Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year, Indeed

I'm just in from running the day's errands and it's a pretty nice day outside...

December 31st?  A 70 degree forecast?  I'll take it... along with an outdoor Happy Hour.

I Love This Stuff

Ten minutes that make ya pause, think, and marvel...

I remember the historical events in the first part of this video, at least the stuff that begins about the time Sputnik was launched.  I also remember somewhat more vividly the mystique and aura surrounding our satellite reconnaissance capabilities during the '70s and the '80s, mainly because I worked on the technical side... on the periphery... of the spy business during that time.  The surveillance satellites discussed in the video played a VERY large part in putting me out of a job, actually, given the fact the ground-based monitoring systems I worked on did the same sort of work at a much higher cost and produced significantly inferior results.

The thing that REALLY blows me away, however, is the fact these satellites and their supporting infrastructure were designed and deployed in the 1950s and 1960s, without the benefits of either internet or massive computing capabilities.  Ain't that SUMTHIN'?

h/t:  This article in The Atlantic.

Friday, December 30, 2011


I threw out the remains of Christmas dinner today (see: left), which was about half of a three and a half pound brisket.  There wouldn't have been NEAR that much left under normal circumstances but I overcooked the damned thang to the point where it was tougher than a dog's chew toy.  My dinner guest, to her everlasting credit, said "it's fine" when I complained/apologized for the quality of the meat and she even went back for seconds.  The cook really appreciates that sorta thang, yanno?  Even if we know in our heart o' hearts the girl was stretching the truth a wee bit.

So... the brisket went, after one episode of reheated leftovers and one episode of homemade Reuben sammiches, the latter which weren't TOO bad, given I shredded the slices of brisket to near baby food consistency.  The veggie remnants (the best part o' that meal) were consumed in their entirety on Boxing Day.  With great relish.


I've noticed there are at least two ads currently running on the Fox News Channel for devices that prevent snoring.  What I want to know is why ALL the testimonials come from MEN.  Seriously... BOTH ads feature perky women complaining about their husbands keeping them up at night until such time as they purchased the product bein' flogged, with one particularly egregious example showing the Snoring Husband bein' banished to the couch.  I suppose wimmen don't snore in teevee land, but I'm here to tell ya that ain't true in the Real World.  I've shared a bed with a couple o' wimmen in the past that would give a Weyerhaeuser mill serious competition in the noise department... so much so that I went and slept on their couch.  Willingly.  Out o' necessity.


And then there's this in the "Not Your Father's Air Force" department:
Bod Pod Battle: The 50th Space Wing at Schriever AFB, Colo., has introduced a new twist to the age-old New Year's resolution of losing weight and getting in better shape. The wing's "Bod Pod" competition will pit squadrons against each other in a battle to cut body fat. Beginning on Jan. 1, participants will have two weeks to step into the Bod Pod at the base's health and wellness center to get their body fat measured. The machine, which resembles a giant egg from the outside, uses air displacement to calculate body density and body fat. Once measured, airmen will have until late March to tone up before entering the Bod Pod once again for final measurements to determine the winners. "We really want to encourage airmen to start the New Year on the right foot by learning exactly where their body fat numbers are," said Christopher Woodruff, Schriever's HAWC health promotions educator. He added, "Body fat, when in reference to health, plays a big roll." (Schriever report by SSgt. Patrice Clarke)
Two thangs:  First and foremost, you don't need a freakin' Bod Pod (I love THAT term) to know if you're fat or if you need to get in shape; what a tremendous waste o' money that is.  Second, it's ROLE, dammit.  Don't make me come down there...

A Miserable Excuse for a Post

Well, OK.  Only because Sunny ain't got any new stuff.

And there's this...

Coz it's that time o' year.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pretty Cool

"Our Way of Life"

Well... yeah.  There's one very brief overhead view of an arena in this vid where 20,000 people rise to their feet as one, arms in the air, cheering, after a goal is scored.  I've been there and seen... done... that and there's damned few sights in life that compare to that spontaneous spectacle.  There are times when I sure do miss Detroit and The Joe.

h/t:  The Usual Hockey Source.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

More From the In-Box

Lotsa stuff in there this "morning," most of it delete-key fodder.  Like this:

I've never had a subscription to the NYT, unless you count the four month Sunday-edition Christmas gift subscription I got from a buddy back in '96 or '97.  The NYT must really be hurtin' if they're sendin' stuff like this out.

