With Boner and the guys caving to the Bamster's amnesty, then the Bamster surrendering to Cuba there wasn't too much heroic happening around the Capitol this week. That being said, there were a couple of guys that stood up and just said "NO!". These guys:
They made it as painful as possible for Harry Reid to get the latest TRILLION dollar CR passed. A CR the House leadership just handed to them. More importantly was the substance of the Point of Order they raised - namely, that the Bamster exceeded his constitutional authority and the Senate had the responsibility to not fund it. Way to go Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, you win this week's Heroes Of The Week!
This week we don't have much to be proud about in the Nation's Capitol with the Republican surrender in passing the Crapobus bill to continue to fund the government. However, there were a few Republicans that stood up to their leadership and almost tanked it by voting against the 'rule'. Here are those congress critters that are stood in the way of the establishment RINOs that pushed this POS through (H/T Curmudgeonly & Skeptical):
Congressman Amash of Michigan
Congresswoman Bachmann of Minnesota
Congressman Brat of Virgina
Congressman Brooks of Alabama
Congressman Broun of Georgia
Congressman Gohmert of TExas
Congressman Gosar of Arizona
Congressman Huelskamp of Kansas
Congressman Jones of North Carolina
Congressman Jordan of Ohio
Congressman King of Iowa
Congressman Labrador of Idaho
Congressman Massie of Kentucky
Congressman Posey of Florida
Congressman Salmon of Arizona
Congressman Stockman of Texas
Congratulations Republican Congress People! You are the heroes of the week!
I got to thinking about the Obama Amnesty thing. Well more
specifically the unique way that he went about granting a path to citizenship
to millions of illegals when Congress has passed no law allowing such a thing.
Now that the cat is out of the bag, and there seems to be no limit on what a
President can do with a cowed congress at his feet, I got to thinking: what if
the shoe were on the other foot?
I know you are saying “Mike – conservatives aren’t like
that! There is no way a conservative in the White House would behave in such a
lawless manner”. I agree. However, for just a moment, let’s pretend that they
would. Let’s say we had a conservative, someone with a fine conservative
reputation but enough coolness to rival Obama or Clinton. Let’s call him
President Nugent. He would be strong on the second amendment, hard on crime,
and can play a wicked axe. Cool Right?
So what would President Nugent do? Well, to start, he could
just tell the EPA to stop enforcing, well, everything. That would of course
drive the left in the country daft. The producers in the country, no longer
hamstrung by idiotic ‘CO2’ emission standard would take off. The tree huggers
would pop a gasket and demand that their democrat friends impeach President
Nugent. But of course they won’t.
Why not? Well, one of the reasons that The One is considered
untouchable for impeachment is because of who is sitting in line behind him. As
bad as The Bamster is, no one wants to see him replaced by Lunch Bucket Joe. In
the same way, the democrats would never impeach President Nugent because no
one, not even the most rabid democrat, would want to see Vice President
Eastwood take over. It would probably be enough deterrent that when the secret
service had a problem with fence jumpers, Vice President Eastwood parked
himself on the front lawn with his favorite 44 Mag and a large sign that read “Go
Ahead, Make My Day?”. That’s a big difference between old Joe wondering out on
the front porch in a bathrobe with a shotgun.
So what other laws could President Nugent apply
“prosecutorial discretion”? Well, for one thing, being a conservative, I would
guess that he would choose to apply more prosecution in certain sectors rather
than lighten up on them. For example, certain congressmen that are light on
their tax payments would no longer get a slap on their wrist, but instead would
be whisked off to Gitmo to make prayer rugs for needy terrorist. Similarly, the
justice department would naturally be revamped to pursue and prosecute voter
fraud. The list goes on and on.
Fun stuff to think about.. Let me be the first to call for
the Nugent / Eastwood ’16 ticket!
Obama's offer to give body mounted cameras was turned around and instead all congress critters, cabinet level executive branch officials, and of course Obama and VP Biden had to wear cameras 24/7 and stream the content to the internet for all to see?
This week's hero (H/T Weasel Zippers) proved turn about is fair play for those looking for the virgins in paradise that like a good head lopping. Lorenzo Vinciguerra, a Swiss photographer was caught up by some island Islamos as a hostage. When the group holding him got into a tangle with some government troops, the guy took advantage of the confusion and started grappling with the guy watching him. As they struggled for control of the machete, he got a cut on his face, then managed to turn the blade on his captor, sending him to Allah via a neck slice. With that one dispatched, he made good his escape. So, here's to you Lorenzo - our Hero of the Week!
It's been a while, but this seemed like a good time to resurrect the hero of the week post, and a great candidate popped up so here it goes. This hero comes from a story in the post (H/T Instapundit) It seems like a deranged man decided get crazy and start letting bullets fly outside government buildings in Austin. Now I know it's Austin, i.e. Moscow on the Colorado, but it isstill Texas, a fairly idiotic state to start being rude with a gun. Our hero here, an unidentified Austin police officer, while apparently controlling two horses with one hand, draws his weapon with the other hand and dispatches the hapless gunman with a single shot. Here's to you, unidentified Austin police officer, the GAA Hero of the Week Award!
(update 11/30/14) I got to thinking about this and had this thought. If the Texas police officer tasked with holding the horses is capable of such an amazing shot, imagine what Rangers riding the horses could do!
We took advantage of calm winds and favorable tide conditions to take in a paddle over to Farm Creek. This bald eagle was patrolling the entrance to the creek. The video is a little jerky as the wind had picked up and the chop was getting, er, challenging.. cool to see him (her), cooler to get a video of him (her) flying..
I think I first heard that expression from my Sainted Grandmother.. but being a down to earth Texas farmer's wife, perhaps not as she was not given to such flights if fancy. That is, as far as I know, though I do recall some pictures of her in styling 'flapper' type get-ups that would argue something different. According the this it has a interesting taxonomy starting in the 18th century as 'insignificant' to the 1920's meaning 'cool!'.
In any case, this summer for the first time we had a hive in our yard. Genius Daughter went to bee class and setup the thing along with Boyfriend. They administered the hive throughout the Spring and Summer, conscientiously tending to the things that needed to be tended to. It was basically all a mystery to me. In fact I didn't really worry about it after I realized that just walking around in the yard or even running the mower past them would not engender an attack.
Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, the queen, and a replacement queen just couldn't get the job done and the hive could not sustain itself. What you see in the above video is the result of a chaotic hive where many of the female drones have tried to take over the role of queen unsuccessfully, resulting in confusion. If we were earlier in the year, they could have gotten another (better) Russian queen, but given that we are late summer, there was not much to do besides breaking down the hive to store it and start over next year.
It has been a learning experience for all of us, and I have no doubt that next year will be better. I will say that having bees in the yard has resulting in an explosion of all our flowers and the few vegetable plants we have here and there around the yard. I look forward to watching the hive do it's thing next year, and am grateful I live in a county and neighborhood where such things are permitted.
I had quite the adventure this weekend.
As is often the case, I didn't start out intending for it to be an
adventure. I had spent a good part of Saturday morning editing and
‘processing’ the below bike video. Why, because it was there and
it seemed a waste to not use all that wonderful footage. I will admit
that the utube version is rather grainy and un-viewable, but you have
to take my word for it that the original footage is Brilliant! stuff.
Realizing that a rare sunny and mild
Saturday was just about to pass the point where I could squeeze in
something epic, I folded up the laptop, got the dog up and out for a
walk, and contemplated what I could do with the day. I settled on two
options – both hiking adventures. The first was to venture up to
Buzzard Rock, a small rocky crag located above Front Royal. While the
view of the valley there is stupendous, the walk up is, for my
healthier body, not the challenge it once was. The other option that
came to mind was to return to Little North Mountain.
The Little North Mountain challenge is,
I believe, a fanciful product of the Hiking Upward editors. You can
tell it didn’t start out as a real thing by the way the trail is
laid out on the site – all unnaturally straight lines to four
corners… like this:
My wife and I had tried this trail
previously and failed to finish last fall. At that time, we arrived
with 50% power left on the tablet which I was using as a GPS, and started out on the wrong
fire road. This was an understandable mistake as there was a shiny
new fire road constructed just north of the abandoned fire road the
site recommended. After wondering around for a couple of miles, we
finally hit upon the correct abandoned fire road and proceeded on our
way. We fought our way down to just about where the abandoned road
gave out, and then lost our nerve. This turned out to be a judicious
decision as the power available to our only GPS / tablet was also
about to give out. If we had proceeded blindly into the forest, there
was a good chance that we would have become lost. As it was, the
return trip was a little tense when the tablet ran out of power and
shut down half way back. We had to rely on my admittedly rusty paper
map navigation skills to make it back to the jeep. My wife sportingly
referred to that day as a ‘team building’ event, not the more
honest moniker ‘scary hike where we almost got lost’.
Even though we did the right thing on
that hike and turned back, the fact that we didn't complete the
designated circuit continued to bother me. I knew that I had the
strength, skills, and navigational acumen to complete that hike, I
merely had to come up with the will. The trick was to not let my
conscious mind (and my wife) learn that I was planning a rematch
until it was too late for us all to back out. Thus, I had spent part
of the morning looking at other hikes on the Hiking Upward site, but
also refreshing my memory on the directions to Little North Mountain
and verifying that the trail head location was still in my tablet’s
road navigation app. When I started packing for the trip, I loaded up
my backpack with way more power bars than was necessary for a simple
4 mile trek up Buzzard Rock, and placed double the amount of water
bottles required for such a trip in the jeep. When we started out, I
even insisted that my tablet be plugged in and charging – something
that was not required for getting to the Buzzard Rock trail head,
which I could drive to blindfolded.
So the conversation traveling on I-66
heading toward Front Royal went like this:
Me: “So I've been thinking, Buzzard
Rock seems a little short for an epic Saturday hike.”Wife: <idly looking out the window>Me: “It’s only 4 miles. I think we
need more of a challenge.”Wife: <mildly sensing something is
coming, looks at me and starts paying attention>Me: “You know what would be great? We
should go back to Little North Mountain and try that hike again” Wife: <skeptically> “Isn’t
that the place where we almost got lost?”Me: <warming up to the subject>
“Yes – but we know the way better now! We are stronger now. We
have the GPS charging, plenty of food and water; and are starting out
earlier in the day.”Wife: <Worried look, grimace>
So we passed the exit to Front Royal,
and crossed to I-81, taking the second Strasburg exit. Well, truth be
told, since I hadn’t put the destination in the tablet to navigate
to the trailhead, we took the first exit and pulled off the road.
While I totally could have tapped and swiped to select the navigation
program and enter the new destination with minimal swerving, my wife
insisted that I do this while safely pulled over. Where’s the
challenge in that? So after setting up the navigation app, we got
back on I-81 and took the second exit. Following the all-knowing GPS,
we made our way into the George Washington Forest foothills, past the
quaintly name town of ‘Star Tannery”.
I had to look up where it
got that unusual name. Surprisingly enough the name is quite
practical. According to the Facebook page the unincorporated town was named after the tannery that operated
there in the 1700s. I guess it’s just odd to the modern American
mind to have a town name made up of two proper English nouns. Sure
“Las Vegas”, “Los Angeles” can get away with a two word town
name, but they are Spanish derived. Finding an east coast town in
rural Virginia with a two word English name? Too weird! Since its 15
miles from the ‘By God West Virginia’ border, one starts to think
about scenes from ‘Deliverance’ and banjos. Oddly enough, since
the trail head was located off the modern sounding ‘Zapp Road’,
that image was slightly muted. I know, the road name probably came
from some family named ‘Zapp’, but that name made everything ok
for a domesticated Texas born suburbanite. It’s funny how the mind
Arriving at the trail head, we prepared
ourselves for the journey. Backpacks loaded with foodstuffs and
water, tablet charged at 100% with trail navigation program tracking,
we were off. The abandoned fire road was easy to follow at first. The
roadbed was clear, and distinct. As we progress, the road bed became
harder and harder to find due to the downed trees and tall grass.
