Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Why I Blog

I blog because it beats mumbling to myself. In fact it's like mumbling to myself, but with people answering me back.

Hmmm, come to think of it -- it's exactly like mumbling to myself (strange voices answering and all) ... except that I can imbed Jackie and Dunlap's funny videos ... just like this one.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

I know many of you attended some Memorial Day observance today, but your day will have been wasted if you don't take the time to read these Memorial Day observations from Bill and Bob's Afghan Adventure. This soldier fresh from the front gives astute insights about what it takes to defeat Islamo-fascism. Islamic fundamentalists flourish in the rocky soil of economic hopelessness. We dare not ignore Bill and Bob's wise counsel.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Aggie of the Rings

Our oldest son is a graduate of Texas A&M. Aggies take a lot of pride in their school, so getting ones class ring is a major event (especially for those in the Corps of Cadets). When Andy got his ring (because of some sort of Aggie tradition thing), he wasn't able to wear it publicly lest he be seen and harrassed by a senior cadet. Nontheless that didn't keep him from showing it off. One fellow Aggie inquired (as Andy held the ring for him to admire), "What's engraved on the inside?"

Andy examined the ring closely, screwed up his face, and said, "There are markings, it's some sort of elvish. I can't read it..."

Just between you and me, I always suspected that about the Aggies.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

At Gramma's

One of my earliest memories is a vague recollection of lying on a fold-out bed in my grandparents' house in Carlsbad, New Mexico. The bubble lights on the Christmas tree, which I found so fascinating in the drapery-filtered daylight, are absolutely magical at night -- at midnight -- with everyone else in the house sound asleep. A mix of starlight and street lights shine through the sheers. I hear a distant train whistle and the muffled clatter of the tracks. It's a peaceful, reassuring sound that can still transport me to that silent night. It's the sound of Gramma's house -- a place where the eyes of a scruffy three-year-old boy are filled with magical sights. Where (despite that little boy's valiant attempt to drink in more of the magic) his eyes can hold no more. They close and he drifts off to sleep.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thought-Free Speech

Trying to make sense of Washington politicians will strain your brain. So as a service to the "multitude" who read this blog, I offer definitions of common political phrases:

if it saves just one life
As in: If banning all industrial production saves just one life, it will be worth it.
Meaning: Quit thinking rationally and just admit that I have the superior moral position.

for the sake of the children
As in: The National Abortion Rights Action League is pro-choice ... for the sake of the children.
Meaning: I have no rational argument, so I'm feigning concern for children as a smoke screen to foist my agenda.

can't we just get along
As in: We have to ask the jihadists and zionist alike: "Can't we just get along?"
Meaning: Can't we just blame the actions of the guilty on the innocent so I can feel good about myself?

let's talk
As in: What's wrong with Barack Obama's simply saying to Iran: "Let's talk"?
Meaning: What'ya say we throw Israel under the bus? It'll win Barack Obama a Nobel Peace Prize.

give peace a chance
As in: We beg the Israelis and Palestinians alike: "Give peace a chance."
Meaning: Make no distinction between perpetrators and victims.

embrace diversity
As in: Those who will not embrace diversity will not be tolerated.
Meaning: Your age-old morals that call evil "evil" are inferior to my trendy new ones that call evil "good".

As in: Tolerance is the cornerstone of democracy.
Meaning: Keep your moral judgments to yourself ... or else.

As in: The only thing that can't be tolerated is intolerance.
Meaning: The only thing that can't be tolerated is an opinion I don't like.

think globally -- act locally
As in: To solve Earth's environmental problems we must think globally and act locally.
Meaning: Ignore the realities of human nature that are right in front of you, and never miss an opportunity to throw sand in the gears of the economy.

it's your upbringing
As in: You may be a violent person, but it's your upbringing that made you that way.
Meaning: Claiming victimhood is so much easier than facing the evil in you.

it's not your fault
As in: You may be a violent person, but it's not your fault.
Meaning: Claiming victimhood is so much easier than dealing with the consequences of your own bad decisions.

it's George Bush's fault
As in: I may be an angry person, but it's George Bush's fault.
Meaning: When it comes to blaming my neuroses on someone else, Chimpee McHilter (along with his handler, Karl Rove) is almost as good a patsy as the Jews.

you're entitled
As in: As your Congressman, it's my job to see to it that you'll get what you're entitled to.
Meaning: If you'll just adopt an entitlement mentality, I can use that to manipulate you.

it's a disease
As in: You can't do anything about your kleptomania, your lying, your gambling, etc. -- it's a disease.
Meaning: Claiming powerlessness over your misconduct is so much easier than reforming.

you were born that way
As in: You can't do anything about your homosexuality -- you were born that way.
Meaning: Claiming powerlessness over your misconduct is so much easier than reforming.

