Sunday, December 31, 2006

Dinner at the Outback is always fun with the family.

The family went to dinner at the Outback steakhouse tonight to celebrate the new year.

The folks, well preserved for their ages, 79 and 84, respectively. Still chuggin' along pretty well.

Sis and I. It's always a struggle to get her to sit still for a picture. As a result, she always takes such a good picture (ha!). Muh. Only one of many ways she can be a huge pain in my ass. I'm sure she'd say the same about me. Siblings.

See what I mean. I made that necklace she's wearing. Simple stocking stuffer for both she and mom at Christmas. Easy peasy. Nothing like the stuff Phlegmmy puts out.

Appetizers; a bloomin' onion with honey mustard dip sauce, and crab dip, and bread. If you ever go, ask for the honey mustard sauce on the side. It's excellent. Much better than the mustard sauce they give you with the onion. We know how to do this shit. Just don't get in the way. You can't see them, but mom's having a Margarita and sis is having a White Russian. DP for dad and water for yours truly. I know, boring.

Mmmmm. Shrimp for dad and I. Salads for the ladies, then shrimp over rice for mom and fillet minion for the big sis. I tell ya, we make a hell of a mess, but it's good stuff. Sis took home about half her steak, and a few of mom and dads shrimp. She knows better than to try to reach for mine. Bring back a nub.

Always the last bit of drama, discussing the size of the tip with sis (who used to be a waitress in Dallas back in the 80s). The look on dads face is classic. I think in the end, the damage was about $120, tip included. Not bad for eating machines like us, and I'm just counting my sister and I.

And then we wait for sis to finish her salad. It takes her FOREVER to finish. Eats slowly. Something about digestion, or just annoying the piss out of everyone else. Ether way, it's her thing.

After that they deposited me back here and then headed back to Temple and Belton. We'll all be sacked out or laid out in front of the TV, or this friggin' thing, when the time comes at midnight. Yep, boring as hell. What can I tell ya.

Found out today that I've got an extra day off due to Ford's demise. The base will be closed Tuesday, due to the national day of morning. This means I'll be finishing up the mini term faster. I'll be taking the history class from about 1820 to 1877 in two days. Don't blink, is all I'll say. New semester starts Monday (the 8th), so there's no time to spare. Government class will be easy to finish. Not as much to talk about. I can blather on endlessly in the history class, but teaching government is a chore, so I don't mess around.

Anyway, HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE. Hope all you new years wishes come true, and everyone is healthy and wealthy next year. Cheers.

Here's the real shit. Don't watch if yer sqeamish...

Though it isn't that bad. Cell phone video of you-know-who swingin'.

Again, good riddence.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Well, they're sayin the fucker is dead.

This is one of those times when I'd love to walk out in the street and cut loose with one of my toys. A little celebratory fusillade. Swing low you murderous bastard. Good riddance.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Hey folks...

For a little musical interlude, click on this. Copped it from MarquisdeJolie down there. And for a giggle, check out this crazy bastard. Chack out the dude hangin' on for dear life towards the end. Amazing. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Man, I'm tryin' for friggin' HOURS to post a video from YouTube but it aint workin'.

I switched over to Beta and now It's all hosed up. I even reregistered with them with my new info. No bueno por caca, so click on this for a trip down memory lane with the late James Brown, bless him. Enjoy.

Here's a cool idea that won't go anywhere, I betcha.

Everyone knows one reason why the year 1492 is a big deal. We have it drummed into us in school, as well we should. Columbus sailed off looking for China and bumped into the western hemisphere, setting off a process that ultimately leads to me sitting here typing this in Texas, rather than England or France or Germany, or some other friggin' place. The other reason that year is a big deal is that it's the same year the combined forces of Aragon and Castile conquered Granada, the last holdout Moorish kingdom in Spain, ending a 700 year religious war between Catholics and Muslims called the Reconquista, or Reconquest.

Arab Muslim armies conquered East and North Africa in their expansion from Arabia in the 7th century, and then, in 711, they crossed over into Europe at Gibraltar (Gabral al Tariq, or "The Rock of Tariq", named for the general who led them). Over the next few years they steadily conquered all of the Iberian peninsula from the Visigoths, who had settled there after the Roman Empire fell, until they were stopped in what is now southern France in 732 by a sausage eating kraut (kinda French) named Charles Martel. At the battle of Poitiers, the Muslim conquest of Europe was stopped, and Charles was dubbed "The Hammer" for his victory.

