Friday, July 31, 2009

Broadening Our Horizons V

The Brown Truck O' Happiness dropped these off a few minutes ago, just in time for today's Happy Hour:

Earlier this week I responded in the affirmative to an e-mail from my Good Friend Tim at, quoted in part:
Well, here's an incentive to try this new brand. Through this email deal you can buy a box of Nica Libre in the Imperial size (6 x 54) for just $50 with free shipping to boot!

Featuring a dark, oily San Andres maduro wrapper (almost identical to the wrapper used on Padron's Anniversary Maduro), if you like maduro cigars you'll love this medium-bodied beauty
The price, as they say, was right... at about a third the cost of our usual, customary, and reasonable cigars (per stick). The packaging is certainly pleasing (with a nice brass clasp and hinges on the all-wood box); one hopes the cigars will live up to their presentation.

So. I do believe it's time to pour a beer and road test one of these puppies. And you know a nap won't be all that far behind.

Update, later that same day: I'm pleased to report the cigars are every bit as good as the packaging. Great flavor... which is to say mild-to-moderate in intensity and "feel"... great construction, easy draw, with a most-pleasing aroma, all of which make for a fine, fine smoke. These Nica Libres won't displace the cigar-of-choice here at
El Casa Móvil De Pennington, but they are quite nice as a change of pace.

And now I hear the couch calling my name...

Update, Part Deux (Saturday): These Nica Libres really are quite good! I usually only have one cigar a day but I broke my "moderation" rule last evening and burned a second Nica Libre with my after-dinner whiskey. The brand might become a permanent addition to the humidor. We'll see.

More Odds and Sods

New to me, maybe not to you... Auto-Tune The News:

Politico has a good backgrounder on Michael Gregory, the guy behind Auto-Tune the News. The vid above is but one of six on Gregory's YouTube Channel. Great stuff be there!


I am NOT alone! From the NYT:

Wake up, America! Fully one in three adults admit that on any typical day they take a nap, according to a national survey released Wednesday.

The proportion of self-proclaimed nappers was even higher among adults who had trouble sleeping the night before and who had exercised within the past 24 hours. It was also disproportionately higher among people who are poorer, black, men older than 50, men and women over 80 and among people who are not happy.
Well... I'm pretty much a Happy Camper but I AM over 50 and I often find myself upside down where my sleeping habits are concerned. I'm also "poorer." Or at least a lot poorer than I used to be when I was gainfully employed. But what does it for (to?) me is a couple o' three beers under the awning in 90-degree heat. That makes naps kinda automatic, yanno? Happens nearly EVERY day...

The article also claims a lot of us lie about naps, as if napping was something to be ashamed of. Not according to Churchill or Reagan... who were famous nappers (and heroes of mine, too). I'm kinda-sorta an infamous napper.


The Last Word on The Beer Summit (around here, anyhoo):
But it wouldn't be a contrived Washington event without a contrived Washington protest. Already, "Citizens Against the Beer Summit at White House", a makeshift gathering spearheaded by Baltimore pastor Dr. Emmett Burns, will picket the White House today between 12 and 3 p.m. "The president's actions are sending the wrong message to our nation's youth who are becoming alcoholics at young ages," reads an announcement for the protest. "This pernicious habit is also the reason for the large number of teen motor vehicle accidents throughout the country."


Today's Pic: One of our periodic gratuitous baby pictures. This one includes YrHmblScrb when he was much better looking... which, of course, is speaking strictly about ourselves and relative to where we are today... and not to Male Pulchritude, in general.

If your name is Lou, Dan, or mebbe Bob you might be thinkin' you've seen this pic before. Nope. It's different. Same people, same place (Key West), same general time (March 1998), different day, different hat on SN3, different pose. Different!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's Not YOU... It's Me...

OK, TWC. I've thought about it for quite a while and the time has come. We've been in this downhill slide, you and me, for several years now. I'm thinking it began with your frickin' incessant re-runs of "Storm Stories," all of which I've seen six times and God Knows it could be THIRTY-six times… EACH… if I'd chosen to watch all your damned re-runs. That's just for starters.

I thought you might could change after
going to work for NBC. I mean, you did get rid of that Eco-Tart and all her friends… and that was a good start. I had high hopes that we could re-establish our former happy relationship, where you concentrated on… you know… reporting the weather, both on my teevee and on the web. But noooo… you had to flaunt cheesy advertising on your website and force me to hit refresh on your radar map every six minutes or so when we're getting our ass kicked with severe weather, all while forcing me to look at those damned Obama ads. And then you went and put that insufferable boob Roker on, first thing in the morning. I refused to watch his short lil segments on NBC… and now you give him a couple of hours of his very own? Dang.

That's the last straw. And, yes… now that I think about it… it IS you and not me. And we're OVER. Get yourself and your lame-ass WeatherStar the Hell outta here. We're done.

I have a new love. She's right there on the left. And in my sidebar, too… which is a place you never could hope to aspire to being. And she's so much better than you... her "current conditions" are refreshed every four or five seconds, she has weather history and statistics at my very fingertips, and her radar display NEVER needs refreshing - it's always on and always current. But… we did have some good times in the way-back and I'll always look back on those times with a certain fondness. Too bad you changed got old and complacent, not to mention political. I just can't frickin' STAND that.

