Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Masterful Take Down

Mark Steyn posts a (fairly) long, well-researched, and incredibly scathing (not to mention laugh-out-loud funny) rejoinder to one of his unfortunate and severely clue-impaired critics, one John Gordon Miller… ostensibly a Canadian professor of journalism. Mr. Miller, in an open letter to Mr. Steyn, led off with the following (from the “clue-impaired” link, above):

With all due respect, Mark Steyn, I did not accuse you of making up a quote. You clearly accepted someone else’s word for it. But that’s not good journalism. Few journalists I know would take Oriana Fallaci’s word about Islam at face value the way you did, for reasons I will explain.

You uncritically accepted her reference to the “Blue Book,” and went on to have fun with the notion of Mohammed Atta interfering with the livestock instead of suicide bombing. But there is no Blue Book, it’s The Little Green Book. And it wasn’t written by the Ayatollah at all, as you say, but by a source who was apparently at least three times, and three languages, removed.

And thus the gauntlet was thrown. I’ll give you a short quote from Mr. Steyn’s piece, which comes near the end:

So just to reprise:

Did I cite Oriana Fallaci accurately? Yes.

Did she cite Ayatollah Khomeini accurately? Yes.

Is there a volume by the Ayatollah commonly known as the "Blue Book"? Yes

Does it include rulings on sex with nine-year olds and what to do with a shagged sheep? Yes.

Did either of us mention a Little Green Book? No. In fact, the translation Oriana cites pre-dates The Little Green Book by a year.

I think Professor Waggy-Finger is doing what they call "projecting". He's accusing me of everything he's been doing himself. I took "somebody else's word for it". Er, no. That would be you, taking the Sock Puppets' word for it on my book review. I didn't check the "primary source". Er, no. That would be you, cavalierly announcing there's no such thing as a "Blue Book". To be more charitable to you than you deserve, you assume that Oriana Fallaci and I so want to think the worst of Islam that we'll fall for any old hooey. Actually not. On the other hand, you so want to think the worst of us blowhard provocateurs that you assume we're as ignorant of Islam as you evidently are.

I’m SO reminded of that ol’ cliché about not engaging in a battle of wits with the unarmed, and Professor Miller is clearly and demonstrably unarmed in this particular case. One would think a journalism professor, of all people, would have the good sense to check out his facts before assailing someone about theirs. But nooo. I’m simply amazed Professor Miller had the gall to take Steyn to task, and pleased as punch that Mr. Steyn took the time to beat the livin’ dogshit out of this pompous ass. Mr. Steyn’s piece is a take-down for the ages.

This lil brouhaha is a sideshow to accompany recent events that transpired in Canada, vis-à-vis Mr. Steyn’s outspoken critiques of militant Islam. For those of you who haven’t been following the 1984-like persecution of Mr. Steyn by the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, there are summaries here and here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday and Other Shopping Tales... Plus BEER!

News you might could use… today. “Six Black Friday Bargains to Avoid.” Excerpt:
Black Friday is not an official national holiday, but this year we may as well consecrate it as such—the nation's fortunes depend dearly on how much you and your fellow citizens spend on this first day of the holiday shopping season. Don't lose your scruples, though, just because the economy hangs in the balance. Yes, you'll be able to find some great bargains this weekend, especially on technology (Check out this 22-inch widescreen LCD monitor for just $140, including shipping.) But there are many deals you should avoid, too—things that sound like bargains but that on closer inspection are no bargain at all.
In general, don't buy anything that you or your loved ones don't need just because it's on sale. This sounds obvious, but the rule is easy to forget during a shopping stampede. Remember, retailers are counting on your irrationality—the whole point of a "doorbuster" sale is to get you into the store to seduce you to spend cash on more profitable items.
I don’t “do” Black Friday. Never have, never will. Shopping is neither an adventure nor a sport for me. It’s a necessary frickin’ evil… and I’m speaking of the act of acquiring items needed to keep body and soul together like food, clothing, and beer. Other than that? That’s why Algore invented the internet. I don’t need it if it ain’t on Amazon, Cigar.com, or Despair.com (There are cool management training vids @Despair, if you’re interested in de-motivating your workforce).
(Long parenthetical aside… Once upon a time (in another life) I thought I’d achieved Nirvana. Well, I actually DID achieve Nirvana, but only for about a year. It was at the height of the dot-bomb ridiculouslessness (I just made that word up), I was living in SFO, and I was actually grocery shopping ON-LINE. I forget the name of the establishment (they’re belly-up now, anyway), but they had an extensive on-line “grocery list” to order from… and one could customize, personalize, and save your very own list for re-use from week to week or however often you did your shopping.
The company delivered up until 2200 hrs, six days a week, and the delivery person would bring the bags of groceries right into my kitchen. Well… my groceries weren’t in bags… they were in large green plastic tubs, which the delivery person unloaded onto my kitchen counter while I checked each item off my shopping list as it was placed on the counter. No money changed hands; the transaction was placed on your credit card when you placed your order.
Quality? In a word, yes. Name brand items, always. Fresh, blemish-free produce. More cheeses than a French woman could shake a baguette at. The company never "forgot" or lost an item on my list... ever... and the service always delivered precisely at the requested time. And the delivery guys refused tips: company policy. That's quality.
Inexpensive? Not hardly... one paid about a ten percent premium over Safeway/Ralph's/Kroger prices for the convenience, and I was more than willing to do so. But I was in a minority, however, as the company was out of bid’niz in a year and I was heartbroken. But for a brief shining moment I didn’t even have to go grocery shopping, Gentle Reader.)
(Yes, I know. Neighborhood stores did this sort of thing all the time, back in the day. But I didn’t realize you were old enough to remember that, Gentle Reader. Or maybe you just remember your Grandma telling you about it. That’s gotta be it, innit?)
―:☺:―
More news you can use, if’n you’re a beer drinker: A list of “…the top six craft and microbreweries according to the Brewers Association of Boulder, Colorado.” (There’s a second six, as well.) And those six craft breweries produce true American beer. Beers from all six of these breweries have graced the inside of the fridge here at El Casa Móvil De Pennington at one time or another.
Apropos of something... The subject for the post linked above was how to really “Drink American,” aimed directly at the reverse-snobs who’ll only drink Budmilloors. And that term, Gentle Beer-Drinking Reader, originated in another post at the same blog address: “Who Owns What Beers?” We all know Anheuser-Busch was bought by InBev this year, but didja know both Miller and Coors are foreign-owned these days? Ah… but PBR is still American, so you DO have an American-owned red, white, and blue-collar choice, even if the beer itself is contract-brewed… by South African-owned Miller Brewing. It’s just so danged hard to Buy Drink American these days, innit? Well, not really. If you’re a beer snob.
While we’re on about beer… could this slip o’ the lip be the real reason McCain lost? (0:05)
Nah. Cindy’s in the beer-biz. Couldn’t be.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Valour-IT