Anyway, the Moors set up a huge Muslim kingdom in Spain that eventually broke up into several smaller ones, and these were eventually reconquered, one by one, over 700 years, until Granada fell in 1492. In the process of that, the Spanish became Spanish as we would recognise them today, Spain became a centralized nation-state, and the Catholic faith became synonymous with Spanish nationality and identity.The veterans of this process were then sent to conquer and settle the new world, which they did with much violence and gusto.

So, there is a significant Muslim influence in much of the architecture and DNA of modern Spain, and today, Spain is experiencing a rise in Muslim immigration from north Africa and an expansion of its Muslim population. Also, we all remember the Spanish born Muslims who blew up the trains a few years ago, which led to the fall of the conservative government and the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq. Supposedly, their motivation in the bombings was NOT Iraq, but the idea of recreating that great Muslim kingdom in Spain.

Now, check out this story. Muslim leaders in Spain are proposing that the Cathedral in Cordoba be made a place where all faiths can worship together.

Spanish Muslims Ask Pope's Permission to Worship in Mosque Turned Cathedral

28 December 2006

Spanish Muslims have appealed to Pope Benedict seeking permission to worship inside a landmark southern Spanish cathedral that was a mosque more than 800 years ago.

Spain's Islamic Board says it is not trying to take over the Cathedral of Cordoba, but wants to turn it into a place where believers of all faiths can worship in the spirit of peace and humanity.

The board says Spain's Catholic Church leaders have turned down its request, and that cathedral guards often use force to stop Muslims from praying inside the church.

The Cordoba cathedral was built as a mosque when the Moors ruled Spain starting in the 8th century.

The building was converted to a Catholic church in the 13th century when Christians reconquered Cordoba.

This cathedral is amazing to behold. You can easily see the Muslim influences, and the sort of pasted on Catholic features. Check it out.

You might be thinking, how lame it was for the Spanish to turn such a beautiful Muslim holy site into a Catholic cathedral. Well, these folks had 700 years worth of issues, and only a hundred years after Cordoba was converted, the Muslim Turks conquered Byzantium, renamed it Istanbul, and turned the largest, most spectacular Christian cathedral in Europe, the Hagia Sophia ("Church of the Holy Wisdom"), into a mosque. So, turn around is fair play right? War is hell, someone said. Dig these pictures of the Hagia. Today it's a museum. Of course, the Turks added the minarets.

And they plastered over the Byzantine images of Christ and added the Islamic calligraphy. Beautiful stuff. I'd love to see it in person, but never had the chance... yet.

My point with all this is that I think this new idea for a multi faith use of these old sites is great, and I hope it happens, but I won't hold my breath. Both sides have convinced themselves that they're downtrodden and under attack, which is ludicrous on both cases. So very few people are willing to make such a huge gesture. Remember when the Pope went to Turkey a while back? Muslim activists were mad at him for his earlier statements about Islam, and said that if the Pope made even the slightest gesture as if he were praying in the Hagia Sophia they'd riot. This is the Popes turn to make a huge positive gesture towards the Islamic world, but who's to say that Catholic lunatics wouldn't riot in Spain if Muslims were allowed to pray in Cordoba?

Wouldn't it be cool if the level headed folks could find a way to finally shout down the idiots and put this crap behind us? What are the odds?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Oh, and I realize it's really, really late in the day to be talkin' about this...

but you've GOT to click on this and watch this guys rant. Hilarious. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Santa brought me a cool assed digital camera...

but the thing is as complicated as Chinese math (sorry). What the hell ever happened to point and shoot? Still instinctively bring it to my eye for a split second each time I try to use it, but that's going away. Slowly learning some of the functions, reading through the ridiculously thick instruction manual. So, yer thinkin' "when are we gonna get to see the FHB?


Meet Sandy, one of my hunter killer kitties. Lethal fucker he is. Used to bring home monster rats and shit till the neighbors forced me to fence him and the others in the yard. Dickless, humorless mother fuckers! Back yard is like the gulag archipelago for kitties now. Sad, but what can you do. Yer thinkin' "What the hell is all that crap behind him?" Well, that's the tack board over my desk, and about 30 years worth of accumulated crap (doesn't even begin to illustrate the full scope of my accumulated crap, I assure you).

