back to the article at hand: You can’t beat the Brits when it comes to the art of the articulate and merciless editorial takedown. There are none better. We Americans tend to be way too nice in print. The blogs, however are a different story, as you well know.

This article in Der Spiegal has been getting a lot of attention in the ‘sphere, as it well should: “Hurray! We're Capitulating! The author, Henryk M. Broder, provides an interesting and illuminating discussion on the “Mohammed Cartoons” flap, including, but not limited to, the significance of the Muslim protests that swept the globe after the cartoons were published. A key quote:

Objectively speaking, the cartoon controversy was a tempest in a teacup. But subjectively it was a show of strength and, in the context of the "clash of civilizations," a dress rehearsal for the real thing. The Muslims demonstrated how quickly and effectively they can mobilize the masses, and the free West showed that it has nothing to counter the offensive -- nothing but fear, cowardice and an overriding concern about the balance of trade. Now the Islamists know that they are dealing with a paper tiger whose roar is nothing but a tape recording.

Once again, as always: read the whole thing. There is much truth within.

Today’s Pic: Have you seen that paper towel ad on TV? The one where the kid is opening a bottle of orange pop in the kitchen and sprays the Mom? And she replies “Tommy!! What are you thinking!?!” The kid looks down, assuming an “uh-oh” pose, knowing he’s gonna get it. Then there’s a quick cut to the Mom, who reaches behind her and pulls the spray attachment from the sink, squirts the kid and says “THIS works much better!” A squirt war ensues…

I can just see The Second Mrs. Pennington pulling a stunt like that. Here she is in our backyard by the kiddie pool, teaching SN3 how to spit water on someone. Notice SN3’s rapt expression. You gotta love a Mom like that… Perinton, NY. May, 1998.

