'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

30 November 2011

Lots of Courage

From a Forbes Article:

Joe Kittinger is not a household aviation name like Neil Armstrong or Chuck Yeager. But what he did for the U. S. space program is comparable.

Life photos from the Life website.  Click image to be taken to the site.

On Aug. 16, 1960, as research for the then-fledgling U. S. space program, Air Force Captain Joseph Kittinger rode a helium balloon to the edge of space, 102,800 feet above the earth, a feat in itself. Then, wearing just a thin pressure suit and breathing supplemental oxygen, he leaned over the cramped confines of his gondola and jumped--into the 110-degree-below-zero, near-vacuum of space. Within seconds his body accelerated to 714mph in the thin air, breaking the sound barrier. After free-falling for more than four and a half minutes, slowed finally by friction from the heavier air below, he felt his parachute open at 14,000 feet, and he coasted gently down to the New Mexico desert floor. Kittinger's feat showed scientists that astronauts could survive the harshness of space with just a pressure suit and that man could eject from aircraft at extreme altitudes and survive. Upon Kittinger's return to base, a congratulatory telegram was waiting from the Mercury seven astronauts--including Alan Shepard and John Glenn.

More than four decades later Kittinger's two world records--the highest parachute jump, and the only man to break the sound barrier without an aircraft and live--still stand. We decided to visit the retired colonel and Aviation Hall of Famer, now 75, at his home in Altamonte Springs, Florida, to recall his historic jump.

FORBES GLOBAL: Take us back to New Mexico and Aug. 16, 1960.

Joe Kittinger: We got up at 2 a. m. to start filling the helium balloon. At sea level, it was 35 to 40 feet wide and 200 feet high; at altitude, due to the low air pressure, it expanded to 25 stories in width, and still was 20 stories high! At 4 a. m. I began breathing pure oxygen for two hours. That's how long it takes to remove all the nitrogen from your blood so you don't get the bends going so high so fast. Then it was a lengthy dress procedure layering warm clothing under my pressure suit. They kept me in air-conditioning until it was time to launch because we were in the desert and I wasn't supposed to sweat. If I did, my clothes would freeze on the way up.

How was your ascent?

It took an hour and a half to get to altitude. It was cold. At 40,000 feet, the glove on my right hand hadn't inflated. I knew that if I radioed my doctor, he would abort the flight. If that happened, I knew I might never get another chance because there were lots of people who didn't want this test to happen. I took a calculated risk, that I might lose use of my right hand. It quickly swelled up, and I did lose use for the duration of the flight. But the rest of the pressure suit worked. When I reached 102,800 feet, maximum altitude, I wasn't quite over the target. So I drifted for 11 minutes. The winds were out of the east.

What's it look like from so high up?

You can see about 400 miles in every direction. The formula is 1.25 x the sq. root of the altitude in thousands of feet. (The square root of 102,000 ft is 319 X 1.25 = 399 miles) The most fascinating thing is that it's just black overhead--the transition from normal blue to black is very stark. You can't see stars because there's a lot of glare from the sun, so your pupils are too small. I was struck with the beauty of it. But I was also struck by how hostile it is: more than 100 degrees below zero, no air. If my protection suit failed, I would be dead in a few seconds. Blood actually boils above 62, 000 feet. I went through my 46-step checklist, disconnected from the balloon’s power supply and lost all communication with the ground. I was totally under power from the kit on my back. When everything was done, I stood up, turned around to the door, took one final look out and said a silent prayer: "Lord, take care of me now." Then I just jumped over the side.

What were you thinking as you took that step?

It's the beginning of a test. I had gone through simulations many times--more than 100. I rolled over and looked up, and there was the balloon just roaring into space. I realized that the balloon wasn't roaring into space; I was going down at a fantastic rate! At about 90,000 feet, I reached 714mph. The altimeter on my wrist was unwinding very rapidly. But there was no sense of speed. Where you determine speed is visual--if you see something go flashing by. But nothing flashes by 20 miles up--there are no signposts there, and you are way above any clouds. When the chute opened, the rest of the jump was anticlimactic because everything had worked perfectly. I landed 12 or 13 minutes later, and there was my crew waiting. We were elated.

How about your right hand?

It hurt--there was quite a bit of swelling and the blood pressure in my arm was high. But that went away in a few days, and I regained full use of my hand.

Col. Kittinger, after he landed, via Air Force Heritage site.
What about attempts to break your record?

We did it for air crews and astronauts--for the learning, not to set a record. They will be going up as skydivers. Somebody will beat it someday. Records are made to be broken. And I'll be elated. But I'll also be concerned that they¹re properly trained. If they're not, they're taking a heck of a risk.

30 Days of Thanks- D30

Wow, last day of my 30 Days of Thanks!  First I have to thank you all for allowing me to post all my thoughts this last month; it has been quite fun to share bits of my life and myself with you all.  Secondly, I have to thank the Six for allowing me to have a voice here, and to encourage my writing.

And so, to finish!

I think I'll end with the simplest thing I can be thankful for, and for the most profound gift we as humanity have been given: the ability to love, and to feel love in return.  The joy of my children's faces, the touch of my husbands hand, the sound of my father's voice, the calmness of my mother's smile...  Truly, from love comes all good things.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.  It has been wonderful to keep myself in the place of thanks for this last month.  It is truly amazing how a bit of thanks can change one's perspective so completely!

~The DO

29 November 2011

30 Days of Thanks- D29

Yesterday the kids and I get back into the swing of school and I had no choice but to be thankful that this nation is still one of freedom.  I have the option of teaching my kids at home because, so far, the government has yet to claim that right in totality for themselves.  It reminds me that the point of our nation was that the government was to protect us from those things we couldn't protect our selves from (i.e. the armies of other nations) and not to be the parents to my children.  Nor to me, for that matter!  So, at least for now, I am thankful that I live in a nation of freedom and of personal responsibility!

~The DO

28 November 2011

30 Days of Thanks- D28

This is the time of year when all eyes turn toward celebration.  Sometimes celebration can be tiring and challenging, but it also reminds us that we are alive, and that people care about us.  I try not to stress over my celebrations, I don't worry about getting every last Christmas activity done, I pay more attention to the fact that I get the chance to watch my kids discover the holidays, and what they mean to them.  I'm intensely thankful that I get to experience anew all the joy of this time of year through them.

~The DO

27 November 2011

30 Days of Thanks- D27

I love getting lost in a project.  Ever start something, some project doing something you love, and suddenly hours have gone by and you didn't even notice?  I LOVE that feeling.

~The DO

26 November 2011

Sunday Kipling

My daughter and grandkids are here and my world is complete. Today we will decorate the house and our tree. The boy and I will char animal flesh over fire and we will eat like the tribe of fierce pirates that we are. I hope your day is as good as ours will be my friends.

This weeks Kipling is very long but well worth the read. Stay with it to the end. This is Kipling the master at his very best.

The Sacrifice of Er-Heb

Er-Heb beyond the Hills of Ao-Safai
Bears witness to the truth, and Ao-Safai
Hath told the men of Gorukh. Thence the tale
Comes westward o'er the peaks to India.

The story of Bisesa, Armod's child, --
A maiden plighted to the Chief in War,
The Man of Sixty Spears, who held the Pass
That leads to Thibet, but to-day is gone
To seek his comfort of the God called Budh
The Silent -- showing how the Sickness ceased
Because of her who died to save the tribe.

Taman is One and greater than us all,
Taman is One and greater than all Gods:
Taman is Two in One and rides the sky,
Curved like a stallion's croup, from dusk to dawn,
And drums upon it with his heels, whereby
Is bred the neighing thunder in the hills.

