Sunday, August 31, 2008

From The Heartland

Comment that matters! Jackie and Dunlap on John McCain's choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as the Vice Presidential nominee...

Yep. I don't care what Bullwinkle sez!

(h/t: Chap, via Barry's comments)

Gray, Cool, and Blustery (The Weather... NOT Me)

I feel rather small complaining about our weather, what with Gustav bearing down on the long-suffering Gulf Coast (the link is time-sensitive and may not appear if you’re reading this on some day other than 8/31/2008). But… I will. Our weather on this last long weekend of summer has been something of a bust for P-Ville’s working folks. It doesn’t affect me all that much, coz one day’s pretty much the same as the next. I can take a blustery, gray, occasionally rainy, and relatively cool weekend in stride and defer any outdoor activities until the next sunny day… be it Tuesday, Thursday, or whenever. Not so for the average family. I remember all too well how disappointed we were when our parade got rained on… both literally and metaphorically. Rain, and its accompanying disappointment tends to be tempered by gratitude in these parts, however. Coz we just don’t get that much… so what we DO get is always greeted with Hosannas.


I was amazed at the torrent of MSM articles and blog posts on Sarah Palin… and the fact that fully half the space on memeorandum’s page was all about Sarah yesterday. And it hasn’t let up all that much today. One of the better things I’ve read this weekend on the subject of Sarah came from Newt Gingrich, by way of Bill Kristol writing in the Weekly Standard’s blog (“Kristol: Gingrich on the Power of Authenticity”). Here’s an excerpt:

In one sudden moment Friday, John McCain fundamentally changed American politics in a manner that transcends issues and details.

The great threat to the Obama-Biden ticket can be captured in one word: authenticity.

There is something unaffected and "unsophisticated" (in the Columbia, Princeton, Harvard and University of Chicago meanings of the word) about Governor Palin. She really was point guard of a state championship basketball team. She really is a competent hunter. She is a hockey mom. She has one son about to go to Iraq.

She has 13 years in elected office

By any practical standard she has done far more in the real world with much more spontaneity and practicality than Barack Obama. And there is something deeply real and courageous about John McCain ignoring most of his advisers and all of the "insider wisdom" to reach out to a younger woman whose greatest characteristic is undaunted courage and a willingness to clean out the corruption in her own party.

This is a moment of stunning authenticity versus a sad collapse on the part of the Obama campaign from " change you can count on" to politics as usual, as marked by Obama's choice of a senator first elected when Palin was 9 years old.

Jennifer Rubin noted that Gingrich’s e-mails are better than most books. And she’s right. Go read Kristol/Gingrich… if you haven’t already.

It’s amazing… no, not really… how the Left is tying itself in knots trying to discredit Palin while mocking McCain’s choice as the act of a desperate pol whose campaign is going down the tubes. They can only wish. Well, Hell. Let’s review, shall we? It’s admittedly biased, but Redstate has a good post (“Tale of the Tape: Sarah Palin vs. Barack Obama”) comparing Palin to The One. Wanna guess who wins and who loses?


In other news… football season has begun! Yays! And there go my Saturdays from now until the end of November. It was just SO good to lay back yesterday and watch football ALL day. Even the weather cooperated, seeing as how it was better indoors than out. Which helps to mitigate the guilt, ya know. As if there were any…

About yesterday’s games: pretty predictable, except for Big Blue (and ‘Bama, too). As for the Maize and Blue… I’m thinking they should skip the first game of the season and just go directly to the second game on the schedule. Last year it was Appalachian State, this year it was Utah. Not a good beginning for new head coach Rich Rodriguez. But Hey! Everything will be cool if he beats Ohio State, coz that’s pretty much all that counts in Ann Arbor. BIG “if,” that.

As for me… I’m waiting for next week to see how the The Domers fare on their first outing. This year doesn’t look to be as intense as it usually is… what with only two pre-season Top 25 teams on the schedule. But they should do better than last year. (He said, whistling and looking skyward…)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

OK… I Might Could Be a Gamer… After All

Found at AutoWeek.

A Brief Introduction...

... to David Burge's latest masterpiece:

The Idiossey

The Not-Really-That-Epic Poem of Obamacles

(with Apologies to Homer)

Book the First: A question for the Muse

Speak to me, O Muse, of this resourceful man
who strides so boldly upon the golden shrine at Invescos,
Between Ionic plywood columns, to the kleig light altar.
Fair Obamacles, favored of the gods, ascends to Olympus
Amidst lusty tributes and the strumming lyres of Media;
Their mounted skyboxes echo with the singing of his name
While Olbermos and Mattheus in their greasy togas wrassle
For first honor of basking in their hero's reflected glory.
Who is this man, so bronzed in countenance,
So skilled of TelePropter, clean and articulate
whose ears like a stately urn's protrude?
So now, daughter of Zeus, tell us his story.
And just the Cliff Notes if you don't mind,
We don't have all day.

