Monday, August 31, 2009

CDR Salamander Wins The Innernets...

... for hosting THE most entertaining comments section I've read in quite a while.  About this:

NOT safe for work... repeat NOT WORK SAFE... unless your workplace tolerates lotsa profanity, including the big mo'fo ... and lots of 'em, too.

But... back to the comments over at CDR Salamander's... wherein all the Old Salts, both O's and E's, come out of the woodwork to weigh in on the propriety of the above video.  Unbecoming, or not?  Good for morale, or not?  Indicative of the general decline of our culture, or not?  Decline of the Officer Corps (heh), or not?  "Never woulda happened in MY day," or not?  Opinions are shared, a minor flame war breaks out, and one person gets banned.

It don't get no better than that (I'm rather fond of this phrase today, no?) on the innernets, Gentle Reader.  Well, the military innernets, anyhoo.

About that vid:  I think it's pretty danged funny.  But then... I would.  But you knew that, Gentle Reader, dint ya?

Right Now

We had about three hours of solid, steady rain last night... from around 2300 hrs until just after 0200.  And this is what we look like this morning:
El Casa Móvil De Pennington

My windows are wide open, the air is unbelievably clean and sweet smelling, there's a slight (10 mph) breeze, the temp is 64 degrees, and the coffee is hot and fresh. 

Out front of El Casa Móvil... looking east.

My Baby after she went through God's Own Car Wash.  Ain't she purty?

I'm thinking Monday mornings just don't get much better than this.  (Added, after some thought: unless you get an "eye opener" while the coffee's brewing.  And THEN it don't... can't... get any better.)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thin Line

So... we heard one of our favorite Kinks tunes this morning on our Very Expensive Radio and went looking for it on YouTube... only to find this:

I say "only," coz The Sopranos ain't exactly in keeping with the political sentiment of this song.  There is a much better video to go along with the tune on YT, but once again: "embedding disabled by request."  More's the pity, that, because the video is done in gorgeous black and white, features EXCELLENT imagery, and the song's ending isn't truncated.  But... back to the song itself.  I do realize the song is Anglo-centric, but the message is more than applicable to these United States.  The beauty of the song is in its politically androgynous nature... meaning you can take what you want from it, be you Left or Right.  Me... I prefer to think this is all about the demise of Classical Liberalism (as opposed to the damnable co-opting of the term by Progressive Liberals) and core American (and English!) values.  Your mileage may vary, but I hope it doesn't.


Our weather forecast here on The High Plains of New Mexico calls for unusually moderate temps, what with a predicted high of only 82.  It's 79 warm and pleasant degrees as we peck this blurb out, our windows are wide open, and soft breezes are floating in, out, and around our shoulders as we finish up the "morning" coffee.  We're gonna try and live on a climatic Thin Line today (heh... there's the title tie-in), which is to say without air conditioning.  About which... it will be MUCH easier to do if we spend the majority of our time outdoors.  So... we shall quit mucking about on this peesee, crank up the volume on the Allman Bros, and take the last of the coffee on the verandah.  With cigar.

I hope your weekend is progressing famously, Gentle Reader.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Last Word...

... about Ted Kennedy belongs to Mark Steyn:
We are enjoined not to speak ill of the dead. But, when an entire nation – or, at any rate, its "mainstream" media culture – declines to speak the truth about the dead, we are certainly entitled to speak ill of such false eulogists. In its coverage of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's passing, America's TV networks are creepily reminiscent of those plays Sam Shepard used to write about some dysfunctional inbred hardscrabble Appalachian household where there's a baby buried in the backyard but everyone agreed years ago never to mention it.
You most definitely should read the whole thing.  Steyn is by far one of the most articulate voices on the right, if not THE most articulate. And he speaks for me... mainly coz I take Mom's counsel seriously.

(h/t:  Lex)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ah... It's Come to This

As it usually does.  Somehow I always seem to end up my evenings with "Exile on Main Street"...
I'm the man who walks the hillside in the sweet summer sun.
I'm the man that brings you roses when you aint got none.
Well I can run and jump and fish, but I wont fight
You if you want to push and pull with me all night.

Give me little drink from your loving cup.
Just one drink and I'll fall down drunk.
We first heard "Exile" when we were in Beautiful Sinop-By-The Sea once upon a time in the way-back.  This is one of our favorite tunes off the album and we played it to frickin' death, either in our part-time gig as disc jockey or at numerous parties, all while belting out the lyrics and playing air guitar on various and sundry occasions... sometimes even in the company of beautiful round-eyed wimmen.
I feel so humble with you tonight,
Just sitting in front of the fire.
See your face dancing in the flame,
Feel your mouth kissing me again,
What a beautiful buzz, what a beautiful buzz,
What a beautiful buzz, what a beautiful buzz.
Oh, what a beautiful buzz, what a beautiful buzz.
Much later in life we would put the album on the turntable and listen with our Main Squeeze... reveling in its wonderfulness... with or without benefit of a fireplace.  I have to admit it was much better with fire, as there's a certain synergy that occurs in the moment with "see your face dancing in the flame"... but t'is another story (or stories)... that.
Yes, I am nitty gritty and my shirts all torn,
But I would love to spill the beans with you till dawn.

