Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What Am I?

Via my cousin Mike (who's on a roll):
Old Cowboy

Ya think you have lived to be 71 and know who you are...then along comes someone and blows it all to the dickens...

An old cowboy sat down at the Starbucks and ordered a cup of coffee. As he sat sipping his coffee, a young woman sat down next to him.

She turned to the cowboy and asked, 'Are you a real cowboy?'

He replied, 'Well, I've spent my whole life breaking colts, working cows, going to rodeos, fixing fences, pulling calves, bailing hay, doctoring calves, cleaning my barn, fixing flats, working on tractors, and feeding my dogs, so I guess I am a cowboy.'

She said, 'I'm a lesbian. I spend my whole day thinking about women. As soon as I get up in the morning, I think about women. When I shower, I think about women. When I watch TV, I think about women. I even think about women when I eat. It seems that everything makes me think of women.'

The two sat sipping in silence.

A little while later, a man sat down on the other side of the old cowboy and asked, 'Are you a real cowboy?'

He replied, 'I always thought I was, but I just found out that I'm a lesbian.'
Me, too. I wonder what Debbie will say when she finds out?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Casino News...

Nothing new, really. But it's somehow pleasant to see (apparent) confirmation that Lakes will drop funding if the current dispute with Caltrans isn't resolved in favor of the Indians. From the news story:

The driveway issue is central to the Jamul tribe’s casino plans on the reservation 20 miles east of downtown San Diego. Efforts have come to a standstill since Caltrans asserted in June that it could block access if the tribe didn’t cooperate with its requests for information, Meza said.

The tribe’s business partner, Minnesota-based Lakes Entertainment, said in November that it will have to re-evaluate the project if it can’t resolve the access question.

Read the whole thing here.

A Different Christmas Poem...

Via my cousin Mike:


Beautiful.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Debbie's Excellent Weekend...

Debbie competed in an agility trial on Saturday and Sunday – with Mo'i and Miki. The trial was local, down in Bonita at Rohr Park.

This was Miki's very first agility trial, so he was entered in the novice class. He was up against about 15 other dogs, and ran twice each day. The results: he took three first places, and would have had a fourth except for a bar he knocked off one jump. Many people were very surprised by Miki's stellar performance, including Debbie!

Mo'i had just one clean run out of the four, and he didn't place. But the “Q” was enough to put him back in first place for the trial year (June to June). He'd fallen behind as he was out of competition for months after his back surgery.

So Debbie had a most excellent agility weekend!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

To All Dogs and Cats...

Via reader Simi L., who gets an awful lot of good stuff:
To be posted VERY LOW on the refrigerator door - snout height:

Dear Dogs and Cats,

The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate of food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to bark, claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years --canine or feline attendance is not mandatory.

The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough!

To pacify you, my dear pets, I have posted the following message on our front door:

To All Non-Pet Owners Who Visit & Like to Complain About Our Pets
  1. They live here. You don't.
  2. If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. (That's why they call it furniture.)
  3. I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
  4. To you, it's an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn't speak clearly.
Remember: Dogs and cats are better than kids because they:
  1. Eat less
  2. Don't ask for money all the time
  3. Are easier to train
  4. Usually come when called
  5. Never drive your car
  6. Don't hang out with drug-using friends
  7. Don't smoke or drink
  8. Don't worry about having to buy the latest fashions
  9. Don't wear your clothes
  10. Don't need a gazillion dollars for college, and
  11. If they get pregnant, you can sell their children.
Heh!

Merry Christmas, everybody!
(from Jamul, California – expecting rain tonight and on Christmas)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Congressional Motors...

Reader Simi L. sent me an email with this essay, and then a little Googling let me know it was written by Iowahawk. Now, Iowahawk has written some wonderful and funny stuff – and this piece doesn't disappoint. Here's the lead:

It's in the way you dress. The way you boogie down. The way you sign your unemployment check. You're a man who likes to do things your own way. And on those special odd-numbered Saturdays when driving is permitted, you want it in your car. It's that special feeling of a zero-emissions wind at your back and a road ahead meandering with possibilities. The kind of feeling you get behind the wheel of the Pelosi GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition from Congressional Motors.

All new for 2012, the Pelosi GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition is the mandatory American car so advanced it took $100 billion and an entire Congress to design it. We started with same reliable 7-way hybrid ethanol-biodeisel-electric-clean coal-wind-solar-pedal power plant behind the base model Pelosi, but packed it with extra oomph and the sassy styling pizazz that tells the world that 1974 Detroit is back again -- with a vengeance.

We've subsidized the features you want and taxed away the rest. With its advanced Al Gore-designed V-3 under the hood pumping out 22.5 thumping, carbon-neutral ponies of Detroit muscle, you'll never be late for the Disco or the Day Labor Shelter. Engage the pedal drive or strap on the optional jumbo mizzenmast, and the GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition easily exceeds 2016 CAFE mileage standards. At an estimated 268 MPG, that's a savings of nearly $1800 per week in fuel cost over the 2011 Pelosi.

Now go read the whole thing!

Laugh or Cry?

I don't know whether to laugh or cry after reading Mark Steyn's recent piece We're in the fast lane to Bailoutistan. Here's the end of it:

See the USA from your Chevrolet: An hereditary legislature, a media fawning its way into bankruptcy, its iconic coastal states driving out innovators and entrepreneurs, the arrival of the new Messiah heralded only by the leaden dirge of "We Three Kings Of Ol' Detroit Are/Seeking checks we traverse afar," and Route 66 looking ever more like a one-way dead-end street to Bailoutistan. Boy, I sure could use a poem by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis right now, even one of the lesser-loved ones.

"I feel like I lost my country," the Hudson Institute's Herbert London said the other day, wondering whatever happened to the land of opportunity and dynamism. But I'm more of an optimist. Maybe Princess Caroline will be appointed CEO of GM and all will be well. Or maybe Bed, Bath & Beyond will put wheels on the Swash 700 Elongated Biscuit Toilet Seat Bidet.

And on that cheery note let me wish you a very Hopey Changemas.

You know you want to go read the whole thing...

Common Sense - Where DId It Go?

Via my mom:
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No o ne knows for sure how old she was since her birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. She will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, life isn't always fair, and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not children are in charge).

Her health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened her condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they themselves failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Aspirin, sun lotion or a Band-aid to a student, but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar can sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gav e up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by her parents, Truth and Trust; her husband, Discretion; her daughter, Responsibility; and her son, Reason. She is survived by three stepbrothers; I Know my Rights, Someone Else is to Blame, and I'm a Victim.