OK... I Gotta Side With Sergeant Crowley

From Bloomberg:
July 29 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama will have Bud Light tomorrow when he hosts an old friend and the police officer who arrested him.

Obama, 47, has picked the top-selling beer in the U.S. for his get-together at the White House with Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cambridge, Massachusetts, police Sergeant James Crowley, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said today. Crowley will probably drink Blue Moon and Gates is likely to opt for Red Stripe, Gibbs said, citing news reports about their preferences.

Bud Light? So much for The One's urbane sophistication. (With apologies to my daughter-in-law Erma, who drinks that stuff. It's still swill.)

There's your deep political thought for the day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cheesy Videos IX: Before the Storm

This evening's entertainment:

As you can see... we're easily amused, Gentle Reader. This video was shot around 1915 hrs this evening (as always: best viewed in HD). We're being inundated by that long-approaching and finally arrived storm as of this writing (2030 hrs).

Editorial note: For those you keeping score (heh... as if): I didn't assign a "Cheesy Video" title to my last lil bit of amateur videography. That storm video was Number Eight in a mercifully short series of offenses against your sensibilities.

Today's Funny and a Visitor

As I said the other day: Good on them Blue Dogs. But the Leftie-Libs are pissed... from The Hill:
Liberal frustration started to boil over in the House on Tuesday as negotiations over healthcare reform with centrist Blue Dog Democrats dragged into a second week.

The delay prompted Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) to lash out at the Blue Dogs as hypocritical and even hint that more liberal Democrats might challenge them in primaries.


Seven Blue Dogs on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have effectively blocked the panel from working on the bill for more than a week, saying it’s too expensive and puts too much of a burden on small employers.

Asked if she would recruit more liberal candidates to run against Blue Dogs, Waters said, “That’s normally not done.”

But she added: “There may be people out there listening and observing all of this who may get motivated based on what they’re seeing and throw their hat into the ring.”
What Ms. Waters fails to understand is the Blue Dogs ain't from California... they're from conservative districts and were elected as such. That's the problem with Big-City, Blue State Dems... they really don't understand how the people in Flyover Country think and feel. And they really don't want to...

Toon from the usual source.


In local news... I found this critter on my door this morning (click for larger):

I'm normally a "live and let live" kinda guy but I think this beastie will have to die. It committed the ultimate critter-crime: You DON'T invade MY space. He's a big sucker, too. This calls for chemical warfare.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hot And Cold

One of Cannon AFB's AC-130s.

I'm just in from an abbreviated Happy Hour… abbreviated coz it's HOT outside… where I was entertained for a bit by a C-130 orbiting around Portales. This is more unusual than it might seem, seeing as how Cannon Airplane Patch is home to more than a couple of C-130s. But the "pattern" is such that aircraft from Cannon rarely fly around or over P-Ville, what with the
Melrose Range being 180-out in direction from Portales. As a matter of fact, it was rare for us to see F-16s, back in the day when Cannon hosted the 27th Tac Fighter Wing. But we digress.
So… there I was… nursing a cool beer and enjoying a cigar while watching that C-130 make a few passes over P-Ville before droning out of sight. I got to thinking that even though it's warm here on the ground… it must be nigh unbearable in that olive-drab heat sink called a 130. It gets cooler at altitude… cold, even… but at 1,500 feet, which was about the altitude of this 130 in question, it's still danged warm if not outright hot inside the aircraft.
Which, of course, brought to mind one of the few occasions I had to be on the inside of a C-130. That was back sometime around 1976 and I was sitting inside a C-130 on the U-Tapao AB ramp, sweating my ass off as we taxied towards the runway for to get airborne and fly up to Udorn AB in upcountry Thailand. "Sweating my ass off" is putting things quite mildly, Gentle Reader. It was probably north of 110 degrees (with something in excess of 90% humidity) on the ramp at U-Tapao, and Gawd-only-knows how hot it was on the inside of that 130. Sweat was oozing from every pore on my body, soaking my uniform in the process, and each minute seemed like an hour as we oh-so-slowly taxied out to the runway. And then the loadmaster and his assistant walked the length of the web seating (see here for various illustrations of the seating accommodations on a pax-equipped 130) and passed out blankets to everyone. I'm thinking this guy had a supremely weird sense of humor when what I really needed was a fan… or some sort of portable air conditioning device. "Trust me," sez the kindly loadmaster, "You'll need that blanket."
So… to make a long story short… we were finally cleared for take-off and ascended to our cruising altitude, which I guestimate was about 15 or 20 thousand feet. And it got COLD. We, all of us, sat there in our sweat-soaked uniforms which had become amazingly efficient evaporative cooling devices and listened to our teeth chatter. That ONE blanket I had been given didn't seem like it was nearly large enough, nor warm enough, to comfort me. And it wasn't: I was literally freezing my ass off and never did warm up until we touched down at Udorn AB not quite two hours later… whereupon we re-entered the USAF's own flying furnace as we taxied to the terminal. It was hotter on the ramp at Udorn than it had been at U-Tapao, if you can believe that. Or so it seemed.
So, anyhoo. The mind works in strange ways… and a short time ago I found myself both envying those guys in that 130, and sympathizing with them at the same time. I suppose you hadda be there… and for the briefest of moments, I was.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

I SWORE I Wouldn't Do It...

