Thursday, September 30, 2010

Calling In Well

Towards the end of my working life there was a point in time I took to calling in well whenever "things" got a bit too much.  Which is to say something like this hypothetical phone call:
Boss: Hello?
Me:  Hey.  It's Buck.  I won't be in today.
Boss: Are you OK?
Me:  Oh yeah.  I'm great.  As a s'matter of fact I feel too damned good to come in.
Boss: (short pause, followed by laughter)  OK... see ya tomorrow!
That was about the way it went the first time I pulled that stunt.  I didn't do it all that often, mind you, mebbe once or twice a year and NEVER when there was "stuff" going on that required my presence.  I usually did it after some sorta death march was completed, which is to say the kind of activity that required an endless procession of 12 to 14 hour days.  It was my own personal form of R&R, in other words.  I never once pulled that trick in the Air Force, needless to say.  The military, even the AF, tend to take a rather dim view of that sort of attitude.  There's that "duty" thang, yanno?  But it isn't so in the civilian world, given you have the right sort of leadership.  And I did.

We're calling in well today here at EIP.  While I feel REALLY good I also have zero motivation my inner eight year old pulling his usual stunt.  Even My Buddy Ed In Florida seems to be on hiatus at the moment, having failed to send me any of his drollery.  Mebbe everyone is kinda-sorta calling in well today.

So there's this... one of my favorite pics from the way-back:

I went googling for a Happy Face to accompany this post and nuthin' struck my fancy... until I realized I had the happiest of Happy Faces right here in the archives.  He was a beautiful baby, nu?

And now:  Happy Hour.  There won't be any La Fin du Monde today, tho.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Broadening Our Horizons XXIII and Other Stuff

I remain impressed with the Cannon Airplane Patch Class VI store, which is among the very best I've ever seen.  Well, mebbe not evah, as the beer and alcohol emporiums on European bases were outstanding, given the selection of local wares available.  But here in the US?  "Best in Class," it is.  I'm open to contrary and divergent opinions unless your name is SN1... coz I've shopped your Class VI stores.  Forgive me, but they suck.

Cannon's Class VI, however, sucketh not.  Case in point:

That would be a super bomber... the B-52 of beer bottles, if you will... of La Fin du Monde, which is rated A+ (World Class) by the Bros.  An excerpt from one of the Bros' reviews:
Taste: This brew is very smooth and sweet up-front with loads of malt mouth-feel. A warming sensation begins in the back of the tongue and turns into a spicy, almost pepper, flavour. This flavour is the 9% alcohol which cleverly camouflages itself until consumed. A very light hop flavour is left behind, with warming esters in the mouth.

Notes: Truly a potent and delicious brew with many hard to achieve complexities. Unlike other brews of this strength, this one is extremely drinkable due to its balance of alcohol and dextrins. Outstanding.
"La Fin du Monde" is French for "the end of the world."  I'm thinkin' you'd experience a reasonable facsimile of that feeling if you consumed a whole bottle... as above... in a single sitting.  That's 750 ml (one pint and nine+ ounces) of 9% ABV beer, yanno?  It's a Great Good Thing the bottle is resealable.  Those Canuckians are very clever and thoughtful folks.

Oh.  The other bottle?  That's a Franziskaner dunkel... a variation on a theme of our favorite beer, rated B+ at Beer Advocate.  I'm thinkin' Happy Hour will be MOST excellent for the next few.


We had a follow-up visit with our doctor yesterday and like most everything in this world there was both good and bad news.  

Good:  We got our meds re-prescribed and they seem to be working, i.e., I can breathe freely enough to walk across a parking lot without keeling over.  This is a significant improvement over where we were six months ago.  That which will ultimately kill me will be delayed for a bit.

Better:  My doc sez my lungs "sound better than last time."  Improvement is a good thing, nu?

Best:  We began on an up-note, whereby the sweet young thang of a nurse sez to me as we're walking to the exam room: "You're looking very good today, Mr. Pennington... and quite a bit younger, if I may so, than the last time you were in."  OK.  That does it.  The beard stays OFF.

Bad:  I received a gentle yet firm dressing down from my doc after we discussed my near-death experience of last August (and I exaggerate only slightly).  I also feel I must apologize to Kath and my other lady friends who badgered me to get to the doctor shortly after the onset of the-cold-that-came-to-stay.  That's because my doctor chastised me in no uncertain terms for failing to come in when I was sick... words to the effect of "you have COPD, asshat... that could have KILLED you.  I've seen it happen."  He went on to describe the grisly mechanics of death-by-phlegm, arrested breathing (which I thought needed no explanation, given my recent experience), and other macabre and less than wonderful stuff.  I left his office resolved to hie my old ass directly to the hospital should something like that ever happen again.  Which it most surely will.  We may be old but we are (a) not stupid and (b) we DO learn from experience.