Not many attended her funeral because so few realized she was gone. If you still remember her, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.
First thought I had after reading this: what do you suppose any of the Founding Fathers might think of what their creation has turned into? I think they'd be horrified and revolted – and they'd consider their finest achievement to have failed...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Something for the Fogies...

Courtesy of Simi L.:
Q: Where can men over the age of 60 find younger, sexy women who are interested in them?
A: Try a bookstore – under fiction.

Q: What can a man do while his wife is going through menopause?
A: Keep busy. If you're handy with tools, you can finish the basement. When you are done you will have a place to live.

Q: Someone has told me that menopause is mentioned in the Bible. Is that true? Where can it be found?
A: Yes. Matthew 14:92: 'And Mary rode Joseph's ass all the way to Egypt. '

Q: How can you increase the heart rate of your 60+ year old husband?
A: Tell him you're pregnant.

Q: What can I do for these crow's feet and all those wrinkles on my face?
A: Go braless. It will usually pull them out.

Q: Why should 60+ year old people use valet parking?
A: Valets don't forget where they park your car.

Q: Is it common for 60+ year olds to have problems with short term memory storage?
A: Storing memory is not a problem, retrieving it is a problem.

Q: As people age, do they sleep more soundly?
A: Yes, but usually in the afternoon.

Q: Where should 60+ year olds look for eye glasses?
A: On their foreheads.

Q: What is the most common remark made by 60+ year olds when they enter antique stores?
A: 'Gosh, I remember these.
Heh! I resemble (some of) those remarks...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Brrrr...

It was cold this morning when I walked the dogs – 36°F (2°C). Our low last night was 35°F. Looks like frost is coming our way a little early this year.

Must be that global warmening.

Or perhaps Al Gore is in town?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Storm Total: 5.35 Inches!

It looks like this storm is done with; we got our last rain about an hour ago and the radar looks clear. The pressure bottomed out at 29.55 inches of mercury, the second-lowest I've ever recorded (in six years of weather tracking). Our creeks are flowing and catch-ponds are starting to fill; in the past 7 years this hasn't happened until late January or February. And our yard is greening, over a month ahead of the schedule we've had in recent years. All good! And a chance of even more rain is forecast for Monday...

Meanwhile, the paper reports:

The dry season that long-range forecasters had predicted for Southern California has taken a sharp turn toward very wet.

Wednesday, the second storm in three days battered the region, forcing dramatic rescues from flood waters near the border and causing the death of a man in Tijuana.

San Diego has had more than twice its normal seasonal rainfall for mid-December. Although residents should catch a break over the next few days, the rainy pattern might be in place through the end of month, according to the National Weather Service.

That dry season that was forecast? That was the global-warming models at work. In the past few months, those models seem to be running right off the tracks, predicting phenomena that are the opposite of what reality turns out to be. Most of those models forecast a sustained and expanding drought for our area – but instead, it's starting to look like the end of the drought...

ROFL!

One of the finest examples of the art of advertising I have ever seen...


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It Just Keeps Getting Better...

The rain, that is. We've gotten 2.75 inches so far this storm system – a veritable drenching by our normal standards – and it is still raining, and the forecast is for more rain all day today. The radar picture at right was snapped just before I posted this, and that rain to the southwest of us (the yellow, orange, and red parts) is heading straight for us.

Woo hoo!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Earthquake!

Ok, so it was an itsy-bitsy teenie-weenie earthquake: a whopping magnitude 1.2. I'm pretty sure you couldn't feel that even if you were standing on the epicenter. The seismograph charts at right show the story, and you can read the details yourself, or look at a map of its location (not far from the Jamul Indian reservation).

Hmm... Maybe Mother Nature is practicing, just in case the casino gets built?

The End Looks Like This...

The end of the dry season, that is! Our rain total for the month is now 2.5 inches (64mm), all of which has fallen in the past three days (most of it in the last day). And it's still raining as I write this – and more is in the forecast for the next few days.

To my readers in wetter places, 2.5 inches may not sound like a lot. However, that amount is about 12% of the total rain we've received for this entire year! For the past eight years, this area has been in the grips of a fairly severe drought, with annual rainfall totals well under the 100 year average. I don't want to jinx anything, but...so far, this rainy season looks a lot more like a normal year than a drought year. It's been a long time since we've seen this much rain so early in the wet season.

More, please!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gardner: 8 Years...

About seven years ago, in a different life, I sat down with this man to negotiate the sale of a technology and product line that my company had developed. He is Stephen Gardner, and at that time he was the CEO of Peregrine Systems, here in San Diego. Today this news:
Former Peregrine Systems Chief Executive Stephen Gardner was sentenced Thursday to eight years and one month in prison for his role in the massive fraud that sent the once-high-flying software company spiraling into bankruptcy.

Prosecutors charged that Gardner and 17 other Peregrine executives systematically overstated revenue by millions of dollars from 1999 to 2001 ensuring that the company's stock would climb in value.

Shareholder losses following the collapse of the scam are estimated at $3 billion.

“I did hide problems in the hope that they would be fixed and we could move on,” Gardner told U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan in San Diego before being sentenced. “I was dedicated to making Peregrine a great company and I failed.”

The former head of one of San Diego's most prominent tech companies pleaded guilty in March 2007 to one count each of securities fraud, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud.

He had originally been indicted on 46 counts.

Under the terms of his plea, Gardner had faced a sentence of up to 20 years. He also agreed to cooperate with investigators and testify against the remaining defendants.

In that testimony, the disgraced former CEO laid out how he had presided over an accounting scheme that lasted for years. He described how the sham business deals had mounted, quarter after quarter, until Peregrine became a runaway train of corporate corruption.

He and I never reached agreement on a deal, mainly because he insisted on paying us in Peregrine stock (instead of cash), and we were quite skeptical of the value of that stock. Not long afterward, Peregrine cratered – and we were very glad we didn't reach an agreement.

Still, it's an odd feeling to know that someone I once tried to do business with was actually committing fraud, knowingly, at the very time I was working with him...

More here, here, here, and here...

Auto Bailout DOA...

At least for now.

Good.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sources of Heat...

Before NASA's Voyager robotic explorers flew by Jupiter in 1979, scientists believed that Jupiter's moons – so far from the sun's heat – were cold, frozen places. The Voyagers rather dramatically showed otherwise, spotting sulphur volcanoes on Io and the ice-encrusted oceans of Europa (at right).

