Monday, March 31, 2008

Out Like a Lamb?

It’s the wind, Gentle Reader…the ever-present, dust-laden, annoying, wear-you-down-to-a-nub wind. That said, yesterday was brilliant. We nearly hit 85 degrees and the wind was down to a manageable “steady 10 ~ 15 mph, with gusts of 20 mph.”
Not so today. Ah, Spring!
The lady doth think too much, methinks:
We’ve all been there. Or some of us have. Anyone who cares about books has at some point confronted the Pushkin problem: when a missed — or misguided — literary reference makes it chillingly clear that a romance is going nowhere fast. At least since Dante’s Paolo and Francesca fell in love over tales of Lancelot, literary taste has been a good shorthand for gauging compatibility. These days, thanks to social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, listing your favorite books and authors is a crucial, if risky, part of self-branding. When it comes to online dating, even casual references can turn into deal breakers. Sussing out a date’s taste in books is “actually a pretty good way — as a sort of first pass — of getting a sense of someone,” said Anna Fels, a Manhattan psychiatrist and the author of “Necessary Dreams: Ambition in Women’s Changing Lives.” “It’s a bit of a Rorschach test.” To Fels (who happens to be married to the literary publisher and writer James Atlas), reading habits can be a rough indicator of other qualities. “It tells something about ... their level of intellectual curiosity, what their style is,” Fels said. “It speaks to class, educational level.”
Pity the would-be Romeo who earnestly confesses middlebrow tastes: sometimes, it’s the Howard Roark problem as much as the Pushkin one. “I did have to break up with one guy because he was very keen on Ayn Rand,” said Laura Miller, a book critic for Salon. “He was sweet and incredibly decent despite all the grandiosely heartless ‘philosophy’ he espoused, but it wasn’t even the ideology that did it. I just thought Rand was a hilariously bad writer, and past a certain point I couldn’t hide my amusement.” (Members of, a dating and fan site for devotees of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead,” might disagree.)
But things are different on the Upper West Side, no? I’m probably revealing much more about my pedestrian reading habits than I should… but I’ve never had a woman complain about my reading tastes. That factoid may or may not say something/anything about me and the women I’ve dated or been in relationships with. Then again, I don’t hang out in the salons of NYC, so all bets are off. But wait! Is there a bit of sense in this screed?
Let’s face it — this may be a gender issue. Brainy women are probably more sensitive to literary deal breakers than are brainy men. (Rare is the guy who’d throw a pretty girl out of bed for revealing her imperfect taste in books.) After all, women read more, especially when it comes to fiction. “It’s really great if you find a guy that reads, period,” said Beverly West, an author of “Bibliotherapy: The Girl’s Guide to Books for Every Phase of Our Lives.” Jessa Crispin, a blogger at the literary site, agrees. “Most of my friends and men in my life are nonreaders,” she said, but “now that you mention it, if I went over to a man’s house and there were those books about life’s lessons learned from dogs, I would probably keep my clothes on.”
Umm… nope.
Still, to some reading men, literary taste does matter. “I’ve broken up with girls saying, ‘She doesn’t read, we had nothing to talk about,’” said Christian Lorentzen, an editor at Harper’s. Lorentzen recalls giving one girlfriend Nabokov’s “Ada” — since it’s “funny and long and very heterosexual, even though I guess incest is at its core.” The relationship didn’t last, but now, he added, “I think it’s on her Friendster profile as her favorite book.”
Even though I’ve excerpted the article heavily, it’s still a good read. Even if the only thing you take away is “Thank God I’ve never met any of these women.” (or men)
Speaking of books… the blogger who writes “Stuff White People Like” has reportedly signed a book deal for $300K. See what happens when you get a million and half hits in only three months of blogging? What’s that? Envy? Me? G’wan…
Something good… for a change… from Inside the Beltway: A slide-show of WaPo readers’ cherry blossom pics (Slide #13 is just too cool, btw). Coz it’s that time of year, Gentle Reader.
Speaking of cherry blossoms… here’s a couple of pics of the cherry tree outside my door in full bloom, taken on March 18th of last year. The tree has yet to bloom this year even though it’s pretty well leafed-out. Well, I count four blossoms on the tree, just by looking out the window. But that’s nothing, compared to previous years. Makes me wonder, it does.
Mr. Hockey is 80 years old today. And still going to Red Wings games, and still signing autographs for the legions of his fans. Wow. Here are 32 facts about the man who spent 32 seasons in the NHL. Much more at MLive, including this:
As for the specifics of Howe's birthday party:
March 30, Associated Press: The Detroit Red Wings celebrated Gordie Howe's 80th birthday with a ceremony before Sunday's game against the Nashville Predators.
Howe, who actually turns 80 on Monday, was presented with a framed No. 17 jersey -- his number his rookie year before he got No. 9 his second season. He also was presented with a leather jacket; part of his bonus when he signed was a leather Red Wings jacket.
Christopher Ilitch, the son of team owner Mike Ilitch, announced via a taped message that the team was also giving Howe a 48-inch high-definition television.
"I've been treated like an angel and I don't know where they got it," said Howe after the ceremony.
The party continued after Howe participated in a ceremonial puck drop:
March 30, Minutes after the presentation, National Anthem singer Karen Newman, along with the fans, serenaded Howe with a rendition of "Happy Birthday."
A special birthday cake -- in the shape of a white No. 9 -- was presented, the likes of which have not been seen at Joe Louis Arena.

"The cake measures seven-feet long, three-feet wide," said chef Mike Berend. "It is actually composed of 27 individual sheet cakes put together. It was made with a case of eggs (about 10 dozen), 100 pounds of flour and 50 pounds of sugar. This is the largest cake I've had to make in 14 years of working here."
The cake was shared with Howe as well as 1,200 fans in the Olympia Club and on the suite level.
Happy Birthday, Gordie!
(photo: Getty Images, via The Hockey News)

Saturday, March 29, 2008


OK… I wouldn’t have believed this had I not seen it:

That, Gentle Reader, is a freakin’ monkey riding a mo’sickle somewhere in Indonesia.

