Monday, December 31, 2012

Out With the Old

Hey!  That's what Chuck said a couple o' days ago!

I feel like that guy in the lower right corner.

In other news... this is what it was like outdoors when I went to bed at oh-dark-thirty this morning:

That freezing drizzle apparently turned to snow while I was getting my beauty sleep, coz there was a light dusting that was rapidly melting by the time I got up 30 minutes ago.

Further... On That Nostalgic Blues Thang

More from the Johnny Winter "Roots" album (see the post below), and this ain't so much blues as it's classic '50s rock 'n' roll:

I was slippin and slidin with a long tall Sally
Peekin' and a hidin',duck back in the alley
Don't wanna rip it up,don't wanna dance with Annie
I've got a brand new lover name is Short Fat Fannie
One day while I was visit'n at HeartBreak Hotel
Thats where I met Fannie and she sure looked swell
I told her that I loved her and I'd never leave
She put her arms around me, gave me fever
She's my tutti fruiti,I love the child so
She watch me like a hound dog everywhere I go
Whenever I'm around her I'm on my p's and q's
She might step on my blue suede shoes
Two things... first, you have to be of a certain age to realize the lyrics are calling out at least eight different Top 40 tunes from back in the day... and that's only the beginning; you know there may be more.  Second, those of us of a certain age who were music freaks had all those records... in the form of 45s... and we carried them around in something much like this:

All us kids had one of those boxes and we took 'em to all the parties, the contents of which would eventually... sooner or later, sooner if you were the coolest of the cool... make it to the record player.  There are a lot of things I wished I would have saved from my youth, and that box and its contents are among the top ten... mebbe even top three.

Yes, it DID get kinda drunk out last night... why do you ask?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tonight's After Dinner Whiskey Hour Soundtrack

I dunno how it is with you, Gentle Reader, but I have to listen to my new music acquisitions at least three times before I can form an opinion on the worthiness of the albums in question.  We're now on the fourth run-through (at LEAST) of "Roots," one of two Johnny Winter albums I recently purchased and my favorite, by far.  There are way too many outstanding tracks on this album to pick just one to illustrate its excellence, but I'll offer up Johnny's take on this Elmore James classic.  About which, the original Elmore James track:

Now Johnny:

Ooooh, BAY-bee!  Is that not GREAT?  Here's a comment from an Amazon review of the album:
On the Elmore James chestnut "Done Somebody Wrong", Warren Haynes invokes the great Duane Allman in the intro, then steps back while Johnny takes the first solo. The respect these two have for each other is apparent; neither one getting in the others way.
Did he say Duane Allman?  Why yes, I believe he did.  Which, of course, makes it necessary that we post another version of my favorite blues tune:

It didn't get any better than this in the wayback and it's still pretty damned good.  Great, even.  Yanno what?  It might could get a lil drunk out tonight.

Play da blooze, White Boy... play da blooze!

Over/Under

Who'd a thunk it?  Thunk WHAT, you ask?  This, sez I:

Toilet paper when used with a toilet roll holder with a horizontal axle parallel to the wall has two possible orientations: the toilet paper may hang over (in front of) or under (behind) the roll. The choice is largely a matter of personal preference, dictated by habit. In surveys of American consumers and of bath and kitchen specialists, 60–70% of respondents prefer over.[1]

Despite its being an apparently trivial topic, some people hold strong opinions on the matter. Advice columnist Ann Landers said that the subject was the most controversial issue in her column's history. Defenders of either position cite advantages ranging from aesthetics, hospitality, and cleanliness to paper conservation, the ease of detaching individual squares, and compatibility with a recreational vehicle or a cat. Celebrities and experts are found on both sides. Some writers have proposed connections to age, sex, or political philosophy; and survey evidence has shown a correlation with socioeconomic status.[2]

