Thursday, December 31, 2009


God damn the Naughts. It was a perverse decade, in which that thing so many responsible people had agreed was the right thing to do, the removal of a dangerous, mass-murdering dictator, was strangely rendered not just unnecessary but an evil act by an unexpected twist of fate. The accusations of lies were themselves lies, all of it built on a tyrant’s framework of lies, that became an unquenchable fire that just burned hotter. It was as revolting as the stench of death.

That war dragged on and became a wretchedly divisive thing. Not only in the way it divided our nation. It cost people friendships. I saw some, friendships decades old, walk away. I walked away from others. It was an embittering experience. The thing that it became deepened political cynicism beyond what many of us might have imagined, as accusations of scheming met with accusations of political betrayal, cowardice, and opportunism., even as both sides claimed to represent the best interests of our nation, our soldiers and the world. It caused people to reconsider their allegiances.
RTWT.  It's very good.

This will probably be my last post of the year, seeing as how we're all tied up in football on this dreary gray winter afternoon.  Well... football, beer, and cigars (Thanks, Jim!)... of course.  But that said, I'll give you my usual New Year's Eve admonishment:  Have fun, celebrate in your chosen way, but PLEASE be careful if you go out tonight. I wanna see all your smiling (virtual) faces throughout the coming year.

Where I'll Be Tomorrow... 1300 hrs EST (1100 Mountain):
Well... I won't be in Fenway, exactly.  But I WILL be in front of my teevee.  If this year's game is even half as good as last year's it will be stupendous.  From last year here at EIP, on 01/02/09... and note the highlighted bits toward the end:

I'm Still Buzzing

The Chicago Blackhawks, left and the Detroit Red Wings make their way onto the ice before the NHL Winter Classic held at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Thursday, Jan 1, 2009. (ANDRE JACKSON/DFP)
In the Mixed Metaphor Department… from ESPN:
CHICAGO -- Going, going, gone. Home run. Touch 'em all, NHL.
Forgive the obvious baseball allusion, but from the cool retro uniforms worn by the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks, to the 40,818 fans bundled up and jammed into venerable Wrigley Field belting out the national anthem en masse, to the old-style black fedoras sported by the Detroit coaching staff, to the wildly entertaining game itself, the 2009 Winter Classic was another red-letter day for the league.
For the second straight year, the NHL has taken its game outdoors, and this success at Wrigley virtually guarantees the Winter Classic will become an annual event and the National Hockey League will carve its own place on the sporting calendar with its Jan. 1 hockey lovefest.
Yup… what Mr. Burnside said. To say the Winter Classic was “wildly entertaining” is something of an understatement, as well. You had your home team staking a claim with a 3-1 lead at the end of the first period. You had the visitors storming into the lead with three unanswered goals in the second period. You had power play goals aplenty, a couple o' few entertaining scrums (but no fights) and at least one highlight reel goal that wowed the crowd, regardless of where their sympathies lay. The ice was good, the weather cooperative (for Chicago), and everyone was simply IN to the game… players, fans, and the media. Here are some highlights, courtesy of ESPN:

I think doing the Winter Classic as an annual event is a no-brainer, with certain reservations. The outdoor game obviously won’t fly in certain NHL cities, like Tampa, LA, San Jose, or wherever the Hell in Carolina it is the Hurricanes play. And there are some rather cryptic comments in Mr. Burnside’s article about the NHL not going to Canada for the Winter Classic… “for the time being.” What’s up with that? Toronto or Montreal would be “naturals,” IMHO… as both cities are home to Original Six teams and both are within easy driving distance of major NHL markets such as Boston, New York, and Detroit, among others. And the weather obviously wouldn’t be a problem in Calgary or Edmonton, although attendance might be light, as it takes a little doing to get to either of the latter cities.
As for me? I think the next Winter Classic should be played at Fenway… especially given the resurgent nature of the Bees. Fenway has all the “magic” of Wrigley Field in the historical sense and there are great rivalries to pick and choose from when selecting an opponent for the Bees. My second choice would be Yankee Stadium… for many of the same reasons I just cited, minus the history of the venue.