It’s that time again. And you’ll probably respond by asking “just what time would that be, Buck?” To which I reply: Valour-IT time… a fundraiser whereby our wounded troops receive voice-activated laptops from Soldiers’ Angels, a hard-working organization that supports our troops and has been doing so since 2003. For the record: Valour-IT is a project of Soldiers Angels, which is an IRS-designated 501(c)(3) non-profit charity. Thus donations to the project may be tax deductible, and eligible for employer matching funds if applicable.
But… more specifically… here’s what Valour-IT does (an excerpt from “About Valour-IT,” at the Soldiers’ Angels web site):
Project Valour-IT
(formerly Voice-Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops)
In memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss
Every cent raised for Project Valour-IT goes directly to the purchase and shipment of laptops and other technology for severely wounded service members. As of November 2008, Valour-IT has distributed over 2700 laptops to severely wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines across the country, and is now expanding its mission to include other technology that supports physical and psychological recovery.
Valour-IT accepts donations in any amount to support our mission, but also offers a sponsorship option for laptops. An individual or organization may sponsor a wounded soldier by completely funding the cost of a laptop and continuing to provide that soldier with personal support and encouragement throughout recovery. This has proved to be an excellent project for churches, groups of coworkers or friends, and members of community organizations such Boy Scouts.
Originally Valour-IT provided the voice-controlled software that accompanies the laptops, but now works closely with the Department of Defense Computer/electronic Accommodations Program (CAP): CAP supplies the adaptive software and Valour-IT provides the laptop. In addition, DoD caseworkers serve as Valour-IT’s “eyes and ears” at several medical centers, identifying patients in need of laptops and other technological support for their recovery.
The Valour-IT fundraiser is a good-natured (heh) competition among the uniformed branches to see who can raise the most money for this oh-so-worthy cause. If you’ve been around these parts for a while you know that EIP always signs up for the Air Force team in this annual competition. While we Zoomies have yet to win the competition outright (The Ground-Pounders won last year, narrowly beating out the Jarheads with a last minute surge) we have managed to give a good account of ourselves. Sorta. I’d like to see us turn that around this year… obviously.
But… organizational pride aside… the important thing is to give to Valour-IT, regardless of which branch you support. I’d be right proud and humble if you’d consider donating in favor of Team Air Force. Just click that icon at the very top of my sidebar. The fundraiser runs from now until November 27th… but don’t wait until the last minute! Hit it now, while you’re thinking about it!
Update, 11/17/2008: Mrs. Greyhawk put up a post today that goes a long way towards debunking the Air Farce and Chair Forcememes (among others) our comrades-in-arms from the other services are so fond of invoking when we get into those Who's Bestarguments discussions. We Zoomies have acquired a reputation over the years, deserved or not, of being something of a pampered crew. Which, of course, stems from the superior Quality of Life Blue Suiters enjoy... which results in a lot of envious (read: disparaging) comments from our less fortunate brethren (sisthren, too). But... be that as it may... let me remind you: the USAF is in the fight in a BIG way. Mrs. G enumerates a lot of the contributions the Air Force makes to The Mission... and I'll add one more: the TAC-P guys, who are functioning members of fire teams on the ground” (most literally) in Iraq and Afghanistan. They're the guys who call in the precision strikes from the A-10s, F-16s, and B-52s orbiting the battlefields... and often work with the Navy's F/A-18 drivers, as well.
Speaking of F/A-18s... who do you think provides the in-flight refueling those Hornettes require to remain on station” for longer than 20 minutes at a time? Yep... it's USAF KC-135s and KC-10s. We like to share.
Now that we have that off our chest... have you donated to Valour-IT yet? Ya know where that button is!
Update, 11/28/2008: Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone, barely. The Valour-IT fundraiser is over, and the results are identical to last year's: Army wins, Navy is second, and the Marines edged out (barely) Team Air Force for third. Thank God for the Coast Guard, as they bring up the rear again this year, saving us Blue-Suiters the ignominy of placing last. There's an old military axiom that "quantity has a quality all of its own," and I think that holds true for fundraisers. I'm not making excuses, mind you, but 182 blogs took part in the Valour-IT fundraiser. The Ground-Pounders and the Squids (combined) owned 68% of the participating blogs and, strangely enough, raised roughly 70% of the money. Coincidence? I think not... The actual breakdown of participating blogs was... 82 Army, 43 Navy, the Marines and USAF each with 25, and the Coasties had 7. And here's the final results, as of 0130 hrs Friday morning (as always, click for larger):
Now that it's all over but the shouting (and there WILL be some shouting, believe me!) let me heap many, many thanks on everyone who contributed. I suppose $75K is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick but I wish we could have done better. Ah, well. It's hard times.
Speaking of hard times... I'm wondering what my penance will be...

