Adventures of a Modern Day, Middle-Aged Hero, on the Glory Road(to family security)


New toy!

Well, after complaining about how bad some things suck at my new job, it's only fair to talk about things that are nice at my job. 

Each year, the company budget has some 'moral' money built into it.  This money goes to pay for the company picnic, and trinket's for the employee's.  Typically, this trinket has been in the form of back-packs, shirts, hat's and/or jacket's with the companies name on them.  This year, one of our fresher faces to the company(not me, I can't claim to be that brilliant) asked 'Instead of buying everyone a back-pack, a hat and jacket that are going to end up in their closet, why don't we buy something useful.  For almost the same price as all that stuff, I have a buddy that can get us SureFire Flashlights.'

A little bit of research was done, some numbers crunched, and an amazing miracle happened...we were approved to place a bulk order for Surefire G2ZX CombatLights.  The lights came in early this week, and we got to hand them out to folks today.  They went over MUCH better than 'just another hat/shirt/jacket....and it also created some serious jealousy.  My group was the last group in the company to spend their 'moral' funds...which means 75% of the rest of the company had already acquired their hats/shirts/bags/jackets....things that were most certainly NOT Surefire G2ZX Combatlights.

I brought mine home tonight for a little bit of research.  I LOVE my Fenix LD20....most especially because it eats AA Batteries instead of CR123's.  Fenix says their LD20 throws 180 lumens, while Surefire says the G2ZX is rated at 200 Lumens.  From non-scientific testing, the SureFire is about 50% brighter, and has a much larger area of maximum illumination, and goes right to it's brightest(only setting)  The Fenix though, has a few different settings, and can strobe and do S.O.S.(because that is important.

End result?  Well...it's one kick-ass free flashlight.  For 'tactical' uses, the SureFire is the BOMB.  For 90% of the rest of the things you need a flashlight for...I'll probably stick with the Fenix. 

Double Shifts are LAME.

As I approach the 1-year point at my new job, I am still trying to decide if I like it better than my last job...it has good points, and bad points.  One thing I have not trouble putting into the 'not like' category is the way that overtime is handled at my new job.  I've bitched about it before, and I doubtless will again. 

At my old job, overtime was addressed one week at a time.  Weekends were handled separately, but for during the week OT, if your current project was on OT, you were going to be working OT, and it was handled on scheduled 10 or 12's.  Not having done things any differently, I complained mightily that the Shipyard's way of doing things was Jacked-Up.  Oh, how wrong I was.

At Hanford, OT is handled on a daily basis.  Notifications go out anywhere between 10am and 3:30pm, and, for the Union Personnel a mad dash then ensues to fill all the requested slots.  For us exempt staff personnel, we get to decide if a job is complex enough to require management oversight.  If it is, about 50% of the time, someone will volunteer...occasionally though, it does turn into an arm-wrestling tournament to see who is sticking around.  It's not even this 'free-for-all' style chaos that annoys me...it's that the OT is worked as double shifts.  I am too darn old to work from 6:45 in the morning until 11:30 at night..  ICK! 

Of course, I wouldn't be complaining about this right now if yesterday hadn't been my turn in the barrel. 

Getting home at 11:55 and having to be back in at 6:45 the next morning leaves me precious little time for internet surfing, which is why you fine folks have been stuck with my review of an OKAY 1980's movie as my sole contribution to society for the last 36 hours....


The Final Countdown

While trying to figure out what to watch during our Sunday evening snuggling on the couch, I had an overwhelming burst of nostalgia...Netflix recently added the movie The Final Countdown!  For those of you who didn't have HBO back in the early-to-mid 1980's, you might not have seen The Final Countdown...set in Modern Times(which for this movie is 1980), The Final Countdown stars Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, and The Guy that plays the head Cuban in Red Dawn and involves the USS Nimitz getting sucked back through a 'time portal' to December 6th, 1941. 

That's right...F-14's vs. Mitsubishi Zero's...who can resist that?  I couldn't when I was 12(I must have watched that movie 35-40 times on HBO) and I found I couldn't resist it now.  It didn't take much convincing for my wife to be willing to give it a try(have I mentioned how amazing she is?).

Sometimes, when you haven't seen a movie in a long, long time, it doesn't quiet measure up to the movie that is in your mind.  The Final Countdown does a pretty good job of living up to the what was in my memory...slightly less action-packed that I remember..there is only 1 real scene where you get to see just how awesome it would be to have a Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier on your side at the beginning of WWII(and they never even mention that as a strategic asset, Nimitz would have had nukes on board).  The other thing that caused a mental flinch out of me was the dungarees the guys were wearing, and THEIR BEARDS.  Talk about a flashback...

SWMBO thought the movie was okay, but that it could have used a bunch more stuff blowing up, as in the whole Japanese fleet.  She was much more impressed with how young Martin Sheen looked, and how much he sounded like Charlie.  She kept waiting for him to talk about 'winning', and offering to use 'tiger blood' to fight the Japanese. 

If somehow you have never previously seen this movie, and you have Netflix, it's worth and hour and a half of your time...


A new headboard!

As a guy, I really shouldn't be excited about something like a headboard for a bed, or how a bedroom is even decorated, but because my wife is The World's Most Amazing Woman, she finds a way to keep things fun and interesting in the bedroom.  Yes, go ahead and snicker.

Looks nice and homey, yes? I appreciate the fact that my wife has latched on to that color scheme...I like the browns and blues.  However, there is more to this 'headboard' than meets the eye...
Our 'headboard' is in fact a double stack of 5 gallon buckets!  One of the big problems with having the 'prepper' mindset while being stuck in an apartment is space.  Dry goods(and wet as we are finding with the wife's canning experiments) take up a lot of square footage.  God bless my wife for coming up with this idea.  I sleep better at night knowing that right beneath my head there is extra oatmeal, flour, sugar, rice and beans to help us through a dry spell...maybe not a years worth, but with what we have other places around the apartment, several month's worth. 

One parent get it right!

After readings yesterdays story, about the parents that denied a child water for 5 days, until the child eventually died of dehydration related complications, I needed something a little less horrible.  This is story is just that...a little less horrible.  It still involves bad things happening to children, but at least in this case, one of the adults involved did the right thing.

Kingston man charged with assaulting girlfriend's two toddlers

First, let's lay the cast of characters out on the table.  First, we have our unidentified mother of 2 children, ages 1 and 3.  Then we have our unidentified father of the 1-year old, who noticed that things didn't seem right and actually DID something about it.  Finally we have Joseph Fillingham, the mothers live-in boyfriend who is the one accused of the assault/abuse in this case.

As noted in the article, the biological father of the 1-year old is the one that finally had seen enough sketchy things, and acted on it...a pattern of unusual bruising, a need for stitches, and burn's on the 3-year old's hand.  He called CPS, who told him to bring both children to the emergency room.  He did, and the system seems to have worked from there. Good for you, unidentified father of the 1-year old...I wished they gave your name so I could give you mad props.

As for the mother...I hate to draw conclusions sometimes, but let's look at things.  The story only calls the whistle-blower the father of the 1-year old, and it never calls the abuser anything but the 'boyfriend'.  We can then assume mom has two children from different men, and is now living with a third guy in a 3-4 year period.  Mom's attitude was boys will be boys, and that they were 'clumsy and wrestled each other'....but now that you mention it, 'she also noticed the injuries seemed to occur while she was at work and her boyfriend cared for them.'

Shame on you ma'am.  How long was she going to let this go before she did anything?  Even if she hadn't SEEN anything, she had to suspect...too worried about keeping her claws in another man to be a mother.  She should be lucky the article didn't use her name...

As for Joseph Fillingham, what's to say?  He is scum, and his legal punishment will not be enough. 

The only real positive is at least he didn't kill one of them yet.  The article says nothing about broken bones, or shaken baby syndrome, so I hope the children are able to make a full recovery. 


New Nominee for Worst Parents in the World.

Gonna need to give my daughters a hug and kiss both before and after typing this one up.  This one didn't even mess with a slow burn...it skyrocketed me right up to full on rage.  It has me ready to drive to Dallas and dispense some of that Texas Style justice that unfortunately doesn't really exist. 

Boy who died of dehydration was punished for wetting bed 

Holy Crap.  