Eventually it mostly disappeared altogether, with only the occasional
50 year old cut log to mark its presence. I can’t say at what point
I lost it, but I can say it was definitively gone at some point. The
valley we were following began to branch and branch again. What gave
me hope (falsely) was that the in scramble through the now
unremarkable woods, the terrain began to incline upward. This was
both good and bad. It was good as I knew that the Tuscarora Trail
that we were seeking ran across the saddle of the valley we were
ascending. It was bad because as we ascended, the brush got heavier
and all evidence of the faint stream bed I was following disappeared.
With it gone, I was forced to either keep my tablet navigation
display powered and draining, or rely on navigational skills learned
too long ago. This consisted of spotting a tree a distance away along
the desired bearing and walking toward it. After all, the trail we
were shooting for couldn't be that far away, could it?
In a word, yes, it could be. I began to
get frustrated. I knew I must be getting close, but where was it? I
sat down and looked at the tablet satellite view. There was a faint
line that looked like a trail in front of me on the imagery. Rather
than load the GPS track from hiking upward and dropping a way-point to
shoot for on the trail intersection from that, I opted to just drop a
way-point on the visible trail and hook and follow the GPS to that.
The GPS said this way-point was ½ a mile away. “Good” I thought,
I can do that, even a ½ mile is not a problem. Of course while
fighting our way through stickers, mountain laurel, and the
occasional boggy seep, it was a different story. At this point that
my wife, sensing my uncertainty became, er, concerned. She asked what
I would rely on if something happen to the tablet. Well, in my
efforts to fool my conscious mind into taking on the challenge, I had
somehow forgotten to pack along my trusty old ETrek GPS. I had to
acknowledge that my backup solution should we have to turn back and
not rely on the tablet would be my eyeballs and brain. She was, not
satisfied with that answer.
We proceeded with me getting more
and more frustrated that the trail was not appearing and we were
apparently wig-wagging our way toward our mythical path, closing the
distance way too slowly. It also didn't help that we began to spot
bear scat. One pile was so big and (apparently) so recent, that we
were sure we not far from a huge predator. I continued to use my tree
to tree navigation. We had agreed that if we hadn't come upon the
trail by 430pm, we would make a decision then about turning back and
attempting the sketchy effort to retrace our path back through the
woods to the stream and the non-existent fire road. At about 420pm, I
stumbled over yet another sticker bush and found myself in a
clearing. It took a second for it to sink in, but looking to my left
I could see a real, honest to goodness discernible trail, and looking
to my right it extended there too.
My wife, still in the woods behind
me but sensing my now immobility, probably fearing I was face to face
with a menacing mommy bear, asked “Is something wrong?” My reply:
“Not a damn thing!” This was followed by her emerging from the
brush and both of us sitting in the middle of the trail in relief. As
we ate our sandwiches, my wife pointed out the faint blue blaze on a
nearby tree, confirming we had at last reached our targeted trail.
The way-point I had hooked earlier was actually a road at the base of
the mountain still almost 0.4 miles away. Close enough!
The walk down the trail for the return
circuit was mostly uneventful. The trail was badly in need of
maintenance with tall grass sometimes obscuring the path. The faint
blue blazed trees and rocks continued to guide us on our way. At one
point I sensed something moving in the bushes ahead of us, but by the
time we arrived at the location, whatever it was had disappeared. We
continued to find bear scat; dark piles with all manner of partially
digested berries, but no bear ever actually appeared. We did get a
start when we heard something cackling and moving in the undergrowth,
and then, as we backed up a family of pheasants exploded into the air
one by one.
Would I do this again? Well probably,
though with a backup GPS, a radio for emergencies, and perhaps more
preparation for being stuck in the woods overnight. Coming back to
Little North Mountain would not be as intimidating a third time as we
know what to expect, and how long it will take us to get to the trail
from where the ancient fire road completely disappears. The
experience itself was liberating though. I learned that I can rely of
my navigational and woodsman skills. Did I make some mistakes? Sure,
but we kept calm, pushed through, and did what we needed to do to
make the best of my short comings. Most importantly, we walked on the
wild side and pushed just a little past our comfort zones. That’s
what made the trip epic.. and a real adventure. Oh, here’s a screen
shot of our actual path:
I had resolved to stay out of the
Redskins controversy assuming that at some point it would die on its
own accord, but alas, it hasn't so I will. The latest thing I heard
this morning was an referee decided that he was ‘uncomfortable’
officiating at a Redskins game, so the league allowed he to avoid the
games. Allow me to postulate a different theory. As any reader of
this blog is aware, my feeling is that Dan Snyder and his ilk have
run the team into the ground ever since little John let it get out of
the Cooke family hands. What if this official hated the idea of
officiating a game of sloppy play by a bunch of overpaid divas? Given
an out, I don’t blame him for avoiding that mess.
That being said, I only have one thing
to say to the poor PC brainiacs that consider the term ‘Redskins’
to be offensive
“I am a jelly doughnut”
For those thinking
of a certain yellow headed cartoon character right now let me
explain. In 1968, JFK took a little trip to Germany and gave a speech
in support of the West German city of Berlin which was standing
against the abyss of the communist expansion. In that speech, he said
“Ich bin ein Berliner”, which means “I am a Berliner”. Not
long after that the ‘talking heads’ began to dispute exactly what
the translation of that was. The use of the ‘ein’ somehow
translated that statement to mean that he was calling himself a
‘pancake’ or jelly doughnut. Of course they were wrong, the use
of ‘ein’ in that case was entirely proper and meant exactly what
it was supposed to say. This of course did not stop the pseudo
intellectuals from laughing at him behind their hands.
A similar misinterpretation exists for
the team name ‘redskins’. So where did the name come from? Well
the team was originally called the Boston Braves. When the team moved
to begin to play at Fenway Park, the owner changed the name to the
Boston Redskins, then in 1939 became the Washington Redskins when the
team was sold and moved to Washington D.C. Various polls have found that
the name, which can be offensive when used in other context, is
viewed favorably by most Indians when used in the context of the team
name. You see, much like saying ‘jelly doughnut’ in German,
context matters. Only simple minded pseudo-intellectuals seemed
confused by this.
On the other hand, consider the context of this picture:
taken a scant few hours after an American journalist is beheaded by some Mideast savages.. I think someone is a jelly doughnut here, and it's not a yellow headed cartoon character or a former president.