And then there's this:

I've never bought anything from Amazon's herbs, spices, and seasonings department but I DID click on a link to 25 Tahitian Vanilla Beans in an old post by Blog-Bud Andy.  Amazon NEVER forgets... that's pretty scary, sometimes.

From my daily Townhall newsletter... there are new political cartoons at the Usual Source, this among them:

You might wanna watch Monday's video again.

The Usual USAF Source reminds me where I should be at 1430 hrs today:
Go Falcons!: The Air Force Academy Falcons host the University of Toledo Rockets Wednesday in the Military Bowl at RFK Stadium in the nation's capital. ESPN will air the football game nationally at 4:30 p.m. East Coast time. "The game is all about the men and women of our military and raising support and awareness for the USO, so having a military academy represented in the Air Force Academy versus an exciting, high-scoring Toledo Rockets team is great for our game," said Steve Beck, Military Bowl president and executive director, in a release. The Falcons, members of the Mountain West Conference, finished their regular season with a winning 7-5 record. They are making a bowl appearance for the fifth consecutive year, a school record. The Rockets, from the Mid-American Conference, finished their season with eight wins and four losses. This marks the two teams' first meeting. (See also the academy's game notes; caution, large-sized file.)
OK, it ain't a BCS bowl.  So?  

The Air Force game is only an hour from now; I just poured my second cup and haven't even begun to make the blog-rounds.  I'm upside down again, sleep-wise, and to further complicate things it's a nice day outside (55 degrees!) and there are errands to be run.  I don't see how I'm gonna get everythang I wanna do done... sumthin's gonna have to give and it might be the football game.

Update, 1430 hrs:  This:

I deleted that, too.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Another Update

I KNOW all y'all are just dying to know how the election turned out, right?  I mean I've been inundated with off-line communications asking just that question.  Well, sorta.  Well, not at ALL.  But that's beside the point, coz I'm gonna tell ya anyhoo.  Here it is:
With Sunday liquor sales approved by voters on Dec. 13, businesses serving alcoholic beverages are already in the process of turning in their applications for Sunday liquor licenses, according to Portales City Clerk Joan Martinez-Terry.


Cattle Baron Manager Richard Chambers said he believes Portales has more to offer people and this is one way of bringing more to the community.

He said the Sunday liquor sales will also bring more jobs to the community.

“Vines will be open on Sundays now, so that’s going to be a whole other day they weren’t open before and they are going to have to hire new people and I’ll have to hire new people as well,” Chambers said. “I think it’s great for Portales that people won’t be driving to Clovis to eat and have a glass of wine or beer. There aren’t a lot of eating options here, so it will be good for the community.”
That last bit is oh-so-true... we don't have a lot o' dining options.  One other thang you should know: the vote was 311-278 in favor of Sunday alcohol sales.  It was a near run thang, but P-Ville has been dragged... kicking and screaming... into the 21st century.  Well, sorta.  You still can't buy beer on Sundays at Wally-World or anywhere else (except at Cannon Airplane Patch), for that matter.  One small step...


An update... Last week I posted a lil blurb and a photo about the last military flight out of Iraq and there was some discussion in comments about the troops on that aircraft... like "did they make it home for Christmas?"  Well, one of the guys or gals on that plane dropped by EIP last evening and left this comment:
Anonymous said...
You will be happy to know, though we were delayed in Kuwait for a couple days, everyone on that last flight made it safely home for Christmas. Thank you all and I hope you had a very Merry Christmas.
 Welcome home, Sir or Madam... and thank you.


It sure is a slow week... the Usual USAF Source is taking the week off, there aren't any new political cartoons at Townhall today, the Guardian didn't publish their favorite vids last Friday, and blog traffic is down.  But there's this, which you've prolly already seen since there were over a million Facebook shares and it was on Red Eye:

I think the ending is cool... poetic justice if there ever was such a thang.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cue Up Tevye

As in... Tradition!  Blogging tradition, that is.  This year we'll just post a link to our UCR Boxing Day post.  If you've read it, you've read it and if you haven't?  Well, do what ya think is right.  Here's a pic from the sometimes-revised story to whet yer appetite:

To quote myself: "That's SN1, The Lovely Miz Lynch, and YrHmblScrb at a world-famous pile o' rocks, the pic which just might have been taken 20 21 years ago today."  That's not entirely true, it would be more like 21 years ago the day after tomorrow.  I spent Boxing Day of 1990 partying in London.