Soon a new scientific consensus formed around the notion of tidal forces as the source of the heat needed to produce these observed phenomena. Now scientist Robert Tyler has published a paper that first shows that tidal forces aren't powerful enough to provide the heat needed, and proposes a different mechanism that would produce the necessary heat.

Tyler's paper is unusual for being a single-author paper – most papers in his field are team efforts.

The source of heat that Tyler proposes derives from the fact that these moons rotate on an axis that's oblique to their orbital plane. This produces Rossby waves (which I had never heard of until this morning) that are energetic enough to explain the observed heat on Europa (the subject of Tyler's study). It will be very interesting to see if this same source of energy can explain observations on other moons in our solar system.

For more, see here, here, here, and here.

The most obvious consequence of Tyler's discovery is this: there may well be many planets and moons (around our Sun and around other stars) that are too far from their sun for solar heat to provide the conditions for life, but which nonetheless have enough heat to provide liquid water and energy. We have forms of life right hear on earth that could survive and even thrive in several environments within our solar system...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Job Loss Data...

Over at CoyoteBlog, there's a fascinating post on the actual jobs loss data (as opposed to the overwrought hype that fills our news media).

Bottom line: the losses are real, but not even in the same class as the Great Depression, nor as bad as several other more recent recessions.

What CoyoteBlog did was simply to download and graph data that the government makes freely available to all, over the web. You'd think that somewhere, buried deep in some newsroom, there might be just one journalist who thought that getting actual information to people might be a good idea. But apparently not; that journalist I'm thinking of was probably the first one to be laid off...

This Pretty Much Says It All...

Tiajuana on the Brink...

Tiajuana, Mexico is a city of 2.7 million people, just across the border from San Diego. That puts it about 25 miles from my home.

Over the past year, here and in the rest of Mexico, there has been a very alarming escalation of the long-running war between the drug cartels and the Mexican government. And it doesn't look like the government is winning.

The map at right shows where people have been murdered in just the past three months. Other border cities are seeing much the same thing.

This conflict is driven by exactly one thing: the demand for illegal drugs in the U.S. The solution is simple: legalize all drugs, and dispense them through pharmacies. Overnight, the financial incentive for this madness would disappear...

A slightly different perspective from my fellow Jamulian Tom Smith...

Quote of the Day...

From U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald:
“The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering. They allege that Blagojevich put a for-sale sign on the naming of a United States senator.”
He's talking, of course, about the indictment of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges. The best news summary I've seen is at the Wall Street Journal.

Chicago is leading the charge to turn the U.S. into Mexico...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Spitzer Strikes Again...

A new image from the Spitzer Space Telescope, this one showing a star-forming region in M17 (the “Swan Nebula”).

This is yet another piece of spectacular science being quietly delivered, every day, by NASA's small fleet of robotic explorers. These marvelous machines exist on the scraps of a NASA budget left over after the nearly useless manned space missions, most recently occupied by fixing a toilet on the space station.

My readers already know that I agree with very few policy positions of the Obama administration-in-waiting – but one of those that I do agree with is taking a close look at the manned space program for opportunities to save money. However, I suspect that Obama intends to spend that money on one of his many spread-the-wealth programs, and not on unmanned space exploration...

Quote of the Day (Photo Edition)...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My Kind of Obituary...

Published on September 15, 2008 in the Casper, Wyoming Star-Tribune:
A celebration of life for James William "Jim" Adams, 53, will be held at a later date.

He died Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008 at Memorial Hospital of Converse County in Douglas.

Jim, who had tired of reading obituaries noting other's courageous battles with this or that disease, wanted it known that he lost his battle. It was primarily as a result of being stubborn and not following doctor's orders or maybe for just living life a little too hard for better than five decades.

He was born June 8, 1955 in Garrison, N.D. the son of James William and Ruby Helen (Clark) Adams.

He was sadly deprived of his final wish, which was to be run over by a beer truck on the way to the liquor store to buy booze for a date. True to his personal style, he spent his final hours joking with medical personnel, cussing and begging for narcotics and bargaining with God to look over his loving dog, Biscuit, and his family.

He would like to thank all "his ladies" for putting up with him the last 30 years.

During his life, he excelled at anything he put his mind to. He loved to hear and tell jokes and spin tales of grand adventures he may or may not have had.

He is survived by five sons, Jeremiah Adams and his wife, Nicole, Mica Olivas, Wade Olivas, Brice Simpson and Cole Adams; sister, Jerri Giegerich; two ex-wives, Vickie Harrison and Marilyn Williams; four grandchildren; two nieces; and two great-nieces.

He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother-in-law.

In lieu of flowers, he asks that you make a sizeable purchase at your favorite watering hole, get rip roaring drunk and tell the stories he no longer can.

Gorman Funeral Homes - Converse Chapel of Douglas is in charge of the arrangements.

Heh!

A Day That Shall Live In Infamy...

Sixty-seven years ago this day, the Empire of Japan launched its surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was correct: this date has lived in infamy.

The day after Japan's attack, FDR delivered his famous speech to Congress, asking for a declaration of war. It is just as inspiring today as it was in those dark days:


This speech marks the moment that the U.S. plunged headlong into World War II, leading rather directly to the victory of the Allies over the Axis of Germany, Japan, and Italy just a few years later.

It is indeed a day worth remembering, for so many reasons.

I, for one, would be greatly comforted if a “new FDR” were to respond to the war on terror as robustly as FDR did to the Axis...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Oh, My...

I happened to come across this little gem while doing my morning reading:
I grew up in Jamul, CA. We used to hike in the hills above Tecate. We found a short series of footprints on the edge of a remote muddy pond. The prints were human-sized or smaller with strange pin holes in a tight pattern all the way around the foot. We figured it must be from bristly hair all over the foot. Definitely a young inexperienced desert sasquatch. There is a similar report in this area on BFRO for the Boundry Peak area.
I suspect they walk from pond to pond.
Oh, my. This made me search for “desert sasquatch”, and I was pretty much appalled to find that there were 147 hits on that improbable phrase. Then browsing a few of those sites really had me laughing. What strange beliefs some people seem to have!

And they walk among us...

The Champs...

Mo'i and Debbie (at right) are the top-ranked field spaniel agility competitors in the U.S. this year, for the third year in a row. Next Friday, they head to Long Beach for the National Invitational Agility competition, where the top dogs in each breed compete against each other. My camera and I will be there next Sunday, for the finals.