So yesterday I was out for a little exercise paddle on the Occuquan to go from my normal launch point at Lakeridge Marina to Fountainhead Marina with my wife. At the first bend, I spotted something white in the water ahead of me. Thinking that somebody had thrown some trash overboard I paddled toward it, intending to do my good citizen thing and pick it up for later disposal once I got to Fountainhead. As I got nearer, I realized that it was a young catfish lying stunned on the water. I though, "Ewww! I'm not putting that thing in my kayak!" and we paddled past it. I then looked up and saw a bald eagle directly ahead of us and circling back. Given it's behavior, I was pretty sure it was on its way to pickup the fish I had just passed. I grabbed my camera out of my vest and started filming.. this is what I got:
My guess is that it had dropped it just before we appeared on the scene, and was on it's way back to get it when we paddled up. While I have seen various birds fishing on the Occuquan, this is the first time I have been this close to a bald eagle actively fishing, or had a chance to catch it on video.
I saw this morning on Drudge that the TSA was now letting illegals fly with only a "Notice to Appear" as an ID. Then occurred to me... Our Fearless leader also probably entered the US as an 'unoccupied minor'. So I took some time this morning making up a 'Notice To Appear' for BO in case he ever needs to fly commercial or something...
I got to thinking about destruction.
Not the kind of destruction that happens when you’re playing that
maddening game with the sticks that are all neatly piled, then you go
and start pulling them out, the winner being the last lucky fool with
a steady hand to wedge out a stick without the whole damn thing
crashing down and making you look stupid for making such a mess.
Nope, that’s not it. Similarly, I am not talking about the
destruction that has become ubiquitous in today’s society – the
shredder. It seems there are people, whose sole miserable existence
is to preen through bags of trash, who hope to come up with a scrap
of paper whereby some miracle a smidgen of enough personal
information is available to virtually rob those people of identity.
That people even have enough paper that ends in the trash in a mostly
electronic society is a bit shocking. That those shredder bins are
mostly full in the households they exist in is something of a modern
I will admit, in
the bad old days of my misspent youth in the Army one of the neatest
things we were tasked to do was dumpster diving. The concept was to
evaluate a particular unit’s operational security by extracting the
trash from their unit dumpster, then going through it to see how much
unit data could be assembled. Now the smart unit were on to when we
did these ‘inspections’ and would find the nastiest things
imaginable to throw in those garbage bins. Barf bags, long dead
animals, condoms, you name it, they would throw them in there. The
less sharp units, the ones with no grizzled old first sergeants and
lieutenants with shiny new butter bars, those would usually yield
bonanzas which when properly assembled would yield plans for the unit
for the next fiscal year, not to mention upcoming exercises. More
often than not, to avoid embarrassing the units, our grizzled old
first sergeant would pull aside the noncoms from those units and
‘have a word’. No reports, no nonsense, problem fixed. The way it
is done in Armies all over the world.
In any case my mind is on bigger
destruction. I was walking in the woods the other day and came on
(Click to enlarge)
I realize it’s hard to get the scale
of the thing there, but what you are seeing is two huge trees that a
wind or tornado came through and, on the vagaries of fate, decided to
toss around and make no more. When looking at this the very first
thing that came to my mind was this. You know that old philosophy
question, the one that goes “If a tree falls in the woods, does it
make a sound?” I’m thinking that the guy who though that one up,
was not thinking of these trees. There is just no way you can look at
this awesome destruction and think “Did that make any sound?” No,
the question genuinely doesn't come up does it? More than likely
you are thinking “Man, I bet that made a mighty crash! It would
have scared the pee out of me to be here when that happened!”
I think we tend to be struck by scenes
of destruction mostly because they are evidence of things we just
could not imagine doing ourselves. But there is violence men do that dwarfs all that due to it's sheer godlessness:
It’s kind of funny how a day can
start out bad. Take this morning for example. First off, you have to
understand that I commute in at a ridiculously early hour. I do this
to avoid the crazy rush hour traffic that personifies the hubris of
the Washington DC area. For those of you that do not live in the
area, imagine thousands of people all attempting to arrive at the
same time at one of the populous work centers that make up the DC
area. Not so different from most metropolitan areas right? Now throw
in a sizeable percentage of those commuters with over inflated egos
and a sense of entitlement enjoined by officious titles and the money
that flows this close to the seat of control of the (still) most
powerful country in the world. Now you see my problem.
So this morning I arose late. This was
planned to some degree. I say ‘planned’ when I really mean that I
realized too late last night that if I was to get my required minimum
hours sleep, I would have to move my alarm clock forward, pushing my
whole day back this morning. This, in turn, would cause me to
possibly miss my scheduled outside exercise entertainment this
afternoon, throwing off my weekend plans, and RUINING MY WHOLE
SUMMER! OMG! Thus, it was imperative that I move out this morning
with the greatest acuity.
After groggily silencing my alarm,
tripping over the dog, assembling my snacks, and gathering my wits, I
still managed to exit the house roughly on schedule to hit office
door at the regular time. As I started up the jeep, I sensed that
something was amiss that would cause me to be late. Call it a dark
cloud, an evil presence, or a sinister omen: something was nagging
me. As I hit the main road out of Camelot, I centered on what it was:
I needed to stop for gas! Arrrgh!
This was not the disaster that it
seemed. I was planning on stopping at the Borg (Seven of Eleven) Shop
anyway to pick up some coffee. My day was still manageable. Arriving
at the Borg Shop, I went through the usual mechanization at the pump
to get it to deliver the magic go juice. Push a button (or not),
insert card, wait for screen to flash unintelligible gibberish, then
remind me to get coffee, more gibberish, enter my pin, more gibberish
then an ad for doughnuts, finally down to business – lift handle,
select grade of magic juice. Needless to say, this particular pump
has no handle to lift, just the phallic (and frankly somewhat
intimidating) nozzle. I’m sure nine out of ten psychologists could
milk something about me seeing a gas nozzle as an intimidating
phallic symbol, but let’s move one, shall we?