OK. This will be the last of the baby pictures… I love ‘em, but then: I would. Your mileage most certainly varies.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Last night’s NHL All-Star game ended the way I wanted it to: with the West on top, and by a considerable margin, at that. The final score was West 12, East 9. It was the first All-Star game since 2004, what with the lock-out in 2005 and the NHL taking a hiatus during last year’s Olympics. It’s good to have the game back, as the All-Star game showcases the best players making the best moves in the game, be they passing, shooting, or goal tending. That, and the fact it’s obvious the guys are really, truly having a great time.
Highlight of the evening: Marty Turco, the West’s goalie in the third period, was “mic’d up” and provided some hilarious in-game patter, even as he was making (and not making) saves. It was a classic “you had to be there” sort of moment, but Turco is a very poised and funny guy. I’d be scared sh!tless speechless if a bunch of guys were firing frozen hard rubber biscuits at 100 mph right at me. That could damned well hurt, pads or no!
Lowlight of the evening: Nothing to do with the game, but you couldn’t avoid the ads: The return of Smilin’ Bob, again, and again, and again. I thought those ads had gone away for good, but it’s obvious they haven’t. It’s probably only a matter of time before Smilin’ Bob is literally put away, what with a 112-count indictment (for fraud, false advertising, and a number of other criminal activities, including credit card fraud) brought by the US DOJ on September 20 of last year. Go get ‘em Alberto!!
For that other hockey fan that reads EIP, here’s a very interesting bit of speculation: Forsberg to Detroit? Assuming Forsberg is healthy (and that’s a BIG assumption): Hello, Stanley!! But then again, he could go to the Rangers…if he goes anywhere at all.
One of the most irritating things (if not THE most irritating thing) about the Firefox browser is that message you get when attempting to view an on-line vid using a format other than Windows Media, to wit: “Plug-in required. Click here to download plug-in.” You click, of course. Then you see “No plug-in found. Click here to manually install plug-in.” But…you don’t have a frickin’ CLUE as to WHICH plug-in you need. I’ve installed Flash, I’ve installed QuickTime, I’ve installed RealPlayer, and a couple of other players as well, yet I STILL get that frickin’ message from time to time. Computers are much more difficult than need be. Still. Perhaps always. (Ed: buy a Mac. But I don’t WANT a Mac.)
What prompted the rant above? The DoD DVIDS site, which has some pretty good videos. If you can get them to play. The (very brief: 1:03 min) “F-22 to Japan” vid features some airborne footage of the F-22, including a too-brief sequence of an F-22 approaching a KC-10 for refueling.
A couple of good op-eds from the WSJ… The first, via Real Clear Politics, is Daniel Henninger holding forth on the Doom ‘n’ Gloom crowd:
The United States is talking itself into defeat in Iraq. Its political culture is now in a downward spiral of pessimism. In the halls of Congress, across endless newspaper columns, amid the punditocracy and on Sunday morning talk shows--all emit a Stygian gloom about America.
Yes, on any given day on some discrete issue (Prime Minister Maliki's bona fides, for example), the criticism of the American role is not without justification. But the cumulative effect of this unremitting ill wind is corrosive. We are not only on the way to talking ourselves into defeat in Iraq but into a diminished international status that may be harder to recover than the doom mob imagines. Self-criticism has its role, but profligate self-doubt can exact a price.
Our slide to a national nervous breakdown because of Iraq is not going unnoticed. Australia's foreign minister, Alexander Downer, has been visiting across the U.S. this week. "I've been pretty worried about what I've heard," Mr. Downer said in an interview. Walking on Santa Monica beach Sunday before last, Mr. Downer said he encountered a display of crosses in the sand, representing the American dead in Iraq.
"What concerns me about this," he said, "is that it's sort of an isolationist sentiment, subconsciously, not consciously, and that would be an enormous problem for the world. I hope the American people understand the importance of not retreating and thinking the world's problems aren't theirs."
And the second concerns itself with the Constitutional prerogatives of the Commander-in-Chief and the Senate’s attempt to usurp same:
To understand why the Founders put war powers in the hands of the Presidency, look no further than the current spectacle in Congress on Iraq. What we are witnessing is a Federalist Papers illustration of criticism and micromanagement without responsibility.
Consider the resolution pushed through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday by Joe Biden and Chuck Hagel, two men who would love to be President if only they could persuade enough voters to elect them. Both men voted for the Iraq War. But with that war proving to be more difficult than they thought, they now want to put themselves on record as opposing any further attempts to win it.
Their resolution--which passed 12-9--calls for Iraqis to "reach a political settlement" leading to "reconciliation," as if anyone disagrees with that necessity. But then it declares that the way to accomplish this is to wash American hands of the Iraq effort, proposing that U.S. forces retreat to protect the borders and hunt terrorists. The logic here seems to be that if the Americans leave, Iraqis will miraculously conclude that they have must settle their differences. A kind of reverse field of dreams: If we don't come, they will build it.
In Iraq, all of this undermines the morale of the military and makes their task that much harder on the ground. When John McCain asked Lieutenant General David Petraeus that precise question during his confirmation hearing Tuesday, the next commander of Coalition operations in Iraq said, "It would not be a beneficial effect, sir."
And when Joe Lieberman asked if such a resolution would give the enemy cause to believe that Americans were divided, he added, "That's correct, sir." Several Senators protested and demanded that the general stay out of domestic politics, but his only offense was telling the truth. Of course the enemy would take comfort from any Senate declaration that Mr. Bush lacks domestic support.
Yep. I’m simply amazed…amazed, I say…that our illustrious congresscritters don’t get it. What ever happened to leadership? In the sense that leaders explain, in the clearest of terms, what must be done and why we must do it. Explain. Motivate. Execute. It’s a simple concept, really. It appears, however, that the Congress isn’t acting with the best interests of the nation at heart…they only stick their fingers in the air to see which way the wind is blowing and then follow the crowd. Disgusting.

Today’s Pics: Anyone who has raised kids understands these shots. Kids will push every button you have, climb anything, go anywhere…anytime. With no concern for their own safety, of course. SN3 discovered the pass-thru between the family room and the kitchen almost immediately after he went mobile. And we were concerned, of course. We solved this lil problem by putting a baby gate in the pass thru, which prompted a major tizzy and howls of indignation from SN3…but kept him from falling into the sink, or worse, turning on the garbage disposal and then falling into the sink.
July, 1998.
Update 01/25/2007 1530 hrs. Becky, in the comments, says "LOL!!! Love the pictures of SN3! Boy can I relate to those days! Somewhere I have pictures of Cody sitting in the sink "driving" the faucet."
Like this?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

SotU and Other Stuff

On the SotU… I give it a B+. Not quite A-level material, but damned good, none the less. Much, much better than his “new Iraq strategy” speech given in the White House in the recent past. It’s oh-so-obvious that an audience makes for better delivery, especially where Dubya is concerned.

