Saturday, August 31, 2013

Life Is Hard

About an hour or two ago...

SN2.  Click to embiggen.

YrHmblScrb.  We didn't put fire to the cigar... we simply chewed it.
The homeowners' association in SN2's neighborhood has access to three... not one, not two, but three... private beaches on Lake Montclair, a rather large-ish lake in the immediate vicinity.  We were down on the lake at the West Beach this afternoon, just chillin'.  The only drawback?  No alcohol, no tobacco, no drugs... strictly verboten.  This is America?

Big-ass sigh.  But we endured.  Life IS hard, sometimes.

Saturday: Evening Parade

Sumthin a lil different this week, as this Saturday's video isn't from the Usual Source.  I give you the USMC Silent Drill team instead, throwing around ten and a half pound M-1 Garands like they didn't weigh a thing.  With gleaming bayonets, too.

Why Marines today?  Because we went to last night's Evening Parade at the Marine Barracks, Washington, DC.  That first link is a Tube O' You page chock full of videos of the Evening Parade, the second link is to The Wiki with a history of the Marine Barracks.

The Evening Parade takes about two hours and it's a formal military event, albeit tarted up quite a bit for the general public with much more music than a traditional military parade and the performance of the Silent Drill team.  But all the military elements are there... presentation of the colors, organizational reports, orders of the day, and the "pass in review." And it was ALL very entertaining... and impressive... so much so that I've declared a 30-day moratorium on snarky comments about Jarheads Marines.  That does NOT extend to Squids, though.

Friday, August 30, 2013

A Nice Neighborhood, Part Deux (SN2's Block)


REALLY leafy

You know that piece o' the American Dream that sez you want your kids to live better than you did?  I think I got that box checked.

Culturally Deprived

I'm exactly like Chuck (or Beans, I don't know who's who): I have NO ideer what they're on about.  That's not a BAD thing.


Dr. King would NOT be pleased.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

I Used To Think Only Hippies, Moonbats, and Other People o' Dubious Character Did This

I was wrong.  Squids do it, too.  Wait.  I DID say "dubious character," didn't I?

We're almost to SN2's house... but no one is home.  So we're having a late lunch at Mickie Dee's and doin' wi-fi tricks, waiting for permission to proceed.  It's been a leisurely drive with next to no traffic, so far.  Surprise!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack: Shine On!

Pink Floyd, with advice to geezers who MIGHT be feelin' their age today:

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.

Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
You were caught on the crossfire of childhood and stardom,
blown on the steel breeze.
Come on you target for faraway laughter,
come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!

You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.

Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,
rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you see'er of visions,
come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine! 
Well, OK.  I shall.  I said (the post below) that I was feelin' rather old today but that was just a fleeting moment in time coz we're much better as we type.  That said, the "advice" above is well-taken.

In other news... I mentioned last evening the heat and humidity had returned to this neck o' the woods.  That remains true today:

The humidity hereabouts is in the mid-80s but life on the verandah is quite bearable, given that SN1 has a couple o' ceiling fans on the porch, which I set to "tornado" speed before launching Happy Hour.  It's all good, Gentle Reader.

In Which We Feel Slightly Older Than Dirt

Substitute the number 50 everywhere you see 46 below.

An Anniversary

Janis once sang...
 It ain’t much, no, no honey it ain’t much,
Oh, it’s only every little thing,
Just-a everything, everything
Ah yeah.
But Janis was talking about "One Good Man" when she sang that.  Me... I'm on about an anniversary.  This anniversary "ain't much" in the grand scheme of things but it IS "every little thing," to me.  It was 46 years ago today I raised my right hand and swore the following oath:
I, Norman E. Pennington, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
 John Kennedy was president on that day, Pat Brown was the governor of California (from whence I entered service), The Ronettes' "Be My Baby" was on its way to the top of the pop charts, and I was on my way to Lackland AFB.  Martin Luther King, Jr. was still alive and well (today is also the 46th anniversary of his "I Have a Dream" speech) and Watts was yet to burn.  Vietnam was buried in the back pages of the newspapers if and when it was mentioned at all, and the Gulf of Tonkin Incident had yet to occur.  America was a much different place than it is today, yet it was still the same.

I was a much different person then, too... yet I'm still the same.  But August 28, 1963 was the watershed moment in my life.  A lot of water has gone over the dam and under the bridge since that day but I still define myself as a non-commissioned officer, even after all this time.  I find this passing strange in that I was arguably much more successful in civilian life than in the Air Force... assuming one uses responsibility, compensation, and positions in the corporate hierarchy as yardsticks.  While those civilian accomplishments were obviously important to me and to my happiness, they pale in memory and by comparison to my Air Force experiences.  Funny, that.

