Friday, January 31, 2014

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack

A tune from the new-to-me Bruno Mars...

My pride, my ego, my needs, and my selfish ways
Caused a good strong woman like you to walk out my life
Now I never, never get to clean up the mess I made, ooooooh
And it haunts me every time I close my eyes
Poignant lyrics, no?

So.  I was reading this article in the NYT and got curious.  So we went out to the Tube o' You and listened to three or four of his songs.  Young Bruno is pleasant enough, I suppose, but I'm not in the market for a Michael Jackson clone.  That said, there's this from that article I linked:
Mr. Mars, 28, the best-selling singer-songwriter of hits like “Locked Out of Heaven,” “Gorilla” and “Grenade” and, as of last Sunday, a Grammy Award-winner for “Unorthodox Jukebox,” which won best pop vocal album, was an unexpected choice when the National Football League announced him in September as the halftime performer. 


“But as you go through your daily life,” Mr. Hamilton continued, “you hear more Bruno Mars music than many of the other artists who could possibly be approached. His music is omnipresent.”

Mr. Bongiovanni of Pollstar pointed to Mr. Mars as a highly successful and lucrative performer who still had plenty of room to grow. 


“Rather than a dinosaur performing,” Mr. Bongiovanni said, “people are going to see someone whose career is actually on the upswing.” 

With halftime artists like Mr. Springsteen or the Who, he said, “you couldn’t make a case for them heading toward a new peak.” For Mr. Mars, Mr. Bongiovanni said, “his best days are ahead of him.”
Mark Quenzel, who as the N.F.L.’s senior vice president for programming is involved in the booking of Super Bowl talent, said that Mr. Mars would help the halftime show fulfill its goal of reaching as wide an audience as possible. 

“You try to figure out who’s going to be entertaining to someone who’s 18, and who’s going to be entertaining to someone who’s 58 or 68,” Mr. Quenzel said. “Because they’re all going to be watching.”
Well... good on the NFL for this choice and I applaud them for doin' so, as I really do believe America has had enough o' dinosaur rock.  But Mr. Quenzel got one thing wrong: THIS 68 year old ain't gonna be watching.  It's not that I don't like football, I do... but the kinda football **I** like is usually played on Saturdays.  A pox on the NFL.

Those Inscrutable Asians...

... get a lil more scrutable with this:  

Heh.  That guy might be better than any US baseball announcer I ever heard.  Sorry, Mr. Harwell.

H/t: those fine folks at the Shoebox blog.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I Might Could Make Some Woman a Good Wife

We get all geeky about the strangest things sometimes.  Like vacuum cleaners.  Like this.

The old and the new (and the oldest, if'n ya wanna include me) side by side.  It came to pass that I got really, seriously tired of horsing around that monstrosity you see on the left, for it is big.  And heavy.  And hard to maneuver into certain spaces.  And then there's the cord which must be disconnected and reconnected at varying intervals during the vacuuming extravaganza, at which time I usually tripped over it at least once.

No more.

What you see on the right is the lightweight, cordless, easy-to-handle Dyson DC-44 Animal.  Mr. Dyson is pretty damned proud of his nifty lil vacuums but I got a one-time good deal on a factory-refurbished machine at Amazon.

So.  How does it work?  Quite well, thank ya.  I've used it twice and it does as good a job as the monstrosity did, if not better.  I have a feeling my house is gonna be a lot cleaner from now on, simply because this machine is SO much easier to use than the old one.

Now there's a good wife, eh?

Not Your Father's Air Force XXXIV

Back in my day lieutenants looked like this:

The take-away was you didn't know whether to salute 'em or get 'em a binky.  Nowadays?  Some look like this:

There are more photos and a write-up on Lt. Quaco at The Daily Mail.  Yes, MA'AM!

H/t: Milblogging.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack

I'm not immune to the charms of a good pop tune* and this is one such:

No more carefree laughter
Silence ever after
Walking through an empty house, tears in my eyes
Here is where the story ends, this is goodbye

Knowing me, knowing you (ah-haa)
There is nothing we can do
Knowing me, knowing you (ah-haa)
We just have to face it, this time we're through
Part and parcel of that conversation...
She:  But can't we still be friends?
He:  Ummm... no.  No, we can't.
I dunno just how many times I've heard that "let's just be friends" thing but I can tell you it's NEVER worked out for me.  Ever.  I've heard of "relationships gone bad" where the parties remained friends but that sorta thing just ain't in my playbook.  I suppose I'm just a vindictive SOB.