Keep any biker-related snark to yourself, please.


An update: Yesterday I cast aspersions on the Viral Video Chart website because “Fitna” wasn’t on their list as of 1100 hrs. Well, I take it back. “Fitna” is on the list today... at numbers two and three. I suppose I didn’t give ‘em enough time. But isn’t a “viral vid” sorta time-sensitive, by definition?


Today’s Pic: Just another gratuitous, cute-but-drooling baby pic. Here’s SN3 at 15 months, give or take a day or three. Are those eyes blue, or what?

Perinton, NY. May, 1998.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Playing Catch-Up

I missed this article this past Wednesday, seeing as how I took the day off and did little to no inter-tube surfing, other than reading my Blog-Buddies. But, seeing as how this piece isn’t time-sensitive and kinda rings a bell with me (a semi-subdued tinkling would be more like it), here’s “Can Sips at Home Prevent Binges? Excerpt:

Even so, I can’t help hoping that my sons might share my taste in music and food, books and movies, ball teams and politics. Why should wine be any different?

It’s the alcohol, of course, which makes wine not just tricky but potentially hazardous. Nonetheless, I would like to teach my sons — 16 and 17 — that wine is a wonderful part of a meal. I want to teach them to enjoy it while also drumming it into them that when abused, wine, like any other alcoholic beverage, can be a grave danger.

As they were growing up I occasionally gave them tastes from my glass — an unusual wine, perhaps, or a taste of Champagne on New Year’s Eve.

In European wine regions, a new parent might dip a finger in the local pride and wipe it lovingly across an infant’s lips — “just to give the taste.” A child at the family table might have a spoonful of wine added to the water, because it says, “You are one of us.” A teenager might have a small glass of wine, introducing an adult pleasure in a safe and supervised manner. This is how I imagined it in my house.

The article goes on to explore the pros and cons of introducing one’s children to alcohol in the home and draws no firm conclusions, which isn’t all that surprising, given the source. It is interesting, though, and could serve as a thought-starter for parents.

Long-time readers know I had an unusual childhood, what with being dragged around the world at an early age… three years of which were spent in Paris, in between my eighth and eleventh birthdays. I don’t believe I’ve ever mentioned the fact that my parents drank wine every single evening with dinner… nor did I mention that I did, too. My wine was watered down, though… a half-and-half mixture of wine and water… as is the French custom. And I was limited to one small glass, and one glass only.

Now here’s the interesting bit: my wine drinking stopped dead in its tracks once the family left France, even though my parents continued to drink wine with their meals. When I asked why I was told it was because we no longer lived in France. And that was it… full-stop, end of discussion… just one step removed from “because I said so.” Which made absolutely no sense to me, but it was a decision passed down from On High and I had no vote. There was some deviation from this rule in ensuing years, like special occasions such as birthdays and such, but for the most part I was an adolescent tee-totaler.

I don’t have issues with introducing children to the concept of responsible drinking. I further believe alcohol in moderation is a beneficial substance. That said, I never acquired the “wine with every meal” habit, nor did I introduce my kids to alcohol beyond letting them have the occasional sip of whatever it was I was drinking.

Typically American, eh?


Curious: I checked Viral Video Chart just after 1100 hrs this morning to see if “Fitna” made the list. And no, it hasn’t. Yet a Google Blog Search made at nearly the same time shows “Results 1 - 10 of about 12,058 for Fitna. (0.16 seconds).” I understand that not every one of those 12,000+ results are a video posting. Still and even, I went about 12 pages deep into the results and found at least two-thirds of the entries consist of the video, and about one-third was comment.

So. Do you think VVC is being PC, Gentle Reader?

I do.

Case in point… VVC lists the following stats for the Hillary-in-Bosnia parody vid (quite good, it is), which is currently Numero Uno on the VVC charts:

Viral sharing of this video: Spreading across the interweb like Wildfire!

Discovered 26 Mar 2008


0 duplicate videos

190 blog posts

I’m quite sure there have been more than 190 blog posts of “Fitna” during the past 24 hours. So much for VVC’s credibility.

Further… in The Times (UK) “Britain drawn into controversy over anti-Islam web video by Geert Wilders Excerpts:

Britain was dragged into the controversy over an anti-Islam film made by a far-Right Dutch MP after Iran condemned its appearance on a UK-based video-sharing website today.

“This heinous measure by a Dutch lawmaker and a British establishment... is indicative of the continuation of the evilness and deep vengeance such Western nationals have against Islam and Muslims,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Mohammad Ali Hosseini, called on the Dutch, British and other EU governments to block any further showing of “this blasphemous, anti-Islamic and anti-cultural film”.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, also condemned the film, titled Fitna, an Arabic word meaning “strife”, while Bangladesh warned it could have “grave consequences”.

A coalition of Jordanian media said it would sue Mr Wilders and urged Arab leaders meeting at a summit in Syria this weekend to review ties with the Netherlands and Denmark.

Governments in the Muslim world are wary of a repeat of what happened two years ago when the publication in Denmark of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad ignited rioting in a dozen countries, leading to about 50 deaths.

I think we’re in for an interesting weekend. “We,” in the global sense. It’ll be business-as-usual here on The High Plains of New Mexico… no blips on our radar screens, Gentle Reader. Thank God.


There was a good travel article on France’s “Castle Country” in last Sunday’s Washington Post. Excerpt:

Seen from below, in the lower city of Carcassonne, the citadel is breathtaking, immense, an estimated two miles of imposing wall and jack-o'-lantern battlement. It's so fantastic it seems unreal. Some critics argue it is, with inauthentic, fairy-tale cones topping dozens of guard towers and, across the drawbridge, an interior city transformed by tourism, with souvenir shops hawking kitschy crosses and statues, faux armor and shields. Even in April, off-hours, the narrow streets of the walled city were packed with people and puppies and mini-knights swinging plastic swords. I couldn't imagine the place in summer. I didn't want to.