More Winter Classic hoopla here, here, and here…the last of which is one of those oh-so-very-cool 360-degree panorama shots of Wrigley Field, shot from the upper stands. View that photo full-screen and it’s almost like being there.
And finally... would that the Rose Bowl were as exciting as the Winter Classic. I marveled at the contrast between beautiful, sunny Pasadena and cold, windy Chicago (is this a great country, or what?) in the opening minutes of the Rose Bowl telecast and was MOST certainly wowed by the B-2 flyover. It was all downhill from there, tho. The best bits about the Rose Bowl were over before the game even began. I fell asleep at the half...
Am I good... or at least prescient... or what?  About tomorrow:  be there or be square.  Even if you're not a hockey fan.  Maybe especially if you're not a hockey fan.  Tomorrow would be a great time to start your love affair with the fastest, toughest, most exciting sport in the world.   Just sayin'.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's Been a Tough Year...

... for Red Wings fans.  We're two games away from the season's halfway point and the Wings are on the bubble as far as the playoffs go... currently residing in ninth place in the West.  Which is where they've been... more or less... all year.  But there's reason to be hopeful.  Here's Cassie Campbell, writing for CBC Sports:
Mike Babcock has to be a candidate for coach of the year!
I know his team, the Detroit Red Wings, is full of talent and is expected to be vying for a Stanley Cup every year, but right now they're in ninth spot, out of the playoffs in the Western Conference. The Wings are a team that has both the Chicago Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks thinking, 'Please get a lot better and move way up the standings or please get a lot worse and move way down the standings - just as long as we don't have to face them in the first round!'
If the Wings make the playoffs this year, Mike Babcock and his staff will have done one heck of a job. I mean, the injuries alone would probably decimate any other team, but he has found a way to keep his team competing while dealing with 180-plus man games lost.
Only three players have played in all 39 games - Bertuzzi, Lidstrom and Holmstrom. All have had injuries from the past that they are stilling dealing with. Injuries to Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Dan Cleary, Jonathan Ericsson, Jason Williams, Valtteri Filppula and Andreas Lilja have depleted the core of this team.
Babcock has had to try and find a way to get more out of depth players like Patrick Eaves, Justin Abdelkader and newcomer Drew Miller. They're not putting up big time points, but have been effective in improving a penalty kill that was a disappointment last season.
The Wings do not have one forward in the Top 25 in league scoring, nor do they have one defenceman in the Top 25 in defenceman scoring.
I've watched with great dismay as the Wings lost player after player to injuries this year and wondered if the unthinkable is actually thinkable, that being the Wings fail to make the playoffs for the first time in the last 20 years or so.  But it's entirely possible if the parade of injuries continues or if the expected recovery of key players like Franzen, Zetterberg, Ericsson, or Filppula doesn't happen for one reason or another.  Still and even, Ms. Campbell has a point: Babcock has done a brilliant job of making a silk nylon purse out of a sow's ear.  It's doubtful any other team in the league could have taken such massive hits to their roster and stayed in contention for a playoff spot.  

Babcock has done a great job of coaching, but the Wings' persistence and resilience is also a testimonial to the depth of their farm clubs.  There's some great young talent playing for the Wings in the AHL... and some of those guys are getting called up to the Big League a LOT earlier than expected.
We remain hopeful...

Thirty-Seven Years Ago

12/18/2009 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BACE, Guam - Two B-52 Stratofortresses fly over the Operation Linebacker II Ceremony at the Arc Light Memorial Park here Dec. 18. The ceremony commemorates the 37th anniversary of the campaign that led to the end of the Vietnam War. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Julian North)

From today's AFA Daily Report:
Remembering Linebacker II: Airmen and local leaders gathered at Andersen AFB, Guam, in mid-December to commemorate Linebacker II, the intense 11-day bombing campaign of North Vietnam in December 1972 credited with bringing the North Vietnamese back to the negotiating table and leading to the end of direct US involvement in the Vietnam War. More than 150 B-52s operated from Andersen during the campaign. The Dec. 18 ceremony included a wreath laying at the base's Arc Light Memorial Park to honor the B-52 crew members who died during the campaign as well as a flyby of two B-52s. (See also Pacific New Center's report) (For more on the historic bombing campaign, read Linebacker II from the archives of Air Force Magazine.)
Linebacker II wasn't purely an Air Force endeavor... the Navy and Marines made significant contributions to the operation.  From The Wiki:
During operation Linebacker II a total of 741 B-52 sorties had been dispatched to bomb North Vietnam and 729 had actually completed their missions. 15,237 tons of ordnance were dropped on 18 industrial and 14 military targets (including eight SAM sites) while fighter-bombers added another 5,000 tons of bombs to the tally. 212 additional B-52 missions were flown within South Vietnam in support of ground operations during the same time period.  Ten B-52s had been shot down over the North and five others had been damaged and crashed in Laos or Thailand. 33 B-52 crew members were killed or missing in action, another 33 became prisoners of war, and 26 more were rescued. North Vietnamese air defense forces claimed that 34 B-52s and four F-111s had been shot down during the campaign.

