Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hitched -- Now With Photos!

Tara (a family friend) was at Jim and Michelle's wedding, taking bazillions of photos. At the brunch this morning, she gave away CDs with all the photos on them, and gave me permission to put any I wanted up on the blog.

There will be more later, but here's a first taste:

From left to right, these are:
  1. Rodrigo (who gave away the bride) and Michelle, just before Rodrigo walked her down to the arbor.
  2. Jim, Frank (the minister), and Michelle, during the wedding ceremony.
  3. Karen, Michelle, Jim, and me, in one of the bazillion formal photo sessions after the ceremony.
  4. Michelle and Jim, during their first dance as a married couple.
  5. Michelle, Jim, me, and Debbie, while I was giving my toast.
As always, you can click on any of these photos to get a larger version.


Jim and Michelle are married! The ceremony (at Pine Hills Lodge, just outside of Julian) was beautiful, and the festivities carried on until way past our bedtime – we left at 9:30 PM, and many people were still there, dancing and having a good time.

This was the first time I'd ever been the “best man” for a wedding, and I really had no idea what I was expected to do. I'd been told that my job was to (a) give Michelle's wedding ring to Jim at the appropriate moment in the ceremony, and (b) to give a toast during the reception afterwards. So I thought I'd have lots of time to take photos, and I brought my camera along. But actually there were many things that the best man was supposed to do, so I ended up having very little time to take photos!

The first photo above is of Debbie and Jim. We arrived a little early, and Jim had not dressed yet. This is the last photo you'll see in which he looks anything like normal!

There were dozens of people taking bazillions of photos at the wedding. I'm sure we'll be getting lots more photos from other people, and I'll put some of them up here. Our friends Vera and Konstantin were there (with huge happy smiles the entire time), and Konstantin took lots of photos; he's already promised to send me his...

Before the ceremony, we walked through the area where it would be held. Behind Debbie you can see the arbor; that's where the actual ceremony took place. There were over a hundred guests in those chairs (and standing behind them) just a half hour after I took this picture.

Michelle's brother-in-law (Rodrigo) was the man in charge of the male half of the wedding preparations. He rounded up Jim and I, and took us off to a cabin where we made our preparations. Jim changed from his shorts and Hawaiian shirt into his suit, and Rodrigo (who is an expert on men's clothing) made sure our ties were tied correctly, that our suits were correctly assembled, and that our corsages were pinned where they were supposed to be.

Then we had a short break as we waited for the minister to show up. Here you can see Jim standing in the doorway of the cabin, looking just a little nervous and excited. The minister (Frank) arrived a couple minutes later, we all sat down in a screened porch. It turns out that Frank is interested in technology, and when he discovered that he had a couple of geeks in the room with him, he launched into a conversation about new broadband technologies for rural Internet service. That was an unexpected topic at Jim's wedding, but I think it served to relax Jim a bit...

Rodrigo came in and led us all back to the arbor for the ceremony. Jim, Frank, and I arrived at the arbor first, and then we waited for Michelle and Karen (the matron of honor) to walk down. As we waited, we noticed that a cat had joined us at the arbor. It stood right next to Jim, facing the audience, as though he fully expected to be a part of the proceedings! We heard the wedding march first, and then we saw Michelle and Karen – Michelle was beautiful, and simultaneously happy and crying. There were many tears in the audience; all happy tears. The ceremony itself was very short and simple. When the moment came for me to give Jim the ring, I had a bit of trouble getting his attention (as he was completely focused on Michelle, of course) – I had to pull on his sleeve to get him to accept it . But I don't think anyone noticed, and soon the ceremony was over – and Jim and Michelle were officially Mr. & Mrs. Barnick!

This is when things really got busy for me, and the best man duties became numerous. The photographer organized a large number of group photos, always, of course, including the bride and groom. Every time I thought she had taken the last group photo that included me, they would call me over for another one. I think there must have been at least 50 group photos that I was in. Finally they were all done...but then the photographer (Terry) wanted to take a group photo of the entire group – over a hundred people! She went up to a balcony on the second floor of the lodge, and arranged all of us below her. We all had to squeeze together tightly to fit in her picture; to get this to happen, Terry was barking out commands like a drill sergeant, rounding up people from the edges and getting everybody squished together tightly enough.

Finally all the formal photography was done, and we were ready for the reception. All of the guests went inside and were seated, and then Karen and I walked in (and were introduced by a speaker), followed by Jim and Michelle. They had their first dance together as a married couple (very cute), and then we all sat down for dinner. It was quite a scene – Jim and Michelle circulated all through the guests, who were seated at many tables. The head table had about ten people seated, including Jim and Michelle (eventually even they got to sit down!), Debbie and I, Karen, and a few other friends and family. After our dinner, the champagne was poured, and it was time for the toasts to the bride and groom. I was the first; here's what I said:
I first met Jim over thirty years ago, as we served together in the U.S. Navy – and we both still had all our hair. Through all the years since then, he's been my best and closest friend. We've shared many things – work and play, lots of laughter, a few tears...and now we're next-door neighbors out in Lawson Valley, near Jamul.

I've had the privilege of watching Jim grow from a shy, naive kid from Minnesota into an altogether admirable (if somewhat hair-challenged) man from California. I can tell you first-hand that he's had a good life, in many ways an enviable life. But until that wonderful day when Jim first met Michelle, one very important thing was always missing from my friend's life: someone to share it with.

Now, Jim knows me very well. Right about now, he's probably expecting me to say something deeply embarrassing. And you know I could! But...relax, Jim. Instead, I'm going to be serious – at least for a moment – and quote one of my heroes.

Ronald Reagan once said:

“There is no greater happiness for a man
than approaching a door at the end of a day,
knowing that someone on the other side of that door is waiting for the sound of his footsteps.”

Michelle has brought great happiness to my friend Jim, and vice versa.

So today I toast them, and offer this wish: may it always be so.
Karen spoke after me, telling all of us the story of how Jim and Michelle first met. She had us all both laughing and crying. I'll never be able to remember all she said, or do it justice – I'm hoping that someone took a video that we can post. Rodrigo took the microphone after Karen, and before he could speak, someone in the audience begged him not to make us cry any more. He didn't.

After toasts, it was time to cut the wedding cake – and then the music started, and many people got up to dance. Debbie managed to talk Jim into dancing with her, to Chubby Checkers and “The Twist.” When she finished that dance, we were ready to drive home – too much late-night partying for us old folks!

