Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sight seeing at Oak Ridge and shooting with the Knights (road trip diary - 8).

First, here are a few shots from the road trip down from Williamsport to Harriman.

Here's a shot of the road down the west side of the Susquehanna. The river was obscured by fog all the way. I think this was taken about 8am, or thereabouts.

Saw this cool air boat being towed down the road...

And this Stiker armored car in an army convoy. Note the nice GPS system my buddy loaned me for the trip. Nice toy, but it tends to overheat up on the dash, so I put a towel over it.

I was smokin' a stogie and jammin' tunes all the way. Robert Johnson, Albert King, The Black Crowes, Jimi Hendrix, Government Mule and the Allman Brothers. Must of had my mojo workin', 'cause I was able to evade capture by at least three state troopers who should have nabbed me for flyin' low. I was able to make good time, cutting an hour off the trip from the last time. Helps to go 75 or 80 most of the way.

Today we hit the road and Mushy showed me around the perimeter of the plant he worked for about thirty years.

Oak Ridge was a part of the Manhattan Project in World War Two, and parts of it still function, so we couldn't get too close, but it was very interesting to see the old K25 plant where Mushy worked part of the time, and other buildings too, and listen to some of the stories from that time. It was cool to see what's left of the old housing, and the community that grew up there over the decades that the facilities have been in operation.

After that After that we strolled through Gander Mtn., waiting for the eating place to open. We went to Wild Wings in west Knoxville, and both of us chose the eight piece meal, and a beer.

The Sierra Nevada was cold wonderfulness, and it turns out they actually had wings the flavor of the generals chicken. You know I was in heaven.
Later we headed over to Steve's place (one of Mushy's brother-n-laws) and shot guns. Another brother in law, Ron, met us there, and we all had a great time.

I got to shoot a few of their toys...

I shot Mushy's .45 revolver.
And I got to shoot a Garand for the first time...

Mushy checked out my AKM. It's a hoot to shoot, fer sure.
And when he got to shootin' it, he kind went over the edge, emptyin' a clip at some inoffensive beer bottles. It was a great time.

After the shooting, we retreated to the comfort of Steve's screened-in porch. The beer was flowing, and the stogies burnin', and the tales a spinnin'. My first Macanudo. Very smoothe! Good times. I tell ya, I'm havin' a ball here with these folks. Best time ever. Can't believe how well we've all hit it off. Steve's place was cool as hell, and I bet it's even prettier in the winter.
Well, that's enough. I'm hoggin' Mushy's computer. More fun later. Cheers.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Posting from Mushy's.

Made it back to Harriman in 9 1/2 hours, an hour less than it took to drive up from here to Williamsport. Flyin' low, and the traffic was much better. Had my "mojo" workin', blarin' Robert Johnson, Albert King, The Black Crowes and Jimi Hendrix all thew way. 3 state troopers (one in PA and two in Virginia) had me in their sights and passed on it. Life is good.

Got here, checked into the hotel, showered, and then headed over to their place with the load of contraband in the trunk. Mushy and Judy were thunderstruck at the load. Hell, I told him I was gonna fill the trunk, and that's what I did. We'll post pictures later.

After unloading the stuff into the house, we went to eat at a local Italian place, and then stopped by to visit his mom. It started to rain as we got there, and all got a bit wet getting out of the truck. It amazes me how easy it is to fit right in with this bunch of folks. Great people! His mom is a sweetie. 80 years young, I think, and still sharp as a tack.

Now were tying to make plans for what were gonna do in the next few days. Shoot, sight see, and whatever else comes up that we can think of. We'll have a great time, and the pictures will be great. Here's the first one...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A year of blogging, and my 300th post.

If I'd known what fun I'd have when I started this friggin' thing a year ago, and the cool folks I'd meet along the way, and the friends who'd become just like family that I'd acquire in the process, I would never have believed it. This experience has changed my life, in many ways. Thanks guys and gals, for coming by and enriching my life. You're all dear to me, in ways that you'll never really know. I won't name any names, but you know who you are. Your links are over on the left. Some of you, I'm sorry to say, I've never got around to linking.

A few of you have been sliding by and commenting since day one. Others have come by since then, and for some reason, decided to come back. I really can't imagine why anyone would want to read what I post, but I know that the things I've read along the way at your blogs have made me a better writer, and opened my eyes to a lot of sides of the human drama that I probably never would have seen otherwise. Again, thanks for coming by and enriching my life with your words and commentary. I hope I can continue to keep it interesting, so long as this thing keeps going. Cheers.