Solutions range from compromise, to using separate dispensers or separate bathrooms entirely, or simply ignoring the issue altogether. One man advocates a plan under which his country will standardize on a single forced orientation, and at least one inventor hopes to popularize a new kind of toilet roll holder which swivels from one orientation to the other.
That's from an article in The Wiki (I took the liberty of removing all those annoying extraneous links), which I stumbled upon while looking for something else.  There's much, MUCH more at the link and let me offer this, lest you think this is a trivial issue:
• For a public restroom stall with a dispenser holding two rolls of paper, Donald Knuth proposes classifying users into big-choosers (those who take paper from the roll that is currently larger) and little-choosers (those who do the opposite). Letting $p$ denote the probability that a random user is a big-chooser and $q$ that of a little-chooser, Knuth uses contour integration and generating functions to find the expected number of sheets left on the larger roll when the smaller one runs out. He shows (Theorem 1) that if $|p-1/2|$ is of order at least $1/\sqrt n$, then
$M_n(p)=\begin{cases}p/(p-q) + O(r^n), & q

p \end{cases}$

where $r$ is an arbitrary parameter larger than 4pq and n is the number of sheets in a roll. He also separately analyzes the case where p=q.[81]
Math explains everything, doesn't it?  The corollary, of course, is "What would we do without STUDIES?"

(I'm an "over" kinda guy.  I've also changed the orientation of the roll in other people's houses.)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Is Something Wrong Here?

I just got back from Wally-World and today was the first time in a week that I've been outside the house.   Literally: the last time we were oot and aboot was for a commissary and beer re-supply mission that occurred exactly a week ago today; and not-so-literally, as in we've actually stepped outside to take the garbage out, dust off The Tart, and to see if the sunshine was warm enough for an outdoor Happy Hour which, alas, it was NOT.  Other than that we've been pretty danged reclusive this past week.  I wouldn't have gone out today if it were not for the fact we ran out o' lettuce and tomatoes this past Thursday and were at the bottom of the half-and-half.  And Reese's Minis, too.  Ergo, necessity.

I know I'm crazy a sick puppy; there's no doubt about that.  I've always been that way.  Be that as it may, we're always looking for those signs of incipient mental illness in ourselves (coz we ARE of a certain age) and being reclusive is one such.  On the other hand, it COULD be the fact it's been colder than a witch's mammary glands lately... so I'm gonna go with that.

Shorter:  I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell.

Saturday

The Usual Source for these thangs didn't update this week (it's the holidays, yanno?), so here's yer geography lesson for today:

I actually found that interesting.  I prolly need a life.

Friday, December 28, 2012

It Is To Weep...

On the cancellation of the Winter Classic, which was supposed to be played at The Big House in Ann Arbor this year, had it not been cancelled because of the lockout.  There were a myriad of events scheduled for downtown Dee-troit, too.  On that subject:
Visiting fans from Toronto would have been perfectly comfortable in this bar, with Sara as their guide. Not just because it's the name of a "Hockey Night in Canada" segment either. On the walls, there are black and white photos of old hockey fights at what looks like Olympia Stadium. The railing to the upper level of the bar is made entirely of old wooden hockey sticks.

And that's the thing that bothers Farmer. There's so much right now in Detroit to show off to the thousands of visitors. The turnaround in Downtown Detroit is advancing beyond the artists and the hipsters.

The giant Christmas tree next to the public skating rink at Campus Martius would have been the perfect place for a Leafs fan to grab hot chocolate and hang out next to outdoor bonfires between Winter Classic events. There are new restaurants and bars opening all the time now in Detroit. Farmer has worked downtown for 20 years and has witnessed firsthand the fits and starts that came during attempts to rebuild her city.

Right now, there is momentum she believes in. It's momentum that really could have used the Winter Classic to push things forward. But then again, in Detroit, it's never easy.

"You have a downtown that's being revitalized," she said. "Then all of a sudden, you suck the life out of it."
Read the whole thing.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: a pox on both the league and the players association.  You bastards.

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack

We're pretty nostalgic today... and there's nothing that feeds the Nostalgia Machine like the White Album.

Why not?  We've done it in stranger places... but can we wait until it gets just a lil bit warmer?  Please?

Interesting...

... but it's all Greek to me:

Well, no... it's not.  Not really.

You can see ALL the various Wiki-languages here, just in case you're wondering what the Arabs, Czechs, Japanese, and other people found interesting this past year.  And there's this supporting article, which included this lil blurb:
The English-speaking world is drawn to technology, entertainment, and death. Facebook is the most viewed page with 32.6 million views, and more than 25 million people looked up “Deaths in 2012.” Half of the top ten centered around blockbuster films, an English-Irish boy band, and Fifty Shades of Grey.