Mo'i is in the best condition of his life, despite it being only two months since he had surgery on his back. It's clear to us now that his back problem has been plaguing him for years – the poor guy just couldn't tell us about it!

Because Mo'i is a field spaniel (a breed “serious” agility competitors might compare to a Volkwagen bug competing against Ferraris), there's little chance of them placing – much less winning – the national competition. But they're going to have lots of fun, and they'll get some well-earned recognition from their peers...

UN Representative States the Obvious...

...as if it's a big surprise. Specifically, Nobel Peace Prize laureate El Baradei said today:
The chief of the world's nuclear weapons watchdog organization considers five years of U.S. and international efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions a failure, as Tehran moves ever closer to obtaining the means to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The United Nations Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions to try to get Iran to halt uranium enrichment and other activities, while the United States and Europe have offered economic and security incentives. Yet Iran continues acquiring nuclear technology and stockpiling sensitive material.

"We haven't really moved one inch toward addressing the issues," said Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA. "I think so far the policy has been a failure."

The 66-year-old Egyptian diplomat and 2005 Nobel Peace Prize laureate also urged world leaders to address broader unease about security, poverty and perceived injustice rather than zero in on narrow security concerns, such as nuclear weapons.
What was his first clue, I wonder?

Funny how now that Obama has been elected, the truth is popping out all over the place...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

“Suspected Gunmen”

Charles Lipson, at American Thinker:
In Britain's leading papers, we find pictures of gun-toting terrorists, in the midst of grisly killings, called "suspected" gunmen. No delicate sensibilities are offended, as they might be if the gunmen were plainly called terrorists en route to taking hostages and killing civilians.

Since the pictures are protected by Reuters' copyright, I will describe them and provide links. They are close- and medium-range photos of a one person, not crowd scenes. They clearly show a gunman with his finger on the trigger of an assault rifle, ready to fire at any moment.

Calling these terrorists "suspects" in the midst of the carnage they so obviously perpetrated is worse than the usual banality of mainstream journalism. It is craven. Faced with the visible image of terrorists at work, these newspapers responded with the insipid posture of professional neutrality.

Nor can these photo captions be excused as one person's mistake. They passed through too many hands for that. They ran in prominent locations in several British papers and must have survived multiple editors. They remained posted, captions unchanged, long after the mass slaughter became known.
Political correctness, moral cowardice, euphemism … whatever you want to call it – it's just one more example of how the lamestream media is working itself into obsolescence…

Recommendation: Stanley 95-112 Tripod LED Flashlight

We recently purchased this Stanley tripod LED flashlight (on sale at Amazon), and I've been using it every morning and evening when walking the dogs. I like it.

It's not the brightest flashlight I've had, but it's bright enough for most purposes. The fact that it uses LEDs means that it should be reliable (no bulbs to burn out) and the batteries should last a long time (because LEDs are much more efficient than incandescent bulbs).

The tripod design and swivel head are a clever innovation for situations when you need both hands free to work with. When the tripod is folded, the rubbery wafers make a solid and comfortable grip. Nicely done all around!

In The Cold Fog...

I just got back inside after walking the dogs. We're in a dense, cold fog right now – visibility is just a hundred feet or so, and the temperature is 42°F. If you swish your hand around in the fog, it gets wet. Everything outside is covered with a film of water from condensed fog. Shining a flashlight into the fog, in the perfectly still air, I can see countless tiny particles of water drifting slowly downwards...

So different than just a month ago!

I'll Wait...

Forwarded by Simi L. I have no idea if this is real or not, but I like it!
According to a Marine Pilot:

In addition to communicating with the local Air Traffic Control facility, all aircraft in the Persian Gulf AOR are required to give the Iranian Air Defense Radar (military) a ten minute 'heads up' if they will be transiting Iranian airspace.

This is a common procedure for commercial aircraft and involves giving them your call sign, transponder code, type aircraft, and points of origin and destination.

I just flew with a guy who overheard this conversation on the VHF Guard (emergency) frequency 121.5 MHz while flying from Europe to Dubai. It's too good not to pass along. The conversation went something like this...

Air Defense Radar: 'Unknown aircraft at (location unknown), you are in Iranian airspace. Identify yourself.'

Aircraft: 'This is a United State s aircraft. I am in Iraqi airspace.'

Air Defense Radar: 'You are in Iranian airspace. If you do not depart our airspace we will launch interceptor aircraft!'

Aircraft: 'This is a United States Marine Corps FA-18 fighter. Send 'em up, I'll wait!'

Air Defense Radar: (no response ... total silence)

Semper Fi!

Groan...

A collection of groan-inducing puns, forwarded by my cousin Mike:
  1. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.

  2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

  3. She was only a whisky maker, but he loved her still.

  4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.

  5. The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.|

  6. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

  7. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

  8. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

  9. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

  10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

  11. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.

  12. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

  13. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, 'You stay here, I'll go on a head.'

  14. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

  15. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: 'Keep off the Grass.'

  16. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said, 'No change yet.'

  17. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

  18. It's not that the man did not know how to juggle, he just didn't have the balls to do it.

  19. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

  20. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

  21. A backward poet writes inverse.

  22. In democracy it's your vote that counts. In feudalism it's your count that votes.

  23. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

  24. Don't join dangerous cults: Practice safe sects!
Groan, indeed!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Socialist Parable...

Many of my readers will be familiar with this oldie-but-goodie parable, which has been rejiggered for current circumstances:
The little red hen called all of her Democrat neighbors together and said, 'If we plant this wheat, we shall have bread to eat. Who will help me plant it?'

'Not I,' said the cow.
'Not I,' said the duck.
'Not I,' said the pig.
'Not I,' said the goose.

'Then I will do it by myself,' said the little red hen, and so she did. The wheat grew very tall and ripened into golden grain.

'Who will help me reap my wheat?' asked the little red hen.

'Not I,' said the duck...
'Out of my classification,' said the pig.
'I'd lose my seniority,' said the cow.
'I'd lose my unemployment compensation,' said the goose.

'Then I will do it by myself,' said the little red hen, and so she did.

At last it came time to bake the bread. 'Who will help me bake the bread?' asked the little red hen.

'That would be overtime for me,' said the cow.
'I'd lose my welfare benefits,' said the duck.
'If I'm to be the only helper, that's discrimination,' said the goose.

'Then I will do it by myself,' said the little red hen. She baked five loaves and held them up for all of her neighbors to see.

They wanted some and, in fact, demanded a share. But the little red hen said, 'No, I shall eat all five loaves.'