This is Taman, the God of all Er-Heb,
Who was before all Gods, and made all Gods,
And presently will break the Gods he made,
And step upon the Earth to govern men
Who give him milk-dry ewes and cheat his Priests,
Or leave his shrine unlighted -- as Er-Heb
Left it unlighted and forgot Taman,
When all the Valley followed after Kysh
And Yabosh, little Gods but very wise,
And from the sky Taman beheld their sin.

He sent the Sickness out upon the hills,
The Red Horse Sickness with the iron hooves,
To turn the Valley to Taman again.

And the Red Horse snuffed thrice into the wind,
The naked wind that had no fear of him;
And the Red Horse stamped thrice upon the snow,
The naked snow that had no fear of him;
And the Red Horse went out across the rocks,
The ringing rocks that had no fear of him;
And downward, where the lean birch meets the snow,
And downward, where the gray pine meets the birch,
And downward, where the dwarf oak meets the pine,
Till at his feet our cup-like pastures lay.

That night, the slow mists of the evening dropped,
Dropped as a cloth upon a dead man's face,
And weltered in the Valley, bluish-white
Like water very silent -- spread abroad,
Like water very silent, from the Shrine
Unlighted of Taman to where the stream
Is dammed to fill our cattle-troughs -- sent up
White waves that rocked and heaved and then were still,
Till all the Valley glittered like a marsh,
Beneath the moonlight, filled with sluggish mist
Knee-deep, so that men waded as they walked.

That night, the Red Horse grazed above the Dam,
Beyond the cattle-troughs. Men heard him feed,
And those that heard him sickened where they lay.

Thus came the Sickness to Er-Heb, and slew
Ten men, strong men, and of the women four;
And the Red Horse went hillward with the dawn,
But near the cattle-troughs his hoof-prints lay.

That night, the slow mists of the evening dropped,
Dropped as a cloth upon the dead, but rose
A little higher, to a young girl's height;
Till all the Valley glittered like a lake,
Beneath the moonlight, filled with sluggish mist.

That night, the Red Horse grazed beyond the Dam,
A stone's-throw from the troughs. Men heard him feed,
And those that heard him sickened where they lay.
Thus came the Sickness to Er-Heb, and slew
Of men a score, and of the women eight,
And of the children two.

Because the road
To Gorukh was a road of enemies,
And Ao-Safai was blocked with early snow,
We could not flee from out the Valley. Death
Smote at us in a slaughter-pen, and Kysh
Was mute as Yabosh, though the goats were slain;
And the Red Horse grazed nightly by the stream,
And later, outward, towards the Unlighted Shrine,
And those that heard him sickened where they lay.

Then said Bisesa to the Priests at dusk,
When the white mist rose up breast-high, and choked
The voices in the houses of the dead: --
"Yabosh and Kysh avail not. If the Horse
Reach the Unlighted Shrine we surely die.
Ye have forgotten of all Gods the Chief,
Taman!" Here rolled the thunder through the Hills
And Yabosh shook upon his pedestal.
"Ye have forgotten of all Gods the Chief
Too long." And all were dumb save one, who cried
On Yabosh with the Sapphire 'twixt His knees,
But found no answer in the smoky roof,
And, being smitten of the Sickness, died
Before the altar of the Sapphire Shrine.

Then said Bisesa: -- "I am near to Death,
And have the Wisdom of the Grave for gift
To bear me on the path my feet must tread.
If there be wealth on earth, then I am rich,
For Armod is the first of all Er-Heb;
If there be beauty on the earth," -- her eyes
Dropped for a moment to the temple floor, --
"Ye know that I am fair. If there be love,
Ye know that love is mine." The Chief in War,
The Man of Sixty Spears, broke from the press,
And would have clasped her, but the Priests withstood,
Saying: -- "She has a message from Taman."
Then said Bisesa: -- "By my wealth and love
And beauty, I am chosen of the God
Taman." Here rolled the thunder through the Hills
And Kysh fell forward on the Mound of Skulls.

In darkness, and before our Priests, the maid
Between the altars cast her bracelets down,
Therewith the heavy earrings Armod made,
When he was young, out of the water-gold
Of Gorukh -- threw the breast-plate thick with jade
Upon the turquoise anklets -- put aside
The bands of silver on her brow and neck;
And as the trinkets tinkled on the stones,
The thunder of Taman lowed like a bull.

Then said Bisesa, stretching out her hands,
As one in darkness fearing Devils: -- "Help!
O Priests, I am a woman very weak,
And who am I to know the will of Gods?
Taman hath called me -- whither shall I go?"
The Chief in War, the Man of Sixty Spears,
Howled in his torment, fettered by the Priests,
But dared not come to her to drag her forth,
And dared not lift his spear against the Priests.
Then all men wept.

There was a Priest of Kysh
Bent with a hundred winters, hairless, blind,
And taloned as the great Snow-Eagle is.
His seat was nearest to the altar-fires,
And he was counted dumb among the Priests.
But, whether Kysh decreed, or from Taman
The impotent tongue found utterance we know
As little as the bats beneath the eaves.
He cried so that they heard who stood without: --
"To the Unlighted Shrine!" and crept aside
Into the shadow of his fallen God
And whimpered, and Bisesa went her way.

That night, the slow mists of the evening dropped,
Dropped as a cloth upon the dead, and rose
Above the roofs, and by the Unlighted Shrine
Lay as the slimy water of the troughs
When murrain thins the cattle of Er-Heb:
And through the mist men heard the Red Horse feed.

In Armod's house they burned Bisesa's dower,
And killed her black bull Tor, and broke her wheel,
And loosed her hair, as for the marriage-feast,
With cries more loud than mourning for the dead.

Across the fields, from Armod's dwelling-place,
We heard Bisesa weeping where she passed
To seek the Unlighted Shrine; the Red Horse neighed
And followed her, and on the river-mint
His hooves struck dead and heavy in our ears.

Out of the mists of evening, as the star
Of Ao-Safai climbs through the black snow-blur
To show the Pass is clear, Bisesa stepped
Upon the great gray slope of mortised stone,
The Causeway of Taman. The Red Horse neighed
Behind her to the Unlighted Shrine -- then fled
North to the Mountain where his stable lies.

They know who dared the anger of Taman,
And watched that night above the clinging mists,
Far up the hill, Bisesa's passing in.

She set her hand upon the carven door,
Fouled by a myriad bats, and black with time,
Whereon is graved the Glory of Taman
In letters older than the Ao-Safai;
And twice she turned aside and twice she wept,
Cast down upon the threshold, clamouring
For him she loved -- the Man of Sixty Spears,
And for her father, -- and the black bull Tor,
Hers and her pride. Yea, twice she turned away
Before the awful darkness of the door,
And the great horror of the Wall of Man
Where Man is made the plaything of Taman,
An Eyeless Face that waits above and laughs.

But the third time she cried and put her palms
Against the hewn stone leaves, and prayed Taman
To spare Er-Heb and take her life for price.

They know who watched, the doors were rent apart
And closed upon Bisesa, and the rain
Broke like a flood across the Valley, washed
The mist away; but louder than the rain
The thunder of Taman filled men with fear.

Some say that from the Unlighted Shrine she cried
For succour, very pitifully, thrice,
And others that she sang and had no fear.
And some that there was neither song nor cry,
But only thunder and the lashing rain.