769 additional sorties were flown by the Air Force and 505 by the Navy and Marine Corps in support of the bombers. 12 of these aircraft were lost on the missions (two F-111s, three F-4s, two A-7s, two A-6s, an EB-66, an HH-53 rescue helicopter, and an RA-5C reconnaissance aircraft). During these operations, ten American aviators were killed, eight captured, and 11 rescued.

Overall Air Force losses included fifteen B-52s, two F-4s, two F-111s, one EB-66 and one HH-53 search and rescue helicopter. Navy losses included two A-7s, two A-6s, one RA-5, and one F-4. Seventeen of these losses were attributed to SA-2 missiles, three to daytime MiG attacks, three to antiaircraft artillery, and four to unknown causes. A total of eight Migs were shot down during the operation, including two by B-52 tail gunners.
Linebacker II is generally given credit for ending the Vietnam war.  But had force of this nature been applied a decade earlier we might have been spared the painful visuals of American helicopters lifting off the embassy roof in Saigon.  From the linked Air Force Magazine article:
To Air Force observers, the events of 1975 pointed up a classic case of "what might have been." To them, full application of airpower in a Linebacker II-type campaign in 1965, a decade earlier, would have achieved military victory, prevented the long and costly US involvement in Southeast Asia, saved South Vietnam as a nation, and allowed the US to escape the calamitous effects that the Vietnamese war has afflicted on America ever since.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda... 


In other Air Force news...
Top Female Jock (ed: Jock?  Hunh? We won't touch that term with the proverbial ten-foot pole!): MSgt. Karrie Warren, security and requirements supervisor of the 601st Air and Space Operations Center at Tyndall AFB, Fla., is the Air Force's 2009 female athlete of the year. The 32-year-old airman was recognized for her talent on the softball field, her dedication to physical fitness, and her leadership skills both on and off the field. Warren, who plays left-center in the outfield, said she is "very honored" to have won the award. She added, "My unit stresses physical fitness, and my personal motivation is that I want to feel and perform the best that I can." Among her accomplishments, she is credited with leading the Air Force women's team to the full-services Armed Forces Women's Softball Championship title and leading the Tyndall women's softball team to second place in the 2009 World Softball Tournament. (Tyndall report by Carol Carpenter; U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Steve Burke)
Well, dang.  With tongue firmly in cheek... master sergeants just ain't what they used to be.  In my day we were primarily known for the ever-popular 12-oz curl.  And we were good at it, Gentle Reader. 

That said... congrats MSgt Warren!  I'd like to buy ya a beer.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy Hour Anyone?

Your beer would most definitely stay cool...

Nah.  I thought not.  Mo' betta this way:

That would be a 2-Below accompanied by a Rocky Patel "The Edge," in its maduro incarnation.  Great good stuff all the way around.  We can handle this "stuck indoors" thingie, given the proper accessories.

Right Now, Part II

In the "It's Always Sumthin'" Dept...

Our recent frozen water lines episode resulted in a split water fitting on the coach (indicated by the badly-drawn arrow), which resulted in a major leak, which also resulted in the founding of Lake Pennington here on the premises of Beautiful La Hacienda Trailer Park.  What you see are repairs in progress, courtesy of Andy the RV Doctor ("I Make House Calls!").
What you also see are much less than optimal working conditions.  It's frickin' cold outside, Gentle Reader.

Right Now

More of this "Winter Wonderland" shit.  Does anyone have Algore's number?  I need to give that prat a call...

Kinda Cool

Too much of The One for me (these days any Obama is too much Obama), but none the less... an OK effort.

Monday, December 28, 2009


... but this looks like truth to me (click for larger if eye-strain is in play):

From eSarcasm, of course.  Missing in action: the innumerable "what I had/am having for lunch" tweets.  As if we frickin' care.

