“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”


"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Peculiar Problems

One of the goals of my mini "dad-cation" this week & last has been to finally finish a few of the miniatures & models I've had sitting about. "All of them" is an impossible task, but at least a few!

Miniatures were last week & went successfully with five completed just in time for game night.

So today I've dedicated myself to two models which are about 90% done, really just needing the painting & detail work to get wrapped up. If I can knock them both out in the next three days I'll be thrilled - since they've both been "in progress" for at least two years...

But, it's led to the peculiar problem of things like "Now which particular green paint did I use on that panel there??? And where is it in my box???"

I suppose there are much worse issues.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sod it all

Here's my controversial statement re: Afghanistan.

To hell with them.

We've spent ten years doing our best to help the country; not counting the events of the 80's and the untold billions in aid monies etc. - lives of our men and women sacrificed in a land far from home.

And now, when some prisoners were using Koran copies to write and pass messages, the guards destroyed those Korans in a way accepted by Islam, the populace wants to take out their fury on innocents again - shooting, bombing and otherwise harming those who volunteered to protect and help them?

I say done with them all - completely and totally. Pack everything up, leave by the closest exit and tell them we're not coming back. Make it or fail on your own, since you obviously can't make it with the grownups. Hell, include Pakistan in the same declaration & leave them both to rot.

There's a time to help other countries and a time to take care of our own. They've had their chance.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Act of Valor

Pre-review disclaimer: I am not a SEAL - and am not representing myself as such. However, I did spend the majority of my military time in SEAL units working directly with these men, both in and out of combat. I still have a great many friends in the Teams and other members of the community. So, my comments are based on my own background and experiences, and may differ from that of others...

***
As I said last night - wow. This movie is one of the first in a long time to really blow me away like that. I had planned to see it since I heard it announced, and made it a date night with my wife - even though she initially wasn't interested in it (beyond a night without the kids). As she had been with me for a number of my years around the community, there were people in the film we both recognized from the past - kind of an interesting thing. But yes, I came out of it affected by memories and the past.

For those who aren't aware of the film background, this started as an intended recruiting film for the Teams; it then morphed into a full feature film. The primary "actors" are all active-duty SEALs, and the movie was filmed with the full cooperation of the U.S. Navy. The various components of the story are all based on actual missions from the recent years, which have been melded into an overall plot for movie purposes.

Don't go to this film if you're expecting Oscar-winning dialogue, great character development, a romantic sub-plot or anything of the sort - that's not what you're going to get.

Do go to this film if you'd like to finally see what small-unit forces experience and act like.

You won't get your cookie-cutter "disaffected loner," "conflicted soldier," or "token red-shirt/minority/comic relief."

You'll get to see real people, taking the time to give you a glimpse into the world they live in every day. Showing you just a bit of what it's like to say goodbye to your loved ones, closing a door both physically and mentally, and going away to war.

Those of you with backgrounds anywhere near Special Operations are going to recognize certain behaviors and tactics right away. You're going to see people using weapons like they know what they're doing. Real room entries, reloads, and all that other stuff. The things I spotted which I know are different were obvious changes for the sake of operational security. But I also saw stuff shown on camera that fifteen years ago we couldn't even talk about - so it was interesting to see the change in public exposure.

For any combat veterans - you may find a few scenes intense. Not overwhelmingly so, but there were a couple of points where the camera work and noise finally approached a fraction of what things are really like - hard to do in a theater. The violence of action isn't glossed over, but it isn't glorified either. Good guys and bad guys both bleed and don't bounce back from injuries.

I only spotted one glaring technical error in the whole thing - and it was from the bomb tech side of things, and something even most SEALs wouldn't be aware of. Even then, I can't say for sure it wasn't made deliberately as a security issue or movie moment. For a movie dealing with this sort of thing that's nothing short of amazing.

The only two "critiques" I have are pretty simple. I would have liked to have seen more of their "normal" lives - tell us a bit more about who these guys are and how they got here. We get a couple of glimpses of the fact these are men with families and homes, but I think it would remind viewers even more that our military men and women are people just like them. The other thing is that there were a few scenes in which the various "toys" or insertion techniques were pretty obviously used as just taking another moment to show off all the neat stuff. From a recruiting standpoint - cool; from a necessary standpoint not so much. Really that's it.

The final bit was absolutely wonderful in terms of respect and honor. The filmmakers took the time to dedicate the movie to those SEALs who have fallen in the war on terror, and to list everyone by name. Yes, I teared up seeing the names of several friends. The entire audience was nothing but respectful during this moment as well.

So, without going on any further, let me just say - go see this movie. Take the time and see and realize what these men, and those like them, do to keep us free.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wow

Go see Act of Valor.

I'll write more on it later - I have to think some stuff through and recover tonight.

But trust me on this one.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

Goodbyes

Just found out another old friend passed away. A guy I grew up with, my first roommate & a coworker for several years - pretty much 8 years of my life that we spent in near-constant contact.