*Full disclosure: I heard this tune on the Van Morrison station at meTunes Radio this afternoon.  Which makes me wonder... just what in the HELL does Abba and Van Morrison have in common?  Something?  Anything?  Nothing that **I** can see, but you know how that works... taste is all in our mouths.

I Didn't Watch It

That might have been my reaction.  That, or getting sick to my stomach.  I just can't take this guy any longer.

Added, somewhat later:  That other Old AF Sarge also posted about the SOTU today.  And I had to comment, of course, coz that's what we DO.  Here's what I said:
I think the SOTU would be a LOT better if it had a Benny Hill soundtrack... sotto voce... running for the entire time the president is in the House. By that I mean it would begin when the Sergeant At Arms announces "Mr. Speaker... the President of the United States!" and continue as he autographs his way out the door after he leaves the podium. Maybe we could get the networks to speed it up like a Benny Hill chase scene, too. A LOT more people would watch.
You don't know what I'm on about?  Well, lemmee fix that for ya.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Science Experiment

So... we went rummaging around in our cabinets this afternoon, the objective bein' to find sumthin' suitable for dinner.  "A-ha," thinks I, "a couple o' braised pork chops, some cut corn, parsleyed redskin potatoes, and a salad would be good.  I think we might have some redskin potatoes lurking about... lemmee check."  And we found these...

Click to embiggen... if you dare.
Oh, well.  Back to the drawing board, as it were, after annotating our shopping list.  There are times when I think know I don't cook NEAR enough.

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack

Our first post today... about true love, after a fashion... brought this tune to mind.

Hollywood calls you on the telephone I want you to turn down the part
And when we're ballin' baby, ride on top so I never ever strain my heart

And I'll call that true love, true and sweet
That ain't the kind of love I'm gettin'

But baby that's the kind of love I need
Yup, that IS the kinda love I need, now that you mention it.  Dr. Hook was always a fun band to listen to.  Hell, they even made the cover, dontcha know.

Just a Lil Anomaly I Noticed

We're in the habit o' posting frequently about our WX... which just might be the thing we most often post about.  Weather Underground is the source of our WX information and we usually post the readings from Cannon Airplane Patch, like this:

But we do have a lot o' WX stations to choose from, though.  Note:

I'll cycle through a few o' those every day, just to see if there's any variation in the temps between locations and there usually are... but usually only by a degree or two, as you can see.  But look at these:

That's a LOT of altitude variation in an area that's essentially as flat as the proverbial pancake.  You sure can't see it with the nekkid eye.

Oh.  One more thing: it's frickin' cold outside.  Again.

♪♫ I Cain't Get No Saaaa-tis-FACT-shun... ♫♪

With apologies to Mick and the Boys, but there's this lil blurb from Digg...
My cold-sheeted friends can attest to the fact that whenever you're going through a dry spell, it feels like literally everyone else is having approximately 20 quadrillion orgasms a day, all bestowed by a loving partner. Each tunnel you pass reminds you of a vagina, each subway column a phallus, and even the wind seems to hum, "You need to get laaaaid." If it weren't for your fastidious single person hygiene routine, you are certain cobwebs would form between your thighs and skin would grow back in places it shouldn't. This feeling of unhumpedness may be isolating, but according to a new survey, being sexless isn't that rare. 

The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles prodded into the private lives of 15,000 British adults and found that about 20 percent of individuals ages 25-44 haven't had sex in the last month. Of 25-34 year-olds, 19.5 percent of men and 20 percent of women haven't been laid in four weeks. For ages 45-54, that increases to 21.1 for men and 27.9 percent for women. They found that, on average, women were 8 percent more likely to report dry spells than men.  


So if the bar is open, but there hasn't been a customer in ages, remember that the 20 percent pool of unlaid citizens is also swimming with virgins and people who haven't had sex in months or years. Nothing too unusual. There's a lot of porn to watch, and hey, it all worked out for Liz Lemon in the end. 
Well, now... isn't THAT interesting (aside from the fact I had to google "Liz Lemon")!  If you chase that link above you'll come to an article in The Guardian, which has this lil graph:

I'm reasonably shocked by the lack o' activity in the 65-74 age range but I suppose I shouldn't be.  There's also the fact the survey is British; perhaps we Yanks are more libidinous, e.g., I've heard stuff about those "retirement villages" in Florida.