We wound up with a White Christmas after all.  It snowed lightly ALL day yesterday but the temp stayed stuck at 32 degrees or just slightly above until nightfall.  The upshot was we got about a one inch accumulation after sunset, with wet streets and patches of snow prior to that.  We were completely white when I got up this morning but it's melting off rapidly on its way to 40-something degrees.  Still and even: prettier than it sounds.


I saw this Christmas Eve but didn't wanna ruin Christmas by posting political shit.  After all, Christmas IS a time of peace on earth and good will toward men, and that would include Young President Barry.  But this is pretty good...

Yeah... I've used the theme from Masterpiece Theatre to play the pompous ass myself.  Perfect!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Santa Update II

Santa's biggest challenge in Amsterdam might be understated.  Or flat out wrong... keeping Rudolph away from those other red lights might be right up there on the challenge list, too.  I found that to be true.  But I DID enjoy the architecture; that's why I went.  That and other cultural opportunities.

My server at The Bulldog, c. 1999.

Santa Update

I'm surprised the PLA Air Force didn't shoot him down.  Or detain and accuse him of bein' a Runnin' Dog Capitalist spy.  I guess New Capitalism does mellow ya.  Somewhat.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Don't Forget!

I'm getting excited!  We ALWAYS track Santa here at EIP; it's in our blood.
Back when I was in the radar biz we used to do this sort of thing locally for the families of the guys at the radar sites where I was stationed. Back in the day every USAF long-range aircraft control and warning (AC&W) radar site had a video mapping device that fed programmed exercise video to Operations; the normal output from the video mapper was "canned" and consisted of video blips simulating actual aircraft. The video mapper was used to train ground-control intercept controllers and technicians during the course of “normal” business, but we put that video mapper to a much different use at Christmas. On Christmas Eve we'd load up a special video overlay and route it to the intercept control scopes in Operations. While "exercise" video consisted of fake bogeys (simple blips) and tracks to train intercept controllers and technicians, the special Santa video showed a sleigh and reindeer on the scopes, and of course the sleigh moved…traversing our radar coverage area. Not nearly real, but real enough for the kids that saw it! (And for the adults, too…those willing to “suspend disbelief,” as it were.)

The kids always got a big thrill out of the radar displays. Doing the Santa video was one of the most fun things I ever did while I was a radar guy.
My first Santa tracking experience was at Lompoc Air Force Station during Christmas of 1964.  A lot o' water has passed under the bridge since then, but I still get a kick out of tracking Santa. 
I always put this up on Christmas Eve (or close to it).

I SAID It Was Seasonal, Right?

Those of us here on The High Plains o' New Mexico are getting our White Christmas ya-ya's out today.  Which is a case o' gettin' while the gettin' is good, coz we're gonna be in the low to mid-50s on Christmas Day.

It's dark enough to cause my flash to fire.

The usual, customary, etc., snowbirds
I'm really glad the snow is light, not that I have anywhere to go or stuff to do, which I don't.  But I KNOW there are folks traveling as we speak... and they don't need no steenkin' blizzards.


 First... this, from the Usual Source:

Heh.  Santa did drones before drones were cool.

Second... Another sort o' surveillance.  I'd been up almost exactly four minutes when there was a knock on my door and it was my neighbor, who dropped by to gift me with a bottle o' wine for Christmas.  So there I was, still half-asleep, coffee pot not even lit off yet, and with bed-hair.  Tryin' to be sociable.  I didn't even MENTION the fact I just got up (at sumthin' like 1310 hrs and we have appearances to keep up, or secrets to hide, whichever), I just toughed it out.  I think I did a pretty good job of it, too... as she invited me down to her place to take a look at her new furniture.  The woman has good taste.  She may not think the same about me, given my appearance this "morning."

Third... It sure does look Christmas-y/Seasonal outdoors: it's in the mid-20s with the occasional snow flurry blowing by my window.  That's almost enough to overcome my usual, customary, and not-unreasonable humbuggery, but not quite.  Mainly coz it's dark and gray (requiring indoor lighting; that kind o' "dark") and I'm not fully caffeinated yet.  But we're working on the latter: I just poured my second cup.  


Thursday, December 22, 2011

I'm Fallin' Down On the Job

Sunny's had a new video out for three days and I just now watched it.

I blame the winter blahs for my oversight.  I promise to do better in future.