When bed wetting is still going on at age 10, it a sign of something mentally or physically wrong...it needs medical treatment, not withholding all fluids for 5 days. 

There was a time when I was highly worried that my children weren't going to figure out not wetting the bed.  In an effort to minimize the chances of them having to tinkle overnight, we did restrict what they got to drink...we told them nothing new to drink after 7pm.  Even THAT took a lot of willpower.  When blue eyes and curls tells you they are thirsty 'please wink, wink' it's tough to say no.  That was an hour!  

I'm not sure I have the willpower to allow someone I HATE to die of thirst(although, I'd be willing to give it a try for these two chuckle heads.) let alone my own child.  

 The worst part is these two horrible, horrible people are going to get off with some kind of 'manslaughter' or 'accidental death' charge...and they shouldn't.  Withholding water from someone in the middle of a Texas summer is a premeditated act...What did they think was going to happen????!?!?!?!?!?

Rest in Peace Jonathan...



It's a start...

One of the things SWMBO and I kept talking about wanting to do now that we live in an area with much more agriculture than we moved from is getting into canning.  We had talked about doing it when we lived in Belfair, but kept coming up with excuses about why we should wait until next year.  Even after moving here, I have continued to make excuses: Not enough storage space for the canner, a good pressure canner(like the All American Brand) is WAY expensive, not enough pantry space for the finished product, and, well, 'It's too Hard! '

Finally, back in Mid-July, my wife had had enough of excuses.  The trigger for her happened while she was spending some time at my mom's house.  Unknown to either my wife or my mom, there was a cherry plum tree located behind my mom's apartment complex.  They discovered this because one day some strange walked by, climbed the little hill to behind my moms apartment, and pulled a few fruits off the tree.  SWMBO did some research, and found out that the little cherry plums make a pretty good jam, so she decided to jump in with both feet.  She ran down to the store, and bought some jars, lids, rings, and a 'Start Canning Kit', which had a stockpot, a rack, and assorted other torture devices.  When she came back from my mom's she had 10 half-pints of cherry plum jam.  I was a little leery at first, but when the kids didn't die after a week of eating it, I tried some...and it was better than Okay...much more flavor than what comes out of the grape jelly jar in the refrigerator.

Since then, she has done a little more canning...we aren't talking OMG Canning Parties...we are talking 4 or 5 jars of something when she finds it on sale, working on recipes and technique.  This last week, she went to a U-Pick Peach Orchard with the girls, and because they weren't paying attention to how much they were grabbing, they actually came home with 30 pounds of peaches.  Yesterday, she cordoned off the kitchen, and went to work.

She isn't fast, but they sure look pretty.  So far, she has only gone through about 10 pounds worth of the peaches.  In back are peach/strawberry jam.  In the middle are Honey Spiced Peaches, and then up front are a few jars of Apple Jelly she made just because she had three half-pint jars empty and ready to use.

I'm very proud of her....she has put her mind to it, and started cranking out a very viable product.  It's not her fault we live in an apartment and don't grow any of our own fruits or veggies, so we can hardly be considered 'self-sufficient.  Still, making a couple of jars of whatever she gets on sale once or twice a week IS nice, and is much better than a stick in the eye.

I know I am looking forward to trying one of those jars of Honey Spiced Peaches come about November...

Some things are lower than others...

I'm not a perfect angel...occasionally I do break some laws...I speed, I don't signal turns.  At my previous job, I may have occasionally used the internet for non-work related activities...that kind of thing, but on an overall scale, I certainly think of myself as one of the Good Guys.

When it comes to the bad guys, I think we can all agree that some bad guys are worse than others...I mean, it's why we have different sentencing requirements for different crimes.  There are also different sorts of bad....you can have Heinous Crimes(murder, and my recent rant about rape show's where I fall on those), and then you can have just plain Low Crimes.  Low as in Shame on You. 

Stealing is bad, but where you steal should have a much bigger effect on your punishment....and if not your punishment, than I hope it ends up on your karma.  Robbing big screen T.V.s and high end electronics from a neighborhood of McMansions?  You have broken the law...go to jail, don't do it again.

What Low?  Break into a cemetery and steal 400 Brass Vases from grave markers, or today's example that trigger this whole rant: act as Treasurer for a non-profit charity, in this case The Ronald McDonald House, and embezzle $112,000 over a three year period to fund your gambling habit. 

Really...you are gonna steal money from a charity that tries to make things easier for folks as they attempt to cope with medical treatments for their often terminally ill children?


If convicted, Randall Morrison, could face up to 20 years in jail.  Yeah right, for this dollar amount, he MIGHT do 6-12 months.  But, this is where our courts are messed up.  Wouldn't the right thing to do be to sentence him to work in a children leukemia ward for about 3 years?  Let him see how these families live when their child is fading?  THAT'S WHO HE WAS STEALING FROM!!!!!  A few months in jail working on college courses and working out is NOT adequate punishment for lives he may have made tougher.

Heck, it's not even adequate punishment for the way he has ruined my Saturday morning thinking about it.


Pain Trains Coming, Baby!

So, as the Talking Heads on the Idiot Box argue over whether we are headed for another recession, and what unemployment numbers really mean, one thing I haven't heard talked about is the pending expiration of the American Recovery Act(Stimulus Act) funding.

It might not be news on the national stage, but it's on every one's mind out at the Hanford Site. 

We have three main contractors at the site...two of them have different clean-up areas of responsibility, and the 3rd one, that I work for, is responsible for feeding recovered liquid waste to the Glass Vitrification Plant when it goes on line.  All three contractors received stimulus money.  The two clean-up contractors used that money to hire a lot of people to speed up cleanup, to hit contract time bonuses.  My contractor did a little bit of hiring, but instead put a lot of the money into infrastructure upgrades, since it is the only contractor on site that really has a 'future'(clean-up work really starts hitting some milestones in the next year, and can expect its workload to go nothing but down).

End result is that the clean-up contractors always knew they were letting a statistically significant number of people go October 1st....mine was hoping to keep all it's new hires, as 'The Plan' involved our long-term budget going up permanently by the same amount it spiked under the Stimulus Plan.  The economies failure to bounce back has call that funding into question, and so earlier this week, my company announced a 'Restructuring Plan'.

Numbers for the union folks have already been released, but while exempt staff numbers still need some finagling, site-wide losses are expected to be in the range of 2,500 jobs....close to a 25% reduction.

Personally, I don't know if I need to be worried.  My boss, who went out of his way to recruit me a year ago, tells me I have nothing to worry about.  While the union handles lay-offs strictly off seniority, exempt staff losses are decided by management.  My boss worked two 15 hour days this week, sequestered in a room with his peers, while the basically engaged in horse trading and ranking of people at my level...when the numbers for management are released, they will draw a line, and people below the line will go away on October 13th.

I refuse to believe that the Hanford site is the only one where this type of activity is happening.  I'm very curious to see what kind of unemployment rate spike we might see in October when Stimulus Babies all across the country are shown the door...

Then write better laws!!!!!!

Back in the spring, as a way to raise extra money, the Washington State Legislature voted to create the Discover Pass.  It was billed a way to fund parks and public lands, that would work more efficiently than a pay box at each park.  For $35(well, $30, but a 5 dollar dealer fee, you know) you would have unlimited access to State Parks, and it would raise much cash for the State.  Yay!

The actual implementation of the Discover Pass has been a little more shocking.  Instead of applying to State Parks, it apply's to all land managed by the State of Washington...so, State Parks, Water Access Points(public docks and boat ramps), Heritage Points, trail heads, and 7 Million acres of wilderness. 

Historically, when you bought your hunting or fishing license, you received a Vehicle Use Permit, and that cleared you for running around on state land, because we know part of your fishing/hunting license goes to land conservation.  If you planned ahead this year, and bought your licenses prior to July 1st, when the Discover Pass went active, then you are lucky, you are grandfathered in until March of 2012.  If you didn't plan ahead, then you get to pay for the Discover Pass. 

Many hunters and fishers aren't happy about this.  They also aren't happy that the Discover Pass is not transferable between vehicles.  In some portions of the state, the only roads that lead to some people's house cut through state forest land, so those folks are required to have a Discover Pass for each vehicle, which they think 'is silly'.  Many state legislators, 49 of them in fact, agree, and 2 weeks ago they sent a letter to the heads of the States Public Land Management Organizations. 

