Sunday, May 31, 2009

Two Down, Two to Go

(graphic from

Two down, two to go. Here’s Dave Dye, writing in the The Detroit News:
Detroit -- It appears nothing is going to keep the Red Wings from defending their Stanley Cup title.
Not key injuries. Not a quirky schedule with back-to-back games for television. Not Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
The Wings are just two victories away after beating the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-1, Sunday night in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena.
Detroit heads to Pittsburgh with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Games 3 and 4 are Tuesday and Thursday at Mellon Arena.
Teams that win the first two at home, as the Wings have done, are 31-1 in a best-of-seven in the Stanley Cup Final.
Note that last sentence. Pens fans will say “Yeah? Well, what about that Washington series! We were down 0-2 in that one, ya know.” Good point, I suppose… but the Caps obviously ain’t the Wings, and Yer Man Crosby hasn’t cracked the score sheet in these two games, let alone pulled off a hat-trick. Things are looking pretty grim for the Pens when their superstar can’t get on the big board. One could say the same for Malkin, but Geno did manage to score on the power play tonight… or at least he got credit for the goal. Brad Stuart of the Wings was the guy who actually put the puck in the Detroit net. Stuff happens.
I’m thinking the Pens had their chances tonight and Detroit wasn’t as sharp as they usually are. It’s obvious to me that the Wings are missing Datsyuk and Draper, yet they are deep enough to survive and even thrive in their stars’ absence. The Hockey Gods were obviously smiling on the Wings this evening, who were just good enough. And that’s all that really counts.
On to Pittsburgh.

Wrath O' the Hockey Gods... Not To Mention the Wings

Detroit's Justin Abdelkader celebrates in front of his teammates and Pittsburgh's Philippe Boucher and Jordan Staal after scoring a goal during 3rd period action.

As you might expect, Gentle Reader, my morning has been completely consumed with reading what the sporting press has to say about last night's Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals. And there's almost literally a TON of stuff out there... which is semi-surprising for a game "that don't get no respect" in the generic sense. But as of this writing Google is listing 2,916 SCF Game One related articles in the press and 40 related blog posts. And George Malik posted enough video in a single post to crash my browser not once but FOUR times (Chase this link at your peril. You are warned.). I'd say that qualifies as "respect," wouldn't you?

Here's my favorite kernel o' wisdom from the morning's harvest... by
Cam Cole, writing in the Vancouver Sun:
Indeed, unless there was a full moon that nobody noticed, it was either pure happenstance or some powerful statement by the hockey gods that allowed the dinged-up Red Wings, still with no Pavel Datsyuk or Kris Draper, to escape the first act of hockey’s great passion play with a 3-1 victory, a cushion they will be delighted to have with Game 2 looming just 21 hours after this one ended.
You may recognize a certain sumthin' in the passage above, which I've taken the liberty of highlighting in a bold red font just in case you might have missed it. Ring a bell? It should:
The Hockey Gods do not look kindly upon apostates; heresy is NOT allowed in this church**. The Faithful will note Henrik Zetterberg did NOT touch the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl during the presentation of same for winning the West this year. Ergo, The Cup will follow in due course. It's ordained.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

We're Under Way In Detroit

And this is what it’s ALL about…

Tied 1-1 at the end of one.

Update, 2045 hrs: Final. Detroit 3, Pittsburgh 1. One down, three to go!

h/t for the vid: Alanah @ Kukla’s Korner

Tonight's the Night

Finally... it's the Stanley Cup Finals, beginning tonight at 2000 hrs (EDT). Tonight will mark the Wings' 99th game this season... with at least three more on tap and more than likely a full slate of seven games before the series with the Penguins is decided. At least that's what most of the sporting press thinks.

While opinions on the question of who will win this series are pretty evenly divided, most pundits feel it will take seven games to decide the outcome. MLive's George Malik has posted comprehensive round-ups of the predictions from the usual sources, i.e., The Hockey News, ESPN, SI, the Canadian press, the CBC, hockey blogs, the Dee-troit and Pittsburgh papers, and even the frickin' New York Times... if you're into reading such things. His admittedly homer-ish coverage (Go Wings!) of the SCF is the BEST available (IMHO)... in terms of absolute completeness.

As for the Great Unwashed... here's a small sampling about what ESPN's readers think the outcome will be, along with some series-related questions:
Note that the vote is split fairly even at 51/49 Wings, nationwide. In Michigan 96% of voters think the Wings will win; in PA it's 85% Pens... go figure. You can vote in the poll here, if'n ya wanna. Now. As for me? I'm thinking Wings in six... just like last year. The wild card in all this is the Wings' health... the Pens' too. But given the way things look this morning... and most especially if Datsyuk returns for Game Two and the ones following... I just don't see the Wings losing.


Friday, May 29, 2009

(Not Caffeinated Enough Yet to Think of a Snappy Title)

Right around sunset last evening... or just after. Click to embiggen, as always.