Said the Muse:

I will tell the story of Obamacles through my scribe Iowahawk.
But this shit is copyrighted, so reproduce at your peril.

Fair Use, David... Fair Use.

Mike Huckabee on Sarah Palin...

About which: This is the best comment I've seen or heard on this subject (the Palin pick) today. This comment from Mark Steyn comes in second:
First, Governor Palin is not merely, as Jay describes her, "all-American", but hyper-American. What other country in the developed world produces beauty queens who hunt caribou and serve up a terrific moose stew? As an immigrant, I'm not saying I came to the United States purely to meet chicks like that, but it was certainly high on my list of priorities. And for the gun-totin' Miss Wasilla then to go on to become Governor while having five kids makes it an even more uniquely American story. Next to her resume, a guy who's done nothing but serve in the phony-baloney job of "community organizer" and write multiple autobiographies looks like just another creepily self-absorbed lifelong member of the full-time political class that infests every advanced democracy.
But I digress. Back to the video: I especially like the way Guv'nor Huckabee beats Alan Colmes with a stick (metaphorically speaking) on MORE than one occasion. Dang. The Other Man From Hope sure has a way with words...

(h/t: Flopping Aces)

Today's Art... a 1:34 film titled "Surprise."

I was.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Small Stuff Again... Literally, In One Case

Class… and that’s all that need be said about this:

Don’t expect anything similar from the Obama camp, however. You’ll be disappointed.


I filed a trouble ticket with Site Meter last evening… because of this:

And to say SM’s response was quick is an understatement. Observe this auto-generated response to my trouble ticket, which appeared in my in-box mere seconds after I submitted the trouble ticket:

from Technical Issue
date Fri, Aug 29, 2008 at 12:31 AM
subject [#ILW-766843]: s17pennington

Norman Pennington,
Your request has been received and a member of our support staff will review it and reply as soon as possible. Listed below are details of this request. Please make sure the Ticket ID remains in the subject at all times.

Ticket ID: ILW-766843
Codename: s17pennington
Category: Technical Issue
Priority: Normal
Status: Open

Please let us know if we can assist you any further,

Site Meter Support

Followed, in short order, by this:

From smsupport
date Fri, Aug 29, 2008 at 12:37 AM
subject [#ILW-766843]: s17pennington

Hello Norman,

Thank you for writing. We’re currently experiencing technical difficulty at this time and aware of the problem. We are working diligently to get this issue resolved as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can view your statistics by going to We anticipate a fix within several hours. Please know that none of your statistics have been lost. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. If you have any other questions, please let us know.


SiteMeter Support

Ticket Details
Ticket ID: ILW-766843
Category: Technical Issue
Priority: Normal
Status: Closed

Now this, Gentle Reader, is customer service. Elapsed time? Six minutes. And the response? Excellent, complete with an explanation, accompanied by a work-around. I really like these guys.


Peter Parks, Sea water with mixed zooplankton and needle eye (20X) Fifth Place, 2007

About the image you see directly above… I was perusing the archives for a bit last evening and came across a post I put up last July that directed you to the “Nikon International Small World Competition,” which is an annual micro-photography contest sponsored (strangely enough) by Nikon. And I got to wondering if they’d updated their site this year. The answer is “yes.” And, as usual, there are some amazing images on display in the galleries, which go all the way back to 1977. This site could be a serious time waster if you’re into photography, only your time wouldn’t really be wasted at all. You could consider the time spent here as inspiration. Or education. Or simply an excuse to revel in the beauty of a world most of us never see. Good stuff, this.

And… just for grins ‘n’ giggles, below is a screen-shot of the 1977 winners. That’s over 30 years ago, and the state of the art is pretty danged impressive… in my eyes, at least. I’m thinking you’ll agree.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Weirdness and a Milestone

I got a hit just after midnight today from a person in Kathmandu (yeah, that Kathmandu) who googled this:

Search Words: cumulative hearing and woman buttered syndrome provocation

OK, this may not be the strangest hit I’ve ever gotten but it’s damned close. This query beats all of the other strangeness that causes people to show up here, based on the sheer cryptic nature of the search words, alone. Therefore, it’s entirely natural and appropriate to wonder “What was this guy thinking?” and really mean it! Throw in this person’s rather exotic location and you get profound weirdness, from my point of view. Notice there’s no quotes, so one could come calling based upon a hit on one or more of the search words, in any combination. This is what the guy clicked through on… ten pages into his search:

· Exile in Portales: June 2007

Just to be visible in the back seat of a car with a woman offers provocation enough in many neighborhoods--Karima made the throat-cutting gesture as ... - 343k –(सँग्रहित प्रतिलिपिहरू - यस्तै पृष्ठहरु

Thank God it wasn’t anything about buttered women. (Click the screen shot for larger, if you wish.)


