05 May 2007


So - we got Mr. Abby packed. Then we made a couple of stops and I dropped him at the airport.

We've done this a few times before, so he got dropped at the curb with a kiss and a reminder, "wear your protective eyewear and stay out of the first vehicle!"

I turned around, made another stop, and came home. I opened the door, let the dogs out, and fed them. I was just settling in to watch the Derby, then run and make a Publix trip. You know, all the good shit I do when he's gone.

The phone rang.

"Hey, honey. Change of plans. Can you get me at the airport?"

So I turned around, hopped in the Jeep, and picked him up.

Seems that the flight that was going to carry them from point A to point B was already running behind. This would have made it highly unlikely that their connection at Point C would have worked. Missing the connection at point C would have totally screwed up point D, and they would've arrive at Point E with only moments to spare, and their bags already a day behind them.

This, of course, would have meant that they'd probably have had to proceed from point E to point F without their bags. Point F is also a short stop, and they really really needed their gear to take from point F to point G.

So they scrapped points D and E, and they'll try again soon.

This means, of course, that I have a husband again, and a big pile of baggage, and a healthy supply of hysterical phone calling going on.

But, it also means the dogs got a big old fun group walk.

This is one of those "Semper Gumby" occasions. Gotta love that. Since I have him around another...well, however long, I think I'm going to drag him out for pizza and beer.


How often do you hear a government employee refer to his agency and facilities thusly:

"For anybody that reads that report and doesn't listen to me talk about it for two hours, this looks like a hellhole run by a bunch of idiots," Armstrong said.

That is the director of Animal Services for Hillsborough County, which Tampa and the surrounding communities.

It's a pretty damning description of the way the shelter facilities are run here, which isn't a big surprise.

The only interaction we ever had with them is when Casey escaped from Mr. Abby while I was gone. Their system worked well in that case and he got her back shortly after the Dog Cops picked her up. Apparently, we were lucky.

It's good this report is getting some publicity. Public animal welfare is difficult, particulary in urban areas (more so in Florida, I'm sure, which is populated largely by savages), but I'm pretty sure the county can do better than an 82% euthenasia rate.

Controlled hysteria

I'm about to stick Mr. Abby on another airplane, so he's in the end stage of packing. His job requires an odd combination of corporate-style crap and, like, hanging out at the war, so the packing is always an adventure.

"Have you seen my dress shoes?"

"Yeah, under the bed."

"Do we have an extra pair of ballistic glasses?"

"Bottom desk drawer, on the left."

And it goes on.

Please rest assured that it's been an insane week here. I'm not intentionally blowing the blog off. I anticipate return to normal excessive posting very soon. Please bear with us.

Meanwhile, there's a black puppy burrowing through Mr. Abby's carryon, looking for something to steal. I must intervene.

04 May 2007


Not only was I up at a decent hour, but I just finished ironing.

[pauses for gasps to die down]

I wouldn't do this for just anyone. I've got a retirement to go to, and I'll tell you about it later.

In other news, Jack's incision has healed, so we can hit the beach today. Which is good, because mere walks don't cut it, and the boredom of retricted activity has driven him nuts. He's shredded three catalogs and a roll of toilet paper in the past 36 hours. That's ok - nothing I can't fix by wearing him out.

OK. Gotta finish my smoky treat and hit the road.

03 May 2007

I'm about useless

today. Sorry about that. I've got two long, blathering posts that were embarassing in their lack of coherence, so they're in draft form in the hope I can save them later.

I did lunch with some friends and have sort of "function" to attend this evening. Meanwhile, I'm due to run around the park, so I'm going to go knock that out.

I'll try to get back later and get y'all something meaty. In the meantime, go pet your dogs or clean your guns. Or both!

02 May 2007

Waiting, patiently

For the M1 carbine fairy.

(Imagine with me for a moment, if you will, exactly what the M1 carbine fairy would look like...)

Anyway. It went Priority on Thursday, but I didn't worry about delivery confirmation, so I simply assume it arrived in a timely manner. Monday afternoon, the CMP guys posted the picture of their mail.

And they said there were an additional three tubs sitting on the floor.