From the In-Box

My Good Buddy Ed In Florida sends along the following photo essay...

Heh.  I wouldn't wanna be that 104 pilot.  Coal.  Lotsa coal.


So, there I was...eating dinner around 1715 hrs and there's a knock on the door.  I open the door and there's my friendly UPS guy, asking me to sign for my spiffy new hard drive.  About which:

That lil blue thang is the new drive, which has two and a half times the capacity of the old drive (500 GB vs. 200 GB) at half the cost, in a package that is literally a fraction of the old drive's size.  It's USB powered, too, so there will be one less unsightly power cord hangin' off the box once I retire the old drive.  Granted, the old drive is over four years old and the techies NEVER stand still.  Still and even: impressive.  I technology.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Things We Like to See

One of which is this, from ESPN's Scott Burnside:
There are lots of interesting names to kick around when it comes to handicapping the Vezina Trophy race as we hit the end of the calendar year -- some familiar, some not. Here’s a look at our top five plus some honorable mentions.

1. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings
A couple of things stand out for us when it comes to the likable Detroit netminder. First, he leads the NHL in the one stat that trumps all others: wins. But beyond his 20 victories, Howard has been one of the busiest goalies in the league, ranking third in minutes played and 10th in shots against. In short, Howard has been a rock for the Wings, especially when they were struggling to find their offensive game, holding the fort with a 1.91 GAA fifth-best in the league.

“He’s been our best player for sure,” Detroit head coach Mike Babcock told during the Wings’ pre-Christmas western road trip.

The Wings, 12-3-0 in their past 15 games, are three points back of Chicago for the Central Division and Western Conference leads, and the rapidly maturing Howard is a big part of the team’s success.

“We’re playing him a lot. We’re riding him, but he’s young,” said Babcock, joking that Howard, 27, has plenty of time to rest later. 
Goaltending has always been an issue in Detroit, real or imagined, and Red Wings goaltenders don't get no respect, in general.  Case in point: Howard leads the league in wins and is among the best in other goalie metrics, like save percentage.  Yet he wasn't included in the All-Star game balloting.  The NHL nominated 18 freakin' goalies, several of whom who have been... ahem... decidedly pedestrian in their performance this year, but didn't see fit to include Howard?  No respect.

But that's OK.  Jimmy sez the exclusion from All-Star balloting doesn't bother him and his performance tends to back that up.  It'll be interesting to watch how the remainder of the season unfolds but it looks like the NHL has egg all OVER its face at this particular point in time.

Broadening Our Horizons XXXIX

The errands are done and I was most gratified to see the local likker locker expanded their selection of Abita beers to include Purple Haze and Turbodog, the latter of which comes highly recommended by Occasional Reader Anon.  Or one of the Anons, anyhoo.  So ya know what we did...

MMMmmm!  Malty!  Caramel-y!  The Bros rate this beer as "exceptional," and I wholeheartedly agree.  Good stuff, Maynard... and Turbodog will become a fixture in these parts.  It's a new fave.

Bonus:  Tonight's dessert managed to sneak into the picture.  I wonder how that happened?  Yeah, it's a bought-punkin-pie, not homemade.  Don't gimmee no grief, mmm-kay?  OTOH, you could gimmee pie.  Homemade pie.

Held Hostage

That would be me, to The Brown Truck o' Happiness, as in: awaiting its arrival.  I knew exactly when... give or take 15 minutes... TBToH would arrive in Beautiful La Hacienda Trailer Park and the operators of said trucks rarely let me down.  I was disappointed on occasion, but that was always when my Usual Driver was on vacation.  I've yet to figger out what the schedule is here in the new neighborhood, but I suppose that will come with time.

Nonetheless, I have errands to run, likker lockers to visit, and sustenance to purchase.  It galls me that I can't get these thangs done while the WX is relatively nice, read as: I won't freeze my old ass off in the doing.  I suppose I could go sit out on the verandah and wait for TBToH but the WX ain't THAT nice (it's the wind, it's almost ALWAYS the wind).  That and the fact the usual, customary, and reasonable verandah activities would tend to render me (technically) unable to drive, at least in the eyes and breathylizers of the local gendarmerie.  We don't push the edges of that particular envelope now that we are older and somewhat wiser.

Oh.  We're waiting on a spiffy new external hard drive, a device with two and a half times the capacity of the old external drive.  Which capacity is needed, and all that.  Merry Christmas to me.