The letter, signed by the very folks that passed the law REQUIRING the Discover Pass, basically asks for the enforcement arms of the different agencies to not enforce the 'non-transferable' portion of the law.

Or, put another way, they have essentially said: We passed a poorly worded law that we didn't think through all the way...PLEASE bail us out by not enforcing the lame parts of a lame law that we passed.'

The article I linked too has two quotes from lawmakers who signed the bill that fired me up.

Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, who said it was "certainly my intent" that the Discover Pass be transferable between vehicles.
The Discover Pass website (discoverpass.wa.gov) says the pass is not transferable -- and that, said state Sen. Christine Rolfes, was not the intent of the legislation's authors. "I would like to see transferability," said Rolfes, who spearheaded the Aug. 12 follow-up letter to the agency directors. "There was one version (of the bill) that allowed transferability, and the final version left transferability open. The real debate happened on the first draft that passed through, and I think it was intentionally left vague'

I'm so fricking tired of seeing interviews with lawmakers, AT ALL LEVELS who say 'well, that isn't really what we meant' or, 'the final bill changed just a bit'...STOP SIGNING STUFF WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT IT MEANS!!!!!!!!!!   and then BEGGING state agencies to not enforce the bad parts of what you wrote. 

He pointed a gun at me!

If you decide that you are going to call the police to report that someone pointed a gun at you, you might want to first make sure that there aren't witnesses who say 'Yeah, he pointed a gun at you because you were attempting to ROB us!'

Story courtesy of the Kitsap Sun:

Man who called police about gun pulling goes to jail for burglary

It might eventually turn into a he said/they said type situation, but for now, it looks like the chuckle head is going to get to spend a few nights in jail.  In the end, I doubt he will get a lot more punishment than that, even if he does deserve.  Domestic Violence type situations, with all the finger pointing and trying to figure out who is telling the truth is one reason I could never be a good police officer. I have zero patience for stupidity, and this sounds stupid.  I would have rapped all three of them in the head with my asp, and told them to play nice.  
The ex-boyfriend probably could have saved himself a night in jail if he had brought his own witness(assuming his story about just 'going by to get his stuff' has any truth at all(which I doubt)
One thing I learned from observing more than one divorce/separation during my time in the Navy was when it comes time to move out, or divvy stuff up, never do it alone.  Always have a few witness's on each side...and if you can afford it, bring your lawyer along.  CYA so it doesn't come down to some poor beat cop trying to sort things out at 9:30 at night when everyone's testosterone is already up...


A Wild and crazy time!

This evening, I am taking my amazing wife to the Benton/Franklin fair in Kennewick, where we will watch the country singer formerly identified as Kenny Rodgers.  Poor Kenny made an unfortunate decision a few years ago in regards to some plastic surgery...but so far all reports are it didn't effect his singing voice.

I grew up listening to Kenny Rodgers, so I am somewhat excited to go see him tonight.  He is entering that  stage of his career where you can't be 100% sure that he is going to pass by your way again, which is kind of the same reason I went and saw Neil Diamond a few years ago(although, I'm a MUCH bigger Neil fan than a Kenny fan). 

As long as he does Coward of the County, everything else will be A-Okay.

All the cool kids are doing it!

 So, since both Tam and Jay did this, I figure it's perfectly acceptable to jump on the Cool Kids bandwagon, and see how my sci-fi cred measures up.  The list is courtesy of NPR, and the ones in Bold are the ones I have read. 

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien (meh)
2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams (1st three rock, could have done without the next two).
3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card (rocked)
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell (must read)
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury(see 1984)
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov (classic hard sci-fi)
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley (regret not reading it)
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (ashamed to admit this)
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell (very neat story)
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore (the movie isn't THAT bad)
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov (better, and shorter than The Foundation Trilogy)
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein (uhm...it's Heinlein)
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley (not a bad book)
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick (different(and not as exciting) as Blade Runner)
22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood (on my list)
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King (Doesn't seem fair to put this on the list as a series, but the kept they are consistent with that policy.)
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King (kick ass...ties with Lucifer's Hammer for best TEOTWAWKI)
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury (semi-strange)
28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein (READ IT!!!!!!)
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams (read it after the movie made me sad)
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein (THE Heinlein book to introduce people to Heinlein)
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells (ashamed on both 35 and 36)
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne (a classic)
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks (what a horrible dry spell there...Ringworld is the only one on my want to get to list)
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle (great book...up with The Foundation as a Hard Sci-Fi story)
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (DEPRESSING...stay away unless you have a clown to cheer you up)
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson (the movies are not bad...the book is better)
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore (neat stories, but on this list?)
74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire (want to)
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan (my wife did...she says it shouldn't be on this list)
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle (BEST TEOTWAWKI novel)
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony (Incarnations of Immortality is better)
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis  

Wow...only 28...that's a serious hit on my geek cred.  I had a hard time moving past the classics(Jules Verne, Bradbury, Matheson, Asimov and Heinlein) and have not read a lot of stuff from the 80's and 90's.

I really think the list could use some work.  In my opinion, I have read like 50 of the Top 100 Sci-Fi books...they just didn't put the other 22 of them on their list....I mean, there are only 3 Heinlein books on there...


Too bad she didn't aim lower...

Woman stabs man who tried to rape her

 Courtesy of KOMO News 4, out of Seattle, and good for her for fighting back.  I only wish she had finished the job. 

Whether it's because I'm a father of two girls, or someone who just always respected women...rape seems to me to be a particularly heinous crime, and I would not pout at all if it was judged to be a capital crime.  I hope as my daughter age, that they will at a minimum choose to carry a small, open assisted knife in their pocket.  I would rather risk them falling victim of a public schools 'Zero Tolerance Policy' for having a Kershaw Chive in their pocket(like mommy has) than having them fall victim to a desecration of their body and soul.  


How do I not hear about these things?

Sometimes, certain headlines just kind of catch your attention, which I guess is the point.  Take this one for instance:

Penis amputee says he wanted to flee after news

 Now...this is a fairly upsetting story.  Poor guy goes thinking he just has a little rash or something, and a belated circumcision will clear things up, and he wakes up later that day, being told they had to remove and inch or two of his nearest and dearest. 

This would be traumatic enough if my wife was there and she told me she had to make the decision to save my life.  Finding out that the doctor made the decision on his own?  Yeah...I would probably sue also, even if  another doctor later confirmed things and finished the removal.

At my job(where were are only working on nuclear things, not important stuff like sex organs) we constantly stress that if conditions in the field don't match what you briefed, you stop and back out to re-brief with a new plan. This doctor should have attended a few of my briefs.  It doesn't sound like this guys life was in immediate danger..by not either waking the patient up, OR asking his wife who while uninterested, WAS sitting in the waiting room, the doctor brought this upon himself.

More important than any of that though, is that this all happened back in 2007. What was going on in 2007 that THIS failed to make national news, and this is the first I'm hearing about it?  Stupid war in Afghanistan and Iraq...


I just don't get it.

Serial rapist gets max sentence of 46 years 

Story in the Yakima Herald today that caught my attention.  Once upon a time, this guy was sentenced to 60 years for his part in the rape and murder of two women back in 1987.  Due to a ruling(and for the life of me, I can't find what the ruling was(stupid internet)) his original sentence was overturned.  Today, he was finally re-sentenced to 46 year in prison, which even with time served, will put him into his 80's before he is released. 

Let's forget for a minute how much of the courts time and the taxpayers money was wasted going from a 60-year sentence to a 46-year sentence...what I want to focus on instead is that we even feel the need to GIVE 60 year(or 46 year) sentences. 

One of the things will probably come back to haunt me should I ever decide to run for public office is my opinion that there should be no court sentence greater than 20 years.  Anything greater than 20-years, in my own humble opinion, should be treated as equal to a life sentence...and any life sentence should in fact be a death sentence. 

As a taxpayer I am highly offended that my tax money is going to go to keeping this guy alive in jail another 35+ years.  I would much rather my tax money get spent in a pursuit of a capital conviction, than keeping this providing food and medical care for this jackass until someone finally shanks him in the shower. 