I posted a little Elvis immediately below and mentioned in comments that "I like his wife,too." Well, that's true... and this tune bears sharing.

This song as done by Ms. Krall (or would that be "Mrs. Costello?") is my all-time favorite Joni Mitchell cover and is the perfect example of those rare times when the cover equals the original. I won't say "exceeds," coz that would be heresy. NO one exceeds Joni... ever.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Selection From Today's Happy Hour

Just because...

"I used to be disgusted... now I try to be amused..."

Words to live by.

It’s Ordained…

DETROIT - MAY 27: Henrik Zetterberg #40 (R) of the Detroit Red Wings receives the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl from NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Jim Gregory after the Red Wings won 2-1 in overtime (ed: we should add Darren Helm scored the winner 3:58 into the OT, his first-ever OT playoff goal ) against the Chicago Blackhawks during Game Five of the Western Conference Championship Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 27, 2009 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan.
We’ll get to what we’re on about in the post title in just a moment. But first… there was a hockey game in Detroit Wednesday night. See the image above for the basics; the oh-so-brief photo caption provides some detail. More and better detail may be found here. (photo from the Bleacher Report).
Now… about this “It’s Ordained” thing. The Wings WILL win The Stanley Cup. Why? Because of this:
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Forget tradition. Sidney Crosby is ready to create his own legacy for these Pittsburgh Penguins.

Bucking years of superstitious belief, Crosby happily pulled the Prince of Wales Trophy out of the hands of NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and posed for pictures holding the trophy -- even calling alternate captains Sergei Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin to join in.

For years, such behavior around the trophy awarded to the Eastern Conference playoff champion was considered taboo. The thinking went something like this: Why celebrate with the conference championship trophy when there is a bigger trophy still up for grabs. The superstitious lot actually believed it was bad luck -- and poor form -- to be caught touching said trophy, and more than one captain in the past decade has gone to great lengths to limit exposure.
The Hockey Gods do not look kindly upon apostates; heresy is NOT allowed in this church**. The Faithful will note Henrik Zetterberg did NOT touch the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl during the presentation of same for winning the West this year. Ergo, The Cup will follow in due course. It's ordained.
Sorry, Sidney. You never should have done that.
**OTOH, maybe Sid the Kid is only trying to emulate a worthy example. I'll quote The Wiki (all links left intact and the bold emphasis is mine):
Another tradition (or rather superstition) which is prevalent among today's NHL players is that no player should touch the Cup itself until his team has rightfully won the Cup.[5] Adding to this superstition is some players' choice to neither touch nor hoist the conference trophies (Clarence S. Campbell Bowl and Prince of Wales Trophy) when these series have been won; the players feel that the Stanley Cup is the true championship trophy, and only it should be hoisted.[6] However, in 1994, Stephane Matteau, then of the New York Rangers, admitted that he tapped the Wales Trophy with his stick's blade before the overtime period in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.[7] Matteau subsequently scored the game-winning goal in double overtime against the New Jersey Devils, and the Rangers won the Stanley Cup. Scott Stevens hoisted the trophy as well in 2000, after the New Jersey Devils came back from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games. In 2002 the Carolina Hurricanes hoisted the Prince of Wales Trophy after they won their conference title;[8] the Hurricanes lost their Finals series with the Detroit Red Wings four games to one. The superstition held true in 2004, as Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames grabbed the Campbell Bowl, but Dave Andreychuk of the Tampa Bay Lightning refused to touch the Prince of Wales Trophy; the Lightning won the Stanley Cup in seven games. In 2007, Daniel Alfredsson and Wade Redden of the Ottawa Senators touched and picked up the Prince of Wales Trophy, respectively, but Anaheim Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer never came close to the Campbell Bowl; the Ducks won the Stanley Cup in five games. Steve Yzerman, captain of the Detroit Red Wings during their 1997, 1998, and 2002 Stanley Cup victories, picked up the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl each time, though his successor Nicklas Lidstrom did not touch it en route to a 2008 Stanley Cup victory.
So... in spite of mixed evidence, I still think the Gods were offended. As far as '97, '98, and '02 go...there's no doubt in my mind Stevie Y got some sort of dispensation. Sidney hasn't yet achieved that sort of status.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Early Fathers Day... Again

Last year along about this time... give or take a couple of weeks... I put up a post about my early Fathers Day gift from me to me. This year history repeats itself. Herewith, this year's Fathers Day gift from me to me:

Explanation... the lens on the left... detached from the camera body... has been the source of the only complaints I've had with my XTi. And about which I said:
I'm still not completely satisfied with this lens' performance, given the images aren't as sharp as one would expect... or perhaps demand... from a camera in this price range. I understand that telephoto lenses generally have a "softer" focus than a "normal" lens. So... it's with that knowledge in mind that I see a new lens in my future... more than likely a "standard" 50mm fixed-focal length lens.
And so it's come to pass. The FedEx guy dropped off my new Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens about a half hour ago. Here's the first test shot, in two flavors:

The first pic is a 40% re-size, the second is a full-resolution crop. You can't really tell the difference in quality (i.e., this lens vs. the "old" telephoto zoom) from photos posted on the web, but my initial impressions are that I will be satisfied with this lens. I'll play with this lens a little more in the coming days... after my lens hood and filter arrive from Amazon. I don't like to walk around with a "bare" lens, which is to say without a filter on it to protect the lens glass from dust and such. But you just KNOW, Gentle Reader, that we had to go out for a quick test drive!