The photo is the town of Carcassonne, and was taken from the WaPo article. I was either nine or ten years old when the family went there on vacation… a day long stop-over on our way to Spain, actually… and was most impressed, as you might imagine. Nearly every boy goes through a period of fascination with Things Medieval when they’re that age. And to see an entire town that appears, for all intent and purposes, to be right out of King Arthur was simply astounding to my nine-year old mind. Carcassonne remains one of the fondest memories of my stay in France and I remember that vacation trip vividly…even at this distance in time.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


This is “Fitna,” a film about radical Islamism and its political goals and methods that’s burning up the ‘net as we speak. I’m gonna do a “me too” by posting this… because I believe what Dutch politician-cum-film-maker Geert Wilders is saying in this film. The film is about 15 minutes long and comes with a “disturbing images” disclaimer. The disclaimer isn’t wrong, either. Some of the images are disturbing, but there is no gratuitous violence (such as beheadings) in the film. Mr. Wilders comes very, very close, however.

“Fitna” is a short but powerful film. Watch it, if you haven’t already.

My disclaimer: my visceral, knee-jerk reaction to the film was strong agreement with the message. That said, I waffle in between two positions: (a) thinking Islam… in the macro, global sense… is the root of the problem, and (b) radicals are co-opting Islam to achieve their ends. While (b) is most certainly true, I’m not sure…yet…about (a).

Update 3/28/2008 1640 hrs: As noted in comments, LiveLeak has pulled "Fitna" from its servers due to death threats against their staff. Their video explanation is available above, in place of the movie. "Fitna" is available on YouTube in two parts... for the moment, anyway.

So. Here it is, yet again.

Part I

Part II

Neither New Nor Improved

So I took this quiz over at Kris’ place to see if I’m “normal.” And the answer is “Yes.” I’m 55% normal, anyway. It could have been worse, and I was expecting worse. Which only goes to show these quiz thingies are suspect. But this question stumped me:

· Which would you rather live without?

· Music

· Laughter

Well, I simply could NOT live without both, actually. What sort of person could live without music or laughter? I’m thinking even prisoners laugh once in a while…and music is universal. I score both equally high in my life. But… in the end I checked the “laughter” box and moved on. Music is that important to me, Gentle Reader.


Via Lex…some of the best plane pr0n I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot, Gentle Reader. DO go, if you’re into the subject matter; the photography is excellent…and then some.


A funny from My Bud Ed in Florida

Why Parents Drink

A father passing by his son's bedroom was astonished to see that his bed was nicely made and everything was picked up. Then he saw an envelope, propped up prominently on the pillow that was addressed to 'Dad.'

With the worst premonition he opened the envelope with trembling hands and read the letter.

Dear Dad:

It is with great regret and sorrow that I'm writing you. I had to elope with my new girlfriend because I wanted to avoid a scene with mom and you. I have been finding real passion with Karen and she is so nice. But I knew you would not approve of her because of all her piercing, tattoos, tight motorcycle clothes and the fact that she is much older than I am. But it's not only the passion...Dad she's pregnant. Karen said that we will be very happy. She owns a trailer in the woods and has a stack of firewood for the whole winter. We share a dream of having many more children. Karen has opened my eyes to the fact that marijuana doesn't really hurt anyone. We'll be growing it for ourselves and trading it with the other people that live nearby for cocaine and ecstasy. In the meantime we will pray that science will find a cure for AIDS so Karen can get better.

She deserves it.

Don't worry Dad. I'm 17 and I know how to take care of myself. Some day I'm sure that we will be back to visit so that you can get to know your grandchildren.

Love, Your Son John

PS. Dad, none of the above is true. I'm over at Tommy's house. I just wanted to remind you that there are worse things in life than the report card that's in my center desk drawer.

I love you. Call me when it's safe to come home.


Today’s Pic: Two generations of parents, drinking… but not for the reasons stated above. SN1 on the left, YrHmblScrb on the right.

Roosters Brewing Company, Layton, UT. May 2007.

(Yeah, the pic is a re-run.)

Update, 1410 hrs: You might have wondered what the Hell the relationship between drinking and the joke might be, Gentle Reader, if you stopped by before this update. And you should have wondered. I originally omitted the subject line of the joke, which I've inserted as part of this update. My omission resulted in a serious non-sequitur. At the very least it made me look like an idiot. I apologize... for the omission, not my idiocy. Some things can't be changed with a simple update.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I’m 63 today… which should be reason enough to take the day off, eh? Today is also the day my Social Security check is deposited into my bank account, marking the end of my first full year of Social Security payments. Don’t worry, Gentle Reader… I’m still withdrawing the money I put into the system. You won’t have to support me for at least another year or so.

Today’s Pic: Me, on my second birthday 61 years ago. Place unknown. That might seem a funny/strange thing to some, but we moved around a lot…given my father was in the USAF (actually: the Army Air Corps, given the pic was taken in March of 1947). This pic could have been taken in Atlanta, or Washington D.C., or God knows where, actually. Life is strange.

And all too short.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Lil Bit of Sporting Excitement...

Well, now. I’ve seen a few hockey fights in my time but this one takes the proverbial gâteau
I’ve never seen an official hit like that before, and I’ve rarely seen players deliberately ignore an official to the extent the Remparts goalie does in his eventual and successful attempt to beat the snot out of the opposing goalie. But this ain’t the NHL…it’s Junior Hockey. Speaking of which…that’s the Quebec Remparts in red and the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in white; the game was played this past Saturday (March 22). Both teams play in one of Canada’s Junior Leagues. Hockey legend Guy LaFleur played for the Remparts, and the equally-legendary Guy Carbonneau played for Chicoutimi once upon a time. Oh. One other thing. You may have heard of Patrick Roy. He coaches the Remparts.
And some people say hockey is boring. Some people wouldn’t know their nether regions from their elbow, too. YM (most certainly) MV, Gentle Reader.
Speaking of hockey… I’ve been remiss of late by not mentioning the Beloved Red Wings have posted their eighth consecutive 100-point season and most probably will win their fourth President’s Trophy in the 00’s.


I just don’t have a lot to say today… having not yet finished making the blog-rounds and having not yet begun to catch up on the wide, wonderful world of current events. That said, I do have a recommendation for you, Gentle Reader.