Met my cousin's new grandson today (road trip diary - 7).

Here's the little wiggler. A boy, so my cousin will be able to train him right. Future Penn State Lineman, fer sure.

The proud mama. She and her hubby may well have different plans for the kid. They'll work it out.

The proud grandparents. Congratulations folks! Love these people to death! They've always been wonderful to me. We're all going over to the kids house tomorrow for a big family gathering, a swim, and a cookout. Should be a huge amount of fun in the sun.
My first trip up here in 1994 ended similarly, with a Memorial Day picnic at Bob's in laws place. I got to meet everyone, and they all treated me like I'd been in the family all my life. Lots of water under the bridge since then, but those feelings have never ebbed. Can't wait to get the chance to come up here again. Maybe next year.
Monday I'll jet out of here early, and head back down to Harriman. I'll post again from there some time this week. Hope your weekend has been fun. Cheers.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bald Eagle State park (road trip diary - 6).

At about 6:30 this morning, Bob and I headed over to the little town of Avis to meet up with our friend Jim. Nice house eh? We all piled in his SUV and pulled his boat about 25 miles southwest to Bald Eagle State park, to fish in Foster Sayre lake.

We put the boat in...

As we motored out, Bob got his lines ready and set to go. Serious business.

The two master fishermen, who'd been here before, conferred on where to get the lures wet.

At one point I noted that Bob was smoking a different kind of cigar than yesterday.
We fished hard, for 4 hours. The weather was nice, though it got hotter and more humid as the day went on. Thing is, we didn't get any bites. Not even a nibble. Not even a follow. eventually, on a day like this, I'll bust out the small lures, little twisty tail worms, and go for sunfish... ANYTHING. But today we didn't even see bluegills. Just carp, and a few other things jumping now and then.

Then, just as we were set to pull out and go, Bob landed our only fish, a very nice sized small mouth bass, right next to the ramp where we put in originally.

We all felt better, and we fished a bit more intensively for a while, but eventually threw in the towel. Enough was enough. So much for fishing in Pennsylvania. Now I know why these guys go up to Canada all the time.
On the way back, we stopped for lunch at a local place called the Blue Chimney Restaurant. The grilled ham and cheese was very good.
The guys were a bit weirded out by my picture taking, but I said I was on a mission. I had to document things. Bob said "Well, you're not following me into the mens room!"

Check it out if you're ever up here. Not bad, and not pricey. We're napping this afternoon, and then lasagna, and a trip to the booze barn (not it's real name). More later. Cheers.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Up late again with the lap top (road trip diary - 5).

Bob and I went to a local Booze barn (not it's real name) today and scoped out the local fare. Turns out they have about a dozen different varieties of Mushy's favorite, so I'll be loadin' the trunk with a few things, to let him experiment. Hell, if the stuff turns out to taste good, I might have to truck some back to Texas. Put an ad in the Killeen Daily Herald... "Anybody out there a booze head who yearns for some Yuengling? You'll have to pay up sucka!"

Bob and I went to see the latest Die Hard sequel last evening, after chowin' down at a local Chinese place, and the movie rocked! Ok, you have to suspend a bit of disbelief here and there, but it was a rollicking great time. Loved the hell out of the scenes with the F-35. They make those in Texas you know. The one portrayed in the movie is a marine/navy model, that can hover. All those capabilities are real, true to the real plane. Love the stuff we get for out tax money! At least it's more tangible than some friggin' giveaway program, flushin' billions down a rat hole, chasing after the Great Society! Give me cooler bang bang any day!

We're gonna be heading out to Jim's place early today, like 6;30 AM, to head out to a local lake and see what we can scare up. Jim's a pro, much more committed to fishing than ether Bob or I, so it should be fun. Sure as hell won't be any harmless ribbing if all I'm able to bring in is a puny little rock bass. Pressure is on. Ah well, it's just fun, right? Anyway, if the little bastard gives me too much shit I'll toss his little ass out of the boat. I'll post pictures when we return. Have a great Saturday. Cheers.

First fishing excursion (road trip diary - 4).

Well, the sun came out after about an hour of rain, and bob came home, and we ended up going out and catching a few fish.

We got the gear together and headed down to the river and Bob put the boat in while I drove the truck and trailer up and parked it.

He came back to get me and we were off. This is about the only fishing I get to do, so it's hilarious that as soon as I get back in the boat, it all comes back to me.

Within about 20 minutes I'd nabbed this little rock bass, which was followed to the surface by about a 2 foot cat fish. Freaked us both out, thinkin' that the cat was maybe about to eat the bass, and I could have had a real story to tell.