Update, four minutes later:  Well, shit.

I guess we'll go run our errands now.

Kinda Sorta Like New Year's Eve

That would be this year's winter solstice, which happens at 2230 hrs MST tonight.  I'll be sure to have a drink to celebrate and think winter thoughts when that time rolls around this evening.  Actually, that's not quite right... what I'll really be celebrating is the fact the days will get incrementally longer after today, and that's a Good Thing.  We always celebrate the solstice in these parts; here's what we said (in part) a couple o' years ago:

Celebrating the Solstice

The sun, nearing winter solstice, travels low across the sky in a multiple-exposure picture made in Maine in 2002.  (photo: NatGeo)

Cool pic, eh?  So, yesterday was the Winter Solstice and it's official: we're all in winter now.  Yays, and all that.  I suppose most people in the eastern half of the country don't need an announcement to confirm winter's arrived... all that white stuff piled up in your driveways and beside the road should be enough, eh?   

So... we gave some thought Sunday about an impromptu trip to Stonehenge to celebrate the solstice, knowing as we do it's a right good time and big party occasion.  The Second Mrs. Pennington and I DID think about driving down that way on the solstice (both winter and summer) when we lived in Ol' Blighty but we somehow never got around to it... and we were MUCH closer then than I am now.  And then there's the somewhat inconvenient fact my passport expired five years ago.  So:  the trip was a non-starter from the git-go.  There are home-grown alternatives to the original, like Carhenge up in Nebraska or the Cadillac Ranch... a mere two hours from where I sit.  I don't think either locations are big party sites, what with being a lil short on Druids and/or other types of pantheists, and I wasn't all that fired up for a drive... even one of only two hours duration... so we threw those alternatives to the wayside as well.  
Yeah, I'll stay at home today/tonight as well.  And just for the record: my passport expired seven or mebbe even eight years ago.  We strive for accuracy in reporting here at EIP.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Love This Ad

Yeah, there could be a home for that chair Chez Buck.  But what boggles my mind is the fact someone/anyone on God's green earth would buy Blues paraphernalia.  I'm surprised that stuff is even manufactured, let alone sold.

I'm watching the 'hawks - Flightless Birds as we speak.  Are you sitting down?  I'm rooting for Pittsburgh; it's a matter of enlightened self-interest.  The Blackhawks lead the Central (and Dee-troit) by three points, ergo they need to lose a game or four.  But here they are... coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the third to make it a 3-2 game.  This has been a pretty entertaining contest.

I'm Not Gonna Go There

Or mebbe I will.  Those of us "of a certain age" are entirely capable of being "just friends" with the opposite sex, and the great majority of my friends are women... speakin' on a personal and therefore purely anecdotal basis.  That said, those of us "of a certain age" are much more likely to recognize and honor moral boundaries, such as marriage or other serious commitments (read between the lines here).  Further, I'm tryin' to think of a single example of a current woman friend that isn't in some sorta relationship and no one comes to mind.  We're not counting casual acquaintances, like one of my single female neighbors whom I'd do in a heartbeat, as if THAT would ever happen.  I could tell ya a funny story in this space, but that well and truly would be TMI (aside to SN1: no comments, please).

There was a point in time... before I hit that "certain age"... when I slept with most of my female friends (those that were willing, anyhoo) and I don't think I was all that unusual in that regard.  I'd further submit the young guys in this video are seriously missing the point.  I mean after all... what are friends FOR?

♪♫ Someone to Watch Over Me ♫♪

Here (top), Lt. Col. Joseph Paguiligan, mission commander aboard the JSTARS aircraft, monitors operations during the historic mission. At bottom, Maj. Steve Eadie lands his U-2 at an undisclosed air base in Southwest Asia after completing the final manned ISR flight over Iraq on that same day.  Air Force photos by TSgt. DeNoris A. Mickle and SSgt. J.G. Buzanowski
Overhead Vigilance Helped Keep Final Iraq Convoy Safe: A lone U-2 Dragon Lady and an E-8C JSTARS were among the aircraft that flew the final intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance sorties over Iraq to guard the last US convoy as it drove into Kuwait to complete the US military pullout. "We were able to cover and support, from the air, the last boots on the ground going across the border, bringing a close to a nearly nine-year war in Iraq," said Lt. Col. Curtis Bass, commander of the 7th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron, a JSTARS unit, of the Dec. 18 mission. "It's a good feeling to watch those last [vehicles] roll out; it's a historic occasion," he added. "The best part about it was it was quiet," said Maj. Steve Eadie, a U-2 pilot with the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron. "There were no issues as they were leaving. . . . I'm proud to have been a part of it," he noted. Also providing overwatch for the historic final convoy were Predator remotely piloted aircraft and F-16s, Air Force officials have said. (Air Forces Central report by SrA. Sara Csurilla) (380th AEW report SSgt. J.G. Buzanowski)
I'm glad our guys made it out without "incidents" along the way.  It's also good to know USAF had our troops' back during the final days of the pull-out. 

