Friday, December 31, 2010

Bucket List - Narrowboat

Since it is New Year's Eve, I thought I'd post the first of a few things on my 'bucket list' (things I want to do before I die). It's not at the top of the list. The items on my bucket list don't really have an order.

NARROWBOAT TRIP



England and Wales have canals that were constructed in the 17th, 18th, and first half of the 19th centuries for the transport of commercial goods. Canals often connected navigable sections of different rivers or were constructed to bypass shallow or otherwise unnavigable sections of larger rivers. Prior to canals, the only available transport for goods was via wagons on poorly constructed and maintained roads.

With increased industrialization in the 18th century more factories required transport of both finished goods and raw materials. The great porcelain industry of England relied on the canals, as did the budding steel industry. Fertilizers, grains, wool, coal, livestock, and all manner of consumer goods were moved economically, if not swiftly, by barge.


You can rent narrowboats for a week or two and cruise the canals/aquaducts these days. (LINK


It's not a high speed adventure, but one that I think is worth doing.  You can run from village to village, stop and walk around. I think I'd also rent bicycles to put on the narrowboat to enhance exploration.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Visit

My granddaughter, Alyssa came by today for a visit.
 She brought her purse and her cell phone.

She tried very hard to sit still while Grandpa
took pictures of her with his new camera.

And having sit still for twenty seconds or so,
decided that it was time to get off of the couch.

And go play with a squishy ball.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Climate

h/t Dale

The planet we live on (Third Rock from the Sun) has been "warming" and "cooling" over geologically large periods. This is a cold winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It's a hot summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Does it mean that the planet has 'given up'?

Two sets of data on temperature change have been examined during the last decade. One used changes in tree rings; the other used thermometers. Both showed a rise in temperature until the 1960s, when the thermometers continud to record a rise and the tree rings did not. Scientists abandoned the tree rings data and the now-disclosed faked information indicating that we are on the verge of a global melt-down was spread conspiracy-fashion between some key researchers to forge their agenda.

I don't think that we should abandon conservation. Keeping pressure to use renewable resources and sustainable food supplies is responsible.

But I don't think that Al Gore saved the planet - not just because he's a nut, but because there is a financial agenda driving people like Gore and it has nothing to do with responsibility. Its only goal seems to be to enrich its proponents.



Friday, December 24, 2010

Peace

Finding peace on earth is not an easy task. Finding peace within each human heart is just as difficult. The human condition is defined by suffering of different varieties. However at this sacred time of year, we seek for those illusive qualities: harmony, understanding, cooperation, love, charity and kindness in a way that is humble and sincere.

In that spirit of the search for peace, in the spirit of Christmas, I wish those of you who read this blog (and everyone who doesn't) Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Another Holiday Treat

They are festive, traditional and inedible, just like the real thing:


Inflatable Fruitcakes
Buy it here!


In the years to come, you'll wish you bought one now because they have a 50 year shelf life -- longer if you keep the cheap plastic out of the sun. 


Each vinyl fruitcake comes deflated with a 9-1/2" x 5-1/2" envelope and a decorative sticker, making it easy to send one to all of your friends and family! When inflated, this icon of old-fashioned baked goods is 8-1/2" x 5" x 4-1/2" and makes a great centerpiece for the holiday dinner table.


Why an inflatable Fruitcake?

-Nobody eats them anyway
-Reusable and re-giftable
-Cheaper to mail
-Non-toxic (unlike real fruitcakes)
-Always fresh
-No crumbs

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I failed to deliver...

I promised that I'd do more decorating outside in the yard for Christmas and I didn't do it this year. I have several scapegoats - work in Mexico, focus on writing my next novels (Bloody Mexico and The Black Scorpions) and so forth. BUT, it doesn't excuse me from my holiday promise.

Next year (it's in writing now), I intend (not promise) to create a full on Grinch extravaganza to the extent that I'm able including playing the "You're a Bad Man Mr. Grinch" song on a speaker to entertain those who pass. I'm not a grinch, but I don't like to go with the flow. The only thing in nature that goes with the flow is a dead fish. So after the Season has passed, I will begin to look for green lights to decorate my home in the coming year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A different take on ornaments

Every year I add a few different ornaments. Friends at Disneyland gave me the employee collectable ornaments for years. Here are a few from this year.
This year they have taken on a slightly more patriotic and nationalistic theme.
Protecting the nation since 1947
This is the spy guy and a grandfather clock decorated for the holiday season.

