27 October 2007

Not just for companionship anymore!

Dogs - the new tabletop decoration!

We're going to use him on the dining room table for Thanksgiving this year.

Not sure how I feel about this one

Here's a head-scratcher for all my armed folks out there - Blind Man Shoots Home Intruder In Neck

Of course, it happened in Florida.

The 75-year-old retired taxi dispatcher, who's been legally blind for the past 61 years, opened fire on the would-be-thief who kicked down his door, police said.

Police said Williams shot Curtis, who tried to flee but collapsed on the front porch, inthe left side of the neck. He was taken to a hospital in stable condition.

As we know, every time one of these home-invading vermin is shot, it's cause for celebration. And, of course, as a good Second Amendment supporter, I'm all about everyone having the right to defend his or her home and life.

But you know...I'm really hoping that the phrase "legally blind" means this dude could see at least a little. 'Cause otherwise, frankly, that's a little scary. Glad it turned out well and all, but still....

26 October 2007

Out of pocket

I was on the road all day.

Just a quick thought, after 585 highway miles with Texans.

Why can't these people merge? The roads are nice and big, and the drivers are pretty friendly. But when it comes to changing lanes at any speed above "crawl," the default Texan reaction seems to be panic. Or drive-into-guardrail, which significantly delayed my return time.

For the love of God - Miami residents can merge at 95 mph (and Miami residents are generally performing voodoo rituals or swapping out their oxygen bottles while merging) - can't Texans do it at like...55?

25 October 2007

Most depressing news story


Okay. You've been warned.

From here in lovely Texas, we have - Pit Bulls Kill Miniature Horse Donated To Cancer-Stricken Child

That really gives you the salient details right there. Boy with cancer is given miniature horse, which is then killed by pit bulls. Downer.

AMARILLO -- A miniature horse given to a boy with brain cancer by the Make-A-Wish Foundation was killed by a pair of pit bulls who were found roaming in his yard, authorities said.

The 31-inch tall horse, Anniversary, was donated by the foundation to 3-year-old Christian Vasquez in late August.

Christian, who was diagnosed in January with a malignant form of brain cancer, received a pull cart, a blanket, a halter and a bridle set from the foundation on Saturday, said Jelaine Workman, executive director for the foundation's Amarillo chapter.

The dogs chased the boy's father up a tree, where he managed to call police on his cell phone (one of the few really good reasons I've heard lately to carry a cell phone). One dog was captured, the other escaped and is at large. No word on anyone who may have owned the dogs.

Workman said the foundation won't be able to supply a second horse but was getting calls from residents who wanted to donate money for a new one.

Anniversary [the horse] cost $1,300, and the foundation included free feed, training and veterinary care for a year in its gift.

On that cheery note, we'll end this.

My next pets will be CATS

Why, I thought to myself, does the TV in the living room not work?

The TV in the bedroom worked. But the error message in the living room was a new one, and so I dispatched the Mister to futz with the wires. Sure enough, something had come unplugged, and that fixed the problem.

I was sitting here this morning with my coffee, when I noticed Casey and Jack, apparently in pursuit of a toy, pawing behind the entertainment center. Reach back, paw around, pull paw out, peer behind furniture, repeat.

Well, that explains that. I extracted the toys and pushed the entertainment center as close to the wall as possible.

And went out for a smoke.

Where I noted, along with the Cuz toys and Kongs in the backyard, and the two socks, something black. And, near it, something clear.

Did you know...if one neglects to fill the Kong toys with peanut butter and other tasty goodness, one's pets might just decide to improvise?

In this case, they appear to have taken my turkey baster out of the sink and out into the yard, where they dismantled it and enjoyed all the day-old pork juice goodness they could lick out of it.

I'm going to go retrieve my socks and my baster, and see if there's anything else out there I need to be aware of. It's a pretty sturdy turkey baster, so it's possible it's just a good wash away from being back in the regular use rotation.

EDIT TO ADD: No. The turkey baster did NOT survive.