The post title?  This...

Ella's always appropriate.


In other news... So I watched (as instructed by the NWS in ABQ) for that winter storm all day yesterday and into the wee smalls of this morning.  Total snow accumulation?  Zero.  Zip.  Nada.  That's not to say we didn't get ANY snow; it really did come down at times, almost obscuring the view of 18th Street from my window on occasion, but our temps were just too warm for any of the icky white stuff to stay on the ground. Yet another case of someone watching over me.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Seen this yet (from Time)?
Google, maker of such hit Easter eggs as “Do a Barrel Roll” and “Tilt,” has apparently gotten into the holiday spirit: Open up Google (it’s a search engine, very popular with the kids these days) and enter “Let it snow” into the search box.

Soon you’ll be privy to gentle snowfall filling up your browser along with links to Rat Pack renditions of “Let it Snow” on YouTube. Wait long enough and your screen will completely frost over.
You can even write your name in the snow (with your mouse, sicko).
A couple o' screen-shots from my desktop:

Written with my mouse, of course.  Pervert.

Update:  More here, including the fact this Easter Egg won't work for everyone.  To wit:
Just don't try to use it on older browsers, such as the popular Internet Explorer 6, 7, or 8 -- or old versions of Safari of Firefox, for that matter. 

"Let it snow" works only in browsers that support "Canvas," part of the relatively new HTML 5 code that many developers use to create new webpages, a spokeswoman said (including the newest version of Microsoft's browser, IE 9).
Yet another argument for upgrading.

In Which I Bring Teh Cute

Yeah, it's all sweetness and light until they pee all over every-freakin'-thang and chew a hole in the arm of your couch.  Go ahead... ask me how I know.

That said, I still miss my puppehs.

h/t:  The Shoebox blog.

Oh, Goodie

I'm glad I'm stocked up coz it looks a lot like I'm gonna be housebound for the next couple o' few:

It's all gray and windy outside at the moment with off and on drizzle and it looks like this is the sorta day when it's ALL downhill from here.  I notice that areas slightly to the north of us are under blizzard warnings, so I suppose thangs could be worse.  This is bad enough for me, thankyaverymuch.

We're Out

The occasion was all over the news yesterday and today... Hell, Fox News even sent Geraldo to Kuwait to cover the withdrawal, an event I took a pass on.  I can't think of one single, solitary reason to lend my eyes to anything featuring that guy.  Period.  That said, I did see several smaller pieces here and there, one o' them being this one from the Usual USAF Source:

Sixty-two airmen and 55 soldiers flew aboard a C-17 from Imam Ali Base in southern Iraq to Kuwait, Dec. 17, 2011. This was the final US military flight from Iraq as part of the phased pullout of US troops, which concluded on the following day. Here, the airmen and soldiers aboard the C-17 prior to its takeoff.  Air Force photo by MSgt. Cecilio Ricardo
Last US Military Flight Leaves Iraq: Iraqi-Kuwaiti theater—Sixty-two airmen and 55 soldiers assigned to Camp Adder, known to the Iraqis as the Imam Ali Base, on the outskirts of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq, boarded a C-17 from Travis AFB, Calif., on Dec. 17 for a flight back to Kuwait. It was the last flight from the last US military base on the last night of Operation New Dawn, said Maj. Gen. Anthony Rock, 321st Air Expeditionary Wing commander, who flew from Kuwait back to Iraq to thank the troops for their service and make the historic flight back with them. The Daily Report was aboard for both legs. "This is a very historic night. I encourage all of you to look at the airmen to your left and to your right and shake their hands," said Maj. Gen. Russell Handy, the senior Air Force leader in Iraq, who also made the flight back to greet the troops. Handy told the airmen to remember the hundreds of thousands who served before them and the 4,500 Americans who gave their lives in Iraq. "We buy a lot of equipment in the Air Force, but it's really all about the people. If there was ever an operation that was about the people, it's what we did here in Iraq. Thanks for your service and everything you've done," he said. Camp Adder transitioned back to the Iraqis on Dec. 16.
—Amy McCullough
Thanks for your service, indeed.  There are NO words to express the debt o' gratitude we owe these fine young people.  The old ones, too.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Digital Pack Rat

