Saturday, April 30, 2005

More Saturday silly ...

In the spirit of silly quizzes and other time-wasters, I found the "You Know You're From x" selector on the Blogthings site. I grew up 30 miles east of Pittsburgh ... so here is the list of indicators to watch for. I've bolded the ones I am personally guilty of ...

You Know You're From Pittsburgh When...

"Hey Yuz Guyz" is your traditional greeting.

You know the time and location of every Wing Night in a 10 mile radius.

You know the location of the following towns, know someone from them and have spent time there: Monongahela, Altoona, Bethlehem, Ligonier, Harmony, and Wilmerding.

You've memorized lines from the movie "Flashdance".

If you're a guy, your biggest fear is seeing your best friend drive into the "fruit loop". You're second biggest fear is seeing him drive out with Kordel Stewart.

If you're a girl, you're biggest fear is getting hit on by a hairy-chested man, heavily weighted in gold chains, who refers to his friends as "junior" at Chauncey's.

Your latest cultural experience: On your way to partying at Slippery Rock University, having to stop your car to let the Amish buggy cross the street.

As your out-of-town friends brag about their latest trips to Europe, you think to yourself, "Polish Hill will suffice."

You eat out at least once a week at a mafia-owned Italian pizza parlor.

Your father has worked for the same company for over 20 years. (45 years at West Penn Power)

You don't see what all the hype is about Disney World when Kennywood is just around the corner.

You're having a hard time on where to take your date out for dinner and a night on the town: - "meat on a stick" in the south side and the guzzling IC Light at Jack's... Or splitting an order of "O fries" and guzzling IC Light at Peter's Pub.

" N at' " is eloquently added to the end of every sentence.

You've taken deliberate field trips to the Andy Warhol museum.

You water ski on the Youghiogheny River Lake.

You feel the only good bands out there are Donny Iris, Joe Grushecky, The Blue Oyster Cult, and of course.... Rusted Root.

You're more worried about Jerome Bettis's health than your own.

You own more than one original Terrible Towel.

You don't understand what all the hype is about for Rolling Rock beer. You've been drinking it for years, although Penn Pilsner is better.

You consider a great vacation a trip to Conneaut Lake or Lake Erie. For something a little more exotic, a trip to the Jersey shore.

You're 35 years old, have never been outside of Allegheny County, and don't see the need to leave.

You only own four spices: salt, pepper, Heinz ketchup, and the bottle of Trappey's Red Devil you swiped from Primanti's.

For the life of you, you can't understand why your all your out-of-town friends don't get the "fries and cole slaw" thing...

You have 101 favorite recipes for kolbasi and sauerkraut.

Words like: hoagie; chipped ham; pop; and gumband actually mean something to you.

You can use the phrase "Firehall Wedding" and not even bat an eye.

You walk carefully when it is "slippy" outside.

You often go down to the "crick".

You have to "red up", before company comes over.

You've ever gotten hurt by falling into a "jaggerbush".

You know that Ahia is a river, a boulevard, and a state.

You've ever "warshed" or "wershed" the laundry.

You know you can't drive too fast on back roads,cause-udda-deer.
You've drank an "Arn" .

You've told someone to "quit jaggin around".

You know that Clinton, Monaca, and Beaver, are actually names of towns.

You've called someone a 'jaggoff'.

You hear "you guyses", or "yins" and don't think twice.

You hate Cleveland, although you've never been there.

You drink "pop", eat "hoagies", pierogies, and gyros(jy-rows).

You know what a still mill is.

You can find Zillionopal on a map.

You go 'food shoppin' at 'Jine Iggle'.

You believe that "Ize" is the abbreviaton for "I was".

You know someone from 'Sliberty, E-sliberty, or Wesliberty.

You know the Pittsburgh Zoo is in 'Hilinpark' and have been there for school field trips.

You know what is meant by "The Point".

Chipped ham was always in your refrigerator when you were growing up.

You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from Pittsburgh.

Mellow, Care-Free ??

OK - maybe I should wean myself from taking every quiz that comes along ... but not yet. Especially not when the request comes from a Castle Chick! So in response to AFSister's request, I took this Personality quiz...

You're a very mellow, care-free person. You're
exactly what calm, cool, and collected mean.
You never overreact or panic in a bad situation
and you always know what to do. Everyone goes
to you for advice because you never lose your
head, so you're very reliable. You tend to take
everything in stride, in school your motto
is just sit back and relax, not to say you don't
pay attention and work, but you don't overexert
yourself. Even though people come to you for
counseling you can still be very quiet,
you're not good with making new friends, but you're
extremely close to the ones you have. Remember
its ok to put your emotions out there even
though there is a chance they might get hurt...

What's Your Personality
brought to you by Quizilla

Oh, boy, I can't wait for the snarking on this one ... Hah!

Friday, April 29, 2005

Friday links

Checking in on the Denizens today, we have AFSister stopping for a Coke, and finding something much more profound. Unfortunately John of Argghhh! is under the weather, but still found time to provide us with some culture and history, along with some Gun Zen.

Kat contemplates the power and misuse of words, while Jack seeks input from his readers.

The difference between sensationalism and news is at the heart of Cass' piece The Enemy Within.

The Sandbox series at Blonde Sagacity continues with great images and a little poetry.

Meanwhile, UML Guy continues to blog from new locations, and we have been discussing plans to see the movie Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Of course, there is a little matter of 3 hours and 3000 miles to coordinate across ... no problem!

Other news ...

Major K gives us a quick update on SGT Ferguson, who was seriously injured by an IED recently ... the news is good, but keep the prayers coming!

On the down side, we lost more good people in the last few days. One of them was SFC Johnson, a Special Forces medic, who was killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday. You can read more about SFC Johnson at Go Jack Army.

In Politics ...

The sharp-tongued Ann Coulter wants to Drag Liberals into the Light on the topic of judicial nominees in the Senate. It's worth your time to read the whole thing, but here is a tiny taste ...