And yes, I did open the imagine and zoom in on it to see if I could spot my envelope. No luck - the resolution was too low. Yeah, I'm a freak.

Of course, some evil lucky ratbastards are getting the "we've opened your order and we're dealing with it so don't call and bug us" email. I, not surprisingly, have not.

[sigh] (and these are whiny, bummed sighs today)

I'd actually just be thrilled if this shows up before I head to Texas. I'm really not sure how likely that is. But it WOULD make things simpler, so we can probably be safe in the assumption it WON'T work out that way.


Listen, people. About this tainted food supply thing...

The general consensus is that due to dilution, this isn't going to kill anybody.

The U.S. meat process is a little questionable. We feed things to the animals we eat that I'm not entirely nuts about ingesting. "Organic" and "free-range" meats are probably the way to go, for safety's sake. Even better is wild game.

But most of us can't afford to eat like that, or lack the time and commitment required to fill the freezer with wildlife.

And that's okay. Really. Our food supply is the best and safest in the world.

Millions of people buy their food in places like this.

Then again, places like that do their own meat cutting to order right in front of you.

I'm not saying we shouldn't keep an eye on our food supply, folks, but it's good to remember that many people around the world manage to survive by eating things that are nowhere near our "acceptable level of sanitation."

A little knowledge

Can be a terrible thing. Sparky recently learned he can "play" with Jack. Mostly, this consists of Sparky antagonizing him, then, while yapping, darting under some object Jack can't get beneath. Sparky then yaps while Jack furiously tries to fit under the bed, or the coffee table, or the lawn chair. Then Sparky runs out the other side, nips the puppy, and races away yapping. Jack, of course, whines, yips and growls throughout.

How fun, you say! How cute!

I woke up this morning far too early. I stay up late and I sleep late. Don't hate me - I'll have a job again soon. I love - love love love - that period in the morning that involves waking up slowly.

This morning I woke when a yapping yorkie dashed across my chest and dove for cover on the right side of my torso. Then a black face and paws appeared directly to my left, and a pink tongue lolled in my face.

"Grrr....yap! Yap yap!" said Sparky.

"Yip! Woof! Rarrrrgh rarrrgh," replied Jack.

"Shut the fuck up and go away," suggested Abby.

So Sparky launched himself off the bed and raced around to Jack's side to bark at him. As Sparky leaped to safety (again) and landed on my legs, Jack suddenly realized that he, too, is capable of jumping entirely onto the bed. Onto my face.

After some thorough cursing, I flung both dogs off the bed and trudged out into the living room. Then dashed back into the bedroom for some clothes when I noticed the Cubans still working on my windows.

After finding some garments, I tried again. The Boys were sitting on the floor, looking innocent. Casey was stretched out on the couch, and appeared to be enjoying my irritation. I think she believes it serves me right for not letting her be an only dog. She's probably right.

Pardon our dust

OK. Yesterday's musing sent me over to the blogroll/link list. I love to put things in folders, so I set up some sub-categories and moved some folks around. I've got some more site to add, and I'll see if the catgories are really working for me. A work in progress.

In other news, you'll see I was forced to remove the AKC Outdoor Series squeaker toys from the Product Endorsement list. I hated to do it, but I recently purchased another full-sized squirrel that Sparky killed in minutes. I can't be out here telling you these things last for weeks - apparently, the first ones I bought were abnormal in their toughness.

The original review remains in the archives, because they are good toys, but I don't feel comfortable pushing them on you anymore.

01 May 2007


From CNN - Snake-brandishing woman gets house arrest

This is exactly what it sounds like. Girlfriend held off the fuzz by brandishing five (no shit, five) venomous snakes.

Officers were trying to prevent the despondent woman from harming herself with a hunting knife when the confrontation took place October 25, police said.

Jackson picked up two western diamondback rattlesnakes, a pigmy rattlesnake and two copperheads to try to keep police from taking her into custody, authorities said.

Jackson, who was raising the snakes for laboratories, received several bites during the standoff and was taken to a hospital after police subdued her with a stun gun.

Wow. I mean...damn. I wouldn't do that. I find snakes...frightening. I don't kill them, I just wish they'd wear bells or orange flags or something. I hate being startled. I hate most of all being startled by a snake.