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Gentle Reader. I’m going to be lazy today and re-run what I've said last two years running (in part...there was more), mainly coz (a) it’s all true and (b) I’m fresh out of original i-deers. So…from Turkey-Day-Last 2006:

Of all the things I’m thankful for on this day…family, friends, reasonable health… I thank God most of all for making me an American. Most all of the good things in my life begin and end with that one single fact.

You could do much worse today than read the editorial the WSJ has published every Thanksgiving since 1961.

We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth.

And we might remind ourselves also, that if those men setting out from Delftshaven had been daunted by the troubles they saw around them, then we could not this autumn be thankful for a fair land.

As true today as it was back in 1961.

The images come from Thanksgiving Corner, which has a great collection of Thanksgiving wallpaper. Normally I'd only post a single topical image, but I was so taken with the second image that I had to post it. Shades of Ben Franklin, and all that.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous...

What he said… “he” being Victor Davis Hanson… in his essay “Ten Random, Politically Incorrect Thoughts.” A couple of excerpts:

6. Something has happened to the generic American male accent. Maybe it is urbanization; perhaps it is now an affectation to sound precise and caring with a patina of intellectual authority; perhaps it is the fashion culture of the metrosexual; maybe it is the influence of the gay community in arts and popular culture. Maybe the ubiquitous new intonation comes from the scarcity of salty old jobs in construction, farming, or fishing. But increasingly to meet a young American male about 25 is to hear a particular nasal stress, a much higher tone than one heard 40 years ago, and, to be frank, to listen to a precious voice often nearly indistinguishable from the female. How indeed could one make Westerns these days, when there simply is not anyone left who sounds like John Wayne, Richard Boone, Robert Duvall, or Gary Cooper much less a Struther Martin, Jack Palance, L.Q. Jones, or Ben Johnson? I watched the movie Twelve O’clock High the other day, and Gregory Peck and Dean Jagger sounded liked they were from another planet. I confess over the last year, I have been interviewed a half-dozen times on the phone, and had no idea at first whether a male or female was asking the questions. All this sounds absurd, but I think upon reflection readers my age (55) will attest they have had the same experience. In the old days, I remember only that I first heard a variant of this accent with the old Paul Lynde character actor in one of the Flubber movies; now young men sound closer to his camp than to a Jack Palance or Alan Ladd.

10. The K-12 public education system is essentially wrecked. No longer can any professor expect an incoming college freshman to know what Okinawa, John Quincy Adams, Shiloh, the Parthenon, the Reformation, John Locke, the Second Amendment, or the Pythagorean Theorem is. An entire American culture, the West itself, its ideas and experiences, have simply vanished on the altar of therapy. This upcoming generation knows instead not to judge anyone by absolute standards (but not why so); to remember to say that its own Western culture is no different from, or indeed far worse than, the alternatives; that race, class, and gender are, well, important in some vague sense; that global warming is manmade and very soon will kill us all; that we must have hope and change of some undefined sort; that AIDs is no more a homosexual- than a heterosexual-prone disease; and that the following things and people for some reason must be bad, or at least must in public company be said to be bad (in no particular order): Wal-Mart, cowboys, the Vietnam War, oil companies, coal plants, nuclear power, George Bush, chemicals, leather, guns, states like Utah and Kansas, Sarah Palin, vans and SUVs.

