Getting dressed for work, I put on my favorite black shirt and found five bucks in the front pocket.
That bodes well for the rest of the day, I think. We shall see.
13 September 2007
Texan: Humberto 'snuck up on us'
"The intensity surprised everybody, especially the amount of rain and wind," [Galveston Deputy] Cavness said.
"It snuck up on us, to be honest with you. It wasn't something we were expecting."
Little note to my new state - if you're dumber than Florida residents, it doesn't say good things about you.
Snuck up on you? For the love of God, people, its' not a volcano, it's a freakin' hurricane. You might not have expected landfall at a particular point, you might not have expected a particular amount of rain, but a miles-wide tropical weather system that's been on the news for days should not come as a surprise to anyone who lives on the Gulf Coast.
That's not exactly something that one can fail to notice if one watches the weather. And I'm not telling anybody what to do, but perhaps, if it's September and you live on the Gulf, watching the weather might not be a bad idea.
Yahoos. Anyway...here's the link to the "current systems" page at the National Hurricane Center. We ridicule, but we educate.
Posted by Abby at 07:55
12 September 2007
10 September 2007
I was reading Murphy again, and he spoke, among other things, about a particularly foul cup of coffee in Iraq.
Long ago and far away, I was a young Marine public affairs type stationed on Okinawa. As military "journalists," we drank copious amounts of coffee from sunup until the bars opened.
We had a particularly irritating "shop duty" which required one of us junior pukes to trudge up to our basement Public Affairs Office in the wee dark hours and get things set for the day. We copied and distributed the Early Bird (which came in by fax), turned on lights, did some other random crap, and made the coffee.
Since we were stationed on Okinawa, periodically one of our Marines would get to travel to Iwo Jima. Veteran's groups, VIPs, and the occasionally over-motivated wing unit would go to the island for various reasons, and they all wanted official photos taken.
Now, we are all aware that in the all the grand mythology of the Marine Corps, there is no more hallowed battle than the one for Iwo Jima. Blood and death and sacrifice and valor and victory and the ghosts of long-gone heroes...it was a religous pilgrammage to make, and any small souvenier was treated like a sliver of the One True Cross.
One dark morning, a young corporal had Office Duty. He trudged up the hill, copied the Early Bird, and took a copy to each appointed desk. He turned on lights and then went to the main office to start the coffee. The big can, he noted, was empty.
So the corporal went to the supply closet, where there was a big red Folgers can, partially full. He set the coffee, then went out for a morning smoke and prepared to start his duty day.
The rest of the office rolled in. As was normal, the old gruff master sergeant was the first at the coffee pot. He stopped, peered at it, and hollered for the corporal.
"Yes, Top," the young man joined the master sergeant.
"Why is the coffee clear? Or cloudy? But not black?" The Top was perplexed, as was the corporal. The young man immediately opened the top of the coffeemaker to ensure he'd put the grounds in. Yep - wet and black. He looked at the Top, and the Top looked at him.
"What 'coffee' did you use?"
"We were out, so I used the half-can in the supply closet."
A sigh. A long, drawn-out, master sergeant sigh.
"Son, you made coffee with the sands of Iwo Jima."
Anybody could have made the mistake, I suppose.
Note - picture above swiped from a gentleman named, I believe, Joe Richard, who has a very nice page dedicated to those who served with such courage at the gates of Hell. Their valor allowed us to monkey around on a Japanese island 53 years later.
So Dad needed a gun. For primarily decorative purposes. Please don't ask - he's getting stranger as he ages.
This could not, of course, be a simple gun. Oh no - it had to be a cowboy gun. It also had to be something in a slightly uncommon caliber, with which he can (in theory) hunt deer in Michigan brush, and for which he can eventually buy an equally cowboy-looking companion revolver in the same caliber.
Got that? And nothing too expensive.
Did I mention that Dad stopped interacting with technology in 1969? The last mouse he dealt with was scurrying around his woodpile. He stomped on it, and that was the end of that.
So during his recent visit I sat him down and we took a brief spin across the gun-nut section of this magnificent internet. We looked at guns by Marlin (just not cowboy enough), Henry (ahhh...a little expensive and really shiny and not quite right), and Cimarron (holy MSRP, Batman!). To say nothing of Uberti, Navy Arms, and all the rest.
Then we stumbled across the Puma. It's an Italian Brazilian (thanks, Drew! I knew that!) gun, made by Rossi, and imported. They make a lever rifle in .45 Long Colt with a 20-inch barrel and case-hardened color on the receiver.
Kinda pretty, if you're into that sort of thing. And affordable.
So Dad went home with an item number written down, and the gun dealer he prefers to use (just down the road from the hollow stump in the northern forest where I grew up) said, "Sorry, can't find one."