Then again, if you're brandishing them, you're not being startled, are you?

On the downside of this, you get bitten by the snakes. And they take your snakes away.

On the positive side, it's better, apparently, to hold off the coppers with reptiles than with a rifle.

I have a relative (NOT immediate family) who held off some Michigan State Troopers for a while with a rifle. They took his rifle away and he spent a not-insignificant period of time in prison. Pointing a gun at the cops is a serious felony. Pointing a snake appears to be...a little gentler in terms of repercussions.

Keep this in mind the next time you have a stand off with your local law enforcement agency.

(Disclaimer: We actually approve most highly of cops and don't think you should engage in any standoffs with them. If you must, we recommend using non-venemous snakes, because after all is said and done, everybody can have a good laugh about blue racers. Not so with the green mambas)

Local news update

I know y'all love this stuff. And even if you don't, I'm pretty sure my Mom does, so learn to cope.

To kick things off, it currently reads 88 degrees on the local news site. I can confirm "hotter'n Hell" from my recently completed afternoon run (3 miles today).

In cheery news, we have: Man Found Dead In Burned Car.

Detectives say they have learned Jones was highly intoxicated from drinking all day Sunday. It appears he passed out in the car and died after a fire started in the engine compartment, police said.

Moral of the story: Do not pass out in a crappy car. Best to take a cab or just pass out in a gutter near the bar. A ticket for drunken vagrancy beats a fiery death ten times out of ten.

Next we have some national news happening locally: Iraq Conflict Converges On MacDill.

While he's here, Bush will confer the President's Volunteer Service Award on Daniel Middaugh, 16, of Riverview, an East Bay High School sophomore who has done extensive volunteer work for charitable agencies.

Bush then will participate in a briefing by officers of Central Command, which has its headquarters at the base.

After the briefing, he will speak to a gathering of military officers of the nations involved in the military coalition fighting in Iraq.

Alas, not much controversy with this. I passed a "protest" on a nearby intersection that consisted of about eight people (hey - it was hot). Only on of them even had a cranky sign - the others were all holding signs that said "PEACE" and "Support the Troops - Bring Them Home Alive." Moral of the story - there's no controversy in agreeing with that kind of sign AND the president. I want 'em all back alive, too.

More on the perils of parked cars in the Bay area...Body Found In Vehicle Identified. It was, incidentally, a "badly decomposed" body.

The car was covered with a tarp and had been inoperable for some time. Serrano-DeJesus’ family members found him after they uncovered the tarp to see why a foul odor was emanating from it.

There are no signs of trauma or foul play, authorities said. Serrano-DeJesus was reportedly addicted to crack cocaine and did not report to his job on April 13. His wife reported him missing three days later.

I'm not sure there's a moral in this one. Perhaps...if your husband has gone missing, look in the car that has a tarp on it?

Until next time, folks, watch yourselves around parked cars.

Name dropping

I woefully neglect my blogroll, which is pretty unorganized to start with. One of these days I'll get around to updating it, perhaps even dividing it usefully so my dog readers aren't routed off into gun nut sites and the reverse.

But I DO like to link to folks who read and comment here. It's a community, and it's entirely possible that I may stumble across something really cool.

So...recently I've been dropping in on Bonnie. She's been doing a personal fitness blog for a while (her motivation level frightens me), but has just recently started being a Squeaky Wheel in Search of Grease. She strikes me as appropriately cynical and distrustful of authority figures, so drop by and check her out.

Then we have commenter aepilot_jim, who runs Confessions of a Gun-Toting Seagull. I love his blog and read there frequently, but he's using MySpace, which frightens me. One of these days I'll register there so I can harass him directly in his comments section.

I'm so Small Time, I'm all about the linkage. If you comment here regularly and I don't link to you, it's not because I don't love you - it's because my ADD kicked in and I wandered away to pet a dog or something.

This blogging thing is fun, and I'm all about helping my readers find MORE sites to suck up their valuable time. Bad Dogs and Such - contributing to the national lack of productivity one link at a time.