It's Sunday morning as I write this, and in just a few minutes, we're headed back up to the lodge, where Jim and Michelle are hosting a brunch for all the wedding guests.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wolf Totem

I just finished a most excellent book: Wolf Totem, by Jiang Rong, translated by Howard Goldblatt. This is (amazingly) a first novel by a Chinese writer; the writer's own experiences were the “research”. Most of the novel takes place in China of the 1960s, in the crazy days of Mao Tse Tung. The main character is a student who was forced out of the city and school to go work in the countryside. He volunteers to go to the most primitive place in all of China, to live with the nomadic Mongolian tribes who herd horses, sheep, and yaks.

As a reader, you walk away from this novel with a very detailed picture of the hard, surprisingly complex life of the Mongolian tribes. Their lives were immutably interlinked with the health of the vast Mongolian grasslands and the major creature populations it supported: humans, mice, marmots, sheep, horses, yaks, and...the awesomely fierce Mongolian wolves. Humans and wolves shared the top of the food chain, and had to stay in balance to keep the grasslands healthy. Human culture grew up around that need, with lore and custom finely honed to keep everything working.

Later in the novel, modern technology and an alien culture (the Han Chinese) moved into the grasslands, with technology and an utter disregard for maintaining the grassland habitat. The results are entirely predictable, and very sad. The novel can be read as a withering critique of the central Chinese “management” of Mongolia – which makes it all the more surprising that this book is a runaway bestseller in China, and has not been restricted by the government. In fact, this book has outsold any book ever published in China, save one: Mao's Little Red Book.

Don't miss it – it's simply wonderful.

Wedding Day...

Today my best friend is getting married, and I'm the best man. Jim and Michelle are getting married at a B&B just outside of the town of Julian, up in the mountains. It's a beautiful summer day – blue skies (a little hazy from the fires to the north of us) and not too hot. The ceremony is at 5:30, and we'll probably be there for several hours afterwards.

Blogging will be light, but tomorrow I'll post some photos and my toast to the newlyweds...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Telegram for Mr. Billary...

Your evening smile:

Thanks, SimonM!

A New Scam...

This morning I stopped to fill up my truck at the Jamul 7/11, on the corner of Steele Canyon Road and Campo Road. I started the pump, then got the squeegee and paper towels to clean my windshield and mirrors. Shortly after I started this chore, two young women approached me. I could tell from their demeanor that they were going to try to sell me something; the only question was what.

With big smiles and an earnest tone, they told me that they had the answer to the high price of oil – they could sell me the way to get 150 miles per gallon of gasoline! That's about 9 times better than my truck gets now – with gas at $4.58 a gallon, you have to admit that's an attractive pitch...

They had small plastic bottles – about the size of the liquor bottles the airlines sell you – filled with a dark green liquid. One bottle would treat one tank full of gas (they told me it didn't matter how big my gas tank was), and any vehicle that was so treated would get 150 miles per gallon for that entire tankful. All they wanted was $4.

I sent them on their way, and not in a particularly polite manner. Parasites like this really piss me off. Later, as I was completing my transaction, I watched them sell two bottles of their snake oil to other customers.

There's one born every minute. At least one.

The Rest of the Story...

Well, yesterday Debbie got her LandCruiser back from the independent repair shop. The final bill was $900, just over half the $1,700 estimate from the dealer. From everything I can tell, the workmanship was excellent – as was the communication and straight dealing.

On top of all that, the independent repair shop has a cat. That sealed the deal for Debbie !

So it's time to name names:

The dealer who gave us the outrageous quote for a simple brake job and a minor air conditioning repair (a hose): Toyota of El Cajon. We have been patronizing them for ten years, and just last year I purchased a new truck from them. I think it's fair to say that we were good customers. Were.

The independent repair shop is Rancho Jamul Auto Care, at 13975 Campo Road (State 94). Their phone number is 619/669-2848. They're between the Jamul Post Office and the feed shop, on the same side of the road. I've been driving past them for years and never even knew they were there!

My Guns Are Safe...

At least for the moment, the state or county government can't put an outright ban on guns in place, thanks to yesterday's Heller decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. So naturally my first reaction was “Hurrah!” After the warm glow of affirmed individual rights wore off, though, my next reaction was a bit different:
In other news, 5-4 was bit too close for comfort in my opinion. I was figuring on 6-3 or 7-2, honestly. Sure, this quiz was pass/fail but we were only one heart attack away, my friends. I hate to say it but that one reason is why I’ll hold my nose, get good and hammered, and pull the lever for John McCain. And I’d have to shower after that too.
What he said. It might actually be true that the single most last consequence of any Presidential election is the selection of Supreme Court justices...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

April 16, 1178 B.C., Around Noon...

That's when Odysseus returned to Penelope:
The scientists first created a rough chronology of events depicted in the "Odyssey." First, 29 days before the supposed eclipse and the massacre of the suitors, three constellations are mentioned as Odysseus sets out from the island of Ogygia, where he has spent seven years as a captive of the beautiful nymph Calypso. Odysseus is told to watch the Pleiades and late-setting Bo├Âtes and keep the Great Bear to his left. Next, five days before the supposed eclipse, Odysseus arrives in Ithaca as the Star of Dawn — that is, Venus — rises ahead of the sun.

Finally, the night before the eclipse, there is a new moon.

Also, the messenger of the gods, Hermes, is sent west to Ogygia by the king of the gods Zeus to release Odysseus and then immediately returns back east roughly 34 days before the eclipse. The researchers conjecture this trip refers to an apparent turning point of the motion of the planet Mercury. (Mercury was the Roman name for Hermes.)

Mercury completes its orbit around the sun in just roughly 88 days, compared with the year it takes Earth to do so. This means that Mercury and Earth are somewhat like two cars moving along separate lanes of a racetrack at different speeds. The effect of these motions is that Mercury occasionally appears to go backward or retrograde in the sky from our point of view, Magnasco explained. This happens for roughly three weeks at a time, about three times a year.

The scientists then searched for potential dates that satisfied all these astronomical references close to the fall of Troy, which has over the centuries been estimated to have occurred between roughly 1250 to 1115 B.C. From these 135 years, they found just one date satisfied all the references — April 16, 1178 B.C., the same date as the proposed eclipse.