..."it" being commenting on L'Affaire Gates. It's already much ado about not much... waaay too much ado, actually. But... seeing as how we've all read and heard too much about this stupidity already I don't think I'll hurt things by adding a couple of "don't miss" articles/posts on the subject.

First... David Burge has a guest posting at his place of bid'niz. The lede and link:

Cambridge Police Profiling Still A Grim Reality for Harvard Faculty Assholes

Guest Opinion
by Professor John Evans Evans-John
Harvard School of Harvard Faculty Asshole Studies
Harvard University

When I first learned of the arrest of my colleague Professor Henry Louis "Skip" Gates after he stood up to the fascist jackboots of a declasse, ill-educated Cambridge police officer, I was of course angered -- but scarcely shocked. L'Affaire Gates simply aired, in public, the dirty 100-thread-count table linen of an American culture where Harvard faculty assholes still face a daily struggle against profiling, abuse, and insolence.
It will come as no surprise that Skip's arrest was the talk of the Douchebag Room at the Harvard Faculty Club last Friday. I and a group of colleagues had assembled for our weekly lunch; I opted for their competently-prepared Ahi Tuna Tartare and an amusing glass of '05 Hospices de Beaune Premier Cru Cuvee Cyrot-Chaudron. I had noticed that the Franz Fanon Memorial Booth -- Skip's long-reserved lunch spot -- was uncharacteristically empty, and asked our waiter Sergio for an explanation.
"Professor Skeep, he no is come today," said Sergio. "I tink he is in the jail."
Heh. RTWT*, as we bloggers acronymize.

And Lex, he speaks for me: "
they both suck." All three of 'em suck, if ya wanna include The Most Powerful Man In The World, who started the whole brouhaha with a statement to the effect of "... I don't know the facts, but..." Frickin' ROOKIE.

There. I'm done.

* Read The Whole Thing.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Unmanned Aerial Systems

In USAF news… Unmanned Aerial Systems have been getting a lot of attention this past week as USAF rolled out its Unmanned Aerial System Flight Plan last Thursday afternoon at the Pentagon. Here are a couple of items from last Thursday's briefing, courtesy (as usual) of the AFA's Daily Report:

UAV as Sixth-Gen Fighter?: Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula, the Air Staff's head of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, said it is not unrealistic to imagine an unmanned aerial vehicle as successor to fifth-generation fighters—the F-22 and yet-to-field F-35—in our national military strategy, however he added that UAVs still require some technology maturation before they would be ready to assume that mantle. "It depends on your definition of fighter," Deptula said during the July 23 press briefing on the service's new unmanned aerial systems flight plan. Terminology has a habit of fixing us in the past, he said. "That quite frankly has been some of our challenges with labeling fifth-generation fighters," Deptula explained. He added that fighters such as the F-22 bring a wide array of capabilities to a fight, from electronic attack to standoff strike and ISR sensors. Today's fifth-gen fighters are flying sensor platforms that will have the ability to penetrate denied airspace and extract information while also retaining traditional strike capabilities. "An F-22 or an F-35 … does not perform the same functions as a P-51 did," he said. UAV systems will certainly be used to deliver weapons on a target in the future, he said, but if the question becomes dealing with controlling airspace filled with enemy aircraft, technology is not yet at the point where an unmanned vehicle can achieve the level of spherical situational awareness, assimilation, and translation of information into action that a human being in a cockpit can. "At some day, we might be able to, but until then, we'll still have manned aircraft," he added.

At the official rollout of the Air Force's new Unmanned Aerial System Flight Plan 2009-2047, July 23, 2009, UAS task force commander, Col. Eric Mathewson, told reporters that the UAV does have a cockpit, what operators call the "1-G cockpit," the ground control station that he said offers one of the UAS primary strengths—its persistence. Here, A1C Caleb Force assists 1st Lt. Jorden Smith in locating simulated targets during an MQ-1 Predator training mission April 22, 2009, at Creech AFB, Nev. Force is a Predator sensor operator and Smith is a Predator pilot. Both are assigned to the 11th Reconnaissance Squadron. US Air Force photo/SrA. Nadine Y. Barclay

The Persistence-Plus Cockpit: At the official rollout of the Air Force's new Unmanned Aerial System Flight Plan 2009-2047, Thursday afternoon, the service's vice chief of staff, Gen. William Fraser, acknowledged that most focus on UAS operations is on the unmanned aerial vehicle itself, but he said, "While the operator may not be sitting in the cockpit, at the heart of these unmanned systems, and really at the core of all of our missions, are highly skilled airmen." (Read our initial coverage, which reports the shift to a future in which UAVs are dominant.) UAS task force commander, Col. Eric Mathewson, cast a slightly different light when he said that one of the strengths of UAVs is its "1-G cockpit," the ground control station in which he "can always have a fresh crew, which enables any sort of persistence." Gen. Dave Deptula, the Air Staff's intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance czar, called that persistence capability "first among equals." He said, "What UAS is bringing to the table is the ability to stay in position or maneuver over large areas for a long period of time, and that's where a person in an aircraft becomes a limitation." The Air Force flight plan, they say, is meant to institutionalize USAF's vision for developing and resourcing unmanned capabilities for the foreseeable future. Deptula noted: "We are today, with unmanned aerial systems, about where we were in the 1920s with manned aircraft. Lots of potential out there. And, we have to change the way that we think about using these systems across the entire spectrum of military operations." Mathewson said the document does not lay out specific solutions but rather "concepts and possibilities" that will be filled in as the service talks with industry, academia, the other services, and allies. Initiatives underway include the development of multi-aircraft control by a single pilot (currently undergoing testing at Creech AFB, Nev., according to Mathewson) and a "payload agnostic platform" or a modular platform that could accommodate different payloads to perform a range of missions, from ISR to mobility and strike. "We're thinking about multi-mission in the large sense," he said and added, "We think this is potentially where we are going to go." (Deptula briefing slides)(Mathewson briefing slides) (Air Force UAS flight plan) (Briefing transcript)