But still, if I ever am convicted of a crime, there isn't a court system I would rather be caught up in that ours...which I guess is kind of the point of it. 

Gonna be a good day...

Since being motivated and showing up at work a little early didn't work so well yesterday(I'm sure I can blame the flat tire on being motivated) I decided to kill my extra time this morning at home, watching motivational videos.

High Enough, by Damn Yankees(and an Uncle Ted fix!)(linked because too much Ted is impossible to embed).

And then, the long symphonic version of November Rain. 


Things to remember next time I buy a used car...

I actually woke up halfway motivated this morning, and made it to work even earlier than normal(okay, it's not that I am motivated, but with our basic cable package, I can't watch Robin Meade, so I may as well go to work).

I had been sitting at my desk, moving pieces of paper from one pile to another for about 15 minutes, when my cell phone rang.  It was my boss, and he asked how long I intended to let my truck sit on the rim out in the parking lot.  My day hadn't even officially started. and I had a flat tire on my truck.

Last week, Commander Zero had a post, bragging about his new 60"  Hi-Lift X-Treme Jack.  Man, would I have killed for one of those today.  The truth is, I would have killed for ANY jack, because when I flipped up the rear seat of my truck to look for a the screw-type jack that comes with the truck...IT WASN'T THERE!!!!!!!!

Holy Sheep Shit Bat-Man!

I've been driving around for over a year in some occasionally off the beaten path places, WITHOUT A JACK!?!?!?!?  Hell, just this last weekend, I had my wife and kids up in the Blue Mountains outside of Dayton, Washington.  We were a good 16 mile walk from the nearest town, and although we both had cell phones, and we saw like 4 other cars, I'm not sure that my wife would have let me live it down for a quite a while if I had gotten a flat on that rocky road and we had had to spend the night in the truck because I didn't have a jack...

Luckily, the lesson was learned in a pain free manner.  My work truck is also a quality Ford Built machine, so I 'borrowed' the jack from it to fix my truck.  All told, it was a good hour long evolution...those screw-type jacks are still a major pain in the ass.  I picked one hell of a day to wear a white shirt to work. 

It was also a good(but expensive) excuse to get out of work early.  I had already told SWMBO that I felt I was going to need new tires prior to the winter, and preferably prior to hunting season, so, off to Les Schwab I went to get some new Toyo A/T tires.  I would have loved to get something even more manly looking, but felt that these particular tires give me the best combination of normal ride, while also letting me handle normal rutted back roads, without totally wiping out my gas mileage.  Besides, if I go too much taller, SWMBO will insist on running boards for easier entry and exit...and then I will lose my excuse for 'accidentally' placing my hand on her bottom while helping her into the truck...

So, I'm not sure I'll be able to pick up a Hi-Lift this weekend, but at the very least I'm going to invest in decent looking hydraulic bottle jack...although The Commander does a good job of selling the Hi-Lift based on everything else it can do...


Harry Potter

Last night, I went out with my wife to see the last movie in the Harry Potter series, and I must confess, I was slightly underwhelmed. 

Let me start by saying that I really enjoyed the Harry Potter series of books, unlike some other people I feel I know, who weren't blown away by the books.  Rather, I can say I really enjoyed the last half of the series.  I didn't startreading  until book 4 was already out, which was a big help, because without my wife telling me that they books did get better, I might not have kept reading.  Luckily, she didn't lie to me.  The books did get better(and by better I mean darker and more interesting to a mature reader) and by the end of book 4 I was hooked.

The movies were always entertaining, but like movies based of most books, I found them 'lacking', but I still kept giving Hollywood my money.  I don't blame them for having to leave out some of the many supplemental story lines that can pop up in a 500 page book...I blame them for changing stuff that doesn't need changing...it's messing up the way I had visualized things that pisses me off...and I felt the last movie was the worst about it.

Despite just saying that I am okay with leaving some of the minor things out of the movies, I feel they went too far with the Deathly Hallow's(Part 1 and 2).  They had all the action, but they left out a major part of the books emotional resolution by not having Harry doubt, and then forgive, Dumbledore.  In the last book, as Harry begins to learn about Hallows and Horcruxe's, he also begins to learn about all of Dumbledore's past...some of it quite shady....but they never quiet went into that in Part 1, meaning they didn't get to resolve it in Part 2, which lead to both the scene with Dumbledore's Brother, and the King's Cross Station scene lacking some of it's emotional punch...which was strike 1.

Also lacking in emotional punch was Snape's memories.  They had all the facts, and data there, but there was not nearly enough of Snape's internal dialogue with the memories...especially the end, when Dumbledore ask's Snape to kill him, to protect Malfoy's soul.  In the book, Snape reacts violently here, asking 'And my soul Dumbledore? Mine?'...and he has a similar emotional response when he finds out Dumbledore was keeping Harry alive just to die at the right time...again, a minor thing, but it greatly reduced the sympathy you feel for Snape, compared to the book.

Finally, there are two action scenes in the book that just didn't measure up in the movie.  The first is when Neville Longbottom becomes the Hero...pulling the sword from the stone(or the hat) and chopping off Nagini's head.  In the book, it happens at almost the lowest part on the battle.  Voldemort and the baddies are torturing Neville, and he manages to break free, and strike of the snakes head all in one smooth motion, kicking off the final resistance, all while Harry pretends to be dead.  The movie drags this out...Neville still gets to be the Hero, but he's not nearly as cool while doing so.

And then...and then there was the scene everyone wanted to see, when Mrs. Weasly comes to the rescue, and squares off against Bellatrix Lestrange.  They get her line right 'NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH'...but the circumstances are all wrong.  In the book, Molly bursts through the chaos, as Bellatrix is dueling against Hermione, Luna, and Ginny, and their duel is slightly more drawn out with insults as well as curses thrown back and forth.  In the movie...it's just more...meh.  'Lacking' is the word that keeps going through my mind. 

Oh well...guess I can start looking forward to The Hunger Game's movies now...

Food, Glorious Food

Both of my children appear to be going through growth spurts right now, and have developed what is for them hollow legs.  One of the unexpected blessings involved with having daughters instead of sons, is lower food bills.  A friend of mine has two boys who are each one years older than my girls, and while they are not even teenagers yet, they are eating him out of house and home.

Yesterday morning, they were sitting at the breakfast table, getting ready to gnaw their own legs off while daddy messed with getting the scramble eggs 'just so'.  When I finally placed the plates down in front of them, our younger one launches into the 'Food, Glorious Food' refrain from 'Oliver'.  It's a fairly common melody, but I was still impressed that my daughter had managed to pick up a piece of culture like that without me needing to force it down her throat.

After breakfast, I called her over to the computer so I could show her the full version of the song from the 1968 movie version of 'Oliver'.

She was unimpressed.  'Daddy...that song is waaaaayyyyy better in Ice Age.'

Bella was there to back her up...'Yes, daddy...vultures sing that song in Ice Age 2, and it's much more funny'.

So much for culture...but turn about is fair play, and I then sat down to watch their preferred version, and they are right...the one from Ice Age 2 IS much more entertaining.


Be gentle...it's my first time...

Today I did something I have never done before...I donated money to a political candidate.  In honor of his 72nd Birthday, Dr. Paul is having a money bomb, and as much I talk about him being the best hope for stopping the bleeding, I have yet to do anything other than talk. 

Even today, it's not like I did a lot...the website said stuff purchased from the store counts towards their donation total, so I bought a few t-shirts, and a beer cozy.  I wish I could do more financially, but as someone who just had to turn down a low-ball offer to sell my house because I couldn't cover the check at closing, I really can't fling cash around right now. 

I also signed up as a volunteer.  We'll see if they can make use of me.  Pounding in signs and posters should be right up my alley.  I figure if I do my cute young kids up in Ron Paul livery, there are worse forms of advertising....

So close to a perfect day...

The plan for Friday involved getting out of town for the day....packing a picnic lunch, going through Walla Walla(a town my wife had never been to, and I had only driven by) on the way to Dayton.  We would eat our lunch in Dayton, then hit a few little shops before heading up into the Blue Mountains for an afternoon of driving and some light hiking, before heading back into Dayton for dinner at Skye Book and Brew, and make it home in time to lay the kids down for dinner. 