Milestone: 45 years ago today I reported in at the Los Angeles induction center (there’s an official term for the place, like “Military Recruit Processing Center” or some such, but I can’t remember what it is) at the ungodly hour of 0530 for about five hours of poking, prodding, probing, and blood-letting… followed by the filling out of many forms, punctuated with long periods of inactivity (and thus: boredom), culminating in mid-afternoon when me and about 150 other guys were sworn in to the armed forces of these United States. Following the swearing-in ceremony the Army, Navy, and Marine recruits were immediately loaded on to buses and set off for their basic training bases, all in California. The Air Force inductees… about 20 of us, if I recall correctly… were bussed to LAX where we waited for an evening flight to San Antonio and Lackland Air Force Base.

My parents met me at the airport and we said our good-byes. Mom was pretty composed but she did shed a few tears. My father, ever the cynic, pulled me aside shortly before I boarded the plane and said, in all seriousness…

“I only have one piece of advice for you: Stay away from airplanes.”

Don’t forget, Gentle Reader, my father was a retired USAF Lt. Col, with more than a few missions over Deutschland during The Unpleasantness of 1939 - 1945. And, not to go on in any great detail, this bon mot was probably one of the best pieces of advice he ever gave me. In a nut shell: there’s no such thing as a comfortable or hospitable flight line. Every single one of them is either too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, or otherwise inhospitable to human life, in general. Let alone someone whose primary job is to crawl in, on, or around very large, bright shiny aluminum tubes, aka aircraft. Or stand around guarding them. Or arming and fueling them. But, Hey! Some people like that sort of thing. I don’t think I would have. As luck would have it I never did go near airplanes, professionally speaking, during my entire career. I digress.

Anyhoo. We arrived in San Antonio sometime around midnight… the last flight in. We were herded on to a USAF bus and driven to Lackland where we disembarked to the screams of nasty little men in fatigues, otherwise known as “Military Training Instructors,” or MTIs. The TIs formed us up in ragged ranks and called roll. I got the shock of my young life when a wiry little TI walked directly up to me, put his face about 25 millimeters from mine and shouted “Are you a QUEER, Airman Pennington?” I froze, speechless. “I REPEAT! ARE YOU A QUEER, AIRMAN?” I mumbled something, anything, by way of negative reply and thoughtfully tacked on “sir” at the end. Which brought down even more vitriol on my poor head, something to the effect of “I WORK for a living! Don’t you EVER call me ‘sir!’” Followed with “You’re from CALIFORNIA, Pennington, so I think you’re a QUEER! I’m WATCHING you, Airman! Don’t you ever forget that!”

Wow. Welcome to Lackland!

We (about 100 of us, by this point) spent the next two hours in-processing. We were then assigned to Basic Military Training (BMT) flights, handed over to our TIs, and marched (such as we could) off to our barracks, where we bedded down just before 0300. I had been up for nearly 24 hours and was beginning to question the wisdom of joining the Air Force.

I really questioned my decision when we were gently awakened two and a half hours later at 0530 by loudspeakers right outside our windows blaring Reveille and our TIs (two of ‘em) stomping down the middle of the open bay barracks, shouting - no, screaming... and that was ALL they did, seemingly - obscenities at anyone and everyone, for no good or apparent reason, other than to make noise. We were rousted, showered, shaved, dressed, formed into yet another ragged formation (all in about ten to 15 minutes... the pace was “dead run") and marched off to the mess hall, about four blocks away. And so began my first full day in the US Air Force. Breakfast was the best part of that day... let me tell ya.

And so began my career, too, 22 years of it. But Hey! It was fun. Really. All's well that ends well.


Today’s Pic: An appropriate re-run. Me, following basic training… from a hometown news release Mom saved. 1963.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Memories, Fondly...

... but NOT without a couple o' few painful synapses being fired off. Via Blog-Bud Mike... something that may or may not ring a few bells with you:

It sure did for me. Ah, Youth! Where DID ya go, and why did ya leave SO soon?

PS: It's only a 1:41 vid, so it's watchable for nearly everyone... no matter at what speed you access the 'net.


I don't do this often... as a s'matter of fact, I DO believe this is a first here at EIP. But here's a complete post, in its entirety, that Lex put up yesterday:

MONTGOMERY - Alabama Governor Bob Riley urged his citizens to remain calm on Tuesday, one day after Wal-Mart stores across the state reported a run on ammunition stocks. Pistol and rifle cartridges were out of stock in stores everywhere, although birdshot could still be had in Auburn, Birmingham and here in the capital.

Interviewed in the street, one grim faced citizen told this reporter that while the Russians may have steamrollered through Georgia, “They sure as hell ain’t doing it to Alabama.”

Roll Tide.

No link, no cite... just what you see. Dunno if it's real or if it's Lex's own brand of Memorex, but it sure as Hell is FUNNY! Unless you happen to be from somewhere down there in 'Bama, at which point you might take offense. In which case: Suck it up.

Update... later that same day (as it's said), from Lex's comments:

  • Buck // Aug 27, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    What? No link? Or didja just fabricate this yourownself, Lex? I SO wanna steal this…

  • 24 lex // Aug 27, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    I was inspired by Miss Birdlegs, from Alabama. Who I know wouldn’t mind if you borrowed this.