I am sublimely confident that normal Americans will not be shocked to learn that a Republican Senate plans to confirm the judicial nominees of a Republican president -- despite the objections of radical elements of a party that is the minority in the Senate, the minority in the House, the loser in the last two presidential races, the minority in state governorships, and the minority in all but a tiny number of very small but densely populated enclaves in this country that need to tax Rush Limbaugh, even though he lives in another state, just to keep all their little socialist programs afloat.

More Links ...

Thanks to Bad Cat Robot for the fun links on Elegant Math, such as Fractals. See, the difference is that I have a math degree (B.A.) while BCR actually understands the stuff - and she still talks people, too...

Thursday, April 28, 2005

My musical inclinations...

I saw this quiz at She Who Will Be Obeyed, where you can see that Beth has this lovely, complex layout of musical tastes and influences. So, being unable to resist - I had to give it a shot as well. Well, guess what - I'm stuck in my rock music roots, and I'm not gonna budge ...

Your Taste in Music:

Classic Rock: High Influence
80's Alternative: Low Influence
80's Pop: Low Influence
90's R&B: Low Influence
Progressive Rock: Low Influence

Heh - You'd still be hard pressed to guess what 3 CD's are taking turns in my car this week!


It gets worse ... That 1 Guy has also taken the quiz, and his musical taste is even more complex than Beth's! Check it out at Drunken Wisdom.

*heavy sigh*

Okay - so I need to explore some different tunes ... I get it!

Supporting the Military

There are some great charities around who are working hard to provide comfort for our men and women in uniform, and Soldiers' Angels is one of my favorites. Their motto is "May No Soldier Go Unloved", and the number of ways they follow through on this promise grows every day.

It is because of Blackfive that I first checked out this fine group, and his support of it has just expanded. For those of us who've been waiting for Blackfive T-Shirts, the day has arrived! Order your Blackfive - Paratrooper of Love T-Shirt today, and Matt will donate a portion of each purchase to the Soldiers' Angels group. What a wonderful way to get something cool to wear, and support the troops at the same time!

While you're over at Blackfive, check out his series Caring for the Defenders for other ideas on ways that you can help. Also, check out some of these groups :

The Fisher House Foundation
Special Operations Warrior Fund
Operation Hero Miles

All of these groups, and many others, do a fine job of caring for the whole military Family - because the troops do not serve alone - their families sacrifice along with them.

Getting off the Dime

We focus on our daily lives, dealing with work and family, things and stuff. We put off things we mean to do, thinking of tomorrow or the day after. If we're lucky, we get a nudge in the right direction. That's what happened to our good friend Bill, and we get the benefit of the nudge as well, in Off the Dime. Go read it now, and follow the thread to it's starting point ... No cheating.

You read it all? Good, I can continue.

I've seen references to Fiddler's Green before, but had to wander around the web a bit to research it. I found several references, here is the one that seemed most fitting. *Raises glass*

Halfway down the trail to Hell,
In a shady meadow green
Are the Souls of all dead troopers camped,
Near a good old-time canteen.
And this eternal resting place
Is known as Fiddlers' Green.

Marching past, straight through to Hell
The Infantry are seen.
Accompanied by the Engineers,
Artillery and Marines,
For none but the shades of Cavalrymen
Dismount at Fiddlers' Green.

Though some go curving down the trail
To seek a warmer scene.
No trooper ever gets to Hell
Ere he's emptied his canteen.
And so rides back to drink again
With friends at Fiddlers' Green.

And so when man and horse go down
Beneath a saber keen,
Or in a roaring charge of fierce melee
You stop a bullet clean,
And the hostiles come to get your scalp,
Just empty your canteen,
And go to Fiddlers' Green.


Source number two is here.

BTW - This all started with a post from the Huntress on her blog Diary of a Hollywood Refuge, by way of a post from Sgt B at the Gun Line.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

News and Perspectives

(Note to frequent visitors -- Updates have been added at the bottom)

Castle Denizens are losing our war correspondent in Afghanistan, which is good news for MSG Keith, who will be returning from his deployment next month. Visit the Castle to read his latest (and possibly last) report - complete with fantastic pictures.

While you are there, read through the latest News You Can Use updates from the Armorer.

I've been concerned with the machinations on both sides in the Senate battle over judicial nominations, so I enjoyed reading this item in the NY Times from Bob Dole - Up, Down or Out. I urge you to read the complete article, but here is a snip to set the tone and whet your appetite :

IN the coming weeks, we may witness a vote in the United States Senate that will define the 109th Congress for the ages. This vote will not be about war and peace, the economy or the threat from terrorism. It will focus instead on procedure: whether the Senate should amend its own rules to ensure that nominees to the federal bench can be confirmed by a simple majority vote.

I have publicly urged caution in this matter. Amending the Senate rules over the objection of a substantial minority should be the option of last resort. I still hold out hope that the two Senate leaders will find a way to ensure that senators have the opportunity to fulfill their constitutional duty to offer "advice and consent" on the president's judicial nominees while protecting minority rights. Time has not yet run out.

But let's be honest: By creating a new threshold for the confirmation of judicial nominees, the Democratic minority has abandoned the tradition of mutual self-restraint that has long allowed the Senate to function as an institution.

Hat tip to Cass at Villainous Company for the link, and for her post yesterday on Alexander Hamilton and the Appointment Power.

Jack at Random Fate poses some interesting thoughts on the Cold War in the Would that Will not Heal, and his readers offer their thoughts in comments as well. His quote of the day is a good reminder on Perspective :

Like the wind crying endlessly through the universe, Time carries away the names and the deeds of conquerors and commoners alike. And all that we are, all that remains, is in the memories of those who cared we came this way for a brief moment.
-Harlan Ellison

Now that the amazing Kat of The Middle Ground has her computer up and running full steam again, she is using it to good effect! Her essay today on This Imperfect Freedom is a great read, fill up the coffee cup and take your time ...

Another must read is Bunker Mulligan's discussion on the Democratic Talking Points.

In other places, Punctilious has a critter round up today with buffalo, an ostrich, and silly geese, and Alan has an interesting photo needing a caption. Meanwhile, Eric gives us an instructive look at how some Marines livened up their PT time with Games.