Cute little scudder, ain't he? I netted one of these about 20 years ago and raised it in an aquarium. Got to be huge, before it up and died on me. Life eh? Always seems to end in death.

Hook was in there deep, but I got it out and the thing swam off to live and make more fishies.

Eventually Bob got one too, in deeper water. We fished for about 4 hours, but then the sky started to look ugly, and we started to hear thunder.

So we decided to make it a day, and get the hell out of the water before the lightning began to draw near.

We got out of the water and back to his place before the rain came down. We got the boat back in the garage, and now we're showering and getting ready to go eat Chinese food and go see a movie. Gonna see the die hard sequel that everyone is raving about.

Tomorrow morning early, like 8am, we'll head out with another buddy and see if we can catch anything in a local lake. Couldn't be having a better time, chillin' out with my buddy, tellin' stories, smokin' Honduran cigars, and letting myself be corrupted by an older, wiser dude. This process will continue when I get back to Tennessee. Love it!

Well shit, I'ts rainin' in Williamsport (road trip diary - 3).

My cousins grass is getting a much needed drink (looks dead as ours in Texas usually looks, this time of year)...

And my car's gettin' a much needed bath, but the fishing adventures may well be hosed. Well, I didn't really come up here to fish. Came to see these folks. We'll figure somethin' out, and maybe go fishin' tomorrow and Sunday. Good times anyway!

Ok, so it's another music post, but this one's been sittin here for a while, and I love this guy. Danny O'Keef...

Much underrated, and mostly unknown. Such injustice. Enjoy these. First one was posted by the dude at this site. I think that's his kid.

Here's the tune most know him for. No video here, but the song is sweet and brilliant.

Road trip diary - Part 2.

Figuring out this lap top. Gotta get me one of these things, but I miss the mouse. Got to the Holiday Inn in Harriman yesterday, and then to Mushy's place, and sat in front of his computer, but just couldn't function. Too worn out after that drive. I'll post something from there next week when I'm visiting again, between hiking and shooting and booze-ups.

I left Killeen at 1:30 Wednesday morning, and the drive during the night was great. Stopped just north of Waco and gassed up at a Wal Mart that always has the cheapest gas around ($2.70 for regular this time). By the time the sun came up, just after about 6:15 AM, was rolling past Texarkana on I-30.

Shit! I just realized all the pictures I saved to this friggin' things desktop have vanished. Probably lost in the void. Well, I had a nice set of shots of the sun coming up over I-30 near Texarkana, and shots of the scenery along the highway as I went along, but now they are probably lost for good. Not in the recycle bin ether. Feel clueless. Shit! I guess I don't really want one of these friggin' things anyway. I'll see what I can do to recover the pictures tomorrow.

Anyway, the trip was long and exhausting, but the excitement of getting to Harriman and seeing my buddy Mushy and his beautiful wife Judy kept me alert and awake. The road all the way to Little Rock was familiar to me, from many a canoe trip to the Ozarks, but the stretch from little Rock on through Memphis and Nashville was new. It was also about the most boring stretch of road (LR to Memphis particularly). Once I got into eastern Tennessee, the scenery started getting much nicer and there were state park signs everywhere. Andy Jackson this-n-that, or Davy Crockett took a dump here, State Historic Park. etc. I was in love!

The history teacher in me always loves these trips back east. Hell, almost everything I talk about in class flashes by me on the highway, but I never have the time to stop and check any of it out. This was even more true today, as I headed north up through Virginia. This time it was Antietam Battlefield, or crossing the James River, or the Potomac, or Stonewall Jackson shatt here, State Park. One of these days...

Anyway, I got myself situated in the hotel and called Mushy, and he came and got me. It was a huge blast to finally meet this guy. He drove up to the front of the hotel in his pickup and jumped out and shook my hand. I told him that I had a little something in the car that I needed to transfer to his vehicle. Didn't want to drive up to my cousin's place with the AK in the trunk. Figured he could play with it while I was in PA fishing with my cousin.

It was bizarre at first to actually be talking in the flesh to this dude that I've grown to love from reading his blog, and from the emails we have shared , particularly in the last few months. There was a little awkwardness at first, but that was soon washed a way as we sat in Ruby Tuesday's, eating dinner, laughing and joking. And you know, of course, we both took pictures. It was wild to have these people that I've been seeing in pictures on my computer for almost a year come alive in front of me.