Very cool!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Car Repair Blues...

We own a 1995 Toyota LandCruiser with almost 250,000 miles on it – so naturally we have more repairs these days than we did a few years ago. But yesterday Debbie got a real shock at the dealer where we've been taking our vehicles for the past 10 years or so – a routine brake maintenance job was quoted at $1,700, far more than such jobs had cost us in the past.

Debbie was very unhappy with this, but left the truck for repairs anyway. A short while later, she was talking with a friend who confirmed for her how outrageous the quote was, and told her to “Make them stop working on your truck. Take it out of the dealer and take it Dave at Jamul Auto Care.” So Debbie did exactly that, and the initial estimate from them was “less than $500.”

Our LandCruiser is down there now for repair. I'll let you know how it goes...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Quote of the Day...

Via FoxNews:
“CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of the long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.”
Spoken yesterday by James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He is the highest ranking climate scientist in our government. And he's seriously loony.

Your tax dollars at work.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Programming Languages...

Most programmers have worked with at least a few different programming languages. Those who are as ancient as I have likely worked with many. Some programmers have a nearly religious attachment to their One Right Language; others are less concerned about the language than they are about the algorithms and data structures. I'm definitely in the latter camp.

Recently I came across this web site, which attempts to rank programming languages by the number of programmers who use them – measured indirectly by the number of web searches involving them.

I was not surprised to see Java in the number one slot, nor was I surprised that C and C++ took the next two slots. This measure has those “big three” taking 50% of the total search hits. Everyday experience says this can't be far off the mark, as virtually everyone I know professionally works in one or more of these three languages.

But that is not to say this chart had no surprises for me! I was stunned to see that JavaScript ranked so low. It's almost impossible to write web applications without using JavaScript, web applications surely dominate all application development today, and yet...under 3% of the search hits involved JavaScript. I don't understand how this could be so low.

But even more stunning to me is that Delphi (which evolved from Pascal) and Pascal itself are having a bit of a resurgence in popularity. I did a lot of development in Pascal back in the '70s and '80s; it was the first high level language that I really enjoyed using (I was a real assembly language cowboy back then!). It was also my introduction to object-oriented programming (via Borland's Object Pascal). I'd never have expected them to be on the rise...

One last personal reaction: the chart makes me feel a little old, as most of the languages I've worked in aren't on the chart at all. Assembly language is gone. Remember dBase, anyone? PL/1? Pogo? B? CMSII? And yet...I've worked in 12 of the 20 languages on the chart (counting even casual encounters). Yikes!

Change You Can Be Sure Of...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Oh, Yes...

Here's some political commentary from Hollywood's past:

Hard to imagine seeing something this tasty today!

Hat tip to SimonM for reminding me of this classic – and to YouTube for making video clips so easy to find...

Origin of Corn Flakes...

Now here's something completely unexpected (to me, at least!): several now-common foods were invented for the purpose of suppressing our animal passions. One specific example: the Kellogg brothers invented corn flakes as part of a dietary program, one objective for which was to reduce masturbation and other dangerous sexual behaviors.

No, I'm not kidding. Read more here, here, and here.

I'll never be able to look at corn flakes or graham crackers the same way again!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Murtha and Haditha...

The despicable John Murtha (D) is ... categorized ... by Modern Conservative. Money quote:
Your lies greatly harmed these men, but it has not stopped the cause for which they fought, and for which their comrades fight and die.
Some assembly required.

Full Moon Blogging...

I woke up a little early this morning, about 2:30 AM, and wandered out to our livingroom to check my email. My eyes were still adapted to the darkness, but I was startled by the view out our front windows: the yard was lit up quite brightly, enough to see colors clearly (especially green, for some reason). An acacia that is about 75 feet from the house is in bloom, and the pink flowers against the dark green leaves could be seen easily.

This lighting is the combination of a beautiful full moon and a crystal-clear desert night. We've seen it many times before, but it still surprises and delights...

Now, just an hour and a half later, the moon is skimming the southern horizon. It's not really low in the sky, it's just that our southern horizon is formed by some hills, and so is quite high in the sky. Trees and shrubs are now shading almost the entire yard from the moonlight, but there's still one puddle of light on my livingroom floor, entering through a “chink” in the wall of leaves. One of our cats (Maka Lea) is playing with the spot of light, as it's moving a bit with the motion of the leaves. Cats have excellent night vision, so that spot probably looks even brighter to him than it does to me.

Another half hour and the moon will disappear from my view. But I'll be driving to work before sunrise, and I suspect I'll get a nice view of the moon setting over the Pacific. Something to look forward to on my early commute!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fire Suppression Assessment...

All of us who live or work in the San Diego Rural Fire Protection District (East Otay, Jamul, Descanso, etc.) should have received a mailer from the District by now. The flyer that comes in the mailer is titled “Fire Suppression Assessment”, and there's a mail-back ballot and envelope in there as well.

Basically this mailer is trying to sell us all on the idea of a new tax, proposed at a rate of $120 per year, per residential parcel (or a little more or less, depending on the type of parcel you have). If 50% or more of the property owners (weighted by the amount they'd pay) approve, we've got a new tax. The pamphlet uses a good portion of its ink emphasizing the limitations on how this money could be spent, and the fact that it's only authorized for 30 years.

The last few years have brought a series of wildfires to our parched area, and every property owner in the area is righteously concerned about the ability of our fire departments to suppress fires around our property. So I'm sure that everyone receiving one of these mailers is doing the same thing I've done – carefully considering whether the new tax makes sense from your personal point of view.

Here's my perspective.

The short answer: I'm voting no.

The longer answer:

There are fundamental problems with our firefighting organizations that have nothing whatever to do with money. The most significant of these issues, to me, is the patchwork-quilt nature of the dozens of organizations involved – local, municipal, county, state, and federal, with overlapping or adjoining areas of responsibility and a mish-mash of chains of command and communications. Aside from the sheer organizational madness of this in the chaos of a major fire, there's another problem: capital expenditure control. Fire fighting teams need things that are very expensive – helicopters, planes, fire trucks, fire stations, etc. By having a patchwork-quilt of organizations, the ability to raise capital in the first place is wildly variable, and of course there's no coordinated control of it. Throwing more money at one group in this disjoint mess strikes me as missing the point altogether. In the current scheme, I have no confidence at all that the money will be spent wisely, or even in a way that would benefit me.