Word has been received from our friend Heartless Libertarian that the extra Guardian Angel Squad provided from the Castle (Thanks, John and Bill!) is going to be able to stand down soon, when SPC HL returns home in the near future. However - the GA should be aware that pending force changes will require some occasional checking-in, as the HL team plans to increase to full fire-team size around the December time-frame!

More on Special Operations

My good friend Max is a great source of info on Special Forces, where he's served for 17+ years. He recently pointed me to some good reading material on the SF methodology. As part of a series on Counter-Terrorism posted at The Strategy Page, it reminds us of the complex role played in the GWOT by these special operators...

April 22, 2005: The U.S. Army Special Forces tactics are becoming very popular in the war on terror. These techniques involve going in and making friends with as many people as possible, and then waiting for the people you have helped to reciprocate with information, or even actively joining your efforts to chase down terrorists. The first thing you have to do is make an assessment, and this is why Special Forces training includes learning the languages of the area they will specialize in. The five active duty Special Forces groups (brigades) each specialize in a different region of the world. Going around to villages or neighborhoods to introduce yourself usually goes over very well. The Special Forces is an exotic visitor who speaks your language, knows your customs and is very respectful. Two men in each twelve man Special Forces team are medical specialists, and being able to provide professional medical attention in Third World countries is a great ice breaker. Since they know the culture, the Special Forces operators know when it is polite to offer something, how to do it, and when to keep quiet. The people in these poor countries know of America as a rich, generous country, so it’s not difficult for the Special Forces to offer assistance. After all, America has so much, and likes to share, and there are so many poor people.

The Special Forces will usually say why they are there, to catch terrorists who threaten the United States. For that reason, the Special Forces will get cozy with locals who are not Islamic radicals. It’s all about establishing relations, and maintaining them. The army Civil Affairs battalions actually belong to the Special Forces, and specialize in working long term with locals to improve living and economic conditions. Something as simple (for Americans) as have a veterinarian check local herds for diseases, and then inoculating the animals to cure, or prevent livestock diseases, creates lots of good will. Flying in equipment to drill water wells, or passing out battery powered short wave radios (with a wind up mechanism to recharge the battery) builds long term good will. The Special Forces know what goods and services will be most useful, and appreciated, by the locals.

Once the good will is established, the Special Forces then have an invaluable intelligence tool; the ability to go to villagers and just sit and talk. And ask questions that will be answered. Did any armed strangers pass by the village in the last week? The imam (Moslem clergyman) in a nearby town is preaching hatred of the West, is anyone paying attention to him? Is Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda more, or less, popular than he was a year ago. Getting honest answers is not automatic, you have to gain trust first.

The Special Forces training also makes it easier for the operators to detect when they aren’t making progress. To detect when they are being lied to or patronized. This is important, because the Special Forces and Civil Affairs troops might we working an area for months, or years, before the locals decide that the foreigners are OK and can be trusted, and spoken to freely and frankly.

When this rapport is established, a senior Special Forces or army commander that speaks the local language can then invite local leaders to special parties. In Arab countries these are called Diwaniya, and are part entertainment, part eating out, and mostly talking things over. The host supplies the place, and the food, and also can lead the conversation. Usually, the guy hosting the Diwaniya is a local big shot, and the gathering is a way for him to monitor the local public opinion, and also see who needs favors. Doing good deeds for your guests creates loyalty to the host, not to mention good will and a willingness to come back. One British general in southern Iraq worked his way up to being able to hold Diwaniyas, which made his job of keeping the peace much easier.

The war on terror is being fought, and won, with thousands of good deeds and kind words. These are tools that are often more effective than bombs and bullets.

From The Strategy Page / Counter-Terrorism Operations News

Some other resources, and some great stories, on the world of SF from various perspectives can be found at such sites as Go Jack Army and SF Alpha Geek. They are constantly adding other sites to their blogrolls - check 'em out!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Over at Blonde Sagacity, Sgt B answer the Sandbox Challenge with flair and poetry.

I wish ESPN would show the Best Ranger competition, held this weekend at Ft. Bragg, rather than skateboarding. Congratulations to Capt. Corbett McCallum and Sgt. 1st Class Gerald Nelson, the winners of the competition this year, out of 11 finishing teams. Thanks to John at Castle Argghhh for the link.

If you want to read a story of real chutzpah, though, head over to SF Alpha Geek's place. He describes the adventures of a guy who managed to screw it up with world class flair!

Flex your mental muscles

Some mental gymnastics to tune your brain up for the day ahead...

This quiz will gauge your mental flexibility and creativity. Few people can solve all of them in one sitting, and some may only get half on the first day. Many reported getting answers long after the test had been set aside, at unexpected moments when their minds were relaxed, and some reported solving it over a period of several days.

Example: 16 -O- in a -P-
Answer:16 Ounces in a Pound

1) 26 -L- of the -A-
2) 7 -D- of the -W-
3) 1001 -A- -N-
4) 12 -S- of the -Z-
5) 54 -C- in a -D- (with the -J-)
6) 9 -P- in the -S- -S-
7) 88 -P- -K-
8) 13 -S- on the -A- -F-
9) 32 -D- at which -W- -F-
10) 18 -H- on a -G- -C-
11) 90 -D- in a -R- -A-
12) 8 -S- on a -S- -S-
13) 3 -B- -M- (-S- -H- -T- -R-)
14) 4 -Q- in a -G-
15) 24 -H- in a -D-
16) 1 -W- on a -U-
17) 5 -D- in a -Z- -C-
18) 57 -H- -V-
19) 11 -P- on a -F- -B- -T-
20) 1000 -W- that a -P- is -W-
21) 29 -D- in -F- in a -L- -Y-
22) 64 -S- on a -C- -B-
23) 40 -D- and -N- of the -G- -F-
24) 76 -T- in the -B- -P-
25) 50 -W- to -L- -Y- -L-
26) 99 -B- of -B- on the -W-
27) 60 -S- in a -M-
28) 1 -H- on a -U-
29) 9 -J- on the -S- -C-
30) 7 -B- for -S- -B-
31) 21 -D- on a -D-
32) 7 -W- of the -A- -W-

6-11...Somewhat Intelligent
12-18...Very Intelligent

I received this in an email some time back, and forwarded it to my brother and sister. At the end of the day, we each shared what we had completed. Between the three of us we had all of the answers, and each of us had about two-thirds of the list complete.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Fun Links

I noticed a new meme making the blog rounds the other day. Take a list of occupations and complete the phrase "If I could be a ..." about 5 or more of the professions on the list, add more if you like, then pass the list along.