I'd brought a few gifts from Texas (a few things my squeeze picked up at the Alamo last week, and a few things that I made specially for the two of them), and they were very appreciative. It's always fun to do that, and see the look on peoples faces. It was fun to see the look on his face when I pulled the AKM out of its bag and showed it to him. He'd already taken me down to the basement and showed me his collection. He's got a very nice M-1 Garand, and some cool old western stuff.

Can't wait to get him out and let him shoot that AKM. For about two weeks there, I was thinking seriously about giving it to him. He's been a wonderful and close friend of mine, especially in the last few months, and there's a feeling deep inside me that I'll never really be able to fully repay him. But he's too easy going to acknowledge it, and wouldn't have accepted such a gift. Anyway, after a few weeks I thought to myself "Are you fuckin" crazy?", and I came up with something else. Gave him something more personal that I'd made myself. Figured that would mean more to him anyway.

Well, all that stuff is finished with, and now it's down to having fun and growing closer to this guy for whom I've developed a huge amount of respect, who seems to share at least some of these feelings, and who has become something very much like my big brother. I always wanted one of those as a kid growing up, and now I have two! Bob, my cousin here in Williamsport (my other big brother), is a lot like Mushy, only the Yankee version. Similar age and experience. I'd bet they'd get along fine, and the three of us together would be a tough team to beat.

The plan is for me to sleep in tomorrow, try to ketch up on some blog reading, and then in the afternoon, weather permitting, Bob and I will take his boat out on the Susquehanna and do some fishing. We're supposed to go out Saturday with a friend of ours from our trips to Canada and fish a local lake on that guys boat. Bob's lovely wife Linda is cooking lasagna for us tomorrow, so I should be able to keep this full feeling going throughout the trip. Sunday will be spent looking at the new grand baby

Early Monday morning, I'll make that drive back down to Mushy and Judy's place, and the fun will commence. We'll have three or four days to tire of each other, and then I'll drive home. Man, this trip is gonna beat my ass, bit I'm lovin' every minute of it. Goin' to bed now. We'lll talk later. Cheers.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Well, I made it (road trip diary - part 1).

I got to Mushy's place in Tennessee yesterday in about 14ish hours (1:30am to 3:30pm my time), and to Williamsport today in 10 1/2. never thought I'd ever get out of Virginia. Long tedious two lane thing through beautiful scenery, but at 50 to 60 mph all the way. Torture. Let's just say, many of us were flying low. I'll post pictures in a while, when I get the hang of my cousins lap top. Later. Cheers.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Trust is the issue at hand. A tricky thing; hard to earn, and easily pissed away.

First, from The Cure...

And now, Megadeath...

Love the Cure. One of the best bands from their time in the late 80s. And that particular tune is my favorite thing Megadeath ever did. Not much for the thrash metal stuff, but the guitar and lyrics hit me with this one. Only thing wrong with these clips is that I can't crank them. Sound turned down I guess. That second tune sounds MUCH better cranked in my car, trust me. Hope you liked at least one of these.

Ok, I'm posting this from my classroom Tuesday night as the last stragglers take their finals. I'm gonna have the grades posted and drop slips turned in before I get out of here, and then I'll go home, finish up a few odds and ends, and pack the car. Hope to be in the road by midnight or soon thereafter, and be in Harriman by dinner time. It'll be a 16 or 18 hour drive, or so I'm told. The squeeze isn't happy about it, but what are ya gonna do. Much of her family flew in from England a few weeks ago and just left, and now I'm leaving. The withdrawals are gonna be severe, but the homecoming will be that much sweeter in the end.

Denise and I have hit it off really well in the last month or so. She works for the evaluations department, counseling students enrolled in online classes around the world. Very sharp cookie. British lass, from Bradford, in Yorkshire. Ex army wife with two grown daughters in Kentucky, and has two grandsons. Her English family is hilarious, and we hit it off like crazy. I took them around Salado while Denise was working, and then she took them to San Antonio while I rested and got some work done. I drank and played a lot of pool with her younger brother, who is one year older than me, and a hell of a good pool player. A hell of a nice guy.

She tells me that if I weren't "so bloody great", they wouldn't have had me around. Now they call and ask her "Is Jeff coming over? What's Jeff doing? Is he there?" Feels really great! The last time I hit it off like this with folks was when I went to Pennsylvania the first time to meet my cousin Bob's family in 1995. They treated me just like one of the family, like I'd been there all along. Most of my other cousins down here in Bell County treat me like I have a disease, so it's cool to find another bunch that knows a good thing when they see it.