There’s a new addition to my blogroll today. I stumbled upon Istanbul Photo via a comment on Abe’s blog… and Istanbul Photo will become a frequent read, mainly for photos like this:

You may have noticed, Gentle Reader, that I have a love for Turkey. So it stands to reason that I would find IP attractive. And…about that photo above. It’s used by permission, according to this note posted by the author on his/her blog:

*All photos can be used as long as reference is given

Now that’s a nice touch, indeed. Would that more people had an attitude such as this. And as long as we’re on this particular subject, I have the same policy, even though I’ve never explicitly said as much. But I’m saying it now: feel free to use any of MY photos as you wish, as long as credit is given. And, just for the record… all photos on this blog are mine, unless otherwise credited or attributed.


I might be back in a few, with the equal understanding that I might not. My Slight Return depends on if I find something that tickles my fancy, or some other such body part.

Monday, March 24, 2008


I've been listening to Pandora all morning... the "Aretha Franklin" station... and this song came on. Pandora played the original version (aka the single), which is just a wee bit more soulful than this take, if that's possible. But OMG. The Young Tina, giving Aretha a serious run for the money.

I know it ain't good form to speak ill of the dead... but Ike was a fool. F-O-O-L.


The New York Times had an interesting article yesterday: “A Guide to the French. Handle With Care.” It doesn’t look like a lot has changed since the last time I was in La Belle France. But here’s the bit that caught my fancy, Gentle Reader:
7: Feeling Sexy Is a State of Mind, or: Buy Good Lingerie
In her close-fitting sweaters and pants and tailored leather jackets, Eliane Victor is both stylish and alluring. The retired author and journalist is in her late 80s.
For French women, being sexy has nothing to do with age and everything to do with attitude. Arielle Dombasle, the actress and cabaret singer married to the philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, dared to expose her breasts on the cover of Paris Match and took off her clothes in a song-and-dance revue at Crazy Horse in Paris. Some people feel she tries too hard. But give the lady some credit. She’s turning 50 and has a Barbie-doll body.
A 600-page sociological study of sexuality in France released this month concluded that 9 out of 10 women over 50 are sexually active. The sexiest French women seem naturally skilled in the art of moving, smiling and flirting.
Chic French women prefer to peel and polish rather than paint their faces. Too much makeup, they say, makes a woman seem older, or worse, “vulgaire.” “The most beautiful makeup for a woman is passion,” Yves Saint Laurent once said. “But cosmetics are easier to buy.”
French women spend close to 20 percent of their clothing budgets on lingerie. But you also have to know how to wear it. When the Galeries Lafayette department store inaugurated its 28,000-square-foot lingerie shop in 2003, it offered free half-hour lessons by professional striptease artists.
The illustration above is the Paris Match cover of Ms. Arielle Dombasle that's referenced in the excerpt. Ms. Dombasle might be trying too hard… or not. Still and even: “Good on Her,” sez I. At least she’s out there (pun intended), flaunting those perky, silicone-free mammary glands. It’s hard, if not impossible, for me to imagine any 50-year old American woman posing topless on the cover of a mass-circulation American weekly… even the National Enquirer. At any rate, there’s not one single thing in the excerpt above I disagree with, and a lot I admire…especially Monsieur Saint Laurent’s take on cosmetics.
French women have always been admired and, yes… lusted after… throughout my lifetime. You may count me among their admirers, but more for attitude and style than anything else. C'est si bon!
As for the rest of the article? Interesting… on the whole… but not as much as the bits I quoted. YMMV, Gentle Reader.
In The Guardian (UK): “Europe’s Top Ten Motorbiking Roads:” The lede:
What makes a good biking road? Well, there's a saying among motorcyclists that driving a car is like watching a movie, whereas riding a motorbike is like being in one. And I guess it can all distil down to that: open to the elements and without a metal box around you, the feeling of vulnerability and danger merely serving to heighten the senses, you really do feel part of the world around you. A great biking road should have twists and turns so you can get your knee down and your heart rate up, certainly. If it's got a smooth surface and has good visibility, all the better. Add in an epic landscape and a real sense of adventure and you've got biking nirvana.
I’ve not ridden any of the ten roads listed, but Dayum! … I sure want to. Actually, I’m only writing about this article because of the eerie similarity of the above paragraph to something I wrote nearly eight years ago. Great minds, and all that…
Today’s Pics: My... how quickly our moods change, no? Was it something I said? I have no idea what the lady was pissed about, but one can plainly see she most certainly was upset with me. The two pics were taken no more than five minutes apart, IIRC. As ever, click for larger.
The Second Mrs. Pennington and I at a squadron picnic sometime during the 1980 – 1983 timeframe, 2119th Communications Squadron, RAF Uxbridge, UK.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

1 Peter 1:3
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...

Image: Sistine Chapel. Hendrick van den Broeck (1519-1597) — Scenes from the Life of Christ: The Resurrection of Christ (H).