The dance at the pump continues. The
gas cap is removed and placed where I will see it in my rear view
mirror in case I should forget to replace it after fueling. This
could entirely happen should I be fleeing masked desperados who chose
this Borg Shop at this particular moment in time to stage a shootout
with their equally well armed rivals. In that case, I would
thoughtfully return the gas nozzle to it proper place, leap into the
driver’s seat, start and gun the engine in preparation for leaving
the whizzing bullets behind. I would glance in the rear view mirror
noting the gas cap in it woeful perch on the spare tire. Slapping my
head I would be able to return to the back of the jeep and place the
gas cap where it belongs – whizzing bullets be damned! The only
thing worse than having to (re)face an early morning fusillade is
having to sheepishly tell the auto parts guy that you forgot to put
your gas cap on and drove off without it, then pleading “please,
please, may have another if I promise not to be so stupid again?”
He will of course respond with a wise and forgiving nod, almost
exactly like a priest in a confessional does after hearing, once
again, that your sorry you took the Lord’s name in vain while
trying to drive to your very important job; knowing that your promise
to not do it again is so much bunk, but bunk that you mean right here
and now so it counts. But I digress…
After inserting the nozzle carefully to
avoid sparks that would surely engulf me, the jeep, nigh the whole
neighborhood in a conflagration of flames I squeeze the handle. This
is the ultimate decision point for the veritable gas pump. Will it
find me worthy of the magic go juice, or will it emit a sinister
laugh, empty my bank account anyway, and leave me penniless, begging
strangers for a crust of bread for me and my starving children? After
a moment, the pump deems me worthy, deciding (today) not to ruin my
life, and the magic go juice begins to flow. I am elated!
Now I am a pump-stander. There are
people that are standers and those that are not. I have no truck with
the non-standers. The instructions on the pump clearly state that it
is your sacred duty to stand by the pump in case gremlins cause the
nozzle to buck out, spewing gas all over the concrete, running across
the pavement to where a bloodied Bruce Willis waits with a lit
lighter, ready to cry “Yippi-Ki-Ya Mother F’er”, dropping the
lighter and engulfing you, your vehicle, the Borg Shop, and
neighborhood in a conflagration of flames. It’s just not worth it!
What is so important in your car that you can’t stand drooling by
the pump for the five minutes or so it takes? Stand there using your
fancy smart phone – it’s ok. I saw where Mythbusters proved that
a cell phone can’t cause the fumes from a gas pump to ignite. Don’t
even get me started on the people that smoke or won’t turn off
their engines. They are just evil, probably from eating too much
watermelon (the devil’s fruit!).
Once the pumping is done, I move my
jeep to parking and enter the Borg Shop to get my coffee. As I shut
my door, I hear a disquieting extra ‘clink’. This sound continues
to disturb be throughout the coffee prep and pay process. Upon
returning to the jeep I go to open the door and nothing happens.
Crap! For about a month the door has only been able to be opened from
the outside, and now that is not working. I go in from the passenger
side, trying (unsuccessfully) to not look like the dweeb I am. I make
the decision to return home to jimmy the door open and make some
field expedient repairs rather than deal with the humiliation of
strange people be-smirking my misfortune there in the Borg Shop
parking lot. Also I am pretty sure the curses I will be required to
use might enjoin some gas pump conflagration danger. At home only the
dog is up to look out the window and bark-laugh at me (which he
With all this returning home, cursing
the door, cursing my scraped fingers covered in old door grease, then
sighing with relief when I get the door to open (and close, then open
and close several more times to ensure it’s working), I and
hopelessly late for work, and it’s not even 4:45am! So, that was my
bad morning. I know, it seems trivial, and it is. I am old and wise
enough to know that even my worst morning is heaven when compared to
what a great many people are facing, especially those in harm’s way
serving our country. Those guys and girls are the ones that can have
truly bad mornings. Or someone in a nursing home or hospital, unable
to get out and enjoy all this glorious summer has to offer. No, I try
to be grateful for my bad mornings. Some days I even succeed at it.
I have been pretty devoid on political commentary here of late. It's not that I am not angered and dismayed by the capitulation that the present administration has displayed toward the obligation in blood and effort that my fellow soldiers have made to ensure peace in the world. I am as outraged over it as the rest of you. No, the simple fact is there is not a damn thing I can do about it. With the current administration having the Senate and the White House firmly in hand, the media kowtowed, and the Supreme Court missing in action, there is just not much a common citizen can do.
When faced with this reality, I am forced to admit that the commentary on it's shenanigans here will broker no difference at all. There will come a time to engage, and I fully intend to do that. Until then, I am going to try to side step the drama, and, as an old Polish proverb says, note "Not my monkeys, not my circus". That will of course not preclude me from engaging in entertaining (for me) satire as the muse hits me. With the current state of affairs, the whimsical muse is mostly on a train to Birmingham, drinking scotch and and muttering to himself. Not someone anyone really wants to see...
As a careful reader of this blog might
surmise, I changed jobs a few months back. I went from “Tiny
Company Overly Dependent On One Contract” to “Colossal Government
Contractor”. The whys and mechanics of that move are the subject
for another blog entry which, given enough time and wherewithal I
might write. On to the important focus of today’s epic tome, The
The transition has been an enlightening
experience. On one hand, the anonymity of being another mere cubicle
dweller in this vast enterprise has its advantages. I rarely see my
boss and my work is mostly misunderstood by my peers, so there is
little chance for conflict. In fact, I suspect that I can go days
without having to speak to anyone directly. That makes for a very low
pressure work environment.
That being said, there are certainly
disadvantages to my new haunts. Let me set the stage for my latest
encounter. First, since I labor in relatively anonymity, I can
determine my own hours. Being a guy that actually enjoys taking full
advantage of a lovely (and sometimes not so lovely) day, I have
chosen to work very early hours, leaving my afternoons free for
outdoor fun. What goes hand in hand with that kind of lifestyle is
eating some disgustingly healthy (but tasty) food. I of course have
documented my paleo obsession elsewhere on this blog, so I will leave
it up to you to explore the tags and find out more about that.