I’m not the only one to note that Madame Speaker makes for a much more pleasing backdrop to the President during the SotU, as opposed to Cheney/Hastert, who most often appeared to be contemplating evil of some sort. Or maybe they were just bored. I found myself watching Madame Speaker at least as often as I was focused on Dubya, primarily for visual cues about her reactions to the President’s message. I will admit: she’s a damned good actress. And she applauded at the appropriate times for the most part. Would that her cooperation, support, and bipartisanship extended beyond making appropriate social gestures during a speech. But that would be asking a bit much, nu?

Captain Ed live-blogged the speech and it makes for interesting after-the-fact reading.

Speaking of Captain Ed… He wrote a good op-ed on Bill Richardson’s presidential candidacy in yesterday’s Examiner. The Good Captain’s salient point: Richardson’s résumé is so far above and beyond the rest of the Democrat field as to make Barack and Hillary (just to name two) green with envy. Neither of the aforementioned two candidates have any executive experience and precious little contact with foreign affairs policy beyond a junket or three and the op-ed pages of the New York Times. But, Hey! Richardson lacks that je ne sais quois we call “charisma.” God Forbid the Democrats would go with expertise and experience… which, as Captain Ed notes, is a good thing for the GOP.

Lou has posted some first-hand Good News from her cousin, Captain Jim Lively, a Marine serving in Iraq. Capt. Lively and his men are training an Iraqi Army battalion in Ramadi. And Capt. Lively has good news to report…

Today’s Pic: Yesterday I posted a rather bleak and very snowy pic of the Ol’ Perinton Homestead. Well, my stay there wasn’t all frigid and bundled up, there were balmy moments. Western New York is very beautiful in the Spring and Summer. Here, from Former Happy Days, is visible proof - The Second Mrs. Pennington and SN3 watering the flowers on our deck. July, 1998.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Stuck! In My Own Frickin' DRIVEWAY...

Florida’s looking pretty damned good right about now.

I should have known better, but…I just had to try it. After over an hour of rocking, digging, cursing, swearing, and various and sundry other things, two neighbors and I managed to get the Green Hornet out of the road. And there she sits.

My tires are most, if not all, of the problem. Goodyear Eagle F1s are great in the dry and better than most "performance" tires in the rain, but they absolutely suck in snow. As a matter of fact, Goodyear specifically tells you not to attempt to drive in snow on the things. So much for paying attention to the book, eh?

Looks like I’m stuck on the premises until we get some serious melting. I’m so glad I stocked up last Friday. But I am going to quit smoking… involuntarily, of course. No comments on the smoking bit, please. I know it’s bad, I know it’s a character flaw, I know it’s killing me. You can’t tell me anything I don’t know about smoking. Except to suggest a foolproof (read that as: successful) method of quitting, perhaps.

Minutes from this Morning's Staff Meeting

Decisions, decisions… Which do I watch tonight? State of the Union? Or the NHL Young-Stars Game? This is a rhetorical question, ya know. C-SPAN will re-run the SotU over and over and over; the Young-Stars game is a one-time good deal. No-brainer.

Speaking of the SotU… Jules Crittenden has written the speech Dubya should give tonight. Excerpt:

Don’t bother standing up or clapping, any of you. I already know who won the election, and I know how you feel.

I come before you tonight not to make amends, not to make it good, curry any favor or find any middle ground.

I am, more or less, a lame duck. You’ve had your 100 hours of party time. I know. I won’t get any legislation passed without some major bottom-kissing. Maybe something on illegal aliens. That health insurance thing I’ll be talking about later tonight is pretty much for show. I know it isn’t going anywhere. A proposal to raise middle-class taxes for a healthcare plan you don’t even want? What was I thinking?

None of that really matters. Not now. Those are peacetime issues we’ve been bickering about for a long time, and I don’t expect we’ll resolve them anytime soon.

So what is the best thing I can do tonight? I can tell you the truth. What none of you want to hear. What you’ve been stopping your ears to. The ugly truth.

The State of the Union is a disaster. I did my best, but I made mistakes, and my best wasn’t good enough.

Looks bad, eh? But, as it’s so often said, you need to read the whole thing.

Bravo, Jules!