I searched the 'net. Gunbroker.com, which is becoming more and more simply a place where retailers list things at mediocre prices, was coming in just under MSRP. With shipping and transfer fees (which were abnormally high at Tree Stump Guns, by the way - I called), we were not looking at a good deal.
I found that Gander Mountain is a vendor for the Puma importer, so I called the one up North. They could get one, the man said, for $60 over MSRP.
That, I figured, was a load of Puma poo. Just after I resigned myself to lurking on Gunbroker and getting Dad on the hook to pay retail (ick!), I thought to myself, "self, you haven't looked to see if Bud's has one in stock."
Why, yes. Yes, they did. At about $130 under MSRP, and with free shipping to boot.
I've heard mixed reviews about Bud's, but it seems a reasonably functional group of people. I'll be interested to see how long it takes, as Dad will be mailing his payment to them. I shall keep y'all posted.
I'm so proud of myself. Saving that much money makes me want to go out and blow the "savings" on ammo and toys. But, alas, if it's not my money I saved, I don't think I get to do that.
It's raining here, which means my satellite TV is being less than useful. So I have CSpan.com up - is this technology stuff great or what?
I'm not going to do anything so ambitious as try to "liveblog" the Petraeus testimony, but until I get fed up, I'll watch and maybe comment.
The CSpan guys are chattering now, and I picked up one bit of info. They expect the general to testify from roughly 1230 Eastern until 1830. With two breaks. In front of a joint committee.
Does that sound worse than having bamboo jammed under your fingernails or what? I can imagine a lot of unhappy things, but six hours of nonstop grilling by a politicians primarily interested in posturing...that's torture, dammit. Amnesty Internation ought to come to the rescue of Gen. Petaeus around 1600, if the world were fair.
OK. I"m going to have a smoke and wait for this testimony to begin. We'll do further commentary below.
Alright. CSpan.org suddenly became less-than-reliable, but the rain let up enough that I think I’ve got MSNBC coming in Lima Charlie.
We shall see.
This whole thing is starting out with…a heckler? There’s a voice hollering and…Ike Skelton (D-Mo) bounces ‘em. “Out they go!” Long pause…. “are they gone?”
Breaks at 1425 and 1625? For five minutes?
“What may be the most important hearing of the year.” Well, Ike’s got the picture.
Insert here long, drawn-out rambling by Ike Skelton. As soon as he referenced the 1921 testimony of Gen. Leonard Wood regarding the Spanish American War, I decided it was a good time to cook lunch.
Ike says, and I paraphrase, that Petraeus is the right man, but two years and 250,000 troops too late. I don't quite understand that statement. Time is an artificial constraint in this situation, and numbers of troops...well, that's a variable entirely within the control of gentlemen like Skelton.
Note - Petraeus has odd hair. As does Ambassador Crocker. Can't someone help these gentlemen out?
Rep. Tom Lantos is a very scary man. The accent does not help (accent explained here). "Every single one of us wants you to succeed in your efforts to the greatest possible extent." Forgive me my doubts, but I wonder about that.
Huh? Lantos says, "our witnesses have been sent here this morning to restore credibility to a discredited policy." I thought they were there by Congressional order to deliver a mandated progress report.
Now Duncan Hunter is talking. When the TV guys introduced this, I thought there'd be a little chatter before the witnesses spoke. Apparently, I was wrong. We all love Duncan Hunter, but there's nothing particularly surprising to be found here.
I'm going to go cook my pasta, as I think the water is boiling. I shall return.
Posted by Abby at 16:10
No - apparently not.
Hey - here's a powerful member of the ruling elite whose son and daughter-in-law are both Marine captains. They've both done time in Iraq, and the daughter-in-law is apparently currently in Afghanistan.
That would be Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).
I like this woman. She's called out Moveon.org and Neville Chamberlain, as well as Congressional surrender weasels. All within a couple of minutes. More posturing, of course, but she's doing it well. Heck - she just quoted the most recent NIE on Iraq.
Holy crap! They're letting Petraeus talk! Or trying to - the microphone appears to have been installed by three hungover specialists....
(banter during the technical difficulty tells us the Rep. Lantos, who we talked about earlier, is the only Holocaust survivor serving in Congress. Huh - don't I feel like a jerk for making fun of his accent.)
Ike is throwing out more shouting people. And another of the committee members is blustering about how much more effectively he could throw hecklers out of the room.
Duncan Hunter, it appears, is suggesting he be allowed to punch hecklers.
I'm going to go have another cigarette.
Now I'm back and apparently, this audio problem is not resolving itself. Chris Matthews is talking, which is always a downer.
Oooh! We've got audio.
