Monday, December 29, 2008

Hot potato

You say potato, I say potat-owwww!

Spent some time at the range over the weekend with the Son&Heir with 1911(s), 22 pistol and M1 Carbine. He got to shoot his first ever reloads in the 1911. That's an extra treat for anyone.

He also got to shoot the M1 Carbine for the first time. That's when he caught an ejected casing in the collar of his new Xmas flannel jacket. Hoo-boy, he felt that. Raised a welt he can be proud of. /heh

Give credit for being a quick study. Didn't hesitate to turn that collar up and tuck it tight. ;-)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Away boarding parties, away!

Lex has been tracking the developments with piracy in the I/O along with the emergence of a blue water ChiCom Navy. Link

Nature abhors a vacuum. Our absence of leadership and moral courage in handing these pirates their heads has left an opening for the Chinese. Now the ChiComs get to serve humanity and gain moral standing by killing bad guys.

How do you say "happy hunting" in Mandarin?

Friday, December 26, 2008

The day after

I'm not one to go crazy with after Christmas sales. However, I did get out shopping for tires today and to run some other errands at local hardware stores. People were out shopping but I don't know how traffic compares to other years. Besides I stayed clear of the big box malls.

A big ticket item I can postpone no longer is tires for my Honey's Excursion. Big tires, big bucks -- even though they're stock size. Stock size being a 265/75R16 load range E. That's a 10 ply tire! Yee-hah.

I worked it today, got quotes at 4 tire shops. In the interest of cost savings. I'm flipping a coin and switching from the tried and true Michelin LTX that have worn so well on this rig. We've gotten at least 50K miles out of each of the 2 sets of Michelins we've put on the rig since the factory tires wear replaced.

It may be a false economy to switch from a tire that's worn so well. Still to save $200 today ($130 if I wait 2 weeks for Costco sale and shipment to arrive) I decided to go with the comparable Pirelli. It's a 65K warranty tire with a crazy 540 treadware rating. That should hold up. Only question is whether it will affect fuel economy. On my light vehicles I've seen several mpg difference with a tire brand change. I'm thinking the weight and wind resistance of the high profile Excursion are more dominant factors on economy than with a light vehicle like the Beetle.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Look Ma

No TV!

Get 'em outside a'fore the rainstorm hits later today!

Home for the Holidays

Things are shaping up for a quiet Christmas around our place. Not going to be much under the tree this year. We pulled in our horns a bit.

Our eldest (daughter) made it home last night from school/work up in the OC. She's finished up her trade school last week. She has to take State boards in January. In the meantime she is waiting tables up until after the holidays when they'll allow her to transfer back down here. She had a bit of excitement along the way home -- tire blewout on the freeway during rainy Monday rush hour. It was a long fearful hour in the rain and dark on the shoulder waiting for AAA to get help to her.

That breakdown delayed her return home a day while getting a couple new tires on the rear. While she waited for Costco to mount her tires she called in to work and picked up an extra shift. The holiday lunch crowd tipped well. That extra shift paid for one of the new tires.

Huh. Ponder...
She called for an extra shift and delayed coming home another half day -- even though eager to hang with friends?
Double huh.
Who is this person? Emerging adult sensibilities and responsibility? Dare I hope?

That's better than anything a Dad could find under the tree Christmas morning.

My dad's philosophy seemed to be "raise 'em up, get 'em hungry and watch 'em work." Musta read a wise man...

Proverbs 16:26
A worker's appetite works for him,For his hunger urges him on.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Quiet at the office

At my desk. Waiting for some callbacks with info rqst'd. Wondering if I can still remember how to work that slipstick...

Most folks out on vacation this week. I got caught up chasing info for a quality problem on a critical project. That has me at work trying to piece together the puzzle long distance with 2 different suppliers who are build the product in 3 different facilities.

As stated so dryly and often by Harry Callahan, "Marvelous."