Well... there ya have it. Miss Birdlegs gets the credit for concept; Lex gets multiples for director, producer, and star. And Capt. Lex is being most kind with his phrasing, ain't he?

More Random Notes

SN1 was in town for a brief visit yesterday. Granddaughter Number One on his side of the house is relocating from South Carolina to California, and Buck is/was accompanying her on the drive out west as far as Albuquerque, where her Beloved would meet her and they would continue on to the Golden State. At least that was the original plan. It seems like Felicity (GD1) has decided to spend a few days here in P-Ville and visit with old friends for a bit; Buck left for ABQ late last night to catch a plane back to South Carolina early this morning.
It goes without saying that any visit, however brief, from one’s offspring is a good visit… and so it was. I had a few errands to run yesterday, and Buck kept me company while I did what had to be done. And then we drank beer. I passed on the ceegars, as it was just too danged hot to sit outside. But we got caught up, talked shop (USAF) for more than a few, computers for a bit (and discovering that Mac vid I posted yesterday), hockey, family, women, etc., etc.. Typical Guy-Stuff, in other words. And then he went off to fulfill other family obligations and I took a nap. Because I can.
I’m still fuming over the formatting change on the blog. As I’ve noted before, I write about 95% of my posts in MS-Word and then cut and paste the results into Blogger’s compose window. When I first began blogging I noticed that Blogger didn’t handle formatting applied in Word all that well… inserting what looks to be about five or six point spaces in between each paragraph. So, I adjusted my style template to accommodate that idiosyncrasy… which is to say there are NO spaces in between paragraphs when I use Word’s “normal” style. And now Blogger has suddenly applied the style to the blog exactly as it was written, to my great dismay. The bottom line is that all the paragraphs in ALL my posts seem to run together now, and that makes readability a problem. But… do I really want to go back and fix nearly 1,700 posts? Individually, one at a time? At about five minutes for each danged post, at the very least? NO frickin’ way.
I remain extremely pissed, and that’s putting it oh-so-mildly. I tend to be a stickler for look and feel on the printed (or pixilated) page, which is a hold over from my technical writing days. I’m one of the most anal-retentive SOBs on the face of the planet in this space, too. Which is why I’m pissed and not likely to get over it very soon, if at all. TMI, perhaps, but it is what it is, Gentle Reader.
I was supposed to go in and visit with Dr. Thompson this morning, the objective being to add more artificial bone on the right side of my jaw, as I noted previously. Well, that’s all by the boards. I came up with another “infection,” an event that seems to pop up every couple of months or so, and this one is worse than most. These events, characterized by painful eruptions at random spots on my gums (never in the same place twice), usually heal themselves in about 48 hours or so. But as I noted, this one is worse than most. So… I decided to go see the Good Doctor yesterday and let him make the call as to whether or not we should proceed today, as planned. And: no go. Cancel, reschedule. I’ve been at a loss to explain why this sort of thing happens, but now I know. It seems I’m prone to getting candida… a minor fungal disease/infection which I’ve encountered before, but only in another context, and only in members of the opposite sex. Surprise! There’s an oral variant, too.
SN1 was quite amused when I explained to him what it was that’s afflicting me. I’ll not share the resulting banter, Gentle Reader. Like I said in my opening paragraph: Guy Talk.
I’m pretty pleased with Firefox 3.0 so far, if only for ONE reason: that annoying failure to play videos has been fixed. I’d recommend upgrading to the latest version for that reason alone. FF 3.0 has a slightly different look and feel to it, but it’s nothing major. And the browser does seem faster, as the Mozilla Guys claim it to be. Doubtless I’ll discover other improvements and/or features as time moves on. Hopefully v 3.0 won’t be as big a memory hog when you have umpteen tabs open, as I always seem to do.
Today’s Pics: Another couple of re-runs, albeit different from the ones I posted back in March of last year. I can be such a nerd at times, and part of the proof is the fact I took 17 different shots of a generic faucet drip. Well, maybe it’s not a generic drip… one could make a case for it being more of a special drip. Coz we most definitely are Special here at El Casa Móvil De Pennington, ya know.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I upgraded Firefox to v 3.0 today and now all my fonts, spacing, and such appear to be totally hosed in the blog. This is NOT good, to state the obvious. Then again, I opened the blog in IE and things are still f*cked up. Which means Blogger changed something. And I'll be damned if I'll go back and sanitize 1,694 posts just to make the fonts, paragraphs, and spacing line up like they used to.


Later Than Usual, But Here Nonetheless

Sad… In yesterday’s The Times (UK): Margaret Thatcher's struggle with dementia revealed in daughter's memoir.” An excerpt:

Lady Thatcher, 82, was advised to stop public speaking on health grounds shortly before her husband’s death. Although it is known widely that she has suffered a number of strokes, her dementia has been far less publicised. The first signs were apparent when she was 75, according to her daughter, who tells of her becoming confused about the Bosnian and Falklands conflicts during a lunch in 2000.