Give me little drink from your loving cup.
Just one drink and Ill fall down drunk.
These days we play the album mostly in the car and always on occasions when we get deep into our memories and reminisce on our dearly departed youth.  Like tonight.  And we can't help but think of those nights past when we did indeed "spill the beans til dawn."  Oh, my.  Yes.

What a beautiful buzz... what a beautiful buzz.

Earlier This Evening (or: Cheesy Videos XII)

After dinner whiskey hour at El Casa Móvil De Pennington, under pink/deepening blue New Mexico skies shortly after sunset.  This time of day is magical, in that there is a diffused pink glow in the sky about a half hour after sunset that is reminiscent of a salmon's belly... among other things.  And by that I mean there's pink... and then there's PINK.

It takes quite a while for this celestial pink to fade to deepening shades of blue, and even longer for those shades of blue to fade to black.  The greatest thing about the changing evening sky in these parts is watching the first and brightest of the stars emerge... and if you stay out long enough you'll be rewarded by seeing more stars than you ever thought possible.

It's lovely.

An Anniversary

Janis once sang...
 It ain’t much, no, no honey it ain’t much,
Oh, it’s only every little thing,
Just-a everything, everything
Ah yeah.
But Janis was talking about "One Good Man" when she sang that.  Me... I'm on about an anniversary.  This anniversary "ain't much" in the grand scheme of things but it IS "every little thing," to me.  It was 46 years ago today I raised my right hand and swore the following oath:
I, Norman E. Pennington, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
 John Kennedy was president on that day, Pat Brown was the governor of California (from whence I entered service), The Ronettes' "Be My Baby" was on its way to the top of the pop charts, and I was on my way to Lackland AFB.  Martin Luther King, Jr. was still alive and well (today is also the 46th anniversary of his "I Have a Dream" speech) and Watts was yet to burn.  Vietnam was buried in the back pages of the newspapers if and when it was mentioned at all, and the Gulf of Tonkin Incident had yet to occur.  America was a much different place than it is today, yet it was still the same.

I was a much different person then, too... yet I'm still the same.  But August 28, 1963 was the watershed moment in my life.  A lot of water has gone over the dam and under the bridge since that day but I still define myself as a non-commissioned officer, even after all this time.  I find this passing strange in that I was arguably much more successful in civilian life than in the Air Force... assuming one uses responsibility, compensation, and positions in the corporate hierarchy as yardsticks.  While those civilian accomplishments were obviously important to me and to my happiness, they pale in memory and by comparison to my Air Force experiences.  Funny, that.

So... today was the day we began.  Here's how we ended:

The Second Mrs. Pennington is on the left and that's my commander, Colonel Taylor, shaking my hand.  It's not a good picture, what with it being a lil ragged around the edges, but it's the best we got... sorta like my career, appropriately enough.


I'm an American... first, foremost, and always.  But if I HAD to live somewhere else, it might could be in The Great White Up:

Heh.  Yeah, Toronto wouldn't be all THAT bad... except for the fact the Leafs suck.  Maybe Vancouver would be more like it... it's warm, they have a great Chinatown (food!!), and the Canucks might could be contenders.  About which, Gentle Reader, hockey season is ALMOST upon us.  It can't get here soon enough.

(h/t: Kukla's Korner)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Right Now...

It's Happy Hour here on The High Plains of New Mexico and we've spent the last half-hour of same watching and listening to this guy orbit over P-Ville (click for larger):
I can't tell which flavor of C-130 this is... it might could be a gunship or a Compass Call.  Either way, the sight and sound of this bird is MOST pleasing to my eyes and ears.... or, "The Sound of Freedom"... as those of us in the bid'niz of breaking things and killin' people what needs killin' are wont to say.  I'm actually beginning to like the sound of these 130s... as opposed to loving the sound of the Fast-Movers that used to live in these parts.  It's all good.

And now... the usual closure for posts of these sorts... it's back outside to continue as we've begun.

An Indiscreet Revelation

Personal correspondence this evening:

fromBuck Pennington 
toMy Friend
dateWed, Aug 26, 2009 at 11:54 PM
subjectRe: a P.S.