Actually, joking aside, it is marvelous. I'm thankful for the work. Many are not so fortunate this year.

We wound up with about 30 people at the house last night for the Xmas lights party. A good time was had by all. We started this when our kids were infants and toddlers and the house felt full then. Now that they're mostly grown and they're bringing their boyfriends and girlfriends the house is full in a different way. They used to be underfoot. Now they're taking all the available seats. :-)

Chicago dogs before the lights walk/drive. Large, tasty franks from local butcher shop (Iowa Meat Farms on Mission Gorge Rd). I like to have burned the house down heating them all on the griddle and frying pan (split down the middle and fried). Our old stove vent just can't keep up. Someday I'll mount a modern one.

Massive amounts of potluck goodies after the lights. Gym memberships will surely get put to good use after the New Year. It rained pretty good all day so the walk was in doubt for a while. As it turned out the sky cleared enough in the evening to park the car and hike the hills.

Good fellowship... Thankful to the Lord for family and friends.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Tradition

... the rush is upon us.

'bout into the clear now though. We made the roadtrip Saturday 120 miles up the road to spend early Xmas with my wife's side of the family. That was later in the day than normal since we couldn't leave til after the final rehearsal for the Church Xmas program.

The program went off well yesterday. This year was a fairly traditional acting out of the Christmas story -- no Dickens-ian flashbacks with ghostly messengers or modern parables. It was our usual Mayberry RFD level effort -- everyone got involved either on stage or getting pics/videos of their children performing. It wouldn't have been complete without the 4 yr old whose mind wandered while he fiddled with his shirt buttons. Wound up half undressing himself on stage during singing of "Away in a Manger."

The divine Miss M (as Mary) sang Sandi Patti's "Someday." I may link to thathere later depending on how it looks on Youtube. It was my usual masterful video quality (cough). Lighting too low and too close to piano to compensate for lighting. As a result the camera didn't pick up as much of Megan's voice in PA as I'd like.

Tonight we're hosting our annual Xmas lights walk with old friends. We started walking a local neighborhood together to see the lights when our kids were infants. Now the kids are growing, grown or gone but we still try to get together. It's kind of a touchstone for us as some have moved along to other neighborhoods or churches.

Dunno if I'll be making the walk -- it's been a few years since my back would allow it. There's quite a few steep hills along the way. Thought this year I'd be back in the saddle but I'm doubting it now. The reason I'm posting this at zero-dark thirty is because my back/hips are tying up pretty good. Too much Xmas rush, roadtripping and maybe a too little faithfulness to my posture/back exercise routine last week.

Hey it wouldn't be the Holiday's without someone's back going out or flu/colds in the house. LOL.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Frost on the Pumpkin

Got into the 30's here last night. That's typically about as cold as we get; not unusual in Dec. Two years ago we had a couple or three weeks of nights in the 20's. My primary producing Avocado tree is just about finally recovered from that. I'll have to improvise a smudge pot or heater of some sort in the rare event that happens again.

The rains early in the week were a significant test of our erosion control measures. Had to make a couple midcourse corrections Tuesday when we got a short break in the action. Built a couple sandbag sumps down at the bottom with 3" flex drain lines running to the road. That helped a lot to egress the water. Put in an additional 106 bags that day. That is my helpers with younger backs did.

Have 9 pallets of keystone blocks waiting to be stacked into a couple retaining walls at the foot of the upper cut slope. Half of them need to be moved up 6' and staged at level of the pool pad. Not gonna be doing that the hard way. Nope, nope. Wouldn't be prudent.

My 2WD tractor can't get up the slope w/out breaking traction. When I have another 10yds of gravel dropped for the wall footings and backfill I'll have the bobcat/hauler guy run them uphill in his frontloader bucket . That reminds me. I best be giving him a call today.

Sweet Caroline? Princess Caroline? America's Princess Di'

Yesteday Cal Thomas's column ran saying roughly "Give her a break, she's at least as qualified as many other Senators and may be isn't rotten to the core like some of her family."