'Excess profits!' cried the cow. (Nancy Pelosi)
'Capitalist leech!' screamed the duck. (Barbara Boxer)
'I demand equal rights!' yelled the goose. (Jesse Jackson)
The pig just grunted in disdain. (Barney Frank)
And they all painted 'Unfair!' picket signs and marched around and around the little red hen, shouting obscenities.

Then the farmer (Obama) came. He said to the little red hen, 'You must not be so greedy.'

'But I earned the bread,' said the little red hen. 'Exactly,' said Barack the farmer. 'That is what makes our free enterprise system so wonderful. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under our modern government regulations, the productive workers must divide the fruits of their labor with those who are lazy and idle.'

And they all lived happily ever after, including the little red hen, who smiled and clucked, 'I am grateful, for now I truly Understand.'

But her neighbors became quite disappointed in her. She never again baked bread because she joined the 'party' and got her bread free. And all the Democrats smiled. 'Fairness' had been established.

Individual initiative had died, but nobody noticed; perhaps no one cared..so long as there was free bread that 'the rich' were paying for.

EPILOGUE

Bill Clinton is getting $12 million for his memoirs.
Hillary got $8 million for hers. That's $20 million for the memories from two people, who for eight years, repeatedly testified, under oath, that they couldn't remember anything.

IS THIS A GREAT BARNYARD OR WHAT?
From my mom...

Oh, Noz!

If there is any such thing as a merciful god, then this will not happen.

Fire Lookout on Lyons Peak?

According to this article in the SDUT, it's a possibility:
There is hope, Harris said, that a lookout on Lyons Peak in the south central part of the county near Jamul and Lyons Valley will be the next to be refurbished. That may be difficult, Harris said, because the road to the lookout tower crosses onto private land, and the owner is resistant to it being used.
Do any of my readers know who this property owner is? I'd like to do some personal lobbying.

The restrictions on accessing Lyons Peak affect another service many of us consider vital: the HPWREN cameras on Lyons Peak that were our main source of timely information during the Harris Fire. The operators of these cameras have told me several times that the only way they can get to the cameras is by helicopter. This is, of course, expensive and hard to arrange – and it means that sometimes needed maintenance is postponed. Right now, for example, the glass covering the camera lenses needs cleaning – but that's going to have to wait until some more pressing need can justify the helicopter.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mexico is at War...

Mexico is at war, with dozens (sometimes hundreds) of fatalities every month – far worse than Iraq right now. Even here in San Diego, just across the border from Tijuana, very few Americans seem to know about this. Or care. From this morning's news:

TIJUANA, Mexico — The bodies of nine decapitated men were found in a vacant lot in Tijuana Sunday, part of a wave of violence that claimed at least 23 lives over the weekend in this border city plagued by warring traffickers, authorities said.

The heads were discovered in plastic bags near the bodies in a poor neighborhood of Tijuana, across from San Diego, Baja California state police said in a statement. Three police identification cards were also found at the site.

The statement gave no motive for the killings, but they came as Mexico's drug cartels wage a bloody fight for smuggling routes and against government forces, dumping beheaded bodies onto streets, carrying out massacres and even tossing grenades into a crowd of Independence Day revelers — an attack that killed eight people in September.

More than 4,000 people have died so far this year in drug-related violence in Mexico.

Across Tijuana on Sunday, attacks by gunmen killed five people in addition to the nine beheaded bodies.

I'm not sure that Iran will be America's next big threat – it may well be the open warfare in Mexico. What's to stop that violence from spilling over into the U.S.?

Lt. Jason Redman, SEAL...

Secretary of Defence Bob Gates is uplifted by the courage of our wounded soldiers. Recently he cited an example: Lt. Jason Redman, a SEAL who was shot in the face and arms by a machine gun last year in Iraq. Lt. Redman, now recovering in the Bethesda Medical Center, posted a bright orange sign on his door with these words:
Attention to all who enter here.

If you are coming into this room with sorrow or to feel sorry for my wounds, go elsewhere. The wounds I received I got in a job I love, doing it for people I love, supporting the freedom of a country I deeply love. I am incredibly tough and will make a full recovery.

What is full? That is the absolute utmost physically my body has the ability to recover. Then I will push that about 20 percent further through sheer mental tenacity. This room you are about to enter is a room of fun, optimism, and intense rapid regrowth.

If you are not prepared for that, go elsewhere.
Sometimes it's hard to believe that our magnificent soldiers come from the same stock as the rest of us. How many people do you know who would – could – respond to a horrible would with such pluck?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bollywood Speaks Out about Mumbai...

Do you remember, right after 9/11, the parade of Hollywood “stars” speaking out about that awful attack? There were a few who responded in ways that we can respect, but the majority of that collection of cuckoos responded with disgusting displays of blame-Americanism and even admiration or support for the terrorists.

It was just awful, and to this day there are certain “stars” whom I refuse to watch because of this.

Contrast this with the reaction of the stars of Bollywood (India's equivalent of Hollywood). They sound to me like normal, patriotic folks – outraged by the attack on their country, and 100% behind their country.

I may have to try watching a couple of Indian movies...

Glaciers Growing?

I first started reading reports of growing glaciers a few months ago, in Alaska. Now reports are coming in from all over the world: for the first time in over 250 years, glaciers in Alaska, Canada, New Zealand, Greenland, and now Norway are growing. From the latest report:
After years of decline, glaciers in Norway are again growing, reports the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE). The actual magnitude of the growth, which appears to have begun over the last two years, has not yet been quantified, says NVE Senior Engineer Hallgeir Elvehøy.

The flow rate of many glaciers has also declined. Glacier flow ultimately acts to reduce accumulation, as the ice moves to lower, warmer elevations.

I wonder why the warmies aren't reporting on this latest exciting development? Why isn't the Goreacle all atwitter with indignation? And Jim Hansen – shouldn't he be agitating for global action to warm up the environment?

Oh, that's right, now I remember – according to their “models” we're right in the midst of a calamitous warming trend!

Just like this news about glaciers, you probably also haven't read about the latest events in the world of science. One of them: a petition, signed by 30,000 scientists, calling for an end to the dogmatic advocacy of global warming and a return to normal, skeptical science. Increasing evidence for the non-existence of global warming was one of the primary motivations for this petition – after, of course, the shame and misgivings most professional scientists experience upon examining the “science” of global warming. Dr. Freeman Dyson is an eloquent spokesman for these scientists...

Oh, My...

One hardly knows what to say.

Repressing the gag reflex is my challenge of the moment.