In the "Wonders of Modern Technology" Department… C-SPAN was at the Pentagon to cover the UAS Flight Plan roll-out and taped Gen. Deptula's and Col. Mathewson's presentations. And then the wonderful folks at C-SPAN made the video available for Air Force geeks to publish on their blogs to view at their leisure, as well. So… here it is here's a link to the presentations. The video is 56 minutes long and includes some fascinating information. The Q&A session with the press takes up about half of the video runtime. (ed note: C-SPAN's embed code has some issues, the video would not appear on EIP even after considerable messing with it. Thus: a link.)

I'm fond of telling SN1 that he ain't serving in his father's Air Force and that is most certainly true. I didn't serve in MY father's Air Force, either. But I'm thinking my grandchildren (if they choose to serve) will be in a quite different Air Force… if it still exists as a service… than any of their forebears. I'm not making a value judgment here, which is to say the changes coming down are neither "good" nor "bad." But they most certainly will make for a radically different United States Air Force.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"Feels Like Rain..."

That it does: feels like rain. It's quite warm, humid, and there are thunderstorms in today's forecast... and for the rest of the week, as well. To top that off we got yet more rain last night and a rather significant amount, too... the Unofficial Beautiful La Hacienda Trailer Park Rain Gauge had about an inch and a half of water in it this morning. Doubtless we got a lot less precip than that. As I said: the Unofficial rain gauge.

So... we're back from Cannon Airplane Patch, having completed our bi-weekly resupply run for beer and food... beer being the key item. I'm also pleased to report the tabs at the Class VI Store and the commissary were nearly equal this time, mainly because we don't buy a pricey bottle of scotch every time we make a beer run. No... sometimes we buy a pricey bottle of Drambuie. Like today.

Side note: I wore my New Belgium 1554 tee shirt today. I also went to the Class VI Store before I went to the commissary. So... the sweet young thing (and she WAS all that, and a bag o' chips) who bagged my groceries and wheeled them out to the car noticed the beer in the trunk and sez "How cool! Your tee shirt matches your beer! Is the beer good?" To which I replied... "Honey, do you think I'd buy both the beer AND the tee shirt if it wasn't?"... followed up with a big ol' grin and a wink. I was graced with a dazzling smile in return. Pitter-pat went my heart...

I was semi-amazed at just how GREEN the landscape is after all the rain we've had in the past ten days. It's not green like the green one finds in places like Upstate New Yawk or New England (mainly coz there are no trees)... but it's green enough. Almost pretty, even. Which, of course, means I should have taken the camera with me so I could have snapped a few vistas to share with you, Gentle Reader. I'm thinking I need to put an American Express logo sticky on my camera bag. You know... something that sez "Don't Leave Home Without It."

Finally... this post's title tune:

Lying underneath the stars right next to you
Wondering who you are
And how do you do? (How do you do baby?)
When the clouds roll in across the moon
And the wind howls out your name
and it feels like rain
And it feels like rain

We aint never gonna make that bridge tonight baby
Across the Ponchartrain
and it feels like rain
And it feels like rain
Ah. Former Happy Days.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Those Frickin' Congresscritters

Apropos of the Michael Ramirez toon above… Most of you Gentle Readers have heard this by now and I'm remiss in not posting earlier this week about my favorite soap opera (which has been discontinued). But here's the lead paragraph from an occasional e-mail update Mike Dunn, president of the Air Force Association, sends out from time to time:

AFA Members, Congressional Staffers, Civic leaders, and DOCA members, as you may know, this week the Senate voted to strip F-22 funds from the Authorization bill. Following that, both Chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees announced they would follow suit and not force additional F-22s on the Administration. AFA, of course, believes the Air Force needs more F-22s. We made our case often to anyone who would listen. We did our best to counter the mounds of misinformation on the aircraft. However, we did not prevail. I can only hope that years in the future we won't be forced to say: "We wish we had more of these aircraft."

General Dunn's last line is both massive understatement and somewhat wishful thinking. I'm sure there are already many, many people wishing we had more of these fighters. Like those guys who might have to go to war in 30 year old aircraft


I was gratified to hear on the news last evening that there will NOT be a vote before the August congressional recess on yet another half-assed but massive boondoggle legislation our congresscritters haven't read. And my hat is off to the Blue Dog Dems for digging in their heels and refusing to vote for yet MORE budget-busting programs of dubious value.