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Apropos of nothing…except for the fact that there’s waaay too many frickin’ cat pictures on these here inter-tubes…here are a few pics of my late, lamented puppies. Late is an understatement: the last of these old ladies left this life back in 1996, well over ten years ago. I’ve been dog-less ever since, mostly because having a dog is semi-incompatible with my lifestyle. Yes, people who live in RVs own dogs. I’m more than aware of the fact. But a dog is a big commitment, and I tend to be commitment-averse these days. Let’s leave it at that… and get on with the biographies.
First…FiFi La Bonne, otherwise known as The World’s Ugliest Dog. She was a mixed-breed terrier and was so damned ugly she was cute. She was also a hunter extraordinaire, and was one of the few dogs I’ve ever seen who could run down a squirrel and kill it. Which she did about two or three times a year when I lived in Michigan, always making sure to bring The Second Mrs. Pennington and I some sort of trophy from the kill. We really appreciated that, ya know. She was also quite adept at assassinating gophers and moles. The gopher-hunting wasn’t nearly as popular with me, as she tended to dig huge holes in my yard in pursuit of her underground quarries. When I say “huge,” I mean bomb-shelter huge. Large enough for me to drive my riding lawn mower into one of the holes and flip the mower over on its side. That huge.
I wish the above photo of FiFi in the snow was better… she had the strangest habit of burrowing in deep snow, and it was a hoot to watch. She’s pictured after coming up from one such snow-burrowing exercise. FiFi came to live with TSMP and I while we were in Oklahoma (around 1984, or so) and lived with us until 1996, when TSMP put her down due to complications associated with old age.
And then there’s Bōgus Dōgus, who was a Lab/Border Collie cross. TSMP and I got Dogus shortly after we arrived in England in 1980, and she was with us for 16 years. She was my favorite, even though she was TSMP’s dog first and foremost. That dog was crazy… in that she had this “thing” for food. The “thing” being she’d eat anything that wouldn’t eat her first. Anything. Everything. Including, on at least two occasions, an entire loaf of bread…snatched off the table once and out of a bag of groceries another time, and consumed within 45 seconds. The first time she wolfed down a loaf of bread I thought she was gonna explode from the resulting bloat and gas. I had to put her outside until the gas went away, for what should be obvious reasons. But not until such time as she laid at my feet… moaning, farting, and generally making life uncomfortable for everyone within ten feet of her.
This is also the dog who tried to commit suicide by leaping off a bridge in Wales. If we hadn’t had her on a leash she would have died in the fall to the river and it was a near-run thing, anyway. Have you ever tried to pull a strangling dog over a bridge railing? It’s not easy, Gentle Reader. As to why she jumped… I have NO earthly idea. I said she was crazy.
Lastly we have Fritzi Ritz, a German Shepard cross. Crossed with what breed is unknown, but a cross she was…and she was small for a Shepard. Fritzi had all the good traits of a Shepard… intelligence, loyalty, and beauty. She also suffered from hip dysplasia, which eventually got so bad we had to put her down. Fritzi was the alpha female, as might be imagined, and kept the other two dogs in line. The first pic was taken in Oklahoma, the second in Ferndale, MI.
Each dog was a mutt; I’ve never owned a pure-bred dog. Further, two of the three were “rescued” dogs. TSMP was active in a dog rescue organization when we lived in Oklahoma; FiFi and Fritzi arrived in our household via that organization. All three dogs slept in the bed with TSMP and me, and they each had their places…never varying position from night to night. You might think things would get a bit crowded, but it really wasn’t. They were very discreet Old Ladies, too, always being considerate enough to give us our space when it was time for TSMP and me to play. It's a great good thing dogs don't talk. Coz those dogs could have told some stories, Gentle Reader.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Later Than Most...

...but here nonetheless.

My Buddy Dan in Florida sends along a link to a bunch of ads, mostly foreign, that are hilarious. Unfortunately none are embeddable…you gotta go to the site to view ‘em. But. It’s worth the trip. I think this “Toy Boy” ad for Hyundai is French … I know the song is en français. Might could be Canadian. Les Quebécois, ya know. (It’s Swedish, and plainly labeled as such. My “Duh” moment for the day.)

“Wait…” sez you, Gentle Reader, “I thought you just said these things aren’t embeddable?” True, dat. The ones at the Turner Broadcasting site aren’t. But you can search YouTube.

Oh… Don’t miss the condom ad if you go to the TBS site. It should make ya laugh. Work safe, assuming you don’t have your volume turned way up. But then again, you need some sound… coz it’s all about the sound effects, Gentle Reader.


Late Nite TeeVee Lows…on G4TV:

“Unbeatable Banzuke”
• Monday, Wednesday, Friday nights at 9:30 pm ET/PT

From the creators of “Ninja Warrior,” “Unbeatable Banzuke” raises extreme athleticism to an entirely new level. Each half-hour episode features an assortment of completely unique challenges, pitting contenders against one another to see who can beat the course.

Featured obstacles include:

• Hand Walk – competitors combine incredible strength and balance to traverse an entire obstacle course on their hands, navigating steep stairs, moving ramps and bridges.
• Giant Ball – challengers climb on top of a huge red ball and use the orb to cross a circuitous multilevel course.
• Super Rider – a fast-paced test of bike-riding skill demands that competitors navigate an obstacle course of giant cabling spools, two story drops and three-inch rails.

Subtitles help ensure the original action stays almost completely intact, letting American viewers experience the raw excitement of the high-energy play by play announcers. With constantly evolving challenges, “Unbeatable Banzuke” delivers triumphant victories, punctuated by truly spectacular wipeouts.

G4 is the network (and I use the term loosely) that acquired TechTV, the late, much-lamented (around here, anyway) Über-Geek delight. I could digress here, but I won’t. Not even for Morgan. (Not the Morgan who runs the Most Excellent House of Eratosthenes. Nope… A Morgan of a quite different sort.)

Back to G4 and Unbeatable Banzuke, which I’ll hereafter refer to as UB. UB is a Nipponese game show, and the Japanese come up with some of the most bizarre teevee concepts…ever. Concepts like topless models lounging around on the furniture during late-nite talk shows, a la Leno. The women never said a thing…they were just there, sort of like animated set decorations. I personally saw this show from time to time back in the mid-70s, when I lived in Nippon. It was a favorite in after-hours bars. (I’m having a hard time staying on-point here, obviously.)

I watched UB one evening this week and was quite taken with the Super Rider competition, which was athletic and quite skillful. It was sorta like an indoor observed trials on pedal bikes, as opposed to mo’sickles. But it was all downhill from there (pun sorta intended), and the raving, screaming Japanese announcer didn’t add a thing to the show. The sub-titles did add a lot, however. If it weren’t for the sub-titles you wouldn’t have a freakin’ clue as to what’s going on, other than watching half-naked male gymnasts fall into water obstacles all too often for my liking. The girls might like this aspect of the show, however.

OTOH, mebbe not.