As for me?  The only thing I'll say is this: if you'd have told me ten years ago I'd go this long without getting laid I'd have asked you to share a little o' what you're smoking.  But then again, I was in that 55-64 age bracket then and things were different.  Nowadays things are REALLY different although it's mostly a matter o' choice, in my case.  It's not so bad, really.  Like Kate sez... "there's a lot o' porn to watch."  free smileys

Monday, January 27, 2014

Cannon In the News: So Long, Spooky

From the Usual USAF Source...
Cannon Spectres Pass the Torch
Eight AC-130H Spectre gunships taxi into position on the flightline prior to the final AC-130H mission conducted at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Jan. 16. The C-130 began its operational service with the Air Force in 1956 and AC-130 development began in the early 1960s.(U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Matthew Plew)
The venerable AC-130H gunship bowed-out with an eight ship formation flight marking its last mission with the 16th Special Operations Squadron at Cannon AFB, N. M., this month. "Being able to get all eight of the AC-130H aircraft up is remarkably unique and required everyone to play a vital role," said 16th SOS Commander Lt. Col. James Mott, after the Jan. 16 flight. The unit is retiring the legacy AC-130H as part of Air Force Special Operations Command's transition to the new AC-130J, which is due to begin operational service in 2015. "As we close the books of the C-130H aircraft, we remember how phenomenal this plane was for more than 40 years," Mott said. "Now we transition onto newer models of the C-130 and begin to write new chapters of Air Force history." (Cannon report by SrA Xavier Lockley)
One assumes it's just Cannon that's ceasing operations with the AC-130H and other AFSOC units will continue to fly the current Spectre platform until the AC-130J comes on-line next year.  

There are seven high-res photos of the Spectre and the final mission ceremony at the "Cannon report" link, you should go look.  Those pics include one that would have had EVERY first sergeant I ever had during my career tearing their hair... assuming they had hair; some did not... out.  Why?  Because there are at least four people with their hands in their pockets in the group photo of the 16th SOS.  "Not your father's Air Force," indeed.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


It's one of THOSE days... I stayed up way too late, got up way too late, and my brain is stuck in low gear even after three cups o' coffee.  The mail has been read, the overnight reviews of last night's hockey extravaganza in El-Eh have been read (and they were almost all good; here's one such from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail), and we've made the blog rounds.  One more cup and the coffee will be done, or at least all of it that I want.

I suppose I should have watched the Rangers-Devils game at Yankee Stadium today but I didn't... for a couple o' reasons.  (1) I got up too late and the game was already in progress when we rolled out and (2) the game is on Big NBC, which means I'd have it in Standard Definition, as opposed to HD (I don't get ANY network teevee in HD, thanks to those shitheads wonderful people at Dish).  I'm spoiled when it comes to hockey and just won't watch it in SD any longer... unless the Wings are playing.  We DO make sacrifices when the need arises, but otherwise?  Meh.

We normally go looking for a suitable re-run when we have nothing on a Sunday but I'm too damned lazy to even consider that.  So we'll just whine.

There is one bright spot: the weather is brilliant for late January.

It's nice today but it won't stay that way, as winter comes back in for a two-day stay beginning tomorrow.  C'mon SPRING!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

And Then There's This...

...which made me laugh right out loud:

Still and even I suppose we'll watch it this evening.  We'll watch and laugh... a lot.

Saturday: An Amazing Animation

From the Digg site, all there is about this video: "Using the 2.5D effect, Rino Stefano Tagliafierro brought these paintings to life from Caravaggio to Rubens."

Some of those were a little bid weird and gory but most were quite nice.

From the Usual Source, of course.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Rejoice, Fanbois, Rejoice!

The Mac turns 30 today and Cupertino is celebrating.  Here's the current Apple homepage:

And there's this, about that (from 9to5Mac):
In addition to interviews with the press, Apple is celebrating 30 years of Mac with a full-bleed graphic on its homepage, which links to a minisite that plots how the Mac evolved over the years. The message says that Apple made the Macintosh with a promise to get “the power of technology .. in the hand of everyone”. “This promise has been kept.”, it reads. The dedicated minisite depicts a (scrollable) timeline of the major models of Mac since 1984, spanning the PowerBook, the iMac and ending with the Retina MacBook Pro and the brand new Mac Pro.
We can't have a celebration without posting this, of course:

The iconic "1984" ad, which just might be the best thing about the Mac, ever.  I'm sure your mileage may vary, especially if you're a fanboi.