At one point they were asking me about the time when I lived in England in the late '60s, and I told them there had been a great show called Jackanory that I loved (kids show) and the Thunderbirds, and a guy on TV, a female impersonator, who we'd all loved, but I couldn't remember his name. I did a classic line from the show, and they all chimed up in unison, "Dick Emory!" I then went over to her computer and sure enough, found a slew of clips on YouTube. Here's a taste.

So, who knows where everything will go with Denise from here, but considering what a total looser I was only 5 short weeks ago, I can't complain about anything and keep a strait face. We're having a great time, learning to trust one another and get along, and enjoying one anothers company tremendously. Christ, she can't keep her hands off me, and I'm loving it.

Anyway, after I have a chance to slap ol' Mushy around a bit Wednesday night (or morning), and get a good nights sleep at the Holiday Inn, I'm driving to Williamsport PA. to spend three days with my cousin Bob and his family. At least two of those days we'll be in a boat, with fishing tackle in hand. Then, early Monday, when they all have to go back to work, I'll drive back down to Harriman and hang with Mushy and his bunch for four days.

Weather permitting, we should do some hiking, shooting, or whatever they want to do. I told them not to make much of a fuss. I'm easily entertained. I'm just looking forward to getting to know this guy a little better. I've been reading and learning to like and respect him for about a year now, since I started blogging, and he's recently been a huge help to me, helping to set me strait of a few things. I owe him a lot, and look forward to the chance to pay him back a little.

I'll drive home to Killeen on the Saturday, and I'll start teaching again on the 6th of August. So, it should be a hell of a time. I'll be beat when I get back, but it should be a fun trip and a wonderful homecoming. Well, It's late, and I need to pack and get the hell out of here. You guys take care. I may post something along the way, but who knows. Have a great two weeks. I know I will. Cheers.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Some country music?

Here's a great one by a guy who must be Buck Owens' bastard son. Love him.

And here's a sweet one. Love this one to death. Miss this old boy a lot.

And another classic. Can't beat this stuff with a stick.

I had a great time over the weekend, hanging out with my girlfriends relatives from Yorkshire. Lots of booze and pool playing and laughter. We hit it off like you wouldn't believe, and now they are headed back down to Austin to begin their flight home. I'll miss them.

I'm giving finals this afternoon. They're taking the exam as I post this. Have to cut this short so I can start grading. My last finals are tomorrow night. I'll have everything graded and grades posted on the web site by midnight, and then I'll set off on a road trip/odessy from here to Harriman TN, where I'll finally get to meet up with a guy who has become a great buddy over the last year. Then, Thursday, I'll drive further north to Williamsport PA and spend 3 days with my cousin and his family. On the drive back I'll stop again in Harriman and we'll see if my buddy and I can hit it off in person the way we have here in the boggosphere. Think it's gonna be a fun time. Plan is to drive home the 4th, and then I'll start teaching again on the 6th. This will be one of those vacations that wear you out so that work seems like a vacation. Can't wait.

I'll post pictures of the weekends fun a little later today, when I'm back on my own PC. See ya later.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Another Friday.

Pooped today. Was draggin' my ass and down in the dumps this mornin' after a long night of fun and early morning with no sleep. Ok, it was a good tired, well earned, and the day has been much better since then. Got wrapped around the axle early on, thinking about good friends and amazing adventures that I'll never get to have. I pissed my youth away being a fool, or a coward, and now I'm paying the price, but that's cool. Hell, I put a buck in the coke machine this afternoon and the stupid thing gave me two Dr Peppers! probably should go buy a lottery ticket.

Takin' dad to eat Chinese later, and then I'll be back here with friends, and the squeeze, and her family of wild-assed Brits, watching our friends play pool and maybe later, working a few more things out. While you're here, be sure and check out this Friday tradition. It's a great set today. Maybe post somethin' later. More pictures of the old man or somethin'. Have a great Friday, and a great weekend. Cheers.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


This is by request again, from that same good friend over across the pond who appreciates good music. Here are two contrasting versions of the same song. Both are golden, and unmatched. Nether singer can be topped. Immortal greatness. The first version is sung by Ella Fitzgerald, from a concert in Berlin in '68. There's a better version of the song on the album Ella in Berlin, which I have...

From a concert taped in about '57 or '58, released in 1960. But this video will have to do.

And now Big Brother and the Holding Company, featuring Janis Joplin, from an appearance in Holland in '68.

Of course, Janis' version speaks more to my generation, and knocks my socks off, but the quiet beauty of Ella's voice is unsurpassed. Apples and oranges. Hope you liked it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My buddy Mushy sent me a thing about our war casualties the other day that got me thinkin'.