I found myself nodding this ol’ gray head north-south as I read the ten things that tick Mr. Hanson off. There’s an assumption in that last sentence, but I feel pretty safe in saying VDH doesn’t look upon any of the things he mentions as a “good,” with the sole exception of his proposal that we (re)introduce Latin as a compulsory subject in public school. Yes… Latin. I can see the wisdom in Mr. Hanson’s proposal, even though I never took Day One of Latin. I did, however, take seven years of French… and that’s reasonably close. I really, truly feel my love for the English language (and my competency, too… such as it is) is directly related to the fact I was once fluent in French. That and the fact I had competent teachers back in the day (see VDH Item Ten, above).

As far as VDH Item Six goes… yes, I have had similar experiences. But NOT since I moved to New Mexico, not locally, at least. I personally think the feminizing of the Young American Male’s accent and manner of speech is mostly a metropolitan phenomenon, which VDH admits is a possibility. I encountered it all too frequently while living in the San Francisco Bay Area Soviet Socialist Republic, and that was six years ago. OTOH, the guys with the suspect accents I ran into just might have been gay. I’ve heard there are a lot of gay guys there, but have no personal experience in that space. (Added, later: the foregoing was said in jest. Of course there are lotsa gays in SFO, we all know that. The point I was trying to make... and badly, at that... was my GAYDAR sucks, for the most part. I can recognize blatant gay-ness nine out of ten times, like the stuff one sees in the Castro district. Otherwise? Hard for me to tell, if I even thought about it. Which I usually didn't.)

Nonetheless… I agree with VDH, especially when it comes to really old movies. But here’s yet another thought: all the guys in those really old movies, particularly war movies, smoked. And we all know what smoking cigarettes does to your voice… or at least we should. Think on that for a moment, Gentle Reader (whilst shedding a metaphorical tear [if you’re male] for those smoky female voices of yesteryear… like Suzanne Pleshette or Tallulah Bankhead. If you’re female you have lotsa male voices to choose from — see above).

Mr. Hanson closes his essay with a simple statement: “Well, with that done—I feel much better.” I’m sure you will, too… if’n ya read the whole thing.

―:☺:―

Signs o’ The Impending Apocalypse… (part of an on-going series)

Obama collectibles:” Results 1 - 10 of about 2,210,000 for obama collectibles. (0.22 seconds)

Obama commemorative:” Results 1 - 10 of about 659,000 for obama commemorative. (0.14 seconds)

Obama collectors items:” Results 1 - 10 of about 364,000 for obama collectors items. (0.26 seconds)

Obama collectors items” (images): Results 1 - 21 of about 256,000 for obama collectors items. (0.10 seconds

Obama collectible magazines:” Results 1 - 10 of about 59,200 for obama collectible magazines. (0.17 seconds)

Obama collectible coins:” Results 1 - 10 of about 24,100 for obama collectible coins. (0.21 seconds)

God Save Us.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Let's Say Thanks

Everyone in the Mil-blog-o'sphere is doin' it! Hat tips too numerous to mention, but I saw it first at ASW's place (in her sidebar)...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Minor Monday Musing


So… three years into this blogging gig and I still get this feeling occasionally: why bother? The feeling only comes to the fore on days when I’m either unmotivated or have nothing to say. Sometimes I chalk it up to a lack of “interesting” items in the news and elsewhere but most of the time it’s simply a failure of imagination… specifically MY imagination. Some people have built huge and successful blogging careers on the joys of shopping at Target (as if that’s all he writes about; note the irony), others have attics chock full of tales of derring-do in high performance jets, and still others have enjoyed success simply by being bat-shit crazy (with liberal dollops of profanity thrown in, just for the fun of it). One would think I could learn by example, even given the fact I've not shopped at Target lately, haven't flown anything... ever, and am in full possession of my sensibilities and can express myself (occasionally) without being profane. But noooo...

It’s not like I haven’t been around the block a few times or that I don’t have a storehouse of bloggable stuff (I do). Well, check my last… while there IS lotsa bloggable stuff in said storehouse, a lot of it (most?) isn’t quite suitable for the tone I’ve established here at EIP, that tone being PG-13. For the most part.

Maybe I need a new blog, written under a pseudonym, where I can discuss the finer points of whoring around and dabbling in proscribed substances in the world’s backwaters. And in some frontwaters, too. Maybe. But then again, those times were long ago, far away, and have largely been either forgotten or diminished by years of domestic tranquility and middle-class normalcy. Such as that was… emphasis on the past tense. But even domestic tranquility seems exciting compared to life as an exile (in Portales!). I suppose we’ll manage to muddle through without the sordid tales, even though I imagine some of you would be pleased… secretly or otherwise… to hear about how I scraped the bottom of the moral barrel in my youth.