We Know Where You Live Dept… Good Buddy Dan e-mails me last evening with the exact geo coordinates of El Casa Móvil De Pennington and asks “Is this where you are? I was just fooling around with Google Earth and took visual cues and narrative clues from your posts…” Uh, yeah. Exactly. I suppose I’ll need to be more careful about who I insult, and how badly I offend them, from now on, eh?

On the Other Hand: Nah. I’m armed.

On the Other, Other Hand: Dan, I believe you might have a future with NSA and/or CIA as an analyst…

Error Correction Dept…Watching Evening Edition last evening on The WX Channel and they’re doing a spot on snow in Las Cruses, NM. Would that be near Las Cruces, I wonder? (Full disclosure: they get the spelling right today.)

Who’d a Thunk It? Dept… A short little article in today’s WaPo about some surprising revelations in SecDef Robert Gates 1996 memoirs. I quote:

Of all the presidents he worked for, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is particularly supportive of one -- but it isn't, as might be expected, Ronald Reagan, the first President Bush or even Gerald R. Ford.

Rather, in his memoirs, the new Pentagon chief leaps repeatedly to the defense of Jimmy Carter, the sole Democrat for whom he worked, who was often seen as weak on the Soviet Union and taken by surprise when it invaded Afghanistan in December 1979.

Unconventional wisdom, indeed. Mr. Gates makes some good points, but… those good points aside, I still believe Jimmuh is going senile. His recent (and ongoing) comments and criticism of the current administration border on the criminal. Just sayin’.

Today’s Pic: Apropos of nothing, aside from the WX Channel saying Ra-cha-cha is gonna get five or six inches of snow today, here’s a (grainy, first-generation digital) pic of The Ol’ Homestead in Perinton (a suburb of Rochester), NY. There’s about six or eight inches of that white stuff on the ground. January, 1999.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Some Political Stuff...and a (Very) Brief Comment on the Culture

So. I got a bit caught up in the comments section over at Lex’s place this morning. Lex published a link to this informative and quite lengthy two-parter in this weekend’s Guardian (UK), and in so doing stole a bit of my thunder the linkage I had planned for today. The Guardian article is a very interesting two-part excerpt from a recent book published by Nick Cohen, one of Britain’s foremost Lefty columnists, who’s undergone a conversion of sorts…specifically about the Iraq war. Mr. Cohen found himself aghast at the Left’s opposition to the Iraq war, and by definition, the Left’s de facto support of Saddam’s fascist regime. It’s a fascinating read, if you have about a half-hour to spare.

Now…about getting caught up in Lex’s comments. A couple of Lex’s commenters took exception to Mr. Cohen’s assertion that fascism is a “far-right” ideology, and presented some interesting arguments in support of their assertions. I was always taught fascism is/was a right-wing ideology, further supported by the literally hundreds of times I’ve been called a “fascist” by various and sundry Lefties when all other arguments fail. So, it was off to Wikipedia to read some stuff cited by the proponents of the “fascism is a left-wing ideology” school of thought, and to do a bit of research on the “right-wing” arguments. Interesting stuff, if you’re a political geek/junkie.

You had to be there, I suppose.

Algore stiffs a long-planned interview. I find this interesting as all get out, especially considering all the brouhaha surrounding his apocalyptic claims in An Inconvenient Truth. Why will he not debate the issues? I quote:

Al Gore is traveling around the world telling us how we must fundamentally change our civilization due to the threat of global warming. Last week he was in Denmark to disseminate this message. But if we are to embark on the costliest political project ever, maybe we should make sure it rests on solid ground. It should be based on the best facts, not just the convenient ones. This was the background for the biggest Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, to set up an investigative interview with Mr. Gore. And for this, the paper thought it would be obvious to team up with Bjorn Lomborg, author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist," who has provided one of the clearest counterpoints to Mr. Gore's tune.

The interview had been scheduled for months. The day before the interview Mr. Gore's agent thought Gore-meets-Lomborg would be great. Yet an hour later, he came back to tell us that Bjorn Lomborg should be excluded from the interview because he's been very critical of Mr. Gore's message about global warming and has questioned Mr. Gore's evenhandedness. According to the agent, Mr. Gore only wanted to have questions about his book and documentary, and only asked by a reporter. These conditions were immediately accepted by Jyllands-Posten. Yet an hour later we received an email from the agent saying that the interview was now cancelled. What happened?