Bad American television is apparently a significant point of interest to Europeans. Top pages in Spanish, German, French and Italian include How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, Grey’s Anatomy, Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, and Game of Thrones (although I personally consider Game of Thrones to be riveting television.) One Direction, the aforementioned English-Irish boy band, popped up on just about every European language list. I have yet to decide if my complete and total ignorance of this group is an embarrassing sign of age, or a testament to maturity. Let’s go with the latter.
Maturity?  I certainly hope that's the case, coz I only went to one... that would be ONE, as in single... out of the Top 100 freakin' Searches on The Wiki.

Guar-an-TEED to Make Yer Mouth Water

Well... mine, anyhoo... especially the shots of the roasting chiles:

Would you believe I haven't been there for about five years?  All these trips to ABQ of late and not one visit to El Pinto.  Sumthin's seriously wrong here.

But it's only been two days since I've had some of their salsa.  Over half of that jar of Scorpion Salsa is GONE...

RIP, General Schwarzkopf

That would be "Norm, SIR!" to you, Angel-Face.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Kermie

I mentioned I sold El Casa Móvil De Pennington at some point in the recent past.  And in so doing I took Kermit, my constant companion and co-pilot, from his perch in El Casa Móvil and brought him to his new home.  This is what Kermie did best in the wayback while we were travelin' from coast to coast and border to border:

So... a problem arose now that Kermie has a fixed address.  Where would he be most comfortable?  And yes, we DID consider ensconcing him in The Tart but we already have one bit o' whimsy on The Dowager and putting Kermie in there MIGHT could result in Teh Cute Overload.  He agreed... that would be too much and besides, he'd rather be with me all the time just like in Former Happy Days, Part Deux.  (Or is that "Trois?") So he found himself perching in various and sundry places over the course of the past few weeks... like this:

 Yeah, I staged these pics for the post but Kermie DID live in all these places, for a while. Click to embiggen.

Nothing seemed to fit... he didn't like hangin' out in the kitchen under the cabinets ("This is way too claustrophobic and I keep hitting my head!"), sitting on top of the lamp in the living room was uncomfortable ("My ass is burning!"), same for my desk lamp ("Aiiieee!  This is HOT!"), the bookcase didn't work ("What am I?  Just another nick-knack?"), it was too lonely in the bedroom ("You don't spend much time in here and it ain't very entertaining when you DO."  But he seems to be happy enough here:

We shall see.  That frog has a mind of his own.

SOMEONE Didn't Get the Memo

Even though said memo's been sent and resent about 93 times each and EVERY day since the Newtown shootings.  So, for the record, Mr. Ramirez:  It's GUNS.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How Does Goin' Off the Fiscal Cliff Affect YOU?

You can find out what your personal tax impact will be if we carom off the cliff by goin' here.  Just for grins and giggles I ran some numbers, and here they are:
Regular Income Tax After Credits     $3,639$5,022
(Based on my current retired income)

Regular Income Tax After Credits     $24,580$27,368
(Based on my income in 2002, while working)

PLUS AMT (in Former Happy Days)!
AMT liability (in addition to regular tax liability)     $0$1,576
The first number is tax under current law, the second number is tax when or if current law expires and nothing is done.

The interesting thang?  The increase in tax on my retirement income isn't all that much, percentage-wise, as opposed to the percentage increase I'd feel were I still working.  In other words... there's not a whole helluva lot o' difference and I find that kinda-sorta astounding, considering my annual income today is about 25% of what I made while I was working.

I Almost Forgot...

... but then I went by the Ol' Sarge's place and saw his Boxing Day post.  So, cue up Tevye and forgive me this hoary ol' tale...

The Usual, Customary, and (Somewhat) Reasonable Boxing Day Post

It's a short one, but.. with the exception of 2007... we've been putting this one up every Boxing Day since 2005:

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

I had to pop out to do a little grocery shopping. All the way to Wally-World and back I was thinking about Christmas' Past and the strangest thing struck me. I cannot, for the life of me, remember a single thing about the last Christmas The Second Mrs. Pennington and I spent together (1997). Nothing. Zip. Nada. I think it’s because the cataclysmic events that unfolded over the eight months following that Christmas completely obliterated all memories of times immediately preceding. It was, after all, the Winter of Her Discontent, and I was completely oblivious. Quite another story.