Question is (click to enlarge), how much of this shit can you identify?

Here's another of my tribe. Tiger by name, pussycat by nature. He also has been known to slay rodent scum with abandon, but is the only one of the bunch that will let others than I approach him. He's a sweetie. In fact, this is the one that the neighbors gave to animal control, trying to get him killed for layin' around in their yard. I hope they all get tumors.

So (note the still healing evidence of the pox), yer not fond of cats? Maybe a weak self esteem requiring the always attentive, slobbering sycophancy of "Man's Best Friend"?

Well, that's just pathetic. I make rude noises at you for such silliness. Dogs are cool as hell, but cats are mystical, holy things. The Egyptians knew that shit four or five thousand years ago, so ketch up, for Christs sake.

Anyway, I've got shit to do. Don't get used to this level of intimacy. After this I'm back to being aloof, distant, and mysterious.

See what I mean? Me and my 30 close, trusted friends are outa here (well, really 20. I don't want to fuck up the clip). 10 points if you can ID the origin of the clip (duh, I mean the manufacturer). I know, easy peasy.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Here's something that's bursting with the spirit of the holiday.

Have an engorgedly merry Christmas everyone. Enjoy

Friday, December 22, 2006

Ok, It's Fatty Friday....

But I just don't have in in me today. It's Christmas for Christ's sake, so I'm off to get dad and take him out to eat Chinks (sorry), and then It's more Dogfights on TV. So Merry Friggin' Christmas and I'll be back in the mood to be gross and inappropriate later, I'm sure.

Oh, what the hell....

Live long and prosper.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Io Saturnalia everyone!

With all the talk going on these days about how the real spiritual basis for Christmas is somehow under threat from secularism and political correctness, I think it's time to remind a few folks of some history. See, 2000 years ago, the Roman world had this little festival that took place at the end of each year, celebrating the winter solstice, the end of one year and the birth of the new one, and the god Saturn. Basically, it was about a two week piss up. People loved it. It was the best two weeks of the year. Everyone got time off from work and school, exchanged presents, set up and decorated evergreen trees, and basically had a huge time. When the emperor Constantine had his vision at the bridge in the early fourth century and Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, the new church authorities tried to wean the common folks away from all of these "pagan" traditions. They couldn't get people to give up the statues and alters they'd set up everywhere to make offerings to the gods (who, after all, had ordered their world very nicely for thousands of years), so the church started allowing statues to be set up to all the figures of the Bible. Over time, people shifted to the new "gods" and new traditions began to replace the old ones. Offerings and prayers to the old gods evolved into offerings and prayers to the new ones, seeking some form of intercession with the big guy.

They tried to get people to stop celebrating the two week end of year festival, viewing it as a horrible pagan travesty, but they couldn't do it. The people loved it too much. So, in the spirit of compromise (which we know the Catholic church has always been really good at), they simply cooped it. The "pagan" holiday went from being a festival to celebrate the god Saturn and the birth of the new year, to being a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Christ. The exchanging of presents began in Roman times, but Santa and the association of the evergreen holiday tree with Christmas were supposedly German innovations. All these pagan remnants hung on because people loved them and wouldn't let them go. When the Madison avenue folks got hold of it all in the 20th century we all began to be trained like Pavlov's dogs to go out each year and put ourselves into debt to line our roofs and yards with more and more lights and lay out more presents under the tree than last year. I don't want to be a bummer, but I'd be amazed if the number of people in America who really see Christmas as basically a vacation when they're gonna have fun and get cool presents didn't outnumber the folks who focus only on the religious meaning of it all.

I'm not totally closed off to the religious meaning of it. I was raised to believe in it all. Back when I taught classes on Navy ships I had a chance to do a little traveling. I've been to Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and I've seen the rock where Jesus was supposedly crucified, and his tomb. I went to what they claim is the Garden of Gethsemane, which is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. I've trudged up the mountain in the Sinai where Moses supposedly got the ten commandments, and I've seen what they claim was once the burning bush. I grew up taking all the religious stories for granted, accepting it all without much thought, but you know, at some point you grow up and start asking questions. I love all the Bible epics from the 50s and 60s that get drug out for the season. Movies like The Robe, Quo Vadis, Ben Hur, etc. all captured my imagination as a kid and helped me develop my love of history. I jokingly tell people that my knowledge of the Bible is so limited, if the story didn't appear at some point in a movie starring Victor Mature, chances are I don't know about it.