Zombies Doin' Good

This is fitting:

I'm sure there are other, similar uses for the zombies, like eating those frickin' fat ladies that block all traffic by stopping and gossiping in the aisles of grocery stores.  I'm sure you can think of other situations that merit a full-blown zombie attack, Gentle Reader.

H/t: commenter Alex at the "Beer and Whiskey Bros."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

We'll Be Indoors If You Want Us

That's mainly coz Ol' Man Winter has decided to put in a brief appearance here on The High Plains o' New Mexico...

"Aiiieee!"... to coin a phrase.  We'll be back to normal tomorrow, though.  Supposedly.  So it's not all THAT bad.

You Think YOU Have 'Net Problems?

Think again, coz you could be one of 500 million people in China who had NO inter-tubes access yesterday.  From the NYT (subscription may be required):
SAN FRANCISCO — The story behind what may have been the biggest Internet failure in history involves an unlikely cast of characters, including a little-known company in a drab building in Wyoming and the world’s most elite army of Internet censors a continent away in China.
On Tuesday, most of China’s 500 million Internet users were unable to load websites for up to eight hours. Nearly every Chinese user and Internet company, including major services like Baidu and, was affected.

Technology experts say China’s own Great Firewall — the country’s vast collection of censors and snooping technology used to control Internet traffic in and out of China — was most likely to blame, mistakenly redirecting the country’s traffic to several sites normally blocked inside China, some connected to a company based in the Wyoming building.


“I have never seen a bigger outage,” said Heiko Specht, an Internet analyst at Compuware, a technology company based in Detroit. “Half of the world’s Internet users trying to access the Internet couldn’t.”

Those domain-name servers, which act like an Internet switchboard, routed traffic from some of China’s most popular sites to an Internet address that, according to records, is registered to Sophidea, a company based, at least on paper, in that Wyoming building, in Cheyenne. It is unclear where the company or its servers are physically based, however.

With so much Internet traffic flooding Sophidea’s Internet address, Mr. Specht said he believed it would have taken less than a millisecond for the company’s servers to crash.
Yup.  Domain Name Server crashes or other such DNS malfunctions will do it every time.  As will clue-free Chinese censors who direct an entire nation's internet traffic to an obscure location in Wyoming.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

This Couple Has a LOT o' Friends

And said friends are pretty talented, too.  Via Cassandra, via Bookworm Room, this:

Now isn't that just a brilliant feel-good kinda moment?  I was ear-to-ear grins while watching this... twice.  Bookworm has a bit of a back-story and you should go read.

Not Your Father's Air Force XXXIII

A few bits from the AFA's Daily Report beginning with...
O, my aching ass:
Hey Spike, It's Friday!
Morale is back—at least on Fridays—thanks to new uniform policy changes published by the Air Force this week in response to airmen's feedback over the past few years. "The policy changes revolve around …heritage, team building, esprit de corps, and unit pride," said Col. Patrick Doherty, director of Air Force services, in a Jan. 17 release. Single color T-shirts with a unit crest, known as "morale patches," and flight suit nickname-badges will now be allowed at unit commander's discretion, provided they are uniform and tasteful, states the release. Additionally, airmen who served with other branches will now be able to wear non-Air Force qualification badges on their ABUs. "The increased wear of the ABU in-garrison" on top of airmen's desire to wear what they've earned "makes authorized wear on the ABU a logical step," said Lt. Gen. Sam Cox, deputy personnel chief. Other updates include reversing a ban on brightly colored running shoes in physical training uniform, and allowing non-black mobile phones in uniform.
I really am speechless.  Let's have a palate cleanser, please.  Like this:
Eerie Glow

Air Frame: An A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 127th Wing is parked beneath a shelter on a foggy morning Jan. 11, 2014, at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich. Selfridge Air National Guard Base has been used as a military air field since 1917. (Air National Guard photo by TSgt. Robert Hanet)
And then there's this:
While We're In the Neighborhood