Today Krauthammer's piece runs saying "Hey, what's up with the royalty, pedigree, entitlement thing. This is America!"

Cal Thomas's seems more personally charitable although the "K-man" does pose an argument that strikes some at the elitism that's developed in our political class (caste?).

Which is it? Either way we can only sit on the sidelines and crow (or grouse). The NY Gov'nuh is going to do what he's going to do. Caroline maybe the closest thing we 'Mericans have to Princess Di -- at least as far the Boomer's emotional attachment goes.

The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. Proverbs 18:17

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lunching in. Rainy day.

Funny what passes as comfort food for some people.

(Homer Simpson voice) ummmmm, Peanut and Pickle.

Nope. Nobody's pregnant.

Like, you know?

A top 10 of irritating expressions has been compiled by researchers at Oxford University.

By Charlotte Bailey
The Daily Telegraph

Last Updated: 3:18PM GMT 08 Nov 2008
Comments 2193 | Comment on this article

This is one where you really should read the comments! Actually quite a bit better then the article itself!

Heading the list was the expression 'at the end of the day', which was followed in second place by the phrase 'fairly unique'.

The tautological statement "I personally" made third place ­ an expression that BBC Radio 4 presenter John Humphreys has described as "the linguistic equivalent of having chips with rice."

Also making the top 10 is the grammatically incorrect "shouldn't of", instead of "shouldn't have".

The phrases appear in a book called Damp Squid, named after the mistake of confusing a squid with a squib, a type of firework.

The researchers who compiled the list monitor the use of phrases in a database called the Oxford University Corpus, which comprises books, papers, magazines, broadcast, the internet and other sources.

The database alerts them to new words and phrases and can tell them which expressions are disappearing. It also shows how words are being misused.

As well as the above expressions, the book's author Jeremy Butterfield says that many annoyingly over-used expressions actually began as office lingo, such as 24/7 and "synergy".

Other phrases to irritate people are "literally" and "ironically", when they are used out of context.

Mr Butterfield said: "We grow tired of anything that is repeated too often ­ an anecdote, a joke, a mannerism ­ and the same seems to happen with some language."

The top ten most irritating phrases:
1 - At the end of the day
2 - Fairly unique
3 - I personally
4 - At this moment in time
5 - With all due respect
6 - Absolutely
7 - It's a nightmare
8 - Shouldn't of
9 - 24/7
10 - It's not rocket science

1) get over it
2) bell curve
3) outcomes
4) have an issue with
5) the bottom line is
6) leverage
7) neocon (used to smear conservatives)
8) fundamentalist Christian (used to smear all those who oppose gay marriage, late-birth abortion etc.)
9) war against terror (it's against radical Islam)
10) community (as in "gay community" or "Muslim community")
11) sexy (applied to high-tech gadgets, computer software and other consumer items)
12) hands-on
13) progressives (for liberals)
14) sex workers (for prostitutes)
15) French youths (for Muslim rioters who hate the French)
16) you guys (addressing a mixed group of males and females)
17) indigenous Americans (for Indians. This makes immigrants of all Americans who arrived after the Indians.)
18) peace activists (for terrorist-sympathizers and supporters)
19) gobsmacked
20) paradigm change
21) post-modern
22) militants (for terrorists)
23) fighters (for terrorists)
24) the noble Koran
25) PBUH (guess who)

These are only a few which immediately come to mind. Why does the media inflict so many of these barbarities upon us?

"Restored to it's former glory" - used in relation to property renovation. It's not used incorrectly, just too often - it makes me cringe. Any suggestions for alternative phrases?

My absolute #1 peeve

The phrase 'you know' in the middle of every sentence and then at the end as well...!
And then the word basically - usually used in the same way as the phrase 'you know'

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Busy, busy

Got a break in the rain. Inspected the erosion control measures below. Big improvements on the upper slopes. Still big problems on the lower part. Monday's rain overwhelmed a couple sections. Wow is it soft down there.