Al Gore is on a mission. If he has his way, we could end up choosing a future, based on dubious claims, that could cost us, according to a U.N. estimate, $553 trillion over this century. Getting answers to hard questions is not an unreasonable expectation before we take his project seriously. It is crucial that we make the right decisions posed by the challenge of global warming. These are best achieved through open debate, and we invite him to take the time to answer our questions: We are ready to interview you any time, Mr. Gore--and anywhere.

Read the whole thing. The op-ed is jointly written by Flemming Rose, the culture editor of the Jyllands-Posten, and by Professor Lomborg himself. I think Algore (and his arguments) is unraveling. Just sayin’.

Wow! “It don’t get no better than this!” Hitch reviews Steyn! That three-word description should be “nuff said.” My favorite ex-Marxist reviews another of my favorite pundits. And Hitch has his criticisms of Steyn’s work; his piece isn’t as laudatory as one might imagine. An exceptionally good read. And Ace has more on the subject.

Finally… I watched both NFL playoff games yesterday, and they were both pretty good. The Bears – Saints game was in question until the second half; the Colts – Pats game was a nail biter until the very end. The Super Bowl just might be a game this year, rather than an orgiastic display of the worst of American culture. (He ducks. He runs.)


Placeholder. I’ll be back in a few. Until then, Today’s Pic is another view of Saturday morning’s winter wonderland. And it still looks like this, given we haven’t risen above 32 degrees since sometime last Friday. Relief is on the way, or so sez the Weather Channel. I hope so. I’m feeling the first twinges of cabin fever.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Lightweight Post for a Sunday

Via Kris, another one of those quiz thingies. This time, it’s “What Book Are You?”

You're Siddhartha!
by Hermann Hesse

You simply don't know what to believe, but you're willing to try anything once. Western values, Eastern values, hedonism and minimalism, you've spent some time in every camp. But you still don't have any idea what camp you belong in. This makes you an individualist of the highest order, but also really lonely. It's time to chill out under a tree. And realize that at least you believe in ferries.

Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

This one is closer than most, aside from the fact the test results say I’m really lonely. Au contraire. I’m alone, true, but I am not lonely. Big difference. Boy-Howdy is it ever true when they say “you've spent some time in every camp. But you still don't have any idea what camp you belong in.” That statement really nails it! And I do believe in ferries, having been on quite a few. The book selection is interesting in one other aspect: check out this photo of my USAF-issued dog tag (click for larger). I’m Buddhist, by an official act of the US Gub’mint. The story behind that lil bit of trivia goes like this…

Once upon a time while I was still on active duty it came to pass, via directive, that all personnel had to have Official ID tags in their possession, at all times. Those of us who had lost their ID tags were ordered to report to the CBPO and get re-issued. So, I took my ol’ self down to the personnel shop, found the ID-tag foundry and presented my ID card to the airman in charge. He looked at it in a bored manner and asked “What’s your religion?” “No preference,” sez I. “No go,” sez he, “You have to choose a religion…pick one from this list…” and he shoves a list of about 25 religious denominations across the desk to me. I scan it quickly, and he’s right: there are no “No preference” or “Agnostic” categories. So I said “I’m Buddhist.” The airman didn't bat an eye and proceeded to pound out my dog tags. Ten minutes later I walked out of the personnel shop with my newly-minted dog tags and a brand-new religion. The Second Mrs. Pennington was most impressed when I got home, she being a closet Buddhist and all.

Siddhartha, indeed.

Today is brilliantly clear and cold. It almost, but not quite, hurts to gaze upon the fields of snow outside the window. The park’s roads are still white, what with the cold and lack of traffic. We haven’t progressed to that slushy-gray muck yet. But it will come. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the view.

Here are a few quick P-Town snow facts, courtesy of the Portales News-Tribune. They say:

A winter storm that lingered over the middle of New Mexico dumped more than 10 inches of snow across parts of Clovis and eastern New Mexico Saturday.


Snow facts
—Portales averages 9.2 inches of snowfall each year.
—The city's snowiest season on record was 1972-73, when 26.9 inches fell.
—Portales recorded 22 inches of snow in December of 1997, a record for one month.
—Portales received one-half inch of snow last season, all of it in March.
—Saturday's snowfall was the most in Portales since March of 2005, when the city saw 10.5 inches for the month.

How about that?