Suffice it to say I had (as I try to do
most days) brought my lunch. I know what you are thinking. “But
Mike, since you work for a Colossal Government Contractor surely they
have a cafeteria where you can buy a healthy meal?” I must admit
that they do, and they have a lovely salad bar where I can assemble a
very paleo friendly salad. The down side of that is Colossal
Government Contractor has done the smart thing and contracted out
their cafeteria to Small Company Leeching Off Of Colossal Government
Contractor. This was a very good deal for Colossal Government
Contractor and Small Company Leeching Off Of Colossal Government
Contractor. The fact that a reasonable salad, self-assembled,
containing perhaps two dollars of rough ingredients (if that) cost a
mere $9 dollars makes it a win-win for all concerned… as long as
you’re not the one paying for it.
So yes, I packed my lunch. What was for
lunch today? Here’s the list..
First we have Asian Chopped Salad. The
whole chopped salad thing is one I am trying to decide if I like. I
have had the Southwest Chopped Salad, and I like the crunch, even
though the size of the green stuff in the salad is more reminiscent
of coleslaw than a real salad. In fact, I think most of the stuff in
the salad is cabbage, giving the ‘chopped salad’ a close kinship
to coleslaw, but significantly different from what I, as a
southerner, recognize as such.
Let me explain. Back in the days of my
misspent youth I worked in a restaurant that specialized in fried
fish. I say specialize as if there were no other restaurants in the
mid-south that made fried fish dinners. To the contrary, I would
wager at the time there were not any restaurants in the tri-state
area that served unfried fish, sushi not yet being a thing in the
south at that time. The coleslaw there was made in the southern way.
What did that mean? We threw cabbage and carrots into a big chopping
mixer, and then poured in salad dressing and two heaping cans of
sugar. In the south, man does not live by fried stuff and sweet tea
alone. It’s amazing the whole southern US did not tip over with the
massively obese people this kind of food produced. It’s probably
because the massively obese people of the north eating their fried
cod and pizza provided balanced. Thank God we all eat better now or
the US would be facing a scary heath care crisis. What? Oh… never
Next I had my snacks. I eat pretty much
all day, so it is important that I am oversupplied with snacks. These
consist mostly of fruits of various types. I had apples left in my
desk from yesterday, so today’s haul consisted only of a small bag
of strawberries and a smallish armored plastic container of rough cut
pineapple. I note armored as there is really no other way to
describe it. It looks deceptively simple to open. There is a plastic
strip running along the top edge, with tiny words I can only assume
say “tear me off to eat the delicious stuff inside. It’s so easy
any idiot could do it. What are you, an idiot?” I imagine it says
this as I do not have a scanning electron microscope to verify what
is written there. Somewhere in China there is probably a sweatshop of
tiny people with tiny little magic plastic writing pens scripting
curses to fat Americans in a language they don’t understand. This
is my limited worldview.
The clever manufacturer has also
applied a strip of ‘never-open’ glue to the rim of the lid of the
container. This is in case the pineapple contents decided to rebel
against their incarceration, remove the plastic strip using their
Jedi pineapple mind powers, and burst forth on the world as berserk
blood hungry chucks of pineapple goodness. The alternative to
breaching the armored top is to pull out my wicked pocket knife and
start hacking away. I have found that when I do this in the break
room the sight of a stabbing wicked pocket knife seems to make my
coworkers nervous. It probably doesn’t help that I am grunting
(screaming really) “Die you bastard pineapple!” under my breath
(at the top of my lungs). Thus, I confine my armored pineapple
container hacking to the relative privacy of my cubicle. While the
container ensure the pineapple can’t escape, is does nothing to
ensure that the fruit inside will not quickly rot if left at room
temperature. For it and my fancy chopped salad, refrigeration is
You may recall that I noted at the top
of this post that I work flex hours, arriving at my cubicle before
the crack of dawn. At that hour, my entire floor is like a scene from
a video game where everyone has turned into Nazi zombies and the vast
caverns of hauntingly empty offices are inhabited by gibbering brain
matter eating horrors. You can literally hear the stainless steel
rats not moving. Being a logical person, you would assume that since
I am literally the first (living) person on the floor in the morning
I would have a completely empty fridge at my disposal. After all,
these fridges are not for families, but for solitary workers who
bring their lunch, consume it at the appropriate time, and then no
longer require refrigerant services. Also consider that due to the
size of my cubicle wonderland, there are two very large fridges in
our break room. You would of course be wrong. Here’s what I found:
I can only assume that the containers
and bags there have left over brain matter from the gibbering Nazi
zombies. It is amazingly precognizant of them to store their goods in
this matter. In the future, I believe I will have to be on guard and
have my wicked pocket knife at the ready when I enter their domain.
At least as long as I continue to have an edible brain.
Here goes another nonsensical post about nothing. It's therefore probably best that you don't read this at all. That being said, onward!
I have somewhat settled into my routine with the new job. I enjoy the flexible hours where I can clear the office by 1pm and be up in the mountains hiking or out on the lake in the kayak by 2:30. It is an idyllic existence. Whether it ultimately is a worthwhile one remains to be seen. I suspect, given my history, I will quickly tire of routine.
My thoughts have turned to the past and friends lost. Of course in this day and age, friends are rarely just lost. Google and the rest of social media ensures that past friends and acquaintances can almost never be just gone. My friend queue on Facebook is ample evidence of that. And yet, somehow they do.
I am reminded of friend I grew up with. Billy had everything I didn't. A single child, he had a room to himself and parents that indulged him with most of the cool things I knew my parents never could. He was the first (and only) kid in the neighborhood to get a trampoline. His dad helped him build a hang glider that he jumped off his shed with (and subsequently broke his arm). In high school he even played backup in the one decent garage country band that my high school produced.
However, I lost contact with him when I left home to start my adult life. As unimaginable as it might be for kids today, that actually happened back in the 80s. It was probably the mid 90s before life slowed to the point that I thought of looking him up. What I found was both sad and inspiring. Billy had juvenile diabetes as long as I had had known him. While the ravages of that disease spared him through high school, it didn't hold up much past that. When I finally did 'find' him again, he was blind and had trouble getting around. On the plus side he had married and had what seemed to be a wonderful wife and faith. The disease took him a few years back, and, at the time, his only reflection of existence on the internet was a faint echo from Google. Now, with the sheer weight of data flooding the cyber world since his death, even that echo is mostly gone, survived only as a short obituary hiding behind a paywall of the local newspaper. What idiot thought is it a good idea to put obituaries behind a paywall? Real classy Commercial Appeal).