From the blog:

That said, I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention today's media blitz, or the "we'll beat you to frickin' DEATH with this, whether you like it or don't."  I'm talking about the death of Senator Kennedy, of course.  The worst thing about all this usual, customary, and UNreasonable overkill is the fact Fox News Channel canceled last night's Red Eye in favor of running the same damned 30-second video clips and inane comments from "those that knew him best" over and over and over.  That hurt me.  I'm not kidding... because just who the Hell is up at 0300 hrs (EDT) in the morning except for us Red Eye junkies?  Answer:  No one.  And Red Eye junkies couldn't care LESS about Teddy.

But:  RIP, Teddy.  I couldn't possibly have disagreed more with your politics and found you supremely lacking in personal judgment (not to mention ethics) early in your career... but Mom always told me not to speak ill of the dead.  I'm only bending her rule here, not breaking it.  My condolences to the family and those others who loved him.

It's a public space and I'm always playing the "moderate," which is just the way I'm built, thanks to Mom.  But, aside from being pissed Red Eye was preempted, I had this vision of Mary Jo Kopechne greeting him at the Pearly Gates and just beating the living dogshit out of him with what ever's handy while St. Peter looked on, approvingly.  The asshat is on Charlie Rose as I speak, ruining what is otherwise normally a good show.  To be expected, tho... all day, every damned day until they plant him in Arlington (Frickin' travesty, that) on Saturday.

Yet again: sigh.

- Hide quoted text -
On Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 11:41 PM, My Friend wrote:

Was it just me or did hearing about the last of the dead Kennedys
(Mr. A Blond in Every Pond)  just somehow make your day?  
Maybe I am just too sentimental but I got this warm and fuzzy
feeling of long delayed justice.   Awww, yes, it was good for me. 
 Did he  really say that (and that would be ME, Gentle Reader, taking the editorial liberty of addressing ourselves in the second or third person)?  Nah... couldn't BE, could it?  (insert smiley-face thingie here)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Taking the Gentle Reader's Advice

Said Gentle Reader would be Moogie... who sez in comments to my early morning post:
Put you feet (and typing fingers) up for a little respite. See ya next time! 
So:  I think I will.  Put my feet up.  Burn a cigar... or mayhap two... seeing as how we're fat in the humidor department once again, having received another shipment of fine stogies about an hour ago.  And the fridge is well-stocked, too.  In short:  We have all the ingredients required for a lazy man to pass a nice sunny summer afternoon here on The High Plains of New Mexico in a pleasant manner.

That said, I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention today's media blitz, or the "we'll beat you to frickin' DEATH with this, whether you like it or don't."  I'm talking about the death of Senator Kennedy, of course.  The worst thing about all this usual, customary, and UNreasonable overkill is the fact Fox News Channel canceled last night's Red Eye in favor of running the same damned 30-second video clips and inane comments from "those that knew him best" over and over and over.  That hurt me.  I'm not kidding... because just who the Hell is up at 0300 hrs (EDT) in the morning except for us Red Eye junkies?  Answer:  No one.  And Red Eye junkies couldn't care LESS about Teddy.

But:  RIP, Teddy.  I couldn't possibly have disagreed more with your politics and found you supremely lacking in personal judgment (not to mention ethics) early in your career... but Mom always told me not to speak ill of the dead.  I'm only bending her rule here, not breaking it.  My condolences to the family and those others who loved him.

Another Re-Run

I had occasion to go searching out these pics last night, as I knew they were all in one place and I had need of 'em.   I figger only about two of you Gentle Readers have ever seen these before, given the age of the original post.  Ergo, re-run.


Taking the day off today (ed: 8/26/2009 - not really). But…just for fun…here’s a study in contrasts.

In the first two pics: friends Catherine (left), Amy (right) and I in Santa Fe, May 2005.

First pic: On the Plaza in the morning, sober as three judges.
Second pic: (Much) Later that same day in a local cantina towards the end of the evening. Take your best guess as to our sobriety. Much fun had by all.

Pics one and two were taken by good friend Cory, who's on the right in pic three.
I think the contrast is amusing... if nothing else.  Well, there's a lot else... specifically: three beautiful women.  Amy, Catherine and I were co-workers at the small firm I worked for in SFO from 2000 - 2002; Cory was Amy's roommate once upon a time.  And all three women are a riot to party with!  As you might can tell from the contents of our table... mucho tequila fue bebido esta noche!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Waiting For Godot... in Portales

Sometimes abject laziness simply does NOT pay off.  Case in point (click for larger):
So much for being too lazy to drive over to The Big(ger) City©... about a 40-mile round trip...  just to get the preferred (and ONLY) salsa consumed here at El Casa Móvil De Pennington.  I could have frickin' walked to ABQ and back in the time it's taken for least-cost delivery (which, as of this writing, is yet to arrive).  But then there's that laziness thing...

Also note:  I will be consuming well-traveled salsa over the course of the next couple o' few...   all the way from Albuquerque by way of Colorado and Texas.  Oh, yes.  We are efficient, we are.  God only knows what this has done to my carbon footprint... I should be ashamed.  But I'm not.  I'm just irritated my salsa isn't here yet.