Not that I would actually know the specific value or lack thereof in the two or three proposed health care bills, as I haven't read them… like, oh… maybe 299.995 million other Americans. And I can guar-an-dang-tee ya most if not all of your congresscritters haven't read the bills, either. Following the health care debate is a massive game of "Who Do You Trust?" (a dated reference, that) and I damned sure don't trust the Democrats to deliver meaningful health care "reform." I don't trust the damned Republicans all that much, either. I'm of the opinion they're all beholden to some interest or another… the trick is figuring out whose interests best align with mine.

All that said… I'm not really one to weigh in on gub'mint-provided health care as I've been served by the military health system in one way or another for all but about 16 years of my life. And that system has been very, very good to me. So far.

(toon by Chip Bok)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bad Mediocre Day at Black Rock

Well... to begin with... we find ourselves kinda-sorta upside down again where our sleeping habits are concerned. We arose around 1000 hrs this morning, fired off the coffee pot and retreated to our bed, ostensibly for just enough time to allow the coffee pot to finish its magic. An hour later we awakened yet again to semi-fresh-brewed coffee. After pouring our first cup we began to make the rounds of our Daily Reads.... which we did NOT finish, on account of because we had an appointment at 1400 hrs today for our periodic cleaning and dental check-up. Which is the source of today's not-inconsiderable angst.

Before we get too deep into the whining... it helps to know the edge was taken off by the fact that we launched Happy Hour directly upon our return from Dr. Thompson's Dental Palace, after spending nearly two hours therein. And this prompts a minor digression... about which: I'm thinking I (a) should have stayed in school and (b) pursued a career path that involved dentistry, rather than the profession of arms and information technology, as a follow-on career. Why? Regard:

The above is an illustration blatantly purloined from the Good Doctor's web site. In what other career field would one be able to surround himself with visions of beauty such as depicted above? I can't think of another example, but I AM open to suggestion. Which, of course, is not to say that I didn't have the opportunity to associate myself with beautiful women in MY chosen fields... it's just that said opportunities were rare. And to top it all off, Dr. Thmpson's distaff staff are truly great people, aside from being classic "lookers." End of digression.

Back to the whining. I got the usual and customary dose of "good news, bad news" during today's visit. The bad news? I'm in danger of losing yet another tooth, this time one of the teeth that anchors a bridge I've had for about eight years or so. This is bad news, indeed, as said bridge contains our three front teeth, which are critical for doing things like eating apples or gnawing on barbecued ribs. The good news is that tooth may yet be saved, albeit at "a certain cost." Further bad news is that although the tooth may be saved in the short run the longer term prognosis is not good... which means I'll have to pop for more implants three or four years down the road. Aiiieeee...

But. We remain accepting and philosophical about our fate after four beers. We 're also grateful that (a) we have the wherewithal to defray these sorts of expenses (even after absorbing significant hits to the 401(k) during the latest economic crisis, which has left us listing significantly to port yet still afloat) and (b) we live in America, where there are solutions to such problems beyond yanking all your teeth out and forcing one to subsist on gruel forever thereafter. Further... I find comfort in the fact that although I have the "bad teeth" gene (or I lack the "good teeth" gene), things could be worse. I could have the "fall over dead from a heart attack at age 53" gene. Or I could face the constant struggle with the "I'm too fat" gene and its fall-out. One must count one's blessings, no?

On the other hand... we had plans to spend our retirement money in other pursuits, such as opportunities to contract exotic social diseases in equally exotic climes while destroying our liver with indigenous alcohol (mmm... Singha! and Mekong!). Thailand comes to mind (see the foregoing), as do certain Central American destinations (mmm... tequila! and pulque!). We also had envisioned passing on what was left after said peccadilloes were done to our offspring upon our demise, making them instant hundredaires... or, best case, thousandaires. But, Hey! "The best laid plans..." and all that.

On the other, other hand, I'm gratified to learn that one can, indeed, "take it with you" when one leaves this mortal coil... if only in the form of really cool dental prostheses. Ya takes what ya gets...

Last Nite's "WTF?" Moment

Check out the ad on the right side of the image below...

That is ENTIRELY the wrong approach to get some of us... maybe even most of us... to click on an ad. I mean... WTF does "Obama Backs Insurance Regulation" have to do with any-frickin'-thing, leaving aside the fact the insurance biz is already one of most-regulated industries in this country (returning over 1.2 million results when googling "state insurance regulatory agency")? It'll be a cold day in Hell before ignorant frickin' ad flacks who insult my intelligence with that kind of crap induce me to click on such an ad. And people have problems with Flo, Cavemen, and Erin E-Surance? Sheesh.

Speaking of cold days in Hell New Mexico and apropos of the relevant content above... which is to say: the temperature... I entertained kicking on the furnace this evening. Seriously. But I didn't. Firing up the furnace in July, in New Mexico? That's just wrong, unless you happen to be up around 8,000 feet in the mountains somewhere. I did, however, drag out my fleece-lined slippers and put on a flannel shirt. I kid thee not.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Such a Strange Day...

OK, we know the monsoon season is upon us here on The High Plains of New Mexico... but we still find this sort of thing unusual:

And if that's not unusual enough... speaking solely of the oh-so-moderate temperature for the end of July... we had about eight hours of solid rain beginning around 0300 hrs today and lasting through the morning. Our storms here on THPoNM tend to be brief and rather violent affairs in that they come on quickly, dump a usually-small to moderate amount of rain on us, and leave just as quickly as they arrive. Rinse, repeat.