It is more than passing strange, however. That Christmas was my youngest son’s First Christmas. Even though he was only ten months old at the time I’m sure he had a great old time tearing into boxes and playing with the wrapping paper, as very young children do. But I don’t remember any of it. I don’t remember the tree. I don’t remember taking any pictures. I don’t remember what I gave or received that Christmas. I don’t remember a damned thing, except for the fact we were in Rochester. That’s the sum total!

I did recall, in great detail, the year we spent Christmas night on a British Airways flight from Detroit to London. Our flight left sometime around six or seven in the evening on Christmas Day, and we were at the airport a good three hours before that. There were three of us: TSMP, our great good friend Kim, and myself. It was Kim’s first trip outside the US, and she was as excited as is humanly possible. The flight was nearly empty because, who, after all, travels on Christmas Day? Just us bargain hunters. TSMP and Kim stayed awake most of the flight. I, on the other hand, found an empty row and slept. Don’t you just love empty airplanes on transatlantic flights? It doesn’t happen a lot these days, from what I read.

We arrived at Heathrow around 0700 and were completely through customs and baggage claim in about an hour. The Captain, although he was either a Buck Sergeant or a Staff Sergeant stationed at RAF Lakenheath at the time (ed: and is now -- in 2010 -- referred to as The Major, time advancing as it does), met us at Arrivals. We loaded up the luggage and piled into his ratty old British Ford Cortina with the broken heater and leaky floor and did the patented B&P nickel tour of London for Kim’s benefit.

Sidebar: I use the term “B&P nickel tour” in a very personal sense. TSMP and I lived in London from 1980 - 1983 and we had a LOT of visitors. After the first wave of visitors had come and gone we developed our own little two-hour driving tour of London that hit all the high spots: Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Picadilly Circus, Tower Bridge, et al. We also threw in a few of our favorite places. It was great fun reliving that tour!

So. After the tour we grabbed lunch and went to the hotel for a little nap before our evening out. And thus began the ten-day England Christmas Tour of 1990-something. I don’t remember the exact year, actually. But I sure remember that trip…one of my BEST Christmases (and New Year’s), ever.

The Best Thing about our arrival in London on Boxing Day was the heretofore unmentioned party we went to that evening. TSMP, SN1, Good Friend Kim, and I went to my Brit Buddy Rob’s place, where we partied into the wee small hours. The most interesting thing about that party was that Rob and I picked up exactly where we’d left off more than ten years earlier.  It was as if we’d seen each other only yesterday. It’s like that with great, good friends.
We have to go do a lil shopping today, much like on 12/26/2005.  The first item on my list is at least four gallons of water, coz Dear Ol' Santa left me frozen water lines for Christmas.  I must have been pretty danged naughty this year to deserve this particular lump o' coal in my virtual stocking.

I swear to The Deity At Hand that this episode ain't MY fault.  We had water when we went to bed in the early hours of Christmas Day but apparently my "drip (beat-beat) drip (beat-beat)" wasn't enough flow to keep the lines from freezing.  So, once again it's back to the 19th century when hauling water was all the rage.  I had hopes my lines would thaw yesterday as our high was supposed to be 40 degrees.  We didn't make it... and it's gonna be a near-run thing again today.  I have my fingers crossed.
 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.
Well, now.  It's certainly a Great Good Thing that we don't have to deal with frozen water lines any longer.  There's also one of the pics from the Great UK Tour of 1990/1991 and you've seen THAT before, too.

Back to the Same-Ol', Same-Ol'

Another Christmas come and gone... one wonders just WHERE the time goes, especially at this time o' year.  But fear not, Gentle Reader, for we shall NOT get all maudlin on ya even though we COULD.

I was thinkin' last night... a dangerous thing for me at nearly any time... that this Christmas was rather unusual in that I spent nearly as much on myself this year as I did on the family.  That never happens but it did this year.  In addition to that spiffy new monitor I bought two shirts, a wooly-pully sweater (to replace my dear, departed USAF wooly-pully that wore out YEARS ago), mini-speakers for my phone/MP3 player, and two Johnny Winter CDs to fill in yet another hole in my music collection.  So it was a relatively materialistic Christmas here at El Casa Inmóvil de Pennington.  I was just doin' my part to help the economy, yanno?  And I might not be done yet, depending on the post-Christmas sales.