Howbeit, in the morning men rose up,
Perplexed with horror, crowding to the Shrine.
And when Er-Heb was gathered at the doors
The Priests made lamentation and passed in
To a strange Temple and a God they feared
But knew not.

From the crevices the grass
Had thrust the altar-slabs apart, the walls
Were gray with stains unclean, the roof-beams swelled
With many-coloured growth of rottenness,
And lichen veiled the Image of Taman
In leprosy. The Basin of the Blood
Above the altar held the morning sun:
A winking ruby on its heart: below,
Face hid in hands, the maid Bisesa lay.

Er-Heb beyond the Hills of Ao-Safai
Bears witness to the truth, and Ao-Safai
Hath told the men of Gorukh. Thence the tale
Comes westward o'er the peaks to India.

Pirate Ship Update - Finished (Mostly)

It's been a while since I posted about the Pirate Ship I was building for the grandkids. I managed to break Lu's camera and still haven't replaced it so when the DO got here she took some pics for me. Click any picture to enlarge.

Here's where we left off. The main cabin structure without siding and the beam laid on for measuring. No prow and no landscaping.

Because I was sans camera I didn't get any further build pictures so here's the finished project. I'll just have to talk you through what I did, how I did it and why. I was overruled on the whole two story thing by higher command. I just cut off the 4x4s at the rear of the ship and used the two in front as rigging. The 4x6 beam is bolted to the roof with the end held up by a 1/4 inch steel 4x4 that's 10 feet long. The steel 4x4 is set 3 feet into the ground with 160 pounds of concrete. The beam has a swing, a tire swing and a climbing rope.

The prow is set on another pier block and attached to the main cabin with 2x6 framing. The floor is OSB over 2x4 floor joists. When I decided against it being two stories I went ahead and roofed the main cabin with shingles. The sheathing is more OSB with 2x4s and 2x6s for support. Everything is either nailed or screwed together.

Lu and I were at an antique store when she found this rock. It's fiberglass and it is way cool. 75 bucks. I love finding stuff like this and it added a nice climbing rock to the play area.

We had some old fishing net floats that Lu contributed to the build. I hung them on the sides and used some nylon rope as rigging.

Here's another view of the swings. I wanted to keep the ship theme so used wood and rope everywhere I could. Lu tested everything out. Just to be sure it was safe of course.
You can see the steel 4x4 post here. At the top I took two pieces of angle iron, welded them together to form a U bracket, drilled it, welded it to the post and lag bolted the whole thing to the beam. It's solid as a rock. That was Sarges idea. I was going to use an A-frame but this is both stronger and takes up a lot less space.

I bought a small basketball goal and mounted it to the end. We're planning on having some epic HORSE games. I went down to Ace and bought two gallons of brown paint. The paint guy asked me what shade and I told him Pirate Ship Brown. He offered a color, I accepted and it's now officially known at my local hardware store as Ace Pirate Ship Brown. He still chuckles whenever I come in.

Every Pirate Ship needs protection and this one is no different. This is a gun ship not a sissy merchanter. If you look closely you can see the cannon mounted on the side of the prow. That is most emphatically not a Nerf gun. It's a period correct replica of a repeating cannon manufactured in the 17th century by Theodor Geisel Armaments commonly referred to as a Ma Seuss. It's NFA of course. You can also see inside the main cabin. There's a 4x4 post just inside the doorway that holds the ships wheel. I put down some old carpeting I had from the bathroom/hallway remodel for padding. It's snug, cozy and a great clubhouse.

All in all I'm please with the result. The ship measures out at 7 1/2 feet wide by 20 feet long and 8 1/2 feet high not including the spars. It's surrounded by outdoor carpeting with gravel around the whole thing. It has swings, ropes, a basketball hoop and a rock to climb. The kids seem to enjoy it so I'm calling it a success.

Here's a random photo of Angus enjoying the play area just because he's so cute.

The yard was originally dirt and weeds. Lu took care of the weeds and I covered the rest with landscaping fabric, outdoor grass carpeting and gravel. That's 10 tons of gravel I moved by wheelbarrow, shovel, rake and a 5 gallon bucket. Each and every pebble. It really looks quite nice with the ship surrounded by a green sea and gravel shoals. There's plenty to do and it's a nice place for adventures and fantastical voyages of imagination. I thoroughly enjoyed the build with enthusiastic help from Sarge and Lu. It was all done off the cuff and straight out of my head. I think that's called seat of the pants engineering. All you real engineers should probably just look away. I tended to over build and it's managed to stand up to hard play and the usual Hurricane winds. This place is aptly named. The kids are going to take some paint to it and decorate it to their hearts content. It also needs a name. Monikers are being bandied about and as soon as one is chosen it will be painted on the prow.

This was a true labor of love. We managed to turn a couple of hundred square feet of dirt, mud and weeds into a play area for the kids that will hopefully allow them good, clean fun and a chance to exercise their imaginations as well as their bodies. I hope it reflects that.

30 Days of Thanks- D26

I am immensely thankful for imagination.  Watching my kids play with Angus, out in the Pirate ship, making up games, is seriously amazing.  They are so creative!  My kids make books,  build amazing Lego creations, are creative problem solvers, and they see life in an amazing way.  Imagination allows for fascinating books, beautiful art, and fantastical science.  Imagination allows for a more interesting world, for a more creative existence, and for a more fulfilled life.

~The DO

25 November 2011

Return Of TheRedneckEngineer

What with the arrival of the kids and all I missed the blog return of a favorite. TheRedneckEngineer is back and getting ready to blog again and that is a very good thing. People who can build guns from scratch and are willing to write up their projects are rare and precious folks. You can find a link to his site over on my blogroll.

Welcome back brother, we've missed you.


30 Days of Thanks- D25

I'm late posting today, as we've been enjoying our Thanksgiving meal a day late but with much  joy, love and laughter.  Today I'm very thankful for the internet.  It has allowed me to keep in contact with my family in way that you didn't use to be able to, making living so far away a bit easier.

~The DO

I'm not lazy Mr. President - I Am Boxer

-I've had a job and earned an income for 44 years, since my first paper route when I was 8 years old.
-I've paid thousands (tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands?) of dollars in taxes, much of which has gone to feed the voracious appetite of the entitlement programs of this country.
-I pay my debts, including my mortgages and college expenses for myself ad my wife to earn our degrees and professional diplomas so we could increase our earning power and spend more money on taxes.
-I've given freely to charity.
-My chosen professions have damaged my body and left me with injuries that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
-I have shunned the spotlight and declined notoriety for it's own sake.
-I have helped those who needed me and protected those who could not protect themselves.
-I voluntarily wore the uniform of my country and swore myself to her defense.
-I have laid my life on the line in defense of the freedoms enumerated in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
-I have given first aid to the injured and had some of them die in my arms.
-I have never asked for a thing beyond a fair chance to make my own way in the world.
-I am obliged to no one and don't ask anyone else to be obliged to me.
-I am a gun owner who has never used a firearm to take anothers life though I am prepared to defend anyone from the horrors inflicted on the innocent by the evil.
-I have never sought to be thought a victim for my own ill choices.
-I have done harm and sought forgiveness. I have had harm done to me and forgiven.
-I have done all this and more without complaint and I am not alone. Most of my fellow countrymen have done and endured far more than I.
-All my life has been spent in the pursuit of excellence and Independence. My share of the American Dream. That vision may not be shared by all but that is the very essence of what it means to be American. Our dreams may vary but the idea that we are masters of our own fate, beholden to none, independent entities free to pursue our idea of Happiness without coercion of others is ultimately what separates us from the rest of the world.
-The president says I am lazy, that I need to do more. The occupy protesters say I owe them what I have earned, that I need to give them more.