I'm not really that uninformed, but like most people today, I pass quickly by most of the supposed religious basis for the holiday and go directly to the family gatherings, the awesome food and the spiked eggnog. It's all about family and fun with me, and time off from the drudgery of work, and memories of the past years when, as a kid, I reveled in piles of cool presents under the tree and snowy vacations away from school. Imagine the irony of that. I used to hate school and now I'm a teacher. Bizarre. For many people I think "the reason for the season" is a Christmas bonus in their check, good food and drink with friends, reconnecting with family, celebrating another year in the bag, and having a week or so off from work. Lets be real. Our end of year festival is still a huge pissup... A materialistic orgy that goes on every year, framed by Christmas and New Years, culminating in the New Years celebrations that easily mirror the two week Roman festival from 2000 years ago. Is it about God? What really is the "reason for the season" for you? If they took away the time off, the parties, the booze and the presents, would very many people show up?

These guys probably wouldn't.

But then we probably shouldn't use them as a barometer, should we? Anyway, I hope everyone has a great time. To each their own. I'll be heading over to the folks with a trunk full of stuff, eating great food and celebrating one more holiday with the whole family still in tact. No tellin' how many more of those there'll be. So, Merry Christmas (or X-Mas) and/or Happy Holidays to everyone. Cheers. By the way, "Io Saturnalia" is Latin for "Ho, Praise to Saturn". Ya gotta love Wikipedia. And by the way, dig this...

Click on it to see the larger image. Love that Hubble. Looks like the cover of a Yes album from the 70s, or maybe an old Star Wars poster. Later.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Two days into a mini-term, and the first exams are already coming up.

I managed to get away from a two gun shows this last weekend without pissing away too much money. I found a few old used Eastern European clip bags in a bin for a dollar each and plunked down $20 for an old, early model AK-47 bayonet in Austin on Saturday, and got some good Jim Bowie brand peppered jerky in Ft. Worth on Sunday. I also got to watch the fun when my buddy bought himself a new Ruger .357 magnum revolver and some ammo to go with it. He was walkin' away from it and looked at me and said "What the hell. It's only money right?" You know what my answer was. He got to cross off another gun from the list. That's always fun to do, even vicariously.

He took a few nice pictures of the F-35 and it's chase planes last week. I include a few here for your amusement. I mean, you're buyin' these beauties with your tax money. You might as well get to see what you're payin' for. At least in this case it's goin' for somethin' tagible. Click on these to see the high resolution images.

The take off. Note the F-16 chase plane in the upper right.

Flying overhead, this almost looks like it's hovering. One version of this plane will have the capacity to do that, to replace the AV-8B Harrier in Marine service, but I believe this is the Air Force version. There will ultimately be three different versions of this plane, so that each service will use it. It's very stealthy, and has thrust vectoring and a super cruise capability, so it's hot shit and should last well into the century in the inventory.

Nice tandem shot, F-35 on the left, F-16 chase plane on the right. They make both of these planes in Ft. Worth at Lockheed-Martin, which used to be General Dynamics back in the day. The F-16 was designed there and won the Air force contract in the mid 1970s when my family had just moved to Ft. Worth from San Antonio, where my dad had retired from the Air Force. They're still building them there, thought the project is winding down, and now the F-35 contract means lots of good jobs for another generation or so. Don't ya just love the Military Industrial Complex at work? I miss the hell out of seeing and hearing those jets all the time. Tanks and APCs are cool, but I'm an Air Force brat and jet junky from way back. It never gets out of your blood.