This month’s Air Force Magazine arrived this week. I was reading through it last evening and was both surprised and gratified to find this: Special Operators Head West.” It’s a short, four-page article made shorter by the heavy use of larger format photos, but it’s all about Cannon Airplane Patch… with an obvious focus on the new proprietors. It made me smile to read this:

Part of the appeal of the sparsely populated eastern plains of New Mexico is revealed with a look at a topographical map of the area surrounding the cities of Clovis, Portales, and the town of Melrose. It has not gone unnoticed that the altitude and some of the environmental conditions around Cannon and Melrose are similar to what special ops forces experience in Central Asia and the Middle East.

Tanks on the Melrose Range
(USAF photo not from the linked article)

The Melrose range measures about 60,000 acres around the small town of Melrose, about 25 miles west of Cannon. About 8,800 acres are designated “impact acres”—space where actual strafing and bombing occur. In addition to a complete absence of urban encroachment, the space is well-equipped for advanced combat training. Dirt landing strips, bunkers, IR targets, and electronic jamming towers are spread out over the range’s impact areas.

The resemblance of our topography and climate to…ummm… “certain areas” in the Middle East hasn’t passed unnoticed in these parts, ya know. This, of course, is goodness… in that it helps me maintain an affinity for my brothers-in-arms serving “over there.” In a very small way, to be sure… or until such time as we get one of our infamous dust storms.

If you’re (a) an Air Force Association member and (b) might be wondering why I got my copy of Air Force Magazine so late… Then, answer: I get my copy about a week or two after other folks get theirs… due to the fact my copy is sent to my mailing service in Texas, where my mail is aggregated and sent to me here at Beautiful La Hacienda Trailer Park once a week. It’s a legacy thing from my “on the road days,” and I really should change that. But Hey! This is New Mexico.



Thursday, March 20, 2008

Yet Another Re-Run...

Gentle Reader Ashley has been exploring my archives and kindly sent me a note about broken images in several of my old posts. I've fixed a few, but I still have a lot of serious work ahead of me.

A few years back I got really, really tired of Blogger's photo handling capabilities and opened up a free account at, a very low-rent photo hosting site. Well, it seems like my account at has expired (and I can't find my old log-on ID or password)... and the images I posted there have gone missing. And lots of 'em, too. As I said: a LOT of work ahead of me.

Now...about that re-run. Since I went to the trouble of fixing this post, I figured I'd put it up again. The subject matter isn't time-critical at all, and the photos are somewhat interesting... to me, anyway. YMMV, as always. So. Without further ado, I give you...

My Back Pages

I’m experiencing more network “issues” this morning; my connection speed is about half of what one expects from a dial-up connection. So, I’m going to put up a text-only post this morning and add photos later on today when my network gets back up to speed. Literally.
The following post is from this blog’s predecessor, The Trailer Trash Report, an e-mail newsletter I wrote and sent to friends from 1999 – 2000. This particular entry is about Houston’s Museum of Fine Art and a war story about government bureaucracy. Photos will be added later.
April 8, 2000
The local media is all agog at Enron Field, the Houston Astros' brand-new, state-of-the-art, sliding-roof ballpark. Although the Astros played three exhibition games in the new park last week, tonight's the regular season home opener and is supposedly the hottest ticket in town this week. A night out at the ball park costs a family of four well over $70.00 (I had the exact number, but threw the flipping paper out this morning...). For less than $20.00 a family of four can spend ALL DAY wandering through the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Click here: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston). OK, it ain't baseball. There are people that would rather watch paint dry than go to a museum, and there's not a few folks that would rather do the paint thing than go to a baseball game, too. I'm gonna weasel out and claim I like both. I'm definitely partial to museums over baseball, though...I've seen a helluva lot more museums than major league baseball games.
I spent six hours in Houston's world-class fine arts museum Friday. I'm impressed. The MFAH is the nation's sixth largest art museum and has a very large and diverse collection...well over 40,000 works of art representing a multitude of cultures, geographies, and periods. The collections are divided into Ancient and European art; American painting, sculpture and decorative arts; African art; Asian art; Pre-Columbian art; Native American art; Oceanic art, 20th century art; and photography, film, and video. The museum also has a large sculpture garden and collections of furniture, textiles, and costumes. Something for everyone, in other words!! The MFAH celebrates its centennial this year and it opened a new building last month. The Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collections are great. All the major impressionist artists are represented, and there are multiple works from Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, and Manet. (Unfortunately, photography was prohibited in the major impressionist exhibit. I didn't quite understand the photography restrictions in some of the galleries...most were open to picture taking, provided you could disable your flash.)
Renaissance Gallery
Impressionist Gallery