Update, 1545 hrs:  Ummm... Houston... El Casa Móvil De Pennington here.  Everything is a go... we have salsa.  And recipes! 


Ain't technology GRAND?  I agree with most everything in the above video and use most of the services therein (or have at least tried them), with the exception of Facebook (I deactivated my account months ago) and Flickr (which I just don't see the need for).   

The one thing that shocked me?  Boston College not giving out e-mail addresses.  E-mail may be passė in some circles, but it's still an essential communication tool for most of us.  Then again, one would imagine incoming freshmen already have e-mail anyway... so I can understand why BC wouldn't want to spend the money.  Infrastructure ain't cheap.


Memory, on the other hand, most certainly IS cheap these days.  Witness:

That's a screen-shot from one of those Amazon love letters we all get.  I've gone on the record as spending about three hunnert Yankee Dollars for my first hard drive in the way-back.  All ten megabytes of it.  Yup... technology IS grand, innit?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Just a Sultry Summer's Day

Well... mayhap not so much on the "sultry" side, as our humidity is only 27%.  I think sultry would kick in if we were over 50%.  But it IS hot (95 big ol' New Mexico degrees) and the wind is high enough that I can't put my awning down to protect El Casa Móvil De Pennington from the hot stare of full sun.  And hot it IS, Gentle Reader... which causes the AC to labor more than it should.  T'is a minor issue, this.

Here are some reasons I think the day is sultry... or at the very least significant contributors to that perception:

We have extremely dynamic skies today... which is to say they're exhibiting that rapid state of atmospheric transition, where the clouds marching towards the horizon quickly change formation... some merge with the element to their left or right, some increase their interval from the others in a front-to-back manner, while still others decide they want to soar just a little bit higher than their cloud buddies.  There is absolutely no discipline in evidence, but it sure makes for some fun observation.

The views above were all taken in and around Beautiful La Hacienda Trailer Park.  The left hand shot is looking southwest down US 70 towards Roswell, the power pole shot is looking in the same southwest direction but is on the dirt road at the rear of BLHTP (that's USAF family housing on the right), and the landscape-oriented photo is looking NNW from the same dirt road.

And now that I've broadened your horizons, Gentle Reader... in some cases quite literally, I'm sure... it's time to call Happy Hour.  Prosit!

Happy Birthday Buck!

SN1 is 43 today... doing his bit to make his Dear Ol' Da feel like what he truly is, i.e., The OLD Man.  But what goes around comes around and I would be remiss if I didn't remind all both you Gentle Readers SN1 is a grandfather.  Payback, and all that.

The pic is the most recent one we could find (given we're tired of posting his Official USAF Mug Shot, which we've used for the last two years running)... and that would be Buck standing on the deck of the control tower at Joint Base Balad, back in November of last year.  Good looking dude, ain't he?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Right Now, or... Self-Evident

Happy Hour, just moments ago... a self-portrait titled "Self-Evident." Click for larger if you can't read my shirt.

We have an open seat or two if you'd like to join us... and plenty of beer in the fridge. We could talk about Sarah Palin or some other similarly mindless subject... whatevah. It would be fun. And now, back outside... to continue as we've begun (yet again).

Does A Body Good...

Frequent visitors to EIP know I have a habit of chasing up Site Meter data from time to time... just to see how googlers got here, for the most part. I did just that this morning for someone who landed at EIP after they googled "detroit red wings symbol." This is what the search results look like:

Imagine my surprise... EIP is number seven out of about 148,000 hits, and the official Red Wings site ain't even on the first page. I never cease to wonder about Google's search algorithms... but I'm certainly pleased with the results.

So... I chased up this link while perusing the search results above, and I may have found my dream girl:

If by chance you should be reading this... and I'm talking to YOU, Stephanie... give me a call. Stat!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ummm... OK