Yesterday was quite seasonal, in that it was (a) cold and (b) it actually snowed... enough to turn the ground white, for a while.  We never got above freezing all day yesterday and today looks like more of the same today... note our mid-day temps, at right.  It was quite nice to wake up to a White Christmas, especially when I knew I didn't have to drive in that stuff.

So we didn't drive anywhere.  Nope, we cleaned house... kinda-sorta.  You know how sometimes you'll look at something, anything, and think "How in the HELL did that get so dirty all of a sudden?"  That was me when I glanced at my end tables yesterday.  So we got out the Windex, shined 'em up real pretty, moved on to the coffee table, and continued the cleaning frenzy on into the kitchen.  One thing leads to another... and that included doin' a week's worth of laundry.  The floors still need mopping, however, but those will wait for a bit.  I have limits.  And a relatively high tolerance for dirt.

I awoke with a clear head this morning due to me coming to my senses and only having three glasses of that most-excellent Chianti last night.  Three glasses was just enough to mellow out the evening and make my morning that much better.

Well, check that.  "Clear head" is relative and it seems like my head wasn't all THAT clear, seein' as how I made the coffee, went into the study, fired up the computer to answer the overnight mail and kept an ear out for the beep-beep-beep that signifies the coffee maker has done its thang.  Fifteen minutes passed and not a peep from the kitchen, so we got up off our ass to go investigate what's taking so long.  And we find a cold, empty pot... I hadn't pushed the start button.  NOT a good way to begin the day.

We've poured and consumed three cups of that coffee as we wrote this, so now it's off to make the blog-rounds.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Dinner

A couple o' shots o' Christmas dinner, apropos o' not much.  We decided to actually cook this evening, as opposed to sautéing a frozen meal-in-a-bag or nuking sumthin', which is usually what passes for dinner in these parts.  But, Hey!  Today is special...

So we immersed a flank steak in marinade (a bottle o' port, chopped fresh cilantro, basil, thyme, LOTS o' crushed garlic [four large cloves o' the REAL stuff], olive oil, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce) last evening, let it soak over night and all day today, then broiled it up earlier this evening for tonight's repast.  We overcooked the damned thing, though.  It looked like this when I took it out of the broiler:

The dish is best when cooked rare to medium-rare and tonight's effort came out well-done, but with a slight touch o' pink in the very middle, thank The Deity At Hand for small favors.  I left the steak in the broiler too long because we were in the process of uncorking and sampling this:

The last time I posted on this particular dish there was a subtle outcry in comments that I SHOULD have had wine with the meal instead of beer.  Well, OK, there ya go: wine!  I just need to learn to NOT sample the wine while the cookin' is still goin' on.  We're still drinkin' this stuff as we type and I fear that bottle won't make it through the rest of the evening.

If you embiggen the wine pic you'll note the bottle is a special vintage, gifted to me by SN1 upon his graduation from the Army War College this past summer.  The wine is home-made by one of SN1's classmates and is quite good.  We MIGHT have a bad head tomorrow morning... just sayin'.

Merry Christmas!

M E R R Y  C H R I S T M A S

God Bless Us, Every One!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Seasonal

And awesome.

This is The President, the second largest tree on the planet and a poster of which (this same photo) was included in this month's issue of NatGeo.  Note the two climbers in the tree and the guy standing at the bottom.

I've been among the sequoias and I don't think there's anything else on earth with equal or greater capacity to make one feel very, very small.  Well, mebbe the Grand Canyon.  But that would be all.

Pissing In the Corn Flakes

In the first corner, we have NORAD — the joint US-Canadian missile-tracking organization that has also been watching for Santa since 1955, after a mistaken phone number was placed in a newspaper ad, inviting children to call for Santa’s whereabouts. NORAD took up the challenge and has been doing it for nearly 60 years now.
In the second corner, we have Google. The search engine giant had partnered with NORAD on Santa tracking since 2007, but this year, the two parted ways. NORAD partnered with Microsoft and its Google-rival search engine, Bing. Meanwhile, Google launched its own Santa Tracker for the first time.
Both are currently live now, simultaneously tracking Santa, as the screenshot shows above. Taken at exactly the same moment, it shows Santa in two different locations at the same time!
Oh, Google.  Now you've gone and done it.  I'm not gonna quit you, but you've damned sure earned BIG minus-points with me.  Tracking ANYTHING and EVERYTHING in the sky is NORAD's job.  And where's the Fat Man now?  Why, right here:

I swear I saw SN1 in that last bit.