And I got a flu shot.

Update, 1720 hrs:  Well, we couldn't wait.  Or we waited a couple o' hours until the beer was sufficiently chilled, in our hasty opinion, before we poured about a half-pint of La Fin du Monde for sampling.  And it is GOOD.  That said, we also discovered that re-corking the bottle is a fool's errand of the highest order.  Curses!  

Shorter: it looks like it will get seriously freakin' drunk out this evening.  It's either that or a goodly portion of excellent... not to mention pricey... beer will go to waste.  I think you know which side of that line we'll fall, Gentle Reader.  Prosit!

Losing My... Oops... Our Religion

From last night's PBS Newshour, which I liked a LOT better when it was still "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer" and better still when it was "The MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour."  But let's not pick nits.

The most interesting thing about the piece above and the poll itself (full article here)?  Atheists/agnostics scored highest, followed by Jews and Mormons; atheists/agnostics supposedly make up only four percent of the American population.  You can take an abbreviated version of the poll here.  It's a 15 question quiz as opposed to the 32 questions asked in the "official" poll.  My results:  

I missed the question about the Jewish Sabbath and the question about the significance of the wafer and wine in the Catholic Communion ritual.  I'm also one of those self-identified agnostics, even though I AM a Buddhist by an official act of the United States Gub'mintFor the record, my definition of agnostic: I acknowledge the existence of a supreme being; I just don't know what his/her name is.  I'm fond of saying I HOPE it's something like Phoebe, Aphrodite, or Diana.

And now back to Red Eye.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wine vs. Beer

A lengthy excerpt from Sir Kingsley on the subject (there was much more than these bits but I don't wanna cut 'n' paste the whole damned section on wine)...
But, before I get to a more positive approach, let me describe, in careful stages, not what you should do when serving wine to your guests, but what you nearly always do (if you are anything like me): 

1. Realize that They will be arriving in less than an hour and you have done damn-all about it. 

2. Realize, on your way to the cellar or wherever you keep the stuff, that the red wine to go with the roast beef will be nowhere near the required room temperature if left to warm up unassisted. 

3. Realize, on reaching the stuff, that it has not had time to “settle” after being delivered, and that you should have realized six weeks—or, if you had wanted to give Them a treat, ten years—ago exactly what wine you were going to need tonight. 

4. Decide that They can bloody well take what They are given, grab some bottles and take them to the kitchen. 

5. Take the foil off the necks of the bottles. (Now that the bottlers have mostly decided they can cut costs by leaving the lead out of this, your present task is like removing nailpolish with a fish-knife.) 

6. Look for the corkscrew. 

7. Having (we will assume) found the corkscrew, unscrew the cork that somebody has left screwed on it and open the bottles. 

8. Find something to take the gunk or crap off the bottlenecks and take it off. 

9. Decide that, while any fool can tell when wine is cold, and nearly any fool knows nowadays that a red wine is not supposed to be cold, hardly anyone knows a decent glass of it from a bad one, and stick the bottles in a saucepan of warm water. 

10. Spend parts of the next hour-and-a-half wondering whether old Shagbag, who is reputed to know one wine from another, will denounce you for boiling out whatever quality tonight’s stuff might have had, or will suffer in silence. Also wonder whether the others will think 1971 a rather insultingly recent year for a Médoc, whether to get up another bottle on the off-chance that They can force down what you have “prepared” for the table, whether to boil that too or to bank on Their being too drunk to notice or too polite to mention its coldness, and kindred questions. 

11. Do not enjoy the wine much yourself when you come to drink it. 

Now let me contrast the procedure when serving beer: 

1. Do nothing at all before you get to table, beyond ensuring you have enough. 

2. At table, inquire, “Anyone not for beer?” 

3. Subtract the number so signifying from the total sitting down. 

4. From larder or refrigerator bring one tin of beer for each person concerned, tear off the tabs and start pouring, in the total certainty that the stuff will be all right. 

5. Say, “If anyone wants any more he’s only got to shout.” 

Streamlined version of the above: 

1. Five minutes before everybody goes “in,” put one tin of beer at each place. 

2. Let the sods open and pour themselves. 

The point is that wine is a lot of trouble, requiring energy and forethought. I would agree without hesitation that (if the comparison can properly be made at all) the best wine is much better than the best beer, though many would not, at least in private, and many more will bless you under their breath for giving them a decent Worthington or Double Diamond instead of what they too often get, Algerian red ink under a French label.
Heh.  The more I read, the better it gets.  Count me among those who would not agree that the best wine is better than good beer.  Sir Kingsley isn't dismissive of wine, in fact he makes some solid recommendations on the subject, not the least of which is one I've practiced for years:  always drink wine with your meal when dining out.  This isn't to say I order wine at Mickey Dee's or my local taqueria -- far from it -- but I always order wine in the better restaurants I frequent.  And there's usually a bottle of burgundy in the cupboard, too.