Boudicca posted hers, then tagged Jack and Eric. Meanwhile, Dana at Note-It Posts tapped Subliminal Koolaid.

For some other fun, set the coffee cup down before heading to the Castle to check out Bill's philosophical discussion of the gender gap in Midnight Maundering.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Sunday catch-up

I goofed off most of the weekend, playing golf Saturday and hanging with some friends. Today was yard work and a movie - The Interpreter - good movie, tense drama with some interesting twists.

Thanks to LittleGreenFootballs, I gazed at the recent cool pics from the Hubble telescope, which has completed 15 years in space. First we have the Eagle Nebula, also known as the Pillar of Creation. Spiral galaxy M51, known as the Whirlpool Galaxy, is the other featured image.

Thanks to ALa for pointing us to Redleg's pics of his guys.

I love this item from Cox and Forkum to celebrate Earth Day... sort of!

For other fun - check out the Caption Contests at Random Fate and Villainous Company.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Friday links

ALa at Blonde Sagacity has a few new entries to her In The Sandbox series today. First, we have Castle contributor MSG Keith from Afghanistan, who recently celebrated his 30th year in military service. Go to ALa's and check out In the Sandbox...The Castle Replies / MSG Keith.

On the Challenge side we have Desultory Butterfly (Desult), bringing us a story from 91Ghost, who served in Gulf War I, and no longer blogs. Desult's site can be found here.

For more background on In the Sandbox and the Challenge series, you can start here.

ALa also points out the story of a recent spitting event. Bunker Mulligan also has a short note on the event here, and recalls his own experience with the receiving end of such behavior.

By the way - Bunker's son Birdie has just deployed to Afghanistan, and missed the birth of his daughter Rylee Danielle, keep the family in your thoughts.

If you need a chuckle, Bunker shares an interesting check list to determine whether you are Metrosexual or Medieval?
Originally posted by Doug Giles at

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Good to Know...

How well prepared are you and your family for adverse events, whether it be from terrorist attack, or a chemical truck overturned on the highway near your neighborhood. Sgt B at the Gun Line points to a good resource you should consider reading, with real suggestions that you can use to prepare.

If you care about protecting your 2nd Amendment rights, Kat at The Middle Ground has a Blogburst today, in coordination with The Wide Awakes. Check 'em both out...

For today's installment of tidbits around the military world, check out the News You Can Use at Castle Argghhh.

I have several Milblogs that I love reading, many that I enjoy but don't get to NEARLY enough, and have wandered onto many others, then lost the links. What a joy it was, therefore, to find the Round-Up of Milblogs at Blackfive yesterday. Check it out, and if you know of a military blog that he doesn't have on the list - let him know in the comments!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Items of note...

There's a lot of goodies to enjoy at the Castle today...

A trio of TINS (TINSes?) from fly-boy Bill, who asks and answers the question who has the Worst Job, from several perspectives!

Meanwhile, John takes a moment to react to the reactions around the recent Papal selection, while pointing us to the latest travel adventures of She Who Will Be Obeyed.

If you belong to the Castle Denizen corps, don't miss the administrivia memorandum!

For that tiny percentage of us who live in Washington and care about the ongoing election circus, Sound Politics has the latest. Also, check out Michelle Malkin's site for a simple summary on Bogus Votes.

Added Items

Take some time to visit Jack of Random Fate, and read his commentary on being Trapped in a Prisoner's Dilemma with Fools playing a Zero-Sum Game. Then read it again, it can't be easily absorbed on the first try.

Heartless Libertarian helps us out with some simple math for those in King County who fail to grasp our concerns!


Matt at Blackfive has a detailed memorial to those lost in the crash of Chinook flight Windy Two Five, on April 6th in Afghanistan. Thanks, Matt...

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Dance

The skill and daring needed to herd a helicopter safely through the skies are impressive enough, but the amazing BillT of Castle Argghhh shares a glimpse of his poetic side with In The Sandbox at Blonde Sagacity. The prose and pictures need to be absorbed together - go to it!

While you are there, take the time also to read ALa's tribute to A Fallen Marine, Cpl. Michael B. Lindemuth, who was killed last week in Iraq. He Danced for us, remember him well.

On the plus side of that equation, Major K gives us an update on the successful hunt for the terrorists who killed CPL Watson in Ladies & Gentlemen, We got 'em.

Good on you, Major K!

Another remembrance to Cpl. Lindemuth and all of his fallen brothers and sisters comes from Kat at The Middle Ground. It starts like this ...

All Their Names
K. Henry

I don't recall all their names
I never touched their smiling faces
I didn't watch them grow to men
Nor loose their earth bound traces

Yet they are with me every day
Engraved forever on my soul
Brave men whose blood they gave
That this freedom I could hold

Monday, April 18, 2005


Looking around this morning, I found some great pictures of Maine, courtesy of Alan at GenX at 40. Nice shots, Alan ... Thanks for sharing! I particularly like the image of a fish as a weather-vane.

A bit of visual Aviator Zen was provided by John of Argghhh yesterday, along with this background. The ensuing comment party provided some other fine visuals as well, like this, this and this -- all provided by Punctilious. Way Cool!

On the slightly scarier side, we have an image of a Rino at IMAO, courtesy of Cadet Happy.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Sunday Reading

Last night I was intrigued by Jack's post Another downside to globalization. After pondering the question "what are the larger implications of China having control over such a large percentage of the world output of this metal?", and deciding that the implications are sizeable, I was compelled to find out more.