-The words of the President and the violent crowds screaming for my blood and that of those just like me makes me grieve for a nation filled with the indolent, the narcissistic, the immature and the ignorant. I, and those millions of Americans just like me, have labored for decades to do a little more with a little less. We have searched for ways to work just a little harder, a little longer. Striven to make and keep America great only to see it being sold to the glue factory for the price of a barrel of whiskey.
-I say the President is right, I haven't done enough. Here's my answer to OWS and you Mr. President.
-I am Boxer, magnificent yet flawed with too much trust and too little suspicion. The one who's motto was "I will work Harder". I am neither Napoleon not Squealer. Honest, hard working Americans work, they do not connive and seek power over others. So I will work harder. To make sure the OWS legacy is remembered as ignorant, psychopathic violence masquerading as social justice. To make sure you Mr. President are remembered as the one term, abject failure that you are and nothing more. To ensure my grandchildren grow up in a free and prosperous America.
-Yes, I am Boxer but one who has learned his lessons at great pain. I will work harder but somehow I don't think you and ows crowd will be happy about it Mister President.
-Vote them out. Vote them all out.

24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving To You

My daughter has been posting the 30 days of Thanksgiving all this month. I'll add my voice to hers. I am truly thankful for her and my beautiful grandchildren as well as a son-in-law who has treated them so well and givenb their care over to us so many times without complaint. I can't wait to see them in just a few hosrt hours. My heart sings with joy.

I am also thankful for each and every one of you out there who visit with us and leave us your precious thoughts and ideas. You have shown me so much kindness and support I cannot begin to show my respect and admiration for you.

Happy Thanksgiving my friends. May you celebrate this and many more with those you love.


30 Days of Thanks- D24

(After Vienna with my husband yesterday, the kids and I are on a plane today on our way home)

 (All the Rockwell photos found here)

Family, friends, home, peace, joy.

 Thanksgiving is an awesome day, one of my very favorites, and I'm very thankful I'll be getting to spend it with family.

I'm also very thankful for the Wright Brothers, since it will take me 17 hours, and not 17 weeks, to get from Hungary to Utah today!

Happy Thanksgiving all, may it be truly blessed.

~The DO

23 November 2011

Challenge Update

So far so good. It's been tough but with the support of family and friends (Thanks Laura and Michael!!!) I'm within spitting distance (Pun!!) of my goal. The first few days were the worst but it's getting better. Late evening walks with Lu, Chrisi and Angus are helping. Lu has even turned over the decision on her holster over to me so at least she's confident. The DO and the grandkids will be here tomorrow and that will also help. I can't wait to see them tomorrow.

Michael, I hope all is well with you. Hang in there my friend. The finish line is in sight!


30 Days of Thanks- D23

(We are all in Vienna today enjoying our last European city trip before we move, hence my thoughts about moving!)

I am beyond thankful that the military moves us, rather than having to do it myself.  Nothing beats telling other people what to pack, and where to put it!

~The DO

22 November 2011

30 Days of Thanks- D22

I'm thankful for Hungary, and for the Hungarians, and for the people of Pápa.  I know I've done the whole living abroad thing already in this 30, but as I sit here on my last full day in this country, perhaps never to return, I'm a bit nostalgic. Hungary has been good to us, and it is a great place to live and to travel.  A new chapter is exciting, but sometimes it's hard to turn the page...

~The DO

21 November 2011

God, Gals, Guns, Grub On Carrying

Dann brings the big guns out and intelligently opines on a topic near and dear to my heart. What do you bring to the gunfight? I wrote about this in September, Carry as much gun as you can, but Dann does it better.

While you're at it head on over to Brigid's place and peruse her writings on this as well as many other firearms subjects. Tam might have written one or two posts that might possibly be on topic. How about Miguel or Fred or Murphy's Law or Borepatch or Frank or Michael or Keads or The Mad Ogre or Rourke or Mr. Completely or North or ASM826 or Say Uncle or Breda or Kevin or Oleg or WhenTheBalloonGoesUp or, well, you get the idea (and my apologies to anyone I missed, it was unintentional. I get easily distracted by shiny things).

My point is that there's a wealth of information out there just in my blogroll. People who are educated and experienced and who have nothing to sell and no hidden agenda beyond a desire to voluntarily give of the knowledge they've gained in lifetimes of effort and sometimes dangerous work. People we should all read, listen to and heed. And they're just the literal tip of the iceberg. A casual perusal of their writings and blogrolls yields a veritable wealth of folks who have been there and done that when it comes to firearms and self defense. And here's the funny thing. None of them, not a single one, will look you in the eye and tell you they are the be all/end all of shooting and bad guy defeating. It's the instructors responsibility to justify their teachings and advice and everyone who opines on these subjects is presenting themselves as teachers or subject matter experts and yes, that does include me and this very post. Don't be afraid to call BS when you see it. A good instructor welcomes hard questions.

For me the bottom line is this. Do your homework. Ask questions (and in that vein question everything you're told). Be a cautious consumer. Take everything with a large grain of salt. Ask yourself (and whatever source you're considering) what they're selling, especially if it's themselves. I've been to a lot of shooting/self defense classes and all instructors are not created equal. By the same token, someone I hate may be the bee's knees for you. Like instructors, students are as different as their needs and learning abilities. It's your money, spend it wisely.

I'll end this scribbling with something I've said many times and will continue to say. The 'experts' may be right or they may be wrong on any given subject but which they are depends on you; who you are, what you want, what you need and what you can afford. Knowing that is the beginning of wisdom in a field rife with gadgets, charlatans, tactical cool, fan boys, big boys and a disappointing tendency toward a herd mentality.

Carry. Carry what you can, what you believe in, what you can afford but carry. Train. Beg, borrow or steal the best instruction you can find and afford. This is an area which surprisingly does not follow the 'you get what you pay for' meme. There's an awful lot of very good free information out there if you dig a little. There's also an awful lot of high priced ignorance and stupidity. Figuring out which is which and who is who is the essence of becoming and staying an informed shooter. Discernment isn't just a fancy word, it's a requirement. And if someone calls you a fool because you don't carry what they recommend or train the same way they do then consider the source, learn what you can of value from them and move on. Self defense is a subject that is vitally important and it's far too easy to get discouraged by the ramblings of the self described elite. The mall ninja meme is funny right up to the point where you've paid for it and the price might be very dear indeed.

A big Thank You to all the gunnies on my list (and those I neglected to mention). I have learned something important from each and every one of you. And it didn't cost me a thing except a little time. Your efforts may go essentially unrewarded on the web but they don't go unappreciated. I hope you continue.


30 Days of Thanks- D21

Tap water.  I'm so very thankful for tap water.  Imagine having to walk a mile roundtrip to the town well for water.  Drinking, washing, you name it, you have to haul it in on foot.  Yeah...  I'm thankful for the tap!!

~The DO

20 November 2011

30 Days of Thanks- D20

I'm thankful to Monsieur Eiffel for his fantastic temporary structure, and especially for the fact that originally the Parisians HATED it!  Irony, how I love thee!

~The DO

Sunday Kipling

The pirate ship is nearly complete. I'll post pictures as soon as I can, the camera is well and truly dead.
I've got 4 of the prettiest pork loin chops you've ever seen and I hear the grill calling.
It's been 5 days. I'm doing Ok but the bodies are beginning to stack up in the back yard. I'm going to have to do something about them pretty soon.
My daughter and grandchildren will be here in a matter of just a few days and I can't wait to see them.
I'm going to start working my way through some of Kiplings more obscure works. Perhaps not as well known but, in my opinion, some of his very best work.
I hope you all have a great Sunday my friends.