A final note:  Ah, Worthington.  We DO miss Ol' Blighty.

Gotdammit, Google... FIX This!

You ARE beginning to piss me off.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Broadening Our (Literary) Horizons

Enough war.  We're on to something we know a lil bit about but a topic about which there's much more to be learned... like everything in this life.  And what could possibly be a better read for Happy Hour than this?  A smattering of reviews from Amazon:
"Kingsley Amis's drink writing is better than anybody else's, ever..." - Esquire "These books are so delicious they impart a kind of contact high; they make you feel as if you've just had the first sip of the planet's coldest, driest martini." - The New York Times Daily Review "There has never been a more charming, erudite, eager, generous and devoted lover of drink - to judge by his writing - than Kingsley Amis." - The New York Times Sunday Book Review "His treatise on the hangover (both physical and metaphysical) is among his best known for a reason, and is required reading for the dipsomaniacs amongst us." - The Washington Times
Ah.  I think we'll do G&Ts for Happy Hour today.  That's only right and fitting.


Found via a tweet from Chap... the Chevy 789:

Oh, MY!  Built on Corvette running gear and beauteous beyond words, eh?  And only $135K.  Oh, to be rich and famous...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It Got Up and Went

That would be my get up and go, of course, which is true in both the micro and macro senses.  I've known about the macro sense for a number of years now, which is to say: inertia.  It's why my sidebar not-so-proudly states "...currently semi-permanently docked in Portales, NM."  At some point in time we shall strike through the "semi" bit as well, given that we're coming up on our eighth year of being parked here on The High Plains of New Mexico.  I'm the semi-reluctant beneficiary of the world's longest one-month visit, evah.  Or the world as I know it, anyhoo.  You DID know that's how I came to be here, right?  SN1 was stationed at Cannon Airplane Patch back in 2002 and I was in transit between the Old Life in SFO and the New Life in either Austin or Corpus Christi.  I stopped here in P-Ville for that "one month visit" and somehow got held up on the way to that New Life. 

Ah, there's the macro bit.  History, for the most part, and we have a grudging acceptance of the part that is the here and now.  I'm oh-so-slightly concerned about the micro, though.  I have a shopping list with about 20 items on it, enough to justify a trip out to the commissary.  But my inner eight year old is sitting sulkily in the forefront of my consciousness and  refuses to move because he "doesn't wanna."  There's that and then there's the fact that only one item on said grocery list is in the "essential" category, so we will head out to Wally-World instead of the base to get that and a couple of other things.  Eventually.  Some time today.  Probably.

I really need some world-class nagging from time to time.  An elderly gent left to his own devices gathers a lot o' moss.  Metaphors: shaken, not stirred.

Related:  Do a Google image search for "petulant child" just for a laugh.  You get an amazing mixed bag of totally UNrelated images.  Google is a wonderful thing indeed.


And we're still suffering for it, Mr. President.

h/t:  the usual suspects.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

In a Holding Pattern...

... while waiting for today's Big Game.  I'm kinda-sorta watching Michigan beat the Hell out of some third-rate opponent in a blow-out that saw Denard Robinson go out with a knee injury.  There goes Michigan's season if the injury is serious... it'll be ALL downhill from here.

We're on the horns of a dilemma, too.  Do we go where our loyalties lie and watch Stanford hand ND its third consecutive loss and "entertain" ourselves with the gnashing of teeth, loud wailing, and the rendering of garments to shreds?  Not to mention the smearing of ashes all over our body... Or do we watch the no-doubt-about-it better game in Fayetteville in which we have little or no emotional investment? (note to various and sundry redneck SEC homers: this is about the TEAMS, not the frickin' conference)  Decisions, decisions...  I predict the ol' remote will get quite the workout this afternoon.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack

Some sultry sax...

(sigh)  I can't listen to this kinda stuff late at night for obvious reasons.  It goes down well in the heat of the afternoon, though.  No pun and all that.

In other news... we received our latest cigar shipment today and the humidor is FAT.  So much so that we had to resort to the emergency humidor, i.e. a gallon-sized baggie filled with the overflow.  We celebrated the new arrivals by burning a Café con Leche, which is arguably the favorite amongst the various Drew Estate cigars that just came into our possession. Marvelous, just freakin' marvelous. The smoke influenced our choice of music today... I wanted something cool, smooth, and sensuous to accompany the experience. I wasn't disappointed in the least.  In either case.  