Monday, December 20, 2010

So Cal Lifestyle

There is a joke -- but it's true, so it's not really a joke -- that whenever it rains in Southern California, the place goes into panic mode. The weather is usually near perfect so any deviation from the norm is news and it sets people back into reality mode.

Some guys are being pulled by a car, 
wakeboarding in a flooded section of town.

The water here is about three feet deep.

I live on the side of a hill such that water drains off into places such as the one above (it has to stop somewhere).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I don't own a cat.

I have never owned a cat.

This may be the reason why...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More from NASA

A new NASA mission is in the planning phases:


NASA Scientists Plan To Approach Girl By 2018

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Joy

What do you buy a person in the US, with liberal leanings, for Christmas? May I offer two suggestions?

Buy it HERE (Amazon.com)
The Bill Clinton cork screw is as timeless as Bill is. I suggested to a friend that he draw a picture of Bill Clinton holding an Obama hand puppet as a symbol of the new Executive Leadership in America. The Bill Clinton screw requires that you bring your own blue dress to the party. And if the champagne pops and you get some on you - please take the dress to the dry cleaners promptly.

The Hillary Clinton nutcracker is a must-have for Christmas gift exchanges with your favorite womyn liberal. It's one of those things that brings profound symbolism and helps you crack those tough nuts.


And for those whose gift exchange favors a more conservative bent, there is no finer gift than the gift of sanitation. Think of your favorite president with every wipe!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Season



When I was a little boy, we often spoke German at home. The Christmas Carols (and Georg Friedrich Händel's Messiah) are best to me when sung in German. Call it a cultural thing, harkening back to those days when the world was still full of wonder.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Thoughts on Free Speech

Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred.

Political correctness is the enemy of freedom of speech. What began as a crusade for civility has ended in a situation where one is never quite sure of the politically correct buzzword of the moment. I've found in my brief life that politically correctness seems to hover most closely around pressure groups and political organizing. There are demands and counter-demands by the politically sensitive that have devolved into a situation where almost everyone (irrespective of what their orientation is in the politically correct world) is a racist, a bigot, experiences some degree of Islamophobia, is a sexist, uninformed (stupid) and so forth.

The US Military exists to kill people and break things when Congress or the President (sometimes both) decide that it's time to do that. It's not a tool for social engineering. Don't ask, don't tell (DADT) is poised to make sexual preference an entitlement and "protected class" of people, the same as race, religion, physical disability, etc. Arguments over politically correct language in this regard devolved and soured into arguments over what is “offensive” and, even worse, censorship. 

I discussed World War 2 with my daughters recently and mentioned America's enemy, the Empire of Japan. In discussing a tactical move made by that enemy, I called them, "the Japs". My daughters collectively sucked in their breath and informed me that calling Japanese people "Japs" reached a new low in political insensitivity. I never knew that. Nobody ever told me. I'm glad they never told my father, who was wounded in combat at Okinawa when a kamikazi aircraft, piloted by a "Japanese pilot" (my dad would have said, "a Jap") crashed into the USS Hazelwood and all but sank it.

At times I use insensitive language toward America's enemies - in that I don't take their feelings into account when I discuss them. If they were present, they'd likely try to kill me not because I called them names they didn't like - they'd try to kill me because of my nationality. And this is my point. Political correctness always seems to go in ONE direction and never in both directions. It doesn't create a situation that changes anything - and usually mocks tolerance.



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Don't forget Festivus on Dec 23

With the Holiday Season already upon us, some of you may be forgetting Festivus.  When I send out "Season's Greetings" cards out, they include Festivus, though not explicitly stated in the pre-printed card. The cards are often manufactured by people who are not Festivus believers. The holiday, which is actually more valid than Kwanzaa because it's older, was created by Dan O'Keefe, and introduced to the world by his son, Dan jr., a screenwriter for the Seinfeld Television Show.