The link that I found and shared with Jack became today's helping of global economy, Raw Material Prices - It's not all about Oil, which I consumed with my second cup of coffee this morning.

I am generally in favor of a global market economy, but I certainly want to see the US maintain a position of strength economically. The word 'maintain' may be a poor choice, though, based on this reading. There is great potential demand for resources pent up in the large populations of China and India, and they are modernizing at an incredible rate. We need to determine what steps will guide us away from complacency, and maintain our leading position in the global economy.

On the plus side of the global environment is Secretary of State Condi Rice - and Kat of The Middle Ground tells us that she would like to be like Condi when she grows up! Here is Kat's take on Condi's style ...

This lady can cut the legs out from under her adversaries and beat them with the bloody stump, all the while smiling benignly behind the pulpit.

I love it!

Also, go and check out the Afghanistan update from MSG Keith at Castle Argghhh. The material is from Thanksgiving timeframe, but it is still great reading - and the pictures are wonderful. I especially like the shot of young girls singing in their colorful clothing. Good things are happening there, we just need to be reminded by reports like this.

SWWBO reminds us that this week's Carnival of the Recipes is up over at CounterTop Chronicles. Yumm!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

A little election humor ...

Given the current turmoil over the gubernatorial election here in Washington (yes, still!), I found this list of Top 20 Papal Election Nightmares a crack-up.

20. Minority cardinals forced to wait for hours in long lines to vote
19. Electronic voting machines malfunction, Cardinal Giordano gets 31,559 votes out of possible 117, no paper trail
18. Jimmy Carter miffed he cannot oversee voting
17. CNN calls Sicily too early, puts it back in undecided category at 2am
16. Sunnis boycott
15. Michael Moore disagrees with new pope selection, keeps calling him "Cardinal"
14. Elderly cardinals don't understand butterfly ballot, accidentally vote for Ayatollah Khomeini 13. President of Diebold embarrassed after revelation that he promised to deliver non-existent Ohio cardinal's vote
12. Shortly before new pope is announced, John Edwards appears at the podium
11. Hanging chads
10. After months of internal bickering, new pope is chosen by US Supreme Court
9. 3rd party cardinal splits vote, adulterous southern bishop elected pope
8. NY Times editorial calls for the end of the electoral conclave in favor of a straight popular vote
7. John Kerry claims he voted for the new pope before he voted against him
6. Seeing their guy would have won on a technicality if a few key cardinals voted differently, the Times reverses their position on electoral conclave
5. Vatican runs out of purple thumb ink
4. After new pope is introduced, they pipe Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop Thinking about Tomorrow" into St. Peter's Square
3. Berkeley study determines election was statistically impossible
-3a. In his first act as pontiff, new pope introduces "don't ask, don't tell" to Canon Law
-3c. Then he turns and hugs Monica Lewinsky
-3d. Then he gives the thumbs up to the architect, Karl Rove
2. Election map really confusing, since all cardinals are red
1. New term: "swing cardinals"

Friday, April 15, 2005

What Language is that?

I saw the linguistic test at Frizzen Sparks first, then at Technicalities, so I had to try it out.

After answering several questions about how I pronounce 'Route', and whether I grew up calling the sub-level of a house a 'Cellar' or a 'Basement', here is the verdict ...

Your Linguistic Profile:

70% General American English
15% Dixie
10% Yankee
5% Upper Midwestern
0% Midwestern

Considering I've never lived in the upper midwest, I have no idea where that part came from. I'm just a linguistic Mutt!

Friday links

John Donovan looks at an article from Ralph Peters ... and has a few points of his own to add. Go read Ralph's Clashing Military Cultures first, then go read Stupid Officer Tricks, and don't miss the comments. Castle Argghhh is a very 'Jointy' site, with active and retired military folks from all of the services, the discussion could get lively!

Meanwhile, Jack of Random Fate provides some food for thought on the effects of bad manners by certain blog owners...

If we want weblogs to be taken seriously, we cannot participate in these high school level shenanigans such as deleting opposing views in which Paul at Wizbang indulges, and Kevin, the supposed owner of Wizbang allows.

Otherwise, the accusations of the so-called MainStream Media will stick, and collectively we don't deserve to be taken more seriously than any ranting idiot on the street corner since we choose not to police our own.

This is in reference to blog comments being removed, not because they are trollish and crude, or contain foul language, but because the viewpoints expressed are not in line with those of the blog owner. As Jack points out, this will be our downfall if we do not take care of our own.

One of the best features of Castle Argghhh has been the ability for people with varying viewpoints to express them respectfully, to disagree without rancor, and to sometimes agree to disagree. If we all agreed all of the time, on every topic, we would be bored quickly. Instead we have discourse, and are better for it.


Cass clues us in to an amazing event -- Good News in the GWOT! Of course, the news isn't what really amazes us - it is the fact that it is reported...

For eye candy - check out today's cannon pics at the Castle, or scan the fun offerings provided by Bill, who is pushing the rating envelope again! Bill also points out that Kat of The Middle Ground scored a radio mention - You Go, Girl!

It turns out that Sgt B is a Beast, in more ways than one, and AFSister provides a little comic relief to cheer us up.

Fellow denizen Alan is vacationing, and reports on the Fenway Fight which took some of the fun out of beating the Yankees.

And Punctilious is talking about taking the family to Disneyland, and requests advice. I advised her to take me with her ... Heh!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Outta this world

While I was scanning through my digital pics tonight, I ran across some nice astronomy shots taken by a friend of mine several years ago. Dave is an astronomer by education and avocation, and takes some pretty interesting photos of eclipses, comets, etc.

You will notice that I've added a picture in my sidebar. Dave took this amazing shot of a total solar eclipse in 1998, and I've used it as desktop wallpaper quite a bit. There's a higher res version here. If you click on the picture itself, you will be looking at an animation showing the progression of the eclipse. To browse the complete site, click on the link under the picture.


Old Media

It's tempting to use the old saw "If it bleeds, it leads" when observing the stories chosen for headline emphasis in the so called Old Media these days. But perhaps it is even simpler than that.