I wasn't sure quite how I'd address this... or even IF I would mention it at all. But, what the Hell:
August 19, 2009—"Joking" comments of Army Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of US Central Command, during his presentation at the Marine Corps Association Foundation dinner on July 30 belittled the contributions of the Air Force to the joint force.
In his prepared remarks, Petraeus said: "Then, of course, 25,000 feet above them [soldiers and marines], an Air Force pilot flips aside his ponytail and looks down at them through his cockpit as he flies over. 'Boy,' he radios his wingman, 'It must be tough down there.' "
We reviewed the video to get his actual remarks and found he embellished his "joke," changing the altitude to 30,000 feet and saying, "… an Air Force pilot flips aside his ponytail—I don't know how that got in there; I know they haven't had ponytails in a year or two—and looks down … ."
Petraeus, as leader of CENTCOM, the joint force charged with running operations in Southwest Asia, should have known better than to make such disparaging remarks, even in jest. Certainly, his handlers at CENTCOM finally realized the effect they would have—they excised that part of his remarks from the version on the CENTCOM Web site. (We found the original version—along with the video—still posted on Aug. 19 at the Marine Corps Association Web site.)
In all fairness, early in his actual remarks, Petraeus did offer this joint praise, saying, "The best examples of true importance have been found in our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who have deployed in harm's way."
However, those words do not alleviate the offensiveness—and un-jointness—of his later comments. They are symptomatic of the long-held belief of many ground commanders that airpower is no longer, if it ever was, relevant. (Read Fraudulent Flak from the September 2000 Air Force Magazine.)
Well, now. It seems USAF's senior leadership is not only politically-correct to a fault, but they're a bit thin-skinned, too. The title of the piece in Air Force Magazine is "Beyond Outrageous," but I'd like to suggest to those taking offense that a joke is sometimes... just a joke. Or is it just me who finds this sorta affected outrage to be excessive? I hope not.
Update, 08-22-2009: Just for snark's sake... would you look at all the frickin' HARDWARE on The Good General's uniform?
Ridiculous. Our generals look like Panamanian dictators these days; our admirals much less so, Thank God. Marine generals are much like our admirals... so I'll give them a qualified pass, as well. All this embellishment on our military uniforms is strangely reminiscent of a culture in decline. Just sayin'.


After many, many months... if not a year or two... of prompting, cajoling and myriad not-so-subtle hints, long-time Occasional Reader Jimmy T is up and running in the Blogosphere with "Voice From the Noise." (Nice pic of ABQ above, eh?)

If you've been visiting EIP for any length of time you know Jimmy... along with his war stories, insights, and just all-around Good Guy nature. And now he's added his "voice to the noise."

Why dontcha drop on by his place and give him a big welcome? You'll be pleased...

Update: Andy, in comments, sez:
"I'll just wait for you to have your moment of clarity, instead of saying 'Where's the link?'" Dang. Blush. Fixed. Yet another instance of "don't attempt anything until you're fully caffeinated." And now to pour my second cup.

Heroes... Just For One Day

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can be Heroes, just for one day
We can be us, just for one day
We did an extended Happy Hour this past evening, given as how the wind died down late in the evning and the temps were oh-so-moderate, bordering on chilly. Now…who'd a thunk that… the "chilly" bit, I mean. But it's true… and I digress, as ever and always. You'll note I've embedded Bowie and quoted one small bit of the lyrics to "Heroes." There's a reason for that, of course.

First and foremost… we had our windows open and our Very Expensive Radio (aka our peesee) cranked up so as to furnish an appropriate soundtrack for the after-dinner whiskey and cigar extravaganza. And then there was this moment in time... which would be the middle tune in this series of three:

Which got us to thinking… a dangerous pursuit in the best of times, but more so when we're (nearly) in our cups than at any other time. Or close. We were thinking, specifically, about the lyrics to "Heroes"… which we've committed to memory in that strange way reserved only for rock 'n' roll tunes but somehow escapes us for shit that truly matters, like our grandchildren's birthdays. I was wondering if we (all of us) understand what it means to be "heroes, just for one day."

I've had more than a few occasions where I... or we... were heroes just for one day, but never considered them as such until this evening. This moment comes to mind:

That fuzzy and almost indistinct image would be YrHmblScrb holding SN3, only an hour or so after SN3 entered this world. We were heroes at that moment, The Second Mrs. Pennington and I. And SN3, too.

Or this:
That would be SN2, The First Mrs. Pennington, SN1, and grandson Sean… on the occasion of SN1's commissioning back in 2000. TFMP and I were heroes just for that day… celebrating our first-born's accomplishment and the fact that our second-born had sworn SN1 into the officer corps… and bursting with pride we were, despite our difficult past and considerable angst with each other.

There are others, of course, most of which we have no photographic record. And most of those events are minor… mundane, even... such as the time my buds and I walked off the hill at Doi Inthanon, Thailand after a hard day of raising the search radar antenna at a long range radar site we (a USAF Engineering & Installations [E&I] team out of Yokota AB, Japan) were building for the Royal Thai Air Force. Raising that antenna was a milestone in a long and difficult installation… and we celebrated by unfurling a home-made banner on the radar antenna… a huge thing cobbled up out of bedsheets, emblazoned with our makeshift "Baker and Sons Radar Installations" logo, and visible throughout the radar station. That banner was a thing we spent the entire evening admiring, all while hoisting many Singhas in celebration… accompanied by team members from the various E&I disciplines deployed with us… radio, telephone, construction… among others. A victory of sorts, and one to be celebrated. Once again… we were heroes, just for one day.

There have been many, many more... most of 'em minor… like when The Second Mrs. Pennington and I had a couple of drinks in this way-cool little bar in Rochester, NY to celebrate the closing on the next-to-last house we ever bought together… but all of 'em significant in their own way.