That shouldn't be TOO surprising, as we have prior experience with both the cigar and the tune.  One recently (relatively speaking) and one that echoes faintly in the distant halls of memory.

Life is good.

Yet Another "Posted Without Comment"

From My Buddy Ed in Florida:
I met a fairy today that would grant me one wish.
"I want to live forever," I said.
"Sorry" said the fairy, "I'm not allowed to grant wishes like that!"
"Fine," I said, "I want to die after the Democrats get their heads out of their asses!"
"You crafty bastard," said the fairy.

Posted Without Comment

Find Us On Facebook?

Well, not for a couple of hours yesterday, anyway.  (And not me, not ever)  Apropos of the post immediately below this one... several of you Gentle Readers brought it to my attention that FB was down yesterday, as did numerous Tweeters.  Here are two of the best tweets on the subject:
 postsecret: BREAKING NEWS: Facebook is down. Worker productivity rises. U.S. climbs out of recession.  (from web, retweeted by cyberwar)

danicrino: DNS FAILURE: Facebook is down which means 9 months from today, many children will born. (from web, retweeted by FlagGazer)
Heh.  I particularly like the first tweet but the second one ain't bad, either.  FB sez it was a database failure that caused the two hour outage.

Related:  Facebook, the movie?  Well, yes.
The super-popular website that you just looked at (and will probably check again once you finish reading this) takes front and center in The Social Network, which early reviews are calling the best movie of the year. The film, written by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) and directed by David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), is a partly true, partly fictional retelling of the origins of Facebook by two Harvard students -- one of whom would eventually make billions and leave his friend in the dust. It's a pretty daring idea for a movie, and it could have easily been an awful one. So far, everyone seems to think it's terrific -- but will people really line up to see a movie about Facebook?
To answer the last question... not me, once again.  But 500 million other people MIGHT.  

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Calling Mr. Barnum

News item: "Facebook now 'worth $33 billion'."

Counterpoint:  Facebook is not worth $33,000,000,000.  Excerpts:
If you boil it down to what valuations really should be about, discounted future cash flow, it gets completely bizarro-world funny. The rumor is that Facebook will be generating a billion dollars in revenue. That’s certainly real money, right?

Wrong. Real money is what’s left over after you pay your expenses. If the supposed billion dollars Facebook is allegedly pulling in this year was happening at anywhere a decent margin, they wouldn’t have needed a series E round of $120 million from Elevation Partners just three months ago.

But let’s be charitable. Let’s imagine that Facebook miraculously made $200 million this year — a 20% margin. (I don’t think that’s true, otherwise why take another $120 million from Elevation Partners, but hey, let your imagination roam). That would put Facebook’s P/E at some 165.

That’s about 7.5 times as much as Google, the golden cash cow of the internet world. Would you seriously think that Facebook is 7.5 times as good or as promising a business as Google? Get outta here.
Read the whole thing.  What was that about suckers being born every minute?  It's no secret that I have a low opinion of Facebook but my opinion of those who would squander their money on Facebook STOCK is lower still.

Like everyone else in the known universe I DO have regrets about missing out on a couple of IPOs, though.  If I'd have rolled the complete contents of my IRA into MSFT back in the day, or even what was left of it when GOOG went public, I'd be smoking a Cuban cigar while writing this from my condo in Miami Beach... instead of writing from a trailer park in New Mexico.  Coulda-shoulda-woulda, and all that.  I won't be putting any money into Facebook, however.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's Not So Summery...

... for the last day o' summer.  Yeah, your calendar might say today is the first day of autumn but it lies.  Fall doesn't actually arrive until just after 2000 hrs, local.  In the meantime we have gray, gray skies, blustery wind, and impending big-ass thunder showers moving in from the west, as you can plainly see in the radar screen-cap above.

But: no rain yet.  So we're gonna go sit outside and DARE the weather gods to rain on our parade Happy Hour.  Coz the temps are moderate and the wind is just to the lee side of objectionable.  I can handle it.