Ah, but for the moment? It’s imagination, failure of. This, too, shall pass.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Eagles and Vipers and Warthogs… Oh My!!

Via Blog-Bud SJS… one of the absolute BEST pieces I’ve ever seen about Red Flag. The video is long at nearly 50 minutes, but just look at it as a movie… a great good movie… on your computer screen. There’s some of the best plane-pr0n I’ve seen in a long time herein.

So… it goes without sayin’, but there are more airframes in this video than you can shake a stick at… including tankers, helos (the Search and Rescue [SAR] sequence is great!), trash-haulers, AWACS, and brief cameos of our foreign allies participating in Red Flag. The usually unsung heroes… like the BB-Stackers (ordnance guys), crew chiefs, back-shop maintainers, and AWACS guys… get air-time in this film as well. It takes a helluva team to operate a combat air arm (note I didn’t say “Air Force,” out of deference to USAF’s allies), and this video emphasizes that fact. Simply brilliant.

But then again, I’d think so… wouldn’t I?

―:☺:―

G-Mail came out with a pretty cool feature yesterday… themes for your in-box. Here’s mine, followed by the options you have…

―:☺:―

Schadenfreude ‘R’ Us… I received an e-mail from Blog-Bud Morgan yesterday… letting me know that The Weather Channel had “… axed the entire staff of the ‘Forecast Earth’,” which presumably includes one of The People I Love to Hate Actively Dislike… ClimateExpertDoctor Heidi Cullen. It would be a great good thing if I never saw that woman… ever again… for the duration of my life. As for the rest of the folks laid off by TWC? They have my sympathy. But most certainly not Cullen, nor her sidekick Natalie Allen. Good riddance to those two. Maybe now TWC will dedicate ALL its resources to something like…oh, I dunno… weather reports?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Analysis

Analyze your blog… and by inference, your personality type. Here. The “instant analysis” sez this about EIP (and the analysis IS instant… so much so that it makes ya wonder: “How’d they DO that?”):

ESTP - The Doers

The active and play-ful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.

And here’s a screen-shot of the graphic that accompanies the analysis:

I have my doubts, Gentle Reader… I have my doubts. Shorter: Wrong, Sparky.

―:☺:―

We’re currently in the midst of a pretty good cold snap, as noted elsewhere and below. I kinda like that because this is the time of year I get to drag various coats and jackets out of the closet and renew my acquaintance with ‘em… an acquaintance that goes back over 20 years in two cases and nearly that amount of time in one other.

Like most guys, I don’t own a lot of outer garments. As I matter of fact, I have five…which is probably a little bit more than most men. But two of those garments are relegated to storage; I wear three outer garments on a regular basis. Strangely enough… all three are military-issue items. Today was the first day of the winter season that I wore my favorite jacket… an M-65 field jacket. (Full disclosure: I actually have two field jackets, only one of which is still serviceable enough to wear in public. The other is really worn… ripped here, torn there, the Velcro is gone, and it has all sorts of grease stains and such on it. It’s worn as a work jacket… if it’s worn at all, given as how I don’t do much “work” these days.)

My daily-wear M-65 was issued to me in 1984, the year before I retired from the Air Force. I knew I was gonna go, my retirement papers were in and approved, and I wanted a new field jacket to last me into retirement, as my old one was looking a lil bit the worse for wear. So… I beat feet down to supply, requested a new field jacket, got it, signed the receipt, and was on my way, a Happy Troop if there ever was one. I’ve worn that jacket every winter since. You cannot beat the thing for utility, what with its four large cargo pockets, collar-concealed hood, a button-in polyfil lining that keeps you oh-so-toasty, and the fact it’s waterproof… provided you give it an annual spray-down with Scotchgard. And when it gets dirty? Just throw it in the wash. That’s it. The M-65 looks damned good, it’s utilitarian, and it’s low maintenance. What else is there?

(Me and my M-65 in Yellowstone, May of 2000. It was frickin’ cold that day… and I was on the bike, too. But I stayed warm.)

Well, it turns out there IS something else. The M-65 is casual. VERY casual. For more upscale occasions I wear my pea coat. (Don’t laugh… it’s true. And I’m weird, I’ll freely admit.) My pea coat is The Real Thing and not some sort of knock-off (one sees a tremendous amount of knock-offs advertised as “Navy Issue” or some other such blather. Most aren’t even close.) And how do I know my pea coat is real? Coz it used to belong to SN2 when he was on the E-side of the Navy house (Pea coats are only worn by enlisted sailors. Ossifers wear Bridge Coats [scroll down for pic]. I’m serious.). He gifted it to me the year he was commissioned… the culmination of literally years of me badgering him to “get me a pea coat!!1!!” And so he did.

I love this coat. It, too, is quite versatile, and being 100% heavy wool it’s also very warm… especially with the collar turned up. I’ve been wearing my pea coat for about 15 years now, assuming I’ve done the math correctly. From the looks of things I’ll probably get at least another 15 years out of it… maybe more. The thing simply doesn’t show wear at all.