As in: The repressive regime in Israel is terrorizing the peace-loving Palestinians.
Meaning: Blaming Jews is tried and true.

we've got to do SOMETHING
As in: Maybe it won't work, but we've got to do SOMETHING.
Meaning: You can't make me think in terms of cause and effect -- more of what caused the problem is sure to fix it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Scrabbling My Brains Out

Oh bay-bah, you wear me out. I just can't take any more -- I am totally spent!

(And best of all -- I won both games!)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Top Ten Disadvantages of an Empty Nest

The question "Where shall we dine out?" lacks the decisive tie-breaking vote.

The milk bottle languishes in the fridge.

Mothering takes time to taper off.

The lawn mower misses its playmate.

The cat has assumed the duty of making sure we close our bedroom door.

The wife can't satisfy my need ... for Scrabble.

I can't satisfy my wife's need ... for conversation.

Our house is so empty and our prayer list is so full.

The question "Who clogged the toilet?" is no longer a mystery.

The kids' bedroom (whose laughter used to be heard throughout the house) is sulking.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

And Then There's Army Strong!

In the morning James is driving away. Yes, he's even taking all his socks and Legos -- but the Legos aren't for James. James is going to visit his big brother Andy in Dayton, Ohio before he reports to Fort Knox, KY. The Legos are for the granddaughter.

Two years ago James (while still a college student) went to Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, GA. The third and final week of jump school is called "jump week", when the trainees complete five parachute jumps. On his third jump James's eyeglasses were blown off his face when he exited the aircraft, so his fourth jump was from a fuzzy-looking airplane, and he landed on a very fuzzy world. Amazingly, the morning after that fourth jump a sergeant called out to the troops, asking if anyone had misplaced some spectacles. Sure enough the sergeant had somehow come across James's specs in the tall dry grass of that mile-long drop zone.

But prior to that fourth jump, while spectacle-less James was waiting to board a C-130 for that second jump, someone (unbeknownst to James) had filmed him and his fellow trainees in the hangar at Lawson Army Air Field. Perhaps you're thinking, "So if this filming was undetected by your visually impaired son, how do you know the filming happened?"

Well, I'm glad you asked. As always, there's a story behind this.

It so happened that few months after James completed Airborne School we were in a movie theater, watching those advertisements they play before the start of the film. This really great Army recruiting short appeared on screen. It had a really catchy little tune and inspiring pictures. We were impressed with how well produced the ad was. We later found the ad on YouTube and played it over and over and over. James said he thought he recognized one of the people in the add, so he did a freeze-frame and sure enough, this little lady in a helmet who turns her head to look at the camera was someone he'd attended Airborne School with. And upon studying the other folks in the frame he recognized a couple of his other buddies from Airborne School.

And then (surprise! surprise!) he recognized himself ... and in the film he's not wearing the glasses he wore while at Airborne School. So without any doubt, that two second clip of the Army recruiting ad was filmed on June 21st, 2006 -- between James's third and fourth jumps.

Here's the screen-capture from James's two seconds of fame:

And here's the entire recruiting film. (If you want to freeze the frame yourself, the shot of James and his buddies comes up about a minute into the ad, right after the dust storm.)

So despite James's just starting his military career, he's appeared in an Army recruiting film for well over a year now.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Today's Best Post

I know y'all have come milling around to gawk at this twisted wreck I call a blog, but the best post today is over THERE. Now move along folks -- nuthin' to see here.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Our Little Runaway

James: I don't want to go to church.

Dad: Well, I'm sorry to hear that. Now go get your shoes and I'll tie them for you.

James: {Toddling off to fetch his shoes from the bedroom} ... I don't want to go to church. {Returning with shoes in hand, grumbling to himself} I'm gonna run away. Yeah that's what I'll do - I'll run away!

Dad: That'll be fine; you can run away right after church.

Later (as we were driving home from church) I inquired, "James, are you still planning to run away from home?"

James: Oh uh, Yeah! I'm gonna run away. This'll be fun! C'mon Ben, let's run away.

Mom: Now, I don't want to pressure you one way or the other, but how about if you run away after lunch? You know, you wouldn't want to run away from home on an empty stomach.

James: Okay!

Dad: So where are you thinking about running off to?

James: The house with the rotten pumpkin that's drawn on.

Dad: Oh, well that's a good place. It's not too far and you can come visit us whenever you feel like it.

Now at this point in the story, James's destination of the house with the rotten pumpkin that's drawn on requires a bit of explanation. This runaway adventure happened sometime in November. As was our custom, that year for Halloween we'd carved jack-o-lanterns and put them out on the front porch to glower at the candy-gobbling goblins. The following day I'd placed the darkened pumpkins into the trash, but James was heart-broken about the disposal of our beautiful jack-o-lanterns. I explained (as best I could) that if we kept the pumpkins on display they'd just rot and draw bugs. He clearly didn't buy my lame argument, but there's little a four-year-old can do about big stubborn grown-ups.