The day went almost perfectly as planned.  Instead of driving around Walla Walla, we stopped for potty breaks.  It's about an hour from our place, and there are a few neat little museums that SWMBO is going to bring the girls to for home schooling field trips.  It also has a very cute downtown area with a HUGE number of shops, and wine tasting rooms.  If I wasn't already dieing for a walk in the woods, we might not have driven past Walla Walla...but, my wife knew I wanted to get in the woods for a bit.

Dayton was nice...had our picnic lunch in the park...Maureen got to chase a few of these little thumb sized frogs around the gazebo...they were pretty cute.  SWMBO got to walk around a yarn shop alone, while I braved a few stores of knick-knacks, and a bakery with the girls.  Shopping done, we headed up into the hills.

We did more driving than walking...because even though I have been a dad for over 9 years, I sometimes forget my kids limitations.  My wife says I have a tendency to idealize things, and then pout when they don't work out perfect.  Anyway, I did get to walk around for about an hour with my .357 on my hip for bear protection...and it's somewhat legit...the wild raspberries are ripening, and the black bears dig that stuff.

Dinner was tasty.  I have eaten at Skye Book and Brew 4 times now, and all 4 times I've had their Reuben Sandwich.  It's that good.  Today, I washed it down with a Johny Mac's Scottish Ale, and then washed that down a Tucannon Honey Wheat.  In a nod to the predicted weather the next few days, I had my growler filled with the Honey Wheat....I thought it would be the easier beer to drink when I get home Monday and it's 95 outside.

The ONLY discordant note to the day was the phone call we got from our real estate agent.  After much bitching, moaning and praying(my wife handles that part) we had an offer on the house!!!!!!  Yay!!!!!

The offer is for $12,000 LESS than we are asking. Boo.   If it was $12,000 less than our original acting price, that wouldn't be an issue...but we have dropped the price from our original asking price of $189,000 to $172,000.  At $172,000, we are having to write a sizable check at closing(think base model MSRP on a Mazda 3).  We will get 95% of it reimbursed due to my employers generous relocation assistance.  Today's offer of $160,000 means we would have needed to come up with an additional $12,000 at closing...and that money just doesn't exist.  I think to help me get out of this house, my parents could come up with a few thousand extra, but not 12K extra.  It's not even a matter of not wanting to take that big a loss...I just can't commit to being able to cover that check at closing. 

We countered at $168,000, and really can't go any lower...so far there has been now response to our counter...if they say yes, we will still end up LOSING $4,000.  Been in the place 7 years, and I am going to end up losing $4,000 on it...glad the economy is shaping up.

I wonder if I can get the escrow company to let me post-date the check...that way maybe I can get my reimbursed relocation assistance before they deposit the check...


zOMG climate change!

So, as Rick Perry get's to live through his major bit of nationwide media scrutiny for daring to question that global warming, climate change The Sky is Falling! is actually happening, those jokers at The Weather Channel come out with this feature:

Zero For Ninety in 2011

It seems that here in the Pacific Northwest, we are doing all we can to back up Mr. Perry.  Portland, Oregon, which usually 13.5 days where the temperature breaks 90, has had exactly ZERO days over 90 this year.  In the inland Northwest, Spokane usually has 17 days over 90, and has had only 4 this year.

More local to my place, according to an unscientific pole of locals, the Tri-Cities are in south-east Washington usually sees 15-250 days a year over 100 degrees, and this year, we have yet to break The Century Mark.

But...that's weather, not climate, because the scientists tell us so. 


Snake ownership: 10-Day review.

Having finally gotten a snake for a pet, something I have dreamed of for over 2 Decades, one must sit back ask oneself...has it been everything you hoped it would be? 

Ehhhh...kind of.

First off...it's a snake.  It really doesn't do much...I mean, you can't play catch with it or anything(although I'm not sure it's any less intelligent than some of my friends dogs)....but I knew that.  In an effort to let her get adjusted, I have only handled her three times in that 10 day period...once when we put her in the cage, once when we cleaned her tank out 100% on Sunday, and then again last night.  Last night was the first time I held her just for that purpose, and let her kind of slither over the girls a bit while I supported her weight. 

Personality wise(if you can call it a personality) she is an amazingly docile snake...not so much as a his any of the times she's been handled, although she did flinch a bit yesterday and tighten around my wrist when Maureen kind of lunged at her. 

She likes hiding in her tank, buried under the aspen bark, which is a bit of a bummer...such a pretty snake, and she doesn't do a lot of posing. 

Care and maintenance are a breeze.  We fed her last Wednesday, 2 days after getting her.  I noticed she was spending a lot of time with her head up, looking around, which I took to be 'hunting' behavior.  I took a frozen mouse out of the freezer, and ran it under a trickle of water in the sink for a while, finally letting it sit in some 100 degree water once it was thawed, trying to raise it to the right temperature for a mouse.  When it felt warm enough, I took the lid of the tank, which got her attention, and used a pair of tongs to lower the mouse in by it's tail.  A few seconds of shaking, and it was all over.  She close to about 4 inches away, then WHAM!  She grabbed it them ducked back into her log to do the dirty work. 

She rested a lot the next few days, until about half an hour after I cleaned the tank on Sunday, at which point she was active exploring the tank, and then all the sudden there was a mouse size turd in the tank.  Cleanup was easy with some toilet paper.  One mouse in, one mouse sized poop out 4 days later, and she should be ready to eat again here in the next day or two...I'll probably try during the day Saturday.  Really, thawing the mouse out is the worst part.  I may even start naming the mice to increase my enjoyment...

I'm glad that the kids are fascinated by her...every time I have had her out of the tank, they have wanted to touch her, which is cool.  There will be no animal related squeamishness in this household, unless it's daddy flipping out about spiders...

A Contractor Worth Hiring.

Talk about a full-service contractor…yesterday in Tacoma, at about 11AM, a contractor pulls in front of his clients house.  He notices a suspicious looking minivan in the drive way, with some items from the house(TV and some weapons) stacked beside the car.  The contractor then calls his client to ask if anyone was supposed to be moving stuff out of the house. 
When the homeowner told him that nope, no one was supposed to be moving stuff out of the house, the contractor then called the police. 
In the meantime, the ‘suspected burglar’ walks out of the house, and seeing that the contractor has blocked him in, tries to run through the contractor’s truck with his minivan.  The contractor, a licensed concealed weapons permit holder, responded to the by drawing his firearm, and opening fire on the suspected robber.  This had a desirable effect…the robber abandoned his vehicle and fled the site on foot, where he was late detained by a police officer. 
No real negative aspect to the story.  Standard boilerplate about how the Pierce County Prosecutors Office will decide whether to press charges against the contractor, but I don’t see much this guy did wrong.  Maybe you can criticize him for initially blocking the guy in, but, it sounds like he did that when he first showed up at the scene, before even knew what was going on.  As far as responding to a car ramming with his firearm, right on…I have seen several times where police consider vehicular assault to be a deadly weapon.  A double-good on to him for not pursuing the suspect guns blazing, once he decided to flee the scene…it’s hard to make the correct decisions sometimes once you get your blood up.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t give the contractors name yet, so I can’t give him a personal two-thumb’s up, but when they do release his name, I’ll be sure to give him some good press…


A positive firearms story!

Courtesy of the Kitsap Sun, a story about a trio of teenage Japanese exchange students getting to go have fun at the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club. 

The story is pretty well, written, and does a good job of stressing that things were done safely with these first time shooters.  They were given instruction prior to shooting, and a club member stood with each of them as they shot.  They started with .22's(from the pictures, it looks like a Ruger with a red-dot) and worked their way up to more interesting things like Glock 17's. 

Seeing a positive article about firearms and shooting is always a plus...even if the Kitsap Sun is not quite the Seattle times.  The story even goes as far as to point out that shooting is a 'unique American part of our culture', and compares it favorably to riding horses, visiting Seattle, and Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens. 

I can't imagine getting to go shooting, and knowing that I was not going to get to go again...I'm glad they enjoyed their opportunity, and hopefully they can go back to Japan and spread the word about what fun it was.  Tough to only have one day to make memories that need to last a lifetime. 