An F-22 Raptor conducted a fly-by at the Bahrain International Air Show on Jan. 16. But where did it come from? An Air Force Headquarters spokesman said F-22s are "currently deployed to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia," making them available for the show without making a dedicated trip from CONUS for the occasion. The flyby is "one way we can showcase US military aircraft at a premier air show," the spokesman said. The F-22 and a B-1B bomber—also based in the region—will make flybys, but not be on static display, although a number of US military aircraft, mostly Navy, will be. "We have a longstanding relationship with the air show and our regional military partners and we hope that it will enhance our future relationships," the spokesman said. Participation "enhances our interoperability and demonstrates our shared commitment to regional security and stability." Air Force officials have previously disclosed that F-22s have rotated to an unnamed base in the region of the Persian Gulf, especially during heightened tensions with Iran. Last March, an F-22 warned off Iranian F-4s, which were intercepting a USAF MQ-1 Predator drone over the Persian Gulf. Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh told attendees at AFA's Air & Space Conference in September that the F-22 inspected one F-4's weapons load from below—apparently unnoticed—and then "pulled up on their left wing and called them and said, 'You really ought to go home.'"
—John A. Tirpak
In re: the highlighted bits... I knowI know!  (insert smiley-face thingie here)  And regarding that Iranian F-4... I'll bet the aircrew had to change their shorts when they got home.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Warbird Restoration

Re-blogged from The Lexicans:
There’s a great article about restoring old warbirds in this month’s issue of Air Force Magazine.  Here are the lede grafs and a screen-shot of one of the article’s accompanying pics:
The scarcity of some World War II airframes today drives a small industry that can take what can only be described as airplane DNA and deliver a restored, flying aircraft. Restoration technology now makes it feasible to resurrect historic aircraft from little more than dented scraps of metal.
A striking example of this artistry is one Curtiss P-40C Tomahawk that survived a crash landing in 1942 to emerge as an award-winning restoration indistinguishable from the day it rolled off the Curtiss assembly line in 1941. The restoration shunned the iconic, but now ubiquitous, “Flying Tiger” shark’s mouth paint scheme to create instead a rugged-looking US Army Air Corps fighter of the type that rose to meet Japanese warplanes over Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
The Tomahawk’s odyssey began when it was earmarked for the British Royal Air Force and then transferred to the Soviet Union in December 1941. Identified with the RAF number AK295, it was technically a Tomahawk IIB—essentially equivalent to the USAAC’s P-40C.
The text version of the article is here but I recommend reading the PDF version for the photos.
The audience at The Lexicans is primarily former military pilots and folks who worked on military aircraft but I think the article would be of interest to EIP's readership as well, if only for the engineering that's in it.

Three and a Half Minutes o' Amazing

You MUST watch this in full-screen HD.

I'm familiar with most of what's shown here, given it was shot in San Francisco.  SFO is arguably THE most beautiful city in America and there's plenty of evidence for that argument in this video.

The vid almost makes me homesick... almost.  That said, I think the two and a half years I spent there was quite enough.

Here's another one... equally impressive, if not more so.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack

So... there we were, sittin' out on the verandah when my absolute FAVORITE Pure Prairie League tune came on.  And it's transported we were.  So today's Happy Hour Soundtrack is a re-run...

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack

So there I was, sitting on the verandah, deep into today's WSJ, puffing occasionally on my second cigar of the day and enjoying my second beer when Pandora decides to bring this ol' chestnut around ...

...which stopped me dead in my tracks.  I shut the Kindle, sang along, and fell back into that same, oh-so-lovely daydream that happens EVERY time I hear this song.  
Amie what you wanna do?
I think I could stay with you
For a while, maybe longer
Longer if I do
I knew an Am(ie)y once upon a time... well over 30 years ago... in both a space and time that's long ago and far away.  "My" Amy was a friend of a friend who came to Westby, Montana to visit and stayed at my place for the duration of her visit, mainly because the mutual friend Amy came to see was a single female airperson who lived in the barracks and I had a pretty nice house with a comfy couch.  Amy slept on that couch the first night she was in Westby but never again after that.  Strange how that sorta thing happens...

Amy's visit in Westby lasted only a week or perhaps a little longer, but what a week that was!  The girl was prolly 20 years of age at that time and in her prime; I was three years on the wrong side of 30 but that was close enough for gub'mint work.  I wound up taking a few days of unplanned leave just to spend as much time with this woman as I possibly could before she vanished into my past.  That was a GOOD decision, Gentle Reader.

Young Amy and I corresponded for a time after she returned to Ohio but nothing more happened after that; our communication ceased after a while.  Well, nothing happened except for The Second Mrs. Pennington finding Amy's letters to me shortly after TSMP and I married... and she subsequently burned them (along with all the other letters I'd received from former lovers), without my permission.   Which is QUITE another story and one that still pisses me off when I think about it, even after all these years.