Check out David Limbaugh's column on the topic in Old media on Iraq: Good news not newsworthy ...

I realize many just chalk up the media's emphasis on bad news as intrinsic to journalism: the attitude that if nothing is going wrong, it's not really newsworthy. But that just doesn't wash.

How could anyone seriously contend that a reduction in the anarchy isn't newsworthy? What could be more important than signs indicating we might have turned the corner on the "insurgency"?

While we heard a daily drumbeat of despair and an ongoing tabulation of American dead when things were looking bleaker -- a look, I might add, that was meticulously cultivated by the Old Media -- we hear nothing but a thundering silence today.

Read the complete article here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Tuesday Links

Harvey, posting at IMAO, enumerates some Totally True Tidbits about the American Flag.

At the Castle, Chief Bill explains how to prepare for a Military Readiness Exercise. And since I lost a blog day yesterday, I have yet to scan all of the links John provided from 'Round the news.

Sgt. B is being interviewed at the Gun Line, again! This time by the lovely and articulate Cass of Villainous Company, who wants us to Stop her before she Puns Again !

The Jedi quiz has continued to make the rounds, and it turns out that Kat of The Middle Ground is a Jedi Master!

Fellow denizen Jack of Random Fate reports that not all is grim and hopeless. And I can totaly tottaly totally sympathize with Alan of GenX at 40 and his problems with spelling.

AFSister at My Side of the Puddle has a thing about Kissing ... with a quiz. I love quizzes, had to try it out myself ...

You have an entrancing kiss~ the kind that leaves
your partner bedazzled and maybe even feeling
he/she is dreaming. Quite effective; the kiss
that never lessens and always blows your
partner away like the first time.

What kind of kiss are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, April 11, 2005

Not Fonda Jane

Thanks to Blackfive for pointing out the latest Russ Vaughn poem, "Forever Green", and for linking to Gold Falcon at Jump Blog who explains why he's Not Fonda Jane, especially after reading this story.

Having never served, and being too young to remember the flak when these events occurred, I can't add value to the discussion. However, in addition to Gold Falcon, there are others who can ...

Bill Faith : A Russ Vaughn TwoFer
Charlite at Free Republic : Jane Fonda's non apology book tour

[Editor's Note: Russ explained that he realizes that the language in his poem is a bit rough, but his super-strong feelings toward this woman demanded such treatment.]

Forever Green

Jane Fonda seeks exoneration,
Forgiveness from her traitored nation.
What say you warriors fought that war?
Is forgiveness due that wartime whore?
So rich, so smart, she thought she knew
Much more than us, we bloodied few.
So smug, self-serving, seeking fame,
The rich bitch played her seditious game.

A game that cost me many friends,
Many, thanks to Jane, came to bad ends.
I’ve borne scars forty years or more,
From lies laid on me by this whore.
Self-serving now she sells her tale,
This traitor who should be in jail.
Is it within our souls to grant her grace?
Our souls shout, “No… spit in her face!”

So self assured, she played high stakes,
Telling American prisoners, “That’s the breaks.”
She accused brave men of heinous crimes,
Which were disproved in future times.
And now our country knows the truth
Jane Fonda betrayed us in our youth.
She asks us now to read her book,
Americans, the folks this bitch forsook.

So now she crawls, her conscience bare,
To tell us she screwed up back there.
Well, hell, we knew that way back then,
This Hanoi Jane who helped them win.
It was glory then for this airhead star,
But forever now she’ll bear the scar
A scarlet letter she’ll now wear,
A stench forever in her hair.

So Jane, dear, you must realize,
You’re the devil in a helmet in our eyes.
When Vietnam vets raise up their toasts
It’s to damn your soul, to salute our ghosts.
We swear, we living, to our long-dead brave,
We’ll live to piss upon your grave.
So Jane, good fortune, unforeseen,
Your traitor’s grave will be forever green.

Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66


I would love to add links to other sites, especially milblogs, who post on this. If you run across one that you'd like me to add to the list, please leave me a comment with the link.

This one is for all the Vets out there, especially those from the Vietnam era. Thank you, again and always.


There is some balance on this topic from Snopes here.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Saturday Links

I am sure that I'm not alone in avoiding Wal-Mart at all costs. To help them shape up their image, Varifrank has provided 10 Helpful Tips for Wal-Mart. Thanks to Snarkatron at Snark Patrol for the nudge in the right direction...

Phil at Red Guy in a Blue State has a funny story about the results of an interesting writing assignment.

When Cass of Villainous Company gets bored, she finds some odd stuff ... like the 'how jedi are you' questionnaire.

Not Very, I guess ...

:: how jedi are you? ::

Cass also pointed out this very funny T-Shirt

From PiratesCove comes the interesting news that Congress may keep the Sun turned on longer, because that's what more Daylight Savings Time will mean, right???

Eric at Straight White Guy points to a surprising story -- Who knew that Hitler was a sensitive little Momma's Boy?

Note to Castle Denizens ... the comment bar at AFSister's place has opened up. Time to visit My side of the puddle and leave a note!!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Why are You here?

ALa of Blonde Sagacity asks What is this, in regards to the whole Blogging thing ...

Maybe I am over-analyzing, but I can't stop thinking about blogging and the interactive realm of the internet. What is it, how did I get here, what role does it play in my life, what need is it fulfilling, what's too much, who do you trust, are people really who they portray online....? These are just some of the questions that roll through my mind.

Why are we here? Whether you blog or leave comments, or simply read or lurk, then pass on by, what is the draw of the Blogosphere for you?

I started reading blogs less than a year ago, and was quickly drawn to the Milblogs. I wanted to know more about events in the GWOT, and I found the Milblogs as a great resource. The political discussions attracted me, especially on those sites where differing viewpoints could be discussed without rancor.

Why did I decide to stake down my own little corner of the 'sphere? Good question ... Next question? *grin*

Seriously, I can't give a simple answer to that one. Part of it comes from finding so much that interested and challenged me in other blogs. After I ventured into comments, then I started to want to say other things on my own. Part of it was the fact that I could dabble in it quickly, and new technology was fun for itself.