The Associated Press broke a story yesterday about some bad ju-ju that happened on the U.S.S Memphis back in November.  It seems our sad story begins when one of the subs junior officers was caught with the answer key to an exam in his e-mail.  Much digging and with-hunting ensued, with the end result being the C.O. was relieved inside 2 weeks, and another 13 crew members were punished to one extant or another, with 10 of them being kicked off the boat.  While the investigation found the C.O. was not aware of the 'cheating' he HAD 'fostered an environment that failed to uphold the expected standards of integrity.'

Those words are the death knell for Commander Charles Maher, Captain of the Memphis.

The A.P. article goes on to quote several former submarine officers as saying that this type of 'cheating' on exams is much more widespread than just one submarine, and is a result of pressure from C.O's to have amazing exam scores to separate themselves from the herd. 

Well, as I'm fond of saying, the truth can usually be found somewhere in the middle. 

Speaking hypothetically as a former submariner, let's start out by clarifying that there are exam's, there are EXam's, and then there are EXAM'S.

As an ELT(Engineering Laboratory Technician) back in the day, I attended 4 hours of continual training each week...one for M-Div Training, one for RL-Div Training, one for Engineering Department Training, and one for EOOW/EWS Training.  Each one of these training categories had a monthly exam associated with it, ranging between 10-12 questions each.

It was not unusual to these exams handed out be being stuffed into folks in boxes, so they could be taken while you were on watch.  Topics were what had been covered in that months training, and these exams were usually monitored in a casual manner, at best.  You know, hypothetically speaking.  Grading was taken semi-seriously, with much regrading done to ensure that the average test score came in close to 85% with a 10% failure rate, since those were Squadron's Guide Lines.  Hypothetically.

Your next category were qualification EXam's.  Watch-Station qualification is a multi-step process.  You stand some Under Instruction Watches, you perform some tasks, you simulate some tasks, and you discuss some tasks.  Then, you have a written EXam, and finally, you will have your board/interviews.  In this qualification process, the EXam is a formality.  Depending on the watch-station, it could be upwards of 50 questions long, and take several hours.  Again, it was not usually monitored closely, and was a nice open book review to get you ready for you interviews/boards.

For watch-standers, qualification boards were the real thing...for something like Engineering Watch Supervisor, you were standing at the dry-erase board in front of the CO, Engineer, a few junior officers, and then 2 or 3 of the Engineering Department Chiefs.  Much knowledge was displayed at these boards, and people did not make it through them by accident.  One of the things I agree with in the AP articles is the repeated statement that the submarines were never at risk because of this 'cheating'.

Finally, you have EXAM'S.  This category includes ratings exams(for promotions) and ORSE(Operational Reactor Safeguards) Written Exam.  Ratings EXAMS are taken very seriously.  If the ship is in port, then they are taken monitored by senior people in actual classrooms and such, with the individual ships not having much wiggle room to mess with them. 

The ORSE EXAM is also taken seriously.  Essentially, ORSE is the process by which the Naval Reactors organization tests the ships to ensure it safe to let the crew have the keys to operate the reactors for another year.  The ORSE Team brings a written EXAM with them.  They give the ships training department the questions, and you then have 12 hours to create and answer key, and you answer key better come out looking like the one the ORSE team brings with them.  The nukes on the boat are then sat down and given this EXAM in very controlled circumstances.  Hypothetically(well, and reality on my boat...ORSE is serious stuff)

So, this story broke initially because a junior officer was found with an exam key in his e-mail.  That's a step beyond any hypothetical exam assistance I might have seen.  Even though some of our exams may have been taken a little more casually and open-bookish than was intended, answer keys, even for the all lower-case exams, were kept controlled.  To people not familiar with the process, it might look like I am arguing shades of grey, but I'm really trying to justify why I have not hypothetical problems sleeping at night. 

In short, if this guy had just one of the regular monthly exam keys, it's not too far out of the box.  A key for a watch-station he was trying to qualify would be worse, and if somehow you got your hands on the ORSE exam key, then things are broke.  Either way, chances of the C.O. knowing something was afoot are very slim...it's not the kind of detail a CO usually lets himself get bogged down with, but they are responsible whether they know about something or not.

I'm sure when the fleet got word about this back in November, there were a lot of CO's who MADE themselves a lot more knowledgeable about how exams of all types were being handeled on their boats. 


Penciling in the date...

When I got home from work today, my wife asked me if I might be interested in going to zomBcon, being held over in Seattle.  Since it was the first I had heard of it, I figured I had better take a look at the website before committing.

It looks kind of interesting, but I can only pencil it in right now because the weekend it is scheduled is the 2nd weekend of deer season.  If I do my job and get a deer early in the season, it could be an enjoyable weekend with my wife in Seattle, in between the opening weekend of deer season, and the start of elk season. 

My main reservations about going come from two extremes....either thinking I'm a huge geek for going, or finding out that I am not nearly a big enough geek to enjoy myself. 

IN the end, the deciding factor might be the high aesthetic appeal Rose McGowan...kind of had a crush on her ever since 'Scream'...very curious to see what she looks like in real life...


Heck, just add some violin and flute...

Earlier, Brigid posted a video Metallica doing Nothing Else Matters, with the San Francisco Orchestra, a version of the song I had not previously heard.  I thought it was quiet good, but, I have to admit, I'm not the biggest Metallica fan.  I will not argue they aren't a good band or anything like that...I just never would have put them in my top 5...I think they are just that slightest bit too hard for me to fully enjoy.  I'm more the Areosmith, AC/DC and Kiss level rock...which, brings me to my favorite mash-up of Rock and Roll and Symphony genres.

In 2003, Kiss recorded a new live album/DVD with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Kiss Symphony: Alive IV.  This version of Detroit Rock City is from that concert:

Oh really, I didn't know THAT was in there...

Back in May, I ranted about the Washington State Legislature...in an effort to reduce the Washington State budget, they were reducing the salary of all state employees 3%.  Well, not really all...union represented ferry workers, state troopers, and higher education employees weren't effected, oh, and neither were the members of the Legislature themselves. 

I can kind of understand the union exemptions...it's been fairly common in this time of salary increase freezes/reductions to leave the unions alone.  If you have agreed to a contract, you need to live up to that contract...the lawmakers not touching their own salaries was explained away because there is an independent citizen led 'salary commission' that determines their salaries.  

Sometime in June, some members of the Legislature got cute, and added a Section 2 to the Salary Reduction bill.  Section 2 ordered the Office of Financial Management to create a form by which elected state officials could voluntarily offer to have their salaries reduced, starting July 1st.  

Cool.  As of August 6th, 12 of the 147 elected officials in the state had put in the paperwork to do so.  For the bold 8% that have done so...congratulations.  The list includes Governor Gregiore, the Lieutenant Governor, and several congressmen and senators, who have sacrificed between 3-5% of their salaries.  Attorney General Rob McKenna(running for Governor) has not elected to have his pay cut, instead saying he will donate his percentage to charity.  I hope he follows through.

More elected officials are signing up every day...and for me, the fly in the ointment of this feel good story is this:

Many lawmakers also said they hadn’t waived their pay sooner because they didn’t know about bill language that created a pay waiver form at www.salaries.wa.gov
You know...if they aren't embarrassed to admit that...they should be.  I'm SOOOOOOOOOOOO  freaking tired of hearing lawmakers ADMIT!!! that they didn't know something was in a bill when they voted on it.  What poopy-kaka.  If you were to concur in a 4 page report at work, and your boss sat down and read it and found a paragraph of vulgarity in the middle of it, do you think he would accept the answer 'oh, I didn't know that was in there'....

You can't tell me ANY member of the Legislature read the whole Health Care bill before voting for it...it took me 2 weeks to read The Stand...and that was enjoyable!  Same thing with the last minute panic budget bill....did any of them actually get a chance to read the bill, or 6 months from now are they going to show up to take my guns away because of a two sentence rider in the middle of legislation that no one read prior to it being voted on.  

I would love to see something passed that requires a bill to be available in it's final form for 24 hours prior to being voted...at ANY level. 

2nd Place is first loser...

Yesterday 'The First Major Test of the 2012 Presidential Campaign' was held in Ames, Iowa.  We know it was the 'First Major Test of the 2012 Presidential Campaign', because a somewhat distance 3rd place finish has already caused former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty to cancel his Presidential Campaign. 