The image isn't the Amy I knew (I found it in a generic Google search for "dark eyed beauty"), but it's close.
Ah, Former Happy Days.  We can get SO carried away when thinkin' about our past.


Sometimes we observe it, sometimes we don't.  A quick search of our archives shows we've posted on the holiday every year since 2008, but not before that.  Here's an interesting set o' facts about the holiday, from the Usual Source o' Facts as I know it:
Overall, in 2007, 33% of employers gave employees the day off, a 2% increase over the previous year. There was little difference in observance by large and small employers: 33% for firms with over 1,000 employees; and, 32% for firms with under 1,000 employees. The observance is most popular among nonprofit organizations and least popular among factories and manufacturers.[18] The reasons for this have varied, ranging from the recent addition of the holiday, to its occurrence just two weeks after the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, when many businesses are closed for part or sometimes all of the week. Additionally, many schools and places of higher education are closed for classes; others remain open but may hold seminars or celebrations of King's message. Some factories and manufacturers used MLK Day as a floating or movable holiday. Many business that used to close on Presidents' Day now stay open on that day and close on MLK Day instead.*
I don't believe I ever got MLK Day off while I was working.  I certainly didn't get the day off while I was in the military because the Feds didn't observe MLK Day as a holiday until 1986 (I retired in 1985).  Neither one of my civilian employers recognized the holiday, either.  So, chances are you work for the gub'mint in one way or another if you have the day off today.  The rest o' you should quit goofing off and get back to work.

*I removed a lot o' the links in the above paragraph.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Outrageous Set Decoration

So... right now I'm watching an old Stones concert on AXS and just HAD to put this up:

The song is "Honky-Tonk Women" and that's about a 30-foot woman of the blow-up kind, quite literally, meaning it's an inflatable stage prop of gigantic size.  She has a friend on the other side o' the stage and while I THOUGHT I took three pictures only one was in the mePhone.  Oh well, I'm not gonna go back, rewind the show and re-shoot what I missed.  You'll just have to make do with the one shot.  She's blonde, btw... and perfectly slutty.  Oh, my... YES.

Boy, I sure would like to have one o' those.  Wouldn't that look GREAT out front o' the house?

Just minutes later...  AXS went to commercial when I re-started the show so I thought "what the hell" and rewound to shoot these:

I'm VERY easily amused, aren't I?

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack...

Peter Green with the oft-covered "Steady Rollin' Man"...

I'm a hard workin' man, have been for many years, I know
I'm a hard workin' man, have been for many long years, I know
And some cream puff's usin' my money, ooh well, babe, but that'll never be no more

You can't give your sweet woman, everything she wants in one time
ooh hoo ooo, you can't give your sweet woman, everything she wants in one time
Well, boys, she get ramblin' in her brain, hmm mmm mmm, some monkey man on her mind
Heh.  Truer words, and all that... but we digress.

Eric Clapton prolly owns the most widely heard version o' this tune, which he recorded on "461 Ocean Boulevard," back in 1974:

And here's the original Robert Johnson recording of the same tune...

Mr. Johnson recorded the original version in 1937... 19-30-freakin'- seven!  Who sez rock 'n' roll ain't got no history?

As for me... I like Peter Green's version best, even though I own all three of the above versions.  Play da blooze, boys... play da blooze!

Puck Luck

That's an old hockey term and the Wings have been decidedly short o' said luck for the past ten games or so, snake-bit, even.  Until last night...

That's the El-Eh call on the goal, you can see the way the Dee-troit broadcast team saw the goal here (I'd post Mickey Redmond's call but the NHL's embed code is hosed).

Key words: "non-reviewable."  The puck was clearly out o' play when it hit the netting but somehow BOTH refs missed it.  I'd be pretty pissed if I was an El-Eh fan but I'll take it as a Wings fan.  The Wings went on to win the shoot-out, 3-2.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Saturday: Springsteen?

Yup... TWO of 'em:

I gotta give props to both Fallon and Springsteen; that was pretty good.  And speakin' o' rock stars...

No!  Don't kill Ziggy!  Don't EVER kill Ziggy!

Friday, January 17, 2014

In Today's Mail...