(Pic: Me, Grandson Sean, and SN1 on San Francisco Bay… an appropriate milieu for a pea coat, no? c. 2001.)

Last, but not at ALL least… My A2 flight jacket is perfect for Spring/Fall weather and is the jacket you’ll see me in most frequently. My A2 is over 20 years old and was made by Cooper, a firm that’s out of business now but was the official supplier to the USAF, back when the Air Force re-authorized the A2 for wear in the 1980s. The A2 I own is made of goatskin and is the “older” design, which precedes newer gub’mint-issue items manufactured after 1987. You can still buy the older model here (from Cockpit USA (formerly Avirex LTD), the current manufacturer and supplier of the A2 to the Air Force). Or… if you prefer the current, updated model (which is visually identical to the original A2 but has internal pockets)… you can buy that here.

Digression: The Second Mrs. Pennington about had a cow (man!) when I told her I wanted this jacket in the way-back. She looked at the price and flipped out… being the frugal woman she was and probably still is… telling me I could get something “just as good” for about half the price at any six stores in Detroit. But that wasn’t the point, I countered… “this is an official Mil-Spec A2!” And so it went… back ‘n’ forth. I obviously won the battle (I lost the war, but let’s not go there) and I feel somewhat vindicated, too. The jacket has lasted lo these 20+ years and looks just as good as the day I bought it. Better, even, since it’s acquired that patina one sees in old but well-kept leather. Besides that… It’s Teh Quality, Gentle Reader.

(Further digression: TSMP and I had a “one hundred dollar rule,” meaning consultation was required prior to purchasing anything over that amount. That’s a really good rule to have in a relationship, btw. It stops a lot of arguments… not to mention regrettable impulse-buys… dead in their tracks.)

(Pic: Me wearing my A2… somewhere in the Wilds of New Mexico (which is shorthand for “I don’t remember”), c. 2004.)

And those other two outer garments? One is a Yuppie-looking windbreaker with an oh-so-discreet EDS corporate logo embroidered on it. It’s nice but it’s not me. I wore that thing rarely… most often to casual corporate events back in the day where it was de rigueur to fly the flag. I don’t know why I keep it. Souvenir value, I suppose.

The other item is a Burberry trench coat, another relic from corporate days. It, too, is most versatile, warm (with the liner zipped in), good looking in a “Bond. James Bond” sort of way, and probably never will go out of style. I love that thing (as much as anyone can “love” an inanimate object), but it doesn’t quite go with the levis and tee shirt ensembles that are en vogue around here. But: I can’t bear to part with it and who knows? I may have to go to a funeral in a cold rain some day. And if that happens… I’m ready.

Well. That was much ado about not much, eh?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Makin' the Rounds...

... a superb reality-check from a previously unknown-to-me comic, Louis CK (4:12):



The man makes some great points! I kinda-sorta disagree with him on the flying experience, though, what with me being "of an age" where I can remember when flying was a pleasurable experience. Flying was beyond pleasurable, actually... it was special, in every sense of the word. Which, of course, is largely a function of the cost of a plane ticket. Flying used to be expensive back in the day and, as might be expected, fewer people could afford to fly. But today? What we have is airborne Greyhound buses, with a clientele similar to what you'd find in any bus station 30 years ago. EVERYONE can afford to fly these days, with predictable results in the experience. I'll not go further, lest you begin to get the feeling I'm one of those people...snobs, in other words. (But yeah: I am... in a lot of respects.)

But wait! There IS more. Back then: you got food, such as it was. There was no charge for checking your bags (unless you had, say, six of 'em). Drinks were free, for the most part. Flights were relatively uncrowded. Stewardesses Flight attendants were frickin' GORGEOUS and the fodder for many a male fantasy, which sometimes... in VERY rare occasions... came true. Male flight attendants were unknown. And lastly... there wasn't any of that TSA bullsh!t. There. I'm done. So much for nostalgia.

(h/t for the vid: Blog-Bud Andy)

A Friday Re-run

From EIP's earlier days... a brief history of my whereabouts over the years.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Small Towns I've Known and (Sometimes) Loved

I’ve lived in a wide variety of places in my life, big and small. In America I’ve lived in big cities like the megalopolis of Los Angeles, sophisticated, moonbat-infested San Francisco, hot and humid Washington, D.C., and gritty, industrial Detroit. I’ve also lived in medium-sized cities like Oklahoma City and Rochester, NY. Internationally, I’ve lived in Tokyo, London, Paris, and Ankara, the capital of Turkey. I’ve also spent a year or longer in garden spots like Wakkanai, Japan, and Sinop, Turkey. When I say “lived,” I mean a minimum of at least a year, two years or more is better yet. It doesn’t count, in my book, to simply visit a place for a week or two, you have to live there to know it. Of all the big cities I’ve lived in, London is my favorite, by far. But that’s another story!