So... today was the day we began.  Here's how we ended:

The Second Mrs. Pennington is on the left and that's my commander, Colonel Taylor, shaking my hand.  It's not a good picture, what with it being a lil ragged around the edges, but it's the best we got... sorta like my career, appropriately enough.
As I said: we're feelin' old today.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


SN1, Grandson Sean, and I* journeyed into beautiful downtown Hampton this evening to dine on raw fish and other delicacies at Musasi restaurant. Like this:

The first pic is SN1 and Sean, the second pic is my entree, about which we had already done considerable damage by the time I took that pic.  I have to mention the fact that Sean's taste has broadened considerably since his first encounter with sushi.  This time out he ate the tuna and the salmon roe with considerable gusto.  The last time?  Not so much.

So.  We got back over an hour ago but I took an hour off to sit out on the verandah, have a cigar, and drink three fingers (x2) o' SN1's Macallan stash.  Let me say this about that: the good weather I brought with me from New Mexico has vanished into the ether, replaced by what's usual, customary and quite UNreasonable for this part o' the world, which is to say 80 degrees and 85% relative humidity at 2200 hrs, Gentle Reader.  That's like the dead o' night and it's frickin' STIFLING outdoors.  But, Hey!  It what it is and what it is... is GOOD.

* Where's DIL Erma, you may ask?  She's in NM, attending to granddaughter Monique who had an ultrasound today.  It's a boy!  That would be great-grandchild number five, but who's counting?  Not me.

The Heart o' the Military-Industrial Complex

That would be this piece o' Virginia... which has a LOT o' the military part but not so much the "industrial" bits (thinkin' o' private companies).  Like this:

Military installations in the local area.  I got that map here.

We went cruising around two o' those bases yesterday, Langley Airplane Patch (where SN1 works) and Naval Station Norfolk, where we cruised the piers for to look at the boats before heading out to other areas o' the base.  And we were impressed.  First let's show a couple o' few pics o' Langley...

Langley Air Park.  From L - R: F-16 (Lawn Dart), F-105 (Thud), F-86 (Sabre), and F-15 (Eagle).  I'm sure the air park is a hold-over from the TAC days.

Gate to the 1st Fighter Wing Area

A dash cam shot of the housing area, which is immaculate.
I really should have taken more pics on Langley, especially o' the Raptors that were shooting touch 'n' goes as we drove on to the base.  Alas, I couldn't deploy the mePhone quick enough to catch the birds in flight.  That said, I finally got to see me a few F-22s and that was a great good thing.  The other area that impressed me was Generals Row... housing occupied by the shooters at Langley, more than a few o' which are right on the water.  Ya hadda be there to appreciate it and I didn't think to shoot pics.  I was too busy oohing and ahhing.

So then it was across the bay and over to Norfolk for to look at some boats.  Here are a few...

USS Jason Dunham, a DDG

USS Truxton, another DDG

The Deity At Hand only knows what this is, but it's BIG.

The Ike
I took a few more pictures at Norfolk... mainly of decrepit-looking infrastructure and seedy looking grounds overgrown with weeds... the objective being a "compare and contrast" sort of post between the immaculately-kept Airplane Patch and the much less so Naval base.  But I won't go there, even though I COULD (and prolly should).

I'll say one thing, though: the Squids win the "Senior Officers' Quarters" sweepstakes.  Admirals Row on Norfolk consists of stately old homes built in 1907 and they are LOVERLY.  Once again, I didn't take pictures even though I damned well should have.

Older AND Wiser

My Buddy Ed In Florida sends along the following...
When I was 14, I hoped that one day I would have a girlfriend with big tits.

When I was 16, I got a girlfriend with big tits, but there was no passion,
so I decided I needed a passionate girl with zest for life.

In college I dated a passionate girl, but she was too emotional.
Everything was an emergency; she was a drama queen, cried all the time and threatened suicide. So I decided I needed a girl with stability.

When I was 25, I found a very stable girl but she was boring. She was totally predictable and never got excited about anything. Life became so dull that I decided that I needed a girl with some excitement.

When I was 28, I found an exciting girl, but I couldn't keep up with her.  She rushed from one thing to another, never settling on anything.  She did mad impetuous things and made me miserable as often as happy.  She was great fun initially and very energetic, but directionless. So I decided to find a girl with some real ambition.