Nowhere is the word “Alzheimer’s” mentioned, but there’s precious little difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia. And, for those of us “of a certain age,” it may be the biggest fear we have about growing old. One can compensate for physical infirmity, but there’s nothing one can do when the mind begins to go. While it’s particularly sad when a high-visibility and much admired person such as Dame Thatcher is afflicted, there are literally thousands upon thousands… if not millions… of everyday folks who are similarly suffering. These people may be living, but they have no lives.



I find this rather interesting, given as how I receive a monthly love-letter (complete with a pittance of a remittance) from those wonderful folks at Ed’s Famous Data Company:

said Tuesday that it has completed its US$13.9 billion purchase of massive systems integrator Electronic Data Systems, and it also revealed that EDS' top-level management structure would remain largely unchanged.

HP had already made it clear that EDS president and CEO Ron Rittenmeyer, would continue in a leadership role. On Tuesday, it confirmed that Rittenmeyer's direct reports would include key executives from EDS continuing in their roles as vice presidents overseeing various regions of the world as well as functions such as global sales, transformation, outsourcing and marketing.

I completely missed the fact that HP was acquiring EDS… the announcement was made this past May and I only found out about it last month. EDS is a great company and I truly enjoyed the 16 years I spent working for them. It makes me a little sad to see they’re no longer independent, but then again, General Motors acquired EDS shortly after I joined the company and held it for a number of years before spinning it off and allowing the company to be independent, yet again.

My bottom line: I really don’t care who owns the company… just keep those checks coming in, please.


Here’s a great idea, at a great price… from the NYT, “Your Photos, Off the Shelf at Last.”

So if you, like millions before you, have a collection of prints somewhere, it’s probably crossed your mind that they really ought to be scanned — converted into digital files, both for protection and for ease of displaying. In that case, you, like millions before you, have probably even decided when you’ll do all that scanning: someday.

Because let’s face it: scanning hundreds or thousands of photos yourself, one at a time, on a home scanner, is a time drain the size of the Grand Canyon.

You could send them away to a company that does the scanning, but that’s incredibly expensive; most charge 50 cents or even $1 a photo.

You’d be forgiven, then, for raising an eyebrow at the offer made by a California company called It says it will professionally scan 1,000 photos for you, the same day it receives them, and put them on a DVD for $50.

So what’s the catch?

Actually, no catch, but lots of fine print.

Lots of detail, including the reporter’s experience with the service (he was pleased), at the link. I think I’ll stick to the do-it-yourself scanning. Once I get around to it, of course. Mr. Pogue’s point about the level of effort required to scan photos is very well-taken. And I’m lazy.


So… SN1 and I were discussing ‘puters today, and we both agreed that a Mac just might be in our future(s). There are more than a few reasons to switch from a PC to a Mac, not the least of which is the Mac’s relative invulnerability to viruses (virii?), ease of operation, yadda, yadda, yadda. After a bit of discussion, we decided to google the downside of Macs... coz there’s got to be something wrong with ‘em, right? And in so doing… we found this:

Well, OK, then. I might just stick with the PC. I mean, Hell… I do have 20+ years of experience with the Wintel conspiracy and no one has ever questioned my sexual preferences based on the computer I use… (Tongue planted firmly in cheek, as I type.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kinda Blah