I'm actually pleased and surprised that the lens arrived before the other stuff... given as how the lens was purchased from an Amazon partner (OneCall, in Spokane, WA) and the accessories from Amazon themselves. I'm pleased with both the price AND the responsive, rapid service I received from OneCall. Good On 'Em, and all that.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

As a Public Service...

I know the great majority of you Gentle Readers don't have the first clue about hockey nor do you care (which probably explains why my SiteMeter stats tank during the playoffs, but that's neither here nor there. Well, it could be there. Or maybe even here.).

So... it occurred to me that you lack a general understanding of the grace, beauty, athleticism, and violence that is my favorite sport. Well, forget the violence part. I didn't
really mean that. Heh.

Enter Greg Wyshynski, aka Puck Daddy, who found this little gem that might help you understand what I'm on about at this time of year (all the time, actually, but it's only this time of year when I get to watch all the hockey I want):

It's humor, Gentle Reader. Canadian humor. Which means you probably need a beer or three to appreciate it if you're not a hockey fan.

Speaking of beer... the sun is over and slightly beyond the yardarm, so I think we'll get Happy Hour underway. The weather was just miserable enough this weekend (read as: lotsa rain) so as to preclude (some of) the daily festivities. Sooo... if you'll excuse me... I have some catching up to do.

Spectre, Arriving

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- One of two 16th Special Operations Squadron AC-130H Spectre AC-130H gunships taxis onto the flightline May 19. The 16 SOS formerly transfers from the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hulburt Field, Fla., to the 27th Special Operations Wing at the end of June.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class James Bell)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Each of the two AC-130H Spectre gunships assigned to Cannon will sport a unique symbol. The Spectre has been the symbol of the 16th Special Operations Squadron and the AC-130 gunship since inception in the late 1960s. The Spectre represents the unit's special operations mission, usually carried out at night, where they attack quickly and precisely and then vanish, much like the phantoms of folklore do. The unit's motto, "Spectre," represents the nickname of the aircraft the squadron has flown since the Vietnam era.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class James Bell)

From today’s Air Force Association Daily Report:

Cannon Gets First Gunships: The first two of eight AC-130H Spectre gunships destined for the new Air Force Special Operations Command force at Cannon AFB, N.M., arrived last week. The remaining aircraft are slated to arrive later this summer, according to the Cannon photo release. The AC-130 gunships are part of the 16th Special Operations Squadron that is shifting from Hurlburt Field, Fla., to Cannon, where it will operate under the 27th Special Operations Wing. AFSOC took over operations at Cannon, setting up its long-sought western hub, in October 2007. The command expects to move about 600 personnel from Hurlburt to Cannon to establish the 16th SOS at the New Mexico facility.

More… much more… on the AC-130H here. So… things are gonna get a lil bit noisy out on the range pretty soon. That 105mm howitzer sticking out of the left side of the aircraft (right side of photo) in the pic above has a pretty good boom to it. I've heard 'em practicing on the range while I was down in the Florida Panhandle years ago... from a distance of at least ten miles, perhaps more. It makes one glad to NOT be on the receiving end of greetings the Spectres deliver. Watch this and see if you don't agree:


(USAF Photos as captioned here.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

The joint Memorial Day message from Michael B. Donley, Secretary of the Air Force, and General Norton Schwartz, USAF Chief of Staff. Click for larger, please.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Detroit Red Wings Marian Hossa scored on a breakaway during a Chicago Blackhawks power play for a 1-0 lead in the first period in game 4 of the Western Conference Finals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Chicago on Sunday, May 24, 2009. (JULIAN H. GONZALEZ/DFP)
(ed: note the Dee-troit fans [in Chicago!], as opposed to the despondent YoungHawk fans)

Schooling. That's the metaphor in play throughout the hockey press after Detroit's 6-1 thumping of those YoungHawks this afternoon. And the press is both brutal and unforgiving, even and especially hometown Hawks blogger/columnist Steve Rosenbloom:
What. A. Disaster.
A disaster, an embarrassment, a waste, pick one, pick ‘em all, you wouldn’t be wrong in trying to describe what passed for Blackhawks hockey in a 6-1 loss in Game 4 of what used to be a competitive Western Conference finals against the vexing Red Wings.
The Hawks came into Game 4 knowing they couldn’t go into Game 5 in Detroit on the brink of elimination, and they proceeded to lose the first period, their poise, the game and likely the series.
To think, the Hawks had everything going for them entering Sunday’s game.
They had confidence they could beat the defending champions after their gotta-have-it overtime win on Friday. Amazingly, they had Martin Havlat, no matter that he got annihilated by Niklas Kronwall in Game 3. They also had the last change at home against a team missing all kinds of talent and bling -- Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper, a multiple Norris Trophy winner, an MVP candidate, fistfuls of Stanley Cup rings.
But that’s why the Wings are a great team and the young Hawks just aren’t good enough.