"Victory Or Death"

In the speech below Newt Gingrich advocates impeaching the Attorney General, disses the ACLU and secular-progressives in general, and ends with a rallying cry for conservatives (which is the title to this post):

I'm really surprised I hadn't seen this speech until last night, especially since it's been around for over a month.  Why this speech hasn't gone viral with the right wing is beyond me... or maybe we're all just focused on the holidays at the moment.  
I've said this before and I'll say it yet again:  I like Mr. Gingrich.  A lot.  He's one of the few thinking, articulate conservatives left in America and I like the way he thinks.  It's too damned bad he has such negative and massive personal baggage because I think he would make a damned good president.

h/t to Darleen Click, posting at Protein Wisdom.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

We're Gratified...

... in at least one respect today, frozen water lines aside.  The USPS is at work on this Boxing Day and a uniformed agent of that august organization knocked on my door a few minutes ago and put this neat lil box in my hot lil hands:

You can read just as well as I can, Gentle Reader, and you'll note the nifty packaging contains a minor indulgence... which is to say five Oliva Serie V cigars in five different sizes.  From the linked review:
Cigar Insider released a vertical tasting of the entire line in September 2007 with the average rating weighing in at a whopping 89.7 points. The Torpedo led the pack with an individual rating of 94 points. CI claims, “The Torpedo was an outstanding cigar, with aesthetics, strength, complexity and many flavors that kept the cigar interesting and balanced.”
It's obvious the review I'm quoting is two years old, so let's hope the 2009 edition of this cigar lives up to the reputation established by the 2007.  I'm thinkin' we'll put fire to the end of the torpedo for Happy Hour today... which we'll kick off when we return from Wally-World later this afternoon.  Cue up Ms. Simon:  "Annn-tish-a-PAY-shun..."

Update, 1800 hrs or so:  A fine cigar, indeed. Here we are, a few puffs into it:

This cigar is billed as the strongest in the Oliva line and my initial impressions were along the same as those expressed in the review I quoted earlier... to wit:
Upon lighting, many may believe the Serie V is medium in body, but as Jose Oliva himself has explained, if you exhale through the nose you will realize the true strength of the Serie V.
Boy Howdy, is that ever correct! My first exhalation through my nose left me thinking "Wow... powerful!"  Subsequent exhalations were less... umm... "invigorating," but the strong leathery and slightly acidic sensations never really abated.  Which isn't a negative comment - we prefer medium to robust flavor in our cigars.  The Serie V didn't disappoint in the least in that regard.  And it's beautifully constructed, as well.  The cigar has an easy draw complimented with a nice ash... as you can see:

And finally... a remark about our ashtray.  This chromium beauty is an antique of sorts, what with having sat on our father's nightstand since my very earliest memory, which goes back to 1949 or so.  She's a beauty:

This is one of my treasured possessions, albeit one that shows the ravages of time.  The chrome isn't as bright as it used to be and there are pockmarks in the plating.  All that just adds to its beauty though, as far as I'm concerned.  I'm thinking the Ol' Man would appreciate the use this artifact is still getting today.

The Usual, Customary, and (Somewhat) Reasonable Boxing Day Post

It's a short one, but.. with the exception of 2007... we've been putting this one up every Boxing Day since 2005:

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

I had to pop out to do a little grocery shopping. All the way to Wally-World and back I was thinking about Christmas' Past and the strangest thing struck me. I cannot, for the life of me, remember a single thing about the last Christmas The Second Mrs. Pennington and I spent together (1997). Nothing. Zip. Nada. I think it’s because the cataclysmic events that unfolded over the eight months following that Christmas completely obliterated all memories of times immediately preceding. It was, after all, the Winter of Her Discontent, and I was completely oblivious. Quite another story.

It is more than passing strange, however. That Christmas was my youngest son’s First Christmas. Even though he was only ten months old at the time I’m sure he had a great old time tearing into boxes and playing with the wrapping paper, as very young children do. But I don’t remember any of it. I don’t remember the tree. I don’t remember taking any pictures. I don’t remember what I gave or received that Christmas. I don’t remember a damned thing, except for the fact we were in Rochester. That’s the sum total!

I did recall, in great detail, the year we spent Christmas night on a British Airways flight from Detroit to London. Our flight left sometime around six or seven in the evening on Christmas Day, and we were at the airport a good three hours before that. There were three of us: TSMP, our great good friend Kim, and myself. It was Kim’s first trip outside the US, and she was as excited as is humanly possible. The flight was nearly empty because, who, after all, travels on Christmas Day? Just us bargain hunters. TSMP and Kim stayed awake most of the flight. I, on the other hand, found an empty row and slept. Don’t you just love empty airplanes on transatlantic flights? It doesn’t happen a lot these days, from what I read.