One little nit-picky observation that inclines me to distrust the District's fiscal judgment: the one-page pamphlet is printed in full color on the front, black-and-white on the reverse. It looks like it might even have been printed on a color laser printer. However they did it, they spent thousands of dollars making it color, for no good reason. That's thousands of dollars that could have been used for something that actually would make my home safer. That's not a good example of thriftiness with my tax dollars...

Then there's the standard bureaucratic deceptions that always seem to accompany such a proposal. For starters, there's the assertion that the money can only be spent on fire suppression. This is a piece of boilerplate in assessments like this, so laughably (and demonstrably) untrue as to make you think that the bureaucrats who wrote it must all be laughing in a smoke-filled room somewhere. Three things happen to such directed funds in the real world: (1) bureaucrats often simply ignore the rules, (2) bureaucrats pull a classic bait-and-switch by changing the rules after the voters approve the new tax, and (3) the bureaucrats obey the rules, but reduce the general fund budget allocated for the same purpose, thereby freeing up $1 of general fund for every $1 of directed fund received – which is, mathematically, the exact same thing as saying that the new tax goes straight into the general fund. There are no protections against any of the three classic bureaucratic fund dodges in this code.

Then there's the assertion that this tax will last “only” 30 years. When's the last time you saw any such tax actually disappear? I'd estimate the probability of this tax disappearing at approximately zero percent. I'd estimate the chances of it being both (a) increased, and (b) extended to infinity at approximately 100%. On those grounds alone, I'm strongly inclined to say “no”.

My ballot is in today's mail, with a big, fat, “no” on it...

Monday, June 16, 2008


Debbie ran Mo'i in an agility competition in Escondido this weekend. On Sunday they double-Qd, and the Q on the standard course was the last one that Mo'i needed to get his Masters (MX) title. He's the second field spaniel ever to get that title, and because he already had his Masters Jumpers (MXJ) title, he's the first to get both!

The photo at right is an old one of him leaving a tunnel at top speed. I wasn't there on Sunday, but Debbie tells me he was a very happy dog during the run. And even happier afterwards, when he was showered with treats...

Now Debbie and Mo'i are working on the top title that any agility dog can get: the Mach. To get a Mach, a dog must have 20 double-Qs and 720 points. Right now Mo'i has 6 double-Qs and over 100 points – they're on the way!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

My father still walks this earth – a little more slowly than he used to, but still going. He's no stranger to challenges, having lived through the Great Depression, been a soldier in World War II, married for over 50 years, helped to raise a family of four children, and weathered some very tough times in his career. Through all of it that I can bear witness to, he's been steadfast, optimistic, and reliable – and full of imaginative stories, nearly always cheerful, blessed with a wonderful sense of humor, curious (and respectful of curiousity), and unreasonably encouraging to his kids.

I love him more than I can find the words to say...

My father lives some 2,500 miles away from me, so I don't get to see him as often as I'd like to. For the past few years he's been coming out to California each summer, so that he and I can take a two or three week trip together. We've had some memorable hiking and four-wheeling trips in search of wildflowers, a passion that he and I share. Several of these trips I've blogged about (to the San Juan Mountains, Big Sur, and Mt. Lassen). We'd planned a trip this year, but some medical treatments he's taking forced us to postpone it. We're hoping that either this fall or next summer he'll be well enough to take another one...

Meanwhile, today is Father's Day – a day for all children to honor and cherish their dad. In my dad's honor this year, here's one of my favorite poems about fathers:
Only A Dad

Only a dad with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame
To show how well he has played the game;
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come and to hear his voice.

Only a dad with a brood of four,
One of ten million men or more
Plodding along in the daily strife,
Bearing the whips and the scorns of life,
With never a whimper of pain or hate,
For the sake of those who at home await.

Only a dad, neither rich nor proud,
Merely one of the surging crowd,
Toiling, striving from day to day,
Facing whatever may come his way,
Silent whenever the harsh condemn,
And bearing it all for the love of them.

Only a dad but he gives his all,
To smooth the way for his children small,
Doing with courage stern and grim
The deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen:
Only a dad, but the best of men.

Edgar Guest, 1916
One of the best of men, indeed. Happy Father's Day, dad!

American Spirit...

Updated (again):

One of my commenters makes it clear I miscommunicated. When I talk below about the Iowa flooding being worse than the Katrina flooding, I don't mean the human toll (which was much worse in Katrina). I am instead talking about the actual amount of water – the flood itself.


Some excellent live flood-blogging (with video) here.

Original Post:

Unless you've been hiding under a rock somewhere, you know that Iowa is experiencing a massive flood. In fact, it's a “500 year flood” – of a size we'd expect to see only once every 500 years or so. Hundreds of square miles of land are flooded, and the flood waters are just starting to recede. Lots more photos here. The Cedar River was the worst; it crested at 32 feet over flood level. Thousands of homes were flooded, thousands of people evacuated, tens of thousands of acres of farmland were flooded and their crops ruined. By any reasonable measure, this flood was worse by far than the infamous flooding that Hurricane Katrina provoked in New Orleans, less than 1,000 miles to the south.

As if that wasn't enough, Iowa also suffered through a series of awful tornadoes in and near the flooded areas. The people of Iowa have been put through the wringer this week, that much is for certain.

Note the complete absence of whining, or reports of looting, or of screams for help from FEMA, or of complaints about inadequate federal assistance. The airwaves are not filled with pleas for donations. Not one squawk about how this is all Bush's fault. Instead (though there's little reporting of it in the mainstream lamestream media), there's a series of inspiring stories about people infused with what I'll call the “American Spirit” – the “can-do”, self-reliant attitude that launched these United States. There are many stories of people simply helping their neighbors in need, any way they can. I haven't heard a peep about Iowans believing they're victims – no crying out for help from these folks. They're just pitching in, administering first aid when needed, making sure that order prevails, and (already!) beginning the clean up and repairs. Farmers are already talking about replanting crops.

TigerHawk makes similar observations:
The thing is, though, the people of eastern Iowa seem to be stepping up in the Iowa stubborn way. I have seen any number of man-on-the-street interviews, and nobody is complaining. They all seem to be working to solve their problem, which is not surprising because Iowans do not complain about tragedy. They complain about hot weather and dry weather, but not tragedy. And I have looked for reports of looting and come up empty so far.