24 October 2007

Not easy being Abby

I came home to a NastyGram in my email from one of the full-timers at my Reserve unit. "Your name has been passed to the Battalion Commander," it read, "because you have not yet completed the Post Post Deployment Health Survey."


Kudos to the Army for caring about Soldiers after deployment, and all that crap. I went online, found this form, and filled it out.

Before deployment, we all filled out forms that more or less consisted of: are you happy, or sad? are you in good health, or bad? etc etc

When we came back, the forms were a little more complicated:
I have seen dead people -
a - often
b - sometimes
c - rarely
d - never

I have been exposed to depleted uranium -
a - often
b - sometimes
c - rarely
d - never

And so on and so forth. The Post-Post-Deployment form basically boiled down to - felt like hurting yourself or others lately? How ya doin'?

But after you fill out the form you have to call in and speak to a provider. I called, experienced a short wait, talked to a very nice woman, and then a very nice man. The very nice man was the actual provider, and as I was speaking to him, I was in the bedroom so I could change out of my work clothes.

So, said Mr. Nice Healthcare Guy, how's re-adjustment? You doing okay?

At that very moment, Jack raced into our room. He stuck his head in an open dresser drawer, yanked out a sock and took off.

My normal reaction would be to curse wildly and pursue him across the house, making wild threats about chainsaws and beatings.

Except I was on the phone with the Army Medical Guy.

Me? I said, gritting my teeth, I am fine. Mellow and happy.

I finished the call after explaining how mellow and stable I was, then threw the phone on the counter and took off after the dog, ranting like a madwoman. I hope I hung up effectively...

23 October 2007

Just in case

I just found one of those odd little government agencies that may, someday, under some circumstance, be really, really useful.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Mutilated Currency Division of the Bureau of the Treasury.

This is the coolest thing - these people, if something very bad happens to your cash, will take it, verify that it was cash, and send you a check.

[Mutilated currency is] Currency notes which are:

NOT CLEARLY more than one-half of the original note and/or, in such condition that the value is questionable and special examination is required to determine its value.
Currency can become mutilated in any number of ways. The most common causes are: fire, water, chemicals, explosives; animal, insect or rodent damage; and petrification or deterioration by burying.

Now that is a useful government function, and an agency to keep in mind just in case.

Nods to Bankrate.Com, where I found this info. It's a most handy site for when you find yourself having to do some unexpected grownup thing regarding your personal finances.

It pains me

but I think I have to say good things about California.

They seem to have their act together for handling this whole fire issue.

They've already got more than 12,000 people holed up in Qualcomm Stadium, and things seem to be moving fairly smoothly.

Among the volunteers was a corps of doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians who set up shop in the stadium's four major restaurants on the club level, which are climate-controlled.

There, some 600 senior citizens and sick people were being cared for, cordoned off from the general hustle-bustle common throughout the rest of the stadium.

The stadium also had makeshift pharmacies stocked with prescription drugs through donations from Costco and Target, Biagi said.

Now, it's a given that this really doesn't compare to the whole New Orleans/SuperDome/Katrina nightmare, since the entire city is not being hammered. That's true, but San Diego is showing admirable planning and preparation, and that should be recognized.

In addition, a shelter was set up for 200 pets brought to the stadium by evacuees, while an infant area was stocked with plenty of diapers and volunteers manned a daycare center...

It seems like a small thing, but lots of people will not evacuate without their pets, and good emergency planners must take that into account. We approve.

Of course, San Diego is a miltary town, and the folks in uniform are pitching in, even as some of them are scooting out of the way of the wildlifes.

In an effort to make room for more civilians who have had to evacuate their homes, sailors stationed in Southern California are abandoning their barracks.

"Orders have been given to all sailors ashore in barracks to move to shipboard billeting to provide room for evacuees," said a Tuesday statement released by the U.S. military.

Well, sucks to be those Sailors, but good on the Navy to support a city that so wholeheartedly supports them.

In a personal note, my sister-in-law and her family (and dogs and cats) have been evacuated from their home, and are staying with other family in the area. My mother-in-law is safe in her current location. However, she's a good cook and a dog lover, so I think the Bad Dogs are hoping she has to evacuate all the way to Texas.