Decided we were focusing too much on containment and not enough of egress. Got my young handyman helper back on the job while I went in to the office.

Too dark for pics by the time I got back to the homestead. Maybe tomorrow.

Covered a critical part of upper slope below large wall w/ 6 mil tarps.

Brought in over 100 more sand(gravel) bags and some more drain line. Shored up some silt fences with those and built several catch basins that are then drained to the street with 3" flex line over/under/through the silt fences.

Other than that? Mostly caught up at work from Asia trip. Still need to get expense report completed and update a couple reports/summaries.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Still cheaper than therapy.

Headed out the door this morning. Looked at the storm starting outside, the swirling wind, the rain starting and knew what lay ahead. Rain commutes in SoCal = potential insanity, guaranteed gridlock.

Stopped to check the lock on the garage side door and noted about half a tube of primers still on tap in my press. Well, why not pull a few?

Ran a few minutes till primer tube emptied. Then locked up and got in the car -- mellowed and ready to roll. Made it to my desk uneventfully.

Ahh, rhythms.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Video lessons for parents

Check the batteries? Yup. Learned that early on.

Check available memory? uhhh... oh. yeah.

At any rate here's what I was able to get this afternoon of the Divine Miss M's recital.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Planes, Bullet Trains and Automobiles

Stateside again now and a bit more optimistic than I was just a week ago.

Picked up a head cold on the trip out to Japan & Korea last Sunday. Makes the strange food, hotels, trains, shuttles, taxis, and long meetings and longer business dinners just that little extra bit more special.

Sometimes it feels more like work that others.

That said, Korea in particular was interesting to me. Even with the struggling world economy effects being felt there I actually was put in an optimistic mood by Korea. They've come so far, from so far down in such a short time that I was reminded that people just don't roll over and give up. Governments may intervene or be corrupt but humanity continues to strive for food, shelter, comfort, fellowship and a better life for their children.

Made it back in time to go to the Company Holiday Party last night with my 1st wife. A good time was had by all -- if a bit more subdued that in past years.
It's the one time a year I can count on getting to sit and enjoy live music. As we get older there's more jazz in the party band selections and less rock and roll but that's all good. More slow dancing opportunities in that. /heh ;-)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Morning after Haiku

Finally made to Hotel in Osaka last night at 7. Bushed...

Supplier rep says, "Come on we take you for quick dinner." 3 hours later...

Yep, that's a quick business dinner. At least I was able to cry off on Karaoke afterwards to do my back exercises after the flight. My colleague wasn't so lucky.

The really important stuff for business really does happen at dinner & after over here. For me though -- the thrill is long gone.

Tuesday morning, getting going now. groan...

Seems like a Haiku is in order...

Osaka Dinner
We eat fast! Be back early!
Don't ask what food is.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Back to basics

I'm thinking this is the year we start (re)learning how to put food by. So, it was off to the online bookstore. Leveled 3 pads on sidehill yesterday for to plant more fruit trees. This is on the lower slope of our lot.

It's hard to make out the slope contours in the low sun behind me but made pretty nice catch basins for to plant in where it rolls off to the road

Typically it's 3-4 degrees F cooler down there than up at the top on the winter mornings. That should help apples and stone fruit get the cold hours they need to set fruit. I started 4 citrus (valencia, navel, grapefruit, lemon) up at the top of our lot last year -- it being warmer up there. We were able to save one older Navel Orange tree halfway up the hill near the lower drive entrance.

Need to get these lower lot avocados (Fuertes) cut back, cleaned up and back on regular watering cycle. Finally at point I can run water back down there. My main producing avocado tree up top by the house hasn't produced last 2 years -- got into trouble with the freezing weather we had Dec 2006.

Probably a couple years before we can expect to see the lower trees producing again. It'd be a fun project to try grafting some Haas on to the rootstock to extend our avocado season (they run different months than Fuertes).