Years of gaming at least three nights a week. Exploring what passed for ethnic cuisine in West Texas at the time. Trips to the range, or just going for drives and bs'ing late at night. Acting or working backstage in plays; television production and years of shared stories. I've never met anyone else who could do a perfect Don Quixote while drunk, and the few times we ventured into traditional parties were just as epic as everything else. We shared fun & lessons in learning about life, the real world and all that other stuff - all while never abandoning our other dreams.

Come time we didn't so much go our separate ways as paths - he stuck around where his career was progressing, and I headed off to the military and my job here. But we still stayed in touch, swapping notes and brief updates here & there and venturing into those "someday we need to get together" comments.

Unfortunately we'll never have that chance again.

Goodbye my friend - I'm proud to have known you. You were a great friend, and always joyful in life. I know I'm not alone in treasuring the memories and smiles you brought to those around you. The world is a bit darker without you in it.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I have not been assimilated!

So recently I've been in the market for a new tablet... the old laptop was starting to have a few too many issues & I have been wanting something a bit more portable.

I'd looked at the iPad but it just wasn't quite hitting what I wanted in terms of replacing a laptop - great for portable stuff, but not so much for file downloads, word processing etc. I thought I found what I wanted when I looked at a couple of the Android tablets as well, with some offerings that had keyboard docks and such as well.

Well, my wife had also been needing a new laptop to replace her old one which had seen much use and abuse particularly with the munchkins. As she is a die-hard Mac user, I picked her up a Macbook Air for Valentines Day this year as a surprise and let her start moving everything over.

Unfortunately I then started playing with it some as well. The size is nice & convenient, it works as a laptop but turns on & off quickly & isn't burdened with too much bloatware. Good battery life, and seemed to hit all the checkmarks I was looking for. It manages to do what I want from both sides without being too big to carry around.

Then yesterday I managed to fall into a deal on another one. So, despite my years of giving her grief as one of the collective (she's not, but it's funny anyways) - now I have one of the Apple computers too. Don't worry, I'm still employed, have no plans to start hanging out at any Occupy movements or coffee shops, and still use my PC as well - but it does appear this thing will be rather useful.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cleanup etc.

Did a cleanup of the blogrolls etc - if you haven't posted in over a year I pulled it...

If there's anyone who has moved their site, or who wants a link please let me know & I'll be happy to update things.

Other than that, enjoying a nice day of cleaning around the house. Snowpocalypse 2012 is due tomorrow, but we shall see...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fighting the urge...

More and more I wish I could use a clue-bat (preferably formed from a rolled-up copy of the Constitution) the various idiots who call 911, wasting our time & everyone else's, and asking us to violate someone else's rights because they find something bothersome or offensive.

"You need to stop this car/person walking/stranger because I've never seen them before and they look suspicious."

"OMG, I saw a man with a gun in a holster at the store, do something!"

"There are people riding their motorcycles on their own property and I don't think they're being safe about it."

"I saw so-and-so do something wrong three weeks ago, why can't you just go arrest them for it now?"

Ad nauseum... An endless parade of Nosy Nellies who think it's not only their job to worry about your business, but also a requirement to direct their own personal police force to Make Things Right.

And the two biggest ironies - #1, these are the same ones who would go nuts in a heartbeat if you suggested doing the same prying into their own lives (and don't see the hypocrisy of asking you to violate someone else's protections;) and #2, have absolutely no grasp of the fact that for every moment the police spend having to deal with this crap, we are unable to deal with a true emergency. And, even worse, you get those young, stupid, or just over-zealous officers who then mentally make the BAD jump to thinking they CAN do this crap - and then we're stuck looking worse and trying to fix their mess.

Rant off...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Art doesn't imitate life, it copies it!

OK - first enjoy today's User-Friendly strip:


Now I told you that, to tell you this...

Way-back-when in my misbegotten but enjoyable youth I was at a particular military training school doing lots of fun things. As part of the training phase we were in there was a great deal of PT (physical training), swimming, running and the sort - to include twice-weekly trips around a very challenging obstacle course. One of the obstacles on said course was a suspended cargo net about 40 feet high or so - you climbed up one side, went over the top & down the other. As obstacles go it wasn't particularly challenging (unless one had a fear of heights,) and it was early enough in the course you normally weren't too burnt out yet to have any issues on it.

I said "normally".

One day in particular we just weren't having fun. I don't know if it was just a mood, if we were really all that screwed up as the instructors claimed or what - but we must have done that course ten times at least - at the tail end of an already long day. Quite frankly, as a class we were spent. And we get told "Do it again, right this time!" as we all line up for another go.

So, one of our officers in the class starts his go - first few obstacles aren't a problem, then he hits the cargo net... and about 3/4 of the way up his arms just completely give out on him. Yep, he falls - and when he lands it isn't even anything close to graceful, it's a purely horizontal back-flop onto the sand. I swear I heard the impact from the other side of the course & it looked like something out of a Roadrunner/Coyote cartoon.

Miraculously, he then manages to get up and stagger to the side - no broken bones, just some really, really nice bruises and pulled muscles...