Under siege

The stucco project from Hell is still not finished. Yesterday they were around the other side of the the house, futzing with the window frames. Today they're on my side, futzing with the windows.

Must remember to not walk around house without clothes on.

Once this window futzing is complete (please, please, let it be today), then perhaps they'll paint. Then, I hope, they'll leave.

The dogs haven't been too insane about multiple short guys jabbering in Spanish right outside the window. Once round of barking when they first started, but now they're just sulking. In an hour or two, though, the guys should be around back, which will mean I'll have to greatly reduce potty breaks and just-hanging-out-in-the-yard time.

Less than a month left for Abby in this Hellhole, my friends. There are no words for my glee.

30 April 2007

Sign me up

For the clinical trial.

Now, I'm not a Cosmo-type gal, but I enjoy picking between sizes 6 and 8 rather than 10 and 12. I put in some effort to be able to do that, though.

I'd love to be able to put in less effort, though. Effort sucks. And this pill...

...the animals also ate around a third less food than they normally would.

But that's not the primary draw...

The hormone-releasing pill has so far only been given to female monkeys and shrews who displayed more mating behaviour and ate less.

Now, of course, it can't just be the Fun Skinny More Sex pill, so they have to issue a disclaimer:

a psychologist said low-libido was usually caused by relationship issues.

Well, duh. But the pill that might make it possible to overlook the fact that the man in your life has spent the last nine hours on the couch giggling at his own farts?

If this shit actually works out, it'll be the fastest drug in history to be FDA approved and to be entirely covered by every insurance plan in America.

Then, of course, two years after approval, we'll learn it causes eyelid cancer and excessive hair growth on the elbows. But know what? Nobody will give a damn.

Good job, British scientists!

Oh, how I'd love it

LeeAnn asked me what I thought about the concept of some sort of compulsory national service, perhaps similar to what Israel does.

Oh, man - would that ever be fabulous. A system that required every able-bodied, non-retarded American citizen to serve 24 continuous months sometime between the age of 18 and 25.

Very few things make me smile way down deep inside like the thought of all the useless young sniveling shits in our country getting their entitled whine on in front of some of my old NCOs. It's a picture in my head, but it makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

Imagine...(and we can insert the instrumentals from the Beatles tune here)...the impact on journalism, if those reporting on the military actually knew anything about what they were talking about.

Imagine the impact on national policy if we knew we had millions of trained, available Americans - and that our own sons and daughters were most definitely among them.

Imagine the social repercussions of sending every young American to live under the supervision of sergeants for a couple of years. Think that would have an impact on crime rates?

Imagine the impact on firearms legislation if everyone learned how deadly a service rifle is - and isn't. Imagine the Brady campaign trying to spew misinformation in a country where everyone knew what an "automatic" really is.

Imagine the impact on our foreign policy if many, many Americans had the opportunity to travel to the places our servicemembers go - even in peacetime.

Imagine the impact on our national level of obesity of subjecting even 10% of that age cohort to MCRD Parris Island or San Diego.

Imagine the impact on race relations of having every American spend at least eight weeks living in a squad bay with members of every race and belief system on the planet.

I think it would be great. Amazing. Wonderful. I think it would fill the gap so lacking in our country - providing a definitive break between childhood and adulthood. I think that time with sergeants would imart a great national lesson in the fine art of learing to shut the fuck up and deal with it.

Alas, I couldn't support it. A few reasons.

It'd be a great social program, but I'm not sure it would have a positive national defense impact. Eight zillion fat, whiny kids who aren't going to be around long enough to train to do much of anything useful these days? Expensive.

I won't go too far down the "I don't want to serve with draftees," road. I don't want to slight any of those who've gone before, been drafted, and served with great honor and distinction. But we've put a lot of time and money into a creating an all-volunteer force that works amazingly well. That's a lot to risk.

It might work, practicality-wise, to simply train them and turn them loose again, subject to quarterly musters for accountability, serving out their term as a sort of "marginally capable reserve." But I think that would negate a lot of the social benefits.

But mostly, I find it slightly un-American. Philosophically, if this country is worth defending, it will always find its own defenders. In times of extreme peril, I suppose a draft can be justified. But fundamentally, the America I'm madly in love with is a place where one ought to be left the hell alone to do as one wishes as long as no innocent bystanders or farm animals are injured.