Stone Circles

Giant Soft Fan
I went for the Impressionist galleries, but I was seriously blown away by the contemporary stuff! The contemporary galleries are physically very large open, and airy. The contemporary galleries need these qualities, given the scale of the works on display. I spent quite a bit of time in these galleries, and once again, I was impressed. I hope the attached photos illustrate my point adequately. My absolute favorite contemporary work was a "light sculpture" commissioned for an underground passageway between the two main museum buildings. This is art that makes you grin, makes you say "Wow!" right out loud when you walk into it. From the MFAH guidebook: "The work turns the walls of the tunnel into vessels for conducting light. The walk between the Beck and Law buildings becomes an exploration of color and space." The colors change every three minutes or so...from red, to purple, to blue, and so was a very popular place! The artist is James Turrell.
Purple Tube
The Artist Formerly Known as Buck
OK, enough culture. Time for "Bureaucracy In Action!!" This is a horror story. A week ago this past Tuesday I initiated the process of getting my Texas motorcycle license. I went to the local motor vehicles department (local in the sense it's the closest one to me, nine miles away), which is known in Texas as the Department of Public Safety, Drivers License. A DMV by any other name is still a there I the DPS, in line for about 15 minutes. I get to the head of the line, explain why I'm there, and am told I have to take both a written and driving test to get my license. OK, I can do that. I'm given a choice of taking the written test on computer or on paper. I opt for the computer, take the test at a terminal, am done in six minutes and get back in line to get my results. Six or seven minutes later, I'm told I aced it (it wasn't that tough). The clerk asks me if I'd like to take the road test or take a motorcycle safety course first. This is a real no-brainer for someone who's ridden off and on for over 35 years, I opt for the road test. "The next available appointment is Tuesday, April 4th at 1:36 p.m." the clerk sez. I said "Hunh?" (Today is 3/28, remember.) She sez "April 4th, 1:36." "That's the earliest you have?" "Yep." "OK, I'll take it." Then she tells me I have to bring a car and a driver for the examiner. My jaw drops, panic sets in. I don't KNOW anybody here, let alone anyone I can ask to waste an hour or so in the middle of the day to follow me around with a public servant in their car while I take a road test! I try to explain. The clerk is less than interested in my personal problems. "That's our process, sir." This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. When I took riding tests in CA, OK, and MI, they were held in parking lots, on a cone-course. That works, and it's easy for all concerned. Furnish a car and driver? Ohmigod... I withdraw, thinking I have a week to work this out.
To make a long story somewhat shorter, my neighbors in the RV park agree to follow me down to the DPS and follow me around during the test, after much laughter and incredulity on their part (they're a retired couple from North Dakota, and nice folks). At 1:36 p.m. on April 4th, Artis (my neighbor) and her son Mike are there at the DPS in their Ford, and I'm on my bike. The examiner does a safety check on my bike, drills me on the bike's controls, verifies my insurance, then goes back to Artis and asks for her license and proof of insurance. Artis can't find her insurance card. Oops...the test is over! No proof of insurance for the "follow-car," no test. I have to reschedule. I go back inside and get in line. Artis leaves, profoundly embarrassed. The next available appointment is a week from today. That's unacceptable, I neighbors are leaving town Thursday. The clerk says "Well, you can come in at 6:30 tomorrow morning and take the first available cancellation, there's always cancellations." I ask why she can't assign me a time for tomorrow RIGHT NOW if there's always cancellations. "That's not our process, sir." {sigh} I withdraw, again.
Wednesday morning I arrive at the DPS at 0630 and am shocked to see I'm 43rd in line (I counted). The doors open at 0700. Me and the 42 people in front of me (and the horde behind me, too) are herded into a line at Window 9 (Reschedules). By 0750 I get to the head of the line and I'm offered an 0900 test. I nearly fall over from shock, but I take it. I phone Artis, who says "no problem, I'll be there at nine...see ya then." Just after 0900 the bike and I are in line for the test, talking to my examiner when another examiner walks up and asks "How big is that bike?" "225 cc," sez I. "Hmmm..." she sez. "I don't think you need a Class M license for anything under 250cc." My examiner asks her "Are you sure?" "No," she sez, "I was just pulling your chain." I heave a sigh of relief. We go through the same drill as yesterday, and motor on off for the test. One beep from Artis, I turn right. Two beeps, left. Three beeps, stop. We go through a residential neighborhood for about a six minute ride, beeping all the way, then we get on a four lane boulevard and return to the DPS. I ace the test. The examiner and I shake hands, I go inside to complete the paper work and pay the fee. When I get to the head of the line, my examiner and a supervisor come over. They tell the clerk to cancel the transaction. I say "WHAT???" "We can't give you a Class M license because your bike is only 225cc," the supervisor sez. "You don't need a Class M license for bikes under 250cc. We checked the book." "WAIT!" I say..."This may not be the only bike I'll ever ride, I aced all your tests, I went through Hell to get here, and I WANT MY LICENSE!!" "Sorry, you'd have to take the test on a bike that's 250cc or larger...your bike is too small to qualify for a valid test." I see the handwriting on the wall. I withdraw, again, beaten, seriously demoralized, and thoroughly disgusted. It's only 10:30 a.m., far too early to hit the bar. Sometimes it's easy to understand why some people snap...and why DPS supervisors wear pistols (They're uniformed officers, actually.). Oh, well...
Random Notes: Free concert in downtown Jones Plaza Thursday night, Warren Zevon...acoustic and solo (remember "Werewolves of London?" That's Warren.). The opening act is "Drop-Kicked Chihuahuas" (no kidding...they have a web site, too...just add "dot com" ed note 2006: may or may not still be there, didn’t check). Warren plays all the hits, the opening band does a kick-ass show, and it's all free, sponsored by Budweiser. Cheap (inexpensive) beer. I love this place. "Thank You, My Dear, You Made My Day" Dept: "You're an artist, aren't you?" says the woman who took my picture in the light tunnel today, as she hands my camera back. Must have been the low light, or else I really DO look like a derelict lately. We go for coffee and chat...confirming the fact I'm NOT an artist... "Imagine That!" Dept: The MFAH has an EXCELLENT cafe, with good food, an expresso bar, a beer/wine bar, and reasonable prices. (Get the idea I like this place, yet?) "For What It's Worth, and It Ain't Worth Much" Dept: Rain makes a helluva racket in an RV. Hail is much worse. Thunderstorms are scary in a tornado magnet, there's nowhere to go if a funnel cloud bears down on ya...
I may be back later. I'm upside down again, time-wise. Up all night, sleep half the day. I do it because I can, Gentle Reader.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Shock and Awe... In Two Parts

Two things dominate today’s news. First: Today is the five year anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war. My favorite milblogger recalls the day…and the weeks that followed this day… quite well. Because he was on the bridge of an aircraft carrier somewhere off the shores of Iraq, launching the Navy’s contribution to “shock and awe.”

As for me, five years ago I stood on the bridge of a veteran warship as wave after wave of F-14s and FA-18s, EA-6B Prowlers, E-2 Hawkeyes and S-3 Vikings rattled down the catapults, the thumping of the waterbrakes moving through the ship, the steam from the catapults rising, the afterburners lighting up the night. Heavy laden, wallowing off the deck rather than springing airborne. Worried for them over the beach, wanting desperately to be with them, but assigned other duties. Somebody had to do it.

It’s a good read. But then: Lex is always a good read.

Dubya had a few things to say about this subject today, as well.


Second: Barack Obama gave his anticipated speech about the Rev. Wright yesterday. The best discussion I saw about the speech occurred on PBS’ News Hour last evening, and the transcript of that discussion is here. Judy Woodruff interviews Senator Obama, and the transcript of the roundtable discussion about the speech follows. A few salient points:

JUDY WOODRUFF: Earl Hutchinson, a speech like we've never heard before?