I suppose my point is we should celebrate these victories whenever they happen… and recognize that ALL of us can indeed be "heroes, just for one day." I spent the better part of last evening reminiscing and celebrating those victories, small as they may be. Yep… we were heroes, just for one day.

Bowie had it right.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I'm In Deep Kimchee

A friend sends this along...
Democrats, realizing the success of the President's "Cash For Clunkers" rebate program, have revamped a major portion of their National Health Care Plan.
President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Sen. Reid are expected to make this major announcement at a joint news conference later this week. I have obtained an advanced copy of the proposal which is named....
"CASH FOR CODGERS" and it works like this... Couples wishing to access health care funds in order to pay for the delivery of a child will be required to turn in one old person. The amount the government allocates will be fixed according to a sliding scale. Older and more prescription dependent codgers will garner the highest amounts.
Special "Bonuses" will be paid for those submitting codgers in targeted groups, such as smokers, alcohol drinkers, persons 10 pounds over their government prescribed weight, and any member of the Republican Party.
Smaller bonuses will be given for codgers who consume beef, soda, fried foods, potato chips, lattes, whole milk, dairy products, bacon, Brussel sprouts, or Girl Scout Cookies.
All codgers will be rendered totally useless via toxic injection. This will insure that they are not secretly resold or their body parts harvested to keep other codgers in repair.
My highlighted emphasis added... if only to demonstrate the title of this post. Or: we be almost completely screwed. Why does this NOT surprise me? Altogether now: Heh!


Apropos of the post below... we're just in from an abbreviated Happy Hour, which we held on the shady-side of El Casa Móvil De Pennington. I don't often sit on the shady-side as it's in close proximity to my neighbor and I don't want to intrude on his privacy. But sometimes extreme conditions call for extreme measures... which is to say we really wanted (needed?) a beer and a cigar. Today's Happy Hour was quite pleasant, actually. It's almost cool outside at the moment and the (ahem) breeze was quite nice. To a point, of course.


It's not a nice day here on The High Plains of New Mexico. You know that ol' sayin' that goes "into each life some rain may fall?" Well, here on THPoNM it's "into each life some dust may blow." Not some, actually... but a whole frickin' LOT. And it was much worse than indicated in the graphic above a lil bit earlier. Not worse as in a haboob, but still kinda bad. The air definitely had a brown/tan tinge to it.

No Happy Hour today, unless things calm down considerably. But they might do just that around sundown. We have our hopes up, Gentle Reader.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009


About which... I'm a great fan. You know... stuff like this:

I've linked to Blog-Sister (Blog-Niece? Blog-Friend?) Jesse on several occasions in the past and almost always for her photography, seeing as how that's her stated purpose, i.e., "A picture paints a thousand words, and I'm too lazy to write. So a blog of pictures seemed the way to go..."

Well, yeah.

The biggest aspect of successful photography lies not in the technical skill required to manipulate the tools. Oh, no. It's in the "eye," and Jesse has an eye that is well and truly unique. The proof is in the pudding, as it's said... and as represented above. Granted... Jesse is subject rather than object in the above photo, but it was her "mind's eye" that set up the pic above. One could spend hours perusing her archives (and her pictures of Scotland come to mind, immediately) and I most certainly have.


(Printed with permission.)

Say What?

My knee-jerk reaction to this e-mail I received from my Tri-Care provider a few minutes ago (click for larger) was a hearty "WTF?" And it kinda-sorta still IS. While I recognize there is a bona-fide need for mental health services... and I assume that's what the clunky euphemism "Tele-Behavorial Health Care" really means... I'm not at all convinced it can or should be done via video conference. Isn't it hard for a counselor to be empathetic on a computer screen? Or for someone in need to discuss their issues on a webcam, for that matter?

Technology ain't the answer to every issue that comes down the pike. Human interaction is both desirable and necessary in some cases, and this is one. Sometimes a simple touch of the hand and a silent, knowing nod says more... and is worth much more... than any number of words coming out of a speaker. I hope this idea has a quick and early death.

Victory At Sea

I've been spending quite a bit of time on YouTube of late... watching old episodes of "Victory at Sea," which is in the public domain these days. Watching is a little harder than it sounds, given that all the episodes aren't in one place and the quality of some uploads sucks, to be frank. Nonetheless it's worth the effort to chase up the episodes, both for the historical content and most especially the MUSIC. The piece above introduced every installment of "Victory," and still raises goosebumps on my arms when I hear it. I'm funny like that. Me and Richard Nixon.