ALa also poses an interesting thought on the relationships that derive from blog interactions :

Are we friends even though we have never met? Can we be friends if we've never met? Many of you I speak with more than people in my 'real' what's 'real'? When I make my Christmas card list this year --who deserves a slot? The 'real' friend that I haven't actually seen in three years or some of you that I speak with everyday, but have never laid eyes on. And what about when this world crosses over...on the phone, on IM or over dinner...or a Blogger's Ball? Does it become 'real' then or was it 'real' all along?
I had several conversations just the other night around this same area. So I have been thinking about this idea quite a bit.

First of all, friends are friends - whether we met first through the internet or in person matters not. Secondly, I think that not only can we form true friendships without meeting one another, it may lead a purer form of friendship.

We didn't form these friendships because we happened to work together, live next to one another, etc. We formed them because we shared ideas with each other, and came back for more. As long as we have been honest, then the bonds between us are not based on age or physical parameters, or on other accidents of location. Instead the bonds are based on how we think - and that is a better, stronger bond to me.

Getting to meet any of you face to face will just be the icing on the cake!

Many thanks to Aunti Craker for the link tip.


Speaking of Friends ...

John Donovan at Castle Argghhh has a bleg posted on behalf of one of his friends, take a moment to check out his post, please.

Also go read Snarkatron's entry for today on Zen Signal Processing ...

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Washington election fraud update

While I haven't written about it lately, the controversy continues over the election results for Governor here in the state of Washington. But I found it interesting this morning to find that former Senator Slade Gordon is calling for a criminal probe...

Former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton yesterday joined the call for a criminal investigation of King County's handling of the November election, even as county officials acknowledged a breakdown in the process for accounting for absentee ballots.

Gorton, appearing at a news conference with state Republican Chairman Chris Vance, said the U.S. Department of Justice or some other agency should conduct an investigation. He said he didn't know if any criminal acts were committed in the county's failure to count 93 valid absentee ballots in the tight governor's election in November.

The mistake could have been fraud or "colossal incompetence," he said.

The whole article is worth reading, as it lists many of the issues that have been uncovered over the last few months.

Taken as individual acts, each of the problems uncovered might be viewed in either the light of fraud, or simple incompetence. At one time, I felt that was immaterial, but I've become certain that each spot act is part of the larger picture, and fraud and incompetence are going hand in hand here, it seems to me.

Regardless, this is further proof that as citizens of the state, we had better take steps to get it right. As of this moment, I have no confidence in the election system in the state, and most especially, here in King County.

I did have to laugh at this paragraph :

King County Executive Ron Sims, a Democrat, dismissed Gorton's call for an investigation as "pure partisanship."
Heh ... If that isn't a case of the pot calling the kettle black, I don't know what is!!

This is just one small slice of the political circus here, but there is some good news. As reported by Stefan Sharkansky at Sound Politics, the trial date for the legal challenge has been set for May 23.

I meant to post an update on Bryan Suits, local radio host on KVI, and a recent returnee from Iraq where he served with the Washington National Guard. So I found it interesting when I read that his absentee ballot is one of those NOT counted in this election. As Shark says, That was the wrong ballot to "misplace"!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Best Milblog Pictures...

Among the 20 photographs announced today as Pulitzer Prize winners is the one which captured the killing execution of Iraqi election officials by terrorists, as noted by Michelle Malkin today. As she points out, this is a very controversial choice ... Since there were very troubling questions regarding how that photographer happened to be present at the exact moment, and to capture those specific images. The implication is that there was a tip-off, which pushes the photographer over the line from observer to participant.

In reaction to this controversy, bloggers around the blogosphere are reacting by suggesting more appropriate images from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Start with Michelle's update, then scan the item that Matt at Blackfive highlights, and take some time to review the great collection going at Mudville Gazette.

John at Castle Argghhh has a new video presentation from MSG Keith, direct from Afghanistan.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

News and Tidbits

Here's some nice news for a change -- something which adds to the comfort of our troops serving in Afghanistan. The new Pat Tillman USO Center has opened at Bagram Air Base :

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, April 5, 2005 – With snow-peaked mountains and roaring aircraft engines as a backdrop, several hundred members of the coalition in Afghanistan turned out April 3 for the grand opening of the Pat Tillman USO Center here.

The center is named for former Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman, who put his career in the National Football League on hold to join the Army after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States and was later killed in battle in Afghanistan.

Bagram’s is the 123rd United Service Organizations center around the world and just the third in Southwest or Central Asia, according to John Hanson, USO senior vice president of marketing and communications.

“We are a partnership between the civilian community and the military,” Hanson told the crowd as they gathered around the center’s entrance to show support for Tillman and sought autographed footballs whizzing through the air from Warrick Dunn of the Atlanta Falcons and Larry Izzo of the New England Patriots.

Complete story here :

I especially like the support shown by the NFL players who took the time to travel to Afghanistan and take part in the center opening.

If you are not familiar with Pat Tillman's story, he "walked away from a multimillion-dollar contract with the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Army and serve with the 75th Ranger Regiment. He was killed in a friendly-fire accident in Afghanistan April 22. " (From 'Pat Tillman USO Center Dedicated in Afghanistan')

The Armorer at Castle Argghhh! brings us a selection of items related to matters military today. Make sure to read his series of updates from our friend MSG Keith in Afghanistan, as well.

For another collection of news links, check out the Dawn Patrol at Mudville Gazette.

Reminder to the Castle Denizens ... JustThisGuy is celebrating a Birthday today!! Go wish him a Happy Birthday :-)

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Scholar-Soldiers : Do you know them?

Maybe you don't know them by that phrase, perhaps you know them as the Quiet Professionals. Still not sure ... How about Special Forces? Okay, then try Green Berets - got it now?

Many people don't have a clear picture of the elite soldiers of the Army Special Forces, or Green Berets as they are known. A year ago, if you had asked me what I knew, the answer would have been based on the movie "The Green Berets" - in other words, very little! Then I happened to sit next to a Special Forces officer while traveling last year, and the friendship from that chance encounter also provides an ongoing education in matters SF.