The figures looked about like what I've seen elsewhere. It basically showed how small our casualty figures for this war are compared to all the other conflicts we've been in. It claimed that the recent spike in yearly casualties from this war don't amount to much of a real annual increase in casualties, looking at figures from about 1980 to 2003. Those figures show not much of an increase in overall casualties suffered in each year. Bottom line of the email was that we should be concentrating on winning the war rather than how many American lives are being lost in the process, but that the media coverage of the war keeps us from being able to do that.

That's a refrain one hears a lot among supporters of the war, blaming the way the main stream media covers wars for destroying public support for this conflict and the sacrifice necessary to win it. Same refrain we heard in Vietnam. Mushy forwarded this to me, thinking' it might spark something in my mind, and maybe turn into a post, and it has. Hell, I'm always sendin' him nasty shit to fuel his Silverbacks appetite, not to mention keepin' his heart rate up on occasion. I appreciate him returnin' the favor.

I was thinkin' about my buddy Mushy yesterday afternoon in class. Took one of my history classes through the Vietnam war (Mushy's a vet), from the early French years, and the Eisenhower and Kennedy periods, up to '68 and the Tet offensive. It sparked a brief discussion in class, a class sprinkled with soldiers who have all been in Iraq and will probably have to go back soon. We talked briefly about the similarities and differences between the two conflicts. I took my other class, which some of these same soldiers are taking, from Sherman's March in late 1864 to the beginning of Reconstruction in 1866, telling them about the 617,458 or so killed in that war, including about 40 to 50% of the Souths adult male population being killed or wounded. It always amazes them to hear those figures. Casualties like those seem so otherworldly to us now, but they helped shape the country we all grew up in in the 20th century. The thing to realize about this current conflict is, a hell of a lot of guys and gals that would have died in other wars from their wounds don't die in Iraq because of advances in medicine, body armor and protection.

We used to see a lot of people dying from horrible wounds in other conflicts, as well as disease. But now people are flown right to a hospital and get first rate medical attention, and they don't die from those conventional wounds as often. Deaths from disease hardly factor in anymore. Only about 204,000 soldiers died in battle in the Civil War. The rest of the 617, 458 died from disease. The soldiers who are wounded in this war live on and recover, sometimes with horrible bodily injury and brain damage from an IED, but they don't die. Many fewer are dying from getting shot or wounded by shrapnel, but many people do die from being blown up and suffering fatal internal trauma that their body armor can't protect them from.

The number of wounded in this current war so far is something like 30,ooo to 35,ooo, but the number of our killed is only around 3700, after four years of escalating conflict. I tell my students in my history classes that those figures are amazingly small compared to any war we've ever been in (WW2, battle of Iwo Jima - about 40 days of fighting - 6,821 killed and 20,000 total US casualties), Thing is, that really doesn't matter. The way this war is covered in the press, we focus on each individual casualty, see film of his or her mother or kids on TV, and are left wondering if the cause we're fighting for is worth this personal cost. That was never done over any of the men who died at Iwo Jima. There was a certainty about what we were fighting for then, and that is the real difference between then and now.

In WW2 it was a given that the cost was worth it. In Korea, a bit less obvious. In Vietnam, a lot less obvious, and now it's the same. We may have lost the capacity to do what we need to do to win, if it means serious casualties, and if the cause of the fight isn't obviously clearly necessary. It's easy to blame the media for not telling the story, but that isn't their job. Bush has never clearly articulated the reason why we should sacrifice our soldiers to this cause, particularly since the original cause crumbled as we discovered there were no WMDs. Many of us still believe the cause is a just one, but the fact is, if a leader can't articulate to the public the reason why we should fight and die, his opponents will inevitably articulate the reasons why we shouldn't. That is a fact of politics, and if we who supported this war can't successfully communicate the reasons for the fight, then the fight should never have been started.

Thinking about the issue, one realizes the reason why the press was heavily censored in WW2. The press has the power to mold peoples attitudes about the things they see and hear. There is an old adage that says the press can't really tell people what to think, but it does tell people what to think about; slowly molding peoples perceptions by showing them one story after another that creates a picture. Peoples attitudes can, over time, be molded by what they are shown and left thinking about. An image tells a thousand words, right?

So the fact that the press, by it's nature, tends to dramatize the negative and gloss over the positive, will have a huge impact on the publics perception of this or any conflict. Seeing nothing but body bags, or the left over damage from a suicide bomber, says nothing about whether the war should or shouldn't be fought, any more that seeing the bodies of dead American marines floating in the surf at Guadalcanal said that we shouldn't be fighting the Japanese in WW2.