I was too young to watch the series when it was first-run fare... that and the fact my parents and I were on our way overseas for a five year sojourn as the series wound up. But I was 13 when we returned to the US of A in 1958, and "Victory" was in re-runs... on Sunday mornings, if I recall correctly. I would park myself on the floor in front of the teevee in my quiet Sunday morning house... me usually being the only soul awake at that time... and watch two back-to-back episodes in awe and wonder. It was "can't miss teevee" for me, and I watched every single episode, many of 'em more than once, too.

A couple of things come to mind here. First... can you imagine NBC producing such a series today? And running it in prime-time without commercial interruption? Second... can you imagine the American public (beyond 13-year old boys) having enough interest to watch all 26 episodes?

Me neither.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Little While Ago

Tonight's sunset... or thereabouts... it's actually about 20 or 30 minutes before sunset. We had some fairly strong thunderstorms that passed to the north of us this evening and I thought we might see some mammatus clouds... and we kinda-sorta did. But they never morphed into those amazing formations one sees elsewhere. The colors tonight were good, though.

Looking southeast. This shot was taken at nearly the same instant (-17 seconds) as the one below... the only difference is I changed the shutter speed from 1/80th sec (this shot) to...

... 1/320th sec. Both shots at ASA 400, shutter-priority mode. This shot is closer to reality... where the color is concerned... as seen with the naked eye.

Looking northwest, a bit later than the shots above. If you "click for larger" you can see mammatus trying to form.

Umm... No, Officer... How Fast WAS I Going?

The SR-71A Blackbird that is part of the Air Force Flight Test Center Museum at Edwards AFB, Calif., is towed over public roads to the base’s corrosion control facility for refurbishment, Aug, 8, 2009. This aircraft, serial number 17955, will have its sun-damaged paint redone in time for Edwards’ air show and open house in October 2009. Air Force photo by TSgt. Trisha Winters

From the Edwards AFB web site:
8/13/2009 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Motorists traveling along Lancaster and Rosamond Boulevard early Saturday morning were greeted with "the world's fastest traffic jam" as the Air Force Flight Test Center Museum's SR-71A (ed: link added) Blackbird made its way to the Center's Corrosion Control Facility.

Members of the 412th Maintenance Inspection Branch came out early to tow the museum aircraft.

Team Edwards members from security forces and civil engineering were on hand to make sure the SR-71's transit was unhindered by roadway obstructions and drivers who found themselves sharing the road with the world's fastest aircraft.

The SR-71, serial number 17955, left the museum's airpark to have its sun-damaged paint redone by the expert craftsmen working at the base paint shop and will be on display at the Edwards Flight Test Nation Air Show and Open House Oct. 17.
I'd have liked to have seen that!

Apropos of not much... I lived on Edwards for a short while in the way-back before moving into base housing on
Boron Air Force Station sometime in 1970 or so. Not my best USAF assignment, by any means. It was HOT, Gentle Reader... but the dirt bike riding was spectacular, to say the very least.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Flogging the Dead Horse

Alison, in comments… sez:
Do you ever wonder what she is doing now the woman you spent the night with? It sounds almost romantic or maybe that's me being naive..(probably)
Not naïve at all. It was romantic, if you can believe it… and I hope you do. And yes… I've often thought about that woman… and others like her. Often. And always somewhat wistfully, too. Allow me to digress and amplify…
That particular reminiscence was kinda-sorta typical, in my experience (emphasis on "my") but atypical in the sense that it was close to being my very first such experience and was with a woman with whom I most definitely "hit it off." I don't recall anything that ever equaled that night, in those circumstances. At the risk of flattering myself, I was something of a hard-sell in what was a buyer's market in Southeast Asia, at the time. Which is to say there were many women and few Johns, which required a certain amount of effort on the part of those women who wanted to "make the rent" that evening, so to speak. It might also come as a minor surprise that I wasn't looking for the typical "wham-bam-thank-ya-Ma'am" experience… I wanted "quality," self-defined as fun with a woman who could be "in" to the experience in as much as possible, given the circumstances.
So… to make a long story somewhat shorter, there was some "courtship" involved, if only in the brief conversation… usually measured in the space of an hour or so… that could take place in a crowded noisy bar. And there were times when one paid the "bar fine" (a small amount of money paid to the madam [or "the management" of the bar where your friend worked] to secure the girl for the evening) and left the premises to have dinner and/or spend an evening "out on the town" before retiring to one's hotel. This happened more often than not, believe it or don't.
There was also a certain amount of "gut feel" involved in the selection process. I was looking more for empathy than physical attributes in my encounters, if that makes any sense. Which also made me the subject of a lot of good-natured ribbing from my partners-in-crime, as I was known for selecting older women and most often women whom I described as "substantial" (which is to say curvy), rather than the young and nubile. We know what we like…
Now… that said… I should also mention that more than a few of the women who worked the bars in Angeles City in the Philippines and other well- or lesser-known locations wound up marrying GIs. A lot of the guys who were "permanent party" at Clark AB in the Philippines, U-Tapao AB in Thailand, and all points in between… Okinawa, Japan, Taiwan… had "permanent" girlfriends who began as one-night stands and ended up as wives. A LOT of those marriages worked out pretty well, too. Granted there were those women who were only looking for a meal-ticket and divorced their husbands once they were safely established in the "Land of the Big BX," but I'm thinking those cases were in the minority. It might amaze you… the collective "you"… how many of these sorts of marriages were made. I know of more than a few, and spent many a happy evening in the homes of guys who made such relationships work. A lot of women working in the bars outside the US bases in SEA grabbed the brass ring on the carousel that made up our respective existences, back in the day.
But then… on the other hand… there were probably many, many more broken hearts on the part of the women who grabbed for that brass ring and missed. Many. I also knew a few of 'em, and my heart goes out to those women, to this day. Speaking of that… a former Marine made a series of guest posts at Lex's place that describes… in great and poignant detail… one such love affair in the context of his broader military experiences in the PI. These sorts of tales are relatively few and far between, as most men who found themselves in those circumstances don't talk openly about the experience. Here's one such post, and here's the epilog from the series. Many of ASM826's posts were truncated in Lex's migration to his new platform, but that's small beer… as enough remain to make a good evening's read, if one has the incentive to do such a thing (here's the search term and its results, if interested). I'm just glad I got to read those posts in real-time, in the not-so-long ago. The memories came flooding in, and they were sweet memories, indeed.
You hadda be there… and God really and truly blessed you in a manner of speaking, if you were.
Photo credit: Clark AB website, circa the 1970s. Strangely enough… we were in and out of Clark at that point in time. Imagine that.