But on the other hand, Steve Clemons, writing for The Atlantic wants us to think that the Iowa straw pole doesn't matter, because Iowans have made themselves 'irrelevant in the hard political choice department' because 'no one in the top 5 had any real chance of leading a 2012 GOP ticket'. 

Because, you know those poor, podunk farmers earthly, hardworking, full of common sense folks in Iowa are out of touch with reality...as opposed the fine folks in New Jersey and California, who will actually decide who the nominee's are, but couldn't tell you what end of the cow the egg comes out of.

As usual, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. 

I don't care much for Michelle Bachman...but I would love to see Dr. Paul get an equal share of broadcast time in the news media.  Every few days, I talk to someone new who has taken the time to actually read what Dr. Paul has to say, instead of saying 'isn't that the gold standard guy' they keep making of fun of on the news?  But the numbers aren't increasing fast enough.

I'm not saying Dr. Paul is a perfect candidate.  He is old enough now that he would be a 1 term option.  I also don't agree 100% with his platform...his opinion on abortion and mine are different, and I am a bit more a hawk than the Dr.  His big problem though, is that he has plans and ideas to fix things.

That's a major problem, because at this point in the game, you aren't supposed to have plans and ideas with actual DETAILS...the media wants sound bites.  NBC isn't going to take the time to run a news clip with actual DETAILS....but 'We need to go back to the gold standard'...well, they can squeeze that in around their Tea Party bashing. 

In the end, the GOP nominee will probably be either Romney or the newly announced Perry.  Blah....boring.  Because the 'same old, same old' has been working so well.  My real hope is that Dr. Paul continues to pole well enough that one of the candidates whom the Main Stream Media allows to be nominated is attracted to him.

I think Romney or Perry could do much worse for themselves than announcing a few weeks before the Republican Convention that if they are nominated, Dr. Paul will be their running mate, and that they will allow him to focus on fixing the budget as V.P., so they can guide the ship of state through foreign affairs and other domestic issues. 


Les Sigh.

While looking for something to rant and rage against on the Seattle Times website, I instead found the review for the 'updated' 25th Anniversary Edition of Les Miserables which is currently playing at the 5th Avenue Theater. 


One of the big reservation's I had accepting this job last year was moving away from the cultural opportunities a city like Seattle provides.  Well, not all the culture...mostly musicals.  My not inconsiderable sensitive side LOVES big musicals...and they don't come any bigger than Les Mis.  I place it at the top, with Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon rounding out the top 3.  Many Old-time Broadway fans would take issue with that list, but I am product of my time..give me big flash and glamor.

Les Miserables has it all...romance, heart-break, hero's, sacrifice, and some comedy, and some very fine songs.   I have already seen Les Miserables three times, one of those with my wife.  Wild horse could not have kept me from seeing it a 4th time. 

It was not unusual for my wife and I to take in a musical every 6-9 months in Seattle.  The World's Greatest Nana living in the vicinity made for a nice romantic night off from parenthood.  The Tri-cities lack's both the convenience of the World's Greatest Nana, and two nice theaters like The Paramount and the 5th Avenue in Seattle to attract these type of shows. 

Don't get me wrong...the Tri-cities area is not The Middle of Nowhere.  Taken as a whole population center, The Tri-cities have a population of over 250,000, ranking 4th behind Seattle, Tacoma and Spokane in Washington.  We do have cultural experiences... but instead of 2 or 3 week runs, 'Cats' came to town in April(for one show), and we get Mannheim Steam Roller for one night in December, at the same place they play minor league hockey and Roller Derby. 

I am certain that if I plan ahead, The World's Greatest Nana would love to have her grandchildren for a long weekend, and if mom and dad disappear to Seattle for a night in the middle, so much easier for her to spoil the kids...and that is only a 4 hour drive.  I however, feel lame going to 'visit' my mom for a weekend, and then bailing to go out and party with my wife.

Oh well...if my yearning for a quality night of dinner at one of Seattle's nicer restaurants and musical theater gets to much to handle, the option of slowing down to 20 MPH and kicking the kids out at my moms is an option.

This is from the 10th Anniversary Concert, because I like this one just a little bit better than than the version from the 25th Anniversary Concert. I have watched/heard this song AT least 1000 times, and I still get goosebumps each additional time I listen to it.


'I taught her that!'

Yesterday, my wife and I were having a little conversation, and Maureen, our youngest walked up and handed us two 'ticket's to a tea party'.  The interesting fact is that both tickets had our names on them...well, not our names, but 'mom' and 'dad. 

It was the first time either my wife or I could remember where she had written something entirely on her own without tracing or copying an already written word.  It's not like she is early, or late on this...more to the point was my wife's reaction.  Other than some pre-school/day care between ages 3 and 4, all of Maureen's learning has been homeschooling.  This hit my wife harder than anything else.  There was a tear in her eye, as she even whispered to me 'I taught her that.'

Yes you did honey, and I'm very proud and happy. 

I was not always 100% behind the homeschooling thing.  I had some doubts about my wife's ability to pull it off...not a question of intelligence, or ability, but more of discipline...that she could dig in and be stubborn and push our older daughter to learn something that she didn't want to learn.  So far though...I'm very pleased.  The more that I read about our public schools, with class sizes growing every day, and more furloughs and half-days being added, I am very thankful that my wife is interested in making the sacrifice that home-schooling represents. 

If roles had somehow become reversed, and she was able to make enough nursing that I didn't need to work...I'm not sure I could pull off being the teacher.  I don't mind guest hosting a class, or holding court while we go on 'field trips' to museum's and such, but, every day teach the boring stuff like math and dangling participles?  Nope. 


It's here!

My signed copy of Monster Hunter Alpha showed up in the mail today, and it's WAY more entertaining than anything going on in the real world.  Kind of looking forward to the post action reports from the debate tonight in Iowa...really curious to see Ron Paul is mentioned before the last paragraph...

Now THAT is a hardline stance...

As we approach election season, one of the local radio stations was interviewing candidates for Kennewick City Council.  How exciting can that be?

Well, when one of the candidates for mayor stated that illegal aliens should be 'shot at the border'...well, that's gonna get you some attention, and make things a wee bit more exciting. 

He also goes on to describe illegal immigration as rape.

"Rape of our city and rape of our country is something that should be dealt with by the highest penalty" 
Wow.  But don't worry...he's not totally out-to-lunch...he would give the illegal aliens a month to get out of town, although  "They would be lucky to have that,".

I'm not a big fan of illegal immigration, and I DO think it reflects poorly upon security, but I'm not sure I'm behind shooting that at the border...for a first offense.

This is also a very surprising position to take in Kennewick.  I don't want to draw racial connections, but, agriculture kind of ties with Hanford as the engine that drives the Tri-Cities area. 

I'm very interest to see how Loren Nichols does in the elections this fall. 


It's all your fault...

With the stock market doing it's roller coaster ride, it's become very 'cool' to blame it on the Tea Party...but, I found at least two editorial cartoons that can combat that much better than I can. 

The first is by Mr. Chuck Asay.

The 2nd is by Nate Beeler, of The Washington Examiner. 

Picture being worth 1000 words and all that, these fine folks saved you a bunch of reading you didn't want to do anyways...


I've got nothing.

Came home from work to find a tasty dinner already waiting for me(pasta salad, BBQ Chicken, and corn on the cob).  After dinner, SWMBO, the girls and I went for a walk, and then let the girls play at a playground for a while.  It's been a pleasant evening, and I am not complaining, but between the active healthy home life, and running around like a one legged man in an ass kicking contest at work, I haven't had much time to form an opinion about much of anything.  Stock markets down, gold is up...Barry's still blaming it all on the trouble he inherited.  He's got a valid point, but he hasn't done much to help himself out.

Now I'm just going to sit here and watch the snake play around in it's tank, which is neat, but is occasionally slightly more boring than watching paint dry.

SWMBO is at the table, clipping coupons.  She went to the dollar store today, and was able to pick up two Sunday papers(now two days old) for over 50% off, with the idea being that the news may be old, but the coupons are still good.

God Bless her...

Getting a little dusty in here...