The Coastwise Lights

Our brows are bound with spindrift and the weed is on our knees;
Our loins are battered 'neath us by the swinging, smoking seas.
From reef and rock and skerry -- over headland, ness, and voe --
The Coastwise Lights of England watch the ships of England go!

Through the endless summer evenings, on the lineless, level floors;
Through the yelling Channel tempest when the siren hoots and roars --
By day the dipping house-flag and by night the rocket's trail --
As the sheep that graze behind us so we know them where they hail.

We bridge across the dark and bid the helmsman have a care,
The flash that wheeling inland wakes his sleeping wife to prayer;
From our vexed eyries, head to gale, we bind in burning chains
The lover from the sea-rim drawn -- his love in English lanes.

We greet the clippers wing-and-wing that race the Southern wool;
We warn the crawling cargo-tanks of Bremen, Leith, and Hull;
To each and all our equal lamp at peril of the sea --
The white wall-sided war-ships or the whalers of Dundee!

Come up, come in from Eastward, from the guardports of the Morn!
Beat up, beat in from Southerly, O gipsies of the Horn!
Swift shuttles of an Empire's loom that weave us, main to main,
The Coastwise Lights of England give you welcome back again!

Go, get you gone up-Channel with the sea-crust on your plates;
Go, get you into London with the burden of your freights!
Haste, for they talk of Empire there, and say, if any seek,
The Lights of England sent you and by silence shall ye speak!

19 November 2011

30 Days of Thanks- D19

Unlike the supposed 99%, I am thankful that I have a husband willing to work hard for what we have, and that we have enough money to enjoy life.  However, I'm also thankful that we don't have so much that we become douches!

~The DO

18 November 2011

30 Days of Thanks- D18

Kisses from my kids.  Can't get more simple, or more moving, than that for me.

~The DO

17 November 2011

Yeah, He Might Be Better Than Me. Just A Little.

I've been riding powered two wheelers for about 45 years now. I've been to police motorcycle school, spent better than 10 years enforcement riding, even have 22 laps at Laguna Seca at speed on a ZX6. I have skills.

This guy? He makes me feel bad about myself. As though I've suddenly discovered that those streamers coming from the handlebar grips of my Barbie Princess bicycle don't actually make me cool.

Yeah, I can't do that. Don't ask.


30 Days of Thanks- D17

I am very thankful for clothing, food, shelter and warmth.  Even more, I am thankful that my family and I don't struggle to maintain any of the above.  We have more than we need, and we are very blessed for it.  Beyond that, I'm thankful that I have an amazing family that would drop everything to help me were I in a situation where I had lost the above.  Not feeling alone in my attempt to take care of my kids is priceless.

~The DO

16 November 2011


Murphy's Law has the write up but it passed the house. It needs to be brought to an up or down vote in the Senate so if passed will go to obama's desk. If nothing else it'll make the antigun senators and the President show their true colors. ML has including a vote list. Go RTWT.

A Challenge

Michael, master holster maker and general leather crafter, has decided it's time to quit smoking. It's a very tough thing to do and when I read about it I went over to his blog to leave him some words of support. Reading his words, I got inspired.

I don't smoke but I do have a habit just as bad. I dip Skoal. Have for about 30 years. I've tried to quit and failed a few times. I always thought I'd do it one day but one day turned into two, then weeks, months, years and I still have that monkey riding me like a rented mule. So I made Michael a wager of sorts.

If we can both kick our respective habits by the end of the year I'll take the money I would have spent feeding my addiction and use it to purchase one of Michael's beautiful custom holsters for Lu. Talk about motivation. I dropped the comment with the challenge on Michael and he's all in. Because that's just the kind of guy he is. Now we both have a carrot dangling before us as well. Can you say Win/Win?

I can't decide if Lu's cheering us on for the health benefits or because there's a beautiful holster awaiting her should we be successful. (I'm betting on the health thing because that's just who she is but that holster is pretty darn nice icing)

Michael, thank you for the inspiration and taking me up on this challenge, it's just what I needed to do what I should have done a long time ago. As a man who has built his own business out of his courage and skills I know you can do it and hopefully drag me along on your coattails. I do fancy myself as a man with a certain amount of discipline so know that I am committed to wholehearted to this. Hang in there my brother, we're adding money to our pockets and cancer free years to our lives.

Good luck to us both. Words of encouragement to two men trying to give up the scourge of nicotine addiction will be greatly appreciated. Lu has promised not to take any sudden attack of the grumpies by yours truly personally. Angus has promised to take me for lots of walks. I've got a store of gum laid in.

I'm ready.

Today is Day One for me.


Update: Michael left me a comment that maybe others might want to join us so I'll invite anyone with a tobacco jones to join us in kicking the habit. I'm on day one but Michael is tobacco free since Saturday. Angus is doing his part, he hauled me and Chrisi out to Jem Trail for a nice hike.

30 Days of Thanks- D16

Music.  Need I say more?  Well, alright then.  I'm thankful not just for the music I love, and the ability to enjoy it, but also the ability to pass it on to my kids and watch them fall in love with what I love.  'Course it IS heartbreaking when they hate your favorite stuff!!

(The Six's song that I grew up with and love)

(My song that my daughter is growing up with and loves)

~The DO

15 November 2011

30 Days of Thanks- D15

Some of the most important things are those that are the simplest.  I am so grateful for the warmth of the sun, especially in the spring when it feels like it will never be warm again.  And the coolness of the fall breeze when you were sure it was NEVER going to be cool outside again.  The sense of change, renewal, of the next cycle and of life ever after.  Each change is a reminder that nothing lasts forever, the good or the bad.  I'm on the precipice of a major change and I've been reminded by the change in weather that change can bring on amazing new situations.

~The DO

14 November 2011

I Love It When Hippies Cry - Video

My heart is as warm as NPR producer Marshall Terry's tummy.

Butch up sissy boy.

30 Days of Thanks- D14

(My little Hungarian POS)

Transportation rocks!  It took me 30 min each way to walk my kids to school, but 5 to drive.  And it had heat, and air conditioning.  Yeah, I'm thankful for cars.  The cooler the car the better, but wheels are wheels!

~The DO

13 November 2011

Sunday Kipling

Angus handled the surgery well and he's doing fine. The staff at the Vet are now completely in love with him (which was his nefarious plan all along). The 49ers are 7-1 and I get to see the game today. I think I'll go find something in the freezer for dinner.
It's gonna be a great day. Hope yours is as well.

Gunga Din

You may talk o' gin and beer
When you're quartered safe out 'ere,
An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it;
But when it comes to slaughter
You will do your work on water,
An' you'll lick the bloomin' boots of 'im that's got it.
Now in Injia's sunny clime,
Where I used to spend my time
A-servin' of 'Er Majesty the Queen,
Of all them blackfaced crew
The finest man I knew
Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.
He was "Din! Din! Din!
You limpin' lump o' brick-dust, Gunga Din!
Hi! Slippy hitherao!
Water, get it! Panee lao! [Bring water swiftly.]
You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din."