We arrived at Heathrow around 0700 and were completely through customs and baggage claim in about an hour. The Captain, although he was either a Buck Sergeant or a Staff Sergeant stationed at RAF Lakenheath at the time, met us at Arrivals. We loaded up the luggage and piled into his ratty old British Ford Cortina with the broken heater and leaky floor and did the patented B&P nickel tour of London for Kim’s benefit.

Sidebar: I use the term “B&P nickel tour” in a very personal sense. TSMP and I lived in London from 1980 - 1983 and we had a LOT of visitors. After the first wave of visitors had come and gone we developed our own little two-hour driving tour of London that hit all the high spots: Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Picadilly Circus, Tower Bridge, et al. We also threw in a few of our favorite places. It was great fun reliving that tour!

So. After the tour we grabbed lunch and went to the hotel for a little nap before our evening out. And thus began the ten-day England Christmas Tour of 1990-something. I don’t remember the exact year, actually. But I sure remember that trip…one of my BEST Christmases (and New Year’s), ever. 
We added this in 2006:
The Best Thing about our arrival in London on Boxing Day was the heretofore unmentioned party we went to that evening. TSMP, SN1, Good Friend Kim, and I went to my Brit Buddy Rob’s place, where we partied into the wee small hours. The most interesting thing about that party was that Rob and I picked up exactly where we’d left off more than ten years earlier.  It was as if we’d seen each other only yesterday. It’s like that with great, good friends.
We have to go do a lil shopping today, much like on 12/26/2005.  The first item on my list is at least four gallons of water, coz Dear Ol' Santa left me frozen water lines for Christmas.  I must have been pretty danged naughty this year to deserve this particular lump o' coal in my virtual stocking.

I swear to The Deity At Hand that this episode ain't MY fault.  We had water when we went to bed in the early hours of Christmas Day but apparently my "drip (beat-beat) drip (beat-beat)" wasn't enough flow to keep the lines from freezing.  So, once again it's back to the 19th century when hauling water was all the rage.  I had hopes my lines would thaw yesterday as our high was supposed to be 40 degrees.  We didn't make it... and it's gonna be a near-run thing again today.  I have my fingers crossed.

A correction:  I put up a photo of amazingly tasty, world-class enchiladas on Christmas Eve and erroneously credited the creation of same to my daughter-in-law Erma.  I was wrong... the enchiladas came from the mobile kitchen of The First Mrs. Pennington, who is literally world-renowned for that dish (shown above in an enchilada assembly line operation at SN2's house in Maine, June 2006.  That's SN1 receiving a sample for QA purposes.).  I also found out that TFMP created said enchiladas solely for my consumption, a fact that leaves me sheepish about the bad joke I made at her expense a couple o' few days ago.

So: herewith the correction and a public apology.  I'm sorry, Ramona.  You can take "sorry" in the literal and figurative senses, both apply.

Friday, December 25, 2009


And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born, this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

M E R R Y  C H R I S T M A S

God Bless Us Every One

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Self-Indulgent Nostalgic Boomer Crap...

... but it's GOOD crap, even though the photo ain't:
That would be Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, reunited at this years' Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame concert in NYC and on my teevee just moments ago.  Lots of rock 'n' rollers from this cohort have seen better days, to be kind about it.  But not S&G, apparently.  Their harmonies still soar, Garfunkel's voice is incredibly sweet for a guy of ANY age, and Simon's vocal and guitar chops seem to have gotten better, if anything.  They did "Sounds of Silence," "The Boxer," and "Bridge Over Troubled Water."  And although I've heard these tunes thousands of times I haven't ever heard them done better.  No kidding.
What a great treat... and what a surprise.  And Dang!  Here comes Aretha!

Comfort Food...

... Southwest style:

Two pork enchiladas... topped with copious amounts of red chili sauce... and rice.  All of it homemade by daughter-in-law Erma and dropped off just a few minutes ago.
I hesitate to publish this pic as it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment for SN1.  OTOH, he might need a reminder about what he's fighting for.  I kinda doubt that, but it's the best excuse I can come up with on short notice.  Excuse me, but I have some work to do here.

From My Window...

... coz I'm damned sure NOT getting out in this (note the wind speed, gusts, and wind chill):

It looks like a White Christmas, at least to start.