"Never Apologize, Never Explain"*

*Widely quoted, and most often attributed to John Wayne, in the 1949 film She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, written by Frank S. Nugent and Laurence Stallings. The line is spoken by The Duke and the exact quote is "Never apologize and never explain--it's a sign of weakness." But there are many others who have used the line, and its original source remains debatable. Being the anal-retentive pedant that we ARE, we just had to get that out of the way right up front. But, like Lucy when confronted by Ricky, I feel a lil bit o' "splainin" is in order about Saturday's post. There will be no apologizing, however.

First: It was a lil over three and a half years ago when I went on the record with this statement:

"The Second Mrs. Pennington almost literally saved my life. I was headed down a bad road when I met this woman; she turned me around and is, in large part, responsible for who I became and who I am today."

That's a true fact. Those anecdotes of mine in Saturday's post that illustrated blatantly illegal and/or immoral behavior (immoral in the Judeo-Christian sense, more about which below) happened before I committed to TSMP, for the most part… the one glaring exception being The Great European Divorce Tour of 1999. The Divorce Tour seemed like a good ideer at the time (like most foolhardy adventures) and it was… in large part. I wasn't in anything like my right mind after all that crap went down and it was good to get away… "clear the mind," "lose yourself," all that psychobabble stuff. It was, however, arguably bad judgment to think I could re-live some of the seamier aspects of my misspent youth.

The foregoing does NOT include hanging out in A-Dam's coffee shops, by the way. That was as enjoyable as it ever was, but only for the conversation that was in it, yanno? (tongue, meet cheek... cheek, tongue) The other salient fact is that most of life is spent in the vertical rather than the horizontal plane. And I had never seen Prague before… or drank a Budvar. Make that many Budvars, and other interesting brews. The Czechs know beer. And now I do, too... as well as knowing many other things about that lovely city.
Second: About that Judeo-Christian morality thing, or more specifically the Judeo-Christian sexual mores we Americans… and to a much lesser extent, other Western cultures… live under and much more specifically, the practice of contracting for sexual services. I'm not going to do a deep-dive here as I'm basically a shallow person* and this sorta thing just ain't my style… unless it's over a few beers and/or single-malts, where there can be an extended and frank exchange of opinion… but most certainly not on a blog. Suffice it to say other cultures have radically different views on this subject.

Just as an example, there were reputedly over 400 brothels in Chiang Mai, Thailand when I went TDY there back in the mid-'70s. This, in a town of approximately 100,000 people at the time… and Chiang Mai wasn't a "sex tourism" destination. Speaking of "tourism," I don't think anyone has even attempted to count the number of whorehouses in Bangkok. Or Taipei. Or Manila. OTOH, I'm sure the Dutch authorities know exactly how many houses of ill repute there are in Amsterdam, given such establishments are licensed by the gub'mint there… and inspected, too. Not a bad idea… that inspection thing (Can you say "Nevada?").

My basic point is the old "when in Rome" argument, with only one caveat: all activities would be between consenting adults… with acute and forceful emphasis on the last two words.

So much for the splainin'.

* my favorite Woody Allen movie quote, evah. It's become a watch-phrase for life in these parts.