Quick political test - do you think the audio issue was a secret Bush plot to keep the people from hearing the truth, do you think it was sabotage by pinko-lefties designed to silence pro-Bush military leadership, or do you think it was a SNAFU?
"I believe that we will be able to reduce our forces to the pre-surge level of brigade combat teams by next summer" without giving up the progress made thus far, says the general. Throws a bone to that certain crowd that cares about being done more than about victory or defeat.
He's doing a splendid job of pointing out that his plan, what we call the surge, has only really been in motion since mid-June.
These charts are...charts. They follow a big old disseration on the validity of the numbers coming out of MNFI, and the solid methodlogy by which those numbers are produced.
Ruh-roh...here we are saying the quiet part loud, as Petraeus starts drawing the clear lines linking Iranian Revolutionary Forces and Hezbollah and the EFP attacks and assasinations across Iraq....
Whew...fortunately, some brave Voices of Dissent from one of the anti-war groups were there to stand up and begin shouting down the Man. Ike calls a halt and has the bums tossed out. Go, Ike!
Time for another smoke, and I need to rotate laundry. I may return if anything exciting happens.
Petraeus now talking about the point at which he feels we can start to draw down, saying it would be premature to make predictions about the pace of drawdowns past next summer. And token reductions this winter - the MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) that's there will leave soon, he says.
Well, yes. MEUs take six-month cruises. He also refers to a BCT (brigade combat team) departing around the new year without replacement. Beyond that, he's not committing to anything, which is without a doubt a good idea.
He just handled the whole "change the mission strictly to training" issue - that is, if we made our mission one strictly of training Iraqi Security Forces, rather than one of providing security and killin' terrorists, we'd lose fewer people and could reduce our forces.
Petraeus pointed out handily that we've seen before what happens when we hand off tasks to the Iraqi Security Forces before they're ready - really bad stuff.
We seem to be closing out the general's portion of all this madness. He concludes and there's....more heckling!!! By women in pink outfits, weating foam rubber tiaras and buttons with slogans on them?!?!
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Loyal Opposition. [spit]
Posted by Abby at 14:09
Do they even call themselves that anymore?
I've been trying to find a pic of the yahoos that Ike "The Doorman" Skelton threw out of the hearing earlier, with no luck.
But a little sleuthing around revealed that these were probably members of Code Pink. I'm taking that primarily from the fact that they were wearing pink outfits. So I could be totally wrong, and it could just be one of those awkward coincidences of fashion.
But I did manage to find a pic of a fellow protestor on the front steps of the Capitol earlier today.
Well, that just screams credibility, doesn't it? When I sitting in the dirt outside of Baghdad, this is the sort of person I wanted influencing those who owned my ass. The same and other angles are available here.
I'm getting the urge to start drinking, which tells me maybe I need to turn off the TV and clean up the kitchen.
Posted by Abby at 13:23
09 September 2007
I have said before, and I will maintain, that if you are buying common handgun practice ammo, WalMart cannot be beat. I restocked the .45 the other day with 50-round boxes of Blazer Brass at $9.97.
A household shortage of cottage cheese and limeade required another Wally World run yesterday, so I figured I'd rememdy a little 9mm shortage I'd noticed while pawing around the Bad Dog ASP.
The Sporting Goods dude double bagged my Winchester White Box, and I didn't think another thing of it. Until, as I was crossing the parking lot, I heard an odd "tink." Followed, a second later, by another "tink."
When I'm in the WalMart parking lot, I'm normally not watching my groceries. Making it across that parking lot is like crossing between trenches in WWI, and requires all my attention. But I finally looked down.
I was drizzling cartridges.
Note to self: WWB 9mm is packed loose in 100-round boxes. When sloppily bagged, these boxes can turn over. This can lead to me walking back across the scorching Parking Lot O' Death, plucking shiny rounds off the asphalt.
I will admit, I was a little surprised nobody was out there snatching them up. I followed the trail back to its beginning, picking up 15-20 rounds. Fortunately, I'd made it well out of the store before the leakage began.
Cheap ammo, but also, cheap packaging.
Additional note to self: My husband is not stupid, and does not believe me when I tell him WalMart was offering three free Value Packs of Winchester 9mm with the purchase of Borden's cottage cheese.
Apparently I'm not the only one out there who thinks these colors can look a little different from the sample once they're on the wall.
That's quite orange. Note the accessory in this next shot. Not a whole lot of difference, is there?
Jack says, "I'm colorblind, but man, that's orange!"
Mr. Abby said, "My kitchen looks like a Mexican restuarant." Oddly, he seemed bummed about that.
I'm going to finish it, do the touchups, and then we'll see if it grows on us.
Posted by Abby at 14:32