So I found the article The Scholar-Soldiers very interesting, and thanks to John at Castle Argghhh, and his reader Mike D, for providing the link. Here is a brief excerpt :

"One of the startling images of the Afghan War was that of heavily bearded U.S. Green Berets on horseback leading the U.S. effort to defeat the Taliban. But this was not the battle of Urdurman revisited. These were high-tech horsemen. They had at their command the ability to call in close air support at any minute from the skies above. It took a month of fighting for the 100 Green Berets and the indigenous fighters of the Northern Alliance to overthrow the fanatics of the Taliban and lay the foundations for a more stable Afghanistan. Apart from bringing a whole new dimension to taking old Nelly for a canter, this feat brought about a new appreciation of what U.S. Special Forces can accomplish.

The Green Berets inhabit a special world all their own. For obvious reasons, we do not know much about it, except what we can glean from the John Wayne movie of 1968, which one had to brave protest lines to get in to see and in which members do impressive stuff with weapons, eat bugs, and are mighty proud of their distinctive headgear. One soldier even speaks flawless Norwegian, which in itself constitutes an act of bravery.

This gap in our knowledge is filled by Linda Robinson’s Masters of Chaos: The Secret History of the Special Forces. Linda Robinson is a senior writer with U.S. News and World Report and a former Nieman fellow. She has covered various wars and guerrilla conflicts, and she served as an embedded reporter with the Green Berets during operation Iraqi Freedom. Her book picks up where Charles M. Simpson III’s Inside the Green Berets: The First Thirty Years left off, covering the conflicts of the past 15 years from Panama to Iraq as seen trough the eyes of individual soldiers. "

The book sounds quite interesting, and it just went on my reading list.

If you are interested in quick insights on the Special Forces, check out Go Jack Army - the blog of a SF recruiter. In particular, he recently pulled together a recap of his postings on Special Forces, check it out here!

Another source of interesting stories is SFAlphaGeek - he's been to the sandbox, and shares some good tales. For a good intro, check out So what do you do for a living?

By the way - the Special Forces article is but one small item from John's "Things I like on a Monday" entry. Make sure you check out the whole thing!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Sunday Links

Jack Army has a post up today about his blogging relatives, so I made the rounds to check them out...

There's sister Stemily's place, full of fun items about childcare and family life. I love her response when asked if she would potty-train someone else's child!

Brother-in-law Cowboy is a family man and a journalist in the Army, has some good stuff to read, and could use help paying off nasty old college loans. His list of Twenty Ways To Maintain A Healthy Level of Insanity had me crackin' up. My favorite :

19. Tell Your Children Over Dinner. "Due To The Economy, We Are Going To Have To Let One Of You Go."

His other blog is Redneck, with more serious tones. I was touched by his post Becoming numb to Memorial Services. You have to do what you can to deal with constant exposure to emotional events, when it's your job to report on the loss of good soldiers.

Cass at Villainous Company points us to a toy for your iPod, in case it's lonely.... Heh!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

And the world moves on...

It's been a strange week. Much debate raged over Terri Schiavo, who is now at rest - though the controversy is not. I hope that the debate over the choice for Life, versus the cult of Death, continues ... in a constructive way.

Pope John Paul II died today, and Catholics and non-Catholics around the world mourn his passing. I am not Catholic, but I remember him best standing strong against communism. It will be a challenged to find a new spiritual leader capable of touching non-Catholics as much as he did.

John Donovan at Castle Argghhh reminds us of the broad impact that he had on our world, as does Bunker Mulligan, who also points to some good reading material . Phil at Red Guy in a Blue State has some insights on what we should hope for in the next man selected as Pope.

It's a new month, spring is popping out all over here in the pacific northwest.

And tonight is the night we lose an hour of sleep. Don't forget to change your clocks, folks!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Commentathon for a good cause...

Greg Hammond is gathering comments today for a good cause, to help in the battle against the breast cancer which claimed his wife Cheryl a year ago. In loving honor of her memory, he and others are pledging donations based on the number of comments he can garner in this single day.

His goal is to raise $10,000 to donate, and the more comments he collects today against this post, the more money will be raised. These need to be unique comments, so please add your encouragement and spread the word so that we can help him reach the goal! If you also choose to make a separate donation, that would be wonderful!

Here is a note Greg posted on the site early today :

NOTE: As of 9:00 p.m., March 31, we have about $6,000 in total pledges. If we get 1500 comments, and each of those commenters also donated just $3 apiece, we would hit our target of $10,000...

If you have not visited Greg's site before, you may want to read through his Chronology as well - it is a history of their lives that is sure to touch you deeply.

Hat tip to guest Dbie "AFSister" at Castle Argghhh! for the pointer.

In other cases...

Little Old Lady in court......

Defense Attorney: Will you please state your age?

Little Old Lady: I am 86 years old.

Defense Attorney: Will you tell us, in your own words, what happened the night of April 1st?

Little Old Lady: There I was, sitting there in my swing on my front porch on a warm spring evening, when a young man comes creeping up on the porch and sits down beside me.

Defense Attorney: Did you know him?

Little Old Lady: No, but he sure was friendly.

Defense Attorney: What happened after he sat down?

Little Old Lady: He started to rub my thigh.

Defense Attorney: Did you stop him?

Little Old Lady: No, I didn't stop him.

Defense Attorney: Why not?

Little Old Lady: It felt good. Nobody had done that since my Abner died some 30 years ago.

Defense Attorney: What happened next?

Little Old Lady: He began to rub my breasts.

Defense Attorney: Did you stop him then?

Little Old Lady: No, I did not stop him.

Defense Attorney: Why not?

Little Old Lady: His rubbing made me feel all alive and excited. I haven't felt that good in years!

Defense Attorney: What happened next?

Little Old Lady: Well, by then, I was feeling really "spicy" that I just laid down and told him "Take me, young man. Take me!"

Defense Attorney: Did he take you?

Little Old Lady: Hell, no! He just yelled, "April Fool!" And that's when I shot him, the little bastard!