I've been fighting off unwanted Pecan volunteers. Finally got one going in a useful spot at the bottom fence. Let's see how it does if I leave it alone. Certainly no lack of water down there. It's the little guy just up from the silt fence. It's a little close to that Avocado but it'll grow up past it.

And now we read...

CMP 22 ammo

Remember the Civilian Marksmanship Program? LINK

Got a new batch of Aguila 22 ammo in from CMP. Made a quick trip to the range in between things yesterday afternoon. Was a bit rushed...

I have always just bought the cheapest they carry. This time I split an order of the spendier Aguila CMP sells. LINK Thought I'd see what you get for the extra money.

Did an imprecise but quick check yesterday with my S&W 22A pistol. It seems to like it a little better. The black 'shoot n see' targets are with my hands on a rest. I'm not that confident in the repeatability of my aging, changing eyes. I'll go back and shoot several more targets with each type of ammo in less of a hurry.

This target used the cheaper stuff
419ASVSE Aguila .22 Caliber - 1135 fps.
5000 Round Case $189*
This was last target with the spendier stuff.
419ASVGE Aguila .22 Caliber - 1200 fps.
5000 Round Case $229.95*

I'm even more interested in how it'll perform in my Winchester Mdl 75 target rifle.

Friday, December 5, 2008

fuzzy memories...

Recently came across these old photos -- poorly copied by my camera phone. Taken at Squadron Quarters onboard Connie, CV-64 in 85-87 timeframe.

Funny the things you remember out of the blue just seeing a photo.

Specifically, if I recall the earlier skinnier one in flight deck jersey was on Wespac 85 early in the morning. Think I was getting sailor of month. That got me a 72 hr liberty which mean't no duty section in port Mombasa shortly after. Took advantage of that with some buds and got on a 3 day tour of Amboseli and Tsavo West.

The second later photo in dungaree shirt was on our BGE (Battle Group Eval) in Feb 87 somewhere south of San Diego off the coast of Baja. Kirb's and I were getting the NAS Miramar Safety Pro of the Month award for catching a hydraulic leak in the Port engine nacelle on a launch a month or so earlier and saving A/C from burning down in flight.

We were on the ramp at Miramar Hanger 6. I smelled something different just before closing the hatch after punching the codes into the radios. Pretty providential I'd say. Hard to smell anything out of sorts in the open hatch with JP5 turbine exhaust swirling around. Guess I was spending a lot of time in the A/C flying as IFT and also as AT troubleshooter on launches and something just didn't seem right.

I went out the hatch, waved and pointed two fingers to my nose to AMS2 Kirby who was outside on the human safety chain. Guess I was getting confident with a Wespac under my belt to make a call for an engine shutdown on a launch. Actually Kirb's seconded that so it was easy having another with me on the call. That call may have made me in the eyes of some. Didn't realize it till much later.

We had Flight secure that engine while Kirbs got up in the wheel well and started popping fastners loose on the bottom panel. He took a bath in hot hyd fluid. It just flooded down on him. Didn't do him any damage. Well, trashed his cranial and coat and we all had a good laugh at his expense back in the hanger.

Twitter, erosion mitigation, fretting, church

Trying to figure out this Twitter thing... Just added myself to list.

Discussion on Hugh Hewitt show yesterday... Link

Otherwise been occupied mitigating erosion on that grading done late summer. Needed more rock on the drive and patch up some channels that got started in our first rain.

Silt fences, sandbags, straw wattles ($) ouch. More than I'd budgeted for.

Placed order for 405 keystone blocks at Home Depot last night. That should just about do it for the first major retaining wall I need below the major cut slope. It'll be 3 ft high and run at least 100'.

Continuing to work out various subcontractor bids for the pool we permitted. Got the steel, plumbing, electrical and grading quotes. Need Shotcrete, plaster and tile/coping quotes. Funny how the construction industry is still stuck in the Fax Age. Really slows me down compared to scanning and e-mail. Used to think fax was the cat's pajamas...