The place I live, Portales, is a small town. (I’ve written about Portales before; here’s the link to a city profile, and here’s a couple of pics.) I like small towns at this stage in life for a lot of reasons, chief among which are: no traffic, friendly people, low crime, and much less complexity in day-to-day living. There are drawbacks, to be sure. I’ve mentioned a few annoyances in the past, when I’ve compared living in Portales to, say, living in San Francisco. I don’t have a broadband internet connection (ed: but we do now! Yays!), there are precious few good restaurants, and I can’t get a decent cup of coffee anywhere NEAR Portales. My local shopping options are also severely constrained. Nearby Clovis (pop. 30K) provides more options than Portales, but they’re still limited. I have to drive over two hours to either Lubbock, TX or Albuquerque to get into “mainstream” America as we know and love it. But, all that said, I love living here, for the moment. Things can, and do, change. I may wake up tomorrow morning and decide to hit the road. It’s good to have options!

I’ve lived in a number of other small towns besides Portales, and I have the Air Force to thank for that. Air Force bases aren’t generally located near big cities, but they usually are close to medium-sized towns, at the least. My career was different than most, in that I was in the radar business for the greatest part of my 22 years in the Air Force, and that meant being stationed in some very small towns. Here are a few of the small places I enjoyed.

When I was stationed at Fortuna Air Station, North Dakota, I lived in the smallest of small towns: Westby, Montana. Current population figures for Westby, MT are 153 people; there were (supposedly) 250 people living in Westby when I was there in 1977-78. The first three months I was at Fortuna, I lived in neighboring (30 miles west) Plentywood, MT, which had probably less than the current reported population of 1,855 people. I could have lived in the town of Fortuna (pop. 31), about three miles away from the radar site. Or there was Crosby, about 25 miles east of Fortuna, which now has all of 1,067 souls, again, probably a lot less in 1977...or perhaps there were more. One of North Dakota’s biggest problems is out-migration. People don’t want to stay up there. Obviously, there aren’t a lot of people living up in the Great White North of the United States!

Westby was great. You could walk the whole town in 15 minutes. There was a grain elevator, one gas station, two bars, four churches, a small grocery store, and a combination beauty parlor-laundromat-City Hall. There was no cable TV; we got two TV stations out of Williston, ND, and radio out of Regina, Saskatchewan. The nearest McDonalds was either in Regina, or Minot, ND. We used to go to Minot to party, which is why I laugh at Air Force people when they go on about how bad being assigned to Minot was. All in all, I loved my time in Fortuna/Westby, but I don’t think I’d live there again. It’s just TOO cold, and I mean TOO cold!

And then there’s Boron, CA. Current population is listed as 2,025 people, but once again, there were probably a lot less people there in 1970. I spent a year in Boron, and this place is probably the least favorite of all my USAF assignments. Smack in the middle of the Mojave desert, the best thing I can say about Boron is there was wonderful dirt-bike riding to be had! I could literally push my bike out of my garage and be in open desert in less than a minute. The second-best thing about Boron is that it was less than three hours from Los Angeles, and four hours to the ancestral home of the First Mrs. Pennington. She and I spent every available moment AWAY from Boron as was humanly possible.

A much, much better small town is North Bend, OR, population 9,620 people. The city of North Bend and its twin, Coos Bay run together. Coos Bay has 15,374 people. Since the two cities run together you have to say the total population is about 25,000. This is on the very fringe of what I’d call a “small town.” North Bend was one of the best assignments I had in the Air Force. Living on the Oregon coast was very, very pleasant, all things considered. The weather is mild, the location is beautiful beyond belief, and the people were very friendly. I’d live there again.

Klamath Falls, OR , on the other hand, is east of the Cascades and has an arid, almost desert-like climate. K-Falls currently has 19,000 people. I was stationed there from 1971 until 1975. I’ve been back once, and once was enough. Nothing remarkable there.

And finally…there’s Lompoc, CA, with a current population of 46,000 people. The city (?) had more like 25,000 when I was stationed at Vandenberg AFB from 1964 until 1967. Both of my adult children were born at the VAFB hospital and the First Mrs. Pennington still lives in Lompoc. A nice, quiet little town back in the day. My kids tell me Lompoc has gang problems these days and is suffering from growth problems, e.g., housing cost inflation. I’ll always remember Lompoc fondly; I had some great times there!

So. Small towns. Love ‘em, or leave ‘em. I’ll love mine for a while longer, thank you!

Update, 01/13/2006, 2:30 p.m. I forgot Biloxi, MS. How could I forget Biloxi? Like all other Americans, my heart aches for Biloxi these days. This small town on the Gulf Coast is home to Keesler AFB and has suffered more than most from hurricanes. I knew Biloxi before and after hurricane Camille, having been to Keesler for training in 1963, 1967, 1972, and 1980. All told, I spent the better part of two years in Biloxi, if you aggregate the time I spent there on four PCS/TDY assignments.