Which is why we have hard drives measured in terabytes now.
I got off the dime yesterday last night and turned up the new desktop which, predictably, did not go off without a hitch.  The first issue?  My backup software... Norton Save & Restore... doesn't run on Win7, it runs on XP and Vista.  Only.  I could read the handwriting on THAT wall, yet I still contacted Norton's support center in Bangalore for an interesting yet time consuming chat.  After a 15 minute wait for "the next available technician" Prajeep informed me he couldn't help (coz he wasn't trained on N-S&R) and transferred me to Rudhpo, who confirmed my suspicions: S&R V2.0 doesn't run on Win7 and is no longer a supported product.  After another half-hour and 55 Yankee Dollars we had Norton Ghost 15 downloaded, installed, and were ready to begin recovering our considerable archives.

Which, one more stroke on the dead horse's back: the software appears to be IDENTICAL to N-S&R v2.0.  Same interface, same colors, same menus, same every-damned-thang, except it runs on Win7. There are no added features that I could see, save its ability to access my checking account, which benefits NORTON but not ME.  I would have told Norton to fuck off but I was a hostage... pay the ransom if you want your data back.  So I did.  But I didn't LIKE it.

We began the file and folder restore process around 2100 hrs and completed it shortly after 0300 hrs this morning... or after about approximately 73,000 files had been restored to the new box.  You have to babysit the restore process to prevent file duplication and also to avoid overwriting existing files on the new box with bad data from your archived image... specifically in the case of "ini" files.  I'm quite certain Win7's ini files are different than Vista's.  We installed other bits and pieces of software whilst babysitting and attempted to get rid of all the crap HP loads on a peesee... stuff you neither want nor will ever use.  Why vendors do that particular trick is beyond me, as well.  But they all do it.  And we digress.

So.  I have a few minor thangs left to do today (Firefox, again? or stay with IE9 which seems to be pretty fast?) before we're done but the majority of the work is complete.  The good news is all those files seem to have made it through to the new box OK and I can continue being a digital pack rat.  We all need stuff like photos of old co-workers from 1998 that we can no longer name, right?  That, and other stuff.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack

Just because we haven't shared our soundtrack of late doesn't mean we've been without one.  Oh, no... there's always music in our life, even if it's only in our head.  This tune was part o' today's abbreviated outdoor Happy Hour, abbreviated because (a) we got a late start and (b) it was three clicks to the right o' "chilly."  But... here's what we were listening to:

That's the Ann Peebles version of a song Etta James does best, and it was Etta we were listening to today.  Alas, the Tube o' You doesn't have a suitable version of Etta doin' the tune, only a couple o' poorly-recorded live versions.  But Miz Peebles does an entirely credible version of the song, as you may have noticed.

I've been privileged to see Etta James on a number of occasions, the most memorable o' which was in a small pub in Camden Town (in London) back in the day, which is to say sometime during 1980 - 1983.  When I say "small," I mean SMALL... as in "could mebbe seat 100 people, with another 50 standing."  The Second Mrs. Pennington and I arrived at said pub about two hours before show time in order to secure seats before Etta's performance, knowing full well how small it was from previous experience with that venue.  The end result was we were both very well-oiled by the time Etta took the stage (and I use the term "stage" loosely)  but that did NOT diminish the experience in the least.  Miz James did two sets that night, if memory serves, and that evening was one of my very best musical experiences... which included the opportunity to say "hi" and thank her personally for her performance.  It don't get no better than that, Gentle Reader.

Oh So Briefly

I just now poured my first cup and I really, rilly hate it when I do stuff like this.  Half the day: gone.  It's a matter of guilt and the vestiges of Type-A behavior that refuse to go away completely, I suppose... no matter that I didn't go to bed until 0500 this morning.  But it is what it is.