... these:

That's a new Drew Estate pewter ashtray, as well, part o' an introductory offer for a new cigar from Drew Estate, the Kuba Grande.  There aren't any reviews of this stick to be found on these inter-tubes, mainly coz it's so new (and I looked).  That said, you'll note the stick sitting in my ashtray is about half gone and I'm pleased to report the Grande is worthy.  I like the big 6x60 size, the taste is smooth and spicy, and it has a remarkably good draw.  We may see an encore performance o' this cigar once the initial box o' ten has been consumed.  In the meantime it's good to have a fat humidor once again.

We took our first beer and what we've smoked of this cigar on the verandah this afternoon, which is where we'll be headed once we finish up with this post.  It's a lil chilly outdoors as we speak... 53 degrees with light winds out o' the southeast... but it's not all THAT bad.  We'll make do.


There was this lil blurb earlier this week from the Usual USAF Source:
Fiscal 2014 Omnibus Spending Bill Unveiled

Lawmakers on Monday released the Fiscal 2014 omnibus appropriations bill, the legislation that would provide discretionary funding for the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year and supersede the continuing resolution that expires on Jan. 15. Among the 12 regular appropriations bills included in the $1.012 trillion spending package is defense legislation that allocates $486.9 billion for base defense activities and $85.2 billion for overseas contingency operations, according to the House Appropriations Committee's defense summary. "This meets spending caps set in the Ryan-Murray budget agreement and denies the extreme cuts that would have occurred under the next round of sequestration, which would have had dire repercussions for our national defense," states the summary. The defense funding supports "a high level of military readiness," states the summary. The omnibus would also partially rescind language in the 2013 Bipartisan Budget Act that reduced military retiree benefits. It would "exempt medically retired personnel and survivor benefit plan recipients from having their cost-of-living benefits temporarily reduced," states the summary. "This will ensure disabled veterans and surviving families receive the full benefits they are due," it states. (See Rogers release, Mikulski release, Senate bill summary.) (See also Triggering Another Sequester.)
What this REALLY means...
Under the current military retirement system, members of our armed forces can receive pension payments and health care benefits after serving for at least 20 years, regardless of their age.  In the case of a service member who retires at age 38, pension payments and health coverage could easily continue for more than 40 years, totaling over 60 years of pay and benefits for 20 years of service, a very unusual – and expensive – benefit. Currently, military retirees of all ages receive annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), which increase these payments according to the consumer price index (CPI), a common measure of inflation. Beginning in 2016, the BBA provision will reduce this COLA by one percentage point (i.e., to CPI minus one percentage point), for working-age military retirees only. When those retirees reach age 62, their pension payments going forward will bump up as if the lower COLA had never applied, and from then on, they will receive a higher annual COLA based on the full CPI. This modest and reasonable reform would reduce lifetime retirement pay by about 6 percent—from $1.7 million to $1.6 million—for an Army sergeant first class retiring at age 38. Senator Patty Murray and Representative Paul Ryan have pledged to make a technical adjustment to exempt military retirees with disabilities from the change.
That's an excerpt from an op-ed in The Hill written by retired general/flag officers from three of the four uniformed services*.  I'm with the generals on this issue; the COLA cuts going into effect are quite small and are only temporary.  Full disclosure requires me to mention that MY ox isn't the one getting gored, however, seein' as how I'm well over 62 years of age and will get the full COLA... this year it's a whopping one percent raise, or about 15 Yankee Dollars**.  I'll have to give some thought about how I'm gonna spend this windfall.  I'll prolly wind up spending it all in one place, as is my wont.

* The men are Gen. James L. Jones (USMC, retired), Adm. Gregory Johnson (USNA, retired), Major Gen. Arnold Punaro (USMC, retired) and Gen. Charles Wald (USAF, retired).  You should read that whole op-ed, btw.  They make good sense.

** Those kind folks at the Social Security Administration are also giving me a raise this year, which, at just under 50 Yankee Dollars, is considerably more than what the Air Force is doling out.  In any event, you really SHOULD get back to work coz I need your tax dollars to keep flowing into the Federal coffers.  And thank you for supporting me in my dotage.  We are oh-so-grateful.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack: Trains

In keepin' with our post immediately below... these tunes.  First up, Mr. Kottke with some fine, fine finger pickin'...

That song is more about the title and less about trains themselves.  But then there's this:

Train I ride, sixteen coaches long
Train I ride, sixteen coaches long
Well that long black train got my baby and gone
Well... yeah, right.  Elvis recorded this song in 1955 when passenger trains were still relevant in these United States.  That point in time isn't too far removed from that time I was on about in my "When I Was Eight" post.