The uniform 'e wore
Was nothin' much before,
An' rather less than 'arf o' that be'ind,
For a piece o' twisty rag
An' a goatskin water-bag
Was all the field-equipment 'e could find.
When the sweatin' troop-train lay
In a sidin' through the day,
Where the 'eat would make your bloomin' eyebrows crawl,
We shouted "Harry By!" [Mr. Atkins's equivalent for "O brother."]
Till our throats were bricky-dry,
Then we wopped 'im 'cause 'e couldn't serve us all.
It was "Din! Din! Din!
You 'eathen, where the mischief 'ave you been?
You put some juldee in it [Be quick.]
Or I'll marrow you this minute [Hit you.]
If you don't fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!"

'E would dot an' carry one
Till the longest day was done;
An' 'e didn't seem to know the use o' fear.
If we charged or broke or cut,
You could bet your bloomin' nut,
'E'd be waitin' fifty paces right flank rear.
With 'is mussick on 'is back, [Water-skin.]
'E would skip with our attack,
An' watch us till the bugles made "Retire",
An' for all 'is dirty 'ide
'E was white, clear white, inside
When 'e went to tend the wounded under fire!
It was "Din! Din! Din!"
With the bullets kickin' dust-spots on the green.
When the cartridges ran out,
You could hear the front-ranks shout,
"Hi! ammunition-mules an' Gunga Din!"

I shan't forgit the night
When I dropped be'ind the fight
With a bullet where my belt-plate should 'a' been.
I was chokin' mad with thirst,
An' the man that spied me first
Was our good old grinnin', gruntin' Gunga Din.
'E lifted up my 'ead,
An' he plugged me where I bled,
An' 'e guv me 'arf-a-pint o' water-green:
It was crawlin' and it stunk,
But of all the drinks I've drunk,
I'm gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.
It was "Din! Din! Din!
'Ere's a beggar with a bullet through 'is spleen;
'E's chawin' up the ground,
An' 'e's kickin' all around:
For Gawd's sake git the water, Gunga Din!"

'E carried me away
To where a dooli lay,
An' a bullet come an' drilled the beggar clean.
'E put me safe inside,
An' just before 'e died,
"I 'ope you liked your drink", sez Gunga Din.
So I'll meet 'im later on
At the place where 'e is gone --
Where it's always double drill and no canteen.
'E'll be squattin' on the coals
Givin' drink to poor damned souls,
An' I'll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!
Yes, Din! Din! Din!
You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
Though I've belted you and flayed you,
By the livin' Gawd that made you,
You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

30 Days of Thanks- D13

(My husbands feet on the black sand beaches of Santorini)

I love the beach with a passion, and there are few things in life more fun than spending the day at the ocean.  I am so thankful for the chances I've had to feel the sand between my toes.  I'm also thankful that I can look forward to the next 3 years living on the Gulf coast.

~The DO

12 November 2011

Profiting From The Murder Of Innocents

I was a street cop for more than 24 years. In that time I investigated basically every crime imaginable, from the minor to the horrific. That includes the depredations some are so capable of inflicting on those weaker than themselves.

I ran across this article on some websites that are auctioning or otherwise selling and profiting from the works and scribblings of the most vile and evil amongst us.

I understand the nature of the market about as well as any other ignorant line dog layman. Find or create a product or service. Create a business and marketing plan. Sell your product/service for what the market will bear. Expand your inventory and customer base and grow your business. Make money. Get rich. It's the American Way.


I find it beyond contemptible to profit from the death and suffering of the innocent. I've been there. I've seen the blood and horror and the ugly death. I've seen the torn bodies and the tears of inconsolable family and loved ones. I've looked stone cold killers in the eyes and seen the evil, the dispassion, the total lack of remorse. Eyes, not of predators but of scavengers. Jackals who kill the sick and weak and then only when the Lion isn't around to teach them the lesson of who the true predators are.

Those who sell the 'memorabilia of murder' are doing more harm than just making a buck from the suffering of past victims, they're advertising those murderers. Their product is the lunatic ravings and disturbing effects and images of those who have committed the very worst crimes imaginable. They're offering them up as if they were no more than a signed baseball or an autograph from the latest celebrity fad. They're keeping them in the public eye and presenting them to us as something worthy, even desirable.

Whether you support the death penalty or not (I do. I think it does more good than harm) clearly even those not scheduled for an appointment with the executioner deserve to do their time in darkness and anonymity. Their memory should fade as their lives tick away in a cell. Their writings, images and thoughts should die with them. Forgotten and dishonored. We, as a civilized society, owe it to those we failed to protect and their loved ones who must endure every day with the memories of the departed and the circumstances of their death. To keep the memory of these sadistic and depraved murderers alive is spitting in the face of every innocent victim touched by their evil.

They are in fact our monsters. In them there is nothing to admire. Nothing to inspire. Nothing that should endure. Every thing they have done, every thing they have produced, every thing they have touched should be destroyed and they should be utterly forgotten by a nation that abhors them. To do less is to stamp their actions with a seal of approval and inspire others to emulate them so they too can become famous.

May they and those who would celebrate them suffer as they have caused suffering.


30 Days of Thanks-D12

St. George (not Saint George) Utah.  Aka, the Motherland
St. George, Utah (13)
(Not my photo.  Snagged it from Flickr.  Click the photo to be taken to his page)
I am very thankful for my family and friends.  Though odd and interesting, they love me and accept me.  Helps that they are all odd and interesting as well!  The apple and tree and all that, I suppose.  The kids and I will have the chance to spend 2+ months in the old homeland, down the street from cousins, and next door to great grandparents.  I will get to go shopping with some cousins, stay up way too late wandering around the Walmarts with others (yes I like American made, yes I still shop Wally world), talk football with the husbands, homeschooling with an uncle, and be amazed, as always, that I'm related to all these crazy and wonderful people.

~The DO

A New Take On The Firing Of ISAF General MG Peter Fuller

TheObserver over at GiftOfFreedom has a new post up about the firing of the ISAF general who spoke (truthfully) about the remarks that Hamid Karzai made about siding with the Paki's should we ever find ourselves trading shots with them. Read it here.

What I found interesting was TheObserver's opinion that Karzai might be positioning himself for survival in a post American Afghanistan. It doesn't change my feelings that he's an ungrateful SOB but it's food for thought.

While you're there check out the rest of the posts at GiftOfFreedom. He's a Marine veteran and another voice of reason and logic in an increasingly chaotic America.


11 November 2011

Veterans Day Kipling

America exists still because of those who have served her. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. They have placed themselves "between home and the wars desolation". They have served because they recognized that there is a greater good than self. A greater need than personal safety and comfort. They have proved that they value something above themselves and even those they served with.
There's a lot of doom and gloom out there. Many who say America is dying. On her last legs with only her funeral and the division of spoils left to be seen. I reject that totally. I do that because there remains within the breast of my beloved country a hard core of resistance, embodied in, but by no means limited to, our veterans. Americans who see their duty clearly and take up their share of the burden with a pure heart, a clear vision and an iron will. As long as we can still produce such men and women we cannot be destroyed. Such as these do not quail before a difficult task but rise up and shout their defiance to the very Heavens.
We will never falter. We will never Fear. We will never Fail. And Woe to those who would attempt to cast us down because our retribution will be fearsome to behold.
Thank you to our veterans, who by their very service remind us of who we are.
We. Are. Americans!


I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!


Counted amongst the Veterans of our nation are the Six, Sarge, and myself, as well as my late Uncle Ken.  The Six, Sarge, and I bought the continued freedom of our nation with our time, Ken paid for it with his life.  For all those men and women that gallantly gave all, we salute you.  
(American Military Cemetery, Normandy France.  Taken by me, on a very emotional day.)