This is apparently not a joke – the ad is all over the airwaves and the Internet. The site is here, but I warn you: an automatic video ad will play – you can't stop it, and it is nauseating.

Pardon me while I go clean up a bit...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Day...

Our friends and neighbors, Jim and Michelle, invited us to join them and some family members for Thanksgiving dinner – tempting us with tales of table-bending quantities of traditional Thanksgiving fare. And so it was! From memory, there was a grand roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet corn, string beans, homemade cranberry sauce, pasta salad, macaroni-and-cheese, and a lovely butternut squash soup. Oh, and unlimited quantities of a very nice local cabernet.

After an appropriate period of stomach-resting and pleasant conversation, then there was dessert. The traditional pumpkin pie was there, along with an apple pie, a sweet potato pie, and a delectable concoction of chocolate and caramel whose name I don't know. The sweet potato pie (with real, homemade, unsweetened whipped cream) was my hands-down favorite – the cloves and cinnamon that permeated it tickled my fancy.

Today we are promised a fine turkey soup, to be ready around noon. Even our weather is perfect for such a feast: it's misty, cool, crisp, and partly cloudy. A perfect turkey soup day!

Mumbai Attacks Are Something Different...

Bill Roggio is one of the finest analysts reporting on the war on terror; his work shows up in numerous online and print outlets. Whenever I see his byline, I take a little extra time to read and understand it – he's been right far more often than not.

So this morning when I visited the Long War Journal (an online publication that Mr. Roggio both edits and contributes to), I paid special attention to this article on the Mumbai attacks. In it, Bill paints a vivid picture of the attacks, full of information I've read nowhere else. It's clear the Mumbai attacks represent a ratcheting up of the enemy's capabilities, a sobering thought indeed. The attackers apparently arrived in the area of Mumbai on ocean-going ships, then disembarked and landed using inflatable (Zodiak-style) boats. Here's an excerpt from the middle of Bill's piece:

While the exact size of the assault force and the support cells is still not known, police estimate about 25 gunmen were involved in the attack. The number of members of the supporting cells that provide financing, training, transportation, and other services could be two to four times this number. Operational security for such a large unit, or grouping of cells, is difficult to maintain and requires organization and discipline.

To pull off an attack of this magnitude, it requires months of training, planning, and on-site reconnaissance. Indian officials have stated that the terrorists set up "advance control rooms" at the Taj Mahal and Trident (Oberoi) hotels, and conducted a significant amount of reconnaissance prior to executing the attack. If the news about the "control rooms" is accurate, these rooms may also have served as weapons and ammunition caches for the assault teams to replenish after conducting the first half of the operation.

The planners of the Mumbai attack appear to have chosen able military-aged males. Witnesses have described the men as young and fit. Some of the gunmen appear to have been well trained; some have been credited with having good marksmanship and other military skills.

A witness who saw one of the teams land by sea adescribed the gunmen as "in their 20s, fair-skinned and tall, clad in jeans and jackets." He saw "eight young men stepping out of the raft, two at a time. They jumped into the waters, and picked up a haversack. They bent down again, and came up carrying two more haversacks, one in each hand."

Now go read the whole thing.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Baptizing the Bear...

From my cousin Mike:
Baptizing the Bear

A priest, a Pentecostal preacher and a Rabbi all served as chaplains to the students of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa . They would get together two or three times a week for coffee and to talk shop. One day, someone made the comment that preaching to people isn't really all that hard. A real challenge would be to preach to a bear. One thing led to another and they decided to do an experiment. They would all go up to the Smokies, find a bear, preach to it, and attempt to convert it.

Seven days later, they're all together to discuss the experience.

Father Flannery, who has his arm in a sling, is on crutches, and has various bandages on his body and limbs, went first. 'Well,' he said, 'I went into the woods to find me a bear. And when I found him I began to read to him from the Catechism. Well, that bear wanted nothing to do with me and began to slap me around. So, I quickly grabbed my holy water, sprinkled him and, Holy Mary Mother of God, he became as gentle as a lamb. The bishop is coming out next week to give him first communion and confirmation.'

Reverend Billy Bob spoke next. He was in a wheelchair, with an arm and both legs in casts, and an IV drip. In his best fire and brimstone oratory he claimed, 'WELL brothers, you KNOW that WE don't sprinkle! I went out and I FOUND me a bear. And then I began to read to my bear from God's HOLY WORD! But that bear wanted nothing to do with me. So I took HOLD of him and we began to wrestle. We wrestled down one hill, UP another and DOWN another until we came to a creek. So right quick-like, I DUNKED him and BAPTIZED his hairy soul. And just like you said, he became as gentle as a lamb. We spent the rest of the day praising Jesus.'

They both looked down at the rabbi, who was lying in a hospital bed. He was in a body cast and traction with IV's and monitors running in and out of him. He was in bad shape. The rabbi looks up and says, 'Looking back on it, circumcision may not have been the best way to start.'

Housing Bubble...

I've been looking for this data for months, and finally found a good source: the Bubble Meter blog, whose author also created and publishes this graph on his web site.

The red line (inflation-adjusted home prices) is the one to pay attention to. That line clearly shows the onset of the housing bubble around 2001. This happens to be exactly when the financial industry (urged by Congress) figured out how to package dog turds (the high-risk home loans to unqualified buyers) as gold-plated AA-rated securities. These securities were then purchased by normally-sane investors, who were for some reason willing to believe the computer models rather than their own sense of smell.

Kinda like the anthropomorphic global warming folks. Hmmm...

Anyway, there are a couple of things I take away from this chart. First one: here in San Diego County, we wish those were the averag home prices! Ours are roughly double what this chart shows. Second, the long-term inflation-adjusted home price seems to waver right around $150,000 with a slight increasing trend. If you imagine the housing bubble never happened, and you extrapolate that trend, then home prices right now “should” be around $175,000, plus or minus $25,000 or so. This suggests there's still some more price decline to go.

Oh, and one more thing: if you bought your home more than about 10 years ago, your home's value still has gained more than the historical average. Even if you purchased as recently as 5 years ago, most likely you're still breaking even. The sky hasn't fallen just yet...

Storm Total: 1.4 Inches...

The rainfall yesterday was one inch, and we got four tenths of an inch today. It's not raining now, but it's still stormy looking outside. The forecast calls for slight chance of rain through 1 PM today, then clear for at least five days.

I took a little “inspection tour” of our yard this morning – the wet soil goes down at least six inches even in the hard-packed areas, and over a foot where it's softer.