The Hawks’ deterioration resembled the way you go broke: slowly at first, then all at once. They not only blew a power play in the first period, but they gave up a 2-on-1 break and a short-handed goal.
When they needed to rally, the Hawks they gave up an inexcusable goal in the last minute of the first period. Johan Franzen came down the right wing and snapped a shot into the top left corner.
Ouch. The criticism and snark only gets worse. It's said "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned"... unless it's a hometown hockey writer who watched his city's team systematically dismantled, humbled, and embarrassed. I've seen similar writing in the Dee-troit press back in the bad ol' days of the mid-80s, and even in places like San Jose and Calgary this season. But Rosenbloom takes biting criticism another notch up the scale.

And there's this from Cam Cole, writing at
CHICAGO — The Detroit Red Wings took the kids to school Sunday. They’ll pick ’em up next fall.
Actually, there’s a little paperwork to be done first, Wednesday night in Detroit — report cards signed, concessions accepted, and so on — but once that’s done, the Chicago Blackhawks can take the rest of the season off and go back to class in October.
Class was noticeably absent from their performance in Game 4 of the Western Conference final at United Center, where the young Hawks received more education than they ever wanted. The Red Wings — short-staffed, shorthanded, on the power play, every which way — showcased their incredible depth and dominated the home team with a cool, controlled display of textbook positional hockey and opportunism.
It ended 6-1, on the strength of two goals each from Marian Hossa and Henrik Zetterberg, and along the way the Wings chased starting goalie Cristobal Huet four minutes into the second period, then his replacement, Corey Crawford, after 40 — although it might have been that Chicago coach Joel Quenneville realized he’d be needing Huet for Game 5 Wednesday, and better get him some work.
In any case, it was an ugly day for Hawk fans, who had come thirsting for Red Wing blood after Niklas Kronwall’s nasty hit on forward Martin Havlat in Game 3, but didn’t get to taste revenge in what might be their last glimpse of the boys this year — only bitter, utter defeat and a 3-1 series deficit.
Missing their best two players? No problem for the Stanley Cup champs. Plenty more where they came from.
Detroit was already without Pavel Datsyuk, but shocked observers by scratching captain Nick Lidstrom just before game time. Kris Draper, too. It hardly mattered.
About Lidstrom being scratched... apparently even Babcock didn't know Lidstrom wouldn't play until the very last minute, saying he only found out when he was in the taxi on the way to the United Center. As for me, I found out during the pre-game show and was on the phone immediately with SN1... relaying the news in an "Oh, shit" tone. The news was ominous, indeed. But... as noted above... it hardly mattered. It was gut-check time for the Wings, and they delivered. About which... Darren Eliot, writing at
Detroit gave a clinic on what gut-check time is all about. Playing without veteran faceoff specialist Kris Draper, Hart nominee Pavel Datsyuk and surprise scratch, captain Nicklas Lidstrom -- only the best defenseman of his generation -- the Red Wings played with composure and competitiveness. They were outwardly abrasive in the early going, not shying away from post-whistle scrums, actually initiating much of the pushing and shoving.
That edginess was merely a demonstrative form of their intent. As is the norm, it was their execution that led to the Red Wings' domination. The passing was crisp and the shooting sharp. The tandem of Marian Hossa and Valtteri Filppula, in particular, took over offensively with Hossa scoring twice -- his first tallies of the series -- and Filppula with his first of the playoffs. Hossa's second goal of the game came only 12 seconds after Jonathan Toews had gotten the Blackhawks on the board at 3-1.
That quick answer denied the Blackhawks any chance at building momentum for a comeback -- something they've routinely done throughout the playoffs. Instead, at 4-1 early in the second period, goaltender Cristobal Huet's day was done and the youthful 'Hawks proceeded to unravel by taking needless penalties. Rookie Corey Crawford had to endure a 5-on-3 power play and promptly saw the big board go to 5-1 on Henrik Zetterberg's goal. From there, the game took on an air of posturing, with both teams setting their sights on Game 5.
So. It really, rilly, looks like the handwriting is on the wall... we'll have Wings - Pens, The Sequel beginning June 5th. June 5th?? Yeah... that is truly inept and horrible scheduling on the NHL's part for the SCF, based upon a press release from the league Friday... which might change if the conference finals end quickly. But that's quite another story. There are a couple of hockey games to be played first.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

About Last Night's Game...

SN1 and I burnt up the cell phone air waves after this (see the video below), and BOTH of us were simply outraged.