My husband is still active duty, and so my family still serves.  His time away, and our sacrifice is worth it to make sure our shores and way of life are safe.  We as a nation are very lucky to have had so many good men and women feel the same.  I tend towards embarrassment when people  thank me for serving, I'll admit.  My job wasn't that important, and I wasn't in that much danger.  I guess I don't feel that I did any more than anyone else could have.  The Sarge was in 'Nam, for crying out loud.  Sitting in an office all day surfing the internet, Secret internet or not, just doesn't seem that valiant to me.  When I sat in that cemetary I thought not just of what these men gave up, but also the lives affected that went on.  They all gave of themselves, even if some made it home at the end of the day.  And so, yes, they probably said what I'm saying: it wasn't that big a deal, I didn't pay like those boys paid, they are the heroes.  And yet to me they are every bit as heroic.  Their lack of death didn't diminish their efforts in fighting for freedom.  In that vein I try to be more accepting of the thanks of this day.  We serve because we can, to defend those that can't.

~The DO

30 Days of Thanks- D11

My Cherry Tree.

This summer was the first time in my adult life that I harvest a crop from my lands (granted, those lands are rented) and created a meal from that crop.  Okay, so it was a few bucketfuls of cherries, and two cherry crisps, but still.  It was a neat experience to be connected to my food source, and one that the kids and I want to recreate at the new house.

~The DO

10 November 2011

Angus And The Snip Of Doom

I take him to the Vet tomorrow for that procedure that makes every guy out there cringe and cover up his....below the belt area. I drop him off before 9 and can pick him up at 2.

Please keep a good thought for poor Angus. And yours truly as well. No telling how he's going to feel about me afterward. I hate to do it to him but it's really for the best.

Sorry Pal.

Happy Birthday USMC

I was Army, Sarge was Army and DO was Air Force but we hold no animosity toward our Marine Corps. brothers and sisters. In fact, this is how we feel about OUR Marines. Warning: NSFW for language.

From the video's creator:
Not your normal "Mot Video" but this video will make you think twice about the men and women in the Marine Corps. Against GySgt Walgrens request I recorded his speach in secret..... the result is this awesome video with the last words we heard before boarding helos and heading into the heart of Marjeh. Have you ever wondered how Marines get pumped up? This video will show you how true leaders inspire their Marines to do the unthinkable.

Our Marine Corps. How we do love you, each and every one. And how grateful we are for your service, your sacrifices and just being the baddest ass-kickers on the face of the Earth. Ooh Rah! The Warrior Class does loves us some Devil Dogs.

30 Days of Thanks-D10

Power!!  Yep, I am very thankful for electricity.  I've listened to all the gymnastics family and friends have been going through back in Mass with no power since before Halloween!  As I sit in my toasty warm house, with my fridge humming away, typing on my computer, with lights on, I am thankful.

~The DO

09 November 2011

Video Of The Week

I know you're all reading Ras regularly but if you happened to miss this you must go there and watch it. Now. I'm going to be singing that all week.

"I'm going in for guns". Awesome. Now I either need to grab some shootin' irons and exercise my inner gunfighter or I just need to use the bathroom. Either way.


30 Days of Thanks- D9

(Not my stack of books.  I got it off the interweb somewhere...  Er...  Don't remember where.)

I'm a major reader.  So is the Six, Lu, my husband, Sarge, MIL, and my husbands mother.  There is a lot of reading going on in my family!!  The Kindle has made my life easier by far, as now all my husbands never-to-be-read-again hardcover books aren't stacked everywhere in my house anymore!  My stacks are more contained.

I am incredibly thankful for my literacy.  I love reading.  I must read.  I read to research nutrition, homeschooling, history, and science, and I read for fun history, literature, and sci-fi.  Without reading I'm lost.  I wouldn't know how to research, I would get seriously bored, and I would be a lot dumber about a lot of things.  And as much as I love my Kindle (and I do.  I'll be carrying 500+ Kindle books with me on the plane in a few weeks) I still love books.  Real books, heavy books, musty books, yellowed books, honest books.  I like my research books hardcopy because there is a neural connection made for me between a passage read and the sensory input of the book it was in.  I'm very thankful for the options I have now a days.  I can order a book instantly online, straight to my Kindle to enjoy.  Or I can choose to wait, to buy a book and integrate its feel into my reading experience.

I am so thankful, as well, to those authors that put themselves out there to write.  Worlds brought to life, people made real, and stories enacted through pure imagination.  What an amazing medium, writing.

So now I'm off to read to my kids, to pass literacy and love of books on.

~The DO

08 November 2011

What Would A Man Do?

I'm going to rant again. This is an area very near to me and I feel compelled to answer those who are supporting and defending some of the involved parties in this travesty. Warning, not safe for children.

I have one response to Penn State staff and Joe Paterno defenders. Fuck You. Is that clear enough?

By this time you've all seen the headlines and possibly the story out of Penn State. To say the whole affair is rephehensible is to call the Sun kinda big. It's an atrocity and everyone involved, from Paterno on down should lose their jobs, their freedom and their reputations forever.

Take a minute and peruse this time line. Pay particular attention to these six entries;

Fall 2000—A janitor named James Calhoun observes Sandusky in the showers of the Lasch Football Building with a young boy, known as Victim 8, pinned up against the wall, performing oral sex on the boy. He tells other janitorial staff immediately. Fellow Office of Physical Plant employee Ronald Petrosky cleans the showers at Lasch and sees Sandusky and the boy, who he describes as being between the ages of 11 and 13.

Calhoun tells other physical plant employees what he saw, including Jay Witherite, his immediate supervisor. Witherite tells him to whom he should report the incident. Calhoun was a temporary employee and never makes a report. Victim 8's identity is unknown.

March 1, 2002—A Penn State graduate assistant enters the locker room at the Lasch Football Building. In the showers, he sees a naked boy, known as Victim 2, whose age he estimates to be 10 years old, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky. The graduate assistant tells his father immediately.

March 2, 2002—In the morning, the graduate assistant calls Coach Joe Paterno and goes to Paterno's home, where he reports what he has seen.

March 3, 2002—Paterno calls Tim Curley, Penn State Athletic Director to his home the next day and reports a version of what the grad assistant had said.

March 2002—Later in the month the graduate assistant is called to a meeting with Curley and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz. The grad assistant reports what he has seen and Curley and Schultz say they will look into it.

March 27, 2002 (approximate)—The graduate assistant hears from Curley. He is told that Sandusky's locker room keys are taken away and that the incident has been reported to The Second Mile. The graduate assistant is never questioned by university police and no other entity conducts an investigation until the graduate assistant testifies in Grand Jury in December 2010.

At least two men, Calhoun and an unnamed graduate assistant physically saw Sandusky having sex with pre-teen boys and do not intervene. They left those boys to their fate. Left them. Who do they report the crime to? Superiors and supervisors. They passed off their responsibility as men, as human beings, to others assuming that those men would do what they themselves failed to do. It wasn't their own lives and safety they were playing with but that of two innocent boys and many more who came later. It all could have been stopped in the Fall of 2000 at the very least with a simple 911 phone call. Hell, they could have reported it anonymously but they didn't. I simply cannot fathom anyone who would abandon those boys at that moment. It beggars incredulity.

Paterno reports it to the AD who does....Nothing. The Vice president for Finance and Business is told and he does...Nothing. Paterno tells the Ad and then does...nothing. Three senior men, leaders and molders of young minds, who didn't just fail those two boys they consigned those who came after them to the same fate at the hands of a human predator who deserves nothing more than a bullet and an unmarked grave.