I started a mini-semester Monday, with a History 1301 (first half of U.S. history) from 8am to noon, and then a Govt. 2301 (first half of state and federal) from 1pm to 5pm each day. We'll have three day weekends for Christmas and New Years, but other than that it's every day. After two days I've taken the history class from the Ice age to about 1690, and in the government class we've gone over all the rudimentary definitions of things and have gotten about half way through the process of drafting the constitution in 1787. It goes very quick in this format. Four hours a day, four or five days a week, for three weeks. I jolted the government class today when I told them that their first exam would be Thursday rather than Friday. I realized as I was finishing up today that I've got about two hours worth of lecture left before the first exam, so I had to lower the boom on 'em. We'll do a good review before the exam, but I wouldn't be too shocked if half the class bombed it. It's a doozie. No fuckin' prisoners.

My sister called today and told me about the plans she's concocting to celebrate our parents 57th wedding anniversary, which is this upcoming Christmas day. We're gonna get a nice carrot cake and flowers, and we're gonna take dad to get mom some baubles. Sis had some nice writing put on the cake, "Happy 57th, To The Love Of My Life". She says dad came close to breaking down when she told him about it. He's a big softie in his dotage. We're all getting there.

I'm watching "The Bad Seed" on Turner while I type this. This flick is amazing. The evil little girl just set the handyman on fire and her mom is losing it while the brat plays this insane tune on the piano, faster and faster. Jesus, they really knew how to make a flick back then. The end of this thing is classic. Check it out.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

It's gonna be another full weekend of gun shows and eating out.

Heading to Austin with one set of buds Saturday and then up to Ft. Worth to do another one with another bud Sunday. Friend from Ft. Worth called me this afternoon from the end of the runway at Carswell to tell me that the F-35 was doing its maiden flight. I could hear the jet roar over the phone. Makes me want to move back up there.

And here's something cool. Very artistic. I think the dude ruins it in the end. See what you think. Have a nice weekend.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Well, It's Fatty Friday, and I feel good enough to be inappropriate.

Would you like some cottage cheese with that?

Thank you. Thankyouverymuch.

The kings got a camel toe goin' on. Maybe he had breast feeding issues as a kid, ya think. And no, that's not me. Here's the real thing, loaded off his ass. Gotta love it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Watch out...

The appetite's back. Be afraid, very afraid. Dad and I had to miss our regular Friday dinner last week, so I called and I'm taking him tonight. I finished the classes in Florence this morning and don't have to go back till January 3rd. Can you believe they start back to high school on the 3rd? Seems to me we used to have till mid month back in the day. One more final on the base tonight, and I'm done for the rest of the week. Mini term starts Monday. No rest for the weary.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A consensus has finally been arrived at.

Looks like I had Chicken Pox, since last Tuesday or so. It was a friggin Pox after all. Hilarious.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Still puny.

Heavily medicated. lookin' to spend the weekend soakin' in epsom salts, grading papers, and poppin' pills. Good times. Fell like this guy. Cheers.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Puny, but still remembering the day.

"...A day which will live in infamy." How many people will note the day? I hear that the 500 some odd survivors are meeting in Hawaii. It's a very moving place to visit If you ever get the chance.

Its been a shitty week. Started out Sunday with some sort of headache, post nasal drip crap. I started taking Coricidin D and Nyquil Monday afternoon, resisting the inevitable pressure from my hippy assed sister to take some sort of medieval tree bark shit, and by mid day Tuesday I was feeling a lot better. Then it tuned into some sort of infection that broke out in red spots all over my face and scalp, spreading to my shoulders and arms, and eventually to the nether regions. Went in and got a shot and some good drugs this morning, so I should be fine soon. Thing is, I'm finishing up 7 classes this week and next week, so I have to go into class looking like I rolled in poison ivy. I have no energy to read term papers, and would love to avoid going in to class, but the way our system is set up, If we are sick we have to find someone to cover for us and pay them out of our own pocket. I tell people "Don't worry, It's just the pox." Thing is, I never get sick. Anyway, take care.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Happy, happy, joy, joy.

It's cold this weekend in Texas, and I just cranked up the fireplace for the first time this winter. I've got a backlog of old term papers and exams sitting in front of the hearth. It's like the fall of Saigon here, with me burnin' papers and stuff, getting rid of old officialdom, doin' my bit for global warming (my shreader is busted). And there's a cool show on the history channel. "Dogfights". They show old guys telling their stories of wars gone by, air-to-air combat from WW1 to now, with really cool computer animation. Check it out, and have a great weekend.