EARL HUTCHINSON, Author: Well, we have heard those speeches before. You know, politicians in the past, when forced to, have addressed race. However, they've done it in a very abbreviated and truncated way.


But the second problem that Barack had was he's walking the political tightrope. On the one hand, he's pitched his whole campaign around change, hope, and especially unity. And the whole point is to get the broadest appeal, a nonracial appeal.

But on the other hand, when you look at the primaries, you see about 90 percent to 95 percent of his support in some of the states, most recently Mississippi, is coming from African-Americans. So he's got to take another eye and look over there.

So that's the political tightrope he's walking, not to offend his largely black constituency, but at the same time stay in-sync with his broad "race, change, hope, unity" pitch.


So all of these areas, people have asked over and over, "You know, Barack, you make great rhetorical speeches. You're very eloquent. They're very poetic. They're even moving and inspiring, like today. But we really want to know a little bit more to really understand who you are and where you're coming from and what we could expect if you get the nomination and perhaps even win the election."

Namely, put some body. Let's see some initiatives. What can we expect, in terms of public policy changes? What are you going to put your political muscle in and behind if you're in the White House?

These are things that people are asking, not only about race -- although that's there -- but also in other areas. But especially we hear that a lot from, under the table, not overtly, but from a number of those who are sympathetic toward Barack Obama. "We want to hear more. We want to know more. We want to know specifics."

Mr. Hutchinson put his finger on exactly what I’m thinking. The senator from Illinois is one of the best orators of our time, but his speeches lack substance. That’s not a new or particularly deep insight, but it IS the truth. As Mr. Hutchinson notes…Obama’s supporters are saying this, not just his detractors.

There’s MUCH more commentary on this subject (like: everyone has something to say... including your Mom, most likely), and memeorandum is a good place to begin, if you’re interested. Click the screen-shot to see just how much there is…

The transcript of Senator Obama’s speech is here… and I’d recommend reading it, whether you support the man or not. While Obama left out a lot of what I was looking for in yesterday’s speech (me and everyone else on the right), his thoughts on racism in America are worth reading. America’s racial problem is THE elephant in our collective room.

Update: Video of Obama's speech here, if you're so inclined. I still recommend reading the speech, but I know this is America. We're a video culture. Except for you, of course, Gentle Reader.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Would Someone Please Turn Off The Wind-Machine?

The New York Times hits my sweet spot and gets bonus points from me this week for this:
On paper it seems unremarkable, but a mere spec sheet won’t divulge the essence of this car. Its 166-horsepower engine doesn’t make face-melting power, but it seems to have no flywheel whatsoever, and a blip of the throttle results in an instant, melodic zing that begs you to match revs on your next downshift. The shifter feels as though a team of engineers spent months working on its action, and a flick of the wrist rewards you with the rare feeling of metal engaging metal, a precision machine at work.
The chassis won’t generate blackout-inducing G-forces, yet note the steering wheel when you ease off in a corner: it stays almost where it is, having almost no self-centering tendency.
There’s no traction control, no stability control, no computers subtly undermining your throttle or steering inputs with their own second-guesses. It’s just you and the car, and it’s great gobs of fun.
The Miata is, and always has been, a meticulously engineered sports car for hard-core purists. But it gets used as a Corky Romano sight gag because it’s not macho in any way that our culture comprehends.
I certainly don’t agree with the NYT’s politics, but they have great insight into what makes the Miata work. All of what’s written above applies to the Miata I own and love… with the exception of 166 horsepower found in the current iteration of the car. Subtract 23 horses and you essentially have the Green Hornet, minus that spiffy power retractable hardtop (PRHT), among other (mostly minor) things.
That PRHT is sexy, I love the styling on the new car, and I sure wouldn’t turn down those additional horses. But everything on the Green Hornet works as it did when new and she has one huge advantage over the newer model: she’s been paid off for a little over five years now.
Life without a car payment is good, Gentle Reader.
Also in today’s NYTQueenfish: A Cold War Tale. When the Cold War was really cold, or, submarine operations in the Arctic, a subject about which very little has been revealed, ever. Excerpt:
Atop the globe, the icy surface of the Arctic Ocean has remained relatively peaceful. But its depths have boiled with intrigue, no more so than in the cold war.
Although the superpowers planned to turn those depths into an inferno of exploding torpedoes and rising missiles, the brotherhood of submariners — the silent service, both Russian and American — has worked hard over the decades to keep the particulars of those plans hush-hush.
Now, a few secrets are spilling through a crack in the wall of silence, revealing some of the science and spying that went into the doomsday preparations.
A new book, “Unknown Waters,” recounts the 1970 voyage of a submarine, the Queenfish, on a pioneering dive beneath the ice pack to map the Siberian continental shelf. The United States did so as part of a clandestine effort to prepare for Arctic submarine operations and to win any military showdown with the Soviet Union.
In great secrecy, moving as quietly as possible below treacherous ice, the Queenfish, under the command of Captain Alfred S. McLaren, mapped thousands of miles of previously uncharted seabed in search of safe submarine routes. It often had to maneuver between shallow bottoms and ice keels extending down from the surface more than 100 feet, threatening the sub and the crew of 117 men with ruin.
Fascinating stuff, including an escape from a dead-end, wherein the Queenfish was surrounded by ice that threatened to entomb her and her crew.
You did know SN2 was in subs, right, Gentle Reader? There's a pic of him with his Dolphins prominently displayed here.
Yet another day in the maelstrom here on The High Plains of New Mexico… steady winds of 26 mph, gusting to 33… and temps in the low to mid-50s. Shorter: Not a nice day outside.
We DO have indications of Spring, however. The trees that typically blossom early are doing so, and there’s even a lonely blossom or three on the ornamental cherry that stands a few feet from my door. There aren’t enough blossoms for photos yet, though. I’m not sure if I’ll take new and different cherry blossom pics this year. If I posted these today or tomorrow you probably wouldn’t know the difference now, would ya?