The public was given the reasons for fighting WW2 by a press that was acting like a cheer leader for the FDR administration. Now, since the Vietnam days, the press has taken on this adversarial role, and thinks it has to stay neutral to do it's job. Many proponents of the war see that neutrality as treason. Others point out that the propensity of the media to concentrate on the violence (If it bleeds, it leads), prevents positive stories from being told. Well, that's all true, but again, it's not the medias job to keep the public in a positive mood about the war.

Maybe if we had another nation attack us, and not a bunch of crazy, nationless rag heads, people would be able to get their mind around the need for bloodshed, as they did immediately after 9-11 when we went into Afghanistan. Maybe then the public would be willing to do the hard things to win, but I doubt it. I think we're too spoiled now and don't want to pay any real price to win. Helps explain why we can't seem to fix any of the real problems we have as a nation. Our political process has evolved into one in which everyone expects to get something for nothing, and different groups are pitted against one another rather than brought together.

Anyway, this is drifting into something else, and I'll save that for later. Going back to work. Have to finish rehashin' these wars and stuff so I can get this semester finished and jet out of here. Road trip drama is approaching. More on that later too. Cheers.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Holy Friggin'... you know.

Sittin' here at work, between exams, surfin LiveLeak for the first time in a while, and this is the first thing I click on.

And he picks the DOG? Look, I worked a lot of midnight shifts, and I was NEVER this bored. Lord above!

Holy crap, that's Phil Collins on drums!

Ya gotta love some Royals who dig Sabbath. Bodes well for the future of the institution, I think.

And speaking of Royals, have some Queen... And a little Sabbath and Metallica thrown in for good measure.

Too damn bad about Freddie. Miss him. James did a good job though, and Tony's always reliably excellent. Was that a killer guitar duo or what? Hope you liked them.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Went shootin' today.

Took my new Enfield and another rifle up to my buddy's place near Gatesville. Took the lead sled and laser sight thingy to see if it would work. Had mixed results.

That's the laser thingy stickin' out of the barrel. The sled allows me to see if the gun can shoot strait, and not if I can, if you know what I mean. I'm really not much of a marksman. Too much moving around and shit to be able to hold the rifle on the center of the target for long. I didn't grow up with guns, as my buddy here did, and just really started learning how to relax and calm down with a rifle in my hands. I need to shoot much more and get better. Schedule doesn't really lend itself to a lot of plinking though.

Nice group from the bench (target is tacked on the board upside down, and we're roughly 50 yards away). The one wild shot up on the left was the first bench shot, while I was figuring out how to align the thing. First time I ever used it. The rifle shot very smoothly. Love it.

My buddy David is a much better shot than I am. Been shooting all his life. I let him take the first three off hand shots. He'd be a much better judge of the accuracy of the thing.

If you click on this and look close, you'll see that his second and third shots, below and left of the X, were almost in the same holes. Not bad. We tried to get the bolt out of the rifle, so that we could align the target through the barrel from the sled, but we couldn't figure out how to get it off. I'll work on that and try again next time.

Then Dave pulled out his 1917 Springfield, with the same action as my WW2 Enfield, but shooting .30-06 rather than .303. It was a nice shooter. Original leather sling, I think.

Old Red kept her distance as we were blasting away, especially when I busted out the Kalashnikov. I tried to use the sled to sight it in too, with mixed results. Shot pretty well from the sled, but again, when I shoved the clip in it and shot from a standing pose, with the sling around my arm, it looked like I was using a 12 gage.

Check out the middle and right side targets. Hell, these things are supposed to be used on full auto to spray lead, not take out individual targets, so I don't get too upset. Just figure it's my fault, not being steady enough. Love to shoot them anyway. I figure the pattern is tight enough to ether take the bastards out or scare the piss out of them, one way or the other. I'll get better in time.

It was hot. Africa hot. I was sweatin' like a pig out there. It's not as hot as it would normally be at this time of the year, thank God, but the humidity is ridiculous. It rained here again last night, about an inch and a half. Not enough to stop us from being able to get out to the back 40 to shoot, but my back yard turned into a swamp again.

All this rain has turned David's pasture into an African savanna. Driving out there through weeds and scrub, Brush Weed as tall or taller than the cab of the truck, was a hilarious experience. Normally its dry and dying by now, and everyone is in a panic over possible grass fires. I don't think you could get a good grass fire goin' these days.