Festivus in Afghanistan

The celebration includes an unadorned aluminum pole, the Festivus pole (buy yours HERE). And yes, they are also available in Canada.

Festivus in America

You don't have to light one or more candles, you don't have to give gifts or song songs. Festivus is the time for airing of grievances and feats of strength. So if you're ticked off at a family member, please save it for Festivus. This is that special time where you can tell others in your family the ways in which they have disappointed you over the past year. After grievances are aired and counter-allegations are concluded, there is the Festivus meal - traditionally spaghetti and meat sauce. Once the filling spaghetti meal has concluded comes the time for a display of feats of strength. The head of household is wrestled to the floor and the holiday only ends when said head of household is pinned.

For a complete list of famous Festivus celebrations in popular culture, please scroll down the bottom here (LINK)


eat it!

video

Do you eat watermelon? Do you enjoy it's luscious velvety sweetness? Then try eating it like this.

Friday, December 3, 2010

living in the present means hope



For a friend who is having a rough day.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Who is the Leader of the Club?

Griffin visited with Mickey Mouse today.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Choice of Military Service

This comes to us by way of John Coffey, Navy veteran.

But when you REALLY think about it, why wouldn't people choose the NAVY?

video



###

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sometimes Things Just Happen

video


video

video

Sometimes people are unlucky. Sometimes people don't watch where they're going. Sometimes it just isn't your day.

h/t WoFat

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Holiday

Last Sunday the family gathered for a traditional Thanksgiving so that the various components could have Thanksgiving dinner at their other family unit's homes. It's not the norm, but it works and so it is. I planned to spend Thanksgiving eating a hamburger or something. (Jack-in-the-Box is open)

However, my oldest girl invited me to her home for Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving day -- so I'll feast twice. My wasteline didn't need it, but it will be fun all the same.

My Grandson, Griffin, seemed to have a great time at the Sunday Thanksgiving. I'm sure that he is looking forward to double-dipping. He's a growing boy.

Griffin can say the alphabet and can count to thirteen. He's looking forward to the arrival of his little brother, Cannon, in March. He pats my daughter's tummy and talks to his brother. (very cute)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I don't have a septic tank.

My home is attached to the city sewer system.

And you may be wondering why I mention this at all. There are times when you simply have to wish that a truck like this one (below) was pumping in your neighborhood.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

KOFA National Wildlife Refuge

Saguaro Cactus (background) near Crystal Hill

I spent a couple of days with a friend and his wife driving around the King of Arizona (KOFA) National Wildlife Refuge, located south of I-10 (near Quartzsite, AZ) and east of I-95. Crystal Hill is home to a long vein of quartz that runs up the side of the a couple of hills. I couldn't get a good photo to come out, but we spent some time there looking for specimens.

Little Horn Mountains

There wasn't sufficient time to see it all in the time alloted, so I concentrated on the northern part of the Wildlife Refuge. The animals and birds didn't seem to be much concerned with people. There were a lot of desert quail and I would have taken some photos of them but I didn't have a telephoto lens suitable for the purpose.


Palm Canyon -- yes, there are palm trees here. 
They're up in the canyon. 
I took photos but because of shadow, they didn't turn out.

The mountains are mostly Rhyolite, a volcanic rock that is rich in silica. The eruptions in ancient times also sent gold upward and there are veins of quartz bearing gold. The King of Arizona Mine produced tons of gold. There are still active mining ventures in the area.


KOFA Queen Canyon  The canyon road runs due east from the Palm Canyon Road for about 8.5 miles. The road continues beyond that but was closed. The unscrupulous can keep driving on the closed road around a blood colored butte to De Le Osa well, where there are Desert Big Horn Sheep because there's water and seepage from Tunnel Spring (a mine that struck water).
Overgrown Road

The road is overgrown in many places and it's difficult to determine where the road is/was. This is a photo of my friend, Gary, squeezing through an area I just drove through.