About which, Damien Cox opines in the Toronto Star:
Hard to believe four experienced NHL officials could get a call so wrong.
Did the misguided first period expulsion of defenceman Niklas Kronwall from Game 3 of the Western Conference final on Friday night between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks decide the game? No, but it sure changed it, particularly since the Wings were already without star forward Pavel Datsyuk in a game won by the Hawks that ensured this year's Stanley Cup final will begin no earlier than June 5.
But in a playoff season in which the NHL has gotten so many calls wrong time after time, Kronwall's was arguably the worst miscarriage of justice outside the inexplicable non-suspension of Carolina forward Scott Walker for his goon sucker punch on Boston's Aaron Ward.
You should read the whole thing. I agree... completely... with what Mr. Cox and others (including what ALL of the Versus commentators said last evening) said about this hit. Bad call, to say the VERY least, and one that arguably affected the outcome of the game. I've seen some bad officiating in this year's playoffs, but this is the most egregious of ALL the bad calls made this year.

Broadening Our Horizons, Yet Again

Yesterday was a red-letter day here at El Casa Móvil De Pennington... whereby we reaped the material rewards of blogging for the very first time. I've noted elsewhere and often the psychic benefits of blogging... which are numerous... but the tangible rewards? Far and farther between, they are.

First... Occasional Reader and commenter Bob Reese from Albuquerque is in the area this weekend and he dropped by yesterday afternoon with a cold sixer of my favorite Japanese beer in hand. Many's the mug and bottle of Sapporo that's been downed over the years, and Bob and I had a couple of those yesterday while we got better acquainted and "fixed the world," so to speak. Suffice to say Bob is exactly the sort of person I thought he was... smart, articulate, and with excellent taste in brew. A most enjoyable interlude!

Second... The Brown Truck of Happiness stopped by yesterday as well, delivering yet another six-pack of excellent beer sent on by Blog-Bud Ann from Montana. Ann offered to send me some of Great Northern Brewing Company's Wild Huckleberry Wheat Lager for my review and approval... I, in turn, offered to send her some of New Mexico's best salsa... and the deal was struck.

I had a couple of those Huckleberry Wheats while watching the Wings lose in overtime last evening, and was sufficiently impressed with the beer to write a mini-review at Beer Advocate. You can read my review of this fine beer plus 12 others here, if you're so inclined, Gentle Reader. OTOH, you could just click on the image below and read the review right now without having to go off galavanting around these inter-tubes.

Not bad writing for a man who was half in the bag and semi-despondent because his team lost an important game, eh?

But it's not the end of the world as far as The Beloved Wings go, it's just one game in a seven-game series... not to mention the fact we're still up 2-1 in said series. Still and even... it WAS depressing to watch the Wings go down 3-0 in the first period, come roaring back in the second period to tie with three unanswered goals... only to lose less than two minutes into the OT.

Oh, well...stuff happens.
It was a rather sad end to an otherwise brilliant day, though.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Blog Roll Addition

Takes its place on my sidebar
Oh, yes! Just because...

Today's Hockey Post...

... is different. From the WSJ… “The Stanley Cup Could Use an Editor.” Excerpts:
There are four teams remaining in the National Hockey League playoffs, and their star-studded rosters can be frightening -- especially for Louise St. Jacques, whose job is to engrave the names of the winning team's players on the Stanley Cup.
This iconic silver trophy, which is handed out each year to hockey's champion, carries with it the marks of another, quieter history -- decades of botched spellings, spacing gaffes, repeated words and the unsightly results of attempts to fix them.
Over the years words like "Ilanders" (Islanders), "Leaes" (Leafs) and "Bqstqn" (Boston) have found their way onto the cup, while more than a dozen players and coaches have had their names butchered. Former Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jacques Plante had the misfortune of having his first name spelled four different ways in the span of five years.
This, of course, comes as no news to long-time hockey fans. But some of the errors are pretty funny and make for an entertaining read… like this one:
One cup quirk isn't actually a mistake, but a victim of an unfortunate change in popular lexicon. Frank Selke was an assistant manager for the Maple Leafs when they won the cup in 1945. His title is abbreviated as "ass man." Says Philip Pritchard of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, "We don't tell a lot of people about the ass man," he says. "Players love the story, though."
Heh. It’s good to see hockey in the Journal, for what that’s worth. Video, too.

(Photo from the WSJ article)

Arlington, Yesterday

Each marker in section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, which holds veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, has a flag placed in front of it during the "Flags In" Memorial Day tradition, May 21.
(US Army photo - as captioned on - click for larger)
Every Memorial Day since 1948, Soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) have made their way through Fort Myer's Selfridge Gate, rucksacks filled with American flags.

This year was no exception as every available Soldier from The Old Guard, as well as from ceremonial units across each branch of the military, gathered at Arlington National Cemetery May 21, to place a flag in front of each one of the cemetery's more than 300,000 graves.

"Flags In," as it's known, kicks off the Memorial Day weekend for service members and visitors to ANC, beginning several days of reflecting on the sacrifices of the men and women who have laid down their lives for our country.