When I turned 30, I found a smart ambitious girl with her feet planted firmly on the ground, so I married her. She was so ambitious that she divorced me and took everything I owned. 

I am older and wiser now, and I am looking for a girl with big tits.
What a coincidence!  I was 30 when I met The Second Mrs. Pennington, but she didn't take everything I owned when we divorced.  Just the stuff that mattered.  So... we know what WE'RE looking for.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ah, Civilization!

We were out and about earlier today and did some touristy things about which I'll prolly post later, mostly having to do with military bases (read as: fighters! and boats!).  The high point o' my day, however, came when Buck mentioned he knew this cool lil pub where we could grab a pint and some lunch.  So we did just that and what follows is a photo essay on that subject.

So, here's the sign on the sidewalk outside the pub:

Heh.  We not only love our enemy, we hold him (her?) quite close.  Our enemies come in varied and different uniforms, to wit:

A cheesy mePhone pic and out o' focus, at that.

The on-tap menu, there were at least 100 other choices in bottles.

We opted for a pint of Left Handed stout, mainly coz of the tag line that reads "As black as your ex-girl friend's wife's heart."  (Yes, we did a minor edit there... why do you ask?)  Here's what it looks like in a glass:

Note the bar top: those are genuine corks under an epoxy layer.  Cool, eh?
That would be my new best friend Crystal, who not only took great good care of us while we were ensconced at the bar but also gave us a couple o' few samples of the other beers on tap.  I would've been happy to spend the rest of the afternoon right there at the bar... so many beers! so little time!... but we had people to do and places to see.  So... one pint and lunch, while we were at it.  Here's what I had:

That would be a sashimi plate of barely-braised tuna in a soy-based sauce with pickled ginger on the side.  Buck had a burger and said it was delicious.

So we left and motored on to our next destination, which is about as close to beer heaven as I've seen in a good ten years.  Witness:

That would be but ONE aisle of four with beers from all over the country and all over the world.  We were in the store for at least a half an hour and left about 50 Yankee Dollars lighter, evenly split between SN1 and myself.  I MIGHT do a "Broadening Our Horizons" post in the next couple o' few, but OTOH I might not.  We shall see.  One more thing: yes, I DID buy a sixer o' that Left-Hand stout.  It's great good stuff.

Finally... a teaser o' things to come (mebbe):


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack: Sunny Afternoon

Save me, save me, save me from this squeeze.
I got a big fat mama trying to break me.
And I love to live so pleasantly,
Live this life of luxury,
Lazing on a sunny afternoon.
In the summertime
In the summertime
In the summertime
How apropos.  We're feelin' a LOT like Mr. Davies & Co today, what with having just returned from a short jaunt down to the pond's edge where we spent a few minutes contemplating the water, the neighborhood flora, and the fauna in and around the pond.  Most relaxing, indeed.

So now we're on the screened porch pecking out this post and enjoying the day's second cigar and first beer.  We are a very Happy Camper.

I took a couple o' few pics on my walk around the yard and feel compelled to share more of my lovely environment.  Without further ado...

The house from the foot o' the back yard

This bench was my vantage point for viewing...

...this.  The pond is stocked and one can watch fish jumping out o' the water... among other things... like ducks, geese, and other waterfowl.
I've been teasing Buck and Erma these last three days... threatening to sell everything I own (Part III) and move into their guest room.  Life's pretty good here.

In Mourning

Heh.  I remember what the last day o' summer felt like... vaguely.  VERY vaguely.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

All the Best Parties End In the Kitchen

It's not like this was the end, but...

It was a group shot.  Left to right: Jeff, one of the guys who works with Buck; SN1; grandson Sean; me; SN2; neighbor Nick.  A good time was had by all... and said good times continue, as we speak.

Saturday: Young Dogs, Old Dogs, and Older Dogs

First, because we're dog people, this:

Dogs most certainly enjoy life.  We should all be that happy.

And then there's this...

See that kid on the left?  He's 47 today.*  That kid on the right... and family... will be on the premises in about an hour or so.  There's gonna be a whole helluva lot of celebrating today!

Happy Birthday, Buck!

* One feels a bit old when one has kids pushin' 50, not to mention the fact that BOTH elder boys could retire from the military if they had a mind to do so.  Aiiieee.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Nice Neighborhood

The view from my bedroom window at the SN1 house:

Hey!  Haven't we seen that lil green car somewhere before?