CMSgt Richard L. Etchberger, Medal of Honor Recipient

From the AFA's Daily Report:
Etchberger Receives Medal of Honor: CMSgt. Richard L. Etchberger on Tuesday posthumously received the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military decoration, from President Obama. Etchberger was honored for his conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity on a Laotian mountaintop on March 11, 1968, that saved the lives of at least three other airmen, but cost him his own life. "Our nation endures because there are patriots like Chief Master Sergeant Richard Etchberger—and our troops who are serving as we speak—who love this nation and defend it," said Obama during the White House award ceremony. He added, "This medal reflects the gratitude of an entire nation." Accepting the MOH on behalf of their father were Etchberger's three sons: Cory, Richard, and Steve. Also in attendance was retired TSgt. John Daniel, one of the airmen whose life Etchberger saved. Etchberger was a ground radar superintendent at a top-secret radar position in Laos known as Lima Site 85. When North Vietnamese ground forces overran the site, Etchberger single-handedly fended them off with an M-16 and helped his wounded comrades to the evacuation sling of a waiting rescue helicopter. When he finally climbed into the sling himself, he was mortally wounded by ground fire. "Chief Etchberger's gallantry, self-sacrifice, and profound concern for his fellow men at risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force," states his award citation. Etchberger will be inducted into the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes on Wednesday.
Etchberger biography
Etchberger MOH citation
Obama's remarks
White House blog entry, including access to award ceremony video
SAF/PA report by TSgt. Amaani Lyle
USAF's Etchberger MOH Web page
For the account of what happened at Lima Site 85, read The Fall of Lima Site 85 from the
  Air Force Magazine archives.
See also Etchberger to Receive Medal of Honor from the Daily Report archives.
All of the links above are worth your time.

RIP, Chief Etchberger.  Thank you, sir. 

Courtesy photo and White House photo by Pete Souza.

That One Day

Then they were walking along the stream together and he said, “Maria, I love thee and thou art so lovely and so wonderful and so beautiful and it does such things to me to be with thee that I feel as though I wanted to die when I am loving thee.” 
 “Oh,” she said. “I die each time. Do you not die?”

“No. Almost. But did thee feel the earth move?”

“Yes. As I died. Put thy arm around me, please.”

“No. I have thy hand. Thy hand is enough.”

He looked at her and across the meadow where a hawk was hunting and the big afternoon clouds were coming now over the mountains.
“And it is not thus for thee with others?” Maria asked him, they now walking hand in hand.
“No. Truly.”
“Thou hast loved many others.”
“Some. But not as thee.”
“And it was not thus? Truly?”
“It was a pleasure but it was not thus.”
“And then the earth moved. The earth never moved before?”
“Nay. Truly never.”
“Ay,” she said. “And this we have for one day.” 
He said nothing.
-- Ernest Hemingway, from "For Whom the Bell Tolls."
"The earth moved" has become the cliché to end all clichés but it was probably fresh and new in 1940 when Hemingway's work was first published.  Me?  I'm all about "And this we have for one day."  Because that's all any of us ever really have... that one day.  If we're lucky we'll have a succession of days, but in the end?  It's that one day.  I'm sure you have yours, Gentle Reader.  I know I have mine.  And I'm grateful for it.

Photo:  Me -- Kyoto, Japan.  1975.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Our Stature In Life Has Increased

We had a minor crisis here at El Casa Móvil De Pennington this past week and I'm pleased to report said crisis has been resolved, thanks to Andy the RV Doctor ("I make house calls!" sez he).   Crisis:  our old toilet... which has a foot-pedal flushing mechanism, like all RV toilets... broke.  The flush pedal mechanism, specifically.  I figgered out a way to flush the danged toilet in between the time it broke and we got our new throne installed.  Which really IS a throne.  Witness:


Like I said... our stature in life has gone up.  I would say "our standing" but that's still the same.  It's only our sitting that's been elevated.

This Is Some Serious Work

A short lil blurb in today's AFA Daily Report:
USAF Breaks Airdrop Record, Again: Air Force transport aircraft dropped 3,800 container delivery system supply bundles in August to troops at remote forward operating bases in Southwest Asia, establishing yet another airdrop record. The August airdrops topped July's mark of 3,600 bundles delivered, the previous record. Mobility airmen averaged more than 99 tons delivered per day in August, which equates to about six million pounds of food, water, equipment, and supplies for the month. "These airdrops are critical to sustaining ground forces at austere locations where other means of re-supply aren't feasible," said Col. David Almand, director of the Combined Air and Space Operations Center's air mobility division, which coordinates, tasks, and executes in-theater air mobility missions. (AMC report by Roger Drinnon)
The piece may be short but the effort sure as Hell ISN'T.  Congrats to Air Mobility Command; it's not often the trash-haulers get the recognition they deserve.  Check out the pic in all its high-res glory... jes click it.

(U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Apropos o' Nuthin'...

I just put this comment up on a post that, for some inexplicable reason, has attracted about 15 spam comments over the course of the last three days:
Haven't you fucking spammers figured this shit out yet? I MODERATE COMMENTS SO YOU'RE NEVER GONNA GET THROUGH!  SO STOP, ALREADY!
There's a special place in Hell for these bastards.  A place where they will have to wade through an infinite amount of spam comments for all freakin' eternity.  The hits will just keep on comin'...