I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Biloxi. I spent a good portion of the "wild" days of my youth in some of the best and worst dive bars in all of North America. I lolled on the beach. I played with my kids in various parks in and around Biloxi. I made the short trip from Biloxi to New Orleans more times than I can remember. I ate some of the best seafood I ever had in Biloxi and neighboring towns. Yea, I have fond, fond memories of Biloxi. And I wish the residents of this lovely town all the best in their efforts to rebuild their city and their lives.
I added the pics to accompany the post today... coz I didn't post all that many photos along with my earlier posts. We live and learn (how to blog). On another note... the "whereabouts" I mentioned in today's introductory sentence are all US-specific (obviously). Perhaps I'll do a similar post someday about the small towns I lived in overseas. Don't hold your breath, Gentle Reader.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dirty Work... Second Try

Well… I’ve been wondering, ya know. I’ve asked the question from time to time and have never really gotten an answer. Why? Because there is no answer. Michael Kinsley, writing in the WaPo (“Let the Guy Smoke”):

Obama has never denied that he was a smoker for much of his adult life. He said as early as February 2007 that he had promised his wife he would quit in order to run for president. He also admitted as recently as this June -- when his presidential campaign was about three-quarters over -- that he hadn't done so. In May the Obama campaign released a carefully worded letter from his doctor, who wrote that Obama's "own history included intermittent cigarette smoking. He has quit this practice on several occasions and is currently using Nicorette gum with success." Obama has declined to amplify.

The instructions on Nicorette say to stop smoking before starting with the gum and to stop using the gum after 12 weeks. We know, because he has said as much, that Obama was still smoking the month after his doctor said he was using the gum. And even if he smoked his last cigarette on May 28, the day before his doctor said he was on gum therapy, the 12 weeks would have elapsed Aug. 20. Wouldn't you think that some reporter since then would have asked Obama whether the gum had worked? Yet no one seems to have asked.


“No one seems to have asked.” Dang, I may have heard that line before… somewhere. Ya think? This issue is a nit, to be sure, but it’s also symptomatic of the general lack of curiosity on the part of The Media where The One is concerned, innit? I’m also somewhat taken aback at Kinsley’s last word on this subject:

Obama's steely calm is now one of our country's major assets. If he needs an occasional cigarette to preserve it, let's hand him an ashtray, offer him a light and look the other way.

An Über-Lib offering apologies for the nasty habit, including a suggestion we just look the other way or even facilitate this deviant behavior? Well, now! Who’d a thunk it? No one gave ME that option back in the day when I still indulged. Nope… I had to go huddle in the doorway down on the street along with the rest of the degenerates to get my fix, all the while subjected to hard looks, glares, and the not-at-all-well-concealed opprobrium of passers by. One wonders if there will be ashtrays in the Oval Office or if Barack will have to step outside into the Rose Garden to quiet his Jones. Ditto for Air Force One, where I’m sure smoking is banned. Oh, well. We must be tolerant now, mustn’t we?

―:☺:―

Blown opportunity… That would be yesterday. I was up until the crack o’ dawn yesterday morning, going to bed somewhere around 0600 and staying that way until 1300 hrs. This sort of behavior always leaves me with something akin to a hangover, minus the throbbing pain. Nope… it’s just that left-of-center, out of sorts feeling that hangs on most of the day before we finally get back to what passes for “normal” here at El Casa Móvil De Pennington. So… why is this a blown opportunity, you ask? The weather, Gentle Reader… the weather. Yesterday was just flat frickin’ gorgeous. Bright sunshine, 72 degrees (at 1400 hrs, an hour after I woke up), and no wind. Perfect Happy Hour weather, in other words. I blew if off.

And I have regrets:

Today is NOT a nice day here on The High Plains of New Mexico. We will defer Happy Hour until sometime this weekend, as it were. More’s the pity.


―:☺:―


Finally… here’s some Steely Dan for ya. There’s no point at all to the Clintonista imagery, although it IS entertaining in a retro kinda way. Sorta. Nope… what we’re on about here is Dirty Work’s superb music and lyrics, as the song happens to be one of my all-time favorite Steely Dan tunes.


Good, innit? I'd tell ya why this song (ahem) strikes a lot of different chords with me... but I don't want to shatter any illusions you may hold about my...umm... moral values (and those of certain women in my past, as well). I leave you to wonder, Gentle Reader.

(You may ask what this "Second Try" is all about... I originally published this piece at 0942 hrs this morning. Blog-Bud Barry e-mailed me a few minutes ago to let me know the post was showing up in his RSS reader, but NOT in his browser. Sho 'nuff... IE couldn't see it, but all was well in FireFox. I cut and pasted the post into a NEW post, written in Blogger's "Compose" window, but the cut 'n' pasted bits didn't show up when I hit "publish." BOTH offending pieces have been removed... and I'm left looking a lil bit like the Verizon Guy... which is to say, wondering: "Can you see me NOW?")