But last night we experienced a system that sorta just parked its huge damp ass over the entirety of east central New Mexico... like from Roswell all the way up to Tucumcari and all points in between... and lingered. And lingered some more, all the while dumping a steady sort of gentle rain punctuated with occasional bass rolls of thunder. This, of course, is not an entirely unwelcome event. We always need rain in this part of the world; we got a lot of it last night.

Here's the Unofficial Beautiful La Hacienda Trailer Park rain gauge:

And here's the general view out the back door of El Casa Móvil De Pennington:

It's still spitting occasional rain on us as we speak and it remains to be seen if we'll hold the usual, customary and quite reasonable Happy Hour today.

Aw, Hell... Who am I trying to kid? Of course we will.
A lil rain never hurt anybody, according to Mom.

Now THIS is an Aquarium!

That would be the Kuroshio Sea at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. The Kuroshio Sea is the main tank at this Okinawa aquarium and holds nearly two million gallons of water... and four (!) whale sharks.

Wowzers... and particularly impressive when viewed in full-screen HD mode. Note the two divers in the tank...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Plane Pr0n

Some pretty cool plane pr0n, courtesy of LockMart and the AFA's Daily Report (screen shots taken of the linked pdf, below - click for larger, as always):

The Daily Report item:

An F-35 Thunderbird?: Circulating on the Web, we believe first courtesy of, is a PowerPoint slide presentation produced by Lockheed Martin that has rendered an F-35A (ed: link added) model in the Thunderbird aerial demonstration team color scheme. The F-35A is the USAF conventional takeoff and landing variant. A Lockheed spokesman tells the Daily Report that the company plans to "build fully functional and realistic 3D models of all three F-35 variants to be used for any future project." Really good job. (All nine views of the F-35A Thunderbirds model in PDF format)

Me likey.

Monday, July 20, 2009

At Last... RELIEF!

But beware of those side effects at the end of the ad... they sound pretty serious. A Prius? Oh, noes...!

h/t: Gordon.

Forty Years Ago Today...

... man walked on the moon.

"Man walked on the moon." Those words still amaze me today. Forty years ago... back when I was a young man of 24 years... the fact man walked on the moon was much more than amazing - it was spectacular, redeeming, inspiring... the list of superlatives goes on. But beyond this... it was American men who walked on the moon... two of 'em, in fact, on this July day 40 years ago. Thousands of Armstrong's and Aldrin's fellow American men and women pooled their talents and energies to accomplish this feat. The world watched in amazement and awe on July 20, 1969 as a Jules Verne fantasy came to life. This is the event that the phrase "you hadda be there" was coined for, little else comes close. It was a most significant accomplishment... and it was a most amazing time to be alive.

Further: I recommend Tom Wolfe's piece on NASA and the moon landings in the NYT if you haven't read it already. And the NYT's coverage of the anniversary in today's paper is quite good, as well.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Broadening Our Horizons IV

Today's Happy Hour libation:

That would be a Blue Moon Belgian-style Wit bier. Unfiltered, cloudy, and quite tasty. It is GOOD, Gentle Reader. The beer is accompanied by a Man O' War Ruination Belicoso (5.7 x 56), which is also quite good. Hell, life itself is good!

And now back outside, to continue as we've begun.

The ME-262 Flies Again

Well, sorta. A couple of replicas... exact replica airframes with upgraded modern engines and various other components... are flying out in Washington state. Witness:

Via a Tweet from Lex, who points us to Stormbringer's extensive post on the ME-262. Good stuff, all the way 'round.

The Sublime and the Ridiculous (You Choose Which Is Which)

This morning a friend sent along a link to video of the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain doing "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." Which was way cool, so we went off to YouTube (natch) to see what else they've done lately. And we came across their rendition of "Wuthering Heights:"

I particularly like the stage patter. That said... if you don't know Wuthering Heights (the song, not the book)... here's the original version of what the UOGB were sending up:

That would be Kate Bush, a once and former... Hell, still... lust object of mine. Kate is an acquired taste (like sushi, sorta)... you either love her or hate her; I know of no one who is ambivalent about the woman. For the record: I love her. AND this song.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Just Checkin' the Box

The fallout from last night's excitement: I had to get up on the roof and manually manipulate the awning to put it down late this morning. I'll not go into any long drawn out explanations, but it basically involved me NOT getting the awning's pull strap properly engaged in the awning's rolled up canopy last evening in order to re-deploy the awning when the time came, i.e., this morning. Mom's old admonishment about haste making waste MOST definitely applies here. "Time is of the essence" also applies, so it's a wash as to which old saw would be more appropriate in this case.

Anyhoo. So we clambered up on the roof, manually unrolled the spring-loaded awning in teeny-tiny increments until it was low enough to reach via step ladder, whereupon we descended from the roof and continued the deployment using said step ladder, followed by the final unfurling while standing on Terra Firma, also in teeny-tiny increments. A long and aggravating process, but one that is complete.

We have shade.
And all the awning's mechanisms seem to be in fine working order, too. We are relieved, Gentle Reader. As well as being somewhat wiser.