Here's the smoking lounge, a nice screened-in porch in the grand old southern tradition:

More cheesy mePhone pics*

You can't make it out in the picture, but there's this big-ass fountain in the middle o' the pond which makes VERY pleasing noises while one's enjoying a cigar on the porch.

I might stay here for a while.

Update, a lil bit later.  I forgot the asterisk, which was supposed to say I brought the dSLR to take GOOD pics but I'm just lazy.  The mePhone is close enough for blog work.

The Tart Has Landed

Yesterday afternoon, actually.  Here's what we did:

We broke the trip up into three segments, with the third segment designed to be an easy day.  It should have been easy but it wasn't, mainly coz o' stuff like this:

That's midway through a ten mile (at least) traffic jam due to construction on I-81... wherein one lane of the super-slab was closed for about a mile... and the resulting traffic back-up was over ten miles long.  It took me the better part of an hour to go those ten miles, with a lot o' time spent at a dead stop.  We just switched to XM's classical music channel and sighed.  We kept on listening to soothing music for the remainder of the drive, too.  There was a segment o' about 100 miles on I-64 where traffic was light and we had smooth sailing (read as: 80 mph) through a corridor of incredibly tall and dense trees, so much so that the XM signal faded in and out.  That was a nit because the scenery made up for it, in spades.

So we hit the Richmond area and traffic built up, even in the middle of the day on a Thursday, and never did let up.  The rest of the drive into Yorktown was well below the speed limit with more than our fair share of idiot drivers poking along at 60 mph in what we euphemistically call "the fast lane."  Hah.

But we're here, safe and sound.  And enjoying ourselves, too.  Like this:

In the play room

More cheesy mePhone pics.
The playroom is a work-in-progress but it has ALL the essentials... pool table, big-screen teevee (which was playin' Da Blooze last evening), and beer fridge.  No ashtrays, though, but that's about all that's missing.

We're well.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Just Checkin' In, Part Deux

The above is what we did today.  The below is something of a rant.

We had a hard day but we're nearly better now.  Witness:

That would be YrHmblScrb, ensconced in a sleazy motel room, smoking a Macanudo Gold, and drinking good whiskey... Bulleit Rye... from a freakin' plastic cup.  I don't care about the aesthetics, I'm simply glad to be off the road and dried out.

Once again, very briefly.  We began our day at the much more reasonable hour of 0730 local at Little Rock Airplane Patch and kinda-sorta ended it at 2030L in Wytheville, VA.  I say kinda-sorta coz we're not done yet, in that there WILL be a second cigar and more rye to be had before we call it a night.  It's the in between start and finish that makes it a hard day, Gentle Reader.  We'd planned to call it quits once we hit Bristol, Tennessee... about an eight or nine hour drive from LRAFB... but unbeknown to us it's a NASCAR weekend in Bristol.  Which means those guys that only turn left and all their adoring fans have commandeered every gotdamned hotel room within a 20-mile radius of Bristol and those that MIGHT still be available can be had for a princely sum and an appendage or two.  I said "thanks, but no thanks" and decided to motor on until we were out of NASCAR range.

And then The Deity At Hand, who must be a turn-left fan, intervened and brought down the deluge upon my head for not paying the proper respect to those inbred baccy-chewing Neanderthals.  Or rather she brought down the deluge on The Dowager Tart's head AND mine later on when we were unloading the car.  I got soaked to the very bone.

I MAY have been caught up in harder rain in my life, but I really cannot remember exactly when that might have been.  It was bad, Gentle Reader, SO bad that normally fearless truckers were driving 40 mph with their four-way flashers on.  That's BAD.

So.  We white-knuckled it for about an hour in the downpour and got off I-81 at Wytheville in search of a hotel room at any price.  We lucked out, in that the hotel is reasonable (read as: less than $100.00, much less) and OMG, no kidding, we have a smoking room.  I didn't think such things existed in this PC world of ours, but thank The Deity At Hand (whom I just cast aspersions towards) they do.  You can see that we are taking advantage of our good fortune.

Tomorrow should be an easy day in that I'm only about four to five hours away from our first end-point.  I sure as Hell hope the WX is better.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Just Checkin' In

This was my day:

Google sez that's 715 miles, which is prolly pretty close.  But it took me 12 hours to do the trip, which included two stops of at least an hour apiece to eat... and two refueling stops... so I guess we're good.