Fretting? Yeah, looking at economy and all the FUD talk has me wondering if I'm nuts for following through on this pool. Got e-mail just this moring from a smart guy former colleague (who managed to retire before 50) telling me to keep my powder dry and think about buying gold.

Maybe the pool money would be better spent on a well, solar power, root cellar and seed stocks.

What'd Solomon say? Something like, "Prepare your work in the field, then build your house?"

Been working on some followup at Church on leadership development and action plans for recently launched Men's Ministry (aka Band of Brothers). Trying make that handoff to the next-gen of men. Also trying to draw into closer fellowship (include/test in some project and small group leadership roles) some of the African refugee men who've joined us the last year or two.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


This from Walter Williams.
How about a few civics questions? Name the three branches of government. If you answered the executive, legislative and judicial, you are more informed than 50 percent of Americans. The Delaware-based Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) recently released the results of their national survey titled "Our Fading Heritage: Americans Fail a Basic Test on Their History and Institutions." The survey questions were not rocket science.

Only 21 percent of survey respondents knew that the phrase "government of the people, by the people, for the people." comes from President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Almost 40 percent incorrectly believe the Constitution gives the president the power to declare war. Only 27 percent know the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits establishing an official religion for the United States. Remarkably, close to 25 percent of Americans believe that Congress shares its foreign policy powers with the United Nations....

...Of the 2,508 nationwide samples of Americans taking ISI's civic literacy test, 71 percent failed; the average score on the test was 49 percent.


Clueless? I ain't saying -- you do the math...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Time to Twitter?

I guess I'm officially an old fogie. I don't watch late night shows, haven't watched SNL in decades, don't have a Facebook page, don't Twitter and I actually (guffaw) read the news.

This quote for Alex Rosenwald's recent article resonated with me,
The people can just ignore the news, but pop culture is everywhere. For the younger generation, who grew up with nothing but pop culture, there is, in fact, no other worldview.


Somehow I got added to a daily e-mail service (maybe it's a Newsmax thing) that puts out the jokes from the previous nights late night shows. The jokes have been overwhelming political and overwhelmingly at the expense of the conservative candidates. Okay, so I laugh. I figure you have to be able to laugh -- even at your team. At some point though it becomes clear that the humor is the very definition of cynical (Greek root "dog like" -- look it up).

The late night comedians are like a pack of domesticated dogs gone feral. If they were a pack of dogs on the prowl in my old rural neighborhood we'd just shoot 'em. Can't do that in this case. Can't even apply Kim Du Toit's prescription of "Rope, Tree, Journalist -- some assembly required." At some point the laughing at oneself and one's team grows thin as the underlying meanness of the cynical humor wears through. Hey, Letterman! It's December! It's almost a month since the Election. Got anything besides McCain Old Age jokes or Sarah Palin Geography snides?

That brings me to the title of this post...

As I talk w/ extended circle of friends and acquaintances "post election," it's clear the Zogby polls showing ignorance of voters is very real. Truely, they seem to have formed their political conclusions based on Late Night jokes, FM shock jocks and Youtube videos.

Most people won't read a complete paragraph or listen in depth to commentary or debate on radio/TV. This is especially true among the "Millenials."

The Millenial Generation's media is not our media. We have a message they need to hear. We need to consider our audience and communicate in forms and mediums that they will hear. Their attention span shortness is legendary. We're not going to change that. We need to deal with it.

My kids almost never check e-mail (that's so 90's). They only occasionally answer their cell phones. They'll usually check their Facebook in the evening. They ALWAYS answer a text message (it seems to be a compulsion).

So rolling with that trend leads to the question of the day, "Are Twitter type comm's part of the answer for 'influencers to get more traction/the attention of the clued out/clueless?'" Is it time to twitter?