Today's Pic: Another shot of those fascinating mammatus clouds. Last evening was the first time I'd ever seen such clouds... thus my obsessive behavior. They are astounding to witness.

Update, Saturday evening: From the Portales News-Tribune:
Roosevelt County and city of Portales residents were running for cover Friday after a severe storm brought high winds estimated to have reached 75 mph by the National Weather Service.

The storm blew down trees, power lines and a sign, and took the roof off of two buildings in Portales.
Roosevelt County Emergency Management Coordinator Keith Wattenbarger said the damage was fairly minimal for the winds the area had.


The county reported downed power lines and shingles taken off of roofs in Dora. Both Milnesand and Elida had reports of no damage.

National Weather Service meteorologist Chuck Jones, who works in Albuquerque, said there were reports of 68-69 mph winds, with estimated 75 mph gusts in the area.

“Obviously, the wind was the big winner with this storm,” Jones said. “The main thing was the storm was moving very quickly and produced some pretty high winds.”

Yup. All that and a bag o' chips, as it's said. Lest you think us something of a collection of rubes when we get all excited over a little wind... it beats a mass-murderer on the loose, dontcha think?

Friday, July 17, 2009

This Evening's Excitement

So... there I was... sitting under the awning enjoying a cigar and a post-evening-meal whiskey in the early evening, say around 1815 hours. The weather was kinda gray but not at all threatening and sitting as I was, which is to say looking off to the southwest, I was completely oblivious to the maelstrom that was sneaking up from the northeast, directly behind the RV... and me. And then it hit me, almost literally, in the form of an orange-brown sky and a particularly violent gust of wind. "Uh-oh," thinks I, and I get up and peek around the RV and see DOOM bearing down on me... and rapidly, at that. I VERY quickly jumped up, unfastened the awning deflapper closest to me, lowered the awning strut, and quick like a bunny moved to the other side of the awning to do the same. Done. I then flipped the ratchet lever to retract the awning and... the ratchet jammed. The wind howled. I fought the ratchet lever... and nothing. The awning is still half-way down and the wind is increasing in intensity.

A neighbor appears out of nowhere and asks "Do you need help?" I respond that the ratchet is jammed and we both try to free it. Nothing, still. The neighbor goes to the other side of the awning and grabs the strut as a particularly violent gust catches the awning and nearly rips it off the side of the RV. But that intense gust and the resulting awning excursion apparently freed the jammed ratchet and we were able to let the awning retract to its stowed position. I breathed a sigh of relief, the neighbor sez "you lucked out!" and I agreed. I dodged about a one-thousand-Yankee-Dollar bullet there. And the storm had not yet reached full intensity... we were just feeling the leading edge of it.

So, after catching my breath and saying a few quiet "Thank-Yous" to The Deity at Hand I went inside and fetched the MinoHD to record this:

The video will eventually be available in HD (in about an hour from posting time), and viewing the vid in full-screen HD will be the best way to get the full effect. This was literally the absolute WORST wind storm I've ever seen since I've been in P-Ville. All my neighbors agree, as we had a middle-of-the-street consultation and an "are you OK?" session about an hour after the worst had passed.


Embryonic Mammatus clouds! And a post-storm view of P-Ville.

Update, later that same day (evening):

The image is a screen-cap from Weather Underground (click for larger). Note the wind speed and wind gust values. It looks like my neighbor Chris' brother was right on the money: Gusts of 69 mph. 58 mph steady winds ain't no slouch in the Wind Dept, either.

A Tune From Today's Soundtrack...

"You act like you were just born tonight
Face down in a memory but feeling all right
So who does your past belong to today?
Baby, you don't say nothing when you're feeling this way..."
Ah... we loves us some Rosanne Cash.

And now: Happy Hour.

When the Going Gets Weird...

... the weird turn pro post re-runs (with apologies to HST). From April of 2007:

Old But Not Dead, Like Some Things

So. I put 200 miles or so on the bike yesterday, riding down to Roswell and back…the ostensible purposes being (a) to put miles on the bike; (b) have lunch in Roswell; and (c) do a little “styling and profiling” on the Main Drag in Alien-Town. Mission Accomplished.
I woke up this morning feeling old…quite old. I’ll spare you the detailed litany of complaints; suffice it to say I’m sore. My back hurts. The fleshy area of the thumb on my right hand is sore. My left thigh feels like it spent a few hours with Saddam’s rubber-hose wielding thugs. (ed: I thought you were gonna spare us? Oh, shaddup—you know there’s more.) I’m obviously out of riding shape; the corollary to that thought is “getting old really sucks.” I digress.
Not only am I not in great physical riding shape, my general riding skills need a bit of buffing, too. Not the safety-related skills…those are fine, thank you. Head on a swivel, front brake covered in traffic, situational awareness A-OK, and all that. Nope…it was in those rare moments (twice, I believe) when I had to set up for a corner that I found myself being a bit tentative… having to adjust my line once or twice while in the corner, experiencing a bit of difficulty judging the appropriate entry and exit speeds, and all that. Not that there are all that many corners in this part of the world to begin with. I need to head north on my next trip to reacclimatize myself with riding in the twisty-turnies. I’m rusty, and that’s putting it mildly. Once again, I think age may be rearing its ugly head. I’m a lot less bolder than I used to be.
But it was great fun. I’ve reached the magic 500-mile threshold; after I get the bike its 500-mile service tomorrow (hopefully. Another story, that.) I’ll be free to see what it feels like to wind that sucker out all the way to its 10,500 rpm red line. One thing I will tell you: the bike will do 100 mph, and easily, too. It was still pulling hard at a little over 7,500 rpm when I hit 100 (briefly, very briefly) on one of those lonely “you can see forever” stretches of road between P-Town and Roswell. It should go without saying the weather cooperated yesterday. It was a little breezy, but not the life-threatening sort of gales we experienced this past week.
Today’s Pics: New Mexico used to have a patch-work of wet and dry counties in the way-back. One of the fixtures from that day and age is the county-line bar…and there are numerous examples —all dead now— of that phenomenon dotting the New Mexico landscape. Here’s one such…the county-line bar about a mile over the Roosevelt-Chaves County line on US 70 south of Kenna, NM.
I’ve been by this deserted old road house at least 20 times and never stopped to take pics until yesterday. As you can see, the most prominent feature is the B – A – R mounted on a 40-foot (or so) tower over the building. That sign, which I imagine was done up in bright red neon back in the day, is visible for miles before you get to the bar. And…not to put too fine a point on it…this unnamed bar is literally in the middle of freakin’ nowhere, about 30 to 35 miles south of P-Town.
I can also imagine what it must have felt like on a summer Saturday night back in 1958 or so…cruising south from Portales in your ’55 Chevy convertible with the top down, warm breeze in your hair, laughing, telling bad jokes, anticipation building, seeing the B - A - R sign glowing in the distance and then… Pulling into the crowded parking lot…getting out of the car…walking into the bar… hearing Hank Williams (Senior, thank you) on the juke box… watching the heads turn to see who just arrived. Shouting "Hey!" to your Buds, and the odd girl or three. Dancing. Brawls. Marriages made, marriages broken. I could almost smell the beer and the Crown Royal as I walked around the sadly-broken premises. Ah…the stories…the stories!
(Didja read the caption to the bike pic? Yes, that fairing/tank combo does make you look fat. Don’t ever let anyone photograph you from that angle, ever again.)
And the comments from that post, just so's certain individuals who may drop by don't repeat themselves:
Bag Blog said...
Toby drove Jesse to Velma (about 8 miles from here)on his bike yesterday. He said he was very careful with my baby. But he did say that when he was driving around on our property, he slid on some freshly mowed clover - scaring himself. Toby has tales of living in Hobbs, NM and driving to the Bloated Goat Bar on the TX/NM line - walking into the dark bar from the bright sunlight outside and drinking a cold beer. I asked him if he recognized the bar in your photos, but he said he did not. Then he laughed and said, "Do you think I know every bar in NM?"
4/23/2007 1:55 PM
Blogger Buck Pennington said...
Lou said: Then he laughed and said, "Do you think I know every bar in NM?" Ah...there's a goal worth having!! :-) Way, way back in the day bikers used to have a slang term: "TT bike." A TT bike in its most literal connotation means "Tourist Trophy," after the Isle of Man TT races. But in the slang vernacular "TT" meant "tavern-to-tavern." I used to own one of those, back when I was young and stupid(er). Things have changed. Thank God. Re: scaring one's self on a bike. It happens, and happens quite often, especially in the dirt. Once again, we used to have a saying back in my racing days: "If you don't crash once a day you're not riding hard enough." Unfortunately I rode more than "hard enough..." but never broke anything that couldn't heal in between races.
4/23/2007 3:04 PM
Anonymous JennyE said...
Seen that bar alot! Jeff used to drive a milk truck for MTS (then CTL). It actually only closed a few years ago. Not that I have ever been in there. LOL! Roosevelt County is still a dry county, but Portales city limits is not (obviously). I guess my house is the closest thing to a bar Floyd has. LOL!
4/23/2007 8:57 PM
Blogger Buck Pennington said...
Wow...I didn't know Roosevelt County was still dry! The things I don't know about my adopted home town would fill a book, eh? (I can't BELIEVE I said/wrote that!!!) I'm just philosophically opposed to the whole concept of "dry." In a big, big way. And I'm gonna resist the temptation to rant on that...
4/24/2007 6:54 AM
Anonymous Reese said...
The part about this post of yours regarding the B-A-R is very Lileksian. I'm gonna make it a point to take this route next time I have business at points SE of the (even) big(ger) city. I'm sure I drove past there in the late 70s/ early 80s-- I filled gumball machines from Farmington to Amarillo to El Paso to Silver City on the weekends as a high school job (not on one weekend, though). Wish I had taken pictures, but a 17-year-old doesn't think of such things like preserving memories. Well, they are preserved "up here."
4/25/2007 8:20 PM
Blogger Buck Pennington said...
Reese sez: The part about this post of yours regarding the B-A-R is very Lileksian. That's a high compliment in my book, Reese. James is a Hero of mine in the writing/blogging division. I aspire...but can't come close. The man is talented beyond MY wildest dreams!
4/27/2007 10:01 AM
This re-run thing is TOO easy...yanno? But when one is lacking for new experiences and/or motivation... Nuff said.