Weekend Update… Well, the weekend was kinda-sorta a bust. Not that anything unusual or untoward happened, it was just…blah. The news seemed to be “All Biden – All the Frickin’ Time,” and that was much more than enough to put me off. And there were the usual hordes of Talking Heads swarming all over my teevee, telling me what to expect and what not to expect out of this week’s Dimwit Gathering in Denver… as if I actually gave a shit. As far as that goes, I really don’t care about NEXT week’s similar gathering in Minneapolis-St. Paul, for what that’s worth. Don’t get me wrong, Gentle Reader, I’m still paying attention. But it’s pretty damned hard to do, at this point. I’m burned out…nay, fried… on things political right now. I’m hoping something/anything will restore my interest, but I’m not all that hopeful.
The one bright spot in life, as I see it right now… the Olympics… are over. And what a bright spot it was! So many new world records; so many astounding feats of athleticism, beauty, and raw courage; so many individual moments of glory and crushing disappointments; such drama! And what a show it was, too, in both the technical and aesthetic senses. The Chinese definitely put their best foot forward and showed the world they are indeed a world-class player on the international stage… provided you don’t look behind the curtain, that is.
I watched last night’s Closing Ceremony twice… once during the prime-time tape-delayed broadcast, and then again when they re-ran the tape-delay during the overnight/late night broadcast. While the Closing Ceremony didn’t have the impact of the Opening Ceremony… I mean: how could it possibly?… it was certainly “good enough.” One got the inevitable “been there, done that” sort of feeling while watching the production, which is kinda an indicator of how rapidly we can become jaded these days. Or perhaps it’s an indicator of how rapidly I become jaded… I dunno. But here’s my take-away from last evening’s ceremony: brilliant. That, and Jimmy Page is old. Heh.
Digital photography is easy, right? Think again! It’s a lot harder than it looks… especially if you happen to be a photographer for National Geographic Magazine, on assignment to photograph Stonehenge for the magazine’s cover. The cover shot of Stonehenge on the left is the product of hours upon hours of work, including 42 hours of night-time shooting that didn’t yield photos worthy of NatGeo’s cover. But, as you can see from the results on the left, the photographer was ultimately… and spectacularly… successful.
Here is the final formula for the cover shot: Hasselblad Flexbody with 15mm of drop dialed in to a Phase One P45 back, ISO was set at 100, the lens was a Hasselblad Distagon 40mm set at f11, there were 12 SureFire lights aimed at the stones which were on for about 12 seconds during the 15 minute total exposure. Dressed in black, I then walked through the scene painting additional light on the stones to create some of edge highlights.
The whole story… including a couple of false starts, lots of technical detail, and more great photos… is related in the story “Shooting Stonehenge,” on NGM photographer Ken Geiger’s digital photography blog. It’s fascinating stuff.
Today’s Pic: Dipping into the archives for a picture of SN3 on an uncharacteristically gray and chilly day in Florida, in April of 2003. I took this photo at the east-bound rest area just across the Alabama-Florida state line on I-10. SN1, Grandson Sean, Bobby (who now demands to be called “Robert,” a sure-fire indication he’s growing up way too fast), and I were on our way to Cape Canaveral to attend the commissioning of the USS Mason (DDG87)… which happened to be SN2’s then-current ride. A Good Time was had by all, needless to say. The Navy knows how to throw a party!
Speaking of parties...
The locals loved the Mason, too. Or the money. One or the other... (insert Smiley-Face thingie here.)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Buck!

Anyone and everyone who is familiar with the works of Douglas Adams knows the significance of the number 42. But today the number means something just a little different to me (and more than a few others). Because it was 42 years ago today YrHmblScrb was pacing the floor of the day room at the 669th Radar Squadron on Vandenberg AFB, California… waiting, in the time honored fashion of countless fathers before him, for the phone call that would come from the VAFB hospital, telling me “Congratulations, Airman Pennington…you’re a father!”

I didn’t get to pace all that much, though, because I had hardly arrived in the day room when the phone rang and I received the anticipated message. The First Mrs. Pennington was in labor for all of about 30 minutes before Ivan Anthony Pennington arrived in this world… which is pretty danged good for one’s first-born. And... just in case you're wondering why I was in the day room and not the delivery room, Buck was born back in the day when fathers were barred from the delivery room birthing suite. I'll withhold comment on that subject.

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since August of 1966. I’ll repeat what I said last year on this occasion: “As the citations accompanying military awards and decorations always say: ‘By his significant accomplishments and superior performance, Captain Pennington has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.’ His wife, children, and parents, too.”

Happy Birthday, Buck!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

So... Why Wasn't Paulette at the Olympics?

Stolen from Phlegmmy, who got it from FHB. Too funny, eh?


Via Chap, something I missed in the WaPo last week: “A Son Goes Off To War.” Excerpt:

For generations, my family has sent sons off to war. The first, Jacob Zumwalt, lies in Fort Zumwalt, Mo., -- his headstone recognizes his military service in the American Revolution. The 20th century bore witness to a grandfather's service in World War I, World War II and Korea; a father's service in World War II, Korea and Vietnam; a brother's service in Vietnam; and my own in Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm.

Growing up, my brother and I were never told that we had an obligation to serve. It was by osmosis, through witnessing our father's sense of duty to country, that we felt compelled to do so.

Similarly, I never told my son, James, that he bore such an obligation. But I felt great pride when he, too, chose to serve.

Military service must be in our DNA. Even so, it is very difficult for a father to watch a son go off to war.

The first few paragraphs… especially those I’ve quoted above… resonate with me, a LOT. And why would that be? Well… SN1 and his unit are deploying to The Sandbox on September 2nd. It’s not like this is his first time, or anything, and the situation in-country is a whole helluva lot better than it’s ever been. Still and even: I’m a father, and Buck is my son. Worry is part of the territory. I've known about this upcoming deployment for some time now, but what I didn't know... and neither did Buck, until yesterday... was the exact date the unit was gonna saddle up and head out. We know now... and now is when the worry begins.

But, that said, Lt. Col. Zumwalt’s closing paragraph says it all, and says it well:

I shared one other thought with James. Having lost a grandfather, father and brother, I had come to believe all my heroes were gone. But I was wrong about this, too. In bidding my son farewell as he goes off to war, I realized I have been blessed with yet another hero.

What he said.