And finally, there's this:

And all the towns and people seem
To fade into a bad dream
And the steel rails still ain't heard the news.
The conductor sings his song again,
The passengers will please refrain
This train's got the disappearing railroad blues. 
Yup.  The disappearing railroad blues are all too real.  I'm glad I got to experience the railroad in its heyday, or close enough to it, for me.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

You long-time Gentle Readers know that I took a vow about six years ago that I'd never fly again.  I took that vow because o' the hassle that flying has become, most o' that having to do with the asshat rules and regulations foisted upon us by the gub'mint in the interests o' our "safety."  The rules are only part o' it, though, coz the numb-nuts enforcing those rules are about as clue-free as it gets, not to mention tact-free and generally objectionable, in the best case scenario.  So: no flying for ME!

Our personal No-Fly Zone was the primary reason we elected to drive out to the Right Coast on our vacation this past summer.  While that was fun I don't think I'll ever do it again, mainly on account o' because that trip messed up my back.  We haven't been the same since we returned from our 4,214 mile road trip, ergo: never again.

So.  We can't drive and we won't fly.  That leads one to wonder how we're gonna get back east this year.  And then it hit me: AMTRAK!  Yeah, let's do the train!  Traveling by train is enjoyable and I've done a lot of it in my lifetime, both here and abroad.  I've also gone on a bit about the joys o' train travel, most notably here.  Just so ya don't have to chase the link...
It’s fun to travel by train. You have a lot more room than you do in a car. You can get up and walk around, you can sit and look out the window, and if you’re taking a long trip, you can eat in the dining car and sleep in a bed, too! The trip from Atlanta to New York takes two days and a night. We got a Pullman sleeper compartment on the train for our trip. A Pullman compartment is the term used to describe a little private room on a train. The room has two bench seats and beds that pull down out of the walls so you can sleep.

Train at Peachtree Station

The picture above was taken in 1969 at Peachtree Station, which is where we caught the train to New York. There’s little or no difference between the train you see in the picture and the one I took to New York.

I really enjoyed riding the train, especially eating in the dining car and watching the country roll by the window. When we were going through open country the train ran about 60 or 70 miles per hour. Whenever the train passed through a town you could see people in the street, kids would wave at the train, and it seemed like everyone was looking right at you. In the old days the train tracks often ran right in the middle of the main street of those small towns. The train would slow down to 25 or 30 miles per hour whenever it went through a town (for safety reasons, I’m sure), and the result was you got a close-up look at the town. I’m sure all that has changed, now. The train also stopped to pick up passengers, mail, and supplies in the larger towns and cities. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and raising the shade to look out on to the station platform. It was very late, but I could see men wheeling baggage carts and people getting on and off the train. I’ll never forget those sights.

As soon as the sun went down the porters began their work. Porters are people that are sort of like waiters or butlers. The porter’s job was to take care of the passengers and get the sleeping cars ready for bed-time. The porter would knock on your door and ask if you were ready to have your room “prepared.” That was the signal for you to step into the corridor while he pulled the beds down out of the walls, tightened the sheets, put the blankets on the beds and fluffed the pillows. The whole exercise was over in about three or four minutes. When you went back into your room the seats were gone and your beds were made for you. It was very cool!

The train passed through northern Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., a tiny bit of Pennsylvania, and New Jersey before arriving in New York City. We got to see a lot of farm land, lots of woods, rolling hills, and flat plains. The east coast of America is very, very beautiful, even in November. And rolling through the big cities like Richmond, Washington, Newark, and finally New York was exciting. A lot of folks say there’s no better way to see the country than by train. I’m inclined to agree with them.
So there's that... noting the fact I like traveling by train... and then we were off on these here inter-tubes to visit AMTRAK.  Imagine my surprise:

Aiiieee!  Over 700 Yankee Dollars... ONE-WAY!  You'll note that price is for a roomette, which is the only way to go.  Can you imagine almost 48 hours in a coach seat?  I can't.  And that price doesn't include meals in the dining car which, bein' as how you're a captive audience, would cost ya an arm and a leg.  Not to mention the fact I'd have to drive three hours up to Las Vegas just to get to the train station, which also means I'd have to come BACK via AMTRAK if I wanted to retrieve my car from where I parked it.  Compare the above to this:

Looks like I'm gonna break my vow and fly this summer.  Every man has his price and it appears mine is a long ways south o' a thousand Yankee Dollars.  I'm really quite sad about this.