This post as usual has wondered well away from what I originally intended, but that's ok. I think the point is the same. Perhaps my writings here will leave some mark (hopefully not an ugly brown stain), that I was here and had some thoughts worth musing over. Oh, and the title and song above? Better times my friend, better times that we will never see again - unless we actually talk to one another.
To paraphrase what a great person said about great things, With a new job comes new responsibilities. No, that's not quite right. A little research reveals that the original quote, "with great power comes great responsibilities", while made famous by spiderman, probably originated with Voltaire. I know my place. I am no where near that level; spiderman or Voltaire.
I have just transitioned from peering into screen in a cubicle buried someone in a bunker in an unnammed location near the beltway, muttering "that program shouldn't be doing that", to sitting at home, looking at openings on Monster, thinking, "I should be doing that", to sitting in a cubicle, staring at a guy (at least I think it's a guy) climbing one of the cranes hovering over the big hole next door that will eventually will be an impressive office tower, thinkingalternatively "I could do that" or, depending on the weather, "thank God I don't have to do that".
Of course, despite their nonchalance while pirouetting tons of metal at great heights, those guys don't take chances. This was brought home to me yesterday. I was sitting at Yoda's Ye Ode Auto Repair Shop waiting for yet another doodad on the jeep to be replaced, broken, or fixed, and this kind of scruffy guy walks in. What got my attention was, under his ball cap, I could see that he had dreadlocks. This was unusual, since you rarely see 'dreds on a white guy, especially since in all other respects and in certain snobby circles he would be called redneck.
That's a funny word, "redneck". Like most words, its offensiveness depends on context. Imagine you are a certain older lady of high breeding, at the club, where Charles has just brought you a carafe of Earl Grey and a tray of the inevitable cucumber sandwiches, which, like sushi, simply everyone pretends to enjoy. In secret you loath them, to the point of periodically excusing yourself so you can visit the facilities and purge yourself of them. You do this not because you have a problem, like that poor Mrs Underwoody in the next stall, bless her heart. She hocks up her guts every 5 minutes trying to remain svelte for her handsome yet hardworking husband who is obviously carrying on with that tramp who parks cars at the Perkin's droll Wednesday night affairs. You are therefore sitting there on this wonderous spring day, sipping tea discreetly spiked with a shot of Absolut you carry in a very ladylike flask. You see it helps burn away the taste of cucumber sandwiches and vomit. You spy a ball cap wearing cad drive up in a Mercedes (how gauche - the car, being a particularly offensive shade of chartreuse), and remark to the other hens gathered around you, "my, look at that redneck", causing a titter of giggles. That's just racist!
But Yoda's Ye Ode Auto Repair Shop is none of that, amd the guy is unremarkable, well, except for the dreadlocks. When asked if he was off today, he casually noted that he was a steel worker and they won't risk going up there in the rain. Yup, the last place you want you be if your a steel worker is on the steel in the middle of a rain / thunderstorm.
Of couse, my responsibilities while working for the new company come rather slowly. Not that I am complaining. The initial slower pace gives me a chance to learn and adapt. But, here in paradise I do have to wonder if I have been ushered into a gilded cage.
It occurred to me that when my old dog stands at the window and barks people walking down the street or the cats from next door it's the equivalent of a 80 year old man standing on the porch yelling "You kids get off my lawn!"
It's 'Pay Your Taxes' week so of course the Hero of The Week goes out the the few American Taxpayers that still Do the Right Thingand try their very best to get their taxes in on time and file as honestly as possible. Yeah, many of our elected officials don't, and a great many people will get away with lying and cheating, but the great majority of us will file our taxes the way we live our lives, as honestly as we can, regardless of the financial cost. So here's to you American Taxpayer - you are the Hero of the Week for 04/13/14.
(Because we all are childlike when it comes to Christmas)
So I took a little trip to hell Thursday. I knew it was going to be hell. Hell, I had been putting it off for over a year. Every time I drove past the place, i'd see the parking lot was full and think "Oh Well, Alas! The time for this is not now." With new obligations coming I could no longer put it off. Like every good citizen I had a responsibility to do my duty, enter Hell, and get a replacement social security card.
I can not provide you any pictures of the inside of Hell since there are some rather prominent warnings at the entrance about no photography being permitted in the premise according to Title Umpty-Squat of the Uniform Code of Pointy Headed Bureaucrats. I can only imagine the disappoint of the local arts majors when they discovered that they could not shoot their next "Lavoro Nudo d'arte" in those luxurious environs. Be that as it may, there is nothing to keep me from showing you an aerial picture snapped from Google Earth of my local Hell Office:
My Local Hell Office - Google Maps
Note the size of the building. There is obviously room for lots of Minions of Hell to work there. This is especially true because if you look at the red circle that I have drawn, that is the public area of Hell (half of which is the entrance foyer) where the unwashed hordes of citizens may wait for an audience with a Minion. Since times are hard, there were apparently only about 4 Minions on duty. I was informed by the Rent a Cop for Hell that this was normal. What that meant was that getting into Hell was immediately preceded by an hour long wait standing in line in the un-airconditioned foyer to Hell with the unwashed citizenry. If Harry Reid thought tourist were smelly, he should spend some time in Hell's foyer with the SSA supplicants. Note that I really don't blame the Minions. Due to the cozy nature of Hell's Waiting Room, the minions told us that they had to limit to number of supplicants in order to not run afoul of the Fire Marshal restrictions. I know - funny... what if there were a fire in Hell? That was appropriate, as they would be sure to be caught with a Fire House literally right next door. Here's a map for some perspective:
So once I reached the front of the line, either by waiting for the old people with canes to keel over, or for the Minions to actually administer an initial beating, I was summoned to approach the Screening Minion. I groveled appropriately and presented my pre-filled out form. My form must have been good, since, after looking over my form, the Minion handed be a oracle stone in the form of a paper slip. I noted a large sign indicating that:
DO NOT GIVE YOUR PAPER SLIP TO ANYONE ELSE AS IT IS NOW AND FOREVER ASSOCIATED WITH YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER AND THEY WILL HAVE THE RIGHT TO EAT YOUR FIRST BORN CHILDREN
Which in retrospect might be a great deal if you have a real cad for a first born child. Since my first born is rather intelligent I immediately surveyed the area for child eating thieves. Not seeing any I joined all the other healthy folks standing around waiting for some old person's incontinence to kick in, forcing them to give up their seats and head for the bathrooms; of which there was only one. I did note this was Hell, right?