Compulsory service just rubs me wrong.

I would love to see more opportunities for service, both military and civilian. I would love to see more encouragement for young men and women to do their part. Service is a fundamental way of saying, this is my country and society and I am responsible for it. I would love to see more young Americans step up to the plate, because I think they're doing a piss-poor job of it right now. I think their parents, educators and adult influences are doing a piss-poor job of instilling that sense of responsibility.

But I don't think we can force it. Tempting though it might be.

It's very easy to agree on what everyone "ought" to do. But it's an entirely different thing to make that what everyone is "required" to do.

Things you can't explain

So I got back from running around the park, and I sat down with the Bad Dogs. "Dogs," I said, "You don't want to go out there right now. It's hotter'n Hell and super-sunny."

Casey whined. Jack jumped up and down (yeah, we're having a lot of luck with that "keep him low-key after surgery thing). Sparky yapped.

"No, guys, seriously. If I take you all out for walks right now it would be like animal cruelty."

Hearing the word walk, they began hurtling around, shaking their collars and staring at the door.

"Goddamit, I said no walks! Walks come later, when it's not a thousand degrees out!"

As soon as it starts warming up, I do this every single day. I'll start taking them right after 1700, and I'll take Casey last because heat really wears her out. If I could just speak Dog for like ten minutes...

The "broken" military

We hear a lot about our "broken" Army. Sometimes the talking heads tell us it's already broken, but more often they say it's about to be "broken." Or is "breaking." Or cannot possibly be far from some serious breakage.

[sneering child voice]
George W. broke the Army! Way to go, George!
[/sneering child voice]

As near as I can tell, this "broken" line means we have, or are about to have, used it up. Worn out the people, worn out the gear. It's a non-specific term, so we're going to refine it in order to deal with it.

The Army will be broken when we can no longer field the necessary forces with the necessary training and the necessary equipment to accomplish their mission.

Well, let's attack this in reverse order.


Buy more.

Oh. You want more detail? 'Cause really, we're the goddam United States of America. We've got the factories, we've got the smartest and most capable workers in the world, there are damn few raw materials we can't find within our own borders.

One of the fabulous things about our society is that there are almost no problems of supply, production and manufacturing we can't solve by throwing huge amounts money at them. Whether it's the vehicles, the ammunition, or the nifty ass-saving electronics we put in the vehicles, there are no supply problems a couple of big, fat government offerings (with no-bullshit timelines) couldn't solve.

It's only money, folks, and there's nothing else we should be spending it on first. Of course, that would require the actual co-operation of our Congress and a committment to make things happen, regardless of whether or not they were happening in one's home district.

Next! Training.

I saw a news bit a few weeks ago, and I think it was in reference to the 3rd Infantry Division. T'was terrible, the talking head announced, but Our Brave Boys were going to be sent back over without being trained! A bloodbath waiting to happen, because the Army is broken.

Now, I've never been through the Army pipeline, and I've never been an infantryman, but I have been around a little bit. As I recall, everybody gets trained.

Let's look. A young guy joins the Army. Then he goes to basic training (at Fort Benning, if he's going to be an infantryman). The Army does something called "one station unit training," wherein our young man spends 14 weeks knocking out both the basic training stuff and the infantryman stuff.

If we're talking about someone who's NOT an infantryman, say, an MP, then we've got basic followed by nine weeks of specific military police training.

I'll skip breaking down the Marine Corps process, but suffice it to say there's even more training involved. So, people, we are not signing your neighbor boy up and putting him on a plane to Ramadi as soon as we find boots that will fit him.

The training the talking heads were referring to was a trip to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin that most large active units do before they deploy. Now, NTC training evolutions are fabulous and valuable, but when the vast majority of your officers and NCOs and senior junior guys have recently been downrange, and when you still conduct several weeks of pre-deployment training at your home station before departing (which 3ID did), skipping the NTC trip is really not equivalent to putting Girl Scouts on an airplane.

Let's talk about personnel.

Our military is too damn small, folks.