The Marine Corps Barracks 8th and I, the Navy Ceremonial Guard, the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard and members of the Coast Guard Honor Guard all participated as well, in a joint service tribute to heroes of generations past and present.
Full story here.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

As Pretty As They Come III

As promised... that beautiful Evgeni Malkin goal:

Isn't that something? Wins the draw, skates behind the net, and flips a "no look" back-hander into the net, all while fighting off the Carolina defenseman. Amazing. And ya just gotta love, too... those guys are quick to post video!


We got a real barn-burner goin' in Pittsburgh... only 13 minutes gone in the first period and it's 3-2, Carolina. Five goals in 13 minutes... the sort of hockey I LIKE.

I don't have a dog in this fight but I'm leaning towards those Cardiac Canes... they're
exciting to watch.

Update, 2025 hrs: A WILD one... Pens win, 7-3 and go up 2-0 in the series. Malkin gets a hat trick and his third of the night was a beauty that I'll post as soon as it's available on YouTube... and it most certainly WILL be.

The final score makes it seem worse than it actually was. The last Pittsburgh goal was an empty-netter, and Malkin's three goals most definitely added to the lopsidedness. I wouldn't be too confident if I were a Pens fan, though. I'm thinking the 'Canes have it well within their power to even the series in Raleigh. I'm sure Blackhawks fans are thinking the same thing, too... but that's different, yanno?

Update update, 2135 hrs: Here's Wyshynski tonight:

• All of that said: There's a better chance Carolina rallies in this series than Chicago rallies against the Red Wings. Just a hunch.
Heh. Great minds, and all that.

I NEED One of These...

I'm not much on gadgetry, but I think I could use some of the functionality built into this phone. MUCH more useful than your run-of-the-mill iPhone... yanno? Especially that self-destruct feature.

(h/T: Blog-Bud Alison)


THIS pisses me off more than you could possibly know...

Here's what the WSJ has to say (in part) on the subject. Excerpts:
So far, the Obama administration has yet to lay out its magical thinking on how the homegrown auto makers are to become "viable" when required to subordinate every auto attribute that consumers find desirable (ed: emphasis mine) in favor of achieving a passenger-car average of 39 miles per gallon by 2016. Nonetheless the answer has quietly seeped out: Taxpayers will write $5,000 or $7,000 rebate checks to other taxpayers to bribe them to buy hybrids and plug-ins at a price that lets Detroit claim it's earning a "profit" on its Obamamobiles.

Mr. Obama was supposed to be smart. His administration was supposed to be a smart administration. But the policy coming out has not been smart. It has been a brute shifting of power to the president's political allies, justified by the shibboleths of copybook liberalism (though Mr. Obama is clever enough to know that nothing he's done will have a meaningful effect on atmospheric carbon or climate change or the country's need for oil imports).

As for attributes I find desirable... horsepower is right up there along with agility. It pains me, severely, to think that those rompin', stompin' V8s of my youth... improved as they are (and 304 hp V6s that get 29 mpg, fer gawd's sake)... will go the way of the dodo. I just don't see how they fit in with The One's hybridized bastardized vision of the American auto industry.

I may never own another fire-breathing V8 and it's quite likely I wouldn't choose one the next time I'm in the market for a new car, anyway. But I ain't happy about having the goddamned government take that choice away from me. What have we come to?

(toon from the usual source)

More Shuttle Geekery

I can't get enough of this stuff... here's STS-125 crew video of Atlantis releasing the Hubble:

(h/t: via a Tweet from George Malik, the hockey blogger from

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Samuelsson's OT Winner...

... or, "As Pretty As It Gets," Part Two.

20,000 fans in Dee-troit go WILD... while at least one in Portales does the same. I think I hurt my hand I brought 'em together so forcefully... and I KNOW the neighbor had to be startled with the "YES!" shouted at the top of my lungs.

So. On to the United Center. It's very hard for me to see how Chicago wins four out of the next five games, but they'll probably take at least one home game. It's not that they aren't a good team - they are. It's just that the Wings are better this year.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Via Lex… we learn that “Happiness Is ... Being Old, Male and Republican.” Well, shit, Virginia… isn’t that OBVIOUS? The first few grafs:

Americans grow happier as they age, surveys find. And a new Pew Research Center survey shows the tendency is holding up as the economy tanks.

Happiness is a complex thing. Past studies have found that happiness is partly inherited, that Republicans are happier than Democrats, and that old men tend to be happier than old women.

And even before the economy got nasty, seniors were found to be generally happier than Baby Boomers. Some of that owes to the American Dream being lived by past generations, while Boomers work two jobs and watch the dream wither.

In times like this, it's clear how age can have its advantages. While not all seniors are weathering the recession well, for many the impact is much less severe than it is for younger people.

Why? Many people 65 and older retired and downsized their lifestyles before the economy imploded, according to Pew analysts.