Later that week James saw the fatal flaw in my rotten excuse for euthanizing the pumpkins. The neighbors across the street three houses down still had a big grinning pumpkin on display. (That house was also prone to darkened Christmas displays in February.) As we drove past the house with that pumpkin, James challenged me, "Look Dad, they still have their pumpkin out."

"Well yes they do, James. But you see, they didn't carve their pumpkin. They just took a grease pencil and drew a face on it. We could've done that, but that wouldn't have been near as much fun as digging all the slimy stuff out of the pumpkin." James readily conceded my point that merely drawing a face on a pumpkin wouldn't be much fun. Henceforth James never failed to point out the house with the rotten pumpkin that's drawn on whenever we drove past it. So, when James announced his intention to move into the house with the rotten pumpkin that's drawn on, I knew exactly where he meant. As for who lived in the house with ..., we weren't sure. They seemed like okay folks, but we'd never taken the trouble to meet them.

So right after lunch James and Ben dashed to their room and started loading their Radio Flyers with all the necessities of the vagabond life: Legos, socks, and ... well, that's pretty much it. As they pulled their precious cargo through the front door, I grabbed the camera and followed them down to the street. James seemed to hesitate as if having second thoughts about the new home he'd chosen, but by this point, events had a will of their own. Ben, age three, (who'd been following James's lead) had no such doubts and quickly moved to the lead before turning around and looking back to make sure James was still with him. James resolutely turned to face his destiny and I snapped a photo. Joyce and I bid the boys good-bye and they trundled off to their new life at the house with the rotten pumpkin that's drawn on.

I reassured Joyce: "I need to put the camera away. I'll be right back. Don't worry, I won't let them wander off." Then I dashed back into the house. When I returned curbside (with the boys fading into the wee distance - roughly 100 feet away), Joyce was getting more than a little fretful and said, "You let them out of your sight and you die."

So I walked briskly down the street and arrived at the front door of the house with the rotten pumpkin that's drawn on just in time to hear the resident telling James, "Well, maybe we ought to check with your parents..."

I quickly interjected, "You know, if James and Ben want to come visit Mom and me, they're always welcome. Maybe they could even spend the night."

The neighbor smiled and pushed open the screen door, "Oh, well in that case, come on in, boys. We're having liver and broccoli for supper."

Without a word James pivoted and dragged his wagon back out to the street. Ben mutely followed. I confided to the neighbor, "It's been nice meeting you, but I think the broccoli was the deal breaker." He laughed and we parted company - both with an improved opinion of our neighbors.

I stood street-side as James inquired at the door of Virgie, the near-deaf octogenarian across the street from our house. I couldn't hear James's side of the conversation, but Virgie very loudly replied, "What?"

James visited one more door and then Mom emerged from the house bearing treats and calling out, "James, Ben! I have Popsicles?" All thoughts of running away were abandoned, and thus our humble home continued to have its full complement of little boys.

But sadly, nothing in this life is permanent, and the day of James's departure is hard upon us. Today James begins packing his wagon (the Radio Flyer having morphed into a Toyota Tacoma) and in just a few days he'll run away to a place where neither broccoli nor Popsicle can compel his return.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Breakfast Companion

It looks like James had a friend drop by and join him for breakfast. But that's what friends are for.

Prayer Rules

Back when our boys were small, the dinnertime prayer was a big deal. Three-year-old James and two-year-old Ben competed for praying privileges, especially over the bountiful harvest from Domino's. (Apparently there's some unwritten rule that says the pizza still in the box isn't covered by the blessing of the food on the plates, and therefore with each new emergence from the cardboard, comes the requirement to issue a prayer amendment.)

As I grabbed a fresh slice, Ben (having already said the blessing twice himself) informed me that it was now my turn. I conceded his point, folded my hands, bowed my head and said, "Ready?"

He replied, "Set! ... Go!!!"

Friday, May 2, 2008

Fish Story

Okay, so it's actually a whale story and whales aren't fish and everyone's seen this, but still it's funny.

At Fort Benning some 33 years ago, we very green lieutenants were given some instruction in demolition and were allowed to play with C-4 a little -- at least enough that I understood about tamping (packing the explosive with some heavy backing in order to direct the explosion into the target object and thus maximize its effect). About half way through this video (as the reporter was saying, "... the dynamite was packed on the leeward side so as to blow most of the carcass out to sea"), I started laughing uncontrollably. But somehow these "demolition experts" never saw what was coming ...

... right up until the blubber shower started.