(honestly, I AM approaching the point here)

So - everyone, instructors included, is more or less speechless at this point. We're all stunned by what we witnessed, amazed he's alive, and not even sure what is going to happen next.

And - before I can think about where we are, the instructors who are listening, or any common sense, I blurt out while looking at him "Damn Ensign XXX - we're going to have to call you HANO from now on - High Altitude, No Opening." The only reason I lived is the instructors all thought it was hilarious too.

Now, I have it on good authority that nickname stuck with him for the remainder of his military career. I'd like my royalties now that it's in comics please!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Full day

- Mostly recovered from the weekend of almost-death - plenty of rest helped out, along with the meds.

- Even managed to get in for a full day's work. Started out with the annual K9 recertification for the dog & I - fortunately he does all the work & I just have to keep up! Then I had to take care of a bunch of administrative stuff which got put on hold last week with me being out-of-sorts. Wrapped it up with getting things set for a full day of teaching tomorrow.

- Came home & took the family out for a yummy barbecue meal - first good appetite I've had in a week, plus I wanted out of the house, and I figured we all deserved it.

Now the kids are in bed, house cleaned, and time for the wife and I to enjoy a quiet evening.

It doesn't have to be exciting to be good.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

When am I?

Ummmm let's see... the calendar thingy is on Saturday, but that doesn't feel right... my poor wife has a look of suffering which implies I've been MIA again... yeah, the past few days have been rough.

After struggling the past month to kick a case of the crud which came home with the kids, this week was taking a decided turn for the worse. As it progressed things started to get more & more out of focus with reality (not really a good thing when trying to work at my job), and I reached the point of saying "ummm maybe I'll go get checked out."

So - off to the Doc-In-A-Box I went, which was an exercise in fun all on its lonesome as I examined the "waiting room from Darwin's rejects" for a couple of hours. Once I finally got in to see the doctor & explained what was going on, a quick examination then turned into a very solidly delivered twenty minute lecture on "you should have come in sooner, don't let it wait so long next time, you should know better" etc. - sinus, ear, respiratory infection and all the associated joys.

After picking up the antibiotics I've spent a good chunk of the past two days in bed, with brief bouts of consciousness and lucidity. I think everything is finally clearing up, which will be a relief to my poor mistreated wife who's been stuck with the munchkins, animals and house all week & minimal support from me. Plus, I have a stack of things this high which I needed to get done for work & that are still waiting...

* * *

We're currently experiencing our first snow of the season (February no less) - almost a blizzard in nature out there... Makes me very glad I'm not working tonight, as the roads and drivers will be nuts.

* * *

And, while I was out of things, it appears that not one but two people went and honored me with an award:




My thanks to Shepherd K and My Daily Kona both for the thought and honor - the delay in response wasn't intentional rudeness!

1) Copy and Paste the award on your blog.
2) Link back to the blogger who gave the award.
3) Pick out five favorite bloggers with less than 200 followers and leave them a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
Tough for me to pick five, and then to pick five who don't have 200 followers, and then to pick five who don't have 200 followers who weren't already nominated! But here's a go at it:

Daddy Bear's Den - even though he was Army, and in Germany.... but seriously - good stuff from another former military guy of my generation.

Egalitarian Misogynistic Rightwing Liberal Anarchistic Screeds
- author Mike Williamson's blog for various thoughts.

Lagniappe's Lair - Former cop, dog lover, shooter - what's not to like?

Old Enough to Know Better - author Steve Perry. Interesting reads on life, martial arts, writing and society.

The Transmogrifier Files
- My reminder that teaching and police work share many of the same customers.

Monday, February 6, 2012

This sums up how much I care...



I also don't mind that the DUI hunt was unsuccessful - it implies that more people were using designated drivers or staying someplace safe, which is always good.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Tools Simply Explained

DRILL PRESS:

A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, denting the freshly-painted project which you had carefully set in the corner where nothing could get to it.

WIRE WHEEL:

Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light . Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned calluses from fingers in about the time it takes you to say, 'Oh shit!'

SKILL SAW:

A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.

PLIERS:

Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters.

BELT SANDER:

An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.

HACKSAW:

One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle... It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

VISE-GRIPS:

Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

OXYACETYLENE TORCH:

Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub out of which you want to remove a bearing.

TABLE SAW:

A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles for testing wall integrity.

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK:

Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new brake shoes , trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.

BAND SAW:

A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to cut good aluminum sheet into smaller pieces that more easily fit into the trash can after you cut on the inside of the line instead of the outside edge.

TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST:

A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect.

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER:

Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids or for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

STRAIGHT SCREWDRIVER:

A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws and butchering your palms.

PRY BAR:

A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.

HOSE CUTTER:

A tool used to make hoses too short.

HAMMER:

Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent the object we are trying to hit. It is especially valuable at being able to find the EXACT location of the thumb or index finger of the other hand.

UTILITY KNIFE:

Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially useful for slicing work clothes, while they are in use.

SON-OF-A-BITCH TOOL:

(A personal favorite!) Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling 'Son of a BITCH!' at the top of your lungs. It is also, most often, the next tool that you will need.

Hope you have found this informative.