Broadening Our Horizons XXII

That's a Shiner 101... a Czech-style pilsner from that lil brewery in Shiner, Texas (and the glass is MOST appropriate, innit?)... rated "B" by the good folks at Beer Advocate.  The cigar is a "special edition" Man O' War figurado, in a 7x58 size.  We lit the cigar when we set out on our beer run; we shall adjourn to the great outdoors now to finish 'er off.  The pils, too.

And you know there may be more.

Mark Your Calendar

We all know the Autumn Equinox is approaching and will arrive late Wednesday night.  But there's another, rarer treat in store, as well.  From the script of last week's "Stargazer" show on PBS:
Now traditionally the full Moon closest to the autumnal equinox, is called the Harvest Moon. And since the autumnal equinox Wednesday night will be followed by the full Moon only six hours later this year we are following the lead of astronomer Fred Schaaf and calling it the Harvestest Moon. The last time this happened was 1991 and the next time will be 2029.

But the Harvest Moon means even more because even though there is only one official night of the Harvest Moon the visual effects last for three nights, September 22, 23 and 24th. Now normally the Moon rises about 50 minutes later each successive night but the Harvest Moon rises only 20 to 25 minutes later each successive night. This is because the path of the full Moon closest to the autumnal equinox makes a much smaller angle with the horizon than at any other time of year.
I'll prolly miss the next Harvest-est Moon but I'll be outside for this one, cloud cover permitting.  Stay tuned for more "Moon Over the Super Eight!"

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Better Late Than Never

A tune from this afternoon/evening's Happy Hour... Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris - "Right Now:"

It don't get no better than that now, does it?  Lyrics at the link, if'n you're interested.

Recycling a Meme

My favorite flavor of cloud, as reflected in the hood of The Green Hornet...

... and in real-life.

We shall spend the greatest portion of our day under the awning... sipping a cool beer or three, occasionally puffing on a cigar, and reading Hemingway... punctuated with intermittent glances at the sky, of course.  Ah... Another Pleasant Valley Sunday.

Except we're not the least bit cynical about it.


No comment.  None.  Never happened to ME.  Really.  Srsly.  Heh.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

It's Saturday...

... so it's football.  Read as: the day where blogging takes a backseat.  I just finished watching Moogie's Hawgs pull out a cliff-hanger over those Dawgs with a (literal) last minute touchdown to break a tie with 15 seconds left on the clock.  This game just MIGHT turn out to be the best game of the day, as the outcome was in doubt from the middle of the third quarter to the final play.

So now it's on to one of three snoozers... ranked teams against unranked opponents with the proverbial snowball's chance of winning... either 'Bama - Duke, Huskers - Washington, or Gators - Vols*.  Or likely surf between all three.  I'd like to watch AF - Oklahoma, which would be another blow-out (yet one could always HOPE for an upset that would do my heart great good), but that game isn't being televised.

So... we'll mark time until the Irish invade East Lansing late this afternoon.

*Q: Why did Tennessee choose orange as their team color?
  A: You can wear it to the game on Saturday, hunting on Sunday, and picking up trash along the highways the rest of the week.

h/t: Theo Spark, where there are a few more great college ball jokes.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm SUCH a Sucker...

A just-concluded e-mail exchange with Mr. Blythe at
You silver-tongued debbil, you!  Make it three then, please.

You're gonna bankrupt  me, Tim. 


On Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 2:28 PM, Tim Blythe wrote:

Buy 3 and get the 4th free!

Tim Blythe/

Sr. Account Executive                                             

(800) 357-9800 x761                                                                        

-----Original Message-----
From: Buck Pennington
Sent: Thursday, September 16, 2010 4:34 PM
To: Tim Blythe
Subject: Order: Weekend Blitz - 50% Off Drew Estate - 10 Cigars Only $XX.XX

Hey Tim!

I'll have TWO of these samplers, please!

Thanks very much,
That sampler includes the following...
2 x ACID 5 Robusto (5"x54)
2 x Tabak Especial Café con Leche (5.5 x 54)
2 x ACID Opulence 3 Robusto (5"x54)
2 x ACID Kuba Kuba Maduro (5"x54)
2 x ACID Blondie Belicoso (5"x54)
I've smoked all of those sticks and three of 'em are on my "favorites" list.  The humidor will most certainly be FAT next week.  Sucker.

And now it's time for Happy Hour!