I’d probably modify that Republican thing to say “conservative,” mainly coz I’m not too pleased with the state of the GOP these days, and I should note that at age 64+ I’m just outside that 65-year old envelope. But on the whole it’s hard for me to argue with the premise(s) made in the article. I’m finding the downsized life just peachy, don’t have any financial issues to speak of (which is a direct correlation between my expectations/desires and my means, IMHO), and enjoy my independence almost TOO much.

If all that sounds suspiciously like a self-congratulatory load of bollocks, then so be it. It’s the truth… swear to the-deity-at-hand.

Apropos of Not Much

In her post today Blog-Bud Lou happened to mention watching the teevee show "Bonanza" while in Italy... dubbed in Italian. Which caused some long-dormant synapses of mine to fire off, of course. Bonanza was big the first time I was stationed in Japan (back in 1968 - '70), and there was an export version dubbed in Nihongo. Believe me, you've NEVER seen anything funnier in your life... my friends and I used to watch it every week for the comedy in it, which was substantial.

Here's Michael Landon and Johnny Carson discussing the subject... with a too-brief sample clip:

OTOH... maybe you hadda be there.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Along For the Ride

As you might expect, Gentle Reader, I’m doing a lot of reading about these hockey playoffs. And, in so doing, I came across this little gem by Bucky Gleason in the Buffalo (NY) News. Excerpts:
DETROITBuffalo has its flaws with its inability to get routine projects completed, with its politics and its economy, with its shrinking population and sports teams that positively break your heart. But no matter how bad things get back home, it’s heaven compared to Detroit.
Motown was a depressing place long before the auto industry began crumbling, and it’s only getting worse. Just the other day, General Motors announced it was chopping 1,100 dealerships across the United States. People who spent their lives making an honest, middle-class living are now struggling to put food on the table.
Fortunately, the hard-working people here can take comfort knowing Joe Louis Arena is just down the street from GM’s headquarters. The Red Wings provide an opportunity for people to escape from the stress that comes with the daily grind. Every few days, they can rally behind the best hockey team in the league.
The world outside the arena is a mess, but the Red Wings keep motoring. They beat the Blackhawks, 5-2, in Game One of the Western Conference finals and made it look easy.
Nobody is better than Detroit at its best. The Wings aren’t a machine, but a symphony, an art form to be appreciated. The Joe has sold out all seven postseason games. It shouldn’t be news in Hockeytown, but it says plenty about a fan base that was forced into becoming very judicious with its money.
The rest of the piece is pretty much the same ol’, same ol’ about how Detroit systematically dismantled those YoungHawks yesterday afternoon… but it IS good reading. The larger point, though, about how the Wings are raising Detroit’s morale is well-taken, and it’s always been that way. Detroiters love their Red Wings.
I was living in Dee-troit the first time the Wings made a serious run at The Cup (in the modern era) back in 1995 and things weren’t so hot in the city, even then. But the Wings made us ALL smile, fan and non-fan alike*. It seemed like every third car you saw on the road had a Red Wings flag flying from its antenna or stuck on one of those window frame mini-flag-poles. And you can’t BEGIN to imagine how crushed we were when the New Jersey Trapping Devils swept the Wings in the finals that year. But… it was a wonderful run while it lasted and the Wings came back two years later to win back-to-back Cups. I was living in Rochester, NY by that time… and I was seriously upset that I wasn’t still in Detroit to celebrate those wins! In a proper manner, that is. Lord knows I most certainly DID celebrate.
Speaking of 1995… we beat the Blackhawks 4-1 in the Conference Finals that year. Hmmm.
*I could talk about the Pistons during that time frame, as well. But I won’t.
(photo: The Joe, with a part of downtown Detroit in the background, from hockey,

Manned or Unmanned and Manhandled

I dunno about you, Gentle reader, but I find the following just a little…umm… unsettling. From today’s AFA Daily Report:
Last Manned Aircraft?: Despite eliminating the Air Force's next-generation bomber from the 2010 defense budget, Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged it was his personal view that "we probably do need a follow-on bomber." But he told the Senate Armed Services Committee during May 14 testimony that much had changed since the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review directed USAF to field the NGB by 2018. And, he now believes that the outcome of the new QDR and Nuclear Posture Review may provide different insight on that bomber and will question "whether, for example, the follow-on bomber needs to have a pilot in it." Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed, declaring, "There are those that see the JSF [F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter] as the last manned fighter—or fighter bomber or—or jet, and I'm one that's inclined to believe that." (The Air Force is slated to purchase the last of its 1,763 JSFs in 2034.) Mullen said, "We're at a real time of transition here in terms of the future of aviation, and the whole issue of what's going to be manned and what's going to be unmanned, what's going to be stealthy, what isn't, how do we address these threats … it's changing, even from 2006."
I’m no Luddite, and perhaps the technology is more advanced than I think. But the idea of unmanned, autonomous combat aircraft that can employ ordnance against ground targets… not to mention fulfilling the air-to-air mission… is sorta scary. If you think we have issues with collateral damage today (i.e., civilian casualties), just wait until UCVs start handling the air-to-mud mission. But then again, perhaps there will come a time when software replaces people. I kinda doubt that, though.
Just sayin’.
Detroit's Johan Franzen scores a goal on a wrap around Chicago goalie Nikolai Khabibulin during second period action between the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks in game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, Sunday May 17, 2009 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. (JULIAN H. GONZALEZ/DFP)
Off to a good start… That would be the Wings in the Western Conference Final, which they won convincingly yesterday by beating Chicago 5-2. Some snippets from the hockey press, beginning with Rick Morrissey writing in the Chicago Tribune:
DETROIT -- For the past 10 years or so, Rule No. 1 in the NHL has been that you can't make mistakes against the Red Wings. Once you do, only the IRS has more effective methods of making you pay.
Afterward, everyone was trying to figure out why the Hawks seemed to fall apart so dramatically after Cleary's goal. Was it youthful nerves? Playoff inexperience? The greenhouse effect?