Today's Pic: Predictable, this. I have a LOT of pics of Buck...but I really like this one. Not so much for who's in the photo with Buck, it's ALL about the occasion and circumstance. The Dining-Out (and Dining-In) is a fine military tradition... and this pic just seems appropriate. YMMV, especially if your name is Erma. In which case, there's this pic:

Buck and Erm... at Buck's AMMOS graduation. This year, at Nellis AFB, NV.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sex in the City Village

Via Lex… something that will interest most everyone, unless I miss my guess. Excerpt:

I am often asked if the Olympic village - the vast restaurant and housing conglomeration that hosts the world's top athletes for the duration of the Games - is the sex-fest it is cracked up to be. My answer is always the same: too right it is. I played my first Games in Barcelona in 1992 and got laid more often in those two and a half weeks than in the rest of my life up to that point. That is to say twice, which may not sound a lot, but for a 21-year-old undergraduate with crooked teeth, it was a minor miracle.


Ah yes, the swimmers. For some reason the International Olympic Committee insists on bunching the swimming events towards the beginning of the Games with the inevitable consequence that the aquatics folk get going earlier - sexually I mean - than everyone else. So much so that, at the outset of the Sydney Olympics, Jonathan Edwards, a Christian and triple jumper extraordinaire, caused a ripple by telling them publicly to keep a lid on it. Edwards was simply concerned about getting woken up by creaking floorboards, but given his biblical credentials, it became a story about morality. Not that his intervention made a blind bit of difference.

So… does Michael Phelps’ mom know about this? Where is she staying? But leave us not digress. You’re just waiting for the link, ain’t ya? In The Times (UK): “Sex and the Olympic city.” There are more bennies at the Olympics than mere medals. So now we know why they train as hard (ahem) as they do.

Investigations, Private and Otherwise

Let's begin with 5:34 of guitar goodness from Mark Knopfler:

And now you know the inspiration for today's post title. This isn't one of Knopfler's better-known pieces, but I love the moodiness and semi-flamenco qualities of the guitar work (in places). Knopfler is simply one of the best...


I think a copy change just might be in order… due to recent events in Beijing:
Winner of four World Beer Cup medals and eight medals at the Great American Beer Fest, Abbey Belgian Ale is the Mark Spitz of New Belgium’s lineup - but it didn’t start out that way. When Jeff and Kim first sampled the beer at the Lyons Folks Fest, reviews were mixed at best. One of founder Jeff’s first two Belgian style homebrews (along with Fat Tire), Abbey is a Belgian dubbel (or double) brewed with six different malts and an authentic Belgian yeast strain. Abbey is bottle-conditioned, weighs in at 7.0% alcohol by volume, and pairs well with chocolate (or boldly served by itself) for dessert.
Don’t you?
I owe you an opinion about yesterday evening’s Happy Hour smoke, Gentle Reader. So: here it is.
What he said. The only significant difference in the review at the link and my experience being I had no problems whatsoever with the wrapper on my Titan. Nice photos in the review, too. The consensus opinion seems to be “great smoke, at a not-so-great price.” I’ll buy that…but not at $22.00 per.
Further to yesterday’s Happy Hour… I mentioned in yesterday’s post that Trippel is now The Beer of Choice here at El Casa Móvil De Pennington. There’s just one small problema. Given Trippel’s 7.8% alcohol by volume (ABV) content, and my current lighter-than-usual body state (“emaciated” might be the word I’m looking for), two of ‘em will put me dangerously close to Stage Five. I felt the warning signs after finishing off my first Trippel yesterday but had The Answer at hand, said answer being one single, solitary bottle of Mothership Wit lurking on the bottom shelf of the fridge. Mothership, with its 4.8% ABV, was much more fitting for the occasion and my diminished weight. And thus dinner was saved.
So… I take it back. Mothership Wit will be in regular rotation.
BEIJING (AP) — The International Olympic Committee said Friday it had asked gymnastics officials to investigate whether the Chinese women's gymnastics team that won the gold medal had underage athletes, saying "more information has come to light."
"We've asked the gymnastics federation to look into it further," IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said. "If there is a question mark and we have a concern, which we do, we ask the governing body of any sport to look into it."
The IOC, which also asked the Chinese gymnastics federation to investigate, would not give details on what new information prompted it to act now, three days after the gymnastics competition ended.
Chinese coach Lu Shanzhen told The Associated Press they gave the FIG new documents on Thursday to try to remove the doubts about He Kexin's age, including an old passport, a residency card and her current ID card.
He said all these documents were issued by various departments of the Chinese government and that he felt there was nothing more that they could do to put peoples' minds at ease.
The FIG has said repeatedly that a passport is the "accepted proof of a gymnast's eligibility," and that China's gymnasts have presented ones that show they are age eligible. The IOC also checked the girls' passports and deemed them valid.
Earlier this month, the AP found registration lists previously posted on the Web site of the General Administration of Sport of China that showed both He and Yang were too young to compete. He was born Jan. 1, 1994, according to the 2005, 2006 and 2007 registration lists. Yang was born Aug. 26, 1993, according to the 2004, 2005 and 2006 registration lists; in the 2007 registration list, however, her birthday has changed to Aug. 26, 1992.
If the FIG would find evidence supporting the questions that the gymnasts are underage, it could affect four of China's medals. In addition to the team gold and He's gold on bars, Yang won bronzes in the all-around and uneven bars.
As for the IOC and the FIG finding evidence of the gymnasts in question being under-age and actually doing something? I’m not holding my breath. What we have here are two sanctioning bodies, one of which (the FIG) is already on the record as verifying He’s age, going up against a big-ass state bureaucracy, perhaps THE biggest bureaucracy in the world. And the IOC has characterized the inquiry thusly:
International Olympic Committee spokeswoman Giselle Davies said today that while she wouldn't characterise it as a formal investigation, the IOC had gone back to the gymnastics federation and asked for further clarification on whether He Kexin was eligible to compete at the Beijing Olympics.
But it looks like the accusations are pretty well-founded, judging from the registration lists uncovered by the AP. If the IOC finds the Chinese gymnasts are underage (and thereby disqualified), then the US women’s team would be elevated to gold medal status, and Nastia Liukin would move up to gold from silver on the uneven bars. There would be additional medal status changes, as well… given that Yang won two bronze medals.
And who broke this story and put it “in the news?” A blogger by the name of Mike Walker. Good On Ya, Mike. You deserve your 15 minutes.
(photo: FanIQ)
(No, I'm not up early [or late, even, as in "all-niter"]. This is a scheduled post, thanks to Blogger's oh-so-groovy scheduling feature. I love it.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