Fabulous weather

Yesterday was cold and rainy, but this morning is crisp and sunny and...looking at my indoor/outdoor thermometer (which I do not assume is overwhelmingly accurate), I see about 46 degrees.


I'll need to do some schedule juggling, since there is no way I'm running anywhere on a cool morning when I could be drinking coffee in a bathrobe, but other than that...I hope it stays this way or gets colder.

Casey adores the cold, has never forgiven us for leaving Minnesota, in fact. She had a dog door there and would lay in the backyard as snow piled up on her. Here, though, she just seems to be happy to not be hot. She's been dashing around the yard looking for squirrels to bark at.

The Boy Dogs, on the other hand... Sparky is still in bed, and I think Jack went out for about ten minutes, and now he's looking at me like I stole September and hid it, along with his chew toys.

22 October 2007

Uniform nonsense

I was clicking around yesterday and found this little gem on Military.com: Marine Dress Code Changes Communities

Long story short, the Marine Corps is "clarifying" and "reiterating" the degree to which it frowns upon anyone seeing a Marine off base in "cammies" (the utility uniform). Seeing as the Marine Corps has recently spent 18 bazillion dollars on a new, fancy, digital uniform, you think they'd want people to see it, but...that's my Marine Corps for you.

Under the new regulation, Marines in camouflage cannot get out of their vehicles to run an errand or grab a meal on their way to or from the base. No pumping gas, running into the post office or picking up a cup of joe, either.

Although Marines were always largely prohibited from wearing uniforms off base, they were allowed to make brief stops during their commutes. Now they can stop only for a medical emergency, a traffic accident or a breakdown.

This reminds me of a story.

Back in 1999, I was living and working on Camp Hansen, Okinawa. Our main office was on Camp Foster, and we ended up down there several days a week. I had a couple of junior Marines assigned to me, and the three of us shared custody of one "GOV" (Government Owned Vehicle).

I can't remember which of my boys was with me, nor exactly which GOV we were driving, but one night the vehicle just flat-out died on the highway right before the Kin Exit (where you got off to go to Camp Hansen). We took one good look at the van, diagnosed it as way beyond our mechanical ability, and decided to hoof it home it in the dark.

Camp Hansen is perched atop a fairly large hill. It's not a long walk - all the way from the derelict to our barracks was probably not even two miles. But it is uphill all the way, and there are plenty of Marines driving up and down the hill.

My Marine and I set to trudging. It had been a long day, and walking the last couple miles home wasn't high on either of our lists, but we were strolling along and shooting the breeze.

A car pulled over, and the door nearest us opened.

"Hey! Who's senior there?" The Marine driving barked at us.

"That'd be me. Corporal [Abby]," I leaned down and extended a hand in to shake.

"Devildog, are you not aware that cammies are not to be worn off base? You are an NCO, and you should know -"

"Pardon me - our vehicle broke down on the expressway and we're walking back to camp. We really don't have a choice."

"Well, I suppose that's alright." He slammed the door again and drove off. Just. Like. That.

I looked at my Marine, and my Marine looked at me.

"What an asshole."

"Yeah. Let's go."

I was a very junior NCO at that point. These days, I'd be more inclined to engage in a shouting match, or to start taking off my clothes in the middle of the road in order to make my point. (Just because I am not so junior does not mean I'm any more reasonable, I'm just louder.)

Unfortunately, along with all that's wonderful about the Marine Corps, that stuck in my mind as an example of the pettiness that lurks in an organization so obsessed with its own rules.

I don't know who that NCO was who stopped on the side of the road with the express purpose of being a dickhead. He had that senior sergeant/junior staff sergeant look to him, but it's hard to tell in the dark. He is, however, a cousin to those joyless bastards who used to lurk at the WalMart nearest 29 Palms and accost young men with short hair who weren't wearing belts.

However, I imagine, that when this "new" regulation was being written, he or someone very like him was there.

Andrea Cerda, who works at Dorothy's Military Shop, a tailor shop, said it is not uncommon to see Marines changing clothes in their car, wriggling out of their pants and boots and into civilian wear.