Just a couple o' things from "Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds."  There was a LOT that impressed me about this book, but these two vignettes pretty much capture the spirit of a guy who was a true leader of men... and a guy for whom the mission came first, above all else.  First, Gen. Olds on leadership:
Here’s what I’d learned over the years. Know the mission, what is expected of you and your people. Get to know those people, their attitudes and expectations. Visit all the shops and sections. Ask questions. Don’t be shy. Learn what each does, how the parts fit into the whole. Find out what supplies and equipment are lacking, what the workers need. To whom does each shop chief report? Does that officer really know the people under him, is he aware of their needs, their training? Does that NCO supervise or just make out reports without checking facts? Remember, those reports eventually come to you. Don’t try to bullshit the troops, but make sure they know the buck stops with you, that you’ll shoulder the blame when things go wrong. Correct without revenge or anger. Recognize accomplishment. Reward accordingly. Foster spirit through self-pride, not slogans, and never at the expense of another unit. It won’t take long, but only your genuine interest and concern, plus follow-up on your promises, will earn you respect. Out of that you gain loyalty and obedience. Your outfit will be a standout. But for God’s sake, don’t ever try to be popular! That weakens your position, makes you vulnerable. Don’t have favorites. That breeds resentment. Respect the talents of your people. Have the courage to delegate responsibility and give the authority to go with it. Again, make clear to your troops you are the one who’ll take the heat.
Those thoughts are DIRECTLY translatable to any organization, military or civilian.  And there's more wisdom therein than in any six issues of the Harvard Business Review.

Gen. Olds' philosophy in action... where he describes one of his IG visits to a SAC base in the early '70s:
At another base, I asked a CO, “What’s your jet engine test cell reject rate?” This guy, who was on the general’s list, looked at me and answered, “Oh, my staff keeps track of details like that.” I said, “I sat at your standup this morning, Colonel; your major briefed you and he gave you some figures. Have you got any idea what he said, even sort of?” “Yes, sir, it’s around 25 percent, which is quite acceptable. These are old engines, you know, the old J-47s, and . . .” Blah, blah, blah. 

“Well, that was close, Colonel, but I’ll tell you what, either the major was lying to you or he is awfully dumb, because that figure isn’t really close.” He said, “General, I don’t see how you can say that. The major is a good man. He—” “All right then, he’s just dumb! He did not check his figures. Right now your test cell reject rate is running above 50 percent. If you don’t believe me, let me show you how I know this, and let me show you why it is important and let me show you why it is happening.”


I told the colonel, “Let’s get in your staff car and go out to your jet-engine test cell.” A look came across his face and I thought, You sucker! He’d been there two years and he didn’t know where the test cell was—not even the vaguest idea. 

We went and I introduced him to his maintenance chief. I said, “Sarge, let me have those records,” and I showed the commander. “Now, Colonel, here is your true reject rate. What does this mean to you? You are manned 130 percent in your jet-engine maintenance facility. The rest of the air force, outside of SAC, is manned about 75 or 80 percent in their jet-engine maintenance facility. You have all the people. Now, let’s see why your maintenance is so lousy.” 

So we went to a huge maintenance hangar and I continued, “Now, Colonel, I want you to walk from this wall down to that wall and by the time we get across this floor you’re going to tell me what’s wrong with your maintenance.” Well, of course, he couldn’t do it. I walked him back and forth a couple of times, finally saying, “Don’t you see anything?” He replied, “Nope.” “Show me a four-striper. Show me just one out here in this big repair setup.” There weren’t any. “Now, let’s go find those 130 percent. You are about 200 percent manned on the top three NCO grades. Let’s go find them.” 

The few we found were sitting around in offices with their feet up. “Now, let’s go over to the NCO club.” It was about eleven o’clock in the morning. There they were. All the E-7s, E-8s, and E-9s were sitting around drinking beer and coffee. And he wondered what was wrong with his jet-engine maintenance! Hell, he didn’t even know that anything WAS wrong. Now, that is ignorance. He was working in a system designed to promote this guy and to reward his ignorance. 
Now do ya see why Gen. Olds was one of my biggest heroes while I was in the AF?  The flying stories in his memoirs are good... very good... but the meat of the story lies in how he fought "the system."  There ain't many like him today, and that's my BIGGEST beef with the services in this day and age.  And it ain't just the Air Force, either... it's ALL of 'em.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Recycling a note I just sent to a friend who inquired about my day...
It's been one of those days... I'm just in from a run over to The Big(ger) City™ where I did battle with Sprint.  Long story, but the Reader's Digest version is I have automatic bill pay -- they debit my credit card every month.  Well, my card expires this month and I need to update the expiration date.  No can do.  Not through Sprint's "customer service" phone line and not at their sales office.  I have to do it through their web site, which REFUSES to register me.  The manager at the sales point in Clovis tried to assist me and it wouldn't let HIM register me.  ARRRGH.  Thus yet another bid'niz gets added to my fire-bombing list...