Before we quit, Dave broke out his old Soviet SKS. Much more accurate shooter than the Kalashnikov, but also not half as cool to shoot, for me anyway. He gives me advise on the Enfield, and other older rifles, and I give him info on this old Soviet stuff. These are my babies. Love the hell out of them.

After driving back to his house, we went to town to eat some Mexican food and check out a new gun store. Turned out not to be much of a draw. They had a few nice pistols though, and their prices were reasonable. I'm seriously thinking about picking up a new pistol before I hit the road on this upcoming trip in a few weeks. Mom has my Makarov, for home protection, and I don't want to leave her hangin'. I guess I could give her a short course on the AKM, but I don't think she'd go for that.

Anyway, hope you liked the pics. Drivin' up to Ft. Worth Sunday to pick up a GPS unit from a buddy, so I'll know where the hell I am when I do this road trip in a few. Have a great weekend, or the rest of it. Cheers.

Man, I LOVE this show.

There's an amazing show on the History Channel called Dogfights. The most amazing computer animation, making you think you're really seeing these planes fly. Here's an example from one episode. God, I love the fact that these guys are getting this recognition on TV. They're passing away so fast now. Huge heroes.

I think my favorite shows so far are the ones showing F-4s in Vietnam. Pilots like Robin Olds were my heroes growing up, being an air force brat. Love them still. Olds started his career as a fighter pilot in WW2 in a P-38, and ended the Vietnam War as a Jet ace in a Phantom. What a fuckin' stud! Total class act.

Last nights show was all about Japanese Kamikaze pilots going against our Navy ships off the coast of Okinawa and German fighter pilots who rammed our bombers in desperation to save their nations from the just wages of sin. Didn't work for them. They'll probably repeat the show some time, so look for it. I recommend it highly!

On another note. I went to Salado and got a haircut yesterday. My cousin Peggy is a sweetie.

She married my cousin Mike 2 kids and 3 or 4 grand kids ago. Best thing that ever happened to him. Has a beauty parlor in Salado. Professional. Costs a bit more, but she makes me look GOOD! Fight her every time about her insistence on trimming the eyebrows. I'm dyin' to have those Leonid Brezhnev, big bushy things. She's not havin' it though. In the end, she spruces me up, trims the beard a bit, and always finds those long hairs that I never see, that stick right out of my ear or forehead. Don't know what the hell those are all about, but she gets 'em, every time.

Took dad to eat Chinese food last night, as per usual. This time I took the good camera, so you'd get to see the unfuzzy versions of things.

Yep, even more of the generals chicken, shrimp fried rice, and an egg roll. I know, why don't I try something else every once and a while? Well, I know what I like, and the dish is a little different at every restaurant I go to. This place is the best, hands down, and their egg rolls are wonderful. I know what I like, and so does dad.

We both have the same thing every time, and we love the hell out of it. His thing is the fried shrimp dipped in red sauce. I've tried to get him to try a few other things along with the shrimp, but he's not interested. He told me on the way over that his doctor told him to stop eating fried food because it's not good for his heart. I asked him "Did you tell him to go fuck himself?" I mean, what is the use in living as long as he has (84 going on 85) if you can't enjoy what you want one day a week?

Played with the camera and finally figured out how to turn the flash off. That way I could take pictures without having the whole place turn around and stare at the weirdo with the camera.

Afterwards, we went back to the folks place in Temple, checked the mail box along the way and handed the mail off to the lady of the house when we got there.

Still had the flash off, and the pictures came out pretty cool. Decided to get shots of the main part of the house, and see how they'd come out.

Love their place. It's like a museum of all our travels around the world. Antiques from here and there, brass and bed warmers from England, and art work done by my grandmother. The brass rubbing on the right was done by my mom when we lived in England in the late '60s.

Pictures of my sister and I, and our cousins, grandparents and great grandparents abound. When my mom walked into his house in '93 she fell madly in love with this front window. If I had the money, I'd have it redone in beautiful stained glass, at least those big center panels. I think it would be cool.

Lots of windows in the back as well, looking out on the English style garden my mom has nurtured for 14 years.

Lots of beautiful stuff out there, and a few cats that keep guard on it all.

I grew up doing the chores in gardens like this, so I picked up a few skills and tricks along the way, but I find it's hard to make myself spend the amount of time it takes to maintain it for long. Maybe I lived in apartments too long, where someone else does all the work of keeping the place going. Have all sorts of Ideas, but not the time, money, or energy to get it going. Of course, once you do the work to get it going, it's not that hard to maintain

Anyway, I hope your weekend is fun, and you have good friends to enjoy it with. Cheers.