No more fires, it's delightfully cool, and the dust will be greatly reduced for a while.

I love this time of year!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rain, Oh Lovely Rain!

Have you ever seen anything as cheerful looking as that graph? Almost an inch of rain so far in this storm...

The fire season is over!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cross Your Fingers...

The forecast calls for rain tonight – beautiful, abundant rain. Perhaps as much as three inches.

It could mean the end of our fire season.

Cross those fingers!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Translation of a post by a French soldier serving in Afghanistan (via Serindipitous altruism):

“We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while - they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we live with them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army - one that the movies brought to the public as series showing “ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events”. Who are they, those soldiers from abroad, how is their daily life, and what support do they bring to the men of our OMLT every day ? Few of them belong to the Easy Company, the one the TV series focuses on. This one nowadays is named Echo Company, and it has become the support company.

They have a terribly strong American accent - from our point of view the language they speak is not even English. How many times did I have to write down what I wanted to say rather than waste precious minutes trying various pronunciations of a seemingly common word? Whatever state they are from, no two accents are alike and they even admit that in some crisis situations they have difficulties understanding each other.

Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.

Here we discover America as it is often depicted : their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity lack of privacy and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley. Honor, motherland - everything here reminds of that : the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location : books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission. And that is a first shock to our preconceptions : the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.

And they are impressive warriors ! We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how. Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seem to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark - only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered - everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.

And combat ? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all - always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks : they switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the ennemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting : they just charge ! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later - which cuts any pussyfooting short.

We seldom hear any harsh word, and from 5 AM onwards the camp chores are performed in beautiful order and always with excellent spirit. A passing American helicopter stops near a stranded vehicle just to check that everything is alright; an American combat team will rush to support ours before even knowing how dangerous the mission is - from what we have been given to witness, the American soldier is a beautiful and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.

To those who bestow us with the honor of sharing their combat outposts and who everyday give proof of their military excellence, to those who pay the daily tribute of America’s army’s deployment on Afghan soil, to those we owned this article, ourselves hoping that we will always remain worthy of them and to always continue hearing them say that we are all the same band of brothers”.

I've read a lot about the general ineffectiveness of the French and German NATO contingents in Afghanistan, for many reasons. The main surprise for me in this post is the honest and clear-headed appraisal by the French soldier – it must be quite sobering for he and his comrades to fight alongside the American units...

Here's hoping that Obama shares my pride in these men, and my belief in the need for their mission...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Poetical...

A little post-election poetry, courtesy of reader Simi L.:
The election day is over,
The talking is done.
My party lost, your party won.
So let us be friends,
Let arguments pass.
I'll hug my elephant,
You kiss your ass.
Heh!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jumbo Mizzenmasts...

Iowahawk has a scoop: an article from our future, about the automobiles we're all going to be driving if the Democrat's agenda is implemented. Here's how it starts:

It's in the way you dress. The way you boogie down. The way you sign your unemployment check. You're a man who likes to do things your own way. And on those special odd-numbered Saturdays when driving is permitted, you want it in your car. It's that special feeling of a zero-emissions wind at your back and a road ahead meandering with possibilities. The kind of feeling you get behind the wheel of the Pelosi GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition from Congressional Motors.

All new for 2012, the Pelosi GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition is the mandatory American car so advanced it took $100 billion and an entire Congress to design it. We started with same reliable 7-way hybrid ethanol-biodeisel-electric-clean coal-wind-solar-pedal power plant behind the base model Pelosi, but packed it with extra oomph and the sassy styling pizazz that tells the world that 1974 Detroit is back again -- with a vengeance.

We've subsidized the features you want and taxed away the rest. With its advanced Al Gore-designed V-3 under the hood pumping out 22.5 thumping, carbon-neutral ponies of Detroit muscle, you'll never be late for the Disco or the Day Labor Shelter. Engage the pedal drive or strap on the optional jumbo mizzenmast, and the GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition easily exceeds 2016 CAFE mileage standards. At an estimated 268 MPG, that's a savings of nearly $1800 per week in fuel cost over the 2011 Pelosi.

Now go read the whole thing!

Friday Morning Global Warming Smile...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rachel and the Traffic Delay...

If you don't visit Rachael Lucas' place frequently, you're missing out on some good stuff. From a post she wrote today about a traffic problem she encountered:

And lo, what was the cause? The author of this trouble? The root/source/wellspring of this most infuriating pickle?

Why, of course. It was a young man “driving” along in a nondescript sedan while wearing his baseball cap backward on his head and…wait for it…TEXT MESSAGING ON HIS CELL PHONE.

I pulled up alongside him and glanced over to observe his complete and total tool-ness, and I will admit to the entire internet that I had hateful, violent thoughts of inflicting pain and suffering upon this jackass. For a brief moment, I fantasized about jerking my steering wheel to the left to run him off the road so that I could then get out of my car and kill him with my bare hands. Then I realized how much that scene would suck for me, what with the jail and the wrecked car and all.

Instead, I “calmly” motored past him, yelled the dirtiest curse words I know, and consoled myself with the thought of writing about this assplow on my blog.

The girl can rant, can't she?

Good word, “assplow”...

Email from My Mother...

Just received:
WARNING

ALIENS ARE COMING TO EARTH ON FRIDAY AND THEIR MISSION IS TO ABDUCT ALL GOOD LOOKING AND SEXY PEOPLE.

YOU WILL BE SAFE,
BUT I'M JUST EMAILING YOU TO SAY GOODBYE
My own mother. Sniff.

<smile>

Barrel of Bricks...

This is an oldie-but-goodie, well-documented by Snopes as a joke, not reality. But it's still funny as hell:
AUSTRALIAN BRICKLAYER'S ACCIDENT REPORT

Possibly the funniest story in a long while. This is a bricklayer's accident report, which was printed in the newsletter of the Australian equivalent of the Workers' Compensation board.

This is a true story. Had this guy died, he'd have received a Darwin Award for sure...

Dear Sir,

I am writing in response to your request for additional information in Block 3 of the accident report form. I put "poor planning" as the cause of my accident. You asked for a fuller explanation and I trust the following details will be sufficient.

I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a new six-story building. When I completed my work, I found that I had some bricks left over which, when weighed later were found to be slightly in excess of 500 lbs.

Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley, which was attached to the side of the building on the sixth floor. Securing the rope at ground I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went down and untied the rope, holding it tightly to ensure a slow descent of the bricks.