Now, before Charlie Rangel has a stroke, could everyone please say it with me, "the fact that our military is too small does not require a draft. There will be no draft."

Seriously. No draft. Stop trying to scare the children, Charlie.

Let's say you own your own business. Dog toys. You make 'em and you sell 'em. You've got a full warehouse, and three guys doing your packing and shipping. The orders keep rolling in, but your three guys are overwhelmed. They're pulling, and packing, and shipping dog toys, but you keep falling further behind. Do you sit on the floor and cry, or do you hire more people?

Thank you.

Very nearly six years after 9/11, we've finally gotten around to authorizing a bigger military. Yes, authorizing. See, our active Army's authorized endstregth for FY2005 was slightly over 1.4 million. That number actually incorporates a small authorized "number in excess." See, the military can't, on its own, say, "hey - we're too small!" and grow. The military can't even say, "hey, we're too small! Let's not buy helicopters this year and hire people instead!" The military must spend every dime as directed by Congress, and must maintain a size directed by Congress.

Today the Secretary of Defense announced he has recommended to the President a permanent increase to the end strength of the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps. His proposal is for an increase of 92,000 personnel over the next five years: 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines.

That's from a January DoD press release.

That's really great, but over five years? Folks, we need 'em faster.

We do have to point out that five years ago it was Spring of 2002. I don't think it required a crystal ball at that point to guess our country was going to be involved in operations in the Middle East for quite some time to come. If our Congrescritters had passed the above authorization then, it would be a done deal now. We should also point out that, fully-enacted, the above endstrength increases will still leave us with a military far smaller than we had in 1991. Food for thought.

We meet recruiting goals for the active Army and Marine Corps. The Army fell short in 2005, but added recruiters and relaxed standards and offered more money and they're doing fine now. You make Congress authorize the bodies, the recruiters will find them.

And about the "relaxed standards?" I caution you - trying to find current, non-partisan data on the subject is a challenge. I first point you to a USA today article with a useful sidebar. It's a nice summary of what exactly these "relaxed standards" are. For those of you who want more "ground truth," well...go forth and get some knowledge.

The scores are grouped into five categories based on the percentile score ranges shown in Table 2.1. Persons who score in Categories I and II tend to be above average in trainability; those in Category III, average; those in Category IV, below average; and those in Category V, markedly below average. By law, Category V applicants and those in Category IV who have not graduated from high school are not eligible for enlistment. Over and above these legal restrictions, each Service prescribes its own aptitude and education criteria for eligibility.

The Army has, effectively, increased the allowable percentage of initial accessions who are not high school graduates or GED holders with a certain amount of college credit from 2% to 4%. That's it.

Although the Services have long been aware that the completion of high school is a useful predictor of success in the first time of enlistment, that doesn't necessarily make non-graduates useless bastards.

We're not emptying the jails, folks, but the Army raised the bar quite high after the big drawdown in the 90s. A little too high to support a rapid expansion.

Meeting recruiting goals for the Reserves and National Guard is a little trickier. At least on the enlisted side, many of the folks in those two components have already served some active-duty time. They then join the Guard and Reserve because they don't want to be on active duty anymore.

We may have to look at some novel ways to handle the Guard and Reserve. If we're going to continue to disrupt civilian lives and employment with multiple, long deployments, we may have to offer some finiancial support to these guys as a sort of "retainer," beyond paying them for one weekend a month. Perhaps we can offer them the option of volunteering for a two-year activation, half in the US (perhaps training some of those newly authorized active duty guys?) and half downrange.

We are currently faced with a personnel issue. Nothing we can't overcome with cooperation and honest discussion, but we have to deal with it as it is - not as we wish it were. We need public figures to come out and encourage young people to sign up. We need them use words like "duty" and "obligation."

We need people like Charlie Rangel to shut the hell up. He is, as they say, static. We need signal.

We're back

Sorry for the silence over the weekend. I normally don't do that, but Mr. Abby and I enjoyed out last quiet weekend together for...well, a long time. He's on the move again soon, then I'm on the move, then the kid will come in, then... This weekend was be the last not-much-to-do-but-hang-around-together weekend we'll have until late summer.