Sunday, December 28, 2014

Hero of the Week (12/27/14)

Duh! It's this guy!

More giggles later - Hope you all had a great Christmas and got lots of neat stuff!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hero(s) of the Week - 12/20/14

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!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hero(s) of The Week (12/13/14)

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!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A little thought experiment..

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!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

What if..

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?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Never Forget

Hero of the Week (12/06/14)

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!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Hero Of The Week (11/29/14)

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 is still 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!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Just another day..

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..

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Bee's Knees

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.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Another Adventure

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> “Sure.”

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 works, right?

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:

The waypoint for where we intersected the trail? It’s 38 57.210 N, 78 33.817 W. It’s up to you whether or not to use that should you ever decide to make this trek also…

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Something to think about..

BRMC birds from MikeC on Vimeo.

A little meditation and the Birds of Bull Run Mountain Conservancy enjoying the summer air...

Friday, August 22, 2014

I am a jelly doughnut

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.

Another different kind of video...

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.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Just for fun..

Last Sunday's ride at Lorton - BONUS!!! me falling on my butt 2:20 - 2:25...

Let me help you with that...

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...

Monday, June 30, 2014


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 day stunner.

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 this.

(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:

Yeah... never forget...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Even on my worst days…

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 does).

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.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Not my monkeys, not my circus..

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...

The Corporate Fridge

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 Corporate Fridge.

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 mind…

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 required.

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.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Sister Golden Hair Surprise

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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Another Day In Paradise

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, thinking alternatively "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.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Funny Thought...

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!"

Hero of the Week 04/13/14

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 Thing and 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.

Monday, April 14, 2014

I Went To Hell Thursday

(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:

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:

Gay USA The Movie
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!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The first thing that came to my mind...

I saw this about a Captain standing on the bulbous nose of his ship - pictured here:

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.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hero of the Week 04/06/14

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:

Nope! This guy:

Cliven Bundy Standoff

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.

Friday, April 11, 2014


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?