Skull Cave

In KOFA Queen Canyon, there is a cave that one may opine had been used by aboriginal people. The rock containing the cave is dome shaped (like a skull) and the area inside the cave is large enough to shelter several people. The roof of the cave is heavily carboned from fires over the years/ages.  There are not many visitors here.

The Scorpion (famous Toyota FJ Cruiser)




The KOFA Cabin can be used by visitors on a first come - first served basis I am pictured here, wearing my Oathkeeper t-shirt. The cabin is very old, made of stone and the iron window shutters can be opened.  We found the cabin clean and well taken care of, but didn't spend the night there.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday USMC

I was happy to go ashore ahead of the Marines and insure it was safe for them to land on the beach... However, they're a gallant bunch of Devil Dogs and deserve a rousing Happy Birthday (11-10-10).

Sunday, November 7, 2010

From the Manitoba Herald - Shamelessly lifted from Jim McMahon's blog
The flood of American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has intensified in the past week, sparking calls for increased patrols to stop the illegal immigration. The recent actions of the Tea Party are prompting an exodus among left-leaning citizens who fear they'll soon be required to hunt, pray, and to agree with Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck.



Canadian border farmers say it's not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, animal-rights activists and Unitarians crossing their fields at night.

"I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood producer huddled in the barn," said Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota . The producer was cold, exhausted and hungry. He asked me if I could spare a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn't have any, he left before I even got a chance to show him my screenplay, eh?"

In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher fences, but the liberals scaled them. He then installed loudspeakers that blared Rush Limbaugh across the fields. "Not real effective," he said. "The liberals still got through and Rush annoyed the cows so much that they wouldn't give any milk."

Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals near the Canadian border, pack them into Volvo station wagons and drive them across the border where they are simply left to fend for themselves.

"A lot of these people are not prepared for our rugged conditions," an Ontario border patrolman said. "I found one carload without a single bottle of imported drinking water. They did have a nice little Napa Valley cabernet, though."

When liberals are caught, they're sent back across the border, often wailing loudly that they fear retribution from conservatives. Rumors have been circulating about plans being made to build re-education camps where liberals will be forced to drink domestic beer and watch NASCAR races.


In recent days, liberals have turned to ingenious ways of crossing the border. Some have been disguised as senior citizens taking a bus trip to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs. After catching a half- dozen young vegans in powdered wig disguises, Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior-citizens about Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney to prove that they were alive in the 50's. "If they can't identify the accordion player on the Lawrence Welk Show, we become very suspicious about their age," an official said.

Canadian citizens have complained that the illegal immigrants are creating an organic-broccoli shortage and are renting all the Michael Moore movies. "I really feel sorry for American liberals, but the Canadian economy just can't support them," an Ottawa resident said. "How many art-history majors does one country need?"

In an effort to ease tensions between the United States and Canada, Vice President Biden met with the Canadian ambassador and pledged that the administration would take steps to reassure liberals. A source close to President Obama said, "We're going to have some Paul McCartney and Peter, Paul & Mary concerts. And we might even put some endangered species on postage stamps. The President is determined to reach out," he said.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

They're Gnarley

It's difficult to make a decision at times. In the run-up to Surfing's Triple Crown, there were two surfing competitions today on Oahu, Hawaii. The IHC competition at Sunset Beach and the Longboard competition at Makaha (other side of the island) went down today in surfing conditions that were described as 'gnarley'. 

I started out at the Banzai Pipeline, sitting in the bowl section, watching a few rogue surfers hit the right slide. Then moved to Sunset Beach, where I found a parking place - dead center on the IHC competition. It rained a bit, but sitting on the sand, watching some very good surfers ride gnarley waves proved to be transcendental. 
The waves yesterday peaked at about 35' and were deemed unridable so the competition didn't open then. They waited a day for this morning when the waves were running under the 20' mark. Still, they were big and as an armchair surfer, I spent four hours out there. ###

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Swell

The waves on Hawaii's North Shore ran between 25 and 35 feet today. There were some monster waves that bashed ashore along Hali-Ewa, the Banzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach.

You can see some large breakers -- standing east of Sunset Beach -- combing over way out about 200 meters from shore.