Update, 1545 hrs:  From a USA Today article:
A sampling of anecdotes from the program this year:
The real deal
A young boy called to ask if Santa was real.
Air Force Maj. Jamie Humphries, who took the call, said, "I'm 37 years old, and I believe in Santa, and if you believe in him as well, then he must be real."
The boy turned from the phone and yelled to others in the room, "I told you guys he was real!"
He knows when you're awake
At NORAD's suggestion, volunteers often tell callers that Santa won't drop off the presents until all the kids in the home are asleep.
"Ohhhhhhh," said an 8-year-old from Illinois, as if trying to digest a brand-new fact.
"I'm going to be asleep by 4 o'clock," said a child from Virginia.
"Thank you so much for that information," said a grateful mom from Michigan.
Don't worry, he'll find you
Glenn Barr took a call from a 10-year-old who wasn't sure if he would be sleeping at his mom's house or his dad's and was worried about whether Santa would find him.
"I told him Santa would know where he was and not to worry," Barr said.
Another child asked if he was on the nice list or the naughty list.
"That's a closely guarded secret, and only Santa knows," Barr replied.
Hey, Mr. Elf
"Mr. Elf," said one caller, "This is Adam, and I've been really good this year."
Best of
Choice questions and comments wound up posted on a flip chart.
"Big sister wanted to add her 3-year-old brother to the naughty list," one read.
"Are there police elves?" said another.
"How much to adopt one of Santa's reindeer?"
Christmas Eve in Afghanistan
Five U.S. service personnel answered calls from Afghanistan for about 90 minutes through a conferencing hookup.
"They had a great time," said Novobilski, the program spokeswoman.
NORAD wanted to set up a call center in Afghanistan but that proved too complex, she said.
International flavor
NORAD got calls from 220 countries and territories last year, and non-English-speakers called this year as well.
Volunteers who speak other languages get green Santa hats and a placard listing their languages so organizers can find them quickly.
"Need a Spanish speaker!" one organizer called as he rushed out of one of three phone rooms.
For people who want to know the specs of Santa's sleigh, NORAD offers a trove of tidbits, including:
Weight at takeoff: 75,000 GD (gumdrops).
Propulsion: 9 RP (reindeer power).
Fuel: Hay, oats and carrots (for reindeer).
Emissions: Classified.
Yup... Santa WOULD be high on EMCON.

A Blog Conversation...

... in comments, over at Blog-Bud Morgan's place:
1. Guns blazing away and cars blowing up, and of course some tits…these things do have some cultural value.
We agree about the tits. The other stuff? Not so much.
- bpenni | 12/23/2012 @ 13:30
2. The common language. There’s really only one way to present tits. Well, two or three maybe. (Saucily and suggestively covered up, naked-real and naked-fake.)
Guns and exploding cars, though, can be done in a thousand different ways. And I’ll certainly go along with any suggestion that some 990+ of these are wrong.
One cinematic fad I’d be particularly interested in seeing die off, is the John Woo slow-motion-with-pigeons technique…that’s fer sure. I’d also like to see the good guys squeeze off something fewer than forty shots, out of a recognizable sidearm that the gun database will verify holds, at the most, six to ten.
- mkfreeberg | 12/23/2012 @ 15:11
3. There’s really only one way to present tits. Well, two or three maybe.
Or MORE. Ahhh, sweet mystery o’ life.
- bpenni | 12/23/2012 @ 16:20
4. Oh yeah, and then there’s captioned
- mkfreeberg | 12/23/2012 @ 16:46
Heh.