"You see them bending around their steering wheel or moving back and forth in the driver's seat and you know what they are doing," she said.

It's the Marine Corps, and you know what you're getting into when you sign up. I don't think that sort of regulation is evil, or unreasonable, or draconian.

But it is silly and tiresome. One would think there'd be a middle ground between the Army (where it's socially acceptable to wear your utilities everywhere - I've seen Soldiers bowling off case in utilities - do they not own civilian attire?) and the Marine Corps' do-not-let-the-world-see-your-uniform weirdness.

(Note for those confused - the appropriate response from the jackass Marine who pulled over would have been a lecture about how we should have been carrying a change of clothes in case something like this happened, and it would have been delivered as he was giving us a ride back to the base - which was three minutes away by car)

21 October 2007

Bad Behavior

I only point this out because...well...tell ya in a minute. In what could be described as a "perfect storm" of tackiness, Waffle House brawl lands Kid Rock in jail.

"He and five members of his entourage were involved in a fight with a male customer inside the Waffle House," said Mekka Parish, a spokeswoman for the DeKalb County Police Department.

The customer recognized a female with Kid Rock's party and exchanged words with her, Parish said.

Same old story, I guess. Georgia Boy gets worked up because Georgia Girl has decided to be Georgia Groupie for the evening, and things go downhill from there.

This jumped out at me for a couple of reasons.

1 - I have a picture of Kid Rock on my mantel. He and the Mister posed for shot together some years ago, and we needed something to put on the mantel. So Kid Rock it was. That gets some interesting looks from the rare guest.

2 - There's family lore that involves a Georgia Waffle House brawl and police intervention. But it wasn't me, so I'll leave it at that.


What in the Blue Hell is this? From Texas?

Liberty County Veteran's Grave Vandalized

The family of a fallen Marine is dealing with another shock -- their son's new grave was vandalized.

Lance Cpl. Jeremy Burris, 22, of Liberty, died in Iraq and was buried at Cook Memorial Cemetery earlier this week.

Let's just go over this one time, in case anyone out there missed this.

Graves are for families. There are exactly zero circumstances under which it is acceptable to cause a grieving family further pain. Zero.

Bill Offutt, a Vietnam veteran, was one of the people who helped clean up the mess before anyone could see it.

"It was trashed," said Offutt, "The wreaths that had been around the grave -- they ripped them apart and stuff was strewn everywhere."

Well done, Mr. Offutt. And well done to those individuals who cleaned up the AO before the vandalism became a spectacle.

Somewhere in Liberty County there are some young folks (that's just a guess on my part, but I think it's a good one), in need of the mother of all ass-whippings. Then they need to marched down to the local VA hospital like five year olds who stole candy, and made to apologize to every patron of that medical facility.

Godspeed, LCpl. Burris. Pay no attention to vandals, there are so many more of us who are simply thankful.

Money lines

Coming, thus far, from John McCain, who tossed out the following two rimshots in quick succession:

"I'd rather lose an election than lose a war," was good. Very good. At least one member of one party feels that way.

That was followed by a discussion of Hillary Clinton and some Woodstock museum boondoggle. McCain was making a point of how much he didn't know about Woodstock, pointing out that he hadn't made it, because, "I was tied up at the time."

Well, now everybody's whacking the ball out of the park, because their instructions for this speaking period were more or less, "Why does Hillary Clinton suck and why should people vote for a Republican instead of her?"

The crowd, at least, is into it.

Fabulous Sunday

The stomach injury appears to be improving, removing my concerns that it may have been a tear. I think we can declare it a strain, and that's a win.

Slept late, put thatch on tiki bar, napped, did laundry. I'd call it a win all the way around.

Now I have the Republicans on Fox, and it's shaping up to be at least remotely entertaining. Fred Thompson is making jokes about Ted Kennedy's girth, and Mitt Romney has some weird hairstyle going on that leads me to wonder if he's spent the weekend thus far drunk on a beach in Miami. Not that there's anything wrong with that.