I spent a great deal o' time yesterday, measured in hours and hours, reading Christopher Hitchens obituaries and there are MANY.  The most interesting thang, to me, was that it seemed like everyone had a favorite Hitch story to relate, no matter if the person writing the obituary was American, British, Irish, or some other nationality.  It didn't seem to matter if the obit writer agreed with Hitch's many, and often contradicting, views on political or philosophical matters.  The man was genuinely liked and respected by a wide range of people great and small.  There were also a few stories about the way Hitchens handled the death sentence that is cancer and the dignity he maintained in his final days.  I hope I have the same sort of intestinal fortitude when my time comes.

And now it's off to make the rounds.  BTW... The image above?  It's a button, and I just might buy one.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Broadening Our Horizons XXXVIII

This could be BOH XXXVII, Part Two... seein' as how we went back to the well today for yet another seasonal installment from that lil ol' brewery in Bawston.  Well, let's make it that Big-Ass brewery in Bawston, just for accuracy's sake.

Today we're indulging in my favorite selection from the 12-pack, the Black and Brew:

This is some seriously tasty beer despite the terminally-cute name, which is an all too obvious reference to this beer's main taste components: coffee and malt.  How could one NOT like this combination?  I mean... it's caffeine and alcohol together, two of the four major food groups (the other two bein' nicotine and sugar).  The only thang that's missing is sex.

And now we shall adjourn to the verandah for our second outdoor Happy Hour in as many days.  It's warm enough today that we don't need our flea jacket... just a sweater, a cigar, and that beer I just poured.  Life is good.

RIP, Christopher Hitchens

I just now learned one of my heroes passed yesterday... Christopher Hitchens, dead at 62.  From the link:
But if one needed any proof of Hitchens’ impact and far-reaching respect, the Atlantic’s Nicholas Jackson has it: The New York Times changed its front page well into the night to put Hitchens’ obituary on it.

“That is, the most influential newspaper in the world has put its work and printing process on hold to make room on the front page for the obituary of a single man. If that isn't a testament to his work, I don't know what is.”
I'll remember Mr. Hitchens for the innumerable times I was thankful to the man for his immaculate prose that both entertained and enlightened.  I have way too many favorite pieces of his to name just one, but this will do as an example.  From "Hitch 22," his recent memoir:
“Care to meet the new Leader?” Who could refuse? 

Within moments, Margaret Thatcher and I were face to face. Within moments, too, I had turned away and was showing her my buttocks. I suppose that I must give some sort of explanation for this. Almost as soon as we shook hands on immediate introduction, I felt that she knew my name and had perhaps connected it to the socialist weekly that had recently called her rather sexy. While she struggled adorably with this moment of pretty confusion, I felt obliged to seek controversy and picked a fight with her on a detail of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe policy. 

She took me up on it. I was (as it chances) right on the small point of fact, and she was wrong. But she maintained her wrongness with such adamantine strength that I eventually conceded the point and even bowed slightly to emphasize my acknowledgment.

“No,” she said. “Bow lower!” Smiling agreeably, I bent forward a bit farther. “No, no,” she trilled. “Much lower!” By this time, a little group of interested bystanders was gathering. I again bent forward, this time much more self-consciously. Stepping around behind me, she unmasked her batteries and smote me on the rear with the parliamentary order-paper that she had been rolling into a cylinder behind her back. I regained the vertical with some awkwardness.  As she walked away, she looked back over her shoulder and gave an almost imperceptibly slight roll of the hip while mouthing the words: “Naughty boy!” 

I had and have eyewitnesses to this. At the time, though, I hardly believed it myself. It is only from a later perspective, looking back on the manner in which she slaughtered and cowed all the former male leadership of her party and replaced them with pliant tools, that I appreciate the premonitory glimpse—of what someone in another context once called “the smack of firm government”—that I had been afforded. 

Even at the time, as I left that party, I knew I had met someone rather impressive. And the worst of “Thatcherism,” as I was beginning by degrees to discover, was the rodent slowly stirring in my viscera: the uneasy but unbanishable feeling that on some essential matters she might be right.
RIP, Hitch.  Thank you. 

Didja Watch It?

I have no stomach for the "debates," or the soundbite parade, or the "lookin' for the gotcha moment," or whatever you want to call what these gotdamned sideshows have evolved into this year.  It's all I can do to read reasonable commentary about the event... actually watching the thangs would be a bridge waaay too far, as even the day-after soundbites irritate the piss outta me. 

No mention of the debates would be complete without my UCR rant against Fox: NO Red Eye last night, just a re-run of the sideshow.  I hate-hate-HATE them for that.