Six Months In the Air Over The Af

From the Usual USAF Source...
Warthog Pilot Hits Combat Milestone: Lt. Col. James Roy, an A-10 pilot from Moody AFB, Ga., recently reached 1,000 combat flying hours in the cockpit of the A-10 ground-attack aircraft, according to officials at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, where Roy is currently deployed. "It is a very rare accomplishment to hit 1,000 hours in a career, period, let alone in one [area of responsibility] and on the same platform," said Lt. Col. Marty Garrett, commander of Bagram's 455th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron, in the base's Dec. 20 release. "In comparing this to a 40-hour-a-week job, essentially, I've worked six months in the air over Afghanistan," noted Roy, who is director of operations for the 455th EOSS. He has flown more than 250 missions; all of his 1,000 hours of combat time resulted from sorties launched from Bagram, according to the release. "Close air support is very gratifying," said Roy. "You get to directly help somebody on the ground and you directly affect the battle," he added. (Bagram report by SSgt David Dobrydney, photo by SSgt Dobrydney)
Congrats, Col. Roy... and thank you.  A lot o' troops are gonna have a Merry Christmas because of what you and your brothers-in-arms do.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack

We're still mining that twofer vein and we're still into Ms. Osborne.  Here are two interesting takes on a soul anthem, with Aretha up first...

Now Joan:

It takes a whole helluva lot o' chutzpah to cover one of the Queen o' Soul's signature tunes but Joan does just that, and does it well.  I enjoy BOTH versions and I'm not gonna be presumptuous enough to pass judgment on either, given I think both takes are World Class.  Aretha would get the nod if I was forced to choose one over the other, but only for tradition's sake.

More Small Stuff

I got a love letter from the Social Security Administration last week informing me that I'm gonna get a whopping 1.7% COLA in my monthly check next year.  That works out to about 17 more beers or five cigars or six gallons of gas every month.  Just pick one, but not all three... I'm thinkin' I'll opt for the beer.  I suppose 1.7% is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick or no increase at all, like last year.

It remains to be seen if USAF is gonna give me a pay raise.  I see that Congress authorized that same 1.7% pay raise for the active duty guys, but that may or may not happen for us retirees.  I find it interesting that my USAF retirement and my Social Security checks are now exactly equal when it comes to take-home pay.  That's because the gubmint takes out over $300.00 a month in various taxes from the USAF check, while the only deduction from Social Security is the$104.00 monthly Medicare premium (about which: pretty much a bargain, considering the cost of medical care these days).  Still... I find the fact both pensions are equal (net-net) slightly unsettling.

We shall not entertain negative or snarky comments about the future of either Medicare or Social Security.  My head is in the sand and there it shall stay.  So Get OFF My Lawn, mmm-kay?

And now it's time to retire to the verandah (63 degrees!) with a Sammy Adams and a ceegar, where we shall contemplate the gubmint's largesse.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

AGAIN?

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.  From a couple o' years ago:

Monday, December 27, 2010

Yet Another Senior Moment

We're just in from our errands... which were mostly about renewing the beer supply... and were thinking on the way home: "Damn.  We've been here for eight years now!"  In so doing we also realized we'd let the eighth anniversary of our arrival on The High Plains of New Mexico slip right by without a celebration of any sort.  Not that we need a cause to celebrate, coz we don't, yet still: it's a milestone.  Of sorts.

So.  We dug into the archives and found a few shots we took shortly after our arrival on THPoNM.  Here's a windshield shot from December 16, 2002, taken on the last leg of our trip.

We were just south of Santa Rosa, inbound to P-Ville.  Exactly one week later:

Did we dodge a travel bullet, or what?

Here are two from Boxing Day, 2002:

It was COLD that year, Gentle Reader.  The pic above was taken around 1300 hrs according to the meta data associated with the file and it was only ten degrees outside.  I'm pretty sure that was our high for the day.
So.  Ten years in Portales, which ties my personal "stayin' in one place" record with Dee-troit.  If you'd have told me ten years ago that I'd still be sittin' here on The High Plains o' New Mexico today I'd have laughed in yer face.  Or asked you to pass that joint.

Real Life is stranger than fiction.

♫ ♪ God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen ♪ ♫

Let nothing you dismay
For the Sammy Adams Winter Pack
Was on the shelves today
To save us all from mundane ale
And go beyond the pale
Oh, oh, tidings of comfort and joy!
Comfort and joy
Oh, oh, tidings of comfort and joy!
I'm VERY happy about this development and just slightly disappointed that Mr. Adams' descendents replaced last year's Black and Brew (a coffee flavored stout) with a witbier called White Christmas.  The White Christmas is good, don't get me wrong about that, but the stout was better.  This winter variety pack would be GREAT if SA threw out the Boston Lager... which is NOT a holiday offering... and put the Black and Brew back in.  Just sayin'.