Katrina has become a metaphor for many things beyond natural disaster, including governmental and individual incompetence (depending on your point of view). In Iowa there is a 500 year flood, but the people are not paralyzed, whining, or looting. There will be no massive relief effort from around the world, and nobody will step up to help Iowans except for other Iowans. Yet years from now, there will be no Iowans still in FEMA camps.

The difference is not in the severity of the flood, but in the people who confront the flood.
Then over at Ace of Spades, Russ (from Winterset, Iowa – about a hundred miles from the flooding) writes this:

You may have heard that Iowa is experiencing catastrophic flooding this week. In addition to the flooding, we had a tornado on May 25 that wiped out more than half the town of Parkersburg and another tornado this last Wednesday that hit a Boy Scout campground along the Missouri River in Western Iowa, killing four scouts. The total body count of the tornados and flooding around the state has risen to 15, and we've got hundreds of millions of dollars in damage lying underneath the brown floodwaters. That's not even considering that we may lose 20% or more of the corn crop from delayed planting and some of the seeds that did manage to get planted drowning in the saturated soil. We'll soon be to the point where corn can't be replanted (it can only go so far into the fall before the frost kills it, and usually if you haven't gotten your corn in by now, you're gonna switch the ground to beans instead), and that'll throw a mother of a wrench into the corn price works.

The one thing I'm proud of right now is the absence of voices coming from my state cursing FEMA and President Bush for not "preventing" this tragedy. Compared to the opera we saw in Nawlins' in the aftermath of Katrina, it's nice to see people suck it up and get to work rebuilding their homes & businesses when Mother Nature takes a giant dump on them.


The one thing I'd like to address quickly is the NCAA track athletes who helped fill sandbags and try to save neighborhoods in Des Moines this week. Drake University in Des Moines is hosting the NCAA track & field championships this weekend, and there are literally hundreds of athletes who finished their events and immediately went down to the river to help anyway they could. We've got Northerners, Southerners, Easterners & Westerners (and Conservatives, Liberals & Libertarians, I'm sure) all pitching in to help Iowans save their homes and businesses. Next time you see some college athlete in a "revenue sport" acting like a horse's ass, remember these kids and know that not all athletes are self-centered and spoiled. I know that for every memory of a house or business befouled with floodwaters, there will be another warm memory of a stranger who showed up out of nowhere and asked "What can I do to help?" God bless 'em.

American Spirit in action. Finally, here's Kathy from the Cake Eaters Chronicles, writing about the Boy Scouts who immediately swung into action after their camp was devastated by a tornado:
While the whole thing is just horrible, I have to think that if it was a pottery camp organized by Kumbaya-singing hippies, things might have been much, much worse. They probably would have had the kids out on the front porch, to witness the awesomeness of Mother Nature, and there probably would have been more casualties and more deaths. If you go up to either of those news links, you will view interviews with many scouts who were there, and the common thread was yes, we found shelter, we prayed to God to spare us, then when the storm passed, we were on our feet with our First Aid kits at the ready and started applying pressure to bleeding wounds, and started digging out people who were crushed by walls, ceilings and debris. A few kids even broke into a shed where there was an ATV and chainsaws and went out to the main road and started clearing up the fallen trees so that the emergency vehicles could get in to help the wounded. How amazing is that? The majority of these kids are under the age of fifteen and they had the presence of mind to deliver first aid and to make sure that ambulances could get in? That's freakin' phenomenal. When most kids their age would be running around like headless chickens, crying and screaming for the benefit of the cameras, these young men were doing what needed to be done, and I have no doubt there would have been more fatalities if not for their swift action.
Her post is much longer and covers several related topics; read the whole thing here.

Unlike Michelle Obama, I've been proud of America for a long time. Unlike the aftermath of the Katrina disaster, the stories coming out of the American heartland's awful floods are a good example of the source of my pride.

I made a donation to the Boy Scouts of Cedar Rapids this morning. They are already at work, helping their neighbors. Though they haven't asked for any additional help, I'm certain they'll put it to good use. There won't be any stories of wanton waste and massively stupid relief efforts from that quarter...

A Day at the Flag Shop...

Never let it be said that the Germans can't poke a little fun at themselves – and the Palestinians at the same time...


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Beauty Before Common Sense...

Here's an example of the weighty matters our U.S. Congressman choose to spend their time on:
Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner, a 43-year-old bachelor, has proposed legislation giving international beauties their own U.S. visa category, rather than have them compete with computer analysts and scientists for the non-immigrant H-1B visa for skilled professionals.
Congressman Anthony Weiner (D), at your service.

Some assembly required.

Boumediene, Part II...

Beldar is dead on target:

The Supreme Court ruled today that terrorists who are citizens of foreign countries, who have never set foot within the United States, and who have systematically forfeited all the protections of the organized laws of warfare that would entitle them to be treated as prisoners of war, are, when captured on foreign battlefields by the U.S. military, nevertheless entitled to access to the federal court system of the United States — in most essential respects, exactly as if they were lawful, taxpaying citizens born here, raised here, and arrested here by the domestic police for alleged crimes committed here.

If Osama bin Laden, wearing no uniform, surrounded by children as human shields, and in mid-stroke while he's sawing the head off a captured American nurse, is captured by American soldiers tomorrow in Pakistan or Afghanistan, then his rights to use the federal writ of habeas corpus to guarantee him the protections afforded by the United States Constitution will be, so far as I can determine, indistinguishable from my own if I were arrested at my home by the Houston Police Department on a warrant for overdue parking tickets.

The Supreme Court has so ordered notwithstanding the fact that the people's lawful representatives — through statutes passed by their Congress, and signed into law by their president — had otherwise decreed. Instead, five members of the Supreme Court have set themselves up above the rest of the people and government of the United States of America, and they have proclaimed that even acting together, the Congress and president lack the constitutional power to make other provisions for these foreign barbarians and monsters captured on foreign battlefields while trying to destroy America and everything related to it.
He concludes with this:

This decision is a disgrace and a travesty. It's awful law and even more disastrous policy. It's the single worst decision of the United States Supreme Court in my lifetime, and quite arguably its worst in American history. It can't be sugar-coated. It can't be minimized. In all probability, it can only be thoroughly undone by a constitutional amendment, or by a pronounced change in the membership of the Court that will deprive the liberal wing of a crucial fifth vote in such cases and open the possibility of this decision being overruled.