I whipped by the base to pick up meds and the gate guard told me I wasn't registered in the base ID system for some strange reason.  I've been registered since they put the program in place a couple o' years ago... but I had to go RE-register.  ARRRGH, Part II.  No big deal... it took all of ten minutes... but it was out of my way and was a stop I didn't plan on making.  It seems like the universe is conspiring against me today.

And there are big-ass thunderstorms in the neighborhood, so it looks like there will be no Happy Hour.  ARRRGH, Part III.

Some days it bees like this.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I thought not.  Unless your name is Morgan.  You can take this 30-some-odd question quiz here to find out how progressive you are... or aren't.  I personally think the quiz is full o' shit, like most of these things.  It asks all the wrong questions and very few of the correct ones.

I'm off the charts as far as our progressive friends are concerned, which is another reason to think the quiz is dubious, at best.  That said, the upper range of this graphic is telling, innit?

h/t:  Blog-Bud Christina.


Occasional Reader Katy sent along this video as a stand-alone .wmv attachment, so naturally I had to go look for it on the 'net.

Coz it's too good NOT to share, eh?  Mmmm... pelican fricassée!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back On Our Head

The post title is a variation on the punchline from an old joke about the denizens of Hell and the proprietor of that space.  One could just as easily apply it to the 'toon above or to YrHmblScrb hisownself, who took a personal day yesterday.  I DO like the benefits, such as they are, with this job.  The pay sucks but there are perks... like working from home, surprise gifts from Occasional Readers that arrive in the mail or are sometimes delivered in person (Thanks Bob, Gordon, Jenny, Lou, and others too numerous to name!), and the boss is a REALLY great guy.  Well, most of the time.  He gets a lil testy from time to time and I think that's because he's in need of "a woman's touch," to be sorta delicate about the whole thing.


Yesterday sucked.  We stayed up too late, slept too late, and the weather was miserable.  The sky alternated in between a steel gray overcast and towering dark cumulus clouds that threatened serious rain but only spit on us from time to time.  Said rain wasn't enough to wet the streets but it was just enough to keep us indoors.  It was also quite warm, humid, and windy... which is never a good combination, no matter where you are.

Our mood last evening was such that we passed up Happy Hour altogether; no beer, no G&Ts, no single malt, and no cigar.  I often use the phrase "I do that because I CAN" but yesterday was a case of not doing it to see if I could.  I suppose I'm not an alcohol junkie yet because I'm feeling no ill effects from a (close to) 48 hour bout of abstinence.

Things are much better today in all respects.  Our skies are clear and blue, the wind has died down (sorta), and the humidity is at a manageable level.  There WILL be a Happy Hour today.


Finally... from our Taiwanese friends, what The One REALLY meant to say...


"Take a vacation.  Go somewhere nice.  Like Spain.  Wait."  Heh.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Broadening Our Horizons XXI

About a year and a half ago... in February, 2009... I put this up:


This is why I sometimes wish I lived in Colorado... and one of the better things I've ever read about Valentines Day (apropos of nothing):

Dark Kriek

For many years we’ve celebrated Valentine’s Day at New Belgium Brewing by creating a special small batch beer for our family and friends. These beers tend to be a little funky, fruitful and straight from the heart. This year we decided to share the love.
New Belgium Brewing’s Dark Kriek is a limited edition Belgian kriek or cherry beer. Much darker than a traditional kriek with a dash of sour cherry up front, our Dark Kriek is actually a blend of two beers. We start with a light, dry, tannic beer aged two years in oak barrels and combine this with a heavier, dark ale and cherries to create one smooth cherry blast of love.  8% ABV
(ed note: "share the love" is rather limited... from a New Belgium Tweet: "lowdown on location for Dark Kriek (cases by state) CO 500, CA 500, WA 150, OR 150, IL 25 - and 25 cases to our Liquid Center")
But then again... Colorado has all that danged snow. Never mind. Priorities, yanno.
We no longer have to worry about all that danged snow as we enjoy a Lips of Faith.  Witness:

Lips of Faith, accompanied by an Acid Opulence 3

Apparently New Belgium has broadened their distribution channels this year; I picked up a couple of these 22-ouncers out at the Class VI Store earlier today.  A full verdict will be forthcoming but my initial impressions... after a couple o' sips... are good.  The cherry flavor is pronounced but in an oh-so-good sorta way.  This beer is more like a fine red wine than the run o' the mill brewery output.  And the deep dark red color is magnificent in the sunlight!

So it's back outside to continue as we've begun.