And even on the North Shore with monster waves, you can always find a calm place to take in the sun, walk on a pristine beach, and experience paradise. ###

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Seascape

If I wasn't here today, I'd be holding the hands of my grandchildren, trick-or-treating. And a tough decision it is...but I'm here. 

This is a photo of the southwest coast of Oahu, looking north from where I snorkeled this morning. You'll notice a yellow bar. There is a smokestack to the right of the bar. The power plant generates electricity for this side of the Island. As a by-product of the process of energy generation, the plant generates heat, and is cooled by the ocean. Heated water is pumped about 100 meters out to sea (yellow bar area) and the heated water draws fish -- and because it draws fish, it also draws predators. The principal predators who hunt this area are:

Spinner Dolphins!  Last year, Heather and I snorkeled with the dolphins further out to sea. However, they come in near the power plant to feed (in the hundreds) early in the morning and I'll be there tomorrow morning to flail around in the water with them while they have their breakfast.

Green Turtles are often guests at the same place since there is a lot of growth in the water due to the unusually high temperature in this area. I hoped to find some sea turtles in the area where I snorkeled today. Visibility was good, but no turtles.

I'm trying to get my salt water fix in because later in the week, they are expecting high waves from an Arctic storm that is kicking things up a thousand miles north of here. The high waves and surge kick up sand and the water won't be quite as clear.

Option 2 is to drive (instead of walk to) a more sheltered area called Shark's Cove, which is known for it's population of common reef White Tip Sharks. The White Tip Sharks are not particularly large or aggressive and the water at the cove is not all that deep. There are quite a few octopus here and the sharks eat them when they can.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Dispatch from Paradise


I'm not doing a heck of a lot. Today I went snorkeling out past the danger warning buoy where the good snorkeling and the fish are. The rip current isn't much of a problem if you're prudent, have really powerful fins and a bit of experience.


I walked over to the marina where the Black Pearl is moored and spoke to some Disney people who are outfitting her for sea. They're getting ready to film the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Yesterday is the first day I saw people working on the ship/prop. 


It's noon and I came back to the room for lunch - a chicken salad sandwich (don't get too excited, it's the chicken salad pre-made stuff they sell at Costco) and wheat thins. I haven't had the sandwich yet. And I'll continue reading Surface Detail  by Iain Banks (highly recommended). Maybe I'll go down and read by the pool. I haven't decided yet.

It's a Saturday and I don't want to go head-to-head with people who are going somewhere or who are actually 'doing something'. So snorkeling, loafing, a sandwich, the pool and a book are more less the extent of my ambitions.



Friday, October 29, 2010

Spooky Yo-Ho/Yo-Ho

The Legend of the Black Pearl finds its genesis not on the Spanish Main, but in Disney studios -- but it's still spooky! The Curse of the Black Pearl seems to be a great place to begin my Halloween blog. This was motivated when I looked out of the elevator window at the hotel where I'm staying and this is what I saw:

The Black Pearl be swingin at anchor, me hearties. 


The figurehead be a skeleton drinking a drought of
rum - toasting the devil, me thinks!

Here be a picture of her aft. 

(I took the photos in the morning in unfavorable light)

So the ghost ship is here -- near me -- at Halloween. And at night when the moon is full, bats can be seen flying from the hold, in search of human blood. In the distance I can hear the song echo from the jungle:

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a pirate's life for me
We pillage, we plunder we rifle and loot
Drink up me hearties, yo ho
We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot
Drink up me hearties, yo ho
Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a pirate's life for me
We extort, we pilfer we filch and sack
Drink up me hearties, yo ho
Maraud and embezzle and even high-jack
Drink up me hearties yo ho
Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a pirate's life for me
We kindle and char inflame and ignite
Drink up me hearties, yo ho
We burn up the city we're really a fright
Drink up me hearties, yo ho
We're rascals, scoundrels villains, and knaves
Drink up me hearties yo ho
We're devils and black sheep - really bad eggs
Drink up me hearties yo ho
Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a pirate's life for me
We're beggars and blighters and ne'er do-well cads
Drink up me hearties, yo ho
Aye, but we're loved by our mommies and dads
Drink up me hearties, yo ho

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