God Bless Us, every one.

On the North Pole Runway... and Cleared For Takeoff!

... that would be Santa.  But wait!  Read this closely:

Not only does NORAD operate the finest tracking system in the world but recent upgrades apparently have given the system a capability of seeing about three hours into the future, if my back-o-the-hand calculations are accurate.  This enhanced performance capability should prove useful in other (i.e., military) applications, no doubt.

OK... that said... we'll be tracking Santa off and on throughout the day!

Update, 0400 hrs:  As predicted... Airborne!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


The image above is taken from The Wiki and shows the traditional New Mexican Christmas decoration... the farolito, also known as the luminaria.  You can see some pretty cool images of houses and neighborhoods decorated with farolitos just by googling the term.

Speaking of farolitos... The first Christmas The Second Mrs. Pennington and I spent in our Ferndale home we were startled to see both sides of Oakridge Avenue decorated with farolitos just after nightfall.  As a matter of fact the entire neighborhood for two blocks west and three blocks south (that would be six blocks, for the math-challenged) was so decorated.  The effect was stunning in an old, established leafy Deetroit burb that is a long way from New Mexico.  Yep... we most certainly did go for a walk that evening...


Tidings of Comfort and Joy Dept.:  I phoned my dentist a minute or three ago to see if we're still on for 1400 hrs today.   The answer?  "Yes."  The lab came through, the Good Doctor has examined the crowns, pronounced them acceptable, and we shall have five new teeth in our head this afternoon.  For those of you who have been with me for the last two years (and we do NOT exaggerate) you will know this represents the final step in our Adventures In Modern Dentistry, at least as far as this installment goes.  There may be more.

Your understatement of the day:  I'm a Happy Camper.


 What I want for Christmas...

It's not too late, Gentle Reader!  As a matter of fact, I'll gratefully accept "better late than never" sorts of caveats and/or disclaimers on your gift card.  I'm understanding like that.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

No. No. No.

A friend sends this along:
I just KNOW you'll be ordering some of these soon!   ;) 
Well... I think she's a friend, anyway.  My reply:
Heh.  I wouldn't hold my breath were I you.  Although pink might look good on me.  ;-)
My tongue was firmly in my cheek on that last.   See: "Hell, Cold Day In."  Yeah.Right.Sure.

Celebrating the Solstice

The sun, nearing winter solstice, travels low across the sky in a multiple-exposure picture made in Maine in 2002.  (photo: NatGeo)

Cool pic, eh?  So, yesterday was the Winter Solstice and it's official: we're all in winter now.  Yays, and all that.  I suppose most people in the eastern half of the country don't need an announcement to confirm winter's arrived... all that white stuff piled up in your driveways and beside the road should be enough, eh?   

So... we gave some thought Sunday about an impromptu trip to Stonehenge to celebrate the solstice, knowing as we do it's a right good time and big party occasion.  The Second Mrs. Pennington and I DID think about driving down that way on the solstice (both winter and summer) when we lived in Ol' Blighty but we somehow never got around to it... and we were MUCH closer then than I am now.  And then there's the somewhat inconvenient fact my passport expired five years ago.  So:  the trip was a non-starter from the git-go.  There are home-grown alternatives to the original, like Carhenge up in Nebraska or the Cadillac Ranch... a mere two hours from where I sit.  I don't think either locations are big party sites, what with being a lil short on Druids and/or other types of pantheists, and I wasn't all that fired up for a drive... even one of only two hours duration... so we threw those alternatives to the wayside as well.  

In favor of laundry.  Yep, we celebrated the solstice by doing our quarterly batch of laundry, only this time we washed about 80% of the clothes we own instead of the usual 98.2%.  Incremental improvements are a Good Thing, Gentle Reader.  Our goal is to do laundry on a monthly basis at some point in time and we're getting nearer.  Some day...

The other Good Thing about laundry these days is it's really, truly a celebration of sorts.  Daughter-in-law Erma and I sat out in her garage smoking cigars and drinking beer while her machines sloshed, thrashed, and tumbled my clothes to a clean and dry state.  We also celebrated by firing up SN1's Big-Ass Harley and letting it serenade us with its basso profundo potato-potato-potato chorus for about 20 minutes.  During which time all conversation ceased, coz that thing is LOUD.  But we digress.