"I don't think we were over-aggressive, I think we were not smart out there," defenseman Brian Campbell said. "You feel a guy on you, you've got to find a way to get it deep and skate harder and move your feet more. You can't be standing around."

As explanations go, "not smart" is as good as any.

The Red Wings like to make nifty plays and then hope their opponents try to attempt the same. They don't make many mistakes and figure that, eventually, the other team will. It happened over and over Sunday.
DETROIT -- Game 1 of the Western Conference finals looked awfully familiar.
It reminded us of the first two games the young Pittsburgh Penguins played in Detroit last June in the Stanley Cup finals. The Pens never touched the puck and wondered what had just hit them. By the time they recovered in the series, it was too little, too late.
The Detroit Red Wings delivered that same lesson Sunday, controlling large stretches of the afternoon in a dominating 5-2 victory over the young Chicago Blackhawks.
The class in question Sunday was Puck Possession 101, a course the Red Wings have taught many times to the rest of the league.
"Welcome to the Western Conference finals, kids," the Wings seemingly said loud and clear Sunday. "Did we tell you this was our eighth trip here in 14 seasons and third in a row?"
"They've obviously been here before," said Blackhawks star center Patrick Kane, who was minus-3 on the day without a single shot on goal.
We'll see if the Hawks are quick learners. They looked disjointed Sunday, unable to get their speed game going and certainly unable to mount any kind of sustainable forecheck. It's hard to fore check when the home team has the puck all the time.
OK… it’s just one game in a seven game series and there’s (ahem) a lot of hockey left to be played. The Hawks could have been rusty, they could have been overconfident after relatively easy series wins against Calgary and Vancouver, they could have had the flu, or they could have been awed by just being there, “there” being the Western Conference Finals. Any or all of the foregoing. On the other hand, they might have been over-matched.
I’m of the opinion that the Hawks were definitely out-coached… Babcock’s match-ups were effective at neutralizing Chicago’s young guns (Toews and Kane… who were both minus-3 in the game, with a combined total of three shots on goal between the two of ‘em), while Quenneville had no answers for Detroit’s scoring machine. Quenneville juggled his lines throughout the third period and nothing worked.
It will be very interesting to see what happens tomorrow night, to say the very least. Chicago has reason to worry, not the least of which is what will happen when Datsyuk and Hossa (finally) show up. If and when the latter happens, watch out. It could turn out to be a VERY short series.
(Photo credits: F-35, Lockheed-Martin; Khabibulin - Franzen, Detroit Free Press)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

NASA's Image of the Day

Astronaut John Grunsfeld working on the Hubble...

Nice hat!

You can follow the repair activity live on
NASA's Twitter feed, if that interests you. I'd be watching the process on NASA teevee, if my local Comcast outlet wasn't so damned lame. We unfortunates here in P-Ville aren't allowed NASA, ya know... but we DO have three shopping channels. Priorities, and all that. (/sarcasm)

Update: One can watch NASA's live TV feed on the web site, but my point remains: a 3" x 2" window on my PC ain't quite the same as watching it on my teevee. It's still fascinating stuff, though.

What's For Dessert?

If it’s on the menu at any good restaurant I’m eating in, you can bet it’s what’s for dessert. I’m speaking of crème brulée. But there’s not a restaurant within 150 miles of me that features my all-time favorite dessert, more’s the pity.

I have, however, found a reasonable facsimile and something I’ll buy more of… a LOT more of… Ben and Jerry’s Crème Brulée ice cream. If you google it you’ll find reviews are about 3:1 favorable (FWIW). I suppose it helps if you approach the dish as a custard-based ice cream instead of expecting something like a real (albeit frozen) crème brulée. It ain’t that, most certainly.

But Hey! This stuff is danged good, even if it’s a
serious diet killer at 310 calories per quarter pint. I’ve been known to eat an entire pint of Cherry Garcia at a single sitting, but there’s NO way I could do that with Crème Brulée… it’s just too danged rich. I can do a half-pint, though. Easily. Been there, done that, hope to gain weight.