SN1 and I destroyed one of these 12-packs last weekend and I'm most pleased that the Winter Classics finally made it down to our neck o' the woods.

Ain't this pretty?

 Click to embiggen

And now for a Chocolate Bock.  And a ceegar.

Saturday

Yeah.  Merry Christmas, Jack.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack

Another twofer... in the same vein as yesterday with the original first, followed by a cover.

And then the inimitable Joan, with her take:

And... just like yesterday... we most certainly prefer the cover over the original.  Today is such a brilliant day that we went and retrieved all of our Joan albums from The Tart and put them in our CD player for today's soundtrack.  Which means we can... and most certainly DID... throw the windows and door open for to air out the house and avail ourselves of our own soundtrack, as opposed to something provided by Pandora.

I could plow this twofer field from now until the cows come home, mainly coz there's no dearth of tunes that were recorded in the past and covered in the now.  One of the Good Thangs about bein' a geezer is we can remember... with absolute clarity... the original tune and compare it with the cover, rendering judgment as appropriate.  This sez a couple o' few thangs, first and foremost bein' the state o' music today isn't quite as good as it once was.  YMMV, Gentle Reader, but I certainly subscribe to that particular POV.  Then again, I'm not nearly as much in-tune (heh) with music today as I was in the wayback.  I suppose there are multiple reasons for that.

These two tunes were runners-up in today's twofer category:  Dave Mason and, once again, Joan.  Ah, that song... and the original Dave Mason album... REALLY go back into Former Happy Days, Part I.  Lost youth, and all that.

This Is the REAL Apocalypse

From an article at The Beeb:
Gangnam Style has become the first video to clock up more than one billion views on YouTube.

The South Korean dance track was posted online in July, propelling pop star Psy to worldwide fame.
It has inspired hundreds of parody clips, from members of the British army, Thai navy and Minecraft gamers, among others.

YouTube's owner, Google, said the video had been watched seven million to 10 million times a day on average.
Aiiieee!

Happy Winter Solstice!

I love this date and celebrate it EVERY year... mainly coz the days begin getting longer after today.  And THAT is reason enough to celebrate, innit?  The days also start getting warmer, or mebbe that's a stretch.  I DO know today is gonna be warmer than yesterday, though... we might hit 60 degrees!

The pic is from The Wiki article on the Winter Solstice.  It's a good thing those Wikipedians are really global in their outlook, coz the illustration shows most of Asia instead of the Americas LIKE ONE WOULD EXPECT SINCE WE FRICKIN' LIVE IN AMERICA.  Dumb asses.

Dang.  I had sumthin' else, too, but I can't remember what it was.  Oh, well... it ain't the end o' the world or anythang.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack and a Couple o' Miscellaneous Items

Two takes on one of my favorite tunes... Jackson Browne's original version and a cover by Gregg Allman.  Jackson first:

It's so hard to risk another these days
These days--

Now if I seem to be afraid
To live the life I have made in song
Well it's just that I've been losing so long

I'll keep on moving
Things are bound to be improving these days
These days--
These days I sit on corner stones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don't confront me with my failures
And now the former Mr. Cher...

It's a given that the original version of any tune is usually the BEST version.  I don't think that's the case where "These Days" is concerned, as I'm partial to Mr. Allman's version.  His take seems to be so much more soulful than Mr. Browne's version but YMMV, of course.  That said, I was most amazed back in the day when I learned that Mr. Browne was only 16 when he wrote the song.  Precocious?  I guess!  I could only WISH it would've been hard for me to risk another lover at the tender age of 16.  But that all came home to roost in later years.

―:☺:―

Seen this?

Is that not AWESOME?  The back story is here.
―:☺:―

Finally... we took Happy Hour on the verandah today even though the temperature was a chilly 49 degrees.  But the combination of zero wind and bright, bright sun made sitting outside clad in a black tee shirt and jeans most comfortable... as long as I stayed in the sun.  And I did, Gentle Reader, I most certainly DID.