Just briefly... we left P-Ville at oh-dark-fifteen...which is to say 0615 hrs (yes, really)... which was actually somewhat bright out, even though the sun hadn't come up yet.  A lil over two hours later we dropped in to see Occasional Readers Tom and Carol in Amarillo (you've met them before - they're wonderful people) where we were treated to wonderful conversation and... get this!... home-made beignets and Cafe du Monde brand coffee and chicory.  I'm not a breakfast guy but I sure did a lot o' damage to those beignets... Thank you, Carol!

So we were on our way after about an hour and the trip was largely unremarkable except for a SWARM of cops beginning about 35 miles west of OKC, lasting all the way through the city and for about 70 miles east of there.  I really thought the bastards had me when I topped a hill doing a little over 80 mph in a 70 mph zone and there sat a state trooper in the median in an SUV.  I backed off (but no brake lights, thank ya very much) and looked in my rear view mirror to see him pulling into traffic.  He came hard but never turned on his lights... he just followed me and the group of cars I was in for ten freaking miles... and that is NO exaggeration.

I swear to The Deity At Hand: I saw more cops today in a little over 100 miles than I've seen in P-Ville for the last three years, and I have a cop that lives one block east of me and another one that lives one block west.  I see those guys EVERY day, so that should tell ya sumthin'.  Those Okie cops were in SUVs, cruisers, unmarked cars, and prolly black helicopters, too.  Bastards.

So... we're holed up in the Air Force Inn at Little Rock Airplane Patch, which is one of the prettiest bases I've ever seen.  I pulled into town at 1930 hrs local, so I got to see a good bit of the base in daylight and it is impressive: immaculately maintained, very leafy and green, with a lot o' birds and other critters (including a raccoon who I saw foraging in the trash can not eight from me as I drank a couple o' beers and had my evening cigar).

The inn facilities are up to the usual USAF standards, to wit:

The sitting room, which hasn't been sat in.

(Cheesy mePhone pics)

All this for only 55 Yankee Dollars.  Such a deal!

More as inter-tubes become available.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack: What We'll Be Doin' Tomorrow

Most of the cats that you meet on the streets speak of true love,
Most of the time they're sittin' and cryin' at home.
One of these days they know they better get goin'
Out of the door and down on the streets all alone.


You're sick of hangin' around and you'd like to travel;
Get tired of travelin' and you want to settle down.
I guess they can't revoke your soul for tryin',
Get out of the door and light out and look all around.

Sometimes the light's all shinin' on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me... What a long, strange trip it's been.
Yes... we'll be on the road tomorrow at oh-dark-thirty, just after the sunrise.  Because this was delivered today:

Finally... it only took one month and two days to get the damned thing.  But it's here and we have it plugged in to charge the batteries, of which I have two.  It's a spiffy lil unit: not too large (note the quarter for size comparison), not too heavy, and it runs on AC and DC (read as: off the Tart's cigarette lighter plug) as well as batteries.  I hope the thing works as advertised.

Of Dragon Ladies and Oxcarts

From the Usual USAF Source...
Declassified CIA Document Released on U-2, Oxcart
George Washington University's National Security Archive last week released a redacted, declassified 1992 CIA document on the history of the U-2 and Oxcart reconnaissance aircraft programs that includes "a significant amount" of never-before-publicized details on them, according to the archive. Among them are: "numerous references" to the Air Force's classified test site at Groom Lake, Nev., with a map of the area; and discussion of British participation in the U-2 program, U-2 operations from India between 1962 and 1967, and US-sponsored Chinese Nationalist U-2 operations. The CIA's release of the redacted version of this document, The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance: The U-2 and OXCART Programs, 1954-1974, came in response to the archive's 2005 Freedom of Information Act request. Some press reports last week made it seem like this document represented the first time that the US government publicly acknowledged the existence of the Groom Lake facility. That is incorrect, as US government recognition goes back at least to the mid-1990s by our count. (National Security Archive webpage on document) (See also Flying High and The Oxcart Story from Air Force Magazine's archives.)
I'm working my way through the document at the web page link (above), beginning with the Oxcart section.  It's fascinating reading, especially about Convair's proposed alternative to the Lockheed design.  I never knew...

Here's the table of contents:
Chapter 1 : Searching for a System
Chapter 2 : Developing the U-2
Chapter 3 : U-2 Operations in the Soviet Bloc and Middle East, 1958-1968
Chapter 4 : The Final Overflights of the Soviet Union, 1959-1960
Chapter 5 : U-2 Operations after May 1960
Chapter 6 : The U-2's Intended Successor: Project OXCART, 1956-1968
Chapter 7 : Conclusion 
Appendices, Bibliography
Those links work.