Three beers and two cigars later... the laundry was done.  We moved the party...which by now included granddaughter Felicity, grandson Sean, great-granddaughter Mya, and The First Mrs. Pennington (who broomed flew in from California this past week for a visit with Erma and Family*) to Cattle Baron, a local purveyor of big-ass slabs of red meat and good beer.  And yes, we did have a generous portion of prime rib done rare accompanied by a perky pint of Fat Tire and topped off with coffee and cheesecake.  And it was good. 

We went right to bed when we returned to El Casa Móvil De Pennington... and slept the sleep of the just (knowing ALL your clothes are clean will do that) until about 45 minutes ago, which explains why I'm posting at oh-dark-twenty.  But six hours of sleep is enough for anyone, eh?

* TFMP could have gone to Stonehenge, yet chose to come to Portales.   Go figure.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Question...

... for you bloggers who use SiteMeter.  I find this interesting... pay attention to items number three, 12, and 15 in the graphic below:

I get at least four or five hits from googlebot each and every day.  A lil bit of research on my part revealed the following, from the Wiki:
Googlebot is the search bot software used by Google, which collects documents from the web to build a searchable index for the Google search engine.

If a webmaster wishes to restrict the information on their site available to a Googlebot, or another well-behaved spider, they can do so with the appropriate directives in a robots.txt file, or by adding the meta tag to the webpage.  Googlebot requests to Web servers are identifiable by a user-agent string containing "Googlebot" and a host address containing "".

Currently Googlebot only follows HREF links and SRC links.  Googlebot discovers pages by harvesting all of the links on every page it finds. It then follows these links to other web pages. New web pages must be linked to other known pages on the web in order to be crawled and indexed.
Are you guys getting hits from googlebot?  And if so... are you seeing visit durations like I'm seeing?  Nearly an hour spent on my blog (re: #15, above) by a supposedly automated web-crawler is kinda strange, dontcha think?  And this happens every day!  I'm pretty sure this is why Google loves me.

Today's Happy Hour

A friend gifted us with one of these magnificent lil jewels recently:

That would be an Opus X in the ashtray.  I told my friend I was gonna save this lil bit o' excellence for the next semi-nice day here on The High Plains of New Mexico... the sort of day where I could enjoy the cigar in proper style, which is to say with a couple o' fingers of single malt.  Well, I'm gonna embellish the single malt just a lil bit, to wit:

Gilding the lily?  Perhaps.  But a lil gilt never hurt anything and has enhanced more than a few things... single malt included.  Sláinte!

Update... later that same day:

We're in the process of smoking that Opus-X right down to a nub... and it is GOOD.  Beyond belief, actually.  I'm supremely indebted to great good friends, and I do not exaggerate one lil bit.  Dang.  There could be but only one circumstance that could improve upon this day...  and we shall not wish for what is beyond our grasp.  We'll just enjoy what is... and it is good, indeed.

Apropos of Not Much

Glenn, in comments to the post below, asks "Forgot to ask. Ferndale, Washington?"  Nope... that would be Ferndale, Michigan.  Specifically 351 West Oakridge Ave, Ferndale, MI 48220.  Home for about eight years, that was... in Former Happy Days.  And I can show it to you, Gentle Reader, through Google-Majik.  (Legends for the pics - click for larger, as always - immediately below)

First... Ferndale is a near-burb of Deetroit... about in the center of this map, just below the "696" shield near Warren.

This is what the neighborhood looks like... the 696 freeway is to the north and Woodward Ave, the main north-south surface arterial (and site of the world-famous Woodward Dream Cruise) is to the east... right on the "MI 48220..." legend.

Above is a much closer, zoomed-in view of the neighborhood.  Livernois Avenue is to the west in the picture and dead-ends on my street... Oakridge Avenue.

And believe it or don't... Google Earth actually has street views of the ol' neighborhood, fuzzy as they may be.  Above is looking east down Oakridge Ave, from the corner of Livernois.  My house would be the fourth one on the right, if you could see that far.

Lastly... and this is what amazed me the MOST... my old house.  Not the one with the wheelchair-accessible ramp but the one next door, with the brick/gray siding construction.  Talk about late night trips down Memory Lane...

Aren't ya sorry ya asked, Glenn?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

We Are Not Immune...