Our enemies will never defeat us. We have the power to defeat ourselves, however, and today's decision by the Supreme Court is a terrible, tragic step toward such a defeat. What will you do in November? Will you help accelerate these judicial power-grabs? Or will you help reverse them?

His point is exactly in line with my own feelings on the matter: Boumediene looks a lot like a European-style societal suicide. The decision is a horrifying example of one of the few real consequences of electing a liberal President: they get to appoint the Supreme Court justices.

Read the whole thing.

HMS Ontario ... Found!

The HMS Ontario was a British frigate operating on the Great Lakes in the Revolutionary War. It never saw action, but on October 17, 1780 it sank in a gale on Lake Ontario, and all on board were lost (a crew of 40 Canadians, about 60 Redcoats, and 30 or so American prisoners of war). A few pieces of wreckage were recovered, and a few bodies – but for more than 200 years there hasn't been any trace of it.

Archaeologists, scientists, and shipwreck enthusiasts have been searching for the HMS Ontario's grave ever since it sank. Until just a few days ago, none of them have had any success. Jim Kennard and Dan Scoville, two well-known shipwreck enthusiasts, have found the HMS Ontario – in remarkably good condition, fully intact and upright in about 500 feet of water.

Here's an article about their find, another here, and this site has some photos of the actual shipwreck. Hats off to these two intrepid amateurs – what a find!

The Amazing HiRISE...

I've written several times about the HiRISE camera system on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter robotic explorer that's orbiting Mars. The photo at right (click to enlarge) is one that it took recently. There are thousands of photos like this on the HiRISE web site, available for all to peruse. I have spent hours just staring at the amazingly detailed views of Mars – a destination that seemed so exotic and impossible when I was a kid, and now our robotic emissaries are exploring it almost routinely.

In this one photo you can see fantastical terracing (through wind erosion, I presume), sand dunes on the bottoms of the old craters, and a small, fresh crater (bluish gray in the lower left) with ejecta splashed on the surrounding terrain. Strange bumps and valleys dot the landscape. In a few places you can see tracks from falling boulders or perhaps landslides. The terrain on Mars is much more varied than I'd have guessed – if you look at a few dozen HiRISE photos, you'll see what I mean – there's little commonality from one area to another...

The photo at right is also by HiRISE, but of a very different kind than it usually takes. First, the “look angle” is very oblique – normally HiRISE looks almost straight down at the surface. The purpose for this oblique look is also unusual: the researchers were trying to capture the Phoenix Lander while it was still in the atmosphere, under its parachute, headed for its landing – and they succeeded! Click to enlarge the photo to see what I mean...

Sunrise Over Lawson Valley...

Summertime each year brings us a special treat – beautiful sunrises that fill our windows. This is what we saw just before 5 AM this morning...

The reason summertime is different is that our windows face north, and in the summer, the sun rises far more to the north than in the rest of the year, when it rises mostly in the east. We have no windows in our house facing east, and there are trees and mountains between us and the easter morning skies – so Mother Nature doesn't give us a morning show until the summer.

I was outside just before sunrise this morning, working away on whacking down the weeds. This time of year, it's mainly mustard (with a few filary left to irritate me). I expected to be limited in my “outside time” by the heat – the forecast calls for near 90° heat today. But while it was still cool outside, something else drove me indoors: deer flies. Big, biting flies that we only get sporadically on very quiet days. I finally gave up when I was getting bitten at the rate of about once per 30 seconds; I just couldn't stand it anymore!

The photo at right (click on either one to enlarge them) was taken perhaps five minutes after the photo above, zoomed in to show the detail within the cloud. The early morning's near-horizontal rays greatly accentuate the texture within the clouds...

An aside on the photography: since my main computer is now a Mac, I was faced with a dilemma – should I purchase a second copy of PhotoShop for the Mac (hundreds of dollars), or should I try to use one of the open source photo editors (free)? This is a question that's unfortunately much more difficult than just the price: I have spent over a decade using PhotoShop, and I've become reasonably compentent with it. Photo editors, perhaps especially PhotoShop, have a well-deserved reputation for being difficult and counter-intuitive to use. Spending a lot of time learning a new application was not an attractive thought, so this was not a decision I took lightly. In the end, I decided to try the most famous of the open source photo editors: The Gimp. Short result: I'm glad I did – it's a perfectly usable photo editor, and (for me, at least) remarkably easy to learn how to use. It's missing some features I used in PhotoShop, but this is more than compensated for by some features it has that PhotoShop doesn't, and the fact that it is free.

This marks a milestone for me: PhotoShop was the last significant piece of commercial software (other than the operating system itself) that was part of my normal working set of software. I now use free open source software for nearly everything I do. There's really only one piece of commercial software that I have yet to find a good substitute for: Visio. But my use of Visio doesn't justify buying it, so I make do with functionally inferior open source subtitutes (most recently Open Office's “Draw”).

As for the operating system... If my choices today were limited to Windows Vista and Linux, I'd pick Linux. However, happily for me there is another choice: the Mac's OS/X, and that's now my operating system of choice (for a workstation or laptop, that is)...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Free Speech Forecast...

England is a few years ahead of the U.S. in the multi-cultural movement. Here's a peek at what we're likely to be dealing with a few years from now:

In February this year, Christian evangelists Arthur Cunningham and Joseph Abraham were doing what Christian evangelists do: handing out Bible extracts. They were stopped by a representative of the law, threatened with arrest if they carried on preaching in “a Muslim area,” and warned that they might get beaten up if they came back.

Where did this incident take place? Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Pakistan, where Christian preaching is forbidden and apostates persecuted? No, this “Muslim area” was in Alum Rock, Birmingham, England. That’s right — England, cradle of free speech; England, a country with an established, if enfeebled, Church, and where seventy-five percent of citizens (at the 2001 census) describe themselves as Christian. The man who stopped the evangelists, calling their preaching a “hate crime,” was Naeem Naguthney, a police community support officer (PCSO), and a Muslim. Granted, a PCSO is not a full police officer, and has only limited powers of law enforcement. But which law was he enforcing? It looks suspiciously like Sharia.

I'm no fan of Christian evangelists – I run them off my property at every opportunity, as I would a Muslim or Jewish or Hindu proselytizer. But I am a big fan of free speech in public places, and that's what this is all about. We see it starting to happen here in the U.S. already, especially on college campuses, where a “right to not be offended” is being invented...