So I know you are wondering what is the seating arrangement in Hell's Waiting Room? Well wonder no more. There are a few rows of the most uncomfortable plastic chairs imaginable, facing a large welfare queen sized flat screen TV, with framed pictures of these scary guys off to the right:
I think the flat screen was flashing some kind of hypnotic message about either Affordable Health Care or Global Warming. I can't remember which beyond having strange urges to buy health insurance for my non-existent Chevy Volt hours after my visit to Hell.
Anyway, I watched with much amusement a lady with a Greek passport fill out her forms, then help a guy next to her who spoke broken English and claimed to be a Nigerian Prince. Did you know non-citizens can get social security numbers of their very own? Me neither. I can't imagine why they would want to, but I am told I have a very limited imagination.
Then the lady with 20 kids arrived and really livened up the place adding ear drum splitting crying babies to the general hubbub of old people yelling at Minions about their social security checks disappearing into darkest recesses of Africa.
Finally it was my turn to see the Minion. Here's how it went:
<Minion>: "So your here to get a replace card"
<Minion>:"Form and driver's license"
<Me>: "Here" (handing them over)
<Minion>:<click><glance at DL><click, click>
<Minion>:"We'll mail it to you - Next"
3.5 hours waiting, 30 seconds to transact the business I came to do! Not bad for a visit to Hell. I can't wait to renew my diver's license!
Not just any ship - the Queen Mary 2! So my very first though was why the life vest? Can the captain of the ship not swim? Is that a desirable quality for a ship captain? After all, if he knows he will be going down with his ship, then he will be more careful, right? It seems a little weak to me, that's all.
Another week of Americans being Americans, so the hero of the week was pretty easy to pick. In case you missed it, there has been a little fracas out in Nevada that didn't involve Elvis Impersonators or the Vegas Strip. Contrary to what some major media outlets may imply about the story, it's not just about the Feds moving some cattle around:
had 600,000 acres of public land that his family had run cattle on for over a century reclassified by the BLM. It turns out that a turtle that may live on that land was declared an endangered species. The Feds reclassified the land and charged outrageous fees to discourage ranchers from running cattle there. In the meantime, they ran out of money for a conservation center they had set up and 'euthanized' the hundreds of turtles that lived there. Mr. Bundy didn't pay, and the Feds swooped in. Now the Bundy's are standing up to the thug tactics and in response the Feds are tasing and sicking dogs on them and roughing up old ladies.
So congratulations Cliven Bundy and your whole family, you have won the GAA Hero of the Week Award!
Note: There is more to this story. Some reports indicate it may have to do with either oil and gas leases or Chinese solar farm development. Either way, what is happening down there matters, and is worth your time to try to be informed about it.
UPDATE 4/13/14: Drudge and ABC are reporting that Bundy has 'won' and the BLM will not enforce the court order to remove the cows and are 'pulling out of the area'. This seems like a stall tactic by the Feds to cool things down, then once the protesters go home they will be back. I doubt very much this is over.
A few days ago I was trolling the White House Photo Gallery and came upon this picture:
Why that was wonderful! The Presi took a little drive up the the Maryland suburbs for a meet and greet and a talk about equal opportunity. Bladensburg MD is a kinda depressed area. It wraps around NE and SE DC, the toughest neighborhoods in DC. However, the group behind the president gave me pause.
If they are representative of the area, I see they are mostly women and girls, with a lone row of guys on the back row. They are predominately of color, and the only white like guy clearly distinguishable is in the center of the picture just over the Bamster's left middle finger, but he appears to be of Asian descent. No symbolism there. Nope. None at all.
I went to Wikopedia to get a look at it's demographics. That notes that the makeup of the town is 70% African American, and 30% other. A close examination of the picture shows about 60 people (adults and kids) visible, and on close examination about seven non-black people. That's 11%. Not exactly equal to the demographic, but ok. What about the female to male ratio? According to Wikopedia, that should be about equal, with 47% male and 53% female. Looking this picture over, I can count about 10 males. That's like 16% male participation here. Methinks the deck was just a little bit stacked.
It does leave me thinking what happened to the missing guys and white people. Did the administrators just tell them "Sorry. The Presi doesn't want your type behind him when he talks about equality. Better luck next time". I wonder what kind of message that sent with you know, some animals being more equal than others. Do they even teach Orwell in schools anymore?
Here's a funny that I figured out from the White House Daily Photo today. This is a picture of the Bamster touring the fake Oval Office in the LBJ Library:
Looking at his eyes, there is almost a tear in there. It is unusual for the Presi to show so much real emotion. It's a kind of hungry look. So I got to wondering, what could have moved him so much? What was he looking at?
I poked around the LBJ Library web site looking for an answer. Since the fake Oval Office is modeled on the real one, I knew the fireplace was opposite of the desk. So he was looking toward the fireplace, and over it. What was there in the fake Oval Office that so captivated him. Well, this picture is hanging over the fireplace:
An old white guy? Was that what he was looking at with hunger in his eyes? An Old White Guy? Well, it's not just any old white guy, that's FDR up there. What about FDR would make the Bamster green with envy? That he was a real war time president? That his "New Deal" that damn near drove the country into the ground is the model for the Bamster's own administration?
Nope! I went to Wikopedia to read up in FDR to find out why he was such a point of envy for the Bamster. There it was in the second sentence:
Serving from March 1933 to his death in April 1945, he was elected for four consecutive terms, and remains the only president ever to serve more than eight years.
I am thinking someone might need a little NyQuil with their cookies to get to sleep tonight after a busy afternoon spent day dreaming...