... to the teevee pitch-man's spiel.  In today's mail:

That would be my very own Windshield Wonder.  This is only the second time in my life I've bought something "not sold in stores!", the first being a CD collection called "Lady Sings the Blues."  I hope the Windshield Wonder proves to be half as pleasing as those CDs are.  And it might.  Witness:
"I seen this on TV, I seen this on TV," repeated Jordan, a cab driver, who reluctantly agreed to test the Windshield Wonder after we hailed him on West 56th St. He seemed like he'd need the product—the guy was so small that from the back seat, the car looked empty. Jordan tried the tool, mentioned that he'd seen it on TV, and made murmurs of approval. But asked if he would buy the product, he declined: "I don't really own a car," he said. He went around the windshield's perimeter, noting that the pivoting head stayed flush with the glass but was a bit floppy and could fall out of position. "It's pretty good, though," he said, finishing up a tight corner near the defrost vents. Jordan handed over the tool, pointed at the still-running meter and asked, "Hey, you're gonna pay for this, right?" 
I'm a small guy like the cabbie in the above paragraph, which is one of the reasons I bought the WW.  That and the fact that cleaning the backlight on the Green Hornet requires one to be a contortionist of the third degree.  I worry about slipping a disk whenever I clean the rear window... and I'm not exaggerating a whit.

Popular Mechanics (from which the blurb above was taken) sez the Windshield Wonder is a good ideer but you could just as easily make your own.  Easy for them to say... they are Popular Mechanics, after all.  I'm more like a Popular Mechanical Idiot. 


No further comment required.  And in the same vein:

I like this Asay guy! 

Winter is REALLY Here

"Here" in the time sense and not the geographical.  We're not looking bad on The High Plains of New Mexico (45 degrees and clear as the proverbial bell)... but the East Coast is getting its collective ass kicked:
A large swath of record and dangerous December snows to reach 10 to 15 inches or more are already burying major cities in the Mid-Atlantic and will soon take aim on southeast New York and southern new England.
The heaviest snows are forecast for northern Virginia including Washington DC, Maryland including Baltimore, and the Delaware Valley including Philadelphia where one to two feet of snow are possible.
So... I've been watching The WX Channel while making the blog-rounds this morning and the weather-pundits are acting like Christmas is here a week early.  Nothing new there, of course.  Severe weather is their raison d'être, innit?  

Friday, December 18, 2009

Well... As Long As We're Doin' Videos...

There's "YouTube's 100 Greatest Hits in Four Minutes:"

Kinda cool except for the soundtrack, which I muted about 15 seconds in.  I'd already seen most of these as well, which says more about my current quality of life than I'm comfortable with.  I know, I know: "Change it, then!"  Easy for YOU to say.  OTOH... I prefer to think I'm just a well-informed, up-to-the-minute, in-touch-with-teh-teknologie kinda guy... yanno?

Heh.  Back to Happy Hour, already in progress.

I Got Nuthin'

Well, except for this (caution: lotsa F-bombs and various other unpleasantness):

Jesse Ventura might be a former SEAL and a former governor but he's also a world-class asshat.  And what prompted me to post this lil bit of unpleasantness, you may ask?  Ah, just a lil sumthin' blog-bud Morgan put up today, which fired off my synapses.  I saw an abbreviated version of the above on Red Eye a few nights ago.

You could have had a re-run, yanno?  Which might have been better'n this, at the risk of flattering myself.  Or not.

Beer me!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wanna Guess...

... what we're doing right now (OK... a couple o' few minutes ago, anyhoo)?  Here's a clue:

Today is one of those days that make living on The High Plains of New Mexico worthwhile.  Which is to say it's a most beautiful day, indeed.  The sort of day that makes sitting outside with a cigar and a suitable libation... in this case a couple o' Fat Tires... almost mandatory.

Our windows are open wide and we're being entertained during Happy Hour by the five-cent profundities of Van Morrison, the Allman Bros, and various and sundry other rock 'n' roll philosophers.  Which, of course, brings back memories of Former Happy Days, interspersed with ruminations on the perfection of nature's architecture... made all the more evident by the skeletal form our trees have taken on in winter. 

That... and thoughts about "who are those people and where are they going?"  I don't think it's where I'm thinkin' it is or might be... coz the direction is all wrong.  But that doesn't mean the occupants of that aluminum tube streaking along in the ether so far above me can't make a connection once they arrive at LAX, does it?  I prefer to believe they ARE heading off in this direction, as it suits my fantasy at the moment:

"Sounds so sweet with the sun sinkin' low..."  Ah... an objective, to be sure.  Soon.  Very soon.