You will note in Block 11 of the accident report form that I weigh 135 lbs. Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rapid rate up the side of the building.

In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel, which was now proceeding downward at an equally impressive speed. This explained the fractured skull, minor abrasions and the broken collar bone, as listed in section 3 of the accident report form. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley.

Fortunately by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope, in spite of beginning to experience pain. At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Now devoid of the weight of the bricks, that barrel weighed approximately 50 lbs. I refer you again to my weight.

As you can imagine, I began a rapid descent, down the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, broken tooth and several lacerations of my legs and lower body. Here my luck began to change slightly. The encounter with the barrel seemed to slow me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell into the pile of bricks and fortunately only three vertebrae were cracked.

I am sorry to report, however, as I lay there on the pile of bricks, in pain, unable to move, I again lost my composure and presence of mind and let go of the rope and I lay there watching the empty barrel begin its journey back down onto me. This explains the two broken legs. I hope this answers your inquiry.

Kevin Roben
Wagga Glass & Aluminium Pty Ltd
PO Box 5004 ( 11 Dobney Ave )
Wagga Wagga NSW 2650

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hillary for SecState!

From Richard Miller, on the notion of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State in the Obama administration (this possibility is the subject of many current rumors):
She’s not too bothered by morals, and assuming at least some devotion to U.S. interests, she might combine a pinch of Machiavelli, two shakes of Tallyrand, perhaps and a maybe even a quarter cup of Henry the K. If Hillary’s moral-free, say-do-and-cry-for-anything standards could be put at the service of U.S. diplomacy (instead of her overweening ambition), the country just might benefit.
Doesn't really sound like a ringing endorsement – at least, not until you consider the alternatives that have been swirling in the rumors. I mean, really, wouldn't you rather have Hillary Clinton than John Kerry as your Secretary of State – no matter what your personal politics? I know I would, though that's a bit like choosing between death by ingestion of used motor oil or death by drowning under an outhouse...

Geekly Humor...

Of the mathematical variety, though for most of them you really don't have to know much about math. There are some on here I didn't “get”, presumably because they're about areas of math I don't know. My favorites were the ones involving statistics. For instance:
Statistics Canada is hiring mathematicians. Three recent graduates are invited for an interview: one has a degree in pure mathematics, another one in applied math, and the third one obtained his B.Sc. in statistics.

All three are asked the same question: "What is one third plus two thirds?"

The pure mathematician: "It's one."

The applied mathematician takes out his pocket calculator, punches in the numbers, and replies: "It's 0.999999999."

The statistician: "What do you want it to be?"
Ha!

Or this one:
"Isn't statistics wonderful?"

"How so?"

"Well, according to statistics, there are 42 million alligator eggs laid every year. Of those, only about half get hatched. Of those that hatch, three fourths of them get eaten by predators in the first 36 days. And of the rest, only 5 percent get to be a year old for one reason or another. Isn't statistics wonderful?"

"What's so wonderful about all that?"

"If it weren't for statistics, we'd be up to our asses in alligators!"
Ha again! Enjoy...

Obsessed Engineer...

Simply amazing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Memo from the Queen...

Forwarded by Simi L.:
To: the citizens of the United States of America

From: Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy). Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour,' 'favour,' 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise.' Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (Look up 'vocabulary').

2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as 'like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U. S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u'' and the elimination of 'ize.'

3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not ready to shoot grouse.

5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler, although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. Australian beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie MacDowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

11. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full Kevlar body amour like a bunch of nannies).

12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the Australians first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

13. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Morning Laugh...

From my cousin Mike:
Two blind pilots were both wearing dark glasses. One is using a guide dog and the other is tapping his way along the aisle with a cane.

Nervous laughter spreads through the cabin, but the men enter the cockpit, the door closes and the engines start up. The passengers begin glancing nervously around, searching for some sign that this is just a little practical joke. None is forthcoming.

The plane moves faster and faster down the runway and the people sitting in the window seats realize they're headed straight for the water at the edge of the airport. As it begins to look as though the plane will plow into the water, panicked screams fill the cabin. At that moment, the plane lifts smoothly into the air. The passengers relax and laugh a little sheepishly and soon all retreat into their magazines, secure in the knowledge that the plane is in good hands.

In the cockpit, one of the blind pilots turns to the other and says, "Ya know, Bob, one of these days, they're gonna scream too late and we're all gonna die."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Let the Car Makers Fail...

The chart at right captures very nicely one of the major reasons that U.S. car makers are failing: the legacy labor agreements they're saddled with. The average employee at the Big 3 makes $73/hour (that's $146,000 per year!) – versus less than half that for Toyota's vastly more productive employees.

The right thing to do is to allow the U.S. auto makers to fail. They'll go into Chapter 11 bankruptcy and either shed all the baggage (like these labor agreements) that keep them from being successful, or their assets will be sold off to successful companies. Consumers will win in the long run.

Another reason U.S. car makers are failing is so obvious you'd think someone in government would figure it out: they are not building the cars that U.S. buyers want. Sales of cars built by U.S. makers have fallen dramatically more than sales of cars made by Toyota have fallen. Now legislators, surely you can imagine what the actual reason for that might be? Hint: consumers are willing to pay more for a Toyota Camry (made in the U.S., by the way) than they are for a similar car from a U.S. auto maker. Now why would that be? Could it be...that the Toyota is a better car?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Spreading the Health...

Via Jim M.

At least someone has kept their sense of humor!

Sarah and the Pope...

From my mom:
Sarah Palin is invited to meet with the Pope while he is vacationing south
of Rome in Venice.

The liberal press reluctantly watches the semi-private audience, hoping they
will be able to allot minimal coverage, if any.

The Pope asks Governor Palin to join him on a Gondola ride through the
canals of Venice.

They're admiring the sights and agreeing on moral issues when, all of a
sudden, the Pope's hat (zucchetto) blows off his head and out into the water.

The gondolier starts to reach for the Pontiff's cap with his pole, but this
move threatens to overturn the floating craft.

Sarah waves the tour guide off, saying, "Wait, wait. I'll take care of this.
Don't worry."

She steps off the gondola onto the surface of the water and walks out to the
Pope's hat, bends over and picks it up. She walks back across the water to
the gondola and steps aboard.

She hands the hat to the Pope amid stunned silence.

The next morning the topic of conversation among Democrats in Congress, CBS News, NBC News, ABC News, CNN, the New York Times, Hollywood celebrities, and in France and Germany is:

"Palin Can't Swim."
Heh! But the sad part is that this story seems entirely plausible...