Let's define a few terms here, Child Molestation and Child Sexual Abuse are RAPE, nothing less. Sex with an innocent child is rape pure and simple. Words like molestation and abuse dilute the seriousness of the crime and lessen it's impact on the public who hears about such depravity. Those two boys, at the very least, were raped by Sandusky.

Let's play a what if game. What if that janitor or graduate assistant witnessed two players fighting? What if one of those players, larger and stronger than the other began choking his weaker and smaller opponent. Even absent seeing the actual death would it be reasonable to assume the crime of murder was happening before their very eyes? Would they be expected to tell a supervisor, coach, AD or Vice President and hope for the best? Would it be considered cowardly if they had refused to intervene or at the very least grab a phone and dial 911?

Everyone involved who didn't try to intervene and stop these crimes is a coward and a criminal, period. My wife Lu, all 5 feet nothing of her, would have done everything she could have, even at the cost of her own life, to stop such an act had she witnessed it and if told about such behavior she would have reported it and the names of the involved to the police. Without hesitation and without delay and damn the consequences. Would any of you have done different? I don't think so.

I am sick to death of the apologists and those who turn a wilfully blind eye to the wanton criminal behavior of beasts like Sandusky. Whether under the guise of a church, wayward child program or a university, those who fail to protect the weak and helpless are vile and deserve to be excoriated from the face of the earth. I have no sympathy, no concern and no regard for such as they and that most emphatically includes Joe Paterno. Paterno had a chance to step up as both a man and as a leader and he chose to not do so. The moment he was told about the actions of Sandusky it was incumbent on him, as it was on all the rest, to do everything in his power to bring the assaults to an end and ensure to one else was raped or harmed by that monster.That he failed in that most basic duty of all men tells me all I need to know about his character. Say it with me; Aided and Abetted.

I unconditionally repudiate Joe Paterno and the rest of those failures and spit upon their memories. May that university and all their works fade into nothingness. And don't give me Mandated Reporter. Every single human being who sees or is even aware of such crimes is morally mandated to report it to the police, not their chain of command. Some things are beyond discomfort and a desire to protect reputatons. Rape is a crime second only to Murder and you have to go a very long way to convince me that they aren't equally horrendous. Death Penalty for Rape? Sign me up as a supporter, especially for the rape of children and as far as I'm concerned all sexual contact with minors is rape of a child.

The only victims here, and they are victims in the truest sense of the word, are the little boys who were raped by a monster straight out of every child's nightmares and abandoned to their fate by the uncaring. No parent worthy of the name could stand by and watch such or hear about it without doing all in their power to see the rapist brought to immediate justice.

I have run out of words to describe my feelings here. I am at a loss for explanations and answers. My attempts to convey my outrage, abhorrence and heart sickness are inadequate. It is beyond my ability to understand such alleged men and their actions. If this isn't black and white I don't know what is. There is no grey area here. It is evil incarnate. The inability or refusal to protect our children is our very end as a species and if this is what we've come to then we are already lost.

May God forgive us.


30 Days of Thanks- D8

(Disneyland, 1990, in case it was all too subtle)  

I am very thankful for my folks: the Six and Lu.  We had a serious amount of fun as I was growing up, and they taught me the most valuable lessons of all: love of family, perseverance, and integrity.

(I'm sure I wasn't that bad a kid!  Really, I was an angel, I swear.)

My folks have opened their house to us with no reservations.  More than once, in fact.  This up coming trip will make the 5th 6+ week trip in their home over the last 4 years.  They must love us!

(Were I standing up straight, you would be able to see the we were the same height.  I was 11.  Yes, she's that short.)

I am an only child, and had a very close relationship with my parents.  I am beyond lucky to have been raised by these two characters.  They've certainly helped make me weirdo I am today.

~The DO

07 November 2011

America's First Jet Flight

Passed on by Sarge. I've never seen this particular video before. It's a good one.
From Aircraft Owner Online.

Mmmmmm. Sausage

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

30 Days of Thanks- D7

(Warning: NOT Mint Chip!  This is Pistachio, and while tasty, will be an extremely odd flavor when expecting mint.)
I have a serious sweet tooth, and my favorite is ice cream, and especially mint chip.  I've been living in a country with NO MINT CHIP ice cream for 3 YEARS!  I'm thankful that I'll soon be on my own shores, delighting in minty creamy goodness.

~The DO

06 November 2011

Sunday Kipling Memorial Day Edition

I know it's a few days early but I want to dedicate this Sunday Kipling to our brothers and sisters who gave their lives that this might remain the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. I love them, every single one. I will never forget their sacrifice, their courage and their families. We owe them so much. There is another fight coming, to these very shores. May we all not be found wanting and may we find our way into their august company with our heads held high in pride on that day.

And as always.
For Ken.


Dedication from "Barrack-Room Ballads"

BEYOND the path of the outmost sun through utter darkness hurled-
Farther than ever comet flared or vagrant star-dust swirled-
Live such as fought and sailed and ruled and loved and made our world.

They are purged of pride because they died; they know the worth of
their bays;
They sit at wine with the Maidens Nine and the Gods of the Elder Days-
It is their will to serve or be still as fitteth Our Father's praise.

‘Tis theirs to sweep through the ringing deep where Azrael's outposts
Or buffet a path through the Pit's red wrath when God goes out to war,
Or hang with the reckless Seraphim on the rein of a red-maned star.

They take their mirth in the joy of the Earth-they dare not grieve for
her pain;
They know of toil and the end of toil; they know God's Law is plain;
So they whistle the Devil to make them sport who know that Sin is vain.

And oft-times cometh our wise Lord God, master of every trade,
And tells them tales of His daily toil, of Edens newly made;
And they rise to their feet as He passes by, gentlemen unafraid.

To these who are cleansed of base Desire, Sorrow and Lust and Shame-
Gods for they knew the hearts of men, men for they stooped to Fame-
Borne on the breath that men call Death, my brother's spirit came.

He scarce had need to doff his pride or slough the dross of Earth -
E'en as he trod that day to God so walked he from his birth,
In simpleness and gentleness and honour and clean mirth.

So cup to lip in fellowship they gave him welcome high
And made him place at the banquet board-the Strong Men ranged
Who had done his work and held his peace and had no fear to die

Beyond the loom of the last lone star, through open darkness hurled,
Further than rebel comet dared or hiving star-swarm swirled,
Sits he with those that praise our God for that they served His world.

30 Days of Thanks- D6

(Why, yes, that is a tiny dutch wooden shoe sitting on top of a camera battery charger.  Why do you ask?)

I hate beer.  Seriously, hate.  Lemon beer, however, rocks!  My husband loves beer, and I've always wanted the opportunity to sit back and have a beer with him.  Once I found lemon beer I gained that ability.  So, shockingly, I am thankful for beer!  And sweet hard cider.  Love cider!

~The DO

05 November 2011

Army 14

Air Force 24.

Oh, the ignominy. My daughter and Ras will never let me live it down.


30 Days of Thanks- D5

(The little cherry tree in our backyard a few days ago)
I grew up in a place that had no seasons, but I have always loved Fall.  Well, it was so cold on the 4th of July that we wore jeans and jackets, and so hot the first week of October that we were in shorts, but I don't count that as seasons!

(Sledding down a hill in Oberammergau, Germany)
Most people remember the first time they saw the ocean, but I grew up next to the Pacific.  But I do remember the first time I saw snow!  I'm still a kid when it snows, and I tend to press my face against the window in awe.  Seasons were weird growing up, and I'd always wanted to live with "real" seasons, and now I have, and I'm so thankful for the experience.

~The DO