The best short analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court's Boumediene decision I've seen is by Scott Johnson at Power Line. There's no reasonable way to excerpt it – you'll just have to go read the whole (short) thing...

Geekly Humor...

Here's a very entertaining (in a geeky sort of way) collection of 101 quotes related to computers and programming. A few samples:
I've noticed lately that the paranoid fear of computers becoming intelligent and taking over the world has almost entirely disappeared from the common culture. Near as I can tell, this coincides with the release of MS-DOS.
Larry DeLuca

Microsoft has a new version out, Windows XP, which according to everybody is the 'most reliable Windows ever.' To me, this is like saying that asparagus is 'the most articulate vegetable ever.'
Dave Barry

The most amazing achievement of the computer software industry is its continuing cancellation of the steady and staggering gains made by the computer hardware industry.
Henry Petroski

It has been said that the great scientific disciplines are examples of giants standing on the shoulders of other giants. It has also been said that the software industry is an example of midgets standing on the toes of other midgets.
Alan Cooper

There are only two industries that refer to their customers as 'users'.
Edward Tufte

Computer science education cannot make anybody an expert programmer any more than studying brushes and pigment can make somebody an expert painter.
Eric Raymond

First, solve the problem. Then, write the code.
John Johnson

PHP is a minor evil perpetrated and created by incompetent amateurs, whereas Perl is a great and insidious evil perpetrated by skilled but perverted professionals.
Jon Ribbens

If Java had true garbage collection, most programs would delete themselves upon execution.
Robert Sewell

If debugging is the process of removing bugs, then programming must be the process of putting them in.
Edsger W. Dijkstra

Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live.
Martin Golding

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Simulating Q & A...

Here's some pointed commentary on Bush's lame “stimulus package”:
This year, taxpayers will receive an Economic Stimulus Payment. This is a very exciting new program that I will explain using the Q and A format:

Q. What is an Economic Stimulus Payment?
A. It is money that the federal government will send to taxpayers.

Q. Where will the government get this money?
A. From taxpayers.

Q. So the government is giving me back my own money?
A. Only a smidgen.

Q. What is the purpose of this payment?
A. The plan is that you will use the money to purchase a high-definition
TV set, thus stimulating the economy.

Q. But isn't that stimulating the economy of China and Japan?
A. Shut up.
Tip o' the hat to Simi L...

Phoenix Update...

Phoenix – the little lander that could – is working away on the surface of Mars. A few days ago it scooped up some Martian dirt and tried to deliver it to one of the instruments on board, but ran into an unexpected problem: the dirt was very “clumpy” and refused to enter the pencil-lead sized container for the instrument's sample. The soil just sat on top of a screen intended to keep large particles out of the instrument.

The photo at right (click to enlarge) shows the clumpy dirt in the scoop. It looks to me almost like damp soil, though in the thin and dry Martian atmosphere this can't be the real explanation. The project scientists are trying to figure out what the actual source of the clumpiness is. The photo shows a test of a different way of delivering the dirt to the instrument: they tried vibrating the scoop (using a motorized rasp that's attached to the back of it) to see if that would help the soil more gracefully exit the scoop. Looks like this worked.

Meanwhile, the initial sample of soil delivered a few days ago decided to drop through the screen and into the intrument, to the delight of the project science team. They're not sure exactly why this happened – it could be all the vibrating that they've been doing, or it could be simply that the soil's characteristics changed after a few days in the sun. Whatever the reason, the team now has a sample in the instrument, and they have begun analyzing it. This is one of the key experiments on the lander, so I'm sure there are big sighs of relief being heard right about now...

The photo at right shows the two trenches that Phoenix has dug so far: “Dodo” on the left, and “Baby Bear” on the right (click to enlarge). Both trenches show whitish areas that are likely either ice or salts of some kind – with any luck at all, the sample currently being analyzed will give us a clue which it is.

So far the Phoenix lander has had zero technology problems – a very impressive achievement for NASA. For about the same price as delivering a pizza to the International Space Station...

Drill! Drill! Drill!

That's the title of Daniel Henninger's latest column in the WSJ. Here's his lead:

Charles de Gaulle once wrote off the nation of Brazil in six words: "Brazil is not a serious country." How much time is left before someone says the same of the United States?

One thing Brazil and the U.S. have in common is the price of oil: It is priced in dollars, and everyone in the world now knows what the price is. Another commonality is that each country has vast oil reserves in waters off their coastlines.

Here we may draw a line in the waves between the serious and the unserious.

Brazil discovered only yesterday (November) that billions of barrels of oil sit in difficult water beneath a swath of the Santos Basin, 180 miles offshore from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. The U.S. has known for decades that at least 8.5 billion proven barrels of oil sit off its Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts, with the Interior Department estimating 86 billion barrels of undiscovered oil resources.

When Brazil made this find last November, did its legislature announce that, for fear of oil spills hitting Rio's beaches or altering the climate, it would forgo exploiting these fields?

Of course it didn't. Guilherme Estrella, director of exploration and production for the Brazilian oil company Petrobras, said, "It's an extraordinary position for Brazil to be in." Indeed it is.

At this point in time, is there another country on the face of the earth that would possess the oil and gas reserves held by the United States and refuse to exploit them? Only technical incompetence, as in Mexico, would hold anyone back.

But not us. We won't drill.

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Great Newspaper Headlines...

Take a look over here for a great collection of newspaper headlines, all with photos to prove their authenticity. Here are a few more samples:
Volunteers search for old Civil War planes
Meeting on open meetings is closed
Federal Agents Raid Gun Shop, Find Weapons

Drill Here, Drill Now...

Newt Gingrich is working hard to get oil drilling opened up in America's gigantic oil reserves, and sooner rather than later. His starting point is a petition campaign – please sign up.

Now, dammit!

And then pass that link along to everyone you know – let's send an overwhelmingly obvious message to our elected morons Senators and Representatives. They tend not to understand anything that's even slightly subtle...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pandering Ponders...

This morning's news brings two more stories about political pandering to the public's apparent belief that high oil prices are caused by the evil big oil companies: first there's Harry Reid (D) and Richard Durbin (D) wanting to tax alleged “windfall profits” at the oil companies, and then there's Maria Cantwell (D) and Chucky Schumer (D) who'd like to make U.S. commodity futures markets uncompetitive (compared with, for example, Dubai's markets).