A friend of mine posted a link to the following story on his facebook page...blame him for starting your day out weepy. 

Together 74 years, Kirkland couple die less than a day apart

 Damn...like my friend said, it's either the happiest sad story, or the saddest happy story you'll ever read

 Something similar, if not quite as dramatic happened with my paternal grandparents.  My Pop-pop was still working at age 67, laying carpet.  One day, he fell trying to hop over a roll of carpet, and broke his hip pretty bad.  He was recovering okay, until my Nana had a stroke.  It was pretty bad...didn't kill her, but pretty much turned her off, and destroyed whatever drive he had to get better.  A shirt time later, he had a heart attack, and died, and about two months after that, she was gone.  Total time was less than 9 months...fairly shocking...but...can you blame them?

I love my wife dearly.  We have been married 10 years, and I can not imagine life without her.  I did not get married for X-number of years...I got married to spend the rest of our lives together.  If we have 50, 60, 70 or even 74 years together like this couple had...I can't imagine one of us wanting to go on without the other. 

The final part, about mixing their ashes together is the kicker...something I need to talk to SWMBO..see if she can stand me being around that long...


New member of the family.

When I was a teenage boy, I had a dream.

Okay, that's not clear...as a teenage boy, I had lot's of dreams, some of them WAY to disturbing to talk about in polite company.

This particular dream revolved around a pet...I wanted a snake.  Nothing over the top...I wasn't wanting any kind of a boa or a python...I was hoping for a corn snake, or at the most, a king snake. 

Never happened.  My parents were pretty against it, and it's one of the few things they didn't waver on.  I eventually got a rifle for hunting, but there was no snake.  When I was 15 or so, my mom gave in on what was for her a pretty major compromise, and I was allowed to get a leopard gecko...but not a snake.

Teenage boys eventually become men, and sometimes are allowed to make decisions for themselves.  Sometimes.  For me being in the Navy, I never felt settled enough to indulge in a snake, and then, I went and got married, and once again was not allowed to make decisions for myself.

SWMBO did not want a snake.  She also did not want a ferret, which has always been my backup plan.  Instead we had kids.  A room full of snakes and ferret's would have been easier.

I have never really given up, much like I am still a teenage boy inside.  Every time we go to the pet store, I detour by the reptile area. 

Last Thursday, my wife called me at work.  I was in a meeting, and not having a good day...but while it is not unusual to get a text from her at work, a full fledged call is unusual enough that I stepped out of the meeting to take the call. 

SWMBO(sounding cheerful and cute): 'Guess what?'

Me(sounding done with the world): 'Ummmm...really?  Is there something wrong?'

SWMBO: 'Well, one of my friends has a snake.  I think it's a corn snake.  They got it so their kids could watch a snake grow...'

Me(after letting her go on about her friends snake for about 1 minute): 'Ummmm...that sounds really neat for your friend.  Is everything all right?'

SWMBO(cheerful and hoping for a big reaction): 'Well, her kids are kind of bored of it, and she is giving it away, with a 4 foot tank, for free.  I told her we would take it.'

Me(distracted by 17 other things, none of which should have been more important than what my wife had to say): 'Say, that's great.  If nothing's wrong, I'm gonna head back into my meeting'.

Yeah...sometimes I'm an ass.  One of the few things I have had a consistent jonesing for for over 20 years, and when my wife says not only can I finally get one, SHE HAS ALREADY LINED IT UP BECAUSE SHE IS THE WORLD'S COOLEST WOMAN, I don't even say thank you.


Anyway, this evening we went to her friends house, and picked up Gloria.

According to her previous owner, she is about 4 years old, and at least 3.5 feet long.  She eats frozen(well, thawed and thoroughly warmed) mice, and appeared very docile(or at least stunned) when handled.  She is in her cage now, and we will let her settle in another day or so before doing much more handling or feeding.  The girls are very excited(almost too excited) and I have a bet with my wife that the younger one will loose T.V. privileges at least 3 times in the next two months for snake related infractions.  

Yes...I finally also said thank you to my wife...


Hooked her!

Flipping through Netflix the other day, I saw that they had added the mini-series Winds of War, based on the Herman Wouk novel.  I remember watching it when it originally aired on TV back in the 1980's, and since my wife has displayed an enjoyment for sweeping, historic epics, I told her I thought she should give it a chance...she could get a little romance, I could get some WWII action.

I was correct in thinking that she would enjoy it...she has been quite hooked on it since yesterday afternoon, and powering through it at an aggressive pace.  So...I was right, and hooray for me.

Boo for me though, because...I was wrong...Winds of War was not the series I remembered watching back in the 1980's.  The series I remember watching back in the 1980's was War and Remembrance...the SECOND sweeping historical epic based off a Herman Wouk novel. 

Damn.  It's not a huge error...War and Remembrance is available on netflix, but it's only on physical disks still...and SWMBO likes the first series so well that I have already moved War and Remembrance up our queue.  I am looking forward to it...much more war, a young Sharon Stone, as well as upgrading the other female lead from Ali MacGraw to Jane Seymour...it's a win across the board!

Because we're not like other people...

On TV shows and in movies, you always see people asking themselves 'Did I turn off the Oven', or did 'I turn off the Curling Iron'..or 'Did you remember to take out the trash'?

Only a gun owner will get out of bed late Saturday night O'Dark Thirty Sunday morning to make sure that you remembered to turn off your red dot scope when you were done using it...


Range time!

Got up bright and early this morning to go shooting...too bright and early...I thought the range opened at 8, but it doesn't really open until 9.  To kill time, I went and got a 20oz Hazelnut Latte on which I could then blame all my bad shooting.  I had intended to bring 8 guns, but when I got home my CZ-75 was right on the floor where I had left it, all safe in it's blue case.  Oh well...the trip was still worth it.

I'm trying to get better about going more often, and then not having to spend a marathon session each time I go.  For instance today, I only put 4 magazine through the Firestorm .380, and another 4 through my Kel-tec P-3AT...enough to make sure the bullet was still going where it was supposed to.  Shooting with those pistols was done at 10-yards, a fairly realistic distance with the Firestorm, and a hopelessly optimistic distance with the Kel-Tec.  With the Firestorm, I kept all 28 rounds inside a 5.5 inch circle, which I am happy with...the Kel-tec at 10 yards...well, I think I would be better off throwing the gun at that distance...ick.  Somewhere in my future is either a Ruger LCP OR a Lazerlyte Side Mounted Laser for the Kel-tec.  Maybe someday I'll be as popular as Jay G and manufactures will send me stuff to test and review...it's really the only goal I have left to achieve in life. 

For long guns, I brought my Marlin .357, my Rock River AR, with both the carbine upper and the 20-inch bull barrel upper, and my 35 Whelen.  The Whelen got the lightest work out...6 rounds to make sure it was still grouping 3 inches high at 100 yards, and then that I could ring the 300-yard gong at the range.  That stuff expensive, and my stock is getting low...when the house sells, there will be much 35 Whelen and .380 ordered...

My Marlin continues to be the favorite gun I own...and I think it always will be.  Out to 75 yards or so, with the AR, I am able to get off follow-up shots quicker, but with the Marlin my first shot/target acquisition is faster, and I'm more accurate...the gun also feels lighter and 'handier'.

I will settle for this kind of accuracy over iron sights at 80 yards:

If it wasn't for that one low and on the right, you could have covered all 8 holes with a playing card...now, it needs to be a...slightly bigger cars?  Whatever...I'm not a sniper, but  8 rounds of 125gr Golden Saber's will ruin anything's day...

I'm trying to get better.  I hope with more frequent trips to the range, that will happen.  For so long, I was satisfied just to punch a hole in a piece of paper, and anywhere on the paper was good enough.  When you only get to go shooting 2 or 3 times a year, you try not to let something like 'accuracy' get in the way of fun.

Found one unusual thing at the range today.  Had a box of Magtech 125gr .38 Special + P Soft Points, and found this: 

Although it's a bit fuzzy, you can see the round on the right has a little bit of a bullet seating issue.  I only point it out to point it out as something unusual.  I have used a LOT of Magtech ammo in my guns: .38, .357, .380, 9mm and .223, and it's the first time I have found something like that in a box of their ammo...it was actually kind of cute...