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:


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.

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


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...


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


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, 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.


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.


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... 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!


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 long as there was free bread that 'the rich' were paying for.


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.

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?