I wonder first whether the American electorate is actually as stupid as these politicians would have us believe. For instance, do Americans really believe that a profit of between 6% and 8% is outrageously high? There are many examples of big companies that make far higher profits than that – Microsoft, for example. The oil companies are actually making very modest profits (by any rational perspective) on very large revenues, which means that the profit expressed in dollars is very large. And the attack on the commodities future markets (which are all about price discovery and speculation, which – contrary to some assertions – is most certainly not a dirty word!) is a classic case of shoot-the-messenger. The speculators are no more responsible for the high prices than I am responsible for Ted Kennedy's brain tumor.

The actual cause of our current high oil prices is obvious to anyone with even the most basic understanding of capitalism and free markets. Hopefully that includes most Americans over the age of 6 or 7. The cause is that demand exceeds supply. The answer is equally obvious (and it's the same answer for every such price rise, no matter what the product is): increase the supply. And the oil companies have been patiently explaining to Congress, for the past 40 years, precisely how the supply could be increased: remove the regulations that forbid the oil companies from exploring and drilling – regulations that Congress themselves imposed.

If a windfall tax is enacted, the results are very easy to predict. Investors in oil companies will move their money to other, more profitable ventures (like Microsoft). Oil companies will have to find more expensive sources of capital. This will make exploration and drilling less attractive, and the oil companies will do less of it. We will buy more foriegn oil. Supply will be reduced further, and prices will go up. Not down, you flippin' (mostly D) idiots in Congress – but up.

If the commodity markets here are over-regulated and thereby made more expensive, the commodity traders will instantly move to other markets. The exchanges in places like Dubai, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur will be beside themselves with glee, laughing all the way to the bank. They'll be laughing because we handed them all the highly profitable trading business for no reason at all, a totally senseless and moronic self-inflicted wound that will kill a large American business (commodities exchanges) and do absolutely nothing to help oil prices.

The rest of the world no longer looks to America for economic leadership. They look to us for economic entertainment.

Stupid politician (but then I repeat myself).
Some assembly required...


John Hinderaker (at Power Line) agrees with me – and has a brilliant idea.

We're Back!

It was a great business trip, and a very nice visit with my folks. Also a reminder (as if I needed any!) of one of the 10,458 reasons why I don't live in New Jersey anymore: temperatures in the high 90s, with 100% relative humidity. In other words, thick hot air and lots of sweat. Everywhere. The airport on Sunday was just awful – hordes of miserable, cranky people, and none of them looking their best...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Phoenix is Trenching...

The Phoenix lander on Mars has begun its primary science mission. One element of that mission includes digging a trench into the Martian soil, looking for water ice or other evidence of past water. Just an inch or so down, it has uncovered a bright white layer – most likely either water ice or salts deposited by evaporating water (clearly visible in the photo at right). Further investigations will determine which it is. In either case, it's what the scientists sent Phoenix to Mars to find, so they are elated with this early success.

You go, little lander!

Hubris and Humility...

Here are a couple of clips from Senator Obama's victory speech:

... I face this challenge with profound humility and knowledge of my own limitations...

Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that, generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless … this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal … this was the moment when we ended a war, and secured our nation, and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.

If Americans can elect a President this full of himself and this empty of substance ... then we deserve every consequence.

Isn't the proclamation of your own “profound humility” profoundly unhumble (not to mention unbecoming)?

And surely his hubris in making such a forthright declaration that he will heal the planet and stop the oceans from rising reaches a new high-water mark for any politician's hubris ... an accomplishment of sorts that is really quite remarkable.

Our choice on the upcoming election is not what we'd hope for. It's not a difficult choice between the best of two candidates. It is instead a difficult choice of which one is worse (so you can vote for the other one).


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Election Results...

After reading quickly through the California and San Diego election results, here's some quick reactions:
  • Propositions 98 and 99: big disappointment, though I can't say it's a surprise. The developers and cities put on a big, slick, and persuasive advertising campaign that bet on the public not even bothering to read the analysis on the ballot pamphlet – and they won their bet handily.
  • San Diego mayor: Sanders wins, no runoff. The best of an unimpressive field won.
  • San Diego city attorney: Aguirre and Goldsmith are headed for a runoff, and Goldmith had a very strong showing. My bet would be that many of the challengers not making the runoff will throw their support to Goldsmith; the incumbent (Aguirre) has made a lot of enemies. Peters and Maienschein – two of the city council members closely associated with the city's pension fund disaster – both had very weak showings. This is a welcome gust of sanity from the voters.
  • San Diego city council seats: these surprised me in a positive way. One reformer (Carl DeMaio) won outright, three other reformers are headed for runoffs with strong showings. We just might endup up throwing the bums off the council (meaning: the candidates supported by the city employees unions might lose, or at least enough of them so that the unions lose their strangehold on the council). Good.
  • Duncan D. Hunter wins the Republican nomination to succeed his dad. Excellent.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Light Blogging Alert!

I'm on the road to visit a large customer, in a place that I didn't think I'd ever visit voluntarily: West Orange, New Jersey. On Thursday evening, I'm driving down to south Jersey to visit with my folks. Between now and then, expect light blogging, as I will be very busy...

Dog Found!

I got this email from Amber and Lyndsay at Steele Canyon Veternarian Clinic:
We found a dog over Memorial Day weekend on Hillside in Jamul. It is a female poodle mix. Please call Steele Canyon Vet Clinic at 619-669-7274.
If you know anyone who's missing a dog, please let them know about this post...

The Navy Invented Sex!

A Marine and a sailor were sitting in a bar one day arguing over which was the superior service.

After a swig of beer the Marine says, 'Well, we had Iwo Jima.'

Arching his eyebrows, the sailor replies, 'We had the Battle of Midway.

'Not entirely true', responded the Marine. 'Some of those pilots were Marines, in fact, Henderson Field on Guadalcanal was named after a Marine pilot killed at the Battle of Midway.'

The sailor responds, 'Point taken.'

The Marine then says, 'We Marines were born at Tunn Tavern!'

The sailor, nodding agreement, says, 'But we had John Paul Jones.'

The argument continued until the sailor comes up with what he thinks will end the discussion. With a flourish of finality he says...... 'The Navy invented sex!'

The Marine replies, 'That is true, but it was the Marines who introduced it to women.'