(Minor) Bitches, Moans, and Complaints...

So… after four or five days of wonderfully balmy weather… for these parts, and I’m talking mid-70s to low-80s, in August (!)… it’s “back on your heads, coffee break’s over.” It’s supposed to be 92 today, and I believe we’re quite close to that as I peck out the oh-so-late Thursday post (we’re at 89, I just looked). Which means Happy Hour will be just a lil bit delayed, at least until the sun sinks low enough to be obscured by the trees. I’m looking forward to Happy Hour more than usual today, as the Brown Truck of Happiness stopped by early this afternoon and dropped off my latest shipment of cigars. It should be interesting, as I’m gonna fire up one of those pricey Gurkha Titans and see if the reality of the smoke matches its rather princely sum… which is about three times what I consider usual, customary, and reasonable. I’ll report back, either tomorrow or later today. Tomorrow is much more likely.
I posted a minor bitch last month about the Cannon AFB Class VI store, mostly about their piss-poor beer inventory and stocking practices. I had a follow-on conversation with the manager of the Class VI on the next beer run following my bitch-moan-complain post, and was told that Trippel (which they’d been out of for a month or so) was a “seasonal” beer and was routinely replaced by New Belgium’s Mothership Wit during the summer. (Minor digression: I bought a sixer of Mothership… and while it’s about as close to “light” beer as I get these days, it won’t become a regular occupant in my fridge, as it’s just too light for my tastes.)
So… imagine my surprise this past week when I see LOTS of Trippel on their shelves! Not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I quietly picked up two sixers of Trippel and just thanked my lucky stars, while simultaneously cursing the manager (under my breath, of course) for lying to me… apparently. Summer ain’t over, AFAIK, and all indications would seem to verify that fact, including New Belgium their-own-selves and my calendar. So why did that woman lie to me?
And, apropos of nothing, it’s Official: Trippel is now the Beer of Choice here at El Casa Móvil De Pennington. Fat Tire has been displaced. The King is dead. Long Live the King!
Here’s another brief “customer service” tale o’ woe…
Earlier this week I stopped into Subway and bought a sandwich. The clerk, a young 20-something woman... or possibly in her late teens... prepared my order and rang up my purchase. So far, so good.
My bill came to seven Yankee Dollars and 48 cents. I handed the clerk a Jackson, two quarters, a nickel and three pennies. My attempt at reducing the loose change in my pocket apparently confused the Hell out of her, as she looked at me quizzically as she deftly keyed in the amount tendered. You could actually see the light bulb go off over her head as she did so. But then we went downhill, and rapidly, at that. She handed me my dime in change and closed the cash register drawer. Before I could ask “where’s my 13 dollars?” she sez… “Oh, damn!” and then spends the next minute punching all SORTS of keys on the register in a vain attempt to re-open it. “You don’t have a ‘no sale’ key?” I ask. “No,” says she… still punching keys feverishly. Finally she sez “I’ll have to call the manager.” “Wait,” sez I… “sell me a cookie.” “Hunh?” says she. And then… it’s light bulb time, Part Deux. I hand the girl three pennies while laying a dollar bill on the counter. “It’s fifty-three cents,” says she. I heave a deep, deep sigh and tap the dollar bill on the counter, not wanting to confuse the issue further by asking her to take the price of the cookie out of my overdue 13 dollars in change. I’d probably still be at Subway, had I suggested that course of action…
Do I fear for the next generation and the nation, as a whole? Yes. Yes, I DO.